Jesus Is Greater Than….Part 2

Jesus Is Greater Than….Part 2

We’re considering two things:

1. The Author

2. The Audience

Why does this matter? They will have a significant impact upon our interpretation (hermeneutics).

• Historical-Grammatical: Treats the Bible as God’s Word and understands that it conveys objective truth. Seeks to understand the original intent of the author.

• Historical-Critical (Higher Criticism): Treats the Bible like any other text assuming no possibility of miraculous activity. Seeks to understand the author’s intended meaning.

• Reader-Response: The Bible conveys subjective truth to be interpreted uniquely by each individual reader. This method reflects a postmodern philosophy. “This is what’s true for me.”

Knowing something about the author and the audience helps us arrive at the intended meaning.

Imagine our church receiving a letter from Governor Newsom. It is safe to say that we would make some assumptions about his words of encouragement. It would impact the way we hear the opening sentence.

However, we still need to prioritize what the text actually says. It would be unhelpful to read between the lines and assume entirely inaccurate ideas. 

Last week we focused upon the author and his message of Christ’s supremacy over all things. We concluded that the text is inspired and something of a cross between a letter and a sermon. This morning we want to consider the audience.

Hebrews addresses Christians who are tempted to accommodate their faith in order to relieve cultural pressure.

Read Heb 1:1-4.

1. An  Inspired  Author

2. An  Intimidated  Audience

Hebrews was written to a small house church in Rome made up of mostly Jewish Christians who were suffering under Nero’s persecution (A.D. 64-69).

Rome (Heb. 13:24): 

• Persecuted Christians under Claudius (A.D. 49; Acts 18:2Heb 10:32-34) and Nero (A.D. 60s). Clement of Rome (A.D. 94) knew the letter well. House churches in Rome (Rom. 16:3-15).

• There is no mention of any specific situation, but a general sense of weariness (Heb 12:3), rising temptations to rebellion (Heb 3:12), and escalating opposition from the world (Heb 12:4).

• The author uses cultural metaphors familiar to a Greco-Roman audience. Obviously, this does not preclude the greater influence of the OT.


• OT sacrificial system still in operation (Heb 8:4139:6-910:1-3). The temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. Warnings of the audience returning to Judaism would have been pointless if the temple were already destroyed. 

• Probably after Paul’s death (A.D. 64~) and prior to the destruction of the temple (A.D. 70).


• In this time of political unrest and escalating persecution, Jewish Christians, were tempted to return to former means of worship in order to avoid suffering. The situation has parallels with Gentiles in the Roman province of Galatia (Gal 6:12). 

• The author assumes a great deal of familiarity of the OT. Quotes and allusions may often have the whole context in mind. A brief allusion to clanging cymbals can allude to all of 1 Cor. 13 (CNTUOT – G. Guthrie).

Christ-Centered Exhortation

William Lane, “The intended audience was experiencing a crisis of faith and a failure of nerve.” That being the case, it’s interesting how he approaches their situation. 

He doesn’t spur them on to fight the civil authorities. He doesn’t give them any sense of immediate relief from cultural pressure. On the one hand, he doesn’t call them to deconstruct every social institution. Nor does he exhort them to take dominion over the government. 

He calls them to stand firm in the faith. They should deepen their love for Christ and not be swayed by pressure to retreat to an expired practice. The author exhorts them by establishing the person and work of Christ as the fulfillment of the old covenant. 

His sermon makes no mention of the political, military, and social uprisings that were taking place. Certainly, some wondered why he didn’t address the social injustices. Others wished he were more political or culturally polemical. 

Would we be satisfied with the narrow scope of his focus if he were preaching to us this morning? Would we be satisfied with his Christ-centered preaching?

There is no encouragement here to rise up against political powers. The author does not mention fighting back. It does, however, recommend standing firm in their faith. If worldly and earthly power is our goal—Hebrews will be sorely disappointing. 

But, if your hope is in the spiritual reign of Christ—presently taking place in glory—your faith will be richly rewarded!

Hold Fast!

Hebrews addresses Christians who are tempted to accommodate their faith in order to relieve cultural pressure.

Imagine the upheaval of all they ever knew and were taught coming suddenly to a halt in Christ. The temptation to return to what was familiar was real, but they couldn’t deny the impact of the gospel.

Look to Christ! Meditate upon his finished and final work. Endure to the end by continually looking to Jesus!

Goal = “Hold fast!” Heb 10:23. Persevere. Press on to maturity. Hope! This is why he gives several warnings of apostasy. The message of hope—in your moments of greatest stress—becomes hopeful. But all of these exhortations are overshadowed by the call to consider Christ. They would only turn away from the shame as they turn to the glory of Christ.

An author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, passionately encourages those who are intimidated by persecution to listen to the good news that Jesus is greater than everything else!