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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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FORERUNNER . The English word gives the exact sense of the Greek prodromos , which, in its classical usage, signifies ‘one who goes before’; it may be as a scout to reconnoitre, or as a herald to announce the coming of the king and to make ready the way for the royal journey.

1. John the Baptist was our Lord’s ‘forerunner.’ The word is never applied to him in the NT, but he was the ‘messenger’ sent ‘before the face’ of the Lord ‘to prepare his way’ ( Matthew 11:10 , Mark 1:2 , Luke 7:27; cf. Malachi 3:1 ), and to exhort others to ‘make his paths straight’ ( Mark 1:2; cf. Isaiah 40:3 ff.).

2. Only in Hebrews 6:20 is the word ‘forerunner’ found in the EV [Note: English Version.] (Wyclif ‘the bifor goer,’ Rheims ‘the precursor’). Instead of the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘whither the forerunner has for us entered, even Jesus,’ the RV [Note: Revised Version.] rightly renders: ‘whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us.’ The change is important. To the readers of this Epistle it would be a startling announcement that Jesus had entered the Holy of Holies as a forerunner . Thither the Jewish high priest, one day in the year, went alone ( Hebrews 9:7 ). He was the people’s representative, but he was not their forerunner, for none might dare to follow him. The key-note of the Epistle is that all believers have access with boldness to the presence of the Most Holy God ‘in the blood of Jesus’; they have this boldness because their High Priest has inaugurated for them a fresh and living way ( Hebrews 10:19 ff.). Already within the veil hope enters with assurance, for Jesus has ‘gone that we may follow too.’ As the Forerunner of His redeemed He has inaugurated their entrance, He makes intercession for them, and He is preparing for them a place ( John 14:2 ). Commenting on the significance of this ‘one word,’ Dr. A. B. Bruce says that it ‘expresses the whole essential difference between the Christian and the Levitical religion between the religion that brings men nigh to God, and the religion that kept or left men standing afar off’ ( Expositor , iii. vii. [1888], p. 167 f.).

J. G. Tasker.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Forerunner'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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