Home Page Home Page

Hebrews



Lecture
  

Provenance of Hebrews


Authorship
According to Origen, only God knows who wrote Hebrews. The internal evidence from the letter does not name an author. It does mention Timothy, who is normally associated with Paul. External evidence points to Paul, probably because it is an epistle, and Paul wrote many epistles. But Paul usually signed his letters, and the style and content are very different from Paul. Other guesses include Barnabas, Phoebe, Clement of Rome, Luke, Apollos. Apollos has the advantage of being from Alexandria, and Hebrews is similar to some Jewish writings from Alexandria.

Date & Place
c 63 AD, but that's a guess based on the idea that the Temple is still standing at the time of writing. Hebrews 13:24 says, "They of Italy salute you." This could mean that this is being written FROM Italy, or that it is being written TO Italy, and that people who have left there are sending their greetings back home. That's the guess I prefer.
Purpose
In my opinion, the book is an extended treatment of the typological relationship between Old Testament and New Testament. The Christian concept of an Old Testament and a New Testament comes largely from Hebrews. It's in sharp contrast to Marcion's belief that the Hebrew scriptures were unrelated to the Christian scriptures, the Hebrew God to the Christian God.



Hebrews 1:1-2a is the thesis of the book of Hebrews, and the structure is almost poetic:

  The Greek word order is even more instructive:  Πολυμερῶς  καὶ  πολυτρόπως  πάλαι  ὁ  Θεὸς  λαλήσας  τοῖς  πατράσιν  ἐν  τοῖς  προφήταις  2 ἐπí  ἐσχάτου  τῶν  ἡμερῶν  τούτων  ἐλάλησεν  ἡμῖν  ἐν  Υἱῷ.

The typological theme of Hebrews is clear from 1:1-2a. Despite the differences, there is continuity between the two eras in that God spoke then and that God speaks now. So there is continuity.

There is one mystery about Heb 1:1 that I don't know what to make of. It is a similarity between vocabulary between Heb 1:1 & the Odyssey 1:1.

Obviously the terms mean different things in the different contexts, but any educated Greek speaker would pick up on the verbal parallel instantly. I'm not sure what it means beyond being a tipoff to educated Greeks that this was an educated author. It could also mean that the author is either Greek, or an assimilated Jew.


The Structure of Hebrews


  1. Introduction: Godís Final Word to Us in His Son, 1:1-4
  2. Jesus Better than the Angels, and the Ultimate Man, 1:5-2:18
    1. Jesus the Son of God Better than the Angels, 1:5-14
    2. Embedded Warning: Do Not Turn Away from the Word Spoken by Godís Son, 2:1-4
    3. The Son Temporarily Lower than the Angels, 2:5-9
    4. The Son Identifying with and Suffering for the Sons, 2:10-18
  3. Jesus Better than Moses, 3:1-6
  4. Jesus and the Sabbath Rest, 3:7-4:13
    1. A Moralizing Reading of Ps 95: Persevere or Perish, 3:7-19
    2. A Typological Reading of Ps 95: Understanding the Ultimate Rest, 4:1-13
      1. The Typological Chain of Events and Their Meaning, 4:1-11
        (Jesus Better than Joshua)
      2. The Power of the Word of God, 4:12-13
  5. Jesus the Great High Priest, 4:14-7:28
    1. Pastoral Implications of Having Such a High Priest, 4:14-16
    2. The Sonís Appointment as Unique High Priest, 5:1-7:28
      1. Survey Statement: The Sonís Unique Qualifications, 5:1-10
      2. Embedded Warning: The Danger of Apostasy, 5:11-6:12
        1. Spiritual Immaturity, 5:11-6:3
        2. Stern Warning Regarding Apostasy, 6:4-8
        3. Encouragement to Persevere, 6:9-12
      3. The Stellar Certainty of Godís Promise Our Ground of Hope, 6:13-20
      4. The Place of Melchizedek in Redemptive History, 7:1-10
      5. The Superiority of Jesus as Melchizedekian High Priest, 7:11-28
        (Jesus Better than Aaron)
  6. The Superior Ministry of Jesus the Appointed High Priest, 8:1-10:18
    1. The Superior Ministry of the Heavenly High Priest, 8:1-6
    2. The Superiority of the New Covenant, 8:7-13
    3. The Superiority of the New Covenant Offering, 9:1-10:18
      1. A Study in Contrasts, 9:1-14
        • The Old Covenant Sanctuary, 9:1-5
        • The Old Covenant Offering, 9:6-7
        • The Old Covenant Approach, 9:8-10
        • The New Covenant Place, 9:11
        • The New Covenant Offering, 9:12
        • The New Covenant Approach, 9:13-14
      2. Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant, 9:15-22
      3. Christís Perfect Sacrifice, 9:23-28
      4. Shadow and Reality, 10:1-4
      5. The Temporary and the Final, 10:5-18
  7. Pastoral Application in the Light of Christís Superiority, 10:19-25
    1. Let Us Draw Near to God, 10:19-22
    2. Let Us Hold Unswervingly to the Hope We Possess, 19:23
    3. Let Us Encourage One Another, 19:24-25
  8. Perseverance and Faithful Endurance, 10:26-12:29
    1. Embedded Warning: Against Apostasy and an Exhortation to Perseverance, 10:26-39
      1. Stern Warning, 10:26-31
      2. Encouragement to Remember and Persevere, 10:32-39
    2. A Catalog of Old Testament Faithful Endurance, 11:1-40
      1. Faith in the Unseen: The Ante-diluvians, 11:1-7
      2. The Patriarchal Period, 11:8-22
      3. The Exodus, 11:23-29
      4. The Conquest of Canaan and the Period of the Judges, 11:30-32
      5. The Exercise of Faith in Victors, 11:33-35a
      6. The Exercise of Faith in Victims, 11:35b-38
      7. The Expectation of Faith, 11:39-40
    3. Practical Application, 12:1-29
      1. Running with Endurance, Fixing Eyes on Jesus, 12:1-2
      2. Enduring Discipline from Our Heavenly Father, 12:3-17
      3. Rejoicing in Your Identity in the Church of Heavenly Zion, 12:18-24
      4. Warning Not to Reject the One Who Speaks from Heaven, 12:25-29
  9. Concluding Exhortations, Prayers, and Greetings
    1. Confidence in God and the Abolition of Selfishness, 12:1-6
    2. Instructions for the Church, 13:7-19
    3. Prayer and Doxology, 13:20-21
    4. Notes, Greetings, Benediction, 13:22-25
Home Page
Home Page