Revelation, Simply Put: A Visual Commentary on the Book of Revelation
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LSJ TDNT In a sense, by using this verb the writer of Hebrews is echoing the many references in the Old Testament to God's speech cf. Ellingworth In line with this, the word is also sometimes used to refer to parents or ancestors. Allen ; Black ; Lewicki ; Wider Throughout Scripture, there are references to God speaking through his prophets. In a few New Testament passages e. According to the Old Testament and Rabbinic teaching of aeons, world history apart from the period before the fall is divided into two ages or eras: the current era of sin and the coming eschatological era of salvation cf.
Coetzee ; MacLeod With this addition, the writer is indicating that the expected eschatological era has arrived recently in the past cf.
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Black ; DeSilva ; Hughes ; Wider Consequently, it is clear that like other New Testament writers, the writer of Hebrews also saw Jesus Christ's life, death, resurrection and exaltation as the beginning of the 'last days' cf. However, it is important to take note that, like most other New Testament writers, the writer of Hebrews interpreted Christ's first coming only as the introduction of the 'last days'; the complete fulfilment of these days will only take place at Christ's return Heb. Coetzee The fact that God has spoken through his Son in this eschatological transitional period makes it clear that there is a certain finality in his revelation through his Son Peterson; cf.
On the other hand, this phrase also makes it clear that the hearers lived in a time of intense expectation and revelation of salvation Lewicki ; cf. Black ; Bruce A stylistic and rhetorical analysis of Hebrews a. As interesting as this may be, the most important stylistic and rhetorical feature of a is the striking parallelism in and a.
This parallelism can be tabulated as shown in Table 1.
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At first glance, this parallelism clearly has elements of both contrast and continuity. However, there are more elements of continuity than is often suspected. Smillie rightly warns exegetes to be careful not to read later elements of contrast in Hebrews back into a as is often the case. Hughes ; Lewicki The fact that a has such a clear and central element of continuity does not however mean that there are no elements of contrast in these verses cf. Smillie The following contrasts can be seen in a:.
All these contrasts emphasise that God's revelation in his Son is at the outset different from and superior to all of his Old Testament revelations. Lewicki A thought structure analysis of Hebrews In short, this means that can be divided into two parts: The thought structure analysis of Hebrews can visually be presented as in Figure 2. Although there are differences of opinion about how many things there are said of the Son in b-4 cf.
Bruce ; Kistemaker , in my opinion, along with Meier , seven clauses can be distinguished. The writer of Hebrews thus lists seven reasons why the Son par excellence could be God's superior agent of revelation through whom he has spoken 'in these last days'.
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In short, he is God's superior agent of revelation because his relationship with God is entirely different than the relationship between God and his previous agents of revelation. As the Son of God , Christ par excellence is suited to be God's superior agent of revelation. Remarkably, many of these clauses touch on themes which the writer of Hebrews will expound on later in his sermon cf. Attridge ; Black ; Lewicki Conclusion from the exegesis.
In the introduction of the article, the following questions were asked: Is the writer of Hebrews' conviction that God's revelation unfolded from his so-called 'Old Testament' revelation to his 'New Testament' revelation in his Son indeed supported by his words in the introductory sentence? Does a thorough exegesis of verses 1 and 2a within the context of the immediate pericope context give any confirmation of the author's view of such an unfolding revelation? After a detailed exegesis of Hebrews a, the answer to both these questions can be given as a definite 'yes'.
In the striking parallelism between Hebrews and a, the writer emphasises that after God gave his Old Testament revelation in various parts and in various ways over a long period of time to different believers through different agents, he continued to speak: recently, in the transitional period from the old to the new era, God has spoken to the hearers through his Son.
The fact that the writer of Hebrews states that the same God continued to speak, proves that it is indeed his conviction that God's revelation unfolded. And the fact that undoubtedly refers to God's revelation in the Old Testament, and a to his revelation in his Son, enables the exegete to conclude that the writer is convinced that God's revelation unfolded from his so-called 'Old Testament' revelation to his 'New Testament' revelation in his Son.
Hermeneutical implications from Hebrews a. Now that it has been established from Hebrews a that the writer of Hebrews is convinced from the outset that God's revelation is an unfolding revelation, certain hermeneutical implications of the unfolding character of God's revelation can be drawn for believers and scholars today. The following seven hermeneutical principles emerge from Hebrews a:.
God's revelation is progressive : First and foremost, from the parallelism between and a, it is clear that God's revelation is progressive. Although there is continuity between that which God spoke in the Old Testament and that which he has now spoken in his Son, God's revelation progressed from his Old Testament revelation to his revelation in his Son. God's Old Testament revelation was incomplete in relation to the revelation he now gave in his Son cf. Black ; MacLeod However, Hebrews a does not indicate progression in the sense of less true to more true or from less worthy to more worthy.
This could not be the case, because one and the same God is revealed throughout. The progression is rather one from promise to fulfilment Bruce God's revelation in his Son is superior : Closely connected to the previous principle, Hebrews a indicates that God's revelation in his Son is superior. Although Hebrews affirms that the same God continued to speak, the emphasis throughout is constantly on the fact that God revealed himself superiorly in his Son.
This is clear from the elements of contrast in the parallelism between and a, as well as the seven-fold description of who the Son is in b God's revelation in his Son is climactic : Again in close connection with the previous principles, the parallelism in and a seems to imply that God's self-disclosure in his Son is the climax and fulfilment of all previous Old Testament revelations Cockerill This is not directly stated in a, but the fact that God's revelation in his Son is superior while still in continuity with his revelation in the Old Testament, seems to imply such a climactic unfolding.
Throughout the rest of the sermon, the writer indeed proceeds to indicate that the Son is the fulfilment of previous Old Testament revelations especially Heb. As such, the Old Testament revelation is partly a foreshadow of God's climactic revelation in his Son cf. Attridge ; Lane God's revelation in his Son is final : Closely related to all the previous principles, Hebrews a suggests that God's revelation in his Son is final.
The very fact that God's revelation in his Son occurred during the transitional period from the old to the new era, implies that the Old Testament period of revelation is now considered closed Ellingworth and that God's revelation in his Son is final Bruce ; Peterson As Bruce aptly puts it: 'The story of divine revelation is a story of progression up to Christ, but there is no progression beyond him'.
With 'us' the writer does not only refer to the first eyewitnesses of Jesus cf.
God's revelation in his Son is not something vague or distant or meant for 'others'; no, it is personal and directed to everyone who hears it. God's revelation in his Son is urgent : Although not explicit in a, the personal nature of God's revelation in his Son as well as the superiority of the Son by whom God gave his final revelation, imply that the original hearers and hearers today should diligently listen to what God revealed in his Son. Throughout his sermon, the writer explicitly warns his hearers that an unbelieving, disobedient or careless attitude towards God's superior revelation in his Son can expect nothing else than God's judgement and wrath.
Therefore, he urges his hearers to reverently react with the greatest faith and obedience possible to that which God has spoken by his Son ; ; ; ; The same urgent reaction to God's revelation in his Son is expected from modern day hearers. God's revelation in the Old Testament is still valid and binding : The writer of Hebrews in no way rejects the Old Testament.
It still remains God's revelation. In fact, throughout the sermon he makes it clear that God's final revelation in his Son can only be understood within the context of his Old Testament revelation cf. Allen ; Koester The Old Testament bears witness to Christ. But, the unfolding of God's revelation also suggests that the Old Testament revelation can only be understood within the context of God's revelation in his Son. DeSilva ; Koester This leads to the basic hermeneutic principle that the Old Testament should always be read in the light of the New, and the New Testament in the light of the Old.
In a sense, all the hermeneutic principles above can be summarised by the statement that God's revelation unfolded from his Old Testament revelation to his New Testament revelation in his Son.
As could be expected, the idea of the unfolding of God's revelation is not unique to the writer of Hebrews. In other parts of the New Testament, it is confirmed that the ministry of the old covenant pointed forward and had a passing character 2 Cor. Nowhere else in the New Testament, however, is there any indication of contrast between God's previous revelation and his revelation in his Son.
The emphasis is solely on continuity and fulfilment. Consequently, it is clear that in the Old Testament Christ was a dormant part of God's revelation that came to a complete unfolding in the New Testament cf. Precisely therefore, the 'unfolding' of God's revelation is a most fitting term and a crucial, overarching, hermeneutic principle. In the article, it has been determined that the writer of Hebrews is convinced that God's revelation unfolded from his so-called 'Old Testament' revelation to his 'New Testament' revelation in his Son.
From this conviction, certain hermeneutical implications were drawn for believers and scholars today. All things considered, the overarching hermeneutic principle of the unfolding of God's revelation should not only strengthen the doctrines of the unity of the Old and the New Testament and the divine inspiration of Scripture but should also influence the way we read the Scriptures. Whenever the Old Testament is read, we should read it inter alia as promises and prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.
Whenever the New Testament is read, we should read it inter alia as the climax and fulfilment of Old Testament promises and prophecies.
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We should always remember to read the Scriptures backwards and forwards. By doing so, we may come closer to the divine intent of the divine revelation. The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article. Allen, D.
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Attridge, H. Bauer, W. Beale, G.