The evidence from the early church fathers is that the apostle Paul wrote this letter. For convenience, I shall assume this in my comments.
God spoke to the human race through the Old Testament prophets. We are very blessed to have these prophecies written down. Paul uses the term "fathers" to refer to these Old Testament prophets. The term "fathers" means those who came before who taught truth. We might object to calling our local priest by this title, especially if he doesn't seem to grasp the essence of the Christian faith, but we should certainly be willing to call the founders, teachers, and defenders of the Christian faith by this term — the church fathers.
(Hebrews 1:3) Who being the brightness of his glory, 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;
(Hebrews 2:8) 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.
(Hebrews 2:14) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
It is remarkable to learn that Satan has the power of death over us. This implies that he has incredible power over the created realm in which we reside; perhaps even that he had some sort of creative power which made it such a bad world in the first place.
Christians typically assume that Satan is just like us in that he merely resides in this world as we do and is confined by this world as we are. They don't consider that he actually participated in creating the world in its present condition (using the power God granted to him.)
Our fear of death drives us in this life. Even when we are not consciously thinking about death, our soul(which resides in the spiritual realm) is fully aware of it at all times. Our soul is pummelled and buffeted by the wicked spirits residing along with us in Satan's kingdom of darkness. We are so weak. I am reminded of small children who are so fragile but yet are treated so badly by other children — no wonder they cry. I'm surprised anyone survives childhood unscathed (maybe no one does.)
This verse states we are in bondage because of our fear of death. This implies that if we had no fear of death, we would not be in bondage.
(Hebrews 2:17) 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.
The phrase "enter into rest" (and its variations) refers to those who receive a promise from God which must be appropriated by faith. After a time of trial in which they exercise faith in God's promise and in God, at the end of it all, there is rest. It is significant that those who died in the wilderness seemed at first to have faith because they left Egypt, full of hope. But when hardships came, they soon lost sight of the glorious vision.
As Christians, we are given glorious promises which we must appropriate by faith. For the Israelites, the rest referred to was entering into the promised land, into Canaan; for Christians it is entering into the new heavens and new earth.
People often use these passages as an example of typology, that the entering into the promised land is a type of entering into the new heavens and new earth. I don't find this kind of distinction to be particularly useful and it has it dangers.For example, I have heard people claim that these Israelites who died in the desert were not redeemed since dying in the desert is a type of dying in your sins. This is absurd! The rest they were promised consisted simply of having their own nation in the promised land, that is all. There is simply no connection between them living long enough to possess the promised land and their ultimate eternal redemption. This story illustrates an aspect of how God works and has its ultimate fulfillment in eternal redemption.
If people merely used Old Testament stories to illustrate how God operates, I would not object. But they often link together the meaning of the stories for us today with the fate of those ancient actors in these stories. Some even go so far as saying that no one at all in the Old Testament is redeemed because all they had was the law which only brings death.
(Hebrews 4:3) 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.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is quick [living], 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.
Several common errors in interpreting this verse...
The word of God is living. This is because it resides in the spiritual realm, and everything in the spiritual realm is living. Just as living beings can act upon other living beings and upon the physical world, so also the word of God has power.
Jesus fights against error and false teaching with the two-edged sword.In my view, symbols have a literal existence in the spiritual realm.Thus, in Revelation 5we see Jesus as a sacrificial lamb having been slain, and so he is. In John 6 Jesus claims to be the bread of lifewhich we are to literally consume; this occurs during the Eucharist. God's word penetrates every aspect of our being, both soul and body. God's word knows our thoughts and intents. God's word is God himself in a form that interacts with his created cosmos, spiritual and physical.
This high priest has a throne — he is both king and priest after the order of Melchizedek, who Paul will refer to shortly. In coming to Jesus to receive his grace of redemption, we must think of him as a ruler who has the power to grant such things. And we must humbly ask him to grant it; those arrogant Christians who think God owes them their salvation are in big trouble.
