This is the first time I have ever preached through Hebrews. It can be a tough book to communicate because it is filled with OT quotations and first century rabbinic reasoning. There are long allusions to the priestly ministry and cultural questions like “How can Jesus be a priest if he is not of the tribe of Levi” that just do not trouble us today. The theology of Hebrews is rich and can be complicated which can make it a better book to teach than to preach. On the other hand, Hebrews is, at its very core, a sermon. It is a first century sermon, but it is still a sermon which is why the exposition (bible teaching) is punctuated with hortatory section (time where the author tells us to get going and follow God).
For this series in Hebrews I am trying to teach large enough sections that will include both teachings and commands. This way the sermons have a natural flashpoint. So while the first sermon could easily have been on Hebrews 1:1-4, I covered Hebrews 1:1 – 2:4. We closed with a warning not to drift away.
I am using three main commentaries for the series:
George Guthrie, Hebrews, NIV Application Commentary, Zondervan, 1998.
William Lane, Hebrews 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, Word, 1991.
Peter O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (Pillar Commentary Series), Eerdmans, 2010.
The Guthrie commentary is more pastoral and general than the other two and would be accessible to any motivated layperson. The Word commentary is more academic and has much more Greek. The O’Brien commentary falls in the middle and it also the most current. I start with Guthrie, move through O’Brien and use the Lane commentary to address particular problems.
Here is what the preaching calendar looks like (for now) for the Fall:
Sept 14, 2014: 1:1- 2:4 –God has spoken to us by his Son so we must focus our faith on him
Sept 21, 2014: 2:5 – 2:18 — Jesus as human identifies with us in suffering and destroys the power of fear and death
Sept 28, 2014: 3:1 -19 — Fix your thoughts on Jesus (not Moses or anyone else) and do not harden your hearts.
Oct 5, 2014: 4:1-13 – Let us enter the Sabbath rest that God has for his people
Oct 12, 2014: 4:14 -5:10, Heb. 7 – Jesus is our great high priest giving us access to God and identifying with us
Oct. 19, 2014 – Juan Galloway from NYC Relief –Yeah!
Oct. 26, 2014 : 5:11 – 6:20 –The importance of staying on the course to hope
Nov. 2, 2014: 8:1- 9:15 – A New Covenant and a new conscience
Nov. 9, 2014: 9:16- 10:18 – A perfect sacrifice to make a holy people
Nov. 16, 2014: 10:19 – 10:39 – Spurring one another on
Nov. 23, 2014: 11 – 12:3 – Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses