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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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A Letter to Hebrews - Introduction

While the final paragraphs (see 13.18–25 n. ) imply that Hebrews is a letter, in style and content it is a sermonic tract, an “exhortation” ( 13.22 ). The readers have endured great suffering because of their faith ( 10.32–34 ) and are now admonished to continue firm in their hope of salvation (e.g. 7.19 ), although apathy or even apostasy may seem the easier way. For backsliders into sin there is no second chance for salvation ( 6.4–8; 10.26–31 ).

The basis and content of hope is God's gift of the Son (ch. 1 ), and the first chs. ( 1.1–10.18 ) expound the significance of Christ's faithfulness (e.g. 2.18; 5.8–10 ) and death. The thesis is that Christ is the great high priest ( 8.1–2 ), the mediator of a new covenant (e.g. 8.6–13 ) who offers the one truly effective sacrifice (e.g. 9.11–14, 25–28 ). The last chs. ( 10.19–13.17 ) urge Christians to follow in “the new and living way” provided by Christ ( 10.20 ), as God's pilgrim people, “seekers after the city which is to come” ( 13.14 ).

There have been many attempts to name the person who wrote this tract (some early Christians even assigned it to Paul), but the author remains anonymous. In spite of the traditional title the addressees were probably Gentile Christians. Earliest evidence of its use comes from Rome at the end of the first century, one possible clue as to its date and origin.

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