For many students at the London School of Theolgy, Stephen Motyer has been one of those lecturers who infuses the rigorous academic demands of biblical scholarship with a lively, engaging and sincere faith in the Gospel reality of Jesus Christ as Lord; the reality to which scripture ultimately testifies. In Come Lord Jesus! Motyer presents a compelling examination of the biblical theology of the second coming of Jesus.
What makes Motyer’s approach to this topic so interesting is the dogged determination to focus exclusively on the second coming itself, rather than trying to fit it into a pre-determined or pre-conceived interpretative scheme along the lines of the pre- or post-millennial eschatological positions. As interesting as these schemes may be, Motyer’s hermeneutical convictions are to allow the 14 selected passages speak for themselves, interacting with and developing one another. Leaving much else of the common eschatological fare as peripheral to the discussion enables a profound illumination of the biblical witness to the significance of the second coming; not only for the biblical writers but also for the faith of the Church as she confesses Christ as Lord.
Moyer’s exposition of the passages starts with the 89th and 90th Psalms, before working his way through Daniel 7 and into the New Testament. Whilst the focus is on the second coming, there’s an investigation into a biblical theology of time, which proves helpful later in distinguishing, in so far as one can and should, the literal and metaphorical aspects of the apocalyptic visions and teachings of the second coming. Moving into the New Testament, Motyer examines select passages from the Gospels, Acts, Romans 11, 1 Corinthians 15, the letters to the Thessalonians, Hebrews, 2 Peter and Revelation. Throughout these passages he engages with a variety of scholars from Augustine to Martin Luther, and Moltmann through to NT Wright. With the latter in particular, he extols works and comments which deserve recognition and praise, whilst respectfully and gently supplanting his own measured observations where Wright, with his own methodological convictions, seems to impose difficulties into interpretation which don’t necessarily need to be so. Wright is not alone in receiving this gracious treatment as elsewhere Ernest Best, Gordon Fee and Andrew Perriman are also drawn into similarly mannered discussions.
In addition to the clarity of purpose and the well-handled engagement with scholars, Motyer writes with a worshipful sense of joy lending an inspiring and encouraging tone to the work. At one point he says of a passage that: “Wow! Is the best response to this (though not very literary).” He also brings a personal touch to the discussion, using the example of his mother, who died in 2010, when talking about how Christians think about ‘where’ (and ‘when’) departed loved ones are ‘now’. At this point, and throughout the whole book, Motyer’s writing ‘bubbles with this spirit of worship’; accentuating academia with living faith to articulate clearly a biblical conception of the second coming.
Come Lord Jesus! may not have quite been the Bible Speaks Today volume that IVP anticipated when Motyer first started writing, nevertheless the volume has grown into a work deserving of its place on the shelves of both the scholar’s and the preacher’s theological libraries. As such I wouldn’t hesitate to commend it to all who wish to expand their understanding of, and faith in, the promised event of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Come Lord Jesus! – Stephen Motyer can be found here at Eden