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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who wrote the Book of Hebrews?

Floyd wrote:

I have always believed the apostle Paul wrote Hebrews, but some question him being the writer. What evidence have you that it was Paul who wrote Hebrews, the way he starts and ends some believe is not Paul's way of writing.

Thanks,
Floyd

Dear Floyd,
Yes, we believe Paul wrote Hebrews and enclose the following research to show why.

Hebrews
Its author

Paul wrote at least one epistle to the "Dispersion", for Peter says so (2 Pet. 3:15), but that of course does not prove that the epistle to the Hebrews is referred to by Peter, nor does it prove that Paul wrote it. It only assures us that even though he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, he did write at least one epistle to believers of the Jewish race. His own vehement love manifested in Romans 9:1-5 would also make it very likely that he would write to them as well as pray for them as he did. It has been objected that the style and the vocabulary of Hebrews is unlike that of Paul's other epistles, but that can be accounted for both from the nature of the subject, and the great amount of the O.T. that is quoted and referred to. There are one or two features that link Hebrews with Paul's other epistles which we will set out before going on to the study of the epistle itself.

If Hebrews be written by Paul then he is the only writer in the N.T. to quote from Habakkuk two "The just shall live by his faith". In Romans the stress is laid upon the word "just" (Rom. 1:16,17). In Galatians the stress is laid upon "faith" (Gal. 3:11). In Hebrews the stress is laid upon "live" (Heb. 10:38). No other writer in the N.T. uses Psalm eight in the way that Paul and the author of the Hebrews does. Notice the peculiar way in which Paul seizes upon the universality of the subjection when the end comes, "It is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him" (1 Cor. 15:27), and with this compare the peculiar argument of Hebrews two, "For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him" (Heb. 2:8). Surely the same mind is revealed at work in both of these references to Psalm eight. The only other reference is that of Ephesians 1:22, where the theme is the ascended and seated Christ, Head over all things to the church. Here there are two O.T. passages, handled in a way that suggests a common author.

The way in which a writer quotes Scripture will often prove a guide, and there is one passage, Deuteronomy 32:35, that will link the epistle to the Hebrews with the epistles of Paul, by its very peculiar mode of quoting the words "to Me belongeth vengeance and recompense" (Deut. 32:35). Had Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30 contained a literal quotation of the LXX, it would have proved nothing as to common authorship, but if both passages depart from the LXX, and in the same particulars, a very strong case is made out. Here is the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:35:

En hemera ekdikeseos antapodoso
"In day of vengeance I will recompense."

Here are the two quotations:

"For it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom. 12:19).

"For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord" (Heb. 10:30).

The reader may demur, and object that the two passages are not exactly the same. In this way they are cheated by the English translators. Here is the Greek of Romans 12:19:

Emoi ekdikesis, ego antapodsoo, legei kurios.

It would be waste of print to repeat this line again as of Hebrews 10:30, for the wording in both places is the same to the letter. If this is not pro of common authorship, what is? We now draw attention to the way in which certain words are used by Paul and which are used in the same connections in Hebrews.
  • Agon, a word borrowed from the Greek games, and translated "conflict", "contention" , "fight" (Phil. 1:30, Col. 2:1, 1 Thess. 2:2, 1 Tim. 6:12 and 2 Tim. 4:7). The only other occurrence is Hebrews 12:1, "the race that is set before us".
  • Athlesis, athleo, sunathleo, are similarly borrowed from the games (Heb. 10:32, Phil. 1:27, 2 Tim. 2:5). In addition it should be noted that in 1 Corinthians 4:9 Paul uses the word theatron, "spectacle", and in Hebrews 10:33 theatrizomenoi, "gazing stock", which reveal the same shrinking and sensitive mind.
  • Apekdechomai. This word does not occur anywhere else except in Paul's undoubted epistles, and Hebrews. It means always expectation in connexion with the second coming of the Lord (Heb. 9:28, 1 Cor. 1:7, Phil. 3:20).
  • Douleia, "bondage", occurs only in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Bondage of corruption, bondage of the fear of death, are associated ideas.
  • Intercession (entugchano) (Rom. 8:27, Heb, 7:25).
One will find other examples, but we pass on to other "proofs".

