The Letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who, faced with increasing opposition, were in danger of abandoning the Christian faith. The writer encourages them in their faith primarily by showing that Jesus Christ is the true and final revelation of God. In doing this he emphasizes three truths: (1) Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who learned true obedience to the Father through the suffering that he endured. As the Son of God, Jesus is superior to the prophets of the Old Testament, to the angels, and to Moses himself. (2) Jesus has been declared by God to be an eternal priest, superior to the priests of the Old Testament. (3) Through Jesus the believer is saved from sin, fear, and death; and Jesus, as High Priest, provides the true salvation, which was only foreshadowed by the rituals and animal sacrifices of the Hebrew religion.
By citing the example of the faith of some famous persons in Israel's history (chapter 11), the writer appeals to his readers to remain faithful, and in chapter 12 he urges his readers to continue faithful to the end, with eyes fixed on Jesus, and to endure whatever suffering and persecution may come to them. The book closes with words of advice and warning.
Outline of Contents
Introduction: Christ the complete revelation of God (1.1-3)
Christ's superiority over the angels (1.4—2.18)
Christ's superiority over Moses and Joshua (3.1—4.13)
The superiority of Christ's priesthood (4.14—7.28)
The superiority of Christ's covenant (8.1—9.22)
The superiority of Christ's sacrifice (9.23—10.39)
The primacy of faith (11.1—12.29)
Pleasing God (13.1-19)
Closing prayer (13.20-21)
Final words (13.22-25)
This book, written in the form of a letter, is a sermon about the superiority of Jesus Christ. He is shown to be superior to the angels, to the priesthood of Moses, and to the sacrifices that were made in the Temple. Jesus is described as both the high priest and the sacrifice that takes away the sins of many. Written at a time when the church was being persecuted by Roman authorities, this letter encourages Christians to remain faithful to Christ and to learn from his example of self-sacrifice.
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