Monday, July 8, 2013

Print Page Who Wrote Hebrews?

There are many ideas out there on who wrote Hebrews. Some say it was Paul. Others, such as Martin Luther, say it was Apollos. Others say it was Jude, Luke or Barnabas. Others even claim is was written by the woman Priscilla.

Because Hebrews doesn't directly mention the author that leaves room for much confusion. Is it really such a mystery? It really isn't. We know the author could not have been a woman. For the Bible tells us that women are not to teach or ursurp authority over man (2 Timothy 2:12). Also, the new testament was written by apostles so that narrows down the possibilities. There is overwhelming evidence both historically and Biblically that the author of Hebrews was Paul.

Historical Evidence

There is plenty of historical evidence that Paul was the author of Hebrews. One of these evidences are early Christians who claimed that Paul was the author of Hebrews.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) - Eusebius, History 6.14.2

2. He says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts.

Clement of Alexandria lived only a generation or so after Hebrews would have been written. He states that Hebrews is the work of Paul. He says that Luke was the translator. This could explain why some incorrectly claim Luke was the author of Hebrews. For Paul sometimes did his own writing (Galatians 6:11 , 1 Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18 and 2 Thessalonians 3:17)

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD) - Eusebius, Church History 6.25.11-14

11. In addition he makes the following statements in regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews in his Homilies upon it: That the verbal style of the epistle entitled 'To the Hebrews,' is not rude like the language of the apostle, who acknowledged himself 'rude in speech' that is, in expression; but that its diction is purer Greek, any one who has the power to discern differences of phraseology will acknowledge.

12. Moreover, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged apostolic writings, any one who carefully examines the apostolic text will admit.'

13. Farther on he adds: If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the diction and phraseology are those of some one who remembered the apostolic teachings, and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul's.

14. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it. But let this suffice on these matters.

Some who reject Paul's authorship will try to say Origen supports their position because he was unsure who was the author. Instead he gives support in that he states that he believes it was Paul that wrote Hebrews.

Athanasius of Alexandria (293-373 AD) The 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius

Continuing, I must without hesitation mention the scriptures of the New Testament; they are the following: the four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, after them the Acts of the Apostles and the seven so-called catholic epistles of the apostles -- namely, one of James, two of Peter, then three of John and after these one of Jude. In addition there are fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul written in the following order: the first to the Romans, then two to the Corinthians and then after these the one to the Galatians, following it the one to the Ephesians, thereafter the one to the Philippians and the one to the Colossians and two to the Thessalonians and the epistle to the Hebrews and then immediately two to Timothy , one to Titus and lastly the one to Philemon. Yet further the Revelation of John.

Athanasius listed the cannon of scripture in his 367 AD 39th Festal letter. In it he states that Paul is the author of Hebrews.

Jerome (342–420 AD) Epistulae, 129.7, in Koester, Hebrews, 27

"We must admit that the epistle written to the Hebrews is regarded as Paul’s, not only by the churches of the east, but by all church writers who have from the beginning written in Greek."

Jerome was the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible. Not only did he believe Paul write Hebrews, he also points out that this was the normal view.

There were also councils that declared that Paul wrote Hebrews.

Synod of Carthage (397 AD)

Canon 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: [then follows a list of Old Testament books]. The [books of the] New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews; one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the transmarine Church shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.

Not only did these men and councils near the time of the Christ believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, many people around the time of the Reformation attributed Hebrews to Paul. Even the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible agrees. Look at these original titles for Hebrews:

Tyndale Bible 1526 - The Epistle of Paul Unto the Hebrews.

Bishop's Bible 1568 The Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle, unto the Hebrews.

Douay-Rheims 1582 The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.

King James Bible 1611 The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.

Even the first Spanish Bible by Cassiodoro de Reina attributed Hebrews to Paul:

First Spanish Bible in 1569 The Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews.

Also, English commentaries from old attributed Hebrews to Paul:

Adam Clarke:

Hebrews 13:24 And all the saints - All the Christians; for this is the general meaning of the term in most parts of St. Paul's writings. But a Christian was then a saint, i.e. by profession a holy person; and most of the primitive Christians were actually such. But in process of time the term was applied to all that bore the Christian name; as elect, holy people, sanctified, etc., were to the nation of the Jews, when both their piety and morality were at a very low ebb.

John Wesley Notes on the Bible:

It is agreed by the general tenor of antiquity that this epistle was written by St. Paul, whose other epistles were sent to the gentile converts; this only to the Hebrews. But this improper inscription was added by some later hand. It was sent to the Jewish Hellenist Christians, dispersed through various countries. St. Paul's method and style are easily observed therein. He places, as usual, the proposition and division before the treatise, chap. ii, 17; he subjoins the exhortatory to the doctrinal part, quotes the same scriptures, chap. i, 6; ii, 8; x, 30, 38, 6; and uses the same expressions as elsewhere. But why does he not prefix his name, which, it is plain from chap. xiii, 19 was dear to them to whom he wrote? Because he prefixes no inscription, in which, if at all, the name would have been mentioned. The ardour of his spirit carries aim directly upon his subject, (just like St. John in his First Epistle,) and throws back his usual salutation and thanksgiving to the conclusion. This epistle of St. Paul, and both those of St. Peter, (one may add, that of St. James and of St. Jude also,) were written both to the same persons, dispersed through Pontus, Galatia, and other countries, and nearly at the same time. St. Paul suffered at Rome, three years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore this epistle likewise, was written while the temple was standing. St. Peter wrote a little before his martyrdom, and refers to the epistles of St. Paul; this in particular. The scope of it is, to confirm their faith in Christ; and this he does by demonstrating his glory. All the parts of it are full of the most earnest and pointed admonitions and exhortations; and they go on in one tenor, the particle therefore everywhere connecting the doctrine and the use.

Biblical Evidence

The Bible tells us a lot about the author of Hebrews.  We know that he was a partner with Timothy (Hebrews 13:23). Paul is the only person known to partner with Timothy (Romans 16:21, Acts 16:1-3, Acts 17:15, Acts 20:4, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2 and Philemon 1:1).

The writer was also writing from Italy (Hebrews 13:24). Paul was in prison in Rome and could have written this letter at this time (Acts 28:16, Hebrews 10:34). We know that Hebrews was written when Paul was still alive. It would have been written before 70 AD because the Jewish Temple still existed because sacrifices were still taking place as seen in Hebrews 5:1-4, Hebrews 7:21-28, Hebrews 8:3-5, Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 9:6-13, Hebrews 9:25 and Hebrews 10:1-11.

Hebrews 13:25 closes the letter by saying "Grace be with you all. Amen." This is the similar phrase Paul uses in Romans 16:24, 1 Corinthians 16:23, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23, Colossians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:18, 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 4:22, Titus 3:15 and Philemon 1:25.

Finally, who better to write Hebrews other than Paul who is a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5)? It was shown he had a history of reaching out to the Jews in Romans 1:16, Romans 9:3 and Acts 17: 1-2. Why would Paul leave his name off the epistle? Possibly because he was hated by the Jewish nation because he turned from his Pharisaical roots or because he was not the apostle to the Jews but instead the Gentiles. It is also worth pointing out 2 Peter 3:15-16. Peter wrote to the Jews. In 2 Peter 3:15 Peter mentions Paul writing to them. If this is indeed Jews Peter is writing to the letter referred to that Paul wrote is probably Hebrews.

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