At the end of Hebrews 4, the author gives this exhortation: since we have a high priest who can sympathize with our needs, and is able to help us, we should boldly go to the throne of grace, confident that he will help us (4:14-16). In chapters 5, 6 and 7, he gives evidence that Jesus is our high priest. At the beginning of chapter 8, he summarizes his point as “we have such a high priest” (NRSV throughout). This is the main topic for these three chapters.
References to: Hebrews
The letter to the Hebrews weaves theology and practical application. After each doctrinal section, it urges the readers to do something as a result. This often takes the form of “Therefore, let us do such and such.”
As part of that pattern, chapter 4 begins with the word therefore, meaning that the exhortations we read in chapter 4 are built on a point made earlier. So our study of chapter 4 must begin with a review of chapter 3. Chapter 3 tells us to look to Jesus, because he is superior to the angels and to Moses.
As the author of Hebrews reaches the end of his letter, he encourages the readers to be faithful to Christ. He also gives us hints about the situation the readers are in.
After exhorting readers to continue in the Christian faith, Hebrews gives further encouragement by painting a picture of the choice set before them. On one side is fear and death, but the readers have chosen a life of joy with Christ.
After mentioning a long list of heroes who were faithful in difficult times, the author of Hebrews now addresses the readers directly, encouraging them to follow the example of the faithful. They should acknowledge the hardships they encounter — even be encouraged by them — and complete the journey they have begun.
It is easy to have faith when everything is going well. But faith is needed most when we face danger. The “faith chapter” continues with stories of how people remained faithful in life-threatening situations.
Hebrews 11 is a description of faith in action — how God’s people have always lived by faith. In this chapter, several verses are devoted to the example of Abraham, who is called “the father of the faithful.” Genesis 15:6 tells us that he “believed the Lord.” Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (see Genesis 12:1).
Hebrews 11 is often called the faith chapter. It describes how various people responded in faith to what God said to them. But these stories are not told as historical trivia — they encourage us to have faith in our situations, too.
The book of Hebrews explains that Jesus Christ is the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice. Chapter 10 concludes the center section of the book by discussing the perfect results of Jesus’ priestly work.
The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the mediator of a better covenant. He has a better priesthood and a better ministry. Chapter 9 then describes in more detail the priestly ministry of our Savior.