The Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:484 (Oct 1964)
Article: The Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews
Author: Everett F. Harrison

The Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews

Everett F. Harrison

[Everett F. Harrison, Professor, New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.]

Since the term theology is used in a narrow sense of the doctrine of God and also in a broad sense to cover the whole spectrum of divine relations with the world and man, it is well to state at the outset that the larger concept of theology is the one being employed here.

Clearly we are intended in the study of this book to have our minds focused from the start on the person and activity of God. In the initial statement the main thrust is on the revealing activity of God, and that in a rather restricted sphere, for there is no intimation of a revelation through nature, even though creation of the worlds through the Son is mentioned in the second verse. Revelation is to the fathers by means of the prophets. So it is special revelation to a certain portion of mankind, and it may be said to anticipate the emphasis on covenant which is so strong a feature of this epistle. Since this revelation was to the fathers as a whole rather than to a single individual, and since it came at various times, it may fairly be described as progressive revelation. But the purpose here is not to stress the continuing flow of the revelation so much as its arrival at the intended climax, when revelation, in contrast to the “here a little, there a little” methodology of olden days, now reaches its goal in the person of One who is no less than a Son. He is a prophet, true, but more than a prophet.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has provided a commentary that could fittingly be attached to this opening declaration of

Hebrews, when He said to His disciples: “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (Matt 13:17). If Old Testament prophecy was satisfying, it was also tantalizing, not so much because it left so many questions unsolved (cf. 1 Pet 1:10–12), but because it necessarily had to come in word, whereas the disciples had revelation in the person of God’s Son before their very eyes (cf. John 1:18). God is now speaking in One who can not only reproduce His message with fidelity, but can reflect Him as well. This spells fullness and finality which can be achieved in no other way. It is in place here to note in passing the declaration of the Lord Jesus which so marvelously expresses the uniqueness of His relation to the Father and along with i...

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