The theme verses of Hebrews

Theme verse of book of Hebrews

One exercise I like to do when outlining a book of the Bible is finding a theme verse (sometimes a couple of verses) that nicely sums up the book—or at least gives me a hint at its structure. When I wrote my first overview of Hebrews, I landed on this:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Heb 10:23–24)

Unlike some books, the epistle to the Hebrews doesn’t have a clear-cut verse that everyone agrees is the theme of the whole book. Here’s why I use Hebrews 10:23–24 as the theme verses for the book.

What I mean by “theme verse”

First of all, I should probably define “theme verse” for this conversation.

Theme verse = a verse or set of verses that sums up the story, structure, and/or theme of the book of the Bible it was written in.

The “theme verse” concept isn’t something the original authors of the Bible had in mind. The Bible wasn’t divvied up into chapters and verses until long, long after the authors were dead. So when we talk about theme verses, we’re not discussing how the Bible describes itself. Plus, we don’t all have the same definition of “theme verse,” so there’s another layer of complexity in the conversation.

But as for me, when I look for a theme Bible verse for a book or chapter, I have two questions in mind:

  1. How can I concisely use Scripture to remember Scripture?
  2. How can I concisely use Scripture to teach Scripture?

We can always write our own outlines, high-level takeaways, and acrostics. But it’s nice to have a verse to quote alongside those things.

Why Hebrews 10:23–24  are the theme verses

If you’ve read How to Study Hebrews, you’ve already seen my breakdown of the book’s structure:

structure-book-of-hebrews

The author writes a letter of exhortation to Hebrew Christians, and it’s primarily a long, long list of reasons to cling to Jesus. In the first section, the writer lists ways Jesus is superior to Old Testament figures:

  1. Jesus is greater than angels (He 1:4).
  2. Jesus is greater than Moses (3:3).
  3. Jesus is greater than Joshua (4:8).

This is also where the author shows how Jesus is God, the Son of God, and the great high priest of God. After warning the listeners not to be “sluggish” in applying their faith, he moves on to describe Jesus’ ministry as our high priest.

Then comes another warning: if we know all this about Jesus, we’d better be faithful to him. There’s nothing else out there for us if we turn up our nose at his sacrifice. And what does faithfulness look like? The author spends the rest of the book describing that.

That’s a really, really high-level overview of Hebrews, but it should serve as a foundation for understanding this list of reasons why I use Hebrews 10:23–24 as the theme verses of the book.

4 reasons these are the theme verses of Hebrews

1. “Hold fast our confession.” This is the main action item for the book of Hebrews. “Hold fast our confession” shows up in the first section of the epistle (3:6, 14; 4:14), and then the author really brings it home in chapter 10. This is the big application point in the book, and these verses make it easier to remember and teach this truth about Hebrews.

2. “Without wavering.” You’ll notice in the diagram above that the theme verse falls into the second of those parenthesis-warnings (10:19-31). The author urgently warns the readers not to turn away from the gospel of Jesus in this letter.

3. “He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews is about covenant, and covenants are built on promises. In Bible times, a covenant was an agreement that joined two people (or people groups) together: two became one based on the promises they made to one another. The author of Hebrews spends a good amount of time talking about the new covenant that Jesus initiated, and how much better it is than the old one (the Law of Moses). These verses tell us that he who promised is faithful, which helps us remember and teach the covenant themes in Hebrews.

4. “Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” This is what holding fast to our confession without wavering looks like. It’s a community responsibility—a team sport. The rest of the book examines what this should look like in the lives of the readers.

There you have it! These verses are a great way to remember what Hebrews is about, and a cool starting point for teaching others what it’s about, too. If you’re the verse-memorizing type, this is a great set to have in your mental back pocket.

Like the verse art?

My wife Laura is making a series of art pieces based on the theme verses of the 66 books. If you like, you can pick up a print of this piece at her Etsy shop!


Infographic: Who wrote most (and least) in the Bible?

Of all the authors in the Bible, who’s responsible for contributing the most content? Some of your favorite characters (like Moses and Paul) top the chart, but a few characters you may not know so well also made some sizable contributions. This infographic breaks down who wrote most in the Bible.

And in case you’re wondering who some of these authors are, you can check out their profiles here.

Which biblical author wrote most?

Here’s a breakdown of the five human authors with the biggest contributions to the Bible. And just so you know, I’m pulling these word counts from the original languages, not our English Bibles. I used The Lexham Hebrew Bible for the Old Testament authors (though I had to break out the NASB interlinear for the Aramaic in Ezra) and the NA27 (Greek New Testament).

authors-who-wrote-most-of-the-bible

 

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Let’s break those numbers down

So now we know the five more prolific authors of the Bible, but just how do their works line up with the rest of the Bible, word-count wise?

1. Moses

This guy is credited with 125,139 words in the Bible—specifically the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Psalm 90. Granted, it’s probably a little less than that (since he wouldn’t have recorded his own death … right?), but he’s the main guy who wrote down the Law God gave Israel. He’s also the one who gets credit for compiling the history of Israel from creation to Joseph in the book of Genesis.

