Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
2 Timothy 4:19-22
The letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians- and it was very likely given as a sermon since it contains no greeting. Though Paul is the traditionally attributed writer, it is unlikely that Paul wrote it. Instead, the author is unknown, lost to history. The text was probably written before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, since the letter presupposes that sacrifices were still being performed there (for example, see 5:1-3, 8:3-5, 9:6-13).
Questions & Observations
Q. (Hebrews 1:2): Can you explain this verse? It sounds like this promise of inheritance happened at creation, so then Jesus would have to know he would be crucified back then? I really don’t know what God is saying Jesus is inheriting.
A. The writer is describing how Jesus will be ultimate ruler of all created things — that this was God’s plan from the beginning. This is the “everything” that Jesus has inherited by going through the process of being crucified. If you ask me, I suspect that God knew the way that all things would unfold in Creation, including the need for Jesus to be crucified.
Q. (1:4-14): Why is the author validating that Jesus is more glorious than angels?
A. Because angel worship was a problem then as it is now, maybe more so (google “angel sightings” or “angel shrine” to see what I’m talking about). This was an especially big problem for early Jewish Christians, who would have greatly revered angels. The author needs to convince his audience that Jesus is superior to all the things of the OT, including Moses, the angels/messengers, and the priesthood/temple (coming soon!).
Q. (1:14): To my knowledge, I haven’t been in the presence of an angel. In what instances do angels help us? I guess I am confused now about angels roles vs. the Holy Spirit. I have definitely been in the presence of a heavenly spirit, but I don’t know if it was when the Spirit was particularly strong in me, or it was an angel. I have heard God’s voice — in my head — and I have felt that glorious feeling many times. But, are we supposed be able to identify if it’s angels, the Spirit, Jesus or God?
A. There’s not really a clear way to do it, since the Bible shrouds such things in mystery intentionally. But the general rule I would give you is that if you hear the “internal” voice, you are hearing the Spirit of God, and any “external” voice is that of an angelic being, who is bringing a message from God. That last one is exceptionally rare, occurring only a few times even within Scripture.
Q. (2:18): This verse is saying that if we think of Jesus suffering on the cross that can help us make wise decisions, i.e. Jesus went to these lengths for me so I can honor His suffering by making choices with righteousness and grace?
A. I think that’s part of it, but also remember the verses we have read indicating that Jesus now prays and acts on our behalf at the very throne of God the Father. Jesus might also be able to literally help us during times of crisis, in addition to your suggestion that His help is figurative.
Q. (3:6): So, God is Lord over all, but Jesus has authority over us? If we use the church analogy, He is the head pastor of us and God would be the bishop (with no one over Him, of course)?
A. Trying to draw lines like that is a really tricky exercise, since the Persons of the Trinity are distinct, but also unified in a way that we as humans simply cannot comprehend. What the NT tells us is that Jesus is the ruler of all the things that He helped create, i.e. all of Creation.
Q. (3:13): In our small group, one member said that we are to love everyone, but have an elevated relationship with other Christians. Could this verse be the source for that thought? We should help other brothers and sisters in Christ by watching their moves and keeping them straight. I would think this could be a little tricky because of people’s pride (a sin), but those who are wise will take heed to the guidance. Also, those who are setting the others straight need to make sure both of their feet and their hearts are on the right path.
A. I would partially disagree with your friend, and my reason for doing so would be because I feel like there are different seasons in a Christians life in which they may be forced to focus on other Christians more, and other seasons where they focus on non-believers more, as the Spirit guides us. I think it is inaccurate to make blanket statements such as “always watch over Christians more,” because I simply don’t think that that is always what God wants. Having said all that, I do believe that what you’re describing is at the heart of accountability, the watching over the hearts of Christians close to you, which is a high priority in the NT, just not the only one. The end point for all Christian discipleship is to reach those who are not yet members of the community. The ultimate target is those who are far from God.
Q. (4:8): What does it mean, “if Joshua had succeeded in giving them rest”? I’m really not sure if this passage is talking about resting on the Sabbath or rest after we see Jesus come again and can enjoy the wonderment of Heaven, like a rest of struggling souls. (I have never thought of this before: Imagine the rest your soul will enjoy after we get to heaven — rest from continuously battling with temptation and sin. That’s a feeling we should strive for now. If there is sin trying to influence us, toss it away so you can have that calmness where no one is trying to disturb your peace.
A. Ok, what’s going on here is the writer is comparing the rest God took on the seventh day of Creation to the “rest” that He offers those who are faithful to Him (Heaven, in other words). The reference to Joshua relates to him being the person who led the people into the Promised Land after Moses’ death. Entering the Promised Land has long been seen as a metaphor for dying and going to heaven to be with God, which the writer is obviously connecting with here. But what he is saying is that entering the Promised Land for the Israelites did not bring them salvation or “rest,” but just presented them with a new set of challenges that they frequently failed. The real rest of God, the writer is saying, won’t be like that. It will be the true fulfillment of God’s rest for His children.
O. (4:13): Just a noteworthy verse: 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.