More than once I have heard (and recommended) that people who are interested in Christianity should start their investigation by reading the gospel of John.
I’m changing my advice. Why not start with the book of Hebrews if you are curious about Christianity?
All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and no one book is holier than any of the others, but God uses the different personalities and writing styles of the authors in order to communicate to us. So let’s be careful in how we recommend a starting point for different people.
To that end, I say again, why not start with Hebrews? To whom do I think it would appeal?
Hebrews is basically a sermon in the form of a letter. Are you the kind of person who likes to get the information without having to sit through the whole presentation? Do you like book summaries? Cliff’s notes? Transcripts rather than audio/visual? Have you ever listened to an audio book on 1.5 speed?
Hebrews could be the sermon for you.
You don’t have to listen to it, just read the transcript and pull out the big points:
1. Jesus is God’s Son, and he is a man, and he saves us.
2. Jesus is better than angels.
3. Jesus is better than Moses.
4. Jesus is a better high priest.
5. In Jesus, we have a faith similar to Old Testament heroes, but better.
6. So, hold on to Jesus, you won’t be sorry.
Those six points may be too simplistic, but why don’t you read Hebrews and see if you come up with something different or similar?
Too often we worry in Christian circles that Hebrews is somehow an “advanced” book of the Bible. We worry because Hebrews 5:11-6:3 uses strong language about milk versus solid food and maturity versus immaturity. We take from this that we need to leave elementary teaching behind.
What do you do, though, if you feel you don’t even have an elementary knowledge of the Bible? More often than not you leave Hebrews behind. That’s not helpful.
Scripture is not divided into easy, medium, and hard books. Hebrews was a sermon given to a church full of people who knew something about Jesus, but they had not met him personally. It was a church full of people who faced opposition because of their faith.
People in this church were thinking about leaving their friends and leaving their faith in Christ because of the opposition. Christianity wasn’t quite what they thought at the beginning. Have you ever felt like this? If you’re not a Christian, have you ever wondered why people stick with Jesus?
Hebrews lays out the case for faith in Christ for the interested and for the disillusioned.
Another reason to start with Hebrews is its connection to the Old Testament. The last quarter of the Bible (the New Testament) is the most read by Christians, but it is the most misunderstood if they ignore the first three quarters (the Old Testament). Hebrews ties the two together.
You can’t make sense of this sermon without doing a lot of flipping back and forth between stories. While this could be made into a case for why Hebrews is “advanced” instead I urge you to see it as a case for why we need to read it, preach it, and talk about in community.
Christians and skeptics need to come together and talk about this book. You can’t talk about Hebrews without talking about the Christian canon and why Hebrews is included even though we don’t know the identity of the author. You can’t talk about Jesus in this book without talking about how Christianity is different than the Jewish faith and different than all other faith commitments – including the “no faith” faith commitment.
I hope this has piqued your curiosity for Hebrews. If you’re looking for a tool to help guide your reading, I recommend the ESV Study Bible. It has a very concise, helpful, and clear introduction. It also has a clean outline that is unmatched by any commentary I’ve read.
Get your favorite Bible app and listen to it.
I pray that God will use this book to transform your life.