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Jesus, Our Sure Hope

Hebrews:

Table of Contents
Invitation to Study Introduction to this Guide Introduction to Hebrews 1. Week One: September 27 thru October 3, 2010 God has spoken by His Son Hebrews 1:1-3 2. Week Two: October 4 thru October 10, 2010 Jesus: Greater than Angels Hebrews 1:4-2:4 3. Week Three: October 18 thru October 24, 2010 Jesus: Made Like His Brothers Hebrews 2:5-18 4. Week Four: October 25 thru October 31, 2010 Jesus: Greater than Moses Hebrews 3 5. Week Five: November 1 thru November 7, 2010 Jesus: Rest We’ve Been Looking For Hebrews 4:1-13 6. Week Six: November 8 thru November 14, 2010 Jesus: Our Perfect High Priest Hebrews 4:14-5:10 7. Week Seven: November 15 thru November 21, 2010 Jesus: Worth Sticking With Hebrews 5:11-6:20 1 2 4 7

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8. Week Eight: November 22 thru November 28, 2010 Jesus: Other Access Falls Short Hebrews 7:1-8:6 9. Week Nine: November 29 thru December 5, 2010 Jesus: a New Covenant in His Blood Hebrews 8:7-9:28 10. Week Ten: December 6 thru December 12, 2010 Jesus: Imitated, Never Duplicated Hebrews 9:1-11 11. Week Eleven: December 13 thru December 19, 2010 Jesus: 'A Body You Have Prepared for Me' Hebrews 10:1-18 12. Week Twelve: December 20 thru December 26, 2010 Jesus: Worth Living For Hebrews 10:19-39 13. Week Thirteen: December 27, 2010 thru January 2, 2011 Jesus Was Worth Living For Hebrews 11:1-12:2 14. Week Fourteen: January 3 thru January 9, 2011 Jesus' Consuming Passion is Our Holiness Hebrews 12:2-29 15. Week Fifteen: January 10 thru January 16, 2011 Jesus' Family, Worth Your Energy Hebrews 13 Bibliography Appendices Appendix One: Sample Observation

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Prepared by Timothy Schmoyer, 2010. Bethany Bible Fellowship Church 3300 Seventh Street Whitehall, PA 18052

www.WhitehallBFC.org 610.434.8661

Invitation to Study
I’d like you to think of reading God’s Word as going to the pool. Sometimes friends just hang out in the shallow end, wading and relaxing while sharing good times. This is like the encouragement we find from a casual conversation about a text. Other times we challenge each other to a splash contest off the diving board. This is like the fun had through a memorization contest or a thru-the-Bible reading, you’re in the deep end but then you quickly swim off to the side to jump again. Yet other times, like the apostle Peter, we step off the sidelines and into the water and find ourselves walking not in, but on, the water. This is like those times of miracle where the truth of God’s Word lifts you up out of where you are in your spiritual journey and takes you to the next level. Then there are those times of training for a swimming race or training for your lifeguard certification where you find yourself treading water and you realize that it builds endurance as you keep your head above water in the deep end for an extended period of time. This is the type of spiritual pool time that we are embarking on for the next four months. There are times for encouragement in your spiritual walk. There are times for fun. There are times for the miraculous. Now is the time for training. Now is an extended period of training that will build endurance. We’ll be in deep waters for the next for months; most scholars consider Hebrews to be one of the most theologically deep and significant books in the Scripture, while all language experts label Hebrews as the most linguistically complex book of the Greek New Testament. This book will be our guide throughout our study of Hebrews. Each section is in preparation for our Sunday sermon. For instance, Section One is on Hebrews 1:1-3. The text is the basis for a sermon on October 3, but you will be studying it September 27 through October 3. In each section, there are a variety of activities. You can do the entire section as one day’s devotions or you can break it up into a full week of study. Regardless how you use this guide, you will find yourself connecting with God’s Word in deeper ways than if you simply listen to a sermon on Sunday. Welcome to deep waters! I hope you’re up to the challenge. I know you can do it. Together we are going to grow in our knowledge of God’s plan for this world. We are going to grow in the spiritual discipline of study. We are going to see God in a deeper, more complete way. We will be amazed at all the places we’ll go. Join me, won’t you? Serving the Lord Jesus, the heir of all things, through whom God made the universe,

Pastor Tim
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Introduction to This Guide
Introduction
Each section begins with a question or thought to get your mind started. Read the introduction and then pray for God’s grace and guidance on your time in His word.

Bible Memory
After the introduction, you’ll find the Scripture verse that we will memorize together. Work on remembering this verse and we’ll recite it together on Sunday. Why not say the verse together with your family at the dinner table each night?

1. Observation
The next element in each section is the text of Hebrews that we want to look at. It will be in the New American Standard translation. The text will be spread out so that you can mark up the text with your own comments and observations. Your primary concern in this element of the section is to observe what the writer is saying. Observe any repeated words or phrases. If a word pops up over and over, circle it, block it, use symbols to make its presence apparent. Draw lines between related words or ideas. Notice the main idea of the section. You can see more examples of this in Appendix One. In your observations, it is helpful to take note of Who, What, Where, Why, When.

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2. Interpretation
After we observe what the text says, we need to ask what the text means. Most of this work will be reading some commentaries and then evaluation questions. When reading commentaries, some of them may be easier to understand than others. You do what you feel comfortable doing. I don’t want this series to become discouraging. At the same time, I do want to encourage you to push yourself beyond your normal routine in Biblical study; so read, push, and grow! As far as the questions in this section, go as far as you can in answering these questions in detail. It may be helpful to use a concordance like Strong’s. A Concordance lists every word used in the Bible in alphabetical order and records every verse that word is used in. Using a Concordance will help answer a question in more detail than on your own.

3. Application
In this last section, you will be answering the most vital questions. Questions about how to live in response to God’s Word. Think and pray about what it means to live in response to the truths of God’s Word.

Extra Credit
Some sections have some additional thoughts and articles. They will be related to the section you are working in. Feel free to read over these or not to read over these. It’s not like we’re keeping score, but these thoughts will certainly be of benefit to you.

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Introduction to Hebrews
The letter to the Hebrew Christians is unique among the rest of the New Testament Scriptures in many ways. Its language is quite complex compared to the other writings. Its quotation and reference to the Old Testament is extensive. Its audience is one race rather than one city or region. We cannot pick up any text and just begin reading without considering it original audience and their concerns, their world, their progress in faith. Otherwise, we will see things that are part of our world and culture but are not in the text.

The Purpose of Hebrews
This book in our Bibles is called “Hebrews.” In the Greek manuscripts we have, it is called “e Pros Ebraious Epistole” or “The Letter to Hebrews.” But these titles were not written on the original copies, most scholars believe. Throughout the proceeding generations, the titles became part of the photocopy process just like the chapter and verse markers. So it is significant to ask, why did the men who read and copied this letter call it “the letter to Hebrews”? According to George Guthrie, there are three indicators in the letter that validate it as a letter to Jewish Christians. First “the author assumes his audience has an extensive knowledge of the Old Testament. Of all the writings of the New Testament, none is more saturated with overt references to the Old Testament.” Second, “the author uses theological concepts that were popular in the Greek-speaking synagogues” of the Jews in “the first century. These include a veneration of Moses as one having special access to God (3:1-6), angels as the mediators of the older covenant revelation (2:1-4)” among them. And third, “a potential danger to this community seems to lie in the temptation to reject Christianity and return to Judaism proper.” (Guthrie 19-20) For these reasons, we can say with firm certainty that the original audience was racially-Jewish believers in Jesus. There are several warnings throughout the letter against the readers giving up on Jesus and leaving His Church. They are urged again and again to hold fast to belief in Jesus as Messiah (4:14, 6:9-20, 10:23). They are also encouraged to maintain a clear distinction from their old faith in a Judaism that does not recognize Jesus as Messiah (13:13-14). If, then, this letter is written to first century Jewish Christians who were being persecuted and reverting to Judaism, what are we supposed to glean from this letter? What of value can be had for twenty-first century Christians that are primarily Gentiles? The words of comfort to those suffering Christians still comfort us and inspire us today. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (1:1-2). God spoke to those hurting Jewish followers of Jesus through His Son. God has spoken to us as well through His Son. The lessons of His once-for-all-time sacrifice (10:10-14) seems to me more significant for us than for them. A religion that is two-thousand years old still has the same miraculous power today in freeing sinners from their guilt and changing their lives for good.
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Date
The most likely date for this book is under a second wave of persecution of Christians in Rome which was brought on by Caesar Nero from the mid-60’s to early-70’s AD. An earlier persecution initiated by Caesar Claudius in 49 AD. There are several reasons for this dating according to Guthrie. First “they had bee Christians for a while” (5:11-6:3). Second, “these believers had faced and persevered in a time of serious persecution in the past” (10:32-34). Third, “they had yet to suffer martyrdom for the faith (12:4) but were now facing a more severe time of trial (11:35-12:3, 12:7, 13:3, 13:12-13).” (Guthrie 22).

