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Literature / Book of Hebrews

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One of the General Epistles that make up the New Testament of The Bible, commonly accredited to Paul the apostle as its writer, though it lacks Paul's signature opening. In this epistle, the writer addresses the Hebrews about the significance and superiority of the New Covenant initiated by Jesus Christ over the Old Covenant system of continual sacrifices.

Structure of the book:

  • The superiority of the Son of God (Hebrews chapters 1 and 2)
  • The superiority of the Son of God's faithfulness (Hebrews chapters 3 and 4)
  • The superiority of the Son of God's work (Hebrews chapters 5 and 6)
  • The superiority of the Son of God's priesthood (Hebrews chapters 7 to 10)
  • The superiority of the Christian faith (Hebrews 11:1-12:2)
  • The superiority of God the Father's way (Hebrews 12:3-29)
  • The superiority of the Christian life in the church (Hebrews chapter 13)

This book provides examples of:

  • Angel Unaware/Sacred Hospitality: In Hebrews 13:2:
    Do not forget to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unknowingly.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In Hebrews chapter 11, Enoch is mentioned here as being taken by God, or "translated", so that he didn't see death, because he pleased God with his faith.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Plenty of Old Testament Scripture verses are mentioned here in this epistle.
  • Back from the Dead: In Hebrews 11:35, with the latter part possibly referring to the seven brothers in 2nd Maccabees:
    Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured and did not accept deliverance, so that they might obtain a better resurrection.
  • Blood Oath: Both the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant, as mentioned in this book, are covenants signed and sealed by God in blood so that they are binding on the people God has a covenant with. As Moses did the honors with sprinkling the book of the Mosaic Covenant as well as the people with the blood of calves and goats, Jesus did the same with the shedding of His own blood on the cross to put the New Covenant into effect.
  • Blood Magic: In Chapter 9, the writer makes the point that, without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins, so not only did the replicas of the heavenly things needed to be cleansed with the sprinkling of blood (from calves and goats), but also the heavenly things needed to be cleansed with better sacrifices than those offered through the Law of Moses. For that reason, Jesus offered His own blood for a sacrifice, entering not into the earthly copies of "the true tabernacle", but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Also, because the blood of calves and goats was insufficient as a payment for all sins, Jesus offered His own sinless blood for us to cleanse us of all sins for all time.
  • Call-Back: To Genesis, as the writer alludes to Abraham's meeting with Melchizedek, who is a forerunner to Jesus Christ and His role as the everlasting priest.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: The author of this book states that it is impossible for God to lie. That doesn't mean that God cannot deceive people (He's God, after all, nothing is beyond His power), it's just that He sees it as against his nature.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In Chapter 11, it says that the men of God who had faith were even "sawn asunder", possibly referring to Isaiah the prophet's death during the time of King Manasseh of Judah.
  • Defector from Decadence/Evil Feels Good: In Hebrews 11:24-26:
    By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time. He esteemed the reproach of Christ as greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he looked to the reward.
  • External Retcon: The author makes the case that much of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament, to Christians) is in fact a prophecy and/or allegory of the coming of Jesus Christ.
  • Faith–Heel Turn: Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-31 is a warning to those who deliberately walk away from the Christian faith. Some Christians believe this applies to anyone who were saved while others believe this is a warning to the Jews to not return to the Old Covenant.
  • Forgiveness Requires Death: In this case, not the death of the person who committed sin, but rather a substitute in the form of a sacrifice, as Hebrews 9:22 states that without blood there is no forgiveness of sins, which is why the author states that Jesus Christ has become the perfect sacrifice for people's sins, for only His blood can cleanse one's conscience of dead works so they can serve the living God.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Hebrews 12:25-29 is a warning to believers.
    See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused Him who spoke on earth, much less shall we escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven. At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has given us a promise, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven.” And this statement, “Yet once more,” signifies the removal of those things that can be shaken, things that are created, so that only those things that cannot be shaken will remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us be gracious, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
  • Greed: Hebrews 13:5 warns against this:
    Let your lives be without love of money, and be content with the things you have. For He has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Suggested in Hebrews 6:4-6 as a warning (although those who believe in "once saved, always saved" believe that this is only speaking of a hypothetical situation).
    For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to be renewed once more to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and subject Him to public shame.
    • Also in Hebrews 10:26-31:
    For if we willfully continue to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who despised Moses’ law died without mercy in the presence of two or three witnesses. How much more severe a punishment do you suppose he deserves, who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant that sanctified him to be a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” And again He says, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
    • And Hebrews 12:16-17 warns believers not to be godless like Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, and then later was denied the blessing from his father, for "he found no place for repentance, though he diligently sought for it with tears."
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Hebrews 4:15 says this about Jesus:
    For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was in every sense tempted like we are, yet without sin.
  • Messianic Archetype: In this book, Melchizedek is presented more as a Messianic Prototype, being a form of (if not actually being) Jesus that abides as an eternal high priest due to Melchizedek having no record of father, mother, or genealogy, "having neither beginning of days nor end of life".
  • No Name Given: The author of the epistle. Many theories of his (or her!) identity have been proposed, although the most popular candidate may be St. Paul.
  • Oh, My Gods!: In Hebrews chapter 6, the writer points out that when it comes to swearing oaths, since God has nobody higher than Himself to swear them upon, He swears them upon Himself, indicating that His promises are immutable and will certainly be fulfilled.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: Hebrews 12:14 tells believers they should strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
  • Parental Blamelessness: Invoked in Hebrews 12:9-10 as part of the following analogy for God's motives for punishing those whom he loves: "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." (NKJV) The author seems to be following this train of thought: 1) he assumes that his readers accept the discipline they received as children; 2) he deems said discipline to have been considered appropriate by the fathers, but implies it may not have always been perfect or adequate; 3) he assumes that God, being God, gives perfect discipline, unlike Earthly fathers...ergo, the reader should appreciate the chastisement of God.
  • Pushover Parents: Hebrews 12:7-8 states that not being chastened by God means you're not one of His sons, but a bastard (read "illegitimate child").
    If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
  • Religion Is Right: That is, putting your faith in Jesus Christ and His one-time-for-all-time sacrifice for sins is right, as this is the whole focus of the entire book.
  • Rule of Three: The thematic "three things that remain" from 1st Corinthians chapter 13 — faith, hope, and love — also appear in this letter in Chapter 10, when in verse 22 the writer says "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse them from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water," following that with "let us firmly hold the profession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" in verse 23, and "let us consider how to spur one another to love and to good works" in verse 24.
  • Second Coming: Hebrews 9:28 says Jesus will come a second time, not to bear sin, but to save those who are looking for Him to come. Also Hebrews 10:25 tells believers not to forsake assembling themselves together, as is the manner of some, but to exhort one another, especially as they see the Day (meaning the day of the Lord's coming) approaching.
  • Sex Is Good: Hebrews 13:4 is a warning to believers of how to keep the sex good (according to God's view of "good"):
    Marriage is to be honored among everyone, and the bed undefiled. But God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
  • Son of a Whore: Chapter 12 states that every true son of God undergoes chastisement, and those that don't are most likely "bastards" or "illegitimate children" than true sons.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: Suggested in Hebrews 4:12-13 in regards to the power of God's Word.
    For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no creature that is not revealed in His sight, for all things are bare and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
  • We All Die Someday: Hebrews 9:27 says that it's appointed for men (meaning everyone, the Rapture notwithstanding) to die once and then face judgment.