The Agora
Bible Commentary

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The author is unknown, but possibly it is Paul. In the West, from the 4th cent, Paul was universally accepted as author. In the East, Origen, late in life, quotes Hebrews as Paul's. Throughout ancient times no other name was ever put forward as author. [See Lesson, Heb, authorship.]

Recipients: Quite probably the Jerusalem Jewish-Christians, who were in some danger -- at least as individuals -- of leaving the Truth and returnlng to Judaism (cp Act 21:20,21). (It is possible, however, that the letter was sent originally to Jewish Christians in Rome.)

Time: Shortly before AD 70, because of the way in which Temple ritual is described in the present (rather than the past) tense (as Heb 8:4). Moreover, the letter seems to be a warning that all this system would soon pass away (Heb 8:13; 12:26-28)!

Summary: The major purpose of the letter to warn the readers of a danger and to exhort them to faithfulness (thus the frequent applications, eg, Heb 2:1–3; 3:6,12-14; 4:1,11–13; 6:1–12; 10:26–31,35–39; 12:3–17; 13:9). To further this purpose, this letter presents the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant as seen in the Law of Moses. It is sometimes called the "book of better things" because of the frequent description of the new covenant as better or superior to that Law. The letter demonstrate that Jesus was the fulfillment of the symbols in the law and prophecies of the Messiah. With Jesus sacrificed as a sinless man, the need for repeated animal sacrifice was removed and the temporary priesthood replaced by the eternal priesthood of Jesus.

Key verse: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb 1:1).


1. Prologue: Heb 1:1–14

a) The superiority of God's new revelation through Jesus: Heb 1:1–4
b) OT support for this superiority: Heb 1:5–14

2. Jesus is superior to the old covenant: Heb 2:1 – 7:28

a) Jesus made like his brothers to make salvation possible: Heb 2:1–18
b) Jesus greater than Moses: Heb 3:1–6
c) Warning about missing out on Sabbath rest: Heb 3:7 – 4:13
d) Jesus of a better priesthood than Aaron: Heb 4:14 – 7:28
e) Jesus in the priestly order of Melchizedek: Heb 7:1–28

3. Jesus High Priest of a new covenant: Heb 8:1 – 10:39

a) Christ the High Priest: Heb 8:1–13
b) Examples from the tabernacle: Heb 9:1–10
c) The blood of Christ offered once for all: Heb 9:11 – 10:18
d) A believer's rights and responsibilities arising: Heb 10:19–39

4. Faith: Heb 11:1 – 12:28

a) Examples of faith: Heb 11:1–40
b) God's discipline: Heb 12:1–13
c) Warning against refusing God's offer: Heb 12:14–29

5. Conclusion: Heb 13:1–25

See Lesson: Heb, authorship


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