*This is not a definitive answer on the topic but I hope it is useful food for thought.

Hebrews: Hold Fast to the Hope

The full question:

Illustrate from Hebrews how pastoral and practical goals are reached through biblical and theological arguments.


The book of Hebrews is a book that achieves its pastoral and practical goal of encouraging and exhorting perseverance in the faith through biblical and theological arguments. There are a number of unknowns in considering much of the background information yet some reasonable conclusions can be drawn from the text and the context. A number of the needs of the audience can be drawn from what the author states and it seems as though the preacher’s desire is for his listeners to hold fast to the hope they have confessed. The multiple methods employed to achieve this desire are vast yet the dominant focus is Christ, the sacrificial high priest of a new covenant.

1. Introduction

The book of Hebrews is a deeply theological masterpiece with an intention to change the hearts of its readers.[1] As a ‘word of exhortation’ (Heb. 13:22)[2] this book contains ‘arguably the greatest Christian sermon ever written down’.[3] Thereby it should not be surprising to find pastoral and practical goals that are reached through biblical and theological arguments. As Milligan concurs, ‘the doctrinal and the practical are intermingled throughout’.[4] The author has been ranked with Paul and John as ‘one of the greatest theologians in the New Testament’.[5] Sadly this God-given book can be a struggle to comprehend and ‘the result has been neglect’.[6] Yet it is this book that so wondrously provides hope and purpose to persevere until the end, looking to Jesus. In the words of Calvin, ‘let us therefore not allow the Church of God or ourselves to be deprived of so great a benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it’.[7] With the limited amount of words for this paper it is only possible to scratch the surface of the riches of Hebrews. What will be discovered more fully is how the author uses biblical and theological arguments to achieve pastoral and practical goals. This will be accomplished by briefly considering the necessary background information to assist in understanding this book, by noting the major pastoral and practical goals of the author and finally by examining some of the chief biblical and theological arguments that accomplish pastoral aims.

2. Background Information

The book of Hebrews is quite unique in its mysterious quality with much of the background knowledge being inconclusive. There are a number of possibilities that can be reasonably asserted from the text yet it is difficult to affirm without a shadow of a doubt. The author of Hebrews has been disputed throughout Church history. There are many suggestions yet it appears as though the author of this epistle is unknown.[8] Today the writer seems anonymous, yet at the time he was very well known by his readers stating his separation from them (Heb 13:19), how he wishes to see them (13:23) and calling his audience ‘beloved’ (6:9). The people to whom the sermon-letter is addressed also remains up for conjecture. The location is not quite as important due to the fact that ‘few exegetical issues depend on determining the geographic location of the addresses’.[9] The audience is most likely Jewish Christians living in Rome.[10] As to the time it was written the most probable date is around AD 64.[11] Although there is some variance to the specifics for the purpose of the book[12], it seems clear from Hebrews itself that it was written urging Christians ‘to maintain their confession (e.g., 3:6, 14; 4:14; 10:23)’.[13] It is to this topic of the pastoral and practical goals that we will now consider.

3. Pastoral and Practical Goals

The Christians that the book of Hebrews addresses appear to be struggling in a number of areas. Some may have begun to wonder ‘why God’s people suffer insult, rejection and persecution’.[14] They have endured ‘a hard struggle with sufferings’ (Heb 10:32), at times they have been publically humiliated (10:33), some have been imprisoned (10:34) and their goods have been confiscated by ‘unlawful robbery’[15] (10:34). Verses abound where the author is compelling the readers to persevere (cf. 2:3; 3:6, 12-14; 4:1, 11 etc.). It seems clear that the author fears his readers will become such people as the seed sown on rocky ground (Mark 4:5f.).[16] Another factor that may have been contributing to their lack of fervency is a ‘delay of the Parousia[17] for ‘which they were not prepared’.[18] Some had even begun to neglect ‘to meet together’ (10:25). There is also the goal of enlightening the author’s recipients to a clearer understanding of a number of essential elements ‘because they did not as yet clearly understand the end, the effect, and the advantages of His coming, but being taken up with a false view of the Law, they laid hold on the shadow instead of the substance.’[19] The pastoral and practical needs of these Christians could be seen as a mixture of: disillusionment in the face of persecution; an impatience for Christ’s return; a spiritual lethargy; a lack of comprehension or forgetfulness of the faith they have confessed. Each of these difficulties may be summed up as dangers of drifting away from Christianity. The preacher’s answer and greatest desire is to exhort and encourage his listeners to hold fast to the faith. How does the author accomplish this? In the next section, which makes up the majority of this paper, this question will be considered by touching on some of the biblical and theological arguments found in the book of Hebrews.

4. Biblical and Theological Arguments

The preacher of Hebrews uses a wide array of methods to obtain his ultimate aim of compelling the audience to persevere in the faith, to hold fast to their confession. As Peter Adam rightly points out and the author knows so well ‘the best form of Christian encouragement is a strong dose of theology and Bible teaching’.[20] Throughout this sermon-letter there is ‘promise, instruction, encouragement, warning and oath’[21] it is via these means that ‘God continues to address his living word, the Old Testament Scriptures, directly and urgently to his people, exhorting them to fix their eyes on Jesus’.[22] This is the key to persevering in the faith, a purely Christological emphasis. Jesus Christ is a major focus of the writer and a large section of this essay will be dedicated to what the author says about Christ. Other biblical and theological arguments that will be considered in this overview are the warnings he provides, how the author preaches from the Scriptures, the negative examples he uses and the hope he presents.

4.1 Warnings

Some of the most famous passages in Hebrews are the paraenetic sections. These are powerful biblical and theological arguments within the preacher’s arsenal. There are five paraenetic passages that ‘are integral to the letter to the Hebrews’[23] (Heb 2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6:12; 10:26-39; 12:25-29). Within these five warning passages they include three associated words of encouragement (4:1-13; 6:9-12; 10:32-39). There is much debate over these units and what apostasy actually means in regards to genuine believers.[24] Regardless of the interpretation, the use of these passages seems clear. They are to warn the readers of the dangers of turning away from the Christian faith and disregarding the author’s call to persevere.[25] It is important to note that along with these warnings there is clear evidence that the preacher of Hebrews knew that true believers have an assurance of eternal salvation. This can be seen in a number of passages: 6:9 that ‘affirms apostasy is not connected to salvation’[26]; 7:25 says, ‘he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them’; chapter nine talks about an eternal redemption (vs. 12) and an eternal inheritance (vs. 15) due to ‘the finality of Christ’s sacrifice (9:11-28; 10:14-18)’[27]. These are just a few of the examples that show the author knew salvation was God’s work yet ‘he is aware that God uses his promises and warnings to encourage those who are truly his people to persevere to the end’.[28] There is an important contrast that must be recognized with the writer’s theological arguments in the paraenetic passages: there is a difference, ‘between those who trusted in God and his promise and those who were connected to God only nominally, those who in truth resembled a fruitless field good only for being burnt (6:8)’.[29] There is much to say in each of these wonderful passages yet with such little space the important aspect of each of these passages is a reminder for the readers of the utmost importance of persevering until the end (3:6, 14). As O’Brien summarises it, ‘if they hold firmly to the end the confidence they had at first, then they show themselves to be true believers; but if not, their faith is spurious’.[30] These warnings are spread throughout the letter and are founded on the clear doctrine that the author knows so well. What powerful words the preacher uses to press his point home. Persevere until the end. Hold fast to the faith (6:12, 15; 10:22, 38; 11:1-40; 12:2; 13:7). Never give up. Run the ‘long-distance race with endurance’[31] (11:10; 12:1; 13:13-14).

