The Purpose of Hebrews

One of the problems with reading Hebrews is identifying the date and recipient of the letter. I am fairly well convinced that the recipients were in Rome, living just before the Neroian persecutions.  I think the standard arguments for this position are solid.  Jobes (Letters to the Church) makes the point that the book does not use the destruction of the Temple as a “proof” that the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New.  In addition, the church has “not yet suffered to the point of shedding blood” (12:4).  If the recipients are in Rome, then the letter must refer to a time prior to Nero’s persecution of Christians (A.D.64), but after Caligula Claudius expelled Jews (A.D. 49).

Given this context, the recipients struggle with the promises of Christian faith.  If Jesus is the true sacrifice and the fulfillment of the promises of the Hebrew Bible, why have they suffered so much?   As J. W. Thompson says in his Hebrews commentary, the book is written to “reorient a community that has been disoriented by the chasm between Christian confession of triumph and the reality of suffering it has experienced.”

This is not apologetics in the modern sense.  The author does not argue against Judaism nor does he state that Judaism was bad or wrong in any way.  Rather, the writer constructs a positive argument for Jesus’ superiority to various elements of Judaism; he is superior because he is the fulfillment of these things. (He is the substance to which the shadow pointed).

If I am right about the context of the book and the recipients have suffered for their faith already (and are about to suffer even more so under Nero), then the readers may very well have struggled with the shame of suffering in a culture which did not see suffering as a virtue. Within a Jewish context, suffering is sometimes seen as a result of sin, or at the very least, a lack of blessing from God.  We only need to look at the discussion in the book of Job to see that there was a lively discussion of why humans suffer.  If Christians are right and Jesus has triumphed, then why are his followers not blessed?  Why are they suffering?

Within a Greco-Roman context, Christians were not seen as successful because they suffered.  Roman thinking was very much based on honor and shame, of one suffered shame and humiliation in public, one cannot be described as successful!

The book therefore addresses a very real problem.  If Jesus is already seated at the right hand of the Father, why is it that Christians suffer shame and persecution?  Christians are not “of this world,” they are part of the real, unshakeable reality which is not of this world at all.

The theological dissonance which the book of Hebrews addresses is certainly applicable to the church today, especially in America.   Evangelical American Christian can be described as “triumphant,” especially in the last half of the 20th century.  Evangelical churches expanded greatly and had a greater impact on culture than at any time in history.

We very well may be past that now.  Studies indicate that the church is still growing, but at a pace which is slower than the general population.  We are beginning to lose ground and we have in many ways lost our voice in the public square.   Perhaps this is due to Christians who have humiliated themselves and brought shame to the cause of Christ, or because some very bad people chose to use evangelical Christianity as a way to advance political careers or other agendas.

27 thoughts on “The Purpose of Hebrews

  1. I have read Jobes’ research and opinion on the purpose of Hebrews. From reading the above blog, I get the sense that the purpose of Hebrews is to tell the suffering of Christ and how his death is compared to that of Old Testament sacrifices. The real purpose of Hebrews is to show how Jesus’ death at the cross and resurrection has taken away the sin God’s people had to clean through sacrifice. Jobes (Letters To The Church) makes a good point in her chapter of Hebrews when she talks about the cleansing of the people. When Jews sacrifice animals to clean themselves of sin, they were clean in mind, but not in heart. They would still commit sins and would have to sacrifice again and again. It all changed with the death and shedding of Jesus’s blood. Hebrews 9:12 says that Jesus “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” When Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of mankind, their minds and hearts were cleaned forever. They did not have to sacrifice animals to be clean anymore. All they had to do was believe in Jesus and what he suffered on the cross; the purpose of Hebrews.

  2. Caligula died in 41. You mean Claudius. For that matter, you could tighten your window, as Jews apparently trickled back into Rome quickly following Claudius’ death in 54.

    On the historical clues, it seems the blood shedding comment is more encouraging when the idea is “We made it. You will too.” Therefore, I wonder who else, before 64, could attest bloody persecution? I can’t think of any. Besides that, it seems to me that Roman-Jewish-Christians would me less likely to *need* this advice, and be more likely to give it; vice-versa, it seems the Palestinian-Jewish-Christians would be more likely to need it, and less likely to give it.

    These are just my own thoughts, Phliip. If you’e come across similar thinking before, and/or have any arguments against such, I’d love to be further educated.

    Thanks, as always, for the quality blogpost.

  3. Egads, horrible error. You are correct of course, and I have fixed my error. BTW, good to see you on the blog again, and it is also good to see your blog returning to regular activity.

    You are also correct to emphasize the post-54 date, since I am going to insist on Jewish Christians as the target audience. As for the “who else” question, immediately Paul comes to mind, although I am really not happy with Paul as the author! Silas certainly was persecuted along with Paul, and is sometimes suggested as an author.

    In the end, I think that modern scholarship is much less bothered by an anonymous book in the NT than the first two centuries. We play at identifying the author since that is what we do in our ivory towers, but in the end, the author has to remain unknown.

    • Good to be back around. Thanks, Philip. I wish I could interact more often.

      I’m afraid I was unclear in that my “who else” was an unconsciously *plural* “who”. IOW, I meant to ask – Which *communities* would have been bloodied or nearly bloodied during that era (54-70)? Again, prior to 64, I’m not aware of any whole groups being beaten. Anyway, my question was – which churches more likely fit that bill as the letter’s sending/receiving location.

      To be fair, however, upon further reflection I now see how the author’s personal suffering could have been intended as the comparable reference point. For an unlikely example that makes the point, I suppose if someone like Jason from Thessalonica were the author they could have taken it as a jesting brag. So maybe you’re right that the author’s personal suffering could be

      On your last point I completely agree. Ultimate anonymity for Hebrews is no problem at all. Still, these puzzles sometimes surprise us with the potential relevance of certain solutions, so I also wouldn’t trivialize the pursuit of authorship.

      Thanks again.

  4. I agree with the statement above regarding the time in which the book of Hebrews was written. The Roman recipients seemed to struggle with their faith and trust in God. However, considering the time period of culture and customs, this would be challenging. It must have been difficult to be so horribly persecuted when they thought that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and was going to relieve them of their pain and suffering. Therefore, the question of “if Jesus came why are we still suffering?” is still heavy on the residents of Rome minds. I personally believe that many Christian’s still struggle with this concept today. It is like Jobes points out later in the text “did God really say?” The people of God have doubts due to their living conditions on earth. As it states in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Our reward is eternal life through Him.

  5. This article was both helpful in my study of Hebrews and quite intriguing.
    First, understanding the time period sheds a new light on the book. The ESV Study Bible notes that the dating of Hebrews relies heavily on the if the destruction of the temple has occurred or not. It notes that it was mostly likely before 70 A. D. Using this knowledge in conjunction with information in this post – that the recipients were probably in Rome, had faced some persecution, and yet pre-Nero – provides a rich context for the letter. This, in turn, increased my understanding, curiosity, and study of Hebrews.
    Secondly, the topic of suffering and the Jewish culture (paragraph four) gave me more to consider. Throughout the Torah there is a consistent pattern of blessings and curses. The well-known story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) reflects this; a case could also be made that this would also be true of the account of Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden (Genesis 3). Obedience vs. disobedience is central to the Hebrew peoples’ Exodus from Egypt.
    This gives an increasingly helpful perspective of the context of Hebrews.
    The combination of the two observations leads to a third topic: application. Understanding the context provides a broader, better way to apply the content of Hebrews. We see phrases such as “Walk by Faith and not by Sight” attributed to Hebrews on greeting cards, journals and the like. Unfortunately, this is the majority of what we see from the book of Hebrews. Knowing the context – that the Hebrew Christians are struggling and suffering persecution from an unpopular faith – sheds light on the message of Hebrews and what it may offer to Christians facing a similar struggle in the ‘already-but-not yet’ or what may be called a post-Evangelical America.

  6. You mentioned at the end of your post that the possible reasons that christianity is still growing but not as big is because of political careers. which makes sense because the people who are in office now grew up in that era where christianity was on a big incline in the United States. so they are using it to push an agenda with the older generation. But I also have seen within the past couple of months, christian people speak up. chick-fil-a has made the news many times making progress in helping and promoting christian thinking. if I can say the pro-life group is christian and our president of the United States just attended a rally and spoke things that no other president has dared to say. Promoting God and the right to life of a child.

    Each of those groups that I have mentioned suffer everyday. Chick-fil-a has LGBTQ+ members have sit ins at their restaurant to make a statement. Pro-life communities have feminists put them down, scream in their face, and in some cases attack them. Being a christian in this world is not without suffering. But “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2. You must be doing something right if the devil is trying to tear it down.

    • Zachary,
      I agree with your statement that Christianity is possibly still growing because of political careers. But, going off your comment of non-Christians coming after Christians and their beliefs, I believe that as Christians it is only going to get harder from here going forward. Missionaries are currently being denied access into Ireland, many Irish natives have rejected the Bible and the belief of God and Jesus. It is still common to be a Christian in the country we live in, but it is not necessarily the same in other countries like Ireland and China. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 says, “indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (ESV). As much as I wish living as a Christian will get easier as time passes, it will only get harder, especially when the generations that grew up in a society where being a Christian was a way of life leaves, it will continue to worsen. But I also agree with you that being a Christian is not without suffering, if Jesus, the perfect ideal human did not go without suffering, we cannot expect to either.

  7. Determining who the author was, who were the original recipients of these letters and where does the original readers were living escalate a numerous amounts of presuppositions. However, just by reading the book of Hebrew plainly articulate the purpose of the book and why it was written to. I have a strong impression that one view of the purpose of the book could potentially be vary from the other person view since the author addresses a variety of theological topic.

    As for me, I am certian that the recipients of this letter were both audiences (Gentile & Jewish converts ) who were living in Rome, oftentimes he use a phrase ‘us’ (Christian) and ‘them’ ( Judaism ). However, the author primary focus seem on a Jewish convert christianity because of its uses of Hebrew Old Testament scriptures as a reference to argued from a Jewish perspective to assert Jesus was indeed the Messiah (God). But Jobes views this as ‘hypothesis’ because Nero persecution did not happened in this period yet, instead they were being expelled from the city by Claudius as result of disturbance through preaching the gospel.

    To sum this up, one of the many reasons (purpose) was to encourge the Christian in Rome concerning their faith, because as a result from public alienation or persecution. At this point, Christian in Rome begin to question their faith in Christ. Despite of the persecution, heresies teaching were prominent in this period as well, especially ‘gnosticism’ was the main issue concern from the apostles, such as John, Peter and other Church leaders. Therefore, the author purpose of the book was to sent a word of exhortation; reassuring them their faith in Christ, and readdressing Jesus as the final revelation who is greater then Abraham, Moses, King David, prophets and angels who sat right next to the Father in the heavenly throne. As you mentioned above, the book is not apologetics material, but a persuasive (exhortation/encouragement) sermon in attempt to exhort their faith in Christ.

  8. The Purpose of Hebrews

    The book of Hebrews is surrounded in mystery it seems. Endless debates of who the author is and what the meaning or purpose of the book is to continue even to this day. Because we do not know who the author is for sure we do not know the author’s tendencies and personal theology like we do for example with Paul’s books. I really feel that the book of Hebrews was written to both Jewish converts and gentile converts. Throughout the book itself, the author says things like us and them and vice versa. To me, it seems as if the book of Hebrews was written to clarify and encourage the Christians to whom the author was writing.
    The context that the book of Hebrews may have been written under is Christians under persecution as the blog suggests. This makes the most sense to me because as Jobes and this blog indicate as well as the book of Hebrews the people to which the book is being written seem to be trying to motivate or inspire those believers. This is understandable especially if you have fellow believers being burned at the stake simply for what they believe. There would be discouragement and doubt among believers based on what they have witnessed or experienced as they tried to spread the gospel to the world a world that was very hostile to followers of Christ.
    At the very end of this blog post, you touch on the fact that we are losing the population of true believers in Christ in America. I think that many people in America have been hurt by the church and thus they want nothing to do with the church. Still, others have seen others claiming to be Christians and they are not and so they then want nothing to do with Christians then because they have seen what others who claim to be Christ act like and they are not drawn to that in any way.

  9. I agree to the explanation of the time period of which the book of Hebrews was written.
    The Romans seemed to struggle with their faith and trust in God being the recipient. However, considering the customs and the time period of culture, this would turn out challenging. This must have turned out difficult to be so horribly persecuted when they thought that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and was going to relieve them of their pain and suffering.
    The question of “if Jesus came why are we still suffering?” is still heavy on the residents of Rome minds. I have come to believe that many Christian’s still struggle with this concept today. Jobes points out later in the text “did God really say?” The people of God doubt due to their living conditions on earth. As it states in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Our reward is eternal life through Him.

  10. I also agree with Zachary Johnson Blog Statement on Christianity because of people political career. I do also believe that it going to get very rough for Christians to succeed in this world because everyone have their opinion on how the world should be ran or how things should go and science and thinking it a higher power than god that running the world. I believe us Christians will have the last laugh because we know that God is the ruler of them all and loves us no matter if we are great and doing good or at our worst when we are not doing too great.

  11. It is difficult to understand the context with reading the book of Hebrews because the identification of the date that the letter was written and who the letter was being addressed to is unclear. However, there is evidence to show that the Romans were the audience for this letter. It is likely that the recipients of the book of Hebrews had suffered for their faith and would continue to suffer for their faith in a culture that did not see suffering as a virtue. From the Jewish point of view, suffering can be seen as a result of sin, or even a lack of blessing from God.
    The book of Hebrews addresses the question of if Jesus is already seated at the right hand of God, then why are Christians suffering from shame and persecution. Christians are not called to be of this world, just like Paul states in Romans 12:1-2. I feel like this is a problem that people in today’s culture still struggle to understand—why are we still suffering if Christ has already come. But we are not called to live easy lives because we are going against a dark world that is full of sin. It is a daily choice to recognize that we are living for Jesus. The book of Hebrews can also have an impact on those reading it in today’s modern world—or at least in the last half of the 20th century—in the sense of the Evangelical church’s expansion. Unfortunately, this evangelical phase is slowing down, even as the population continues to grow (COVID babies), and the reasoning might be because Christians have humiliated themselves and brought shame to what Christ is really all about or in other cases people can use evangelical Christianity to advance their political careers or selfish agendas.

  12. At the end of your post, you state that Christianity is not growing as it once was, and you say that part of this could be because of how people are using Christianity to further political careers. I think that this is a big problem today, as there are many people in the public eye (not just politicians) who claim Christianity while their words and actions seem to completely go against that. Because these people are in the public eye, many view them as representative of all Christians. As a result of this, it seems as though many non-Christians have lost trust in anyone who professes the Christian faith. As Christians, I think it is important for us to be discerning about these politicians or celebrities and not justify what they say or do simply because they claim to be a Christian, but be able to stand up against them if necessary and show the world how a true Christ follower should act.

  13. Within a Jewish context, suffering can be seen as a result of sin or something that is a lack of blessing from God. Sin is not seen as something that exists because of free will. Thus, the recipients of Hebrews struggled receiving the message that was written due to the struggles they had received in the past. However, there is Jewish literature that stands against this concept of struggles only being a result of God or sin, the book of Job. Job is said to be “blameless and upright,” a man who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1 NIV). Job is struck by Satan and loses his livestock, farming fields, and children (Job 1:13-19). In response to this, Job falls to his knees to worship God and says, “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1 :21). Job is struck further by Satan, receiving painful sores all over his body (Job 2:7). Job’s wife tells him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), yet in response to this, Job proclaims, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). This Jewish literature is a core example of how struggles are not a result of a sin occurring but more the wrath of Satan and free will.
    The book of Hebrews addressed the very real problem of why struggling occurs today even while Jesus sits at the right hand of the father. Within the Greco-Roman empire, people were seen as not successful if they were publicly persecuted. Thus, the Christians and the Jews were seen as un-successful in the eyes of the Romans due to their constant humiliation and shame.

  14. The main purpose of Hebrews may be very distinct within the book. This book is based on encouragement and making sure Christians do not fall too far from their faith during some hard times. We see that Hebrews talks about the sufferings of Christ and the differences between the sacrifices that Jesus had to face compared to sacrifices in the Old Testament. Some people may feel in the current time that Jesus has not answered their prayers or their callings on situations that they feel they need the help from above. Hebrews 3:13 says “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Whether a sin was committed, or someone has been drawing away from their faith, it is important that we encourage others to continue fighting for their faith and that they know their sin will not hold them against their actions. I believe that Christians are becoming less and less successful in their lives. This may be because of the division our country has faced over the past couple of years with different sides of political beliefs and everyone having different thoughts on who should be at higher power for our country. As Christians we should not focus on who is or should be higher power because we know that God is the most high and we can look to him for most of our problems.

  15. The recipients of the original audience for the message have traditionally been identified as one or more groups of Jewish Christians. And the author of Hebrews is unknown. As we read Jobes (, it was probably that the author was connected to one of the apostles and wrote within the period of time in which one or more of the apostles were still living.

    As according to you said, “the recipients were in Rome, living just before the Neroian persecutions and, the church has “not yet suffered to the point of shedding blood” (12:4). If the recipients are in Rome, then the letter must refer to a time prior to Nero’s persecution of Christians (A.D.64), but after Claudius expelled Jews (A.D. 49.” It was clear that the recipients were suffered from their faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

    Therefore the epistle of Hebrews highlights the supremacy of Jesus as God’s Son and our High Priest, to whom the readers must listen and hold fast in order to receive what God has promised. In any case, each main section of the letter compares Christ to a different individuals or institution between the prophets, the priest and the kings to warn that Jesus Christ as exalted son and high priest is GOD’s final revelation and provided full cleansing from sin and open access to God. In addition, Christians can and must hold firmly to their faith in Christ’s high priestly work in spite of adversity.

    Suffering is an expected part of the Christian life. Jesus told his follower, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christians suffer for a variety reason, including many of the same reasons non-Christians suffer that life on this broken world can be difficult. Christian may also suffer the same reason Jesus did in John 15. Our ultimate hope is not in this world or in gaining earthly comfort. Our hope is in God and in His greater plan.

  16. I have really grown to appreciate the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament that Hebrews offers. It is really helpful to gain the perspective of the Jewish faith within the context of a post-Jesus book. The idea that intrigued me the most from this post was the concept of suffering you mentioned. As a believer in this day and age, I feel as though I have been constantly reminded of God’s blessing for believers whenever it is convenient, and on the other hand I have been told numerous times of Jesus’ promises of suffering whenever I feel down per say. Remembering back to Genesis chapter 11ish we see that God promises that Abraham will be abundantly blessed. We see King David being blessed in 2 Samuel, and hear countlessly about the riches and blessing of Solomon in 1 Kings (ESV Study Bible, 2008) . Throughout the Old Testament it is a consent story of blessings when the people obey, and curses and hardship when they turn away. I had never connected this from the Jewish perspective to Jesus’ messages about suffering and hardship. I imagine that that must have been horribly confusing for the early Jewish Christian church. I would argue that in today’s context the American church could focus a little more on perseverance through suffering and less on the overwhelming blessing, but then again I most certainly can on a personal level as well.

    ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008. Print.

  17. Nearly to the end of the post, about the Christians suffering shame and persecution because they are afraid to speak the truth of sharing the gospel. Not only the truth and sharing the gospel, but Christians have also had past experiences in their life that they do not want to share. When someone sees who Jesus is and what he can do, there are believers that know it is him. Then there is none-believers that know that the person is not Jesus and will turn things around to make sure it is not true. At the end of the post the church is still growing but losing their voice to speak in public is that they are afraid to be mistreated. Today, we do have Christians that will keep them to themselves by staying quiet and there are some Christians have the decency to use their voice to speak up for themselves of what is right in God’s eyes. Those who are in political careers are a big problem. I wonder if they do agree with politicians who they work with and are ashamed of what they want to share and how they want to help to make a difference. I don’t get why politicians and celebrities say they are a Chrisitan which they are not. They would show us some good examples of how to make a difference and know the truth about Christ.

  18. Hebrews has a lot of points to pick apart for us to pin point the true purpose of why it was written. Luckily when we stay the texts we can have a better understanding what what the author intended the original readers to take from what they were saying. To me it seems evident that what Hebrew’s 12:4 alludes to, and what Jobes would say the purpose of Hebrews partly is to encourage perseverance to those Christians experiencing some form of persecution for their faith. The theme of Christ’s superiority and the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and NT through the book of Hebrews reveals to us how Christ has fulfilled the law, as he says in Matt. 5:17. But not only that, it is because of His suffering and shedding of his blood that he was able to become the final sacrifice for purification of sins for all (Heb. 9-10) It seems reasonable to say that for those that were experiencing persecution, which was not seen as a virtue (Long), would struggle with this idea of suffering as a positive thing. But I believe a possible idea for the purpose of Hebrews is to show that because of the suffering and persecution of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are no longer in need of obeying the old law which is now “obsolete”, but are under a “New” law (8:13). Because of this suffering Jesus has made us Holy and righteous in the sight of the Lord. With the use of Jesus’s superiority and humility, we see how His suffering is our confidence for our faith (Hebrews 10:19-25).

