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Hebrews Use of the Old Testament

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Liberty University

The Book of Hebrew’s Use of the Old Testament To Preach the Gospel

A paper submitted to Dr. Adeyemi

In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for

the course NBST 654

Liberty Theological seminary


Christopher W. Myers


Lynchburg, Virginia

Sunday, 07 December, 2008

Table of Contents

Introduction- 3

The Center of the Gospel is the Person Jesus Christ- 4

The Use of Psalms for the Christology of Hebrews- 4

The Angelology of the Old Testament in Hebrews- 6

The Center of the Gospel in the Shadows of Old Testament Narrative- 7

The Prophet Jesus Greater than the Prophet Moses- 8

The Motif of Entering God’s Rest- 9

The Center of the Gospel in the Accomplished Work of Christ- 11

The Old Testament Priesthood and Christ’s Priesthood in Hebrews- 11

The New Covenant in Hebrews- 14

The Old Testament Types Shadowing the Heavenly Realities- 15

The Gospel Call- 17

Conclusion- 18

Bibliography- 19


       The Book of Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament can span a very broad spectrum of study.  It can encompass textual criticism in order to decipher whether the LXX or the Masoretic MSS are more original.  It can encompass a theological study of how the author of Hebrews uses the theology of the Old Testament to construct his New Testament theology.  It can encompass a study of the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.  And so varied are the scholars on the exact number of the OT uses in Hebrews[1] that it seemed fitting to limit this study to Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament in fulfilling his general, Christ-centered thesis.

       The author of Hebrews, most generally, used Old Testament scripture in order to exegete the person and supremacy of Jesus Christ and his work over all things,[2] all the while exhorting his subjects to perseverance in the faith of the gospel as application of his exegesis.[3]  This is why the book of Hebrews is often typified as a sermon and the author termed “the preacher.”[4]

       The book of Hebrews uses the Old Testament more than any other New Testament book, except Revelation.  The preacher of Hebrews depends most heavily upon the Psalms, but makes exceptional use of the Pentateuch and the Prophets.[5]  The intention here is to graze the immensity of the preacher’s use of the Old Testament making sure to discuss those major themes and uses of the Old Testament that enlarge how the Old Testament presents the gospel.  The major OT themes and uses that will be the focus here will consist of seven main heads: the use of Psalms for the author’s Christology, the Angelology of the OT in Hebrews, Jesus and Moses in Hebrews, the motif of OT rest in Hebrews, the OT High Priest motif in Hebrews, the New Covenant in Hebrews, and the tabernacle and sacrifices of the OT in Hebrews.

The Center of the Gospel is the Person Jesus Christ

       Hebrews centers his message on Christ from beginning to end.  In the beginning of the epistle the writer lays out seven facts about the Son of God.  First, God has appointed him heir of all things.  Second, it was through him that God made the universe.  Thirdly, he is the radiance of the glory of God.  Fourth, he is the exact imprint of God’s nature.  Fifth, he upholds the universe with the power of his word.  Sixth, he has made purification for our sins.  And seventh, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.[6]  This is then followed by seven quotations from Scripture, namely, Psalm 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 104:4 (103:4 LXX), Psalm 45:6-7, Psalm 102:25-27, and Psalm 110:1.  The theological use of each of the Psalmist quotations must be explored; five observations are in order.

The Use of Psalms for the Christology of Hebrews

       First, Psalm 2:7 is used by the author to exalt the person of Jesus as the Son of God, Guthrie calls this exaltation theology.[7]  The historical use and context of Psalm 2:7 are important.  It is thought to be a coronation Psalm; that recited upon a king’s induction into his royal position.  Therefore, the same is to be understood of Jesus when his person is applied to this Psalm and it says “today” he is “begotten.”  This is not referring to his creation, but rather to his coronation.  And therefore, this lines up nicely with the author’s insistence on the eternal Son being humbled and then exalted to the right hand of God.[8] 

