Letter of James: Introduction (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 760)

Letter of James: Introduction (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 760)

BOOK NAME

JAMES, abbreviated as Jas, Jm

BIBLE CATEGORY

The 20th Book of the New Testament.
After the 13th Epistle of Paul and the Letter to the Hebrews, the New Testament contains seven other letters. Three of these are attributed to John, two to Peter, and one each to James and Jude, all personages of the apostolic age.

THE AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING

James, a relative of Jesus who is usually called “brother of the Lord” is considered to be the author. He was the leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem whom Paul acknowledged as one of the “pillars” (Gal 2:9), Acts 12:17 and Acts 15:13-22.
James is mention several times in the Bible, in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal 1:19; so he is neither one of the two Apostle Jameses.

James identifies himself by name but simply describes himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

It would have been written sometime before AD 70. Jerusalem would also be the place of writing.

Purpose of Writing:

Framed within an overall theme of patient perseverance during trials and temptations, James writes to encourage believers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ. He wants his readers to mature in their faith in Christ by living what they say they believe. He condemns various sins, including pride, hypocrisy, favouritism, and slander. He encourages believers to humbly live by Godly rather than worldly wisdom and to pray in all situations.

Within the New Testament canon, the Epistle of James is noteworthy because it makes no reference to the death, resurrection, or divine sonship of Jesus. It refers to Jesus twice, as “the Lord Jesus Christ” and as “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1, 2:1).
(sourced : wikipedia)

The Book

The letter was in the Greek language.

The pages of James are filled with direct commands to pursue a life of holiness. He makes no excuses for those who do not measure up.

His letter deals more with Christian ethics than Christian theology.
It is different from Paul’s letters. It does not tell people what they must believe. James did not write it to tell them how to become Christians. He is writing to Christians, he is telling them how to become better Christians.

OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF JAMES (source: purposequest dot com)

WHAT JAMES LEARNED FROM LIVING WITH HIS BROTHER JESUS

I. There are certain realities of life common to all believers – 1:2-1:18.
A. Trials and testing will come and can be overcome — 1:2-8.
1. Be joyful — 1:2.
2. Persevere — 1:3-4.
3. Ask for wisdom — 1:5.
4. Eliminate doubt — 1:6-8.
B. Riches are attractive but transient — 1:9-11.
1. The poor should glory in their humble position — 1:10.
2. Pursuit of money will pass away — 1:11.
C. Trials of life are the basis for eternal rewards now and later — 1:12.
D. Temptation is inevitable, yet not from God.
1. Understand the process — 1:16
2. Only good comes from God, including salvation — 1:17-18

II. Each believer should develop certain responses to the realities of life
— 1:19-2:13.
A. Anger does not promote God’s purpose — 1:19-20.
B. Moral cleansing is critical — 1:21
C. Doing and not just listening to the word of God — 1:22-25
1. Care for widows and orphans, for instance — 1:26.
2. Eliminate favoritism for rich over poor — 2:1-4.
a. Rich are a source of problems and not worth the special treatment
— 2:5-7
b. The royal law requires that all be treated equally — 2:8-9.
c. Break this command to treat all as yourself and all the law is
broken — 2:10-11
3. Be a source of mercy and not judgment — 2:12-13.

III. There are certain requirements to be met if a believer is to have the proper response
to the realities of life — 2:14-3:18.

A. Faith demands proof — 2:14-26.
1. Faith is more than adherence to doctrine — 2:18-24.
2. Faith without appropriate works is dead — 2:25-26.
B. The tongue must be ruled — 3:1-12.
1. Not many should desire to be teachers — 3:1-2.
2. The tongue, though small, is powerful — 3:3-8.
3. The tongue can be used for both good and evil — 3:9-12.
C. Wisdom must be sought — 3:13-18.
1. Wisdom, like faith, must be shown in deeds — 3:13.
2. There is an earthly wisdom that must be rejected — 3:14-16.
3. Godly wisdom brings harmony and peace — 3:17-18.

