THE STRUCTURE OF HEBREWS
Now that we’ve seen what Hebrews is about, there’s one more piece that we want to tackle: how the pieces of the book fit together. Structure is an important part of Bible study.
One of the best ways to understand what the Bible says is to look at how it’s arranged. It’s a matter of context: when you have the big picture, the little pictures become a lot easier to understand.
So let’s take a look at the big picture of Hebrews.
CHRIST'S SUPERIOR STATUS (1:1-5:10)
The author opens with the case for Christ’s superiority.
Long ago, God spoke through prophets, but now God has spoken through his Son.
The first five chapters show how Jesus is greater than angels, the devil, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron.
The author also exhorts the readers to cling to Jesus: he’s the best.
But just as the author starts describing Jesus as the perfect priest, he switches gears.
DON'T SLOW DOWN NOW (5:11-6:20)
The author has a lot to say on the point of Jesus’ priestly service, but knows it won’t be easy to explain.
The readers should already understand this stuff—in fact, they should be able to teach these truths to other people (5:12).
But instead they have grown “dull of hearing” (5:11), and are getting rusty on discerning good from evil (5:14).
The author warns the readers of what happens to those who turn away from Jesus (6:4–8), and encourages the readers to instead imitate the patient, faithful believers (6:12).
CHRIST'S SUPERIOR SERVICE (7:1-10:18)
This is the theological climax of Hebrews.
Now that the author has addressed his concern for the readers, he starts explaining Jesus’ ministry as our great high priest. The author explores how Jesus is a priest according to Melchizedek’s order, not Aaron’s. Then he talks about how the covenant that Jesus put in place makes the old one (and its sacrifices) obsolete. Then he tells us how Jesus’ blood was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and how Jesus is the mediator between God and man. Jesus is both the greater priest and the greater sacrifice of a greater covenant with greater results.
HOLD FAST (10:19-31)
Now, in light of how great a work Christ has done, how should the “dull of hearing” readers respond?
The author encourages them to “hold fast the confession of hope without wavering” (10:23).
Instead of being “sluggish,” (6:12), they should push each other to love and perform good deeds (10:24).
God does not look favorably upon apostasy... ever!
OUR STEADFAST RESPONSE
Now the readers have heard the message. They’re reminded of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. What should they do? They’ve been saved. They’ve suffered for Christ’s sake (10:32–33). Now they need endurance. And the author gives them a long list of people who have endured—we know them as the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith.” The readers should accept God’s discipline and live God-honoring lives.
Because Jesus is greater, the readers (and we, too) should be anchored steadfastly in Him.