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‘Come, Follow Me’ for Oct. 30-Nov. 5: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Hebrews 1-6?

This week’s study guide includes writings on hope, the priesthood and how Jesus Christ ‘is able to succour them that are tempted’

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Hebrews 1-6, which includes writings on hope, the priesthood and how Jesus Christ “is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

Church News recently searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

Context

“Since the letter itself is not addressed to any specific group, speculation has at times arisen among scholars concerning the identity of the intended readers. Apparently the title of the letter, ‘To the Hebrews,’ did not belong to the original text. The content of the letter, however, suggests the appropriateness of the title and that the letter was intended for a specific local group of Jewish Christians known personally by the author.

“Since the letter itself is anonymous, speculation has also arisen over its authorship. The style and language patterns do not seem to be those of Paul; however, many of the ideas and teachings in the epistle are typical of those he set forth in his other letters. Some have therefore concluded that Paul was the author responsible for the teachings and that another was responsible for the literary form of the letter. (See Sidney B. Sperry, “Paul’s Life and Letters,” pages 268-72.) Of great significance to Latter-day Saints is the fact that Joseph Smith regarded Paul as the author of the epistle. (See “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” p. 59; Doctrine and Covenants 128:15.)

“[Hebrews was] apparently [written] from Italy (see Hebrews 13:24), and likely from Rome. The Codex Alexandrinus, an important early Bible manuscript, reads ‘from Rome’ as the place of origin.

“Most scholars place the writing of the letter before the time of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Assuming Paul to be the author, the letter was likely written in the early 60s during his first imprisonment in Rome.

“A tendency of many early Jewish converts to Christianity was to regard their new faith as a sect within Judaism, or a sort of reformed Judaism with Christ in the picture. Shortly before his imprisonment in Rome, Paul had spent a good deal of time in Palestine. He likely had made friends of many Jewish Christians and had seen firsthand the tendency among some Jewish members to revert to the old Mosaic order.

“Therefore, in this letter Paul seems to be warning such Jewish members against apostatizing or reverting to Judaism (see Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:26, 32-39).

“The book of Hebrews ties the lesser law of the Mosaic order to the living Christ by emphasizing the superiority of the new gospel covenant, made effectual by the Savior’s sacrifice, over the old law, and by showing how the old law was actually fulfilled in Christ.”

— J. Lewis Taylor, former Church Educational System instructor and administrator, in the April 1976 Ensign article, “New Testament Backgrounds: Thessalonians through Hebrews”

“The remainder of the New Testament writings — the Book of Hebrews, seven general epistles and Revelation — were mostly written late in the first century to combat troubles within and without the church. Hebrews, 1 Peter and Revelation are Christian answers to conflict with the Roman government. …

“It was to convince some Jewish Christians living in Rome from taking the easy way out by lapsing back into Judaism that the Book of Hebrews was written. The writer’s thesis was to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, of Christ to the prophets and priests of the Old Testament.”

— C. Kent Dunford in the December 1972 New Era article, “The Genesis of the New Testament”

Hebrews 1

“What we know of the nature of God the Father is mostly what we can learn from the ministry and teachings of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. ... The Bible contains an apostolic witness that Jesus was ‘the express image’ of His Father’s person (Hebrews 1:3), which merely elaborates Jesus’s own teaching that ‘he that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9).”

— Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2017 general conference, “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation”

A woman studies the scriptures.
“Come, Follow Me” for Oct. 30-Nov. 5 covers Hebrews 1-6, which includes writings on hope, the priesthood and how Jesus Christ “is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hebrews 2

“Our Savior feels and knows our temptations, our struggles, our heartaches and our sufferings, for He willingly experienced them all as part of His Atonement. Other scriptures affirm this. The New Testament declares, ‘In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). … All who suffer any kind of mortal infirmities should remember that our Savior experienced that kind of pain also, and that through His Atonement, He offers each of us the strength to bear it.”

— President Dallin H. Oak, April 2021 general conference, “What Has Our Savior Done for Us?”

“Another aspect of the Lord’s condescension that helps us exercise faith in Him is this: His mercy, grace, loving-kindness and long-suffering bless us today, tomorrow and forever. Because He experienced the condescension of mortality, He knows how to bless and succor us. 

“‘Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:17-18; see also Alma 7:11-13).

“Can we have faith enough in Him and in the inclusiveness of His love to believe He hears and answers and helps us, even us, in our lowly, dingy, feeble state? That He still reaches to those who are spiritually in-the-dust poor and spiritually dunghill-filthy?

“The Lord continues to do for mankind the things He did during His earthly ministry that were part of His condescension. He, Himself — or by angels or authorized servants on earth — preaches the gospel, administers ordinances, performs miracles and heals the afflictions of people today. He continues to be mindful of us. He is mindful of us as a people. But most miraculously He is still mindful of us individually. In some marvelous way, and though He is not physically present with each of us, He still feels the tug on the hem of His garment from a humble handmaiden in the midst of a multitude. He still hears the cry of the blind, perceives the longing of the sincere publican, calls common men to be His servants, tells the repentant sinner to go and sin no more. He still pleads our cause universally and individually before the Father. He still calls us by name and invites us to arise and come forth unto Him. He still condescends from His high and holy place to lift us.”

— David L. Frischknecht in the December 2011 Ensign article, “The Condescension of Jesus Christ”

Hebrews 4

“Of course, all of us will fall short of our divine potential, and there is some truth in the realization that alone we are not enough. But the good news of the gospel is that with the grace of God, we are enough. With Christ’s help, we can do all things. The scriptures promise that we will ‘find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16).

— Sister Michelle D. Craig, October 2018 general conference, “Divine Discontent”

“Through the agony and anguish of His very soul, [Jesus Christ] voluntarily suffered and paid for the sins of all men. ‘In all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15), He was the only one qualified to pay that ransom. Because of His infinite Atonement, we can inherit eternal life through exercising faith in His name, repenting and keeping the covenants associated with the authorized ordinances of the priesthood.”

— Elder C. Scott Grow in the January 2007 Ensign article, “Lessons from the New Testament: Thou Art the Christ”

A young man receives the priesthood by the laying on of hands.
“Come, Follow Me” for Oct. 30-Nov. 5 covers Hebrews 1-6, which includes writings on hope, the priesthood and how Jesus Christ “is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hebrews 5

“Priesthood authority is not acquired through a course of study or a degree from a seminary. Scripture may educate, increase testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and even generate desires to serve God, but it does not confer authority. Nor does priesthood authority come by inspiration or aspiration. Priesthood authority comes only by ordination. The Bible makes this clear.

“During His earthly ministry, the Savior Jesus Christ told the Twelve Apostles, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit’ (John 15:16). The Apostle Paul taught, ‘No man taketh this honour [the priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron’ (Hebrews 5:4). …

“[Priesthood] authority is obtained only by being chosen and ordained of God.”

— President Dallin H. Oaks in the October 2023 Liahona article, “The Sure Witness of Modern Prophets”

“Adversity in life should not surprise us. Whether it arises from our own sins and mistakes or something else, adversity is a fact of mortal life. Some people think they should be spared from any adversity if they keep God’s commandments, but… Even the Savior was not exempt:

“‘Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

“‘And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him’ (Hebrews 5:8-9).

“For those of us who are accountable, hardship is often a crucial element of our eventually ‘being made perfect.’ It is what makes life more than a simple multiple-choice test. God is not just interested in what we do or don’t do but in what we are becoming. If we are willing, He will teach us to act as He acts rather than simply to be acted upon by other forces (see 2 Nephi 2:14-16).”

— Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the March 2022 Liahona article, “The Refining Fire of Affliction”

“Paul describes how Jesus prayed ‘in the days of his flesh,’ especially in Gethsemane: ‘When he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared’ (Hebrews 5:7). When you pray, are you really praying or just saying prayers? Are you superficial with your prayers? …

“At the very moment we say, ‘Father in Heaven,’ He hears our prayers and is sensitive to us and our needs. And so His eyes and His ears are now connected to you. He reads our minds, and He feels our hearts. You cannot hide anything from Him. Now, the wonderful thing is that He will see you with eyes of love and mercy — love and mercy that we cannot fully understand. But love and mercy are with Him the very moment you say, ‘Father in Heaven.’”

— Elder Juan A. Uceda, October 2016 general conference, “The Lord Jesus Christ Teaches Us to Pray”

“The Apostle Paul indicates that ‘Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.’ Paul continues, indicating that Christ was ‘called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec’ (Hebrews 5:5, 10). In other words, the higher priesthood came to Jesus from the other side of the veil.”

— Elder Merrill J. Bateman in the December 2007 Ensign article, “A Season for Angels”

A young woman sits on a bed while studying her scriptures.
“Come, Follow Me” for Oct. 30-Nov. 5 covers Hebrews 1-6, which includes writings on hope, the priesthood and how Jesus Christ “is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hebrews 6

“Several months ago I had a dream where, sitting in church on the last row as usual, and with no intention of participating, my vision changed. I saw that scattered among the congregation were other early-returned missionaries. A desire to help them grew in my heart as I looked around. I knew that sharing my experiences could be a way of ministering to them and helping them continue along the covenant path despite this seeming speed bump along the way.

“Through this dream, Heavenly Father let me know that He cares. He appreciates the righteous service we gave as missionaries, no matter how long our full-time service lasted. ‘God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which you have shewed toward his name’ (Hebrews 6:10).”

— Liahona Ficquet in the July 2019 Liahona article, “He Won’t Forget Your Work”

“Do you ever feel like hope uses its feathers to fly as far away from you as possible? As though a loss, trauma or a long unfulfilled wish has snuffed out the song of any hope?

“Perhaps you have seen a growing cynicism in the world around you. Or perhaps you have seen the melancholy weight of hopelessness in yourself. I believe that at some point, likely at several points in life, we all do. And while the temptation to sink into the sludge of despair can be bitterly appealing, hope is the ‘anchor of the soul’ (Hebrews 6:19), and we need that anchor!

“But no matter how dismal things may seem, hope can always be found. Hope itself exists because Jesus Christ suffered an infinite Atonement. Hope is as infinite as His Atonement, so it truly ‘never stops — at all’ (Emily Dickinson).”

— Charlotte Larcabal in the August 2018 YA Weekly article, “5 Places to Look When Hope Is Gone”

“When the Prophet [Joseph Smith] was under inspiration revising the New Testament, he paid careful attention to passages which contained the teachings of these principles. For example, in one of the more confusing biblical passages, Hebrews 6:1, it reads, 

“‘Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.’ Joseph’s inspired translation inserts the word not before the phrase leaving the principles. Of this change he later commented: ‘If a man leaves the principles of the doctrine of Christ, how can he be saved in the principles? This is a contradiction. I don’t believe it. I will render it as it should be — ‘Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.’”

— Richard E. Bennett, former Church history and doctrine professor at Brigham Young University, in the March 2001 Ensign article, “Carefully Schooled in the First Principles and Ordinances”

“Hope is an anchor to the soul. Hebrews 6:18-19 tells us that ‘we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.’

“Hope is a steadying influence. To say it is an anchor is to say it can keep us from drifting aimlessly or getting caught in whirlpools or running into sandbars. Hope, the anchor, is essential in this world so full of tidal waves. Sometimes those waves slap us from behind, sometimes we see them coming but cannot stop them or get out of the way. In all cases, hope ties us to safety. The waves come and go in their fury or playfulness, but hope is always there if we will but use this sure anchor.”

— Sister Elaine S. Jack in the March 1992 Ensign article, “A Perfect Brightness of Hope”

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