Hebrews - Introduction

Book Introduction - Hebrews

Read first chapter of Hebrews

WRITER: The authorship of Hebrews has been in controversy from the earliest times. The book is anonymous, but the reference in 2 Peter 3:15 seems conclusive that Paul was the writer. See also Hebrews 13:23 . All agree that, whether by Paul or another, the point of view is Pauline. We undoubtedly have here the method of Paul's synagogue addresses. No book of Scripture more fully authenticates itself as inspired.

DATE: From internal evidence it is clear that Hebrews was written before the destruction of the Temple, A.D. 70 (cf Hebrews 10:11 ).

THEME: The doctrinal passages reveal the purpose of the book. It was written with a twofold intent:

  1. To confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfilment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law; and
  2. The hortatory passages show that the writer had in view the danger ever present to Jewish professed believers of either lapsing back into Judaism, or of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ. It is clear from the Acts that even the strongest of the believers in Palestine were held to a strange mingling of Judaism and Christianity (e.g. Acts 21:18-24 and that snare would be especially apt to entangle professed Christians amongst the Jews of the dispersion.

The key-word is "better." Hebrews is a series of contrasts between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ. Christ is "better" than angels, than Moses, than Joshua, than Aaron; and the New Covenant than the Mosaic Covenant. Church truth does not appear, the ground of gathering only being stated ( Hebrews 13:13 ). The whole sphere of Christian profession is before the writer; hence exhortations necessary to warn and alarm a mere professor.

Hebrews is in six divisions, but these include five parenthetic passages of exhortation.

  1. The great salvation1:1-2:18 (2:1-4, parenthetic).
  2. The rest of God, 3:1-4:16 (all parenthetic).
  3. Our great High Priest, 5:1-8,6 (5:11-6:12, parenthetic).
  4. The new covenant and the heavenly sanctuary, 8:7-10:39 (10:26-39, parenthetic).
  5. The superiority of the faith way, 11:1-40.
  6. The worship and walk of the believer-priest, 12:1-13:25 (12:3-17, parenthetic).