Hebrews ' Christian, Dare to Draw Near

(December 24, 2019 version)


Like a plant's tender shoot growing after a fire, Hebrews is a book of beauty written during difficult times. Jewish people coming to Christ were rejected and persecuted by their Jewish brethren. It would be tempting to either turn back, or just be silent about their witness as a Christian. The writer gives them a clear picture, to fix in their minds, of why they should persevere, even in trying times.


Early writers who quote from Hebrews

Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.)

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)

Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.)

Origen (225-254 A.D.)

Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.)

Treatise Against Novatian (c.248-258 A.D.)

Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.)

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)

Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)

Athanasius of Alexandria (367 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)

Eusebius of Caesarea (323-326 A.D.)

Writings up through 325 A.D. quote 45.8% of the 303 verses of Hebrews: or every verse except for 164.1.


Early manuscripts of Hebrews

p12 (285-300 A.D.) Hebrews 1:1

Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.)

p13 (c.245-250 A.D.)

Bohairic Coptic (3rd/4th century)

p17 (late 3rd century)

Fayyumic Coptic (3rd/4th century)

p46 (=Chester Beatty II) (ca.200 A.D.) 290/303 verses

Sahidic Coptic (3rd/4th century)

p89 (4th century)

Peshitta Syriac (375-400 A.D.)

p114 (3rd century)

Ephraemi Rescriptus (5th century)

Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.)

Armenian (from the 5th century)

As for manuscript variants, we are certain of about 98.3% of every word in Hebrews.


Authorship of Hebrews

While the book is anonymous, Hebrews 13:18-19 indicates the original readers knew. But who was it?

It is not Timothy, because Hebrews 13:23 mentions Timothy. Christians from the earliest times have disagreed.

Paul

Others

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)

 

Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)

Tertullian (208-220 A.D.) said Barnabas

Origen (225-254 A.D.) but he said others disagreed. Some said Clement of Rome, others said Luke.

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)

 

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

 

Athanasius (c.318 A.D.)

 

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

 

Eusebius of Caesarea (323-326 A.D.) says disputed whether Paul wrote Hebrews or not

Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century)

 

Gregory of Nyssa (382-383 A.D.)

 

Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)

 

John Chrysostom (before 407 A.D.)

 

Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.)

 

John Cassian (419-430 A.D.)

Martin Luther thought Apollos

 

Hebrews 1 ' Here Comes the Son


1. What is currently one of the most forgotten characteristics of God, though it was more prominent from the time of Moses, and probably the most prominent characteristic prior to Moses?





2. What is the main point of the book of Hebrews?




3. In Heb 1:1-3, what is shocking, or even scandalous (except in a good way) about what these verses record?





4. Does Heb 1:2 mean there are no more prophets?




5. In Heb 1:2, did Jesus exist in Heaven before He came to earth?




6. In Heb 1:3, since Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father, does this prove the Father has a physical body?




7. In Heb 1:4, since Jesus "became" superior to the angels, was He not superior to the angels before?





8. Does Heb 1:5-6 imply that Christ is an angel?




9. In Heb 1:6, does "let all God's angels worship him" quote Dt 32:43, since the Masoretic text does not have this?




10. In Heb 1:6, is Jesus just to be worshipped or does the Greek word mean the angels just "did obeisance" to here as some Jehovah's Witnesses teach?






11. What does Heb 1:9 mean about Jesus being God?




12. In Heb 1:13, what would this quote of Psalm 110:1 mean to Jewish person?





13. In Heb 1:14 how are we to regard angels?

 

Hebrews 2:1-13 'How Great was the Work of Jesus


1. In Heb 2:1, how do some who follow Christ drift away?




2. In Heb 2:2, are we supposed to obey words spoken by angels or not?




3. In Heb 2:2-3, do you think ignoring the gospel is not as bad, the same, or worse than ignoring the law from the time of Moses to Christ?




4. In Heb 2:3, what is the difference between rejecting the salvation through Christ and ignoring it?




5. In Heb 2:6, since Jesus is the "firstborn" of God, is Jesus is a created being? We are not supposed to worship created beings as Rom 1:25 says.




6. In Heb 2:6-9, does this passage from Ps 8 refer to people, believers or Jesus?




7. In Heb 2:9, how was Jesus lower than the angels?




8. In Heb 2:9, since Jesus tasted death for everyone, why are all not saved? Is payment for some people made twice, once by them and once by Jesus?




9. In Heb 2:10; 12:2; what is unusual about the phrase captain/author of our faith?




10. In Heb 2:10,18, how could Jesus really suffer, since He is God?




11. In Heb 2:10, since Jesus was already perfect, how could Jesus be perfected in suffering?




12. In Heb 2:11, what are four ways people are sanctified or in the process of being made holy?




13. In Heb 2:11-14,17, if we are brothers and one with Jesus, will we have the same nature Jesus has?

 

Hebrews 2:13-18 ' How Jesus is Greater than Us


1. In Heb 2:13, how did Jesus put His trust in the Father, and how should we?




2. In Heb 2:14 does the devil hold the power of death, or does God hold all power in Eph 1:11-22?





3. In Heb 2:16-17, could Jesus have yielded to temptation and sinned?





4. In Heb 2:16-18 and Heb 4:15, regardless of whether Jesus could have sinned, how could He be tempted? James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted with evil.





5. In Heb 2:17, since Jesus was like us in every way, then how could Jesus be God?





6. In Heb 2:17-18, why did Jesus have to be fully human? Some might think that since Jesus was also God, He was beyond human frailties.





7. In Heb 2:17, how could Jesus be fully human, since He was not born of a human father?





8. In Heb 2:17, is Jesus being both God and human a temporary state or will it last forever?





9. In Heb 2:18, was Jesus really God, since Jms 1:13 says God cannot be tempted?





10. In Heb 2, what is the primary point?


 

Hebrews 3 ' How Jesus is Greater than Moses


1. In Heb 3:2,5,6 both Jesus and Moses were men who were faithful; faithfulness is one of the nine parts of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22b. But what exactly is faithfulness?




2. Does Heb 3:3-4 say that Jesus is God?



3. Do Heb 3:6, Heb 3:14, and Ezek 3:17-21 show genuine believers can lose their salvation?




4. In Heb 3:7-4:7, how does the testing in the desert relate to the readers of Hebrews?




5. In Heb 3:7-11 how does this second warning in Hebrews differ from the first warning in Heb 2:1-3? Do people need two kinds of warnings today?





6. In Heb 3:10, how could all in that generation not know God's ways and die in sin?





7. In Heb 3:12, can people depart from the Living God?





8. In Heb 3:13, what are the different ways that sin hardens?





9. In Heb 3:19, what single thing kept the Israelites of Moses' generation from enjoying the promised Land? How does that keep not only unbelievers, but also some believers, out of God's blessings today?





10. In Heb 3, so exactly why is Jesus greater than Moses?





11. A question to ask Jewish friends is: "do you think the Messiah will be greater than Moses?" How would you explain why?


 

Hebrews 4 ' Entering God's Rest


1. In Heb 4:1-2, what exactly does the warning say?





2. In Heb 4:2, should this be translated "they did not combine it with faith" or "not having been mixed with faith"?





3. In Heb 4:3a,8-11, how are believers today in God's Sabbath rest?





4. In Heb 4:3,b5-6, why did some never enter God's rest, even if they observed the Sabbath?






5. In Heb 4:9, what is unusual about this word sabbatismos "Sabbath-rest"?





6. In Heb 4:10-11, how are we to rest from our work, yet work to enter God's rest?





7. In Heb 4:12, what is a soul vs. a spirit?





8. In Heb 4:13b, should it be "with whom we have to do (KJV), or "with whom we have to give account" (NIV)?





9. In Heb 4:15, what are other verses that show that Jesus was sinless?




 

Hebrews 5 ' Jesus our High Priest


1. In Heb 5:1-10, what is unusual about this passage?





2. In Heb 5:2, what does "deal gently with" mean?





3. In Heb 5:5 and Ac 13:33, how does Jesus' First Coming relate to Ps 2:7 "today I have begotten thee"?





4. In Heb 5:6, what should the translation of "order of Melchizedek be?





5. Does Heb 5:7 teach Jesus had flesh only before His resurrection as JW's and the Rev. Moon's Unification Church teach?





6. In Heb 5:7 and Mt 26:39, did Christ fear His death, or was he resolutely determined to go to the cross in Lk 9:51?





7. In Heb 5:7, if God the Father heard Jesus' prayers, how come the "cup" of dying on the cross in Mk 14:36 was not taken from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane?





8. In Heb 5:8 and Php 2:7-8, since Jesus was obedient to God, how could Jesus be God?





9. In Heb 5:8, can an all-knowing God learn? If not, how could Jesus learn obedience?




10. Should Heb 5:11 in an outline go with Heb 5:1-10 or Heb 5:12-14?




11. In Heb 5:12-13, is it OK to have spiritual milk?


 

Hebrews 6 ' If You Don't Grow, You're Dead


1. In Heb 6:1, why leave the elementary things and go on to mature things, when they were slow to learn the elementary things in Heb 5:11-14?




Note that the term in Hebrews 6:1 literally means "dead works" and is the exact same words in Hebrews 9:14 about works of the law.


2. In Heb 6:1-3, what are the elementary things about Christ vs. the mature things?





3. In Heb 6:4-8, what should be our feelings as we read this?





4. What does Heb 6:4-12 teach about salvation?




5. In Heb 6:4-12, can people lose their salvation?




6. What does Heb 6:4-12 mean about not being able to repent to salvation anymore?




In Hebrews 6:12, the word for "lazy", nothroi, is the same word translated "slow" in Hebrews 5:11.


In Heb 6:16, the phrase for oath here is quite interesting. It is eis bebaiosin, related to the Egyptian legal formula common in papyri. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.60 for more info.


7. In Heb 6:18, since God Almighty can do anything, how come He cannot lie?





8. In Heb 6:18 does it being impossible for God to lie fly in the face of Jesus' comment in Mt 19:26 that, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." How can all things be possible for God, as Jesus asserts, if it is impossible for God to lie, as Hebrews claims?





9. In Heb 6:18, what are some of the consequences of believing that God tells lies?




10. In Heb 6:19, what is the "anchor for the soul, and how is the anchor an anchor?


 

Hebrews 7 ' Jesus Greater than Melchizedek


1. In Heb 7:1-10, why is Jesus compared with Melchizedek in Gen 14:18-20?




2. In Heb 7:1-10, what is the "order of Melchizedek"?




3. Does Heb 7:1-11, along with Christ's virgin birth, prove that we are guilty for the sins of all of our ancestors by being in their loins?




4. Does Heb 7:1-11 prove we are guilty for Adam's sin by virtue of our being in Adam's loins?




5. In Heb 7:1-11, what does this mean?




6. In Heb 7:2-4, was Melchizedek really Jesus or not?




7. In Heb 7:2-11, does Scripture say Melchizedek definitely is Jesus or not?




8. In Heb 7:3, was Melchizedek reincarnated?




9. In Heb 7:9-10, does this somehow show a human fetus is only potentially human, not an actual one, and thus abortion is OK?



10. In Heb 7:14, how is the writer saying a priest could come from Judah?




11. In Heb 7:18, why does God often do something different than what His people expect?




12. In Heb 7:19 and 8:17, did Moses' Law make nothing perfect, or was the Law perfect as Ps 19:7 says?




13. In Heb 7:27, were the Jews right to discontinue sacrifices after the destruction of the Temple, because they were only to sacrifice when there was a temple?


 

Hebrews 8 ' Jesus, Our High Priest


1. In Heb 8:1, was Jesus our priest, or our sacrifice?





2. In Heb 8:1 and Heb 9:11, how was Jesus qualified to be our high priest?





3. In Heb 8:1-3, is it OK to call a man on earth today our priest?





4. In Heb 8:5, what was the purpose of the example of the Tabernacle?





5. In Heb 8:5, does the tabernacle being a shadow of Heavenly things support the Platonist idea of our world being shadows of the real world of ideas? What is the point of a copy or shadow?





6. In Heb 8:5-7,13; 9:1,15; 10:9,16, does the Bible teach "covenants" or "dispensations"?





7. In Heb 8:7-8, what was wrong with the first covenant under Moses?





8. In Heb 8:10, since Jesus died for all men, how is the second covenant only with the house of Israel?





9. In Heb 8:11 and Jer 31:33-34, are we supposed to teach each other?




10. In Heb 8:13, how could the Old Covenant vanish away, since Jesus said in Luke 16:16-17 that not one jot or tittle will pass away?

 

Hebrews 9 ' Christ offered a better Sacrifice through a better Tabernacle


1. In Heb 9:2-4, was the golden altar of incense in the Most Holy Place, or was it in the Holy Place as Ex 30:6 and Lev 16:12-13,18 show?




2. In Heb 9:4, are the stone tablets the same as the book of the Law in Dt 31:24-26?




3. In Heb 9:4, were the three things in the ark of the Covenant, or in front of the ark as Ex 16:33-34, Num 17:10-11, 1 Ki 8:9, and 2 Chr 5:10 imply?




4. In Heb 9:6-9, what was the point of all of this separation in the tabernacle?




5. In Heb 9:12-14, what exactly is "redemption"?

 

 

 

6. In Heb 9:15, should this Greek word diatheke be translated "covenant", or "will or testament"?




7. In Heb 9:15, was Christ's payment for our sins retroactive?




8. In Heb 9:21, where does it say the tabernacle and other things were sprinkled with blood?




9. In Heb 9:25-28, could Jesus be sacrificed many times during the Roman Catholic Mass, with the bread and wine?




10. In Heb 9:27-28, could reincarnation be true and be compatible with Christianity?




11. In Heb 9:28f, what does "those who are waiting", apekdechomenois, mean?

 

Hebrews 10 ' The Only Sacrifice that Works


1. In Heb 10:1-2, in the move "The Truman Show" the hero lived in an unreal world. In a sense the Old Testament believers lived in a "shadow world", having only a shadow of Christ in the Old Testament sacrifices. How do we live in a "shadow world" today?





2. In Heb 10:6-7, is "a body you have prepared for me" a quote of Ps 40:6 "my ears you have opened [pierced]"?





3. In Heb 10:10, was Jesus' body invaded by Satan, as Rev. Moon, founder of the cult of the Unification Church, teaches?





4. In Heb 10:14, how are we already perfect, and yet being made holy?





5. In Heb 10:10,18, since there are no more offerings for sin, could Jesus be sacrificed again in the Roman Catholic mass?





6. In Heb 10:25, is it OK for believers not to gather together in fellowship?





7. Does Heb 10:26-32 show people can lose their salvation?





8. In Heb 10:32, in Greek the verse starts with "But". How does this contrast with the previous section?

 

Hebrews 11:1-19 ' Live the Faith, through Abraham


1. In Heb 11:1 and Heb 11:3, was it "our faith that understands the world was formed", or was it "by God's faith that He formed the world", as Kenneth Copeland and others teach?




2. In Heb 11:2-32, why were flawed examples used here?




3. In Heb 11:4, why did God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's offering?





4. In Heb 11:5, how could Enoch not see death?





5. In Heb 11:7, how did Noah condemn the world?





6. In Heb 11:8, how did Abraham (formerly Abram) depart not knowing where he was going, since Gen 12:5 says Abram departed to go to the land of Canaan?




7. In Heb 11:10,13-16 discusses a character trait Christians should have that is very rarely mentioned anymore. What is that, and why is it important?








8. In Heb 11:17-19, Abraham would not have seen any reason why God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham knew how to obey even when he did understand. Understanding is good, but what is involved in being faithful even when we do not understand?





9. In Heb 11:19, how did Abraham receive Isaac back from the dead, figuratively?



 

Hebrews 11:20-40 ' Live the Faith, from Isaac On


1. In Heb 11:17-20, Abraham had a "pioneer faith", different from his family and culture, and going to exciting new places. Isaac and his descendents had nearly a "lifelong faith". How do those two kinds of expressions of faith differ?





2. In Heb 11:21, why would God commend the faith of Jacob, who cheated people? What apparently is more important than righteousness?





3. In Heb 11:26, how did Moses esteem the reproach of Christ, since Moses had never heard of Christ?





4. In Heb 11:27, how did Moses leave Egypt, not fearing the king's anger, since Ex 2:14,15 says Moses feared Pharaoh and fled to Midian?





5. In Heb 11:32, how were Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah heroes of the faith? They all sinned, and even Barak showed a lack of leadership.





6. In Heb 11:35, which women received back their dead?





7. In Heb 11:35, is this an allusion to 2 Maccabees 7:12, which proves at least part of the Apocrypha to be a part of Scripture?





8. In Heb 11:36, what is so serious about jeering?





9. In Heb 11:37, how is being dressed in sheepskins and goatskins different from other persecutions?


 

Hebrews 12 ' "HEED" Hardship, Encouragement, Endurance, and Discipline


1. In Heb 12:1, who are the great cloud of witnesses?



2. In Heb 12:1, does a cloud of witnesses prove that Jesus coming back in the clouds mean Jesus will come back among groups of people, as Rev. Moon's Unification church teaches?



3. In Heb 12:1, what are weights that we as Christians sometimes (or often) need to throw off?



4. In Heb 12:2, how could Jesus endure the cross, because of the joy set before Him?



5. In Heb 12:4 what is the struggle against sin here?



6. In Heb 12:6-11, why does God use this example, since corporal punishment is [allegedly] wrong?



7. In Heb 12:7,9-10, should fathers take the lead role in discipline?



8. In Heb 12:8 what is the point of legitimate sons here?




9. In Heb 12:15 and Heb 12:25, how can people miss or turn away from the grace of God?




10. In Heb 12:15, how can a bitter root grow and defile many?




11. In Heb 12:17, why would God reject someone who repents?




12. In Heb 12:18-21, why was God trying to scare the daylights out of the Israelites in Moses' time? How about today?




13. In Heb 12:24, how did Jesus' blood speak better than Abel's?




14. In Heb 12:29 and Dt 4:24, what does "our God is a consuming fire" mean?

 

Hebrews 13:1-8 ' Loving Others Better


1. In Heb 13:1, why does a person's brotherly love (philadelphia) sometimes die down?





2. In Heb 13:1, what are ways to continue our brotherly love towards others?





3. In Heb 13:2, what are some reasons we should have a love for strangers (philoxenia)?





4. In Heb 13:2, what are ways we can show hospitality towards others, in addition to inviting them into our home?





5. In Heb 13:2, are their dangers in being hospitable towards others, and how do we balance danger with obeying God's command here?





6. In Heb 13:3, how do we show hospitality to, and remember those who just got out of prison?





7. In Heb 13:4, why is it important to keep the marriage bed pure?





8. In Heb 13:5 and 1 Tim 6:10, what do we need to do today to keep ourselves from the love of money?





9. In Heb 13:7, to what extent should we imitate our leaders in the faith?





 

Hebrews 13:9-25 ' Devoting ourselves to God Better


1. In Heb 13:8, since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, how could He empty Himself to come to earth, as Php 2:5-7 teaches?




2. In Heb 13:9, what is the attractiveness of strange/foreign teachings?




3. In Heb 13:12, how would you answer the criticism that Christianity is a bloody religion?




4. In Heb 13:15, how do we continuously offer to God a sacrifice of praise today?




5. In Heb 13:17 and 1 Peter 5:2-4, how are we to obey our leaders?




6. Since Heb 13:17 says that our leaders have authority over us, what about "sola scriptura"?




7. In Heb 13:20-21, how does God equip us with everything good for doing His will?




8. In Heb 13:23, what unique thing does this tell us about Timothy?




9. In Heb 13:24, what are ways we can especially greet saints today?


 

Hebrews 1 ' Here Comes the Sun ' some brief answers


1. What is currently one of the most forgotten characteristics of God, though it was more prominent from the time of Moses, and probably the most prominent characteristic prior to Moses?

A: God is mysterious. Imagine knowing no more about God than what you could know by observing creation, and if you believed what you saw there, God might reveal only a tiny bit more to you. Well OK, maybe a bit more if you were a prophet. In Numbers 12:6-8 the LORD says, "Then He said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?'" (NKJV)

1 Peter 1:10 says, "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you," (NKJV)

Other verses that talk of the mystery of Christ are Ephesians 3:4-6, 1 Peter 1:20; Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5b, 5:5.

2 Peter 1:19, we have the word of the prophets made more certain.

By the way, the Israelites, God's chosen people, were not the only one who knew anything about God. We do not know much about the speakers in the book of Job, except that where they were from. None were mentioned being from Israel or Canaan; but rather Edom.

Pachacuti, an Emperor of the Incas, believed all the idols were wrong, and there was only One True God, who existed as a Threeness. This Emperor lived about 1400 A.D., and he died before Columbus sailed in 1492. See Eternity in Their Hearts p.36-38 for more info.


2. What is the main point of the book of Hebrews?

A: The main point is "Christ is better". Hebrews was written to show both the continuity of the Old Testament and Christianity, as well as the new, radical transformation under Christ. Christ is better than men, better than angels, better than the law, and better than sacrifices.


3. In Heb 1:1-3, what is shocking, or even scandalous (except in a good way) about what these verses record?

A: God has His presence even much farther from us that even the farthest galaxy. He fills the heaven, with the stars of heaven at least as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. But does God even notice a speck of dust circling a grain of sand, which we like to call the world? One might think that God has better things to do.

Then all of a sudden, wham, God shows up and appears in your face. You can hear Him clearly. You can see Him, without going blind or dead. You can ask Him anything. Do you want to know what the kingdom of Heaven is like? Well, it might be hard for you to completely comprehend, but let me explain in ways you can understand. By the way, I'm hungry, let's go get some fish. But we don't have any fish to give; we haven't caught any all night. That's OK, the treat's on me this time.

How can a Being so powerful, so pure, so holy, so alien" to us, humiliate Himself so much as to come visit us as one of us? If you have ever read about a king of a prince disguising himself as a beggar and going into the town to visit the people, that is nothing compared to the distance in glory and honor Jesus traveled by coming to this earth.


4. Does Heb 1:2 mean there are no more prophets?

A: Yes and no, properly understood.

Yes, After Christ, there were no more prophets in the Old Testament sense, who gave us books of the Bible and are part of the foundation on which the church is built in Ephesians 2:20.

No, in the New Testament there was still the gift of prophesy in 1 Corinthians 12:29; 14:4. Some men and women who had this gift are mentioned in Acts 21:9-10.


5. In Heb 1:2, did Jesus exist in Heaven before He came to earth?

A: Yes, according to Hebrews 1:2, John 1:1-3, and Jesus' own words in John 17:5. I am not sure what clearer proof is needed, but consult 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.27-28 for more info.

Colossians 1:15 "He [the Son of His love] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have preeminence."

But His becoming the Son of God by incarnation does not deny Him being "with God" in the beginning. (John 1:1-2,10,14-15)


6. In Heb 1:3, since Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father, does this prove the Father has a physical body?

A: No, not any more than the right-hand side of a car proves a car has hands. Three points to consider in the answer.

1. The phrase "at the right hand" actually means a position of honor.

2. "At the right hand" could also refer to a physical position. While God does fill the Heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24), God the Father also has a localized presence on His throne (Revelation 4; 5:7).

3. Even God having a localized presence does not prove God is bound in a physical body or has a physical body. However, this does not deny that God the Father can appear in any form He wants to, including a flame or a physical body.

See When Cultists Ask p.283-284 for a different answer.


7. In Heb 1:4, since Jesus "became" superior to the angels, was He not superior to the angels before?

A: In Heaven He was superior to the angels, as John 17:5 suggests. However, Jesus emptied Himself when He came to earth, in Philippians 2:7. Jesus temporarily becoming lower than the angels, as Hebrews 2:7,9 explicitly says. Now Hebrews 1:4 shows the Father granted Jesus' request in John 17:5.


8. Does Heb 1:5-6 imply that Christ is an angel?

A: No, it actually shows just the opposite, especially in Hebrews 1:6-8 and Hebrews 2:16. While Almighty God had the power for Christ to have any nature He wanted, including the nature of an angel. Hebrews 2:11,14,16-17 shows Jesus was incarnated as a man, not an angel.


9. In Heb 1:6, does "let all God's angels worship him" quote Dt 32:43, since the Masoretic text does not have this?

A: Yes. The text is clear in Hebrews 1:6. The same phrase or similar is in both the Dead Sea Scroll 4Q44 of Deuteronomy 32:43 and the Septuagint of Deuteronomy 32:43. This must be a manuscript error that crept in the Masoretic text.


10. In Heb 1:6, is Jesus just to be worshipped or does the Greek word mean the angels just "did obeisance" to here as some Jehovah's Witnesses teach?

A: Proskuneo argument for worshipping Jesus: English words for worship are used 76 times in the New Testament (KJV). (I guess it is because believers did a lot of worshipping.) The Greek word proskuneo is used all but 16 times.

P1. Among others, the four heavenly creatures proskuneo God in Revelation 19:4.

P2. Never proskuneo another. Satan asked Jesus to proskuneo him in Matthew 4:9. Jesus answered to proskuneo only God in Matthew 4:10. The angel in Revelation 19:10 said to worship only God. All people who proskuneo the beast in Revelation 14:9 will suffer for that.

P3. When Jesus quoted the old Testament in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, He used the word proskuneo.

P4. The angels proskuneo Jesus in Hebrews 1:6

P5. Many people proskuneo Jesus, including the disciples before Christ's resurrection (Matthew 14:33), the wise men (Matthew 2:2), a leper (Matthew 8:2), a ruler (Matthew 9:18), the disciples after Christ's resurrection (Matthew 28:9,17; Luke 24:52) the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), the Roman soldiers in mockery (Mark 15:19)

P - Summary: What the angels of Heaven do, what the disciples and others did, and what even the Roman soldiers did in mockery, it is proper for the followers of Jesus to do in sincerity.

However, the word proskuneo is also used for those of the synagogue of Satan falling at the feet of people of the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:9. It can be argued that "proskuneo" might mean simply falling on their knees before someone in Matthew 15:25; 18:26; and 20:20.

Though proskuneo can sometimes just mean kneeling, it is the dominant word for worship. To top it all off, even in the Jehovah's Witnesses own New World Translation it translated proskuneo in Hebrews 1:6 as worship. According to Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.100-101, this was true in the 1953, 1960, 1961, and 1970 versions of the New World Translation. The Watchtower changed this to "do obeisance" starting with the 1971 revision.

If you think the way Christians proskuneo Jesus is improper, how do you proskuneo Jesus?

As a Jehovah's Witness lady told me, at the end of a long discussion, that she would bow before Jesus if He was here today, but since He was not, that is why she did not proskuneo Him. I could see her point, if Jesus was never present to her. However, in Matthew 18:20 Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them. So when we are together, we should proskuneo Jesus. Furthermore, Romans 8:9-10 shows, all who belong to Christ have the spirit of Christ inside of them.

Furthermore, the Jehovah Witness New World Translation shows bias here. It translates proskuneo as worship when used in reference to God (Revelation 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4; John 4:20, etc.) but every time the same word is used of Jesus it is translated as "obeisance" (Matthew 14:33; 28:9,17; Luke 24:52; Hebrews 1:6). See Sixty Questions Every Jehovah's Witness Should be Asked p.26-27 for more info.

Nevertheless, as strong as the proskuneo argument is, we are just getting started with arguments showing that Jesus is God and worthy of worship. Additional points are the "Thomas" argument in the discussion on John 20:24-29, the "honor" argument in the discussion on John 5:23, the "worship" argument in the discussion on Revelation 5:9-14 among others. See When Cultists Ask p.284 for additional points on the "proskuneo" and other arguments.


11. What does Heb 1:9 mean about Jesus being God?

A: This shows that Jesus is God. Grammatically, in both Greek and English, it could be either "Jesus who is God, the Father who is Your God", or "Jesus, the Father who is Your God" The New International Bible Commentary p.1507, says that while the grammar of both verse 8 and verse 9 are ambiguous, it is certain that the intent is the "vocative" (Jesus who is God, the Father who is Your God). We know this by comparing with the Hebrew of what this quotes: Psalm 45:6-7. Aquila the Jew's translation of Psalm 45:7 says, "O God, Thy God has anointed Thee".


12. In Heb 1:13, what would Psalm 110 mean to Jewish person?

A: Parts of Psalm 110 are quoted in Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36-37; Luke 20:42-44; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13; 5:10, and extensively discussed in Hebrews 7:1-28. Psalm 110 was quoted by thirteen pre-Nicene church writers. See www.biblequery.org\history\churchhistory\WhatEarlyChristiansTaught.html for what they said. The Jewish writers of Midrash Tehillim and Commentary on Psalms (200-500 A.D.) recognized Psalm 110 as Messianic.


13. In Heb 1:14 how are we to regard angels?

A: Here are five key things about our present and future relationship with angels.

We will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)

We are not to slander celestial beings, whether angels or demons. (Jude 8-10)

Angels are ministering to us (Hebrews 1:14)

We might entertain angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1)

We must not worship angels (Colossians 2:18); we are only to be devoted to Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:2).

 

Hebrews 2:1-13 'How Great was the Work of Jesus ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 2:1, how do some who follow Christ drift away?

A: While some catastrophically fall away due to some sudden event, that is not the meaning of the word "drift". This Greek word, pararyomen is found only here in the New Testament and in Proverbs 3:21 in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. This refers to a gradually moving away that might be slight at first, but could be far in the end. Think of a ring that quietly slips to the end of your finger, and the off, and then could be many miles away. We have a responsibility to see that we do not even begin to drift away.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.783 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.21 for more info.


2. In Heb 2:2, are we supposed to obey words spoken by angels or not?

A: Yes and no, properly understood. Yes, people in the Bible listened to God's obedient angels, because they gave messages from God. No, we are not supposed to pay attention to what evil, fallen angels teach (Galatians 1:8; 1 John 4:1-3). Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). However the Law of Moses was given through angels according to Deuteronomy 33:2 (Septuagint), Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19. Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews book 15 ch.136 also mentions this. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1133 and The Expositors Bible Commentary vol.12 p.21 for more info.


3. In Heb 2:2-3, do you think ignoring the gospel is not as bad, the same, or worse than ignoring the law from the time of Moses to Christ?

A: Hebrews 2:2-3 says that since the gospel is greater than the law, refusing to accept it is worse than refusing to accept the Mosaic Law. When the writer asks "how shall we escape" in Hebrews 2:2 and 2:25, he is implying that there is no escape if you ignore the gospel. The Greek word "we" means a little more than just "we". It is almost like "not them but we" See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.22 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2161 for more info.


4. In Heb 2:3, what is the difference between rejecting the salvation through Christ and ignoring it?

A: In Hebrews 2:4 the word "various" in "miracles" can have a vivid meaning of "various colored", i.e. hard to ignore. Rejecting it means a person has decided to move to the opposite of it, and at least at that time has closed the door to it. Ignoring it means not moving toward or away, and possibly leaving the door open to it at that time. However, in the end there is no difference; if you choose not to accept this salvation there is no other way to Heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). However, even if a person has fully rejected the gospel, God can later soften their heart and they can turn, repent, and accept it later, a Saul or Tarsus did. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.23 for more info.


5. In Heb 2:6, since Jesus is the "firstborn" of God, is Jesus is a created being? We are not supposed to worship created beings as Rom 1:25 says.

A: The father/son relationship is meaningful to our understanding of the term "firstborn". Two truths to understand in the answer.

1. Consider this analogy. Do people "beget" children, or do they buy them created at a store? The Only-Begotten Son's divine nature is no more created by the Father than people "create" children.

2. The Son's humanity was created by God, and we call Him firstborn as both first in rank and first resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20). It is wrong to use the term firstborn to deny the first truth: Jesus is the firstborn in honor, but He is also the "Only-Begotten" (John 3:16).

Now the second point being true does not prove the first point false. Jesus existed prior to all created beings, as 1 John 1 shows.


6. In Heb 2:6-9, does this passage from Ps 8 refer to people, believers or Jesus?

A: It primarily refers to the "son of man", that is to Jesus. However, believers will reign with Christ, so it secondarily refers to believers, too.


7. In Heb 2:9, how was Jesus lower than the angels?

A: This might have seemed strange to the angels too. We have to look at this as at first, then, and now.

Originally After creating all things in Hebrews 1:2, Jesus had glory with the Father in heaven according to John 17:5.

At the Incarnation Philippians 2:5-8 tells us what great things Jesus did before coming to earth. Jesus emptied Himself and became less powerful than the angels here on earth. Hebrews 4:15 and 5:7-8 give a little more detail on what Jesus went through while on earth.

Now Jesus is now much greater than the angels as Hebrews 1:4-8 and 2:7 show. John 17:5, Philippians 2:9-11, and Revelation 5:11-14 tell what happened after Jesus ascended to Heaven.
Who would give up everything that Jesus gave up, having only trust and faith that He would get it back? Only someone who thought that the people he was sacrificing for were worth it. I guess you can say Jesus had to be God, because nobody would have done that for us, unless they had a God-sized heart!


8. In Heb 2:9, since Jesus tasted death for everyone, why are all not saved? Is payment for some people made twice, once by them and once by Jesus?

A: Calvinists such as John Owen have asked this. Own and concluded, that since

1. Christ's sacrifice is complete payment for all sins, including unbelief [for those to whom payment is applied].

2. All will not be saved; some will not go to Heaven.

3. Therefore, Christ's sacrifice was not for all [God did not provide a way for the non-elect to have their sins forgiven and go to heaven.]

[My comment on this view is: born hopeless sinners with no way out, ultimately it was not their fault they went to Hell, this lays the responsibility solely at the feet of their Creator.]

It is interesting that some who ask this question have no problem with "twice guilt", saying mankind bears the guilt for Adam's sin as well as Adam. Anyway, Owen's question is still a fair one to ask. All should agree that

1. God demands only one payment be made

2. But that payment has to be made

Jesus provided payment for all, but He did not force payment for all, so all did not get the payment applied. In other words, if a pauper owes a million-dollar debt, and millionaire graciously give him a suitcase filled with a million dollars, and the pauper burned the suitcase, the pauper is still fully liable for the debt, even though the millionaire paid for it. Payment was provided, but no payment was applied. So I would answer Owen's trilemma this way.

1. Christ's sacrifice is complete payment for all sins, including unbelief [for those to whom payment is applied].

2. All will not be saved; some will not go to Heaven.

3. Therefore, Christ's sacrifice was not applied to all [i.e. God did not force Christ's sacrifice to be payment on those rejecting it.]

4. Ultimately it was their fault, not God's, for their catastrophe of Christ's payment not applying to them.

In addition to this informal analogy, here is the actual, authoritative scriptural teaching.

Hebrews 4:2 "For we also have and the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." (NIV) It does not say because Jesus did not die for them, but because they did not combine it with faith.

1 John 2:2 "and he [Jesus Christ] himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world." (NET)

1 Timothy 2:4-7 "since he[ God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For thee is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God's purpose at his appointed time." (NET)


9. In Heb 2:10; 12:2; what is unusual about the phrase captain/author of our faith?

A: The word for captain/author, archegos in Greek, is exceptionally hard to translate in English. It sort of means "captain" (KJV, NKJV), "author" (like the NIV), or "pioneer" (RSV, NRV), but they are not really forceful enough for what the word really means. The meaning simultaneously includes "originator", "founder", "pioneer", "leader". The word includes both the concepts of "essential initiator", and "heroic leader". One might also think of Jesus as the "trailblazer" or "pathfinder", except that is not correct; Jesus did not merely find the way, rather He is the Way, and the only Way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.784 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.27 for more info.


10. In Heb 2:10,18, how could Jesus really suffer, since He is God?

A: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. But Jesus was not just a semi-man, but 100% man, and able to suffer just like a man because Jesus was as human as us. However, Jesus is also as much God as God the Father. The exact details of how these two aspects of Jesus relate to each other have been left as a mystery. But we can know some things within the bounds of what the Bible teaches.

Jesus on earth was one Person, with one will. He was not two people or two wills, within one body. There was a serious error called Nestorianism that taught that Christ had two wills. It is debatable just how far off Nestorius was, but Nestorians after him took things farther and also followed Pelagianism. Many Nestorians evangelized China. Eventually they were banned from the Chinese Empire and many went north and converted a Mongol tribe. Later that Mongol tribe was wiped out by the other Mongols. There were many Nestorians in Central Asia, but many of them were wiped out by the Muslim Tamerlane and other bloodthirsty conquerors.

Jesus' divine nature did not make His human nature inconsequential. His sufferings were real, not just appearances. A serious error, called Monophysitism, teaches that Christ's human and divine natures are together sort of like putting a teaspoon of tea into the ocean. Monophysites today are called Copts.


11. In Heb 2:10, since Jesus was already perfect, how could Jesus be perfected in suffering?

A: Jesus was not imperfect before this time. The Greek word for perfected, teleiusai, from teleo, means to complete, accomplish, or consummate. Jesus had a mission to accomplish, which He did. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.677-678, When Critics Ask p.511, and the New International Bible Commentary p.1509 for more info.


12. In Heb 2:11, what are four ways people are sanctified or in the process of being made holy?

A: Pre-conversion sanctification, positional sanctification, practical sanctification, and perfect/ultimate sanctification. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2163 for more info.


13. In Heb 2:11-14,17, if we are brothers and one with Jesus, will we have the same nature Jesus has?

A: We have the same human nature Jesus has, and we will have the same sinless human nature in Heaven. However, we do not and will never have Jesus' deity. 2 Peter 1:4 says we will participate in the divine nature, but this refers to what Christ has given us, not what we intrinsically have.




 

Hebrews 2:13-18 ' How Jesus is Greater than Us ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 2:13, how did Jesus put His trust in the Father, and how should we?

A: On earth Jesus temporarily humbled himself and gave up some of His glory, as John 17:5 shows. Jesus trusted the Father's way, even when he knew it would lead Him to death. In John 17:5 Jesus trusted that the Father would restore the glory He had before.


2. In Heb 2:14 does the devil hold the power of death, or does God hold all power in Eph 1:11-22?

A: Before this question can be answered, we must first understand two things.

God's Sovereignty

All God decrees happens and nothing happens except what God permits.

1. Everything God decrees happens. Isaiah 14:24,27; 43:13; 55:11; John10: 29; Hebrews 6:17; Matthew 28:18. Some examples are Daniel 9:26; 11:27,35,36; 12:1

2. God knows and sees all. 1 John 3:20; Psalm 139; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; Hebrews 4:13; Isaiah 46:10

3. God does as He pleases. Matthew 20:15; Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Romans 9:20; Daniel 4:35

4. Nothing is too hard for God. Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26

5. God rules over all. Psalm 103:19 [rules, not robotically controls]

6. Nothing happens beyond what God allows, as Job 1:12; 2:6; James 4:15 shows.

7. Every decision of "the lot" is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33

8. All things work together for God's good will. -Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 16:4

9. None can successfully thwart God's decrees, as Isaiah 43:13; Romans 11:29 shows.

10. Many succeed in resisting God's commanded/desired will. Acts 7:39,51; 4:11; 13:46; 14:2; 2 Cor 6:1

11. Men resist, but none are ultimately successful. - just ask Jonah.

God can delegate Sovereignty

God has the freedom to choose to delegate a small part of His sovereignty, for a time and within limits, to others. God was not forced to make robots.

1. Some people think nothing happens except what God expressly decrees. - No verses actually say this.

2. Some things "did not enter God's mind" - Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35

3. Believers can do some good things on their own initiative. 2 Corinthians 8:17

4. Some things make God very angry. Jeremiah 5:29; 8:19; 12:8; Ezekiel 8:6

5. Some break God's heart. Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-9; Jeremiah 4:19-22; 9:1

See When Critics Ask p.511 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.28-29 for more info.

The devil has the power in demanding death of sinful people (that's all of us) according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2163. But ultimately that changed a Christ now has the keys of death and Hades in Revelation 1:18.


3. In Heb 2:16-17, could Jesus have yielded to temptation and sinned?

A: Like Adam and Eve, Jesus was not born with a sinful nature. Yet Jesus, like Adam and Even, had all the capability to sin if Jesus wanted to do so.

The attack of temptation was real, but Jesus would not have succumbed. Satan attacking Jesus was sort of like the news story some years ago of a mentally ill Japanese martial arts expert slipping into a zoo to attack a 800 pound polar bear. He was rescued by the zookeepers tranquilizing the bear. From his hospital bed, he wanted the world to know that "all his blows had no effect". He was in a desperate struggle with the polar bear, but the polar bear was not in a desperate struggle with him. Likewise, Satan's blows were unsuccessful on Jesus.

Jesus was tempted from without, but not tempted from within, according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2164.

See also the discussion on Matthew 4:1-11, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.418-419 Now That's a Good Question p.45-46, and When Critics Ask p.512 for complementary answers.


4. In Heb 2:16-18 and Heb 4:15, regardless of whether Jesus could have sinned, how could He be tempted? James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted with evil.

A: Six points to consider in the answer.

1. One of God's divine attributes is that God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13).

2. Jesus is God (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:9,11).

3. But Jesus also had a human nature. (Hebrews 2:14-17)

3. Jesus emptied Himself of many divine attributes to come to earth (Philippians 2:5-7; John 17:6).

4. The Bible does not tell us exactly how Jesus emptied himself, only that He did.

5. As one can test 100% pure water for its impurities, even though the test will find nothing, Satan could test Christ for sin.

See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.678-680 and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.32-33 for more info.


5. In Heb 2:17, since Jesus was like us in every way, then how could Jesus be God?

A: Jesus temporarily emptied Himself of many of His divine characteristics in Philippians 2:6-7 and John 17:5. The writer of Hebrews was obviously not communicating that Jesus could not be anything more than a man, or he would not have showed that Jesus was God in Hebrews 1:8-9 and Hebrews 3:1-6. See also the discussion on Philippians 2:6-9 and Now That's a Good Question p.40-42 for more info.


6. In Heb 2:17-18, why did Jesus have to be fully human? Some might think that since Jesus was also God, He was beyond human frailties.

A: There are two complementary reasons: first, to live, understand, and experience what it is like to be a man (Hebrews 2:18), and second, to be a man to be a sacrifice for all men (Hebrews 2:17).

Hebrews 2:17 says Jesus had to be human, like his brothers in every way, to be our high priest. Hebrews 2:17 says it was not angels he helped, but people.

Hebrews 2:18: You might know people who have problems relating to God because "He does not understand what it is like to be human." But in his humanity, Jesus experienced a full range of feelings that you and I do. There are many examples in the gospels that show us that Jesus experience human emotions. He was compassionate towards people, He felt anger towards those who were hard of heart (Mark 3:5) and indignation (Mark 10:14), and He was amazed and sighed over unbelief (Mark 6:6; 8:12), but He also loved the young man (Mark 10:21). As the hour of His arrest approached, Jesus felt anxious and gloomy (Matthew 26:37). When He came to the tomb of Lazarus, He wept over his beloved friend (John 11:35).

As much as Jesus spent time ministering to the multitudes, He also felt the need for privacy (Mark 6:31; 7:17; 7:24 and 9:30). Likewise after His solitary fast in the wilderness, He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), and He understood how the crowds were hungry whom He fed. Jesus was faced with temptations: the devil offered Him all the kingdoms of the world and taunted Jesus to prove His divinity by throwing Himself off the wing of the Temple. Even the devil believed that Jesus could be tempted because of His humanity (and the devil had known Christ in His pre-incarnate existence before the fall). And while Jesus was hanging on the cross (almost beaten and whipped to death), He was tempted again to "come down" to save Himself.

If it were not for God living among us as a full human being, we might say that God does not understand what it is like to be a man. But Jesus experienced the totality of humanity and so He can relate to our needs and feelings ' He knows on the most personal level what it is to be human.

(contributed by Mark Dumdei)

Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) said similar. "But if He had not assumed a human body, He would not have been able to practice what He taught, - that is, not to be angry, not to desire riches, not to be inflamed with lust, not to fear pain, to despise death. These things are plainly virtues, but they cannot be done without flesh. Therefore He assumed a body on this account, that, since He taught that the desires of the flesh must be overcome, He might in person first practice it, that no one might allege the frailty of the flesh as an excuse." Epitome to the Divine Institutes ch.50 p.242.

In summary, Jesus had to be 100% human to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, but He was also 100% God to be sinless and save us. Our mediator had to be fully God and fully man.


7. In Heb 2:17, how could Jesus be fully human, since He was not born of a human father?

A: John of Damascus answered this (704-736 A.D.). He said that Adam, Eve, and Seth had three different modes of coming into existence, yet all were fully human. So Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary likewise does not disqualify Him from being fully human either. See the Exposition of the Orthodox Faith book 1 ch.8 p.8 by John of Damascus for more info.


8. In Heb 2:17, is Jesus being both God and human a temporary state or will it last forever?

A: Jesus being man as well as God will last forever, because Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever." When Jesus returns, He will still be called "the Son of Man" in Matthew 26:64. Marcellus of Ancyra c.336-340 A.D. thought that the Trinity was temporary, contrary to Hebrews 13:8. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.103-104 for more info.


9. In Heb 2:18, was Jesus really God, since Jms 1:13 says God cannot be tempted?

A: If Jesus was only God, then He would be "un-temptable", also called impeccable by theologians. All Christians agree that the devil tried to tempt Christ, and that Christ never sinned, but some theologians like Charles Hodge said that it was possible that Christ could have sinned, otherwise the temptations would not have been real. Other theologians like William Shedd say that the temptations were real, but it was still impossible for Christ to sin. John Walvoord says that Shedd is correct, because just like a rowboat can genuinely attacked a battleship, the battleship is in no danger of sinking due to the rowboat. See https://bible.org/seriespage/7-impeccability-christ for more info.


10. In Heb 2, what is the primary point?

A: It is not just the greatness of Jesus, but rather the great distance He went for us. In Hebrews 1 Jesus was superior as the Son of God, and in Hebrews 2 Jesus is superior as the Son of Man. For a geographical analogy, it is not just that Jesus is higher than the Himalayas. Rather He metaphorically was higher than the Himalayas, travelled all the way down to the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for us, in order to bring us up to the Himalayas with Him.

Of course behind this is the purpose of the entire book, which is given in Hebrews 2:1f: don't drift away.

See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2161 for more info.

 

Hebrews 3 ' How Jesus is Greater than Moses ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 3:2,5,6 both Jesus and Moses were men who were faithful; faithfulness is one of the nine parts of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22b. But what exactly is faithfulness?

A: It is one thing to end up doing what you were commanded, entrusted, or knew that you were supposed to do. But can you be relied upon to do what you were tasked to do? Can you be counted on, even difficulties, suffering, or persecution come your way? That is faithfulness.


2. Does Heb 3:3-4 say that Jesus is God?

A: -Definitely, since God built the house, and Jesus is the builder.


3. Do Heb 3:6, Heb 3:14, and Ezek 3:17-21 show genuine believers can lose their salvation?

A: Mature godly Christians disagree on this.

Christians who say people cannot lose their salvation would say that those who believed for a while and fell away never "shared in Christ", as evidenced that they "did not hold on to their courage".

Christians who say people can lose their salvation would have to say they used to share in Christ but no longer do so, because of the reason that they "did not hold on to their courage."

Regardless, all Christians should be able to agree that God's knowledge of a person's destiny, before that person was even born, does not change. Therefore, one of the elect can never become one of the reprobate (unelect), since God's knowledge is perfect. All should also agree that there are some who can appear saved, but they turn away from God and never return.

See also the discussion on Hebrews 6:4-12 and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.394-395 for more info.


4. In Heb 3:7-4:7, how does the testing in the desert relate to the readers of Hebrews?

A: After the twelve spies returned from Canaan, the Israelites in the wilderness had a point of decision in whether or not to trust in God. That generation failed, and God said that no one from that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, would be permitted to enter the Promised Land.

Similarly, in this second warning in Hebrews, the readers have a similar decision to make. Despite any hardship or persecution, we have a point of decision of whether to go forward with God or not.


5. In Heb 3:7-11 how does this second warning in Hebrews differ from the first warning in Heb 2:1-3? Do people need two kinds of warnings today?

A: These are not fake warning, but passages we need to take seriously. Hebrews 2:13 warns against unintentionally drifting away and ignoring God. This is against hardening and intentionally departing from God. Often the first can lead the second.


6. In Heb 3:10, how could all in that generation not know God's ways and die in sin?

A: Taking the Bible literally does not mean we cannot also see that God sometimes speaks in generalities. God was speaking of that generation of Israelites in general. But scripture makes is clear that all in that generation of people would die in the desert except for Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and people in the younger generation.


7. In Heb 3:12, can people depart from the Living God?

A: Sure. 1 John 2:19 mentions those who went out from us because they never were really a part of us. Genuine believers, such as David and Solomon, can fall away in sin for a period of time and then return.

As to whether genuine Christians can permanently fall away, lose their salvation, and go to Hell, see the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 and Hebrews 6:4-10 for more info.


8. In Heb 3:13, what are the different ways that sin hardens?

A: Sin and people can harden themselves in a vicious circle. Sin hardens in Hebrews 3:13, but in Hebrews 3:8,15 people harden themselves. Sin can harden in at least four ways.

1) When one often repeats the same sin, that sin becomes "familiar" and comfortable, when it should be distasteful and alien to the Christian.

2) It can cool your heart towards God. You can lose your awe of God, and take God's blessings for granted. Persistent sin can eventually shake your faith.

3) Sin can discourage people and tempt them to give up.

4) It can hurt and harden others to see you are a believer, yet you tolerate the sin in yourself, so they think it might not be so bad for them to be tolerant of sin. Sin does not seem so serious if they see you do it.

5) It can turn people away from Christ, thinking that if that is what Christians do, they don't want to be a part of that.


9. In Heb 3:19, what single thing kept the Israelites of Moses' generation from enjoying the promised Land? How does that keep not only unbelievers, but also some believers, out of God's blessings today?

A: It is curious that Hebrews 3:19 does not say disobedience, but rather unbelief. While their disobedience was serious, the root cause was their choosing not to trust and believe in God and His good provision for them. From God's point of view they were unbelieving and obedient, and thus they were not useful.


10. In Heb 3:3-6, so exactly why is Jesus greater than Moses?

A: First the similarities. Both were men who were faithful according to Hebrews 3:2. Both taught the same God: Jesus said, "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me" (John 5:46). As for differences, Moses did not do miracles himself; God did miracles through Moses. Jesus did His own miracles. There were no prophecies about Moses, like there were for Jesus. Of course, the greatest different is that Jesus is God and Moses is not. Jesus has greater honor because Jesus is greater than humanity as the builder of the house is greater than the house itself.


11. In Heb 3:3-6, a question to ask Jewish friends is: "do you think the Messiah will be greater than Moses?" How would you explain why?

A: No prophecies were made about Moses, like they were made about the Messiah. Moses did a great work leading the people out of Egypt, yet almost all of them died in the desert and did not make it to the Promised Land. The law and sacrifices came through Moses, yet it did not permanently cleanse the worshippers as they had to sacrifice all over again every year. The Messiah came to justify many according to Isaiah 53:11b. Offerings came through Moses, but the Messiah's life was a guilt offering according to Isaiah 53:10.


 

Hebrews 4 ' Entering God's Rest ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 4:1-2, what exactly does the warning say?

A: While some translations say "let us be careful that", a more literal rendering of the Greek word phobothumen is "let us fear, that". See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.39 for more info.


2. In Heb 4:2, should this be translated "they did not combine it with faith" or "not having been mixed with faith"?

A: There is a variation in the Greek texts here, and there are three main ways to translate it. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.40 says it ultimately boils down to two ways, and it hinges on whether the Greek word "combines/unites" is in singular form or plural form. If it is singular, then it the shortcoming was the hearing not being combined with faith. If it was plural, then the problem was not being combined with both of them. Different Greek manuscripts have it differently.

Singular a) "they did not combine it with faith" NIV. Harclean Syriac. In other words, the hearers failed to unit the message with faith.

Singular b) "[it] not having been mixed with faith" KJV, NKJV, NASB, and Wuest. Sinaiticus, John Chrysostom, Wolfenbuttel (6th century), Georgian. In other words the message and faith failed to be united due to an unspecified cause.

Accusative Plural) "for they did not join in with those who heard it in faith." (NET). Similarly Williams Translation has "because they were not by faith made one(a) with those who heeded it." Footnote (a) says, "Fol. WH-mixed by faith, etc." p13? (question mark means it appears this way but is not certain), p46, (Alexandrinus), Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Ethiopic, Byzantine, Armenian, Palestinian Syriac (6th century). In other word's they did not unite with God's people, who heard the message in faith. See also the NET Bible 1 1/2 page footnote on faith on Hebrews 4:2.


3. In Heb 4:3a,8-11, how are believers today in God's Sabbath rest?

A: For those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Jesus gives us rest from trying to work our way to Heaven. We enter that rest right now on earth, but we will also have ultimate rest in heaven.


4. In Heb 4:3b,5-6, why did some never enter God's rest, even if they observed the Sabbath?

A: They observed the Sabbath, but they did not believe in following God and trusting that He would provide for them. If we do the right things, but not out of faith, we are not pleasing God either, as Hebrews 11:6 indicates.


5. In Heb 4:9, what is unusual about this word sabbatismos "Sabbath-rest"?

A: This is a single Greek word, and it is not in any Greek literature up until the Book of Hebrews. It is very probable the author coined this word himself. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.42 for more info.


6. In Heb 4:10-11, how are we to rest from our work, yet work to enter God's rest?

A: We are to rest from our own work, and make every effort (i.e. work hard) to enter into God's rest and do His work. With all of the activities, plans, and ambitions we might have, we do not have enough time, resources and energy to do everything we want for our own work as well as God's work. Something has to be given up. Maybe out plans really aren't any good or will never succeed. We should give them up and do God's plans. Maybe are plans are well-thought out, and will succeed and give us benefit. We should give up our plans for God anyway. When we decide to do God's work we might be giving up a better position, more success, or more money, but we will have the joy of serving God. When we do God's plans, we still wants us to work, provide for our family, and sometimes after we lay our plans on the altar and give them to God, He gives them back to us to implement.


7. In Heb 4:12, what is a soul vs. a spirit?

A: Christians disagree on their emphasis on the make-up of human nature. Here are three different theories of emphasis:

Tripartite: People have a body, soul, and spirit. The body has flesh, chemicals, and electric signals. The soul has intelligence, emotions, and will. The spirit has conscience and other aspects.

Bipartite: People have a material part and a non-material part. The soul and spirit are different, but they are intertwined, much as the bone marrow is intertwined in a bone lattice at the end of our arm and leg bones. Now That's a Good Question p.237-240 discusses both views and advocates the bipartite view.

