"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets"
By way of introduction it will be useful to make a preliminary examination of this well-ordered, closely knit epistle. In the main, the first ten chapters are doctrinal in content, with a forthright exhortation at the end of ch 10, followed by a thorough application of the doctrinal position in chs. 11-13. The whole is interspersed by a series of seven solemn warnings, 2:1-4; 3:1-19; 4:11-13; 5:11-6:20; 10:26-31; 12:25-29, and 13:9-15. The importance of the epistle should be obvious in that it gives an authoritative interpretation of the Old Testament. While on the one hand it is true to say that a knowledge of the Old Testament is essential for a true understanding of Hebrews, it is even truer to say that Hebrews will give an enriching understanding of the meaning and significance of the Old Testament. The interpretation which Hebrews places on the Old Testament cultus is that the sacrifices had no inherent worth, but were shadows cast upon the course of history by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is not quite true to say in view of this that the relation between Old Testament and New is that between shadow and substance, for the faith of the Old Testament saints, as we shall see in ch 11, was no shadowy thing. It is rather the relation between promise and fulfilment. Faith in the Old Testament was faith in the promise, and looked forward, while faith in the New is faith in the fulfilment, and looks back to the mighty act of God in history, namely the work of Christ.