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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom — Colossians 3:16a

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Recent research tells us that just over a quarter of the American population considers itself Evangelical Protestant Christian. That is a far cry from where we’ve come. To what may we attribute such decline? Undoubtedly, at least one reason is a decline in knowing God. The question is, then, How does one come to know God? The answer is, God has graciously chosen to reveal Himself through the pages of the Holy Bible. In these last days, Bible exploration is the means that God has provided for us to know Him. We at LifeWay feel the burden to help people know the LORD. Consequently, we’ve designed Explore the Bible to give people the opportunity to study God’s Word book-by-book. As we begin this new cycle of study, Explore the Bible is expanding to provide the unique approach of book-by-book Bible studies for groups of all ages—babies through adults. Imagine immersing your entire church, all your groups, everyone in the family in dynamic textbased Bible exploration, probing study questions, and interactive discussions about the most important message to humanity. Consider the commands of the Bible to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly”; to hide God’s Word in your heart; and to meditate on it day and night. Join us on this fantastic journey to know the LORD. Explore the Bible. To the glory of God alone,

Toby Jennings Managing Editor

Everyone needs an opportunity to study the Bible. In it, we find the truth about ourselves, about God’s love for us, and the forgiveness for sin available through His Son. It was through reading the Bible that I understood my need for a Savior and that Christ alone could meet that need. Someone made sure I had a Bible and that I understood what I was reading. The Bible study group I attended used what is now Explore the Bible as a guide for our study time. Everyone—searchers, maturing believers, those on the fringe—needs to study the Bible. Explore the Bible has a rich history that carries strong expectations. As we have looked toward the Fall of 2014, we have sought to build and learn from that rich history, so we can create a resource that meets the challenges and demands of today. We look forward to seeing how God uses Explore the Bible to impact our culture for the cause of Christ. In His service,

G. Dwayne McCrary Adult Team Leader

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Expanding to Groups Book-by-book study for all ages. Each week, adults and students study the same passage of Scripture while kids study the same concept in the same book, incorporating related narrative from throughout the Bible to create a kid-friendly lesson. Memory verse for all ages. A Bible memory verse helps everyone from babies to adults dwell together on each week’s concept.

Helps your groups

STUDY THE TEXT IN ITS CONTEXT Each study is developed to help your groups understand the Bible passage within the framework of the Bible book and how it relates to the whole Bible.

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE Comments and questions included to help everyone in the group understand the meaning of the Bible passage.

VERSE 2b

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT In the Book of Hebrews, the picture of Jesus Christ is clarified in no uncertain terms. In the first few sentences of his letter, the biblical writer addressed a variety of issues by underscoring the superiority of Jesus Christ in the lives of believers. He gave a clear description of who Jesus is. His words encourage all believers to hold fast to their faith in the exalted Christ. The Book of Hebrews was written to a group of Christians during a time of tremendous success for the gospel that led to growing persecution. The apostles of the crucified and resurrected Christ had gone everywhere preaching the good news of salvation through Him. They faithfully shared the gospel, led people to Christ, and planted churches throughout the Roman Empire. Those who had professed faith in Christ were beginning to experience the backlash of persecution. This persecution would either make them trust Jesus more, or it would pressure them to walk away from their confession of Christ as Lord. The writer of Hebrews urged his readers to work through the crisis and endure in their faith. How is the cultural context for the first readers of Hebrews similar to that of Christians today? How is it different?

The writer didn’t identify himself by name in the epistle. Based on a number of factors, including the epistle’s pastoral nature, excellent grammar, and Old Testament themes, Bible scholars have proposed names such as Paul, Luke, Apollos, or Barnabas. Certainly we can speak with confidence about the writer’s spiritual depth. He was a divinely inspired Christian leader with a passionate concern for believers. Neither are the first recipients of Hebrews identified by name or place in the epistle. Suggestions include a congregation of believers living in or near a city such as Rome, Jerusalem, or Antioch in Syria. From the themes in the epistle we can discern that at least some of the first readers were Jewish Christians. They had become confused about Jesus. They were disillusioned by persecution and were tempted to consider a retreat from Christianity. S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

First, the writer pointed out that Christ is the appointed … heir of all things. This phrase alludes to Psalm 2:8, where the psalmist foretold that the Messianic King from the family line of King David would be given the ends of the earth. Jesus fulfilled this Scripture! He is the King in David’s line whose inheritance includes everything that exists. As the second truth will show, this first truth doesn’t mean there was ever a time when God’s Son didn’t own everything. Rather, it emphasizes the unique, eternal relationship between the Son and the Father, a relationship that no Old Testament prophet or human king shared. Second, the writer of Hebrews stated that Christ is the One through whom God made the universe. Jesus is the Divine Agent of both revelation and creation. In other words, Jesus is the One through whom God spoke as well as the One through whom He created. This truth also is emphasized in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16. Jesus is the Heir of all things precisely because He was with God in the beginning as the Agent of creation.

HEBREWS 1:2b

God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.

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LEADER GUIDE

(From PSG, p. 17): What does Jesus’ existence before creation say to you about His superiority over the Old Testament prophets?

VERSE 3

Perhaps no other single verse in Scripture reveals more than this verse about the Person and the work of Jesus Christ. Using just 30 words (in the Greek text), the biblical writer unlocked a storehouse of theological treasure. We learn about Jesus’ unique nature, His Deity, His sustaining power over the universe, His accomplishment as the perfect Sacrifice, and His exaltation forever as Lord. All of this treasure is in one verse! The third truth the writer of Hebrews declared about Jesus is that He is the radiance of God’s glory. This phrase means that to see Jesus Christ is to see the glory of God. Think of the sun and the light it emits. In essence the two entities are of the same substance, yet their form and function are distinct—though unified. Similarly, to say that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory emphasizes that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons of the Godhead. At the same time, they are co-equal in their essential being (their divine nature) and are completely unified in their work. Theologically, then, this phrase reveals that Jesus is God. He is God the Son. This is who He is, has been, and will be throughout all eternity. Fourth, the biblical writer stated that the Son is the exact expression of God’s nature and being. In ancient times, coins were formed by pressing a die, or stamp, onto a piece of metal made soft by heating. As the die was pressed like a cookie-cutter into the softened metal, it left the image of the die in the metal. Although the die and the coin are distinct, to see the coin is to see the die. Once when Philip asked Jesus to show the Father to the disciples, Jesus responded by declaring that to see Him was to see the Father (see John 14:8-9). Jesus is God just as the Father is God.

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HEBREWS 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

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S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

Biblical exposition provided to help the Bible study leader gain deeper insight into the Bible passage.

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Reading Plan A reading plan is included for the Bible book or books being studied that will be included in resources for people of all ages. 4

Every verse of the Bible is read. Gain greater understanding of the biblical context.


