Hebrews 4:14-16

 |  September 9, 2016

  1. Locate the passage

Hebrews 4:14–10:18 forms the second of three major discourse units in the epistle. The phrase echontes oun, “having therefore,” in 4:14 and 10:19 signal discourse section onset. Hebrews 4:14–16 begins a new major section in the epistle as can be seen in the fact that there are few concepts found in it that also occur in 3:7–4:13.

Hebrews 4:14 should have been a new chapter division in the Bible since it begins a major discourse section of the epistle and since Hebrews 5:1 is introduced by the subordinating conjunction gar “for.”

  1. Genre

Hortatory. Note the imperatival forms: “Let us hold fast” (14), “Let us draw near” (16).

  1. Determine the structure of the text

This passage introduces the theological discourse of 5:1–10 on Christ as the High Priest. There are two imperatives (hortatory subjunctives in Greek): “hold fast” (14), “draw near” (16)

The gar of v. 15 subordinates it to v. 14, and semantically indicates the grounds for holding fast the confession.

  1. Exegete the passage

There is a back reference to 3:1–6 with the repetition of four words: “high priest,” “confession,” “Jesus” and “son.”

There is a chiastic structure formed by the lexical and semantic repetition of “confession” in 3:1, “confidence” in 3:6, “assurance” in 3:14, and “confession” in 4:14. This creates an ABBA structure. The section begins in 3:1 with the admonition to “consider . . . confession,” and the new section in 4:14 begins with the similar exhortation to “hold fast the confession.”

Verse 14 begins with oun and can be viewed as introducing an exhortation based on the immediately preceding paragraph and/or indicating resumption of the topic of the High Priesthood of Jesus in 2:17 or 3:1.

The causal present participle echontes, “having,” conveys the meaning “since we have” and serves as grounds for the two exhortations which follow in 4:14 and 4:16.

The gar of v. 15 subordinates it to v. 14, and semantically indicates the grounds for holding fast the confession.

The second participial clause of 4:15 is introduced by the adversative conjunction de and provides the positive side to the contrast.

Oun should be translated “therefore,” or “consequently” in v. 16 rather than the weak “then” of the NIV since it functions as the conclusion of 14–15 and gives the grounds for the exhortation “let us come.

For more detailed exegetical data on this text, see Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook, 128-35; J. Harold Greenlee, Hebrews: An Exegetical Summary, 147-56; and David L. Allen, Hebrews, 301-13.

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon.

I. 4:14 – “Hold fast….”

4:15 – Both exhortations in v. 14 and v. 16 are based on Christ’s high priesthood and

the fact that he perfectly represents us because he has been tempted in all ways

like us, yet he did not sin. So, depend on Christ by obeying the two commands of

14 and v. 16.

II. 4:16 – “Draw near….”

Category: Sermon Structure
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