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Hebrews

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Introduction and Chapter 1

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Introduction**

Today we move into the Book of Hebrews.

The book itself was probably written sometime between 64-68 AD.

It was definitely written prior to 70 AD.
We know this because the letter insinuates that the Temple was still in full use.

Now, who wrote it?

We don’t know … it’s one of the mysteries of the New Testament that persists into today.

There is some tradition that points to Paul as the author.
But most Bible scholars would point out that the style of writing is different from Paul’s other letters …
… and there is no personal greeting at the beginning.
In 58 AD, Paul was in a cell in Caesarea, having been falsely accused while in Jerusalem.
He remained there for 2 years.
He was then taken to Rome and under house arrest until 63 AD when he was released.
In 64 AD and 65 AD, it was likely that Paul was headed even further west to Spain and maybe even as far as the British Isle.
And then in 66 AD, Paul was back in prison in Rome.
He would remain in prison until his execution in 68 AD.
In his letters, it was normal for Paul to mention his location, his imprisonment, or say hello to his friends in ministry.
But in Hebrews, there is no formal mention about the location of the author.
And in Hebrews, there is mention of the author’s imprisonment in chapter 10 and then also in chapter 13.
And in the closing of the letter in chapter 13, the statement, “Those from Italy greet you.”
We know that Paul was imprisoned in Rome, Italy from 60 AD to 63 AD and again from 66 - 68 AD.
There is also a mention of Timothy in the closing chapter.
Of course, just because he is mentioned it doesn’t mean Paul was the author.
In fact, the writer refers to Timothy as “our brother” while Paul often referred to him as “a son.”
The reference in chapter 13 reads:
Hebrews 13:
Hebrews 13:23 NKJV
Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.
It seems to indicate that the author of this letter was expecting Timothy to join him and then visit the recipient of the letter together.
Whether that is after some confinement Timothy was under OR that he has been released from some duty he was attending to, it’s hard to say.
We do know that Timothy was with Paul during Paul's imprisonment.
3 of the letters written by Paul while he was a prisoner (Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon) mention Timothy.
If Timothy was imprisoned, , would say that Timothy was released before Paul.
So again, the question is “What was Timothy released from?”
Albert Barnes says that Timothy wasn’t released from prison, but released from obligations to Paul while in prison to see congregations that Paul was concerned about, such as Philippi.
But Aristarchus () and Epaphras () were both in prison with Paul, so it isn't hard to imagine that Timothy may also have been imprisoned for a period of time.
Aristarchus () and Epaphras () were both in prison with Paul, so it isn't hard to imagine that Timothy was also arrested for a period of time.
As to why Timothy was in prison, we don't know.
The most likely is that it had something to do with teaching the gospel.
Also notice that the author refers to him as “our brother Timothy” which sounds a lot like Paul from and .
So, that might seem to indicate Paul as the author.
The problem then, is the date.
If an early date of 64-65 AD is appropriate for the letter, then it’s plausible that Paul is the author.
If a later date of 67-68 AD is true, that would seem to indicate Paul is NOT the author, since he would have been in prison for his second time.
During his 2nd imprisonment Paul did not expect to be released, as we know, and would not have expected to travel to see anyone with Timothy.
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The fact that the author ministered with Timothy is not conclusive evidence, either.

As we’ve seen from Paul’s letters, he was not the only person whom Timothy ministered with.

There are whole lists of mutual acquaintances with whom Timothy may have ministered from time to time.
So, Paul is a very good possibility, but there is no conclusive evidence that he is the author.
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Other suggestions include Barnabas and Apollos as well as Luke.
Each of these guys would have ministered alongside Timothy at times.
If Stephen had not been martyred, he would be a prime candidate for authorship … the theme of the letter follows very well with his speech from .
In chapter 11 there is a personal pronoun used that indicates the author was male, but other than that, it’s all educated guesses and conjecture.

One thing we can make a “more than educated guess” about is that the author was Jewish.

His knowledge of the temple, it’s rituals, and his deep concern for the Jewish nation give this away.
My personal opinion is that this letter was written by Paul and I believe there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest this.
However, I could also be convinced it was written by Apollos.
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Another important consideration is who this letter was written TO.

One thing that is often used to reject Paul’s authorship is the lack of an introduction.

