Morning Bible Study
We don’t know for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews, but we do have a
pretty good idea of who it was written to.
Hebrews was written to Jewish believers.
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.
We also know that these believers were encountering very strong
Times were so bad that some were beginning to wonder if they shouldn’t quit
We will see three elements woven throughout this letter to the Hebrews.
1. Both Testaments
Even though the Old Testament has become “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13), the entire
book of Hebrews is built upon the clear foundation of the Old Testament.
(Hebrews 8:13 NKJV)
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.
You aren’t going to understand Hebrews, or even the New Testament correctly
unless you learn the Old Testament.
2. Jesus is superior
He’s superior to angels.
He’s superior to Moses and the Torah.
He’s superior to the Levitical priests and their sacrifices.
3. Don’t quit
The ultimate goal of the book is to encourage those who are struggling with
difficult times, and help them to endure.
There’s much to find strength from and not quit.
4:11-13 The Living Word
:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall
according to the same example of disobedience.
:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest
The Old King James translates this as “Let us labour
therefore to enter into that rest…”
We can get confused by “laboring to enter into God’s rest”, getting
confused over labor and rest.
This has added to the confusion in this passage – making it sound as if our
salvation is based on our “labor” or our “works”
be diligent – spoudazo – to hasten, make haste; to exert one’s
self, endeavor, give diligence
The author isn’t talking about “works”.
He’s talking about being diligent to do something while you can, going
through a door while it’s open.
The issue of salvation has always been about “faith”.
We are saved because we have put our complete trust in the finished work of
Christ – His death and resurrection.
:11 lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience
fall – pipto – to descend from a higher place to a
lower; to fall (either from or upon); to fail of participating in, miss a share
example – hupodeigma – a sign suggestive of anything,
delineation of a thing, representation, figure, copy; an example: for imitation
disobedience – apeitheia (“not” +
We saw this word several times last week and talked about it carrying the
idea of being “unpersuaded”.
The issue isn’t about “works”, but about “believing”.
The author is finishing up his exposition of Psalm 95, which David wrote in
talking about the history of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness.
David’s exhortation was to watch our hearts lest we become hardened through
the deceitfulness of sin.
Our author came to the conclusion that the
Israelites who wandered for forty years didn’t make it into the Promised Land
(which became a picture of heaven) because of their unbelief.
(Hebrews 3:19 NKJV)
we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
It’s important to pay attention here.
The author has given an exposition of Scripture and has used the ancient “example”
of the Israelites as a way of teaching a modern principle to his readers.
The principle? Don’t walk away from Jesus.
His point came from Scripture.
:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
:12 the word of God
word – logos – of speech; a
word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; what someone
has said; discourse; doctrine, teaching
What is the “word of God”?
It is what God speaks, including:
(2 Timothy 3:16–17
NKJV) —16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The New Testament has the same power, even more, than the Old Testament.
We see it in the Gospels, in the actual words of Jesus:
7:28–29 NKJV) —28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people
were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
We see it in the writings of Paul.
Peter wrote that he considered the writings of Paul to be
on the same level as the rest of Scripture. (2Pet. 3:15-16)
Peter 3:15–16 NKJV) —15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is
salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to
him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in
which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people
twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the
Even though we primarily think of the Scriptures as being the “word of
God”, God still speaks today through the gift of prophecy.
Prophecy isn’t just about predicting things in the
future. It is primarily speaking for
God. God knows the future, so sometimes
the future is mentioned, but it is primarily speaking for God.
Paul wrote about what would happen to a visitor if the
entire church learned to “prophesy”:
Corinthians 14:3 NKJV) But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and
comfort to men.
Corinthians 14:24b–25 NKJV) —24b …he is convinced by all, he is
convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and
report that God is truly among you.
The danger of prophetic words comes when we do not do our responsibility,
which is to “judge” the words spoken and make sure they are truly from God.
Corinthians 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
Just as in the days of the Old Testament, people will
claim to speak for God and exercise authority to tell you what you should do, when
God in fact hasn’t spoken.
We need to be careful and discern these things.
:12 is living and powerful
living – zao – to live, breathe, be among the living
(not lifeless, not dead); to enjoy real life; to live i.e. pass life, in the
manner of the living and acting; metaph. to be in full vigour;
to be fresh, strong, efficient,; as adj. active,
word – logos – word
powerful – energes (“in” + “work”) – active
You might relate the “word of God” to your Bible.