4.2 Focuses on Christ

The letter to the Hebrews enriches the New Testament’s understanding of Christology.[32] Christ’s person and work is such a foundational element in this book ‘that many other themes in the author’s exposition and exhortation are organically related to it’.[33] By describing more of Christ, the preacher expects the listeners to be powerfully motivated to stay faithful. This is where the writer ‘makes his most distinctive and fully developed theological statements’.[34] What greater way for the readers to go on to maturity (Heb 6:1) and prevent them from falling away (6:6) than tell them of the uniqueness of Christ.[35] As Lehne puts it ‘clearly the author believes that in correcting and solidifying the readers’ grasp of Christ’s person and work he will help them combat…external and internal threats.’[36] In the very opening of Hebrews (1:1-4) there is a gripping description of God’s wondrous Son that sets up ‘the trajectory for the whole discourse’.[37] God has spoken in various ways in the past (1:1)[38] but in these last days God has spoken through his Son (1:2) who is the ‘heir of all things’ (1:2) through whom God ‘created the world’ (1:2). The descriptions continue ‘the radiance of the glory of God’ (1:3), ‘the exact imprint of his nature’ (1:3), ‘he upholds the universe by the word of his power’ (1:3), he made ‘purification for sins’ (1:3), ‘he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’ (1:3) and he is ‘much superior to angels’ (1:4). In these opening verses ‘the writer introduces his readers to the superior nature of the Son and also links what he is with what he has done’.[39] This is the beauty of Hebrews it describes two glorious aspects of Christ, his superiority and his work. It is by declaring these truths that the preacher seeks to achieve his pastoral goal of holding fast to the faith, looking to the all-supreme, ever-reliable Son of God (12:2; 13:8).

4.2.1 The Superiority of Christ

Jesus’ superiority is the key to Christianity being superior to any other options the readers were considering. His superiority pushes them to serve him eagerly and not begrudgingly. The preacher of Hebrews shows Jesus’s superiority to the angels (Heb 1:1-2:4), to Moses (3:1-6), to Joshua (4:1-10), to Levi (7:1-28) and to Aaron (7:1-28). All of the great leaders of the Jewish faith are inferior in comparison to the superiority of Christ.[40] The author points again and again to Christ being exalted to the right hand of God to push this point home even further (Heb 1:2, 13; 5:5; 7:26; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).

A significant part of Jesus’ superiority is his status as a superior high priest (Heb 7:1-28). This idea of Christ being a high priest is a major motif in Hebrews that is unique in the New Testament.[41] He is a ‘merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people’ (2:17), he is ‘a great high priest who has passed through the heavens’ (4:14; 8:1), a high priest who is able ‘to sympathize with our weaknesses’ (4:15), appointed by God (5:5), he stays the high priest forever (5:6; 6:20; 7:3, 17, 21), he is ‘such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens’ (7:26), he only needs to offer one sacrifice (7:27; 9:12; 10:12), he mediates a better covenant (8:6), a priest who sacrificed himself (9:26; 13:12), who makes it possible to draw near to God with confidence (10:21-22). As the great high priest, Jesus’ sacrifice is better than any other sacrifice. These two concepts are interrelated it is Christ’s sacrifice as the high priest that is sufficient for ‘atonement to be effected once and for all’.[42] As noted above in a number of verses Jesus sacrificed himself as the high priest and it was this act that made him a priest forever.[43] His crucifixion is the only way ‘anyone can find redemption’[44] (13:11-12). Christ’s sacrifice was the only one that could really bring access to God that the sacrifices of the Old Testament sought.[45]

Furthermore, because of the ‘unqualified supremacy of God’s Son…the covenant he has inaugurated is superior to any covenant that has preceded it’[46] (Heb 7:22; 8:6-13; 13:20). As Lehne points out ‘no commentator on Hebrews can afford to overlook the notion of the New Covenant, since it gives rise to the author’s insertion of the longest single quotation from the Hebrews Scriptures in the NT’.[47] The book of Hebrews accounts ‘for just over half the occurrences of diaqh,ch in the NT’.[48] ‘The central theme of Hebrews is the covenant-idea’.[49] As Vos points out it is interesting that the writer of Hebrews does not ‘apply the term Diatheke to that which was transacted between God and Abraham’.[50] It seems to be that Christ’s death is a divide between the old covenant and the new bringing something better based on better promises (8:6-13). Yet the Old Covenant still prefigures the new and provides a greater understanding of what is expected in the new (9:1, 18; 10:29). Jesus Christ is ultimately who the Old Testament has been pointing to all along. The history of God’s covenanting with his people all point to this ultimate covenant which Christ makes possible. As the superior Adam who sacrificed himself as an atonement, of which the animals could never be the real solution (10:4-7).[51]

This superior Christ is a superior high priest, a superior sacrifice and a superior mediator of a superior covenant. How could anyone turn away from Christianity when it is superior to anything else they could find? Why would anyone lack a desire to serve God’s superior Son? It is this superiority of Jesus that the preacher wishes to drive home to his struggling listeners so they persevere and hold fast to the faith.

