What Kind of Book is Hebrews?

11 Aug

The simple answer is that Hebrews is a book of the New Testament. But with this question I am asking what type of book we are dealing with here. Hebrews is not an epistle like the Pauline letters. There’s no greeting or thanksgiving, there are few notes at the end. Nor does the book fit into another common biblical genre like law or history or prophecy or wisdom. So what is it? The good news is that the book of Hebrews tells us the answer to this question.  “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly” (Hebrews 12:22). Hebrews is a “word of exhortation.” The closest parallel I see to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament is the preaching in the book of Acts. So I have come to see the book of Hebrews as a sort of written sermon in the spirit of the sermons in the book of Acts, the preaching of the early church. The preaching of the early church we see in Acts is made up of two elements: exposition and exhortation. This is preaching. Preaching is not telling cute stories or flexing rhetorical power. It is not raising and lowering one’s voice or using dramatic body gestures. Preaching is exposition and exhortation. It is taking a text or texts or Scripture and explaining it clearly and then challenging the hearers to follow the truth; to know, believe, love and do what God has revealed. This is what the book of Hebrews does.

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