And your Bible is just a lifeless batch of words on printed pages, right?
The Word of God is “alive”
What's the connection
This whole section on
diligence, watchfulness, being careful about hard hearts, entering
into God's rest, etc, comes from Psalm 95.
Psalm 95 may be an old
passage to the readers, but it’s still alive today.
It has the power to
transform lives today.
NKJV) —10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not
return there, But water
the earth, And make it
bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My
word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I
please, And it shall
prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
If you don’t already have a habit of picking up and reading your Bible
every day, shouldn’t you rethink that?
Do you want God to be at work in your life every day?
Get the Word of God into your heart.
:12 sharper than any two-edged sword
sharper – tomoteros – sharper.
A comparative form of temno, “to
cut”. This is “more cutting”, the idea
that with a single stroke you can cut more than lots of hacking with a dull
any – pas – individually;
each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
It’s not just “sharper than a two-edged sword”, but “sharper than ALL
two-edged – distomos – having a double mouth as a river;
used of the edge of the sword and of other weapons, so has the meaning of
sword – machaira – a large knife; a small sword
There are several types
of swords mentioned in Scripture.
There’s a “big” sword (romphaia)
Video: Indiana Jones –
Sword vs. Gun
Bible says that Jesus carries a romphaia (Rev. 19:15; 1:16)
19:15 NKJV) Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He
should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He
Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Then there’s the “small”
Video: The Robe – Marcellus Sword
The machaira was
designed for close combat.
both an offensive weapon as well as a defensive weapon.
cut your enemy, but it could also counter your enemy’s blows.
calls God’s Word the sword that each believer needs to have as part of his spiritual
6:17 NKJV) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God;
The Bible is a sharp
Sometimes we are facing a
spiritual enemy, and we need an effective weapon.
Stephen was on trial before the Sanhedrin for preaching about Jesus, he used
the Scriptures for his defense. Listen
how God’s Word worked:
7:54 NKJV) When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they
gnashed at him with their teeth.
Sometimes the situation
doesn’t call for a sword as much as for a scalpel. Our heart is not to destroy people, but to
see them changed, to see them healed.
day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and gave a sermon to the crowd. He quoted one scripture after another. Look at the response:
2:37 NKJV) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and
said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what
shall we do?”
Be careful about not
sharing God’s word with a skeptic.
“It’s not going to affect
me”, they say, “I don’t believe it’s God’s Word.”
Let’s say that I don’t
believe in guns. If you pull a loaded
gun on me and pull the trigger, will the gun do anything? Even if I don’t believe?
Yet God’s word is far
more powerful than any gun. It doesn’t
destroy lives, it transforms them.
The ministry of Billy Graham was perhaps the most powerful ministry the
world has ever seen. His secret? Listen as he documents his source material in
a message from 1971…
(clips from 14:00, 17:25, 18:50)
Ok, he also quoted his wife from time to time. :-)
Yet over and over Billy would say, “the Bible says…”, or
“the Scriptures say…”
Take the sword out and use it.
:12 …a discerner of the thoughts and intents
piercing – diikneomai (“through” + “sufficient”) – to go
through, penetrate, pierce
division – merismos – a division, partition; distribution
(of various kinds); a separation; so far as to cleave asunder or separate
soul – psuche – breath; the breath of life; the soul;
the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
spirit – pneuma – spirit;
the third person of the triune God; the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by
which the body is animated
joints – harmos – a joining, a joint
marrow – muelos – marrow
a discerner – kritikos – relating to judging, fit for judging,
skilled in judging
intents – ennoia (“in” + “mind”) – the act of thinking,
consideration, meditation; a thought, notion, conception; mind, understanding,
will, manner of feeling, and thinking
(1 Peter 4:1 NKJV) Therefore,
since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind,
for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
There are three pairs of
things of things mentioned here and they all have the same thing in common –
it’s hard to tell one thing from the other.
The concepts of “soul”
and “spirit” are actually quite hard to define. They constantly overlap each other in
definitions and usage in the Scripture.
say that a “soul” is our invisible human “self” containing emotions and
personality, and our “spirit” is that invisible part of us that connects with
God … but it’s really hard at times to tell one from
When we worship and you begin to sense God’s presence – what is at
work? Is it your “spirit”? Is it your “soul”? It’s actually a bit
The concept of “joints”
and “marrow” are the same in the ancient mind.
