The primary object of our author in writing this Epistle, was manifestly to persuade his Hebrew
brethren in Christ to persevere to the end in their begun Christian course; and not to fall back
again to Judaism.
A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews
Prologue: The Superiority of God’s New Revelation (1:1–4)
The Superiority of Christ to Leading Figures under the Old Covenant (1:5—7:28)
Christ Is Superior to the Angels (1:5—2:18)
1. Scriptural proof of his superiority (1:5–14)
2. Exhortation not to ignore the revelation of God in his Son (2:1–4)
3. Jesus was made a little lower than the angels (2:5–9)
4. Having been made like us, Jesus was enabled to save us (2:10–18)
Christ Is Superior to Moses (3:1—4:13)
1. Demonstration of Christ’s superiority (3:1–6)
2. Exhortation to enter salvation-rest (3:7—4:13)
Christ Is Superior to the Aaronic Priests (4:14—7:28)
1. Jesus is the great high priest (4:14–16)
2. Qualifications of a priest (5:1–10)
3. Exhortation to press on toward maturity (5:11—6:12)
4. The certainty of God’s promise (6:13–20)
5. Christ’s superior priestly order (ch. 7)
The Superior Sacrificial Work of Our High Priest (8:1—10:18)
A New Sanctuary and a New Covenant (ch. 8)
The Old Sanctuary (9:1–10)
The Better Sacrifice (9:11—10:18)
A Call to Follow Jesus Faithfully and with Perseverance (10:19—12:29)
Having Confidence to Enter the Sanctuary (10:19–25)
A Warning against Persistence in Sin (10:26–31)
Persevering in Faith under Pressure (10:32—12:3)
1. As in the past, so in the future (10:32–39)
2. Faith and its many outstanding examples (ch. 11)
3. Jesus, the supreme example (12:1–3)
Encouragement to Persevere in the Face of Hardship (12:4–13)
Exhortation to Holy Living (12:14–17)
Crowning Motivation and Warning (12:18–29)
Conclusion (ch. 13)
1. Rules for Christian Living (13:1–17)
2. Request for Prayer (13:18–19)
3. Benediction (13:20–21)
4. Personal Remarks (13:22–23)
5. Greetings and Final Benediction (13:24–25)
Times were hard. The Romans ruled over the Hebrews, bringing them suffering and
persecution. If a Hebrew was also a Christian, then he would also suffer from the rejection of
his own family and friends. Having never met Jesus personally (2:3), the Hebrew Christian may
have found himself looking back to Judaism and the comfort of the temple rituals and the
acceptance of his countrymen. The author's missive reminds the immature Hebrew Christians
of the reasons to remain faithful to Jesus Christ who reigns supreme at the right hand of God (8:
1). As God's Son, Jesus is greater than any of the beloved prophets of old, greater than any
earthly priest and is the greatest king that ever reigned.
The key word of Hebrews is "better." It is used 13 times in comparing Jesus to Judaism -- 1:4; 6:
9; 7:7,19,22; 8:6 (twice); 9:23; 10:34; 11:16,35,40; 12:24. "Perfect" is used 15 times. Another
interesting list included in this book is the 13 "Let us ..." exhortations given to encourage the
recipients how to live their faith. You may want to highlight these words in Hebrews as we apply
this book to our lives today.
1:4 Christ is better than the angels
6:9 Better things that belong to salvation
7:7 The less (inferior) is blessed by the better (superior)
7:19 A better hope is introduced
7:22 Jesus is the surety of a better covenant
8:6 Christ is the mediator of a better covenant
8:6 New covenant established on better promises
9:23 Better sacrifices
10:34 Heaven a better substance or possession
11:16 Heaven a better country
11:35 They obtain a better resurrection or life
11:40 God had provided something better for us
12:24 Christ's blood speaks better things than the blood of Abel
2:10 Perfect through suffering
5:9 Being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him
6:1 Let us go on unto perfection (KJV)
7:11 If perfection had been obtainable by the Levitical priesthood...
7:19; 9:9 Law made nothing perfect
7:28 ...the Word of the oath... appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.
9:9 Sacrifices cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper
9:11 Greater and more perfect tabernacle
10:1 The Law and sacrifices cannot make perfect
10:14 His single offering has perfected for all time those who are sanctified
11:40 Old Testament faithful not made perfect apart from Christ
12:23 Spirits of just men made perfect
13:21 Make you perfect in every good work
4:1 Let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it (rest)...
4:11 Let us ... strive to enter that rest
4:14 Let us hold fast our confession
4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace...
6:1 Let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity
10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith
10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering
10:24 Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works
12:1 Let us also lay aside every weight and sin
12:1 Let us run with perseverance the race
12:28 Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken
12:28 Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe
13:13 Let us go forth with Him...
13:15 Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God...
5:11 - 6:12 Immaturity
6:6; 10:19-31 Rejection
12:25 - 29 Refusal to heed God's Revelation in His Son
Was Hebrews a letter, an essay, or a treatise?
BY WHOM WAS THE EPISTLE WRITTEN?
Some have ascribed it to Clement of Rome; some to Barnabas, the companion of Paul; some
to Silas or Silvanus; some to Apollos; some to Aquila; some to Mark; and some to Paul the
Apostle. These hypotheses have all been maintained by able critics, and with some show of
reason, as any may see by referring to Davidson’s Introduction to the New Testament, Alford’s
Prolegomena, or Stewart’s Introduction to this Epistle. But to my mind, it is quite evident that the
last of these is the only hypothesis that is really worthy of our consideration, because it is the
only one that is sustained by any reliable evidence.
A Commenatary on the Epistle to the Hebrews
It has been questioned whether Hebrews is rightly called a letter at all. Unlike all Paul's letters,
it opens without any personal note of address or salutation; and at the outset it sets forth, in
rounded periods and in philosophical language, the central theme which is developed
throughout. In this respect it resembles the Johannine writings alone in the New Testament.
But as the argument proceeds, the personal note of application, exhortation and expostulation
emerges more clearly (Heb 2:1; 3:1-12; 4:1,14; 5:11; 6:9; 10:9; 13:7); and it ends with greetings
and salutations (Heb 13:18 ff). The writer calls it "a word of exhortation." The verb epesteila (the
Revised Version (British and American) "I have written") is the usual expression for writing a
letter (Heb 13:22). Hebrews begins like an essay, proceeds like a sermon, and ends as a letter.
Deissmann, who distinguishes between a "true letter," the genuine personal message of one
man to another, and an "epistle," or a treatise written in imitation of the form of a letter, but with
an eye on the reading public, puts Hebrews in the latter class; nor would he "consider it
anything but a literary oration--hence, not as an epistle at all--if the epesteila, and the greetings
at the close, did not permit of the supposition that it had at one time opened with something of
the nature of an address as well" (Bible Studies, 49-50). There is no textual or historical
evidence of any opening address having ever stood as part of the text; nor does the opening
section bear any mark or suggestion of fragmentariness, as if it had once followed such an
Yet the supposition that a greeting once stood at the beginning of our document is not so
impossible as Zahn thinks (Introduction to the New Testament, II, 313 f), as a comparison with
James or 1 Peter will show.
So unusual is the phenomenon of a letter without a greeting, that among the ancients,
Pantaenus had offered the explanation that Paul, out of modesty, had refrained from putting his
name to a letter addressed to the Hebrews, because the Lord Himself had been apostle to
In recent times, Julicher and Harnack have conjectured that the author intentionally suppressed
the greeting, either from motives of prudence at a time of persecution, or because it was
unnecessary, since the bearer of the letter would communicate the name of the sender to the
My personal belief is that Paul wrote Hebrews. Others have suggest Silas, Timothy, Barnabas
or others; but the earliest evidence points to Paul, although it is composed differently than his
The date of composition is definitely before the destruction of Jerusalem; and more than likely
during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome.
Hebrews will be difficult for the individual who is unfamiliar with the Law to understand. More
than anything else the book contrasts the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. The continual
references to the Old Testament will be more difficult to understand and grasp with an
incomplete knowledge of the Old.
Hebrews contrasts a number of things from the Old Covenant with the New Covenant:
The revelation of God’s will was through the prophets of the Old Covenant, but we have the
gospel revealed through His Son.
The system of sacrifices and offerings of the Old Covenant was through the Levitical priesthood,
but we have the superior priesthood, the priesthood of all believers in Jesus Christ, in the
The Tabernacle made in the wilderness under the direction of Moses according to the pattern of
God was the reminder of the presence of God to the people of Israel, but we have a better
Tabernacle made without hands, the church – we as the people of God, that reminds us of His
presence and promises.
They had the blood of bulls and of goats to symbolize the promise of forgiveness under the Old
Covenant, but we have the precious blood of the Lamb of God to wash away not only our sins,
but theirs in the New Covenant.
Under the Old Covenant there was a remembrance of sin each year which promised the
forgiveness of sin, while under the New Covenant, we have the reality of the promise – the
cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus.
Under the Old Covenant the kingdom was physical (a physical king here on earth, a physical
boundary here on earth, a physical army here on earth) which could be touched and shaken by
the powers that be, we have a kingdom that is spiritual (the church) which no man nor power in
or under the earth can touch.
Faith becomes the answer which sustains and strengthens us, whether in times of comfort or
in times of difficulty and persecution.
Hold fast the confession of Faith 10:19-25
Faith defined 11:1-3
Examples of Faith 11:4-48
Endurance of Faith 12:1-29
Call to Faith 13:5-13
Faith is prominent in Hebrews.
With the persecution the church was facing from the Jews and the Romans, it becomes
important for them to understand the necessity of continuing on in the faith which they had
accepted, and not to give up.
Faith is the knowledge of God’s promise being true.
When you look at those who endured through the difficulties they faced in the Old Testament,
you see the type of person that Christians should be as they face persecution.
Faith, patience, strength and endurance go hand in hand.
Therefore, brethren, keep the faith – have faith.
Danger of Neglect 2:1-4
Danger of Unbelief 3:7-12
Danger of Not Maturing 5:12-6:6
Danger of Drawing Back 10:19-39
Danger of Refusing God 12:25-29
We Have A Better …
|The Superiority of the New Covenant
|Do not fail in unbelief, but continue in true faith