Bible Query from
Q: Who wrote the book of Hebrews?
A: Today we do not know who wrote the book of Hebrews. The King James Version says that Paul wrote it, but that was just an assumption. Martin Luther guessed that it might be Apollos, but that was just a speculation. From the book itself we know six things about the author:
1) The writer refers to "himself" in Hebrew 11:32, the Greek is in masculine form, so the writer was a man, according to The NIV Study Bible p.1873.
2) Hebrews 13:23 mentions Timothy, so the writer knew Timothy (and was not Timothy).
3) Hebrews 13:22-24 shows that the readers in the early church knew who the writer was.
4) The author had an extensive knowledge of Scripture (which Paul among others also had).
5) The author was a very logical, organized writer (which Paul also was).
6) The author (or authors) wrote very poetically and eloquently, perhaps beyond what we observe in Paulís letters.
Q: What is the main point of the book of Hebrews?
A: The main point is "Christ is better". Hebrews was written to show both the continuity of the Old Testament and Christianity, as well as the new, radical transformation under Christ. Christ is better than men, better than angels, better than the law, and better than sacrifices.
Q: In Heb 1:1, since the only books accepted in the Bible were those written by eye-witnesses, then why is the book of Hebrews there? No one knows who wrote Hebrews.
A: This is not true. We do not know today, but the early Christians knew, as evidenced by the personal note in Hebrews 13:22-25. As a side note, Clement of Rome refers to Hebrews many times in his letter to the Corinthians, written 96/98 A.D. Thus we owe a debt to the early church, not for writing scripture, but for recognizing scripture.
Tertullian (208-220 A.D.) thought Hebrews was written by Barnabas in On Modesty ch.20 p.97, but there is no other evidence for that.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) thought Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews, but he also mentions that others disagreed.
Early Christians who taught that Paul wrote Hebrews were:
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)
Athanasius (c.318 A.D.)
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) says that Hebrews 13:8 was by Paul. Deposition of Arius ch.3 p.70
M Eusebius of Caesarea (323-326 A.D.) says it was disputed whether Paul wrote Hebrews or not.
Athanasius (356-360 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 1:4 as by Paul. Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 2 ch.14 p.348.
Athanasius (335 A.D.) says Hebrews is by Paul. Festal Letter 7 ch.7 p.526
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century)
Gregory of Nyssa (382-383 A.D.) said that Paul wrote Hebrews and refers to Hebrews 5:5. Against Eunomius book 6 ch.2 p.183
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) refers to Paul writing Hebrews. On the Mysteries ch.8.45 p.323
John Chrysostom (before 407 A.D.) mentions Paul writing to the Galatians and Hebrews. Commentary on Philippians Homily 4 verse 30 p.200
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) (Implied) refers to Hebrews 13:8 as by the Apostle in Seven Books book 5.6 p.584 and Hebrews 12:22,23 as by the Apostle in the First Conference of the Abbot Moses ch.14 p.302
The Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.)
Q: In Heb 1:1 (KJV), what does "sundry" mean?
A: This King James Version word means "many".
Q: Does Heb 1:2 mean there are no more prophets?
A: Yes and no, properly understood.
Yes, After Christ, there were no more prophets in the Old Testament sense, who gave us books of the Bible and are part of the foundation on which the church is built in Ephesians 2:20.
No, in the New Testament there was still the gift of prophesy in 1 Corinthians 12:29; 14:4. Some men and women who had this gift are mentioned in Acts 21:9-10.
Q: In Heb 1:2, did Jesus exist in Heaven before He came to earth?
A: Yes, according to Hebrews 1:2, John 1:1-3, and Jesusí own words in John 17:5. I am not sure what clearer proof is needed, but consult 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.27-28 for more info.
Q: In Heb 1:3, since Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father, does this prove the Father has a physical body?
A: No, not any more than the right-hand side of a car proves a car has hands. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. The phrase "at the right hand" actually means a position of honor.
2. "At the right hand" could also refer to a physical position. While God does fill the Heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24), God the Father also has a localized presence on His throne (Revelation 4; 5:7).
3. Even God having a localized presence does not prove God is bound in a physical body or has a physical body. However, this does not deny that God the Father can appear in any form He wants to, including a flame or a physical body.
See When Cultists Ask p.283-284 for a different answer.
Q: In Heb 1:4, since Jesus "became" superior to the angels, was He not superior to the angels before?
A: In Heaven He was superior to the angels, as John 17:5 suggests. However, Jesus emptied Himself when He came to earth, in Philippians 2:7. Jesus temporarily becoming lower than the angels, as Hebrews 2:7,9 explicitly says. Now Hebrews 1:4 shows the Father granted Jesusí request in John 17:5.
Q: Does Heb 1:5-6 imply that Christ is an angel?
A: No, it actually shows just the opposite, especially in Hebrews 1:6-8 and Hebrews 2:16. While Almighty God had the power for Christ to have any nature He wanted, including the nature of an angel. Hebrews 2:11,14,16-17 shows Jesus was incarnated as a man, not an angel.
Q: In Heb 1:6 (NIV), should it say "And again, when God brings..."?
A: Christian scholars disagree. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.781-782, the Greek is better translated "and when He again brings...". It says that this verse refers to Christís Second Coming.
Q: In Heb 1:6, does "let all Godís angels worship him" quote Dt 32:43, since the Masoretic text does not have this?
A: Yes. The text is clear in Hebrews 1:6. The same phrase or similar is in both the Dead Sea Scroll 4Q44 of Deuteronomy 32:43 and the Septuagint of Deuteronomy 32:43. This must be a manuscript erro rthat crept in the Masoretic text.
Q: In Heb 1:6, is Jesus just to be worshipped or does the Greek word mean the angels just "did obeisance" to here as some Jehovahís Witnesses teach?
A: Proskuneo argument for worshipping Jesus: English words for worship are used 76 times in the New Testament (KJV). (I guess it is because believers did a lot of worshipping.) The Greek word proskuneo is used all but 16 times.
P1. Among others, the four heavenly creatures proskuneo God in Revelation 19:4.
P2. Never proskuneo another. Satan asked Jesus to proskuneo him in Matthew 4:9. Jesus answered to proskuneo only God in Matthew 4:10. The angel in Revelation 19:10 said to worship only God. All people who proskuneo the beast in Revelation 14:9 will suffer for that.
P3. When Jesus quoted the old Testament in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, He used the word proskuneo.
P4. The angels proskuneo Jesus in Hebrews 1:6
P5. Many people proskuneo Jesus, including the disciples before Christís resurrection (Matthew 14:33), the wise men (Matthew 2:2), a leper (Matthew 8:2), a ruler (Matthew 9:18), the disciples after Christís resurrection (Matthew 28:9,17; Luke 24:52) the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), the Roman soldiers in mockery (Mark 15:19)
P - Summary: What the angels of Heaven do, what the disciples and others did, and what even the Roman soldiers did in mockery, it is proper for the followers of Jesus to do in sincerity.
However, the word proskuneo is also used for those of the synagogue of Satan falling at the feet of people of the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:9. It can be argued that "proskuneo" might mean simply falling on their knees before someone in Matthew 15:25; 18:26; and 20:20.
Though proskuneo can sometimes just mean kneeling, it is the dominant word for worship. To top it all off, even in the Jehovahís Witnesses own New World Translation it translated proskuneo in Hebrews 1:6 as worship. According to Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.100-101, this was true in the 1953, 1960, 1961, and 1970 versions of the New World Translation. The Watchtower changed this to "do obeisance" starting with the 1971 revision.
If you think the way Christians proskuneo Jesus is improper, how do you proskuneo Jesus?
As a Jehovahís Witness lady told me, at the end of a long discussion, that she would bow before Jesus if He was here today, but since He was not, that is why she did not proskuneo Him. I could see her point, if Jesus was never present to her. However, in Matthew 18:20 Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them. So when we are together, we should proskuneo Jesus. Furthermore, Romans 8:9-10 shows, all who belong to Christ have the spirit of Christ inside of them.
Furthermore, the Jehovah Witness New World Translation shows bias here. It translates proskuneo as worship when used in reference to God (Revelation 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4; John 4:20, etc.) but every time the same word is used of Jesus it is translated as "obeisance" (Matthew 14:33; 28:9,17; Luke 24:52; Hebrews 1:6). See Sixty Questions Every Jehovahís Witness Should be Asked p.26-27 for more info.
Nevertheless, as strong as the proskuneo argument is, we are just getting started with arguments showing that Jesus is God and worthy of worship. Additional points are the "Thomas" argument in the discussion on John 20:24-29, the "honor" argument in the discussion on John 5:23, the "worship" argument in the discussion on Revelation 5:9-14 among others. See When Cultists Ask p.284 for additional points on the "proskuneo" and other arguments.
Q: Does Heb 1:9 mean "Jesus who is God, the Father who is Your God", or "Jesus, the Father who is Your God"?
A: It is the first way, addressing Jesus. It could be taken either way in both the Greek and English. However, the New International Bible Commentary p.1507, says that while the grammar of both verse 8 and verse 9 are ambiguous, it is certain that the intent is the "vocative" (Jesus who is God, the Father who is Your God). We know this by comparing with the Hebrew of what this quotes: Psalm 45:6-7. Aquila the Jewís translation of Psalm 45:7 says, "O God, Thy God has anointed Thee".
Q: In Heb 1:13, what would Psalm 110 mean to Jewish person?
A: Parts of Psalm 110 are quoted in Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36-37; Luke 20:42-44; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13; 5:10, and extensively discussed in Hebrews 7:1-28. Psalm 110 was quoted by thirteen pre-Nicene church writers. The Jewish writers of Midrash Tehillim and Commentary on Psalms (200-500 A.D.) recognized Psalm 110 as Messianic.
Q: In Heb 1:14 how are we to regard angels?
A: Here are five key things about our present and future relationship with angels.
We will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)
We are not to slander celestial beings, whether angels or demons. (Jude 8-10)
Angels are ministering to us (Hebrews 1:14)
We might entertain angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1)
We must not worship angels (Colossians 2:18); we are only to be devoted to Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:2)
Q: In Heb 2, what is the primary point, beyond Jesus great work and exalted state?
A: It is not just the greatness of Jesus, but rather the great distance He went for us. In Hebrews 1 Jesus was superior as the Son of God, and in Hebrews 2 Jesus is superior as the Son of Man. For a geographical analogy, it is not just that Jesus is higher than the Himalayas. Rather He originally was higher than the Himalayas, travelled all the way down to the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for us, in order to bring us up to the Himalayas with Him.
Of course behind this is the purpose of the entire book, which is given in Hebrews 2:1f: donít drift away.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2161 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:1, how do some who follow Christ drift away?
A: While some catastrophically fall away due to some sudden event, that is not the meaning of the word "drift". This Greek word, pararyomen is found only here in the New Testament and in Proverbs 3:21 in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. This refers to a gradually moving away that might be slight at first, but could be far in the end. Think of a ring that quietly slips to the end of your finger, and the off, and then could be many miles away. We have a responsibility to see that we do not even start to drift away.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.783 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.21 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:2, are we supposed to obey words spoken by angels or not?
A: Yes and no. Yes, people in the Bible listened to Godís obedient angels, because they gave messages from God. No, we are not supposed to pay attention to what evil, fallen angels teach (Galatians 1:8; 1 John 4:1-3). Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). However the Law of Moses was given through angels according to Deuteronomy 33:2 (Septuagint), Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19. Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews book 15 ch.136 also mentions this. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1133 and The Expositors Bible Commentary vol.12 p.21 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:2-3, do you think ignoring the gospel is not as bad, the same, or worse than ignoring the law from the time of Moses to Christ?
A: Hebrews 2:2-3 says that since the gospel is greater than the law, refusing to accept it is worse than refusing to accept the Mosaic Law. The Greek word "we" means a little more than just "we". It is almost like "Not them but we" See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.22 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2161 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:3, what is the difference between rejecting the salvation through Christ and ignoring it?
A: In Hebrews 2:4 the word "various" in "miracles" can have a vivid meaning of "various colored", i.e. hard to ignore. Rejecting it means a person has decided to move to the opposite of it, and at least at that time has closed the door to it. Ignoring it means not moving toward or away, and possibly leaving the door open to it at that time. However, in the end there is no difference; if you choose not to accept this salvation there is no other way to Heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). However, even if a person has fully rejected the gospel, god can later soften their heart and they can turn, repent, and accept it later, a Saul or Tarsus did. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.23 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:6, since Jesus is the "firstborn" of God, is Jesus is a created being? We are not supposed to worship created beings as Rom 1:25 says.
A: The father/son relationship is meaningful to our understanding of the term "firstborn". Two truths to understand in the answer.
1. Consider this analogy. Do people "beget" children, or do they buy them created at a store? The Only-Begotten Sonís divine nature is no more created by the Father than people "create" children.
2. The Sonís humanity was created by God, and we call Him firstborn as both first in rank and first resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20). It is wrong to use the term firstborn to deny the first truth: Jesus is the firstborn in honor, but He is also the "Only-Begotten" (John 3:16).
Now the second point being true does not prove the first point false. Jesus existed prior to all created beings, as 1 John 1 shows.
Q: In Heb 2:6-9, does this passage from Ps 8 refer to people, believers or Jesus?
A: It primarily refers to the "son of man", that is to Jesus. However, believers will reign with Christ, so it secondarily refers to believers, too.
Q: In Heb 2:9, how was Jesus lower than the angels?
A: This might have seemed strange to the angels too. We have to look at this as at first, then, and now.
Originally After creating all things in Hebrews 1:2, Jesus had glory with the Father in heaven according to John 17:5.
Then Philippians 2:5-8 tells us what great things Jesus did before coming to earth. Jesus emptied Himself and became less powerful than the angels here on earth. Hebrews 4:15 and 5:7-8 give a little more detail on what Jesus went through while on earth.
Now Jesus is now much greater than the angels as Hebrews 1:4-8 and 2:7 show. John 17:5, Philippians 2:9-11, and Revelation 5:11-14 tell what happened after Jesus ascended to Heaven.
Who would give up everything that Jesus gave up, having only trust and faith that He would get it back? Only someone who thought that the people he was sacrificing for were worth it. I guess you can say Jesus had to be God, because nobody would have done that for us, unless they had a God-sized heart!
Q: In Heb 2:9, since Jesus tasted death for everyone, why are all not saved? Is payment for some people made twice, once by them and once by Jesus?
A: Calvinists such as John Owen have asked this. Own and concluded, that since
1. Christís sacrifice is complete payment for all sins, including unbelief [for those to whom payment is applied].
2. All will not be saved; some will not go to Heaven.
3. Therefore, Christís sacrifice was not for all [God did not provide a way for the non-elect to have their sins forgiven and go to heaven.]
[My comment on this view is: born hopeless sinners with no way out, ultimately it was not their fault they went to Hell, this lays the responsibility solely at the feet of their Creator.]
It is interesting that some who ask this question have no problem with "twice guilt", saying mankind bears the guilt for Adamís sin as well as Adam. Anyway, Owenís question is still a fair one to ask. All should agree that
1. God demands only one payment be made
2. But that payment has to be made
Jesus provided payment for all, but He did not force payment for all. In other words, if a pauper owe a million-dollar debt, and millionaire graciously give him a suitcase filled with a million dollars, and the pauper burned the suitcase, the pauper is still fully liable for the debt, even though the millionaire paid for it. Payment was provided, but no payment was applied. So I would answer Owenís trilemma this way.
1. Christís sacrifice is complete payment for all sins, including unbelief [for those to whom payment is applied].
2. All will not be saved; some will not go to Heaven.
3. Therefore, Christís sacrifice was not applied to all [i.e. God did not force Christís saacrifice to be payment on those rejecting it.]
4. Ultimately it was their fault, not Godís, for their catastrophe of Christís payment not applying to them.
In addition to this informal analogy, here is the actual, authoritative scriptural teaching.
Hebrews 4:2 "For we also have and the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." (NIV) It does not say because Jesus did not die for them, but because they did not combine it with faith.
1 John 2:2 "and he [Jesus Christ] himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world." (NET)
1 Timothy 2:4-7 "since he[ God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For thee is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing Godís purpose at his appointed time." (NET)
Q: In Heb 2:10; 12:2; what is unusual about the phrase captain/author of our faith?
A: The word for captain/author, archegos in Greek, is exceptionally hard to translate in English. It sort of means "captain" (KJV, NKJV), "author" (like the NIV), or "pioneer" (RSV, NRV), but they are not really forceful enough for what the word really means. The meaning simultaneously includes "originator", "founder", "pioneer", "leader". The word includes both the concepts of "essential initiator", and "heroic leader". One might also think of Jesus as the "trailblazer" or "pathfinder", except that is not correct; Jesus did not merely find the way, rather He is the Way, and the only Way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.784 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.27 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:10,18, how could Jesus really suffer, since He is God?
A: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. But Jesus was not just a semi-man, but 100% man, and able to suffer just like a man because Jesus was as human as us. However, Jesus is also as much God as God the Father. The exact details of how these two aspects of Jesus relate to each other have been left as a mystery. But we can know some things within the bounds of what the Bible teaches.
Jesus on earth was one Person, with one will. He was not two people, or two wills, within one body. There was a serious error called Nestorianism that taught that Christ had two wills. It is debatable just how far off Nestorius was, but Nestorians after him took things farther and also followed Pelagianism. Many Nestorians evangelized China. Eventually they were banned from the Chinese Empire and many went north and converted a Mongol tribe. Later that Mongol tribe was wiped out by the other Mongols. There were many Nestorians in Central Asia, but many of them were wiped out by Tamerlane and other bloodthirsty conquerors.
Jesusí divine nature did not make His human nature inconsequential. His sufferings were real, not just appearances. A serious error, called Monophysitism, teaches that Christís human and divine natures are together sort of like putting a teaspoon of tea into the ocean. Monophysites today are called Copts.
Q: In Heb 2:10,18, since Jesus was already perfect, how could Jesus be perfected in suffering?
A: Jesus was not imperfect before this time. The Greek word for perfected, teleiusai, from teleo, means to complete, accomplish, or consummate. Jesus had a mission to accomplish, which He did. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.677-678, When Critics Ask p.511 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1509 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:11-14,17, if we are brothers and one with Jesus, will we have the same nature Jesus has?
A: We have the same human nature Jesus has, and we will have the same sinless human nature in Heaven. However, we do not and will never have Jesusí deity. 2 Peter 1:4 says we will participate in the divine nature, but this refers to what Christ has given us, not what we intrinsically have.
Q: In Heb 2:13-14, are we Christís children, or Christís brothers as Heb 2:11-14,17 says, or Christís bride as Eph 5:25-33 and Rev 21:2 say?
A: All the above. The terms children, brethren, and bride are metaphors to attempt to partially describe our close relationship with Christ. All believers, both male and female, are as brothers and the bride of Christ.
Q: In Heb 2:14 does the devil hold the power of death, or does God hold all power in Eph 1:11-22?
A: Before this question can be answered, we must first understand two things.
All God decrees happens and nothing happens except what God permits.
1. Everything God decrees happens. Isaiah 14:24,27; 43:13; 55:11; John10: 29; Hebrews 6:17; Matthew 28:18. Some examples are Daniel 9:26; 11:27,35,36; 12:1
2. God knows and sees all. 1 John 3:20; Psalm 139; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; Hebrews 4:13; Isaiah 46:10
3. God does as He pleases. Matthew 20:15; Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Romans 9:20; Daniel 4:35
4. Nothing is too hard for God. Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26
5. God rules over all. Psalm 103:19 [rules, not robotically controls]
6. Nothing happens beyond what God allows, as Job 1:12; 2:6; James 4:15 shows.
7. Every decision of "the lot" is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33
8. All things work together for Godís good will. -Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 16:4
9. None can successfully thwart Godís decrees, as Isaiah 43:13; Romans 11:29 shows.
10. Many succeed in resisting Godís commanded/desired will. Acts 7:39,51; 4:11; 13:46; 14:2; 2 Cor 6:1
11. Men resist, but none are ultimately successful. - just ask Jonah.
God can delegate Sovereignty
God has the freedom to choose to delegate a small part of His sovereignty, for a time and within limits, to others. God was not forced to make robots.
1. Some people think nothing happens except what God expressly decrees. - No verses actually say this.
2. Some things "did not enter Godís mind" - Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35
3. Believers can do some good things on their own initiative. 2 Corinthians 8:17
4. Some things make God very angry. Jeremiah 5:29; 8:19; 12:8; Ezekiel 8:6
5. Some break Godís heart. Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-9; Jeremiah 4:19-22; 9:1
See When Critics Ask p.511 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.28-29 for more info.
The devil has the power in demanding death according to the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2163. But ultimately that changed a Christ now has the keys of death and Hades in Revelation 1:18.
Q: In Heb 2:16-17, could Jesus have yielded to temptation and sinned?
A: Like Adam and Eve, Jesus was not born with a sinful nature. Yet Jesus, like Adam and Even, had all the capability to sin if Jesus wanted to do so.
The attack of temptation was real, but Jesus would not have succumbed. Satan attacking Jesus was sort of like the news story some years ago of a mentally ill Japanese martial arts expert slipping into a zoo to attack a 800 pound polar bear. He was rescued by the zookeepers tranquilizing the bear. From his hospital bed, he wanted the world to know that "all his blows had no effect". He was in a desperate struggle with the polar bear, but the polar bear was not in a desperate struggle with him. Likewise, Satanís blows were unsuccessful on Jesus.
See also the discussion on Matthew 4:1-11, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.418-419 Now Thatís a Good Question p.45-46, and When Critics Ask p.512 for complementary answers.
Q: In Heb 2:16-18 and Heb 4:15, regardless of whether Jesus could have sinned, how could He be tempted? James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted with evil.
A: Six points to consider in the answer.
1. One of Godís divine attributes is that God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13).
2. Jesus is God (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:9,11).
3. But Jesus also had a human nature. (Hebrews 2:14-17)
3. Jesus emptied Himself of many divine attributes to come to earth (Philippians 2:5-7; John 17:6).
4. The Bible does not tell us exactly how Jesus emptied himself, only that He did.
5. As one can test 100% pure water for its purity, Satan could test Christ for sin.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.678-680 and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.32-33 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:17, since Jesus was like us in every way, then how could Jesus be God?
A: Jesus temporarily emptied Himself of many of His divine characteristics in Philippians 2:6-7 and John 17:5. The writer of Hebrews was obviously not communicating that Jesus could not be anything more than a man, or he would not have showed that Jesus was God in Hebrews 1:8-9 and Hebrews 3:1-6. See also the discussion on Philippians 2:6-9 and Now Thatís a Good Question p.40-42 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:17-18, why did Jesus have to be fully human? Some might think that since Jesus was also God, He was beyond human frailties.
A: There are two complementary reasons: first, to live, understand, and experience what it is like to be a man (Hebrews 2:18), and second, to be a man to be a sacrifice for all men (Hebrews 2:17).
Hebrews 2:17 says Jesus had to be human, like his brothers in every way, to be our high priest. Hebrews 2:17 says it was not angels he helped, but people.
Hebrews 2:18: You might know people who have problems relating to God because "He does not understand what it is like to be human." But in his humanity, Jesus experienced a full range of feelings that you and I do. There are many examples in the gospels that show us that Jesus experience human emotions. He was compassionate towards people, He felt anger towards those who were hard of heart (Mark 3:5) and indignation (Mark 10:14), and He was amazed and sighed over unbelief (Mark 6:6; 8:12), but He also loved the young man (Mark 10:21). As the hour of His arrest approached, Jesus felt anxious and gloomy (Matthew 26:37). When He came to the tomb of Lazarus, He wept over his beloved friend (John 11:35).
As much as Jesus spent time ministering to the multitudes, He also felt the need for privacy (Mark 6:31; 7:17; 7:24 and 9:30). Likewise after His solitary fast in the wilderness, He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), and He understood how the crowds were hungry whom He fed. Jesus was faced with temptations: the devil offered Him all the kingdoms of the world and taunted Jesus to prove His divinity by throwing Himself off the wing of the Temple. Even the devil believed that Jesus could be tempted because of His humanity (and the devil had known Christ in His pre-incarnate existence before the fall). And while Jesus was hanging on the cross (almost beaten and whipped to death), He was tempted again to "come down" to save Himself.
If it were not for God living among us as a full human being, we might say that God does not understand what it is like to be a man. But Jesus experienced the totality of humanity and so He can relate to our needs and feelings Ė He knows on the most personal level what it is to be human.
(contributed by Mark Dumdei)
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) said similar. "But if He had not assumed a human body, He would not have been able to practice what He taught, - that is, not to be angry, not to desire riches, not to be inflamed with lust, not to fear pain, to despise death. These things are plainly virtues, but they cannot be done without flesh. Therefore He assumed a body on this account, that, since He taught that the desires of the flesh must be overcome, He might in person first practice it, that no one might allege the frailty of the flesh as an excuse." Epitome to the Divine Institutes ch.50 p.242.
In summary, Jesus had to be 100% human to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, but He was also 100% God to be sinless and save us. Our mediator had to be fully God and fully man.
Q: In Heb 2:17, how could Jesus be fully human, since He was not born of a human father?
A: John of Damascus answered this (704-736 A.D.). He said that Adam, Eve, and Seth had three modes of coming into existence, yet all were fully human. So Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary likewise does not disqualify Him from being fully human Either. See the Exposition of the Orthodox Faith book 1 ch.8 p.8 by John of Damascus for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:17, is Jesus being both God and human a temporary state or will it last forever?
A: Jesus being man as well as God will last forever, because Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever." When Jesus returns, He will still be called "the Son of Man" in Matthew 26:64. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.103-104 for more info.
Q: In Heb 2:18, was Jesus really God, since Jms 1:13 says God cannot be tempted?
A: If Jesus was only God, then He would be "un-temptable", also called impeccable by theologians. All Christians agree that the devil tried to tempt Christ, and that Christ never sinned, but some theologians like Charles Hodge said that it was possible that Christ could have sinned, otherwise the temptations would not have been real. Other theologians like William Shedd say that the temptations were real, but it was still impossible for Christ to sin. John Walvoord says that Shedd is correct, because just like a rowboat can genuinely attacked a battleship, the battleship is in no danger of sinking due to the rowboat. See https://bible.org/seriespage/7-impeccability-christ for more info.
Q: Does Heb 3:3-4 say that Jesus is God?
A: -Definitely, since God built the house, and Jesus is the builder.
Q: Do Heb 3:6, Heb 3:14, and Ezek 3:17-21 show genuine believers can lose their salvation?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this.
Christians who say people cannot lose their salvation would say that those who believed for a while and fell away never "shared in Christ", as evidenced that they "did not hold on to their courage".
Christians who say people can lose their salvation would have to say they used to share in Christ but no longer do so, because of the reason that they "did not hold on to their courage."
Regardless, all Christians should be able to agree that Godís knowledge of a personís destiny, before that person was even born, does not change. Therefore, one of the elect can never become one of the reprobate (unelect), since Godís knowledge is perfect. All should also agree that there are some who can appear saved, but they turn away from God and never return.
See also the discussion on Hebrews 6:4-12 and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.394-395 for more info.
Q: In Heb 3:7-4:7, how does the testing in the desert relate to the readers of Hebrews?
A: After the twelve spies returned from Canaan, the Israelites in the wilderness had a point of decision in whether or not to trust in God. That generation failed, and God said that no one from that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, would be permitted to enter the Promised Land.
Similarly, readers of Hebrews have a similar decision to make. Despite any hardship or persecution, we have a point of decision of whether to go forward with God or not.
Q: In Heb 3:10, how could all in that generation not know Godís ways and die in sin?
A: Taking the Bible literally does not mean we cannot also see that God sometimes speaks in generalities. God was speaking of that generation of Israelites in general. God specifically did not refer to Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and other younger people.
Q: In Heb 3:12, can people depart from the Living God?
A: Sure. 1 John 2:19 mentions those who went out from us because they never were really a part of us. Genuine believers, such as David and Solomon, can fall away in sin for a period of time and then return.
As to whether genuine Christians can permanently fall away, lose their salvation, and go to Hell, see the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 and Hebrews 6:4-10 for more info.
Q: In Heb 4:1-2, what exactly does the warning say?
A: While some translations say "let us be careful that", a more literla rendering si "let us fear, that". See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.39 for more info.
Q: In Heb 4:2, should this be translated "they did not combine it with faith" or "not having been mixed with faith"?
A: There is a variation in the Greek texts here, and there are three main ways to translate it. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.40 says it ultimately boils down to two ways, and it hinges on whether the Greek word "combines/unites" is in singular form or plural form. If it is singular, then it the shortcoming was the hearing not being combined with faith. If it was plural, then the problem was not being combined with them. Different Greek manuscripts have it differently.
Singular a) "they did not combine it with faith" NIV. Harclean Syriac. In other words, the hearers failed to unit the message with faith.
Singular b) "[it] not having been mixed with faith" KJV, NKJV, NASB, and Wuest. Sinaiticus, John Chrysostom, Wolfenbuttel (6th century), Georgian. In other words the message and faith failed to be united due to an unspecified cause.
Accusative Plural) "for they did not join in with those who heard it in faith." (NET). Similarly Williams Translation has "because they were not by faith made one(a) with those who heeded it." Footnote (a) says, "Fol. WH-mixed by faith, etc." p13? (question mark means it appears this way but is not certain), p46, (Alexandrinus), Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Ethiopic, Byzantine, Armenian, Palestinian Syriac (6th century). In other wordís they did not unite with Godís people, who heard the message in faith.
See also the NET Bible footnote on Hebrews 4:2.
Q: In Heb 4:3,8-10, does Jesus "give us rest" here or not?
A: For those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Jesus gives us rest from trying to work our way to Heaven.
Q: In Heb 4:4, (KJV), what does "on this wise" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means "in this way".
Q: In Heb 4:9, what is unusual about this word sabbatismos "Sabbath-rest"?
A: This is a single Greek word, and it is not in any Greek literature up until the Letter of Hebrews. It is very probable the author coined this word himself. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.42 for more info.
Q: In Heb 4:12, what is a soul vs. a spirit?
A: Christians disagree on their emphasis on the make-up of human nature. Here are three different theories of emphasis:
Tripartite: People have a body, soul, and spirit. The body has flesh, chemicals, and electric signals. The soul has intelligence, emotions, and will. The spirit has conscience and other aspects.
Bipartite: People have a material part and a non-material part. The soul and spirit are different, but they are intertwined, much as the bone marrow is intertwined in a bone lattice at the end of our arm and leg bones. Now Thatís a Good Question p.237-240 discusses both views and advocates the bipartite view.
Integrated: While there is a body, soul, and spirit, the interactions between the three are so great, that the interactive whole is more important than the three distinct parts.
Q: In Heb 4:13b, should it be "with whom we have to do (KJV), or "with whom we have to give account" (NIV)?
A: In general they mean the same thing, and in general we understand the Greek phrase. However, the precise answer to this question is that we are not sure, because the Greek word here logos here can have different meanings and ther is no verb in the phrase. Literally it would be "With whom we have to do", which is supported by 1 King 2:14 and 2 Kings 9:5 in the Septuagint. However, the word logos is also used in accounting, so the second meaning might be preferred. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.45 for more info.
Q: In Heb 4:15, what are other verses that show that Jesus was sinless?
A: Verses that show Jesus was sinless are:
John 8:46 "Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why donít you believe me?"
2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us,"
Hebrews 4:15 "...but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin."
1 Peter 1:19 "...like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb,..."
(Quotes from the NET Bible)
Q: In Heb 5:1-10, what is unusual about this passage?
A: Just as modern writing uses various literary techniques, chiasm is an old literary technique often used in ancient writings, including the Latin writings of the Roman Cicero and the Old Testament. In a chiasm, the passage symmetrically repeats itself. Here is the pattern in Heb 5:1-10. Notice that Heb 5:2 and Heb 5:9 are not the same but rather contrasts.
Heb 5:1 Every high priest selected among men to represent people to God. and offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
- Heb 5:2 Deals with ignorant and wanderers because he himself is subject to weakness
- - Heb 5:3 Offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the people
- - - Heb 5:4 Not take honor upon himself, must be called by God, as Aaron was.
- - - Heb 5:5-6 So Christ also did not the glory upon Himself, but God said He was Jesusí Father. A priest after the order of Melchizedek
- - Heb 5:7-8 On earth offered prayers and petitions ... Though a son learned obedience from what he suffered
- Heb 5:9 Once made perfect became source of salvation
Heb 5:10 Jesus selected by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek
Q: In Heb 5:2, what does "deal gently with" mean?
A: This Greek word, metriopathein, does not mean apathy (that is OK) or anger, but taking a third course between the two. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.47 for more info.
Q: In Heb 5:5 and Ac 13:33, how does Jesusí First Coming relate to Ps 2:7 "today I have begotten thee"?
A: While Jesus was begotten of the Father before time began, that is not what is referred to here. Jesus was begotten by God the Father in a non-sexual but physical way when Jesus came to earth.
No verse in the Bible says Jesus was the son of God in any other way at any later time. Romans 1:4 only adds that Jesus was "declared" to be the Son of God with power, by His resurrection from the dead. See Mormons Answered Verse by Verse p.52-53 for more info.
Q: In Heb 5:6, what should the translation of "order of Melchizedek be?
A: "Order" is close, but The Expositorí Bible Commentary vol.12 p.49 says that the translation "order of Melchizedek" is not completely correct, because there was not "order" or line of Melchizedek. The phrase "kind of Melchizedek" sort of grasps the meaning, but that unfortunately does not excactly convey the formality of that is should, like the word "order" does. There is no English word that can exactly translate this word!
Q: Does Heb 5:7 teach Jesus had flesh only before His resurrection as JWís and the Rev. Moonís Unification Church teach?
A: No, otherwise Thomas would view Jesus as a deceiver when Jesus shows Thomas His flesh so that Thomas would believe. See the discussion on 1 Peter 3:18 for the answer.
Q: In Heb 5:7 and Mt 26:39, did Christ fear His death, or was he resolutely determined to go to the cross in Lk 9:51?
A: Jesus was determined to accomplish His purpose on the cross, but Jesus asked that if possible, this cup be taken from Him. Jesus sweat drops of blood, so much was His anguish about what He knew was about to happen. It never says Jesus was timid or a coward, though. See When Critics Ask p.513 for more info.
Q: In Heb 5:7, if God the Father heard Jesusí prayers, how come the "cup" of dying on the cross in Mk 14:36 was not taken from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane?
A: First are three things that are not the answer and then the answer.
(not the answer) Delivered from the fear of death: The Greek word for "submission", eulabeia, can also mean reverent fear. However, one has to change the meaning of the words to transform "one who could save him from death because of his reverent submission/reverent fear" to "one who could save him from the fear of death"
(close but not the answer) God said no: The Greek word for hear, eisakoustheis, does not just mean God heard the sound, but rather that God answered the prayer. Of course God answers some of our prayers with a resounding "no", but there is a better answer here.
(not the answer) that Jesus should not die in Gethsemane. There is no mention of Jesus praying where He should not die in Hebrews, the gospels, or any other writings.
The answer: Matthew 26:39; 26:42; Mark 14:36; and Luke 22:42 all give not one but two parts to Jesusí prayer. The first part was that the Father would let this cup pass from Jesus. The second part, was, "Yet not as I will, but as you will." God answered Jesus prayer with a "yes" because the second part overruled the first part.
There is an important lesson for us to learn here. When we want something, and we know it might not be in Godís will, it is good to still pray to God what is on our heart. But we should pray that Godís will be accomplished rather than our own.
Of course God did deliver Jesus from death by Jesusí resurrection, but Jesus also knew that God was perfectly capable of delivering Jesus from dying. If Jesus had asked, the father could have sent twelve legions of angels in Matthew 26:53. Yet how would we have a ransom for our sins if Jesus did not die on the cross. I am glad Jesus prayed the last part of that prayer too.
Q: In Heb 5:8 and Php 2:7-8, since Jesus was obedient to God, how could Jesus be God?
A: On earth, Jesus had the role of being subject to and obedient to the Father. In the Trinity the three are equal in nature, but differ in role and rank.
The church writer Ambrose of Milan in 378 A.D. pointed this out in Of the Christian Faith book 2 chapter 10 verse 84, 88. On earth, Jesus as a child was subject to Mary and Joseph. Does that mean Jesus was less than Mary and Joseph? -Of course not.
Q: In Heb 5:8, can an all-knowing God learn? If not, how could Jesus learn obedience?
A: Jesus went though things on earth that He could not experience in Heaven. Also, Jesus temporarily gave up being all-knowing when He came to earth. Jesus chose to empty Himself of many of His divine qualities (Philippians 2:5-7, John 17:5). He did not know everything on earth, such as the day of His return (Matthew 24:26). God already knew in theory everything about obedience and suffering. But God came to earth, as Jesus Christ, and in accomplishing His mission He learned the experiences of obedience in the face of suffering. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.680-681 for more info.
An interesting note is that translations of Hebrews 5:8 usually say, "though he was the son", in order to be grammatically correct in English. While one could say the same in the New Testament Greek (Koine Greek) language, that is not what Hebrews 5:8 says. It says, "though he was son", which emphasizes even more that Jesus was not just one of many sons, but that Jesus was "son". See Wuest p.xii-xiii for more info.
Q: Should Heb 5:11 in an outline go with Heb 5:1-10 or Heb 5:12-14?
A: While Christian commentators do not all agree, most say it should go with the section after.
It should go with the section after, Heb 5:12-14, as indicated in the NIV, NET Bible, NRSV, Holman Christian Standard, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.792, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1136, the New International Bible Commentary p.1514-1515, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2172 "at this point the author must digress."
It should go with the section before, Heb 5:1-10, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.51 and Wuestís Expanded Translation.
The KJV, NKJV, and uNASB show every verse on a separate line and thus give no indication.
Q: In Heb 5:12-13, is it OK to have spiritual milk?
A: Spiritual milk means the basic truth of the Gospel. Spiritual milk is a good thing Christians should crave according to 1 Peter 2:2. However, just as a young child should grow to be able to eat meat, so should we.
Q: In Heb 6:1, why leave the elementary things and go on to mature things, when they were slow to learn the elementary things in Heb 5:11-14?
A: There is a time to repeat the elementary things, since the reader was not able to understand them yet. However, here is the time to give them a taste of more mature things, showing them that there was more than just the things they were slow to learn. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.793for more info.
Q: In Heb 6:1-3, what are the elementary things about Christ vs. the mature things?
A: Elementary things include repentance, faith in God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment according to Hebrews 6:1-3. But in general primary things, essential for salvation, are elementary things. Another view is that they are the Old Testament things as the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2172-2173 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1136 teach.
Mature things include the rest of the chapter, which is those who fall away and godís promises.
Many doctrines have both a primary part and a mature part. For example, there being only One God is primary thing, and the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being God is also a primary thing. An understanding of what the Bible says about the Trinity would be a more mature thing.
Q: In Heb 6:4-8, what should be our feelings as we read this?
A: We should share the sorrow of God and others over the lost. Jesus was very sorry over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39. Paul served God with "tears" in Acts 20:19. Paul even wished he were cut off for his people if it meant their salvation in Romans 9:1-3. The Jews, like the people mentions in Hebrews 6:4-8 were oh so close, and yet so far.
And yet we also have a feeling of resignation. When someone perishes in Hell, they can only say, "I was their own fault". God did not force anyone to choose Hell; Rather, God judicially sent Hell-bound people where they deserved to go, either explicitly because of the choice they made, or implicitly because of the choice they refused to make.
Q: What does Heb 6:4-12 teach about salvation?
A: There are two distinct issues in Hebrews 6.
1) How can a living person reach a state where repentance and salvation are no longer possible for them?
2) Can a genuine Christian lose their salvation?
1) Losing Further Opportunities:
Yes, a person can get to a point beyond which further repentance is not possible for that person. What makes Hebrews 6:6 especially scary is that it says people who fall away in the manner the writer talks about can never be brought back. Some interpreters claim this is a hypothetical situation that would never occur. However, there is no indication that God wanted us to ignore this warning and not the other warnings in the Bible. Rather, Hebrews 6:6 and Matthew 12:31-32 (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) are both permanent. In Matthew 12:31-32 the Jews, who were never Christians, saw enough and heard enough to know it was true. But not only did they decide not to accept Christís words on that day, but they ascribed His actions to the devil.
Now Christians still sin (1 John 2:1). In fact if we think we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). So then what are the verses in the previous paragraph referring to?
The main two purposes of the Book of Hebrews are to show Jews how Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and to encourage Jewish background believers to not turn back to Judaism but continue in the faith. So these passages do NOT refer to someone who sins, but to someone who turns their back on Christ and returns to their false hope, be it Judaism, or generalizing, to some other religion. 1 John 2:18-19 says that even in those times there were people who "appeared" to be saved church-goers, but then they left, presumably permanently. John says that they went out because they never were a part of us. If someone walks an aisle, or says some words, but they do not persevere in their faith, and then later turns their back on Christianity, they does not mean they lost their salvation; if they never return that means they never were saved in the first place.
Here are three cases I know personally that I think it does NOT refer to.
1. One college Christian girl I knew, for a period of months told God she wanted nothing to do with him and asked the Holy Spirit to get out of her life. She still believed, intellectually, but she was willfully disobedient. Later she repented, and returned to the faith. She said that that Hebrews 6:6 was especially scary for her. However, she did repent though. Perhaps God graciously was convicting her by bringing to mind that verse, and almost asking "Is that your final answer". A person who has run afoul of Hebrews 6:6 will not ever repent, and will not want to ever repent.
2. There was a pastor of a small church I knew who said that he was a pastor seven years before he was truly saved. After he was saved, he continued on being a pastor. This is not a case of falling away, but of someone who was never saved in the first place.
3. When I was a [Christian] teenager mowing a lawn, this Christian lady came out and we started talking. She said that her son had moved away to California to be with his live-in girlfriend. But she was sure that he was still saved though, because he had made a confession of faith in the church. I do not think she had any basis at all for her confidence. Paul the apostle tells us to examine ourselves and see if we are really in the faith in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Maybe he was never saved, but could be saved in the future. Maybe he knew so much about salvation and turned his back on it, and Hebrews 6:6 applies to him. Maybe he was genuinely saved before, he fell away into sin, but since he is genuinely saved he will return. We cannot say. Paul commanded the Corinthians to excommunicate an immoral brother in the church in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. However, 2 Cor 5:5 shows that Paul still had hope that after this discipline, the brother might be saved. We think that 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 refers to the same brother, and that he did return.
4. Personally I know of two Christians, one of whom left the faith and became a Muslim, and the other left and became a Mormon. Both of them later left and returned to Christianity.
Conclusion on this: We have to make a distinction between a believer who has drifted away into gross sin, and someone who has denied the faith and turned to something else. But whether their denying the faith is permanent, they might get saved in the future, or they are a saved person who is fallen and will return, we have to leave in Godís hands to judge.
What should be our attitude towards someone else who has drifted away? It should NOT be complacency saying "donít worry, they are saved anyway." It also should not be writing them off, as they will never come back. Jude 23 says, "save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." (uNASB). Now the end of Jude 23 implies these people were doing some pretty gross things, but they could still be saved.
James 5:19-20 says, "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (uNASB)
2) Can a genuine Christian lose their salvation
This can be thought of as three sub-issues:
a) Can someone whom God knows [with certainty] is one of the elect going to heaven, catch by surprise the all-knowing God and not go to heaven?
b) Can a person have confidence that they are saved, and be sadly, and permanently, wrong?
c) Can a person have a valid confidence that they are going to Heaven, and yet change and not make it to Heaven?
The answer to the first question, when it is phrased that way, is obvious: no.
The answer to the second question is yes, because Matthew 7:21-23 shows us
The answer to the third question is no, but it is not because they have the strength to keep in the faith, but because God has the strength to seal and preserve us in the faith, as Ephesians 1:13-14 shows. However, we must balance the doctrine of once-saved-always-saved with the doctrine that true saints will persevere in the faith. We DO have the responsibility to examine yourselves, as well as our leaders, and see that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5-7).
By the way, a written debate on person on once-saved-always-saved vs. a person can lose their salvation every time they sin is at http://www.biblequery.org/Doctrine.LoseSalvationOrNot/LoseSalvationOrNot.html.
Q: In Heb 6:4-12, can people lose their salvation?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this issue, but all should be able to agree on the following points.
1. God is never surprised. Before anyone was born, God knew for certain everyone who would go to Heaven (Revelation 20:12,15; 17:8; Psalm 139:16).
2. Some people will be surprised at the judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).
3. We can have confidence in our salvation (1 John 5:13; Hebrews 4:16; 10:35; Acts 8:13,20-23).
4. Our rightful confidence should not turn into complacency. Christians can lose rewards in Heaven, and Philippians 2:12-13 shows that (after being saved) the outworking of our salvation should be with fear and trembling. Praise God that it is He that is working in us!
5. There is such as thing a counterfeit conversion (1 John 2:19; Jeremiah 17:10; James 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; 2 Peter 2:17-22).
6. We can know if our salvation is genuine by examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5-6), in other words, by comparing our doctrine and life with scripture.
7. We are given the responsibility to persevere (Hebrews 6:11; 10:36; James 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:3; 4:5).
8. The Holy Spirit has sealed genuine believers until the Day of Judgment. (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; Jude 24; 1 Timothy 1:14). The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.191-193, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.419-421, and Now Thatís a Good Question p.115-117 for complementary answers. See also the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 for more info.
Q: What does Heb 6:4-12 mean about not being able to repent to salvation anymore?
A: There are at least six views.
1. Believerís loss of salvation: Christians who teach that believers can lose their salvation would interpret this passage to mean that once salvation is lost, it can never be regained. While I have heard someone teach this means it is "difficult" to regain salvation, that is not what the word "impossible" means in Hebrews 6. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.681-683 for more on this view.
2. A believer giving salvation back: David OíBrien in Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.307-310 says that a believer can never "misplace" their salvation, meaning no believer can sin so bad that that, unknown to them, their salvation is lost. Our staying saved is not maintained by works, just as our getting saved is not by works. However, a genuine believer could consciously choose to "give back" their salvation to God. Then, they would be like those who knew the truth, and crucified Jesus. They will be going to Hell. OíBrien interprets "impossible" to mean impossible for the person, but not impossible for God.
3. The unpardonable sin. Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin in Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:10-11. One writer of the New Geneva Study Bible p.1567 (The Unpardonable Sin article) believe that Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-29, and 1 John 5:16-17 also refer to the unpardonable sin.
4. Nonbelieverís loss of opportunity for salvation: There is no way to be saved apart from Jesusí death and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If a person rejects (without repentance) coming to God through Jesus (John 8:24) or blasphemes the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29), they will never go to Heaven. People can see and taste, but not swallow.
5. Hypothetical ad hominem: If salvation could be lost, then it could never be regained. But since salvation cannot be lost, these severe words are just an explanation, not a warning. R.C. Sproul in Now Thatís a Good Question p.592-594 takes this view, though he said he is not dogmatic about this. Curiously, the New Geneva Study Bible p.1941 mentions various views but not this one.
6. Christianís being disqualified for further service: A fallen-away Christian would not have the good witness to be of further service in this life, and of losing their glory in the millennium. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.794 takes this view.
See When Critics Ask p.514-515 for more info on the different views.
Q: In Heb 6:18, since God Almighty can do anything, how come He cannot lie?
A: Number 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 say that God does not lie, but Hebrews 6:18 says that God cannot lie. Three complementary answers, and all are true.
1. God can do any "thing", but a lie is not a thing. Since God created everything by His word (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6,9), and everything He says comes to pass (Isaiah 55:10-11), then whatever He says will be true.
2. There are no external constraints on God, but God can choose to observe internal constraints He Himself has set. God cannot not do anything that goes against His nature, such as lie, do evil, or deny Himself.
3. Finally, as Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.223 points out, "Almighty" means God can do anything He wants to. Since God does not want to lie, there is no issue here.
Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.) also refers to the concept in this verse, that it is impossible for God to lie, in 1 Clement chapter 27 p.12.
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) also taught the catechumens that God is Almighty, but He cannot die, be deceived, lie, or deny Himself. In fact, if He could do those things as God, He would not actually be Almighty. On the Creed ch.2 p.371
See the discussion on Jeremiah 32:17,27 for more info.
Q: In Heb 6:18 does it being impossible for God to lie fly in the face of Jesusí comment in Mt 19:26 that, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." How can all things be possible for God, as Jesus asserts, if it is impossible for God to lie, as Hebrews claims?
A: Actually there are four impossibilities with God. God cannot:
Lie (Hebrews 6:18)
Be tempted by evil (James 1:13)
Disown/Deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
Swear by anyone greater than Himself (Hebrews 6:13)
No "thing" is impossible with God. Lying and logical contradictions are not "things", and God does not do those.
Q: In Heb 6:18, what are some of the consequences of believing that God tells lies?
A: One consequence is that people can fall away and join a cult, such as Rev. Moonís Unification Church. Here is what Rev. Moon says.
"If you tell a lie to make someone better, that is not sin... Even God tells lies very often." Master Speaks 3/16/1973 p.11.
Divine Principle p.515 "There are two reasons why Jesus foretold that the Lord would come on the clouds. First, it was to prevent the delusions of antichrists. If it had been clarified that Christ would come on earth in the flesh, the confusion caused by the delusions of many antichrists could not have been prevented by any means. ... But fortunately, this kind of confusion has been avoided because all the believers, knowing that the Christ would come on the clouds, have looked up into heaven."
Divine Principle p.515 "Second, it was to encourage those saints who were walking the difficult path of faith at that time."
However: It is a serious sin to call God a liar, based on 1 John 1:10; 5:10; and Titus 1:2. Hebrews 6:18 says God cannot lie, as well as Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29.
If it were OK to lie, would it be OK for Rev. Moon to lie about himself being the Messiah? What else would it be OK for Rev. Moon to lie to you about?
Q: In Heb 6:19, what is the "anchor for the soul, and how is the anchor an anchor?
A: An anchor has a chain, anchored to a heavy metal weight or hook, the real part of the anchor. The chain does not help much without the heavy hook though. Likewise our anchor is our faith in Christ, and faith without the anchor would not be solid. Likewise if there is no chain, the ship drifts away and the anchor does not good. Without faith, people can drift away too.
Q: In Heb 7:1-10, why is Jesus compared with Melchizedek in Gen 14:18-20?
A: One simple reason is that the Old Testament itself compares the Messiah with Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 shows the Messiah will be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. A mysterious reference in passing is Genesis 14:18-20. The significance is shown in a somewhat less mysterious fashion in Psalm 110:4, and only finally explained in Hebrews 7:1-10.
It is true that the author of Hebrews emphasizes details that were not main points in Genesis. For example, Abimelechís father was not mentioned either, but that does not make him a type of Christ. The author of Hebrews cannot prove the points in Hebrews 7:1-10 based on the authority of Genesis.
However, he never claimed to do so. Christians believe the Bible was written under the inspiration and authority of the Holy Spirit. The author of Hebrews is bringing out three things:
1. Proof of the place of the Messiah with comparison to Melchizedek, based on Psalm 110:4.
2. Proof that there was another priesthood of God prior to the priesthood with Aaron.
3. Many Christians also see Melchizedek as a pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.565-566 for more info. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.683-685 also suggests the work by Bruce Demarest, A History of Interpretation of Hebrews 7.1-10 from the Reformation to the Present (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1976).
As a side note, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441 says that the sect at Qumran understood Melchizedek to be a heavenly deliver who would proclaim Godís salvation. Among the Dead Sea Scrools, Melchizedek appears in the Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen) 22:14-17and the manuscript Melchizedek (11Q13), as well as in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q401)), and 4Q544. Philo and Josephus also referred to Melchizedek, as well as TArgum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 14:18 and Targum Meophyti I. See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.535-537 for more info.
Q: In Heb 7:1-10, what is the "order of Melchizedek"?
A: This is not some Christian-only phrase, as this phrase is first used a thousand years before Christ in Psalm 110:4. The Old Testament tells us little about the order of Melchizedek, except for three things we can learn by inference.
1. It is totally independent of the Israelite priesthood from the order of Aaron.
2. Genesis 14:18-20 shows it preceded the priesthood from Aaron.
3. Psalm 110:4 shows that it would figure in the future with the coming of the Messiah.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.565-566 for more info.
Q: Does Heb 7:1-11, along with Christís virgin birth, prove that we are guilty for the sins of all of our ancestors by being in their loins?
A: No. Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 specifically say that we are not guilty for our fatherís guilt.
Most Christians see an important practical reason why Jesus was born the way He was; unlike us, Jesus was born without a sinful nature. There is no need to postulate a second reason, that Jesus did not have the guilt from Joseph, Adam, or anybody in between.
Q: Does Heb 7:1-11 prove we are guilty for Adamís sin by virtue of our being in Adamís loins?
A: No, for three reasons.
1. This verse no more proves guilt for Adamís sins than it proves guilt for all our other ancestorís sins.
2. No, because Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 show that each person dies for his own sins. It specifically mentions that we are not declared righteous because of our fathersí righteousness, and we are not guilty because of our fatherís sin.
3. No, because even if we did unknowingly sin in Adam, Romans 4:15 and 5:13 shows that sin is not counted where there is no law.
However, even though we may not be guilty for our forefatherís sins, we still can bear the consequences of their sin.
Q: In Heb 7:1-11, what does this mean?
A: While the direct observations are straightforward, it is the relationship to the authorís point that is interesting.
1. Abraham, giving a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, a non-Hebrew priest of the Most High God, proves it was possible to be a priest without being from the order of Aaron.
2. Furthermore, the fact that Abraham, ancestor of Levi, gave a tithe to Melchizedek demonstrates that Melchizedekís priesthood is greater than the Aaronic priesthood.
Q: In Heb 7:2-4, was Melchizedek really Jesus or not?
A: There are two possibilities about this mysterious figure.
Melchizedek was Jesus: Melchizedek could have been Christ Himself, appearing on earth prior to His incarnation at Bethlehem. Since it says Melchizedek was without father or mother, beginning of days or end of life, Melchizedek is Jesus, unless Hebrews 7:3 simply means these things were not recorded in Genesis. Many early Christians believed this.
Melchizedek was a type of Jesus: Melchizedek was an ordinary man who followed God. It says Melchizedek was "made like Jesus", and Christ was a priest "after the order of Melchizedek", but it never says Jesus is Melchizedek. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.124-125 and When Critics Ask p.515 for more info on this view.
See also the next question.
Q: In Heb 7:2-11, does Scripture say Melchizedek definitely is Jesus or not?
A: The answer is simple and should be clear to all: Scripture does not say. It is ambiguous, and most likely deliberately so. It is significant that the point of Hebrews 7:2-11 is clear regardless of whether Christ is Melchizedek or not.
Q: In Heb 7:3, was Melchizedek reincarnated?
A: No. While there are actually five very different theories of reincarnation: Western New Age, Hindu, Buddhist, ĎAlawite Muslim, and Ghulat Muslim, this verse supports none of them. Hebrews 7:3 is comparing Jesus with Melchizedek. Some think Melchizedek is simply an analogy or "type" of Christ. Others believe Melchizedek was actually a pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ. Regardless, all Christians agree that Jesus existed ever since time began. However, believing God the Son existed from eternity past, does not mean any of us existed before we were conceived. See When Critics Ask p.515 and When Cultists Ask p.284-285 for more info.
Q: In Heb 7:9-10, does this somehow show a human fetus is only potentially human, not an actual one, and thus abortion is OK?
A: No. First of all, Levi, was not Abrahamís direct son, but his great-grandson. To make a case of the unimportance of the life of a fetus based on the importance of Leviís ancestry, shows a desperation to try to find Biblical arguments in favor of abortion. See the discussion on Romans 5:12 and When Critics Ask p.440,515-516 for more info.
Q: In Heb 7:14, how is the writer saying a priest could come from Judah?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was from Judah in two ways, both by his adopted legal father (Joseph), and by Mary through birth.
2. It is conceded that no one from Judah could be a priest after the order of Aaron.
3. But there can be other orders of priests. Specifically, Melchizedek was a priest who was not from Aaron and earlier than Aaron.
4. The priestly order of Melchizedek was greater than the priestly order of Aaron by
4a. Aaron and Leviís ancestor paid tithes to Melchizedek.
4b. It was said so by a direct oath from God in Psalm 110:4.
5. Jesus was appointed by God the Father to serve as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron.
Q: In Heb 7:19 and 8:17, did Mosesí Law make nothing perfect, or was the Law perfect as Ps 19:7 says?
A: In these verses, perfect means to fulfill its intended purpose. The Law was perfect in its purpose to show us Godís commands for us, as Romans 3:20 shows. The Law did not save anyone, and thus it was not able to make any person perfect; God does that. Actually we do not have commands to follow; rather we have Christ to follow and commands to keep. See When Critics Ask p.516 for more info.
Q: In Heb 7:26 (KJV), how is Christ "harmless" if He will come back and destroy the ungodly?
A: The King James Version word is better translated "blameless" today. However, in a court of law, to "hold someone harmless" means to view them as free from any liability.
Q: In Heb 7:27, were the Jews right to discontinue sacrifices after the destruction of the Temple, because they were only to sacrifice when there was a temple?
A: This would be news to David, who had the ark in a tent through his reign. Come to think of it, this would be news to Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel and others. There is no verse in the Old Testament (Tanach) that says even though they used to sacrifice before they had a temple, once the temple was built and destroyed they could not go back to what they did before.
Q: In Heb 8:1, was Jesus our priest, or our sacrifice?
A: In this unique situation, Jesus was both our High Priest and our sacrifice. See When Critics Ask p.516-517 for more info.
Q: In Heb 8:1 and Heb 9:11, how was Jesus qualified to be our high priest?
A: Before answering this question, it is important to first understand the role of a high priest. The high priest did one thing no other priest could do, on the Day of Atonement, he entered the most holy place and offered the sacrifices to God. As a man, he represented the people before God. God chose the descendants of Aaron to represent God to the people. Jesus is qualified as our high priest in at least four ways.
1. Jesus once and for all offered the sacrifice for us by offering Himself. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Peter, Moses, and John were good guys, but they were not capable of paying the penalty for our sins, because they were not sinless.
2. Like other high priests, Jesus represents God to us. He can do this better than any mere mortal high priest, because Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:8-9; John 20:28), and the fullness of God dwells in Him (Colossians 1:19).
3. Like other high priests, Jesus represents us before God. He can do this because He was like us in all things (Hebrews 2:17).
4. The Israelites needed a new high priest whenever the old high priest died (Hebrews 7:23-25). Jesus is alive in Heaven, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Q: In Heb 8:1-3, is it OK to call a man on earth today our priest?
A: It is superfluous to have any other priests. Jesus is the only priest we need today for at least three reasons.
Explicitly, Jesus is named as our high priest in Hebrews 8:1.
In the past, Jesus once and for all made one offering (Hebrews 10:14), once and for all (Hebrews 9:12; 10:10). Catholics and some Lutherans should note that Hebrews 10:26 explicitly shows that Jesus did not suffer since the foundation of the world.
Even today, Jesus lives to intercede for us before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).
On the other hand, in a lesser sense all believers are priests according to 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6 and 5:10.
Q: In Heb 8:5, what was the purpose of the example of the Tabernacle?
A: Hebrews 8:5 says the Tabernacle was a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven. However, just as a two-dimensional drawing is not identical to a two-dimensional photograph, much less a three-dimensional thing, this does not mean Heaven is exactly like the earthly Tabernacle.
Q: In Heb 8:5, does the tabernacle being a shadow of Heavenly things support the Platonist idea of our world being shadows of the real world of ideas?
A: No. While probably most Greek speakers were at least somewhat familiar with Plato, Platoís world of ideas was not one of material structures. For example, Platoís philosophy would (rather foolishly) teach that couches in this world were imperfect, modified copies of the abstract, "ideal couch". Likewise beds are imperfect modified copies of the "ideal bed". We run into a problem with Laz-e-boy couches or rollout beds. Perhaps the ideal world had to create a new entity at the time the Laz-e-boy couch was invented in the real world.
Unlike the Greeks, the writer of Hebrews and the rest of the Bible understood that Heaven was material, with (glorified) flesh, and structure. Other ancient Jewish books that showed they understood the earthly Tabernacle to be a copy of a material Heavenly tabernacle are 2 Baruch 4:5; and Antiquities of the Jews 3:123 (c.93-94 A.D.), and Wars of the Jews 5:212-213, both by Josephus. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.685-587 for more info.
Q: In Heb 8:5-7,13; 9:1,15; 10:9,16, since the Mosaic law was the first covenant, then what about the covenants with Adam, Noah, and Abraham?
A: These agreements were with individuals, not with a nation or people. See also the next question.
Q: In Heb 8:5-7,13; 9:1,15; 10:9,16, does the Bible teach "covenants" or "dispensations"?
A: The Bible teaches both. Actually, there are seven points Christians who are covenantalists and dispensationalists can agree on, and some differences.
A1. All who were, are, or will be saved are saved through Jesus. (Hebrews 11:39-40; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:6) See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.77-78,85 (a dispensationalist) for more on how Old Testament believers were "saved exactly as New Testament believers are saved" through Christ.
A2. In the Old Testament people individually made a covenant with God, too (Psalm 50:5).
A3. God made a series of agreements with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Joshua.
A4. In the Old Testament people corporately made a covenant with God (Jeremiah 34:13,18).
A5. There were and will be only two covenants, the first was under Moses (Hebrews 9:9), and the second and eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20), which is superior (Hebrews 8:6).
A6. We are now in the dispensation/administration of grace (Ephesians 3:2). The Old Testament looked forward to Christís atonement, while we now look back to Christís atonement.
A7. There will be a future dispensation, when all things will be together under Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
Differences and Emphases:
Various covenant and dispensationalist theologians disagree on a number of things:
1. Covenant theologians say all Godís Old Testament promises are today fulfilled only in the church. The unbelieving Jews were grafted out, and from that time on, the "Israel of God" is the church, and the Jews today are no different than any other ethnic group. Nevertheless, R.C. Sproul, in Now Thatís a Good Question p.504-505 teaches that based on Romans 11, "God still has another chapter to write for the Jewish people as such."
Dispensationalists say some of Godís Old Testament promises will be fulfilled in future Israel, such as the 144,000. Jews today are still Godís chosen people. As for applying this theology, it was dispensationalists, not covenantalists, who promoted humanitarian airlifts to help Jews in the former Soviet Union leave and return to Israel.
2. In general, dispensationalists do not put the same degree of emphasis on observing the Law, including the law of tithing and the Sabbath/Lordís Day. See Now Thatís a Good Question p.436-438 for a covenantalist view of tithing being a law today, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.107 for a dispensationalist view of why it is not a law today, but a matter of liberty. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.109-110 says why the Sabbath is not for today.
3. Ultra-dispensationalism which is rejected by Dallas Theological Seminary, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.114, and other dispensationalists, teach that we now live in a different dispensation than the New Testament times, and baptism is not valid today. See the discussion on 1 Corinthians 1:17 for more info on the error of ultra-dispensationalism.
4. One covenant theologian, John Gerstner, claims dispensationalists under-emphasize the role of Christ in the salvation for all at all times. dispensationalists deny this charge.
For an example of a covenant view, R.C. Sproul says in Now Thatís a Good Question p.283-284, "salvation occurs exactly the same way in the Old Testament as it does in the New Testament - through faith. The only difference is that Old Testament faith was in a future promise that had not yet been fulfilled."
5. Covenant theologians, such as Gerstner and the New Geneva Study Bible (p.1990), claim some dispensationalists teach "cheap grace" and ignore Godís law. One dispensationalist seminary graduate I know as he was reading this, shouted in surprise. Needless to say, dispensationalists deny this charge, too. However, it was some dispensationalists, not covenant Theologians, that promoted the view that you could be Christian by only accepting Jesus as your Savior, and making Him your Lord was a later option.
6. Extreme dispensationalist teaching occasionally emphasizes that today the Gospel saves, almost to the exclusion that it is God who saves. Is God powerless to save babies and the severely mentally handicapped because they did not hear the Gospel?
In general, the fact that some people take a viewpoint to the extreme does not prove that viewpoint wrong, if the non-extremist version of that view includes a balance that guards against the extreme. However, extremists who take a view to its logical conclusions, do demonstrate the entire viewpoint is wrong, if there is no teaching that prohibits taking it to the extreme.
Q: In Heb 8:10, since Jesus died for all men, how is the second covenant only with the house of Israel?
A: Hebrews 8:10 says the covenant would be with Israel; it does not say no one but Israel. However, rightly understood, it is with Israel, and all believers are adopted into Godís chosen people. Two specific points:
1. All believers are spiritually sons of Abraham, according to Ephesians 2:12-13; Galatians 4:24-28; Romans 4:12,16-17.
2. Even Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus are going to die in their sins according to Matthew 23:29-33; John 8:24; Acts 20:21; 2:37-40; and Romans 9:6.
Q: In Heb 8:11 and Jer 31:33-34, are we supposed to teach each other?
A: Yes we are. This verse does not just say that we shall not teach each other. Rather, it says that we shall not teach each other, saying "Know ye the Lord", because believers will all know the Lord.
There is an important theological point here. While in the Old Testament times, only a few believers had the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, in New Testament times, all believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. John 14:23 shows that all who have Christ have the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9-11 shows that those today who do not have the Holy Spirit do not have Christ.
Q: In Heb 8:13, how could the Old Covenant vanish away, since Jesus said in Luke 16:16-17 that not one jot or tittle will pass away?
A: In Luke 16:17 Jesus said that the Law would not fail. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said that by no means will one jot or tittle pass away, until all is fulfilled. See the discussion on Romans 7:6 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:2-4, briefly, was the golden altar of incense in the Most Holy Place, or was it in the Holy Place as Ex 30:6 and Leviticus 16:12-13,18 show?
A: Some ancient manuscripts of the book of Hebrews say this altar was in the Holy Place, however, we are not required to appeal to those manuscripts to answer the question.
Brief answer: Was the veil a part of the Holy Place or Most Holy Place since it separated the two? You could say it was a part of both. Likewise, 1 Kings 6:22 gives the answer on the altar. It says that the altar "belonged" with the Most Holy Place. The altar, along with the veil, formed the boundary, when the veil was pulled back for the High Priest to go through on the Day of Atonement.
See the next question for a more detailed explanation.
Q: In Heb 9:2-4, was the golden altar of incense in the Most Holy Place, or was it in the Holy Place as Ex 30:6 and Lev 16:12-13,18 show?
A: See the previous question for the brief answer.
Long answer: There are so many explanations to answer this question, it is a puzzle to sift through them to find the correct one. The answers can all be placed into three categories: words, movement, and purpose. Each of which has a least likely answer and one or two more likely answers.
First three facts that are not directly involved in the answer, and then the answer.
Fact 1: Day of Atonement use: The priest only entered the Most Holy Place once a year. The priest took burning coals from this altar, and past the curtain into the Most Holy Place (Leviticus16:12-13).
