Chapter-by-chapter Summary

Chapter Sumamry Commentary
A. A new salvation through the Son
1 The son is the instrument of creation and its heir, a full image of God, the object of prophecy, greater than angels. Strictly, the one who (1:3) "receives all" (rather than heir), as we (1:14) receive salvation.
The alliterative opening suggests the rhetorical intent and skills of the author.
Although much is said about angels, the essence of the chapter is the status of the son. By the end, angels are but a counterpoint to this main issue. Perhaps the rhetorical purpose is to defuse an interest in angels.
2 So the salvation from the Lord far exceeds that delivered by angels. Jesus is the pioneer leading the way for us. The idea of the pioneer will reappear later. Here the emphasis is on traveling the path we are to follow. This chapter explains why the great Son came as a human being.
This is also the first appearence of the idea of High Priest. (See 5, 8.)
3 Jesus is like Moses, but opens for the the "rest" which the ancients turned away from. The opening should be forceful, such as: "So, holy brothers, partners in the heavenly call!" This is not a scholarly treatise but a rousing speech.
Which is also shown by the heavy reliance on Σημεροσ to make the point.
4 We receive the promised rest if we believe. God will know if we remain true or not! But we have a priest who understands us. (This "receive" is not the same as in chapter 1.)
The judgement of the living God is important – as much as the mercy of Jesus. (See 10, also 6.)
B. The true priesthood
5 Priests are chosen from among the people, but only by the call of God. This is how it is with Christ. Why the change to "Christ" here? Perhaps because of the priests' annointing. If so, this is a rather subtle way of tying together the various titles into a single point of view.
This word may be difficult for you. (This flourish makes sense half way into a speech or sermon to wake up the critical ears of the audience.)
6 There is no point in reseeding barren fields nor hope for those who taste God's goodness and spit it out. But … (Rhetorically, of a piece with the end of chapter 5.)
those who endure can rely on God's promise and vow. Verse 19 introduces the tent of meeting; verse 20 repeats the ideas of pioneering and Melchizedek. These verses thus seem to be the articulation point, half way through.
7 The order of Melchizedek is both different from and greater than the order of Levi. Jesus is a priest of this order. (The summary in 26-28 is phrased indirectly, although it is obvious what is meant, in order to facilitate the emphatic nature of chapter 8.)
8 Our true priest conducts true worship under a true covenant. Not that Levitical Judaism is wrong (see 9:13-14) but that it is incomplete. (See also 7:18.)
This chapter introduces the ideas which are expanded in the next 2. (However, chapters 5-8 being on priesthood and 9-10 on worship and offering, I decided to separate them.)
C. True worship, true sacrifice
9 Jewish sacrifice in the temple is superceded by Christ's offering in heaven itself. Commentators emphasize 8:4 as implying a working temple, but 9:9 could equally suggest the temple's destruction. (What of the priests in Alexandria?)
(The summary is verses 23-28.)
As in chapter 5, "Christ" is used here.
10 Since Christ has replaced the model with the reality, both judgement and reward are greater. We have an open door to the holy place. All aspects of our relationship with God have been elevated by Christ's priestly action. God's displeasure is more to be feared than ever (an important aspect of this book), but the main point is the open door, verse 19-22. (See 4, 12. Also parallels 6.)
11. "Now, faith is the certainty of hoped things, the verification of matters not seen." Faith allows us to endure, as it allowed the ancients. This primarily consists of examples of faith at work in the lives of famous men. The general thrust is enduring, being faithful in the face of contrary appearences.
A secondary point is the other-worldly loyalty (verse 13 and following). The concept of approval is very minor here.
12 "Lift up your tired hands … for you have come to the city of the living God,"
  • to God the judge,
  • to Jesus and his sacrificial blood,
  • to a kingdom beyond shaking.
Although much space is given over to the example of Jesus and the concept of God's discipline, I read that as primarily a transition from the prior examples (11) to the triumphant conclusion (12:22-24).
The contrast between the old fear (φοβοσ) and the new awe (δεοσ) is clearly drawn here (verse 18 and following). This (and the lines about the city) complete the thought of 10.
Clearly this is the end of the oral presentation.
Appendix and transmittal
13A (1-17) Christian wisdom This section consists of sayings about the Christian life, a short book of proverbs.
13B (18-25) Epistulary section:
(18-21) Prayers
(22-25) Personal notes
This section is the only part which reads like a letter. (Perhaps the sermon was transcribed and then sent around with these notes attached.)

May 1993
September 2002

Pivot Rock Ensign