Nicholas Perrin. The Kingdom of God: A Biblical Theology. Biblical Theology for Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019. 272 Pages. $29.99 (paperback).
The Biblical Theology for Life series by Zondervan looks to bridge the world of the biblical text with the world in which we now live. Each volume uses a three-part framework: the main question, an answer to this question, and relevant applications. In The Kingdom of God, author Nicholas Perrin, president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL, addresses one of the toughest questions posed by Jesus: “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?” (Luke 13:18).
In his opening chapter, Perrin surveys relevant material from theologians such as Albert Schweitzer, Johannes Weiss, and N. T. Wright, showing the great divergence of perspectives about the kingdom of God. It is into this chorus of voices that Perrin presents “the kingdom of God” as a “liturgical reality rooted in creation, given expression in human history through the successive covenants, and decisively actualized through John the Baptizer and then Jesus” (p. 33). The immanence of the kingdom is resolved when it is viewed as actualized by Jesus and lived out by his followers in anticipation of his return.
Perrin moves quickly from this survey to a biblical-theological analysis of the relevant data from Scripture, focusing on Jesus as the key to the kingdom’s inauguration and propagation. This most clearly comes to the fore in chapter 5, where Perrin demonstrates that Jesus, at his baptism, fulfills three different story lines: “the story of David, the story of Moses, and the story of Isaac” (p. 104). Jesus, as the new David, is a warrior king who conquers his enemy Beelzebub (Mark 3:20-30), unites his people, and suffers on their behalf. As the new Moses, Jesus redeems his people from the bondage of sin and gives them a new covenant (Mark 14:24). As the new Isaac, Jesus offers atonement for his people (Mark 14:32–42) and is the heir (Mark 12:7).
While there is no shortage of biblical theologies focused on the theme of the kingdom of God, this book offers a unique study of the kingdom and its inauguration through the fulfillment of Old Testament promises regarding its king, Jesus Christ. Following the series format, Perrin also provides readers with tangible ways to live in the kingdom of God today, thereby showing the here-and-now element of Jesus’s proclamation. According to Perrin, “the scope of the kingdom goes all the way back in time to the moment of creation and extends in space across the nations” (237). Therefore, Christians must see “Jesus’s assumption to the throne through suffering and death” not only as a confirmation of the arrival of the kingdom but also as a model for them to follow. Overall, this volume is a helpful guide to seeing the promises of the kingdom fulfilled in the person of Christ. It is best suited for the undergraduate classroom or an advanced church Bible study.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. CBS book notices are not full academic book reviews. The present book notice was written by Eddie LaRow, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.