Who Wrote Hebrews?

Introduction

Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews

The epistle of Hebrews was written to demonstrate to Jews that as great as the Mosaic Law was, as great as the Temple was, as great as the Levitical sacrifices were, Christ was superior (Hebrews 1.1-3, 4-2.18, 3.1-4.13, 4.14-10.18, 10.19-12.29). It revealed that Judaism based upon the Mosaic Law, Levitical sacrifices, etc. was over. Reality, in the person and work of Christ, replaced the shadows, symbols, and types of the Law and Prophets (Luke 24.25-32; Romans 15.4, 8). The Messiah had come and finished the work of salvation to which the Law and Prophets had pointed (John 19.30). Only through Him was salvation possible.

Authorship

A controversial but tantalizing question throughout church history has been the letter’s authorship. Several personages have been identified as possible authors. They include Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, Luke, James, Clement of Rome, Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul. For most of church history, Paul was the leading contender. But Paul has fallen into disfavor and modern scholarship has all but dismissed him as the book’s author.1 Anyone but Paul has become de rigueur and chic among professional theologians. This study will examine and weigh the objections to and evidence for Pauline authorship of Hebrews.

Arguments Against Pauline Authorship

Five major objections exist to Pauline authorship:2

  1. The letter is anonymous which is contrary to Paul’s practice in his other letters.
  2. The writing style is dramatically better than Paul.
  3. The logical development is much more tightly woven than is Paul’s.
  4. Spiritual eyewitnesses are appealed to (Hebrews 2.3) while Paul insisted on no intermediaries for his gospel (Galatians 1.12).
  5. Timothy’s imprisonment (Hebrews 13.23) does not seem to fit within Paul’s lifetime since he is mentioned in Acts and Paul’s letters as a free man.

Consideration of Pauline Objections

1. Anonymity

Paul’s practice was to identify himself by name in his letters and Hebrews does not contain Paul’s name. To whom did Paul write? His primary audience of his epistles was Gentiles as he was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). The audience of Hebrews was Jews. But throughout Acts, we read Paul went to Jews first and then turned to Gentiles when they rejected Christ (Acts 13, 18, 28). The Lord had revealed to Paul that the Jews would not receive his message (Acts 22.17-18). But Paul, because of his love for his people, continued to try and evangelize them. Despite the fact the Holy Spirit had revealed trouble awaited him in Jerusalem, he was determined to preach to them (Acts 20.22-23, 21.4, 10-13).

Paul had a strong personality. This is clear from the record of Acts and his letters. Despite Paul’s conversion, his personality did not change and God used his zeal for His purposes. Paul loved his nation and his people. He must have asked himself thousands of times how he could have been so blind. He knew the Law and the Prophets inside and out. He had been taught by one of the greatest of Israel’s rabbis. He had been recognized as a rising star among the Pharisees. Despite all this, he had failed miserably. That he had been unable to recognize the Messiah must have stunned him. How could he, with all his education, with all his brilliance, have missed the One to whom the whole Law and the prophets pointed? But God, in His matchless grace saved Paul. Paul was convinced that if he, who had been so blind, could be changed, his nation could also. With this motivation, he persisted in evangelizing Jews. But his personal experience confirmed the Lord’s words. They steadfastly rebuffed his message of salvation, even to the point of trying to kill him. Paul’s efforts resulted in his imprisonment in Rome, which is where he is at the end of Acts.3 Jewish opposition to Paul was a reasonable explanation for not identifying himself by name as the letter’s author. Such explanation was recognized by Eusebius (c. 263-339 A.D.) who gave the following account of Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 A.D.):

1. To sum up briefly, he has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books,—I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter. 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. 3. But he says that the words, Paul the Apostle, were probably not prefixed, because, in sending it to the Hebrews, who were prejudiced and suspicious of him, he wisely did not wish to repel them at the very beginning by giving his name. 4. Farther on he says: But now, as the blessed presbyter said, since the Lord being the apostle of the Almighty, was sent to the Hebrews, Paul, as sent to the Gentiles, on account of his modesty did not subscribe himself an apostle of the Hebrews, through respect for the Lord, and because being a herald and apostle of the Gentiles he wrote to the Hebrews out of his superabundance (Eusebius, Church History 6.14.1-4).

Eta Linnemann responded to Donald Guthrie’s assertion that anonymity did not conform to Pauline style and stated: “The truth is, anonymity is not a question of style but of necessity. Whoever writes anonymously has grounds for so doing” (italics hers) and that no one who denies Hebrews to Paul has given a reason why other proposed authors wrote it anonymously.4 Such analysis lends great weight to Pauline authorship. Who besides Paul would wish to remain anonymous?

2. Writing Style

Early in Church history scholars recognized the writing style of Hebrews was different from Paul’s epistles. Origen (c. 184-253 A.D.) wrote, “Whoever wrote the epistle, God only knows for sure.” Opponents of Pauline authorship use Origen’s statement to support their case. Removed from its context, the statement is a half-truth. Eusebius preserved Origen’s complete statement which reads as follows:

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’ (2 Corinthians 11:6) 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. (Eusebius, Church History6.25.11-14).

These words indicate Origen believed Paul authored Hebrews but was composed by another. The nature of Origen’s doubt was style and composition, not substance. Origen consistently ascribed authorship to Paul in his writings, e.g., De Principiis, Against Celsus, To Africanus.5

Eusebius himself wrote:

Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul. But what has been said concerning this epistle by those who lived before our time I shall quote in the proper place. In regard to the so-called Acts of Paul, I have not found them among the undisputed writings. (Eusebius, Church History 3.3.5)

For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews in the language of his country; some say that the evangelist Luke, others that Clement, translated the epistle. (Eusebius, Church History 3.38.2-3)

Paul’s letters of Romans to Philemon number thirteen. Hebrews makes fourteen. Could Luke have collaborated with Paul in writing Hebrews? It is reasonable since he was Paul’s constant traveling companion, was familiar with Paul’s messages to the Jews (serving as Paul’s personal historian as well as his personal physician), was Jewish, and was with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome. David L. Allen recently argued for Lukan authorship of Hebrews, and Dave Black has argued Luke was Paul’s penman, as have Andrew W. Pitts and Joshua F. Walker.6

3. Logical Development

The objection that “the logical development is much more tightly woven than is Paul’s” is an interesting one. The primary issues of any writing involve purpose and audience. Paul’s letters of Romans through Philemon addressed Christian (mostly Gentile) congregations to instruct, encourage, and correct. Hebrews addresses Jews, who may or may not have been believers, to demonstrate the choice before them was now Christ or nothing. The fulfillment of the Mosaic Law had come in the person of the Messiah and the administration of the Law was over.

Perhaps the greatest question for those who make this objection is whether they think Romans is inferior in logical development to Hebrews and a corollary question is whether they think Paul could not construct a tightly woven logical argument. Paul had been taught and trained by the greatest rabbi of his day, Gamaliel. He had been a star student. He had reasoned with and preached to Jews throughout his ministry. Acts ends with Paul’s meeting with the Jewish leaders in Rome, which occurred only a few days after he arrived. Luke recorded he “was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening (Acts 28.23).” Paul had a great deal of time to construct, develop, and practice his arguments (cf. Acts 13.14-43, 18.4-6). Is not Luke’s record of Paul’s words to the Jews in Pisidia Antioch, Corinth, and Rome the argument of Hebrews?

Consider the following passages from Acts:

“Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it. 18 For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness. 19 When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance—all of which took about four hundred and fifty years. 20 After these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, 24 after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him28 And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead; 31 and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. 32 And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’ 34 As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. 40 Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you41 ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’”

42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God (Acts 13.16-43).

In the passage above, Paul addressed the Jews in Antioch Pisidia in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Was this a tightly woven logical argument? Particular attention should be paid to verses 38-41. Again, is this not the argument of Hebrews?

Luke, Paul’s doctor, companion, and fellow-prisoner, recorded Paul’s interaction with the Jews immediately following his arrival in Rome in Acts 28.23-27:

23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. 25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,

‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 27 For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”’

The burden of proof of this objection rests upon those who reject Pauline authorship. In order for the objection to be valid, opponents of Pauline authorship must demonstrate at least two things: 1) Romans is inferior in logical development to Hebrews, and 2) Paul could not form a tightly woven logical argument in light of the arguments he made in Acts to the Jews. Good luck.

4. Spiritual Eyewitnesses

Another major argument against Pauline authorship has been Hebrews 2.3. The passage reads:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from itFor if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2.1-4).

Those who make the argument maintain the passage means the writer claimed he learned the gospel from those who heard Jesus directly and this is contrary to Paul’s statement of having received the gospel directly from the ascended Lord (Galatians 1.11-12; cf. Ephesians 3.3). For example, Paul Ellingworth in his The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text wrote:

The single most striking piece of internal evidence against Pauline authorship of Hebrews is the author’s explicit statement that the message which began with Jesus ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη (2:3); in other words, that the author and his readers received the gospel indirectly.7

Is this what the text reads? My intent is not to exegete the passage but to make two points:

  1. The first point is the passage states the message of salvation “was confirmed to us by those who heard” (ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη). Presumably, “those who heard” referred to the Twelve and/or those who witnessed Jesus’ earthly ministry. The “us” is not Paul but the Jews. Thus, the sense of the verse is the following: “After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us [Jews] by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” The word βεβαιόω means “confirmed.” It does not mean “learned” or “received.” How anyone derives learned or received from βεβαιόω is incomprehensible. The word βεβαιόω is used 8x in the New Testament (Mark 16.20; Romans 15.8, 1 Corinthians 1.6, 8; 2 Corinthians 1.21; Colossians 2.7; Hebrews 2.3, 13.9). Note the passages where it is found and specifically who used the term.
  2. The second point is that those who make this objection assume the message of salvation of the Twelve was the same message of salvation of Paul. Such a view has no Scriptural support. The Twelve preached the “gospel of the kingdom.” Salvation according to the gospel of the kingdom was faith in the identity of Christ (John 3.18; Acts 2.21, 38, 3.6, 16, 4.7, 10, 12, 17-18, 30, 5.28, 40-41), who He was (Matthew 16.15-17; John 11.25-27; Acts 8.37), the Messiah, the Son of God. Paul did not preach the gospel of the kingdom after he returned from Arabia. He preached the “gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s gospel was based, not upon the identity of Christ, but upon the work of Christ: that He died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). These were two different gospels. Both were valid from the time Paul received his gospel (Galatians 1.12), presumably during his three years in Arabia and Damascus, until the Jerusalem Council, in 51 A.D. At the end of that Council, only one gospel remained: Paul’s gospel (Acts 15.11, cf. Galatians 1.7-9).8

5. Timothy’s Imprisonment

Hebrews 13.22-24, reads:

22 But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. 24 Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

This objection to Pauline authorship is the claim that no record exists of Timothy being in prison from Acts or Paul’s epistles. Therefore, it is reasoned, the writer was not Paul.

Paul’s letters reveal others were confined with him in Rome. Aristarchus and Epaphras were with him (Colossians 4.10; Philemon 1.23) as was Luke (Colossians 4.14; Philemon 1.24). Evidently, Timothy was also (Colossians 1.1; Philemon 1.1; Philippians 1.1, 2.19). From Philippians 2.19-24, we can conclude Timothy was released before Paul. Thus, the statement, “Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly” (Hebrews 13.23) confirms the Philippian passage.

Additional Arguments For Pauline Authorship

1. Peter’s Support of Pauline Authorship

Peter wrote the following shortly before his death:

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3.14-16).

Peter’s ministered to Jews, not Gentiles (Acts 2.22, 36, 3. 12, 25; Galatians 2.7-9; 1 Peter 1.1) while Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles (Romans 11.13; Galatians 2.7-9). In the passage above, Peter wrote Jewish believers about Paul’s having written to them. What letter did Paul write to Jews? Two possibilities exist: 1) An unknown, lost letter, or 2) Hebrews.