4.2.2 The Work of Christ

Yet it is more than merely a superior Christ that saves them. This great high priest blazes ‘the trail for his people into heaven itself’[52] (Heb 4:14-16). The audience may be suffering (10:32) but Christ is the one who ultimately suffered (2:9, 10, 18; 5:8; 13:12). If he suffered surely those who follow him can then ‘go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God…do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God’ (13:13-16). As Towns and Gutierrez put it, ‘Jesus Himself was no stranger to suffering…He entered humanity to suffer in our place…as the author of Hebrews unfolds these truths, it becomes clear that we are not alone in our sufferings’.[53] In chapter five and verse seven the writer reminds his beloved friends that ‘in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence’. Yet the answer was not deliverance from death and suffering but resurrection (13:20-21).[54] This is a profound explanation that relates so well to the listeners’ circumstances.

Christ not only knows what it is to suffer, he has also endured temptation. Because of this he is able to ‘help those who are being tempted’ (3:17). Jesus is not distant and uncaring. Whenever his people are being tempted they can turn to the merciful and faithful high priest who ‘has suffered, knowing that he feels for us’.[55] The author repeats himself in 4:14-16 stating that they have ‘a high priest with an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with them in all dangers and sorrows and trials which come their way in life’.[56] Jesus could do all of this because he became like his ‘brothers’ (2:17). The great high priest was human and he endured all of these experiences as a human ‘yet he endured triumphantly every form of testing that mankind could endure’.[57] This is part of the reason why Hebrews is unique in its sustained ‘emphasis on both the perfect deity and the perfect humanity of Christ’[58]. For it was in human form that Christ sacrificed himself for people’s sins. Christ came and united ‘himself to unrighteous covenant-breakers’[59]. He is the fulfillment of the typical sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. He died once for all and it is complete (9:11-12, 24-26; 10:12). This typological approach to the events in the Old Testament is a key to the author of Hebrews.[60] The preacher takes Leviticus 16 and notes the repetitiveness required of these sacrifices (9:25) then shows how Christ appeared once for all.

Jesus’ work is also a stirring example of faith. He is the ‘climax of the examples of faith’[61] (Heb 11:1-12:2). What more an inspiring model to present than Christ’s faith who ‘was free to exempt Himself from all trouble and to lead a life of happiness full of all good things, nevertheless He submitted Himself voluntarily to a bitter and disgraceful death’.[62] This pioneer and completer[63] of ‘the act of faith which is required of the readers’[64] is the ultimate example they are to follow. This is why the author of Hebrews has continuously drawn his listener’s attention to Jesus’ faith and faithfulness (2:13, 17; 3:1-6; 4:15; 5:7-8; 10:5-7). Abraham endured (6:15), Moses endured (11:27) and Jesus endured (12:2) despite ‘fierce temptation and hostile opposition’.[65] How can any human endure in the faith with suffering and temptation? They must look to Christ focusing on Jesus their high priest as they ‘run with endurance the race that is set before’ them (12:1).

4.3 Preaches from the Scriptures

Another key aspect of the author’s line of reasoning to achieve his pastoral and practical goals is his clear understanding of the scriptures. He preaches from the Old Testament and assumes its ‘enduring validity’[66] (1:1; 3:7; 4:12; 13:7). The writer knows the Old Testament is relevant to their context.[67] As Harrington says, ‘if Hebrews is a sermon in written form, then the text on which this sermon is based is the Old Testament’.[68] The author has a Christological focus in his interpretation of the Old Testament texts yet according to Dale Leschert his interpretations are consistent with their intended sense according to ‘historical-grammatical hermeneutics’.[69] The extensive use of typology throughout the epistle is clearly emphasised by the author. The use of the word “type” is only twice in Hebrews (8:5, 9:24) yet ‘typology was his dominant way of applying Jewish Scripture to his contemporary audience.’[70] A significant example of this is Melchizedek presented as ‘the antitype of Christ’[71] (Heb 5:5-6, 10; 6:20; 7:1-28). The preacher knows the word of God is powerful (4:12) and convicting (4:13). It ‘must be received with faith or it is not likely to benefit the hearers, and it must be acknowledged by obedience’[72] (4:2, 6, 11). By bringing God’s Word to bear on the people listening, he is confident that the Scriptures are applicable to their situation and he applies them again and again. Much of the way he preaches includes ‘regular use of the first person plurals (‘we’ and ‘us’) in both the expository and exhortatory sections of the discourse’[73] by doing this he shows that the message he is preaching includes himself (cf. 2:1, 3; 3:6, 14; 4:14-16; 10:26; 12:1, 25; 13:14).

4.4 Uses Negative Examples

Two negative typological examples that the writer of Hebrews employs to further achieve his pastoral goals are the wilderness generation and Esau. In 3:7-4:13 the author points out the Israelite’s failure to urge his readers to persevere in the faith, having a believing heart, so that they may enter the rest that is promised. The preacher is warning them not to follow in their footsteps. Then there is the other negative example of Esau in 12:15-17 where Esau stands as a warning to all that would ‘put material or sensual advantages before their spiritual heritage’.[74] It appears as though the friends of the Hebrew author knew these stories well. As these historical events were so familiar, they would have had a greater impact on the readers. Urging them to hold fast to the faith and to never turn from this wonderful hope that is theirs.

4.5 Hope

So often throughout the book of Hebrews a note of hope sounds forth (Heb 3:6; 6:9-11, 18-19; 10:23). Tasker sees a need for the readers ‘to acknowledge and to experience once again this hope’ which is ‘an essential condition of the spiritual recovery of the readers of this Epistle’.[75] Calvin states the relationship between faith and hope is this, ‘just as hope is the child of faith so it is fed and sustained by faith to the end’.[76] To cling to the hope of what is to come is imperative in the mind of the Hebrew writer. After all ‘this epistle is forward-looking and offers glories to come which outshine the glories of the old order’.[77] Due to all of the persuasive statements that have come before the reference in Hebrews 10:23, the author is certain there is hope based on the ‘unfailing promise of God’.[78] God is faithful, thereby, they have hope to hold fast to their confession.

5. Conclusion

This vibrant sermon-letter shows deep pastoral concern. The author turns to the bible he knows so well and explores the spirit-inspired theology that is supportive and unique to the rest of the New Testament. He preaches from the Scriptures, offers hope, warns his readers of the dangers but most of all he points them to Christ. As Brown describes it superbly:

‘As a matter of the utmost importance, he has turned their eyes, not to themselves, hoping for sufficient inward strength, nor to their agonizing troubles, nor to their persecuting contemporaries, but to Christ. No believer can cope with adversity unless Christ fills his horizons, sharpens his priorities and dominates his experience.’[79]

Throughout this book there is continual reasoning that urges every reader to hold fast to the faith. It is ludicrous to turn away from everything that is offered in Christ. The book of Hebrews is a phenomenal writing that presents such strong biblical and theological arguments that has reached and continues to reach its pastoral and practical goal of persevering in the faith.

    1. Susanne Lehne, The New Covenant in Hebrews (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 44; Sheffield: JSOT Pr, 1990).

    2. This expression is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Acts 13:15 where it seems to be referring to a sermon as Craig Blomberg notes in From Pentecost to Patmos: Acts to Revelation (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2014). It seems right for Hebrews to be entitled as a ‘homily’ Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville, Tenn: B & H Academic, 2009), 678. Yet as Peter O’Brien points out, at the same time Hebrews ends with features that point to the document being a letter (13:19, 23, 24, 25) in his book God Has Spoken in His Son: A Biblical Theology of Hebrews (New Studies in Biblical Theology 39; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016). Thereby making Hebrews a sermon-letter.

    3. Daniel J. Harrington, What Are They Saying About the Letter to the Hebrews? (What Are They Saying About; New York: Paulist Press, 2005), 1.

    4. George Milligan, The Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews: With a Critical Introduction (Minneapolis: James Family Christian Publishers, 1978), 60.

    5. Barnabas Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews (New Testament Theology; Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 1.

    6. William L Lane, Hebrews: A Call to Commitment (Vancouver, B.C.: Regent College, 2004), 17.

    7. Jean Calvin, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews and the First and Second Epistles of St Peter (eds. David W Torrance and Thomas F Torrance; trans. by William B Johnston; Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), 1.

