Archive | July, 2015

6 Ways Christ is Better (pt 1)

July 25, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 2, Part 1
Lesson Texts: Hebrews 1:4-16, Hebrews 2:5-18, Hebrews 3:1-6


In Lesson 1, we learned how the Hebrews author wanted to make sure the Christians that came from Judaism were aware of Christ’s qualifications. They were falling away and returning to the old ways because they either were not comfortable, or they were subject to the increasing persecutions of Christians. He described Christ with seven credentials that would have carried a lot of weight within the context of the Jewish culture.

If you haven’t yet. Read the full Lesson 1 text.

To summarize, the credentials of Christ can be found in Hebrews 1:1-3. In order of appearance:

  • He is the heir of all things
  • He is the creator of all things
  • He radiates excellence
  • He is the image of God
  • He is the sustaining force
  • He purchased our sins
  • He sits at God’s right hand

The Jews of the day would have understood these legal and logical arguments. Even traditional laws then and now can be used to prove Christ’s authority. As if these reasons are not enough, the writer continues by showing how Christ is better than the things the Jews held sacred. He walks the reader through all of the devices that God gave to the children of Israel and shows how they were just shadows of the real things to come (Hebrews 8:5) – That is to say Christ, his church, and our reward.


One of the keywords of Hebrews is “Better.” The writer draws a number of parallels throughout Hebrews between Old and New Testament doctrine. In fact, Hebrews shows us why we need to study the Old Testament even though we are no longer subject to its laws. Many of the commands, events, and explanations of the New Testament make no sense without a full understanding of the old Law.

For the Hebrews reader contemplating lapsing back into Judaism, a list of reasons why Christianity is better is presented as an overarching theme. In order of how they are presented in the text, Christ is:

  • … better than angels (Hebrews 1:4-14, Hebrews 2:5-18)
  • … greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6)
  • … the greatest high priest (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) – Covered in part 2
  • … a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:1-10:39) – Covered in part 2
  • … a priest like Melchizedek (better than the Levites) – Lesson 3
  • … a better testator and delivered a better covenant – Lesson 4

It is difficult to tell someone that something they have studied and believed all of their life is flawed. The Hebrews writer was quite bold to have made a statement about the flaws of the first covenant and the better promises of Christ. (Hebrews 8:6-7) People are no different now. Pointing out what is flawed in the doctrines they grew up with is sensitive business. When we take on the task, we should be as prepared as the Hebrew writer was when he laid out these arguments.

Better Than Angels

Hebrews 1:4-16 introduces the argument that the angels where intended to be servants. Since angels were considered by the Jews as beings to be worshiped, this is a great place to start. The writer compares what Scripture says about angels vs. the Son of God and his deity:

  • He is the Son of God (Hebrews 1:5) – Attributes Psalm 2:7 as referring to Christ and is backed up by Peter in Acts 4:25 and Paul in Acts 13:33 applying Psalm 2 to Christ.
  • The angels were to worship him (Hebrews 1:6) – This was a reference to Psalm 97:7
  • The angels are servants (Hebrews 1:7) – Not only were the angels not sons, they are referred to as servants. (Psalm 104:4) The angels were once thought by the Jews to be the managers of the wind and fire.
  • Christ is God (Hebrews 1:8-9) – The writer quotes Psalm 45:6-7 and attributes it to God calling the Son God. Other passages that do the same: John 1:1, Act 20:28, Philippians 2:6, 2 Peter 1:1 and so on.
  • Christ is God and Creator (Hebrews 1:10-12) – and he will outlast all he created. Quoted from Psalm 102:25-27.
  • Christ was assigned to defeat our enemies (Hebrews 1:13) – Quoted from Psalm 110:1. Christ told us he sits at the right hand of power (Mark 14:62) and Paul said he is reigning until he hands the kingdom over to God (1 Corinthians 15:25)

While we do not hear much about angel worshiping today, it is good to see the arguments of just how heavenly and glorious Jesus’ presence was on earth. As glorious as angels are made out to be, Hebrews 1:14 reminds us that they serve those who are eligible to inherit salvation.

For the sake of continuing the discussion of angels, we will skim Hebrews 2:1-4 for now and come back to it in a later lesson. It is considered by some writers to be a deviation from the main topic. I prefer to refer to it as a warning. In the context of angels, the warning reminded the Jews to be careful about focusing on the angels at the expense of understanding the salvation Christ offers.

Hebrews 2:5-9 begins bringing the discussion of the angels to a head by quoting Psalm 8:4-6. At first glance, it feels a little like a contradiction. The writer has just contrasted Christ’s superiority to angels and then quotes these verses from Psalm 8:4-5 that appear to say he was a little lower than angels.

There is no contradiction. The verse is about man. “Man” refers to Adam and “Son of Man” refers to people after the fall(1). Our first inclination is to read that as referring Christ, but it is simply a poetic way to refer to man. Man, originally perfect in God’s image, was to be in control of all of creation. Sadly, with Adam’s sin, man lost that position and we cannot see creation in subjection to man. (v8)

Likewise, Hebrews 2:9, the writer says that Christ was brought a little lower than the angels for a little while. Even if this is considered an exception or even a little contradictory, it was for a sacrificial purpose so important that it “crowned the Lord with honor and glory.”

Jesus came in the form of a man who can exercise dominion over creation and then lowered himself to point that he could experience death for all man’s sake. This completed the perfection intended for man before his fall and laid the foundation for his salvation.

Prefect Salvation

And the foundation he laid was perfection!

Through Christ’s suffering, he perfected salvation to the point that he can call us brothers. (v10-14) That suffering made Jesus real and proved he was of the same flesh and blood as we are. He not only suffered for us, but a lot like us. (v14ff) (Remember that the Christians were backsliding partially because of persecution)

Imagine that! If we are in a saved state, we are so closely related to Christ that he will speak of us as his family.

And he did it for us, not the angels. (v16) The angels have no concept of the suffering, the challenges and the temptations that people have to go through. Christ went through his suffering and humiliation so he would know. Now that he knows, he knows how to help us through all of the challenges of life.


  1. Coffman, Clark, Lightfoot and others.

Greater than Moses

Moses brought the Law down from God, so it makes sense that the Hebrews writer would take some time to cover him. Moses and Jesus compare and contrast so well, the writer is able to use common knowledge about Moses to help his audience have a better understanding of who Jesus was.

Speaking of using the Old Testament to study the Gospel, this is a good place to remind ourselves that the Hebrews writer (and for that matter, all the New Testament writers and apostles) possessed only the Old Testament in written form at the time this letter was written. They might have had access to some of the other letters in circulation, but I doubt they were given the same weight by the Jews as the church began to give them. Since every chapter of Hebrews has a reference to the Old Testament, we get a great sense of how Christ and the Gospel can be taught from within its pages.

Take a few minutes to consider these comparisons of Moses and Christ:

  • Both were Israelites – The prophesies of the Messiah said he was coming from their countrymen. (Deuteronomy 18:15)
  • Both were rejected (Exodus 2:14)
  • Both left better circumstances to serve: Moses from Pharaoh’s palace and Jesus from heaven
  • Both performed signs and wonders (Their first: water to blood/water to wine)

And then contrast them:

  • Moses a servant, Christ the Son
  • Moses was sinful, Christ is sinless (Deuteronomy 32:51,52; Hebrews 4:15)
  • Moses delivered God’s people from physical bondage, Christ delivered us from the spiritual bondage of sin
  • Moses’ mission pertained only to Israel, Christ’s, ultimately, to the “whole creation” (Mark 16:15)

In looking at our text, (Hebrews 3:1-6) we see the writer appeal to the Jew’s heritage and reasoning to prove that Christ was the one appointed from God and was faithful to God’s house, just like Moses. (v2)

Notice also how the writer refers back to Hebrews 1:2 and compares Christ the creator to Moses the creation:

  • The Carpenter deserves greater glory than the house he builds (v3-4)
  • Christ was the Son of God, his faithfulness is better and better qualified since he is the creator.
  • Christians are a part of God’s house as long as they persevere. (Hebrews 3:6)

The significance of these two statements is that we are no longer subject to a servant, but to the creator himself!

Since there are no more first century Christians struggling with falling back to Judaism, we might want to take a bit to consider how this applies to us. Our struggle is not in trying to hold onto the teachings of Moses, but in trying to hold on to the teachings of the world.

It seems like every year, worldly people are shaming Christians into going along with a new version of what is “good.”

Every year, what was once rightly considered shameful is celebrated.

I would even say that we have forgotten a lot of what we are supposed to be ashamed of! (Jeremiah 6:15) To prove what I am talking about, ask someone that was a young adult in the 1950’s what people thought about those who were divorced. I promise you they carried a stigma and even more so for women.

