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).

Romans 3:21 – 4:25

Introduction: Having established that everyone – Jew and Gentile – stands in need of salvation due to personal sin, Paul now turns his attention to explaining the basis of the salvation offered in Christ. We are not justified by merit. God justifies us because we trust him to save us.

I. The Basis of Justification is Grace, Appropriated by Faith (3:21-31)

A. The “righteousness of God” (i.e., the justification that comes from God) is possible apart from works of law in general, and the works of the Law of Moses in particular (3:21).

B. The basis of justification is the same for all, the grace of God made possible by Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins (3:22-25a).

C. God’s amazing plan for the redemption of man allows God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:25b-26).

D. Because we are declared righteous apart from meritorious works, we have no basis to boast (3:27-28).

E. God has decreed that both Jew and Gentile can be saved in the same way–on the basis of trusting, not earning (3:29-30). But this principle does no damage to the law. Rather, it harmonizes with it (3:31).

II. Abraham: and Example of Justification by Grace Through Faith (4:1-25)

A. Paul will explain in this chapter that the greatest hero of the Jews, Abraham, found justification through his trust in God, not any meritorious system of law.

B. Had Abraham been justified by merit, he would have plenty of reasons to boast. But the Scriptures are clear that what was put on his account as “righteousness” was his faith (Gen. 15:6), not meritorious works (4:1-8).

1. Paul explains the difference between grace and merit. When one works for pay, his wages are not counted as a gift (4:4).

2. But the one who doesn’t attempt to earn justification, but trusts in the one who can justify the ungodly, “his faith is counted as righteousness” (4:5-6).

C. Pious Jews placed inordinate value on circumcision, to the point that it was viewed meritoriously–that is, they believed that circumcision, in and of itself, obtained God’s approval (cf. Acts 15:1-5; Gal. 2:1-21; 5:6).

D. In 4:9-12, Paul reminds the Jewish Christians in Rome that Abraham was justified by faith long before he was ever circumcised.

1. The blessing of justification is not reserved for the circumcised only, and Abraham’s justification prior to circumcision proves that (4:9-10).

2. The fact that Abraham was counted as righteous because of his faith, and not because of his circumcision, is proof that he is the father of all who trust God for salvation, Jew or Gentile (4:11-12).

E. The promises that God made to Abraham regarding the blessings that would come through his descendants were made long before the Law of Moses ever came to be (4:13-15).

F. If the blessings promised through Abraham required perfect law-keeping, no one would enjoy them. That’s why those blessings are obtained through trusting God for them (4:16-17).

G. Abraham’s strong faith (4:18-21) was placed on his spiritual account as righteousness, not just for his sake alone, but for ours, too. If we follow in his steps, we will be justified in the same way he was (4:22-25).

III. Lessons

A. God blesses us, not because of who we are, but because of who he is (4:1-4; 1 John 4:19). God did not choose to bless Abraham because he owed Abraham.

B. There are four important terms used in this section that help us to understand our salvation:

1. Justification (3:24, 26, 28, 30) – a judicial term that denotes vindication, or receiving a favorable verdict. When we are justified, God drops the charges.

2. Redemption (3:24) – a financial term that denotes a payment of ransom. When we are redeemed, God pays for our release from captivity.

3. Propitiation (3:25) – a sacrificial term denoting the appeasement of righteous anger. Through the death of Jesus, the righteous demands of God’s nature are satisfied.

4. Accounting (4:11, 23-24) – another financial term that refers to a mathematical calculation that would be placed in a ledger. When we trust God for salvation, he places “righteousness” on our spiritual ledger.

Conclusion: Few Bible doctrines offer as much hope and peace as the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. We would all be hopelessly doomed to eternal torment if our salvation were contingent on our personal perfection.

Romans 1:18 – 3:20

Introduction: In the opening verses of chapter one, Paul affirmed the primary subject matter of the letter this way, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17). Before he proves that obedient faith in the gospel of Christ is the basis of salvation from sin, Paul will prove that everyone – Jew and Gentile – stands in need of salvation.

I. The Gentiles Need the Gospel (1:18-32)

A. The wrath of God is decreed on all who suppress the truth and live ungodly and unrighteous lives, which is the natural result of rejecting truth (1:18).

B. Though God had revealed himself to Gentiles, they had largely rejected him – an action for which there was no excuse (1:19-32).

1. God’s eternal power and divine nature can be perceived through the created world (1:20; Psa. 19:1-4; Acts 14:17). But the Gentiles refused that evidence and chose the path of idolatry (1:21-25).

2. As a result of rejecting God, they slid further into immorality. Specifically, Paul calls attention to homosexuality and uses strong words of condemnation for it (1:26-27).

3. In quick fashion, Paul lists several additional sins that characterized the Gentile world (1:28-32).

C. Take special note of the connection between what a person thinks about God and how that person acts (cf. Prov. 4:23; 23:7).

1. It was because the Gentiles “exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25) that they gave themselves over to the grossest immorality.

2. It is easy to see the same thing in our day. The more people reject the truth about Jehovah, the more they embrace depravity (Rom. 1:28). Look at the list of sins in this section and note how many of them are not just excused, but praised and promoted in our culture.

