Support for Paul's authorship of Hebrews

Here was a question posed to Ken after the first class of the new Seven Letters from Eyewitnesses series, along with his answer.

Question:

Why does the church dispute the authorship of Hebrews? What are they afraid of? Personally, when I read any of Paul's epistles, then go into reading Hebrews, it's clear to me, that he is the author. I've read he didn't sign this letter because it was directed to the Jews. He was more concerned about the content being brought forth, than taking credit for the epistle.

Answer:

To answer your first question, I don't know why the "church" disputes Paul's authorship of Hebrews either. This attitude is relatively recent, since all of the King James Bibles published prior to about 1970 had the title "Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews" to introduce the letter. It is true that if one is looking for direct authorship linkage, neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John identifies its author specifically either. And yet they are not challenged by conservative scholars in the same way as Hebrews.

We could have a great discussion about why I am so convinced from internal biblical evidence that Paul was the author, but primarily I would point to four evidences.

First, Peter attributes a letter as written by Paul to the same audience that he addresses (the believing Jews) in II Peter 3:15-16, a letter that Peter considers "scriptures" and "hard to understand." That is certainly true of Hebrews.

Second, Paul uses the triplet of "faith, hope, love" in his letters, as best known in I Corinthians 13:13, but also in other letters as well. No other writer does this. Now consider the triplet in Hebrews 10:22 "faith," Hebrews 10:23 "hope," and Hebrews 10:24 "love" in the very same order. This is way beyond "coincidence," in my opinion.

Third, look at the closing blessing that is characteristic of all of Paul's letters (and not of any of the other apostles), basically stated as "Grace be with you" in Romans 16:24, I Corinthians 16:23, II Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 6:18, Ephesians 6:24, Philippians 4:23, Colossians 4:18, I Thessalonians 5:28, II Thessalonians 3:18, I Timothy 6:21, II Timothy 4:22, Titus 3:15, and Philemon 1:25. In fact, Paul says in II Thessalonians 3:17-18 that "This is the sign in every epistle: so I write." (I don't think he is talking about his own handwriting, but rather his "signature" blessing.) Now consider Hebrews 13:25 "Grace be with you all." In other words, Paul's letter to the Hebrews was only anonymous to those who hadn't read his other letters, ie, the Jewish believers at Jerusalem.

Fourth, Paul had every reason to write this letter to the Jewish believers at Jerusalem, mixed as they were with Judaistic influences in and out of the church. We know from Romans 9 that he had a heavy burden to minister to them. And he did so in Acts 22-23 and was soundly rejected. Afterward, he saw no hope of "converting" legalistic Judaism into true Christianity, so he wrote an anonymous letter to any of them who would listen, basically saying in Hebrews 13:9-14 "Get out!" Notice this letter was written from Italy, where Paul was imprisoned for the uproar he caused in Jerusalem.

Why the church gives more credence to the external "evidences" of modern skeptic scholars than to the internal evidences that God gives in his word is attributable only to the huge measure by which humanism and rationalism have affected the minds of God's people. I see this phenomenon in every area of life and thought in which I have discussions with Christians today.