30th March 2008
Fr. Jude Ferreira.
( I ) INTRODUCTION:
Author of Hebrews is not known, but certainly not Paul.
This letter was written in Hebrews to the Hebrews.
This letter was not directly or indirectly written by Paul.
This in not a letter, the style & structure is different, unlike Pauls letter.
Quotation from the OT the LXX (symbol of Gk translation of the OT called version the ‘septuagint’
He took citations from the OT not Quotations to support his arguments..
The author has a Hellenistic background, because in the letter he uses Plato’s terms, he also uses Platonic ideas. This is shown by the CONTRAST used. Heavenly test-Earthly Tents.
The Temple (Heavenly Pattern)
The writer is a man , women did not write scripture.
1. He is a Hellenistic Xtian with an Alexandrian intellectual background. Alexandria was a center of learning, was known for its great Library.
2. Hebrew: root ibri –across the sea They mean the same thing
I I Isreals relation with foreigners
Israelite They are interchangeable
I Gen 39:14; Ex 1:16-19; 1 Sam 13:19-20;Ex 2:11-13
Jew Were called Jews after exile, checked the blood line
In the NT the term Hebrews to an Aramaic speaking Jew. 2 Cor 11:22; Phil 3:5. Act21:40.
3. Heb. Is called a letter or epistle, there is no name of the writer, long treaties or essay it has 13 chapters
4. It is a written Homely to which the author has given an epistolary ending. Heb13:22-25.
5. The purpose of the letter. The letter was written between 18-19AD to restore the confidence of the Xtians who were in danger of abandonment of faith (Apostasy) who were confused & under stress of persecution, hence the author states that Xt invites us to remain faithful inspite of persecution to the new definitive heavenly covenant mented by Jesus priestly sacrifice.
Two important Themes of Hebrews is Priesthood & Sacrifice
What was the situation that was going on
a. The community endured & still endures persecution 10:32-34.
b. The situation is becoming worse 12:3-4.
c. There is a tendency to fall away & have doubt about the faith Heb 3:6; 4:14;10:22-25.
1:5 - 2:18. The preeminence of Xt over the angels.
3:11-5-10. First presentation of Xts Priesthood
*5:11-10:39. Specific characteristic of Xts Priesthood.
11:1-12:13. Fidelity to Xt thro. His persevering faith.
12:14-13:19. An Orientation of Xtian life.
13:20-25. Conclusion An Epistolary ending.
( II ) Two main themes in Hebrews.
Why is the author of Hebrews interested in answering the priesthood of Jesus.
Xt is in a unique position ie he is closer to God ( preexistence ) Ch 1 Heb. & closer to the human beings ( incarnation death & resurrection )
Xt is higher then the angels. He is the new High Priest, who can perform the priestly duties more perfectly then any other OT priest.
Hence the author shows that Jesus is the center of the priesthood act.
Priest before him were types & all priest after him will derive their priesthood from the fullness of his priesthood. ( priestly Christo criticism )
Ideas in the text:
a) Xt is the eternal ( preexistent ) son & high priest Ch 1; 7:1- 10:18; 13:8-14.
Xt is the mediator between the church & the people.
b) Thro. His humanity he achieves the solidarity which makes him one mediator.
2:11-18; 3:14-15; 5:1-5.
c) His redeeming death has the efficacy of a sacrifice. 6:4; 9;26; 10;2; 12;26.
(ii ) a). ETAMOLOGY : Origin.
for priest Kohen ( Hb ) = person charged with religious function
= a man of the sanctuary;
= the one who has the right to touch the sacred objects.
= one who is admitted in the presence of God.
= a man charged with the offering of sacrifice
= one who utters oracles.
= one who gives blessings.
= one who decides the Qs of ritual purity.
Attadiam – Macepotanapia = Kanu ( Ak ) = to bow, one who bows before the divinity.
Kun = ( Ak ) to stand in the presence of
b) The development of the priesthood idea.
In all religions a priest is one who exercises & officiates religious mediation, by this mediation humankind is able to enter into relations that are infinitely transcendent ( beyond ) to him.
The priest is both, human & Gods representative, As Gods representative he communicates Gods will for human kind, thro oracles , prophecies, the wd of God etc.
This is his Descending function, He communicates Gods will for human kind.
His Ascending function is He also takes peoples worship to God, prayers & sacrifice
On what authority does the Priest exercise mediation, on the authority of an indwelling power.
This power comes from 2 possible sources.
a) Natural position in society, ie head of the tribe, king, patriarch..
b) By induction in to priestly class, either by birth or choice of the community.
c) How did Priesthood begin in Israel., there are 2 possible theories.
Monolithic – from the very beginning of the Bible Israel had a very organized priesthood, every thing was spelt out role, functions etc
Ex 32:25-29. Levitical priesthood originated with Moses.
Nos 1:47-54; Deu 18:2> had no portion & cup.
Evolutionistic Theory: A plurality ( many ) of independent priestly tribe & class were merged into one Levitical priestly class over a period of time.
1. Abraham to David called the pre monarchial time 1800-1000BC
The cultural functions were not restricted to members of any particular group, but based on natural factors
Gen 22:12 Abrahams sacrifice Gen 46:1 Jacobs sacrifice
Jud 6:25-26 Gideon Jud 13:16-26. Samson’s father
All these were not related to any sanctuary. As Israel grows in to nation there comes into existence the office of priesthood, these priest fn in various santuries
1 Sam 1-3 Shiloh Joshua 4:19 Gilgol Jud 18:30 Daniel
Their task was to utter oracles, take care of sacred objects
Sacrifice was left with the natural priests= position in society, head of the family, patriarchs, kings.
2. Period of the monarchy David- exile 1000 – 587 BC.
The natural priesthood is now invented in to the king,
The king is Yahweh representative before the people Ps 2:6.
The King is also peoples representative before Yahweh. 1 King 8:14 King blesses the assembly.
The King therefore exercises a double mediation. He is a priest King 2 Sam 6:13 David offers sac.
The Climax is in Israel victorious king being proclaimed priest for ever Ps 110:2, 4.
Zadok, Abithan, Adomijah 1 Kings 2:26>
Joshua – He suppressed all sanctuaries, worship only in Jerusalem.
The priest became very powerful 2 Kings 12: 7 – 10; 25:18 chief priest – second priest.
The priest had 3 functions:
1. utter oracles.
2. Instruct the People in the law.
3. Offer Sacrifice.
3. Post Exile Period. 538 BC >
After the exile there were more kings. Sacrifice became the privilege of the Lavitcal priests.
The oracular function now belonged to the prophets.
The teaching of the law was now the duty of the scribes & Theologians
The offering of sacrifice became the main function of the priests
By the time of Jesus the cultic priesthood was the only thing
‘sacrifice is offered only by priests, only sacrifice is offered by priests’
The priest became responsible for all affairs of the Jewish community. The high priest was also given a political role
CONCLUSION : The Levitical priesthood had it limits, the main restriction bring that Israel expressed the deep reality of sin. Israel desired a perfect priesthooh one that would assume full redemption in the face of her consciousness of sin.
Who would be that priest who would finally save her ( Israel ) hence till time Israel would concentrate on expiating sacrifice Ex Atonement Ch 16. Lev.
The priest carries the sin of the people Upon himself Ex 28; Lev 16:26; ----scape goat.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel—they carried the sins of the people
Suffering servants of Yahweh & offer the perfect sacrifice Is 53:4, 7, 11.
Israel waited for a perfect priest
1. Is there access to God through Jesus.
2. Is there a unique & complete mediation in Jesus
3. Would there be a perfect priest to bring about this mediation.
In the NT we look at the priesthood of Jesus---1 Tim 2:5
Rev 1:13 Refers Jesus; Jesus appearing in to disciples; Calvary; red & white; priesthood of Jesus-high priest.
In the NT Jesus does not call himself a priest, he is made a prophet.
No individual person is called a priest
a) Hebrews speaks of the high priesthood of Jesus, In the context of the OT Jewish priesthood
Jesus priesthood supersedes the OT Jewish priesthood
b) Once & for all the atmosphere that surrounds the priesthood of Jesus & his sacrifice is offered as a reason why there were no priest in the early church.
Jesus is the only priest—Heb 10:12-14.
II.2. SACRIFICE : Deu 33:10.
