Redemptive history is a general term to describe the study of God's acts of redemption from creation to the present. Although a broad field of study, all of redemptive history can be said to climax and culminate in the Cross, encompassing Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus the central focus
Ephesians 3:11 speaks of God's "eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord" (ESV). The Greek word for "purpose" is in the singular, noting that God has one overarching purpose or plan. Furthermore, it is described by Paul as "eternal" in that there was never a time when God's purpose was not determined. Lastly, Jesus is essential to this purpose since it was accomplished in him. This can be linked back to Ephesians 1:9-10 where Paul writes, "making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." Jesus is thus the climax and central focus of God's eternal purpose in all of redemptive history.
The church is also a main focus in God's eternal purpose. Before Paul states that "this was according to the eternal purpose", he writes "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers nad authorities in the heavenly places" and then proceeds to say that "this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11). The church is connected to what Christ did to accomplish God's eternal purpose. Elsewhere Paul says that Christians were "called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28), and that "having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11), and lastly that God "saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began" (2 Timothy 1:9). God's purpose involves the church as the church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
- J. C. von Hofmann (1810-1877)
- Geerhardus Vos (1862 - 1949)
- Klaas Schilder (1890 - 1952)
- Herman N. Ridderbos (1900 - present)
- Oscar Cullmann (1902 - 1999)
- Charles G. Dennison (1945 - 1999)