Lesson 135

Hebrews 1–4

“Lesson 135: Hebrews 1–4,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul taught the Saints about the true nature of Jesus Christ. He also taught them about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and some of the blessings that come as a result of the Atonement. Paul shared the experience of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness to teach the Saints what they must do to enter into the rest of the Lord.

Suggestions for Teaching

Hebrews 1

Paul teaches about the nature of Jesus Christ

Read aloud the following scenarios:

  1. A young woman is tired of always being the “good girl” because she doesn’t participate with her friends in some of their activities. She is considering relaxing her standards to be part of the group.

  2. A young man serving a full-time mission realizes that missionary work is more difficult than he anticipated, and he is thinking of returning home.

  • What do these scenarios have in common?

  • What are some reasons people may think about giving up in their efforts to do what they know is right?

Briefly introduce the book of Hebrews by explaining that, under the pressure of various afflictions, some Jewish converts (referred to as Hebrews) were withdrawing from Church meetings and returning to the relative safety of traditional Jewish worship, which did not include a belief in Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:25, 38–39). Paul wrote this epistle to encourage these Church members to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.

Invite students to look for truths as they study Hebrews that can help them remain faithful to Christ when they may feel like giving up.

Invite students to read Hebrews 1:1–3, 10 silently, looking for doctrines Paul taught the Jewish Saints about Jesus Christ.

After sufficient time, invite several students to write on the board the truths they found. Students may use different words, but make sure statements similar to the following truths are written on the board:

Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth (see Hebrews 1:2, 10).

Jesus Christ speaks for the Father (see Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus Christ is the heir of the Father (see Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus Christ is in the express image of the Father (see Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of His power (see Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ purges our sins (see Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ reigns at the right hand of the Father (see Hebrews 1:3).

You may need to explain that the phrase “express image of the Father” means that Jesus Christ both physically and spiritually personifies Heavenly Father and shares His divine character, and the phrase “upholding all things by the word of His power” indicates that Jesus Christ is all powerful.

  • How might knowing these truths help someone who is struggling to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His gospel?

Invite students to ponder which of these truths might be helpful to them if they are tempted to turn away from doing the Lord’s will.

Explain that a theme in the book of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus Christ. For example, in Hebrews 1:4–14, Paul showed that Jesus Christ is greater than the angels. In subsequent chapters, he continued to show the excellency and superiority of Christ.

  • How would knowing that Jesus Christ is greater than all things help someone who is struggling to remain faithful to Him?

Encourage students to continue looking for this theme as they study the remainder of Hebrews.

Hebrews 2

Paul teaches that Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation

Ask students to consider how they go about selecting a captain or leader for different teams or groups they may participate in (for example, athletics, debate, drama, or school clubs).

  • What qualifications do you look for when selecting a captain or leader?

Explain that in Hebrews 2, Paul explained more about the nature and identity of Jesus Christ to the Jewish converts to help them see why they should continue to follow Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read Hebrews 2:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul referred to Jesus Christ.

  • What is Jesus Christ the captain of? (Write the following truth on the board: Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation.)

  • In what way is Jesus Christ the Captain of our salvation?

Divide students into pairs, and assign one student to read Hebrews 2:8–13 and the other student to read Hebrews 2:14–18. Invite students to look for phrases that describe why the Savior was qualified to be the Captain of our salvation. (Explain that the phrase “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” in verse 17 means that Christ atoned for our sins, allowing us to be reconciled, or brought into a harmonious relationship, with Heavenly Father.)

After sufficient time, ask students to report what they found to their partners. Then ask the class:

  • According to verse 9, what did Jesus Christ do for all people?

  • According to verse 14, who did the Savior conquer through His Atonement?

Point out that Paul not only referred to the Savior as the Captain of our salvation, but he also called Him “a merciful and faithful high priest” (verse 17). Paul likened Jesus Christ to a Jewish high priest because the high priest was viewed as a mediator between the people and God.

  • According to verse 17, what enabled Jesus to be such a merciful and faithful high priest?

  • According to verse 18, why is the Savior able to succor (help) us? (See also Alma 7:11–13.)

Explain that in Hebrews 4:14–16 Paul provided additional insight to his teaching about how the Savior is a merciful and faithful high priest. Invite a student to read these verses aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what makes Jesus Christ such a great high priest. Invite students to report what they find.

  • Based on what you learned from Hebrews 2:14–18 and 4:14–16, why is Jesus Christ able to understand us perfectly and sympathize with all our frailties and imperfections? (Help students identify the following truth: Because Jesus Christ suffered and was tempted in all things, He understands us perfectly and can help us in times of need. Write this truth on the board.)

  • According to Hebrews 4:16, what can understanding this truth help us do?

  • What do you think it means to come boldly to the throne of grace?

Invite students to share their feelings about how the truths in Hebrews 2 can help them be confident in their decision to follow Jesus Christ as their leader.

Hebrews 3–4

Paul teaches how we can enter into the Lord’s rest

Invite students to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks something that causes them temporal or spiritual anxiety or concern.

  • How can we find peace and rest from these and other sources of turmoil and anxiety?

Remind students that the Jewish Saints were experiencing persecutions for living the gospel. Explain that in Hebrews 3 and 4, Paul referred to an experience from the Old Testament to teach the Saints how to find rest in this life and the next.

Explain that after being freed from Egypt, the people of ancient Israel provoked the Lord to anger and were therefore not allowed to enter into the Lord’s rest (see Numbers 14; Jacob 1:7–8; Alma 12:33–37; 13:6, 12–13, 28–29). Invite students to mark the phrase “my rest” in Hebrews 3:11.

Point out that Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what it means to enter into the Lord’s rest. Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder McConkie aloud, and ask students to listen for what it means to enter the rest of the Lord.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“True saints enter into the rest of the Lord while in this life, and by abiding in the truth, they continue in that blessed state until they rest with the Lord in heaven. … The rest of the Lord, where mortals are concerned, is to gain a perfect knowledge of the divinity of the great latter-day work. … The rest of the Lord, in eternity, is to inherit eternal life, to gain the fulness of the Lord’s glory. (D. & C. 84:24.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 633).

  • What does it mean for us to enter into the Lord’s rest in this life? After we die?

Read Hebrews 4:1 aloud and ask students to follow along, looking for what Paul was concerned that some members of the Church would fail to do.

  • What was Paul’s concern? (That some Church members would fail to enter into the Lord’s rest.)

Write the following scriptures on the board: Hebrews 3:7–8, 12–15, 18–19; 4:2–3, 6–7, 11. Ask the class to silently read these verses looking for what Paul taught about how we can enter into the rest of the Lord. (Encourage students to read the Joseph Smith Translation for Hebrews 4:3 in the Bible appendix.) After sufficient time, ask students to report what they found.

  • What do you think the phrase “if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14) means?

  • What do you think it means to “harden not your hearts”? (Hebrews 3:15; 4:7). (To keep your heart open, willing, and obedient to God and His commandments.)

  • What did Paul teach about how to enter the Lord’s rest? (From students’ responses, write the following principle on the board: If we remain faithful to the Savior and harden not our hearts, we will enter into the rest of the Lord.)

  • How does keeping our hearts open to God’s purpose and plan for us prepare us to enter into the rest of the Lord?

  • How might we be blessed in this life by seeking to enter into the rest of the Lord?

Ask students to ponder how being faithful to the Savior and keeping their hearts open to Him has helped them find rest in spite of problems or anxieties they may be experiencing. Invite a few students to share their thoughts with the class.

Invite students to write in their scripture study journals what they will do to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and keep their hearts open to Him.

Commentary and Background Information

Hebrews 1:3. Jesus Christ is in “the express image” of His Father

President Joseph F. Smith taught the following about the image of Jesus Christ:

“Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is ‘the express image’ of His Father’s person (Hebrews 1:3). He walked the earth as a human being, as a perfect man, and said, in answer to a question put to Him: ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9). This alone ought to solve the problem to the satisfaction of every thoughtful, reverent mind. The conclusion is irresistible, that if the Son of God be the express image (that is, likeness) of His Father’s person, then His Father is in the form of man; for that was the form of the Son of God, not only during His mortal life, but before His mortal birth, and after His resurrection. It was in this form that the Father and the Son, as two personages, appeared to Joseph Smith, when, as a boy of fourteen years, he received his first vision” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 334).

Hebrews 4:4, 10. The Sabbath day is the sign and symbol of the rest of the Lord

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“The Sabbath Day is the sign and symbol of the rest of the Lord. Those who have entered into gospel rest keep the Sabbath Day holy as part of their righteous conduct and true worship. On that day they rest from their worldly labors, as God did from his creative enterprises, as a sign and testimony that they have entered into the rest of the Lord in this life, have testimonies of the gospel, and look forward to that rest of the Lord ‘which rest is the fulness of his glory’ hereafter. (D. & C. 84:24.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:151).