Q&A: What We Can Learn About the Author of Hebrews

What We Can Learn About the Author of Hebrews

What kinds of things can we learn about the author of Hebrews from the contents of his letter?

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Answer

Although the epistle to the Hebrews never names its author, it actually does reveal a number of things that tell us about what this author is like. He's obviously one who is a master in understanding and interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures and showing how they come to fulfillment in Christ. His Greek style is polished, it's literary, and so, he's obviously very skilled as a writer in a beautiful way. In chapter 2, he groups himself along with his readers as a disciple of the original apostles; "Jesus spoke the word of salvation and then it was confirmed to us by those who heard." So, he's in a sense a second generation, although still perhaps living in the time well, would be living within the time of the apostles, but learned the gospel through others. He has a deep compassion for his readers. He knows them well. He knows their history. He can cite ways that they faced suffering early on in their Christian life. He knows what's going on now among them in terms of their weakness of faith, at least some of them. So, he writes with great compassion. He somehow is identified with Timothy because at the very end of the epistle he says that he hopes to visit them, and if Timothy can join him, the two of them will make a visit. So, they know him, he knows them. We don't know him personally, but they have a very close relationship.

Answer by Dr. Dennis E. Johnson

Dr. Dennis E. Johnson is Academic Dean and Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.