Seven Theological Themes in Hebrews -- By: Merland Ray Miller

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 08:1 (Spring 1987)
Article: Seven Theological Themes in Hebrews
Author: Merland Ray Miller


Seven Theological Themes in Hebrews

Merland Ray Miller

Published posthumously.

By examining the relationship of literary form to theological argument in the book of Hebrews, seven theological themes occurring throughout Hebrews are elucidated, each of which is especially prevalent in 11:1–12:2 . This smaller section emerges as a theological microcosm of the book as a whole. Upon close inspection, these seven themes can be seen to function as a forceful appeal for the readers not to abandon the New Covenant community for the Old, but rather to endure in faith. The faith that brings such endurance is that which focuses on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith, who himself has endured the cross and has sat down at the right hand of God the Father.

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Introduction

The task of interpreting a passage of Scripture is a delicate balancing act. For the exegete who is sensitive to the literary forms of biblical literature and intent on finding the theological argument of a passage, there must be a third concern, that of demonstrating how the two interact. In the context of examining the relationship of literary form to theological argument in Hebrews,1 seven theological themes were discovered. These themes, which occur throughout Hebrews (but with greater frequency in Heb 11:1–12:2), are (1) faith, (2) perfection, (3) promise, (4) endurance, (5) superiority, (6) witness, and (7) inheritance. The meanings of the Greek word groups associated with these themes are discussed briefly below. The emphasis, however, is on their development within Hebrews as a whole, and within the concluding exhortation (10:19–12:29) in particular.

Faith

The concept of ‘faith’ is not only central to Heb 11:1–12:2 (27x) and to the book of Hebrews as a whole (41x), but to the entire scope of biblical revelation. Therefore it is imperative to grasp the scriptural meaning of faith in order to understand how Hebrews employs it.

In extra-biblical Greek, this concept generally signifies “to trust, rely on.” With a personal object it can acquire the nuance “to obey.”2

In the LXX, the root πιστ- almost exclusively translates the root אמן.3 The best examples are found in

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