FALL 2014 ENHANCEMENTS

of All Ages INFLUENCED BY CHRISTIAN LEADERS Each study is developed with the help of a Christian leader recognized for his commitment to teaching the Bible. David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, George Guthrie, Jim Shaddix, Afshin Ziafat, Gregg Matte, Vance Pitman, and Bryan Loritts will be serving as general editors for the first eight studies.

OBEY THE TEXT IN YOUR CONTEXT Every session leads to application so that each person is moved toward being transformed into the likeness of Christ, being challenged by leaders to practice God’s truth in everyday life.

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE In My Context challenges everyone to apply the biblical truth in their life context.

Session

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IN MY CONTEXT Jesus is the full and final revelation of God to humanity. Through Him, we can understand God’s character and the gospel message. As God reveals Himself to us, we can share that truth with others. What situations tempt you to reconsider your confession of Christ? How do these verses address your situation?

How has God been revealing His Word to you in the past month? What actions are you taking as a result?

Who Is Jesus? As God’s Son, Jesus revealed God finally and without equal.

HEBREWS 1:1-4 MEMORY VERSE: Hebrews 1:2a

What can we do as a group to create an environment that fosters the open sharing of truths God reveals to us?

LEADER GUIDE

PREPARE TO LEAD THE GROUP TIME READ Hebrews 1:1-14 and “Understand the Context” (page 14). View the video introduction of Hebrews by David Jeremiah at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible. STUDY Hebrews 1:1-4 using the commentary provided on pages 15-19. As you study, list and define the ways Jesus is described by the writer of Hebrews. Consult the Explore The Bible

MEMORY VERSE In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. —Hebrews 1:2a

Adult Commentary (available in both print and digital format from LifeWay.com) PLAN the group time using the ideas under Participate on pages 20-21, More Ideas on page 22, ideas included in QuickSource, and ideas included on Lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible. GATHER THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: Personal Study Guides, Pack Items:

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sheet of paper and markers. Prepare to display the following

Pack Item 1 (Map),

Pack Item 4 (Timeline), and (Memory Verses).

Pack Item 2 (Outline), Pack Item 5 (Hebrews 1:3).

Pack Item 3 (Poster), Make copies of Pack Item 19

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A Group Bible Study plan that moves people to understand the Bible passage with a view to applying the Bible in their lives.

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What to look for:

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE FLEXIBLE USE ®

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Sessions are numbered rather than dated for greater flexibility; start a study whenever you want or use it any day of the week. Suggested usage dates will be included on the table of contents.

SCRIPTURE EMPHASIZED The Bible text to be studied appears at the beginning of each session; a focused amount of Scripture helps you dig deep.

JOURNALING ENCOURAGED Journaling space is included so participants can make a plan to act on what they’ve learned— here’s the passage, here’s the truth, what will they do with it?

BIBLE SKILL DEVELOPMENT Dwell in the Word through word studies, cross-references, character studies, Scripture memorization challenges, and more through the Bible Study Skills feature.

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Session

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Who Is Jesus?

SCRIPTURE Bible text to be examined given prominence as a reminder of why the group comes together in the first place.

As God’s Son, Jesus revealed God finally and without equal.

HEBREWS 1:1-4 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His 1

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Shown at 80% scale

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powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs. Observe the time references in 1:1-2a. What did God do both in the past and in the last days? What was different about His action in the two times?

OBSERVATION Observation questions to help group participants focus on key words, phrases, and themes in the verses being examined.

FIRST THOUGHTS Helps group participants understand why this passage is important today.

Observe the descriptors (nouns) in 1:2b-4 that tell who Jesus is. Now observe the action words (verbs) that tell what Jesus did. What pictures or thoughts do these words bring to your mind?

FIRST THOUGHTS The biblical portrait of the exalted Christ is foreign to our culture. Pastor David Jeremiah describes the dilemma this way: “Never has the biblical Jesus been dragged through the mud like He is in this current culture.� One result of this cultural shift is that opponents of Christianity have become more vocal and powerful. They work to outlaw Christian teachings as hate speech or try to depict all Christians as out of touch bigots who deserve nothing but scorn. As a result of these hostile efforts, the pressure on Christians in our day has become more intense. In some cases, believers guard against offending others and hesitate when asked about their beliefs about Jesus. When have you found yourself called on to share your understanding of Christ? What makes some people uncomfortable when asked to speak about what they believe about Jesus?

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UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT In the Book of Hebrews, the picture of Jesus Christ is clarified in no uncertain terms. In the first few sentences of his letter, the biblical writer addressed a variety of issues by underscoring the superiority of Jesus Christ in the lives of believers. He gave a clear description of who Jesus is. His words encourage all believers to hold fast to their faith in the exalted Christ. The Book of Hebrews was written to a group of Christians during a time of tremendous success for the gospel that led to growing persecution. The apostles of the crucified and resurrected Christ had gone everywhere preaching the good news of salvation through Him. They faithfully shared the gospel, led people to Christ, and planted churches throughout the Roman Empire. Those who had professed faith in Christ were beginning to experience the backlash of persecution. This persecution would either make them trust Jesus more, or it would pressure them to walk away from their confession of Christ as Lord. The writer of Hebrews urged his readers to work through the crisis and endure in their faith.

CONTEXT Helps participants understand the passage in the context of the Bible book and the whole Bible.

How is the cultural context for the first readers of Hebrews similar to that of Christians today? How is it different?

The writer didn’t identify himself by name in the epistle. Based on a number of factors, including the epistle’s pastoral nature, excellent grammar, and Old Testament themes, Bible scholars have proposed names such as Paul, Luke, Apollos, or Barnabas. Certainly we can speak with confidence about the writer’s spiritual depth. He was a divinely inspired Christian leader with a passionate concern for believers. Neither are the first recipients of Hebrews identified by name or place in the epistle. Suggestions include a congregation of believers living in or near a city such as Rome, Jerusalem, or Antioch in Syria. From the themes in the epistle we can discern that at least some of the first readers were Jewish Christians. They had become confused about Jesus. They were disillusioned by persecution and were tempted to consider a retreat from Christianity. S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

