I know that is probably a weird title, but I don’t know how else to describe what I feel when reading the book of Hebrews! It is so rich, I feel it is a masterpiece within the New Testament.
I will get right to the question that everyone will ask me – who wrote Hebrews?
That is a question that has been debated over and over again. I have researched this a few times, the bottom line is we just don’t know. There are possibilities, but nothing is conclusive. We know that whoever it was had a command of the Jewish practice of worship and Temple service. The writing within the book is some of the most eloquent Greek found. So the person had to be an educated person. The writer is fully acquainted with both the Old Testament and New Testament, and has the great ability to draw substantial references to back up his writings.
Some of the candidates for writing the book are, Barnabas, Paul, Luke, Priscilla or Aquila, or Apollos.
If you must know I cast my vote for Apollos.
Now with the book. Hebrews was written to a predominant Jewish congregation. The problem was that they had been experiencing a mild persecution [boy is that conflict in terms!]. Anyway they were seriously contemplating returning back to their Jewish ways to get out of the persecution lime light. These Jewish believers were withering under the heat of opposition from possibly Judiazers or pagan rulers.
The book’s central message is “press on” – the mild persecution can and should be expected for anyone who wants to live godly. [2 Tim 3:12] We have to be careful not to judge too harshly or quickly. I am sure many of us can think of times when we may have shrank back from giving testimony for Jesus because of fear of repercussions from others.
The writer is eloquent in the first chapter in describing God’s work in history, specifically how that Jesus is the Messiah, His only begotten son. Parallel passages of interest are : 1 John 1:1-4; Col 1:15-18; John 1:1-12. The writer establishes Jesus as the promised Messiah, and God’s Son. He will for the next 10 chapters establish how that Jesus is Superior to anything that the Jewish religious practices had to offer. The word “Better” will be used again and again. For Jesus is a better sacrifice, High Priest, and administrator of a superior covenant.
The Jewish believers were in danger of drifting away from the truths of scripture and the salvation they professed. We might call it backsliding, but this was far worse, they were going to renounce Christ for comfort while on earth. The writer let them know that they hadn’t suffered unto blood yet. In other words, they hadn’t really experienced anything, and if they were going to fall back after such a mild persecution, then they really were not up for the task of serving the Lord. He is not trying to beat them up and guilt trip them. But he was trying to encourage and challenge them to live for Christ who was far superior to anything they thought of returning too.
In chapter 4, we find a very interesting presentation of “rest” – if the Jewish believers thought they could find rest by going back, the writer wanted them to know that rest was not to be found there. Joshua did not give them rest by entering the Promise Land. In chapters 3 and 4, we find the repeated phrase – ” Today if you hear His voice, Do Not harden your hearts.”
The case made of Jesus being far superior is a message we must remember today; often I have had to counsel with people who withered under the “heat” of the world.
We will have to tackle a few questions along the way in this book, but it is so rich in apologetics of Jesus as the Christ – the only Way – John 14:6!