the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Grant's Commentary on the Bible Grant's Commentary
by L.M. Grant
Compared with the subject matter, the question of who wrote this epistle is of little importance; for it deals with the revelation of God's glory in the Person of Christ, and the far-reaching value and significance of His mighty work of redemption. Yet it seems beyond doubt that Paul was the writer, for it is written from Italy, and Timothy, a close companion of Paul, mentioned as expected to travel with the writer (Ch. 13:23, 24). The style and matter of the epistle too can point to no other known writer than the apostle to the gentiles. That he should so write to Hebrews need be no surprise to us either, for despite his special mission, it was his habit in every city he visited, to offer the Gospel to Jews first. Moreover, the object of the epistle is to separate Jewish believers to the Lord Jesus, from the system of Judaism. Peter also speaks of Paul's having written to Jewish believers (2 Peter 3:15-16), and no other epistle than this could fit his description.
The profound logic and orderly, discerning arguments of the epistle find a similarity only in the book of Romans; both books similarly also quoting copiously from the Old Testament, in adducing proofs of the truth of Christianity. But Hebrews, in contrast to Romans, comments extensively upon the priesthood and tabernacle service in Israel, specially dwelling upon the spiritual significance of the great day of atonement. This of course would be of vital consequence to Hebrews. not so to Gentile Romans.
Appropriately, the title, "Hebrews" is used rather than "Jews." The former word means "passengers," and denotes pilgrim character. Should Hebrews then object to passing onward from one dispensation of God to another, when the evidence is clear that this great change of dispensation is wrought by the eternal God, who first instituted Judaism?
If justification before God is the great theme of Romans, sanctification is characteristically that of Hebrews. The former delivers fully from the bondage, guilt, and stigma of our former condition, and provides a position of righteous dignity before the throne of God. The latter dwells upon the value of the great atonement by which conscience is purged and the soul set apart from a former vain existence, and brought into the immediate presence of God, there to worship in holy boldness.
It may be remarked that quotations, which differ from the authorized version, are usually taken from the New Translation.