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The Book of Hebrews paints a picture of a crisis of faith. Perhaps some believing friends and family members had been mistreated because of Christ. Maybe the faltering Christians had experienced hardThe times themselves at the paints hands ofa enemies gospel.ofInfaith. any Perhaps Book of Hebrews picture of ofthe a crisis case, the strain of persecution tempted them to consider an escape some believing friends and family members had been mistreated route. They wanted to worship God, but they didn’t want to live with because Christ. Maybe the faltering Christians had experienced the risk ofof more persecution. hard times at the of enemies of the Details in themselves the letter suggest thathands some church members weregospel. In any leaningthe toward a return to Judaism.tempted The opposition they felt case, strain of persecution thempressure to consider an escape The Book of Hebrews paints of a crisis of faith. Perhaps may have come from other Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah. route. They wanted to worship God, but they didn’t want toa picture live with some believing friends and family members had been mistreated Because of this pressure, the faltering church members had begun to the risk of more persecution. because of Christ. Maybe the faltering Christians had experienced distance themselves from the congregation of believers. Details in the letter suggest that church members were hardsome times themselves at the The writer of Hebrews made passionate appeals in his effort to hands of enemies of the gospel. In any the strain ofHe persecution tempted leaning a return to Judaism. opposition pressure theythem feltto consider an escape persuade toward his readers to maintain bold case, faithThe in Christ. urged them route. They wanted to worship God, but they may have comeabsolute from other Jews and whotorejected Jesus as the Messiah. didn’t want to live with to affirm Christ’s superiority realize that Christ the risk of more persecution. fulfilled and everything in the Oldchurch Testament revelation. Because of surpassed this pressure, the faltering members had begun to Details in the letter suggest that some church members were The biblical writer encouraged his readers to consider God’s distance themselves from the congregation ofa believers. leaning toward return to Judaism. The opposition pressure they felt perspective. If the faltering Christians looked at their rebellious action The writer of Hebrews made passionate appeals in his effort to may have come from other Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah. from God’s point of view, they would understand whypressure, He would hold Because of this the faltering church members had begun to persuade his readers to maintain bold faith inFinally, Christ. He urged them them accountable for such misguided disobedience. thethe writer distance themselves from congregation of believers. to affirm Christ’s absolute superiority and toofrealize that Christ challenged his readers to hold fast in theirThe faith, clinging to the rockwriter Hebrews made passionate appeals in his effort to fulfilled surpassed in the Old Testament revelation. solid truthand of the gospel no everything matter what persecution they might face. persuade his readers to maintain bold faith in Christ. He urged them

The biblical writer encouragedtohis readers toabsolute consider God’s and to realize that Christ affirm Christ’s superiority

How do you respond when you hear about believers around theeverything fulfilled and surpassed in the Old Testament revelation. perspective. If the faltering Christians looked at theirworld rebellious action losing their homes, businesses, or their livesThe because of writer persecution? biblical encouraged his readers to consider God’s

from God’s point of view, they would understand why He would hold perspective. If the faltering Christians looked at their rebellious action them accountable for such misguided disobedience. theunderstand writer why He would hold from God’s point of view,Finally, they would challenged his readers to hold fast in their faith,forclinging to the disobedience. rockthem accountable such misguided Finally, the writer challenged his readers to hold fast in their faith, clinging to the rocksolid truth of the gospel no matter what persecution they might face. solid truth of the gospel no matter what persecution they might face.

EXPLORE THE TEXT

How do you respond when you hear about believers around the world ACTUAL SIZE TEXT How do you respond when you hear about believers around the world losing their homes, businesses, or their because of persecution? losing lives their homes, businesses, or their lives because of persecution? GOD SPEAKS (HEB. 1:1-2a) VERSE 1

With clarity and simplicity, the biblical writer pointed out that God had spoken in the past—that is, in the days of the Old Testament. The Old Testament record went back to creation. When God created

EXPLORE THE TEXT

EXPLORE THE TEXTGOD SPEAKS (HEB. 1:1-2a)

Regular Print

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GOD SPEAKS (HEB. 1:1-2a)VERSE 1 VERSE 1

With clarity and simplicity, the biblical writer pointed out that God had spoken in the past—that is, in the days of the Old Testament. The Old Testament record went back to creation. When God created

With clarity and simplicity, the biblical writer pointed out that God had spoken in the past—that is, in the days of the Old Testament. The Old Testament record went back When God created 14 toE xcreation. pl or e t h e B i bl e Large Print

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Adam and Eve, He spoke to them (see Gen. 2:16-17; 3:9-19). He had continued to make Himself known to every generation that followed. In His wisdom, God chose to speak to His people in the Old Testament through prophets. Prophets were called to tell people what God told them. They were to speak only the word of the Lord, not their opinions or wishes (see Deut. 18:15-22). As the Old Testament Scriptures show, God raised up prophets at different times to speak for Him. Consequently, Moses prophesied at a specific time in history. So did Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and all of the other prophets. God called them to proclaim His Word at just the right time for the people who needed to hear it and apply it in their situations. Old Testament prophets received and delivered God’s Word in various ways. Some of them spoke through thundering sermons and gripping stories. Other prophets used piercing word pictures and remarkable miracles as they delivered God’s message. Still others spoke to God’s people with careful insights and courageous wisdom. As stated previously, some readers of Hebrews may have been tempted to return to the pre-Christian ways of Judaism. If this was the case, it would stand to reason that the writer would point to the Old Testament prophets. He used what his readers knew well as the starting point for his case for Christ.

EXPOSITION Includes Bible exposition so group participants can prepare for the group time and gain insight during the group time discussion.

What messages of the Old Testament prophets has God used to strengthen your faith in Christ?

K E Y DO C T R I N E: Scripture and Jesus All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. See Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27; John 5:39.

VERSE 2a

The writer of Hebrews went on to make a declaration. What God spoke through His prophets in former times was not His final word.

S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

DOCTRINE Helps participants identify a key doctrine borne out in that study.

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QUOTE Quotes from Bible scholars to add insight into the passage being studied.

The phrase these last days refers not just to the end of time but to the entire period from Jesus’ birth forward. Jesus’ first coming marked the dividing line of history—B.C. (“Before Christ”) became A.D. (“Anno Domini,” or “in the year of our Lord”). His second coming will complete time (history) and usher in eternity. In Jesus, God spoke to His creation in a new and superior way. He spoke in the Person of His one and only Son. To see and hear Jesus was to see and hear God in the flesh. There was no middle man as with the prophets in Old Testament times.

In Jesus Christ, God has given us His final message. And God has said nothing beyond that. When Christ came, that was the final word. – David Jeremiah In summary, God had a special relationship with the Old Testament prophets. However, that relationship could never compare with the divine nature that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, shared with the Heavenly Father. Out of that unique relationship, the Father spoke His full and final word of salvation for sinners. Which term best describes Jesus: God’s complete revelation, God’s most authoritative revelation, or God’s final revelation? Explain.

How are the words of Jesus Christ similar to the messages of the Old Testament prophets? How are His words unique?

QUESTION Questions to help move group participants to process the truth and begin to take steps toward applying the truths discovered.

GOD REVEALED (HEB. 1:2b-4) VERSE 2b

The writer of Hebrews went on to explain reasons why Jesus Christ surpasses the way of revelation through the prophets. First, Jesus is the appointed Heir of all things. As the Creator of all, God owns everything in the universe. Like a king in a royal court, God the 16

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Father appointed His Son as Heir of everything in His kingdom. Yet Jesus was far more than a typical heir. He was active with the Father in the creation of everything. With this affirmation, the writer of Hebrews nailed down the eternal truth that Jesus Christ existed before the universe came into being. God’s Son was included in the “Us” of Genesis 1:26, where God said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” What does Jesus’ existence before creation say to you about His superiority over the Old Testament prophets?

