The New Testament book that we simply refer to as “Hebrews” has been something of a mystery as to its author forever. The earliest church traditions ascribe it to Paul. But there are problems with doing so, not the least of which is the fact that the writing style is so different from anything else he wrote. Also, Paul’s entire ministry, as ordained by the Lord, was devoted to spreading the gospel throughout the Gentile world. So scholars throughout the ages have had to concede that only the Lord knows who wrote it.But neither of those arguments preclude preclude Paul from teaching Jewish Christians. In fact, at a time when Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles was well established, it makes perfect sense for him to do so. Secondly, a different writing style would not be unusual at all when you think about it. The author was addressing his fellow Jewish born Christians, and their backgrounds and frame of reference would certainly be different. They would also have different challenges and experiences with persecution from many of the Gentiles, particularly in the area of idolatry. It hardly matters, though. We have enough information from its acceptance by the early church and from its content itself to be certain of the book’s inspired nature.
It was clearly written in the first century, as the references to Timothy indicate. And the author often writes about the Jewish sacrificial system in the present tense, indicating that it still was being practiced as Jews would expect (such as in Hebrews 9:6-7). This would indicate a date before 70 A.D. The author obviously was familiar with his audience, as indicated by Hebrews 13:17-19:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls…Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order cthat I may be restored to you the sooner.”
The message of the book is to encourage the saints to endure, and to not forsake Christ. His promise of eternal life is just as reliable as any of God’s promises ever have been. It also confirms Him as being fully God, and the upholder of all of creation. He is higher than the angels, and as the new “High Priest,” He is higher than the earthly priesthood of the old covenant.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.