Book Of Hebrews, RCW Version

The Letter to the Hebrews

A Personal Translation, Paragraph Form.

RCW 3.1.24

 

Note: The original text did not have capital letters, punctuation marks or even spaces between words sentences or paragraphs. If this was composed in Hebrew, it would not have even had any vowels! Please consider this modern English version as mere commentary. Implied words are not identified.

1

God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets in various quantities and methods.

Today, in these ‘last days’, God speaks to us through His Son, Whom God appointed the Heir of all things, through Whom God establishes the ‘Ages’. This is Jesus, Who exudes honor and character based on the foundation of God, plus He holds all the executive authority of God in Himself, cleansing us from our sins, and is seated in the highest place at the right hand of God, The Majesty.  He became far superior to the angels, and He has acquired a more excellent reputation.  To which angel did God ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have fathered You’? Or ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He will be a Son to Me’? Also, when God brought the Firstborn into the place inhabited by humans, God commanded all His angels to worship the Firstborn.  God says about the angels, ‘He makes His angels as powerful as wind, and His officials as powerful as blazing fire.’ Yet, to the Son, God says, “Your Throne, O God, endures for ages and ages. The ‘rod’ of Your kingdom is righteousness. (God still speaking) Because You (Jesus) love justice, and You hate lawlessness, God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joyfulness beyond all Your peers. You, LORD (Jesus), at the start, founded the earth, and You crafted the heavens by hand. The heavens will perish, but You will continue. Everything will grow old, like a coat. And as clothing is rolled up, so the heavens will be changed, yet You are unchanged, You will not run out of years.” To which of the angels did God say, “You sit at My right hand, until I put all of Your enemies beneath Your feet”? Are not all of them ministering spirits, appointed to serve those about to live in the allotment of salvation?

 

2

 

Because of these things, we have an even stronger requirement to obey the teaching we have heard from the Apostles, to prevent our drifting away from the truth. For if the message spoken by angels was confirmed, and every misstep and disobedience was justly punished, how can we escape judgment if we neglect this superior salvation which was started with the words (teachings) of our Master and was confirmed to us by eyewitnesses?

God confirmed their words with signs and miracles, and various powerful actions, and the distribution of the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own choice. For God has not put the inhabited earth under submission to angels, which we are talking about. Yet, someone testified somewhere saying “What is man, that You think about him, or the Son of man, that You watch over Him? You made Him slightly inferior to angels. You have given Him the ‘victor’s crown’ of honor and glory and You put Him over the works of Your hands. You subject everything under His feet and have left nothing that is not subject to Him.”

But, as of now, we do not yet see everything in subjection. Yet we do see Jesus, who was made slightly inferior to angels, given the victor’s crown of glory and honor because of His intense emotional suffering in death, so that by the grace of God, Jesus would experience death for the sake of each man.  It was necessary, that He, the Trailblazer of their salvation, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, while bringing many sons into glory, should become mature through intense emotional sufferings. So, He (Jesus) Who makes holy, and those being made holy, are united. He is not ashamed to call them brothers. He said, “I will declare Your (God’s) name to My brothers, in the gatherings of the Church I will sing hymns of praise to You (God).” He says again, “I will put my trust in God.”  And again, He says, “…look, I and the children God has given Me.”

Therefore, since the children lived in flesh and blood, He also lived in flesh and blood so that by dying in the flesh He could nullify the Accuser, who has the power of death, and set free those who, all their lives, were easily enslaved because of their fear of death. It is certain that Jesus did not possess an angelic nature but assumed the nature of the descendants of Abraham. It was necessary that He become like the brothers in all things, so that He would be a  merciful and faithful High Priest to God, to satisfy the demands of the Law concerning the sins of men. Since He was tested in His intense emotional suffering, He can assist those being tested.

 

3

 

Therefore, holy  brothers, who share the celestial calling, consider Christ Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our covenant. Jesus was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all his household. Jesus was considered worthy of more glory than Moses, in the same way that a builder is honored more than the house he built. Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of all things. Moses was a faithful servant in his whole house, and his spiritual biography was recorded and spoken of as an example. But Christ was like a Son over His own house, Whose house we are, if we boldly confirm our confident hope until the end of our lives.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says in the scriptures, “If you hear His voice today, do not harden your hearts, as they did when they provoked God, during the day of testing in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me and were familiar with My actions for forty years. Therefore, I was disgusted with that generation, and said ‘Their hearts always stray. They do not know My ways.’ So, in My indignation, I made an oath that they will not enter My rest.”

Beware brothers, lest there be in any of you a wicked, unbelieving heart that strays from the living God. Exhort each other every day, while it is still called ‘today’,  so that none of you becomes hardened by the seduction of sin. For we will become partners with Christ, if we retain our original understanding until the end, while it is still being said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, like they did when they made God bitter toward them.” For some, but not all, who came out of Egypt with Moses, heard God, and provoked Him. So, who was He grieved with those forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And who was the object of His oath, that they should not enter His rest? It was those that did not believe. We see that they did not enter because of their unbelief.

 

4

 

Since the promise of entering God’s rest was left for us, let us be afraid that any one of us might seem deficient in belief. The ‘good word’ was brought to us, even as it was to them (our ancestors).  But hearing the spoken word gave no benefit to those who did not ‘merge’ faith with it. We who believe are entering His rest, as God said: “I have made an oath in My wrath, they will not enter My rest”, although His works were completed after the ‘seed casting’ creation of the universe. For He spoke concerning the seventh day, “…and God rested on the seventh day from all His works.” And again, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since some have yet to enter this rest, and since those who went before us heard the ‘good word’ and failed to enter because of stubborn skepticism, He again specifies a certain Day. He says in the writings of David, “Today”, after such a long time, as it has already been said, “Today, if you hear the sound of His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, David would not have spoken of another Day. So there remains a Sabbath Day of rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest, has also ceased working, as God did. Let us be diligent to enter that rest, that no one should fall from the same stubborn skepticism as those others. For the Word of God is alive and energetic, and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating and parting both soul and spirit, as joints and spine, judging the feelings and thoughts of the core of our being, neither is there any creature hidden from His sight. Everything and everyone is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.

So, having a great High Priest, One that has traveled through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, we will strongly hold our vow. We do not have a High Priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, He was always being tempted like we are, yet He did not sin.  So, let us be confident as we approach the Throne of Grace, that we will receive mercy and grace, and find assistance at the right time.

 

 

5

 

Every High Priest appointed among men is put in charge of the worship of God, to present offerings and sacrifices for sins. He can feel lenient toward the ignorant and those who are straying since he also lives in a body limited by weakness, and the High Priest must offer sacrifices for his own sins, as he does for others. No man assumes this honor for himself, it is only for men who are called by God, as was Aaron.

Likewise, Christ did not seek to be made a High Priest, but God said to Him, “You are My Son, today I have generated You.” And God says in another scripture, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” When Jesus was in the flesh, He offered up requests for His own needs with evidences of sincerity, to the One able to save Him out of death (by resurrection), with strong crying and tears. His offering was heard because He was ‘very cautious to do good’. Though He is a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (lit: emotioned, felt) and having thus ‘matured’, He became the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him. God called Him out by name, in the assembly of heaven, and stated: “This is the High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Concerning Melchizedek, we have much to say, but it is hard to explain so that you could understand, since you have become lazy listeners. By this time you should be teachers, but you need someone to reteach you the individual elements of the oracles of God one at a time. You again need ‘spiritual milk’ and not ‘solid spiritual food’ for everyone still on ‘milk’ is untested in the word of righteousness. Spiritually, he is still a small child. Yet ‘solid spiritual food’ is for those whose senses are trained to discern both the beautiful good, and the worthless evil. 

 

6

 

Moving on from the original basic message about the Christ, we should move toward maturity. We will not repeat the foundation of repentance from dead actions, reliance on God, teachings about baptisms, teaching about placing hands on men to approve them and set them apart for service, about the resurrection of those who are dead, and about eternal judgment. And we will do this later, if God allows us to.

