This book was written in approximately A.D. 64-66 to the early Church believers in Christ who were Jewish, lived near Jerusalem, and who knew the author of this book (Hebrews 13:19,23). It appears from chapter two, verse three “having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard,” that they were second generation believers and not eyewitnesses to the ministry, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Since they were Jewish and probably orthodox the writer quotes frequently from the Old Testament of which a Gentile audience would have no experience. This is clearly brought out by the writer warning for them not to return back to the Mosaic Law. Similarly to what the apostle Paul condemned the Corinthian church for (I Corinthians 3:2-3) which was chiding them for not growing at all Spiritually, these Jews were doing the same thing. In fact the author of Hebrews says in Chapter 5:11-14, that they should be teachers by now and they are not. Finally this group was experiencing significant persecution and as a result they were irresolute in their faith. In other words many of them while wanting to be part of the Church and leave the Old Law had not made the final decision to believe the Gospel. Since they lived so close to Jerusalem the temptation to return to the Temple sacrificial system was strong and it was a major problem which was crippling their final firm acceptance of the Gospel (Hebrews 6:1-12, characterized as falling away). This factor of the intended audience is important to retain throughout the book as it will explain some problematic passages such as salvation.
Daniel E Woodhead | Theology in Perspective