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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The author of Hebrews

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Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 708
San Diego


In 11:32 the author indicates he just doesn't have time to tell all he knows of the heroes of faith he mentions.

A pity. I would love to take the time to read more!! Just grateful for what we got!

Tom Cameron

 2014/7/31 22:33Profile

Joined: 2009/12/12
Posts: 592


Who wrote Hebrews? That is a question not easily answered. It has riddled bible scholars since the days of Origen and will likely never find an answer agreed upon by everyone. So from the outset, I will say as Origen ended up concluding that “as to who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows.”

Generally, the popular conception is that Paul was the author, and it is to that opinion that I direct this post. William Hendricksen lists ten reasons in his Survey of the Bible why Paul was not the author. Without ado, here is his argument:

1. Hebrews is anonymous, unlike Paul’s epistles.

2. Hebrews is completely different in form from Paul’s epistles. The latter, with slight variations, follow a certain pattern—salutation followed by thanksgiving (or by doxology and thanksgiving)—which is completely absent in Hebrews.

3. About the last thing Paul would ever say is found in Hebrews 2:3: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard (emphasis added). Paul stressed the fact that he had received his gospel from Christ (Gal. 1:11 ff.; 1 Cor. 9:1 ff. and 15:8 ff).

4. Hebrews is more calm and balanced than the usually deeply emotional style of Paul.

5. Hebrews utilizes literary Koine Greek; Paul mostly employed vernacular Koine Greek.

6. Hebrews contrasts different typologies than those usually used by Paul, such as: antitype vs. type, earthly things vs. heavenly ones; and shadow vs. reality. Paul, on the other hand, favored contrasting things like: faith and works; law and grace; and spirit and flesh.

7. The author of Hebrews quotes the LXX version of the Old Testament; Paul shows no preference for the LXX.

8. Paul loves addressing Jesus as “the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Hebrews author prefers simply calling Him “Jesus” or at most “Jesus Christ.”

9. The characteristically Pauline phrase “in Christ” does not occur in Hebrews.

10. Lastly, Hendricksen claims there are many other differences, including: Paul’s use of the term “faith” vs. the use of it in Hebrews, and Paul’s pointing his readers to imitating him as opposed to the Hebrews author pointing his readers to the Old Testament saints and others.

For me, number three is the most persuasive against Pauline authorship, as Paul was fervently adamant about Jesus giving him his gospel. Calvin also finds this aspect compelling; so toot toot for that. For me, I had never really considered the issue. I admitted we couldn’t authoritatively identify the author Hebrews, but I also always liked the idea of crediting one more epistle to Paul. Consequently, Hendricksen blew my mind with his insights (which are of course not limited to Hendricksen, as evidenced by the link to Calvin’s commentary; he was just the first source I had heard the view from).

Who then is the author? As I said in the opening, only God knows. But several suggestions have been made, including: Apollos, Priscilla, Timothy, Barnabas, Clement of Rome, or Jude, and even Luke. Among these Barnabas and Apollos appear to be the favorites, though that probably depends upon which stream of scholarship is surveyed.

In the end, what does it matter? I think knowing that Paul likely did not write Hebrews serves as another example of one the Bible's many interconnections and of God's word interpreting itself. For me, those kinds of things foster a deeper appreciation for the nuances of the Bible and testify to the one divine mind behind all of Scripture. (alyrtnative theories like apollos linked to at source)


 2014/8/6 12:10Profile

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2007
Joplin, Missouri


When I asked the question, it was not because I thought it had great eternal significance. I was simply interested in knowing if there were others who had looked at the authorship of the book out of interest.

The parallels between Paul's teachings and the teachings of the writer of Hebrews seems to indicate to me that Paul heavily influenced the writer of the letter, but I see some differences that just don't sound as though Paul wrote them. Paul was sent to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it seems to me that a lengthy letter to encourage the Hebrew Christians to stand strong in the faith would be written by another, perhaps Apollos.


 2014/8/8 10:33Profile

Joined: 2008/8/13
Posts: 644


It presents arguments for the authorship of Paul to the book of hebrews.

Let us not forget that the reason why this book was accepted into the canon of the scripture in the early church was the apostolic authority and the divinely inspired authorship of the apostle Paul.

 2014/8/12 4:05Profile

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