In Hebrews, the superiority of Christ over everyone and everything is clearly demonstrated by the author. Christianity supersedes all other religions and can never be surpassed. Where can one find anything better than Christ? Living in Christ is having the best there is in life. All competing religions are deceptions or cheap imitations.
Jews who had become Christians in the first century were tempted to fall back into Judaism because of uncertainty, the security of custom, and persecution. Today believers are also tempted to fall back into legalism, fulfilling minimum religious requirements rather than pressing on in genuine faith. We must strive to live by faith each day.
Writer of Hebrews
Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, Philip, Priscilla, and others have been suggested because the name of the author is not given in the Biblical text itself. Whoever it was, speaks of Timothy as “brother” (13:23).
Possibly written from Macedonia. Silas and Timothy were left behind when Paul left Macedonia and went to Achaia (Acts 17:14). Apparently, the two of them had been separated since then (Hebrews 13:23). perhaps Timothy had rejoined Paul in Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2), while Silas remained in Derbe. Neither one was in Thessalonica. But Silas was expecting that both he, and hopefully Timothy as well, would be in Thessalonica shortly. Therefore, Silas was writing from elsewhere in Macedonia, not Derbe.
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Probably before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in A. D. 70, because the religious sacrifices and ceremonies are referred to in the book, but no mention is made of the temple’s destruction.
To Whom Written
Hebrew Christians (perhaps second-generation Christians, see 2:3) who may have been considering a return to Judaism, perhaps because of immaturity, stemming from a lack of understanding of Biblical truths. To present the sufficiency and superiority of Christ.
Purpose of Hebrews
The purpose of the book of Hebrews was to stress to believers in Thessalonica the importance of giving Christ the highest position – that of being God Himself. Paul and company had been forced to flee from Thessalonica after only three weeks of ministry there. They had gotten the gospel out and many had believed, but they were worried that they had not been able to get the entirety of their message across properly. Silas was concerned that although they had believed in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, that might not have given him the highest place – higher than the law, Moses, the tabernacle, and all else. Thus, he wrote to emphasize the truth of Christ being God, as well as to encourage them in the trials and hardships of persecution that they were facing.
Historical Setting of Hebrews
The repeated use of Old Testament quotations and images in Hebrews suggests that the people who received this book had a Jewish background. The repeated warning against spiritual unbelief reveals that the readers of this epistle were on the verge of renouncing the Christian faith and returning to their former Jewish ways.
In a spirit similar to Stephen’s defense before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 7), Hebrews sets out to show that Christianity is superior to Judaism because of the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, the Great High Priest, and the author and finisher of our salvation. Christ stands as the peak of revelation, superior to angels, and to Moses. He is the Son of God, the reflection of God’s own glory and, indeed, the very character and essence of God. Whatever revelations appeared before Jesus were but shadows or outlines of what was to appear in Him.
Two passages in Hebrews often trouble Christians. In 6:4-6 and 10:26 the author warns that if a person willingly turns from fellowship with Christ, he can no longer be forgiven. The intent of these verses is to cause Christians to remember the great cost of God’s grace and to take their profession of faith seriously, not to cause believers to doubt their salvation. The backbone of this epistle is the finality of Christ for salvation.
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