Letter to the Hebrews: Introduction (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 746)
HEBREWS, abbreviated as Heb
Traditional scholars have argued the letter’s audience was Jewish
Christians, as early as the end of the 2nd century (hence its title, “The
Epistle to the Hebrews”).
The 19th Book of the New Testament.
The book of Hebrews is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter).
This Book of Hebews is the 2nd most doctrine-heavy in the New Testament
(Romans is the first).
THE AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING
Most people agree that the writer wrote this letter about AD 60-70. That was about 30-40 years after Jesus died.
The author is still not certain, there is nothing in the book to say who wrote it. For centuries the church thought that the author was the Apostle Paul. But Paul always begins his letters with his name. There have been many suggestions, but nobody knows who wrote this book. All that we know is that Timothy was a friend of both the writer and the readers (13:23).
Purpose of Writing:
Its purpose was to present the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect and superior in comparison to anything Judaism and the old covenant had to offer. The author was writing to a group of Christians who were under intense persecution and some were contemplating a return to Judaism.
He admonished them not to turn away from their only hope of salvation. Though they were faced with suffering, they were indeed following a better way . . . and they should persevere.
Those to whom Hebrews is written seem to have begun to doubt whether Jesus could really be the Messiah for whom they were waiting, because they believed the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures was to come as a militant king and destroy the enemies of his people. Jesus, however, came as a mere man who was arrested by the Jewish leaders and who suffered and even died under Roman crucifixion. And although he was seen resurrected, he still left the earth and his people, who now face persecution rather than victory. The book of Hebrews solves this problem by arguing that the Hebrew Scriptures also foretold that the Messiah would be a priest (although of a different sort than the traditional Levitical priests) and Jesus came to fulfill this role, as a sacrificial offering to God, to atone for sins. His role of a king is yet to come, and so those who follow him should be patient and not be surprised that they suffer for now.[13:12–14]
Some scholars today believe the document was written to prevent apostasy. Some have interpreted apostasy to mean a number of different things, such as a group of Christians in one sect leaving for another more conservative sect, one of which the author disapproves. Some have seen apostasy as a move from the Christian assembly to pagan ritual. In light of a possibly Jewish-Christian audience, the apostasy in this sense may be in regard to Jewish-Christians leaving the Christian assembly to return to the Jewish synagogue. The author writes, “Let us hold fast to our confession”.[4:14]
The book could be argued to affirm special creation. It affirms that God
by His Son, Jesus Christ, made the worlds. “God…hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Son…by whom also he made the worlds”. [1:1–2] The epistle also states that the worlds themselves do not provide the evidence of how God formed them. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”.[11:3]