The entire theme of the epistle is built
around the word "better", which is used in a series of comparisons to show
how God's revelation in Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) is superior to the
revelation that came through the law, especially as the law was applied
through the Levitical priesthood. The revelation quality and validity of the
law for it's own time is not denied at all; on the other hand, much of the
argument of Hebrews is founded in the Tenach. The new revelation has
superseded the old, the coming of the new has made the old its subject.
As Messianic Jewish (Hebrew Christian)
believers we are drawn in obedience to Yeshua and the New Covenant. We must
distinguish between the new path that we are commanded to, and the old one.
The Apostle Paul himself understood that unwillingness to obey the new
revelation would be fatal to spiritual progress. It is only through the
teachings of "God's unmerited love" or "grace" that we are freed from the
burden of sin and guilt. It is also only through His grace that we are
enabled to love one another (both Jew and Gentile in Messiah). Only with
this foundation of grace are we enabled to worship the Lord in our Jewish
custom without stumbling in our own self sufficiency.
(Please note: this particular
study is not meant to slight non-Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua.
It's historical context was a message of exhortation to Messianic Jewish
brethren within the Body of Messiah. With the inclusion in this study of the
books of Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, a beautiful picture of God's plan
of redemption for "all mankind" is revealed.)
I. The Better Messenger: The
Son (Hebrews 1:1-2:18)
2. The Better Apostle
3. The Better Priest (Hebrews
4. The Better Covenant
5. The Better Sacrifice
6. The Better Way: Faith
(Hebrews 10: 32-12:29)
7. The Conclusion: The
Practice of Faith (Hebrews 13:1-25)
The Book of Hebrews was intended to
encourage Messianic Jews (Hebrew Christians) living in the Diaspora
who were tempted to abandon their faith because of the pressure of
persecution and because of their attachment to the older revelation of
the law. The writer, who is thought to be either Paul or Barnabas,
showed them that the same God who delivered the law to Moses by the
hand of angels has since spoken historically in His Son, who was made
temporarily lower than the angels in order that He might enter
perfectly into the sphere of human life as a participant in it (2:9,
10, 14-18). Because He is both divine and human.
He is qualified to serve as the high
priest, in which capacity He is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.
Death cannot terminate His tenure (7:24), and His sphere of service is
in the heavenly sanctuary, the very presence of God (9:11-12).
Furthermore, the sacrifice that He offers does not need to be
repeated. He Himself is the offering as well as the priest, completely
acceptable to God. The eternal salvation which He has thus purchased
is attainable by faith, the same kind that was exercised by the men of
the Old Covenant, who were the spiritual leaders of their generation.
This faith applied under the conditions in which the believers were
living, would bring them assurance, endurance, and the ultimate
entrance into the unshaken kingdom.
Progressive warning may
be found in the list of perils besetting the believers. The list of
neglect, or drifting
away from the true faith (2:1-4)
the peril of
the peril of
the peril of
the peril of
rejection of faith(10:19-31)
the peril of refusal
Parallels with the
warning which appear periodically in the text are exhortations to add
a positive quality to the argument:
Let us fear (4:1)
Let us therefore
give diligence to enter (4:11)
Let us hold fast our
Let us draw
near...to the throne of grace (4:16)
Let us press on to
Let us hold fast the
confession of our faith (10:22)
Let us consider one
Let us lay aside
every weight (12:1)
Let us run the race
Let us have grace
Let us therefore go
forth unto him (13:13)
Let us offer up
sacrifice of praise (13:15)
The greatest single value of the book
of Hebrews is it's teaching on the present ministry and priesthood of
Messiah Yeshua. There are many references in the New Covenant
scriptures, but none explains what He is now doing, except the books
of Hebrews and Romans.
Doctrinally the book of Hebrews accords
with the Pauline epistles. Its theme is of salvation by faith in the
atoning sacrifice of Yeshua. By its warnings and exhortations it seeks
to show what faith is, how it functions and what results it achieves.
The book of Hebrews along with Romans and Galations forms a trilogy
explaining the heart and essence of the believer's walk of faith.
(This study has been adapted from "New
Testament Survey", by Merrill C. Tenney, Wheaton College, Wheaton,
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