Hebrews 13 – A "brief" Note

Read Hebrews 13

As the author of Hebrews concludes the letter with the customary final greetings, he/she encourages the audience to take what has been written, especially the exhortations (appeals, advice, arguments, persuasion, etc.) seriously.  This letter, the author says, is much briefer than it could have been.

Certainly, that is true of all the writing of Scripture.  There is so much more to say on all of these topics.  John, at the end of his Gospel, attests to this as well:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.  John 21:25

That being said, Scripture doesn’t continue on in this way.  I think of the many dozens of books that I was encouraged to read in seminary, tens of thousands of pages, and the thousands upon thousands of books that have been written on Scripture and theology; we could go on forever… and will!!  But the author here has a way of summing it all up in a couple of “brief” exhortations.

Keep on Loving – This first and primary exhortation is the crux of the whole Gospel, the whole Law, and all of Scripture.  Keep on loving God.  Keep on loving each other.  The author offers some practical ways in which this can be lived out but essentially the message is the same as Jesus’ message in Matthew 25, “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me.”

Hold to sound teaching – This is a message that endures throughout the New Testament.  As the church continued to grow, it continually faced a number of different threats from different groups that would offer “new teachings” or “new revelations.”  These, however, often steered people way from the faith and away from grace.  They were in direct contradiction of Jesus statement in John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Pray – Prayer is a continual exhortation throughout Scripture as well.  Paul writes that we should “pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”  Jesus too taught His disciples to pray and modeled a prayer life that we are called to follow.  Even at the right hand of God, Jesus is said to be praying, interceding for us on our behalf before the Father.

There is so much more to say here.  But, I suppose, I should take my cue from the author of Hebrews and keep it “brief.”  Much more will come as we begin our reading of James!



Hebrews 10 – Once for All

Read Hebrews 10

As the author has been working to draw forward many of the themes of the Old Testament, he or she has also been showing how Jesus Christ fulfills many of those things in His life, death, and resurrection.  He perfectly and eternally fills the Old Testament offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.  The Law is also fulfilled through Him.  Jesus is the realization of God’s redemptive plan, worked out over a couple thousand years!

One of the reasons and ways that Christ fulfills all of these things is that He is the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  The “Once for All” nature of Jesus’ work on the cross is an important theological point that cannot readily be overlooked.  Old Testament sacrifices were continuous because the blood of animals and the sacrificial system were, as the author states, “only a shadow of good things that are coming…”  They were never meant to be an end unto themselves.

Jesus Christ was that end, the great sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  He was the perfect “Passover lamb,” the perfect “atonement offering.”  After Him, no other sacrifices were required.

While this is an important theological point made in Scripture, it is emphasized in Reformed Theology because of its intentional distancing for Roman Catholic tenants.  For Catholics, every time Mass was celebrated, Jesus Christ was said to be “re-crucified” or “re-sacrificed.”  For reasons made clear in Hebrews 10, a constant “re-sacrifice” is not at all necessary or theologically correct.

With all of this said, the Author moves on to talk about the application of this truth in the life of faith.  Jesus has opened the way for us to draw near to God once again.  Jesus was the “curtain,” that which separated the people from God in the Temple.  When Jesus died, the curtain was torn, a moment signifying that the barrier had been broken and our relationship with God can be restored.