Background of Hebrews:
Author: Unknown. Had a thorough knowledge of the OT and a clear understanding of how it should be interpreted in light of its fulfillment in Christ. He was deeply concerned about people failing to persevere in their devotion to and public confession of Christ (3:1, 4:14, 10:23). He warns against laxity and carelessness (2:1-4), against the attractions of the unbelieving world (12:14-17), against yielding to the social pressure of the larger society that did not accept Christ (3:7-4:11). Continued inattention to this could lead to apostasy!! (6:4-8, 12:14-17). (the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.)
The full sufficiency of the Son of God as the effective High Priest of God’s people is the author’s antedote against these dangers. Through Christ’s act on the cross to remove sin, God’s power for perseverence is real (4:14-16). Jesus as Savior and High Priest is the final revelation of God (1:1-4), who fulfills all that the old order anticipated in the OT covenant.
To whom was it written and why: not sure; disputed, but appears to be believers or followers of Christ who were in danger of compromising their commitment to Christ.
Wavering Jewish believers, encouraging them to stand in their faith. The author points out the superiority of Christ over all that they had experienced under the law. What is offered through Jesus Christ is better than that that was promised under the Mosaic covenant and the should never consider turning back!! New Covenant of God’s grace thru Jesus Christ!
There were some who experienced intimidation by the marginalization they suffered as a result of their loyalty to Christ. (10:32-34, 12:1-11). They endured persecutions. Disappointed that Christ has not yet returned, many stopped attending times of community worship (10:24-25). It became easier to start identifying with the unbelieving world, receiving certain privileges and respect by abandoning their commitment to Christ.
In the first century Hellenistic world, the role of honor and shame was important. Honor was received when given public recognition for conforming to what was socially expected or accepted. But the author of Hebrews seeks to show that this shame suffered at the hands of unbelieving is a mark of great honor before God.
Hebrews is completely free from and kind of ethnic distinction. He never differentiates between Jews and Gentiles. He envisions one people of God spread out through history!
Hebrews envisions no break in salvation history. Christ has fulfilled what those OT institutions always foreshadowed and has provided what was needed to bring the faithful people of God to their God-intended goal (11:39-40).
What is the dominant message of the text: it addresses the issue of assurance and the doctrine of eternal security.
Hebrews rests on careful OT interpretation!! The author quotes 28 OT passages. They form the basis for his teaching on Christ and salvation. They undergird his warnings. God who spoke in the OT has now spoken in the one who is His Son.
The author begins and ends by comparing God’s ultimate self-revelation in the Son with his self-disclosure on Mt. Sinai. What God has said (1:1-2:18) and continues to say (12:18-24) through His Son, Jesus Christ, will reach consummation in God’s final declaration at the Judgment (12:25-29).
All of the warning passages exhort the readers to persevere in honoring God’s message via Jesus Christ, in order to avoid the consequences of disobedience and neglect.
In Chapter 1 and 2, the author takes the time to firmly position Jesus Christ for his audience (readers and listeners). God’s ultimate revelation is seen in a conversation between God (1:1-14) and his Son (2:5-18).
WHAT DO WE/THEY KNOW??
Jesus as God’s Son (thru whom God now speaks to us; who created the universe; full of God’s glory, expressing God’s character; His command has power; His death on the cross cleansed us from sin) and this places Him greater than the angels (who are only servants who care for the children of God).
salvation: 1:13-14 IT should not be assumed that this refers to a believer’s past experience of regeneration. It is future as the text suggests “will inherit.” Keep in mind the mindset of the author as he pulls from OT context in his comparisons and his lesser-to-greater arguments. He quotes much from Psalms, and in Psalms, “salvation” refers to the deliverance of God’s people from the oppression of their enemies, and speaks to their consequent enjoyment of God’s blessings. Triumph over enemies!! Remember, the readers were experiencing external pressures and had endured persecutions. They needed to be reminded that victory over their enemies lies with God and the coming Jesus Christ!!!
In chapter 2, we see the author’s first warning passage, and it is because of what we know and have heard as formerly detailed in chapter 1. We know the TRUTH!! The Son of God is supremely great and destined for final victory over His enemies…..
READ THE TEXT!!
WARNING AGAINST NEGLECT! Hebrews 2:1-4 (invokes the need to hear or listen to God’s message) Warn against driftng away!!
Listen carefully (pay careful attention) to the truth we have heard (urgency of obedience; harden not your hearts – Ps 95:7-8), lest we drift away from it! (going spiritually adrift; sinning by slipping away from God’s anchor; lapse into spiritual defeat; moving away from our moorings with Christ).
Proverbs 3:21 “My son, do not slip away, but keep my counsel and intent.”
It involves holding firm to your confession of Christ and living in obedient faithfulness with your eyes fixed on Jesus.
DISCUSS DRIFT AWAY!
A nautical metaphor that paints the picture of hearers attending to their course with diligence lest through neglect they drift off course and miss their intended destination.
This drifing is the opposite of “going on” in maturity or of “drawing near” through what Christ has provided, and thus of “running the course” to the heavenly goal. Those who will not move toward God drift away!
We don’t ever compromise despite social pressures or temptations!
If the children of Israel faced consequences and reprecutions for their own neglect of God’s word delivered by angels (Mt Sinai), surely there will be consequences and reprecutions for those of us who have received God’s word through Jesus Christ Himself, God incarnate, confirmed by signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, delievered to us by those who heart Him speak His truth!!
How can we escape such a “great salvation??”
DISCUSS GREAT SALVATION!
In 1:1-2:18 the author contrasts the “so great salvation” that God has “spoken” in his Son with the Sinai “word” spoken through angels (2:1-4).
The God who spoke at Sinai has now spoken in His Son, providing the “great salvation” (2:3) anticipated by that earlier angel-mediated revelation.
Same as we saw in 1:14 and it alludes to the reader’s potential share in the Son’s triumphant dominion.
In 2:5, the author is certainly speaking of “the world to come.”
In 2:1-4, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (see also in 12:25) If the readers lost sight of their ultimate victory and deliverance that was promised to them in connection to with the Son’s own final victory, they could expect retribution. The author was not specific to what that would be, and it’s unwarranted to think he was specifically referring to hell. Disregard for God’s provision brings severance from its benefits!!
Jesus the Man! Why is this important for us to acknowledge?
Heb 2:14-18 Jesus is the all-sufficient High Priest!
As the typological old system removed outward impurity, so the work of Christ removes the impurity of the heart. An impure heart is a disobedient heart in rebellion against God. The all-sufficient work of Christ transforms the kind of rebellious heart exemplified by the wilderness generation into the obedient heart of the New Covenant characterized by joyful compliance with the will of God.
Terms: Rededication! Restoring and Maintaining Fellowship!
In summary: the Son is the fulfillment of God’s OT revelation (1:1-4). Since HE is far superior to the angels through whom the Old Covenant was revealed (1:5-14), it is urgent to heed God’s salvation mediated through Him (2:1-4). He has procured this salvation and assumed his place of preeminence through his incarnate obedience and death. (2:5-18).
Bible Study Notes – Hebrews (The 5 Warning Passages of Hebrews, Warning 2)
WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF! Hebrews 3:7 – 4:13 (invokes an emotive need and explicit expectation to trust and obey God)
Chapters 3 and 4 (3:7 – 19; 4:1-10; 4:11-13)
Trust and obey God’s message rather than disobey and turn away from Him. The author continues to contrast the former era of what transpired in the OT (Old Covenant) with the children of Israel and the mediators of God’s message during that time with message we have today mediated through His Son, Jesus Christ. We might find a few more challenges in intepretation here as it pertains to his usage of “fear” and “rest”. He still continues to position his point using a lesser-to-greater argument.
3:1-6 THINK CAREFULLY Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest!! Jesus is greater than Moses; we are the houses that God has created as He is the One who has created everything!! Moses was a faithful servant.
3:7-19 (recalls the demise of the wilderness community)
Quote from Ps 95 (READ PASSAGE) that points to Sinai community. Do not pattern your life after those of the wilderness congregation who “hardened their hearts” against God by distrusting and disobeying Him.
Hold on tight to what you know and have heard!! Don’t fall asleep at the wheel as take this journey!!
(Kadesh Barnea; Num 13)
“Rebellion” (Exod 17:1-7)
“Testing” (Exod 17:1-7)
“Harden” (Exod 13:15; Exod 32:9)
Heb 3:12 (self-evaluation) Be careful/watchful!
Heb 3:13-15 (believers are told to encourage one another to avoid or to prevent the hardening of hearts by sin’s deception. It would appear that the author contends believers are prone to wander from God’s message and his messenger.
Heb 3:19 Because of their unbelief they did not share in all that belongs to Christ!!
Unbelief is caused by a hardened heart, which is caused by being deceived by sin. The result is apostasy, turning you away from the living God. The author views the abandonment of the Christian faith as turning away from God.
Constant encouragement in the midst of a caring fellowship (being part of a church/worship family) will help believers remain faithful. The Word of God tells us in Heb 10:25 not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
QUESTION: This text makes it clear that there is a kind of partnership that we as believers have with God and Jesus Christ. Is a believer’s “partnership” with Christ dependent upon the believer maintaining a belief in what God has spoken through, by and about His Son? Who exactly is responsible for maintaining one’s “partnership” with Jesus Christ? Is it the believer who maintains his or her faith, or is it God who secures the believer? Is assurance based upon a “cause” and “effect” understanding?
The author poses that believers are to encourage one another regularly because the “partnership” they have with Jesus Christ appears to be dependent upon their maintaining faith and belief in what God has spoken.
4:1-10 (appeals to believers not to rebel like the wilderness community but rather to obey God’s promise given by His Son)
4:9 speaks of yet a special rest that is still available to us!!
“REST” Ps 95?
Fear of not entering into God’s “rest”.
The Psalmist, David, implies God’s rest still stands TODAY and is a future rest. (ch 11 and 12)
FOOTNOTE 4:1 Israel’s failure to enter Canaan becomes a solemn warning, lest Christians fail to enter the rest that God has promised. This rest is not entrance to Canaan, but a historical type of rest to be enjoyed by Christians. Some believe “rest” as a future heavenly rest, while others feel that the term describes the present experience of the believer who has fully surrendered to Christ and is totally controlled by the Holy Spirit.
4:11-13 (be diligent in your faith in and obedience to God)
The Word of God alive and powerful and is sharper than any 2-edged sword!! When it comes to God and His Word, there is nowhere to hide. We will have to one day make an account of our lives before God.
Some folks try to evade the Word of God by trying to stay far from hearing it or reading it. Others hear it, read it, and yet ignore it and do not apply it. Essentially, we can’t think we can live a life of unbelief being unfaithful to God and still partake of the “rest” God has promised!
Two great provisions encourage believers in their faith:
1) the word of God, which reveals whether a person is living a spiritual life
2) the ministry of Christ our High Priest who is able to bring us into immediate fellowship with God.
Bible Study Notes – Hebrews (The 5 Warning Passages of Hebrews, Warning 3)
WARNING AGAINST LACK OF MATURITY! Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20
Heb 5:11-14 Are you ready for solid food?
A sudden and surprising passage!! A direct rebuke of his audience who he seems to know well enough that he feels the need to address them in this way!
The author is concerned about Christians being satisfied only with a diet of milk when they have the opportunity to grow and mature to the solid food of God’s word.
There are many who are ignorant of:
1) who Jesus is,
2) what Christians hv believed and should believe about God and the world,
3) how the entire Christian story makes sense,
4) what the Bible contains and how individual Christians fit in it,
5) how their lives and their thoughts should be transformed by the power of the Gospel.
There are people in other countries who hunger for this and would welcome the oppty to take in as much as they can, but here in this country it seems most are fine with only milk!
He accuses them of being “spiritually dull,” “sluggish” as it relates to their capacity to take things in. Too lazy to grow in their faith.
They ought to be teachers by now and not be looking for someone to teach them!!
What is the maturity?? Verses 13 and 14
People who are ready for solid food are mature people who are skilled in the Word to know right from wrong. They have enough experience and training to able to tell good from evil; that that is of God and that that is not!!
People should become proficient in understanding and using the entire message in God’s Word to heal, restore, and save lives. Know your way around the whole message to be able to apply to your own lives, your communities and the world at large…….to see how all the different parts of God’s revelation fit together to apply to different situations and have the power to transform lives and situations. Life-long learners.
Heb 6:1-8 No Way Back!!
We shouldn’t be going over and over again the same basic teachings about Christ.
Verses 1 and 2: In what should we not need further instruction?
Repenting from evil deeds or dead works!! This refers to the religious practice of idol worship and all that it involves. The author touches on Jewish rituals which are now unnecessary with what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
Faith in God!! Trusting in God rather than idols!
Baptism and laying on of hands! This was an act conducted during the very early times of Christianity as part of induction into the Christian community. Jesus was baptized, so new converts received baptism followed by the laying on of hands as a sign and means of sharing in the new Christian family.
Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement!! This is what has been understood from the earliest times of Christianity that there would be a time of judging and the ushering in of age to come. A solid hope that is rooted in Jewish tradition and re-energized with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we just reviewed these basics, we have to ask ourselves is it that people have forgotten these basics or is it that they never learned them to begin with??
Verses 4-8: His warning about “drifting/falling away” where you have learned the basics and have started down the Christian path, and you decide for one reason or another to renounce it and go in a different direction. Here we see language as it relates to an apostate!! (one who has abandoned or renounced a religious belief.) Crucifying Jesus Christ once more!!
Verses 7-8: (cr Lk 8:11-15) Crops with thorns and thistles will eventually prove useless with no future growth. Seed needs to be planted in good soil where it can take root and grow and be fruitful for the kingdom of God.
When the author speaks of “drifting/falling away” and “crucifying Jesus all over again,” he has in mind those people who have belonged to the church, who taken part in the common life of the church, but then decide it isn’t for them. They abandon their membership, and join in the general public contempt of the faith. The question the author did not raise, address, or even pursue here is whether or not it is possible for a genuine Christian to lose everything after all? The answer to that question is “NO.” The Apostle Paul supports this answer in the book of Romans chapters 5-8 where he details various arguments to prove this point! [READ A FEW]
BUT here in the text of Hebrews the author moves past this and makes a point to address his audience as those who he does not believe fall into this category!! The only way to handle what Paul says and what the author of Hebrews says here is that the people described in verses 4 and 5 are those who have become church members and who have shared in the power of the Gospel and Christian fellowship, but who never really made it their own, deep down on the inside!! Was it real?? Was it genuine??
Heb 6:9-12 Keep up the good work!
There are several distinct phases to this process of growing in the Christian faith:
1. The initial burst of enthusiasm and excitement of something new!
2. The gradual seeping away of energy as we reach the hard grind of carrying on.
3. Then there are the days, weeks, years when we get out of bed and don’t feel like working the process, imagining something else a bit more exciting.
4. BUT we are reminded there is an ultimate goal that will make it all worthwhile, so we get to it, one day at a time!
This is often how it is living as a Christian!!
In verses 9 and 10, the author makes it clear that God notices your track record of service to God and to one another. The author encourages them to continue their journey of faith and service, not to become lazy or sluggish or spiritually dull or indifferent. Be like those who are also going to inherit the promises of God because of their faith and endurance!!
We don’t earn God’s grace and favor. God loves us just because He does, Praise God!!!! But there is a balance between God’s faithfulness and our human effort. We have been given our instruction book (the Bible – biblical instructions before leaving earth) so that we know how to live as those already having the free love and grace of God and relying on prayer and faith and more grace for every step we take , every decision we make! Living as a Christian is never sitting back and thinking God will do it all and we don’t have to do anything on this journey! Phil 2:12-13 Paul says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Heb 6:13-20 God’s Unchangeable Promise
The author again reaches back to the OT to speak to the security in the promises of God. God made promises to Abraham (verse 14), and Abraham hung on to those promises. These promises are solid and unbreakable God swore that He would keep them by His own self….He took an oath that He swore by His own character….no one greater!! The author says God’s promise and His oath are unchangeable because God does not lie!!
The author goes further to to say because God doesn’t lie, those of US who seek refuge in Him can have the same confidence and hope. We can take this stance in the midst of whatever challenges we may on our own spiritual journey because our Hope is Jesus Christ, our strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, who has made a way for us to go beyond the vail of God’s inner court for ourselves, unlike the priests in the OT. Jesus has gone there for us as our eternal High Priest. We are attached to Him, as our anchor, and we must make sure we have a good grip.
Bible Study Notes – Hebrews (The 5 Warning Passages of Hebrews, Warning 4)
WARNING AGAINST TURNING BACK! Hebrews 10:19-39
Heb 10:1 thru 10
Reminder that it was the one sacrifice that was enough. Prior repetitive annual OT sacrifices were not sufficient and only served to remind people of their sins instead of removing them from their conscience. They were not able to take away the guilt of sin.
Psalm 40:6-8…God didn’t want burnt or sin offerings, but required the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Heb 10:11 thru 14
Christ sat down at the right hand of God. The task was accomplished once and for all. Historically people stood to work and sat to rest once a work is completed.
Heb 10:19 thru 25 A Call to Persevere
An appeal to worship God! We are now able to go into the presence of God beyond the veil/curtain into the Most Holy Place. We Jesus as our High Priest.
We enter with the following conditions:
1) sincere/true hearts (Jer 31:33)
2) complete trust and faith in Jesus
3) consciences that have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus to make us clean and free from guilt
4) bodies washed with pure water; baptism; sign of entry into God’s renewed people
Hold tightly w/out wavering to what we believe and affirm as our hope in God and His promises.
Motivate and encourage one another thru love and good works.
Do not neglect our meeting together. Neglecting worship gatherings can lead to contemptuous/disrespectful behavior or deliberate rejection of God. Disobedience is the author’s concern here.
Heb 10:26 thru 29
Appeal to maintain relationship with God knowing that God judges willful disobedience. Do not practice sin. Sin committed after having received the knowledge of the truth brings God’s judgment. This is seen by the author as one who has trampled on the Son of God and treated the shed blood of Christ as if it were common and unholy. Insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit.
Heb 10:32 thru 39
An appeal for believers to persevere!
Remember previous trials and sufferings through which God brought you, as you maintained your hope and expectation of better things to come. Keep your trust in God, remembering His promises and great reward to come.
Patient endurance is what we need!! Trust and obey!
Do not be as those who turn away from God.
Bible Study Notes – Hebrews (The 5 Warning Passages of Hebrews, Warning 5)
WARNING AGAINST REFUSING GOD! Hebrews 12
Hebrews 12:1-3 (READ FROM BIBLE and FROM BOOK)
“Therefore,” as it references back to ch. 11 laying out those great examples of FAITH, these are the examples of our “great cloud of witnesses” who have already endured and completed their “race” and have gone on before us. They are there cheering us on and encouraging us to do what they did and finish the course successfully.
There are 3 things that we must do to run this race successfully:
1) Get rid of heavy weights that slow us down. We all have some baggage. Unforgiveness, anxieties about trivial concerns, resentment, greed, bitterness, basically sin that can be an obstruction, a stumbling block that will trip us up.
2) Run with patience and endurance.
3) Keep our eyes on Jesus. We are to follow His steps.
What Jesus went through and endured should help us in comparison to our own situations help us to not get weary and give up.
Hebrews 12:4-11 Christian Suffering can be God’s Discipline
c.r Proverbs 3:11-12 in verse 5 and 6.
The Lord disciplines those He loves. We are counted as His children and not as illigitimate children, verse 8.
Verse 10 an 11…..this leads to holiness, right living.
Types of discipline:
God has place has placed the responsiblity of disciplining children upon their parents. (Prov 22:15; 23:13; 29:17).
Three Greek words to describe the kinds of discipline:
1) discipline (paideia), to instruct
2) corrects (elegcho), to verbally reprove
3) punishes (mastigoo), to physical discipline
Parents should seek God for guidance on what discipline is necessary given the situation, but generally this is the order that should be followed as a progression, if needed. Always administered with love and care.
Regarding God’s discipline, we must keep in mind that God will not let us continually get away with rebellion and sin. He has ways of alerting His children that we should either pause and think again, turn around and go in the other direction, or simply take time to repent.
c.r Isaiah 35 Strengthen you weary hands and make firm the feeble knees.
We are sort ourselves out, stand up and get on with it. There is no room for spiritual laziness.
Here again is another reference to the warning of not turning back to the ways of the world. There may no longer be an opportunity to fix the heart and mind.
Verse 14 Work at living at peace with everyone!
This must be pursued, chase after it, do all you can to accomplish it!
Hebrew 12:25-29 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to God.
There will be a future shaking with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ that will signal the removal of all that is earthly and temporal. Only heavenly and spiritual realities will remain. Only unshakable things will remain. WE must be unshakeable!!