The authorship of the book of Hebrews is debated. An excellent discussion of the alternatives is contained in this article: http://bible.org/seriespage/hebrews-introduction-argument-and-outline
Their conclusion that it is probable that Barnabas was the primary author and the loquacious Apollos his co-author has the ring of truth to it given a careful study of the text.
The audience is obviously “completed Jews” (former Jews who have accepted Christ as their prophesied messiah) since Verse 1 reads “After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets...”.
Hebrews teaches that the same God Who spoke with power to the Jews has now spoken to them through the same Son “... whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom He created the world.”
[Note: Here and following the text speaks of Jesus, the Created man born of immaculate conception, rather than Christ the eternal member of the Trinity. It is important to understand the distinction because some who reject the concept of the Trinity misunderstand this, and the purpose thereof that the author makes of the distinction, and thus downgrade the entire Person of The Son to a sub-God entity somewhere between God and an angel.]
Hebrews then describes the Created Jesus:
“The Son is the radiance of His [God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - Trinity] glory...”
“The Son is ... the representation of His essence ...”
“... and He sustains all things by His powerful Word (the Word of His power) ...”
“... when He had accomplished cleansing for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ...”
[Note: It has been suggested that this is a rhetorical reference to Psalm 110:1, David’s words reporting a prophesy to be passed from King to King. It’s purpose is a point of reference for Jewish readers, it is not intended to draw a literal equivalence between Jesus and any of the human kings of the OT.]
Introduction: God Has Spoken Fully and Finally in His Son
1:1 After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets,
1:2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.
1:3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
1:4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.
The Son Is Superior to Angels
1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”? And in another place he says, “I will be his father and he will be my son.”
1:6 But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!”
1:7 And he says of the angels, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire,”
1:8 but of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.”
1:10 And, “You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord, and the heavens are the works of your hands.
1:11 They will perish, but you continue. And they will all grow old like a garment,
1:12 and like a robe you will fold them up and like a garment they will be changed, but you are the same and your years will never run out.”
1:13 But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Lord, Your Son is as much part of You as the Holy Spirit and the Father, all are One. May I accept that You are not like us, that You exist outside of created time, and You will be fully known to us only in Heaven.
The author of Hebrews emphasized the continuous linkage from creation to the cross, and beyond; the Christ (the Messiah), the One Who created, and the One to Whom all Christians belong are a singular being.
Hebrews 1:3-7 has been misunderstood by some, out of full context, as describing a being apart from the Lord God. Such an understanding is incorrect. The purpose of the verse is to describe a purpose and a role and not the entirety of a being.
The core purpose of this text was to contrast the Son with the angels. [One may reasonably speculate at this point in the text that there was a doctrinal problem where some were teaching that Jesus, the Christ, was an angel.]
Hebrews 1:8-13 illuminates the verses that precede as it reads “... of the Son he [the Lord God] says, “Your [the Son’s] throne, O God [He is still speaking of the Son]. So, it is the Lord God describing Himself as the “person” of the Trinity Who is the Son.
The object of Hebrews was to more-closely link Jesus the Christ to the common Hebrew knowledge of the Old Testament prophesies and Psalms as a means to cause them to recognize Jesus the Christ as their long-awaited Messiah.
What are some practical ways to assist not-yet-completed Jews, and improperly discipled “Christians” (overloaded with the OT instead of immersed in the NT) to better understand Who Jesus the Christ is in the context of what they know of the OT?
This text clearly declared Jesus, the Created One, The Son, to be an eternal Person of the God-Trinity.
When did you come to a sense of clarity about the Trinity?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who may be blessed by an introductory study of Hebrews.
Today I will invite the person He has appointed to me to walk with me through the next two weeks of daily studies of Hebrews. Or I will make some other arrangement to share with them what I will be learning.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
Warning Against Drifting Away
2:1 Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
2:2 For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty,
2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him,
2:4 while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Exposition of Psalm 8: Jesus and the Destiny of Humanity
2:5 For he did not put the world to come, about which we are speaking, under the control of angels.
2:6 Instead someone testified somewhere:
“What is man that you think of him or the son of man that you care for him?
2:7 You made him lower than the angels for a little while. You crowned him with glory and honor.
2:8 You put all things under his control.”
For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control,
2:9 but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone.
2:10 For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
2:11 For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,
2:12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.”
2:13 Again he says, “I will be confident in him,” and again, “Here I am, with the children God has given me.”
2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil),
2:15 and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.
2:16 For surely his concern is not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham’s descendants.
2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.
2:18 For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
Lord, You poured part of Yourself into Jesus to create a being both acceptable as a human who was sacrificed for all humankind and worthy as a perfect sacrifice (without sin because of His essence as The Son). May I never forget that You humbled Yourself because You so loved us.
The Law required letter-perfect adherence.
“... such a great salvation” is the gift of Christ – making salvation possible for humankind – something we could never have earned.
A right-response to the gift of Christ requires all to “pay closer attention to what we have heard of the gospel-emphasized by “... signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, the Created Son-of-man, Who embodied “The Son” (member of the eternal Trinity) “... was made a little lower than the angels for a little while” so that He might bear our sin upon the Cross and open a path for us to follow.
[Note: Jewish tradition held a high view of angels and exalted their role in many things. The text of Hebrews makes a special effort to emphasize the higher view God placed upon man than even the angels.]
Jesus came for “... the descendants of Abraham”, not for the angels, and He has proclaimed “Here I am, with the children God has given me.”
Chapter two concluded “... since He Himself suffered when he was tempted [tested], He is able to help those who are tempted.
[Note: The better rendering would be “tested”, rather than “tempted”, as the Lord God never tempts nor is He – even in the form of Jesus – tempted. One is tempted only when one faces a test and chooses to listen to the enemy rather than the Lord God.]
The amazing truth that Jesus, the Created Son-of-man, Who embodied “The Son” (member of the eternal Trinity) “... was made a little lower than the angels for a little while” so that He might bear our sin upon the Cross and open a path for us to follow.
What are some practical ways that we may assure that “... such a great salvation” as is the gift of Christ is never be forgotten in our lives and that of our fellowships?
The amazing declaration made by Jesus “Here I am, with the children God has given me.”
When have you observed an example of the Lord God’s blessing because of His promise and provision that “... since He Himself suffered when he was tempted [tested], He is able to help those who are tempted [tested]?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to assist a fellow believer to remember the Gospel.
Today I will encourage and pray so that when the enemy attempts to deceive him or her he will fail. If that fellow believer is already struggling to keep a test from becoming a temptation I will remind them what Jesus has done and the power they have to stand.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
Jesus and Moses
3:1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in a heavenly calling, take note of Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess,
3:2 who is faithful to the one who appointed him, as Moses was also in God’s house.
3:3 For he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself!
3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
3:5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken.
3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. We are of his house, if in fact we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope we take pride in.
Exposition of Psalm 95: Hearing God’s Word in Faith
3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!
3:8 “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness.
3:9 “There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years.
3:10 “Therefore, I became provoked at that generation and said, ‘Their hearts are always wandering and they have not known my ways.’
3:11 “As I swore in my anger, ‘They will never enter my rest!’”
3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God.
3:13 But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception.
3:14 For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end.
3:15 As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
3:16 For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership?
3:17 And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness?
3:18 And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient?
3:19 So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.
Lord, Jesus as an extension of You (in the Person of the Son), built Your Church on Earth and because He guarantees our salvation through His acceptable sacrifice and His divinity we have assurance. May I never doubt that my salvation is secure in Him and never as a result of my works.
Hebrews challenges the reader, especially one from a traditional Jewish background (or one immersed in a retro-OT form of neo-Christianity), to compare and contrast Jesus with Moses.
“Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess ... faithful ... as Moses was also ...”
Jesus “... has come to deserve more glory than Moses ...”
Jesus “... the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself”
“Moses was faithful in all God’s house ... to testify to the things that would be spoken.”
“But Christ is faithful as a Son *over* God’s house. We are of his house.”
A challenge of Hebrews, based on Psalm 95, is that upon hearing the truth one not harden one’s heart against that truth “... sin’s deception ... as in the rebellion” [of Israel] but rather to acknowledge the truth and to act upon it.
Rebellion against the gospel is a rebellion which parallels that of those who provoked God into a forty-year banishment into the wilderness which led to their death. “... they could not enter [the Promised Land] because of unbelief.”
Hebrews 3:12-19 has been misunderstood as teaching that one may lose their salvation, and while technically true, effectively that is not the case. The Word of God allows for only one means by which one may lose salvation, once truly gained, and that is what is being described here (and further clarified Mark 3:28-30). One must go so far as to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit”, meaning to deny the faith – guaranteed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Such an action would appear to be nearly impossible for a truly saved person.
The contrast between Jesus and Moses, while Moses faithfully told of God’s promise, Jesus actually built the “house of promise”. [His “Church” and “... the mansion (in Heaven) prepared for you.”]
Do we have practical ways to help people to see the differences between Moses and Jesus?
The challenge is to surrender everything to the new covenant gift of Jesus.
What example can you use from a workplace or hobby or other modern experience to create a word-picture of the compare-and-contrast explanation of Jesus versus Moses?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to share Hebrews with someone whom you know who is from a traditional Jewish background, or some other OT-centric background.
Today I will pray for the courage and wisdom to share gently and respectfully with the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
God’s Promised Rest
4:1 Therefore we must be wary that, while the promise of entering his rest remains open, none of you may seem to have come short of it.
4:2 For we had good news proclaimed to us just as they did. But the message they heard did them no good, since they did not join in with those who heard it in faith.
4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my anger, ‘They will never enter my rest!’” And yet God’s works were accomplished from the foundation of the world.
4:4 For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works,”
4:5 but to repeat the text cited earlier: “They will never enter my rest!”
4:6 Therefore it remains for some to enter it, yet those to whom it was previously proclaimed did not enter because of disobedience.
4:7 So God again ordains a certain day, “Today,” speaking through David after so long a time, as in the words quoted before, “O, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts.”
4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken afterward about another day. 4:9 Consequently a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God.
4:10 For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works.
4:11 Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.
4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart
4:13 And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
Jesus Our Compassionate High Priest
4:14 Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
4:15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
Lord, we must do more than to confess You with our mouths if we wish to have certain-salvation, we must genuinely surrender to Your Lordship with our hearts. May I be sure to challenge every new believer to know that they have absolutely-surrendered.
While it has generally been said that Hebrews was addressed to Hebrew-believers it may be more-correct to say that it was addressed to those who were among the Hebrew-believers – because this text addresses incomplete-believers “Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.” rather than believers-only.
Disobedience, or rebellion, against the Lordship of God was what got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden.
Disobedience, or rebellion (as reported in the text of Hebrews 3), is what kept the adult (age of accountability) Jews out of the Promised Land.
Disobedience, or rebellion (against the full Lordship of Christ), is the same disqualification which God places upon the admission of anyone to Heaven.
The Jews and Gentiles alike heard from Jesus as He proclaimed the “... good news”, yet it was up to each to “... join in with those who heard it in faith.”
Neither Moses or Joshua brought their people to the “rest” of which God speaks; through David the Lord God said “Today, after so long a time ...” he still desires to bring to them His eternal rest from the works of the law.
“And God rested on the seventh day from all *His* works.” [Emphasis on “His”, added.] - through Jesus the Christ, the Lord God desires that, through faith, we also may rest (a “Sabbath rest) from our fruitless efforts that are works-seeking-righteousness-to-earn-admission-into-Heaven.
“... the Word of God [the Holy Spirit, enlightening and empowering the written Word] is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it [the Word through the Holy Spirit] is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.
“... no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.”
“... we have a great high priest”
“Who has passed through the heavens ...”
“Jesus the son of God”
“... let us hold fast to our confession”
He is not “... incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses”
He “... has been tempted [tested] in every way as we are, yet without sin.”
“... let us confidently approach the throne of grace”
“... to receive mercy and find grace”
“... whenever we need help.”
Jews and Gentiles alike heard from Jesus as He proclaimed the “... good news”, yet it was up to each to “... join-in with those who heard it in faith.” Salvation is volitional.
What are some ways you might explain to a “not-yet-completed Jew”, or someone who has been immersed in neo-Christian OT-centrism, that neither Moses or Joshua brought their people to the “rest” of which God speaks. The Lord God said, through David, “Today, after so long a time ...” that He still desires to bring to them His eternal rest – apart from the works of the law.
One may claim the name of Christ, as in the parable of Jesus some will come saying “Lord, Lord” but He will send them away saying “... I never knew you” - because they never truly surrendered.
When have you observed a practical example of the gospel presented to a varied audience and the obvious choices made by different people to either respond or to reject. What were some of the reasons given for either choice?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a “not-yet-completed Jew”, or someone who has been immersed in neo-Christian OT-centrism, who in either case is trapped in the bondage of works-righteousness.
Today I will share with them the teaching that Jesus brings a “sabbath rest” which frees them from works-righteousness.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
5:1 For every high priest is taken from among the people and appointed to represent them before God, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
5:2 He is able to deal compassionately with those who are ignorant and erring, since he also is subject to weakness,
5:3 and for this reason he is obligated to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.
5:4 And no one assumes this honor on his own initiative, but only when called to it by God, as in fact Aaron was.
5:5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming high priest, but the one who glorified him was God, who said to him, “You are my Son! Today I have fathered you,”
5:6 as also in another place God says, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
5:7 During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion.
5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered.
5:9 And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
5:10 and he was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
The Need to Move on to Maturity
5:11 On this topic we have much to say and it is difficult to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing.
5:12 For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food.
5:13 For everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced in the message of righteousness, because he is an infant.
5:14 But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.
Lord, the Son is eternal and Lord God, Jesus the Christ born of the virgin (Mary) – as promised when the curse of the Fall was declared – and prophesied prior to His arrival. May I recognize and worship the sacrifice of the Son to humble Himself to provide salvation for humankind.
The historic practice of OT priests was that, like Aaron, they were called from among the people (the Tribe of Levites) and “appointed” to make sacrifices for others and themselves - because they were no more perfect than those whom they served.
Jesus the Christ, the “begotten” son of God, “... did not glorify himself ... the one who glorified him was God”.
During the days of his life in the flesh “Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion.”
“Although he was a son he learned obedience through the things he suffered.”
“And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, and he was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
[Note: Psalm 110:4 refers to Melchizedek and the NET Bible translator’s notes explain that “... the order of Melchizedek was a combination of king and priest which was superior in hierarchy to the Aaronic priesthood. The general geographical location from which Melchizedek came at the time of his interaction with Abraham is found in Genesis 13:18 as Abraham came from his home in Hebron - where he had last set his tents - to rescue Lot and returned there to be greeted and blessed by Melchizedek “king of Salem” Gen. 14:18-20. The NET translator’s notes suggest that Melchizedek may have been from “... the Jebusite stronghold of Jerusalem ... a Canaanite royal priest whom God used to renew the promise of His blessing to Abram ...”]
[Note: The key here is that Melchizedek’s role was one of spiritual and kingly authority - sent by God to affirm a promise of God. The role of Jesus is the same - He brings spiritual authority for salvation from God, He brings kingly authority over our earthly existence, also from God, and He is the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption.]
The important message is that all authority and purpose, for Christians, comes from the Lord God and no other source.
How would you help members of your fellowship better understand that Jesus brings spiritual authority for salvation from God, kingly authority over our earthly existence, also from God, and He is the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption?
Hebrews links the OT history to the new in order to draw not-yet-completed Jews, and those immersed in neo-Christian OT teachings, to the inevitable conclusions of the Gospel.
