Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics -- By: Graeme Goldsworthy

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:2 (Summer 2006)
Article: Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics
Author: Graeme Goldsworthy

Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics

Graeme Goldsworthy

Graeme Goldsworthy is a minister of the Anglican Church of Australia and has served in churches in Sydney and Brisbane. He lectured at Moore Theological College, Sydney, in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics. Now retired, he continues as a visiting lecturer at Moore College to teach a fourth-year B.D. course in Evangelical Hermeneutics. He is the author of several books, including Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Eerdmans, 2000), According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (InterVarsity, 2002), and Prayer And The Knowledge Of God: What The Whole Bible Teaches (InterVarsity, 2005).


I have found that many Christians have as their first or main question to put to any passage of the Bible, “What does it tell us about ourselves?” They might sometimes start with, “What does it tell us about God?” But that soon takes second place to the more self-indulgent questions. This may, of course, be generated by a commendable conviction that the Scriptures are practical, and by a desire to live lives that are pleasing to God. Or it may be a habit born from the correct perception that the Scriptures are indeed God’s way of teaching us about ourselves. But the perspective or main focus is back-to-front. Such an approach usually fails to ask exactly how it is that God uses Scripture to teach us about ourselves. Is it by law or by gospel? When Jesus referred to the Scriptures of the Old Testament he said of Moses, “he wrote about me.” He said of the Scriptures as a whole, “they testify of me.”1 His main concern was to show the disciples the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25–27, 44), so that his emphasis was that the Scriptures are first and foremost about him. And this emphasis is linked with Jesus opening their minds to understand the Scriptures (v. 45). Why is our emphasis often so different?

It needs to be said at the outset that the Bible does indeed tell us a lot about ourselves. In fact, it is the only reality check that is available to us in ultimate terms. The hermeneutic question for us all, however, is “how does it speak of us and how do we receive instruction for living from it?” When Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” (

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