Bayou City Women is walking through the powerful and mysterious book of Hebrews this spring. You’re invited to follow along with our study notes as we dig into a letter that calls believers to stand firm in the face of suffering. We can do this because Jesus is greater. Sisters, we want to follow Jesus by following Scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit, alongside each other in relationship. If you are craving connection during this season of social distancing, please check the notes at the end for ways you can still be a part of the Church. Whoever and wherever you are, you’re welcome here!
One generation after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Great Fire of Rome tore through the city for eleven days, igniting physical buildings and sparking religious persecution of Christians. Emperor Nero blamed the already unpopular Christians for the destruction and began what would be nearly three centuries of Roman persecution of the church.
It was in this charged atmosphere that a letter was written to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the world. Now known simply as Hebrews, this epistle urged the second generation of believers to stand firm in their faith. Using examples of key Old Testament characters and concepts, Hebrews proclaims over and over that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan and promises. The early church was given numerous examples of God’s people who were everyday humans – like us – who chose to listen, believe, and obey. Because they chose faith, their lives were extraordinary. The book of Hebrews invites us to follow in the footsteps of the faithful – including women like Sarah and Rahab – and the example of the ultimate human, Jesus.
The authorship of Hebrews is a mystery. The King James Bible attributed it to the Apostle Paul, because there are certainly echoes of his writing in Hebrews.1 Nowadays, most new testament scholars do not believe Paul penned this epistle, but rather a close associate of his. Possible authors include Apollos, Clement or Luke, Barnabus, Timothy, or Priscilla. Whoever it was, they were very familiar with the explosive growth and subsequent persecution of the early Church, and her deep need for encouragement and hope. Believers today are still desperate for strength to hold fast.
Hebrews brilliantly uses old covenant ideas to prove the superiority of the new covenant established by Jesus. This blog series will explore the four main themes compared and contrasted in this book: Jesus as the greatest Revelation, Leader, Priest, and Sacrifice. Jesus, fully God and fully human, is exalted through these examples. As Fleming Rutledge says,
“These are wonderful passages, full of confidence in the achievement of Christ and replete with promise for sinners. Hebrews offers a picture of the human Jesus as rich in some ways as any in the Gospels…no book of the Bible, not even Colossians or the Gospel of John, combines the two poles of Christ’s exalted divinity and his suffering humanity as explicitly as does Hebrews.”2
As our everyday lives have been turned upside down by a virus, we want to press into faith over doubt and hope over fear. We can do this through the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit, the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, and the loving pursuit of the Father. We are grateful for each and every one of you, and lift you up daily in prayer. We cannot wait to be together in person but until then we are with you in spirit.
Hebrews 1:3 & Colossians 1:15-17
Hebrews 2:4 & 1 Corinthians 12:11
Hebrews 2:14-17 & Philippians 2:7-8
Hebrews 8:6 & 2 Corinthians 3:6
Hebrews 10:14 & Romans 5:9, 12:1.
2. Rutledge, Fleming. The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.