sermon: Hebrews as a Sermon (Part One)

John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 05-Dec-20; Sermon #1573; 65 minutes

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Even as the Book of Hebrews prepared the first century church for impending persecution, so it is equally relevant to today's true church as it faces an ever-more-blatant assault on God's law by more and more segments of the Western society. Ironically, most churches today give the Book of Hebrews short shrift, even though it presents the remedy for precipitously falling membership. This disregard of the Book stems from 1.) its linkage to the Old Testament, 2.) its placement at the end of specific epistles to people or locations, 3.) its lack of a signature, 4.) its level of complexity, especially of its opening, 5.) the mistaken view that its audience is a scattered and inadequately identified people and 6.) the perception that it lacks the characteristics of an epistle. Hebrews has characteristics of a treatise, an epistle and a sermon. The purpose of the epistle is to head off a major calamity caused by Jewish converts, who balked at the notion that Christ serves as High Priest, believing that Jesus was just a man and died as a man. These converts, trained under the auspices of Judaism, were under the mistaken belief that angels were more qualified to serve as High Priests than was Christ. Paul clearly intended the Book of Hebrews, undoubtedly written in the mid-60s AD, only a few years before the destruction of the Temple, to be an exhortation, that is, a sermon, aimed at preparing the members of the first century church and those living in the end-times for looming catastrophe and persecution.

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