9. The Parts of the Epistle are three: I. An Exhortation to the Hebrews, that they religiously attend upon Christ, the great Prophet, in whom the Father has spoken in the last days (Hebrews 1:1-4:13). II. An Exhortation to the same, that, with the servitude of the law laid aside, they trust in Christ alone, the High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-10:23). III. Their Exhortation to faith, hope, patience, holiness (Hebrews 10:24-13:25). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
There are three parts to this Most Divine Epistle. For, first, Saint Paul exhorts the Hebrews to attend upon Christ, the Son of God and of man, and the great Prophet speaking and teaching, and to obey Him religiously (Hebrews 1:1-4:13). Second, he exhorts the same to retain their confession and faith in Jesus Christ, the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-10:23). Third, he applies to preceding doctrine to practice, and excites the Hebrews to patience, faith, hope, holiness, and other virtues (Hebrews 10:24-13:25).
I. An Exhortation of Saint Paul to the Hebrews, religiously to attend upon Christ, the Son of God and of man, the great Prophet, in whom the Father has spoken in the last days, Chapters 1:1-4:14. In which:
1. He teaches that the Son of God alone is to be heard, because in Him, the heir of all things, the creator of the Ages, the brightness of the glory of the Father, purging us through Himself, the Father has spoken in the last days (verses 1-3); and He is greater than the Angels, inasmuch as He is the firstborn Son of God (verses 4, 5), to be adored by the Angels (verse 6), as Lord and King, since the Angels are ministering spirits (verses 7-9); He is Jehovah, the Creator, eternal and immutable (verses 10-12), exalted to the right hand of God (verses 13, 14): chapter 1.
2. He teaches that the Son is to be heard, lest we drift away (verse 1), and because the word spoken by Angles had a just recompense, how much more the word that began to be spoken by the Lord, and confirmed variously? (verses 2-4), and because one not hearing is not able to be made a partaker in the inhabitable future, made subject to Christ alone, for a time made a little lower than the Angels, so that He might taste death for all, and through sufferings be made perfect as the captain of salvation, but afterwards corwed with glory (verses 5-10); where the communion, required of that Prince of salvation, of flesh and blood with His brethren to be set at liberty, death, and the similitude with His brethren in all things, even in temptations, are set forth (verses 11-18): chapter 2.
3. He teaches that He is to be heard, because He is greater than Moses, who was a faithful minister in God’s house; while the Son is Lord of His house, that is, of believers, which house He Himself as God has built (verse 1-6); and because those of old not hearing the voice of Jehovah the Son, but tempting and provoking Him, were excluded from rest, which much more applies today to those that have an evil heart of unbelief, and depart from the living God (verses 7-19): chapter 3.
4. He teaches that He is to be heard, because to those hearing He promised entrance into rest; that is, if they believe (verses 1-3), which rest was furnished, not in the creation (verses 4-7), nor in the entrance into the land of Canaan (verse 8), but yet remains for the people of God (verses 9, 10); and to be entered by Him, unless they should wish to fall after the example of those disobedient of old (verse 11); especially since His word is living and efficacious (verse 12), and all the deepest things lie open to it (verse 13): chapter 4:1-13.
II. An Exhortation to the same, that, with servitude to the law laid aside, they trust Christ alone as High Priest, Chapters 4:14-10:23. In which is:
1. The Exhortation: chapter 4:14-16. That is, he exhorts that, since we have a High Priest, who transcends the Heavens, sympathizing with our infirmities (verses 14, 15), they approach Him with faith at the throne of grace (verse 16): chapter 4:14-16.
2. Demonstrations undergirding that exhortation: chapter 5:1-10:23. In which Saint Paul:
a. With the requirements of the High Priest set forth (verses 1-4), asserts Christ’s calling to the Priesthood, His perfection through sufferings, and His Priesthood according to the oreder of Melchisedec (verses 5-10); where, being about to speak concerning the priesthood of Melchisedec, he complains that the passivity and childishness of the Hebrews is hindering him (verses 11-14): chapter 5.
b. In a digression stirs up the Hebrews to press on to perfection (verse 1), both because, with the foundation successfully laid, it is necessary to build, lest, hesitating at first principles, they slip back, and thus are not able to be renewed to repentance (verses 2-8); and because a certain hope appears of progressing by the grace of God, and of persevering in good work (verses 9-12), after the example of Abraham, who, making use of patience, obtained the blessing (verses 13-15); and because God has bound Himself to believers by oath, and His counsel fixed by promise and oath is an altogether certain foundation for our hope (verses 16-20): chapter 6.
