Week 20: Letter to the Hebrews

Progress After This Week
Bible Foundations Plan 83%

Overview

The author and audience of Hebrews is unknown, but evidence suggests that the epistle was written to a church of primarily Jewish Christians. The early church recognized the epistle as the inspired work of the Holy Spirit. The believers are urged to hold fast to their profession of faith despite fierce persecution; the main motivation for this is the superiority of Jesus and the new covenant, and the terrible punishment for those who reject the great salvation that Jesus provides.

Recommended video: Read Scripture: Hebrews by The Bible Project.

Reading & Summaries

READ: HEBREWS 1-2; PSALM 8

Summary: God’s Son, Jesus, is far superior to angels. Jesus is the all-powerful creator and sustainer of the universe; he humbled himself as a man, died for our sins, and sat down at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Because Jesus suffered as a man, enduring the same temptations that we face, he is an understanding and merciful high priest.

Key Concept — Priesthood of Christ: Christ meets the needs of his people through three anointed offices: prophet, priest, and king. Hebrews focuses primarily on the priesthood of Christ. In the Old Testament, God provided a temporary system of sacrifices. These sacrifices, offered under the Levitical priesthood, were a gracious but incomplete provision for sin. Jesus came as a perfect priest who offered a perfect sacrifice once and for all. We no longer need earthly priests, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).

READ: HEBREWS 3:1-4:13; PSALM 95

Summary: Jesus is greater than Moses, as a son is greater than a servant. Because of their unbelief, the Israelites were not permitted to enter physical rest in the promised land; the promise of spiritual rest still remains for those who rest from their works through faith in Jesus (Heb. 4:3, 10). We should be afraid of faithlessness, lest we hear the promises of God but do not believe them, and fail to experience rest.

READ: HEBREWS 4:14-7:28; PSALM 110

Summary: Jesus is a great high priest, chosen by God. Jesus, who descended from Judah, is after the order of the priest-king Melchizedek; he is not after the order of the Levitical priests who descended from Levi through Aaron. See notes on Week 2, Day 2: “Melchizedek — A Hint About Jesus.”

READ: HEBREWS 8-10

Summary: The old covenant, with its rituals and priesthood, foreshadowed Jesus. Now that Jesus has come and enacted a new and better covenant, we are no longer under the ceremonial aspects of the law. Jesus sealed the covenant his blood, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22); as our great high priest, Jesus entered into heaven to intercede for us before the Father until his second coming.

Christ provided a single sacrifice, once for all; therefore, we have confidence to approach God and “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (10:22). Christians should encourage one another to hold fast in faith; we should not “go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth” (10:26) lest we face the judgment and punishment of God for despising the holy blood of his Son.

READ: HEBREWS 11-13

Summary: Faith gives us a foretaste of heavenly things. Persevering faith is demonstrated by the saints of old. We must forsake sin and look to Jesus, the author of our faith, for strength to persevere. God disciplines his children for the sake of their holiness. Christ’s blood was shed for the sanctification of his people. Since we are a part of an unshakeable kingdom, we should worship God with reverence, walk in holiness, obey our leaders, and “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (13:15).

Recommended articles: How to Pursue Peace and Holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and Six Principles for Pursuing Holiness (Hebrews 12).

Study Exercises

When exercises require a written response, record your answers in a journal or email them to a pastor or class leader who will provide you with feedback.

  1. How has God spoken to us in these last days (Heb. 1:1-2)? How does this help us to understand the name given to Jesus in John chapter 1?
  2. What does Hebrews 1:3 say about Jesus? Highlight this verse in BLUE.
  3. Use the cross references in your Bible to look up the two citations in Hebrews 1:5. (If you do not have a Bible with cross references, use Bible Gateway.) What is the context of each citation? How does it help us to better understand the meaning of Hebrews?
  4. Why is Jesus especially able to help us with our temptations (Heb. 2:18)? What three temptations did Jesus face in Luke 4:1-13?
  5. What does Hebrews 4:12 say about the word of God? How does Acts 2:37 help us to understand the metaphor?
  6. What distinguishes the spiritually mature from spiritual babies (Heb. 5:12-14)?
  7. How thorough is the salvation that Jesus provides (Heb. 7:25)? Highlight this verse in PINK.
  8. Search for the word “better” in Hebrews. What are seven provisions of Christ and the new covenant that are “better”? Highlight each phrase that includes the word “better” in BLUE.
  9. What is the blood of Jesus able to purify (Heb. 9:14)? Highlight this verse in PINK.
  10. Why was it necessary for Jesus to shed his blood (Heb. 9:22)? Highlight this verse in PINK.
  11. Were the sins of the Old Testament saints taken away by the blood of animal sacrifices (Heb. 10:4)?
  12. What is “the habit of some” that is forbidden in Hebrews 10:24-25?
  13. Why will God punish sinners (Heb. 10:28-31)?
  14. What definition of faith is given in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:3? Read these verses in at least four translations (e.g. KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV). Highlight both verses in GREEN.
  15. Why did Moses choose to be mistreated with the people of God (Heb. 11:25)?
  16. How does God bring about our holiness (Heb. 12:7-11)?
  17. According to Hebrews 12:14, why is it necessary to pursue holiness? How does this compare to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:8? Highlight both verses in GREEN.
  18. Why did Jesus suffer on the cross outside the gate of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:12)? Highlight this verse in GREEN.
  19. Why should we submit to and obey leaders in the church (Heb. 13:17)?

Coming soon.