Hebrews 5:11-12 - Is Hebrews really meant to be advanced study?

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm preparing a lesson for Saturday and something just struck me as I was studying Hebrews 5:11-12.

The entire book up to this point is dealing with people that are really missing the boat on the basics of Covenant Theology. I'd never really even thought about what that might imply until I came to this section:

[bible]Hebrews 5:11-12[/bible]

It seems like there's something to be said about the nature of the instruction and the care we ought to take to assume that deeper things are actually really being fleshed out in Hebrews. He actually states, ahead of time, he's not going to teach them the advanced stuff, not because he's unable to, but because the readers are like grade schoolers that wouldn't understand it yet if he did.

This just really struck me today as I was listening to a very advanced debate over what the author of Hebrews meant to express by Hebrews 8 and it seems, at least to me, that to look for extremely deep things in Hebrews misses the point that the author himself stated that his lessons were written to be understood by the theologically immature.

Thoughts?
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
I was in a college group which spent three years going through Hebrews. While I was first exposed to Reformed theology in that group, I would not consider Hebrews overly advanced. I must wonder, though, what is advanced? Advanced can potentially mean any teaching beyond the clear gospel in which a person is too spiritually immature or inexperienced to understand. For some of my friends, Hebrews is too advanced, because it goes too deep into its references of the OT.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It's apparent, Dan, from the follow on verses (Hebrews 6:1-3) that he expects that they remember the foundation - the basic principles and that he's going to press on with them through some more adult concepts. He's certainly not content to leave them in immaturity here but it simply struck me what the nature of his audience is here.

It also struck me what an indictment it is upon Christendom that we have a Church full of men and women who this passage openly rebukes. They're content to be babes. We would be quite alarmed if a grown man was still only able to read a basic primer or had to be told what to do, where to sit, when to brush his teeth, etc. Yet, spiritually, that's the condition of most Christians who been in the Church long enough to be teachers.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Rich, I'm curious as to why you said:

The entire book up to this point is dealing with people that are really missing the boat on the basics of Covenant Theology.

Are you wrapping up all the doctrinal teaching of the first few chapters of Hebrews in the cloak of Covenant Theology? I wonder whether taking such a large portion of scripture and describing it as "the basics of Covenant Theology" is missing the nuances of the text. I've been working through systematic theologies lately so your post comes at an appropriate time.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Rich,

This great section of scripture is a pause as the writer intends to speak of
The Lord Jesus Christ in the fulness of His person and work.He has already began to discuss the obvious superiority of His person, even His priesthood
in 2:9-17. Linking in, being over Moses,and Joshua[ the law leading us to Christ,Christ leading us to eternal rest] he then wants to introduce psalm 110 into the mix,and the priesthood being greater than earthly or Levitcal priests who die.
As this is so crucial a link to Jesus as the true Israel, , true tabernacle, he pauses fearing that they will drift past,Hebrews 2;1-4 this unfolding of redemptive history, before the judgment of Ad 70.:book2:
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Rich,
As far as the covenant theology , He already addresses this in part in Chapter 2:9-16, Jesus as the captain of their salvation, takes upon himself the "seed of Abraham". The seed singular is Jesus, and us in Him by Spirit baptism. These are the true "covenant children" promised to the Son
JN 6 Isa 49 among other places.
To unfold this more fully, he needs to expand into the priestly work. I believe this letter was addressed in particular to believing jews before 70 ad, who were to press on,and not draw back to perdition Hebrerws 6, 10.
That is why the newness of the new covenant is explained to those who were Ot. believers, with a caution that this is the fulfillment of all the Ot had looked forward too. Joel 2 Jer 31 ezk 36-39 Isa 42-66:book2:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich, I'm curious as to why you said:

The entire book up to this point is dealing with people that are really missing the boat on the basics of Covenant Theology.

Are you wrapping up all the doctrinal teaching of the first few chapters of Hebrews in the cloak of Covenant Theology? I wonder whether taking such a large portion of scripture and describing it as "the basics of Covenant Theology" is missing the nuances of the text. I've been working through systematic theologies lately so your post comes at an appropriate time.

I think a bit of it is a misapprehension of Covenant Theology. They're desirous to go back into Judaism and the author is building a case that Christ is better than the angels, than Moses, than Aaron, etc. He even notes that the people in the wilderness were just like them (from afar off) and heard the Gospel and how much worse will it be for them if they end up not believing. By Covenant theology I mean, at least that they're missing the object of even what the OT saints are about because the author builds his entire case about the perfection of the NC from OT passages themselves. There's nothing to go back to and that is the confusion I'm talking about. There's certainly more than Covenant theology there but the aim of the author is clearing up Covenant confusion in large measure.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich,
As far as the covenant theology , He already addresses this in part in Chapter 2:9-16, Jesus as the captain of their salvation, takes upon himself the "seed of Abraham". The seed singular is Jesus, and us in Him by Spirit baptism. These are the true "covenant children" promised to the Son
JN 6 Isa 49 among other places.
To unfold this more fully, he needs to expand into the priestly work. I believe this letter was addressed in particular to believing jews before 70 ad, who were to press on,and not draw back to perdition Hebrerws 6, 10.
That is why the newness of the new covenant is explained to those who were Ot. believers, with a caution that this is the fulfillment of all the Ot had looked forward too. Joel 2 Jer 31 ezk 36-39 Isa 42-66:book2:

