5 major themes in the Letter to the Hebrews and their impact on your faith

The Letter to the Hebrews

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Imagine standing at a crossroads, where the wisdom of the past meets the challenges of the present, guiding you towards a deeper understanding of your faith.

This is the essence of the Letter to the Hebrews — a profound piece of the New Testament that bridges ancient traditions with the living, breathing faith of today.

At its heart, this letter is a powerful reminder of the superiority of Christ, the importance of faith, and the beauty of the New Covenant.

In this article, we’ll explore the timeless relevance and importance of the Letter to the Hebrews, uncovering the lessons it holds for modern believers and how it continues to inspire, challenge, and transform our journey of faith.

Historical context of Hebrews

The Letter to the Hebrews sits between Paul’s letter to Philemon and the start of the catholic letters, like James, in the New Testament.

It talks about how Jesus Christ is a priest like no other and how His sacrifice changed everything, making a new agreement with God’s people.

Even though we’re not sure who wrote it, its message fits well with what Paul taught but in its own unique style.

It was written before 70 AD, hinting it came before the big temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

This letter was aimed at believers trying to understand how Jesus’ teachings and sacrifice connected to the old laws and prophecies they grew up with.

Overview of the letter

Hebrews tells us about Jesus being the ultimate priest, doing something no one else could: offering Himself as a sacrifice once and for all.

It uses the story of Melchizedek, a mysterious priest from the Old Testament, to show how Jesus’ role was planned long ago.

The letter mixes quotes from the Old Testament with explanations to show how faith in Jesus brings us closer to God. It encourages people to stick with their faith, see Jesus as their way to God, and keep their hearts true.

The main idea is simple yet powerful: Jesus has opened a new way for us to be with God, and our job is to follow Him with all our heart.

5 major themes in the Letter to the Hebrews

1) Jesus’ eternal priesthood

Have you ever wondered about the true meaning of priesthood?

Well, Hebrews gives us a groundbreaking insight.

The truth is that the Letter to the Hebrews places significant emphasis on Jesus Christ as the ultimate high priest — a role surpassing the traditional Levitical priesthood under the old covenant.

It underscores the concept of Jesus as an eternal mediator between God and humanity.

Unlike earthly priests who offer sacrifices repeatedly, Jesus offered Himself once and for all, securing eternal redemption for mankind.

This portrayal of Jesus’ priesthood as superior and everlasting highlights the complete and perfect nature of His sacrifice, eliminating the need for repetitive offerings and establishing a new, unbreakable covenant with God’s people.

But why does this matter to us?

Because it shows Jesus as our permanent link to God, always there to connect us, guide us, and intercede for us.

His priesthood isn’t just a title — it’s an ongoing, living bridge between humanity and the divine.

2) Faith defined

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Now, let’s dive into what Hebrews says about faith.

This profound statement from Hebrews provides one of the most clear-cut definitions of faith found in the Bible.

In simpler terms, faith is about being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. It’s a trust so strong that it acts as evidence for our beliefs, even in the absence of physical proof.

Hebrews used this definition as a foundation to commend the ancient heroes of faith. That’s how they illustrated how trust in God’s promises shapes our reality and connects us to a lineage of believers who have walked before us.

3) Perseverance through trials

The Letter to the Hebrews presents a powerful idea:

Facing hardships and opposition is part of God’s discipline, akin to that of a loving parent towards their child.

Hebrews speaks directly to you, encouraging perseverance through trials.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the early Christians faced persecution, yet Hebrews calls them to hold fast to their faith, no matter the storm.

Trials aren’t indicators of God’s absence or displeasure but are instead tools He uses to train and strengthen our faith, drawing us closer to a life that mirrors Jesus’.

This perspective challenges readers to rethink their attitudes towards suffering, viewing their struggles as opportunities for growth and deeper communion with God.

4) Superior sacrifice

Do we truly understand the meaning of sacrifice in our lives?

