Saturday, September 4, 2010

Anthony Buzzard on Hebrews 1:10 and John 17:5

Found this here:

This is a little edited by me to shorten it so go to the link to read about Hebrews 1 and more!

Hebrews 1:10“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

These texts need to be used with this one:

Hebrews 2:5: Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.

Buzzard says:

In Hebrews 1:10, there is a complication due to the fact that the writer quotes Psalm 102 from the Greek version (LXX) and not the Hebrew version. The LXX (Septuagint) has a different sense entirely in Psalm 102:23-25. It introduces thoughts not found in the Hebrew text. It introduces God’s reply to the suppliant. The LXX, quoted in Hebrews 1:10, says: “He [God] answered him [the suppliant]…Tell me [God speaking to the suppliant]…Thou, lord [God addressing someone else called ‘lord’].” But the Hebrew text has “He [God] weakened me…I [the suppliant] say, ‘O my God…’”

Thus the LXX introduces a second lord who is addressed by God: “At the beginning you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (v. 25). The writer to the Hebrews had open before him the LXX and not the Hebrew (rather as today someone might quote the NIV instead of the KJV). The New Testament often cites the LXX Greek. F.F. Bruce in the New International Commentary on Hebrews explains:

In the Septuagint text the person to whom these words [“of old you laid the foundation of the earth”] are spoken is addressed explicitly as “Lord”; and it is God who addresses him thus. Whereas in the Hebrew text the suppliant is the speaker from the beginning to the end of the psalm, in the Greek text his prayer comes to an end with v. 22, and the next words read as follows: “He [God] answered him [the suppliant] in the way of his strength: ‘Declare to Me the shortness of My days: Bring Me not up in the midst of My days. Thy [the suppliant’s] years are throughout all generations. Thou, lord [the suppliant, viewed here as the Messiah by Hebrews], in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth.’”5 This is God’s answer to the suppliant; He bids him acknowledge the shortness of God’s set time (for the restoration of Jerusalem, as in v. 13) and not summon Him [God] to act when that set time has only half expired, while He [God] assures him [the suppliant, called lord by God] that he and his servants’ children will be preserved forever…

Bacon suggested that the Hebrew, as well as the Greek, text of this psalm formed a basis for messianic eschatology, especially its reference to the “shortness” of God’s days, i.e., of the period destined to elapse before the consummation of His purpose [the arrival of the yet future Messianic Kingdom on earth]; he found here the OT background of Matt. 24:22, Mark 13:20 and Ep. Barn. 4.3 (“as Enoch says, ‘For to this end the Master [God] has cut short the times and the days, that his Beloved [Jesus] should make haste and come to his inheritance’”)…

But to whom (a Christian reader of the Septuagint might well ask) could God speak in words like these? And whom would God himself address as “Lord,” as the maker [or founder] of earth and heaven?-F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament), Eerdmans, 1990, p.62-63.

Reading the LXX the Hebrews writer sees an obvious reference to the new heavens and earth of the future Kingdom and he sees God addressing the Messianic Lord in connection with the prophecies of the rest of Psalm 102 which speak of “the generation to come” (v. 18) and of the set time for Yahweh to build up Zion and appear in His glory. The fact that the One YHVH addresses another “lord” proves that the second lord cannot be YHVH.

The important article by B.W. Bacon (alluded to by Bruce above) stresses the fact that “The word ‘lord’ is wholly absent from the Hebrew [and English] text of Psalm 102:25.” But it appears in the LXX cited by Hebrews.

[With the translation in the LXX “he answered him”] the whole passage down to the end of the psalm becomes the answer of Yahweh to the suppliant who accordingly appears to be addressed as Kurie [lord] and creator of heaven and earth...Instead of understanding the verse as a complaint of the psalmist at the shortness of his days which are cut off in the midst, LXX and the Vulgate understand the utterance to be Yahweh's answer to the psalmist’s plea that he will intervene to save Zion, because “it is time to have pity on her, yea, the set time is come” (v. 13). He is bidden acknowledge (or prescribe?) the shortness of Yahweh’s set time, and not to summon him when it is but half expired. On the other hand he [the Messianic lord] is promised that his own endurance shall be perpetual with the children of his servants.-B.W. Bacon, “Heb. 1:10-12 and the Septuagint Rendering of Ps. 102:23,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 3, 1902, p. 280-285.

