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Riverview, Queensland, Australia
I am a semi-retired church pastor exploring the dynamics of life in Christ in this exciting world.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Hebrews: Take Care

INTRODUCTION:


While the Letter to the Hebrews contains some amazing statements regarding the humanity, divinity, life and ministry of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, it also contains much practical advice for its readers then and now.

The pages to be added to this blogspot list the sermon series developed to look into these ‘practical’ statements and is a guide to the thought flow of the writer, the Apostle Paul, throughout the letter.

As you have just read, I have named the Apostle Paul as the writer. This I have done for the following reasons:

• There is a great deal of historical evidence to support this view

• The authorship of this letter was not challenged until the development of ‘inductive criticisms’ in recent times.

• Most importantly it is a little indifferent to preach on a passage and say ‘the writer says’, or ‘as it is written by someone unknown’.

Let me illustrate:

‘Hi,

Just thought I would write to you a short letter to encourage you in your faith and life and bring to you some practical advice for living in an ever-changing world. As you know we received the basic principals of life from Jesus and although you may have heard differently from others I would like to reassure you of ‘the truth’ you have received from us and the veracity of the arguments for the humanity, divinity and Glory of Jesus Christ the Messiah, Prophet, Priest and King of Creation.’

Anon

How much ‘weight’ would a letter like this carry to a people who did not have the Internet, 2000 years of biblical theology, extensive biblical libraries and a degree or two in Theology?

Not much really.

We could bring out the sledge hammer of ‘the authority of the Scriptures’ [which is true by the way] and beat you over the head with it and then tell you that you have to listen to this anonymous letter and consider what it says in your faith and life and but, would you listen or just turn off.

Would it not be better to say, OK there are today those who challenge the historical authorship of this letter by the Apostle Paul for various reasons but for this series of talks we will make this letter personal and use the Apostle Paul as the author. This way Paul becomes the writer to you personally so that as you read this letter it comes to you as a personal note from Paul to you.

If you believe that it was Barnabas, Mark, Timothy or another fine, just substitute ‘that’ name each time I say the word Paul, but whatever you do make this letter personal, personal to you and your life and faith in Jesus Christ. That makes it more than authoritative (which already it is) it makes it both personal and relevant.

We all need to take note of what Paul says, for his advice is timely and relevant to us today as it was to his original readers. Therefore, in looking at the Letter to the Hebrews, the following sermons have been entitled ‘Take Care’, the phrase ‘take care’ occurs in Hebrews 2:13 and several times in the letter. It is this concern that Paul has for his readers that this series seeks to reveal.

The sermons make note of the preceding argument prior to the exhortation as set down by Paul in which he lays the foundation for his exhortation and the gives us the reasons as to why we need to heed his advice.

Throughout the letter key words and phrases like; since, therefore, so that, let us, make every effort etc., contain Paul’s exhortation that apply his argument ‘theology’ to the issue or situation that he is addressing.

I pray that you may enjoy the following talks and ‘Take Care’ to apply the words of Paul to you life and faith.





A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HEBREWS:

Rightly so many outlines of the Book of Hebrews concentrate on the superiority of Christ over angels, priests, man, and Christ as God’s supreme revelation to man.

I. Christ’s Superior Revelation (1:1 – 4)

II. Christ’s Superiority over Angels (1:5 – 2:18)

III. Christ’s Superiority over Moses (3:1 – 4:13)

IV. Christ’s Superiority over Aaronic Priests (4:14 – 7:28)

V. Christ’s Superior Sacrifice (8:1 – 10:39)

VI. Plea for the perseverance of Faith (11:1 – 12:29)

VII. Conclusions (13:1 – 25)



Looking at the list above we can see that the exhortations Paul gives to the Hebrews fit into these ‘blocks’ of theological and doctrinal truths about Jesus Christ. That is, Paul builds his case for the exhortations by demonstrating the superiority of Christ, and what he has done for us, which then forms the foundation for his key word, phrase or exhortation;

I: We must 2:1

II: Therefore 3:1, 4:1, 4:14, 6: 10:19,12:1, 28,

III: Since 2:14

IV: See to it 3:12, 12:16, 25

V: So 3:7 10:35

VI: Let us 4:11, 6:1

VII: Remember 10:32. 13:37

VIII: Make 12:14

IX: Keep on 13:1

X: Obey 13:17

It can be seen that the exhortations are centered on two sections in the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapters 1 to 6 and 10 to 13. The exhortations in the first section, Chapters 1 to 6 are based on Christ Superiority as a Man; the exhortations in the second section, Chapters 10 to 13 are, based on Christ’s superiority as our Redeemer.

The discussion in Chapters 7 to 9 therefore establishes Christ Jesus’ credentials and right to be the Saviour of the world. Generally the exhortations in the first section center around our need of faith and perseverance, and the exhortations in the second sections centre on our need of salvation and assurance.

It is the purpose and aim of these sermons then to focus on the exhortations in their context, both in their relation to Christ and the world in which the Hebrew Christian lived.

A key theme that develops from this approach to Hebrews is Paul’s transition from our relationship with God in and through Christ (Chapters 1 to 6) to our relationship with one another in Christ in our Christian fellowship (Chapters 10 to 13).