IV. Lessons on how to rule the basic relationships of life — 4:1-5:6.
A. Rule lust and pleasure-seeking, which are the basic causes for disputes with
others — 4:1-3.
B. Rule pride, which is a major reason why the Lord will resist you in your
relationship with Him — 4:4-6.
1. Overcome pride by drawing near to God in humility and resisting the
devil — 4:7-10.
2. Do not be proud and slander others — 4:11-12.
3. Do not be proud and boast about tomorrow — 4:13-17.
4. Do not be proud and trust in riches — 5:1-6.

V. Other resources necessary for a blessed life — 5:7-20.
A. Patience — 5:7-11.
B. Simplicity of speech — 5:12.
C. Prayer — 5:13-18.
D. Reaching out to others — 5:19-20.

Hebrews 13 (TBRM Day 759)

Hebrews 13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

VI. Final Exhortation, Blessing, Greetings

Chapter 13

[a]Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:

“The Lord is my helper,
[and] I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.[b] It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them. 10 We have an altar[c] from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. 13 Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.15 Through him [then] let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.

17 [d]Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a clear conscience, wishing to act rightly in every respect. 19 I especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very soon.

20 [e]May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, 21 furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever [and ever]. Amen.

22 Brothers, I ask you to bear with this message of encouragement, for I have written to you rather briefly. 23 I must let you know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he comes soon, I shall see you together with him. 24 Greetings to all your leaders and to all the holy ones. Those from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.

Footnotes:

  1. 13:1–16 After recommendations on social and moral matters (Hb 13:1–6), the letter turns to doctrinal issues. The fact that the original leaders are dead should not cause the recipients of this letter to lose their faith (Hb 13:7), for Christ still lives and he remains always the same (Hb 13:8). They must not rely for their personal sanctification on regulations concerning foods (Hb 13:9), nor should they entertain the notion that Judaism and Christianity can be intermingled (Hb 13:10; cf. notes on Gal 2:11–142:15–21). As Jesus died separated from his own people, so must the Christian community remain apart from the religious doctrines of Judaism (Hb 13:11–14). Christ must be the heart and center of the community (Hb 13:15–16).
  2. 13:9 Strange teaching: this doctrine about foods probably refers to the Jewish food laws; in view of Hb 13:10, however, the author may be thinking of the Mosaic sacrificial banquets.
  3. 13:10 We have an altar: this does not refer to the Eucharist, which is never clearly mentioned in Hebrews, but to the sacrifice of Christ.
  4. 13:17–25 Recommending obedience to the leaders of the community, the author asks for prayers (Hb 13:17–19). The letter concludes with a blessing (Hb 13:20–21), a final request for the acceptance of its message (Hb 13:22), information regarding Timothy (Hb 13:23), and general greetings (Hb 13:24–25).
  5. 13:20–21 These verses constitute one of the most beautiful blessings in the New Testament. The resurrection of Jesus is presupposed throughout Hebrews, since it is included in the author’s frequently expressed idea of his exaltation, but this is the only place where it is explicitly mentioned.

Hebrews 12 (TBRM Day 758)

Hebrews 12 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 12

God Our Father.[a] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us[b] and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons:

“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
    or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
    he scourges every son he acknowledges.”

Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards. Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not [then] submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

12 So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. 13 Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Penalties of Disobedience. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 [c]See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled, 16 that no one be an immoral or profane person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit his father’s blessing, he was rejected because he found no opportunity to change his mind, even though he sought the blessing with tears.

18 [d]You have not approached that which could be touched[e] and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm 19 and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, 20 for they could not bear to hear the command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.” 22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, 23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,[f] and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently[g] than that of Abel.