When have you learned obedience through the things you suffered, even as you offered both requests and supplications to God with loud cries and tears, living-out the model of Jesus?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an area where He wants you to reconsider the level of your devotion in allowing Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, to be your daily authority in both physical and spiritual matters.
Today I will offer up my requests and supplications to God with loud cries and tears and stand ready to learn and to mature, no matter what.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
6:1 Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God,
6:2 teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
6:3 And this is what we intend to do, if God permits.
6:4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
6:5 tasted the good word of God and the miracles of the coming age,
6:6 and then have committed apostasy, to renew them again to repentance, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again and holding him up to contempt.
6:7 For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God.
6:8 But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is useless and about to be cursed; its fate is to be burned.
6:9 But in your case, dear friends, even though we speak like this, we are convinced of better things relating to salvation.
6:10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints.
6:11 But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end,
6:12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises.
6:13 Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself,
6:14 saying, “Surely I will bless you greatly and multiply your descendants abundantly.”
6:15 And so by persevering, Abraham inherited the promise.
6:16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and the oath serves as a confirmation to end all dispute.
6:17 In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath,
6:18 so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie.
6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain,
6:20 where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Lord, You teach us the essentials of Your Gospel so as to lead us to salvation, then you expect us to trust You and move-ahead to maturity and service. May I challenge fellow believers to never look back, rather pressing-ahead, never doubting what is the foundation of our faith.
The author of Hebrews challenged believers to mature, that it was not useful to revisit “... the elementary instructions about Christ”.
Anyone who was still questioning such teachings was either unsaved or very immature – definitely not appropriate for leadership.
Hebrews warned that “... it is impossible in the case of ... (those who) ... have committed apostasy, to renew them again to repentance, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again and holding him up to contempt.”
[Note: Beginning at the conclusion of this argument, the text appears to say that one who denies the finality of forgiveness (and of salvation by faith, not works) also denies ones own salvation, since the consequence of such a philosophy would be the need for Christ to be as an OT sacrifice - only a temporary covering for each specific event of sin.]
The elements of their experience with Christ which they had rejected included:
“... once have been enlightened” [Heard the gospel.]
“... tasted the heavenly gift” [Been in the presence of Jesus through His Holy Spirit.]
“... become partakers of the Holy Spirit” [Observed the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, observed the miraculous “signs and wonders”, experienced the exceptional love among the truly saved who were submitted to and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, may even have themselves been “touched” by the power of the Holy Spirit - as was the experience of the OT saints whom the Holy Spirit touched on occasion.]
“... tasted the good Word of God” [Were among those who participating in discipleship, even though they were not themselves truly saved.]
“... and the miracles of the coming age” [Observed the salvation of others and the prophesies unfolding.]
[Note: The reason why the fallen angels cannot be saved is that they were in the presence of the Lord God, they had full-knowledge, and still rebelled.]
Hebrews is quick to remind the faithful that the promise of God is secure, yet it encourages them to be equally passionate with those who brought them the “... good Word of God” and who discipled them and to “... not be sluggish”.
Hebrews reminded Jewish readers that “... when God made His promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, he swore by Himself ... the oath serves as a confirmation ... His promise was unchangeable ... we have found refuge in Him ... since it is impossible for God to lie.”
Chapter 6 concluded “We have had this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since He became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
“... when God made His promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, he swore by Himself ... the oath serves as a confirmation ... His promise was unchangeable ... we have found refuge in Him ... since it is impossible for God to lie.”
How might your fellowship do a more-effective job of moving believers decisively-past “... the elementary instructions about Christ” and on to greater maturity and service?
The text of Hebrews appears to say that without the finality of forgiveness and imparted-righteousness Christ must be only an OT sacrifice, a temporary covering for a specific sins, over and over again.
When have you observed believers who have become so “sluggish” in their faith such that they required the teaching of the most elementary principles of the gospel over and over and never seemed to mature? What was the solution, and if none was applied, what was the result?
Ask the Holy Spirit to review your spiritual maturity and to reveal any place where you may have grown “sluggish”.
Today I will partner with a fellow believer in prayer and action in order to to move toward maturity and away from any uncertainty about the “... elementary instructions about Christ” as described in Hebrews 6.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
The Nature of Melchizedek’s Priesthood
7:1 Now this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him.
7:2 To him also Abraham apportioned a tithe of everything. His name first means king of righteousness, then king of Salem, that is, king of peace.
7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, he has neither beginning of days nor end of life but is like the son of God, and he remains a priest for all time.
7:4 But see how great he must be, if Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of his plunder.
7:5 And those of the sons of Levi who receive the priestly office have authorization according to the law to collect a tithe from the people, that is, from their fellow countrymen, although they too are descendants of Abraham.
7:6 But Melchizedek who does not share their ancestry collected a tithe from Abraham and blessed the one who possessed the promise.
7:7 Now without dispute the inferior is blessed by the superior,
7:8 and in one case tithes are received by mortal men, while in the other by him who is affirmed to be alive.
7:9 And it could be said that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid a tithe through Abraham.
7:10 For he was still in his ancestor Abraham’s loins when Melchizedek met him.
Jesus and the Priesthood of Melchizedek
7:11 So if perfection had in fact been possible through the Levitical priesthood – for on that basis the people received the law – what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in Aaron’s order?
7:12 For when the priesthood changes, a change in the law must come as well.
7:13 Yet the one these things are spoken about belongs to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever officiated at the altar.
7:14 For it is clear that our Lord is descended from Judah, yet Moses said nothing about priests in connection with that tribe.
7:15 And this is even clearer if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
7:16 who has become a priest not by a legal regulation about physical descent but by the power of an indestructible life.
7:17 For here is the testimony about him: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
7:18 On the one hand a former command is set aside because it is weak and useless,
7:19 for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
7:20 And since this was not done without a sworn affirmation – for the others have become priests without a sworn affirmation,
7:21 but Jesus did so with a sworn affirmation by the one who said to him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever’” –
7:22 accordingly Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
7:23 And the others who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them from continuing in office,
7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever.
7:25 So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
7:26 For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
7:27 He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all.
7:28 For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever.
Lord, You have replaced the covenant of law with a covenant of love – an intimate and eternal relationship with surrendered-humankind through Jesus. May I never forget from what I have been set free and to whom I am love-bound to be gratefully-surrendered.
Hebrews revisits the matter of Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek, a man “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, he has neither beginning of days nor end of life but is like the son of God ...”, adding that one only pays a tithe to one who is greater.
[Note: The Bible sometimes uses phrases such as “is like” to mean “is”, perhaps an anomaly of the translation process. In this case it seems that Melchizedek is a case of Jesus, outside of the constraints of time – as He is the embodiment of God - appearing in the Old Testament.)
The One “like Melchizedek” Who came, Jesus the Christ, was not of the Aaronic line but was a high priest.
The law was set aside “... because it is weak and useless, for the law made nothing perfect.”
Jesus has the power from God to make one perfect, Jesus never dies, therefore Jesus can save us completely whereas the old priests provided temporary refuge and were themselves subject to death.
“... the Word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever.”
[Note: The “solemn affirmation” was from the Lord God “You are a priest forever ...”.]
There is a clear contrast between the law, which illustrates sin and illuminates our need for Christ but cannot make us perfect (therefore, cannot save us eternally) and the gift of Christ which is the power to make perfect and therefore to save.
What are some practical ways to illustrate the differences between the purpose of the law and the purpose of grace?
It is the eternal-essence of Jesus the Christ that which makes Him the son of God and an eternal member of the Triune Godhead.
When have you observed an example of the confusion created when a pastor or a teacher, or someone else, claims Biblical authority or wisdom but then confuses the purpose of the law and grace? What was the result?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone with whom you already have a respect/trust relationship but who is confused about law and grace and to give you an opportunity to share this chapter of Hebrews with them
Today I am committing to pray for humility and patience and I agree to pray fervently that the one who needs clarity will see and respond wisely to the light of this Word.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – Section 1 of 2 the series, “Hebrews” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in April of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.