Jesus for Jews: Philo, Rabbi Akiva, the Apocrypha

“God wants us to recognize Jesus as our God and our Brother,” states the Adult Bible Study Guide on Hebrews for this week. It’s essential to remember that the author of Hebrews is making an argument to a Jewish audience for the Messianic meaning of Jesus. As the lesson states, “After suffering persecution and rejection, many of them began to feel ashamed of Jesus.” Thus, the author reminds them of all the good qualities of the Messiah and how Jesus applies. He is a redeemer, a relative who pays off your debt. He took on flesh and blood and became a little lower than the angels—all this human suffering in order to defeat Satan. A founder of faith, Jesus was an example, a pioneer, a forerunner of the faithful as well. If his humanity (and historical death) might make one doubt, do not, the author argues, because being part of the human brotherhood is also an attribute of the expected Christ. In fact, he’s the biggest bro.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Was Christ’s humanity created at his incarnation inorder that he might be our brother in humanity?

This discussion hinges on how we think of God-Son-Spirit. Adventist teaching about these three comes out of the late 19th century when “spiritualism” was emerging, and was even used as entertainment. Adventist history revolves around that spiritualism and had to distance itself from it . As a result, SDA theology doesn’t recognize the existence of body-soul-spirit as definition of a person; so when we discuss “who is what” when it comes to God, the Father - God’s Son, Jesus - the Holy Spirit (as distinct from simply “spirit”) it gets pretty muddy, as though the subject isn’t difficult enough on its own.

The Bible is dealing with concepts we KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. There is no language that can accurately talk about God. The Bible talks in symbols as an adult would talk to a child about concepts a child can not possibly understand. The Father/Son relationship was introduced by Jesus. The OT knows nothing about it. The “Holy Spirit” was never mentioned in the initial Bible manuscripts until much later. The excerpt in I John 5 talks about “the Spirit, the water, and the blood” as one; changed to “Father, Son, Spirit” in later translations. This has been argued for centuries, and doesn’t make this discussion any more clear.

Suffice it to say, the NT changes the relationship between God and man to one of Father/son, Jesus being the “first fruits” of that relationship. Since mankind can’t make that relationship happen, God did. For us to see God as a nurturing Father (Abba-dad), God took it upon Himself to become one of us. Obviously, God isn’t “the Father” in the same sense as we understand fatherhood, but it’s the best analogy we humans understand.

For the Jews, that whole topic must have been very difficult since they believed in “one God” who was not even named; to then have a father/son relationship as representingmGod was hard to accept.

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