The book of Hebrews, while in the New Testament, was not written “to” Christians as doctrine for the Church Age. It was written to, you guessed it, the Hebrews.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:20 (KJV)
As Bible believers, we maintain and teach that whatever questions are raised in the reading of the King James Bible will also be answered in the reading of the King James Bible. And no, not by “going to the Greek and Hebrew” for more “light”. You don’t speak, read or write any of those languages so why would you go looking for answers there? God has preserved His word in English, the last, great universal world language, for an English-speaking people. Now before you open up Outlook to fire us off an email for berate us for our “narrow mindedness”, just remember that God the Holy Spirit wrote the Old Testament in Hebrew to the exclusion of every other known language, and He wrote the New Testament in Greek to the exclusion of every other known language. God’s way is and will always be the narrow way.
The whole Bible written for us, but the whole Bible not written to us
Further, we understand as Bible believers that while God meant the whole Bible to be “for” us, He certainly did not mean for the whole Bible be written “to” us. The Church is not Israel and Israel in not the Church. Promises made to Israel and the Jews remain their property no matter how far away they may slide away from God. When we steal promises God makes to His chosen people and try to apply them to the Christian Church, that’s called Replacement Theology, and it is unbiblical as well as being demonic.
With the foundation clearly laid, the question before us is this: does the Bible reveal the author of the book of Hebrews? This answer is yes, we believe it does.
The book of Hebrews, while in the New Testament, was not written “to” Christians as doctrine for the Church Age. It was written to, you guessed it, the Hebrews, though it is a rich treasure trove of spiritual application for Church Age saints. And as you read Hebrews, in chapter after chapter it becomes quite clear who the author is addressing. He is talking to Jews, under the Law, and he makes his case by reminding them of their chosen people lineage and comparing and contrasting that with the risen Lord Jesus Christ:
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” Hebrews 3:1-3 (KJV)
The writer of Hebrews pleads with his Jewish audience to not reject Jesus Christ the way their fathers provoked God in the Exodus from Egypt:
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Hebrews 3:12,15 (KJV)
Certainly the writer is not addressing gentile, Greek-speaking Christians, he is talking to Jews. In fact, the writer of the book of Hebrews seems to have a genuine love and a sincere heart to see his fellow Jews get saved. Kinda reminds you of this:
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whoseare the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 9:1-5 (KJV)
Those verses from Romans written by the apostle Paul match the tenor of Hebrews quite closely, we could make a pretty good case for Paul as the author of Hebrews. But if this was all we had to go on, it would be at best a circumstantial type of proof that would probably not hold up in court. Let’s continue.
In the tenth chapter of Hebrews, we come across a clue to the writer’s identity that, under close inspection, yields a bonanza of information about him. In verse 34 we find that the writer was in prison:
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” Hebrews 10:34 (KJV)
Now the field of possible candidates was just reduced to nearly a single possibility. Whoever was writing Hebrews was well-acquainted with the chain of imprisonment. Paul was the only apostle that had “prison epistles”. John was in exile on Patmos, but that is not the same as being chained in prison.
Since the writer of Hebrews uses the word “bonds” 3 times in Hebrews, lets do a quick search to see where else in the New Testament that word was used. We find the word “bonds” appearing 18 times in the New Testament.
- “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” Acts 20:22,23 (KJV)
- “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” Acts 26:28,29 (KJV)
- “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.” Colossians 4:18 (KJV)
The amazing thing is that every time they appear, not counting the 3 times in Hebrews, the word “bonds” was either written by Paul or about Paul. All 18 of them! We strongly urge you to pull all the references to bonds and study them in light of Hebrews, it will amaze you. And there is one verse that stands out so strongly it becomes virtually a proof-text for proving Paul was the writer of Hebrews:
“And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19,29 (KJV)
Did you see that? Not only does Paul own all the places in which the word appears, the Holy Spirit then tells us that he is so closely identified with being in prison chains that he is called the “ambassador in bonds”. Honestly, how much more proof do you require? Many scholars, so called, will attempt to argue authorship by saying “well, it doesn’t sound Pauline enough for it to be Paul”, and various other chestnuts like that only scholars can appreciate. But the Bible wasn’t written for scholars, it was written for the average person, in the Koine “street talk” of it’s day. So the clues are not hidden very deeply at all, a simple dose of 2 Timothy 2:15 sufficient to solve the problem.
Yes, there are many doctrinal differences between the book of Hebrews and all of Paul’s known writings. Paul, for example, teaches the doctrine of eternal security from Romans to Philemon, while the book of Hebrews teaches a works-plus-faith salvation. So when we rightly divide, we see that Hebrews as doctrine will be for the saints living in the time of Jacob’s trouble, a time in which salvation can be lost. Hebrews is clearly in line with Matthew 24, James, Jude and Revelation chapters 6 – 19.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit told Paul not to put his name on it to avoid confusing Christians living in our dispensation. Seems to me like a pretty good idea. And perhaps Paul was giving us a huge clue when we told us to “remember his bonds”.
“So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:13,14 (KJV)