LETTER TO THE HEBREWS
Rev. Mary McCue
Today's appointed reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews (2:1-4).
"Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will."
In Lent, we all can benefit from making time to pray with the Scriptures. Hebrews is a good letter to spend some time with.
Scholar Mark A. Powell calls it a masterpiece. It is written in polished
and eloquent Greek. And, according to scholar Louis Berkhoff, it argues for the pre-eminence of the New Covenant – “an essential unity of Old and New Testament religions.” It uses Hebrew Scripture to argue that Jesus Christ was foretold as the king that was yet to come. At the time it was written – probably 63 or 64 – Jesus had not reappeared as a mighty King; some were becoming disillusioned.
Who wrote it? In the fourth century, scholars thought it was the Apostle Paul. Later, scholarship shifted to other possible authors, largely because the language was so unlike Paul’s volatile, contextual Greek: Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Apollos or Priscilla. (Those who argue for Priscilla’s authorship claim that, to avoid suppression of the letter and/or the author, no name was attached.)
Who ever wrote it, it is filled with beautiful language and thoughts.
One is, I think, especially pertinent to us: “holy partners in a heavenly
calling.” (Hebrews 3:1)
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The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington