Hebrews was written to a group of first-century Christians who were in danger of giving up. Many had been exposed to fierce persecution. They had been assaulted, their homes plundered, imprisoned on account of their faith and publicly ridiculed (10:32-34). The letter appeals to believers undergoing trials to keep their faith rooted, to maintain a steady confidence in Christ and to press on towards maturity in Christ (2:1; 3:6; 6:1). The author urges them to 'hold fast', 'strive to enter', 'go on to maturity', and 'seize the hope' (3:6; 4:11, 14; 6:1, 18). The primary exhortation is an appeal for endurance. The Jewish readers, familiar with the great personalities of the OT, are reminded about the endurance of Abraham (6:15), Moses (11:27) and above all, Jesus (12:2-3). The writer commends Jesus, prophet (1:1-2), priest (1:3b) and king (1:8-14). He turns their eyes to Christ, not to their troubles, nor their oppressors, and portrays a clear picture of him lest anyone should abandon their faith through inadequately understanding him. For persecution had led some to give up their faith, or return to Judaism. Hebrews is one of the most polished Greek writings in the NT. Suggested authors have been Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Clement of Rome, Silvanus (1 Pet 5:12), Apollos (cf. Ac 18:24). As the third-century scholar Origen said, 'only God knows certainly'. Possible destinations have been put forward including Jerusalem, Alexandria, and more likely, Rome. A date of AD 64 has been suggested considering 10:32-34 as a reference to the Neronian persecution. By the end of the first century Clement of Rome was quoting from this book of the Bible in his correspondence with the Corinthians. Hebrews gathers all its leading ideas around two great themes, revelation and redemption, the word of God (chapters 1-6 and 11-13) and the work of Christ (chapters 7-10). Hebrews takes us into a world of ceremonial and sacrifice, priestly observances and traditional religious customs. Old and honoured patriarchal figures rub shoulders with devout priests constantly involved in the ceaseless round of animal offerings and sacrificial gifts. Yet although the letter's illustrative material may not always belong to our thought world, its leading ideas have a striking relevance and cover such issues as the revelation and the deity of Christ, ecology, liberation, religious pluralism. It also interprets the basic human problem of sin and guilt, man's need for meaning and purpose, the question of life after death, and the fact of apostasy.

1 1God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times [polymerōs] and in various ways [polytropōs], 2has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed [tithemi] heir [klēronomon] of all things, through [dia] whom also he made [poieō] the worlds [aiōnas]. 3His Son is the radiance [apaugasma]

Can either mean 'radiation out from' or 'reflection back'.

of his glory [doxēs; Heb. Sh'khinah], the very image [charactēr]

Just as a stamp vividly presents the picture of an image or superscription on a coin or medal which exactly and perfectly matches the picture on the die. The verb form of charactēr means 'to engrave'.

of his substance [hypostasis], and upholding [pherō] all things by the word [rhēmati] of his power [dynameōs], when he had by himself made purification [katharizō] for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high [megalōsynēs hypsēlois]; 4having become so much better than the angels, as he has inherited [keklēronomeō] a more excellent name [onoma] than they have. 5For to which of the angels did he say at any time, "You are my Son. Today have I become your father?" and again, "I will be to him a Father, and he will be to me a Son?" 6Again, when he brings in the firstborn into the world [oikoumenēn] he says, "Let all the angels of God worship him." 7Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds [pneumata], and his servants [leitourgous] a flame of fire." 8But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness [euthutētos] is the scepter of your Kingdom [basileias]. 9You have loved [agapaō] righteousness [dikaiosynēn], and hated iniquity [anomian]; therefore God, your God, has anointed [chriō] you with the oil of gladness [agalliaseōs] above your fellows." 10And, "You, Lord, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the works of your hands. 11They will perish, but you continue. They all will grow old like a garment does. 12As a mantle, you will roll them up, and they will be changed [allassō]; but you are the same. Your years will not fail." 13But which of the angels has he told at any time, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet?" 14Aren't they all serving spirits [leitourgika pneumata], sent out to do service [diakoneō] for the sake of those who will inherit salvation [klēronomeō sōtērian]?

2 1Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away [pararrheō]

This word is used in other contexts to describe a boat which is allowed to drift away aimlessly, missing the landing point. It is also used of a ring which slips off a finger, or of water which leaks away from a faulty jar.

