As we first approach the book of Hebrews we have the right tendency to think that this is not a letter. There is no author listed. There are no recipients named. There is not a salutation. Nothing about the beginning of this writing suggests that it is a letter. We must jump to the end of this writing to realize that this is actually a letter.Â At the end of chapter 13 we see what we would expect at the end of a letter. Hebrews has a closing and a greeting. In fact, the greeting and closing help narrow down the possibilities of who the author may be. Verse 24 suggests that the author of the letter spends much time or lives in Italy. Also, verse 23 suggests that the writer was not imprisoned with Timothy.
But, to me, the greater question why did the author not write this letter in a standard manner? It does not matter who wrote the letter? The greater question is why remain anonymous. Why not list the recipients? Why not open the letter in typical format so people would know who the letter is written to and who the letter is from? We do not have the answers to these questions. But it is important to see that this letter is very different than normal first century letters. The author remains anonymous for a reason. Perhaps he was endangered for writing and could not reveal himself. The recipients are not revealed, perhaps for their safety as well. Since this letter seems to have been written just before the fall of Jerusalem, it may be that the silence is due to the Jewish persecution escalated against the Christians during that time. This would also be the same time frame when Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome, igniting a persecution of Christians in Rome. Whatever the case may be, it seems that there was a purpose for departing from the nature form of first century letters.
The first two verses declare the thesis of the letter. Since the author chose to omit the declaration of who the author is, who the recipients are, and the salutation, we must assume that the writing dives into the body of the letter. The first two verses speak about superiority and superiority is the theme of the letter. The writer begins with a comparison between the way things were and the way things are now.
Long ago > Many times & many ways > God spoke through prophets > God spoke to fathers
Now > One time (implied) > God spoke through His Son > God spoke to us
In the first sentence the writer shows four ways there is superiority. God spoke to the fathers, but God speaks to us. God spoke in many different ways and different times, but now God speaks only one way. God spoke through the mouth of the prophets, but now through His Son. The things that happened long ago are not as good as what is being experienced now. The first sentence tells us that the writer will spend the letter describing the superiority of Christ.
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