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The Who, Where, When, and Why of the Book of Hebrews
by Bobby Bruno
5/10/2014 / Bible Studies
Who: no one knows, but was well-known to his readers. (possibly Paul (unlikely), Timothy, Luke (more likely), Barnabas, or Apollos. (P. 348 TxtBk); to persecuted and discouraged Messianic Jews; possibly Greek-speaking (The book is written as if the people knew the Old Testament so therefore to Jews and not Gentiles (p. 349 TB). There are many OT quotes throughout the book.
Where: to Jewish Christians everywhere.
When: possibly written between A.D. 40's and 60's. (p. 349 TB); A.D. 67-69.
Why: To get the Jews to stop break away from Judaism and to follow the fact and faith that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. This is not to say that the Jews should break way from the OT's teachings, warnings, and other things in it that God Himself told the Jews they must follow for all time until His return. The old covenant was still in place, but with Jesus' new covenant supplanting those teachings that didn't go far enough in their meaning (eg: the "hate your enemies" against now "loving your enemies"; and "eye for and eye" against "turn the other cheek"). The OT should still be used by Jews to show them their sin, then to look at how God has given them salvation through Jesus Christ.
To warn of the dangers of drifting away from the faith.
There is a harsher punishment for God's people who have heard the OT message, along with hearing Christ's message, and have not turned to Christ for salvation.
To press on in Jesus who knows their weaknesses and can strengthen them to not sin and live holy lives.
The book of Hebrews is the only book of the Bible that does not tell us who wrote it. There have been many ideas about who authored this book from the Apostle Paul, to Timothy, to Dr. Luke, to Barnabas, and even to Apollos, a friend of both Paul and Barnabas. The unlikeliest candidate is Paul, as this letter does not follow his usual pattern of greeting and salutation, and is not written in his usual style and wordage. The author was thought to be Jewish because of his great understanding of the Old Testament, and his great use of it, using many quotes from many different areas of it to make his point. Still, though no one knows the author, the book of Hebrews is a powerful sermon for Jewish Christians who want to be sure that Jesus is the Way.
Hebrews was written (somewhere between A.D. 67-69) to Jewish Christians (believed to be possibly in Italy) who were being persecuted and were discouraged because of it. Too many Jews who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah were trying to get the Christians to come back to Judaism, to stay with the Old Testament ways, and come away from this false messiah. The author wanted to make sure that they knew that Jesus understood their plight and would strengthen them during this time and wanted to convince them that He would take care of them. This was not to say that the Jews should break away from the Old Testament's teachings, warnings, and other things in it that God Himself told the Jews they must follow for all time until His return. The old covenant was still in place, but with Jesus' new covenant supplanting those teachings that didn't go far enough in their meaning (e.g.: the "hate your enemies" against now "loving your enemies"; and "eye for and eye" against "turn the other cheek"). The Old Testament should still be used by Jews to show them their sin, and then to look at how God has given blessed them with salvation through Jesus Christ.
A few other warnings and admonitions were given to the Christians: 1) To warn of the dangers of drifting away from the faith; 2) There is a harsher punishment for God's people who have heard the Old Testament message, along with hearing Christ's message, and have not turned to Christ for salvation; 3) To press on in Jesus who knows their weaknesses and can strengthen them to not sin and live holy lives. Even though the book of Hebrews was written approx. 2,000 years ago, it is very pertinent for today's new Christians who want to make sure that their salvation is secure and that their life in Jesus is worth living each day.
Life in the spirit study bible, new international version. (1992, 2003). Life Publishers International.
Elwell, Walter A., Yarbrough, Robert W. (1998, 2005). Encountering the new testament: a historical and theological survey 2 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Comment: "After much research pertaining to the authorship of Hebrews, I have found that no one knows for sure who wrote the book."
Author Response: Was it written by the Holy Spirit thru someone who was once an enemy of Christ, but who doesn't want to be identified for fear of death? Was it written by Nicodemus who "knew" the work of Christ and even talked with him (at night, in fear of being seen with Jesus)? Could Nicodemus have been a silent Christian who wanted to keep his position on the Pharisee panel? It is amazing that the Holy Spirit did not want the author of Hebrews known. Why? I guess we will have to wait until we are in heaven to find out.
Comment: "So many times I believe that people go over board when it comes to Theology if you have faith then try and break it down then in my opinion you don't have none."
Author Response: Do you mean that if I try, by faith, to understand the theology of God, then I have no faith? Yes, lots of people do go overboard about theology, but if you don't know the theology behind what you believe, then how do you know that what you believe is true and logical? by reading a good, true, Christian theology book, you learn more about who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and how they operate with in the world and us. Many denominations have a different "theology" (which really means "the study of God"). The world tells us that there are many "faiths" out there. If you don't study the theology of the true God and true Christianity, then how do you defend yourself when someone attacks what you believe? The Bible is our first source, yes, but knowing the "background" of your faith will strengthen you and give you more confidence in defending your faith in God. We've looked at Paul in the last couple of weeks. His "theology" came straight from Jesus Christ, but it is a theology that he used to defend Jesus against the other "gods" that existed in his day. Without that theology, Paul would have floundered in the dirt and would have been seen as less dangerous to the masses he was trying to reach. So, you see, theology is not a bad thing. Read "Christian Theology" by Milliard Erickson. It is a great book that will teach you a lot about everything that has to do with God and Christianity. My Pastor recommended it to me and I do the same to you.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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