Archēgos In The Salvation History Of The Epistle To The Hebrews -- By: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 29:1 (Mar 1986)
Article: Archēgos In The Salvation History Of The Epistle To The Hebrews
Author: J. Julius Scott, Jr.


Archēgos In The Salvation History
Of The Epistle To The Hebrews

J. Julius Scott, Jr.*

Archēgos as a title for Jesus appears only four times in the NT, twice each in Acts (3:15; 5:31) and Hebrews (2:10; 12:2). Nevertheless it seems that both linkages1 and affinities with other terms and concepts may make it part of one or more theological “packages” that could extend its influence beyond that indicated by mere occurrence count.2

A survey of LXX3 and non-Biblical use of the term suggests a threefold connotation: (1) path-breaker (pioneer) who opens the way for others, (2) source or founder, and (3) leader-ruler.4 Most suggested translations of archēgos tend to gravitate toward one or another of these meanings.5 Discussions of the cultural background from which archēgos entered Christianity or that of the group of early Christians who used it generally seem to assume that the source-founder emphasis is more likely to be Greek while the leader-ruler connotation probably reflects a Semitic background.

James P. Martin6 argues that archēgos is closely associated with the early Church’s understanding of faith within salvation history (Heilsgeschichte). It identified Jesus, as archēgos, as standing at the central point of salvation his-

*Julius Scott is professor of Biblical and historical studies at Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois.

tory, “which opens up the future to the completion of God’s purpose.”7 while at the same time it proclaims his unique role in the past and present of both history and the experience of the Christian community.

I wish to endorse the general thrust of Martin’s contribution, but here I want to look more precisely at the function of archēgos as a description of Jesus within the epistle to the Hebrews. I suggest that the specific situation faced by the intended audience and the solution proposed by the writer made archēgos<...

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