. 2For if the word [logos] spoken through angels proved steadfast [bebaios], and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense; 3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation--which at the first having been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed [bebaioō] to us by those who heard; 4God also testifying [synepimartyreō] with them, both by signs [sēmeiois] and wonders [terasin], by various works of power, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will? 5For he didn't subject the world [oikoumenēn] to come, of which we speak, to angels. 6But one has somewhere testified [diamartyromai], saying, "What is man, that you think [mimnēskomai] of him? Or the son of man, that you care [episkeptomai] for him? 7You made him a little lower [elattoō] than the angels. You crowned him with glory and honor. 8You have put all things in subjection under [hypotassō] his feet." For in that he subjected [hypotassō] all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we don't see all things subjected to him, yet. 9But we see him who has been made a little lower [elattoō] than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace [chariti] of God he should taste of death for everyone. 10For it became [prepei] him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many children to glory, to make the author [archēgon]

Used sometimes in secular Greek literature to describe the head of a clan, a hero, a founder or a school of thought, or the originator or a particular course of action.

of their salvation perfect [teleiōsai] through sufferings. 11For both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers [adelphous], 12saying, "I will declare your name to my brothers [adelphois]. In the midst of the congregation [ekklēsias] I will sing your praise." 13Again, "I will put my trust [peithō] in him." Again, "See [idou], here I am with the children whom God has given me." 14Since then the children [sarkos] have shared in flesh [sarkos] and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing [katargeō] him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and might deliver [apallassō] all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For most certainly, he doesn't give help to angels, but he gives help to the seed of Abraham. 17Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers [adelphois], that he might become a merciful and faithful [pistos] high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement [hilaskomai] for the sins of the people. 18For in that he himself has suffered being tempted [peirazō], he is able [dynamai] to help [boetheō] those who are tempted [peirazō].

3 1Therefore, holy brothers [adelphoi agioi], partakers of a heavenly calling [klēseōs], consider [katanoēsate]

Cf. Lk 12:24, 27; 'consider the lilies…'.

the Apostle [apostolon]

In first-century thought and practice the specially appointed envoy possessed the full powers and was regarded as the personal representative of the one sending him.

and High Priest of our confession, Jesus; 2who was faithful [pisteuō] to him who appointed [poieō] him, as also was Moses in all his house [oikō]. 3For he has been counted worthy of more glory [doxēs] than Moses, inasmuch as he who built the house [kataskeuasas oikou] has more honour [timēn] than the house. 4For every house is built [kataskeuazō] by someone; but he who built [kataskeuazō] all things is God. 5Moses indeed was faithful [pisteuō] in all his house [oikō] as a servant [therapōn]

Lit. 'ministering servant'.

, for a testimony [martyreō] of those things which were afterward to be spoken, 6but Christ is faithful as a Son [therapōn] over his house [oikon]; whose house [oikos] we are, if we hold fast [katechō] our confidence [parrēsian] and the glorying [kauchēma] of our hope firm to the end. 7Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, 8don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion [parapikrasmō] , like as in the day of the trial [peirasmou] in the wilderness, 9where your fathers tested me by proving me, and saw my works for forty years. 10Therefore I was displeased [prosochthizō] with that generation, and said, 'They always err in their heart, but they didn't know my ways;' 11as I swore in my wrath, 'They will not enter into my rest.'" 12Beware, brothers [adelphoi], lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from [apostēnai] the living God; 13but exhort [parakaleō]

The word of the confident, heartening captain before battle. Often used in secular Greek literature of the naval or military commander putting strength into his sailors or soldiers.

one another day by day, so long as it is called "today;" lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness [apatē] of sin. 14For we have become partakers [metachoi]

Describes participation in some common blessing or privilege. The bond lies in that which is shared, not on account of who shares.

of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence [hypostraseōs] firm to the end: 15while it is said, "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion [parapikrasmō]." 16For who, when they heard, rebelled [parapikrainō]? No, didn't all those who came out of Egypt by Moses? 17With whom was he displeased forty years? Wasn't it with those who sinned, whose bodies [kōla] fell [piptō] in the wilderness? 18To whom did he swear that they wouldn't enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient [apeitheō]? 19We see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief [apistian].

4 1Let us fear [phobeomai] therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short [kataleipomenēs] of a promise of entering into his rest. 2For indeed we have had good news [euēggelismenoi] preached [euangelizō] to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn't profit them, because it wasn't mixed with faith [pistei] by those who heard. 3For we who have believed [pisteuō] do enter into that rest, even as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath [orgē], they will not enter into my rest;" although the works were finished from the foundation [katabolēs] of the world [kosmou]. 4For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, "God rested on the seventh day from all his works;" 5and in this place again, "They will not enter into my rest." 6Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter therein, and they to whom the good news was before preached [euangelizō] failed to enter in because of disobedience [apeitheian], 7he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts." 8For if Joshua [Iēsous; Heb. Y'hoshua] had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 11Let us therefore give diligence [spoudazō] to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall [piptō] after the same example of disobedience [apeitheias]. 12For the word [logos] of God is living [zōn], and active [energēs], and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul [psychēs] and spirit [pneumatos], of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern [krinō] the thoughts and intentions [ennoiōn] of the heart. 13There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked [gymna] and laid open [trachēlizō] before the eyes of him with whom we have to do [pros hon hōmin ho logos]

Lit. 'with whom (is) our account.

