WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF HEBREWS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Various church fathers and theologians down through the ages have speculated as to the writer of the book of Hebrews. Tertullian thought Barnabas wrote Hebrews. Martin Luther believed it was Apollos. Some have suggested that Luke was its writer. Certain Bibles have titled the book “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.” Many believe Paul wrote Hebrews. Is there any way to definitively identify (or exclude) Paul as the writer of the book of Hebrews? Does it really matter whether or not Paul wrote Hebrews?
In this, our special edition 150th Bible Q&A study, we will consider the above questions. We aim to survey the book of Hebrews in order to shed some light on its writer’s identity. The following treatise is the fruit of several years of prayerful and thoughtful Bible study. It is a very in-depth, and yet, a very enlightening, study. Dear reader, may you use this article to learn what most Bible readers never grasp in their whole lives. The information contained therein is so greatly needed about a topic so many have confused. It is with great urgency that we send it out to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! May you, dear reader, search and see the Bible for yourself, and not take my word for anything.
SECTION I. PAUL AND “UNLUCKY” NUMBER THIRTEEN?
To begin, I think it important to point out that, a famous preacher, a sufferer of triskaidekaphobia, once claimed that it was “unlucky” for Paul to have written only 13 Bible books. Hence, this superstitious “brother” believed that Paul wrote a fourteenth book, the book of Hebrews. Dear friends, an espousal to such a belief is not done in faith. It is superstition, plain and simple, and we are not superstitious. We are Bible believers. We need to appeal to the internal evidence of Hebrews, not some external fantasy, as to identify the book’s human writer. Verses believed in order to validate or nullify an idea, provide a much better foundation for our Christian life than opinions and hunches.
SECTION II. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS FOCUSED ON “THE WORLD TO COME”
We read in Hebrews 2:3-5: “ 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;  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?  For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”
As we can clearly see, the book of Hebrews says that it describes the “world to come” (verse 5). It involves Israel’s future redemption and restoration. Hebrews does not involve “but now” (Ephesians 2:13)—“but now” is our dispensation, the age in which we live. Hebrews focuses on the early Acts period (during which Paul/Saul was still lost), early Acts involving the beginning of the last days of Israel’s program (see Acts 2:17; cf. Hebrews 1:2). The teachings in the book of Hebrews are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John). Paul, however, did not know Jesus Christ after the flesh: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). Paul did not base his ministry on Christ’s earthly ministry. Paul’s apostleship and ministry were in no way connected with Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John) or Peter and the 11’s ministries (the early part of the book of Acts). Paul’s ministry is Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (see Acts 26:19).
SECTION III. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS HAD BEEN TAUGHT DOCTRINE SECOND-HAND
As we saw in Hebrews 2:3 just moments earlier, the writer of Hebrews received second-hand information from the apostles: “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;” Paul never received second-hand information from the 12. According to Galatians 1:11-12, the Lord Jesus taught Paul directly: “ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Notice what Paul wrote when he discussed how he met with Israel’s apostles in Jerusalem: “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me” (Galatians 2:6). The 12 apostles did not teach Paul anything. In fact, if you further study Galatians chapter 2, you will learn that Paul taught them something. He taught them the further revelation and advancement of God’s purpose and plan. You can also see Acts chapter 15.
SECTION IV. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS WAS OUTSIDE OF ISRAEL’S APOSTLESHIP
Hebrews 2:3-5 helps us one more to rule out individuals who did not write Hebrews: “ 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;  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?”
Notice how the writer of Hebrews refers to people who heard Jesus in His earthly ministry as “them that heard him.” The writer of Hebrews says that what “they” heard “we” heard from them. In other words, the writer of Hebrews is someone who was not present in Matthew through John. Someone present during Christ’s earthly ministry taught doctrine to the writer of the book of Hebrews. Concerning the penning of the book of Hebrews, we can rule out Peter, James, John, et cetera. All of Israel’s 12 apostles can be eliminated as possible writers of Hebrews. The 12 continued throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry. They would not need to hear that information secondhand because they had heard Him firsthand. They had witnessed all those miracles firsthand.
SECTION V. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS DID NOT SIGN HIS NAME
Some have stated that Paul wrote Hebrews without including his name. They say that Paul did not sign his name to Hebrews because the Jews did not like him. It is their contention that, had Paul added his name to the epistle, the Jews would have been thus “turned off” to reading Hebrews. Is this plausible? Could Paul have written Hebrews and just intentionally left off his name so that the Jews would be more accepting of the epistle? This scenario is impossible for two reasons.
Firstly, Paul concluded 2 Thessalonians 3:17: “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.” And he closed Colossians 4:18 with: “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.” Paul never wrote anything without signing his name to it, either before or after. Romans, the two Corinthian epistles, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, the two Thessalonian epistles, the two epistles to Timothy, the epistle to Titus, and the epistle to Philemon—all of these epistles begin with the name, “Paul.” Unlike the books of Romans through Philemon, the book of Hebrews neither begins nor ends with Paul’s name. If Paul claimed that he signed every epistle he wrote, and there is no name signed to the book of Hebrews, we have to conclude Paul did not write Hebrews. Would Paul say he signed every epistle he wrote, but then break his word and write an epistle without signing his name? That would be duplicitous, and certainly not characteristic of an apostle of Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews simply begins with the name “God.” Ultimately, the author of Hebrews was God the Holy Ghost; the human writer is anonymous. God purposefully withheld the name of the human instrument He used.
Secondly, regardless of who wrote it or spoke it, an unbelieving Jew wanted nothing to do with God’s Word. The unbelieving nation of Israel refused to hear from Apostles James, Peter, John, et cetera, in early Acts. Apostate Israel did not like Jesus Christ, either in His earthly ministry or in His apostles’ ministries in early Acts. Unbelieving Israel considered Jesus a fraud. Period. Just look at how violently Israel’s leadership reacted when Stephen rebuked them for killing Jesus (Acts chapter 7). After his great sermon documenting their history of unbelief, the Jews mercilessly stoned their fellow Jew, Stephen, to death! Paul leaving his name off Hebrews because the Jews would reject it, is not persuasive. Its writer aside, the contents alone of the book of Hebrews is unpleasant to someone who refuses to accept Jesus as Messiah. The book of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the fulfillment of the Old Testament economy. If the omission of Paul’s name from Hebrews was done in an effort to make the epistle more acceptable to Jews, should not God have also avoided mentioning Jesus as Christ in the epistle, too? Again, anyone who wrote Hebrews was offensive to apostate Israel because Hebrews itself contains offensive doctrine about Jesus Christ.
See, dear friends, the “incognito-Paul-wrote-Hebrews” idea is unfounded and actually fallacious. When someone says that Paul wrote Hebrews but that he deliberately wrote it anonymously so Israel would accept it, this person (however sincere) has an agenda. They will go to great lengths to hold to Paul’s writing of the book of Hebrews. They refuse to break away from a church tradition, and will grab at anything to prove their preconceived ideas. It should be pointed out that I used to hold to the idea that Paul wrote Hebrews but that he withheld his name to avoid Jewish opposition. Then, I took the time to study my Bible and prayerfully consider those verses. I came to a crossroads—I had to choose between traditions and Scripture. What did I do? I believed the Bible and I tossed out the rest! My church tradition was wrong and the Bible was right. It was a happy day in my Christian life when I came to that realization!
SECTION VI. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS WROTE WITH SOME PAULINE UNDERSTANDING
Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Prior to Paul’s ministry and message, the merits of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork being available to “every man”—that is, to both Jew and Gentile—was a secret. Until Paul, God had only been offering Jews salvation through Jesus Christ (Israel is the “my people” of Isaiah 53:8, the “thy [that is, Daniel’s] people” of Daniel 9:24, the “many” of Matthew 20:28 and Matthew 26:28, and the “you” of Luke 22:20). “Salvation is of the Jews,” the Lord Jesus Himself said in John 4:22.
Since the above is true, the book of Hebrews could not have been written until after Acts chapter 15 (circa A.D. 49-51), where Paul shared with James, Peter, and John, the doctrines that Jesus Christ had taught him post-resurrection and post-ascension (see Galatians 2:1-10). After the Apostle John learned it from Paul, John wrote, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Because Hebrews contains snippets of Pauline theology, some have erroneously concluded that Paul wrote Hebrews. In reality, 99 percent of the book of Hebrews is non-Pauline in its content. This observation leads us to understand that Paul did not write Hebrews. Still, we do admit that the writer of Hebrews had learned a portion of Paul’s doctrine from someone (like the writer of Hebrews, that person is also anonymous). The book of Hebrews thus adjusts Israel’s program in light of the Dispensation of Grace that God used to temporarily interrupt Israel’s program. After we pass through Paul’s epistles in the Bible’s canon, Hebrews follows. Hebrews is the first of the Bible’s final nine books to Israel, books whose doctrine will be valid after our Dispensation of Grace.
SECTION VII. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS WROTE PRE-A.D. 70
The Temple in Jerusalem was still operating when the book of Hebrews was written. Israel was still under the Law when Hebrews was written. Notice Hebrews 8:4: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:” And Hebrews 8:13: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” And Hebrews 10:11: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:” These are present tense verbs, meaning the Levitical priests were still offering sacrifices according to Moses. The armies of Rome destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple in A.D. 70., thus showing us that the book of Hebrews was written prior to A.D. 70.
SECTION VIII. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS KNEW TIMOTHY
The antepenultimate verse of Hebrews says: “Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you” (13:23). Since Paul and Timothy were together quite often on apostolic journeys (Acts chapter 16 and onward), some use this verse as another proof to say Paul wrote Hebrews. While Timothy was most definitely a helpful coworker of the Apostle Paul, Paul had many other ministry companions as well. It could have been one of these friends of Paul who wrote Hebrews. At that time, many believers called Timothy “brother.” In fact, Paul considered Timothy as a “son” (1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19-23; 1 Timothy 1:2,18; 2 Timothy 1:2) more often than he considered him a “brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Philemon 1). Therefore, Hebrews 13:23 is not definitive proof Paul wrote Hebrews.
SECTION IX. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS SAYS JESUS CHRIST IS HIS “APOSTLE”
The Bible says in Hebrews, chapter 3, verse 1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is whose Apostle? The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). The word “apostle” means “sent one.” The Greek word translated “sent” in Matthew 15:24 is apostello. Jesus Christ (in His earthly ministry) was sent to Israel (cf. Romans 9:5).
By the time Paul was saved, he was no longer a part of Israel. In fact, Paul himself said, “And last of all [the resurrected Jesus] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8). This is further explained in Galatians 1:15: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” In order to save Paul, God had to separate him from that apostate nation Israel and its vain religious system that he was advocating. As a saved man, saved apart from Israel’s program, Paul could no longer write that Jesus Christ was his Apostle (one sent to him). When Jesus Christ was sent to Israel, Paul was lost, and he was influential in killing Him and His followers. In other words, the writer of Hebrews was a member of the nation Israel. Upon salvation, Paul became a member of the Body of Christ, thus again excluding Paul as writer of Hebrews.
SECTION X. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS WROTE FROM ITALY
The penultimate verse in Hebrews says: “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you” (13:24). Since Paul was under house arrest in Rome, Italy at the close of the book of Acts (28:16,30), Paul would have most definitely been in Italy circa A.D. 60-62. But, does that mean Paul was the only one in Italy who could have written the book of Hebrews? Again, this does not conclusively prove that Paul wrote Hebrews. In fact, the writer of Hebrews may have been visiting Paul in his Roman prison. The writer of Hebrews may have actually been a prisoner with Paul (see Hebrews 13:19).
SECTION XI. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS TAUGHT WORKS-RELIGION
Hebrews 5:9 is a verse that greatly helped me out years ago regarding whether or not Paul wrote Hebrews: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Paul never preached such a message. The Apostle Paul preached and wrote that we receive the Holy Spirit by believing the Gospel not by “obeying God”/legalism/Acts 2:38’s repentance and water baptism (Romans 4:1-5; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; et cetera).
Hebrews 5:9 fits perfectly with what Peter and the 11 said in Acts 5:32: “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:9 agrees with what Peter preached in Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Hebrews 5:9 agrees perfectly with what Jesus taught in Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” This is all in perfect agreement with the words of James in the second chapter of his famous “faith and works” treatise. Hebrews 5:9 in no way belongs in this the Dispensation of Grace.
Had Paul wrote Hebrews 5:9, he would have been preaching one Gospel message to lost Israel and another Gospel message to Gentiles (us). In Paul’s ministry, there was one Gospel message, and whether Jew or Gentile, all were saved the same way in his ministry. There is no way Paul could have been an honest man and written Hebrews when he had already written opposing doctrine in epistles.
SECTION XII. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS STRESSED JESUS CHRIST’S HIGH PRIESTHOOD
Throughout the book of Hebrews, the high priesthood of Jesus Christ is stressed. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). Hebrews 4:14-15: “ Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Also Hebrews 7:26: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;” And Hebrews 8:1: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” Finally, Hebrews 10:21: “And having an high priest over the house of God;”
Never once did Paul write about Jesus’ priesthood in Romans through Philemon. Nowhere in Paul’s epistles do we read about Jesus Christ being our High Priest. The terminology of “High Priest” was something a Jewish person would understand and appreciate, knowing full well that the Mosaic Law appointed high priests. Hebrews teaches how Jesus Christ’s priesthood is better than the Levitical priesthood. Would Gentiles—who did not have the Levitical priesthood—need to hear such information? Of course not. Again, the doctrine of Hebrews does not belong in our Dispensation of Grace.
SECTION XIII. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS CALLED JESUS CHRIST A “SHEPHERD”
Hebrews 13:20 says, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,….” Never once, however, did Paul ever call Jesus Christ our “Shepherd.” The writer of Hebrews used language similar to Peter’s writing: “ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:1-4). These verses are a continuation of what Jesus Christ said in John chapter 10 about Him being Israel’s Shepherd. The “Old Testament” Scriptures, which are undoubtedly Jewish, make reference to JEHOVAH God (whose human form is Jesus Christ) as Israel’s “Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1; Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Zechariah 13:7; et cetera).
SECTION XIV. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS EXPECTED TO BE SAVED ACCORDING TO “THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT”
We read in Hebrews 13:20-21: “ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,  Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The writer of the book of Hebrews says that Israel would be saved according to the New Covenant (ratified by Jesus Christ’s shed blood; see Hebrews 10:1-22). Never once did Paul minister to any Jews on the basis of the New Covenant. Israel’s program had already fallen by Acts chapter 7, before Paul had even begun his ministry. We can check the book of Acts and all of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, to learn there were no covenants associated with Paul’s ministry (note Ephesians 2:11-22). Salvation in Paul’s ministry was always dependent upon the non-prophesied Gospel of the Grace of God (see Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:38-41, which is totally silent about any covenant salvation). The prophetic program involved covenants; our mystery program involves no such covenants.
SECTION XV. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS EXPECTED TO BE “RESTORED” TO ISRAEL
Hebrews 13:18-19 says: “ Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.  But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.” The latter clause appears to be the words of someone writing from prison (cf. Hebrews 10:34). (It should be remembered there were many believers in prison at that time, so imprisonment does not automatically make Paul the writer.) For the writer to be expecting to be restored to Israel, to be released from prison so that he could return to ministering to Israel, does not sound like Paul’s writings. Paul had a ministry to all people, all nations, from the very beginning of his ministry (Acts 9:15-16; Acts 26:15-18). From Acts chapter 15 (cf. Galatians chapter 2) onward, Paul agreed not to minister to Israel’s little flock. In light of that, Paul certainly would not have been writing Hebrews. Again, someone in Israel’s program, someone who was also a member of the nation Israel, wrote the book of Hebrews. It could not have been Paul.
SECTION XVI. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS WAITED FOR GOD’S KINGDOM TO COME
Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” This is reminiscent of the petition uttered in the “Our Father” Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Paul was not waiting for the New Jerusalem to come. That would be a believing Jew’s hope in Israel’s program. As a member of the Body of Christ, Paul would be waiting to go up to heaven (see 2 Timothy 4:18). Members of the Body of Christ have a hope to enter God’s heavenly kingdom. Members of Israel’s little flock have a hope of having God’s kingdom come down to them on Earth! See Revelation 21:1ff.
SECTION XVII. THE WRITER OF HEBREWS HAD EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE JEWISH RELIGION
Hebrews is strictly a Jewish book. So much so that it has been commonly called the “New Testament Leviticus.” The book of Hebrews makes many references to the Covenant of Law—its Levitical priesthood, its Tabernacle, its animal sacrifices, et cetera. There is great detail regarding Old Testament events and many direct and indirect quotes from the Old Testament passages. The book of Hebrews highlights for Israel the superiority of Jesus Christ to Moses, the New Covenant to the Old Covenant, the Melchisedecian priesthood to the Levitical priesthood, Jesus Christ to angels, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary to the Law’s animal sacrifices, on and on we could go. What the book of Romans is to us, the book of Hebrews is to Israel. Hebrews explains the meaning of Calvary’s finished crosswork as it relates to the nation Israel. The book of Hebrews explains how God will do away with Israel’s old system and usher in a brand new way of dealing with His earthly people. Again, the book of Hebrews is in no way to or about the Church the Body of Christ. It is in no way a reference to anything occurring in this the Dispensation of Grace.
SECTION XVIII. NO SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT PAUL WROTE HEBREWS
There is no evidence in Scripture that Paul wrote Hebrews. It is a common view supported by church tradition but no Scripture substantiates the claim. Various suggestions have been made as to the writer of Hebrews—Apollos, John Mark, Luke, Barnabas, to name a few. As we pointed out earlier, what is important is that “God” wrote Hebrews (1:1).
SECTION XIX. WHAT ABOUT 2 PETER 3:15-16?
I have heard some teach that Paul wrote Hebrews because of what the Apostle Peter penned in 2 Peter 3:15-16. We will look at the passage in question: “ And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Indeed, Peter says Paul wrote to Jews. Still, this passage could not be a reference to Hebrews because nothing in Hebrews is too hard for Peter to understand. Whatever Paul was writing, Peter admitted he did not understand it. Peter understood Jewish religion. He knew the “Old Testament” Scriptures. Peter knew those passages about the New Covenant, the Messiah’s earthly ministry and priesthood, the Old Testament accounts of Abraham, Noah, Abel, Isaac, et cetera. Jesus Christ, post-resurrection, took His apostles aside and taught the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him (Luke 24:44-48; Acts 1:3). Surely, Peter understood the contents of the book of Hebrews. The Holy Spirit came in Acts chapter 2 and guided Israel’s apostles “into all truth” (John 16:13). Nothing concerning Israel’s purpose and program was hidden from her apostles. However, the information about our purpose and program, that mystery doctrine was hidden from them. They had to learn that secret information from Paul once God revealed it to him. Note that Peter wrote that the wisdom under discussion was given to Paul, not to Peter (2 Peter 3:15).
Second Peter 3:15-16 is likely a reference to the contents of the book of Romans, which talks about the “longsuffering of God” in chapters 9-11. Moreover, Paul wrote letters that were not Scripture. We read of one such letter in 1 Corinthians 5:9. Peter may have been making reference to a non-canonical letter of Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, but according to Peter, the information was roughly the same as what is found in Romans chapters 9-11. These three chapters of Romans deal with Israel’s past, present, and future statuses before God. God is postponing Israel’s program so that more people can be saved into the Church the Body of Christ. God is not pouring out His wrath (the next event on Israel’s timeline) so that more people can escape it. Our Dispensation of Grace is withholding Israel’s program from continuing. It was this that Peter and the scoffers of his day could not understand (see 2 Peter 3:1-16).
SECTION XX. THE DANGERS IN BELIEVING AND TEACHING PAUL WROTE HEBREWS
Does it really matter whether or not we believe Paul wrote Hebrews? Are we “splitting hairs” in bringing up the matter? Must we be dogmatic about it? Certainly, it is a serious matter. I have come to understand that it does matter what we believe about the book of Hebrews. Let me explain.
People who claim that Paul wrote Hebrews often urge us to claim Israel’s blessings and promises. They teach that we are “spiritual Israel” (whatever that means!). If they believe that Acts chapter 2 is the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ, they usually believe Paul wrote Hebrews. If they want us to replace Israel, they usually believe Paul wrote Hebrews. Unfortunately for them, there is evidence to the contrary that Paul wrote Hebrews. Supposing there was no such evidence, Paul writing the book of Hebrews would not make it applicable to us anyway. The promises in Hebrews are to still to Jews and not to the Church the Body of Christ. It is the book of Hebrews, is it not? (See Galatians 3:28, which says the Body of Christ is composed of neither Jews nor Gentiles!) Those promises in Hebrews still apply to “the world to come,” not to the present-day. This has already been stated before, so the point will be belabored no more.
One of the most damaging results of accepting the notion that Paul wrote Hebrews, is when you begin to wonder if your troubles in life are the fulfillment of Hebrews 12:5-11. If our Apostle wrote this passage about divine chastisement, then it is our pattern, and we are destined to have a most miserable and insecure Christian life. However, if Paul did not write Hebrews, then it is not our pattern, and we would be foolish to relinquish our joy and peace in Christ in order to claim something God never gave us. Time and time again, Christians through the years have assumed that Hebrews 12:5-11 applied to them. They believed that their difficult circumstances were “God’s chastising hand” upon them. They believed God was getting even with them for unconfessed sin, unbelief, disobedience, et cetera. These poor people never had any peace. Religion robbed them of the clarity of God’s Word rightly divided. Many Christians today have been deceived in that regard.
My dear friends, let me give you some peace of mind. The “chastisement” of Hebrews 12:5-11 has a context. Hebrews 12:5-11 is not describing daily troubles in this the Dispensation of Grace. The quote is of Proverbs 3:11-12, an end-time passage designed to comfort believing Israel during the seven-year Tribulation period. Before Israel can be delivered from satanic bondage, the fifth course of chastisement prophesied in Leviticus chapter 26 must finish. It started back with the Babylonian captivity (606 B.C.), it paused when Saul of Tarsus was converted in Acts chapter 9, and it will resume and conclude after our dispensation ends. The last seven years of the fifth course of judgment will end with Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. Various verses in James (1:1-11; 4:1-16; 5:1-12) and 1 Peter (1:3-13; 3:13-16; 4:1-19; 5:6-10) and other passages talk about Israel being chastened during Daniel’s 70th week. For more about chastening and our Dispensation of Grace, see our study linked at the end of this article.
In light of the above verses, Paul could not have written the book of Hebrews. (Even if he did write it, Hebrews—note the name—is still Jewish in nature, and is in no way to or about the Church the Body of Christ and is in no way about anything God is doing in our Dispensation of Grace.)
The writer of Hebrews included himself with the nation Israel. After his conversion, Paul did not consider himself a member of Israel (1 Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 1:15). The writer of Hebrews anticipated Israel’s coming Messiah to establish God’s earthly kingdom. Paul anticipated a heavenly kingdom to which he would go.
Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews was not an apostle of Israel. He claimed to be someone who had heard information from Israel’s apostles (Hebrews 2:3-5). This would again eliminate Paul as a possible writer of the book of Hebrews. Galatians chapter 2 (cf. Acts chapter 15) is very clear that Israel’s apostles taught Paul nothing. On the contrary, Paul taught them doctrine. He brought them up-to-date to God’s current program. Someone in Israel’s program learned this doctrine from Paul, and then wrote it down, which is why some verses in the book of Hebrews exhibit Pauline influence.
Paul did not promote works-religion. The writer of the book of Hebrews taught works as part of salvation (see Hebrews 5:9). Hebrews uses terms to describe Jesus Christ that Paul never used to describe Jesus Christ in his epistles of Romans through Philemon. No one could reconcile these two people (Paul and the writer of Hebrews) as the same person—unless of course they have a tradition they refuse to abandon!
We have no way of precisely identifying the writer of Hebrews, but we can eliminate several individuals. We can say with certainty that Paul did not write Hebrews. There are too many verses in Hebrews that simply do not reflect Pauline theology and phraseology. In some places, Hebrews directly opposes what Paul wrote in the epistles definitively attributed to him. We can say with certainty that Timothy did not write Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 13:23). We can say with certainty that Peter and the 11 did not write Hebrews (Hebrews 2:3-5).
It is very dangerous to believe Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. You introduce abounding confusion into your Christian life. You confuse yourself with the nation Israel. You destroy the clarity of the rightly divided Word of God. It is best to simply acknowledge that Hebrews is a Jewish book to and about the nation Israel in the end-times portion of her program. Hebrews does not apply to us in the Dispensation of Grace. It is not to or about the Church the Body of Christ. The confusion concerning the writer of Hebrews is certainly another tactic of Satan to rob Christians of the knowledge of who they are in Jesus Christ. Hebrews is a most fascinating book, and we should study it to learn how Israel’s program will restart after our Dispensation of Grace, but we should not confuse ourselves with the book or its people.