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Hebrews 1:1-3

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 20, 2018

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm


Caleb & Kim

Pray this week as Kim and the kids fly back to the U.S. on Thursday.  Caleb returns on May 29.
The elders are going to allow donations to the Beller Fund through the end of June.
The family wants to send along their deepest gratitude to all who have helped, contributed, and served.  They are very thankful!

Jeff Stewart

Jeff Stewart, his wife Sonya, and kids Josephine and Asher have been serving in Paris, France for the last year.

Introduction to Hebrews

1. Who wrote the letter?



Many favor Paul, including many of the early church fathers. 
Clement of Alexandria (2nd century) wrote that he and his teacher Pantaenus both felt that Paul was the author.
But … it isn’t introduced like Paul’s other letters, which mention him as the author.
The style of Greek used in Hebrews is more polished than Paul’s usage of Greek.
The early church father Origen wrote that Hebrews “lacked the apostle’s rudeness of expression” and that it was a much more polished Greek, closer to that of Luke’s writing.

‘lacked the apostle’s rudeness of expression’ and that it ‘is more idiomatically Greek in the composition of its diction’ (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., vi.25.11f.). [1]

Paul used both the Hebrew and Septuagint versions of the Old Testament when he quoted scripture, the book of Hebrews uses the Septuagint version exclusively.
Paul tends to go on rabbit trails from time to time in his writings, while this writer is much more highly organized and sticks to his overall outline.


Paul’s traveling companion during the early missionary journeys.
He was considered an apostle. (Acts 14:14)
(Acts 14:14 NKJV) —14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out
The ancient historian Tertullian (died 240 AD) quoted from Hebrews and said it was written by Barnabas.
Barnabas was a Levite (Acts 4:36) and hence would have had good knowledge of the Jewish sacrificial system.


He was the one who reasoned powerfully with the Jews. (Acts 18:24-28)
Being from Alexandria, he may have been trained in rhetoric and possibly philosophy.
This letter has the best usage of Greek on par with Luke & Acts.
He was moving from Rome through Crete a few years before the letter was written.
(Titus 3:13 NKJV) Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing.
During the Reformation, Martin Luther felt that Apollos was probably the author, and in response to Luther’s assertion the Council of Trent (Roman Catholic) declared that the letter was definitely written by Paul.

Others have suggested the letter may have been written by Clement of Rome, Priscilla, Aquila, Philip, Peter, Silas, and the list goes on and on.

The ancient church father Origen said, “Only God knows who wrote Hebrews”.

2. When was it written?

Timothy was apparently still alive (13:23).  He died in AD 97, so it was written before then.

(Hebrews 13:23 NKJV) Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

Clement of Rome quotes Hebrews in AD 95, so it was written before then.

36. This is the way, dearly-beloved, wherein we found our salvation, even Jesus Christ the High-priest of our offerings, the Guardian and Helper of our weakness. 2Through Him let us look stedfastly unto the heights of the heavens; through Him we behold as in a mirror His faultless and most excellent visage; through Him the eyes of our hearts were opened; through Him our foolish and darkened mind springeth up unto the light; through Him the Master willed that we should taste of the immortal knowledge; Who being the brightness of His majesty is so much greater than angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name. 3For so it is written; Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire; 4but of His Son the Master said thus; Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession. 5And again He saith unto Him; Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. 6Who then are these enemies? They that are wicked and resist His will.[2]

The book does not mention the end of the Old Testament sacrificial system which occurred in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed, so it was written before then.

This suggests the book was written between A.D. 64 and 68 because of the persecution mentioned.

3. Who was it written to?

Jewish Believers (hence the title “Hebrews”).

The earliest copies of the letter have the title “to the Hebrews”.
The author expects the readers to be well acquainted with Levitical worship and sacrifice.
He will constantly quote the Old Testament in a way that expects that the reader understands what he’s talking about.

The author seems to be speaking to a specific group of Jewish believers.

He talks about how they had lost property and wealth (10:33-34), their attitudes toward their leaders (13:17), their generosity (6:10), and issues about marriage (13:4-5).
Some have suggested this might have been written to the church in Jerusalem, Alexandria, or even Rome (and about a dozen other places as well).  Others even suggest it might have been written to some in the Qumran community who had believed in Jesus.
Yet we don’t know who specifically it is addressed to.

These Jewish believers were undergoing persecution.  They wanted to leave Christianity and go back to Judaism in order to escape persecution.  They are exhorted to stay with Jesus!

Video:  Bible Project - Hebrews

4. The Value of Hebrews

Connecting the Testaments

Some people think the Old Testament is irrelevant.
There is a sense in which the Old Testament is obsolete…
Hebrews itself says,

(Hebrews 8:13 NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And yet, the entire book of Hebrews is built upon the clear foundation of the Old Testament.
You aren’t going to understand the book of Hebrews if you don’t understand the Old Testament.
You will find that you aren’t going to have a proper understanding of the New Testament unless you have a proper understanding of the Old Testament.

The Superiority of Jesus

We’ll begin to taste this this morning.
Jesus is not just one of many options when it comes to being “religious”.
Jesus is the only option.
He is far superior to all other options, and the writer of Hebrews will lay this all out over the next 10 chapters.

Enduring Difficult Times

The readers of this letter were experiencing persecution and beginning to wonder if it was really worth it to follow Jesus.
You and I will experience times of great difficulty and we too will be tempted to quit.
We’re going to see that as believers, we have much to gain strength from and reasons to keep going.

(stand to read)

1:1-3 The Best Revelation

(Hebrews 1:1–3 NKJV) —1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

various timespolumeros (“many” + “part”) – by many portions, by many times and in many ways

various wayspolutropos (“many” + “way”) – in many manners

times pastpalai – of old, former; long ago

spokelaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak; to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts

:1 at various times and in various ways spoke


God speaks

God has spoken through creation
(Psalm 19:1 NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
If people would open up their eyes, it’s pretty obvious that there is indeed a Creator.

One of the more interesting things lately is the study of the amazing coincidences that have had to happen in order for life to even exist in the universe.

Things like the distance between the earth and the sun making for a perfect setting for life on earth.  The placement of our solar system within the bigger galaxy.  The effect magnetic poles guarding us from radiation.  The existence of a planet like Jupiter that acts to protect us from stray asteroids impacting our planet.

These and a couple hundred other factors lead to an astonishing small chance that life would exist anywhere, without some sort of intelligence behind it.

Paul writes that even in ancient times, because men reject the obvious clues of a Creator …

(Romans 1:22 NKJV) Professing to be wise, they became fools,

We see it today as scientists are scrambling to explain what has become an increasingly smaller and smaller chance that life could ever have come into existence.

And now they have new ideas to explain it…

Video:  PragerU – God or Multiverse?

As clear as God has spoken through creation, God spoke even clearer through the ancient prophets.
He didn’t speak once, but many times, and in many ways.
God spoke through the personal ministries of prophets like Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha.

Kings were given guidance by the prophets about things like where an enemy would attack.

Some prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel wrote out God’s words.

We have hundreds of things spoken of before they would happen.

The prophets had one favorite subject, that of a coming King, a Messiah.

There are over 300 specific prophecies in the Old Testament about the first coming of this Savior.

Jesus fulfilled all of them.

These are not vague prophecies, but things that were specific, like telling where He would be born, what His life would be about, His miracles, the manner of His death, and even His resurrection.

One scholar worked out the probability of anybody fulfilling just eight of these Old Testament of these prophecies, and came up with the odds being 1 in 1017.  That’s a one with seventeen zeroes after it. 

That would be like covering the state of Texas two feet deep with silver dollars, marking one of those silver dollars with a marker, stirring it all up, and giving a blindfolded person one chance to pick out the right silver dollar.

They also worked out the odds of Jesus fulfilling 48 of the prophecies.  The odds were 1 in 10157.  Those odds are just too hard to imagine.

Yet Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies, not just eight.

Is it possible to even know God?
It’s a common thing today for people to think that God is whatever you want Him to be.
I’d like to suggest that if you want to know God, you should pay attention to who He says about Himself, not who you think He is.

:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

lasteschatos – extreme; last in time or in place; last, referring to time

appointedtithemi – to set, put, place; to make; to set, fix establish; to establish, ordain

madepoieo – to make; to do

:2 in these last days spoken to us by His Son

Compared to all that God spoke through the prophets, God has spoken clearest through His Son Jesus Christ.

If you want to know what God is like, you have to look no further than Jesus Christ.

(John 14:8–10 NKJV) —8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

:2 whom He has appointed heir of all things

The heir holds the title on the property.

Everything in creation belongs to Jesus…

(Romans 11:36 NKJV) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

(Revelation 5:11–12 NKJV) —11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

:2 through whom also He made the worlds

worldsaion – perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe

The writer is saying that Jesus is the Creator. He was involved in all aspects of creation.

(John 1:3 NKJV) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

(Colossians 1:16 NKJV) For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Here’s how I think that “Big Bang” thing happened.

Jesus spoke, “Let there be light”, and BANG, there was light.
I’m just not sure it was 13 billion years ago, and I’m not sure there were an infinite number of universes made.

: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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

:3 who being the brightness of His glory

brightnessapaugasma (“from” + “to be bright”) – reflected brightness; shining out

Jesus perfectly reflects the majesty of God.

Jesus is like a light shining in the darkness.
At the transfiguration, three of the disciples caught a glimpse of that glory.

:3 the express image of His person

express image charakter – the instrument used for engraving or carving; the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought out on it

It’s like the impression left in hot wax when you push a signet ring onto it.

(Colossians 1:15a NKJV) He is the image of the invisible God

Here the word “image” (eikon) is used at times to describe the picture of the emperor’s head on a coin, or the shape of a statue.

person hupostasis – a setting or placing under; thing put under, substructure, foundation; that which has foundation, is firm; that which has actual existence

If you want to know what God looks like, look at Jesus.

(Hebrews 1:3 NLT) …expresses the very character of God

:3 upholding all things by the word of His power

upholdingphero – to carry; to carry some burden

wordrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning; speech, discourse

power dunamis – strength, power, ability

He didn’t just create everything, but He keeps everything running.

(Colossians 1:17 NASB95) He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

:3 when He had by Himself purged our sins

purged katharismos – a cleansing, purification; a cleansing from the guilt of sins

Jesus cleansed us from our sins by dying on the cross in our place.

(Isaiah 53:5–6 NKJV) —5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

As He hung on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished”.

In other words, He paid once and for all for our sins.

A great exchange took place on the cross. 

(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
The innocent (Jesus) was punished as if guilty, that the guilty (me) might be rewarded as if innocent.

There is forgiveness available with Jesus if you’ll come to Him.

(1 John 1:9 NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:3 sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

Majestymegalosune – majesty; of the majesty of God

highhupselos – high, lofty; metaph. eminent, exalted

This is where Jesus is today.

After He died, He was buried, and then on the third day He rose from the dead.
He hung around with the disciples for forty days before finally ascending into heaven, where He is seated at God’s right hand.

If you haven’t quite realized it yet, the author has been telling us that Jesus is indeed fully God.

two last lessons, hopefully these will sound familiar…


Jesus is superior

He isn’t just one among many “gods”.
The Greeks and Romans had their pantheon of gods – like Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite.
The Norse had their gods, like Odin and Thor.
The Bible tells us that there really aren’t any other “gods” at all. (Is. 44:6,8; 45:5; 46:9)
(Isaiah 44:6b NKJV) ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
(Isaiah 44:8b NKJV) …Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’
(Isaiah 45:5a NKJV) I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me.
(Isaiah 46:9 NKJV) Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Jesus isn’t just one of many philosophies.
He is everything.
Video:  Values – Nate Staniforth - Wonder
I wonder if we’ve lost the “wonder” of who Jesus is when He indeed is “wonder-ful

He’s way more amazing than some street magician.

He is the King of Kings.
You don’t need to be looking for answers or help for your life anywhere else than with Jesus.



Don’t quit

Many of you are also going through hard times, just like the original Jews reading this letter.  You feel like the tough times just won’t stop.
Video:  The Last Samurai – Never Say Die
You and I might be tempted at times to quit, to add our voices to those who have said, “I tried Christianity, but it didn’t work”.
My friends, there is no other place to go.
There is no greater place and no greater help than Jesus.
There is no “superior” place to go.
Jesus too went through tremendous difficulty, and He didn’t quit.
Video:  Son of God – Don’t Be Afraid
If you will turn to Jesus and look to Him, you can find strength to keep going.
(Hebrews 12:2–3 NKJV) —2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Ending blessing…

(Hebrews 13:20–21 NKJV) —20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.



[1] Guthrie, D. (1983). Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 15, p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Lightfoot, J. B., & Harmer, J. R. (1891). The Apostolic Fathers (pp. 72–73). London: Macmillan and Co.