Introduction – Hebrews

Introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a spiritually meaty letter sent to predominantly Jewish Christians within a few years of 65 A.D.  It is a veritable feast covering topics, such as, Jesus’ superiority in all things, God’s promised rest, the question of apostacy, the mysterious King Melchizedek, various biblical Covenants, the Tabernacle, Jesus’ priesthood, the Hall of Faith, the Christian race, Christian discipline, the Unshakable Kingdom and more.

Interestingly, we don’t know who wrote the Epistle, albeit written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The Epistle has been described as sermonesque.  Besides weighty spiritual themes, there are quotations from and the exposition of Old Testament passages.  There are also pastoral illustrations and spiritual warnings.  The Preacher, as the author is sometimes referred to, concludes the Epistle: “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation [preaching], for I have written to you briefly.” (Hebrews 13:22)

In addition to the topics listed above, here are some questions we will answer along the way.

Chapters 1-7

  • How can Jesus be the “image” of the “invisible” God?
  • Why did Jesus refer to himself as “Son of Man” more than, for example, “Son of God”?
  • What does Hebrews have in common with the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
  • If the earth is Jesus’ footstool, why are his enemies still causing evil throughout the world?
  • What is the Covenant of Redemption?
  • What is the mark of a genuine believer?
  • What is God’s rest, and how do we enter into it?
  • Is the word of God, which is described as a two-edged sword, the Bible or Jesus?
  • If Jesus was not a descendent of Aaron, the priestly line, how can he be a priest?
  • What did the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies typify, i.e., represent?
  • Can genuine believers apostatize?
  • Is apostacy the unpardonable sin?
  • Who was mysterious King Melchizedek, and why was he important?
  • Why did the kings of Israel come from a different tribe than the priests?
  • If Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice was unique, what does the word “all” refer to?

Chapters 8-10

  • What is the theme of the Covenants of Grace, specifically, the Abrahamic, Mosaic and New?
  • What is the origin of the bizarre cutting-of-a-covenant ceremony described in Genesis 15?
  • What is the relationship between the Abrahamic, Mosaic and New Covenants?
  • When Jesus died on the cross, why were “many bodies of the saints raised from the dead”?
  • If the Covenants were between God and Israel, what do they have to do with gentiles?
  • What was the Tabernacle and what does the word mean?
  • Who went into the Holy of Holies besides the high priests?
  • What day did the high priests enter the Holy of Holies?
  • What three items were in the Ark of the Covenant and what did they represent?
  • Why did the Day of Atonement sacrifice involve two goats?
  • What does the structure and function of the Tabernacle tell us about God?
  • What does the nature of the sacrificial system tell us about its ultimate effectiveness?
  • What are the three categories of sins in the Old Testament?
  • How did Judas, Peter and Paul exemplify the three types of Old Testament sins?
  • In the sacrificial system, what was more significant, the life or the death of the sacrifice?
  • Is a Covenant an agreement/contract or a will/testament?
  • Was there a seat in the Tabernacle, why or why not?
  • What are the three phases of sanctification?
  • What chapter in the Bible details the three phases of sanctification?
  • What is the difference between an apostate and a bride or a groom?
  • Why did the Preacher’s hearers “joyfully accepted the plundering of [their] property?”

Chapters 11-13

  • If faith is prospective, i.e., forward looking, in what way is it retrospective?
  • How does biblical hope differ from general, i.e., secular, hope?
  • Why was Abel’s offering accepted and Cain’s offering not accepted?
  • How does one become a friend of God?
  • What is the relationship between Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac and Jesus’ death?
  • How was God’s providence during Moses’s upbringing manifested later in his life?
  • Who are the “cloud of witnesses” described in chapter 12?
  • Why is it that Jesus, who was God and therefore omniscient, had to learn obedience?
  • What is the scope of God’s discipline of his children?
  • Was Esau an apostate?
  • What do Mount Sinai and Mount Zion represent?
  • What does a kingdom that cannot be shaken refer to?
  • Was the institution of marriage ordained by God before or after the fall?
  • How is it that false worship is often tangible worship?

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Technical Notes: Unless, otherwise indicated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV). Biblical quotes that are not from the passage of the day have citations, e.g., (Psalm 23:1).  Within quotes, words in [brackets] are used to help clarify the meaning of a verse relative to the context.