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hebrews

May 18, 2009

Background

I. The Glory of God Expressed Through His Son Hebrews 1:1-3:6

  1. The Son’s Position                                   Heb. 1:1-14
  2. A Warning and A Promise                    Heb. 2:1-4
  3. The Son’s Work                                         Heb. 2:5-16
  4. The Son’s Role                                          Heb. 2:17-3:6

II. The Glory of God Expressed Through Believers                          Hebrews 3:7-4:13

  1. The Believer’s Response [A Warning and A Promise]    Heb. 3:7-19
  2. The Believer’s Reward                                                                 Heb. 4:1-11
  3. The Believer’s Work                                                                      Heb. 4:12-13

III. The Glory of God Expressed Through Jesus Christ                   Hebrews 4:14-10:39

  1. The Great High Priest                                Heb. 4:14-5:10
  2. A Warning and A Promise                       Heb. 5:11-6:20
  3. Consider Melchizedek                              Heb. 7:1-28
  4. The New Covenant                                     Heb. 8:1-10:39
    1. The Old Covenant and Its’ Problems                  Heb. 10:1-4
    2. The New Covenant and Its’ Solutions                 Heb. 10:5-25
    3. Rejection and Its’ Consequences                         Heb. 10:26-31
    4. Perseverance and Its’ Rewards                            Heb. 10: 32-39

IV. The Glory of God Expressed Through Faith                                       Hebrews 11:1-40

V. Therefore, Persevere in Your Faith Hebrews 12:1-13:21

  1. Look to Jesus                                                   Heb. 12:1-3
  2. Accepts the Lord’s Discipline                   Heb. 12:4-11
  3. Walk Uprightly and Live in Peace            Heb. 12:12-21
  4. Worship God with Thanksgiving                Heb. 12:22-28
  5. Love One Another                                           Heb. 13:1-6
  6. Guard Your Heart and Remember His Grace                  Heb. 13:7-14
  7. Confess His Name                                            Heb. 13:15-16
  8. Obey Your Leaders                                        Heb. 13:17
  9. Pray                                                                      Heb. 13:18-21

VI. Good-bye                                                     Hebrews 13:22-25

Alternative Outline

I. Jesus is the Son of God, Therefore: Hebrews 1:1-2:18

  1. Look to Jesus           Hebrews 3:1-19
  2. Enter His Rest             Hebrews 4:1-13
  3. He is Our High Priest            Hebrews 4:14-5:14
  4. Mature in Your Faith            Hebrews 6:1-10:4
  5. Be Holy and Do His Will               Hebrews 10:5-10:18
  6. Draw Near to Him              Hebrews 10:19-11:40
  7. Persevere             Hebrews 12:1-12:11
  8. Be Strong and Live in Peace                Hebrews 12:12-12:27
  9. Give Thanks                   Hebrews 12:28-13:25

Another Outline compliments of my friend, Don Cooper

I. Superiority of the Son to Prophets Hebrews 1:1-3

II. Superiority of the Son to Angels Hebrews 1:4-2:18
Warning against Drifting Heb. 2:1-4

III. Superiority of the Son to Moses Hebrews 3:1-19
Warning against Disobedience Heb. 3:7-4:13

IV. Superiority of the Son to Joshua Hebrews 4:1-16

V. Superiority of the Son to Aaron Hebrews 5:1-7:28
Warning against Degeneration Heb. 5:11-6:12

VI. Superiority of the Son’s New Covenant Hebrews 8:1-10:25
Warning against Despite Heb. 10:26-39

VII. Superiority of Faith in the Son Hebrews 11:1-13:25
Warning against Departing Heb. 12:15-29

Commentary

Background:

There is much conjecture and very little evidence with respect to who wrote this epistle and when it was written. Some say even the name of the book Hebrews is not original. But we do know this much:

  1. It is apologetic in nature and written in a manner as to convince/encourage Jews and Jewish Christians respectively that the New Covenant in Christ replaces and fulfills the Old Covenant of Moses.
  2. It is written in “high” Greek and it’s possibly a translation from an original Hebrew writing.
  3. The date of writing is unknown except that it must be before the temple was destroyed in 70AD because it compares Christ’s sacrifice to the Jewish sacrificial system. There is no indication that the Jewish sacrifices have been discontinued.
  4. The author is unknown but it was someone who was very familiar with Jewish law and worship; a learned individual.

Scholars have discussed authorship and dates for centuries. For a long time it was assumed that Paul was the author. Hebrews 2:3 is now used as proof that Paul was not the author in that it states “the Gospel was revealed by Christ and made known by those who heard Him” because Paul wrote to the Galatians stating that the Gospel was revealed to him by Jesus Christ. This is said to indicate that the author was not one of the apostles, ruling out Paul. Scholars have suggested Barnabus, a Levite, and Apollos as possible authors. They were learned and they would have known Timothy, who is mentioned in Hebrews 13:23.

Now let me share my theory with you. First, this is a short letter and it starts at Hebrews 12:1 and ends at Hebrews 13:25. The first eleven chapters is an apologetic document used to convince the Jewish people that Jesus is the Messiah. Interjected in this document at a later time for use with Jewish Christians are the warnings given in Heb. 2:1-4; Heb. 3:7-19; Heb. 5:11-6:12; and Heb. 10:26-39. There is another warning [Heb. 12:14-27] but I consider it part of the letter attached at the end of the original document.

Second, I believe this letter was written by Paul based on Hebrews 12:1-13:25. That portion of this letter is very Pauline. I believe it was written late in Paul’s life, perhaps after his fourth missionary journey and prior to his martyrdom. Timothy had come from Ephesus to visit Paul in Rome. See II Timothy 4:9-13. Luke is with Paul and probably translated most of this document from Hebrew to Greek. A few years earlier Paul had written to the Roman church expressing his sadness that his people, the Jews, refused the Gospel. Paul always started his ministry to the Gentile cities in the synagogue. I believe this letter is the basic outline he followed to convince the Jews that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Now Paul is documenting this apologetic work for all to use in bringing the Gospel to the Jews and to encourage/support the Jewish believers. It is a key treatise to prevent Jews from rejecting the New Covenant and returning to the Old Covenant; from rejecting the New Covenant in Christ Jesus to avoid persecution. It is written to Jewish believers and unbelievers. Paul’s purpose was to preach Christ to the Gentiles but his love for his own people purposed him to write this letter/epistle. I would interpret Hebrew 2:3 as a general statement of fact and not a specific statement defining the author.

If Paul is not the major author, certainly Barnabus and Apollos are candidates, particularly for chapters 1-11. I will submit another name for consideration; Gamaliel. He was Paul’s teacher, a ranking and respected member of the Sanhedrin, and one who advised against persecuting the Christians [Acts 5:33-42]. I believe he was a “closet believer” in the Sanhedrin like Nicodemus. He would be capable of writing such a document of apologetics for believers to use in convincing devout Jews to consider Jesus as the Messiah.

Regardless of what you think concerning authorship and date of writing, one can not discount the arguments set forth in the epistle. Much is written to the Gentiles but Hebrews is written specifically to Jewish Christians as is James. James is practical. Hebrews is apologetic. Hebrews convinces us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to fulfill the Law. The New Covenant in Christ Jesus does indeed replace the Old Covenant.

The Glory of God Expressed Through His Son                                     Hebrews 1:1-3:6

The Son’s Position                                                    Heb. 1:1-14

The author begins addressing his subject immediately. There is no introduction. The author’s statements are crisp and authoritative. In times past, God spoke through prophets. Now God has spoken through His Son. His Son is not yet identified as Jesus until Chapter 2. So as we begin, we learn about God’s Son, His attributes and His position.

God’s Son is heir of all things and creator of all things. The Son not only is like God, He is God. His Word is powerful. After all, all things created by His Word. He alone can forgive sin. HE is the one who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. His name is above all names. The angels are not even close to His power and position. God’s Son rules. Angels serve.

Consider the following comparison between the Son and angels.

The Son
The Angels
Son of the Father [vs. 5]First born [vs. 6]Worthy of worship [vs.6]

Eternal ruler [vs. 8]

Loves righteousness [vs. 9]

Hates wickedness [vs. 9]

Higher than all others [vs. 9]

Anointed with oil [vs. 9]

Creator of heaven and earth [vs. 10]

Eternal being [vs. 11-12]

Unchanging [vs. 12]

Sits at God’s right hand [vs. 13]

Defeats all enemies [vs. 13]

Serve God [vs.7]
Serve believers [vs. 14]

A Warning and A Promise                                    Heb. 2:1-4

A warning is given; “Listen”. In other words, give careful consideration to what you have heard so as to draw near to God and not drift away from Him. God’s angels, His servants, were actively involved in the giving of the law [Deut. 33:2] which defines our sinfulness and need for salvation. But salvation is available. It was announced by the Lord [Jesus Christ] himself [John 3:16-17]. Jesus’ disciples confirmed/testified as to His teaching. God testifies to His authority through His many miracles, including His resurrection. His resurrection, although disputed by the Jewish leaders, was confirmed and never discredited either by them or by the Roman government. Those who believed received the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt; Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Messiah. God has spoken, Christ has spoken, His disciples have spoken, and history has spoken. No one has ever demonstrated such power and preached with such authority as did Jesus Christ. Listen, believe, and receive the Holy Spirit.

The Son’s Work                                                       Heb. 2:5-16

The author quotes Psalm 8 showing God’s love for man by the sending of His Son to earth as a man that He might conquer death [punishment for our sin] and, thus, rule over all things including the granting of eternal life to all who place their faith in Him. He is the author of our salvation. He has the power to make us holy as He is holy. He died that we may become family, brothers. He, Jesus Christ, has conquered death and has the power to destroy evil, to destroy the work of Satan, and even to destroy Satan himself. We who believe have no need to fear death. That is the Son’s work, His divine purpose.

The Son’s Role                                                    Heb. 2:17-3:6

He, Jesus Christ, became like us. He became our sacrifice for sin. He became our High Priest, offering atonement for our sin. Consider Jesus. Consider His work. Consider His position. Consider His teaching. Consider His role as our High Priest. Consider that He is greater than Moses. Consider that He desires to call us sons. Consider that He is the architect and builder of His Kingdom, His Church.

In summary:

  1. The attributes of Christ define a King, the King of Kings. Therefore, lift up Christ with adoration and praise. Therefore, confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
  2. The Work of Christ is that of revealing God the Father. The Son is a sovereign righteous ruler, a sacrificial redeemer, a destroyer of evil [Satan], and a faithful High Priest. Therefore, worship Christ with reverence and thanksgiving.
  3. We who confess Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior are called holy brothers. We recognize He is above all, He created all, He atoned for all, He served all, and He rules all. Therefore persevere and never forsake Him.

The Glory of God Expressed Through Believers                                              Hebrews 3:7-4:13

The Believer’s Response [A Warning]                                  Heb. 3:7-19

The author inserts another warning from Psalm 95:7-11. We are not to harden our hearts against the Lord. We are not to act like the Israelites in the desert where they grumbled against God and when they preferred not to enter the Promised Land but return to Egypt. God was with them. God was leading them. God was teaching them and showing them who He was and yet they turned away in unbelief. They refused to trust God and to accept His kindness, His goodness, His mercy, His love, His will, and His salvation. They rejected God, preferring to live and walk according to their own will. [See Numbers 13-14.]

So the author is encouraging us to “listen” and “believe”. Believe God. Believe in His Son. Trust Him for your salvation and submit to His will. Then encourage others to believe and persevere in following Him for God is kind, good, merciful, and loving.

The Believer’s Reward [A Promise]                                     Heb.4:1-11

God’s rest is available. It was the Promised Land to the Israelites and it is eternity in heaven for all who place their trust in Jesus Christ. We have heard the Gospel and, therefore, must believe and have faith.

God’s Rest was His Will from the beginning. He created and rested on the seventh day. God’s Will is that we believe, that we obey Him and do His work, and that we enter His Rest, fellowshipping with Him in heaven. It was available in Joshua’s time and in David’s time. God’s Rest is available today to all who believe and do not harden their hearts.

The Believer’s Work                                                                Heb. 4:12-13

As believers, our work is to show/tell others how they too can enter God’s Rest. We are to preach, teach, and live in obedience to God’s Word. His Word is from the very beginning but it still lives and is still active. It is timeless. It is eternal. It is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. His Word convicts us of our sin, revealing our heart. His Word is all knowing, omniscient. His Word has the power to cleanse us from sin, to redeem us, and to make us sons of God. His Word judges our hearts. We either believe or don’t believe. We either obey or don’t obey. We either have faith or don’t have faith. His Word looks upon our hearts and determines if we are for Him or against Him. He either knows us or has never heard of us. Our work is to make His Word, His Gospel known to all. Our work is to introduce His Word, Jesus Christ, to others. That is what Christ meant when He summarized the Commandments; love God and love your neighbor. Our work is to bring the love of God to those people around us.

The Glory of God Expressed Through Jesus Christ                                                   Hebrews 4:14-10:39

The Great High Priest                                  Heb. 4:14-5:10

Our High Priest lives in heaven. Our High Priest understands our weakness because He too was tempted. The difference between Jesus Christ and the high priests of Israel is that Jesus was without sin. Therefore, we can approach Christ Jesus for mercy and grace to forgive us our sin. We approach Christ Jesus in faith and with confidence because He is righteous, pure, and holy. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. He is able to represent us before the Father. God the Father appointed Jesus Christ as our High Priest just like He appointed Aaron in times past. Aaron was just like each of us, a sinner, and was required to offer sacrifices for his own sin. But Jesus is the ultimate High Priest. Jesus is our eternal High Priest. He is more like the priest Melchezidek than like Aaron and those who followed Him.

