Christology and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 1:1-2:4 -- By: Victor (Sung-Yul) Rhee

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:626 (Apr 2000)
Article: Christology and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 1:1-2:4
Author: Victor (Sung-Yul) Rhee

Christology and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 1:1-2:4

Victor (Sung-Yul) Rheea

A number of New Testament scholars debate whether faith in the Book of Hebrews is Christological or not. For example Lindars argues that the author of Hebrews does not use “faith” to denote the content of Christian belief. He views Jesus as the ultimate example of faith, not as the content or the object of faith.1 Lindars writes, “Hebrews agrees that faith is the proper response to God’s act of salvation through Christ, but [the author of Hebrews] sees it as a moral quality which should be constantly expressed in Christian living.”2 Based on this premise Lindars proceeds to define the concept of faith in terms of “a moral quality of firmness, fidelity, and reliability as in normal biblical usage.”3 Nor does he consider that Hebrews shows any knowledge of Paul’s specialized use of faith, namely, “justification by faith.”4

Likewise Grässer points out that according to Paul, faith is always faith in Christ (e.g., Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; Phil. 3:9; Col. 2:5), but he says that faith in Hebrews is not directed to Christ in any way.5 Grässer believes that in Hebrews faith is changed from a soteriological personal reference (i.e., faith in Christ) into an ethical category of steadfastness.6

Grässer’s basic motive for advocating the de-Christologized ethical view lies in his understanding of eschatology in Hebrews. He says that in Hebrews eschatological thought had come to refer merely to a temporal scheme of indefinite time in the future. It is called ἐπίλοιπος χρόνος (the remaining time), which is considered the period of the testing of one’s faith.7 Because of the delay of the Lord’s return, “the existential meaning of faith, characteristic of an earlier period, yields, as time goes by, to the treatment of faith as a virtue appropriate to a situation where the parousia is no longer expected soon.”8

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