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A Study Of The Apostle Paul’s Letter To The Hebrews

A Study Of The Apostle Paul’s Letter To The Hebrews

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A Study Of The Apostle Paul’s Letter To The Hebrews

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  1. Don’t fall away! Don’t Depart! Don’t neglect your salvation! Don’t cast away your confidence! Don’t harden your heart! Don’t drift away! AStudyOf TheApostlePaul’s LetterTo The Hebrews How can we neglect so greata salvation? ~ Hebrews 2:3

  2. Hebrews: Christ Is Superior! Superior Person (1:1—4:13) Superior to Prophets (1:1-3) Superior to Angels (1:4—2:18) Superior to Moses (3:1-19) Superior to Joshua (4:1-13) Superior Priest (4:14—7:28) Superior to Aaron (4:14—6:12) Superior to Melchizedek (6:13—7:10) Superior to Levi (7:11-28)

  3. Hebrews: Christ Is Superior! Superior Pact to Moses’ (8:1—10:18) Superior Promises (8:1-13) Superior Sanctuary (9:1-15) Superior Sacrifice (9:16-28) Superior Results (10:1-18) Superior Principle (Faith) to Moses’ (10:19—13:25) Superior Things (10:19-39) Superior Actions (11:1-40) Superior Relationship(12:1-29)but… We’ll only get to verses 1-3 today. Superior Way of Life (13:1-25)

  4. Hebrews 12:1  Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  5. This phrase includes all the heroes allud-ed to in chapter 11; in fact, I’m person-ally convinced that this phrase refers to every saint from Adam to these He-brews, especially those who had been martyred in God’s service. Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  6. The Greek term here isn’t nephele (an iso-lated, definable cloud), but nephos (an unde-finable cloud, covering the entirety of the visi-ble sky). Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  7. The use of the word cloud for a mass of people became an idiom: Homer wrote of acloudof foot-men, a cloudof Trojans, and The-mistocles referred to Xerxes’ army as so great acloudof men. Why? Probably because of the cloud of dust that an army of men, horses, and chariots created in those days of unpaved roads. So…   

  8. We shouldn’t think it’s strange when JesusspokeofHis comingagainst Jeru-salem on a cloud (Luke 21:27) since He would do so via the Roman army. God spoke of the army of Gog attacking Israel as coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud (Eze. 38:9 & 16). WhenGodprophesiedaboutHiscoming against Egypt, He said, The Lord rides on a swift cloud & will come into Egypt (Isa. 19:1). And how did He do that? Via the Babylonian army (Eze. 32:11ff).

  9. When JeremiahprophesiedaboutGod’s comingagainstJerusalemviatheBaby-lonian army, he said He shall come up likeclouds,andHischariotslikeawhirl-wind (4:13). Probably because of such apocalyptic language… Nahum said of God, The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet (1:3). So…   

  10. Why should there be a problem with Christ’s apocalyptic language when He spoke of coming against Jerusalem via the Roman army on the clouds (Mat. 24: 29 & 26:64)? The point is this: Let’sallowtheBibletoexplaintheBible in every case possible, keeping in mind that, before we can ever accurately ap-ply the Bible, we first must understand how the original audience understood it, or was at least meant to understand it; as one writer said, A verse can never mean what it never meant!

  11. The original term for thiswordistheterm from which we get our word “martyr.” However, it wasn’t always used to refer to those who were slain for a cause; it could also refer to those who were (as translated here) mere witnesses to/of something. So, in this case…    Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  12. Whether they died as martyrs or not, Paulcalledthefaith-ful saints before his time a great cloud of witnesses. Wit-nesses to/of what? Witnesses of what faith can do! I.e…. Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  13. I don’t believe Paul was saying that the dead could literally see these Christians; rather, just as God bore witness to the faithfulness of the saints of chapter 11, they were in turn bearing witness of God’s faithfulness to these brethren, thus cheering them on. By the way… Since chapter 11 is really just an ex-tendedparentheticalillustration,mean-ing that chapter 10 actually flows into chapter 12, then we can see how that the comments on 10:39 correspond to what we’re saying here. I.e….  

  14. When Paul said, We aren’t for shrinking back to destruction, but for faithfulness to the saving of our souls, he wasn’t speaking as if they had no free-will,but as if he were a cheerleader or an inspiring coach saying… Paul: “So what’re we going do?!?!” Team: “We’re going to win!!!!” Paul: “What’re we going to do?!?!” Team: “We’re going to win!!!!” So…  

  15. Doing what Paul did here in chapter 12 … with the cloud of witnesses and even with Jesus in verses 2-3 … was a natural form of motivation: Just as every suc-ceedingteamtriestodoatleast as well as its predecessors, so these Christians were to try to do at least as well astheir ancestors, remembering what they had accomplished in order to get them to where they were!

  16. This is translated as cast off when Paul said to cast off the works of darkness (Rom. 13:12) and as put off when he said to put off … the old man (Eph. 4:22); in Acts 7:58 Young’s literal version says that those who stoned Stephen put down their clothing. Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  17. This is from a term referring to some-thing that totally surrounds someone, meaning that it’s certain to cause him to stumble and fall; because of this and the context of this entire book, Paul was very likely re-ferring to… Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  18. … the one and only sin that could cause themtoapostatize— the sin of unbelief or doubt in God and His promises. Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  19. TheweightthatPaul advised them to put off is from a term referring to bulk or surplus flesh—fat. And there are two acceptable interpre-tations concerning what Paul had in mind by his use of this term:    Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  20. 1. It could refer to how that going back to or continuing to observe various OT ceremonies, etc. was nothing but a hin-drance since they meant nothing any-more: of the Galatians Paul asked, But now after you have known God … how isitthatyouturnagaintotheweakand beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid of you lest I have labored for you in vain (4:9-11). Or…   

  21. 2. It could refer to how that they need-ed to seriously consider trimming from their lives anything that washinderingtheirprogress (regardless of how lawful it was in/of itself);theywere to have the attitude that said, All that doesn’t help, hinders. This interpretation reminds me of how, in his discussion of getting married versus remaining single, Paul wrote the Corinthian Christians, saying, to the unmarried and widows: it is good for them if they remain even as I am—single (1:7:8). Why? Because of the present distress (v. 26). So… 

  22. Not only were they to put off or to put down their sin of doubt, but they were even advised to put off or to put down things that weren’t necessarily sinful in and of themselves—things that might be lawful, but things that would still hinder them on their course; so, to put it curtly, spiritually they needed to bulk down and buck up!

  23. Thisisinthepresent tense, bespeaking a day-by-day, life-long determination; i.e., they were being told that they could not set time limits on God such as by saying things like, “Well, I’ll be faithful until such and such a time, but by then things had better be different.” Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  24. Thisisfromtheterm for endurance or perseverance, not mere patience; it’s that “keep on keep-ing on” concept that has been the theme of the entire book. (No one ever won a race by patience.) Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  25. Paul was telling them to press for-ward, not allowing anything or anyone to keep them from their goal. To the Galatian Christians who were dealing with similar diffi-culties, he wrote, You ran well. Who hindered you (5:7)? Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  26. This would likely be better translated as course; after all, it was something set before them, Paul said. Now on to…  Therefore we also, since we are sur-rounded by so great acloudof witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily ensnares us, & let us run with pati-ence the race that is set before us…

  27. Hebrews 12:2  …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  28. After confronting them at length with their faithful human ancestors, Paul then turned to confront them with their Messiah—Jesus. …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  29. This means to turn one’s eyes or mind from one thing, in order to fix them on something else. And…    …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  30. This was appropriate here because if a runner ever took his eyes off his course, he’d lose speed or stumble and fall—he had to have total concentration on his task at hand. (Cf. Peter when he was walking on water until he took his eyes off Jesus, Mat. 14:22-33.) Likewise…    …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  31. These Hebrews had to keep their minds off any weights or sins which would slow them down or cause them to stum-ble & fall … spiritu-ally speaking! And what &/or who was their goal? Jesus. …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  32. By Jesus here, Paul didn’t just mean Jesus as a person, but everything that Jesus symbolized; i.e., Paul was allud-ing back to the ideas of 10:36-37—Christ’s soon com-ing to wrap up the promises with the fullness of the eter-nal kingdom! …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  33. This is from a term which refers to a leader—the one who began the race and whose example was to be emulated as in our game “Follow the Leader.” …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  34. Jesus said, If the worldhatesyou,you know that it hated Me before it hated you. … Since they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you(John15:18&20). But, He went on to say later, be of good cheer, [for] I have overcome the world (John16:33).By the way…    …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  35. John 16:33 is a classic case of the already-but-not-yet principle we talked about in a previous study. Not only had Jesus not come back to restore all things yet, He hadn’t died yet when He made this state-ment. This principle just means that God can say something has been accomplished because there’s no way that it won’t be, for He has seen it happen or has at least set events in motion to make sure it occurs just as He desires.

  36. This is from a term meaning to bring to anend,thentocom- plete or perfect; so Jesus wasn’t only the One who started the race, but He was also the One who finished it by bring-ingallthingstotheir fulfillment. He is the beginning and the end (Rev. 22:13). …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  37. This shouldn’t be translated subjec-tively as our faith, but objectively as the faith, referring to the religion of God, especially that of the new, univer-sal, and final testa-ment. So while their ancestors were he-roes and models of God’s religion, Jesus was the author and finisher of it. …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  38. The joy set before Jesus appears to be theprospectofwhat it would mean to sit down at the right hand of God, viz. reversing the tragic defeat of humanity in Eden; i.e., Christ’s joy is experienced in bringing many sons to glory (2:10). …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  39. Since the original term for for here is anti (meaning instead of), not eis (meaning in order to), some be-lieve Paul wasn’t saying that Jesus endured the suffer-ing of the cross in order to obtainfuture joy, but that He suffered instead of retaining past joy, i.e. the joy of His preincarnate life (Php. 2:6-8). But…  …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  40. Since anti can also mean for the sake of (Heb. 12:16), and since the phrase set before Him is the same as in verse 1 with reference to a future course, and since Paul was clear- ly correlating the two,thenthejoybe-fore Christ here must also be a reference to something that was in His future,not in His past. …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, forthe joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  41. Literally it says that He enduredacross. Crucifixion was con-sidered a shameful death for at least three reasons:   …lookingtoJesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, en-dured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  42. 1. It was reserved for the worst crimes. 2. The victim was crucified nude. And… 3. The victim was considered accursed of God (Deu. 21:23 & Gal. 3:13). All this is why Paul said that Jesus was obedient, not just to death, but even the death of a cross (Php 2:8). So… If Jesus endured a cross of shame for these Hebrews, surely they should’ve been willing to endure their little diffi-culties for Him. Finally…   

  43. Hebrews 12:3  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  44. This introduces the reason why these brethren were ex-horted to look to the author and finisher of their faith. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  45. This means to calcu-late and compare; i.e., they were told to calculate the cost of their salvation by adding up all the hostility and opposi-tionthattheirSavior suffered, then com-pare that cost to the price of remaining faithful to Him and His cause. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  46. This refers to oppo-sition in both word and deed; this same word is translated rebellion in Jude 11. So He experienced hostile rebellion, the likes of which these brethren certainly hadn’t seen (cf. v. 4). For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  47. When concluding his letter to the Gala-tianChristianswho(as mentioned earlier) were dealing with similar difficulties, Paulwrote,Letusnotgrowwearywhile doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we don’t lose heart (Gal.6:9). Peter, who also wrote to encourage suffering Christians, said, When you do goodandsufferforit,ifyoutakeitpati- ently, this is commendable before God.For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21).

  48. This is from a term that simply means lives; some versions translateitasminds. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  49. Being weary refers to tiredness, while being discouraged referstoexhaustion, that which results in givinguporquitting; Clarkeindicatedthat the original langu-agehereiswhatwas used of a contender inagame who yield-ed to his opponent due to weariness & exhaustion. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sin-ners against Him-self, lest you be-come weary and discouraged in your souls.

  50. Let me conclude by quoting Albert Barnes on this verse. Speaking of what Jesus endured, he wrote: The reference is to the Jews of the time of the Savior, who opposed His plans, perverted His sayings, and ridiculed His claims. Yet, regardless of their opposition, He per-severed in the course which He had marked out and went patiently forward in the execution of His plans. Then, paraphrasing it slightly for our purposes here, he went on to say…