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Study in Hebrews. Presentation 01. Background And Introduction Chap 1v1ff. Presentation 01. Introduction. The epistle to the Hebrews one of the most glorious in the NT. Its great worth has been recognised throughout history:

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Study in


Presentation 01

Background And Introduction

Chap 1v1ff

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The epistle to the Hebrews one of the most glorious in the NT. Its great worth has been recognised throughout history:

“There is indeed, no other book in Holy Scripture, which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, so splendidly extols the power and worth of that unique sacrifice which he offered by his death, deals more adequately with the use and also the abrogation of ceremonies, and in short, explains more fully why Christ is the end of the law”. JOHN CALVIN

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Hebrews is unlike every other book in the N.T. It bears the characteristic of a sermon, the major substance of which was written down and circulated. Although there are a few personal greetings at the close of the epistle, there are none in the introduction. The ‘preaching devices’ cited in support of this view are found in 5v11, 6v3, 9v5b, 11v32, 13v 22.

The writer is constantly aiming at the conscience.

He gives frequent exhortations : 2v1, 3v1-2, 4v11,14, 10v10-25,35, 12v1-2,12-13, 13v13-15.

There are many warnings given : 2v2-4, 3v6,12-13, 3v16-4v1, 6v4-6, 10v26-31, 12v15-17,25.

There is a far greater treatment of the person and humanity of Jesus than in any other epistle: 2v9-10,14-18, 4v15, 5v7-9, 12v3, 13v12.

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There is no sure indication of the author, place of writing, date or the recipients of this epistle. Although this book has been attributed to Paul it seems unlikely that he is the author. Luke, Apollos and Barnabas have all been suggested. The author was clearly known to Timothy [13v23]. He was also personally aquatinted with his readers: 6v 9-12, 10v32-34, 13v7. He expressed his hope to return to them 13v19-23. He and his readers seem to have been second generation believers, having received the gospel from those who heard the Lord Jesus 12v31. The uncertainty of authorship seems to be the reason why it took some time before the epistle was accepted as a part of the N.T. canon of scripture.

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The title ‘to the Hebrews’ is not part of the original manuscript but was given to it by deductions made from its contents.

Various dates have been suggested for this epistle ranging from 70-95 AD. i.e. between the persecution of Nero and Diocletian.

The readers were of danger of being brought into persecution which, while it had not yet reached the point of martyrdom [12v4], was nevertheless severe [10v32-34]. Some think the persecution of 8v1may be the one in question concerning which a converted Jewish scholar Adolph Saphir writes:…

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“Then arose another persecution of the believers especially directed against the apostle Paul. Festus died about the year 63 and under the high priest-hood of Ananias who favoured the Sadducees, the Christian Hebrews were persecuted as transgressors of the law. Some of them, were stoned to death;

and though this extreme punishment could not frequently be inflicted by the Sanhedrin, they were able to subject their brethren to sufferings and reproaches which they felt keenly. It was a small thing that they confiscated their goods: but they banished them from the holy places. Hitherto they had enjoyed the privileges of devout Israelites but now they were treated as unclean and apostates”.

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The readers were clearly not new converts [5 v12]. It has been widely accepted that the readers were Jewish Christians who were in danger of abandoning their faith and lapsing back into Judaism. Thus they were running the risk of apostasy, though the author does not think they had at the time of writing reached that disastrous state of affairs [6v9-12].

The key for understanding the dynamic of the whole epistle is found in 13v22 ‘bear with my word of exhortation for I have written to you briefly.’ The word ‘exhortation’ [Gk. Paraclatos] comes from the same family of words from which the word ‘comforter’ comes. Note the ‘paraclatic’ ministry in which the author is engaged is one of encouragement.

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The paraclitic ministry involves showing people the way in which scripture is useful in their lives. Because of this it is full of ‘therefores’.

It is a ministry which is both diagnostic and prescriptive. As we work our way through the epistle we will notice two things:

a. The author diagnoses his readers’ condition.

The author prescribes a remedy which is both God-provided and grace-conditioned.

We will discover six areas where the author saw this paraclatic ministry as being necessary.

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Their view of Christ was marked by great inadequacy. [1v1ff]

Their understanding of the relationship between the powers of the age to

come and their present existence was

very defective. [6v1 ff]

They suffered form a spiritual appetite

deficiency. [10v25]

They ignored the potency of indwelling

sin [2v1, 3v12, 6v12]

They had a very undeveloped doctrine

of assurance [10v13]

They had miscalculated the vital

importance of duty. [10v19 ff]

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Framework Of The Book

The Superiority Of The Revelation Brought By Christ To That Of The O.T. Prophets [1v1-3].

