Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jay Quine: Comments on the Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews, c. A.D. 64

Facing the prospect of deepening persecution (from Nero?) these Jewish believers were tempted to abandon their day-to-day practice of Christianity and return to Judaism. Just as believers had done in past times (Ch. 11), the writer encourages them to be pleasing to the Father and endure through faith, for their faith rests on a Person and work superior in every aspect to Judaism--Jesus Christ (1:1--10:18).

Chapters 1--4 The Superior Person of Christ

Although Judaism was based on revelation delivered through the agency of angels, Christianity is "better" because of its Revealer. Jesus is superior for He is the heir of all, the Creator, expresses God's glory, provides purification for sins, and is seated in the ultimate place of authority--the right hand of God (Ch.1). Such revelation is not to be ignored (Ch.2), for He is the means to fulfillment of man's role, frees from the fear of death, and understands affliction. Although Moses was great, he is a mere servant of Christ (Ch.3). Thus, one should hold fast to Christ's revelation lest the "rest" of satisfaction through doing the Father's will be missed "today." (Ch.4).

Chapters 5--10 The Superior Priesthood of Christ

Since Christ completely fulfilled the will of the Father, the Christian should persevere unto maturity by continuing to practice the application of God's word (Ch.5). If they refuse to be pleasing to God they can expect severe discipline (Ch.6). The severity is due to the greatness of Christ's priesthood, which is superior to the Levitical priesthood. The priesthood under Melchizedek is superior to that under Aaron because its focus is upon blessing rather than a continual reminder of sin and guilt (Ch.7). It is based on a superior covenant (Ch.8) in accordance with Christ who serves in a superior Tabernacle (Ch.9). To forsake the practice of Christianity is abandoning the greatest thing God could provide. Therefore, endure (Ch.10).

Chapters 11--13 The Believer's Response in Faith

Given the many examples of those who patiently endured through faith in God's promises, the Christian should likewise please the Father through faith (Ch.11). If they rebel then God will discipline them as a human father disciplines his son (Ch.12). Instead, Christians should practice their faith without fear of helping others in need (Ch.13).

Quine's View of the Key Verse: Hebrews 12:1-3

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lost heart.”