The Theme of the Book of Hebrews

A rewarding but difficult task is to seek for a unifying theme to the book of Hebrews. One may ask the reason for seeking only one theme.

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A rewarding but difficult task is to seek for a unifying theme to the book of Hebrews. One may ask the reason for seeking only one theme. Could not the author have woven more than one theme together? Certainly. The advantage of seeking one theme is that it assists in the interpretation of difficult passages and in bringing the book together as a whole. Thus, the task is well worth the effort.

One might expect a theme like “Jesus Christ the High Priest” or “the believer and the life of faith.” Those certainly have merit. The phrase “high priest” refers to Jesus Christ 13 times, besides the discussion of Melchizedek which spans chapters five through seven. And who could ignore chapter eleven and the fact the word “faith” is used 33 times throughout the book? Yet, these two still fall a little short.

The theme of the believer and temptation has a few advantages over the others. It brings together the high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ, the warning passages, and the theme of living by faith. Hebrews 4:14-16, is the key which unlocks this mystery. Believers have a great high priest who was tempted, but who never sinned. On this account, believers, can go to him by faith, and thereby escape temptation. That is a positive encouragement. The warning passages supply the negative discouragement.

In order to live the life of faith, the believer must have a clear picture of his High Priest, whom he can approach before sinning. This “pre-sin-approach” is possible because Jesus Christ already offered the sacrifice for sins, and because he was tempted but sinless. Understanding human nature, the author also adds the warnings giving the believer two means to evading temptation.

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