Study Guide

Hebrews Family

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Moms and dads. Sons and daughters. Brothers and sisters. These are the people you love. And sometimes, they're the people you can't stand to be in the same room with. For the early Christians, having a relationship with God was like being part of a family. Sure, sometimes things got tough, but mostly, the family of God was one awesome place to be.

God's Kids

The image of God the Father is nothing new for Christianity, but the author of Hebrews really plays up this imagery, casting the Almighty as the doting dad and humanity as his adorable offspring.

For example, God the Father will leave you stuff in his will:

[Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. (9:15-16)

But sometimes he has to break out the tough love, too:

You have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— "My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts." Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. (12:5-8)

The author's point? God loves humanity like a father loves his kids. He cares for them, supports them, and guides them all through their lives. He's also going to make sure they have the very best (i.e., a seat up in Heaven). And even when he's being totally unfair, this dadly deity has his kids best interests at heart.

Son of a…

If God is the father who loves you, then who exactly is Jesus? God's Son, naturally:

  • "In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds." (1:2)
  • "To which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son; today I have begotten you'? Or again, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son'"? (1:5)
  • "Christ, however, was faithful over God's house as a son." (3:6)

The symbol of Jesus as the son of God is insanely complex and has taken on tons of different meanings since the 1st century. But essentially, saying Jesus is God's son is another way of saying that Jesus and the Big Guy are tight. It speaks to the love and devotion that God has for Jesus and also reflects how sad it was for God to watch his son die.

Siblings in Christ

You might be saying, Wait a minute there, Shmoop. Didn't you just say that Hebrews says we're all God's children? Yes, we did. You get bonus points for good reading comprehension.

That means, according to Hebrews, that we're all brothers and sisters. And Jesus is our brother, too:

  • "The one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters." (2:11)
  • "[Jesus] had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect." (2:17)

That's some sibling rivalry in the making right there.

God might be the loving yet stern father figure in the family, but Jesus is the cool older brother you can come to when you have questions about sex. (His answer? Wait until you're married.)

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