Home
Bible
Old Testament
New Testament
Christianity
Bible Studies

Hebrews

General

We find the letter to Hebrews in our Bible between the letters of Paul and the 'general epistles'. It is a long letter, in which the author assumes that his readers are familiar with the Old Testament. Although the letterhead is missing, it becomes clear from the end that we are indeed dealing with a letter.

Writer, origin and destination

As noted under 'General', at the beginning of this letter we find no information about who the author is and to whom this letter is addressed. To begin with the latter, it is unmistakably a letter addressed to the Hebrew people. That is the descendants of Abraham, the first man to be called a Hebrew in the Bible (Gen. 14:13). In Hebrews 2:10-17, seven different definitions are used to designate this audience: many sons; those who are sanctified; brothers; Township; children; descendants of Abraham and the people. Already in the first verse of the letter we see that it is about the "fathers" and about "us" (ie the descendants of those fathers) to whom the Lord had spoken through the prophets and the Son. Incidentally, it appears from the letter that it is not always believing Hebrews to whom the writer is addressing.

While many suggestions have been made as to who the writer of the letter to Hebrews was, it seems most obvious that this was Paul. The Statenvertalers even simply mentioned his name as a writer in the letter's caption. If Paul really is the author, it means that he wrote seven earlier epistles (including this one) and seven later ones. In addition, there are the seven general epistles and the seven epistles in Revelation 2 and 3. In itself a balanced whole so ...

Yet we must not ignore the fact that Paul's name is not mentioned. Because of this, the message of this letter cannot automatically be included in the message that Paul had for the Gentiles, let alone that of the body of Christ.

In any case, the letter was written before the destruction of the temple, for in chapter 10:11 the writer shows that the priestly service was still going on. The invitation to go above all to salvation (chap. 3:12 and 4:1 ff.), makes this letter a typical 'Acts time letter' (cf. also Heb. 2:3 and 4). Perhaps we should think of the year 54.

Whole letter structure

A. 1:1-2:18 Doctrinal Introduction.
B. a. 3:1-4:13 The mission of Christ.
b. 4:14-16 General application. "Since we now have ..." (v. 4:14).
B. a. 5:1-10:18 The Priesthood of Christ.
b. 10:19-12:29 Special application. "Since then we possess ..." (chap. 10:19).
A. 13:1-25 Practical conclusion.

Purpose and content

Besides the urgent exhortation to the Hebrews to enter into salvation and not to remain unbelieving in this letter, this letter contains a beautiful and rich testimony concerning the Lord Jesus; namely, that He - and what He has brought - is higher, better and more perfect. Whoever leafs through this letter will automatically come across these things. In chapters 1 and 2 we see the Son in His higher position than the angels. In chapter 3 we see Him with greater glory than Moses. Chapter 4 describes Him as the true Joshua, Who will bring His land into real rest. Chapters 4-8 shows Christ in His capacity as a priest: higher and of an altogether different order from the Levitical priesthood; and not of the old covenant, but of the new. In Hebrews 9 the better sanctuary is discussed, while in chapter 10 the perfect sacrifice - that of the body of Jesus Christ - is described.

From chapter 10:19 onwards, the writer, then appeals to these things, urges to walk above all in faith (think of the important eleventh chapter about the witnesses of faith), after which an urgent appeal again to the Hebrew people, the progeny of Abraham, is done.

All in all, the letter to Hebrews is a rich source with a lot of information and explanations about God's work with His people, in the context of the new covenant.

core text

"Let our eye be (only) fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith ..." (chap. 12:2a).