Thursday, January 18, 2018

2. Concentrated Hebrews (Celebration of Son 1:5-14)

Doing notes on Hebrews as I teach a class this semester.

I. Sermon Introduction (1:1-2:18)
     A. Exordium (1:1-4)
    B. Celebration of the Enthroned Son (1:5-14)
    • These verses are sometimes called a "catena" or "chain" of quotations from the Old Testament. 
    • They are structured by way of an inclusio, where words at the beginning and end of a section are similar, saying, "the stuff in the middle goes together." The inclusio are the words, "For to which of the angels did he say at some time" in 1:5 and 13. It's not exactly the same in Greek but strikingly similar.
    • 1:5 expands on 1:4, which speaks of Jesus being given a name greater than the angels. The most logical inference from the flow is that this name is "Son," which of course is more of a title than a name.
    • 1:5-6. The structure of these two verses is 1) quote, 2) and again, quote, 3) and again, quote.
    • 1:5a. This verse quotes Psalm 2, which was a royal psalm but, when read canonically in a fuller sense (sensus plenior), can be taken as a messianic psalm. The king became God's son at the point of his enthronement. So also here, Jesus assumes the throne as God's Son at the time of his exaltation. This timing is supported by the use of this psalm elsewhere (e.g., Acts 13:33) and by the context of 1:3-4.
    • As Christians we believe that Jesus was "eternally begotten of the Father." Jesus has always been God's Son for eternity past. We can believe this fact and yet still hear how Hebrews is talking about Jesus' enthronement as another piece of the Christological puzzle.
    • 1:5b. This is a quote from 2 Samuel 7:14. In its original context, this verse had Solomon in mind--another instance of a king of Israel being thought of as God's son. But in a fuller sense, these words certainly apply to God's greatest Son for all eternity.
    • 1:6. The structure of the quote suggests that the "again" has to do with the fact that this is the third quote and is not talking about when God brings Jesus again into the world at the second coming.
    • It is tempting to think of Jesus' birth as the meaning of 1:6. "Angels we have heard on high." However, the previous two verses have been about Jesus' exaltation, and if we look at 2:5, we can argue that Hebrews speaks of the "inhabited world" in relation to the heavenly, eschatological world. For this reason, we have concluded that 1:6 is thinking about when Jesus entered heaven after accomplishing atonement. The angels of heaven bow down when Jesus is enthroned in heaven as he sits at God's right hand.
    • If you look at Deuteronomy 32:43, you will be puzzled. It reads, "Rejoice you nations... for he will avenge the blood of his servants." Here is one of several indications that the author is a Greek-speaker rather than someone who read the Bible in Hebrew or Aramaic (a minor argument against Paul as author). The Septuagint here reads, "Rejoice, heavens, and let all the sons of God worship him." "Sons of God" is a way of referring to the angels. So the author seems to be following some Greek version of Deuteronomy here. Of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls read, "let all the gods worship him," so there could have been an earlier Hebrew version in play as well.
    • 1:7-12. In Greek, these verses are structured by way of a "men-de" construction. This is an "on the one hand-on the other" type of construction. Thus, 1:7 about the angels is meant to contrast with 1:8-12 about Jesus.
    • 1:7. In light of the contrasts that follow, the main point of this quote (Psalm 104:4) would seem to be that angels are transitory and relate to the creation. The author of Hebrews has flipped the sense of the verse, which originally was, "He makes the winds his messengers..."
    • 1:8-9. The main point of this quote from Psalm 45:6-7 is that, unlike the angels, who are servants whose role is transitory, Jesus is the divine king whose throne is forever.
    • The original psalm was a wedding psalm. The earthly king of Judah is called "God" in a metaphorical sense in Psalm 45, in keeping with the connection between kings and God we have seen in the other quotes. His bride comes out to meet him, along with her virgin companions, and there is hope for children.
    • Jesus is also anointed from among his companions, the brothers (and sisters) of Hebrews 2:11-13. Notice that the quote makes a distinction between Jesus as God and God the Father as Jesus' God: "God, your God."
    • 1:10-12. This quote contrasts with the transitory ministry of the angels and their connection with the earthly. Meanwhile, Jesus grounds the creation. Remember 1:2 has already said that Christ is the one "through whom God made the worlds." The angels meanwhile are associated with winds and flames. 
    • The creation will become old. God will one day wrap it up like a garment. But the years of Jesus as God's Son and as the Lord will never come to an end. His role is eternal. That of the angels is about to change.
    • 1:13. The catena ends with a quote from Psalm 110:1, a key verse behind Hebrews. It is the exaltation to God's right hand verse, one that may have been highly generative in the early church as God helped them understand the resurrection.
    • 1:14. We have here a clear sense of how Hebrews understands the role of angels in God's plan. They are ministering spirits to humans and the earth in the former age until salvation is fully here. After that, we humans will no longer need their ministry, and they can spend all their time worshiping God with us in the heavenly Jerusalem (12:22).

    No comments: