Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Ninety-eight: Epistle to Hebrews   Restitution of All Things
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Chapter Ninety-eight:

The Epistle to Hebrews - Introduction #5

                             THE NEW TESTAMENT

                                BIBLE STORY

                           Chapter Ninety-eight

                   Epistle to Hebrews - Introduction #5


The following is taken from Albert Barnes' "Notes On The New
Testament"



THE DESIGN AND GENERAL ARGUMENT OF THE EPISTLE

     The general purpose of this epistle is, to preserve those to
whom it was sent from the danger of apostasy. Their danger on
this subject did not arise so much from persecution, as from the
circumstances that were fitted to attract them again to the
Jewish religion. The temple, it is supposed, and indeed it is
evident, was still standing. The morning and evening sacrifice
was still offered.  The splendid rites of that imposing religion
were still observed. The authority of the law was undisputed.    
Moses was a lawgiver, sent from God; and no one doubted that the
Jewish form of religion had been instituted by their forbear,
conformity with the direction of God. Their religion had been
founded amidst remarkable manifestations of the Deity - in
flames, and smoke, and thunder; it had been communicated by the
ministration of angels; it had on its side, and in its favour,
all the venerableness and sanction of a remote antiquity; and it
commended itself by the pomp of its ritual, and by the splendour
of its ceremonies. 
     On the other hand, the new form of religion had little or
nothing of this to commend it. It was of recent origin. It was
founded by the Man of Nazareth, who had been trained up in their
own land, and who had been a carpenter, and who had had an
extraordinary advantages of education. Its rites were few and
simple. It had no splendid temple-service were none of the pomp
and pageantry, the music and the magnificence, of the ancient
religion. It had no splendid array of priest, in magnificent
vestments, and it had not been imparted by the ministry of
angels. 
     Fishermen were its ministers; and, by the body of the
nation, it was regarded as a schism, or heresy, that enlisted in
its favour only the most humble and lowly of the people.
     In these circumstances, how natural was it for the enemies
of the gospel in Judea to contrast the two forms of religion, and
how keenly would Christians there feel it! All that was said of
the antiquity and the Divine origin of the Jewish religion, they
knew and admitted; all that was said of its splendour and
magnificence, they saw; and all that was said of the humble
origin of their own religion, they were constrained to admit
also.
     Their danger was not that arising from persecution. It was
that of being affected by considerations like these, and of
relapsing again into the religion of their fathers, and of
apostatizing from the gospel; and it was a danger which beset
another part of the Christian world.
     To meet and counteract this danger was the design of this
epistle. Accordingly, the writer contrasts the two religions in
all the great points on which the mind of Christians in Judea
would be likely to be effected, and show. the superiority of the
Christian religion over the Jewish in every respect, and
especially in the points that had so much attracted their
attention, and affected their hearts. 

     He begins by showing that the Author of the Christian
religion was superior in rank to any, and all, who had ever
delivered the word of God to man. He was superior to the
prophets, and even to the angels. He was over all things, and all
things were subject to him. There was, therefor, a special reason
why they should listen to him, and obey his commands. Ch.i.,ii.
     He was superior to Moses, the great Jewish lawgiver, whom
they venerated so much, and on whom they so much prided
themselves. Ch.iii. 
     Having shown that the Great Founder of the Christian
religion was superior to the prophets, to Moses, and to the
angels, the writer proceeds to show, that the Christian religion
was characterized by having a High Priest superior to that of the
Jews, and of whom the Jewish high priest was but a type and
emblem. 
     He shows, that all the rites of the ancient religion,
splendid as they were, were also but types, and were to vanish
away - for they had had their fulfilment in the realities, of the
Christian faith. He shows, that the Christian's High Priest
derived his origin, and his rank, from a more venerable antiquity
than the Jewish high priest did; for he went back to Melchizedek,
who lived long before Aaron; and that he had far superior dignity
from the fact, that he had entered into the most Holy place -
into heaven. The Jewish high priest entered once a year into the
most holy place in the temple; the Great High Priest of the
Christian faith had entered into the most holy place - of which
that was but the type and emblem - into heaven.   
     In short, whatever there was of dignity and honour in the
Jewish faith, had more than its counterpart in the Christian
religion; and, while the Christian religion was permanent, that
was fading. 
     The rites of the Jewish system, magnificent as they were,
were designed to be temporary. They were more types and shadows
of things to come. They had their fulfilment in Christianity.
That had an Author more exalted in rank, by far, than the author
of the Jewish system; it bad a High Priest more elevated and
enduring; it had rites, which brought men nearer to God; it was
the substance of what in the temple-service was type and shadow. 
     By considerations such we these, the author of this epistle
endeavours to preserve them from apostasy. Why should they go
back? Why should they return to a less perfect system? Why go
back from the substance to the shadow? Why turn away from
the true Sacrifice to the type and emblem? Why linger around the
earthly tabernacle, and contemplate the high priest there, while
they had a more perfect and glorious High Priest, who had entered
into the heavens? And why should they turn away from the only
perfect sacrifice - the great offering made for transgression -
and go back to the bloody rites, which were to be renewed every
day? And why forsake the perfect system - the system that was to
endure for ever - for that which was to vanish away?   

     The author of this epistle is very careful to assure them,
that if they thus apostatized, there could be no hope
for them. If they now rejected the sacrifice of the Son of God,
there was no other sacrifice for sin. That was the last great
sacrifice for the sins of men. It was designed to close all
bloody offerings. It was not to be repeated.

     If that was rejected, there was no other. The Jewish rites
were soon to pass away; and even if they were not, they could not
cleanse the conscience from sin. Persecuted, then, though they
might be - reviled, ridiculed, opposed, yet they would not
abandon their Christian hope, for it was their all; they should  
not neglect Him who spoke to them from heaven, for, in dignity,
rank, and authority, he far surpassed all who, in former times,
had made known the will of God to men.

     This epistle, therefore, occupies a most important place in
the book of revelation, and without it that book would be
incomplete. It is the most full explanation, which we have, of
the meaning of the Jewish institutions. In the epistle to the
Romans we have a system of religious doctrine, end particularly a
defence of the great doctrine of justification by faith.         
     Important doctrines are discussed the other epistles; but
there was something wanted, that would show the meaning of the
Jewish rites and ceremonies, and their connexion with the
Christian scheme; thing which would show us how the thing was
paratory to the other; and, I may add, something that would
restrain the imagination, in endeavoring to show how the
one was desired to introduce the other. The one was a system of
type, and shadows. 
     
     But on nothing is the human mind more prone to wander, then
on the subject of emblems and analogies. This has been shown 
in the experience of the Christian church, from the time of
origin to the present. Systems of divinity, commentaries, and
sermons, have shown everywhere how prone men of ardent
imaginations have been, to find types in every thing pertaining
to the ancient economy; to discover hidden meanings in every 
ceremony, and to regard every pin, and hook, and instrument of
the tabernacle, as designed to some truth, and to shadow forth
some tale or doctrine of the Christian revelation. 

     It was desirable to have one book that should tell how that
is; to fetter down the imagination, and bind it by severe rules,
and to restrain the vagaries of honest but credulous devotion.

     Such a book we have in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The
ancient system is there explained by one who had been brought up
in the midst of it, and who understood it thoroughly; by one who
had a clear insight into the relation on which it bore to the
Christian economy; by one who was under the influence of Divine
inspiration, and who could not err. 

     The Bible would have been incomplete without this book: and
when I think of the relation between the Jewish end the Christian
systems - when I look an the splendid rites of the ancient
economy, and ask their meaning - when I wish a full guide to
heaven, and ask for that which gives completeness to the whole -
I turn instinctively to the Epistle to the Hebrew.     

     When I wish, also, that which shall give me the most
elevated view of the Great Author of Christianity, and of his
work, and the most clear conceptions of the sacrifice which he
made for sin; and when I look for considerations that shall be
most effectual in restraining the soul from apostasy, and for
considerations to enable it to bear trials with patience and with
hope, my mind recurs to this book; and I feel, that the book of
revelation, and the hope of man would be incomplete without it.


                          ......................

In part 6, I will reproduce from the KJV Study Bible, the outline
of the book of Hebrews (Keith Hunt)

November 2006


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