The book of Hebrews (Hebrews 1)

Bilderesultat for hebrews

The letter to the Hebrews is anonymous. The tradition of Pauline authorship is not reliable, and there are in fact serious reasons to consider this assertion. Luke, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Apollos, Epaphras, Silas, Priscilla and others have been suggested, but in reality we simply do not know who wrote this book (se Who wrote Hebrews? under Hebrews 2). We are aware that the author was well schooled in the Old Testament, acquainted with his audience, capable of writing excellent Greek and a friend of Timothy (Hebrews 13:23).

Hebrews was almost certainly written before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. In light of the author’s determination to demonstrate Christ’s superiority over the Aaronic priesthood and the temple sacrifices; it seems inconceivable that no mention would have been made of the destruction of the temple, the ultimate sign of its rejection by God, had that event already occurred. We know too that the book was written at a time when persecution was becoming a serious concern (13:3). While it is true that imprisonment of Christians leaders took place in the early years of church history (Acts 4:3), on balance this suggests a later date for Hebrews; A.D. 60-70 is possible.

If there is uncertainty about the author of the letter, there is also ambiguity about the addressees. The title, Hebrews (or “To the Hebrews”), was not part of the original text and thus is of questionable value, but most interpreters do believe that the letter was written to Jewish Christians who spoke Greek and probably used the Septuagint.

The author seems ti have been especially concerned that some of these Christians might “shrink back” (Hebrews 10:38), although there seems to have been no danger of their espousing paganism. Hebrews everywhere stresses the superiority of Christ to the glory of the old covenant; thus, it seems more likely that at least some of the readers were tempted to revert to Second Temple Judaism. Against the magnificence of Herod’s temple, the worship service carried out in house churches must have seemed paltry indeed. The author of Hebrews. however, sought to warn his struggling audience that the glory of the early temple was but a shadow, soon to disappear.

A you read, examine the five warnings the author gave the readers regarding their spiritual condition (2:1, 3:7, 5:11, 10:26, 12:25). Note the writer’s statements about Jewish customs and his explanation that Jesus brought a new covenant (pf grace through faith) that is infinitely better than the old one (of obedience to the law). Pay attention to the repeated use of the words “better” and “superior”.

Did you know that in the Law of Moses the priestly function was restricted to the family of Aaron from the tribe of Levi, but Jesus came from the non-priestly tribe of Judah (7:16)? Did you know that the priceless treasures of the Egyptian king Tutankhamen’s tomb included several thousand pounds of pure gold (11:26)?


 

%d bloggers like this: