Starting May 1st Evergreen Church is launching a 3-Mth Bible Reading Plan through the book of Hebrews. The reading plan is meant to coincide with devotional journaling of each day’s scripture reading. Devotional journaling is then meant to encourage us in connecting with others. Once a week, or maybe twice a month, 2-3 people can agree to meet for roughly a half hour for the purpose of encouraging one another through the scriptures (i.e. Hebrews reading plan). What is provided here is merely some introductory notes to the book of Hebrews to give a bit of context into our journey over the next three months. You may find this helpful. Enjoy.
BOOK OF HEBREWS – INTRODUCTORY NOTES
Context: The book of Hebrews is an Apostolic Letter or General Epistle as is referred to in many bible translations. It is written mainly to devout Jews who have converted to Christianity. And although its author is unknown, it is clear the book of Hebrews is both a warning to Jewish believers who are contemplating a return to Judaism as well as a response to Greek-speaking or Hellenistic converts facing incredible persecution. The major focus from these is to present the Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, as perfect and superior in comparison to anything Judaism and Old Testament covenant has to offer. This Jesus, is the one and only answer to the ills of this life. He is the firm foundation upon which the promise of rest exists. He is, as the author does state, unchanging: “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8)
Author and Audience: As was mentioned above, the author of Hebrews is unknown. For most of Christian history there has been a wide array of assertions as to who the author might be, including Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Apollos, perhaps even Priscilla or Aquila. Whoever did write this work, he or she is not identified in the letter itself. What we can identify from the letter is something of the writer’s intimate understanding of the increasingly growing, terrifying nature of Christian persecution under emperors Claudius (AD 54) and Nero (AD 68) paired with an incredible knowledge of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the Levitical priesthood, Covenant sacrifice, and Worship practice. But more importantly, we immediately sense great concern on the part of the author for the advancing early church: concern over their spiritual apathy, concern over their becoming tired and weak, concern over their entertaining fear, doubt, and a return to former Judaism. Bear in mind, however, the writer’s bold words are wholly wrapped in compassion, urging us all to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find help in our time of need.”(Heb 4:16)
Central Focus: The central focus of Hebrews is to demonstrate specifically to the Jews (while universally to all who profess Jesus Christ), from their own Scriptures, the superiority and preeminence of Jesus Christ over angels, forefathers, prophets and kings, in and through His divinity, humanity, atonement, and intercession before God. And then to further demonstrate the superiority of the gospel of grace over the law of sin and death. By this, the epistle serves to fortify the hearts and minds of Hebrew converts against the familiar constrains of covenant law, and even more so, against apostasy under unimaginable persecution. Then finally, to boldly engage them to “run with perseverance the race marked out, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12).