Integrated: While there are three things: body, soul, and spirit, the interactions between the three are so great, that the interactive whole is more important than the three distinct parts.


8. In Heb 4:13b, should it be "with whom we have to do (KJV), or "with whom we have to give account" (NIV)?

A: In general they mean the same thing, and in general we understand the Greek phrase. However, the precise answer to this question is that we are not sure, because the Greek word here logos here can have different meanings and there is no verb in the phrase. Literally it would be "With whom we have to do", which is supported by 1 King 2:14 and 2 Kings 9:5 in the Septuagint. However, the word logos is also used in accounting, so the second meaning might be preferred. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.45 for more info.


9. In Heb 4:15, what are other verses that show that Jesus was sinless?

A: Verses that show Jesus was sinless are:

John 8:46 "Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don't you believe me?"

2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us,'"

Hebrews 4:15 "'but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin."

1 Peter 1:19 "'like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb,'"

1 Peter 2:22 says that Jesus committed no sin.

1 John 3:5 says that Jesus had no sin.

(Quotes are from the NET Bible.)

 

Hebrews 5 ' Jesus our High Priest ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 5:1-10, what is unusual about this passage?

A: Just as modern writing uses various literary techniques, chiasm is an old literary technique often used in ancient writings, including the Latin writings of the Roman Cicero and in many places in the Old Testament. In a chiasm, the passage symmetrically repeats itself. Here is the pattern in Hebrews 5:1-10. Notice that Hebrews 5:2 and Hebrews 5:9 are not the same but rather contrasts.

Heb 5:1 Every high priest selected among men to represent people to God. and offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

- Heb 5:2 Deals with ignorant and wanderers because he himself is subject to weakness

- - Heb 5:3 Offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the people

- - - Heb 5:4 Not take honor upon himself, must be called by God, as Aaron was.

- - - Heb 5:5-6 So Christ also did not the glory upon Himself, but God said He was Jesus' Father. A priest after the order of Melchizedek

- - Heb 5:7-8 On earth offered prayers and petitions ' Though a son learned obedience from what he suffered

- Heb 5:9 Once made perfect became source of salvation

Heb 5:10 Jesus selected by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek


2. In Heb 5:2, what does "deal gently with" mean?

A: This Greek word, metriopathein, does not mean apathy (that it is acceptable or OK) or anger, but taking a third course between the two. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.47 for more info.


3. In Heb 5:5 and Ac 13:33, how does Jesus' First Coming relate to Ps 2:7 "today I have begotten thee"?

A: While Jesus was begotten of the Father before time began, that is not what is referred to here. Jesus was begotten by God the Father in a non-sexual but physical way when Jesus came to earth.

No verse in the Bible says Jesus was the son of God in any other way at any later time. Romans 1:4 only adds that Jesus was "declared" to be the Son of God with power, by His resurrection from the dead. See Mormons Answered Verse by Verse p.52-53 for more info.


4. In Heb 5:6, what should the translation of "order of Melchizedek be?

A: "Order" is close, but The Expositor' Bible Commentary vol.12 p.49 says that the translation "order of Melchizedek" is not completely correct, because there was not "order" or line of Melchizedek. The phrase "kind of Melchizedek" sort of grasps the meaning, but that unfortunately does not exactly convey the formality of that is should, like the word "order" does. Thus the exact meaning is between these two English words.


5. Does Heb 5:7 teach Jesus had flesh only before His resurrection as JW's and the Rev. Moon's Unification Church teach?

A: No, otherwise Thomas would view Jesus as a deceiver when Jesus shows Thomas His flesh so that Thomas would believe. See the discussion on 1 Peter 3:18 for the answer.


6. In Heb 5:7 and Mt 26:39, did Christ fear His death, or was he resolutely determined to go to the cross in Lk 9:51?

A: Jesus was determined to accomplish His purpose on the cross, but Jesus asked that if possible, this cup be taken from Him. Jesus sweat drops of blood, so much was His anguish about what He knew was about to happen. It never says Jesus was timid or a coward, though. See When Critics Ask p.513 for more info.


7. In Heb 5:7, if God the Father heard Jesus' prayers, how come the "cup" of dying on the cross in Mk 14:36 was not taken from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane?

A: First are three things that are not the answer and then the answer.

(not the answer) Delivered from the fear of death: The Greek word for "submission", eulabeia, can also mean reverent fear. However, one has to change the meaning of the words to transform "one who could save him from death because of his reverent submission/reverent fear" to "one who could save him from the fear of death".

(close but not the answer) God said no: The Greek word for hear, eisakoustheis, does not just mean God heard the sound, but rather that God answered the prayer. Of course God answers some of our prayers with a resounding "no", but there is a better answer here.

(not the answer) that Jesus should not die in Gethsemane. There is no mention of Jesus praying where He should not die in Hebrews, the gospels, or any other writings.

The answer: Matthew 26:39; 26:42; Mark 14:36; and Luke 22:42 all give not one but two parts to Jesus' prayer. The first part was that the Father would let this cup pass from Jesus. The second part, was, "Yet not as I will, but as you will." God answered Jesus prayer with a "yes" because the second part overruled the first part.

There is an important lesson for us to learn here. When we want something, and we know it might not be in God's will, it is good to still pray to God what is on our heart. But we should pray that God's will be accomplished rather than our own.

Of course God did deliver Jesus from death by Jesus' resurrection, but Jesus also knew that God was perfectly capable of delivering Jesus from dying. If Jesus had asked, the father could have sent twelve legions of angels in Matthew 26:53. Yet how would we have a ransom for our sins if Jesus did not die on the cross. I am glad Jesus prayed the last part of that prayer too.


8. In Heb 5:8 and Php 2:7-8, since Jesus was obedient to God, how could Jesus be God?

A: Jesus is God because there are different senses of the word "God". On earth, Jesus had the role of being subject to and obedient to the Father. In the Trinity the three are equal in nature, but differ in role and rank.

The church writer Ambrose of Milan in 378 A.D. pointed this out in Of the Christian Faith book 2 chapter 10 verse 84,88 p.234-235. On earth, Jesus as a child was subject to Mary and Joseph. Does that mean Jesus was less than Mary and Joseph? -Of course not.


9. In Heb 5:8, can an all-knowing God learn? If not, how could Jesus learn obedience?

A: Jesus went though things on earth that He could not experience in Heaven. Also, Jesus temporarily gave up being all-knowing when He came to earth. Jesus chose to empty Himself of many of His divine qualities (Philippians 2:5-7, John 17:5). He did not know everything on earth, such as the day of His return (Matthew 24:26). God already knew in theory everything about obedience and suffering. But God came to earth, as Jesus Christ, and in accomplishing His mission He learned the experiences of obedience in the face of suffering. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.680-681 for more info.

An interesting note is that translations of Hebrews 5:8 usually say, "though he was the son", in order to be grammatically correct in English. While one could say the same in the New Testament Greek (koine Greek) language, that is not what Hebrews 5:8 says. It says, "though he was son", which emphasizes even more that Jesus was not just one of many sons, but that Jesus was "son". See Wuest's Expanded Translation p.xii-xiii for more info.


10. Should Heb 5:11 in an outline go with Heb 5:1-10 or Heb 5:12-14?

A: While Christian commentators do not all agree, most say it should go with the section after.

It should go with the section after, Heb 5:12-14, as indicated in the NIV, NET Bible, NRSV, Holman Christian Standard, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.792, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1136, the New International Bible Commentary p.1514-1515, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2172 "at this point the author must digress."

It should go with the section before, Heb 5:1-10, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.51 and Wuest's Expanded Translation.

The KJV, NKJV, and uNASB show every verse on a separate line and thus give no indication.


11. In Heb 5:12-13, is it OK to have spiritual milk?

A: Spiritual milk means the basic truth of the Gospel. Spiritual milk is a good thing Christians should crave according to 1 Peter 2:2. However, just as a young child should grow to be able to eat meat, so should we.

 

Hebrews 6 ' If You Don't Grow, You're Dead ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 6:1, why leave the elementary things and go on to mature things, when they were slow to learn the elementary things in Heb 5:11-14?

A: There is a time to repeat the elementary things, since the reader was not able to understand them yet. However, here is the time to give them a taste of more mature things, showing them that there was more than just the things they were slow to learn. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.793for more info.


2. In Heb 6:1-3, what are the elementary things about Christ vs. the mature things?

A: Elementary things include repentance, faith in God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment according to Hebrews 6:1-3. But in general primary things, essential for salvation, are elementary things. Another view is that they are the Old Testament things as the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2172-2173 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1136 teach.

Mature things include the rest of the chapter, which is those who fall away and God's promises. Note that the term in Hebrews 6:1 literally means "dead works" and is the exact phrase used in Hebrews 9:14 about works of the law.

Many doctrines have both a primary part and a mature part. For example, there being only One God is primary thing, and the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being God is also a primary thing. An understanding of what the Bible says about the Trinity would be a more mature thing.


3. In Heb 6:4-8, what should be our feelings as we read this?

A: We should share the sorrow of God and others over the lost. Jesus was very sorry over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39. Paul served God with "tears" in Acts 20:19. Paul even wished he were cut off for his people if it meant their salvation in Romans 9:1-3. The Jews, like the people mentions in Hebrews 6:4-8 were oh so close, and yet so far.

And yet we also have a feeling of resignation. When someone perishes in Hell, they can only say, "I was their own fault". God did not force anyone to choose Hell; Rather, God judicially sent Hell-bound people where they deserved to go, either explicitly because of the choice they made, or implicitly because of the choice they refused to make.


4. What does Heb 6:4-12 teach about salvation?

A: There are two distinct issues in Hebrews 6.

1) How can a living person reach a state where repentance and salvation are no longer possible for them?

2) Can a genuine Christian lose their salvation?

1) Losing Further Opportunities:

Yes, a person can get to a point beyond which further repentance is not possible for that person. What makes Hebrews 6:6 especially scary is that it says people who fall away in the manner the writer talks about can never be brought back. Some interpreters claim this is a hypothetical situation that would never occur. However, there is no indication that God wanted us to ignore this warning and not the other warnings in the Bible. Rather, Hebrews 6:6 and Matthew 12:31-32 (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) are both permanent. In Matthew 12:31-32 the Jews, who were never Christians, saw enough and heard enough to know it was true. But not only did they decide not to accept Christ's words on that day, but they ascribed His actions to the devil.

Now Christians still sin (1 John 2:1). In fact if we think we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). So then what are the verses in the previous paragraph referring to?

The main two purposes of the Book of Hebrews are to show Jews how Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and to encourage Jewish background believers to not turn back to Judaism but continue in the faith. So these passages do NOT refer to someone who sins, but to someone who turns their back on Christ and returns to their false hope, be it Judaism, or generalizing, to some other religion. 1 John 2:18-19 says that even in those times there were people who "appeared" to be saved church-goers, but then they left, presumably permanently. John says that they went out because they never were a part of us. If someone walks an aisle, or says some words, but they do not persevere in their faith, and then later turns their back on Christianity, they does not mean they lost their salvation; if they never return that means they never were saved in the first place.
Here are three cases I know personally that I think it does NOT refer to.

1. One college Christian girl I knew, for a period of months told God she wanted nothing to do with him and asked the Holy Spirit to get out of her life. She still believed, intellectually, but she was willfully disobedient. Later she repented, and returned to the faith. She said that that Hebrews 6:6 was especially scary for her. However, she did repent though. Perhaps God graciously was convicting her by bringing to mind that verse, and almost asking "Is that your final answer". A person who has run afoul of Hebrews 6:6 will not ever repent, and will not want to ever repent.

2. There was a pastor of a small church I knew who said that he was a pastor seven years before he was truly saved. After he was saved, he continued on being a pastor. This is not a case of falling away, but of someone who was never saved in the first place.

3. When I was a [Christian] teenager mowing a lawn, this Christian lady came out and we started talking. She said that her son had moved away to California to be with his live-in girlfriend. But she was sure that he was still saved though, because he had made a confession of faith in the church. I do not think she had any basis for her confidence. Paul the apostle tells us to examine ourselves and see if we are really in the faith in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Maybe he was never saved, but could be saved in the future. Maybe he knew so much about salvation and turned his back on it, and Hebrews 6:6 applies to him. Maybe he was genuinely saved before, he fell away into sin, but since he is genuinely saved he will return. We cannot say. Paul commanded the Corinthians to excommunicate an immoral brother in the church in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. However, 2 Cor 5:5 shows that Paul still had hope that after this discipline, the brother might be saved. We think that 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 refers to the same brother, and that he did return.

4. Personally I know of two Christians, one of whom left the faith and became a Muslim, and the other left and became a Mormon. Both of them later left and returned to Christianity.

Conclusion on this: We have to make a distinction between a believer who has drifted away into gross sin, and someone who has denied the faith and turned to something else. But whether their denying the faith is permanent, they might get saved in the future, or they are a saved person who is fallen and will return, we have to leave in God's hands to judge.

What should be our attitude towards someone else who has drifted away? It should NOT be complacency saying "don't worry, they are saved anyway." It also should not be writing them off, as they will never come back. Jude 23 says, "save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." (uNASB). Now the end of Jude 23 implies these people were doing some pretty gross things, but they could still be saved.

James 5:19-20 says, "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (uNASB)
2) Can a genuine Christian lose their salvation

This can be thought of as three sub-issues:

a) Can someone whom God knows [with certainty] is one of the elect going to heaven, catch by surprise the all-knowing God and not go to heaven?

b) Can a person have confidence that they are saved, and be sadly, and permanently, wrong?

c) Can a person have a valid confidence that they are going to Heaven, and yet change and not make it to Heaven?

The answer to the first question, when it is phrased that way, is obvious: no.

The answer to the second question is yes, because Matthew 7:21-23 shows us.

The answer to the third question is no, but it is not because they have the strength to keep in the faith, but because God has the strength to seal and preserve us in the faith, as Ephesians 1:13-14 shows. However, we must balance the doctrine of once-saved-always-saved with the doctrine that true saints will persevere in the faith. We DO have the responsibility to examine yourselves, as well as our leaders, and see that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5-7).

By the way, a written debate on person on once-saved-always-saved vs. a person can lose their salvation every time they sin is at

http://www.biblequery.org/Doctrine.LoseSalvationOrNot/LoseSalvationOrNot.html.


5. In Heb 6:4-12, can people lose their salvation?

A: Genuine Christians disagree on this issue, but all should be able to agree on the following points.

1. God is never surprised. Before anyone was born, God knew for certain everyone who would go to Heaven (Revelation 20:12,15; 17:8; Psalm 139:16).

2. Some people will be surprised at the judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).

3. We can have confidence in our salvation (1 John 5:13; Hebrews 4:16; 10:35; Acts 8:13,20-23).

4. Our rightful confidence should not turn into complacency. Christians can lose rewards in Heaven, and Philippians 2:12-13 shows that (after being saved) the outworking of our salvation should be with fear and trembling. Praise God that it is He that is working in us!

5. There is such as thing a counterfeit conversion (1 John 2:19; Jeremiah 17:10; James 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; 2 Peter 2:17-22).

6. We can know if our salvation is genuine by examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5-6), in other words, by comparing our doctrine and life with scripture.

7. We are given the responsibility to persevere (Hebrews 6:11; 10:36; James 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:3; 4:5).

8. The Holy Spirit has sealed genuine believers until the Day of Judgment. (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; Jude 24; 1 Timothy 1:14). The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).

See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.191-193, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.419-421, and Now That's a Good Question p.115-117 for complementary answers.


6. What does Heb 6:4-12 mean about not being able to repent to salvation anymore?

A: There are at least six views.

1. Believer's loss of salvation: Christians who teach that believers can lose their salvation would interpret this passage to mean that once salvation is lost, it can never be regained. While I have heard someone teach this means it is "difficult" to regain salvation, in Hebrews 6:4 the word "impossible" (adunaton in Greek) means impossible, weak, important, or unable. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.681-683 for more on this view.

2. A believer giving salvation back: David O'Brien in Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.307-310 says that a believer can never "misplace" their salvation, meaning no believer can sin so bad that that, unknown to them, their salvation is lost. Our staying saved is not maintained by works, just as our getting saved is not by works. However, a genuine believer could consciously choose to "give back" their salvation to God. Then, they would be like those who knew the truth, and crucified Jesus. They will be going to Hell. O'Brien interprets "impossible" to mean impossible for the person, but not impossible for God.

3. The unpardonable sin. Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin in Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:10-11. One writer of the New Geneva Study Bible p.1567 (The Unpardonable Sin article) believe that Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-29, and 1 John 5:16-17 also refer to the unpardonable sin.

4. Nonbeliever's loss of opportunity for salvation: There is no way to be saved apart from Jesus' death and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If a person rejects (without repentance) coming to God through Jesus (John 8:24) or blasphemes the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29), they will never go to Heaven. People can see and taste, but not swallow.

5. Hypothetical ad hominem: If salvation could be lost, then it could never be regained. But since salvation cannot be lost, these severe words are just an explanation, not a warning. R.C. Sproul in Now That's a Good Question p.592-594 takes this view, though he said he is not dogmatic about this. Curiously, the New Geneva Study Bible p.1941 mentions various views but not this one.

6. Christian's being disqualified for further service: A fallen-away Christian would not have the good witness to be of further service in this life, and of losing their glory in the millennium. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.794 takes this view.

See When Critics Ask p.514-515 for more info on the different views.


Or for Hebrews 6, you can't grow if you are dead.

In Hebrews 6:12, the word for "lazy", nothroi, is the same word translated "slow" in Hebrews 5:11.

In Heb 6:16, the phrase for oath here is quite interesting. It is eis bebaiosin, related to the Egyptian legal formula common in papyri. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.60 for more info.


7. In Heb 6:18, since God Almighty can do anything, how come He cannot lie?

A: Both Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 say that God does not lie, but Hebrews 6:18 says that God cannot lie. Three complementary answers, and all are true.

1. God can do any "thing", but a lie is not a thing. Since God created everything by His word (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6,9), and everything He says comes to pass (Isaiah 55:10-11), then whatever He says will be true.

2. There are no external constraints on God, but God can choose to observe internal constraints He Himself has set. God cannot not do anything that goes against His nature, such as lie, do evil, or deny Himself.