This is exactly the point, and it can only be made clear when we see that 1) the Hebrews writer is reading the LXX, not the Hebrew text, and finding in the second half of the psalm a wonderful prophecy of the age to come (Kingdom, restoration of Israel) which fits his context exactly and that 2) there is a Messianic Lord addressed by Yahweh and invited to initiate a founding of the heaven and earth, the new political order in Palestine, exactly as said in Isaiah 51:16. This is precisely the message the Hebrews writer wants to convey about the superiority of Jesus over angels. Jesus is the founder of that coming new Kingdom order. The Hebrews writer in 2:5 tells us expressly that it is about “the inhabited earth of the future that we are speaking.”

The important points are these: 1) Psalm 102 is about the new creation and the “generation to come.” It is a Kingdom psalm and points to the Messianic future. The psalm speaks of the time coming to build up Zion, when the nations will fear God’s name, and when God’s glory will appear, what we know as the Parousia of Jesus. Verse 19 of the LXX speaks of a new generation, and a people who are going to be created. This is all about the new creation in Christ, of which we are now already a part.

All this is really not so difficult when this difference in the LXX is explained. Both Psalm 102 and Hebrews 2:5 and indeed the whole of Hebrews 1 refer to the new order of things initiated by Jesus and it would not matter whether we think of the new order as initiated at the ascension (“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me,” Matt. 28:18), or at the second coming. The new creation was initiated by Jesus even in this present age and it will of course be brought to a new stage of perfection in the coming age of the millennium, which is the first stage of the manifested Kingdom of God.

Psalm 102 is all about the coming age of the Kingdom and the restoration of Jerusalem in the millennium (see vv. 13-22). The writer looks forward to the restoration of the city when God appears in His glory (v. 16). The Psalm is written for the “generation to come” (v. 18) and a newly created people of the future Kingdom on earth. Hebrews 1-2 is speaking not of the Genesis creation but the “economy to come” (2:5).

The Oxford Bible Commentary (2000) is helpful when it notes that right up to Hebrews 2:5 the topic is the new creation in Christ. Hebrews 1:10 is included in that main subject:

The text at the center of Heb. 2:5ff. is Ps. 8:4-6 and it exhibits thematic connections to the scriptural catena [chain] of the first chapter [i.e. Heb. 1:10 is all part of the same reference to the new creation]…Heb. 2:5 [“the inhabited earth to come of which we speak”] is an introductory comment continuing the contrast between the Son and angels. Its reference to the “world to come” reinforces the notions of imminent judgment and cosmic transformation intimated by Ps. 102, cited at 1:10-12.

Isaiah 51:16 confirms this explanation. It speaks of an agent of God in whom God puts His words and whom He uses “to plant the heavens and earth.” The Word Biblical Commentary says:

Yahweh introduces Himself again, but this time in terms of His control of the raging sea. He addresses the one He is using to put His words into his mouth and protecting him very carefully. The purpose of this care is to allow him to plant heavens and earth. That makes no sense if it refers to the original [Genesis] creation. It uses the word NaTaH [Jer. 10:12 + 10 times], stretch out, while the verb here is NaTA, plant [establish people]. In the other instances God acts alone, using no agent [Isa. 44:24]. Here the one he has hidden in the shadow of his hand is his agent. Heavens and land here must refer metaphorically to the totality of order in Palestine, heavens meaning the broader overarching structure of the Empire, while land is the political order in Palestine itself. The assignment is then focused more precisely: to say to Zion, you are my people.”-Word Biblical Commentary: Isaiah 34-66, Word Books, 1987, p. 212.

Thus both in Psalm 102 (LXX) and in Isaiah 51 the Messiah is the agent whom God will use to establish the new political order of the age to come. Hebrews 1:10 is a prophecy, written in the past tense (as customarily prophecies are), but referring to the “inhabited earth of the future about which we are speaking” (Heb. 2:5). That is the concern in Hebrews 1:10. Jesus is the “father of the age to come” (Isa. 9:6, LXX).

Finally, in Hebrews 9:11 the writer speaks of “the good things to come” as the things “not of this creation.” By this he means that the things to come are of the new, future creation (see Heb. 2:5). That creation is under way since Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God where he is now co-creator, under the Father, of the new creation, and has “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matt. 28:18). Even the millennial age of the future will be replaced by a further renewed heaven and earth (Rev. 20:11; 21:1).

God has a new creation in Jesus and we are to be new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We are to join the one “new man” of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12-13). The presently unconverted Israel will itself be renewed, at least a remnant (Mic. 2:12; Rom. 11), through the great tribulation and Jesus’ deliverance at his post-tribulation Parousia (Matt. 24:29-31). The saints of all the ages will be immortalized at the resurrection after the end of the Great Tribulation which is still ahead. There is of course no pre-tribulation gathering. Nor has the Great Tribulation been going on continuously since AD 70. The Great Tribulation is a future short period of agony just before the return of the Messiah to the earth. This event is not a drive-by episode. Jesus is coming back to the earth where as son of David he belongs installed on the throne of David.

The world is going to be reborn and it will come under the supervision of Jesus and his followers (Matt. 19:28, Rev. 5:10; I Cor. 6:2, etc.) We must resist the temptation to be looking backwards to Genesis when the whole book of Hebrews bids us look forward to the “inhabited earth of the future” (Heb. 2:5). Note that in several places Hebrews speaks of the eternal redemption, inheritance, covenant, judgment, salvation and spirit “of the age [to come]” (aionios). Aionios refers to the Kingdom age to come and not just to eternity. Christians receive now the “holy spirit of the promise” (Eph. 1:13, NJB). We are to experience something of the future Kingdom age even now in the midst of trials and in a hostile world. Christians should not give away their inheritance to unconverted Jews! The church will inherit the land (Matt. 5:5; Rom. 4:13) and those who bless “the seed of Abraham” (Gen. 12) are those who bless the believers. “If you belong to Christ [and only then] you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:19). What a heritage is in store for those who endure to the end. Meanwhile should we not have a heart for the billions of human beings who have not been exposed to the great truths about God and the Messiah and the Kingdom in process of restoration? Who will tell them if you don’t?

Now..for John 17:5:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

This text can be reasoned with in light of ones like this one:

1 Peter 1:20: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

Now a little commentary by Anthony on John 17:5(one of the texts I used to think was explicit proof for the preexistence of the Lord Jesus.I have since seen keen reason outside that box my thoughts were in before with EASY scriptural precedent for the "Socinian" view.):

Things which are held in store as divine plans for the future are said to be “with God.” Thus in Job 10:13 Job says to God, “These things you have concealed in your heart: I know that this is with You” (see KJV). “He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him” (23:14). Thus the glory which Jesus had “with God” was the glory which God had planned for him as the decreed reward for his Messianic work now completed. The promise of glory “preexisted,” not Jesus himself. Note that this same glory which Jesus asked for has already been given to you (see John 17:22, 24), before you were even born! The promised Christian reward was given as a guaranteed future blessing by Jesus speaking around 30 AD. This is obviously glory and reward as a promise for the future.Your Christian reward was given (past tense) to you and Jesus whom God loved before the foundation of the world (v. 24). You may therefore say that you now “have” that glory although it is glory in promise and prospect. Jesus had that same glory in prospect before the foundation of the world (John 17:5). You can have something “with God,” meaning that you can have something promised by God for your future, and it is laid up in store with God now and will be delivered to you when Jesus comes back. 2 Timothy 1:9 is similar: “grace was given to us before the ages of time began.”

Christians were already “in Christ” (Eph 1:4) before the world began and foreknown by God (1 Pet. 1:2).

Paul can say that we now already “have” a new body with God in heaven — i.e. we have the promise of it, not in actuality. That body will be ours at the return of Christ. We now “have” it in anticipation and promise only. “We have a building of God,” (2 Cor. 5:1). We do not in fact have it yet. But when we do get that reward in the future, we will be able to say “give me the glorified body” which I had with you, i.e., as promised.

Peter speaks of a day being like a thousand years “with God” (2 Pet. 3:8). This is the proper sense of “with God” in John 17:5. Things which are “with God” are those things which He plans and prepares. Thus Jesus asked to receive at the end of his ministry the glory prepared for him “with God,” that is in God’s plans and in His mind. Revelation 13:8 states that the crucifixion happened long before the birth of the Messiah. The idea is of course that it happened in God’s plan, not in actuality. We must think as Hebrews, and thus with Jesus and John, and not just read our western language forms into the Bible. Of course the word was “with God,” in His mind. “With God” does not imply a Son-Father relationship at that stage. Galatians 2:5 speaks of the Gospel remaining “with” (pros) the Galatians, that is in their minds.


  1. I find this post excellent! Keep up the good work and may our great God and the King bless you. Martin

  2. Hi Martin!Hope you're well.I always enjoy your updates on how things are going in email.Keep up your good work and may Yah continue blessing you in Christ!:-)

  3. Jn17:5 is pretty straightforward - as you noted - esp. when viewed in the of such texts as "tear this temple down and in three days I will raise it again" and similar seemingly mysterious statements made by Jesus - unless considered within his parabolic style of speaking.

    Heb 1:10-12 is the only troublesome vs in my opinion for those who maintain that Jesus is a genuine man rather than a divine being in a non-functional human puppet. However, their multitude of problems are FAR, FAR greater...