Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series?

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Richard Milbrandt | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, May 26 2017 1:53 PM

Does anyone have the complete Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series?  If so, what are your thoughts on the series?

Posts 1025
Keith Pang | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 2:00 PM

I have the whole series, I enjoy the little that I have used so far. The few volumes that I have used have been thoughtful. I would recommend it. 

Shalom, in Christ, Keith. Check out my music www.soundcloud.com/therealkpang

Posts 7509
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 2:44 PM

 Very nice and practical set. My advice is check out what your upgrade price is for Pentecostal charismatic silver package it has that set and more.  You might be able to get it cheaper that way;   That's how I got it.

DAL

Posts 484
Travis Walter | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 2:57 PM

DAL -- its actually in P&C Bronze also.  So even cheaper.

Posts 7509
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 3:12 PM

Travis Walter:

DAL -- its actually in P&C Bronze also.  So even cheaper.

Yeah I missed that one! Yep even cheaper.

Posts 5301
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 4:06 PM

It is a very good evangelical commentary, very practical and warm in tone. I was using this tonight and found the following passage particularly helpful to my devotional thoughts:

A. Jesus as Merciful Son and High Priest (4:14–5:10)

Notes

4:14 what we believe. Lit., “our confession” (homologia [TG3671, ZG3934], as in 3:1: “whom we declare”). It is not a matter of private belief but of public identification as Christian believers.

4:15 understands our weaknesses. The double negative (lit., “we do not have a High Priest who is not able to understand our weaknesses”) is appropriately translated here as a positive statement. The “understanding” in view is a pastoral, not merely intellectual, understanding (cf. Gr. sumpatheō [TG4834, ZG5217], “to sympathize” or even “suffer with” those who are weak).

4:16 let us come. That is, in worship or prayer. The verb “to approach” or “come to” (proserchomai [TG4334, ZG4665]) can be used in Hebrews either of conversion to the worship of the true God (7:25; 11:6) or of the act of worship itself, as here (see 10:1, 22; 12:18, 22).

5:1 Every high priest is a man. The original text does not say in so many words that a high priest had to be a male. That was clearly the case in Judaism but not always in Greco-Roman religions. Because the author was speaking of Jewish priests, he presupposes that they were male, but his emphasis was on the high priest’s humanity, not his gender. A high priest is chosen “from among human beings” (ex anthrōpōn [TG1537/0444, ZG1666/0476]) to act “on behalf of human beings” (huper anthrōpōn [TG5228/0444, ZG5642/0476]).

5:5 That is why Christ. That is, “the Christ.” The definite article suggests that “Christ” is used here as a title (as perhaps in 3:14) rather than a name (as in 3:6). The point may be that the one who was already God’s Messiah or Anointed King did not presume to claim for himself the additional title of High Priest.

5:8 learned … suffered. These words rhyme in Greek (emathen [TG3129, ZG3443] … epathen [TG3958, ZG4248]), and their similarity made their connection almost a commonplace in ancient Greek literature: One “learns by experience” (paschō [TG3958, ZG4248] can mean either experience in a general sense or suffering in particular). See, for example, the Jewish philosopher Philo Heir 73 (Yonge 1993:282); Special Laws 4.29 (Yonge 1993:618); Dreams 2.107 (Yonge 1993:395). In contrast to Jesus, Melchizedek, according to Philo, “received a self-instructed [automathē] and self-taught [autodidaktikon] priesthood” (see Preliminary Studies 99; Yonge 1993:312).

5:9 God qualified him as a perfect High Priest. Lit., “having been perfected” (teleiōtheis [TG5048, ZG5457]). The passive participle implies God as the one doing the “perfecting.” While this “perfection” can be linked to sanctification or cleansing (see, for example, 9:9; 10:14), it is not a negative term involving the removal of sins or imperfections but a positive one signaling the completion of God’s purposes, whether for Jesus or God’s people (see note on 2:10).

the source of eternal salvation. “Source” or “cause” (aitios [TG159, ZG165]) is an impersonal term, yet is used here almost as a title for Jesus (like archēgos [TG747, ZG795], meaning “perfect leader,” that is, of “their salvation” in 2:10, or “champion” in 12:2).

5:10 God designated him. Lit., “designated by God,” echoing “called by God,” the phrase used of Jewish high priests like Aaron (5:4). This accents the parallel between Jesus and the traditional Jewish priesthood, while in the same breath introducing him as a new kind of priest “in the order of Melchizedek” (5:6, 10), designated as such by the words of God in Ps 110:4.

Commentary

Having put his readers under the knife by exposing them to the penetrating scrutiny and judgment of God, “to whom we are accountable” (4:12–13), the author returns to the more comforting thought of Jesus as “merciful and faithful High Priest” (2:17). The promised “rest,” or “Sabbath observance,” of God’s people (4:9) is only possible as the result of God’s mercy revealed in Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus was “faithful to God, who appointed him” (3:2), we now learn in what ways he is “merciful” as well. As both “Son of God” and “a great High Priest who has entered heaven” (4:14), Jesus is merciful in the same way God is merciful. The reader knows that Jesus is God’s Son (see 1:2, 5, 7, 8), seated “at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” (1:3), but learns now that God’s throne is a place of “mercy,” where he gives “grace to help us when we need it most” (4:16). In light of the intervening section (3:7–4:13), the author urges us to “hold firmly to what we believe,” that is, to what we believe and confess about Jesus (4:14), and therefore to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God” (4:16). Instead of “hardening our hearts” (3:8, 15; 4:7), we must “do our best” (4:11) to gain mercy. The way to do this is through prayer, which is what the author means by “coming boldly” to God’s throne (see 10:19).

If Jesus is merciful because he is God’s Son and therefore like God, he is merciful also because he is like us, having shared fully in the human condition. He is a High Priest who “understands our weaknesses” because he “faced all of the same testings we do” (4:15). In this respect he is not unlike the ancient priests of Israel, who were “subject to the same weaknesses” as the “ignorant and wayward” people they represented (see 5:2). There would be nothing remarkable about this if he were a merely human priest, but he is not. Rather, he is our “great” High Priest in heaven (4:14–16; compare 10:21) and God’s own Son. How can he understand, much less be subject to, the weaknesses of an “ignorant and wayward” people of God? The author leaves it a mystery, yet he has prepared us for it with the claim that Jesus was “not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (2:11), that he became “flesh and blood” (2:14), and that he was “made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters” (2:17). Little is new here, for the author has already made it clear that because Jesus “has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (2:18). He adds only two things: First, that Jesus endured “all” (kata panta [TG2596/3956A, ZG2848/4246]) of the same trials and testings that we face, and second, that through it all “he did not sin” (4:15).

The author did not pause to enumerate “all” the ways in which Jesus was, or might have been, tested. He did not, for example, speculate about Jesus’ sexuality, instincts for survival, hunger or thirst, or what appeal money or power may have had. Nor did the writer give any concrete examples of “testing,” as in the Gospel narratives (see Matt 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13). The sole point of reference is the earlier notice that Jesus was “faithful to God, who appointed him” (3:2). Whatever the “test” or “temptation,” the one thing at stake is faithfulness, whether in Jesus’ case or ours. Jesus’ “sinlessness” here does not in any way qualify or limit his true humanity. It is not some abstract perfectionism, which we as humans cannot hope to emulate. It is, on the contrary, something this book explicitly calls us to emulate. To say that Jesus “did not sin” is simply to say that his faithfulness to God did not give out. Unlike “the people who sinned” in the desert (3:17), he did not “drift away” (2:1) or disobey God (4:6), and neither should we (see 3:13). That he did not sin is not something unique to him but something that should be true of everyone who aspires to be his follower. The call to “come boldly” in prayer to “the throne of our gracious God” to obtain mercy (4:16) is in effect also a call to “sin no more” (see 10:26; 12:1, 4), for “mercy” and “grace” are by no means permission slips to go on sinning. Their purpose is rather “to help us when we need it most” (4:16).