3. Finally, as Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.223 points out, "Almighty" means God can do anything He wants to. Since God does not want to lie, there is no issue here.

Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) also refers to the concept in this verse, that it is impossible for God to lie, in 1 Clement chapter 27 p.12.

Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) also taught the catechumens that God is Almighty, but He cannot die, be deceived, lie, or deny Himself. In fact, if He could do those things as God, He would not actually be Almighty. On the Creed ch.2 p.371

See the discussion on Jeremiah 32:17,27 for more info.


8. In Heb 6:18 does it being impossible for God to lie fly in the face of Jesus' comment in Mt 19:26 that, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." How can all things be possible for God, as Jesus asserts, if it is impossible for God to lie, as Hebrews claims?

A: Actually there are four impossibilities with God. God cannot:

Lie (Hebrews 6:18)

Be tempted by evil (James 1:13)

Disown/Deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)

Swear by anyone greater than Himself (Hebrews 6:13)

No "thing" is impossible with God. Lying and logical contradictions are not "things", and God does not do those.


9. In Heb 6:18, what are some of the consequences of believing that God tells lies?

A: One consequence is that people can fall away and join a cult, such as Rev. Moon's Unification Church. Here is what Rev. Moon says.

"If you tell a lie to make someone better, that is not sin... Even God tells lies very often." Master Speaks 3/16/1973 p.11.

Divine Principle p.515 "There are two reasons why Jesus foretold that the Lord would come on the clouds. First, it was to prevent the delusions of antichrists. If it had been clarified that Christ would come on earth in the flesh, the confusion caused by the delusions of many antichrists could not have been prevented by any means. ... But fortunately, this kind of confusion has been avoided because all the believers, knowing that the Christ would come on the clouds, have looked up into heaven."

Divine Principle p.515 "Second, it was to encourage those saints who were walking the difficult path of faith at that time."

However: It is a serious sin to call God a liar, based on 1 John 1:10; 5:10; and Titus 1:2. Hebrews 6:18 says God cannot lie, as well as Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29.

If it were OK to lie, would it be OK for Rev. Moon to lie about himself being the Messiah? What else would it be OK for Rev. Moon to lie to you about?


10. In Heb 6:19, what is the "anchor for the soul, and how is the anchor an anchor?

A: An anchor has a chain, anchored to a heavy metal weight or hook, the real part of the anchor. The chain does not help much without the heavy hook though. Likewise our anchor is our faith in Christ, and faith without the anchor would not be solid. Likewise if there is no chain, the ship drifts away and the anchor does not good. Without faith, people can drift away too.

 

Hebrews 7 ' Jesus Greater than Melchizedek ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 7:1-10, why is Jesus compared with Melchizedek in Gen 14:18-20?

A: One simple reason is that the Old Testament itself compares the Messiah with Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 shows the Messiah will be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. A mysterious reference in passing is Genesis 14:18-20. The significance is shown in a somewhat less mysterious fashion in Psalm 110:4, and only finally explained in Hebrews 7:1-10.

It is true that the author of Hebrews emphasizes details that were not main points in Genesis. For example, Abimelech's father was not mentioned either, but that does not make him a type of Christ. The author of Hebrews cannot prove the points in Hebrews 7:1-10 based on the authority of Genesis.

However, he never claimed to do so. Christians believe the Bible was written under the inspiration and authority of the Holy Spirit. The author of Hebrews is bringing out three things:

1. Proof of the place of the Messiah with comparison to Melchizedek, based on Psalm 110:4.

2. Proof that there was another priesthood of God prior to the priesthood with Aaron.

3. Many Christians also see Melchizedek as a pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ.

See Now That's a Good Question p.565-566 for more info. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.683-685 also suggests the work by Bruce Demarest, A History of Interpretation of Hebrews 7.1-10 from the Reformation to the Present (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1976).

As a side note, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441 says that the sect at Qumran understood Melchizedek to be a heavenly deliver who would proclaim God's salvation. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, Melchizedek appears in the Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen) 22:14-17and the manuscript Melchizedek (11Q13), as well as in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q401)), and 4Q544. Philo and Josephus also referred to Melchizedek, as well as Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 14:18 and Targum Meophyti I. See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.535-537 for more info.


2. In Heb 7:1-10, what is the "order of Melchizedek"?

A: This is not some Christian-only phrase, as this phrase is first used a thousand years before Christ in Psalm 110:4. The Old Testament tells us little about the order of Melchizedek, except for three things we can learn by inference.

1. It is totally independent of the Israelite priesthood from the order of Aaron.

2. Genesis 14:18-20 shows it preceded the priesthood from Aaron.

3. Psalm 110:4 shows that it would figure in the future with the coming of the Messiah.

See Now That's a Good Question p.565-566 for more info.


3. Does Heb 7:1-11, along with Christ's virgin birth, prove that we are guilty for the sins of all of our ancestors by being in their loins?

A: No. Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 specifically say that we are not guilty for our father's guilt.

Most Christians see an important practical reason why Jesus was born the way He was; unlike us, Jesus was born without a sinful nature. There is no need to postulate a second reason, that Jesus did not have the guilt from Joseph, Adam, or anybody in between.


4. Does Heb 7:1-11 prove we are guilty for Adam's sin by virtue of our being in Adam's loins?

A: No, for three reasons.

1. This verse no more proves guilt for Adam's sins than it proves guilt for all our other ancestor's sins.

2. No, because Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 show that each person dies for his own sins. It specifically mentions that we are not declared righteous because of our fathers' righteousness, and we are not guilty because of our father's sin.

3. No, because even if we did unknowingly sin in Adam, Romans 4:15 and 5:13 shows that sin is not counted where there is no law.

However, even though we may not be guilty for our forefather's sins, we still can bear the consequences of their sin.


5. In Heb 7:1-11, what does this mean?

A: While the direct observations are straightforward, it is the relationship to the author's point that is interesting.

1. Abraham, giving a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, a non-Hebrew priest of the Most High God, proves it was possible to be a priest without being from the order of Aaron.

2. Furthermore, the fact that Abraham, ancestor of Levi, gave a tithe to Melchizedek demonstrates that Melchizedek's priesthood is greater than the Aaronic priesthood.

"Salem" does not just mean the absence of conflict, but also the positive peace and prosperity.


6. In Heb 7:2-4, was Melchizedek really Jesus or not?

A: There are two possibilities about this mysterious figure.

Melchizedek was Jesus: Melchizedek could have been Christ Himself, appearing on earth prior to His incarnation at Bethlehem. Since it says Melchizedek was without father or mother, beginning of days or end of life, Melchizedek is Jesus, unless Hebrews 7:3 simply means these things were not recorded in Genesis. Many early Christians believed this.

Melchizedek was a type of Jesus: Melchizedek was an ordinary man who followed God. It says Melchizedek was "made like Jesus", and Christ was a priest "after the order of Melchizedek", but it never says Jesus is Melchizedek. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.124-125 and When Critics Ask p.515 for more info on this view.


7. In Heb 7:2-11, does Scripture say Melchizedek definitely is Jesus or not?

A: The answer is simple and should be clear to all: Scripture does not say. It is ambiguous, and most likely deliberately so. It is significant that the point of Hebrews 7:2-11 is clear regardless of whether Christ is Melchizedek or not.


8. In Heb 7:3, was Melchizedek reincarnated?

A: No. While there are actually five very different theories of reincarnation: Western New Age, Hindu, Buddhist, 'Alawite Muslim, and Ghulat Muslim, this verse supports none of them. Hebrews 7:3 is comparing Jesus with Melchizedek. Some think Melchizedek is simply an analogy or "type" of Christ. Others believe Melchizedek was actually a pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ. Regardless, all Christians agree that Jesus existed ever since time began. However, believing God the Son existed from eternity past, does not mean any of us existed before we were conceived. See When Critics Ask p.515 and When Cultists Ask p.284-285 for more info.


9. In Heb 7:9-10, does this somehow show a human fetus is only potentially human, not an actual one, and thus abortion is OK?

A: No. First of all, Levi, was not Abraham's direct son, but his great-grandson. To make a case of the unimportance of the life of a fetus based on the importance of Levi's ancestry, shows a desperation to try to find Biblical arguments in favor of abortion. See the discussion on Romans 5:12 and When Critics Ask p.440,515-516 for more info.


10. In Heb 7:14, how is the writer saying a priest could come from Judah?

A: Five points to consider in the answer.

1. Jesus was from Judah in two ways, both by his adopted legal father (Joseph), and by Mary through birth.

2. It is conceded that no one from Judah could be a priest after the order of Aaron.

3. But there can be other orders of priests. Specifically, Melchizedek was a priest who was not from Aaron and earlier than Aaron.

4. The priestly order of Melchizedek was greater than the priestly order of Aaron by

4a. Aaron and Levi's ancestor paid tithes to Melchizedek.

4b. It was said so by a direct oath from God in Psalm 110:4.

5. Jesus was appointed by God the Father to serve as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron.


11. In Heb 7:18, why does God often do something different than what His people expect?

A: Sometimes it might be because we have low or wrong expectations but there is often more to it than that. God might often prefer the unexpected (by people) to the expected so that God would get the glory, not us. It is also a reminder to us that His ways and thought are much higher than ours, as Isaiah 55:8-9 says. It is also a reminder to us that it is not by our power or might, but rather by God's Spirit, as Zechariah 4:6bf teaches.


12. In Heb 7:19 and 8:17, did Moses' Law make nothing perfect, or was the Law perfect as Ps 19:7 says?

A: In these verses, perfect means to fulfill its intended purpose. The Law was perfect in its purpose to show us God's commands for us, as Romans 3:20 shows. But the Law was not perfect in doing what it was never intended to do; save people. The Law did not save anyone, and thus it was not able to make any person perfect; God does that. Actually we do not have commands to follow; rather we have Christ to follow and commands to keep. See When Critics Ask p.516 for more info.


13. In Heb 7:27, were the Jews right to discontinue sacrifices after the destruction of the Temple, because they were only to sacrifice when there was a temple?

A: This would be news to David, who had the ark in a tent through his reign. Come to think of it, this would be news to Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel and others. There is no verse in the Old Testament (Tanach) that says even though they used to sacrifice before they had a temple, once the temple was built and destroyed they could not go back to what they did before.

 

Hebrews 8 ' Jesus, Our High Priest ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 8:1, was Jesus our priest, or our sacrifice?

A: Both. Hebrews 8:1 starts off as "The point of what we are saying'" so this is the culmination of why he was discussing all of the previous topics. In this unique situation, Jesus was both our High Priest and our sacrifice. See When Critics Ask p.516-517 for more info.


2. In Heb 8:1 and Heb 9:11, how was Jesus qualified to be our high priest?

A: Hebrews goes into detail on comparing and contrasting the former earthly high priests with Jesus as our High Priest. So before answering this question, it is important to first understand the role of a high priest. The high priest did one thing no other priest could do, on the Day of Atonement, he entered the most holy place and offered the sacrifices to God. As a man, he represented the people before God. God chose the descendants of Aaron to represent God to the people. Jesus is qualified as our high priest in at least four ways.

1. Jesus once and for all offered the sacrifice for us by offering Himself. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Peter, Moses, and John were good guys, but they were not capable of paying the penalty for our sins, because they were not sinless.

2. Like other high priests, Jesus represents God to us. He can do this better than any mere mortal high priest, because Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:8-9; John 20:28), and the fullness of God dwells in Him (Colossians 1:19).

3. Like other high priests, Jesus represents us before God. He can do this because He was like us in all things (Hebrews 2:17).

4. The Israelites needed a new high priest whenever the old high priest died (Hebrews 7:23-25). Jesus is alive in Heaven, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).


3. In Heb 8:1-3, is it OK to call a man on earth today our priest?

A: It is superfluous to have any other priests. Jesus is the only priest we need today for at least three reasons.

Explicitly, Jesus is named as our high priest in Hebrews 8:1.

In the past, Jesus once and for all made one offering (Hebrews 10:14), once and for all (Hebrews 9:12; 10:10). Catholics and some Lutherans should note that Hebrews 10:26 explicitly shows that Jesus did not suffer since the foundation of the world.

Even today, Jesus lives to intercede for us before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).

On the other hand, in a lesser sense all believers are priests according to 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6 and 5:10.


4. In Heb 8:5, what was the purpose of the example of the Tabernacle?

A: Hebrews 8:5 says the Tabernacle was a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven. However, just as a two-dimensional drawing is not identical to a two-dimensional photograph, much less a three-dimensional thing, this does not mean Heaven is exactly like the earthly Tabernacle.


5. In Heb 8:5, does the tabernacle being a shadow of Heavenly things support the Platonist idea of our world being shadows of the real world of ideas? What is the point of a copy or shadow?

A: No. While probably most Greek speakers were at least somewhat familiar with Plato, Plato's world of ideas was not one of material structures. For example, Plato's philosophy would (rather foolishly) teach that couches in this world were imperfect, modified copies of the abstract, "ideal couch". Likewise beds are imperfect modified copies of the "ideal bed". We run into a problem with Laz-e-boy couches or rollout beds. Perhaps the ideal world had to create a new entity at the time the Laz-e-boy couch was invented in the real world.

Unlike the Greeks, the writer of Hebrews and the rest of the Bible understood that Heaven was material, with (glorified) flesh, and structure. Other ancient Jewish books that showed they understood the earthly Tabernacle to be a copy of a material Heavenly tabernacle are 2 Baruch 4:5; and Antiquities of the Jews 3:123 (c.93-94 A.D.), and Wars of the Jews 5:212-213, both by Josephus. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.685-587 for more info.


6. In Heb 8:5-7,13; 9:1,15; 10:9,16, does the Bible teach "covenants" or "dispensations"?

A: The Bible teaches both. The covenants prior to Moses were agreements were with individuals, not with a nation or people. Actually, there are seven points Christians who are covenantalists and dispensationalists can agree on, and some differences.

Agreement:

A1. All who were, are, or will be saved are saved through Jesus. (Hebrews 11:39-40; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:6) See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.77-78,85 (a dispensationalist) for more on how Old Testament believers were "saved exactly as New Testament believers are saved" through Christ.

A2. In the Old Testament people individually made a covenant with God, too (Psalm 50:5).

A3. God made a series of agreements with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Joshua.

A4. In the Old Testament people corporately made a covenant with God (Jeremiah 34:13,18).

A5. There were and will be only two covenants, the first was under Moses (Hebrews 9:9), and the second and eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20), which is superior (Hebrews 8:6).

A6. We are now in the dispensation/administration of grace (Ephesians 3:2). The Old Testament looked forward to Christ's atonement, while we now look back to Christ's atonement.

A7. There will be a future dispensation, when all things will be together under Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

Differences and Emphases:

Various covenant and dispensationalist theologians disagree on a number of things:

1. Covenant theologians say all God's Old Testament promises are today fulfilled only in the church. The unbelieving Jews were grafted out, and from that time on, the "Israel of God" is the church, and the Jews today are no different than any other ethnic group. Nevertheless, R.C. Sproul, in Now That's a Good Question p.504-505 teaches that based on Romans 11, "God still has another chapter to write for the Jewish people as such."

Dispensationalists say some of God's Old Testament promises will be fulfilled in future Israel, such as the 144,000. Jews today are still God's chosen people. As for applying this theology, it was dispensationalists, not covenantalists, who promoted humanitarian airlifts to help Jews in the former Soviet Union leave and return to Israel.

2. In general, dispensationalists do not put the same degree of emphasis on observing the Law, including the law of tithing and the Sabbath/Lord's Day. See Now That's a Good Question p.436-438 for a covenantalist view of tithing being a law today, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.107 for a dispensationalist view of why it is not a law today, but a matter of liberty. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.109-110 says why the Sabbath is not for today.

3. Ultra-dispensationalism which is rejected by Dallas Theological Seminary, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.114, and other dispensationalists, teach that we now live in a different dispensation than the New Testament times, and baptism is not valid today. See the discussion on 1 Corinthians 1:17 for more info on the error of ultra-dispensationalism.

4. One covenant theologian, John Gerstner, claims dispensationalists under-emphasize the role of Christ in the salvation for all at all times. dispensationalists deny this charge.

For an example of a covenant view, R.C. Sproul says in Now That's a Good Question p.283-284, "salvation occurs exactly the same way in the Old Testament as it does in the New Testament - through faith. The only difference is that Old Testament faith was in a future promise that had not yet been fulfilled."

5. Covenant theologians, such as Gerstner and the New Geneva Study Bible (p.1990), claim some dispensationalists teach "cheap grace" and ignore God's law. One dispensationalist seminary graduate I know as he was reading this, shouted in surprise. Needless to say, dispensationalists deny this charge, too. However, it was some dispensationalists, not covenant Theologians, that promoted the view that you could be Christian by only accepting Jesus as your Savior, and making Him your Lord was a later option.

6. Extreme dispensationalist teaching occasionally emphasizes that today the Gospel saves, almost to the exclusion that it is God who saves. Is God powerless to save babies and the severely mentally handicapped because they did not hear the Gospel?

In general, the fact that some people take a viewpoint to the extreme does not prove that viewpoint wrong, if the non-extremist version of that view includes a balance that guards against the extreme. However, extremists who take a view to its logical conclusions, do demonstrate the entire viewpoint is wrong, if there is no teaching that prohibits taking it to the extreme.


7. In Heb 8:7-8, what was wrong with the first covenant under Moses?

A: There was nothing wrong with the law; it was holy, just, and good according to Romans 7:12. As Hebrews 8:8 says, the fault was with the people. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says that the law was to illuminate sin.


8. In Heb 8:10, since Jesus died for all men, how is the second covenant only with the house of Israel?

A: Hebrews 8:10 says the covenant would be with Israel; it does not say no one but Israel. However, rightly understood, it is with Israel, and all believers are adopted into God's chosen people. Two specific points:

1. All believers are spiritually sons of Abraham, according to Ephesians 2:12-13; Galatians 4:24-28; Romans 4:12,16-17.

2. Even Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus are going to die in their sins according to Matthew 23:29-33; John 8:24; Acts 20:21; 2:37-40; and Romans 9:6.


9. In Heb 8:11 and Jer 31:33-34, are we supposed to teach each other?

A: Yes we are. This verse does not just say that we shall not teach each other. Rather, it says that we shall not teach each other, saying "Know ye the Lord", because believers will all know the Lord.

There is an important theological point here. While in the Old Testament times, only a few believers had the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, in New Testament times, all believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. John 14:23 shows that all who have Christ have the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9-11 shows that those today who do not have the Holy Spirit do not have Christ.


10. In Heb 8:13, how could the Old Covenant vanish away, since Jesus said in Luke 16:16-17 that not one jot or tittle will pass away?

A: In Luke 16:17 Jesus said that the Law would not fail. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said that by no means will one jot or tittle pass away, until all is fulfilled. See the discussion on Romans 7:6 for more info.


 

Hebrews 9 ' Christ offered a better Sacrifice through a better Tabernacle ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 9:2-4, briefly, was the golden altar of incense in the Most Holy Place, or was it in the Holy Place as Ex 30:6 and Leviticus 16:12-13,18 show?

A: Some ancient manuscripts of the book of Hebrews say this altar was in the Holy Place, however, we are not required to appeal to those manuscripts to answer the question.

Brief answer: Was the veil a part of the Holy Place or Most Holy Place since it separated the two? You could say it was a part of both. Likewise, 1 Kings 6:22 gives the answer on the altar. It says that the altar "belonged" with the Most Holy Place. The altar, along with the veil, formed the boundary, when the veil was pulled back for the High Priest to go through on the Day of Atonement.

See the next question for a more detailed explanation.


2. In Heb 9:2-4, was the golden altar of incense in the Most Holy Place, or was it in the Holy Place as Ex 30:6 and Lev 16:12-13,18 show?

A: See the previous question for the brief answer. First some background. The entire tabernacle was about 45 feet long, 15 feet high, and 15 feet wide. The most holy place was 15 feet long, and the holy place was 30 feet long, according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2183.

Long answer: There are so many explanations to answer this question, it is a puzzle to sift through them to find the correct one. The answers can all be placed into three categories: words, movement, and purpose. Each of which has a least likely answer and one or two more likely answers.

First three facts that are not directly involved in the answer, and then the answer.

Fact 1: Day of Atonement use: The priest only entered the Most Holy Place once a year. The priest took burning coals from this altar, and past the curtain into the Most Holy Place (Leviticus16:12-13).

Fact 2: Position of the altar: Exodus 30:1-10 shows the priest (not necessarily high priest) was to burn incense on the gold-overlaid altar every morning. This is what Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist was doing when an angel appeared to Him next to this altar in Luke 1:8-11. Zechariah was part of a division of priests, and thus he was not a high priest. Leviticus 16:12 also shows the altar was in the Holy Place, not the Most Holy Place. 1 Kings 6:22 could mean the altar was in the Most Holy Place, but not necessarily. 1 Kings 6:22 only says that it "belonged" with the most Holy things, (meaning on the Day of Atonement) not that it was physically located there. According to When Critics Ask p.517, Philo, Josephus, and other Jewish writers said it was in the holy place, too. Contrary to this, The Apocalypse of Baruch 6:7 states the altar was in the Most Holy Place.

Fact 3: Two Altars (unlikely): While there could have been two altars, this is highly unlikely, because there is no Biblical or extra-Biblical reference to two altars.

Words definition (unlikely): The literal Greek word in Hebrews 9:3 is "instrument of incense". Grammatically, it can refer to the censor the priest carried with him. However, this is unlikely because then the book of Hebrews would be describing in detail each piece of other three pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle, mention the censor, and pass over in silence the altar of incense. Also, the Jewish writers Philo and Josephus use this word to refer to the altar.

Old Testament manuscript variation: While the Masoretic text and Septuagint both say the alter was in the Holy Place, the Samaritan Pentateuch says it was behind the veil (in the most holy place.) See The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.934 for more info.

New Testament manuscript variation: The Greek manuscripts Vaticanus, the Coptic versions, and the Ethiopic version say it is in the Holy Place, not the Most Holy Place. However, this is probably not the original reading.

Early Christian Writing: Five Books Against Marcion, by Tertullian, in book 4 lines 140-145 mentions the golden altar in the Holies of Holies.

Annual Movement of the altar on the Day of Atonement (unlikely): Was the altar moved once a year? This is unlikely. The altar was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It was small, about 3 feet by 1 ' feet by 1 ' feet in size. Cast gold is very dense, about 19.3 g/cm3. Assuming the thickness of the gold was an eighth of an inch, the weight of the gold would be 225-235 pounds. While it could be pushed by one man, it was not very portable for a priest who would also be carrying incense and a censor for coals. Other priests could not help carry it inside the most holy place (Leviticus 16:17; Hebrews 9:7). Thus the altar would not have been moved on the Day of Atonement.

One-time movement of the altar: There was "the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary", as 1 Kings 6:22 states. The Hebrew here is ambiguous: it could either mean that in Solomon's time the altar was located in the Most Holy Place, or that the altar belonged to the Most Holy Place. If the first meaning is meant, the altar was in the Most Holy Place in Solomon's Temple. However, this is unlikely, as Zechariah in Luke 1:8-11 was burning incense on this altar when the angel appeared to him, as it says the priests (not just high priest) were supposed to in Leviticus 16:12. Outside of the Bible we get mixed signals on this. Philo and Josephus say the altar was on the border in the Holy Place, but The Apocalypse of Baruch 6:7 states the altar was in the Most Holy Place.

Movement of the curtain: Assume the second meaning of 1 Kings 6:22 is meant. A key piece of missing information is how the priest, with a censor full of fire, incense, and blood on his finger in his other hand, would go behind the veil. (He could not just roll under it.) Matthew 27:51 indicates the veil was not two veils fastened in the middle, but one solid piece. Assume for a moment that the priest simply squeezed between the wall and the veil on one side. This would be problematic with all the things he was carrying, and hoping the censor did not catch the veil on fire. A more likely scenario is that the priest opened the veil, at least part-way, and then went in. Once the veil was opened, the altar was a part of the Most Holy Place and used in the ceremony there.

This is similar to our prayers on earth. We are sinful, and not a part of God's Most Holy Place in Heaven. However, some day for us, the veil will be taken aside, and Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4, shows that not only us but also our prayers will be in the Most Holy Place in Heaven. (It sort of motivates you to pray, doesn't it.)

See When Critics Ask p.517-520 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.81-82 for more info.


3. In Heb 9:4, are the stone tablets the same as the book of the Law in Dt 31:24-26?

A: No. Deuteronomy 31:24-26 shows the Book of the Law was the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), and not the Ten Commandments. The original Torah was placed beside the ark, not in it. The stone tablets were the Ten Commandments.


4. In Heb 9:4, were the three things in the ark of the Covenant, or in front of the ark as Ex 16:33-34, Num 17:10-11, 1 Ki 8:9, and 2 Chr 5:10 imply?

A: By the way, the ark, is also called the ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:16-22), because it held the "testimony", that is, the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Formerly in the ark: Exodus 16:33-34 says the jar of manna was put before the Lord to be kept for generations to come. Numbers 17:10-11 says they were to put Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony. While only Hebrews 9:4 says those things were put inside the ark, presumably these things were put in the ark. Exodus 25:21, Exodus 40:20 and Deuteronomy 10:2,5 says Moses put the stone tablets in the ark. When Exodus 40:20 says the stone tablets were put in the ark, it is possible the other two objects were put in at that time.

500 years later, in Solomon's time, after the ark was captured by the Philistines, and after 70 men had looked inside the ark (1 Samuel 6:19), in 1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10, the ark had only the stone tablets inside of it. Hebrews 9:4 is speaking of what was originally inside the ark. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.160 for more info.


5. In Heb 9:6-9, what was the point of all of this separation in the tabernacle?

A: Some buildings today have restricted access to certain parts, such as electrical power rooms, for safety, to reduce the number of fatalities.

In Old Testament times this graphically emphasized the separation between Holy God and sinful man. Even the high priest could only go in once a year. That is only one specific man, from one family, from one tribe, from the entire population. According to Josephus, during the time of the temple when the priest went in he had twelve bells around the bottom of his robe and a rope around his waist. What would happen if God were so displeased with the priest, and the priests died within the holy of holies; who would bring him out? When the rope around his waist, so that someone could pull him out, and the bells, that would jingle to indicate that he was still moving.

The Jewish rabbis in Tal Yoma 5:1 says that when the high priest went in "but he did not prolong his prayer let he put Israel in terror" according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.83. It also says that after he went in (and came out) he would hold a feast with his friends, because he survived one more year.

See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2185 for more info.


6. In Heb 9:12-14, what exactly is "redemption"?

A: This was no mystery to Jewish people; it was a common concept in the Old Testament. Every first-born animal was to be sacrificed, except that it could be "redeemed" by something in its stead according to Exodus 13:13.

Likewise the firstborn children were to be redeemed by sacrificing an animal as Exodus 13:14-16 shows. In Luke 2:23-24 Mary and Joseph presented on offering after Jesus was born, as Leviticus 12:6-8 commanded.

God redeemed the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians in Exodus 6:6 and Deuteronomy 7:8.

In general, the meaning of redemption, lytrosis in Greek, is setting something free by payment of a ransom price according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.86.

In Old Testament times, God saved people on "credit", knowing what Christ would do, according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2187.

 

7. In Heb 9:15, should this Greek word diatheke be translated "covenant", or "will or testament"?

A: The KJV translates this as "New Testament" while "New Covenant is the translation of the NKJV, NIV, NRSV, NASB. The NCV has "agreement". Wuest's Expanded Translation has "a testament new in quality"

The Hebrew word can be translated as "covenant" or something like "last will and testament". Some see "covenant" are more appropriate here as something that is unalterable. Some see "will or testament" as better, because this was something that was only applicable after Christ's death.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.88 goes into a long explanation of this word: to summarize: there is not word exactly like it in English. It does not mean "covenant" or "will or testament"; rather has only one meaning, and the meaning is both "covenant" and "will or testament".

Regardless, "New Covenant/Testament" does not mean the twenty-seven books of the New Testament scriptures. Some people in the Hebrew Roots Movement have seen "New Testament" in the KJV, are unaware that other translations say "covenant" and accuse the KJV translators of deception, by making it sound like the (books of the) New Testament.


8. In Heb 9:15, was Christ's payment for our sins retroactive?

A: Absolutely yes. Hebrews 9:15 says that Christ died for sins committed under the first covenant. In God's certain knowledge Jesus was slain from before the foundation of the world in Revelation 13:8. Romans 3:25 also indicates that he did it for prior sins which were until then left unpunished. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.85 for more info.


9. In Heb 9:21, where does it say the tabernacle and other things were sprinkled with blood?

A: It does not say this in the Old Testament; but Jewish people were apparently aware of it. Josephus mentions this in Antiquities of the Jews book 3 p.205-206. [viii 6]. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.89 for more info.


10. In Heb 9:25-28, could Jesus be sacrificed many times during the Roman Catholic Mass, with the bread and wine?

A: No, Hebrews 9:25-28 says once and for all. Genuine Christians have differing views though.

Lutheran and Catholic Christians say yes. One Lutheran taught that since God is timeless, the atonement can be timeless. The Lord's Supper is a connection in time with the time Christ died on the cross through the timelessness of God.

Orthodox Christians teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but some leave it a mystery as to how. Others say their view is like the Roman Catholic view.

Protestant Christians say no.

In John 19:30, "It is finished" are the last words of Jesus. This is actually an accounting term, that could be translated "paid in full."

Hebrews 9:25-28 explicitly teaches that Jesus does not offer a sacrifice again and again; rather, Jesus was sacrificed once.

In Hebrews 10:11-12, Jesus did not perform his religious duty day after day; rather Jesus offered for all time one sacrifice for sins. Then Jesus sat down, a position of comfort, favor, and honor.


11. In Heb 9:27-28, could reincarnation be true and be compatible with Christianity?

A: No, for a number of reasons.

In general, if God bodily resurrects all at the last day, that does not make much sense if we do not have one, and only one, body.

In Hebrews 9:27-28, it specifically says here that "just as man is destined to die once and then face judgment".

In 2 Sam 12:22-23, David said of his dead baby "I will go to him [the grave], but he will not return to me." However, scripture is accurately recording David's words, but this verse would not prove David's opinion was correct, except in combination with Hebrews 9:27-28.

Ecclesiastes 11:3 says that wherever a tree falls, there it will lie. The context of Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 is cause and effect, and the context of the whole book is life and death under the sun.

Reincarnation was absent from not only the entire Old and New Testament, but absent from Jewish and Christian tradition. The concept was believed by a few pagan Greeks. Christians were aware of the concept, and thoroughly rejected reincarnation as unbiblical, as shown by Hippolytus.

Hippolytus (Against Plato, verse 2), in his extensive discussion of Hades, also briefly mentions that resurrection does not mean the soul is transferred to other bodies, but rather that God raises the bodies themselves. In The Refutation of All Heresies, 1:2, Hippolytus mentions that Pythagoreans believed in the error that the soul goes through successive bodies.

The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.34 p.194 (after 205 A.D.) called the idea of men's souls returning in beasts [reincarnation] the "ribaldry of buffoons."

If someone chooses to believe in reincarnation regardless of what the Bible say, that is one thing, but please do not lie about what the Bible says. Use whatever words of man you desire, but please do not try to twist the God's word to say something God did not say.

For more on reincarnation, see the discussion on Luke 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:37; Galatians 1:15-16, Galatians 6:7-8, Hebrews 7:3, and James 3:6.


12. In Heb 9:28f, what does "those who are waiting", apekdechomenois, mean?

A: This word is used seven times in the New Testament: Romans 8:19,23,25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28. Each time it refers to those who are waiting for the return of Christ. It is very appropriate to call yourself, and those in your local church, as among "those who are waiting".

 

Hebrews 10 ' The Only Sacrifice that Works ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 10:1-2, in the movie "The Truman Show" the hero lived in an unreal world. In a sense the Old Testament believers lived in a "shadow world", having only a shadow of Christ in the Old Testament sacrifices. How do we live in a "shadow world" today?

A: The Greek word for shadow, skia, can refer to many kinds of shadows, including the outline an artist makes of a painting before later filling in the colors. We live in a world with some things that are copies of things in Heaven. While this earth seems real to us, in our three dimensions plus time, it is not as real as eternity, in who knows how many dimensions.

In a shadow world there might be hints that things are not totally permanent. For example, as the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2188 says, "The regular recurrence of the sacrifice branded them as ineffectual. Whoever has to take medicine every hour to stay alive can hardly be said to be cured. Instead of pacifying the conscience, the Levitical system stabbed it awake every year. Behind the beautiful ritual of the Day of Atonement lurked the annual reminder that sins were only being covered, not removed." The Jews did not have a false picture of salvation, but rather a vague and incomplete picture.


2. In Heb 10:6-7, is "a body you have prepared for me" a quote of Ps 40:6 "my ears you have opened [pierced]"?

A: The Masoretic text says "my ears you have pierced". Hebrew slaves were to be freed every seven years, but the ears were pierced of a slave who voluntarily chose to serve his master for life.

The Septuagint says "a body you have prepared for me." The Old Testament translations of Symmachus and Theodotion also have "body". Thus, Psalms 40:6 was probably altered in the Masoretic text. (As an aside, the Dead Sea scrolls do not have Psalm 40:6 preserved).

Either way, Jesus was fitted for obedient service. See When Critics Ask p.521 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.803-804 for more info.


3. In Heb 10:10, was Jesus' body invaded by Satan, as Rev. Moon, founder of the cult of the Unification Church, teaches?

A: No. First here is what the alleged messiah Rev. Moon says, followed by what God's word says.

1. Rev. Moon says: that Abraham's sacrifice became Satan's possession.

Divine Principle p.269 "...Abraham's offering the sacrifices without having cut the dove in two resulted in offering Satan's possession, as it were, and so the offering ending in the assertion that the offering was Satan's possession."

Divine Principle p.330 "Due to Moses' twice striking the rock externally in rage... his [Moses'] flesh was invaded by Satan and he died in the wilderness, but internally, ...[he could still bring water from the rock to the people]"

Divine Principle p.148 "Jesus could not accomplish the purpose of the providence of physical salvation because his body was invaded by Satan. However, he could establish the basis for spiritual salvation ... through ... the blood of the cross."

2. God says: that Jesus' body saw no decay, according to Acts 2:31. Jesus sacrificed his body in Hebrews 10:10, but His body made us holy. While Rev. Moon teaches that Jesus lost his body, and that it was corrupted, the apostle Paul says the opposite in Philippians 3:20-21.

"But our citizenship is in heaven - and we [that is, Christians] also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself." (NET)


4. In Heb 10:14, how are we already perfect, and yet being made holy?

A: Judicially we are already pronounced perfect in God's eyes, not because of our own righteousness, but because of Jesus taking our punishment on the cross for us. Also, we will be sinlessly perfect in heaven. But on earth, people who are a mess accept Christ, and they can still be a mess inside. But God had no intention of leaving them a mess inside. God wants us cleaned up, and be sanctified. We do not wait to go to heaven to do this, God wants to start this right now+



5. In Heb 10:10,18, since there are no more offerings for sin, could Jesus be sacrificed again in the Roman Catholic mass?

A: The mass says this is a present, not yet completed aspect to Christ's suffering and atonement. Some Roman Catholics would say Jesus is not being sacrificed anew, but in a timeless manner it is just one event that appears to us many times. However, against this, John 19:30 tell us Jesus said, "It is finished". Hebrews shows an "endedness" to Jesus' sacrifice. For Roman Catholics Jesus sacrifice is never finished, while in or "once and for all" in Hebrews 8:27. Jesus suffered on the cross for us, and Jesus does not have to offer Himself anymore, or suffer anymore, as Hebrews 9:26. Or to put it another way, Hebrews 10:10,12 says Jesus' sacrifice was "one and done". That is why Jesus told us to partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of Him.

So if Middle-Aged church councils and popes said one thing, and John the apostle and the Bible said something different, which would you go with. When God and a pope differ, is your trust and belief in God higher, or is your trust and belief in the church higher?


6. In Heb 10:25, is it OK for believers not to gather together in fellowship?

A: No. It is a sin for believers to isolate themselves from all other believers. Hebrews 10:25 says we should not neglect gathering together, but the Bible does not say when we must gather together. Some Christians cannot gather together with other Christians regularly due to sickness or location. But this does not refer to believers who cannot get together, but rather those who choose not to do so.

