Neither the author nor the audience of this book is specifically named, but the book itself reveals its nature and purpose. The recipients are Jesus-believing Jews who are in danger of falling away from the faith. They are likely in Italy, since the author passes on greetings to them from those who are from Italy—probably their friends who are traveling elsewhere. The goal of the whole book is to show the superiority of the final realities God has revealed in the new covenant to the temporary ones of the first covenant. Its readers are encouraged to respond to the threat of persecution by recommitting to the new reality brought by Jesus.
The book alternates between teachings—reviews of Israel’s history or the temple worship arrangements—and challenges based on these teachings. There are four teaching-challenge pairs:
: Jesus and the salvation he brings are greater than the angels and the salvation they announced (the law of Moses).
: Jesus is our “apostle” (someone sent by God on a specific mission), and he brings us into a greater rest and promised land than Moses and Joshua brought Israel into.
: Jesus is a more effective high priest than the priests appointed by the law of Moses.
: As God’s faithful people have done throughout the ages, we must continue living in light of God’s unseen heavenly realities and stepping out in faith. Through the Messiah we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.