We are studying the Book of Hebrews in our adult Sunday School class at Crossbridge Miami Springs. Today was our sixth “lesson”, Hebrews 3: 1 – 6. As the class “commentary” we are using N.T. Wright’s, Hebrews for Everyone, and it really is very good for the student whose preparation will consist of just the time it takes to read nine or ten short paragraphs on the given passage.
I have led (I am not sure it rises to the level of “teaching”) our class in its studies for many years, and it is usually one of the high points of my week. My practice is to acquire additional commentaries or studies that will supplement our class commentary. For Hebrews, I have The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised Edition) by F.F. Bruce; The Holiest ofAll: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews by Andrew Murray, and The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews by Simon Kistemaker.
Returning to Hebrews, I want to discuss very briefly Psalm 2 and the messianic use that is made of it by the author of Hebrews.
Being a lawyer, a professional who often deals with documentary evidence as part of his profession, and having majored in history at Duke in a department with wonderful teachers (I can think of one exception to that, but he proves the rule), I am always curious about NT citations to the OT that would prove a point (and what citation would not be used that way?), especially one that would be controversial in the conversation with Judaism. Jesus of Nazereth as the expected Messiah and Son of God comes to mind.
Obviously, the question is whether the Early Church simply read back into the OT passages their messianic implications. Psalm 2, for example.
Kistermaker, in his book cited above, makes the following statement about Psalm 2:7:
(The Psalms of Solomon are among the books of the Pseudepigrapha.)
Rather than the citation of the OT passages for the messiah being back-read by first and second century Christians to Jesus, the fact that those passages were in the minds of the people of Palestine when Jesus came accounts for his acceptance as the Messiah by so many Jews of that time, especially in view of his teachings, his healings and other miracles, his sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension.