Hebrews is one of the most attractive and powerful yet challenging books of the New Testament. It begins with a magnificent presentation of Jesus as the divine Son through whom God has spoken his final word (Heb. 1:1–4). These opening lines set the trajectory for the whole discourse.
The polished literary character of Hebrews and its careful exposition of the superiority of Christ, the Son of God and great high priest, led earlier generations to conclude that it was mainly or simply a theological treatise. However, particularly in the last three decades, its purpose has been understood as hortatory; this is made clear by the exhortatory passages that flow from, and are grounded in, the expositions that appear throughout the discourse.
Peter O’Brien’s excellent, cohesive exposition of Hebrews examines the major interlocking themes highlighted by the author as he addresses his ‘word of exhortation’ (13:22) to the congregation. These themes include God speaking, Christology, salvation, the people of God, and warnings and encouragements.
O’Brien shows how Hebrews employs profoundly rich theology to serve the didactic, hortatory and pastoral goals of urging the hearers to endure in their pursuit of the promised reward, in obedience to the word of God, and especially on the basis of their new covenant relationship with the Son.