Peter seems to have had access to Paul’s writings even though he had little contact with him. He confessed he found some of Paul’s teachings difficult. These teachings were Paul’s secrets (μυστήριον, Romans  11.25, 16.25; 1 Corinthians 2.7, 4.1, 13.2, 14.2, 15.51; Ephesians 1.9, 3.3-4, 9, 5.32, 6.19; Colossians 1.26-27, 2.2, 4.3; 2 Thessalonians 2.7; 1 Timothy 3.9, 16).9 Paul’s secrets included his doctrine of the Church as the “body of Christ,” the Rapture, the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the believer’s heavenly citizenship, the temporary blinding of Israel, and salvation by faith alone. Jesus had taught none of these things in His earthly ministry. Nor had He revealed them to the Twelve. These unknown truths, these secrets, He revealed to Paul alone.

Another important point of this passage is that by the time Peter wrote 2 Peter, i.e., 68 A.D., Paul’s letters were recognized as Scripture. Peter’s statement, “as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (ὡς καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς) recognized Paul’s writings had the same God-breathed (θεόπνευστος) authority as the Old Testament scriptures.10

Paul wrote the following to the Colossians:

Colossians 1.24-27
24 Νῦν χαίρω ἐν τοῖς παθήμασιν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, καὶ ἀνταναπληρῶ τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου ὑπὲρ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, ὅ ἐστιν ἡ ἐκκλησία, 25 ἧς ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ διάκονος κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, 26 τὸ μυστήριον τὸ ἀποκεκρυμμένον ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν νῦν δὲ ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ, 27 οἷς ἠθέλησεν ὁ θεὸς γνωρίσαι τί τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τοῦ μυστηρίου τούτου ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης,

24 Now, I rejoice in sufferings for you, and I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church; 25 of which I became minister, according to the administration of God given to me for you to complete the word of God, 26 the secret having been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been made manifest to His saints; 27 to whom God willed to make known what [is] the wealth of the glory of this secret among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory:

In verse 25, Paul wrote God had given him the task of completing the Word of God (πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ). Its completion included the Lord’s revelation of teachings He had kept secret, which included the indwelling Christ in believers. Since Paul’s writings completed the Scriptures, it means John’s writings were written before Paul’s and that Paul had the last word from God to the human race. Peter, in concert with Paul, recognized Paul’s letters completed the canon. Thus, the canon of Scripture was completed with 2 Timothy, about 68 A.D.

Lastly, particularly in light of Peter’s recognition that Paul’s letters completed the Word of God, he directed Jewish believers to heed Paul. At the end of his life he did not refer them to James, John, Jude, or the gospels. He told them to heed Paul. Such direction would make sense only if Paul wrote Hebrews and that Peter recognized Paul’s writings completed the Scriptures.

2. Salutation

Paul wrote the following words to the Thessalonians:

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3.17-18).

Paul wrote the above because the Thessalonians had received a letter purportedly from him that the Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) had come (2 Thessalonians 2.1-2). This upset them because Paul had taught them previously that Christ would deliver them, i.e., remove them from the earth before this event (1 Thessalonians 1.9-10, 4.13-18, 5.9-11). To foil further forgeries, Paul included a “grace” statement at the beginning and end of his letters written by his own hand. Paul normally dictated his letters but he included his “grace” statements as a sample of his handwriting for a “sign” or “token” (σημεῖον) of his authorship (cf. 1 Corinthians 16.21; Colossians 4.18).

Paul’s Epistles: Grace Salutations
Romans 1.7, 16.20, 24Philippians 1.2, 4.232 Timothy 1.2, 4.22
1 Corinthians 1.3, 16.23Colossians 1.2, 4.18Titus 1.4, 3.15
2 Corinthians 1.2, 13.141 Thessalonians 1.1, 5.28Philemon 1.3, 1.25
Galatians 1.13, 6.182 Thessalonians 1.2, 3.18and
Ephesians 1.2, 6.241 Timothy 1.2, 6.21Hebrews 13.25

For our purposes, what is notable is that Paul’s “grace” greeting acted as a “check digit” in a barcode that ensured the letter’s authenticity. Since Hebrews 13.25 included this “check digit,” Paul’s σημεῖον, we have further evidence of Paul’s authorship of Hebrews.

3. Hebrews Location in the Canon

W. H. P. Hatch summed up the evidence as follows:

In the manuscripts and versions of the New Testament, in lists of books accepted as canonical, and in the works of ecclesiastical writers the Epistle to the Hebrews occupies three different positions: (I) Among the epistles addressed to churches, i.e. after Romans, after 2 Corinthians, and very rarely after Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Titus. (II) After 2 Thessalonians, i.e. after the epistles to the churches. (III) After Philemon, i.e. at the end of the  Pauline canon.11

P46

 A folio page of P46

\mathfrak{P}46, one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts on papyrus, and dated about 200 A.D., contains most of the Pauline epistles. It contains (in order) the last eight chapters of Romans, all of Hebrews, almost all of 1–2 Corinthians, all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians.

The main points are two:

1. Hebrews is found in the earliest manuscripts of the Pauline corpus.
2. Hebrews is located in various places in the canon but always in the Pauline corpus.

4. Audience, Purpose, and Date of the Letter

Hebrews was written from Italy (Hebrews 13.24). While the author did not state his name, he assumed his audience knew him (Hebrews 10.32-34, 13.19, 22-23). Galatians was written to Gentiles and Hebrews was written to Jews but they shared a common purpose. The message of both was that hope no longer existed in the Mosaic Law or in the ministrations of the Temple, i.e. the Levitical sacrifices.

The letter was sent most likely to the assembly in Jerusalem. Paul was persona non grata in Jerusalem and this would explain anonymity. Jerusalem was the center of Law-keeping Jews. Even though the Jewish leaders had reached an agreement with Paul at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), they continued to advance the Mosaic Law. When Paul came to Jerusalem, James revealed in the Mosaic Law (Acts 21.17-21). This demonstrates he had little understanding of or sympathy with Paul’s ministry. Peter also had difficulties with Paul but recognized the glorified Lord had revealed to Paul, truths He had not shown the Twelve. He recognized and acknowledged Paul was the future and instructed his Jewish readers to heed him (2 Peter 3.15-16 cf. Acts 15.11). The jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law was over. Paul had argued vigorously that Gentiles were free from it, but more than that, the Law had ended for Jews also. Paul wrote Hebrews to explain to Jews the Law’s meaning and significance in light of God’s work of the cross. The issue was Christ’s death and resurrection, not Law.

Another possibility is that Hebrews was written to assemblies in Asia Minor. Sadly, despite Paul’s tireless work in this region, i.e., Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidia, the established churches abandoned his teachings (2 Timothy 1.15). In light Paul’s letter to the Galatians, it seems likely (influenced by the Jerusalem assembly) they left Paul’s teachings and followed the Law-keeping Jews of Jerusalem.

Defection from Paul’s doctrines began in his lifetime and has continued for nearly 2,000 years. The doctrines of the Twelve and Paul have been merged and homogenized into a syncretic mess. Paul has been read into the gospels and the gospels into Paul. The vast majority of Christendom spends most of its time in the gospels. The Twelve are viewed as apostles of the Church instead of Paul, the apostle of the Church, the body of Christ. But the Scriptures reveal the Twelve were apostles of Israel (cf. Matthew 19.28) not the Church. They had nothing to do with the Church. The Lord committed the great doctrines of the Church, the body of Christ, to Paul alone. Paul called these doctrines “secrets.” The Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles. That was the domain the risen Lord gave Paul. Since most of Christendom spends 90% of its time in the gospels, it remains ignorant of Paul’s great truths for the Church. This explains the Church’s confusion and weakness. While the gospels are beneficial, as is all Scripture (2 Timothy 3.16), for learning (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11), the gospels are Old Testament. They were written to Jews for Jews. They recorded the Lord’s ministry to Israel (Romans 15.8), not to the Church, the body of Christ.

Paul probably wrote Hebrews early in his Roman imprisonment (60 A.D.)12 before he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. During this period Paul was relieved from the stress of travel and the trials of his journeys. He had time to reflect and write on his recent encounters with the Jews, which had led to his imprisonment. After he arrived in Rome, only three days passed before he met with the chief Jews of the city (Acts 28.17). According to Luke’s record, some believed Paul’s message and some rejected it (Acts 28.24). This was Paul’s third major appeal to the Jews (cf. Acts 13, 18, 28) during the Acts period. Is it not reasonable, given Paul’s history of evangelism to Jews, his determination to go to Jerusalem despite dire warnings, and the fact he had time, for him to have written a systematic exposition to demonstrate to Jews that Christ had fulfilled the Law and the Old Testament types? Was anyone better equipped for such a task?

4. Literary Similarities

We have already examined the salutation correspondences of Paul’s letters to Gentile churches, i.e., Romans through Philemon, to Hebrews. Other indicators of Pauline authorship include his usage of Habakkuk 2.4, quoted three times in the New Testament: Romans 1.17, Galatians 3.11, and Hebrews 10.38. Such quotation fits with Paul’s great emphasis on faith (Romans 3.26-30, 4.3-5, 5.1; Galatians 2.16, Ephesians 2.8-9, et. al. cf. Hebrews 4.2, 6.1, 12, 10.22, 38-39, 11.1-9, 11, 13, 17, 20-24, 27-31, 33, 39, 12.2, 13.7). Paul exalted Christ over all created beings (Ephesians 1.10, 20, 4.10; Philippians 2.9-10; Colossians 1.14-21; 2 Thessalonians 1.7 cf. Hebrews 1.1-14, 4.14, 7.26, 8.1). Other themes expounded in Hebrews include heavenly calling (1 Corinthians 15.49; 2 Corinthians 5.1-2; Ephesians 1.3, 2.6; Philippians 3.20; 2 Timothy 4.18 cf. Hebrews 3.1, 11.16, 12.22),13 and the temporary nature of the Mosaic Law (2 Corinthians 3.6-18; Galatians 3.19-26 cf. Hebrews 7.18-19, 8.3-10.13). Expressions such as “but now” (νυν[ὶ] δὲ) are found throughout Paul’s writings and in Hebrews (Hebrews 2.8, 8.6, 9.26, 11.16, 12.26).14 Lastly, no other writer wrote about the body of Christ. It is uniquely Paul. It is found in his others letters. And it is found in Hebrews 13.3.

Conclusion

This is where I need write: Game Over. Arguments against Pauline authorship of Hebrews are sickly and feeble. Arguments for alternative authors have all the weaknesses and none of the strengths of Pauline authorship and only highly speculative arguments can be made for non-Paul authors. That modern scholarship has hungrily seized such arguments demonstrates infirmity, not health.

Evidence for Pauline authorship of Hebrews is more than substantial: it is overwhelming. The most reasonable explanation, recognized early in Church history, is Paul wrote Hebrews. When the internal evidence is examined, it overcomes easily issues of style. It is possible Luke worked with Paul and penned it but that is the only thing in doubt. Paul wrote Hebrews.

1 Echoing the hubris of recent scholarship, Dan Wallace stated in Hebrews: Introduction, Argument, and Outline, “the arguments against Pauline authorship, however, are conclusive.” In the same work, he stated authorship of Hebrews was “explicitly denied by Origen, the successor to Clement, who uttered his now-famous agnostic confession: ‘Whoever wrote the epistle, God only knows for sure.’” Dr. Wallace fails to recognize Origen’s words expressed uncertainty, not denial. Such a statement creates doubt as to his having read Origen.
2 Ibid.
3 Paul, like most of us, learned some lessons the hard way. The Jews wished (and tried) to kill him. They failed, but their persecution resulted in his imprisonment. Paul wrote he was “the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3.1). The Lord Himself put Paul In prison (in rented quarters, not a dungeon) to focus his attention upon his commission, “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). After this experience, Paul no longer went to Jew “first” (cf. Romans 1.16).
Eta Linnemann, “A Call for a Retrial in the Case of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” Faith and Mission, vol. 19, Issue 2, 2002, p.37. Professor Linneman’s article is essential reading for those who doubt Pauline authorship. She takes to task many arguments advanced against Pauline authorship and largely demolishes them. Another excellent study that addresses literary and theological similarities between Galatians and Hebrews is Ben Witherington’s article, “The Influence of Galatians on Hebrews,” New Testament Studies, vol. 37, no. 1, January 1991, 146-152.
5 See What Origen really taught about the authorship of Hebrews by Benno Zuiddam.
6 See David L. Allen, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, B & H Academic, 2010.; Dave Black, Origen on the Authorship of Hebrews; Andrew W. Pitts and Joshua F. Walker, The Authorship of Hebrews: A Further Development in the Luke-Paul Relationship.
7 Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Eerdmans, 1993, p. 7.
8 See the author’s study, The Great Hinge.
9 See the author’s study, Paul’s “Mystery”.
10 See the author’s study, Inspiration of Scripture.
11 William H. P. Hatch, “The Position of Hebrews in the Canon of the New Testament,” The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Apr., 1936), pp. 133. Professor Hatch’s work is the definitive study of this subject. F.F. Bruce noted that the Chester Beatty collection of manuscripts, the “oldest known surviving copy of the Pauline letters” (dated end of the second century), includes Hebrews among the Pauline writings (F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000], 466).
12 Internal evidence of the letter eliminates the possibility it was written after 70 A.D. The Temple and its operations were clearly continuing. Furthermore, given the subject matter of the letter, had the Temple been destroyed it could not have escaped mention. See John A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, London, SCM Press, 1976. Robinson was a liberal theologian who recognized that evidence to support the chronological arguments of liberal theologians in dating New Testament texts was threadbare. His book stunned the scholarly community because he dated all New Testament books before 70 A.D.–earlier than most conservative scholars. Paul’s statement in Hebrews 13.24, “those from Italy greet you” is evidence he wrote from Rome during his imprisonment as did his request for prayer for restoration in Hebrews 13.18-19. Paul wrote he was made a minister to complete the Scriptures (Colossians 1.25). This eliminates potential authors of Hebrews beyond c. 68 A.D., e.g., Clement of Rome.
13 One of Paul’s great secrets was that the Church, the body of Christ, was a new creation with a heavenly destiny. Israel’s hope was earthly. This is what all the covenants and Old Testament prophecies proclaimed. Thus, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for the kingdom to come, “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6.10). Nothing in the Old Testament or in Jesus’ ministry revealed a heavenly destiny for Jewish believers. Heavenly citizenship was an unknown truth until the risen Lord disclosed it to Paul. Paul used the term ἐπουράνιος to describe the believer’s heavenly destiny and relationship. It occurs 23x in 17 verses (John 3.12, 1 Corinthians 15.40, 48-49; Ephesians 1.3, 20, 2.6, 3.10, 6.12, Philippians 2.10, 2 Timothy 4.18; Hebrews 3.1, 6.4, 8.5, 9.23, 11.16, 12.22). Other than the one occurrence in John, it occurred only in Paul’s letters and Hebrews.
14 See the author’s study, But Now….

©2013 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, May 6, 2016


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72 Responses to Who Wrote Hebrews?

  1. I have never studied out the authorship of Hebrews very closely, I am not disagreeing with you. But this has popped to mind and I was wondering if you had anything to say about it.

    Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

    Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

    How could Paul teach that the law had just changed to one group, but tell one group that they were not under the law at all. Wouldn’t Paul be the only one in the Bible that wrote different letters to different people under different dispensations? Any thoughts?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Hoss,
      The argument in Hebrews you have noted supports Pauline authorship. The argument is that the priesthood established and governed by the Mosaic Law could not meet the requirements to remove sin. It could deal with the problem only in a temporary fashion. Jesus was of Judah, not Levi, and was a priest of the line of Melchizedek. Who else but Paul could have made this argument? The Twelve and those of the Jerusalem church were completely attached to the Mosaic Law. Only Paul taught the Mosaic Law was over. This agrees with the argument in Hebrews (Hebrews 7.18-19, 28). The “change of law” was change in the sense of abandonment or nullification of the existing program (Mosaic Law) for a new program under a new covenant. This is what the verb μετατίθημι and the noun μετάθεσις mean.

  2. Rob Klein says:

    Don,

    Finished reading this yesterday. Well done; and it makes sense.

    [I wanted to point out software glitch. Where you are quoting Eusebius talking about Clement of Alexandria early in the article, there are four points (as I remember). At the end of the second point there is a link for the book of Acts. Then the third point begins. The link reads “Acts. 3.” I think it will make sense when you look at it. Anyway, I point it out because it was confusing when I read it].

    Thanks again for your research.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thanks, Rob. The software tool links to all Bible passages. Unfortunately, I cannot “delink” it for a particular passage. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Jacksom says:

    From the salutations in all Paul’s letters, the beginning chapters all had his usual salutations but Hebrews does not, salutations l believe should be in the beginning of a letter, how do you relate this to Hebrews?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jacksom,
      I do not think Paul wanted to declare his authorship explicitly to the Jews by his usual salutation. The Lord had told him the Jews would not listen to him (Acts 22.18) and this was proven (Acts 13, 18, 28). However, he does close the letter with “grace be with you all” which was also his signature.

  4. Jacksom says:

    Paul said in 2 thess3 vs17, that he will use his usual salutation in ALL his letters, but it wasn’t used in Hebrews like in the other 13 letters, how do you explain that, again in gal 2vs 7-9, where Paul was to take the gospel to the Gentiles and they James, John, and cep has unto the Jews, how do you relate that he wrote to the Jews in Hebrews?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jacksom,
      Read Acts 9.15. Paul’s habit was to go first to Jews then to Gentiles (cf. Acts 13, 18, 28). He wrote Hebrews prior to Acts 28.

      • Jacksom says:

        You still didn’t relate Paul first preaching to the Jews then to the Gentiles to gal2 vs 7-9.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Jacksom,
          Paul’s primary audience was Gentile. We know he also went to Jews based on Luke’s record and this accords with what the Lord told Ananias in Acts 9.15. Paul seems to have ceased Jewish ministry around 60 A.D. No record exists of the 12 ministering to Gentiles.

  5. Jacksom says:

    Did Paul still minister to the Jews after the acts 15, the council at Jerusalem.?

  6. Jacksom says:

    If Paul ceased to minister to the Jewish ministry around 60 A.D, how do you relate that he wrote to Jews in Hebrew, if the Hebrew was written approximately 67A.D,

  7. Becky says:

    Hi Don, I had a thought today about Hebrews 11:1. It gives the definition of “faith. I racked my old brain trying to remember if there was anywhere else in Scripture that defines faith. Then I wondered if the definition itself was considered a mystery. I found one verse that speaks of “the mystery of the faith,” I Tim 3:9. I then searched “the faith” and was amazed at how many times “the faith” is mentioned. I thought, What is “the faith”? I can assume i know the answer, even via Scripture, but “the faith” means a lot of things to a lot of people. I plan on looking into this more.
    I did learn today that other than Jesus in Mark and John in Revelation, Paul is the only person who used the word “mystery” or “mysteries.” Is that correct? My point is that without Heb 11:1, we really wouldnt know the actual definition of faith. Just sounds like a Paul thing to me. I remembered that you had this study on Who wrote Hebrews? so i thought maybe this is something you have thought about. Could it be that the definition of “faith,” Heb 11:1, was one of Paul’s “secrets”? Again, I just couldn’t find or remember anywhere else in Scripture where faith is defined.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      “The faith” must be interpreted in context, e.g. Acts 6.7. Prior to Paul it was believing who Jesus was. For Paul, it was the work of Christ. Paul’s gospel was a secret but the gospel of the 12 was not. It had been preached by John the Baptist and Jesus. The definition of faith in Hebrews 11.1 is the best in Scripture.

  8. George says:

    Hi Bro Don,

    I too believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, but the question I ask myself is Hebrews written for Jews in the tribulation, where an individual can lose their salvation before inheriting the millennial kingdom of God and heaven. I can see Paul, getting saved under the kingdom gospel, immediately preaching hebrews but it is hard for me to see Paul preaching Hebrews after he receives the revelation of the mystery of the body of Christ. Which gospel was Paul preaching in those synagogues?
    Also I asked a question regarding whether Luke was part of the body of Christ or part of the Jewish remnant- little flock as were the apostles? I can’t seem to find in which article I asked you that question, sorry for that :( By answering these two questions maybe I can get a better grasp on understanding Hebrews dispensationally, thanks again for your wisdom and patience..,

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Paul ministered to Jews until about 60 A.D. which is when Acts ends. Hebrews sums and adds to what he taught in Acts 13, 18, and 28. I do not know about Luke’s status.

  9. George says:

    Ok Bro Don, when you say he ministered to Jews, which gospel was he preaching to them? Was Paul preaching to them -step1- the kingdom gospel in order to identify their messiah and then step 2 – for the Jews that believed in the synagogues that Paul went to, took these believers out and brought them into the body of Christ gospel, perhaps that is what he did with Luke?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4). We are given too little information to know specifically the content of his messages but it seems he focused particularly on the OT Scriptures in speaking to Jews. His challenge was to convince them Jesus was the prophesied Messiah.

  10. Kim N. says:

    To those who say Paul DID NOT write the epistle to the Hebrews (some of my bible teachers in college were in this group) I respect their opinion but I would say to them the epistle was written by a man of brilliant intellect and deep spirituality whose former name was Saul of Tarsus, who else can write this great epistle?

    Romans moves from law to grace and Hebrews, from shadow to substance. The grace salutations are enough to attest to the authorship of this epistle. I have always admired the apostle to the Gentile and rank him second only to Jesus Christ, the Head and Lord of the church.

    Don, thank you so much for this great article and teaching me many truths of the sacred Scriptures. May God bless you with good health and peace.

  11. Jacksom says:

    In hebrews2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began by the lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him,
    My question is what is great salvation in this verse.
    2. Who are the US. it was confirmed unto.
    3. And who are the them that heard him.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jacksom,
      The salvation is Christ’s death on the cross to pay for our sins. The audience is Jews. Those who heard Him were Jewish believers.

  12. Jacksom says:

    It’s says the salvation was first began by the lord. Did the lord preach the finished cross work in the fresh? And those you heard your Jewish believers apostles, also they preach the finished cross work from the text. From the text the salvation was believing that in the name of Jesus , repent and be baptized, not believe in the finished works of Jesus.

  13. Jacksom says:

    Ok, this clears it, what is the book of Hebrews about. Did it move from gospel of the kingdom to the gospel of grace?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jacksom,
      The message of Hebrews is that the reality of the types in the OT have come in the person of the Son and that the Jews only hope of salvation is in Him. I believe Paul wrote Hebrews in prison just before he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon as his last attempt to reach Jews first (Romans 1.16-17). So yes, it was in the realm of the gospel of grace and we find Jesus’ death and resurrection mentioned but in ways that would be most meaningful to Jews (e.g., Hebrews 1.3, 8, 2.9, 18, 10.12, 12.2, 13.12, 20).

  14. Jacksom says:

    The death and resurrection was mentioned but was the finished works mentioned,

  15. Pierre says:

    Hello Brother Don, has anyone consider Melchisedec? It appears that “Melchizedek’ in the OT is the “human” form (Genesis 14:18) and the “Melchisedec” in the NT would be the Spirit form. (Hebrews 7:3)
    Also in the OT David speaks about Melchizedek in Psalms 110:4 “The LORD has sworn”

    If this is true, Melchisedec; could/would have wrote chapter 1-13:1-21
    And Melchizedek; could/would have wrote chapter 13:22-25 in closing. The reason for the splitting of authors would be, the two respects of “Amen”. I also realize other scriptures have more than one respect of Amen. It appears as spirit/human. {Pure speculation on my part}

    The vast majority of the NT books/letters (not including the gospels) opens with an introduction of the author “just like Hebrews 1:1 God, who at…” YES, GOD! {not shouting, just expressing respect}

    It speaks of him as king of Salem, priest of the most high God & how great he was. Once again, Hebrews 7:3 (but made like unto the Son of God) To put emphasis on the understanding on the word “made”. Scripture never said; Melchisedec was created, formed, begotten or born. Please understand I don’t want to blow this part out of context because of Genesis 1:26, 2:7 & 5:1,2.

    Now some may say this is Jesus but I beg the differ. Hebrews 7:15-17 would clarify this is not Jesus. He didn’t “order” himself.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment on such a wonder topic. God bless!

  16. peter e droubay says:

    anyone who reads in greek will recognize that the greek of Hebrews is MUCH higher and different than in any other NT letter. many quotations of Septuagint, which originated in Alexandria. Apollos was one of the 4 mentioned in 1 corinthians; many respected him and he was such a scholar in the word, and a Jew who visited all the churches, familiar with Paul and Timothy, who received the faith from second generation Christians: this is not Paul; all those mentioned in 1 corinthians wrote scripture in a sense: paul, peter, Jesus, and Apollos; He , not Barnabas was encouraged to visit all the Nt churches; no others were so qualified and would write in high Alexandrian greek style with Septuagint quotations;

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Peter,
      The key problem for Apollos as the author of Hebrews is that no evidence supports it. His name was suggested first by Luther. Internal and external evidence overwhelmingly favors Pauline authorship. I recommend the article by Eta Linnemann which I have cited. She deal with literary, style, linguistics of Hebrews and Paul.

      • Eric says:

        PAUL DID NOT WRITE HEBREWS!

        Note: Hebrews 2:3 “and was confirmed unto us BY THEM that heard him.” ( Think about that statement for a minute )

        Now compare that with Gal 1:12 “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of JESUS CHRIST.”

        PAUL WAS TAUGHT BY CHRIST HIMSELF, NOT BY THEM THAT HEARD HIM

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Eric,
          “Confirmed” and “received” do not mean the same thing. The kingdom gospel was confirmed to Paul by those who heard Him. Not Paul’s gospel!

          • Eric Streff says:

            Well that explains it! Christ taught Paul the gospel of the grace of God but left out the gospel of the kingdom of God. The gospel of the kingdom of God he had to have confirmed unto him by others. Hmmmm, totally makes sense….or does it? At any rate this would be one of those debates that isn’t really profitable.

            I’ll spend some time on your Faith/Works article instead.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Eric,
              Understanding the distinction between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace is profitable. The reason Hebrews 2.3 is used as an argument against Pauline authorship is not only because of poor exegetical work but failure to understand the difference in the ministry of the Twelve and Paul. Far too many teach there has always only been one gospel. Such teaching has created great confusion and has no Scriptural support.

  17. Eric Streff says:

    If the book of Hebrews is only for Jews and not Christians why would the author say in Hebrews 3:1 they were partakers of the heavenly calling?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Eric,
      They were partakers of a heavenly calling. They were called by God. Verse 2 references Moses. What did Gentile believers have to do with Moses? Why cite the experience at Kadesh Barnea (verse 8) if they were not Jews?

      • Grace Receiver says:

        I agree that Hebrews was written to the Jews, but have been hesitant to use the argument that you just did (about Kadesh Barnea). The reason that I say this is because of 1 Cor. 10:1. If Paul is writing to mainly Gentiles in his Corinthian epistle, why does he cite the experience of the Exodus, and go even as far as to call them “our fathers”?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Grace Receiver,
          Paul wrote the Scriptures (OT since the NT did not not exist) were written for our learning (Romans 15.4). In the 1 Corinthians passage you cited, Paul went on to write the same thing in 1 Corinthians 10.11. Jewish believers were evidently among Paul’s converts in the Corinthians church. They would know these Scriptures and relate to them and expound on them to benefit Gentile believers.

          • Eric Streff says:

            Interesting, how the Gentile believers of that day could benefit from those scriptures but today we supposedly can’t.

  18. ALEXANDER TAYLOR says:

    Could you explain why none of the New Testament writters, wrote about the event that happen in A.D. 70 (the destruction of the temple)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Alexander,
      The destruction had not happened. The Scriptures were completed before 70 A.D. Paul completed the Scriptures according to Colossians 1.25 and he died in about 67-68 A.D. The Lord prophesied it in Luke 21.29-24.

  19. Becky says:

    Hi Don,

    I absolutely loved this article. It raised the question as to why the authorship of Hebrews caused controversy? Was it due to whether or not it should be canonized or was there another reason?

    I’m happy it made it into our bible, whoever wrote it . . . I believe it was Paul.

    May the Lord bless you always.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Thank you. I’m glad the article was helpful. I think the primary issue was authorship. The earliest manuscripts (P46) contain Hebrews and it was always within Paul’s letters.

      • Bobbi says:

        That’s an interesting fact! Thank you. Good to know. I read by one historian he thought it written by Barnabas, but the gospel of Barnabas was quite decidedly a heretical work. ( Not my words. )

  20. Kyle says:

    Hey Brother Don,

    I thank God that I have found your website, as I have grown much in the faith from the wisdom you recieved from the Holy Scriptures. I know that all scripture is profitable, but even if Paul wrote this epistle it is not directed to the Body of Christ, right? If it were then a believer’s position in Christ would be in jeopardy, as some argue of the possibility of losing salvation , i.e. Hebrews 6,10. As well if it were directed to the Body then we would be under the New Testament, not solely under dispensation of grace. I do not think you hold the position that we are “New Testament Christians”. This epistle is aimed in trying to persuade Jews that the Old Testament is over and that the New Testament is more excellent, I understand that. It cannot be confused with the Gospel of the Grace of God/ dispensation of grace revealed to Paul first, for the epistle reveals not hidden “secrets/ mysteries” of the church , but rather fulfillments of types and shadows already spoken about by the prophets. I understand that the evidence of this epistle is written by Paul, but I think the epistle should be rightly divided for the Jews for the tribulation. I would greatly apreciate your incite and knowledge on these points. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kyle,
      I am convinced Paul wrote Hebrews, and as the title implies, was written to Jews. The point was to persuade the Jews Jesus was the Christ. This fits with Luke’s record of Paul going to the Jews in Acts. Luke recorded Paul’s reasoning with them throughout the Acts period. The point of Hebrews 6 is not that one can lose salvation but that no salvation exists apart from Christ. For a Jew to reject Him was to “lose” salvation. Read Acts 13 and 28 and see how neatly it meshes with Paul’s arguments in Hebrews. It was not written to the Church, the body of Christ, but is profitable to show how, all along, God had a plan of redemption and that everything in the OT spoke of Him. Grace and peace.

