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Hebrews Chapter 7

Melchizedek was prototype of eternal priesthood

For this Melchizedek [was] King of Salem [early name for Jerusalem], priest of the Most High [God], who met Abraham returning from the conquest of the kings and blessed him [Genesis 14:18-20]. [Genesis 14 tells the whole story of Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot and meeting Melchizedek.] Abraham gave him [Melchizedek] a tithe [tenth] of all [the spoils from his conquest of the kings]. [Abraham understood that it was God who gave him the grace to be successful in triumphing over the kings, so when he met Melchizedek, he was meeting someone who already served his God as priest. Abraham was honoring God by giving the tithe to Melchizedek as an offering.]

Melchizedek was prototype of eternal priesthood

His name [Melchizedek] means “king of righteousness [in Hebrew “melki” means king, and “tzedek” means righteousness]. Furthermore, he was king of Salem, which is [to say] “king of peace” [since “salem” is the same as “shalom” which means “peace” in Hebrew]. 3 [Melchizedek required no lineage to qualify him to be a priest to God, for as far as what was recorded he was] without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. He was made a prototype of the son of God, living as a priest eternally [since there was no record of the beginning or end of his priesthood].

Now, consider the greatness of this man that even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of his spoils [acknowledging Melchizedek to be greater than himself]. In fact, those of the sons of Levi [the great-grandson of Abraham] who are in the priesthood are commanded by the Law to collect tithes from their own [brothers] even though they [too] are descended from Abraham. But it was one not descended from Abraham who received tithes from him [Abraham] and who blessed him who was the bearer of the “promises”, and no one would dispute that the greater blesses the lesser. [It was Abraham to whom God promised all mankind would be blessed and yet Abraham honored Melchizedek as greater than himself.]

And in the one case [the Levitical priesthood], the men who received tithes [eventually] died but in the other case [Melchizedek], the one who received [tithes] continues to live [since there is no Biblical record of his death]. And, in a sense, Levi, who received tithes [from others as a priest], through Abraham [who actually] paid tithes. 10 For he [Levi] was in the loins of his ancestor [as Abraham’s future great grandson] when Melchizedek met him. [Levi is honored as the patriarch of the Jewish priesthood, yet Levi’s ancestor Abraham gave honor to Melchizedek specifically for his priesthood before God, therefore establishing Melchizedek as having a higher order of priesthood.]

More effective priesthood needed that cleansed our sins

11 If therefore the Levitical priesthood was final [and perfect] since under it the people received the Law, what further need was there to call for another priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, rather than the order of Aaron [the son of Levi who was the first high priest]. [The purpose of a priest is to enact the covenant between God and his followers. If the followers sin, breaking their portion of the covenant, then the priest offers sacrifices to restore the covenant.]

More effective priesthood needed that cleansed our sins

12 For if the priesthood was superseded then there necessarily were also changes required in the Law [since it is a different order of priest who presides]. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken [Jesus] is a member of a different tribe where no one attended the altar [as priests], 14 for it is clear to all that our Lord came forth from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood. 15 Yet it is even clearer [concerning Jesus] that another priest has risen who is like Melchizedek, 16 not made priest by a law related to the flesh, but more powerful because it [the appointment] was everlasting. 17 For he [God] testified, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” [Psalms 110:4].

18 In that [announcement concerning the Anointed One, fulfilled by Jesus], there is a putting aside of the former commandment [concerning the Levitical priesthood and all of the rituals performed by them], because it was weak and ineffective. [As Paul says in Galatians 3:24, the Law was a guardian until God provided us something better and more effective.] 19 For the Law did not perfect anything, but the bringing in of a better hope [through receiving all that our great high priest Jesus has done for us] has allowed us to come close to God.

Jesus’ priesthood is both complete and eternal

Jesus’ priesthood is both complete and eternal

20 And it [Jesus becoming high priest] was not without an oath [a promise from God]! 21 The others [the Levitical order] became priests without any oath. But this one [Jesus, the Anointed One,] received an oath from him [God], saying to him [Psalms 110:4], “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever’”. [The Levitical order was under God’s command but each priest's appointment was temporary. The appointment of first Melchizedek as a forerunner and then Jesus was made as a promise and as an eternal appointment.] 22 By all these things [the ways in which his priesthood was superior], Jesus became the pledge of a much better covenant.

23 And there had to be many high priests [in the Levitical order] since death ended their tenure, 24 since he [Jesus] continues to live [having resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven] his priesthood is eternal. 25 Because of this, he is able to completely save and protect all those who come to God through him since he is always living to intervene [on their behalf]. [For any accusation, temptation, or affliction, he is our defense attorney, witness, and bodyguard. No one can successfully get at us because they have to go through him.]

26 He is exactly the kind of high priest we needed – holy [focused on God], innocent [not preoccupied with selfish thoughts], pure [no bad habits], set apart from sinners [he could redeem us only if no sin was found in him], made higher than the heavens [both because he was of the same substance as God himself and because of his sacrifice on behalf of all creation]. 27 He was not like the other high priests, who needed to daily offer sacrifices for their own sins as well as for the people’s [sins]. Instead, he did this [offered a sacrifice for the sins of the people] one time only when he sacrificed himself. 28 For the Law designates men as high priests in all of their weakness, but the speaking forth of the oath [Psalms 110:4] came after the Law [superseding and replacing the laws concerning priesthood], consecrating the Son as high priest forever.

Discussion questions

Hebrews Chapter 7 discussion questions

1. How was Melchizedek important, given that there are only a couple of mentions (Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalms 110:4) of him in the scriptures? Why was Abraham so glad to meet and honor him? Do you think that Melchizedek’s priesthood was truly of an eternal nature? (vs 1-8)

2. Why was a different kind of priesthood needed beyond the ceremonial, Levitical priesthood? Why did it need to be eternal (vs 9-24)?

3. How did Jesus’ personal attitudes and behavior affect his suitability as our high priest (vs 26-28)?

Hebrews Chapter 8

Hebrews Chapter 8

Jesus’ priesthood initiated the promised new covenant

Now, here is the chief point of all we have been saying: We have a high priest seated at the right hand [the place of honor and authority] of the Majestic One [God himself] in the heavens. [He is] minister of the Holy of Holies and of the true Tabernacle [tent made as a worship meeting place] erected by the Lord [in heaven] and not by man [on the earth]. For every high priest is called to offer gifts and sacrifices, which requires him to have something to offer. For if he were on the earth, he would not be a priest since there are already [the Levitical] priests to offer gifts according to the Law. [Jesus as high priest of the heavenly tabernacle gave his own life as a sacrifice opening the way for all men to enter the heavenly tabernacle and giving them the gift of salvation and eternal life.]

Jesus’ priesthood initiated the promised new covenant

5 [The Levitical priests] serve [on the earth] according to the pattern and picture of heavenly things exactly as God revealed to Moses. For he [God] said [to Moses in Exodus 25:40], “Make all things [in the Tabernacle worship] following the pattern shown to you on the mountain [Mt Sinai]. [The Tabernacle and its pattern of worship were specified to Moses in Exodus Chapters 25-30 and then carried out in Exodus Chapters 35-40. Then Leviticus Chapters 1-9 describes the ministry of the priests.] 6 But the ministry he [Jesus] has achieved is much greater [than the Levitical priesthood] because he is the mediator of a better covenant [binding agreement] which is [in turn] established on better promises.

For if the first one [covenant] had no lack then there would have been no need for the second. For, recognizing that lack, he [God] said to them [the Jewish people, as described in Jeremiah 31:31-34], “See, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, not the same as the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the Land of Egypt, for they did not continue in that covenant, and so I rejected them. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days [of the old covenant and the unfaithfulness of Israel to God], says the Lord. I will put my laws into their minds and I will inscribe them in their hearts. And I will be to them a God and they will be to me a people.

11 "And it will not be that every man must say to his neighbor or his brother, ‘Know the Lord’, for all will know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful [in my response] to their unrighteousness, and I will not remember [or keep a record of] their sins and attitudes.” [This is the heart of the new covenant – it is not simply a conveying of rules and required obedience, but it comes with the ability to follow God’s ways written on our hearts. As a result, those who follow God will finally become his people and follow Him as their God.]

13 When he said he has made a “new” [covenant], then he has made the first one “old”, and that which is worn out and grown old is ready to vanish away. [The old system of the Law will no longer have a purpose and use, and so will vanish away.]

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think God needed to establish the first covenant and the sacrificial system under Moses and the Levitical priesthood? Why couldn’t he have sent our savior a thousand years earlier? (vs 1-6)

Hebrews Chapter 8 discussion questions

2. When God revealed his plan for a new covenant, what effect do you think that had on Israel? Do you think the new covenant described in advance by Jeremiah is fulfilled by Christians today (vs 7-12)?

3. If you were a Jewish person (a “Hebrew”) new to belief in Jesus, do you think it would be hard to let go of the rules and ways of the “old covenant”? Why would the new covenant require the old covenant to vanish away? Do you think the old covenant has in fact vanished for those who are Jews in today’s world? (V 13)

Hebrews Chapter 9

Hebrews Chapter 9

Levitical worship did not remove sin consciousness

The first tabernacle had regulations for conducting worship and also had a holy place [where worship was conducted] in this world [patterned after the holy place of worship in heaven]. In the first [room of the] tabernacle, called the “Holy Place”, [after the entrance veil described in Exodus 26:36-37] the candlestick [Exodus 25:31], the table [Exodus 25:23-30], and the showbread [the 12 square loaves separated by gold plates, as specified in Leviticus 24:5-9] were placed. After the second veil hanging across the entire width [Exodus 26:31-33] was the [room of the] tabernacle called the “Holy of Holies”, in which were [placed] the golden incense altar [Exodus 30:1-10] and the Ark of the Covenant, which was entirely overlaid with gold [Exodus 25:10-15].

Levitical worship did not remove sin consciousness

4 Inside the Ark was the golden bowl which held the Manna [Exodus 16:33-34], Aaron’s rod which had budded [Numbers 17], and the two tablets of the Covenant [on which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments which Moses placed in the Ark (Deuteronomy 10:1-5)]. And over it [the Ark] were the Cherubim of Glory that cover the Mercy Seat [Exodus 25:17-22], of which we can’t [take the time to] speak now specifically.

6 When these things were prepared, the priests performed their ministry [in the morning and evening worship and at the appointed feasts] in the first Tabernacle room [the “Holy Place”]. 7 But once a year [Leviticus 16] the high priest entered the second Tabernacle room [the “Holy of Holies”] alone, but not without first offering blood [sacrifice of a bull or goat] for his own sins and [a second sacrifice] for the sins of the people. 8 The Holy Spirit was indicating that as long as the first room remained standing [with the veil separating the two rooms as specified to Moses], [the people] did not have access to the Holy of Holies.

9 The gifts and sacrifices that were offered in those days [under the old covenant] did not have the power to perfect the conscience [take the guilt of sin away] of the one conducting the ceremony, 10 since they were ordinances relating to the flesh only concerning food and drink and diverse washings imposed on them [by the Law] until the time this could be upgraded [by the much more effective sacrifice offered by the Anointed One].

The sinless Anointed One sacrificed himself to make a more powerful covenant

11 But when the Anointed One appeared as the high priest [to obtain for us] the benefits that were to come, it was through a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by human hands or of this material creation. 12 Neither was it by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood he entered into the “Holy of Holies”, once he had obtained eternal redemption [for all humankind by his dying on the cross in our place].

The sinless Anointed One sacrificed himself to make a more powerful covenant

13 For if the blood of bulls and goats[, animals without blemish, sacrificed for sins as described in Leviticus 16] and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those unclean [Numbers 19:2-10] can make us holy by purifying our flesh, 14 then how much more the blood of the Anointed One, who through the eternal Spirit was without blemish, shall cleanse your conscience from dead works [Hebrews 6:1-2] to serve the living God.

[Jesus had to be a sinless man to die in our place and remove our sin penalty. He was without blemish by virtue of being divinely conceived in his mother Mary through the Holy Spirit, born sinless, and then living without sin. When we say yes to his substitutionary death in our place and his living in us forever after, our entire conscience is cleansed, and we are completely free to serve God out of love, not guilt.]

15 And for this reason, he [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, to redeem through [his] death the sins committed under the first covenant [which even with sacrifices did not cleanse the conscience], that those called might receive the promise [of redemption] as an eternal inheritance. [Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice by giving his life, satisfying what could not be satisfied under the first covenant.]

The blood of Jesus sealed the new covenant

16 When there is a will, the death of the one who made the will is required for it to go into effect. 17 For a will becomes effective when the man who made it dies. It is not fulfilled while he is alive. [The Greek word, diatheke, here translated “will”. is the same word translated “covenant” in the previous verses. A blood covenant is a binding agreement which specifies the promises made by each party. The shedding of blood is required to confirm the commitment of both parties to the promises. Since the terms of such a covenant may in fact require the death of the parties involved in the covenant, it makes sense for one part of the covenant to specify the inheritance following the death. In the case of the “new covenant” provided through Jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus’ life and the shedding of his blood enacted both the sealing of the promise and the death that brought the inheritance of salvation specified in the will.]

The blood of Jesus sealed the new covenant

18 In fact, the first [covenant] was also confirmed with blood. 19 For after Moses had spoken aloud all the commandments of the Law, he took the blood of calves and goats, mixed with water, and using red wool and hyssop, he sprinkled both the book [of the Law] itself and the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the Covenant which he has charged you [to obey]. [The reading of the Law and sprinkling of the people is described in Exodus 24. The use of wool dyed red and hyssop for sprinkling is described Leviticus 14 concerning healing from leprosy but was likely used anytime purifying was required. Blood is used for the confirming of covenants both in covenants between men and between man and God.]

21 And also the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were likewise sprinkled with blood. 22 Almost all the things [used in priestly worship] were purified with blood, since according to the Law, there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. [Some of the detailed sprinklings described here (of the book of the Law, the tabernacle itself, and the vessels) are not clearly specified by Moses in the scriptures but, since sprinkling of blood was emphasized elsewhere, it is not surprising that the priests would similarly cleanse these items.]

The sacrifice of the Anointed One was eternal and complete

23 Therefore, truly all these [items on the earth that are] patterned after things in heaven, had to be purified by these elements [blood from animal sacrifices mixed with water], but the heavenly things themselves [were purified] with better sacrifices than these. 24 For the Anointed One has not entered into the holy places made by human hands which are imitations of the true ones, but rather he has entered heaven itself, standing before God on our behalf.

The sacrifice of the Anoied One was eterna and complete

25 Neither was it the case that he [the Anointed One] needed to repeatedly present himself [before God] like the high priest enters into the holy places every year with the blood of another [sacrifice on our behalf]. 26 Otherwise, he would have needed to repeatedly suffer since the foundation of the world. But now, a single time, at the culmination of the ages, he has appeared and cancelled sin by his self-sacrifice.

27 Since it is assigned to every man to die once and following this, [God’s] judgment [of their lives], 28 so also, the Anointed One, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, when he appears a second time, it will not be [again to die] for sin, but this time [to complete] the salvation of those waiting for him. [When he returns at his Second Coming, he will judge all, but those who accept him as Lord and Savior have already been saved from that judgment [John 5:24], and their salvation will be announced on Judgment Day. Those who did not accept him will have their fate announced of eternal separation and judgment from God (Romans 2:5-6, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:11-15).]

Discussion questions

1. What is your impression of what God was accomplishing through the sacrifices under the Old Covenant? What would have happened if they had simply eliminated the curtain separating the two rooms of the Tabernacle? Would they have been able to get closer to God? (vs 1-10)

Hebrews Chapter 9 discussion questions

2. Why was it important that Jesus have been sinless? How then did his sacrifice as an unblemished human remove sin at a deeper level? (vs 11-15)

3. How did Jesus’ self-sacrifice both guarantee the covenant and cause the inheritance of eternal life for those who accept him as their savior (vs 16-22)

4. Why is it important that Jesus’ high priestly sacrifice occurred in the heavenly tabernacle? Why is that more effective and permanent than the earthly sacrifices performed in the Tabernacle and Temple? What will be Jesus’ purpose when he returns? (vs 23-28)

Hebrews Chapter 10

Hebrews Chapter 10

Jesus' willing obedience unto death was required to remove our sins

For the Law provided [only] a hint of the benefits to come [through Jesus’ death on the cross] and, since it was not the true form of these things, could never perfect those who came each year and make sacrifices. For they would not need to keep offering [sacrifices] if the worshipper’s memory of their sins had been purged away. But instead there is a reminder of their sins every year [on the Day of Atonement].

Jesus' willing obedience unto death was required to remove our sins

[Jeremiah 7:22-24 makes it clear that God’s primary goal was that we would listen and obey. The sacrificial system was given because the people did not obey. When Jesus came, he willingly obeyed and did what we could not do, even with the sacrificial system, remove guilt.] 4 For it’s not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to remove sins. This is why he [the Anointed One] said when he came into the world, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings, but you have given me a body. In sacrifices and sin offerings you take no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Here I am – I have come. In the volume of the scroll it is written of me, I will do your will’”.

[The entire quotation comes from the Septuagint (the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek) version of Psalms 40:6-8. The Psalm was written by David but was understood by the rabbis at least in part to describe the coming Anointed One. Jesus truly became the Anointed One at his baptism when the Holy Spirit came on him and remained, and he was then fully ready to serve his Father. But he came not to preside over a religious ceremony as a ceremonial high priest, but to offer his whole being, his very body, to carry out the will of his Father. “The volume of the scroll” refers to the entire Hebrew scripture, which has references throughout to the necessity of the Anointed One to carry out the Father’s will, even to death.]

8 He [the Anointed One] said in the first part [of the Psalm] that he [God] has not delighted or taken pleasure in the sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings required by the Law. 9 When he [the Anointed One] said [in the second part], “I have come to do your will”, he is eliminating the first [animal sacrifices following the Law] in favor of the second [willing obedience even to death]. 10 By the will [of the Father] we are made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus the Anointed One, once for all.

11 [Under the Old Covenant,] every priest [in turn] performs his daily ministry [as prescribed in the Levitical priesthood (Numbers 28)], repeating the same sacrificial offerings that can never remove sin. [They fulfill the requirement of the Law, but don’t remove consciousness of sin from the priest or the people.] 12 But this [priest, Jesus,] after he offered his sacrifice for sins one time [only], sat down at the right hand of God forever [Mark 16:19, Ephesians 1:18-23], 13 where he expectantly waits for his enemies to be put under his feet [Psalms 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:25]. 14 For by this one offering, he [Jesus] has made forever perfect those being cleansed. [For all those placing their trust in Jesus, the penalty for all sin they would ever commit was paid and removed for all time.]

15 Also, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God had said this previously [in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and also referenced in Hebrews 8:8-12], 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days”, says the Lord. “I will put my laws into their hearts and I will write them in their minds. 17 And their sins and transgressions I will remember no more.” 18 Now, where these [sins and transgressions] have been pardoned, there is no longer a sacrificial offering [required] for sins.

Accepting Jesus' sacrifice also gives full access to God

Accepting Jesus' sacrifice also gives full access to God

19 Therefore having confidence, brothers, to enter into the holy of holies [to the very throne of God] by the blood of Jesus [making us holy and qualifying us]. 20 He [Jesus] has established for us a new and living way through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.

[The earthly Holy of Holies was available for only the high priest to enter through the veil to represent the people once a year, and always required sacrifices to be made for both the priest and the people. Now, through Jesus’ substitutionary self-sacrifice, every follower of Jesus may enter into the actual heavenly place of access to God, being made holy through Jesus’ pouring out of his blood and the giving of his flesh on our behalf.]

We need to grab ahold with our faith all that Jesus has done for us

We need to grab ahold with our faith all that Jesus has done for us

21 And having a great high priest over God’s house [who so effectively mediates between us and God], 22 let us come before him [together] with a trusting heart, in complete assurance of faith, since we have been sprinkled clean from guilt in our hearts [by Jesus’ blood poured out on our behalf] and our bodies have been washed clean with pure water [when we were baptized].

23 We must hold fast to the confession of our expectations - unwavering, believing - for the one who made the promises to us is faithful. 24 And we should consider each other’s welfare by stirring each other up to unselfish love and good works, 25 not skipping out on meeting together as some have done, but encouraging each other, especially as we can see the Day [of the Lord’s return] drawing near.

We will be judged if we turn away from the amazing sacrifice of Jesus

26 For if we sin [by turning away from our faith] after we have received the knowledge of the truth [that Jesus has died for our sins], there is no longer any sacrifice for sins [because Jesus’ sacrifice replaced every other sacrifice for sin], 27 but instead a fearful, certain expectation of judgment and fiery anger to devour the enemies [of God]. 28 Under the Law of Moses, anyone [who had accepted God’s grace but now rejected it] would be sentenced to death without mercy on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses.

We will be judged if we turn away from the amazing sacrifice of Jesus

29 How much worse a punishment will he deserve, having trampled on the one [who gave everything to save us], the son of God. He has rejected the blood of the covenant by which his guilt had been removed as though it were not precious and holy. And he has insulted the Spirit of grace. [This refers to the Holy Spirit, who has given us access to the mind and heart of God. To reject as unreal or not precious the very presence of God is to sin against the Holy Spirit as Jesus described in Mark 3:28-29.]

30 For we know the very one who said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will pay it out” [Deuteronomy 32:35-36] and again, “The Lord will judge his [own] people”. 31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.  [This refers to 2 Samuel 24:14, where David sinned by performing a census to measure his security, and then chose the punishment of a plague whose completion would be judged by the merciful Lord rather than the other two punishments which had fixed durations that had no provision for mercy. It is worth noting that God was very merciful and gave David a way to have the sentence commuted when the plague was only partially underway (2 Samuel 24:24-25).]

Don’t let go of your confidence in God

Don’t let go of your confidence in God

32 Do you remember an earlier time when, having been enlightened [and already following Jesus as savior and lord], you endured the suffering of a period of conflicts. 33 You went through both public scorn and persecution, some of you directly, and others of you helping the others handle what you already experienced. 34 For you felt compassion for others when they were prisoners and you accepted the loss of your possessions with joy [as you supported them], knowing you have lasting and more satisfying possessions in heaven.

35 Therefore, don’t let go of your confidence which has greatly rewarded you with endurance, 36 so that you can carry out God’s will [in your life through difficulty and suffering to the end] and receive all he [God] has promised. 37 For in a little while, “the coming one” [Jesus returning to the earth] will indeed come and not delay.

38 But my righteous one will live by faith [Habakkuk 2:3-4], and if he falls away, my soul will not be pleased in him. 39 But we are not from among those who shrink back and so lose everything, but we are from among those who believe [and trust all the way through] to the saving of the soul [Matthew 24:13]. [Persecution is difficult but we are expected to allow him to strengthen us so that we can persevere and not give into fear even if we must give our lives for his sake.]

Discussion questions

1. If the animal sacrifices were a shadow or hint of what Jesus did for us, then how would you describe the true form of what Jesus actually accomplished and the way the sacrifices gave a hint of that? Why were the sacrifices not long term effective? Why was Jesus’ sacrificial death effective? [vs 1-14]

Hebrews Chapter 10 discussion questions

2. Do you feel that God has written his laws on your heart? Do you feel that you have access to the throne of God? Why or why not? [vs 15-20]

3. In what ways do the trials and sufferings of your life tempt you to deny or leave your trust in God? How does our gathering together bolster us? What else can you do that reinforces your faith? Do you know people who have fallen away from faith? [vs 21-39]

Hebrews Chapter 11

Hebrews Chapter 11

Faith is confidence in what we believe God will do

[When we are living under pressure and threat of persecution, all the more we need to be sure of God’s promises! Our senses tell us we will soon be overwhelmed. But somewhere in our salvation process God has given us trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness. We could not follow our Savior without it.] Faith is when we solidly believe we will have the things we are hoping for, convinced [of the reality of what God has for us] even though we can’t see it [with our physical senses and reason]. [When we believe because of what we can see, hear, or feel, it is not called faith. Faith is based on what God reveals to us as real and reliable.]

Faith is confidence in what we believe God will do

2 For by it [their faith], the ancients [our ancestors whose stories we hear about] obtained a good reputation [before us and before God]. [Our belief is bolstered by what they accomplished from their belief. I will now recount to you a number of their stories to illustrate their faith.]

By faith we understand the universe [in all its dimensions of time and space] was created by the spoken word of God [Genesis 1:3], all that is visible being formed from nothing [we can see]. [It requires faith to recognize that God is behind all that we see, as we have been taught in Genesis Chapters 1-3.]

Faith was apparent in our earliest ancestors

By [his] faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain. God testified of his [Abel’s] righteousness, citing his gift as the reason. [Genesis 4:4-5 tells us about God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice and rejection of Cain’s. It seems likely that Abel sacrificed joyfully and spontaneously and gave God the best of his flock, whereas Cain did not even offer the first fruits of the soil. We don’t know how God showed his pleasure with Abel’s sacrifice and his displeasure with Cain’s, but there was some way it was public enough so that it was told to later generations, and that Cain was angry towards Abel. When we have faith in God’s love and provision, we easily and thankfully give. When we don’t have faith, we give reluctantly. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).] Though he died, [Abel] still speaks. [According to Hebrews 12:24, it is Abel’s blood that speaks from the ground, saying that it is better to die in faithful service to the Lord then to live faithlessly. This word is a strengthening word to those undergoing trial and persecution.]

Faith was apparent in our earliest ancestors

By faith, Enoch [pleased God and so] was transferred [from the earth to heaven], not experiencing death and no longer found [on the earth], because God had transferred him. For before he was transferred, he already had the reputation that he pleased God. [The days of Enoch are described in Genesis 5:21-24. The scripture is not saying that Enoch transferred himself by his faith, but rather that his faith pleased God. Jewish commentators on the scriptures thought highly of Enoch, and the Books of Enoch, ascribed to Enoch as the author, while not regarded as scripture, were respected sources of theological understanding. The only other person recorded to be transferred directly to heaven was Elijah (2 Kings 2:11).]

6 Without faith, you can’t please God. For the one being drawn closer to God must [first] believe he [God] exists, and [second] that he rewards those seeking him. [This is a simple description of the process of faith that we first become assured that the all-knowing and powerful one we have heard about really exists and second that he cares about us and both comes closer to us as we seek to know him and also answers our prayers as we appeal to him for help.]

7 By faith, Noah, warned by God of things, was moved by fear of things never before seen [rains flooding the earth] and so built an ark [a vessel made to protect its contents]. [The story of Noah is found in Genesis Chapters 6-9. God had never before sent rain and a flood, so Noah was all the more remarkable in his faith to believe God.] By doing this [in obedience to God], he saved his household and [at the same time] condemned the world [which would not be offered entrance to the ark]. By his faith, Noah became an inheritor of righteousness. [That is, he was considered righteous because he believed and obeyed God.]

Faith exhibited in Abraham's family

Faith exhibited in Abraham’s family

By faith, when he was called [by the voice of God], Abraham obeyed [Genesis 12:4-5] to go out to a place [Canaan] he was to receive as an inheritance, and he went out without knowledge of the place to which he was going. [Abraham’s father Terah had heard this call before him and taken his family partway toward Canaan (Genesis 11:31). Now Abraham, himself hearing directly from God, was willing to go where God directed, because he had faith that God was good. God had promised him that he would be a blessing to the earth and a great nation (Genesis 12:2-3) and later confirmed that he would inherit the land he was going to (Genesis 13:14-17).]

By faith, he [Abraham] camped in the promised land, living in tents in an alien land, along with Isaac [his son] and Jacob [his grandson], inheritors of the same promise. [God told Abraham in Genesis 17:19-21 that Isaac was the child who would fulfill his covenant promise.  But he also made his covenant promise directly to both Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15).] 10 For he was looking [ahead] for a city with foundations designed and built by God. [God was promising something that was not yet there but which he would clear the land of its current inhabitants because they did not honor God, give it to Abraham’s descendants, and build for his own honor and glory.]

11 Through faith, Sarah too received the ability to conceive a descendant, and when she was past the age [of child bearing] gave birth to a child, because she considered him [God] faithful [who promised her a child within a year in Genesis 18:10]. [Even though initially it seemed laughable to Sarah when she heard God declare she would yet give birth, she submitted to the word and believed.] 12 Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead [since he was 99 years old], sprang forth [the entire Jewish people] a multitude as great as the stars in the sky and as innumerable as the sand by the sea.

13 These all [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah] died in faith without having received the [complete fulfillment of the] promises. [An heir was born in each case, which was the fulfillment of God’s promise, but they did get to see the Jewish people become God’s chosen people on the earth, nor the Anointed One who would descend from them and bless the earth, nor all the people who would follow Jesus. And all this would result from their faith and God’s fulfillment of his promise. Yet the final fulfillment for each one would only happen in heaven.] But they saw the fulfillment from afar off and were convinced and fully embraced [all that God would do].

And they confessed that they were foreigners and pilgrims on the earth, 14 for those who talk like that are making it clear they are still seeking for the country [that God has for them][Note that Abraham especially did not purchase or conquer land in Canaan even when God told him it was his. He and his family after him continued to live in tents as though travelers, not residents.] 15 If they had remembered [with longing] the country they came from, they had the option to return. 16 But their expectation was for a better country, a heavenly one. And for that reason [that they trust God to deliver what he promised] God is not ashamed to be called their God and has prepared for them a city. [The future city is referenced throughout the scriptures – Matthew 25:34, John 14:3, Revelation 21:2.]

17 By faith, Abraham offered up Isaac when he was tested [by God as described in Genesis 22:1-2]. And so he to whom had been made the promises [of a nation descended from this one child], offered the only son born to him [that is, Isaac], 18 of whom it had been said [by God in Genesis 17:19] that it would be through Isaac that his descendants would be [counted]. 19 Abraham figured that God was able to raise him from the dead [if Abraham obediently sacrificed him], and, in a sense, he did [for Abraham had already emotionally given up Isaac’s life but God gave him back (Genesis 22:9-15)].

20 By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning what would happen in the future. [Isaac believed that what he pronounced over both in Genesis 27:27-29 would come true, even though what he spoke over Jacob he had intended for Esau, namely that he would gain wealth, influence, protection, and the lead position in the family. Once his blessing was spoken, Jacob knew that God would fulfill it (Genesis 27:33). Jacob also spoke a true but much less rosy blessing over Esau in Genesis 27:39-40 which also would be fulfilled.]

21 By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped leaning on the top of his staff. [Blessing is a form of prophecy and it comes forth from faith. In Genesis 47:29-31, after Jacob made Joseph promise to have his bones buried in the family tomb in Canaan, he worshipped God while leaning on his staff (or possibly the head of his bed). Genesis 48 then describes how Joseph brought Manasseh and Ephraim, his sons, and Jacob prophesied blessings over them. He gave the greater blessing to the younger, Ephraim, yet he blessed both as he gave them the same portion of his inheritance as his sons, and in this way both Ephraim and Manasseh became among the twelve tribes of Israel, taking their father, Joseph’s, place. In Genesis 49, Jacob also blesses his twelve sons.]

22 By faith, Joseph, just before he died, made mention of the [future] exodus of the children of Israel, and gave them [his family] instructions concerning his bones. [Joseph faithfully believed the words of the covenant received by first Abraham, then Isaac and Jacob and himself. God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15:13) that after 400 years, the children of Israel would return to the promised land, the land of Canaan, to possess it. Joseph’s bones were to be taken with them and placed in the family tomb, the Cave of Machpelah in Canaan where Abraham buried Sarah (Genesis 23).]

Faith involved in exodus from Egypt and conquering of the Promised Land

23 By faith, when Moses was born, he was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and so they overcame their fear of the king’s commandment. [The command in Exodus 1:22 was to immediately cast a male child in the river to die so that the Jews would not increase and threaten the Egyptians in number. Moses’ parents believed that he was destined to do something great so they had the faith God would rescue him.]

Faith involved in exodus from Egypt and conquering of the Promised Land

24 By faith, Moses, when he was grown up to manhood, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing instead to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than for a season to enjoy the pleasures of sin [as a prince in Pharaoh’s court]. 26 He valued the “rejection of Christ” [that is, the same punishment his savior would undergo for obedience to God] as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had regard for the [heavenly] reward. [The ability to see the heavenly reward for obedience is a major component of faith.]

27 By faith, he [Moses] gave up Egypt [as his home], not fearing the anger of the king [Pharaoh] compared to him [God] who is invisible, seeing that he endured many trials [in coming before Pharaoh to free his people, the Jews].

28 Through faith, he [Moses] instituted the Passover and the application of the blood, so that the one who destroyed the first born [among the Egyptians] would not touch them [the Jews] as well. [Exodus 12:1-14 describes how and why the Passover was instituted – to strike down the firstborn of animals and men in every household. Following the Lord’s instructions, each family of the Jews killed a year-old lamb and applied its blood to their doorposts so the destroyer angel would pass over their house. Moses heard these instructions from God and had faith both that this would be the plague that finally would cause Pharaoh to let God’s people go, and at the same time that God’s people would be protected by following these instructions. And God told Moses to institute this as a feast among the Jews forever to remember God’s provision.]

29 By faith, they [the Jewish people] passed through the Red Sea as through dry land, which the Egyptians attempted to do as well but were drowned. [Exodus 14 tells the story of God positioning the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea, Pharaoh and the Egyptians pursuing, God instructing Moses to use his staff to part the sea, the children of Israel crossing on dry land, the Egyptians pursuing, and return of the waters at Moses’ command, and the destruction of the Egyptians. Moses’ command of the waters was by faith, but here the children of Israel are commended for their faith in crossing on the dry land, since the waters appeared as though they could return at any time. As a result they began to have faith that God and his appointed leader could save them.]

30 By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they were circled [by the Israelite army and priests at Joshua’s command] for seven days. [Joshua 6:1-20 tells the entire story. In obedience to the Lord, each day they circled the city once, blowing the rams horns but otherwise silent. The seventh day, they circled the city seven more times, blew the horns and shouted, and the walls fell. Obeying the Lord in this manner required their faith, and their faith was rewarded.]

31 By faith, Rahab, the prostitute, was not slain among the unbelievers[, all those who lived in Jericho], when she received the spies with peace. [Joshua 2 tells the story of how Rahab helped the two spies sent by Joshua to Jericho, how she believed in God, and was delivered during the conquest of Jericho because of the aid she gave to the Israelites.]

Faith in the time of the Judges, Prophets, and Maccabees

32 And what more I could tell, but time would fail me, about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephtha. [The story of Gideon is told in Judges Chapter 6-7. Gideon learned to have faith and by following God delivered Israel from the Midianites. Judges Chapter 4 tells the story of Deborah and Barak. Deborah understood the need and summoned Barak into leadership, but Barak had to have faith to lead the Israelites against King Jabin and Sisera the commander of the enemy’s army. The story of Samson is told in Judges Chapters 13-16. Samson was vain and made mistakes but his faith gave him the courage and strength to sacrifice his life to have victory over the Philistines.  The story of Jephthah is told in Judges Chapters 11 and 12. Jephthah led the Gileadites, a branch of the Israelite tribe Manasseh, successfully against the Ammonites but made a huge mistake that cost his daughter her life. Yet he had the faith in the Lord to successfully lead the Israelites for six years.]

Faith in the time of the Judges, Prophets, and Maccabees

Also, David and Samuel and the Prophets. [The stories of both Samuel the prophet and David the king are told in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. The Prophets included all those who wrote books included in the Bible - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, although numerous others such as Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha were also included among the prophets.]

33 By faith, [they] overcame kingdoms, through their righteousness obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. [David’s faith overcame a number of kingdoms. And David’s faith obtained the promise that a descendant of his would always rule Israel (Jeremiah 33:17). Daniel’s faith in God led to the mouths of lions being shut (Daniel 6:22).]  34[They] vanquished the destructive power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong when they began weak, became valiant in war, turned foreign enemies to run away in defeat. [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith led to their protection from the raging fire (Daniel 3:15-26). David continually escaped the sword of Saul (1 Samuel Chapters 21-23) The story of Gideon (Judges Chapters 6-8) becoming a man of faith exemplifies beginning weak and becoming strong, as well as becoming valiant in war and turning foreign enemies away.]

35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others chose torture over being set free [if they turned away from their beliefs], so they might gain a better resurrection [putting off their reward until heaven]. [The faith of the widow of Zarephath led to her son being restored (1 Kings 17:19-24), and the Shunamite woman’s faith led to the raising from death of her son by Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37). The stories of the Maccabees in 170 B.C., chronicle the response of the Israelites when the pagan king Antiochus Epiphanes subjected those in Jerusalem to cruel punishment. While the story of the Maccabees is not included in most versions of the Bible, these stories were well known to New Testament writers. Several stories tell of those who defied torture and death when refusing to eat what was forbidden by Old Testament scriptures.]

36 And others had trials where they were cruelly mocked, whipped, and imprisoned. 37 They [some of them] were stoned, or sawn in two, or were tortured as they were slain with the sword. Some wandered about in sheepskins or goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. 38 The world was not even worthy of them, as they wandered in the deserts, and mountains, and ravines, and caves of the earth. [These stories include accounts from the Maccabees as well as those of the prophets. 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 tells the story of how the prophet Zechariah was stoned to death for not recanting the truth. There was a well known story that Manasseh, King of Judah, had Isaiah sawn in two for not supporting his idolatrous “reforms”, though this was not recorded in scripture. The account of the faithful wandering in the deserts in mountains appears to describe Judas Maccabaeus and his friends prior to the time they returned to Jerusalem and conquered the evil king and cleansed the Temple.]

39 And all of these, even though they were approved [as righteous before God] because of their faith, did not themselves receive the promise [they sought]. 40 Instead, God planned something better, that they [our predecessors] would not be perfected [in the completion of the promises] without us. [Each generation has built on the foundation of faith of the previous generations and added its own acts of faith, so that together we receive the fullness of what was promised.]

Discussion questions

1. How do you see yourself with regard to faith? Do you believe that God exists and that you will be rewarded for your trust? Do you have trouble trusting what the Bible says? Have you heard words from God, and how much do you believe them? [vs 1-6]

Hebrews Chapter 11 disussion questions

2. Who are some of your favorite faith heroes described in this chapter? What was it about them that you thought was great? When have you felt somewhat a faith hero yourself? What would need to change for God to see you as a faith hero? [vs 4-38]

3. Why has God designed our lives so that much of what we hope for is not achieved in our lifetime on the earth? What does scripture tell us is waiting for us at the end, that encapsulates all our collective hopes? (vs 13-16, 39-40)

4. Why does the Christian faith spread the most when the persecution against believers is the most fierce, such as in the some of the stories of the prophets and the Maccabees? What must you solidly believe to have the courage to stand against torture and death? (vs 33-38)

Hebrews Chapter 12

Hebrews Chapter 12

Learn to persevere from Jesus and those who have been faithful

1 Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [who in spite of tremendous obstacles walked in faith], let us set aside every burden and the sin all around us [that threaten to stop us from our goal], and let us run with perseverance the race set before us! [The race we are in is to live pure lives without succumbing to sin and to the pressure of the culture and opposition around us. In first century Israel especially, a follower of Jesus would have experienced much pressure to give up their Christian ideals and follow Jewish tradition and practices. Everyone everywhere experiences pressure to give in to cultural standards and live less than a pure life,]

Learn to persevere from Jesus and those who have been faithful

2 [Let us] study the [one who is both the] initiator and completer of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy which lay before him [when he completed his task], endured the cross, disregarding the [agony and] humiliation, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God [the highest place of honor and power in all of creation]. Focus on him, how he endured the opposition of those who sinned against him, so your souls will not grow weary [with the battle] and give up. You have not yet fought against sin to the point of blood. [Jesus wanted to give up the task his Father had assigned him in the Garden of Gethsemane but endured bearing the sin of all men to the point where he sweated blood (Luke 22:44).]

Accepting our trials as discipline from God

Have you forgotten the saying [Proverbs 3:11-12] we learned as children, which says, “My child, do not hate instruction by the Lord, or fall away when you are corrected by him. For everyone the Lord loves, he instructs, and every child he cares for, he disciplines.” If you are going through [a time that feels like] discipline, then God is treating you like a son, for what son is not disciplined by his father? But if you are not receiving any discipline, then you are illegitimate and not [true] sons.

Accepting our trials as disciplining from God

Furthermore, if the fathers of our flesh disciplined us and we respected them, then how much more should we be obedient to the Father of our spirits, and live. 10 For truly they [the fathers of our flesh disciplined us] as seemed best to them but he [the Father of our spirit] for our own benefit [disciplines us] so we might participate in his holiness. 11 While no discipline is pleasurable while it’s happening – it’s painful – yet for those submitted to it, it will ripen into the beneficial fruit of righteous living.

12 Therefore, [encourage yourself and] raise up your [tired] hands and strengthen your worn out knees [Isaiah 35:3], 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that [your inner] wounds will not become worse but instead can heal. [Living in the world requires us to be strong and steer ourselves carefully.] 14 Take a path of peace with all, and [yet at the same time seek] holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, 15 paying close attention so no one will fall short [in behavior] of the [righteousness given us by the] grace of God, and some poisonous plant spring up and trouble you and many be corrupted by it. [We want to get along with the people around us but remain free of sin. It’s easy to compromise when surrounded by compromise, and if we even allow a bad attitude in ourselves of depression, defeat, or distraction, it will cause a problem not only for us but all those around us.].

16 For example, someone might be sexually immoral or disposed toward evil like Esau, who sold his birthright for a morsel of meat [Genesis 25:29-34], 17 for you know how afterward, when he would have obtained the blessing [of his father], he was rejected, for he found no opportunity to change his mind though he sought it with tears. [Genesis 27:34-38]. [We can’t be casual about what we’ve been given through God’s grace. God has given us the blessing of holiness simply by believing in Jesus, but if, like Esau, do not value what we have been given, then we will prove we have never made Jesus our Lord, and may go into eternity without God’s blessing.]

Awesomeness of God and Heaven

Awesomeness of God and Heaven

18 For you have not come near the mountain [Mount Sinai] you could touch [with your senses], that burned with fire and thick clouds and darkness and stormy winds, 19 and the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words from a voice [of God which terrorized them] so that they begged to hear no more. [Exodus 19:16-19 describes the fearfulness of the Holy Mountain to the children of Israel, and Exodus 20:18-19 describes their request that they hear from Moses rather than God himself.] 20 For they could not even endure [the terrifying voice of] the command. And if even an animal might touch the mountain, it was to be stoned or shot through [with spear or arrow]. [Exodus 19:13 explains that no man or animal was to touch the mountain.] 21 And so terrifying was the sight, that Moses said, “I am scared out of my wits, I am shaking.”

22 But [because you are believe in Jesus and what he did for all mankind, and you are living a life dedicated to him, you are approaching a beautiful heavenly place not a fearful place.] You have come to [a much better place than Mount Sinai]:

  • Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [Hebrews 11:16], and to ten thousand [a number often meaning “innumerable”] angels!

  • 23 To the general assembly and church of the first-born in Heaven to those who are enrolled. [All the faithful ones who have died are among the first born believers who strived for heaven while on earth and are now enrolled there as citizens.]

  • And to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. [We have recounted how those who lived their life in faith were considered righteous, but now that they are in heaven they have been made perfect and have no fear of judgment.]

  • 24 And to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant and to the sprinkling of [Jesus’] blood [that ratifies the covenant], speaking better things than [that of] Abel. [Abel’s blood was shed by another and was given unwillingly and cried out for vengeance from the earth. Jesus gave his blood willingly and intentionally in the place of our paying for our sins with our own death.]

25 See that you don’t ignore him that is speaking [God, who lives within you]. For if the ones who ignored the one [Moses] who spoke on the earth did not escape [Hebrews 10:28], how much more [will we be subject to punishment] if we turn away from the one who spoke from Heaven? 26 His voice shook the earth then, but now he has promised [Haggai 2:6], saying, “Yet once again, I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven!” 27 And this “yet once again” signifies that, when those things are shaken, everything man-made will be removed, so that only things that cannot be shaken will remain.

28 Since we are receiving a kingdom which can’t be moved, let us receive the grace [since our benefits in his kingdom are assured] to serve God as we should with complete devotion and [appropriate] fear, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. [We want to love God, aware of his great love and kindness towards us but also understanding that continually disregarding his word leads to an eternal hell.]

Discussion questions

1. How does thinking about what Jesus went through help you through your own trials? (vs 1-4)

Hebrews Chapter 12 discussion questions

2. When you go through difficulties, is this always God’s discipline? What are some of the ways we may get off track when we feel under pressure? (vs 5-17)

3. What do you think are the main distinctions between the place of God’s authority under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Why do we need to treat God with a measure of fear? (vs 18-29)

Hebrews Chapter 13

Hebrews Chapter 13

Final words of encouragement

1 Let your love [for others] continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unawares [as when Abraham showed hospitality to the three strangers in Genesis 18:2]. Remember those who are in captivity as though you were with them, and for those who’ve been mistreated since you also know what it’s like to bodily suffer.

Final words of encouragement

Marriage is to be honored among all, and let the bed be undefiled. [Remain pure if you are unmarried. If you are married, remain faithful. Never get between a husband and wife.] For God will judge those who are sexually immoral or adulterers.

5 Let your attitude be to avoid desiring what you don’t have, being content with what you do have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [Deuteronomy 31:6] [therefore he will always supply what you need]. So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper” [Psalms 37:25]. And I will not be afraid of what man will do to me [Psalms 27:1 and Psalms 118:6]. Remember those who have led you, who have spoken to you God’s word. As you consider the way their instruction ended [that is, many were martyred], imitate their faith!

Our Christian faith has its own altar and celebration separate from Judaism

Our Christian faith has its own altar and celebration separate from Judaism

“Jesus, the Anointed One – the same yesterday, today, and in all times!” [This was apparently a well-known saying.] [Therefore,] don’t be carriers of many or unusual doctrines, for it is better for our hearts to be fixed on [the simple truth of] grace than with [rules for distinguishing when] food [used in sacrifices can be considered clean], which have profited no one. 10 We [followers of Jesus] have an altar [where we celebrate the death of Jesus for our sakes] at which they have no right to eat who participate in the Temple sacrifices [as part of Jewish Law].

11 For when the blood is brought into the Holy Place by the high priest, the bodies [of the sacrificed animals] are burned outside the camp [when Israel was camped in the wilderness, as described in Leviticus 4:12]. 12 In the same way, so that Jesus might make the people holy with his own blood, he [also] suffered [death] outside the gate [John 19:20]. [At the time of Jesus, the location of his crucifixion was outside the city wall but today it is inside the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem.]

13 Therefore, let us go out to be with him outside the camp so we can bear his rejection [along with him]. [The traditional Jews will always reject us Jews who believe in Jesus because to them we have gone “outside the camp” in what we believe, but we are one with our Savior when we subject ourselves to the same rejection he experienced, and yet through that we gain life forever with God.] 14 For we have no abiding city [or camp] but there is one to come that we have been seeking. 15 Therefore, let us continually offer through him [Jesus] the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of our lips being our thanksgiving to his name.

16 But don’t forget to do good or to communicate [to others the good things that you have through your faith], for this is the kind of sacrifice that especially pleases God. 17 Obey your leaders and submit yourself [to their instruction] for they watch over your souls, since they must give an account, so that they might be given joyfully rather than an aggrieved, for that would not be to your benefit.

Request for prayers and final blessings

Prayer request and final blessings

18 Pray for us, for we rely on a good conscience and that we are willing to live honestly in all things. 19 But even more so, I ask you to pray for this, that I may return to you more speedily.

20 Now, may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you perfect in every good work to accomplish his will working in you, which pleases him to do, through Jesus, the Anointed One, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 And I ask of you, brothers, to bear with this word of encouragement I have written to you in a few words [compared to how much I would have liked to share]. 22 Know that our brother Timothy has been sent off [perhaps to bring a message elsewhere], and with whom I will come to see you if he returns soon.

23 Give greetings to all of your leaders and all the believers from all in Italy who salute you.  Grace be with you all. Amen.

Discussion questions

1. What does the writer emphasize as important elements of continuing to love? (vs 1-7)

Hebrews Chapter 13 discussion questions

2. What do you think it was like to be a Jewish follower of Jesus in the first century? Do you understand the argument that Jesus had to die outside the camp (that is without the support of his countrymen) means that Jewish followers might also have to venture outside the “Jewish camp” I order to live in the truth? (vs 8-17)

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