25 See that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven. 26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, “I will once more shake not only earth but heaven.” 27 That phrase, “once more,” points to [the] removal of shaken, created things, so that what is unshaken may remain. 28 Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:1–13 Christian life is to be inspired not only by the Old Testament men and women of faith (Hb 12:1) but above all by Jesus. As the architect of Christian faith, he had himself to endure the cross before receiving the glory of his triumph (Hb 12:2). Reflection on his sufferings should give his followers courage to continue the struggle, if necessary even to the shedding of blood (Hb 12:3–4). Christians should regard their own sufferings as the affectionate correction of the Lord, who loves them as a father loves his children.
  2. 12:1 That clings to us: the meaning is uncertain, since the Greek word euperistatos, translated cling, occurs only here. The papyrus P46 and one minuscule read euperispastos, “easily distracting,” which also makes good sense.
  3. 12:15–17 Esau serves as an example in two ways: his profane attitude illustrates the danger of apostasy, and his inability to secure a blessing afterward illustrates the impossibility of repenting after falling away (see Hb 6:4–6).
  4. 12:18–29 As a final appeal for adherence to Christian teaching, the two covenants, of Moses and of Christ, are compared. The Mosaic covenant, the author argues, is shown to have originated in fear of God and threats of divine punishment (Hb 12:18–21). The covenant in Christ gives us direct access to God (Hb 12:22), makes us members of the Christian community, God’s children, a sanctified people (Hb 12:23), who have Jesus as mediator to speak for us (Hb 12:24). Not to heed the voice of the risen Christ is a graver sin than the rejection of the word of Moses (Hb 12:25–26). Though Christians fall away, God’s kingdom in Christ will remain and his justice will punish those guilty of deserting it (Hb 12:28–29).
  5. 12:18 This remarkably beautiful passage contrasts two great assemblies of people: that of the Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai for the sealing of the old covenant and the promulgation of the Mosaic law, and that of the followers of Jesus gathered at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the assembly of the new covenant. This latter scene, marked by the presence of countless angels and of Jesus with his redeeming blood, is reminiscent of the celestial liturgies of the Book of Revelation.
  6. 12:23 The assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven: this expression may refer to the angels of Hb 12:22, or to the heroes of the Old Testament (see Hb 11), or to the entire assembly of the new covenant.
  7. 12:24 Speaks more eloquently: the blood of Abel, the first human blood to be shed, is contrasted with that of Jesus. Abel’s blood cried out from the earth for vengeance, but the blood of Jesus has opened the way for everyone, providing cleansing and access to God (Hb 10:19).

Hebrews 11 (TBRM Day 757)

Hebrews 11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

V. Examples, Discipline, Disobedience

Chapter 11[a]

Faith of the Ancients. Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence[b] of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,[c] so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. [d]By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.” Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. [e]But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. 11 By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. 12 So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

13 All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 14 for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” 19 [f]He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol. 20 By faith regarding things still to come Isaac[g] blessed Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and “bowed in worship, leaning on the top of his staff.” 22 By faith Joseph, near the end of his life, spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his bones.

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 [h]By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 he chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of the Anointed greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the recompense. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s fury, for he persevered as if seeing the one who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. 29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after being encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient, for she had received the spies in peace.

32 What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders.35 Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth.

39 Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. 40 God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.[i]

Footnotes:

