Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month we are publishing an edited transcript of an audiotape lecture that Dr. Martin gave in 1982. It is titled “The Book of Hebrews.” It discusses background information of this important biblical book that helps make clear its central purpose and message.
Much of the Book of Hebrews deals with the meaning behind the symbols of the Old Testament rituals, structures, and objects as they apply to the future. Unless you have a proper perspective of the provenance of the Book of Hebrews most of the spiritual explanations will not make sense. Dr. Martin’s article will give you that proper background so you can read the text of Hebrews more clearly.
As Dr. Martin notes in his book Restoring the Original Bible, First and Second Thessalonians discuss the subject of Christ’s return to earth from heaven. Immediately following in the proper manuscript order is the Book of Hebrews, which discusses events and their meaning after Christ’s return during His millennial reign on earth. The experience of the entire Old Testament, with its symbols and rituals come to fruition in “the world to come, about which we are speaking” (Hebrews 2:5). This then is the subject of Hebrews. 1
Hebrews chapter 1 opens with an explanation about the Son of God and His relation to angels at the present time in heaven. The point of view is that of God the Father and the Son from the position of God’s throne in heaven. It is saying, in effect, God has spoken through His Son (verse 1:2); pay attention to the following message. That message views events on earth from God’s perspective.
One thing not discussed in detail in this article is that the Book of Hebrews also lists the foundational principles to maturity in Christ. As listed in Hebrews 6:1–3 (and expanded upon in Chapter 2 and in Chapter 23 of Dr. Martin’s book) these steps are consistent through several of the Pauline epistles, with variations dependent on the emphasis of each epistle. However, most all of Hebrews deals not with fundamentals, which are mentioned in passing, but with very mature teachings.
One vitally important exegetical analysis that Dr. Martin made after this 1982 lecture was that not only is Christ Jesus the Son of God not an angel, but that none of the angels are sons of God. This unique and simple observation (now so seemingly obvious) from Hebrews chapter 1 clarifies a great deal of confusion about angels, the sons of God (from Genesis 6, Job chapters 1 & 2 and Psalm 82), and their relationship to the Godhead. 2 It answers the problems that the audience of Hebrews had with angels.
In the article you will read Dr. Martin’s solution as to the author of Hebrews. However, I want to give you the words of Bishop Westcott praising the beauty and precision of expression in the Book of Hebrews:
“The style is even more characteristic of a practised scholar than the vocabulary. It would be difficult to find anywhere passages more exact and pregnant in expression than 1:1–4, 2:14–18, 7:26–28, 12:18–24. The language, the order, the rhythm, the parenthetical involutions, all contribute to the total effect. The writing shews everywhere traces of effort and care. ...
The author is never carried away by his thoughts. He has seen and measured all that he desires to convey to his readers before he begins to write. In writing he has, like an artist, simply to give life to the model which he has already completely fashioned. This is true even of the noblest rhetorical passages, such as chapter 11. Each element seems at first sight to offer itself spontaneously, will be found to have been carefully adjusted to its place and to offer in subtle details results of deep thought so expressed as to leave the simplicity and freshness of the whole perfectly unimpaired. For this reason there is perhaps no Book of Scripture in which the student may hope more confidently to enter into the mind of the author if he yields himself with absolute trust to his words. No Book represents with equal clearness the mature conclusions of human reflection.”
Westcott, Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. xlvi, xlvii 3
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Within the last few days two messages about appreciation were forwarded to me. Both expressed the point that we all should be more open to show appreciation to those who help and support us — especially to God from whom all blessings flow. We can never praise God and be thankful enough, and all of us woefully lack acknowledging to God our specific appreciation for the good things that happen to us, protection or escapes from harm, or just being given the strength to handle life’s difficult situations and continuing problems. And yes, we should gratefully acknowledge the chastisements we receive (Hebrews 12:5–12).
We thank God when we receive your support and help — on each occasion. In addition, we want to thank each of you for your making it possible to continue so that ASK will be helpful in your lives (and in the lives of others around the world) as we endeavor to make clear the Word of God to promote the Gospel of Christ. Thank you also for your continuing prayers, both those we learn about from your telling us, and from God’s blessings that we receive. We wish we could properly express ourselves and thank each of you personally. Your faithfulness is emotionally sustaining and spiritually inspiring to us. Thank you.
David W. Sielaff
1 Going “unto perfection”; see Hebrews 6:1–3 and the discussion in Dr. Martin’s book, Restoring the Original Bible (Portland, OR: ASK, 1994), pp. 373–375, and serialized on the ASK Website at: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/index.asp. DWS
2 See the quick explanation in “Bible Secret Number 11” at http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec011.htm. For a more complete explanation see the article “How God Uses Angels to Govern the Universe” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d010201.htm. For the complete explanation see chapter 28, “The Sons of God” in Dr. Martin’s Essentials of New Testament Doctrine. DWS>
3 From B.F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays, 3rd ed. (London/New York: Macmillan, 1893/1903). Interestingly, although Westcott was an expert textual critic, he uses style as evidence that Paul did not write Hebrews. Of course, this line of argument assumes that the apostle Paul was able to write only in one style. DWS
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