Did Paul Write Hebrews?

Last Sunday I preached on the introduction to the book of Hebrews. In my studies I did a bunch of research on determining the author of this famous NT epistle. Honestly, we can’t be certain. But over the centuries there has been considerable discussion on whether or not Paul wrote Hebrews. Here are some of my notes on reasons for and against Pauline authorship of Hebrews.

Reasons for Pauline Authorship:

  1. He mentions Timothy…and refers to him as “our brother” just as Paul does elsewhere in the NT: (Hebrews 13:23; 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, Philemon 1).

  2. He uses the uniquely Pauline “Faith, Hope, Love” triad: (Hebrews 10:22-24)

  3. The author closes this book with the uniquely Pauline, “Grace…with…you.” (Hebrews 13:25)

  4. He makes very similar logic…and uses a fortiori (lesser-to-greater) arguments to make his points. (ex. Hebrews 2:2-3)

  5. The dominant view in Church history is that Paul is the author (note the title of this letter in the KJV, “The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews”).

  6. Most of the earliest Christians (that we know of) believed Paul to be the author.

Reasons against Pauline Authorship:

  1. The OT citations in Hebrews are drawn primarily from the LXX (septuagint: Greek version of the OT)…while Paul more typical draws from the Hebrew OT.

  2. The language and style of Hebrews is much different than the writing of the epistles that bear Paul’s name.

  3. Paul does not identify himself as the author, which elsewhere he says is a “sign of genuineness in every letter of mine” (2 Thessalonians 3:17).

  4. Paul is an eyewitness of the risen Lord and did not receive his revelation from men (Galatians 1:12), but the author of Hebrews seems to identify himself as a second generation Christian. (Hebrews 2:3).

  5. Paul elsewhere clearly identifies himself as the apostle to the Gentiles…not to the Hebrews. (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 2:8, Ephesians 3:1).

If Paul did write Hebrews, then why does it sound so different?

Even those who hold to Pauline authorship of Hebrews have to admit that the language its author uses (particularly evident in Greek) is very different than how Paul writes his other letters. Eusebius and Clement of Alexandria propose that perhaps Paul first wrote this letter in Hebrew (omitting his name, for the sake of modesty) and that Luke translated it into Greek. This could be why the style was so different.

If Paul did write Hebrews, then why doesn’t he sign his name?

One proposed reason for why Paul did not sign his name to this letter was offered up by Matthew Henry (who attributes this letter to him:

“And though it has been objected that, since Paul put his name to all his other epistles, he would not have omitted it here; yet others have well answered that he, being the apostle of the Gentiles, who were odious to the Jews, might think fit to conceal his name, lest their prejudices against him might hinder them from reading and weighing it as they ought to do.”