Paul has been discussing various kinds of troubles we need help from, especially deliverance from our sin.
The role of high priest in the Old Testament nation of Israel was to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people for the forgiveness of their sins. Note that this is not the role of the pope; and the Catholic Church doesn't teach this about the pope and never has.
Note that the second person of the Trinity is eternally in the state of being begotten; of being called to perform tasks. He was never born in the way a person is born, at some past date of our lives. But just as I will forever by my father's son, so also, the second person of the Trinity is eternally the Son of the Father. Their relationship did not begin on a certain day as did mine which started due the birth event. There was no birth event in the Trinity, just the eternal condition of having been born.
The significance of this is that Jesus understands how we feel in being someone's son since he is also. And he always looks to the Father with that respect and admiration of a son. The relationship of the persons of the Trinity are not generic, undefined relationships; rather, they have real tangible significance.
In a like manner, Jesus forever will love his mother, Mary, as only a son can. She will forever be to him the "mother of God", not because she is deity (she isn't) but because he is.
(Hebrews 5:7) 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;
Paul has many things to say about Jesus but thinks his listeners are so dull-witted that it is hard for him to explain it all. Or perhaps they are merely disinterested in the topic. I wonder if it is worth trying to teach someone who doesn't want to learn? This does not bode well for the future of Christianity if the average Christian was so unable to learn the truths of the faith. Perhaps this is part of the reason that the bishops very early started exerting such strong control and emphasizing the rites and rituals instead of each Christian having a Holy Spirit-enlivened faith life?
(Hebrews 5:12) 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.
(Hebrews 6:1) Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us go on unto perfection [maturity]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Paul has been chiding them because they should be teachers, but are still babes in Christ; he wants to move on to more advanced topics. He expects Christians to become mature in their faith. A mature faith builds on the foundational teachings which he lists.
Paul wants to quit talking about the elementary teachings but lists them once more...
More elementary teachings...
So here is Paul's answer to the question: "what must I do to be saved?" You must repent of your sin and look to God in faith. You must be baptized because your sins are remitted then. You must hope in a yet-future resurrection of the dead at which time you will receive the final reward of the new heavens and new earth— if you are judged worthy.
This verse says it is impossible, not improbable or unlikely, implying those in this category who fall away from the faith will never return to it. Does this allow for some who might have a deathbed conversion?
The will can't be turned once it sets course on a direction. Perhaps it's stated as impossible because the writer has never seen any contrary examples. Usually when a Christian apostasies, it is permanent.
Four words we wouldn't expect to see together: hope, assurance, diligence, end. We are to focus our hope on the end state, on the new heavens and new earth,not on some condition during this life. Certainly we wish to have assurance that we will end up there, but we cannot have this assurance without diligence. Anyone who is not living out the virtuesor who is committing mortal sin should be worried.
Paul uses the image of the cities of refuge in which a person who had accidentally committed a crime could flee to for refuge and they could hang onto the horns of the altar for safety. No one was to harm them until there was a proper trial. Christ and his sacrificial work on our behalf is to be our refuge and we are to cling to him for safety from the eternal judgment of sin.
(Hebrews 7:5) 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:
(Hebrews 7:11) 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?
(Hebrews 7:21) (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:)
(Hebrews 8:5) 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.
The Old Testament covenant was flawed. Why would Christians wish to emulate its characteristicssuch as laws, rules, rites, priests, priestly authority? This is an example of needing to refer to the teachings and practice of the apostolic church. We should certainly emulate them since the apostles are the authority.
The phrase "for finding fault with them" explains why God wished to create a New Covenant. The Old Covenant did not have the power to make people truly righteous; in fact, it was never intended to do this. It provided the context for righteous living for those living under the Old Covenant and it pointed the way to the New Covenant. Many who sincerely attempted to please God through faith in his Old Covenant were redeemed. The Old Covenant did not require perfection, but provided for repentance, confession, and God's forgiveness.
