Hebrews 4 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Trust is Crucial (4:1-2)

A. We must be careful not to fall short of our reward (1).

B. To do that, we must combine the hearing of God’s word with complete trust in it (2).

II. The Rest that Remains for the Christian (4:3-10)

A. God has rested from his creative work (3-5).

B. It remains that some are yet to enter his rest (6-10).

III. Warning and Motivation (4:11-16)

A. Be diligent to enter God’s rest (11).

B. Four incentives (12-16)

1. The powerful word of God (12)

2. The all-seeing eye of God (13)

3. Our great high priest (14-15)

4. The power of prayer (16)

QUESTIONS

1.    What is the significance of “therefore” in 4:1?

2.   Who should fear falling short of God’s rest (4:1)?

3.   Why did the good news not profit the Israelites of old (4:2)?

4.   Who will enter God’s rest (4:3)?

5.    What is the rest that yet remains for God’s people (4:9-10)?

6.   Does our entering God’s rest rely, to some extent, on our works? (4:11)?

7.   What characteristics does the writer attribute to the word of God (4:12)?

8.   Because Jesus is our high priest, what should we do (4:14)?

9.   Why is Jesus able to sympathize with us (4:15)?

10. Because Jesus is our high priest, how may we approach God’s throne of grace (4:16)?

APPLICATION

The writer made it clear that even though the ancient Hebrews heard the good news about the Promised Land, it didn’t make any difference because they did not really believe, or trust, in what they heard. Read the following passages: Ezekiel 33:30-33 and James 1:21-25. How do these passages harmonize with Hebrews 4:1-2? What are some concrete ways that you can make sure that you are combining faith with the hearing of the word?

Write down in your own words the significance of the four incentives in Hebrews 4:12-16. How can these things motivate you to greater service?

Hebrews 3 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Jesus is Superior to Moses (3:1-6)

A. Both Moses and Jesus were faithful (3:1-2).

B. But Jesus is worthy of more honor (3:3-6).

1. Just as a builder has more honor than the house he builds (3:3-4)

2. Just as a son has more honor than a servant (3:5-6)

II. A History Lesson (3:7-11)

A. A quotation from Psalm 95:7-11

B. During the wilderness wanderings, the Hebrews developed hard hearts.

III. A Warning (3:12-19)

A. Be careful that you do not develop a hard heart like they did (3:12).

B. Instead, encourage each other and hold fast to Jesus (3:13-14).

C. To develop a hard heart could excite the anger of God and result in a forfeiture of future blessing (3:15-19).

QUESTIONS

1. How does the writer refer to the recipients in 3:1?

2. How does the writer refer to Jesus in 3:1?

3. What characteristic do Jesus and Moses share (3:2)?

4. How does the writer affirm the deity of Jesus in 3:3-4?

5. How do we maintain our place in God’s house according to 3:6? (Hint: note the “if” statement)

6. How does the writer affirm the inspiration of scripture in 3:7?

7. According to 3:12, is it possible to fall away from God?

8. What can consistent encourage prevent (3:13)?

9. A word is repeated in verses 7, 13, and 15 that emphasizes the urgency of listening to God, encouraging each other, and maintaining a soft heart. What word is it?

10. Why were the Hebrews not able to enter the Promised Land (3:19)?

APPLICATION

Most Christians recognize their need to grow (2 Pet. 3:18). Most Christians understand that it’s possible to drift away from the Lord (Heb. 2:1-2). But I wonder how many of us feel a strong sense of urgency to address our spiritual growth. In this chapter, the writer tries to impress on his readers how important it is to address their wavering faith “today” (3:7, 13, 15).

What can you do today to improve your spiritual health? Make a list. Prioritize it. Then invest the time and energy to deepen your relationship with Jesus.

Hebrews 2 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. A Warning (2:1-4)

A. Pay attention to the words that God has spoken through his Son (2:1).

B. There is no escaping punishment otherwise (2:2-4).

II. Man Lost His Dominion Over Death (2:5-8)

A. In the beginning, God subjected the entire earthly environment to men.

B. But now we do not see everything subject to man.

III. Jesus Came to Fix What Men Broke (2:9-18)

A. Jesus became man to “taste of death” for everyone (2:9-10).

B. Jesus is not ashamed of our fraternal relationship (2:11-13).

C. Jesus became man to destroy the power of Satan, conquer our sin, and help us in our temptations (2:14-18).

QUESTIONS

1. What is the significance of “therefore” or “for this reason” in 2:1?

2. We are to pay close attention to “what we have heard” from whom (2:1)?

3. What is “the word spoken through angels” (2:2)?

4. What makes Christianity “great” (2:3)?

5. What gives New Testament teaching its authority (2:3-4)?

6. Hebrews 2:6-8 quotes what Old Testament passage?

7. Who is the “him” of Hebrews 2:6-8?

8. Over what did man lose his dominion when he was expelled from Eden?

9. What did Jesus do “for everyone” (2:9)?

10. What was the ultimate goal of the suffering of Jesus (2:10)?

11. What two things did Jesus accomplish in his death (2:14-15)?

12. Why was it necessary for Jesus “to be made like his brethren in all things” (2:17)?

APPLICATION

The writer’s warning in 2:1-4 becomes increasingly important when we realize that we can drift from spiritual safety through simple neglect. We do not have to wake up one morning and consciously decide to turn from God in order to lose our salvation. We can lose it a little at a time until we’ve lost it altogether. Think about some spiritual activities that we can find it easy to neglect. How can this neglect be detrimental? What are some ways that we can purposely increase our involvement in these activities?

Carefully read Hebrews 2:9-18 and list every characteristic that the writer attributes to Jesus. How do those characteristics affect your devotion to him?

Hebrews 1 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. God Has Spoken Through His Son (1:1-3)

A. In the past, God spoke through the prophets (1)

B. In these last days, God has spoken through his Son (2-3)

C. The Son of God possesses all of the characteristics of his father.

D. The Son now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

II. The Son of God is Superior to Angels (1:4-14)

A. No individual angel was ever singled out as “son” like Jesus was (4-5).

B. Angels worship the Son (6).

C. Angels are servants (7, 14); the Son rules an eternal kingdom (8-9, 13).

D. The Son created the earth and will one day destroy it (10-12).

QUESTIONS

  1. How does the writer describe the ways that God previously spoke through the prophets (1:1)?
  2. To what does the phrase “these last days” refer?
  3. There are seven characteristics of Jesus listed in 1:2-3. What are they?
  4. What does it mean to say that Jesus “upholds all things by the word of His power” (1:3)?
  5. What is the significance of being “at the right hand” of God (1:3)?
  6. In what way does the writer say that Jesus is better than the angels (1:4)?
  7. Why might it have been necessary for the writer to show that Jesus was superior to angels?
  8. There are seven different Old Testament quotations in 1:5-13. What are they?
  9. When God said to the Son, “This day have I begotten You,” to what day does He refer (1:5)?
  10. What is the significance of the term “firstborn” in 1:6?
  11. When the writer says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (1:8), of whom is he speaking?
  12. What do angels do (1:14)?

APPLICATION

Because Jesus: (1) is the one through whom God has spoken in these last days, (2) is the heir of God, (3) is the creator of the world, (4) is the radiance of God’s glory, (5) is the exact representation of God’s nature, (6) is the one who cleansed our sins, (7) is seated at God’s right hand, (8) is superior to angels, (9) is God’s Son, (10) is worshiped even by angels, (11) righteously rules an eternal kingdom, (12) will outlast the universe, (13) and sends out angels to do his bidding as they serve on behalf of Christians, then there is NO ONE who deserves our allegiance more than He.

If we were to turn away from Jesus, to whom better could we go? Peter was exactly right when he responded to Jesus’ question, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68).

Introduction to Hebrews

First century Christians faced challenges and persecution from many sources, including Jewish ones. These Jewish problems confronted Christians in two ways. One, some Jewish converts to Christianity tried to bind on Gentiles the practice of circumcision and other elements of the Law of Moses as a means of salvation. This is the background of the book of Galatians. Second, there were devout Jews, still loyal to the Law of Moses, who persecuted their Jewish friends and neighbors who had been converted to Christ. They did this in an effort to bring those Jews back into full allegiance to the Law of Moses. This is the setting for the book of Hebrews.

AUTHOR/WRITER

The ultimate source of Hebrews is the Holy Spirit of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:3-5). It is not the purpose of this treatise to detail the evidence that supports that conclusion. But the evidence exists that will lead the objective student to conclude that Hebrews belongs in the Scriptures.

As to the identity of the human writer, the simple and accurate answer is that we do not know. While many believe that the apostle Paul wrote Hebrews, and that conclusion is not without evidence, there is also substantial evidence against Pauline authorship. Some have suggested Luke, Apollos, Barnabas, and others. Had God intended for us to know the name of the writer, he would have made sure that we did. It is enough for us to know that the book is inspired.

DATE

The writer used a lot of ink to prove the point that the Law of Moses and the Levitical system of sacrifices had fulfilled their purposes and been replaced by the Law of Christ, with Jesus now serving as High Priest. One of the most visible signs of that change came in AD 70 when the Roman armies attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple (Matt. 24:1-35). Had that event already taken place by the time Hebrews was written, there is little doubt that the writer would have included a discussion of it. In addition, the language of the letter, specifically in 8:4 and 10:11, leaves the impression that priests were still offering daily sacrifices in the temple. These two points are the strongest lines of evidence that Hebrews was written prior to AD 70.

But how long before AD 70 was it? All we have from within the letter are vague statements regarding how long the recipients had been Christians. In 5:12, the writer affirms that enough time had elapsed since their conversion that they should have been more mature than they actually were. In 10:32, he encourages them to look back to “the former days” soon after their conversion when they patiently endured persecution. That’s not much material, but when coupled with external evidence, most scholars place the date of writing in 63-64 AD.

RECIPIENTS

The title, “To the Hebrews,” is on many early manuscripts and how the earliest uninspired writers refer to the book. The way the writer refers to the tabernacle, Levitical priesthood, and Jewish history seems to assume that the readers would have been familiar with those things. The emphasis, especially in chapters 8-10, on the superiority of the New Testament over the Old leaves the impression that the writer is trying to convince his readers to accept that superiority. All of those characteristics, added to the many exhortations in Hebrews to remain faithful to Jesus and not go back to the Law of Moses, leads us to the conclusion that the original recipients of the book were Jewish.

Regarding their spiritual condition at the time, they were Christians (1:3; 2:3; 3:14; 10:32), but not new Christians (5:12; 10:32). They were immature (5:12-14; 6:1-3). They had faced persecution in the past (10:32-34) and were facing it at the time the letter was written (12:4). Due to this persecution, they were on the threshold of complete apostasy (3:12-13; 6:10, 12; 12:12-13).

PURPOSE

The writer calls the book a “word of exhortation” (13:22). As stated above, Jewish Christians were facing persecution from their non-Christian, Jewish friends and neighbors. These Jews did not accept that Jesus was Messiah and wanted to eradicate his influence among their kinsmen. The Jewish Christians were weakening under the weight of this persecution (3:13; 5:12; 6:10, 12; 10:32-34; 12:12-13, 16; 13:5). Hebrews contains repeated warnings against apostasy (4:1, 11, 14; 6:11-12; 10:22-25; 12:1, 28; 13:22), perhaps best summarized in 3:12, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”

OUTLINE

I. The Superiority of the Person of Christ (1:1 – 7:28)

A. Jesus is superior to angels (1:1 – 2:18)

B. Jesus is superior to Moses (3:1 – 4:16)

C. Jesus is superior to the Levitical priests (5:1 – 7:28)

II. The Superiority of the Law of Christ (8:1 – 10:39)

A. A change in priesthood necessitates a change in law (8:1-13)

B. The inferior tabernacle and sacrifices (9:1 – 10:18)

C. The superior sacrifice of Jesus (10:19-39)

III. The Superiority of Christian Living (11:1 – 13:25)

A. Faith defined, described, and illustrated (11:1-40)

B. Christians must endure (12:1-17)

C. Choose: Mount Sinai or Mount Zion (12:18-29)

D. Miscellaneous exhortations and final greetings (13:1-25)

Romans 15-16

Note: to start at the beginning of this series, go here.

Introduction: In these final two chapters, Paul offers some parting words of encouragement, reveals his travel plans for the immediate future, and offers some final greetings to special individuals in Rome.

I. Chapter 15

A. Jesus, the servant (15:1-13)

1. The first seven verses of this chapter actually serve as a summary of what Paul taught in the previous chapter about dealing with each other over matters of opinion.

2. The strong are to be compassionate toward the weak and not be guided by a selfish desire to only please self (15:1-2). In so doing, we will be walking in the footsteps of Jesus (15:3-4).

3. Paul’s prayer for them is that God would help them to live in harmony with each other to the glory of God (15:5-7).

4. Drawing on the example of Jesus, Paul reminds them that Jesus became a servant in order to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and open the door of salvation to Gentiles (15:8-13).

B. Paul’s past work among the Gentiles (15:14-21)

1. As Paul begins to wrap up the letter, he makes some personal observations.

2. He commends the church in Rome for their goodness and their knowledge (15:14), even though he recognizes that he wrote some things that might have been considered bold (15:15-16).

3. Paul is proud of the work that God has accomplished through him among the Gentiles (15:17-19), and he has a strong desire to take the gospel to places that have not yet heard it (15:20-21).

C. Paul’s future plans (15:22-33)

1. Paul’s desire is to pass through Rome on his way to Spain (15:22-24). But before he goes their direction, he must go to Jerusalem to deliver money to the poor saints there (15:25-26).