I understand that Anthony. He asserts that these are, in fact, elementary ideas. They had been taught this for a very long time, so long that they should be teachers themselves now. My only point is that there is a sense that the hearers are dull. It seems they'd have to be to think they could go back to Moses. Either that or they would just completely repudiate Christ in their return. But the nature of the rebuke is more the former - that they're kind of slow learners.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Is it possible that though the dominating concepts are simple (it's hard to imagine something simpler than Jesus is better) yet the treatment of them gets into great depths? So the exhortation to perseverance in the faith is really not complicated; but he gives profound theology and exegesis to back it up. I incline to this, for he says that about Melchizedek he has many things to say, and given their condition, hard to be understood. But then after the interlude on "the fundamentals" and apostasy, the end of chapter 6 winds up right back at Melchizedek. In the intervening material he has reminded them of certain basic facts, he has warned them sternly, but he has also comforted with the certainty of God's promise. If they have received his words, they should be in a condition to break some new ground.
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Rich, I have used these very verses to demonstrate that the Christians to whom the author of Hebrews is writing ought to have already understood that Melchizedek foreshadowed Christ (see 5:1-11). There are those who might say that we shouldn't make typological connections unless the NT explicitly makes them for us, but had these Hebrew Christians already understood the connection, the author might never had made it explicit for us! In other words, additional typological connections in the OT to Christ are legitimate even if they aren't explicitly made in the NT. :)
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Is it possible that though the dominating concepts are simple (it's hard to imagine something simpler than Jesus is better) yet the treatment of them gets into great depths? So the exhortation to perseverance in the faith is really not complicated; but he gives profound theology and exegesis to back it up. I incline to this, for he says that about Melchizedek he has many things to say, and given their condition, hard to be understood. But then after the interlude on "the fundamentals" and apostasy, the end of chapter 6 winds up right back at Melchizedek. In the intervening material he has reminded them of certain basic facts, he has warned them sternly, but he has also comforted with the certainty of God's promise. If they have received his words, they should be in a condition to break some new ground.

Thanks. Getting the same sense. I think my main observation, though, isn't that it's deep but intent as well. It is pretty interesting that Hebrews is the only NT book that really develops Christ's high priesthood in great degree.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
It seems like there's something to be said about the nature of the instruction and the care we ought to take to assume that deeper things are actually really being fleshed out in Hebrews. He actually states, ahead of time, he's not going to teach them the advanced stuff, not because he's unable to, but because the readers are like grade schoolers that wouldn't understand it yet if he did.

This just really struck me today as I was listening to a very advanced debate over what the author of Hebrews meant to express by Hebrews 8 and it seems, at least to me, that to look for extremely deep things in Hebrews misses the point that the author himself stated that his lessons were written to be understood by the theologically immature.

Thoughts?

Man, Rich, if you ever try to exegete it in the Greek, you probably won't consider it so elementary. :lol: Give me John's Gospel any day!

In my humble opinion, part of the difficulty in Hebrews is the dependence upon OT allusions. Most of our biblically illiterate American Christians simply do not know their Bibles well enough to navigate those deep waters. And, when your theological argument is so frequently buttressed by OT quotes, allusions, and references, it makes it quite difficult. Remember that most Americans think that the "epistles" are the wives of the "apostles."

But, what a rich and blessed repository of precious truths!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Very true. I was thinking the same thing. The fascinating thing about Hebrews is how he builds his case completely on OT passages. There is obviously some divine light that is being shed where he can see such allusions but I can think of no other book that demonstrates the coherency between the OT and NT than Hebrews.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the author of Hebrews may just be using this language to get them to actually realize that the food he is feeding them in the whole book is a good thanksgiving turkey dinner but perhaps they should just be sitting at the kiddie table.

Forgive the example: 10 minutes ago one of my children just messed his pants when he should have used the bathroom, I asked him, "Are you a baby? Babies go to the bathroom in their pants." But then I explained to him again what adults do. Saying he was acting like a baby was language meant to get him to listen to me explain what a big kid or an adult does (again). He doesn't want to be a baby, he wants to be a big kid and become an adult.

Forgive, again, this translation/application of the structure of the argument:
"I have a number of big kid and adult things I am about to tell you, and you should already be using the toilet on your own, but I'm afraid that smell I'm smelling is the smell of a child. You need diapers, not big kid underpants. Those who wear diapers are babies, but underpants are for big kids and daddies and mommies. Those who through practice know how to use the potty."

Then I explained the way of an adult to my child which is what I assume the writer of Hebrews is doing. He isn't giving them milk any more than I was putting a diaper on my child. I wasn't, and I think the author doesn't.
 
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