. 14Having then a great [megan] high priest, who has passed through [dierchomai] the heavens [ouranous], Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly [krateō] to our confession [homologias]. 15For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched [sympatheō] with the feeling of our infirmities [astheneiais], but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore draw near with boldness [parrēsias] to the throne of grace [charitos], that we may receive mercy, and may find grace [charin] for help in time of need.

5 1For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed [kathistemi] for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2The high priest can deal gently [metriopatheō] with those who are ignorant [agnoousin] and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness [astheneian]. 3Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. 4Nobody takes this honour on himself, but he is called [kaleō] by God, just like Aaron was. 5So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, "You are my Son. Today I have become your father." 6As he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order [taxin] of Melchizedek [Melchisedek; Heb. Malki-Tzedek]." 7He, in the days of his flesh [sarkos], having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear [eulabeias], 8though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. 9Having been made perfect [teleiōtheis], he became to all of those who obey [hypakouō] him the author [aitios] of eternal salvation, 10named [prosagoreuō] by God a high priest after the order [taxin] of Melchizedek [Melchisedek]. 11About him we have many words to say, and hard to interpret, seeing you have become dull of hearing [nōthroi]

Lit. 'sluggish'; used in the LXX of 'slothful men' who refuse to tackle hard work; see also 6:12.

. 12For when by reason of the time you ought to be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles [logiōn] of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. 13For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced [apeiros] in the word of righteousness [logou dikaiosynēs], for he is a baby. 14But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised [gegymnasmena]

As in a gymnasium; see also 2 Tim 4:7; 2 Pet 2:14.

to discern [diakrinō] good [kalou] and evil [kakou].

6 1Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles [logon] of Christ, let us press on to perfection [teleiotēta]--not laying again a foundation of repentance [metanoias] from dead works, of faith [pisteōs] toward God, 2of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection [anastaseōs] of the dead, and of eternal judgment [krimatos]. 3This will we do, if God permits. 4For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers [metachous] of the Holy Spirit, 5and tasted the good [kalon] word [rhēma] of God, and the powers [dynameis] of the age [aiōnos] to come, 6and then fell away [parapiptō], it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame [paradeigmatizō]. 7For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it, and brings forth a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receives blessing from God; 8but if it bears thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned. 9But, beloved [agapētoi], we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this. 10For God is not unrighteous [adikos], so as to forget [epilanthanomai] your work and the labour of love [agapēs] which you showed toward his name, in that you served [diakoneō] the saints [agiois], and still do serve them. 11We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence to the fullness [plērophorian] of hope even to the end, 12that you won't be sluggish [nōthroi], but imitators of those who through faith [pisteōs] and patience inherited the promises. 13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he swore by himself, 14saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 15Thus, having patiently endured, he obtained [epitynchanō] the promise. 16For men indeed swear by a greater one, and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. 17In this way God, being determined to show more abundantly [perissoteron] to the heirs [klēronomois] of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed [mesiteuō] with an oath; 18that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement [parakaleō], who have fled for refuge to take hold of [krateō] the hope set before [prokeimai] us. 19This hope we have as an anchor [agkyran]

By the end of the second century the anchor had become a highly meaningful Christian sign. Clement of Alexandria mentions the anchor as an appropriate device for a Christian's ring: 'And let our seals be either a dove or a fish … or a ship's anchor ('Paidagogus' III.11). It is found on early Christian epitaphs as a symbol of secure hope.

of the soul [psychēs], a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil [katapetasmatos]; 20where as a forerunner [prodromos]

Used in Greek literature to describe the function of a small party of soldiers sent fully to explore the way ahead prior to the advance of an army. Cf. Jn 14:2-3.

Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order [taxin] of Melchizedek.

7 1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High [hypsistou; Heb. HaElyon], who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness [baisleus dikaiosynēs], and then also king of Salem [Salēm]

Probably Jerusalem; such was the view of Josephus, which was, according to Jerome, supported by most early Christian writers. Cf. Ps 76:2.

, which is king of peace [basileus eirēnēs]; 3without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually [diēnekes]. 4Now consider [theōreō] how great this man was, to whom even Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the best spoils. 5They indeed of the sons of Levi [Leui; Heb. L'vi] who receive the priest's office have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law [nomon; Heb. Torah], that is, of their brothers [adelphous], though these have come out of the body of Abraham, 6but he whose genealogy is not counted from them has accepted tithes from Abraham, and has blessed him who has the promises. 7But without any dispute the lesser is blessed [eulogeō] by the greater [kreittonos]. 8Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified [martyreō] that he lives [zaō]. 9We can say that through Abraham even Levi, who receives tithes, has paid tithes, 10for he was yet in the body of his father when Melchizedek met him. 11Now if there was perfection [teleiōsis] through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people have received the law [nomotheteō]), what further need was there for another priest to arise after the order [taxin] of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order [taxin] of Aaron? 12For the priesthood being changed [metatithemenēs], there is of necessity a change [metathesis] made also in the law. 13For he of whom these things are said belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated [prosechō] at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah [Iouda; Heb. Y'hudah], about which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15This is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest, 16who has been made, not after the law of a fleshly commandment [nomon entolēs sarkinēs], but after the power [dynamin] of an endless life [zōēs akatalutou martyreō]: 17for it is testified, "You are a priest forever, according to the order [taxin] of Melchizedek." 18For there is an annulling [atheteō] of a foregoing commandment [entolēs] because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect [teleioō]), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20Inasmuch as he was not made priest without the taking of an oath 21(for they indeed have been made priests without an oath), but he with an oath by him that says of him, "The Lord [kyrios; Heb. Adonai] swore and will not change his mind [matamelomai], 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.'" 22By so much, Jesus has become the collateral [engyos]

Only appearance in the NT. In classical literature the engyos was a person who guaranteed that a legal obligation would be carried out.

of a better [kreittonos] covenant [diathēkēs]

In OT times agreements were made, for example, between two kings fixing the conditions of peace of the allocation of their territories. In these circumstances some form of mutual acceptability was always necessary. But in God's covenant with us it is not entirely satisfactory to translate the term as 'agreement', for in God's diathēkē the initiative is not with us but God.

. 23Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death. 24But he, because he lives [menō] forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 25Therefore he is also able to save [sōzō] to the uttermost [panteles] those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives [zaō] forever to make intercession [entygchanō]

The rabbis maintained that intercession on behalf of people was a ministry entrusted to the angels and especially to Michael the archangel.

for them. 26For such a high priest was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27who doesn't need, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices daily, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints [kathistemi] men as high priests who have weakness [astheneian], but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints a Son forever who has been perfected [teleioō].

8 1Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2a servant [leitourgeō]

The word 'minister' (leitourgos) denotes the activity of the priest whose responsibilities extended beyond the work of sacrificing to include serving God's people as their intercessor, example and instructor (see Mal 2:5-7).

of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle [skēnēs], which the Lord pitched, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed [kathistemi] to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. 4For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5who serve [latreuō] a copy [hypodeigmati] and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, "See, you shall make everything according to the pattern [typon] that was shown to you on the mountain." 6But now he has obtained a more excellent [diaphorōteras] ministry [leitourgias], by so much as he is also the mediator [mesitēs] of a better covenant [diathēkēs], which on better [kreittosin] promises has been given as law [nomotheteō]. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8For finding fault with them, he said, "See [idou], the days come," says the Lord, "that I will make [synteleō] a new [kainēn] covenant [diathēkēn] with the house [oikon] of Israel and with the house [oikon] of Judah; 9not according to the covenant [diathēkēn] that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to lead [exagō] them out of the land of Egypt; for they didn't continue [emmenō] in my covenant [diathēkē], and I disregarded them," says the Lord. 10"For this is the covenant [diathēkē] that I will make with the house [oikō] of Israel. After those days [hēmeras]," says the Lord; "I will put my laws into their mind [dianoian], I will also write them on their heart. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11They will not teach every man his fellow citizen, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know [ginōskō] the Lord,' for all will know [oida] me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness [adikiais]. I will remember their sins [amartiōn] and lawless deeds [anomiōn] no more." 13In that he says, "A new [kainēn] covenant," he has made the first old [palaioō]. But that which is becoming old [palaioumenon] and grows aged is near to vanishing away [aphanizō].

9 1Now indeed even the first covenant had ordinances [dikaiōmata] of divine service [latreias], and an earthly [kosmikon] sanctuary [skēnē]. 2For a tabernacle was prepared. In the first part were the lampstand [lychnia; Heb. menorah], the table, and the show bread; which is called the Holy Place. 3After the second veil was the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant [diathēkēs] overlaid on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the manna, Aaron's rod [rhabdos] that budded, and the tablets of the covenant [diathēkēs]; 5and above it cherubim of glory [doxēs; Heb. Sh'khinah] overshadowing the mercy [hilastērion] seat, of which things we can't speak now in detail. 6Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services [latreias], 7but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself, and for the errors [agnoēmatōn] of the people. 8The Holy Spirit is indicating this, that the way into the Holy Place wasn't yet revealed while the first tabernacle [skēnēs] was still standing; 9which is a symbol of the present age, where gifts and sacrifices are offered that are incapable, concerning the conscience, of making the worshipper perfect [teleioō]; 10being only (with meats and drinks and various washings) fleshly ordinances [dikaiōmata], imposed until a time of reformation. 11But Christ [christos; Heb. Messiah] having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect [teleioteras] tabernacle [skēnēs], not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, 12nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption [lytrōsin]

The mention of redemption recalls the slave market. This word depicts the release or liberation of a captive. For the OT background see Lev 25:48; Nu 18:16; Ps 111:0; 130:7.

. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify [hagiazō] to the cleanness of the flesh [sarkos]: 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works [ergōn] to serve [latreuō]

The same word is found in John's description of the eternal city (Rev 22:3).

the living [zōnti] God? 15For this reason he is the mediator [mesitēs] of a new covenant [diathēkēs]

This word can also be translated as 'testament', and is exactly the same word as that used in secular Greek literature to describe a will or a legacy.

, since a death has occurred for the redemption [apolytrōsin] of the transgressions that were under the first covenant [diathēkē], that those who have been called [kaleō]

In the NT the call is more than an invitation, though the term is used in the gospels to describe an invitation to a wedding reception or private dinner (e.g., Mt 22:3; Lk 14:8; Jn 2:2; 1 Cor 10:27). It also figures in Greek and NT literature as the summons to a law court. The idea of an invitation and summons may be both present in kaleō.

may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance [klēronomia]. 16For where a last will [diathēkē] and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it. 17For a will [diathēkē] is in force where there has been death, for it is never in force while he who made it lives. 18Therefore even the first covenant has not been dedicated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the [biblion] book itself and all the people, 20saying, "This is the blood of the covenant [diathēkēs] which God has commanded you [entellomai]

Lit. which God 'enjoined to you'.

." 21Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle [skēnēn] and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood. 22According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed [katharizō] with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission [aphesis]. 23It was necessary therefore that the copies [hypodeigmata] of the things in the heavens should be cleansed [katharizō] with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better [kreittosin] sacrifices than these. 24For Christ hasn't entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations [antitypa] of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place year by year with blood not his own, 26or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world [katabolēs kosmou]. But now once at the end [synteleia] of the ages [aiōnōn], he has been revealed to put away [atheteō] sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this, judgment [krisis], 28so Christ also, having been offered [prospherō] once to bear [anapherō]

Commonly used in LXX to describe the priest's task in bringing the sacrificial victim and laying it on the altar, e.g., Lev 14:20.

the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting [apekdyomai] for him for salvation [sōtērian].

10 1For the law, having a shadow [skian] of the good to come, not the very image [eikona] of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect [teleioō] those who draw near. 2Or else wouldn't they have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? 3But in those sacrifices there is yearly reminder of sins. 4For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5Therefore when he comes into the world [kosmon], he says, "Sacrifice and offering you didn't desire, but you prepared a body for me; 6You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. 7Then I said, 'See [idou], I have come (in the scroll of the book [bibliou] it is written of me) to do your will, O God.'" 8Previously saying, "Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn't desire, neither had pleasure in them" (those which are offered according to the law), 9then he has said, "See [idou], I have come to do your will." He takes away [anaireō] the first, that he may establish [histēmi] the second, 10by which will we have been sanctified [hagiazō] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11Every priest indeed stands day by day serving and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away [periaireō] sins, 12but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet. 14For by one offering he has perfected [teleioō] forever those who are being sanctified [agiazō]. 15The Holy Spirit also testifies [martyreō] to us, for after saying, 16"This is the covenant [diathēkē] that I will make with them: 'After those days,' says the Lord, 'I will put my laws on their heart, I will also write them on their mind [dianoian];'" then he says, 17"I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more." 18Now where remission [aphiēmi] of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brothers [adelphoi], boldness [parrēsian] to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh [sarkos]; 21and having a great [megan] priest over the house [oikon] of God, 22let's draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith [plērophoria pisteōs], having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, 23let us hold fast [katechō] the confession [homologian] of our hope without wavering [aklinē]; for he who promised is faithful [pistos]. 24Let us consider [katanoeō] how to provoke [paroxysmon] one another to love [agapēs] and good works [kalōn ergōn], 25not forsaking [egkataleipō] our own assembling together [episynagōgen], as the custom of some is, but exhorting [parakaleō] one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching. 26For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful [phobera] expectation of judgment [kriseōs], and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. 28A man who disregards [atheteō] Moses' law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses [martysin]. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted [hēgeomai] the blood of the covenant [diathēkēs] with which he was sanctified [hagiazō] an unholy thing [koinon], and has insulted [enybrizō] the Spirit of grace [charitos]? 30For we know him who said, "Vengeance [ekdikēsis] belongs to me," says the Lord, "I will repay." Again, "The Lord will judge [krinō] his people." 31It is a fearful [phoberon] thing to fall into [empiptō] the hands of the living God. 32But remember [anamimnēskō] the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle [hypomenō] with sufferings; 33partly, being exposed to both reproaches and oppressions; and partly, becoming partakers [koinōnoi] with those who were treated so. 34For you both had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better [kreittona] possession and an enduring one in the heavens. 35Therefore don't throw away your boldness [parrēsian], which has a great [megalēn] reward. 36For you need endurance [hypomonēs] so that, having done the will of God, you may receive [komizō] the promise. 37"In a very little while, he who comes will come, and will not wait. 38But the righteous [dikaios] will live by faith [pisteōs] . If he shrinks back [hypostellō], my soul has no pleasure in him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back [hypostellō] to destruction [apollymi], but of those who have faith [pisteuō] to the saving of the soul [peripoieomai psychēs].

