Exaltation Christology in Hebrews: What Kind of Reign? -- By: Mark R. Saucy

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 14:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: Exaltation Christology in Hebrews: What Kind of Reign?
Author: Mark R. Saucy

Exaltation Christology in Hebrews: What Kind of Reign?

Mark Saucy*

Critical to Christian belief is the royal office of the resurrected and ascended Christ. Since the first Christian sermon, which proclaimed the resurrected Christ as the exalted “Lord and Christ” enthroned at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33–35), Christians of many ages have given allegiance to their “king” who “rules” them from heaven.1 Enigmatic in this teaching about the enthroned Christ, however, is the NT’s notable restriction of the βασιλεία-language group when addressing the functions of the risen Christ. It is arguable that after Acts, Christ is not called “king”2 or pictured as currently “reigning” until Revelation.3 It is further curious that

* Mark Saucy is a Ph.D. candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Christ is seldom or never portrayed as king in the art of the pre-Constantinian Christian Church.4

While most NT scholars want to subsume kingship connotations under the κύριος title, which is prominent in the epistles, the reasons behind such an exchange are still dissatisfying to many. I. H. Marshall, for example, maintains the sense of kingship was preserved in the title Lord but struggles over the circumstances that would bring about the change in terms. He admits it is unclear if current political usage of “king” for the emperor (e.g., 1 Pet 2:13) discouraged early Christians from the title but also acknowledges that if “lord” did mean “king” to Rome, no political advantage is gained for the Christians in the switch. They are just as offensive with “Lord Jesus” as with “King Jesus.”5 Marshall also finds no help from the title χριστός, which would have connoted kingship only among Jews, and, “for whatever reason,” ended up more with the sense of redeemer and savior anyway.6

Given the enigmatic character of this NT data and early Christian behavior, it is necessary to return to the NT teaching concerning the current status of the risen Christ. Is he the risen king or just the coming One? How does enthronement interface with kingship? Is it possible to be enthroned at the Father’s right hand but no...

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