a. The main theme of Hebrews is Christ. How does Hebrews describe Christ?
b. James appears to teach salvation by works. Is this contradictory to Paul's teaching?
c. What are the main teachings of Peter and Jude?
1. What are the main teachings of Hebrews? Is the description of Christ different from the gospels?
a. Main theme: superiority of Christ over old Jewish system of beliefs(1) superior to old revelation (1:1-3)b. The Law provided only a shadow of the good things to come (10:1). The invisible world of heavenly realities can only be grappled by believers through faith (11:1).
(2) superior to angels (1:4-2:18)
(3) superior to Moses (3:1-19)
(4) superior to Joshua (4:1-13)
(5) superior to OT priesthood (4:14-10:31)
c. The perfect high priesthood of Christ:(1) OT sacrifices were imperfect: cannot purify conscience (9:9), only external ceremonial purity (9:13), cannot take away sins (10:11), priests were mortal men (7:24) who need to offer sacrifice for their own sins also (5:3, 7:27)d. Second theme: pilgrimage aspect of Christian life. The key is faith which makes hope a concrete reality (11:1).
(2) Jesus was appointed by God (5:5), had complete humanity (2:17), shared the same temptations (4:15), but he was sinless and lives forever (7:23)
(3) Melchizedek was an imperfect analogy for Jesus (7:3). Hebrews seizes upon the silences of Scripture to interpret them to mean that "he is without father, mother, or genealogy,...." The main point is that Abraham (representing the unborn Levi) gave tithes to Melchizedek. Thus Christ, a high priest after the order of Melchizedek is superior to the Aaronic priesthood (5:6,10, 6:20, 7:1-17). The reasoning may seem strange by modern standards.
(4) Jesus is both the high priest and the sacrifice that the high priest offers to God.
(5) Historical sacrifice: Jesus offered Himself (9:14), made purification for sins (9:26, 1:3) for everyone (2:9) by shedding of blood (9:22).
(6) Heavenly service: Jesus is the heavenly priest who saves the believers and intercedes for them (7:25, 9:24).
e. Problem of 6:4-6 and 10:26,29 -- referred to deliberate and wilful apostasy (deliberately turn their back on Christ) after receiving the knowledge of the truth in church, not simply "back-sliding"
f. Obedient to leaders (13:7,17):(1) dictatorial leadership not condoned (see 3Jn 9-10) -- caution to those leaders who love to be preeminent, gossip with wicked words, not receive brothers, and usurp power
(2) Obey (Gr. peithesthe) -- be open to the persuasion of your leaders
(3) submit to their authority (Gr. hypeikete) -- the root idea is not "give in" but "be disposed to yielding"
(4) leaders do not have the right to dictate
(5) others to maintain a yielding disposition, and remain open to the persuasion of the leaders -- more difficult to do, more truthful obedience, more peaceful
2. What are the main teachings
of James? Is the teaching of salvation by works contradictory to Paul's
justification by faith?
a. Main theme: dealing with weak believers and their tendencies: must put faith into practice(1) need to fulfil the royal law (Jas 2:8) because God will judge according to this law of liberty (Jas 2:12)b. Secondary theme: wisdom to pass through trials and temptations, social concern, tongues, interpersonal conflicts
(2) OT Law in mind (Jas 2:9-11) because the letter is for Jewish Christians
(3) but the principle of good works can be applied to all Christians(1) temptations from our own desires (Jas 1:14) or from the devil (Jas 4:7)c. James's teaching is apparently contradictory to Paul's doctrine of justification, but Paul and James are dealing with different problems and their definitions of "faith" and "works" are somewhat different.
(2) "desire" does not bear any evil connotation (used in the desire to be with Christ in Php 1:23)
(3) bad only if we are "drawn away or enticed" -- until desires become an end in itself so that one hungers to fulfil certain desires more than he wants the will of God(1) Problem: Paul dealt with the self-righteousness of Jewish piety; James dealt with dead orthodoxy.
(2) Faith: For Paul, faith is the acceptance of the gospel and personal commitment to Christ; for James, faith is simply the assertion of monotheism (Jas 2:19).
(3) Works: For Paul, works are the Jewish deeds of formal obedience to the Law that results in the boasting of good achievements (Ro 3:20); for James, works are the deeds of Christian love that fulfil the law of love for the neighbour (Jas 2:15).
(4) Relationship of saving faith and works: For Paul, works are not the prerequisite for saving faith; for James, works are the natural results of true saving faith.
3. What are the main teachings of First Peter?
a. Main themes:(1) creedal material (formal statements on doctrine)b. Sufferings:
(2) eschatological perspective with ethical emphasis
(3) aimed at encouraging the believers in the face of persecution(1) not physical afflictions, natural evils, or accidents, but sufferings as a result of being Christians (1Pe 4:16) such as false accusations (1Pe 1:12)c. Problem -- preached to spirits in prison (1Pe 3:19-20):
(2) Christ is the model of righteous sufferer (1Pe 3:18); believer is following His example and participating in His sufferings (1Pe 4:13)
(3) trials attributed to Satan (1Pe 5:8) but happen according to the will of God (1Pe 3:17)
(4) Suffering prove validity and reality of Christian faith, and has a sanctifying influence (1Pe 4:1) so believers should rejoice (1Pe 1:6-7)(1) Christ in the Spirit preached the gospel to the spirits of dead men who lived in the days of Noah (but this implies salvation after death).
(2) Christ in His pre-existent state preached the gospel through Noah to people in Noah's time
(3) In the intermediate state, Christ proclaimed victory of the gospel to fallen angels imprisoned in Hades. The preaching does not mean an offer of salvation but the triumphant announcement that Christ had broken the power of the spirit world.
4. Second Peter and Jude are usually grouped together. What are the similar themes in the two books?
a. Theme: combat false teaching of Gnostic type which rejected the lordship of Christ (2Pe 2:1), rejected parousia (2Pe 3:3-4), and degenerated into immorality (Jude 4)
b. emphasis on apostolic teaching and the return of Christ (2Pe 3:3-4, Jude 5-6)
c. teaching on angels who sinned (2Pe 2:4, Jude 6) is the source of the idea that evil spirits are fallen angels