Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ

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Hebrews
The Superiority of Christ


Superiority of Christ's person, Superiority of Christ's work, the Christian walk.

Background: An author (unknown to us) encouraged Jewish believers to grow in Christ around 64-68 AD
Theme: The superiority of Christ
Outline: Superiority of Christ's Person and Work, and the Christian's Walk
Key Verse: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Heb 1:3, NIV)

Hebrews Chapter Index

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

Bibliography

Author:  Some older Bibles title this "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews", yet most evangelical scholars agree that "From a stylistic perspective, it is impossible to attribute the letter to Paul." (Craig S. Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary).  Even the early church Fathers doubted that it was written by Paul because it is unlike anything he has written in terms of his style of argument and his Greek grammar.  We don't know who wrote it, but it was accepted as Scripture from an early time.  The author shows a deep understanding of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and has a very sophisticated Greek style of writing.

Background:  Probably written between 64 and 68 AD because Paul is not mentioned (who probably died in 64 AD) and Timothy was mentioned as freed (Heb 13:23) and that probably happened before or just after Nero's death in 68AD.  The Temple is mentioned as 'passing away' (Heb 8:13) so this would be before the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD.  The letter encouraged Hebrew Christians to stay faithful to the Lord Jesus under persecution, possibly under Nero.  Jews had protected status, but a Jewish Christian was not protected.

Purpose:  To defend the Gospel of Christ as superior to the Old Testament faith and to encourage Jewish Christians to remain loyal and not turn back to living under the Old Covenant.

Summary: One major theme in Hebrews is that Jesus is superior to the Old Testament Revelation through prophets (1:1-3), greater than angels (1:4-2:18, greater than Moses (ch 3-4), and greater than Aaron and the line of priests (ch 5-10). A call to faith is given, with the witness of the Old Testament saints who lived by faith (ch 11). Warnings of discipline from God, the seriousness of our call, and practical advice follow (ch 12-13).  The author of Hebrews is unknown, although some attribute it to Paul.

I.  Superiority of Christs Person

    A.  Superior to Angels

1:3 "The son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being ..." Serious seekers of God may wish for a vision, like Daniel, or to see the cloud and fire that led Israel out of Egypt. Perhaps a voice, or a conversation with an angel could satisfy our questions. This verse tells us that Jesus himself is a greater revelation of what God is like than all the revelations of the Old Testament prophets or any other vision or revelation given to man.  Jesus is the exact representation of what and who God is. The character of Jesus in the Gospels is the very display of the character of God. (The actual Greek word translated as 'exact representation' is character.) When we see Jesus cry at the tomb of Lazarus, get angry at the money-changers in the Temple, commend the widow who gave her last coin, and have compassion on a sinful woman, we see exactly what God is like.

 B.  Superior to Moses

    C.  Superior to Priests

 

II.  Superiority of Christs Work

     A.  Superior Covenant

     B.  Superior Sanctuary

    C.  Superior Sacrifice

 

III.  Persevering Faith

IV. The Christian Walk

II. God's King-Son (1:5-4:16)

2:16-18 It is clear that Jesus was truly subject to temptation. Although He was sinless and always took the victory over temptation, they were real temptations. The temptations proved or demonstrated His true character, that He did not and would not sin.

III. God's Priest-Son (5-10)

6:4-6 A Christian may disqualify himself from further service and lose a position of honor and service in this present age and in the coming Millennial Kingdom. This interpretation is consistent with the preceding chapters if one views the coming Millennial Kingdom as the 'rest'.

6:4-6 Yes, a born-again Christian can remain a babe in Christ and even return to worldly pursuits. Although saved from the penalty of sin which is eternal death, he does not seek to be freed from the present power of sin over his life. This is all the more reason to train or disciple new believers, and not stop at simply winning converts. We are commanded to make disciples of all men.

6:7-8 The illustration of burning a field to destroy the weeds and thorns, but not to destroy the field, is excellent. This helps us to resolve the severe discipline of God against apostates (perhaps even losing their rewards and places of service in His kingdom) with the truth of eternal security (they are still &'saved').

7:1-3 Is Melchizedek an angelic being? If so, "Without beginning of days" is taken to mean "created before time". I accept another view, that Melchizedek is being a human whose birth and genealogy is not recorded. This is a significant difference from the Levitical priests who were only chosen from that family line and who kept careful geneological records. Jesus was not a priest based upon descent from Levi, but was a priest of a different kind and a descendant of Judah. Some interpreters suggest that Melchizedek was taken to heaven without suffering physical death, as was Enoch and Elijah, but this is nowhere stated in the Bible.

IV.  The Response of Faith (11-12)

11:11-12  Incidentally, Abraham had other children after Isaac, although not by Sarah (Gen 25:1,6).

V. Epilogue (13)


Bibliography

http://www.crivoice.org/biblestudy/bbheb.html The Book of Hebrews Bible Study by Roger Hahn.  A good, free, study of Hebrews which also has an excellent bibliography.  About 15 pages/lessons.

http://www.raytstedman.org/hebrews2/heb2comm1.html    Hebrews by Ray C. Stedman (Inter Varsity Press New Testament Commentary Series, 1992).  A good, free, modern commentary.

http://www.ccel.org/calvin/comment3/comm_vol44/htm/TOC.htm    Commentary on Hebrews by John Calvin, 1509-1564.  A classic commentary for our Reformed friends. Detailed, with several paragraphs per verse, or two to three verses per web page.

New Testament Survey by Merrill Tenney : Highly recommend this book for a good background to the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The first half covers background, what the world was like under Roman rule and what the conditions of the Jews were. The second half gives background, outline, and introductions to each of the New Testament books (including Acts).

Bible Background Commentary (New Testament) by Craig S. Keener : Printed by InterVarsity Press, this is an excellent one-volume resource for understanding the customs and background (history, language, and geography) behind the verses of the New Testament. It is not an interpretation of the New Testament as are most commentaries, its purpose is to give background information. I highly recommend this to the serious student of Scripture, who already has a good grasp of the meaning and application of the New Testament.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament, Volume II) by the Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary : Admittedly a 'dispensational' interpretation, meaning that the authors take the book of Revelation very literally and teach that Jesus will take the Church out of the world before the 'Tribulation Period'. Although I do not agree totally with their opinions, I have found this to be a fair commentary, also explaining the views of others which the authors do not hold. If you use my notes you will receive some insight as to where the points of disagreement are. Highly recommended as the best short commentary on the market. I am easily in agreement with 98% of what this commentary teaches, and who knows if I am right about the other 2%??

Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 2 by J. Vernon McGee. A popular paperback set written in a conversational tone. Explains and applies Hebrews in a devotional manner. Level of reading is High School and Adult.

Hebrews by John MacArthur. A balance between the devotional and conversational commentaries by McGee above and the more scholarly and academic Expositior's following. Appropriate for a mature reader at College reading level.

Hebrews "Shepherd's Notes", editor David R. Shepherd. I highly recommend this one for leading a group study or personal use. Concise commentary and a few questions for thought on each chapter. Excellent background notes in margins, a modern and well designed format.

"Hebrews", Leon Morris in Vol 12 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary (different authors for Hebrews through Revelation). A scholarly commentary for advanced students and trained pastors, College and Graduate reading level. Deals with all major views of each passage of Scripture, along with notes on any textual and translation problems (notes on Greek text are perhaps useable by those without knowledge of that language, but intended for those with at least some familiarity with the language.)


Updated March 2012
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