The Other Letters Series covers Hebrews; Firstand Second Peter; First, Secondand Third John;and, Jude. All the letters written by Paul are in the Paul’s Letters Series, while Jamesis in the James Series and Revelationis in the Revelation Series.
Surprisingly little information is known about the letters in this series. The exact dates of all of them are unknown, and the author of Hebrewsis both unknown and disputed. The target audiences of the letters are broadly described, if described at all.
Based on information from the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, the dates of these letters might be:
Hebrews 60-70 AD
1 Peter 60-64 AD
2 Peter 64-68 AD
Jude 60-68 AD
1 John 85-95 AD
2 John 85-95 AD
3 John 85-95 AD
The main theme of the first six chapters of Hebrews is to show that Jesus is always the better choice for people to make. The author then warns against falling away from Jesus while demonstrating that God is just and will fulfill his promises to those who are faithful to Him.
Chapter 7 returns to the theme of Jesus being the better choice. The author talks about the mysterious Melchizedek, the priest who took an offering from Abraham, long before there were priests in the line of Aaron. Chapter 8 talks of Jesus being the Great High Priest because he serves in the true temple, Heaven. The author continues by showing Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant, which completes the Old Covenant. Rather than having a covenant written on stones, the New Covenant will be written in the minds and hearts of God’s people.
The author continues by showing that Jesus provided the perfect one-time sacrifice, which brings salvation. Since we have the perfect high priest and perfect sacrifice, the author contends we should hold fervently to the hope of eternal life and spur on each other to love and good deeds. On the other hand, we should dread the thought of continuing to sin instead of persevering in the faith of God.
The first ten chapters lay the basis for understanding what faith is and what faith means. Hebrews 11:1 is one of the clearest definitions in the Bible: faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Chapter 11, the “faith in action chapter,” shows numerous examples of Old Testament characters who demonstrated their faith through their actions and their endurance of persecution. However, even with their faithfulness, they did not receive the promise… the promise fulfilled through Jesus.
Jesus is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith. With this in mind, nobody should become tired or give up. Jesus provides the endurance and strength to continue in faith.
Returning to an Old Testament analogy, the author shows that God wants a new kind of sacrifice and obedience. Followers of Jesus are to show love to everybody, keep their lives free from sexual immorality and the love of money, and to stay true to the teachings of Jesus.
The ending of the book shows a little irony: even though we do not know the author or the target audience of Hebrews, it is clear the author and his audience knew each other well.
Apollos – Tim Urban
Barnabas – Bob Hess
Silas – Tony Schneider
John Mark (older) – Wilbur Penn
Mary – Chana Keefer
Gaius – Matthew Clark
Jude – Zachary Leasau