An Introduction To The Book Of 2 PeterRelated Media
I. THE AUTHORSHIP AND CANONICITY OF SECOND PETER:2
A. Second Peter is considered to be the most problematical of all the NT books because of the early doubts surrounding its authenticity and the internal evidence which is considered by many to substantiate those doubts3
B. There are three approaches to early evidence of canonicity or non-canonicity of NT writings; one need not be “either/or” in one’s use of the following; one may be “both/and”:4
1. A book was not canonical until after the date of its first citation
2. After giving citations a relative value, one can decide whether the authors who wrote prior to the first citation had any reason to quote the NT book in question since no-one was obligated to quote all parts of the NT
3. One can place the most emphasis upon the rejection of the early church
C. External Evidence:5 Although the external evidence is sparse, and not without doubts,6 it seems that the majority did accept this book as by Peter and canonical; this outweighs the minority who did not.
1. The Church Fathers:
a. Cited or alluded to by Pseudo-Barnabas (c. 70-130)7
b. Cited or alluded to by Clement of Rome (c. 95-96)8
c. Named as disputed by Origen (c. 185-254)9
d. Named as authentic by Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86)
e. Named as disputed by Eusebius (c. 325-40)10
f. Named as authentic by Jerome (c. 340-420)11
g. Named as authentic by Augustine (c. 400)
a. This epistle is omitted in the Muratorian Canon (AD 200) but it also omits 1 Peter and its present text is almost certainly incomplete12
b. Named as authentic by the Codex Barococcio (c. 206)
c. Named as authentic by Apostolic (c. 300)
d. Named as disputed by Cheltenham (c. 360)
e. Named as authentic by Athanasus (c. 367)
a. Named as disputed by council of Nicea (c. 325-40)
b. Named as authentic by the council of Hippo (393)
c. Named as authentic by the council of Carthage (397)
d. Named as authentic by the council of Carthage (491)
D. Internal Evidence: Although not without problems, the internal evidence seems to best support the Apostle Peter as the author of 2 Peter.
1. Reasons Against Petrine Authorship:15
a. Different Style: Its style was different than that of 1 Peter which was strongly accepted by the church to be Petrine. But this may be explained by the use of different ammanuensis (cf. 1 Peter 5:12)16
b. Gnostic Literature: Peter’s name was used in connection with some Gnostic literature, but in spite of the circulation of these spurious works, 2 Peter was recognized as distinct17
c. Jude: Petrine authorship is forbidden by its literary dependence on Jude, but this is not conclusively settled as an issue; nevertheless, even if Peter did borrow from Jude (or similar material)18 this does not preclude against Petrine authorship any more than for the synoptic gospel writers to use similar (or identical) material
d. Too Hellenistic: The conceptual and rhetorical language is too Hellenistic for a Galilean Fisherman; but we do not know the extent of Hellenistic influence upon Peter19
e. The problem of the delay of the parousia is a second-century problem; but his is not exclusively true. It was clearly a first century issue as well (John 21:20-23; Acts 1:6-11 etc.; 2 Thess. 2:1-4; Heb. 9:28)
f. Pauline Collection: The collection of Pauline Letters referred to in 2 Peter 3:15-16 was made in the second century. While this could be true for the complete collection, this need not be speaking of a complete collection20
g. Early Catholicism: The letter sounds like “early Catholicism” (which emphasizes good works and orthodoxy) rather than first generation Christianity. But this assumes that Peter would not be concerned about the orthodox interpretation of Scripture and tradition which is not a given (cf. 1 Cor. 11:2; 15:3) and the emphasis upon good works is part of the earliest NT epistle written (James)
2. Reasons For Petrine Authorship:
a. The book claims to Petrine authorship (1:1; 14 16-18; 3:1, 15)21
b. The book claims to be Peter’s second epistle (3:1)22
c. The author claims that Paul is his beloved brother (3:15)
d. The letter gives no hints of a second-century environment or of issues related to the monarchical bishop, developed Gnosticism, or Montanism23
II. DATE: After 1 Peter and probably just before Peter’s death in AD 64-68.
A. After a Collection of the Pauline Epistles: Second Peter 3:15-16 affirms that this letter was probably written after a collection of some of Paul’s letters (perhaps during Paul’s first imprisonment in AD 60)
B. If Second Peter 3:1 refers to Peter’s first letter (and it probably does) then this letter was probably written after AD 62-64 (e.g., AD 63-64)
C. The letter seems to have been written shortly before Peter’s death (2 Peter 1:12-15) or AD 64-68.
III. PLACE OF ORIGIN: Although Rome is often mentioned, it is not possible to know the place of origin since Peter traveled widely (Palestine, Asia Minor, Corinth (?), Rome)
IV. DESTINATION: Although one may not be certain, this may well be written to the same audience as First Peter--those from northern Asia Minor
A. This letter is written to believers (2 Pet. 1:1)
B. If 2 Peter 3:1 refers to 1 Peter, than this letter was also written to those in Northern Asian Minor (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia
C. If 2 Peter 3:1 refers to a lost letter of Peter, this it is not possible to identify the destination of 2 Peter
V. THE RELATIONSHIP OF JUDE AND 2 PETER:
A. Its Nature: Similarities between the two works affirm some kind of literary relationship, while differences affirm individual emphases
1. Similarities affirm some kind of literary relationship:
a. Most of 2 Peter 2 is paralleled in Jude and there are parallels in the other chapters of 2 Peter
b. No less than 15 of the 25 verses in Jude appear in 2 Peter
c. Many identical ideas, words, and phrases are parallel to the two writings
2. Differences affirm individual emphases:
a. The common material focuses almost completely on the issue of false teachers
b. Peter emphasizes more positive teaching and Jude concentrates on denunciations
c. The two groups of false teachers are similar, but not identical
B. The Question of Priority: The arguments are not decisive for the priority of either book; the solution may best be found through the postulation of a common source, but even this is not certain.
1. The Options are for priority can be argued with some convincing evidence in each direction, but they are not determinative:
a. Jude is Prior: While there are several arguments24, the stronger ones are as follows:
1) Jude is shorter than 2 Peter so it may have preceded 2 Peter which was an enlargement of Jude (strong)
2) Jude approaches the problem of false teachers with greater spontaneity than 2 Peter which adds an introduction to the problem and does not seem to know the issue first hand (note the tenses of verbs; [not as strong])
3) Jude is harsher than 2 Peter who may have toned down his offensive (weak)
4) Jude uses apocryphal books and 2 Peter does not (perhaps because he has excluded the references because of their unorthodox character [cf. 2 Pet. 2:11; Jude 9])
b. Peter is Prior: Though weak, the arguments for the priority of 2 Peter are as follows:
1) Jude makes reference to 2 Peter in verse 4 and 17 (cf. 2 Peter 3:3)25
2) The use of the future tense in 2 Peter to discuss the false teachers and the present tense in Jude suggests the priority of 2 Peter in that Jude experienced what Peter foresaw, but Peter did not always use the future tense26
3) Jude’s borrowing from Peter (an apostle) is more understandable than for Peter to be borrowing from Jude (weak)
2. Both Jude and 2 Peter depended on a similar source:
a. This is not generally held to for the following reasons:
1) The similarities are considered to be too close to be accounted for in this way
2) The situation of both letters seems to be too concrete for such an explanation
b. If their was a general writing which Peter and Jude refer to, one wonders about its authority in view of Jude 17; if it was apostolic, why did it require its incorporation into these two letters to be preserved; but this is not determinative since there were clearly sources which were apostolic in the Gospel accounts which were not preserved beyond their inclusion in the Gospels
3. Conclusion: This problem cannot be definitively solved with the information which presently exists but the theory of a similar source seems most possible:
a. It is possible that a document like this did exist in the early church as a catechetical tract on false teaching27
b. This may well make all of Jude except the first three verse and verses 19-25 an expression of this tract, but Jude does express his intention to write on another subject, and then he changes due to the pressing nature of the circumstances (verse 3)
c. This may well explain the differences in styles as the two writers adapt the material for their own theological purpose28
A. Peter writes because his time is short and he knows that God’s people are facing many dangers (1:13-14; 2:1-3)29
B. Peter writes to provide a reminder of the basis in Christian faith (1:12-13,16-21) and to instruct future generations of believers in the faith (1:15) by affirming its apostolic tradition30
1 Sources employed in this study are: Louis A. Barbieri, First and Second Peter, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 50 (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publishers, 1983), Edwin A. Blum, “2 Peter,” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary 12:255-289, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1981), Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Box F. Downers Grove, Illinois:Inter-Varsity Press, 1970).
2 Although canonicity and authorship are not synonymous, there are often related since one of the main reasons for accepting a book in the early church was its apostolic authorship or authorization (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:257). It is possible for one to not hold to Petrine authorship of this Epistle and still hold to its canonical value (cf. J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 235; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 158-162).
3 Guthrie, NTI, 814
4 Guthrie, NTI, 814.
5 Geisler, An Introduction to the New Testament, 189, 191, 193.
6 Blum notes, “Because of the letter’s brevity, governmental persecutions of the early churches, and communication problems in the ancient world, the lack of a long tradition for 2 Peter is hardly surprising. If the letter had been sent to an area not in the main travel routes or one that suffered sudden persecutions, normal circulation patterns may have been hindered” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 258).
7 Second Peter 3:8 is used in Pseudo-Barnabas 15:4.
8 Second Peter 2:6-9 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 11:1 by Clement of Rome.
9 Origen is usually the pivotal Church Father in this discussion because reviews of the evidence usually begin with the statement that “the Epistle was not certainly known until his time and the authenticity becomes immediately suspect, especially as he also mentions doubts held by some about it (Guthrie, NTI, 815). However, he cites the epistle six times and as Guthrie writes, “It is a fair assumption, therefore, that Origen saw no reason to treat these doubts as serious, and this would seem to imply that in his time the Epistle was widely regarded as canonical” (Ibid.)
Origen wrote, “Peter...has left one acknowledged epistle, and, it may be, a second also; for it is doubted” (Ecclesiastical History, 6.25.8).
10 He placed this epistle among the Antilegomena making clear that the majority accepted this epistle along with James and Jude, but that he has doubts about it because writers whom he respected did not regard it as canonical, and because it was not quoted (by name?) by the ‘ancient presbyters’ (cf. Ecclesiastical History, 3.3.1-4; 25.3-4).
11 He unreservedly accepted this epistle along with the other Catholic Epistles, but he notes that doubts about its authenticity do exist (Scriptorium Ecclesiasticorum 1, Letter to Hedibia (Epist. 120.11).
12 Guthrie, NTI, 816-17.
13 This also omits Hebrews, James and 1 Peter.
14 This also omits 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.
15 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:158.
16 Blum writes, “If 1 Peter was written by Peter with the assistance of Silvanus, 2 Peter could either be in Peter’s own style or in his style with the assistance of a different amanuensis. Moreover, stylistic arguments are hard to evaluate because the criteria for the identify of distinctiveness of writes are not settled” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 258; Bruce, The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 10--11; Guthrie, NTI, 839).
17 Guthrie writes, “A mitigating factor, which has all too often been overlooked, is the influence of the pseudo-Petrine literature upon Church opinion. If Gnostic groups had used Peter’s name to drive home their own particular tenets, this fact would cause the orthodox Church to take particular care not to use any spurious Petrine Epistles. Some of the more nervous probably regarded 2 Peter suspiciously for this reason, but the fact that it ultimately gained acceptance in spite of the pseudo-Petrine literature is an evidence more favourable to its authenticity than against it, unless the orthodox Church Fathers had by this time become wholly undiscerning, which is not, however, borne out by the firm rejection of other works attributed to Peter” (Guthrie, NTI, 818).
18 See “The Relationship of Jude and 2 Peter” below.
19 Blum writes, “He lived about five miles from the region of the Greek league of ten cities known as Decapolis. We do not know whether he was bilingual or how much he learned between the Resurrection and his martyrdom. Nor do we know whether Peter has help in writing his letter. Just as today a high government official uses a speech writer, though the final product is the official’s responsibility, so 2 Peter may have been drafted by an amanuensis ...” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 259).
20 Blum writes, “The collecting of Paul’s letters would have begun as soon as a church or some influential person recognized their value. Paul’s instruction about exchanging letters (cf. Col. 4:16) and their public reading (1 Thess. 5:27) would have facilitated the collection of his letters. That Luke and Timothy were traveling companions of Paul makes them likely collectors of his writings” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 259).
21 Concerning the correlation of author and canonicity and those who choose to identify 2 Peter as pseudepigaphic and yet canonical, Blum writes, “If the book is unreliable in these statements, how can its teaching be accepted? Either 2 Peter is a genuine work of Simon Peter the apostle or it is an unreliable forgery” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 260). Continuing, “If epistolary pseudepigraphy was rejected by Christians [and it was], then who would have written this letter? Hardly a good man! If it had been a false teacher, what was his motivation? After all, the book does not seem to have any distinctive views that would require presentation under an assumed name” (Ibid., 261).
22 Most commentators agrees that the first epistle must be 1 Peter.
23 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:261.
24 See Guthrie, NTI, pp. 921-922.
25 But “long before” of Jude 4 probably refers to the book of Enoch as in verses 14-15, and in verse 17 one would expect Peter to be mentioned by name as James was in 1:1. Also verse 17 may have reference to sayings which the apostles endorsed (Guthrie, NTI, p. 923).
26 The present tense is used to describe false teachers in 2 Peter 2:10,17,18; 3:5.
27 See Green, Jude, pp. 54-55.
28 See Green Jude, pp. 53-54.
29 More technically, this is a “farewell address” (cf. Acts 20:17-38; 2 Timothy). Therefore, Peter seeks to remind his readers of the apostolic tradition (1:13) and to warning them about coming heretics (2:1-3) whose error is a sing of the last days (3:1ff). Peter desires to extend the apostolic tradition beyond his lifetime.
30 Peter is the epitome of apostolic authority as the “servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” who was at the mount of transfiguration (1:17) and received a revelation from Christ about his own personal death (1:14; cf. Jn. 21:18). Childs writes, “Peter is not just a figure of the past, but he now functions as a vehicle for extending the apostolic tradition, of which he is the chief representative, into the future” (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 470). Elsewhere Childs writes, “The function of Peter as the primary representative of the apostolic tradition is to extend this apostolic authority to the next generation after the apostle’s death. The apostle sets down in writing the authoritative tradition in order that his letter may continually ‘at any time’ remind the church of its message (1.15)” (Ibid., 471).
31 Guthrie writes, “since the future tense is mainly used, it must further be supposed that this Epistle is intended to have a preventative effect. The author wishes to strengthen these Christians in faith and practice so that they will be in a position to resist the ungodliness of these threatening false teachers. In this respect the occasion of 2 Peter differs from that of Jude, where the author is obliged to deal with the situation which has already arisen” (Guthrie, NTI, 850).
32 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:263.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of 2 PeterRelated Media
Peter Writes To Exhort His Readers Not To Be Influenced By The Coming False Teachers Who Deny That The Lord Will Return To Judge Those Who Do Evil But To Grow In God’s Provision And The Apostolic Truth Of Jesus Christ’s Future Coming
I. INTRODUCTION--SALUTATION AND PRAYER: Simeon Peter, the apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, writes to fellow believers and prays that they may receive grace and peace in the knowledge of God and of Jesus their Lord seeing that God has provided them everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 1:1-4
A. Address and Salutation: This letter is written by Simeon Peter, an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, to fellow believers 1:1-2
1. Author: This letter is written from Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ 1:1a
2. Recipients: This letter was written by Simeon Peter to fellow believers (those who have a faith which through the justice of their God and Saviour Jesus Christ is of equal privilege with Peter’s and those with him)1 1:1b
B. Blessing/Theme--God Has Provided for Life: Peter prays that his readers may receive grace and peace in the knowledge of God and of Jesus their Lord seeing that God has provided them everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 1:2-4
1. Prayer: Peter prays that his readers may receive grace and peace in the knowledge2 of God and of Jesus their Lord 3:2
2. Theme--God Has Provided Everything For Life: Peter affirms that God has granted his readers everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 3:3-4
a. Seeing God’s Provision for Life: Peter prays that grace and peace might be multiplied to his readers in the knowledge of God as they see that his divine power has granted to them everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge ( ἐπιγνώσεως ) of Him who called them by His own glory and excellence 1:3
b. Promises--To Partake in Life: By God’s glory and excellence He has granted to believers His precious and magnificent promises in order that ( ἵνα ) believers might become partakers of life (the divine nature) having escaped death (the corruption that is in the world by Lust 1:4
II. EXHORTATION:3 In view of God’s provision of everything for life Peter urges, and will continue to urge, his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth in the apostolic truth and refutes the objections to their teaching concerning the Lord’s return by false teachers because he and the other apostles did not follow myths but were eye witnesses of that future coming and hold to the prophetic word which is Spirit inspired and thus authoritative 1:5-21
A. Summary Exhortation: In view of God’s provision of everything for life Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth because this will prevent them from experiencing spiritual loss and enable them to have spiritual success in their lives 1:5-11
1. Supplement One’s Faith: Because God has provided everything for life, Peter urges his readers to apply all diligence in their faith to supplement it with the following characteristics (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love): 1:5-7
a. Exhortation: Because ( καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δέ ) God has provided everything for life (vv. 3-4 above), Peter urges his readers to apply all diligence in their faith to supplement it 1:5a
b. Moral Excellence: Peter urges his readers to supply (ἐπιχορηγήσατε )4 moral excellence ( τὴν ἀρετήν ) 1:5b
c. Knowledge: Peter urges his readers to supply to their moral excellence knowledge ( γνῶσιν ) 1:5c
d. Self-Control: Peter urges his readers to supply to their knowledge self-control ( ἐγκράτειαν ) 1:6a
e. Perseverance: Peter urges readers to supply to their self-control perseverance ( ὑπομονήν ) 1:6b
f. Godliness: Peter urges his readers to supply to their perseverance godliness ( εὑσέβειαν ) 1:6c
g. Brotherly Kindness: Peter urges his readers to supply to their godliness brotherly kindness ( φιλαδελφίαν ) 1:7a
h. Love: Peter urges his readers to supply to their brotherly kindness love ( τήν ἀγάπην ) 1:7b
2. Reason--Spiritual Success: The reason Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth is because this will prevent them from experiencing spiritual loss, and enable them to have spiritual success in their lives 1:8-11
a. Negatively: Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith because without such growth they will be useless, unfruitful, and blind with spiritual amnesia 1:8-9
1) Useless and Unfruitful: The reason Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith is because ( γὰρ ) without such growth they will be useless and unfruitful in the “true knowledge” ( ἐπιγνωσιν ) of God 1:8
2) Blind and with Spiritual Amnesia: The reason urges his readers to supplement their faith is because without such growth they will be blinded with spiritual amnesia 1:9
b. Positively: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because this will provide spiritual assurance of their relationship with God, this will keep them from stumbling in their daily lives, and this will enable them to be triumphantly received by God into their future home--the Kingdom 1:10-11
1) Assurance: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore ( διὸ ) pursue their spiritual growth, as he has described above, because this will provide experiential assurance concerning their relationship with God 1:10a
2) Not Stumble: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because this growth will keep them from stumbling in their daily lives 1:10b
3) Triumphantly Received by God: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because with such growth they will be triumphantly received by God into their future home--the Kingdom 1:11
B. Occasion--Peter’s Testament:5 Because of the benefits connected with the readers supplementing their faith with diligent growth, Peter affirms that he is going to continually arouse them with a reminder of the truth, even though he will soon die, and that he will do his best to see that after his death his readers will be able to recall these things at all times 1:12-15
1. A Present Reminder: Because ( Διὸ ) of the benefits connected with supplementing their faith with diligent growth (1:3-11) Peter affirms that he is going to continually arouse his readers with a reminder of the (apostolic) truth which they already are established in knowing that he will soon die as their Lord Jesus Christ informed him6 1:12-14
C. Replies to Two Objections:9 Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow myths about the Lord’s return but were eye witnesses of that future coming, and hold to the prophetic word which is Spirit inspired and thus authoritative 1:16-21
1. Replies to Objection-I about the Lord’s Future Return: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the future coming of the Lord Jesus in Power but were eye witnesses of that future coming on the Mount of Transfiguration and hold to the prophetic word as the readers also should 1:16-19
a. First Reply to Objection I--Apostolic Eyewitness: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the future coming of the Lord Jesus in Power but were eye witnesses of that future coming on the Mount of Transfiguration 1:16-18
1) The Future Coming of Jesus Is Not a Myth: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the coming of their Lord Jesus Christ in Power 1:16a
2) The Apostles Saw His Future Coming:10 In contrast to a myth about the future coming of the Lord Jesus Peter explains they the apostles (we)11 were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty when the Father bestowed honor and glory upon Him and they heard the Father’s voice on the Mount (of Transfiguration)12 when He proclaimed Jesus to be His Son (Davidic)13 with Whom He was well pleased (Servant)14 1:16b-18
b. Second Reply to Objection I--The Value of OT Prophesy: In addition Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the coming of their Lord Jesus Christ in Power because they place firm reliance on the prophetic word which he also urges the readers to attend to as they would to a lamp shining in a murky place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in their hearts15 1:19
2. Replies to Objection II--The Inspiration of OT Prophecy: Peter argues against those who would deny the Lord’s coming on the basis of the lack of prophetic authority by affirming that his readers need to understand that no prophecy of Scripture was derived from the prophet’s own interpretation because prophecy never came by the will of man, but by men impelled by the Holy Spirit 1:20-21
a. No Prophecy Was the Prophet’s Interpretation:16 Arguing against those who would deny the Lord’s coming on the basis of prophecy because some would reject its authority, Peter affirms that above all his readers must understand that no prophecy of Scripture derives from the prophet’s (one’s own) interpretation17 1:20
b. Reason--Prophets Were Spirit Enabled: The reason Peter affirms that no prophecy of Scripture derives from the prophets own interpretation is because ( γὰρ ) prophecy never came by the impulse (will) of man, but men impelled by the Holy Spirit ( ὐπὸ πνεύματος ἀγίου φερόμενοι ) spoke from God 1:21
III. WARNINGS AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS:18 Peter predicts that just as there were false teachers during the time of the OT prophets, there will be false teachers in the future who will initiate evil like denying the certainty of a future judgment, but Peter affirms that a future judgment will certainly come and that the false teachers will be judged at that time for their evil 2:1-22
A. Peter’s Prediction of False Teachers:19 Peter predicts that just as there were false teachers during the time of the prophets so will their be false teachers in the future who will initiate evil and effect many others with their evil 2:1-3a
1. False Teachers in the Past: Peter affirms that there were false teachers among the people (during the times of the prophets, [1:20 above]) 2:1a
2. False Teachers in the Future: Peter predicts that false teachers will be among his readers who will initiate evil (insinuate heresies, deny the master who bought them, and bring swift destruction upon themselves) and will bring about evil (many will follow their dissolute practices, the truth will be maligned, and many of the readers will be exploited)
a. False Teachers Will Be Among the Readers:Peter affirms that just as false teachers existed in the OT so is it that they will be ( ε῎σονται ) among the readers 2:1b
b. The Evil of the False Teachers: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will insinuate heresies, deny the Master who bought them, and bring swift destruction upon themselves 2:1c-e
1) Insinuate Heresies: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will insinuate heresies that lead to destruction 2:1c
2) Deny the Master: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will deny the Master who bought them ( τόν αγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς δεσπότην)20 2:1d
3) Bring Self-Destruction: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will bring swift destruction upon themselves 2:1e
c. The Effects of the False Teachers: Peter affirms that the effects of the false teachers will be that many will follow their dissolute practices, the truth will be maligned, and that many of the readers will be exploited 2:2-3
1) Many Will Follow: Peter affirms that many will follow the dissolute practices (sensuality) of the false teachers 2:2a
2) The Truth Will Be Maligned: Peter affirms that the way of truth will be maligned (βλασφημηθήσεται) because of the false teachers 2:2b
3) Exploit the Readers: Peter affirms that in their greed the false teachers will exploit the readers with fabricated arguments 2:3
B. Reply to an Objection--The Certainty of Judgment:21 Denying the assertion of the false teachers that there will not be an eschatological judgment, Peter affirms that God is not idle, asserts a basis for future judgment in the patterns of His judgment upon the angels, the ancient world and Sodom & Gomorrah, and concludes that He is well able to rescue the godly from trial and yet to keep the wicked to be punished at the day of judgment 2:3b-10a
1. A Denial That No Eschatological Judgment Is Coming: Denying the assertion of the false teachers that there will not be an eschatological judgment,22 Peter affirms that the condemnation pronounced on them long ago is not idle and that their destruction is not asleep23 2:3b
2. Basis for the Denial:24 Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of angels, the ancient world, and Sodom and Gomorrah for their evil 2:4-8
a. The Judgment of Angels: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of the angles when they sin in that he cast them into hell and committed them to fetters of nether darkness25 to be kept until the (eschatological)26 judgment 2:4
b. The Judgment of the Ancient World: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of the ancient world27 when He brought the deluge on the world of ungodly people only to preserve Noah, the eighth person28--a preacher of righteousness29 2:5
c. The Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment and of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as his rescue of the righteous Lot who was daily tormented by the evil behavior of the lawless 2:6-8
1) God Judged and Condemned Sodom and Gomorrah As An Example: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes30 and his condemnation of them to extinction making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly 2:6
2) God Delivered Righteous Lot: Peter notes that God did rescue the righteous man Lot31 who was daily distressed by the dissolute, unlawful behavior of the lawless 2:7-8
3. Conclusion--Future Judgment: Peter affirms that if God was able to bring about judgment upon angels, the ancient world, and Sodom & Gomorrah, then He is well able to rescue the godly from trial and yet to keep the wicked to be punished at the day of judgment--especially those who in polluting lust indulge the flesh and flout the authority of the Lord32 2:9-10a
C. Denunciation of False Teachers: Peter denounces the false teachers as being fearless in their renunciation of angelic majesties, as being like unreasoning animals who will perish, and as being deceptive and disappointing to their followers causing the darkness of judgment to await them 2:10b-22
1. Revile Angelic Majesties: Peter affirms that these false teachers are reckless and headstrong people who are not afraid to insult (βλασφημοῦντες ) the glorious ones33 where as angles, although they are greater in strength and power (than the false teachers), do not use insults when pronouncing judgment on them from the Lord 2:10b-11
2. Like Unreasoning Animals: Peter proclaims that these false teachers are like animals of mere instinct who are ignorant of those whom they insult and will perish, when the evil angels are destroyed, as they suffer harm in reward for the harm they have done 2:12-16
a. Animals of Mere Instinct: Peter proclaims that in contrast to angels ( δὲ ) these false teachers are like unreasoning animals which are born of mere instinct to be caught and destroyed 2:12a
b. Ignorant: Peter proclaims that the false teachers are like animals in that they are ignorant of those whom they insult 2:12b
c. Will Perish: Peter proclaims that when the evil angels are destroyed the false teachers themselves will also perish in the same destruction as they suffer harm in reward for the harm (below) they have done (self-indulgence, pollute worship, adulterous lust, ensnare people, follow the way of Balaam) 2:12c-15
1) Statement: Peter proclaims that when they evil angels (wild animals)34 are destroyed the false teachers themselves will also perish in the same destruction as they suffer harm in reward for the harm they had done 2:12c-13a
3) Reason II--Pollute Worship: Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because they are spots and blemishes37 indulging in their deceitful pleasures while they feast with the readers38 2:13c
4) Reason III--Full of Adulterous Lust: Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because their eyes are full of adulterous lust and are always on the lookout for sin39 2:14a
6) Reaffirmation of Judgment: Peter reaffirms that these false teachers are always under God’s curse (children of a curse) 2:14c
7) Reason V--Followed the Way of Balaam:43 Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because they have left the straight way44 and followed the way of Balaam the son of Basor45 who loved wrong doing but was rebuked for his offense by a dumb ass who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness46 2:15-16
3. Deceptive and Disappointing for Whom Darkness Awaits: Peter describes these false teachers as deceptive and disappointing (as those who offer life to their followers) and darkness has been reserved for them because they enslave new believers with false promises of no future judgment 2:17-22
b. They Ensnare New Believers with Lies: Peter affirms that the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for the false teachers because they ensnare new believers promising them freedom from future judgment even though they do not have freedom from judgment because they are in a worse state through their rejection of the gospel than before they heard the gospel
1) Statement--Darkness is Reserved for Them: Peter affirms that the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for the false teachers 2:17b
2) Reason--They Ensnare People: Peter explains that the reason darkness has been reserved for the false teachers is because they ensnare new believers promising them freedom from future judgment even though they do not have freedom from judgment because they are in a worse state through their rejection of the gospel than before they heard the gospel 2:18-21
a) They Ensnare People: The reason ( γὰρ ) darkness has been reserved for the false teachers is because they ensnare people who are only just escaping from those who live in error49 by their high-flown empty talk with lusts of the flesh and dissolute practices50 2:18
b) Promise Freedom, But Do Not Have It: Peter affirms that the false teachers promise their victims freedom (from judgment),51 but they themselves are slaves of corruption (judgment)52 because “a man becomes the slave of him who overpowers him”53 2:19
c) Reason--They Are In a Worse State: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that the false teachers do not have freedom from future judgment because “their final state has become worse than their first”54 since they once escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but are again entangled in them and overpowered by them55 2:20
d) Reason--Turned Away from the Way of Righteousness: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that they are in a worse state than at first because it would have been better for them never to have come to know the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to have turned away from it (the holy commandment56 which was delivered to them) 2:21
e) Explanation--Return to What They Have Rejected: Peter explains that the false teachers have demonstrated their nature in that they have returned to what was rejected as in the proverbs, “a dog which returns to its vomit”57 and “a sow which after washing returns to wallow in the mire”58 2:22
IV. REMINDERS: Peter reminds his readers to hold to the prophetic/apostolic truth concerning the coming of the Lord in judgment and His ethics and he urges them to understand that although scoffers will question this in the last days, they overlook his previous sovereign intervention through His word and they forget to look from God’s perspective where his apparent delay is forbearance 3:1-10
A. Peter’s Prediction of Scoffers: Peter reminds his readers to hold to the prophetic/apostolic truth concerning the coming of the Lord and His ethics, and to understand that in the last days scoffers will question the promise of the Lord’s return since everything seems to be following a normal pattern in life 3:1-4
1. Another Reminder to Hold to the Truth: Peter writes to his readers as loved ones ( ἀγαπητοί ) stating that this is his second letter to them wherein he is arousing their sincere understanding with a reminder that they should remember the predictions (words spoken beforehand) of the holy prophets (concerning the Lord’s return)59 and the (ethical) commandment60 of the Lord and Saviour through their apostles 3:1-2
2. An Objection--The Lord Is Not Coming; God Does Not Intervene in the World: Peter exhorts his readers above all to understand that in the last days61 scoffers62 will come, scoffing, following their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers63 fell asleep, everything remains just as it has been since the beginning of the world”64 3:3-4
B. Two Replies to an Objection: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook his previous sovereign intervention through his word (which he will do again), and they forget to look from God’s perspective where his apparent delay is forbearance, but he will sovereignly intervene with a cosmic judgment of fire 3:5-10
1. Reply to an Objection---The Sovereignty of God’s Word: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that God intervened by commanding the creation of the earth, intervened by commanding the deluge, and will intervene by commanding future judgment of the ungodly 3:5-7
a. God Intervened By Commanding the Creation of the Earth: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that long ago there were heavens and an earth created by the word of God out of water and by means of water65 3:5
b. God Intervened by Commanding the Deluge: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that by these (the water and God’s word) the world of that time was deluged with water and destroyed 3:6
c. God Will Intervene with Judgment: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that by the same word (of God) the heavens and earth which now exist have been held in store for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly people 3:7
2. Reply II to an Objection--The Forbearance of the Lord: Peter urges his dear readers not to forget (as the false teachers do) that the Lord has a broader perspective than they, that His apparent delay is actually forbearance so that all might be saved, and that He will bring about a cosmic judgment with fire 3:8-10
a. Don’t Forget God’s Time Perspective: Peter urges his dear readers ( ἀγαπητοί )66 not to forget67 the Lord’s time perspective which is broader than theirs, namely, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as one day68 3:8
b. God’s Apparent Delay is Actually Forbearance: Peter explains that the Lord is not late in fulfilling the promise according to some people’s idea of lateness,69 but He is forbearing towards mankind (you) because He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance70 3:9
c. God’s Cosmic Judgment Will Come: In contrast to God’s forbearance ( δὲ ) Peter affirms that the day of the Lord (judgment) will come like a thief (unexpectantly) and that on that day there will be a cosmic judgment of fire (the heavens will pass away with a roar,71 the heavenly bodies72 will be dissolved in the heat, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up 3:10
V. EXHORTATIONS: In view of the coming eschatological events (judgment and recreation) Peter exhorts his readers to righteous living as they strive to be ready for the Lord’s return and to regard his forbearance as salvation as Paul also affirms in his letters (even though some distort them) 3:11-16
A. Consider Righteous Living: In view of the coming judgment Peter exhorts his readers to consider righteous living which will hasten the coming of the day of judgment even though they are waiting for the new righteous creation 3:11-13
1. Exhortation to Righteous Living: In view of the coming judgment Peter exhorts his readers to consider that they need to be holy, godly in all their conduct, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God which will bring about the judgment by fire 3:11-12
2. Waiting for New Creation: In contrast to the coming judgment Peter affirms that he and his readers (we) are waiting for the new heavens and earth in which righteousness is at home73 3:13
B. Strive to be Ready for the Lord’s Return and Regard His Forbearance as Salvation: Since Peter’s readers are waiting for the eschatological hope, he exhorts them to strive to be pure and at peace when He comes and to regard God’s forbearance as salvation as Paul also affirms even though some distort his writings 3:14-16
1. Strive to Be Pure and at Peace at His Coming: Since Peter’s readers are waiting for the eschatological hope (future judgment and righteous new creation), he exhorts them to strive to be without any spot or blemish in His sight (at his coming) and to be at peace 3:14
2. Regard God’s Forbearance as Salvation: Peter exhorts his readers to regard the forbearance of their Lord as bringing about salvation 3:15a
3. Paul Also Affirms This: Peter affirms that Paul also wrote to his readers to regard God’s forbearance as bringing about salvation in accordance with the wisdom that God gave him as he does in all his letters when he speaks of these matters 3:15b-16a
4. Others Distort Paul: Peter affirms that his letters contain some things that are hard to understand which the uninstructed and unstable distort as they do with other scriptures so as to bring about their own destruction 3:16b
VI. CONCLUSION/DOXOLOGY: Peter concludes his letter by exhorting his readers to be on guard not to be influenced by these coming false teachers but to grow in grace and the knowledge of their Saviour Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory both now and on the day of eternity 3:17-18
A. Be On Guard: Peter concludes therefore ( ου῏ν ) that since his readers know this (about the coming false teachers) they should be on their guard 3:17a
B. Purpose--Not to Fall: Peter urges his readers to be on guard against the coming false teachers in order that ( ι῞να ) they may not be carried away by the error74 of these lawless people and fall from their stable position 3:17b
C. Grow in Grace and Knowledge: In contrast to falling away under the influence of the false teachers ( δὲ ) Peter urges his readers to grow in grace (from Jesus Christ) and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 3:18a
D. Doxology--Glory to Christ: Peter proclaims that the glory belongs to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ both now and on the day of eternity75 3:18b
1 This could be referring to the Jewish-Gentile issue (if Peter is writing primarily to Gentiles as in 1 Peter) of comparing the apostles and the readers. The latter may be more probable since the Jewish-Gentile issue does not show itself in the rest of the letter.
2 This term, ἐπιγνώσει, probably foreshadows the issue of the entire letter. Peter wants to emphasize the apostolic knowledge (or even tradition) of the Lord which the false teachers are going to attack and he prays that they will have a full, heart felt knowledge of it.
3 Beginning with this portion of the book, the structure is chiastic:
A Exhortations (1:5-21)
B Warnings (2:1-22)
C Reminders (warnings) (3:1-11)
A’ Exhortations (3:12-17)
4 This term is used again in 1:11 where Christ will then supply entrance into the eternal kingdom for believers.
5 Bauckham writes concerning this portion of the letter that, “its position in the letter at this point is no doubt determined by its function as a transition from the positive summary for Peter’s teaching in 1:3-11, to the apologetic defense of this teaching against objections in the rest of the letter. By introducing the idea that the letter, as a testament, is intended for the period after Peter’s death, the author is able to begin dealing with objections which are being raised in his own time” (Jude, 2 Peter, 194).
6 See John 21:18ff.
7 This is the term that Luke used to describe Jesus’ death on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:31).
8 This will be done through the letter which he is writing (cf. Jude 3).
9 The sense that this is a reply to an objection is in the grammatical structure οὐ...ἀλλά or “not...but” in verse 16 (cf. also 1:21 and 3:9). While this could be rhetorical (2:4-5; 3:9b), it seems more probable that Peter is refuting the arguments of the false teachers (cf. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 204-205).
10 Peter treats the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration as an eschatological foreshadowing of the Lord’s return in His glory. This correlates well with the way in which the event is set up on the gospels when for instances Matthew has Jesus state, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (16:28). The next event is then the revelation on the Mount.
11 More specifically Peter, James and John.
12 Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36.
13 Second Samuel 7; Psalm 2:7.
14 Isaiah 42:1
15 This is no doubt an allusion to Numbers 24:17 “a star shall rise out of Jacob” which had a Messianic interpretation in Judaism (see also Mal. 4:2; Matt. 4:16; Luke 1:78; Rev. 2:28; 22:16). This star is a symbol for the coming of Christ which inaugurates the eschatological age.
Concerning the phrase “in your hearts” Bauckham writes, “The phrase ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν (‘in your hearts’) no longer appears surprising, once it is realized that only one specific aspect of the Parousia is being discussed, namely the Parousia as the full revelation of God to Christian believers .... The only point being made is that prophecy, as a partial revelation pointing forward to the full eschatological revelation, will become superfluous when the full revelation arrives. Naturally it will be ‘in their hearts’ that Christian believers will receive and perceive this revelation” (Jude, 2 Peter, 226). Later he adds, “He takes the opportunity briefly to indicate the value of such prophecy for his Christian readers. The lamp of prophecy lights up the darkness of this present world’s hopeless ignorance with a bright beam of hope. But just as a lamp is used during the night but becomes superfluous when dawn comes, so prophecy’s role is to give partial illumination to those whom it enables to hope for the full eschatological revelation of God. When Christians experience that full revelation at the Parousia of Jesus Christ, it will be like the daylight which dispels all the darkness of the night, and Jesus Christ himself will be like the morning star whose rising signals the dawn” (Ibid., 227).
16 There are traditionally two different ways of understanding this passage: (1) it speaks of the interpretation of prophecy in the present, or (2) it speaks of the interpretation of prophecy in the future. While both are possible, the evidence seems to lean towards the second view. While Peter could be arguing that Scriptural prophecy is not a matter of the false teachers’ interpretation, but must be in line with the meaning God intended (view one; see Blum, “2 Peter’ in EBC 12:275), it seems more probable that Peter is affirming that the prophets’ dreams and visions were not only by God but their interpretation of them was too. Bauckham writes, “This conforms to a widely accepted view of the nature of prophecy, according to which the prophet is given a sign (e.g., Amos 7:1; Jer. 1:11, 13) a dream (e.g., Zech 1:8; Dan. 7:2) or a vision (e.g., Dan 8:1), and then its interpretation. In true prophecy this interpretation is not the prophet’s own explanation of his vision, but an inspired, God-given interpretation. This it is possible that 2 Pet 1:20 counters a view which held that the prophets may have received visions, but that their prophecies, found in the OT, are only their own interpretation of the visions, mere human guesswork. This was one way of denying the divine origin of scriptural prophecy” (Jude, 2 Peter, 231; for a full discussion of the textual and contextual defense see 229-235).
17 Perhaps the false teachers are even accusing Peter and the apostles of making up their own interpretation of the events on the Mount of Transfiguration (cf. 1:16-18 above).
18 Some, such as Bauckham, affirms that Peter now depends heavily upon Jude for this portion of the letter (Jude, 2 Peter, 236-37), but this is not a necessary conclusion. Both Jude and Peter may be relying upon a similar source (see this writer’s introduction to either Jude or 2 Peter). One thing is certain, both authors speak in very similar terms and concepts, but they are crafted into their own thoughts. In addition this unit includes the predictions of the last times which is common with a final testimony (cf. Acts 20:29--30; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4).
19 When this unit is tied to its immediate context one finds a chiastic structure which provides a correlation and contrast between the apostles (whom Peter wants his readers to follow) and the false teachers (who will try to mislead his readers):
A Apostles (1:16-18)
B OT prophets (1:19-21)
B’ OT False prophets (2:1a)
A’ False teachers (2:1b-3)
Peter makes a smooth transition from OT prophecy to false prophets of OT time. This is a movement from his defense against the opponents charges to an offense where he will make charges against the false teachers (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 236).
20 Bauckham understands this description to mean that these false teachers are Christians, “2 Peter does not deny that the false teachers are Christians, but sees them as apostate Christians who have disowned their Master” (Jude, 2 Peter, 240). But this is not a necessary conclusion. This may well be a description of an unlimited atonement without also concluding that these false teachers are Christians. Christ died for them, but they have denied Him (either with respect to Christology or practical immorality. Blum writes, “In my judgment, v. 2 asserts that Christ ‘bought’ the false teachers; but this does not necessarily mean that they were saved. Salvation in the NT sense does not occur till the benefits of Christ’s work are applied to the individual by the regeneration of the Spirit and belief in the truth. To put it in other words, Christ crucified is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Yet the wrath of God is on all sinners--elect and nonelect (John 3:36; Eph 2:3)--till the work of the Cross is applied to those who believe.
‘Bringing swift destruction on themselves’ is ‘not a simple extinction of existence...but an everlasting state of torment and death’ (TDNT, 1:397). It will be ‘swift’ because it will descend on them suddenly either at their death or at the return of the Lord” (“James” in EBC, 12:276-77).
21 Although this unit is closely tied to the previous (“on whom”), the change from the future tense to the present tense probably indicates that this is part of a new unit where Peter is describing false teachers as his own opponents in the present (cf. 3:3, 5 where this occurs in the switch to another objection; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 245).
22 For a similar pattern see 3:9a.
23 These terms were often used to describe the inactivity of the gods (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 148).
24 Bauckham writes, “the OT examples are more than instances which establish the general rule (v 9b) that God punishes the wicked. They are also typological prophecies of the eschatological judgment. They foreshadow the doom of the wicked of the last days, among whom the false teachers and their followers are numbered, and so in their judgment certain. If the false teachers doubt the verbal prophecies of judgment, they should consider that there have also been acted prophecies.
The details of the references to the three examples in vv 4-6 bring out their typological character. The angels are detained in Tartarus awaiting condemnation and punishment at the final universal assize--which is to be the day of reckoning for all the wicked (cf. v 9b). The flood destroyed a whole world of ungodly people, thus prefiguring the only other universal judgment which the world is to suffer, the coming eschatological judgment (cf. 3:6-7). The burning of Sodom and Gomorrah was a warning example of the fate in store for the wicked in the future, especially of the cosmic conflagration in store for the wicked which threatens the ungodly of the last days (cf. 3:7) (Jude, 2 Peter, 256).
25 It is difficult to specifically identify Peter’s reference in this statement. It may be alluding to one of the following, or to all of the following:
(1) The original fall of angels form their exalted positions (cf. Deut. 32:8; Isa. 15:12; 24:21ff; Rev. 12:3-4,9)
(2) Allusions to 1 Enoch 6--19; esp. 10:5,6,15,16; 12:4; 16:1; 22:4,10,11; 97:5; 103:8
(3) An historical reference to the demonized despots in Genesis 6:1-4 (cf. 1 Enoch 7; 9:8; 10:11; 12:4).
These were all expressions of pride and arrogance.
26 See 2:9, 17; 3:7.
27 Peter is describing a universal scope to his judgment and implying that the coming judgment will also be universal (cf. 3:6-7).
28 This is an idiom which means “along with seven others” which include Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives (Gen. 8:18; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 250).
29 See the Sibylline Oracles 1:148-98 where his sermon is supposedly recorded. Noah exhorted his contemporaries with to righteous living in contrast to their ungodliness.
30 This is a pattern for the future judgment (cf. 3:7).
31 See Abraham’s plea for the righteous in Genesis 18:23-32.
32 As Bauckham writes, “The reference will be to practical disregard for divine authority by ethical misconduct. Those who subject themselves to the flesh cannot be subject to the Lord. Thus v 10a specifies the same two sins as in vv 1-2 (‘deny the Master,’ ‘dissolute practices’)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 255).
33 These are probably angles as in Jude 8. In addition these are probably evil angels since good angels are contrasted with them in 2 Peter 2:11. Bauckham writes, “It is not likely that the false teachers slandered the angelic guardians of the Law (as Jude’s opponents did) or that, as Gnostics, they reviled the demiurge and his angels. In these cases the author of 2 Peter would have regarded the δόξαι (“glorious ones”) as good angels, whereas in fact he seems to share his opponents’ view of them as evil angels. The most plausible view is that in their confident immorality the false teachers were contemptuous of the demonic powers. When they were rebuked for their immoral behavior and warned of the danger of falling into the power of the devil and sharing his condemnation, they laughed at the idea, denying that the devil could have any power over them and speaking of the powers of evil in skeptical, mocking terms. They may have doubted the very existence of supernatural powers of evil” (Jude, 2 Peter, 262).
34 There are several options with respect to the referent of “they.” Bauckham writes, “οι῏ς is the nearest antecedent for αὐτῶν and so, if it is correct to take οι῏ς as masculine, referring to the evil angels (see above), this interpretation becomes the most natural. The false teachers will share the fate of the powers of evil who will be eliminated at the day of judgment. The objection that this interpretation destroys the connection between the first φθορά, “destruction,” in this v (that of the animals) and the second (Mayor) is not valid. The comparison of the false teachers’ fate with that of the animals has already been made in the first part of the v and does not need to be repeated in the phrase ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν “(Jude, 2 Peter, 264).
35 The participles which follow are probably loosely dependent on “they will perish” explaining the harm they have done for which they will be destroyed (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 258).
36 This was a mark of degeneracy (see Ecclesiasties 10:16; Isaiah 5:11).
37 The church was to be spotless and without blemish at the Lord’s coming (cf. 3:14). Bauckham writes, “Like the blemishes on an animal not fit for sacrifice (Lev 1:3) or on a man not fit for priestly service (Lev 21:21), these immoral people were frustrating the church’s aim of holiness and could make the church unfit to be presented as a sacrifice to God” (Jude, 2 Peter, 266).
38 Perhaps this is parallel to the kind of activity that Paul had to deal with in Corinth (1 Cor 11).
39 Bauckham suggests that this means that “their eyes are always looking for a woman with whom to commit adultery” (Jude, 2 Peter, 266).
40 As with bait when one fishes.
41 Those not grounded in Christian teaching who are easily led astray. This is often the case with cults today.
42 They are trained like an athlete would be trained. They are experts in greed and make a profit out of their disciples.
43 See Numbers 22:21-35. “The false teachers are Balaam’s followers on the road of disobedience to God for the sake of financial profit” (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 267).
44 See Deuteronomy 11:28 (LXX); Proverbs 2:13; 21:16.
45 Bosor ( βοσόρ ) is clearly the best attested textual reading. Nevertheless, since this form of the name of Balaam’s father was not found elsewhere in the Scriptures, it was corrected to the LXX form βεωρ “Beor,” in a few MSS and versions. Green suggests that Bosor may represent ‘the Galilean mispronunciation of the guttural in the Hebrew name” (Peter and Jude, 113). Bauckham retorts, “A more plausible suggestion is that the form reflects a Jewish tradition of a play on the name and the word בשׂר (‘flesh’)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 267).
46 The prophet who should know God’s will was unable to perceive it, while a mere donkey uttered a prophetic rebuke--irony. Bauckham writes, “Why did our author include v 16...? Probably because he saw the opportunity of taking up a theme already mentioned in v 12: the false teachers are like α῎λογα ζῷα (‘unreasoning animals’). The same point is now make with humorous emphasis, but comparing them to Balaam, whose irrational behavior...was rebuked by an unreasoning animal speaking in rational speech.... He was so carried away by his cupidity that even a donkey knew better than he. Similarly the false teachers. That the author intended the donkey to represent his simple Christian readers (Reicke) is less certain” (Jude, 2 Peter, 269).
47 A dried up well is a discouragement for the traveler who is thirsty or the farmer who is trying to work the land.
48 Bauckham writes, “Instead of the damp mists which refresh the countryside in hot weather... ὁμίχλαι (“mists”) are the haze which heralds dry weather...and is quickly dispersed by a gust of wind...” (Jude, 2 Peter, 274).
49 These are probably new believers who are not established in the faith (1:12) and thus run the risk of slipping back into their former pagan ways.
50 Bauckham writes, “By removing the sanction of eschatological judgment the false teachers were encouraging their followers to return to the morally lax ways of pagan society” (Jude, 2 Peter, 274).
51 From the moral law? Or perhaps better “from the fear of eschatological judgment at Christ’s coming. The false teachers offer their followers freedom of from moral accountability and punishment.
52 This corruption is probably the consequence of their evil which ends in eschatological judgment (cf. 1:4; 2:12). This may well be a parallel from Romans 8:21.
53 This seems to be a common proverb (see also Rom. 6:16; John 8:34).
54 This is probably an allusion to Jesus’ discussion of resistant Israel to his teaching (Matt 12:45 = Luke 11:26).
55 Although some consider this to be a discussion concerning Christians (see Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 277), Blum seems to be more correct in his evaluation: “In my opinion, it refers basically to false teachers because (1) proximity makes the false teachers (spoken of in v. 19) the normal antecedent of ‘they,’ (2) the conjunction gar (untranslated in NIV) in v. 20 (ei gar, ‘for if’) logically connects v. 20 with v. 19, (3) ‘mastered’ (hettetai) in v. 19 is verbally linked to ‘overcome’ (hettotai) v. 20, and (4) the teachers are the main subject of the whole chapter....
Verse 20 mentions the possibility of reverting to the old paganism after having ‘escaped the corruptions of the world’ through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Is it possible, then, for Christians to lose their salvation? Many would answer affirmatively on the basis of this and similar texts (e.g., Heb 6:4-6; 10:26). But this verse asserts only that false teachers, who have for a time escaped from worldly faith are worse off than they were before knowing Christ. It uses no terminology affirming that they were Christians in reality (e.g., ‘sons of God,’ ‘children,’ ‘born again,’ ‘regenerate,’ ‘redeemed’). The NT makes a distinction between those who are in the churches and those who are regenerate (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Tim 2: 18-19; 1 John 3:7-8; 2:19: ‘They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us...but their going showed that none of them belonged to us’). So when Peter says, ‘They are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning,’ the reference is to a lost apostate” (“James,” in EBC, 12:282).
56 This is describing Christianity as a “body of ethical teaching” (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 278; 1 Tim 6:14).
57 Proverbs 26:11.
58 Bauckham writes, “This verse is the author’s final extension of his comparison of the false teachers with α῎λογα ζῷα (‘unreasoning animals,’ 2:12, cf. 16). He sees them now as unclean animals, dogs and pigs, which to the Jewish mind symbolized the immorality of Gentile life (cf. Rev 22:15)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 280).
59 These are no doubt the predictions with respect to the Lord’s return as in 1:16-21 above.
60 As in 2:21, this commandment probably has reference to the ethical aspect of the Christian message.
61 See the LXX Gen 49:1; Jer 37:24; Ezek 38 16; Dan 2:28; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1.
62 The term is ἐμπαῖκται describing those who scorn and despise God’s moral and prophetic revelation.
63 Although some identify the “fathers” as referring to first-generation Christians who are referred to by forger (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 291-93), it is more probably that this refers to OT fathers (cf. John 6:31; Acts 3:13; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:1).
64 Bauckham writes, “It may be that the scoffers are portrayed in vv 3-4 in deliberate antithesis to v 2. Whereas the readers are to remember the predictions of the prophets and the apostolic commandment, the scoffers reject the commandment by following their own lusts (v 3), and the predictions of the prophets by mocking the Parousia hope (v 4)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 289).
The rhetorical question is a standard OT form for enemies who taunt when God does not intervene to rescue (LXX Ps 41:4, 11; 78:10; 113:10; Joel 2:17; Mic 7:10; Mal 2:17; Jer. 17:15)
65 Bauckham writes, “the writer means that the water was, in a loose sense, the instrument of creation, since it was by separating and gathering the waters that God created the world. This also provides a good parallel with the next v, which states that by means of water he afterward destroyed the world” (Jude, 2 Peter, 297-98).
66 This corresponds with verse 5 and thus marks off another argument against the scoffers’ objection in v 4.
67 This is what the scoffers do in verse 5 ( λανθανέτω ).
68 This is derived from Ps. 90:4 (LXX 89:4). Its meaning is probably that in God’s eyes a long period may appear short. Peter is contrasting man’s perspective with God’s perspective. God’s perspective is not limited by the span of man, but extends over ages in accordance with His purposes. Therefore, one should not measure what He will do in terms of their own timetable. Nevertheless, one may still expect Him to act at any time with the understanding that what would appear to be a delay is really part of God’s total perspective on the course of history (see Bauckham’s discussion Jude, 2 Peter, 309-311).
69 Perhaps some Christians were beginning to consider the delay in the coming of the Lord as slowness on His behalf.
70 Bauckham understands this to be a possible reference to the false teachers and a probable reference to Peter’s readers who have been influenced by the false teachers and thus need to repent (Jude, 2 Peter, 313), but this is probably saying too much since the option to not repenting in this verse is experiencing the judgment of God. But the righteous will be delivered from judgment (cf. 2:7-8).
This verse has been a problem for many interpreters over the ages--especially those who are Calvinists who argue that the “you” is speaking to the church and therefore, affirms that the you is speaking to the “elect” and not every man. But this is saying more than the text seems to be affirming. The people of the church were once people of the world and thus demonstrate the effect of God’s gracious delay of judgment.
71 This is an onomatopoeic word ( ῥοιζηδόν ) meant to describe the effects of fire (hissing, rushing, whizzing, crackling).
72 This term, στοιχεῖα , may refer to the elements, the heavenly body, angelic powers or even all of the above.
73 See Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 32:16.
74 See 2:7.
75 This probably refers to the day which will dawn the Parousia and last forever.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of 1 PeterRelated Media
I. AUTHORSHIP: That Peter, the head of the twelve, was the author of this letter is not only strongly supported by the external and internal evidence, but is more logical than any of the objections raised against it
A. Identification: The NT had four different names for this individual:
1. Simeon (the Hebrew for Peter’s original name) (Acts 15:14; cf. v. 7; see also 2 Pet. 1:1)
2. Simon (the Greek name for Simeon applied 49 times in the NT)
3. Cephas (a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word for rock [ כֵּיפָא Κηφᾶς ]; this is used to play off of πέτρᾳ)
4. Peter (Πέτρος) the leader and spokesman for the early disciples. This is how he is addressed in the greeting emphasizing his authority to speak
B. External Evidence:1 The early Church regarded the letter as Petrine
1. Clear parallels exist in Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 96)
2. Traces of the epistle may be in Ignatius, Barnabas and Hermas
3. Polycarp (c 70-150/166) has definite citations form the epistle (but he does not cite it as Peter’s or mention Peter’s name)2
4. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria all quote this epistle as Petrine
5. Theophilus of Antioch cites this letter as Petrine
6. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-339) places it among the books that were accepted by the church without any doubt (homologoumena) and says that Papias (c. 60-130) used witnesses from 1 Peter3
7. The author of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lugdunum (Lyons) cites this letter as Petrine
8. It is not in Marcion’s canon, but he only mentioned Pauline letters
9. The Muratorian Fragment omits both 1 and 2 Peter (but the text of the fragment is open to doubt in its corrupted state)4
C. Internal Evidence:5
1. The Self-witness of the book: This offers a very strong case for Petrine authorship:
a. The letter claims to be from “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1)
b. The writer claims to be the readers “fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed” (5:1)
c. The writer identifies “Silas” (Silvanus) as one who helped him to write the letter (5:12; cf. Acts 15:22; 1 Thess. 1:1)
d. The writer also sends greetings from Mark (5:13; cf. Acts 12:12)
2. Objections to Petrine Authorship:
a. Linguistic and stylistic objections: Because the epistle has a good Greek style and has been influenced by the Greek of the LXX it is argued that Peter, a Galilean fisherman, was unable to write the letter:
1) But it is possible that Peter could have achieved fluency in the Greek language since it was wide spread throughout the Middle East and more than 30 years separate Peter the fisherman and Peter the writer
2) Since Peter was addressing Gentile converts, it is natural for him to employ the LXX
3) Also the book itself states that Peter used Silas as his secretary (5:12); this may account for its style
b. Historical Objections:
1) Persecution: Because of the persecution which these readers are facing (1:6; 2:12, 15; 4:12, 14-16; 5:8-9) it assumed that this letter must have been written at a time when Christianity has become illegal. Since the Neronian persecutions in Rome never spread to the provinces to which this letter is addressed (i.e., Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; cf. 1:1) then it must be dated during either the Domitianic or Trajanic persecutions which preclude Peter who was supposedly martyred by Nero6
a) But little evidence exists about the early persecutions
b) The assumption of general provincial persecution against Christians is not without problems--especially during Domitian7
c) While it is possible that the situation under Trajan may be reflected, the name ‘Christian’ (4:14) is not limited to that time (cf. Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:12), the persecution identified with Pliny was not necessary world-wide (1 Pet. 4:12).
d) Although the Neronian persecution was not beyond Rome, “Peter may well have imagined an extension of the attack and wished to warn the Asian Christians of what was in store for them”8
2) Travels: There are no known travels of Peter among the Asian churches who are addressed, but it would not have been unnatural for the leading Apostle to send a message of encouragement to Gentile Christians.
3) Eye-witness: Although Peter claims to be an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ (5:1), he was not present during the entire passion. But this does not prevent him from calling himself a witness!
c. Doctrinal: There is too much affinity of thought between this letter and the Pauline epistles and nothing very original, but Paul and Peter did share the same heritage of oral teaching, and, “even if Peter did utilize Paul’s wisdom, this is no strong argument against Peter’s authorship of 1 Peter. Paul’s gifts were well known in the church (Acts 15:1-2; Gal 2:11-24). A good shepherd like Peter would give his sheep the best spiritual food”9
II. DATE: Although it is not possible to be certain, this letter was probably written before or during the Neronian persecution (AD 62-64)
A. There are three main views to dating this letter depending upon which persecution one understands to be the focus of the letter:
1. Trajan’s (AD 111)
2. Domitian’s (AD 90-100)
3. Nero’s (AD 62-64)
The first two are not necessary conclusions and the third is most probable in view of the above discussion (“Historical Objections”)
B. Tradition understands that Paul and Peter were victims of persecution under Nero at Rome after the disastrous fire in the city of Rome on 19 July 6410
1. The death of Paul is considered to be before Peter’s
2. The timing of Paul’s death does not really affect the date of 1 Peter
C. The letter was written from “Babylon” (5:13) which was probably a cryptic title for Rome--the head of the then pagan, anti-God world (cf. Rev. 14:8; 17:5, 18)
D. Some considerations favor the Neronian persecution:
1. The doctrine and ecclesiastical organization may be early and favor a date not much after AD 60
2. The title of “elect sojourners” (1:1) may be descriptive of the scattering which occurred after the martyrdom of James, the Lord’s brother, at the hands of the Jews making the breach between the Christians and the Jews public (Acts 12)
3. Peter regards the state in a conciliatory way (1 Pet. 2:13-17) which would have been more difficult (but not impossible) at a later date (e.g., after AD 64)
III. RECIPIENTS: The readers were probably a mixed group of Jews and Gentile believers who were scattered throughout the northern regions of Asia Minor:
A. This is a circular (or general) letter, but unlike the others, it identifies its recipients:
B. The letter is addressed to those who are chosen (1:1)
1. This could refer to either Jews or Gentiles who are now a part of the people of God
2. This could refer to both believing Jews and Gentiles who make up the people of God
a. The LXX is used in OT referrals thus supporting a Gentile orientation
b. The terms “elected aliens of the Diaspora” all have a Jewish element to them
c. The former lives of the readers supports a Gentile audience:
1) Previous vain way of life (1:18)
2) Former lusts in ignorance (1:14)
3) The have done what Gentiles do (4:3, 4)
4) They were once a ‘no people’ but were called out of darkness (2:9, 11)
C. The letter is addressed to those who are from places in northern Asia Minor or modern Turkey (1:1):11
D. The Letter is written to those aliens residing in northern Asia Minor
E. The letter was written to those of mixed social status (slaves, 2:18-25 and free men, 2:11-17)
F. The letter was written to those who had not physically seen Jesus (1:8) and who were probably new converts (1:22; 2:2)
IV. LITERARY FORM / UNITY: An Epistle
A. Peter is a letter written in normal epistle form
B. The rhetorical and didactic nature of the letter may mean that it was intended to be read aloud to the congregations13
C. While Peter may have used material that existed in others forms (past teaching and preaching, hymns, catechesis, homilies), he now forms a letter which has meaning apart from the previously existing forms
D. Because of the doxology in 1 Peter 4:11 some have questioned the unity of the book:
1. Moule suggested that two letters were written by Peter at the same time and then were united in transmission (1:1--4:1 plus conclusion, and 1:1--2:10; 4:12--5:14), but it lacks any textual support14
2. Some understand Peter to have written a letter with a postscript for a particular church. While this is more likely than the former because it preserves the essential unity of the letter, the evidence does not demand such a conclusion since 4:12--5:11 would be generally relevant to all the churches addressed15
3. It is best to see this letter as a circular type of letter in its present form which was directed to all the churches in the areas mentioned in northern Asia minor.16 The doxology in 4:11 could be there for a number of reasons:
a. Perhaps Peter intended to end at 4:11, but further developments prompted him to add some more material before the conclusion
b. Perhaps in 4:12ff Peter is giving a brief practical summary of the theological points already mentioned
c. It is an appropriate place in the letter to glorify God who gives spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Timothy 1:17 where Paul does a similar thing); this solution seems best to this writer.
V. PURPOSES OF 1 PETER:
A. Although 1 Peter does bare the form of a letter, the tone is that of a homiletical, paraenetic sermon designed to provide direction for believers under persecution; at times it also includes theological considerations which support the ethical exhortations.
B. To emphasize for his readers the indissoluble link between doctrine and practice (5:12)
C. To exhort his readers under persecution to follow the example of Christ whose life was characterized by patient suffering (cf. 2:21ff)
D. To exhort his readers to live in the world in accordance with their high calling by maintaining a good report with the Gentile world (2:12ff) and by sustaining the unity of the community of faith (2:18ff)
E. To exhort his readers who are under the pressure of persecution to look to Christ with an eschatological hope of deliverance and blessing for faithfulness (1:3-12)
F. To exhort his readers who are living in a time which will provide increasing conflict to help and love one another or else the community will suffer injury (4:7-18; 5:1-2)
1 Guthrie writes, “So strong is the evidence for the use of this Epistle in the early Church that C. Bigg regarded it as proved and maintained that is was considered to be canonical as early as the word had a meaning” (NTI, 771). Continuing, “The very great weight of patristic evidence in favour of Petrine authorship and the absence of any dissentient voice raises so strong a presupposition in favour of the correctness of the claims of the Epistle to be Peter’s own work that it is surprising that this has been questioned (Ibid., 773).
2 But he would not have done so unless there was some special reason.
3 Ecclesiastical History 3.25.2.
4 Guthrie writes, “Although it may not have been used as freely in the West as in the East, there is no evidence that it was ever disputed (NTI, 773). Blum affirms that 1 Peter is reflected in the Gospel of Truth which seems to use the books regarded as authoritative in Rome (c. AD 140) (“1 Peter,” EBC, 12:215).
5 The strong internal evidence led to the universal acceptance of this letter as from Peter until recent years (Edwin Blum, “1 Peter,” in EBC, 12:210).
6 Guthrie, NTI, 775.
7 See Guthrie, NTI, 781-782.
8 Guthrie, NTI, 783. Childs writes, “Not only is it explicitly a circular letter, addressed to Christians at large, but its teachings are directed to faithful Christians living in the light of perennial threats to the faith” (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 457).
9 Blum, “1 Peter,” EBC, 12:211.
10 First Clement 5:4-7; cf The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible 3:755.
11 This order is either: (1) lacking order, (2) relating to the governorship of Pliny over the joint province of Pontus and Bithynia, (3) dictated by rhythmical considerations, or (4) the itinerary of the bearer of the letter who landed at a port of Pontus, visited the churches in the districts named in that order and then returned to Bithynia.
12 It seems that this is addressed to those who live in northern Galatia rather than those in southern Galatia who received Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Guthrie writes, “This conclusion is supported by the fact that Pontus and Bithynia, which formed one administrative Roman province, are yet not only mentioned separately, but one comes first and the other last” (NTI, 793). These would be areas where Paul did not really preach.
13 See Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27 and Revelation 1:3 for confirmation of this practice.
14 See Guthrie, NTI, 799.
15 Guthrie, NTI, 800.
16 Childs writes, Its canonical shape which renders its message accessible to future generations of Christians is not the result of a secondary redactional process which modified its original, highly specific reference (contra Moule). Rather, like the letter to the Ephesians, its catholic quality lies firmly embedded in the original form of the epistle (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 457).
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of 1 PeterRelated Media
In The Midst Of Severe Suffering Peter Exhorts His Readers To Rejoice, Grow, Remain Engaged (Submissive) To One Another, Do What Is Right And Entrust Themselves To God So That They May Bring Glory To God, Reach Others For God, And Receive Honor Upon Christ’s Return
I. SALVATION LEADS TO SANCTIFICATION--EXHORTATIONS TO REJOICE AND GROW: In spite of the readers hardships, trials, and uncertainties of faith, Peter exhorts them to be people who can rejoice in their certain future provisions for life and who will grow through God’s word to bring others to Himself since they are His messengers 1:1--2:10
A. Exhortation to Rejoice in Certain Future: Although his believing audience faces hardship, trials and uncertainties of faith, Peter exhorts them to rejoice in the certain provisions of God for their future--grace, peace, an inheritance and salvation 1:1-12
1. Introductory Greeting: Peter writes to believers who are chosen by the Triune God unto salvation and are scattered throughout northern Asia Minor praying that they would receive God’s full grace and peace 1:1-2
a. Address--Peter to Sojourners: Peter, the apostle, writes to those who live out of their homeland being scattered throughout northern Asia Minor 1:1
b. Nature of Recipients: Peter writes to those who are chosen unto salvation by the Triune God (Father, Spirit and Christ) 1:2a
c. Prayer: Peter prays that his recipients may receive the fullest measure of God’s grace and peace 1:2b
2. The Ability to Rejoice Under Pressure: Peter affirms that although his readers present circumstances may be difficult and the object of their faith may be invisible, they are able to rejoice because of the great provisions God has made for their future 1:3-12
a. God is Blessed for His Future Provision: Peter enriches God the Father’s character because He has caused believers to be born again unto a certain inheritance in the future 1:3-5
1) Born Again Unto a Certain Inheritance: Peter honors God because He has caused believers to be born again unto the hope of a certain inheritance 1:3b
2) According to Mercy: Peter affirms that God has done His work according to His mercy 1:3b
3) Future Inheritance Is Certain: Peter affirms that the believer’s future inheritance is certain 1:4-5
b. Rejoicing in One’s Certain Future: Peter affirms that believers rejoice in their certain future even though their present circumstances are uncertain in that they have trials and cannot see the object of their faith, namely Jesus 1:6-9
1) Rejoice in Future Inheritance: Peter affirms that believers rejoice in their future inheritance even through they face necessary (δει) trails which distress them, yet are designed (ἱνα) to bring praise, glory and honor at the future revelation of Jesus 1:6-7
2) Rejoice in Future Salvation: Peter affirms that believers rejoice greatly (δεδοζασμενῃ) in their future salvation even through their love and faith must now be in Him whom they have not, and do not, see 1:8-9
c. Salvation--A Prophetic Fulfillment: Peter affirms that the salvation which encourages believers today is very significant in that it is the same one which prophets (who wrote) and angels (who looked) desired to understand 1:10-12
1) The Prophets Sought This Salvation: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers is the same salvation that prophets diligently sought to pinpoint in terms of its person and time as they wrote 1:10-11
2) The Prophets Wrote for a Future Generation: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers was revealed to the prophets who searched for its exact fulfillment in their writings which were not for themselves but for a future generation 1:12a
3) Angels Longed to Understand: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers was something that angels longed to understand 1:12b
B. Penetrate The World As God’s Messengers: In view of their certain future Peter exhorts his readers not to alienate others, but to penetrate their world for God by adhering to His word for growth because they are God’s messengers of grace to their world 1:13--2:10
1. Penetrate and Love Others: Because of God’s future provisions for the life of the believer and the certain rebirth which a believer has received from God’s word, Peter exhorts them to penetrate their world and to love others 1:13--21
a. Be Involved in the World: Because of God’s certain provisions for the future, believers are therefore (διὸ) urged to be people of involvement in the world today 1:13-21
1) Prepare Your Mind: Peter urges believers to prepare their minds for action 1:13a
2) Inner Control: Peter urges to be in inner self-control 1:13b
3) Fix Hope: Peter urges believers to fix their hope completely on the grace which God will provide for them in the future 1:13c
4) Separate from Evil: Rather than being pressed into the mold of their former appetites, Peter urges believers to be like God and to separate themselves from evil 1:14-16
5) Live Properly Under Christ: Peter urges his readers to live properly because God will hold them accountable for their works and because God paid a great price to make them His own 1:17-21
a) Conduct Yourselves Properly in View of Christ as Judge: Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves properly because God will address their works as Judge 1:17
b) Conduct Yourselves Properly in View of Christ’s Sacrifice: Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves properly because God paid a great price to make them His own and to encourage them in their faith and hope 1:18-21
(1) Priceless Death of Christ: Peter reminds his readers that they were not redeemed with perishable things but with the priceless death of Christ 1:18-19
(2) The Death Occurred: Peter affirms that although the death of Christ was foreknown, it occurred in space and time to encourage believer’s faith and hope in God 1:20-21
b. Love One Another: Peter affirms that since believers are clean so that they might love other believer, they should love one another from the heart 1:22-25
1) Statement: Since the readers have purified their lives for a sincere brotherly love (φιλαδελφίαν), Peter exhorts them to constantly love one another from the heart1 1:22
2) Reason: The reason believers should love one another from the heart is because the word of God which is eternal has enabled believers to be born again 1:23-25
2. Build One’s Self on God’s Word as a Messenger of Grace: Peter urges believers not to be destructive of other to build up themselves, but to adhere to God’s word for growth because they are now His messengers of grace to the world 2:7-9
a. Put Aside Self-Serving Destructive Behavior: Peter urges his readers to put aside all of the characteristics which are destructive of others but are designed to build themselves up 2:1
b. Long for God’s Word: Peter urges his readers to long for God’s word which will enable them to grow in their salvation 2:2-3
c. Christ is Building Believers to Be Effective for Him: Peter explains that because believers have received Christ, who has been rejected by others, He is building them up around Him to be effective for Him 2:4-9
1) Statement: Peter explains that because believers have been receptive of Christ, He is building them up to be effective for Him 2:4-7a
2) Negative: Peter affirms that those who reject Christ and His word will stumble 2:7b-8
3) Positive: Peter affirms that believers are the ones through whom God is now working in His grace2 2:9-10
II. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH SUBMISSION: Peter exhorts his readers to be submissive in all of their relationships, even if they are wronged, because their good behavior will bring greatness to God, reflect God’s character to others, bring about a change in heart, and ultimately bring reward to themselves 2:11--3:12
A. General Introduction to Excellent Behavior: In a general way Peter exhorts believers not to respond in a natural way towards difficulties, but to be of excellent behavior so that the godless will exalt God 2:11-12
1. Abstain from Natural Desires: Peter warns believers to abstain from natural desires which war against their life even while they are in an estranged state 2:11
2. Be of Excellent Behavior: Peter exhorts his readers to be of excellent behavior among the godless in order that God, when He returns, may be seen to be great by the godless in the very areas in which believers were criticized because of their good works 2:12
B. Specific Exhortation to Submit to Governmental Authorities: Although believers are free, Peter exhorts them not to use their freedom as an excuse for doing evil, but to see themselves as servants of God who will submit to human governmental authorities 2:13-17
1. Submit to Every Human Institution to Silence Foolish Men: Peter exhorts believers to submit themselves, for the sake of the Lord to every human institution so that they may silence foolish men by doing what is right 2:13-15
a. Submit to Every Human Institution: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to every human institution for the Lord’s sake 2:13-14
1) Kings: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to kings as to those who are in authority 2:13
2) Governors: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to governors as to those who are to punish those who do what is evil and praise those who do what is right 2:14
b. Submit to Authorities: Peter proclaims that it is God’s will that his readers submit themselves to the authorities over them so that they might silence ignorant accusations 2:15
2. Exhortation to Use Freedom to Serve: Although believers live as free men, Peter exhorts his readers not to use their freedom to make excuses for doing evil, but to live as free servants of God who function properly within an ordered society 2:16-17
a. Live as Free: Peter affirms that believers are to live as free people 2:16a
b. Not Free for Evil: Peter warns his readers not to use their freedom to permit evil (as a covering or veil for evil) 2:16b
c. Free to Serve God: Peter urges his readers to use their freedom to live as servants of God 2:16c
d. Live Responsibility within Life’s Hierarchy: Peter urges his readers to live responsibly within the hierarchy of their world 2:17
1) Honor People: Peter urges believers to treat all people as having worth 2:17a
2) Love the Brethren: Peter urges his readers to love the brethren (ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε) 2:17b
3) Fear God: Peter urges his readers to fear God (τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε ) 2:17c
4) Honor Those in Authority: Peter urges his readers to honor those in authority over them 2:17d
C. Specific Exhortations for Servants to Submit to Those Directly Over Them: Peter exhorts his readers to be submissive to those directly over them, even if they are unreasonable, so that they might reflect Jesus Christ who Himself submitted to evil for the sake of them 2:18-25
1. Exhortation to Servants: Peter exhorts servants to be submissive to those who are over them--even if they are unreasonable (or crooked, σκολιοῖς ) 2:18
2. Reason--They Reflect Christ: Peter explains to his readers that they should be submissive to those who are over them--especially (only) when they have been treated unjustly--because then they reflect Jesus Christ who Himself submitted to injustice for their sakes 2:19-25
a. God Is Pleased with Unjust Suffering: Peter affirms that God is pleased only when believers bear up under unjust suffering 2:19-20
b. Reason--The Reflect Christ: Peter explains that the reason God is please when believers suffer unjustly is because He has called them to represent Him Who suffered unjustly for the sake of them all 2:21-25
1) Called to Unjust Suffering: Peter explains that believers have been called to suffer unjustly 2:21a
2) Reason--Believers Reflect Christ: The reason believers have been called to suffer unjustly is because they reflect Jesus who suffered unjustly for their good 2:21b-25
a) Christ Suffered for Believers: Peter proclaims that Christ suffered for believers 2:21b
b) Reason: Peter explains that the reason Christ suffered was so that they might also do what is right 2:21c-25
(1) Christ Did No Wrong: Peter affirms that Christ did nothing that was wrong 2:21c-22
(2) Christ Entrusted Himself to God: Peter affirms that Christ did not counter any suffering placed upon Him but entrusted Himself (gave Himself over, παρεδίδου ) to God 2:23
(3) Christ Suffered for the Sake of Believers: Peter affirms that Christ bore the consequence for the sins of believers in order to enable them to be free from evil’s dominion and able to live uprightly 2:24-25
D. Specific Exhortation for Wives to Submit Themselves to Their Husbands: Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands especially when they are not obeying God’s word so that they might correct their husbands; and husbands have a responsibility to honor their wives 3:1-7
1. Wives Are to Submit Themselves to Their Husbands--Even If Disobedient: Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands even if they are not following the word of God so that they may change them with their lives 3:1-2
a. Statement: As with servants above, Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their own husband so that if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by their pure and innocent lifestyle 3:1-2
b. Explanation: Peter explains that they way to be submissive is not by being primarily interested in external matters of purity but by being internally pure with thoughtful acts of considerateness and inner peace 3:3-4
c. An Example--Sarah: Peter provides Sarah as an example to follow because she obeyed Abraham by trusting in God even when he was wrong 3:5-6
2. Husbands Are to Honor Wives: As with wives, Peter exhorts husbands to live in an understanding way and to honor their wife so that their prayers will not be hindered before God 3:7
E. General Conclusion--Care for and Honor Each Other: Peter exhorts believers to show care and honor for each other especially when someone does wrong to them because God sees all and will deal with all at his return 3:8-12
1. Live in Harmony: Peter urges his readers to all live in a reciprocal, harmonious relationship with one another 3:8
2. Not Retribution but Blessing: Peter urges his readers not to show retribution in their relationships but to enrich those who do evil to them 3:9a
3. Reason--God will Judge All:3 Peter explains that believers are to do good in the face of evil because they might themselves receive a blessing (good words, εύλογοῦντες ) from God who sees all (good and evil) and will deal with all (good and evil) at his return 3:9b-12
III. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH SUFFERING: When believers are suffering Peter exhorts them to hold to God’s perspective and do what is right, to think accurately and entrust themselves to God, and to place themselves under God’s direction because these things will expose evil, bring others to Christ, not be sin, and yield a reward when He returns 3:13--5:11
A. Hold To God’s Perspective and Do Right: Peter exhorts believers under the burden of suffering to hold to God’s perspective and to do what is right as Jesus did because that will expose evil, bring others to God and is God’s design for them as they live free from the rule of sin 3:13--4:6
1. Look from God’s Perspective: As believers face the difficulties of suffering, Peter exhorts them to look at their circumstances from God’s perspective so that they do not do evil but good so as to expose evil and bring others to God 4:13-22
a. Believers Cannot Be Harmed:4 Peter affirms that no one is able to harm his readers if they are zealous for what is good 3:13
b. Suffering Righteousness is an Enrichment: Peter proclaims that suffering for doing what is right is an enrichment ( μακάριοι ) 3:14a
c. Do Not Fear People--Serve God: Peter urges his readers not to fear people but to serve God and gently explain to people their actions 3:14b-15
d. Obey God in Trials: Peter exhorts his readers to be people who do what God asks of them in trials because God will use their obedience to expose the evil of wrong doers and to bring others to God as Christ has done for them 3:16-22
1) Exhortation--Keep a Good Conscience: Peter exhorts his readers to keep a good conscience 3:16a
2) Purpose--Put the Critics to Shame: Peter explains that the purpose in having a good conscience is in order that ( ἵνα ) the critics of their good behavior may be put to shame 3:16b
3) Reason--Better to Suffer for Doing Right: The reason Peter exhorts his readers to keep a good conscience is because it is better for them to suffer for doing what is right, as Christ did for them, than for doing what is wrong 3:17-22
a) Statement: Peter explains that his readers should keep a good conscience because (γὰρ) it is better for them to suffer for doing what is right, if it should possibly be God’s will,5 than for doing what is wrong 3:17
b) Reason--Christ’s Example: Peter explains that the reason it is better to suffer for doing what is right is because ( ὅτι ) Christ, the Just One, died for the sins of all the unjust6 in order to bring people to God 3:18a-22
(1) Statement: Peter explains that the reason it is better to suffer for doing what is right is because Christ died (suffered, ἔπαωεν ) in behalf of sins once for all, the Just in the place of (ὑπὲρ) the unjust 3:18a
(2) Purpose--Bring Believers To God: Peter explains that the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection was in order to ( ἵνα ) bring believers to God just as His spirit has brought others to God before7 3:18b-22
2. Do What Is Right: Peter exhorts believers to do what is right even when suffering under the attacks of the godless because the gospel and God’s design are for them to live free from sin within themselves 4:1-6
a. Prepare to Suffer: Peter concludes that because Christ suffered physically for the readers ultimate deliverance, therefore ( ου῏ν ) they should prepare8 themselves to do the same 4:1a
b. Reason--They Are Free to Do God’s Will: The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because their freedom from sin’s domain is to do the will of God rather than to satisfy their own lusts as they did in the past 4:1b-3
1) Statement: The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because ( ὅτι ) the one who suffers in the flesh has ceased with reference to sin so as to live with reference to the will of God 4:1b-2
2) The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because ( γὰρ ) they had time enough before Christ to carry out their natural (Gentile) desires 4:3
c. Warning of Being Maligned: Peter warns that as they do what is right, those who are continually trapped in their lusts will malign (or defame) them in the present, but that they will also give personal account before God for this 4:4-5
d. The Design of the Gospel--to Change: Peter explains that the reason his readers should arm themselves with the purpose of suffering for good is because ( γὰρ ) the design of the gospel was to change those who are physically judged to live for God within 4:6
B. Think Accurately and Entrust Yourself to God: Peter exhorts his readers in their experience of suffering to accurately think that God’s light, purifying hand is molding them and to entrust themselves to Him as they support one another so that they will not sin 4:7-19
1. Think Accurately and Live Supportingly: Because Christ’s coming is near, Peter exhorts his readers to be people who think accurately and live supportingly so that they do not sin, but bring honor to God 4:7-11
a. Be Clear in Discerning and Aware Spiritually: Because the end is near9 Peter exhorts his readers to be clear in discerning10 and aware spiritually11 in order to depend upon God rather then themselves (for the purpose of prayer) 4:7
b. Be Committed to One Another: Because the end is near Peter urges his readers to be committed to one another through hospitality and spiritual gifts so that they will not sin 4:8-11
1) Be Diligent in Love: Peter urges his readers to be diligent in their lover for one another because love prevents12 many sins 4:8
2) Be Hospitable: Peter urges his readers to willingly be hospitable ( φιλόξενοι ) to one another 4:9
3) Exercise Gifts: Peter urges his readers to exercise their God given abilities in service to one another in order that they might demonstrate God’s great provisions for life 4:10-11
a) Serve One Another with Grace Gifts: Peter urges his readers to serve one another with their God given abilities (grace gifts)13 4:10
b) Peter explains that their service demonstrates God’s provisions for them be it encouragement through speech or helping others14 4:10b-11a
c) Peter explains that the purpose of using these God given abilities is in order to ( ἵνα ) demonstrate how great God is who rules in life 4:11b
2. Suffering is God’s Purifying Hand: Peter urges his readers to view suffering as God’s light, purifying hand upon them and to entrust themselves to His faithful care 4:12-19
a. View Suffering As God’s Good Purifying Hand: Rather than being surprised by suffering for their faith, Peter urges his readers to view it as God’s good purifying hand which is upon them and is much lighter than that awaiting unbelievers 4:12-18
1) Don’t Be Taken Back by Difficulties: Peter urges his readers not to be taken back15 that difficulties would occur in their lives to make them stronger 4:12
2) Rejoice--A Time of Vindication Awaits: Peter urges his readers to be glad for the pain which occurs for identifying with Christ because there is a great time of vindication ahead for them when Christ appears (*pokal*jei) 4:13
3) The Good of Suffering for Christ: Peter explains that, while suffering for evil is wrong, it is not shameful, but enriching, to suffer because of one’s identification with Christ, and that the readers present purifying is nothing compared with the punishment before rebellious unbelievers 4:14-18
b. Entrust Your Lives into God’s Care: Peter urges his readers to entrust their lives into God’s good and faithful care when they suffer in accordance with God’s desire 4:19
C. Place Yourselves Under God’s Direction: Whether believers are leading or simply interacting with one another Peter exhorts them to place themselves under God’s direction rather than letting the enemy destroy them through rebellion and God will reward their efforts 5:1-11
1. Leaders Are To Care for Those Entrusted to Them: As a fellow leader, apostle, and believer, Peter exhorts leaders to care for those entrusted to them rather than being self-serving and they will be rewarded when Christ returns 5:1-4
a. Exhortation by Peter: Peter exhorts leaders as a fellow leader, an apostle and a fellow believer 5:1
b. Leaders are to Care for Believer: Peter exhorts leaders to care for believers who are entrusted to them by not being self-serving but serving them 5:2-3
1) Shepherd the Flock of God: Peter exhorts leaders to shepherd the flock of God which is given into their care 5:2a
2) Care for Their Needs: Peter exhorts leaders not to care for others out of a motivation of their own needs, but out of a motivation of their people’s needs 5:2b-3
a) Because Leaders Want To: Peter urges leaders not to care for others because they have to but because they want to as God has given to them direction 5:2b
b) A Desire to Serve: Peter urges leaders not to care for what they can receive but with a desire to serve 5:2c
c) As Examples of Godliness: Peter urges his leaders not to lead as hard taskmasters but as examples in godliness 5:3
c. Reward for Faithful Service: Peter affirms that the Chief Shepherd, Christ, will reward the faithful service of leaders of the church 5:4
2. Submit to Each Other and Stand Against the Enemy: Peter urges his readers to submit themselves to each other, especially as under God’s caring hand, and to stand against the enemy who desires to destroy them knowing that God will deliver and restore them in time 5:5-11
a. Young Men Are to Subject Themselves to Leadership: Just as elders are to lead well under God, Peter exhorts young men to subject themselves to their leadership 5:5a
b. Everyone Is to Be Humble: Since God opposes the proud but gives support to the humble, Peter exhorts all of his readers to be humble with each other 5:5b
c. Everyone Is to Bow Under God’s Hand: Peter exhorts all of his readers to bow under the hand of God who cares for them and will exalt them at a later time 5:6-7
1) Statement: Peter exhorts his readers to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God 5:6a
2) Purpose: Peter explains that the purpose in his readers humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God is in order that ( ἵνα ) God may exalt them at a later time 5:6b
3) Explanation: Peter explains that the way his readers are to humble themselves under the hand of God is by depending on His care for them 5:7
d. Be Alert: Peter urges his readers to try to be alert so as to stand against the Devil who is trying to destroy them 5:8-9
1) Be Sober and On the Alert: Peter urges his readers to be sober in their spirit and on the alert 5:8a
2) Reason--The Enemy Is Trying to Destroy Them: The reason Peter urges his readers to be so keenly aware is because the Enemy is actively trying to destroy them 5:8b
3) Resist the Devil: Peter exhorts his readers to resist the devil by remaining firm in their trust of God and by being aware that they share their affliction with other believers 5:9
e. God Will Deliver: Peter affirms that after his readers have suffered their gracious God who has set them aside for Himself will deliver and make them whole in His eternal reign 5:10-11
IV. CONCLUSION--BE COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER: Encouraging his readers to continue following God, Peter sends greetings from those who have suffered and remained faithful and exhorts them to be committed to each other under God’s care 5:12-14
A. Silas’ Role in Writing the Letter: Peter mentions Silvanus who is known for his journeys with Paul as support for this brief but weighty letter proclaiming that they should trust in what God is now doing 5:12
B. The Greeting from Rome: Peter encourages his readers to do what is right through greetings from the church in Rome which is suffering and from John Mark who (has returned to faithful service) 5:13
C. A Final Exhortation and Prayerful Wish: Peter once again encourages his readers by exhorting that they be committed to each other and by mentioning God’s care in their lives 5:14
1 Literally it reads, “eVk kardiva” aVllhvlou” ajgaphvsate ejktenw’” “
2 Peter is playing off of the OT understanding of Israel (Isa. 9:2; 43:20-21; Ex. 19:6; Hos. 2:23). The church is now the people of God. Nevertheless, Israel is still a people of promise.
3 Peter makes allusion to Psalm 34:12-16; cf. also Psalm 11.
4 This is stated in a hypothetical third class condition for the sake of argument.
5 This verb is in the optative mood of possibility ( εί θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ ).
6 More literally, “once for all” (cf. Heb. 9:26).
7 The progression of this unit is as follows: (1) Christ was put to death physically but was made alive in His spirit 3:18, (2) In the spirit Christ made proclamation ( ἐκήρυξεν ) to people in Noah’s day but they refused and are now in prison 3:19-20a, (3) Those in Noah’s day who responded (eight in all) were brought safely by God through the waters of judgment upon the world 3:20b, (4) As in Noah’s day so is it now that believers will be delivered by God if they identify (are baptized) with Him; and this identification is not to be simply external but internal by appealing to God to enable them to do what is right in trials based upon His victory and rulership over all spiritual powers (angels, authorities, and powers) 3:21-22.
8 The term is ὁπλιζω with the sense of preparing a meal, getting chariot horses ready, or a soldier training, arming, equipping, and exercising. Peter is exhorting his readers to be ready for war, but their readiness is not to beat the living daylight out of them so much as to be willing to suffer out of commitment to them to bring them to the Lord.
9 Peter is describing the end of a cosmic drama. Literally the tense is perfect ( ἤγγικεν ) meaning that the end has approached with Christ and is continuing to approach since Christ. Jesus marks the beginning of the end times.
10 The term has the sense of being reasonable, sensible, keeping one’s head, temperate, moderate, self-controlled.
11 More literally the sense is to be sober---free from mental and spiritual drunkenness where one loses self control (cf. 1:13).
12 The term is καλύπτει meaning to bury, or cover so a heart does not see (cf. Luke 24:32). Perhaps this means that love buries or covers so that they do not come out. An idiomatic paraphrase may be, “love puts a lid on our sin.”
13 The term being played upon here is grace ( χάρισμα ).
14 When Peter writes, “let him do so as by the strength which God supplies” the term for “supplies” is χορηγεῖ which describes special strength to work in ways which are not normally available (e.g., “to pay the expenses for training a chorus”).
15 More literally the sense of the term ζενίζεσθε has the sense of being alienated, or being estranged.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of JamesRelated Media
I. AUTHORSHIP: Most probably James, the Lord’s half-brother
A. External Evidence: Though not decisive, there is good evidence for the epistle of James:
1. James is the first of the “Catholic” or “general” epistles which gain their name because they lack any specific address
2. Except for 1 Peter and 1 John the Catholic epistles have played more of a part in molding the Christian church than Paul’s letters
4. It is not mentioned in the Muratorian Canon, but this may have been to the corrupt state of this cannon (Hebrews and the Petrine Epistles are also missing).
5. Eusebius cites James among his disputed books (Antilegomena), but he refers to it as if it were genuine3
6. M. Mayor claims to find quotations or allusions to James in Didache, Barnabas, The Testaments of the Xii Patriarchs, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermes and some later second-century Fathers4
7. Guthrie writes, “On the whole it is not altogether surprising that this brief Epistle of James was not much quoted in the earliest period, for it did not possess such wide appeal as the more dynamic Epistles of Paul. It is the kind of letter which could easily be neglected as, in fact, the treatment of it in the modern Church abundantly shows and, once neglected, a fertile soil was provided for future doubts, especially at the time when spurious productions were being attributed to apostolic names”5
B. Internal Evidence: Though one cannot not be dogmatic, it seems reasonable to identify the author of this letter with James, the Lord’s half-brother.
1. The author identifies himself as James 1:1
a. Only two (2) NT people6 could fulfill this title of James and the half-brother of the Lord Jesus is the more reasonable choice:
1) James, the son of Zebedee, of the Twelve Apostles--but he is most probably ruled out since he was martyred in AD 44 by Herod, and the epistle seems to have been written after that
2) James, the half-brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the Jerusalem church
a) This is support by the simplicity of the description (e.g., a well known James)
b) In Church history it seems to have the Lord’s half-brother James who made a significant impact on the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 15; 21).
3) Some believe that the name is only a pseudonym attached to the letter to add authority and others see the salutation as a later addition, but these are not necessary conclusions7
2. If the half-brother of the Lord is the more reasonable of the two possible choices, than other internal evidence supports this conclusion:
a. The author has a Jewish background:
1) He draws upon the Hebrew Scriptures (1:2; 2:8, 11, 23, 25; 3:9; 4:6; 5:2, 11, 17, 18)
2) He employs Hebrew Idioms and style behind the Greek
3) He is concerned with the Jewish Diaspora and uses Jewish terms (cf. 5:4--”Lord of Sabaoth”)
b. There are similarities between James and the speech and letter attributed to James in Acts 158
c. There are similarities with James and the teaching of Jesus. Guthrie writes, “there are more parallels in this Epistle than in any other New Testament book to the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels”9
d. The rest of the NT supports James as a prominent figure who could have written this letter with authority:10
1) Yes, he was an unbeliever in the Gospels (Mr. 3:21; Jn. 7:5)
2) But James is among the brethren in Acts (1:14)
3) James was specially singled out for a resurrection appearance (1 Cor. 15:7)
4) James was the leader whom Paul met in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:19)
5) James held a authoritative position in the church at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:13ff)
6) James spoke with Paul on his return to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey and Paul agrees to James’ request (Acts 21)
e. The community appears to belong to the period before the fall of Jerusalem:
1) Rich land owners who preyed upon the needy was the case before the fall of the Jerusalem11
2) Guthrie writes, “In fact, in addition to the social surroundings of the community, the internal conditions of quarrelsomeness among the Christians may well point to an early stage in the history of the community before much maturity had been reached”12
3) The reference to ‘wars and fightings’ in 4:1 may have a context before the siege of Jerusalem by Titus
4) The “thoroughly Jewish background of the letter is evidenced by the absence of any allusion to masters and slaves and by the omission of any denunciation of idolatry, both of which would have been inappropriate in an epistle attributed to such a devoted Jewish Christian as James”13
II. DATE: Most likely c. AD 45-4914
A. As an ending date Josephus15 states that James was martyred in AD 62
B. There is no mention of the fall of Jerusalem16
C. There is no mention of the Jewish-Gentile controversy which arose in AD 49-50 with the Jerusalem council
D. The primitive character of church order17 suggests an early date
E. This letter was not mentioned in the Jerusalem Council (AD 50?) where James played a prominent role
F. Therefore, it may be appropriate to date this letter shortly before the Jerusalem Council (e.g., AD 45-49). This would make James the first NT book which was written.
III. RECIPIENTS OF JAMES: Probably Christian Jews who fled Jerusalem during the persecution of Stephen in Acts 7--8
A. James identifies his audience as the “twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (1:1)
1. The designation “twelve tribes” suggests a Jewish audience
a. This could be unconverted Jews
b. This could be Christian Jews
c. This could be Hellenistic Jews
d. This could even be Christians generally (both Jews and Gentiles--if one understands the church to replace Israel [which this writer does not])18
2. The following evidence suggests limiting the audience to Christian Jews:
a. The congregation’s meeting is a synagogue (2:2)
b. The Hebrew title “Lord Sabaoth” ( κυρίου Σαβαὼθ ) is Jewish (5:4)
c. The author identifies his readers as Christians (2:1; 5:7,8)
3. It is difficult to identify the exact location of these recipients:
a. The fact that they are “dispersed abroad” implies that they are not in one location
b. One possible reconstruction is that these believers fled during the persecution which came upon the heals of Stephen’s death in Acts 7--8.19
1) Acts reports that the Jewish Christians spread out over Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1), Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:19) as a result of the persecution of Stephen
2) If this is the case, than James would have felt responsible as their former pastor to offer instruction to them at this time
IV. THE THEOLOGY OF JAMES:
A. The character of the Lord is sovereign and good:
1. The Lord is the Sovereign of James (1:1)
2. The Lord cannot be tempted with evil or tempt anyone to do evil; He is holy (1:14)
3. The Lord is righteous (1:20)
4. God’s name is “fair” (2:7)
5. The Lord is the consistent source of every good thing in life with out variation in accordance with His will(1:17-18)
6. God is not partial in His judgments against the poor (2:1,5)
7. God is one (2:19)
8. God is to be blessed by men (3:9a)
9. God has made men in his own image (3:9b)
10. God is the Lord of Hosts who fights for those oppressed by others (5:4)
11. The Lord is coming full of mercy and compassion for those who patiently endure hardship (5:11)
12. The Lord will heal suffering that has come due to sin, when his people repent (5:13-16, 20)
B. The Lord acts on behalf of his people for good when they trust and obey Him:
1. The Lord tries men (1:2-3, 13)
2. The Lord gives men wisdom under trials (1:5-7)
3. The Lord will reward those who persevere under trials (1:12)
4. The Lord has implanted His word of deliverance in believers to preserve the lives of believers (1:21).
5. The Lord bless those who obey His word (1:25)
6. The Lord delights in the works of help and purity by his people (1:27)
7. God’s friends are those who obey Him (2:23)
8. God is the source of all wisdom for those who make peace (3:18)
9. As God’s people submit and draw near to Him, He comes to help them (4:7-10, 15a)
C. The Lord will not give wisdom to his people who do evil, but will pursue them with discipline and judge their evil works:
1. The Lord does not give wisdom to those who doubt in their asking (1:6-7)
2. The Lord will judge us in accordance with the mercy we show to others (2:12-13; He will judge teachers more strictly 3:1; He is the Lawgiver who judges 4:12)
3. The Lord does not give wisdom to men who only ask from God with wrong motives (4:2b-3)
4. God’s people become His enemies when they identify with the world against Him (4:4, 6b)
5. The Lord pursues His people, even when they are in rebellion (4:5-6a)
6. God is able to save and destroy (4:12)
7. God is the Lord of Hosts who fights for those oppressed by others (5:4)
8. The Lord is coming to judge those who are oppressive (5:7-9)
V. PURPOSES OF JAMES:
A. To unfold New Testament wisdom for living and not doctrinal issues so much20
B. The epistle is practical and designed to correct certain known tendencies in behavior21
C. James exhorts in a reasoned, cause and effect pastoral, manner his readers who are under trials to continue in obedient faith before the Lord so that they might receive blessing and help from Him rather than discipline in their disobedience
1 See his commentary on the Gospel of John 19:6 which mentions James with the following formula: “ὡς ἐν τῃ φερομένη ᾿Ιακώβου ἐπιστολῆ ἀνέγνωμεν.”
2 Cf. Ad Rom. 4:1; Hom. in Lev. 2:4; Hom. in Josh. 7:1.
3 See Guthrie, NTI, 737.
4 Guthrie, NTI, 738.
5 Guthrie, NTI, 739.
6 Although the NT makes mention of James, the son of Alphaeus (Mk. 3:18), and James, the father of Judas (not Iscariot; Lk. 6:16), neither have been historically considered as a possible author.
7 See Guthrie, NTI, 740, 753ff.
8 See Guthrie, NTI, 742-743.
9 Guthrie, NTI, 743-44. This may suggest that James is producing reminiscences of oral teaching which he previously heard for himself.
10 Burdick writes, “The authoritative tone of the epistle (forty-six imperatives) agrees well with the authority exercised by James in Acts 15:13ff.; 21:18” (“James,” in EBC, 12:161).
11 Guthrie, NTI, 746.
12 Guthrie, NTI, 746; cf. Acts 6?
13 Guthrie, NTI, 747.
14 Those who hold to the traditional view of authorship are split in their dating of this epistle. They either hold to an early date (before AD 50) or a date closer to the end of James’ life (e.g., AD 62). Those who do not hold to the traditional view of authorship date the epistle about AD 125.
15 Antiquities 20.9.1. Hegesippus states James death to have occurred in AD 68, but this is less probable (Eusebius, HE 2.23.28).
16 This would of been of particular interest to a Jewish-Christian audience. The social conditions of the letter also reflect a date prior to the fall of Jerusalem after which landowning Palestinian Jews ceased to exist (Guthrie, NTI, 763).
17 Elders are referred to (5:14, 16) as well as teachers (3:1) and the regular meeting-place of those addressed is identified as a “synagogue” (2:2).
18 See 1 Peter 1:1 where the term διασπορᾶς is also used. There it probably refers to both Jews and Gentiles. But James identifies those who have been scattered as “the twelve tribes” unlike Peter.
19 See Burdick, “James,” EBC, 12:162-163; Doerksen, James, EBC, 13-14.
20 Actually James has much in common with Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (cf. James 5:12 with Matthew 5:34-37; James 3:10-12 with Matthew 7:16-20; James 3:18 with Matthew 5:9; James 2:5 with Luke 6:20). It also has some in common with wisdom literature (cf. James 1:5 with Prov. 2:6; 1:19 with Prov 29:20; 3:18 with Prov 11:30; 4:13-16 with Prov 27:1; 5:20 with Prov 10:12).
21 Guthrie, NTI, 764.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of JamesRelated Media
When Believers Are Under Trials, An Obedient And Faithful Response (Quick To Hear, Slow To Speak, Slow To Anger) Toward The Lord And Other Believers Will Move The Lord In His Goodness To Provide Wisdom And Blessing For Their Needs Rather Than Necessary Discipline For Their Evil
I. An Introduction of Greeting: James1 as a servant ( δοῦλος ) of God and the Lord Jesus Christ sends greetings to the twelve tribes2 who are scattered among the nations3 (1:1)
II. An Exhortation to Face Trials in a Godly Way: James urges his readers to adopt a good attitude toward trials and not to incriminate God but to recognize themselves as the fountain of death because He is separate from evil and only gives forth life (1:2-18)
A. A Good Response to Trials: James encourages those under trials to be joyful with the knowledge that the testing of their faith produces endurance, to let endurance have its perfecting work in them, and to ask God for wisdom in faith, because they will be rewarded by Christ for their perseverance 1:2-12
1. Be Joyful: James encourages his readers to be joyful when they encounter trials with the knowledge that the testing of their faith produces endurance 1:2-3
a. Exhortation--Consider Trials Joy: James urges his readers, as his brethren, to consider it all joy ( Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ) when they encounter various trials 1:2
b. Reason--Testing Produces Endurance: The reason his readers should consider their trials to be joy is because they know that ( γινώσκοντες ο῞τι ) the testing of their faith produces endurance ( ὑπομονήν ) 1:3
2. Let Endurance Work: James affirms that his readers ought to let endurance have its perfect work in them in order that they may be mature and lacking in nothing 1:4
a. Exhortation--Let Endurance Have Its Perfect Work: James urges his readers to let endurance have its perfect result (work) 1:4a
b. Purpose--That They May Be Mature: The purpose of letting endurance have its perfect work is in order that (ι῞να ) the readers might be mature (perfect) and complete, lacking in nothing 1:4b
3. Ask God for Wisdom with Faith: The writer urges his readers to ask for wisdom from God when facing trials and He will give it to those who believe that He will help them as they do not doubt but reflect on the spiritual perspective of persecution in their lives 1:5-11
a. Ask God for Wisdom and He Will Give It: James urges any of his readers who lack wisdom (when faced with trials) to ask for it from God--who gives it to all men generously and without reproach--and God will give it to him 1:5
b. Ask In Faith without Doubting: James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting because those who doubt are unstable and will not receive wisdom from God 1:6-7
1) Exhortation--Ask for Wisdom In Faith without Doubting: James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without any doubting4 1:6a
2) Reason I--The Doubting Man is Unstable: The reason that James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting is because the one who doubts is unstable (like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind) 1:6b
3) Reason II--The Doubting Man Will Not Receive Wisdom: The reason that James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting (that He will help) is because the one who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because he is double minded and unstable ways 1:7-8
c. The Spiritual Perspective of Persecution:5 In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to reflect accurately on the spiritual perspective of persecution in their life 1:9-11
1) The Perspective of Persecution for the Poor: In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to let the brother of humble circumstances (poor) glory in his high position (before God)6 1:9
2) The Perspective of Persecution for the Rich:7 In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to let the rich man glory in his humiliation8 because he like the flowering grass will pass away in the midst of his pursuits9 1:10-11
4. He One Who Perseveres Will Be Honored: James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed he will be rewarded by the Lord as He promised 1:12
a. One Who Perseveres Is Blessed: James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed 1:12a
b. Reason--He Will Be Rewarded: The reason that James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed is because (*ti) once he is approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him 1:12b
B. Impute Yourself and Not God: James urges those being tempted to recognize themselves as the fountain of death rather than God who is separate from evil and only gives forth life 1:13-18
1. Do Not Accuse God: James affirms that no one should accuse God of tempting them with evil when they are tempted with evil 1:13a
2. Reasons Temptation Does Not Come from God: James affirms that temptation does not come from God who is completely separate from evil and only gives good gifts, but comes from ourselves 1:13b-18
a. Reason I--God Is Not Tempted Nor Tempts with Evil: The reason God should not be accused of tempting the readers is because He cannot be tempted by evil, let alone tempt others (with evil)10 1:13b
b. Reason II--Temptation Comes from Ourselves Not God: James affirms that the reason God should not be accused of tempting the readers is because temptation which leads to death comes from ourselves rather than from our good and consistent God who gives us life 1:14-18
1) Temptation from Self: James affirms that each one is tempted when he is enticed by his own desires which lead to sin and which ends in death11 1:14-15
2) Don’t Be Deceived, Be Confirmed in God’s Goodness: James affirms that rather than being deceived the readers should be confirmed in knowing that God in His consistency only gives good things concerning which our salvation is proof 1:16-18
a) Exhortation--Stop Being Deceived: James affirms that his readers are to stop being deceived12 1:16
b) Giver of Good Gifts: James affirms that (instead of sending temptation) every good and perfect gift comes from our consistently good Father13 1:17
c) An Example: James affirms that his readers (us) existence as born-again believers is an example of God being the enlightening source of good14 1:18
III. A Summary Exhortation to Action for Those Under Trials:15 In view of God’s regenerative work through His word, believers under trials are exhorted to receive without opposition God’s sanctifying word (be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger) 1:19-20
A. Readers Know of the Work of God’s Word: James affirms that his dear brethren know this (the regenerating work of the Word in their lives)16 1:19a
B. Readers Are Exhorted to Respond Well to God’s Word: James urges everyone to receive God’s sanctifying word (be quick to hear) and not to oppose it (be slow to speak, and slow to anger) when in trials 1:19b-20
1. Be Quick to Hear: James urges everyone to be quick to hear (the word when in trials)
2. Be Slow to Speak: James urges everyone to be slow to speak (when in trials)
3. Be Slow to Anger: James urges everyone to be slow to anger (when in trials) because ( γὰρ ) the anger of man does not achieve the uprightness of God 1:19b-20
IV. Obedience to the Word of God Yields an Experience of Salvation:17 James affirms that believers who are under trials need to remain obedient to the word of God in order to experience salvation in their lives by being quick to obey God’s word, by being wise in their speech, and by asking God to help them with their struggles rather than becoming angry and lashing out (1:21--5:12)
A. QUICK TO HEAR--James urges his readers to be quick to hear through obeying the inner witness of the word, not showing favoritism, and expressing their faith through good works which are helpful to others 1:21--2:26
1. Hearing Through Obeying the Inner Witness of the Word: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he obeys the inner witness of the word in the realms of guarding his heart, service and personal purity all of which yield blessing in life (1:21-27)
a. Receive the Inner Witness of the Word of God: When under trials, believers are to put aside all filthiness and wickedness18 and to receive the word of God which is active within them, and which will lead to present deliverance in life19 (1:21)
b. Do Not Forgetfully Neglect the Word of God: When under trials, one is quick to hear when he does not respond to the word of God with forgetful neglect but with obedience leading to the blessing of salvation in life (1:22-25)
1) Exhortation to Do the Word: James urges his readers to be doers of what the word says and not only hearers of the word who delude themselves (by false reasoning)20 1:22
2) Reason I--Not Doing the Word Is Inconsistent: The reason James urges his readers to do what the word says is because ( ο῞τι ) to not do so is to be inconsistent like someone who would forget who he is after looking in a mirror21 1:23-24
3) Reason II--Doing the Words Brings Blessing: The reason James urges his readers to do what the word says (the perfect law, the law of liberty)22 is because this is how they will be enriched (blessed) in what they do23 1:25
c. Examples--Valuable Religious Activity: When under trials, one is quick to hear when his religious activity is of value--as he guards his heart (controls his own tongue which leads his heart astray) and serves those in need with personal purity (1:26-27)
1) Fruitless Religious Activity: James describes as fruitless the religion of one who thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, but misleads his own heart 1:26
2) Fruitful Religious Activity: James describes pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father as to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world 1:27
2. Hearing Through Not Showing Favoritism: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he does not show favoritism toward the wealthy in order to prosper, but is committed to all people as the Lord was toward him (us) (2:1-13)
a. Prohibition Stated--Stop Showing Favoritism: James urges his readers stop holding their faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of favoritism24 (2:1)
b. Hypothetical Illustration that Partiality is Evil: James illustrates his prohibition against showing favoritism by affirming through a hypothetical situation that to show partiality to those who are rich (and may thus benefit the church) against those who are poor is to do what is evil (judge with evil motives) 2:2-4
c. Favoritism is Contrary to The Work of Christ: To show partiality toward the rich is wrong because it is contrary to the work of Christ toward men, it dishonors the poor man, and it honors those who are opposed to the Lord (2:5-7)
1) Favoritism Is Against the Work of Christ: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it is contrary to the work of Christ toward men who honored the poor in that he chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him 2:5
2) Favoritism Dishonors the Poor: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it dishonors the poor man 2:6a
3) Favoritism Honors the Rich Man Who Is Opposed to the Lord: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it honors the rich man who opposes them, personally drags them into court, and blasphemes the fair name of Christ by which they have been called 2:6b-7
d. Favoritism Will Lead to Judgment: James explains that for his readers to show partiality is for them to transgress against the ethical Law of the Lord which will result in future judgment [at the Judgment Seat of Christ] (2:8-13)
1) It is Well to Love: James proclaims that if his readers are fulfilling the Royal Law of Love,25 then they are doing well 2:8
2) Favoritism is Sin: James proclaims that if his readers are showing favoritism they are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as transgressors 2:9
3) Explanation: The reason those who show favoritism are convicted by the Law is because (γὰρ) one is guilty of all of the Law even if he keeps the whole Law and stumbles in only one point because it all comes from the same God26 2:10-11
4) Act As Those to Be Judged: James exhorts his readers to so speak and to so act27 as those who are to be judged28 by the Law of liberty because judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy, and mercy triumphs over judgment 2:12-13
3. Hearing Through Good Works: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26)
a. The Effect of Faith Without Good Works: James affirms that faith which is not expressed in good works will not bring about deliverance in life29 (2:14)
b. The Uselessness of Faith Without Good Works:30 For James the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17)
c. An Objection:31 One objects that there is no necessary connection between good works and faith (2:18-19)
d. An Answer to the Objection:32 James answers this objection, by demonstrating that there is a connection between good works and faith in that together they benefit other men in life (2:20-26)
1) There Is a Connection Between Faith and Good Works: James responds that there is a connection between faith and good works if one is willing to recognize it, namely, that personal faith is useless to other men if it is not expressed in good works (2:20)
2) Illustration I--Abraham:33 Abraham demonstrated to himself and before men that he had faith in the Lord when he offered Isaac on the alter (2:21-24)
3) Illustration II--Rahab: Rahab demonstrated before men that she had faith in the Lord when she received and delivered the spies out of Jericho (2:25)
4) Illustration III--The Body: The connection between faith and works is that works make one’s faith useful just as a spirit makes one’s body useful in life (2:26)
B. SLOW TO SPEAK--Hearing Through Wise Speech: Those under trials (especially teachers) need to be wise in their speech so that they do not destroy others with their words in an expression of natural wisdom, but so that they sow the seeds of life with inner purity and the external deeds of love in accordance with God’s wisdom (3:1-18)
1. Not Many Should Be Teachers: James instructs his readers that not many should be teachers because of everyone’s tendency to stumble in their speech which affects their whole lives and because only the mature are able to control their speech 3:1-5a
a. Exhortation: James exhorts his readers, as brethren, that not many of them should become teachers because they know that as teachers they shall incur a stricter judgment 3:1
b. Reason--All Stumble: The reason James exhorts not many of his readers to be teachers is because they all stumble (sin)34 in many ways 3:2a
c. Affirmation--The One Who Does Not Stumble Is Mature: James affirms that one who does not stumble in what he says is mature (perfect) and is able to control all of his life (body)35 3:2b
d. Support: Through the analogy of horses and ships James supports his thesis that one who controls a small part (his tongue) is able to control his whole body 3:3-5a
2. Tongue is destructive: James affirms that the tongue is destructive like fire because it cannot be tamed, but this should not be the case 3:5b-12
a. The Tongue Is Like a Destructive Fire: James notes that just as a great forest is set aflame by a small fire, so is it that the tongue is a fire--the very world of iniquity--which is set among the body parts defiling the whole person and setting the course of one’s life on fire by hell (the devil) 3:5b-6
b. Reason--It Cannot Be Tamed: The reason the tongue is like a destructive fire is because it, unlike beasts, birds, reptiles and sea creatures, cannot be tamed since we use it to bless God on one hand and to curse men who are made in God’s image on the other hand 3:7-9
c. Conclusion: James concludes that the same mouth should not bring forth both blessing and cursing because this is unnatural (as with water from a fountain, figs from a fig tree and salt water) 3:10-12
3. Speak in Wisdom: James urges those who are teachers (wise and understanding) to demonstrate this by their good behavior and their deeds in the self-control of God’s wisdom which is not characterized by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, but is characterized by an internal purity which manifests itself in acts of love which sow the seed of righteousness in peace 3:13-18
b. Not False Wisdom: James exhorts those who have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their heart not to be arrogant and thus lie against the truth because this kind of wisdom is not from God, but is earthly, natural and demonic 3:14-16
2) Reason--Not From God: James explains that harboring jealousy and selfish ambition is arrogant because this wisdom is not that which comes from the Lord (above),40 but is that which is earthy, natural and demonic because wherever jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is disorder and every evil thing41 3:15-16
c. True Wisdom: In contrast to false wisdom James affirms that the wisdom from God is characterized by inner purity which flows into external manifestations of love because the seed of righteousness is sown by peacemakers 3:17-18
1) Characteristics of Wisdom from God: In contrast to false wisdom ( δὲ ) James affirms that the wisdom from God (above) is characterized by purity which flows out into external manifestations of love--it is:
a) Internal Characteristic: first pure ( ἀγνή )42
b) External Characteristics which are expressions of love:
(1) then peaceable ( ε῞πειτα εἰρηνική )
(2) gentle ( ἐπιεικής )
(3) reasonable ( εὐπειθής )
(4) full of mercy and good fruits ( μεστὴ ἐλέους καὶ καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν )
(5) unwavering ( ἀδιάκριτος )
(6) without hypocrisy ( ἀνυπόκριτος) 3:17
2) Seed of Righteousness Is Sown by Peacemakers: James also proclaims that the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace43 3:18
C. SLOW TO ANGER--Hearing Through Remaining in Relationship with God: James exhorts those who are under trials to become slow to anger by ask God to help them with their desires, and patiently waiting for future judgment upon evil doers rather than seeking illegitimate resolutions like becoming angry and lashing out at one another (4:1--5:12)
1. Resolve Struggle: James explains that the source of quarrels and conflicts among his readers is in their attempts to resolve their desires in illegitimate, godless, external ways rather than repenting of their sinful responses and submitting themselves to God’s work in their lives 4:1-17
a. The Source of Struggle: James explains that the source of quarrels and conflicts among his readers is their desires (lust, passions)44 which wage war ( στρατευομένων ) in their members 4:1
b. The Lack of Resolution--An External Focus: James explains that his readers lack true resolution to their struggles because they attempt to resolve them through external efforts, approaching God with wrong motives, and committing spiritual adultery by becoming friends with the world, but God is graceful to the humble 4:2-6
1) An Attempt to Resolve the Internal through the External: James explains that his readers try to resolve their inner struggle through external quarrels and conflicts against one another rather than asking God for help: 4:2
a) Lust: They lust and do not have so they commit murder45 4:2a
b) Envious: They are envious and cannot obtain so they fight and quarrel 4:2b
c) They Do Not Ask: James explains that they do not have because they do not ask (God for what they need)46 4:2c
2) They Do Not Receive Because of Wrong Motives: James explains that his readers ask for help from God but they do not receive from Him because they are asking with the wrong motives--that they may spend it on their pleasures 4:3
3) Their Pursuit of the World Alienates Them From God, But He Is Graceful: James explains that as his readers have sought after their desires by making friendship with the world they have committed spiritual adultery against God who is jealous for their love and will give grace to those who are humble 4:4-6
a) Friend of the World/Enemy with God: James identifies his readers as being spiritually unfaithful (adulteresses)47 since their desire for friendship with the world makes them an enemy of God 4:4
b) God’s Jealous Longing: In view of the spiritual adultery which the readers are committing James explains that Scripture speaks with a purpose when it states that God jealously longs for his people’s love48 4:5
c) God Gives More Grace: James explains that even though God jealously longs for his people’s love He gives more grace (than his longing deserves) as one who is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble49 4:6
c. Resolution to Struggle: James announces that the resolution to struggle is in his readers deeply repenting and submitting themselves to God’s work in their lives and not in constantly denying their real need through focusing on externals like judging others or arrogant self-planning 4:7-17
1) Moving toward God and Away from Illegitimate Demonic Satisfaction: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by moving toward God with repentance and resisting the devil 4:7-10
a) Submit to God: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by submitting to God50 4:7a
b) Resist the Devil: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by resisting (standing against) the devil with the promise that he will flee from them51 4:7b
c) Draw Near to God: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by drawing near to God whereupon He will draw near to them 4:8a
d) Become Pure:52 James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by ceasing from doing evil (cleansing their hands) and plotting evil (purifying their hearts as double minded (double-lifed, δίψυχοι ) people 4:8b
e) Repent: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by repenting of their evil:
(1) Be miserable and mourn and weep 4:9a
(2) Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy be turned into gloom 4:9b
f) Humble Yourselves: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by humbling themselves53 in the presence of the Lord whereupon He will exalt them 4:10
2) Do Not Focus on Externals: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by focusing on external things like exalting themselves as God and judge over others or proclaiming positive, arrogant self-planning rather than dealing with their own sin and dependence upon God 4:11-17
a) Do Not Exalt Yourselves Over Others: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by exalting themselves as God and judge over others rather than dealing with their own lives as sinners 4:11-12
(1) Do Not Speak Against One Another: James urges his readers to stop speaking against one another54 4:11a
(2) The reason James urges his readers not to speak against one another is because by doing so they are speaking against the Law55 and are setting themselves up inappropriately as God and judge and there is only one Law Giver and Judge (e.g., the One who is able to save and destroy--the Lord) 4:11b-12
b) Do Not Proclaim Positive, Arrogant Self-Planning: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by proclaiming positive, arrogant self-planning rather than dealing with their dependence upon God 4:13-16
(1) Stop the Arrogant Self-Planning: James urges those who proclaim positive, arrogant self-sufficiency to not do this because they do not know what their life will even be like tomorrow 4:14a
(2) You Are Finite: James reminds his readers that they are finite (just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away) 4:14b
(3) Recognize Your Dependence Upon the Lord: James instructs his readers that in stead of their arrogant self-planning they should recognize their dependence upon the Lord's will in their life as they plan56 4:15
(4) Arrogant Boasting is Evil: James informs his readers that they are presently boasting in arrogance which is evil 4:16
3) To Deal with Desires Externally Rather than Internally with God is Sin: James concludes (ου῏ν) that if his readers know the right thing to do (do not deal with desires externally but with God [4:1-16])57 and do not do it, then they are sinning58 4:17
2. Wait Patiently and Do Not Attack One Another: Because God will one day hold the rich accountable for their evil to Christians, James exhorts hurting believers to wait patiently and not to attack one another because they will be held accountable 5:1-12
a. The Rich Will Be Held Accountable for their Evil:59 James tells the rich to mourn greatly because they will be held accountable for the evil which they have done to others in obtaining their temporal things 5:1-6
1) Greatly Mourn: James tells the rich to greatly mourn because their perception of that which endures is wrong since material things will disappear (corrode) and even testify against them in the last days when eternal things will be weighed60 5:1-3
2) Reason to Mourn--Their Evil is Waiting to Testify Against Them: The reason James tells the rich to mourn is because their evil toward others (such as not paying workers, living luxuriously on the loss of others, and using their authority to kill upright people who do not resist them) will be stored up and waiting for them 5:4-6
b. Persecuted Believers Should Wait Patiently Upon God: (Through the technique of interchange,) James exhorts persecuted believers to wait patiently upon God’s timing and not to attack one another because they will be held accountable 5:7-12
1) Wait As A Farmer: Because the rich are going to be held accountable when the Lord returns for the evil they do, James exhorts persecuted believers to wait patiently (strengthen your hearts) just at a farmer waits for the seasonal rains61 5:7-8
4) Don’t Manipulate by Lying:66 James exhorts believers not to manipulate by lying because they will be held accountable 5:12
V. Restoration Through the Community: In order to continue under sever trials, James exhorts believers to express their hearts to God and each other, always with the stronger helping the weak with sin so that life may be preserved (5:13-20)
A. Express Your Hearts: James exhorts each person to express their hearts to God and to each other in order to continue under severe trials 5:13-15
1. The Suffering Should Pray: James exhorts those who are suffering to pray67 5:13a
2. The Courageous Should Sing: James exhorts those who are courageous to sing praises 5:13b
3. The Spiritually Sick Should Seek Intervention:68 James exhorts those who are spiritually sick to seek intercession by the elders 5:14-15a
a. Call for the Elders: James exhorts the one who is spiritually weak to call for the elders 5:14a
b. Pray Over the Spiritually Sick: James exhorts the elders to pray over the one who is spiritually sick 5:14b
c. Anoint the Spiritually Sick: James exhorts the elders to anoint the one who is spiritually sick with oil signifying God’s blessing 5:15a
4. Results in Restoration and Forgiveness: James notes that the results of the prayer for the spiritually sick are restoration and forgiveness of sins 5:15b
B. Prayer Can Bring About Healing and Preservation: James instructs his readers that when they are involved in helping one another with sin in their lives through prayer, they can bring about healing and preserve others’ lives 5:16-20
1. Confess Your Sins to One Another: James exhorts his readers to confess their sins to one another in order to be healed 5:16a
2. James instructs his readers that prayer by upright people can do much as is illustrated by Elijah’s prayers 5:16b-18
3. James explains to his readers that their involvement with one another when they help one another with sin preserves life and covers over sins 5:19-20
1 See the introduction on his identity. He was the half brother of Jesus and a leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13ff; 21:18).
2 This description identifies the readers as Jewish.
3 These readers do not seem to be residents of Palestine but a scattered people. In view of 2:1, “believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” it seems that this audience is limited in its reference to believing Jews. Perhaps they were members of the Jerusalem church who were driven out of Jerusalem at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19-20). If this is correct, then James was once their spiritual leader (Acts 15) and now he writes with spiritual authority and knowledge of their needs.
4 The doubting not only relates to the existence of God, but to His willingness to help in our need. Doerksen writes, “It is a deep conviction that God’ is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him’ (Heb. 11:6), coupled with an acknowledgment of our need for help. We must believe not only in God’s ability to respond to our petition, but also His willingness to do so in conformity to His nature and will” (James, Everyman’s Bible Commentary, 21). Later he says, “‘Doubting’ speaks not of uncertainty but of internal indecision. It is wavering between two competing desires: self-interests and God’s interests. That doubting suggests a reluctance to commit oneself wholly to God’s care.... One may doubt because his is not fully assured that God will respond, or because he is not sure he wants God to answer (Ibid.).
5 James Burdick writes, “These are sobering thoughts that tend to reduce the rich to the level of men in general, just as the privilege of suffering for Christ lifts the poor man to a new plane of dignity and worth” (“James,” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12:170).
6 This high position relates to his position in Christ and possibly the honor which he will receive for suffering for the name of Christ (cf. Acts 5:41).
7 Donald Burdick writes concerning the persecution being described here, “The very same treatment that exalts the poor man and gives him a new sense of worth also humbles the rich man. Suffering shows him that, instead of having a lasting lease on life, his life on this earth is no more permanent that ‘a wild flower’ (cf. Isa 40:6-8)” (“James” in EBC, 12:170).
8 Perhaps this humiliation relates to the trials which he is experiencing.
9 James makes allusion here to Isaiah 40:6-7; see also Psalm 102:4, 11; 1 Peter 1:24.
10 Burdick writes, “That is, he cannot be successfully tempted. His omnipotent, holy will fully resists any invitation to sin. Furthermore, in him there is not the slightest moral depravity to which temptation may appeal. Therefore, it is inconsistent to think that God could be the author of temptation” (“James,” EBC, 12:172)
As Doerksen says, “There are certain passages that speak of God’s testing. He tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1) and Israel (Ex. 16:4; Judg. 2:22), but that was to build character, not to solicit evil” (James, EBC, 30).
11 Burdick writes, “A chronological order is suggested by the words ‘then’ and ‘after.’ First, temptation comes (v. 14); then desire, like a human mother, conceives and ‘gives birth to sin.’ In this graphic manner the author portrays the experience of yielding to temptation. Than sin, the child of evil desire, develops till it ‘is full-grown’ and ready to produce offspring. When it conceives, it ‘gives birth to death.’ James is not suggesting that only when sin has reached its full development does it result in death. The details of the illustration must not be pressed too far. The author’s intention is simply to trace the results of temptation when one yields to it. The order is evil desire, sin, death” (“James,” EBC, 12:172).
12 The construction is a prohibition with a present tense imperative ( Μὴ πλανᾶσθε ) which has the sense of stopping what you are doing (Dana and Mantey, § 290).
13 Burdick writes, “The context seems to indicate that the lights referred to are the stars and planets. ‘Father’ probably has the twofold significance, pointing on the one hand to the creation of the lights and on the other to God’s continuing sovereignty over them.
Unlike the ‘shifting shadows’ that are caused by the sun, moon, and stars, God ‘does not change’” (“James,” EBC, 12:173).
14 This birth is said to come “through the word of truth” and therefore, probably refers to spiritual birth rather than physical birth. This was accomplished by his choice ( βουληθεὶς ). These early Christians were to be the first portion of the harvest (firstfruits) of the many people (his creatures) who would believe in later centuries.
15 Doerksen writes, “The mention of regeneration through the Word (v. 18) fittingly introduces new thoughts concerning the Word. As the Word produces regeneration, so it is also a means of sanctification. After writing of the experience of the new birth, James continues with the challenge to live out the new life by means of the word” (James, EBC, 39).
Perhaps what follows is the “wisdom of God” offered in 1:6 for dealing with trials! These two verse seem to be programmatic for the next major unit of this book. The outline of the passage is given in 1:19-20. Then the next major section unfolds as follows: (1) Those under trials need to remain obedient to the Word for true life [1:21--2:26], (2) Those under trials need to be wise in their speech to give life [3:1-18], and (3) Those under trials need to ask God to help them with their inner struggles rather than becoming angry and lashing out [4:1--5:12].
The larger structure of this book may be as follows: (1) Introduction to People with Problems [1:1], (2) Basis for trusting God with Problems [1:2-18], (3) How to Go on with Your Faith in the Midst of Problems [1:19--5:12], and (4) People Helping People for Restoration in Life [5:13-20].
16 This is translating the term for “know” ( ῎Ιστε from οἰδε ) as an indicative rather than an imperative. If it is an imperative it refers to what follows (‘My dear brothers, take note of this:’) but if it is an indicative it refers to what has just preceded it.
17 James now unfolds his exhortation above in 1:19-20 in the context of particular issues which his readers are experiencing. His thesis is that by obeying God’s word when they are under pressure, they will experience salvation in their daily lives. God’s word not only offers salvation from the penalty of sin, but salvation from the effects of sin in this life. The tone of what follows is very similar to wisdom literature. By heeding the advise of James, the readers will find skill for living a more profitable life.
18 The readers are to strip off this moral filth like dirty clothes in preparation for the word (cf. Hebrews 12:1).
19 Burdick writes, “That the Word is described a ‘planted in you’ suggests the readers were believers who already possessed the truth. The phrase ‘which can save you’ simply describes the truth as saving truth. James is not calling for an initial acceptance of that message, but for a full and intelligent appropriation of the truth as the Christian grows in spiritual understanding” (“James” in EBC, 12:175).
Doerksen understands “saved” in the final eschatological sense (James, EBC, 44). One wonders, however, why this conclusion is drawn. It seems that the context emphasizes the present aspect of salvation rather than the past or future. They are experiencing trials and James is writing to offer help in this present situation.
20 See Colossians 2:4 ( παραλογιζόμενοι ). James is exhorting his readers to put into practice what the word says to them and thus what they profess to believe.
21 James does not want them to forget who they are (firstfruits for all that God has created [1:18]). Any failure to respond cannot be blamed on lack of understanding because this look is described as an intense observation.
22 This law is probably the ethic of the Mosaic law (cf. James 2:8, 12) where “law” is also used.
23 Could this be parallel to the wisdom of Psalm 1 (a wisdom/Torah psalm).
24 Literally this reads, “μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαιας ε῎χετε τὴν πίστιν ....” “Stop having the faith in favoritism ....” Burdick writes, “To say that practicing favoritism contradicts one’s profession of faith is another way of saying that one’s action does not measure up to the truth he professes to believe” (“James” in EBC, 12:177).
25 Again, this Law is the ethical code of Moses (Exodus 10; Deuteronomy 5 cf. w/ Leviticus 19:18; see also Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14). It is the law to love one another--all men be they rich or poor.
26 This may support the concept that the ethical Law is a reflection of the very character of God. Therefore to break any of the commandments is to rebel against God in his very person. To not commit adultery, but to commit murder is to not love one made in the image of God and thus to not love God Himself! What we do to one another we do to God (Psalm 51).
27 This is a literal rendering of the Greek which reads, “Ου῞τως λαλεῖτε καὶ ου῞τως ποιεῖτε.”
28 Since this audience is identified as being believers (see above), then this judgment must be referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Luke 19:11-27).
29 A major theological issue in James is the meaning of this verse. One may work with the problem in the following logical manner:
The field of meaning of the term for “save” ( σῴζω) is as follows: (1) To “preserve or rescue fr. natural dangers and afflictions” as in from death, mortal danger, disease, ill condition, (2) To “save or preserve from eternal death” and (3) One and two above at the same time (BAG, p. 798-799):
If the message of this unit is that when a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26) ...,then the “force or sense” of this question is in reference to the first denotation of σῴζω : “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers” and not those senses of two and three above. This meaning is further supported by the contextual placement of this unit: This statement falls in a unit addressed to believers--”my beloved brethren” (1:19), exhortations in 1:19 outline this unit for believers under trials, “the word implanted” is a new covenant description (1:21 cf. Jer. 31:33), reception of the word implanted is able to save the lives of those who are already brethren (1:19-21). Therefore, since they are already brethren (1:19), the eternal aspect of σῴζω is no longer an issue.
The analogy which follows (of words and food to a hungry man as faith and words is to deliverance) is temporal. A man is born once physically but is sustained by daily food. A man is born once spiritually but must be sustained by works.
One might illustrate James teaching in the following way: A car going down the street is about to hit you. You say to the Apostle Paul, “Faith will deliver me right?” Paul says, “Yes, you will go to heaven.” But James says, “Faith and works will let you live and have a productive life now--sooo get out of the street!”
Faith alone will not win approval at the judgment seat of Christ where our works are judged (1 Cor.3; Luke 19:11-27).
30 The example is designed to illustrate the proposition in 2:14 that faith which is not expressed in good works will not bring about deliverance in life (2:14).Therefore, the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17). The words are words of ‘faith,’-- “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” --but the actions of “not giving them what is necessary for their bodies” are in no way useful for their needs. Therefore, the example demonstrates that faith which is not expressed in good works is useless since it does not bring about deliverance in life (σῴζω ).
Another important question is what is meant by the statement “faith by itself, ... is dead”? 2:17
The field of meaning of the important terms is as follows--for the term “πιστίς:” (1) That which causes trust and faith, (2) Trust, confidence, faith in the active sense = believing, and (3) That which is believed, body of faith or belief, doctrine: (BAG, pp. 662-664).
For the term “νεκρά “ (1) Dead as in living persons falling dead, lifeless, morally depraved, separated, useless, and (2) The dead person (BAG, pp. 534-535)
If the message of this unit is that the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17) ...,then the faith described is an active sense of believing and not a body of faith or belief. Likewise if the message of this unit is that the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17)..., then “dead” is descriptive of a separation which is lifeless, or useless. Therefore, the sense of “faith by itself, ... is dead” is not that of “a body of doctrine which is not sufficient for eternal life,” but that “it is the act of believing which is useless in that it does not preserve life in the present as in 1:21.”To only express one’s faith without the necessary accompanying good works to help someone in their distress, is to express a faith which is not helpful to others; it is separated from life in its effects.
31 One might ask, “what is the meaning of the objector in 2:18-19?” It seems that he is arguing that there is no necessary connection between faith and good works:
“you have faith
and I have works
You show me your faith apart from works
and I will show you my faith by my works
You believe that God is one. You do what is right.
Demons also believe and shudder.”
The objection is that faith and good works need not be correlated with one another since they can be demonstrated to exist apart from one another. This misses James’ point concerning the profit of faith when expressed alone as opposed to with good works.
Therefore, the objector is arguing that faith must not necessarily be correlated with works to prove its existence, but James is arguing concerning the necessary correlation of faith with works in order for there to be any present benefit in the trials of life.
32 James offers evidence for the profit of combining works with faith through two illustrations: (1) the father of faith--Abraham, and (2) the epitome of a Gentile who had faith--Rahab.
Abraham’s good works of obeying God as he offered up his son who was to fulfill the promise already given to him, demonstrated to himself and others the justifying faith of the patriarch with God. Abraham’s works demonstrated the growth of Abraham’s faith to himself (2:22) as well as the truth of God’s earlier declaration of righteousness (2:23a). Abraham’s works demonstrated to others that he was God’s friend (2:23b).
Rahab the harlot’s faith also demonstrated to others that she had expressed believing faith in the Lord when she received the messengers of the Lord and then delivered them from her people who were under the judgment of God by sending them out another way (2:25).
In both cases, the works of the one who had faith in the Lord was a profit in present life trials. This fits well with the message for this unit: “when one is under trials, one hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26)”
33 One might ask, “how do we harmonize James’ ‘justified by what he does and not by faith alone’ (2:24) with Paul in Romans 4:1-3?
It seems that the harmonization lies in the emphasis of the two passages. In Romans the emphasis is “before God” where in James the emphasis is “before men.” For Paul, justification is to declare a sinner righteous in the sight of God: “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about: but not before God.” (Rom. 4:2). For James, justification is to vindicate or show that a person is righteous before men. In Genesis 22, Abraham demonstrates the reality of Genesis 15:6 (cf. also 2 Chronicles 20:7 where Abraham is called by men, “Thy friend forever;” Isa. 41:8; and John 15:14 where the disciples are told that they will be Jesus’ friends if they do what he commands them to do).This distinction of “before God” and “before men” is consistent with the message of James 2:14-26 where the emphasis is that: When one is under trials, one is a hearer of the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26). When faith is combined with good works, it brings about deliverance for others, and thus leads them to declare that one is righteous before God.
34 This term does not merely describe “mistakes” so much as acts of sin (cf. 2:10).
35 Burdick writes, “If anyone could be found who never sins with his tongue, he would never sin in any other way, either. Since sins of the tongue are hardest to avoid, anyone who could control his tongue would surely be able to ‘keep his whole body in check’ --keep it from being used as an instrument of sin” (“James” in EBC, 12:187)
36 In other words, those who are teachers among the Jews--the scribe and the rabbi (TDNT 7:505).
37 The term is πραῦτητι describes a strength under control. This is the gentleness which comes from wisdom.
38 This is a first class condition which assumes that this is true.
39 The prohibitions are both in the present tense with μὴ thus demanding the activity to cease.
Burdick writes, “James’s readers may have been priding themselves in their partisan defense of the truth--a defense that was to their own advantage and advancement. Through such bitter and partisan defense, they were in reality denying the very truth they were attempting to defend” (“James,” EBC, 12:190).
40 See John 3:3, 7.
41 Braudick writes, “James is no doubt speaking of disturbance and turmoil in the church. The ‘evil practice’ refers specifically to worthless activity, to deeds that are bad because they are good for nothing and cannot produce any real benefit...” (“James,” EBC, 12:191).
Doerksen suggests that these may be false teachers, “‘Truth’ may refer to the facts in a case, the truth; or it may speak of the truth of the gospel. If the second meaning is the case, the so-called wise teachers were actually living a lie against the gospel” (James, 88).
42 This is the absence of sinful attitudes and motives (in contrast to the self-seeking motives mentioned in 3:14-16).
43 Burdick writes, “James concludes his discussion of ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’ by reiterating the second quality listed in v. 17. To ‘raise a harvest of righteousness’ demands a certain kind of climate. A crop of righteousness cannot be produced in the climate of bitterness and self-seeking. Righteousness will grow only in a climate of peace. And it must be sown and cultivated by the ‘peacemakers.’ Such persons not only love peace and live in peace but also strive to create conditions of peace” (“James,” EBC, 12:191-92).
44 The term is ἡδονῶν meaning pleasures from which we get the term “hedonism.” Burdick writes, “Pleasure is the overriding desire of their lives. Nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of its realization” (“James,” EBC, 12:192).
45 Burdick appropriately writes, “Some, insisting that the word must be taken literally, say that James is not referring to any specific occurrences but is indicating what happens when men desire pleasure rather than God (Ropes, p. 255). This interpretation, however, does not do justice to the pointed accusation ‘You Kill.’ In the context of forceful words such as polemoi (‘wars’) and machai (‘battles’), it seems better to take phoneuete (‘you kill’) as hyperbole for hatred” (“James,” EBC, 12:193). See also Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15 where hatred is identified with murder.
46 Question--is what they are asking for what it is that they need? Or are they asking for symptoms of the deeper issues? Are the real issues tied to the original sins of lust and their envy? And are lust and envy the core issue? They are expressions of the heart’s longing which is met illegitimately (cf. 1:14-15). James will move in this direction with the next verses.
47 See Jeremiah 31:32; Hosea 2:2-5; 3:1-5; 9:1; Ezekiel 16.
48 This is probably the gist of passages like Exodus 20:5 and 34:14.
49 The last part of this verse comes form Proverbs 3:34. Burdick writes, “The reference to the gift of grace looks back to God’s demand for loyalty (vv. 4-5). God in grace gives his people the help they need to resist the appeal of the world and to remain loyal to him. The reference to ‘the humble’ constitutes the theme for vv. 7-10, where James pleads for submission to God. ‘The humble’ are the people who willingly submit to God’s desire for them rather than proudly insisting on satisfying their own desires for pleasure (cf. vv. 1-3) (“James,” EBC, 12:194).
Therefore, the difficulty which these readers may be finding themselves as God does not answer their prayers is in part due to his resisting the proud!
50 The term is ὑποτάγητε and is the logical response to 4:6 so that they might receive grace rather than God’s resistance. The writer is urging his readers to not flee from God under the fuel of their desires, but to remain in relationship to Him (submit).
51 The term for resisting describes a face to face confrontation ( ἀντίστητε ) as in Paul’s face to face confrontation of Peter in Galatians 2:11. Perhaps the Devil is brought in at this point because it is his “world system” which the readers are going toward as they seek resolution of their desires apart from God (cf. 4:4).
52 These words describe ceremonial cleansing as in Psalm 51:7-9; 16-17.
53 This is again an allusion to Proverbs 3:34 cited above in verse 6. Burdick writes, “Here the specific form of humbling is that of repentance for the sin of transferring affections from God to pleasures of the world” (“James,” EBC, 12:195). See also Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 5:6).
54 This is another prohibition with the present imperative with the sense that they are already doing this.
James does not seem to be speaking against evaluating whether someone is murdering or doing evil in this exhortation. We are supposed to do such things (cf. 1 Cor. 5; Luke 6:32). Rather, it seems that he is addressing those areas which are “questionable” (cf. Rom. 14) wherein people place themselves up as God instead of really dealing with their own sin!
55 Again this is probably the ethic of the Moral Law (cf. Lev. 19:18 “Love your neighbor as yourself”).
56 See Paul’s use of this phrase in Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; but note that he does not use it mechanically (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:28; 1 Corinthians 16:5, 8). Whether stated or not, Paul knew his life and plans were conditioned upon the will of God.
57 It seems that the right thing to do was explicitly stated as repentance in 4:7-10. James is exhorting his readers not to ignore their desires by doing evil (pointing their fingers at others and proclaiming arrogant autonomy). Positive thinking is not the button which moves God to resolve our lusts during hard times. God desires for us to be in touch with our real needs and to ask Him for help rather than just our wants.
58 Burdick writes, “It is like saying, ‘Now that I have pointed the matter out to you you have no excuse.’ Knowing what should be done obligates a person to do it” (“James,” EBC, 12:198).
59 “There is good reason to believe that the persons referred to in this section are not believers. It might be argued that they are personally addressed in the same way other groups are addressed in previous sections (3:1; 4:13). Since the epistle in general is written to Christians, it might be assumed that the rich of 5:1-6 are Christians just as the rich of 1:9-11 are. However, there are significant differences between 5:1-6 and the rest of the epistle. These individuals are not addressed as ‘brothers’ (cf. 1:2, 16, 19; 2:1, 5, 14, 3:1, 10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12). Furthermore, they are not called on to repent and change their ways but only to ‘weep and wail’ because of the judgment they are going to undergo. It is, therefore, more reasonable to understand the section as similar to OT prophetic declarations of coming judgment against pagan nations. It will be noted that the latter also are interspersed among sections addressed to God’s people (e.g., Isa 13-21, 23; Ezek 25-32)” (Burdick, “James,” EBC, 12:199).
These are those who are probably persecuting the readers. James is encouraging his readers that God will one day deal with the evil of these men by judging them.
60 Burdick writes, “The tarnish was indication of how long the hoarded wealth had lain idle. He warns the rich, ‘their corrosion will testify against you’” (“James,” EBC, 12:199).
61 Burdick writes, “In Palestine the early rains came in October and November soon after the grain was sown, and the latter rains came in April and May as the grain was maturing. Both rainy seasons were necessary for a successful crop. Knowing this, the farmer was willing to wait patiently until both rains came and provided the needed moisture” (“James,” EBC, 12:201).
62 A prohibition with the present imperative.
63 Burdick writes, “And the Judge is represented as ‘standing at the door,’ as if his hand is on the latch, ready to enter at any time” (“James,” EBC, 12:202).
64 Probably Jeremiah is an outstanding example of this--He was put in stocks (Jer. 20:2), throne into prison (Jer. 32:2), lowered into a cistern (Jer. 38:6).
65 See Job 1:21-22; 2:10; 13:15; 19:25-27; 42:10-17.
66 See Matthew 5:34-37.
67 The term for suffering ( κακοπαθεῖ ) was used above (v. 10) in its noun form for the prophets.
68 The purpose of this passage does not seem to be to give the reader a formula or pattern to follow when he or another believer is sick in a physical way. This view has been a traditional interpretation of the passage by evangelicals such as Doerksen (James, EBC, 13:29-134), Tasker (The General Epistle of James, INTC, 129) and Burdick (“James,” EBC, 12:203-204).
However, Daniel Hayden notes that, “If James 5:13-18 is a reference to special healing of physical illness, then it is totally unique to the teaching of the New Testament Epistles and disruptive to the argument of the Book of James” (“Calling the Elders to Pray” Bibliotheca Sacra 138:551 [July-September 1981]:258). He goes on to point out that nowhere else in the Epistles is there a special divine healing of the sick through the ministry of the elders. Timothy was told to take wine for his stomach (1 Tim. 5:23), Trophimus was left sick in Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), Paul’s infirmity was the work of God (2 Cor. 12:7-10), believers are encouraged to view physical distresses as working toward a spiritual benefit (Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Cor. 4:16-18) and as completing and perfecting them (James 1:4) (Ibid., 259). This segment, if on physical healing, also does not seem to fit into the flow of the preceding context concerning injustice (5:1-12) or the confession of sin following it (5:15ff). Therefore it seems that a different design must be sought which takes into consideration all of the elements of the text. True this could be the only text which addresses this doctrine of healing but a better explanation is possible.
It seems that the design of James 5:13-20 is to encourage his Christian readers, who are suffering persecution, to support and restore one another through the ministry of the strong praying for the weak.
This design can be supported through the specifics of the text as follows: (1) James has been arguing that trials and temptations are going to come and how the believer reacts to them is important (1:2-18). Then in 1:19--5:12 James shows how faith should respond to such trials. Finally, in 5:13-20 James provides specific instructions on how to restore those who are or have not reacted well and thus are discouraged. Therefore, this unit can and does fit well into the logic of the book.
(2) Two groups are addressed in summary form in verse 12 who will be developed throughout this segment. Those who are suffering from the hardship of persecution, not sickness (cf. κακοπαθεω, 2 Tim. 2:9; 4:5) and those who are able to keep up their courage during these persecutions (cf. ευθυμεω, Acts 27:22, 25). The latter will need to strengthen the former.
(3) Although some terms allow for a lexical meaning of ‘sick,’ they also allow for meanings which better fit into the context of the book, (e.g., ‘sick’ in 5:14 (ἀσθενεω). This term generally means weak and is used to describe a weakness due to persecutions, convictions, insults, and distress (cf. 2 Cor. 12:10; Rom. 14:2; 1 Cor. 8:11). To anoint (ἀλειφω) with oil has many expressions with those not physically sick (Lk. 7:38, 46; Jn. 12:3; 11:2; Mk. 16:1) and although Mark 6:13 could be used to support the traditional view, it seems that the concept of anointing the head with oil as a sign of blessing and refreshment from God better fits the passage in light of eastern, Old Testament culture (cf. Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 12:20; 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 45:7; 92:10; Amos 6:6; Matt. 6:17). The term in verse 15 for ‘the one who is sick’ ( καμω) specifically is used to describe one who is weary of enduring trials which God has set before him in Hebrews 12:3. The term ‘restore’ in verse 15 (ἐγειρω) does not necessitate physical healing (Matt 12:11) and may be a figurative way of describing the restoration of one discouraged. Also the term for ‘healed’ (ιἀομαι) clearly can have the sense of spiritual healing as in Hebrews 12:12-13 where those who are spiritually weak (weak hands and feeble knees) are said to be healed from their struggle with sin (cf. Heb 12:3-4).
(4) The movement from the work of the elders (v. 14) to the forgiveness and confession of sin (vv. 15, 16) is light of the above design is logically relating sin to one who is not persevering during persecution and the spiritual healing which comes from confession which enables the believer to then live a Spirit enabled life.
(5) the illustration of Elijah (vv. 17-18) is an appropriate one because Elijah demonstrated the possibility of effective prayer (1 Ki. 17:1; 18) even through he became discouraged under persecution (1 Ki. 19). It is also interesting to note that if prayer for physical sickness were in view, James could have used Elijah’s prayer for healing of the widow’s son (1 Ki. 17:17-24).
(6) The concluding verse of the book (5:19-20) are an encouragement for believers to minister restoration to one another for their physical and spiritual prosperity.
In light of the above the passage should probably not be used to support an obligation on God’s behalf to heal a believer who is physically sick because the doctors have applied medicine or the elders have applied oil and prayed. This passage does not support the Catholic doctrines of ‘extreme unction’ or ‘confession of sins to priests.’
Rather this passage is very similar in application to Galatians 6:1; John 13; and Hebrews 10:24-25. It is the responsibility of those who are strong in their Christian faith (e.g., elders) to support and encourage those weak believers who during difficult times become weary and are willing to apostasize in the sense of Hebrews. The weak believer has the responsibility to confess these types of sins (discouragement in their Christian faith etc) to those who seem to be doing well, and the strong have the responsibility to uphold the weak through the ministry of intercessory prayer. The Christian life is not to be that of independence but interdependence. The body of Christ is to care for itself. When believers are discouraged, they are to be encouraged. When there is sin in a believer’s life, there is to be restoration through confession and prayer.
This passage does not necessarily teach that there should be public confession of sin because in such a confession the weak would be present with the strong (which violates the set pattern) and because the purpose is for the strong to pray for the needs of the weak--not just to ventilate. However, there is to be a sharing of areas of sin and personal need for the purpose of a stronger brother to help (v. 19) and pray for the weaker.
God desires the body of Christ to work towards strengthening, restoring, and rejuvenating the spiritually weak. Perhaps oil might be placed upon the head of one who is physically sick because of sin (1 Cor. 11), but the oil was actually a sign of the ending of mourning and the entrance into life and festivity.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of HebrewsRelated Media
I. AUTHORSHIP:1 It is not possible to be certain about who authored the Book of Hebrews:
A. External Evidence: The external evidence offers some support for Pauline authorship, but it is not unanimous nor definitive:
1. Marcion Canon (c. AD 140): It was excluded from Marcion’s Canon, but he would not have liked the continuity between the OT and the NT
2. Muratorian Canon (c. 170): It was omitted from the Muratorian Canon, but this may be due to the corrupt state of the of the text of that Canon; but it was not included with the Pauline epistles
3. In The East: In the East the epistle was regarded as Pauline:
a. Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 150-215)2
b. Origen (c. AD 185-254)3
c. Chester Beatty Papyrus (c. AD 200): In the Chester Beatty papyrus (P46) places the letter among the Pauline Epistles after Romans4
4. In The West: The epistle was generally considered to be Pauline
a. Tertullian: Tertullian (c. AD 150-220) attributed it to Barnabas5
b. The Roman Church: The Roman Church disputed Pauline authorship, and this led others to reject the Epistle (Muratorian Canon, Roman Canon; African Canon)
c. Hilary: Hilary considered Hebrews to be canonical, but not Pauline
d. The Western Church: The later Western Church was influenced by the Eastern Church in that although they were not convinced of Pauline authorship, they compromised and proclaimed Pauline authorship in a unanimous way until the time of the Reformation6
e. Reformation: In the Reformation Erasmus, Luther, and Calvin all questioned Pauline authorship of Hebrews7
B. Internal Evidence: Although there are several things which can be known about the author of Hebrews, and several have been suggested as possible candidates for author of this book, it is not possible to draw any definitive conclusion about who the author of Hebrews is
1. What Is Known: Several things are known about the author of Hebrews, but these are not enough to identify this person:
a. The book makes no direct reference to the author
b. The author was probably a Jew:
1) The author was very familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures
2) The author was familiar with the practices of First Century Jews
3) The author may have been familiar with the hermeneutics of the first century (midrash and pesher)
2. Various Suggestions: Many have been suggested as possible authors of the book of Hebrews, but it is not possible to be definitive in one’s conclusion:
a. Paul: While many of the arguments could be weighed either way, it seems unlikely that Paul was the writer of Hebrews in view of Hebrews 2:3-4:8
1) Anonymity: Nowhere in the letter does the writer identify himself as Paul; this is very unlikely in view of Paul’s other letters. Apostolic authority is not mentioned either
2) Difference in Style: The Greek style is not typical of Pauline abruptness and digressions; it is more classical9
3) Absence of Pauline Spiritual Experience: The author does not place his experience into the letter as Paul is noted for doing in his writings
4) Theological Similarities and Differences:
a) There are theological similarities in this letter with Paul’s other writings:
(1) Faith is an important topic
(2) The use of Habakkuk 2:4 is only by Paul elsewhere in the New Testament10
b) There are theological differences11 in this letter with Paul’s other writings:
(1) The exaltation of Christ rather than resurrection is emphasized
(2) The redemptive aspects of Christ's work rather than the sanctifying aspects of Christ's work are emphasized
(3) The high priesthood of Christ is nowhere else emphasized by Paul12
5) Historical Difference: Unlike Paul who emphasizes that he did not receive the gospel from men (Gal. 1--2), this writer seems to have received the gospel from others13
6) Outside of Apostolic Circle: The writer of Hebrews seems to place himself outside of the Apostolic circle14
b. Barnabas:15 While there is some early support for Barnabas as the author of this epistle and some corresponding evidence in favor of Barnabas, the evidence is not determinative:
1) Early Support: Other than the suggestion of Paul, Barnabas is the only other suggestion which has early ecclesiastical support, but this is primarily restricted to the Western Church
2) A Levite: Some consider the fact that Barnabas was a Levite (Acts 4:36) to be support for his having written so much in the letter which concerns temple ritual16
3) Son of Encouragement: It is possible that a literary motif is being offered with the correlation that Barnabas was called the “Son of Consolation” (Acts 4:36) and the author notes that this work is a work of “consolation” (Heb. 13:22)17
4) Hellenistic Characteristic: Because of the Hellenistic character of the letter, some question whether Barnabas with his connections with Jerusalem and Cyprus would have been able to write with such an “Alexandrian slant;” but this may be saying too much since Hellenism had penetrated Cyprus by this time
5) Hebrews 2:3: Some question whether Barnabas would have described his introduction to the gospel they way which he did in Hebrews 2:3; but this is not determinative since 2:3 need not describe a second generation, and the Acts narrative does not specifically state how Barnabas learned about the gospel
6) Pauline Association: Some of the Pauline concepts and phrases could be explained on the basis of Barnabas’ close relationship to Paul (Acts 11; 13--14)
c. Luke: Although there are some early ascriptions which connect Luke with this book and literary affinities which may show a connection, it is not possible to be certain of Lucan authorship in view of the present evidence:
1) Early Ascriptions: Some in Origen’s day considered Luke to be the author of the epistle; Clement of Alexandria thought that Luke translated the epistle from Paul’s Hebrew18
2) Literary Affinities: Some have considered Hebrews to have literary affinities with Luke’s writing (e.g., Acts and especially Stephen’s Speech in Acts 7),19 however, it may also be that the author was aware of Luke’s writings and was influenced by them
3) Nationality: Some have suggested that Luke was a Jew, however, this is not possible to know for sure; he may well have been a Gentile who was familiar with Jewish thought through his relationship with the Apostle Paul
d. Clement: The parallels with Clement’s epistle have led to the notion that he was either author or translator of the work; but the differences outweigh the similarities; also, the similarities may be accounted for by Clement being aware of this epistle
f. Apollos: The positive evidence can not be argued against, but it is not determinative, and the negative evidence consists of mostly arguments from silence, but they bare consideration; this not an impossible hypothesis:
1) Luther has been very influential in affecting the opinion of others concerning this view
2) Support for Apollos as author of Hebrews:22
a) Apollos’ close acquaintance with Paul, thus accounting for the Pauline influences
b) His connection with Alexandria, which would account for the Alexandrian coloring
c) His knowledge of the Scriptures, which would explain the biblical content of the argument and the use of the LXX version
d) His eloquence, which well suits the oratorical form of the Epistle
e) His contacts with Timothy
f) His considerable influence in various churches
3) Weakness for Apollos as author of Hebrews:
a) There is no early tradition to support this theory
b) There is no evidence of literary activity on his part
g. Philip: Although Ramsay considered this letter to have been written by Philip the deacon to commend Paulinism to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, there is no certain evidence, this does not explain the Hellenistic approach in the letter as well as why there is not a greater emphasis upon Pauline thought in the letter
h. Priscilla: Harnack considered Priscilla to have been the author of the epistle23 and supported it in view of its anonymity since a woman would not have been regarded will as an authority source, her association with Paul, her instruction of Apollos, the inclusion of women in Hebrews 11, as well as other supposed signs of femininity, but these points are not determinative24
i. Jude: Dubarle25 considered Jude to be the author because of the similarities of vocabulary, syntax, stylistic processes, mentality and culture between Hebrews and the Epistle of Jude, but these may be due to the two author’s common Jewish Christianity
II. DATE OF THE BOOK: Sometime Between AD 68 and 95 (probably AD 68-69)26
A. Hebrews is known and cited by Clement of Rome in 1 Clement (AD 95)27
B. Hebrews bares no mention of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by Titus in AD 7028
C. The writer of Hebrews seems to regard the sacrificial system of the Old Testament to still be in operation29
D. Hebrews was written during the lifetime of Timothy whom the author knew30
III. RECIPIENTS OF THE BOOK: Although the recipients were most probably Jewish, it is not possible to be absolutely certain about which particular community of Jews the letter was written; Perhaps it was to those in the Palestine area
A. Jewish: All understand that this letter was probably written to Jews;31the question is what kind of Jews were they and where did they live.
B. Support for a Particular Community:32
1. Hellenistic Jews: Some believe that it was sent to Hellenistic Jew because all of the quotations came from the LXX and related texts, but this is not a strong argument because the LXX was in common use at this time throughout the Greek speaking world--including Palestine
2. North Africa or Cyprus:33
a. The Alexandrian coloring has suggested an Alexandrian destination, but the church at Alexandria never laid claim to the letter; rather, they assumed that it was addressed to the Hebrew people of Palestine by Paul
b. It has been suggested that the people lived in North Africa or in Cyprus, people who had an ascetic lifestyle similar to the Qumran community’s lifestyle. Evidence from Qumran suggests that the Qumran community had a highly developed doctrine of angels which would fit in very nicely with the thought of the author of Hebrews34
a. The letter seems to have been first known in Rome (since it was probably there for a while before Clement cited it in his Corinthian Epistle in AD 95
b. The closing Salutation in 13:24 ( οἰ ἀπὸ ᾿Ιταλίας) describes those who are away from Italy sending greetings home rather than those from Italy (in say Palestine) sending greetings to others; yet, it could go either way
c. Timothy (13:24) was known to the Roman Christians (Col. 1:1; Philemon 1--both of which are written from Rome)
d. The description of the leaders in 13:7, 17, 24 is similar to that in 1 Clement 1:3
e. The generosity of the readers in 6:10ff; 10:32ff would match that which was true of the Romans
f. The reference to meats in 13:9 my be similar to Romans 14 (hard to be sure)
g. The spoilation of goods referred to in 10:32 could be explained by either Claudius’ edict in AD 59, or Nero’s persecution (which would probably be too late)
h. But 2:3 would be difficult, the particular troubles in 10:32 are difficult to pin point, and there is no mention of Gentiles (yet this could have been to a group of Jews in Rome)35
a. This would be in the area of Palestine and possibly Jerusalem in particular
b. This is supported by the existence of the temple
c. The sense that the crisis is imminent thereby suggesting the coming siege of Jerusalem (1:2; 3:13; 10:25; 12:27)
d. The former suffering (10:32; 12:4) would relate to the persecution of the Jerusalem Jews in the Acts account (Acts 5; 7; 12)
e. There is no mention of the Gentile-Jewish controversy
f. The objections to this position (the way the author addressing them in 2:3; the discrepancy between generosity of 6:10; 10:34; 13:6 and the poverty of Jerusalem, the use of the LXX, the statement that the church had not yet suffered martyrdom in 12:4) are removed if the destination was Palestine rather than Jerusalem in particular
C. Spiritual Condition of the Community--Two Main Views:
1. A Mixed Audience: Some maintain that the recipients were Jews who were a mixed group. There were true believers and there were “professors”--those who said that they were really believers, but were not. The warning sections in this view would be to those who were not really believers in that a lapse back into Judaism would show that they really did not have faith in Jesus Christ (2:3; 3:12-14; 4:1; 10:25, 26, 29).
2. Believers: Some maintain that these are believers who are being tempted to go back under the umbrella of Judaism. The various warning sections would then be to refrain from putting themselves back under the bondage of Judaism (3:1; 4:6; 5:12; 6:4; 10:19, 32; 12:7; 13:1, 20-22)
IV. THEOLOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS:
A. The Incarnation
B. Jesus’ Substitutionary Death
C. Jesus’ Priesthood
D. The Relationship between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant
E. The Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New Testament
F. The Life of Faith
V. PURPOSES OF THE BOOK:36
A. Positive: To provide a “word of exhortation” (encouragement) to his readers to go on in maturity in their faith in Christ (13:22)
B. Negative: To warn his readers against the dangers of lapsing back into Judaism37
C. To instruct his readers about the superiority of Christ38
D. To instruct his readers through a letter (or better a sermon or homily)39
1 While this kind of background information is helpful, it’s absence does not impede the interpreter’s ability to understand the meaning of the Book of Hebrews since meaning resides in the words of the text in their context and not behind the text in the author’s mind.
2 Eusebius, HE, 6.14.
3 Although Origen considered the contents to be Pauline, he was not actually certain about who penned the book. He thought that one of Paul’s pupils might have written the book, yet mentions that some thought that Clement of Rome, or Luke might have been the author. His famous quote is significant, “But who wrote the Epistle God only knows certainly” (Guthrie, NTI, p. 686).
4 Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, second edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), pp. 37-38. Guthrie writes, “IN the majority of early Greek manuscripts it is placed after 2 Thessalonians and before the personal letters of Paul (NTI, p. 686).
5 De pudicitia, 20.
6 Guthrie, NTI, p. 687.
7 Luther relegated Hebrews to the end of his NT with the other books which he deemed questionable (e.g. after 3 John with James, Jude and Revelation). His own theory was that Apollos wrote it.
8 Nevertheless, Childs may have made an important canonical observation when he writes concerning the conclusion of Hebrews that, “The ending does not propose a direct link with Paul by attributing to him the authorship. Rather, it offers an indirect relationship through Timothy with whom the unknown writer shares a common ministry.” Later he writes, “The effect of the canonical ending, which has greatly influenced the usual positioning of the letter within the New Testament either before the Pastorals or after Philemon, is not to propose an easy harmonization with Paul, but to establish a context in which the different approaches to the great theological issues, shared by these authors, are viewed together as comprising the truth of the one gospel” (The New Testament as Canon, p. 417-418).
9 There is less of a burning passion and more of a literary control in the style of the letter. This is a weak and subjective argument, however. It is also possible that Paul employed an emanuencis.
10 See Galatians 3:11 and Romans 1:17.
11 Note that these are not disagreements but differences with Paul’s other writings.
12 Nevertheless, there is no necessary contradiction implied.
13 See Hebrews 2:3, “It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, ....”
15 See Zane Hodges, “Hebrews” in BKC, pp. 777-778 for a fuller discussion of this option
16 Guthrie makes a very important point, however, when he writes, “Nevertheless this detail must not be overstressed since the author’s main obsession seems to be the biblical cultus rather than contemporary ritual procedure” (NTI, p. 691).
17 The common work is παρακλήσεως.
18 Guthrie, NTI, p. 603.
19 “both contain reviews of Hebrew history; both stress the call of Abraham and mention Abraham’s non-possession of the land; both describe the tabernacle as divinely ordered; and in both the tradition that the law was mediated by angels finds a place” (Ibid.).
20 Acts 15:22, 27, 32, 40.
21 1 Peter 5:12 reads, “By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God;” (RSV). Nevertheless, it is difficult to be sure of the precise part which Silvanus played in 1 Peter.
22 The following comes directly from Guthrie, NTI, p. 695.
23 ZNTW 1 (1900): 16-41.
24 See a fuller discussion in Guthrie, NTI, pp. 696-697.
25 Revue Biblique, XLVIII (1939): 506-529.
26 For a more detailed discussion involving several options see Guthrie who concludes, “In view of all the data available, it would seem reasonable to regard this Epistle as having been sent either just before the fall of Jerusalem, if Jerusalem was the destination, or just before the Neronic persecutions if it was sent to Rome” (NTI, p. 718).
27 Hebrews 11:7 (cf. 1 Clement 9:4; 11:1); Hebrews 1:3f (cf. 1 Clement 36:1f). Therefore, it must have been written at least by this date.
28 This would have supported his thesis that the “old cultus” has passed away, and something better has been inaugurated.
29 See 8:4, 13; 9:6-9; 10:1-3.
30 “Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I shall see you” 13:23. We know that Timothy was still alive when Paul was about to be martyred in AD 68 (cf. 2 Timothy 4:9ff), but we do not know the later history of Timothy.
Hebrews 2:3 does not need to be understood to be referring to a second generation.
31 Note that some of them were inclined to remain in Judaism (13:13), and that they were well acquainted with the Old Testament and with rituals (cf. 7:11; 9:15; 13:13).
Not only this, but the title “ΠΡΟΣ ΕΒΡΙΑΟΥΣ” speaks of the book’s destination even though it may be late in nature (e.g., second to early third Century). It may have been added as part of the canonical process of joining the letter to the larger corpus. Further, as Childs suggests, “The title does not therefore refer to any specific historical referent, whether aramaic- or Greek-speaking Jews, but to those of the old covenant who form the major subject-matter of the epistle in contrast to those of the new covenant. In other words, the term is a theological construct in which an historical anachronism functions as a theological referent” (Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), p. 414; For another discussion of this topic see Guthrie, NTI, pp. 698-703).
32 The reason one moves toward a particular community is because the book writes to a people who seem to have a definite history (2:3; 6:9-10; 10:32-34; 11:4; 13:7), a definite link with the writer (13:18, 19, 23) and are a section of a larger community (5:12; 10:25). See Guthrie, NTI, pp. 698-700 for a more detailed discussion.
33 See Zane Hodges, “Hebrews” in BKC, pp. 779-780 for a fuller discussion of this option.
34 See Herb Bateman’s ThD dissertation soon to be placed in Turpin Library at DTS.
35 Guthrie says it best when he writes, “All that can safely be claimed, however, is that we know that it was used in Rome in the first century, but insufficient literature is preserved from other districts to enable us to pronounce more confidently on any alternative theory” (NTI, pp. 714-715).
36 See Guthrie for some other proposed purposes of the book of Hebrews (NTI, pp. 704-710).
37 It seems that a central issue revolves around the atonement. The Jewish system would say that Christ is not the atonement, whereas the Christian system would say that Christ is the atonement. Therefore, going back to the Jewish system is to say that Christ is not the atonement but that the “lamb” is your atonement.
38 The term “better” is used thirteen times in the book. Also, Childs is correct when he writes, “The canonical significance of the interchange between doctrinal and paraenetic sections is in reminding the reader that the christological discussions of the letter have an immediate effect on the believer” (The New Testament as Canon, p. 416).
39 Note that even though there is a conclusion and there are personal allusions, there is no introductory greeting and address as is the case with the form of letters in the NT. It has been suggested that this letter was originally a spoken sermon which was then written down (see Guthrie, NTI, pp. 725-727; Childs, The New Testament as Canon, p. 415).
