The author of this book is unknown. Suggested authors have included Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Silas, or Apollos. The most common opinion is that the letter was written by Paul. (that’s not my opinion…what is yours?)
Much is unknown about the audience of Hebrews. Though it is addressed to both Jewish and Gentile Christians (since it mentions the Gentile Christian leader Timothy), much of the book emphasizes Christianity in relationship to Jewish teachings. Maybe that is why they titled it “Hebrews”. The theme of persecution is strong, and the temple sacrificial system appears to still be in practice, indicating a time before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. A likely audience was Jewish converts to Christianity, in Rome, during Nero’s persecution of Christians between AD 64 and 68.
The thirteen chapters of Hebrews address five main themes:
- The superiority of Jesus. Jesus is superior to the angels and is greater than Moses.
- The priesthood of Jesus. Jesus Himself is The High Priest.
- The ministry of Jesus as the High priest.
- The many privileges believers have through Jesus.
- The behaviors that are important to living for Jesus. These include how believers treat others, as well as how they are to relate to the Lord.
Just like Romans was a foundational book for the Gentiles, this is the counterpart to the Jews in Jerusalem.
Something to chew on…
Think about this for a minute, before Christ came all Jewish people were taught to make atonement for their sins through animal sacrifice. It is an extremely important part of the religion and their way of life. So Christ comes as the Promised Messiah to fulfill all the ritual acts they were doing, specifically handed down from God himself. Before Christ, they lived a very legal life of order, sacrifice, hierarchy, priests…etc. So now that Jesus did come, and many Jews came to believe, what do you do with all they were taught their whole life? (some of you may be going through this personally as we read this New Testament together).
As long as there is a standing temple (and it won’t be for long), the Jews (even Christian Jews) will feel this human effort desire to make sacrifices to the Lord. Makes sense, it would be really hard to literally change everything that was taught for 2000 years. So God breathes this letter through an unnamed author, confirming all the Law was a SHADOW of The Christ to come. ALL of it.
- The tabernacle,
- The Temple,
- The animal sacrifices,
- The feasts,
- The Priests
Shortly after this book is written to the Christian Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, so God is preparing them for what is to come since only sacrifices and priests are part of a Temple Worship. (that is why Jews do not currently make sacrifices.
God needs to eliminate the temple to focus ourselves on Christ, not on ritual. See all that we learned in the Old Testament WAS a Shadow of Christ. To partake in any exercise that we think earns favor with the Lord in Salvation eliminates our Faith in the Messiah.
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6
Of course, I had to put this…