It’s hard to tell them apart.
The concept of “thoughts”
and “intents” are likewise hard to tell apart.
for “thoughts” is a bit unusual:
thoughts – enthumesis (“in” +
“passion, anger”) – consideration;
reflection; can imply what is foolish or wicked
translated “thoughts” most of the time, but in the context of each passage it’s
used in, it’s got a negative connotation (Mat. 9:4; 12:25; Acts 17:29)
9:4 NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think
evil in your hearts?
12:25 NKJV) But Jesus knew their thoughts, and
said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation,
and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
17:29 NKJV) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think
that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art
and man’s devising.
The “Word” is like a
surgeon who skillfully opens you up, then is able to
tell where the tumor is and able to skillfully remove all the cancer and leave
the organs intact.
Ever have trouble
understanding an idea in your own heart?
question the “motives” of others, but we don’t often stop and question our own
it’s hard for us to tell whether the “thought” has a bit of wickedness hidden
in it, or whether it’s a godly “intent”.
Get into the Word of
God. Open yourself up to it!
:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are
naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
creature – ktisis – the act of founding, establishing,
building etc; the act of creating, creation; creation
i.e. thing created; of individual things, beings, a creature, a creation
hidden – aphanes (“not” + “shining”) – not manifest,
naked – gumnos – properly; unclad, without clothing,
the naked body; clad in undergarments only (the outer garments or cloak being
laid aside); metaph. naked, i.e. open, lay bare
open – trachelizo (“neck”) – to seize and twist the neck
or throat; of combatants who handle thus their antagonist; to bend back the
neck of a victim to be slain, to lay bare or expose by bending back; to lay
bare, uncover, expose; laid bare, laid open, made manifest to one
account – logos – of
speech, a word; its use as respect to the MIND alone; reason, the mental
faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating; account, i.e. answer
or explanation in reference to judgment
:13 there is no creature hidden from His sight
The writer is speaking to people who are thinking that it’s not all that
important to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus just causes trouble, right?
None of our silly excuses can stand up before God’s presence.
If you choose to not follow Jesus, you will one day stand before God and He
will ask you, “Why didn’t you follow Jesus?”
And you will have no excuse.
4:14-16 Our High Priest
:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the
heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
high priest – archiereus – chief priest, high priest
great – megas – great; of persons, eminent for
ability, virtue, authority, power; splendid, prepared on a grand scale, stately
Jesus is great because He’s better than angels (chapter 1) and He’s better
than Moses (chapter 2).
passed through –
dierchomai – to go through, pass through
hold fast – krateo – to have power, be powerful; to get
possession of; to take hold of; to hold
confession – homologia – profession
:14 we have a great High Priest
Jesus is our great High Priest.
We’ll see more about what that means in the following weeks.
:14 who has passed through the heavens
The Tabernacle and the Temple both had similar layouts with two rooms: The Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.
Regular priests would take turns every day coming into the first room, “holy
place” and performing certain rituals.
The “holy place” was a picture of heaven.
The high priest was the only one who once a year would “pass through” the
“Holy Place” (the heavens) and into the “Holy of Holies”.
The Holy of Holies was a picture of God’s very throne room.
That’s where Jesus is right now.
:14 let us hold fast our confession
Remember that the readers were thinking of abandoning Jesus.
He tells them to hold tight instead.
Jesus is better than any high priest because He didn’t pass into the
earthly picture of God’s throne room (the holy of holies), He made it into the
real throne room of God.
So don’t abandon your walk with Jesus.
:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet
which cannot – dunamai – to be
able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own
ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favorable
circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something;
to be capable, strong and powerful
sympathize – sumpatheo (“with” + “suffer or feel”) – (our word
“sympathetic”) to be affected with the same feeling as another, to sympathize
with; to feel for, have compassion on
weaknesses – astheneia – want of strength, weakness, infirmity
tempted – peirao – to make a trial of, to attempt; to
test, to make trial of one, put him to proof; in particular,
to attempt to induce one to commit some (esp. carnal) crime; tempted to
sin. The verb is a perfect tense,
meaning that the effects of the tempting kept carrying on into the present.
as we are – homoiotes – likeness
sin – hamartia – to be
without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander
from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go
wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin
:15 was in all points tempted as we are, yet
I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to someone for help, and after you’ve
poured out your heart to them, their response clearly shows that they don’t care,
and they don’t have a clue what you’re going through.
