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HEBREWS

 

Introduction (2)

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

I.         THE AUTHORSHIP

 

II.       THE RECIPIENTS

 

III.      THE OCCASION

 

A.  These Hebrews Christians were beginning to wane in their faith.

1.    Hebrews 3:12

 

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

 

2.   Read the book of Hebrews and list all of the passages that describe the recipients of the book.

 

B.   Their wavering seems to stem from persecution being brought upon them (Heb. 12:4).

 

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

 

C.  Turning back to Judaism was a tempting alternative (Handbook, Richards)

1.    Judaism was their root.

2.    The first excitement associated with Jesus as the Christ had passed.

3.    These converts to Christianity had many family members and friends who had continued in Judaism.

4.    The flood of Gentile believers imposed a great strain on Jewish believers…who had always lived in pious separation from Hellenistic culture.

5.    The authorities were beginning to view Christianity as something other than a sect of Judaism.

a.    Judaism was a legally recognized and protected religion.

b.    If Christianity became it “own religion,” it would not have state protection.

 

 

IV.      THE PURPOSE

 

A.  “This book encourages Christians to be faithful.  It warns about apostasy.  By showing the superiority of Christ over all things and the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, it encourages Christians to live by obedient faith.  The correct view of the glory and work of Christ, presented here, is the cure for faintheartedness and backsliding.  Christ is supreme; His people must be faithful unto death” (Know Your Bible, Dunn, 575)

 

B.   The book issues five major warnings against apostasy (2:1-4; 3:7-4:14; 5:12-6:20; 10:19-39; 12:12-29).

 

C.  The “Let us…” passages are used to encourage the Christians to remain faithful and carry out their responsibilities as disciples of Christ (Heb. 13:13).

 

Let us go forth therefore unto him with the camp, bearing his reproach.

 

D.  Christianity is the “better” religion.

 

E.   In Hebrews 11, the heroes of the faith of the Old Testament are presented as examples of obedient faith and faithful endurance.  Their examples should encourage these weary Christians (Heb. 12:1-2a).

 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…

 

V.        THE THEME

 

A.  Stated:  The Superiority of Christ and the Christian Religion

 

B.   Outline:

 

I.             JESUS IS BETTER THAN THE PROPHETS (1:1-3).

II.           JESUS IS BETTER THAN THEANGELS (1:4-2:18)

III.         JESUS IS BETTER THAN MOSES AND JOSHUA (3:1-4:13)

IV.         JESUS IS A BETTER HIGH PRIEST THAN AARON (4:14-7:28)

V.           JESUS MINISTERS UNDER A BETTER COVENANT (8:1-13)

VI.         JESUS SERVES A BETTER SANCTUARY (9:1-12)

VII.       JESUS OFFERS A BETTER SACRIFICE (9:13-10:18)

VIII.     JESUS FULFILLS THE PROMISES (10:19-12:3)

IX.         THE APPLICATION (12:4-13:25)

 

C.  In light of Christ’s preeminence, the readers are exhorted to hold fast to their confession unto the end (Heb. 4:14).

 

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

 

VI.      THE KEYS

 

A.  They key word of the book is “better.”

1.    The word “better” is used 13 times in 12 verses.

2.    See Chart:  The “Better” Things in Hebrews

 

B.   Key Verse:  Hebrews 13:13

 

Let us go forth unto him with the camp, bearing his reproach.

 

VII.    THE DATE

 

A.  “One can only make an educated guess about the date and place of writing” (Nelson, 553).

B.   Most date the book before A.D. 70.  The book of Hebrews seems to indicate that the temple is still standing and in use.

1.    Priests were still offering gifts according to the law (Heb. 8:4-5).

2.    “Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13b).

3.    The plea for the Jewish Christians to come out of the Jewish camp make it unlikely that the temple was destroyed when the book was written (Heb. 13:12-14).

 

VIII.   THE PLACE

 

A.  The only clue we have as the place where the book was written is found in Hebrews 13:24.

 

Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.  They of Italy salute you.

 

B.   It is possible that the author was writing from Rome.

 

 

IX.      THE STYLE

 

A.  The author is the most literary of all the New Testament writers.

 

B.   The book begins like a treatise, proceeds like a sermon, and concludes like a letter.

 

C.  The writer uses figures of speech of a man of culture and has often the periodic structure of the orator with the orators glow and passion.

 

X.        INTERESTING POINTS

 

A.  There are nearly 100 Old Testament references in Hebrews, all of which are from the Septuagint.

 

B.   The epistle refers its citations neither to the Scripture, nor to its authors, but to God or the Holy Spirit, with only two exceptions (2:6 and 12:21) (Dunn, 577-578).