Jesus Christ petitioned God to determine if there was some other way to pay the debt for our sin [Matt. 26:36-46]. But Jesus submitted to God’s plan as a son submits to his father and willingly suffered and died that we might have salvation through faith in Him. To have faith in Jesus Christ is to obey Him and submit ourselves to His Will just as Jesus obeyed God the Father and submitted to His Will. Jesus, by His obedience to God the Father, has shown us the way and assures us of eternal life to all who place their faith in Him, submitting to His authority. The Father and the Son are One and Jesus has made it possible for us to be in intimate fellowship with God forever.

A Warning and A Promise                             Heb. 5:11-6:20

The author expresses his disappointment with the lack of growth by the Jewish Christians. They should be capable of teaching others but they are still requiring instruction in the elementary truths. They need to grow. They are still babies when they should be mature. They have a faith but are not practicing it to the extent that they grow stronger and have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. They continue to need help understanding the basic doctrines of repentance, faith, resurrection, and judgment. They also have an elementary understanding concerning the practice of baptism and ordination. They are followers, not leaders. If they don’t grow in their faith, they may reject [die] their faith.

Chapter 6 verse 4 begins one of the most controversial portions of scripture. This is the clearest New Testament teaching which can be used to refute the Doctrine of Eternal Security. The clearest New Testament teaching supporting the Doctrine of Eternal Security is John 10:28. The most logical explanation for this conflict/contradiction is to remind ourselves about the life of Judas Iscariot. He was enlightened and heard Jesus preach and teach for three years. He witnessed miracles and participated in at least two evangelistic outreaches. He saw lives changes by God’s Word. Judas had what we call “head knowledge” but refused to humble himself and receive “heart knowledge”. He fell away, making a conscious decision that Jesus was not the Christ. Jesus did not fit into Judas’ requirement for a Savior. He wanted a savior for Israel’s political ills instead of a Savior for his sinful spirit. As a result, He rejected Jesus as the Son of God, as God Incarnate, as Savior and Lord. He went from seeking the Messiah to rejecting the Messiah. He chose not to believe and, therefore, condemned himself by his actions. He committed the “unpardonable sin”, that of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit [Matt. 12:31]. This attitude is very similar to that of the Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land. They heard, they saw, they participated, they received God’s blessings and goodness, but they refused to place their faith in God and, consequently, were refused access to God’s Promised Land. [Numbers 13-14]

This raises the question just who is God’s disciple, who is a born-again believer, one who is God’s child. Based on the teachings of Jesus, a true follower is one who believes God, believes Jesus Christ is Messiah, and seeks to do His Will. A true follower is one who accepts God’s gift of grace, submits himself to God, proclaims Christ is Lord, and obeys God’s Will. A true follower is like a child who is conceived, is born, and grows to maturity in Jesus Christ. A true follower is like a child who honors, obeys, respects, and worships his heavenly Father. A true follower matures, perseveres, and bears fruit. A true believer grows. An unbeliever dies. A true believer proclaims Christ as Lord and Savior, God Incarnate. An unbeliever refuses to proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior. A true believer wants to work in and for the Kingdom of God. An unbeliever may associate with those working in the Kingdom or they may even go so far as to protest “unfair” toward Kingdom workers.

This is a very harsh warning. It forces each of us to look at our own hearts and determine who we are. Are we Kingdom workers or Kingdom protestors? Do we obey God’s Word or are we rewriting God’s Word. Is our relationship with Christ growing warmer or growing cooler. Are we walking in His parade or just watching? It causes us to ask the question “Am I truly committed to Jesus Christ?”

A true believer has a heart whose soil is tilled, accepts God’s Will, and produces fruit. [Gal. 5:22-23] An unbeliever has a heart whose soil is hard and can only produce weeds. Hebrews 6:7-9 is a shortened version of Jesus’ parable of the soils in Mark 4.

His promise is Hope. God was faithful to Abraham and He will be faithful to us. Be steadfast in faith. Obey, work, bear fruit, love others, and persevere through good times and the bad. Be patient in the Hope of Jesus Christ, the Hope of Salvation, the Hope of heaven, the Hope of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.

This portion of scripture is given to get our attention. Don’t ignore it. Heed its message. Grow and persevere in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Consider Melchizedek                                    Heb. 7:1-28