    8. In Harrington’s, What Are They Saying About the Letter to the Hebrews? he states, after reviewing much of the literature on Hebrews that is available, how nearly every scholar quotes Origen saying that only God knows the author of Hebrews. Unfortunately it is rarely told that Origen actually considered Paul to be the source of the material and that one of his disciples wrote it up for Paul. In the Letter to Africanus by Origen he explicitly states that he believes Paul is the source of this Frederick Crombie, trans. by, ‘CHURCH FATHERS: Letter to Africanus (Origen)’, in Letter to Africanus, July 10, 2016, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0414.htm, (accessed October 6, 2016), 10. Calvin points out ‘the writer himself confesses in the second chapter that he was one of the disciples of the apostles’ (Heb 2:3) Calvin, The Epistle, 1. Upon noting that the author is not Paul many have come up with various suggestions including Mary, Apollos and even Priscilla in Ruth Hoppin, Priscilla’s Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Fort Bragg, Calif.: Lost Coast Press, 1997). Luther’s suggestion of Apollos being the author does provide some plausibility.

    9. D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed.; Leicester: Apollos, 2005), 609. Some suggest it is Palestine yet a number of issues would say otherwise including that the ‘readers had not heard Jesus personally (Heb 2:3), the author’s exclusive use of the LXX, and the presence of linguistic features characteristic of the Hellenistic synagogue’ Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 674. Guthrie also makes an interesting observation against the idea of it being a Jewish church in Palestine noting ‘the probable reference to the generosity of the readers in 6:10 does not fit too well a church whose poverty is mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament in connection with the collection by Gentile churches for its assistance’ The Letter to the Hebrews, 26. It seems as though the most likely possibility is Rome.

    10. Geerhardus Vos makes some good points that push towards the audience being made up of Gentile Christians. Noting references such as Hebrews 3:12, 13; 10:26, 29 as evidence for Gentiles turning back to paganism rather than the common theory of Jews turning back to Judaism in The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews (ed. Johannes G. Vos; Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1956), 18. While Blomberg in From Pentecost to Patmos considers the audience to be made up of a largely Jewish-Christian group yet not excluding the possibility of both Gentile believers and others such as the ‘communities of the Essenes’ (p. 10). Yet the book is addressed ‘to the Hebrews’ most probably referring to ‘a group of Christians who are Jews by race (cf. 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5)’ Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 17.

    11. Some of the clues to the possibility of such a dating is the present tense in which the ‘writer speaks of the sacerdotal ministry (Heb 9:6-10)’ Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 673. Even though Isaacs in Sacred Space: An Approach to the Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 73; Sheffield: JSOT Pr, 1992), 223, suggests a date after the fall of Jerusalem being the motivation of the writing of Hebrews, it seems more likely a date before AD 70 due to there being no mention of the destruction of the temple when the author goes to such effort for the audience to understand ‘the sacrificial system is obsolescent’ Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 20. Blomberg in From Pentecost to Patmos puts the date before AD 64 due to there being no bloodshed yet (Heb 12:4), even though there had been persecution (10:32-34), and pointing out it was around this time that Nero blamed Christians for the fire in Rome and persecution increased.

    12. Isaacs in Sacred Space writes of a plethora of options that scholars have suggested over time. Some seem possible yet others are more difficult to observe from Hebrews itself.

    13. Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 609. F.F. Bruce suggests it is specifically warning Jews who are tempted to go back to Judaism Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews and Lindars is even more specific making the case for Jews who have a guilty conscience from sins committed after baptism and feel as though they need the rituals that Judaism supplied to alieve their guilty conscience Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews.

    14. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 36.

    15. Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text (The New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1993), 548.

    16. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 94.

    17. Lehne, The New Covenant in Hebrews, 120.

    18. Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 107.

    19. Calvin, The Epistle, 2.

    20. Peter Adam, The Majestic Son: A Message of Encouragement (Reading the Bible Today; Sydney: Anglican Information Office, 1992), 125.

    21. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 41.

    22. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 42.

    23. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 199.

    24. Matthew McAffee, ‘Covenant and the Warnings of Hebrews: The Blessing and the Curse’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 57/3 (September 2014), 537–553.

    25. Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament; Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC.

    26. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 697.

    27. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 160.

    28. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 202.

    29. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 697.

    30. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 169.

    31. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 698.

    32. Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament.

