KERUX: A JOURNAL
Editor: James T. Dennison, Jr.
Assistant Editors: Richard A. Riesen and David L. Roth
KERUX is a publication of Kerux, Inc. and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 1131 Whispering Highlands Drive, Escondido, CA 92027-4961. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $15.00 (U.S. and Canada); $20.00 (elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U.S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in Old Testament Abstracts, Washington, DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in Religion Index One, Evanston, IL and the Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.
ISSN: 0888-8513 May 1995 Vol. 10, No. 1
With this issue, Kerux reaches something of a milestone. We have reached our tenth publishing year, by the grace of God. During the past decade, we have concentrated on the biblical-theological dimension of the word of God particularly as it impacts the preaching of the Old and New Testaments. It is the view of the editors that this perspective—organic, redemptive-historical, eschatological and Reformed—is found uniquely in the pages of our journal. It remains the goal of the editors to stimulate and encourage our readers with continued Christological, soteriological and eschatological insights as they are found in the pages of the inspired Scriptures. We welcome manuscripts of sermons and biblical exposition consistent with our biblical-theological vision.
We are also pleased to announce that Kerux has been accepted for indexing in Religion Index One (RIO). This index is the standard index to religious periodical literature in the United States and is distributed by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) of Evanston, Illinois. RIO is currently available in hard copy and CD-ROM format with cumulation from 1949. Kerux is now abstracted or indexed by four major research tools: Religion Index One, Elenchus of Biblica, Old Testament Abstracts and Religious and Theological Abstracts.
Balaam, the Magi and Herod: A Study of Continuity in God's Revelation and Redemptive Historical Preaching
Stuart R. Jones
I. Two Styles: Static and Dynamic
Redemptive-historical preaching, in opposition to the moralistic method, strives to understand the text of Scripture in its unique historical context, with a view toward what the text tells us about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Part of what defines the uniqueness of a text is determined by what makes it different from similar incidents or lessons in other parts of the Bible.
The moralistic sermon is not necessarily devoid of reference to Christ. Such a sermon will often conclude with an orthodox call to repent of moral failure in reliance upon Christ. The standard schematic of a Puritan sermon was to preach the law, induce a sense of helplessness, and conclude with the grace offered in Christ. In such a sermon, emphasis must fall on some sort of moral continuity between the text and the moral responsibility of the hearer. How would one then accomplish a Puritan "law work" using the case laws of Exodus 21, for example? Some search for moral continuity is required. Modern theonomy regards the Westminster Confession as providing justification
for the search on the "general equity" provision of that creed.
Those who approach texts with redemptive-history as the guiding interest do not necessarily deny moral continuities, but are concerned to give place to the discontinuity which has been especially informed by eschatology. The old order must be regarded as preparatory for the fullness of redemption in Christ. In debate, the two different emphases can become characterized in the worst possible light as examples of pharisaic legalism or dispensational-antinomianism.
Here it will be suggested that there are different kinds of continuity between the Old Testament and the New which need to be appreciated as background for sermon formulation. If Redemptive-History is dynamic, which it by definition must be, how do we avoid radical temporal relativism? Moral continuities are more easily grasped by the common audience and so what has been called "moralistic preaching" has had an easy acceptance among rank and file Christians seeking practical help in their lives. A sermon on Samson and the need for self-control can be easily applied, even if the same sermon can be preached using Esau.
While redemptive-historical sermons on Old Testament texts may emphasize the promise-fulfillment schema, this schema may still presuppose enduring core moral values, e.g., sexual and moral self-control. In fact, under this schema, the sermon will note that greater resources of grace are available to the child of God under the new creation order, supplied with Christ's resurrection power. There is, therefore, less excuse for moral failure and greater reason for hope of change. Indeed, the resurrection becomes a basic presupposition for any call to "morality" which is, in New Testament terms, a call to Christ likeness. Such a call will have real grace to back it. In addition, the redemptive-historical approach does not immediately separate the individual and his religious experience from the community which is in Christ. This enables organic ties to be made to the Old Testament community rather than seeking isolated moral lessons in the lives of individuals.
Some will urge a hybrid of the two preaching styles. The danger of an uncritical adoption of this position is that the resulting sermon will in fact be a moralistic sermon with a little more emphasis added on grace and Christ's
resurrection. The new schema will do little to highlight the fundamental organic unity of the Old and New Testaments. The dramatic development of God's plan over time is still too easily treated as extraneous material. Individual religious experience, important as it is, still largely leaves the corporate life of the believer in connection with the church, in total eclipse.
II. Issues in Matthew Chapter Two
The story of the Magi in Matthew 2 provides an interesting text for examining different themes and issues confronting the preacher seeking to prepare a faithful sermon. One typical moralistic sermon on this chapter will talk about the need for seeking Jesus. "The Magi took the effort to seek Jesus. The inhabitants of Jerusalem stayed home." This pious thought, though not wrong in itself, does not capture the fullness of the issues resident in the chapter. At least three major themes exist in this chapter which need examination for us to suggest a redemptive-historical way of viewing continuity in the Bible.
Perhaps Robert H. Gundry (Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art) has captured one of the more central issues of this chapter, particularly that dealing with the slaughter of the innocents, when he heads part of his exposition as a preview of Jewish calamities resulting from the rejection of Jesus. He also believes that the Balaam prophesy of Jacob's star resides in the background of the Magi experience, though the connection is not strongly demonstrated. In addition, most commentators recognize an obvious parallel in this chapter with Pharoah's campaign to destroy the male newborns in Exodus.
These three different lines of thought provide enough material for three different sermons allowing for organic comparisons and progression, viz., Jewish rejection of the Christ previewed, Jacob's Star fulfilled, and fulfillment of Pharoah's struggle against the promised seed.
The first sermon makes Herod's actions prophetic or preparatory. The last two potential sermons make Christ's coming a fulfillment of older biblical events. Of course, that latter two sermons might also focus on a preliminary character of the events in chapter two leading to the manifestation of
Christ to all nations and the ultimate resurrection victory of Christ against the political powers that put him to shame.
The three suggested sermons have been structured with a dynamic promise-fulfillment schema, while a continuous presupposition exists that men should receive or seek Christ.
III. The Mystery of the Cross: A Key to God's Historical Works
Simply preaching an abstract schema of promise and fulfillment using Herod and the Magi does not reach the goal of the Scripture to place Christ at the center of our message. Certain details in Matthew chapter two take us to another level of continuity in God's historical actions revealing a mysterious aspect of his method of salvation. Certain parallels which seem literary or coincidental require deeper consideration.
One factor or irony in this chapter is that Magi, who normally would be connected to paganism and astrology in Babylon or Persia, are given divine insight while looking at the stars. The fact that the divine insight they receive is not full or sufficient in itself is instructive. We find them forced to travel to Jerusalem and to ask questions which can only be answered from the Old Testament Scriptures. Certain points can be made in a sermon about the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture and the accountability and reachability of the heathen m Africa (or Persia) from these verses. Such points are not the central issue of the chapter, however.
Examining the text more closely, we notice that the exposition of Micah, pointing to Bethlehem as Messiah's birthplace, is not related to the Magi by the expected source, viz., the scribes. It is rather Herod, informed by the Jewish leaders, who transmits this information in secret. Again we have some sermon points that are possible. God requires that we consult special revelation to find the Christ, but he is not limited in how that revelation can be delivered. His sovereign power means he can make his enemies prophetic voices for the truth. Though this sounds like a pious addendum which does not constitute the central theme of the chapter, it is an observation with a striking similarity to the Balaam situation in Numbers 22-24.
Some continuities between the testaments are obvious. The overweening political ambitions of Pharoah, Herod the Great, and the leaders who put Christ to death all mark the struggle of the kingdoms of this world against the Kingdom of God. The continuity extends to the moral depravity and desperation of those who oppose the Lord and his anointed. This moral-political continuity which is highlighted by the murder of innocents is a central thematic line of the Bible—witness the enmity of the seed lines outlined in Genesis chapter three.
A deeper look at the continuity of these incidents, widely separated in time, exposes certain ironies or antithetic parallels. The Hebrew midwives of Exodus disobey authority and lie about their actions in saving the male children of Israel. The chief priests and scribes tell Herod the truth, but thereby expose the Messiah to danger. Their fidelity to the earthly authority constitutes a proto-Judas stance. The Hebrew midwives are blessed with children while Bethlehem loses her children. Jerusalem's children will suffer later. This deeper parallelism places a special light on the problem of falsehood and the Hebrew midwives. Though their lying to Pharoah is not the central issue, it is clear that truthful betrayal is the thing which is more reprehensible and basic to the religious leaders. Juxtaposing Exodus with Matthew may presuppose "intrusion" ethics or war morality. It more certainly presupposes the evil of a truthful betrayal.
In returning to Jacob's star, we see another possible example of the deeper continuity of an antithetical parallel. The possibility of a parallel between Balaam and the Magi is already in place when we consider that these individuals all come from the east, have questionable religious credentials, and are called to travel to the habitation of God's people. That the Magi bring gifts with the intention of worshipping while Balaam comes as a response to payment for rendering a curse, points to an antithetic parallel.
Herod's Idumean background and the complicity of Midianites in opposing God's people (e.g., Gen. 37:28) may form another slight connection for the testaments. In any event, we have noted that one sermon point can be made from Herod's giving the prophetic word to the Magi. This same point holds for Balaam and his blessing of Israel. In addition to blessing Israel, Balaam tells of the star that will come out of Jacob. This prophecy of the
coming Messiah receives its fulfillment in Bethlehem and its signifying miracle in the astronomical phenomenon observed by the Magi. At the same moment an inimical Herod points the Magi to Christ in Bethlehem—an actual parallel to the Messianic light prophesied by an inimical Balaam.
IV. The Continuity of the Gospel and God's
Mysterious Use of the Wicked.
A synthetic interpretation of the historical events we have examined leads to the principle that God turns the deeds of the wicked to salvation. No where is this more importantly demonstrated than at the cross where a wicked man rightly prophesied that it was expedient that one man die rather than that the nation perish. The connections we have sketched reach beyond superficial similarities into the deepest wisdom of God's counsel. From the Old Testament and from Herod the Great, we learn that the goodness and greatness of God does not simply overpower evil; it harnesses wicked men to complete his purposes. Less clarity of how this method will work is present in the time of Balaam, but the principle is present. On one level, Balaam is a lesson about God's sovereignty. At a more vital level, it is sovereignty over wickedness employed to save God's people. His sovereignty not only makes prophecy come to pass; it makes prophets in unexpected places. Not all prophets will be saved, however.
Awareness of the mystery of God in using enemies to bring salvation provides the orthodox preacher with a special insight into interpreting the text. Though wonderful insights into the text of Scripture can be attained by doing linguistic, thematic, literary, and structural analysis, the secularized Bible scholar is always trying to enter the mind of the human author only. This approach involves a Matthew who transforms Old Testament materials to suit his purposes in accord with the dogmatic disposition of the church in his day. Though the subject of adapting materials is interesting and potentially helpful at times, undue reliance on this approach not only compromises the divine authorship of Scripture, it also forfeits the advantage of knowing that God controls history and acts according to certain principles that leave their mark in redemptive-history. Knowing what the cross and resurrection mean in our salvation and what they tell us about God is the most important
starting point in interpreting the text of Scripture and forming a faithful sermon. Out of this knowledge, technical studies gain their value.
First Orthodox Presbyterian Church
The Eschatological Aspect of
James T. Dennison, Jr.
The doctrine of justification is not central to Paul's theology. It may be central to Luther's theology, but not to the theology of the apostle Paul. In fact, justification is not a forensic category in Paul. Forensic justification may be crucial to Luther's theology, but not to Paul's. Luther misread Paul in the light of his experience with post-medieval Catholicism. Catholicism of Luther's day urged the securing of God's favor by good works. Luther then read this Roman Catholic view back on to first century Judaism. But Luther completely misunderstood first century Judaism. First century Judaism was not a religion of meritorious works; rather it was a religion of grace and mercy from which good works flow. In fact, first century Judaism balanced grace and works as much as Luther himself wished to do. We must stop reading Paul with Lutheran glasses. We must stop seeing first century Judaism through reactionary sixteenth century Protestant binoculars.
Now that I have your attention, let me acknowledge that the preceding summary of Paul's doctrine of justification and Palestinian Judaism is not mine. It is the gist of a bombshell which burst upon New Testament studies in 1977 from the pen of Edwin P. Sanders. Sanders' revisionist crusade against the Lutheran doctrine of justification in Paul has been seconded and advanced by numerous scholars—most notably James G. Dunn. Sanders and Dunn are unabashed in the revisionist interpretation of Paul. Paul's doctrine of justification is not primarily forensic. Paul's view of the "works of the law"
in first century Judaism does not attribute Pelagianism to the Jewish system. Luther was, quite simply, wrong!
The Sanders thesis represents a paradigm shift in Pauline theology. To date (to my knowledge), no Reformed scholar has answered Sanders' reconstruction. I do not propose to fill that vacuum in twenty minutes.
The doctrine of justification is no barrier to joint Evangelical-Roman Catholic mission. In the face of a hostile post-modern world, Evangelicals and Catholics must unite in their common commitment to the gospel. Since Evangelicals and Catholics jointly confess justification by grace through faith because of Christ, surely that is sufficient common ground to declare an end to centuries of Protestant-Catholic polemics. Furthermore, if the polemics are no longer relevant, mutual proselytizing is inappropriate if not downright un-Christian. Evangelicals and Catholics should recognize one another as in a state of grace and put aside differences which keep us apart.
The preceding summary of Evangelical and Roman Catholic relations is not mine. It is the gist of a bombshell which burst upon the Protestant and Catholic world last spring in a document entitled "Evanglicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium." The document "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" represents a paradigm shift in Protestant-Catholic relations. The doctrine of justification has been defined in a Roman Catholic sense with the result that Evangelicals are signing a statement which repudiates the Reformation principle of sola fide.
We are being pressed by the radical revisionists in New Testament scholarship to redefine the Pauline doctrine of justification. We are being pressed by the radical pragmatists in conservative Catholic and Evangelical circles to redefine the Pauline doctrine of justification. We have been blindsided by the radical scholars of the left. Revisionist liberalism is ever kicking the traces in the interest of destroying the past for the progressively enlightened future. But we have been betrayed by the pragmatic scholars on the right. Evangelicalism, in its lust for cultural power and influence, has surrendered the heart of the Pauline theology to indifference and irrelevance. Perhaps modern Evangelicalism is as liberal, progressive and revisionist at heart as the radical New Testament scholars themselves.
The fatal flaw in both these approaches to justification is the failure to comprehend the centrality of Christ. Sanders and Dunn are majoring in the quest for historic Judaism—interestingly, that Judaism turns out to be amazingly similar to their own modern brand of Protestantism. The signers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together are majoring in Christian mission reduced to the lowest common denominator—namely cultural counter-attack. Both sides have de-emphasized Christ himself and particularly the eschatological aspect of Paul's doctrine of justification.
The eschatological aspect of Paul's doctrine of justification should not be construed as a threat to the forensic formulation essential to historic Protestantism. The eschatological aspect of justification does not supplant the forensic—it deepens and enriches it. The forensic aspect has been classically associated with Christ's active and passive obedience, that is, his life and his death. The eschatological aspect is associated with Christ's vindication, that is, his resurrection. Paul's classic conjunction of justification and resurrection is found in our text Romans 4:25—"[Jesus] was raised again for our justification." This dynamic of resurrection and justification is alluded to by the apostle in 1 Timothy 3:16 ("[Christ] was justified in the Spirit"), Romans 1:3-4 ("[Christ] was declared to be the Son of God with power by resurrection from the dead"). And Paul concretely identifies the life of the believer with the risen Christ in Romans 6:4 ("as Christ was raised from the dead . . . so too may we walk in newness of life"), Colossians 3:1, 2 ("if then you have been raised up with Christ, set your minds on things above"), Ephesians 2:4-5 ("God . . . because of his great love with which he loved us . . . made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together").
But specifically what does the resurrection of Christ have to do with our justification? It is easy for us to understand what the righteous life of Christ has to do with our justification—it is the righteousness which, when imputed to us, constitutes us right with God. And it is easy for us to understand what the bloody death of Christ has to do with our justification—it is the covering for our guilt whereby we are forgiven all our sins. But how does the resurrection of Christ account for our justification? The resurrection of Christ accounts for our justification because the resurrection of Christ was his justification. His story is our story—his justification is our justification. What do I
mean by the statement "Jesus was justified"?
Well perhaps we should begin with the condemnation of Jesus. Jesus was condemned—condemned to bear the wages of sin—condemned to the curse of the grave—accounted worthy of death—accounted to be sin itself. And that means he descended into hell—he was separated from God—he endured the wrath of the Father—he was judged "guilty".
But sin, and guilt and the grave could not hold him. The curse could not bind him. The final judgment of Jesus could not sustain the charge "guilty of condemnation." He rose—Jesus of Nazareth rose up from the grave—God did not leave his soul in hell. The resurrection of Jesus is the declaration that he is not guilty. The resurrection of Jesus is the declaration that he is righteous. The resurrection of Jesus is his justification. No more condemnation for Jesus of Nazareth—no more death for Jesus of Nazareth—no more curse for Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus has been justified by resurrection.
The last things fell upon Jesus—death, condemnation, wrath. But Jesus lives! The eschatological realities fell upon Jesus—the grave, judgment, punishment. But Jesus is alive forevermore! The resurrection of Jesus is the display of the eschatological realities in advance of the consummation. The resurrection of Jesus is the moving forward of the end-time realities into the midst of time. He goes through the final judgment on the cross. He goes to the grave—in the garden. He descends to the hellish torments of God's wrath—in his agony. But his body is raised from the dead on Easter morning. His soul is released from God's wrath and reunited with his body—on Easter morning. His body and soul stand before his friends and disciples declaring that the last judgment is past for him and he has been justified by the Father—all on Easter morning.
The eschatological has appeared in the Christological. Eschatological judgment is past—for Christ. Eschatological wrath is past—for Christ. Eschatological resurrection is past—for Christ. Eschatological justification is past—for Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the eschatological declaration that he has been justified—justified once and for all! The resurrection of Jesus is his justification.