We know very little about Melchizedek. He is mentioned historically in Genesis 14:18-20 where Abraham gave him a tenth of all the possessions retrieved from the marauding kings from the north. Nothing is known of Melchizedek’s beginning or end. He ruled over Salem [Jerusalem area and Mt. Moriah] and came to bless Abraham on his return from freeing Lot and others captured by the warring kings. He apparently was a God-fearing man, an instrument of the Most High God. His name means “king of righteousness” and “king of peace”. He is both priest and king. He is seen as eternal in a figurative sense. He is Christ-like. Yet there is no mention of him when Abraham takes Isaac, his only son, to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him in obedience to God. Melchizedek seems to appear in history and disappear. He is definitely a symbol of Christ. Perhaps he was an epiphany of the Lord God just like later when Abraham was visited by the three men prior to Sodom’s destruction. If he was not an epiphany to assure Abraham by blessing him, why did God choose Abraham over Melchizedek to bring forth the nation of Israel? This is an interesting question. Only God knows the answer and He doesn’t have to answer it. God can choose whom He pleases and He doesn’t have to answer for HE is Sovereign over all. But we can conclude that Melchizedek was discussed much among the Jews because more print is given to him in Hebrews than all of Scripture combined. He is said to be greater than Abraham because Abraham was honored to give Melchizedek a tenth of what Abraham had acquired. Those of greater stature blessed those of lesser stature. It was never the lesser blessing the greater. What Abraham gave Melchizedek preceded the Law, Aaron, and the Levites. Even sacrifices for sin were required in Adam’s era before the Law. God’s sacrificial system of tithes and offerings preceded Abraham. They were from the beginning as was Melchizedek.

Melchizedek is referenced in verse 11 to help explain who Jesus is, His superiority to Abraham and His likeness to Melchizedek. In fact, I believe verses 11-22 are meant to prove to the Jews that Melchizedek was indeed an epiphany of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, a Priest based on eternal life and not on ancestry. Upon meeting Abraham, Melchizedek even brought bread and wine [Gen. 14:18], a sign of fellowship and a symbol of the Lord’s Supper. [Most scholars would disagree with this point of view.] Jesus is the King through Judah and Priest because HE is eternal. The Messiah is both Priest and King. The only one who meets that criteria given by God through the prophets is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. Believe it! Place your faith in Him. Worship Jesus, your King and your High Priest who lives eternal. He alone is able to save us from our sin. He alone is holy, blameless, pure, set apart, and exalted. He alone humbled Himself, came to earth, suffered and died for our sin, and then was raised from the dead unto life, ascending to the right hand of God. His sacrifice paid the debt for sin for all mankind. HE LIVES! Consider Melchizedek. Then consider Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant                                   Heb. 8:1-10:39

In summary, we have a Great High Priest who sits at the right hand of God and serves in Heaven’s Tabernacle. It is the duty of every high priest to offer gifts and sacrifices. Moses had to follow God’s very specific instructions because what was to be God’s earthly tabernacle was to be a copy of what is in Heaven. But Jesus came and we have a New Covenant. The Old Covenant was a copy, a likeness, a teaching aid, but it wasn’t authentic or permanent. The author quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 in announcing the New Covenant. Instead of Laws written on tablets of stone, we have Laws written in our hearts and minds. Instead of Laws kept in the Ark of the Covenant in the temple, we have Laws kept in our bodies, the temple of God [I Cor. 3:16-17; I Cor. 6:19].

The author goes on to explain the rules and regulations for worship in the tabernacle according to the Old Covenant. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. He entered once a year and always with blood which was offered for his sins and the sin of Israel. This is a teaching example, a symbol of what was to take place when the real sacrifice, Jesus Christ, was offered. Through much of this portion of Scripture and even into Chapter 10, the author continually repeats and compares the Old Covenant practices with the offering of Jesus Christ to God for our sins. This is a very important concept for the Jews and for us to understand. In the New Covenant, Christ is our High Priest. He entered the heavenly tabernacle with His blood bringing forgiveness once and for all our sin. He is our unblemished [without sin] sacrifice. Our debt is paid and we are free from death and available to serve the Living God. All who call upon the Name of God, Jesus Christ, our mediator High Priest, will be saved. Through His death and resurrection we have the promise of eternal life and fellowship with God. “The wages of sin is death.” [Rom. 3:23] “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” [Heb. 9:22] See also Lev. 17:11. All God’s Covenants restoring fellowship between man and God have been implemented with blood. Life is in the blood and only blood can redeem life. That is God’s decree; that is God’s way.

There is no greater sacrifice, no greater love, no greater grace, no greater mercy, and no greater promise than that given in Christ Jesus. There is no more sacrifice, no more death for those who place their faith in Christ Jesus. This is the great Glory of God, salvation in the name and work of Jesus Christ. When He comes again, our salvation will be complete. Consider the New Covenant. It is our only Hope of Salvation.

The Old Covenant and Its’ Problems               Heb. 10:1-4

The Old Covenant was good because it was a “shadow of good things to come”. But it could not make one righteous and holy. Consider the following table and chart on the next page.

The Law is The Law is not
Shadow of good [vs. 1]Repetitious [vs. 1]

Reminder of sin [vs. 3]

Powerless [vs. 4]

Reality [vs. 1]Capable of making one holy [vs. 1]

Capable of removing guilt [vs. 2]

Able to remove sin [vs. 1, 2, 4]

hebrews_the_tabernacle

The New Covenant and Its’ Solution                          Heb. 10:5-25

Christ was required per Psalm 40:6-8 to do God’s Will, setting aside the Old for the New that we might be holy through the sacrificial obedience of Christ. The priest’s work was repetitious but Christ’s sacrifice was once for all and then He sat down with God to await the defeat of His enemies. The Holy Spirit testifies of this truth in Jeremiah 31:33-34. When God’s laws are written on our hearts and we accept His forgiveness, He forgets our sin and no more sacrifices are necessary. We are able to come directly into His Presence with Hope for He is faithful. Therefore, we must encourage one another in love and good deeds, in fellowship and walking faithfully with Him as His Second Advent approaches. We can rely on the New Covenant because of:

  1. Christ’s obedience [vs. 9]
  2. Christ’s sacrifice [vs. 10]
  3. Christ’s authority [vs. 12]
  4. The Holy Spirit’s testimony [vs. 15]
  5. God’s Word [vs. 16] and
  6. God’s memory lapse [vs. 17]

Christ’s sacrifice has opened our communication with God directly through:

  • Christ’s Presence [vs. 20, 21],
  • Christ’s Cleansing [vs. 22],
  • Christ’s Promise [vs.23], and
  • Christ’s Encouragement and Hope [vs. 25].

Rejection and Its’ Consequences                                   Heb. 10:26-31

If we ignore the New Covenant and keep on sinning, His sacrifice is meaningless and we should fear judgment. People died because they rejected the Old Covenant so rejecting God’s only Son will bring even greater punishment. That is an insult to the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable sin of Mark 3:29. Rejecting Christ removes the possibility of forgiveness from God. It is a rejection of God’s grace and a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work.

Perseverance and Its’ Rewards                                   Heb. 10:32-39

The person who perseveres can be described as one who:

  1. Withstands suffering and insults. [vs. 32, 33]
  2. Helps others to persevere. [vs. 33]
  3. Is contented. [vs. 34]
  4. Is assured. [vs. 35]
  5. Anticipates His coming again. [vs. 35]
  6. Is confident of Christ’s promised rewards. [vs. 36, 39]
  7. Lives by faith. [vs. 38]
  8. Refuses to retreat from his faith. [vs. 39]
  9. Receives and believes the Gospel. [vs. 32, 39]

The person who perseveres will receive eternal life, an eternal reward as promised by our faithful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of the New Covenant.

In summary:

  • Examine Yourself
  • Reject the Old
  • Accept the New
  • Stand up Straight
  • Stand Beside Others
  • Stand Forever
  • And you will……………… Stand in His Presence.

Another way of saying the same thing from an “Investment” point of view is this:

  1. Access your situation,
  2. Count the cost,
  3. Switch funds 100% [ i.e. don’t diversify],
  4. Refuse to sell and hang on for the ride, and
  5. Reap your rewards with great joy.

As an added benefit, all investment costs and taxes have been paid in full.
[This is just the opposite of worldly investment advice.]

The Glory of God Expressed Through Faith                                  Hebrews 11:1-40

The author defines FAITH in verses 1 and 2. Faith is described as being filled with assurance and confidence. Faith provides us with assurance concerning the future and being confident of the present concerning things we can not see. Both the Old and the New Covenants emphasized our need for Faith and living it. Faith before Christ involved believing in His Promise. Faith after Christ involves believing in His Person. A popular acronym for Faith is:

Forsaking All, I Trust Him.

As Christians, we believe God created. That is a part of our overall faith. God created out of nothing with His Word. Scientists who espouse evolution still must start with particles of matter. But who made the particles? God is the author of creation, the only possible and logical answer. I don’t mean to imply here that evolution is correct. It is not. It is poor science. Evolution is the only explanation man has if he refuses to accept there is a God. But God is real. He lives! And He created all things, including you and me.

Faith was the difference in Abel’s offering to God. Faith was the difference in Enoch’s walk with God. Faith was the difference in Noah’s view of the future. Abraham walked by faith and Isaac was born out of faith as was Israel. All these men walked by faith in the Promises of God even though they didn’t see them come to pass. They walked by faith looking forward, never back. We are to walk by faith focusing on our future abode in heaven. By faith we do not fear death but have assurance and confidence that God has the power to raise the dead unto life. Enoch was a testimony of that promise. Elijah was another. And Jesus Christ is the ultimate testimony of God’s resurrection power.

The blessings given Isaac and Jacob were expressions of their faith, having assurance and confidence that these blessings were true and according to God’s Will. When Faith is present, fear is absent. It is by faith we accept God’s invitation to be His child. All the people in this “Hall of Faith” were visionaries, always looking forward to experience the miraculous work of God.

Faith is corporate as well as personal. Israel was able to cross the Red Sea whereas the Egyptian army perished. Jericho’s walls fell because of Israel’s faith. Faith conquers kingdoms and administers justice. Faith is personal. But if we as a nation are to remain strong and continue to receive God’s blessings, we as a nation must remain faithful. We Christians must never stop proclaiming His Name or His Word.

God has a better plan. Its’ foundation is Faith. Faith enables one to withstand persecution. Faith enables one to turn away the “flaming arrows” of temptation hurled by Satan [Ephesians 5:18]. Faith enables us to persevere in all of life. Faith gives us a vision of the future. Faith enables us to make right choices. Faith enables us to be content in our circumstances. Faith enables us to do good and walk uprightly. Faith imputes us with His Righteousness. Faith enables us to be patient, love one another, and live in peace with each other. We could go on and on and more examples could be mentioned. However,
the point is this: God’s Name is Glorified by all who possess genuine Faith in the Promises and Person of the Lords Jesus Christ. God’s Glory is expressed in “believers” lives by all that they do and say, by how they live and how they die. Accept God’s gift of faith, acknowledge, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and be a person having confidence and assurance in all the Promises of God. There is no better way to live.

Therefore, Persevere in Your Faith                              Hebrews 12:1-13:21

From here to the end, this letter to the Hebrews takes on a more personal tone. This is where I think the apologetics end and personal exhortation begins. This is more like Paul’s writings. Much of what has been said in Chapters 1-11 is repeated in Chapters 12-13. We have transitioned from preaching-teaching to discipling. We have transitioned from a large audience to a small audience. Since we have heard and understood what the author presented in Chapters 1-11, take heed and follow these instructions.

This is a good place to insert what I believe to be the main theme of this letter to the Hebrews. It has been expressed in these first eleven chapters and it will be expressed again in the next two chapters.

True believers, i.e. true people of faith, do not drift away. They persevere in times of trouble; never taking their eyes off Jesus Christ and His “great salvation” in pursuit of His precious “glorifying rest”.

Look to Jesus                                      Heb. 12:1-3

We who chose to walk in faith have many spectators to cheer us on. These spectators/witnesses are those people of faith who have gone before us. They are those mentioned in chapter eleven plus others such as grandparents and great grandparents, relatives, and friends. Most have died having completed their own race and received their rewards. But others are living and still running: runners encouraging other runners, mature runners encouraging younger runners, experienced runners encouraging runners who have just started, previous relay team runners who are encouraging those who are currently running for The Team, The Kingdom of God.

To run well, we must run light. We can not run burdened with sin. Excesses such as fat and clothes must be left behind. Perseverance is critical. The Race of Faith is not a sprint. It is a long distance cross country race. Endurance is a must.

Our eyes must always remain on Jesus Christ, our coach. He is at the finish line waiting to welcome us. Remember, the Will of God always concerns the future; i.e. who is being prepared to enter the Kingdom of God, to be born again, to accept Christ as Savior and Lord, to repent of their sin and obey Jesus Christ. The will of man almost always concerns the present; i.e. where will we live, where will we work, where will my children go to school, what car should I buy, what clothes should I wear, etc. The will of Satan always concerns the past; i.e. you are unworthy, God won’t accept you, remember your past life, remember how happy you were without Jesus, remember how happy you were without God, etc. When we accept Christ, we toss/take-off all that is associated with sinning against Him and run with our eyes focused on Him, with our eyes focused on the future. We do not look back, only forward. We run and live our lives with perseverance, never forsaking Him, enduring until He calls us home. We follow Christ’s example because He ran the perfect race. We are not to grow weary or lose heart.

Accept the Lord’s Discipline                 Heb. 12:4-11

First recognize that your life is good. Jesus Christ was falsely accused and killed for teaching the TRUTH. Others have been martyred for their faith. You may think your life “stinks” but there is always somebody else who is suffering more. Second, remember we who believe are sons of God. The Father loves His children. Children are disciplined by the Father. It’s natural. Expect discipline. Accept it. It is always done for our good, that we may become more like Him, holy. The Lord’s discipline enables us to mature and bear fruit. It enables us to become strong and withstand the storms of life. Discipline teaches us to endure and persevere. Discipline helps us focus on the future.

When hardships come, seek to understand if it is of the Lord. Not all hardships are from the Lord. They can be the result of these four scenarios:

  1. Natural. All creation is fallen and cursed. The Garden of Eden no longer exits.
  2. Accidental. We all make bad decisions from time to time and suffer the consequences.
  3. Discipline from God. He is our Father and He fulfills His duties in fairness and with justice.
  4. Glorification of God’s Name. Remember Job? Even though he suffered much, God’s Name was glorified in the end. God’s eye is on the future, not the present. Even the martyr of Christians resulted in glorifying God’s name.

