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Hebrews - Introduction

      That this Epistle is entitled to a place in the New Testament Scriptures has been discussed but little in comparison with the question of its authorship. It is quoted at large by Clement of Rome before the close of the first century, by Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and others in the second century, is found in the Versions of the second century, is named in the Ancient Canons, and is affirmed to be a part of the Holy Scriptures by the Council of Antioch (A. D. 269) and of Nice (A. D. 325); as well as by the later councils.

      It is addressed to HEBREWS; evidently Hebrew Christians; probably not so much those of Jerusalem as the "Dispersion," the multitudes of Jewish Christians in Gentile lands. It shows that those addressed were persecuted, were in danger of being tempted to fall away, that they had not yet shed their blood for Christ, and, in order to strengthen them, the superiority of Christianity to Judaism is demonstrated by showing the superlative excellence of Christ. He is (1) superior to the prophets; (2) superior to the angels; (3) superior to Moses. (4) His priesthood is superior to that of Aaron, being a priest after the order of Melchizedek. (5) Then the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old is shown, being a better covenant, based upon better promises. This is shown in Chs. 8, 9, 10 , and then follows in the remaining chapters an exhortation to steadfastness, based upon faith and strengthened by examples of the heroes of the faith.

      It is evident from the closing words, whatever may have been the writer's reasons for not incorporating his name in the Epistle, that he was well known to those addressed. He asks their prayers, prays for them, speaks of visiting them with Timothy, and closes with the usual Pauline farewell benediction.

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