  1. 11:1–40 This chapter draws upon the people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront it. These pages rank among the most eloquent and lofty to be found in the Bible. They expand the theme announced in Hb 6:12, to which the author now returns (Hb 10:39). The material of this chapter is developed chronologically. Hb 11:3–7 draw upon the first nine chapters of Genesis (Gn 1–9); Hb 11:8–22, upon the period of the patriarchs; Hb 11:23–31, upon the time of Moses; Hb 11:32–38, upon the history of the judges, the prophets, and the Maccabean martyrs. The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition. In view of the needs of his audience he describes what authentic faith does, not what it is in itself. Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass (Hb 11:1). Because they accepted in faith God’s guarantee of the future, the biblical personages discussed in Hb 11:3–38 were themselves commended by God (Hb 11:2). Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfillment of his messianic promises (Hb 11:39–40).
  2. 11:1 Faith is the realization…evidence: the author is not attempting a precise definition. There is dispute about the meaning of the Greek words hypostasis and elenchos, here translated realization and evidence, respectively. Hypostasis usually means “substance,” “being” (as translated in Hb 1:3), or “reality” (as translated in Hb 3:14); here it connotes something more subjective, and so realization has been chosen rather than “assurance” (RSV). Elenchos, usually “proof,” is used here in an objective sense and so translated evidence rather than the transferred sense of “(inner) conviction” (RSV).
  3. 11:3 By faith…God: this verse does not speak of the faith of the Old Testament men and women but is in the first person plural. Hence it seems out of place in the sequence of thought.
  4. 11:4 The “Praise of the Ancestors” in Sir 44:1–50:21 gives a similar list of heroes. The Cain and Abel narrative in Gn 4:1–16 does not mention Abel’s faith. It says, however, that God “looked with favor on Abel and his offering” (Gn 4:4); in view of Hb 11:6 the author probably understood God’s favor to have been activated by Abel’s faith. Though dead, he still speaks: possibly because his blood “cries out to me from the soil” (Gn 4:10), but more probably a way of saying that the repeated story of Abel provides ongoing witness to faith.
  5. 11:6 One must believe not only that God exists but that he is concerned about human conduct; the Old Testament defines folly as the denial of this truth; cf. Ps 52:2.
  6. 11:19 As a symbol: Isaac’s “return from death” is seen as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Others understand the words en parabolē to mean “in figure,” i.e., the word dead is used figuratively of Isaac, since he did not really die. But in the one other place that parabolē occurs in Hebrews, it means symbol (Hb 9:9).
  7. 11:20–22 Each of these three patriarchs, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, had faith in the future fulfillment of God’s promise and renewed this faith when near death.
  8. 11:24–27 The reason given for Moses’ departure from Egypt differs from the account in Ex 2:11–15. The author also gives a christological interpretation of his decision to share the trials of his people.
  9. 11:40 So that without us they should not be made perfect: the heroes of the Old Testament obtained their recompense only after the saving work of Christ had been accomplished. Thus they already enjoy what Christians who are still struggling do not yet possess in its fullness.

Hebrews 10 (TBRM Day 756)

Hebrews 10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 10

One Sacrifice Instead of Many. [a]Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come,[b] and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:[c]

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
    Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings,[d]you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 [e]Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;13 [f]now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.15 [g]The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

16 “This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord:
    ‘I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them upon their minds,’”

17 he also says:[h]

“Their sins and their evildoing
    I will remember no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Recalling the Past.[i] 19 Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary 20 [j]by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, 21 [k]and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,” 22 let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience[l] and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. 25 We should not stay away from our assembly,[m] as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

26 [n]If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who rejects the law of Moses[o] is put to death without pity on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Do you not think that a much worse punishment is due the one who has contempt for the Son of God, considers unclean the covenant-blood by which he was consecrated, and insults the spirit of grace? 30 We know the one who said:

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay,”

and again:

“The Lord will judge his people.”

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened,[p] you endured a great contest of suffering. 33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated. 34 You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. 36 You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

37 “For, after just a brief moment,[q]
    he who is to come shall come;
    he shall not delay.
38 But my just one shall live by faith,
    and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him.”

39 We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

Footnotes:

  1. 10:1–10 Christian faith now realizes that the Old Testament sacrifices did not effect the spiritual benefits to come but only prefigured them (Hb 10:1). For if the sacrifices had actually effected the forgiveness of sin, there would have been no reason for their constant repetition (Hb 10:2). They were rather a continual reminder of the people’s sins (Hb 10:3). It is not reasonable to suppose that human sins could be removed by the blood of animal sacrifices (Hb 10:4). Christ, therefore, is here shown to understand his mission in terms of Ps 40:6–8, cited according to the Septuagint (Hb 10:5–7). Jesus acknowledged that the Old Testament sacrifices did not remit the sins of the people and so, perceiving the will of God, offered his own body for this purpose (Hb 10:8–10).
  2. 10:1 A shadow of the good things to come: the term shadow was used in Hb 8:5 to signify the earthly counterpart of the Platonic heavenly reality. But here it means a prefiguration of what is to come in Christ, as it is used in the Pauline literature; cf. Col 2:17.
  3. 10:5–7 A passage from Ps 40:7–9 is placed in the mouth of the Son at his incarnation. As usual, the author follows the Septuagint text. There is a notable difference in Hb 10:5 (Ps 40:6), where the Masoretic text reads “ears you have dug for me” (“ears open to obedience you gave me,” NAB), but most Septuagint manuscripts have “a body you prepared for me,” a reading obviously more suited to the interpretation of Hebrews.
  4. 10:8 Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings: these four terms taken from the preceding passage of Ps 40 (with the first two changed to plural forms) are probably intended as equivalents to the four principal types of Old Testament sacrifices: peace offerings (Lv 3, here called sacrifices); cereal offerings (Lv 2, here called offerings); holocausts (Lv 1); and sin offerings (Lv 4–5). This last category includes the guilt offerings of Lv 5:14–19.
  5. 10:11–18 Whereas the levitical priesthood offered daily sacrifices that were ineffectual in remitting sin (Hb 10:11), Jesus offered a single sacrifice that won him a permanent place at God’s right hand. There he has only to await the final outcome of his work (Hb 10:12–13; cf. Ps 110:1). Thus he has brought into being in his own person the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 31:33–34) that has rendered meaningless all other offerings for sin (Hb 10:14–18).
  6. 10:13 Until his enemies are made his footstoolPs 110:1 is again used; the reference here is to the period of time between the enthronement of Jesus and his second coming. The identity of the enemies is not specified; cf. 1 Cor 15:25–27.
  7. 10:15–17 The testimony of the scriptures is now invoked to support what has just preceded. The passage cited is a portion of the new covenant prophecy of Jer 31:31–34, which the author previously used in Hb 8:8–12.
  8. 10:17 He also says: these words are not in the Greek text, which has only kai, “also,” but the expression “after saying” in Hb 10:15 seems to require such a phrase to divide the Jeremiah text into two sayings. Others understand “the Lord says” of Hb 10:16 (here rendered says the Lord) as outside the quotation and consider Hb 10:16b as part of the second saying. Two ancient versions and a number of minuscules introduce the words “then he said” or a similar expression at the beginning of Hb 10:17.
  9. 10:19–39 Practical consequences from these reflections on the priesthood and the sacrifice of Christ should make it clear that Christians may now have direct and confident access to God through the person of Jesus (Hb 10:19–20), who rules God’s house as high priest (Hb 10:21). They should approach God with sincerity and faith, in the knowledge that through baptism their sins have been remitted (Hb 10:22), reminding themselves of the hope they expressed in Christ at that event (Hb 10:23). They are to encourage one another to Christian love and activity (Hb 10:24), not refusing, no matter what the reason, to participate in the community’s assembly, especially in view of the parousia (Hb 10:25; cf. 1 Thes 4:13–18). If refusal to participate in the assembly indicates rejection of Christ, no sacrifice exists to obtain forgiveness for so great a sin (Hb 10:26); only the dreadful judgment of God remains (Hb 10:27). For if violation of the Mosaic law could be punished by death, how much worse will be the punishment of those who have turned their backs on Christ by despising his sacrifice and disregarding the gifts of the holy Spirit (Hb 10:28–29). Judgment belongs to the Lord, and he enacts it by his living presence (Hb 10:30–31). There was a time when the spirit of their community caused them to welcome and share their sufferings (Hb 10:32–34). To revitalize that spirit is to share in the courage of the Old Testament prophets (cf. Is 26:20Hb 2:3–4), the kind of courage that must distinguish the faith of the Christian (Hb 10:35–39).
  10. 10:20 Through the veil, that is, his flesh: the term flesh is used pejoratively. As the temple veil kept people from entering the Holy of Holies (it was rent at Christ’s death, Mk 15:38), so the flesh of Jesus constituted an obstacle to approaching God.
  11. 10:21 The house of God: this refers back to Hb 3:6, “we are his house.”
  12. 10:22 With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience: as in Hb 9:13 (see note there), the sprinkling motif refers to the Mosaic rite of cleansing from ritual impurity. This could produce only an external purification, whereas sprinkling with the blood of Christ (Hb 9:14) cleanses the conscienceWashed in pure water: baptism is elsewhere referred to as a washing; cf. 1 Cor 6:11Eph 5:26.
  13. 10:25 Our assembly: the liturgical assembly of the Christian community, probably for the celebration of the Eucharist. The day: this designation for the parousia also occurs in the Pauline letters, e.g., Rom 2:161 Cor 3:131 Thes 5:2.
  14. 10:26 If we sin deliberatelyverse 29 indicates that the author is here thinking of apostasy; cf. Hb 3:126:4–8.
  15. 10:28 Rejects the law of Moses: evidently not any sin against the law, but idolatry. Dt 17:2–7 prescribed capital punishment for idolaters who were convicted on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
  16. 10:32 After you had been enlightened: “enlightenment” is an ancient metaphor for baptism (cf. Eph 5:14Jn 9:11), but see Hb 6:4 and the note there.
  17. 10:37–38 In support of his argument, the author uses Hb 2:3–4 in a wording almost identical with the text of the Codex Alexandrinus of the Septuagint but with the first and second lines of Hb 10:4 inverted. He introduces it with a few words from Is 26:20after just a brief moment. Note the Pauline usage of Hb 2:4 in Rom 1:17Gal 3:11.

