It’s not often that I start a new book of the Bible so I thought this would be a great time to share some of the things that go into preparing for a study. The book we are going to study is known as: Hebrews. There are specific steps that must be followed that enable a person to investigate any book of the Bible. These steps include knowing:
- The type of literature; in this case it is a New Testament letter
- The identification of author
- The identification of who original readers were
- The location of the letter and time of writing
All of these play an important role in determining the context of the passage under investigation. The other key exercise that a through investigation of a book of the Bible requires is the time consuming exercise of dividing the book into sections forming an outline, which will enable a further detailed study. In the case of Hebrews with it’s 13 chapters, (which makes it the 3rd longest letter in the New Testament behind Romans and 1 Corinthians), this is no easy task. Further complicating our investigation into this amazing book is that New Testament letters normally followed a fourfold specific outline:
- Introduction: This is where the author generally identified himself as well as his readers.
- Statement of purpose: After the introduction the New Testament letter, (13 of which Paul the Apostle wrote) there was a brief sentence or paragraph that gave the reason why the letter was written.
- Main body of teaching: What followed the reason for writing the letter was the bulk of the letter dedicated to giving support and evidence to the reason the letter was being written and sent.
- Conclusion: The final aspect of the letter was the closing where the author generally made personal statements and greetings to those he knew among those who he had sent the letter.
Hebrews, is different in this format as the common elements of ancient letter writing were not followed. This letter has no introduction; we don’t know who the author is or specifically who the original readers were. Second, there is no clear “statement of purpose” so we don’t have upfront a clear reason for writing. We only have two aspects of a normal New Testament letter:
- The body of teaching that starts immediately in chapter one verse one and continues all the way through chapter 13 verse 17
- 13:18-25 A closing where the writer asks for prayer from his readers mentions a common acquaintance (Timothy) and offers a greeting from fellow believers in Italy.
All this means in the case of Hebrews is that we lack some of the normal elements which help give us the context. Ah but Saints I invite you to come along with me as we HIKE through HEBREWS unlocking the treasures that transform our lives, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
This has been Pastor Dale, Blessings!