But Paul says in our text "he was raised for our justification." Do you see
it? Do you see what Paul sees? Christ's justification is our justification. We are justified in his justification. When he was made sin, he was made sin for us. When he died, we died with him. When he entered into the judgment and was condemned, we were condemned with him. When he endured the wrath of God, he took that wrath in our place. And when he was acquitted by resurrection, we were acquitted. When he was declared not guilty by resurrection, we were declared not guilty. When he was raised up, we were raised up together with him. When he was justified—justified by resurrection—we were justified. The eschatological has appeared for us—in the Christological. Eschatological death is past for us—Jesus paid it all. Eschatological judgment is past for us—Jesus endured it all. Eschatological wrath is past for us—Jesus bore it all. Eschatological righteousness is present for us—Jesus has it all. Eschatological forgiveness is present for us—Jesus gives it all. Eschatological life is present for us—Jesus lives it all.
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—no condemnation!
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—no more wrath!
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—no more death!
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—you are justified!
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—you are forgiven!
Even now to those who are in Christ Jesus—you have been raised from the dead!
Well then, why do we appear in the final judgment at Christ's second coming? Certainly not to jeopardize the eschatological character of his justification and our justification in him. Rather we will be, together with Christ, the justification of God, for we shall reveal that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus on that great day.
He was raised for our justification—we have now been justified and
yet will be justified.
He was raised for our justification—we have now been raised up and
yet will be raised up.
He was raised for our justification—we have now been seated in heavenly
places and yet will be seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
It is precisely at this point—the eschatological character of justification that neither broad evangelicals, Roman Catholics or radicals like Sanders and Dunn grasp the unique character of the Pauline theology. In interpreting Paul through the grid of first century Judaism, the radicals fail to understand the unique role of the resurrection of the Son of God—for you see it was a resurrected Christ that stopped Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. In interpreting Paul through the grid of twentieth century pragmatism, broad Evangelicals and Catholics fail to understand the "once and for all", the eschatological character of Jesus' own justification by resurrection. What could any sinner—even one in a state of grace—add to it?!
We, upon whom the end of the age has come, we can follow neither deviation. For we know—even now—we know that Jesus was raised for our justification. And we know that He will yet raise us up justified to behold the face of his Father forever.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Charles W. Colson, "Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium." First Things 43 (May 1994): 15-22.
James D. G. Dunn, "The New Perspective on Paul." Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library 65/2 (Spring 1983): 95-122.
______________, Christian Liberty. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994.
______________, The Justice of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994.
E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977.
___________, Paul, the Law and the Jewish People. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.
What is the Gospel?
Charles G. Dennison
In 1927 J. Gresham Machen wrote an article for The Union Seminary Review to reply to John Allan MacLean who had written for the Review the previous year. Machen noted the responses to a survey MacLean had conducted in his congregation on the very important question "What is the gospel?" While he reflected with gentle criticism on the responses from the people, Machen was undoubtedly frustrated with MacLean.
Without attacking MacLean directly, Machen responded to an obvious indifference in MacLean's article to the great threat of modernism. He also addressed the failure of the article to deal with the mistaken impression that the gospel is a message about personal experiences and obligations. The dominant note in MacLean's analysis was heard in such question-begging statements as "The meaning of 'the Gospel' to each individual is really his personal reaction to it" (MacLean's emphasis) and ". . . the Gospel . . . is the individual reaction to its teachings."
For Machen the gospel is summarized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4: "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and . . . was buried, and . . . rose again the third day according to the scripture." These words do not express directions about a way of life or "a complex of worthy ideals"; much less do they express the personal reaction or feelings of those who might identify with them. The gospel is the good news about what Jesus did in his death and resurrection. Machen said, ". . . the rehearsal of what [Jesus] did
constitutes the center of the good news upon which Christianity depends."
My interest in preaching to you today is to build on Machen's clearheaded commitment. I want to look again into the question "What is the gospel?" so that we might appreciate what's so good about the good news. But rather than appealing to the apostle Paul as Machen did, I turn to the gospel of Matthew for consideration of a passage in which Jesus himself spoke about the good news. I have in mind Matthew 11 and the account of Jesus' meeting with the disciples of John the Baptist in which Jesus says that, in his ministry, the poor have the gospel proclaimed to them (v. 5).
You will remember that John earlier had no trouble recognizing Jesus at the Jordan as the promised one (Mt. 3). The God of Israel had trained his eyes in the desert through revelation; and now he saw in Jesus a glory beyond what this dark world was able to comprehend.
It may well have been a winter's day when Jesus approached John at the Jordan. But John's heart was not cold to the Son of God. He baptized with water but here was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Mt. 3:11). "I have need of baptism by you," John confessed, "and do you come to me?" Before the encounter closed, John witnessed further revelation—the voice of the Father after the descent of the Spirit dovelike upon the Son. What confirmation! John did not ask for more.
The fourth gospel provides evidence for the depth of John's satisfaction with Jesus. "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." So John testified to his disciples some forty days later when Jesus came out of the Judean wilderness (John 1:29). Nor did John begrudge Jesus the disciples who had left him to follow Jesus. In fact, that summer as Jesus' disciples, some of whom had been followers of John, carried on their own ministry of baptism in Judea, John was questioned by those still with him (John 3:26ff.). They worried that Jesus' popularity might mean the end of their own unique service for the coming kingdom. But John sees things clearly. "He must increase, but I must decrease," he tells them. "I am only the friend of the bridegroom," he continued. "My joy is to hear the bridegroom's voice.
After all, he who comes from above is above all."
And then, as the Spirit grabbed hold of this last of the Old Testament prophets and gave him the most mature voice equal to any ever heard in the history of revelation, John said, "the Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands. He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
So, John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the promised one, the Messiah. In fact, it is difficult to imagine any more mature, any fuller recognition by anyone, even by a post-Pentecost apostle, who had been witness to the risen Christ and had been blessed by the gift of the Spirit.
But winter returned and, about one year after Jesus' baptism, John was arrested. He was taken into custody by Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. John had condemned Antipas's adulterous marriage to Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Now, John sat imprisoned possibly in Machaerus, Antipas's castle east of the Dead Sea.
Here he received reports, carried by his disciples and others, about Jesus' Galilean ministry. With the mounting number of reports, John's uneasiness grew. He heard nothing in them about Jesus' condemnation of Herod. But what is more, he heard nothing in them that sounded much like the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. Where was the axe laid to the root of the tree, the chaff separated from the wheat and burned by an unquenchable flame (Mt. 3:10-12)?
Still, the memories from that day at the Jordan persisted and, along with them, the power of the revelation John had been privileged to behold. "How could I have been wrong?" he asked himself. "Surely, the Messiah brings recompense. He most certainly brings God's wrath upon the apostate in Israel and upon a wicked world." John knew his captors were in jeopardy as were also the corrupt and usurpacious establishment in Jerusalem. They would be destroyed, the morally vile exterminated, the religiously compromised and indifferent removed, and the nations judged.
John understood that those prepared for this conflagration by his baptism would come through the Messiah's judgments of the Spirit and fire to enjoyment of the incomparable riches of God's eternal kingdom. But, now, John wonders at the reports about Jesus. He asks, "Where's the judgment?" Still clinging to his bond with Jesus and quite sensitive to the dangers of his own situation (the Messianic visitation should mean his release and vindication), John dispatches his disciples to Jesus with the question, "Are you the one, or should we look for someone else?" (Mt. 11:3).
Jesus' response to this inquiry, we are confident, will register well upon John. It will bring the fresh breezes of new life to this man who sits in a dungeon proximate to death. Jesus' response will minister a bold faith as John's last days draw near.
In words designed by love and for comfort, Jesus says, "Go tell John the things you see and hear." But note, Jesus is not content to leave John's disciples on their own when it comes to what they hear and see. Yes, they have ears and eyes. But Jesus goes on to tell them what they are seeing and hearing. We have here no rehearsal of brute facts. In other words, Jesus interprets for John's disciples what they have witnessed (Mt. 11:5).
Jesus casts his interpretation in familiar tones, recognizable to all who love the promises from the prophets about the great day of coming redemption. He draws his comments from two texts, Isaiah 35:5, 6 and Isaiah 61:1. Both of these passages speak with extraordinary force about God's coming visitation to this world.
But Jesus does some interesting things in his quotations. First, he adds two categories to his listing not mentioned by Isaiah in either chapter 35 or 61. To the blind receiving sight, the lame the power to walk, the deaf the ability to hear, and the poor the comfort of the good news, Jesus adds the cleansed lepers and the raised dead. If nothing else, Jesus' additions heighten the sense of blessing belonging to God's marvellous visitation. The old categories are exceeded, even when they are at their most glorious. Truly, the blessings belonging to God's visitation are greater than what was imagined,
greater than what even John imagined. What Jesus has brought is not less than John should hope for; it is more.
Secondly, Jesus cites the two Isaian passages in the most interesting way. He picks up his citation of Isaiah 35 precisely at the point the prophesy ceases its mention of God's vengeance and recompense. Verse 4 says:
Say to them that are of fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you."
But verse 5 goes on:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
We might think nothing of this, if Jesus had not moved on to quote from Isaiah 61:1 along the same lines; he says nothing of the vengeance mentioned in the second verse. Jesus' intent is even more clear in Luke 4:18, 19, where he quotes the promise from Isaiah 61 to the very point at which vengeance is introduced.
Now, the fact that Jesus picks up his quote of Isaiah 35 where mention of vengeance ceases and he concludes his reference to Isaiah 61 before mention of vengeance begins does not mean he had abandoned the certainty of God's coming judgment. Jesus believed in the "unquenchable fire" as much as John; no, even more. He is not editing the judgment out of his definition of the kingdom as liberalism has supposed. By avoiding mention of the judgment in his response to John, Jesus calls attention to the way in which the kingdom of heaven arrives and presently asserts itself without denying its future consummate appearance.
Machen reflected on this double reality to the kingdom in his response to MacLean. "[The] kingdom of Jesus' teaching was both present and future," Machen said, "and to ignore that second feature is to misunderstand the Gospels from beginning to end." At the same time and very much to the point, to ignore the first feature and the specific relationship between the present and the future of the kingdom leads to a misunderstanding of the gospels from
beginning to end.
This was John's problem as he sat in prison: he could not separate the kingdom's presence from his expectation of immediate judgment. By the same token, he could not lay aside his conviction that this judgment must precede promised blessing.
Jesus' response to John not only sets out the present reality of the kingdom in himself and in his ministry but boldly declares, "No, John, not judgment before blessing but blessing, nothing less than future blessing, before judgment!" Here is content as essential to the gospel as the basic record of Christ's redemptive acts on the cross and in the resurrection. In fact, here is the meaning of those acts as even Paul makes plain in 1 Corinthians 15:3 where he says, "Christ died for our sins...." The forgiveness of our sins through Christ's death means living in the presence of our future acquittal before the face of God.
Here is good news to the poor. In the gospel the future, eternal blessings of the heavenly kingdom have arrived. The marvels and wonders of glories are communicated presently. They are not wholly reserved for a point beyond judgment. Rather they are present as gracious evidence that the age of fulfillment of God's promises has begun for us and in us through Jesus Christ our Lord. We move toward consummation while the world above and beyond the consummation works in us, even superimposes itself upon us in our present suffering.
After all, Jesus, in Matthew's gospel, is identified as Immanuel, "God with us" (1:23). That is to say, our Savior has not left us but continues with us, his very person overlaying our humiliation in this present world (cf. 28:20). We, the poor and his church, have been exceedingly enriched despite the privation and affliction that comes to us on account of him to whom we are bound. Through Jesus Christ, God's future presence with us in glory is being communicated to us, now. This, John is being taught in his stinking prison cell.
But doesn't such an analysis of the gospel from Matthew 11 demand that
we recognize the miracles listed there by Jesus as a perpetual testimony to the presence of the kingdom? Should we not look for the continuation of such miracles, today? Are they not to be expected currently as indispensable content to the gospel?
This brings before us another reason for Jesus' additions to the Isaian texts. The specific categories of the healed lepers and raised dead force us beyond the mere physical tragedies to the supreme spiritual impossibilities answered only in the gospel. Leprosy cured points to the moral pollution it typified removed. The dead raised points to death defeated.
The good news, therefore, cannot be lepers cured to suffer reinfection later, nor can it be tied to the religious monstrosity of corpses raised for a few more years here only to die again. The continuing ministry of the kingdom, to which the healing ministries of Jesus and the apostles attest, bestows the greater blessing of cleansing from sin (as seen in healing lepers) and eternal life (as seen in the raising of the dead). All of the others in Isaiah's and Jesus' lists—the blind, the lame, the deaf, the poor—must be interpreted in this way.
Though it is difficult for many to understand, the cure from disease and the deliverance from poverty are actually the lesser blessings, even in heaven. In fact, the inability to see this, or to hear this truth, or to walk in its light leaves us short of the gospel's true message and hopelessly groping for something of this world as the gospel's content. At this level, the miracles become a hindrance to the gospel. While essential to Jesus' ministry and to the foundational ministry of the apostles and prophets in the New Testament, the miracles are left out of current kingdom ministry as a mercy to us.
However, we must not overlook the liabilities loaded even into the categories of the cleansed lepers and the raised dead. Despite their spiritual orientation, they can be used in the interests of a "this-world message." For example, forgiveness of sins (as seen in healing of the lepers) can be turned into mere therapy, confidence in it made only a means for coping with guilt. How sad that some who stress justification by faith push this great doctrine along these lines. In other words, justification is thought to have value because of its potential for making us feel better about ourselves in this world, not because of the way it binds us to eternity and to God.
It is important to note that justification as therapy was no help to John in prison. Such an approach is treasured by those whose interest and orientation is this life. But John's life in this world was about to end. So, something else must minister to this poor man. John must receive back his disciples with something other than a promise that his captivity would end in release from his earthly cell. He must receive their message as gospel, good news and, in so doing, grasp that eternal blessing has arrived in Jesus and that Jesus, God's Son and his Savior, has come to grant such kingdom blessing as prelude not simply as postlude to the coming judgment.
To believe otherwise leaves John short of the gospel and a prisoner still. Sadly, too many professed Christians are in this very situation.
Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church
What Should I Read on the Epistle
James T. Dennison, Jr.
In 1975, D. J. Rowston wrote that the epistle of Jude was "the most neglected book in the New Testament."1 Since then, the epistle has been the object of considerable attention by numerous scholars, most notably Richard P. Bauckham, Harry Harm, J. Daryl Charles, Duane F. Watson, Jerome H. Neyrey and E. R. Wendland. Bauckham's commentary in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Volume 50) is currently the standard work on the letter. But Charles has made considerable progress on unpacking the meaning and structure in a more penetrating literary and theological analysis. The fruits of his research are available in his doctoral dissertation, Literary Strategy in the Epistle of Jude (1991, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia), a monograph reprint of the dissertation with the same title (1993, Associated University Presses) and a forth-coming commentary.
The history of exegesis of Jude has moved from patristic doctrinalism to medieval allegorism to Reformation confessionalism to post-Enlightenment criticism. The modern neglect of the epistle is directly related to its dark character—judgment, wrath, condemnation—all anathema to the post-Enlightenment Pollyanna mind. In modern liberal circles, it has been easy to dismiss this epistle as a rabid diatribe by a dyspeptic Judaizer—or some other ecclesiastical "outsider" who assumed the name of the Lord's brother in order to ingratiate himself to the religious establishment. These old, tired liberalisms are slowly dying under the awareness that Jude (as the other Catholic
Epistles) is directed to a Christian community struggling for orthodox fidelity. If the "faith once delivered to the saints" (v. 3) is at risk, it is at risk from those inside the church who have a different agenda than that of the apostolic tradition.
The setting of Jude's letter makes it relevant to every era in which genuine Christianity clashes with counterfeit Christianity. Modern aberrations over the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the role of moral imperatives in the Christian life—all these errors were present in Jude's church. And the brilliant contribution of Jude is to reduce all these errors to one common denominator—the priority of pleasure. If ever a theme were reflective of the situation in contemporary Christianity, surely this is it! Jude speaks to the church in her present setting. His words have the bite of a New Testament prophet.
And yet what Jude says is as capable of reductionism today as it was in the writer's own day. If the pursuit of pleasure is sin, then Jude's stern warnings are a handy list of do's and don'ts (with disastrous concomitants threatened). How convenient for a culture awash in pornography, abortion, crime, homosexuality. Interestingly, Jude's culture was awash with these vices, but he does not bash the libertines of his world. He is concerned rather with the church. The locus of his focus is on the Christian community—not the world in general. Why do I draw out this point? Because the church's recent efforts to make-over the world through political action campaigns, human rights drives, social consciousness railings have miserably failed. By comparison, the world is worse off today than it was before the mainline Christian bodies discovered social action. Lest conservative Christians boast, I need only mention the fundamentalist Moral Majority. We should pause to ask if there is not something divinely fitting about this. Does it follow that as the church focuses on the world that, in fact, she becomes more like the world and fails to comprehend her unique other-worldly character and calling? It would seem that by all quantifiable measures, the church in betraying her eschatological calling, has become susceptible to the disease that ravages every other merely human institution—identification. You no longer can distinguish many modern evangelical churches from night clubs—worship is led by singers (usually female) in sequin dresses with hand-held microphones. And
there is dancing ("sacred" dance, they call it) and there is even "sacred" drama (somewhat like a comic sketch in the midst of the old Ed Sullivan variety hour). The trivialization of worship in contemporary evangelical and Reformed churches has not only led to the "Canterbury Trail," "Rome Sweet Rome," "Franky Schaeffer on Orthodoxy" and a host of other idiocies, it has produced assinine defenses by progressive advocates of contemporary worship style. The new canon for modern worship is not the Biblical regulative principle, not any confessional premise historically considered; no, the new canon for modern worship is the "expertise" of learned (?!?) seminary professors and managerial-style pastors, elders, presbyteries, classes, synods and general assemblies. These gurus of worship nonsense have atomised the Scriptures in a way that puts liberal fundamentalists to shame. (Liberals too are masters of the atomistic proof-text approach, usually in the interest of demonstrating innumerable errors in the Bible.) For if Christian worship is not an eschatological event, it will be reduced to the horizontal—to the trivial. Whatever satisfies the needs of the worshipper will become the canon of the worship gurus. Whatever orders the community to the predetermined arenas of success, prosperity and glitz will be the canon of the managerial-style pastors. (One was recently quoted, "We're not shepherds. We're sheep herders!")
Eric Voegelin was correct and modern Evangelicalism is providing the (current) verification. Modernism's error is the immanentization of the eschaton—the attempt to make the present, the final, the ultimate, the eschatological. Modernism does not reach for heaven—it absolutizes the earth. In worship then, man's experience is primary. All scripture is subsumed to provide man with a positive experience. Pleasure in worship—pleasure in church—pleasure in life: this is the gospel of modern evangelicalism and increasingly the gospel of modern Reformed Christianity.
This siren song was being played in Jude's day. The agenda-based element had invaded his congregation. These folks were demanding a more pleasure orientated ecclesiastical life-style. Not only sexual pleasure (cf. vv. 4, 7, 16), but power pleasure (vv. 8, 16) and personal pleasure (v.12). Nothing was to be withheld which was part of their own self-agrandizement. Over against this agenda-based faction was the group "called, beloved and kept for
Jesus Christ" (v.1). Jude draws a distinct contrast between the two groups in the church. He even uses distinct pronouns to contrast them: you/your/our (vv.2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25)—these/those (vv. 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 19). Thematically, the "you/our" group is commended and encouraged at the beginning and end of the epistle. The "these/those" group dominates the mid-portion of the letter with its threats of judgment. This is predestinarian language. In fact, it is the language of eschatological distinction. One group is kept and reserved by God for the Lord Jesus Christ and his glory (vv. 1, 24); the other group is kept and marked out for condemnation (v. 4; cf. also v. 6). There are believers (the result of divine "calling" and "keeping") and unbelievers (the result of divine "abandoning" and "programming") in this congregation. Eschatological distinction is evident in ethical action: one group builds itself up in faith, prays in the Spirit and keeps itself in the love of God (vv. 20, 21); the other group keeps itself in darkness, indulges itself in the flesh and rushes headlong into rebellion (vv. 6, 7, 11). Jude's point is not to root out the wheat from the tares. His task is descriptive and evangelistic—"have mercy on some" (v. 22), "save others" (v. 23) while you "keep yourselves" (v.21).
The epistle has a structure by which its contents are ordered. Jude opens with a greeting (vv. 1, 2), describes the purpose of his letter (vv. 3, 4), provides paradigms from the past history of redemption (vv. 5-16), exhorts the faithful (vv. 17-23) and concludes with a doxology (vv. 24, 25). Several scholars identify the structure of the letter with rhetorical patterns. The exordium (vv. 1, 2) gains the interest of his readers. The narratio (vv. 3, 4) describes Jude's purpose in writing and the ground for his concern. The probatio (vv. 5-16) is the proof of his case from Old Testament examples. The peroratio (vv. 17-23) recapitulates his argument by an emotional appeal to his readers. The doxology (not benediction, vv. 24, 25) commends the readers to the God of glory.
The preceding basic rhetorical/structural outlines have now been displaced by E. R. Wendland's extended chiasm for the entire epistle. The epistolary introduction—A (v. 1) is matched by the epistolary conclusion—A' (vv. 24-25). The salutation—B (v. 2) is invertedly parallel to the commission—B' (vv. 22-23). The statement of purpose—C (v. 3) is balanced by the purpose
elaborated—C' (vv. 20-21). The motivation—D (v. 4) is matched by the motivation—D' (v. 19). The reminder—E (vv. 5-7) is akin to the reminder—E' (vv. 17-18). The description of the heretics—F (v. 8) is parallel to the description of the heretics—F' (v. 16). The extracanonical example (Michael)—G (v. 9) is balanced by the extracanonical example (Enoch)—G' (vv. 14-15). The description of the heretics—H (v. 10) is matched by the description of the heretics—H' (vv. 12-13). And the hinge of the epistle is the woe oracle—I (v. 11 ).
On any of the above schemes, it is apparent that Jude has carefully crafted his epistle in a fashion resembling ancient rhetorical and structural patterns.
In addition to an articulate structure, Jude's letter reflects sublime literary devices. Charles has suggested a poetic flavor to the letter. All will agree that the writer's vocabulary is vivid, emotional, powerful and poignant. There are elements of synonymous and antithetic parallelism. There are figures of speech which forcefully enliven the writer's imagery. But the most fascinating aspect of Jude's style is his literary trinitarianism. Jude uses triads throughout. Notice "called," "beloved," "kept" (v. 1); "mercy," "peace," "love" (v. 2). He uses a triad of Old Testament examples—Israel out of Egypt, the rebel angels, Sodom and Gomorrah (vv. 5-7). And he further uses a triad of wicked Old Testament personalities—Cain, Balaam, Korah (v. 11). The beloved are urged on by a triplet of participles—"building," "praying," "waiting" (vv. 20, 21). Even the actual Trinity appears—"the Holy Spirit," "the love of God," "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ" (vv. 20, 21). The doxology concludes with a triad of time—"before all time," "and now," "and forever" (v. 25). Jude is a three-peater!
The theology of Jude is the theology of urgency. The rhetorical structure of the letter, the literary brilliance of the vocabulary are all intended to stir up the church to vigilance (note especially vv. 17, 18) and fidelity (note the pattern of "beloved," "faith," "saints" [v.3] with "beloved," "faith," "holy" [v. 20]). This vigilance is to be directed towards the manipulators and agenda-based power brokers who have entered the congregation. Like the apostates of the Old Testament, they undermine the faith "once for all delivered" and divide the congregation through flattery and licentiousness. Their goal is to advance their own prestige, dominate the vulnerable and find fault with those
who will not submit to their agenda. They are vacuous clouds without water (v. 12), fruitless and uprooted trees (v. 12), foaming oceans of chaos and shame (v. 13). Their agenda is the agenda of death. To be polarized by them, to be dominated by them, to be influenced by them is darkness—black, gloomy darkness! Whatever small measure of power and success they may garner in this world will be burned in fire in the world to come. They are "ungodly" (emphatically ungodly, v. 15) and all their machinations are bondage, destruction, condemnation and eternal judgment. Jude paints vividly the underside of the eschatological dynamic. Consistent with the entire New Testament portrait, there is an eschatology of death, damnation and eternal fire. If the called, beloved, kept are destined for glory (an eschatology of life), then the apostate, hated and reserved for judgment are destined for Hell (an eschatology of death). Jude's warning to all the agenda-based "sheep herders" of history is a litany of foreboding eternal bondage, black darkness, eternal fire. Jude's consolation to all the "sheep" of the eschatological shepherd is a paean of expectation—eternal life, the glory-presence, the everlasting Amen.
