Hebrews Introduction

At first glance, Hebrews is one of the strangest and most fascinating books of the New Testament. While many people are familiar with a few key verses in Hebrews, relatively few contemporary Christians are familiar with the book as a whole. Hebrews was written by an unknown author, to an unknown audience most likely sometime before AD 70. In spite of the unknowns about Hebrews, it’s content proves to be one of the most beautifully written and stylistically polished books of the New Testament. While Hebrews contains elements of a pastoral letter, it is better understood on the whole as a sermon. The author shows us robust theological insight with his use of imagery, metaphor, allusion, Old Testament analogy, and typology. The result is a book that shows us that Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God whom the entire Old Testament scriptures point us to. Hebrews leads us to encounter the glory of God in Jesus Christ as we learn how Jesus is the better word, the better Moses, the better High Priest, the better covenant, and the better sacrifice for sin. This focus on the supremacy of Jesus is the theological grounding for the original audience to draw near to God through the finished work of Christ.

Much like us, the original recipients of Hebrews were growing weary of following Jesus and found themselves tempted to return to their old ways. Commentator Thomas Long states,

“The Preacher is not preaching into a vacuum; he is addressing a real and urgent pastoral problem, one that seems astonishingly contemporary. His congregation is exhausted. They are tired—tired of serving the world, tired of worship, tired of Christian education, tired of being peculiar and whispered about in society, tired of the spiritual struggle, tired of trying to keep their prayer life going, tired even of Jesus. Their hands droop, and their knees are weak (12:12), attendance is down at church (10:25), and they are losing confidence. The threat to this congregation is not that they are charging off in the wrong direction; they do not have enough energy to charge off anywhere.”1

Many modern Christians can relate to this same fatigue and weariness of following Christ. In our increasingly polarized culture, we feel the drain all the more. We seem to be torn between the two options of a Christ-less American evangelicalism or Christ-less progressive liberalism. Where do we go from here? Do we pull up ourselves up by our bootstraps and try harder? Do we let go of our ancient faith and go with the flow of culture? Hebrews offers us another way. The author Hebrews invites us, weary strugglers, to dive into the very depths of Christ and discover all that we have in Him. As we consider the finished work of Christ, we find the confidence to draw near to God. Hebrews exhorts us to encounter the glory of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Encountering Jesus is the antidote for our spiritual fatigue and weariness. We need a fresh encounter of the presence of God that nourishes and sustains us as a church.

Each week as we preach through the text, we will unpack the text and encourage you to draw near to Christ. Each section of the book will give us a unique aspect or implication of what Christ has done for us. We are also providing bible study guides for DNA groups to study Hebrews alongside our sermon series. In DNA groups, you will be able to study the text for yourselves and apply what you are learning personally. Finally, throughout the series, we will have a common practice that we do as a church to help us put into practice what we are learning through the scriptures. Our prayer is that the Spirit would use this sacred scripture to re-ignite our love for God and others as we draw near to God in Christ.

Preaching Outline:
Week 1 - The Centrality of Jesus - Hebrews 1:1-4 (DNA - Week 2 of Study Guide)
Week 2 - Jesus is the better Word - Hebrews 1:5-2:18 (DNA - Week 3 of study guide)
Week 3 - Jesus is the better Moses - Hebrews 3:1-4:13 (DNA - Week 4 of study guide)
Week 4 - Jesus is the better High Priest - Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (DNA - Week 5 of study guide)
Week 5 - Warning Against Apostasy - Hebrews 5:11-6:20 (DNA - Week 6 of study guide)
Week 6 - Jesus brings us a better Covenant - Hebrews 7:1-8:13 (DNA - Week 7 of study guide)
Week 7 - Jesus is the better Sacrifice - Hebrews 9:1-22 (DNA - Week 7 of study guide)
Week 8 - Jesus fulfills the OT Shadows - Hebrews 9:23-10:18 (DNA - Week 8 of study guide)
Week 9 - The Call to Faith - Hebrews 10:19-39 (DNA - Week 9 of study guide)
Week 10 - The Cloud of Witnesses - Hebrews 11:1-40 (DNA week 9 of study guide)
Week 11 - Encouragement for the Weary - Hebrews 12:1-17 (DNA week 10 of study guide)
Week 12 - Drawing Near - Hebrews 12:18-29 (DNA week 11 of study guide)
Week 13 - Sacrifices pleasing to God - Hebrews 13:1-25 (DNA week 12 of study guide)

DNA groups will be working through the Knowing the Bible Hebrews study.

1 Long, Thomas G. Hebrews. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville, Ky: John Knox Press, 1997.