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Mini-Commentary on the Book of Hebrews

What I want to do in this short article is talk a little bit about the book of Hebrews from the New Testament. So this will be a mini-commentary on the book of Hebrews just trying to get to the sticky bits. This will by no means be a comprehensive commentary of the book. It is just to highlight what I got out of it in this reading.


Hebrews 1:10-11 "In the beginning, Lord, you established the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain. They will all wear out like clothing;"


This verse, quoted from Psalms 102:25-28:


Psalm 102:25-28 "Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you."


This seems to be the heartbeat of the book of Hebrews. It all has to do with the fact that Christ is supreme. He breaks the old covenant to make a new and better one in its place.


Hebrews 1:13 "Now to which of the angels has he ever said: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool?"


I am flagging this verse because it seems clear this could be used as a very good apologetic against Jehovah's Witness people.


Hebrews 2:1, 3-4 "For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away... it was confirmed to us by those who heard him. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will."


This means it is possible even for an apostle to fall away from the faith. It also means one of the ways to "test" whether a person is especially "called" for the work of Christ as an apostle or prophet and even perhaps an evangelist that signs and wonders will follow them in their work of faith.


Hebrews 2:10-11, 17 "For in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—for whom and through whom all things exist—should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people."


And the author further elucidates that those who are called will suffer in the same way Jesus was said to endure hardships. For if it was Christ who suffered most, then it is also the case that we will suffer as well...


Hebrews 3:3-6, 14 "For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast. For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start."


But lest we become prideful and think we can do it without effort, the author warns us,


Hebrews 3:19 "They were unable to enter [the promise land] because of unbelief."


This leads me to this...


It seems this parallelism to the Old Testament that the author uses is to show us all manner of things relating to the new and better covenant. Notice also that the author says that we have yet to enter into the promise land. It is an already/not yet thing. For the author says,


Hebrews 4:9 "Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people."


What this is talking about is the blessed hope: Christ's return to the earth. There is a deposit of the Holy Spirit now until Christ returns. But that day has not arrived yet. There remains time for those to be gathered into the household of God.


Therefore,


Hebrews 4:11 "Let us, then, make every effort to enter that rest,"


Because Christ is just like us, it says,


Hebrews 5:2 "He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness."


But let us not forget that it is God who calls and He calls with a holy calling.


Hebrews 5:4-5 "No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but God"


Therefore, if you feel especially called, you must show yourself approved by your authority figures.


And there does seem to be the idea that these "called ones" must necessarily know about this "message of righteousness, whose Senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil," (Hebrews 5:13-14).


Rather, the called person knows to repent of "dead works" or that which is unfruitful. For if you have all discernment, but do not do the right thing, then you are crucifying again the Son of God (Hebrews 6:1-8). This really opened my eyes in a big way. It is not that we always do wrong continually. Rather, those who are approved will be fruitful and full of good works from the heart. For it says,


Hebrews 6:11-12 "Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of your hope until the end, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance."


So just because God has worked powerfully in your life is no guarantee that you will not fall away from the faith--even as one especially called.


However,


Hebrews 6:17 "God wanted to show his unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, he guaranteed it with an oath"


So that leaves us with the idea that God will continue to demonstrate His power through these chosen ones. It is promised to them. For God cannot swear by anything except Himself because a person always swears by something greater than themselves. But there is nothing greater than God. So He swears by Himself that he will continue to be with these called ones to give them assurance of their task at hand--as long as they do not harden their hearts.


So remember,


Hebrews 7:7 "Without a doubt, the inferior is blessed by the superior."


That is, the layperson is blessed by the priest in the same way the called are blessed by the High Priest, which is Christ.


And Christ is always there to bless us as it is written,


Hebrews 7:24-25 "[H]e remains forever, He holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them."


But given Christ is a High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, since He exists without beginning or end, let us remember,


Hebrews 8:7, 13 "[I]f that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one. By saying a new covenant, he has declared that the first is obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old is about to pass away."


Hebrews 9:1, 9-12, 15 "Now the first covenant also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary. This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper’s conscience. They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of the new order. But Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), he entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Therefore, he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves to be purified with better sacrifices than these." Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year."


But what does all this mean?


Hebrews 9:22 "According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."


So, these called ones who were before us,


Hebrews 11:39-40 "[W]ere approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us."


Therefore,


Hebrews 12:1-2 "[L]et us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?"


They are the ones,


Hebrews 12:23-24 "[W]hose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel."


And lastly, just a minor thing, but...


Hebrews 13:23-25 "Be aware that our brother Timothy has been released. If he comes soon enough, he will be with me when I see you. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who are from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with you all."


Timothy and the author of the letter (presumably) were in prison in Rome for a time. This is interesting because it may point to Paul being the author of Hebrews or that the letter was translated by Silas (Silvanus) or it could have been written by Silas himself. I can only speculate why Timothy was released before the author of the letter, but it could be because he was said to be a very reserved person so as not to cause a ruckus in prison. Of course, it could have been a different time when Timothy was in prison in Rome. We don't know for sure.


That's it for this one!


God bless you! Until next time!

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