II. The Jews Need the Gospel (2:1 – 3:8)

A. Beginning in chapter two, Paul switches from addressing “they/them” to addressing “you” – one indication that he is now addressing the Jews.

B. The Jewish people had become adept at condemning the sinfulness of the Gentiles; but Paul makes it clear that both Jew and Gentile occupy the same spiritual real estate (2:1-16).

1. The judgment of God against such sinfulness is right (2:2) and he deals with each person fairly and impartially (2:11).

2. While it’s true that Gentiles deserve censure for their ungodliness (2:2), the Jews should not think that they are squeaky clean. To the contrary, they were “storing up wrath” for themselves, too (2:5).

3. Each person – whether Jew or Gentile – will be judged “according to his works” (2:6). Eternal life will be the lot of those who do well (2:7), and punishment will find those who do evil (2:9). God shows no racial or ethnic partiality (2:10-11).

4. The Gentiles stood condemned because they violated the law to which they were accountable – moral law; the Jews stood condemned because they violated the law to which they were accountable – the Law of Moses (2:12-16).

C. The primary condemnation of the Jews was hypocrisy (2:18-29; Matt. 23:1-7). Though they boasted of their connection to God and viewed themselves as leaders of the blind, they were guilty of the same sins that they condemned in others. As a result, the name of God was slandered.

III. There is None Righteous (3:9-20)

A. To bolster his case that Jew and Gentile are in need of the saving gospel, Paul combines quotations from several Old Testament texts in 3:10-18 – Psalm 14:1-3; 5:9; 10:7; Isaiah 59:7-8; Psalm 36:1.

B. Since the only thing that mere law can do is condemn – it cannot justify – there is no other conclusion to draw except that there is none righteous (3:19-20).

1. This is a major theme in Romans, and Paul will return to it later (3:27-28; 4:13-16; 9:30-32).

2. It is also a major point in Galatians (2:16; 3:10-13; 5:4).

Conclusion: Having established a universal need for the gospel, Paul will move on in the next chapter to explain the necessity of approaching God in a spirit of faith and trust, grateful that he will declare us righteous for so doing.

Romans 1:1-17

Introduction: Douglas Moo wrote, “Romans is one of the most interesting and engaging books in the Bible – precisely because it shapes the way we think about so much of the universe we inhabit” (16). I cannot argue with that assessment. In this letter, Paul discusses 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. Romans is deep, theologically challenging, and imminently practical. In this first section of the letter, Paul introduces the reader to the underlying theme – the good news of Jesus is God’s power to save because it reveals his plan to make men righteous.

I. Introduction and Greeting (1:1-7)

A. Paul identifies himself (1) as “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

1. Each of those terms emphasizes Paul’s understanding that his life was not really his own. He belonged to another.

2. Galatians 2:20; Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 14:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:15

B. Paul identifies some key elements of the gospel (1b-4)

1. It originates with God, it was promised in the Old Testament scriptures, and Jesus is its subject (cf. Luke 24:44; Acts 26:22-23).

2. Regarding Jesus, Paul calls attention to his humanity, his deity, and his resurrection. These are key components of the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

C. Paul explains his apostolic mission (5-6) – “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (cf. Rom. 16:26). The good news of Jesus is designed to produce obedient trust in him.

D. Paul identifies the recipients of the letter (6b-7) – they belong to Jesus, God loves them, and they were called to be saints.

II. Gratitude and Prayer (1:8-15)

A. Paul’s reasons for being thankful and his requests for them (8-10).

1. Paul is grateful for their faith, through which they had developed a widespread reputation (8).

2. Paul prays for them “without ceasing,” longing to be able to come to Rome and visit them (9-10).

B. Paul explains his desire to visit them personally (11-15)

1. His desire to visit them revolves around his desire to strengthen them through the imparting of “some spiritual gift” (11) that Paul believed would result in mutual encouragement and deeper faith in both him and the Roman church (12).

2. To reinforce how much he wanted to visit them, Paul further explains his motivation, sense of obligation, and eagerness to preach (13-15).

III. The Theme Statement of the Book (1:16-17)

A. The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (16).

1. The gospel of Christ can be viewed from different angles: there are basic facts that must be believed (1 Cor. 15:1-4); there are commands that must be obeyed (2 Thess. 1:8; Rom. 6:17); there are promises that can be enjoyed (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 1:3-4).

2. This good news saves anyone who believes it – whether Jew or Gentile (cf. Rom. 2:9-11).

B. The gospel reveals God’s plan to make men righteous (17).

1. The “righteousness of God” in the book of Romans is not a reference to a characteristic of God’s nature; rather, it is a reference to the righteous status that God bestows on those who believe the gospel.

2. In other words, Romans 1:17 is affirming that God’s plan for making men righteous is revealed in the gospel. It is a plan that is both rooted in faith and leads to additional faith.

3. To supplement his point, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, which affirms that spiritual life is obtained by trusting in God.

Conclusion: When one stands before the book of Romans he stands on holy ground. To understand Romans is to understand the message of the entire Bible – the sinfulness of man, the grace of God, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the redemption of Jew and Gentile, the power of faith, and the necessity of showing our faith in submission to the authority of Christ. It should be a wonderful study!

REFERENCE

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000. Print.