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Getting to Know the Bible: Hebrews Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Hebrews. But before we get to Hebrews 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Hebrews. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Hebrews, as we prepare to behold and discern Hebrews, beginning with Hebrews 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: General Epistle; the nineteenth book of the New Testament; the fifty-eighth book of the Bible

Authors: Unknown

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 64-68

Audience: Jewish and Gentile Christians

Theme: Christ's Sufficiency

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Purpose of Writing: The letter to the Hebrews was written to encourage Christians in a time of trial. It does so by focusing on the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. While God spoke in the past many times and in many ways, he has now spoken to us by his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the exact imprint of God's nature and who upholds the universe by the word of his power (1:1-3). Jesus accomplished complete salvation for all who trust in him (1:1-10:18). We dare not neglect such a great salvation (2:3; 5:12-6:20; 10:19-39). Rather, in our faith and in our everyday living, we should imitate the example of Christ and of those on the honor roll of faith (chapters 11-13).

Summary: The Book of Hebrews addresses three separate groups: believers in Christ, unbelievers who had knowledge of and an intellectual acceptance of the facts of Christ, and unbelievers who were attracted to Christ, but who rejected Him ultimately. It’s important to understand which group is being addressed in which passage.

The writer of Hebrews continually makes mention of the superiority of Christ in both His personage and in His ministering work. In the writings of the Old Testament, we understand the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism symbolically pointed to the coming of Messiah. In other words, the rites of Judaism were but shadows of things to come. Hebrews tells us that Christ Jesus is better than anything mere religion has to offer.

Overview: The thirteen chapters of Hebrews address five main themes. The first theme teaches the superiority of Jesus (Hebrews 1:1—4:13). Jesus is superior to the angels (Hebrews 1:1—2:18), is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3), and offers a better rest (Hebrews 4:1–13).

The second section addresses the priesthood of Jesus (Hebrews 4:13—7:28). Jesus Himself is a high priest (Hebrews 4:14—5:10). The author next addresses the need for full devotion to Jesus (Hebrews 5:11—6:20), ending the section with a discussion of the priesthood of Jesus in relationship to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7).

The third section focuses on the ministry of Jesus a priest (Hebrews 8:1—10:18). Jesus offers a better covenant than those who came before (Hebrews 8). He also is superior to the sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1–12) and offers a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:13—10:18).

The fourth section discusses the many privileges believers have through Jesus (Hebrews 10:19—12:29). True and false forms of faith are first discussed (Hebrews 10:19–39), followed by a listing of the heroes of the faith in chapter 11. Chapter 12 addresses the need to persevere in faith, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

The fifth section (Hebrews 13) ends with a discussion of some of the behaviors important to living for Jesus. These include how believers treat others (Hebrews 13:1-9) as well as how they are to relate to the Lord (Hebrews 13:10–21).

Application: We are told that there can be no turning back to or continuation in the old Jewish system, which has been superseded by the unique priesthood of Christ. God's people must now look only to him, whose atoning death, resurrection and ascension have opened the way into the true, heavenly sanctuary of God's presence.

Key Verses (ESV):

Hebrews 1:1–2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 2:3: How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:14–16: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 12:1–2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

*Note: Hebrews is commonly referred to as a letter, though it does not have the typical form of a letter. It ends like a letter (13:22-25) but begins more like an essay or sermon (1:1-4). The author does not identify himself or those addressed, which letter writers normally did. And he offers no manner of greeting, such as is usually found at the beginning of ancient letters. Rather, he begins with a magnificent statement about Jesus Christ. He calls his work a word of exhortation (13:22), the conventional designation given a sermon in a synagogue service (see Acts 13:15, where message of encouragement translates the same Greek words as word of exhortation). Like a sermon, Hebrews is full of encouragement, exhortations and stern warnings. It is likely that the author used sermonic materials and sent them out in a modified letter form.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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