It is impossible for those who have been enlightened by the Christ,  and have experienced (lit. had a taste) of the celestial gift, and experienced the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the ‘ideal goodness’ of the words of God, and the powerful abilities of the age to come; if they fall aside from the way, it is impossible for them to be renewed to repentance. They would be crucifying the Son of God again, publicly shaming Him. When soil absorbs the water that often falls on it and produces the healthy plants for those who planted them, the farmer is receiving a blessing from God. But soil that produces thorns and thistles is rejected and almost considered cursed and may be burned.

We are persuaded of better things from you, concerning the salvation we are talking about, for God is not unjust. He will not forget your hard work and the labors of love which you have openly done in Jesus’ name, when you served the holy ones among us and as you continue to serve.  We desire that each of you display the same diligence with full assurance of hope to the end of your lives so that none will be spiritually lazy, but that you may become imitators of the ones who through faith and patience will enjoy their portion of the promises.

For, when God made His promise to Abraham, because there is no one greater for Him to swear by, He made the oath to Himself saying, “Surely, I will bless you and exponentially multiply you.” And so, Abraham, after he had patiently endured, he ‘obtained’ the promise. For men swear by one who is greater than themselves, and the confirmation of an oath ends every argument. Therefore God, wanting to emphasize the immutability of His promise to those who will benefit from the promise, confirmed it with an oath, so that, by two immutable things, God’s oath and His inability to lie, we who have sought refuge by holding on to the Hope which is before us, might have strong comfort. This hope is like an anchor to the soul, secure and confirmed, which enters the interior holy place behind the veil; for our sake, Jesus made a path for us to follow. He entered, becoming the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, for eternity.

 

7

 

This Melchizedek, King of Salem, Priest of the Highest God, the same one that met Abraham as he returned from the battle with the kings, blessed Abraham. And Abraham gave to Melchizedek one tenth of the spoils from the battle. Melchizedek means ‘righteous king’. He was also ‘king of Salem’ which means ‘king of peace.’ Melchizedek is described without mention of a father or mother, and without descendants. He is described without a beginning or end of life, making him an illustration of the Son of God Who remains a priest to the final conclusion.

Consider how distinguished was this one, to whom the  patriarch Abraham gave one tenth of the plunder from the war. Indeed, the sons of Levi obtained the priestly office, and are instructed in the Law to receive one tenth of the income of the people, their brothers, even though they are descendants of Abraham. Yet one who was not a descendant of Levi received one tenth from Abraham, and then blessed Abraham, the one who received the promises of God. Yet it is uncontested that it is the lessor who is blessed by the superior. Today, men that will die receive ‘tithes’, but Melchizedek received one tenth, yet the implication is that he is alive. So, I may say that Levi, who received the ‘one tenths’ also gave one tenth to Melchizedek by Abraham. Levi was ‘present’ in Abraham who had not yet fathered him, when Abraham was met by Melchizedek.

If maturity came through the Levitical priesthood, (for the people received the Law by it), why would there be a need for another priest to rise after the order of Melchizedek, instead of rising from the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is transferred, there is also of necessity a transference to a new  law. For Melchizedek, of whom these things are said, is from a different tribe, which has never had an altar attendant.

It is well-known that our Lord Jesus arose out of Judah. Moses said nothing about Judah concerning the Priesthood.  It is even more evident, that another Priest like Melchizedek will arise: One Who is made a priest, not according to the law by heritage, but according to the power of a permanent, indestructible and unending life. For God testified, saying “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Indeed, the earlier instruction is nullified, because it is unstable due to mortal weakness and without lasting benefit.  For the Law of Moses made nothing completely mature, but bringing in a better hope does make complete, and by it we may approach God.

Jesus was made a priest, but not without an oath. Levites become priests without an oath, but Jesus became a priest by the oath of God who said to Him: “The LORD has sworn and oath, and will not withdraw it, saying: ‘You, Jesus are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’” So, according to the guarantee of a much better covenant, Jesus was made a priest.