Don’t let hardships depress you. Seek to learn its cause and regardless of what you learn, use it to become better and not bitter.

Walk Uprightly and Live in Peace                     Heb. 12:12-21

Now that we are becoming strong by running and persevering in the Race of Faith and are enduring in the Lord’s discipline/teaching, we are becoming mature, strong, and able to help others in their Race of Faith. With maturity comes the ability to live in peace with others and to live holy lives like Christ did. With maturity comes the ability to be Christ-like. We will be able to discern those among us who prefer false teaching and wish to lead us astray. We are responsible for preventing the practice of sexual immorality among the brethren. We are to verify that all those among us have the proper respect for God’s blessing, i.e. they have the heart of Jacob and not the heart of Esau. There is no reason to fear God anymore for Christ Jesus has come to be our Savior. We are to walk in righteousness, be holy, and live in peace. We are to be steadfast, assured, and confident of God’s Blessing.

Worship God with Thanksgiving                      Heb. 12:22-28

We look forward to meeting God face to face in the New Jerusalem in Heaven. Our Lord lives and resides in the Holy City. We will worship Him together with His angels as one body because we are His children and have been named by Him. God is the judge of all men and those who trust Jesus are righteous and have been made perfect. Jesus paid our debt for sin and because we place our faith in Him, He does not condemn us but welcomes us into His Glorious Kingdom. We have been declared perfect as He is perfect, holy and He is holy, righteous as He is righteous.

We enter His kingdom forever because we believe His Word. We believe because we heeded His Word through the Holy Spirit. Those who refused Jesus when He walked among us in person or now through the Holy Spirit will not partake of His Heavenly Kingdom. This earth will be shaken and creation destroyed but those who believe in Him will live eternally in heaven which can not be shaken or destroyed. Therefore, worship God with thanksgiving and reverence now and forever. It is our reasonable response for all who believe and have accepted His great gift of Salvation.

Love One Another                                                     Heb. 13:1-6

The author exhorts the Hebrews to keep on loving one another and to be hospitable to strangers. The strangers visiting may actually be angels. In other words, treat strangers as if they were angels sent from God. Angels and strangers are sent from God to His children to minister to them and to encourage them. So extend the love of God to them. God’s love should also extend to those in prison and those who are mistreated.

To love one another means to avoid all forms of adultery, to avoid the love of money, and to always be content. The Lord is with us always. Lean on Him. Trust Him for He will never forsake us. With such a promise, love one another and be content because He cares for you and for me.

Guard Your Heart and Remember His Grace            Heb. 13:7-14

We are to remember our spiritual leaders, those who went before us and those who are still living. We are to remember their teaching and their lives. Our remembrance involves imitating their lives of faith. We are to see the grace of Jesus in them. Remembering their lives enables us to see the importance of and the means to guarding our own hearts so we can be remembered for our faithfulness.

Jesus never changes. The message and lives of faith of those who have gone before us is relevant for today. Remembrance does not mean we worship them. We should honor them and respect them but we should not worship them. Worship is reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ only.

So we are to strengthen our hearts in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He died that we might live. He died that we might live with Him in Heaven.

Confess His Name                           Heb. 13:15-16

The Will of God is that we know Him, grow in Him, and glorify His name. We glorify Him by confessing His Name, by not being ashamed of His Grace, His Gospel. Such goes hand in hand with loving others by the sharing of God’s goodness to us, both material and spiritual. That is true and pleasing worship of Him who gave His life for us.

Obey Your Leaders                                 Heb. 13:17

Our leaders deserve our support. They have been placed in their jobs for our benefit. See comments on Romans 13:1-7 for a more thorough explanation. This single verse leads credence to Paul as author of this epistle in that he is the only one of the Apostles to bring up this subject.

Pray                                                          Heb. 13:18-21

The author asks for prayer, that he may be restored to these Hebrews. In closing, the author prays for the Hebrews. He asks that the Lord, the Great Shepherd, bless them and minister through them for the sake of glorying His Name. This should be the central theme of all our prayers for one another. There is no higher calling.

Good-bye                                                                                     Hebrews 13:22-25

This is a very short closing, asking that this letter of exhortation be accepted. The author mentions Timothy, leading us to believe he was imprisoned for a short time and then released. This is one of the reasons why I believe Paul is the author. Paul called for Timothy [II Timothy 4:9-13] to come to Rome so it’s possible Timothy was arrested while in Rome. The author will take Timothy with him to visit them. Timothy was like a son to Paul and Paul relied heavily on both Timothy and Titus. Greetings are sent from all in Italy which probably means greetings from the church in Rome. Paul was not released from prison so if he is the author, this visit never occurred.

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