The Trinity In The Book Of Hebrews -- By: Nathan D. Holsteen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 168:671 (Jul 2011)
Article: The Trinity In The Book Of Hebrews
Author: Nathan D. Holsteen


The Trinity In The Book Of Hebrews

Nathan D. Holsteen

Nathan D. Holsteen is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Approaches to biblical interpretation today are legion. Linguistic theorists, philosophers, and theologians rightly wrestle with weighty questions of textual meaning and reader response. Varying perspectives on a host of issues lead to a variety of hermeneutical recommendations.1

One idea that sometimes gets lost in current discussions of biblical hermeneutics, however, is that of internal coherence. Simply put, any written work that conveys a message makes implicit assertions in constructing its overall message, and these implicit assertions give shape to the coherence of the work. Denying these implicit assertions makes the whole work either incoherent or less coherent. The Book of Hebrews constructs implicitly a perspective from which its contents, while varied, must be read.

Hebrews Portrays God As Triune By Affirming Both Oneness And “Three-ness”

The necessary components of Trinitarianism are both oneness and “three-ness.” Though Hebrews does not include explicit Trinitarian statements, one may assert that the author of Hebrews portrayed God as triune if one finds clear evidence of the oneness of God and also evidence of three distinct persons.2

Hebrews Affirms The Oneness Of God By Connecting God’s Past And Present Work

Everywhere in Hebrews the Old Testament understanding of the oneness of God is assumed. For example Hebrews 3 weaves together several passages from the Old Testament in describing the rebellion of the Israelites after the Exodus. Hebrews mentions the rebellion at Meribah and Massah, and reviews God’s act of judgment during forty years in the wilderness. In discussing this God, Hebrews portrays Him as acting in unity.

While this argument may not seem persuasive at first, it actually carries great weight. If one of the major purposes of Hebrews is to persuade Jewish believers to remain faithful to Christ by eschewing a return to Judaism,3 then an affirmation of divine unity makes good sense. This is as if the author of Hebrews were saying, “Do not return to Moses, for the same God who spoke through Moses has spoken again by way of supersession through Christ.”

Hebrews Affirms That Three Distinct Persons Are Divine

The second element in su...

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