Letter to Hebrews: part 1 -
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In times past the word of God came to our fathers through the prophets, in different parts and in different ways;
But now, at the end of these days, it has come to us through his Son, to whom he has given all things for a heritage, and through whom he made the order of the generations;
Who, being the outshining of his glory, the true image of his substance, supporting all things by the word of his power, having given himself as an offering making clean from sins, took his seat at the right hand of God in heaven;
Having become by so much better than the angels, as the name which is his heritage is more noble than theirs.
To which of the angels did God say at any time, You are my Son, this day I have given you being? or, I will be his Father, and he will be my Son?
And again, when he is sending his only Son into the world, he says, Let all the angels of God give him worship.
And of the angels he says, Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire:
But of the Son he says, Your seat of power, O God, is for ever and ever; and the rod of your kingdom is a rod of righteousness.
You have been a lover of righteousness and a hater of evil; and so God, your God, has put the oil of joy on your head more than on the heads of those who are with you.
You, Lord, at the first did put the earth on its base, and the heavens are the works of your hands:
They will come to their end; but you are for ever; they will become old as a robe;
They will be rolled up like a cloth, even like a robe, and they will be changed: but you are the same and your years will have no end.
But of which of the angels has he said at any time, Take your seat at my right hand till I put all those who are against you under your feet?
Are they not all helping spirits, who are sent out as servants to those whose heritage will be salvation?
For this reason there is the more need for us to give attention to the things which have come to our ears, for fear that by chance we might be slipping away.
Because if the word which came through the angels was fixed, and in the past every evil act against God’s orders was given its full punishment;
What will come on us, if we do not give our minds to such a great salvation? a salvation of which our fathers first had knowledge through the words of the Lord, and which was made certain to us by those to whom his words came;
And God was a witness with them, by signs and wonders, and by more than natural powers, and by his distribution of the Holy Spirit at his pleasure.
For he did not make the angels rulers over the world to come, of which I am writing.
But a certain writer has given his witness, saying, What is man, that you keep him in mind? what is the son of man, that you take him into account?
You made him a little lower than the angels; you gave him a crown of glory and honour, and made him ruler over all the works of your hands:
You put all things under his feet. For in making man the ruler over all things, God did not put anything outside his authority; though we do not see everything under him now.
But we see him who was made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, crowned with glory and honour, because he let himself be put to death so that by the grace of God he might undergo death for all men.
Because it was right for him, for whom and through whom all things have being, in guiding his sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation complete through pain.
For he who makes holy and those who are made holy are all of one family; and for this reason it is no shame for him to give them the name of brothers,
Saying, I will give the knowledge of your name to my brothers, I will make a song of praise to you before the church.
And again he says, I will put my faith in him. And again, See, I am here, and the children which God has given to me.
And because the children are flesh and blood, he took a body himself and became like them; so that by his death he might put an end to him who had the power of death, that is to say, the Evil One;
And let those who all their lives were in chains because of their fear of death, go free.
For, truly, he does not take on the life of angels, but that of the seed of Abraham.
Because of this it was necessary for him to be made like his brothers in every way, so that he might be a high priest full of mercy and keeping faith in everything to do with God, making offerings for the sins of the people.
For having been put to the test himself, he is able to give help to others when they are tested.
For this reason, holy brothers, marked out to have a part in heaven, give thought to Jesus the representative and high priest of our faith;
Who kept faith with God who gave him his place, even as Moses did in all his house.
And it was right for this man to have more honour than Moses, even as the builder of a house has more honour than the house.
For every house has a builder; but the builder of all things is God.
And Moses certainly kept faith as a servant, in all his house, and as a witness of those things which were to be said later;
But Christ as a son, over his house; whose house are we, if we keep our hearts fixed in the glad and certain hope till the end.
And so, as the Holy Spirit says, Today if you let his voice come to your ears,
Be not hard of heart, as when you made me angry, on the day of testing in the waste land,
When your fathers put me to the test, and saw my works for forty years.
So that I was angry with this generation, and I said, Their hearts are in error at all times, and they have no knowledge of my ways;
And being angry I made an oath, saying, They may not come into my rest.
My brothers, take care that there is not by chance in any one of you an evil heart without belief, turning away from the living God:
But give comfort to one another every day as long as it is still Today; so that no one among you may be made hard by the deceit of sin:
For if we keep the substance of the faith which we had at the start, even till the end, we have a part with Christ;
As it is said, Today if you will let his voice come to your ears, be not hard of heart, as when you made him angry.
Who made him angry when his voice came to them? was it not all those who came out of Egypt with Moses?
And with whom was he angry for forty years? was it not with those who did evil, who came to their deaths in the waste land?
And to whom did he make an oath that they might not come into his rest? was it not to those who went against his orders?
So we see that they were not able to go in because they had no belief.
Let us then, though we still have God’s word that we may come into his rest, go in fear that some of you may be unable to do so.
And, truly, the good news came to us, even as it did to them; but the hearing of the word did them no good, because they were not united in faith with the true hearers.
For those of us who have belief come into his rest; even as he has said, As I said in my oath when I was angry, They may not come into my rest: though the works were done from the time of the making of the world.
For in one place he has said of the seventh day, And God had rest from all his works on the seventh day;
And in the same place he says again, They will not come into my rest.
So that as it is clear that some have to go in, and that the first hearers of the good news were not able to go in because they went against God’s orders,
After a long time, again naming a certain day, he says in David, Today (as he had said before), Today if you will let his voice come to your ears, be not hard of heart,
For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have said anything about another day.
So that there is still a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God.
For the man who comes into his rest has had rest from his works, as God did from his.
Because of this, let us have a strong desire to come into that rest, and let no one go after the example of those who went against God’s orders.
For the word of God is living and full of power, and is sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting through and making a division even of the soul and the spirit, the bones and the muscles, and quick to see the thoughts and purposes of the heart.
And there is nothing made which is not completely clear to him; there is nothing covered, but all things are open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Having then a great high priest, who has made his way through the heavens, even Jesus the Son of God, let us be strong in our faith.
For we have not a high priest who is not able to be touched by the feelings of our feeble flesh; but we have one who has been tested in all points as we ourselves are tested, but without sin.
Then let us come near to the seat of grace without fear, so that mercy may be given to us, and we may get grace for our help in time of need.
Every high priest who is taken from among men is given his position to take care of the interests of men in those things which have to do with God, so that he may make offerings for sins.
He is able to have feeling for those who have no knowledge and for those who are wandering from the true way, because he himself is feeble;
And being feeble, he has to make sin-offerings for himself as well as for the people.
And no man who is not given authority by God, as Aaron was, takes this honour for himself.
In the same way Christ did not take for himself the glory of being made a high priest, but was given it by him who said, You are my Son, this day I have given you being:
As he says in another place, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Who in the days of his flesh, having sent up prayers and requests with strong crying and weeping to him who was able to give him salvation from death, had his prayer answered because of his fear of God.
And though he was a Son, through the pain which he underwent, the knowledge came to him of what it was to be under God’s orders;
And when he had been made complete, he became the giver of eternal salvation to all those who are under his orders;
Being named by God a high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
Of whom we have much to say which it is hard to make clear, because you are slow of hearing.
And though by this time it would be right for you to be teachers, you still have need of someone to give you teaching about the first simple rules of God’s revelation; you have become like babies who have need of milk, and not of solid food.
For everyone who takes milk is without experience of the word of righteousness: he is a child.
But solid food is for men of full growth, even for those whose senses are trained by use to see what is good and what is evil.
For this reason let us go on from the first things about Christ to full growth; not building again that on which it is based, that is, the turning of the heart from dead works, and faith in God,
The teaching of baptisms, and of the putting on of hands, and of the future life of the dead, and of the judging on the last day.
Now we will do this, if God lets us.
As for those who at one time saw the light, tasting the good things from heaven, and having their part in the Holy Spirit,
With knowledge of the good word of God, and of the powers of the coming time,
And then let themselves be turned away, it is not possible for their hearts to be made new a second time; because they themselves put the Son of God on the cross again, openly shaming him.
For a land, drinking in the frequent rain and producing good plants for those for whom it is worked, has a blessing from God:
But if it sends up thorns and evil plants, it is of no use and is ready to be cursed; its only end is to be burned.
But, my loved ones, though we say this, we are certain that you have better things in you, things which go with salvation;
For God is true, and will not put away from him the memory of your work and of your love for his name, in the help which you gave and still give to the saints.
And it is our desire that you may all keep the same high purpose in certain hope to the end:
So that you may not be slow in heart, but may take as your example those to whom God has given their heritage, because of their faith and their long waiting.
For when God made his oath to Abraham, because there was no greater oath, he made it by himself,
Saying, Be certain that I will give you my blessing, and make your numbers very great.
And so, when he had been waiting calmly for a long time, God’s word to him was put into effect.
