Prerogatives of the Divine Son

1 God, after speaking in days of old1 to the fathers through the prophets in many portions and various ways, has spoken to us in these last days by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the worlds. And he2—being the outshining of God’s glory, the exact representation of his nature, and the one who sustains all things by his powerful word—after providing purification from3 sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, and so became4 as much superior to the angels as he has inherited a more exalted name than theirs.

The Son is Higher Than the Angels

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you”?5 Or again, “I will be a Father to him, and he a Son to me”?6 And when he again brings7 the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!”8 Moreover, he says of the angels, “He9 makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”10 But of the Son he says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
and the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your11 kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above all your companions.”12

10 And,

“In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you will remain:
They all will grow old like a garment,
12 and like a robe you will roll them up;
like a garment, they too will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never fail.”13

13 And to which of the angels did he ever say, “Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?14 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those who are about to inherit salvation?

Notes

  1. Or long ago
  2. Lit. who
  3. Lit. of
  4. Lit. having become
  5. Ps. 2:7
  6. 2 Sam. 7:14
  7. Or And again, when he brings
  8. Deut. 32:43 (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls); Ps. 97:7
  9. Lit. He who
  10. Ps. 104:4
  11. Some mss his
  12. Ps. 45:6-7
  13. Ps. 102:25-27
  14. Ps. 110:1

We Must Not Drift Away

For this reason we must attend all the more carefully to the things we have heard, so as not to drift away from themFor if the word spoken through angels proved to be true,1 and every transgression and act of disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken through the Lord himself, and later was confirmed to us by those who heard himGod himself bearing witness with them, whether by signs and wonders, various miracles, or gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed2 according to his own will?

Christ is Lord of the World to Come

For he has not subjected the world to come of which we speak to the angels. On the contrary, in a certain place someone has testified, saying,

“What is man that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man that you look after him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels,3
and have crowned him with glory and honor.4
8 You have put all things in subjection beneath his feet.”5

For when he subjected all things to him, he left nothing outside of his control. But for the moment we do not yet see all things under his control. We do, however, see Jesus—who was made a little lower than the angels—crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death,6 so that he, by the grace of God, might taste of death for us all.

The Son Perfected Through Suffering

10 For it was fitting that God7—for whom are all things, and through whom are all things—in bringing many sons to glory, should perfect the pioneer of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both he who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all from one Father,8 for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will sing your praise.”9 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”10 And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given me.”11

14 Inasmuch, then, as the children all share in flesh and blood, he himself partook of flesh and blood, just as they did, so that through death he might break the power12 of him who held the power of death—that is, the devil—15 and release those who, through the fear of death, were subject to bondage their entire lives. 16 For surely his concern is not for angels,13 but rather for the seed of Abraham. 17 And this is why he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the things pertaining to God, in order to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself has suffered temptation, he is well able to come to the aid of those who are being tempted.

Notes

  1. Lit. certain, trustworthy, reliable
  2. Lit. distributions of the Holy Spirit
  3. Or possibly for a little while you have made him lower
  4. Many mss add and set him over the works of your hands
  5. Ps. 8:4-6
  6. Lit. because of the suffering of death
  7. Lit. for him
  8. Or possibly of one family (origin, nature)
  9. Ps. 22:22
  10. 2 Sam. 22:3; Is. 8:17
  11. Is. 8:18
  12. Or bring to nothing, destroy
  13. Or it is not angels that he helps; lit. take hold of angels

Patterns of Faithfulness

Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, think carefully about Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 how he was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses alone, in all God’s1 house, was faithful. For this Jesus has been counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, even as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itselfFor every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God. Now in all God’s house Moses alone was faithful as a servant, with the result that he testified about things to be spoken later on. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his own house, and we are his house, if we hold firmly2 to our confidence and to the hope in which we glory.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,3
as you did on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test, forcing me to prove myself,4
and where they saw my works for forty years.
10 For this reason I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ‘In their hearts they are always wandering off—
but they have never known5 my ways.’
11 So6 I swore in my wrath,
‘They will not enter my rest.’”7

12 Therefore see to it, brothers, that none of you displays an evil, unbelieving heart by deserting the living God. 13 Instead, you should exhort one another daily, while it is still called “Today,” so that none of you are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if in fact we hold our initial confidence firmly until the end, 15 all throughout the time it is being said,8 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

16 For who heard him and then rebelled? Was it not everyone who came out of Egypt under Moses’?9 17 And with whom was God angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So then, we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Notes

  1. Lit. his
  2. Many mss add till the end
  3. Or provocation (i.e. to wrath)
  4. Lit. fathers tested by a proof
  5. Lit. did not know
  6. Or as
  7. Ps. 95:7-11
  8. Lit. while it is (still) being said
  9. Lit. while
  10. Lit. through Moses

Entering God’s Rest

Therefore, while1 the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us take every precaution2 so that none of you appear to have fallen short of it. For good news has been proclaimed to us just as it was to them; but the message they heard did them no good, for they were not united by faith with those who heard and obeyed it.3 3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said: “So I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”4 And yet from the foundation of the world his works have stood complete. For in a certain place he spoke about the seventh day like this: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his works.”5 5And he does so again in this passage: “They shall not enter my rest.”6

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and since those to whom it was first proclaimed failed to enter it because of disobedience, he again designates a certain day—calling it “Today”—when, a great while later, he spoke through David in the words just quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”7 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day after that. So then: There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For anyone who has entered his rest has also rested from his own works, just as God did from his. 11 Therefore let us make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one falls by following their example8 of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing all the way to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow; and it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 Moreover, there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and exposed before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

A Compassionate High Priest

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus, the Son of God—let us firmly hold to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but who at all points was tempted just as we are, and yet remained without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Notes

  1. Or since
  2. Lit. let us fear
  3. Some mss since it was not mixed with faith in those who heard
  4. Ps. 95:11
  5. Gen 2:2
  6. Ps. 95:11
  7. Ps. 95:7-8
  8. Lit. the same example, pattern

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed to serve1 men in matters pertaining to God, so that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness; and because of this, just as he does for the people, so too must he do for himself: He must make offerings for sins.

Moreover, no man takes this honor to himself; rather, he is called by God to receive it, just as Aaron was. And like Aaron,2 Christ did not glorify himself so as to be made high priest, but it was he who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”3 Elsewhere he again says the same thing:4 “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”5

Now Christ,6 in the days of his flesh, lifted up pleas and supplications with urgent7 cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death; and because of his reverence for God8 he was heard. 8Though he was a Son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered; and when he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 since God had now designated him high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Pressing on to Maturity

11 Now on this subject we have much to say, but it is difficult to do so since you have become hard of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you yourselves need someone to teach you the basic principles of the oracles9 of God all over again. In other words,10 you have become those who need milk rather than solid food! 13 For everyone who only partakes of milk is unskilled11 in the message about righteousness, for he is still a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose senses have been trained by constant practice to discern both good and evil.

Notes

  1. Lit. on behalf of
  2. Lit. So too
  3. Ps. 2:7
  4. Lit. just as also in another place he says
  5. Ps. 110:4
  6. Lit. who
  7. Lit. strong, forceful, violent
  8. Or godly fear
  9. Or utterances
  10. Lit. and (indeed)
  11. Or inexperienced

So then, leaving behind the elementary teachings about the Messiah, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, or of faith in God, 2 or of instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted of the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they themselves are again crucifying the Son of God1 and exposing him to public disgrace. For land that drinks in the rain that often falls upon it—and that then brings forth vegetation useful to those who are busy cultivating it2—receives a blessing from God. But if it brings forth thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Pressing on to Assurance

But though we speak in this way, in your case, beloved friends, we are convinced of better things—indeed, things that accompany salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have shown towards his name in having ministered—and in still ministering—to the saints. 11 Nevertheless, we want each one of you to keep showing this same diligence so as to enjoy3 the full assurance of hope all the way to the end, 12 so that you won’t grow sluggish but instead will become imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.