Fact 2: Position of the altar: Exodus 30:1-10 shows the priest (not necessarily high priest) was to burn incense on the gold-overlaid altar every morning. This is what Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist was doing when an angel appeared to Him next to this altar in Luke 1:8-11. Zechariah was part of a division of priests, and thus he was not a high priest. Leviticus 16:12 also shows the altar was in the Holy Place, not the Most Holy Place. 1 Kings 6:22 could mean the altar was in the Most Holy Place, but not necessarily. 1 Kings 6:22 only says that it "belonged" with the most Holy things, (meaning on the Day of Atonement) not that it was physically located there. According to When Critics Ask p.517, Philo, Josephus, and other Jewish writers said it was in the holy place, too. Contrary to this, The Apocalypse of Baruch 6:7 states the altar was in the Most Holy Place.
Fact 3: Two Altars (unlikely): While there could have been two altars, this is unlikely, because there is no Biblical or extra-Biblical reference to two altars.
Words definition (unlikely): The literal Greek word in Hebrews 9:3 is "instrument of incense". Grammatically, it can refer to the censor the priest carried with him. However, this is unlikely because then the book of Hebrews would be describing in detail each piece of other three pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle, mention the censor, and pass over in silence the altar of incense. Also, the Jewish writers Philo and Josephus use this word to refer to the altar.
Old Testament manuscript variation: While the Masoretic text and Septuagint both say the alter was in the Holy Place, the Samaritan Pentateuch says it was behind the veil (in the most holy place.) See The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.934 for more info.
New Testament manuscript variation: The Greek manuscripts Vaticanus, the Coptic versions, and the Ethiopic version say it is in the Holy Place, not the Most Holy Place. However, it is not needed to appeal to these manuscript variations to answer the question.
Early Christian Writing: Five Books Against Marcion, by Tertullian, in book 4 lines 140-145 mentions the golden altar in the Holies of Holies.
Annual Movement of the altar on the Day of Atonement (unlikely): Was the altar moved once a year? This is unlikely. The altar was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It was small, about 3 feet by 1 Ĺ feet by 1 Ĺ feet in size. Cast gold is very dense, about 19.3 g/cm3. Assuming the thickness of the gold was an eighth of an inch, the weight of the gold would be 225-235 pounds. While it could be pushed by one man, it was not very portable for a priest who would also be carrying incense and a censor for coals. Other priests could not help carry it inside the most holy place (Leviticus 16:17; Hebrews 9:7). Thus the altar probably was not moved on the Day of Atonement.
One-time movement of the altar: There was "the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary", as 1 Kings 6:22 states. The Hebrew here is ambiguous: it could either mean that in Solomonís time the altar was located in the Most Holy Place, or that the altar belonged to the Most Holy Place. If the first meaning is meant, the altar was in the Most Holy Place in Solomonís Temple. However, this is unlikely, as Zechariah in Luke 1:8-11 was burning incense on this altar when the angel appeared to him, as it says the priests (not just high priest) were supposed to in Leviticus 16:12. Outside of the Bible we get mixed signals on this. Philo and Josephus say the altar was in the Holy Place, but The Apocalypse of Baruch 6:7 states the altar was in the Most Holy Place.
Movement of the curtain: Assume the second meaning of 1 Kings 6:22 is meant. A key piece of missing information is how the priest, with a censor full of fire, incense, and blood on his finger in his other hand, would go behind the veil. (He could not just roll under it.) Matthew 27:51 indicates the veil was not two veils fastened in the middle, but one solid piece. Assume for a moment that the priest simply squeezed between the wall and the veil on one side. This would be problematic with all the things he was carrying, and hoping the censor did not catch the veil on fire. A more likely scenario is that the priest opened the veil, at least part-way, and then went in. Once the veil was opened, the altar was a part of the Most Holy Place and used in the ceremony there.
This is similar to our prayers on earth. We are sinful, and not a part of Godís Most Holy Place in Heaven. However, some day for us, the veil will be taken aside, and Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4, shows that not only us but also our prayers will be in the Most Holy Place in Heaven. (It sort of motivates you to pray, doesnít it.)
See When Critics Ask p.517-520 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.81-82 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:4, are the stone tablets the same as the book of the Law in Dt 31:24-26?
A: No. Deuteronomy 31:24-26 shows the Book of the Law was the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), and not the Ten Commandments. The original Torah was placed beside the ark, not in it. The stone tablets were the Ten Commandments.
Q: In Heb 9:4, were the three things in the ark of the Covenant, or in front of the ark as Ex 16:33-34, Num 17:10-11, 1 Ki 8:9, and 2 Chr 5:10 imply?
A: By the way, the ark, is also called the ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:16-22), because it held the "testimony", that is, the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Formerly in the ark: Exodus 16:33-34 says the jar of manna was put before the Lord to be kept for generations to come. Numbers 17:10-11 says they were to put Aaronís staff in front of the Testimony. While only Hebrews 9:4 says those things were put inside the ark, presumably these things were put in the ark. Exodus 25:21, Exodus 40:20 and Deuteronomy 10:2,5 says Moses put the stone tablets in the ark. When Exodus 40:20 says the stone tablets were put in the ark, it is possible the other two objects were put in at that time.
500 years later, in Solomonís time, after the ark was captured by the Philistines, and after 70 men had looked inside the ark (1 Samuel 6:19), in 1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10, the ark had only the stone tablets inside of it. Hebrews 9:4 is speaking of what was originally inside the ark. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.160 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:6-9, what was the point of all of this separation in the tabernacle?
A: Some buildings today have restricted access to certain parts, such as electrical power rooms, for safety, to reduce the number of fatalities.
In Old Testament times this graphically emphasized the separation between Holy God and sinful man. Even the high priest could only go in once a year. That is only one specific man, from one family, from one tribe, from the entire population. According to Josephus, during the time of the temple when the priest went in he had twelve bells around the bottom of his robe and a rope around his waist. What would happen if God were so displeased with the priest, and the priests died within the holy of holies; who would bring him out? When the rope around his waist, so that someone could pull him out, and the bells, that would jingle to indicate that he was still moving.
The Jewish rabbis in Tal Yoma 5:1 says that when the high priest went in "but he did not prolong his prayer let he put Israel in terror" according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.83. It also says that after he went in (and came out) he would hold a feast with his friends.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2185 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:10 (KJV), when was the "time of reformation"?
A: This King James Version expression can also be translated "time of setting things right".
Q: In Heb 9:12-14, what exactly is "redemption"?
A: This was no mystery to Jewish people; it was a common concept in the Old Testament. Every first-born animal was to be sacrificed, except that it could be "redeemed" by something in its stead according to Exodus 13:13.
Likewise the firstborn children were to be redeemed by sacrificing an animal as Exodus 13:14-16 shows. In Luke 2:23-24 Mary and Joseph presented on offering after Jesus was born, as Leviticus 12:6-8 commanded.
God redeemed the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians in Exodus 6:6 and Deuteronomy 7:8.
In general, the meaning of redemption, lytrosis in Greek, is setting something free by payment of a ransom price according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.86.
In Old Testament times, God saved people on "credit", knowing what Christ would do, according to the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2187.
Q: In Heb 9:14 (NIV, NASB), should this Greek word be translated as "serve", or "worship" as in the NET Bible?
A: The Greek word in general can mean worship or serve. However, it is the same Greek word used in Hebrews 9:9 where it only means "worship".
Q: In Heb 9:15, should this Greek word diatheke be translated covenant, or will or testament?
A: The KJV translates this as "New Testament" while "New Covenant is the translation of the NKJV, NIV, NRSV, NASB. The NCV has "agreement". Wuestís Expanded Translation has "a testament new in quality"
The Hebrew word can be translated as "covenant" or something like "last will and testament". Some see "covenant" are more appropriate here as something that is unalterable. Some see "will or testament" as better, because this was something that was only applicable after Christís death.
Regardless, "New Covenant/Testament" does not mean the twenty-seven books of the New Testament scriptures. Some people in the Hebrew Roots Movement have seen "New Testament" in the KJV, are unaware that other translations say "covenant" and accuse the KJV translators of deception, by making it sound like the (books of the) New Testament.
Q: In Heb 9:15, was Christís payment for our sins retroactive?
A: Absolutely yes. Hebrews 9:15 says that Christ died for sins committed under the first covenant. In Godís certain knowledge Jesus was slain from before the foundation of the world in Revelation 13:8. Romans 3:25 also indicates that he did it for prior sins which were until then left unpunished. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.85 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:21, where does it say the tabernacle and other things were sprinkled with blood?
A: It does not say this in the Old Testament; but Jewish people were apparently aware of it. Josephus mentions this in Antiquities of the Jews book 3 p.205-206. [viii 6]. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.89 for more info.
Q: In Heb 9:25-28, could Jesus be sacrificed many times during the Roman Catholic Mass, with the bread and wine?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this.
Lutheran and Catholic Christians say yes. One Lutheran taught that since God is timeless, the atonement can be timeless. The Lordís Supper is a connection in time with the time Christ died on the cross through the timelessness of God.
Orthodox Christians teach the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, but they leave it a mystery as to how.
Most Protestant Christians say no.
In John 19:30, "It is finished" are the last words of Jesus. This is actually an accounting term, that could be translated "paid in full."
Hebrews 9:25-28 explicitly teaches that Jesus does not offer a sacrifice again and again; rather, Jesus was sacrificed once.
In Hebrews 10:11-12, Jesus did not perform his religious duty day after day; rather Jesus offered for all time one sacrifice for sins. Then Jesus sat down, a position of comfort, favor, and honor.
Q: In Heb 9:27-28, could reincarnation be true and be compatible with Christianity?
A: No, for a number of reasons.
In general, if God bodily resurrects all at the last day, that does not make much sense if we do not have one, and only one, body.
In Hebrews 9:27-28, it specifically says here that "just as man is destined to die once and then face judgment".
In 2 Sam 12:22-23, David said of his dead baby "I will go to him [the grave], but he will not return to me." However, Scripture is accurately recording Davidís words, but this verse would not prove Davidís opinion was correct, except in combination with Hebrews 9:27-28.
Ecclesiastes 11:3 says that wherever a tree falls, there it will lie. The context of Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 is cause and effect, and the context of the whole book is life and death under the sun.
Reincarnation was absent from not only the entire Old and New Testament, but absent from Jewish and Christian tradition. The concept was believed by a few pagan Greeks. Christians were aware of the concept, and thoroughly rejected reincarnation as unbiblical, as shown by Hippolytus.
Hippolytus (Against Plato, verse 2), in his extensive discussion of Hades, also briefly mentions that resurrection does not mean the soul is transferred to other bodies, but rather that God raises the bodies themselves. In The Refutation of All Heresies, 1:2, Hippolytus mentions that Pythagoreans believed in the error that the soul goes through successive bodies.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.34 p.194 (after 205 A.D.) called the idea of menís souls returning in beasts [reincarnation] the "ribaldry of buffoons."
If someone chooses to believe in reincarnation regardless of what the Bible say, that is one thing, but please do not lie about what the Bible says. Use whatever words of man you desire, but please do not try to twist the Godís word to say something God did not say.
For more on reincarnation, see the discussion on Luke 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:37; Galatians 1:15-16, Galatians 6:7-8, Hebrews 7:3, and James 3:6.
Q: In Heb 9:28f, what does "those who are waiting", apekdechomenois, mean?
A: This word is used seven time sin the New Testament: Romans 8:19,23,25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28. each time it refers to those who are waiting for the return of Christ. How appropriate is it to call yourself, and those in your local church, as among "those who are waiting".
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.803 for more info.
Q: In Heb 10:4-11, since the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, then why did the Jews have to sacrifice them for 1,400 years?
A: See the discussion on Exodus 30:12, Leviticus 4, and Leviticus 5:13 for the answer. See When Critics Ask p.522 for more info.
Q: In Heb 10:6-7, is "a body you have prepared for me" a quote of Ps 40:6 "my ears you have opened [pierced]"?
A: The Masoretic text says "my ears you have pierced". Hebrew slaves were to be freed every seven years, but the ears were pierced of a slave who voluntarily chose to serve his master for life.
The Septuagint says "a body you have prepared for me." The Old Testament translations of Symmachus and Theodotion also have "body". Thus, Psalms 40:6 was probably altered in the Masoretic text. (As an aside, the Dead Sea scrolls do not have Psalm 40:6 preserved).
Either way, Jesus was fitted for obedient service. See When Critics Ask p.521 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.803-804 for more info.
Q: In Heb 10:10, was Jesusí body invaded by Satan, as Rev. Moon, founder of the cult of the Unification Church, teaches?
A: No. First here is what the alleged messiah Rev. Moon says, followed by what Godís word says.
1. Rev. Moon says: that Abrahamís sacrifice became Satanís possession.
Divine Principle p.269 "...Abrahamís offering the sacrifices without having cut the dove in two resulted in offering Satanís possession, as it were, and so the offering ending in the assertion that the offering was Satanís possession."
Divine Principle p.330 "Due to Mosesí twice striking the rock externally in rage... his [Mosesí] flesh was invaded by Satan and he died in the wilderness, but internally, ...[he could still bring water from the rock to the people]"
Divine Principle p.148 "Jesus could not accomplish the purpose of the providence of physical salvation because his body was invaded by Satan. However, he could establish the basis for spiritual salvation ... through ... the blood of the cross."
2. God says: that Jesusí body saw no decay, according to Acts 2:31. Jesus sacrificed his body in Hebrews 10:10, but His body made us holy. While Rev. Moon teaches that Jesus lost his body, and that it was corrupted, the apostle Paul says the opposite in Philippians 3:20-21.
"But our citizenship is in heaven - and we [that is, Christians] also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself." (NET)
Q: In Heb 10:14, how are we already perfect, and yet being made holy?
A: See the discussion on 2 Thessalonians 1:5 and 1 Peter 1:14-16 for the answer.
Q: In Heb 10:18, since there are no more offerings for sin, could Jesus be sacrificed in the Catholic mass?
A: No. See the discussion on Hebrews 9:25-28 for the answer.
Q: In Heb 10:25, it is OK for believers not to gather together in fellowship?
A: No. It is a sin for believers to isolate themselves from all other believers. Hebrews 10:25 says we should not neglect gathering together, but the Bible does not say when we must gather together.
There are a number of reasons for this command. We need other Christians for encouragement, teaching, correction, and rebuke. God has given other believers spiritual gifts to nourish us, and given us spiritual gifts to nourish them. 1 Corinthians 12 discusses this more. Another reason is that Jesus said, "when two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." (Matthews 18:20) There is a special power in corporate prayer. Finally, while God enjoys our individual worship, God especially enjoys us worshipping Him together. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.225 for a complementary answer.
Q: Does Heb 10:26-32 show people can lose their salvation?
A: All agree that this passage teaches that Christ alone is a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. The Old Testament sacrifices, apart from Christ, are worthless. However, Genuine Christians disagree on what this passage says about loss of salvation.
Lose-Opportunity View: For those who sin by rejecting what Christís sacrifice at the cross, there is no hope for them apart from the way which they have rejected. Even if they are good Jews and do all the Old Testament sacrifices, an enemy of Christ is an enemy of God, who can only expect the raging fire.
Lose-salvation View: In addition to the previous view, Christians who deliberately and persistently sins long enough, have trampled the Son of God underfoot and lost the opportunity for Christ to save them.
See the question concerning Hebrews 3:6,14 and the two questions concerning Hebrews 6:4-12 for more discussion. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.689-690 for more info.
Q: In Heb 11:1 and Heb 11:3, was it "our faith that understands the world was formed", or was it "by Godís faith that He formed the world", as Kenneth Copeland and others teach?
A: In Greek the first two words are "By faith we understand". "By faith" modifies the verb directly following, "we understand". Thus our faith did not form the world, but our faith gives us the understanding of how God formed the world. It is our faith; the All-Knowing God Himself does not have or need faith.
Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6,9 and other passages show God created everything by His word. The Almighty God does not have "faith", that maybe He can do something, any more than we have faith that we can breathe. God has certain knowledge that He can do all things.
The broader issue here is this: are Christians to have faith in God, or faith in faith? Many faith healers essentially teach faith in faith. Faith in your own faith is faith in yourself masquerading as faith in God.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.350-351 and When Cultists Ask p.285-286 for more info.
Q: In Heb 11:4, why did God accept Abelís sacrifice and not Cainís offering?
A: Genesis 4 did not explicitly give any reason, so no reason is excluded. Hebrews 11:4 says that Cain lacked faith. Actually, one can conjecture a combination of three reasons relating to Cainís lack of genuine faith.
Blood, not vegetables: In later ties, sacrifices to God were always with the animals. Even today some want to have a bloodless Christianity. Hebrews 9:18,22 reminds us that in the Old Testament God required shedding of blood for forgiveness. However, one could counter that since both the Old Testament and Hebrews were written after Cainís lifetime, how was Cain supposed to know this? This leads to the next point.
Sacrifices in Fellowship with God: Since God talked directly with Cain, later, Cain could have asked God what God wanted. Many people today want to serve God on their own terms, in their own way, not Godís way. However, one could counter that why should Cain not be able to sacrifice however he wanted to? This leads to the next point.
Sacrifice in Faith to our Lord: There is no evidence that Cain submitted to Godís Lordship or by faith trusted his life over to God. Even today, if we are not interested in drawing near to God and obeying Him, our sacrifices do not matter. Micah 6:6-8 has a beautifully poetic expression of this. Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 6:6; John 14:15,21,23-24 are more direct expressions of the primacy of drawing near to God and obedience over peopleís sacrifices and other works.
Q: In Heb 11:5, how could Enoch not see death?
A: Enoch did not see death in Genesis 5:22-24. As one little child said, "one day when they were walking, God told Enoch that since we are closer to my house than your house, why donít you just come home with Me?"
The Almighty God can do whatever He wants to do, including take someone into Heaven. Three Pre-Nicene Christian writers saw Enoch returned as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:6-11.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) thought that Enoch did not see death yet, because he would only die as during the time of the antichrist (Revelation 11:3). A Treatise on the Soul ch.50 p.227
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) also wrote that the two witness were were Enoch and Elias [Elijah], preaching for 1,260 days, in Treatise on Christ and Antichrist ch.43 p.213
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) discusses that Elijah and Enoch were translated to some remote place without dying that they might attend Christ when He comes to judge. However, we should not believe that Nero is returning too. Of the Manner in which the Persecutors Died ch.2 p.302.
Q: In Heb 11:6, should it say "seek Him" or "earnestly/diligently seek Him"?
A: It only one word in the Greek ("seek Him out"), and there is no separate adjective word present. But the word implies a sincere seeking.
The NKJV and KJV has "diligently seek him".
The NIV has "earnestly seek him".
The NET and NASB just have "seek him".
The Wuest Expanded translation has "diligently seek him out".
Q: In Heb 11:7, how did Noah condemn the world?
A: All understand that it is God who judges the world, and God, not Noah who sent the flood. The meaning of Hebrews 11:7 is that Noah condemned the world by demonstrating that a man and his family could live an upright life before God, even in those times.
Q: In Heb 11:8, how did Abraham (formerly Abram) depart not knowing where he was going, since Gen 12:5 says Abram departed to go to the land of Canaan?
A: Abram was specifically not told he was going to Canaan when God called him in Genesis 12:1. In hindsight Genesis 12:5, written much later than Abraham, tells us that God had Abram leave to go to Canaan.
In our lives we can obey God without any idea what the result will be. While it can be uncertain to us at that time, looking back years later, we can see how things worked out so well in Godís plan.
See When Critics Ask p.522 for more info.
Q: In Heb 11:11 (NIV), briefly, is this the best translation: "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age ó and Sarah herself was barren ó was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise."
A: No, because no Greek manuscripts have Abrahamís name in this verse. The NIV margin reading is accurate: "By faith even Sarah, who was past age, was enabled to bear children because she...", as is the NASB, NKJV, KJV, and Greenís literal translation. Likewise Williams translation does not have the word "Abraham" in this verse either.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 12 p.119-120 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.808, while recommending against the main reading of the NIV, explains the reason for the main reason. Since women do not "conceive seed" there are three choices
As an indirect object (dative), Sarah is the one this verse is discussing, as God enabled Sarah. (The two commentaries prefer this in the NIV margin) Williams Translation has this.
Sarah is a subject and the Greek "conceive seed" has an unusual meaning here. (The KJV and NKJV have this.)
Abraham is the implied subject and Sarah is parenthetical. (The NIV chooses this.)
Then the NIV explicitly adds "Abraham", to make their meaning more clear. Likewise, the NIV adds the word "now" in "now dead" in 1 Peter 4:6. See the NIV the Making of a Contemporary Translation for more info.
Conclusion: The NIV translators in many respects were very precise, but they actually said the NIV was not a word-for-word translation. Rather they tried to translate the meaning. However, in this case, "the" meaning is not the correct interpretation according to many other conservative scholars.
Q: In Heb 11:19 (KJV), how did Abraham receive Isaac "in figure"?
A: This King James Version expression means that Abraham, figuratively speaking, did receive Isaac back from the dead. See also the next question.
Q: In Heb 11:19, how did Abraham receive Isaac back from the dead, figuratively?
A: Abram was about to kill Isaac as a sacrifice. However, God stopped him, and Isaac remained alive, as Genesis 22:1-18 says.
Q: In Heb 11:26, how did Moses esteem the reproach of Christ, since Moses had never heard of Christ?
A: While Moses had not heard the name of Christ, Moses esteemed God, and Moses knew of a coming prophet in Deuteronomy 18:17. Moses knew one would come to make atonement for the land and the people in Deuteronomy 32:43.
Q: In Heb 11:27, how did Moses leave Egypt, not fearing the kingís anger, since Ex 2:14,15 says Moses feared Pharaoh and fled to Midian?
A: Exodus 2:14-15 says, "...Then Moses was afraid and thought, ĎWhat I did must have become known.í When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh..." (NIV). Clement of Alexandria in Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 4 ch.16 p.428 quotes this verse, and in ancient manuscripts there are no manuscript variations (leaving out a "not" for example).
First what is not the answer and then two different answers.
Not the answer: Exodus 2:14 says that Moses was afraid, and Exodus 2:15 says that Moses fled from Pharaoh. It does not expressly say that Moses was afraid of Pharaoh here. See the NIV Study Bible p.1873 for more on this answer.
John Chrysostomís Answer: Writing about 392-407 A.D. Chrysostom raised this issue and answered it. Yes Moses was afraid when he killed the Egyptian, but he was wise to flee to avoid a foreseen danger. There is no need to tempt God. Moses was not afraid to return, and Moses was not afraid to leave Egypt again, regardless of the Pharaohís anger. (Homilies on Hebrews Homily 26 p.484.)
Another Answer: While Moses was wise to flee from Egypt the first time, it was out of fear after killing the Egyptian. Hebrews 11:27 refers to Mosesí character after sojourning in Midian for forty years. Moses went back to Egypt without fear, stood again in Pharaohís presence without fear, and left Egypt again, all without fearing Pharaohís anger. Pharaoh had more to fear from God than Moses had from Pharaoh.
There is a lesson for us here today. Sometimes if we flee a fearful situation, sometimes God can later want us to go back and boldly stand up for God and against the oppression of others. Moses may have left Egypt once fearing Pharaoh, but God and the author of Hebrews consider as more significant when Moses went back, overcoming any fear, and left the second time without fear.
Q: In Heb 11:32 (KJV), who was Gedeon?
A: This is the judge Gideon, mentioned in Judges 6-8.
Q: In Heb 11:32, how were Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah heroes of the faith? They all sinned, and even Barak showed a lack of leadership.
A: Godís people still sin, and some of them sinned greatly. The Bible does not gloss over their serious faults, but it is encouraging to know that God can deal with us, and perfect us, even with our faults, too.
Hebrews 11:32 made no claim that these men were models of sinless perfection, or even more righteous than others. Rather, Hebrews 11 brings these men to our attention as examples of those who had the faith to do great things, and in Samsonís case, join the ranks of martyrs who died for God. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.421-422 and When Critics Ask p.523 for more info.
Q: In Heb 11:35, how did women receive back their dead?
A: This would be the widow of Zarephath in 1 King 17:22, and the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4:34. Their dead beloved ones were resurrected. This resurrection was like Lazarusí resurrection; not raised with an immortal body, but raised back to the previous state.
Q: In Heb 11:35, is this an allusion to 2 Maccabees 7:12, which proves at least part of the Apocrypha to be a part of Scripture?
A: No. 2 Maccabees 7:12 says, "As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished as the young manís spirit, for he regarded his suffering as nothing." (RSV Catholic Edition translation). The context is that this was the third of seven brothers who were martyred under the Seleucids. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. This is not actually a quote from the Apocrypha. Hebrews 11:35 is closest to 2 Maccabees 7:12, and they recorded a common truth, but it is not a quote.
2. The Bible quotes from pagan poets too in Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, and Titus 1:12, yet all agree the other writings of the pagan poets are not scripture.
3. Hypothetically speaking, even if Hebrews 11:35 was a quote from 2 Maccabees (which it is not), unless quoting pagan poets makes their writings scripture, one quote from 2 Maccabees would not make it Scripture either.
4. 2 Maccabees is generally reliable. However, even it has historical inconsistencies with 1 Maccabees and two provable errors. For example, in 2 Maccabees 8:20, the Seleucids plus 4,000 Macedonians did not destroy 120,000 Galatians in Babylonia.
See the discussion on Jude 14-15 for a similar situation with pseudepigraphal books. See When Cultists Ask p.286-287 for more info.
Q: In Heb 12:1, does a cloud of witnesses prove that Jesus coming back in the clouds mean Jesus will come back among groups of people, as Rev. Moonís Unification church teaches?
A: Does the phrase "a flock of sightseers" mean that whenever the word "flock" is used, it must refer to people? - Of course not. Likewise the phrase "a cloud of witnesses" does not mean that whenever the word "cloud" is used, is refers to people.
No place in the Bible, including Hebrews 12:1, uses just "cloud" to mean people. Hebrews 12:1 says, "cloud of witnesses", and this metaphor does not give anyone the right to interpret literal clouds (without witnesses) as people.
Furthermore, Greek had different words for cloud, and the word used here, nephos, is not used anywhere else in the New Testament.
Even Unification members would agree that it was a literal cloud that hid Jesus as He ascended to Heaven in Acts 1:9. If Jesus returned the same way, and Jesus left in a literal cloud, then Jesus will return in a literal cloud, despite what Rev. Moon teaches.
See also the discussion on Revelation 1:7.
Q: In Heb 12:1, who are the great cloud of witnesses?
A: The "such a great cloud" refers specifically to the people mentioned in the preceding chapter. Of course, chapter 11 mentions the Old Testament believers in general marching around Jericho, enduring persecution, and being commended for their faith, so such a great cloud includes all the believers who have gone before us and are now in Heaven.
Q: In Heb 12:1, what are weights that we as Christians sometimes (or often) need to throw off?
A: These includes the sins of what we do wrong, sins of where we choose to focus our thoughts, and sins where we are "holding out" against God and are unwilling to do what we believe God wants us to do. It also includes things that are not evil of themselves but are distractions for us. It can also include relationships that are not healthy for us.
Q: In Heb 12:2, how could Jesus endure the cross, because of the joy set before Him?
