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The Entrance—the Believers’ Access to the Heavenly Sanctuary in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Börjesson, David LU (2013) TEOM52 20122
Centre for Theology and Religious Studies
Abstract
The aim of this essay is to explore the motif in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the believers’ entry into the Heavenly Sanctuary. The author portrays how Christ, on behalf of the believers, has entered into heaven with his own blood as a high priest and as a forerunner. But the author also exhorts his readers that they ought to enter the Sanctuary (Heb 4:14–16, 10:19–22). It is this theme I explore. My main question is: What does it mean for the believers, according to the author of Hebrews, to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary?
To explore this topic I use a historical critical method where I presupposes that the intention of the author is available to us; not the least in a skillfully and rhetorically composed text as Hebrews. I set out to... (More)
The aim of this essay is to explore the motif in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the believers’ entry into the Heavenly Sanctuary. The author portrays how Christ, on behalf of the believers, has entered into heaven with his own blood as a high priest and as a forerunner. But the author also exhorts his readers that they ought to enter the Sanctuary (Heb 4:14–16, 10:19–22). It is this theme I explore. My main question is: What does it mean for the believers, according to the author of Hebrews, to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary?
To explore this topic I use a historical critical method where I presupposes that the intention of the author is available to us; not the least in a skillfully and rhetorically composed text as Hebrews. I set out to address some fundamental issues: whether the believers’ entrance should be taken as a present reality or only a future one, and whether it should be understood metaphorically or literally. I then turn to explore the benefits of the Entrance for the believers, and its relationship to sanctification, to pilgrimage and to the life in the community. Finally, I explore the importance given in the Epistle to the locale of the Heavenly Sanctuary, as the realm of salvation.
My thesis concludes that the Epistle to the Hebrews is permeated with eschatological convictions; that the whole exposition of Hebrews has its focus upon Christ and the heavenly reality; that the Epistle has close connections to Jewish mysticism, and that the author’s account of the heavenly realm is informed by his own mystical experiences. The author moreover expects his audience to have such experiences as they enter the Heavenly Sanctuary. Based on these conclusions my thesis holds that while the Entrance is future, it is indeed a present and experienced reality for the believers. Upon their entrance, the worshipers encounter Jesus and find grace and mercy, peace and holiness; all they need in order to act out their calling as God’s people.
But notwithstanding the great blessings of the Entrance, there is an eschatological tension in Hebrews between entrance and pilgrimage, between ‘now’ and ‘not yet.’ Although the believers’ life is characterized by attainment of heavenly joy and glory, it is also marked by trials and sufferings on earth. But the two aspects are closely related. For while their experience of suffering motivates the believers to enter the Sanctuary, the strength and comfort they find there further motivates them to continue their pilgrimage and hold on until the end.
In Hebrews heaven is the sphere of salvation for the believers. Here is their Savior seated. Here is their true home and destiny. Thus the author of Hebrews firmly exhorts his reader to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary, to dwell there and find refuge, as they await the approaching day of the Lord. (Less)
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author
Börjesson, David LU
supervisor
organization
course
TEOM52 20122
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Mysticism, Heavenly Sanctuary, Heaven, Eschatology, Enter, Entrance, Pilgrimage
language
English
id
3559186
date added to LUP
2013-03-07 18:20:37
date last changed
2015-12-14 13:35:27
@misc{3559186,
  abstract     = {The aim of this essay is to explore the motif in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the believers’ entry into the Heavenly Sanctuary. The author portrays how Christ, on behalf of the believers, has entered into heaven with his own blood as a high priest and as a forerunner. But the author also exhorts his readers that they ought to enter the Sanctuary (Heb 4:14–16, 10:19–22). It is this theme I explore. My main question is: What does it mean for the believers, according to the author of Hebrews, to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary? 
To explore this topic I use a historical critical method where I presupposes that the intention of the author is available to us; not the least in a skillfully and rhetorically composed text as Hebrews. I set out to address some fundamental issues: whether the believers’ entrance should be taken as a present reality or only a future one, and whether it should be understood metaphorically or literally. I then turn to explore the benefits of the Entrance for the believers, and its relationship to sanctification, to pilgrimage and to the life in the community. Finally, I explore the importance given in the Epistle to the locale of the Heavenly Sanctuary, as the realm of salvation. 
My thesis concludes that the Epistle to the Hebrews is permeated with eschatological convictions; that the whole exposition of Hebrews has its focus upon Christ and the heavenly reality; that the Epistle has close connections to Jewish mysticism, and that the author’s account of the heavenly realm is informed by his own mystical experiences. The author moreover expects his audience to have such experiences as they enter the Heavenly Sanctuary. Based on these conclusions my thesis holds that while the Entrance is future, it is indeed a present and experienced reality for the believers. Upon their entrance, the worshipers encounter Jesus and find grace and mercy, peace and holiness; all they need in order to act out their calling as God’s people.
But notwithstanding the great blessings of the Entrance, there is an eschatological tension in Hebrews between entrance and pilgrimage, between ‘now’ and ‘not yet.’ Although the believers’ life is characterized by attainment of heavenly joy and glory, it is also marked by trials and sufferings on earth. But the two aspects are closely related. For while their experience of suffering motivates the believers to enter the Sanctuary, the strength and comfort they find there further motivates them to continue their pilgrimage and hold on until the end. 
In Hebrews heaven is the sphere of salvation for the believers. Here is their Savior seated. Here is their true home and destiny. Thus the author of Hebrews firmly exhorts his reader to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary, to dwell there and find refuge, as they await the approaching day of the Lord.},
  author       = {Börjesson, David},
  keyword      = {Mysticism,Heavenly Sanctuary,Heaven,Eschatology,Enter,Entrance,Pilgrimage},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Entrance—the Believers’ Access to the Heavenly Sanctuary in the Epistle to the Hebrews},
  year         = {2013},
}