There indeed were many priests, for death prevented them from continuing. But this One, remaining forever, has a priesthood that cannot be made void by death. Therefore, Jesus can completely save those coming to God through Himself, for He is always alive, and interceding, pleading for their sake. Our High Priest is One Who is gentle, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and was raised higher than the heavens. Jesus does not need to offer up sacrifices for His own sins daily, like the other High Priests, and then sacrifice for the sins of the people. He did this once and for all time, when He offered Himself up for sacrifice. The Law makes mortal men High Priests, but the word of The Oath, which came after the Law, makes the Son, who is forever complete, to be The High Priest.

 

8

 

To summarize what we have said: this is Jesus, our Highest Priest, Whose throne is at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. He is the Administrator of the holy things, and of the true tabernacle in Heaven, built by the Lord, not by man. Every High Priest is established to present gifts and sacrifices, and it is necessary for Him to also have something to offer. If He were on the earth, He would not be a priest, since there are still priests that offer gifts according to the law. The service of these earthly priests is an example, a shadow’s shape of the things in Heaven. When Moses was preparing to build the Tabernacle, God directed him saying: “Be careful to make each item according to the form of the things you were shown when you were on the mountain.”

But now, Jesus has acquired a different and better administrative role since He is the Mediator of a better covenant, established on better promises. For if the first covenant had been flawless, no place for a second covenant would have been sought. But blaming our forefathers, God says: “Look, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt. They did not continue in My covenant, so I ignored them, says the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their understanding, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be a God to them, and they shall be a nation to Me. They will not teach the person next to them, and each man to his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord!’ for everyone will know Me, from the smallest of them to the greatest of them. I will be merciful to them in their unrighteousness, and I will not be reminded of their sins and lawlessness again.” When God says: ‘a new covenant’ He is declaring the first to be obsolete. Even now it is becoming obsolete and decaying and is close to disappearing completely.

 

9

 

The first covenant had regulations for worship and a physical sanctuary. First, they built a tabernacle, and the interior room beyond the first veil was called ‘Holy’. It contained the Menorah (lampstand), the Table, and the Showbread. After the second veil, was the inner room called the ‘holiest holy place’. In it was the Golden Incense Censer (holder), and the Ark of the Covenant, which was completely covered with gold. Inside the Ark was the Gold Urn containing a sample of Manna, Aaron’s Rod which had budded, and the Stone Tablets of the Covenant. Above the Ark were Cherubim of Glory shading the ‘Mercy Seat’ which was the top of the Ark. We cannot discuss these particular things now.

When these things had been constructed, the priests continually went into the first room of the Tabernacle performing their required acts of worship. But only the High Priest would enter past the second veil, and he would only do so once a year on Yom Kippur. This was always with an offering of blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing that the way into the Holiest Holy Place was not yet revealed, while the first room of the Tabernacle was still standing.

This was a parable for that age when both gifts and sacrifices were offered which could not bring to complete maturity the conscience of the one making the sacrifice. These actions concern only food, drink, various washings, and rules for the body of flesh, imposed on the people until the season of reformation.  But with Christ becoming the High Priest of impending good things, by a greater and more complete tabernacle, not made by human hands, not fabricated of natural materials.

He entered the Holy Places only one time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His ownblood. This is how He found the eternal redemption that He sought  for us. For if sprinkling a defiled person with the blood of bulls and the ashes of a young female cow will make human flesh holy, cleansing it, how much more will the Blood of Christ, Who by the eternal Spirit, offered Himself as a flawless sacrifice to God, cleanse our conscience and end our lifeless efforts, so that we will serve the living God?

Because of this, Jesus is the Mediator of this New Covenant, that by His death (for the release of the consequences of our having crossed the boundaries set by the first covenant), the ones having been called will enjoy their promised allotment eternally because where there is a covenant (like a ‘last will and testament’) the person making the covenant must die. For a covenant is confirmed and takes effect only after its maker is dead. It has no effect while the person who made the covenant is alive. Even the first covenant was not initiated without blood.