The New Covenant has these same ingredients. When we sin, we must repent, then come to God pleading for his forgiveness. Because of the false doctrine of once-saved-always-saved, many Christians think they can sin with impunity and it does not put their salvation at risk. But God judges us based on our works; the Bible is very clear about this point.
(Hebrews 8:9) 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.
(Hebrews 8:10) 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:
Even in the new covenant we are to follow God's law. Christians often claim to be free from law, but this is not so. The difference now is that we don't have an external institution of laws commanding us what to do and enforcing our behavior (someone please inform the Catholic Church of this), rather, the laws are written in our heart and in our mind. We are to learn the laws and obey them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The new covenant is a covenant with the house of Israel, and this is the Church. Gentiles who join the Church are grafted-in to the body of this house of Israel.
This is a surprising verse if you notice carefully; it's the opposite of what we would expect, of what we are usually taught. Just as the new covenant has ordinances, so also the first covenant had ordinances too. We look to the Old Testament not to see what to discard in Christianity but, rather, to understand the meaning of our rules and laws, those written on our minds and hearts.
(Hebrews 9:4) 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;
(Hebrews 9:15) 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.
(Hebrews 9:19) 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,
(Hebrews 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.
Many Christians interpret this to mean that no one in Old Testament days was redeemed. But even the worshippers of Old Testament days needed faith, that's why the prophets scolded them announcing that God hates their sacrifices,because they had incorrectly started seeking salvation by works only.
Many Christians also interpret this verse to mean we are not to become perfect, in fact, that we can't become perfect. Certainly our works don't make us perfect, which Paul admits. But Jesus and the apostles exhort us to perfection.
I have serious questions about this. What were Christians in the early church to do if their bishop was an Arian (as most were) or some other kind of heretic? No one seems to talk about this issue or provide any guidance at all. They admit there are heretics and condemn them in the harshest of terms, and they even counsel Christians to avoid them. But how were these early Christians to even know if there bishop was a heretic or not? And what about later in church history, when bishops seemed to have no concern whatsoever for the Christians under their charge? And I have the same problem today: the Catholic Church has clear errors of teaching, the Episcopalians seem to care more about LGBT and feminist causes than in proclaiming the gospel, the Lutherans seem to think that Luther's rantings and ravings qualify as a statement of faith, most fundamentalist evangelicals have many false doctrines, and etc. etc. Which church would Paul wish me to attend? (I attend church weekly.)
Most churches I have attended do not provide for opportunities to exhort one another; it is simply not part of their culture. Allowing others to exhort you would require developing a certain level of trust and intimacy. This is supposed to be one of the purposes of going to church.
(Hebrews 10:29) 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?
After becoming Christians they endured persecution.
(Hebrews 10:34) For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods [confiscation of your property], knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance [possessions].
Faith is not a substance, not a physical attribute of the universe. Rather, when we exercise faith, it is as if the future thing we believe for has already occurred — but in the future, awaiting time's incessant march. We don't see it fulfilled yet except in our soul,with our eyes of faith.
Most of these examples of faith in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith are very mysterious, not matching the standard Christian notion of faith. It seems God's idea of saving faith is different than that of fundamentalist evangelical Protestantism.
Notice that the word of God is the creative power of the universe. The Bible contains the words of God; it is not itself the word of God except that it was inspired by the word of God. People proclaim the word of God which includes God's gospel message as well as the enlivening energy of the Holy Spirit.
(Hebrews 11:4) 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.
Abel's faith consisted of obeying God in the proper manner of offering sacrifice to God. In doing this, he became righteous. Thus, we have faith in doing workspleasing to God out of obedience to God. We are not saved by faith only.In the case of Abel, there is no mention of his faith except in terms of his works.
Abel still speaks to us today even though he died long ago. Does he speak merely through the memory of his deeds, written down as they were in scripture? In my view, this explanation is inadequate. I think he is a Saint in the tradition of Catholic Saintsand we can pray to him and interact with him. In reflecting on his life of faith, our soul interacts with his soul in the spiritual realmand we become enlivened and refreshed by his influence.
Enoch did not die; this through the power of faith. But note that Enoch never himself chose to be translated in this manner and did not thereby use the power of his faith to obtain this benefit.
Here's what happened: God wished for Enoch to not die and was able to do it because of Enoch's faith empowering him to live a righteous and holy life pleasing to God. God was therefore justified in translating him; if Enoch were not righteous and holy, God could not have done this.
Notice that the faith mentioned here is the same as saving faith since all that is required for salvation is living a life that pleases God. But faith does not result in our being translated as Enoch was — he was not granted this benefit by his faith.
Enoch was not the only person translated in this way; this also happened to Mary,the mother of Jesus. In my view, neither of them have resurrected bodies yet; when they were translated into heaven (into the spiritual realm) their bodies just disappeared. Later, at the general resurrection, their bodies will reappear in resurrected form. Something similar happened with Jesus at his ascension — his body was hidden behind a cloud and disappeared from the physical realm.
This is a key verse. In order to be saved, a person must believe that God exists, and that God interacts with each of us based on whether or not we seek him; and whether we seek him based on what pleases him (rather than on what we might think he would like if he were like us.)
Notice it is also true that, without works,it is impossible to please God. Why would God be pleased with someone who claimed to have repented from their sins but who still commits moral sinshabitually? Faith without works is dead faith.
(Hebrews 11:7) 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.
God warned Noah about the coming of the flood;this warning was very scary. Noah had no choice but trust God would save him and his family in the ark he built. He likely was tempted to skip building it; doing so consumed his life.
Noah condemned the world on behalf of God, allowing God to judge evil and yet continue the line of righteous humans. Ultimately Jesus the Messiah was born from the line of Noah. Jesus graced the world in 2 ways with the righteousness which is by faith: (1) Jesus is this righteousness which we receive in faith, and (2) we can become righteous by receiving in faith his grace.
This is not the usual fundamentalist evangelical Protestant view of saving faith. God commanded Noah to build an ark, to do a work, and in doing it Noah exercised his saving faith.
I wonder how many people today would be considered great people of faith by relocating to another part of the country? Abraham's relocation was of God, called by God.The faith part of Abraham's relocation was in leaving Haran, not in leaving Ur with his father Terah.
God didn't reveal Abraham's final destination when he called him to relocate. He didn't have to worry about finding a job as he journeyed; he took his herds with him.
Abraham was looking for a future city he would inhabit after he died. This means he expected to be resurrected into the new heavens and new earth.The city is the new Jerusalem,a literal city in the new heavens and new earth.
Notice Sarah received strength to have another child in her old agethrough faith. I suppose she cooperated with God by attempting to have another child; she had likely long before given up on this hope.
A funny line, an old person referred to with "as good as dead".
(Hebrews 11:13) 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.
We should be surprised in the mention of none of these having received the promises, after all, Abraham and Sarah had that child, Noah built that ark and was saved by it, Enoch was taken into heaven instead of dying physically. The true goal of faith is yet-future for everyone, the new heavens and new earth.
We are strangers and pilgrims in this current world because it is contaminated by sin. We will only truly be finally home once sin and death are destroyed.
A heavenly city and heavenly country. This country is better because the command to relocate there was from God himself. The heavenly city is in the new heavens and earth.The phrase "heavenly city" is not a figure of speech referring to heaven or such but, rather, refers to a literalcity Abraham will literally inhabit in the new heavens and new earth.
This is what the 144,000 will do in the templein the new heavens and new earth.They will bring animals to the temple as offerings and there will be some sort of Eucharistic substitutionary sacrifice as Jesus appears on the altar as a lamb that was slain.
A verse used to support the notion of Typology.But Isaac didn't literally rise from the dead like Jesus did after his crucifixion; rather, he was actually not sacrificed at all. I don't understand how not doing something is a type of doing something.
Abraham knew God could and would bring Isaac back to life after he was sacrificed. A grisly idea. This whole scene is macabre.
We might wonder how these blessings of Isaac were acts of faith? Certainly Isaac knew his blessings were prophetic having a future fulfillment. I imagine a man of God would not want to claim of future events unless these were revealed by God.
We might wonder why the writer of Hebrews choose this event in the life of Isaac to highlight? Based on the fundamentalist evangelical Protestant view of faith, we should prefer a mention about Isaac's love of God or such.
We might wonder why the writer of Hebrews choose this event in the life of Jacob to highlight? Based on the fundamentalist evangelical Protestant view of faith, we should prefer a mention about Isaac's love of God or such.
We might wonder why the writer of Hebrews choose this event in the life of Joseph to highlight? Based on the fundamentalist evangelical Protestant view of faith, we should prefer a mention about Isaac's love of God or such.
(Hebrews 11:23) 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.
This verse speaks of the faith of Moses' parents. This faith of theirs was saving faith, faith leading to redemption.
Their saving faith consisted of (1) rebelling against unjust rulers who commanded that young children be handed over for execution, and (2) planning and executing the risky scheme to save their baby by putting him in a small boat on the river to float into Pharaoh's daughter's court. There was plenty that could have gone wrong with this scheme.
I suspect Moses' parents were of a privileged class living just upstream from Pharaoh's daughter.
I wonder if Pharaoh's daughter was not too happy with Pharaoh's command to kill their babies? Perhaps she raised Moses to subconsciously rebel against Pharaoh since she was secretly a traitor?
I wonder whether they had to explain to the authorities where their newborn baby was? Their faith consisted in: (1) risking the wrath of the authorities for not turning over their child, and (2) hoping God would miraculously orchestrate the salvation of their baby; that it would survive the trip on the river and have a good future.
I should note that neither of these things are considered by many Christians as qualifying for consideration as saving faith, rather, relying on these for salvation would be considered as salvation by works.But based on this passage from the book of Hebrews we see: (1) that view of faith is wrong, and (2) that view of the role of works in salvation is wrong. Shame on them for failing to interpret the Bible properly preferring, instead, to use the heretical doctrine of Sola Fideto color (warp) their interpretation.
(Hebrews 11:24) By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
This verse makes it sound like Moses knew of the Messiah.Where did he learn of this? If he learned about it from the Israelites who influenced his life, his parents and others, this implies they knew about this topic,but this is unlikely. If Moses had a vision from God about the Messiah we should expect him to mention it again and again, but he doesn't.
Moses was motivated to abandon his high position in Egypt to rescue his own people by his desire to receive eternal rewards. This should be the goal of all of us, the spend eternity in the presence of the Lord in the new heavens and new earth.
I suppose it is proper to refer to God by referring to Christ since he is the second person of the Trinity. But I doubt if Moses had this concept in mind. I think the writer of Hebrews is adding this, a form of revisionism making it sound like Moses knew more than he did.
Rahab avoided the genocide of Jerichoby making a deal with the spies, by asking for safety. Her faith in the God of Israel motivated her but her actions were required to finish the job. Thus, both faith and works are required for salvationcontrary to the claims of fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.
The writer seems to have run out of steam and merely begins dropping names. Thus, we don't learn of specifically what it is these others did that demonstrated their faith: Gideon,Barak(it's odd that Deborah isn't mentioned), David,Samuel.
We can find various people fitting the examples given below.
Elijah brought a boy back to life.This act of faith is mentioned pertaining to examples of saving faith. This is not the kind of thing mentioned by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants when discussing salvation. It seems God's idea of saving faith is different than theirs.
The Old Testament does not mention anyone being sawn in two; this comes from a source outside the Bible. Thus, the Bible is not all that is needed;other sources such as the Early Church Fatherscan be used as sources for truth (as long as these sources are true.)
All will be resurrected at the same time, in a time yet future.
(Hebrews 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,
Running the race and winning involves two aspects...
The heroes of the faith of chapter 11 all had one thing in common: they were holy and righteous. In reflecting on their example, we should live holy lives, pleasing to God. But we should note: all these were persecuted and sometimes martyred for their faith. The author eases into the topic of enduring persecution in verse 2, then in verse 14returns back to the topic of living holy, righteous lives, giving some practical examples of what to do or not do.
(Hebrews 12:2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher [perfecter] 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.
As we lay aside our sin and run the race, we are to continue to look to Jesus. Jesus is the author of our faith, in other words, our faith is in him and in his work for us. Jesus is the finisher of our faith, meaning that he finishes it and perfects it; we can be assured he will keep us from start to finish.
Just as a parent considers it a joy to raise children even though there is hardship, so also, in his love for us, Jesus considered it a joy to die on the cross so we could have redemption. He loves us and wants us to be with him.
Shame is not a good thing — there will be no shame in the new heavens and new earthjust as there was no shame in the garden of Eden until sin entered. Jesus endured this as well; he endured being hated and spat upon by those he loves.
After the ascension, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father. This means he is one with the Father, deity, since no mere created creature can sit down as an equal with God. Jesus is now seated on the throne, meaning, he is ruling now in his kingdom. This means the kingdom exists now, in the church age. Ruling over the powers of darkness, Jesus is able to snatch people from spiritual death and usher them into light.
The writer compares the hostility against Jesus with that against Christians. Those hearing this letter read to them during church service were still alive, not martyred. There had been a few martyrs already but there was coming soon a long age of martyrdom.
Some (most?) interpret verses 4 to 11 in a way that is clearly incorrect. They abruptly interrupt the flow meaning at verse 4 without explaining why this should be so. In doing so, they come to a contradiction no one seems to notice. I shall explain...
Verses 1 to 3 of chapter 12 clearly refer to Jesus enduring hardship, difficulty, and ultimately death at the hands of sinners. But in verse 4 the focus allegedly abruptly shifts to Christians who endure hardship in their struggle with their own personal sin; presumably the hardships are from God as a form of discipline and correction to help Christians conquer their sin.
The side-effect of this line of reasoning is that, once a person has committed their lives to not sinning, their hardships should cease. But it doesn't seem the author has this in mind at all; the hardships will continue until death, and some will even be martyred just as some or the heroes of faith in chapter 11 were.
We must, therefore, reject this entire interpretation.
A better interpretation is that the sin and sinners referred to in verses 3 and 4 (and no where else in the reminder of chapter 12) is external to the Christian, just as it was external to Jesus — he did not cause his hardship by his own sin, obviously. Just so, faithful and loyal Christians do not cause the hardship they endure when persecuted and even martyred for the faith. This interpretation fits better with chapter 11 in which some heroes of the faith were persecuted and martyred for the faith.
Therefore, the chastening from the Lord referred to starting in verse 5 is to prove our faith, not to punish us for our sins.
A new theme is added into the mix: chastening of the Lord. From these verses in Psalms we see that this chastening in not due to the person's sin but, rather, to persecution from the wicked: Psalm 94:12Psalm 118:18Psalm 119:75
When Christians are persecuted for their faith they should consider it an honor to serve God in this manner. Those who become angry with God for allowing these trials may find themselves abandoning the faith altogether; God demands our complete loyalty to him.
We simply can't explain why some have an easy life of faith and others must endure the most extreme of hardships.
Persecution and martyrdom is a way God expresses his love for us; in standing firm in our faith in times of extreme trial we are, in effect, worshipping the God we cling to. In expressing our loyalty to him even in times of hardship, we honor him, we express our love for him. When a human father expresses love for his son by disciplining him for being childish, immature, and inexperienced in the ways of the world, a bond between the two is formed. This process may seem unpleasant at the time.
The key to these verses is properly understanding the meaning: that we are bonded to God when we express our faith in times of persecution, not that God punishes Christians for their sin because he loves them.
Everyone assumes this metaphor of a father discipling his son is to be taken as meaning that God disciplines us and teaches us just as a father disciplines and teaches his son. Certainly God does this, but this is not what the author is saying! A bit of analysis is in order...
Children are disciplined by their parents. A child who is not disciplined is not a true child, but is illegitimate. Presumably, in Paul's day, the fathers of these had abandoned mother and child resulting in no paternal discipline for the child.
All this lengthy (and confusing) discussion was for the purpose of encouraging Christians to be strong under persecution, just as the heroes of faith were in chapter 11.
I don't recall ever coming to Mt. Zion or the Heavenly Jerusalemwhen I became a follower of Christ. Some interpret these images figuratively (presumably their memory is no better than mine), but I prefer to interpret the Bible strictly literally.Since the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven is a yet-future event, therefore, the writer is speaking of a yet-future event. Some translations say "you have come" and some "you are come". We have already received it by faith but will only finally experience it in the future, after receiving a resurrected body. We will not be afraid to come directly into God's presence.
(Hebrews 12:25) 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:
Church leadersare to rule over Christians at large; but they must be qualified. Why should we allow unholy, corrupt, deceivers rule over us?True Church leaders will speak the word of God correctly and infallibly.We are to observe their life to prove them as true to apostolic teaching and as sincere followers of Christ. We are to follow the example of such leaders as these. The rule of Church leaders is limited to the life of faith; those who are heavy-handed and who meddle in the details of people's lives may be more like cult leaders than true servants of the gospel.
This verse doesn't specifically that Jesus was also the same from eternity past; only from yesterday. Some might object to limiting the word "yesterday" like this, but look it up in Strong's concordance; it means "yesterday", or "the time just past"; it doesn't mean "from eternity past". Most Bible commentators ignore this.
The context of this passage is Paul's describing Christ's work in taking on human form, sacrificing in the flesh on our behalf, and his resurrection. It seems that since that time, Christ is the same; in other words, he will not shed the human nature he took on in the incarnation. This brings us comfort because we can be certain that his commitment to our salvation it permanent; it will never change because he will never change.
This verse doesn't teach that Christ is deity so much as it assumes it. Paul could have also said that Christ was also deity before the incarnation and that, in taking on human nature he still retained his divine nature; but he did not mention that. His readers already knew this.
(Hebrews 13:9) Be not carried about with divers [diverse] 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.
Christians have an altar which the priests of the Levitical priesthood are not allowed to eat from. Most fundamentalist evangelical Protestants interpret this figuratively, but I see no reason to do so.
This verse refers to the Levitical priesthood. The priests would eat the animals brought for sacrifice by the people. No one but them was allowed to eat these animals.
In the Eucharistic sacrificial celebration, we mystically re-enact the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf. We go back in time to Golgotha and share in the events of the crucifixion. We are to remember and empathize with the suffering he endured on our behalf.
(Hebrews 13:17) 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.
Notice the assumption: we are to obey those spiritual leaders who rule over us because they watch over our souls. Those leaders who don't watch over our souls certainly should not be obeyed;the Bible says this as do the early church fathers.
There is to be leadership in the Church.The house churchmovement often denies this. But what are we to do when these church leaders don't teach Christianity properly? Sadly, neither the Bible nor the early church fathers address this topic; they seem to assume that church leaders are qualified — except for the heretics, of course. The problem is that your bishop just might be a heretic; during the Arian heresy the majority were. Today, there are many teachings in the churches that don't match apostolic teaching at all, in fact, it is hard to find a church at all that qualifies.
No leader can possibly enjoy leading an unruly mob who won't submit. Christians at large are not to treat their leaders so badly. But also, church leaders should not be such poor leaders that it aggravates their flock. Church members deserve better than having disgruntled leaders. Church leaders are judged by God for whether they performed their role in a way pleasing to God.
King James Version