Notes on Hebrews

By

Dr. John W. McCormick

Copyright 1970

 

 

Introduction In many ways, Hebrews is the most magnificent book of the New Testament. Its language is some of the purest Greek in the N. T., and its logical arguments acme of the most scholarly and polished of all literature   

 

I.                   THE PENMAN -

 

The human authorship of this Epistle has been a subject of wide, and sometimes rather violent debate for generations. As a general rule, the discussion of’ the authorship of Hebrews generates more heat than light!...

 

The debate concerning authorship of this Book has been due to a number of reasons (which will be developed later); but the chief reason has been the fact that the book itself does not name its author, nor does it give any definite indication as to the people to whom it was primarily written. It is generally referred to as “The Epistle To The Hebrews,” but even this title is derived from an examination of the overall contents of the book, rather than from any specific statement within the Epistle    

 

Because of the wide controversy which has centered itself around the author.’ ship of this book, many different authors have been suggested; but no strong case has ever been successfully presented by which the question could be settled with any degree of certainty.

 

Some have suggested that the Epistle was written by Clement, Bishop of Rome, since his references to certain phrases in the book were the first over to appear in writing. This view has also been further “supported” by the fact that Origin, successor to Clement, once said that he had heard that the book was written either by Clement or by Luke. Origen further said that the thoughts were Paul’s, but the actual writing had been done by another.

                       

       But this view is unacceptable, because Eusebius, the “Father of Church History,” said that Clement himself once stated that Paul was the author, and that Paul originally wrote the Epistle in Hebrew, after which Luke translated it into Greek.[1]

 

Tertullian, Latin church father favored Barnabas as the author of Hebrews, and built a fairly strong case for his view. However, this view cannot be defended successfully, and therefore, is not held to any degree today.

 

Still others have suggested that the Epistle was written by Apollos, and some have even offered the idea that it may have been written by Timothy. It is our studied opinion that the human authorship of Hebrews cannot be decided on the evidence which is now available. One of the early church Fathers once said of the authorship of Hebrews: “As to who wrote it, only God knows. With this we would definitely agree.

 

On the other hand, the nature of the case demands some discussion as to whether or not Paul wrote the book, as fairly as possible, we present here both sides of this moot question:

 

A.                 Arguments for the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews:

 

1.  The overall purpose of the book is in harmony with Paul’s ministry.... That purpose was exhortatory (meaning to exhort the readers to do or not do certain things), and even those parts which are expository always lead up to the practical application and exhortation.



ANSWER:               For that matter, all doctrine in the N. T. leads to practical exhortation. The other N. T. writers demonstrate the same purpose in their writings. It seems to us that this purpose characterizes all the writings of the Bible. The entire Old and New Testaments were written for the purpose of furnishing believers with a Divinely inspi­red rule of faith and practice. Therefore, we consider this as an ex­tremely weak argument for the Pauline authorship of the Book’   

 

2.   The personal reference to Timothy, a protégé of Paul, argues for the Pauline authorship of the book.. ..This reference is found in 13:23,,..

 

ANSWER:               This is a strong argument, though not indisputable. For one thing, Paul’s favorite method of referring to Timothy was “my son, Timothy.” (I Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2;l)....For another, any other Apostle who was acquainted with Timothy could just as easily have made such a reference to him as that which is recorded in Heb. l3:23....Still an­other thing to be considered is the fact that the only other reference to Timothy as a “brother” (2Cor. 1:1) differs radically from this one in the original Greek....

 

But even with our three objections, we admit that this argument is not totally valueless....

 

3.   The similarities of thought between Hebrews and the recognized books of Paul argue for the Pauline authorship of Hebrews.         e.g.     

 

         Heb. 1:4  and Phil.2:9      

         Heb. 2:2  and Gal. 3:19....

         Heb. 2:10 and Rom.11:36.  

         Heb. 7.16 and Rom. 6;3.

         Heb. 7:27 and Eph.5:2      

         Heb. 8:13 and 2 Cor.3:11.

         Heb.10:33 and I Cor. 4:9      

         Heb.11:13 and Eph. 2:19....

         Heb.12:22 and Gal. 4:25, 26....

 

ANSWER:               We accept this as the strongest argument of all, but insist that it is entirely possible for different writers to entertain the same thoughts, and also to use similar methods of expressing them. It is only when the exact method is repeated that we then begin to look for the same pen as being responsible, unless we have definite proof to the contrary. Admittedly, therefore, this is a strong argu­ment.

 

4.   The emphasis upon the centrality of the Person and work of Christ argues for the Pauline authorship of Hebrews....No other N. T. Book places any stronger emphasis upon the centrality of the Person . and work of our Lord than does the book of Hebrews. It is this very em­phasis which has caused the book to be such a decisive blessing to God’s people through the ages.

 

ANSWER:               We agree that Hebrews is majestic because of this point of emphasis. This very fact has caused it to become one of the “high— points” of the Bible. But we suggest that the N. T. nowhere indicates that this emphasis upon the centrality of the Person and work of Christ was a prerogative of the Apostle Paul. 5urely, other men of the day also acknowledged this fact, and doing so, must have been compelled to speak about it. There are twenty sermons (or excerpts) recorded in the book of Acts — nine by Simon Peter, nine by Paul, one by 5tephen, and one by James — and each one of them is characterized by this very same emphasis Therefore, we conclude that this argu­ment leaves much to be desired....

 

5.   The reference to Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, 16 argue for the Pauline au­thorship of Hebrews....By his own testimony, Simon Peter directed his epistle to Hebrew Christians (I Peter 1:1). In his second epistle he emphatically states that Paul had written a previous letter to those same Hebrew Christians. This letter must have been our book of Hebrews, otherwise, the letter to which Simon Peter refers is now lost....

 

ANSWER: We recognize that Simon Peter directed His epistle to Hebrew Christians, and we also accept his testimony that Paul had also written

to those same Christians. But we ask the question: Why should we object to the possibility of that letter becoming lost, since we argue that Paul makes reference to some letters which are not in our New Testament7 (See: 2 Cor. 2:1—13; 7:6—12; 12:14; 13:1). We simply point out that the letter to which Simon Peter refers is not necessarily the book of Heb­rews. It may be, but not necessarily. . .For one thing, Simon Peter states that the theme of the book to which he refers was the longsuffering of Christ. But when one turns to the book of Hebrews, he certainly does not encounter this theme. As a matter of fact he does not even find the theme by remote implication. This difficulty alone (it seems to us) pre­sents a problem with regard to this argument.

 

B. Arguments  AGAINST The Pauline Authorship of Hebrews:

 

            These arguments are based, for the most part, upon certain things which are not found in Hebrews, and which one would naturally expect to find, if Paul were the author of the book.

 

1.  The salutation of “Paul” is missing. The book does not c1aim Paul as its author. This is strange, in view of the fact that all the recognized books of Paul have his name as the opening word; and also in view of the fact that Paul himself testifies in 2 Thess. 3:17 that his name in the opening words is his own “trademark” by which his writings could be dis­tinguished from those of forgers! If the reader will refer to 2 Thess. 2:2, ho will find that shortly after Paul founded the church in Thessalonica, a company of false prophets had come to the church bearing a forged letter which was supposed to have been written by Paul, and which con­tained rank heresy concerning the Second Advent of Christ. Naturally, this forged letter created much confusion among the believers at Thessalonica. When the news of this reached Paul, he wrote 2 Thessalonians in order to correct the heresy which had been spread in his name, and in so doing gave them a “token” by which, in the future, they could distinguish his letters from those of forgers. And in giving them that token, he specifically and explicitly states that his epistles “all” open with his name!

 

If Paul had not gone on record concerning his “trademark,” then the absence of his name in the book of Hebrews might be satisfactorily ex­plained; but once ho did commit himself in this matter, then we have a right to expect him to keep his word, or else give us some explanation as to why he had changed his mind!

 

Some expositors (such as the great B. H. Carroll), have attempted to explain the absence of Paul’s name in Hebrews by saying that he withheld his name because of the prejudice of the Jews against his ministry to the Gentiles. They say that Paul was afraid to affix his signature to Hebrews because it a~ ~ a mark against his calling to the Gentiles to be “caught” writing a book to Hebrew Christians

 

Perhaps we are as prejudiced in one direction as these teachers are in the other direction, but it seems to us that this argument (or “explanation”) is about as arbitrary as it is possible to get! Even assuming that Paul did write the book, we must remember that the book was written to Hebrew Christians (Heb. 3:1; 6:9,10; lOtl9, 34—39), and that these born again ones would not have been prejudiced against Paul because of his ministry to the Gentiles. It was the Judaizers, the “die—hards” of Jerusalem who were constantly agitating against Paul, and against Gentile Christians, not Hebrew believers in general.

 

Therefore, we believe that the omission of Paul’s name in the book of Hebrews can be explained best by the suggestion that Paul simply was not the author of the book. This explanation does not face the difficulty of explaining away Paul’s own claim as recorded in 2 Thess. 3:17; and it certainly does not face the awkward task of picturing Paul as indulging in a bit of literary skulduggery in order to hide his identity as the writer of the book!

 

2.   The salutations to individual Christians, a common practice of Paul, are missing. In all the recognized books of Paul, he delivered personal greetings to individual believers. Why did he not do this in Hebrews? This problem has been brushed aside by those who insist upon the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, but it still demands an answer. Some have attemp­ted to answer this by falling back on the previous explanation that since Paul was writing to Hebrews, and since he knew of their prejudice toward his ministry, he refrained from any personal greetings in order to remain anonymous. Now this “explanation” has apparently been satisfactory to many, but it does not satisfy us, because of a very obvious fact which can be easily seen in the book of Hebrews itself, namely, without a doubt the author of Hebrews, whoever he was, was known to the readers of the epistle! Moreover, the author had already spent some time with the read­ers, and was planning to spend more time with them in the future! To prove the foregoing assertion, the reader needs only turn to Hebrews 13:18, 19, 23.

 

In verse 18, the writer requests prayer for himself. There is no hint here that they were being asked to pray “blindly” for one whose name they did not know. As a matter of fact, even a casual reading of the verse gives the distinct impression that they were being asked to pray for one whose name they well knew!

 

In verse 19, the word “restored” stands out like a ham sandwich in a synagogue! If this does not mean he had already been with them en some previous occasion, then words do not mean anything.

 

In verse 23, the writer definitely implies that Timothy had been in prison, and that he had recently been released, and that his plans were to accompany Timothy in a few weeks at the most on a journey to the church to which the Epistle was written.

 

In the light of the internal evidence (and who would demand more au­thoritative evidence?), we set forth the following conclusions: First, if Paul did write the hook, then he deliberately departed from his common practice of sending personal greetings to individual Christians. Second, whoever the author was, he certainly must have known some of the believers to whom the epistle was written, since he had already spent time with them prier to the writing of the book. Third, the writer was planning to visit the church again in the very near future.

 

In the light of all this, why are there no personal greetings in Hebrews, if Paul wrote the book?   

 

3.   The status of Paul is not reflected in Hebrews. By this, we mean that the author of Hebrews clearly states that he was a “second—generation Christian” (Heb. 2:3). He speaks of himself as having received the Gos­pel by which ho was saved from those who were original disciples of Jesus.

 

However, in Galatians 1:11, 12, Paul magnifies the fact that the Gospel which ho preached was received by him by direct revelation! It is extremely difficult to see how the same person could have written Hebrews 2:3 and Galatians 1:11 and 12.....

 


4.   The style of writing is totally unlike the style of the great Apostle Paul. Even the most conservative Bible scholars and Bible students recognize the fact that the various books of the Bible — in both Old and New Testament — differ widely in the style in which they were written.[2] Ezekiel, both prophet and priest, wrote in the style most natural to a priest. Isaiah, of wealth and royal birth, wrote in the style most nat­ural to one of training and culture. Jeremiah, heart—broken and com­passionate champion of Israel, wrote in a style that often moves the reader to the same compassion and concern for the lost as that which burned in the heart of the writer. Simon Peter, big, rough, boisterous, high—tempered fisherman, writes in the simple untrained style of the very kind of person he was. Luke, medical man, trained in the techni­ques of his day, wrote in the normal, natural style of a physician. Paul, brilliant, keen witted Jewish Rabbi, wrote in the style most nor­mal to such a man.

 

Let the reader note, at this point, that while we teach and believe that the Bible was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, we recognize that the work of the Holy Spirit did net destroy the natural style in which each writer expressed himself. The Holy Spirit exercised absolute guidance upon each Bible writer with regard to the facts recorded, but He left the style of each writer relatively free.

 

Now, in stating that the style of Paul is notably absent from Heb­rews, we are not making an arbitrary statement. The matter of the difference in style between Hebrews and the recognized books of Paul can be expressed in a multitude of different ways:

 

a.    The difference in style can be seen in the use of language in general. The writer of Hebrews is a cool—headed master of his words. He pays meticulous attention to style. He carefully words each argument so as to appeal both to the reader’s ear and to his intellect. Unlike Paul, he presents one idea at a time; and before ha introduces a fresh thought, he carefully and skillfully prepares the reader for the new discussion.

 

Even a casual examination of any of the recognized books of Paul will show that the brilliant mind of Paul often held several ideas, all of which struggled for expression at the same time as he wrote.

 

 

Again, turning to Hebrews, we note that the writer avoids all digressions, and that ho has very little in the way of parenthetical expressions or statements. What few parenthetical statements that are found in Hebrews are extremely brief.

 

But how different is the style of Paul. His writings are filled with frequent digressions, and parenthetical statements, which some­times range so far afield as to “lose” the reader! Compare, for ex­ample the following passages from the recognized books of Paul: Rom. 2:13—15;    5:13—17; 9:1—11:36; 2 Cor. 6:2; 9:9,10; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 4:9, 10; Phil. 3:15, 19.

 

Again, the author of Hebrews differs from Paul in that he never mingles his sentence constructions; he never mixes his metaphors; and he never leaves a sentence unfinished. His entire Epistle is delib­erate, carefully worded, and skillfully polished. His style is that of a man, who thought and wrote in Greek; whereas, the style of Paul is that of a man who wrote in Greek, but who thought in Syriac.



Therefore, we insist upon raising this question: Why should Paul demonstrate one, uniform style in thirteen books, and then adopt an entirely different style for one book? This, along with a mountain of additional problems, is just one more indication that Paul did not write Hebrews.

 

b.    This difference in style can be seen in the use of words in particular. It is certainly not without significance that the book of Hebrews con­tains 153 important Greek words which are not found in ~ other New Testament book.[3] These are words which are used by only the author of Hebrews, and not by any other New Testament writer.

 

Once again, there are 205 words in Hebrews which are found elsewhere in the N. T., but not once in the recognized books of Paul.[4]

 

Now, if Paul wrote Hebrews, why would he make use of 153 import— and words in Hebrews, and then never make use of them in any ether book? Again, if Paul wrote Hebrews, why did he make use of 205 words which were so common that other New Testament writers used them fre­quently, yet Paul did not use them in any of his ether books~.

 

Some have attempted to eliminate this problem by saying that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to do this for reasons which He (the Holy Spirit) did not chose to divulge. Perhaps. . .But we still wonder if it would not be the simpler explanation to say that three words used only in Hebrews speak of the author as having been someone other than Paul?

 

    Even the references to our Lord differ in Hebrews as compared to the references to Him in the recognized books of Paul. Paul’s character­istic method of referring to Him was by the terms “Christ Jesus” and “our Lord Jesus Christ.” These formulas so characteristic of Paul are not found a single time in Hebrews. Also, the phrase “Jesus Christ” is found only three times in Hebrews (10:10 and 13:8), and the phrase “the Lord” (for Christ) is found only twice in Hebrews (2:3 and~ 7:14); yet these phrases are found over 600 times in the recognized books of Paul!

 

It seems to us that this is enough literary evidence to convince a Missouri mule

 

c.    The difference in style can be seen in the difference in emphasis in Hebrews as compared to that of the recognized books of Paul. In Heb­rews, faith is looked upon as being trust in the divine promises even before they are actually realized in personal experience; whereas, in Paul’s thinking, the emphasis was upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a means of justification. To put it another way, in Hebrews faith strengthened the saved one; and in Paul’s writings, faith brought sal­vation. Both agree that faith is the only true means of salvation; but Hebrews emphasized a “double—aspect” with regard to faith, namely, that God is, and that God rewards them that diligently seek him (11:6).

 

There is also an observable difference in emphasis between Heb­rews and the writings of Paul with regard to the Law. Both agree that one cannot be justified by keeping the law; but Paul places the empha­sis upon the depravity of man which makes it impossible for him to meet the Law standards, while Hebrews emphasizes the weakness and un— profitableness of the law itself (Ram. 3:9—23 and Heb. 8:6—13). Thus, Paul emphasized the imperfections of man, while Hebrews emphasizes the imperfections of the Law.



Again, there is a difference in emphasis as to the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ. This great fact emerges everywhere in the writings of Paul. It is assumed in Hebrews, but mentioned only once, and even that mention is rather indirect (Nab. 7:16).

 

Once mare, there is a difference in emphasis with regard to the relationship of Gentiles to the New Covenant. This fact (that the Gentiles have been made partakers of the New Covenant) is mentioned frequently by Paul, but never once appears in Hebrews.

 

Finally, there is a difference of emphasis as to sin. Both ac­cept the fact of sin and its effects upon man’s relationship to God; but Paul constantly emphasizes the origin of am, which is never treated in Hebrews.

 

d.     Finally, this difference in style can be seen in the manner in which use is made of the Old Testament.    Paul makes frequent use of the Old Testament, and so does Hebrews; but with a marked difference.   Paul quotes from both the Hebrew and Septuagint[5] Old Testament, while Heb­rews quotes only from the Septuagint.

 

Also, they differ as to the very formula used by which they in­troduce the quotations from the Old Testament. Paul’s formula of quo­tations is “It is written,” or “The Scripture saith,” but the formula used in Hebrews is “God saith,” or “The Holy Spirit saith,” or “One somewhere saith.”

 

5.   The sanction of the Pauline authorship of the book did not appear until late in the history of the church. There can be no question but what the book appeared without any name attached as the author. Moreover, it was circulated for 200 years among the Christians without any author’s name being associated with it. The first man to ascribe the book to Paul was Eusebius (A.D. 260— 340). The suggestion that Paul was the author was rejected until the 4th Century. Origin (A.D. 185—254) said: “Who wrote the Epistle, only God knows.” Because the book contained no author’s name, it was not included in the earliest Canons. e.g. The Canon of Marcion (A.D. 140); The Muratorian Canon (A.D. 170); and the Canon of Cheltenham (A.D. 360). The first Canon to admit the book was that of Athanasius (A.JJ. 367). Since then the book of Hebrews has been generally accepted as being a part of our New Testament.

 

The tradition regarding the authorship of Hebrews can be divided into three different positions;

 

a.  In Alexandria, it was regarded as, in some sense, the work of Paul. Both Clement of Alexandria and Origen regarded the Greek epistle as Paul’s only in a secondary sense. Clement held that it was origin­ally written by Paul in Hebrew (pure supposition) and later transla­ted into Greek by Luke. The testimony of Eusebius is inconsistent. He hold to a Hebrew original, and translation into Greek by Clement (Of Alexandria or of Rome?), and cited the letter as Pauline. At an­other time, Eusebius ascribed the book to some anonymous Writer. However, in spite of such differences of opinion, the Pauline tradi­tion persisted in Alexandria, and by the 4th Century it was fully adopted without any of the qualifications made by Clement and Origin.

 

b.  In the West (Africa), the tradition prevailed that Barnabas was the author. Tertullian (160—222) wrote: “There is also an ‘Epistle to the Hebrews’ under the name of Barnabas.” Clement of Rome quoted frequently from Hebrews, but did not name the Author. The Pauline —authorship was expressly denied by Hyppelytus (A.D. 165—240?). Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (A.D. 200—258), did not recognize the book at all.

 

For the most part, the Pauline authorship did not begin to gather many adherents in the west, until the 4th Century, and was not gener­ally accepted until the 5th Century, A Council of Hippo, in A.D. 393, handed down a queer decision in which it reckoned “thirteen epistles to the Apostle Paul, and one by same to the Hebrews.” Two Councils of Carthage (A.O. 397 and 419) reckoned “fourteen epistles to the Apostle Paul.”

 

c. In Rome, and the remaining churches of the west, the book was anony­mous. Here, no tradition concerning the authorship of Hebrews ap­peared before the 4th Century. Then the Pauline authorship of Heb­rews prevailed from the 4th to the 16th Century, when the Reformers again rejected it. Both Luther and Calvin rejected the Pauline authorship of the book. Finally, the Pauline authorship was again revived in the 17th and 16th Centuries, and since that time the opin­ion has been fairly evenly divided,

 

In concluding this discussion regarding the authorship of Heb­rews, let the reader note that we have raised a question here con­cerning only the human authorship of the book. There is no question with regard to the Divine authorship of Hebrews. We believe it was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit. We simply feel that the evid­ence for Paul as the human author is weak, and that the evidence against the Pauline authorship is of more weight than that which argues for it.  

 

II.    THE PERIOD —It seems that the scholars have also gone to at least two extremes in their views with regard to the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews. Some would set it as having been written very early. An early date seems very unlikely, in view of the fact that the writer of Hebrews apparently leaned quite heavily upon Paul’s Epistles (Galatians, Romans, and I Corinthians) as he wrote his own Epistle. If ho did so depend upon these epistles, then this epistle could not have been written before A.D. 56.

 

On the other hand, some scholars have attempted to argue for a very late date for the writing of Hebrews. But in view of the fact that Clement of Rome quoted from the book, the date of its writing could not have been later than A.D. 96. Moreover, there is no justification for the suggestion that the writer of Hebrews depended upon Josephus for some of his material.

 

Whatever date is settled upon, it must fall somewhere between the two extremes of an early and a late period. From the internal evidence within the book, we know that the Christians to whom the book was written were “second—generation” Christians (Heb. 2:3), and we know that the church had been in existence long enough for a rather advanced development (Heb. 5:12).           Also, we know that the church was old enough for some of its earlier loaders to be with the Lord (Hub. 13:7).             On the other hand, all the references to the Jewish temple and its services are in the present tense, which shows that the book was probably written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70   

 

All things considered, we would therefore date the writing of Hebrews as around A.D. 67—69, after the death of Paul, and before the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

III.   THE PROBLEMS — There was a two—fold problem among the Hebrew Christians which called forth the Epistle.

 

A.     The Danger of Returning to Judaism: Since the Christians to whom the book was written had come to a saving knowledge of Christ by faith in His atoning work, it seemed that the heretical Judaizers has been trying hard to persuade them to return to the old ways of observing the precepts of the Law.. .2:1—3; 3:6, 12—14; 4:1, 2; 6:4—6; 10:26—31..... 13.

 

      The Decline In Their Spiritual Progress: because they had been uncertain about their relationship to Christ, it seemed that the Hebrew Christians had net only failed to grow in grace, they had actually lost ground in their spiritual pro­gress: 5:11—14   

 

IV.      THE PURPOSES - The writer of Hebrews had a double purpose in view in the writing of the book:

 

A.            He wrote to Explain to them that Christ was the only source of acceptance with God. To do this, he expounds the present high—priestly work of Christ in great­er detail than any other New Testament writer, and thus shows them that the Old Covenant, to which they were in danger of returning, has been set aside in favor of the New Covenant. He argues that for them to return to the old ways would be a turning from the reality — which is Christ — to the shadow of the reality —which is the Law.

 

B.            He wrote to Exhort them to appropriate all they had in Christ, and thus to be­come mature and stable Christians. 5:11—6:20.

 

V.  THE PECULIARITIES —

 

A.The Peculiarity Of Its Construction:

                 This fact has already been touched upon an the discussion of the authorship of the book, but it should be emphasized again. The book of Hebrews is a master—piece of clear, logical development. The theme (to be discussed later) is declared at the very outset of the book, and then is developed in such a skilful and masterful way that every word of the book builds upon the theme. There arc no digressions, and only very brief (and very infre­quent) parenthetical interruptions. Each new thought is introduced only after the stage has been carefully set, and the reader has been thoroughly prepared. Someone has well observed that, “Hebrews begins like an essay, proceeds like a sermon, and ends like a letter.”

 

B.  The Peculiarity Of Its Many Key—Words:

 

       Each book of the New Testament is char­acterized by certain key—words which unlock the message and purpose of the book. But most of the New Testament books have one major key—word and a number of sub­ordinate key words which group themselves around the major word. Net so with Hebrews. This book abounds in key words, all of which stand in almost the same degree of importance to the overall message of the book:

 

1.       “Better” — If any of the seven great key—words of Hebrews can be design­ated as the major one, then perhaps this is the one. It rings out a

total of thirteen times:

 

    Better revelation — 1:1—3

    Better things — 6:19

    Better blesser — 7:7

    Better hope — 7:19

    Better covenant (testament) — 7:22; 8:6

    Better promises — 8:6

    Better sacrifices — 9:23

    Better substance — 10:34

    Better country — 11:16

    Better resurrection — 11:35

    Better thing for us — 11:40

    Better blood of sprinkling — 12:24

 

2.       “Perfection” — with its corresponding verbs and adjectives. This word also occurs thirteen times. NOTE: This word never means sinless per­fection. Rather, the Greek word means “to mature, to ripen, to fulfill.”



As used in Hebrews, it refers to a mature Christian experience in contrast to a rudimentary one  

— See: 2:10; 5:9; 6:1; 7:11, 19, 28; 9:9, Il; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 12:23; 13:21.

 

3.    “Eternal” — occurs five times (“Everlasting” — one time 13:20). In every case, it is used to contrast the permanent and abiding character of the New Covenant with the temporary character of the Old Covenant; 5:9; 6:2; 9:12, 14, 15; 13:20  

—See also the following synonymous words: 1:8; 5:6; 6:20; 7:17, 21, 24, 28; 13:8   

 

4.    “Heaven” — or “heavens” with its corresponding adjective “heavenly” — oc­curring a total of 16 times. It is used to show the exalted spiritual nature of salvation by faith, that it is more than a mere earthly religion:

“Heaven” — 9:24; 10:34; 12:23, 25, 26

“Heavens” — 1:10; 4:14; 7:26; 8:1; 9:23

“Heavenly” — 3:1; 6:4; 8:5; 9:23; 11:16; 12:22

 

5.    “Partakers” — occurs six times. In Hebrews, it is used to show that the realities of the “faith way” are not abstract theories, but matters of  real and actual experience. They are not blissful mystical experiences

that lie somewhere in the vague and shadowy future; they are present, satisfying realities:

“Partakers” — of flesh and bleed — 2:14

“Partakers” — of the heavenly calling — 3:1

“Partakers” — of Christ — 3:14

“Partakers” — of the Holy Spirit — 6:4

“Partakers” — of Divine Chastisement — 12:8

“Partakers” — of His holiness — 12:10

 

6.    “Having. . . .let us” — used to set forth the absolute necessity of appropriating all that we have in Christ:

See: 4:1, 11, 14, 16; 6:1; 10:19, 22, 23, 24; 12:1, 28; 13:13, 15...

 

7.    “Lest” — occurs eleven times. A word of warning. Speaks of the danger of failing to appropriate all they have in Christ:

                        See: 2:1; 3:12, 13; 4:1, 11; 11:28; 12:3, 13, 15, 16   

 

VI.   THE PROPOSITION —

 

Or the Theme of the Book is The Superiority of Christ. Every word In the book was written with this theme clearly before the writer. The book devel­ops this theme so fully that it hardly seems possible that anything could be said of It that has not already been treated in Hebrews by a master linguist. The opening words of Hebrews set forth the Superiority of Christ over the angelic messengers, and over the Old Testament prophets. His Superiority over Moses, over Aaron, over Melchizadec, and over the Old Testament priests fills the rest of the Expository Section   

 

VII.  THE PLAN —

 

A.  THE ARGUMENTATION (Doctrinal): EXALTATION OF CHRIST - 1:1-10:18

 

1.    Christ Superior in Revelation — 1:1—2:18

a. Superior to prophetic revelation — 1:1—3

(1) Their revelation was piecemeal — vs. 1

(2) His revelation was perfect — vss. 2, 3

(a) Because of His position — vs. 2

(b) Because of His Person — vs. 3a

(c) Because of His power — vs. 3b

(d) Because of His purging work — vs. 3c

(e) Because of His priesthood — vs. 3d



b. Superior to angelic revelation — 1:4—2:18

(1) Superior in Person — 1:4—14

(2) Superior in position — 2:1—8

(3) Superior in participation — 2:9—18

 

2.     Superior In Administration — 3:1—4:13 (Moses the Example)

a. Superior in His Relation to the Appointment — 3:1—4

b. Superior in the Range of His Authority — 3:5—14

c. Superior in the Results Accomplished — 3:15—4:13

 

3.     Christ Superior In Mediation — 4:I4—1O~l8 (Aaron and Melchizadec)

a. Because of His Qualifications — 4:14—7:25

b. Because of His Exaltation — 7:26—8:5

(1) His Impeccabi1It~’ — 7:26—26

(2) His Immanence — 8:1—S

c. Because of His Ministration — 8:6—10:16

(1) Based upon a bettor system — 8:6—13

(2) Performed through a better service — 9:1—22

(3) Accomplished by a bettor sacrifice — 9~T?~~1C1.l8

(a) Offered in the presence of God — 9:23, 24

(b) Offered once for all — 9:25—10:18

 

B. THE APPLICATION (DIDACTICAL): EXHORTION TO CHRISTIANS 10:19—13:19

1.     Exhortation to Fearlessness — 10:19—37

a. A Word of Exhortation — 10:19—25

b. A Word of Remonstration — 10:26—31

c. A Word of Reiteration — 10:32—37

 

2: Exhortation to Faith — 10:38—11:40

a. The Strength of Faith — 10:38—11:12

b. The Submissiveness of Faith — 11:13—40

 

3.     Exhortation to Fortitude — 12:1—13

a. Because of the Example of the Old Testament Saints — 12:1

b. Because of the Excellence of the Object of Their Faith — 12:2, 3

c. Because of the Exhortation to them as Sons of God — 12:4—13

 

4.     Exhortation to Fidelity — 12:14—13:17

a. The Meaning of Fidelity — 12:14—17

b. The Motivation to Fidelity — 12:18—29

c.    The Manifestation of Fidelity — 13:1—17

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS — 13:18—25

 


All rights reserved.  Copyright 1970. Used by permission.

 

Ronald D. Lesley

Fundamental Baptist Institute

832 S. Post Rd.

Shelby, NC  28152

 

www.fbinstitute.com/materials1.html



[1] Greek scholars are almost unanimous in saying that the Epistle bears no marks whatsoever of having been translated from Hebrew into Greek   

[2]  The word “style” simply refers to that characteristic mode of expression by which any writer or speaker can be distinguished from other writers or speakers.

[3]    Vincent, Marvin R., Word Studies In The New Testament, Vol. IV, Pages 577, 576

 

[4]    Ibid, Pages 579, 580

[5] The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The word Septuagint means seventy, presumably because the translation was originally made by seventy two scholars. The first part of the Septuagint was made about 250 B.C.