Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Ninety-five: Epistle to the Hebrews #2   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible

Chapter Ninety-five:

The Epistle to Hebrews - Introduction #2

                             THE NEW TESTAMENT

                                BIBLE STORY

                            Chapter Ninety-five

                   Epistle of Hebrews - Introduction #2

The following is taken from Albert Barnes' "Notes On The New


     To those who are familiar with the investigation which have
taken place in regard to this epistle, it need not be said that
the question of its authorship has given rise to much discussion.
The design of these Notes does not permit me to go at length into
this inquiry. Those who are disposed to see the investigation
pursued at length, and to see the objections to the Pauline
origin examined in a most satisfactory manner, can find it done
in the Introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews, by Professor
Stuart, pp.77-200. All that my purpose requires is to state, in a
very brief manner, the evidence on which it is ascribed to the
apostle Paul. That evidence is, briefly, the following:

(1) That derived from the church at Alexandria. Clement of
Alexandria says, that Paul wrote to the Hebrews; and that this
was the opinion of Pantaenus, who was at the head of the
celebrated Christian school at Alexandria, and who flourished
about A.D.180. Pantaenus lived near Palestine. He must have been
acquainted with the prevailing opinions on the subject, and his
testimony must be regarded as proof, that the epistle was
regarded as Paul's by the churches in that region. Origen, also,
of Alexandria, ascribes the epistle to Paul: though he say, that
the sentiments are those of Paul, but that the words and phrases
belong to some one relating the apostle's sentiments, end, as it
were, commenting on the words of his master. The testimony of the
church at Alexandria was uniform, after the time of Origen, that
it was the production of Paul. Indeed, there seem, never to have
been any doubt in regard to it there; and from the commencement
it was admitted as his production. The testimony of that church
and school is particularly valuable, because (a) it was. near to
Palestine, where the epistle was probably sent; (b) Clement
particularly had travelled much, and would be likely to
understand the prevailing sentiments of the East; (c) Alexandria
was the seat of the of the celebrated theological school of the
early Christian ages, and those who were at the head of the
school would be likely to have correct information on a point
like this; and (d) Origen is admitted to have been the most
learned of the Greek Fathers, and his testimony, that the 
"sentiments" were those of Paul, may be regarded an of peculiar

(2) It was inserted in the translation into the Syriac, made very
early in the second century, and in the old Italic version; and
was hence believed to be of apostolic origin, and is, by the
inscription, ascribed to Paul. This may be allowed to express the
general sense of the churches at that time, as this would not
have been done unless there had been a general impression that
the epistle was written by him. The fact, that it was early
regarded as an inspired book, is also conclusively shown by the
fact that the second epistle of Peter, and the second and third
epistles of John are not found in that version. They came later
into circulation than the other epistles, and were not possessed,
or regarded as genuine, by the author of that version. The
epistle to the Hebrews IS found in these versions, and was,
therefore, regarded as one of the inspired books. In those
versions it bears the inscription, "To the Hebrews."

(3) This epistle was received as the production of Paul by the
Eastern churches. Justin Martyr, who was born at Samaria, quotes
it, about the year 140.  It was found, as has been already
remarked, in the Peshito - the old Syriac version, made in the
early part of the second century. Jacob, bishop of Nisibis, also,
(about A.D.325,) repeatedly quotes it as the production of an
Ephrem Syrus, or the Syrian, abundantly ascribes this
epistle to Paul. He was the disciple of Jacob of Nisibis, and  no
was better qualified to inform himself on this point than Ephrem.
No man stands deservedly higher in the memory of the Eastern
churches. After him, all the Syrian churches acknowledged the
canonical authority of the epistle to the Hebrews. But the most
important testimony of the Eastern church is that of Eusebius, 
bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine. He is the well-known historian
of the church, and he took pains, from all quarters to recollect
testimony in regard to the Books of Scripture. He says, "There
are fourteen epistles of Paul, manifest and well known: but yet
them are some who reject that to the Hebrews, alleging, in behalf
of their opinion, that it was not received by the church of Rome
and a writing of Paul."
The testimony of Eusebius is particularly important.   
He had heard all the objection to its canonical authority. He
had weighed that objection. Yet, in view of the testimony in the
case, he regarded it as the undoubted production of Paul. As such
is was received in the churches in the East; and the fact which
he mention, that its genuineness bad been disputed by the church
of Rome, and that be specifies no other church, proves that it
had NOT been called in question in the East. This seem 
sufficient testimony, to settle this inquiry.     The writers
here referred to lived in the very country which the epistle was
evidently written, and their testimony is uniform. Justin Martyr
was born in Samaria; Ephrem passed his life in Syria; Eusebius
lived in Caesarea; and Origen passed the last twenty years of his
life in Palestine. The churches there were unanimous in the
opinion, that this epistle was written by Paul, and their united
testimony should settle the question. Indeed, when their
testimony is considered, it seems remarkable that the subject
should have been regarded as doubtful by critics, or that it
should have give rise to much protracted investigation. I might
add to the testimonies above referred to the feet, that the
epistle was declared to be Paul's by the following persons: 

