Encountering the New Testament, 4th Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


22. Hebrews and James

Part 4 Intro Video

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • List the eight General Epistles
  • Discuss the possible recipients of the book of Hebrews
  • Explain the purpose of the book of Hebrews
  • Outline the content of the book of Hebrews
  • Outline the content of the book of James
  • Illustrate how James reflects elements of both prophecy and Wisdom writings from the Old Testament

Chapter Summary

  1. There are eight books classified as General Epistles, and both Hebrews and James belong to this group.

  2. The authorship of Hebrews is uncertain.

  3. Hebrews was likely written for a Jewish audience.

  4. Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of the Christian faith and teaches that Jesus is superior to the prophets, angels, Moses, and Aaron.

  5. Hebrews can be viewed as a book of exhortations because it repeatedly exhorts its readers to courageously reaffirm their Christian faith.

  6. The major practical concern of Hebrews is that Christians not be intimidated by the difficult circumstances they face.

  7. James may have intended his letter for the Jewish Christians scattered in a variety of communities—he refers to them as the “twelve tribes scattered.”

  8. James’s approach is similar to the prophecy and Wisdom writings from the Old Testament.

  9. James emphasizes the importance of practicing the Christian faith, not merely “believing” it.

Study Questions

  1. What is the central theme of Hebrews?

  2. Why can Hebrews be called a Sermonic Epistle? What elements in Hebrews would be unusual for an epistle?

  3. In what sense is Hebrews critical of Old Testament religion? Is this an attack on the Old Testament itself?

  4. How does Hebrews use warnings and encouragement to appeal for perseverance?

  5. Does James’s view of faith and works ultimately contradict Paul’s teachings on this subject? Why or why not?

  6. What seems to be the major point of James’s Epistle?