      • Raymond Dierkers says:

        Why is the first word of all 13 epistles Paul? Why would he be so ignorant not to gives reasonable doubt that he wrote Hebrews? He was very descriptive of writing with his own hand. Why and who are any human to declare an author when God is the author of all scripture? God is the first word in Hebrews. A few words Timothy that he calls a son not a brother, and Italy does not declare Paul’s authorship. I am no scholar, by any means. God has preserved his word through thousands of years, and also left the author unknown, so we would rightly divide to receive God’s approval. Heb 2:3-4 is speaking of Pentecost. Saul is first consenting to the death of Steven. In MMLJ they understood not those things. Where is the gospel of the grace of God? The finished work of the cross in Hebrews? Why would Paul not describe the his gospel as he did in 1 Cor 15:1-4? Hebrews is an introduction to the material in the other Hebrew epistles. Gal 2:7-9 … we have the text… even verse and chapter was added after the mid evil days or somewhere in that vicinity. The publishers have corrupted the text. Do you see anywhere where Paul endorses an exact date of any epistle? Do you think that Paul wrote this to both? Jew and gentile. Where are you getting 6OAD? 2:3-4 6:4-5 10:25-26 38,39 – seems strongly to contradict Paul’s gospel that he got personally from Jesus. Why did Jesus allow him to say my gospel? Do you believe that the Body of Christ is positionally in Christ, and blinded Israel is redemptively in Christ? In Christ and the Body of Christ are they the same?

  21. Bobbi says:

    Hi doctrine, just read an interesting article on this very subject. Apparently, using the KJV Authorized version, the word “bonds” Is used 3 times. The word for “bonds” here is used 18 times in the NT and all 18 are either written by Paul or regarding Paul. Another interesting fact, is that the NIV has taken the word “bonds” out of the translations altogether. http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/does-the-king-james-bible-reveal-the-identity-of-the-author-of-the-book-of-hebrews/ this links the article. Is interesting. Just wanted to share that.

  22. Bobbi says:

    I love the language of Hebrews. I know it is written to the Hebrew people but it is a fabulous book. My favorite verses are:
    Hebrews 12:22-24
    “But ye are come unto Mount Sion,
    and unto the city of the living God,
    the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
    To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,
    which are written in heaven,
    and to God the judge of all,
    and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
    And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of the sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
    The picture that paints is just lovely. Anyway, hope that was fun to look into.

  23. Bobbi says:

    I have always thought Paul the author.

  24. Bobbi says:

    Another witness is Matthew McGee. In his article on the 7 churches, he states around the same time for Hebrews to have been written by Paul to the scattered jewish churches. He correlates the audience to perhaps being the same as 2Peter, to the scattered in Asia.(Asia minor then area of Turkey today). He ties both to the AD 60’s when there was great persecution and uses Josephus to tie it in. It was a tremendous time of persecution. http://www.matthewmcgee.org/7church.html

  25. Joe says:

    Is the Gospel of Grace (Resurrection) offered in Hebrews? If not why?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      No. As to why not, I cannot say. When Paul addressed Jews it was always to demonstrate Jesus was the Christ (read Acts 28).

  26. Rob Klein says:

    Don,
    Is it your position that Paul wrote Hebrews immediately after his conversion – when he was still known as Saul – where in Acts 9:20,22 he is preaching Jesus as the Christ (Messiah)? That would seem to be consistent with your previous answer to Joe.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Rob,
      I don’t know. I speculate he wrote it while he was in prison in Rome. Paul continued to try and convince the Jews Jesus was the Christ and this was his final message to the Jewish leadership in Rome in Acts 28.

  27. Marg T. says:

    Hello, Don I was just rereading your “Who Wrote Hebrews?” article, and enjoying it. It refreshes my thinking, which gets a little muddled from hearing opposing arguments. I enjoy and am thankful for your careful, thoughtful, thought-provoking teaching. Thank you, as always. – Anyway, as I came to the spot where there is a picture of the P46 papyrus, I found one little ‘oops’. The very next line reads “Hebrews was written from Italy (Hebrews 13.4)”. Verse 4 is another subject :). You meant (I’m sure) to say verse 24.

  28. Joe says:

    Assuming Paul wrote Hebrews can we say that because of Paul’s love for the Jews his letter was a reaching out to the believers of the Gospel of the Kingdom and his fear they were in Jeopardy? ….Would a Jew at the time of the writing of Hebrews have been ‘anathema’ ( Gal. Chapter 1)if they had not accepted the Gospel of Grace? Hebrews offers no 1 Corinthinans 15:1-4

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Hebrews is essentially a formal exposition of the addresses he gave the Jews in Acts 13, 18, 28. The gospel of the kingdom ended at Acts 15.11 but Paul continued trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Paul specified in Galatians 1 that anyone was accursed who proclaimed a different gospel that he had received (Galatians 1.11-12). Beyond this, I cannot go.

  29. Bobbi says:

    doctrine,
    Another article on this subject. Is interesting Paul said that he signed all His letters and yet this one is not signed, to any who think Paul wrote it.(myself https://forwhatsaiththescriptures.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/who-wrote-hebrews/
    This one is against Pauline authorship.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bobbi,
      I answered most of the objections in the article and am more convinced than ever that Paul wrote Hebrews. Just read an excellent article by Ben Witherington, “The Influence of Galatians on Hebrews,” New Testament Studies, vol. 37, no. 1, January 1991, 146-152 that provides additional evidence of Pauline authorship.

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