I have a personal library of historical Bible resources which I like to draw upon to share my thoughts and observations on The Book of Hebrews. This helps to keep my ego in check as I make it known from where I have drawn my information. In reality, all Bible-based literature comes from “standing on the shoulders” of those who have come before us. The Holy Spirit is our true leader on this journey and therefore, we are left with very little room to boast.
Over the centuries, there has been much debate over the authorship of this eloquently written book. Some believed it to be the work of Apollos, based on Acts 18: 24-28. He was a well-versed Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, a Mediterranean port city in Egypt. Hellenistic Jews are first mentioned in Acts 6: 1 “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” I suggest at your own leisure read the entire chapter. Believing Jews here are divided into two groups. The first are those who had remained in Judea, closer to Jerusalem. They used the Hebrew language and who were appropriately call Jews. The second group had been scattered among the Gentiles and spoke the Greek and Aramaic languages. They used the Greek Old Testament, better known as The Septuagint. The word Hellenists meant Greek-speaking. To Hellenize is to adopt Greek cultures and ideas. It seems that Martin Luther believed this also. However, looking much further back to (A.D. 150-230), Tertullian may have attributed this masterful work. His full name was Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullian, which is a mouth-full; he lived from 155-240 AD. This man was a prolific early Christian author from the Roman province of Africa. Or possibly even Barnabas Joseph, a Jew from Cyprus. But the traditional view is The Apostle Paul wrote it. This is one of the few books of The Bible in which the author chose to remain anonymous. Thus making this fascinating book even more intriguing. However, one thing is for sure, the writer had a deep concern for Jewish believers whose loyalties were divided. Many of them wanted to worship as a Christian with Christians, while on the other hand, some would continue to worship and practice animal sacrifice at the Herod’s Temple. This was problematic because we know that Christ was the final sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, past, present and future: (John 3:16, Heb.4:14-16, 7:27, 9:26, and 10:8-22). Nevertheless, many were double-minded; I guess they wanted both bases covered. I know this would be a great point to preach on, but The Holy Spirit has not asked me to do that, just doing as instructed.
Jesus prophesied of the Temple’s imminent destruction in (Matt. 24:1-25, Mark 13:1-37, and Luke 21:5-36). The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and sacked Herod’s Temple. So the Book most likely was written somewhere between A.D. 60-69. Now that covers the intro, LET US look at the author’s purpose for writing this letter to these Jewish converts.
Heb 13:22 “And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.” The word “exhortation” in Greek is: paraklēsis Thayer Definition: 1) a calling near, summons, (especially for help) 2) importation, supplication, entreaty 3) exhortation, admonition, encouragement 4) consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment 4a) thus of the Messianic salvation (so the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter) 5) persuasive discourse, stirring address 5a) instructive, admonitory, conciliatory, powerful hortatory discourse; Part of Speech: noun feminine. That Greek word “paraklēsis” should be familiar to most of us… it’s one of the attributes ascribed to The Holy Spirit. And the phrase “written a letter” means: “epistellō” Thayer Definition: 1) to send one a message, command 2) to write a letter 3) to enjoin by letter, to write instructions: Part of Speech: verb. We’ll touch on that later on in the study.
It’s good to look words up in their original language. It’s really a necessity because The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic. So how can I live my life as a doer of The Word of God (Jam. 1:22) if I am not willing to put forth the effort in understanding at least some of the verbs? Verbs call us to action. In addition, I must apply myself to knowing something about who wrote it, to whom it was written, their culture and traditions, and the problems the writer addressed. How can I expect to be approved by my Heavenly Father (2nd Tim. 2:15)?
Solomon said: “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And APPLY YOUR HEART TO UNDERSTANDING; 3 Yes, if you CRY OUT FOR DISCERNMENT, And LIFT UP YOUR VOICE FOR UNDERSTANDING, 4 If you SEEK HER AS SILVER, And SEARCH FOR HER AS HIDDEN TREASURES; 5 THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE FEAR OF THE LORD, And FIND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.” Proverbs 2:1-9 (NKJV) To be continued…