The book of Hebrews was probably a letter written primarily to Jewish Christians who were undergoing intense persecution and were pondering the possibility of returning to Judaism so that they might escape the sufferings inflicted upon the Christian believers. Under the Roman rule, the Jewish Christians encountered various persecutions. Initially, they lost their properties, were imprisoned and driven away from the city. Subsequently, after being allowed to return, they then faced even greater opposition with the prospect of dying for their faith. Judaism was not treated in the same manner by the Romans and the latter even allowed the Jews to have their own synagogues and high priest. One can understand how the intense persistent persecution could cause many Jewish Christians to consider turning back to Judaism and escape the sufferings and probable martyrdom facing those who claimed to be believers of Jesus Christ.
The writer is not known but he probably was very familiar with Judaism and the gospel, and he wrote in a refined manner in Greek. He was possibly a Hellenistic Jewish Christian. The date was probably before AD 70 as there was no mention of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which took place in AD 70.
The writer took pains to share that the new covenant was a better covenant; Jesus as the Son of God was greater than the angels; as a Son, He was greater than Moses, greater than Joshua, greater than Aaron the high priest as He was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
That Melchizedek was a type of the Messiah the Jews themselves admitted; and his priesthood had to do, not primarily with offering sacrifices for sins, but with ministering blessing and succour and sustenance. For the Jews, no further proof was needed than the fact that even Abraham paid him homage, giving him tithes of the spoils of battle.
Jesus was the ultimate Lamb of God, the final and complete sacrifice; He entered not into the holy of holies of the tabernacle but He actually entered into heaven as the high priest and as the final perfect sacrifice, opening the entrance into the presence of God for all true believers. Above all, He emits the radiance of God’s glory from within and is the exact representation of God’s nature and image; He is the heir of all things and all things will be summed up in Christ who, after making purification of sins, was resurrected and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, depicting completion of His work, and having a place of the highest honour.
In the past, God spoke through prophets who were given progressive revelation, but now God speaks through and in HIs Son, the complete and final revelation; He is not only God’s messenger and the final prophet, but He is the message, the Word of God. No further revelation is needed; God’s plan for salvation and His intent to have a people and nation of His own is now clearly and perfectly revealed in Christ. Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and the fulfilment of the Law and the prophets; with the coming of the Son of God, the shadows and types seen in the Old Testament have blossomed into the substance seen and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the God-man and the ultimate and only mediator between God and man.
The letter also highlighted the warnings not to turn away from the gospel and go back to Judaism. The Jewish Christians could not afford to ignore such a great salvation; they should not be like a land which does not produce fruits but produce weeds instead; they must not ignore the One who spoke from heaven when ignoring the One who spoke from the mountain in the Old Testament already incurred a great judgment!