Tuesday, 18 December 2018
None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. Hebrews 8:11
This verse now quotes Jeremiah 31:34. In this, there is a difference between some Greek manuscripts. The word for “neighbor” is found to rather say “fellow citizen.” That is probably the true rendering. The Hebrew from which it is cited says, “neighbor.” But a neighbor may not necessarily be a fellow citizen in today’s world. The difference in the Greek manuscripts probably came about when someone later tried to match the words to the Hebrew, thinking they were helping the translation along.
Assuming it says polités, or citizen, would then follow in accord with the thought which has thus far been presented. Israel had rejected Christ as a cumulative whole. However, a time is coming when, “None of them shall teach his ‘fellow citizen.’” The idea is the same as from the Hebrew Scriptures because the Hebrew was speaking to Israel through a Hebrew person concerning things which would again pertain to them. However, to say, “fellow citizen,” means that the Gentile led church is to understand that this only applies to the Hebrew people. The rest of the world has already been presented Christ during Israel’s rejection of Him. It is then a note that Israel will someday finally catch up to proper theology concerning Christ.
The verse continues with, “and none his brother.” The word is a standard one meaning a literal brother, but it can extend to a fellow believer in Christ. The idea again, however, is directed to the Hebrew people, just as the entire epistle is. There will be no need for a Hebrew (who believes, such as the Messianic believers today) to teach a fellow citizen, or a brother, about Christ, saying, “Know the Lord.”
What is implied, and a point which has already been brought forth, is that there is a time when the house of Israel would be in a state of unbelief. For those believing individuals within this body, there is a need for them to teach their fellow citizens (neighbors), and their own brothers, to know the Lord, meaning Jesus. The nation has all but rejected Him, minus a faithful remnant (see Romans 11:1-5). That faithful remnant has called out for their brothers to “know the Lord,” but it has fallen on deaf ears. But that will no longer be the case someday, because the Lord says, “all shall know Me.”
The words, if logically thought through, cannot apply to the Gentiles now. Replacement theology must set aside the obvious nature of what is said in order to apply them to the world today. However, 1) not all Gentiles “know the Lord,” and 2) those Gentiles who know the Lord do not need to know the Lord. The “duh” nature of what is being conveyed here makes the idea of replacement theology a completely irrational system. But properly applying these words to Israel (meaning the people Israel, not Gentiles who claim they have replaced Israel) shows that someday all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26) and all of them will know the Lord, “from the least of them to the greatest of them.” Christ Jesus will be known to all of them. It will be as universal in their minds as is the fact that they are Israel.
Unfortunately, this verse is often misunderstood or misapplied in a believer’s life. Taking this one verse out of context leads naturally to the assumption that important aspects of Christian maturity, such as dedicated Bible study, formal Bible schooling, etc., are unimportant. Charismatics believe they have a direct infusion of the Spirit which makes them fully knowledgeable in the things of God. That is because they tear verses like this out of context. Incorrectly applying this verse leaves a sense that “I know it all simply because I believe.”
Even Matthew Henry misses the intent of these words, applying them to the Gentile led church. He says, “…private instruction shall not be so necessary under the New Testament as it was under the Old. The old dispensation was shadowy, dark, ritual, and less understood; their priests preached but seldom, and but a few at a time, and the Spirit of God was more sparingly given out. But under the new dispensation there shall be such abundance of public qualified preachers of the gospel, and dispensers of ordinances statedly in the solemn assemblies, and so great a flocking to them, as doves to their windows, and such a plentiful effusion of the Spirit of God to make the ministration of the gospel effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts, of each sex, and of all ages.”
Although he doesn’t take the extremely unsound position of supposed “Spirit-filled” Charismatics, he still misapplies the intent of the passage by assuming it is speaking of instruction for Gentiles.
Though it is true that we now have the ability to receive the word through the availability of written material, through easier travel, and through time-availability. And though it is true that we also have the ability to understand the word because of its complete rather than “shadowy, dark, ritual” nature, that is not the context of the words. In the end, we in the Gentile church can learn from Hebrews, and some thoughts from the epistle do carry over to us at this time; but the words are given for us to understand the dispensational model as it applies to Israel, after their time of punishment.
Life application: Let us be sure to keep things in context.
Lord Jesus, how wonderful it is to be able to watch movies about you, listen to on-line Bibles, sermons and commentaries, and to hear Christian music right over our radios! We’re filled with an abundance of Your word, if we will simply take advantage of those things. Help us now to use our time wisely, and to apply these wonderful blessings to our lives! Amen.