Author: Ron Graham
Key Verses in Hebrews
—Showing the main idea in the letter
Our first lesson in the epistle to the Hebrews selects some key verses. Noticing these will help to introduce and commend the letter to us. So from the outset, we will be aware of the main idea in the letter, which is the authority exercised by Jesus as our great High Priest.
1 Theme Verses
The first few verses in each of the first three chapters are "nutshell" verses. They express the great theme which concerns the writer to the Hebrews.
This theme in Hebrews is that God has spoken to us through Jesus Christ his Son and our great High Priest, so we should pay attention to his message and fix our thoughts upon him.
- Hebrews 1:1-4
Today God speaks through his Son.
- Hebrews 2:1-3
We have heard what Jesus says and we should pay much more attention to what we have heard.
- Hebrews 3:1-3
We should consider (fix our thoughts on) Jesus as our great High Priest, and not neglect the great salvation that he preached.
2 The Two Natures of Christ
- The authority of Jesus Christ and his divine nature
In the opening statements noted above, and the following discussion in chapter one (comparing Christ to angels), there has been an emphasis on the divine nature of Christ and his superior authority deriving from it.
- The obedience of Jesus and his human nature
Now, in chapter two, the discussion turns to the fleshly nature of Jesus "made a little lower than the angels" by virtue of which Jesus, as an obedient and faithful Son, was able to become a merciful and faithful High Priest who made atonement for everyone by the sacrifice of himself.
3 A Key Quote From the Old Testament
Psalms 110:4 This key prophecy, "The Lord has sworn, and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'", is quoted twice in Hebrews, and is the basis of some very strong and crucial arguments.
- The authority of Christ’s priesthood (Hebrews 5:6-10)
The prophecy is introduced in chapter five, mainly to show the priestly authority of Jesus Christ the Son of God. He did not appoint himself, but was called and designated as a high priest by God.
- Three other key characteristics of Christ’s priesthood (Hebrews 7:11-28)
The prophecy is examined in more depth in chapter seven, which is an exposition of the three points in the prophecy that demonstrate the superiority of Christ’s priesthood
- (1) He was a priest forever. He rose from the dead and ascended into the heavens and lives forever. The priesthood of old was subject to the vicissitude occasioned by death.
- (2) He was a priest like Melchizedek. Melchizedek held the two offices of priest and king. He was superior to Abraham because he blessed and received tithes from Abraham (Hebrews 7:1-10). So the order of Melchizedek’s priesthood was superior to the order of Levi and Aaron the descendants of Abraham.
- (3) He became a priest through an oath sworn by God. The appointment of the priests of old was significantly without oath. Christ’s appointment to priesthood, by comparison, was based on an oath sworn by God. An oath sworn by God has the highest authority.
The Hebrew writer shows how these points make the priesthood of Christ infinitely superior to the old priesthood, which had none of these advantages.
4 Steps By Which the Gospel Came to Us
Hebrews 2:1-5 These key verses develop the opening statement of the epistle, that "in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son..." (Hebrews 1:1). The Hebrew writer now describes the steps by which the gospel of Jesus Christ came to us.
- Step 1. The gospel message first began to be spoken by the Lord. Thus the original preacher of the gospel was God himself.
- Step 2. It was confirmed to the Hebrew writer and other Christians of the second generation, by witnesses who had personally listened to Jesus.
- Step 3. Their testimony and message was confirmed by the Holy Spirit performing signs, wonders, and various miracles.
- Step 4. The message was then passed on to all Christians through the writer to the Hebrews and other New Testament writers. When he says, "we are speaking of the world to come" (Hebrews 2:5) he is claiming to represent the gospel first spoken by the Lord and confirmed by witnesses and by the Holy Spirit.
It is important to understand these steps, and especially to accept that...
- Jesus was the first to preach the gospel,
- He did so while in the flesh but with authority from heaven
- He enabled his disciples to complete what he had begun,
- His message deserves our confidence because it has been passed on to us in a trustworthy manner.