Call, Calling - Invitation, summons, commission, or naming. The New Testament refers to the Christian life as a calling (Eph. 1:18; 4:1; II Tim. 1:9; Heb. 3:1; II Pet. 1:10). The basic call is to Christ as Lord and Savior; thus, all Christians are "called ones." The noun "calling" takes on great significance in the New Testament. First, there is the goal of calling. We are called to salvation, holiness, and faith (II Thess. 2:13-15), to the kingdom and glory of God (I Thess 2:12), to an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15), to fellowship (I Cor. 1:9), and to service (Gal 1). The means of calling is clearly stated as being through grace (Gal. 1:6) and through the hearing of the gospel (II Thess. 2:14). The nature of God's calling is described as an upward (Phil. 3:14), heavenly (Heb. 3:1), holy (II Tim. 1:9) calling. It is filled with hope (Eph. 1:18, 4:4). Finally, the "called, chosen and faithful" are with the Lamb (Rev. 17:14) indicating that those whom God called (saved) He glorified (Rom. 8:30). The stress is on the initiative of God.
Covenant - A pact, treaty, alliance, or agreement between two parties of equal or unequal authority. The covenant, or testament, is a central, unifying theme in Scripture, God's covenants with individuals and the nation Israel finding final fulfillment in the new covenant in Christ Jesus. In the New Testament, only the book of Hebrews makes the covenant a central theological theme. The emphasis is on Jesus, the perfect High Priest, providing a new, better, superior covenant (Heb. 7:22; 8:6). Jesus represented the fulfillment of Jeremiah's new covenant promise (Heb. 8:8, 10; 10:16). Jesus was the perfect covenant Mediator (Heb. 9:15), providing an eternal inheritance in a way the old covenant could not (compare Heb. 12:24). Jesus' death on the cross, satisfied the requirement that all covenants be established by blood (Heb. 9:18, 20) just as was the very first covenant (Ex. 24:8). Christ's blood established an everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). If Israel suffered for breaking the Sinai covenant (Heb. 8:9-10), how much more should people expect to suffer if they have "counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing" (Heb. 10:29). Eventually, the Greek word "testament" gave name to the two major divisions of our Bible - the Old and the New Testaments. In many ways the name is appropriate to show that the two parts rest on God's gracious action in redeeming His people and making a covenant with them.
Faith - See Hebrews 11:1 and 6.
Firstborn - Christ is the "firstborn" of the Father (Heb. 1:6 NIV) by having preeminent position over others in relation to Him. He is also described as "firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29) and "firstborn of all creation" (Col 1:15 NASB). Paul (Col. 1:18) and John (Rev. 1:5) refer to Christ as "firstborn from the dead" - the first to rise bodily from the grave and not die again. Hebrews 12:23 refers to the "church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven." Christian believers, united with and joint heirs with Christ, enjoy the status of "firstborn" in God's household.
Immutable - The unchangeability of God in biblical theology, a reference to God's unchanging commitment and faithfulness to the salvation of humanity. The God of the Bible is the constant, unchangeable God in His revelation and response to humanity (Heb. 6:18). He gives His name as "I am that I am" (lit. "I will be what I will be," Ex. 3:14) He is the God who is and will be what He has already been in the past: "the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob .... This is my name forever ..." (Ex. 3:15). The greatest religious significance of the unchanging God is His eternal stance of salvation toward His creation. He is eternally faithful to His people. The unchanging God of salvation is the eternal, free God who reveals Himself in the eternal Son (John 1:1, 18). As such, He is the immutable God who comes to seek and save the lost (Mark 10:45), the God who is the same "yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
Intercede - The act of intervening or mediating between differing parties; particularly the act of praying to God on behalf of another. The Bible reveals that intercession is performed by the Holy Spirit, Christ, and Christians. Romans 8:26-27 shows that the Holy Spirit works to sustain the burdened believer, to intercede to carry even inexpressible prayers to God. Romans 8:34 offers the truth that the risen Christ will maintain His intercession for the believer, being the Mediator between God and humanity. God accepts a believer's prayers and praises through Christ's intercession. His death secured removal of sin; His resurrection bestowed life on those who believe in Him; His ascension brought exaltation to power in heaven and on earth. Now He intercedes for us at God's throne of grace. Hebrews 7:25 proclaims the complete deliverance that comes through salvation accomplished through Christ and notes that He is ever-present in heaven to intercede for those who come to Him.
Israelites, Hebrews, Jewish Nation (Jews) - "Israelites" is a term that was generally used to refer to the large nation of descendants from Jacob (renamed Israel by God when He renewed the promise first given to Jacob's grandfather Abraham). The term "Hebrew" apparently began with Abraham (Gen. 14:13), showing that he belonged to an ethnic group distinct from the Amorites. It also distinguished Joseph (Abraham's great-grandson) from the Egyptians and slaves of other ethnic identity (Gen. 39:14, 17; 41:12; 43:32). Abraham's land became the land of the Hebrews (Gen. 40: 15), and his God, the God of the Hebrews (Ex. 5:3). In the book of Hebrews, Abraham provided the model for tithing (Heb. 7) and played a prominent role in the roll call of faith (Heb. 11). After the death of King Saul (I Sam. 29), the term "Hebrew" does not appear in the historical books, pointing to a possible distinction between "Hebrew" as an ethnic term and "Israel" and/or "Judah" (Jew) as a religious and political term for the people of the covenant and of God's nation. The word "Jew" is derived ultimately from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, by the time of the New Testament, these three terms were used in reference to the same group of people, descended from Abraham (father of a multitude and the first Hebrew patriarch) through Isaac and Jacob. In the context of the recipients of the book, these Hebrews were of Jewish descent who had subsequently become Christians. In fact, according to the apostle Paul, a true Jew is one who believes that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ (Gal. 3:26-29), relies on God's grace and not works of the law (Eph. 2:8, 9), and has been circumcised in his heart by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:2-9; 5:6).
Mediator - A person midway between two parties who establishes an agreement or relationship between the parties and may act as a guarantor of that relationship. The use of this term in Hebrews presents Jesus as the Son of God Who transcends all previous agents of the divine will and Who mediates a new covenant (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). In each instance, the mediation of a new covenant is bound up with Christ's own sacrificial death. Thus, all of the mediating activities of intercession, sacrificial atonement, and covenant-making and guaranteeing culminate in the NT with Christ. He is the supreme High Priest Who enters once for all into the sanctuary to make a sacrifice of Himself that brings eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-12). He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which replaces the old one (Heb. 8:6; 9:15). By remaining forever, He guarantees that the covenant He establishes will forever endure since His priesthood never ends (Heb. 7:22-25).
Melchizedek - Personal name meaning "Zedek is my king" or "My king is righteousness." Priest and king of Salem, a city identified with Jerusalem. When Abraham returned from the Valley of Siddim where he had defeated Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and the kings aligned with Kedorlaomer, Melchizedek greeted Abraham with bread and wine. He blessed Abraham in the name of "God Most High". In return, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. Melchizedek and Abraham both worshiped the one true God. Abraham also seemed to recognize the role of Melchizedek as a priest (Gen. 14:17-24). Psalm 110:4 predicts One to come who would be forever a priest in the "order of Melchizedek." This messianic psalm teaches that the ruler or leader of the Hebrew nation would be able to reflect in his person the role of priest as well as the role of king. The writer of Hebrews made several references to Jesus' priesthood being of the "order of Melchizedek" (chapters 5-7) as opposed to Levitical in nature. The prediction from Psalm 110 is also cited in Hebrews. For the Hebrews author, only Jesus, whose life could not be destroyed by death, fit the prophecy.
Patriarchs, The - Israel's founding fathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel). The word "patriarch" comes from a combination of the Latin word 'pater,' father, and the Greek verb 'archo,' to rule. A patriarch is thus a ruling ancestor who may have been the founding father of a family, clan or nation. The promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12 established the concept of a people descended through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who would be in a special historical and spiritual relationship with God. (Heb. 1:1; 7:4)
Perfect, Perfection - Reaching an ideal state of spiritual wholeness or completeness. It is not a quality, which is achieved by human effort alone, nor is it an end in itself. Christian perfection consists essentially in exercising the divine gift of love (Col. 3:14 NIV), for God, and for other people (Matt. 22:37-39). The basis for perfection lies in God Himself. Since God is free from incompleteness, He can demand from believers and enable them to receive completeness (Matt. 5:48). Through a covenant relationship with His people, and by grace, God offers to His people the possibility of perfection. In the NT, God's relationship with His people is itself fulfilled, as the old covenant is replaced, and through Christ believers can be perfected forever (Heb. 10:14). Christians are, however, to grow from spiritual infancy to maturity so as to share the full stature of Christ, in whose image they may become renewed and perfected (Col. 3:10). Perfection is a goal to be sought (II Cor. 7:1; Heb. 6:1) which, like the complete vision of God, cannot be found this side of heaven (Eph. 4:13; Jas. 3:2). The means of perfection is in Christ. Through His suffering and exaltation, God made Jesus perfect (Heb. 2:10) and fitted Him to win for the church and the individual believer a completeness which echoes His own (Col 1:28; Heb. 5:9). So we and all the saints of God can be saved, and through the Spirit be given access to God and the daily help we need (Heb. 7:25; 4:14-16).
Propitiation - An offering that turns away deserved wrath. It is a satisfying thing - to completely, totally, and absolutely meet the need to satisfy (also used as atonement or expiation). Jesus is our propitiation that turns away God's wrath. God made Him to be sin for us. The result of propitiation is man's reconciliation to God. (Heb. 2:17; 7:26-28; 8:7, 13; 9:5, 14, 25-26; 10:14-18; 13:15-16)
Purification - A state of being cleansed from all impurity. It comes through the death of Christ and does not need repeating since Christ's blood continues to cleanse (I John 1:7). It does, however, call those in Christ to continue in ethical purity to remain in a life of pure living. (Heb. 1:3; 9:13-14)
Recompense of Reward - Deserved judgment carried out for either good or evil performance. (Heb. 2:2)
Sabbath - The day of rest, considered holy to God because of His rest on the seventh day after creation and viewed as a sign of the covenant relation between God and His people and of the eternal rest He has promised. In the first century, the Sabbath and other matters of the law came to be seen as a shadow of the reality that was revealed in Christ (Col. 2:16-23) so that the Sabbath became a symbol of the heavenly rest to come (Heb. 4:1-11).
Sanctify, Sanctified - The process of being made holy, resulting in a changed life-style for the believer. Sanctification is vitally linked to the salvation experience and is concerned with the moral/spiritual obligations assumed in that experience. We were set apart to God in conversion, and we are living out that dedication to God in holiness. Christ's crucifixion makes possible the moving of the sinner from the profane to the holy so that the believer can become a part of the temple where God dwells and is worshiped (Heb. 2:9-11; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:11-16). Paul (Rom. 15:16; I Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Eph 5:26-27; II Thess. 2:13) and Peter (I Pet. 1:2) both affirmed the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion as a sanctification, a making the believer holy and acceptable to God. Hebrews also emphasizes the ethical aspect of sanctification. Sanctification/holiness is to be pursued as an essential aspect of the believer's life (Heb. 12:14); the blood of sanctification must not be defiled by sinful conduct (Heb. 10:26-31). Paul stressed both the individual's commitment to holy living (Rom. 6:19-22; I Thess. 4:3-8; II Cor. 7:1) and the enabling power of God for it (I Thess. 3:12; 4:8). The summation of the ethical imperative is seen in Peter's use (I Pet. 1:15-16) of Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7: "Be ye holy; for I am holy."