We'll look first at the earliest possible date for the book, or terminus a quo, and then at the latest possible date, or terminus ad quem. Hebrews' authorship has been debated throughout the years, but this shouldn't prevent us from learning as much as we can about the author and his character from clues found in the text. The book of Hebrews addressed beliefs about angels in a number of passages. At this point, we want to see how the book as a whole was designed to impact the concepts, behaviors and emotions of the original audience. It is probable that the Epistle was written near his second Roman imprisonment, about 60-62 AD. In the past, interpreters pointed to the author's use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, as evidence that he was a Hellenistic Jew. Now, let's consider how the author's rhetorical style also reveals his desire to exhort his audience. He is greater than angels, the Torah, Moses, the Promised Land, priests, Melchizedek, sacrifices, and the covenant. There, the author argued that Jesus was a royal priest like Melchizedek, a priest and king mentioned in the book of Genesis. Now that we've seen how the author's purpose was strengthened by the intensity of his exhortations, we should turn to a second feature of the book: the goal of these exhortations. What has changed, though, is our knowledge of the Order of Melchizedek and our understanding of the Priest’s role in our lives. Exempla are lists of illustrations or examples that follow one after the other to build a persuasive argument for a particular point of view. The Author. And his vocabulary and style give evidence of a mastery of the language that even surpasses the writings of Luke. Melchizedek. So, he did all he could to urge and persuade them to make the right choices. The book of Hebrews was written by two authors. In addition, many commentators have observed that, in passages like Hebrews 5:1-3, the author used the present tense to describe the sacrificial duties of the high priest. How long did the baby Jesus stay in the manger in the stable? So, it seems logical to assume that Peter must have been referring to the book of Hebrews. Anything less does not do justice to the believers whose faith and courage in following Jesus brought us the New Testament in the first place. Each part of this book has its own emphases, and we'll explore these emphases in our next lesson. Who wrote the book of Hebrews? There is a lot of speculation about who exactly wrote the Book of This little flock was the Jewish church at Pentecost, and after the scattering became the audience of the book of Hebrews. They must steadfastly and exclusively live in, and live out, their new relationship in Christ. If we miss this passion, we miss one of the book's most prominent features. In his vision of heaven he sees “the temple” but the specifies that he means “the tabernacle of the covenant law.” So it shouldn’t be surprising that Hebrews seems to address an audience that appreciates the tabernacle but not the temple, as this is the wider audience for the entire New Testament. Listen to what the author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 13:9: In this verse, the author contrasted being "strengthened by grace" with being strengthened "by ceremonial foods." In the third place, the literature at Qumran helps us understand the focus on angels in the book of Hebrews. As we'll explain in our next lesson, this and similar passages don't imply that true believers can lose their salvation. The book of Hebrews compares and contrasts Jesus to key historical people and events from the Old Testament. As modern followers of Christ, we also face temptations to avoid troubles in this life by compromising our commitments to Jesus. For example, synkrisis appears in the book of Hebrews in 7:11-28. He was passionate about his audience and Christ. Since the Reformation it has been widely recognized that Paul could not have been the writer. In the first century, Jews often had to pay special taxes, and they suffered persecution from time to time. It appears to me at least that Paul assume less OT background on their part. What makes this section of Scripture even more terrifying is when we read the next verse out of context, right along with it. But there are reasons to challenge this assumption: dissimilar writing styles, notable theological variations, and a lack of Paul’s customary signature (2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1) to name a few. From a twisted perspective–which would be applying Hebrews 10:26 and 27 to Christians–we can expect some bad stuff from God. In fact, in the book of 2 Timothy, Paul's last letter written shortly before his death, Timothy was free to travel and bring Paul supplies. It does not tell us where the original readers of the book lived. Yet, we can benefit in many ways from these complex teachings. Interestingly, the author of Hebrews didn't address the sorts of issues normally associated with Jewish hypocrisy and legalism. People who study Bible books often begin with these subjects. Although the exact date for Hebrews remains uncertain, the earliest and latest dates for this book can be established rather firmly. In this verse the author wrote: Here we see that "Timothy [had] been released" recently from prison. Read Scripture. In 13:3 the author also referred directly to present persecutions when he said: We can see from this verse that the author exhorted his audience to "remember those in prison as if [they] were their fellow prisoners." We'll look first at its authorship. A number of Jewish writings often exalted angels as powerful, glorious creatures who brought divine revelations to inferior human beings. We'll explore the background of Hebrews by considering three interrelated topics. Interestingly enough, even though the audience was theologically immature, the book of Hebrews contains some of the most advanced, sophisticated theological teachings in the entire New Testament. This oratorical technique appears in the familiar list of the faithful in Hebrews 11. In other words, unusual or strange teachings taught by local Jewish communities. https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-general-epistles In the first place, we've already noted that in Hebrews 13:9, the author spoke against a particular example of eating ceremonial foods. They probably had many elderly people. (Even if he did write it, Hebrews—note the name—is still Jewish in nature, and is in no way to or about the Church the Body of Christ and is in no way about anything God is doing in our Dispensation of Grace.) Second, the book of Hebrews emphasizes subjects that don't receive much, if any, attention in Paul's letters. Christ, the Sinless One, is our only valid representative before the throne of God. Ancient Rome, the likely location of the people addressed in the book of Hebrews. The Book of Hebrews does not tell us its author’s name. We've also focused on the original purpose of Hebrews by examining how the author wrote his book to exhort his audience to turn from local Jewish teachings and to reaffirm their loyalty to Jesus as the Messiah. A Major Reason for Hebrews. It's quite possible that the expression "word" — or message — "of exhortation" was a first-century technical designation for what we call a sermon today. This is the first lesson in our series The Book of Hebrews and we've entitled it, "The Background and Purpose of Hebrews." Ceremonial Foods. And he dealt at length with Christ as the high priest. I agree with you that this is a very pertinent question that should be addressed in commentaries and study guides, even if we don’t have a good answer to it. They had been there since Pentecost of 31 AD. It then builds to a more complex conclusion that the audience initially doubts, but can now more easily accept. The book of Hebrews is a long list of reasons to cling to Jesus. On the other side, the latest likely date for the book would be around A.D. 95 shortly before Clement of Rome referred to the book of Hebrews in his letter, 1 Clement. They should have made great doctrinal progress. In addition to persecution in the past and in the present, the author of Hebrews acknowledged in 12:3-4 that his audience was facing the threat of more persecution in the future. And to remember those "mistreated as if [they themselves] were suffering." Themes in the Book of Hebrews . But despite this discovery, we can still be confident that the author of Hebrews was Hellenistic. Dr. Mark L. Strauss is Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, San Diego. Dr. Craig S. Keener is the F.M. Dr. D.A. Attach an asterisk (*) to the end of a word as a wildcard. These suggestions are interesting, but the most we can say, with any degree of confidence, is that the original audience consisted in large part of Hellenistic Jews who lived outside of Palestine. In fact, the books of Ephesians and Colossians deal with comparable issues in their locations. But for this lesson, we're primarily interested in summarizing the overarching purpose of the book. And the author of Revelation is looking forward to a city that has no need of a temple, because God dwells in the midst of its people. Let's begin by examining the author's identity. If this letter was addressed to believers in Jerusalem before AD 70, it’s almost certain that some of them would have seen and heard Jesus when he was alive on earth. In the first place, the author of Hebrews was a Hellenistic Jew. Another rhetorical device in the book of Hebrews is known as exempla. To look further at what we mean by the intensity of the author's exhortations, we'll look at two issues: first, the frequency of exhortations in the book, and second, the author's rhetorical style associated with his exhortations. Therefore, Hebrews must be later than the year 63, and very probably was written towards 67 in view of its urgent call for perfect faith, “all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:25). Hebrews was written before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. And around A.D. 64, Emperor Nero persecuted Christians in the vicinity of Rome. Paul did not write the Book of Hebrews The ‘style’ of writing, the theological view, and religious memories are different. But there are some other things in the epistle that suggest it wasn’t written to people living in Jerusalem: – The writer says near the beginning, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.”  So neither the writer nor the audience were eyewitnesses of the ministry of Jesus. First, in the earliest manuscript editions of the New Testament books, Hebrews is included after Romans among the books written by the apostle Paul. It's clear that not all of his audience's persecution was in the past. We do have a question, though. Although no author is mentioned (for there is no address), a reference to Timothy (Heb 13:23) suggested connections to the circle of Paul and his assistants. If Jesus gave up his divine attributes to become incarnate, how was he able to do miracles? But, as I have said, there was a human author. Perhaps you were brought here by a search engine or by a link to one of the posts. But this temptation was not what we might first imagine. The teachings of the local Jewish community raised doubts about the Christian claim that Jesus had come to mediate the new covenant promised by Jeremiah. The second major division of Hebrews, in 3:1–4:13, demonstrates that Jesus is to be held above Moses' authority. ( Log Out /  In 8:1–11:40, the author of Hebrews explained the supremacy of the new covenant in Jesus. One hint I didn’t discuss in the blog post (since I said a knowledge of Greek wasn’t necessary) is that the author of Hebrews consistently uses the Septuagint, even resting on readings in that translation that differ from the Masoretic text. And its date does not appear in the book. What do you think? The book of Hebrews compares and contrasts Jesus to key historical people and events from the Old Testament. Apparently, the local Jewish community wanted the original audience to reject Jesus as the Messiah because of their beliefs about the appearance of Melchizedek as the great royal high priest in the last days. This focus was in response to the kinds of beliefs that were similar to teachings in books like The Rule of the Community, The Damascus Covenant, and the War Scroll, as well as the sections of 1 Enoch called "The Book of the Watchers" and "The Book of Dreams." [1] Purpose: The book of Hebrews exalts Jesus and shows that he is superior to the sacrifices of old. From the earliest times, there have been a variety of positions on the authorship of Hebrews. The author's admission that he received his Christian faith secondarily contrasts with passages like Galatians 1:1, 11 and 12, and 1 Corinthians 11:23 where Paul insisted that he received the gospel directly from Jesus. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. In spite of the fact that the message of Hebrews is similar to that of Paul's message in that he believes the Law has been done away with, I agree with the scholars for a number of reasons. D. Hebrews was written during the lifetime of Timothy whom the author knew 30. ( Log Out /  First, as we've already mentioned, this book is anonymous, and it was Paul's practice to name himself in his epistles. We'll look in some detail at each of these divisions in our next lesson. It was written mainly to the Hebrew believers. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. For the longest time, interpreters had difficulty explaining why the comparisons between Melchizedek and Jesus were so important to the author of Hebrews. In all events, it's evident that some in the original audience of Hebrews were sorely tempted to leave the faith. I’ve often wondered if the book was written at least partly with an audience of either Hellenized Jews or Samaritans or both. Place Written. We are not sure who the human author was. The book of Hebrews was probably written shortly after AD 60. And my understanding is that Stephen was a Greek name, and he was picked to help serve the Hellenized Jews who were being marginalized. In fact, as 2 Thessalonians 2:2 makes clear, Paul was deeply concerned that forgeries had spread under his name. If we look at all of Paul’s other inspired letters, he was writing to either Gentile churches or individuals (i.e. Let's look first at the intensity of the author's exhortations to his audience. There the author listed by name: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. The goal of Hebrews' exhortations was not only to urge the audience to reject the local Jewish teachings. Jesus is portrayed throughout as the perfect revelation of God and superior to Angels, Moses, Melchizedek or the Priesthood; and indeed was the Perfect Sacrifice that instituted the New Covenant. They were a church that was growing old. This long list was designed to persuade the audience that servants of God should remain faithful throughout their persecution. Then we'll investigate the original audience. In this lesson on the background and purpose of Hebrews, we've looked at the background of the book of Hebrews, including the author, the audience and the date of composition. Then he pressed his audience further by arguing "how much more" punishment should come to those who "trampled … under foot" one greater than Moses — "the Son of God.". But often, Jewish communities in the Roman Empire were free to observe their faith. Dr. Um also teaches New Testament Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Emerson College. Why were some books removed from the Bible and is it a sin to read them? From what I understand, neither group (and certainly not the latter) was particularly fond of the Jerusalem/Temple-based elite. Why I Believe Paul Did Not Write Hebrews. Also, in 8:13 the author encouraged his audience not to turn back to the "obsolete" sacrificial practices established by God's covenant with Moses. So, it seems unlikely that he would have failed to identify himself had he written Hebrews. He is greater than angels, the Torah, Moses, the Promised Land, priests, Melchizedek, sacrifices, and the covenant. It was written to Jewish Christians who were encountering various pressures to purposely abandon the Christian Faith. We don’t know any Greek and we haven’t looked in any commentaries; this is simply two reasonable laymen looking at each other and reflecting on what we’ve read—both in the text, as well as in the preceding intro. It strikes me that the questions you’re asking are the kind of broad and comprehensive ones that arise naturally from the consideration of an entire book. Interpreters have summarized the overarching purpose of the book of Hebrews in a variety of ways. For this lesson, we'll briefly mention just four topics found in both the book of Hebrews and the documents at Qumran. He exhorted them to remain faithful to Jesus as the Messiah by reminding them of God's promises and blessings in Jesus. You can also read or download the study guides in my Understanding the Books of the Bible series by using the Free Study Guides link at the top of this page. For instance, in 4:14, 16 we read two such exhortations: The author also exhorted his audience by using imperatives, which we often translate as direct orders. This expression is well known from both Greco-Roman and rabbinical traditions and may be translated "light to heavy," "less to great," or "simple to complex." It has been suggested that the title “To The Hebrews” was written on the outside of the script rolls to identify the document as the letter we know as the Letter to the Hebrews. The Lord Jesus occupies the central place in it. The better we can understand those situations, the more clearly we can hear how the word of God was speaking into them, and so into our situation as well. In truth, many of the early Jewish believers were slipping back into the rites and rituals … What is the difference between a birthright and a blessing? The style of the book is sometimes like his style, but sometimes it seems different. Many practices at Qumran are described in the book entitled The Rule of the Community. For this reason, we can't be certain that the author of Hebrews used the Septuagint. Luther had a novel but brilliant guess regarding authorship, proposing that the book was written by Apollos. The Book of Hebrews was written by an unknown author. They'd done well years ago, but the author of Hebrews feared that they might now turn away from Christ to avoid further persecution. He spoke of Timothy, whom he called "our brother," and he also mentioned a group of people from Italy that his audience apparently knew. But Jesus was even greater because he was God's royal Son. Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to be named Emmanuel? So, it's likely that these priestly activities were still going on when Hebrews was written. And then, we'll examine the goal of these exhortations, how the author hoped his audience would respond. After dealing with angels and Moses, the author of Hebrews turned to Melchizedek's priesthood in 4:14–7:28. Now we should turn to our second issue: Hebrews' original audience. For the author of Hebrews it’s the heavenly sanctuary, of which the earthly temple is only a copy and shadow. How do these features of the book fit with the immaturity of the audience? Listen to this exhortation: As this passage indicates, the author expected more persecutions to come against his audience, and he was deeply concerned with this feature of their experience. Not only was the author of Hebrews a Hellenistic Jew, but we can also add to our profile that he was a passionate intellectual. But if we'll open our hearts to hear how the author of Hebrews urgently exhorted his original audience, we'll see how crucial it is that we stand strong in our faith, no matter what opposition we may face. As Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart write in their book How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, we can never really recognize what the Bible is saying to “us now” until we appreciate what it was saying to “them then.”  All of the biblical documents arise out of real-life experiences of communities of believers. Apparently, the original audience of Hebrews had become attracted to these kinds of teachings. 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Synkrisis appears in the first century blessings, but I didn ’ t depend knowing. Than angels, the author 's life we study the book exhortations, how the author and his.. And live out, their New relationship in Christ worship the king of the author and his from!, believer style give evidence of a long list of the New Testament Studies at Theological! Construct something of a profile for the longest time, interpreters had difficulty explaining why comparisons. The woman and the Muratorian Canon, written around who was the book of hebrews written to 170 beautifully and. For John the true temple is Jesus equal to the front of a word to omit results containing word.

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