Archeleus, bishop of Mesopotamia, about A.D.300; Adamantius,
about 330; Cyril, of Jerusalem, about 348; the Council of
Laodicea, about 363: Epiphanies, about 368; Basil, 370; Gregory
Nazianzen, 370; Cheysostom, 398, etc, etc. Why should not the
testimony of such men and churches be admitted? What more clear
or decided evidence could we wish, in regard to any act of
ancient history? Would not such testimony be ample in regard to
an anonymous oration of Cicero, or poem of Virgil or Homer? Are
we not constantly acting on far feebler evidence in regard to the
authorship of many productions of celebrated English writers?

(4) In regard to the Western churches, it is to be admitted,
that, like the second epistle of Peter, and the second and third
epistles of John, the canonical authority was for some time
doubted, or was even called in question. But this may be
accounted for. The epistle had not the name of the author. All
the other epistles of Paul had. As the epistle was addressed to
the Hebrews in Palestine, it may not have been soon known to the
Western churches. As there were spurious epistles and gospels, at
an early age, much caution would be used in admitting any
anonymous production to a place in the sacred canon. Yet it was
not long before all these doubts were removed, and the epistle to
the Hebrews was allowed to take its place among the
other acknowledged writing, of Paul. It was received as the
epistle of Paul by Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, about A.D.354; by
Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, 354; by Victorinus, 360; by Ambrose,
bishop of Milan, 360; by Rufinus, 387, etc., etc. Jerome, the
well-known Latin Father, uses in regard to it the following
language: "This is to be maintained, that this epistle, which is
inscribed to the Hebrews, is not only received by the churches at
the East as the apostle Paul's, but has been in past times by all
ecclesiastical writers in the Greek language; although most
[Latins] think that Barnabas or Clement was the author."

Still, it was not rejected by the Latins. Some received
it in the time of Jerome as the production or Paul. See
Stuart, pp.114,115, for the full testimony of Jerome. Augustine
admitted that the epistle was written by Paul. He mentions that
Paul wrote fourteen epistles, and specifies particularly the
epistle to the Hebrews. He often cites it an a part of Scripture,
and quotes it as the production, of an apostle. Stuart, p.115.   
From the time of Augustine it was undisputed. By the council of
Hippo, A.D. 393, the third council of Carthage 397, and the fifth
council of Carthage, 419, it was declared to be the epistle of
Paul, and was, as such, commended to the churches.

(5) As another proof that it is the writing of Paul, we may
appeal to the internal evidence. 

(a) The author of the epistle was the companion and friend of
Timothy. "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty" -
or is sent away - (The Greek is given) "with whom, if he come
speedily, I will make you a visit," ch, xiii.23.  Sent away,
perhaps, on a journey to visit some of the churches, and
expected soon to return. In, Phil.ii.19, Paul speaks of sending
Timothy to them "so soon as he should see how it would go with
him," at the same time expressing a hope that he should himself
see them shortly. What is more natural than to suppose that he
had now sent Timothy to Philippi; that during his absence he
wrote this epistle; that he was waiting for his return; and that
he proposed, if Timothy should return soon, to visit Palestine
with him? And who would more naturally say this than the apostle
Paul - the companion and friend of Timothy - by whom he had been
accompanied in his travels, and by whom he was regarded with
special interest as a minister of the gospel? 

(b) In ch.xiii.18,19, he asks their prayers, that he might be
restored to them; and in ver.23, he expresses a confident
expectation of being able soon to come and see them. From this it
is evident that he was then imprisoned, but had hope of speedy
release - a state of things in exact accordance with what existed
at Rome. Phil ii.17-24. 