c. Teaches that Christ, the Son of God, is Priest according to the order of Melchisedec, with a description of the person of Melchisedec (verses 1, 2), and with his agreement with the Son of God, in name, generation, and eternity demonstrated (verse 3), and his eminence above Abraham (verses 4-10). Whence it is concluded that the Aaronic priesthood is to be changed, or abolished, because another Priest of another sort rises (verses 11-14); Christ is Priest, not according to a carnal law, but after the power of an endless life (verses 15-17); not the law, but the promise, perfects (verses 18, 19); Christ is the surety of a better Testament (verses 20-22); the Aaronic Priest does not remain, like He, who is according to the order of Melchisedec (verses 23-25); and Christ alone is a Priest of this sort, through whom we are able to approach God (verses 26-28): chapter 7.
d. Proves in addition the abrogation of the Levitical Priesthood, because Christ, the Priest according to the order of Melchisedec, presents His sacrifice to God, not on earth; but, sitting at the right hand of the throne, He serves the true tabernacle (verse 1-5); and the former Testament ought to be refused, and the new introduced (verses 6-13): chapter 8.
e. Proves the abolition of the Levitical Law or Priesthood, from the manner of that tabernacle, the ministry of which both signified that the way to Heaven was not open, and was not able to perfect the conscience (verses 1-10); and because, on the other hand, Christ, the High Priest of good things to come, through a better and more perfect tabernacle, not by the blood of goats, but by His own, entered once into the holies (verses 11, 12): which he demonstrates from this, that His blood, not the blood of goats, cleanses from sin (verses 13, 14), as necessary for the dedication of the New Testament (verses 15-22), and for the purification of the sanctuary (verses 23, 24), and superabounding for the abolition of sin even without repetition (verses 25-28): chapter 9.
f. Proves the sufficiency of the one Sacrifice of Christ, because it was not obliged to be repeated like the Levitical sacrifices, having a shadow, and not perfecting those approaching (verses 1-4), as conjoined with obedience and sanctification of the will and name of God (verses 5-10); and He Himself after the offered sacrifice is no longer on earth, but sits at the right hand of God (verses 11-13), by one offering sanctifying all (verse 14); and, finally, according to the Divine promise remission was obliged to follow, leaving no place for the recollection of sin (verses 15-18). He concludes; he commands those having faith to approach the entrance to the Holies in the blood of Jesus, with a true heart in the fullness of faith, and to hold unchangeable confirmation of hope (verses 19-23): chapter 10:1-23.
III. An Exhortation to the Hebrews to faith, hope, patience, and holiness, Chapters 10:24-13:25. In which Saint Paul:
1. Exhorts that they consider one another to stimulate love and good works (verse 24); that they forsake not the assembly, because a day is approaching, portending a grievous judgment upon those voluntarily sinning (verses 25-31); that they call to remembrance the former days, in which, having been illuminated, they endured repeated contests of sufferings, and had compassion on his chains (verses 32-35); that they cultivate patience (verses 36, 37), and give their attention to faith, since they are not children of drawing back unto destruction, but of faith unto acquisition (verses 38, 39): chapter 10:24-39.
2. With faith described (verse 1), from the example of all believers (verses 2, 3), Abel (verse 4), Enoch (verses 5, 6), Noah (verse 7), Abraham and the Patriarchs (verses 8-22), Moses (verses 23- 29), Joshua (verse 30), Rahab (verse 31), and the like (verses 32-38), asserts that those by faith did not obtain the promise, with God foreseeing something better concerning us, lest they should be perfected without us (verses 39, 40): chapter 11.
3. Exhorts both to run the race with patience (verse 1), with Christ set forth as captain, who, having endured the cross, is seated on the throne of God (verses 2, 3), because as sons, beloved by God, who are chastened, they are not bastards (verses 4-8), and because it is suitable to be subject to the Father of spirits for life and the peaceable fruit of righteousness (verses 9-11); and to tolerate and strengthen the inform (verses 12, 13); and to study peace and holiness (verses 14-17), since they approach not to mount Sinai, but to Zion and the Mediator of the New Testament (verses 18-24); whom he teaches is to be embraced, with punishment of refusal and the unshakeable kingdom of the obedient set forth (verses 25-29): chapter 12.
4. Proceeds to exhort to φιλαδελφίαν, brotherly love (verse 1), hospitality (verse 2), the remembrance of those in bonds (verse 3), the chastity of the marriage bed (verse 4), αὐτάρκειαν/contentment (verses 5, 6), remembrance and imitation of those that have spoken the word of God (verse 7), constancy in the faith of Christ, who is ever one and the same (verses 8, 9), going out to Christ, our altar outside the camp, to bear His reproach, and to offer sacrifices of praise to Him (verses 10-15), beneficence, sharing (verse 16), obedience toward rulers (verse 17), and prayer for them (verses 18, 19). He prays to God that they might fulfill these things (verses 20, 21); and, with his brevity excused (verse 22), and Timothy commended (verse 23), he closes with prayer (verses 24, 25): chapter 13.