For the last few months, we have been studying the book of Hebrews in my church. Our church does this in a great way because they go through books of the Bible one chapter at a time during the sermons, so we get to go in-depth more than a sermon which chooses a theme and finds verses around that, which is what I’ve been used to (especially at Catholic churches). Because of this, I have a lot of great notes about the book, from not only sermons but from my small group, and how you can apply it to your life, especially as someone with mental illness and a relatively new Christian. For me, it helps to read an overview of the book so that I can understand what the main themes are better for my own study. This will be a several part series (not sure how many yet!) so that I can get the most out of this book and hopefully inspire others to study it. I would advise you to keep your Bible close while you read through this post! If you don’t have a Bible with you, you can use this one over at Bible Gateway. I use the New King James Version because that’s what my church uses.
An Introduction to Hebrews
One thing that I was surprised to learn when we started studying this book is that we don’t know who the author is! Some people think it is St. Paul, but it could have been any of the people leading the churches at the time. I don’t think it really matters who it was.
This book was written in the late 60s AD, before the fall of the Second Temple a few years later. This comes into play later when the author talks about how Jesus is a superior ‘temple’ as well – these people will have seen the Second Temple. It was written towards Jewish Christians, some of whom were starting to slide back into traditional Judaism, and the author is trying to convince them to hold fast.
The main question of this book is: “how does Jesus fit into Old Testament law and sacrifices?” and the main theme is the superiority of Jesus!
This chapter of Hebrews opens with the heading ‘God’s Supreme Revelation’, and basically this first paragraph is discussing that God has used the prophets to speak before, but now he is using His Son, who is better than the prophets.
My small group leader said that God and his Son are to the sun and its rays – Jesus is the tangible, visible form of God. This is one of the three main ways that God has spoken to us; he has used the sky (or the burning bush, etc), his Son, and scripture to speak to humans. It goes on to say that He has never spoken as highly of the angels as He has of Jesus.
My pastor specifically noted the use of the word ‘firstborn’ in verse 6 – this means that He is first in position or priority; birth order isn’t what’s at stake here. In verse 9, we see that Jesus is a deity – the Lord is saying to him ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever’ – meaning He as King will reign forever and He is seated on the throne in Heaven.
The main idea of this chapter is that Christ is better than the prophets and the angels – a superior person. This is similar to chapter two…
This chapter of Hebrews opens with a warning against spiritual drifting (verses 1-4). Spiritual drifting is basically when you slowly stop paying attention to your relationship with the Lord, attending church, reading your Bible, etc.
It can be hard to notice, because as our pastor says, no heart is suddenly turned away from Christ, and no one who has fallen away needs to remain in that condition. It’s important to guard ourselves against spiritual drifting because it can hurt our life. In chapter 3, we will talk about how salvation is permanent for true believers, but even so, do you want to not be sure of your salvation?
The next part of the chapter talks about how Jesus was ‘lower than the angels’ when he was man. I don’t think this means he was literally worse than the angels, it means he was closer to the earth than the angels were. This is elaborated on in the next section, where he talks about how He did everything that humans do, including being tempted, but he was stronger and came through it without sin.
This chapter talks about how Jesus is even better than Moses, because He was over His house (Heaven), where Moses was a servant of God’s house. Verse 6 talks about what I mentioned earlier – that salvation is permanent for true believers. If we hold fast our confidence in Christ and that He will deliver us, we will have eternal life.
It also talks about the Jews that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and how they did not believe enough and thus were struck down. It’s basically a warning not to fall away because that is what had been happening to the ancient Hebrew Christians.
Next week, we will look at chapters 4, 5, and 6!
Did you like this post? What’s your favorite verse from Hebrews?