When Moses had spoken every precept of the Law to all the people, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop and sprinkled the scroll and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you.” And Moses sprinkled the Tabernacle and all the items used in its ministry with blood. According to the Law, almost everything is cleansed by blood, since apart from bloodshed (death) there is no pardon. It was necessary for those things patterned after the things in the heavens to be purified this way,  but the heavenly things must be purified by better sacrifices than these.

Christ did not enter into manmade holy places, modeled on the true Holy Place, but into Heaven itself, and now appears in God’s presence on our behalf. He does not need to repeat His self-sacrifice, as the High Priest did every year with blood that was not his own. Otherwise, Christ must have to have suffered many times since the beginning of the world. However, now, at the end of the ages, He was revealed one time, to neutralize sin through His own sacrifice. One death is reserved for each person, then he is judged, so Christ was sacrificed once to bear the sins of many.  To those awaiting salvation He will be seen a second time, but not for the purpose of suffering for sin again.

 

10

 

The Law is like a silhouette of good things to come, not the true image of them. It can never make those who come to God through its yearly sacrifices completely mature. If it could, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, having been cleansed, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices, sins are remembered each year because it is not possible for the blood of bulls and male goats to eliminate sins. 

Therefore, concerning His entrance into the world, the pre-incarnate Jesus said to God, “You do not desire sacrifice and offerings, but You have prepared a body for Me.  You do not enjoy ‘whole burnt for sin.” And Jesus continued: “Then I said, ‘Look, I am arriving. At the beginning of the scroll it is written of Me, “I am coming to do Your will, O God.”’” And going further, He said “You do not want nor enjoy sacrifice and offerings and whole burnt offerings for sin, offered according to the Law.” Then Jesus said, “See! I come to do Your will, O God.” Jesus takes away the first order that He may establish the second order. So, it is by the will of God we are made holy by the offering of the body of Christ Jesus once for all.

Every priest stands daily serving and presenting the same sacrifices many times, which can never remove sins. But this One, Jesus, after He had offered a single and final sacrifice for sins, now sits at the right hand of God. He is waiting for the rest of His enemies to be placed under His footstool. By His single offering, He brought to permanent and complete maturity all those who were made holy by it.

But the Holy Spirit is also witnessing to us, for after the pre-incarnate Jesus said this, the Holy Spirit said through Jeremiah: “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 and I will no longer be reminded of their sins and lawless actions.” Now, where these are forgiven, there is no longer any offering for sin.

So, brothers, since boldly enter heaven’s holiest place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He initiated for us through the veil of His flesh. So, having a High Priest over the House of God we may approach God with a true heart, assured by faith, with our hearts sprinkled by the blood of Jesus to end our burdensome bad conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water.

Let us hold our profession of the hope of our faith without bending, for the One making the promise is faithful. Let us be thinking about how to encourage each other to love and to good works, not neglecting the gatherings, as some do by habit, but encourage each other concerning the faith,  and do so increasingly as you observe the Day of Judgment getting closer. Because if we sin voluntarily after we have received knowledge of the Truth, there is no additional sacrifice for our sins, there is only a fearful anticipation of judgment and furious fire which will consume those who oppose God.  

Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses dies without mercy after the witness of two or three witnesses. Can you imagine how much worse a punishment will be deserved by anyone who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, has considered the blood of the covenant which had made him holy to be ordinary blood, and has outraged the Spirit of Grace? We are acquainted with the One that said “‘Vengeance belongs to Me! I will repay,’ says the Lord.” And “the Lord will judge His Own people.” To fall into the hands of the Living God is terrifying.

Remember the earlier days after you were enlightened, when you often endured sufferings because of the contest. You were laughed at in public, with insults and tribulations, and you were companions to others who were similarly mistreated. You had sympathy toward me when I was jailed. You joyfully accepted the theft of your possessions, for you know that you have a better and permanent possession in Heaven.

