One of life’s regular ‘chores’ is coming up with sermon series, sometimes for a long while ahead and covering quite long periods. We are already looking at the run-up to Christmas, and I therefore had to come up with no less than twenty-two slots!
Allowing for a couple of ‘specials’, this reduced to twenty — but still a lot. It occurred to me, however, that it has been a long time since we looked at Hebrews. The question then was how to ‘slice and dice’ the letter into a coherent and sufficient number of sections — not too long and not too short — for preaching on Sunday evenings.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun reading G K Beale’s The Temple and the Church’s Mission. This got me thinking about one way to divide up Hebrews, which resulted in the divisions and topics below.
The approach I’ve taken is to look at the letter as an exhortation to the people of the New Covenant to persevere in faith until we come to the true sanctuary of God and enter into our ‘heavenly’ rest by means of the effective sacrifice and priesthood of Jesus, the Son of God and Heir of Creation.
The proposed divisions and titles are as below. Hopefully they make clear the flow of the letter in this regard, and although some of the section divisions may seem unusual they seem to work quite well.
1-2:4 The Son of God and Heir of Creation
2:5-18 The Son and his brethren
3:1-19 The master of the house of rest
4:1-13 The goal of rest
4:14-5:14 A sympathetic priest
6:1-18 A promise to seize
6:19-7:28 A greater priesthood
8:1-13 The need for the new
9:1-14 The Old Covenant temple
9:15-23 The New Covenant blood
9:24-10:12 The New Covenant temple
10:13-25 The New Covenant life
10:26-39 Persevering in faith
11:1-16 Faith looking for fulfilment — from creation to Abraham
11:17-40 Faith waiting for us — from Abraham to the Exile
12:1-17 True sons and true heirs
12:18-29 Arriving at the true mountain
13:1-7 The true worship of God
13:8-16 The true priesthood of God
13:17-25 Summary — following your leaders
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