Introducing Hebrews 10-12

Today we begin a series in the New Testament book of Hebrews. So today, we’re going to introduce the letter and look at some of the background issues. That means there’ll be a bit more nerd content today, but it’s important if we’re going to understand what Hebrews is trying to do.

Genre

And to be honest, we don’t know a lot about the book of Hebrews. In fact, we’re not entirely sure what it is. It’s not really a letter – like most of the New Testament books. Normally we get both the sender and the addressee identified at the start – but with Hebrews, there’s none of that. And the bulk of it doesn’t read like a letter at all. All we get are the last four verses, which sign off like a letter:

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Hebrews 10:19-25

Yesterday we began a series in Hebrews 10-12, and saw that the writer was speaking to a group of Greek-speaking, probably Jewish Christians (a double minority group). He urged them to persevere in following Jesus, despite the fact that they were being persecuted and shamed by their families and community. And throughout Hebrews he uses every possible means to persuade them to keep going and not to shrink back into conformity (i.e. into Judaism).  The first nine chapters show, in painstaking detail, how Christ is far superior to anything Judaism had to offer (angels, Moses, the priesthood and sacrificial system) – indeed, that Christ is the fulfilment of what Judaism foreshadowed. Now in chapter 10, he starts to bring those arguments home.

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Hebrews 10:32-39

Last Thursday we began a series in Hebrews 10-12. Throughout, the writer has been urging his readers to persevere in following Jesus, despite the fact that they were being persecuted and shamed by their families and community. So far, he has contrasted the great benefits of following Jesus with the terrible consequences of falling away. Today, he returns to a more positive theme.

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