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Bible verses about Hebrews, Book of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Clearly, Hebrews is written to a group of Christians who were older in the faith. It is possible that this was written to those living in the Jerusalem area. It was certainly written to people who were familiar with Judaism and with the activities of the Tabernacle and the Temple. The author's audience knew all about the priests and what their responsibilities were, and above all, they knew about the High Priest and his responsibilities.

These Hebrews had been in the faith apparently for quite a long time. Looking back from this point of history to the time when the book of Hebrews was written (about AD 63 or 64), we can see that they were only about six years away from an end—the destruction of the Temple.

One reason why this book was written is that their faith was wearing away. They were facing a time in which they needed faith more than at any other time in their lives, as they were going to witness virtually the end of civilization in the Jerusalem area. Once the Temple was destroyed, Judaism was nearly destroyed, and almost the whole reason for the Jews' being disappeared with it because their lives revolved around the Temple. They looked to it as the source of their strength because they felt that God resided in it. Therefore, God was in their midst.

When the book was written, they did not know how close it was, but surely God inspired it because it was so close. He gave Paul enough of a feeling of urgency that he was inspired to write it. Hebrews is without doubt the most urgent book in the New Testament, and arguably, it contains the strongest admonitions and exhortations in the entire Bible.

What was wrong with the Hebrews? Paul tells us as soon as the second chapter: Do not "neglect so great a salvation." Christianity had become old to them. They were hedging their bets.

Paul refers back to times when they suffered the spoiling of their goods, the taking of their property, the losing of their jobs, with great zeal. Society pressured them to go back to Judaism, but they had not. The time had come when that enthusiasm, that zeal, that joy of being a part of Christianity had slipped away because they were neglecting their salvation.

Are we any different than first-century Christians? Can we neglect it? Can we be hedging our bets? Has the return of Christ been so delayed in our minds that we are not sure any more. When this happens, we often become "prudent" in living this way of life, rather than faithful.

The method the apostle Paul uses within the book is to give a series of comparisons to show that what they have is so much better than anything that anybody else has been given that there is no comparison. He begins by glorifying Christ and showing that He is the express image of the Father's person. He says that Christ is greater than angels because Christ receives their worship.

Then, in chapter 2, he shows how great the salvation is: We will inherit all things, quoting Psalm 8. All of God's creation will be inherited by the sons of God because of the work of Jesus Christ. He goes on to compare Moses to Christ, and Moses is only a servant. Christ is the builder of the house.

He then compares Christ to Aaron, the New Covenant to the Old, the Levitical priesthood to Christ's, and so on. His argument through the whole epistle is that nobody has ever been given anything better than what God has given us. There is no greater hope. There can be no greater reason for living. There is nothing that mankind has ever heard that even begins to come close to the gospel of the Kingdom of God. What good reason do we have to neglect it?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic


 

The book of Hebrews was written to a group of "older in the faith" Christians in an unnamed location. Looking back on them from our perspective, we can see that they were only about six years from the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Jewish way of life in their homeland. An end was immediately before them.

They could not see it clearly then, of course, and besides that, they had a spiritual problem that motivated the writing of the epistle. The problem resided in their heart. They were not guilty of any grievous sin; in fact, the word "sin" appears only three times in the book's thirteen chapters. Yet, though not guilty of sin, they were losing their grip on their faith, which perhaps was even worse in the long run.

They were rapidly becoming weary in well-doing. The reason for this is that, when troubles increasingly bombard a person, human nature has a powerful tendency to become apathetic. In other words, when there is no apparent solution, an individual simply lies down and gives up, saying "What is the use?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope


 

Hebrews' theme is actually quite simple. It presents the superiority of Jesus Christ and the message He brought to mankind - the gospel of the Kingdom of God containing the New Covenant - to anything, any message, any person, any way of life. However, it reflects most directly on what the Old Testament records regarding Israel and the covenant its people made with God at Mount Sinai. It focuses on the Old Covenant because it was itself superior to what any other nation had until the New Covenant was first offered to those whom God is calling. No other message, then, can even begin to compare.

The outline is simple too. The first two chapters are mostly introductory, but even here the language is soaring and majestic in what it proposes. It sets the stage by showing Christ as God's Son, seated at the right hand of the Father, superior to angels and Old Testament prophets. Through Him God has spoken.

Chapter 2 briefly considers what man is now compared to and what he will become through Jesus Christ. Chapter 3 introduces Christ's mission as an apostle to the church, superior even to the great Moses. Toward the end of the chapter, Paul urges us to remember, by way of contrast, the unfaithfulness of Israel under Moses. In chapter 4, he presents Christ as superior to Joshua, who brought Israel into the Promised Land, for despite Joshua's personal greatness as a leader, Israel failed to attain to the rest of God.

Chapter 5 begins the single largest block of chapters devoted to one subject in the epistle, showing why the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to the Aaronic and Levitical administration. This subject is of such importance that it occupies almost six chapters, finally ending in Hebrews 10:18. From that point to the end is the book's second longest section, containing exhortations to practical application of the teaching.

Hebrews arguably contains the most powerful exhortations in the entire Bible. Why? Because so much is on the line, a Christian can lose it all if he is unwilling to pay the price! The epistle exhorts through careful reasoning and by using vivid illustrations and examples. It also contains dire warnings but shows that help is available too. It is devoted to the practical application of this tremendously compact bundle of historical comparisons, pointed doctrinal instruction, and inspiration.

The book's time setting appears to be AD 62-66, just half a decade or so from the Roman invasion of Jerusalem under Titus and the destruction of the Temple. This invasion virtually brought to an end the Jewish nation and way of life in Palestine. The historical material, drawn from Israel's past, plus the long focus on the Aaronic priesthood and Levitical ritual informs us that the epistle is addressed to Jews familiar with their nation's history, theological establishment, and workings.

The form of writing is doctrinal, frequently interspersed with brief and stirring exhortations. This form of writing was prompted by the fact that these particular Hebrews had drifted into a lackadaisical way of life, having grown weary of resisting the constant pressures from the degenerate world around them. Their faith and perseverance were breaking down, and their general attitude and character were deteriorating right along with their loss of faith (Hebrews 10:36 - 11:1).

This neglectful deterioration is my concern. It is easy just to drift along with the ever-present pressures of this world. These pressures will neither lessen nor go away. Like the Hebrews of Paul's day, we have the responsibility to choose, in an "end of the age" circumstance, which way we will go. God's solution to this sort of deterioration is found in the book of Hebrews, but understanding it requires focused attention.

It is organized in the manner of Paul's other epistles. The first part lays a doctrinal foundation, usually drawn from the Old Testament. The last part contains practical applications of those doctrines. Hebrews compares favorably with Romans and Ephesians in this format: Romans 1 - 11 are doctrinal, while chapters 12 - 16 contain practical applications; Ephesians 1 - 3 are doctrinal, while chapters 4 - 6 contain practical applications.

We lack the familiarity with and reverential feeling for the Temple and Tabernacle that the Israelites had. Nonetheless, we have an advantage over them, but only if we use it. We can understand to a far greater degree the spiritual truths contained within what was for them only the faint shadows of symbolism.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy


 

In the book of Hebrews, the apostle shows the overriding reasons why we can have hope for salvation. It is because we have access to God through a great High Priest who is living, able, and wants to help. This is in contrast to the high priest of Judaism, who was subject to the same problems as the people that he was supposed to be helping and who could only administer death.

In addition, there was a ritualistic sacrificial system that was symbolic—one that could not forgive sin or justify the sinner—and a covenant that contained no spiritual promises or hope. We have a better covenant, one with better promises: justification through the blood of Chris and hope because He has already "made it" and sits at God's right hand. He administers the Spirit of God, and thus He is able to give us strength and life.