Well, Hebrews calls us to reflect on this question by comparing Old Testament sacrifices with the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus.

While ancient rituals involved repeated offerings to atone for sins, Jesus’ death on the cross was a once-for-all act that fulfilled these symbolic practices.

This shift invites us to consider not only how we view sacrifice but also how we live out our gratitude for what Jesus has done.

Every time we face doubts or feel unworthy, remembering this superior sacrifice reassures us of God’s immense love and grace.

True sacrifice in our lives might look like love, obedience, and service rooted in appreciation for Christ’s unmatchable gift.

4) Entering God’s rest

A prominent theme in Hebrews is the concept of “rest,” symbolizing the spiritual peace and ultimate salvation that comes from placing one’s faith in Christ.

This theme harkens back to Israel’s journey toward the Promised Land, which serves as an allegory for believers’ journey toward eternal life with God.

We all know that entering God’s rest requires obedience and faith, right?

This means believing that Jesus has secured our salvation and living in a way that aligns with this truth.

Through Christ, believers are invited into a rest that surpasses understanding, marking a life free from the burden of sin and death.

5) Mediator of a new covenant

Hebrews introduces Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant, a role that signifies a profound shift from the old covenant based on laws to a new one grounded in grace and forgiveness.

This covenant, sealed by Jesus’ sacrifice, facilitates a direct and personal relationship with God.

For example, think of a peace treaty that ends a long-standing conflict, with the mediator ensuring both sides adhere to the terms.

Jesus, as this mediator, guarantees our peace with God, ensuring we’re no longer estranged but brought into God’s family.

This new covenant empowers us to live lives that reflect God’s love and righteousness, not out of obligation but inspired by the transformative power of Jesus’ sacrifice.

How does faith transform us?

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.”

Hebrews 11:30

This passage from The Letter to the Hebrews highlights the transformative power of faith.

Just as the Israelites witnessed the walls of Jericho fall through their unwavering faith in God’s promise, we too are called to trust in God’s guidance and provision in our lives.

This act of faith wasn’t just about believing that something good might happen—it was a profound trust in God’s character and His promises, leading to action based on that trust.

Faith, therefore, becomes the catalyst for transformation not only within ourselves but also in our circumstances.

Therefore, it encourages us to move beyond our limitations and challenges, trusting that with God, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Final exhortations

The Letter to the Hebrews wraps up with powerful final exhortations that urge believers to live out their faith with conviction and purpose.

Here’s a breakdown of these guiding principles:

  • Hold fast to your confession, keeping faith strong even when faced with challenges.
  • Consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds, fostering a community of encouragement and support.
  • Do not neglect meeting together, for in unity, there’s strength and encouragement.
  • Live by faith, embracing it as the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of what we do not see.
  • Embrace discipline from God as a form of guidance and love, steering you towards a path of righteousness.

For instance, think about Abraham’s story, which Hebrews highlights as an epitome of living by faith.

Abraham, not knowing where he was going, trusted in God’s promise, embodying faith and obedience.

His journey, marked by uncertainty and trials, showcases the essence of faithfulness and the righteousness that comes from unwavering trust in God.

So, let’s take these words to heart, allowing them to shape our daily lives and deepen our connection with God.

What would Jesus say?

Unsure whether to move on from a failed marriage? Struggling with desire and feeling guilty for it? Wanting to live a life Jesus would be proud of?

Let Jesus tell you how to be a good Christian according to the teachings of the Bible.

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Mikkel Andrews

Mikkel Andrews

I'm Mikkel Andrews a theology professor currently based in Philippines. I've been walking with Christ ever since I can remember. My life's work is about understanding His teachings and sharing that knowledge. You'll often find me involved in community outreach or curled up with a book on theology, always looking to deepen my faith. When I'm not volunteering or diving into the latest theological texts, I'm writing for Bible Scripture to make spirituality relatable.

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