JohnSWilson3 Blog

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
July 28, 2011, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

Paul to the Hebrews, having expressed his desire to see the brothers and sisters to not forget their foundation of Christ alone, seeing what they had initially experienced of Christ together in a shared life, calls them to go forward in their life in Christ together encouraging them to continue to express Christ to one another. This life in Christ is not a one day a week meeting, this life in Christ is not for a month and because we find it “difficult” we go back to our old way of living, this life in Christ is not something we go looking for from place to place, but life based in relationship with one another, the hard reality of living in authentic intimate relationship with one another in face to face community, it is a new way of life, a new spiritual family. We are to be diligent in growing deeper in our love for one another; it is the hallmark of life in Christ in the body, “diligence to the very end,” until when Christ is the all in all!

As Paul told the ekklesia in Philippi: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” For Paul there was only one goal for himself: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

And later in his letter to Ephesus Paul states that there is only one goal for the corporate body of Christ: “…for the perfecting of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (NASB)

In this learning Christ together in His body we are learning to express the life of Christ in and to and through the body. Hearing Him in and to and through the body through the measure of Christ’s gift that He has given each member, and believing Him to the expression of His love for one another. This is obeying our Lord, this is living by His life. How this looks in each ekklesia is worked out based on the members of that ekklesia. This is a process of helping each other put off the flesh and put on Christ together, not for the faint of heart, a process that can only be worked out through living by the Spirit. “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” What an amazing statement: “What has been promised!” There is finality in this statement. And to make this statement even more definite to the brothers and sisters he describes God’s “promise to Abraham,” Abraham a type of example of the corporate body of Christ.

The author describes how final this promise is by giving an example of the fact that when God promises something to His people, it is a promise without precedent, like His promise to Abraham, it is a promise that is done, “and puts an end to all argument.” God wants to make His promise clear to us; He wants us to know how final His promise is in regard to us and he does so by His own personal oath! God’s promise is based on His “unchanging nature” and “it is impossible for God to lie.” “Abraham received what was promised,” because he “waited patiently.” Abraham heard God, believed God, and persevered in the promise of God. In this he is like an example of the body of Christ. Only as we live by the life of Christ together will we grow in “faith and patience,” and we will not lose hope. Paul prayed for the ekklesia in Ephesus “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” We as a body are called to “lay hold” of this hope! “We who have fled,” putting off the flesh together, are “to take hold of the hope offered to us,” putting on Christ together, so that we “may be greatly encouraged!”

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure (or safe).” This phrase is actually part of a grand statement by the author. The main point of the Greek can be translated: God is abundantly resolved to show the heirs of promise by His oath His unchangeable resolve to anchor our souls in the hope of Jesus Christ. (1) Wow! And this hope is firm and safe, because it is “moored” to the “immoveable object” of Jesus Christ! (2) Our hope, this anchor, is immoveable, “firm and safe,” because it entered “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Christ is our hope! Because “Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house, and we are that house, the new temple of God, in a sense what the author also is alluding to, and to show how secure and safe is our hope in Christ, is that Christ Himself has entered US on OUR behalf. God has decided to dwell, to live, to rest in US. “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” In all this, the high priesthood of Christ, greater than that of Aaron’s, is the reason why we can “go on to maturity,” that we can make our “hope sure,” and “inherit what has been promised!” And to this end the author now takes almost four chapters to describe Christ’s high priestly office, to help the brothers and sisters go on to maturity. May we as well by God’s grace.

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 651.
(2) Bruce quotes A.B. Davidson stating that “Our hope, based upon his promises, is our spiritual anchor. The figure of the anchor is not pressed; all that is meant is that ‘we are moored to an immoveable object’ – and that immovable object is the throne of God himself.” F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised), The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 155.

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