Introduction to Hebrews

The Book of Hebrews was addressed to first generation Jewish believers who for various reasons were shaky in their faith.  The author aims to shore up that faith by deeper instruction, strong exhortation and severe warnings against throwing their faith overboard.  What makes this epistle so pertinent for us today are some of their issues which in principle still hang around today.  They had an inadequate appreciation of the magnitude of the Person and Work of Christ, they were spiritually sluggish, spiritually regressing and dull of hearing the Word of God, they were somewhat lax about sin and suffering from battle fatigue.  No wonder it still speaks to us.

2 Comments

  1. I have been listening to your program on word-fm and I am blessed by your teaching.I am 69 years old and I am wondering what to do for Christ with my time remaining. Your program a couple nights ago about people not going on in the Christian life as they get older really touched me. However the past couple evenings on your teaching from Hebrews has been thought provoking.You said that Melchizedeck was a type of Christ and then later said he was a theophany. Howerver he could not reasonably be both. If he was a type of Christ then he was not a theophany,and if he was a theophany he was not a type by definition. Further, I recommend that you read some bible commentators, such as Albert Barnes, Jamison Faussett and Brown and John Calvin who all explain why Melchizedeck was a type of Christ and not a Christophany. But I am enjoying the program and I wish a could do more for Christ, His kingdom and His Church in my remaining days.I wish you would read reliable commentators more and innovate less in your teaching. But I enjoy the program and am helped spiritually, mainly.

  2. Hi Tom –

    Always great to hear from listeners! I believe very strongly that able bodied, sound minded individuals, should they chose to retire from their regular employment, should devote their energies thereafter to serving the Lord without distraction (1 Corinthians 7), not find an excuse to stop working and go off pleasuring themselves, as so many do. I am happy you resonated with the thought and know if you make yourself available, the Lord will show you many ways you can be more useful and fruitful in your senior years than before.

    As for Hebrews, I understand your point about “types” but I disagree with your premise. If a ‘type’ is understood as simply some person, event, institution or ritual in the older revelation that anticipates or foreshadows some person, institution, event, etc. in the NT, then it is entirely ‘reasonable’ to say that even if M. was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God, that appearance anticipated or foreshadowed the appearance of the incarnate Christ in the NT. But all of that is pretty much quibbling that misses the larger point.

    Was M. a strictly human personage who had some ‘designed’ characteristics that made him a suitable anticipation of Christ, our great high priest? Many think so. The Christian faith does not hang on that decision and therefore I would not want to go to the wall over it. However I gather you are unaware of my long years in academic ministry inasmuch as you seem to think I may be unaware of the sources you mention for my reference.

    In many long years teaching (among other subjects) the discipline of (biblical) hermeneutics, I always taught my students that there are three rules of biblical interpretation: 1) Context 2) Context and 3) Context. Not commentators, commentators, commentators. I respect and use the great commentators (Calvin is one, JFB popular, but not penetrating, Barnes (uneven). My rule then is this: text and context before any commentator.

    Now when it comes to Hebrews and the M. question, a decent case can be made for your viewpoint. In my opinion a stronger case can be made for my view. How does one decide between conflicting interpretations: Again, an Andrews’ rule of biblical interpretation: of the available interpretations, the option that answers the most questions and leaves one with the fewest problem, is the best. That, in my judgment, is better alternative.

    Your comment about restraining my ‘innovative’ tendencies amused me a bit. Yes, I am an independent thinker who is always determined, God helping me, to be a radical biblicist, but that spirit causes me to be very wary of any sort of theological innovation.

    Thanks for your note and interaction.

    Jim Andrews

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