13 For when God made his promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “When I bless you, I will greatly bless; and when I multiply you, I will greatly multiply.”4 15 And so, by patiently enduring, Abraham obtained the promise. 16 For men always swear by that which is greater, and for them an oath of confirmation5 brings an end to every dispute. 17 In the same way, God, desiring6 still more clearly to show the heirs of the promise the immutability of his purpose, interposed7 with an oath, 18 so that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for him8 to lie we might have strong encouragement—we who have fled for refuge by laying hold of the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope9 as an anchor for the soul—both firm and secure—and which also enters the sacred space behind the veil,10 20 where the forerunner—Jesus himself—has entered for us, having become high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Notes

  1. Lit. since they re-crucify to themselves the Son of God
  2. Lit. who also cultivate it
  3. Or in a pursuit of; lit. to, towards, for
  4. Lit. Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you (Gen. 22:16-17)
  5. Lit. the oath unto (for) confirmation
  6. Or determining
  7. Or confirmed it
  8. Lit. God
  9. Lit. which we have (hold)
  10. Lit. enters the inner place of the veil (curtain)

The King of Righteousness

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him—to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all the spoils—was first of all (according to the translation of his name) “king of righteousness,” and then also “king of Salem,” which means “king of peace.” Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

But consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the choicest spoils! Now those of the sons of Levi who receive the priesthood are authorized under the Law1 to receive tithes from the people—that is, from their brothers, even though their brothers also come from the loins of Abraham. But Melchizedek,2 whose descent is not traced from them, received tithes from Abraham, and also blessed the one who had the promises of God. But beyond all dispute, the lesser is blessed by the greater. Moreover, in the one case mortal men receive tithes; but in the other someone receives them of whom it is testified that he still lives. Indeed, in a manner of speaking, even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him!

Perfection Through Christ, Not Levi

11 So then: If perfection were attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of that priesthood the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise, someone said to belong to the order of Melchizedek rather than the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, there is necessarily a change of law as well. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has ever officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from the tribe of Judah, a tribe about which Moses spoke nothing whatsoever with reference to priests. 15 And this is still more evident if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 someone who has become a priest, not based on a law of physical descent,3 but on the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is testified of him: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”4

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside due to its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a far greater hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And inasmuch as it did not come5 without an oath—21 for it is certain that the Levites6 became priests without an oath, whereas Christ7 became a priest with an oath from8 him who said to him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever’”922 by that much more Jesus also has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 Moreover, those who formerly became priests were numerous indeed, since death prevented them from continuing in office24 Christ,10 on the other hand, because he remains forever, holds an unchangeable priesthood; 25 and for this reason he is also able to save to the uttermost11 those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, one who is holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the very heavens; 27 one who doesn’t need, as those priests do, to offer up sacrifices day by day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people, since he did this once and for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the Law appoints as high priests men who are beset with weakness; but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son who has been perfected forever.

Notes

  1. Lit. have a commandment according to the Law
  2. Lit. the one
  3. Lit. a law of a fleshly command
  4. Ps. 110:4a
  5. Lit. as it was not
  6. Lit. they
  7. Lit. he
  8. Lit. through
  9. Ps. 110:4b
  10. Lit. he
  11. Or completely, perfectly, forever

A Heavenly High Priest

Now here is the main point of the things we are saying: We have this kind of high priest, a priest who is seated1 at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, a minister of the holy places2 and of the true tabernacle that the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; accordingly, it was necessary that this priest have something to offer as well. Now if he were here on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since here there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the Law. Moreover, they serve only a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things. That is why Moses himself received a warning when he was about to set up the tabernacle; for God said, “See that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.’3 Now, however, Christ4 has obtained a better ministry than theirs, by just so much as he is also the mediator of a better covenant, a covenant founded5 on better promises.

A New and Better Covenant

For if that first covenant had been faultless, no opportunity for introducing a second would have been sought. But7 finding fault with it, God says to them, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, so8 I turned away from them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will place my laws in their minds, and will write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will each one teach his countryman, and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful towards their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more.”9

13 In that he says, “A new covenant,” he has made the first obsolete. But whatever is growing old and becoming obsolete is ready to disappear once and for all.

Notes

  1. Lit. who sat down
  2. Or sanctuaries (i.e. the holy place and the holiest of all)
  3. Ex. 25:40
  4. Lit. he
  5. Or enacted; lit. which has been founded
  6. Some mss for finding fault with them, God says
  7. Lit. for
  8. Lit. and
  9. Jer. 31:31-34

The Earthly Sanctuary

Now even the first covenant had regulations for a service of worship and the earthly sanctuary. For a sacred tent was built and then furnished: The first part—which contained the lampstand, the table, and the loaves of presentation—was called the holy place. And behind the second curtain there was a second room of the tent called the holy of holies. It contained a golden altar of incense, and the Ark of the Covenant, which was overlaid with gold on all sides. In it were stored a golden jar containing the manna, the rod of Aaron that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. And above the Ark1 were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. But now we cannot speak of these things in detail.

