Continuing our countdown to the conclusion of our two-year chronological Scriptures’ reading schedule, today’s devotional introduces the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The Author of Hebrews
Many have supposed the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul; however, I feel that is conjecture at best. If Paul was the author, he neglected to identify himself in the opening salutation as was his manner in his other epistles (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; and so on). Rather than speculate on the human author, let us content ourselves in accepting the Epistle to the Hebrews, like all Scripture: divinely inspired and its author the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
The date for the writing of Hebrews is uncertain; however, it seems most scholars agree it was composed for Hebrew believers before A.D. 70, when the Roman general Titus besieged Jerusalem, and the city and Temple were destroyed. Before that date, persecution and imprisonment were widespread in the Roman empire, and Hebrews 13:23 indicates that Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith” (2 Timothy 1:2), had himself been imprisoned, and was expected to soon be “set at liberty” (Hebrews 13:23).
The Recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews
As stated in its title, Hebrews was addressed to those from a Hebrew background, and no doubt gave many of Judaism pause to consider Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies. For others, sufferings and persecution of the 1st century might have caused some to doubt their faith in Christ, and return to the Temple and sacrificial offerings (Hebrews 10:1-11). To them, the Holy Spirit, through a human author, declared the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things (Hebrews 1:1-4; 10:12-13).
Setting the date of Hebrews to the mid to late 60’s A.D., many readers were probably second-generation believers of Hebrew ancestry. Tragically, the author takes them to task for their spiritual immaturity, and described them as “dull of hearing” (5:11), and in need of teachers when they should have been teaching (5:12).
A brief outline of Hebrews 1 and 2 will need to suffice for our study.
Hebrews 1 – The Supremacy of Jesus Christ
Down through the centuries, God sent His prophets to Israel to reveal His person and declare His Word (1:1). Yet, the purpose in the coming of the prophets was to prepare the way for the coming of the ultimate revelation of God…His Son (1:2). The prophets and writers of Scripture not only pointed to creation as a demonstration of the handiwork of God (Psalm 19:1; 97:6), but they declared His revelation in word and writing as His Spirit moved them (2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Yet, the work of the prophets was partial.
The coming of Jesus Christ fulfilled not only the promises of a coming Messiah-Redeemer (Isaiah 53; Luke 19:10), but He revealed in His incarnation (human flesh) the glory of God the Father (1:2-3). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is revealed as “heir of all things,” and the Creator (1:2b). He was the “brightness” of God’s glory (1:3a), the image of God veiled in human flesh (1:3b; Colossians 1:15; Philippians 2:6, 9), and the Sustainer (the upholder of “all things,” 1:3c). By the shedding of His blood and death on the cross, Jesus “purged our sins,” as Redeemer (1:3d), and then “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high [God the Father]” (1:3e). Christ is exalted as Lord and Mediator of sinners (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:12).
Hebrews 2 – The Danger of Neglecting One’s Salvation
Hebrews 2 warned, God holds men accountable for the truths they have been taught (2:1-3). Christ taught, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). Stating the same truth in another way: The greater the light, the greater the judgment!
The Hebrews had the privilege of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the word of prophets. God then sent His Son, Jesus to Israel, to declare God’s love and the Gospel of His grace. The author reasoned: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord?” (2:3).
Closing thoughts – So much more could be considered, but I conclude our study inviting you to consider Hebrews 2:1, where we read: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1).
Understanding those words were penned to Hebrews who had extensive knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, we understand the urgency to not only hear the Word of God, but heed its Truth. Surely that same warning might be declared to 21st century believers. Warning: There is a grave danger for those who have been privileged to grow up hearing the Word of God preached and the Gospel declared. It is the danger of hearing, and not heeding Truth. The writer warned, “lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1). Some who professed to be followers of Christ, had slipped, failed to heed the Truth, and were drifting away (backsliding) from their spiritual moorings (doctrine).
What about you? Are you anchored to God’s Word, or have you slipped away and are spiritually adrift? Have you allowed popularity, pleasures, lusts, busyness, sinful pride, or laziness cause you to slip? Won’t you turn from your sin, and return to the Lord?
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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