Warning Against Apostasy

Hebrews 5:11-6:12

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The focus of the writer of Hebrews is, “Do not fall away!” Some suppose it means a born-again Christian could lose their salvation, but the best analysis is that all believers in Jesus can, at some point, lose their zeal and commitment. And this second-generation Jewish believers in Jesus were not living in the awakening days of the apostles; no, this is a “normal” time.

2.         The author encourages believers to move past the basics, as they are already turned from disbelieve to belief doing good works. No need for concerns about “washings” or baptisms, which many continued to do, and which was customary in the Qumran Community. Also “laying on of hands,” for all sorts of reasons like healings, commissioning, symbolic of ordinations, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

3.         However, if one fell away, if it was possible to lose one’s salvation, there would be no hope of regaining this. But, the author goes on, “yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. And actually, they had demonstrated their work and love by their “serving the saints.” Indeed, this is written by someone who has a deep pastoral love to those he or she is writing to.

4.         In conclusion, the author or authors (notice the “we” in verse eleven) desires the readers to show continued zeal,  devotion, and hope until the very end of all things.

5.         Though the author of “Hebrews” openly mentions the “back slidden” condition of the readers, this is done for the best of reasons.

6.         The message of Hebrews rings down through the centuries. Yes, there are times of awakening and revival, but also there are the regular times, times like we are experiencing now. Thus, even more so, we must be diligent, learning, studying, working, and obeying the laws of love and devotion.

7.         That this book is in our Scripture is so very important since all Christians experience times of difficulty, times when we lose our closeness and fellowship with Jesus and His Church.

Jesus the Great High Priest

Hebrews 4:14–5:10

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.              Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, followed by many through the centuries. All of these died and were replaced. These only entered in the Holy of Holies once a year.

2.              Jesus, our Great High Priest, has passed through the heavens, this referring to the resurrection. The author of Hebrews then goes on to speak of the qualifications for Jesus being the eternal High Priest.

3.              The 1st is the Son’s divine appointment; no higher authority could there be.

4.              The 2nd qualification is that He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and this due to the incarnation, the God-Man.

5.              The 3rd qualification is that though fully man and God, He is without sin

6.              The 4th qualification is that Jesus did not exalt Himself, but was appointed to be High Priest.

7.              The 5th qualification is that Jesus is High Priest forever, “after the order of Melchizedek”, the priest of Salem (think Jerusalem), whom Abraham honored and paid tithes to. (Psalm 110:4) This priest, mysterious, had no priests before or after him.

8.              The 6th qualification is that He “learned obedience” by way of suffering, and here the indication of the crucifixion.

9.              The 7th qualification is that Jesus is made “perfect,” again referencing both the resurrection and ascension.

10.           The 8th qualification is that now Jesus as High Priest, is “the sourced of eternal salvation.”

11.           The 9th qualification is that God the Father has designated Jesus to be a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, and Melchizedek prior to the days of Aaron and Moses and the whole of the priestly establishment.

12.           Of significance is that the Levitical (priestly) law provided only temporary forgiveness, and this once a year, on the Day of Atonement, or in Hebrew, Yom Kippur. Jesus, the eternal high priest, His sacrifice, stands forever.

A Rest for the People of God, part 2

Hebrews 4:1–13

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The “pastoral” author of Hebrews continues his or her exhortation, which is essentially an “encouraging word.”

2.         The focus is on the “rest,” on the one hand the rest of being in the Promised Land under Moses’ leadership, and the “rest” the believer in Jesus has.

3.         In Moses’ time, those who escaped from Egypt, a type of being in sin and slavery, rebelled once in the Wilderness and as a result died there and never entered their rest, the Promised Land. Joshua (and the name is the same as the name Jesus) brought those who survived, those under 20 years of age, into Canaan, the Promised Land. All this is a foreshadowing of what would come centuries later by means of salvation in Jesus the Messiah.

4.         For the Jewish Christians being addressed in our book Hebrews, it is clear that they may enter into their rest, the Sabbath rest, by seeking to enter that rest.

5.         It is plain, in the use of various verbs in our passage, that the author is strongly encouraging his or her readers to continue to seek the “Sabbath rest for the people of God.” The author will not know who is genuinely born again and who is no in the congregation (s), being addressed.

6.         The pastoral plea is: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.” (verse 11) This reminds us of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!” Paul fully expects a “yes” answer.

7.         Verse 12 in our passage is one of the most difficult in Scripture. Here the author uses three poetic and literally devices commonly used in that era, about division being impossible apart from the Spirit, or Logos, of God. Meaning that God knows who belongs to Him and who does not. The author is confident that the readers will come to see they are at rest. 

A Rest for the People of God

Hebrews 3:7–19

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

  1. The back story for this passage, and indeed much of Hebrews, is found in Numbers 14:1–35. The forty year (or one generation) wandering in the wilderness following the miraculous exodus from bondage in Egypt is in the mind of Hebrew’s author.
  2. Despite the deliverance, the people now free longed for the comparatively easy life under pharaoh. Seemingly at every turn, the complaints directed at  Moses were heard by their Deliverer. The people were hardening their hearts.
  3. The author applies this to Jewish Christians in the second generation of the Church, around 80 to 95 CE. He or she urges them not to “harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness.”
  4. As a result, these wanderers never entered into the Promised Land, Canaan, but the second generation did so under the leadership of Joshua. Moses, the giver of the Law could not bring them in, but Joshua (Jesus is the same name) did. We see here once again the story of salvation embedded into the history of Israel.
  5. We must ask, is it possible that some in that early Christian fellowship were unconverted? This is always a possibility, even a probability. And this is why it is vital that each Christian make an examination into their spiritual condition.
  6. But then, a second issue, can a truly converted, born again person, be caught up in sinful rebellion. Indeed, who among us have not faced such temptation, even failure.
  7. The writer of Hebrews implores: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” Here is a call to fearless confession of sin and a humbling of ourselves before a holy God.
  8. It is the will of God that we enter into His rest, that is, ceasing to attempt to save ourselves, but relying only upon the finished work of Jesus.
  9. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).


Jesus Greater Than Moses

Hebrews 3:1–6

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

  1. The great patriarchs of Israel are Abraham and Moses, and it was Moses who was instrumental in the exodus from Egypt, was there when God gave the 10 commandments, and then brought the people of Israel to the entrance into the promised land. Indeed, Moses “was faithful in all God’s house.”
  2. The author of Hebrews is writing to Jewish followers of Messiah Jesus, who he refers to as the “apostle and high priest” of our confession. Apostle, meaning one sent, and high priest, meaning the one who stands between us and God and brings us into His presence.
  3. Previously, the author of Hebrews showed how Jesus is superior to angels (chapters one and two). Indeed, as God’s Son, Jesus is superior to Moses also, which is what is meant by writing “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” And “glory” has to do with the very presence of God.
  4. Moses, in all that he did, directing the Passover event with the slaying of the Lamb, the deliverance from the Egyptian evil, the receiving of the Law—Moses was faithful in his calling.
  5. Moses’ ministry prophetically pointed to something future, he testified “to the things that were to be spoken later.”
  6. Now Messiah Jesus, Yahweh’s saving Son, like Moses was faithful over the things of God, His people, but “as a son.” And the son has the same nature as the Father, as had been at the very core of the created world.
  7. The letter’s writer states that “we are his house” by holding fast our faith and hope in Jesus, and it is highly likely that we will, which is the meaning of the “if” clause in verse 6.
  8. The community of the faithful will believe and hope in the son.

The Founder of Salvation & The Suffering of Jesus

Hebrews 2:5–18

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Though we do not know who the author of Hebrews is, we do know he or she is Jewish, a second generation Christian, writing at a time when the Church is no longer experiencing the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit as did the first generation, that of the Apostles.
  2. There were no written “Gospels” as yet, except for maybe Mark, and for decades more, most of the Gospel telling was oral in nature.
  3. Plus, no creed had been developed, and there were no schools or seminaries. No church buildings had been built, the believers were meeting outdoors and away from the general population.
  4. The persecution under Nero would be in recent memory. Paul and the other apostles were dead as well, with the exception of John, who was in exile by Roman authority.
  5. Satan, and his demons, oft disguised as angels (see 2 Corinthians 11:14), had infiltrated the believer’s gatherings and where busy spreading lies as to the core of the Gospel message.
  6. At center the misrepresentations had to do with who Jesus is. The lie is that Jesus is merely an angel, thus not the incarnate God, thus His death on the cross is not the atoning sacrifice for sin. Again, we see the devil aims squarely at the central reason for the incarnation, that of the Word, the Son of God, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
  7. Because Jesus is indeed both as we are, fully human, and not as we are, fully God as well, He was tempted as we are, and this is illustrated in the passage in Matthew 4. A sinful Jesus could not atone for our sin, and so Satan would pretend to give up all to see Jesus stumble and fall.
  8. But no, He did not, and He lives and reigns for us who are tempted.

The Lawless one

The Man of Lawlessness

2 Thessalonians 2:1–12

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. The man of lawlessness or the lawless one is the antichrist spoken of in 1 John 2, which has been with us from the beginning but will make a dramatic re-appearance just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus.
  2. In Revelation 13 we read of a beast and a second beast, one of which is the antichrist and the other, the second beast, is the antichrist’s representative.  And, yes, this is variously interpreted.
  3. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 we find a rebellion takes place that has the power of being able to deceive even Christians. And this just prior to the Second Coming, and Paul warns that this return of Jesus has not yet occurred. Before that day, the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, shows up and succeeds is such a way that it is widely worshipped. This creature proclaims itself to even be God and is accepted by many.
  4. This lawless one is already present and active, Paul says, as we also see in 1 John 2, but is restrained in some manner and many commentators believe by the working of the Holy Spirit through the living, worshipping Body of Christ.
  5. A most curious statement is, “Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” (Note the words in bold, my emphasis. I have no explanation for this.)
  6. The upshot, that the lawless one will be revealed, and at this point is the return of Jesus who “will kill” and make it nothing.
  7. The lawless one is equipped by Satan with “power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception.”
  8. Many, maybe even most, will be attracted to the antichrist. These are not born-again Christians but are those “who are perishing.” And the word “perishing” does not mean their existence comes to an end.
  9. Amazingly, God sends to these perishing ones a strong delusion, which serves to make them believe that which is false.
  10. These perishing ones are those who “had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Are we living in these days? Yes and no is my answer, but we are not yet at the grand finale.

Warning Against Neglecting Salvation

Hebrews 2:1–4

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Hebrews is written to a group of Jewish Christians, likely in Rome, somewhere between 80 and 95 CE, and written by an unnamed second-generation Jewish Christian.
  2. The writer previously, chapter one, corrected a theological error to the effect that Jesus is an angel and nothing more. Such error would not be unusual in that day, and such error is common among many Christian cults and contemporary occultism groups today.
  3. There is indeed the possibility that some might “drift away.” This does not mean a loss of salvation, for it is true that “once saved always saved,” but we Christians can be troubled, abused, disregarded, and more, which may easily result in drifting away, even if just for a time.
  4. The falling away may have been that some, living in that debauched era, would miss their old sins, and return to the “world.” And in a pastoral kind of way, the writer of Hebrews wants to reach out to these.
  5. The born again true believer in Jesus will suffer the consequences, the natural not specific, consequences, of such rebellion and ignorance. Our Bible author hopes to prevent this.
  6. Though this second generation Christian experience was not as full of “signs and wonders and various miracles” as the first generation, that of the Apostles, and Paul, and more, still they are called to be faithful people in the midst of a corrupt world.
  7. This complex Hebrews yet speaks to us today as we are living in what are called “normal times” and not revival times with it’s out powering’s of the Holy Spirit. This calls for even more faith and faithfulness.

The Supremacy of Christ, part 2

Hebrews 1:5–14

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. In this passage are 7 quotes from the Hebrew Bible. The author of Hebrews likely would have memorized all of these as few had access to the written Scripture.
  2. The subject of these verses has to do with the contrast between angels and human beings, especially in regard to Jesus. Angels are created beings, while the Son is not.
  3. Spiritual groups both then and now, make an angel out of Jesus, and one well know Christian cult makes Him out to be Michael the archangel.
  4. In language we are not accustomed to, the author of Hebrews makes it plain, and poetically, that the Son is uncreated, that His throne is forever.
  5. To say of the Son, “sit at my right hand” means that this Son is of the same nature as the Father.
  6. Angels are “ministering spirits” sent out into the world to serve those who “are to inherit salvation.”
  7. We must focus on the word “inherit.” Here we see the Gospel of grace as the original intent of God. No one earns an inheritance; this is only given out and received.
  8. The point of our passage is the supremacy of Christ over the angels. From early on, angels have been worshipped instead of the Creator God. This continues to this day. We read of this reality in 2 Corinthians 11:14–15: “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”


The Supremacy of God’s Son

Hebrews 1:1–4

The Prologue

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

1.         As to the author, the date written, and to whom “Hebrews” is addressed—all questions are yet debated today. My guess is that the author is Barnabas, written between 55 and 65 CE, and to a Jewish-Christian population in Palestine, Rome, Alexandria, or Ephesus. Clement of Rome commented on it in 95CE in his letter to the Corinthian church. A clue as to the date is that the Fall of Jerusalem in 70CE is not mentioned.

2.         The reason for this sermon (it is more pulpit oratory than prose composition), which is the best Greek in the New Testament, is that some within the group written to were who were either “Christianized” thus not truly converted, or some who were disappointed that the “kingdom” had not fully come and were “tottering” due to persecution.

3.         Verses 1 to 4 consists of one long sentence. The revelation the Writer speaks of is not of two parts but one, and begins with the earliest biblical revelations in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and most concretely with “our fathers by the prophets.” This may refer to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, and then the great later prophets, Elijah, Isaiah, and so forth.

4.         Now the last prophet has come, the Son, who inherits all things, even through whom the universe has been created. The Son, in the economy of the Trinity, is not creator, the Father is creator, but the Son is present.

5.         The Son is of the “exact imprint of his nature.” (see John 1:1–3, 14:8–11; Galatians 4:1–7, and Colossians 1:15–20) The Son “upholds” the universe by the word of his power — a phrase that is too very grand we may never fully comprehend it.

6.         The whole of this is that the Son makes purification for sins, a very Jewish statement, and means that the Son as a sacrifice atones for sin.

7.         After having finished His work, he “sat down,” meaning having completed this greatest of all work, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, a means of declaring the deity of the Son.

8.         No angel could perform this work, only God, the Messiah, could, and did.