Q&A: Hebrews' Authorship

Hebrews' Authorship

Who wrote the Book of Hebrews?

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Answer

Well, the question of who wrote Hebrews is probably the question that I get asked most often. Since the earliest days of the church, this has been a mystery. In fact, Origen said, in about 215 A.D., a famous quote that's been circulating now for centuries. He said, as to who wrote Hebrews, only God knows who wrote Hebrews. Many suggestions have been made: we've got Pricilla, we've got Luke, we've got Barnabas, we've got Apollos, of course, Paul. And down through the centuries of the church, Paul has arguably been the most popular. That was because he was tied to the book in order to get it one of the things that was used in order to get it into the canon.

And so, based on what we know, particularly as we compare Paul and Hebrews and how they rise, the usage of the Greek, rhetorical style, things like that, we can say with quite a bit of confidence that it's not Paul. They just say things differently, use words differently, argue differently, speak about the same things quite differently. And so, people say, "Well then, who wrote it?" Well, I mean, I agree with Origen; God knows and that's sufficient for us. But we want to know who, we'd like to know who it was, who wrote it, but we have to be satisfied with knowing that it's fully-inspired, that God wrote it ultimately through some pastor in the first century, and yes, that's been posited for hundreds of years as Apollos or someone like him. Based on what we know about Apollos, he perhaps fits the bill, but we certainly can't argue that with certainty. We just have to be content that it's inspired, the Lord has given it to us and is a tremendous gift as one of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.

Answer by Dr. Barry Joslin

Dr. Barry Joslin is Associate Professor of Christian Theology and Program Coordinator, Biblical and Theological Studies at Boyce College