All students of the Bible divide the Bible in some way, shape, or form. Sadly, most do not rightly divide the Bible. For example, the majority of professing Christians believe that Hebrews through Revelation is just as much written to them and about them as is Romans through Philemon, the apostle Paul’s 13 epistles. Those who believe that all of the “New Testament” is written to them would call those who disagree with that position “Hyperdispensationalists.”
The prefix hyper means excessive and going beyond normal. Are those who understand “Right Division” going beyond the divisions that God put in His word when they distinguish the Pauline epistles from the Hebrew epistles? No, they are not. They are, however, going beyond tradition. There are certainly spiritual applications within the Hebrew epistles for every Christian today (e.g. Heb 11:1 and 1 Pet 2:2), but the Hebrew epistles make no mention of the three major doctrines found within Paul’s church epistles:
- Justification by the faith OF Christ
- The spiritual Body of Christ
- The rapture of the Body of Christ to be with the Lord in heaven
There is a great difference between the Pauline epistles and the Hebrew epistles. The following are just a few examples:
- Romans 3:28 vs. James 2:24
- 1 Corinthians 12:13 vs. Hebrews 3:6, 14
- Galatians 3:28 vs. James 1:1; Revelation 2:9; 3:9
- Romans 8:35-39 vs. Jude 1:20-21
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 vs. Revelation 1:7
James, Peter, John, and Jude were apostles to the circumcision and there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that that ever changed (Gal 2:9). That is why these letters are addressed to the Hebrews and the scattered twelve tribes abroad (Jam 1:1; 1 Pet 1:1; 2:11-12).
The books of Hebrews through Revelation are written to and about the godly remnant of Israel who will suffer great tribulation as they look for the Second Coming of Christ to the earth to establish His earthly millennial kingdom. They have both a historical application to the kingdom church in the book of Acts (a renewed offer of the kingdom by Peter) and a prophetic application for the future tribulation saints.
One needs only to stop and ask the question, “would a loving God provide specific instructions and provide prophetic insight to His chosen nation, the remnant that is committed to and follows the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order to assist them with enduring the seven-year period that the prophets wrote about?” Indeed He has and that instruction and insight is found within the Hebrew epistles of Hebrews through Revelation. These books are not written to the Body of Christ, but are written to the multitude of tribulation saints that will be living during the time of the culmination of the prophetic kingdom program. Christ foretold of the Hebrew epistles (Jn 16:12-13). Take note of the emphasis on the “last days” of prophecy within the Hebrew Epistles:
1 Peter 1:3-13
2 Peter 3:1-4
1 John 2:18
The books of the New Testament are arranged dispensationally, not chronologically. James was one of the first New Testament books to be written, but it is placed after the Pauline epistles because it is written to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” – the Jews (James 1:1).
There are three transition books within the New Testament that the student of the Bible must take note of:
- Matthew — from prophecy to fulfillment (Matt 11:13)
- Acts — from prophecy to mystery
- Hebrews — from Old Covenant to New Covenant, tribulation to the kingdom
Just as the nine church epistles of Paul are arranged according to the order of doctrine, reproof, and correction for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), so are the nine Hebrew epistles.
New Covenant in the Blood of Christ
- Hebrews = doctrine about the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant
- James = reproof for not proving faith by works
- 1 Peter = correction –> their suffering must precede glory
The Godly Remnant of Israel
- 2 Peter = doctrine –> how to make calling and election sure and not fall
- 1, 2, & 3 John = reproof –> tests to distinguish the children of God from children of the devil
- Jude = correction –> exposing the apostate and false prophets
The Coming of Christ
- Revelation = primarily doctrine, reproof, and correction in chapters 2-3
That the Hebrew epistles are a unit unto themselves is proven by the fact that at the end of each of the Hebrew epistles, there is a leading into the next epistle (Heb 13:20-21; Jam 5:7-11; 1 Pet 5:8-9; 2 Pet 3:17; 1 Jn 5:19-21; Jude 1:22-25). The ending of Revelation does not lead into another book because it completes the group (Rev 22:21). The ending of Philemon is similar to the end of the book of Revelation (Philemon 1:25) because it certainly does not lead into Hebrews and is not instruction for those who will endure the tribulation period.