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Victor M. Eskew
A. All of the books of the New Testament are inspired and are profitable (II Tim. 3:16-17). Two or three books, however, seem to stand out among the others. Hebrews is one of them.
B. Hebrews can be linked together with both Romans and Revelation.
1. Romans proves the necessity of the gospel.
2. Hebrews proves the superiority of the gospel over the Law of Moses.
3. Revelation shows the ultimate triumph of those who live by the gospel.
C. The book of Hebrews is a book of encouragement.
1. Hebrews 13:22
And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
2. In the book, Christianity is presented as the “better” religion (Heb. 8:6).
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
3. In the book Christ is exalted as the supreme revelation of God. His role as the great high priest is developed in great detail.
D. In this lesson, we want to briefly introduce you to “The Epistle to the Hebrews.”
I. THE AUTHORSHIP
A. “Other than I John, the Epistle to the Hebrews is the only letter in the New Testament with no greeting or indication of it author” (Nelson, 551).
B. “There has been no shortage of suggestions concerning who the author may have been. The list includes Luke, Priscilla, Aquila, Clement of Rome, Silvanus, and Philip. The two most likely candidates are Apollos and Barnabas. Both have characteristics that commend them, Apollos because he was an eloquent Alexandrian Jew who knew the Scriptures well (Acts 18:24), and Barnabas because he was a Levite (Acts 4:36). As with other authors, however, these suggestions are only possibilities. The writer of the epistles remains anonymous” (Nelson, 553)
C. Robertson: “As a matter of fact we really do not know and possibly shall never know. Origen says that only God knows” (248).
D. Pauline authorship:
1. Many do not believe Paul was the author of Hebrews.
a. “It is highly doubtful, however, that Paul wrote Hebrews” (Nelson, 553).
b. “Paul still has advocates, though the bulk of modern opinion is against Pauline authorship” (Robertson, 248).
2. There are several reasons many refuse to accept Paul as the author.
a. He does not name himself.
b. The language, vocabulary, and style of Hebrews differ from Paul’s genuine letters (Nelson. 553).
c. Such typically Pauline expressions as “Christ Jesus,” “in Christ,” or “the Resurrection” are all but absent in Hebrews.
d. The writer of Hebrews does not approach subjects such as “faith” and “law” in the same way Paul does in his letter.
e. The statement in Hebrews 2:3 seems to indicate that the author was dependent upon those who heard the Lord, whereas Paul declares that he was dependent upon no man for his teachings (Gal. 1:11-12).
f. The writer of Hebrews quotes the Septuagint throughout…whereas Paul uses both the Hebrew and the Septuagint.
3. The arguments for Pauline authorship.
a. External evidence (Thiessen)
1) Dionysius of Alexandria quotes Hebrews as an Epistle of Paul.
2) According to Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria held that Paul wrote the Epistle in Hebrew and that Luke translated it.
3) Origen repeatedly cites it as by Paul.
4) Athanasius included it among the fourteen Epistles of Paul. From Athanasius onward Greek writers universally ascribed it to Paul.
b. Internal evidence
1) Paul was imminently qualified to write the book (Acts 22:3).
2) The writer refers to Timothy (Heb. 13:23).
Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
3) The writer centers upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.
4) There are affinities in the language and thought between Hebrews and the recognized Pauline epistles.
Hebrew 1:4 Philippians 2:9
Hebrews 2:2 Galatians 3:19
Hebrews 2:10 Romans 11:36
Hebrews 7:18 Romans 8:3
Hebrews 7:27 Ephesians 5:2
Hebrews 8:13 II Corinthians 3:11
Hebrews 10:33 I Corinthians 4:9
Hebrews 11:13 Ephesians 2:19
Hebrews 12:22 Galatians 4:25-26
II. THE RECIPIENTS
A. The author “assumes an exclusively Jewish point of view in the minds of his readers as his major premise” (Ress as quoted by Thiessen, 301).
1. There is no reference to Gentiles or Gentile controversies in the Epistle.
2. Abraham is a prominent character of the book (Heb. 2:16; 7:4; 11:11-12).
3. The recipients had heard the gospel from the immediate disciples of Christ (Heb. 2:3) and had witnessed the signs, wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:4).
4. They had a deep knowledge of Jewish persons, institutions, and practices.
B. The recipients of the book seem to have been a church in a specific locale.
a. They were exhorted to remember, obey, and submit to their rulers (Heb. 13:7, 17).
b. The writer hoped to visit them (Heb. 13:19, 23).
2. Many believe the book was written to the church in the city of Jerusalem.