by Matthew Poole
Some few Greek copies not having the name of the apostle Paul prefixed to this Epistle, though most of them have, hath made many doubt concerning the writer of it, as others, especially heretics, of its authority. The conjectures of those who ascribe it to Barnabas, Luke, or Clemens, &c. seem groundless; since the character the Holy Ghost gives of its penman, and his state, in Hebrews 10:34, and Hebrews 13:19, Hebrews 13:23, is not agreeable to any of them. This is most certain, that the apostle Paul did write such an Epistle; that it was well known to the dispersed churches of Christ then; that it was abused by men of corrupt minds, as it is at this day, since the Spirit gives us undeniable testimony of it in 2 Peter 3:15-16. That this Epistle should be it, (when it is so like the rest of his writings; when it is strongly confirming the truth the apostle Peter had written to them, Hebrews 6:2, Hebrews 10:26-27; when it is so expressive of his condition in bonds, Hebrews 10:34, Hebrews 13:19, Colossians 4:18, of his known companion Timothy, Hebrews 13:23, Colossians 1:1, of his love to, and concern for, those to whom he writes, Romans 9:1-3, Romans 10:1 , and of his known doctrine, that Judaism had its completion in Christianity; that the veil was rent asunder, that they might discern the temple or church to be laid open to Gentiles as well as Jews, as at Antioch, Galatia, &c., he tanght them; besides, that it hath the signal by which he declareth all his Epistles are to be known, Hebrews 13:25, compare 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18, and the general consent of the church through the successive ages of it, entitling of him to it), I say, that this Epistle should be it, seems not difficult to determine. It is conjectured that the reason why he prefixed not his name to it, as to the rest of his Epistles, was, lest the great prejudice the Jews had causelessly taken up against him, as an enemy to the Mosaical law, would prevent their reading or weighing of it as they ought. It is directed by him to the dispersed tribes of believing Israel, under the name of Hebrews, being the common one of all the posterity of Heber by Abraham, both which patriarchs were great separatists from the idolatrous world in their respective ages, and in whose families the church of God was continued; a name grateful to them, because the Lord honoured it by adding it to his title, Exodus 3:18, and ascribed it to their progenitor, Genesis 14:13, of a natural descent from whom they were most fond, John 8:33, 2 Corinthians 11:22. And the apostle Peter confirmeth these to be the persons, 1 Peter 1:1-2; compare 2 Peter 1:1, 2 Peter 3:15. Written this was in the Greek language, as his other Epistles, it being then the most diffusive dialect in the world, and especially the common one of these Hebrews, Acts 6:1, as Josephus himself testifieth; though the Greek idioms themselves, and the translation of other words in the Epistle, show it abundantly. For the time of his writing it to them, most likely it was after his appearing before the emperor Nero at Rome, 2 Timothy 4:16,17, during his liberty, Acts 28:30 , upon Timothy's dismission to them, Hebrews 13:23, and before the first of the ten bloody persecutions, Hebrews 12:4, about the same year wherein he despatched other of his Epistles to the churches.
First: He instructs them in the transcendent excellency of his person and offices; in respect of his Deity, Hebrews 1:1-14; of his humanity exceeding angels, Hebrews 2:1-18; as a Prophet exceeding Moses, Hebrews 3:1-4:13; as a Priest exceeding Aaron, Hebrews 4:14-5:9; as a King and Priest exceeding Melchisedec, Hebrews 5:10, to Hebrews 7:28.
the Second Week after Easter