Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity in John’s Gospel

Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel (New Studies in Biblical TheoloThe gy) by Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain is a worthwhile read for those interested in John or in studying the Trinity. It probably isn’t a book that a general reader who is looking for something to while away a long train journey would want to buy. It is a part of the IVP New Studies in Biblical Theology series – which is an increasingly worthwhile imprint (even if I find the silver covers a little annoying).

The opening section is on John’s Gospel and Jewish monotheism. There is nothing startling here, but it is essential background for the rest of the book.

This is followed by a long section on Biblical Foundations. This is basically an encyclopaedic discussion of every reference to the Father, Son and Spirit in the Gospel. It is impossible to avoid a feeling that this is a bit like reading a telephone directory. However, this section as a whole paints an good picture of John’s Trinitarian teaching. This sort of painstaking drawing together of Biblical evidence makes this a good reference book.

The final section is a series of theological reflections on the Biblical evidence. There will be no surprise that I found the chapter on mission to be the most interesting of these. I’ll finish this brief review with a couple of quotes.

… the triune mission field is not simply the renewed intellect or the sanctified heart but is instead the entire cosmos (John 3:16, 17:2). According to John, the scope of creation and redemption is the same ‘all things’ (John 1:3, 3:35). A fully fledged, trinitarian theology of creation and redemption, centered in the incarnate Son’s saving mission is thus indispensable to the church’s faithful proclamation of the gospel. (p.160)

… the church’s mission to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and to draw all peoples into the triune fellowship is wholly dependent upon the unique mission of the Son who descended to die and ascended to reign that he might baptize his people with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33) (p.161)

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