The writer of Hebrew speaks of our brother Timothy (Heb. 13:23). In the opening of 2 Corinthians and of Colossians, Timothy is called "our brother", while the idea that Timothy would "come" and that "shortly" is found in 1 Corinthians 16:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:6 and Philippians 2:19,24. Timothy, by reason of his parentage, had been circumcised and would be accepted by the Hebrew Christians. These are but a few, selected from a mass of parallels accumulated, tabulated, analyzed, and commented on in a book of 670 pages, by Forster, on Hebrews, a book literally crammed full of evidence for the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Our space however is exceedingly limited and so we pass on to another proof of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. It is often said that Paul's name does not occur in the epistle. That is so, but his sign manual is there for all to see.

Owing to a deception that had been practised upon the church by someone sending an epistle purporting to have come from Paul, he drew attention to the fact that he wrote "like this" where not only the handwriting itself is referred to, a proof in itself, and one accepted today in banks, wills, leases, contracts, judgments, marriages, births and deaths, but also that he adopted a certain phrase, which added to the proof of his identity. "The salutation of Paul WITH MINE OWN HAND."

"Which is the TOKEN in EVERY epistle: so I write." Something therefore Paul assured the reader he would write, and that he would write it in every epistle. This of necessity would also demand Divine supervision to prevent anyone else using the same terms at the close of an epistle-otherwise the object would be defeated. "So I write" (2 Thess. 3:17). Then follows, in the handwriting of Paul himself, the words "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (2 Thess. 3:18). Now if each of the thirteen epistles that bear the name of Paul be examined, it will be found that each has a benediction which uses the phrase "Grace . . . with you" in a variety of ways.

2 Corinthians concludes with the longest and fullest of these benedictions, and Titus ends with one of the shortest, "Grace be with you all. Amen" (Tit. 3:15). It is with these identical words that the epistle to the Hebrews closes. Shall we not therefore be compelled to accept this "sign-manual" of the Apostle, and maintain that Paul was the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews? This is the one anonymous epistle of the twenty-one that are found in the N.T. Why should the writer of any epistle suppress his identity? When we remember the deep prejudice of the Jew, and of the Jewish Christians, and Paul's sensitiveness concerning them, and that he should give none offence, neither to Jew, Gentile nor church of God, and that he was not sent as an Apostle to them, can we supply any adequate reason to account for the withholding of the writer's name. Sufficient, we trust, has been said on this head. Those who are not convinced will probably remain unconvinced though we wrote a volume.

We turn now to another feature, the result of a comparison made between the distinctive teaching of Hebrews with that of Ephesians.

Hebrews and Ephesians compared.
  • Comparison No. 1. Ephesians, like the bulk of Paul's epistles, contains in its salutation the name "Paul", and his apostolic office. This indicates that he writes with full apostolic authority. It is not called a "word of exhortation" which the readers are called upon "to suffer" as in Hebrews, but is the revelation of a secret portion of the Divine plan presented to their faith by an accredited apostle. The absence of the name and office of Paul from Hebrews indicates that he was writing in a private capacity to those whose calling and sphere did not fall within the dispensation granted to him. This in no sense alters its inspiration, but it does call upon all who read it to exercise discrimination, lest they confound things that differ.
  • Comparison No. 2. Ephesians is most definitely and exclusively addressed to "Gentiles" . This word never appears in Hebrews, which uses instead, the words "the fathers" and "the people", neither of which finds a place in the epistle to the Ephesians, nor do these terms pertain to the dispensation of the grace of God entrusted to Paul the prisoner "for you Gentiles" .
  • Comparison No. 3. Hebrews is full of references to "angels": Ephesians does not once mention them but stresses the exaltation of the Lord above "principalities", a term not found in Hebrews. Yet both epistles quote Psalm eight, in reference to the Lord's exaltation, speaking, in Hebrews, of the Lord's relation to angels, and, in Ephesians of His relation to principalities and powers, two different spheres in glory being thus indicated.
  • Comparison No. 4. While both Ephesians and Hebrews quote Psalm eight, the epistle to the Hebrews leaves us in no doubt that it speaks of the "habitable world to come" (oikoumene), whereas the context of the quotation of Psalm eight in Ephesians goes beyond the habitable world, beyond the present heavens to that place which is described as far above all principality and power, and speaks of Christ as "Head" and His church as "the body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all".
  • Comparison No. 5. Redemption by blood is found both in Ephesians and Hebrews; so also is the forgiveness of sins, but in Hebrews this redemption and forgiveness is associated with the old and new covenants. So also "access" in Hebrews is related to the new covenant and a different Greek word from that used in Ephesians is employed. The Ephesian saints had been "made nigh" whereas the Hebrews are exhorted to "draw near".
  • Comparison No. 6. Both in Hebrews and in Ephesians the outstanding position of Christ is "seated at the right hand of God", but in Hebrews, He is seen seated there as "the High Priest" whereas in Ephesians He is seated there as "The Head". In Ephesians, the believer is looked upon as being seated with Him, in Hebrews He is there alone. In the whole of Paul's thirteen epistles there is not a single reference either to a priest or to a high priest, yet, without these offices, the teaching of Hebrews could not proceed. An examination of the Scriptures written prior to the law of Sinai, reveals that sacrifices were offered, not by a priest, but by the head of a family or tribe. Priesthood is thus linked with Israel, but the Gentile calling of Ephesians is linked with Christ as Head.
  • Comparison No. 7. The word diatheke, "covenant", lies at the heart of Hebrews. No covenant, old or new, enters into the teaching of Ephesians. The "seated Priest" of Hebrews is the Mediator of the new covenant, but this is entirely foreign to the calling or dispensation of Ephesians. In the place occupied by the new covenant in Hebrews, Ephesians places "The Mystery".
  • Comparison No. 8. The hope of both epistles, when examined and compared, reveals the same associations that have marked all the preceding studies. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."
Hebrews and Philippians compared.
The preceding comparison is negative in character, but the present reveals that the purpose with which Hebrews was written is similar to the purpose of Philippians. The dispensation in which the two epistles work are different, but their teaching is parallel. Both urge the believer to ''go on unto perfection" whatever that perfection may mean in either case, and both warn about drawing back "unto perdition" whatever that perdition may prove to be. In both a race and a prize is in view, even though the prize be different and the sphere of enjoyment different.

