Hebrews to Jude

This session was taught at the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology on Saturday 19th October 2019. The CCM School of Theology was set up to serve local churches in Manchester and beyond.

Topic: Hebrews to Jude

In this session, we look at the books of Hebrews to Jude.

Speaker: Ralph Cunnington

Ralph is the Pastor of City Church Manchester. He is also on the Steering Group of City to City UK and is on the Board of UCCF.

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NOTES

Hebrews

 

What is Hebrews?

– Letter? Sermon? Homily?
– It contains teaching as to how Jesus fulfils the Old Testament.
– Chapter 13 Message of Exortation.

Who wrote Hebrews?

i. The author was a Hellenistic Jew

“And the point of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has not just come to fit into the earthly system of priestly ministry as the best and final human priest, but he has come to fulfil and put an end to that system and to orient all our attention on himself ministering for us in heaven. The Old Testament tabernacle and priests and sacrifices were shadows. Now the reality has come and the shadows pass away.”

John Piper

ii. The Author was a compassionate academic

“What we also learn about the author is that he was really concerned about the people he was preaching to and writing for. He was concerned about their spiritual apathy, and so he comes back again and again to the
danger of becoming weak or tired, or even apostasized. And so, he was certainly a superb theologian and interpreter of Scripture, but at the same time he was a person who knew his audience very well, evidently personally very well. He really cared about them and was marshalling everything that he could in terms of theology, interpretation of Scripture and application to help them in their spiritual pilgrimage.”

Eckhard Schnabel

Dating Hebrews

  • Before the Fall of Jerusalem but during a time of intense persecution.
  • 60-70AD under the Emporer Nero.

Hebrews 12:1-3 states: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 60-70 AD Significant Events

During this time Paul and Peter were killed for their faith.

60AD – Earliest Gospels written

64AD – Great Fire of Rome. Nero blames Christians for the fire.

66AD – First Jewish Roman war.

68AD – Nero Dies

The Recipients

1. A Jewish audience

There is an assumption they understand all the Old Testament references.

2. A Hellenistic audience

They are able to understand the complex Greek its written in.

3. A Persecuted audience

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do
not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:32-37

“The original audience of Hebrews faced a number of issues… as the author mentions in chapter 10, they had faced various forms of suffering; some of them had lost property, some of them had been imprisoned,
they’d been subjected to public ridicule of some sort. And he still is urging the readers at this point, as he writes, to be willing to bear the reproach of Christ to face exclusion from the camp, which he’s describing in Old
Testament terms but probably means to be excluded from the synagogue, and if they were to go to Jerusalem, to be excluded from the temple, which I believe was still standing as he wrote. So there are those forms of persecution they were facing. He says in chapter 12 that their sufferings had not escalated to the point of shedding blood, and yet he seems to be aware of their need to be assured that they have been set free from the fear of death, as he says in chapter 2, by the victory of Jesus Christ. So, it may be that even a more intense, violent persecution is on the horizon.”
Dennis E. Johnson

4. An audience that was close to leaving Jesus

Questions

  • What pressures are Christians under today which tempt them to give up on Jesus?
  • What can we do to keep going?

The Structure of the Book

Hebrews 1:1-4 – Jesus is a Better Word
Key Verse: Hebrews 1:3
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in
heaven.

Hebrews 1:4-2:4 – Jesus is Better than the Angels 
Key verse: Hebrews 1:4
So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs

Hebrews 2:5-18 – Jesus models a Better Humanity
Key verse: Hebrews 2:9
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone

Hebrews 3:1-4:13 – Jesus brings a Better Rest
Key Verse: Hebrews 3:1
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest

Hebrews 4:14-5:10 – Jesus is a Better Priest
Key Verse: Hebrews 4:14
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Hebrews 5:11-6:20 – Jesus is a Better Abraham
Key Verse: 6:19-20
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:1-8:13 – Jesus brings a Better Covenant
Key Verse 7:23-24
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood

Hebrews 9:1-10:18 – Jesus is a Better Sacrifice
Key Verse: Hebrews 9:14
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 10:19-39
Key Verse: Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day
approaching.

Hebrews 11:1-40
Key Verse: Hebrews 11: 39 – 40
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect

Hebrews 12:1-29
Key Verse: Hebrews 12: 1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 13:1-25
Key Verse: Hebrews 13:15-16
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is
pleased.

James

Author: James – Brother of Jesus. Leader of the Jerusalem Church (Galatians 1v19)
Date: Unknown. Between 40 and 90 AD
Recipients: The Scattered Christians, the Jewish dispersion.
Content: Consistent Christian living, enduring hardship, pursuing justice. Demonstrating works which flow out of faith. 

1 Peter

Author: Peter (written down by Silas)
Date: 64-65AD
Recipients: Written from Rome to ‘Babylon’ – the Gentile believers. To those in the five provinces of Asia Minor.
Content: Encouragement, to those under persecuti0n, submit to suffering as Christ did. See suffering as a gospel opportunity.

2 Peter

Author: Peter
Date: 64AD
Recipients: Unknown but appears to be a specific group.
Content: Farewell speach urging Christian growth and standing against false teaching. Ch 1-3 Personal and intimate knowledge of Jesus is the answer.

1 John

Author: John. The Apostle John who wrote Revelation.
Date: 80-90AD
Recipients: Christians Communities known by John.
Content: To provide assurance to believers. This book is often used to undermine assurance because the emphasis is wrongly put on the ‘if we’ rather than emphasising the results of the work God has begun in us.

2 John

Author: John.
Date: 80-90AD
Recipients: Could be a specific church or an individual woman hosting a house church.. 
Content: Love and Incarnation. Truth.

3 John

Author: John.
Date: Late 90’s – this is the latest of the letters.
Recipients: Gaius, a friend of John, and other believers. 
Content: Urging him to welcome Dimitrius and highlighting the obligations of hospitality because we are partners in the gospel.

Jude

Author: Jude – brother of James and Jesus. ‘servant of Jesus’.
Date: Late first century.
Recipients: Unknown – probably a single congregation.
Content: Full of warning against false teachers who have turned the doctrine of grace into licence in the church. Importance of Holy Living and perseverence. How to care for those impacted by false teaching.

 

Further Reading:

George Guthrie, The NIVAC Hebrews (Zondervan, 1998)
Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews (IVP, 1982)
Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible (Zondervan, 2002)

 

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