There are a number of reasons for this command. We need other Christians for encouragement, teaching, correction, and rebuke. God has given other believers spiritual gifts to nourish us, and given us spiritual gifts to nourish them. 1 Corinthians 12 discusses this more. Another reason is that Jesus said, "when two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." (Matthews 18:20) There is a special power in corporate prayer. Finally, while God enjoys our individual worship, God especially enjoys us worshipping Him together. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.225 for a complementary answer.


7. Does Heb 10:26-32 show people can lose their salvation?

A: All agree that this passage teaches that Christ alone is a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. The Old Testament sacrifices, apart from Christ, are worthless. However, Genuine Christians disagree on what this passage says about loss of salvation.

Lose-Opportunity View: For those who sin by rejecting what Christ's sacrifice at the cross, there is no hope for them apart from the way which they have rejected. Even if they are good Jews and do all the Old Testament sacrifices, an enemy of Christ is an enemy of God, who can only expect the raging fire.

Lose-salvation View: In addition to the previous view, Christians who deliberately and persistently sins long enough, have trampled the Son of God underfoot and lost the opportunity for Christ to save them.

See the question concerning Hebrews 3:6,14 and the two questions concerning Hebrews 6:4-12 for more discussion. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.689-690 for more info.


8. In Heb 10:32, in Greek the verse starts with "But". How does this contrast with the previous section?

A: As fearful as the previous section was, it will not apply to those who cling to Jesus despite the opposition. The next section is a contrast to give comfort and assurance to those who are following the truth. Hebrews 10:35 tells us we have confidence, but do not throw that confidence away.

 

Hebrews 11:1-19 ' Live the Faith, through Abraham ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 11:1 and Heb 11:3, was it "our faith that understands the world was formed", or was it "by God's faith that He formed the world", as Kenneth Copeland and others teach?

A: In Greek the first two words are "By faith we understand". "By faith" modifies the verb directly following, "we understand". Thus our faith did not form the world, but our faith gives us the understanding of how God formed the world. It is our faith; the All-Knowing God Himself does not have or need faith.

Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6,9 and other passages show God created everything by His word. The Almighty God does not have "faith", that maybe He can do something, any more than we have faith that we can breathe. God has certain knowledge that He can do all things.

The broader issue here is this: are Christians to have faith in God, or faith in faith? Many faith healers essentially teach faith in faith. Faith in your own faith is faith in yourself masquerading as faith in God.

See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.350-351 and When Cultists Ask p.285-286 for more info.


2. In Heb 11:2-32, why were flawed examples used here?

A: Faith is not only just something to believe, but faith is an important thing to do. While we are not saved by works, we were saved in part to do good works. The writer of Hebrews can only teach so much conceptually; now we need a few perfect, as well as many flawed examples. These faithful believers still did a lot and endured a lot, despite their shortcomings. They still messed up sometimes, and God understand that we will mess up sometimes too. Flawed believers can still have great faith, and that gives us hope. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2194-2197 for more info.


3. In Heb 11:4, why did God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's offering?

A: Genesis 4 did not explicitly give any reason, so no reason is excluded. Hebrews 11:4 says that Cain lacked faith. Actually, one can conjecture a combination of three reasons relating to Cain's lack of genuine faith.

Blood, not vegetables: In later ties, sacrifices to God were always with the animals. Even today some want to have a bloodless Christianity. Hebrews 9:18,22 reminds us that in the Old Testament God required shedding of blood for forgiveness. However, one could counter that since both the Old Testament and Hebrews were written after Cain's lifetime, how was Cain supposed to know this? This leads to the next point.

Sacrifices in Fellowship with God: Since God talked directly with Cain, later, Cain could have asked God what God wanted. Many people today want to serve God on their own terms, in their own way, not God's way. However, one could counter that why should Cain not be able to sacrifice however he wanted to? This leads to the next point.

Sacrifice in Faith to our Lord: There is no evidence that Cain submitted to God's Lordship or by faith trusted his life over to God. Even today, if we are not interested in drawing near to God and obeying Him, our sacrifices do not matter. Micah 6:6-8 has a beautifully poetic expression of this. Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 6:6; John 14:15,21,23-24 are more direct expressions of the primacy of drawing near to God and obedience over people's sacrifices and other works.


4. In Heb 11:5, how could Enoch not see death?

A: Enoch did not see death in Genesis 5:22-24. As one little child said, "one day when they were walking, God told Enoch that since we are closer to my house than your house, why don't you just come home with Me?"

The Almighty God can do whatever He wants to do, including take someone into Heaven. Three Pre-Nicene Christian writers saw Enoch returned as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:6-11.

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) thought that Enoch did not see death yet, because he would only die as during the time of the antichrist (Revelation 11:3). A Treatise on the Soul ch.50 p.227

Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) also wrote that the two witness were Enoch and Elias [Elijah], preaching for 1,260 days, in Treatise on Christ and Antichrist ch.43 p.213

Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) discusses that Elijah and Enoch were translated to some remote place without dying that they might attend Christ when He comes to judge. However, we should not believe that Nero is returning too. Of the Manner in which the Persecutors Died ch.2 p.302.


5. In Heb 11:7, how did Noah condemn the world?

A: All understand that it was God who judged the world, and God, not Noah who sent the flood; Noah was the messenger. The meaning of Hebrews 11:7 is that Noah condemned the world by demonstrating that a man and his family could live an upright life before God, even in those wicked times.


6. In Heb 11:8, how did Abraham (formerly Abram) depart not knowing where he was going, since Gen 12:5 says Abram departed to go to the land of Canaan?

A: Abram was specifically not told he was going to Canaan when God called him in Genesis 12:1. In hindsight Genesis 12:5, written much later than Abraham, tells us that God had Abram leave to go to Canaan.

In our lives we can obey God without any idea what the result will be. While it can be uncertain to us at that time, looking back years later, we can see how things worked out so well in God's plan.


7. In Heb 11:10,13-16 discusses a character trait Christians should have that is very rarely mentioned anymore. What is that, and why is it important?

A: We should be longing as we are focused on the future. See 2 Corinthians 5:2; Philippians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:20 Proverbs 13:12,19; Psalm 63:1; 119:20,81; 131; 143:7; Isaiah 26:9;

Our spiritual ancestors longed for what we have now. Matthew 13:17; 1 Peter 1:10-12

The wicked long too, but for the wrong things. Psalm 112:10; Ezekiel 23:16; 21; Revelation 18:14

God longs for His children too. Matthew 23:37

Four aspects of faith are

The object of faith: God, or sometimes a person's own works, or tradition, or church

Knowledge of faith: How much do you know, and is it correct

Trust: Trusting that the object of your faith will help you and be with you

Longing/Looking forward: Are you dissatisfied with the way the world and your life is now, solely because you are longing for what is better?

The last aspect is not often remembered today, but this is the aspect that Hebrews 11 emphasizes.

This "Hall of Faith" does not laud people for their doctrinal correctness, or in the case of Jacob and Rahab, not even their holiness. Rather is emphasizes their longing.


8. In Heb 11:17-19, Abraham would not have seen any reason why God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham knew how to obey even when he did understand. Understanding is good, but what is involved in being faithful even when we do not understand?

A: We know that God does not contradict Himself. So if something that we feel or think is from God goes against the Bible, then we can know we are deceived; we should not do it. Of course Abraham lived before we had scripture. But when we do not understand all of the reasons, we should do it anyway. But if we know we are to do something, and the Bible also is consistent with that, we should do what God wants us to do, regardless of if we see the benefit or not.

Sometimes when God directly tells us to do something, we do not see why. We know that God does not speak to us to contradict what He said in His word. So if "God" tells you to rob a bank or murder someone, you know for certain that it is not God, but a lying spirit. Similarly, when God does not speak to use directly but His word tells us to do something or not to do something. But sometimes we think the result might be more pleasant if we disobey and somehow, short-term, we might even be correct. But the test is for us to show our love and demonstrate obeying Him regardless of the cost.

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.122 for more info.


9. In Heb 11:19, how did Abraham receive Isaac back from the dead, figuratively?

A: Abram was about to kill Isaac as a sacrifice. However, God stopped him, and Isaac remained alive, as Genesis 22:1-18 says. If God had allowed Abraham to kill Isaac, what chance did Abraham have naturally of having another child? What exactly did Abraham see of God's promise? ' his land? ' his offspring? Do you have more confidence in God's eyesight or yours?


 

Hebrews 11:20-40 ' Live the Faith, from Isaac ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 11:17-20, Abraham had a "pioneer faith", different from his family and culture, and going to exciting new places. Isaac and his descendents had nearly a "lifelong faith". How do those two kinds of expressions of faith differ?

A: Abraham went against his society and family tradition. Isaac followed in the footsteps of his parent's faith. There are advantages and pitfalls of both.

Pioneers do not have the benefit of knowing God's word and God's truth from the time they could talk. But they can make up for it with their stubborn insistence to follow God even when others are against them, as they have been down that road before. Someone with a pioneer faith might have a very vocal, striking faith, despite perhaps learning the truths of God at an older age.

All his life, Isaac could observe and learn how Abraham and Sarah lived their lives as God's followers. But make sure that you grow in your own faith, and not just live in the shadow of your parents'. Someone raised in a Christian family might have a deeper knowledge of God, but they should be careful that their faith does not become lukewarm and they take God for granted.

Everyone, if we are wise, we can all learn valuable lessons from the mistakes that they see.


2. In Heb 11:21, why would God commend the faith of Jacob, who cheated people? What apparently is more important than righteousness?

A: Cheating and taking advantage of people is wrong. Jacob might have done it out of faith in wanting God's blessing, but the ends does not justify the means, and Jacob did evil. Jacob conned Isaac to get what he wanted to give to another. Getting the birthright mainly would mean a double shared of the inheritance. But the way Jacob went about it, he got none of the inheritance, not even his shared as the non-firstborn son. When Laban deceived Jacob in return, and Jacob feared that Esau would kill him. That still does not make what Jacob did any less bad though.

If Jacob had even more faith, he would have not cheated people in the first place, and he would have relied on God to move the heart of Esau and Laban. Perhaps Jacob learned this later in life, when Laban cheated him, and God protected him when he had to go before a bitter Esau very vulnerably. But greater than Jacob's deceitfulness was his faith in God. God loved Jacob, accepted his faith, and also dealt with Jacob's disobedience accordingly. If you have great faith in God, and you are not righteous, God can work with you to change and become more righteous. But, unlike Jacob's case, if you want to pursue righteousness right now, you can save yourself a lot of heartache.


3. In Heb 11:26, how did Moses esteem the reproach of Christ, since Moses had never heard of Christ?

A: While Moses had not heard the name of Christ, Moses esteemed God, and Moses knew of a coming prophet in Deuteronomy 18:17. Moses knew one would come to make atonement for the land and the people in Deuteronomy 32:43.


4. In Heb 11:27, how did Moses leave Egypt, not fearing the king's anger, since Ex 2:14,15 says Moses feared Pharaoh and fled to Midian?

A: Exodus 2:14-15 says, "'Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known.' When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh'" (NIV). Clement of Alexandria in Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 4 ch.16 p.428 quotes this verse, and in ancient manuscripts there are no manuscript variations (leaving out a "not" for example).

First what is not the answer and then two different answers.

Not the answer: Exodus 2:14 says that Moses was afraid, and Exodus 2:15 says that Moses fled from Pharaoh. It does not expressly say that Moses was afraid of Pharaoh here. See the NIV Study Bible p.1873 for more on this answer.

John Chrysostom's Answer: Writing about 392-407 A.D. Chrysostom raised this issue and answered it. Yes Moses was afraid when he killed the Egyptian, but he was wise to flee to avoid a foreseen danger. There is no need to tempt God. Moses was not afraid to return, and Moses was not afraid to leave Egypt again, regardless of the Pharaoh's anger. (Homilies on Hebrews homily 26 p.484.)

Another Answer: While Moses was wise to flee from Egypt the first time, it was out of fear after killing the Egyptian. Hebrews 11:27 refers to Moses' character after sojourning in Midian for forty years. Moses went back to Egypt without fear, stood again in Pharaoh's presence without fear, and left Egypt again, all without fearing Pharaoh's anger. Pharaoh had more to fear from God than Moses had from Pharaoh.

There is a lesson for us here today. Sometimes if we flee a fearful situation, sometimes God can later want us to go back and boldly stand up for God and against the oppression of others. Moses may have left Egypt once fearing Pharaoh, but God and the author of Hebrews consider as more significant when Moses went back, overcoming any fear, and left the second time without fear.


5. In Heb 11:32, how were Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah heroes of the faith? They all sinned, and even Barak showed a lack of leadership.

A: God's people still sin, and some of them sinned greatly. The Bible does not gloss over their serious faults, but it is encouraging to know that God can deal with us, and perfect us, even with our faults, too.

Hebrews 11:32 made no claim that these men were models of sinless perfection, or even more righteous than others. Rather, Hebrews 11 brings these men to our attention as examples of those who had the faith to do great things, and in Samson's case, join the ranks of martyrs who died for God.


6. In Heb 11:35, which women received back their dead?

A: This would be the widow of Zarephath in 1 King 17:22, and the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4:34.


7. In Heb 11:35, is this an allusion to 2 Maccabees 7:12, which proves at least part of the Apocrypha to be a part of Scripture?

A: No. 2 Maccabees 7:12 says, "As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished as the young man's spirit, for he regarded his suffering as nothing." (RSV Catholic Edition translation). The context is that this was the third of seven brothers who were martyred under the Seleucids. Four points to consider in the answer.

1. This is not actually a quote from the Apocrypha. Hebrews 11:35 is closest to 2 Maccabees 7:12, and they recorded a common virtue, but it is not a quote.

2. The Bible quotes from pagan poets too in Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, and Titus 1:12, yet all agree the other writings of the pagan poets are not scripture.

3. Hypothetically speaking, even if Hebrews 11:35 was a quote from 2 Maccabees (which it is not), unless quoting pagan poets makes their writings scripture, one quote from 2 Maccabees would not make it Scripture either.

4. 2 Maccabees is generally reliable in many places. However, even it has historical inconsistencies with 1 Maccabees and two provable errors. For example, in 2 Maccabees 8:20, the Seleucids plus 4,000 Macedonians did not destroy 120,000 Galatians in Babylonia.


8. In Heb 11:36, what is so serious about jeering?

A: Jeers can cause people to lose respect for you. Sometimes when people today are verbally bullied, they lose respect for themselves and commit suicide. But Christians can start to doubt they are doing God's will, or that God cares about them, when they suffer this type of persecution. Jesus understands, because He suffered this type of persecution too.


9. In Heb 11:37, how is being dressed in sheepskins and goatskins different from other persecutions?

A: Sheepskins and goatskins could be warm against the elements, but they were not very comfortable against the skin. They would also be hot in hotter weather. Their persecutors did not dress them in that course, primitive, unfashionable clothing. They had to do that themselves because their options were limited. Sometimes oppression results in the oppressed having few options left to meet their basic needs. People like this, even when not in immediate danger, had so few finances to buy nice things that they were forced to this. Likewise some Christians suffer economic persecution, where opportunities to make enough money to live with even ordinary things have been taken away.

 

Hebrews 12 ' "HEED" Hardship, Encouragement, Endurance, and Discipline ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 12:1, who are the great cloud of witnesses?

A: The "such a great cloud" refers specifically to the people mentioned in the preceding chapter. Of course, chapter 11 mentions the Old Testament believers in general marching around Jericho, enduring persecution, and being commended for their faith, so such a great cloud includes all the believers who have gone before us and are now in Heaven.


2. In Heb 12:1, does a cloud of witnesses prove that Jesus coming back in the clouds mean Jesus will come back among groups of people, as Rev. Moon's Unification church teaches?

A: Does the phrase "a flock of sightseers" mean that whenever the word "flock" is used, it must refer to people? - Of course not. Likewise the phrase "a cloud of witnesses" does not mean that whenever the word "cloud" is used, is refers to people.

No place in the Bible, including Hebrews 12:1, uses just "cloud" to mean people. Hebrews 12:1 says, "cloud of witnesses", and this metaphor does not give anyone the right to interpret literal clouds (without witnesses) as people.

Furthermore, Greek had different words for cloud, and the word used here, nephos, is not used anywhere else in the New Testament.

Even Unification members would agree that it was a literal cloud that hid Jesus as He ascended to Heaven in Acts 1:9. If Jesus returned the same way, and Jesus left in a literal cloud, then Jesus will return in a literal cloud, despite what Rev. Moon teaches.


3. In Heb 12:1, what are weights that we as Christians sometimes (or often) need to throw off?

A: These includes the sins of what we do wrong, sins of where we choose to focus our thoughts, and sins where we are "holding out" against God and are unwilling to do what we believe God wants us to do. It also includes things that are not evil of themselves but are distractions for us. It can also include relationships that are not healthy for us.


4. In Heb 12:2, how could Jesus endure the cross, because of the joy set before Him?

A: This does not mean the cross was joyful, but rather Jesus endured because of the joy set before Him. The joy was in the forthcoming result of providing salvation for us, that we could be reconciled to God and live with Him in Heaven forever.

By saying there are other ways to Heaven, a person is telling Christ that His sacrifice was unnecessary.


5. In Heb 12:4 what is the struggle against sin here?

A: The Greek word for struggle, antagonizomai, can refer to an athletic struggle. While it might also refer to a Christian's personal struggle against their own sin, it's primary focus is probably their persecution by sinful people.


6. In Heb 12:6-11, why does God use this example, since corporal punishment is [allegedly] wrong?

A: Corporal punishment (spanking and so forth) is not wrong when properly applied for the child's benefit, as Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; and 23:13-14 show. See Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson and Growing Kids God's Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo for good material about balancing both love and discipline.

This word not only means discipline, but also instruction, correction, and warning too, according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2203. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.810 says that the word literally means "child-training".


7. In Heb 12:7,9-10, should fathers take the lead role in discipline?

A: The Bible gives no command on which parent does what, but it does give examples of fathers in Hebrews 12:7,9-10, 1 Timothy 3:4,12; 1 Thessalonians 2:11. However, Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 warn fathers in particular not to exasperate their children. Mothers had a role in training up their children in Proverbs 31:1-9; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Both parents are supposed to work together in Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 6:1, though 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 recognizes that there may be family situations where only the wife brings up the children in the Lord.


8. In Heb 12:8 what is the point of legitimate sons here?

A: A father might not care for an illegitimate son, whether by his wife or by another woman not his wife, the same as he would care for a legitimate son from honorable marriage. In Roman culture an illegitimate son had no inheritance rights. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.810 for more info.


9. In Heb 12:15 and Heb 12:25, how can people miss or turn away from the grace of God?

A: Christians can still be Christians and disobey God, but that is not what is being discussed here, because it says to "miss" instead of just "have fewer blessings and rewards". People can listen to the Gospel, and even intellectually believe and be baptized with water, as Simon Magus was in Acts 8:18-20. However, knowing doctrine and attending church should not give a person assurance of anything, if they are not obeying Christ.

Look at the parable of the four soils in Luke 8:4-15. Plants in three of the four soils sprouted, but only one of the soils was saved to yield any crop.

Esau is a sad example and warning. He grew up knowing of God, raised by parents who knew God, yet he let what he could have had slip away from his grasp. He had no idea of the importance of choosing soup over birthright, until after the choice was made.


10. In Heb 12:15, how can a bitter root grow and defile many?

A: Both churchgoers who are not born again, and genuine Christians, can have small feelings of bitterness towards themselves, other people, or God. If this bitterness is not dealt with, and given to God, then like other sins, it can grow as a cancer and affect more and more of a person's heart. As Proverbs 4:23 advises in a different context, above all guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life.

See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.691-692 for more info.


11. In Heb 12:17, why would God reject someone who repents?

A: Christians have two different answers on this.

1. It depends on the kind of repentance a person has. Nearly every convicted criminal repents of getting caught, and nearly everyone who foolishly loses something regrets the consequences of their foolishness. Esau repented with tears over what he lost, but Scripture never says that Esau turned to God.

2. While Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.20, 246-247 does not disagree with the principle in the previous answer, it says this passage refers to a different point. Comparing this passage with Genesis 27:34-40, the change of heart Esau was seeking was his father Isaac's heart, not his own.

When Critics Ask p.523-524 discusses both answers and add that while either or both may be true, either way Esau was concerned with the earthly inheritance, not spiritual blessing. Matthew 7:7-11, Hebrews 11:6, and Romans 2:7 show that God will reward those who earnestly seek Him.


12. In Heb 12:18-21, why was God trying to scare the daylights out of the Israelites in Moses' time? How about today?

A: God teaches us many lessons in the Bible. God did teach Abraham and others about love, grace, and mercy in the Old Testament. However, before God taught people all He did about love, grace, and mercy in the New Testament, they first had to understand about God's justice and God's wrath.

Unfortunately, many today want to hear selectively only the "nice-sounding" parts of the Bible. God's mercy is all that more important to us when we see the consequences of our sin.

A billboard was once put up by Christians in Tennessee saying "Jesus saves". Some vandal had written after it, "green stamps". Christians might not always realize that when they try to tell others how great it is that Jesus saves, others do not really comprehend the message if they do not realize what they are saved from, as well as what they are saved for.


13. In Heb 12:24, how did Jesus' blood speak better than Abel's?

A: According to Genesis 4:10, Abel's blood [metaphorically] cried out from the ground. It cried out for vengeance. But Jesus' blood cries out too; it cries out for forgiveness. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2207 for more info.


14. In Heb 12:29 and Dt 4:24, what does "our God is a consuming fire" mean?

A: Psalm 50:3 says a fire devours before God when He comes in judgment. Fire is literal fire, and it also can mean God's wrath against sin. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21 for more info.


 

Hebrews 13:1-8 ' Loving Others Better ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 13:1, why does a person's brotherly love (philadelphia) sometimes die down?

A: It is one thing to have affection for someone, it is another thing to maintain it over the years. Over time, people can tend to take others for granted, dwell on their faults and not their good points, and no longer consider their time with their friend as precious. Friends should be cherished, and friendships need to be maintained.


2. In Heb 13:1, what are ways to continue our brotherly love towards others?

A: 1 Peter 4:8 also says to have a fervent love towards each other. There is a lot to these positive direct commands.

Pray for them. Ask them what you can pray for them about.

Be patient with them.

Care for them and show them that you value them as more important than yourself. (Philippians 2:3f).

Spend time with people, be there to listen to them, encourage them, and as the occasion presents itself, counsel and teach them.

Look out for their interests (Philippians 2:4) and to develop their gifts and talents.

Sometimes you need to help them financially (James 2:15-17).

Forgive, and don't let anger get between you and your love for them.

Ask forgiveness, when you have done wrong, or even if they just think you have done wrong.

Beyond that, when you have a chance with a good friend, you might have a "defining the relationship" discussion. If it is with a person of the opposite sex, and it will not be romantic, be very up front about that. You can enjoy being with someone, defend them when someone wrongs them, but you won't sin for them, including lying for them, or cover up when they do wrong.


3. In Heb 13:2, what are some reasons we should have a love for strangers (philoxenia)?

A: We are also commanded to be hospitable in Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9, and 3 John 8. Since we want to become what God wants us to be, and God wants us to be hospitable, we should take joy in being hospitable. Abraham entertained angels in Genesis 18:1-15 and Lot in Genesis 19. Widows were commended for being hospitable in 1 Timothy 5:10. Bishops are to be hospitable in 1 Timothy 3:2; and Titus 1:8. Publius of Malta was very hospitable toward Paul in Acts 28:7. While some Christians might especially have gifts of hospitality, every Christian should want to be hospitable to others.


4. In Heb 13:2, what are ways we can show hospitality towards others, in addition to inviting them into our home?

A: First see the situation. Depending on how settled in and comfortable they are, you can invite them to events, invite them out to eat, invite them to church and Sunday School and Bible Study, and in general invite them to do things. If they need a car for a short period of time, and you have one to loan, you can loan it to them. If it is a person of the opposite sex, then it might be better to invite a group of people to do things, instead of just one person. Beyond your "duty" of inviting them to do things, learn to enjoy spending time with them. Introduce them to others. Do to them what you would want others to do to you, if you were a stranger.

Beyond the fact that God commands it, God can use our obedience to meet people God wants us to meet to help them. But your part in unofficially mentoring them is not to foster dependency on you, but it is temporary so that they can rapidly become independent. But your friendship with them can endure.

When a newcomer comes to town, sometimes they need friends, and they might need advice and wisdom about where to go for the best deals, how to do certain things, etc. You might invite them to holiday celebrations at your house, or do other things to make them feel welcome.

When a person from another country comes to your work or town, sometimes they might need advice with certain customs. Usually it is best to give it privately, not publicly in front of others. Likewise, if they misspell or mispronounce words, that instant might not be the perfect time to correct them. If they do want you to correct them, you can do so privately.


5. In Heb 13:2, are there dangers in being hospitable towards others, and how do we balance danger with obeying God's command here?

A: Yes. For example, if you are small of build, and you see a hitchhiker needing a ride, just outside of a prison, you should not pick them up. But what if they genuinely need help? You call someone else who can help them ' the police.

On the other hand, once I saw a well-dressed Indian guy walking outside a high-tech company, just as it was about to rain heavily. I picked him up, and it turned out he was telecom engineer going to the same hotel I was staying at, a mile away. It would have been miserable walking a mile in heavy rain in good clothes with no umbrella.

There was a Christian family in New Jersey from the Mideast. They gave a room to a man who needed it. They were all killed and the man mysteriously disappeared. We should help the homeless, but we should also be prudent to protect our lives and our family. But we can never be certain that we are safe giving hospitality. They could not be in Bible times either, but they were commanded to be hospitable anyway.

Christians should be loving and trusting, but Christians should be prudent and have discernment too. Sometimes if there is a choice between not being hospitable but safe, or being hospitable and being very risky, look to sere if there is a third choice, of being hospitable without being too risky.


6. In Heb 13:3, how do we show hospitality to, and remember those who just got out of prison?

A: Showing hospitality to prisoners must be very considered very important to Jesus, because in Matthew 25:36,39,43-44, Jesus said that the sheep on His right visited those in prison, and the goats on His left did not. There are at least three things we can do.

While they are in prison we can visit them, give them scriptures, Bible Studies, or anything they need. You can write letters to them. Let them know that they are still loved and valued, even those who did wrong. We should especially visit those we knew before, so they know they are not forgotten.

While they are away from their home, we can help watch, manage, or sell anything they want us to do for them.

After they get out of prison, we can help with a halfway house, and help them get a place to live, a job, and a good, Bible-believing church to go to.

We should consider their plight as important as our situation, as Philippians 2:3-4 implies. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says that if one part of the body suffers, all suffer.


7. In Heb 13:4, why is it important to keep the marriage bed pure?

A: Because God says so is in itself reason enough. In addition to that, it dishonors your spouse, and more importantly, yourself, when you don't. Since expect that your spouse would not fool around, you should not either. You should not take your spouse for granted. Likewise you should not take having a good witness for granted either, or setting a good example for your children and others.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.147 says that in the first century, as well as in our own, some people thought that chastity outside of marriage was an unreasonable demand. This thinking was (and is) an evil lie.

Christians should be bold in proclaiming this. According to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2208, the Reformation bishop Latimer presented to King Henry VIII a finely wrapped Bible. On the wrapping were the words "Fornicators and adulterers God will judge."


8. In Heb 13:5-6 and 1 Tim 6:10, what do we need to do today to keep ourselves from the love of money?

A: Besides this being a command, we need to obey for our own happiness too. This is a command for everyone, because many people, not just wealthy ones, are consumed by the pursuit of wealth. The love of money can dampen our love for God, and our love for others. If we are not careful, greed, fear, and a preoccupation with security can appear more important to us than following God. But God is our measure of success, our defender, and our security. In Philippians 4:11 Paul said he learned how to be content with money and without.

Likewise some might think that having money can protect them from other people. But Psalm 118:6 says we are not to fear people because the LORD is my helper. Greed can rob us of joy in this life, and heavenly rewards in the next.


9. In Heb 13:7, to what extent should we imitate our leaders in the faith?

A: First who are the leaders, and second what are we to imitate.

First, in other Greek literature refers to princes and military commanders. The English word "hegemony" is derived from this Greek word, hegeomai. The Christian leaders, both official and unofficial, who guide us or are in authority over us should be good examples.

Second, we should follow their example. We should follow their example they are setting now, but imitate their outcome likely means their life has ended. We should try to understand them, and learn from their life and teaching. On the other hand, everyone has sins and shortcomings, and we are not to emulate those.

Third, we can try to understand what motivates them to serve God well, and ask ourselves if we should have the same motivation.


 

Hebrews 13:9-25 ' Devoting ourselves to God Better ' some brief answers


1. In Heb 13:8, since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, how could He empty Himself to come to earth, as Php 2:5-7 teaches?

A: Jesus was the same in two ways.

1. Jesus was still Himself, before, during, and after He was on earth. This also illustrates a point about the Trinity. The Trinity is not a temporary thing, which will eventually dissolve into total oneness. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), they will always be a Trinity.

2. Even for the Divine attributes that Jesus temporarily and voluntarily emptied Himself of, Hebrews 13:8 refers to yesterday (prior to earth) today (after His ascension) and forever (all eternity future). It does not exclude that Jesus emptied Himself of some attributes for a short time.


2. In Heb 13:9, what is the attractiveness of strange/foreign teachings?

A: The term for "many here, poikilais, means multi-colored, such as a patchwork garment. This does not refer to Judaism, but rather new and mysterious religions, whether mystery religions or prophetically to the many Gnostic groups. It can also refer to a strange compromise with Judaism, which the Ebionites followed. Today people can be attracted to a mixture of Christianity plus something else, or things that claim to be at least in part Christian, but actually are not Christian at all.

Both then and now, people can have a pointless curiosity towards anything that is different. If someone believes something is foolish, one might want to learn certain things in order to refute their errors, bring them to Christ, and defend the flock and others from their teachings. But beyond that, there is no need to know.


3. In Heb 13:12, how would you answer the criticism that Christianity is a bloody religion?

A: Guilty as charged; it is a core teaching of Christianity. Some people might not like that, but God did not ask for our opinion. God's teaching in the Old Testament scriptures emphasizes animal blood sacrifices. God's teaching in the New Testament scriptures emphasizes Jesus shedding His blood on the cross to die for our sins and rise again. So a bloodless Christianity is not a genuine Christianity at all. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 even says that if you do not believe Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead your faith is in vain.


4. In Heb 13:15, how do we continuously offer to God a sacrifice of praise today?

A: We can offer our lives to God as a sacrifice in many ways, but this specifically refers to a sacrifice to praise. Our life should be one big "Praise God!" What people hear from our lips should not be bitterness, cursing, complaining, or cussing, but praise to God. It is not only what you do that is important, but your attitude while doing it, and people will hear your attitude by your words. We can praise God with our words to Him and others, but we can also praise God with the bad stuff we refrain from speaking. Yes, we can praise God with the words that come out of our mouth during the church service, but we can also praised God with the words that come out of our mouths when we are stuck in heavy traffic.

Hosea 14:1-3 says, "O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of you iniquity: Take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips."


5. In Heb 13:17 and 1 Peter 5:2-4, how are we to obey our leaders?

A: We obey them as the command things the scripture says, or at least do not go against scripture. Of course our ultimate authority is God Himself, but we can learn about Him by what He has revealed. He gave His word without error. Other believers can speak truth too, but they can speak error also. That is why scripture is our main authority.

However, God's revealed scripture, from which our authority comes from, says that elders have authority over the church. So it establishes an authority for godly leaders too. We are only to obey our leaders as they follow Christ. Someone once said that you are foolish if you don't pray for the leaders you are supposed to obey.

It is a noble thing for anyone to desire to be an overseer in the church (1 Timothy 3:1). A church leader should have a good reputation (1 Timothy 3:2,8). He should be respectable, and we should give them our respect (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17). Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19); but then publicly rebuke (and kick out) elders if the accusation is true (1 Timothy 5:20).


6. Since Heb 13:17 says that our leaders have authority over us, what about "sola scriptura"?

A: Sola scriptura means only scripture as our authority. Scripture teaches us that God and His word are our highest authority. But God's scripture says that our godly leaders a lesser authority too. Once I had an email exchange with a Christian brother in Africa, who refused to read any religious books or tracts except for the Bible. While this would keep him from being deceived by many false teachings, he was cutting himself off from many wise insights fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord had written. They might have helped him grow, as well as help defend the faith. So in a sense Christians should not sola scriptura, like this guy was, but rather primo scriptura, God's Word is our highest authority, because these are the words of God.

But what about leaders who are not godly? We should have nothing to do with unholy people, leaders or not, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. When some people say sola scriptura (only scripture), they might really mean primo scriptura, but it is somewhat of a simplification. Here is a fuller picture.

Our ultimate authority is God and only God. But many people can claim God said many things to them. How do we know for sure what God said? We can only know based on what the people He appointed have said. Ephesians 2:20 says the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. So under God, we need to ask the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. So it was really7 the Old Testament and apostles as the authority for the first 20 to 40 years of the church. But since the age of the Old Testament prophets has ended, and since the time of the New Testament apostles has passed, we can know by the writings they have left behind. Hence sola scriptura.

Many have claimed authority equal to the apostles, such as popes, but since their words have contradicted what was in scripture, as well as contradicting each other, many were imposters.

If someone were to contest that many were imposter spokesmen of God. ask then to justify the following:

Zephyrinus (199-217) Sabellian and supported Sabellians, per Hippolytus

Callistus I (218-222) Sabellian and supported Sabellians, falsifying the truth, per Caius and Hippolytus

Stephen VI (896-897) cadaver synod. De-fingered the corpse of Pope Formosus. He was later murdered.

Innocent III made possible the future Papal States. Condemned the English Magna Carta.

Sergius III (904-911) Marozia was his mistress. He allegedly fathered Pope John XI

Benedict IX (1032-1044,1045,1047-1048) sexual immorality. He sold the papacy and abdicated.

Celestine V (1294-1294 or 1296-1296) Nearly all of his official acts were nullified by his successor, the ruthless Boniface VIII. Celestine was murdered after resigning. Boniface ordered a crusade against the Colonna family.

Boniface VIII (1294-1303) involved in many wars. He wrote the Unum Sanctum. He died of "chagrin" shortly after his imprisonment.

(A good thing) Benedict XI (1303-1304) reversed Boniface VIII's 1302 papal bull Unam Sanctam.

Urban VI (1378-1389) said he did not hear enough screaming when some were tortured

Sixtus IV (1471-1484) Nepotism: made three nephews, one grandnephew, and one other relative cardinals. Papal bull Exigit Sincerae Devotionis Affectus to spread the Spanish Inquisition to Castille. He had the Venetians attack the city of Ferrara, for a nephew. Sold offices and privileges for money. Promoted the immaculate conception. He confirmed Nicholas V's bulls for Portuguese to enslave non-Christians.

Innocent VIII (1484-1492) Appointed Torquemada as an inquisitor. Endorsed burning witches in the papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus (1484)

Alexander VI (1492-1503) nepotism. Made 25,000 ducats by allowing the king of Hungary to divorce his wife. Allowed Charles VIII of France to marry someone betrothed to another because France was more useful to the papacy.


7. In Heb 13:20-21, how does God equip us with everything good for doing His will?

A: As we serve God, He is in the process of equipping us to serve Him better and more effectively. God equips us to work with others too. Of course if a person is not trying to serve God at all, then there would be no need for additional gifts to serve Him better.

There is a second aspect here too. The Greek word here, katartizo, can also mean to mend what is broken, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.155. We don't just need God to give us the gifts and abilities to serve Him, we also need Him to remove the impediments, limitations, and stumbling blocks too. As we serve God, God can "fix" us to serve Him better too.

God gives us what we need. However, it seems that God does NOT always give an individual believer everything that individual believer needs. Rather, God gives different things to different people, and an abundance that one believer has is for the purpose of giving to another that is without, so only be helping each other out do we each get all that we need., as 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 teaches.


8. In Heb 13:23, what unique thing does this tell us about Timothy?

A: While the word for "released" can mean starting on a journey, as in Acts 13:3; 28:25, here it most likely means released from prison according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.157. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1149 also says this refers to Timothy's being imprisoned.


9. In Heb 13:24, what are ways we can especially greet saints today?

A: In church, at work, and in life recognize other believers and make them feel welcome and among friends. Show that you genuinely care about them. Treat them fairly, show that you love them, and want to be around them. After all, if you are going to be with those people forever in Heaven, you might as well get to know them a little better right now.



by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.