Christology And The Concept Of Faith In Hebrews 5:11-6:20 -- By: Victor (Sung-Yul) Rhee

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:1 (Mar 2000)
Article: Christology And The Concept Of Faith In Hebrews 5:11-6:20
Author: Victor (Sung-Yul) Rhee

Christology And The Concept Of Faith
In Hebrews 5:11-6:20

Victor (Sung-Yul) Rheea

I. Introduction

In recent years some scholars have proposed that faith in Hebrews does not have Jesus as its object. For example, Erich Grässer points out that, although Paul’s concept of faith has an unbreakable relationship with the salvation event (i.e. faith in Christ), faith in Hebrews is not directed to Christ in any way. He believes that faith in Hebrews is transformed from a soteriological, personal reference into an ethical category of steadfastness. 1 Grässer’s basic motive for advocating the de-Christologized ethical view lies in his understanding of eschatology in Hebrews. He argues that the eschatological paradox of “already” and “not yet” is dissolved into the purely temporal scheme of indefinite time in the future. The remaining time (ἐπίλοιπος χρόνος) before Christ’s coming is considered the period for the testing of faith. 2 Because of the delay of the parousia “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.” 3

Grässer’s ethical view of faith in Hebrews is also evident in his interpretation of 5:11–6:20. He asserts that the term σπουδή in 6:11 has an ethical sense of “earnest striving” or “being eager.” He considers that σπουδή has become an irrevocable Christian command. Grässer also understands πίστις καὶ μακροθυμία in 6:12 as hendiadys, namely, faith which is patience. 4 He believes that the two terms should not be considered as the mode of acquiring salvation, but as steadfastness. 5 For this reason Grässer contends that faith in Hebrews has no specific Christological element, namely, that Jesus is not the object of faith. 6

In response to Grässer, Hamm argues that faith in Hebrews is profoundly Christological, in that Jesus is presented as a model and enabler of Christian faith.

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