A key word that needs to be in mind whenever we start studying the book of Hebrews is "better." It could also be "superior" or "greater." All three can be used, because they indicate a comparison between what we have been given (either from the world or even the religion of Judaism) with some other thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

Luke 21:34-36  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Surfeiting" (KJV) or "carousing" (NKJV) means indulging in one's appetites excessively. It could be food or drink or many other things. This world, especially in its advertizing, is pushing the overuse of our appetites all the time. We cannot turn on the television without them pushing automobiles, foods, toys, jewelry, drugs, insurance, appliances, travel, housewares, clothing, tools, movies, and other television programs. Advertizers are constantly and repetitiously urging us, "Do this." "Try this." "Use your time this way." We can feel pressured, "under the gun," stressed from resisting their products, their way of life, and their attitudes.

This is the issue in the book of Hebrews. The people to whom the book was written had not given into immorality, but the author knew that sooner or later the stress of resisting would get to them. Because of the constant pressure to conform to this world, they were becoming apathetic, and apathetic people are in a kind of stupor, blind to the reality of their spiritual condition. And what is the end result? Jesus said what happens is that we forget when we are living—and the day comes upon us unawares.

The thrust of Jesus' exhortation is that we should be continually expecting His return; it should always be a major part of our focus. The exhortations in Hebrews are for us to return our focus to the return of Jesus Christ and prepare ourselves for what is coming in that troubled time. We should not be allowing this world to hammer away at our minds and attitudes—taking up our lives, our time, with things that should not be our concern.

Do we need some of the things that the world hits us with? Yes, we have to live. However, we need to have enough spiritual understanding not to let them wear away at us until they become a major part of our lives. Thus, Jesus is warning us not to allow ourselves to become secure and self-satisfied with this life and the good things that it furnishes—but to jolt ourselves spirituallty awake!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

Hebrews 3:2-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ is greater, better, superior to Moses! Whoever the author of the book of Hebrews was, he handled this very delicately. He could have caused offense by seemingly putting Moses down, as Moses was held in high regard by the Jews. Yet, he was able to get across the fact that here was One greater than Moses in such a way that he showed that Moses, indeed, was faithful. However, he was faithful as a servant within the house of which Jesus Christ is the Builder.

Notice the word "confidence" in Hebrews 3:6. In Hebrews 4:16, the exact same word is translated as "boldness" These Hebrews were no longer rejoicing, nor were they bold. Their apathy had them just lying there, taking life in. They were observers, not doers, neglecting what had been given to them. Thus, the exhortation to be bold and confident in overcoming and growing, and to rejoice in the greatness of the message that has been given.

We could not have received a greater message than the one that we have been given. It is just not possible to hear any news greater than what God is preparing for His children.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

Hebrews 10:33-35  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the past these people had been deeply convicted, but because they were not doing the things necessary for maintaining and building a relationship with God, they lost what they had. Part of the reason Hebrews is in the Bible is to remind Christians what can happen to someone who does not maintain his part of the relationship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses


 

Hebrews 12:4-11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Hebrews was written to a group of people who were fading away in their walk toward salvation. They were going through some pretty difficult trials, but they were not facing up to them. The underlying theme here is chastening. Many modern translations will use the word "discipline," and technically, it is closer in meaning to the Greek word.

Discipline covers formal instruction, but it also includes drill. Drill is associated with learning something repetitively—over and over again till we get it.

Discipline also includes punishment: spanking, rebuke, stern correction. Paul is saying that the sons of God should expect correction and rebuke. God has a way of starting off easy, but the punishment, the rebuke, the discipline become more stern as we fail to respond until He finally gets our attention. This could go so far as the Tribulation.

God's discipline is always corrective. He is not a sadist; He does not discipline for the fun of it. He disciplines us because we need to be turned in another direction. He is removing impediments to our spiritual development, so we do not need to become discouraged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

Hebrews 12:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God Himself is educating His children. The people to whom Hebrews was written had a history of making light of His working with them, and the result was that they neglected it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

 




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