Do not discard your boldness, it will be greatly rewarded. You need patience, so that after doing God’s will, you will receive what was promised. After just a little while, the Coming One will arrive, without delay. “The just one lives by faith. If one becomes timid My soul will not be pleased with him.” But we do not timidly retreat resulting in destruction, but we have faith for the whole preservation of our souls.

 

11

 

Faith concerning events not yet observed, when based on confirmation by testing, is the foundation of hope.

Our elders were known to have faith. In faith we understand that the eons were adjusted appropriately by the Word of God, so that the invisible became visible.

By faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain. The testimony concerning Abel is that he was righteous, since God accepted his gifts. So, Abel, though dead, still speaks to us by the example of his faith. By faith, Enoch was transported directly to heaven without having died. He was no longer found on earth because God had transferred him. Before he was taken, Enoch had this reputation, that he had pleased God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. A person approaching God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who search for Him.

By faith Noah, when informed by God concerning future events not yet observed, built the Ark to save his own household because he feared God properly. By building the Ark, he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when God told him to leave his homeland and go to a land that he would inherit. He left his home, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land of promise as an alien in a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise. Abraham was looking for a city founded, designed, and built by God.

By faith, Sarah also received the ability to conceive a child, and gave birth to a child when she was past her ‘prime season’ because she considered the One making the promise to be reliable. So, fathered by one who was practically dead, came descendants as innumerable as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand by the sea.

All these died, still believing, before receiving what was promised. But, imagining the distant future, they were persuaded and embraced the promises, and admitted that they were foreigners, temporary residents in the land. By saying this, they reveal that they are seeking a fatherland of their own. Indeed, if they were longing for their original homeland, they had an opportunity to return.  Yet now they long for a better country, a celestial one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

By faith, when Abraham was tested, he offered up Isaac. He who received the promises offered up his only generated son. This is the son of whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants will be called.” Abraham reasoned that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. He received him back, as a parable.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning the future. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped God while leaning on the end of his staff. By faith Joseph, when dying, spoke to the departing sons of Israel, asking them to remember his instructions about his bones.

By faith Moses, at his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they could tell that the little boy was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s mandate. By faith Moses, as an adult, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, instead, he preferred to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin. Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater than the stored treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the future reward. By faith he abandoned Egypt, he feared the fury of the king but was not defeated by dread. He held firm to the One Who is invisible.  By faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, so that the one exterminating the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians tried it, they drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they were circled for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab did not die with the stubborn unbelievers, because she received the spies with peace. 

What more do I need to say? There is not enough time for me to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith subdued kingdoms, acted righteously, received promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fires, escaped the edge of the sword, in weakness were empowered, became strong in battle, and repelled the invaders. Women received their loved ones resurrected from death. Others were repeatedly beaten.  They refused release, so that they might receive a better resurrection.

Others were tested by ‘gleeful scoffers’ and by scourgings, and many more experienced bondage and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, cut in two with saws, tempted, or murdered with a sword. They wandered in the skins of sheep and goats, destitute, denied freedom; tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered through deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground.

And all of these, whose faith has been observed and recorded, did not receive what waspromised. God has something better for us to look forward to, for they will not be completed until we join them.

 

12

 

Therefore, seeing that we have so vast a cloud of witnesses lying all around us in the graves surrounding Jerusalem, let us drop every weight and sin which hinders us. Let us run with endurance in the contest before us, looking to Jesus, the Trailblazer of our faith. It is He Who matures us, Who for the joy ahead of Him, endured the cross, not thinking much about the shame, Who is now seated to the right of God’s throne.   

Consider the One Who endured intense contradiction by sinners, so that your souls do not become fatigued and go slack. In the fight against sin, your resistance has not yet resulted in the loss of blood.  And you have been oblivious to the strong admonition, which says to you as sons, “My son, do not ignore the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when He exposes you. The Lord disciplines those He loves. He punishes every son that He accepts.” If you endure discipline, God is treating you as sons, for what father does not discipline his own sons? But if you are not disciplined like everyone else, then you are not true sons, you are illegitimate. We had human fathers who disciplined us, and we responded to them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of spirits, and live?

