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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Hebrews

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13

Book Overview - Hebrews

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE EPISTLE OF HEBREWS

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - The Perseverance of the Saints (from Persecutions without)

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name"s sake:

but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 10:22

Structural Theme - The High Priesthood of Jesus Christ

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,

consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 3:1

Imperative Theme - Holding Fast our Confession of Faith in Jesus By Resting in His Mercy and Grace (Perseverance of the Heart)

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,

lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:11

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;

(for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:23

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF HEBREWS

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Epistle of Hebrews - The early Jewish Christians faced a tremendous amount of persecutions from the Jews as well as the Romans , which is clearly mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews ( Hebrews 10:32-34; Hebrews 12:4). Jewish synagogues were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, and those members who converted over to Christianity were not left unnoticed. Their Jewish families and friends became their greatest adversaries. Philip Schaff summarizes the Jewish hatred against Christians by saying that they had crucified Jesus Christ, stoned Stephen, killed James the apostle, thrown Peter and John in prison, harassed Paul for years, and murdered James the first bishop of the church in Jerusalem. All of this took place before the destruction of the beloved Jerusalem in A.D 70. Afterwards, the Jews continued to persecute the church until the Romans destroyed the land of Palestine. 1] Beginning with Nero, the Roman government sought to eradicate the Church from their Empire, launching numerous campaigns against them during the next few centuries. In the midst of such hardships, the author of Hebrews writes Jewish believers in order to establish them in the Christian faith. For those believers who had yielded to the pressure of their adversaries and apostatized from their Christian confessions, this epistle gave them hope that there is restoration through the high priesthood of Christ Jesus. The issue of restoration into the Church created heated debates among the church leadership as to whether or not to reinstate those who recanted their faith during times of persecution. 2] Although the primary emphasis of Hebrews is to exhort believers to endure hardships, the epistle also lays down the criteria for a true act of apostasy ( Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-27), and it exhorts the rest, who are qualified to find God's grace and mercy through repentance, to press on in the Christian faith.

1] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 2, "Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D 100-325" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922), 36-37.

2] For further discussion on the topic of apostasy and restoration in the early church, see B. L. Shelley, Church History In Plain Language, 2nd ed. (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1995, c 1982), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 74.

In the epistle to the Hebrews , the author, most likely Paul the apostle, sets out to explain how the Christian faith is the fulfillment of the Jewish system of Temple worship. Albert Barnes contrasts these two systems by saying that the Mosaic Law was handed to Moses by angels on a thundering mountain, and the Jewish religion was inaugurated with a splendid ceremony at the dedication of the Tabernacle, and later in Solomon's Temple. 3] This faith had stood for some fifteen hundred years. In contrast, the Christian faith was relatively new. It had none of the pomp or pageantry of the Jewish faith. It was founded by an individual calling Himself the Messiah, and spread by a group largely made up of uneducated fishermen. It was viewed by many Jews as a heretical sect that enlisting anyone, Greek or barbarian, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, slave or free, who was willing to join its ranks. Yet, despite its unlikely origins, the Christian faith was a fulfillment of and superior to the ancient Jewish faith in every way. Thus, Jesus Christ is contrasted as superior to the angels who gave the Law, to Moses who received and instituted the Law, and to the Levitical priesthood that maintained Israel's relationship with God. As splendid as Israel's heritage was it was only temporary, and was intended to serve as a type and shadow of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

3] Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction: 6 The Design and General Argument of the Epistle."

The early Church was made up of many Jewish converts, and in God's divine foreknowledge, He was preparing the Church for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, the home of the first Church, which would take place only a few short years after the writing of this Epistle. The epistle of Hebrews was probably intended to prevent these Jewish Christians from apostasy back to their former faith. The author endeavored to convince his readers of why they should not go back to Judaism. The author explains how Christ Jesus' priesthood and sacrificial offering brought an end to the need for Temple sacrifices and Jewish feasts, held so dear to the Jews for the last fifteen hundred years, and perhaps to many Jewish converts as well. Jesus' once-for-all blood sacrifice was enough to pay for our sins and was now the only way into the presence of God.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the epistle of Hebrews will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 4] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

4] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 5]

5] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of Hebrews will provide a discussion on its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the apostle Paul or his companion Luke wrote this epistle to the Hebrews in the mid to late-60's during a time of distress, poverty and persecution, and if authored by Paul the apostle, it was written in the city of Rome during the latter part of his life either shortly after Paul's first Roman imprisonment (A.D 63), or during Paul's second imprisonment (A.D 66).

I. Historical Background

A. A Time of Persecutions- The author of Hebrews wrote to the Hebrew Christians during a time of distress, poverty and persecution. The book of Acts shows how those who professed faith in Christ as their Messiah were immediately ostracized by their countrymen, being rejected by families and synagogues. The difficulties that these Hebrew Christians faced, which are mentioned throughout this Epistle ( Hebrews 10:32-34; Hebrews 11:32-40; Hebrews 12:1-12; Hebrews 13:3) continue from those described in the book of Acts against early Jewish converts. They had endured a great fight of afflictions, they were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions, and they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods ( Hebrews 10:32-34). Some of them had become discouraged from life's difficulties ( Hebrews 12:1-13), and other imprisoned. ( Hebrews 13:3). Jews became the target of Rome as well, with the Latin writer Suetonius recording the extradition of Jewish believers from Rome by Claudius Caesar [A.D 41-54] because of their faith in Christ. 6] Paul the apostle later took up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (A.D 58-60), revealing the continuing difficult plight of Jewish believers ( Romans 15:25-27). In addition, there came an impending dark cloud of persecutions in the mid-60's against Christianity, with the Latin historian Tacitus telling us about the great fire in Rome, said to be caused by Nero himself on July 19, A.D 64. As a result, Nero laid the blame upon the Christians and began a persecution that extended throughout the Empire by making it a criminal offence to proclaim the Christian faith. Tacitus says an "immense multitude" of Christians were arrested that year (Annals 1544). 7] The Roman war against the Jewish nation ushered forth, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D 70 (Josephus, The War the Jews).

6] Seutonius writes, "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome." (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Claudius 254) See Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, trans. Joseph Gavorse, in The Modern Library of the World's Best Books (New York: The Random House, 1931), 226.

7] Tacitus: The Histories, vol 4, trans. Clifford H. Moore, and The Annals, trans. John Jackson, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1952), 283-285.

B. A Time of Transition from the Old Covenant to the New- The epistle of Hebrews was written in a timely manner, immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. The early Church had sympathetically allowed the Jewish converts to maintain many of their traditions and act upon their own convictions. However, the time was about to come in the history of Jewish people where they would be severed from their holy city and their ancient sacrificial system would cease. The epistle of Hebrews was written to help these Jewish converts make that difficult transition by explaining the relationship between the Mosaic Law and Christ. The note of warnings placed throughout this Epistle was intended to ring loud and clear in the minds of these believers in Palestine after their beloved city was destroyed. This Epistle helped them to focus their faith in Christ alone rather than their ancient traditions, which they had held for fifteen hundred years; for it showed that their ancient Law was but a preparation for the new dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Epistle was put in place by divine providence to help these Hebrews make this transition.

II. Authorship and Canonicity

In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of Hebrews: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1st and 2nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4th century).

A. Apostolic Authority- Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which "the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice." He says the "elements of the Catholic faith" were established during this period in Church history. 8] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew ,, John , Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke , the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude , the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book's apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.

8] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, "The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time." (Fragments of Caius 33) (ANF 5); Corey Keating says, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.

Although the authorship of the epistle of Hebrews has been contested since the time of the early Church fathers, both internal and external testimony favor Paul the apostle as the writer. The second strongest alternative is Lucan authorship.

1. Internal Evidence - The letter to the Hebrews is one of several New Testament epistles that remain anonymous. However, internal evidence leans towards the ancient tradition that Paul the apostle wrote this Epistle.

a) The Author of Hebrews was Familiar with the Mosaic Law and the Old Testament Scriptures- We know that the author of Hebrews had a tremendous knowledge of the Mosaic Law and of the Old Testament. Only someone who had been trained in the Law could have had such a background. Many of the Old Testament quotes are from the Septuagint. Since the author was familiar with the Septuagint and the Hebrew customs, this is evidence that he was a Jew with an excellent Hebrew education. This knowledge enabled him to lay a foundation upon which he could build a deep spiritual insight into the true, spiritual meaning of many Old Testament passages. This is a lesson that shows us how important a good Bible education can be when used correctly. It can give us a strong biblical foundation upon which to build as the Lord begins to reveal to us the spiritual truths of God"s Holy Word.

b) The Epistle of Hebrews was written from Rome- The author wrote this epistle from Italy, most likely Rome.

Hebrews 13:24, "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you."

c) The Author of Hebrews Knew Timothy as a Co-worker- The author was a friend of Timothy.

Hebrews 13:23, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you."

d) The Author of Hebrews was a Second-generation Christian- The author, as well as the recipients, had heard the gospel from those who heard Jesus. Thus, they were converted a few years after Jesus" earthly ministry as a second-generation Christian:

Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"

e) The Author of Hebrews had Visited them Earlier and Intended to Revisit- The author had visited the recipients before and desired to come see them again; thus, he had some missionary experiences with them and knew them:

Hebrews 13:18-19, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner."

Hebrews 13:23, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you."

f) The Author of Hebrews had been in Prison- The author had been in prison while knowing the recipients. However, the phrase "my bonds" is not in some modern English versions (NASB, RSV, and NIV).

Hebrews 10:34, "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."

g) The Author of Hebrews Identifies Himself as a Jew- The author seems to identify himself as a Jew in the frequent "Let us" passages, and phrases such as "We have an altar."

h) The Author of Hebrews Identifies Himself in the Masculine Gender - In Hebrews 11:32, the author says, "…time would fail me…," using the masculine gender ending of this personal pronoun "me." The author was a Prayer of Manasseh , as were all biblical authors.

Paul the apostle meets all of these conditions listed above and has been the most popular choice among the early Church fathers and modern biblical scholars when naming the authorship of the epistle of Hebrews. We can only speculate as to why the author did not sign his name to this Epistle. The fact that Paul would not place his name at the beginning of this Epistle is understandable since he was an apostle to the Gentiles, and may not have wanted to be identified as an apostle to the Jews. Clement of Alexandria says Paul left his name off because of his poor reputation among the Jewish communities (Ecclesiastical History 6141-4). Adam Clarke tells us Jerome offers a reason why Paul did not place his name on this Epistle, saying, "That Paul declined to style himself apostle at the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews , because he should afterward call Christ the High Priest and Apostle of our profession." (Commentary to the Galatians 1:1) (PG 26 Colossians 312B). 9] Because this epistle was probably written in the mid to late-60's during the Jewish War that led up to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D 70, the author may have left off his name and others, lest the epistle of Hebrews fall into the hands of Roman soldiers. 10] Although the name of Timothy is mentioned ( Hebrews 13:23), it is done so in regards to his release from prison, so Roman officials were already familiar with this individual.

9] Adam Clarke, Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

10] David L. Allen, "Class Lecture," Doctor of Ministry Seminar, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 25 July to 5 August 2011.

a) The Epistle of Hebrews Has Similar Content to the Pauline Epistles - JFB and Robert Gundry list a number of similar phrases between the epistle to Hebrews and the Pauline epistles. For example, the argument of Christianity's superiority over Judaism is certainly consistent with Pauline teachings ( 2 Corinthians 3:6-18; Galatians 3:23-25; Galatians 4:1-9; Galatians 4:21-31). The Christology in Hebrews is consistent with Paul's writings: His pre-existent deity and creatorship ( Hebrews 1:1-14, 1 Corinthians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:15-16, 1 Timothy 3:16, Titus 2:13), His lowering Himself to become a man ( 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:7-8, Hebrews 2:9), His sacrificial death as figurative of Jewish sacrifices ( Romans 3:22-26; 1 Corinthians 5:7, with Hebrews 7-10), His exaltation ( Hebrews 2:8; Hebrews 10:13; Hebrews 12:2, with 1 Corinthians 15:25-27), His new covenant ( Hebrews 8:6, 2 Corinthians 3:4-11), and the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ( Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12:11). In both we find the phrase "labour of love" ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 6:10). Also, the phrase, "we trust we have a good conscience," ( Hebrews 13:18) is altogether Pauline (see Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Timothy 1:3). The phrase, "God of peace" is special to Paul (see Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20, Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20-21). The Word of God is compared to a two-edged sword in Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12. The Christian life is described as a race ( 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 3:12-14, Hebrews 12:1). References to a "good conscience" is Pauline ( Hebrews 13:18, 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Timothy 1:3). The epistle of Hebrews closes with the typical Pauline style of greetings and an apostolic salutation, "Grace by with you all." 11]

11] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction"; Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 314-315.

Adam Clarke notes the similarity between Hebrews 12:3, "Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds," and Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Compare 2 Thessalonians 3:13, "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing," and Ephesians 3:13, "Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory." The phrase in Hebrews 13:16, "But to do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased," agrees with what he says elsewhere, as Philippians 4:18, "An odour of a sweet smell; a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God." Moreover, as is observed by Grotius upon this text, that the word "communicate" or "communion" is found in a like sense in the Acts , and in other letters of Paul (See Acts 2:42; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13). Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 2:4, "signs and wonders, and with divers miracles," Romans 5:19, "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God," 2 Corinthians 12:12, "In signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds," and 2 Thessalonians 2:9, "With all power, and signs, and lying wonders." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 3:1, "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," Philippians 3:14, "The prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and 2 Timothy 1:9, "Who has called us with a holy calling." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 5:12, "And are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat," and 1 Corinthians 3:2, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 8:1, "Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high," and Ephesians 1:20, "And set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." In no other place in the New Testament is Jesus Christ referred to as mediator, except in Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24, and Galatians 3:19-20 and 1 Timothy 2:5. Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 8:5, "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things," Hebrews 10:1, "For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things," and Colossians 2:17, "Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 10:33, "Whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, or spectacle, both by reproaches and afflictions," and 1 Corinthians 4:9, "For we are made a spectacle unto the world." Paul's epistles make illusions to sports games as a way of illustrating the Christian life. We find such illusions in Hebrews 6:18, "Who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us," Hebrews 12:1-3, "Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus--who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds," Hebrews 12:12, "Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees," and Hebrews 12:4, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 13:9, "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines," and Ephesians 4:14, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." Similar phrases are found in Hebrews 13:10, "We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat," 1 Corinthians 9:13, "And they that wait at the altar are partakers with the altar," and, 1 Corinthians 10:18, "Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" Also, the ending of the epistle of Hebrews is remarkably similar to the Pauline epistle. 12]

12] Adam Clarke, The Epistle to Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

John Gill also compares Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 as two passages in which church members are exhorted to honor their leaders. Also, the book of Habakkuk is quoted only in Hebrews 10:38, Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. We find Israel's conduct in the wilderness used as a warning in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 and Hebrews 3:7-11. The epistle of Hebrews shows Pauline characteristics in that it offers doctrine with practical application. 13]

13] John Gill, Hebrews , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction."

Although many similarities exist, many scholars say that there are theological differences between the epistle of Hebrews and the Pauline epistles. They build their arguments upon distinctions between the many similar passages mentioned above. All such arguments against Pauline authorship have to concede that there are no doctrinal contradictions between the Paul's writings and Hebrews. Guthrie states that it may be unfair to compare the differences between the Pauline writings to the Gentiles with those to the Jews, since there must be some measure of difference in writing to two different cultures. 14]

14] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 673.

b) Peter's Reference to Paul's Letter to the Hebrews - Peter refers to a letter that Paul wrote to the Hebrews in 2 Peter 3:15 by saying, "even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you." He then refers to the rest of Paul's epistles by saying, "As also in all his epistles." Since the only epistle we know of that Paul could have write to the Jews is the epistle of Hebrews , it is possible Peter was referring specifically to it in his comment.

2 Peter 3:15-16, "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

c) The Ancient Inscription of the Epistle - Albert Barnes notes that the ancient inscription "The epistle of Paul the apostle to the Hebrews" is affixed to all of our present Greek manuscripts and nearly all of the ancient versions, such as the Peshito, the Old Syriac Version, made very early in the second century, and in the Old Italic version. 15] The P46 (A.D. c 250) is the oldest manuscript that contains the epistle of Hebrews with its familiar title. Since this inscription reveals the ancient tradition of the early Church fathers, we can use this testimony to give some weight of support for Pauline authorship.

15] Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to apostolic authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing's apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.

B. Church Orthodoxy- The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, "To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment." 16] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church's Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. 17] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.

16] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 12.

17] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 331.

1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy- Perhaps the strongest argument for Pauline authorship can be found in ancient Church tradition. Although Pauline authorship of the epistle of Hebrews was contested as early as the time of Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225), there seems to have been an early consensus by the Eastern Church, and later in the fourth century the Western Church, that it was a Pauline epistle. One major event that the catholic Church had to come to agreement on during the fourth century was the canonization of the New Testament, and this may have been the most important factor for the West finally embracing Pauline authorship; for without this Epistle holding apostolic authority, it would have been denied entry into the New Testament canon.

The epistle of Hebrews appears to be a first century writing, since it is clearly quoted by Clement of Rome and it is paraphrased by some of the earliest writings of the Church fathers, such as Ignatius and Polycarp. Beginning with Clement of Alexandria, the early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Pauline authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Thus, the epistle of Hebrews was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.

Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of Hebrews: 18]

18] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).

a) Clement of Rome (A.D 96) - Clement of Rome makes more allusions to the epistle of Hebrews than any other New Testament book, thus sanctioning it as authoritative, though the canon of the New Testament had not yet been formalized. We see illusions to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews in several passages of Clement's first epistle to the Corinthians.

"Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours, and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us stedfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to His excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him? Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals which, with one accord, entered into the ark." (1Clement 9)

"On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. For when spies were sent by Joshua , the son of Nun, to Jericho, the king of the country ascertained that they were come to spy out their land, and sent men to seize them, in order that, when taken, they might be put to death." (1Clement 12)

In chapter 17 of his epistle to the Corinthians Clement of Rome appears to be paraphrasing a number of passages in the epistle of Hebrews (see Hebrews 11:37; Hebrews 3:5).

"Let us be imitators also of those who in goat-skins and sheep-skins went about proclaiming the coming of Christ; I mean Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel among the prophets, with those others to whom a like testimony is borne [in Scripture]. Abraham was specially honoured, and was called the friend of God; yet Hebrews , earnestly regarding the glory of God, humbly declared, ‘I am but dust and ashes.' Moreover, it is thus written of Job , ‘Job was a righteous Prayer of Manasseh , and blameless, truthful, God-fearing, and one that kept himself from all evil.' But bringing an accusation against himself, he said, ‘No man is free from defilement, even if his life be but of one day.' Moses was called faithful in all God"s house; and through his instrumentality, God punished Egypt with plagues and tortures. Yet Hebrews , though thus greatly honoured, did not adopt lofty language, but said, when the divine oracle came to him out of the bush, ‘Who am I, that Thou sendest me ? I am a man of a feeble voice and a slow tongue.' And again he said, ‘I am but as the smoke of a pot'" (1Clement 17)

In chapter 36 Clement of Rome appears to be paraphrasing the first chapter of Hebrews.

"This is the way, beloved, in which we find our Saviour, even Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings, the defender and helper of our infirmity. By Him we look up to the heights of heaven. By Him we behold, as in a glass, His immaculate and most excellent visage. By Him are the eyes of our hearts opened. By Him our foolish and darkened understanding blossoms up anew towards His marvellous light. By Him the Lord has willed that we should taste of immortal knowledge, ‘who, being the brightness of His majesty, is by so much greater than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.' For it is thus written, ‘Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.' But concerning His Son the Lord spoke thus: ‘Thou art my Song of Solomon , to-day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.' And again He saith to Him, ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.' But who are His enemies? All the wicked, and those who set themselves to oppose the will of God." (1Clement 36)

In chapter 45 Clement of Rome appears to be paraphrasing Hebrews 11:32-40.

"Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them. There you will not find that the righteous were cast off by men who themselves were holy. The righteous were indeed persecuted, but only by the wicked. They were cast into prison, but only by the unholy; they were stoned, but only by transgressors; they were slain, but only by the accursed, and such as had conceived an unrighteous envy against them. Exposed to such sufferings, they endured them gloriously. For what shall we say, brethren? Was Daniel s cast into the den of lions by such as feared God? Were Ananias, and Azarias, and Mishael shut up in a furnace of fire by those who observed the great and glorious worship of the Most High? Far from us be such a thought! Who, then, were they that did such things? The hateful, and those full of all wickedness, were roused to such a pitch of fury, that they inflicted torture on those who served God with a holy and blameless purpose [of heart], not knowing that the Most High is the Defender and Protector of all such as with a pure conscience venerate" His all-excellent name; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. But they who with confidence endured [these things] are now heirs of glory and honour, and have been exalted and made illustrious by God in their memorial for ever and ever. Amen." (1Clement 45)

A number of other writings have been attributed to Clement of Rome, including Two Epistles Concerning Virginity, in which a citation is made from Hebrews 13:7.

"For the Scripture has said, ‘The elders who are among you, honour; and, seeing their manner of life and conduct, imitate their faith.'" (Two Epistles Concerning Virginity Hebrews 1:6) (ANF 8)

Hebrews 13:7, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."

Eusebius tells us that Clement of Rome quotes from the epistle to the Hebrews. He also says that although the authorship was debated in his time, Eusebius believes Paul to be the author of the book of Hebrews. Note:

"Thus Ignatius has done in the epistles which we have mentioned, and Clement in his epistle which is accepted by all, and which he wrote in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth. In this epistle he gives many thoughts drawn from the Epistle to the Hebrews , and also quotes verbally some of its expressions, thus showing most plainly that it is not a recent production. Wherefore it has seemed reasonable to reckon it with the other writings of the apostle. For as Paul had written to the Hebrews in his native tongue, some say that the evangelist Luke , others that this Clement himself, translated the epistle. The latter seems more probable, because the epistle of Clement and that to the Hebrews have a similar character in regard to style, and still further because the thoughts contained in the two works are not very different." (Ecclesiastical History 3381-3)

b) Ignatius of Antioch (A.D 35 to 107) - Ignatius of Antioch appears to be quoting a phrase from Hebrews 12:23 in his Epistle to the Ephesians.

" Hebrews , therefore, that separates himself from such, and does not meet in the society where sacrifices are offered, and with ‘the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven,' is a wolf in sheep"s clothing, while he presents a mild outward appearance." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 5)

Hebrews 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"

c) Polycarp (A.D 69 to 155) (Smyrna, Asia Minor) - Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, makes possible allusions to the epistle of Hebrews in his writings. He appears to be paraphrasing Hebrews 4:13 in his epistle to the Philippians , and he makes a reference to Jesus as the High Priest ( Hebrews 3:1).

"And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always ‘providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man;' abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil report] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and ‘we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself.' Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 6)

Hebrews 4:13, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

"But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest..." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 12)

Hebrews 3:1, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"

d) Justin Martyr (A.D 100 to 165) (A native of Palestine, but resided in Rome) - We find on four occasions that Justin Martyr uses the phrase "the Son and Apostle of God." This alludes to opening verses of Hebrews that emphasize Jesus Christ as the Son and to the passage in Hebrews 3:1, where we find the only place in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is called an Apostle.

That all these things should come to pass, I say, our Teacher foretold, He who is both Son and Apostle of God the Father of all and the Ruler, Jesus Christ; from whom also we have the name of Christians. (First Apology 12)

"Now the Word of God is His Song of Solomon , as we have before said. And He is called Angel and Apostle; for He declares whatever we ought to know, and is sent forth to declare whatever is revealed; as our Lord Himself says, ‘He that heareth Me, heareth Him that sent Me…But so much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels.. The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son.'" (First Apology 63)

e) The Shepherd of Hermas (2nd Century) - The Shepherd of Hermas appears to have paraphrases from the epistle of Hebrews.

"But as for you, Hermas, remember not the wrongs done to you by your children, nor neglect your sister, that they may be cleansed from their former sins. For they will be instructed with righteous instruction, if you remember not the wrongs they have done you. For the remembrance of wrongs worketh death. And you, Hermas, have endured great personal tribulations on account of the transgressions of your house, because you did not attend to them, but were careless and engaged in your wicked transactions. But you are saved, because you did not depart from the living God, and on account of your simplicity and great self-control. These have saved you, if you remain stedfast. And they will save all who act in the same manner, and walk in guilelessness and simplicity. Those who possess such virtues will wax strong against every form of wickedness, and will abide unto eternal life. Blessed are all they who practise righteousness, for they shall never be destroyed. Now you will tell Maximus: Lo! tribulation cometh on. If it seemeth good to thee, deny again. The Lord is near to them who return unto Him, as it is written in Eldad and Modat, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness." (Visions 23)

"But those which fell into the fire and were burned are those who have departed for ever from the living God; nor does the thought of repentance ever come into their hearts, on account of their devotion to their lusts and to the crimes which they committed." (Visions 37)

f) The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (late 2nd Century) - A pseudepigraphical writing entitled The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs makes an allusion to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is discussed at length in the epistle of Hebrews.

"And after their punishment shall have come from the Lord, then will the Lord raise up to the priesthood a new Priest, to whom all the words of the Lord shall be revealed," (Testament of Levi Concerning Priesthood and Arrogance 318)

g) Theophilus of Antioch (late 2nd Century) (Antioch, Syria) - Theophilus of Antioch alludes to Hebrews 5:12.

"But if it is right that children be subject to parents, how much more to the God and Father of all things?" (Theophilus to Autolycus 225)

Hebrews 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

h) Pinytus (late 2nd Century) (Crete) - In his citation of Pinytus, bishop of Cnossus, Crete, Eusebius alludes to Hebrews 5:12.

"Pinytus, replying to this epistle, admires and commends Dionysius, but exhorts him in turn to impart some time more solid food, and to feed the people under him, when he wrote again, with more advanced teaching, that they might not be fed continually on these milky doctrines and imperceptibly grow old under a training calculated for children. In this epistle also Pinytus' orthodoxy in the faith and his care for the welfare of those placed under him, his learning and his comprehension of divine things, are revealed as in a most perfect image." (Ecclesiastical History 4238)

Hebrews 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

In addition to these allusions to the epistle of Hebrews in support of its authority and canonicity, the earliest Church traditions attribute the authorship of the book of Hebrews to four individuals: the apostle Paul, Clement, Barnabas, and Luke , revealing the fact that this issue was never settled among the catholic Church. The earliest declaration of Pauline authorship comes from Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) (The Stromata 24). According to Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340), Clement was following the tradition handed down by his mentor Pantaenus, who established this view within the Catechetical School at Alexandria. The earliest declaration that Barnabas was the author of Hebrews comes from Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) (On Modesty 20). Origen (A.D 185 to 254) is believed to have made the earliest reference to Lucan authorship (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 62514). Eusebius also notes the traditions of authorship by Clement and Luke (Ecclesiastical History 6141-4). However, the tradition of Pauline authorship for Hebrews dominated the school of Alexandria, Egypt as early as the second century and seems to have spread to the Eastern churches (those in Syria, Jerusalem, Greece, and Asia Minor are cited below) from this time forward while the West took a while longer to embrace it's canonicity as an apostolic writing. 19] Hilary of Poitiers, France (A. D 315 to 367) is considered the first Latin writer to directly attribute a quote from the epistle of Hebrews to Paul (On the Trinity 411).

19] David Allen writes, "The Alexandrian tradition regarding authorship continued to grow so that by the fourth century Paul was regarded as the author (either directly or indirectly) of the epistle." Allen again says, "[O]f the three major traditions of authorship that circulated in the first four centuries, the Alexandrian tradition regarded Hebrews at least in some sense to be the work of Paul." See David L. Allen, Hebrews , in The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, vol 35, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 32, 34.

i) Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) (Alexandria, Egypt) - Clement of Alexandria became a pupil of Pantaenus, and later became head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria. The earliest reference we have as to the authorship of Hebrews comes from the writings of Clement of Alexandria, who quotes from the epistle of Hebrews and calls it the writing of "the apostle," a reference to Paul the apostle.

"‘By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things which appear,' says the apostle. ‘By faith Abel offered to God a fuller sacrifice than Cain, by which he received testimony that he was righteous, God giving testimony to him respecting his gifts; and by it Hebrews , being dead, yet speaketh,' and so forth, down to ‘than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.' Faith having, therefore, justified these before the law, made them heirs of the divine promise. Why then should I review and adduce any further testimonies of faith from the history in our hands? ‘For the time would fail me were I to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, and Samuel, and the prophets,' and what follows." (The Stromata 24)

Clement of Alexandria explains the non-Pauline style of this Epistle being a result of Luke translating it into the Greek.

"‘Marcus, my Song of Solomon , saluteth you.' Mark , the follower of Peter, while Peter publicly preached the Gospel at Rome before some of Caesar"s equites, and adduced many testimonies to Christ, in order that thereby they might be able to commit to memory what was spoken, of what was spoken by Peter wrote entirely what is called the Gospel according to Mark. As Luke also may be recognised by the style, both to have composed the Acts of the Apostles, and to have translated Paul"s Epistle to the Hebrews." (Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus: 1. From the Latin Translation of Cassiodorus 1) (ANF 2)

Eusebius tells us later that Clement followed the view of Pantaenus (d. c. A. D 190), the first known head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, and the predecessor and master of Clement of Alexandria, who accepted Pauline authorship. We find this statement in Eusebius where he quotes Clement of Alexandria, who refers to "the blessed presbyter" as one who supported the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Eusebius explains that the reason Paul did not subscribe his name to it is because he was an apostle to the Gentiles, and was only writing out of the abundance of his knowledge.

"To sum up briefly, he [Clement] has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, -- I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the Song of Solomon -called Apocalypse of Peter. He says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. But he says that the words, Paul the Apostle, were probably not prefixed, because, in sending it to the Hebrews , who were prejudiced and suspicious of him, he wisely did not wish to repel them at the very beginning by giving his name. Farther on he says: "But now, as the blessed presbyter said, since the Lord being the apostle of the Almighty, was sent to the Hebrews , Paul, as sent to the Gentiles, on account of his modesty did not subscribe himself an apostle of the Hebrews , through respect for the Lord, and because being a herald and apostle of the Gentiles he wrote to the Hebrews out of his superabundance.'" (Ecclesiastical History 6141-4)

j) Origen (A.D 185 to 254) (Alexandria, Egypt) (Wrote in Latin and Greek) - Origen became the head of the Catechetical School in Alexandria after Clement, who had fled during a time of persecutions. When peace was restored Demetrius appointed him to be head of this school. Origen himself refers to Paul as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews in his commentary on the Gospel of John. Eusebius tells us he that he was aware of the arguments regarding its authorship, citing Origen as saying the epistle contains Pauline thoughts, but its style is from someone else. Eusebius also refers to the ancient tradition of Pauline authorship, and may have known of the tradition that Luke translated a Hebrew original into the Greek language, but does not mention this particular tradition as does his predecessor Clement of Alexander.

"According to Paul…But he also teaches us, writing to the Hebrews , that Christ is a High-Priest: "Having, therefore, a great High-Priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." (Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John 1:23)

"In addition he makes the following statements in regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews in his Homilies upon it: ‘That the verbal style of the epistle entitled ‘To the Hebrews ,' is not rude like the language of the apostle, who acknowledged himself ‘rude in speech,' that Isaiah , in expression; but that its diction is purer Greek, any one who has the power to discern differences of phraseology will acknowledge. Moreover, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged apostolic writings, any one who carefully examines the apostolic text will admit.' Farther on he adds: ‘If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the diction and phraseology are those of some one who remembered the apostolic teachings, and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul"s. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans , wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke , the author of the Gospel and the Acts , wrote it.' But let this suffice on these matters." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 62511-14)

k) Dionysius of Alexandria (d. c. A.D 264) - After Origen, Dionysius of Alexandria (d. c. A.D 264) became head of the school in Alexandria. 20] According to Eusebius, he followed the Eastern tradition by quoting from the epistle of Hebrews as being from Paul.

20] Adam Clarke, Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

"But the brethren withdrew and went away, and ‘took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,' like those to whom Paul bore witness." (Ecclesiastical History 6416)

l) Athanasius (A.D 269 to 373) (Alexandria, Egypt) - Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, was probably educated at the Catechetical School in Alexandria. He tells us that Paul was the author of the epistle to the Hebrews.

"This Paul also perceiving wrote to the Hebrews , ‘who being the brightness of his glory, and the express Image of his subsistence." (To the Bishops of Africa 4)

"Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew ,, Mark ,, Luke , and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James , one; of Peter, two; of John , three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John" (Festal Letters 395)

"also Paul in the epistle to the Hebrews says, For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." (Epistola 4Ad Serapionem 49) (PG 26 Colossians 649) (author's translation)

Hebrews 6:4-6, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

m) A Commentary of the Apostle's Creed (A.D 307-309) - The Commentary on the Apostle's Creed, written at the request of Laurentius, a Bishop whose see is unknown, but is conjectured by Fontanini, in his life of Rufinus, to have been Concordia, notes that Paul was the author of the epistle of Hebrews.

"I believe, therefore, is placed in the forefront, as the Apostle Paul, writing to the Hebrews, says, ‘He that cometh to God must first of all believe that He Isaiah , and that He is a rewarder of those who believe on Him.'" (A Commentary on the Apostle's Creed 3) (NPF 2 3)

"…as the Apostle says, ‘By Him were created all things, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.' And again, writing to the Hebrews, he says, ‘By Him also He made the worlds," and "He appointed Him heir of all things.'" (A Commentary on the Apostle's Creed 3) (NPF 2 3)

"To this the Gospel bears witness, when it says, ‘The graves were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose, and appeared unto many, and entered into the holy City,' that city, doubtless, of which the Apostle says, ‘Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the Mother of us all.' As also he says again to the Hebrews, ‘It became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, Who had brought many sons into glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through suffering.'" (A Commentary on the Apostle's Creed 29) (NPF 2 3)

"Of the New there are four Gospels, Matthew ,, Mark ,, Luke , John; the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke; fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, two of the Apostle Pete, one of James , brother of the Lord and Apostle, one of Jude , three of John , the Revelation of John. These are the books which the Fathers have comprised within the Canon, and from which they would have us deduce the proofs of our faith." (A Commentary on the Apostle's Creed 37) (NPF 2 3)

n) Methodius (d. c. A.D 311) (Syria) - Methodius, bishop of Lycia, alludes to Hebrews 1:1 in Symposium 41 (PG 18 Colossians 88A) and to Hebrews 10:1 in Symposium 57 (PG 18 Colossians 109B), referring to the "Apostle" at the author of his citations, most likely a reference to Paul. In Ex Libro de Resurrectione 5 (PG 18 Colossians 269C) Methodius alludes to Hebrews 12:15.

Hebrews 1:1, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,"

Hebrews 10:1,"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."

Hebrews 12:15, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;"

o) Alexander of Alexandria (A.D. d 328) (Alexandria, Egypt) - The Greek church historian Socrates Scholasticus (A. D 380 to 450) records an epistle from Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, who alludes to Hebrews 1:3 and he quotes Hebrews 13:8, citing Paul the apostle as the author.

"Or how is he unlike the Father's essence, who is ‘his perfect image,' and ‘the brightness of his glory'" (Ecclesiastical History 16) (NPF 2 2)

Hebrews 1:3, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"

"…but as the Apostle says, ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever' But what could persuade them to say that he was made on our account, when Paul has expressly declared that ‘all things are for him, and by him.'" (Ecclesiastical History 16) (NPF 2 2)

Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."

Theodoret (A.D 393to 466), bishop of Cyrrhus, records an epistle from Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, in which he quotes Hebrews 1:2, citing Paul as the author.

"In consonance with this doctrine, Paul with his usual mighty voice cries concerning Him; ‘whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.'" (Ecclesiastical History 13) (NPF 2 3)

Hebrews 1:2, "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Song of Solomon , whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"

p) Aphraates (early 4th century) (Syria) - Aphraates, the first of the Syriac Church fathers, in citing Hebrews eleven, refers to the author as "the Apostle," which most likely refers to Paul.

"And again the Apostle has commented for us upon this building and upon this foundation; for he said thus;—No man can lay another foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Again the Apostle said about faith that it is conjoined with hope and love, for he said thus:—These are three which shall abide, faith and hope and love. And he showed with regard to faith that first it is laid on a sure foundation. For Abel, because of his faith his offering was accepted. And Enoch, because he was well-pleasing through his faith, was removed from death. Noah, because he believed, was preserved from the deluge. Abraham, through his faith, obtained blessing, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Isaac, because he believed, was loved. Jacob, because of his faith, was preserved. Joseph, because of his faith, was tried in the waters of contention, and was delivered from his trial, and his Lord established a witness in him, as David said:—Witness hath he established in Joseph." Moses also by his faith performed many wonderful works of power. By his faith he destroyed the Egyptians with ten plagues. Again, by faith he divided the sea, and caused his people to cross over and sank the Egyptians in the midst of it. By faith he cast the wood into the bitter waters and they became sweet. By faith he brought down manna and satisfied his people. By faith he spread out his hands and conquered Amalek, as is written:—His hands continued in faith till the selling of the sun. Also by faith he went up to Mount Sinai, when he twice fasted for the space of forty days. Again by faith he conquered Sihon and Og, the Kings of the Amorites." (The Demonstrations of Aphrahat 113-14) (NPF 2 13)

q) Didymus the Blind (A.D 313to 398) (Alexandria, Egypt) - Didymus the Blind, the Alexandrian theologian, cites from Hebrews 1:3 and calls Paul its author.

"And Paul writes to the Hebrews , ‘Who being the radiance of the glory of the Father, that Isaiah , likewise without beginning and consubtantial…'" (de Trinitate 123) (PG 39 Colossians 308A) (author's translation)

Hebrews 1:3, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"

r) Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D 315 to 386) (Palestine) - Cyril of Jerusalem lists fourteen Pauline epistles, which must have included the epistle of Hebrews.

"Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James , Peter, John , and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects." (Catechetical Lectures 436)

He also quotes from the book of Hebrews by saying that he was quoting the words of Paul the apostle.

"And the Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans , says, It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God. And charging the Ephesians , he thus speaks, According to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand; and the rest. And the Colossians he taught thus, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. And in the Epistle to the Hebrews he says, When He had made purification of our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. And again, But unto which of the Angels hath He said at any time, Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? And again, But Hebrews , when He had offered one sacrifice for all men, far ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. And again, Looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."(Catechetical Lectures 1429)

s) Epiphanius of Salamis (c. A.D 315 to 403) (Greece) - Epiphanius refers to the fourteen epistles of Paul when he writes, "…and in the four holy Gospels, and in the fourteen epistles of the holy apostle Paul, and in the ones before these, and with the ones in the times of the acts of the apostles, in the catholic epistles of James , and Peter, and John , and Jude , and in the revelation of John…" (The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Heresy 76: Against Anomoeans- Aetius 5) 21]

21] S. Epiphanii Episcopi Constantiensis Panaria Eorumque Anacephalaeosis, tomi posterioris, pars prior, ed. Franciscus Oehler, in Corporis Haereseogolici, tomus secundus (Berolini:Apud A. Asher et Socios, 1861), 240; PG 42, columns 559-562.

t) Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D 329 to 389) (Cappadocia, Asia Minor) - Gregory Nazianzen was a theologian and one of the Cappadocian Fathers. He was the son of the bishop of Cappadocia and studied at the university in Athens. He supported Pauline authorship by quoting from Hebrews 12:26-27 and mentioning the author as Paul.

"‘Yet once more,' I hear the Scripture say that the heaven and the earth shall be shaken, inasmuch as this has befallen them before, signifying, as I suppose, a manifest renovation of all things. And we must believe St. Paul when he says that this last shaking is none other than the second coming of Christ, and the transformation and changing of the universe to a condition of stability which cannot be shaken." (Orations 2125)

Gregory Nazianzus tells us that Paul wrote fourteen epistles. (Carminum Liber I Theologica) (PG 37 Colossians 474)

"Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James , Peter, John , and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul." (Lectures 436) (NPF 2 7)

"…many also from the Catholic Epistles. and the fourteen Epistles of Paul." (Lectures 1720) (NPF 2 7)

"Indeed Matthew wrote to the Hebrews (the) miracles of Christ, and Mark to Italy, Luke to Achaia, and above all, John , a great preacher who walked in heaven, then the Acts of the wise apostles, and fourteen epistles of Paul, and seven catholic epistles, being of James , one, and two of Peter, and three of John again, and Jude is seven. You have all. And if there is some (other than) these seven, not (are they) among the genuine ones." (Carminum 1) (PG 37 Colossians 474) (author's translation)

After listing the books of the Old Testament canon, Gregory Naziansen mentions the fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle:

"And already for me, I have received all those of the New Testament. First, to the Hebrews Matthew the saint composed what was according to him the Gospel; second, in Italy Mark the divine; third, in Achaia Luke the all-wise; and John , thundering the heavenlies, indeed preached to all common men; after whom the miracles and deeds of the wise apostles, and Paul the divine herald fourteen epistles; and catholic seven, of which one is of James the brother of God, and two are of Peter the head, and of John again the evangelist, three, and seventh is Jude the Zealot. All are united and accepted; and if one of them is found outside, it is not placed among the genuine ones." (PG 38, Colossians 845) (author's translation) 22]

22] Cited by Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 582.

u) Gregory of Nyssa (A.D 330 to 395)(Cappadocia or Turkey) - Gregory of Nyssa quotes Hebrews 4:12 (In Christi Resurrectionem, Oration 2) (PG 46 Colossians 640A) and he quotes Hebrews 9:24 as written by Paul, saying, "Wherefore Paul writing to the Hebrews says, For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (In Christi Resurrectionem, Oration 2) (PG 46 Colossians 640C)

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Hebrews 9:24, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."

Gregory of Nyssa quotes from the epistle of Hebrews 5:5 or Hebrews 6:20 and Hebrews 3:1-2 and credits the epistle to Paul.

"and again, when the Apostle Paul says to the Hebrews that He made Him a priest...Moreover, in the Epistle to the Hebrews we may learn the same truth from Paul, when he says that Jesus was made an Apostle and High Priest by God, "being faithful to him that made Him so." (Against Eunomius: Letter 2 62) (NPF 2 5)

Hebrews 5:5, "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Song of Solomon , to day have I begotten thee."

Hebrews 6:20, "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."

Hebrews 3:1-2, "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."

v) Basil the Great (A.D 330-379) (Caesarea) - Basil the Great quotes portions of Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 11:6, citing Paul as the author.

"…in the clear advice of the apostle one must be persuaded, saying, For it is necessary first to believe because he is God…" (Adversus Eunomium 114) (PG 29 Colossians 545A) (author's translation)

Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he Isaiah , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

"…and Paul, who being the radiance of (his) glory…" (Adversus Eunomium 42) (PG 29 Colossians 677C) (author's translation)

"…because of this also the Son is indeed the Word of God, and the Spirit of the word of the Song of Solomon , producing, he says, all things by the Word of His power..." (Adversus Eunomium 5) (PG 29 Colossians 732A) (author's translation)

Hebrews 1:3, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"

w) St. John Chrysostom (A.D 347 to 407) (Constantinople) - John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, in his homilies on the epistle of Hebrews , credits the epistle of Hebrews to Paul the apostle.

"The blessed Paul, writing to the Romans , says, ‘Inasmuch then as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them that are my flesh': and again, in another place, ‘For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.' If therefore he were the Apostle of the Gentiles, (for also in the Acts , God said to him, ‘Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,' what had he to do with the Hebrews? and why did he also write an Epistle to them?" (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews: Argument and Summary of Hebrews 1) (NPF 1 14)

x) Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D 350 to 428) (Cilicia) - In his opening comments on the epistle to the Hebrews , Theodore of Mopsuestia ascribes the authorship to Paul the apostle (In Epistolam Pauli ad Hebreos Commentarii Fragmenta) (PG 66 Colossians 952A).

y) Cyril of Alexandria (A.D. d 444) (Alexandria) - Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, alludes to Hebrews 8:13 and cites it as written by Paul.

"to this, indeed, the blessed Paul says, ‘as it was indeed not blameless, but to bring in out of necessity the things of Christ, and to seek out a place for the second.'" (de Adoratione in Spiritu et Veritate 2) (PG 68 Colossians 225A) (author's translation)

Hebrews 8:13, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."

z) Isidore of Pelusium (A.D. d 450) (Egypt) - Isidore of Pelusium, an ascetic and exegete, alludes to Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 4:13, citing them as written by Paul.

"The expounder of the heavenly doctrines, the great apostle Paul, clearly explains the truth, testifying out of (the tribe of) Judah he sent the Lord." (Epistolarum 17) (PG 78 Colossians 184C)

Hebrews 7:14, "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood."

"The naked things and exposed things, out of the metaphors of the priests, who brought the offering, to the ingenious things written by Paul…" (Epistolarum 194) (PG 78 Colossians 248A)

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

aa) Theodoret (A. D. c 393to c 466) (Syria) - Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus, and a native of Antioch, credits Paul with writing the epistle of Hebrews.

"Orth--Your introduction of the apostolic testimony is in season. If we assert that the instruction alike of the evangelists and of the apostles is of the same spirit, listen how the apostle interprets the words of the Gospel, for in the Epistle to the Hebrews he says, ‘Verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but be took on him the seed of Abraham.' Now tell me what you mean by the seed of Abraham. Was not that which was naturally proper to Abraham proper also to the seed of Abraham?" (Dialogues 1: The Immutable)

"Orth--You do not seem to be a very diligent reader of your Bible; if you had been you would not have found fault with what we have said as in a figure. For first of all the fact that the divine apostle says that the invisible nature was made manifest through the flesh allows us to understand the flesh as a screen of the Godhead. Secondly, the divine apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews , distinctly uses the phrase, for he says, ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh; and having an High Priest over the House of God. Coming with truth drawing near with a true heart in fulness of faith.' (Dialogues 1: The Immutable)

"Orth--Yet they have not all the characteristics which their archetype has. For in the first place they have neither life nor reason: secondly they have no inner organs, heart, I mean, and belly and liver and the adjacent parts. Further they present the appearance of the organs of sense, but perform none of their functions, for they neither hear, nor speak, nor see; they cannot write; they cannot walk, nor perform any other human action; and yet they are called imperial statues. In this sense Moses was a mediator and Christ was a mediator; but the former as an image and type and the latter as reality. But that I may make this point clearer to you from yet another authority, call to mind the words used of Melchisedec in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Eran--What words?

Orth--Those in which the divine Apostle comparing the Levitical priesthood with that of the Christ likens Melchisedec in other respects to the Lord Christ, and says that the Lord had the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec.

Eran--I think the words of the divine Apostle are as follows;--" For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is king of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the son of God; abideth a priest continually."(2) I presume you spoke of this passage." (Dialogues 2: The Unconfounded)

"That things of this kind are impossible in the case of God, the divine Apostle also both perceived and laid down, for in his Epistle to the Hebrews he says, ‘that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie we might have a strong consolation.' He shews that this incapacity is not weakness, but very power, for he asserts Him to be so true that it is impossible for there to be even a lie in Him. So the power of truth is signified through its want of power. And writing to the blessed Timothy, the Apostle adds ‘It is a faithful saying, for if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him, if we suffer we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him He will also deny us, if we believe not yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself.'" (Dialogues 3: The Impassable)

"Orth--And when while reading the Epistle to the Hebrews we light upon the passage where the Apostle says ‘Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees and make straight paths for your feet lest that which is lathe be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed,' do we say that the divine Apostle said these things about the parts of the body?" (Dialogues 3: The Impassable)

"Orth--Are you not acquainted with the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews in which the divine Paul says ‘For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren saying "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee." And again, "Behold I and the children which God hath given me."'" (Dialogues 3: The Impassable)

"The image of the archetype is very distinctly exhibited by the lamb slain in Egypt, and by the red heifer burned without the camp, and moreover referred to by the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews , where he writes ‘Wherefore Jesus also that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.'" (Dialogues 3: The Impassable)

The tradition of Pauline authorship of the epistles of Hebrews was firmly established in the East by the second century. Barmby, Jerdan, and Gibson say the bishops from Alexandria and the ecclesiastical writers of Egypt, Syria and the Eastern Church generally credit the epistle of Hebrews to Paul the apostle. 23] However, it was not until the fourth century that the fathers of the Western Church acknowledged belief in this tradition. For example, the early Church fathers in north Africa, Tertullian and Cyprian, generally rejected Pauline authorship of Hebrews.

23] J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson, Hebrews , in The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction."

bb) Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) (Carthage, North Africa) (Primarily wrote in Latin) - In contrast, Tertullian, a theologian and ecclesiastical writer from Carthage, North Africa, tended to reflect the early Western tradition. He passed down the tradition that the epistle of Hebrews was credited to Barnabas. His statement reveals the fact that the authorship of this Epistle was questioned from the earliest times, particularly in the West, although Pauline authorship appears to be firmly established in the East. The fact that Tertullian quoted the Pauline epistles extensively, but not the epistle of Hebrews , reflected the fact that he did not hold its apostolic authority in high regard.

"For there is extant withal an Epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas--a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence: ‘Or else, I alone and Barnabas, have not we the power of working?'" (On Modesty 20)

cc) Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. c 258) (Carthage, North Africa) - While the tradition of Pauline authorship was establishing itself in Alexandria, Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, appears to follow the tradition of Tertullian by the fact that he gave numerous citations from all New Testament books except Philemon ,, Hebrews ,, 2 Peter , 2,3John and Jude. 24] Thus, he appears to view the epistle of Hebrews as non-canonical.

24] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 3 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 40-47, 52.

Eusebius tells us that the church at Rome was rejecting this Epistle as non-canonical during the time when the East embraced it.

dd) Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) (Bishop of Caesarea) - Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, is considered the father of Church history because he wrote the first, extensive history of the Church. He was a pupil of Pamphilus, who trained him in the tradition of Origen. After Pamphilus' death Eusebius fled to Egypt and was placed in prison for a period of time. In A. D 315 he became the bishop of Caesarea. In his most famous work Ecclesiastical History, he records the events of the Eastern Church, giving little attention to the Western Church. In this work he tells us that the authorship of Hebrews was not universally settled. He notes that the Western Church, particularly the church in Rome, rejected the canonicity of the epistle of Hebrews on the grounds it was not Pauline, and therefore lacked apostolic authority.

"Paul"s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews , saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul. But what has been said concerning this epistle by those who lived before our time I shall quote in the proper place." (Ecclesiastical History 335)

Eusebius mentions Caius, a Roman presbyter of the early third century, who was disputing the number of Pauline epistles. In his section, we are told that the authorship of the epistle of Hebrews was still being disputed to his day, particularly among the Latin churches, who reject its Pauline authorship.

"There flourished many learned men in the Church at that time, whose letters to each other have been preserved and are easily accessible. They have been kept until our time in the library at Aelia, which was established by Alexander, who at that time presided over that church. We have been able to gather from that library material for our present work. Among these Beryllus has left us, besides letters and treatises, various elegant works. He was bishop of Bostra in Arabia. Likewise also Hippolytus, who presided over another church, has left writings. There has reached us also a dialogue of Caius, a very learned Prayer of Manasseh , which was held at Rome under Zephyrinus, with Proclus, who contended for the Phrygian heresy. In this he curbs the rashness and boldness of his opponents in setting forth new Scriptures. He mentions only thirteen epistles of the holy apostle, not counting that to the Hebrews with the others. And unto our day there are some among the Romans who do not consider this a work of the apostle." (Ecclesiastical History 6201-3)

Eusebius does list the accepted books of the New Testament, and makes a lengthy discussion on the disputed books. It is interesting to note that he does not refer to the epistle of Hebrews as a disputed book, but appears to include in within "the epistles of Paul."

"Since we are dealing with this subject it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned. First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels; following them the Acts of the Apostles. After this must be reckoned the epistles of Paul; next in order the extanfinal former epistle of John , and likewise the epistle of Peter, must be maintained. After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John , concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings. Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized n by many, are extant the Song of Solomon -called epistle of James and that of Jude , also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John , whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the Song of Solomon -called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the Song of Solomon -called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John , if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews , with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books. But we have nevertheless felt compelled to give a catalogue of these also, distinguishing those works which according to ecclesiastical tradition are true and genuine and commonly accepted, from those others which, although not canonical but disputed, are yet at the same time known to most ecclesiastical writers--we have felt compelled to give this catalogue in order that we might be able to know both these works and those that are cited by the heretics under the name of the apostles, including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles, which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers has deemed worthy of mention in his writings. And further, the character of the style is at variance with apostolic usage, and both the thoughts and the purpose of the things that are related in them are so completely out of accord with true orthodoxy that they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious. Let us now proceed with our history." (Ecclesiastical History 3251-7)

ee) Irenaeus (A. D. c 130 to c 200) (Lyons, France) - It is difficult to determine if Irenaeus of France accepted Pauline authorship of the epistle of Hebrews. He quote from Hebrews 1:3, but does not mention the author. This lets us know that the Epistle was recognized by some bishops in the West as early as the second century as an authoritative writing.

"Or, again, if (which is indeed the only true supposition, as I have shown by numerous arguments of the very clearest nature) He (the Creator) made all things freely, and by His own power, and arranged and finished them, and His will is the substance of all things, then He is discovered to be the one only God who created all things, who alone is Omnipotent, and who is the only Father rounding and forming all things, visible and invisible, such as may be perceived by our senses and such as cannot, heavenly and earthly, "by the word of His power;" and He has fitted and arranged all things by His Wisdom of Solomon , while He contains all things, but He Himself can be contained by no one:" (Against Heresies 2309)

We have an allusion to Hebrews 11:5 when Irenaeus talked about Enoch pleasing God and being translated.

"And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows,-that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, ‘believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.' Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God"s legate to the angels although he was a Prayer of Manasseh , and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: ‘The Lord thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The Lord formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.'" (Against Heresies 4162)

Hebrews 11:5, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."

We do find a comment by Eusebius (A.D 260-340) that Irenaeus mentions the epistle of Hebrews and quotes from it (see Ecclesiastical History 5261-2). Although this means that Irenaeus had accepted the epistle of Hebrews as authoritative, it does not prove that Irenaeus, being of the West, followed the Eastern view of Pauline authorship. 25]

25] J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson, Hebrews , in The Pulpit Commentary, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction: 2The Authorship of the Epistle."

"Besides the works and letters of Irenaeus which we have mentioned, a certain book of his On Knowledge, written against the Greeks, very concise and remarkably forcible, is extant; and another, which he dedicated to a brother Martian, In Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching; and a volume containing various Dissertations, in which he mentions the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Song of Solomon -called Wisdom of Solomon , making quotations from them. These are the works of Irenaeus which have come to our knowledge. Commodus having ended his reign after thirteen years, Severus became emperor in less than six months after his death, Pertinax having reigned during the intervening time." (Ecclesiastical History 5261-2)

Photius of Constantinople (A.D 810-895) claims that Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, is said to have denied Pauline authorship of the epistle of Hebrews. Photius writes:

"Hippolytus and Irenaeus claim that the Letter to the Hebrews is not by Paul, but Clement and Eusebius and a numerous company of the other fathers count this letter among the others and say that Clement named above translated it from Hebrew." (Bibliotheca Codice 232) 26] (see also PG 103cols 1091-1108)

26] Photius, The Bibliotheca, Codices 230-241 [Extracts], trans. J. H. Freese, ed. Roger Pearse (Paris: Les Belles Lettres) [on-line]; accessed on 30 March 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/photius_copyright/photius 07bibliotheca.htm; Internet.

ff) Hippolytus (A. D. c 170 to c 236) (Constantinople, Asia Minor) - Hippolytus of Constantinople is generally considered the most important third century theologian of the Roman Church in the West. 27] Photius (A. D. c 810 to c 895), patriarch of Constantinople, quotes Hippolytus (A. D 200) as saying that the epistle of Hebrews was not of Pauline authorship. Photius writes, "And he [Hippolytus] says rather certain of the exactness being lacking and that the epistle to the Hebrews is not of the apostle Paul." (Bibliotheca Codice 121) (PG 103col 404A) (author's translation)

27] "Hippolytus, St," in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised, eds. F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 652.

gg) Novatian (A.D. c 200 to 258) (Rome) - Novatian, the Roman presbyter, does not make any clear citations of the epistle of Hebrews in any of his writings. Nathanial Lardner concludes that Novatian did not accept Pauline authorship although he notes several weak allusions that are made to the epistle of Hebrews. 28]

28] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 3 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 116.

hh) Victorinus (A.D. d.c 304) (Europe) - Victorinus, bishop of Pettau in the Roman province of Pannonia, does not cite the epistle of Hebrews in any of his writings. Nathanial Lardner concludes that Victorinus did not accept Pauline authorship, although he finds passages in his commentary on Revelation that makes allusions to Hebrews. 29]

29] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 3 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 177.

During the early fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. 30] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The convening of the early Church councils during the fourth century, beginning with the Council of Nicena (A.D 325) in Bithynia of northwest Asia Minor, moved the Church towards establishing the New Testament canon as we have it today. By the mid-fourth century, the West began to accept Pauline authorship of the epistle of Hebrews. For example, A. R. Faussett says Hilary of Poitiers, Lucifer of Cagliari, Ambrose of Milan (A.D 397), and other Latin fathers accepted Pauline authorship; he says, "and the Fifth Council of Carthage (a. d 419) formally reckons it [Hebrews] among his fourteen letters." 31] The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.

30] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 422-426.

31] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Hebrews , in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction."

ii) Hilary of Poitiers (A. D 315 to 367) (Poitiers, France) (Latin) - Hilary of Poitiers is considered the first Latin writer to directly attribute a quote from the epistle of Hebrews to Paul. He is said to have followed the writings of Origen.

"The Lord hath created Me for a beginning of His ways; that He is the perfect handiwork of God, though different from His other works, they prove, as to the first point, by what Paul writes to the Hebrews , Being made so much belief than the angels, as He possesseth a more excellent name than they, and again, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ, who is faithful to Him that made Him. For their depreciation of the might and majesty and Godhead of the Son they rely chiefly on His own words, The Father is greater than I." (On the Trinity 411)

jj) Lucifer of Cagliari (A.D. d 370/1) (Sardinia) - Lucifer, the bishop of Cagliari in Sardinia, cites from the epistle of Hebrews as written by Paul. Nathaniel Lardner quotes Lucifer as saying, "Beatus apostolus Paulus dicit ad Hebraeos: ‘Et Moyses quidem fidelis erat in totâ domo ejus tanquam servus.'" 32]

32] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 250.

kk) Ambrose of Milan (A. D. c 339 to 397) (Italy) - Nathaniel Lardner tells us that Ambrose, bishop of Milan, Italy, frequently quotes from the epistle of Hebrews and citing Paul as its author. 33]

33] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 334.

"Being then refuted by the clear example of the Apostle and by his writings, the heretics yet endeavour to resist further, and say that their opinion is supported by apostolic authority, bringing forward the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews: ‘For it is impossible that those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, should if they fall away be again renewed unto repentance, crucifying again the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.'" (Two Books Concerning Repentance 26) (NPF 2 10)

Although the epistle of Hebrews was canonized into the New Testament during the fourth century, its authorship continued to be questioned, not being fully accepted by everyone at that time, of which Philaster serves as an example.

ll) Philaster (d. c. A.D 397) (northern Italy) - Philaster, Bishop of Breseia in northern Italy, offers a catalogue of the accepted books of the New Testament, leaving out Hebrews and Revelation. He then explains that the authorship of the epistle of Hebrews was still disputed, evidently affecting its canonization into the New Testament by some.

"It was appointed by the apostles, and their successors, that nothing should be read in the catholic church, but the law, and the prophets, and the gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles, and thirteen epistles of Paul, and seven other, two of Peter, three of John , one of Jude , and one of James , which seven are joined with the Acts of the Apostles. But the hidden, that Isaiah , apocryphal scriptures, though they ought to be read by the perfect, for the improvement of men's manners, may not be read by all." (Liber de Heresibus 88) (PL 12cols 1199-1200) 34]

34] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 385-386.

"There are others also, who do not allow the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews to be his; but say, it is either an epistle of Barnabas the apostle, or of Clement bishop of Rome. But others say, it is an epistle of Luke the evangelist. And some receive an epistle to the Laodiceans. Some pretend, that additions have been made to it by some heterodox persons, and that for that reason, it ought not to be read in the churches, though it is read by some. But in the church are read to the people his thirteen epistles only, and that to the Hebrews sometimes. Moreover some reject it as more eloquent than the apostle's other writings, and because Christ is here said to be ‘made:' and because of what he says of repentance, which the Novatians make an advantage of." (Liber de Heresibus 89) (PL 12cols 1200-1201) 35]

35] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 386.

Jerome, Augustine, and others accepted Pauline authorship and discuss the issues regarding this dispute in their writings.

mm) Jerome (A.D 342to 420) (Born in Strido, Italy) - Jerome was born at Strido near Aquileia, studied at Rome, and traveled to Gaul before joining some friends in an ascetic lifestyle. He eventually traveled to Palestine where he learned the Hebrew language. He later returned to Rome and acted as secretary to Pope Damascus. He then returned to Egypt, Palestine and settled in Bethlehem and founded a monastery there, where he devoted the rest of his life to studies. Jerome clearly mentions Paul as the author of Hebrews , and quotes from the Epistle as authoritative Scripture.

"But if Enoch was translated, and Noah was preserved at the deluge, I do not think that Enoch was translated because he had a wife, but because he was the first to call upon God and to believe in the Creator; and the Apostle Paul fully instructs us concerning him in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Noah, moreover, who was preserved as a kind of second root for the human race, must of course be preserved together with his wife and sons, although in this there is a Scripture mystery." (Against Jovinianus 117)

"And the Apostle, writing to the Hebrews , says ‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things spoken, lest haply we flow forth beyond.'" (Against Jovinianus 128)

"Paul, the chosen vessel, chastised his body, and brought it into subjection, lest after preaching to others he himself should be found a reprobate, and he tells that there was given to him "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet" him. And to the Corinthians he writes:…And Song of Solomon , too, in the epistle to the Hebrews: ‘For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.' Surely we cannot deny that they have been baptized who have been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God. But if the baptized cannot sin, how is it now that the Apostle says, ‘And have fallen away?'" (Against Jovinianus 23)

Jerome quotes the Church fathers as suggesting Barnabas, Luke and Clement of Rome as possible authors. He mentions its rejection by the church at Rome. But he explains that Paul may not have subscribed his name to this lengthy epistle since he himself was in disrepute among the Hebrews.

"The epistle which is called the Epistle to the Hebrews is not considered his, on account of its difference from the others in style and language, but it is reckoned, either according to Tertullian to be the work of Barnabas, or according to others, to be by Luke the Evangelist or Clement afterwards bishop of the church at Rome, who, they say, arranged and adorned the ideas of Paul in his own language, though to be sure, since Paul was writing to Hebrews and was in disrepute among them he may have omitted his name from the salvation on this account. He being a Hebrew wrote Hebrew, that is his own tongue and most fluently while the things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek and this is the reason why it seems to differ from other epistles of Paul. Some read one also to the Laodiceans but it is rejected by everyone." (Lives of Illustrious Men 5)

J. Barmby tells us that Jerome says regardless of the stance in the West, the fact that the epistle of Hebrews has been accepted by the entire Eastern Church, and that is has been considered canonical by the Greek Fathers, justifies its acceptance into the New Testament canon (Epistle 129: ad Dardanum) (PL 22col 1103C). 36]

36] J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson, Hebrews , in The Pulpit Commentary, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction."

nn) St. Augustine of Hippo (A. D 354to 430) (Hippo, North Africa) - Augustine lists Paul with fourteen epistles, implying his authorship of Hebrews.

"…The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books. That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:--Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew , according to Mark , according to Luke , according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul--one to the Romans , two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians , to the Ephesians , to the Philippians , two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians , two to Timothy, one to Titus , to Philemon , to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John." (On Christian Doctrine 28) (NPF 1 2)

In his writing The City of God, Augustine ascribes this Epistle to Paul, but acknowledges its disputed authorship by many.

"Having received this oracle of promise, Abraham migrated, and remained in another place of the same land, that Isaiah , beside the oak of Mature, which was Hebron. Then on the invasion of Sodom, when five kings carried on war against four, and Lot was taken captive with the conquered Sodomites, Abraham delivered him from the enemy, leading with him to battle three hundred and eighteen of his home-born servants, and won the victory for the kings of Sodom, but would take nothing of the spoils when offered by the king for whom he had won them. He was then openly blessed by Melchizedek, who was priest of God Most High, about whom many and great things are written in the epistle which is inscribed to the Hebrews , which most say is by the Apostle Paul, though some deny this. For then first appeared the sacrifice which is now offered to God by Christians in the whole wide world, and that is fulfilled which long after the event was said by the prophet to Christ, who was yet to come in the fresh, ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,' --that is to say, not after the order of Aaron, for that order was to be taken away when the things shone forth which were intimated beforehand by these shadows." (The City of God 1622) (NPF 1 2)

Augustine quotes from the epistle of Hebrews as authoritative Scripture on numerous occasions but usually avoiding mentioning the name of Paul with the reference.

"Moreover, these words in the Epistle to the Hebrews concerning the ancient believers, ‘God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,' will be endangered, if these believers have been already established in that incorruptible resurrection-state which is promised to us when we are to be made perfect at the end of the world." (Letter CLXIV 39) (NPF 1 1)

"In the epistle entitled ‘To the Hebrews' it is said, ‘To do good and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.' And. Song of Solomon , when it is written, ‘I desire mercy rather than sacrifice,' nothing else is meant than that one sacrifice is preferred to another; for that which in common speech is called sacrifice is only the symbol of the true sacrifice." (The City of God 105)

"Whence it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews , ‘Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed.' For both were old, as the Scripture testifies; but she was also barren, and had ceased to menstruate, so that she could no longer bear children even if she had not been barren." (The City of God 1628) (NPF 1 2)

"But that they were angels the Scripture testifies, not only in this book of Genesis , in which these transactions are related, but also in the Epistle to the Hebrews , where in praising hospitality it is said, ‘For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.'" (The City of God 1629) (NPF 1 2)

"Therefore the father, holding fast from the first the promise which behoved to be fulfilled through this son whom God had ordered him to slay, did not doubt that he whom he once thought it hopeless he should ever receive would be restored to him when he had offered him up. It is in this way the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews is also to be understood and explained. ‘By faith,' he says, ‘Abraham overcame, when tempted about Isaac: and he who had received the promise offered up his only Song of Solomon , to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: thinking that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;' therefore he has added, ‘from whence also he received him in a similitude.' In whose similitude but His of whom the apostle says, ‘He that spared not His own Song of Solomon , but delivered Him up for us all?'" "But that they were angels the Scripture testifies, not only in this book of Genesis , in which these transactions are related, but also in the Epistle to the Hebrews , where in praising hospitality it is said, ‘For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.'" (The City of God 1632) (NPF 1 2)

Augustine mentions that the Eastern Churches have received this Epistle as canonical, but that its canonicity has been doubted by some.

"Although the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews is doubted by some, nevertheless, as I find it sometimes thought by persons, who oppose our opinion touching the baptism of infants, to contain evidence in favour of their own views, we shall notice the pointed testimony it bears in our behalf; and I quote it the more confidently, because of the authority of the Eastern Churches, which expressly place it amongst the canonical Scriptures." (A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants 150) (NPF 1 5)

oo) Theodoret (A. D. c 393to c 466) (Syria) - Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria, was born in Antioch and educated in its monastery schools. In his preface to his commentary on Hebrews he defends its apostolic authority. He writes, "It is no wonder that those who are infected with the Arian malady should rage against the apostolic writings, separating the epistle to the Hebrews from the rest, and calling it spurious." 37] From the comments of Theodoret about the controversial Arian doctrines, it appears that this heretical group supported the view of non-Pauline authorship of Hebrews. This division within the Church may have contributed to the controversy surrounding this Epistle.

37] Translated by J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson, Hebrews , in The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction."

Adam Clarke writes, "Theodoret says, that ‘Paul was especially the apostle of the Gentiles; for which he alleges Gal. ii:9, and Rom. xi:13. ‘Therefore writing to the Hebrews , who were not intrusted to his care, he barely delivered the doctrine of the Gospel without assuming any character of authority, for they were the charge of the other apostles.'" 38] (Interpretation to the Epistle of Hebrews) (PG 82col 676C)

38] Adam Clarke, Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

pp) Euthalius (c. mid-4th or 5th century) - Euthalius records the fact that the authorship of Hebrews was a continuing controversy during his day. He says, "And the epistle to the Hebrews seems not to be of Paul because of the style, and there is no introduction as in all the epistles, and the saying, ‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders.' Therefore indeed the reason is obvious that the style is different. For (the Epistle) to have been written to the Hebrews in their own language is said to have been afterwards translated, according to some by Luke , but according to the majority by Clement; for it preserves his style." (Argument to the Epistle of Hebrews) (PG 85 Colossians 776B) (translated by J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson and by author) 39]

39] J. Barmby, C. Jerdan, and Edgar C. S. Gibson, Hebrews , in The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction."

qq) John of Damascus (A. D 675 to c 749) - The Greek theologian John of Damascus reveals that the Pauline tradition of the authorship of Hebrews was popular among the church during the seventh century by his listing of the Apostle Paul as the author of fourteen epistles.

"The New Testament contains four gospels, that according to Matthew , that according to Mark , that according to Luke , that according to John: the Acts of the Holy Apostles by Luke the Evangelist: seven catholic epistles, viz. one of James , two of Peter, three of John , one of Jude: fourteen letters of the Apostle Paul: the Revelation of John the Evangelist: the Canons of the holy apostles, by Clement." (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 417) (NPF 2 9)

rr) St. Thomas Aquinas (c 1225-74) - St. Thomas Aquinas does not take a clear position on its authorship, but offers a brief discussion on the history of this disputed issue. 40]

40] Thomas Aquinas writes, "[B]efore we come to the task of dividing this epistle, it should be noted that before the Council of Nicaea, some doubted that this was one of Paul's epistles for two reasons: first, because it does not follow the pattern of the other epistles. For there is no salutation and no name of the author. Secondly, it does not have the style of the others; indeed, it is more elegant. Furthermore, no other work of Scripture proceeds in such an orderly manner in the sequence of words and sentences as this one. Hence, they said that it was the work of Luke , the evangelist, or of Barnabas or Pope Clement. For he wrote to the Athenians according to this style. Nevertheless, the old doctors, especially Dionysius and certain others, accept the words of this epistle as being Paul's testimony. Jerome, too, acknowledges it as Paul's epistle." (Prologue to Commentary on Hebrews) Translated by Don Paco, "Was Paul the Author to the Epistle of Hebrews ," (Ite ad Thomam) (22January 2010); accessed 30 August 2010; available from http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2010/01/was-st-paul-author-of-epistle-to.html; Internet; See Divi Thomae Aquinatis ex ordine Praedicatorum Doctoris Angelici in omnes D. Pauli Apostoli Epistolas Commentaria, tomus 3 (Leodii: H. Dessian), 192.

ss) Ebedjesu (d 1318) - Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote fourteen epistles, which includes the epistle of Hebrews , "Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the Epistle to the Hebrews , written in Italy, and sent by the hands of Timothy, the spiritual son." 41]

41] Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362-363.

2. Manuscript Evidence - Paul's epistles are found in numerous early Greek manuscripts. One of the earliest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty codex (p 46), which was probably written in Egypt near the end of the second century, contains eight Pauline epistles ( Romans , 1 & 2 Corinthians ,, Galatians ,, Ephesians ,, Philippians ,, Colossians , 1Thess) and the epistle of Hebrews. 42] It probably contained the entire Pauline corpus in its original collection. There are a number of third century manuscripts that contain portions of the Pauline corpus, and a number of fourth century manuscripts that originally contained the entire New Testament (Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus). These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of General Epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.

42] Philip W. Comfort, and David P. Barrett, eds, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, c 1999, 2001), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "P 46 (P. Chester Beatty II + P. Mich. Inv 6238)."

It is interested to note that p 46 places the epistle of Hebrews among the other thirteen Pauline epistles. This ancient manuscript places it immediately after the epistle of Romans. Harrison tells us that in later years "the position of the epistle of Hebrews varies considerably" in ancient manuscripts, "but it is found either embedded" in the Pauline Corpus, or attached at the end. 43] Guthrie notes that in the majority of ancient manuscripts the epistle of Hebrews is placed "after 2Thessalonians and before the personal epistles." 44]

43] Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c 1964, 1971), 368.

44] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 670.

3. Early Versions- The earliest translations of the New Testament included the Pauline epistles and Hebrews; the Old Latin (2nd to 4th c), the Peshitta (3rd to 4th c), the Coptic (3rd to 4th c), the Armenian (5th c), the Georgian (5th c), and the Ethiopic (6th c). 45] The Pauline epistles and Hebrews would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.

45] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts , Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis ( Acts , Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome's Vulgate (beginning A. D 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c 1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.

C. Catholicity- The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, "The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church." 46] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.

46] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 12.

1. Early Church Canons - The Muratorian Canon (A.D 180) included Paul's thirteen New Testament epistles, but it makes no reference to the epistle of Hebrews. If it were mentioned later in the missing part of this ancient document, we can assume from its omission from the list of Pauline epistles that it was not intended to be credited to him.

2. Early Church Councils- The Church councils of the fourth and fifth century, when listing the canonical Scriptures, generally credit the epistle of Hebrews to Paul. The Roman Catholic Church followed early Church tradition on the Pauline authorship of Hebrews , emerging from the medieval period with a statement at the Council of Trent (1546) that credits Paul with fourteen New Testament epistles. It reads, "…fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle…," then lists Hebrews among them. 47]

47] A. Nampon, Catholic Doctrine as Defined by the Council of Trent (Philadelphia, PA: Peter F. Cunningham and Song of Solomon , 1869), 9.

Thus, the strong tradition of Pauline authorship for the epistle of Hebrews held strong for centuries, 48] and was not seriously questioned until the age of the Reformation. At this time, we find scholars and reformers like Erasmus, 49] Martin Luther, 50] Calvin, 51] Hugo Grotius, 52] and other Church leaders rejecting Pauline authorship despite the fact that the tradition of Pauline authorship was deeply rooted within the Catholic Church and Protestant churches. 53] During and after the Reformation, many Church leaders felt the liberty to question the strong tradition of Pauline authorship. In the twentieth century, the majority of biblical scholars reject Pauline authorship by shifting the weight of evidence away from the early Church fathers and towards modern, critical methods. 54]

48] Nathaniel Lardner, Adam Clarke, and Albert Barnes list additional references from the early Church fathers and church councils that support Pauline authorship of the epistle of Hebrews. Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathanial Lardner (London: T. Bensley, 1815); Adam Clarke, Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction"; Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

49] At the end of his annotations on the epistle of Hebrews , Erasmus writes, "as it differs considerably, where the phraseology is concerned, from the style of Paul, so it most definitely accords with the spirit and sentiment of Paul…If the Church in fact defines it as Paul's, I willingly submit my intellect to the obedience of faith, though as far as I can judge it does not seem to be his…And even if I knew for a fact that it was not Paul's, the matter is not worth fighting over." Cited by Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), 23.

50] Phillip Hughes tells us that "in a gloss on Hebrews 2:3" Martin Luther rejected Pauline authorship based on internal evidence, stating that the phrase "and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" ( Hebrews 2:3) excludes Paul, who received the Gospel by a direct revelation of Jesus Christ. Hughes and David Allen tell us that he mentions this sentiment in 1522in a sermon on Hebrews 1:1-4 (Sermons 7167). See Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), 23; and David Allen, Hebrews , in The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, vol 35, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 46.

51] John Calvin writes, "I indeed, can adduce no reason to show that Paul was its author; for they who say that he designedly suppressed his name because it was hateful to the Jews, bring nothing to the purpose; for why, then, did he mention the name of Timothy as by this he betrayed himself. But the manner it of teaching, and the style, sufficiently show that Paul was not the author; and the writer himself confesses in the second chapter that he was one of the disciples of the Apostles, which is wholly different from the way in which Paul spoke of himself. Besides, what is said of the practice of catechizing in the sixth chapter, does not well suit the time or age of Paul. There are other things which we shall notice in their proper places." See John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , trans. John Owen (Edinburgh, 1853), xxvii.

52] See Hugonis Grotii, Annotationes in Novum Testamentum (Groningae: W. Zuidema, 1829), 348-349.

53] Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913), 199-203.

54] David L. Allen, Hebrews , in The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, vol 35, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 34.

Arguments Against Pauline Authorship- There are a number of arguments against Pauline authorship. Perhaps the three strongest arguments are mentioned as early as Euthalius (c. mid-4th or 5th century), whose words are cited above under the testimony of the early Church fathers. 55] (1) Its Style is Polished Greek - Some scholars argue that the Greek of the epistle of Hebrews is polished, deliberate and without the ruggedness and outbursts of emotion, without the digressions of thought that characterize Pauline epistle. However, if Luke translated it from the Hebrew language, as Clement of Alexandria testified, then this would account for a difference in style. 56] (2) Its Lack of a Salutation - It is characteristic for Pauline letters to include the author and recipients of the letter, as well as some mention of Paul's apostolic office. Thus, it can be argued against Pauline authorship that the Epistle lacks the characteristic salutation and apostolic references. (3) The Author was a Second Generation Christian - Hebrews 2:3 seems to describe the author as a second-generation Christian. Such a description is not typical Pauline, in that he calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ in his epistles, and that he received his revelation of the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ. (4) The Use of the Septuagint- It can be argued that while Paul's writings used a mixture of Greek and Hebrew sources for his Old Testament quotes, the author of Hebrews adheres mostly to the Septuagint.

55] See Euthalius' Argument to the Epistle of Hebrews (PG 85 Colossians 776B).

56] Eusebius quotes Clement of Alexandria, saying, "He [Clement] says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. (Ecclesiastical History 6142-4)

A debate also exists as to whether the epistle of Hebrews is a translation from Hebrew, as some early Church fathers testify, or was originally written in Greek. Many scholars argue that the Greek text is original and not a translation. For many of those, the view that Paul wrote this Epistle in the Greek is still acceptable. Calvin, who rejected Pauline authorship, draws upon the Greek word for "testament" used in the Epistle, which would not have been used had Luke translated the Epistle from Hebrew to Greek, as one Clement of Alexander testifies.

Some have suggested that the epistle of Hebrews was written by one of Paul's colleagues so that his views were incorporated within this Epistle, and that it was sent to him and endorsed by him. There is also the view that the epistle of Hebrews was written independently by one of Paul's colleagues. Three other individuals, all within the Pauline circle, have been mentioned of by the early Church fathers as possible authors of this Epistle: Barnabas (mentioned by Tertullian), 57] Luke (mentioned by Origen), 58] and Clement of Rome (mentioned by Clement of Alexandria 59] and Origen 60]). Martin Luther adds a fifth candidate by suggesting Apollos was the author.

57] Tertullian writes, "For there is extant withal an Epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas—a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence: ‘Or else, I alone and Barnabas, have not we the power of working?'" And, of course, the Epistle of Barnabas is more generally received among the Churches than that apocryphal ‘Shepherd' of adulterers." (On Modesty 20)

58] Origen says, "But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans , wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke , the author of the Gospel and the Acts , wrote it.' But let this suffice on these matters." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 62514)

59] Eusebius quotes Clement of Alexandria as saying, "‘But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans , wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke , the author of the Gospel and the Acts , wrote it.'" (Ecclesiastical History 62514)

60] Origen says, "But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans , wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke , the author of the Gospel and the Acts , wrote it.' But let this suffice on these matters." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 62514)

Arguments for Barnabas as the Author of Hebrews - If we consider Barnabas as a possible author, as testified by Tertullian, we do find that this individual was a Levite ( Acts 4:36), and thus, familiar with the Levitical priesthood. His close association with Paul would explain the Pauline flavor of the theology found in Hebrews. We see that Barnabas was called the "son of consolation" in Acts 4:36, which can be compared to the closing statement in Hebrews 13:22 that calls this Epistle a "word of exhortation." Two other ancient witnesses exist that refer to Barnabas as a possible author. It is noted in the fourth-century Tractatus de Libris, written by Gregory of Elvria, who says, "The most holy Barnabas says, ‘Through him we offer to God the sacrifice of lips that acknowledge his name.'" 61] Also, Philastrius, a fourth-century bishop of Brescia, mentions the traditional views of Paul, Barnabas, Clement, and Luke (Liber de Heresibus 89) (PL 12cols 1200-1201). Guthrie notes that these two witnesses represent the Western church, which largely rejected Pauline authorship. Offering commenting against Barnabas as a possible author, Guthrie says the residence of Barnabas in Jerusalem would have allowed him to see Jesus, while the author of Hebrews depended upon eye-witnesses to the Saviour. Guthrie also notes that a comparison of the epistle of Hebrews with The Epistle of Barnabas reveals two distinct writers and mindsets; for the later work is considered far inferior in its spiritual grasp and in its understanding of the problem which it is dealing with. 62]

61] Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), 25.

62] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 674-676.

Argument for Clement as the Author of Hebrews - If we consider Clement of Rome as a possible author, as Origen mentioned, we note how his epistle contains many parallels and allusions to the epistle of Hebrews. However, it is more likely that Clement's familiarity with Hebrews led to these parallel statements in his epistle. Guthrie notes how Westcott demonstrates that the differences outweigh the similarities of these two epistles, thus, weakening any argument for Clement as the author of Hebrews. 63]

63] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 677-678.

Argument for Apollos as the Author of Hebrews - In 1537 Martin Luther delivered a sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:4 ff saying, "This Apollos is a man of intelligence. The epistle of Hebrews is certainly from him." In 1545 he repeats this sentiment during his lecture on Genesis 48:20. 64] Such views favoring Apollos could be based on the fact that he was a native of Alexandrian, which would account for the Alexandrian coloring of the Epistle, 65] and because his eloquence ( Acts 18:24) would explain the advanced Greek style of writing, and because his close affinity with Paul would account for the similarity of Pauline doctrine and statements. In addition, his knowledge of the Scriptures would explain the biblical content of the Epistle. Also, he was in contact with Timothy, and he has influence in the churches. 66] However, there is no early Church attestation to the theory that Apollos wrote Hebrews , unlike the others mentioned above, thus, weakening this argument.

64] Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977.

65] Frdric Godet, Studies on the Epistle of St. Paul, trans. Annie Harwood Holmden (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 313.

66] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 679.

Argument for Luke as the Author of Hebrews - Perhaps the strongest argument for authorship outside of Paul the apostle rests with Luke , the beloved physician, and perhaps the most extensive work on Lucan author can be found in a book by David Allen called Lucan Authorship of Hebrews. 67] Allen offers three approaches that scholars usually take when discussing how Luke may have written this epistle. (1) Luke translated Paul's Hebrew text into the Greek language, or (2) Luke wrote under Paul's guidance, or (3) Luke wrote independently of Paul.

67] David L. Allen, Lucan Authorship of Hebrews , in New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology, vol 8, ed. E. Ray Clendenon (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010).

In Allen's discussion of Lukan authorship, a view that has been mentioned since the time of Origen, he offers a number of lexical, stylistic, literary, and theological similarities between Luke -Acts and Hebrews , as well as possible support regarding Luke's identity as a Jew rather than a Gentile.

(1) Lexical Similarities - Luke ,, Acts , and Hebrews share a large number of similar words. B. F. Westcott offers a list of words and phrases that are uniquely shared between these writings. 68] David Allen says two-thirds of the words that are used in Hebrews can also be found in Luke -Acts. 69]

68] Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (London: MacMillan and Co, Ltd, 1903), xlviii.

69] David L. Allen, Lucan Authorship of Hebrews , in New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology, vol 8, ed. E. Ray Clendenon (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 87.

(2) Stylistic Similarities - Luke ,, Acts , and Hebrews are the closest in the New Testament to classical Greek in style. B. F. Westcott lists the large number of classical words that are unique to this New Testament epistle. 70] Also, Luke and the author of Hebrews employ alliteration in the prologues of their writings by using words that begin with the Greek letter " π." Within the opening sentences of Luke's prologue to his Gospel and to the book of Acts and in the epistle of Hebrews are found five words whose lexical form begins with the letter " π." David Allen cites this "signature" in Luke -Acts to argue for Lucan authorship to the epistle of Hebrews as well. 71]

70] Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (London: MacMillan and Co, Ltd, 1903), xlv.

71] David L. Allen, "Class Lecture," Doctor of Ministry Seminar, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 25 July to 5 August 2011.

(3) Literary Similarities- Note that there are certainly affinities between the literary contents of Luke - Acts and the epistle of Hebrews. For example, we see similar summaries of Hebrew history in Stephen's speech in Acts 7 and in Hebrews 11. In addition, Luke -Acts and Hebrews mention Abraham's call and his future inheritance; both mention Jacob and Joseph; both mention details from the life of Moses; both discuss the Tabernacle; and both mention the giving of the Law by the hand of angels.

(4) Theological Similarities - David Allen discusses particular theological similarities between Luke -Acts and Hebrews , beginning with Christology and Angelology. Regarding the theme of Christology, he mentions a number of allusions in Luke -Acts to Jesus' priestly office, as well as Luke's unique emphasis of Christ's exaltation among the Gospel writers. In addition, both writers make frequent mention of angels. Allen lists a number of other theological similarities. 72]

72] David L. Allen, Lucan Authorship of Hebrews , in New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology, vol 8, ed. E. Ray Clendenon (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 196-235.

(5) Luke's Identity as a Gentile or a Jew - Luke's identity as a Gentile has been popularized in recent years unnecessarily, largely based upon the argument that Paul grouped Luke with Gentile brethren in his final greetings of Colossians 4:7-14. Nathaniel Lardner reflects the views of the early Church fathers, who make no mention Luke's Gentile affiliation. David Allen makes a strong argument for a Jewish background. 73] If Luke were of Jewish background, it was add strength to the argument that he was capable of writing the epistle of Hebrews.

73] David L. Allen, Lucan Authorship of Hebrews , in New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology, vol 8, ed. E. Ray Clendenon (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010).

"St. Luke was a Jew by birth, at least by religion. None of the writers out of whom we have made collections, call him a Gentile. Some, in Jerome's time, whose names we do not know, said, Luke had been a Jewish proselyte, that Isaiah , had been converted from gentilism to Judaism, and afterwards became a Christian: but none, that I remember, expressly say that he was converted from gentilism to Christianity." 74]

74] Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 362.

Summary of Authorship of the Epistle of Hebrews - It is important to note that none of the suggested authors to the epistle of Hebrews other than Paul and Luke made as significant theological contributions to the early Church. In conclusion, it appears that the weight of testimony from the early Church fathers favors the view that Paul the apostle actually wrote the epistle of Hebrews , while the evidence of modern literary critical methods favors Lucan authorship. Whether Paul wrote it in the Hebrew language, and Luke later translated it into Greek for the Gentile believers, can always be debated, but the testimony of Pauline and Lucan authorship is not easily dismissed. I suggest that Luke either wrote the epistle of Hebrews as Paul's amanuensis, or that Paul commissioned Luke to write the epistle. Had Luke wrote the epistle of Hebrews without Paul's consent, this epistle would have lacked the apostolic authority that is characteristic of all New Testament literature and a major criteria for its canonization. 75] For example, Mark is believed to have written his Gospel under the authority of Peter the apostle.

75] Corey Keating writes, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon, Pasadena, California: Fuller Theological Seminary, 2000[on-line]; accessed 18 August 2011; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet, 2.

III. Date and Place of Writing

Many conservative scholars date writing of the epistle of Hebrews in the mid to late-60's and place it in the city of Rome, most likely by Paul the apostle during the latter part of his life. This group of scholars naturally place this Epistle during or shortly after Paul's first Roman imprisonment (A.D 63), or during Paul's second imprisonment (A.D 66).

A. Date - Although the authorship and canonicity of the epistle of Hebrews has long been disputed by the early fathers, its early date of writing has received general agreement.

1. Internal Evidence - There are a number of testimonies within the epistle of Hebrews that led scholars to give it an early date of writing during the apostolic era of the first century Church.

a) No Reference to the Destruction of the Temple in A.D 70 - The fact that there is no reference to the destruction of the Temple by Titus in A.D 70 leads most conservative scholars to date this Epistle before this historical event.

b) References to Temple Worship - The many passages within the book of Hebrews on Temple worship ( Hebrews 5:1-4, Hebrews 7:21; Hebrews 7:23; Hebrews 7:27-28; Hebrews 8:3-4, Hebrews 13 : Hebrews 9:6; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:4; Hebrews 10:11; Hebrews 13:11) imply that the Temple was still standing and was being used in daily temple service. These passages refer to Temple worship in the present tense. The author uses these passages to argue that Jesus Christ fulfilled all need for any further Temple sacrifices, and that it should be done away with in one's service to God. This would date the epistle before A.D 70, when Herod"s temple was destroyed by the Romans. Note:

Hebrews 7:8, "And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth."

Hebrews 8:4, "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:"

Hebrews 10:1-2, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins."

Hebrews 10:8, "Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;"

Hebrews 10:11, "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:"

Hebrews 13:10, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."

However, serious objections have been raised to this view. First, other later writings used the present tense to describe Temple worship (1Clement, 76] Josephus, Justin Martyr, 77] the Talmud), making this a historical present tense in the Greek text that is used in literature to bring the reader into the role as a participant in a story rather than an observer. In addition, some argue that the epistle of Hebrews emphasizes the rituals of the pre-Solomonic Tabernacle services, rather than the later Temple, thus weakening the view that the author was referring to Jewish worship in the Herodian Temple. 78]

76] Clement of Rome writes, "Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned." (1Clement 41)

77] Justin Martyr writes, "Accordingly He neither takes sacrifices from you nor commanded them at first to be offered because they are needful to Him, but because of your sins. For indeed the temple, which is called the temple in Jerusalem, He admitted to be His house or court, not as though He needed it, but in order that you, in this view of it, giving yourselves to Him, might not worship idols." (Dialogue of Justin 22)

78] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 317.

c) Warnings Against Judaism and its Traditions- The message of the Epistle in warning these believers not to be drawn back into Judaism and into its legal system implies that this religion had not yet been broken up by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jew scattered from this central location. In other words, such a warning would not have been as necessary had the Temple worship and sacrifices been done away, which was the case after A.D 70.

d) A Reference to Timothy, Paul's Companion- The reference to Timothy ( Hebrews 13:23), one of Paul's companions, shows that he was still alive when this Epistle was written. This statement supports an early date this epistle, perhaps during the time of Paul's missionary work.

Hebrews 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"

e) References to Some Degree of Persecutions- The phrase "you have not yet resisted unto blood" ( Hebrews 12:4) implies that these believers had not yet experienced martyrdom. This fact suggests that the first Neronian persecutions (A.D 64) had not yet reached this Church community, or that it refers to an earlier time of persecutions, such as the Palestinian Jewish converts experienced in the book of Acts. For those scholars who do associate these persecution passages with Nero, a date before or at the beginning of the widespread persecutions is accepted.

Hebrews 12:4, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."

The argument for a reference to the time of Nero is weak; for this epistle refers to some persecutions that they had gone through in "the former days" ( Hebrews 10:32), or a distant past, which would more likely refer to those persecutions described in the book of Acts.

Hebrews 10:32-34, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 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."

f) The Author was a Second-Generation Christian - Whoever wrote the epistle of Hebrews was a second-generation Christian; for it says in Hebrews 2:3, "which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." Thus, we cannot date this Epistle late into the first century.

Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"

g) The Author Implies that He was Imprisoned - The author of Hebrews asks his recipients to pray for him that he might be restored to them sooner ( Hebrews 13:18-19). Within a few verses he also sends greetings from his fellow Christians of Italy. These two verses imply that Paul was currently in prison in Rome at the time of writing. For this reason, many scholars date Hebrews around A.D 61-62during Paul's first imprisonment, or soon after his release in A.D 63.

Hebrews 13:18-19, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner."

Hebrews 13:24, "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you."

In addition, we cannot date this epistle earlier than the 60's because of internal evidence. The author refers to "former days" when they were illumined, and of former persecutions. Thus, enough time had gone by to allow the Hebrews to depart from the faith.

2. External Evidence - We have a number of facts that lend themselves as evidence towards an early date of writing for the epistle of Hebrews.

a) Paul or Luke as the Most Likely Author- If Paul were the author of this Epistle, which tradition holds a strong view by many of the Church fathers, then this Epistle could not have been written later than the mid-60's, which is the traditional date of Paul's death. If Luke was the author, the epistle still has an early date of writing.

b) The Earliest Church Fathers Paraphrase this Epistle- Clement of Rome uses language in his Epistle to the Corinthians (A.D 96) that appears to be a paraphrase from the book of Hebrews , as cited above, which serves as evidence that the epistle of Hebrews was written before Clement"s epistle. In addition, Polycarp 79] and Justin Martyr 80] use phrases from this Epistle. Thus, it must have been a first-century document.

79] See Polycarp, The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 6, 12.

80] See Justin Martyr, First Apology 12, and First Apology 63.

c) The Most Ancient Versions Include this Epistle- The earliest versions of the New Testament, such as the Syriac Version (A.D 160), include the epistle of Hebrews.

d) St. John Chrysostom (A.D 347 to 407) - John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, in his homilies on the epistle of Hebrews , says that Paul wrote to the Jews in Jerusalem and Palestine before his first Roman captivity in A.D 61-63.

