Unit 27: Day 4

Hebrews 1–4

“Unit 27, Day 4: Hebrews 1–4,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)


Introduction

The Apostle Paul taught the Hebrew Saints, or Jewish Christians, about the true nature of Jesus Christ. He also taught them about the Savior’s Atonement 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.

Hebrews 1

Paul teaches about the nature of Jesus Christ

Read the following scenarios:

  • A young woman is tired of being called 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.

  • 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?

The Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Hebrews at a time when some Jewish (or Hebrew) converts were not attending Church meetings because of persecution and other types of pressure. They were returning to the familiarity and, therefore, 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.

As you study this epistle to the Hebrews, look for truths that can help you remain faithful to Christ when you may feel like giving up.

Read Hebrews 1:1–3, 10, looking for doctrines Paul taught the Jewish Saints about the Savior.

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, write the doctrines about Jesus Christ that you find in Hebrews 1:1–3, 10. For example, from verses 2 and 10 you could identify the following doctrine: Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth. As you look closely you will discover that these verses teach several additional significant doctrines about the Savior.

Notice the phrase “express image of his person” in Hebrews 1:3. This phrase means that Jesus Christ looks like Heavenly Father and shares His divine character. The phrase “upholding all things by the word of his power” in the same verse means that Jesus Christ is all powerful.

Consider which of the truths you identified in Hebrews 1:1–3, 10 might be helpful to you if you are tempted to turn away from doing the Lord’s will.

A theme often found in Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus Christ. For instance, in Hebrews 1:4–14, Paul showed that the Savior is greater than the angels. In subsequent chapters, he continued to show the excellency and superiority of Christ.

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

Continue looking for this theme as you study the rest of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 2

Paul teaches that Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation

Consider the process of selecting a captain or leader for different teams or groups you may participate in (for example, athletics, debate, drama, or school clubs). What qualifications would you look for if you were selecting a captain or leader?

In Hebrews 2, the Apostle Paul explained more about the nature and identity of Jesus Christ to the Jewish converts to help them understand why they should continue to follow Him. Read Hebrews 2:10, looking for what Paul taught that Jesus Christ is the captain of.

From this verse we can learn that Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: In what way is Jesus Christ the Captain of our salvation?

Read Hebrews 2:8–9, 14–18 looking for phrases that describe why the Savior is qualified to be the Captain of our salvation. You may want to mark what you find.

In Hebrews 2:9, Paul’s teaching that Jesus Christ “was made a little lower than the angels” refers to the Savior’s condescension from His premortal throne to experience mortality and His suffering and death, through which He “descended below all things” (D&C 88:6). The phrase “partakers of flesh and blood” in Hebrews 2:14 means we are mortal. The phrase “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” in Hebrews 2:17 means that Christ was able to atone for our sins.

According to verse 9, what did Jesus do for all people? According to verse 14, whom did He conquer through His Atonement?

Notice 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” (Hebrews 2:17). 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 Hebrews 2:18, why is the Savior able to succor (comfort or help) us?

Read Hebrews 4:14–16, looking for additional insight that Paul provided about how the Savior is a merciful and faithful high priest.

From Hebrews 2:17–18 and 4:14–16, we can 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. (See also Alma 7:11–13.)

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, write down your feelings about how the truths identified in Hebrews 2 can help you be confident in your decision to follow Jesus Christ as your leader.

Hebrews 3–4

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

What is something that you may feel concerned or anxious about at times? Think about how you can find peace and rest from this and other sources of turmoil and anxiety.

During Paul’s time the Jewish Saints were being persecuted for living the gospel of Jesus Christ. As recorded in Hebrews 3–4, Paul referred to an experience from the Old Testament to teach the Saints how to find rest in this life and the next.

Anciently, after they were freed from Egypt, the children of Israel provoked the Lord’s anger because of their disobedience. As a consequence, they were 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).

Consider marking the phrase “my rest” in Hebrews 3:11.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:24, looking for what that passage teaches about the Lord’s rest.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “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” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 633).

Read Hebrews 4:1 looking for what Paul was concerned that some members of the Church would fail to do.

Read the following passages: Hebrews 3:7–8, 12–15, 18–19; 4:2–3, 6–7, 11. Also read Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 4:3 (in the Bible appendix). As you read these passages, look for what Paul repeatedly taught about how we can enter into the rest of the Lord.

Notice the phrase “harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:8, 15; 4:7). This phrase means that we should not close our hearts to truth and inspiration; we should keep our hearts open, willing, and obedient to God and His commandments.

From Paul’s teachings we can learn that if we remain faithful to the Savior and harden not our hearts, we will enter into the rest of the Lord.

In what ways does choosing to believe in the Savior and keeping our hearts open to God’s purpose and plan help us remain faithful to the Lord? Think of someone you know who is a good example of this principle. What specifically does this person do to remain faithful?

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, write what you will do to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and keep your heart open to Him.

  2. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Hebrews 1–4 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: