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Letter to the Hebrews

Before one begins to summarize or just read this book, one must first try to get to know the history behind the book of Hebrews, when it was written, who was the author, and lastly, what is the primary goal of this letter and how can it affect the reader today. The letter to the Hebrews, or the epistle to the Hebrews as it is often called, is assumed to have been written by Paul the apostle. However, there is no direct reference to his name. There are, in fact, many references that many scholars have interpreted to be indirect or hidden references to the apostle Paul. For instance, as a closing salutation that the author uses, "Grace be with you all" ( Hebrews 13:25), which is the same phrase that the apostle Paul uses in a number of his other letters and epistles (Philippians 4:23; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 1 Timothy 6:21). Also, in this letter, there is mention of brother Timothy (Hebrews 13:23), and Paul is the only author in the New Testament who has been known to write this.

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The letter to the Hebrews is assumed to have been written not long before the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem. The goal of Paul's letter was to reassess the questions and issues the Hebrews may have had concerning their Faith in Jesus Christ. Primary outlines include Christ as the high priest of the Christian faith, as well as Christ being superior to laws, angels, and the old covenant, and lastly, Paul explaining in various examples found in the Old Testament, of men and women of God, more commonly known as Saints, who endured through Faith a great number of trials, tribulations, and temptations (Hebrews 11).

Paul starts in chapter 1, to say that Jesus Christ, not only being our Saviour as well as the Son of God, is also a means of God speaking to us "in the person of his Son" (Hebrews 1:2). Furthermore, Paul implies that the Son of God is "heir of all things"(Hebrews 1:2), which is to say that Jesus Christ is all-powerful. In chapter 2 Paul warns the reader to "not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1) by paying more attention than before to what we have been taught. More than before because, as the author already mentioned in the second verse of the first chapter, we are living in "the final days" (Hebrews 1:2). In verse 9, we read Paul's explanation of why Christ must have suffered and died. He states, "Jesus, who was for a short while made less than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he submitted to death; so that by God's grace his experience of death should benefit all humanity" (Hebrews 2:9). Later on, in verse 10, the author speaks of Christ as "the leader of their salvation", and this he achieved and was "made perfect through suffering" (Hebrews 2:10). As we move on to verse 14, it proves that Jesus Christ was made equal with humans, that since "all the children share the same human nature, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could set aside "him who held the power of death, namely the devil"(Hebrews 2:14), making him more powerful than the devil.

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He continues in verse 15, to add that we need not fear death anymore, as the Son of God has already conquered and overcome death, and the fear of death: "set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death" (Hebrews 2:15). Verse 16 is of very important value. The author states that the Son of God did not die to save angels, but he gave his life to save humans - the seed, or line of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16). Paul also mentions another reason for Christ's sufferings, trials, and tests. It is so that he may "help others when they are being put to the test" (Hebrews 2:18). At the beginning of chapter 3, Paul compares Moses to Jesus. He admits that Moses was "trustworthy in the household of God", but that "Jesus, (is) the apostle and high priest of our profession of faith" (Hebrew 3:1), "he deserves a greater glory than Moses" (Hebrews 3:3). The author further compares them, but in a different way. He compares Moses to a servant in the household of God, whereas Christ "is trustworthy as a son is, over his household" (Hebrews 3:6). In chapter 4, Paul begins by saying that the gospel which we received was the same as did the previous generations, however, "the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who did listen " (Hebrews 4:2). Verse 12, in chapter 4, is a very significant one.

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The author infers that the word of God is more powerful and "cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12), which means that the word of God is more valuable than any weapon on earth. In verses 24 and 15 Paul compares Christ, once more, as being the high priest of our faith. In finishing Paul says that we should not hesitate when approaching the throne of grace, "to receive mercy and to find grace when we need help" (Hebrews 4:16). Throughout chapter five the apostle explains how Christ "learned obedience, though son he was" (Hebrews 5:8). In chapter 6 Paul speaks about our anchor, hope, and how it is vital so that we do not perish, as others have "fallen away" (Hebrews 6:6). In chapter 7 we learn about the importance of tithes and how the priest Melchizedek, "who was not of the same descent, took his tithe from Abraham, and he gave his blessing to the holder of the promises." In verse 25 the author implies, once again, that Christ has the absolute power to save those who come through him: "his power to save those who come to God through him is absolute since he lives forever to intercede for them."(Hebrews 7:35). Chapter 8 speaks about the new covenant and how the old covenant "is ready to disappear" (Hebrews 8:13). Paul begins the next chapter by explaining how, in the Jewish religion, the priest had to enter the sanctuary every year and sanctify himself. He goes on to explain the structure of the temple and how the entire process of sanctification works. Further on he compares Christ, our high priest, to the priests in the Jewish religion. At the beginning of chapter 10, Paul begins with a very important verse: "Bulls' blood and goats' blood are incapable of taking away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Later on, he touches on a very important topic that is to be continued in the next chapter - faith. Paul begins with examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah, and his greatest example in this chapter - Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-12). All these examples in this particular chapter are known as the "Faith Hall of Fame", as its primary contents are of the heroes of faith.

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At the beginning of his next chapter, the last chapter, Paul starts with an invigorating verse, a call to arms of sorts: "With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us" (Hebrews 12:1), and ends the chapter with comparing God with a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

Works Cited:

The New Jerusalem Bible. Darton, Longman & Todd and Les Editions du Cerf, 1985. Print.

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