Search this blog

Dr. Kostenberger, thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule and before a trip overseas to answer a few questions for us about your book on The Missions of Jesus and the Disciples. (See yesterday’s post for an introduction to Dr. Kostenberger.)

1. This book grew out of your doctoral dissertation in 1993. Why were you interested in this topic? Is it still an interest of yours?

At the outset, I was intrigued by the apparent equation of Jesus' and his followers' mission ("As the Father sent me, so I am sending you") in light of the fact that Jesus is obviously unique. He is the "one and only Son" from God the Father; he came from heaven to earth; etc. In what sense, then, can it be said that the disciples are sent the way Jesus was sent? That was the question I set out to answer. And, yes, I am still interested in this question! See the chapter on mission in my recent book (co-authored with Scott Swain) Father, Son & Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel (IVP) and the chapter in the inaugural volume of the Biblical Theology of the New Testament series, A Theology of John's Gospel & Letters (Zondervan).

2.  In a couple sentences, what is the mission of Jesus in the gospel of John? Is the mission of the disciples the same as Jesus’ mission?

Essentially, there are three facets to Jesus' mission in John's Gospel: he is (1) the sent Son; (2) the one came into the world and returned to the place from where he came (descent-ascent); and (3) the eschatological Shepherd-teacher. The mission of the disciples is similar to Jesus' only with regard to his sending, that is, they are to emulate the obedient and faithful relationship Jesus sustained with the Father in their relationship with the exalted Jesus as they go about their mission.

3. You argue that “[T]he Fourth Gospel does therefore not appear to teach the kind of ‘incarnational model’ advocated by Stott and others” (217). Why are you critical of this approach? What are the exegetical problems? Is there a way we should be “incarnational” in our ministry?

The term that I think captures the nature of our mission according to John's gospel is "representational." That is, we are to re-present the message of redemption and eternal life in Jesus on the basis of the finished cross-work and resurrection of Christ. Clearly, John's Gospel presents Jesus' incarnation as utterly unique (read the introduction, 1:1-18!), so it is hard to conceive of John teaching an "incarnational model" in which the disciples share in Jesus' incarnation in some way. Remember, my doctoral dissertation was just on John's Gospel, and so I only addressed and critiqued an "incarnational model" from John's vantage point. The major implication from this kind of "representational" model, then, is that we are to focus on the gospel message, not the messengers, and pass that message on faithfully and accurately in our mission to the world.

4. You also say “the church ought to be focused in the understanding of its mission” (219). Why is this focus important? When it comes to the church’s mission, what should be the focus?

As I said at the end of my answer to the previous question, there ought to be a focus on the salvation message of the gospel. In keeping with John's own purpose statement, our purpose should be to bring others to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that they pass from death into life (5:24) and have eternal life. You see in John this single-minded focus on faith, whether in the pivot of the introduction (1:12) or at John 3:16. Maintaining a gospel focus will help the church avoid elevating secondary matters to primary importance and getting sidetracked from its primary mission.

5. Besides your books, what are some other works giving “a biblical theology of mission” that you recommend?

I very much like portions of Chris Wright's book The Mission of God, even though it is a bit lopsided in dealing predominantly with the Old Testament (which makes sense in that Wright is an Old Testament scholar, but in the overall scheme of things, I would put more proportional weight in the biblical theology of mission on the New Testament than Wright has done). I also have the highest regard for Eckhard Schnabel's 2-volume work Early Christian Mission and his book on Paul the missionary.

6. I’ve learned a lot from your exegetical and theological work. What new projects are your working on?

My current project is a book on academic excellence, to be published by Crossway. I also have a forthcoming hermeneutics text, due out with Kregel in the spring of next year. More imminent is the publication of two new books, the 2d edition of God, Marriage & Family (about to be released) and The Heresy of Orthodoxy (co-authored with Michael J. Kruger, to be published at the end of June). Thank you very much, Kevin, for allowing me to share some of my thoughts with you and your readers, and every blessing for your ministry.

View Comments


16 thoughts on “Interview with Andreas Kostenberger”

  1. Derek Ashton says:


    Great interview! Dr. Kostenberger was at my church a few weeks ago, he has the mind of a scholar and the heart of a disciple. His comments about focusing on the Gospel message are important in today’s larger Evangelical missions community, where we can become so focused on us “incarnating” that we forget to mention HE incarnated uniquely for us with the purpose of making atonement for our sins in a unique and unrepeatable way.

    Derek Ashton

  2. Graham says:

    I find this issue about how we should be missional very intriguing and it would seem to be extremely important to the issues of today. Formerly being involved in missions at the university level, there seems to be more and more emphasis on this incarnational model then the representational model.
    Kevin, I thought your comments about the missional book a few weeks ago interesting but bridging on swinging too far the other way.. though I guess that is the nature of a critique. I thoroughly enjoyed the way you clarified your position in the last few blogs on these two missional approaches. This subject is pertinent to the preservation of the gospel. Keep contending!

  3. We are to focus on the gospel message, not the messengers, and pass that message on faithfully and accurately in our mission to the world.


  4. Toby Kurth says:

    We are about a year into a church plant in San Francisco and I can honestly say that this book has helped me more than anything else I have read in thinking through the mission of the Christ and his church. Add to that Kostenberger’s commentary on John and his work has contributed more to the foundation of our church than any other scholar. I highly commend both. Thank you Dr. Kostenberger!

  5. PaulDz says:

    We are failing to split our hairs properly by missing that incarnation is not the same as incarnational. Since incarnational is an adj. and not the noun we are saying that ministry should be incarnation-like. Yes, Jesus’ incarnation was unique and we are not called at all to repeat the incarnation. But we are called to take the new life we have in Jesus and show it to everyone by behaving like Jesus.

  6. Hello there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when viewing from
    my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able
    to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions,
    please share. With thanks!

    my blog post – Pool Live Tour Hack (

  7. iphone 6 says:

    first_paragraphUsing sympathy verses for sympathy cards can make your condolence much more thoughtful and unique. Sympathy verses are also great for handmade sympathy cards. Plus you’ll save time not having to search for the perfect sympathy card. You can simply hand write a sympathy verse into a blank condolence card and then sign your name. Handmade sympathy cards are: A hand-written message in blue or black ink is so much more personal than a generic sympathy card. Handmade cards are always special, but when it comes to expressing sympathy, it is especially caring to create your own sympathy card. Finding the perfect sympathy card wording is a little easier if you use a sympathy verse. If you are artistic enough to make your own card, all you have to do is add a special verse.Thank you notes can be written on nice paper or a simple card. Thank you cards are readily available in any stationary store, all you need to do is add a short note and send it off. This can be particularly helpful for anyone who doesn`t have much time on their hands.This technology will allow your information to remain private and protected every time you access your online account. When you’ve opted for a company that features an online service for signing up so that you can check if you have received any new mail, make sure you inquire if the company makes use of a technology that allows encryption of delicate information for online transactions. Make certain that the forwarding service you select will implement a secure method that not simply protects your mail but properly handles them also.Contact a professional florist and you will find a variety of specially designed bouquets and arrangement suitable for the occasion. While the above mentioned tasks are helpful, what do you when your friend lives far away? Sending flowers is an excellent way to show someone how much you care and sympathize.You will not only annoy your client, but also end up losing another lucrative project that is in the pipeline. Get Apt SpecificationsWhen a client explains the project specifications, do not forget to take a note of all points. For example, if he specifies using minimalism in creating a brochure, then forgetting that would imply annoying your him. There is nothing more harrowing than doing a rework on the same project. Else, you will forget things and include colors or styles that your client doesn’t want.Sending flowers that will be used during the service itself typically calls for a more formal approach, so consider white roses, dark crimson roses or white lilies, however you can feel free to add a touch of color for a little more cheer.Just for this easy card trick, a couple of packs of playing cards are needed, one among which needs to be set up according to just about any system that you could know about. Make sure you subsequently select a particular person form the audience and immediately ask them to shuffle one pack, while you falsely shuffle the other pack, which has been previously set up.On our path of forgiveness, we live a generous life full of empathy, compassion, humor, and joy. We begin to commune with ourselves and each other, because we no longer construct walls between “the good people” and “the bad people”.While technology has given the gift of efficiency and accuracy to our writing, it cannot provide a truly personal touch. These are the moments when e-mail just won’t do. It is the handwritten messages that we remember most – the stack of love letters, the yearbooks filled with the wisdom of 18 year-old high school graduates, cherished letters of encouragement received during the uncertainty of college, notes of gratitude for kindness shown, and the offer of sympathy and hope to others in times of loss.It’s difficult to say something comforting in this time when nobody really wants to speak, and it’s also a puzzle to find the perfect timing to do so. Before someone else you’re dear with passes away, it’s best to learn how to make a sympathy card. When a person dies, it is not hard for the deceased family only but those who are willing to comfort them.It doesn`t have to be anything complicated, though. Sympathy, funeral flowers, unlike sympathy cards or notes, do indicate the need to send out a thank you. So, keep it short and sweet, just a couple of lines in a thank you card, and people will know that you appreciated their thoughtfulness. You shouldn`t have to stress over the response to sympathy at this point, when you have so many other things to focus on.Also, avoid being at all insincere. website also has lists of Phrases to Avoid for sympathy sayings or words of sympathy. Words like that can sometimes hurt more than they help because no one can truly know what another person is feeling about anything, especially the death of someone dear.As technology helps us communicate more quickly and easily with e-mail and text messaging, there will forever remain a place for the personal and intimate touch that only handwriting can give. The beauty of communication is that there is room for all kinds.Here is my website – sympathy notes (

  8. fantasy says:

    Great blog.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  9. Thank you for any other informative web
    site. Where else could I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal approach?
    I have a project that I’m simply now running on, and
    I’ve been at the glance out for such info.

  10. Only a smiling visitant here to share the love
    (:, btw outstanding style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Search this blog


Kevin DeYoung photo

Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

Kevin DeYoung's Books