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Hebrews, Christ and the New Covenant

Greg Strand – November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Hebrews is a key New Testament book that explains the work of Christ as the foundation of the new covenant along with its implications for the lives of Christians and the Christian church. A study in this book will get one to the heart of the New Testament’s understanding of the Old Testament.

In many ways, Hebrews is foundational to our expression in our Statement of Faith in Article 4 referring to the person and work of Christ as “Israel’s promised Messiah.” This becomes the hermeneutical center for Christians as they read, study, understand and apply the Scriptures in a Christo-centric and Christo-telic manner.

A number of years ago D. A. Carson taught through the book of Hebrews at one of our EFCA One national conferences. It was incredibly rich.

This teaching is now made available more broadly through the release of the second installment in the TEDS Lecture Series which consists of D. A. Carson’s teaching on “The Book of Hebrews,” which was recorded from the spring 2013 “Acts, Pauline and General Epistles” course at TEDS. Four lectures with accompanying transcripts are included in the links below. The brief explanations come from the TEDS website.

In these four lectures, Dr. Carson covers the basic questions involved in interpreting Hebrews such as authorship, date of composition, and intended audience, as well as covering its content and focusing in particular on major themes of Christology. Hebrews is unique in the New Testament in its explanation of Christ’s high priestly work and its extended application of Yom Kippur imagery to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Dr. Carson highlights the unique, once-for-all quality of Jesus’ sacrificial death as presented by Hebrews as well as the reality of Christ’s ongoing high priestly ministry on behalf of believers.

In the first lecture (video and transcription) of this four-part series on the Book of Hebrews, Dr. Carson looks at the introduction to the book, the significance of the idea of “better,” and explores Old and New Testament occurrences of the phrase “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

Carrying on in the Book of Hebrews (video and transcription), Dr. Carson highlights the Biblical trajectory of entering God’s rest, walks through understanding passages in a moralizing and typological way, discusses how to preach particular passages in Hebrews, and points out what he sees as the definition of a true Christian.

Dr. Carson’s third lecture (video and transcription) on Hebrews focuses on perseverance and preservation of the saints, with discussions on the doctrine of Christian assurance and its implications for pastoral ministry and evangelism. He also begins to lay the groundwork for the next lecture on the king-priest figure of Melchizedek.

In the final lecture on Hebrews (video and transcription), Dr. Carson digs into what the Old and New Testament writers say about priesthood, law, covenant, and sacrifice, and the “once-for-all” effect of the death of Jesus.

Here is the post to the second significant series on the canon written by Michael J. Kruger. This one is entitled, “Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize.”

Kruger explained the focus of this series: “This new blog series is designed to help the lay believer learn some basic facts about the New Testament canon—the kind of facts that might be helpful in a conversation with a skeptic or inquisitive friend.

  1. The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess
  2. Apocryphal Writings are All Written in the Second Century or Later
  3. The New Testament Books Are Unique Because They Are Apostolic Books
  4. Some NT Writers Quote Other NT Writers as Scripture
  5. The Four Gospels are Well Established by the End of the Second Century
  6. At the End of the Second Century, the Muratorian Fragment Lists 22 of our 27 NT books
  7. Early Christians Often Used Non-Canonical Writings
  8. The NT Canon Was Not Decided at Nicea—Nor Any Other Church Council
  9. Christians Did Disagree about the Canonicity of Some NT Books
  10. Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books were Self-Authenticating

Please forward these insightful writings on to others. But before you do, make sure you have read them. There is much for you to learn (or be reminded) too!

Questions about canonicity of the Bible have often been used to discredit the authority of the Bible. This issue has become especially acute in the past number of years with attention being given The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and others, gospels besides the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Michael J. Kruger is doing some of the most helpful work today on the issues of the canon. Kruger penned Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012), and he has also written The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (IVP, 2013) which will be published later this year.

Kruger also writes a blog in which he includes a great deal of helpful information. He has done a couple of extremely helpful series, one I share today, and the second tomorrow.

Below you will find links to his excellent series on “10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon.

  1. The Term “Canon” Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed List of Books
  2. Nothing in Early Christianity Dictated That There Would be a Canon
  3. The New Testament Authors Did Not Think They Were Writing Scripture
  4. New Testament Books Were Not Regarded as Scriptural Until Around 200 A.D.
  5. Early Christians Disagreed Widely over the Books Which Made It into the Canon
  6. In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books
  7. Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century
  8. Early Christianity was an Oral Religion and Therefore Would Have Resisted Writing Things Down
  9. The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles
  10. Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books

This series is important for you to read. And then after you have read it, have your elders and other leaders read it.