Did Paul Write Hebrews?

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Dave Gilbert's picture

        Hebrews 10:34, " For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. "


Paul makes mention of his "bonds" in several epistles: Ephesians 6:20, Philemon 1:10-13, Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:13-14, Colossians 4:18. there may be other references, I'm not sure. I only did a quick search. He also references Timothy in several passages, and in Hebrews 13:23, the writer mentions Timothy coming with him, and we know from other passages that Timothy journeyed with Paul on at least one missionary journey in the book of Acts.


Timothy is mentioned as Timotheus in Romans 16:21, and is mentioned as being with Paul in Acts 20:4, again mentioned as Timotheus...Acts 18:5, Acts 17:14-15, Acts 16:1...two epistles to Timothy himself. What more proof is needed?


I think the Lord used Paul, but Paul doesn't mention himself by name in greeting, perhaps because he was so hated amongst the Pharisees...speculation I suppose. At any rate, I'm convinced it was Paul. Smile



G. N. Barkman's picture

I don't see how Paul could have written Hebrews.  Whoever wrote Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:3 that he was a second generation Christian.  He did not get his gospel from Christ, but from others who received it from Christ and passed it on to him.  ("confirmed to us by those who heard him.")   Since we know that Paul received his message directly from Christ and strongly defended this direct, first generation revelation (Galatians 1:11,12), it would be impossible for Paul to write the words in Hebrews 2:3.  Paul could not qualify as an Apostle unless he received his messaged directly from Christ.

The Hebrews author obviously knew many of the people Paul knew, and experienced some of the same types of persecution Paul endured.  The similarities of Pauline-like experiences do not prove the author was Paul, but the way the author received his message proves that he could not have been Paul.

G. N. Barkman

Dave Gilbert's picture

Hebrews 2:3-4, " How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard ( him ); 4 God also bearing ( them ) witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? "


Now without the italics, inserted in by the translators for continuity: " How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard (); 4 God also bearing () witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? "


As one can see, without the italics ( and I agree that there are places that the italics are especially helpful, such as many passages in the Old  Testament ) the passage takes on a slightly different flow and overall meaning. I use the Authorized, and strip away the italics in my mind or hop over them, just to see what it says without them. Something I've started doing the past few years, and it gives a slightly different meaning to passages like John 12:32, which, when "men" is removed from the passage ( because it is in italics, and therefore admittedly inserted by the translators and not something God spoke or inspired ) then the passage reads: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all () unto me. " All who? All men, or all elect...all believers, or all unbelievers? All of something, but the reader is left hanging to complete the passage by themselves, ( or just leave it as all ).


It makes for a very intriguing look at how passages read without the "helpers".


Back to the subject at hand...without the italics, we can now see that whomever was tasked with writing this letter to his Hebrew brothers in Christ, implies a general meaning to those who have "heard", and God also "bearing witness". "Them that heard" would include everyone that has spiritually heard the Gospel and responded by faith, and " bearing witness" refers to the how He bore witness..."with signs and wonders...".


I don't see where any kind of "second generation" Christian comes into play.





G. N. Barkman's picture

I took a look at Hebrews 2:3 in the Greek, and it seems to me it says what the KJV and the NKJV says, but I would be happy to hear from someone who is a bona fide Greek scholar.  However, I checked a couple of other reliable translations, and they also understand it the same way.  "how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?  After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard."  (NASB)   "how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?  It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,"  (ESV)  I consulted five other translations, and all understand it like the above.  I cannot find any translation that reads as you suggest.

I appreciate the challenge, as it made me dig a little deeper, which is always a good thing.  In this case, the more I studied, the more I found my initial impression reinforced.  However, I am always happy to consider evidence to the contrary.

G. N. Barkman

Dave Gilbert's picture

I've re-read Hebrews 2:3-4 a couple of times and can see where you might be coming from, Mr. Barkman. "Confirmed unto us by them that heard " does seem to imply an audience past the apostles...a "handing off" if you will, of the Gospel from the Lord, to the Apostles and then to those who heard it from them.


I'll have to re-think the issue, but the reference to "bonds" still gives me pause. Smile

Todd Bowditch's picture

2 Thess 3:17...Paul always signs his letters with his own hand.

Also the lack of the traditional Pauline prayers and benedictions is perplexing.

The ostensible provenance of the letter seems to be more closely aligned with a post-Pauline environment.

The theological emphasis of the epistle is closely Pauline.

The reference to Timothy as "brother" is a contrast from Paul's more frequent term of endearment "true child" (1 Tim 1) and "son" (Phil 2).

Luke was imprisoned with Paul willingly or unwillingly on various occasions....the reference to prison does not necessitate a Pauline authorship (Acts 26-27).

The syntax and vocabulary of the epistle are uniquely different from the Pauline epistles in a number of instances.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Dave Gilbert's picture

The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are linked through Luke:


Luke 1:3, " It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus," and Acts 1:1, " The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, "...that much is clear. However, it may have been Luke, or it may have been several others who journeyed with Paul and were imprisoned with him, because of the reference to "bonds". Luke may have, as well as Silas, Barnabas, Mark ( John Mark ) and perhaps several others.


Going on the fact that the person the Holy Spirit used was also in "bonds", I opened to Philemon 1:23-24, where mention is made of another who was a "fellow prisoner" of Paul's...Epaphras: " There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; " We also see that "Lucas" is mentioned right along with Marcus, Aristarchus and Demas ( who left Paul, "having loved this present world" in 2nd Timothy ); Now for the tough stuff...going by what is referenced and linking those references, it could have been almost anyone who was imprisoned ( for instance ) for preaching Christ. However, by the style of the writing in Hebrews, it seems to have been a fellow Jew who wrote to other fellow Jews, one who knew Scripture very well. Also, the inherent style in very similar to the way the Lord had Paul write, so that's why my initial impression of Paul. Some I have seen in other articles think it was someone who journeyed with Paul, so perhaps the Lord blessed Luke with a 3rd work. 


Final answer, subject to revision...Luke is a distinct probability, with anyone else a distant one, IMO.


This was fun, and caused me to dig. I enjoyed it. Smile

BClingaman's picture

I have recently suspected that it would not be Paul since it lacked the typical greeting and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles but someone close who had suffered with him and would have clout with the Hebrews, maybe a Levite. How about Barnabas (Acts 4:36)?

Don Johnson's picture

But Herman Ridderbos (I think) also suggests Barnabas. I have his book at the office where he gives his reasons, but I have thought it to have been Luke instead. Luke is one who already is an accepted author of NT works, whereas Barnabas was one who would be new on the scene, so to speak [as an inspired writer, I mean], and have a somewhat bigger hurdle to be accepted by the churches. I think those who received it knew very well who wrote it, he writes as if they know him and Timothy. I also suspect that Hebrews may have been a project of Paul that was interrupted by his untimely death and completed by Luke. But that's just my pet theory. Don't mess with it!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3