Page 7 - November 2023 - Truth & Tidings
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(10:32,33). In this context, he gratefully ac-  Jesus of Nazareth as both Lord and Christ
        knowledges that they had “compassion”   would have formed throughout Israel or
        of him in his imprisonment (despite hav-  in Roman or Hellenistic lands. This was
        ing to suffer persecution), and “joyfully”   but one of them.
        allowed their goods to be plundered in   The strongest argument for their He-
        the process (10:34).                  brew origin is the sheer volume of OT
          Although the letter lacks a specific   references relating to God’s dealings with
        greeting, there is little doubt the recipi-  Israel. Such references include the seed of
        ents were a company of believers. While   Abraham, the fathers, Israel’s redemption
        much of the letter could be taken as for a   from the land of Egypt, the Red Sea, the
        broader audience, the writer’s intentions   covenant God made with Israel and the
        “that I may be restored to you the sooner”   blood of the covenant, covenant promises,
        (13:19) and “I will see you” (v23) imply he   experiences at Sinai, the Law of Moses, the
        has a local assembly in mind. A specific   tabernacle and its furniture, the Levitical
        company can also be seen from the writer   priesthood, the system of sacrifices, tith-
        addressing them as “dull of hearing” and   ing, the day of atonement, the Sabbath and
        needing someone to teach them “again”   its rest, Israel in the wilderness, Jericho,
        (5:11,12). Consider also the three injunc-  Jerusalem, Zion, the judges of Israel, the
        tions concerning their attitude towards   prophets, and numerous OT figures (such
        their leaders in chapter 13 (vv7,17,24).   as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Melchisedec,
        Verse 17 says they are to “obey them.” The   Moses, Joshua, David, etc.). It is indeed
        reason is that “they watch for your souls,   an impressive portrait of the old economy.
        as they that must give account.” This   References to Messiah also abound – His
        injunction is not intended to transcend   eternal Sonship, His creatorial power, His
        beyond the autonomous government and   first coming, His sufferings, His second
        functioning of a local assembly. It is also   coming, His judgement, His millennial
        a clear reference to a group of elders who   kingdom, His throne, His rule and His
        are responsible for feeding and overseeing   eternal being. Throughout, passages are
        a specific flock (Act 20:28; 1Pe 5:2,3). But   cited, either directly or abstractly, from
        as to the exact location of the assembly,   each book of the Pentateuch, Joshua,
        we do not know.                       Judges, 2 Samuel, Psalms (several), Prov-
        Their Pedigree in Israel              erbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Haggai
          The title  pros  ebraious (“To the He-  and Zechariah. If the recipients were not
        brews”) appears on one of the oldest   Jews, what purpose would there be in
        surviving Greek manuscripts, P46. Al-  traversing the full landscape of Judaism
        though the title isn’t part of the inspired   to prove that Christ is better?
        text, it succinctly describes the national   Note also the writer’s reference to “signs
        and religious heritage of Jews who had   and wonders” (2:4). While it is possible
        received Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and   Gentiles were among the recipients, the
        Christ. When considering the salvation   truth that “Jews require a sign” (1Co 1:22)
        and distribution of many Jews in the book   seems to underscore their Jewish heritage
        of the Acts (e.g., 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7; 8:12;   and the intention for which signs were
        9:26; 10:45), one can easily see how vari-  manifest by the Holy Spirit in apostolic days
        ous companies of Jews who had accepted   (e.g., Act 2:4,43; 3:7-8; 5:12,16,19; etc.).

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