“But he who will endure to the end, the same will be saved.”
The commentary on this statement was written by an unknown writer, possibly Paul, who wrote on this subject sometime during the decade of the 60s. The theme of this commentary was based on an exhortation not to turn away from King Jesus as the Christ and Savior of the world.
The Hebrew writer argued persuasively in Hebrews in order to dissuade some Christians from turning from Jesus in order to revert to the Jews’ religion. In those days, there was a tremendous amount of nationalistic intimidation of Jewish Christians to join the resistance. Nationalistic Jews were intimidating Jewish Christians to return to the religion of their heritage in order to establish again the Jewish state in Palestine. But at the conclusion of all his arguments that turning from Jesus would produce only condemnation in the eyes of God (Hb 2:2,3), the Hebrew writer confidently affirmed, “We are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hb 10:39). Therefore, the Hebrew writer exhorted, “Let us hold firm to the confession of our faith without wavering, for He is faithful who promised” (Hb 10:23).
Those who remain faithful while in the midst of either persecution or nationalistic intimidation would be delivered from the end of national Israel (See Rv 2:10). They would be spared from the genocide of thousands of deaths that took place during the months of conflict in Palestine (Mt 10:22). Jesus even promised faithful Christians, “But not a hair of your head will be lost” in the destruction if they stayed away from Palestine in those days (Lk 21:18).
However, the condition for not becoming a victim of the national calamity that was coming was to heed Jesus’ warning: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36). They could only escape if they refrained from joining the resistance. They must stay away from Palestine, and Jerusalem in particular.
We can now see why Jesus was giving these immediate disciples this information. Those who believed these pronouncements would not fall victim to the God-ordained consummation of national Israel. The faithful would save their lives if they heeded these warnings. Those Jewish Christians who were still clinging to their Jewish heritage had to make a decision. They had to decide to relinquish loyalty to Jewish nationalism by clinging to King Jesus. The entire document of Hebrews was written in order to present the gospel journey of the Son of God to those Jewish Christians who were tempted to turn from King Jesus. If they forsook the King and Priest, there was no hope for them.
We can see in the contexts of Jesus’ discourse here why Jerusalem and the temple had to go. There was too much Jewish sentimentality connected to both the city and the temple. By the year A.D. 70, God would have been patient with Israel throughout the forty years from the time of the cross in A.D. 30. By A.D. 70 it was time to cut the emotional umbilical cord with Judaism, Jerusalem, and thus the Sinai covenant. Jewish Christians had to move on. They had to move on to a faith that was neither culturally nor nationalistically linked.
There had to be a sign from God that He was finished with the Sinai covenant and national Israel. This sign had to be so convincing that the unbelieving Jews of the time would question their own faith, and thus realize that Jesus was truly the Messiah. This would be what Paul defined as the “fullness” (fulfillment) of Israel. It would be at this time when Jesus said, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt 14:43). The consummation would prove that God was no longer with the nation of Israel, no matter how patriotic most Jews were to establishing again an independent nation in Palestine.
In the following words, Paul released the following revelation concerning the “fullness” about fifteen years before the events of A.D. 70:
“I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall [through unbelief]? Certainly not! But rather through the fall salvation has come to the Gentiles in order to provoke them [the Jews] to jealousy. Now if their transgression [through unbelief] is the riches of the [Gentile] world, and the diminishing [destruction] of them [as a nation of believers] the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness [when God finalizes His work through Israel”] (Rm 11:11,12).
The rejection of the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, spurred the early evangelists to move on to the Gentiles. When the Jews “resisted and blasphemed, he [Paul] shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’” (At 18:6; see At 13:46-48; 28:28). And so he and the other evangelists as they spread out across the world to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
[Next in series: July 29]