Christ’s absolute uniqueness as Divine Son, Incarnate Redeemer, and

Exalted Lord

2. The Superiority Of Christ To Angels. [1v4-2v18]

Proved from the O.T. [1v4-13]

First warning; neglecting salvation [2v1-4]

Christ the true man exalted above the angels [2v5-9]

The purpose and consequence of the incarnation [2v10-18]

3. The Superiority Of Christ To Moses [3v1-4v13]

Moses and Christ compared [3v1 -6a]

Second warning; beware of copying Israel in their unbelief [3v6b-4v2]

Necessity of faith and obedience for entry into God’s rest [4v3-11]

The penetrating discernment of God’s word [4v12-13]

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Framework Of The Book

4. The Superiority Of Christ To Aaron And The Aaronic Priesthood [4v14-7v28]

Our compassionate High Priest [4v14-16]

High priesthood: General qualifications [5v1-4]

Christ’s qualifications [5v5-10]

Third warning; the peril of stagnation and apostasy [5v11-6v8]

Encouragement to persevere [6v9-20]

The order of Melchizadek [6v20-7v28]

Significance of Melchizadek [7v1-10]

Imperfection of Levitical system [7v11-28]

5. The Superiority Of The Covenant Mediated By Christ[8v1-10v18]

The shadow of the Old Covenant superseded by reality of the new [8v1-9v10]

The redemption procured by Christ [9v11-10v18]

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Framework Of The Book

6. The Superiority Of Faith To Ritual [10v19-12v29]

Encouragement to enter boldly the new sanctuary [10v19-25]

Fourth warning; the peril of despising the gospel [10v26-31]

Encouragement to endure [10v32-39]

Examples of triumph of faith and perseverance [11v1 -39]

The supreme example of Christ [12v1-4]

The significance and value of discipline [12v5-1]

Encouragement to resume the struggle [12v12-14]

Fifth warning: the example of Esau [12v15-17]

Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion compared [12v18-24]

Sixth warning; the peril of resisting him who speaks from heaven [12v25-24]

7. The Superiority Of Christian Duty [13v1-25]

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Framework Of The Book

Notice how frequently the comparative term ‘better’ is used to show the superiority of Christ; 1v4, 7v19, 7v22, 8v6, 9v23, 10v34, 11v16, 11v34, 11v40.

The readership were preoccupied with what they

had lost or ‘given up’. The writer reminds them of what they have gained; 4v14, 6v19, 8v1, 10v34, 13v10.

This epistle is forward looking and intent upon encouraging Christians to see how the future has invaded the present. This is the tidiest Christian apology which we have in the N.T. and the most comprehensive exposition of Christ’s person and work.

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The opening verses focus upon an important characteristic of God. He is a God who makes himself known. All that we know about God, we know because he has taken the initiative to reveal himself. The opening verse contrasts two ways in which God has revealed himself; through the prophets and through his Son. These forms of revelation are distinguished by the following:

God revealed truth ‘through the

prophets’ but ‘in his Son’

2. God’s revelation of himself through

the prophets was fragmentary.

The revelation which came through

the prophets was progressive in nature.

The revelation of Christ was a revelation

based on intimacy.

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The writer makes seven majestic claims concerning the person of Christ which make cause him to stand head and shoulders above the prophets.

1. He Is Appointed Heir Of All Things.

2. He Was The Father’s Agent In Creation

3. He Is The Radiance Of God’s Glory

4. He Is The Exact Representation [Impress]

Of God’s Being [Substance].

5. He Is The Sustainer Of The Universe.

6. He Has Completed His Work Of Redemption

7. He Is Presently Engaged In A Mediatorial


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This practical epistle addresses the reality of the struggle in the experience of believers. Their danger arose from outward pressures and inner uncertainties and because of a failure to grasp the glorious truth of Christ.

They became preoccupied with and reliant upon subjective experience rather than upon objective fact and reality.

Into this situation God shines his Word which declares that Christ is everything [ cf. Col.1v11-20; 2v2b-3, 8-10]. Throughout Hebrews, Christ is declared to be “better” [the adjective is used thirteen times].

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It is this glorious Christ who is the focus, fulfilment and executive agent of all the eternal purposes of God, from beginning to end. It is Christ first, last and all the time. This is the Gospel, the Word of God the Father testified to by God the Holy Spirit. Hebrews insists that the entire O.T. pointed forward authentically to Christ, which, of courses is something Jesus Himself insisted upon [Lk. 24v25-27, 44-47; Jn. 5v39-40]. It is basic to the Christian gospel that God speaks. If He did not speak and so make himself known, man would remain in dark ignorance or at best would fabricate imaginary and distorted ideas of God.

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God spoke ‘at many times and in various ways ’v1. We must not conclude that the O.T. is in any way the “defective” speech of God “corrected” by the N.T.. The one is promise and the other is fulfilment but their message is one, namely Christ. God speaks, and “fulfils himself in many ways”, and all his speaking whether to our “forefathers” or in “these last days” [scripture divides the course of time into two parts] is summed up in his Son. God speaks in nature [Rom. 1v19-20; Ps. 19v1-6 - then v7ff which speak of God’s Law), just as he speaks through conscience [which of course can be corrupted], and through laws, history and providence.

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All his preliminary and preparatory speaking is summed up and spelled out in human terms in his Son Jesus Christ. The fullness of God is now manifest in flesh [1 Tim. 3v16; 1 Pet. 1v20] for men to see, to look upon without fear, and to be drawn to [John 14v8-12]. The Word of God is made flesh [John 1v14]. Hebrews should thrill our hearts. Put the word “God” at the start of the verse where it belongs psychologically and theologically though not linguistically. God has his times and will not be hurried. God has his methods and stands no interference. God speaks and his word stands for ever in its many-sided fullness. That Word is summed up in His Son.

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