Author
Of the books of the New Testament, Hebrews is the most puzzling when it comes to the question of who wrote it. Consider how Paul opens his letter to Titus: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect” (Titus 1:1, NIV). Or perhaps Peter’s First Epistle: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect” (1 Peter 1:1, NIV). But this author does not identify himself. Some popular suggestions include Paul, Luke, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Aquila and Priscilla, Jude, and Apollos. We can know for sure that it was not Timothy, for he is referred to as “our brother Timothy” in the text (13:23). Some, Harnack first among them, suggest that it was Aquila and Priscilla who wrote it for in Hebrews 13:24 we read “Those from Italy greet you” (NASB) and we know that this ministry family was from Rome (Acts 18:2) in Italy and was banished during the reign of Caesar Claudius in 49 AD. After that persecution ended, they returned to Rome and hosted a house church (Romans 16:3). And so, perhaps Aquila and Priscilla close their book “we all from Italy greet you”. Bruce recalls the position of Harnack in his commentary, citing the frequent switch in Hebrews between “we” and “I” among other reasons (Bruce xl ). As to suggesting Clement of Rome, modern scholar F.F. Bruce points out the obvious shortfall of his candidacy. He writes in his commentary on Hebrews “we can be quite sure that he himself [Clement] was not the author, although it has been suggested at various times that he was. In spite of Clement’s familiarity with the epistle, he ‘turns his back on its central argument in order to buttress his own arguments about the Church’s Ministry by an appeal to the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament.’” (Bruce xxxv-xxxvi). Paul is unlikely for the mere fact that his writing style is so vastly different than his other letters. Many have wondered if it was Paul, why wouldn’t he have said so? John Calvin quips “for those who say that he [Paul] designedly suppressed his name because it was hateful to the Jews, make no relevant case. Why, then did he mention the name of Timothy? By this he betrayed himself.” Calvin is of course joking in this whole section. To say Paul wrote the letter but didn’t attribute it to himself for the sake of the readers who wouldn’t have listened to ‘the hated apostle to the gentiles’ is nonsensical. The body of material in this book is so clearly intended for Jewish followers of Jesus, Paul wasn’t hated by Jewish Christians, but by non-believing Jews. Calvin
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then brings up an observation that truly helps answer the question of authorship. “The writer himself confesses in the second chapter that he was one of the disciples of the apostles, which is wholly different from the way in which Paul spoke of himself.” (Calvin 1) See 1 Corinthians 9:15, 15:5-11, 2 Corinthians 12:11, Galatians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:7 for more on Paul’s assertion as an apostle. When Calvin says “the writer himself confesses in the second chapter that he was one of the disciples of the apostles” he must be referring to 2:3 where we read “After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard” (NASB). Were it an apostle who wrote this letter, he would not have lumped himself in with the “us”, but the “those who heard”. It is safe to rule out the thirteen apostles as candidates for authorship of this book. Who, then, did write it? That is a question we will have answer to in glory.

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