For a few days our fathers disciplined us as they saw fit, but God disciplines us for our benefit, so that we will be molded into His holiness. At the time, discipline seems to only cause grief, but later it produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those disciplined. Therefore, make the limp hands and weak knees firm. Make a safe straight and level path for your feet, so that which is lame will not go out of joint, but instead may be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness necessary to see and perceive the Lord.

Focus on this so that no one lacks the grace of God. Do not let bitterness take root and sprout and by its disturbance many become defiled, so that none of you will be like Esau, who was unfit and immoral. He sold his birthright for food like a male prostitute. We know that later, when he wanted the inheritance of the blessing of Jacob, he was rejected. His repentance was rejected, even though he sought for the inheritance with tears.

For you have not approached Mt Sinai, a mountain that can be touched, that had been burned with fire. Nor have you approached thick clouds and darkness and whirlwinds, and a blaring trumpet, and the sound of proclamations which those who heard refused to hear any more of them. They could not bear the command, that if even an animal touched the mountain, it must be killed with stones or shot down with arrows. The spectacle was so frightening that Moses said, “I am terrified and shaking.” But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the Living God, the Celestial Jerusalem, and to many tens of thousands of angels, to the full assembly of the church of the firstborn, registered in writing in the heavens, and to God the Judge of everyone, and to the spirits of righteous men completely matured and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkling of His blood which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Be careful not to refuse what He says. If those who refused Moses who spoke on earth did not escape, we will not escape from Him Who speaks from the heavens, Whose voice shook the ground. But now He has promised, saying: “Once more I will shake not only the earth but the sky also.” This phrase ‘once more’ implies that the things shaken are removed, only those things that cannot be shaken will remain. Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be full of grace, through which we may please God with our worship, with modesty and careful discretion, for our God is an all-consuming fire.

13

 

Remain affectionate toward the brothers. Remember to give lodging to strangers. Some did not know their guests were angels. Remember the prisoners for the faith as if you were with them in prison. And remember those who suffer physical mistreatment, for you also have a body of flesh. Marriage is always honorable, and the marriage bed is pure. God will judge prostitutes and adulterers. Live your life without greed. Be content with what you currently own; for Jesus said, “I will never leave you or abandon you.” We can boldly say, “The Lord helps me, why should I be afraid of what a human may do to me?”

Remember those who lead you, who have spoken the Word of God to you. Carefully observe the results of their behavior, imitate their faith. Christ Jesus is the same yesterday and today, and to the Eons.

Do not be distracted by various and foreign teachings. The ideal is for grace to establish your heart, not foods. Preoccupation with food does not benefit you spiritually. Those who serve in the tabernacle (Temple) do not have the authority to eat from the altar that we have. The sacrificed animals whose blood the High Priest carries into the sanctuary for sin offerings are burned to ashes outside the camp. Jesus also, in order that He would make people holy with His Own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, we go to Him, outside the camp, and carry His reproach.

We do not have a permanent city here; we seek the one to come. So, through Jesus we offer praise, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to God’s name, as a sacrifice to God continually.

Do not forget to do good deeds, stay in close fellowship with each other, God is pleased with such sacrifices.

Have confidence in those leading you and submit to them. They are vigilant concerning your souls and they must give an account. It would be to your disadvantage if they had to do this with grief and not with joy. 

Pray concerning us, for we are confident that our conscience is good. In all things we choose to behave well. But more importantly, pray that I may be more quickly returned to you.

Now may the God of peace, Who brought our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, back from the dead, through the blood of the eternal covenant; may He equip you for every good deed to accomplish His will, working in you that which is pleasing in God’s sight through Christ Jesus, and to Him be the glory for ever and ever, Amen!

I beg you, brothers, be patient with this message of encouragement, for I write this letter to you in ‘bits and pieces’. Know that our brother Timothy has been released, and if he comes soon, I will see you then. Greet all those leading you, and all who are holy. Those in Italy greet you. Grace be with you all. Amen