Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • This chapter is unavailable for purchase
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: October 2014

5 - The faithfulness of Christ

from Part III - The rewritten narrative



In Part 3, we are discussing the way Jesus has rewritten the default human narrative. Through his participation in the human story, his faithfulness in the face of death, and his resurrection, Jesus has written a new story with a new assured conclusion of life rather than death. In this chapter we turn to the faithfulness of Christ, and I will argue that Jesus’ faithfulness is his obedience to the point of self-sacrifice in death. The faithfulness of Christ accomplishes two broad points. Taking our cues from Heb 12:2, the faithful Christ (1) pioneers and (2) perfects faith. What “pioneers” and “perfects” mean will become clearer as we go, but in short, the author of Hebrews depicts Jesus as the faithful one par excellence who successfully finishes the race of faith in the face of death (pioneers) and so secures the assured conclusion of eschatological life for those participating in the same story of faith (perfects).

In the introductory chapter, I offered the four dimensions of faith as (1) Christological, (2) ethical, (3) eschatological, and (4) ecclesiological. In this chapter we will discover the first three dimensions in full force. We will see that faith, as modeled perfectly in Jesus (Christological dimension), is one of endurance to the point of death (ethical dimension) that realizes postmortem life as its assured conclusion (eschatological dimension).

Strathmann, Hermann, “ΜΑΡΤΥΣ, ΚΤΛ,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament; Vol. IV: Λ–Ν, ed. Kittel, Gerhard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 504–508
van Henten, Jan Willem and Avemarie, Friedrich, Martyrdom and Noble Death: Selected Texts from Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Antiquity (London: Routledge, 2002), 2
deSilva, David, “The Noble Contest: Honor, Shame, and the Rhetorical Strategy of 4 Maccabees,” JSP 7 (1995), 55
Pfitzner, Victor C., Paul and the Agon Motif: Traditional Athletic Imagery in the Pauline Literature, NovTSup 16 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967), 57–65
Scaer, Peter J., The Lukan Passion and the Praiseworthy Death, New Testament Monographs 10 (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005), 82–84
Nickelsburg, George W. E., Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction, 2nd ed. [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005], 106
Easter, Matthew C., “Let Us Go to Him: The Story of Faith and the Faithfulness of Jesus in Hebrews” (Ph.D. diss., University of Otago, 2011), 232–36
Shepkaru, Shmuel, Jewish Martyrs in the Pagan and Christian Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 25–32
Anderson, H., “4 Maccabees,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Volume 2, ed. Charlesworth, James H. [New York: Doubleday, 1985], 533–34
Williams, , Jesus’ Death as Saving Event [HDR 2. Missoula: Scholars, 1975], 197–202, here 202
Klauck, Hans-Josef, “Hellenistische Rhetorik im Diasporajudentum: Das Exordium des Vierten Makkabäerbuchs (4 Makk 1.1–12),” NTS 35 [1989], 452
Johnston, George, “Christ as Archegos,” NTS 27 [1981], 381–85
Croy, N. Clayton, “A Note on Hebrews 12:2,” JBL 114, no. 1 (1995), 117–19
Thiessen, Matthew, “Hebrews 12.5–13, the Wilderness Period, and Israel’s Discipline,” NTS 55 (2009), 378
Porter, Stanley E., Idioms of the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. [Sheffield: JSOT, 1994], 103
Horning, Estella B., “Chiasmus, Creedal Structure, and Christology in Hebrews 12:1–2,” BR 23 [1978], 40
Craigie, Peter C., Psalms 1–50, WBC 19 (Waco: Word Books, 1983), 203
Héring, Jean, The Epistle to the Hebrews, trans. Heathcote, A. W. and Allcock, P. J. (London: Epworth, 1970), 40
Maurer, Christian, “‘Erhört wegen der Gottesfurcht’, Hebr 5,7,” in Neues Testament und Geschichte Historisches Geschehen und Deutung im Neuen Testament. Oscar Cullmann zum 70. Geburtstag., eds. Reicke, Bo and Baltensweiler, Heinrich (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1972), 275–84
Attridge, Harold W., “‘Heard Because of His Reverence’ (Heb 5:7),” JBL 98, no. 1 (1979), 91–93
Hofius, Otfried, “The Fourth Servant Song in the New Testament Letters,” in The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources, eds. Janowski, Bernd and Stuhlmacher, Peter [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004], 184–85
Swetnam, James, “The Crux at Hebrews 5, 7–8,” Bib 81 [2000], 354