11 1Now faith [pistis] is assurance [hypostasis] of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. 2For by this, the elders [presbyteroi] obtained testimony [martyreō]. 3By faith [pistei], we understand that the universe [aiōnas] has been framed [katartizō] by the word [rhēmati] of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible. 4By faith [pistei], Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had testimony [martyreō] given to him that he was righteous [dikaios], God testifying [martyreō] with respect to his gifts; and through it he, being dead, still speaks. 5By faith [pistei], Enoch was taken away, so that he wouldn't see death, and he was not found, because God translated him. For he has had testimony [martyreō] given to him that before his translation he had been well pleasing [euaresteō] to God. 6Without faith [pisteōs] it is impossible to be well pleasing [euaresteō] to him, for he who comes to God must believe [pisteuō] that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. 7By faith [pistei], Noah, being warned about things not yet seen, moved with godly fear [eulabētheis], prepared [kataskeuazō] a ship for the saving [sōzō] of his house [oikou], through which he condemned [katakrinō] the world [kosmon], and became heir [klēronomos] of the righteousness [dikaiosunēs] which is according to faith [pistin]. 8By faith [pistei], Abraham, when he was called [kaleō], obeyed to go out to the place which he was to receive for an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he went. 9By faith [pistei], he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents [skēnais], with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked for [ekdechomai] the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11By faith [pistei], even Sarah herself received power to conceive, and she bore a child when she was past age, since she counted him [hēgeomai] faithful [piston] who had promised. 12Therefore as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as innumerable as the sand which is by the sea shore, were fathered by one man, and him as good as dead. 13These all died in faith [pistin], not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed [homologeō] that they were strangers [zenoi] and pilgrims [parepidēmoi] on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15If indeed they had been thinking [mnēmoneuō] of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return. 16But now they desire [oregomai] a better [kreittonos] country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city [polin]

Three concepts of the city were prevalent in the first-century world. In Jewish thought the city was the home of the divine sovereignty (Ps 48:2). In Greek thought the city was the place of special privilege. In contrast, the Stoic view held that the city was the focus of universal hope. The NT concept of the city of God takes elements of each. By divine sovereignty, it is God's city. He dwells among his people (12:22). By special privilege it is the believers' city, yet in God's mercy he calls into it all who will believe. (See also 'The Shepherd of Hermas', Parables I.1,6.).

for them. 17By faith [pistei], Abraham, being tested [peirazō], offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received [anadexomai] the promises was offering up his one and only son; 18even he to whom it was said, "In Isaac will your seed be called [kaleō];" 19concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead. 20By faith [pistei], Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come. 21By faith [pistei], Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22By faith [pistei], Joseph, when his end was near, made mention of the departure [exodou] of the children of Israel; and gave instructions concerning his bones. 23By faith [pistei], Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid [phobeomai] of the king's commandment [diatagma]. 24By faith [pistei], Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25choosing rather to share ill treatment with God's people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; 26accounting [hēgeomai] the reproach [oneidismon] of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked [apoblepō] to the reward [misthapodosian]. 27By faith [pistei], he left Egypt, not fearing [phobeomai] the wrath of the king; for he endured [kartereō], as seeing him who is invisible [aoraton]

This word used in LXX Ge 1:2 of the earth: 'without form'.