The author goes on to explain what it means to call Jesus our “High Priest” (5:1–4). What is a high priest, or any priest for that matter? The answer is given in the most general of terms. A high priest is a human being chosen to represent other human beings before God (see note on 5:1) by presenting their “gifts to God” and offering “sacrifices for their sins.” Aside from a vague reference to the “people” (5:2), nothing is said of an explicitly Jewish priesthood until “Aaron” is finally named as an example (5:4). And yet the Jewish priesthood as instituted in Leviticus was clearly in the author’s mind, for the principle that the priest offers sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people (5:3) is firmly grounded in biblical law (see Lev 9:7; 16:6, 15). Whether the Levitical priesthood still existed at the time Hebrews was written is of course an open question (see “Date of Writing” in the Introduction). Perhaps the author spoke of the priesthood first in very general terms because he would eventually present Jesus as High Priest within a framework very different from the Levitical Jewish priesthood—that is, in what he calls “the order of Melchizedek” (5:6, 10). Yet he knew many details about the Jewish priestly system, and as he goes along, he will show both the similarities and the differences between the Jewish high priesthood and that of Jesus.

The writer’s emphasis is, at first, on the similarities. Like the Jewish priests, Jesus presents our gifts to God and offers a sacrifice for our sins. We too, like the “people,” are “ignorant and wayward,” and Jesus is “subject to the same weaknesses” we are (5:2; see 2:17; 4:15). The one difference is that the Jewish high priest “must offer sacrifices for his own sins” as well as for the sins of his people (5:3; see also 7:27; 9:7), while Jesus had no sins of his own (see 4:15). With this exception, he is like the Jewish high priests, although we will hear of more exceptions later on (see 7:20–28; 9:24–26; 10:11–13). For the moment the author takes no note of this difference, or any others, but instead emphasizes one major similarity. High priests in the Jewish system did not claim that honor for themselves. This was true at least theoretically. In practice, the Jewish priesthood became corrupted by politics in the course of time, but Hebrews looks at it as it was meant to be, not as it actually existed in history. God was the one who called certain people to be priests, starting with Aaron when he told Moses, “Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons.… Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests” (Exod 28:1).

Jesus, too, was “called by God” (5:4) and “chosen by God” (5:5). As to how and under what circumstances and with what words, the author again appeals to his favorite resource, the Jewish Scriptures (5:5–6). He introduces two biblical quotations, one that he had used before and a new one. In both, God is speaking to Jesus, and each brings out an aspect of Jesus’ call. The first, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father” (5:5), helps introduce Jesus as God’s Son right at the start (1:5) and now reinforces the twin assertion that Jesus is both “a great High Priest” and “the Son of God” (4:14). Jesus’ Sonship and his High Priesthood are inseparable. The second, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (5:6), builds on the last of the seven biblical quotations in chapter 1, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet” (1:13). That quotation came from Psalm 110:1, and now the author looks three verses further on, at Psalm 110:4, which says, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The abrupt mention of “Melchizedek” is jarring. Would the name have been familiar to the readers of Hebrews? It is hard to tell. Jewish intellectuals such as Josephus and Philo had quite a bit to say about him, but how widely traditions about him were known is an open question. The lengthy explanation later on (7:1–10) suggests that even if the readers knew the name, they knew little else. If they had a scroll of Psalm 110 spread out in front of them (which is doubtful), they might have seen a connection between Jesus sitting at God’s right hand and being a priest like Melchizedek, but even this would not have taken them very far. It would have been much clearer to say, “You are a priest forever in the order of Aaron” (see 5:4), but that would not have been true (see 7:11–14), and there is no Scripture to that effect. So Melchizedek is a mystery, and for the time being the author lets him remain so.

Instead of explaining the reference, the writer elaborates on the process of learning obedience as it relates to Jesus’ high priesthood (5:7–10). The structure of these four verses in Greek is remarkable. There are no main verbs in verse 7 at all, only participles leading up to the two main verbs of the entire passage: first, that Jesus “learned (emathen [TG3129, ZG3443]) obedience from the things he suffered” (5:8; see note), and second, that because of this he “became (egeneto [TG1096, ZG1181]) the source of eternal salvation” (5:9). The point of the first clause (5:8) is not that Jesus was disobedient to begin with or that he somehow had to “learn” to obey God. The author will insist in a later argument that from the time he “came into the world” Jesus said, “Look, I have come to do your will, O God” (10:5, 7). Obedience was his purpose from the start, but what he had to learn was what obedience entailed. As Paul put it, Jesus “became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8, NIV, my italics). The point of the second clause (5:9) is that all this was not for his own sake but for the salvation of others: “He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.”

With these thoughts already in mind, the author supplies in advance an example of this learning process from Jesus’ prayer life (5:7). The expression “while Jesus was here on earth” is literally “in the days of his flesh,” thereby reminding us that Jesus “became flesh and blood” and was thereby subject to “the fear of dying” (2:14–15). The prayers described here have to do with just such fear, the common fear of death that enslaves all humanity. Jesus “offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God” (5:7). Having already quoted Psalm 22:22 (“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people”; 2:12), the author may have had in mind here the psalmist’s words two verses later, that God “has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help” (Ps 22:24). It is also possible to point to instances in the Gospels that could fit such a description, not the least of which is Jesus’ cry of abandonment from the cross (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”; Mark 15:34) taken from the opening words of that same psalm, or his prayer in Gethsemane (“Please take this cup of suffering away from me”; Mark 14:36).

The singular expression, “a loud cry,” suggests a specific incident (possibly the cry from the cross), but there is no way to be certain. If Jesus prayed to be saved from impending death, as in Gethsemane, then his prayer was not answered, at least not in the way he hoped. Yet Hebrews is saying that “God heard his prayers.”

Some commentators (Stuart 1833:574–575; Buchanan 1985:97–98) have proposed that God heard Jesus and delivered him “from his fear” (apo tēs eulabeias [TG575/2124, ZG608/2325]) so as to face death boldly (see Ps 116:1–8). Yet although “a loud cry and tears” might seem to imply fear, abject or unhealthy fear is not what “deep reverence for God” (eulabeia [TG2124, ZG2325]) means. Such reverence was Noah’s attitude when he obeyed God by building the ark (11:7), and in Hebrews it becomes the standard for all Christian worship (12:28). Jesus was not delivered “from” eulabeia, but on the contrary his prayer was heard precisely “because of” (apo [TG575, ZG608]) such “deep reverence for God.”

If Jesus’ prayer was answered, then Hebrews must be claiming that his request was to be rescued after death, that is, to be raised from the dead. While it may seem “unlikely that this [request] was actually the prayer of Jesus,” least of all at Gethsemane (see Hagner 1995:84), Hebrews appears to consider resurrection from the dead to be Jesus’ prayer, probably on the basis of the author’s understanding of Psalm 22. If God was “the one who could rescue him from death,” and if “God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God” (5:7), then he was rescued from death, and this could only have been by his resurrection. Only as the Risen One can Jesus now sing God’s praises “among your assembled people” (see 2:12).

Some interpreters have argued that the writer of Hebrews knew little or nothing of Jesus’ resurrection. Harold Attridge (1989:46), for example, claims (based on the repeated use of Ps 110:1) that Jesus’ “exaltation” to heaven, not his “resurrection,” is the basis of Christology in Hebrews. But it is a distinction without a difference. To argue that Jesus was taken to heaven while still alive would be to deny his death, which is the center of interest in Hebrews. And if Jesus’ exaltation came not while he was still alive but only because he died, then what could the exaltation have been but resurrection? Moreover, the letter’s final benediction refers quite explicitly to “the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep” (13:20). If, as Attridge admits (1989:46), the author of Hebrews “probably conceived of resurrection and exaltation as a single event,” it is legitimate to ask what resurrection contributes in that equation. What it contributes is the theme of victory over death. Resurrection is how God rescued Jesus from death, and only through resurrection could Jesus’ death “break the power of the devil, who had the power of death,” setting free “all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (2:14–15). The author’s interest in resurrection shows through again later when he explains Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac by his confidence that “if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again” (11:19; see also 11:35).

