Hebrews 1:1-4 – Texture in the Text

Here is a fascinating statement from one scripture about the varied nature of the rest of scriptural, and non scriptural revelation.

Hebrews 1:1-4   ESV
    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, [4] having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

One can read the Bible as if it were flat, like a map.  There are markings but only in two dimensions.  Or one can read it and notice the variation, and see it more like one of those world globes with raised mountains and groves for rivers.  The anonymous author of the book of Hebrews starts with this presumption. He asserts that in contrast to the many and varied means of revelation, the final word is found in Christ.

What are these ways and means?  Luke spoke of careful research (Luke 1:1-4), Exodus speaks of God speaking and writing messages to Moses (Exodus 18-20), Prophets sometimes had visions (Isaiah 6), other times it says “the word of the Lord came to X…”, Psalm 19 speaks of the witness of Nature and of the scriptures, there was a provision for the High Priest to use divining tools (urim and thummim- Ex 28:30) to find God’s word, the scribes gathered Proverbs from many sources, some were freshly written (Solomon was said to have written many- I Kings 4:29ff).   So we see a variety of modes of revelation – from homework to visions.

There are a variety of literary styles and genre.  Clearly poetry differs from narration, law differs from wisdom, parables from discourses and so forth.  There are three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  There are many literary devices.

For this reason the Proverbs begin with a goal that the reader become skilled in understanding the sayings of the wise.(Pv 1:6)  It is not as easy as falling off a log.

We do not believe that the scriptures are unaccessable, but that the more one knows about the texture of scripture the better one understands it.




2 More to Cross a Threshhold! The Fresh Read Poll

So we looked in the Word Press site management data for FRESH READ and found that with two more visits we pass the 6,000 mark.  So Thanks to the faithful readers!

Just so you know we have these on the radar screen

  • in 2009 cross correlate passages by topic and genre – that is comparing the theme of Creation, for example, in narrative, poetry, wisdom, law, apocalypse.  We’ll try to find a cool title for this, but the idea is that biblical genre each provide a unique lens and language on a subject.
  • Answer the question of how FRESH READ entered the ministry because of Ecclesiastes
  • Share the serendipitous findings of our readings.

All and One – I Timothy 2:1-6

Notice the connection between all and one in this passage:

1 Tim. 2:1-7
    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [3] This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all…   

Prayer in the church is not to be self-focused, but as large as the mission of God in the world.  His concern is for all people (think nations, ethnicities, ages, political views, economic categories, moral standing, friend or foe, etc). 

The all is tied to the one.  For the Bible does nto speak of Gods who have localized areas of control, but one god over all people.  God is one, and there is only one, THEREFORE his concern is for all.

Also the prayer for political leaders is not over so much who they are, but that the effect might be conducive for spiritual living and, in context, for the accomplishing of the mission of God.  The pagan Roman empire created a peace (Pax Romana) and roads over which missionaries travelled with considerable freedom.


Hidden in Christ – Colossians 3:4

OK, so now this is “sharpening the point” in a positive way.  In this passage, the eye tends to glance by without noticing much,

Col. 3:1-4
    If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    Now we find two dimensions here. 

  • There is clearly a spacial dimension.  The things above, where Christ reigns, is contrasted with the things here on earth – where sin and/or chaos reign. 
  • There is a time dimension.  In the past “you have died”, in the present “your life is hidden”, in the future Christ will appear and you will appear as well.  What is now hidden will be evident

Paul here an in other pasages, most notably Romans 6, links the life of the believer to the events of the Gospel.  Christ died, was buried, was raised to new life and will return.  The believer dies (in baptism, to the old self), is buried (baptism), is raised (new life) and will be glorified in Christ’s return.  Look here at Romans 6

Romans 6:1-4
    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
     (bold added for emphasis)


So then the “hidden in Christ in God” would seem to indicate that the life of the believer is secured in heaven with God, hidden from full expression until the end of days.  This in turn sounds like the point made in I Peter

1 Peter 1:3-5
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, [5] who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    So there, not to put so fine a point on it, is something to notice rather than glance by with your eyes half opened.


Should we sharpen the point?

This verse leaves some room for interpretation:

 Philip. 2:1
    So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy….

The term encouragement can mean something like coaching – to call others to press on.  Or it can mean something like “being cheered up”.  And the phrase “in Christ” can mean something like “by Christ” or “in connection with Christ” or “through Christ”, or and this is a seminarian’s delight, “in the sphere of Christ.”

So should we be specific?

  • Is there any coaching by Christ
  • Is there any coaching having to do with Christ
  • Is there any hugging by Christ
  • Is there any hugging by Christ and his people
  • etc

So we have been a little creative in the options.  There are arguments for specific meanings.  But is there not an argument for a larger meaning – a pregnant meaning.  That we can be free (in light of the repeated “if there is any”) to  think on all the nuances of meaning. 

Have I ever been encouraged in my inner spiritual life by Christ?  Have I ever been encouraged by His teaching?  Have I ever been challenged by him?  Have I ever been encouraged by the Christian community?  Those all seem fair questions to us.

In this case, lets not be too exact.