(c) He was in bonds when he wrote this epistle. Heb.x.34, "Ye had
compassion of me in my bonds" -  an expression that will exactly
apply to the case of Paul. He was in "bonds" in Palestine - he
was two whole years in Caesarea a prisoner, (Acts xxiv.27 ;) and
what was more natural than that the Christians in Palestine
should have had compassion on him, and ministered to his wants?  
To what other person would these circumstances so certainly be

(d) The salutation, (ch.xiii.24,) "they of Italy salute you;"
agrees with the supposition that it was written by Paul when a
prisoner at Rome. Paul writing from Rome, and acquainted with
Christians from other parts of Italy, would be likely to send
such a salutation. In regard to the objection which maybe made to
this use of the passage, the reader may consult Stuart's Intro.
to the Hebrews, p.127, seq.   

(e) The doctrines of the epistle are the same as those which are
taught by Paul in his undisputed writings. It is true that this
consideration is not conclusive, but the want of it would be con-
clusive evidence AGAINST the position that Paul wrote it. But the
resemblance is not general. It is not such as any man would
exhibit who held to the same general system of truth. It relates,
to peculiarities of doctrine, and is such as would be manifested
by a man who had been reared and trained as Paul had. No one can
doubt that the author was formerly a Jew - and a Jew who had been
familiar, to an uncommon degree, with the institutions of the
Jewish religion. Every rite and ceremony - very form of opinion -
every fact in their history - is perfectly familiar to him. And
though the other apostles were Jews, yet we can hardly suppose
that they had the familiarity with the minute rites and
ceremonies so accurately referred to in this epistle, and so
fully illustrated.  With Paul all this was perfectly natural.    
He had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, he had spent the
early part of his life at Jerusalem, in the careful study of the
Old Testament, in the examination of the prevalent opinions, and
in the attentive observance of the rites of religion. The other
apostles had been born and trained, apparently, on the bank of
Gennesareth, and certainly with few of the opportunities which
Paul had had for becoming acquainted with the institutions of the
This consideration is fatal, in my view, to the claim which has
been set up for Clement as the author of the epistle. It is
wholly incredible, that a foreigner should be so familiar with
the Jewish opinions, laws, institutions, and history, as the
author of this epistle manifestly was.
There is the same preference for Christianity over Judaism in
this epistle which is shown by Paul in his other epistles, and
exhibited in the same form.   
Among these points am the following: 

The gospel imparts superior light. Comp. Gal.iv.3,9; I Cor.xiv.
20; Eph.iv.11-13; 2 Cor.iii.18: with Heb.i.l,2; ii.2-4; iii.
9-11; x.1; xi.39,40. The gospel holds out superior motives and 
encouragements to piety. Comp. Gal.iii.23; iv.2,3; Rom.viii.
15-17; Gal.iv.4; v.13; 1 Cor.vii.19:; with Heb.ix.9,
14; xii.18-24,28; viii.6-13.  The gospel is superior in promoting
the real and permanent happiness of mankind. Comp. Gal.iii.10; 
2 Cor.iii.7,9; Rom.iii.20; iv.24,25; Eph.i.7; Rom.v.1,2; Gal.ii.
16; and the same views in Rom.ii.18-21; ix.9: x.4,11; vi.18-20;
vii.25; ix.24. 
The Jewish dispensation was a type and shadow of the Christian.
See Col.ii.16,17; 1 Cor.x.1-6; Rom.v.14; l Cor.xv.45-47; 2 Cor.
iii.13-18; Gal.iv.22-31; iv.1-5; and, far the same or similar
views, see Hebrews ix.9-14; x.1; vii.1-9; ix.22-24. The Christian
religion was designed to be perpetual, while the Jewish was
intended to be abolished. See 2 Col.iii.10,11,13,18; iv.14-16;
Rom.vii.4-6; Gel.iii.21-25; iv.1-7; v.1; and, for similar views,
compare Heb.viii.6-8,13; vii.17-19; x.1-14.  
The person of the Mediator is presented in the same light by the
writer of the epistle to the Hebrews and by Paul. See Phil.ii.6
-11; Col.i.15-20; 2 Cor.viii.9; Eph.iii.9; I Cor.ii.6; xv.25-27;
and, for the same and similar views, see Heb.i.2,3; ii.9,14; xii.
2; ii.8; x.13. 
The death of Christ is the propitiatory sacrifice for sin. See 1
Tim.i.15; 1 Cor.xv.3; Rom.viii.32; iii.24; Gal.i.4; ii.20; 1 Cor.
v.7; Eph.i.7; Col.i.14; 1 Tim.ii.6; I; vii.23; Rom.v.
12-21; iii.20,28; viii.3; 1 Tim.ii.5,6. For similar views, see
Heb.i.3; ii.9; v.8,9; vii., viii., ix., x. 

