Book type: Letter (Epistle)
No. of chapters: 13
Key character(s): God, Jesus, Timothy, Cain, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel 
Brief description: Hebrews – Jesus, the perfect way.
01) Jesus is the pinnacle of Father God’s revelation to us (1:1-2:4)
02) Jesus: God’s son & our brother (2:5-18)
03) Jesus provides the way of faith to God the Father (3:1-4:13)
04) Jesus (in role of High Priest) is the only source of salvation (4:14-5:10)
05) Jesus calls us to maturity (5:11-6:20)
06) Jesus, as atoning sacrifice, is the only priest we need(7:1-10:39)
07) Jesus example inspires a life of faith (11:-40)
08) Jesus example of faith inspires perseverance (12:1-29)
09) Jesus expects us to live a life of love (13:1-21)
10) Concluding remarks(13:22-25)
The book of Hebrews launches straight into the subject, without any introduction, as such it reads more like a sermon than a personal letter. Indeed, we are not sure who penned the book.
The book of Hebrews challenged Jewish converts to Christianity to leave their old practices & traditions behind & step out in faith alone, towards maturity in their belief of Jesus as the Christ. The book boldly proclaims & argues the superiority of Jesus as the only means of reaching God the Father. There follows practical instructions for following Jesus.
In the early church most followers of Jesus were Jewish converts. The book of Acts outlines the history of the early church, showing an increasing numbers of Gentile believers coming to faith. In the end Gentiles greatly outnumbered the Jewish converts. The author of Hebrews was writing to his Jewish brothers, exhorting them to remain in their faith in Jesus. The issue may have been persecution; Hebrews 10:32-39 is the author’s exhortation to remain faithful, referring to a previous time of public abuse. No-one had yet been martyred for their faith, yet Hebrews 12:4 may have represented the authors view that martyrdom was coming.
One of the outstanding features of the book of Hebrews is Chapter 11, which is like a “Faith Hall of Fame” of Old Testament people!
Hebrews focuses on Jesus & presents these doctrinal truths:
01) Jesus the Christ as High Priest & ultimate atoning sacrifice.
02) Christ as author of our salvation.
03) Assurance of salvation & perseverance in salvation.
04) The way of the cross of Jesus the Christ.
Only Hebrews fully develops Jesus the Christ in the role of High Priest, which is a deliberate Old Testament (OT) reference, used to help Jewish converts to recognise Jesus in the OT. The author of Hebrews asserts that Jesus fulfilled & brought to a close the necessity of the OT High Priestly atonement sacrifices. The sinless Jesus offered himself as eternal, all-sufficient sacrifice for all of humanities sins, forever. Sin is serious & the forgiveness of sin costly, but Jesus bore that cost, so that we may have access to God the Father, through the cross.
Assurance & perseverance need to be considered side-by-side. Failing to do that distorts Biblical truth & leads to human error. On the one hand, assurance without perseverance can degenerate into arrogant presumption upon the Lord, on the other hand, perseverance without assurance can lead us into salvation by our own efforts, rather than God’s grace. Both polarised extremes must be avoided.
We are called to bear the cross of Jesus; this is not an optional extra, it is at the heart of Christianity & what it really means to be a follower & disciple of Jesus. We must be prepared to both lay down our lives to die for Jesus, but also lay down our lives in pursuit of living for Him as well. This is impossible for us to do by our will, but the Holy Spirit makes it possible with our co-operation.
The book of Hebrews encourages us to live sacrificially for Jesus, as we await his return. Hebrews supplies both warnings against lukewarm complacency in our Christianity, & strong words to encourage our faith & perseverance, even (& especially) in times of persecution. Hebrews warns us not to live according to the world’s values, but to live for Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith. We are exhorted to keep our spiritual eyes on Jesus, & live for him, always striving to bring glory to His name. As we walk the pilgrim’s path, Jesus is more than able to meet all our needs: He grants us full access to our heavenly Father; we have mutual encouragement with other pilgrims on the way. Remember that Jesus Himself has walked this way, so He is more than able to empathise with the costs we may have to pay in pursuit of our faith & eventual translation to heaven.
Hebrews 1:3 (ANIV)
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 5:8-10 (ANIV)
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 11:1 (ANIV)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 12:7 (ANIV)
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
Fuller list of major characters in Hebrews:
|Jesus||”Saviour”. Christ means “the Anointed One”. (aka Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ, The Messiah, Son of man, Son of God). The central figure of the New Testament, whose life, death, and resurrection are chronicled in the 4 Gospel books.|
|Timothy||Τιμόθεος, Timótheos. Mother was a Jewess convert to Christianity, his father was Greek (Acts 16:1). Resident, and probable native of Lystra a city of Lycaonia. Apostle Paul’s companion and fellow-laborer, one of Paul’s own converts (1 Corinthians 4:17). (Acts 17:14; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1, 19; Phil. 1:1; Phil. 2:19; Col. 1:1; 1 Thes. 1:1; 1 Thes. 3:2, 6; 2 Thes. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:2, 18; 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23)|
|Cain||First son of Adam & Eve.|
|Abel||Second son of Adam & Eve.|
|Enoch||Son of Jared & father of Methuselah. Lived 365 years then “taken by God”.|
|Noah||Build an ark; Only righteous man of his time.|
|Abraham||Man that was told by God to go to from Harran to Canaan with his wife, Sarai/ Sarah and his nephew, Lot; Lived to be 175 years old.|
|Sarah||Wife of Abram/ Abraham; Aunt of Lot; died at age 127.|
|Isaac||Sarai/ Sarah’s son; Husband of Rebekah|
|Jacob||(aka Israel) Second born to Isaac and Rebekah; younger twin to Esau. Was content to stay at home in the tents; favored by Rebekah; Took Esau’s blessing; married to Rachel and Leah; wrestled with God.|
|Esau||First born son to Isaac and Rebekah; older twin of Jacob. Grew up to be a skillful hunter; favored by Isaac; His blessing was taken by Jacob.|
|Joseph||Son of Rachel; sold into slavery by his brothers; died at 110 years of age.|
|Moses||Led Hebrew slaves out of Egypt; parted Red Sea; gave Law and 10 commandments at Mt. Sinai.|
|Rahab||Woman who hid 2 Israelite spies before the conquest of Jericho & Canaan.|
|Gideon||5th judge. Destroyed an altar to Baal. Along with 300 men, the Lord defeated the entire Midianite army. Destroyed Succoth; refused the crown; made an ephod which led Israel to idol worship.|
|Barak||Son of Abinoam; from Kedesh-naphtali. Defeated the Canaanite armies of king Jabin, led by Sisera.|
|Samson||13th judge. Famous for his strength & mighty deeds.|
|Jephthah||9th judge. The illegitimate son of Gilead. A mighty warrior. Defeated Ammonite army.|
|David||Killed Goliath as a boy with a sling stone. 2nd king of Israel. Had 8 wives, concubines & at least 19 sons, including Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel.|
|Samuel||The son of Elkanah & Hannah. Dedicate to the Lord as a Nazirite by Hannah. Last judge of Israel.|