For men at all times make their oaths by what is greater; and any argument is ended by the decision of the oath.
So that when it was God’s desire to make it specially clear to those who by his word were to have the heritage, that his purpose was fixed, he made it more certain with an oath;
So that we, who have gone in flight from danger to the hope which has been put before us, may have a strong comfort in two unchanging things, in which it is not possible for God to be false;
And this hope is like a strong band for our souls, fixed and certain, and going in to that which is inside the veil;
Where Jesus has gone before us, as a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
For this Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a priest of the Most High God, who gave Abraham his blessing, meeting him when he came back after putting the kings to death,
And to whom Abraham gave a tenth part of everything which he had, being first named King of righteousness, and then in addition, King of Salem, that is to say, King of peace;
Being without father or mother, or family, having no birth or end to his life, being made like the Son of God, is a priest for ever.
Now see how great this man was, to whom our father Abraham gave a tenth part of what he had got in the fight.
And it is true that by the law, those of the sons of Levi who have the position of priests may take a tenth part of the people’s goods; that is to say, they take it from their brothers though these are the sons of Abraham.
But this man, who was not of their family, took the tenth from Abraham, and gave a blessing to him to whom God had given his undertaking.
But there is no doubt that the less gets his blessing from the greater.
Now at the present time, men over whom death has power take the tenth; but then it was taken by one of whom it is witnessed that he is living.
And we may say that in Abraham, even Levi, who has a right to take the tenth part, gave it;
Because he was still in his father’s body when Melchizedek came to him.
Now if it was possible for things to be made complete through the priests of the house of Levi (for the law was given to the people in connection with them), what need was there for another priest who was of the order of Melchizedek and not of the order of Aaron?
Because if the priests are changed, it is necessary to make a change in the law.
For he of whom these things are said comes of another tribe, of which no man has ever made offerings at the altar.
Because it is clear that our Lord comes out of Judah, and Moses said nothing about priests from that tribe.
And this is even more clear if a second priest has come up who is like Melchizedek,
That is to say, not made by a law based on the flesh, but by the power of a life without end:
For it has been witnessed of him, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
So the law which went before is put on one side, because it was feeble and without profit.
(Because the law made nothing complete), and in its place there is a better hope, through which we come near to God.
And as this is not without the taking of an oath
(For those were made priests without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by him who says of him, The Lord gave his oath, which he will not take back, that you are a priest for ever);
By so much is it a better agreement which we have through Jesus.
And it is true that there have been a great number of those priests, because death does not let them go on for ever;
But this priest, because his life goes on for ever, is unchanging.
So that he is fully able to be the saviour of all who come to God through him, because he is ever living to make prayer to God for them.
It was right for us to have such a high priest, one who is holy and without evil, doing no wrong, having no part with sinners, and made higher than the heavens:
Who has no need to make offerings for sins every day, like those high priests, first for himself, and then for the people; because he did this once and for ever when he made an offering of himself.
The law makes high priests of men who are feeble; but the word of the oath, which was made after the law, gives that position to a Son, in whom all good is for ever complete.
Now of the things we are saying this is the chief point: We have such a high priest, who has taken his place at the right hand of God’s high seat of glory in heaven,
As a servant of the holy things and of the true Tent, which was put up by God, not by man.
Now every high priest is given authority to take to God the things which are given and to make offerings; so that it is necessary for this man, like them, to have something for an offering.
If he had been on earth he would not have been a priest at all, because there are other priests who make the offerings ordered by the law;
Being servants of that which is a copy and an image of the things in heaven, as Moses, when he was about to make the Tent, had special orders from God: for, See, he said, that you make everything like the design which you saw in the mountain.
But now his position as priest is higher. because through him God has made a better agreement with man, based on the giving of better things.
For if that first agreement had been as good as possible, there would have been no place for a second.
For, protesting against them, he says, See, the days are coming when I will make a new agreement with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah;
Not like the agreement which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand, to be their guide out of the land of Egypt; for they did not keep the agreement with me, and I gave them up, says the Lord.
For this is the agreement which I will make with the people of Israel after those days: I will put my laws into their minds, writing them in their hearts: and I will be their God, and they will be my people:
And there will be no need for every man to be teaching his brother, or his neighbour, saying, This is the knowledge of the Lord: for they will all have knowledge of me, great and small.
And I will have mercy on their evil-doing, and I will not keep their sins in mind.
When he says, A new agreement, he has made the first agreement old. But anything which is getting old and past use will not be seen much longer.