Jesus Speaks

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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As human beings we all have a list or an order that we rank things in relation to their value. As a sports fan, I could give you a list of my favorite sports from greatest to worst and I could talk for hours on end regarding my rationale behind the ranking. For others of you, you could do the same for your hobbies as well. Maybe you could do this with books, movies or TV shows that you’ve watched. For others you could do this with places that you have traveled to over the years or memories that you’ve made with your family. We all categorize and rank things in our lives. Scripture is no different. We all have a “favorite” Bible story and for many of us that story is different. Some might say that David and Goliath is their favorite story while others might say that Jesus feeding the 5,000 is theirs. Neither is necessarily wrong, it is subjective to our own opinion.
What is not subjective, though, is that Jesus is the epicenter of Scripture. Jesus reigns supreme above all else! While some might disregard Him as a teacher, the book of Hebrews does not leave that option available up to us. Hebrews talks about a lot of Old Testament heroes of sorts and notes that Jesus is not only greater than people like Moses and Abraham but that Jesus is also the supreme revelation of who God is. He is greater than the Angels and His message is superior to their message. As a result of this, we’d better pay attention and obey His teaching.
Hebrews is a mysterious book. There are many questions that we do not have direct answers to and questions that have been debated for centuries. As a result of this, some people skip over the background of Hebrews and skip ahead to the content. While the content of Hebrews is absolutely stunning, part of expositional preaching and part of accurate Bible study involves doing our homework on the background of the book. While this might seem unnecessary or “boring” to some, it helps us better see the text in its original context and to better hear the author’s original message as well as how this message would have been perceived by it’s original audience.
In a world that is so confused about who Jesus is and as the global church seems to not always know how to respond to these questions, we need to be reminded about who Jesus is and how He is greater than anything or anyone else! He rules, He reigns, He is alive and He is King! Hebrews is so rich in theology and it’s going to take us months… probably the rest of 2020, to unpack this incredible sermon.
There are 3 basic questions that we must ask as we begin our study of Hebrews:
- Who wrote this book/preached this sermon?
- Who is the original audience?
- When was this book written?


In Scripture we often assume that the author is an unquestioned person. For example, with the Gospels we know they are entitled Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Therefore, we automatically assume that those were the people who wrote them because they are named after the author. There are some books, though, where this is not as certain. The book of Hebrews has a couple of different options regarding the author. Many people think that Paul wrote this book. I would say that if you asked the average American churchgoer who wrote Hebrews, the response you would get is probably Paul because he wrote over 1/2 of the New Testament. While this might make some sense, the letter itself is not characteristic of Paul. The grammar, syntax and literary devices used in this letter are not how Paul normally wrote. My Greek professor put it like this, if you were a teacher grading the level of Greek in Scripture for academic purposes, Paul would be a solid C+ student. He uses Greek pretty well, but not great. Hebrews, though, is an A+. This letter is far superior when compared to Paul’s letters.
Not only is the original text not like Paul, but Paul often gives a salutation of sorts or an introduction. We know people like this, right? Hello, I’m so and so and I work at this place. Paul was this type of social butterfly in that he usually introduces himself as Paul, a prisoner or servant of Jesus Christ. Yet, in Hebrews we see no such introduction. This is an argument from silence. Paul uses these introductions to establish goodwill with his audience, Hebrews does not have this introduction, therefore it follows that Paul probably is not the author.
So who is? Some have speculated that the author is Luke, Barnabas or Apollos. These have issues as well, though. Luke is from a gentile background and the author of Hebrews is thought to have had a Jewish background because of their extensive knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament and sacrificial system. Barnabas was a Levite, so this adds to his popularity as the author of Hebrews, but there is a severe lack of evidence to say for certain that he is the author. Apollos would have likely been able to write this level of Greek, he was an associate of Paul and a Jewish believer as tells us, but again we do not have definitive proof that he is the author. David Allen notes that Hebrews is the only truly anonymous New Testament letter. To borrow from Origen in the early 200s AD, “Only God knows who wrote Hebrews.”
What we do know is this, Hebrews is inspired by God and its author was under inspiration from the Holy Spirit. As a result, we must understand that this is God’s Word for Christians to read and we must allow Hebrews to shape our understanding of the Old Testament as we view it through the reality of Jesus’ word of atonement on the Cross.


Just as the author of Hebrews is unknown, the intended audience of Hebrews is also unknown although there are a couple of ideas.
Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch are the 4 main possibilities among scholars today.
Clement of Rome (in late 1st century) quotes Hebrews extensively. Chapter 10 of Hebrews fits with the Roman persecution in 49 AD. notes
Hebrews 13:24 NASB95
24 Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.
There are some issues with Rome being the intended audience, though, because Paul already wrote one letter to the church in Rome - Romans.
Some people say it was written to the church in Alexandria - Alexandria had a massive Jewish population at the time and Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians, so this part makes sense. These Jewish Christians also faced severe persecution, however the Alexandrian church fathers (Origin especially) do not attribute the letter to themselves but rather to the church in Jerusalem.
Some people say it was written to the church in Jerusalem. says that people have come to Mount Zion/the city of the living God. The Temples was in Jerusalem which Hebrews talks a lot about. There are issues with Jerusalem, though. The author/preacher of Hebrews notes that many converts did not know the historical Jesus but Jesus walked through Jerusalem several times during His earthly ministry. notes that these people needed to be taught elementary principles of the Gospel which does not make sense of the Jerusalem church which would have been well past this point - likely.
The final main option is Antioch. If Luke wrote this book then Antioch seems to be a likely destination for Hebrews. We are told that Luke was born in Antioch in extra-biblical texts and Scripture tells us that Luke is linked with Antioch.
Again, though, we simply do not know for sure where this letter was intended to go.


Just as the author and audience of this letter are unknown, the date too is largely unknown. We know that it has to have been written before 95 AD because Clement of Rome quotes it. There are a number of scholars who date Hebrews between 67-69 AD. Hebrews could have been written during the reign of Nero who died during 68 AD and the city of Jerusalem fell during 70 AD. During these short years there was an outbreak of Jewish nationalism that swept across Palestine. Because of this, these Jewish Christians might have been tempted to revert to Judaism and rise up against their Roman overlords.

Purpose of Hebrews

A final part of our introduction into Hebrews must cover the purpose of this letter. There is so much uncertainty with this letter but its purpose is clear: warn Jewish Christians against relapsing back into Judaism and participating in the Day of Atonement. This letter is full of rich theology that builds the reader up in the Word, but it also warns against apostatizing away from Christianity. This is a warning for us today, friends.
We might not know the author, audience or date of Hebrews, but we do know the purpose: Jesus Christ is greater and is our High Priest! As we read this incredible letter we must remember that Christ is superior over everything else. Jesus acts as our great and merciful high priest whose sacrifice once and for all paid for the sins of all who are in Christ.
With this in mind, as we begin our study through Hebrews, let us remember that the same Jesus who revealed the glory of the Father to people 2000 years ago is the same Jesus who we worship today! He is the ultimate revelation of the Father and we must obey His words and praise Him for what He has done.
Hebrews 1:1–4 NASB95
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

Listen to the Old Testament (1)

This letter is thought to have been a sermon preached aloud to these Jewish Christians. As a result of this as we go through this study we can either say the author or the preacher as both are accurate descriptions. The preacher of Hebrews begins his sermon by showing the fact that God spoke to the ancestors of his audience through the prophets and in many ways. Are any of you all Star Wars fans? has always reminded me of the epic Star Wars introduction as George Lucas used to introduce his films with his fanfare music and some script that started with long ago in a galaxy far far away.... The preacher of Hebrews opens his sermon with creation itself and begins to show the Gospel narrative by not starting with Bethlehem or with the genealogy of Jesus as the Gospel writers do, but rather with creation itself. This is significant for us to understand as we begin this study because it shows the fact that this individual notes rightly that Jesus Christ is at the center of the story from creation to the new creation: it’s all about Jesus Christ - He is the supreme figure in this narrative and acts as the main character!
As a result of this fact, Jesus is still the main character in the story 2000 years later. Long after the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Jesus Christ is still in control and in the center of the story.
The preacher notes that God spoke long ago. Does the Old Testament matter, friends? You bet it does! Can someone be a Christian and be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone without an extensive background with the Old Testament? Sure. But does the Old Testament add rich context to the cross of Christ and better explain why Christ had to come? Of course it does. This opening verse shows that the Cross of Christ is not the first time or place where God spoke to His people, He did so in the Old Testament too! This has been the plan that has been unfolding for hundreds and hundreds of years. Where we might see things as an accident or as a mistake, God sees them as all a part of His master plan that ultimately led to the coming of Jesus Christ to reconcile sinners to God.
In the Old Testament we know that God spoke through prophets, angels, storms, bushes and even through a donkey in ! Even though He spoke through these messengers of sorts, what we have in Scripture is the divinely inerrant Word of God as notes for us as all Scripture is God-breathed and inspired.
One of the most interesting and distinctive things about the God of the Bible is that He is a speaking God. Many people think of God as being a far off and removed deity who has left His creation to fend for itself or simply does not care what happens to people. This is the image of God that many Americans have, sadly. This is not the God that the Bible talks about, though! God reveals Himself to us through Creation as shows
Romans 1:20–21 NASB95
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Romans 1:21 NASB95
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
God has also revealed Himself through His Word. Because of this we are able to know the nature of God. Scripture shows us that God is holy, just, loving, and perfect. Carl Henry notes that, “God’s revelation is God’s willful disclosure through which He forefits His own personal privacy so that His creatures might know Him.” Friends, if God did not speak and reveal Himself to us then we would be lost in utter darkness. We would have no hope! Yet, He did speak. He did reveal Himself and as a result there is hope!
There are 2 types of revelation that Scripture shows: shows that there is general revelation that all people are given. All people see the power and majesty of God in nature and creation. As a result of this, there is no excuse for us. All are guilty because of general revelation but general revelation is not enough for salvation. The other type of revelation in Scripture is special revelation. This is the type of revelation spoken about in . This revelation is not general like creation but specific, direct and verbal from the very mouth of God. Scripture, as Hebrews notes, is alive and it speaks. Through special revelation, the speaking of God through His prophets and messengers, the message of Salvation is revealed. We must listen and respond to this message!

Listen to Jesus Christ (2)

Even greater than the message brought about by the prophets of old is the message brought about by Jesus Christ! Verse 2 shows that Jesus Christ speaks of God’s plan as well. As the preacher of Hebrews will show us in the coming chapters, the climax of God’s redemptive plan is found in the person of Jesus Christ - not in anything else! While God speaking is nothing new, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is something incredibly new! As a result, we must listen to Jesus Christ and His message and we must see how He fulfills all the promises of the Old Testament and serves as the substance that the all the Old Testament shadows were pointing to!
Notice too how the Son is shown in verse 2. We see a Trinitarian reference as God spoke through His Son. Not just son, but His Son. The Son of God shows us more about the Father than any human messenger ever could. The remainder of verse 2 serves to show us what the Son has done. The Son is heir of all things and created the world. The Son was not a cosmic accident or plan B, rather He was present at creation and He is the source of redemption that humanity requires!
How many of you have seen the Gateway Arch in St. Louis? Every time my family traveled to St. Louis during my childhood we would always play a game to see who could spot the Arch first. In fact, it didn’t even feel like we were in St. Louis until we could see the Arch! This has been a tradition that has since passed down to Lindsey and I and sometimes it gets pretty competitive to see who can find the Arch before the other person. The Arch is massive but we know that arches have been around for thousands of years. In a way, Jesus serves as an arch of sorts that connects Creation with Redemption. These two ideas are crucial in understanding Scripture and sometimes we think that Jesus was present at both but that they are not connected, but that simply is not the case. We see in Scripture, clearly, that the plan of redemption was present all the way back in creation. As Al Mohler notes, “The God who creates is the God who redeems. We must recognize that if we do not have the right doctrine about creation, we will not have the right doctrine about redemption. Creation and the Gospel are inextricably linked.”

Jesus is Greater (3-4)