. 28By faith [pistei], he kept [poieō] the Passover [pascha; Heb. Pesach], and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer [olothreuōn] of the firstborn should not touch them. 29By faith [pistei], they passed through the Red Sea as on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to do so, they were swallowed up. 30By faith [pistei], the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. 31By faith [pistei], Rahab the prostitute, didn't perish with those who were disobedient [apeitheō], having received the spies in peace. 32What more shall I say? For the time would fail me if I told of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets; 33who, through faith [pisteōs] subdued kingdoms, worked out righteousness [dikaiosunēn], obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions [leontōn],


Pompey had said that 'even the wild animals that live in Africa should be taught to respect the strength and courage of the Roman people. A century later, fleets weighed down with ravening exotica would be seen as the perfect symbol of the Republic's new global reach. 'The padding tiger, shipped in a golden cage, lapping at human blood, applauded by the crowds' was the description by Petronius, Nero's master of ceremonies.

34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness [astheneias] were made strong [endynamoō], grew mighty in war, and caused foreign armies to flee. 35Women received their dead by resurrection [anastaseōs]. Others were tortured [tympanizō]

This word explicitly refers to the rack.

, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better [krettonos] resurrection [anastaseōs]. 36Others were tried by mocking and scourging, yes, moreover by bonds and imprisonment. 37They were stoned. They were sawn apart [prizō]

Cf 2 Sam 12:31; 1 Chron 20:3; Mt 24:51 and Lk 12:46.

. They were tempted. They were slain with the sword. They went around in sheep skins and in goat skins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(of whom the world [kosmos] was not worthy), wandering in deserts, mountains, caves, and the holes of the earth. 39These all, having had testimony [martyreō] given to them through their faith [pisteōs], didn't receive the promise, 40God having provided some better [kreitton] thing concerning us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect [teleioō].

12 1Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [nephos marturōn], lay aside every weight [ogkon]

Weight is used in classical literature for excessive physical weight and also for a burdensome load. In this context it can also refer to superfluous clothes and anything which handicaps.

and the sin which so easily entangles [euperistaton] us, and let us run [trechō]

Running was one of the most popular of the Olympic games. The place prepared for the race was called the stadium because its length equaled a stadion, six hundred Greek feet. The stadium was an oblong area, with a straight wall across one end, where the entrances were, the other end being round and entirely closed. Tiers of seats were on either side for the spectators and witnesses. The starting place was at the entrance end and was marked by a square pillar. At the opposite end was the goal, where the judge sat and held the prize. The competitors fixed their eyes on him as they ran. The goal, as well as the starting point, was marked by a square pillar, and a third was placed midway, cf. Phil 3:14.

with patience [hypomonēs] the race that is set before us, 2looking [aphoraō]

Indicates the action of one who, aware of rival attractions, deliberately looks away from other things.

to Jesus, the author [archēgon] and perfecter [teleiōtēn] of faith [pisteōs], who for the joy [charas] that was set before him endured [hypomenō] the cross, despising [kataphroneō] its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider [analogizomai] him who has endured such contradiction [antilogian] of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls [eklyomai]

Lit. 'in your souls fainting'. Aristotle used the words weary and fainthearted together to describe the athlete who flings himself on the ground in panting collapse after surging past the winning post.

. 4You have not yet resisted [antikathistemi] to blood, striving against sin; 5and you have forgotten the exhortation [parklēseōs] which reasons with you as with children, "My son, don't take lightly the chastening [paideias] of the Lord, nor faint [ekluomai] when you are reproved [elegchō] by him; 6For whom the Lord loves [agapaō], he chastens [paideuō], and scourges [mastigoō] every son whom he receives." 7It is for discipline [paideian] that you endure [epomenō].

Roman character traits - Hardness

Hardness was a Roman ideal. The steel required to hunt out glory or endure disaster was the defining mark of a citizen. To the Romans, self-knowledge came from appreciating the limits of one's endurance. To the Romans, no truer measure of a man could be found than his capacity to withstand grim ordeals of exhaustion and blood. Never surrender; never back down.

God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn't discipline [paideuei]? 8But if you are without discipline [paideias], of which all have been made partakers [metachoi], then are you illegitimate [nothoi], and not children [uioi]. 9Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh [pneumatōn] to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live [zaō]? 10For they indeed, for a few days, punished [paideuō] us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers [metalambanō] of his holiness. 11All chastening [paideia] seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [dikaiosunēs] to those who have been exercised [gymnazō] thereby. 12Therefore, lift up [anothoō] the hands that hang down [pariēmi] and the feeble [paraluō] knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that which is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14Follow after [diōkō] peace with all men, and the sanctification [agiasmon] without which no man will see the Lord, 15looking carefully [episkopeō] lest there be any man who falls short [hystereō] of the grace [charitos] of God; lest any root of bitterness [rhiza pikrias] springing up trouble [enochleō] you, and many be defiled by it; 16lest there be any sexually immoral [pornos] person, or profane person, like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. 17For you know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected [apodokimazō], for he found no place for a change of mind [metanoias] though he sought it diligently with tears. 18For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, storm, 19the sound of a trumpet [salpingos; Heb. shofar], and the voice [phōnē] of words [rhēmatōn]; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, 20for they could not stand that which was commanded, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned;" 21and so fearful [phoberon] was the appearance [phantazō], that Moses said, "I am terrified [ekphobos] and trembling [entromos]." 22But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels [angelōn], 23to the general assembly [panēgyrei] and assembly [ekklēsia] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge [kritē] of all, to the spirits of just [pneumasi dikaiōn] men made perfect [teleioō], 24to Jesus, the mediator [mesitē] of a new covenant [diathēkēs], and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better [kreitton] than that of Abel. 25See that you don't refuse [paraiteomai] him who speaks. For if they didn't escape when they refused [paraiteomai] him who warned [chrēmatizō] on the Earth, how much more will we not escape who turn away [apostrephō] from him who warns from heaven, 26whose voice shook the earth then, but now he has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens." 27This phrase, "Yet once more," signifies the removing [metathesin] of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain [menō]. 28Therefore, receiving a Kingdom [basileian] that can't be shaken [asaleuton], let us have grace [charin], through which we serve God acceptably [euarestōs], with reverence [eulabeias] and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.

13 1Let brotherly love [philadelphia] continue [menō]. 2Don't forget [epilanthanomai] to show hospitality to strangers [philoxenia], for in doing so, some have entertained [xenizō] angels without knowing [lanthanō] it. 3Remember those who are in bonds, as bound with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you are also in the body. 4Let marriage [gamos]


Marriage by Roman standards was a typically unsentimental business. Love was irrelevant, politics was all. Upper-class women, especially if they proved fertile, were prized stakes in the dice game of advancement. Because girls were far more likely to be exposed at birth than boys, there was a permanent lack of eligible fiancées. So keen were fathers to cash in on their daughters' marriageability that girls would typically come of age some three or four years before their brothers. The moment a girl had celebrated her twelfth birthday she could expect to be veiled behind the traditional saffron of a bride. If a wife remained her father's ward - and most wealthy women did - then her loyalty to her husband might at best prove shallow. Marriages could be formed and broken with dizzying speed, for a sudden reversal of alliances might require an equally sudden divorce.

be held in honour [timaō] among all, and let the bed be undefiled: but God will judge [krinō] the sexually immoral [pornous] and adulterers [moichous]. 5Be free from the love of money [aphilarguros], content with such things as you have, for he has said, "I will in no way leave [aniēmi] you, neither will I in any way forsake [enkataleipō] you." 6So that with good courage [tharreō] we say, "The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?" 7Remember your leaders [hēgeomai], men who spoke to you the word [logon] of God, and considering [anatheōreō] the results [ekbasin] of their conduct [anastrophēs], imitate [mimeomai] their faith [pistin]. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever [eis tous aiōnas]. 9Don't be carried away [poikilais] by various and strange teachings, for it is good that the heart be established [bebaioō] by grace [chariti], not by food, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. 10We have an altar from which those who serve [latreuō] the holy tabernacle [skēnē] have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify [hagiazō] the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate. 13Let us therefore go out to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach [oneidismon]. 14For we don't have here an enduring city, but we seek that which is to come. 15Through him, then, let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which proclaim allegiance [homologeō] to his name. 16But don't forget [epilanthanomai] to be doing good [eupoiias] and sharing [koinōnias], for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17Obey [peithō]

Lit. 'Be persuaded by'.

your leaders [hēgoumenois] and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls [agrypneō hyper tōn psychōn]

Used in LXX of watchmen on duty in the city.

, as those who will give account [logon], that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you. 18Pray for us, for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience, desiring to live [anastrephō] honourably in all things. 19I strongly urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you sooner. 20Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant [diathēkēs], our Lord Jesus, 21make you complete [katartizō]

Can also mean 'restore', 'repair', or 'mend'. It is the word used in the gospels to describe the work of the disciples when they were mending their nets (Mt 4:21; Mk 1:19).

in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory [doxa] forever and ever. Amen [amēn]. 22But I exhort [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], endure [anechomai] the word [logou] of exhortation [paraklēseōs], for I have written to you in few words. 23Know that our brother [adelphon] Timothy [Timotheon] has been freed, with whom, if he comes shortly, I will see you. 24Greet all of your leaders and all the saints [agious]. The Italians [Italias] greet you. 25Grace [charis] be with you all. Amen.

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