Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hebrews, Day 2, Page 2362

From ESV Study Bible:

Today's passage is Heb 1:6-14, the bulk of the "Christ is superior to angels" passage.  (only verse 5 is missing.)  The author strings together 7 OT quotes (haraz).  He doesn't explain them because his readership would have attended synagogue and would have been familiar with the texts and their messianic traditions/interpretations.

The seven quotes can be summed up in this table:

Text extract (the words linking the passages via verbal analogy are in bold.)
“You are my Son
Son’s kingship and unique relationship to the Father.
Psalm 2:7
“He shall be to me a Son
2 Sam 7:14
“Let all God’s angels worship him”
The Son is superior to angels.
Deut 32:43 (Gk.), cf. Ps 97:7
“Makes his angels winds”
Psalm 104:4
Your throne, O God, is forever”
Eternality of the Son as perpetual King/Lord and Creator
Psalm 45:6-7
You, Lord, laid the foundation”
Psalm 102:25-27
“Sit at my right hand”
Son’s kingship
Psalm 110:1

6 "when he brings his firstborn into the world"
 - Greek word for "world" is "oikoumene.
 - Refers to the coming world (i.e. heaven), not this present world.  So this refers to his exaltation, not to Christmas.
 - We know this since 2:5 says "the world to come, about which we are speaking", referring back to 1:6. (as Lane points out)
 - This is one of the first verses that introduces the "pioneer" theme of the book of Hebrews.  Jesus' going into Heaven first, ahead of us, preparing the way.
 - "firstborn" is a reference to Psalm 89:27 where the Davidic son is the firstborn, representing status and rank.

6 "let all God's angels worship him"
 - This one is super hard to find the OT parallel.
 - It's likely from Odes 2:43, which is a representation of the Song of Moses of Deut 23:43.  Its Greek is the closest to the form found here (I think only one word, an article, is different).  The Odes passage was used popularly in synagogue liturgy and was widely enough distributed.  So it's possible that our author was using this text as his recollection of the Song of Moses.

7: "makes his angels winds"
 - This one is hard because in the original passage, this seems to be talking about a storm (e.g. lighnting, etc.), not angels.
 - However, a couple things:
  A. Angels were often associated with lightnings and storms in Jewish writings/interpretations.
  B. Psalm 103 can be concatenated with Psalm 104 as evidenced by the "Bless the Lord, O my soul" connection:

And since "angels" are mentioned in 103:20 as those who do his word, it's entirely likely that this fact was factored into The Author's interpretation of Psalm 104:4.  In other words, I think the method of the author's interpretation of Psalm 104:4 was correct.

11-12: "laid the foundation", "roll them up as a garment"
 - Here we see the eternality of the Son in his creation and sustainment of the universe, as well as his role in its destruction at the end of time (i.e. both protology and eschatology are in view in this one short passage).

11: "They will perish"
 - Battleground verse in the argument about the continuity of our world with the new heavens and new earth.

12: "you are the same and your years will have no end"
 - Parallels the verse later on in Hebrews that says "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever"

13: "Sit at my right hand"
 - Only quote without a verbal analogy pair.
 - Climax quote (both O'Brien and Guthrie agree with this)
 - Psalm 110 is the most quoted passage in the NT
 - Psalm 110:1 (quoted here about Christ's kingship) and 110:4 (quoted later [5:6, 7:17, 21, 6:20] in Hebrews about Christ's priesthood), in some ways, sum up the two main themes of Hebrews: Christ's exalted kingship as Son, and His superior priesthood as a priest in the order of Melchizedek.
 - In this way, the introduction of the verse is programmatic to the whole book.
 - Here, this sitting of Christ at the right hand of God is explicitly tied with his kingship.  (Whereas the connections elsewhere, e.g. 1:3 and 10:12, seem to liberally juxtapose it with his priestly work.)

13: "until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"
 - Christus victor theme is associated with Christ's kingship/viceregency here in the book.  Most often it's introduced with this verse (i.e. the "footstool motif"), but it comes out elsewhere. (For instance in chapter 2 where Jesus destroys the devil.)

14: "Are they not all ministering spirits"?
 - This is the "soft landing" after the climax of verse 13.
 - This is a transition into the warning passage of 2:1-4 which highlights both human responsibility and angel mediation.
 - Repeats the theme of verse 7 that angels are inferior because they have an inferior ministry (they are merely servants)

14: "those who will inherit salvation"
 - Salvation here is viewed as being in the future.
 - The word "inherit" recalls 1:1-4, where Jesus is the heir.  This links us to him: We haven't obtained the inheritance yet, but we enjoy it in anticipation.


Primary meditation takeaway for me from this whole passage was, for some reason, the text about Christ going first ahead of us into glory.  Jesus' suffering was eventually rewarded.  Christ takes us from darkness and into light.  It's prefigured in his own original venture into the kingdom of worshiping angels, his reward.  Thank You God, please let this hope be my anchor.

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