The sacrificial role of the priest increased during the monarchy, contact with the alter came to be reserved to the priest only, by virtue of their office endowed with a degree of virtual holiness>then that of the rest of the people. ( priest must be virtually pure ) Jer 33:18 Description of a priest
1. Sacrifice became an activity characteristic of a Priest
2. Sacrifice in the OT Lev Ch 1, 5------------- they were 5 types.
a) Burnt Offering ( Holocaust ) of animals Ch 1 Lev – Male c out blemish. This was the most solemn of Israelite sacrifice where the victim was completely burnt Jud 13:20.
b) Meal offering was of the FIRST cereal or fruit, it was also burnt Ch 2.
c) Peace offering was known as communion sacrifice Ch 3—animals & cereals This was to bring about a union c God & the Offerer
d) Sin offering – willful / deliberate actions committed by an individual /country—animals were sacrificed Ch 4:1. An expiation made by the High priest, priest, rulers, whole community Heb 9:22.
e) Guilt offering – not for deliberate action but for being ritually impure Ch 5—animals birds cereals
Burnt Offering: meals offered had nothing to do with sin but expressed ones total surrender c God , it was to celebrate communion c God
Peace offering was of 3 kinds:
a) A sacrifice of praise Lev 7:12-15.
b) A free will sacrifice—which was done out of pure devotion to God Lev 7:16-17.
c) Votive Offering made in fulfillment of a vow Lev : 18-29.
Sin & Guilt offering were to restore communion c God which had been broken because of sin.
Guilt offering was offered by individuals only
The most important of sacrifices was YOM KIPPUR
Day of atonement---------- Heb 9:6>
Once a year ----------- Lev 16:22, 34
Sacrifice & the temple, the temple was divided into 3 sections
In the holy place was the alter of incense, table for the loaves of proposition ( table of show bread ) & 10 candle sticks.
30’*30’*30’ Holy of holies, High priest went here once a yr. Ark of the covenant, table of stone, 2 gold plates Cherubims covering the walls Debur
Curtain, from top to bottom, access to God is now to Jesus Sanctuary. Burn incense here Entry only to the priestly clan
There are 3 common elements in sacrifice :
1. Immolation / Destruction. ……sacrifice can be bloody or non bloody,
blood is spilled for the purification of sin & to restore the bond of union with God
2. Oblation…….The one who sacrifices offers some thing which stands for himself
3. Acceptance…….by God in relation c the OT… fire would come down on the offering,
good odour, smoke rising…..all these are symbols of acceptance by God.
Offering & justice would both go hand in hand.
Unique sacrifice of Jesus :
1. There was Immolation / Destruction that took place on the cross 1 Cor5:7; Eph 5:2.
2. Oblation.. Jesus offered HIMSELF as a victim, He was both a victim & the offerer, this was not forced upon him but willingly done Jn 10:17-18.
It was The Fathers plan by which redemption would take place by Jesus’ death Rom 8:32
3. Acceptance… The element of acceptance is seen in the resurrection. This is shown by the father raising Jesus from the dead.
Did Jesus rise from the death 1 Thes 4:14, or did His father raise him from the death.
Rom 4:24-26; 1 Cor 6:14 ?
Lord = Kairos Gk
Inclination concupiscence = inclination to do bad
Holiness should be well balanced
Body--à should be integrated
Importance of the death of Jesus
Js death is described as a sacrifice using OT figures & symbols 1 Cor 5:7; Jh 1:29; Rev 5:9
Redeeming blood of the covenant, blood has redeeming saving effects
Mk 14:24; Rom 3:25; Eph 1:7; Mk 10:45; Lk 22:19.
The author wants to share 2 things:
1. There is no more need for MORE sacrifice, J has once & for all sacrificed & died for us.
2. He is a high priest, a perfect High priest, immortal, superseding all priests.
Heb 1:1 – 4:13 Heb begins with the Word 1:3a & ends with the Word 4:12
Showing the superiority of Jesus
Who is Jesus Superior to :
Angels… 1:4 .who are mediators between God & man
Moses …3:2 .Joshua .. mediators
Jesus is the perfect mediator.
List of OT citations Heb 1:1 – 4:13.
1:5a=Ps 2:7 1:10a=Ps 102:25-27 2:13b=Is 8:17,18 4:4=Gen2:2
1:5b=2 Sam 7:14 1:11=Is51:6. 3:2=#s12:7. 4:5=Ps 95:11
2:6=Ps 8:1-9 1:13=Ps 110:1 3:7-11=Ps 95:7b-11 4:7=Ps 7-8.
1:7=Ps104:4 2:6b-8=Ps 8:1-9 3:15=Ps 95:7,8.
