THE LETTER OF ST. PAUL TO THE HEBREWS
The Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews is preceded by his Letter to Philemon and followed by the Catholic or Universal Letters, the first being the Letter of James.
The Letter to the Hebrews is one of the most important letters of the New Testament, for it speaks to the Priesthood of Christ Jesus, and his one Sacrifice which redeemed mankind and established God's New Covenant. The Letter emphasizes the everlasting priesthood of Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (7:1-8:12), and that he sacrificed himself once for our sins (7:27, 9:26-27, 10:12-14).
Melchizedek, whose name is found only twice in Hebrew Scripture, was the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, who brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram (Genesis 14:18-19). In Psalm 110, a Psalm of David, David announced to his successor - "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4). God declared his son Jesus Christ high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10).
Three passages that are often quoted from Hebrews include the three elements that were in the tabernable of the Ark of the Covenant: the gold jar with the manna, the staff of Aaron, and the tablets of the covenant (9:3-4); the definition of faith - faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (11:1); and the admonition: do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (13:2).
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews has traditionally been attributed to St. Paul, and the Letter has been considered the 14th letter of the Pauline corpus. But from early times there has also been a question as to who actually wrote Hebrews. The question had been raised, for it does not begin with the traditional opening phrase of the first thirteen letters, "Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus." It has further been noted that the language and style appear different than the other letters.
Those who think the author was not Paul often point to Hebrews 2:3, "it was confirmed for us by those who heard him," which suggests that it was someone that was not there (in the presence of Jesus) that wrote the Letter. As the Apostles were there in the presence of the living Jesus, this line suggests that it was someone other than an Apostle that wrote the Letter to the Hebrews. However, this does not exclude Paul, for Paul was not there! It was not until he was thrown from his horse on the road to Damascus that Saul met the risen Christ (Acts 9)!
If it was not Paul who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews, it was likely someone in Paul's circle that wrote the Letter, for Hebrews exhibits Pauline authority and influence, and is consistent with the Pauline corpus.
Consistent themes throughout the Pauline corpus include, for example, Christocentric soteriology; Christ as a sacrifice (I Corinthians 5:7, Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 9:26); the superiority of the New Covenant over the Mosaic law; communion with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:18, Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-22); God's promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:16-18, Hebrews 6:13-18); and Abraham's response of faith (Romans 4:1-25, Hebrews 11:8-12). The intense use of the word promise throughout the Pauline corpus including Hebrews suggests unity of thought. The letter also includes the tendency of Paul to use the language of an athletic contest such as a race. In addition, the moral exhortation in Chapter 12 and the closing in Chapter 13 - with mention of Timothy - are typically Pauline in nature.
The early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, who lived in the second century, stated that Paul wrote Hebrews - "the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in Acts: "The words, 'Paul the Apostle', were probably not employed, because, in sending it to the Hebrews, who were prejudiced and suspicious of him, he wisely did not wish to repel them at the very beginning by giving his name."
Attribution of Hebrews to Paul is supported by the discovery of the papyrus manuscript P46, which has Hebrews following Romans. This manuscript is dated from about 200 AD, which precedes the parchment codices by roughly 150 years.
St. Jerome, when he translated the Greek version of the New Testament into Latin, included Hebrews as one of the 14 Letters of the Pauline corpus.
The following Scripture is from the Douay-Rheims Bible, now in the public domain. The Douay-Rheims Bible was the standard English Bible for Catholics for over 300 years, and still remains in use today. The Douay-Rheims Bible was the first approved English translation of St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible. The Old Testament translation was completed at the English College of Douai, France in 1609, and the New Testament at the English College of Rheims, France in 1582. The Douay-Rheims Bible was revised by Bishop Challoner in England from 1749 to 1752. The Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible of 1814 was the one upon which President John F. Kennedy took the oath of office on January 20, 1961 to become the 35th President of the United States.
THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS
1 God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, 2 In these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high. 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.
5 For to which of the angels hath he said at any time, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. 7 And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8 But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of thy hands are the heavens.
11 They shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. 12 And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail.
13 But to which of the angels said he at any time:
Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?
An Appeal to Faith
1 Therefore ought we more diligently to observe the things which we have heard, lest perhaps we should let them slip. 2 For if the word, spoken by angels, became steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward: 3 How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? which having begun to be declared by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. 4 God also bearing them witness by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.
5 For God hath not subjected unto angels the world to come, whereof we speak.
6 But one in a certain place hath testified, saying: What is man, that thou art mindful of him: or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7 Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels: thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and hast set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast subjected all things under his feet. For in that he hath subjected all things to him, he left nothing not subject to him. But now we see not as yet all things subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all.
10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by his passion.
11 For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 12 I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the church will I praise thee. 13 And again: I will put my trust in him. And again: Behold I and my children, whom God hath given me.
14 Therefore because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner hath been partaker of the same: that, through death, he might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil: 15 And might deliver them, who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude.
16 For nowhere doth he take hold of the angels: but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold. 17 Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful priest before God, that he might be a propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that, wherein he himself hath suffered and been tempted, he is able to succour them also that are tempted.
Jesus is greater than Moses
1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus: 2 Who is faithful to him that made him, as was also Moses in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, by so much as he that hath built the house, hath greater honour than the house. 4 For every house is built by some man: but he that created all things, is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be said:
6 But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.
The Infidelity of Israel a Warning
7 Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith: Today if you shall hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation; in the day of temptation in the desert, 9 Where your fathers tempted me, proved and saw my works, 10 Forty years: for which cause I was offended with this generation, and I said: They always err in heart. And they have not known my ways,
11 As I have sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest.
12 Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called today, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end. 15 While it is said, Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in that provocation.
16 For some who heard did provoke: but not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 And with whom was he offended forty years? Was it not with them that sinned, whose carcasses were overthrown in the desert? 18 And to whom did he swear, that they should not enter into his rest: but to them that were incredulous? 19 And we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief.
Faith will bring God's Rest
1 Let us fear therefore lest the promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should be thought to be wanting. 2 For unto us also it hath been declared, in like manner as unto them. But the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with faith of those things they heard. 3 For we, who have believed, shall enter into rest; as he said: As I have sworn in my wrath; If they shall enter into my rest; and this indeed when the works from the foundation of the world were finished. 4 For in a certain place he spoke of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again: If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing then it remaineth that some are to enter into it, and they, to whom it was first preached, did not enter because of unbelief: 7 Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time, as it is above said: Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, he would never have afterwards spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his.
11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief.
12 For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature invisible in his sight: but all things are naked and open to his eyes, to whom our speech is.
14 Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.
16 Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.
1 For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.
Christ Made High Priest by God the Father
5 So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest:
but he that said unto him:
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
6 As he saith also in another place:
Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears,
offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death,
was heard for his reverence.
8 And whereas indeed he was the Son of God,
he learned obedience by the things which he suffered:
9 And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation.
10 Called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedech.
Call for Spiritual Renewal
11 Of whom we have much to say, and hard to be intelligibly uttered: because you are become weak to hear. 12 For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that is a partaker of milk, is unskillful in the word of justice: for he is a little child. 14 But strong meat is for the perfect; for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil.
1 Wherefore leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to things more perfect, not laying again the foundation of penance from dead works, and of faith towards God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and imposition of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 Have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 And are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery. 7 For the earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. 8 But that which bringeth forth thorns and briers, is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.
9 But, my dearly beloved, we trust better things of you, and nearer to salvation; though we speak thus. 10 For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shewn in his name, you who have ministered, and do minister to the saints.
11 And we desire that every one of you shew forth the same carefulness to the accomplishing of hope unto the end: 12 That you become not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience shall inherit the promises.
God's Promise to Abraham is Unchangeable
13 For God making promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom he might swear, swore by himself, 14 Saying: Unless blessing I shall bless thee, and multiplying I shall multiply thee. 15 And so patiently enduring he obtained the promise.
16 For men swear by one greater than themselves: and an oath for confirmation is the end of all their controversy. 17 Wherein God, meaning more abundantly to shew to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have the strongest comfort, who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us. 19 Which we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, and which entereth in even within the veil; 20 Where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.
Jesus Christ a Priest on the Order of Melchizedek
1 For this Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him: 2 To whom also Abraham divided the tithes of all: who first indeed by interpretation, is king of justice: and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace: 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened unto the Son of God, continueth a priest for ever.
4 Now consider how great this man is, to whom also Abraham the patriarch gave tithes out of the principal things. 5 And indeed they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is to say, of their brethren: though they themselves also came out of the loins of Abraham.
