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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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The Letter to the Hebrews





BOOK : Hebrews

Description : A long letter to Jewish converts who, some think, might have been thinking of returning to Judaism. A uniquely Jewish Christology.

Author: Unknown (many think it is unlikely that it was Paul)

Date written : Sometime before AD70 (when the Temple was destroyed – no mention here).

Chapters : 13



Brief Synopsis:


If the assumption (in the ‘Description' above) is correct that this book is written to hold onto Jewish Christians who were wavering, that would explain the content:
•  Showing Christ to be superior to angels, Moses or the Aaronic priesthood and his work on the Cross is superior to that of the sacrifices in the Law of Moses
•  Encouraging the readers to hold to their faith and persevere in Christian living.


Outline :


1:1-4 Prologue: The Superiority of God's New Revelation
1:5-7:28 The Superiority of Christ to Leaders of the Old Covenant

1:5-2:18 Christ Is Superior to the Angels

1:5-14 Scriptural proof of superiority

2:1-4 Exhortation not to ignore the revelation of God in his Son

2:5-18 Further Scriptural proof of superiority over the angels

3:1-4:13 Christ Is Superior to Moses

3:1-6 Demonstration of Christ's superiority

3:7-4:13 Exhortation to enter salvation-rest

4:14-7:28 Christ Is Superior to the Aaronic Priests

4:14-16 Exhortation to hold fast

5:1-10 Qualifications of a priest

5:11-6:12 Exhortation to abandon spiritual lethargy

6:13-20 Certainty of God's promise

Ch.7 Christ's superior priestly order

Ch.8-10 The Superiority of the New Covenant of Jesus

Ch.8 Introduction to a Better Covenant

9:1-11 A Better Sanctuary

9:12-10:18 A Better Sacrifice

10:19-39 Exhortations to work it all through

Ch.11,12 Final Plea for Persevering Faith

Ch.11 Examples of Past Heroes of the Faith

12:1-11 Encouragement for Persevering Faith

12:12-17 Exhortations for Persevering Faith

12:18-29 Motivation for Persevering Faith

Ch. 13 Conclusion

13:1-17 Practical Rules for Christian Living

13:18-19 Request for Prayer

13:20-21 Benediction

13:22-23 Personal Remarks

13:24-25 Greetings and Final Benediction



Some Key Verses:


The greatest revelation had come through Jesus the glorious Son

1:1-3 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.


Jesus, the Son, superior to angels, made in human likeness to save human beings

1:4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.


Jesus the Son is superior to Msoes the servant

3:2-6 just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house.


Jesus the high priest is superior to the old priesthood because he is the Son

4:14,15 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

7:28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever


Jesus, provider of a better covenant – the elements: high priest, sanctuary, blood

8:1-3 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest , who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary , the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer .


Jesus, provider of a better sanctuary

9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.

9:11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.


Jesus, provider of a better sacrifice

9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption


Encouragement to work it all through

10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

•  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
•  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
•  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
•  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
•  let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


Faith is the basis of our lives - many examples given

11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.


A call to press on

12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Some examples of practical Christian living


•  Keep on loving each other as brothers.
•  Do not forget to entertain strangers
•  Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners
•  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure,
•  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have
•  Remember your leaders….. and imitate their faith.
•  Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.



Concluding Comments


The incredibly strong ‘Jewish flavour' to this letter affirms the assumption we made at the top of this page. It presents a ‘converted-Jewish' perspective that is unique in the New Testament. Paul had refuted the tendency of some Jewish believers to revert to relying upon things like circumcision, in his letter to the Galatians, but this letter goes much, much further and provides a ‘Jewish Christology' that clearly shows why the old has gone and the new has come, why Christ's work on the Cross has done away with the need for the old sacrificial system. Was this one reason why the Lord allowed the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed in AD70 and never to be rebuilt?



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