Hebrews 1, Angels and Elements
February 27, 2022
Yesterday, it occurred to me that in Hebrews 1, the author quotes, “He makes his angels winds/spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire,” and it suddenly occurred to me that those are two of the four classical elements. A neat connection to the stoicheia kosmou (“elements of the world”) passages in Galatians and Colossians, I thought, particularly since both Galatians 3 and Stephen in Acts 7 (as well as quite probably Colossians 2:18 in context) connect angels to Torah. And of course, like Galatians, Hebrews has a very strong focus upon the ending of the old covenant administration (although Galatians focuses more primarily upon circumcision and calendrical observance, whereas Hebrews is more focused upon the temple service).
Well, today I looked up the passage that Hebrews 1 is quoting, and whoah! — all the classical elements are there: “He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations….” (Psalm 104:3–5).
Water, wind, fire, earth.
So without outright saying so, it appears that Hebrews is using the same concept of stoicheia kosmou as Paul is in Galatians 4 and Colossians 2. Moreover, this provides further support that the phrase does not mean “elemental spirits” or “elemental/rudimentary teachings,” but rather refers to the consitutive elements of the old creation.
Rest in Peace
February 26, 2022
This week, a dedicated but controversial servant of God went to be with Jesus.
When I was in my early twenties and an indie Pentecostal with Arminian tendencies, I became aware of Christian Reconstructionism through friends, and for a while I read Gary North (and other authors he published) ravenously. Over a period of a couple years, I probably read most of his then-completed books, including one session where I read his massive Tools of Dominion (nearly 1300 pages) in about three days.
While I ultimately exited the Reconstructionist orbit, largely because I couldn’t make sense of it when I read “with the grain” of numerous biblical texts (not least Galatians), the influence did lead me squarely into a Reformed direction — especially the recurring use of Cornelius Van Til and his emphasis on Romans 1. In particular, I became convinced that the natural man suppresses the truth of God. If that is so, how does he stop? Inexorably, I had to come to the conclusion that such suppression is ultimately only overcome by the sovereign working of God’s Holy Spirit. That is, what the Reformed call “irresistible grace.”
North was controversial not only for his theonomic/Reconstructionist perspective, but also due to his heavy investment (literally and figuratively) in the fiasco of Y2K alarmism, an investment that unquestionably harmed his credibility for some time.
Nonetheless, I thank God for his work, and for the peculiar way God used his influence in my own life.
See you in the resurrection, Gary.