2. The churches in Macedonia and Achaia were happy to make contributions for their brothers and sisters (15:27). When Paul has completed that visit, he will make his way to Rome (15:28-29).

3. He concludes this chapter by asking the saints in Rome to pray that God would make his plans a reality (15:30-33).

II. Chapter 16

A. Much of chapter 16 involves personal greetings to individuals who were members of the church in Rome (16:1-16).

B. In verses 1-2 Paul commends Phoebe to the church in Rome. She is probably the one who carried this letter from Corinth to Rome. What Paul says about her has caused some degree of controversy in recent years.

1. Paul’s use of the word “servant” in verse one is the source of debate. The word he used is the same Greek word from which we get the English word “deacon.” This has led some to conclude that there was an “office” of deaconess in the church.

2. But the evidence does not support this conclusion. The word in question simply means “servant” and can be applied generally to anyone, male or female, who serves. This is how Paul uses the word here.

C. Paul’s final exhortations involve the importance of watching and avoiding those who would cause divisions among them (16:17). He identifies them as serving their own lusts and using deceptive speech to gain a following (16:18).

D. Paul’s final words of praise are for the good news of Jesus that has been made known to the world and for God who made it all possible (16:25-27).

Conclusion: In this great letter Paul discussed the sinful condition of all mankind, the consequences of that sinful condition, the lengths God has gone to justify us in spite of our sin, the faith response required of us to obtain that justification, and how the justified should live in view of that justification. In the gospel, God has revealed his plan for making sinful people righteous, and how that good news should lead to “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).

Romans 14

Introduction: Not every choice we make involves issues of right and wrong. Some choices we make involve matters of personal opinion. One of the challenges we face as Christians is being able to distinguish between doctrine and opinion. First century Christians faced the same challenge. In Romans 14 Paul addresses some of these matters.

I. Dietary Preferences and Special Days (14:1-12)

A. Paul identifies two classes of people in verse two: those who believe that they may eat anything they like and those who eat vegetables only, the latter being identified as “the weak person.”

1. The church is told to welcome the weak brother/sister, but not for the purpose of arguing over this matter of personal judgment (14:1).

2. The one who eats meat is not to despise the one who doesn’t, and the vegetarian is not to pass judgment on the one who eats meat (14:3).

3. We do not have the authority to pass judgment on the servant of another (14:4). God is the master of my brother, not me. We do not answer to each other for our decisions, but to God.

B. Another example of a matter of personal judgment is in the area of special days. “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike” (14:5).

1. Whatever these days are, they are days that individual Christians are observing “in honor of the Lord.” The same is true for those who have dietary preferences (14:6).

2. The choices we make in life are not made in complete isolation. Our lives are lived for God and we belong to him, even in death (14:7-9).

C. Instead of passing judgments on each other over matters of opinion, we should focus on our own lives knowing that each person will give an account of himself to God (14:10-12).

II. Considering How Our Actions Affect Others (14:13-23)

A. Instead of passing judgment on each other over matters of personal opinion, Paul wants them to make sure that they are not putting hindrances and occasions of stumbling in the way of others (14:13).

B. Paul introduces in this section the role of the conscience and the importance of not violating it. In the case of eating meat, there is no law that prohibits eating meat. But if one cannot eat meat with a clear conscience, he should not eat (14:14).

C. Those who eat meat are to consider how that action might affect weaker Christians. If the meat-eater flaunts his right in front of weaker brothers, he is no longer walking in love and is offering the opportunity for something that is good to be spoken of as evil (14:15-16).

D. There are things far more important than eating and drinking. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are more important than what a person eats or drinks (14:17). Therefore, our desire should be to pursue things that promote peace, not conflict (14:18).

E. Paul restates the importance of not destroying a brother by causing him to stumble over a matter of opinion (14:20-21).

1. Remember: to make a brother “stumble” would involve that brother engaging in the action that he thinks is wrong.

2. Just because someone thinks that eating meat is wrong does not mean that everyone else must stop eating it. But if I use my influence to get someone to eat meat in violation of his conscience, then I’ve caused him to stumble.

F. With regard to these optional matters, we should not turn them into matters of argument and division. Happy are those who do not have to wrestle with their consciences over these things (14:22). But those who do should never violate their consciences (14:23).

Conclusion: It is not always easy to allow others to do things differently, even in matters of opinion. After all, I would not hold the opinions I hold if I did not think they were right. But in matters of individual judgment, we must allow each person to answer to his master, not to us.

Romans 13

Introduction: Chapter 13 continues the practical application section of the letter. In it, Paul focuses on the Christian as a citizen. He addresses two primary areas of conduct: our relationship to civil authorities and our relationship to other citizens.

