Book of Hebrews

Hebrews is noteworthy for the fact that it is written using some of the finest Greek of any book of the New Testament. Even so, it is badly translated in parts, particularly in chapter 9. The true authors of the Epistle have always been a mystery, but only the unparalleled genius of Paul can account for the brilliance of thought contained throughout the epistle, though he definitely co-wrote it with someone else, perhaps Apollos or Barnabas who contributed “few words,” but apparently penned the actual document. It may have been written to a Messianic community in Alexandria.

It is likely this epistle was Paul’s final thesis to outline how Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism and its sacrificial system. The intended audience was apparently observant Christian Jews, and the book was in no way, shape, or form written for the consumption of Gentile Christians! It must be understood only within the context of a Jewish milieu, and divorced from Western thought. To do otherwise invariably leads to confusion and misunderstanding of the text, particularly in the case of the 6th chapter, which speaks about those who apostatize from the faith and cannot return.

The occasion of its writing seems to be at a time when Jewish Christians were facing persecution for their faith, perhaps from both the Jewish and pagan communities. In such circumstances, some were leaving the faith and returning to traditional Judaism, while others were being banned from the Jewish community and were concerned that somehow their sins weren’t being covered since circumstances prevented them from initiating the animal sacrifices mandated by the Torah. To counter the concern, the writers explain in detail that all Temple sacrifice pointed to the atonement of Christ, and that--now and forever--the ultimate sacrifice for sin has already been accomplished, making the Temple rituals no longer efficacious. In fact, those who now return to that system in the belief that animal sacrifice can atone for sin have now rejected salvation altogether by denying the atonement of Christ that all these sacrifices pointed to! The repeated theme of the book is to illustrate how the New covenant of the Messiah is “better” than the Mosaic covenant ever was.

Finally, Gnostic beliefs about the Aeons, an angelic race of demigods whose realm was between earth and heaven, may account for the repeated references to the subordinate role of angels to Christ in the Book of Hebrews. The epistle was written somewhere around 65-67 AD.

Note: Some points must be made about the word suneidesis, translated as “conscience” throughout this epistle. The word refers to the ability to make moral and intellectual judgments between right and wrong, and the intrinsic sense of being convicted over failure; or feeling confident in one’s standing with God. The writer appears to use it in a variety of ways herein, some of which seem to correspond more comfortably to modern phrases like inner man or sinful nature than simply conscience as we understand it, and the paraphrase will make use of these phrases to help impart the writer’s meaning more clearly in our language.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;1

3 Who being the brightness of his glory,2 and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?3

6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.4

10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

1 God, who at different times and various ways, spoke in times past to our ancestors through the prophets,

2 Has, in these last days, spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed to inherit all things, and through whom He also created the [physical and spiritual] worlds and ages.

3 He is the radiant glory of God (--the Shekhina--) and the perfect reflection of God, sustaining all things by the awesome power of his spoken word. When he, single-handedly, purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of Majesty on High,

4 Being exalted so much more than any of the angels, because he inherited a more excellent position of authority than they.

5 For when did God ever say to a mere angel: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And: I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

6 God also said, when He sent His firstborn into the world: And let all the angels of God worship him.

7 But regarding angels, God said: ...who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

8 In comparison, He said about His Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

10 And: Thou, Lord: In the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

13 And when did God ever say to any mere angel: Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?!

14 So then--aren’t angels (simply) ministering spirits sent forth to aid those who will be the heirs of salvation?

1. The writer immediately points out that the Messiah has been given pre-eminence over all spiritual entities, and that the entire cosmos--and even time and the events in it--was created or ordained by Him.

2. “Brightness of his glory” is a means of conveying that Christ came forth from the very essence of God Himself. This terminology is used because in Jewish thought when Moses and various Patriarchs saw “God,” what they actually saw was the Shekhina of God that radiated forth and took human form upon the earth. The parallel to Christian thought about Christ being God manifested in the flesh is obvious. This does not necessarily mean that the concept of the Shekhina is correct theology; it means only that the writer was using concepts his readers would have understood.

3. We see in verses 4-8 an answer to the heresy taught by groups who claim that Jesus is an angelic creature, albeit the chief angel in heaven: The writer repeatedly makes a distinction between angels and the Messiah.

4. Verses 8-9 are a quote from Psalm 45:6.

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?1

5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.2

6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10 For it became him3, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;4 that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;5

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.6

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.7

1 Therefore, we should keep careful watch on remaining firmly anchored to the things we have heard, lest at any time we get apathetic or begin to forget, and one day find we have drifted onto the shoals of catastrophe!

2 For if the decree spoken by angels (at Sinai) held full authority, and every transgression and disobedience of it resulted in justifiable punishment,

3 How shall we escape (judgment) if we ignore such a great (means of) salvation that was proclaimed first by the Lord and then confirmed to us by those who heard him personally?

4 God also confirmed their testimony with signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit as He willed to do.

5 Also, keep in mind that God has not planned for the angels to have charge over the Age to come which we speak of.

6 For in the Scriptures, God said through David: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. Now in God’s saying that He had put “all things” under subjection to man, He obviously left nothing out of subjection to him (--including all angelic beings). But at the present time, (while things are positionally under man through Christ,) we do not actually see them under his practical authority yet.

9 What we do see is Jesus, who was made a little weaker than the angels so that he could suffer physical death, now crowned with glory and honor, so that he--because of God‘s grace (toward us)--should taste death for every mortal man.

10 For it was appropriate to God, to whom all things belong, and by whom all things were commanded to come into being, to make the agent of mankind's salvation complete through suffering (in the body) so that he could bring many sons to glory.

11 For both Jesus, who did the sanctifying, and those whom he has sanctified form a single unit. This is why he is not ashamed to call them his brothers,

12 For he said: I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And also: I will put my trust in him. And: Behold I, and the children which God hath given me.

14 So, since the “children” are flesh and blood beings, Jesus likewise became flesh and blood, so that through enduring (--and conquering--) death, he might defeat (and strip of authority) the devil, who had the authority over death.

15 In doing this, Jesus would deliver those who, through the fear of death (and what comes afterward), were in bondage all of their lives.

16 And to do this, Jesus did not take on the nature of angels (--to aid the ones who fell with Satan--) but instead took on the nature of humanity by coming through physical descent of Abraham to aid his seed.

17 This is why it was appropriate for Jesus, in all ways, to be made in the same image of us, his brothers, so that he could be a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, making reconciliation (and atonement) for the sins of the people.

18 For since he suffered and conquered all the sorts of temptations and trials we face, he is able to aid us in all of them.

1. As he begins chapter two, the writer begins to warn of the awful risk of rejecting the message delivered by the Messiah through pointing out how judgment fell when the Law that was given by angels was ignored by the people. How much more serious, he asks, is it to reject the message of One so much greater than the angels that He both created and sustains the universe itself?

2. Verse 5 is speaking of the Messianic Age, in which no angel shall have absolute authority--but the Messiah will, with redeemed humanity ruling under him (1 Cor. 6:2-3).

3. The “Him” is the Father.

4. The “children” are, of course, us. The verse here is saying that in order to fully make us children of God and brethren of Messiah, Christ had to become human like all of us so that God could view us no differently than He did Him.

5. The second part of the verse now shifts into the metaphysical. In a sense, the author is saying that since Jesus partook of death and then overcame it, He made Himself the master over death, superseding the devil’s power, which is limited to only killing, but not making alive. This is how Christ now has the “keys of hell and death” (Rev. 1:18).

6. In the ancient world, death was greatly feared, for the afterlife in many cultures was thought to be an unpleasant place of wandering and emptiness.

7. Again, because He has experienced and overcome the temptations we face, Christ has authority over them and the ability, through His Spirit, to enable us to likewise overcome. Once more, this is a metaphysical teaching that since Christ endured and resisted all possible temptation and trial without sinning or losing faith, He has authority over temptation itself and, in theory, can impart His supernatural grace to aid us against it.

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.1

4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)2

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief3, in departing from the living God.

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.4

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief5.

1 Because of this, holy brethren and partakers of the heavenly calling, keep in mind the Messenger and High Priest whom we profess, Christ Jesus,

2 Who was faithful to God who appointed him, in the same way Moses was faithful regarding all the things in His “House” (--the Tent Tabernacle in the wilderness).

3 For this man, Jesus, was counted more worthy of honor than even Moses, in the same way a man who builds a house is entitled to more honor than the structure he erects is.

4 For every house is built by some man, but God is the one who created all the things that house is made from (--including the man who builds it).

5 And Moses truly was faithful regarding all the things in His “House” as merely a slave when he ministered in God’s Tent Tabernacle, being a precursor to greater things that were prophesied to come in later centuries.

6 But Christ was faithful as a son over His Temple--whose Temple we are, provided we cleave to the hope in which we glory and rejoice, and hold fast to the end!

7 Now listen--remember what the Holy Spirit said: Today if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.

12 So beware, brethren, lest any of you depart from the Living God through an evil heart that is skeptical of what God says.

13 But encourage one another daily--because every day is “Today”--lest any of you harden your hearts through the deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we will share all Christ has if we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

15 And for us, this will always be an axiom to heed: Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16 For some who heard the message of their time did provoke God--though not all who came out of Egypt with Moses were guilty of this.

17 But with whom was God “grieved” during the forty years in the wilderness? Wasn’t it with those who sinned (--despite being given the promise--) whose bodies fell in the wilderness?

18 And who was it, but these same people who would not believe, that God swore ‘would not enter into His rest’?

19 So we see that they could not enter (into the Promised Land of God’s rest) because they could not believe (what they had been promised).

1. The thought here now begins to turn to illustrating how Moses and the covenant given by him is an inferior shadow to the ultimate covenant instituted by Messiah.

2. The next thought begins to show how rejection of the Message of God in this day--no matter how sincere--carries with it the same penalty faced by the Hebrews in the wilderness who likewise refused to believe what God had said through Moses. Likewise, the Jews in the day of this epistle were faced with a choice to believe or disbelieve the message from God. To disbelieve the Gospel of Messiah in favor of the elders' philosophy on what Judaism and the Messiah were to be was to face the same penalty as the Hebrews: death, and failure to enter the Promised Land.

3. Apistea, the word here for “unbelief,” is the same word used in the Matt. 13:58 (“And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief”) and in 1 Tim. 1:13 (“…who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief”). The word means to question what was heard, or not have enough faith to believe in God's ability to perform what He has said He will do. In this context, some of the Jews were stumbling over their preconceived notions about justification and the Messiah, both of which are contradicted by Christianity, which divorced justification from keeping Mosaic Law, and presented a crucified Messiah as an atonement for sin, two concepts anathema to rabbinic Judaism

4. There is a dual meaning to this verse: First, there is a warning against embracing false doctrine that leads to rejecting the truth in a stubborn, obstinate way. The second is that willful sin invariably leads to a person's losing his ability to have faith--including the faith to keep salvation, for enough of a lifestyle of sin will cause a person to cease wanting God, or else lead to a point of deception where sin is justified. Sin absolutely contaminates both the mortal body and immortal spirit of a person (2 Cor. 7:1), and the harm to the spirit lies in the fact that sin--especially sexual sin--hardens the heart in a way that it can rob truth and faith from the heart, while often leaving the carnal intellect untouched. What makes this so insidious is that it results in many Christians actually walking around in a state of damnation because, while they still intellectually understand and accept the cross, their hearts have actually been hardened through sin against releasing saving faith in the cross, and thus their violations of conscience has unwittingly placed them in the position of keeping intellectual assent about Christ, while actually losing Him in their hearts!

5. This word (apeitheia) refers to the hardest form of unbelief, showing that after the Hebrews had a problem believing what God had said--they finally refused to believe, and died in the wilderness.

 

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.1

3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

8 For if Jesus2 had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.3

10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

11 Let us labour4 therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

12 For the word of God5 is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.6

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Therefore, let us take nothing for granted, lest any seem to come short of the promise that we will enter God‘s rest.

2 For to us was the “Good news” preached, just as it was to the Israelites of Moses’ time. But in their case, it did not bear fruit because the people of that time (did not mix the promise of rest with conscious belief it would come to pass).

3 But those of us who have believed are the ones who enter into rest. Remember what God said: As I have sworn in my wrath, they shall never enter into my rest. God said this, even though His works (and the entire timeline of human history) had been pre-ordained and formed from the foundation of the world.

4 For in the Scriptures, God spoke about this thing that was represented by the Sabbath: And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

5 And elsewhere: They shall not enter into my rest.

6-7 Since it is apparent, then, that at least some must enter into rest, and the first ones to whom the message came did not enter in because they refused to believe, God established “Today” [to fulfill His promise], saying much later, through David as we noted: Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

8 For if Joshua had given Israel rest, God would not have later spoken through David of another day of rest still to come!

9 Thus, there is, and shall come, a Rest for the people of God.

10 For he that is entered into God’s rest has also ceased from his own works, just as God did (--for the work is entirely complete at that point, needing nothing more added to it).

11 For both Jesus, who did the sanctifying, and those whom he has sanctified, have the same Father, and form one family unit. This is why he is not ashamed to call them his brothers,

12 For the decree of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and can even divide the soul from the body, the (physical from the metaphysical), and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Likewise, there is no man who can hide anything from God’s sight--all our thoughts and motivations are an open book to Him to whom we shall stand before (and give account).

14 But since we have a great High Priest who has passed through (and ministers in) heaven itself--Jesus, the Son of God--let us hold fast to our faith and confidence.

15 For we do not have a High Priest who does not understand what we are going through. Our High priest (--though perfect--) was, in fact, tempted in all the ways we face temptation, but he did not sin.

16 So let us fearlessly approach the throne from which all grace flows, and we will find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

1. The writer here alludes to the fact that although the Hebrews had been told the Promised Land was theirs, their failure to believe and act upon the promise cursed them with death. As we see in Numbers 14, their refusal to believe God caused them to turn against Moses and earned them a curse that killed off most of an entire generation who had been promised a land God wanted to give them.

2. The “Jesus” spoken of here is Joshua, not Christ. (Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua, which means “God saves,” or “God is salvation.”)

3. This verse can, and does, cause some confusion. The word “rest” can arguably be said to encourage observance of the Jewish Sabbath. One might wonder, then, if the text is saying the Christians must keep the Sabbath. The Eastern text takes this view and renders the verse as: “So the people of God must observe the Sabbath.”

The Greek, more literally, says: “There is left off (or left behind) Sabbathing (sabbath-resting) to the people of God.”

The problem is, this verse can be interpreted more than one way. The KJV appears to be correct when it interprets this as saying a future rest in Christ remains for the people of God to look forward to--which perfectly fits the tone of verses 3-8--rather than that continually keeping the Saturday Sabbath is left behind for Christians, which does not fit the message of the chapter at all! The writer is also affirming that entering the rest of God is through belief, and uses the Sabbath as representative of the ultimate rest that was coming through Christ's work of redemption. Be careful, he points out in verse 11, that you do not disqualify yourself from that rest--not by profaning the Sabbath, but by unbelief!

One way to help define the meaning of the verse is the fact that the word for “rest” (Sabbatismos), as noted, is never used elsewhere, even in the Septuagint. Instead, Sabbaton is used nearly everywhere else in the New Testament as a word for the Sabbath; and the writer’s going out of his way to use Sabbatismos to refine his point as relates to the Sabbath can reasonably mean that he is intentionally pointing to the rest of the Sabbath, rather than the literal observance of the Sabbath.

Sabbatarians, however, would use this verse to claim that Christians must keep the Sabbath, so we must ask if we can establish elsewhere from Scripture whether Sabbath-keeping was enjoined upon the Gentiles. When we check the New Testament, we find that we cannot, for if we go to the Book of Acts, chapter 21:20, James acknowledges that while the Christian Jews were all “zealous” for the Torah--which obviously means they were zealous in keeping the Sabbath--the same James, in the same breath (verse 25), acknowledges that the elders have instructed the Gentiles that they are relieved from the obligation to keep Mosaic Law, which would include the Sabbath commands! (And previously, the Holy Spirit in Acts 15 also pointedly omitted requiring Sabbath observance for the Gentiles.) Thus, Gentiles were relieved of the obligation to keep the Sabbath, and what is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews about the Jewish Christians keeping the Sabbath is not necessarily a command for the Gentile believers to do likewise, but rather an explanation of what the Sabbath represents!

We also note that the writer has been specifically talking about Jewish history and Law, which has no application to a Gentile audience anyway, and if we note the context of the chapter and this book as a whole, we see the writer has also been dealing with types and shadows of the Old Testament that have their fulfillment in Messiah; and he has been pointing out the superiority of the New covenant over the Mosaic covenant. (By the way, those who teach the false doctrine that there is really only one “renewed” covenant need to read Gal. 4:24.)

The whole subject of this chapter is that the ultimate rest of God that was hinted at in Old Testament times, but not fulfilled until Messiah, despite the fact that the Hebrews did actually enter what was called the Promised Land.' For us, the subject of the chapter is how to enter the true ‘rest of God’--and the writer reveals this is by believing! His point is that the Sabbath was given to illustrate the point of justification through believing, which was to be fulfilled in Messiah. From that point, mankind could rest from its own efforts at achieving righteousness through its works and obedience. The Sabbath-keeping of the Jews in the time of this letter was only showing, according to the writer, that there still remains a ‘rest’ in the future: i.e. the Resurrection and Messianic Age.

But is the writer somehow making the point that, even though Messiah has come, we must make sure we keep the Sabbath to show we are the people of God?

Given the fact that the argument must appeal to vague verses like this, and the lack of repeated New Testament command and exhortation for Gentiles to keep the Sabbath--absolutely not! In fact, a much stronger argument can be made that Galatians actually rebukes the Gentiles for observing all four forms of the Sabbath: the Sabbath days; the Sabbath new moons; the Festival Sabbaths; and apparently a Sabbath year! The modern-day Judaiser, of course, throws a fit at that notion--but we must then reject his call upon us to prove to his satisfaction that the Sabbath is not a requirement, and instead require him to show how 2000 years of Christianity has misunderstood Paul on this issue. His choices from that point are to claim that Galatians must refer to pagan observances that coincidentally are identical to the Torah Sabbaths; or that Galatians is actually praising the people for Sabbath observance, and we Gentiles have just misunderstand the text for 2000 years(!); or that the Catholic Church altered the Scriptures to start with!

But the fact that no credible historic evidence from the 1st century shows acceptance of Sabbatariansim among non-proselyte Gentile churches started by the apostles (except for Paul rebuking the Galatians for it) is impossible to dismiss. In fact, the 1st century Didache--the first guidebook of the Christian faith--mandates Sunday observance for Christians, while Acts 20:7 shows church gatherings and Communion specifically taking place on Sunday, rather than Saturday!

Ignatius of Antioch, second or third bishop of Antioch, who led the church while John was still alive in Ephesus, and undoubtedly was influenced by him, wrote--before his martyrdom in 110 AD--about Christians who “Have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day.” While some now try to claim that he instituted Sunday worship on his own, and the church sheepishly fell in line and rejected the (supposed) instructions of the apostles to keep the Sabbath, the view is utterly preposterous, since the fact that many groups of Gentile believers throughout the Roman world--who would have stayed faithful to apostolic tradition--would have fought against this and denounced the practice. Yet this did not happen, and no--repeat, no--condemnation regarding Sunday observance can be found in any Christian writings throughout the 2nd century, a fact impossible to dismiss. Justin Martyr (First Apology 67) actually acknowledged Sunday worship and the taking of Communion, and the 3rd century Didascalia does likewise, and even asserts the Sunday system was ‘appointed by the apostles.’

Now it is true that some ancient Christian churches for centuries had dual days of worship--Saturday and Sunday--and that Paul (Romans 14:5) himself acknowledged that some Christians of his time still kept the Sabbath as their worship day, while others made no distinction. But, the same Paul, in verse 10, went on to forbid judging a brother on this issue. Yet that verse is universally ignored by Sabbatarians, who regularly condemn the Sunday Christian as following Catholic heresy!

It must also be acknowledged that while some ancient Christian churches either were full-out Sabbatarian, or else worshipped on both days, no Patristic writers ever declared Sabbath observance either mandatory or a salvation issue--unlike the typical modern Sabbatarian who upholds both notions!

Meanwhile, there are even cases of some ancient Jewish Christians worshipping on Sunday, for the Romans supposedly allowed the Christian Jews to remain in Jerusalem after its fall because they had intentionally moved their Sabbath to Sunday to distinguish themselves from the unbelieving Jews, who rebelled against Rome and brought about their own destruction. (Source: the History Channel®.)

Thus, we can find no proof, outside the modern-day Judaiser’s misinterpretation of the New Testament, that Gentile believers in the churches overseen by Paul kept things like the Jewish Sabbath and Festivals, or that Paul taught they should.

Is that because they are “bad” to observe?

No. Paul attacked the whole idea because the Gentiles were being told by Judaising Messianics that they had to keep Mosaic Law or they would not be saved, and so they were placing their security in the fact they were obeying those commandments, and thus were assured of eternal life for that reason--something many Sabbatarians effectively still believe when it comes to the Sabbath!

The situation would be akin to an evangelical misreading the Old Testament and letting his beard grow wild in the fear he will die unsaved if he does not obey the commandment not to trim the corners of one's beard. The man clearly does not understand the basis of what salvation is, and his practice--while not problematic in and of itself--indicates a deep spiritual problem simply because he has no requirement to obey that Old Testament command, and if he is observing it, we must ask why he is. If he’s doing it because he thinks he has to in order to be saved, or to keep from being sent to hell, he is in desperate need of correction and instruction regarding justification and righteousness! Even the simple act of physical circumcision--a good thing otherwise--if done because one has been threatened with damnation if he doesn’t obey that commandment, renders Christ of no value to a man who does so in obedience to what Genesis 17 even says is an “everlasting covenant”! (Gal. 5:2.)*

We also cannot ignore the fact that Sabbath-keeping is the most intricate of all Old Testament commands because of its extremely strict requirements for rest that forbid cooking, carrying anything (which could include a Bible), starting a fire, or traveling more than a few thousand yards (thus meaning no driving to church in a gas-powered car), to name a few--along with not working for one full year out of seven if one is a farmer. The penalty for violating these commands is death, so where in the New Testament are the instructions to the ignorant Gentiles raised outside of Judaism on how one keeps the Sabbath commands in the proper way to be pleasing to God? There are none, and anyone should be able to understand the implication that they were not mandated to observe the Sabbath at all, because one cannot observe it without intense instruction on how to observe it, and what should be done with believers who fail--willingly or unwillingly--to measure up to the mandated Scriptural requirements of the Sabbath. You see, observing the Biblical Sabbath is far more than toning one's activities down, focusing on God, and going to church on Saturday!

So does that mean the Sabbath has no importance for Christianity? No. Its spiritual implications are critical for us to understand, and the principle of setting aside at least one day in seven for the worship of God ,in a corporate sense, are critical to the survival of the church. The error is to elevate the Old Testament commandment above the message that it means to teach, which is that by not so much as the slightest effort on man’s part can he earn or contribute to what God is willing to give freely.

Once that is understood, what one does with the idea of the Sabbath is between him and God. But to hold the view that the keeping and observance of the Sabbath is mandatory, is equally heretical with requiring converts to undergo physical circumcision, and has the same results: “Christ will profit you nothing”!

Finally, for those deceived individuals who think the Apostles taught that the Christians must keep the Sabbath, here is the sum total of the verses written by Paul, James, John, Peter and Jude using the word Sabbath. This is literally every time the word Sabbath appears in the New Testament after the Book of Acts, from Romans to Revelation:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Col. 2:16-17.

* Meanwhile, those who try to hold onto the Law with one hand and grace with the other, claiming that physical circumcision is irrelevant to walking in the Torah and observing the Festivals in God’s eyes because circumcision of the heart is what counts, need to read the words of God on the necessity for a Gentile in the dispensation of Mosaic Law to be both spiritually and physically circumcised: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger , uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel” Ez. 44:9.

4. “Labor” is better translated as: “Endeavor” or “be zealous.”

5. This is one of very few places in the New Testament where the term “Word of God” may be employed as a euphemism for the Scriptures, although the writer may still be using it to refer to God’s decree, a position taken by the paraphrase.

6. There is a lot of controversy over what it means when it says that Jesus was tempted in the same ways we are. Some believe that since Jesus is God, and since God cannot sin, the temptations Christ underwent held no attraction for him, and thus there was no real battle within Him to resist them. That may sound nice, but some of the commandments Christ had to obey were to fast, and--since Jesus was fully human--He had to consciously resist the desire of His flesh to take nourishment when He hungered. Thus, we can assume that Jesus did have to exercise a conscious will to deny at least some sin (that of breaking a fast from hunger). Beyond that, we can't know to what degree Jesus had to fight His own human flesh to obey God. It is almost a certainty that He had to deny His flesh more than some theologians think.

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 5

1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:1

2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.2

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

1 For every human High Priest is ordained to function before God on behalf of his fellow human men, so that he can offer both gifts and sacrifices for their sins.

2 He can (strike a balance between condemnation and mercy) toward those who do not have full knowledge of the things they should do, while understanding the failings of other men who do know the truth but stray from the path every so often, seeing as he is a fallible human being himself.

3 That is why he needs to make sacrifices for his sins, as well as those of the rest of the Jewish people.

4 And no man has the right to take this honor to himself--only someone God calls may do so, as was the case with the first High Priest, Aaron.

5 So also Christ did not exalt himself up to be mankind’s High Priest--God gave him that position when He said: Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

6 God reiterated this in another verse of Scripture: Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.

7 Now Jesus, when he walked on the earth as a human man, offered up prayers and desperate requests with weeping and tears to God, who was able to preserve him through the death process. And God heard him because of his reverential fear.

8 And even though he was a Son, he learned what it is to obey by the things he suffered.

9 And being made perfect (by obeying unto suffering), he became the agent of eternal salvation to all who likewise obey him.

10 Thus, he was called of God to the rank of High priest “after the order of Melchizedek.”

11 Now we would love to go into deeper detail about all this and unravel some of the wonderful mysteries on the subject--but we can’t because of your carnality.

12 For even though by now you should be teaching others the mysteries of the Gospel, you have need of someone again teaching you the foundations of God’s revelations! The fact is, you need milk, and not solid food.

13 And everyone who still needs milk lacks any in-depth knowledge of the doctrine of righteousness, because he is merely a baby Christian.

14 Strong meat, meanwhile, goes to grown men--those who, by their maturity, have their senses attuned to discern good and evil (and truth and error).

1. Chapter 5 now turns to exalting Christ as the final and ultimate High Priest of God.

2. It is interesting to note that the writer is irritated that his educated Jewish audience seems as naive as the Gentiles in Corinth, and apparently need to be re-educated in the fundamentals of the faith when they should be advancing in deeper knowledge.

 

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 6

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.1

3 And this will we do, if God permit.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.2

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.3

1 Therefore, leaving the elementary principles of the Christian faith, let us go on to maturity, not reiterating the fundamentals of: Repentance from the dead works (of sin and legalistic Torah observance); and faith toward God.

2 Doctrines about immersions. Ordination to ministry. The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

3 And this we will do, if God permits.

4-6 For it is impossible to renew to salvation those others who once knew the truth about Christ, tasting the heavenly gift, and partaking of the Holy Spirit, who have also sampled the good Message of God and the power of the Messianic Age to come, and who, despite this, have (renounced Christ in order to return to the Jewish community and its sacrificial system). Those who have done this have crucified the Son of God again, and put him to a public shame (by their public repudiation of him).

7 For the ground that drinks in the rain as often as it falls upon it, and sprouts herbs that are useful for the planters, displays that it is a ground that has received blessing from God.

8 But ground that produces thorns and thistles might wind up as cursed ground, and be burned bare in the end.

9 But, beloved, we are certain we can expect better from you, including the fruits that accompany salvation, though we speak like this to you.

10 For God is not unrighteous, forgetting the work and labor of love you have displayed in His name by ministering, and continuing to minister, to the righteous.

11-12 Our hope is that all of you will continue to walk in the same diligence to the end, so your confidence will remain sure, and you do not fall into apathy, but instead imitate those who, by faith and patience, inherit the promises.

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, swearing by Himself, since there was no one greater that He could swear by,

14 He said: Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

15 And so after Abraham had patiently endured, he laid hold of the promise.

16 For men making oaths swear by something or Someone greater than themselves to assure what they are going to do, and invoking such an oath settles the issue.

17-18 So then God, even more desirous of showing those in line to inherit His promise how unbreakable His decision was, confirmed it by an oath, so that by two unalterable factors from a God who cannot lie (--a promise and an oath--) we, who have fled to Him for refuge, might have absolute assurance of the hope set before us.

19-20 This hope--this absolute guarantee to our soul--is fixed like an anchor whose chain stretches beyond the veil into the very Holy of Holies, where it is secure in our forerunner who is already there: namely Jesus, who has been made A High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

1. Verses 1 and 2 here are two of the most important verses in the New Testament. And, as is typical, they are passed over by most of Christianity.

What makes them important is that the writer has just listed what he considers to be the elementary principles of the Faith:

1. Repentance from dead works (i.e. sin--or perhaps a reference to legalistic Torah observance).

2. Faith in God through Messiah.

3. Doctrines regarding the implications, types and shadows of both spiritual and physical baptisms.

4. The ordination of elders and ecclesiastical authority through the laying on of hands.

5. The coming resurrection of all humanity.

6. Eternal life with, or separated from, God.

2. Here, we have some verses that have caused a great deal of misunderstanding because they are usually interpreted through a Gentile mindset. The writer is not talking about Christians who have come to Christ and then backslid and turned back to sin! He is talking about Christian Jews who, after facing persecution, have returned to the Jewish synagogue and system of animal sacrifice! In the time this work was written, a man who did this had to publicly renounce Christ in front of the entire synagogue * before he was received back into the Jewish community. This is how these people put ‘Christ to open shame’--by publicly denouncing Him (see Luke 12:9).

* This still happens today on occasion when some Messianics return to Orthodox Judaism.

3. Noting that the writer has warned against returning to the Christ-rejecting form of Judaism, he concludes by pointing out the true and greatest High Priest of the faith is Christ, who has transcended the earthly Temple to dwell in the heavenly fullness of God’s presence. Thus, the fact that the Christians are excluded from the Jewish synagogues and Temple is irrelevant since these were but shadows of the ultimate fulfillment.

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 7

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God,1 who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.2

4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.3

8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.4

10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?5

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.6

13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.7

17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.8

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

1 For this priest of God most High--Melchizedek--was king of Salem (the early Jerusalem), and met Abraham when he was returning from the Slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him.

2 Abraham also gave a tithe of 10% of what he had taken to this man, whose name means King of Righteousness, and who also (had the title of) King of Salem, which means, King of Peace.

3 He had no recorded parents, nor descendants (to inherit his office), nor is there a record of when he began his ministry or when he ended it, so--prefiguring the Son of God--he is considered to be a priest that ministers perpetually (since no one can prove that he ever died).

4 Consider how important this man was that even the Patriarch Abraham tithed 10% of the captured valuables to him!

5 And truly, those descended from Levi, who hold the office of priests, are commanded to receive tithes from the people as the Torah says--even from their own brothers, despite their all equally being the descendants of Abraham.

6 But this Melchizedek, who had no descent through the Levitical line of priests, received tithes from Abraham, and pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, who had received God’s promises before this event.

7 Now we absolutely know that only someone of superior rank can pronounce a blessing on someone else (who must be of lesser rank).

8 And here, in this life, men who will eventually die receive tithes. But it is attested to that back then, a man who never died--and still lives--received tithes!

9 And I might point out that even Levi, though he would in due course receive tithes, actually paid tithes himself (to Melchizedek) through his ancestor Abraham (since, in our culture, an act is considered to have effects radiating to both the end and the beginning of time; and thus, Levi acknowledged that Melchizedek was of superior rank even to himself, who was the future head of the Jewish line of priests)!

10 For Levi was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met Abraham.

11 So then, if perfection came through the Levitical priesthood--for under that priesthood the people received the Torah--why was there a subsequent prophecy made in the Psalms that another priest would arise who would be after the order of Melchizedek, rather than Aaron?

12-14 Since the Aaronic priesthood would be abrogated through this prophecy, it only follows that the Torah itself (which cannot be altered in any way if it is in force) would likewise have to be abrogated. For the one prophesied to become this priest--Jesus--clearly “branched” from the tribe of Judah, a tribe that never produced any priest that ministered at the altar, and which Moses in the Torah said nothing about with regard to the priesthood.

15-16 This (prophetic abrogation of the Torah in favor of a New covenant) is far more evident given the fact that this Melchizedekal priest would arise and be appointed, not through Torah commands that mandate descent from Levi, a dead Patriarch--but outside that requirement because he would have the power of an everlasting life! (Thus, the whole Torah system could not do other than become moot and pass into history when he arrived with his superior everlasting priesthood!)

17 For remember God testified about this immortal priest: Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.

18 And so the commandments of the Torah in force before this priest arrived were disannulled because they were imperfect and unprofitable (as the mortal priests they pertained to likewise were).

19 For the covenant of the Torah perfected no one, but the institution of something much better to place our confidence in (--Christ and his priesthood and covenant--) did, by whom we draw near to God!

20 And (unlike other priests), he became a priest through an oath!

21 For Levitical priests were made without an oath--but Christ was made a priest through an oath: The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.

22 The fact that Jesus was appointed by a (prophetic) oath makes him the guarantor of a better covenant (compared to that of the Torah and its Levitical priesthood).

23 And there were truly many High Priests over the centuries, because they had to pass their offices down to others because (as mortal men) they eventually died.

24 But this man, because he is alive forever, therefore has a priesthood that will never come to an end!

25 Therefore, he is able to absolutely save those who come to God through him, since he is perpetually living to intercede for them.

26 And this is the perfect sort of High Priest for us: One who is holy, blameless, undefiled--distinct from sinners--and exalted higher than the highest heavens!

27 And he does not need (--like Levitical High Priests--) to offer a daily sacrifice for his own sins first, and then those of the people, for he did this one time when he offered up himself (as a sacrifice).

28 For the Torah outlines the way to make fallible human men High Priests--but the decree contained in the oath, which was enacted long after the Torah was given, superseded the Torah by consecrating the Son High Priest--a Son who is made perfect forever!

1. Interestingly, the writer is fascinated with the relationship between Melchizedek* and Messiah, and returns to the constant theme of how Christ’s priesthood is superior to that of the Aaronic.

* Who may have been Shem, the son of Noah, according to some Jewish traditions. However, since Melchizedek is given the title of King of Righteousness (his title, Melek Tzaddik or Melki-Tzedek, actually means that), it seems probable that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, since only Christ Himself would be considered worthy to be called the King of Righteousness. The DSS (11Q13) also call him Elohim--a name for God--and speak of him as the ultimate agent to atone for Israel's sin!

2. The writer now slips into the metaphysical by pointing out that since there is no record of Melchizedek’s ever dying, he can be considered to have remained a priest perpetually, without passing the office down to his descendants. Thus, his priesthood--which predated the Aaronic--in the writer’s view has always been superior to that later priesthood (see verse 6), and has always existed independently from the Aaronic priesthood! That may not sound logical to a Western mind, but it is perfectly Semitic in thought. This fact is also the final nail in the coffin to those who mistakenly believe Christ will return to re-institute a Torah-based system, including a re-instituted Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priesthood, with its Levitical Temple, is forever dead, and only the Melchizidekal priesthood made up of Christ and all believers will function in the Millennial Kingdom.

3. The writer is pointing out that, as key a figure as Abraham was, he was inferior to Melchizedek who blessed him, rather than the other way around. In the same way, Christ--though descended from Abraham--is greater than Abraham.

4. Again turning metaphysical, the writer expresses a Semitic view that time is like a garment, and that one could lift up a thread of it, representing an act on a specific date, and the effects of that act would ripple all the way back to the beginning of time, and all the way forward to the end of time. That makes no sense to us, of course, but that’s how they thought. This is the rationale of how the writer can claim that Levi paid tithes through Abraham, since Abraham’s act of righteousness extended down through the ages and his descendants. This is also how Messiah’s atoning sacrifice in 30 or 33 AD was applied both backwards and forward in time, and explains the basis on which God was ever able to forgive sin before Christ came.

5. Again, the writer makes the point that there has always been a “better” priesthood and covenant in the shadows that was manifested in Christ.

6. A problematic verse for some extremist Messianics who like to seize on Christ’s words that “not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law.” As shown here, the Law has indeed changed!

7. As noted earlier, the writer believed Melchizedek was a type and shadow for an eternal priest and priesthood.

8. Continuing on with his constant theme, the writer again states that the Law has been overturned by something better which could accomplish what the first Torah could not: bring people into true right standing with God.

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 8

1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum:1 We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.2

6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.3

8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.4

1 All right--so this is the sum of what we have been saying: We have a High priest like this who is set on the right hand of God’s throne of Majesty in the heavens,

2 Who officiates in the true (heavenly) Holy Place and tabernacle that God--not man--erected.

3 For since every High Priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, it was necessary that this High Priest also had something to offer.

4 For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest, seeing that there are currently priests here who offer up gifts as the Torah requires.

5 But these priests (and their sacrifices) are doing nothing more than showing an example of what goes on and exists in heaven, just as Moses--when he was about to build the first tabernacle--was admonsihed: “See,” God said, “that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.“

6 But now Christ has been given a vastly superior ministry, by which he is the mediator of a (vastly) superior covenant, which was established on (vastly) better promises (than those of the Torah).

7 For if the first covenant (--the Torah--) had been perfect, there would be no need of instituting a second covenant (to supersede it).

8 But God--finding fault with the people--said: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13 By virtue of the fact God used the words, “A New covenant,” it is obvious that He made the first covenant old (and obsolete). And that which decays and grows old is now ready to vanish away completely.

1. Chapter 8 sums up all the writer has been teaching.

2. Judaism accepted that the tent in the wilderness, and the items associated with it, represented greater things that actually existed in heaven. As the writer concludes, since Christ ministers in the heavenly Temple, the earthly Temple with its sacrifices and priesthood can never be considered on par or superior to it.

3. A statement that is anathema to rabbinic Jews and some Messianics who simply refuse to believe that the first covenant of the Torah has been replaced with something better.

4. The writer is not limiting himself--as some, faced with these problematic verses assert--to the Temple and its sacrifices. He is stating that the Mosaic covenant itself is about to end once the Temple is destroyed. From that point, it will be absolutely impossible to keep the Torah. One might keep parts of it, but as Paul points out in Gal. 3:10: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Those who thus think they are keeping the commandments because they observe the 180 or so commandments of the Torah that could still apply without a Temple are simply deceiving themselves. They are not keeping the commandments. They are keeping some commandments. And keeping some commandments is no different in God’s eyes than keeping no commandments so far as His approval on one’s life apart from Christ’s righteousness is concerned.

 

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 9

1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.1

6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place,2 having obtained eternal redemption for us.

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit3 offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.4

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.5

23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.6

1 Now the first covenant also had ordinances of divine service, along with an earthly sanctuary (in the wilderness).

2 For in that time they fashioned a tent tabernacle, which had within its first compartment the menorah, the table, and the shewbread. This was called the Holy Place.

3 Beyond that compartment, past the second curtain, was the part of the tent called the Holy of Holies.

4 In there was the golden altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant, overlaid with gold, that contained the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.

5 And atop the ark were the two cherubim of glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat, which we won’t go into detail about at this time.

6 Now the system being structured in this manner requires the Levitical priests to always stay within the first part of the tent as they perform their ministerial duties to God.

7 But once a year, the High Priest goes alone into the second part of the tabernacle--and he enters with the blood from a sacrifice, which he then offers up for the unintentional sins of both himself and the Jewish people.

8 The Holy Spirit by this was illustrating that the way into the Holy of Holies was not yet open (to all men), and would not be while the first tabernacle (and its system) was still in place.

9-10 This whole system represents what has been in place down to our own time, in which the sacrificial gifts and offerings that are made can never make the High Priest offering them up truly perfect (and acceptable in God’s eyes), for his (sinful nature) can never really be made pure under a system that deals only with ritual meats, drinks, immersions, and carnal commandments made for regulating life until the time of reformation arrives.

11 But then Christ came on the scene as a High Priest who was a fulfillment of the good things to come; and he entered a greater and more perfect Temple that was not built by human hands, and not an earthly tabernacle.

12 And he did not enter this (heavenly) Temple bearing the blood of bulls and calves, but he entered the Holy Place (in heaven) one time with his own blood, having obtained everlasting redemption for us (through it)!

13-14 For if the blood of earthly bulls, goats, and the ashes of a red heifer, sprinkling unclean men, made them sanctified and purified them outwardly in the flesh (to minister to God as priests in the earthly Temple), how much more shall the blood of Christ--who, through the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, lived his life in a state of perfect sanctification to God before offering himself up as the ultimate sacrifice--purge your inner man from its propensity to sinful acts so that you can minister as priests to the living God (in a positional state of purity even greater than that of a Jewish High Priest)?!

15 And this is why Jesus is the mediator of this New covenant, that by means of dying for the redemption of (even intentional) transgressions under the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where there is a will (listing an inheritance), obviously the person writing the will must die for the inheritance to be given.

17 For a will applies only after the writer is dead, and before that it has no force.

18 Thus, even the first covenant was inaugurated through shed blood.

19 For when Moses had spoken every precept in the Torah to all the people, he took the blood of calves (and goats), with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll of the Torah and all the people,

20 Saying: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

21 Moreover, he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels within it that were used for purposes of ministry.

22 And almost all things, according to the Torah, are ritually cleansed with blood--and without the shedding of blood there is no remission (of sin and impurity).

23 And so it was therefore necessary that copies of the things in the heavens (--shown in pattern by the earthly tabernacle--) had to be purified by things such as these. However, the heavenly things themselves had to be purified with much better sacrifices than those of earthly animals.

24 Thus, Christ (--the blood-bearer--) did not enter into the Temple and its Holy Places that were made with human hands, which are mere representations of the true things in heaven. Instead, he bypassed them and entered directly into the tabernacle in heaven itself so that he should always be in the direct presence of God (interceding) for us.

25-26 He also does not have to continually sacrifice himself in the way an earthly High Priest must make a yearly sacrifice during Yom Kippur with the blood of animals, for otherwise he would have had to suffer perpetually, throughout time. But now, at the end of the Age, he has come to take away sin by sacrificing himself.

27 And just as it is appointed to men to die once, and after that face judgment,

28 So Christ was offered up one time to bear the sins of many--and to those who wait expectantly for him shall he appear the second time, not to deal with sin, but to take away all repercussions of sin as the final fruit of salvation.

1. Those who think the Ark of the Covenant will be found and placed in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem should read Jeremiah 3:16.

2. While some (reasonably) tie this verse to John 2:21 and 2 Cor. 5:2, considering the “Temple” to be Christ’s body, verse 12 and Heb. 8:2, suggest this verse actually refers to the heavenly Temple the Jews believed Moses was shown.

3. “Eternal Spirit” is probably the wrong understanding of this verse. Some ancient texts read “Holy Spirit,” and the author is among those who prefer that rendering. While “Eternal Spirit” can theoretically refer to the Holy Spirit, many theologians view the term as a reference to Christ’s own perfect spirit, and not the Holy Spirit. (A similar debate occurs over Rom. 1:4.) However, some hold that both verses refer to the Holy Spirit, and would go on to give credit to the Spirit for Christ’s ability not only to work miracles, but also His empowerment of sanctification (Isaiah 7:16), which would tie in with Paul’s many admonitions to Christians to make the choice to walk in the Spirit in order to follow God. (Others would simply say that since Jesus is God, and since God cannot sin, that Jesus was perfectly sanctified because He was God, and thus the Spirit played no part in that sanctification. The truth may or may not be in between both views.)

4. The writer here is referring to the fact that to obtain the inheritance Christ has promised, He had to first die to enact the testament.

5. Many Christians make the mistake of thinking, from this verse, that blood sacrifice is the only form of atonement God will accept, and then they go on to declare to Jews that this shows they have no means of atoning for sin. The problem with this is that while it is true that blood was given for atonement, and while it is Christ’s blood that accomplished the final and ultimate atonement, the Old Testament did provide for a number of substitutes to atone for wrongdoing apart from blood sacrifice. Here are some examples.

Restitution (Numbers 5:8)

Jewelry (Num. 31:50)

Flour (Lev. 5:11)

Money (Exodus 30:15)

The Old Testament is replete with instances where God forgave a man on the basis of his repentance without his offering up a blood sacrifice. (David's intentional transgression of murdering Uriah is a good example.) Jews will point to this and say that this proves blood sacrifice is unnecessary for atonement, and thus they do not need Christ's blood to atone for their sins--they must only repent.

The problem is, God will only forgive sin on the basis of Messiah’s atoning sacrifice. As we saw in earlier chapters, that one sacrifice in 30 or 33 AD, in the Semitic mindset, extends all the way back, and all the way forward, in time. Llikewise, its efficacy applies throughout all time. Thus, while God forgave David’s otherwise unforgivable sin (there is no atonement for murder mandated for in the Torah), it was not because David repented and God just chose to forgive; it was because of Messiah’s sacrifice for all sin that was applied to David’s sin through God’s grace. The Old Testament may not explain that in microscopic detail, leaving Jews with the impression that no blood sacrifice is needed for atonement (since they reject the New Testament which does explain these things), but what the writer says here is true: only blood can atone for all consequences of sin.

Many people miss the fact that there are also two consequences for sin: Temporal and eternal. God forgave the temporal repercussions of the sins of Nineveh because the city repented--but that does not necessarily mean that the people would automatically now be the people of God, in full right standing with Him. Assuming they continued to worship false gods, they would have died and gone to hell in the end. But the temporal consequences of their sin for the present were definitely overturned because of their repentance, and the city was spared for one more generation. (They went downhill from there, and Nineveh was destroyed around a century later.)

Likewise with us, when the New Testament says God chastises or judges us for our sins, it is not talking about eternal punishment in hell--it is talking about temporal punishment on earth. Such temporal punishment can indeed be averted by our repentance, just as it could be averted in Old Testament times by repentance--but only through blood are the eternal consequences of sin averted! Thus, while God can, and does, remit the temporal consequences of sin based on what a man does, the eternal consequences can never be washed away except with the blood of the one true sacrifice on the cross.

6. The writer’s meaning in this verse is a bit difficult to paraphrase.

 

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 10

1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.1

3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.2

5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.3

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.4

15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,5 and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith6 without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling7 of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

1 For the Torah, being as it was only a foreshadowing of things to come, and not the full image of what was coming, could never--with the yearly sacrifices contained within it for those who come to God through it--make men into what God wants them to be, which is perfect.

2 Otherwise, why must the same sacrifices have to be made continually? The worshippers, once purged of sin, should logically have been made free from their (fallen natures), and sinned no more.

3 But those yearly sacrifices remind us that the people are obviously caught up in a cycle of continuous sin.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could (perfect people and) remove sins (and sinning) from them.

5 That is why, when Jesus came into the world, he said: Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

8 Note that he first said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein--and this referred to the things mandated by the Torah!

9 Then he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. So God took away the first system so that He could establish the second,

10 By which, in this ‘will of God,’ we are sanctified perpetually through the sacrificial offering of the body of Jesus Christ.

11 Now every (Levitical) priest daily performs his ministerial duties, some of which include enacting the same animal sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12 But the man Jesus, after he had offered one sacrifice to deal with sin forever, (ended the work with that, and thus) sat down at the right hand of God,

13 Where he is waiting expectantly, till his enemies be made his footstool.

14 By one sacrificial offering, he has forever perfected those who are being sanctified!

15 The Holy Spirit also witnesses to us about this, for He said in the Scriptures:

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where sins have totally been remitted, there is no further need for sacrificial offerings.

19-22 Therefore, brethren, since we have the boldness to enter the (true) Holy of Holies through the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which he has opened for us through the curtain of his flesh--and since we have a High Priest over the Temple of God (in heaven)--let us come near with sincere hearts in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled (and cleansed) from our evil (fallen nature), and our bodies immersed in pure water.

23 Let us hold fast to the profession of our confidence without wavering, for He who promised us is faithful.

24 And let us inspire each other to love and good deeds,

25 Not forsaking our synagogues, as is the habit of some; but exhorting one another even more as we see Judgment Day approaching.

26 For if we (scorn repentance and) keep on sinning after we have known the truth, no sacrifice can save us from our sins!

27 All we can look forward to is the fearful judgment and fiery indignation that will devour the adversaries of Christ.

28 (Remember that) a person who scorned the Law of Moses died without mercy at the word of two or three witnesses.

29 So how much greater punishment do you suppose that a man would deserve, who trampled down the Son of God, considering the blood of the covenant that sanctified him an unholy thing, and thereby insulting the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know Him who said: Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And also: The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

32-33 So keep in mind the early days when you first came to enlightenment, and endured many hard afflictions against you at times when you were publicly singled out for reproach and affliction, either for yourselves or for other members of the Messianic community with whom you stood.

34 Back then, you had compassion for the imprisoned, and joyfully endured your goods being stripped from you (for your faith), knowing in yourselves that in heaven you have a much greater--and eternal--reward coming.

35 So do not cast away your confidence, which will obtain for you a great reward (for the persecution you’re enduring in this life).

36 For you have need of patience, so that after you have done God’s will, you can receive the promise.

37 For in a little while he who is coming shall come, and he will not delay.

38 Now, the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not among those who draw back to perdition; we are in the group who believe to the saving of the soul!

1. The writer here is developing a point made in Romans 3:31, which states that the Law, because of mankind’s weakness, is not voided through faith, but through faith the true purpose of the Law is accomplished: making man righteous in God’s sight (through the imputed righteousness of Christ). “Conscience” refers to man’s guilt and awareness of sin, but also the natural inclination from his fallen nature to think wrongly, which impels him to sin. (We know this through verses 1-3, and 14 and 16, which do not refer to atonement, justification and the removal of sin-guilt, but which note the sanctifying power of the Spirit, which conforms us into the image of Christ, with obviously renewed minds that now naturally cause us to think differently from our previous fallen state.)

2. As noted in the last chapter, only the atonement of Christ actually wiped the slate clean; the Old Testament sacrifices merely pointed to the coming sacrifice of Messiah as early as Abraham’s offering up Isaac as a sacrifice.

3. The writer is now flat-out saying that the Jewish sacrificial system has fulfilled its purpose in pointing to Messiah, so it now has no efficacy whatsoever because God has moved beyond it.

4. Right here, we have the acknowledgment that Christ’s one sacrifice has forever accomplished the atonement for sin. This is why the blood of Christ covers all our sins--past, present, and even future--so long as we accept that blessing by faith, and refuse to accept sin as a substitute for it!

5. “Evil conscience” could be understood as the natural human inclination to think and act at variance with God’s way of doing things, resulting in wrong motivations, and sin. This, of course, comes out of mankind’s sinful nature, and so the paraphrase uses the term fallen nature in this verse to help explain what the writer means, although the biblical text may be limiting itself to wrong thinking, and the sin and guilt that arises from it. Through our faith in the sacrifice of Christ, the writer points out, our minds have been renewed, and the sins enveloping us have been washed away, and thus we can approach the Father in full confidence, freed from both our ungodly way of thinking, and the guilty conscience that accompanies our sins, which have been wiped away through the cross.

6. “Faith” here is not the usual word for believing and trusting, but rather means our “confidence.”

7. The word for “assembling” should be translated: “Synagogue.”

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 11

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.1

2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3 Through faith2 we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

5 By faith Enoch was translated3 that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed,4 and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.5

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.6

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.7

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

31 By faith the harlot Rahab8 perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae9; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:10

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder11, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

1 Now faith is a most sure warrant, a being of things hoped for, a demonstration of things not seen.

2 For it was by faith that the elders secured a good commendation (from God).

3 Because of our faith, we understand that the entire universe was created by God’s spoken command, and that the things that we see came to be out of absolutely nothing.

4 By faith, Abel offered up to God a more appropriate and pleasing sacrifice than Cain, testifying to the fact that he was righteous, because God approved of his gift offerings. And even though he is long dead, his example (of being the first human ever placing faith in the blood sacrifice of an unblemished sacrificial lamb) still speaks volumes to us!

5 Because Enoch had faith, he was taken elsewhere so that he would not die; but he simply vanished because God snatched him away. But before this even happened, he had a testimony that he pleased God (because of his faith).

6 But without faith, it is utterly impossible to please God in any way, for he who comes to God must believe God is real, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently.

7 Because he believed what he had been told, Noah--after being warned by God of things coming that he did not see happening yet, and which had never happened before--was moved with fear to build an ark that wound up saving his entire household. His obedience in doing this sealed the fate of the world, and also made him an heir of the right standing in God’s sight that comes through believing.

8 Because Abraham believed, when he was commanded to go to a place he did not know--where he was promised an inheritance--he obeyed and went out, having no idea where he would wind up.

9 Because he believed, he became a nomad in the Land of Promise as if it were a totally alien country, (never settling down permanently, but) living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs along with him who had been given the same promise.

10 For Abraham never stopped seeking for a city mapped out and built by God Himself.

11 Through faith, his wife Sarah received the ability to conceive a child, and delivered him long after she had gone through menopause, for she judged (God), who had promised her, to be faithful.

12 Therefore, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable, sprang forth from a man so old he was (totally impotent, and) as good as dead.

13 Now all these great people died in faith, never having received the fullness of the promises made to them--but through the open eyes of faith they saw them afar off, believing and accepting them, and proclaiming themselves to be nothing more than strangers and nomads upon the earth.

14 For the people proclaiming that, who lived like nomads back then, were making a declaration to all that they were traveling on to a country they hadn’t reached yet, but believed was awaiting them at the end of the journey.

15 And truly, if their hearts had remained behind in the country they had come out of, they may have been tempted to return there.

16 But they desired a better country--a heavenly one! That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has built a city for them to dwell in.

17 Because he believed what he had been told, Abraham--when God put his faith to the test--was willing to offer up Isaac on a sacrificial altar.

18 Now it was this same Isaac of whom God had said that: “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

19 So Abraham chose to believe God capable of even raising up Isaac from the dead--and, in a prophetic figure, Abraham (came to understand and place faith in what Christ would undergo)!

20 Because he had faith, that same Isaac later spoke prophetic blessings over Jacob and Esau.

21 Because he believed, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed Joseph‘s two sons, showing reverence while leaning upon his staff.

21 (Alternate reading): Because he had faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed Joseph’s two sons, while showing submission to the emblem atop Joseph’s staff (that represented his authority).

22 Because he had faith, Joseph, when he died in turn, made mention that the Israelites would leave Egypt, and he gave orders that his bones should be taken with them.

23 Because his parents had faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months because they saw he was a unique child--and they did not fear the fact Pharaoh had commanded the newborn sons to be killed.

24-26 Because he had faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing instead to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than those Egypt had to offer--for he kept his mind fixed on the reward of God.

27 Because he had faith, he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of Pharaoh--for his strength to endure came by believing in Him whom he could not see, but was as real to him as if he did see!

28 Because he had faith, he observed the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood on the doorways, lest the angel that destroyed the firstborn touch his people too.

29 Because they believed, the people passed through the Red Sea like dry land, while the Egyptians, trying to do likewise, drowned.

30 Because of faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around for seven days.

31 Because she believed, Rahab the prostitute did not die with the unbelievers, for she greeted the spies in peace.

32 What more can I say? I could go on, but there is no time to repeat the deeds of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtah, David, Samuel, and the prophets--

33-34 Who, through their faith, conquered kingdoms, ruled in righteousness, obtained promises God had made them, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword; or out of weakness were made strong, becoming valiant warriors, putting invading armies to flight.

35 There were women who received their dead back to life, while others through their faith underwent torture to death, refusing to save their lives by compromise so that they could obtain a better resurrection.

36 Others, for their faith, underwent trials of cruel mockings and whippings, and chains and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned, (Isaiah was) sawed in half; they suffered lack; they were slain by the sword; they wandered about in sheep and goatskins, being penniless, afflicted, and tormented.

38 These--of whom the world was not worthy--wandered about in deserts, mountains, dens, and caves in the earth.

39 But these all, having left behind a marvelous testimony because of their faith, did not receive the promise,

40 For God had in mind a better thing for us, so that they could not see perfection without us (and what we now walk in--the redemption of the Messiah).

1. I prefer the alternate translation of this verse, which was rejected by the original translators of the King James Bible: “Faith is a most sure warrant, a being of things hoped for, a demonstration of things not seen.”

2. There is often a misunderstanding of what “through faith” means in this verse. It does not mean that God brought things into being by speaking faith-filled words; it means that because of our faith in what God has said, we believe He spoke, and the universe came into existence.

3. “Translated” means to be physically taken to another place, not transformed into another form.

4. It is interesting that the writer reveals that one reason Abraham did not receive the son God promised him was Sarah’s lack of faith, which had to be corrected!

5. This humble verse is actually very critical! It hints at the fact that had the lands Abraham (and then later the Hebrews in Egypt) came from been pleasant, and something they would have missed, the people may never have gone on with God, but might have returned when times were tough! How strongly that was shown in the case of the Exodus, where the Hebrews constantly yearned to return to slavery. How much more would they have wished to return there if their past lives had actually been pleasant?!

6. As Jesus reveals in the Gospels, through this experience with Isaac, Abraham somehow had a revelation that God would provide the sacrifice of His own Son to make all people into His people!

7. Again, the context is of those who had been persecuted for their stand (which was ultimately for Christ) and were willing to lose all for the blessing God had promised.

8. There is a common false teaching in Messianic (and Orthodox) Judaism that Rahab was an “innkeeper” rather than a prostitute. This is a medieval, revisionist view, not an ancient one. The Greek also, of course, cannot be referring to an innkeeper, but only to a prostitute.

9. Jephtah is crucially important as an Old Testament type and shadow regarding the Messiah, for he sacrificed his daughter because the Torah (Lev. 27) requires human beings dedicated to God to be slain. This is very problematic to rabbinic Judaism, which must take the view that God could never require a human to be sacrificed.

10. A reference to an inspiring story in 2nd Maccabees 6-7.

11. Referring to Isaiah's death by being placed in a hollow log and sawed in half by King Manassah.

 

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 12

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,1

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.2

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?3

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.4

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 5

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,6

24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

29 For our God is a consuming fire.

1 Given the fact that we have such a great legacy handed down to us by those who preceded us (--and since they may be watching how we will respond to that legacy--) let us cast away every hindrance, and the sin which is so easy to be caught up in, and let us run patiently the race set before us,

2 Seeing Jesus waiting at the finish line, and looking to him as the author and developer of our faith, who--for the joy set before him--endured the cross, scorning its shame, and by that came to sit at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 Keep in mind him who endured such torment at the hands of sinners against himself, lest you get wearied, and grow weak in your minds.

4 You haven’t resisted sin to the point of shedding your own blood!

5 But you have forgotten the exhortation written to you as sons of God: My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If you accept chastening, then God will treat you like a son. For what sort of son is never corrected by his father?

8 But if God is not punishing you for your misdeeds (--which befalls all of us--) then you are illegitimate children, and not true legal sons.

9 Furthermore, we all had earthly fathers who corrected us, and we still respected them. Shall we not even more be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For our fathers, in the short time we were children, spanked us as they saw fit (--and often because we simply irritated them). But God disciplines we grown men for our benefit so that we can partake of His holiness.

11 Now no spanking seems good when it happens--in fact, it is grievous. But afterwards, it helps children to grow up and be people of good character (if they accept the correction).

12 So snap to attention, lock your knees in place, and stop sulking!

13 Start walking down the straight path, lest your weak knees become crippled altogether. It’s better for them to be healed.

14 Seek peace with all men, and pursue holiness, without which no man will see the Lord.

15 Pursue it diligently, lest any man fall from God’s grace and cause a root of bitterness to spring up among you that will defile many.

16 (Pursue it diligently,) lest anyone become sexually immoral, or else profane like Esau, who sold his entire birthright for one morsel of meat.

17 For you recall that he was sorry afterward, when he could have inherited the blessing, but was rejected. Things could not be undone even though he shed bitter tears over it.

18-19 Remember you haven’t come to Mount Sinai, the physical mountain one could touch, which burned with fire and was overshadowed in blackness, darkness and a great wind, with the sound of a shofar, and a voice so frightening that when it spoke the people feared and begged not to hear it anymore.

20 For those people could not bear what was commanded them: “And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart.

21 This was all so fearsome that even Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake!”

22 But you are of those who have come instead to Mount Zion, to the very city of the Living God--the heavenly Jerusalem--where there is an innumerable group of angels.

23 You have been called to the great gathering and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to come to the God and Judge of all, and to the spirits of the just (dead) who have been made perfect.

24 And you have been called to Jesus--the mediator of the New covenant--and to the new sort of sprinkled blood that cries out much more positive words (of mercy and forgiveness) than the blood of Abel (that cried out for vengeance).

24 (Alternate reading): And you have been called to Jesus--the mediator of the New covenant--and to the new sort of sprinkled blood that represents much better things than the blood of Abel’s (fully approved-of) sacrifice.

25 See to it that you do not scorn Him who speaks to you. For if they did not escape (judgment), who rejected (Moses)--who spoke on the earth--much less will we escape judgment if we turn away from (God) who speaks from heaven!

26 God’s voice only shook the earth (back at Sinai), but He promises now: Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the universe.

27 And this phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies that the things shaken will be taken out of the way completely--but only those things that have been created will experience this, so that what remains will only be those things that are immovable and unshakable.

28 And so, since we are inheriting a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us in gratitude serve God with acceptable reverence and godly fear.

29 For our God is a consuming fire.

1. The early church commentators believed that the writer was teaching that these great heroes of the faith look down on us from heaven to see if we will carry forward the messages of God as they did in their own lifetimes. Later theologians viewed the verse as indicating that the written records of the Old Testament saints’ lives are themselves the “witnesses” being spoken of.

2. Joyce Meyer has a great book, The Battlefield of the Mind, which so illustrates what the writer here shows: That it is in the human mind that the battle is fought.

3. This verse might also be paraphrased as: “You haven’t died yet in resisting sin!”

4. Judaism affirms the pre-existence of souls, something rejected by orthodox Christianity. The writer, however, could theoretically be referring to that notion when he calls God the “Father of spirits.”

5. Although the Bible does not record it, Jewish history recalls that Esau--who was cheated of the birthright--had a second chance at it. When Isaac died, he and Jacob met to bury Isaac and formally divide the inheritance. Esau had the right, as firstborn son, to claim the land that fell within the blessing that Isaac earlier gave to Jacob. Jacob instead offered him all the goods of Isaac--the flocks and servants--and Esau again took the carnal things, leaving Jacob the land and the promises that went with it. This is why Esau and his descendants left the land and settled in Edom permanently instead of remaining in the Land of Promise.

6. This exact quote is nowhere in Scripture, and is almost certainly derived from the Aramaic Targums (paraphrases) of the Old Testament, which are filled with extra-Biblical myths and information

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 13

1 Let brotherly love continue.

2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.1

3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

5 Let your conversation2 be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation2.

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.3

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.4

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.5

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.6

24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

1 Continue in brotherly love.

2 And don’t forget to be hospitable to strangers, for some have done that and had angels as guests in their homes without realizing it.

3 Don’t forget those who are imprisoned. Remember them as if you, yourselves, were jailed alongside them. Likewise, have compassion on those who suffer adversity as if you were the one undergoing the trial!

4 Let marriage be held as an honorable estate, and keep the marriage bed undefiled, for God will judge those who engage in sex outside of marriage.

5-6 Let your lifestyle be one that exhibits no greed, and be content with what you have. Remember, Jesus has said: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, so that we can boldly proclaim that, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

7 Take as example those with (spiritual) authority over you, who have proclaimed the Message of God to you. Imitate the traits of their mature faith, which are shown by their consistently godly lifestyles.

8 (For) “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!”

9 Don’t be carried about with different, strange doctrines (about ritual eating of foods and the like). For it is a good thing for the heart to be firm in its faith solely on the basis of grace, without polluting that grace by adding commandments regarding meats, which hasn’t done those caught up in such ritual any good anyway.

10 We have a (Communion) altar to eat from that even the priests who serve in the Temple in Jerusalem have no right to eat from anyway!

11 For the carcasses of the animals whose blood is brought into the Sanctuary by the High Priest to atone for sin are burned outside the camp.

12 That is why Jesus also suffered outside the city gate (where the red heifer was sacrificed), so that he could sanctify the people with his own blood.

13 Let us therefore (leave Jerusalem and the system it represents,) and go forth to him who is outside the camp, enduring the same reproach Jerusalem had for him too.

14 For we have no city on earth to call our permanent home, but we seek the one that is to come.

15 Therefore, by Jesus, let us continually offer up the sacrifice of praise--the fruit from our lips--to God continually, giving thanks to His name.

16 But keep doing good deeds and remember to share, for with those sorts of sacrifices God is well pleased.

17 Obey those (in the church) who have (spiritual) authority over you, and submit to them, for they watch over your souls and must someday give an account. Let them do that with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable to you.

18 Pray for us, for we believe our consciences are clear, and that we are willing, in all ways, to live honestly.

19 But especially pray that I may be released to you all the sooner.

20-21 Now the God of peace--who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep--through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, developing in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 And I (--the co-writer of this epistle--) beg you, brethren, to heed this message of exhortation, though I haven’t written a great deal of it.

23 You should all know that our brother Timothy is set free, with whom I shall also come, if he journeys to you shortly.

24 Greet those who have rule over you, and all the righteous there. Those in Italy send greetings!

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

1. Probably a reference to Abraham’s visit with angels in Genesis 18.

2. As is typical, “conversation” means “lifestyle.”

3. We can’t be certain what the writer is referring to. Most likely, it is with the host of rabbinic prohibitions dealing with eating, along with the washing of utensils.

4. In the Temple lay the shewbread, which only the priests could eat. It is interesting that the writer is actually saying that the very priests serving God in the Temple, because they have rejected Christ, are now unworthy to eat the true table of God (Communion), in comparison to the Christians.

5. Poetic language stating that since the unbelieving Jews have expelled the Christians from the Jewish community, the Christians should accept that rejection since Christ also suffered “outside the camp.”

6. Paul--or perhaps the co-writer of the Epistle--was apparently free when this was written.

Free Hit Counters
Free Web Site Counter

Home