Lesson 1 of 6
In Progress

Summary of Hebrews


The Book of Hebrews brings a word of encouragement to discouraged Christians. The intended readers once had a vivid sense of God’s presence and later showed bold support for others during an outburst of persecution. Yet as time dragged on, some began drifting away. The author emboldens them by telling of the way Jesus the pioneer went through suffering into glory, making a way for others to follow. As high priest, Christ offered himself as the atoning sacrifice, bringing others into a new covenant relationship with God. People are therefore called to persevere in faith, knowing that God will be faithful.


Hebrews speaks to people who find that daily life seems to be far removed from the kingdom of God. The author recognizes that the Gospel’s message may be glorious, yet life in the Christian community and the wider society is often discouraging. Through vivid images of Israel in the wilderness, the sanctuary and its worship, and a panoramic view of the whole history of Israel, the author shows how the message of hope can continue to motivate people to lives of faith and service.


The Letter to the Hebrews is the 19th book in the New Testament. It stands between the two sections typically called the “Pauline corpus” (Romans through Philemon) and the “Catholic Letters” (James through Jude).


Hebrews was once thought to have been written either by Paul or a companion of Paul, since the author was a friend of Timothy, the friend of Paul (13:23). Nevertheless, the author is never named in the book and most acknowledge that the identity of the writer remains unknown.


Hebrews was probably written between 60 and 90 CE. The intended readers were not eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus and lived in a community that had been founded some years before. The book addresses a situation of malaise experienced by Christians some decades after the ministry of Jesus ended.


Hebrews encourages dispirited Christians to persevere in faith, since Christ has brought them into a new covenant relationship and God will be faithful to them.


Hebrews calls itself “a word of exhortation,” which means that it is a sermon (Hebrews 13:22; Acts 13:15). Exhortation is strong encouragement; the vivid images used throughout the book are designed to embolden people in faith. The book takes people on several journeys: through the wilderness following Jesus the pioneer (2:10; 4:9-11), then into the sanctuary following Jesus the high priest (4:14-16; 10:19-25), and finally to a celebration on the heavenly Mount Zion (12:22-24). If faith is the assurance of things unseen (11:1), Hebrews makes the promises of God seem tangible through the power of its imagery.