Re: Heb. 4.15 - CWRIS hAMARTIAS

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (
Date: Mon May 11 1998 - 22:15:22 EDT

Dale M. Wheeler wrote:
> Mark Goodacre wrote:
> >Jeffrey Gibson wrote (most omitted):
> >
> >> In the light of
> >> this, Hebrews 4:15 has little to do with "temptation".
> >>
> >> What do *you* think?
> >
> >I think that your exegesis is totally convincing and makes excellent
> >sense not only of this text but also the whole of the epistle! What
> >do others think?
> >
> If I understand Jeff correctly, I'm inclined to read Hebrews in a
> similar fashion, ie., that this is NOT a discussion of whether these
> folks are regenerate or not, and how they got that way, and how Jesus
> has suffered in their place propitiatorily, but rather a discussion of
> how they are to endure the temptation to abandon their Christian
> community (not become unregenerate) for their previous sectarian
> Jewish heritage (that's not exactly the same as Jeff), in the same
> way that Jesus was tempted to abandon his mission and return to
> his "comfortable" Jewish heritage...and thus they have him as an
> example of endurance.

I am pleased to see that Dale and Mark support my view regarding the
meaning of Heb. 4:15. But to keep this from moving into a discussion of
how theology affects exegesis, let's note that there have been arguments
at least ostensively grounded in the Greek test which have been put
forward to support the view that Mark originally asked about. For
instance, B.F.C. Anderson (in a work entitled _Theology of
Prepositions_) saw the preposition CHWRIS as "apart from" and maintained
that when this preposition followed the adjective PAS ("all", "every"),
the most natural sense of the phrase would be "with the exception of".
Consequently he say Heb. 4:15b as saying "tempted in all points as we
are, with the exception of sin." In other words, he thinks grammar and
syntax support the theological conclusion that Jesus was sinless and his
sinless nature rendered him incaplable, unlike us, of responding to the
temptation to sin.

Now whatever linguistic merits Atkinson's view has, it still is grounded
in the assumption that the participle PEIRASMONEN means "temptation",
i.e., seduction to evil" and that image HAMARTIAS is meant to conjure
up is peccability rather than the wilderness generation's
unfaithfulness, which, given the context of Heb. 4:15, seems (to me, at
least) more likely.

It should also be noted that G. Vos argued long ago (_The Priesthood of
Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews" PTR 5 [1907], 583), the phrase
CHWRIS hAMARTIAS does not modify the statement in Heb, 4:15b about the
how Jesus' "testing" is like "ours", but relates only to the outcome of
Jesus having been tested, and means "but without the result of "sin" in
his case".

Well, you know who I support here.


Jeffrey Gibson

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