This Book of Hebrews cannot be understood apart from its original Jewish audience and focus on the transition from the Old Covenant Levitical system (best detailed in Leviticus) to the New Covenant. The superiority of the New Covenant with its superior priesthood, superior sacrifice and superior sanctuary is driven home with the practical application that it would be foolish to abandon Christianity and revert back to any of the Old Covenant types and shadows. The theme of perseverance in the faith is set against very severe warnings against apostasy — against falling away from the faith to ultimate perdition. The genuineness of faith (as opposed to false professions of faith and just external association with the Christian church) is demonstrated by one’s perseverance. So that perseverance is not a condition of salvation but an evidence of the sovereign working of God’s grace. The focus on Jesus Christ and the finality and sufficiency of His once-for-all sacrifice on the cross should be our vision as we “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”
PERSEVERE IN FAITH FOCUSED ON JESUS CHRIST, THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT, AS SUPREME, SUPERIOR AND SUFFICIENT
Heb. 3:1 “Consider Jesus”
Heb. 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”
I. (1:1 – 7:28) PROVING THE SUPERIORITY OF JESUS CHRIST
A. (1:1-4) CULMINATION OF GOD’S REVELATION
B. (1:5 – 2:18) SUPERIOR TO ANGELS
(2:1-4) WARNING #1 – AGAINST DRIFTING AWAY
C. (3:1 – 4:13) SUPERIOR TO MOSES
(3:7 – 4:13) WARNING #2 – AGAINST HARDNESS OF HEART AND UNBELIEF
D. (4:14 – 7:28) SUPERIOR TO AARON
(5:11 – 6:20) WARNING #3 – AGAINST SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY
II. (8:1 – 10:18) PROVING THE SUPERIORITY OF THE NEW COVENANT
A. (8:1-13) SUPERIORITY OF THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST AND THE NEW COVENANT
B. (:9:1-14) COMPARISON OF OLD COVENANT AND NEW COVENANT WORSHIP SYSTEMS
C. (9:15 – 10:18) SUPERIORITY OF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST
III. (10:19 – 13:25) PRACTICAL EXHORTATIONS
A. (10:19-25) PRACTICAL OUTWORKING OF THE SUPERIORITY OF CHRIST’S PRIESTHOOD
(10:26-31) WARNING #4 – DON’T PERSIST IN DELIBERATE SIN
B. (10:32-39) EXHORTATION TO PERSEVERE IN LOVE, HOPE AND FAITH CONSISTENT WITH YOUR EARLY CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE
C. (11:1-40) EXHORTATION TO FOLLOW THE EXAMPLES OF THE CHAMPIONS OF FAITH
D. (12:1-17) EXHORTATION TO PERSEVERE IN FAITH BY FOCUSING ON JESUS AS YOU RESPOND TO SUFFERING AND DIVINE DISCIPLINE
(12:19-29) WARNING #5 – GREATER PRIVILEGES MEAN GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY
E. (13:1-17) EXHORTATION TO PERFORM CHRISTIAN DUTIES
F. (13:18-25) PERSONAL INSTRUCTIONS
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
· To understand the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant – especially as supported by numerous quotations or references to OT passages.
• To see how the types and foreshadowings in the OT are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
• To focus on the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ
• To appreciate the high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ
• To reinforce a high view of the authority of Scripture
• To encourage believers to persevere in the face of persecution or suffering and to press on to maturity in light of the danger of apostasy
• To challenge us to live by faith and follow the example of the heroes of faith we see in the Scriptures
• To examine ourselves as to whether we truly are in the faith and to be sobered by the warning passages
David Malick: Because Christ Is Greater In His Person Than Those Of The Old Mosaic Covenant (Angels, Moses & Aaron) And Greater In His Ministry Than Those Of The Levitical Priesthood, The Writer Urges His Readers Not To Persist In Their Sinful Identification With Judaism But To Persevere In Faithfulness Toward Jesus Knowing That God Will Honor Them When He Returns To Fulfill His Promises.
Van Parunak: So we have an epistle by a highly cultured Greek, written to a local assembly of predominantly Jewish Christians, probably in Rome around AD 60. Recent pressures against believing Jews are tempting them to merge into the unbelieving Jewish community and hide their distinctive beliefs. The letter is written to urge them to take their stand with their Lord “outside the camp” of Israel, leaving the shadows embraced by conventional Judaism and cleaving to the reality of the crucified and risen Messiah.
E. Schuyler English: To read Hebrews is to breathe the atmosphere of heaven itself. To study it is to partake of spiritual meat. To abide in its teachings is to be from immaturity to maturity in the knowledge of truth and of Jesus Christ Himself.
A. C. Gaebelein: Hebrews gives a wonderful vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is revealed as the Son of God, and Son of Man; as the heir of all things; higher than the angels. We can trace His path of humiliation to death and what has been accomplished by the death on the cross. All the blessings put on the side of the believer are made known in Hebrews. But above all the great message is the Priesthood of Christ. This is the great center of this sublime Epistle. It is an Epistle of contrasts. There is the contrast between the Lord Jesus Christ and the angels; between Him and Moses, between Him and Aaron, between the Priesthood of Melchizedek and that of Aaron; between the offerings of the old covenant and the one great offering of Christ. This was the supreme need of these Jewish-Christians, to know Christ in all His fullness and glory. This knowledge would make them perfect, steadfast and fill them with comfort. And this is still our need.
Richard D. Phillips: Few studies can be more profitable to Christians today than that of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In this letter, God exhorts us to persevere in the faith, even in the face of trials. Hebrews tells us why we must press on – because of the surpassing supremacy of Jesus Christ – and how we must press on – through faith in Christ, like the faith of those who went before us. Hebrews warns us of the pitfalls common to every age and through which many make a shipwreck of their souls, reminding us as well of the many resources available to us in our pilgrimage through this life