Hebrews 1 The Father and the Son
The epistle of Hebrews is a treasure, in which we find Paul at his theological best—bearing powerful witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ (look for special names and titles of Christ), of the priesthood of God, and of other great gospel truths. Scholars have doubted whether Paul was the true author or the sole author; but it is interesting that the Prophet Joseph Smith appears to have certified Paul’s authorship in his quote and commentary of Hebrews 11:4 (see The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 40).
Paul wrote this epistle in about 62 A.D. (possibly from Rome), to church members who were converts from Judaism and living in Jerusalem. They were living under great religious persecution, and Paul encourages them in patience and righteousness. In Hebrews 1:1-3 we learn the following:
- God the Father speaks to prophets “in many locations and various ways,” including through His Son Jesus Christ (verses 1-2; see also footnote a).
- Jesus Christ is the Creator of multiple worlds and is “heir of all things” (verse 2; see also verse 10; D&C 76:24; Romans 8:17).
- The Father and the Son are in “the express image” of each other (verse 3; see also John 14:9). We may derive from this that because Jesus Christ has a body of flesh and bones (see Luke 24:39), so does the Father.
- The Savior upholds “all things by the word of his power” (verse 3). Evidently (except mankind), all things created obey Him because they honor Him and His word; see Helaman 12:7-17.
- Our Redeemer fulfilled the Atonement “by himself;” even the Father temporarily withdrawing His presence and influence (verse 3; see Matthew 27:46; see also the imagery of the solitary “scapegoat”—which Jesus fulfilled—in Leviticus 16:21-22).
Hebrews 2 The Captain of Our Salvation
What witness or evidences does Paul mention in verses 3-4? Note Paul’s preceding admonition in verse 1, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard” about Jesus Christ and His gospel. In what ways can you give “more earnest heed”?
List the many things Jesus Christ has done for us, as taught in verses 9-11, 14-18. What stands out most for you? Read also Alma 7:11-13.
Hebrews 3 “Harden not Your Hearts”
Continue searching and pondering Paul’s teachings about Jesus Christ, in verses 1-6.
Read also Paul’s recitation of the children of Israel in the wilderness, in verses 8-11, 17-19. The Joseph Smith Translation for Exodus 34:1-2, speaking of the Israelites’ rebellion against the Lord, quotes the Lord as saying: “I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; … for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage.” Read also D&C 84:19-28.
Next, read Paul’s exhortation to the Hebrew church members (after reminding them of the wilderness experience of their forefathers), in Hebrews 3:12-14. What does it look like to you, for us to “exhort one another daily”? (verse 13).
Hebrews 4-5 Rest
The word rest occurs nine times in chapter 4, and most of those times it means to enter into the Lord’s presence (see Alma 13:16; D&C 84:24). Read Hebrews 4:1-2, 6, 9-11, and summarize what you learn about entering into God’s rest. Then read verses 14-16 and add what you learn about Jesus Christ’s role in our entry into eternal life.
President Joseph F. Smith taught that the rest of God “means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are right, and that we are not hunting for something else; we are not disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive. [It is] rest from the religious turmoil of the world” (Cited in Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 633).
And the following definition, under “Rest,” comes from Guide to the Scriptures (at churchofjesuschrist.org): “The enjoyment of peace and freedom from worry and turmoil. The Lord has promised such rest to His faithful followers during this life. He has also prepared a place of rest for them in the next life.”
Next, we learn in Hebrews 5 that those called to minister as the Savior’s authorized servants are to strive to be like Christ and to minister as He does. Read verses 1-4, looking for these teachings.
Hebrews 6 “An Anchor of the Soul”
In verses 4-8 Paul teaches about those who become sons of perdition, then offers a contrast as he teaches about those who become exalted, in verses 9-19. Search verses 10-20 for teachings that help us in our quest for eternal life. Also, note the following:
- Verse 10 Read also Matthew 25:40.
- Verse 12 Read also D&C 21:4-6.
- Verse 15 appears to be a reference to Abraham having his calling and election made sure.
- Verse 16 Compare this kind of oath to the experience of Nephi and Zoram in 1 Nephi 4:31-35.
- Verses 18-19 Glorious hope! Read also Ether 12:4.
- Verse 19 Entering into the veil can refer to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle of Moses and later in the Temple of Solomon, which a high priest did on the Day of Atonement, playing the role of the Savior in preparing the way for each of us to pass through the temple veil into His holy presence (see Leviticus 16; see also D&C 107:18-19; more of this to come in Hebrews 7-10). Of course, we also pre-perform this experience in our modern-day temple endowment experience.
- Verse 20 Again, our “forerunner” through the veil is Jesus Christ.