Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by J.D., Feb 26, 2010.
Question: Who was Hebrews written to? Jews? Christians? Both? What do you think?
I'm posting this 'off the cuff' because time is short for me right now due to having to deal with my elderly parents. This is a post I made concerning that little 'problematic passage' for some, Hebrews 6:4-6; and which I feel contains my overall thoughts of the intent of Paul's letter to his Hebrew brethren (yes, I'm convinced Paul is the writer).
But I would think this verse includes ALL Christians, Jew or Gentile:
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus; Heb 3:1
I believe I failed to answer the question in the OP. I believe the letter was addressed primarily to Jewish Christians.
Pauline authorship is probably the majority view, but there are others.
Origen (185-254) attributed authorship to Paul. He felt that the thoughts are Paul's but language and composition are someone else's.
Tertullian (155-226) held that the author was Barnabas (although I don't know what his evidence is).
Another view is that it was written by Apollos.
The notes in my NASB says the writing is "polished Greek style, like that of a master rhetorician." It goes on to say that it shows Alexandrian and Philonic infuence (of Philo).
One commentator I read noted that the temple was still standing when the book was written. Dr. John Philips says this fact is key to understanding Hebrews.
Thank you Tom, but I was asking who it was written to. What do you think?
I gathered that from your first response. I think Hodge's comments are right on the mark.
Sometimes I wonder if it is written to "Christian" Jews, or all Jews both believing and non-believing. I can see it both ways.
That is a tricky question because the whole Bible was written to everyone, Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God.
I have to rule out the so-called "Jewish Christians" for the simple fact I see no group in scripture falling under that title.
Makes no difference whether one was a Jew or a Gentile, once one becomes a Christian, they are simply a Christian and the doctrinal instructions given to Christians along with the promises to Christians can be found in the 13 books that begin with the word "Paul".
Since some of the passages in the book of Hebrews teach a different doctrinal message than found in the Pauline epistles, I have to look for a group other than the Body of Christ to be the targets for the doctrinal message of Hebrews.
IMO Hebrews is written doctrinally to the Jews who will find themselves still on earth during the 7yr tribulation after the Body of Christ has been removed in the rapture.
But I also feel there are many, many Biblical truths in the book of Hebrews that the Christian of today can learn from and glean understanding.
What is there in the text to indicate that this book is written to some future generation?
This epistle is what my old pastor used to refer to as "Paul's anonymous letter to the Hebrews". I do believe that it is Paul's on the basis of Peter's testimony (2 Pet. 3:15-16). From that same passage I, coupled with the opening of 1st Peter (1:1), I believe it is written to Jewish Christians (as well as professors of the Christian Faith) of the Dispersion, possibly including those of Jerusalem.
Primarily Jewish Christians, though as an apologetic to non-believing Jews who were family members or relational associates of the believers who would have heard it read.
The deep influence of OT covenant seems to indicate this.
When you say "professors of the Christian Faith", are you including Gentile believers? Just for clarification.
Another student of this book says there was more than one audience.
Judaists, to whom the chapters dealing with animal sacrifices and rituals were addressed, those who were thinking of returning back to Judaism, to whom the chapters on the supremacy of Christ over prophets and angels and the 6:4-6 scripture was addressed, and those who were getting discouraged by the persecutions being heaped on them as Christians, and these included Gentiles among the Hebrews.
I wouldn't rule them out totally but, given the actual content of Hebrews, I don't see them as Paul's main targeted readership.
Definitely the Jewish context in that time is the main thrust. But I think I can see how Gentile believers would benefit from it. I can see them staving off the Judaizers with it.
In a broad sense, I do not feel the whole flavor of the book compares to the flavor of God's message found in Paul's epistles to the Church.
Especially those verses that address the security of salvation.
In a more narrow sense I will focus on but a few, to test the waters so-to-speak.
Hebrews 4:4 (King James Version)
4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
2 Peter 3:8 (King James Version)
8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
IMO the passage of Heb 4:4 above is referring to the 7th one thousand yr period.
Satan will be chained and it will be a period of rest just as the Sabbath day was a sign to the Jews, this one thousand yr period is God's Sabbath day.
Hebrews 1:1-3 (King James Version)
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
In vs 1 above we see reference to the fathers and prophets which is a Jewish thing for this would not be something one would say to a previous Gentile.
But I understand that does not speak to the time frame, it only narrows the audience.
In vs 2 above we see the "last days" which we have seen before in:
Isaiah 2:2 (King James Version)
2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Micah 4:1 (King James Version)
1But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
One must ask have the things listed above in Isaiah and Micah come about? Is the government of the Lord established and exalted above all other governments, and do all other nations flow unto it?
I must say no.
Also vs 2 raises the question:
Is this time of the Son speaking before or after being seated on the right hand of God found in vs 3?
I say it is after Jesus has done the things listed and is seated on the right hand of God.
And this is confirmed by:
Hebrews 12:25 (King James Version)
25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Got to go,,,,,wife just called for supper,,,,,,later.
I have read and studied most of the Pre-Mill writers and this is the first time I ever heard that Hebrews was written for the tribulation period. If it was why didn't the writer just say, "Let me explain what you missed and how you can get ready."
I think it was written primarily to Jews, both saved and unsaved. The theme is that Christ is more excellent than angels (ch 1), better than Moses (ch 3), better than the Sabbath (ch 4), better than the priests (ch 5),... well you get the idea.
Unsaved Jews would be pointed to Jesus as being God's final Word.
Sorry, I really cannot speak for others, all I know is what is in the Book.
Yes, that would have been nice had the Holy Spirit done that in Hebrews and in other areas of disagreement as well.
(Sure would have made this place more pleasant.) :smilewinkgrin:
IMO the whole body of scripture is written in a manner to have the least affect on the choice of man while being able to have application regardless of man's choice.
I feel Hebrews, or at least the first 12 chapters, were written close to the time of Acts 7 where we see God turning from the Jew to the Gentile.
Depending on the decision of the audience of Stephen in Acts 7 when they resisted even the Holy Ghost (vs 51), the doctrinal instructions of Hebrews could have had application immediately flowing nicely with the Kingdom passage found in Mt & Mk that instruct those to "endure to the end".
But the Jews rejected the Holy Ghost and thus the "last days" was put on hold, and the Church age was ushered in.
But had it been stated as plainly as you might wish, I don't see many believing it. I mean, what is more plainly stated than Paul's two accounts of the rapture, and yet, many do not believe that.
If Hebrews is doctrinally directed to saved Jews during the Church age then we have a problem.
The passages of Hebrews that speak of loosing salvation would then apply to saved Jews.
Does one feel a saved Jew is somehow under a different economy or different promise that a saved Gentile?
Did a saved Jew not have the security of salvation same as a saved Gentile? One should remember Paul was a Jew, and I think he felt pretty secure.
Is there 2 gospels and 2 promises of salvation going on at the same time, one for Jews and one for Gentiles?
Granted, yes my feeling of the doctrinal implication of Hebrews does denote a difference in salvation for a different group; however it is not during the same time frame or period and it is not to anyone saved by believing in the Gospel of Grace during this Church age.
I agree, and I feel they will be after the calling out of the Church and God again begins dealing with the Jews. (Rom 11)
I really like the following:
The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth.
Brother Olegig, wouldn't you agree that this fits the definition of eisegesis? Can you get that from the text or the immediate context, near context, or by providing a clear statement to that effect from other Bible passages?
Ah, now we get closer to agreement. The answer to my question is in the text. Who was it written to? "unto us". But who is "us"?