“The Excellency of Jesus Christ, the Mediator of a Better Covenant”
A Summary of the Book of Hebrews (So Far)
By Rev. Martyn McGeown, Missionary-pastor of the Covenant PRC, Ballymena, N.Ireland working in Limerick, Ireland
The letter is written to Hebrew Christians, that is, those who have converted to Christ from Judaism, and who are under pressure to depart from Christ. Hebrews proves that Jesus Christ is superior to all OT types (Moses, Aaron, the tabernacle, the temple, etc.) and contains many sharp warnings against apostasy, and many exhortations to perseverance.
Chapter 1: Christ is superior to the angels
Hebrews 1:1-4 opens with a magnificent description of who Jesus is and what He has done. Jesus is Jehovah’s final word to His people, the old ways of prophecy, etc. having ceased. We learn here who He is (“the brightness [effulgence, radiance; not merely reflection] of God’s glory; the express image [impress, stamp, exact representation or likeness] of His person [being]). This is a powerful testimony to the Deity of the Son. The Son 1) made the worlds (John 1:3); 2) upholds all things (providence; Col. 1:17); 3) purged our sins; 4) sat down at God’s Right Hand. The Son, being God, became 1) the heir of all things (Rom 8:16-17); 2) was made better than the angels; 3) obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than the angels. This, of course, is true of the Son of God Incarnate. In Hebrews 1:5-14 we are given proof from the OT. In contrast the angels are called created, ministering [servants] spirits. In v. 8, the Son is even addressed as God from Ps. 45:6-7. The angels have no kingdom, but the Son has a kingdom (Ps. 45:6-7; 102:25-27). The Son is superior, also, because He is eternal, and because He (unlike the angels) sits at God’s Right Hand.
Chapter 2: Christ is superior to angels (contd.).
Hebrews 2:1-4 is a warning against apostasy in light of who Christ is.
Hebrews 2:5ff. resumes the subject of the superiority of Christ to the angels. The world to come was not placed into subjection to angels, but to Christ (Ps. 8:4-6), but before Christ was exalted, He suffered humiliation for our salvation. There is a close union between the “captain” (v. 10) and the “sons” (v. 10) or “children” (v. 14). He became Incarnate to be a high priest for them.
Chapter 3: Christ s superior to Moses
The writer never denigrates Moses, but honours him as a faithful servant (v. 2), but the Son is greater, because He is not a servant in the house, but “over the house” (v. 6), because He builds the house, which act of building proves His Deity (v. 4). We prove ourselves to be (part of) that house by preserving to the end (v. 6).
Hebrews 3:7-4:16 is a lengthy warning and exhortation not to do what Israel did in the wilderness (see Ps. 95). Unbelievers within Israel did not enter God’s rest (3:11, 19), which was a typical rest (the land of Canaan); unbelievers in the church will not enter God’s rest (heaven). Israel despised the promise, the gospel and the word. Thus they despised God and Christ, and perished.
Chapter 4: An exhortation to enter God’s rest.
Various typical rests are discussed (the Sabbath day; the land of Canaan in Joshua’s day [Jesus = Joshua in v. 8]). The chapter ends with a call to come to the throne of grace through our High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Chapter 5: The superiority of Christ’s priesthood.
We learn here that the priest had to be 1) taken from the people, 2) compassionate because he knew his weaknesses; 3) called/ordained by God Himself. Christ Himself was called by God, and prepared by God through sufferings, but His call was not according to Levi, but acc. to the order of Melchizedek. The instruction concerning Melchizedek is interrupted until 7:1 in order that the writer might rebuke the people for their dullness (5:11) and warn them against apostasy (6:4-6). The apostates of Hebrews 6:4-6 are not regenerated believers but false professors in the church who experience something of the gospel and despise it. They only “taste” these things; they do not benefit from them. The writer mixes severe warnings with tender encouragement (6:9-12) and exhortations to believe God’s promises, using Abraham as an example, and God’s oath to Abraham as an encouragement (6:13-20). With that, we pick up the subject of Melchizedek.
... To be continued, DV ....
Rev. Martyn McGeown
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010.Website: www.limerickreformed.com/
Address38 Abbeyvale, Corbally
Telephone(011) 35361 635582