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by William Baxter Godbey
PROLOGUE TO VOLUME 2.
When I acquiesced in the importunate clamor of the Holiness people to write a Commentary on the New Testament, I felt that the Lord wanted me to begin at the mouth of the Gospel River and go up. Consequently I wrote Volume I. on Revelation. Other commentators have all sailed down the river. But as full salvation has plenty of steam, we Can well afford to sail up stream. In this volume we expound Hebrews, Peter, James, John, and Jude.
As the reader will have the Scriptures constantly under his eye, I have only quoted salient passages, needing explanation, making my own translation from the Sinaitic Greek (the oldest manuscript), by Tischendorf, the highest New Testament authority. While reading these books, keep your Bible open before you. If I should quote all of the text, it would add immensely to the size and cost of the volume.
The author’s name is not found in this book. Consequently, we are utterly at sea with reference to the writer. It was never assigned to Paul till about 500 years ago, when the Roman Catholics first Classified it in the Pauline series. Much investigation, and a vast diversity of opinion in reference to its authorship, have prevailed among the critics. I do not think Paul wrote this letter.
1. All of the other letters assigned to Paul contain his name. Consequently, I think he would have given his name in this one if he had written it.
2. It is not the Pauline style, which is exceedingly plain, clear and logical, whereas this letter is diffuse, florid and eloquent.
3. In all of Paul’s letters he evolves the plan of salvation out of the Abrahamic covenant. In Hebrews it is evolved out of the high priesthood of Christ.
I believe with Dean Alford, the prince of English Critics, that Apollos wrote it.
1. It is literally crowded full of the Judaic institutions. This would harmonize with the authorship of Apollos, as he was educated at Alexandria, Egypt, at that time the greatest literary emporium on the globe. Under the patronage of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Old Testament had been translated into Greek, B.C. 290, for the convenience of his Jewish subjects.
2. Apollos was the most eloquent man in the world during the apostolic age, whereas Paul avowedly discarded eloquence. 1 Corinthians 2:4. This Hebrew letter is transcendently eloquent.
Of course the reader understands the utter insignificance of the whole question appertaining to human authorship, since the letter is actually indicted by the Holy Ghost. Consequently we should not consider it the revelation of Paul, or Apollos, or any other man, to the Hebrews, but God’s letter straight from heaven to us. These Hebrews were the Palestinian Christians who had passed out of the Mosaic into the gospel dispensation under the preaching of Christ and the apostles. They not only suffered a terrible persecution by the Jewish church, but incessant and most powerful temptations to return to the so-called religion of Moses and the prophets.
Though God had raised up the Jewish church through the inspired leadership of Abraham, Moses Joshua, and all the holy prophets, the good old people had died and gone to heaven, and new generations succeeded them, who had never known God in His saving power. Consequently, the church, with its membership and pastors, had degenerated into dead formality and torpid hypocrisy; so they signally failed to recognize their own Christ when, after the fond expectancy of four thousand years, He appeared on the earth.
Therefore, instead of receiving Him with jubilant enthusiasm, they not only ignored Him, but actually repudiated and crucified Him. The true Church of God is identical in all ages, and under all dispensations, and in all nations, simply consisting of God’s family on the earth, entered by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, and matured by the sanctification of the Spirit. Therefore, these Palestinian Christians, though denounced by the pastors and church members as come-outers and heretics, were the true and orthodox nucleus of God’s Church, perpetuated out of Judaism into Christianity. The great end of this letter is to fortify those Palestinian Christians against the incessant and overwhelming temptations to apostatize into fallen Judaism and to edify them in the great climacteric Bible truth of Christian perfection. If Paul wrote the letter we know that he was abundantly competent for the responsible duty of elucidating and enforcing the great doctrine of entire sanctification.
The case is equally obvious if Apollos wrote it, as we know he received the sky-blue experience of sanctification under the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Acts 18:26. Hence we learn from this letter that the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification constitute the only available breakwater against apostasy.
The argument for the Apollonian authorship of this book has decidedly grown on me during my dictations to the amanuensis. I am satisfied Dean Alford, the prince of English critics, corroborated by the brightest critical lights of both continents, is correct in the assignment of Hebrews to Apollos. The argumentative trend throughout evolves the plan of salvation from the high-priesthood of Christ; whereas Paul in all of his epistles develops it out of the Abrahamic covenant.
Apollos was brought up at Alexandria, Egypt, the greatest literary emporium on the globe. Besides the wonderful familiarity evinced by the author in every ramification of Levitical lore, Mosaic theology and Judaic institutions, this letter is actually the highest type of eloquence in the Bible, strikingly corroborating the Apollonian authorship, as he was the most eloquent man in the Apostolic Church; whereas as Paul not only depreciated but utterly discarded eloquence throughout all of his writings, exhibiting nothing but hard, plain style and sledge-hammer logic.
Suffice it to say, the plenary inspiration of the Scripture forever annihilates the importance of human authorship. Hence, when you read this wonderful epistle, do not feel that it is the communication of Apollos, Paul, or some other saint, to the Palestinian disciples, but that it is sweet and glorious love-letter of your heavenly Father, straight from the throne to you.
“The God of peace, who raised up from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, in every good thing to do His will, doing that which is acceptable in His sight among us, through Jesus Christ our Lord: to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory forever. Amen.”
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29