1:8=Ps 45:6,7 > 2:12=Ps 22:22 > 4:3=Ps 95:11 >
He took citations from the OT not Quotations to support his arguments..
J became a little lower then the angels for a short time, for he died , angels don’t die
1:1 Long ago God spoke = Thus says the Lord
1:2 But in these Last days = With the coming of J the rule of God has begun. It is a new messianic age . It is the time of the parousia the coming of Jesus. The FINAL AGE.
son – angel—angel
1:3a. He is the reflection of Gods glory….Does God have a son, biologically God cannot have a son
When we say son of God=( Theologically speaking) one who has the nature of God.( Gods divine nature ) Personified Wisdom of the OT Wis 7:22.
1:3b Purification for sins—By the redeeming son by his death on the cross
1:3b He sat at the right hand = sign of honour; dignity;, position, power, authority.
No angel was called the son of God
1:4 As the name he inherited = The name JESUS was given to him even before he was born
1:13 foot stool for your feet = symbol of authority.
Death was the greatest enemy that Jesus conquered. Jesus is the supreme mediator between God & man
3:8 Harden not your hearts = exodus ; Moses doubted striking the rock for water, so he was not allowed to enter the promised land.
Rest from wandering, rest in the promised land.
4:13 God knows every thing you cannot hide from God.
TEACHINGS IN HEBREWS :
1. Hebrew gives a sustained & systematic teaching on the priesthood of Jesus. J excels the high priest of the OT & the sacrifice of the OT are surpassed by Jesus sacrifice
2. At the time of Jesus there was no monarchy There were no more kings. Jesus is both a natural priest Ps 110:4, He is called the son of God & a professional priest. Because he is ordained by the father, who swears an oath Heb 5:5; 7:20.
3. As a High priest J offers once & for all the only valid sacrifice, the one perfect sacrifice, This sacrifice is not a cultic rite, but a gift of himself Heb 7:27; 9:24-26; 10:5.
4. The many OT sacrifices offered by the H priests & the other priests could not take away sin
Heb 10:11 Because the offerers were sinful themselves & mortal too 7:23.
Jesus is undefiled sinless & eternal therefore his sacrifice definitively takes away sin & reconciles people with God.
What does the sacrifice do 9:12 it gives us access to the heavenly sanctuary
5. J priesthood & sacrifice makes obsolete all other priesthood & cult. There is only one priest JC & one sacrifice ie the sacrifice of J on the cross. He is the only mediator between God & mankind. He exercises his mediation by his death on earth & his intercession in heaven & thus he definitely brings about the redemption of the world.
Theological Qs – The catholic teaching
The Eucharist is a sacrifice, this is a problematic Q, according to Heb 9:24-28; 10:14. Jesus sacrifice is once & for all, perfect complete & unrepeatable
There are 2 Qs posed by the protestants
1. Is the Eucharist a true sacrifice, does the mass add anything to Xt perfect sacrifice
2. Whose sacrifice is the Eucharist ‘ offer your sacrifice & mine’
Is it Xts sacrifice or the sacrifice of the church
Anger / zeal
2. Church teaching, teaching taken from the Trent council
a. Mass is a visible sacrifice.
b. Mass makes present the true sacrifice on the cross & the MEMORIAL (reminder) of it.
c. In the mass the saving power of Calvary is applied for the remission of sin
d. The mass is sacrifice pleasing & acceptable to God ( propitiatory) because in it Christ is contained & offered
e. The mass is rightfully offered for the living & the dead.
f. Mass in no way compromises Calvary
g. The mass is intimately related c the cross but is not identified c it. The uniqueness of Xts sacrifice can never be compromised
We need to see this at 2 different levels:
a. The historical level ie Xts sacrifice is unique once & for all.
b. The sacramental level the mass belongs to the level of signs & on this level we can speak of the mass as pointing to the historical order. The sacramental level is subordinate to the historical level.
There can be Calvary c out mass, but there can be no mass c out Calvary.
Because of J great love for us he instituted the Eucharist, trough the symbols of bread & wine
We recall Xts sacrifice, but do not repeat it
Echo –voice The echo depends on the voice, if there was no Calvary there would be no mass
(a) -------à(b) a makes a declaration of love to be irrespective of bs reciprocation
God has made a declaration of love thro Jesus.
Even though we do not reciprocate he will WAIT patiently.
He uses the sacraments of the Eucharist to remind us
The Eucharist is a memorial.----Therefore the community must respond c a positive response.