Quotations: A Study of the Book of Hebrews

Chapters 11 to 13

Hebrews 11:1-4; Genesis 1:1-5, 4:3-10, Faithful ancestors
Hebrews 11:5-7; Genesis 5:21-24, 6:5-18, Enoch and Noah
Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 12:1-4, 23:3-4, Abraham
Hebrews 11:11-12; Genesis 17:19, 21:1-7, Sarah
Hebrews 11:13-16; Genesis 23:4, Psalms 39:12, 119:19, Nomads in faith
Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 21:12, 22:1-14, Abraham
Random Walk in a Religious Art Gallery, Step 13: Hebrews 11:17-19, The Sacrifice of Isaac
Hebrews 11:20; Genesis 27:27-40, Isaac
Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 47:31b-48:9, Jacob
Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:22-26, Joseph
Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 2:1-12, 12:21-23, 14:21-22, Moses
Hebrews 11:30-31; Joshua 2:1-22, Joshua and Rahab
Hebrews 11:32-40, And others too numerous to mention
Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalms 110:1-2, Clouds of witnesses
Hebrews 12:5-8; Proverbs 3:11-12, Training as sons
Hebrews 12:9-13; Isaiah 35:3-4; Heavenly and earthly fathers
Hebrews 12:14-17; Deuteronomy 29:16-18, Beware unfaithfulness
Hebrews 12:18-21; Exodus 19:12-22; Deuteronomy 9:16-19, Mt. Sinai
Hebrews 12:22-29; Genesis 4:8-10; Haggai 2:6-7; Psalms 68:7-8; Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 33:14, Mt. Zion
Hebrews 13:1-6; Genesis 18:1-2, 19:1-2; Judges 6:11-13, 13:15-16; Psalms 118:6, Entertain strangers, just in case they turn out to be angels
Hebrews 13:7-16; Leviticus 16:27; Psalms 102:25-27, 50:12-15, Prayer and praise are better than sacrifices
Hebrews 13:17-19; Ezekiel 3:17-21, Listen to your leaders, and pray for them
Hebrews 13:20-25, Concluding words

More Quotations from the Book of Hebrews

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Hebrews 11:1-4; Genesis 1:1-5, 4:3-10, Faithful ancestors (10/29/15)

“Hold onto your faith!” says our writer. Now he’s going to give us examples of what great things have been, and therefore can be, accomplished through faith. First the definition: it’s the assurance and conviction that things we hope for but can’t see are real, just as real as if we had them in our hand. Abel had faith in God; even after his death, he was able to speak to God and obtain justice.


Hebrews 11:5-7; Genesis 5:21-24, 6:5-18, Enoch and Noah (10/30/15)

Remember how I said that the writer expects you to know the background story, so he just gives you a brief quotation or reminder of what he’s talking about? Nowhere in the book of Hebrews is this truer than in Chapter 11, often called the “faith chapter.” Enoch gets a couple of verses in Hebrews, and a handful of verses in Genesis. Noah gets one verse in Hebrews, and a few chapters in Genesis – from Genesis 5:28 to Genesis 9:29! If you don’t know Noah’s story, you aren’t likely to be encouraged by his example of faith.


Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 12:1-4, 23:3-4, Abraham (11/2/15)

My family moved a lot when I was a kid. We lived in a trailer house, not a tent, but even so my mom said I had gone to 18 schools by the time I graduated from high school. So I can identify with Isaac and Jacob, who grew up in tents and rarely knew where they would be the next year.

But it didn’t bother me, because I had a home – my dad and mom and sister in the trailer and the rest of our family, most of whom lived in houses. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also had a home, in heaven, so they weren’t bothered either. The whole point of Chapter 11 is that just about whatever happens in your life has already happened to the people of God who went before you. They held onto their faith, and you can, too.


Hebrews 11:11-12; Genesis 17:19, 21:1-7, Sarah (11/3/15)

We’ve studied the story of Sarah and the birth of Isaac in detail, so you know it’s a long one. The writer knows you know that story and comes straight to the point: Sarah had faith that God would be faithful to his promise, and she was right.


Hebrews 11:13-16; Genesis 23:4, Psalms 39:12, 119:19, Nomads in faith (11/4/15)

The study tip on today’s reading may be found at YouTube, courtesy of First United Tabernacle International Ministries. What a celebration! Lyrics:
Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 21:12, 22:1-14, Abraham (11/5/15)

Abraham says two things that tell us about his faith. First, he tells his servants that both he and Isaac will return after they worship on the mountain. Second, he tells Isaac that God would provide a lamb. Both of these statements probably seemed unremarkable to the servants and to Isaac; to Abraham, who had been told to offer the boy up to God, they were statements of faith, not knowledge.

Random Walk in a Religious Art Gallery, Step 13: Hebrews 11:17-19, The Sacrifice of Isaac (3/18/15)

I always tell people that it takes me about 10 minutes to write the daily study tips, which would be more true if I didn’t get interested and start investigating the accuracy of what I’m about to say! The original of this illustration, a painting by Rembrandt, hangs in the Alte Pinokothek Museum in Munich. When I checked to make sure that the Bible that photo volunteer Daryl was copying had identified the artist correctly, I discovered that there are two images all over the web that claim to be The Sacrifice of Isaac by Rembrandt. Sigh. I figured that one was a copy and alteration. Nope. Both are by Rembrandt; the other one is at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Rembrandt was apparently interested in this scripture passage, because he actually did several additional works of art on the same topic.

The two paintings are very similar; but the differences interest me greatly. The Hermitage Rembrandt has a more beautiful angel, but the ram is nowhere to be seen, as near as I can tell. In our illustration, as in its original, the ram is hidden in the bushes to the left of Abraham’s knife sheath. I didn’t see it the first few times I looked at the picture. Like Abraham, I only saw it because I was expecting to see it.

I especially like the way this illustration drives home the point that the writer of Hebrews makes in vs. 19: Isaac was as good as dead when the angel stopped Abraham’s hand. “Abraham was certain that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did get Isaac back in this way.”

Previous Step. Next Step.
Sacrifice of Isaac by Rembrandt. Click to enlarge.
The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Rembrandt. From the DeLoia family Bible in the possession of Richard DeLoia. Photography by Daryl Lee.


Hebrews 11:20; Genesis 27:27-40, Isaac (11/6/15)

We read this passage recently to look at the punning names “Esau” and “Jacob,” so naturally our emphasis was on Jacob and Esau. The writer of Hebrews, in contrast, emphasizes the frail old man. Nearly on his death bed, Isaac gathers the strength and clarity of mind to bless each of his sons, full of faith that the parental blessing he imparts will reveal and influence God’s will for the futures of his children. Of course he’s irate to learn that the revelation and influence he intended for Esau is going to Jacob instead! Making the best of things, Isaac uses the second blessing to limit Jacob’s power over Esau. Note that it never crosses either Isaac’s or Esau’s mind that the first blessing could be taken back or overturned.

Look for opportunities to say, “God bless you.”


Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 47:31b-48:9, Jacob (11/9/15)

I’ve said before that chapter and verse numbers are the blessing and curse of Bible study. The blessing, because without them it would be difficult to study with a fellow-believer (or even by yourself, if your memory is the kind of sieve mine is). The curse, because sometimes stories – or even paragraphs or sentences! – are divided by chapter or verse numbers. Always read at least 10 verses before and after what you think you are interested in, just to make sure you’ve got the context.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jacob bowed over the head of his staff (or maybe bed) while he was blessing the sons of Joseph. If you read only Genesis Ch. 48, you wonder where in the world the writer got the idea about the staff (or bed). From the previous verse, that’s where, which happens to be in the previous chapter!


Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:22-26, Joseph (11/10/15)

During the lifetime of Joseph, the children of Israel were prosperous and happy in Goshen, in northwestern Egypt. Nevertheless, Joseph predicted a time when they would return to Palestine, and he gave instructions that when they left, his bones were to go with them. The Exodus occurred a few hundred years later. The writer of Hebrews attributes Joseph’s foresight and instructions to his faith.


Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 2:1-12, 12:21-23, 14:21-22, Moses (11/11/15)

Remember that in this chapter the writer of Hebrews is just giving us tiny reminders about people of faith who have gone before us. Most of them have gotten a mention of about a sentence, or maybe half. Moses, one of God’s most faithful servants, gets seven whole verses all to himself. If this seems like a lot, recall that the Story of Moses takes up four books in the Old Testament – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The writer hits only the high points of Moses’ birth, calling, political and religious leadership, and ability to work miracles through his faith in God.


Hebrews 11:30-31; Joshua 2:1-22, Joshua and Rahab (11/12/15)

It’s always interesting to me when God is getting tremendous respect from Gentiles and not from God’s own people. (We see this in the story of Jonah, for example, when the Gentile sailors offer prayers to God while Jonah is busy disobeying God.) The two unnamed Jewish spies aren’t disobedient, but Rahab the Canaanite prostitute is the one who tells of God’s greatness and power. Her belief in the God of the Hebrews enables her to take actions that save her and her family. By the way, Rahab is one of five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, along with Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba (called the “wife of Uriah”), and Mary.


Hebrews 11:32-40, And others too numerous to mention (11/13/15)

The writer of Hebrews says that so many people of faith have gone before us that there isn’t even time or space to mention them in a letter. He names Gideon (Judges 6 – 8), Barak (Judges 4 – 5), Jephthah (Judges 11 – 12), David and Samuel (1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings 1), and the prophets. He tells what faithful people have accomplished and endured. Finally, he makes the point that only with us will their faith come to its true reward. The world has not been worthy of them; let us try to be.


Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalms 110:1-2, Clouds of witnesses (11/16/15)

The writer of Hebrews spent an entire chapter reminding us about the faith of our ancestors, briefly presenting numerous examples of how their faith enabled them to accomplish great things and endure great trials. So, he says, let’s learn from them! Let’s follow their example! And let’s not forget the greatest example of them all, Jesus, who leads us and perfects us, having endured even death for us! Now Jesus sits at the right hand of God, as foretold by David.


Hebrews 12:5-8; Proverbs 3:11-12, Training as sons (11/17/15)

We have been adopted by God! No longer mere servants – although servanthood should be at the core of our Christian walk – but children of God. Wow! But along with adoption comes discipline. Oh, well.

By the way, Hebrews 12:5-6 is identical to Proverbs 3:11-12 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the standard Bible for first-century Jews and Christians.


Hebrews 12:9-13; Isaiah 35:3-4; Heavenly and earthly fathers (11/18/15)

Not everyone has a wonderful earthly father, but those who do receive instruction and correction – discipline – and eventually are grateful for it. In the expectation that we will eventually be grateful for God’s discipline, we should be strong and fear not.


Hebrews 12:14-17; Deuteronomy 29:16-18, Beware unfaithfulness (11/19/15)

A long time ago, a neighbor came to my mother and objected to the children my sister and I played with. She was concerned that those children would be a bad influence on us. My mother responded, “I raise my girls to be a good influence on them.

It’s hard to know what to do about other people’s sin. The writer of Hebrews echoes Moses in warning us against allowing the bitter root of other people’s sin to spring up among us and turn us away from God. On the other hand, they both urge us to be holy – to strive for peace and to keep God’s commandments – in order to prosper and see the Lord. The writer of Hebrews even says that we are to “see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” Your growth in the faith is my responsibility, just as my growth is your responsibility.

So I think my mom was right. Instead of letting other people’s sin spring up to bitterness among us, we should live our lives in such a way that the sweetness of God springs up among them.


Hebrews 12:18-21; Exodus 19:12-22; Deuteronomy 9:16-19, Mt. Sinai (11/20/15)

The writer of Hebrews is talking about holiness and how we will be coming to it. Among other things, we must struggle against sin (vs. 4), embrace God’s discipline (vs. 7), and avoid other people’s sins and take care of the people (vs. 15). Now he is pointing out that we differ from the children of Israel in an important way: they came to Mt. Sinai, which they could only have touched on pain of death. We’ll see Monday how our own destination is different from theirs.


Hebrews 12:22-29; Genesis 4:8-10; Haggai 2:6-7; Psalms 68:7-8; Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 33:14, Mt. Zion (11/23/15)

The writer of Hebrews is winding up the arguments of the book – which in 25 words or less is that Jesus Christ is both the fulfillment of and the perfect replacement for all the promises God had previously made to the children of Israel. Friday we read reminders that when the children of Israel went to Mt. Sinai, they were warned not to come near it, lest they die. In contrast, Jesus now makes it possible and invites us to come onto the mountain of the new covenant, Mt. Zion, the site of the city of God. Notice that in these few verses, he has brief quotations from at least five books of the Old Testament.


Hebrews 13:1-6; Genesis 18:1-2, 19:1-2; Judges 6:11-13, 13:15-16; Psalms 118:6, Entertain strangers, just in case they turn out to be angels (11/24/15)

Apparently the writer of Hebrews thinks that the point has been made: Jesus is the fulfillment of, and therefore superior to, the promises made to God’s people. Now he has a few brief words to say how Christians should live, but he continues to quote the Old Testament. He especially encourages the virtue of hospitality by pointing out that the stranger could be an angel in disguise.


Hebrews 13:7-16; Leviticus 16:27; Psalms 102:25-27, 50:12-15, Prayer and praise are better than sacrifices (11/25/15)

The writer of Hebrews continues to compare the new sacrifice made by Jesus with the old sacrifices made by priests, but he points out that prayer, praise, and good works have always been pleasing sacrifices to God. Certainly verses like Psalms 50:12-15 support that position.


Hebrews 13:17-19; Ezekiel 3:17-21, Listen to your leaders, and pray for them (11/26/15)

Whenever anyone joins the Facebook version of this study, I ask them to pray for me and our fellow-readers. Certainly I hope that you also pray constantly for me and my website volunteer. I’m not asking you to do anything out of the ordinary: both the writer of Hebrews and Paul (Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Philemon 1:6) especially ask prayers for themselves and their fellow-workers.

Why is it so important to pray for us and for your other teachers and preachers? Because we are accountable to God for every one of you whom we teach and to whom we preach! Pray that we always teach sound, Biblical doctrine and preach the love of God through Jesus Christ. Amen!


Hebrews 13:20-25, Concluding words (11/27/15)

The writer of Hebrews concludes his letter with a blessing on his readers, praying that God will equip them to do his will. May all of us take this blessing to ourselves and continue to love God and love our neighbors through Jesus Christ, amen.


More Quotations from the Book of Hebrews
Quotations: A Study of the Book of Hebrews (Chapters 1-6)
Quotations: A Study of the Book of Hebrews (Chapters 7-10)

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