I was studying Hebrews the other day as I prepared for “Thy Strong Word” on KFUO (a daily on-air bible study that I am a frequent guest on. . . http://www.kfuo.org). Sometimes referred to as “The Letter to the Hebrews,” Hebrews is more of a sermon with a short letter appended to the end. I remember reading Hebrews for the first time shortly after coming to faith in Y’shua, thinking that this “letter” was particularly written for someone like me, a Jewish Christian. When I read it then, though I knew that it was “anonymous,” I really believed that it was written by Paul. After all, in the English, it certainly sounds like Paul.
But, as I got “educated,” I studied Greek, I studied Eusebius, and I along with all the scholars, came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t Paul, and while authorship was uncertain, I figured it was Barnabus (Paul’s scribe), though Luther posited Apollos. Luther concluded though, “Who wrote it is unknown, and will probably not be known for a while, it makes no difference.” He then goes on to speak highly of the theology of Hebrews, though including it among those books which are “antilegomena,” disputed texts that have limited doctrinal value. Sadly, it does make a difference then, as the primary argument for Hebrews as being a disputed text is that it is anonymous.
I don’t think it was intended to be anonymous, and those for whom this sermon was intended would have known the preacher. The short letter assumes that the recipients of the letter know who wrote it, and mentions Timothy, as Paul often does. The main argument against Pauline authorship is the style of Greek used, but do we really believe that someone like Paul couldn’t have managed a more formal Greek? Do you think that Paul may have preached this primarily for Jewish Christians, but also to those who have yet to believe? I know that when I preach, and it is to my congregation, my style is much more colloquial than if we have visitors who do not yet know Jesus. So, maybe I’m back to Pauline authorship. Regardless, there is much to learn about evangelism to Jewish people from this wonderful sermon, namely the primacy of Jesus over the angels, over Moses, over the Sabbath, over the sacrifices, and over the culture that calls us back to unbelief, all realities still today. Whoever wrote Hebrews, I am grateful for the encouragement to “have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus!”