Though this book was written to the Hebrews to deal with a specific problem, it is for the church of all ages to establish the proper doctrine of Christ.
The Hebrew people were known as and generally addressed as Jews because they lived in Judea, not because they were of the tribe of Judah. They were very familiar with their Scripture, known today as the Old Testament. Though they clearly held it as the inspired Word of God, particularly the law of Moses, it had been corrupted by idolatry, which resulted in Israel and Judah being removed from the land.
They returned and settled in Judea, rebuilt the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. They became known generally as Jews because they lived in Judea. The Hebrews of the day were very familiar with their Scripture, known today as the Old Testament. Though they clearly held the Law, Prophets and the Psalms as the inspired Word of God, it had been corrupted by many traditions of the elders.
Hebrews was written to the Hebrews, the seed of Abraham. Hebrews uses particularly the Law to prove that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all that the Hebrew prophets spoke about.
As we will see, this book overflows with Old Testament passages to prove to the Hebrews from their own Scriptures the superiority of the Son of God. It proves that he is superior over the old Jewish rites and rituals of the Temple and synagogues that were drawing many converts back into that web.
It was written while Herods glorious Temple was still standing. That Temple was beautiful beyond description, even more beautiful than Solomon's Temple. When the new Hebrew converts compared their small home churches with the beautiful Temple where the Worship of God was supposed to take place, they were being drawn back to that method of worship.
Jerusalem was at the crossroads of two continents. Asia and Africa, and all trade went through that city. In Gods providence, he saw that the gospel would be introduced at the center of world trade of that day, Jerusalem. We know from what happened on the day of Pentecost that the Gospel spread world wide within an amazingly short time.
Jerusalem was under the control of Rome, and the Jews were a tumultuous people. They were always creating problems for Rome as they sought to be free from any outside domination, and they expected the Promised Messiah to bring that freedom. So Rome had built this beautiful temple in order to keep the people quiet. It did not work. The revolt of the Jews against Rome started in 66 A.D, a short time after the Great Temple was finished.
An important point as we start in Hebrews is that when the word God is used in Scripture it means God the Father, God the Son and/or God the Spirit. These three are one, and the names are interchangeable. All three are represented in the person of Jesus Christ, yet they are separate, which is the unknowable mystery of the Trinity.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son
is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, (The Spirit) The mighty
God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
God in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ, as well as God the Father and God the Spirit. All three are spoken of interchangeably as having equal power and authority.
Jude (1:4) tells us that there are ungodly men who were ordained from the foundation of the world to make attempts to delete 1 John 5:7 from the Christian Bible, for they do not want to confess that Jesus Christ is God. Hebrews will make the Godhood of Jesus Christ in both testaments absolutely clear. Only by faith can we understand that the three are one.
Hebrews makes it very clear that it was God the Son, Jesus Christ who created all things and who spoke the Law to Moses. Christ, The mighty God and the everlasting Father gave us his law through Moses.
Some things about Hebrews:
1) Hebrews it is the least known of all New Testament epistles
2) Hebrews requires a good knowledge of the five books of Moses.
The author of Hebrews make his argument for the superiority of Jesus Christ and who he is from the Law, the Prophets and from the Psalms. Christ tells us that when those who profess to be Gods people reject the authority of Moses, they reject Him.
John 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
V. 45, Christ tells the Hebrews that Moses revealed who he is. He tells all who will read, study and believe this book that failure to know and believe Moses is failure to know Christ and to believe him.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
How can one know who Christ is without studying those passages that speak of him?
Those who reject the binding validity of the Law of Moses do not like this book. Moreover, ignorance of Moses leaves them unable to properly understand the book of Hebrews, as well as the rest of the New Testament, which may be why it is the least known of the New Testament epistles.
Hebrews clearly tells us that Jesus Christ gave his law through
To depart from his law is to depart from Jesus Christ.
Ignoring his law is to ignore Jesus Christ.
Ignorance of his law is ignorance of Jesus Christ, for he is revealed in his law.
Those who want to know more about Christ and who he is must study his law, for it alone reveals the entire character and nature of Jesus Christ. The truth of Gods hatred of sin and the need of Christs redemption is revealed through Moses.
3) The historic view of Hebrews is that it was written to a congregation and to other congregations that were in danger of returning to the synagogue and Temple worship.
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
4) There is a continued controversy about who wrote it. It was probably written by a group of church elders, though the last chapter bares evidence of Paul's hand,
Hebrews 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
Timothy had just been freed from prison, and the letter is sent back by him to Jerusalem from Italy
13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
5) because of the continual emphasis on how much better Christ is than the Temple and its rites and rituals, it was probably written before the start of the Jewish-Roman war in 66 AD.
6) it was written to deal with those who desired to depart from the new Gospel Church and return to the glorious Temple and synagogue. It reminded them that our God is a consuming fire to those who depart from the faith. 12:29.
We will see that this book is a strong warning today for those who are tempted to depart from the fullness of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures as found in the Law, Prophets and the Psalms. It warns them that they are heirs of a consuming fire.