       Second and third, Psalm 104:4 is used in contrast to Psalm 45:6-7.  In Psalm 104:4, the emphasis is on the fact that the angels are made and the angels are ministers.  This is in stark contrast to the Son, who is not created, but God himself; angels are ministers and the Son is their Lord.  There is no doubt that the author of Hebrews understands Psalm 45 to be Messianic and also to proclaim the Messiah to be God himself, but more in view is the eternal reign of the Son, which is set forth in the Psalm more specifically.  Theologically, the use of the Old Testament Psalm here is vastly important to establishing the doctrine of the eternality of the Son.  Since the Son’s reign is “forever and ever”, so must the Son be.  Indeed the author of Hebrews is going to ground this theologically throughout the rest of his epistle by showing the eternality of Christ’s priesthood, and hence, his sacrifice once and for all, and so also his work as advocate and mediator between God and man.[9]      

       Fourthly, Psalm 102:25-27 is used concurrently with Psalm 45:6-7; both being used to show the superiority of Christ over the angels by proclaiming the Son to be the eternal exalted and reigning Lord.  Psalm 102:25-27 with this in common with Psalm 45, however, also has a distinctness for which the author of Hebrews is using for his theology.  Namely, where Psalm 45 focused on the Son as the eternal Messianic ruler, Psalm 102 focuses on the eternal Lordship of the Son in relation to his role in creation as both the creator and the consummator of creation; although the creation has a beginning and an end, the Son has no beginning and no end.[10]     

       Lastly, Psalm 110:1 is used to finish off the chain of seven quotations from Scripture.  Psalm 110 is the most quoted OT passage in the New Testament.[11]  This passage is dynamic because the author of Hebrews uses it as a transition moving his discussion from heavenly to earthly and therefore introduces the discussion in chapter two of the Son’s incarnation.  Also, this quotation of Psalm 110 stands alone and is not paired with any other quote and therefore is climatic, in that it summarizes the superiority of the Son over the angels by exalting the Son heavenly at God’s right hand, while at the same time on earth conquering all enemies of the enthroned King on high.[12]  

The Angelology of the Old Testament in Hebrews

       The author to the Hebrews in his main aim to show the supremacy of Christ and his resultant centrality in the gospel of grace reveals much concerning Old Testament Angelology.  Already in the author’s proclamation of the Son of God as superior to the angels, he has revealed that angels are ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation (1:14) and God makes angels winds and a flame of fire (1:7).  But into the second chapter of the epistle there is further illumination concerning the Angelology of the Old Testament, which will be covered in two points.  First, the preacher utilizes an ancient rabbinic homiletic arguing from lesser to greater; in chapter two, verse two, the Law of Moses is said to be ‘declared by angels’ and so then how much more will man be held accountable to the Law of Christ, since its declaration is by such a greater being.  This is building off his previous argument and at the same time transitioning into his discussion on the incarnation.  But what must be focused upon is that the Law was indeed declared to men by angels.  This is only alluded to in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 33:2,[13] but has heavier emphasis in intertestamental literature and the New Testament itself.[14]     

       Secondly, in chapter two, verse five, the author of Hebrews reveals also that the past world was subjected to angels.  This is based on the LXX reading of Deuteronomy 32:8 where the nations are divided according to the number of the sons of God, while Israel is kept as God’s own possession.  Therefore, we have the Gentile nations being given over to the sons of God, while the people of Abraham are kept for God’s own purpose and administration.  This reading of Deuteronomy 32:8 is further confirmed in light of Daniel 10:20-21 and 12:1 where Michael is the great prince over Israel in contrast to the angelic prince of Persia and prince of Greece.  These may be the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness spoken of by Paul (Ephesians 6:20).[15]  This Old Testament Angelology puts the cosmic perspective back into the Bible that has been torn out by many enlightenment intellectuals.  

      Of course, this Angelology of the Old Testament is not the main focus, but Christ is and the author of Hebrews is using this Angelology to show Christ’s superiority and to show that everything has been subjected to him.  According to Old Testament Angelology, if Christ can be shown to be superior over the angels, then everything that has been subjected to the angels must also be subjected to Christ, so Christ has the whole world in subjection to himself.  According to Old Testament Angelology, if the angels proclaimed the Law of God in the old covenant and that law required just retribution, then how much more will the Law of God proclaimed by the eternal Son of God require even a greater retribution?

The Center of the Gospel in the Shadows of Old Testament Narrative

       The writer to the Hebrews has shown Christ to be the center of the gospel.  He is the Son of God.  He is superior to angels and therefore rules over all things at the right hand of the Father.  Now this Son of God has taken on flesh and blood to be like his brothers who he came into the world to save.  Now the preacher has set the stage to talk about the very heart of the gospel; Jesus’ office of a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of his people (2:17).  However, before the writer takes this up he must show Jesus’ superiority to Moses and provide a gospel analogy using the Old Testament narrative of Egypt, Moses, the Wilderness, and the Promise Land of rest.  First, an examination of the writer’s use of Moses in his presentation is in order, and then the OT gospel analogy can be discerned.

       The Prophet Jesus Greater than the Prophet Moses

       The redemptive work of Christ, the heart of the gospel, has primitively been interpreted as a new Exodus.[16]  Indeed, this is the task set before this writer to the Hebrews to show the work of Christ in light of the Old Testament shadows.  He sets out to do this first by showing the similarities between Jesus and Moses, namely, they were both faithful to their God (3:2).  Then, he immediately shows forth their main differences being twofold, first, Jesus is counted of more glory than Moses because Jesus created the universe (1:2) and that means he created Moses (3:3b-4). Secondly, Moses was faithful over God’s house[17] as a servant, but Jesus was faithful over God’s house as a son (3:6).  The writer to the Hebrews uses the topic of Moses to transition into the faithful work of Moses in the Old Testament and show forth the gospel of Christ through its shadows.  He does this primarily through the exposition of Psalm 95:7-11 cited in Hebrews 3:7-11, 15; 4:3, 5, 7.

The Motif of Entering God’s Rest

       Along with the rest of the New Testament, the writer to the Hebrews uses a typological interpretation of Old Testament Narrative in order to show forth the larger realities that point from those narratives forward to the work of Christ.  Jesus’ death is the new exodus; Jesus is the paschal lamb without blemish or spot; Israel’s passage through the Red Sea is likened to Christian baptism, Israel’s nourishment from the manna and water of the rock is like feeding on Christ, the True Bread, the Rock, and the Living Water; the Christian journey is typified in the wilderness wandering where Christ is their guide by day and night; and the land of Canaan is the promised land of rest that the Christian must enter.[18]  The wilderness wandering and the promised land of rest is what the writer to the Hebrews is directly concerned when he exegetes Psalm 95:7-11.

       The warning that prompts the quotation of Psalm 95 is explicit in 3:12, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”[19]  The constant daily Christian battle is not with flesh and blood, but with his own evil, unbelieving heart.  Therefore, the Old Testament shows forth this truth constantly from the Pentateuch to the Prophets. 

       The writer to the Hebrews chooses this Psalm over the actual narrative account in Numbers for two main reasons.  First, this Psalm proves that there is yet a rest to be entered into because generations after Joshua had led God’s people into the promised land of rest, David wrote this Psalm heralding that “today” rest can be entered into and so do not harden your hearts.[20]  Secondly, the writer to the Hebrew enacts a Biblical worldview of absolute fear of the holiness of God by warning them further, “let us fear” (4:1).  He is able to do this because of the solemn words of God through David, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”  Indeed, Hebrews quotes this twice to stress not only the need for the fear of God, but also that there remains an entering of God’s rest by obedience to the good news, which is faith.[21]    

     Hebrews also incorporates Genesis 2:2 into this discourse on rest in order to make the exegetical connection between the rest of the Promised Land and the Sabbath Rest and that the latter is the foundation of the former.  The writer to the Hebrews reads the Old Testament with a specificity that is unparalleled.  He notices that in Psalm 95 the Holy Spirit says “my rest,” namely; the rest of God, which is the main cause and related to the rest that can be grasped by the creature.  Since God rested from his works of creation because of their perfect completeness, so can man enter in and participate in that rest by being the completed work of God, which comes by faith, which is the obedience to the voice of God when he is heard calling by the living Word of God.  God designed and blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it in order to proclaim to his creation that it is their duty to make God their rest by faith, which is in obedience to his calling and living Word.[22]

       Guthrie complains that much ink has been spilled to attempt to explain what exactly the writer means by rest.[23]  After surveying the proposed explanations, he concludes with a George E. Ladd-already-and-not-yet theological conclusion.  This is a conclusion that can definitely be drawn from the theological thrust of the New Testament.  The salvation process can be explained as a present reality, an on-going reality, and a future reality, namely, justification, sanctification, and glorification.  The rest of God is also tightly paralleled to this explanation; namely, rest in God is inaugurated by Christ’s death, preserved by the power of the Holy Spirit, and consummated by the resurrecting power of the Father through the Son by His Spirit.[24]    