A: This does not mean the cross was joyful, but rather Jesus endured because of the joy set before Him. The joy was in the forthcoming result of providing salvation for us, that we could be reconciled to God and live with Him in Heaven forever.
By saying there are other ways to Heaven, a person is telling Christ that His sacrifice was unnecessary.
Q: In Heb 12:4 what is the struggle against sin here?
A: The Greek word for struggle, antagonizomai, can refer to an athletic struggle. While it might also refer to a Christianís personal struggle against their own sin, itís primary focus is probably their persecution by sinful people.
Q: In Heb 12:6-11, why does God use this example, since corporal punishment is [allegedly] wrong?
A: Corporal punishment (spanking and so forth) is not wrong when properly applied for the childís benefit, as Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; and 23:13-14 show. See Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson and Growing Kids Godís Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo for good material about balancing both love and discipline.
This word not only means discipline, but also instruction, correction, and warning too, according to the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2203. This word not only means discipline, but also instruction, correction, and warning too, according to the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2203. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.810 says that the word literally means "child-training".
Q: In Heb 12:8 what is the point of legitimate sons here?
A: A father might not care for an illegitimate son, whether by his wife or by him and another woman like his legitimate son from honorable marriage. In Roman culture an illegitimate son had no inheritance rights. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.810 for more info.
Q: In Heb 12:7,9-10, should fathers take the lead role in discipline?
A: The Bible gives no command on which parent does what, but it does give example of fathers in Hebrews 12:7,9-10, 1 Timothy 3:4,12; 1 Thessalonians 2:11. However, Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 warn fathers in particular not to exasperate their children. Mothers had a role in training up their children in Proverbs 31:1-9; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Both parents are supposed to work together in Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 6:1, though 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 recognizes that there may be family situations where only the wife brings up the children in the Lord.
Q: In Heb 12:15 and Heb 12:25, how can people miss or turn away from the grace of God?
A: Christians can still be Christians and disobey God, but that is not what is being discussed here, because it says to "miss" instead of just "have fewer blessings and rewards". People can listen to the Gospel, and even intellectually believe and be baptized with water, as Simon Magus was in Acts 8:18-20. However, knowing doctrine and attending church should not give a person assurance of anything, if they are not obeying Christ.
Look at the parable of the four soils in Luke 8:4-15. Plants in three of the four soils sprouted, but only one of the soils was saved to yield any crop.
Esau is a sad example and warning. He grew up knowing of God, raised by parents who knew God, yet he let what he could have had slip away from his grasp. He had no idea of the importance of choosing soup over birthright, until after the choice was made.
Q: In Heb 12:15, how can a bitter root grow and defile many?
A: Both churchgoers who are not born again, and genuine Christians, can have small feelings of bitterness towards themselves, other people, or God. If this bitterness is not dealt with, and given to God, then like other sins, it can grow as a cancer and affect more and more of a personís heart. As Proverbs 4:23 advises in a different context, above all guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.691-692 for more info.
Q: In Heb 12:17, why would God reject someone who repents?
A: Christians have two different answers on this.
1. It depends on the kind of repentance a person has. Nearly every convicted criminal repents of getting caught, and nearly everyone who foolishly loses something regrets the consequences of their foolishness. Esau repented with tears over what he lost, but Scripture never says He turned to God.
2. While Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.20, 246-247 does not disagree with the principle in the previous answer, it says this passage refers to a different point. Comparing this passage with Genesis 27:34-40, the change of heart Esau was seeking was his father Isaacís heart, not his own.
When Critics Ask p.523-524 discusses both answers and add that while either or both may be true, either way Esau was concerned with the earthly inheritance, not spiritual blessing. Matthew 7:7-11, Hebrews 11:6, and Romans 2:7 show that God will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
Q: In Heb 12:18-21, why was God trying to scare the daylights out of the Israelites in Mosesí time? How about today?
A: God teaches us many lessons in the Bible. God did teach Abraham and others about love, grace, and mercy in the Old Testament. However, before God taught people all He did about love, grace, and mercy in the New Testament, they first had to understand about Godís justice and Godís wrath.
Unfortunately, many today want to hear selectively only the "nice-sounding" parts of the Bible. Godís mercy is all that more important to us when we see the consequences of our sin.
A billboard was once put up by Christians in Tennessee saying "Jesus saves". Some vandal had written after it, "greenstamps". Christians might not always realize that when they try to tell others how great it is that Jesus saves, others do not really comprehend the message if they do not realize what they are saved from, as well as what they are saved for.
Q: In Heb 12:24, how did Jesusí blood speak better than Abelís?
A: According to Genesis 4:10, Abelís blood [metaphorically] cried out from the ground. It cried out for vengeance. But Jesusí blood cries out for forgiveness. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2207 for more info.
Q: In Heb 12:29 and Dt 4:24, what does "our God is a consuming fire" mean?
A: Psalm 50:3 says a fire devours before God when He comes in judgment. Fire is literal fire, and it also can mean Godís wrath against sin. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21 for more info.
Q: In Heb 13:8, since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, how could He empty Himself to come to earth, as Php 2:5-7 teaches?
A: Jesus was the same in two ways.
1. Jesus was still Himself, before, during, and after He was on earth. This also illustrates a point about the Trinity. The Trinity is not a temporary thing, which will eventually dissolve into total oneness. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, they will always be a Trinity.
2. Even for the Divine attributes that Jesus temporarily and voluntarily emptied Himself of, Hebrews 13:8 refers to yesterday (prior to earth) today (after His ascension) and forever (all eternity future). It does not exclude that Jesus emptied Himself of some attributes for a short time.
Q: In Heb, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are the writers who referred to verses in Hebrews.
Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.) refers to the 14 verses in Hebrews, though he does not say they were from this book: Hebrews 1:3-5,7; 3:2,5; 6:18b; 10:37; 11:5,17,31,37; 12:6; 13:17. The index of the Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 1. also mentions Hebrews 12:1, but there is only one phrase that is in common.
Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) ch.6 p.141 quotes Hebrews 2:12 (also Psalm 22:23).
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.) book 1 vision 4 ch.10 p.16 quotes a fourth of Hebrews.13:17.
Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.) quotes from Hebrews. Oration on the Lordís Passion ch.9 p.760-761
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in 6 places refers to 8 verses in Hebrews
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 13:15b as by Paul. Irenaeus Fragment 37 p.575
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) mentions Hebrews as being by Paul.
Tertullian quotes from Hebrews 7:1-3 to discuss Christ and Melchizedek in Against All Heresies ch.8 p.654.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) thought Hebrews was written by Barnabas in On Modesty ch.20 p.97
Hippolytus has a 5/23 quote of Hebrews 7:21 "The Lord sware and will not repent" (5 out of 23 Greek words) The Refutation of All Heresies book 5 ch.19 p.69. The same thing in The Refutation of All Heresies book 5 ch.22 p.73.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 6:7,8 as to the Hebrews. de Principiis book 3 ch.1.10 (Greek) p.310
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 1:1,2 as "Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews" Origenís Commentary on John book 2 ch.6 p.328
Treatise Agsint Novatian (254-256 A.D.) quotes from Hebrews as scripture.
Cyprian of Carthage alludes to Hebrews 12:6 "God, who Ďrebukes whom He loves,í in Letter 7.5 p.286
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) quotes part of Hebrews 10:1 as by the apostle in Dialogue on the True Faith fifth part 5 p.153
Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) alludes to Hebrews 11:10. The Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 5 ch.7 p.328
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 11:3 as by Paul. Incarnation of the Word ch.3 p.37
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 2:9 in Incarnation of the Word ch.10 p.41
Lactantius (c.303-320/325 A.D.) alludes to Hebrews 8:13 that the Old Testament given by Moses was not perfect. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.20 p.123
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) quotes all of Hebrews 13:8 as by the apostle. Epistles on the Arian Heresy Letter 2 ch.3 p.298.
Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History (323-326 A.D.) book 3 ch.3 p.134 (Implied) He says, "Paulís fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed." Then he says some dispute whether Paul wrote Hebrews or not. He also says in book 3 ch.25 p.155 that the letters of Paul are scripture. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.155.
Asterius the Sophist (after 341 A.D.)
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) quotes Exodus 3:6. Select Demonstrations demonstration 22.2 p.401
Acacius of Caesarea (c.366 A.D.)
Hilary of Poitiers (355-267/268 A.D.)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions Hebrews as part of the New Testament. It quotes Hebrews 1:1-2a.
Ephraem the Syrian (373 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378 A.D.) quotes from Hebrews
Faustinus (380 A.D.)
Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381 A.D.) canon 60 p.159 lists the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Canon 59 p.158 says only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments may be read in church.
Ambrosiaster (c.384 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes Hebrews on p.76
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Apollinaris of Laodicea (c.390 A.D.)
Gregory of Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Gregory of Elvira (after 392 A.D.)
Amphilochius (before 394 A.D.) Iambi ad Seleucum
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) mentions the "Epistle to the Hebrews" as by Paul in Against Eunomius book 6 ch.2 p.184
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) quotes Hebrews 11:10 as by Paul. Commentary on Zechariah 12 p.292-293
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia (361-c.399 A.D.) refers to Hebrews 3:6.
Syrian Book of Steps (Liber Gradum) (350-400 A.D.)
Syrian Catalog of St. Catherineís (ca.400 A.D.)
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) mentions Philemon, Hebrews, two letters to Timothy, Titus, Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians. The Panarion section 3 from scholion 1 and 5 p.334
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) wrote down 33 sermons on Hebrews.
John Chrysostom (406 A.D.) wrote commentaries on John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews.
Severian (after 408 A.D.)
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the New Testament. He specifically each of the four gospels, Paul writings to the seven churches, Hebrews, Paul wirting to Timothy , Titus, and Philemon. Jerome then discusses the Acts of the Apostles. Then he discusses the seven epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Finally he discusses the Apocalypse of John. Letter 53 ch.9 p.101-102.
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) refers to Hebrews 13:8 as by the Apostle in Seven Books book 5.6 p.584 and Hebrews 12:22,23 as by the Apostle in the First Conference of the Abbot Moses ch.14 p.302
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.)
Nilus (c.430 A.D.)
Polychronius (c.430 A.D.)
Marcus of Eremita (after 430 A.D.)
Council of Ephesus vs. Nestorians (200 bishops) (June-Sept 431 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (bishop and historian) (423-458 A.D.)
Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.)
Hesychius of Jerusalem (-450 A.D.) (pronounced HESS-us) refers to Hebrews 3:6
Varimadum (445/480 A.D.)
Proclus (412-485 A.D.)
Macarius/Symeon (4th or 5th century)
We still have these today.
As a side note, the Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) did not include James, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, or the third letter of John.
3. Evidence of heretics and other writers.
The heretic Priscillian (385 A.D.) refers to Hebrews 3:6
The heretic Pelagius (416-418 A.D.)
Nestoriusí Bazaar of Heracleides (451/452 A.D.) refers to Hebrews 3:2
Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) alludes to Hebrews 7:11 as by the blessed Paul. Commentary on Hosea ch.24 p.56 and Heb 9:13 as by Paul in Commentary on Jonah preface p.187
4. Earliest manuscripts we have of Hebrews show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
p12 (285-300 A.D.) Hebrews 1:1
End of 3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
Late 3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
p13 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 657) contains Hebrews 2:14-5:5; 10:8-22; 10:29-11:13; 11:28b-12:17 (c.225-250 A.D.) A photograph of part of this is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.74. It says on p.75 that out of 88 variation units, p13 and p46 has 71 agreements and only 17 disagreements.
4th century - 1902-1903 - Grenfell and Hunt according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.73. On p.17 it says Grenfell and Hunt hesitated to date ANY New Testament manuscript earlier than the third century, even though they mentioned the handwriting belonged to the late first or second century.
3rd/4th century, perhaps first half of fourth century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament also has 11:14-28a, but The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.74 says this is missing due to the loss of one column.
3rd/4th century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
3rd/4th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
200-250 A.D. - others
(225-250 A.D.) - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.73. Comfort and Barrett on p.73 say that based on very similar handwriting to Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 852 (175-25 A.D.), many similarities to Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2635 (ca. 200 A.D.). The dating is not earlier than 225 A.D. though, because it is written on the back side of Papyrus 657 (part of the Epitome of Livyís History of Rome), and this is dated to the third century.
p17 Heb 9:12-19 (late 3rd century)
4th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p46 Chester Beatty II ca.200 A.D. 300 of the 303 verses (99%) of Hebrews. Specifically it has Hebrews 1:1-9:16; 9:18-10:20; 10:22-30; 10:32-13:25 and other parts of Paulís letters. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of p46 on p.192. It also says on p.197-198 that the quality and the stichiometric marks show that a professional scribe wrote this.
c.200 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
About 200 A.D. - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
About 200 A.D. - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
p89 Hebrews 6:7-9,15-17 (4th century)
p114 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4498) Hebrews 1:7-12 (3rd century)
Cyril of Jerusalem 386 A.D. Chrysostom 407 A.D.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) contains all of Hebrews except Hebrews 9:14-13:25 according to Gospel Parallels.
Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.) and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) contain all of Hebrews.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th
Fayyumic Coptic [Fay] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4th century
Peshitta Syriac [Syr P] 375-400 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Bezae Cantabrigiensis [D] 5th or 6th century
Washington 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
p116 (=papyrus Vindobonensis G 42417 ((Vienna)) Hebrews 2:9-11; 3:3-6 (6th century)
Wolfenbuttel 6th century
p79 Hebrews 10:10-12,28-30 (7th century)
See www.BibleQuery.org/hebMss.html for more on early manuscripts of Hebrews.
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