Again, we can look at the warning of Hebrews 2:1-4 to pay attention. We are at risk of letting the world pull us back into its sinful ways rather than remembering and practicing what we have been taught in God’s word.


Lesson two is broken into multiple parts so we can give proper attention to the some of the more challenging points it covers. Just like the Hebrews writer had to be ready to completely argue his point, so should we be ready. Not completely understanding the Scriptures and not putting in the time to understand them is another one of the themes of Hebrews.

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7 Reasons Christ is King

July 18, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 1
Lesson Text: Hebrews 1


We just do not know the author of Hebrews – There are plenty of great guesses and reasons to favor who the author might be, but instead of self-credit, he jumped right into the text with urgency. So we will too.

Hebrews opens with the writer explaining the superiority of Christ over all of the devices of the Jews – the law, the prophets – Judaism in general. Some of the Jews worked hard to discredit Christ as the one they were expecting as was written in the prophets, but many came to realize the truth.

Hebrews was written to encourage new Christians, mostly those converted from Judaism, during a difficult time. (Old Testament Scripture and History are repeated in every chapter) It also deals rather sharply with those who know Christ but are falling back to the old way despite what they have learned.


The converts were discouraged and therefore drifting away, disobeying, and disengaging.  We get the feeling from Hebrews 10:26-29 they were getting downright disrespectful.

Discouragement is an emotion that can take on its own life and can dominate us. Anyone that has been discouraged with anything about the church can probably relate. The momentum of discouragement looks something like:

  • Things are not going like they should, so why should I keep ______ (Studying, Participating, Praying)?
  • Discouragement grows larger as we slip farther
  • It becomes easier to forget just why Christ is in our lives
  • We do more and more outside of his authority

The Hebrews writer seems to recognize this and jumps right into a review of why Christ is our Lord and has all authority of his church (cf. Matthew 28:18). We will introduce Hebrews the same way that the inspired writer did – by reviewing Christ’s qualifications as the King of kings.

The Credentials of Christ

Hebrews 1:1-3 is a quick list of seven reasons Christ is the church’s sole authority.

It is reasonable to require some credentials before submitting to someone that claims to be authoritative in anything.

  • Who do you let work on the electricity in your house? A certified electrician or the guy you met in Home Depot picking out light switch covers?
  • Who would you pull over for in a traffic stop? The car with a trooper logo and a blue light or the beat up Chevy flashing its headlights.
  • Who would you allow to perform surgery on you?
  • Or give you investment advice?

Following Christ is no different, and even he did not expect you to follow him blindly. In fact, he told us to count the cost while we were are thinking about it. (Luke 14:26-33) But…

He does expect us to follow him totally!

The Hebrews writer spent a large portion of the letter reminding Christians who Christ is, and for the Jewish converts, why he is better than the old ways. These are the seven listed credentials of Christ’s authority:

  • He is the heir of all things
  • He is the Creator of all things
  • He radiates excellence
  • He is the Image of God
  • He is the sustaining force
  • He purchased our sins
  • He sits at God’s right hand

As we think about these points in a little more detail, consider how much the writer’s case would be weakened if one of these were not true. It might explain why those outside of the church have a hard time accepting him as the Lord.

He is the heir of all things

The Hebrews writer begins the letter by establishing Christ as the King of kings. He also makes it clear this is not just about earthly things, but of heaven, the universe –

all things.

These are listed from lowest to highest, starting with the idea of his being a son and appointed as the heir.

Family fortunes have always passed through the bloodlines just like legal authority in the world’s kingdoms. By this logic, the only begotten son of God is therefore his rightful heir. The writer no doubt had these verses in mind as he labeled Christ the heir of all things:

  • Psalm 2:8 – … I will make the nations your heritage …
  • Zechariah 9:9-10 – … And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.
  • Hebrews 1:5 – You are my Son, today I have begotten you (Points back to Psalm 2:7. Paul quotes it in Acts 13:33)
  • Hebrews 1:5 – I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (2 Samuel 7:14 – The seed that was promised to David was not Solomon but Jesus Christ)

Since the Jews have denied Christ’s Sonship from the beginning, these strong proofs from the old Law were meant to show them (even remind them) that the idea of a Son of God is not a new idea.

The Creator of All Things

Through Christ, God created the world. (Hebrews 1:2) This credential of Christ is a human right that has never been challenged in the history of man. Whatever one creates is his, by law, by courtesy, and common sense. That said, we can prove Christ as the creator very easily.

  • In Colossians 1:16-17 we see that Paul fully understood Christ to be God. In these verses he says that Christ is the Creator of the universe, he was the sole end of his own work, he was prior to all creation, and he is the preserver of all things.
  • John 1:3 credits Christ with creation. Nothing is possible except through him.
  • Genesis 1:26 says that man was made in “our” image. The understanding of the existence of the Godhead has been there from the beginning.
  • John 17:5 records Jesus remembering the glory he felt with God before the beginning.

As Creator, his authority is absolute. Those who turn away from him, like those Hebrews the letter is written to, are turning away from the only one who offers salvation.

His Excellence of Character

The dignity of our Lord doesn’t depend on the fact that he created the world or even inherited it. He is the reflection of God. There was once time when there was no creation, but there has never been a time when God had no glory. It is that intangible essence of God that would have been hard to grasp if there had never been a Christ.

The Hebrews writer attempts to capture that essence through the words we have translated as radiance or effulgence. (Hebrews 1:3) The idea is that Christ shines forth like a brilliant light – certainly this is the inspiration of the many painters through time that rendered Jesus in the middle of light. The audience of the letter was sure to remember how Moses’ face shone after being in the presence of God. Those present at the transfiguration of Christ must have witnessed something similar.

The Image of God

The Son of God bore the exact image of his father. How much extra credit do we give the sons of famous men when they strongly favor their fathers? Something about the genetic similarities causes us to expect so much more from them. How much more then would that apply to image of God?

When the writer said that Christ was the “imprint of His nature,” he was communicating something along the lines of the die that strikes a coin or a branding iron making its owner’s exact mark. Christ said in John 14:9, “he that has seen me has seen the Father.” Paul said we were redeemed by the blood of the very image and first born of God. (Colossians 1:14-15)

Imagine God being available to look at. His hand is held out to hold ours. What if we could look into his eyes and see the love he has for us?

How would God feel if, after all that before us, we rejected him?

That is the emotion that the Hebrews writer was appealing to.

The Sustaining Force

Anyone who has a complete working knowledge of something, who can sustain its operation, and make it respond to his every command has a right to be named ruler over it. Since Christ “Upholds all things by his word and power,” (Hebrews 1:3b) his kingship is authenticated by his ability to control all things.

Paul stated in Colossians 1:17 “in him all things hold together.” When we compare and contrast Hebrews 1:3 with Colossians 1:17 when have the two writers giving us a complete picture. Paul says continue because of him and the Hebrews writer says the universe responds to his pervasive word.

Jesus repeated over and over what is possible when he is involved. Let’s remember to think of him first no matter what we are planning.

(Matthew 19:26) But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

(Mark 9:23) And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

(Mark 10:27) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

(Luke 1:37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”

(Luke 18:27) But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

He Purchased Our Sins

In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for $15 million. Alaska was purchased from Russian in 1867 for $7 million. Those purchases gave the U.S. government full administrative and legal authority over the land and people. They were now subject to the laws and tax requirements of a possession.

As Paul told the church at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 6:20) we were purchased for a price. What Christ bought was our obligation to follow him, honor him, and glorify him. The elders at Ephesus were charged with shepherding the church which was purchased with Christ’s blood. (Acts 20:28)

When we consider that the defection of Christians back to Judaism was the occasion for the Hebrews letter to have been written, the author is appealing to sense of ownership that God feels over his people. How similarly do you think God reacts when his purchase of us fails as we do when something we buy does not perform to our expectations?

He Sits at God’s Right Hand

With a quick look at history, we see rulers that maintain rule simply because they are able. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, The Roman Empire, The British Empire, The United States – The list is exhaustive.

Jesus slew Satan by his death taking away his power of death. (Hebrews 2:14) Being allowed to “sit at the right hand” of God is a picture of dignity, power and gracefulness. Christ is in charge of his kingdom right now. He will reign until “he has put his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

Until Christ hands the kingdom back over to God, (1 Corinthians 15:24) we are subjects of his kingdom. We are to respect and honor his Lordship until that day.


Through every conceivable right of lordship, Christ is in authority. The Bible is brimming with proof that should encourage the faithful student to continue to follow him. This is the primary reason that reading your Bible is so important – it causes your faith to grow. (Romans 10:17) In fact, Hebrews 2 opens with a warning to that effect!

The seven credentials of Christ listed in Hebrews 1 are points that are continuously proven throughout the Bible – Old and New Testaments. Having these proven time and time again is what gives us solid hope. (Hebrews 11:1)


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