Richard Bauckham's commentary claims to be the work of an evangelical scholar. It is often difficult to detect the evangelicalism beneath the mass of critical concessions and excurses. Bauckham's stodgy style makes reading the volume laborious. His capitulation to apocryphal theories for Jude 9 and 14-15 is disappointing. In particular, any suggestion that Jude is citing the Testament or Assumption of Moses in v. 9 must reckon with the fact that we, as yet, have no definitive text of that apocryphal work. Hence Bauckham's (and many other's) reading must remain speculative. Neyrey's Anchor Bible Commentary on Jude is a pleasure to read. While once again venturing too far in concessions to critics, Neyrey nevertheless unfolds the structure and rhetoric of the book in a very helpful fashion. Duane Watson's study is a fine piece of rhetorical and literary analysis. But pride of place must be given to J. Daryl Charles. His work on the epistle is thorough, judicious and penetrating. My only quibble is with his handling of the alleged apocryphal quotes (again, too much dependence on an uncertain textual tradition for the Assumption of Moses). We may look for his full commentary with genuine expectation.
1New Testament Studies 21/4 (July 1975): 5:54-63.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 50). Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983.
J. Daryl Charles, Literary Strategy in the Epistle of Jude. Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press/London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1993.
____________, "'Those' and 'These': The Use of the Old Testament in the Epistle of Jude." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38 (1990): 109-24.
____________, "Literary Artifice in the Epistle of Jude." Zeitschrift fur Neuentestamentliche Wissenschaft 82/1-2 (1991): 106-24.
____________, "Jude's Use of Pseudepigraphal Source-Material as Part of a Literary Strategy." New Testament Studies 37 (1991): 130-45.
Harry Harm. "Logic Line in Jude: The Search for Syllogisms in a Hortatory Text." OPTAT 1/3-4 (Sept. 1987): 147-72.
Jerome H. Neyrey, 2 Peter, Jude (Anchor Bible Commentary, vol. 37C). New York: Doubleday, 1993.
Duane F. Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style: Rhetorical Criticism of Jude and 2 Peter. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1988.
E. R. Wendland, "A Comparative Study of 'Rhetorical Criticism', Ancient and Modern with special Reference to the Larger Structure and Function of the Epistle of Jude. " Neotestamentica 28/1 (1994): 193-228.
William L. Lane. Hebrews (Word Biblical Commentary, Volumes 47a and 47b). Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1991, 617 pp., $24.99 per volume. ISBN: 0-8499-0246-0 (v. 47a), 0-8499-0935-X (v. 47b).
William Lane is not afraid to go down 'roads less traveled' by standard interpreters. In this case, the journey is worth the bumps and bruises that come along the way.
Geerhardus Vos, describing the motivation of the writer of the book of Hebrews, comments: "He sought to cure the readers of their religious externalism, and this externalism was attached to their distorted eschatology. They were dissatisfied because they did not as yet possess the external things, and therefore they were intensely interested in eschatology. The writer shows them that the eschatology is present for the most part, only certain features of it being reserved for the future. The internal, spiritual part is the important part, and this we have now" (The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 53). Vos held that a proper understanding of eschatology was essential to the church's journey through the wilderness of this life. The suffering pilgrims of Hebrews struggled with dissatisfaction and apostasy because they did not understand the 'already/not yet' structure of Biblical eschatology. The Christian 'already' possesses the internal blessings of heaven. He has already come to Mt. Zion. But the external blessings of heaven are still future tense. The pilgrims of Hebrews struggled because they wanted heaven to be manifested
externally on earth in their lifetime. The primary purpose of the epistle was to correct their improper understanding of eschatology and thereby strengthen in them in their wilderness journey.
One of the criteria from which a commentary on Hebrews should be evaluated is this belief in the priority of eschatology. William Lane's commentary does give eschatology a high priority. Though he may not be consciously dedicated to the science of Biblical Theology, he does see that eschatology undergirds the theological and practical instructions of Hebrews. For example, when commenting on 6:4 and what it means for the enlightened to have tasted, Lane comments: "the clauses describe vividly the reality of the experience of personal salvation enjoyed by the Christians addressed. The Holy Spirit not only formed the community but was bringing it to eschatological fulfillment. The present period was already pervaded by the power of the coming age, which, through Christ, had made a profound inroad upon the community. Accordingly, in verses 4-5 the writer identifies the congregation as witnesses to the fact that God's salvation and presence are the unquestionable reality of their lives"(v. 1, pp. 141-42). Lane's eschatological sensitivity gives his commentary a different feel from those written by Philip Hughes, F. F. Bruce or William Manson. He stimulates the reader to think in terms of the 'already/not yet.'
Another positive aspect of this commentary is that each section, as well as some sub-sections, begin with extensive bibliographies. This alone makes the commentary worth the investment. For example, when working on 9:23 one is confronted with a heavenly temple. Due to space constraints, Lane's comments are limited to one page. But this only scratches the surface when it comes to the depth of the concept of an eschatological tabernacle. If one goes to the bibliography at the start of this section (v. 2, p. 227, verses 9:11-28), one finds that Lane has cited several articles that expand upon this topic. One stimulating article listed is G. W. MacRae's, "Heaven, Temple and Eschatology in the Letter to the Hebrews" (Semeia 12 : 179-99). In this article, MacRae is able to spend twenty pages exploring the depths of the eschatological temple because he is not limited by space. By using the bibliography, the minister is able to broaden his reading without the painstaking work of searching for pertinent articles. Lane has already done this for the busy pas-
tor. He enables the minister to work on sermon preparation months in advance, with only a few visits to a theological library to obtain the articles.
Finally, Lane's use of intertestamental material is very helpful. At times, he perhaps gives too much credit to external forces for the present form of certain texts. The reader will need to be cautious. This holds true of the entire commentary. Because Lane is often willing to go down 'roads less traveled' by standard interpreters, the reader must stay alert. The journey is at times extremely helpful and at other times leads to difficulties. Either way, it is an invigorating expedition.
If you seek a stimulating and helpful analysis of the book of Hebrews, this is a rewarding commentary. In this reviewer's opinion, it is the best on the market at this time.
Randall A. Bergquist
Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church