Introduction to Hebrews
Who wrote Hebrews? God did – through His Spirit and through a most interesting human author. Intriguing mystery debated for centuries. Barnabus was first documented. Luke, Clement of Rome, Jude, Apollos, Philip, Silvanus, Aquila and Priscilla have all been suggested. Roman Catholic Church supported Paul as author from 400 to 1600. Why not Paul?
Images, theological motifs and terms not found elsewhere in Paul’s writings – concept of Jesus as Great High Priest for example.
169 Greek words used only in Hebrews and not in remainder of N.T.
OT quotations introduced differently than the way Paul does in all other writings: “It is written … “ versus “He says … “
2:3 – author depicts himself as having received the gospel from original witnesses commissioned by the Lord – not personally from Jesus.
Author not identified. Who then??? Clues given by the book::
Mystery author was a dynamic preacher, trained in OT, familiar with Jewish Synagogue and techniques of interpretation, rhetoric and sermon design.
Great skill and eloquence – able to weave major themes together to form a symphony of convincing argument.
Respectful demonstration of opening the OT up to additional revelation using the person of Jesus.
Exhibits the heart of a loving, but firm Christian leader.
A most humble servant. He wrote a masterpiece with the blessed cooperation of God’s Spirit – but refused to identify himself/herself. He clearly demonstrated that he knew it was not about him, but about Jesus.
Case for Apollos:
From Alexandria – Scholarly place to be from – Library – Septuagint etc.
Luke says, “a learned (eloquent) man”
Thorough grasp of the scripture.
Someone like Apollos wrote the book.
To who was Hebrews written, and why?
Another mystery – not clearly identified
Readers must have been familiar with Jewish Synagogue worship and OT scriptures.
Some of them had already abandoned the church and gone back to Judaism.
Perhaps the church at Rome – 13:24 – Earliest documented use of Hebrews was in pastoral letter from Clement of Rome (First Clement). Christians in Rome experienced early persecution when Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome (50-60 AD) see – 5:11-6:3; 10:32-33; 12:4
What was the apparent purpose?
Prepare for more and worse persecution.
Challenge readers to mature.
Encourage readers to get along – agree – make leaders job easier.
When was Hebrews written?
Some say late in 1st century – (hard to believe such a masterpiece came early)
But temple worship described as still currently going on (prior to 70 AD)
I’m okay with the 60’s – don’t see much conflict between late or early 60’s AD.
How is Hebrews relevant to us today?
We need Hebrews to equip us for modern culture wars – slipping back into a minority status in our society and world.
Hebrews is a clear, systematic application of the difference Jesus story makes to God’s story revealed prior to his birth.
We are encouraged to focus on Jesus and draw near to God – not let petty differences separate us – encourage one another to remain faithful unto death. (3:1; 12:1,2; 4:14-16; 10:19-23; 3:13; 10:24-25)
Some Themes in Hebrews:
Authority: “God has spoken…”
Revelation: “…through His Son.”
Jesus: Incarnate and Exalted
Jesus as Great High Priest
Jesus as adequate support in the face of opposition
Draw near to God
Encourage one another
Warning: Failure to accept the gift of God’s Son leaves one with no other hope.
Faithful life before marvelous, numerous witnesses
Focus: Following Jesus to the city whose builder and maker is God.
Read the book a few times and put the main idea of each chapter in your own words.
"22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:22-24