I received the following question:
I am beginning to understand Hebrews a little better. Why were there so many warnings, over and over? For example in Hebrews 2:3,3:12,13,15-19 they were warned not to become like the O.T.Israelites who embittered God.
I think the many warnings in Hebrews reflects the fact that Silas is writing to them because of his fear (probably shared by Paul) that the Hebrews (whom I believe were the Thessalonians) would not stand fast in the things they had taught them. This fear was largely because of how abbreviated their ministry in Thessalonica had been. They had been unable to spend more than three Sabbath days sharing the truth with these new believers. Therefore, though some had believed, it seemed questionable as to whether or not they would remain standing strong. For one thing, they were facing persecution from the Jews who did not believe, and who so openly and vociferously opposed Paul’s proclamation, forcing him and his company to flee from the city. These Jews would not have stopped causing trouble just because Paul was gone, but would have switched the focus of their hatred to those Jews who believed Paul and were following Jesus Christ after hearing his message. Would these new believers prove true, or would they be like the seed sown on stony ground in Mark 4:17, who, “when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble“?
The other fear was the fact that they had not really finished, after only three Sabbath days, proclaiming to them everything they thought it was important for them to know. Most significantly, while they had presented Jesus to them as the Christ and they had believed it, they had not yet emphasized that Christ should be granted the highest place of all, above Moses, above the law, above the tabernacle, above angels, and above everything else that was important to Israel that God had given them. Silas writes to give them this teaching. That is why I have said that this probably would have been Paul’s message on Sabbath day #4, if they had been able to be present to give it. Since they had not really finished the message, they had some anxiety as to whether the new believers would be willing to give Jesus Christ the highest place, as they ought, or not. Therefore, there is the anxiety, and the continual warnings.
I think that these people had Israelite ancestry, although their distance from the land of Israel would exclude them from the temple, priesthood, and so forth. It is true that not all of them remained faithful to the true God, but Paul’s words regarding them in I Thessalonians seems to indicate that they were overall a pretty impressive group of ancestral Israelites when it came to turning to the true God and away from idols.