A Systematic Expository on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 1: THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST
Hebrews 1: 1 - 2a
The Epistle to the Hebrews has many deep truths that demand diligent and faithful study. The first three verses provide a fitting introduction to the whole epistle. The overall theme of the Epistle is the superiority or the pre-eminence of Christ. He is greater and better than anyone and anything that was before. He is better than any Old Testament person, institution, ritual, sacrifice, or anything else. He is superior to angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron and his priesthood or the Old covenant. Christ’s sacrifice is superior to the old sacrifices; His testimony is superior to that of any other.
Someone has said that Jesus Christ came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of the Virgin. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became Son of Man that we might become sons of God. He was born contrary to the laws of nature, lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence and had neither training nor education in the world’s schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential. In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood he puzzled the learned doctors. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitude without medicine and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books about Him. He never wrote a son, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all song writers together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practised medicine and yet He has healed more sick bodies and broken hearts than all the doctors of the world. Throughout history great men have come and gone yet He lives on. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him and the grace could not hold Him.
In this Epistle, everything is presented as better: a better hope, a better testament, a better promise, a better sacrifice, a better substance, a better country, a better resurrection: and Jesus Christ is presented as the Supreme Best. We also read of the heavenly Christ, the heavenly calling the heavenly gift, the heavenly country, the heavenly Jerusalem, and of our names being written in heaven. Everything is new. Everything is better.
REVELATION AND INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE
Hebrews 1: 1; Hosea 12: 10; 2 Peter 1: 19-21; Luke 1: 70; Acts 3: 21; Jeremiah 7: 25; 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17; 1 Peter 1: 10-12.
This epistle commences with the full acknowledgement that God had made important revelations in past times. “At sundry times” (in many parts) “and in divers manners” (in many ways God made His revelation known to the Old Testament people). The Old Testament had not been given all at once but in various parts. It was not all in one mode. God employed various methods in communicating His will. At one time it was by history, then by prophecy, proverbs, by some solemn and special message, etc. Sometimes it was by direct communication, at another by dreams, at another by vision, etc. The series of revelations began, as recorded by Moses, with Adam and terminated with Malachi - a period of more than 3500 years. From Malachi to the time of Christ there were no recorded Divine communication.
In the Old Testament, whether by vision, prophecy, parable type, symbol, or commandment, “God... spoke”. The Old Testament is not a collection of the wisdom of ancient men but it is the voice of God. Men were used to write the Old Testament but they were totally controlled by the Spirit of God. Every word they wrote was the word that God decided they should write.
God spoke to the Old Testament people by the prophets. “In old time... Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1: 21). The word “Prophet” in the scriptures, is used in a broad sense. It means not only those who predict future events, but those who communicate the Divine will on any subject. It is used here in that broad sense - denoting all those by whom God had communications to the Jews in former times (Hosea 12: 13; Deuteronomy 18: 18, 19; Nehemiah 9: 30; Jeremiah 35: 15; Daniel 9: 10; Zechariah 1: 4; Malachi 4: 5, 6; Luke 176, 77; Acts 15: 32). A prophet is one who speaks to men for God. The Holy Spirit established the divine authorship of the Old Testament, its accuracy and its authority, through the fact that it was given to and delivered by God’s prophets. All scripture is fully inspired by God.
COMPLETE AND FINAL REVELATION THROUGH CHRIST
Deuteronomy 18: 15, 18, 19; Acts 3: 22-26; Matthew 17: 5; John 12: 49, 50; 17: 8; Mark 13: 31; John 14: 24; 7: 46.
God’s full, complete revelation awaited the coming of His Son. The Old Testament is fully inspired By God, but it is not complete without the New Testament. One chapter of the Bible is not God’s complete truth, but it is completely His truth. Each word, each statement, each chapter is inspired as God’s revelation, but a chapter, a book, a part of His revelation is not complete without the rest. Every part of God’s revelation is free form error. The Old Testament as God’s revelation remained incomplete until the New Testament was finished. “In these last days”: the last dispensation, the period of God’s last method of communication, He now communicates His Word and will to man by His Son. Jesus Christ has an authority superior to all those who have spoken in past times, and there will be peculiar guilt in refusing to attend to what He has spoken. The reasons for His superior authority include His rank and dignity. He is equal with God (John 1: 1) and is Himself called God in this chapter (Hebrews 1: 8). He has a right, therefore, to clearness of the truths which He communicated to man on many subjects that are of the highest interest to the world. Among such subjects are the character of God, the way in which man may be reconciled to God. He has also given to us the clearest view which man has had of the future state. He revealed the doctrine of resurrection of the body. Christ revealed a heaven and told us of a hell. He showed us that one might be gained and the other avoided. He spoke without doubt or ambiguity of God, and heaven, and hell. His is the language of one who is familiar with all that He describes; who saw all, who knew all.
Since the revelation of scripture is now complete, to add anything to the New Testament is blasphemous. We are warned that if we add anything to it, its plagues will be added to us, and that if we take anything away from it, our part shall be taken from the book of life and from the holy city (Revelation 22: 18, 19).
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