Thomas R. Schreiner

Let Us Worship the Divine Priest-King: An Advent Meditation from Hebrews

Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Sunday, December 25, 2022
Jesus shares the very nature and being of God, sharing the same divine essence. Thus, we are not surprised to read in his citation of Hebrews 1:8 that Jesus is identified as God, and since he is God the angels worship him (Heb. 1:6). We know that only God is to be worshiped (Rev. 19:10; 22:9), and thus the worship of Jesus also confirms his full deity.

While Christmas often directs our thoughts to the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, we should not limit ourselves to the Gospels. In fact, the christology of Hebrews stands out for its beauty, power, and theological profundity. In this brief article I want to consider the christology of Hebrews and the way that book teaches us to see Christ as the fulfillment of the three key Psalms and the divine priest-king who deserves all true worship.
Jesus, Our Melchizedekian Priest-King: A Meditation on Psalm 110
The author unfolds for us in this first chapter both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ, though we should add immediately that the humanity of Jesus is tied particularly to his kingship and priesthood. Perhaps the best point of entry for our reflection is Hebrews 1:3, where the author declares that Jesus sat down at God’s right hand after he had made a full cleansing for sin.
In saying this he alludes to Psalm 110:1, and we know that this psalm is a favorite of the author since he cites or alludes to it often (see Heb. 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). David, in the first verse of the psalm, affirms that there is a Lord greater than he, declaring that this greater Lord will sit at Yahweh’s right hand. In Matthew 22:41–46 Jesus himself taught that this verse pointed to him, and the author of Hebrews, along with other New Testament writers, picks up on Jesus’s exposition of the psalm. We have already noticed in Hebrews 1:3 that the author alludes to Psalm 110:1, but in Hebrews 1:13 he doesn’t merely allude to the verse, he quotes it, which certifies afresh how important the psalm is.
Another allusion to Psalm 110:1 surfaces in Hebrews 8:1 where we are told that the main point (kephalaion) being established is that Jesus has sat down at the right hand of God. In saying that this is the main point he points back to Hebrews 7, where we find a substantive treatment of Jesus’s Melchizedekian priesthood. Such a priesthood fulfills Old Testament promises in a typological manner since Jesus fulfills Psalm 110:4, which declares that the Lord who is greater than David (Ps. 110:1) is also “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4, ESV).
What we are told about Jesus’s Melchizedekian priesthood is tied to the cleansing of sins accomplished by Jesus (Heb. 1:3). In fact, we have another allusion to Psalm 110:1 in Hebrews 10:12 that makes this very point. Jesus, as our priest and king, has sat down at God’s right hand because his work is finished, because he has purified believers once for all. His one sacrifice has brought complete and final forgiveness forever.
We should pick up here the final allusion to Psalm 110:1 in the letter. Since Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand and since he ran the race faithfully, believers should also run the race to the end and look to Jesus as they do so (Heb. 12:1–2). Jesus atones for our sins as our priest and as our king—as our Melchizedekian priest and Davidic king. The christology of Hebrews has a pastoral purpose and soteriological aim; believers have confidence to enter the most holy place through the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19–22). Therefore it would be foolish and fatal to turn back to Jewish sacrifices and to abandon Jesus.
Jesus, Our Davidic King: A Meditation on Psalm 2
The kingship of Jesus isn’t restricted to the citation and allusions to Psalm 110 in the letter. The author also draws on Psalm 2, which is a messianic psalm that plays a vital role in the thinking of the writers of the New Testament, though here we must confine ourselves to Hebrews 1.
The psalm was originally written by David (see Acts 4:25), but it ultimately points to and is fulfilled in Jesus, in that David’s kingship functions as a type of the rule of Jesus.
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The New Heaven and the New Earth

Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Friday, December 16, 2022
All that is evil and defiling in this world will vanish. There will be discontinuity and continuity with the world we live in now. We will still reside in a physical universe, but it will be a world cleansed and purified from all sin. Some have interpreted 2 Peter 3:10–13 as teaching that the present world will be annihilated and burned up and then God will create a new universe out of nothing. This interpretation is certainly possible, but it is more likely that we should understand the burning to denote purification instead of annihilation so that the present world is purified and cleansed and renovated.

What will our heavenly existence be like? Some have envisioned believers as having an ethereal disembodied existence in which we float on clouds and strum on harps, but this picture does not fit with the biblical witness. The Scriptures teach that believers will be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12–19; 1 Thess. 4:13–18) and that we will have physical bodies forever. Resurrected bodies can’t exist without a place, however, and thus there must be a new world that we will inhabit. We are not surprised, then, to discover the promise that there will be a new creation (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1), a new world that is free from sin. “The first heaven and the first earth” will pass away, and “the sea [will be] no more” (Rev. 21:1), and then the new creation will come.

The removal of the sea doesn’t mean that there won’t be waters or seas in the new creation. The sea stands symbolically for chaos, for evil, for all that deforms and defaces the present world. The cleansing of the world from evil accords with Romans 8:18–25, where we find that in the present time the created world groans and is full of futility. We see such futility and groaning with tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other natural evils. The world that God created is good (Gen. 1:1–31), but Romans 8:18–25 teaches that when Adam sinned, both the human race and the created world were marred by sin. Of course, creation itself didn’t sin, but the sin of Adam was not restricted to him. It also affected the world that he had been commissioned to care for and steward. When Adam fell, the world fell with him, and thorns and thistles sprang up (Gen. 3:18).

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Humility Is the Main Ingredient of Prayer, Repentance, and Thanksgiving

Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Saturday, January 29, 2022
When we are thankful, we praise our great God that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). We recognize that there is no reason to boast about anything because everything we have is a gift (1 Cor. 4:8), that He is the One who supplies our every need (Phil. 4:19). Whether we are talking about prayer, repentance, or thanksgiving, we are saying in every instance that we are children and that we are dependent on our kind Father for everything, and that is the heart and soul of humility.

C.S. Lewis famously said, “If you don’t think you are conceited, you are very conceited indeed.” Certainly that applies to humility: if you think you are humble, you are probably suffused with pride. In this article, we will consider briefly how prayer, repentance, and thanksgiving are related to humility.
How does prayer relate to humility? We can answer that question by considering the nature of prayer. When we pray, we express our complete dependence on God. Prayer acknowledges what Jesus said in John 15:5: “You can do nothing without me” (CSB translation throughout).
When we pray and ask God for help, we are admitting that we are not “competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). Prayer testifies that we are “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), that we are not strong but weak, and that, as the hymn says, we “need thee every hour.” One of the most humble prayers in the world is “Help me, Lord.” We remember the simple prayer of the Canaanite woman when everything seemed to be against her. She cried out to Jesus, “Help me” (Matt. 15:25). Prayer is humble because when we pray, we are saying that God is merciful and mighty, that He is wise and sovereign, and that He knows far better than we do what is best for us.
Repentance and Humility
It isn’t difficult to understand that repentance—admitting that we were wrong and promising to live a new way—isn’t possible without humility. Pride rears its ugly head when we refuse to admit we are wrong, when we refuse to say we are sorry, when we refuse to repent. The best exemplar of this truth is the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9–14).
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Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace or a Sword?

Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Thursday, October 7, 2021
If family members turn against God or have never turned to him, and we side with them to please them, we are siding against Jesus. The Lord gives grace, for there is nothing sweeter and more delightful than knowing Jesus. We are not to make our families an object of idolatry. Families are wonderful, but we are prepared to meet Jesus only if he is first in our hearts.

I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Luke 12:49-53).
The need for faithfulness and obedience as disciples (12:35–48) is followed by the purpose of Jesus’ mission. In saying that he has come to cast fire on the earth that he wishes were kindled now, Jesus certainly refers to judgment. In the OT fire often designates judgment. For instance, Jeremiah’s words are as fire that consumes the people (Jer. 5:14; 23:29; cf. Sir. 48:1).
Amos warns Israel to seek the Lord, lest he “break out like fire” (Amos 5:6). On the other hand, in Luke fire also refers to the transforming work of the Spirit (Acts 2:3), and in Isaiah 4:4 the Spirit as fire both cleanses and purifies. Thus both ideas are likely present here. Jesus, as in the next verse, anticipates his death and resurrection, the consummation of his work. The final day of judgment will not come immediately, but judgment and salvation are inaugurated when Jesus’ work on earth is completed.
Jesus Came to Bring Together
The reference to baptism looks forward to the cross, to the great saving and judging event of Jesus’ ministry.
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