6 But he, whose pedigree is not numbered among them, received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction, that which is less, is blessed by the better. 8 And here indeed, men that die, receive thithes: but there he hath witness, that he liveth. 9 And (as it may be said) even Levi who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham: 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedech met him.
11 If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being translated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law. 13 For he, of whom these things are spoken, is of another tribe, of which no one attended on the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 And it is yet far more evident: if according to the similitude of Melchisedech there ariseth another priest,
16 Who is made not according to the law of a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an indissoluble life:
17 For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever,
according to the order of Melchisedech.
18 There is indeed a setting aside of the former commandment, because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof: 19 (For the law brought nothing to perfection,) but a bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh to God.
Jesus Christ is Perfect High Priest and his Priesthood endures Forever
20 And inasmuch as it is not without an oath, (for the others indeed were made priests without an oath;
21 But this with an oath, by him that said unto him: The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever.) 22 By so much is Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And the others indeed were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: 24 But this, for that he continueth for ever, hath an everlasting priesthood, 25 Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.
26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27 Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices first for his own sins,
and then for the people's:
for this he did once, in offering himself.
28 For the law maketh men priests, who have infirmity: but the word of the oath, which was since the law, the Son who is perfected for evermore.
Christ is the Heavenly Priest of a New Covenant
1 Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens, 2 A minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that he also should have some thing to offer. 4 If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest: seeing that there would be others to offer gifts according to the law, 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. As it was answered to Moses, when he was to finish the tabernacle: See (saith he) that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shewn thee on the mount.
6 But now he hath obtained a better ministry, by how much also he is a mediator of a better testament, which is established on better promises.
7 For if that former had been faultless,
there should not indeed a place have been sought for a second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith: Behold, the days shall come, saith the Lord: and I will perfect unto the house of Israel, and unto the house of Juda, a new testament: 9 Not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they continued not in my testament: and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the testament which I will make to the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my laws into their mind, and in their heart will I write them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least to the greatest of them: 12 Because I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more. 13 Now in saying a new, he hath made the former old. And that which decayeth and groweth old, is near its end.
The Rites of the Old Covenant Prefigure the New
1 The former indeed had also justifications of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2 For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks, and the table, and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the holy. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the holy of holies: 4 Having a golden censer, and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna, and the rod of Aaron, that had blossomed, and the tables of the testament. 5 And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly.
6 Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. 7 But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own, and the people's ignorance: 8 The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing. 9 Which is a parable of the time present: according to which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which can not, as to the conscience, make him perfect that serveth, only in meats and in drinks, 10 And divers washings, and justices of the flesh laid on them until the time of correction.
Jesus Sealed the New Covenant with his Sacrifice
11 But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: 12 Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
15 And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament:
that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions,
which were under the former testament,
they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
16 For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. 17 For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 Saying: This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you.
21 The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. 22 And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
23 It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Jesus is not entered into the holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holies, every year with the blood of others:
26 For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world:
but now once at the end of ages,
he hath appeared for the destruction of sin,
by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
and after this the judgment:
28 So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many;
the second time he shall appear without sin to them that expect him unto salvation.
The One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
1 For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things; by the selfsame sacrifices which they offer continually every year, can never make the comers thereunto perfect: 2 For then they would have ceased to be offered: because the worshippers once cleansed should have no conscience of sin any longer: 3 But in them there is made a commemoration of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me:
6 Holocausts for sin did not please thee. 7 Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God.
8 In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according to the law. 9 Then said I: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth.
10 In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.
11 And every priest indeed standeth daily ministering,
and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But this man offering one sacrifice for sins,
for ever sitteth on the right hand of God,
13 From henceforth expecting, until his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one oblation he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
15 And the Holy Ghost also doth testify this to us. For after that he said:
16 And this is the testament which I will make unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will give my laws in their hearts, and on their minds will I write them: 17 And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is a remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin.
A Call for Perseverance in Faith
19 Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ; 20 A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh,
21 And a high priest over the house of God: 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), 24 And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: 25 Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.
26 For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. 28 A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But call to mind the former days, wherein, being illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions. 33 And on the one hand indeed, by reproaches and tribulations, were made a gazingstock; and on the other, became companions of them that were used in such sort. 34 For you both had compassion on them that were in bands, and took with joy the being stripped of your own goods, knowing that you have a better and a lasting substance. 35 Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a great reward.
36 For patience is necessary for you; that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise. 37 For yet a little and a very little while, and he that is to come, will come, and will not delay. 38 But my just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please my soul.
39 But we are not the children of withdrawing unto perdition,
but of faith to the saving of the soul.
The Exemplary Faith of the Patriarchs
1 Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.
2 For by this the ancients obtained a testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God; that from invisible things visible things might be made. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice exceeding that of Cain, by which he obtained a testimony that he was just, God giving testimony to his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 5 By faith Henoch was translated, that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had testimony that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him. 7 By faith Noe, having received an answer concerning those things which as yet were not seen, moved with fear, framed the ark for the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world; and was instituted heir of the justice which is by faith.
8 By faith he that is called Abraham, obeyed to go out into a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he abode in the land, dwelling in cottages, with Isaac and Jacob, the co-heirs of the same promise. 10 For he looked for a city that hath foundations; whose builder and maker is God.
11 By faith also Sara herself, being barren, received strength to conceive seed, even past the time of age; because she believed that he was faithful who had promised, 12 For which cause there sprung even from one (and him as good as dead) as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 All these died according to faith, not having received the promises, but beholding them afar off, and saluting them, and confessing that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. 14 For they that say these things, do signify that they seek a country. 15 And truly if they had been mindful of that from whence they came out, they had doubtless time to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is to say, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered Isaac: and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son; 18 (To whom it was said: In Isaac shall thy seed be called.) 19 Accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Whereupon also he received him for a parable. 20 By faith also of things to come, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.
21 By faith Jacob dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and adored the top of his rod. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the going out of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents; because they saw he was a comely babe, and they feared not the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, denied himself to be the son of Pharao's daughter; 25 Rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time,
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of the Egyptians. For he looked unto the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the fierceness of the king: for he endured as seeing him that is invisible. 28 By faith he celebrated the pasch, and the shedding of the blood; that he, who destroyed the firstborn, might not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting, were swallowed up. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, by the going round them seven days.
31 By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with the unbelievers, receiving the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I yet say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, Barac, Samson, Jephthe, David, Samuel, and the prophets: 33 Who by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became valiant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners: 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection.
36 And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bands and prisons. 37 They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted: 38 Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.
39 And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise; 40 God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us.
The Example of Christ Jesus
1 And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: 2 Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. 4 For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: 5 And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying:
My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord;
neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.
6 For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth;
and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. 9 Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live? 10 And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification.
11 Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 And make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed.
Strive for Peace, Purity, and Worship
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God. 15 Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled.
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one mess, sold his first birthright. 17 For know ye that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.
18 For you are not come to a mountain that might be touched, and a burning fire, and a whirlwind, and darkness, and storm, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard excused themselves, that the word might not be spoken to them: 20 For they did not endure that which was said: And if so much as a beast shall touch the mount, it shall be stoned.
21 And so terrible was that which was seen, Moses said: I am frighted, and tremble. 22 But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, 23 And to the church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.
25 See that you refuse him not that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon the earth, much more shall not we, that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven.
26 Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more, and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also. 27 And in that he saith, Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable. 28 Therefore receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace; whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Duties Towards Others
1 Let the charity of the brotherhood abide in you.
2 And hospitality do not forget;
for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.
3 Remember them that are in bands, as if you were bound with them; and them that labour, as being yourselves also in the body. 4 Marriage honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have; for he hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.
6 So that we may confidently say:
The Lord is my helper:
I will not fear what man shall do to me.
7 Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, 8 Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever.
9 Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them. 10 We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
16 And do not forget to do good, and to impart; for by such sacrifices God's favour is obtained.
17 Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.
18 Pray for us. For we trust we have a good conscience, being willing to behave ourselves well in all things. 19 And I beseech you the more to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Final Blessing and Conclusion
20 And may the God of peace,
who brought again from the dead the great pastor of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the blood of the everlasting testament,
21 Fit you in all goodness, that you may do his will;
doing in you that which is well pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.
22 And I beseech you, brethren, that you suffer this word of consolation.
For I have written to you in a few words.
23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty:
with whom (if he come shortly) I will see you.
24 Salute all your prelates, and all the saints.
The brethren from Italy salute you.
25 Grace be with you all. Amen.