Lesson #1


The Better Book of the New Testament


     The book of the Hebrews is the riddle book of the New
Testament.  It contains the most perfect Greek of the Bible yet it
stands without telling us who the author is.  It is as much like a
sermon as it is an epistle.  In fact in the words of the author it is called
a "word of exhortation" (or encouragement) in 13:22, which is what
a sermon is called in Acts 13:15.  [Barnabas was called "the son of
exhortation" or son of encouragement.]


     Why was the letter written?  We see several things the author
apparently wanted to accomplish.  First, he wanted to encourage
faltering Jewish Christians not to drift away from the message which
they have heard  (2:1; 5:12-14; 12:1-2). Some seemed about to
forsake Christ and the Gospel and go back to the Law of Moses.

     And second, he wanted to encourage them to grow in their faith
and not become stagnant (5:12-6:1).

     Third, they should be prepared to endure persecution.


     There are five great "exhortation" passages in the book where the
writer exhorts them to hold to the Word that God has spoken through
his Son (cf. Heb. 1:1-2).  In turning away from Christ and the Gospel
they were in danger of:

          Drifting from the Word -- 2:1-4
          Doubting the Word -- 3:7-4:13
          Dullness toward the Word -- 5:11-6:20
          Despising the Word -- 10:26-39
          Defying the Word -- 12:14-29

     Key Word: BETTER

     The book of Hebrews can be called the "BETTER" Book of the
New Testament.  The word "better" occurs some 13 times and apply
describes the New Covenant in relation to the Old. The Dupont
company has a slogan, "Building better things through chemistry." 
The slogan of Hebrews could well be, "Building better things through
the blood of Jesus."

                           SUPERIOR TO THE PROPHETS

     The epistle exalts the person and the work of Christ. The first
three verses set forth this high and holy theme which is maintained
throughout the entire book.  Immediately it is demonstrated that Jesus
Christ is superior to the prophets, men who were held in the highest
esteem by the Jewish people and who had ministered in giving Israel
God's Word.

     Christ was superior to the prophets in his person because he was
the very son of God, and the "express image" of the Father (1:3). 
This carried the idea of "the exact imprint." It means that Jesus Christ
is "the exact representation of the very substance of God" (See Col. 
2:9 and John 14:9).

     Christ was superior to the prophets in his work.  To begin with He
is the Creator of the universe: for by Him, God "made the worlds"
(Heb. 1:2).  Not only did Christ create all things by His Word (John
1:1-5), but He also upholds all things by that same powerful Word
(1:3).  "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [hold
together]" (Col. 1:17).

     The word "upholding" (1:3) does not mean "holding up," as
though the universe is a burden on the back of Jesus like Atlas is
pictured holding up the world.  But it means He is the God of
Creation and providence who guides this universe on its course.

     Christ is also the superior Prophet who declares God's Word.  The
contrast between Christ "The Prophet" and the other prophets of the
Old Covenant are easy to see:

             Christ                The Prophets
          God the Son         Men called by God
          One Son               Many prophets
          A final and            A fragmentary and
             complete                incomplete 
             message                message

     Of course, both the Old Testament and the Gospel revelation came
from God; but Jesus Christ was God's "last word" as far as revelation
is concerned.  Christ is the source, center, and end of everything that
God has to say.

                         SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS

     Hebrews 1:4-14 affirms that Christ is not only superior to the
prophets, but also to the angels of heaven.  Jesus wore a name no
angel could wear, "son".  As God and Creator He  was  to  be 
worshipped (1:6),  but no angel was to be. ("Firstborn" in the Bible
does not mean "born first."  It speaks of rank and honor.  God made
Solomon the firstborn (Ps. 89:27) even though Solomon is listed tenth
in the official genealogy, I Chron. 3:1-5.)

     Christ's superiority to angels is seen in that he was served by them
(1:7), and that He is Creator (1:10-12). Christ stands sovereign with
the angels as servants even to us (1:13-14).


     Not only does Hebrews present Christ as superior to the Old
Testament prophets, (with Christ God's Prophet today); but the Lord
has a ministry as PRIEST.  He "purged our sins" and this aspect of his
ministry is detailed in  chapters 7 - 10.

     And also Christ reigns as KING.  He has sat down at the place of
honor "on the right hand of the majesty on high." This too proves is
Deity, for no mere created being could ever sit on God's throne at His
right hand!


     In our study of Hebrews we will not try to cover the entire book,
but future lessons will zero in on certain chapters and studying how
they manifest the superiority of

     Christ and that His ministry in the New Covenant is "BETTER"
than the 'shadows' found in the Old.


1.   What kind of Greek does the Epistle to the Hebrews contain?
2.   As much as being an "epistle", the book of Hebrews is also a .
3.   Name at least one reason the book was probably written? 
4.   What is our key word for the book and how many times does it
5.   What is the basic "comparison" that is made throughout the book
      of Hebrews?
6.   How had the prophets ministered to Israel?
7.   Why was Christ superior to the Prophets "in his person?" 
8.   Name one way Christ was superior to the Old Testament Prophets
      in his work?
9.   What name (or title) did Jesus wear that none other can wear in
      the same sense?
10.  What does "firstborn" mean when applied in its symbolic
11.  What three roles is Jesus pictured as fulfilling in the book of
       Hebrews?  1_ _ _ _ _ _ _     2 _ _ _ _ _ _ _   3 _ _  _ _ _ _ _ 

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