Applying Christ’s Supremacy: Learning From HebrewsPosted: November 18, 2009
(Post by Jerry Bilkes)
Why does the epistle to the Hebrews have the stunning force it clearly has? Of course, God’s Word is always “quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Since it is God-breathed, every part of Scripture is not only true but also powerful. This does not obviate, however, the fact that there are ancillary reasons why one or other part of Scripture has a particular or pronounced force. I believe the following reasons help explain why this is true for the epistle to the Hebrews:
Firstly, the abundant and focused use of the Old Testament. The author is very concerned to bring forth out of the Scriptures, and Psalm 110 in particular, the revolutionary and sublime truth that it contains concerning the exaltation of Messiah. The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 110:1 explicitly four times (1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12; with Ps 110:4:) and verse 4 seven times (5:6; 6:20; 7:3,11,15,17,21). Moreover, every thing he states in the book can be related to these two verses, in either a direct or indirect way.
Secondly, the grand and exclusive focus on Christ. The author moves from the person of Christ (1:5-4:13) to his office (4:14-7:28), and then to the administration of that office (8:1-10:18). The argument of the book is compelling, coherent, and comprehensive. We have here the basic outline of what later would be developed in the locus of systematic theology we call Christology, and Christ is the sole of the whole book. The apostle moves from the exalted person of Christ to the exalted work of Christ. You could say that the author gives us Christ solely and totally.
Thirdly, the applicatory orientation of the book. As always in the Scriptures, the exposition of doctrine has an applicatory bent. Here in Hebrews, we see how basic and pervasive this applicatory bent is. The author himself calls it “a word of exhortation” (13:22). There is not only the frequent interspersing of application within the expositional argument, but also the tight relationship to the expository parts of the epistle in application. Moreover, there is the lengthy application at the end of the book (10:19-13:20). In every application, it is clear that the complete Christ sufficiently answers the challenge and need of the moment, whether it is trial, temptation, or false teaching.
Lastly, the radical nature and earnest tone of the apostle’s argument. The apostle sets forth a salvation that is superior, more excellent, eternal, perfect, etc., while at the same time, it is an exclusive, unique, and necessary salvation. The line the apostle draws is razor sharp. Salvation is full and free; yet, because of our unbelief and dullness, it is also easily mistaken and missed. This is the logic of the epistle of the Hebrews.