The Expositors Bible Commentary: Hebrews - Revelations

The Expositors Bible Commentary: Hebrews - Revelations

by Tremper Longman III, David E. Garland
     
 

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This is a complete revision of the Gold Medallion-winning commentary series. It is up to date in its discussion of theological and critical issues and thoroughly evangelical in its viewpoint.See more details below

Overview

This is a complete revision of the Gold Medallion-winning commentary series. It is up to date in its discussion of theological and critical issues and thoroughly evangelical in its viewpoint.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780310268949
Publisher:
Zondervan
Publication date:
02/28/2006
Series:
The Expositor's Bible CommentarySeries Series
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
800
Sales rank:
870,315
Product dimensions:
7.63(w) x 9.38(h) x 1.63(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies and the chair of the Religious Studies department at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he lives with his wife, Alice. He is the Old Testament editor for the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary and has authored many articles and books on the Psalms and other Old Testament books.

David E. Garland (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is William B. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures and dean for academic affairs at George W. Truett Seminary, Baylor University. He is the New Testament editor for the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary and the author of various books and commentaries, including Mark and Colossians/Philemon in the NIV Application Commentary, and the article on Mark in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. He and his wife, Diana, reside in Waco, Texas.

The Reverend Dr. Dick France was a New Testament scholar and Aglican cleric. He was Principal of Wycliffe Hall Oxford from 1989 to 1995. He also worked for the London School of Theology.

George H. Guthrie (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. As a specialist in New Testament and Greek, he is the author of numerous articles and four books including the volume Hebrews in the NIV Application Commentary series.

Daryl Charles (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion & Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.

Tom Thatcher is a professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University. A graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville), his research interests include the Johannine Literature, Historical Jesus Studies, and methods of biblical interpretation. Tom lives with his wife, Becky, and two children, and is an ordained minister of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

Alan F. Johnson (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Christian Ethics and Emeritus Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE) at Wheaton College. He is the author of commentaries on Paul’s letter to the Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Revelation and co-author with Robert Webber of What Christians Believe. He and his wife Marie reside in Warrenville, Illinois and have four daughters and nineteen grandchildren.

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The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Hebrews-Revelation


Zondervan

Copyright © 2006 Zondervan Corporation
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-26894-X


Chapter One

Text and Exposition

I. BETTER THAN THE PROPHETS (1:1-3)

OVERVIEW

The first four verses of Hebrews form a single Greek sentence. By the end of the sentence, we have already been introduced to the theme of the superiority of the Son to angels, which will remain in focus throughout the rest of chs. 1-2. To impose a section break between vv.3 and 4 is therefore to favor a thematic analysis of the text over its grammatical form. My reason for doing so is that the contrast with the prophets with which the sentence opens (and which will not be made explicitly again in the rest of the letter) serves to set the scene more broadly than just in relation to angels and provides our author with the cue for his most powerful christological statement-indeed one of the three or four most striking accounts in the NT of the incarnate Son of God. The theme and indeed much of the language of vv.2-3 is closely parallel to what is said about the role of the Word/Son in creation and revelation in John 1:1-18 and especially Colossians 1:15-20.

COMMENTARY

1-2a One of the chief glories of OT religion was its prophetic tradition. Israel lived not by human insight but by divine revelation as God "spoke through the prophets." Our author has no wish to belittle this privilege, and he will quote from those same prophets later in the course of his argument. But now God has provided something even better. The prophets were many and varied, and their revelations came to the forefathers sporadically over a considerable period. But now their place has been taken by a single spokesman, whose message has been delivered once-for-all "in these last days" (lit., "at the end of these days," echoing the OT formula "in the end of the days," Ge 49:1; Isa 2:2; etc.).The period of preparation is over, and all that the prophets have looked forward to is now fulfilled in the single person of "a Son." (The lack of article does not indicate one son among many but rather the true nature and status of this new spokesman as against his predecessors the prophets.) This title, which will form the backbone of Hebrews' presentation of Jesus, is dramatically introduced in contrast with the mere messengers who have gone before and will immediately be filled out with a series of descriptive clauses that totally set him apart from all merely human representatives. Note that the name "Jesus" will not appear until 2:9, when the focus will be on the period of the human incarnation of the Son. In his essential nature he is better designated not by his human name but by a title that directly links him to God.

2b-3a Seven arresting statements now fill out the unique status of "the Son" and make it unmistakably clear he is much more than a passing historical figure like the prophets. The first five statements focus on his relationship to God and to the created universe in such a way as to place him outside the natural order as its originator and sustainer. Two further clauses in v.3b will then bring his historical work of redemption into focus, but first we are invited to contemplate the eternal glory of the Son since before the world was made.

Three clauses trace the role of the Son in relation to the universe, covering respectively its past, present, and future. It was "through" the Son that God made the universe in the past; in the present that same Son upholds everything "by his powerful word"; and the future destiny of the universe is understood also in relation to him who has been made the "heir of all things" (perhaps echoing Ps 2:8; cf. the quotation of Ps 2:7 that follows in v.5). This is the same threefold relation to the creation, embracing all eternity, which is succinctly expressed in Paul's formula in Romans 11:36: "from him and through him and to him are all things"; Paul was speaking there of God, not of Christ, but in Colossians 1:16-17 he says the same of Christ: "all things were created by him and for him ..., and in him all things hold together." The author of Hebrews, like Paul (and John in 1:1-3), has no hesitation in saying of Jesus what in Jewish orthodoxy was reserved for God the Creator.

The double clause that opens v.3 describes the Son's relation to God more directly and even more unequivocally, not now in his creative role but in his essential nature: he is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." He is, in other words, as in John 1:14, 18, God made visible. To see what God is like we must look at the Son. "Radiance" (apaugasma, GK 575) means literally the "outshining" (though it is sometimes also used of a "reflection") of the glory that is God's essential character, while "exact representation" translates the vivid Greek metaphor charakter, "imprint, stamp" (GK 5917), used, for instance, of the impression made on a coin, which exactly reproduces the design on the die. (The idea is the same as the more familiar phrase "the image of God.") Again there is a close echo of Colossians 1:15, 19: "He is the image of the invisible God.... God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him."

3b The glory of the Son consists not only in his eternal nature but also in his role in bringing salvation to human beings. The two clauses that conclude the description of the Son take up this theme and thus introduce two of the most prominent themes of the letter as a whole. First, he has "provided purification for sins." The theme of the sacrificial work of Christ will come into focus especially in chs. 9-10 as the outworking of his office as our great high priest, where the author will emphasize that this work of purification is now fully complete. While at this point he does not yet spell out the means by which this "purification" has been achieved, his readers would be well aware that it must be through the shedding of blood (9:14, 22, etc.). The way is thus prepared for the paradoxical argument of ch. 2 that it is in his humiliation and death that the superior glory of the Son, as our perfect redeemer, is revealed.

But humiliation is followed by exaltation, and the author's first allusion to Psalm 110:1 introduces the language of "sitting at the right hand," which will echo through the letter (cf. 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). The Son, his earthly work complete, now occupies in heaven the place of highest authority next to God himself.

Such is the nature of the Son, who has now added to his unique creative work by coming into the world he made in order to bring the final and perfect revelation of God by making the true nature of the invisible God visible on the canvas of a human life, and by his redeeming work has fulfilled God's purpose of salvation. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory" (Jn 1:14). Here is a work of God on a different level altogether from what the prophets could offer.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Hebrews-Revelation Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan Corporation. Excerpted by permission.
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