August 25, 2019

An Introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews

By Ricky Ortiz

This fall we will be going through the book of Hebrews as a church. Here’s a quick introduction to this incredible book: 

Author: Anonymous. There has been a ton of dialogue throughout the history of the church about the mystery person who wrote this epistle. But from what’s written we see that the writer had a firsthand relationship with the disciples and was influenced by the apostles teachings (Hebrews. 2:3-4). 

Context: Written to Jewish Christians of the dispersion who were being persecuted for their faith. The writer is sending out a “word of exhortation” to those Jewish Christians to encourage them to remain steadfast in the faith (Hebrews 13:22). 

Major Themes: 

The supremacy of Jesus.

Probably the biggest theme in the book. The author makes several arguments from lesser to greater throughout the epistle which point to Jesus as being being superior to all things. The writer constantly points out that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father (Hebrews ) which symbolizes power and authority. Jesus is worthy of more glory than anything else because he was given the name above all names. 

Faithfulness through persecution.

Since this epistle was written for the purpose of encouraging and exhorting Jewish Christians to persevere amidst persecution and tribulation, keeping the faith is a major theme as well. There are several warnings to not reject Jesus and slip away from the faith during these trying times. 

The relationship between the New Testament and the Old Testament.

There are so many Old Testament references like the Torah, the priesthood, the tabernacle, the promised land, the sacrificial system and so much more. If you aren’t too familiar with these Old Testament references as you read the book of Hebrews, you should pause and go back to read up on the topics to see why the author refers back to them and now points to Jesus as being the fulfillment of all these things. The structure and format of the OT prefigures and anticipates the NT. We see so many meaningful connections between the Old Testament and the New throughout this book. 


One of the ways the writer emphasizes the major theme of the supremacy of Jesus is by using typology. Typology is meant to show the relationship between a lesser thing (the type) to a greater thing (the antitype).  These lesser types are seen as shadows and copies to the real thing. A shadow and reality analogy works super well to describe this. The shadow is consistent with the person but you can’t learn everything from a shadow. The shadow is limited. The OT is the life of shadows. It’s all good and true but it’s not the full reality that we see later on in the New Testament. 

Why is this book important for us?

Our sermon series will be discussing spiritual priorities as we take a look at the book of Hebrews. As Pastor Mike has said before “Most of the time the choices we make are not between good and bad things, but between good and better things. We will talk through how to make the better choice, so we can invest our lives in the best things.” This is something that Hebrews tackles straight on. The author of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus and run towards him. The life giving word that Jesus offers us is better than any other word. The rest that Jesus offers for our souls is better than the striving for success mentality that this culture tells us we need to have. The grace that Jesus offers is much better than the guilt we live in with our sin. This and so much more is what the book of Hebrews tells us about our great Savior Jesus Christ!  

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