The Center of the Gospel in the Accomplished Work of Christ

       The writer to the Hebrews articulates the gospel by shining light on the shadows of Old Testament characters and narratives such as Moses and the wilderness-wandering Hebrews, however, he will not stop at that.  The author will continue to cast light on these shadows as he explains the Levitical priesthood, its sacrifices and house of worship, Melchizadek, and the elements of the prophetic New Covenant all in light of Christ and his work which inaugurated the eternal rest to be obtained by His people.  And so, now that the writer has established that there is a rest remaining for God’s people, now he must explain how that rest is made sure by the Son of God, which is the heart of his discourse, which he has been aiming at, which he made clear to his readers in Hebrews 2:17 and 3:1.  Truly, the discourse on the Priestly office of Jesus Christ will dominate his discussion from 4:14 to the end of chapter 10.  It is to this endeavor that words are now in order.  

The Old Testament Priesthood and Christ’s Priesthood in Hebrews

       Though this paper has not been outlined to show the structural significance of Psalm 110 in the author of Hebrews thought, suffice it to say that the author’s exposition of Psalm 110 is what is driving the structure of his discourse on Jesus as the Great High Priest.  Hebrews 4:14-5:10 is a discussion of Christ’s qualification to be High Priest, which he uses Psalm 2 and Psalm 110:4 to establish.  He had already used these same texts to establish the divine sonship of Christ and now the same verses establish Christ’s divine Priestly office. Hebrews 6:13-7:28 is the exposition and exegetical understanding of Psalm 110:4 where the author will argue Christ’s priestly and kingly office after the order of Melchizadek and he then goes on to compare the Levitical Priesthood to that of Christ’s and how Christ’s order wields inherent superiority.[25]

       Important to this discussion, however, is how the author is using the Old Testament to shape his gospel message regarding Christ Jesus and his accomplished works. The author uses two general qualifications met by the Aaronic high priests and shows how Jesus also fulfilled those requirements (5:1–10). The two qualifications are first, giving the priest ability to sympathize with those for whom He offers sacrifice, and secondly, a divine appointment to minister in this way in things pertaining to God. The author also shows that Old Testament priests were not self-appointed but were called to their service by God (vv. 1, 4–6), Jesus did not exalt Himself but was designated as High Priest by God’s appointment, as expressed in the words of Psalm 110:4, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”[26]

       After Hebrews’ parenthesis warning against apostasy (5:11-6:12), the author is going to return to his reflections on Psalm 110:4 and consider: what did it mean for the old covenant and its priesthood that the Son was a Priest of a different order, not based on human descent but on the power of an indestructible life and God’s oath of appointment? What does it mean for the Christian life that believers have such a High Priest?[27]  The author’s contemplations on God’s oath of appointment seen in Psalm 110:4 is the reason that the author brings Genesis 22 into his discussion where the oath of God is recorded to Abraham.

       Hebrews is using the Old Testament here to show three things about God to drive home encouragement for his hearers.  First, God is eternal and therefore so must his sworn word be.  When God promised Abraham, he did so by swearing by himself, since there is nothing greater to swear by.  Secondly, God cannot lie.  So if God makes a promise, then it must come to pass in order for God to be God.  And thirdly, God is unchangeable.  And so, when God has determined in his eternal plan for a promise to come to commencement, then it shall surely come to pass or God’s plan would be changeable and that would make God changeable, but such is not possible if God is truly the one true immutable God.  Abraham by faith knew all of these things and so the author uses him here to encourage his hearers to hold fast the hope set before them.  Hebrews will use Abram again in chapter eleven in his hall of fame containing God’s faithful saints of old.[28]

         Then in chapter seven of Hebrews, the author uses Genesis 14 and the character introduced there, namely, the Priest-King Melchizadek to explain the sense of Psalm 110:4.  In the author’s exposition he makes three observations.  First, Melchizadek is shown to be priest of God Most High and king of Salem (Genesis 14:18).  In the Jewish religion these two offices were separate, however, Melchizadek held both offices at once. Secondly, Melchizadek is without genealogy and beginning or end; the text is clearly silent on these matters.  And the writer to the Hebrews sees in this silence a type of the Christ in light of Psalm 110:4.  This point shows explicitly how high a view of Scripture this writer had.  The author must have believed in the providential, infallible, and inspirational content of Scripture by God himself in order to make this point from silence.  The author understood that God is revealing his mysteries through the written words of Scripture and therefore every detail is a clue to unlocking these mysteries of divinity.  Thirdly, in expositing Genesis 14, the author sees a superiority of the Melchizadek order to the Levitical order, which eventually came through Abraham.  His superiority is seen in the fact that Melchizadek blessed Abram and also Abram gave a tenth of everything to Melchizadek.[29]

       After the author had established the superiority of Christ’s Priest-King Melchizadek order to the Law’s Levitical order this fleshed out numerous theological ramifications for Jesus’ service as a Melchizadekan Priest, which the author will briefly mention in Hebrews 7:11-28.  It must be noticed that the author is still drawing his contemplations from Psalm 110:4 and that his words in Hebrews 7:11-28 are a summary of the content that he will elaborate more on in the coming chapters.[30]

       In Hebrews 7:11-28 the author uses his exposition of Psalm 110:4 to establish that this priest-king has become what he is by the power of his resurrection and by the solemn decreed oath of God.  From this he reveals his main thesis of his discourse in chapter eight, “this makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” (7:22).  It is to this discourse that inquiry must find Hebrews use of the Old Testament in understanding how the author is centering the gospel upon the works of Christ in inaugurating the new and better covenant promised by the prophets.

The New Covenant in Hebrews

      The whole aim of chapter eight in Hebrews is to show that the Old Covenant has testified of itself that it is temporary and looks forward to a “new” covenant.  The writer accomplishes this by using two powerful quotations from the Old Testament.  First is Exodus 25:40, which is definitively used to show that the whole Mosaic Covenant was designed by God to be a pattern, a copy, and a shadow of heavenly things.[31]  And so the author is clear that this is why Jesus ascended to the Father because he serves the true priesthood before the true presence of God in heaven, which the earthly Levitical priesthood and Mosaic covenant were only shadowing (8:4-5).

       Secondly, the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, the longest Old Testament quotation in the New Testament.  The exposition of this long quotation is surprisingly brief.  The author only takes up the word “new” and shows that if in the Old Covenant the prophets looked forward to a new one, then the first one must be imperfect and eventually become obsolete after the new has come.  The writer to the Hebrews does no exegesis for his hearers to discern continuities and discontinuities regarding the two covenants, rather he just allows Jeremiah 31 to speak for itself.  Instead, the writer is quick to pick up his point in quoting Exodus 25:40 to continue into chapter nine to discern exactly what earthly types were patterned after the heavenly realities and how Christ has taken up a ministry of the heavenly realities and not merely the temporary earthly types and patterns.[32]                  

The Old Testament Types Shadowing the Heavenly Realities

       The opening of chapter nine describes the arrangement of the Old Testament tabernacle and its Holy Place and its Holy of Holies according to Exodus 25-26, 30, and 37 and how the High Priest enters in once a year to the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement to make an offering for his sins and the sins of the people (Leviticus 16). The author uses the Old Testament shadows of the earthly tabernacle and the High Priestly offerings at the Day of Atonement in order to show what the Holy Spirit was indicating by these things.  The Holy Spirit by instituting these ordinances in the first covenant was indicating that the way for approaching God has not yet been opened for his people, since they still need an earthly High Priest to approach God for them.  The reason that God’s people could not approach him is because the earthly “regulations for the body” (9:10) could not produce a purified conscience before God.[33]

       Again, the writer uses a midrashic argument from lesser to greater to explain how the new covenant is able to cleanse the conscience and make the people of God able to be a kingdom of priests.  The basic use of the Old Testament here is to show how in the first covenant the sprinkling of the blood of animals purifies the flesh, so then how much more will the sprinkling of the blood of the Son of God purify the conscience.  This importance upon the blood of the new covenant, namely the blood of Christ, will be summed up starting with 9:18 as indicated by the “therefore.”[34] 

       The author uses Exodus 24:8 to summarize how every covenant is inaugurated with blood, even the old covenant was.  In Exodus 24:8, Moses sprinkles blood upon the Israelites saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.”  And Moses not only sprinkled blood upon the people, but upon the vessels and the tent of worship.  The author is using the Old Testament to show his audience that without the shedding of blood there is no purification of conscience or forgiveness of sins.  Furthermore, Hebrews is arguing that if mere copies of the heavenly things required such blood shedding, then how much more will the actual heavenly things before the Father require so much a greater sacrifice of blood?  This is a fine transition for the author to start arguing for the Christ and his sacrifice in the new covenant to be that greater sacrifice; he does this in chapter 10.[35]

       Chapter ten of the epistle is the great climax of Christ’s work of propitiation as the central work in the Good News.  Since the author has established the inherent inadequacy of the first covenant as proclaimed and designed by the Holy Spirit and so he must reinforce this in the first verses of the chapter.  He emphasizes the inadequacy of the old covenant order to make those perfect who draw near (10:1).  Instead, the Holy Spirit has designed the sacrifices in such a way that they remind people of their sin, since they have to be repeated continuously.  And so they look forward to that sacrifice that is once and for all.  The finality and once-and-for-all of Christ’s sacrifice is the focus of the discussion.  In expositing this finale of the gospel in the works of Christ Hebrews uses Psalm 40:6-8, Psalm 110:1 again, and Jeremiah 31 again.[36]  

      Psalm 40:6-8 is used and understood as a Messianic Psalm, which the author appropriates to the incarnate Jesus directly (10:5).  This is significant because this also underpins the author’s theological use here, which can be summarized under three heads.  First, the use of the Psalm shows the acknowledgment of the Son of God that the Father is displeased with the sacrifices of the first covenant.  And so secondly, it also shows that the Father has decreed the second covenant, which is his will for the Son to accomplish.  Lastly, the Father’s will is the Son’s will and the Son has freely offered himself so that we can be sanctified through His blood sacrifice according to the will of His Father.  Summarily, Psalm 40 is used to point to the discontinuity of the covenants and so it reviews the truths that Hebrews considered in chapter eight.  And also it points to the sacrifice of the Son as the Father’s ultimate desire, and so with the conclusions already reached through chapter nine of his discourse, the author solemnly concludes, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (10:14).  But with that conclusion he strategically uses Psalm 110:1 again as he did in the beginning of the epistle to enact his exaltation theology of the Son in order to let his hearers know that he Son’s sacrifice is climatic and decisive because he has been exalted to glory with all majesty from on high.[37]         

The Gospel Call

       The “therefore” of 10:19 tell the hearers that the following gospel call is based upon the evidence already argued for, namely, that we have such a high priest who has entered the real presence of God in heavenly places and has sacrificed his perfect, all-sufficient body and blood for the propitiation of sins; this is the center of the gospel in the works of Christ Jesus.  And so the gospel call is thus summarized “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (10:22).  And in order to speak to all of his hearers he also exhorts those who already hold to the confession of faith to persevere, “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (10:23).  Notice that this writer to the Hebrews places his assurance of salvation in God and God alone.  He did not say, “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for the act of confession is faithful,” but he said “for he  who promised [God] is faithful.”[38]  It is God alone who Christians must depend on for eternal security.  And then also the writer to the Hebrews, although he totally understands God to be the cause of our perseverance, he also exhorts the entire congregation as part of this divine process of preservation, for he exhorts them, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:24-25).  


       The writer to the Hebrews will expand on his gospel call by emphasizing the important of faith by using the faith of Old Testament saints as models.  He does his in chapter eleven, and then in chapters 12 and 13 the gospel and its required faith are applied to the Christian life.  Christian life needs to be moved by faith in the gospel, and that aim finishes the epistle. 

       This paper has been structured to show how the author of Hebrews has preached the gospel by using the Old Testament as his foundation.  The writer starts with the person of Jesus Christ and established his sonship and deity, his pre-existence, and his superiority and dominion over all things.  Like layers of brick and mortar, the writer to the Hebrews stacks these arguments one upon another.  The next building movement is to show the Old Testament order to be but shadows of Christ and he expounds the beautiful fulfillment of the Old Testament patterns and types in the person Jesus.  And the preacher effectively shows how the many recordings in the Old Testament directly foreshadow the present realities because of how all the promises of God are yes in Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son.  Then, the climatic layer deals with the works of Christ and it is shown that the very essence of the gospel is the accomplished work of Christ in fulfilling his superior heavenly high priestly office by the shedding of his own blood.  The blood of King Jesus is the blood of the New Covenant and it is effectual for the propitiation of the sin of many sinners, yet the sacrifice is sufficient for the sins of the entire world.  And this leads him to his gospel call and his emphasis and discussion on faith. Clearly, this is one of the most magnificent epistles in the New Testament because of its immense detail of how to articulate and preach the gospel by using the Old Testament as the foundation stone.     


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       New Testament (NICNT).  Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990.

Buchanan, George Wesley.  To the Hebrews.  Anchor Bible Commentary: Volume 36.  New

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Ellingworth, Paul.  The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New

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______________. and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews. UBS

       handbook series; Helps for translators. New York: United Bible Societies, 1994], c1983.

Fanning, Buist M.  A Theology of Hebrews.”  A Biblical Theology of the New Testament. 


       Editor: Roy B. Zuck, Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.

Guthrie, George H.  “Hebrews” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.


       Editors: Beale G.K. and Carson, D.A., Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

_____________.  The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.

Owen, John.  An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Works of John Owen, Volume

       XX., Editor: William H. Goold; Carlisile: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991.

_________.  An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Works of John Owen, Volume

       XXI., Editor: William H. Goold; Carlisile: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991.

_________.  An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Works of John Owen, Volume

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Spence, H.D.M.  The Pulpit Commentary: Hebrews.  Bellingham, WA : Logos Research

       Systems, Inc., 2004.    


       [1] Guthrie, George H.  “Hebrews” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.  Editors: Beale G.K. and Carson, D.A., (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) 919, Guthrie cites 37 quotations, but he admits that Spicq cites 36, Westcott and Caird cite 29, and Bratcher cites 40!


      [2] His divine nature and the finality of the gospel in the Son (chapter 1:1-4), his supremacy over angels (1:5-14), the human nature of the Son and its consequences (chapter 2), his supremacy over Moses and its consequences (chapter 3), his supremacy as king and high priest (chapters 4:14-7:28), the supremacy of his Covenant (chapter 8), the supremacy of his sacrifice and his mediator-office and its implications for the Christian (chapter 9-10), the faith of the OT saints (chapter 11) and Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith and its application to the Christian (chapter 12), and finally an exhortation for true Christian sacrifice finishes the discourse (chapter 13).

      [3] Bruce, 29

      [4]Guthrie, George H.  The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 24-30.

      [5]Ibid, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 921.

       [6]Bruce, 46-50

       [7]Guthrie, NT use of the OT, 927

       [8]Ibid. 928

       [9]Ibid. 937-939

       [10]Ibid 940-941

       [11] 5 of the 22 occurrences appear in Hebrews, Ibid. 943

      [12]Ibid. 943-944

      [13]Bruce, 67

      [14]Galatians 3:19, Acts 7:53.

       [15]Bruce, 71; Guthrie NIV commentary, 97

       [16]Bruce, 96; Indeed, the “second” εξοδος is exactly what Jesus was talking about with Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. 

       [17]Alluding to Numbers 12:7; Spence, H.D.M.  The Pulpit Commentary: Hebrews.  (Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), 85.   

       [18] Bruce, 97 especially notes 35-46.


       [20]Ellingworth, 240

       [21]Owen, volume XX, 304-305

       [22] Ibid. 273-277

       [23]Guthrie, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 958-959

       [24]Owen, 278-296

       [25]Fanning, 390

       [26]Buchanan, xix

       [27]Fanning, 389

       [28]Guthrie, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 966

       [29]Fanning, 391

       [30]Owen, Volume XXI, 393-450 

       [31]Guthrie, NT Use of the OT, 968-970

       [32]Fanning, 400

       [33]Owen, Volume XXII, 234-258

       [34]Ellingworth, NIGTC, 453

       [35]Ellingworth, A Handbook, 196

       [36]Bruce, 234-243

       [37]Guthrie, 975-978

      [38]Emphasis mine

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