The readers, according to 1:1 were Hebrews and according to Peter (2 Pet. 3:1,15 cf. 1 Pet. 1:1) were Jews of the Diaspora and had a knowledge of Judaism. Some were saved for a long time (5:12). They had passed through many trials (10:32-34; 12:4) and suffered fierce persecution from both Jews and Romans. They were regarded as apostates from Judaism and the blessings of Israel.
The writer of Hebrews, according to the title inscribed at the head of the scroll and according to Peter (2 Pet. 3:15,16) was Paul the Apostle, whom God used to write fourteen New Testament Books (see Introductory Notes on First Thessalonians). Due to the fact that the author does not state his name in the Epistle, considerable controversy has prevailed over the authorship of The Epistle to Hebrews by Paul The Apostle regardless of the inscribed title and recognition by the church for centuries. For a detailed dissertation on the attestation of Scripture to Paul's authorship, refer to the paper on this website entitled, A Consideration Of The Attestation Of Scripture to The Authorship of Hebrews located under the heading, Papers.
Internal evidence to Paul's authorship includes: (1) Peter's reference to the epistles written by Paul (2 Pet. 3:15,16) in his second epistle to Jews of the Diaspora and only Hebrews qualifies (3:1 cf. 1 Pet. 1:1); (2) Paul's use of a trilogy of Epistles with the theme emphasis from Habakkuk 2:4 in three of his epistles: A. ‘‘The just'' (Rom. 1:17); B. ‘‘shall live'' (Gal. 3:11); and C. ‘‘by faith'' (Heb. 10:38); (3) Paul's reference to Timothy as our (the) brother, fellow worker, and traveling companion (13:23 cf. 2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thes. 3:2; Phlm. 1); and his reference to: the fact that he was not among the eleven who personally heard the Lord (2:3,4) and that he was a prisoner in bonds (10:34; 13:19,24) in Italy.
External evidence comes from Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria who wrote a letter listing the Canon in A.D. 367. Latourette's History of Christianity, p. 134 states, ‘‘The first list which has come down to us of the twenty-seven books which embraces only those which appear in our New Testament.'' Late in the 4th century the Western Church recognized the canonicity of Hebrews on the basis of Pauline authorship. Without exception the Greek writers ascribed Hebrews to the apostle Paul and he was regarded as the author until the Reformation.
Dating of Hebrews is based upon three factors. It must have been written prior to three events: 1. the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70); 2. Nero's persecution and burning of Rome (A.D. 64-66) because neither are mentioned; 3. before Peter wrote his Second Epistle (A.D. 66), but after Paul's imprisonment in Rome (Spring A.D. 61 to 63). So it was written in early spring A.D. 63 from Italy (13:24).
The Purpose of Paul is threefold: 1. to confirm young Hebrew Christians (new converts) in the face of persecution; 2. to comfort Hebrew Christians who were enduring prolonged persecution; and 3. to caution Hebrew non-Christians who were sharing spiritual blessings and had repented, but have not yet embraced Christ by committing trust. There are seven warnings interspersed throughout this Epistle:
First warning: Don't Drift! ( 2:1-4);
Second warning: Don't Depart! (3:7-19);
Third warning: Don't Disbelieve! (4:11-13);
Fourth warning: Don't Degenerate! (5:11-6:20);
Fifth warning: Don't Despise! (10:26-39);
Sixth warning: Don't Deny! (12:25-39);
Seventh warning: Don't Be Deceived! (13:9).
Characteristics comparative, cautionary, Christological, and exhortative. Hebrews is the Book of Comparisons. In addition to using the key word ‘better' thirteen times, Paul used eleven superlatives for a total of sixteen times.
The Book may be outlined based upon ‘‘faith'' as follows:
I. Christ is The Proper Object of Faith (1:1-10:39).
II. The Proper Accomplishment of Faith (11:1-40).
III. The Race of Faith ((12:1-29).
IV. The Leaders of Faith (13:1-25).
I. Christ is The Proper Object of Faith (1:1-10:18).
II. The Central Exhortation (10:19-39).
III. The Practical Application (11:1-13:15).