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Introduction to Hebrews

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Introduction to Hebrews. Author’s Email: [email protected] Who Was its Author? The Apostle Paul Here’s what we know about the author from Hebrews itself ( aka internal evidence ): ~ Like Paul, he was a Jew ( 2:1-4 & 4:14-16 ). ~ Like Paul, he was in Italy ( 13:24 ).
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Introduction to HebrewsAuthor’s Email: [email protected] Was its Author? The Apostle PaulHere’s what we know about the author from Hebrews itself (aka internal evidence):~ Like Paul, he was a Jew (2:1-4 & 4:14-16).~ Like Paul, he was in Italy (13:24).~ Like Paul, he was close to Timothy (13:23).~ Like Paul, he was highly educated.~ Like Paul, he was not an immediate disciple of Christ (2:3, cf. 1 Cor. 15:8).~ Like Paul, he was very well acquainted with The Law of Moses, quoting from it approxi- mately 30 times and alluding to it approxi- mately 50 times. (It’s doubtful that any Christian writer was better acquainted with the OT than Paul; cf. Acts 22:3, Acts 5:34, & Php. 3:4-5.) And…~ There are at least 12 similarities in expression and thought in Hebrews to the undisputed writings of Paul; for examples,referencing the propheticstatementthe just shall live by faith is unique to Paul (Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, & Heb. 10:38), and the ending benediction grace be with you all was used by Paul in every letter, but not by any other writer. And… One verse in particular seems to clinch Paul’s authorship:Hebrews10:30.Why?Becausethis exact same paraphrase of Deuteronomy 32: 35-36 is also and only found in Romans 12:19, an undisputed writing of Paul. (Cf. James Burton Coffman’s comments on Rom. 12:198 & Heb. 10:30.) And…Here’s what weknowabout the author from sources outside of Hebrews (aka external evidence):~ All early eastern Christianity attributed the book to Paul from the beginning: Clement of Rome even quoted from Hebrews in the con- text of another of Paul’s undisputed writings (First Corinthians) in AD 95.~ Peter, who wrote his letters to Jews (1 Pet. 1:1 & 2 Pet. 3:1), said in his second letter that Paul had also written to these Jews (2 Pet. 3: 15); and no other known letter better qualifies for this statement than Hebrews. Now…Where Was Hebrews Written? In Italy~ Hebrews 13:24 confirms this.~ It was probably written in Rome where it seems the only church in Italy was located in the first generation of the church and where Paul was imprisoned for a while (perhaps even along with Timothy, cf. 13:23a).When Was Hebrews Written? Mid 60s~It would’ve been just before Paul left Rome (13:23) after his imprisonment there around AD 62 (when he wrote his prison letters), but before the acute persecution under Nero (which began in AD 64) reached them. Why do I say this? Because…~ They had yet to experience bloodshed for Christ (Heb. 12:4), most of which was shed under Nero’s rule.Why&Who Was Hebrews Written To?~ The content (as well as the title) unquestion- ably establishes that the recipients of this let- ter were Jewish Christians. And…~ It was written to prevent them from returning to Judaism (2:1-4, 3:12-13, 4:1-3, 11 & 14, 6: 1-3, 10:23-31, 12:1-3 & 12-16, & 13:13-15). Incidentally…~ This may explain why Paul didn’t identify him- self: such a letter would likely engender more persecution than he was already enduring; be- sides, the recipients knew who the author was (6:9, 10:32-34, 13:18-19 & 23).What Is the Content of Hebrews?~ It contains unanswerable proof for the superi- ority of Christ and His law over Moses and his law, thus fulfilling the author’s purpose.~ To understand the purpose (the “why”) of Hebrews better, let’s talk about…TheBackdropforOurStudyonHebrewsJesus came on the scene fulfilling every Messianic prophecy.~ The Jews, in general, rejected Him as their Messiah. So…~ Jesus warned of the impending doom of their idolized city and temple. So…~ In order to shut Him up, they crucified Him. However, that failed, because…The church He promised to build was es-tablished within two months after He died.~ The Jews, again in general, likewise rejected His church. So…~ Its members preached the same message of doom to their rejecters just as Jesus did. So…~ In order to shut them up, they went about trying to rid themselves of Christianity.This persecution (which included flogging, imprisonment, & even death at the hands of the Jews) was initially led by the enthu-siastic Saul of Tarsus who we know later became the apostle Paul.~ Although the worst of Jewish persecution last- ed for 3.5 years from the establishment of the church (AD 33) until Caligula became Caesar and Saul was converted (AD 37, cf. Acts 9:31), there was always persecution of Christians in some form or another wherever Jews were found in the Roman Empire. So…~ Because Christians were growing weary of the acute pressure to turn their backs on Christi- anity and return to Judaism, Paul took it upon himself to write Hebrews. Besides…~ Since there would be an even greater 3.5-year wave of persecution later when Romans under Nero would ally with Jews against Christians (something Paul may have been able to per- ceive while in Rome), I’m sure Paul saw the imminent future need for this letter. So…No wonder there are seven paragraphs of warning within this letter, warnings which became stronger as the letter progresses—from neglect to rejection.1. A Warning Against Neglect (2:1-4)2. A Warning Against Unbelief (3:7-19)3. A Warning Against Carelessness (4:1-13)4. A Warning Against Immaturity (5:11—6:20)5. A Warning Against Willful Sin (10:26-31)6. A Warning Against Desertion (12:14-17) And…7. A Warning Against Rejection (12:18-29) But…Hebrews isn’t all negative; in fact, it’s more posi-tive than negative. So to appreciate the general, positive content (the “what”) of Hebrews, let’s consult the following … OUTLINE OF HEBREWS:Hebrews: Christ Is Superior!Superior Person (1:1—4:13)Superior to Prophets (1:1-3) Superior to Angels (1:4—2:18) Superior to Moses (3:1-19) Superior to Joshua (4:1-13)Superior Priest (4:14—7:28)Superior to Aaron (4:14—6:12) Superior to Melchizedek (6:13—7:10) Superior to Levi (7:11-28)Hebrews: Christ Is Superior!Superior Pact to Moses’ (8:1—10:18)Superior Promises (8:1-13) Superior Sanctuary (9:1-15) Superior Sacrifice (9:16-28) Superior Results (10:1-18)Superior Principle (Faith) to Moses’ (10:19—13:25)Superior Things (10:19-39) Superior Actions (11:1-40) Superior Relationship (12:1-29)Superior Way of Life (13:1-25)The key word of Hebrews is pretty obvi-ous: it’s the word better, used 13 times.There are 2 other very significant words: perfect and eternal.~ The original word for perfect is used 14 times. And…~ The original word for eternal is used 19 times. So…~ JesusandChristianityarebetter because they provide man a perfect standing before God, and its blessings are eternal.(For a great study outline, cf. The Outline Bible by Harold L. Wilmington.)
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