  19. As you stated, a Jewish context tells us how the recipients might struggle with the idea that suffering as a result of sin or lack of blessing.
    Hebrews 2:18 says “For because He himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted”. What the ESVSB has to say about this is that “Jesus is a sympathetic and merciful high priest who knows human spiritual infirmities since he experienced the full range of temptations, and he has atoned for transgressions” (2001). “The necessity of the incarnation is that the Son had to experience all that it meant to be a human being and yet not sin,” (Jobes, 2011). It was necessary for Christ to suffer because Christians would continue to experience suffering in a multitude of degrees because until Jesus returns, we still live in a fallen world.
    I thought your note about the growth of the evangelical church in America was really interesting; I think this growth took off with the late 20th century build-up of megachurches and megachurch culture – and in the same breath, the slow decline and fall of some megachurches in the last 10-20 years. Unfortunately, a lot of Christian suffering comes from a church wound. Which goes to show that Christians and churches are not perfect or full of perfect people – we are still very much sinners that will fail one another, and sadly, people turn away from God because they’ve been hurt by imperfect people of God.

  20. At the end of the post you stated how the growth of Christianity is slowing. Throughout the post you spoke on the idea that the readers of the letter may struggle with the idea that they are suffering as a result of sin. I think the connection of these two points is interesting. I feel that so often today christians like to play victim rather than walking through their faith. They blame their struggles or hard times on God, rather than stepping back, walking in their faith and allowing God to reveal the whole picture to them in time.

    When reading, Letters to the Church by Karen H. Jobes, chapter 2 takes us deeper into hebrews. Jobes talks about how Hebrews attributes all of the OT to the Holy Spirit no matter who the original author is. This is largely because the words in the Bible, while they may have not been physically written by God, were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Looking at the Holy Spirit as part of the trinity, God wrote these words for us. They are what we should be living by. Jobes also talks about the fall in chapter two where the question of “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). Adam and Eve fell trap to this doubting of God. Why are we as chrisitans today doing the same? We have seen and understand what has happened because of this in the past, why allow this to corrupt our thoughts when we know we have the Bible to lean on? I think this is the largest contributor to the slow growth of Chrisianity, the lack of chrisitans who stand strong in their faith and show the world. This is the true cause of our suffering.

  21. The simple answer would be that Christinas are suffering because mankind is sinful. The Lord never promised us a good life on this earth rather He told us we would be persecuted for the way we believe. (Matthew 5:11) With that being said I don’t think that in the last half of the century Christians have been ‘triumphant’, understandably so they have grown immensely and led many people to the salvation of Christ. But unfortunately, that doesn’t make us ‘triumphant’ it is making the name of the Lord triumphant and glorifying the Kingdom. I don’t like to associate being ‘triumphant’ with the growth in churches or number of people who attend, that doesn’t get rid of the suffering; more often the people who attend church aren’t practicing their spirituality to the fullest. The suffering will continue throughout time until the second coming or when you die (whichever comes first). As of now Christians are still suffering as the Lord’s people did in Rome; not all believers today have freedom to worship freely so they still run into suffering of public humiliation and essentially mocking their beliefs and our God. Though the church and its people have progressed overtime I think it would be a stretch to label the religion in its integrity as ‘triumphant’

  22. Jobes talks about who the original recipients of Hebrews may have been. She came to the conclusion that we cannot know for sure who the original audience of Hebrews was but that based on the contents of the book and the chronology of history, most think of the original audience to have been in Rome (Jobes, 32). If the original audience was in Rome, the letter, “must refer to a time prior to Nero’s persecution of Christians (A.D. 64), but after Claudius expelled Jews (A.D. 49)” (Long). This historical context makes us aware of the persecution that these early Christians were going through. “the book is written to ‘reorient a community that has been disoriented by the chasm between Christian confession of triumph and the reality of suffering it has experienced’” (Long). The book of Hebrews also serves the purpose of being a huge part of the Scriptural evidence concerning Christology. Hebrews, “presents profound insight into how Jesus Christ, particularly in His death, relates to the important elements of the Old Testament priesthood and sacrificial system” (Jobes, 24). The author does not call out Judaism as wrong but instead explains that Jesus is superior because He is the fulfillment of the old law which ends while the new law (which is written on our hearts) begins (Long). The letter also probably does the best job of clearly explaining why Jesus had to be fully human in order for God’s salvation plan to be complete (Jobes, 24).

  23. I found it very interesting to hear the points about Gods allowance of suffering on Christianity. This is something that I personally have wrestled with for a very long time. Recently I have done some research and have read a book called “Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel and in this he has an entire section based on research he did in this. He interviewed people of many different religions and got their perspectives on suffering as a whole. In this he says, “Gods answer to the problem of suffering is that he came right down into it. Many Christians try to get God off the hook for suffering; God put himself on the hook, so to speak – on the cross. Therefore, the practical solution is that if we want to be with God, we have to be with suffering, we have to not avoid the cross, either in thought or in fact” (Strobel 64). This quote to me shows how suffering is part of life now after the fall. The cross brought humility from God to show that suffering is needed to be with Him. We cannot avoid suffering even if like Jobes stated the suffering is embarrassing and cannot become successful because of suffering. Everyone that has ever walked the earth has experienced suffering in some way, including Christ.
    The last statement said about the slowing of Christianity’s growth I believe is so true. I do not remember the exact number but the most influential age of people (Gen Z) there is roughly 6% who are true believers which blows my mind. I completely agree and believe people are hesitant to come to Christianity because of the corruptness that it has become. So many people use Christianity as a business and as a political ploy now and it pushes people away. This is not at all how it should be nor how it is. A big point that Jobes pointed out in his book was a quote from Voltaire which states, “if we would destroy the Christian religion, we must first of all destroy man’s belief in the Bible.” I believe this is becoming so true today and more and more people are straying and leaving the Christian religion because those that claim to be Christians do not truly live out the Bible. If I weren’t a Christian, I would have a hard time looking at a lot of the people that I know claim to be Christian and be like “yeah I want to be like them.” This is sad, we are called to be Gods lights, but instead so many people use Christianity name as a nametag or a “ticket” out of situations.

  24. There are some similarities and differences between how suffering used to be viewed in the first century and how it is viewed today. As was mentioned in the post, honor/shame cultures viewed suffering as shameful. There was not yet a grander view of suffering as a small price to pay for greater treasures in heaven. Similarly, there are branches of the Church that view suffering as occurring only to those who are not faithful enough. Worse yet, many of those same groups push the idea that tithing to their church is a way to gain God’s blessings. In both the past and present, there is also the idea that suffering comes as a result of a person’s sin. Though in a sense this is true, as it is the sin of mankind that caused the world to become broken, it is not necessarily a person’s individual sins which cause them to suffer.

    Thankfully, Hebrews has made it clear to the majority of the Church that suffering is an earthly experience that happens to all people, especially those who follow Christ. Just because Christ is at the right hand of God does not mean that all things have been completed. Suffering also gives Christians an opportunity for soul-building and a chance to witness to the lost through action.

    it seems as though there was temptation in the early Church to turn on Christ due to the current/looming persecution (Jobes 28). Similarly, there is great temptation for now for Christians to abandon the gospel as atheism becomes the norm among those who consider themselves to be too intelligent and rational for religion. However, the author of Hebrews makes it clear that the only other option besides Christ is apostasy, which is a “spiritually fatal mistake,” (Jobes 29).

  25. What is the purpose of Hebrews? That is a question that is not simply answered. Is it to encourage the early Christians at the time? Is it an apologetic defense of the gospel? Is it rich with new theological concepts? In class and in our reading we focused on the timeline and background of when Hebrews was written. The timeline seemed to be around 60 AD, merely years after the death of Jesus, very much in the time of the early church. While the book of Hebrews very much seems to contain encouragement and wisdom for the early church, I believe there are a plethora of profound theological truths to be found in this book. I think of Hebrews 11 when we are told that faith is the assurance of things that we hope for, and faith for the things we cannot see. This verse alone could be the catalyst for 100 sermons. The way the book of Hebrews weaves the truth of the Old Testament and New Testament together is very profound and moving. It continues the theme of New Testament books bridging this gap between these two testaments and clearly showing us readers the significance of the new Covenant. Jesus just wasn’t any ordinary man, He is the Son of God, perfect and Holy. At the end of the day, there are many lessons we can learn from this book that are super applicable to our lives today.

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