Hebrews 9 (TBRM Day 755)

Hebrews 9New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 9

The Worship of the First Covenant.[a] Now [even] the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was constructed, the outer one,[b] in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering; this is called the Holy Place. [c]Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies, in which were the gold altar of incense[d] and the ark of the covenant entirely covered with gold. In it were the gold jar containing the manna, the staff of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tablets of the covenant. [e]Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the place of expiation. Now is not the time to speak of these in detail.

With these arrangements for worship, the priests, in performing their service,[f] go into the outer tabernacle repeatedly, but the high priest alone goes into the inner one once a year, not without blood[g] that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people. In this way the holy Spirit shows that the way into the sanctuary had not yet been revealed while the outer tabernacle still had its place. This is a symbol of the present time,[h] in which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper in conscience 10 but only in matters of food and drink and various ritual washings: regulations concerning the flesh, imposed until the time of the new order.

Sacrifice of Jesus. 11 [i]But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be,[j] passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, 12 he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes[k] can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit[l] offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

15 [m]For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.16 [n]Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death; it has no force while the testator is alive. 18 Thus not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 [o]When every commandment had been proclaimed by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves [and goats], together with water and crimson wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is ‘the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined upon you.’” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled also the tabernacle[p] and all the vessels of worship with blood. 22 [q]According to the law almost everything is purified by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

23 [r]Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified by these rites, but the heavenly things themselves by better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. 25 Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; 26 if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages[s] to take away sin by his sacrifice.27 Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, 28 so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many,[t] will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Footnotes:

  1. 9:1–10 The regulations for worship under the old covenant permitted all the priests to enter the Holy Place (Hb 2:6), but only the high priest to enter the Holy of Holies and then only once a year (Hb 9:3–57). The description of the sanctuary and its furnishings is taken essentially from Ex 25–26. This exclusion of the people from the Holy of Holies signified that they were not allowed to stand in God’s presence (Hb 9:8) because their offerings and sacrifices, which were merely symbols of their need of spiritual renewal (Hb 9:10), could not obtain forgiveness of sins (Hb 9:9).
  2. 9:2 The outer one: the author speaks of the outer tabernacle (Hb 9:6) and the inner one(Hb 9:7) rather than of one Mosaic tabernacle divided into two parts or sections.
  3. 9:3 The second veil: what is meant is the veil that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. It is here called the second, because there was another veil at the entrance to the Holy Place, or “outer tabernacle” (Ex 26:36).
  4. 9:4 The gold altar of incenseEx 30:6 locates this altar in the Holy Place, i.e., the first tabernacle, rather than in the Holy of Holies. Neither is there any Old Testament support for the assertion that the jar of manna and the staff of Aaron were in the ark of the covenant. For the tablets of the covenant, see Ex 25:16.
  5. 9:5 The place of expiation: the gold “mercy seat” (Greek hilastērion, as in Rom 3:25), where the blood of the sacrificial animals was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (Lv 16:14–15). This rite achieved “expiation” or atonement for the sins of the preceding year.
  6. 9:6 In performing their service: the priestly services that had to be performed regularly in the Holy Place or outer tabernacle included burning incense on the incense altar twice each day (Ex 30:7), replacing the loaves on the table of the bread of offering once each week (Lv 24:8), and constantly caring for the lamps on the lampstand (Ex 27:21).
  7. 9:7 Not without blood: blood was essential to Old Testament sacrifice because it was believed that life was located in the blood. Hence blood was especially sacred, and its outpouring functioned as a meaningful symbol of cleansing from sin and reconciliation with God. Unlike Hebrews, the Old Testament never says that the blood is “offered.” The author is perhaps retrojecting into his description of Mosaic ritual a concept that belongs to the New Testament antitype, as Paul does when he speaks of the Israelites’ passage through the sea as a “baptism” (1 Cor 10:2).
  8. 9:9 The present time: this expression is equivalent to the “present age,” used in contradistinction to the “age to come.”
  9. 9:11–14 Christ, the high priest of the spiritual blessings foreshadowed in the Old Testament sanctuary, has actually entered the true sanctuary of heaven that is not of human making (Hb 9:11). His place there is permanent, and his offering is his own blood that won eternal redemption (Hb 9:12). If the sacrifice of animals could bestow legal purification (Hb 9:13), how much more effective is the blood of the sinless, divine Christ who spontaneously offered himself to purge the human race of sin and render it fit for the service of God (Hb 9:14).
  10. 9:11 The good things that have come to be: the majority of later manuscripts here read “the good things to come”; cf. Hb 10:1.
  11. 9:13 A heifer’s ashes: ashes from a red heifer that had been burned were mixed with water and used for the cleansing of those who had become ritually defiled by touching a corpse; see Nm 19:914–21.
  12. 9:14 Through the eternal spirit: this expression does not refer either to the holy Spirit or to the divine nature of Jesus but to the life of the risen Christ, “a life that cannot be destroyed” (Hb 7:16).
  13. 9:15–22 Jesus’ role as mediator of the new covenant is based upon his sacrificial death(cf. Hb 8:6). His death has effected deliverance from transgressions, i.e., deliverance from sins committed under the old covenant, which the Mosaic sacrifices were incapable of effacing. Until this happened, the eternal inheritance promised by God could not be obtained (Hb 9:15). This effect of his work follows the human pattern by which a last will and testament becomes effective only with the death of the testator (Hb 9:16–17). The Mosaic covenant was also associated with death, for Moses made use of blood to seal the pact between God and the people (Hb 9:18–21). In Old Testament tradition, guilt could normally not be remitted without the use of blood (Hb 9:22; cf. Lv 17:11).
  14. 9:16–17 A will…death of the testator: the same Greek word diathēkē, meaning “covenant” in Hb 9:1518, is used here with the meaning will. The new covenant, unlike the old, is at the same time a will that requires the death of the testator. Jesus as eternal Son is the one who established the new covenant together with his Father, author of both covenants; at the same time he is the testator whose death puts his will into effect.
  15. 9:19–20 A number of details here are different from the description of this covenant rite in Ex 24:5–8. Exodus mentions only calves (“young bulls,” NAB), not goats (but this addition in Hebrews is of doubtful authenticity), says nothing of the use of water and crimson wool and hyssop (these features probably came from a different rite; cf. Lv 14:3–7Nm 19:6–18), and describes Moses as splashing blood on the altar, whereas Hebrews says he sprinkled it on the book (but both book and altar are meant to symbolize the agreement of God). The words of Moses are also slightly different from those in Exodus and are closer to the words of Jesus at the Last Supper in Mk 14:24 // Mt 26:28.
  16. 9:21 According to Exodus, the tabernacle did not yet exist at the time of the covenant rite. Moreover, nothing is said of sprinkling it with blood at its subsequent dedication (Ex 40:9–11).
  17. 9:22 Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness: in fact, ancient Israel did envisage other means of obtaining forgiveness; the Old Testament mentions contrition of heart (Ps 51:17), fasting (Jl 2:12), and almsgiving (Sir 3:29). The author is limiting his horizon to the sacrificial cult, which did always involve the shedding of blood for its expiatory and unitive value.
  18. 9:23–28 Since the blood of animals became a cleansing symbol among Old Testament prefigurements, it was necessary that the realities foreshadowed be brought into being by a shedding of blood that was infinitely more effective by reason of its worth (Hb 9:23). Christ did not simply prefigure the heavenly realities (Hb 9:24) by performing an annual sacrifice with a blood not his own (Hb 9:25); he offered the single sacrifice of himself as the final annulment of sin (Hb 9:26). Just as death is the unrepeatable act that ends a person’s life, so Christ’s offering of himself for all is the unrepeatable sacrifice that has once for all achieved redemption (Hb 9:27–28).
  19. 9:26 At the end of the ages: the use of expressions such as this shows that the author of Hebrews, despite his interest in the Platonic concept of an eternal world above superior to temporal reality here below, nevertheless still clings to the Jewish Christian eschatology with its sequence of “the present age” and “the age to come.”
  20. 9:28 To take away the sins of many: the reference is to Is 53:12. Since the Greek verb anapherō can mean both “to take away” and “to bear,” the author no doubt intended to play upon both senses: Jesus took away sin by bearing it himself. See the similar wordplay in Jn 1:29Many is used in the Semitic meaning of “all” in the inclusive sense, as in Mk 14:24To those who eagerly await him: Jesus will appear a second time at the parousia, as the high priest reappeared on the Day of Atonement, emerging from the Holy of Holies, which he had entered to take away sin. This dramatic scene is described in Sir 50:5–11.

Hebrews 8 (TBRM Day 754)

Hebrews 8 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 8

Heavenly Priesthood of Jesus.[a] The main point of what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary[b] and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer. If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest, since there are those who offer gifts according to the law. They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.

Old and New Covenants.[c] For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one. But he finds fault with them and says:[d]

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
    when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
    the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they did not stand by my covenant
    and I ignored them, says the Lord.
10 But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds
    and I will write them upon their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen
    and kinsman, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for all shall know me,
    from least to greatest.
12 For I will forgive their evildoing
    and remember their sins no more.”

13 [e]When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.

Footnotes:

  1. 8:1–6 The Christian community has in Jesus the kind of high priest described in Hb 7:26–28. In virtue of his ascension Jesus has taken his place at God’s right hand in accordance with Ps 110:1 (Hb 8:1), where he presides over the heavenly sanctuary established by God himself (Hb 8:2). Like every high priest, he has his offering to make (Hb 8:3; cf. Hb 9:1214), but it differs from that of the levitical priesthood in which he had no share (Hb 8:4) and which was in any case but a shadowy reflection of the true offering in the heavenly sanctuary (Hb 8:5). But Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is that of mediator of a superior covenant that accomplishes what it signifies (Hb 8:6).
  2. 8:2 The sanctuary: the Greek term could also mean “holy things” but bears the meaning “sanctuary” elsewhere in Hebrews (Hb 9:812242510:1913:11). The true tabernacle: the heavenly tabernacle that the Lord…set up is contrasted with the earthly tabernacle that Moses set up in the desert. True means “real” in contradistinction to a mere “copy and shadow” (Hb 8:5); compare the Johannine usage (e.g., Jn 1:96:3215:1). The idea that the earthly sanctuary is a reflection of a heavenly model may be based upon Ex 25:9, but probably also derives from the Platonic concept of a real world of which our observable world is merely a shadow.
  3. 8:7–13 Since the first covenant was deficient in accomplishing what it signified, it had to be replaced (Hb 8:7), as Jeremiah (Jer 31:31–34) had prophesied (Hb 8:8–12). Even in the time of Jeremiah, the first covenant was antiquated (Hb 8:13). In Hb 7:22–24, the superiority of the new covenant was seen in the permanence of its priesthood; here the superiority is based on better promises, made explicit in the citation of Jer 31:31–34 (LXX: 38), namely, in the immediacy of the people’s knowledge of God (Hb 8:11) and in the forgiveness of sin (Hb 8:12).
  4. 8:8–12 In citing Jeremiah the author follows the Septuagint; some apparent departures from it may be the result of a different Septuagintal text rather than changes deliberately introduced.
  5. 8:13 Close to disappearing: from the prophet’s perspective, not that of the author of Hebrews.