Verses 3-4 show that not only was Jesus present at creation and brings about a revelation from God that saves souls and brings about redemption, but we also see that Jesus’ revelation is superior. Jesus is the “exact representation of the nature of God.” Think for a moment about basic genetics. Whenever a couple has a child the child has similarities between both mother and father because they have part of their genetic code in their DNA. A child might look very similar to their parent. A child might act very similar to their parent and think very similar to their parent but a child will never be an exact representation as their parent, yet Jesus Christ is said to be the exact representation of God! They share the same divine essence and substance as we have been talking so much about during our Trinity Bible Study on Wednesday evenings.
In Christ we see the glory of God. In Christ’s work on the cross we see the plan of redemption and the love of God as it pleased God to crush the Son. In we see the word “radiance” and this is the only time this Greed word (apaugasma) is used in the New Testament. It shows the pre-existence of Christ as though our sun sends out rays of light that warm us each and every day. This one word shows us that Jesus Christ reveals the Father in a way that no other person could because He Himself is pre-existent and shares the same divine substance as the Father does.
The Son, as the preacher continues, also holds all things by the word of His power. The same universe that was brought into existence by God simply speaking is held together by the power of God and through the word of the Son. Paul makes a similar statement in whenever he says
Colossians 1:17 NASB95
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Not only does Christ hold all things together, but He also has made purification for sins as verse 3 says. The work of Jesus Christ is a work that purifies sinners, which is something that the Old Covenant could never do. The Gospel shows this message as the death and resurrection of Christ destroy the power of sin and death over the believer. The preacher of Hebrews dives into the purification of Christ’s work in as we will see in a couple of weeks that Jesus’ sacrifice once and for all has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
This journey of life is a long one, friends. There are good days and there are bad days. There are days where it seems like the world just has it out for you and there are days where everything is going great! There are times in which it seems like everything you do is wrong and other times where you can’t miss even if you try! The great truth in verse 3 of is that Christ has purified us of our sins if we are in Christ. His work is done and completed! He is the great and merciful high priest who is seated down at the right hand of the Father - demonstrating that His work is completed.
Remember who the audience of this letter is: Jewish Christians. Whenever a Jew thought of purification they often thought of the Day of Atonement where the people would come and gather at the Temple in order to take part in Yom Kippur where an animal sacrifice would cover their sins for the upcoming year. This was what was prescribed in the Old Testament, but the preacher of Hebrews says a couple of chapters later:
Hebrews 10:4 NASB95
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
This message would have been very difficult for these people to hear. Christ paid for all sins for all time with one action for all who are in Christ Jesus. There is no longer a sacrifice that needs to be made by Christians - Jesus paid it all! As a result what the preacher of Hebrews does is give theological instruction for the first 10 chapters and practical/applicable instruction for the last 3 chapters.
Verse 4 concludes this initial thought by showing that Christ is superior to the Angels and has a superior name as well. This verse serves as a transition verse between 1-3 and 5-14 and we’ll dive into it a bit more next week as we look at Jesus both conquering and creating. For the time being, though, a fundamental question for us to ponder: Seeing as we are not Jewish Christians, how are we supposed to read and understand the Old Testament in light of Hebrews and the work of Jesus Christ?
There are 2 extremes on this issue. Some people follow after the teachings of Marcion (a late 1st century/early 2nd century heretic) who said that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament therefore the Old Testament should not be read as a result because that “god” is cruel and a jerk. Sadly, this heresy is creeping back into churches who teach liberal theology (completely different than liberal in politics). So the first group says to ignore or remove the Old Testament completely.
The second group says that the Old Testament Mosaic, ethical, moral and dietary laws are still in effect for New Covenant believers today. This too is not true.
As a result of this and as we continue our study of Hebrews we will see that we must not ignore the Old Testament but rather we must see the Old Testament through the lens of the cross of Christ. The Old Testament is profitable and reading it will certainly give us a better understanding of who God is and why Christ’s sacrifice was absolutely necessary.


The book of Hebrews is a mysterious book in our Bible. There is much that we do not know: we don’t know for sure who the author is, we don’t know for sure who it was written to and we don’t even know exactly when it was written. What we do know is this: It is an inspired book in our Bibles that teaches us to draw near to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. The encouragement in Hebrews is to not forsake such a great salvation and to rest comfortably not in our own work but rather in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary!
As our text today reminds us, Jesus has spoken. His revelation is complete and sufficient. We don’t have to pray for a new revelation as some religious groups cry for, we have everything we need in our Bible right now! It’s all about Jesus Christ. He is our living hope and He is our great high priest who is interceding on our behalf before the Father right now!
So how should we live in light of this truth? 3 key things:
We must study the entirety of God’s Word because it is all profitable - both Old and New Testaments.
We must understand that it’s all about Jesus - it’s not about us at all because if it was 1% up to us then we would fall 1% short. Christ has paid it all and made purification for all sins, we must trust in that fact today.
You must respond to this wonderful truth. Ask yourself, do you know this wonderful, merciful savior deeply and intimately or do you simply know His name in a book? He is the exact representation of God and upholds the universe by the word of His power. That’s my king and I pray that you know Him too. His name is Jesus, blessed Jesus.
He is sovereign. He is in control right now, friends! While the rest of the world is thrust into a frenzy and placing their hope in all sorts of things like toilet paper, we know that we are to place our trust and faith in the solid foundation of God’s Word, knowing full and well that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore! He is our strong tower and ever present help in time of need and so while the rest of the world looks to all sorts of other things to provide safety, church, look to the King. Look to the cross. Look to Jesus!
Let’s pray.
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