Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
Though Hebrews begins like a sermon it ends like a letter, with greetings and final salutations. The writer remains unidentified. He urges his readers to ″bear with my word of exhortation″ (Hebrews 13:22). Though he has written to them ″quite briefly″ (but not that briefly when compared to many of the other epistles in the New Testament; v. 22), he hopes that his readers would take his exhortations and warnings seriously. Throughout the letter, he has urged his Jewish Christian readers not to drift away from Christ. Neither fear of persecution nor weakening of devotion to Christ must lead them astray, especially to return to the old Judaism of their forefathers. Such a move would rob them of the reality that is in Christ; they would simply be moving back to lifeless shadows that in effect point to Christ our true High Priest and perfect sacrifice for our sins and mediator of the new and perfect covenant. The writer has written with great burden and passion. He hopes that his letter would make a difference in ensuring faith, holiness, and Christ-honouring deeds among his readers (including us).
A reference is made to Timothy (most likely the protégé and associate of Paul; Hebrews 13:23). Timothy had suffered imprisonment and had just been released. Perhaps he was thrown into prison through Alexander, the man Paul warned him about (2 Timothy 4:14-15). Timothy served in Ephesus and knew many people in Asia Minor and nearby provinces. It is possible that the recipients of Hebrews were Christian Jews living in these areas and knew Timothy. The author expresses his hopes to visit his readers with Timothy. Italy is mentioned, but it is not the place from where the author wrote the epistle. Note that he mentions those ″from″ (not ″in″) Italy (Hebrews 13:24).
The writer sends greetings to ″all your leaders″-the third time he uses the term (Hebrews 13:24, see vv. 7, 17). This shows his special respect for church leaders. The term ″all the Lord's people″ refers to all the groups of Christians (churches) in the area. The word ″all″ offers greetings in an inclusive way. The letter ends with the signature phrase, ″Grace be with you all″ (v. 25), reminiscent of how the apostle Paul ended some of his letters (Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Titus 3:15). This is a fitting way to end a letter that focuses on God's grace fully available in the gospel of Jesus Christ, ″the one and only Son″ (John 1:14, 18). We are to draw near to Christ and stay close to Him.
The writer of Hebrews urged his readers to bear with his word of exhortation. How can we take his exhortations and warnings seriously? Think of a specific application for your life.
Hebrews ends with a note on grace. What does the book say about the throne of grace to which we now have access through Christ (Hebrews 4:16)? Thank God for the grace that comes to us through and in Christ.