I. The Christian and Civil Authorities (13:1-7)

A. The first sentence of the chapter clearly states how the Christian should act toward those who are in positions of authority in government, which would include police officers, council members, legislators, governors, and presidents: be subject to them (13:1).

B. The reason? Because all authority ultimately comes from God and God is responsible for the existence of civil government (13:1).

1. This means, then, that “resisting” (being hostile toward) authority figures is to resist God’s appointed servants. When one does that, he can expect to “incur judgment” (13:2).

2. Civil authorities are in place to enforce laws that govern conduct. If we want to live without fear of them, then we should live in harmony with the law (13:3).

3. But if we break the law, then we should be afraid (13:4). Why? Because civil rulers are servants of God (13:4, 6) who are carrying out God’s wrath on his behalf (13:4-5).

4. This vengeance on God’s behalf includes the right to “bear the sword,” a phrase that clearly refers to capital punishment (13:4).

C. Another result of being subject to civil authorities is our responsibility to pay taxes (13:6-7). In short, we owe civil government our taxes, respect, and honor for the roles they fulfill as ministers of God.

II. The Christian and Other Citizens (13:8-14)

A. Drawing on the idea of paying what is owed, Paul summarizes how we should act toward others by emphasizing the need for love. The one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the demands of the law (13:8).

B. He explains what he means by that statement in 13:9-10. The individual commandments that govern our conduct toward others – like prohibitions against adultery, stealing, etc. – are “summed up” in the general command to love one’s neighbor. Since love does no wrong to a neighbor, to love is to fulfill the law.

C. In the remainder of the chapter, Paul highlights the urgency of molding our character into what God wants it to be.

1. It is time to wake up to our responsibilities because our time on earth draws closer and closer to an end (13:11).

2. That being true, we should “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (13:12). We should distance ourselves from immorality (13:13).

3. We should clothe ourselves with the Lord and not live to gratify the lusts of the flesh (13:14).

Conclusion: The bottom line is this: no one should ever be a better citizen or a better neighbor than a Christian.

Romans 12

Introduction: Chapter 12 marks a major shift in the letter. The first eleven chapters are often called the “doctrinal” section of Romans, while chapters 12-16 make up the “practical” section. With this chapter, Paul is essentially saying, “Here is how all of the preceding information should affect the way you live.”

I. Living Sacrifices (12:1-2)

A. Paul makes a passionate plea, based on the mercies of God as expressed in his plan to make men righteous through Jesus, that his readers present their bodies as living sacrifices (1).

B. In addition, he encourages them not to conform themselves to the ways of the world, but rather to be transformed. In that way, they would properly discern the perfect will of God (2).

1. It has always been the will of God for his people (the Jews in the Old Testament and Christians in the New) to be different from the world around them.

2. Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 1 Sam. 8:5; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1

II. Using Your Gifts (12:3-8)

A. Paul warns them not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think in the realm of their areas of service in the church. They were to conduct themselves soberly with a proper recognition of the gifts God had blessed each person with (3).

B. He reminds them that a single body is composed of different parts, each having its own peculiar function, but all working together for the good of the whole (4). The local church should operate the same way (5).

C. He would make the same point to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 12:12-31).

D. Whatever your gift is, use it, whether it is prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, or acts of mercy (6-8).

1. Remember that prophecy was a miraculous gift available to the first-century church, but that it passed away along with the other miraculous gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10).

2. But the other gifts were not miraculous by nature. God blesses people with different natural abilities, and he expects us to use those abilities to his glory.

III. Miscellaneous Exhortations (12:9-21)

A. Exhortations regarding self and Christian family (9-13):

1. Let love be genuine, without hypocrisy (9; 1 Cor. 13:1-7).

2. Abhor what’s evil; hold fast what’s good (9; Amos 5:15).

3. Love and honor each other (10; 1 John 4:7-12).

4. Be zealous in serving the Lord (11; Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58).

5. Be joyful, patient, and prayerful (12; Phil. 4:4; James 1:2-4; Col. 4:2).

6. Be generous and hospitable (13; Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:9).

B. Exhortations regarding enemies (14-21):

1. Do not respond to evil with evil (14-17; 1 Pet. 2:21-23).

2. If at all possible, live in peace with everyone (18; Prov. 16:7).

3. Respond with kindness to your enemies, and leave the vengeance to God (19-21).

Conclusion: An important lesson to remember from chapter 12 is this – the good news about Jesus is not merely a blessed gift for us to enjoy, it also includes a solemn obligation to live for him. This chapter reveals many of the characteristics of a life lived in submission to Jesus.