FALL BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES:
Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Part of the New International Commentary on the New Testament edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee. (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2012).
Harrington, Daniel J., S.J. Jude and 2 Peter. Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J.. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).
Elliott, John H.. 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 2000).
Harten, Patrick J. James. Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J.. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).
Koester, Craig R. Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Part of the Anchor Bible commentary series edited by William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 2001).
Long, Thomas G. Hebrews. Part of the Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James Luther Mays. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1997).
Mitchell, Alan C. Hebrews. Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J.. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2007).
Perkins, Pheme. First and Second Peter, James, and Jude. Part of the Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James Luther Mays. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1995).
Senior, Donald P., C.P. 1 Peter. Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J.. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).
Wright, N. T. Hebrews for Everyone. Part of the New Testament for Everyone series edited by N. T. Wright. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).
Why is the Christian life so hard? Hebrews 12:1-11
As noted earlier – the community being written to is tired of the struggles it faces – whatever the nature of the struggles. It appears to be losing heart and faith.
Long p. 130: “True participation in the Christian faith always carries a price. When the experience of Christians in many cultures and settings is surveyed, the currency changes but the fact of costly commitment remains. Sometimes the cost is financial. … Sometimes the cost is social. … In other cultural settings, the cost can be intellectual and emotional.”
Long p. 131: “The Preacher is not concerned about the few who make a scene and slam the front door of the church on the way out; they were never really with us in the first place. He is concerned, however, about those who slip quietly out the side door, never to return. He is concerned about those who pour their lives into the offering plate but never receive the blessing, those who have all the scars but none of the hope.”
Step one – remember Jesus and how he endured it and what he endured. Step two – know that the struggles and suffering have meaning, consider even that they may be coming from God as discipline (training, for increasing strength).
The preacher is NOT suggesting that all suffering comes from God. He is trying to help this congregation persist in faith through its current trials.
Limping toward the finish line Hebrews 12:12-17
Long (p. 134, 135) suggests that it’s much like a marathon. Fast and professional runners at the front, ordinary runners in the middle, the rest at the end. Struggling to finish. In the back of the pack compassion and concern for one another dominates.
Long p. 135: “God’s race is not the Olympics; it is the Special Olympics, and runners who are “lame,” that is, encumbered in so many ways, are encouraged to get out on the track and to “make straight paths for your feet” (12:13, with the image taken from Prov. 4:26).”
Let your eyes look straight ahead
and your gaze be focused forward.
Survey the path for your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
Turn neither to right nor to left,
keep your foot far from evil.
Esau didn’t keep a large enough perspective, selling his birthright for a meal when he was hungry. A great negative example for those who are tempted to wander off as things get tougher.
A Field Trip to Zion Hebrews 12:18-24
The first images are of Mt. Sinai, connected with the giving of the commandments. It was so terrifying that the people commissioned Moses to be their go-between and to meet with God by himself.
Long p. 138: “In heaven right now, they say, there is a festive and ceaseless party underway, with angels fluttering around in joy and the saints swinging from the chandeliers. Every so often the floor of heaven opens up and this whole spree descends into ordinary time and space; this is Christian worship.”
There is blood of animal sacrifices at Sinai, in true Zion blood of Jesus has had its effect.
Zion revisited Hebrews 12:25-29
Long p. 140: “The God of Sinai and the God of Zion are one and the same, holy and awe-full, a purifying fire of perfect judgment. Is this good news, or bad? It depends upon whether we are gold or dross, the dust to be shaken off or the precious object that cannot be shaken.”
Shall we sing out with praises? Or hide under the pews?
Long p. 141 quotes a hymn:
Far off I see the goal –
O Savior, guide me;
I feel my strength is small –
Be Thou beside me;
With vision every clear,
With love that conquers fear,
And grace to persevere,
O Lord, provide me.
(Robert R. Roberts)
The Announcements Hebrews 13:1-19
Practical application of the spiritual and theological message – be good to one another and to strangers. Live out this Christian life with courage and with Jesus as your example and guide.
The Benediction Hebrews 13:20,21
Long p. 146: on the blessing with Jesus “brought back” (brought up in NAB): “Jesus travels from the heavenly realm downward through time and space into the place of suffering, and then is “led up” by God, holding fast to his brothers and sisters, and bringing them with him into the heavenly sanctuary.”