THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
INTRODUCTION

"Time to Grow Up In Christ"

Dr. Charles F. Pfeiffer 1


1.   Who Wrote Hebrews?
2.   When Was The Epistle Written?
3.   From What Place Was It Written?
4.  To Whom Was It Addressed?
5.   Why Was The Letter Written?
6.   Are There Companion Epistles?

WHO WROTE HEBREWS?:
The Epistle to the Hebrews is anonymous. The name of Paul was not associated with it until the end of the second century, and even then many other authors were suggested.  The early church suggested Barnabas, Luke, Silvanus, Philip, Priscilla, and Clement as possible writers of the letter.  Martin Luther suggested still another author -- the eloquent Apollos of Alexandria (Acts 18:24-25).  Calvin concluded, "Who, then, composed it is not to be discovered, however hard one labors, but that the nature of the thought, and that the style are quite unlike Paul's is abundantly evidenced."  The Spirit of God has seen fit to use numerous unnamed writers in giving us our Bible.  Neither external nor internal evidence is sufficient to solve the problem of identifying the author of Hebrews.  God spoke through him, however, and his message was designed to edify the Church of Jesus Christ.

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WHEN WAS THE EPISTLE WRITTEN?
Internal evidence indicates that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70).  Since the epistle argues that the death of Christ renders obsolete the Old Testament sacrificial system it seems certain that mention would have been made of the destruction of the Temple if that had already taken place.

The letter makes reference to persecution (12:4) and it implies that Christians had been called upon to suffer much for the cause of Christ.  The persecution under Nero came to a head in A.D. 64, and it is probable that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written some time during the decade A.D. 60-70.

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FROM WHAT PLACE WAS IT WRITTEN?:
Although the letter itself contains no hint of its point of origin, Alexandria in Egypt has often been suggested.  Alexandria contained a large Jewish settlement which formed something of a synthesis between Judaism and Hellenism.  There, during the third and second centuries B.C., the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in the version known as the Septuagint ("The LXX," compiled by 70 scholars) The author of Hebrews consistently quotes from that translation.  The contrast between the "shadow" of the Old Testament and the heavenly reality which finds it ultimate expression in Christ would be of particular interest of Jews who had an interest in Platonic Philosophy, as the Alexandrians did.  Philo of Alexandria (25 B.C. - A.D. 50) was a leading exponent of Hellenistic Judaism.

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TO WHOM WAS THE LETTER ADDRESSED?:
The Epistle "to the Hebrews" was addressed to Jewish Christians. The writer had a particular congregation of believers in mind (cf. 5:11-12; 6:10; 13:19).  We are not certain where they lived -- Jerusalem, Caesarea, Ephesus, and Antioch have been suggested.  The most probably location, however, is Rome.  The epistle was known in Rome as early as A.D. 95 when Clement of Rome quoted it in a letter to the Corinthians.  Internal evidence may be found in the words, "they of Italy salute you" (13:24), implying that Christians from Italy living near the writer wished to be remembered to their kinsmen at home.

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WHY WAS THE LETTER WRITTEN?
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews knew and loved those whom he addressed.  They had been true to Christ in past times of persecution.  There were, however, signs pf defection. and the letter was written to send a warning against apostasy (6:4-8; 10:26-31; 12:14-19).  refuge could not be sought in the Old Testament economy, which was not antiquated (12:18-29).  There must, indeed, be a willingness to press on into spiritual maturity (6:1-3).  Christ is God's "last word" to man and, while He may bring trials into the lives of His children, they must learn that the life of faith is the life of divine blessing.

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COMPANION EPISTLES:
Philemon, Hebrews, James
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1.   Who Wrote Hebrews?
2.   When Was The Epistle Written?
3.   From What Place Was It Written?
4.  To Whom Was It Addressed?
5.   Why Was The Letter Written?
6.   Are There Companion Epistles?

 1 Pfeiffer, Dr. Charles F., Everyman's Bible Commentary, "The Epistle To The Hebrews,"  Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, pp. 7-9


2012-11-23