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ZondervanCopyright © 2002 George H. Guthrie
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Chapter OneWho Wrote Hebrews?
Unlike most other New Testament works, the book of Hebrews does not reveal the identity of its author. Since the second century, people have loved to speculate concerning that identity. The early church fathers were mixed in their opinion on the matter. Scholars of the eastern part of the Mediterranean world often suggested that the apostle Paul wrote the book. Scholars in the West, focused in Rome, argued against that opinion. Even those who held to Pauline authorship, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, recognized that the style of the book differs sharply from Paul's writings.
Today few scholars of any theological tradition hold to Pauline authorship for the following reasons. (1) Many of the book's images, theological motifs, and terms are not found in the Pauline literature. For instance, the image of Christ as high priest is unique to Hebrews, and 169 words used in Hebrews are not used anywhere else in the New Testament. (2) The author introduces his quotations of the Old Testament in a different manner from what Paul normally does. Paul usually uses the phrase, "It is written"; Hebrews, following the style of sermons in the Greek-speaking, Jewish synagogues of the Mediterranean world, introduces scriptural quotations with some form of God speaking (e.g., "he says").(3) Finally, the author of Hebrews depicts himself as having received the gospel from the original witnesses commissioned by the Lord (2:3), and, in light of his often-made assertions to the contrary, it is difficult to imagine Paul making such a statement!
Through the centuries other names have been put forward, such as Luke, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Jude, Apollos, Philip, Silvanus, and Priscilla. What do we know about the author who wrote this intriguing book?
* Hebrews IMPORTANT FACTS:
AUTHOR: Unknown, but someone like Apollos.
DATE: Approximately A.D. 64-66.
To address the problem of apostasy among the recipients.
To bolster the resolve of Christians facing persecution.
To challenge the believers to move on to maturity, in terms of theological understanding and practical obedience.
To address friction between the members of the church and their leaders.
1. God has spoken and we should obey him.
2. God has spoken ultimately in the person and work of his Son.
3. The Son is incarnate and exalted.
4. The high-priestly ministry of the Son is manifested through his death and exaltation.
5. The Son's person and work form a superior basis for perseverance in the face of trial.
6. There are terrible consequences for those who reject the salvation provided by the Son's person and work.
Excerpted from Hebrews, James Copyright © 2002 by George H. Guthrie. Excerpted by permission.
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