Hebrews                                              Philippians
Things accompanying salvation 6:9                         Work out salvation 2:12
Heavenly city 11:10; 12,22                                 Citizenship in heaven 3:20
Reproach 11:26; 13:13                              Fellowship of sufferings 3:10
Reward 10:35, 11:26                                         Prize 3:14
The race set before us 12:1                                I press toward the mark 3:14
Leaving. . . let us go on 6:1,2                                    Forgetting things behind 3:13
Obtain a better resurrection (Condition attached) 11:35         Attain unto an out-resurrection (Condition attached) 3:11
Power of His resurrection 13:20                           Power of His resurrection 3:10
Work in . . . His will 13:21                               Work in . . . His will 2:13
Christ the Image 1:3                                        Christ the Form 2:6
Angels worship Him 1:6                             Every knee bow 2:10
Thou Lord, in beginning 1:10                               Jesus Christ is Lord 2:11
A little lower than angels 2:9                             No reputation . . He humbled Himself 2:7,8
Cross endured for the joy and used as example 12:1,2    Cross suffered . . . wherefore exalted . .  Let this mind be in you 2:5,9
Crucify to themselves afresh 6:6                          Enemies of the Cross of Christ 3:18


PERFECTION                        OR                         PERDITION
(6:1, 10:39)                                                 (3:12,19)
Fight of afflictions (athlesis) 10:32                     Strive together (sunathleo) 1:27, 4:3
Discernment 5:14                                            Discernment . . . differ 1:9,10
Look diligently lest. . . Esau 12:15                      Mark them that walk 3:17
For one morsel of meat sold his birthright 12:16                 Whose God is their belly 3:19
That generation - tempted God in the wilderness 3:7-10  Perverse generation . . . do . . . without murmurings 2:14,15
Be content with such as ye have 13:5                      Whatsoever state content 4:11
Communicate 13:16                                           Communicate 4:14,15
With such sacrifices well pleased 13:16                  Sacrifice. . . sweet smell, well pleasing
4:18
Fruit of righteousness 12:11                               Fruit of righteousness 1:11
Compassion in bonds 10:34                                  Partaker in bonds 1:7
Whose faith follow (mimsomai) 13:7                        Be followers together of me (summimetes) 3:17
Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods 10:34       Let your moderation be known unto all men 4:5
You have in heaven an enduring substance (huparchonta) 10:34   Our citizenship is in heaven (huparcho) 3:20
Salutation from Italy 13:24                                Salutation from Caesar's household 4:22
Paul's sign manual 13 :25                                  Paul's sign manual 4:23

We hope this helps,
The Believers

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