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of HebrewsRelated Media
Because Christ Is Greater In His Person Than Those Of The Old Mosaic Covenant (Angels, Moses & Aaron) And Greater In His Ministry Than Those Of The Levitical Priesthood, The Writer Urges His Readers Not To Persist In Their Sinful Identification With Judaism But To Persevere In Faithfulness Toward Jesus Knowing That God Will Honor Them When He Returns To Fulfill His Promises
I. PROLOGUE--THE SUPERIOR REVELATION OF GOD’S SON:1 God’s Son is qualified to be the superior One through whom God Spoke his final word being revelation from God, the wisdom of God who is creator and sustainer of all things, the revealer of God, and the one who after making purification for sin was exalted above the angels to sit in honor as ruler over all things 1:1-4
A. The Revelation from God’s Son: Although in the past God spoke to the fathers in many portions and in many ways, in the present God has spoken to men in His Son 1:1
1. Past: In the past God spoke to the Fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways 1:1
B. The Work of God’s Son: God appointed His Son to be heir of all things and created the world through His Son 1:2b-c
1. Heir: God appointed His Son to be heir of all things5 1:2b
C. The Nature of God’s Son: God’s Son fully reveals God in His glory and nature, and upholds all things by the word of his might 1:3
1. Reveals God: The Son is the radiance (reflection)8 of God’s glory and the exact representation ( χαρακτὴρ ) of God’s nature 1:3a
2. Upholds All Things:9 The Son upholds ( φέρων ) all things by the word of his power 1:3b
D. The Exalted Position of God’s Son: After God’s Son had made purification for sins, he sat down to rule on high in honor above the angels with the inheritance of a more excellent name than they have 1:4
II. A MOVEMENT TO THE HEART OF THE OLD COVENANT--CHRIST IS GREATER IN HIS PERSON AND HIS MINISTRY THAN THE OLD COVENANT: The writer exhorts his readers to not turn away from Christ because He is greater in His person than those of the old Mosaic covenant (angels, Moses, & Aaron) and greater in his priestly ministry than the Levitical priesthood (being the mediator of a better covenant, the source of eternal salvation and superseding the inadequate Mosaic provisions for sin) 1:5--10:18
A. Christ Is Greater in His Person Than Those of the Old Covenant: The writer exhorts his readers to not turn away from Christ because he is greater in His exaltation than the angelic mediators of the Old Covenant, he is greater as God’s son than God’s servant Moses, and he is greater as a Melchizedekian priest than the Levitical priesthood 1:5--7:28
1. Christ Is Greater Than The Mediators Of The Old Covenant--Angels: The reason that Christ (in his exaltation) has become greater than the angels is because he is their King who was appropriately humiliated below them for a time to die for mankind and then was exalted above them to be the heir of all things, therefore, requiring the readers to pay close attention to the salvific revelation which comes through Him 1:5--2:18
a. Exposition: Because He Is Their King:14 The reason that Christ (in his exaltation) has become greater than the angels is because he is in an exalted relationship with God as the eternal, unchangeable Davidic Son (heir/King) who is to be worshiped by angels, and angles are the transitory, changeable servants of mankind 1:5-14
1) Son vs. Angels: The reason that Christ has become greater than the angels is because he was in an exalted relationship with the Father as the Davidic Son who was chosen and to be worshiped by angels 1:5-6
a) Exalted Name (Relationship):15 The reason that Christ has become greater than the angels is because ( γὰρ ) He is in a father-son relationship with God 1:5
(1) Called His Son: God never called angles His Son whom he has chosen as he did Jesus (Psalm 2:7)16 1:5a
(2) Father to Him: God never told angels that he would be a Father to them and they would be a Son to Him as he did to Jesus (2 Sam. 7:14) 1:5b
b) Exalted Position: The reason that Jesus is greater than the angels is because he is the chosen one whom the angels are to worship 1:6
(1) Chosen One: Jesus is the chosen one (first born)17 brought into the (heavenly) world 1:6a
(2) Worshiped by Angels: All of the angles of God were to worship the chosen one (first born) 1:6b
2) Angels as Ministers vs. Son as Heir:18 Angels are God’s transitory, changeable ministers whereas God’s Davidic heir is eternal and upon an eternal throne 1:7-12
a) Assertion--Angels Are Ministers: God describes angels as His ministers much like the wind and fire19 1:7
b) Argument--Son Is the Eternal, Davidic Heir: In contrast to the angels God’s throne is declared to be eternal as well as His anointed one who will sit on that throne 1:8-12
3) Son--King vs. Angels--Ministering Spirits: In contrast to the Son who is invited to share in God’s rule, angels are ministering spirits sent to serve mankind (those who will inherit salvation) 1:13-14
a) Davidic King:25 God never told any of the angels to sit at his right hand until he makes his enemies are made to be a footstool for his feet as he told Messiah 1:13
b) Exegetical Comment: God never told the angels to be seated as king because they are all ministering spirits sent to render service for those who will inherit salvation 1:14
b. Exhortation/Warning26--Pay Closest Attention to the Revelation through the Son: Because Christ is greater than the angels the writer exhorts himself and the community to pay closest attention to the greater revelation which they have received through Him because they will not escape an appropriate recompense for disobedience in view of that which was paid by those who disobeyed the lessor revelation through angels 2:1-4
1) Exhortation: Because Christ is greater than the angels the writer therefore ( Διὰ ) exhorts himself and his readers that they must pay closest attention to what they have heard27 lest they drift off course28 2:1
2) Reason: The reason ( γὰρ ) they must pay closest attention to what they have heard is because they have a greater salvation through a greater revelation than that which was revealed in the OT and there were severe consequences to those who disobeyed the lesser revelation 2:2-4
b) Present Revelation through the Lord: The community will not escape a just recompense31 if they neglect so a great a salvation which was first spoken (by God) through the Lord Himself and was confirmed (guaranteed) to the community by those32 who heard it from the Lord with God endorsing their witness according to His own will by signs & wonders,33 various miracles,34 and by the distribution of gifts of the Holy Spirit35 2:3-4
c. Exposition--Because of His Ministry in His Humiliation:36 The reason that Christ (in his exaltation) has become greater than the angels is because God did not subject the world to come to the rule of angels but to Jesus, the Son of Man, who was appropriate in his humiliation below the angels for a time to die for all men, and then was exalted over all things 2:5-18
1) Humiliation and Glory of the Son:37 God did not subject the world to come to the rule of angels but to Jesus, the Son of Man, who was humiliated by being made for a time lower than the angels and tasting of death for all men, but was thus exalted as ruler over all things 2:5-9
b) Rule by the Son of Man: Although the Son of Man (Jesus) was humiliated by being temporarily lower than the angels and tasting death for everyone, God exalted him as ruler over all things 2:6-9
(1) Humiliation:40 One wonders why God remembers man or is concerned about the Son of Man (Messiah) since God made him for a little while lower than the angels 2:6-7a
(2) Exaltation: God exalted (the Son of Man--Messiah) by crowning him with glory and honor, appointing Him over the work's of God's hands, and putting all things in subjection under his feet 2:7b-8
(3) Human Experience: Although all things are truly subject to Messiah, believers do not presently see this reality, but they do see Jesus who was humiliated that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone41 and who was crowned with glory and honor 2:9
2) The Identification of the Son with the Human Family Is Appropriate: Jesus is not ashamed to call those whom He consecrates his brethren because He shared their humanity in order that he might deliver them from death by becoming a merciful and faithful high priest who made propitiation for the sins of his people by suffering the test of death so that he might help those who are tested 2:10-18
a) Statement of Solidarity: As the One whom God made perfect through salvific suffering, Jesus does not blush to call those whom he consecrates his brothers as from the same Father 2:10-11
(1) Perfection through Suffering: It was appropriate that God, for whom and through whom everything exists,42 should make perfect43 through suffering the Champion44 who secured the salvation of the many sons being brought to glory45 2:10
(2) All of One Origin--Brothers: The one who consecrates46 human beings and those whom He consecrates are all of one origin (Father),47 therefore, Jesus does not blush to call those whom he consecrates his brothers 2:11
b) Illustrations of Solidarity: The writer of Hebrews proclaims Jesus’ solidarity with men through the images of Davidite and Prophet in that men are his brethren and children 2:12-13
(1) The Davidite to His Brethren: As the Suffering Davidite who has been delivered by the Lord (Psalm 22:22) Jesus promises to praise the Lord to His brethren48 2:12
(2) The Prophet and His Children: As the Lord's prophet (Isa.8:17-18) Jesus proclaims His trust in the Lord along with the children whom God has given to Him49 2:13
c) Implications of Solidarity: Jesus shared the humanity of his brethren in order that He might deliver them from death by becoming a merciful and faithful high priest who made propitiation for the sins of his people by suffering the test of death so that he might help those who are tested 2:14-18
(1) Shared Humanity for Deliverance: Just as children share a mortal human nature, Jesus shared in the humanity of his brethren (unlike angels) in order that He might break the power of the devil who holds death50 and liberate those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death 2:14-16
(2) A Transitionary Conclusion--A Tested High Priest:51 It was essential for Christ to be made like His brethren in every respect in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest to make propitiation (satisfaction) with regard to the sins of the people suffering the test of death in order that He might help those who are being tested52 2:17-18
2. Christ Is Greater Than the Servant--Moses:53 The writer exhorts the readers to consider Jesus as more glorious than Moses because He is God’s Son who is over the readers, therefore, they are not to become rebellious in their unbelief as Israel was under Moses, but to be diligent to enter into God’s sabbath rest through faith in Jesus understanding that Jesus, their high priest, can sympathize with their weakness and give them mercy and grace to help them in their time of need 3:1--4:16
a. Exposition54--Christ is a Faithful Ruler Over Moses: The author exhorts those who are holy and partakers of a heavenly calling to consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of their confession as One who was faithful to God as Moses was, and yet more glorious than Moses because he is the Son over God’s house (tabernacle) which is the readers if they continue in their confidence and hope until the end 3:1-6
1) Introduction of the Comparison Between Moses and Jesus: The author exhorts those who are holy and partakers of a heavenly calling to consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of their confession as One who was faithful to God as Moses was in all of God’s house 3:1-2
a) Consider Jesus--Apostle and High Priest: The author exhorts those who are holy brethren and partakers of a heavenly calling to consider Jesus--the Apostle and High Priest55 of whom their confession speaks 3:1
b) Faithful to God as Was Moses: The author exhorts his readers to consider that Jesus was faithful to God who appointed Him as Moses also was in all of God’s house56 3:2
2) Assertion and Explanation of Jesus’ Superiority to Moses: The reason the brethren should consider Jesus is because He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses who was a faithful servant in the house while was the Son over God’s house 3:3-6a
a) Assertion of Jesus’ Superiority: The reason the brethren should consider Jesus is because He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses just as the builder of the house has more honor than the house, or God has more honor than the universe He created57 3:3-4
3) Relevance of Jesus’ Superiority to Moses for the Congregation: The relevance of Jesus’ superiority to Moses for the congregation is that they are the house60 which He is over if they continue in their confidence and hope until the end61 3:6b
b. Warning/Exhortation Based Upon Israel’s Rebellious Response to God Under Moses--Be Faithful:62 Through the inspired text of Psalm 95 the writer warns the readers against a rebellious unbelief towards God lest they be like rebellious Israel who died without entering into their eschatological rest, and encourages them, in view of the continuing possibility to enter into God’s sabbath rest, to be diligent to enter into it by faith because the word of God will expose their deep (rebellious) motives 3:7--4:13
1) Israel’s Rebellious Unbelief Under Moses: Through the inspired text of Psalm 95 the writer warns the congregation against a rebellious unbelief towards God and exhorts them to encourage each other lest they be like rebellious Israel in Numbers 14 who died without entering into their eschatological rest 3:7-19
a) The Primary Text--Psalm 95:63 Introducing Psalm 95 as that which the Holy Spirit says, the Psalmist warns the congregation against unbelief such as that which prevented their fathers in the wilderness from entering the rest 3:7-11
(1) Introduction:64 The author introduces his text as that which the Holy Spirit says 3:7a
(2) Warning Against Unbelief:65 The psalmist warns the congregation against unbelief such as that which prevented their fathers in the wilderness from entering the rest 3:7b-11
b) An Application and Warning from the Psalm: The writer warns his readers as brothers to take care that they do not have an evil, unbelieving heart, and exhorts them to encourage each other so that they do not become hardened and fall away from the Lord noting that redeemed Israel provoked the Lord with an unbelieving heart and died in the wilderness rather than entering the land 3:12-19
(2) Exhortation to Encourage: the author exhorts them to encourage each other69 ( ἐαυτούς ) in the present time so that they will not be hardened noting that they have become partakers (partners, μέτοχοι ) of Christ if70 they (we) hold fast until the end71 3:13-15
(3) Israel's Evil:72 The writer clarifies that those who provoked the Lord were all who came out of Egypt led by Moses who sinned against Him, whose bodies fell for forty years in the wilderness, and who did not enter the land because of unbelief73 3:16-19
2) Exhortation:74 The writer encourages his readers in view of the continuing possibility to enter into God’s sabbath rest to be diligent to enter into it by faith rather than following Israel’s disobedience because the word of God will expose their deep (rebellious) motives 4:1-13
a) Enter God’s Rest:75 The writer encourages his readers that it is still possible to enter God’s sabbath rest, and that they should be diligent to enter into it by faith rather than following Israel’s example of disobedience 4:1-11
(1) Entering the Rest is Still Possible: In view of Israel's unbelief and her inability to enter into God's rest the writer concludes that they (we) should all fear lest any of them (you) should seem (suppose) to have come short of the promise (to have missed it) because they like Israel had good news76 preached to them but it did not profit Israel because it was not united by faith, but those who have believed77 enter78 into the rest which began after God completed His work of creation 4:1-5
(2) Exhortation to Pursue the Future Rest: The author affirms to his readers that David in Psalm 95 supports the contention that there is still a sabbath rest from one's work to enter into because it was not fulfilled when Joshua entered the land with Israel, thus, they should be diligent to enter that rest and not follow Israel's example of disobedience 4:6-11
b) Reason for Diligence: The reason one should be diligent to enter God’s sabbath rest through faith in Christ is because the word of God79 which pierces deeply into our innermost person is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts laying all things open80 to God (Christ?) 4:12-13
c. Conclusion/Transition--Hold Fast/High Priest:81 The writer exhorts his readers to hold fast to their confession82 with the understanding that Jesus, their high priest, can sympathize with their weakness, and to draw near to His throne of grace in order that they may receive mercy and find grace to help them in their time of need 4:14-16
1) Hold Fast to Our Confession: The writer exhorts his readers to hold fast to their (our) confession since they have Jesus, the Son of God, as a great high priest who has passed through the heavens 4:14
2) Reason To Hold Fast--Sympathetic High Priest: The writer exhorts his readers to hold fast to their confession because ( γὰρ ) their high priest is not one who cannot sympathize with their weaknesses, but is one who can sympathize in that he has been tempted in all things as they (we) are, yet without sin 4:15
3) Draw Near to the Throne of Grace: Therefore ( ου῏ν) the author exhorts his readers to draw near to the throne of grace in order that ( ι῞να) they may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need83 4:16
3. Exposition--Christ is Greater than the Human Priest Aaron: In the context of warning his readers to be responsible as adults and not to fall away from Jesus, the writer demonstrates that Jesus is not only qualified as a high priest, but is a greater high priest in accordance with the priesthood of Melchizedek than those of the Levitical priesthood 5:1--7:28
a. Exposition84--Christ is Qualified as One Similar to the Earthly High Priest: Christ is qualified as a high priest similar to the earthly high priest because he was one in solidarity with people, chosen by God and provided salvation for people from their sins 5:1-10
1) Man As High Priest: In the human order of high priest a man does not take the honor of the office to himself but is chosen by God from among men, and appointed as one beset with weaknesses to deal gently with the people and offer gifts and sacrifices for sins of the people and himself 5:1-4
a) Old Office--Source of Temporal Salvation: Every high priest must be taken from among men and appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins 5:1
(1) A Man from Men: The reason ( γὰρ ) one may find help from Jesus as a high priest is because85 every high priest must be taken from among men and be appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God 5:1a
(2) Purpose: Every high priest is taken and appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins86 5:1b
b) Solidarity with People: Since the high priest is beset with weaknesses, he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided sins of the people and is obligated to offer sacrifices for the people and himself 5:2-3
(1) Beset with Weaknesses: Since the high priest is beset with weaknesses he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided87 5:2
(2) Offers Sacrifices for Sins: Because of their mutual sin, the high priest is obligated to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people and for himself88 5:3
c) Humility--Called by God: No one takes the honor of high priest to himself, but receives it when he is called by God even as Aaron was89 5:4
2) Christ As High Priest:90 As with the human priest Christ did not glorify Himself but was called by God, was in solidarity with the people as One who prayed to God and learned obedience through suffering, and became the source of salvation for all those who obey him as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek 5:5-10
a) Humility--Called by God: As with the human high priest, Christ did not glorify Himself as high priest but was called by God in accordance with Psalm 110 where God proclaimed Him to be His chosen Son and a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek 5:5-6
(1) Did Not Glorify Himself: As with the human high priest, Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become high priest 5:5a
(2) God Chose Christ: Christ was chosen by God to be high priest in accordance with Psalms 2 & 110 where God proclaimed Him to be His Son whom He has chosen (begotten)91 and where he proclaimed him to be a priest92 forever according to the order of Melchizedek 5:5b-6
b) Solidarity with People:93 During the time of Jesus’ incarnation he earnestly prayed to God and was heard by God because of his piety and learned obedience, even though a Son of God, from the things which He suffered 5:7-8
(1) Prayed During His Earthly Life: During the time of Jesus' incarnation (His flesh) He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save him from death and was heard because of his piety 5:7
(2) Learned Obedience through Suffering: Although Jesus was a Son to God, he learned obedience from the things which He suffered94 5:8
c) New Office--Source of Eternal Salvation: When Jesus became perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him as a priest which God designated according to the order of Melchizedek 5:9-10
(1) Perfect Source of Salvation: When Jesus became perfect,95 he became the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him 5:9
(2) Melchizedekian Order: Jesus was designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek 5:10
b. Warning--Inability to Hear of Melchizedek Due to Immaturity: Though the writer shames his readers to assume responsibility as adults and to not fall away from Christ, he urges them to press on to maturity (and is confident that they will) through holding fast to the certain hope of salvation through Jesus as they look toward their reward from God who is faithful to His promise 5:11--6:20
1) Exhortation--The Peril of Spiritual Immaturity:96 Although the writer shames his readers to assume responsibility as mature adults to leave the essentials about Christ standing and to press on to maturity knowing that it is impossible for them to repent once that have fallen away from Christ and that they will experience severe consequences for their rebellion, he is convinced of better things from them as they look toward their reward for their diligent work which they should continue 5:11--6:12
a) Shaming to Assume Responsibility: The writer affirms that there is much to say concerning the priesthood of Christ and it is difficult to explain because the readers have become sluggish in understanding being like children who need to have the basics given to them again rather than like the adults who understand moral righteousness 5:11-14
(1) Sluggish in Understanding: There is much to say concerning the priesthood of Christ in its totality and it is a difficult (complex) matter to explain because the readers have become sluggish in understanding 5:11
(2) A Rebuke through Irony: The reason the writer identifies the readers as being sluggish in understanding is because by this time in their Christian lives they ought to be teachers but they need again for someone to explain the elementary principles (ABCs) of the oracles of God like children who need milk rather than adults who need solid food in that they are not accustomed to moral righteousness (the word of righteousness)97--they are not trained to discern good and evil 5:12-14
b) Warning: The writer urges the readers to leave the foundational elements about Christ standing and to press on to maturity knowing that it is impossible for them to repent once that have fallen away from Christ and that they will experience severe consequences for their rebellion; nevertheless the writer is convinced of better things from them as they look toward their reward for their diligent work which they should continue 6:1-12
(1) Press On to Maturity: Therefore ( Διὸ) the author urges the readers to leave standing the ABCs about Christ98 and to press on to maturity--not laying again a soteriological foundation, not teaching again about washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment99 6:1-2
(2) They Will Press On: The writer affirms that they will press on to maturity (with the discussion about Christ's Melchizedekian priesthood) if the Lord allows them to (with His blessing) 6:3
(3) The Impossibility of Repentance: The reason the writer says that they will press on to maturity if the Lord allows them to is because it is impossible100 for those who have once101 been enlightened, tasted of the heavenly gift, been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted102 of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then who have fallen away,103 to renew them again to repentance because they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to public humiliation104 6:4-6
(4) Sever Judgment as Upon the Ground: The writer explains ( γὰρ) his warning about the impossibility of repentance through the imagery of ground which receives God's blessing of rain and then receives either blessing from God for bringing forth useful vegetation or a burning that is close to being cursed105 for yielding thorns and thistles (cf. Gen. 3:17-18) 6:7-8
(5) Convinced of Better Things: Although the writer is speaking of possible sever judgment for apostasy, he affirms that they are convinced of better things concerning them (cf. 6:1-3)--those things that accompany salvation106 6:9
(6) God Will Not Forget Their Diligent Work Which They Should Continue:107 The writer affirms--in view of the certainty that God will not forget their work and love which they have shown toward His name in having ministered and still ministering to the saints108--that he desires for each of them to show the same diligence unto the end so as to realize their future hope, not being sluggish (cf. 5:11b), but being imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (cf. 6:13-20; 13:7) 6:10-12
2) Exposition of the Promise--A Basis for Steadfastness: Because God made a certain promise to Abraham by swearing by Himself, Abraham obtained it by patiently waiting, and believers should also hold fast to the certain hope of salvation which is placed before them in Jesus 6:13-20
a) Abraham’s Faith in the Promise: An explanation ( γὰρ ) of “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” is found in Abraham because when God made the promise to Abraham that He would bless and multiply him, He swore by Himself109 and Abraham obtained the promise by patiently waiting110 6:13-15
b) Relevance of Abraham’s Faith for Readers:111 The relevance of Abraham’s faith is that God’s oath is even more certain than that made by men resulting in a the certainty of hope of salvation in Jesus which believers should hold fast to 6:16-20
(1) The Nature of Human Oaths: The writer explains ( γὰρ) the reliability of oaths in that men swear by someone greater than themselves,112 and the oath serves as confirmation and puts an end to all argument 6:16
(2) The Certainty of God's Oath: Because God wanted to make especially plain to the heirs of his promise the irrevocable character of his resolve, he confirmed it by means of an oath,113 so that by two irrevocable facts114 in which it is impossible for God to lie, the readers (we) who had fled (to God) for refuge might have strong incentive to hold fast to the hope which is placed in front of them 6:17-18
(3) The Certainty of the Hope of Salvation: The readers (we) have this hope which is placed in front of them as a safe and secure anchor for life which (hope)115 enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain116 where Jesus has entered on their behalf as forerunner, having become a priest forever, just like Melchizedek117 6:19-20
c. Exposition--Order of Christ (Melchizedek) Is Greater Than Levi: The new priesthood of Christ in accordance with the order of Melchizedek is greater than the old priesthood through Levi both in its inception in Genesis 14:17-20 and in its prophetic expression through Psalm 110:4 in that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, and Jesus as the eternal Son has brought about a new, permanent and effective priesthood able to bring men close to God 7:1-28
1) An Interpretation of Genesis 14:17-20:118 The writer of Hebrews introduces his readers to Melchizedek, the king of righteousness and peace who met Abraham, received a tenth from Abraham and blessed Abraham as his superior thereby showing that he was a superior priest than the Levitical priesthood which came from Abraham 7:1-10
a) An Introduction of Melchizedek who Blessed Abraham:119 Melchizedek--the king of righteousness and peace--met Abraham as Abraham was returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him whereupon Abraham gave one tenth of his spoils of war to this one who was not part of the genealogical line of blessing, but like the son of God, remains a priest continuously 7:1-3
(1) The Meeting and Blessing: Melchizedek--king of Salem, priest of the Most high God, met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him 7:1
(2) The Tithe: Abraham gave one tenth of his spoils from war to Melchizedek120 whose name means king of righteousness and whose title (king of Salem) means king of peace and who is without a genealogical tie in Genesis,121 but being like the Son of God, he remains a priest continuously122 7:2-3
b) The Significance of Melchizedek’s Encounter with Abraham--A Superior Priesthood to Levi: The writer urges the readers to consider the greatness of Melchizedek in that he was greater than Levi because he received the tenth from Abraham without being a descendent of Abraham and without the commandment of the Law, he blessed Abraham as the one greater than Abraham, he lives on whereas the Levitical priesthood is mortal, and Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham 7:4-10
(1) Consider His Greatness: The writer urges the readers to consider how great this man (Melchizedek) was to whom Abraham, the patriarch,123 gave a tenth of the choicest spoils 7:4
(2) Received a Tenth: Although those of the sons of Levi receive the priest's offering of a tenth in accordance with the commandment in the Law from the people (their brethren who are descended from Abraham, Melchizedek, who is not a descendent, collected a tenth from Abraham 7:5-6a
(3) Blessed Abraham: Melchizedek blessed Abraham even though he was the one with the promises in accordance with the undisputed fact that the lesser is bless ed by the greater 7:6b-7
(4) Lives On: In the case of the Levitical priests mortal men (with a series of successors) receive tithes, but in the case of Melchizedek and his priesthood he lives on124 7:8
(5) Levi Paid Melchizedek: One might also say125 that even Levi, who received the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because Levi was still in the body of his ancestor when Melchizedek met Abraham 7:9-10
2) The Significance of Psalm 110:4:126 The rising of a new priesthood according to Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4) through Jesus demonstrates that the old Levitical priesthood was insufficient to bring about perfection, but that the new, permanent and effective priesthood through Christ is a better hope for drawing near to God 7:11-28
a) The Insufficiency of the Levitical Priesthood and System: The rising of a new priesthood according to Melchizedek through Jesus (of the line of Judah) demonstrates that the old Levitical priesthood was insufficient to bring about perfection, but the new priesthood brings about a better hope for drawing near to God 7:11-19
(1) The Replacement of the Levitical Priesthood by Jesus: The writer of Hebrews affirms that the rising of a priest according to the order of Melchizedek demonstrates that the Levitical priesthood was not sufficient to bring about perfection, and that Jesus has become such a replacement priesthood because he is not a priest according to Levi (being from Judah),127 but became a priest forever according to Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4) in accordance with His indestructible life128 7:11-17
(2) The New Hope with the New Priesthood: The writer explains that while there is on the one hand a replacement of a former (priestly) commandment (cf. 7:16) because of its weakness and uselessness to make anything perfect, there is a bringing in of a better hope through which they (we) draw near to God129 7:18-19
b) The Permanence and Effectiveness of the New Priesthood: Jesus is shown to be a superior priest than the Levitical priests because God made an oath to Him, he holds his priesthood permanently, he has an upright character, he has achieved a final sacrifice for sins, and he has been appointed a Son made perfect forever 7:20-28
(1) The Superiority of Priesthood Illustrated: Jesus is demonstrated to have a better priesthood than the Levitical priesthood because God has made an oath to him (Psalm 110:4) and because he holds his priesthood permanently (as one who lives forever) begin able to save those forever who draw near to God through him 7:20--25
(2) The Character, Achievement, and Status of the Son as Eternal and Final High Priest: The writer explain that it is fitting for them (we) to have such an exalted high priest with an upright character (holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens), who achieved a permanent sacrifice (when he once for all offered up Himself for sins), and who was appointed a Son made perfect forever 7:26-28
B. Christ’s Ministry Is Greater Than the Ministry of the Old Covenant--Aaron:130 The writer demonstrates Christ’s singular qualification as high priest in the heavenly sanctuary because He is a ministering priest and mediator of a better covenant through His death and exaltation being the source of eternal salvation for those who obey him thereby superseding the inadequate Mosaic provisions for sin 8:1--10:18
1. Christ as Ministering Priest and Mediator of a Better Covenant--Introduced:131 Christ is a superior high priest to the earthly priests because he has taken his seat of authority in heaven, is a ministering priest of the heavenly sanctuary, and is the mediator of a new and better covenant which will unite God and man and cause the obsolete and dated (Mosaic) covenant to disappear * 8:1-13*
a. Christ the Ministering Priest: Unlike earthly priests who offer gifts and sacrifices in a sanctuary which is a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, the writer affirms that Christ is a superior high priest in that He has taken his seat of authority in heaven and is a ministering priest of the heavenly sanctuary in the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched 8:1-5
1) A New Ministry by the King-Priest in Heaven:132 The crowning affirmation of what the writer (we) has been saying (about the superiority Christ’s Priesthood) is that they have a high priest who has taken his seat of authority133 in heaven Who is the ministering priest of the sanctuary of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, not man 8:1-2
2) A Ministry In Opposition to the Old: Since a high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, Christ too had to necessarily have something to offer as high priest, but he is not priest on earth since earthly priests offer gifts prescribed by the Law in a sanctuary which Moses made to the pattern shown him as a suggestion of the heavenly sanctuary 8:3-5
a) The Necessity to Offer Something: The writer affirms that since every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, therefore, Christ too had to necessarily have something to offer134 8:3
b) Not an Earthly Ministry: If Christ were on earth he would not be a priest since earthly priests offer gifts prescribed by the law serving in a sanctuary that is a shadowy suggestion135 of the heavenly sanctuary136 even as Moses made it in accordance to the pattern shown to him on the mountain137 8:4-5
b. Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant: The ministry which Jesus has attained is superior to that of the earthly priests because he is the mediator of a superior covenant which is drawn up on better promises that were not contingent upon Israel’s obedience, but His word to make the Law internal, to be in close relationship with them, that all will know Him as gracious causing the obsolete and dated (Mosaic) covenant to disappear 8:6-13
1) The New Ministry Is Associated with a better Covenant: The ministry which Jesus has attained is superior to that of the earthly priests in the same way as the covenant which he is the mediator is superior to the old one (Mosaic) being drawn up on the basis of better promises 8:6
2) The Better Covenant in Opposition to the Old:138 The writer affirms that the first covenant was not found faultless because God said He would establish a new covenant with them unlike the one where they were unfaithful and He turned away, but one where He will make the Law internal, where they will be in close relationship with Him, and where all will know him as a gracious God causing the obsolete and dated one to disappear 8:7-13
a) First Covenant Not Faultless: The writer affirms that if the first covenant had not been irreproachable, there would have been no occasion sought for a second 8:7
b) Reason God Found Fault: God finds fault with the first covenant when he says to Israel that he will establish a new covenant with them unlike the one where they were unfaithful and He turned away from them, but one where He will put His laws in their heart and mind, where they will be in close relationship with Him, and where all will know the Lord who is gracious 8:8-12
(1) Establish a New Covenant: God finds fault with the first covenant when he says to Israel that the time is coming when he will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah 8:8
(2) Israel Was Unfaithful and God Turned Away: God finds fault with the first covenant when he says to Israel that the new covenant will not be like the covenant He made with their forefathers when He led them by the hand out of Egypt because they did not remain faithful to His covenant and He turned away from them 8:9
(3) Laws in Their Hearts and Minds: God finds fault with the first covenant when he says to Israel that this new covenant which he will make with them after that time is one where He will put His laws in their minds and inscribe them on their hearts, where he will be their God and they will be His people 8:10
(4) All Will Know the Lord Who Is Gracious: God finds fault with the first covenant when he says to Israel that in this new covenant no one will any longer teach his fellow-citizen or his brother to "know the Lord" because they will all know him because He will be gracious toward their iniquities and will never again remember their sins 8:11-12
c) Obsolete and Will Disappear: When the Lord calls this covenant “new” he treated the first covenant as obsolete, meaning that it will soon disappear as obsolete and outdated139 8:13
2. Christ as Ministering Priest and Mediator of a Better Covenant--Developed: While the earlier covenant was shown to be unable to bring decisive purgation through its repeated cultic worship, the New Covenant, though ratified in kind with the Old Covenant, was heightened in that Christ offered Himself in the heavenly sanctuary as the definitive sacrifice on behalf of us to bring about absolute purgation so that we may worship God and He may return as Savior rather than eschatological judge for those who eagerly wait for him 9:1-28
a. Cultic Worship--Developed: The first covenant had an earthly sanctuary with a Holy place where the priests ministered, and a Most Holy Place where the High Priest ministered but through this the Holy Spirit was showing that the way into the real sanctuary had not yet been disclosed illustrating that the present gifts and sacrifices were unable to bring decisive purgation to the worshiper with respect to his conscience but only continued cultic service 9:1-10
1) Introductory Statement: The first covenant had regulations for cultic worship and an earthly sanctuary140 9:1
2) Arrangement of the Tabernacle: In the front compartment of the tabernacle, called the Holy Place, were the lampstand and the table with the consecrated bread and in the back compartment of the tabernacle, called the Most Holy Place, were the golden alter of incense, the gold-covered ark of the covenant in which were the gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that had blossomed and the stone tablets of the covenant, with the cherubim of the Glory overshadowing the place of atonement, concerning which things the writer is not able to speak in detail 9:2-5
b) Back Compartment: In the back compartment of the tabernacle behind the second curtain, called the Most Holy Place
( ῞Αγια ῾Αγὶων ), were the golden altar of incense,143 the gold-covered ark of the covenant144 in which were the gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that had blossomed, and the stone tablets of the covenant,145 with cherubim of the Glory overshadowing the place of atonement146 9:3-5a
c) Transition:147 The writer is not able to speak in detail about these things 9:5b
3) Regulations for Cultic Worship: When the tabernacle was arranged as was described above, and the priests and High Priest ministered the Holy Spirit was showing that the way into the real sanctuary had not yet been disclosed illustrating that the present gifts and sacrifices were unable to bring decisive purgation to the worshiper with respect to his conscience but only continued cultic service 9:6-10
a) Functions of the Priest and High Priest: When the tabernacle was arranged as it was described above, the priests continually entered the front compartment performing their ritual functions, but the High Priest entered the rear compartment only once a year with blood for himself and the sins of the people which were committed in ignorance 9:6-7
(1) The Priests: When the tabernacle was arranged as it was described above, then the priests continually entered the front compartment as they performed their ritual functions148 9:6
(2) The High Priest: Only the High Priest entered the rear compartment and that was only once a year, and never without blood which he offered first for himself and also for the sins the people had committed in ignorance149 9:7
b) Undisclosed Way, Indecisive Purgation: Through the ministry of the priests and the High Priest the Holy Spirit was showing that the way into the real sanctuary had not yet been disclosed illustrating that the present gifts and sacrifices were unable to bring decisive purgation to the worshiper with respect to his conscience but only continued cultic service 9:8-10
(1) Way in to the Real Sanctuary--Not Disclosed: The Holy Spirit was showing through the ministry of the priests and High Priest that the way into the real sanctuary had not yet been disclosed while the first compartment had cultic status 9:8
(2) Present Gifts and Sacrifices Do not Purge: This desert sanctuary is an illustration demonstrating that the present gifts and sacrifices being offered are unable to bring decisive purgation to the worshiper with respect to his conscience, but only continued cultic service (food and drink, various ceremonial washings, regulations pertaining to the human order) imposed until the time of correction 9:9
b. New Covenant--Developed: Although the New Covenant was ratified in kind with the pattern of the Old Covenant, the degree of ratification was heightened in that Christ offered Himself in the heavenly sanctuary as the definitive sacrifice on behalf of us to bring about absolute purgation so that we may worship God and he may return as Savior rather than eschatological judge for those who eagerly wait for him 9:11-28
1) The Character of the New Cultus: In contrast to the arrangements under the old cultus Christ appeared as high priest of eschatological redemption entering into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary not with the blood of goats and bulls which brought fleshly purgation, but with His own blood which brought a cleansing of the conscience so that we may worship God 9:11-14
a) Secures Eschatological Redemption: In contrast to the arrangements under the old cultus ( δὲ ) Christ appeared as high priest of eschatological redemption (the good things that have now come) entering into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary bringing eternal redemption by means of his own blood (rather than that of the old cultus [goats and calves]) 9:11-12
b) Provision of a Purged Conscience: If the blood of the old cultus (goats and bulls) provided a fleshly purgation, the blood of Christ purges the conscience from sins that lead to death so that we may worship God 9:13-14
(1) Purging of the Flesh: The blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer those who have been ceremonially defiled to the extent of the purging of the flesh150 9:13
(2) Purging of the Conscience: The blood of Christ151 purges our conscience152 from the acts that lead to death, so that we may worship the living God seeing that Christ offered Himself through the eternal Spirit153 as an unblemished sacrifice to God 9:14
2) The Basis of Christ’s High Priestly Achievement: Because of Christ’s high priestly work whereby he entered heaven as the definitive sacrifice for our sins He ratified the New covenant in order that those who are called might not experience Him as eschatological judge, but Savior who brings the promised eternal inheritance 9:15-28
a) Christ vs. Old Cultus: Because of Christ’s high priestly work through His death (which was necessary to ratify the New Covenant as with the Mosaic Covenant) He is mediator of a New Covenant in order that those who are called might receive the promised eternal inheritance 9:15-22
(1) Conclusion--Mediator of a New Covenant: Because of Christ's high priestly work through His death He is the mediator of a New Covenant in order that those who are called might receive the promised eternal inheritance154 9:15
(2) Parenthetic Explanation of the Necessity of Christ's Death--Basic Principle: The author explains (γὰρ) that it was necessary for Christ to die because where there is a covenant, it is necessary for the death of one who ratifies it to be brought forward155 because a covenant is made legally secure on the basis of the sacrificial victims (sacrifices), and is never valid while the ratifier lives156 9:16-17
(3) Principle Operative in Former Covenant: The writer affirms that even the former covenant (Mosaic) was confirmed by blood (death) when Moses157 took the blood of calves together with water, crimson wool and sprigs of hyssop and sprinkled the book of the Law (covenant), all the people, the tabernacle, and all the cultic vessels with blood because everything is purged with blood according to the Law and without the application of blood there is no definitive purgation 9:18-22
b) Christ’s Heavenly Priestly Ministry: Just as the earthly suggestions required purgation, so did the heavenly things, but through a greater sacrifice of Christ Himself who entered heaven with His definitive sacrifice with the result that he will not come as eschatological Judge but Savior for those who eagerly wait for Him 9:23-28
(1) A Better Sacrifice for Heavenly Things: In view of the need for definitive purgation through the application of blood it was necessary, therefore, for the earthly suggestions of the heavenly things to be purged by these things (the blood of calves and goats) but the heavenly things required better sacrifices158 9:23
(2) Christ Entered Heaven with His Definitive Sacrifice: The writer explains the heavenly things and Christ's better sacrifice as Christ entering the Sanctuary of heaven itself to appear in the presence of God on our behalf with an offering which was not for Himself as is repeatedly done by the high priest, but with His once for all sacrifice at the climax of the ages 9:24-26
(3) Not Eschatological Judge but Savior: Just as it is reserved for men to die once and then to experience judgment, so also will Christ appear a second time, after having been offered once to bear the sin of many,159 not as judge (for sin) but to bring [the consummation of] salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for Him160 9:27-28
3. The Subjective Benefits of Christ’s Sacrifice--Its efficacy for Christians: The writer explains that the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are that it supersedes the inadequate Mosaic Provisions for sin because He yielded His body in place of sacrifices, His sacrifice was definitive, and because the New Covenant (inaugurated through Jesus’ sacrifice) rendered a sacrifice for sin no longer necessary since the Lord no longer deals with His people according to their sins and transgressions 10:1-18
a. Mosaic Provisions for Repeated Sacrifices Are Inadequate: The writer explains that the Mosaic provisions for repeated sacrifices are inadequate because they are only a foreshadowing of the good things to come, they are a continual reminder of sins, and they cannot take away sins 10:1-4
1) Law Cannot Decisively Purge: The writer explains that the Law can never decisively purge those who draw near by repeated sacrifices since it posses only a foreshadowing of the good things which are to come and is not the actual form of those realities161 10:1
2) Law is a Reminder of Sins: The writer explains that since the legal sacrifices did not cease to be offered with the sense that the worshipers were once cleansed having no consciousness of sins,162 these sacrifices are really a reminder of sins year after year163 10:2-3
3) Cultic Sacrifices Cannot Take Away Sins: The writer explains that the sacrifices do not provide a decisive purgation is because ( γὰρ ) it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins 10:4
b. Repeated Sacrifices Have Been Superseded by the One Sacrifice of Christ: The writer explains that the repeated sacrifices have been superseded by the one sacrifice of Christ in that He yielded His body in place of sacrifices which resulted in a doing away with Mosaic sacrificial system and a consecration of believers 10:5-10
1) Yields His Body in Place of Sacrifices: Speaking as the Davidite Jesus fulfills David’s words when He comes into the world by proclaiming from Psalm 40 that God preferred His body to sacrifice and that He yielded His life to do the will of the Lord 10:5-7
a) Jesus Speaks As the Davidite: The writer identifies Jesus as the Davidite who fulfills David’s words when He comes into the world (incarnation)164 and speaks Psalm 40:6-8 10:5a
b) God Preferred His Body to Sacrifice: Jesus as the Davidite proclaims that God preferred his body to sacrifice (offering, whole burnt offerings, sin offerings) 10:5b-6
c) Jesus as the Davidite yields his life to do the will of the Lord 10:7
(1) Dedicates His Body: Jesus dedicates His body to Lord
(2) Direction from the Scroll: Jesus receives direction from the volume of the book
(3) Jesus desires to do the will ( θέλημά ) of the Lord
2) Jesus’ Sacrifice Does Away with Mosaic Sacrifices: The writer explains that through Jesus’ identification with the words of Psalm 40 that the Mosaic sacrificial order was done away with in order to confirm (judicially) the validity of His bodily sacrifice165 10:8-9
3) Jesus’ Sacrifice Consecrates: By Christ doing the will of God (“that will, θελήματι”) the writer affirms that they have been consecrated (sanctified, ἡγισμὲνοι ) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all 10:10
c. Levitical Priests Have Been Superseded by the One Priest Enthroned at God’s Right Hand: The writer explains that the Levitical priests who continue in their ineffective ministry are superseded by Jesus who offered a definitive sacrifice, is enthroned at God’s right hand, and decisively purged those who are being consecrated 10:11-14
1) Continual ineffective Ministry of Levitical Priests: Every Priest continually performs his priestly service and offerings of sacrifices which can never remove sin utterly 10:11
2) Effective Ministry of Jesus: In contrast to the Levitical priests, Jesus, as priest, offered for all time once sacrifice for sins, sat down166 at God’s right hand waiting until his enemies are forced to submit (made his footstool),167 and decisively purged forever those who are being consecrated 10:12-14
d. New Covenant Provisions Render a Sacrifice for Sins No Longer Necessary: The writer confirms that the Holy Spirit testifies that the New covenant provisions render a sacrifice for sins no longer necessary because part of the new covenant is that the Lord will no longer deal with His people according to their sins and transgressions 10:15-18
1) Holy Spirit Testifies: The writer notes that the Holy Spirit testifies168 concerning the decisive purging through Jeremiah 31:33-34 10:15
2) New Covenant Provisions: The Holy Spirit testifies through Jeremiah 21:33-34 that the Lord will make a new covenant with His people after that time wherein He will internalize His Law and not deal with them (remember) any longer according to their sins and transgressions169 10:16-17
3) The writer explains that were there is a decisive putting away of sins and transgressions (“these”) that an offering for sin is no longer necessary170 10:18
III. EXHORTATIONS IN VIEW OF THE SUPERIORITY OF CHRIST AND HIS MINISTRY TO THE OLD COVENANT:171 In view of the superiority of Christ and His ministry when compared to that of the Old Covenant, the writer urges his readers not to persist in sin but to persevere in faithfulness to God by loving one another, being personally pure, obeying their leaders and leaving Judaism, because the past shows that God honors such faithfulness and will honor them when He returns to fulfill His promises 10:19--13:21
A. Warning--Exhortation to Endure:172 In view of their privileged status with God and their earlier faithfulness under persecution, the writer exhorts his readers not to persist in sin so that they must experience the avenging hand of God, but to persevere in faithfulness to God so that they might receive their promised reward of eschatological salvation rather than rejection when the Lord returns 10:19-39
1. A Reminder of Privileged Status and Its Implications for Practice: The privileged status of believers to have free access to the heavenly sanctuary and to have Christ as the great priest in charge of their church leads to the implications that they should draw near to God, hold fast to their hope of future salvation and not forsake one another, but encourage one another to love and good works, especially as they see the approaching of the time when the Lord will return in salvation and judgment (the Day of the Lord) 10:19-25
a. Basis for the Appeal: The writer is about to make an appeal to the readers based upon two conclusions from the above discussion: (1) believers have free access to the Heavenly Sanctuary through Christ’s death, and (2) Jesus is High Priest in charge of God’s household 10:19-21
1) Authorization for Free Access to the Heavenly Sanctuary: The writer affirms as a conclusion to the above discussion that the brethren have authorization for free access to the heavenly sanctuary through a way that is new and leads to life which Jesus made available to us by means of His death 10:19-20
2) Great Priest in Charge of God’s Household: The writer affirms that believers have a great high priest in charge of God’s household (the Church)173 10:21
b. The Appeal:174 In view of the brethren’s access to the heavenly sanctuary and Jesus as the great priest in charge of the church the writer exhorts the community to draw near to God, hold fast to their hope of eschatological salvation and to keep on caring for one another by stimulating love and good works 10:22-24
1) Draw Near:175 The writer exhorts the community (let us) to draw near to God with a sincere heart,176 in fullness of faith, and seeing that they have been completely cleansed (internally and externally)177 10:22
2) Hold Fast: The writer exhorts the community (let us) to hold fast the hope (of eschatological salvation) without wavering because the One who gave the promise is faithful 10:23
3) Keep on Caring: The writer exhorts the community (let us) to keep on caring for one another so as to stimulate love and good works178 10:24
c. Transitional Warning: The writer warns the community against discontinuing their meeting together (as some are regularly doing), but to encourage one another especially as they see the approaching of the time when the Lord will return in salvation and judgment (the Day of the Lord) 10:25
2. A Severe Warning Concerning Apostasy and Its Divine Punishment:179 The writer warns his readers that if they deliberately persist in sin against the Lord by violating Christ that He, as the avenging God, will bring severe punishment upon them as His people 10:26-31
a. Deliberate Persistence in Sin Yields Judgment: The writer explains that he desire for them to heed his admonitions because ( γὰρ ) if they (we) deliberately persist180 in sin after their (we) having received the full knowledge of the truth (of salvation), then there is no longer any sacrifice for sins,181 but only an inevitable terrifying expectation of judgment and of raging fire ready to consume God’s adversaries182 10:26-27
