Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > Study Guide

Hebrews: a study guide

About the Book of Hebrews: its author, readers and date

People who study Bible books often begin with these subjects. I have chosen to end with these subjects because they are less important than the contents of the book.

The Book of Hebrews does not tell us its author’s name. It does not tell us where the original readers of the book lived. And its date does not appear in the book. We are trying to study the Bible, not people’s opinions about the Bible. It is possible to guess some of the answers, but the Bible does not tell us those answers clearly. So therefore, we do not believe that the answers are important for us to know.

However, it is important for us to understand that the Bible is God’s word (Hebrews 4:12). There were human authors, of course, and God allowed them to use their own skills, language and style. But in the end, the author of the Bible is God himself. There were original readers too, but God did not provide these books only for them. In fact, Hebrews 3:12 and Hebrews 4:1 show clearly that God provided these books especially for you. It is you that God intends to learn from these books! And Hebrews 3:13 contains a date. It is today that God wants you to learn from the Bible.

The author of Hebrews

But, as I have said, there was a human author. Many people have thought that he was Paul. The style of the book is sometimes like his style, but sometimes it seems different. So we cannot be sure.

Clearly, like Paul, the author knew his Bible well, and he was a good teacher. It seems very likely that the author was a Jewish Christian. By ‘Jewish’, we mean that his family came from the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is possible that his name is completely unknown to Christians today. Even at its beginning, the first Christian church had 3000 members, so there were always many leaders (Acts 2:41). We only know a few of their names.

The original readers of Hebrews

The book’s title is Hebrews, which means Jewish people. It is called that because the author probably wrote it originally for the benefit of Jewish Christians. Some of its subjects are especially important for them. We do not know where that group of Jewish Christians lived. However, Judea seems possible. The first Christian churches were in Judea and many Jewish people lived there.

The reason why the author wrote his book

The author knew his readers well. He wrote his book when he was living elsewhere. He wanted to return to them, but something was preventing his return. So he wrote this book as a long letter. And probably, another Christian offered to go and to take the book to the first readers. When the book arrived, they probably read it aloud in their church. And they made copies, so that other churches could read it, too.

The date of the book

A few verses (for example Hebrews 13:7) seem to show that the book’s date is several years after Christ’s death. The book says that Israel’s priests were still carrying out their work at God’s house called the temple. That work continued until an army from Rome destroyed the temple in the year 70 A.D. That is, about 40 years after Christ’s death. Clearly, the author wrote at some time between these two events. Anything more accurate than that would just be a guess.

Next part: Why the Book of Hebrews is so important


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© 2014, Keith Simons.