Thursday, December 8, 2016

Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?

The following is a response given on a recent episode of the WWUTT podcast, answering a question on who wrote the book of Hebrews. If you'd like to submit a question, the e-mail address is whenweunderstandthetext@gmail.com, and subscribe to the podcast here! Questions are answered on Fridays.


Hey Pastor Gabe, I really enjoy your WWUTT videos! My question is: who do you think wrote the book of Hebrews? What do you think are the best arguments out there? A.W. Pink makes very strong internal arguments from the Scripture in favor for Paul writing the book.

Thank you
Jeremiah

Greetings, Jeremiah!

Thank you for your question! It's hard to say who wrote Hebrews, but I do not believe it was Paul. Now, I'm not versed in Greek and am unable to compare Paul's Greek to the Greek in Hebrews. But I don't think a person would need to know Greek in order to rule out Paul as the author.

There are two reasons I don't believe Paul wrote it. First, there's no clear greeting. In all of Paul's letters that we have, there is a distinct introduction and conclusion. He identifies himself in every letter, and in Hebrews he does not. This is an argument from silence of course, but it's a very loud silence given the nature of the letter, who it's written to, and yet Paul doesn't find it necessary to remind them that he's a former teacher of the Law.

The second reason I believe is the strongest reason. Hebrews 2:3 says of the gospel, "It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard." Well, Paul didn't receive the gospel "by those who heard." He received it from direct revelation from the Lord himself (Galatians 1:12, Ephesians 3:3).

So who did write Hebrews? Well, considering there are some stylistic similarities to Paul's writings, it would have to be someone close to Paul. The mention of Timothy in chapter 13 suggests someone from Paul's group. The most likely candidates are Apollos and Barnabas. Despite the fact that Martin Luther argued for Apollos being the author, I think Apollos can be ruled out in favor of Barnabas.

Apollos was a Jew, but he was from Alexandria, Egypt. He had a Greek name, and his ministry outreach was primarily to the Greeks, particularly in Ephesus and Corinth. Barnabas, however, was a Levite (Acts 4:36). He would have known the levitical system well which is a central theme in the book of Hebrews. In Acts 11, we see Barnabas sent out from Jerusalem to find Paul, and they served in ministry together. Barnabas was present at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. His acquaintance with both Hebrews and Paul runs much deeper than Apollos.

That would be my argument for the author of Hebrews. I hope I've been able to give you something to consider. Ultimately the author of Hebrews is the author of the Bible: God Himself. It is in Him we marvel when we read His inerrant word, delivered to us through His apostles and prophets to the praise of His glorious grace. God bless, Jeremiah!

Pastor Gabe