Andreas J. Köstenberger.
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. 271 pp.
Review by Dr Aquila Lee
Review by Dr Aquila Lee
is a revision of the author’s doctoral dissertation under the supervision of
Prof. D. A. Carson on the concept of mission in John’s Gospel, but with a
clear attempt to form a biblical theology of mission applicable to the
contemporary Church. The author is convinced that “A church that is unsure
of its mission will not be effective in carrying it out. In a day when the
church at large has a confused understanding of its mission, a return to a
thorough study of Scripture is necessary” (p.219).
John’s Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples as the Father sent him
(17:18; 20:21). The book thus attempts to provide an answer to the question
whether the missions of Jesus and of the disciples are to be seen as being in
continuity or discontinuity with each other. One of the methodological
strengths of this book lies in its attempts to study all of the significant
words and concepts (e.g., send, come, go, become, descend, ascend, leave,
follow, bring, gather, work, do, sign, harvest, bear fruit) that bear on the
topic rather than just a few obvious words related to mission.
having surveyed all the major works on the subject in the last thirty years
(Chapter 1) and dealt with linguistic, definitional, and literary matters
(Chapter 2), the author turns to the actual study of the missions of Jesus and
of the disciples in the following two chapters. He first analyses John’s
conception of Jesus’ mission, and his conclusion at the end of Chapter 3 is
threefold. First, Jesus was sent from the Father to do his Father’s will.
Jesus is seen as a model of the dependent servant who has an intimate
relationship with the Father through obedience to his will. Second, Jesus is
the one who has come from the Father and is returning to him. That return to
the Father is through the supreme act of obedience via his death on the cross.
Finally, Jesus’ mission is seen in his eschatological role of
shepherd/teacher who calls his followers to the same kind of fruit-bearing
that he has demonstrated. These three roles of Jesus combine together to form
his mission as the Messiah.
Chapter 4 the author turns his attention to the mission of the disciples.
While observing certain aspects of continuity, he correctly notes that the
evangelist draws a line between the mission of Jesus and that of the disciples
even in the terminology that he uses. While John restricts certain
mission-related vocabulary to Jesus (e.g., “descend,” ascend,”
“signs”), other terms are used only of the disciples (e.g., “follow”).
He also concludes that the original disciples are to be seen as representative
of later generations of believers and their mission as the mission of the
Church today. These observations seem to be rather obvious, but have important
author carefully distinguishes between Jesus’ mission and that of the
disciples. The latter is framed in language parallel to the former, but with a
different focus. As Jesus was sent to do the will of the Father who sent him,
so the disciples are sent to do the will of the one who sends him (Jesus).
While both Jesus and the disciples are given the honour of mission “works”
in this Gospel, and Jesus wants his disciples to continue his own mission by
bearing faithful witness to him and to his uniqueness, it is only Jesus who
does “signs” in this Gospel, and it is only Jesus who uniquely reveals and
redeems. In essence, the mission of the disciples is to follow Jesus by first
coming to him, and then bearing fruit in their lives and witness for him.
Fruitbearing is accomplished primarily by developing the two characteristics
of love and unity.
who are more interested in missiology than a biblical study of mission in the
Fourth Gospel will be especially interested in the concluding chapter,
“Implications for the Mission of the Contemporary Church.” Here the author
critiques the “incarnational model,” advocated by John Stott and others,
which “sees Christ as present in the church so that the church can fashion
its mission after the model provided by Jesus during his earthly ministry”
(p.3). To be sure, this model focuses more on the continuity between Jesus’
mission and the church’s mission. Köstenberger thinks that his study gives
support to the “representational model, which “acknowledges the uniqueness
of Jesus’ person and work while viewing the primary task of his disciples as
witnessing to Jesus. While Jesus can be said to ‘give life’ in a
primary sense, the disciples’ contribution is limited to their witness”
book thus arrives at the conclusion that John’s Gospel presents the model
for the mission of the disciples “Not the way in which Jesus came into the
world (i.e., the incarnation), but [from] the nature of Jesus’
relationship with his sender (i.e., one of obedience and utter dependence)
. . . Jesus’ followers are called to imitate Jesus’ selfless devotion in
seeking his sender’s glory, to submit to their sender’s will, and to
represent their sender accurately and know him intimately” (p.217). One of
the lessons we learn from this book is that however urgent and pressing the
needs and circumstances may be, the agenda for the world mission needs to be
set in relation to Jesus’ mission.
are the Peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
Rev Steven Gan on
of sharing on Matthew 5:9
speaker on 31 August will be Mr Peter Lim (DipCS, 2005).
31 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 2nd floor
are welcome to attend.
2 Rev Ng Seng Chuan:
‘Speech Skills for Effective Communication in Christian Ministry’
9 Dr. Quek Swee Hwa:
'Why Study Theology'
16, 23, 30, & Oct 7 : Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be giving four
studies in the Song of Songs.
A Blessed Birthday to ...
Tan-Heng Siang Hoon 29/8
Ruth Hing 29/8
Rosalind Teo 30/8
Theresa Liew 30/8
Nancy Haryanto 31/8
Sophia Yap 1/9
Lim Bee Lum 2/9
Lau Pak Soon 3/9
Leong Weng Kam 3/9