These small group Bible studies of Hebrews contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Hebrews 3 Verse By Verse Bible Study Lesson 

Outline

I. Jesus is superior to Moses (1-6)
II. Do not reject God like in the past (7-11)
III. Stand firm in obedience and faith (12-19)

I. Jesus is superior to Moses (1-6)

Discussion Questions

  • Why are the brethren called “holy”? Are you holy?
  • What is our heavenly calling?
  • Why is Jesus referred to as the Apostle? What does “apostle” mean?
  • Why is He referred to as a High Priest? What things did He and does He do as a Priest?
  • Who appointed Him (from verse 2)?
  • What comparisons and contrasts are made between Jesus and Moses?
  • Why did the author compare these two figures?
  • What is the conclusion?
  • Explain verse 6. What does it mean that we are part of the house of Christ?
  • What signs will show whether or not we are really part of His house?

Cross-References

Verses on holiness:

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Leviticus 20:26 – You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

2 Timothy 2:21 – Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Other verses:

Philippians 3:14 – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Acts 3:22 – For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.

Ephesians 2:22 – And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

1 Timothy 3:15 – If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Teaching Points

1. Holy brethren – God has called all believers to be holy. In 1 Peter 3:15 we learn that we are called to be holy as God is holy. This is God’s plan for us. He desires us to be 100% holy all the time. On this earth because of our old sinful flesh we struggle for this holiness. Paul himself was in a constant tug of war between sin and righteousness (Romans 7). Holiness basically means to be separate (see Leviticus 20:26). We are called to be separate from the world and from sin. We are to be different, set apart.
Are you different? Can people notice something different or even “weird” about you? If not, that is probably because you are not different and have not separated yourself from the world’s ways as you should.

Application: In what ways might believers tend to act like the world around them? In what ways do you need to start being different?

Though we are in a constant struggle for holiness, it is something that we cannot achieve on this earth. Through the process of sanctification and consciously putting off and repenting of our sin, we can get nearer this target, but will never reach it until we face God and He finally wipes away all our sin. Yet the author still calls believers holy. Why?

In God’s sight that is what we are. When God looks at us, He sees not our own sins, but the righteousness of Christ who swapped Himself for us. This is something like the love of a parent, who always looks at the positive side of his children and not the weaknesses. Did you ever meet a parent who was constantly praising their child as being practically an angel and you thought “Really?” Parents tend to view their kids in the best possible light.
When Christ looks at us it is similar. Only in our case He actually replaces our sins and clothes us with His righteousness. Knowing that God looks at you as holy, how should you respond?

2. Partakers of a heavenly calling -. We are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ. Our identity is not to be rooted in our nationality, tax bracket, or club we belong to. It is not in our favorite sports team, our gender, or our vocation. Our core identity is rooted in the fact that we are Christians, followers of Christ. We serve God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven over and above every earthly pursuit. As we have seen, God calls us to holiness. What else does He call us to do? He calls us to be a light in the world. He calls us to share the good news with everyone, everywhere. He calls us to live our lives worthily as His soldiers, His messengers, even His family members.

There are as many causes as there are people. Recently I have gotten solicitations for donations from orphan groups, from Alzheimer associations, from environmental groups, and from groups who focus on the needs of animals. Many of these are good endeavors, but none of these are even close to comparing with the heavenly cause we live for, advancing God’s kingdom and glory on earth. We are allowed to join this cause not just in the low position of an unpaid volunteer, but actually as a family member of the boss. We are children of God and are called to represent our Father to the world.

Application: Are you living worthily of the calling with which you have been called? (Ephesians 4:12) What specific things can you do to advance God’s kingdom here on earth?

3. Apostle – An apostle means “sent one”. Jesus was sent by the Father as He Himself attested to many times.

4. High Priest – A major theme of chapters 4-10 will be Jesus as our High Priest. Here and at the end of chapter 2, the author alludes to this, but doesn’t go into detail. We also will save a detailed examination of it until those chapters. For now, we should note that a priest is someone who goes in between people and God, like a mediator. Jesus performed this task, bridging the gap between us and God.

5. Jesus is superior to Moses. Remember from chapter 1 that a major theme of Hebrews is Jesus’ superiority and pre-eminence. The writer spent much of chapters 1-2 proving that Jesus is superior to the angels. Now in verses 1-6, he shows that Jesus is superior Moses. How did the Jews view Moses? Moses was the most respected figure in all of Jewish history (it is interesting to note however that he was not nearly so popular while he was alive.)

It was through Moses that God freed His people from Egypt. It was through Moses that God performed many awesome wonders that became known around the world. It was through Moses that He gave the people the Ten Commandments and the entire Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). Moses was raised up so high in Jewish culture that it was actually a problem where people were almost becoming followers of Moses instead of followers of God. By showing that Jesus was superior to Moses, the author could show that He is indeed the Messiah and therefore worthy of praise and obedience. He gives several comparisons and contrasts between Jesus and Moses.

A. Jesus and Moses were both faithful to do all of the tasks that God gave them.

B. Jesus should receive more glory because He built the house (God’s kingdom), while Moses was a servant in the house.

C. Moses was a servant in God’s house, while Christ was actually God’s Son. Who has a higher position, Son or servant?

6. We are this house. We are the body of Christ. See cross-references. Christ has brought us by adoption into the very household of God. Signs of being in this house include holding fast and keeping firm in our hope until the end. Some may appear for awhile to be part of the house, but then fall away. True members of God’s family will never fall away. What does it mean to you that you are part of God’s own household? What should you do because of this?

II. Do not reject God like in the past (7-11)

Discussion Questions

  • Why does the author say that this passage (from Psalms) was authored by the Holy Spirit? What does this tell us about the authority and inspiration of Scripture?
  • What does it mean to “harden your heart?”
  • In what way did they provoke God?
  • How were they testing God?
  • What kind of “works” or miracles did they see that God did for the forty years they were in the wilderness? Did these convince them? Why or why not?
  • Why could they not enter into the Promised Land (My rest)? What does this tell us about God’s nature and the consequences of sin?

Cross-References

Psalms 95:7-11 – This passage is quoted from there.

Psalms 78:40-53 – The people didn’t follow Him even after God had done so many miracles in their presence.

Teaching Points

1. Just as the Holy Spirit says – This passage is quoted from Psalms 95. Scholars are not 100% sure who authored it, but many believe David did. Yet here the writer ascribes these words to the Holy Spirit. Why? It doesn’t matter who the human author is. All of Scripture is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit moved people to write down God’s message. The human writer was the tool the Holy Spirit used to bring God’s message to the people. This is another reminder that all of Scripture is God’s words and not mere human’s own opinions. In the beginning of chapter one we noted that we cannot comprehend God on our own. Only if He reveals Himself to us, can we understand His character and plan. Because He did reveal Himself to us and has given us His message, we must PAY ATTENTION to it and take the time to diligently study it!

2. The author first quotes from Psalms 95 about the failures of the Israelites in the Old Testament and then will go on to explain these verses making points and applications from them. Notice that in the coming passages he reviews these verses sometimes more than once. Pastor John MacArthur says that he makes a 3 point exposition of this passage: firstly, “beware of unbelief (12-19), secondly, “be afraid of falling short (4:1-10), thirdly, “be diligent to enter (4:11-13).

3. Let’s review the history of what happened during the 40 years in the wilderness. What did those 40 years teach us about people? What did they teach us about God? Is there an example that should be avoided? What can we learn from what those people did that can be applied to our lives today? What consequences did they face for their unbelief and disobedience?

III. Stand firm in obedience and faith (12-19)

Discussion Questions

  • In what ways might an unbelieving heart manifest itself?
  • How can we increase our faith in God?
  • What can we do to help others not fall away?
  • What specific things can you do to encourage others?
  • In what ways would you like other people to encourage you?
  • What does it mean that we are partakers of Christ?
  • Why do you think the author talks so many times about holding fast?
  • What provokes God?
  • What happened to the people who provoked God?
  • Do you remember what happened when they first were commanded to enter into the Promised Land? What then happened when they tried to enter by their own strength?

Cross-References

Verses on the deceit of sin:

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Romans 7:11 – For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 – And all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

James 1:14-16 – But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.

Verses on encouraging others:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Teaching Points

1. Take care not to have an evil, unbelieving heart – The first two words of this verse are very important. In every area of our Christian life we should take care. That means we should watch ourselves. We should continually evaluate ourselves. If we have any sins or sinful tendencies we must confess them quickly before they can grow and spread. Sin is like a cancer and must be cut out mercilessly. Believers could not actually have this type of unregenerate heart.

The problem is that within a typical church meeting there can be a number of people who appear to be following God on the outside, but their hearts do not belong to God. Whoever professes to be a believer must guard against this. We learned in Hebrews 2:1 that it can be easy to drift away from God. Believers who are walking faithfully with God wouldn’t typically wake up one day and then decide to commit heinous sins (adultery, grand theft auto, tax fraud, etc.) It is often a gradual process.
So when can unbelief start to sneak in?

a) Not getting what we want in prayer – We approach God with a demand in prayer. We do not receive it and grow upset that God hasn’t given us what we want. Doubts may start to creep in.

b) Facing a difficult trial – When facing a trial, some would begin to doubt God’s goodness and/or sovereignty. Any trials can cause a person to begin to grow bitter against God including the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or a painful illness. Once a bitter spirit is tolerated the next step is a complete falling away from the Lord.

c) Not keeping a close relationship with Him – If we are just doing the actions without renewing our mind and heart, unbelief can creep in.

2. We have a responsibility to help other brothers and sisters not to fall away from God. What is it? God has called us to encourage others daily. This is something we should be doing regularly as a lifestyle, not just now and then. God knows our heart’s inclination toward sin. He knows the struggles we face and He knows that if we are on our own, the likelihood that we will fall into sin is much greater. In His great love and mercy He has provided a large Christian family for us. He has provided fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ so that we can be a safety net, a motivator, an accountability partner, and a prayer partner while vice-versa receiving the same in return from others.

What are some specific things we can do to encourage others in their relationship with Christ?

a) Phone calls – Sometimes just seeing a person one time a week during Bible study or church is not enough. Time is limited and people may not have a lot of time outside of study to really get to know what is going on in each other’s lives. Picking up the phone is a great way to learn more about the real life issues others are facing as well as how we can pray for and help them.

b) Face to face meetings – Invite people to your home for meals. Invite your friends out for tea or a meal. Invite other believers out to do sports or exercise together.

c) Emails and letters or cards – Not many people use them these days, but physical cards can be a great encouragement.

d) Text Messages – One of the simplest ways to encourage others is through a simple text message to show each other we care.

e) During these meetings go deeper in your conversations. Share what you have been learning in the Word. Share prayer requests. Share struggles and victories. Don’t just talk about the weather and how busy you are at work.

3. We are partakers of Christ – Jesus said that His disciples needed to actually eat His flesh. This was an illustration for the total commitment we need and the fact that we must totally rely on Him. We can not be His disciple unless we completely identify with Him, making Him the Lord of our life. It is not acceptable to live our life the same way we did in the past while adding in a 20 minute praise session per week saying how much we love Christ. We need to imitate His character and learn from His example.

4. Provoking God – Sometimes we think of God as a far away being without much contact with or care about what is going on in the world. When we view God like this, we would be tempted to think that He doesn’t care much about our sins (and some might go so far as to think He didn’t even see it) like we learn in Proverbs, “A fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”
We need to realize that our sin provokes God. It is grossly offensive to Him.

5. The consequences of sin – Don’t be fooled. God sees our sin. How does He react to it? Verse 17 shows us that it makes Him angry. This is the righteous anger which flows out of His holy nature.

Example: The people who provoked God with their sins in the wilderness wandered in it for forty years before dying without ever seeing the promised land. Their sin came with a high cost.

6. In these verses the implication is that just as those people who provoked God could not enter into the land of rest (the promised land), if we follow their example in provoking God, we could not enter into His rest (heaven) either. Don’t think that our fate will be different than theirs. If you have any sinful habits, know that continuing in them is just provoking God. He sees and we will also face the consequences.

Application: What did you learn in this passage that you need to obey in the coming week?

Study Hebrews 4:1-10

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