Dec 15, 2019: The Gospel in Hebrews*

The book of Hebrews unfolds the gospel in at least three ways: 1) it shows the connection between Christ’s person and his work, 2) shows his superiority to Old Testament persons and institutions, 3) underscores humanity’s need for redemption.

First, Hebrews remarkably combines the person and work of Christ. Chapter 1 teaches the deity of Christ as powerfully as any place in Scripture. Chapter 2 highlights Christ’s humanity. Chapters 7–9 constitute the most extensive teaching on Christ’s priesthood and atoning sacrifice. What is the point? The person of Christ as God and man constitutes the basis for his saving work. His identity undergirds his performing the unique saving deeds of dying for sinners and rising from the dead. Because he is God, he is able to save us, for only God can save. Because he became a man of flesh and blood, he is able to save us, for one from our human race died in our place and overcame death and the Devil in his resurrection.

Second, Hebrews shows Christ’s superiority to Old Testament persons and institutions. He is the great and final Prophet, far surpassing Old Testament mediators of revelation—prophets and angels (ch. 1). Therefore, the gospel that he brought is even more important than the law that was given to Moses through angels (2:1–4; Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19). He is superior to Moses, Aaron, and all Israel’s subsequent high priests (Heb. 3:6; chs. 5; 7). This is because Jesus is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek who, unlike the sons of Aaron, lives forever and thus has a perpetual priesthood. He is the Great High Priest who presents himself as the final offering, bringing the end to the act of sacrifice and saving, to the uttermost, those who come to God through him (chs. 9–10).

Third, Hebrews underscores humanity’s need for redemption. As children of Adam we are fallen, and we do not exercise proper dominion over creation (2:8). We are held in bondage by the fear of death and by him who had the power of death, the Devil (2:14–15). Left to ourselves, like Israel of old, our hearts are unbelieving and rebellious (chs. 3–4). We are unclean and need Christ’s purifying blood, his violent death, to be cleansed to serve the living God (9:14, 23; 10:22). Even as believers we are prone to wander from our first love and thus, we need God’s warnings, exhortations, and grace to persevere. In a word, we are needy sinners in need of a gracious and mighty Saviour. And that is just what God has provided in his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ.

Outline of Hebrews

  • Jesus Is Superior to Angelic Beings (1:1–2:18)
  • Jesus Is Superior to the Mosaic Law (3:1–10:18)
  • Call to Faith and Endurance (10:19–12:29)
  • Concluding Encouragements and Remarks (13:1–25)

* Taken from ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

This week’s bible reading column:

Monday: Romans 16 Thursday: Hebrews 3
Tuesday: Hebrews 1 Friday: Hebrews 4
Wednesday: Hebrews 2 Saturday: Hebrews 5