Now once such preparations had been made, the priests would regularly enter into the first part of the tent, performing their sacred duties. But into the second part the high priest alone would enter, once a year, and not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. Through this the Holy Spirit was signifying that so long as the first tabernacle was still standing the way into the most holy place had not yet been revealed. This also serves to symbolize the present time, in which gifts and sacrifices that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper are still being offered up, 10 related as they are only to food and drink and various washings—mere physical regulations imposed until the time of reformation.

The Heavenly Sanctuary

11 But when Christ appeared as the high priest of the good things that now have come,2 he entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, a tabernacle not made with human hands (that is, not belonging to this creation). 12 Nor was it through the blood of goats and calves, but rather through his own blood that he entered the most holy place once and for all, having obtained for us eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on the ceremonially unclean, sanctify people in such a way as to purify the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ—who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God—cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And this is why he is the mediator of a new testament,3 since now a death has occurred to pay for the transgressions committed under the first testament, so that those who are called may receive the promise of an4 eternal inheritance.

A New Testament

16 For where there is a testament, there must of necessity be the death of the testator.5 17 For a testament takes effect only at the moment of death, since it carries no force at all so long as the testator is still alive. 18 Therefore not even the first testament was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the Law to the people, he took the blood of calves and goats—along with water, scarlet 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 commanded you.”6 21And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels for ministry with blood. 22 Indeed, according to the Law, almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.

The Greatness of Christ’s Sacrifice

23 For this reason it was necessary that the representation of the things in the heavens be purified with sacrifices7 like these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter holy places made with human hands—mere representations of the true—but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. 25 Nor did he do so in order to offer himself over and again—much as the high priest does when he enters the most holy place year by year with the blood of another—26 for then Christ would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But now, once and for all at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin through the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once and then face judgment,8 28 so too Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to bring complete salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Notes

  1. Lit. it
  2. Some mss the good things to come
  3. Or covenant
  4. Lit. the
  5. Or it is necessary to prove the death of the testator
  6. 6. 24:8
  7. Lit. things
  8. Lit. and after this a judgment

 The One Sacrifice for Sin

10 For since the Law holds only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very form of the things themselves, it can never perfect those who draw near to God by offering the same sacrifices year after year. Otherwise, would not those sacrifices1 have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, being cleansed once and for all, would no longer be aware of their sins? But in those sacrifices there is actually a reminder of sins year after year, 4 for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 This is why, when he came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but instead prepared a body for me;
in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
in the scroll of the book it is written of me—
to do your will, O God.”2

After first saying, “Sacrifices, offerings, whole burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin you did not desire, nor did you delight in them” (all of which are offered according to the Law), he then says, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” Thus, he does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

11 Moreover, every priest stands day after day, repeatedly offering the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But Christ,3 after offering for all time a single sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from then on waiting till his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And on this matter the Holy Spirit also testifies to us. For after saying, 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” 17 he then adds, “and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’4 18 Now where there is forgiveness for such5 things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Don’t Throw Away Your Confidence!

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus— 20 by a new and living way which he opened for us through the veil (that is, his flesh)—21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with an honest heart, in the full assurance that comes from faith,6 having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 With no wavering at all, let us hold firmly to the confession we made about the hope we hold dear,7 for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but instead exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the day drawing near.

26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins, 27 only8 a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and of a fierce indignation9 that will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think someone will deserve if he10 has trampled the Son of God under foot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”11 31 It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But call to mind the former days when, after being enlightened, you endured a severe trial of great suffering,12 33 partly by being publicly exposed to insults and persecutions, and partly by being the companions of those who were so treated. 34 For you had compassion on the prisoners; moreover, you joyfully accepted the seizure of your property, knowing that you yourselves had a better and more lasting possession. 35 So then: Don’t throw away your confidence, which will surely receive13 a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you’ve done the will of God, you will receive the promise. 37 “For in just a little while, he who is coming will come; and he will not delay. 38 Now my righteous one will live by faith; but if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”14 39 But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction; rather, we are among those who continue to believe, and so preserve our souls.15

Notes

  1. Lit. would they not
  2. Ps. 40:6-8
  3. Lit. he
  4. Jer. 31:33-34
  5. Lit. these
  6. Lit. full assurance of faith
  7. Lit. the confession of the hope
  8. Lit. but
  9. Lit. zeal (fury) of fire; Is. 26:11
  10. Lit. who
  11. Deut. 32:35-36
  12. Lit. a great trial (conflict, struggle) of sufferings
  13. Lit. which has
  14. Hab. 2:3-4
  15. Lit. But we are not of shrinking back to destruction, but of faith to preservation of soul

The Faith that Pleases God

11 Now faith is certainty about things hoped for, and conviction about things unseen. For by it the heroes of old1 won a favorable testimony from God.

Faith in Days of Old

By faith we understand that the worlds were put in place2 by the word of God, so that what is seen did not spring forth from things that are in view.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he won a testimony that he was righteous, God himself bearing witness about his gifts; and because of this, though he is dead, he still speaks.

By faith Enoch was taken up so as not to see death; and he could not be found, because God himself had taken him up.3 For before he was taken up, he gained this testimony: He was pleasing to God. But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned of things as yet unseen, was moved with godly fear and prepared an ark for the saving of his household; and in so doing he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that is based on faith.

The Faith of Abraham

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to leave and go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance. And so he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land of promise as if in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city that has firm foundations,4 whose architect and builder is God.

11 By faith Abraham received strength to beget children5—though Sara herself was barren, and he past the time of life—since he regarded6 him who had promised as faithful. 12 Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, children were born, as abundant as the stars in the sky, and as innumerable as the sands on the seashore.7

Faith, Vision, and Hope

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but seeing and welcoming them from afar, and confessing that they were foreigners and sojourners on the earth. 14 For those who say such things are plainly stating that they seek a homeland. 15 And if in fact they have been thinking of the country they left, they have every opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, which is to say, a heavenly one. And for this reason God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

The Faith of the Patriarchs

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. Indeed, he who received the promises was offering up his one and only8 son18 even though God had said to him,9 “Through Isaac a seed will carry on your name”10 — 19 for he had concluded that God was able even to raise him up from the dead, from which he did indeed receive him back, in a figurative sense. 20 By faith11 Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and he worshiped Godleaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

The Faith of Moses

23 By faith Moses, after being born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing to suffer affliction with God’s people rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach that fell on Christ12 more valuable13 than all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt behind, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he held his course as one who sees what14 is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would do them no harm.15

Faith that Overcomes

29 By faith the people16 passed through the Red Sea as if on dry ground, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do the same, were swallowed up. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who disobeyed,17 for she welcomed the spies in peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, and also of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness,18 obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, received strength in weakness, grew mighty in battle, and put to flight the armies of the invaders. 35 Women received back their dead, raised again to life. Others, however, were tortured, not accepting release so that they might obtain a far better resurrection. 36 Still others were subjected to19 mockeries and floggings, yes, even to chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned and sawn in two20 and slain with the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins. They were destitute, afflicted, and mistreated—38 men of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and hiding in caves and openings in the earth.

39 Now all of these—though winning a favorable testimony due to their faith—did not receive the promise, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they could not be made complete.

Notes

  1. Lit. elders, ancients (i.e. men and women of stature)
  2. Or set in order
  3. Gen. 5:24
  4. Lit. the city having foundations
  5. Lit. for the laying down of seed
  6. Or possibly By faith even Sara herself, though past the time of life, received the ability to conceive, since she regarded
  7. Gen. 15:5; 22:17
  8. Or only begotten
  9. Lit. to (of) whom it was said
  10. Lit. in Isaac a seed will be named for you (Gen. 21:12)
  11. Lit. By faith also
  12. Lit. the reproach of Christ
  13. Lit. greater wealth, riches
  14. Or him who
  15. Or would not touch them
  16. Lit. they
  17. Or disbelieved
  18. Or enforced justice
  19. Lit. received a trial of
  20. Some mss add they were tempted

