Shape of Hebrews
Jesus in Contrast to Angels as the Son of God (Hebrews 1:1-4:16)
This section of the letter is comparably short, and it is mainly focused on proving the idea that Jesus is superior to God’s angels, and it differs from the other sections in terms of keeping the focus on one idea from the start of the discussion. Thus, the author develops the argument starting with the emphasis on Jesus’s supremacy and then accentuating that He is greater than Moses and angels. Finally, the author concludes with the proclamation that Jesus is “the great high priest” (Hebrews 4:13 English Standard Version).
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From this perspective, developing these ideas in a logical order, the author attempts to accentuate the fact that Jesus is God’s Son, and this aspect makes Him more superior than angels, and there are no angels or creatures that can be viewed as sons of God in spite of the author’s use of the word “firstborn” speaking about Jesus (Hebrews 1:6). Thus, Jesus is God’s firstborn in terms of His position and privilege, but not in terms of the number of other sons of God.
Jesus as the High Priest in Contrast to Other Priests (Hebrews 5:1-10:25)
This section of the letter differs from other two sections in terms of its complex structure and the focus on several themes to discuss. In this part, the author uses a specific approach to developing the argument while starting with describing the qualities of high priests and then demonstrating how Jesus addresses these qualities. Focusing on the role of high priests, the author accentuates their relationship with people, as well as specifics of their duties and appointment.
Emphasizing the role of Jesus among high priests, presenting the warning against apostasy, accentuating God’s promise, and discussing Melchizedek’s order, the author provides the background for supporting the key idea that Jesus is the “high priest of a better covenant” and accomplishes the goal of demonstrating how Christ exceeds high priests’ qualities (Hebrews 7:28). Therefore, the following parts of the section are devoted to accentuating the idea that Jesus is a high priest forever, and he sacrificed himself for all people.
The Key Principles of Faith (Hebrews 10:26-13:25)
This section is the continuation of the section devoted to declaring Jesus as the high priest, but it differs from the previous part in presenting the complex definition of faith with reference to numerous examples. The movement in this argument is presented through accentuating the role of faith in understanding why and how Jesus should be viewed as the founder of faith. Furthermore, the argument then develops into the discussion of God’s Kingdom and sacrifices.
The section logically ends with final greetings. According to the author, the purpose of this section is to place extra emphasis on faith and how people relying on God’s promise can find their relief (Hebrews 11:8). Furthermore, the author also accentuates the role of discipline, patience, and obedience in following God’s postulates, as well as the role of being not afraid of anything because of God’s assistance.
- What is the meaning of the message of angels?
- Can angels be discussed as sons of God?
- How was Jesus tempted and how did he suffer then?
- Why is the role of Jesus compared to the role of Moses?
- Why is the position of Jesus compared to the position of angels?
- What is the actual meaning of the word “firstborn” in the context of this letter?
- Does being a firstborn mean being eternal or created?
- Why should angels be viewed as servants of Jesus?
- Can Jesus be viewed as the eternal creator of the earth and heavens?
- What is the meaning of discussing Jesus as sitting at the right hand of God?
- How are high priests usually chosen by God?
- What gifts and sacrifices given for sins are meant in the text?
- Why should high priests be identified with people’s weaknesses?
- What is the role of Melchizedek in appointing high priests and why?
- Who can succeed in practicing of distinguishing the good from the evil?
- Why did Abraham give “a tenth part of everything” to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:2)?
- How did Jesus appear as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek?
- Why is the second covenant better than the first one?
- What is the relationship between the will and death?
- What is the correlation between forgiveness and “any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).
- How is the idea of “faith” described in Hebrews 11?
- How can the examples of believers like Abel or Abraham influence people’s vision of faith?
- What can be “a more acceptable sacrifice” (Hebrews 11:4)?
- How did Moses view the reproach of Christ?
- Why did the witnesses or believers not receive the desired results or promised by God?
- Are God’s chastisements required for people to develop?
- What is the role of discipline in this case?
- How can God’s Kingdom be shaken?
- How is it possible to view God as a “helper”?
- Why there should not be fear or terror when discussing God’s treatment of believers?
The Biblical Aspect
The Message of Hebrews
It is possible to state that the message of Hebrews is associated with the accentuation of the role of Christ and the vision of faith. The Book of Hebrews can be discussed as the main source that emphasizes the position of Jesus as the high priest and His role for the mankind. His superiority is underlined in each statement of the Book (MacArthur, 2016). All details of Jesus’s role as the high priestly prayer are discussed in the Book, and this aspect contributes to understanding the role of faith. As a result, referring to the Book of Hebrews, the reader can find the important answers to his or her questions regarding Christ, faith, and sacrifices.
Understanding the Whole
It is important to perceive the Book of Hebrews as the whole in order to better focus on its separate parts. The reason is that the Book of Hebrews included in the New Testament is closely connected with the help of references with the writings from the Old Testament. Therefore, to understand these specific references that explain the meaning of certain statements in the New Testament, it is necessary to read and analyze the Book of Hebrews as the whole and then re-read its parts in order to find explanations with the focus on the Old Testament (Pratte, 2014). For example, in order to become aware of the role Jesus as a high priest who exceeds the stated qualities and attributes, it is necessary to refer to the descriptions of high priests and their responsibilities presented in the Old Testament, which are in contrast to Jesus’s role.
Holy Bible: English standard version. (2013). New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers Limited.
MacArthur, J. F. (2016). Hebrews: Christ: Perfect sacrifice, perfect priest. New York, NY: Thomas Nelson.
Pratte, D. E. (2014). Commentary on the Book of Hebrews: Bible study notes and comments. New York, NY: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform.