WRITER OF HEBREWS

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

Question: Who was the writer of the book of Hebrews?

 

Answer: The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians confirming that a new Age had

begun at Pentecost. Jesus had opened up a new and living way of grace through faith, not by

works of their own. The writer emphasizes that the Jewish system was not being rejected, but an

advanced step in God’s Plan was due, and that everything in the new dispensation had a

correspondence to that of the old, except that it was on a higher plane.

 

Many Bible scholars contend that Hebrews was written sometime between 64 and 66 A.D. It is

one of the finest literary compositions of all time. The writer’s broad knowledge of the Divine

Plan, deep reasoning powers and fine style point him out as being highly educated; however, the

fact that his name is not provided has caused general disagreement as to his identity, especially

in modern times.

 

While the Apostle Paul has traditionally been regarded as the writer, many other individuals have

been suggested, chiefly Apollos, Barnabas, Silas and Luke.

 

Martin Luther was the first one to suggest Apollos as the writer. He was a Jewish Christian

possessing a notable intellect and great oratorical skills. Acts 18: 24 refers to Apollos as “an

eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures.” He was associated with Paul in the early years of

the church in Corinth. Apollos’ reputation as an eloquent speaker makes him a suitable

candidate, but lack of historical evidence or mention of him as the writer in early church

tradition work against him.

 

Barnabas and Silas were both leaders in the Jerusalem church. Barnabas was also a Levite,

which would have made him familiar with the Levitical ritual cited in Hebrews. But as with

Apollos, there is a lack of both historical evidence and mention of either of them in church

tradition as being the writer.

 

From some standpoints Luke is a good candidate, but the main argument against him is that he

was a Gentile, and it seems unthinkable that God would have chosen a Gentile Christian to write

an epistle of this nature to Hebrew Christians (see paragraph 1).

 

Another strong argument against Apollos, Barnabas, Silas and Luke is that all of the other books

of the New Testament were either written by our Lord (who wrote the book of Revelation, St.

John acting as His amanuensis), or one of the twelve Apostles (St. Peter wrote the Gospel of

Mark and St. Paul wrote the Gospel of Luke, Mark and Luke acting respectively as the Apostles’

amanuenses).

 

The main arguments that support Paul as the writer include:

  • Its grand style of writing, which reaches sublime heights in its portrayal of Jesus Christ,

matches that of Paul as a writer. Paul was extremely knowledgeable of the Old Testament

Scriptures and of Jewish history, demonstrated deep reasoning abilities as can be seen from

his other epistles and he was highly educated.

  • Until the sixteenth century, with few exceptions, Paul was traditionally regarded as the

writer.

  • The Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3: 15, 16 writes: “And account that the longsuffering of our

Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto

him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in

which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable

wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Peter, as the special

Apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2: 8), is here addressing certain Jews who had been scattered

throughout various regions. He mentions that Paul had written a letter to them, but if he is

not referring to Hebrews, what letter is he speaking of, since all of Paul’s other letters were

written to Gentiles?

 

The arguments used against Paul is that he does not identify himself anywhere in the book,

something that he does in all of his other epistles; and the writing style, vocabulary, form and

content are different from those of his other letters.

 

The above objections, however, may actually act as additional proof that Paul was the writer. He

was a very prominent young Jewish man at the time of his sudden conversion to Christ, resulting

in a great deal of hatred for him by his fellow countrymen. Had he revealed his name in the

address it could have detracted from the message he wanted them to receive. Also, when

addressing the Jews, his style, vocabulary, form and content may naturally have taken on a

different form than it did when he was addressing the Gentiles.

 

Though we do not wish to state the matter with absolute certainty, the evidence suggests that the

Apostle Paul was the writer of the book of Hebrews; but regardless of who the writer was,

Christians have, and should continue to receive numerous blessings from the great truths

contained in this marvellous book.

 

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