“He is the Telos” by Richard Gaffin

The opening words of Hebrews (vv.1-2a) are particularly instructive in this regard since they provide explicit biblical warrant for the approach we are designating redemptive-historical. Along with a couple of other closely correlative references to God’s speaking in 2:2-3 and 3:5-6, this assertion both substantiates and facilitates elaborating basic elements in a redemptive-historical, history of revelation approach.

God, having formerly spoken at many times and in various ways to our fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us in his Son. (author’s translation)

This umbrella-like declaration covers all, or at least much, of what the writer goes on to say in the rest of the document. As such, it also provides a sweeping, overarching perspective on God’s speech or revelation, a controlling perspective arguably shared, more or less explicitly by the other New Testament writings. Several interrelated factors may be noted about this statement, reducible to the definitive nuclear assertion, “God has spoken.”

First, revelation is in view as a historical phenomenon. Further, revelation has taken place as an ongoing history, a history of revelation that unfolds in two basic stages. The contrast between the old and new covenants prominent later, especially in chapters 8-10, is fairly seen as implicit or anticipated in the two-fold division of 1:1-2a, as well as in 2:2-3 and 3:5-6. The revelation-historical outlook is more specifically a covenant-historical outlook.

Second, God’s Son is the consummate and integrating focus of this history. The history of revelation is both complete and a unity. God’s having spoken “in the Son” is his “last-days” speaking. Any thought that this speech might be surpassed or superseded is plainly foreign, not only here but every where else in the New Testament. God’s Son-speech has nothing less than eschatological finality.

The history completed by the Son is also unified in Him. Overall Christ-centered unity is particularly clear in 3:5-6.

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant in testifying to the things that would be spoken, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as Son.

Here instead of the prophets (1:1) or angels (2:2), Moses stands for the whole of the old covenant, for the law (2:2) as well as the prophets. As such, in his servant capacity “in all God’s house”, he is the key witness to “the things that would be spoken,” that is, to those future things eventually spoken by God in Christ, God’s future last-days speech in the Son. All told, the old covenant functions as a witness that looks forward to and anticipates the new (cf. Luke 24:25-27, 44-47, and many other passages that could be cited). Explicitly, more clearly than in the other two passages, God’s revelation in his Son terminates the covenant-historical house-building process as he is its completion. He is the telos (cf. Rom 10:4), the goal that gives unity and coherence to the history of revelation in its entirety, old covenant as well as new.

This focus on Christ, as once as comprehensive and completing as it is unifying, shows clearly that the history of post-fall revelation, considered in terms of its subject matter, is in fact the history of redemption. God’s speech “in the Son” is “salvation…spoken through the Lord” (Heb. 2:3), with its both realized (cf. 9:26) and still future (9:28) aspects.  He embodies, climactically and uniquely, both word (verbal) revelation and deed revelation (cf. John 1:1), with the former interpreting the latter.


– Richard Gaffin, Seeing Christ in all of Scripture (ed. Peter Lillback; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2016), 44-46.

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About nickgardner29

Love Christ; Love Cait; Love the local church. Avid reader of books, eater of nachos, Razorback fan.
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