As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been thinking a lot about the usage of ἀρχηγός in Acts and Hebrews. My Greek Professor Dr. William Varner has just recently finished his book on the Didache, and it will be in the hands of the publisher soon. In a chapter on the Theology of the Didache, he argues that the use of in παῖς Acts 3.13, 26; 4.27, 30 as a Messianic title for Christ (as is seen in the Servant Songs of Isaiah) as well as in Didache 9.2, 3; 10.2, 3, would be evidence for an early date for the composition of the Didache. My point is not to expound on παῖς, but rather apply Dr. Varner’s investigation to ἀρχηγός . Is it possible that both Luke and the author of Hebrews used as an early Messianic title for Christ? Could its usage in these writings indicate an early date for the letter of Hebrews? That is what I am trying to examine here.
Αρχηγός appears first (strangely enough) in Acts 3.15, two verses after παῖς. Peter is preaching to the the crowd gathered at Solomon’s Portico, just after he had healed a man lame from birth. He asks them why they are marveling at the healing of the man. It was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who has done this. But he does not labor the point of the healing, rather he focuses on the death of the Messiah. He says that it was the them, that is Israel, that delivered up Christ to be crucified and God has glorified his παῖς. Even though Pilate wanted to release Jesus, the people cried for his death and demanded that a murderer be given to them instead. It was this people, Peter says, that killed the Originator of life (τὸν δὲ ἀρχηγὸν τῆς ζωῆς ἀπεκτείνατε).
The next occurrence of ἀρχηγός is found yet again in a speech given by Peter to the rulers of Israel. After they were put in prison by the religious leaders for proclaiming Christ, and released be an angel, they were brought to the leaders and rebuked for speaking of Christ. But Peter told them that obedience to God is what is demanded. It is this same God that raised Jesus whom they killed by hanging on a tree. And through this God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior (ἀρχηγὸν καὶ σωτῆρα cf. σωτῆρα καὶ ἀρχηγὸν in 2 Clement 20.5).
Both of these occurrences of ἀρχηγός are found in early speeches given by Peter. They do not occur anywhere else in Acts or any other book except Hebrews. In the next post we will examine the usage of ἀρχηγός in Hebrews 2.10 and 12.2.
Briefly now I want to explain my scrambled thinking on ἀρχηγός. I have been working a lot with my Greek professor on the writing of his book. He has also lectured quite a bit about his understanding of παῖς Christology and how it possibly supports an early date for the Didache. I have a great interest in Hebrews and all things that relate to it. I began to wonder if I could apply his method of possibly dating the Didache before 70 AD and applying that to Hebrews. This is what I am basically asking myself, “Is ἀρχηγός an early Messianic title for Christ in the similar way παῖς is? If the usage of παῖς in Acts is an early Messianic title, thus giving us possible proof for an early date for the Didache, can the use of ἀρχηγός in both Acts and Hebrews be possible evidence for an early date for Hebrews?” This is basically what I am trying to examine here.
*Edit 11.14.06 – I plan on continuing this as time permits. School has taken off, and so as the papers and tests.