BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 1
A LETTER ADDRESSED TO A JEWISH-CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
The greatness of the incarnate Son of God
1:1 At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but
1:2 in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is.
1:3 He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty.
1:4 So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.
- THE SON IS GREATER THAN THE ANGELS
Proof from the scriptures
1:5 God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father;[*a] or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me.[*b]
1:6 Again, when he brings the First-born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.[*c]
1:7 About the angels, he says: He makes his angels winds and his servants flames of fire,[*d]
1:8 but to his Son he says: God, your throne shall last for ever and ever; and: his royal sceptre is the sceptre of virtue;
1:9 virtue you love as much as you hate wickedness. This is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness, above all your rivals.[*e]
1:10 And again: It is you, Lord, who laid earth’s foundations in the beginning, the heavens are the work of your hands;
1:11 all will vanish, though you remain, all wear out like a garment;
1:12 you will roll them up like a cloak, and like a garment they will be changed. But yourself, you never change and your years are unending.[*f]
1:13 God has never said to any angel: Sit at my right hand and I will make your enemies a footstool for you.[*g]
1:14 The truth is they are all spirits whose work is service, sent to help those who will be the heirs of salvation.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 2
2:1 We ought, then, to turn our minds more attentively than before to what we have been taught, so that we do not drift away.
2:2 If a promise that was made through angels[*a] proved to be so true that every infringement and disobedience brought its own proper punishment,
2:3 then we shall certainly not go unpunished if we neglect this salvation that is promised to us. The promise was first announced by the Lord himself, and is guaranteed to us by those who heard him;
2:4 God himself confirmed their witness with signs and marvels and miracles of all kinds, and by freely giving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Redemption brought by Christ, not by angels
2:5 He did not appoint angels to be rulers of the world to come, and that world is what we are talking about.
2:6 Somewhere there is a passage that shows us this. It runs: What is man that you should spare a thought for him, the son of man that you should care for him?
2:7 For a short while you made him lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and splendour.
2:8 You have put him in command of everything.[*b] Well then, if he has put him in command of everything, he has left nothing which is not under his command. At present, it is true, we are not able to see that everything has been put under his command,
2:9 but we do see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.
2:10 As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation.
2:11 For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers
2:12 in the text: I shall announce your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly;[*c] or the text:
2:13 In him I hope; or the text: Here I am with the children whom God has given me.[*d]
2:14 Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death,
2:15 and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.
2:16 For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham.[*e]
2:17 It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins.
2:18 That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 3
- JESUS THE FAITHFUL AND MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST
Christ higher than Moses
3:1 That is why all you who are holy brothers and have had the same heavenly call should turn your minds to Jesus, the apostle and the high priest of our religion.
3:2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just like Moses, who stayed faithful in all his house;
3:3 but he has been found to deserve a greater glory than Moses. It is the difference between the honour given to the man that built the house and to the house itself.
3:4 Every house is built by someone, of course; but God built everything that exists.
3:5 It is true that Moses was faithful in the house of God, as a servant, acting as witness to the things which were to be divulged later;
3:6 but Christ was faithful as a son, and as the master in the house. And we are his house, as long as we cling to our hope with the confidence that we glory in.
How to reach God’s land of rest
3:7 The Holy Spirit says: If only you would listen to him today;
3:8 do not harden your hearts, as happened in the Rebellion, on the Day of Temptation in the wilderness,
3:9 when your ancestors challenged me and tested me, though they had seen what I could do
3:10 for forty years. That was why I was angry with that generation and said: How unreliable these people who refuse to grasp my ways!
3:11 And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them.[*a]
3:12 Take care, brothers, that there is not in any one of your community a wicked mind, so unbelieving as to turn away from the living God.
3:13 Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts, keep encouraging one another so that none of you is hardened by the lure of sin,
3:14 because we shall remain co-heirs with Christ only if we keep a grasp on our first confidence right to the end.
3:15 In this saying: If only you would listen to him today; do not harden your hearts, as happened in the Rebellion,
3:16 those who rebelled after they had listened were all the people who were brought out of Egypt by Moses.
3:17 And those who made God angry for forty years were the ones who sinned and whose dead bodies were left lying in the wilderness.[*b]
3:18 Those that he swore would never reach the place of rest he had for them were those who had been disobedient.
