Persecution and the Audience of Hebrews

What kinds of persecution did the audience of Hebrews experience?

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When we think about the book of Hebrews, we need to understand that it was a letter. It was written to people, written to people in a particular situation. And when we look through the book of Hebrews, we recognize that the Christians at that time were up against some really difficult odds. This book was especially written to those Jews who had become Christians, and as a result of their claiming Christ as their Lord and Savior, they encountered various problems. They were being ostracized by the Jewish people. They were no longer allowed to be a part of that community. And that created a lot of difficulty for them, and they were in a lot of difficulty wrestling with, should we continue on with Christ? In other words, our life seemed to be so much easier and better when we were not following Christ. If we would just give up on Christ, perhaps we could get our families back, perhaps we would have a better standing in society. Because, Hebrews specifically tells us that they had lost property, that they had been thrown into prison. In other words, they've been up against all kind of harm. If I just give up Jesus, then maybe my life would be the way it used to be. And that's why the author of Hebrews continues to set forth Christ as supreme, continues to encourage them to keep their eyes on Jesus, reminds them if they turn away from Jesus, there is no sacrifice of sins. When they turn away from Jesus, there is no life in that. So, these people are really battling real-life stuff, and they're trying to find their way through it.

Answer by Dr. David Talley

Dr. David Talley is Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology and is Chair of the Biblical and Theological Studies Old Testament Department.