b. Severe Punishment for Violating Christ: The writer notes that while those who violated the law of Moses died, those who Violate Christ will deserve a severer punishment 10:28-29
2) Violation of Christ Deserves Severer Punishment: The writer notes (through a question) that the one who rejects Christ and His provision for him (trampled upon the Son of God,185 treated as defiled the blood of the covenant by which he was consecrated,186 and insulted the Spirit of grace187) will deserve a severer punishment188 10:29
c. The Lord Will Bring Vengeance upon His People:189 The writer explains that the Lord will bring a severe judgment upon those who reject Christ and His provisions for them because He is a God of vengeance who will repay evil--even of His people, and it is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God 10:30-31
3. Pastoral Encouragement and an Eschatological Appeal: Reminding the readers of their earlier faithfulness under persecution, the writer urges them not to throw away their faithfulness but to endure so that they might receive the promise of eschatological salvation when the Lord returns rather than rejection 10:32-35
a. Pastoral Encouragement:190 The writer reminds his readers of their earlier days when they endured sufferings with cheerfulness knowing that they had better and permanent rewards and thus urges them not to throw away their boldness since it has great reward 10:32-35
1) Situation: The writer urges his readers to remember those earlier days (of their faith) after they received the light191 when they endured a hard contest192 with sufferings--sometimes publicly exposed to ridicule by insults and persecutions and showing solidarity with those who were treated in this way 10:32-33
2) Call to Rejoice: The writer explains to his readers what he means by their showing solidarity with those who were treated in this way by reminding them of how they shared the sufferings of those in prison and cheerfully accepted the seizure of their property 10:34a
3) Reason (Promise of Reward): The reason the readers cheerfully accepted the seizure of their property was because they knew that they themselves had better and permanent possessions, therefore, they should not throw away their boldness193 seeing that it has a great reward 10:34b-35
b. Eschatological Appeal:194 The writer exhorts his readers to endurance that they may receive the promise of eschatological salvation noting that they Lord is coming and they should live by faithfulness rather than drawing back and being rejected, whereupon, the writer expresses his confidence that His readers are those who are faithful 10:36-39
1) An Exhortation to Endurance: The author exhorts the readers that they need endurance ( ὑπομονή ) so that after they have done the will of God they may receive the promise (of eschatological salvation)195 10:36
2) The Lord is Coming; Live by Faithfulness: The writer affirms that the reason they must endure is because ( γὰρ ) the Coming One will come in a little while196 and he will not delay, but in the mean time His righteous one will live by faithfulness197 and if he draws back the Lord Himself will reject him 10:37-38
3) Not Those Who Draw Back, But Are Faithful: The write assures his readers that they (we) are not of those who draw back leading to destruction, but of those who are faithful, culminating in the acquisition of life 10:39
B. Means of Endurance--Faith:198 Because of the value of faith the writer affirms that men in the past received attestation from God in Scripture and thus urges his readers to recognize that this standard of persevering faith is worthy of emulation based upon hope in God’s promise 11:1-40
1. A Recommendation of Faith: Because faith represents the objective reality of blessings for which we hope and the demonstration of events as yet unseen, men of the past received attestation from God; and this faith is demonstrated in our understanding of the unseen creative activity of God behind the visible universe 11:1-2
a. The Recommendation of Faith:199 Faith is (represents) the assurance (objective reality) of things [blessings] for which we hope, and the conviction (demonstration) of things (events) as yet unseen 11:1
b. The Effect of Faith: Because ( γὰρ ) of this character of faith (above) men of the past ( πρεσβύτεροι ) received attestation (approval, ἐμαρτυρήθησαν ) from God 11:2
c. Creation:200 The writer affirms that by faith we understand201 that the universe was ordered by the word (ῥήματι) of God202 so that what is seen was not brought into being from anything observable 11:3
2. The Example of Faithfulness in Those Who Have Preceded Them: The writer urges his readers to recognize in those who acted upon God’s promises, even though fulfillment was not in sight, a standard of persevering faith worthy of emulation based upon hope in God’s promise 11:4-40
a. Events and Personages Drawn from Scripture in Chronological Order from Genesis 1--Joshua 6:203 11:3-31
1) Triumphs of Perseverance in the Antediluvian Era:204 The writer affirms the triumphs of perseverance in faith in Abel’s sacrifice, Enoch’s translation, and Noah’s building of the ark all of which brought pleasure to God and attestation by God205 11:4-7
a) Abel:206 The writer affirms that by faith Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice to God than Cain by which he received attestation by God as a righteous person God Himself approving of his gifts; and by faith he is still speaking, although he died207 11:4
b) Enoch:208 The writer affirms that by faith Enoch was approved by God as pleasing and was translated emphasizing that faith is necessary to please God 11:5-6
(1) Translated: The writer affirms that by faith Enoch was translated (taken away, μετέθηκεν) by God so that he did not experience death 11:5a
(2) Approved by God: The writer affirms that before Enoch's translation he had been approved ( μεμαρτύρηται ) as one who had been pleasing (εὑαρεστηκέναι)209 to God 11:5a
(3) Faith is Necessary to Please God: The writer explains that without faith it is impossible to begin to please God because ( γὰρ ) it is necessary ( δεῖ ) for the one approaching God to believe that He exists210 and that He becomes a rewarder of those who seek Him out211 11:6
c) Noah:212 The writer affirms that by faith Noah constructed an Ark, condemned humanity, and became an heir of the righteousness according to faith 11:7
(1) Constructed an Ark: The writer affirms that by faith Noah paid attention to God's instruction about things as yet unseen213 and constructed an ark for the safety of his household 11:7a
(2) Condemned Humanity:214 The affirms that by faith Noah condemned humanity 11:7b
(3) Became and Heir of Righteousness:215 The writer affirms that Noah became an heir of the righteousness according to faith 11:7c
2) The Triumphs of Perseverance in the Patriarchal Era:216 Faith was demonstrated in God’s promise by the self-sacrificing acts of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph in hopes of God’s future promises 11:8-22
a) Abraham and God’s Promise Considered:217 Faith was demonstrated in God’s promise by Abraham obeying God’s call and migrating to the land of promise, Sarah believing God and conceiving Isaac, all dying in the land without receiving the fulfillment of the promises, and Abraham’s offering of Isaac even though the promise said that his descendants would come through Isaac 11:8-19
(1) Abram's Call and Migration: When Abraham was called it was by faith that he obeyed by going out, not knowing where he was going, to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance, living in tents in the land of promise with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the promise, looking for a city which has foundations,218 whose architect and builder is God 11:8-10
(2) The Conception of Isaac:219 When Sarah herself received ability to conceive so late in life it was by faith in the Lord220 who had promised and fulfilled His promise to make many descendants from Abraham221 who was as good as dead222 11:11-12
(3) The Deferment of the Fulfillment of the Promise:223 All these died in faith without receiving the fulfillment of the promises, but welcoming them from a distance, they confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth seeking a country of their own--not their birth country, but a better, heavenly one; therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared a city for them 11:13-16
(4) The Command to Sacrifice Isaac: By faith Abraham, who had received the promises that his descendants would come through Isaac, offered up Isaac, his only begotten son, when he was tested because he considered God able to raise him from the dead; whereupon he received Isaac back as a type [of what was to occur]224 11:17-19
b) Isaac and God’s Promise:225 By faith Isaac blessed Isaac and Esau even with respect to their future 11:20
d) Joseph and God’s Promise:228 By faith Joseph, while coming to the end of his life made mention of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instruction concerning the burial of his bones 11:22
3) The Triumphs of Perseverance in the Mosaic Era:229 By faith Moses endured persecution during his youth, he led the people in their exodus from Egypt, and those who followed him later took the city of Jericho whereupon Rahab was saved because she had welcomed the Israelite spies in peace 11:23-31
a) Portrait of a Young Prophet: By faith Moses endured persecution at his birth, in his identification with Israel, and in his exile from Egypt because he was looking toward his reward, and keeping the one who is invisible before his eyes 11:23-27
(1) Hidden: By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months when he was born because they saw he was a beautiful young child and because they were not afraid of the king's edict 11:23
(2) Reproach of Christ: By Faith Moses disdained to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter having chosen to endure hardship with the people of God rather than to enjoy the temporary pleasure of sin because he regarded abuse incurred for the sake of the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to the reward 11:24-26
(3) Left Egypt: By faith Moses left Egypt not fearing the kings rage because he kept the one who is invisible continually before his eyes 11:27
b) The Prelude to the Exodus:230 By faith Moses kept the Passover so that they did not lose their first born and the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land while the Egyptians were drowned 11:28-31
(1) Kept the Passover: By faith Moses kept the Passover and the spreading of the blood, so that the destroying angel might not touch their firstborn 11:28
(2) Crossed the Red Sea: By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted to do so, they were drowned 11:29
c) The Taking of Jericho:231 By faith the walls of Jericho fell when they encircled them for seven days, and Rahab the prostitute did not perish with the unbeliever because she had welcomed the spies 11:30-31
(1) Taking of Jericho:232 By faith the walls of Jericho fell when they had been encircled for seven days 11:30
(2) Rahab Did Not Perish: By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with the unbelievers, because she had welcomed the spies 11:31
b. The Triumphs of Perseverance in Subsequent Eras: In view of the writer’s limited time and space he transitions from his exemplary list to a rapid catalogue of those who by faith received attestation from God whether they triumphed or experienced hardship under persecution noting that they did not receive what had been promised because God had provided something better with his readers in mind so that they should not reach perfection except with them (the readers) 11:32-40
1) Those Who Experienced Triumph and Deliverance from Death: In view of the writer’s limited time and space he transitions from his exemplary list to a rapid catalogue of triumphs by faith from the time of the judges through the time of the kings 11:32-35a
b) The writer presents an abbreviated catalogue of triumphs by faith from the time of the judges through the time of the kings 11:33-35a
(1) An Abbreviated Discussion: The writer affirms that time would fail him if he spoke about the following persons and events235 11:32b
(2) A Catalogue of Triumph from the Judges through Kings:236 The author notes that through faith Gideon,237 Barak,238 Samson,239 Jephthah,240 David,241 Samuel,242 and the prophets conquered kingdoms, practiced justice, attained the promised blessings,243 shut up the mouths of lions,244 extinguished the fury of the flames,245 escaped the edge of the sword,246 became strong after weakness,247 were mighty in war, routed foreign armies248 and women received their dead through resurrection249 11:32c-34
2) The Unnamed Not Delivered from Hardship, Suffering, and Death:250 In contrast to those who experienced triumph and deliverance in their faith the writer now provides a catalogue of unnamed others who were not delivered from hardship, suffering, and death 11:35b-38
a) A Contrast in Effects: In contrast to those who experienced triumph and deliverance in their faith the writer now moves to talk about others who were not delivered from hardship, suffering, and death 11:35b
b) Tortured: The writer notes that others were tortured after refusing to accept the offered release in order that they might attain a better resurrection 11:35c
c) A Catalogue of Hardship, Suffering and Death: The writer notes that others experienced jeering and lashing, chains and prison, were stoned,251 sawn in two, were murdered by the sword, went about in sheepskins and goatskins, were destitute, oppressed, mistreated, (humanity was not worthy of them), and they wandered aimlessly in uninhabited regions and on mountains, in caves and crevices in the ground
3) Conclusion:252 The author notes that even though all of those above had received attestation from God through faith, they did not receive what had been promised because God had provided something better with his readers in mind so that they (above) should not reach perfection except with them (the readers) 11:39-40
a) Received Attestation But Not the Promise: The author notes that even though all of those above had received attestation from God [in Scripture] because of their faith, they did not receive what had been promised253 11:39
b) The writer notes that God had provided something better with his readers (us) in mind so that they should not reach perfection254 except with them (us) 11:40
C. Perspective for Endurance:255 In view of the great host of witnesses about the readers the author exhorts them to run with endurance renewing their commitment to finish the race with the perspectives that their suffering is a sign and proof of sonship, and that they are coming to a wonderful God of the New Covenant who will judge those who are indifferent to His word 12:1-29
1. The Display of Necessary Endurance: In view of the great host of witnesses about the readers the author exhorts them to run with endurance, not loosing heart, but seeing their suffering as a sign and proof of sonship from a Father over all realms who is acting for their good; thus they should renew their commitment and finish the race 12:1-13
a. Exhortation--Run with Endurance: In view of the great host of witnesses about the readers the author exhorts them to lay aside their sin and to run with endurance focusing on Jesus as an example of faith so that they will not become worn down before their race is over 12:1-3
1) Lay Aside Sin & Run with Endurance: In view of the great host of witnesses256 about the readers (us) the author exhorts them (let us) to lay aside257 all excess weight and the sin that so easily distracts, and to run with endurance the race prescribed for them 12:1
2) Focus on Jesus as an Example: The author exhorts them to run with their eyes fixed upon Jesus who is the champion258 in the exercise of faith and the one who brought faith to complete expression in that rather than the joy set before him endured a cross disregarding the disgrace and has now taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God 12:2
3) Consider Jesus Not to Become Weary: The author exhorts his readers to by all means consider the one who endured such opposition against himself so that they (you) may not become weary and lose heart 12:3
b. Exposition--The Meaning of the Sufferings to Be Endured: Reminding his readers that they have not resisted those sinning against them as far as Jesus did, he urges them not to loose heart but to regard their discipline as a sign and proof of sonship from a Father over all realms who is acting for their good 12:4-11
1) Sonship and Discipline: Reminding the readers that they have not resisted those sinning against them as far as Jesus did, the author also encourages his readers not to loose heart but to regard their discipline as a sign and proof of sonship 12:4-8
b) Discipline is An Act of Love: Asking his readers if they have forgotten the encouragement which speaks to them as sons, the writer notes from Proverbs that they should not loose heart because discipline is an act of love and corrective behavior from God as upon a favorable son 12:5-6
(1) Question: The writer asks the readers if they have completely forgotten the encouragement which speaks to them as sons 12:5a
(2) Citation of Proverbs 3:11-12: The writer cites the wisdom of Proverbs to affirm to his readers that they should not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor loose heart when they are corrected by Him because the Lord disciplines the one whom He loves and bestows corrective punishment upon every son whom he receives favorably 12:5b-6
c) Endure Trials As Divine Discipline: The writer exhorts his readers to endure their trials as divine discipline understanding that God is disciplining them as Sons 12:7
d) Discipline is a Sign of Sonship: The writer explains that fathers as fathers discipline their sons and that if they are left without discipline, then they are illegitimate children rather than true sons 12:8
2) Parental and Divine Discipline: As the writer compares the discipline of natural fathers with that of God, the Father over all realms, he emphasizes the supremacy of the latter’s urging them to submit to Him, realize that even though it is unpleasant now, God disciplines for our advantage yielding peace and righteousness 13:9-11
a) Submit to the Father of Spirits: The writer argues that since his readers (we) respected their natural fathers who disciplined them, they (we) should submit themselves much more to the Father of spirits261 so that they (we) should live 12:9
b) He Disciplines for Our Advantage: The reason they should submit themselves to the Father of Spirits is because He disciplines to their (our) advantage unlike their (our) fathers who disciplined for a short time at their discretion (what seemed best to them) 12:10
c) Though Unpleasant, It Yields Peace and Righteousness: The writer notes that all discipline at the actual time seems not to be pleasant but painful, but later it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness for those who have been trained by it 12:11
c. Exhortation--Renewed Commitment to Complete the Race:262 In view of God’s work of discipline the writer therefore ( Δὶο ) urges his readers to renew their commitment (strengthen their drooping hands and weakened knees, and move in a straight direction with your feet) so that they might have more difficulty (be dislocated), but rather complete the race (be healed) 12:12-13
2. The Final Warning--The Peril of Refusing God’s Gracious Word--Pilgrimage and Covenant Obligation:263 The writer urges his readers to be responsible for those of their own who are prone to apostasy because they are coming to a wonderful God of the New Covenant who will discipline those who are indifferent to His word; thus they should respond with thankful worship 12:14-29
a. Exhortation--The Responsibility of the Community For Their Own Prone to Apostasy: The writer urges the community to pursue peace and holiness and to watch out for those who might struggle by forfeiting God’s gracing, developing a defiling bitter root, and/or become apostate with no opportunity for repentance 12:14-17
1) Pursue Peace and Holiness: The writer urges his readers to pursue peace with everyone264 and holiness--without which no one will see the Lord 12:14
2) Watch For Forfeiting God’s Grace and A Defiling Bitter Root: The writer urges his readers to watch that no one forfeits the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up265 to cause trouble and defile the whole community 12:15
3) Watch for the Apostate and Secular Who Will Have No Opportunity for Repentance: The writer urges his readers to watch that no one becomes immoral (apostate) or secular like Esau because like Esau there will be no opportunity for repentance266 12:16-17
a) Watch for the Apostate and Secular: The writer urges his readers to watch that no one becomes apostate or secular like Esau who gave up his inheritance rights as the older son rather than one dish of food 12:16
b) No Opportunity for Repentance: The reason the writer urges his readers to watch that no one becomes apostate or secular like Esau is because ( γὰρ ) they know that when he desired to inherit the blessing later on he was rejected because he found no opportunity for repentance even though he had diligently sought the blessing with tears 12:17
b. Exposition--A Recital of What the Christian Stands to Lose Through Spiritual Indifference or Carelessness:267 The writer explains that his readers that they need to be responsible for those of their own prone to apostasy because they are not coming to the terrifying God of the Mosaic Covenant, but to the wonderful God of the New Covenant 12:18-24
1) Not to the God of the Mosaic Covenant: The writer explains to his readers that they have not come to the God of the Mosaic Covenant (a [mountain] that may be touched, blazing fire, darkness, gloom, whirlwind, a trumpet blast, a sound of words that made the hearers beg that no further message be given to them for they were not able to bear the command, a place where any animal will be stoned if it touches the mountain and a place that terrified Moses) 12:18-21a
2) To the God of the New Covenant: The writer explains to his readers that in contrary to the God of the Mosaic Covenant they have come to the God of the New Covenant (to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, innumerable companies of angels, a festal gathering, the assembly of the firstborn, a Judge who is God of all, the spirits of righteous persons made perfect, Jesus, mediator of a New Covenant, sprinkled blood speaking more effectively than the blood of Abel 12:21b-24
c. Exhortation--A Concluding Demand to Respond Appropriately to God: The writer urges his readers not to disregard Christ’s words because that will bring about certain discipline, but to respond to Him who is giving them an unshakable kingdom with thankful worship 12:25-29
1) Respond to Christ’s Words or Face Discipline: The author urges his readers to respond to Christ’s words because there will be no escape from his future purification where he will destroy what can be shaken to set up what cannot be shaken 12:25-27
a) Do Not Disregard Christ’s Words: The writer warns his readers not to disregard the one (Christ) who is speaking to them 12:25a
b) No Escape from His Warning:268 The writer explains that they should not disregard Christ who is speaking to them because ( γὰρ ) there is no escape (from discipline) from the one who warns them from heaven just as there was no escape from the one who warned Israel before from on earth (the voice of God)269 12:25b
c) A Future Purification: The writer explains that although the one who spoke before shook the earth at that time,270 the one from heaven promises to shake the earth and the heavens271 once again removing what can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken may remain 12:26-27
2) Worship God with Thanksgiving: Since the readers are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken the writer therefore ( Δὶο ) urges his readers to be thankful and to worship God in an acceptable manner with fear and awe for their (our) God is a consuming fire272 12:28-29
D. Words of Endurance--Life Within the Confessing Community:273 The writer urges his readers to love one another, be personally pure, and to obey their leaders by leaving Judaism, whereupon he prays that God will make them complete with everything good to do His will 13:1-21
1. Pastoral Precepts:274 The writer exhorts his readers to love others, to be morally pure in the realm of marriage, and to be content with what they have because God has promised to provide for their life 13:1-6
a. Exhortations to Love: The writer exhorts his readers to be deeply committed to others by continuing to love the brethren, showing hospitality to strangers, and remembering with empathy those who are prisoners and who have been mistreated 13:1-3
1) Love the Brethren: The writer urges that his readers must continue in brotherly love 13:1
2) Show Hospitality to Strangers: The writer urges his readers not to neglect hospitality to strangers (φιλοξενίας) because ( γὰρ ) by this means some persons have entertained angels without knowing it275 13:2
3) Remember Prisoners and the Mistreated: The writer urges his readers to continue to remember with empathy the prisoners and those who are mistreated 13:3
b. Exhortations to Martial Purity: The writer affirms the purity of marriage as something to be respected and undefiled because God will judge those who are sexually immoral and adulterers 13:3-4
1) The Purity of Marriage: The writer affirms that marriage must be respected by everyone and that the marriage bed must be undefiled 13:3a
2) Judgment of The Sexually Immoral and Adulterers: The reason that the marriage bed must be undefiled is because God will judge those who are sexually immoral and adulterers 13:4
c. Exhortations to Contentment: The writer urges his readers to be content with what they have because God has promised to provide for their lives 13:5-6
1) Be Content with What You Have: The writer urges his readers to have their lives free from the love of money and to be content with what they have 13:5
2) The Lord Will Provide for Life: The reason the writer urges his readers to be content with what they have is because the Lord has promised to provide for their lives276 13:6
2. Communal Directives: The writer urges his readers to follow the examples of their leaders, and to obey and submit to them by leaving Judaism, bearing Christ’s disgrace and through their high priest, Jesus, offering the sacrifices of praise and good deeds 13:7-19
a. Setting--Remember Your Leaders: The writer urges his readers to follow the example of their leaders who first spoke the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ and not to be led astray by the fluid and changing configurations of the strange [Jewish] teachers 13:7-9
1) Remember, Consider and Imitate Leaders: The writer urges his readers to continue to remember their leaders as those who spoke277 the Word of God to them, to consider the accomplishment of their conduct and to imitate their faith 13:7
2) The Gospel of Jesus Christ Does Not Change:278 The writer affirms the consistency of Jesus Christ (he is the same yesterday, today, and forever) 13:8
3) Don’t Be Led Astray:279 The writer exhorts his readers not to be led away with various strange teachings because it is good for the heart to be strengthened through grace rather than through regulations (foods)280 which do not benefit those who adhere to them 13:9
b. Hortatory Exposition: In view of the false Jewish teachers the writer affirms that his readers have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat because Jesus fulfills the requirement of the Day of Atonement; therefore they should leave Judaism, bear Christ’s disgrace and through their high priest, Jesus, offer the sacrifices of praise and good deeds 13:10-16
1) Exposition: In view of the false, Jewish teachers (above) the writer affirms that his readers have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat because Jesus fulfills the requirement of the Day of Atonement 13:10-12
a) Believers Have an Altar: The writer affirms that they (we) have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat 13:10
b) The writer explains ( γὰρ ) that believers have an alter from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat because Jesus fulfills the requirement of the Day of Atonement 13:11-12
(1) Day of Atonement: The writer explains that on the Day of Atonement the blood of the sacrificial animals was brought into the Most Holy Place by the high priest for sin, but the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp281 13:11
(2) Jesus: The writer explains that as with the animals on the Day of Atonement so was it with Jesus who suffered death outside the city gate in order to consecrate the people through his own blood282 13:12
2) Exhortation: The writer concludes that his readers should leave Judaism (the camp and city), bear Christ’s disgrace and offer the sacrifices of praise and good deeds 11:13-16
b) Do Not Have a Permanent City: The writer explains that his readers should go outside the camp and bear the disgrace that Jesus bore because ( γὰρ ) they do not (presently) have a permanent city (Jerusalem?), but are intently expecting the city which is to come285 13:14
c) Offer Sacrifices of Praise and Good Deeds: The writer concludes that his readers should offer to God the sacrifices of verbal praise and acts of kindness and generosity because God is pleased with such sacrifices 13:15-16
(1) Praise His Name: The writer concludes (Δὶο) that his readers (we) should through Jesus (as through the high priest) continually offer to God a sacrifice consisting of verbal praise to His name286 13:15
(2) Acts of Love: The writer also urges his readers not to neglect acts of kindness and generosity because God is pleased with such sacrifices 13:16
c. Conclusion--Obey Your Leaders: The writer urges his readers to continue to obey their leaders, to submit to their authority and to let them lead with joy because they keep watch over their eternal life; also he urges them and to pray for him in his difficult situation and that he might be restored to them sooner 13:17-19
1) Obey and Submit to Your Leaders: The writer urges his readers to continue to obey their leaders and to submit to their authority because they keep watch for their eternal life as those who intend to give an account and should be able to do so with joy and not groaning 13:17
a) Exhortations--Obey and Submit: The writer urges his readers to continue to obey their leaders and to submit to their authority 13:17a
b) Reason--They Keep Watch Over Your Eternal Life: The writer explains that they should continue to obey and submit to their leaders because they keep watch for their (your) eternal life as those who intend to give an account 13:17b
c) Exhortation--Let Them Lead With Joy: The write urges his readers to let their leaders keep watch with joy and not groaning because the latter would be unprofitable for them (you) 13:17c
2) Prayer for the Writer: The writer urges his readers to continue to pray for them in their difficult situation where they have been falsely accused, and that they pray that he be restored to them sooner 13:18-19
a) Continue to Pray for The Writer: The writer urges his readers to continue to pray for them because they (we) are convinced that they have a clear conscience because they strive to act commendably in every way 13:18
b) Pray for Restoration Sooner: The writer urges his readers to pray so that he might be restored to them sooner 13:19
3. Prayer--God’s Provision for the Readers to Do His Will: The writer prays that the God of peace Who should be given glory forever and Who led our Lord Jesus--the great Shepherd of the sheep--out from the dead by virtue of the blood of the eternal covenant,-- that this God would make his readers complete with everything good to do His will accomplishing in them (us) what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ 13:20-21
a. Prayer for God’s Provision: The writer prays that the God of peace who led287 our Lord Jesus--the great Shepherd of the sheep--out from the dead288 by virtue of the blood of the eternal covenant,289 that God would make his readers complete with everything good to do His will accomplishing in them (us) what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ 13:20-21a
b. Prayer For God to Be Glorified: The writer prays that glory would be given to the Lord forever. Amen. 13:21b
IV. CONCLUSION--AN APPENDED PERSONAL NOTE: The writer closes his letter by urging his readers to listen to this letter of exhortation, passing on information about Timothy’s release and his plans to visit them, conveying greetings to all in the church and praying that God’s grace would be with them 13:22-25
A. Commendation of the Sermon: The writer urges his readers, as brothers to willingly listen to this letter of exhortation which he has briefly written to them 13:22
B. Passing On of Information: The writer informs his readers that Timothy has been released and that if he comes very soon that he will visit the readers with Timothy 13:23
C. Conveying Greetings: The writer conveys greetings to the leaders of the church and all of the saints and from those in Italy 13:24
1. Greetings to Leaders and the Saints: The writer greets the readers’ leaders and all of the saints 13:24a
2. The writer conveys greetings from Italy 13:24
D. Blessing: The writer prays that grace would be with all of his readers 13:25
1 In this unit Christ is related to God, creation, man and angels and represents God as the prophet who has spoken, the priest who has cleansed from sin, and the king who has sat down in majesty! These themes (of revelation, sacrifice and greatness) will be developed throughout the epistle.
Literally this unit may be in a chiastic pattern:
A Revelation through Prophets and Son
B Heir of Everything (Ps. 2:8)
C (Wisdom) as Agent of Creation
C’ (Wisdom) as Sustainer of Creation
B’ Seated Ruler (Ps. 110:1)
A’ Revelation through Angels and Son
“The framing statements (A A’) enunciate emphatically the theme of supreme revelation through the Son. The core of the exordium (B C C’ B’) describes Jesus in an arresting way as the royal Son, divine Wisdom, and the royal Priest (see William Lane, Hebrews, Word Biblical Commentary, 47A, [Dallas, Word Books Publisher, 1992], pp. 6-7).
2 Literally, “in these last days” ( ἑπ ῾ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν ). The last days begin from the time of Christ onward. He inaugurates the last days because he is the one through whom fulfillment comes.
3 As Hugh Montefiore says, “This writer’s contrast is not between natural and revealed religion or between general and special revelation, but between God’s word of promise spoken by the prophets and his final word of fulfilment (sic) spoken by his Son” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [London: Adam & Charles Black, 1964], p. 34). This is supported in the next portion of verse two where he is the heir of all things because he made all things.
4 This term Son is probably descriptive of the Hebrew concept of Messiah (2 Sam. 7).
5 See Psalm 2:8
6 This is tied to Jewish wisdom literature which exalts divine Wisdom as the agent of creation, revelation and reconciliation: “I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. For in her there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle. For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets (Wisdom of Solomon 7:21-27). Likewise Wisdom of Solomon 9:2 reads, “an by thy wisdom hast formed man, to have dominion over the creatures thou has made” (The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, pp. 110, 112).
7 Literally this reads, “τούς αἰῶνας“ meaning more than just the earth, but all that exists through time--the entire created universe, both physical and spiritual.
8 See John 1:14.
9 The Son reveals God because he is God which is substantiated by the work of God which he does--he sustains all things by the actively spoken word (ῥήματι). This is a gain an allusion to wisdom.
10 Here the Son is both priest and victim as on the Day of Atonement (cf. Ex. 30:10). See also 10:11-14.
11 This was the seat of honor (1 Ki. 2:19) and Davidic kings sat in the presence of God (1 Sam. 7:18; cf. Ps. 110:1). See Hebrews 8:1; 10:12; 12:2.
12 There are several views with respect to what is occurring here with the mention of angels: (1) the writer is attacking an undue deference to angels [cf. Col. 2:18], (2) the writer is attacking those who equate the Son with one of the “principalities and powers” which ruled the universe [cf. 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 3:10; Col. 2:15], (3) the writer is demonstrating that the one whom God addresses in heaven is not an angel [note the following testimonia from the OT), and (4) the writer is speaking to Christians who were in danger of lapsing into Judaism whereby they would identify Christ neither with God nor man, but with an angel (Montefiore, Hebrews, pp. 40-42).
The angels were the heavenly mediators of the word of God.
13 This is emphasizing his exaltation.
14 This unit is identified through the literary technique of an inclusio:
1:5 “To which of the angels did God every say ...?”
1:13 “to which of the angels has God ever said ...?”
The chain of OT passages demonstrating the superiority of the Son to the angels is expository in character and lays the foundation for the exhortation which follows in 2:1-4.
Lane notes that a synthetic parallelism exists between the opening confession of the Son and the string of quotations which follow since the OT citations were selected to support the declarations made in verses 2b-3c (Hebrews, p. 22):
A Appointment as Royal heir (2b, 5-9)
B Mediator of the creation (2c, 10)
C Eternal nature (3a,b, 11-12)
D Exaltation to God’s right hand (3c, 13)
This paragraph unfolds through three paragraphs which unfold the antithetical nature of the Son with the angels. This is done through a series of OT citations which allow the church to hear words spoken by God to the Son.
15 Note that Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 are Davidic promises. Jesus is a son in accordance to the promises given to David.
In addition there is a chiasm:
A You are my Son
B today I have become your Father
B’ I will be his Father
A’ and he will be my Son.
16 See Matthew 3:17a.
17 Exodus 4:22; Numbers 11:12; Hos. 2:1; 11:1, 3-4; Jer. 31:9.
18 As Lane writes, “Their function is to serve; his is to rule. They are subject to constant change; he does not change, and his rule reflects a commitment to righteousness, which explains why God has crowned him with joy” (Hebrews, p. 30).
19 See the LXX of Ps. 103:4 (English/Hebrew 104:4). God exercises his will through angels.
20 This is a μὲν…δὲ beginning with verse 7. Now he argues for the exalted position of the Son as opposed to the servant position of angels.
21 See the LXX of Psalm 44:6-7 (English/Hebrew 45:6-7).
22 Lane writes, “The attribute of permanence in the Creator corresponds to the durability of his throne and serves to reinforce the contrast between the mutability of the angels and the stable, abiding character of the Son” (Hebrews, p. 30). “Heaven and earth, the realm of the angels, both belong to the created order, which will change and decay” (Ibid., p. 31).
This is a reference to the LXX of Psalm 101:25-27 (cf. English/Hebrew Psalm 102:25-27).
23 See 1:2.
24 The correlation of Messiah and God were made above in verses 8-9. This is carried on with the “you” in verse 10.
25 This verse begins with words which form an inclusio with verse 5 thereby tying the paragraph together. Note that in verse 5 Psalm 2:7 was employed and in verse 13 Psalm 110 is employed. This matches the allusions in the prologue (1:2, 3). Psalm 110:1 is employed here.
26 Whereas 1:5-14 and 2:5-18 are paragraphs of exposition, this is a paragraph of exhortation. This is a formal rhetorical technique.
27 This implies that the community was growing “lax in their commitment to Christ and were neglecting the Christian message” (Lane, Hebrews, p. 37). If the readers were unbelievers one would have expected the writer to exhort them to believe or receive what they have heard, and not to include himself in the exhortation. Also, note that the original witnesses were said to have “heard” the same word (2:3). This means more than an auditory response. It is inclusive of responding appropriately to what is said (Deut. 6:4, “Hear, O Israel!”); in this case that would have included belief.
28 This term, παραρρεῖν , describes “drifting away from one’s course.” Lane writes, “If it is proper to recognize (with Teodorico, Revist B 6  33-39) a nautical overtone in προσέχειν, ‘to hold a ship toward port, or to fasten the anchors to the sea bed,’ the image of a drifting ship, carried by the current beyond a fixed point, furnished a vivid metaphor for the failure to keep a firm grip on the truth through carelessness and lack of concern. In Prov 3:21 (LXX) παραρρεῖν signifies to lose sight of advice and wisdom. The writer warns his readers that they are in danger of losing sight of the reality of Christian salvation” (Hebrews, p. 37). He is not saying that something is drifting away from them (i.e., their salvation), but that they are in danger of drifting away from something (e.g., the revelation they have received).
Toussaint rightly understands this salvation to be eschatological, but then he concludes that it cannot have any correlation with reward since the judgment seat of Christ will have no “remembrance of sin” (Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Eschatology of the Warning Passages in the Book of Hebrews.” Grace Theological Journal 3 (1982): 69-70). His theological conclusion does not necessarily follow. Therefore, it can relate to believers in an eschatological sense.
29 This is the protasis of a first class conditional clause which assumes the truth of the statement (If, and its true,...). This message which was delivered through angels is precisely matched by the message which was delivered by the Lord in the apodosis.
The mention of a revelation which was spoken by God through angels draws the reader to tie the concern here with Judaism.
30 Although they are not mentioned in Exodus 19--20, Deuteronomy 33:2 notes that God came “from the midst of ten thousand holy ones,” and the LXX adds, “angels were with him at his right hand” (cf. Ps. 68:17). Later Jewish thought developed the thought that angels played a mediatorial role in the transmission of the Law (Book of Jubilees 1:27; 2:1, 26-27) then the NT also confirms this understanding (Acts 7:38; cf. v. 53; Galatians 3:19)
31 It is possible that the just recompense would be the persecution of Jews and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in AD 70) if this is to Palestinian Jews who are returning to Judaism from Christianity.
32 This supplies a hint that the author was probably neither one of the Twelve nor Paul himself (cf. Galatians 1--2). Lane affirms that “those who heard” need not be a reference to the apostles since “apostle” is only used of the Lord in 3:1 (Hebrews, p. 39), but who would be “those who heard” him in the fullest sense but the apostles? While this may not necessarily describe the office of apostles, it certainly describes the apostles in a full sense.
33 These were the redemptive activities on behalf of Israel in the LXX and thus the vehicle for revelation (Ex. 7:3; Deut. 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; 29:2; cf. Mark 16:20).
34 The term is “power” ( δυνάμεσιν ) by which God breaks into the community to confirm his word.
35 The manifestations of power were meant to validate the message delivered to the community!
“Since the purpose of this evidence is the validation that God has spoken definitively in Christ, unbelief and carelessness can only be regarded as the expression of an utterly incomprehensible hardness of heart (cf. 3:7-8, 12, 15; 4:7)” (Lane, Hebrews, p. 40).
36 This unit is identified through the literary technique of an inclusio:
2:5 “For it is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come.”
2:16 “For surely it is not angels that he helps”
When one gets to 2:17-18 one has an introduction to the next subject. The introduction of other “characteristic terms” than angels in these verse are a clue that the author is about to introduce another line of thought.
37 That which people today use to prove that Christ is not God, the writer of Hebrews uses to prove that he is God.
38 The objection might have been that since Jesus assumed a condition inferior to angels--especially by tasting of death-- that the angels were superior to Christ. Therefore the writer asserts that God did not entrust the administration of the heavenly world to come to angels (as he may have with this present world [Deut. 32:8]), but to the exalted Messiah. This clarified perspective will then allow the writer to unfold Jesus’ solidarity with mankind in 2:10-18.
39 This no doubt has reference to the eschatological kingdom of God in which Salvation is worked out (cf. Ps. 92:1; 95:10; Heb. 1:66:5; 13:14)
40 This citation comes from Psalm 8:4. Note the correlation of Psalm 8 with Psalm 110 in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:25-27; Eph. 1:20-22; cf. Phil. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:22).
While the Psalm has a reference to man in general (who was designed to rule over the earth [Genesis 1:26-28]), it specifically points to messiah, the Son of Man (cf. Dan. 7:13). Could this also be an allusion to the second Adam? Jesus as the second Adam (a representative man) fulfills the ruling vocation intended for humankind.
41 The scope of this “everyone” is found below in 2:10 where it says “many sons.”
42 In view of 2:9 the writer begins by explaining that the death which Jesus died was consistent with God’s known character and purpose. Therefore, Lane writes, “god who creates and preserves all things is precisely the one who is able to act in such a way that his design for humankind will be achieved” (Hebrews, p. 55).
43 The sense of τελειῶσαι is one of becoming fully equipped for one’s office as the priests were consecrated for their office (cf. LXX of Ex. 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Lev. 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Num. 3:3). The sufferings of Jesus permitted Him to come before God with his redemptive mission. “The expression ‘perfected through suffering’ thus anticipates the full development of the paragraph, which moves from the champion motif of vv 10-16 to the presentation of Jesus as high priest in vv 17-18” (Lane, Hebrews, p. 58).
44 This term, ἀρχηγός, which might be translated “leader,” “author,” “guide,” or “pioneer” may also be an allusion to Hellenistic image of Hercules--the “divine hero” who descends from heaven to earth to rescue humankind” (Lane, Hebrews, pp. 56-57, 61; cf. also Knox, Harvard Theological Review : 234-235, 245-247; Somon, Hercule et le Christianisme, Galinsky, The Herkles Theme, Tiede, Charismatic Figure,pp. 71-100). It is also possible that the “champion” concept could come from the OT (cf. Isa. 42:13; 49:24-26; 59:15b-20; Eph. 4).
45 This is it he goal of salvation (cf. 2:7 above).
46 The cultic character of “perfect” above is made evident in this verse with “consecrates” or “sanctifies ( ἀγιάζων ). This is how the people of Israel were admitted into God’s presence (cf. Procksch, TDNT, I:89-97). Here Jesus (cf. 13:12) is like God of the OT who sanctified His people (Ex. 31:13; Lev. 20:8, 21:15; 22:9, 16, 32; cf. Ezk. 20:12; 37:28)
47 One can interpret the term for “one” ( ἐνὸς ) in three possible ways: (1) if it is neuter in gender it could refer to a common human nature, (2) if it is masculine it could refer to “one man” (i.e., Adam or Abraham), and (3) if it is masculine it could also refer to God. The latter may be the best choice in view of the contextual references to God in 2:10 and the family relationship in 2:11. “Both the Son and those who are sons share a common familial relationship that is rooted in the gracious determination of God to bring his children to their destiny through the redemptive mission of the Son” (Lane, Hebrews, p. 58).
48 This has an eschatological tone.
49 Lane writes, “The prophet was persecuted and rejected by the people, but he became a rallying point for faith .... Jesus is now the representative head of a new humanity which is being led to glory through suffering ...” (Hebrews, p. 60).
50 The difference between Jesus and mankind is that our death was connected with disobedience to God whereas Jesus’ was connected with doing the will of God. Therefore, the devil had no claim upon Jesus (cf. 2 Timothy 1:10).
51 These verses bring this first major unit (1:5--2:16) to a conclusion (“for this reason, *hen”) and they announce the subject to be developed in the next unit (e.g., the purpose of the Son’s solidarity with the human family was that he might become a “merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (v. 17)
52 Lane writes, “common to the concepts both of champion and of high priest are the elements of representation and solidarity with a particular people. The presentation of Jesus in 2:10-18 provided assurance that the exalted Son continues to identify himself with the oppressed people of God exposed to humiliation and testing in a hostile world” (Hebrews, p. 67).
53 In the previous section there was a concentration on Christ made human. Now, by comparing Christ with a man such as Moses, the author is trying to show how great a man Jesus is. He is a faithful man. This takes up one of the two themes in 2:17, “a merciful and faithful high priest.”
Verse 14 probably does not take up a new paragraph, but is a conclusion to the paragraph begun here at 3:1. The terms which tie these units together are Jesus, high priest, and confession (cf. 3:1-2a with 4:14). Lane writes, “the hearers are urged to find in the faithfulness of Jesus an incentive for their own fidelity as Christians (Hebrews, p. 69). The actual theme of high priest is not picked up until 4:15ff.
There is a logical reason for the placement of Jesus’ superiority of Moses after his superiority over angels. Moses had a higher privilege and rank than the ministering angels (cf. Numbers 12:6-8; Lane, Ibid., p. 73-74).
54 The key terms in this section are “faithful” and “house.” The writer uses the latter to demonstrate that Jesus is superior to Moses.
Moses is only designated a priest once in the OT (Ps. 99:6), but he qualifies as a priest with his Levitical background (Ex. 2:1-10), his ministry of the word and privileged vision of God (Ex. 33:12--34:35; Num 12:7-8), and his service at the alter (Ex. 24:4-8). Perhaps this is the priestly tie with 2:17. Jesus is a faithful high priest. He is even more faithful than the priest Moses.
55 These terms sum up 1:1--2:18. Jesus is the one who proclaimed God’s word of salvation (apostle) and made propitiation for the sins of the people (High Priest). Note that Moses was “sent” (ἀπόστείλω) to Pharaoh as a messenger from God (LXX Ex. 3:10). Lane writes, “The coordination of the phrase ‘apostle and high priest’ indicates that the writer is concerned to emphasize the indivisibility of the two offices. The revelation accomplished in Jesus is characterized neither by the word alone nor by the priestly office alone, but by both in conjunction” (Hebrews, p. 76).
56 See Numbers 12:7 (Moses); 1 Chronicles 17:14 (the Davidite).
57 Lane suggests that there is a chiastic structure here:
A Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses
B as the house-builder receives more honor than the house
B’ for every house is built by someone
A’ but God is the builder of everything
“Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses in the same measure as God has more honor than the universe he created” (Hebrews, p. 77).
58 Here God’s house may have reference to the people of God (Num. 12:7), or more specifically the tabernacle of God. Zane Hodges writes, “The reference to Moses being faithful in all God’s house was drawn from Numbers 12:7 in which the tabernacle furnished the backdrop. Hence God’s ‘house’ in the Old Testament situation would be the tabernacle itself which Moses had constructed in strict obedience to the divine directions. It was a prophetic testimony ‘to what would be said in the future’ (Heb. 3:5) (“Hebrews” in BKC, NT, p. 786).
59 Jesus rules over God’s house as Son--one enthroned, acclaimed, and worshiped by angels (cf. 1:3-6).
60 As with Moses’ house, the readers are now being described as the house that the Son is over.
61 Hodges writes, “As the context and the Old Testament background show, the author was thinking in priestly terms. He was also thinking functionally. The exalted Son presides over a priestly apparatus which is an operative reality. As long as the readership held firmly to their Christian commitment, they also functioned within this priestly arrangement. But just as one who was a true Levite by birth could withdraw from participation in the tabernacle of Moses’ day, so too one who is truly a Christian by new birth may withdraw from his priestly role within the functioning household. It was precisely this danger which concerned the writer, in the present warning passage as well as in later ones” (BKC, 786).
62 The two main terms which set off this unit are see (βλέπειν) and unbelief (ἀπιστία) as they set up an inclusio in verses 12 and 19. The significance of these terms is that the response to the word of God can be unbelief. Therefore, they are being admonished to maintain the basic position of faith (cf. v. 14).
63 LXX Psalm 94:7-11.
64 This is a good text to support inspiration.
65 Note that the author teats his readers as a redeemed people (e.g., their “fathers”).
Historically, Ross affirms that the “incident referred to here is the people’s murmuring at Rephidim (Ex. 17; Num. 20:1-13). The names given to the place reflect the incident. Meribah (cf. Pss. 81:7; 106:32) means ‘strife’ and Massah means ‘testing,’ for the people strove with the Lord and tested Him. So God swore that they could not enter the land, but must perish in the wilderness. The younger generation would enter the Promised Land” (Allen P. Ross, “Psalms” in BKC, OT, p. 864). This is based upon verse 8 of the MT.
However, Probably Numbers 13--14 are particularly in view in the LXX where the particular place names are replaced by the “rebellion” and the “testing.” Israel camped at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran and refused to enter when the “spys” brought back their report (cf. Hebrews 3:16-19).
Concerning the concept of “rest” here and in Hebrews 3:11 Ross writes, “This passage is quoted in Hebrews 3:7-11 as a warning for Christians who through unbelief (Heb. 3:12) were in danger of not receiving the promised rest (cf. comments .... In its fullest sense, that rest signifies the Lord’s coming kingdom on earth, when believers will experience spiritual and temporal rest in the Lord. Believers, of course, enter that rest positionally when they cease from their works and trust Him” (Ibid.). This rest has its root expression in the goal of creation--the sabbath rest.
66 The writer extends his warning to every member of the congregation (τινὶ ὑμῶν meaning “even one among you” [cf. 3:13; 4:1, 11; 6:12; 12:15]).
67 Lane notes that this “unbelief” “is not a lack of faith or trust. It is the refusal to believe God. It leads inevitably to a turning away from God in a deliberate act of rejection” (Hebrews, p. 86; cf. Numbers 14:11; Deut. 1:32; 9:32; Ps. 106:24). This sin is a refusal to obey God and to act upon His promise. The Christian community is not immune from the rebellious spirit expressed by the generation in the desert.
68 He is comparing his readers to the wilderness generation (LXX of Numbers 14:9) where God’s people were commanded not to depart (ἀποστάται). But they did and thus did not enter the land (their rest). Therefore, this description of “falling away” can have reference to believers. F. F. Bruce writes, “And for Christians to repudiate the Apostle and high priest of their confession, similarly appointed by God, would be if possible an even more outrageous revolt against the living God. It has indeed been questioned whether a relapse from Christianity into Judaism would be comparable to the action of the Israelites when they ‘turned back their hearts unto Egypt;’ it would not be a mere return to a position previously occupied, but a gesture of outright apostasy. A complete break with God (The Epistle to the Hebrews. The New International Commentary [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1964], p. 66).
69 Had the writer doubted the salvation of his readers it would make more sense for him to exhort them to believe or receive Christ rather than to encourage each other daily (3:12).
70 This resumes the if in 3:6 (ἐάνπερ).
71 Lane appropriately writes, “The appeal to hold firmly to the basic position held at the beginning in v 14 presents the antithesis to the ἀποστῆναι, ‘turning away,’ in v 12 .... It draws its emotional force from the disposition of Israel at Kadesh, where the people determined to elect new leadership and return to Egypt (Num 14:3-4) rather than to maintain their position and to act on the promise of God .... The readers are reminded that perseverance until the time of the actual realization of the promise and entrance into the eschatological rest prepared for the people of God is required of those who are ‘partners with Christ.’ The community is called to expectant waiting” (Hebrews, p. 88). If they do not hold on to the end they will not be acting as partners with Christ and will be expressing rebellion against him.
72 The writer uses the rhetorical devise of questions with answers supplied to drive home his point. This is called subiectio (Lane, Hebrews, p. 84).
Israel’s evil was defiant unbelief in that they rebelled against God (v. 16), sinned against God (v. 17), and refused to obey God (v. 18).
73 Lane writes, “When the Israelites realized their folly, they sought to repent. In their presumption they decided they would enter Canaan after all, in spite of the divine oath. The mission was abortive and they were soundly defeated (Num 14:39-45; cf. Deut 1:41-44). The oath of God was final. It is this epilogue to the transactions at Kadesh that is involved with the statement, ‘they were unable to enter because of unbelief’ .... The conclusion thus introduces the motif of the impossibility of a second repentance after apostasy, in anticipation of a fuller treatment later in the sermon (6:4-8; 10:26-31; ...). The hearers are left with the overwhelming impression that unbelief would expose them to the same precarious situation as Israel at Kadesh” (Hebrews, p. 89).
74 In addition to the continued development of Psalm 95 (LXX 94), the writer of Hebrews also includes Genesis 2:2 in this warning. The two passages are connected to one another by the Greek cognate for “rest” (Gen. 2:2 “κατέπαυσεν,” Ps. 94:11 “κατάπαυσις“). This is based upon reading these OT passages in Greek because the MT uses different terms. The rest which Israel did not enter into in Psalm 95:11 is tied to the goal of creation--the sabbath rest.
75 This unit is marked off by an inclusio formed by hortatory subjunctives and the phrase “to enter that rest (vv. 1, 11). Also the thought of “entering into God’s rest” is repeated throughout the unit (vv. 1, 3a, 3b, 5, 6, 10, 11). This is all based upon the expression used in Psalm 95:11 (LXX 94:11), “I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.”
76 This “good news” is the term usually used for the gospel (εὐηγγελισμένοι). Yet here it probably relates to the good news concerning God’s rest (as with Israel in Numbers 14) rather than the specific message about redemption.
77 This is an aorist participle in 4:3 ( οἱ πιστεύσαντες).
78 This is a present tense (Εἰσρχόμεθα) emphasizing a present aspect of the rest which those who have believed have already entered into. This present aspect no doubt includes the benefits of spiritual rest or salvation (cf. Luke 4). The writer is concerned about entering into the future rest as well.
Another explanation of this present tense is that it is a futuristic present (Matt. 17:11; Jn. 14:3; 1 Cor. 16:5) asserting in a confident (present) way the imminent fulfillment in the future (Toussaint, “Warning Passages in Hebrews” GTJ, 3::71).
79 This probably has reference to Psalm 95 contextually which is also the speaking of the Holy Spirit (3:7). Perhaps this will occur at the future Judgment Seat of Christ.
80 In other words God’s word (Ps. 95) will expose the motives of the readers in their move away from Christianity back to Judaism. It will be seen as an act of rebellion in a threatening situation rather than an act of faith. It will parallel Israel’s rebellion in the face of “giants in the land” rather than their faith to follow God’s command to take the land which He was giving them. These are the rebellious “thoughts and intentions of our hearts” which will be exposed (cf. 4:11b).
81 While this unit is the concluding section to what was begun in 3:1, it is also transitional in that it reintroduces the concept of Jesus as high priest (2:17-18) which will be developed in the following unit. Lane writes, “Jesus’ high priestly ministry is the guarantee that God’s people will celebrate the Sabbath in his presence” (Hebrews, p. 103).
82 The statement that Jesus is the “Son of God” may well be the confession ( ὁμολογίας ) that they are being exhorted to hold fast to.
83 Contextually, this “time of need” seems to be more than any general need in a person’s life. It seems to be a need to remain faithful when one is tempted to deny Christ and thus be rebellious.
84 Lane notes a concentric symmetry to these verses:
A The old office of high priest (5:1)
B The solidarity of the high priest with the people (5:2-3)
C The humility of the high priest (5:4)
C’ The humility of Christ (5:5-6)
B’ The solidarity of Christ with the people (5:7-8)
A’ The new office of the high priest (5:9-10)
This structure emphasizes the similarities between Jesus and the high priest until verse 9-10 which unfold the differences that separate the unique priesthood of Christ from the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews, p. 111). These differences will then be developed in 7:1--10:18.
85 The movement is from Jesus (4:14-16) to Aaron (5:1-4) to Jesus (5:5-10).
86 Lane writes, “The bloody offerings for the Day of Atonement are in the foreground of the discussion of the sacrificial ministry of the Levitical high priest here and elsewhere in Hebrews (cf. 7:27; 10:4, 12, 26) [Hebrews, p. 116].
87 This seems to match the OT pattern of offering for sins of ignorance or error (cf. 9:7; Lev. 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:2-4), and not sins committed intentionally which would result in exclusion from Israel (Num. 15:30-31).
88 See Leviticus 4:3-12; 9:7; On the Day of Atonement he was expected to make atonement for himself, his household and for the congregation of Israel (Lev. 16:6, 11, 15-17). See also the Mishnah Yoma 3:8; 4:2--5:7.
89 See Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:10; 18:1. This emphasizes the humility of the high priest who is dependent upon divine appointment.
90 Although the writer implies through these comparisons that Christ is greater than Aaron, the specific statements are differed until 7:1-25.
91 Note that “Son” is not descriptive of parentage, but of appointment (cf. 1:5).
92 This was implied in 1:3 as the one who made “purification of sins.” Now it is explicitly stated. “Son” was emphasized in 1--4; priest will be emphasized in 5--10.
93 Unlike the counterpart to this category above, Jesus is not united with the people through evil. Rather, he is united with the people through suffering and dependence upon God. Lane writes, “Jesus is able to feel the weakness of others because he was exposed to testing even as they are” (Hebrews, p. 116).
94 The term for suffering is ε῎παθεν which in Hebrews speaks of Jesus’ death as a part of his priestly duty (cf. 2:9, 10; 9:26; 13:12). The learning probably related to learning God’s will from the Scripture. As Lane writes, “From Scripture, and especially from the Psalms, Jesus learned that his passion was grounded in the saving will of God and could not be severed from his calling. Thus in the declaration that Jesus ‘learned obedience from what he suffered,’ the term τὴν ὑπακοήν, ‘obedience,’ has a very specific meaning: it is obedience to the call to suffer death in accordance with the revealed will of God.... Jesus freely accepted the suffering of death because Scripture, and through it God, appointed him to this sacrifice for the sake of his office....” He does not cling to the privileged status that his unique sonship implies but receives it from the Father only after he has suffered the humiliation of death on the cross (cf. 12:2). Jesus learned experientially what obedience entails through his passion in order to achieve salvation and to become fully qualified for his office as eternal high priest (2:10; 5:9-10)” (Hebrews, p. 121).
95 Lane writes, “Through his sufferings and the accomplishment of his redemptive mission, Jesus has been perfected by God as the priest of his people and exalted to the divine presence ....” (Hebrews, p. 122).
96 Although most divide this unit into two paragraphs with a “severe warning” in 5:11--6:8 and then an “encouragement” in 6:9-20, Lane seems to be correct when he identifies an inclusio with in 5:11 and 6:12 through the term “sluggish” (νωθροί). He writes, “This word occurs only here in Hebrews, and nowhere else in the NT. Its literary function corresponds to the use of ἀπιστία in 3:12 and 3:19 to indicate the limits of a paragraph of comment on the biblical citation of Ps 95:7b-11...” (Hebrews, p. 134).
With insight Lane writes, “It is commonly assumed on the basis of 5:11--6:3 that the community addressed had failed to mature in faith and understanding, and consequently required rudimentary instruction rather than the advanced exposition of Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice presented in 7:1--10:18. the problem with this reconstruction of the situation is that it is not supported by the detail of the text. The biblical interpretation and the presentation of Christology in 1:1--5:10 presuppose advanced Christian instruction and a level of understanding that corresponds to the adult consumption of solid food and not to a diet of milk. In addition, the writer shows no inclination to review with his hearers the foundational elements of the Christian faith. He clearly regarded the hearers as mature. He reminds them that they have ingested over a considerable period of time the instruction that qualified them to be the teachers of others (5:12). Consequently, the portrayal of them as infants who have to be nurtured with milk is not an actual description of some or of all of the members of the community. It is irony, calculated to shame them and to recall them to the stance of conviction and boldness consonant with their experience (6:4-5, 10) and hope (6:9-12). The community has deviated from its earlier course (cf. 10:32-34) by becoming sluggish in understanding (5:12). Their regression to infancy must represent a quite recent development. It was apparently an attempt to sidestep their responsibility in a world that persecuted them and held them in contempt, but it threatened their integrity. The purpose of 5:11--6:12 is to preserve the community from such aberration by reminding them of what they have experienced and what they posses through the gospel ...” (Hebrews, p. 135, cf. p. 145-146).
97 See Lane Hebrews, p. 138.
98 The foundation has already been laid (cf. 2:3-4; 6:1, 4).
99 Each of the six items listed here may well have reference to the high priestly ministry of Christ: dead works=regulations associated with the Levitical priesthood (9:10), washings, appointment of priests through the laying on of hands et cetera (see Lane Hebrews, p. 140).
100 This term ( ᾿Αδύνατον) is placed emphatically at the head of these verses in the Greek text.
Lane writes, “The assertion ‘it is impossible to restore them to repentance’ is parallel to the notion of laying again the foundation concerning repentance in v 1. There the primary word concerning Christ was the foundation, which had to be left standing and which could not be recast. This thought is reiterated precisely in v 6; it is impossible to seek to lay another foundation than the one that has been laid and is sustaining the people of God .... In the eschatological perspective of Hebrews, there is no other repentance than that provided by God through Jesus Christ. There is no salvation apart from the purification for sins accomplished by the divine Son in the final period of God’s redemptive activity (1:1-3). The ἀδύνατον, which is used absolutely and without qualification in v 4, expresses an impossibility because the apostate repudiates the only basis upon which repentance can be extended .... To repudiate Christ is to embrace the ‘impossible’” (Hebrews, p. 142).
101 This term (α῞παξ) has the sense of definite occurrence (TDNT 1:382). The writer will now describe the event of salvation which the readers have experienced in terms of its different aspects and manifestations (Lane, Hebrews, p. 141).
102 This “taste” is to fully experience something (cf. 2:9).
103 This is an aorist participle (parapes*ntaY) indicating a decisive moment of commitment to apostasy. When this term is used in the LXX it describes an attitude “reflecting deliberate and calculated renunciation of God (Ezek 20:27; 22:4 ...” (Lane, Hebrews, p. 142). This is similar to the apostasy noted in 3:12 which Israel expressed at Kadesh.
104 Lane writes, “This could entail a return to Jewish convictions and practices as well as a public denial of faith in Christ under pressure from a magistrate or a hostile crowd, simply for personal advantage (cf. Mark 8:34-38; Herm. Sim. 8.8.2; 9.19.1) [Hebrews, p. 6].
105 Lane identifies this consequence as being part of the cursing sanctions of the covenant (Hebrews, p. 143). But one wonders where these are for those who are part of the New Covenant. The New Covenant only describes blessing for its partakers. The covenant which includes “cursing sanctions” is the Mosaic covenant and that is not applicable for those who have believed in Christ (6:4-5). Note that the words are “close to being cursed.” This is different than actually being cursed. The description here is one of severe consequences for their rebellion, but not eternal consequences (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5).
106 Again, this is another affirmation that he is speaking to those who are saved! Toussaint identifies this term with future salvation (GTJ 3 : 75), but this is not a necessary or natural conclusion in this passage.
Note also that he calls them “beloved” (ἀγαπητοί). This is a term reserved for the household of faith.
107 This is an exhortation to continue their diligent ministry because God will reward them for their work in the future.
108 Perhaps that specifics of this ministry may be found in 10:32-34.
109 Genesis 22:16.
110 Lane writes, “Abraham received the definitive confirmation of the divine promise after having been severely tested both in faith and endurance (v 15; cf. Gen 22:1, 15-18). The fulfillment of the promise he had received from God (Gen 12:2; 15:5) depended upon Isaac. The steadfast trust in God’s word of promise that he displayed when he was commanded to offer up his son is precisely the quality of commitment appropriate to those who are currently the heirs to the divine promise” (Hebrews, p. 151).
111 Lane writes, “the focus of the exposition shifts sharply from the patriarch to Christians, who are designated ..., ‘the heirs of the promise’ (cf. v 12). As those who have inherited the promises through Christ, they are to appreciate the relevance of the biblical account to them. What is recorded in Scripture is intended to strengthen them in their conviction that God’s purpose for them is also unalterable. The sworn assurance of God is extended to them ...” (Hebrews, p. 152).
112 This someone greater was YHWH (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). An oath is calling God to bear witness in a disputed matter (see Philo, On the Special Laws 2.10).
113 Genesis 22:16-17.
114 Although this is not specified in this passage, its most logical referent, textually, is the promise and the oath in Genesis 22:16-17.
115 It is most likely not the anchor which has entered behind the curtain, but hope. The antecedent to the participle is the relative pronoun ûn which is the complement of the immediately preceding word hope (ἐλπίδος, v. 18; see also the RSV and NASB which translate the passage in this way). See its later reference in 7:19 as “a new hope by which we draw near to God.”
116 This refers to the OT model where the inner curtain separated the sanctuary of God from the holy place in the tabernacle where the high priest could enter on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:2, 12, 15; cf. Ex. 26:31-35; Lev. 21:23; 24:3; Heb. 9:3). Now Jesus is the eternal high priest who has offered made his self-offering as a ground of Christian hope. He has opened for believers the true presence of God (cf. 10:19, 22).
117 The Abrahamic promise (6:13-16) was insured by the mediation of the real high priest like Melchizedek (6:17-20).
118 An inclusio establishes this section--”Melchizedek met Abraham” (7:1,10; cf. Gen. 14:17).
Hebrews 7:1-10 explains the comparison of Christ to Melchizedek: (1) His attributes are the same as Jesus--the Son of God: “King of righteousness” “King of peace,” “blesser of Abraham” (7:1-2). (2) His claim on the office of High priest is not on heredity (7:3). (3) Christ does what Melchizedek did--he blesses Israel (Abraham) 7:4-10.
119 The Melchizedek of Psalm 110:4 (Hebrews 6:20) is now identified through a discussion of Genesis 14:17-20. As Lane writes, “The exegesis presupposes that an antecedent revelation is the pledge of a future eschatological fulfillment. In 7:1-10 the revelation in Ps. 110:4 is understood to have confirmed the eschatological implications of Gen. 14:17-20 ....” He rightly adds, “In Hebrews Melchizedek is not a redeemer, and he performs no saving act. He is a historical figure who serves as a precedent for a priesthood not based on lineage or law. It is possible that the writer of Hebrews was aware of and stood critically against some of the traditions concerning Melchizedek, but is now impossible to specify which traditions the writer may have known. His development of Melchizedek is essentially independent from extrabiblical ideas. It is derived from Gen. 14:17-20, which has been approached typologically from the perspective of Ps 110:4” (Hebrews, 159, 162-63).
Concerning the typological nature of Melchizedek Baylis astutely writes, “as the covenant was reflected in Abraham’s life, so would it be in the future nation. Therefore as Melchizedek interacted with Abraham, he too represented a future One who would come. That future One would bless Israel `just like’ Melchizedek had blessed Abraham .... Genesis intended Melchizedek to represent an ultimate Melchizedek” (“The Author of Hebrews’ Use of Melchizedek from the Context of Genesis,” ThD dissertation [Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1989], 162-63).
120 Melchizedek “offers confirmation to Abraham that the covenant’s benefits ([Gen.]12:3a) have been reflected in the defeat of the enemies. He then turns and offers praise to God on behalf of Abraham for this covenantal deliverance. Abraham confirms Melchizedek’s superior status by offering him a tithe. Melchizedek is thus a priest who acts as a mediator between Abraham and God” (“The Author of Hebrews’ Use of Melchizedek from the Context of Genesis,” 161-62).
121 By examining the toledot motifs in Genesis one can see that Melchizedek did not have the correct matriarch or patriarch, was presented nowhere as having a part in the genealogical line of blessing, and actually was not reported to have been born or died. Thus he has no place in genealogical blessing. Hebrews 7:3 is not affirming that Melchizedek had no lineage, but that lineage was not the basis of his priesthood. He was not related to the national genealogical requirements for priesthood.
The mediatory role of Melchizedek is supported by the “bridge” motif in Genesis which began with Babel (Gen. 11) where man tried to bridge the gap between the “gods” and their nation with the man made tower. Continuing in this thought Baylis writes, “Following its failure, God provided a nation in Abraham instead of Babel [Gen. 12:2], and a chosen mediator between heaven and earth instead of a tower. god reconfirmed the national promise and the God-made `bridge’ to Jacob in `Jacob’s ladder’” (“The Author of Hebrews’ Use of Melchizedek form the Context of Genesis,” 162).
In view of the above comparison Jesus becomes both parts of the channel of blessing--national and mediatory. He is Israel from Abraham (Matthew 1--4) and He is Melchizedek (Hebrews 7). In addition Jesus is confirmed to be the One who mediates between God and man as the true Bethel (Jn. 1:51; cf. Gen. 28:10-22). Jesus is the God-Man--the mediator between God and Man!
Lane writes, “Melchizedek’s sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance from recorded history evoked the notion of eternity, which was only prefigured in Melchizedek but was realized in Christ. Consequently, Melchizedek foreshadows the priesthood of Christ at that point where it is most fundamentally different from the Levitical priesthood ...” (Hebrews, p. 166).
122 “He abides a priest perpetually” speaks of Melchizedek’s influence through his successor Jesus just as Abel still speaks concerning his faith (11:4) and Abraham still lives in his seed (6:14) [Baylis, “The Author of Hebrews’ Use of Melchizedek from the Context of Genesis,” 173, 176-86).
123 Lane writes, “By using the term ‘patriarch,’ the writer prepares for the conclusion of vv 9-10 that Levi paid a tithe to Melchizedek through his father (πατήρ), Abraham ...” (Hebrews, 168).
124 Lane writes, “So far as the record of Scripture is concerned, Melchizedek has no end of life and his unique priesthood has no successor. But what is true of Melchizedek in a limited and literary sense is true absolutely of the one who serves his people as high priest in the presence of God ...” (Hebrews, p. 170).
125 Lane writes, “the statement that Levi had himself paid the tithe was true in an important sense, indicated by the expression δι ᾿ ᾿Αβραάμ , ‘through Abraham,’ which immediately follows. The corporate solidarity that bound Israel to the patriarch implied that Levi was fully represented in Abraham’s action. Therefore, Levi’s status relative to Melchizedek was affected by Abraham’s relationship to that personage. Consequently, the superiority of Melchizedek over the Levitical priesthood is not merely theoretical but has a basis in history ...” (Hebrews, p. 170).
126 Lane understands this unit to be built about typological exegesis where the priesthood of Aaron is typical of Jesus’ priesthood which fulfills all that Aaron’s priesthood could not do (Hebrews, 177).
127 The change of law in this unit is not referring to all of the Mosaic Law but to that code of the Law which referred to code: legal descent, standards of bodily qualification and ritual purity (cf. 7:14, 26; Lane, Hebrews, 182-5).
128 Lane writes, “although Jesus’ human life had been exposed to κατάλυσις, ‘destruction,’ through crucifixion, his life was not destroyed by the death suffered on the cross. The phrase δύναμιν ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου describes the new quality of life with which Jesus was endowed by virtue of his resurrection and exaltation to the heavenly world, where he was formally installed in his office as high priest ...” (Hebrews, 184).
129 Lane writes, “Through this ‘better hope’ the new people of God have secured the assurance of a quality of access to and a relationship with God that were not possible under the Levitical institution” (Hebrews, 186).
130 Lane writes, “The christological significance of Melchizedek, however, is limited because in the biblical account he has nothing to do with sacrifice. For that reason, in 7:26-28 the writer builds a bridge to the subsequent exposition in that reason, in 7:26-28 the writer builds a bridge to the subsequent exposition in 8:1-10:18, where the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ office as high priest is elaborated” (Hebrews, 2:257).
131 This unit is an introduction, or transition, to the exposition that follows in Hebrews 9.
132 Lane writes, “The writer’s statement in 8:1-2 is the summit of his case. The `crowning affirmation’ is not simply that Christians have a high priest who has taken his seat at God’s right hand (v 1) but that he is the ministering priest in the heavenly sanctuary (v 2)” (Hebrews, p. 204).
133 Literally, “taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty ....” This recalls 1:3 and the writer’s use of Psalm 110:1. This may also be an allusion to Zechariah 6:13 (LXX) where the one who is seated at God’s right hand is the anointed priest, “And he shall receive power, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a priest on his right [καὶε῎σται ἰερεὺς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ] hand, and a peaceable counsel shall be between them both.”
134 Although he does not state it here, the writer has in mind Christ’s presentation of Himself as a sin offering (cf. 7:27; 9:14).
135 The writer is not saying that the earthly sanctuary was not real, or was false, but that it was a symbol, and was imperfect. Lane writes that, “the contrast between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary is not an expression of Alexandrian metaphysics, but the writer’s way of presenting the typological relation between the old and new covenants; the heavenly liturgy is the eschatological reality that the OT institutions only foreshadowed, and the relationship between the two sanctuaries is basically a temporal one ...” (Hebrews, p. 206).
136 Some believe that there is a true spiritual heavenly tabernacle in which Christ entered and sprinkled his blood (Heb. 8:2,5; 9:11, 23, 24). Philo felt that this was in agreement with Plato. But this is not a reflection of the Platonic idea that the immaterial is the real realm and this is not earthy. In Hebrews 9:5 it talks of the mercy seat (ἱλαστήριον) and the only other occurrence of this term is in Romans 3:25 where it speaks of Christ as our propitiation. In Hebrews it is not so much that act of propitiation but the place of propitiation. Therefore in Romans 3:25 the heavenly, holy-place would have been Calvary! It was probable that the “tabernacle” was a blueprint and not a model. If Christ has to take His blood into a heavenly temple, then it was not “finished” on the cross. The mercy seat of the Spiritual reality was Calvary (John A. Witmer, class notes of student in 444 History of Philosophy, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1983).
137 See Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30; 27:8; Numbers 8:4.
138 These verses are based upon Jeremiah 31:31-34.
139 This first covenant which is passing away has the cultic regulations in view. This can be especially seen in the next unit where the first covenant is developed.
140 These two topics will now be discussed in inverse order.
141 This Menorah (λυχνία) was placed on the south side of The Holy Place (Ex. 26:35; cf. 25:31-39; 27:20-21).
142 This stood at the north side of the front compartment (Ex. 25:23-30; 26:35; Lev. 24:6).
143 Although the golden alter of incense may well have been placed just before the second curtain at the rear of the front chamber (cf. Ex. 30:1-10). Some, such as Pentecost, understand this alter to be in the Most Holy Place between the veil and the mercy seat as it is placed in this verse (cf. Ex. 30:6; 40:26; 1 Ki. 6:20-22; Lev. 16:8; For another view see Lane, Hebrews, 2:220). In any case this is the place where Gabriel and Zechariah met in Luke 1:8-11.
144 Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-5.
145 The manna and Aaron’s rod are thought to be before the Ark in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the stone tablets are thought to be the only thing within the Ark, but the writer of Hebrews seems to know otherwise (Exodus 16:32-34; 25:16, 21; Deuteronomy 10:1-2;cf. 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chron. 5:10; Numbers 17:10-11).
146 Exodus 25:17-22 (cf. Lev. 16:14-15); 37:7-9; Numbers 7:89.
147 This summarizing statement transitions the reader into the next topic in 6-10. Lane writes, “In verses 2-5 his attention is attracted by the division of the Mosaic tabernacle into two compartments, which is simply accentuated by the enumeration of the furnishings” (Hebrews, 221).
148 These responsibilities included: trimming of the lamps of the Menorah (Ex. 27:20-21), burning of incense on the golden altar (Ex. 30:7-8) in the morning and evening of each day, and replacing the fresh ‘loaves’ of the unleavened, consecrated bread on the table once each week (Lev. 24:8-9).
149 This is a reference to the day of atonement (Lev. 16).
150 Lane writes, “The ritual of the red heifer aptly illustrates the external nature of the cultic provisions of the old covenant. It also demonstrates that a state of defilement is a hindrance to worship (Num 19:13, 20). By grouping ‘the blood of goats and bulls’ and ‘the sprinkled ashes of a heifer,’ the writer implies that all the sacrifices of the old covenant were to provide merely an external and symbolic removal of defilement. They sanctify ..., ‘to the extent of the purging of the flesh’” (Hebrews, 2:239).
151 The blood is a synonym for the death of Christ in its sacrificial significance.
152 Lane appropriately says, “‘Conscience’... is the human organ of the religious life embracing the whole person in relationship to God .... It is the point at which a person confronts God’s holiness” (Hebrews, 2:240).
153 As the Suffering Servant Jesus was qualified for his task by the Spirit of God (cf. Isa. 42:1; 61:1).
154 This includes eternal salvation (cf. 1:14; 3:1; 5:9; 10:36).
155 Lane notes well that for a covenant to be ratified the death of the ratifer needed to be represented symbolically when he writes, “In the OT, ratification of a covenant based on sacrifice frequently entailed a self-maledictory procedure. The ratifying party invoked a curse upon himself when he swore commitment to comply with the terms of the covenant. In the transaction the ratifying party was represented by animals designated for sacrifice. The bloody dismemberment of representative animals signified the violent death of the ratifying party if he proved faithless to his oath (e.g., Gen 15:9-21; Exod 24: 3-8; Ps 50:5; Jer 34:17-20 ...)” (Hebrews, 2:242-43).
Continuing he writes, “The writer’s choice of the term φέρεσθαι, ‘to be introduced,’ ‘to be brought forward’ ... was probably influenced by the cultic use of φέρειν in the LXX, where it is associated with the representative act of offering a sacrifice. The offer is represented in and by the sacrifice he brings.... In terms of OT covenant procedure, the death of sacrificial animals was brought forward on behalf of the one ratifying the covenant ...” (Ibid).
156 “The formulation accurately reflects the legal situation that a covenant is never secured until the ratifier has bound himself to his oath by means of a representative death ...” (Ibid.).
157 Exodus 24:3-8.
158 Lane writes, “That the effects of sin also extend to the heavenly world is a corollary of the solidarity that the writer perceives between ultimate reality in heaven and its reflection on earth. The cultus on earth is inseparably linked to the situation in heaven (cf. 8:5; 9:7, 11-12, 23; 12:18-24). As defilement reaches beyond the individual to taint society and the earthly cultus, it also pollutes heavenly reality” (Hebrews, 2:247; cf. Lev. 21:15 with Heb. 12:15-16; Lev. 16:16; 20:3; 21:23; Num. 19:20, 21).
159 See Isaiah 53:12.
160 The image behind this statement is again the day of atonement where the people waited anxiously outside the sanctuary until the high priest emerged from the Most Holy Place after he had fulfilled his ministry (Lev. 16:17).
161 This is not to say that the Law was not real as in Platonic idealism, but that it pointed forward to that which was perfect or complete--a past witness to a future reality.
162 Lane writes, “As long as this sense of sin and transgression with respect to God remained, there could be no effective service of God. A decisive cleansing of the conscience is a prerequisite of unhindered access to God (10:22), and this has been achieved only through the sacrifice of Christ ...” (Hebrews, 2:261).
163 “The Day of Atonement was designated as a day for fasting (Lev 23:26-32) and the confession of sins (Lev 16:20-22). The elaborate ritual was intended to accentuate a consciousness of sins. The solemn entrance of the high priest into the Most Holy Place dramatized the fact that sin separates the congregation from God. From this perspective, the sacrifices really provided ἀνάμνησις ἀμαρτιῶν, ‘a reminder of sins,’ which brought to the consciousness of the worshipers the reality of their sins as an obstacle to fellowship with God” (Ibid.).
164 Lane writes, “The writer [of Hebrews] understands the cited passage as a word addressed by the Son to the Father on the occasion of the incarnation,...” (Ibid., 2:263).
165 Jesus’ bodily sacrifice was the “will” of God “I have come ... to do Your will, O God.”
166 Jesus is contrasted to the Levitical priests who “stands” in verse 11. Lane writes, “Jesus sits because his sacrifice requires no repetition. His heavenly session attests that the benefits of his sacrificial death endure perpetually. The sacrificial phase of his priestly ministry is completed” (Hebrews, 2:267).
167 Psalm 110 cf. Hebrews 8:1-2. “The session at the right hand puts Christ in a position where he may provide assistance to his people without having to offer sacrifices. The allusion to Ps 110:1 in vv 12-13 insists on the established firmness of his position. For the future he has only to wait for the complete subjugation of every power that resists the gracious redemptive purposes of God. Jesus’ place in the presence of God enables him to exercise in heaven the ministry of the new covenant” (Hebrews, 2:267).
168 The present tense for testifies, Μαρτυρεῖ, indicates that through the quotation of the prophetic oracle the Holy Spirit is presently speaking.
169 In light of the preceding argument, the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s oracle is tied directly to the new situation introduced by the sacrificial death of Jesus” (Lane, Hebrews, 2:269).
170 “The basis for speaking about a decisive putting away of sins is the efficacy of the sacrifice offered by Christ on the cross ...” (Hebrews, 2:269).
171 Lane writes, “The shift in literary genre from exposition to exhortation that occurs in 10:19-25 takes account of the perspectives developed in 8:1-10:18 and clarifies their relevance for the faith and life of the community addressed” (Hebrews, 2:257).
172 This unit is marked off in a kind of inclusio through the term παρρησίαν (“authorization”/ “boldness”) 10:19,35. The structure of this warning section is very similar to 5:11--6:20--Exhortation/Warning/Encouragement. Lane considers this to be the “climactic parenetic section of the sermon” (Hebrews, 2:280, 282).
173 Since this is a recapitulation of 3:1-6 and in 3:6a this household is identified as the church, then the reference in 10:21 is to the Church and more specifically, to the community addressed. In view of this Lane writes, “This statement enriches the conception of the relationship Christ sustains to his people and assures them that their worshipful approach to God will be welcomed ...” (Hebrews, 2:285).
174 Lane notes, “the exhortation is organized around three chortatives: ‘let us continue to draw near’ (v 22), ‘let us continue to hold fast’ (v 23), and ‘let us keep on caring’ (v 24). Each of these verbs is qualified by reference to the triad of Christian virtues: ‘fullness of faith’ (v 22), ‘the hope we profess’ (v 23), and ‘the stimulation of love’ (v 24)” (Hebrews, 2:281-82).
175 See Hebrews 4:16.
176 This phrase invokes the imagery of Jeremiah 31:33 where Jeremiah envisioned a new heart.
177 This imagery was anticipated in 9:18-22 where Moses sprinkled the people with blood. This sprinkling is to be associated with Jesus’ inauguration of the new covenant through his sacrificial death. Likewise, the external washing of the bodies probably has reference to Christian baptism which replaces all previous cleansing rites (see Lane, Hebrews, 2:287).
178 Lane astutely writes, “The entire community must assume responsibility to watch that no one grows weary or becomes apostate. This is possible only when Christians continue to exercise care for one another personally ...” (Hebrews, 2:290).
179 This paragraph is limited by the key terms φοβερά, φοβερόν in verses 27 and 31. It is also very similar to the warning in 6:4-8 with the following four elements: (1) the experience of Christian life [6:4-5/10:26], (2) the fact of apostasy [6:6/10:29], (3) the recognition that renewal is impossible [6:4, 6/10:26], and (4) the imposition of the curse sanctions of the covenant [6:8/10:27]. Therefore, these are complementary declarations with the difference being in the formation of the argument. Central to this unit is the cultus mentioned above in 9:11--10:18. There is no cultus in 6:4-8 (Lane, Hebrews, 2:296-297).
Continuing Lane writes, “That the writer appeals in 10:26-31 to the new cultic action of Christ indicates that these verses provide the counterpoint to 10:19-22. The earlier passage sets forth the appropriate response to the sacrifice of Christ and his entrance as high priest into the heavenly sanctuary. The provision of access to God invites sincere and earnest worship. In the present passage the inappropriate response of those who fail to appreciate their continuing need for Christ’s redemptive action commands the writer’s attention” (Hebrews, 2:291-292).
180 See verse 29 below for a definition of this persistence. This probably also has significance in view of Numbers 15:29-31 which speaks against sins of presumption.
181 Lane writes, “This follows because the only sacrifice that can remove defilement has been repudiated, and the sufficient sacrifice of Christ cannot be repeated (10:10, 12, 14)” (Hebrews, 2:293). Therefore, this does not mean that their sins are not covered, but that there is nowhere else to go to have them covered than to Christ.
182 The apostate is regarded as an adversary of God. This judgment through consuming fire recalls the what occurred to the followers of Korah (Num. 16:35; 26:10).
183 See Hebrews 2:2-3 where this logic was first expressed.
184 Deuteronomy 17:6; cf.13:8.
185 Lane writes, “The designation of Jesus as ‘the Son of God’ almost certainly has reference to the formal confession of faith which the community had openly acknowledged .... The repudiation of the confession is tantamount to a scornful rejection of the Son of God. The paradoxical notion of treating with disdain one who possesses transcendent dignity commands attention” (Hebrews, 2:294). This trampling is to treat Christ as unnecessary or useless (cf. Matt. 5:13; 7:6).
186 Lane writes, “The phrase in v 29 corroborates that 10:26-31 is descriptive of the Christian who has experienced the action of Christ upon his life. With biting irony, the writer envisions such a person as regarding Christ’s blood as ... (‘defiled,’ ‘disqualified for sacrifice’). The juxtaposition of considering defiled blood which consecrates is rhetorically forceful. A deliberate rejection of the vital power of the blood of Christ to purge sins decisively is indicated ...” (Hebrews, 2:294).
187 This may have reference to Hebrews 9:14 or the Spirit who was poured out at Pentecost (cf. Zech. 12:10 LXX; Acts 2; Heb. 2:4; 6:4).
No doubt these three actions together add up to no less than a complete rejection of the Christian faith. Lane writes, “Apostate are those who embrace the worldliness in preference to the community. They have chosen to return to the world from which they had been separated by the blood of Christ. In their lives the sacred has been collapsed into the profane. Their denial of their need for the life of the community reflects a willful hardening of their hearts (cf. 3:12-15). Apostasy reaffirms the values of the world, which permit those who stand outside the community to regard Jesus Christ with contempt (cf. 6:6). Consequently, those who once were cleansed and consecrated to God become reinfected with a permanent defilement that cannot be purged.... They experience an absolute loss, which is deserved ...” (Hebrews, 2:295).
188 This severer punishment need not be “eternal loss in hell” as Toussaint affirms (GTJ 3:77).
As a description of this severer punishment Sartarelli writes, “It cannot be considered as hell for these readers are ‘sanctified’ and ‘made perfect forever [10:10, 14].’ Rather, the imagery of judgment and fire sounds much like the believer’s discipline mentioned in chapter 6. However, that this judgment is worse than that which was given for high-handed sinning in the Old Covenant means that it must include at least death (for that was the judgment in the Old Covenant). That believers can suffer such judgment from God is a clear New Testament teaching (cf. 1 Cor. 11:30; Jas. 5:20; 1 Jn. 5:16-17). This judgment may also include subjection to the judgment on Jerusalem which was soon coming (cf. v. 25 ‘you see the day drawing near’). Thus, in abandoning Christianity and reverting back to Judaism they would become subject to the judgment that would fall on that nation (i.e., A.D. 70). Finally, this judgment may also include some loss of rewards as the author writes in verse 35 “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (“Theology and Purpose of Warning Passages in Hebrews,” 13-14).
Concerning this severe punishment Hodges writes, “Many forms of divine retribution can fall on a human life which are worse than immediate death. In fact, Jeremiah made just such a complaint about the punishment inflicted on Jerusalem (Lam. 4:6, 9). One might thing also of King Saul, whose last days were burdened with such mental and emotional turmoil that death itself was a kind of release” (BKC, NT, 806).
189 See Deuteronomy 32:35a, 36a; Psalm 135:14a.
190 Lane writes, “The remembrance of past performance provides a powerful incentive for renewed commitment and fidelity in the present and for the future” (Hebrews, 2:282).
These four verse are in what some call a “persecution-form” which includes a pronouncement of a blessing, a situation of persecution, a call to rejoice, and the reason to rejoice in the promise of reward (cf. Matt. 5:11-12; Luke 6:22-23; 1 Pet. 4:13-17) (cf. Lane, Hebrews, 2:281, 96-97).
191 See 6:4.
192 The term is α῎θλησις describing intense athletic efforts (cf. 12:1-2). Lane writes, “For them, as for the writer of Hebrews, the image of the contest was an acceptable way of giving a positive interpretation of an experience of abuse ...” (Hebrews, 2:298).
193 This is the confident attitude of the person of faith before God and the world. Because of his relationship with God he can acknowledge his faith before the world (cf. also Heb. 3:6).
194 Lane notes the transitional nature of this unit when he states, “The final paragraph (vv 36-39) concludes the exhortation by introducing the key terms to be developed in the next major division of the sermon, ‘endurance’ (v 36) and ‘faith’ (v 39).
195 See Hebrews 9:15
196 Lane notes the following concerning this allusion to Isaiah 26:20: “If the brief excerpt from Isa 26:20 LXX is intended to recall the entire verse, it may indicate that there were Christians in the house church who sought to justify a lifestyle characterized by withdrawal and concealment on the basis of this text. The writer cites enough of the verse to show that he is aware of their position but refuses to accept its validity. The mode of endurance they championed was incompatible with the courageous and joyful endurance of adversity celebrated in vv 32-36 ...” (Hebrews, 2:304).
197 This reference to Habakkuk 2:3b-4 is the writers answer to the reclusive view of those who followed Isaiah 26:20.
198 Chapter 11 draws continuity between the Old and New covenants by citing those of the Old Covenant who demonstrated faith just as those of the New Covenant are to demonstrate faith. One should only emulate their faith, not their limitations.
Lane writes, “In 11:1 the writer turns from exhortation to exposition, signaling a distinct break with the preceding discussion. A smooth transition to this new unit of thought is achieved by the introduction of the motif of faithfulness in 10:38-39. The key word is πίστις, ‘faithfulness,’ supplied by the citation from Hab 2:4, furnishes a linking term to the characterization of the correlative word πίστις, ‘faith,’ in 11:1. The word then becomes the characteristic term of the first section, where it is repeated with variation twenty-four times. The opening and close of the section are indicated by an inclusio, which serves to bracket the exposition:” [11:1-2/39] (Hebrews, 2:313).
“The faith celebrated in 11:1-40 is characterized by firmness, reliability, and steadfastness. It is trust in God and in his promises (cf. 4:1-3; 6:1; 11:6, 17-19, 29). The context shows that what these attested witnesses affirm is the reliability of God, who is faithful to his promise (11:11)” (Ibid., 2:315).
199 More than a definition of faith, this is a recommendation of faith which results in life (cf. 10:39).
200 Lane writes, “The logical connection of this assertion is not with the acts of faith of the attested witnesses but with v 1, for it is a statement about faith itself. The discernment of the unseen creative activity of God behind the visible universe exemplifies the capacity of faith to demonstrate the reality of that which cannot be perceived through sense perception, which is celebrated as the essence of faith in v 1b ...” (Hebrews, 2:330).
201 This understanding comes through the written word of God.
202 Genesis 1:1, 3-21.
203 “In vv 3-31 the development is distinguished by anaphora, the rhetorical repetition of a key word or words at the beginning of successive clauses to give unity, rhythm, and solemnity to a discourse (BDF §491 ...) (Lane, Hebrews, 2:320).
204 This unit is marked off with an inclusio through the term “seen” (βλεπομένων) and a negative qualifier in verses 1 and 7 (“not seen”/ “unseen”).
205 Lane writes, “The exemplars of faith to whom reference is made in the pages of the OT ‘enjoyed the approving testimony of Scripture, and consequently of God himself, who speak by His Spirit through the written word’ ...” (Hebrews, 2:330).
206 Genesis 4:3-5.
207 Note that the writer does not affirm that Abel’s blood continues to speak to us (cf. Gen. 4:10), but that his faith is still speaking. Lane writes, “The writer affirms that Abel’s faith continues to speak to us through the written record of his action in Scripture, which transmits to us the exemplary character of his offering ...” (Hebrews, 2:335).
208 Genesis 5:21-24.
209 The LXX speaks of pleasing God rather than walking with God.
210 This is a confessional statement found in Judaism. One must believe in the basic confession of the faith.
211 This is also an expression of faith. It is unwavering hope in the promises of the God who controls the future.
212 Genesis 6.
213 This is a play off of 11:1 (τῶν μηδέπω βλεπομένων).
214 Genesis 6:1-7; see 2 Peter 2:5.
215 Genesis 6:9; Ezekiel 14:14, 20.
216 The term “heir” (κληρονόμος) ties this paragraph with the one which preceded it (cf. 11:7, 8, 9).
217 Lane writes, “11:8-19 is not merely a summary of Abraham’s life, character, and faith. It is also a succinct history of the promise of God considered in terms of Abraham’s call and migration to Canaan (11:8-10), the conception of Isaac (11:11-12), the deferment of the fulfillment of the promise (11:13-16), and the command to sacrifice Isaac (11:17-19)” (Hebrews, 2:319).
218 This describes a city firmly founded, unlike the land of Abraham’s tents. It is to be unshakable and abiding.
219 Genesis 15:1-6; 17:15-22; 18:9-15.
220 Lane notes well, “In spite of initial incredulity, in which they both shared (Gen 17:17; 18:10-12), both achieved the ability to believe that parenthood was possible” (Hebrews, 2:353).
221 Genesis 15:5; 22:17; 32:12.
222 Genesis 18:11-12; Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:12.
223 These comments separate verses 11-12 and 17-19 which are similar in style and theme. Lane writes, “The writer placed at the center of the paragraph his most important affirmations, in order to emphasize the eschatological perspective from which the entire unit (vv 8-22) is to be understood” (Hebrews, p. 255).
224 When Abraham received Isaac from the altar of sacrifice there was a foreshadowing of the future resurrection from the dead ...”(Lane, Hebrews, 2:363).
225 Genesis 27.
226 Genesis 48.
227 Jacob is described as submitting to God’s will. It took a long time for him to get to this point (cf. Gen. 25ff).
228 Genesis 50:24-25; Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32. “Joseph’s concern for burial in the land of Canaan expressed a desire informed by faith to be associated with those who through faith became the heirs of the promises (cf. 6:12)” (Lane, Hebrews, 2:366).
229 The mention of the anticipated departure of the Israelites from Egypt in v 22 prepares literarily for the third paragraph concerning Moses and the events he set in motion with the exodus from Egypt (vv 23-31) (Lane, Hebrews, 2:321).
230 Lane writes, “The catalogue of exemplary witnesses to faith turns suddenly fro the early phase of Moses’ career to the final act in the dramatic sequence of events that were the prelude to the Exodus. Although Moses remains the subject of the main verb (‘by faith he celebrated the Passover’), there is a subtle transition in v 28 from exemplary persons to exemplary events, and this shift in emphasis is reflected in vv 29-30 as well as in the enumeration of the accomplishments of faith in vv 33-38” (Hebrews, 2:376).
231 Lane notes, “The writer had earlier referred to the faithlessness of the wilderness generation in 3:16-19. It is not surprising that in a catalogue of exemplary persons and events he passes over in silence the forty-year period during which those who had experienced the celebration of the Passover, the exodus from Egypt, and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea wandered aimlessly in the wilderness. Not until the entrance into Canaan can a recital of the acts of faith be resumed” (Hebrews, 2:378).
232 Joshua 2:1.
233 Through this rhetorical question the writer transitions from one version of the exemplary list to the next version of an enumeration of names in rapid succession followed by an abstract of the accomplishments of faith that extend the historical survey into the Maccabean period.
234 Lane notes, “This is a common homiletical and literary idiom for indicating that time and space are limited ...” (Hebrews, 2:382).
235 By answering in this way the writer is noting that he is going to abbreviate the matter under discussion.
236 Note that these names are not given in chronological order. Perhaps this list of judges comes from 1 Samuel 12:11 (LXX).
237 Judges 6--8.
238 Judges 4--5.
239 Judges 12--16.
240 Judges 11--12.
241 1 Samuel 16--2 Samuel 24.
242 1 Samuel 1--15.
243 Perhaps the writer has Gideon (Judges 6:12-16; 7:7), Barak (Judges 4:6-7, 14), Samson (Judges 13:5), and David (2 Samuel 7:11) as those who obtained specific blessings that had been promised by God.
244 Perhaps this refers to Samson (Judges 14:5-6), David (1 Samuel 17:34-37) and/or Daniel (Dan. 6:23-24).
245 Perhaps Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (Dan. 3:19-28, 49-50).
246 David (1 Sam. 17:45-47; cf. Ps. 144:10), Elijah from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3), Elisha from Jehoram (2 Kings 6:26-32), Jeremiah from Johoiakim (Jer. 26:7-24).
247 See 1 Sam. 2:4 (LXX); Perhaps Samson is in view (Judges 16:17-21, 25-30; cf. Judges 15:19).
248 This was true of Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David and even Samuel (cf. 1 Sam. 7:5-14) and others.
249 Widow at Zarephath of Sidon (1 Ki. 17:71-24), the Shunemite woman (2 Ki. 4:18-37). Lane writes, “In the latter case, the mother’s haste in going to Elisha on Mount Carmel despite her own deep distress, and her quiet response to inquiry, ‘Everything is all right’ (2 Kgs 4:22-26), were expressions of her own firm faith that she would indeed receive her son from the dead ‘by resurrection’” (Hebrews, 2:388).
250 For these people deliverance only came through suffering and martyrdom. Lane offers some helpful descriptions of the kinds of events which occurred after the close of the Hebrew canon (Hebrews, 2:388-90).
251 2 Chronicles 24:20-21; Matthew 23:27; Luke 13:34.
252 Lane writes, “The summarizing statement in vv 39-40 serves to conclude the paragraph and the section as a whole. The new feature in these verses is the focus upon the relevance of the recital for the Christian community in v 40. There the writer speaks of God’s provision for something better ‘with us in mind’ (περὶ ἡμῶν), namely, that these attested exemplars should not reach perfection ‘without us’ (χωρὶς ἡμῶν). The introduction of the plural pronouns in the first person provides a point of transition to the following section, which calls attention to the necessary endurance that must characterize the Christian community in its own struggle with hostility and adversity ...” (Hebrews, 2:322).
253 The realization of particular promises (11:11, 33) is not the same of definitive fulfillment of the promise. They did not receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (cf. 9:15).
254 The purging of sin with the consequence that believers are consecrated to the service of God (cf. 10:14; cf. 9:9; 10:1). This is the ultimate realization of salvation--the entrance into the promised inheritance.
255 This unit is set off by a shift in genre from historical recital to pastoral exhortation. This theme of endurance, ὑπομονή, was introduced in 10:36.
256 The imagery which is being used is that of an athletic contest in a stadium or arena. The witnesses are the men and women in chapter 11 who have received acknowledgment from God because of their constancy of faith (11:2, 4, 5, 39). They are unified, like a cloud, in their witness to the integrity of faith. Lane writes, “The emphasis in v 1 ... falls on what Christians see in the host of witnesses rather than on what they see in Christians” (Hebrews, 2:408).
257 This too comes out of the metaphor of a race where those who would participate would strip their clothing before running so that nothing could impede them during the race.
258 See Hebrews 2:10.
259 Paul now moves from the running metaphor to a boxing one involving bloodshed and even death (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24, 26).
260 Lane writes, “The expression is drawn from the games, in which the most dangerous contest was the armed boxing match. Boxing was the supreme test of the pentathalon, and bloody wounds were commonplace.... According to the writer’s contemporary, the stoic philosopher Seneca, the true athlete was the man who ‘saw his own blood’ .... IN the immediate context the allusion is to the violent death of Jesus who endured crucifixion .... Jesus had to suffer more degrading shame and deeper hostility than anything yet experienced by the congregation. On this understanding the writer’s intention is to say that the community had not yet given the fullest measure in their struggle against sin” (Hebrews, 2:418). This may well have its reality in the realm of persecution. Perhaps the “sin” to be overcome is an enemy and that is why it is personified.
261 Lane writes, “The designation of God as ὁ πατὴρ πνευμάτων, ‘the Father of spirits,’ reflects the influence of the Septuagint, where the notion of transcendence is integral to the expression (Num 16:22; 27:16; LXX: ‘the Father of spirits and of all flesh’; cf 2 Macc 3:24: ‘Sovereign of spirits and all authority’). The divine title is to be interpreted in terms of the two-sphere thinking characteristic of Hebrews. ‘The Father of spirits’ is the transcendent God to whom the heavenly world is also subject .... As the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, God’s right to discipline us and to demand our devotion proceeds from the highest authority” (Hebrews, 2:424).
262 The writer again moves into the athletic metaphor urging his readers to follow divine wisdom (Proverbs 4:26, LXX) for their direction.
263 Lane notes that in the absence of clear literary indices, the limits of this section must be determined thematically with the shift from the response of the community as it experiences suffering to the peril of rejecting the God who continues to speak in to the church through his Son and through the Scriptures (Hebrews, 2:445).
264 Lane writes, “In this context ‘peace’ is an objective reality that results from the redemptive accomplishment of Christ in his sacrificial death on the cross. It is a gift of eschatological salvation as well as a sign that points to the presence of the new age and to the future perfection.... Peace denotes the objective reality of the community. It also is exhibited in the solidarity of responsibility for the welfare of one another (cf Rom 14:9; 1 Pet 3:11 in the context of 3:8-12 for similar emphasis)” (Hebrews, 2:449).
265 See Deuteronomy 29:17. This image is of a root that grows up and produces poisonous fruit. The stubborn disposition displays itself in unbelief and apostasy--arrogant unbelief (cf. Heb. 3:7-19).
266 See Genesis 25; 27.
267 This is done through contrasting Israel’s encounter with God at Sinai and the new covenant encounter that takes place at Zion, the city of the living God (Lane, Hebrews, 2:449).
268 See Hebrews 2:1-4.
269 Toussaint writers, “The writer is looking back to Mount Sinai where God spoke to Israel through Moses. The voice came from Mount Sinai, so it was ‘on earth’ as v 25 states” (“The Eschatology of the Warning Passages in the Book of Hebrews” GTJ 3(1982):79).
As Toussaint describes this ‘judgment’ he relates it correctly to the wilderness generation writing, “It could be the judgment of death fro flagrant disregard of the law or it may be the failure to enter the promised land. Probably it is the latter alternative since the entire generation failed in this regard” (Ibid.). If this is so, than the judgment is not one of retribution, but of discipline (unless one is willing to say that the entire generation which died in the wilderness was not redeemed (Ex. 12)!
270 Exodus 19:18; cf. Judges 5:4-5; Psalm 68:8; 77:18.
271 Haggai 2:6. No doubt, this will occur after the millennium as described in Revelation 21. Nevertheless, the term in verse 27 (“being shaken,” τῶν σαλευομένων) is present tense viewing the final shaking as already started and in process. This again may be a reference to the immanent judgment of Jerusalem. Toussaint argues correctly that this is not descriptive of the judgment seat of Christ (GTJ 3 (1982):80), but that does not mean it could not be descriptive of a disciplinary aspect.
272 Deuteronomy 4:24; cf. 9:3. This imagery is meant to recall the severity of the judgment the apostate can anticipate. Deuteronomy 4:24 provides a fitting conclusion for Hebrews in light of the larger context of Deuteronomy, since the people are on the verge of entering the promised land [Deuteronomy 4:21] and are at the end of their pilgrimage (Lane, Hebrews, 2:487-88). Anything short of reverence before God by a believer will incur God’s discipline. Therefore, the purpose of this final warning is to admonish the readers to heed reverently to God’s revelation lest they invoke God’s consuming discipline upon themselves.
273 For a discussion concerning the integrity of the book of Hebrews and chapter 13 see Lane who notes that those who argue against integrity argue that chapter 13 begins too abruptly, has no parallel from with chapters 1--12, and is without continuity in content. Nevertheless, the integrity can be affirmed with confidence in light of the evident links between this material and the preceding chapters both in content and thrust, the vocabulary, lines of argumentation, sustained appeal to texts from the Pentateuch and the Psalms, recurrence of key concepts, the structure of the chapter, and literary style of the writer (Hebrews, 2:495-97).
The transition into chapter 13 occurs in 12:28-29 where they writer urges his readers to “show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” As Lane writes, “What this entails demands the specification that is provided in 13:1-21” (Hebrews, 2:496; cf. Hebrews 13:15-16, 21).
274 Hebrews 13:1-6 is a summons to the anxious members of the church to assume their place within the ranks of the confessing community. They are to affirm their trust in God’s pledge to be constantly present out of His covenant loyalty.
275 This allusion almost certainly refers to the three visitors Abraham and Sarah showed hospitality to in Genesis 18:1-21. Lane writes, “It throws into bold relief the element of surprise that is sometimes stressed in the biblical accounts, when mysterious strangers become guests, revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them.... The emphasis in Hebrews was calculated to stir within the community a disposition to welcome strangers in the expectation that they will be bearers of God’s abundance” (Hebrews, 2:513).
276 The passages which are alluded to are Moses’ exhortation to Israel as they are about to enter the land in Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 (cf. Genesis 28:15) and Psalm 117:6 (LXX) [118:6 English].
277 The word for spoke is in the aorist tense (ἐλάλησαν) giving the sense that the former leaders are now deceased. Their preaching belongs to the community’s past.
278 Lane writes, “Accordingly, v 8 is not to be interpreted as an acclamation of Jesus’ timeless ontological immutability, corresponding to the assertion that the Son remains ὁ αὐτός, ‘the same,’ in 1:10-12 .... This reference is rather to the immutability of the gospel message proclaimed by the deceased leaders in the recent past .... Although the preachers change, the preaching must remain the same. The unchangeableness of the revelation is a consequence of the transcendent dignity of Jesus Christ, the originator of the preaching (2:3) ...” (Hebrews, 2:528). Jesus is declared to remain the object of faith for the assembly now (‘today’) as he was formerly (‘yesterday’) and will be forever (‘unto the ages’).
279 This verse is transitional to the next section of exhortation (13:10-14). Nevertheless it is to be tied to 13:7 as part of a unit. Lane makes the following helpful comparison with 13:7 and 13:9 to demonstrate their correspondence:
Exhortation (v 7)
Warning (v 9)
Do not allow yourselves to be led away
your former leaders
strange [itinerant preachers]
the [one] word of God
diverse [human] teachings
Consider the accomplishment of their conduct
their adherents are not benefited
280 See Psalm 104:14-15: “You bring forth food from the earth... and bread to strengthen the human heart.” It seems that this acclamation was evoked in the blessing pronounced before every Jewish meal (Lane, Hebrews, 2:534) identifying every meal as cultic in character. Also the plural of “foods” was used in the OT to distinguish pure from impure foods (Lev. 11:34). Thus lane writes, “This, then, is the background to the ‘strange teachings’ that the heart must be strengthened with food, resulting in power to praise God for the food as well as for the grace experienced in redemption. The consumption of foods, it was urged, can bring us into the presence of God and actualize his lordship because it provides an occasion for the giving of thanks ....
The evidence shows an extensively prepared biblical and Jewish conception that the people of God should eat and drink in order to praise him. In the eating of prescribed foods were experienced the goodness and grace of God that rejoices the heart and strengthens it for the praise of God. Every meal time provided the faithful Jew with strength and an occasion to acknowledge the grace of God. At the same time it was a sober reminder that ultimately one can thank God fully for redemption only through the thank offering and the fellowship meal in the presence of the altar in Jerusalem.
The writer in Hebrews rejects this line of argumentation. He declares that the grace of God was not mediated through the celebration of cultic meals. It was useless to imitate the sacrificial meals in Jerusalem, as the Jews of the Diaspora sought to do. The church will not find its security in such earthly assurances. On the contrary, the grace of God is bestowed through the word of promise concerning the redemptive efficiency of the death of Jesus (2:9) and through prayer (4:16). At their altar (13:10) Christians participate in a sacrifice far superior to the Jerusalem sacrifices” (Hebrews, 2:534-35).
281 Leviticus 16:27.
282 Lane writes, “The writer’s interest is not, however, merely historical. That is clear from the explicit comparison with Lev 16 in vv 11-12. He is concerned to show that Jesus fulfilled the Levitical requirement that the carcass of the bull and the goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement be conveyed ‘outside the camp’ and there be incinerated. This ordinance was fulfilled when Jesus, as the sin offering of the new covenant, died ‘outside the city gate, ‘i.e. outside the holy city and the sacred precincts ...” (Hebrews, 2:542).
283 This is similar to the Gospels’ exhortation to deny oneself (but not to deny Jesus) by taking up his cross and following Him. Historically God was considered to dwell inside the camp and those who were impure were to go outside the camp because God was unwilling to look on any shamefulness or defilement (Deut. 23:14). Nevertheless, after the incident with the golden calf God chose to demonstrate his presence outside the camp (Exodus 33:7-8). Lane writes, “The erection of the golden calf signified the rejection of God. Consequently, God departed from the formerly sacred enclosure and displayed his presence only at the tent pitched ‘outside the camp’ (Exod 33:7-10). An attractive proposal is that the play on the phrase ‘outside the camp’ in v 11-13 was designed to call to mind the occasion when God manifested his presence outside the wilderness encampment. The humiliation of Jesus and his death as an outcast show that God has again been rejected by his people. His presence can be enjoyed only ‘outside the camp,’ where Jesus was treated with contempt. Anyone who seeks to drew near to God must go ‘outside the camp’ and approach him through Jesus .... This is the character of genuine discipleship and the condition for the acceptable worship of God” (Hebrews, 2:544).
284 There are three basic interpretations to this verse: (1) bearing the disgrace of worldliness--the place of Christians is not in holy places with the security which is offered in cultic performances but in the uncleanness of the world, (2) a call to leave earthly assurances and to pursue the heavenly world where Jesus completed his redemptive action at the heavenly altar, and (3) an exhortation to sever the emotional and social ties with the Jewish community that continue to characterize the members of the house church. The immediate context commends this interpretation best (see Lane, Hebrews, 2:545-46).
285 See again 11:8-10, 13-16; 12:18-24 for this pilgrimage theme. Lane writes, “Discipleship may be described in terms of the pilgrimage of faith not merely from the sacred precincts of the wilderness camp (v 13) but from the city that lacks permanence (v 14a)” (Hebrews, 2:546).
286 See Hosea 14:13. This is a praise of thanksgiving.
287 Lane writes, “The ‘leading out’ is the fundamental redemptive action of God under both the old and new covenant. Upon it are based the exclusive claims of God to his people’s allegiance, on the one hand, and, on the other, the ground for trust in God’s power and readiness to stand by his covenant people. The intervention of God in leading his people from Egypt in the Torah (e.g., Exod 6:7; 20:1-2; Lev 19:36; 25:38; 26:13; Num 5:31; Deut 5:6) and in the Prophets (e.g., Isa 64:11-14) and from the realm of the dead in the Psalter (e.g., Ps 30:3; 71:20; 86:13) prefigured his decisive action in raising Jesus from the dead” (Hebrews, 2:561).
288 This is an allusion to Moses who is the model for the great Shepherd, Jesus (Isaiah 63:11-14 [LXX]).
289 Jeremiah 31:31-34; Zechariah 9:11; Exodus 24:8
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of PhilemonRelated Media
I. AUTHOR: THE APOSTLE PAUL
A. External Evidence: Paul is strongly affirmed to be the author of Philemon:
1. Individuals: It is named as authentic by the following individuals:
a. Ignatius makes allusions to it (c. AD 110)
b. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. AD 315-386)
c. Eusebius (c. AD 325-340)
d. Jerome (c. AD 340-420)
e. Augustine (c. AD 400)
2. Canons: It is named as authentic by the following canons:
a. Marcion (c. AD 140)
b. The Muratorian Fragment (c. AD 170)
c. Apostolic (c. AD 300)
d. Cheltenham (c. AD 360)
e. Athanasus (c. AD 367)
B. Internal Evidence: Even though some of the most radical critical scholars2 did question Pauline authorship of Philemon, it is maintained by most to this day
II. PLACE OF ORIGIN AND DATE: From ROME in AD 60-61
A. Place of Origin: Paul’s (first) Roman Imprisonment:
1. Paul clearly writes as a prisoner in Philemon (1,9,10,23)3
2. Paul’s imprisonment seems to be from the same location as that in Colossians:
a. Names: When one compares the names in Philemon 1,10,22-24 with those in Colossians 4:7-17 it becomes evident that they were written from the same location:
8) Paul and Timothy
b. Messengers: In Colossians 4:7-9 Tychicus was entrusted with the letter with Onesimus as a companion; this Onesimus is the same one of Philemon
3. If the location is the same as that for Colossians, than Paul’s first Roman imprisonment seems to be the best choice for the following reasons:
a. Until recently, Rome was considered by most to be the location from which Paul wrote4
b. Caesarea: Some5 understand Caesarea to be the location of writing, but this is unlikely for the following reasons:
1) It is unlikely that a runaway slave (Philemon) would have fled to Caesarea to escape detection and would have found access to Paul like he would have in Rome (where Paul was under house-arrest)
2) Paul expects to be released in the near future since he requests Philemon to prepare him lodging (Phm. 22) and this probably would not have been the case at Caesarea where Paul knew that his only hope was to appeal to Caesar
3) It is unlikely that Caesarea was the home of active missionary work requiring such a large staff of Paul’s co-workers of Gentile origin for Philemon to seek refuge, and it does not seem that this small harbor city was the center of vigorous propaganda suggested in Colossians 4:3,46
1) No evidence exists to affirm that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus (Acts 19)9
2) It is unlikely that a runaway slave (Philemon) would have fled to Ephesus and remained there long enough to know Paul since it was no more than 100 miles away from Colossae
3) The “we” sections of Acts do not allow for Luke to have been with Paul while he was in Ephesus (Acts 16:10ff; 20:6,13ff; cf. Col. 4:14)
d. Rome:10 The most probably location of writing was probably Rome for the following reasons
1) This is a known imprisonment of Paul’s which allows for the events reflected in Colossians and Philemon
2) Acts supports Luke’s presence in Rome with Paul (the “we” sections; Acts 27:2ff)
3) Paul was under house-arrest in Rome which would have allowed him visitors such as co-workers and Onesimus
4) The imperial capital would have allowed the run-away slave Onesimus to seek anonymity and then asylum in Paul’s presence there
5) No other imprisonment in Acts seems to be a real alternative (Philippi in Acts 16:23-40; Caesarea in Acts 24:27
6) Travel between Rome and the east was frequent and not too formidable a task to make the communications between the prison epistles possible
7) Although not determinative, the doctrinal outlook of Colossians seems to belong to a later rather than to an earlier period supporting a Roman origin over one in Ephesus11
8) It is very probable that Aristarchus accompanied Paul to Rome (Acts 27:2; cf. Col. 4:10) and thus shared in his imprisonment
9) Even though Paul intended to go on to Spain from Rome (Rom. 1:10ff; 15:19ff) it is not possible to know with certainty what he did upon his release. He could have changed his mind, or at least changed his immediate plans and thus gone to Colossae
B. Date: If the Roman hypothesis is accepted, then it is likely that Paul wrote Philemon early12 in his (first) Roman imprisonment (i.e., AD 60-61)
III. THE OCCASION OF THE LETTER AND ITS RECIPIENT:
A. The Occasion:13
1. Runaway: A slave named Onesimus from Colossae wronged his Christian owner Philemon (and then ran off (or by running off)14
2. Meeting: Onesimus then somehow came into contact with Paul in prison15
3. Conversion: Paul took an interest in him, Onesimus was converted to Christianity, and ministered to Paul (10-13)
4. Return: Paul returned Onesimus to his master in Colossae in accordance with Roman law and Christian fellowship with a letter requesting Philemon to receive Onesimus as a beloved brother in the Lord (10,16), perhaps with the hope that Philemon will return Onesimus to him for ministry (21)
B. Its Recipient: Philemon [Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house]16
1. Philemon: Paul’s convert and fellow-worker who lived in Colossae and ministered to the saints
a. Paul’s Convert: Philemon became a convert through Paul (Phil. 3,8-9,19) perhaps through his ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:9-10)17
b. Fellow-worker: Philemon is described as Paul’s fellow-worker (Phil. 1) who loves the saints (Phil. 5,7)
c. From Colossae: He seems to have lived in Colossae since Colossians says that Onesimus (4:9) and Archippus (4:17) belong to the church at Colossae and Archippus is addressed by Paul in Philemon (v. 2)
2. Other Names: Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house
a. Apphia the sister (who may have been Philemon’s wife) [Phil. 2]
b. Archippus the fellow-soldier (who may have been the son of Philemon and Apphia) [Phil. 2]
c. The community assembled in Philemon’s house (Phil. 2)18
IV. THE PURPOSES OF PHILEMON:
A. To ask Philemon of Colossae to pardon his slave Onesimus
B. To ask Philemon of Colossae to not only pardon his slave Onesimus, but to give him a warm welcome as a fellow believer
C. To indirectly request of Philemon to send Onesimus back to Paul so that he can go on helping Paul as he had already begun to do
D. To provide a canonical example of Paul’s teaching of the transformation of human society into Christ’s image with reference to slaves and masters (cf. 1 Cor. 7:17ff.; Gal. 3:28)
E. To provide a concrete opportunity/example of what it means to sacrificially love/forgive as Christ has loved/forgiven believers (19)
F. To provide a concrete example of substitutionary forgiveness (18)
G. To emphasize the nature of redemption as God makes that which is “useless” to be “useful” again (10-11)
H. “To awaken mercy in Philemon by reflecting upon the implications of the gospel toward the runaway slave”19
V. PHILEMON AND THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY
A. Household Tables: The question of slavery is perhaps more specifically addressed in what are known as the “household tables” in Colossians 3:18--4:1; Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Corinthians 7:21-23; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:18-21 which emphasize the following:20
1. Owners have a “master in heaven”
2. Slaves are involved in “serving Christ”
3. God deals impartially with master and slave
4. Both slaves and masters are bond-servants of Christ
5. One may still continue in a functional relationship of master and slave after conversion, but must relate to one another on a higher level of unity
B. Slavery Not Addressed: In the letter to Philemon Paul does not directly take up the issue of slavery
C. Brotherly Love: Paul does deal with the issue of brotherly love in Philemon (vv. 16-17), and its significance is as follows:
1. Paul does not insist that Philemon free Onesimus21
2. If a master and slave are brothers one has the foundation for the collapse of slavery with its intimated hierarchy22
3. The terms of “slave” and “master” are transcended through their joint participation in the body of Christ
4. No one truly owns anyone; all believers are equal in Christ23
1 Much of what follows is adapted from the following: F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, pp. 393-406; Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, pp. 396-399; Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded, pp. 289-295; Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, pp. 635-642; Peter O’Brien, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, pp. 265-270.
2 The authenticity of Philemon was disputed by the Tübingen school under Baur due to its correlation with Colossians, and by the W. C. van Manen of the Dutch school who rejected the authenticity of all thirteen of the Pauline corpus, but such reasoning is consigned to the “eccentricities of NT scholarship” (O’Brien, Philemon, p. 269).
3 Even though Paul identifies himself as a prisoner, he does not inform the reader where his imprisonment is located.
4 Although the Marcionite Prologue had the opinion that the Epistle was written from Ephesus [“The apostle already in fetters writes to them from Ephesus”] even though the Prologue to Philemon claimed that the letter was written from Rome (Guthrie, NTI, p. 555).
The “subscript” which was added at a later date asserts: “written from Rome by Tychicus and Onesimus.” Also Eusebius reports that Paul was brought to Rome and that Aristarchus was with him (History, 2.22.1; see O’Brien, Colossians. p. l.).
5 Lohmeyer, Dibelius-Greeven, Reicke, J. J. Gunther, Goguel, deZwaan.
6 O’Brien, Colossians, p. lii.
7 For a more thorough discussion see Guthrie, NTI, pp. 472-478.
8 Deissmann, Michaelis, Duncan.
9 Even though Aristarchus was seized by mob-violence in Ephesus (Acts 19:29), there is no specific mention of arrest for him or for Paul.
10 See O’Brien for counter view (Colossians, p. li).
11 See O’Brien, Colossians, p. liii; Guthrie, NTI, p. 557; Childs, The NT as Canon, 346-349; Bruce, Paul, The Apostle of the Heart Set Free, pp. 411-412.
12 Philemon 9 suggests that Colossians-Philemon may have been written early in the imprisonment, “yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you--I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus--.” The term for “now” (nuniv) is more emphatic than nu'n and suggests that Paul’s imprisonment had only just begun at the time he wrote (O’Brien, Philemon, p. 290).
13 Knox offered a completely different reconstruction of the occasion for the letter identifying the master as Archippus who was the host of the church mentioned in verse one, and Philemon as the one to plead reinstatement of Onesimus. He considers the epistle of Philemon to be the letter from Laodicea in Colossians 4:16, and the exhortation for Archippus to “fulfill his God-given ministry” (Col. 4:17) to be the request of Paul concerning Philemon (see John Knox, “Philemon” in The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. xi [New York, 1955], pp. 555ff; Knox, Philemon among the Letters of Paul: A New View of its Place and Importance; Guthrie, NTI, pp. 635-638; Bruce, Paul: Apostle, p. 401-406; O’Brien, Philemon, pp. 267-268).
14 There is some discussion about whether there were two events or one. O’Brien suggests that his running away may have caused him to owe his master the value of the work that he should have done (cf. verse 18; Philemon, p. 266).
15 The possible historical reconstructions are numerous: (1) he was taken prisoner in Rome, (2) he met Epaphras of Colossae who was on a visit to Paul and brought him to Paul because he knew Paul could help him, (3) he sought refuge in Paul’s company having heard of him in his master’s house, (4) the master sent Onesimus to Paul and Onesimus outstayed his leave (see F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle, pp. 339-400).
16 This would argue against the epistle merely being a private letter to Philemon. O’Brien strongly objects to this due to the pressure it would place upon Philemon to do what Paul was requesting. He explains the inclusion of Apphia, Archippus, and the church as, “due to Paul’s courtesy” since the bulk of the letter is addressed to an individual (Philemon, p. 268, 306; see also Bruce, Paul: Apostle, p. 405), but this does not seem to be dealing with the evidence well. Paul even closes the letter in the plural (diaV tw'n proseucw'n uJmw'n, “through your prayers,” v. 22, and metaV tou' pneuvmato" uJmw'n, “with your spirit”).
As Childs writes, “Paul’s use of all the same formal literary conventions which appear in his larger letters - the naming of the senders and addressees, greetings, and thanksgiving - cautions against categorizing it immediately as a private letter qualitatively different from his other epistles” (The New Testament as Canon, p. 399). It is the inclusion of the local church as recipients which may best explain the epistle’s inclusion in the Pauline corpus. Again Child’s notes that “Paul’s teaching regarding slaves and masters (I Cor. 7.17ff.; Gal. 3:28) was now instanced by the apostle by means of a concrete example of the effect of Christ’s transformation of human society in his image” (Ibid.).
Child’s discussion may be more convincing than that through the Chicago school of Goodspeed and Knox who suggested that the epistle to Philemon was included in the canon because Onesimus added it to the formation of the Pauline corpus when he was bishop of Ephesus at the end of the first century AD (see Bruce, Paul: Apostle, pp. 401-406).
17 See Bruce’s discussion in Paul: Apostle, p. 406, n. 37.
18 Knox understood it to be in Archippus’ house, but it is most naturally understood to refer to the house of the one first mentioned (even through it could relate to Archipipus; see Bruce, Paul: Apostle, p. 404).
19 Elliott E. Johnson, “Principle of Recognition” (unpublished class notes in 315 Advanced Hermeneutics, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1979).
20 See O’Brien, Philemon, p. 269.
21 Guthrie writes, “There is no thought of denunciation even in principle. The apostle deals with the situation as it then exists. He takes it for granted that Philemon has a claim of ownership on Onesimus and leaves the position unchallenged” (NTI, p. 640).
22 As Bruce writes, “What this letter does is to bring us into an atmosphere in which the institution could only wilt and die. When Onesimus is sent to his master ‘no longer as a slave, but as a dear brother’, formal emancipation would be but a matter of expediency, the technical confirmation of the new relationship that had already come into being” (Paul: Apostle, p. 401). As Guthrie says, “Christianity removed the main moral evils of the system” (NTI, p. 640-641, n. 2).
23 Guthrie writes, “It is clearly incongruous for a Christian master to ‘own’ a brother in Christ in the contemporary sense of the word, and although the existing order of society could not be immediately changed by Christianity without a political revolution (which was contrary to Christian principles), the Christian master-slave relationship was so transformed from within that it was bound to lead ultimately to the abolition of the system” (NTI, p. 640).
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of PhilemonRelated Media
Being Encouraged By The Reports Of Spiritual Effectiveness In Philemon’s Life, Paul Requests Of Him To Graciously Receive His Runaway Slave, Onesimus, As A Fellow Believer And Partner In The Gospel Ministry In Accordance With The Love That He Has Shown To Other Believers And The Grace Which He Has Received From Christ
I. Introductory Greetings: After introducing himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus and Timothy as a brother in Christ to Philemon, Apphia, Archippus and the church in Philemon’s house, Paul prays that they all might experience grace and peace from God their Father and their Lord Jesus Christ 1-3
A. Paul: Paul introduces himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus1 1a
B. Timothy: Paul introduces Timothy as their brother (in Christ)2 1b
C. Recipients: Paul writes to Philemon whom he identifies as a beloved fellow worker, to Apphia whom he describes as their sister, to Archippus whom he describes as a fellow soldier, and to the church in Philemon’s house 1c-2c
1. Philemon: Paul writes to Philemon their beloved fellow worker3 1c
2. Apphia: Paul writes to Apphia their sister (in Christ)4 2a
3. Archippus: Paul writes to Archippus their fellow soldier5 2b
4. The Church: Paul writes to the church in the house (of Philemon) 2c
D. Prayer: Paul prays that they all might experience grace (unmerited favor) and peace from God their Father and their Lord Jesus Christ 3
II. Thanksgiving and Intercession for Philemon:6 Paul regularly gives thanks to God for Philemon because he has heard of Philemon’s love for the saints and faith toward God, prays that Philemon’s generosity will lead him into a deeper, experiential knowledge of God, and informs Philemon that his acts of love have brought joy and comfort to Paul himself 4-7
A. Thanksgiving: Paul regularly gives thanks to God for Philemon because he has heard of Philemon’s love for all of the saints and his faith toward the Lord Jesus 4-5
1. Statement of Thanksgiving: When Paul regularly remembers Philemon in his prayers, he gives thanks to his God 4
2. Reason for Thanksgiving: The reason Paul gives thanks to God for Philemon is because he has heard of Philemon’s love for all of the saints and his faith toward the Lord Jesus7 5
B. Intercession: Paul prays that the Philemon’s generosity (fellowship), which arises from his faith, will effectively lead him into a deeper, experiential understanding (ἐπίγνοσις) of every blessing (all the good) that belongs to believers in Christ (εἰς Χριστόν) 6
C. Transition:8 Paul informs his brother Philemon that he gives thanks for him because he has received much joy and comfort from Philemon’s love because the hearts of the saints have been deeply refreshed through him 7
1. Paul informs his brother Philemon that the reason he gives thanks for him (vv 4-5) is because (γάρ) he (too) has received much joy and comfort from Philemon’s love 7a
2. The reason Paul has received joy and comfort from Philemon’s love is because (ο῞τι) the hearts (τὰ σπλάγχνα) of the saints have been deeply refreshed through him9 7b
III. Paul’s Plea for Onesimus: Paul appeals to Philemon on the basis of his loving treatment of the saints and on behalf of Onesimus who has undergone a significant spiritual transformation in Christ that Philemon would receive Onesimus as a fellow believer and Paul’s partner in the ministry 8-20
A. An Appeal Based Upon Love: In view of the loving deeds of Philemon10 Paul does not command him to do what is required with Onesimus, but as an ambassador11 of Christ who is now12 His prisoner13 appeals14 to Philemon for love’s sake15 on behalf of16 his (spiritual) child17 Onesimus whom he begot while in prison 8-10
B. A Commendation of Onesimus: Paul commends Onesimus as being one who has been transformed from being useless to useful, as being Paul’s very heart, as being helpful with the gospel during Paul’s imprisonment, and as being transformed from Philemon’s slave to Philemon’s and Paul’s brother in the Lord 11-16
1. Paul’s Love for Onesimus: Paul affirms that Onesimus has been transformed from being useless to useful to both Philemon and Paul and that he is Paul’s very heart 11-12
a. He Is Useful: Paul affirms that Onesimus was previously useless to Philemon, but now he has become useful to both Philemon and to Paul18 11
b. He is Dear to Paul: Paul affirms that Onesimus, whom he is sending back to Philemon, is Paul very heart19 12
2. God’s Plan for Onesimus: Paul affirms that he would have liked to have kept Onesimus to have helped him with the gospel during his imprisonment, or that perhaps Onesimus was separated from Philemon for a short time in order that he might be re-united with him forever, not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ 13-16
a. A Desire For Onesimus’ Help: Paul affirms that he would have liked20 to have kept Onesimus so that he could have helped21 him with the gospel during his imprisonment as Philemon’s representative,22 but that he would not do such a thing without his consent so that Philemon’s favor might be spontaneous and not forced 13-14
b. A Transformation from Slave to Brother: Paul suggests that perhaps the reason (γὰρ) that Onesimus was separated from Philemon for a short time was in order that23 he might have him back forever, not as a slave, but as a beloved brother24 as he is to Paul and much more to Philemon25 15-16
C. A Request to Philemon:26 Paul requests of Philemon to welcome Onesimus as he would Paul, to charge Onesimus’ debt to Paul’s account, and to thus provide some benefit in the Lord by refreshing his heart through the good reception of Philemon 17-20
2. Charge Onesimus’ Debt to Paul:30 Paul urges Philemon to charge any debt which Philemon may owe him to Paul’s account31 knowing that he will pay it32 and that Philemon owes33 Paul his very life besides34 18-19
IV. Conclusion--Final Remarks and Greetings: After Paul declares his confidence that Philemon will not only obey God in this request, but will do even more than what is requested, He urges Philemon to prepare for his coming visit, sends greetings from those with him, and prays that they will experience God’s grace 21-24
C. The Sending of Greetings:41 Paul sends greetings from his fellow-prisoner Epaphras, and from his co-workers Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke 23
1. Epaphras: Paul sends greetings from Epaphras his fellow-prisoner42 in Christ 4:23a
2. Mark: Paul sends greetings from Mark his co-worker43 23b
3. Aristarchus: Paul sends greetings from Aristarchus his co-worker 23c
4. Luke: Paul sends greetings from Luke his co-workers 23d
D. Benediction: Paul prays that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with spirit of Philemon and those with him44 24
1 Paul is truly a prisoner as he writes for the gospel, and especially for Christ’s sake. Paul does not include his apostolic title in this letter because he does not intend to appeal to that authority in his request (vv. 8-9). Rather he intends to touch his friends heart--thus, a prisoner.
2 See Colossians 1:1. Timothy was with Paul during much of the Ephesian ministry (Acts 19:22; 2 Cor. 1:1) and thus may have been acquainted with Philemon there.
3 He was a co-worker with Paul commissioned by God for the task of missionary preaching.
4 She may have been Philemon’s wife.
5 Paul often used this term to describe himself and his co-workers (cf. Epaphroditus in Phil. 2:25). Perhaps he had been an important assistant in missionary labors and have even walked through persecutions and trials (cf. Col. 4:17).
6 O’Brien notes well that “This whole passage prepares the ground for the request that is to follow, a point that may be discerned not only in its general emphasis, but also in the repetition of specific words from the thanksgiving throughout the rest of the letter (Wlies, Prayers, 219). As Knox (Philemon, 19) has aptly remarked: ‘It is the overture in which each of the themes, to be later heard in a different, perhaps more specific, context is given an anticipatory hearing.’ Terms (or their cognates) such as prayer (προσευχή, v 4,cf. v 22), and love (ἀγάπη, v 5, cf. v 9), fellowship (κοινωνιά, v 6, cf. v 17), good (ἀγαθός, v 6, cf. v 14), heart (σπλάγχνα, v 7, cf. vv 12, 20), refresh (ἀναπαύω, v 7, cf. v 20) and brother (ἀδελφέ, v 7, cf. v 20) reappear in the body of the letter” (Philemon, p. 276).
7 Verse 5 may be an example of chiasmus, an a b b a pattern:
8 With the use of “my brother” Paul is not longer reporting his intercessory prayer, but speaking directly to Philemon through a direct address. This emphasis upon Philemon’s love is a transition from the thanksgiving paragraph to the main purpose of the letter set forth in verse eight--to love Onesimus.
O’Brien notes that, “In this simple transition important ideas from both the thanksgiving and the body of the letter are mentioned (or anticipated), e.g. “love” (vv 5, 9), “comfort” (cf. vv 9, 10), “heart” (vv 12, 20), “saints” (v 5), “refreshed” (v 20), and “brother” (v 20).
9 Paul has met some of those who were refreshed by Philemon, and can identify with those whom he had not met (cf. Col. 2:2).
Because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by Philemon Paul will latter urges Philemon to refresh his heart in Christ (v. 20).
10 The conjunction is “therefore” (Διὸ) probably referring to the reason for thanksgiving which Philemon has given above (e.g., his love).
11 The term is πρεσβύτης which could be a reference to Paul’s age (an old man), or could be a reference to Paul’s ministry as an “envoy”, or “ambassador” (see 2 Cor. 5:20 and Eph. 6:20, “for which [gospel] I am an ambassador [πρεσβύτης] in chains”).
12 The term employed for “now” (νυνί) is a more emphatic adverb than (νῦν) and might suggest that Paul’s imprisonment has only just begun at the time he wrote. This would place Philemon early in Paul’s first Roman imprisonment.
13 Paul’s point is that he is appealing as one who has also been asked by the Lord to suffer loss for his faith. His request to Philemon is in congruence with the outworking of service to Christ.
14 The term is παρακαλῶ.
15 Again this love probably points to the love previously referred to (esp. due to its article, διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην; cf. vv. 5-7).
16 The preposition used is περί meaning “on behalf of” (cf. 1 Cor. 16:12; 2 Cor. 12:8; 2 Thess. 2:1) rather than “about,” or “with reference to”. Paul is interceding on Onesimus’ behalf rather than making a request about him.
17 Here Paul uses the a term to emphasize descendency (τέκνος). Paul is identifying Onesimus as a spiritual child, but not with the idea of a legal, adopted son, but as though he were Paul’s own flesh and blood. This is a strong emotional tie. Paul often uses this imagery with the entire community (1 Cor. 4:15; cf. Gal. 4:19), with Timothy (1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Tim. 1:2), and with Titus (Titus 1:4).
It is significant that if Onesimus was Paul’s “son” than that made him Philemon’s brother. Paul will make this explicit later.
18 This contrast is parallel with Paul’s earlier description of himself:
Paul--ambassador to prisoner
Onesimus--useless to useful (α῎χρηστον--ευ῎χρηστον).
This is also a play upon Onesimus’ name which itself means “profitable” or “useful” (cf. BAG, p. 570).
19 O’Brien suggests that “my heart” could be rendered “my very self.” Therefore, Paul’s sending of Onesimus is like sending back himself (Philemon, p. 293).
20 This is an expression of Paul’s personal preference.
21 This help was ministry (διακονέvω).
22 “on your behalf”. Here Paul assumes that Philemon would have liked to have performed this service for him had it been possible.
23 O’Brien writes, “God’s activity is implied in the passive εχωρίσθη (‘he was separated from’) and therefore the purpose *ñÿ clause which follows signifies the divine intention” (Philemon, p. 286).
24 This is the same description which Paul uses of Philemon (ἀδελφὸν ἀγαπητόν, vv 7,20).
25 God’s providence has made these wrongs work for good (cf. Gen. 45:4-8; Rom. 8:28).
26 Paul mentioned the fact of his request of Philemon for Onesimus in verse 10. Only here does he actually spell out its content ...” (O’Brien, Philemon, p. 298).
27 With the “therefore” Paul is returning to the main theme of the letter after parenthetical remarks about Onesimus.
28 The term is κοινωνόν referring to their fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ, into which they have both been called (cf. Col. 1:9).
29 See verse 12 again. Onesimus should at least be treated as a fellow Christian and perhaps as Paul’s colleague or partner.
30 Here Paul guards against the possible hindrances which Philemon might have to properly receiving Onesimus.
31 Paul is saying, “Put it on my bill.”
32 When Paul writes, “I, Paul, write this in my own hand, I will repay it,” he is presenting a signed IOU.
33 Paul is making a play on words: προσοφείλεις (“you owe [besides]”) corresponds to ὀφείλει (“[if] he owes,” v 18).
34 The strength to do what is right is discovered in our own need of grace. Therefore, to forget is to destroy others, and to remember is to give life to others. Forgiveness is the reflex of redemption!
35 Or in a Christian way.
36 Paul is requesting that Philemon act in accordance with his past acts for the saints, but this time on his behalf (see verse 7).
37 The term is ὑπακοή meaning “obedience” rather than “readiness” or “willingness” (cf. the cognate in Col. 3:20, ὑπακούω). The sense is not that Philemon will obey Paul (cf. vv. 8-9), but that he will obey God (cf. Heb. 5:8; Rom. 5:10).
There is a play on thoughts here; Philemon, the master, is being asked to receive Onesimus by obedience to his Master--God (cf. Rom. 6:16; Col. 4:1).
38 Perhaps the “more” is that Philemon will return Onesimus to Paul for the ministry of the gospel as Paul mentioned before (cf. v. 17). There is not good evidence of manumission since the legal side of slavery is never brought up in the letter.
39 Obviously, this will enable Paul to see for himself how Philemon chooses concerning Onesimus.
40 The “your” is plural, προσευχῶν ὑμῶν.
41 See the parallel list in Colossians 4:10-14.
42 Although this could be a figurative description of one taken captive by Christ, it is probably descriptive of one who is in prison with Paul. It seems that Epaphras is sharing Paul’s confinement.
43 This term, συνεργοί, for fellow-workers was already used of Philemon himself (v. 1). These are those involved in the task of proclaiming Christ as those commissioned by God (O’Brien, Philemon, pp. 307-308).
44 Note that they “your” is plural (ὑμῶν). This probably has specific reference to those whom he greeted in verses 1-2 above.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines