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Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?

A great puzzle about the Book of Hebrews is the authorship, because the writer does not give his own name, or does he refer to any circumstances or connections that would say who he was with absolute assurance. A study of the Book of Hebrews shows that the writer was a man of high literary ability, with a style that approached more closely to that of classical Greek than that of any other writer of the New Testament. This writer was not an immediate disciple of Christ (Heb. 2:3). The writer was very well versed in the Old Testament, which he quoted from the Septuagint version. Also, he may have been a Jew, because he often used the first person plural in addressing his Jewish audience. He was a friend of Timothy and most likely was a part of the Pauline circle (13:23). His use of the Scripture from Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by his faith” (10:38), agrees with Paul’s usage in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11.

Several opinions have been suggested about the writers identity, though none has behind it the same unanimity of tradition that supports the Lukan authorship of the Third Gospel and Acts. The Eastern church from early days believed the Book of Hebrews to be written by Paul, but probably indirectly. Eusebius said that Clement of Alexandria also believed that the Apostle Paul had been the one who had written the Book of Hebrews and that Luke translated it into Greek. Origen often quoted the Epistle as Paul’s and confessed that it was generally believed as his, but when giving his own opinion said, “If, then any church considers this epistle as coming from Paul, let it be commended for this, for neither did those ancient men deliver it as such without cause. But who it was that really wrote the Epistle, God only knows.” However, the general line of argument and the style and diction of the book are not Pauline.

Many other names have been mentioned of who the author of the Book of Hebrews could be, chief among whom are Barnabas, to whom Tertullian attributed it, and Apollos, a guess from Martin Luther. However, Barnabas is favored because of the facts that he was a Jew, a Levite, along with being a friend of Paul whose teaching must have looked very much like Paul’s own writing, and one who could minister to the Jew as well as to the Gentile. Also, his long experience at teaching would fit with the character of the Book of Hebrews, which is didactic. Now, for Apollos there is no early tradition whatsoever. He, also, was a Jew, an Alexandrian, learned in the Scriptures, and exceptionally successful in his ministry with the Jews. He was a friend of Paul and was still very active in his own ministry toward the end of Paul’s life (Titus 3:13).

Furthermore, different commentators have indicated that the author of the Book of Hebrews possibly could of been either Luke, Peter, Jude, Stephen, Silvanus (Silas), Epaphras (Epaphroditus), Philip the Evangelist, Priscilla, Mary the mother of Jesus, Clement of Rome, Aristion, and many others. However, none of these beliefs or opinions has found enthusiastic general reception. The early Christians originally accepted all the New Testament books as inspired by God because they had apostolic teaching, so the author of the Book of Hebrews was most likely either an apostle or a close friend of at least one of the apostles.

Lastly, there is really nothing in the Book of Hebrews that clearly points to any one man, but it is my opinion that what little evidence there is would most likely fit Paul as the author. The following reasons is why I lean toward Paul being the writer of Hebrews:
(1) The writer was a friend to Timothy (Heb. 13:23);
(2) The writer was very knowledgeable in the Old Testament Scriptures;
(3) The writer used the same Old Testament quotation that was used by Paul on two other occasions: “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4 quoted in Heb. 10:38; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11);
(4) The writer ends Hebrews with the same token or mark that Paul says is his special token in ending his writings. Look at what Paul says in II Thess. 3:17-18 and compare Heb. 13:25 with the close of Paul’s epistles;
(5) The author wrote about “many things…hard to understand” (Heb. 5:11). Peter says the very same thing about Paul’s epistle to the Jews, “Paul…hath written unto you…some things hard to be understood” (II Peter 3:15-16).

So, in conclusion to this very question being asked, is Hebrews the epistle written by the Apostle Paul? The evidence is still not completely certain, but it does in my opinion point toward Paul.

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