Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Compatibilism in Hebrews 1 & 2

Hebrews 1:14:

14 Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

Hebrews 1:14 contains a phrase that Paul writes as though it were a forgone conclusion: "touß mellontaß klhronomein". Translated: "That shall inherit" or "those who will inherit". From Robertson:

"...common idiom of 'mellw' (present active participle) with the infinitive (present active here), 'destined to inherit'..."

If I read this correctly, it's not a future tense indicating a future act of will, but it is a present fact for some that refers to a future state. However, look at the verses that follow in the first part of chapter 2.

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,
3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

If predestination precluded all sense of free will, then these verses couldn't be true. Paul sweeps through this in the context of revealing the Messiah through a comparison with the angels and uses it to encourage his Hebrew readers toward faith. If autonomous, libertarian free will precludes predestination, then 2:8 doesn't make sense:

8 "...YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET" For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

While things do not appear to be subject to Christ, they already are. All that the angels do is "for the sake of those who will inherit salvation." While this is not obvious or apparent to us, it is true. Christ reigns now. While we exhibit free will, this free will is not autonomous, but is subject to Christ.


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