3:19 We see, then, that it was because they were unfaithful that they were not able to reach it.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 4
4:1 Be careful, then: the promise of reaching the place of rest he had for them still holds good, and none of you must think that he has come too late for it.
4:2 We received the Good News exactly as they did; but hearing the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who listened.
4:3 We, however, who have faith, shall reach a place of rest, as in the text: And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. God’s work was undoubtedly all finished at the beginning of the world;
4:4 as one text says, referring to the seventh day: After all his work God rested on the seventh day.[*a]
4:5 The text we are considering says: They shall not reach the place of rest I had for them.
4:6 It is established, then, that there would be some people who would reach it, and since those who first heard the Good News failed to reach it through their disobedience,
4:7 God fixed another day when, much later, he said ‘today’ through David in the text already quoted: If only you would listen to him today; do not harden your hearts.
4:8 If Joshua had led them into this place of rest, God would not later on have spoken so much of another day.
4:9 There must still be, therefore, a place of rest reserved for God’s people, the seventh-day rest,
4:10 since to reach the place of rest is to rest after your work, as God did after his.
4:11 We must therefore do everything we can to reach this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of disobedience and be lost.
The word of God and Christ the priest
4:12 The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.
4:13 No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.
4:14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed.
4:15 For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.
4:16 Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 5
Jesus the compassionate high priest
5:1 Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so
5:2 he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness.
5:3 That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.
5:4 No one takes this honour on himself, but each one is called by God, as Aaron was.
5:5 Nor did Christ give himself the glory of becoming high priest, but he had it from the one who said to him: You are my son, today I have become your father,[*a]
5:6 and in another text: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.[*b]
5:7 During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard.
5:8 Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering;
5:9 but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation
5:10 and was acclaimed by God with the title of high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
III. THE AUTHENTIC PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST
Christian life and theology
5:11 On this subject we have many things to say, and they are difficult to explain because you have grown so slow at understanding.
5:12 Really, when you should by this time have become masters, you need someone to teach you all over again the elementary principles of interpreting God’s oracles; you have gone back to needing milk, and not solid food.
5:13 Truly, anyone who is still living on milk cannot digest the doctrine of righteousness because he is still a baby.
5:14 Solid food is for mature men with minds trained by practice to distinguish between good and bad.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 6
The author explains his intention
6:1 Let us leave behind us then all the elementary teaching about Christ and concentrate on its completion, without going over the fundamental doctrines again: the turning away from dead actions and towards faith in God;
6:2 the teaching about baptisms and the laying-on of hands; the teaching about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.
6:3 This, God willing, is what we propose to do.
6:4 As for those people who were once brought into the light, and tasted the gift from heaven, and received a share of the Holy Spirit,
6:5 and appreciated the good message of God and the powers of the world to come
6:6 and yet in spite of this have fallen away – it is impossible for them to be renewed a second time. They cannot be repentant if they have wilfullycrucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.
6:7 A field that has been well watered by frequent rain, and gives the crops that are wanted by the owners who grew them, is given God’s blessing;
6:8 but one that grows brambles and thistles is abandoned, and practically cursed. It will end by being burnt.
Words of hope and encouragement
6:9 But you, my dear people – in spite of what we have just said, we are sure you are in a better state and on the way to salvation.
6:10 God would not be so unjust as to forget all you have done, the love that you have for his name or the services you have done, and are still doing, for the saints.[*a]
6:11 Our one desire is that every one of you should go on showing the same earnestness to the end, to the perfect fulfilment of our hopes,
6:12 never growing careless, but imitating those who have the faith and the perseverance to inherit the promises.
6:13 When God made the promise to Abraham, he swore by his own self, since it was impossible for him to swear by anyone greater:
6:14 I will shower blessings on you and give you many descendants.[*b]
6:15 Because of that, Abraham persevered and saw the promise fulfilled.
6:16 Men, of course, swear an oath by something greater than themselves, and between men, confirmation by an oath puts an end to all dispute.
6:17 In the same way, when God wanted to make the heirs to the promise thoroughly realise that his purpose was unalterable, he conveyed this by an oath;
6:18 so that there would be two unalterable things in which it was impossible for God to be lying, and so that we, now we have found safety, should have a strong encouragement to take a firm grip on the hope that is held out to us.
6:19 Here we have an anchor for our soul, as sure as it is firm, and reaching right through beyond the veil[*c]
6:20 where Jesus has entered before us and on our behalf, to become a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 7
- CHRIST’S PRIESTHOOD HIGHER THAN LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD
7:1 You remember that Melchizedek, king of Salem, a priest of God Most High, went to meet Abraham who was on his way back after defeating the kings, and blessed him;
7:2 and also that it was to him that Abraham gave a tenth of all that he had. By the interpretation of his name, he is, first, ‘king of righteousness’ and also king of Salem, that is, ‘king of peace’;
7:3 he has no father, mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God. He remains a priest for ever.
Melchizedek accepted tithes from Abraham
7:4 Now think how great this man must have been, if the patriarch Abraham paid him a tenth of the treasure he had captured. [*b]
7:5 We know that any of the descendants of Levi who are admitted to the priesthood are obliged by the Law to take tithes from the people, and this is taking them from their own brothers although they too are descended from Abraham.
7:6 But this man, who was not of the same descent, took his tenth from Abraham, and he gave his blessing to the holder of the promises.
7:7 Now it is indisputable that a blessing is given by a superior to an inferior.
7:8 Further, in the one case it is ordinary mortal men who receive the tithes, and in the other, someone who is declared to be still alive.
7:9 It could be said that Levi himself, who receives tithes, actually paid them, in the person of Abraham,
7:10 because he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek came to meet him.
From levitical priesthood to the priesthood of Melchizedek
7:11 Now if perfection had been reached through the levitical priesthood because the Law given to the nation rests on it, why was it still necessary for a new priesthood to arise, one of the same order as Melchizedek[*c] not counted as being ‘of the same order as’ Aaron?
7:12 But any change in the priesthood must mean a change in the Law as well.
7:13 So our Lord, of whom these things were said, belonged to a different tribe, the members of which have never done service at the altar;
7:14 everyone knows he came from Judah, a tribe which Moses did not even mention when dealing with priests.
The abrogation of the old Law
7:15 This[*d] becomes even more clearly evident when there appears a second Melchizedek, who is a priest
7:16 not by virtue of a law about physical descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.
7:17 For it was about him that the prophecy was made: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.
7:18 The earlier commandment is thus abolished, because it was neither effective nor useful,
7:19 since the Law could not make anyone perfect; but now this commandment is replaced by something better – the hope that brings us nearer to God.
Christ’s priesthood is unchanging
7:20 What is more, this was not done without the taking of an oath. The others, indeed, were made priests without any oath;
7:21 but he with an oath sworn by the one who declared to him: The Lord has sworn an oath which he will never retract: you are a priest, and for ever.[*e]
7:22 And it follows that it is a greater covenant for which Jesus has become our guarantee.
7:23 Then there used to be a great number of those other priests, because death put an end to each one of them;
7:24 but this one, because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood.
7:25 It follows, then, that his power to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.
The perfection of the heavenly high priest
7:26 To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens;
7:27 one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself.
7:28 The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 8
- THE SUPERIORITY OF THE WORSHIP, THE SANCTUARY AND THE MEDIATION PROVIDED BY CHRIST THE PRIEST
The new priesthood and the new sanctuary
8:1 The great point of all that we have said is that we have a high priest of exactly this kind. He has his place at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens,
8:2 and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of Meeting which the Lord, and not any man, set up.[*a]
8:3 It is the duty of every high priest to offer gifts and sacrifices, and so this one too must have something to offer.
8:4 In fact, if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are others who make the offerings laid down by the Law
8:5 and these only maintain the service of a model or a reflection of the heavenly realities. For Moses, when he had the Tent to build, was warned by God who said: See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.[*b]
Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant
8:6 We have seen that he has been given a ministry of a far higher order, and to the same degree it is a better covenant of which he is the mediator, founded on better promises.
8:7 If that first covenant had been without a fault, there would have been no need for a second one to replace it.
8:8 And in fact God does find fault with them; he says: See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I will establish a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah,
8:9 but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They abandoned that covenant of mine, and so I on my side deserted them. It is the Lord who speaks.
8:10 No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when those days arrive – it is the Lord who speaks. I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people.
8:11 There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know the Lord’. No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest,
8:12 since I will forgive their iniquities and never call their sins to mind.[*c]
8:13 By speaking of a new covenant, he implies that the first one is already old. Now anything old only gets more antiquated until in the end it disappears.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 9
Christ enters the heavenly sanctuary
9:1 The first covenant also had its laws governing worship, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary on this earth.
9:2 There was a tent which comprised two compartments: the first, in which the lamp stand, the table and the presentation loaves were kept, was called the Holy Place;
9:3 then beyond the second veil, an innermost part which was called the Holy of Holies
9:4 to which belonged the gold altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant, plated all over with gold. In this were kept the gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s branch that grew the buds, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
9:5 On top of it was the throne of mercy, and outspread over it were the glorious cherubs. This is not the time to go into greater detail about this.
9:6 Under these provisions, priests are constantly going into the outer tent to carry out their acts of worship,
9:7 but the second tent is entered only once a year, and then only by the high priest who must go in by himself and take the blood to offer for his own faults and the people’s.
9:8 By this, the Holy Spirit is showing that no one has the right to go into the sanctuary as long as the outer tent remains standing;
9:9 it is a symbol for this present time. None of the gifts and sacrifices offered under these regulations can possibly bring any worshipper to perfection in his inner self;
9:10 they are rules about the outward life, connected with foods and drinks and washing at various times, intended to be in force only until it should be time to reform them.
9:11 But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order;
9:12 and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us.
9:13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives;
9:14 how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.
Christ seals the new covenant with his blood
9:15 He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
9:16 Now wherever a will is in question, the death of the testator must be established;
9:17 indeed, it only becomes valid with that death, since it is not meant to have any effect while the testator is still alive.
9:18 That explains why even the earlier covenant needed is something to be killed in order to take effect,
9:19 and why, after Moses had announced all the commandments of the Law to the people, he took the calves’ blood, the goats’ blood and some water, and with these he sprinkled the book itself and all the people, using scarlet wool and hyssop;
9:20 saying as he did so: This is the blood of the covenant that God has laid down for you.[*a]
9:21 After that, he sprinkled the tent and all the liturgical vessels with blood in the same way.
9:22 In fact, according to the Law almost everything has to be purified[*b] with blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission.
9:23 Obviously, only the copies of heavenly things can be purified in this way, and the heavenly things themselves have to be purified by a higher sort of sacrifice than this.
9:24 It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf.
9:25 And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own,
9:26 or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.
9:27 Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement,
9:28 so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself,[*c] and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 10
SUMMARY: CHRIST’S SACRIFICE SUPERIOR TO THE SACRIFICES OF THE MOSAIC LAW
The old sacrifices ineffective
10:1 So, since the Law has no more than a reflection of these realities, and no finished picture of them, it is quite incapable of bringing the worshippers to perfection, with the same sacrifices repeatedly offered year after year.
10:2 Otherwise, the offering of them would have stopped, because the worshippers, when they had been purified once, would have no awareness of sins.
10:3 Instead of that, the sins are recalled year after year in the sacrifices.
10:4 Bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are useless for taking away sins,
10:5 and this is what he said, on coming into the world: You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me.
10:6 You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin;
10:7 then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, ‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.'[*a]
10:8 Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them;
10:9 and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second.
10:10 And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.
The efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice
10:11 All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away.
10:12 He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God,
10:13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him.[*b]
10:14 By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying.
10:15 The Holy Spirit assures us of this; for he says, first:
10:16 This is the covenant I will make with them when those days arrive;[*c] and the Lord then goes on to say: I will put my laws into their hearts and write them on their minds.
10:17 I will never call their sins to mind, or their offences.
10:18 When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.
- PERSEVERING FAITH
The Christian opportunity
10:19 In other words, brothers, through the blood of Jesus we have the right to enter the sanctuary,
10:20 by a new way which he has opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his body.
10:21 And we have the supreme high priest over all the house of God.
10:22 So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
10:23 Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is faithful.
10:24 Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.
10:25 Do not stay away from the meetings of the community, as some do, but encourage each other to go; the more so as you see the Day drawing near.
The danger of apostasy
10:26 If, after we have been given knowledge of the truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them.
10:27 There will be left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the raging fire that is to burn rebels.[*d]
10:28 Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses is ruthlessly put to death on the word of two witnesses or three;[*e]
10:29 and you may be sure that anyone who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the blood of the covenant which sanctified him as if it were not holy, and who insults the Spirit of grace, will be condemned to a far severer punishment.
10:30 We are all aware who it was that said: Vengeance is mine; I will repay.[*f] And again: The Lord will judge his people.
10:31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Motives for perseverance
10:32 Remember all the sufferings that you had to meet after you received the light, in earlier days;
10:33 sometimes by being yourselves publicly exposed to insults and violence, and sometimes as associates of others who were treated in the same way.
10:34 For you not only shared in the sufferings of those who were in prison, but you happily accepted being stripped of your belongings, knowing that you owned something that was better and lasting.
10:35 Be as confident now, then, since the reward is so great.
10:36 You will need endurance to do God’s will and gain what he has promised.
10:37 Only a little while now, a very little while, and the one that is coming will have come; he will not delay.[*g]
10:38 The righteous man will live by faith, but if he draws back, my soul will take no pleasure in him.[*h]
10:39 You and I are not the sort of people who draw back, and are lost by it; we are the sort who keep faithful until our souls are saved.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 11
The exemplary faith of our ancestors
11:1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.
11:2 It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.
11:3 It is by faith that we understand that the world was created by one word from God, so that no apparent cause can account for the things we can see.
11:4 It was because of his faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and for that he was declared to be righteous when God made acknowledgement of his offerings. Though he is dead, he still speaks by faith.
11:5 It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken up and did not have to experience death: he was not to be found because God had taken him.[*a] This was because before his assumption it is attested that he had pleased God.
11:6 Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who try to find him.
11:7 It was through his faith that Noah, when he had been warned by God of something that had never been seen before, felt a holy fear and built an ark to save his family. By his faith the world was convicted, and he was able to claim the righteousness which is the reward of faith.
11:8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going.
11:9 By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
11:10 They lived there in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed and built by God.
11:11 It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that he who had made the promise would be faithful to it.
11:12 Because of this, there came from one man, and one who was already as good as dead himself, more descendants than could be counted, as many as the stars of heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore.[*b]
11:13 All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them,recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth.
11:14 People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of their real homeland.
11:15 They can hardly have meant the country they came from, since they had the opportunity to go back to it;
11:16 but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them.
11:17 It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac.[*c] He offered to sacrifice his only son even though the promises had been made to him
11:18 and he had been told: It is through Isaac that your name will be carried on.[*d]
11:19 He was confident that God had the power even to raise the dead; and so, figuratively speaking, he was given back Isaac from the dead.
11:20 It was by faith that this same Isaac gave his blessing to Jacob and Esau for the still distant future.
11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, leaning on the end of his stick as though bowing to pray.[*e]
11:22 It was by faith that, when he was about to die, Joseph recalled the Exodus of the Israelites and made the arrangements for his own burial.
11:23 It was by faith that Moses, when he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months; they defied the royal edict when they saw he was such a fine child.
11:24 It was by faith that, when he grew to manhood, Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter
11:25 and chose to be ill-treated in company with God’s people rather than to enjoy for a time the pleasures of sin.
11:26 He considered that the insults offered to the Anointed were something more precious than all the treasures of Egypt, because he had his eyes fixed on the reward.
11:27 It was by faith that he left Egypt and was not afraid of the king’s anger; he held to his purpose like a man who could see the Invisible.
11:28 It was by faith that he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood to prevent the Destroyer from touching any of the first-born sons of Israel.
11:29 It was by faith they crossed the Red Sea as easily as dry land, while the Egyptians, trying to do the same, were drowned.
11:30 It was through faith that the walls of Jericho fell down when the people had been round them for seven days.
11:31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies and so was not killed with the unbelievers.
11:32 Is there any need to say more? There is not time for me to give an account of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, or of David, Samuel and the prophets.
11:33 These were men who through faith conquered kingdoms, did what is right and earned the promises. They could keep a lion’s mouth shut,
11:34 put out blazing fires and emerge unscathed from battle. They were weak people who were given strength, to be brave in war and drive back foreign invaders.
11:35 Some came back to their wives from the dead, by resurrection; and others submitted to torture, refusing release so that they would rise again to a better life.
11:36 Some had to bear being pilloried and flogged, or even chained up in prison.
11:37 They were stoned, or sawn in half,[*f] or beheaded; they were homeless, and dressed in the skins of sheep and goats; they were penniless and were given nothing but ill-treatment.
11:38 They were too good for the world and they went out to live in deserts and mountains and in caves and ravines.
11:39 These are all heroes of faith, but they did not receive what was promised,
11:40 since God had made provision for us to have something better, and they were not to reach perfection except with us.
JB HEBREWS Chapter 12
The example of Jesus Christ
12:1 With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started.
12:2 Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne.
12:3 Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage.
12:4 In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.
God’s fatherly instruction
12:5 Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you.
12:6 For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons.[*a]
12:7 Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?
12:8 If you were not getting this training, as all of you are, then you would not be sons but bastards.
12:9 Besides, we have all had our human fathers who punished us, and we respected them for it; we ought to be even more willing to submit ourselves to our spiritual Father, to be given life.
12:10 Our human fathers were thinking of this short life when they punished us, and could only do what they thought best; but he does it all for our own good, so that we may share his own holiness.
12:11 Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.
12:12 So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees[*b]
12:13 and smooth out the path you tread;[*c] then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.
Unfaithfulness is punished
12:14 Always be wanting peace[*d] with all people, and the holiness without which no one can ever see the Lord.
12:15 Be careful that no one is deprived of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness should begin to grow and make trouble;[*e] this can poison a whole community.
12:16 And be careful that there is no immorality, or that any of you does not degrade religion like Esau, who sold his birthright for one single meal.
12:17 As you know, when he wanted to obtain the blessing afterwards, he was rejected and, though he pleaded for it with tears, he was unable to elicit a change of heart.
The two covenants
12:18 What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing fire,[*f] or a gloom turning to total darkness, or a storm;
12:19 or trumpeting thunder or the great voice speaking which made everyone that heard it beg that no more should be said to them.
12:20 They were appalled at the order that was given: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.
12:21 The whole scene was so terrible that Moses said: I am afraid,[*g] and was trembling with fright.
12:22 But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival,
12:23 with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect;
12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s.
12:25 Make sure that you never refuse to listen when he speaks. The people who refused to listen to the warning from a voice on earth could not escape their punishment, and how shall we escape if we turn away from a voice that warns us from heaven?
12:26 That time his voice made the earth shake, but now he has given us this promise: I shall make the earth shake once more and not only the earth but heaven as well.[*h]
12:27 The words once more show that since the things being shaken are created things, they are going to be changed, so that the unshakeable things will be left.
12:28 We have been given possession of an unshakeable kingdom. Let us therefore hold on to the grace that we have been given and use it to worship God in the way that he finds acceptable, in reverence and fear.
12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.[*i]
JB HEBREWS Chapter 13
13:1 Continue to love each other like brothers,
13:2 and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
13:3 Keep in mind those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; and those who are being badly treated, since you too are in the one body.
13:4 Marriage is to be honoured by all, and marriages are to be kept undefiled, because fornicators and adulterers will come under God’sjudgement.
13:5 Put greed out of your lives and be content with whatever you have; God himself has said: I will not fail you or desert you,[*a]
13:6 and so we can say with confidence: With the Lord to help me, I fear nothing: what can man do to me?[*b]
13:7 Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.
13:8 Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be for ever.
13:9 Do not let yourselves be led astray by all sorts of strange doctrines: it is better to rely on grace for inner strength than on dietary laws which have done no good to those who kept them.
13:10 We have our own altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
13:11 The bodies of the animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for the atonement of sin are burnt outside the camp,[*c]
13:12 and so Jesus too suffered outside the gate to sanctify the people with his own blood.
13:13 Let us go to him, then, outside the camp, and share his degradation.
13:14 For there is no eternal city for us in this life but we look for one in the life to come.
13:15 Through him, let us offer God an unending sacrifice of praise,[*d] a verbal sacrifice that is offered every time we acknowledge his name.
13:16 Keep doing good works and sharing your resources, for these are sacrifices that please God.
Obedience to religious leaders
13:17 Obey your leaders and do as they tell you, because they must give an account of the way they look after your souls; make this a joy for them to do, and not a grief – you yourselves would be the losers.
13:18 We are sure that our own conscience is clear and we are certainly determined to behave honourably in everything we do; pray for us.
13:19 I ask you very particularly to pray that I may come back to you all the sooner.
News, good wishes and greetings
13:20 I pray that the God of peace, who brought our Lord Jesus back[*e] from the dead to become the great Shepherd of the sheep[*f] by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant,[*g]
13:21 may make you ready to do his will in any kind of good action; and turn us all into whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, towhom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.
13:22 I do ask you, brothers, to take these words of advice kindly; that is why I have written to you so briefly.
13:23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he arrives in time, he will be with me when I see you.
13:24 Greetings to all your leaders and to all the saints. The saints of Italy send you greetings.
13:25 Grace be with you all.
END OF JB HEBREWS [13 Chapters].