The Return of the Kingdom: A Biblical Theology of God's Reign, By Stephen G. Dempster alt

The Return of the Kingdom

A Biblical Theology of God's Reign

Essential Studies in Biblical Theology

by Stephen G. Dempster

The Return of the Kingdom
  • Length: 232 pages
  • Published: March 19, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 4293
  • ISBN: 9780830842933

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The biblical story begins and ends with God as king. Human beings rebel, however, rather than fulfilling their royal calling to rule creation on behalf of their Sovereign—and the world became enslaved to the rule of a dark, serpentine lord.

In this volume of IVP Academic's Essential Studies in Biblical Theology, Stephen Dempster traces the themes of kingship and kingdom throughout Scripture, illuminating the challenges, pain, and ultimate hope that the Bible offers. The story of God’s kingship is ultimately the fulfillment of a promise, a promise to restore the rightful rule of humanity over creation by defeating sin and death and to establish a world of peace and justice.

Essential Studies in Biblical Theology (ESBT), edited by Benjamin L. Gladd, explore the central or essential themes of the Bible's grand storyline. Taking cues from Genesis 1–3, authors trace the presence of these themes throughout the entire sweep of redemptive history. Written for students, church leaders, and laypeople, the series offers an introduction to biblical theology.

"This succinct volume brims with fresh textual observations and insightful canonical connections. Drawing from a deep well of thoughtful study, Dempster skillfully shows that the reign and return of the king is not only a central theme in redemptive history but also a strategic summary of the Bible's unfolding story line. This biblical theology of God's kingdom is a gift."

Ched Spellman, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Cedarville University

"This very readable survey of the Christian Bible captures its historical sweep and rich complexity without losing sight of the major themes and movements that structure God's Word and works. Dempster's study is solidly grounded in careful interpretation of the biblical text and smoothly integrated in his narrative such that the reader's understanding grows in depth and breadth across the volume. Complemented by discussion questions that draw out insights from each chapter with an eye to contemporary issues and faith in action, this is a well-rounded work of biblical theology that promises to inform and transform the reader."

Daniel Timmer, professor of biblical studies at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and professor of Old Testament at the Faculté de Théologie Évangélique in Montreal

"In The Return of the Kingdom, Dempster traces with consummate skill the theme of the reign of God, following the canonical structure of Scripture and what is key to its storyline. This book brims with exegetical and biblical-theological insights artfully communicated for beginner and expert alike. It must rank among the very best in contemporary writing on the kingdom of God; I enthusiastically recommend it."

Peter J. Gentry, distinguished visiting professor of Old Testament and senior research fellow of the Text and Canon Institute at Phoenix Seminary

"In this delightful handbook Stephen Dempster takes his readers on a royal tour of the Christian Scriptures. He invites us to picture the Bible as a royal garden consisting of vast variety of trees whose foliage and fruit stimulate all our senses as we pass by. As he leads us through this literary paradise, he highlights its major structural features and theological themes, but he adds color and brilliance to the picture with exegetical nuggets and gemstones that leave us in awe of this place. Of course, this thousand-year-old literary enterprise was not about the canon itself, any more than the empire of Great Britain was about Buckingham Palace. Here our tour guide introduces us to the Creator of this universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, incarnate in Jesus Messiah. While much of the Scriptures are taken up with the failures of his images (whether as humans generally or Israel specifically) to live up to their vicegeral status, above and beyond all cosmic history we see the One enthroned overall. For the context of our degraded, conflicted, angry, and deluded environment, this book offers hope and heightens our excitement at the prospect of the imminent return of the King. Hallelujah, what a Savior!"

Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Wheaton College

"Dempster makes biblical theology come alive in this engaging book. A trusted guide, he takes readers through the Bible's dramatic, true story of the restoration of God's perfect rule over creation with human beings as his vicegerents and priests. As Dempster points out, this kingdom often appears to be upside-down in comparison to the kingdoms of this world. Insightful and accessible, this book both instructs us about God's kingdom and rightly exhorts us to live in light of its consummation."

Kevin S. Chen, professor of Old Testament at Christian Witness Theological Seminary and author of The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch

"Stephen G. Dempster has gifted the untutored Christian with an understanding of the story line of the Bible and how all its parts contribute to that story, succinctly captured in the book's title, The Return of the Kingdom. It's a magisterial presentation. But his gift is also for those most educated in that story. Rarely do I want to pick up a book again after having read it. I will pick up The Return of the Kingdom many times. I enthusiastically commend it to all who hope for Christ's return or are without hope."

Bruce K. Waltke, professor emeritus of biblical studies, Regent College, Vancouver, and distinguished professor emeritus at Knox Theological Seminary

"In this wonderful book, Stephen Dempster summarizes and renarrates the biblical narratives from Genesis to Revelation showing how they all interlace with one another looking forward to the first and second coming of Christ the Servant-King. Through a comprehensive survey of kingdom allusions in the Scriptures, he demonstrates the will of God to establish his gracious and compassionate rule and reign on the earth and Jesus as the One who fulfills this will. In addition, Dempster brings many, many years of scholarship and pastoral wisdom into his readings that bring fresh and welcome insights into well-known stories. This should be compulsory reading for all students of the Scriptures."

Lucy Peppiatt, principal of Westminster Theological Centre and author of Rediscovering Scripture's Vision for Women

Read an Excerpt


Series Preface
Introduction: The Return of the Kingdom: The Biblical Theology of God’s Reign

1. The Big Picture: The Bible’s Bookends
2. The Kingdom Begun: Genesis and Kingship
3. Kingdom Come
4. The Loss of the Kingdom: Enemy in the Garden
5. Kingdom Restoration Begins: Adam to Abraham
6. The Patriarchal Narratives and the Kingdom of God, Part 1: Abraham and Life over Death
7. The Patriarchal Narratives and the Kingdom of God, Part 2: Jacob and Blessing over Curse; Joseph and Good over Evil
8. Exodus–Deuteronomy, Part 1: Exodus and the Beginning of a Nation
9. Exodus–Deuteronomy, Part 2: Leviticus–Deuteronomy and the Establishment of a Nation
10. The Former Prophets: Kingdom Growth and Decline
11. The Latter Prophets: The Once and Future Kingdom
12. The Writings, Part 1: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature—Kingdom Prayer, Kingdom Life, Kingdom Hope
13. The Writings, Part 2. Daniel–Chronicles—Waiting for the Kingdom
14. The Center of the Biblical Storyline, Part 1: The Gospel of Matthew
15. The Center of the Biblical Storyline, Part 2: The Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John
16. Kingdom Expansion and Community: Acts and the Letter Collections
17. Grand Finale and Kingdom Come: Revelation and the Present

Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Stephen Dempster

Stephen G. Dempster is emeritus professor of religious studies at Crandall University, and author of numerous publications including Dominion and Dynasty and the Two Horizons Commentary on Micah.