VERSE 3

Next, the writer of Hebrews described Jesus as the radiance of God’s glory. Jesus alone shines as the splendor of God’s presence in the world. In Old Testament times, Moses’ face shone with the light of God’s presence from the time he met with God on Mount Sinai to receive God’s law (see Ex. 34:29-35). Still, Moses only reflected God’s presence, much as the moon only reflects the sun’s light. Jesus, on the other hand, is the Light of the world (see John 8:12). He is the radiating presence of God. He is God the Son. With today’s technology, people can produce an authenticlooking copy of a historical document such as the Declaration of Independence. However, the duplicate will always be just a copy; it will never be the real thing. Jesus was not just a copy of God the Father; He is the exact expression of God. The Son is the Original exactly as the Father is the Original. Jesus exhibits the fullness of the divine nature of God. Therefore, He guides and upholds all of creation. He carries out His sustaining work in the universe in a way that shows that He is God. He utters His powerful word to sustain and direct His creation. Directing us to observe the Son’s work in history, the writer of Hebrews pointed to the cross. Through His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus accomplished on our behalf what we could never do. He made purification for our sins. By God’s design, forgiveness and cleansing from sin required an acceptable sacrifice. The sinless Son of

S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

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QUESTION At least one question is presented to help the group apply the truths discovered.

SKILL Feature to help develop and improve Bible study skills giving greater depth to the study; same feature included in the Leader Guide.

God offered Himself as that perfect Sacrifice. His sacrifice was for our sins! By His resurrection from the dead He is forever exalted as Lord and Savior. He sits in the place of majesty at the right hand of God the Father. His powerful reign is limitless. How does each descriptor add to the portrait of Christ being presented?

BI B LE SK I L L : Use other Scripture to help understand a Bible passage. Hebrews begins with a comparison of how God spoke in Old Testament times and how He has spoken in “these last days”—that is, after the birth of Jesus Christ. The biblical writer wasn’t pushing aside the Old Testament’s value as Scripture. The Bible is a cohesive whole with God’s Son Jesus at the center. In Christ, we find the place where the Old Testament was designed to go. Read these passages in your Bible: 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms 2:7; 45:6-7; 102:25-27; Isaiah 53:10-12. As time allows, read several verses before and/or after the passages to understand their contexts. Then read Hebrews 1:1-4 and consider this question: What do the Old Testament passages teach us about Jesus Christ as He is described in the Hebrews 1:1-4?

VERSE 4

The writer of Hebrews first described Jesus’ superiority to the Old Testament prophets. Then he took his readers another step. He reminded them that Jesus is infinitely higher in rank than angels. Angels serve God in the heavenly realm. They are powerful spiritual beings who serve primarily as messengers of God (see Gen. 21:17; Zech. 1:9; Luke 1:30-33; Gal. 3:19). They also carry out God’s

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judgments against the wicked (see Gen. 19:12-13; 2 Sam. 24:15-16; Rev. 15:1). They protect and deliver the faithful (see Dan. 6:22; Matt. 24:31). Finally, they worship God (see Ps. 148:2; Rev. 7:11). First-century Judaism evidently included doctrines that promoted the worship of angels (see Col. 2:18). Even today some people trust more in angels than in Christ. Yet Jesus reigns supreme over angels for one undeniable reason: He alone bears God’s matchless name! Following the initial declaration in 1:4 of Jesus’ superiority over angels, the biblical writer then drew upon numerous Old Testament Scriptures that point to the Son’s exalted place (see 1:5-14). No angel is worthy of worship. Indeed, angels join in worshiping God. Why would it have been important for the writer of Hebrews to establish the fact that Jesus has a higher rank than angels?

In summary, Jesus Christ alone is worthy of our faith and undying devotion because He is the eternal Son of God. He took on human nature and came as “God with us.” Through His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus provided our only possible way of forgiveness for sins. As the result of His death and resurrection, He has demonstrated that He is greater by far than either the “Old Testament way” or the way of trusting in angels. Jesus is likewise greater than any religious figure or human system of thought in vogue today. When we as believers face tough times or opposition to our faith, that’s no time to retreat from Christ. That’s the time to be ever more devoted to Him! He is the Living Lord; He will never fail or forsake anyone who trusts in Him.

EXPOSITION Includes Bible exposition so group participants can prepare for the group time and gain insight during the group time discussion.

[Jesus] is not a mere vehicle of revelation, but he is God in human form revealing himself. His revelation is not fragmentary but complete; not partial but perfect; not preparatory but ultimate. – Herschel H. Hobbs QUOTE

S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

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Quotes from Bible scholars to add insight into the passage being studied.

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IN MY CONTEXT ACTION Helps participants put into practice the truths discovered.

Jesus is the full and final revelation of God to humanity. Through Him, we can understand God’s character and the gospel message. As God reveals Himself to us, we can share that truth with others. What situations tempt you to reconsider your confession of Christ? How do these verses address your situation?

How has God been revealing His Word to you in the past month? What actions are you taking as a result?

QUESTION At least one question is presented to help the group apply the truths discovered.

What can we do as a group to create an environment that fosters the open sharing of truths God reveals to us?

MEMORY VERSE In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. VERSE

—Hebrews 1:2a

Memory verse is same for all ages so everyone can work on memorizing the verse together.

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Study on the Go. 速

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Now your groups can experience Explore the Bible through their smart phone or tablet. Beginning with Fall 2014


What to look for:

LEADER GUIDE SCRIPTURES HIGHLIGHTED 速

LEADER GUIDE

The Bible text appears throughout the session; a short text helps you dig deep.

P  ERSONAL STUDY GUIDE REFERENCED Hebrews

Features and questions printed in the Personal Study Guide are also included in the Leader Guide.

Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

ESSENTIAL COMMENTARY Commentary gives the leader the help needed to address critical biblical interpretation issues that may arise during the group time.

TEACHING PLAN Group Bible Study Suggestions for a 45-minute group time is featured on two facing pages; plenty of room for your notes.

PREPARE, PARTICIPATE, PRACTICE Leader resource is built on three movements in the life of the group: prepare to lead the group time, lead the group to participate in corporate Bible study, and lead the group to practice what is learned. 18


Session

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Who Is Jesus? As God’s Son, Jesus revealed God finally and without equal.

HEBREWS 1:1-4

STEPS TO LEAD

MEMORY VERSE: Hebrews 1:2a

List of actions to keep the leader on track in preparation to lead the group.