So, 125,139 words. The Bible’s only about 611,000 words long*, which means Moses wrote a little more than 20% of the Bible. That’s incredible. In word count, Moses stands a good head and shoulders above all the other writers. And if you consider all five books of the Pentateuch to be one five-fold book, that means Moses wrote the longest book of the Bible.

Of course, it makes sense that Moses composed so much. The last bit of Deuteronomy says Moses has a special relationship with God: the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, not just in dreams and visions (Dt 34:10). With that much contact with God, Moses better have a lot to say!

* “Only about 611,000 words long”? I must be losing touch with reality to be writing sentences like this.

2. Ezra

Ezra is a scribe who has traditionally been called the author of 1 & 2 Chronicles and the book that’s named for him. He’s knowledgeable of the Law of Moses and committed to teaching it to the rest of the people (Ezr 7:10). And he sure does!

Ezra’s word count comes to 43,618 words in Hebrew and Aramaic: about 7% of the Bible. Which may not sound too impressive next to Moses’ word count, but then, we don’t have much direct God-speaking-directly-to-Ezra footage in the Bible.

3. Luke

You’ve probably heard someone say that Paul wrote half of your New Testament. With condolences to Paul’s fan club: it turns out Luke wrote a lot more. Luke’s responsible for 37,932 Greek words, which means he wrote more than 6% of the Bible.

Luke’s a friend of Paul’s who interviews eyewitnesses of Jesus in order to get all the facts down. Afterward, he records the history of the early church’s expansion (and this time, he is one of the eyewitnesses). Luke is a physician (Col 4:14) whose meticulous interviewing process brings forth the Gospel of Luke (which is the longest book in the New Testament) and the book of Acts.

4. Jeremiah

The “weeping prophet” is actually responsible for the largest book of your Bible: Jeremiah. He’s the one sounding the alarm of the impending invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, but the people of Judah will not listen. In fact, they try to off the prophet time after time (which factors into the weeping).

But Jeremiah doesn’t just write the longest book of the Bible. He’s also credited with writing the book of Lamentations, a clever collection of acrostics that mourn the fall of Jerusalem. These two books bring his tally to 35,306 words, which is just shy of 6% of the Bible.

5. Paul

Here he is! He may not have written half the New Testament, but he is responsible for more individual documents in your Bible than anyone else. Paul wrote 12 letters to the early churches and church leaders, and of all the New Testament writers, he’s the one who gives us the most insight as far as how the church should work, and the doctrinal reasons why.

Paul rounds out the top five with a word count of 32,408—a few ticks over 5% of the Bible.

OK, so who wrote the least in the Bible?

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the list of chaps who made the smallest contributions to the Bible. I’ll list these down from greatest contribution to the smallest. And yes, this is still in the original languages, and from the same Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek resources.

5. Jude

With only 461 words in his single-chapter letter, Jude is the author with the fifth-smallest contribution to the Bible. That’s only about 0.08% of the Bible.

And the word counts just get smaller from here.

4. Obadiah

He wrote the least popular book of the Bible and the shortest book of the Old Testament: just 440 words, which is 0.07% of the Word.

3. Agur

This guy wrote Proverbs 30. He was a wise man, but compared to God, he says he feels like a real dummy (Pr 30:2). He gets 419 words in the Bible.

2. Lemuel

The mysterious king who wrote Proverbs 31—which is really a tribute to Lemuel’s mother. He has 350 words in the Bible.

1. Heman

This guy was a pretty famous wise man (1 Ki 5:11), and he weighs in lightest of all the Bible’s authors. He has 233 words to his name, but even that is a pretty generous figure. Heman coauthored Psalm 88 with the sons of Korah (who wrote several more of the Psalms).

Download that infographic (don’t worry: it’s free)

I’m totally OK with you using the infographic above in your sermons, Sunday School lessons, and the like. All I ask is that you link back to my website when you use it.

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Hebrews: the infographic

Did you know that the book of Hebrews is the second-most doctrine-heavy book of the New Testament? Or that it may have been written as a sermon first and then sent around to churches? Or what about why Hebrews was written in the first place?

Well, now there’s an infographic on the book of Hebrews with all this, well, info. I made this to give you a really high-level overview of Hebrews, and you’re free to share it with your blog readers, congregation, and Sunday school class. And if you want to know more about Hebrews, remember that you can check out my free study guide on the epistle.

Enjoy!

Infographic: the book of Hebrews

Hebrews-epistle-infographic-structure

Want to know more about Hebrews? Here’s a free study guide!

Free Hebrews study guideI wrote a 55-page guide that takes you through an overview of the epistle. It also points out more of those major themes, some important things to keep in mind, and practical steps in studying the book.

It’s yours for free! Just put in your email address to get the free guide (and to get more cool Bible-study tidbits and freebies from me).

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