Jesus’ “prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears” are presented here as priestly acts, something Jesus “offered” (5:7) as he might offer a sacrifice. Yet he was praying for himself here and not for others (see Ellingworth 1993:287–288). Because Jesus “did not sin” (4:15), this is as close as the author can come to illustrating from Jesus’ life the principle that a high priest “must offer sacrifices for his own sins” before he acts as a priest for others (5:3). Jesus was not dealing with his own sins here, but he was dealing with his own human “weaknesses” (see 4:15; 5:2). This illustrates both the principle that Jesus “faced all of the same testings we do” (4:15) and that he “learned obedience from the things he suffered” (5:8). His priesthood was not complete while he was on earth. He was not yet the “great High Priest” he would later become, and if he had been just a human being he would not have been a priest at all (see 8:4).

Jesus’ high priesthood rests first on his identity as “Son of God” (3:1, 6; 4:14; 5:5) but on something else as well. “Even though (kaiper [TG2539, ZG2788]) Jesus was God’s Son,” the author insists, he still had to “learn obedience” from what he suffered (5:8). In light of another well-known passage in Hebrews, we might have expected that because he was God’s Son he learned obedience. So far as God’s human children are concerned, “the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.… Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?” (12:6–7). While Jesus does not hesitate to call us his “brothers and sisters” (2:11–12), his sonship is unique. He is not one child of God among many. Rather, as we were told at the beginning, he “radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command” (1:3). Nevertheless, like God’s humbler children he still “learned obedience from the things he suffered.” The goal of this process, which the author calls “perfecting” (see 2:10), or qualifying, Jesus “as a perfect High Priest” (5:9), is Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand in heaven (implied by Ps 110:1) or his resurrection (implied here by the notion that God “rescued him from death”). By it he becomes “the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him” (5:9). The play on words is deliberate: Because Jesus was “rescued,” or “saved” (5:7), others are “saved” through him, and because he learned “obedience” (5:8), others now “obey him” (see Ellingworth 1993:295). They, too, will be “perfected,” for through the perfecting of Jesus (see also 7:28), they, too, come to God and gain access to heaven (see 7:19; 9:9; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 12:23). This is how God “bringSleep many children into glory” (2:10), and it is what the author means by “eternal salvation” (cf. 2:3).

Once raised from the dead and exalted to God’s right hand, Jesus’ “call” from God (see 5:4) goes into effect. The author introduces the mysterious figure of Melchizedek once more, taking up the words of Psalm 110:4 again and making them his own: “And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek” (5:10). This does two things: First, it interprets the word “priest” in the psalm quotation as “High Priest,” linking the quotation to the author’s repeated claim that Jesus is our “High Priest” (2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15); second, it makes clear that the “perfected” or risen Jesus is the one “in the order of Melchizedek,” not the Jesus on earth prior to his death. But the question lingers and gains new urgency: Why Melchizedek? Who was he? An earthly or a heavenly figure? And what does he have to do with Jesus? The answers to these questions are postponed for yet another chapter (see 7:1ff).

 Ramsey J. Michaels, “Commentary on Hebrews,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, vol. 17 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 362–369.

-dan

Posts 58
Richard Milbrandt | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 26 2017 7:46 PM

Thanks for the input.

Posts 3251
Whyndell Grizzard | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 27 2017 3:03 AM

I would put this series on the lower rungs of the study ladder- maybe just for Sunday School.

Posts 5301
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 27 2017 9:52 AM

I consider it more devotional and a bit theological.... I do think it would be helpful for people preparing for Sunday school lessons, but I would say it really depends on who a person is. I know several pastors who only use devotional style commentaries to help inspire their sermons. Some people will only benefit from a deeply technical commentary others prefer something more devotional. I would never call this a commentary series for in-depth critical study, but I would bet more than a few pastors would find benefit in it. But again I believe it has a lot to do with how one mind is set. I occasionally can have deeply profound theological thoughts while watching science-fiction, doesn't mean everyone will. And while I would not want to hear a sermon based on an episode of Star Trek or Star Wars a passing reference can be good as it can help people to realize God and the Holy Spirit may move people anywhere using anything, even something that appears "godless".

-dan

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