The general method and arrangement of this epistle, and the
acknowledged epistles of Paul, are the same. It resembles
particularly the epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, where
we have first a doctrinal, and then a practical part. The same is
true also, to some extent, of the epistles to the Ephesians,
Colossians, and Philippians. The epistle to the Hebrews is
on the same plan.   
As far as ch.x.19, it is principally doctrinal; the remainder is
mainly practical. The manner of appealing to, and applying the
Jewish Scriptures, is the same in this epistle as in those of
The general structure of the epistle, and the slightest
comparison between them, will show this with sufficient
The general remark to be made in view of this comparison is, that
the epistle to the Hebrews is just each an one as Paul might be
expected to write; that it agrees with what we know to have been
his early training, his views, his manner of life, his opinions  
and his habit in writing; that it accords better with his views
than with those of any other known writer of antiquity; and that
it falls in with the circumstances in which he was known to be
placed, and the general object which he bad in view. 

So satisfactory are these views to my mind, that they seem to
have all the force of demonstration which can be had in regard to
any anonymous publication; and it is a matter of wonder that so
much doubt has been experienced, in reference to the question who
was the author.

(AMEN, to Barnes' comments above. As I have read Paul over and
over again for forty years of my life now, I can only see in
Hebrews the continuation of the very mind and theology and
education of "Jewishness" that is in Paul. As to technical style
and Greek grammar and all that, which some take as this epistle
not being written by Paul, my answer it that Paul was a man of
multi-personality, as can be seen by reading the epistles which
do sign his name to them. He adapted his personality and way of
writing to fit the situation and circumstance, the need as to
what needed to be said for that issue, and the way it needed to
be said and taught.
Yes, to me the very context of Hebrews has the personality and
nature and theology of the apostle Paul written all over it -
Keith Hunt)

It is difficult to account for the fact, that the name of the
author was omitted. It is found in every other epistle of Paul,
and, in general, it is appended to the epistles in the New
Testament. It is omitted, however, in the three epistles of John,
for reasons which are no unknown.  And there may have been
similar reasons, also unknown, for omitting it in this case. The
simple fact is, that it is anonymous; and, whoever was the
author, the same difficulty will exist in accounting for it. If
this fact will prove that Paul was not the author, it would prove
the same thing in regard to any other person; and would thus be,
ultimately, conclusive evidence that it had no author. What were
the reasons for omitting the name can be only matter of
conjecture. The most probable opinion, as it seems to
me, is this. The name of Paul was odious to the Jews. He was
regarded by the nation as an apostate from their religion, and
everywhere they slowed peculiar malignity against him. See the
Acts of the Apostles. The fact that he was as regarded by them,
might indirectly influence even those who had converted from
Judaism to Christianity. They lived in Palestine. They were near
the temple, and were engaged in its ceremonies and sacrifices -
for there is no evidence that they broke off from those
observances on their conversion to Christianity. Paul was abroad.
It might have been reported that he was preaching against the
temple and its sacrifices, and even the Jewish Christians in
Palestine might have supposed that he was carrying matters too
far. In these circumstances it might have been IMPRUDENT for him
to have announced his name at the outset, for it might be have
aroused prejudices which a wise man would wish to allay.    

But if he could present an argument, somewhat in the form of an
essay, showing that he believed that the Jewish institutions were
appointed by God, and that he was not an apostate and an infidel;
if he could conduct a demonstration that would accord in the main
with the prevailing view of the Christians in Palestine, and that
was adapted to strengthen them is the faith of the gospel, and
explain we to them the true nature of the Jewish rites, then the
object could be gained without difficulty, and then they would be
prepare to learn that Paul was the author, without prejudice or

Accordingly he thus conducts the argument; and, at the close,
gives them such INTIMATIONS that they would understand
who wrote it without much difficulty. 

If this was the motive, it was an instance of tact such as was
certainly characteristic of Paul, and such as was not unworthy
any man.

I have no doubt that this was the true motive. It would be soon
known who wrote it; and, accordingly, we have seen it was never
disputed in the Eastern churches.

(Amen again to Albert Barnes - I do fully believe this epistle
was written by the apostle Paul. Of course we shall await the
return of Jesus and the resurrection of Paul, for him to affirm
or not that he did write this epistle - Keith Hunt)



I will continue with the comments of Albert Barnes in number
three of this Introduction to Hebrews

November 2006

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