There is no, “The apostle Paul to …” that indicates a particular church or people to which this was written.
As I mentioned earlier, this is obviously written to Jews who were familiar with the Temple ritual system.
But, there are reasons to believe that the letter was not written directly to Jews living in Jerusalem … so, not necessarily the Jerusalem church.
First,
First, the author quotes exclusively from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) rather than the Hebrew Old Testament.
Second, the believing Jews in Israel were poor, but the recipients of this letter were able to be generous toward other Christians as we see in chapter 6.
Third, and perhaps most notable … chapter 2 states that the recipients of this letter did not experience the ministry of Jesus first hand.
So then, this letter was intended for Jews who met these criteria.
We also know that the recipients of this letter were believers.
They were worshipping in churches with a leadership structure (we know this from the concluding remarks, “Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints.”
They had come to faith through the testimony of those who were eyewitnesses of Christ.
Chapter 5 lets us know that they had been believers for some time but they were stunted in their growth.
Chapter 10 says that they had endured tribulations and reproaches.
But the tenor of the book suggests that they were either willing or almost willing to lapse into Judaism or merge Judaism in with their faith in order to avoid persecution.
Taking these things into account, I believe that we can deduce whom this letter was written to.
This letter was written to Hebrew Christians who were scattered outside of Israel.
When the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 BC, the Hebrew inhabitants were scattered all over the Middle East.
Later, when Nebuchadnezzar deported the Judaeans in 597 and 586 BC, he allowed them to remain in a unified community in Babylon.
Another group of Judaeans fled to Egypt, where they settled in the Nile delta.
So from 597 onwards, there were 3 distinct groups of Hebrews:
A group in Babylon and other parts of the Middle East,
A group in Judaea, and
A group in Egypt.
Now, Cyrus the Persian allowed the Judaeans to return to their homeland in 538 BC, but most chose to remain in Babylon.
And all of these Jews retained their religion, identity, and social customs.
The Persians and the Greeks even allowed them to run their lives by their own laws.

In 63 BC, Judaea came under the protective hand of Rome.

More and more Rome’s protection became oppression and many believing Jews living in Jerusalem began to move away.

And in 70 AD, Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple was destroyed.
These Jews of the Diaspora would have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for at least the 3 pilgrimage feasts: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
And there were many represented at Pentecost (Shavuot) when the church was born with the proclaiming of the Gospel.
Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot
As we discussed in our study of Titus, there were Jews who returned to Crete having accepted Christ.
This would have been the case among many of these groups of Jews living outside of Israel.

In 63 BC, Judaea came under the protective hand of Rome.

More and more Rome’s protection became oppression.

For the most part, prior to 70AD in the Roman Empire, the Jewish faith was allowed, but the Christian faith was heavily persecuted.
It would be tempting to go back to Judaism or to try to merge Christianity with Judaism in order to avoid persecution.
This letter was written to Jewish believers living in the Roman Empire, outside of Israel, between 64 AD and 70 AD who were backsliding.
Now, certainly this letter would have spoken important truths to Jewish believers in Israel as well.
But by the time this letter was written, there were very few believers left in Jerusalem.
There were large populations of Jews throughout the Roman Empire.
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And as Rome tightened it’s grip on Israel, more and more were leaving to live elsewhere.
And in 70 AD, Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple was destroyed.
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So then we’ve covered the date this letter was written.
We’ve talked about who might have written it.
And we’ve figured out who this letter was likely written to.
Now, for the purpose of the letter.
For this, let’s recognize that there is a Greek word used throughout this letter … κρείττων kreittōn which means “Better.”
The word occurs 12 times in these 13 chapters.
And what is described as “better” is not a what but a Who … Jesus.
Jesus offers a better revelation … a better position … a better priesthood … a better covenant … a better sacrifice … and a better power.
He is a better priesthood.
He
And the author seizes upon this theme in order to prevent the recipients of this letter from giving up the substance for the shadow by abandoning Christianity and returning to the Judaic system.
There is also a secondary theme of exhorting the readers to become mature in Christ.
This letter contains deep theological truths and solemn warnings about falling away from the faith.
Because of these two themes, there is a heavy emphasis on doctrine … primarily christology and soteriology.
Christology is quite simply the study of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
It’s goal is to answer questions like:
Is Jesus God and did Jesus claim to be God?
Is the virgin birth important?
Who is Jesus?
Is Jesus fully God and fully man?
What is the significance of the deity of Christ?
Christology is important because a Biblical understanding of Jesus Christ is crucial to salvation.
Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation.
Soteriology examines how Christ's death secures the salvation of those who believe.
It’s goal is to examine the doctrines of redemption, justification, sanctification, propitiation, and substitutionary atonement.
Understanding Biblical Soteriology will help us to know why salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
This letter contains deep theological truths and solemn warnings about falling away from the faith.
So, lots of great things ahead for us as we study verse by verse through this Epistle to the Hebrews.
In verse 22 of chapter 13, the author calls this letter, “a few words.”
Of course, coming out of Philemon, this certainly doesn’t seem like a short letter, having 13 chapters.
Just to read the letter aloud it would take more than an hour.
But we’re here to read and hear God’s Word … and to study and learn from it, so we’ll take a good long while to study through this book.
We had communion this morning and we have Agape Feast after service, so let’s dig in.
Prayer: Lord, as we embark to study your Word, we ask that our hearts would be open to receive all that You have to say to us. We desire to be hearers and doers and for You to lead us in Your ways. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

v1-2

The very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible uses the phrase, “Then God said” many times over.

God spoke with Adam and with Eve directly.
God also spoke indirectly through the created world.
Psalm 19:1 NKJV
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
God spoke, “Through the forefathers by (literally ‘in’) the prophets.”
In Jewish thought, the greatest of the patriarchs is Abraham.
the greatest of the patriarchs is Avraham avinu (Abraham our father). Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob are called ha-avot (the fathers). We look to these figures for personal and spiritual identity.
Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob are called ha-avot (the fathers).
In word and deed, these ancestors spoke with authority and clarity about life’s most important matters.
spoke with authority and clarity about life’s most important matters. Some of these people were set apart by God and called nevi’im (prophets).
Some of these people were set apart by God and called nevi’im (prophets).
The prophets told Israel what God expected of them, but also told them what they could expect of God.
But afterwards He began speaking
But afterwards He began speaking
told us what God expected of us, but also strengthened us through telling our people what we could expect of him.
These “words of God” are recorded for us in His written Word, the Bible.
But afterwards He began speaking
And verse 2 says that in these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son.

There is a deliberate comparison being made here between what was before and what is now.

From the Old Testament with it’s laws and it’s system of constant sacrifices to cover sin TO the perfect sacrifice of Christ that is able to atone for sins once for all.

A once-for-all fulfillment that is better than the promise.
From promise to fulfillment.
Romans 8:3 NKJV
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
Romans
With that phrase, “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,” Christ is presented as the ultimate Word of God.
As the fullness of the Word, Christ was superior to the authentic but partial revelation of God in the law.
In this letter we will see this worked out masterfully in the themes of temple, priesthood, sacrifice and covenant.
In this letter we will see this worked out masterfully in the themes of temple, priesthood, sacrifice and covenant.
In this letter we will see this worked out masterfully in the themes of temple, priesthood, sacrifice and covenant.
In this letter we will see this worked out masterfully in the themes of temple, priesthood, sacrifice and covenant.
Hebrews 11:40 NKJV
God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Hebrews 11:40 NIV84
God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
What was before was wonderful, but incomplete.
In contrast, the revelation of these last days has come … the message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
One of the common misconceptions of our day is the belief that the Old Testament is dominated by the theme of the judgement of God and the New Testament by that of the love of God. In fact, both themes run together in both Testaments and reach their highest fulfilment in the New. That fits with verse 2 and its reference to God speaking by his Son ‘in these last days’. That phrase ‘in these last days’ is shorthand for the whole era of grace in which we live, between the first and second comings of Christ. All roads in the Bible lead to him and revelation is complete in him. Beyond him the church’s task is to interpret these truths within the context of our day, but there is no further new revelation from God. He has spoken finally in Jesus Christ.
In this letter we will see that worked out supremely in the themes of temple, priesthood, sacrifice and covenant. ‘God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect’ (11:40).
Guthrie, G. (1998). Hebrews (p. 46). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
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There is a phrase we should look at more closely here.

That phrase ‘in these last days’ is shorthand for this era of grace in which we live, between the first and second comings of Christ.

Jewish teachers divided time between the present age and the age of the Messiah.
This was likely the intent of the author of Hebrews … to express a time distinct from what came before.
It expresses a time distinct from what came before.
The end of the old era.
And the people of Israel were looking for something better to come.
One of the common misconceptions of our day is the belief that the Old Testament is dominated by the theme of the judgement of God and the New Testament by that of the love of God. In fact, both themes run together in both Testaments and reach their highest fulfilment in the New. That fits with verse 2 and its reference to God speaking by his Son ‘in these last days’. That phrase ‘in these last days’ is shorthand for the whole era of grace in which we live, between the first and second comings of Christ. All roads in the Bible lead to him and revelation is complete in him. Beyond him the church’s task is to interpret these truths within the context of our day, but there is no further new revelation from God. He has spoken finally in Jesus Christ.
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Beyond him the church’s task is to interpret these truths within the context of our day, but there is no further new revelation from God. He has spoken finally in Jesus Christ.

The not so distant past for the Jewish readers of this letter had been discouraging.

Following Israel’s captivity in Babylon, hopes were revived for the return of the visible manifestation of God.

But the prophecies by Haggai (2:7) and Zechariah of God’s dwelling glory returning to a rebuilt Temple … well, they had not panned out.
In Haggai, chapter 2 reads:
Haggai 2:7 NKJV
and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.
And in , it reads:
And in , it reads:
Zechariah 6:12–13 NKJV
Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’
Zechariah 6:
But God was speaking of much later when Jesus, God made flesh, would be present in the Temple and also of the Millennial Temple.
But they did not recognize this and after the prophecies, there were 5 centuries of frustration to follow.
In the generation before Jesus’ time, revolts and other bloodshed took the lives of more than 100,000 Jews.
In 31 BC., an earthquake had killed another 30,000.
Severe famine and pestilence also took many lives.
Herod the Great taxed the people relentlessly, a blight which continued long after his death.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Rome’s already iron grip tightened.
And as the Jewish people more and more struggled against the oppression, things grew more and more difficult for the Israelites.
In 63 AD, the Jews appealed to Nero not to allow Gentiles to control Caesarea.
in 63 AD, the Jews appealed to Nero not to allow Gentiles to control Caesarea.
The decision that Rome made would be the spark that ignited the sacking of Jerusalem.
7 years later Jerusalem would be under seige and fall.
And the Temple of Herod would be destroyed by fire … just 7 years after it’s final completion.

During this time in Israel, messages of hope were rarely heard.

Despair was everywhere.

The average person was tired and felt hopeless … they ached for relief, something to lift up their spirits.
It was into this situation that the writer of Hebrews urged his readers to look at Messiah differently from the usual way.
In this depressing situation, the writer of Hebrews urged his readers to look at Messiah quite differently from the usual way, as the coming liberator.
The most prominent Jewish expectation associated with Messiah was the exaltation of the Davidic throne.
This would be accompanied by a golden age of peace and joy.
But no rabbi anticipated the magnitude of his glory as it is expressed here in the opening sentence of Hebrews (1:1–4).
The commonly held Jewish views of the Messiah needed to change.
He is no mere king.
He is not some super-David.
Rather, God had identified with man by becoming a man.
And in Messiah and through Messiah, God had spoken most conclusively and completely.
Nothing remained to be said … look at verse 3.

v3

We didn’t talk about this earlier, but verse 2 reveals a couple of things about Jesus that we need to recognize.
The coming kingdom belongs to Jesus.
Jesus has been appointed “Heir of all things.”
This constitutes a promise that one day all things will be set right.
in 63 AD, the Jews appealed to Nero not to allow Gentiles to control Caesarea.
He will inherit and purify this world at His next coming, and then create a new heaven and a new earth.
Jesus has been appointed “Heir of all things.” He will inherit and purify this world at His coming, and then create a new heaven and a new earth. He is Heir to all, and this constitutes a promise that one day all will be fully God’s.
Creative power belongs to Jesus.
The decision that Rome made would be the spark that ignited the sacking of Jerusalem.
Creative power belongs to Jesus (). Jesus is the One who spoke, and in speaking caused our whole vast universe to appear. Jesus is the One who billions of years ago acted to shape stars so distant that astronomers can only guess at their existence.
He is the One who spoke our whole vast universe into existence.
Also, Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power.
7 years later Jerusalem would be under seige and fall.
In other words, the sustaining of all things is according to His power.
This is what we would call the Doctrine of Providence.
This doctrine states that God is in complete control of all things.
Over the universe as a whole … all things.
It contradicts any idea that the universe operates on chance.

To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things.

How does this operate in conjunction with human free-will?
That’s complicated and I’m not sure that anyone can fully grasp it.
But the Bible teaches both … and Jesus expressed both in
Luke 22:22 NKJV
And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Jesus said that He goes to the cross, “as it has been determined” and He also says, “woe to that man by whom He is betrayed” … that is Judas.
So, there is a balance … divine providence and man’s free will.
These early Christians had a tremendous grip of the doctrine of providence. They did not think of God as creating the world and then leaving it to itself. Somehow and somewhere, they saw a power that was carrying the world and each life on to a destined end.
Believing Jewish readers of this book did not think of God as creating the world and then leaving it to itself.
God is in control,
Instead, they saw a power that was carrying the world and each life on to a destined end.
The next phrase is, “When He had by Himself purged our sins.”
The Pharisees of Jesus’ time generally made good works and self-effort the measure of purification from sins.
But the author here says that Jesus “by Himself purged our sins.”
Purged here is the Greek word καθαρισμός katharismos meaning “purification.”
Specifically, it speaks of ritual purification … that His sacrifice was according to the Old Testament requirements of the law.
How was it according to the law?
The law required a lamb for sacrifice:
Exodus 12:3 NKJV
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
John the Baptist declared of Jesus that He was, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Do not read below:
John 1:29 NKJV
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
The Law required blood atonement:
Leviticus 17:11 NKJV
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Hebrews chapter 9 speaks of the blood Christ Himself spilled saying:
Hebrews 9:14 NKJV
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9
The law required a sacrifice without blemish.
Deuteronomy 17:1 NKJV
“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God.
And, as we just read in , Christ “offered Himself without spot to God.”
The law required a priest to make atonement:
Leviticus 4:20 NKJV
And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
The author of Hebrews points out something important about the priesthood:
Hebrews 7:23–24 NKJV
Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
Hebrews
We really could go on and on for quite a while with these comparisons … such as the law of the Kinsman Redeemer and Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover.
But the point is that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to purify sinners from their sins.
And Jesus did not come to make the Old Testament law invalid.
He Himself said:
Matthew 5:17 NKJV
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Jesus fulfilled the law (having no sin) and met the criteria for the perfect sacrifice for sin.
But something else is very important … and that is His resurrection and ascension.
However, there were aspects of that Law, such as animal sacrifices, that would not continue because Jesus fulfilled them and instituted a new covenant.
And this takes us to the next phrase in verse 3:
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High

Because He lives, He has a permanent priesthood.

Therefore, he is able to save to the uttermost everyone who comes to God through Him … He ever lives to intercede for them.

It is one single sacrifice for all that can never be added to or be repeated.
This has great implications for our salvation.
The message of Biblical Christianity is faith in Christ plus nothing equals salvation.
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone for God's glory alone.

Our great High Priest is seated; therefore we have the security of a finished work of atonement.

Colossians 1:15 NKJV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
God has accepted the work of Christ.
We know this because He raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
God would not have raised Jesus from the dead if He had not accepted the sacrifice.
He would not be in the presence of God the Father in heaven interceding on our behalf if His sacrifice was not perfect.
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When the author speaks of Jesus seated at the right hand of God, he is thinking of what is written in .

Christ is seen "waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet" ().
Do not read below:
Hebrews 10:13 NKJV
from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
Christ is busy interceding on our behalf.

He actually quotes from several times later in this letter … including the end of this chapter.

But He is also patiently waiting until the very last person to be saved trusts in Him for salvation and then He is coming in glory.
Christ is busy interceding on our behalf. But He is also patiently waiting until the very last person to be saved trusts in Him for salvation and then He is coming in glory. He is not sitting in heaven wringing His hands. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing.
But here there is great similarity to :
He is not sitting in heaven wringing His hands. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing.
Psalm 110:1 NKJV
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
Christ is seen "waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet" … a connection the author makes in
And the Temple of Herod would be destroyed by fire just 7 years after it’s completion.
Creative power belongs to Jesus.
Hebrews 10:13 NKJV
from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
So, Christ is busy interceding on our behalf.
But He is also patiently waiting.
As Peter put it:
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Seated speaks of a finished work … the sacrificial work is done.

It also speaks of high honor.

There is only one reference to Christ standing in heaven.
There is only one reference to Christ standing in heaven: when Stephen saw the Son of man in heaven he saw him standing at the right hand of God (). This refers to his work of intercession, not his work of sacrifice. Sin has been dealt with, but the people of God still need an intercessor to plead for them—another theme developed later in this letter.
We see it in , … when Stephen saw Jesus in heaven, he saw Him standing at the right hand of God.
His standing refers to His ongoing work of intercession rather than His work of sacrifice.
Sin has been dealt with, but the people of God still need an intercessor to plead for them.
This is another theme developed later in this letter.

v4-5

We had Communion this morning and we’ve got Agape Feast coming up, so we’ll start wrapping up our study here.
But of course we’ll pick it back up where we left off next week.

Verse 4 concludes the introduction and sets up the next section.

The theme being: The Son is superior to the angels.

Now, that should come as no surprise given what we’ve just studied in regards to Jesus.
In the sentences that came before, the author demonstrated that Jesus is greater than the forefathers and greater than the prophets.
Now the author wants to demonstrate Jesus’ superiority over the angels.
Why does the author do this?
The reason was that people came to think of the angels as intermediaries between God and human beings.
As the Heir of all things, Christ has a greater inheritance and thus a greater name.
They felt more and more the distance and the difference between God and themselves. The result was that they came to think of the angels as intermediaries between God and human beings. They came to believe that the angels bridged the gulf between God and men and women; that God spoke to them through the angels and the angels carried their prayers into the presence of God.
They came to believe that God spoke to them through the angels and the angels carried their prayers into the presence of God.
This is an idea that needed to be defeated because:
1 Timothy 2:5 NKJV
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
And so, with verse 5, the author starts with a question, “For to which of the angels did God ever say?”
And so, with verse 5, the author starts with a question, “For to which of the angels did God ever say?”
Hebrews 1:5 NKJV
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?
This question is meant to be rhetorical … he’s not looking for an answer … instead, he’s making a point.
There is no angel to whom God has said, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You” and “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son.”
Extra-Biblical texts among The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that the concept of the Messiah as God’s Son was an aspect of at least some Jewish thinking even prior to any formal Christian doctrine or creeds.
There are many passages in the New Testament that deal with the Sonship of Jesus Christ such as , , , , , and .
Jesus’ designation as Son carried on into the preaching of the Gospel, such as in :
Acts 9:20 NKJV
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
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In verse 5, the author of Hebrews quotes from .

That Psalm actually deals with the concerted rebellion of the nations and their rulers against God and His Anointed One.

And the second quote is from and are the words of the prophet Nathan to David, promising a future offspring with an eternal kingdom.
But here, the focus is on the Sonship of Jesus and his better position above the angels.
The title “Son of God” belongs uniquely to our Lord Jesus Christ.
belongs uniquely to our Lord Jesus Christ
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 281). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Jesus Christ has always been God the Son.

v6

From eternity, Jesus Christ was God the Son. He humbled Himself and became Man (see ). In His resurrection, however, He glorified that humanity received from the Father and received back the eternal glory He had veiled (, ). The Resurrection declares: “Jesus is God’s Son!” ()
In His resurrection, however, He glorified that humanity received from the Father and received back the eternal glory He had veiled (, ).
The Resurrection declares: “Jesus is God’s Son!” ()
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: Greater than Angels (Hebrews 1:4–2:18)

From eternity, Jesus Christ was God the Son. He humbled Himself and became Man (see Phil. 2:5–6). In His resurrection, however, He glorified that humanity received from the Father and received back the eternal glory He had veiled (John 17:1, 5). The Resurrection declares: “Jesus is God’s Son!” (Rom. 1:4)

As the Heir of all things, Christ has a greater inheritance and thus a greater name.
As the Heir of all things, Christ has a greater inheritance and thus a greater name.

The author is continuing his line of reasoning that Christ is greater than the angels.

He does so by quoting from the Septuagint.

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament dating from around 200 BC.
In , God the Father calls Christ “My Son.”
As the Heir of all things, Christ has a greater inheritance and thus a greater name. In , God the Father calls Christ “My Son,” a title He would not give to angels. (In the OT, the angels collectively are termed “sons of God,” but this title is not bestowed on them individually.) refers to Christ’s resurrection, not His birth at Bethlehem (see ). Christ was “begotten” from the virgin tomb when He was raised from the dead. calls Him “the first-born from the dead.” The second quotation refers to Solomon; read all of carefully, for the “house” of David comes up again in Hebrews. David wanted to build a house for God, but God decreed that Solomon would do the work. God promised David that He would be a Father to Solomon; and applies this promise to Christ, who is “greater than Solomon” ().
It was written at a time when the Greek language was becoming more and more common and there was a need for a translation that was accessible to more people.
Now, if you turned in your Bible to in the KJV or NKJV, it doesn’t read this way.
That’s because it is taken from what’s called the Masoretic Text, assembled by the Masorites.
They took it upon themselves to correct faults introduced into the text during the Babylonian captivity.
Because the text as it is in the LXX is also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and here in Hebrews, scholars believe that the missing words were likely dropped in an overzealous attempt to eliminate polytheistic language.
the missing words were likely dropped in an overzealous attempt to eliminate polytheistic language.
The DSS, LXX, and thus represent the more original reading.
This doesn’t mean you can’t trust your Bible.
With the exception of a couple of places, both the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal an amazing consistency with the Masoretic Text.
And newer translations like the ESV tend to correct this.
Back to the text … The term “firstborn” in the Bible does not always mean “born first.”
This is a title He would not give to angels.
Rather it was more of a title, carrying with it position of authority but also of responsibility.
And throughout the Bible, we find situations where those who were born first did not have the title of “firstborn.”
Think of Isaac and Ishmael or Jacob and Esau, Moses and Aaron, or David and all of his brothers.
In fact, in the passing down of David’s kingdom, God made Solomon the firstborn even though Solomon is listed tenth in the official genealogy of David’s sons in .
God made Solomon the firstborn even though Solomon is listed tenth in the official genealogy of David’s sons in 1 Chronicles 3.
The term “firstborn” in the Bible does not always mean “born first.” God made Solomon the firstborn () even though Solomon is listed tenth in the official genealogy (). The title is one of rank and honor, for the firstborn receives the inheritance and the special blessing. Christ is the “Firstborn of all creation” (, nasb) because He created all things; and He is the highest of all who came back from the dead (). When He came into the world, the angels worshiped Him (quoted from in the LXX: “Heavens, rejoice with Him, let the sons of God pay Him homage!”). God commanded them to do so, which proves that Jesus Christ is God; for none of God’s angels would worship a mere creature.
refers to Christ’s resurrection, not His birth at Bethlehem (see ).
The title is about rank and honor.
In the culture of that day, the firstborn receives the inheritance and the special blessing.
Paul wrote in Colossians that Christ is the “Firstborn of all creation” because He created all things.
Do not read below:
Colossians 1:15 NKJV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 1:15–16 NKJV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Paul also said in Colossians that, Christ is the highest of all who came back from the dead.
Do not read below:
He is the highest of all who came back from the dead ().
Colossians 1:18 NKJV
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
And here we read that, “The angels of God worship Him” … and indeed, when Jesus was born into the world, the angels worshipped Him.
God commanded them to do so, which proves that Jesus Christ is God; for none of God’s angels would worship a mere creature.

v7

Christ was “begotten” from the virgin tomb when He was raised from the dead. calls Him “the first-born from the dead.” The second quotation refers to Solomon; read all of carefully, for the “house” of David comes up again in Hebrews. David wanted to build a house for God, but God decreed that Solomon would do the work. God promised David that He would be a Father to Solomon; and applies this promise to Christ, who is “greater than Solomon” ().

The author has very well established the superiority of Jesus Christ over angels.

And he presses the point with this quote from Psalm 104.

This is a quotation from .
This is a quotation from .
The Hebrew and Greek words for “spirit” Ruach and Pneuma are also translated “wind.”
Angels are created spirits; they have no bodies, though they can assume human forms when ministering on earth.
Angels sometimes served our Lord when He was on earth as we see in and .
And they serve Him and us now.

v8-9

In some false cults this quotation from is translated, “Thy divine throne,” because cultists dislike this strong affirmation that Jesus Christ is God. But the translation must stand: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

The author quotes from here.

And in doing so, his point is that angels minister before the throne; they do not sit on the throne.

The original context of referred to the marriage feast of some king of Israel.
But it was widely recognized to have a greater meaning and was regarded as Messianic.
And it is in this sense that the author quotes it.
Christ’s throne is eternal and His rule is characterized by righteousness … not just an indwelling righteousness, but righteousness guaranteed by rule.
One of the main teachings of is that Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed (Messiah, Christ), is now enthroned in glory.
One of the main teachings of is that Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed (Messiah, Christ), is now enthroned in glory.
Jesus Himself referred to this important psalm (; ), and Peter used it on the Day of Pentecost (). Our Lord has not yet entered into His earthly kingdom, but He has been enthroned in glory ().
Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary (i) Christ Is Superior in His Nature (1:5–14)

The original context of the psalm was quite different, referring to the marriage feast of some king of Israel. Yet it was widely recognized to have a much more extended meaning and was in fact regarded as Messianic. It is in this latter sense that it is here quoted.

His anointing with the oil of gladness (a Greek word that means exultation) … speaks of favor.
And “more so than Your companions” means that He has favor above anyone else.
Angels praise Him, but they cannot share that position or that joy.
Our Lord’s throne is forever, which means He is eternal God.
He is both King and High-Priest … these are themes that the author is developing.
The Greek word Christos and the Hebrew word Mashiach both mean “Anointed One.”
The idea of anointing is important to this epistle which teaches the high-priesthood of Jesus.
All the priests of Aaron’s line were anointed on taking office.
Angels praise Him, but they cannot share that position or that joy.
Angels praise Him, but they cannot share that position or that joy. Our Lord’s throne is forever, which means He is eternal God.
Our Lord’s throne is forever, which means He is eternal God.

v10-12

This long quote comes from .

The angels are a part of creation.

Jesus Christ is the Creator.
One day He will do away with the old creation and bring in a new creation.
He is greater than the angels … He is greater than everything that has been created.
Everything around us changes, but He will never change.
says that He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” ().
Do not read below:
Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Creation is like an old garment which will one day be discarded in favor of a new one.

v13-14

was in the mind of the author of Hebrews at the beginning of the letter and He quotes the Psalm here.

The fact that Jesus Christ is now at the Father’s right hand (the place of honor) is mentioned many times in the New Testament.

Angels are the ministering spirits who serve the Lord seated on the throne.
He is greater than the angels … a point that the author has made very well and is now concluding.
But we might wonder … where do we fall into this equation?
If those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior are saved and adopted into the family of God, where do we fall into the hierarchy of things?
And part of their ministering to Jesus is their ministry to us who are the “heirs of salvation” through faith in Christ.
But they also minister to us who are the “heirs of salvation” through faith in Christ.
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The author has very well established both in reason and in reference to scripture that Jesus is greater than the angels.

So why do we need to know this?

After all, no one worships angels today, do they?

Well, actually if you spend time watching Christian television it won’t take long before you come across someone who speaks more about angels than about Christ.
You’ll see people teach about summoning angel armies.
You’ll see teaching about revival angels.
Angel’s that give jewels
Angel’s that bring prosperity (if you send enough money in.)
And so forth.
- Popular culture talks a lot about angels.
But not anymore. Angels have infiltrated the popular culture
- New Agers teach that Angels can bring meaning and purpose into our lives and teach methods for contacting them.
It should seem obvious to any well-instructed Christian that placing such focus on angels is improper.
Actually, there are quite a few people who place things in between them and Christ.

But what about placing anything between us and Christ?

There are quite a few people who place things in between them and Christ.
Worshipping anything other than Jesus does the same thing - worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.
It is both idolatrous and ineffective in accomplishing anything.
Today people worship themselves, nature, systems of thought, and even supernatural beings, whether they be other supposed gods or fallen angels.
Jesus is greater than all these things and in Him alone is salvation.
Jesus is
As it says in chapter 2, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.”
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Next week, we will see that not only is Jesus greater than angels - but that God’s purposes are not about angels.
His salvation and work is focused on us.
And we’ll see the dangers of ignoring that work.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for believers and for Your church. Lord, we ask that You fill us with all truth through Your written Word. Inspire our witness of Christ, that all may know the power of His forgiveness and the hope of His resurrection. Reveal to us, Lord, if we have allowed anything to come between us and Jesus. Give us eyes for You only. Help us in all our dealings with one another to have humble and gentle hearts. Grant us patience for one another, bearing with one another in love. May we walk humbly with You, God, allowing You to direct us in all we do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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