The Finality of Christ: An Exposition of Hebrews 1:1–4 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 162:646 (Apr 2005)
Article: The Finality of Christ: An Exposition of Hebrews 1:1–4
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Finality of Christ: An Exposition of Hebrews 1:1–4

David J. MacLeod

David J. MacLeod is Dean of the Division of Biblical Studies, Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, and Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

The Jewish Christians who first received the written sermon1 known as the Epistle to the Hebrews lived in the midst of violent change. The original readers, residing in Palestine,2 lived under the dark cloud of the doom of national Judaism. This epistle was written about A.D. 67 or 68, 3 a year or so after the Roman war against the Jews had begun in September, A.D. 66.4 Jesus had predicted judgment on Jerusalem (Luke 21:20–28), and part of that judgment was shaping up before their eyes. Roman forces were dealing brutally with the increasing signs of rebellion in the religious life and civil life of the Jewish nation.

The political change was accompanied by tremendous religious upheaval.5 For nearly forty years Judaism and Christianity had coexisted in Palestine. Some fellowship between church and synagogue was allowed on both sides.6 Christian Jews continued to pray at the temple (Acts 3:1). They loyally observed the Law (21:20) and continued to participate in sacrificial rituals (vv. 23–26). Some still numbered themselves among the Pharisees (15:5).

Although the readers had become Christians, it is possible that they viewed themselves as members of a “reformed Judaism.”7 They may have felt that their participation in the Jewish rituals and sacrifices was merely a cultural or traditional practice that in no way conflicted with their trust in Christ as their Savior. With the passing of years and the clear revelation through the apostle Paul, it was becoming apparent that this could no longer be. In Hebrews 8:13 the author declared that the Old Covenant was obsolete.

Their devotion to the temple rituals and sacrifices was no longer an innocent thing.8 They had to break with Judai...

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