Endurance in the Race of Faith

12 Since then we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us; and let us run with endurance the race set before us, 2 constantly looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning the shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Discipline, a Mark of Sonship

For consider him who endured such hostility of sinners against himself, so that you yourselves will not grow weary in your souls and give up the race.1 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the shedding of your blood. What’s more, you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as to sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when he corrects you; for those2 whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he chastens3 every son whom he receives to himself.”4

Endure hardship as discipline:5 God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—of which all have become partakers—then you are illegitimate children and not sons at allFurthermore, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we showed them respect; should we not all the more submit to the Father of our spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a few days as seemed best to them, but he for our benefit, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 Now at the time all discipline seems painful rather than joyful; but afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it.

Guidelines for the Faithful

12 So then: Strengthen the hands that droop down, and the knees that grow weak; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the injured limb is not thrown out of joint,6 but instead is healed. 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 Watch over one another so that none of you fall short of the grace of God; so that no poisonous root, springing up among you, causes trouble, and as a result defiles many;7 16 so that there is no sexually immoral or profane person like Esau, who for a single meal sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no room for a change of heart in his father,8 though he begged for it with tears.9

Joy on the Heavenly Zion

18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched, or to a consuming fire, or to blackness and gloom and tempest, 19 or to the blast of a trumpet, or to the sound10 of words such that those who heard it begged that no further word should be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure what was commanded: “If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”11 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that even Moses said, “I am filled with fear and trembling.”12

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God: the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn whose names are recorded in heaven. You have come to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. 24 And you have come to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hope, Fear, and the Unshakeable Kingdom

25 See to it that you do not reject him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has forewarned us all,13 saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but heaven as well.”13 27 Now this expression—“yet once more”—indicates the complete removal of the things that are shaken (that is, created things), so that only the things which cannot be shaken will remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can never be shaken, let us have grace,15 through which we may offer to God an acceptable service of worship, with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Notes

  1. Lit. giving up (fainting)
  2. Lit. for he
  3. Lit. scourges, flogs
  4. Prov. 3:11-12
  5. Or It is for discipline that you endure (hardship)
  6. Or possibly the lame may not be disabled (lit. dislocated)
  7. Lit. through which many are defiled
  8. Lit. he did not find a place of (for) repentance (a change of heart)
  9. Gen. 27:28
  10. Or voice
  11. Ex. 19:12-13
  12. Deut. 9:19
  13. Or promised, announced
  14. Hag. 2:6
  15. Or gratitude

Concluding Directives

13 Let brotherly love continue. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it! Remember the prisoners as if you were in jail with them; and remember those who are mistreated, since you yourselves are also in the body. Let marriage be honored by all, and the bed kept undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Keep your way of life free from the love of money. Be content with what you have, for he himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,”1 so that we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”2                        

Remember those who led you and spoke the word of God to you; and keeping in mind the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Don’t be carried away by all sorts of exotic3 teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace, and not by regulations concerning food,4 which are of no benefit at all to those who observe them.5 10 We have an altar from which those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 For this reason Jesus himself6 suffered outside the gate, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood. 13 So then: Let us go out to him—beyond the camp—bearing the reproach he bore.7 14 For here we have no lasting city, but are seeking the one that is soon to come. 15 Therefore, through him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God: the fruit of our lips confessing his name. 16 But do not neglect to do good and to share with those in need; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as men who will give an account. Let them do so with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be injurious8 to you.

18 Pray for us! For we are confident that we have a clear conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19 And I urge you to pray9 all the more, so that I might be restored to you soon.

Benediction, Exhortation, and Farewell

20 Now may the God of peace who through the blood of the everlasting covenant brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep—Jesus our Lord— 21 equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us all that10 is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 Now I appeal to you, brothers: Bear with this word of exhortation, for in fact I have only written you in brief.

23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he comes to me soon, he will be with me when I see you again.

24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you their greetings.

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Notes

  1. Deut. 31:6,8; Josh. 1:5
  2. Ps. 118:6
  3. Lit. new, unheard of, foreign
  4. Lit. not by foods
  5. Or who are preoccupied with them; lit. which do not benefit those who walk in them
  6. Lit also
  7. Lit. his reproach, abuse
  8. Or harmful; lit. disadvantageous
  9. Lit. to do this
  10. Lit. that which