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Preached at Straightway Bible Church on March 9, 2014.  

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Introduction to Hebrews – Part 1

Brent Riggs – www.seriousfaith.com

Hebrews 6:1 (NKJV)  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God

  • The book of Hebrews reveals how the story of atonement reached its final fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ.
  • The OT is a series of foreshadowings; the book of Hebrews explains in detail how the atonement of Christ constitutes the actual story, the reality behind the shadows.
  • The author of Hebrews is unknown. Ultimately, of course, the author was the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).
  • The Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system were still in operation when the epistle was composed.
  • Since the temple was destroyed by General (later Emperor) Titus Vespasian in A.D. 70, the epistle must have been written prior to that date.
  • Suggested date: A.D. 67-69.
  • Emphases on the Levitical priesthood and on sacrifices support the conclusion that a community of Hebrews was the recipient of the epistle.
  • Possible locations for the recipients of the epistle include Palestine, Egypt, Italy, Asia Minor, and Greece.
  • Since the book of Hebrews is grounded in the work of the Levitical priesthood, an understanding of the book of Leviticus is essential for properly interpreting Hebrews.
  • The epistle to the Hebrews is a study in contrast, between the imperfect and incomplete provisions of the Old Covenant, given under Moses, and the infinitely better provisions of the New Covenant offered by the perfect High-Priest, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.
  • A better hope, testament, promise, sacrifice, substance, place to live, and resurrection.
  • One of the key theological themes in Hebrews is that all believers now have direct access to God under the New Covenant and, therefore, may approach the throne of God boldly (4:16; 10:22).

The book of Hebrews may briefly be summarized in this way: Believers in Jesus Christ, as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin, have the perfect High-Priest through whose ministry everything is new and better than under the covenant of law.

  • Hebrews is intensely practical in its application to everyday living. The writer refers to his letter as a “word of exhortation” (communication emphatically urging someone to do something
  • Those exhortations are given in the form of 6 warnings:
    • Warning against drifting from “the things we have heard” (2:1-4)
    • Warning against disbelieving the “voice” of God (3:7-14)
    • Warning against degenerating from “the elementary principles of Christ” (5:11-6:20)
    • Warning against despising “the knowledge of the truth” (10:26-39)
    • Warning against devaluing “the grace of God” (12:15-17)
    • Warning against departing from Him “who speaks” (12:25-29)
    • A proper interpretation of this epistle requires the recognition that it addresses 3 distinct groups of Jews: believers; unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel; and unbelievers who were attracted by the gospel and the person of Christ but who had reached no final conviction about Him.
  • The primary group addressed were Hebrew Christians who suffered rejection and persecution by fellow Jews (10:32-34), although none as yet had been martyred (12:4).
  • Try to imagine yourself as a Jew embracing a Messiah, which your leadership has rejected.
  • The Christian persecution in those days did not come from Rome; that was coming; it was from the Jewish leadership. Christians were an outcast, part of a weird sect. And you were being persecuted.
    • The superiority of the Messiah over Judaism by focusing the three pillars of Judaism: the role of angels, the role of Moses, and the Levitical priesthood under Aaron.
  • By far, the most serious interpretive challenge and controversial verse is found in 6:4-6. There are three schools of thought:
  • One, the passage is talking about truly saved Believers who then lost their salvation.
  • Two, they were NOT truly saved…. Once enlightened refers to someone who has given mental ascent to the facts of salvation but not necessarily taken the step of faith to receive it.  They KNOW the truth, but have not acted on it.
  • Three, these were saved believers. They were once enlightened; they tasted the heavenly gift; they were partakers of the Holy Spirit; they tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come.
  • Equally sincere, intelligent, faithful and Godly men hold to all three views.

Summary

  • Jesus is the new and better deliverer in the first seven chapters.
  • The God-man is better than the angels in the first two chapters.
  • He is an apostle better than Moses in the third chapter.
  • He is a leader better than Joshua in the fourth chapter.
  • And he is a priest better than Aaron in the last part of chapter four.

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