    33. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 19.

    34. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 98.

    35. R. V. G Tasker, The Gospel in the Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Tyndale Press, 1950).

    36. Lehne, The New Covenant in Hebrews, 17.

    37. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 15.

    38. Here we see the Old Testament has an ‘enduring validity as the word of God’. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 692.

    39. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 61.

    40. This obvious superiority of these men may hint towards the understanding that the Hebrew readers were tempted to return to Judaism. The author is painstakingly demonstrating the inferiority of a religion without Christ. Even further he wanted to show that what Judaism offers is offered to a greater extend through Jesus as Harrington notes when reviewing Dey’s book: The Intermediary World and Patterns of Perfection in Philo and Hebrews (Dissertation Series 25; Missoula, Mont: Society of Biblical Literature, 1975).

    41. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC.

    42. Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 130.

    43. Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

    44. Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos, 2:436.

    45. Lehne, The New Covenant in Hebrews.

    46. Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 597.

    47. Lehne, The New Covenant in Hebrews, 11.

    48. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 386. The precise definition of diaqh,ch has led to some debate. As Ellingsworth points out two misleading presuppositions that have led some astray. First that there could only be one definition assigned to this word and secondly that the same translation should be applied in each place (p. 388). For example in 9:15-17 its context makes the interpretation of ‘will’ to be appropriate but having no hint of it in a passage such as 7:22 but rather hints of God’s promises and priestly duties it is entirely appropriate to consider the definition to be ‘covenant’.

    49. Jeffrey Arnold Fisher, ‘The Covenant-Idea as the Heart of Hebrews and Biblical Theology: An Original Contribution of Old Princeton in the Teaching of Geerhardus Vos’, Calvin Theological Journal 48/2 (November 2013), 270–289.

    50. Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 49.

    51. Jonty Rhodes, Raiding the Lost Ark: Recovering the Gospel of the Covenant King (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2013), 121.

    52. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 206.

    53. Elmer L. Towns and Ben Gutierrez (eds.), The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey (Nashville, Tenn: B & H Academic, 2012), 263.

    54. Lane, Hebrews. It is interesting in Hebrews the absence of the resurrection being mentioned apart from 13:20. Tasker explains this absence by observing ‘the emphasis which the writer lays upon the presence of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary as the Lamb once slain upon the cross’ The Gospel in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 30.

    55. Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: Christ Above All (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity, 2009), 72.

    56. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 116.

    57. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 116.

    58. Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos, 2:436.

    59. Rhodes, Raiding the Lost Ark, 121.

    60. Gard Granerød, ‘Melchizedek in Hebrews 7’, Biblica 90/2 (2009), 188–202. Granerød explains it well defining this typological scheme as, ‘persons, institutions and events that the OT speaks of are seen as anticipations – dim shadows – of realities which are either yet to come or which are already considered as a reality after Christ’s suffering, resurrection and ascensions to heaven’ (p. 191-192).

    61. Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 112.

    62. Calvin, The Epistle, 188.

    63. As Lindars makes the case of the understanding of perfecter to mean completer in The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 112-113.

    64. Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews, 113.

    65. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 14.

    66. Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The CCC, 692.

    67. Gareth Lee Cockerill, ‘The Truthfulness and Perennial Relevance of God’s Word in the Letter to the Hebrews’, Bibliotheca Sacra 172/686 (April 2015), 190–202.

    68. Harrington, What Are They Saying?, 41.

    69. Dale F. Leschert, Hermeneutical Foundations of Hebrews: A Study in the Validity of the Epistle’s Interpretation of Some Core Citations From the Psalms (Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1994).

    70. Randall C Gleason, ‘The Old Testament Background of Rest in Hebrews 3:7-4:11’, Bibliotheca sacra 157/627 (July 2000): 284.

    71. Granerød, “Melchizedek in Hebrews 7,” 192.

    72. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 18.

    73. O’Brien, God Has Spoken in His Son, 40–41.

    74. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 258.

    75. Tasker, The Gospel in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 52.

    76. Calvin, The Epistle, 142.

    77. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 214.

    78. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 256.

    79. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 13–14.




    2 Comments. Leave new

    • I have always loved Hebrews. It has many encouraging verses and promotes perseverance. This post is well referenced and very informative. I enjoyed it.


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