V. 2, "these last days" means we are now in history's last dispensation of time which started with the victory of Christ over death and hell.
We are living in the last period of history, a time when the victory of Christ is to be applied to the world. Matthew 28:19, 20.
By Gods enabling grace, Christs law is to be lived out in the lives of the redeemed.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire to those who depart from the Living God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
The victory of Christ in these last days is mentioned many times in the Law, Psalms, Prophets, Christ and in the Epistles.
Daniel 2:34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out
without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of
iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 7:14 And
there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all
people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion
is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his
kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
John 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
1 Corinthians 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Hebrews is about Christs everlasting dominion. It is about the total power, superiority and authority of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 1 gives us the grounds for Christs total and everlasting dominion, and assures the Redeemed of his victory.
Vv. 1, 2. In the past, God spoke to the fathers through the prophets. God speaks to us in these last days by His Son.
In Hebrews 4, we are told that if Israel had remained on the Arabian side of the Red Sea, there would have been no promise land. It shows us that Christians must move on in terms of their salvation by Jesus Christ and occupy all things for him, or they will remain in their own wilderness without their promised victory. They must move on past the milk of the word of righteousness by learning and applying it.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Hebrews is a call to claim the victory that belongs to the elect through the victory of Christ. That victory is ours when we do all things to the Glory of God through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and according to his word.
Discouragement is real, but victory is assured.
Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
Hebrews has sharp words for those who refuse to get past the basic doctrines Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment and grow in the grace and knowledge in the application of Christ. There are harsh words against those who expect to be raptured out of the battle.
Hebrews makes it clear that the incarnation of Christ Jesus is the key to life and history. He is the center of all things. In Jesus Christ, we have God the Thrice Holy and Everlasting Father revealed in the flesh. The worlds were created by the Tri-Une God, which means that God the Son not only made all things, but He is the One who is "heir of all things".
The focus of Hebrews is not on the person of Jesus of Nazareth, but is on who Jesus Christ was and is. He was and is God the Son, the maker, sustainer and Lord over all things. He is the Creator God.
Hebrews warns those who desired to leave the truth in Christ for the earthly glorious Temple and its appealing Jewish rituals. It tells them that they are leaving the life which is only in Christ. The warning is for those who desire the glitzy churches of our day over the faithful churches: they are leaving the life which is only found in Christ. Life is in hearing, understanding and applying the laws of Christ.
V. 2, tells us that being the maker and sustainer of all things, Jesus Christ is the appointed heir of all things.
V. 3, Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
We are told five things about the incarnate Son of God:
1) he is the brightness of God's glory. That is, He is the manifestation of God's glory as revealed in the Old Testament. The person of Christ Jesus was far more than what meets the eye.
2) he is the express image of God's person. He was and is the reality of who God is. All there is about God the Father that can be comprehended by human understanding is revealed in Jesus Christ.
3) Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of his power. He sustains all things, and all things move in terms of his word. All things means all things in creation. He called everything into existence. He is the heir of all things, and he sustains everything moment by moment by the word of his power.
4) God the Son, Jesus Christ himself purged us from all our sins. He is our Redeemer King who made atonement for our sins.
5) Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father seated as our ruler and our judge as well as our mediator. From his seat of ultimate power and authority, he is the judge of all men who will stand before him one day.
All men will be judged by his Laws as revealed to Moses.
He is at God's right hand or the place of all power, authority, intercession and judgment. He will remain there until all things are subdued unto himself.
1 Corinthians 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. He will continue as King when his work of intercession and judge is finished.
Gods Kingdom on earth is the genuine New World Order which started with his incarnation. Hebrews assured the redeemed that the New World Order, of which Jesus Christ is the Head, will conquer the fallen Old World Order that was so oppressive in their day, as it is in our day.
Matthew 28:19, 20 tell us that it is the responsibility of those who have had their sins purged by the work of Jesus Christ to see that the laws of His New World Order are the laws given by King Jesus to Moses. Gods elect are to responsible to apply his law in their various areas of responsibility. They are required to instruct their children and all new converts in the laws of His New World Order, the Kingdom of God.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
We are "joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Rom. 8:17.)
In Hebrews, the elect children of God are called to make "the age to come" Christ's kingdom. Our salvation does not come with a ticket to easy living. Rather salvation is a summons to go into all the world, preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and disciple all nations for Christ. According to Hebrews 4, our goal is to bring all people into the rest of faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ, who is Gods Sabbath.
Only in Jesus Christ can we see and understand the Holy Heavenly Father. In Christ, we have the exact representation of God's nature and essence. The Hebrews are told that the true nature and essence is found in the law, psalms and prophets.
Hebrews opens by telling us that the Old Testament prophets gave us an imperfect revelation of God. But in Jesus Christ we are given a perfect revelation of God.
Hebrews presents a new age started with Christ Jesus. Christ work is done, and the Redeemed are called to conquer "Canaan", which is our promised land. We are to move in his name and by his power to live out the laws of Christ. Hebrews is a call to action for the redeemed, with the assurance that they are more than conquerors through Christ.