Thursday, April 08, 2010
Peter T. O'Brien on Hebrews
Peter T. O’Brien. The Letter to the Hebrews. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.
This hefty gem just arrived on my desk and I'm reading through it with great satisfaction. Of course, what we all want to know first is what O'Brien thinks of the warning passage in 6.4-8. O'Brien closes his discussion of this section with the words: "Apostasy is a real danger that threatens the community, even though the author of Hebrews does not save that members have already abandoned their faith. But there is no way back from such an abandonment to a renewal of the initial act of repentance. They must avoid the danger at all costs; the point of the warning, and of the encouraging words of vv. 9-12, is to urge the listeners to persevere in faith and obedience" (p. 227). With respect to the "joy" of Jesus in Heb 12.2, O'Brien comments: "Jesus' assumption of the position at the right hand of God represents the joy set before him for the sake of which he endured shame and death. It is the prize that came to him at the end of his race. 'His session at the right hand is the guarantee of the absoluteness of Christ's exaltation and thus the utter security of those who have placed their hope in him' [F.F. Bruce]. When believers, who are still running their race, fix their eyes on Jesus and rely on him for support and help, they know that he is the perfecter of faith who is seated at God's right hand, having endured the cross and shame for them. His exemplary fidelity is understood so as to encourage them to persevere in faithfulness" (p. 458). On the "eternal covenant" of 13.20, O'Brien states: "The new covenant is that eternal covenant: our author uses the adjective eternal in relation to salvation (5:9), judgment (6:2), redemption (9:12), the Spirit (9:14), and inheritance (9:15), all of which are intimately related to the new covenant" (p. 535).