In what ways did the author of Hebrews believe that history had reached the last days with the coming of Jesus Christ?

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Answer

The author of Hebrews believed that history had reached its apex, its last days, in the coming of Christ. Matter of fact, the first sentence of the book of Hebrews, the letter of Hebrews, better yet, the sermon to the Hebrews, starts out that way, doesn't it? That in, "Long ago, in many portions and in many different ways, God had spoken through the prophets and to the fathers, but now," and then here it is, "in these last days he has spoken in a Son," in his Son, the one who had inherited his own name, the divine name, and he rules and reigns at the right hand. And so, that's the first sentence of the book of Hebrews, really the first four verses, the prologue. And so, this familiar New Testament idea is that the last days had been inaugurated with the coming of Christ, the first advent of Christ and would be consummated at his return. And so, whereas the Old Testament looked towards that day of the Messiah, the age of the Messiah — we see that in something like Joel 2:28-32 — Hebrews says that time is now here. These are the last days because God has now spoken the definitive and final word in his Son. What else does he need to say? What else does he need to do? The redemption that had been anticipated, the redemption that had been promised, has now found its fulfillment, or as Paul would say, it's "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ. You think of something like chapter 10:8, 9 and 10 where he says all of these things in the Old Testament happened, the sacrifice or the temple, and all of these pictures were pointing towards the final day of restoration, this final day of restoration. Or even think of chapter 12 where it says, "Fix your eyes on Christ the author and perfecter of our faith who leads us to that final place, that final eternal city that chapter 12, particularly 22 through 24 refer to – the congregation, the great the presence of God, where Christ is, and the angels, and the great assembly, the festal gathering, that final place – that these are the last days and the only thing left to come is Christ to return and his kingdom be consummated, which has been inaugurated in his first coming in his person and work at the cross.

Answer by Dr. Barry Joslin

Dr. Barry Joslin is Associate Professor of Christian Theology and Program Coordinator, Biblical and Theological Studies at Boyce College