At times like that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time talking to that person.
There may also be times when you’re listening to a preacher talk about a
subject, and you get that same feeling that they don’t know what they’re
Jesus understands what you’re going through.
You may wonder why Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded that Jesus was
“tempted by Satan” in the wilderness.
It’s to remind us that He too has experienced temptation.
(Mark 1:13 NKJV) And He was
there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the
wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
The word “tempted” (same word as in our text) can both
refer being tempted to sin, as well as being “tested” by difficult situations.
Jesus has been through it all.
Jesus may not have been
tempted with the specific things you face, like too many chocolate fudge
brownies, but the temptations He experienced were of such a broad spectrum,
that they cover the equivalent of all we could experience.
And He never gave in to sin.
He not only knows what it is to be tempted, but He also knows how to help
you say “no”.
You may say, “But Jesus wasn’t married to somebody like I’m married to”.
Oh really? Jesus is married to
you. The Old Testament even talks about
God being “divorced” from His people.
Jesus understands more than you know.
He knows how to help.
We need compassion on others
We need to be careful when we have not gone through what they’re going
We learn compassion in the things we suffer
:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
:16 Let us therefore come boldly
“Boldly” might give you the wrong idea.
We might better translate this, “Let us therefore come and speak freely at
the throne of grace”
come – proserchomai – to come to, approach; draw near to;
to assent to
boldly – parrhesia –
freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech
We use the phrase, “speak freely”.
That’s the idea here. God wants
you to “speak freely” to Him.
:16 the throne of grace
throne – thronos – a throne seat
grace – charis – grace; that which affords joy,
pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will,
I believe the writer is referring to the “Mercy Seat” of the Old Testament.
The Mercy Seat was the solid gold lid to the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark was supposed to be kept in the center of the Holy of Holies.
It was here that the High Priest made atonement for the nation once a year.
It was meant to be a picture of the very throne of God in heaven.
For the believer, God’s throne is not a throne of judgment or condemnation.
It is a place where we find mercy and grace.
obtain – lambano – to take; to receive (what is given)
mercy – eleos – mercy: kindness or good will towards
the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them
grace – charis – grace; that which affords joy,
pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will,
find – heurisko – to come upon, hit upon, to meet with;
to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by
practice and experience; to find out for one’s self, to acquire, get, obtain,
time of need – eukairos (“good” +
“time”) – seasonable, timely, opportune
help – boetheia (“cry” + “run”) – help
The Privilege of Prayer
Jesus has made a way possible for you to come into God’s very presence,
without guilt or condemnation, and to “speak freely”.
This is what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross, spilling His blood
to pay for our sins.
When you come to God, realize that He totally understands all that you’re
He has compassion for you as one who can say, “I know exactly what you’re
And He isn’t just a listening ear, He’s the one with the true help that you
He has mercy and grace to give you in every situation.
Sometimes He will respond to your prayers in a powerful way, even parting
the Red Sea before you.
Other times He will give you the grace to endure your difficulty like He
did when Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to go away:
(2 Corinthians 12:9
NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength
is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I
will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
You may be thinking today, “I don’t see what good it will be for me to
I’d say you’re missing out on all that God wants to pour into your life.
We need to come daily for God’s help:
“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat
enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient
air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God's store of
grace from day to day as we need it.”
-- D. L. Moody
God has enough for what you need.
John Newton had received from the Lord some almost unbelievable answers to
his petitions, and so he often engaged in “large asking.” In support of this
practice he would frequently tell the story of a man who asked Alexander the
Great to give him a huge sum of money in exchange for his daughter’s hand in
marriage. The ruler consented and told
him to request of his treasurer whatever he wanted. So he went and asked
for an enormous amount. The keeper to
the funds was startled and said he couldn’t give him that much without a direct
order. Going to Alexander, the treasurer
argued that even a small fraction of the money requested would more than serve
the purpose. “No,” replied Alexander, “let him have it all. I like that fellow. He does me honor. He
treats me like a king and proves by what he asks that he believes me to be both
rich and generous.” Newton concluded the story by saying, “In the same way, we
should go to the throne of God’s grace and present petitions that express
honorable views of the love, riches, and bounty of our King!”