PREPARE TO LEAD THE GROUP TIME READ Hebrews 1:1-14 and “Understand the Context” (page 14). View the video introduction of Hebrews by David Jeremiah at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible. STUDY Hebrews 1:1-4 using the commentary provided on pages 15-19. As you study, list and define the ways Jesus is described by the writer of Hebrews. Consult the Explore The Bible Adult Commentary (available in both print and digital format from LifeWay.com)

GATHERING

PLAN the group time using the ideas under Participate on pages 20-21, More Ideas on page 22, ideas included in QuickSource, and ideas included on Lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible.

Includes a list of the items a leader could use during the group time.

GATHER THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: Personal Study Guides, sheet of paper and markers. Prepare to display the following Pack Items: Pack Item 1 (Map), Pack Item 2 (Outline), Pack Item 3 (Poster), Pack Item 4 (Timeline), and Pack Item 5 (Hebrews 1:3). Make copies of Pack Item 19 (Memory Verses).

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FIRST THOUGHTS KEY DOCTRINE

KEY DOCTRINE Helps leaders identify a key doctrine borne out in that study.

Scripture and Jesus All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. See Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27; John 5:39.

Does it matter today to know precisely who Jesus is? We live in a time when it seems that truth is in the eye of the beholder. People think that what one person says about Jesus must be as valid as anyone else’s answer. But is it possible for two conflicting statements to be true at the same time? Consider one of the key questions about Jesus, the question “Was Jesus of Nazareth God in the flesh?” The answers “yes” and “no” cannot both be true. If Jesus truly was God with us in human form, then that truth has massive implications for us. Hebrews 1:1-4 teaches us that Jesus indeed was and is the Divine Son of God. While many of us have heard this all of our lives, others may wrestle with what the Bible teaches about Jesus. Whenever we study the Bible, we’re confronted with the question: “Do I believe what this says and what it means for my life?” The truth about Jesus really matters! It matters when people face a lifethreatening disease or suffer a terrible accident. It matters when we watch precious friends draw their last breath. Jesus makes all the difference in life—and in death. We need to know the truth about Jesus, and the divinely inspired writer of Hebrews helps us know the truth. How do you respond when asked “Who is Jesus?” Why is it important that we clearly understand who Jesus is and what He did on behalf of sinful humanity?

DIRECTION Sets the direction of the study for the leader, explaining why this session is important to today’s believer.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR For additional context, read the article “The Place and Purpose of the Book of Hebrews” in the Fall 2014 issue of Biblical Illustrator. Available at www.lifeway.com/ biblicalillustrator.

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The Book of Hebrews reveals and explains truths about Jesus that are not treated in depth in other Bible books. In Hebrews we learn much about Jesus as the great High Priest, the perfect Sacrifice, and the Mediator of the new covenant. When these truths are understood and embraced, they can help believers endure in their devotion to Jesus Christ even in times of severe trials. These major themes are all present in seed form in Hebrews 1:1-4. Keep in mind that the writer of Hebrews was addressing a beloved group of people. Like most churches today, the group probably included some strong believers and some weak ones. Perhaps there were even a few who professed faith in Christ but were not genuine believers. Some believers at the time Hebrews was written may have shown bold devotion in the past but now were wilting in the face of persecution. The biblical writer showed loving pastoral concern for all of his readers. He was concerned that some of them might decide the cost of discipleship was too high. He may have feared that some were ready to cave in and go back to Judaism and its practices.


So, what is the remedy for weak faith? The remedy starts with a better understanding of God’s Word and what it means. The meat of God’s Word is the answer for faltering faith! It fuels our faith and drives deeper the foundation of our devotion to Christ. The writer of Hebrews knew that if his readers understood who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for them, then they would stand strong and not waver in their confession. The main idea of Hebrews 1:1-3 is to show that while God used prophets in the Old Testament times to speak His Word to the people of Israel, now—in the age of Christ—God has spoken in a new, better, and final way. God has spoken in the Person of the one and only Son of God. The divine message given in God’s Son does not contradict the Old Testament; rather, Christ fulfills the Old Testament. Think of the covenant with Israel through Moses. It is fulfilled in the new covenant in Jesus. Think of the priesthood and sacrificial system. Jesus is the great High Priest and perfect Sacrifice who not only forgives sins but purifies us from sin. Think of the reign of King David in Israel. Jesus is the Divine Son, the Heir of all things, the Creator of the universe, the exalted Lord with the name above all names! In 1:4, the writer added that God’s revelation in Christ also surpasses the ministry of angels. He went on in 1:5-14 to demonstrate in the Scriptures that no angel shared the relationship the Son has with the Father. Angels are servants; Jesus is the Divine Son. Given who Jesus is, then, we can trust Him in everything. That was the writer’s intention for those early Christians and also for us today. Studying the Book of Hebrews under the Spirit’s guidance will fortify us for the challenges of our day.

CONTEXT Helps the leader understand the passage in the context of the Bible book and the whole of Scripture.

VERSES

EXPLORE THE TEXT

Bible verses are printed next to the commentary so leaders can easily reference the Bible text.

GOD SPEAKS (HEB. 1:1-2a) VERSE 1

The majestic Book of Hebrews opens with an affirmation that God is the God who speaks. He communicates with His creation. He reveals, instructs, commands, and calls His people to relate to Him as God and to fulfill their wonderful, God-given purpose. The phrase long ago refers to the times of the Old Testament when God spoke to His people through prophets such as Moses (see Deut. 34:10), Samuel (see 1 Sam. 3:20), Elisha (see 2 Kings 3:11), Isaiah (see 2 Kings 20:1), and Jeremiah (see 2 Chron. 36:12). These prophets faithfully spoke God’s words to the people of Israel. Yet they also pointed to the coming of One—Jesus Christ—who would be God’s perfect Spokesman (see Deut. 18:15,18-19; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 31:31-34). The reality of God’s speaking appears consistently throughout Scripture. God created the universe by speaking it into existence out of nothing (see Gen. 1:1-31). God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, giving the Israelites the Ten Commandments (see Ex. 20:1-17). The Scriptures declare that God’s voice calls to the ends of the earth (see Ps. 19:4; Isa. 62:11). We are to hide His Word in our hearts, for it will be a light to guide our steps (see Ps. 119:11,105). God’s Word is powerful; it accomplishes everything He wants (see Isa. 55:11).

HEBREWS 1:1

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.

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The New Testament declares that Jesus is the Word made flesh who reveals the Father (see John 1:1,14,18). In Acts 1–2, we learn that Jesus gave His disciples authority to speak and teach the gospel message of God’s kingdom, which was powerfully set in motion in the tongues of fire and inspired speech on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). God’s Word pierces into the human heart, discerning our thoughts and motives (see Heb. 4:12). The God of the Bible speaks; false gods, or idols, do not speak— indeed, they cannot speak (see Jer. 10:5; 1 Cor. 12:2). What does it mean to you that God is the God who speaks? (From PSG, p. 15): How has the Lord used the messages of Old Testament prophets to strengthen your faith in Christ?

VERSE 2a

HEBREWS 1:2a

In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

2a

QUESTIONS Questions included in the Personal Study Guide are marked to help the leader know what participants have in their hands.

There are two distinct eras of God’s speaking: the former times (the times of the Old Testament) and these last days (the time from Jesus’ birth forward, including the end time). The coming of Jesus marked the dividing line between the two historical ages. The first age pointed to what would come in the second (see 1 Pet. 1:10-12). Bible students often refer to this feature as “progressive revelation.” For example, the phrase in Hebrews 1:1 at different times (which can also mean “in different parts or stages”) emphasizes the partial nature of God’s revelation in the Old Testament times. God’s people received His Word little by little as it built toward the full and final revelation in the Son, Jesus. Similarly, the phrase in 1:1 in different ways refers to various means God used in Old Testament times to speak His word. These means included direct revelation (see Gen. 12:1), angels (see Zech. 1:14), dreams (see Gen. 28:12-15), and natural phenomena (see Ps. 19:1-4). Again, the writer of Hebrews made the point in Hebrews 1:2a that the various means by which God spoke in the past only foreshadowed the unique and final revelation God made in His Son. (From PSG, p. 16): Which term best describes Jesus: God’s complete revelation, God’s most authoritative revelation, or God’s final revelation? Explain.

GOD REVEALED (HEB. 1:2b-4) In these verses, the writer of Hebrews gave us seven truths about Jesus, God’s Son, that explain His greatness and superiority over all things. The list reaches a pinnacle in 1:4, where the biblical writer stated that the eternal and glorious Son of God bears the Father’s own name as He rules over all things. When it comes to understanding the truth about God, it matters who speaks!

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VERSE 2b

First, the writer pointed out that Christ is the appointed … heir of all things. This phrase alludes to Psalm 2:8, where the psalmist foretold that the Messianic King from the family line of King David would be given the ends of the earth. Jesus fulfilled this Scripture! He is the King in David’s line whose inheritance includes everything that exists. As the second truth will show, this first truth doesn’t mean there was ever a time when God’s Son didn’t own everything. Rather, it emphasizes the unique, eternal relationship between the Son and the Father, a relationship that no Old Testament prophet or human king shared. Second, the writer of Hebrews stated that Christ is the One through whom God made the universe. Jesus is the Divine Agent of both revelation and creation. In other words, Jesus is the One through whom God spoke as well as the One through whom He created. This truth also is emphasized in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16. Jesus is the Heir of all things precisely because He was with God in the beginning as the Agent of creation.

HEBREWS 1:2b

God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.

2b

EXPOSITION Includes biblical exposition so leaders can prepare to lead the group time.

(From PSG, p. 17): What does Jesus’ existence before creation say to you about His superiority over the Old Testament prophets?

VERSE 3

Perhaps no other single verse in Scripture reveals more than this verse about the Person and the work of Jesus Christ. Using just 30 words (in the Greek text), the biblical writer unlocked a storehouse of theological treasure. We learn about Jesus’ unique nature, His Deity, His sustaining power over the universe, His accomplishment as the perfect Sacrifice, and His exaltation forever as Lord. All of this treasure is in one verse! The third truth the writer of Hebrews declared about Jesus is that He is the radiance of God’s glory. This phrase means that to see Jesus Christ is to see the glory of God. Think of the sun and the light it emits. In essence the two entities are of the same substance, yet their form and function are distinct—though unified. Similarly, to say that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory emphasizes that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons of the Godhead. At the same time, they are co-equal in their essential being (their divine nature) and are completely unified in their work. Theologically, then, this phrase reveals that Jesus is God. He is God the Son. This is who He is, has been, and will be throughout all eternity. Fourth, the biblical writer stated that the Son is the exact expression of God’s nature and being. In ancient times, coins were formed by pressing a die, or stamp, onto a piece of metal made soft by heating. As the die was pressed like a cookie-cutter into the softened metal, it left the image of the die in the metal. Although the die and the coin are distinct, to see the coin is to see the die. Once when Philip asked Jesus to show the Father to the disciples, Jesus responded by declaring that to see Him was to see the Father (see John 14:8-9). Jesus is God just as the Father is God.

HEBREWS 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

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BIBLE SKILL

SKILL Feature to help develop and improve Bible study skills giving greater depth to the study; same feature included in the Personal Study Guide.

Use other Scripture to help understand a Bible passage.

The writer of Hebrews begins by comparing how God spoke in Old Testament times and how He spoke in “these last days”—after the first coming of Christ. The biblical writer did not push the Old Testament aside as though it were not relevant. The Bible is a cohesive whole with God’s Son Jesus at the center. In Christ, we find the place the Old Testament was designed to go. Read these passages in your Bible: 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms 2:7; 45:6-7; 102:2527; 110:1; Isaiah 53:10-12. As time allows, read several verses before and/or after the passages for context.

QUESTIONS Additional questions are provided for the leader for personal study or to weave into the group time.

Now read Hebrews 1:1-4 and consider this question: What do these Old Testament passages teach us about Jesus Christ as He is described in Hebrews 1:1-4?

Further, the Son is the exact representation of God’s divine nature. This phrase refers to much more than what we might call a family resemblance. The Greek word behind this phrase is the basis of the theological term hypostasis [high PAHS tuh siss], meaning “nature” or “essence.” Thus while the Father and the Son are distinct Persons, they are of the same divine nature. In His being, Jesus is of the same nature as the Father. The fifth truth the writer of Hebrews expressed about Jesus is that the Son upholds all the created order. Jesus is not only the Agent of creation but also the Controller and Sustainer of all things. Everything from subatomic particles to massive solar systems and galaxies are under His sovereign command. Unlike the mythical deity Atlas, who is pictured as holding the earth on his shoulders, Jesus is the Creator and Commander of all created things. He sustains everything by His powerful word—and He is not the least bit taxed by the effort. This is theology at its best! It is deeply assuring, which is precisely what the writer of Hebrews intended to accomplish. What are some things that might cause Christians to question whether Jesus is in control of all things? How do the truths about Jesus expressed thus far encourage believers to endure in their devotion to Him?

Sixth, the biblical writer spoke of Jesus’ making purification for sins. This is the first mention of an upcoming major theme in Hebrews, Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our sins. This draws our attention to Jesus’ death on the cross as the perfect Sacrifice. In Old Testament times, the Israelite high priest offered an atonement sacrifice once a year for the people’s sins (see Lev. 16:1-34). Yet no earthly high priest ever offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice for people’s sins. No earthly priest was qualified to do so. Jesus was qualified, however; and He did offer Himself! The writer of Hebrews mentioned this truth here. He explored the theme in depth in later chapters, especially chapters 9–10. Seventh, the writer of Hebrews pointed out that after Jesus made purification for sins (the crucifixion), He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (the resurrection and ascension). The Son is exalted to the place of sovereign authority, where He both rules and intercedes as King and High Priest. He speaks God’s Word as the Prophet (see Deut. 18:15). The phrase right hand of the Majesty describes the supremacy of Christ and alludes to Psalm 110:1. Jesus the Eternal Son of God lives and rules with the power of God the Father, doing so with all authority as the One who bears God’s own name. What keeps people from trusting Jesus with every aspect of their lives? How do these verses strengthen your resolve to endure in faith?

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VERSE 4

This verse concludes the long opening sentence of Hebrews—it’s one sentence in the Greek text. It is an amazing introduction to a remarkable Bible book. After listing seven essential truths about Christ, the biblical writer concluded by stating an undeniable fact: Jesus the Son, through whom God has now spoken in a full and final way, is greater than the angels. The writer went on in 1:5-14 to marshal various Old Testament Scriptures that highlight reasons the Son is superior to angels. We need to remember that the first readers of Hebrews might have been tempted to return to Judaism. They needed to understand that Jesus surpassed the nature and role of angels in the Old Testament just as He surpassed the prophets. The writer wanted his readers (and us) to understand two further things about God the Son. First, Jesus became higher in rank than the angels. Again, we should not think this expression means Jesus came to be something in His essential being that He wasn’t before He took on flesh, lived, died, was resurrected, and ascended. It means, rather, that as the God-Man (both fully God and fully human), Jesus demonstrated by His death, resurrection, and ascension that He is the exalted Lord, superior in every sense to angels. To be sure, angels are important and powerful messengers of God. Scripture shows that they do many things in service to God, primarily delivering messages for Him to people (see Gen. 19:1,12-13; 1 Kings 19:5-7; Matt. 28:2-7; Luke 2:8-14; Gal. 3:19). Yet no angel could ever be described by the seven truths Jesus exhibited. Second, the writer of Hebrews emphasized that Christ has a far superior name than the angels. By virtue of Jesus’ being God’s Son and not a created being, His name is part of His inheritance. What is this more excellent name that Jesus bears? Bible scholars have offered several possibilities, even while they also acknowledge that the writer of Hebrews didn’t specify the exact name in this verse. The view I propose is that the inherited name is “Yahweh,” the name that God explained first to Moses at the burning bush (see Ex. 3:13-15). It’s important to note that the Greek word for name is found three other times in Hebrews (see 2:12; 6:10; 13:15). In each case the reference is to the divine name of God (see also John 8:58; Phil. 2:9-10). Why is the reference to Jesus’ inherited name so important? It is important because the divine name signifies the authority with which Jesus Christ reigns over all things. He has always been the Son. Now, as the exalted, enthroned Lord, He is to be acknowledged as sovereign! The writer of Hebrews draws us into a deeper understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. He didn’t do this just to take us through a mental exercise. He did this to lead us into worship, because out of our worship of the exalted Christ will come faithful devotion and holy living. In other words, theology leads to doxology; and doxology leads to enduring faith!

HEBREWS 1:4

So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.

4

(From PSG, p. 19): Why would it have been important for the writer of Hebrews to establish the fact that Jesus has a higher rank than angels?

S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

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LEAD GROUP BIBLE STUDY FOCUS ATTENTION (FIRST THOUGHTS) GUIDE: As group members arrive, call attention to the session title. Record their responses on a sheet of paper to the question “Who is Jesus?” Encourage them to also share how others might answer that question.

LEAD

DISCUSS: What makes some people uncomfortable when asked to speak about what they believe about Jesus? (PSG, p. 12).

Suggestions providing for 45 minutes of group time.

EXPLAIN: During the next three months, our group will be studying Hebrews. The central

focus of the Book of Hebrews is the identity of Jesus and how His identity impacts our lives.

Follows three teaching actions: focus attention, explore the text, and summarize and challenge. Each action is tied to sections of the Personal Study Guide.

INTRODUCE: Call attention to the outline of Hebrews (p. 12; PSG, p. 10; same outline on

Pack Item 2: Outline). Review the outline and use information from the book introduction (pp. 10-11) and “Understand the Context” (pp. 14-15) to identify potential authors, potential recipients, and major themes. (Option: Point to locations using the map on Pack Item 1.)

TRANSITION: Today’s lesson examines the first 4 verses of Hebrews. Point to the first section

of the book outline (p. 12; PSG, p. 10; or Pack Item 2). EXPLORE THE TEXT

READ: Read aloud Hebrews 1:1-2a, identifying ways God has spoken through human history. SHARE: Call attention to the second paragraph under Verse 1 in the PSG. Highlight the

prophets identified in the paragraph. Point to some key actions or messages delivered by each prophet listed (potential messages: Elijah and the prophets of Baal—2 Kings 18; Elisha healing Naaman—2 Kings 5; Isaiah’s prophecy about the suffering servant—Isaiah 53; Jeremiah tells of a new covenant—Jeremiah 31; Malachi prophesied about a forerunner preceding the Messiah—Malachi 3:1).

EASY TO USE Suggestions are arranged so a leader can guide the group directly from this two page spread if desired.

ASK: How has the Lord used the messages of the Old Testament prophets to strengthen

your faith in Christ? (PSG, p. 15)

STATE: The Old Testament prophets were not the final word from God. DO: Hebrews 1:2a is the memory verse for the week. Encourage group members to share

tips that may help others memorize the verse. Distribute copies of Pack Item 19 for group members to use as a tool for tracking verses memorized throughout the study.

DISCUSS: Solicit response to David Jeremiah’s quote (“In Jesus Christ, God has given us His final message. And God has said nothing beyond that. When Christ came, that was the final word.” PSG, p. 16). Ask: Based on Hebrews 1:1-2a, which term best describes Jesus: God’s

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complete revelation, God’s most authoritative revelation, or God’s final revelation? Explain. (PSG, p. 16) Direct group members to the content in the PSG to gain insight. Help group members identify ways all three are true. TRANSITION: The writer of Hebrews continued by explaining why Jesus was superior to the

Old Testament prophets.

DO: Direct group members to read Hebrews 1:2b-4, underlining the descriptors used to

describe Jesus. Lead them to list each descriptor on a sheet of paper, comparing differences between translations. Use the comments in the PSG to lead the group to identify the significance of each descriptor. Record insights on the sheet of paper as well.

IDEAS

ASK: How does each descriptor add to the portrait of Christ being presented by the writer

of Hebrews? (PSG, p. 18)

Ideas provided to help the leader challenge the group to act upon the truths explored during the session.

DO: Create four teams. Assign each team one of the following Bible passages: Matthew 23:41-

45, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 5:17-26, John 1:1-18. Direct each team to look for ways the assigned passage illustrates and affirms the descriptors of Christ used by the writer of Hebrews. Invite representatives from each team to share insights gained from their assigned Bible passage. SUMMARIZE AND CHALLENGE (IN MY CONTEXT)

DISCUSS: How does Hebrews 1:1-4 provide answers to the question “Who is Jesus?” Invite group members to share additional insights gained. Read the statements under “In My Context” (PSG, p. 20) to present a summary of the lesson. ASK: What questions do you have about the passage we examined today? Seek to provide

answers based on your study. If you don’t know the answer or are unsure, seek to provide an answer before the next group time.

DIRECT: Challenge group members to consider their responses to the questions under “In

My Context” (PSG, p. 20) and to take action following the group time. Focus on the second question set (How has God been revealing His Word to you?). Call for group members to share the names or initials of people who need to know that God reveals Himself in Christ. Challenge the members to share insights from today’s study with the person or persons they identified. Commit as a group to pray for each other as they seek to share.

DO: Highlight the third question. Explain that people need places where they can openly

share their insights and questions about Jesus. Lead the group to list potential actions they can take to foster an open sharing environment (potential ideas: establish rules for sharing, create prayer chains or triangles, use nametags). Lead them to determine which actions the group needs to implement. Identify steps and dates for implementation.

PRAY: Use the descriptors for Christ to guide your prayer time. Thank God for revealing Himself to us through His Son.

S e s s ion 1: Who Is Jesus?

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PRACTICE • Contact group members with unanswered questions from this session, offering them direction. • Send emails to the group reminding them of the actions agreed upon by the group to foster an open sharing environment. • Begin to implement the steps identified by the group for fostering an open sharing environment.

ENCOURAGE Actions to help leaders encourage group participants to practice the truths studied in the days following the group time.

MORE IDEAS FOCUS (FIRST THOUGHTS) Search the Internet looking for video interviews of people asked to respond to questions about Jesus. (Use “Who is Jesus interviews” as a search term). As learners arrive, show video clips you have located and solicit response. Use the clips to discuss misconceptions people have about Jesus.

EXTRA

EXPLORE

Additional ideas so the leader can replace or lengthen the group time ideas on the previous two pages.

• To replace presenting a brief summary of the teachings of Old Testament prophets: Prior to group time, secure volunteers to develop a summary of key teachings of Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi. Help them prepare to present their summary to the group as way of reminding group members of the teachings of these prophets. • To replace or supplement discussion about responses to the best term to describe Jesus: Create three teams, designating teams as follows: complete revelation team, most authoritative revelation team, and final revelation team. Lead the group to refine their designated description, focussing on how their description is different from the other two. During debriefing, focus on how each is true. • To replace or supplement the listing of descriptors: As the group identifies the descriptors of Christ used by the writer of Hebrews, invite group members to provide an object on their person that symbolizes that descriptor in some way (examples: heir—photo of children; radiance of His glory—flashlight; exact likeness—set of keys of which you have more than one; etc).

MUSIC To help groups who use music to start their meeting time, every session includes a song suggestion; every song listed can be purchased from LifeWayWorship.com for a nominal fee.

SUMMARIZE AND CHALLENGE (IN MY CONTEXT) Lead the group to develop a response, using Hebrews 1:1-4, to the unbiblical views of Jesus presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. SUGGESTED MUSIC IDEA Review the words to Jesus is Lord of All (#294, Baptist Hymnal 2008), pointing to phrases and concepts included in Hebrews 1:1-4. Sing the hymn as a group.

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STUDY PLAN At 66 books, studying the Bible book-by-book may seem daunting. That's why Explore the Bible is designed around three-year study cycles. Each cycle features every type of biblical literature to provide a balanced view of Scripture. After three cycles (nine years), participants will have studied all 66 books.

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

FALL

Hebrews

Genesis (part 1)

1, 2 Peter, Jude

WINTER

Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah

Matthew (part 1)

Genesis (part 2)

SPRING

Minor Prophets

Acts

Matthew (part 2)

SUMMER

1, 2, 3 John, Revelation

1 Samuel

Jeremiah & Lamentations

*For a complete chart, go to Lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible

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RESOURCES FOR PARTICIPANTS Adult Personal Study Guide

®

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE

A tool for doing Bible study and putting it into practice; helps participants prepare for and contribute in group time Print: HCSB, NIV, and KJV Large Print: HCSB and KJV Audio: HCSB Also available in print for: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and the Deaf

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Personal Study Guide App Same content as Adult Personal Study Guide Includes HCSB, NIV, KJV, and ESV

®

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Young Adult Personal Study Guide A tool for doing Bible study and putting it into practice; helps participants prepare for and contribute in group time Print: HCSB Hebrews

Personal Study Guide > Fall 2014

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Commentary

®

Fall 2014 > David Jeremiah, General Editor

Commentary: For All Adults and Young Adults Serious Bible students and leaders can dig even deeper into the meaning of each session’s core verses Print and digital: HCSB

Hebrews

Explore the Bible will also be available as six-session group Bible studies beginning June 2014. Visit LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible for more information.

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RESOURCES FOR LEADERS Adult Leader Guide Gives leaders everything needed to prepare for and lead a compelling group experience; helps you communicate a biblical plan that moves adults to application Print: HCSB, NIV, and KJV

®

LEADER GUIDE

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Young Adult Leader Guide Gives leaders everything needed to prepare for and lead a compelling group experience; helps you communicate a biblical plan that moves young adults to application Print: HCSB Hebrews

Leader Guide > Fall 2014

David Jeremiah, General Editor

Leader Pack

Leader Pack: For All Adult and Young Adult Leaders Enhances the group experience with a variety of visuals that explain verse context Print and digital: Use with any translation

®

Fall 2014 > David Jeremiah, General Editor

Hebrews Quick Source

QuickSource: For All Adult and Young Adult Leaders Busy leaders or last-minute substitutes will find even more ideas in this quick reference format Print and digital: HCSB

®

Fall 2014 > David Jeremiah, General Editor

Hebrews

Commentary

®

Fall 2014 > David Jeremiah, General Editor

Commentary: For All Adults and Young Adults Serious Bible students and leaders can dig even deeper into the meaning of each session’s core verses Print and digital: HCSB

Hebrews

Digital Bundles: For All Adults and Young Adults Personal Study Guide and Leader Guide together (in PDF and DOC formats) HCSB, NIV, KJV, and ESV

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Let the Word dwell in you.

Visit LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible to download the first four sessions of the Fall 2014 resources for all ages. PRESCHOOL & KIDS

Hebrews 速

Hebrews Fall 2014 > HCSB

David Jeremiah, General Editor

ADULTS

005676022

速 速

Personal Study Guide > Fall 2014 David Jeremiah, General Editor

PERSONAL STUDY GUIDE

Hebrews

Personal Study Guide > Fall 2014

Kids

David Jeremiah, General Editor

YOUNG ADULTS

STUDENTS

KIDS


Explore the Bible: Adults Group Bible Studies for Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer