Overview of Hebrews for New Testament Reading
Christ is the path to salvation for all mankind and is superior to any other form of religion. This is the message that the author of Hebrews relates to his recipients who are urged to continue in their profession of the living Savior (Heb. 3:6, 14). The audience no doubt has ties to Judaism and need reminders so that they won’t slip back into inferior religious forms that may take them away from genuine faith resulting in salvation. In the book there are many references to falling away, or drifting in apostasy, which is a warning for us as well today (Heb. 2:1; 3:8-12; 4:11; 6:4-6; 10:23-30, 38-39). The author by many is supposed to be the Apostle Paul, but many scholars have disagreed both now and in the past. Other considerations for authorship include Luke, Apollos, or possibly Clement of Rome. None of this should take anything away from the inspiration of the letter directed by God’s Holy Spirit. The letter was written presumably before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, but no definitely time line is available.
Superiority of Christ- Christ is the exalted ruler over all things and is the exact representation of the divine nature of God. He is more excellent and powerful by the word of His power. He is superior to Moses, Joshua, the prophets and the angels. He is the propitiation for sins.
Christ as High Priest- Christ Jesus is the ultimate High Priest who gives us rest and favor with God the Father. He was tempted in all ways as we are, but He triumphed over sin and has become our mediator with God. He institutes the new covenant in His blood.
Covenants- The author develops the idea that Christ has superseded the failed covenants of the past and has inaugurated a lasting covenant that will stand the test of time with complete forgiveness of sins.
Faith- Faith is extolled as the means of salvation both in the time before Christ and after. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
4:l-13 Greater Than Joshua
· 11:8-38 The Activities of Faith
· The Faith of Abraham and Sarah (11:8-19)
· The Faith of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph (11:20-22)
· The Faith of Moses and the Israelites (11:23-29)
· Faith Exhibited at Jericho (11:30-31)
Hebrews 1:1-3 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
*Notes from this overview were aided by:
Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd edition, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN: 2003, pgs. 449-457.
HEBREWS (IVP New Testament Commentary Series) by Ray C. Stedman. (c) 1992 by Ray C. Stedman. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P. O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, sorted in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise without prior permission from InterVarsity Press.
-Hebrews begins with the fact that God is involved in His creation and has spoken to us “at many times” and “in many ways” to the patriarchs by the prophets. However, something even greater and more supreme has occurred in God’s interaction with mankind now in these last days. Now He has spoken to us by His Son, “whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint (charactar, representation, image, expression) of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:1-3a).” Christ has made the purification for sins at this point on the cross, and has “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high having become superior to angels as the Name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs (Hebrews 1:3b-4).” *Application* This is Divinity language as the author tells us who Jesus Christ really is. This demands our allegiance as we reflect on His superior nature that is truly God. Christ Jesus is Lord!
-The rest of the chapter basically uses Old Testament quotes to prove Christ’s superiority to the angels, which seems to be a concern that needs to be addressed in the early stages of this oddly formed letter (there is no salutation, but there is a conclusion with greetings). Points to consider from the quotes: Jesus is called God’s Son and begotten (Hebrews 1:5), Jesus is to be worshiped (Hebrews 1:6), Jesus is the Creator and sustainer of the angels (Hebrews 1:7), Jesus’ throne is forever in His Kingdom of righteousness beyond all His companions (Hebrews 1:8-9), Jesus laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning and the heavens are the works of His hands (Hebrews 1:10), Jesus will remain even though the earth will wear out (Hebrews 1:11-12), Jesus will sit at the Father’s right hand until all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 1:13). *Application* God’s glory has been revealed to us by His Son. Jesus commands our complete obedience and loyalty. He is our only hope for salvation. Trust in His power to overcome all things on this earth and into eternity!
-The angels are sent out under the power and authority of God as ministering spirits to serve those who are inheriting salvation (Hebrews 1:14). *Application* It is nice to realize the help that we have on this earth by way of God’s Holy Spirit that indwells and teaches us all things and His angels that He gives charge over us for protection and help in this natural world. When we meditate on these things, we see that the supernatural is all around us and in us for our benefit. God truly does care about His children! We are so blessed! Give God thanks and glory for all His benefits!
Verses to Memorize- Hebrews 1:1-4