"Why, then, not being a teacher of the Jews, does he send an Epistle to them? And where were those to whom he sent it? It seems to me in Jerusalem and Palestine. How then does he send them an Epistle? Just as he baptized, though he was not commanded to baptize. For, he says, ‘I was not sent to baptize': not, however, that he was forbidden, but he does it as a subordinate matter. And how could he fail to write to those, for whom he was willing even to become accursed? Accordingly he said, ‘Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.' or as yet he was not arrested. Two years then he passed bound, in Rome; then he was set free; then, having gone into Spain, he saw Jews also in like manner; and then he returned to Rome, where also he was slain by Nero. The Epistle to Timothy then was later than this Epistle. For there he says, ‘For I am now ready to be offered'; there also he says, ‘In my first answer no man stood with me.'" (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Argument, and Summary of Hebrews 2) (NPF 1 14)

B. Place of Writing - We find the clearest evidence for a possible place of writing for the epistle of Hebrews in the author's closing greetings of Hebrews 13:24 when he says, "They of Italy salute you." A conservative view is to understand that place of writing to be Rome.

Hebrews 13:24, "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you."

The early Church fathers were unanimous in placing Paul in Italy when writing the epistle of Hebrews.

1. John Chrysostom (A.D 347-406) - John Chrysostom places Paul in Rome when writing the epistle of Hebrews.

John Chrysostom writes, "But it was from Rome he wrote to the Philippians; wherefore he says. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar"s household: and to the Hebrews from thence likewise, wherefore, he says, all they of Italy salute them." 81]

81] John Chrysostom, Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Romans , in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol 7 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 3.

2. Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) - Theodoret places Paul in Rome when writing the epistle of Hebrews , saying, "After these he wrote to the Hebrews , and indeed from Rome, as he taught at the end; for he says, ‘Those of Italy greet you.'" (Interpretation of Epistle to Hebrews) (PG 82col 44A) (author's translation)

3. Euthalius (5th c.) - In his argument to the epistle to Hebrews , Euthalius writes, "This one he sent from Italy." (PG 85 Colossians 773C) (author's translation)

4. Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) (4th-6th c.) - In the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture, Pseudo-Athanasius begins his summary of Hebrews by saying, "This one he sends from Italy" (PG 28 Colossians 424C) (author's translation)

5. Ebedjesu (d 1318) - Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews from Italy. 82]

82] Ebedjesu writes, "Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the Epistle to the Hebrews , written in Italy, and sent by the hands of Timothy, the spiritual son." See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362-363.

6. The Authorized Version (1611) - Euthalius, an unknown deacon of the fifth century, is believed to have provided the testimonies for the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles found in the Authorized Version (1611). 83] However, not all of these subscriptions match the comments of Euthalius (compare the differences in 1,2Corinthians and 2Thessalonians). Thus, the committee of the Authorized Version probably relied on various sources for their subscriptions. A subscription attached to this epistle of Hebrews in the Authorized Version (1611) reads, "Written to the Hebrewes, from Italy, by Timothie." 84]

83] Matthew George Easton, "Subscriptions," in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c 1897), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

84] The Holy Bible: A Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, ed. Alfred William Pollard (Oxford: The University Press, 1911).

IV. Recipients

Although the epistle of Hebrews is called a General Epistle, we find evidence within its text that shows us the author was originally writing to a specific audience of Christians. We do not know whether its ancient title "to the Hebrews" originated during transcription, or by tradition, but we do know that it is ancient, being attached to this Epistle in its early years. This title declares that the author was writing to the Hebrews , a term that can be used loosely to refer to the Jews as a national title. But it was also used in a narrow sense to refer to those Jews who adhered to the Hebrew language in public worship and to Hebrew customs and traditions, in contrast to the "Hellenized Jews" who had abandoned many of their customs. Internal evidence supports the view that Jewish Christians were the primary recipients of this Epistle. Regarding the particular community of Jews to which the Epistle was destined, the most widely held view among scholars is that it was sent to Hebrew Christians in Palestine, although some argue for a destination of Italy, Alexandria and Asia Minor.

A. Internal Evidence - Guthrie tells us that internal evidence suggests that this Epistle was directed to a specific local Hebrew community rather than being intended as a general address to all Hebrews. 85]

85] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 683-684.

1. This Community of Recipients Were Saved - The author addresses this community of recipients as believers when he calls them "brethren" in Hebrews 10:19. This is a simple, but important point since some scholars take the view that the author was writing mixed congregation that consisted of both saved and unsaved Jews in an effort to fit certain verses into their doctrinal beliefs.

Hebrews 10:19, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,"

2. This Community of Believers was Familiar with Jewish Scriptures- We find within the epistle of Hebrews a strong presence of Old Testament Scriptures and Jewish liturgy. Thus, many scholars believe that the primary recipients were clearly Jewish. The depth of discussion on Hebrew history that the author gives, especially on the Tabernacle, implies that these readers were very familiar with Old Testament Scriptures. The author quotes references to the deity of the coming Messiah and compares these verses with references to angels. He mentions the wilderness journeys of the children of Israel. He discusses at length the Jewish priesthood, and compares it to the office of Melchizedek king of Salem from the book of Genesis. The ministry of Moses is compared to the superior office of the Messiah. The duties of Temple worship are explained in relation to Christ's duties in Heaven. The long list of Old Testament patriarchs, such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, and others leave no doubt that these recipients were very familiar with Jewish history. It is also important to note that there is no contrast made in this Epistle between Jews and Gentiles, implying that the Epistle was not intended for a mixed readership of both Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, the most popular view is that the recipients were Jewish since this Epistle speaks to the Jewish mindset.

Hebrews 3:2, "Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house."

Hebrews 4:14, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."

Hebrews 7:1, "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;"

Hebrews 7:11, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?"

Hebrews 8:2, "A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."

Hebrews 8:7, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second."

Hebrews 9:1-7 gives many details of the first Tabernacle.

Hebrews 11:1-40 gives us a list of many of the Old Testament saints.

In addition, we can find some references within the epistle of Hebrews as to the character of these Jewish recipients. (1-2) They had a definite history unique to their community. (3) They had accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah some distant time in the past, and were no longer considered new converts. (4) They had experienced persecutions in the past. (5) They were personally acquainted with the author and some of his affairs. (6) They shared a mutual friendship with Timothy. (7) They were ministering to other saints in need.

3. This Community of Believers Had Received the Gospel Some Time Back, and Were not Recent Converts - This community of believers had heard and received the Gospel message some time back. Song of Solomon , they were not recent converts, as would be indicative of the churches established by Paul the apostle. They were converted in "former days" ( Hebrews 10:32), an event the author reflects back upon. They were in need of the milk of word when they should have been partaking of the meat of the word ( Hebrews 5:12). The statement in Hebrews 5:12 that by this time they should be teachers of the word is commonly understood to refer to those who initially heard the Gospel preached by Jesus and the Apostles in Palestine, and had time to mature in the common faith.

Hebrews 10:32, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;"

Hebrews 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

4. This Community of Believers Had Been Persecuted- This community of believers had undergone persecutions in times past. We know that Hebrews 10:32-34 may possibly refer to the Neronian persecutions of the mid-60's. But this was a recent event, and does not fit as well within the phrase "former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions," ( Hebrews 10:32). It may well refer to the church at Jerusalem that had undergone the earliest series of persecutions.

Hebrews 10:32-34, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 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."

5. This Community of Believers Was Personally Acquainted with the Author- This community of believers was personally acquainted with the author of Hebrews , which would not be the case in a general address to all Jewish converts. The writer knew them personally, even asked for prayer from them, and hoped to be joined with them soon.

Hebrews 13:18-19, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner."

Hebrews 13:23, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you."

The author was familiar with some of their past labours of love as well as persecutions and they were familiar with his bonds.

Hebrews 6:10, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."

Hebrews 10:32-34, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 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 12:4, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."

6. This Community of Believers Shared a Mutual Friend Named Timothy - This community of believers had a mutual friend in Timothy, which would not be the case in a general address to all Jewish converts.

Hebrews 13:23, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you."

7. This Community of Believers Had Ministered to the Saints - This community of believers had continued to minister to other saints. The suggestion that Hebrews 6:10 was a reference to Paul's collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem would lead us to conclude that this community was made up of Hellenistic Jews from churches in Asia Minor that Paul had planted, and later collected from. However, Paul's original intent with this collection was to demonstrate the Gentile churches love and appreciation to the Jewish church, primarily in Jerusalem. Therefore, we must reject the conclusion that Hebrews 6:10 referred to that specific event. Rather, their benevolent service certainly fits well within the description of the Jerusalem church in the book of Acts where they had all things in common ( Acts 4:32).

Hebrews 6:10, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."

Some scholars use Hebrews 2:3 to suggest that this community of believers had not seen Jesus in person. This would suggest that this community was not necessarily Palestinian Jews, but mostly of the Diaspora. However, this argument is weak; for many in Palestine did not see the Lord during His earthly ministry. More importantly, the words in Hebrews 2:3 makes no such statement, nor does it imply that this community had not seen Jesus Christ. Rather, it says that these were converts of the first generation of the apostles, which certainly applies to the Palestinian Jews who were converted by the apostles in the book of Acts.

Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"

Scholars have made several suggestions as to the location of this community of Jewish converts addressed in the epistle of Hebrews.

1. Palestinian Jews- One suggestion is to say that this Epistle was written from Italy to the Church in Jerusalem. Although there is no evidence for such a statement, it would make more sense to address such a general epistle to this largely Hebrew congregation than to any other know church during this period in church history; for it was in Palestine, at the heart of Judaism, that the dangers of slipping back into Judaism would have its strongest force. In fact, John Chrysostom tells us that this Epistle was indeed addressed to the churches of Palestine. 86] The statements in Hebrews 10:32 and Hebrews 12:4 of their former sufferings could be explained by the persecutions against the church in Jerusalem mentioned in the book of Acts. The statement in Hebrews 2:3 suggests that the recipients lived near where Jesus ministered.

86] John Chrysostom writes, "Why, then, not being a teacher of the Jews, does he send an Epistle to them? And where were those to whom he sent it? It seems to me in Jerusalem and Palestine." (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews , Argument, and Summary of the Epistle 2) (NPF 1 14)

However, the suggestion that these Jews had not seen Jesus based on Hebrews 2:3, and that they had materially helped other Christians, which the poor believers in Palestine may not have been able to do, has led many scholars to look for another destination.

2. Italian Jews- A second suggestion by some scholars says that the recipients were Italians who were away from their home country, hence the statement, "They of Italy salute you," ( Hebrews 13:24). We also note the fact that this Epistle was known by Clement of Rome at an early time in Church history, as cited above. Also, Timothy would have been known by the Italian Jews. Also, the spoilage of goods mentioned in Hebrews 10:32 could be explained by either Claudius" edict in A.D 59, or Nero"s persecution beginning in A.D 64, which most closely affect the Roman believers.

3. Alexandrian Jews- A third possible location that has been suggested is the Alexandrian Jews, since the Christian school of Alexandria embraced this Epistle as canonical long before the Western church accepted it. JFB brings out the point that "the letter to the Alexandrians," mentioned in the Canon of Muratori may be a reference to the epistle of Hebrews. 87] According to Guthrie, this school never laid claim to it. Instead, the Alexandrian fathers believed it to be addressed to Palestinian Jews by Paul. 88]

87] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction."

88] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 700.

4. Hellenistic Jews- All of the quotations in the epistle Hebrews comes from the LXX, which would have been more available to these Jews who were not as familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. This has led many to suggest that its readers were Hellenistic Jews. If Paul is the author, which is the most popular ancient Church tradition, then we have some evidence in 2 Peter 3:15 to suggest that Paul wrote to the same group of Jews in Asia Minor that Peter was addressing in his two epistles. Peter, an apostle to the circumcision addressed his first epistle to "the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." ( 1 Peter 1:1) His second epistle was addressed to this same group, because he says, "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you…" ( 2 Peter 3:1). Thus, 2 Peter 3:15 tells us that Paul wrote an epistle to this same group of Jews that Peter addressed. But, is this statement referring to the epistle of Hebrews? Peter does make a reference to the content of this Pauline epistle when he says, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;" Thus, Peter tells us that Paul's epistle emphasized the perseverance of the saints, which is the theme of Hebrews. We can, therefore, strongly suggest that Paul did write the epistle to the same Jews that Peter was ministering to at the time. This would mean that the epistles of Hebrews , 1,2Peter were written during the same time period to the same group of believers, which would have been the Hellenistic Jews of Asia Minor.

B. External Evidence - The early Church fathers mention the ancient name for this Epistle as "the Epistle to the Hebrews ," testifying to its primary recipients.

1. Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) - Tertullian refers to the Epistle of Hebrews by its proper title.

"The discipline, therefore, of the apostles properly (so called), indeed, instructs and determinately directs, as a principal point, the overseer of all sanctity as regards the temple of God to the universal eradication of every sacrilegious outrage upon modesty, without any mention of restoration. I wish, however, redundantly to superadd the testimony likewise of one particular comrade of the apostles,--(a testimony) aptly suited for confirming, by most proximate right, the discipline of his masters. For there is extant withal an Epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas--a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence:" (On Modesty 20)

2. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) - Eusebius refers to the Epistle of Hebrews by its well known title and tells us that Paul wrote this letter to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language.

"To sum up briefly, he has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, -- I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the Song of Solomon -called Apocalypse of Peter. He says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. But he says that the words, Paul the Apostle, were probably not prefixed, because, in sending it to the Hebrews , who were prejudiced and suspicious of him, he wisely did not wish to repel them at the very beginning by giving his name. Farther on he says: ‘But now, as the blessed presbyter said, since the Lord being the apostle of the Almighty, was sent to the Hebrews , Paul, as sent to the Gentiles, on account of his modesty did not subscribe himself an apostle of the Hebrews , through respect for the Lord, and because being a herald and apostle of the Gentiles he wrote to the Hebrews out of his superabundance.'" (Ecclesiastical History 6141-4)

In addition, John Chrysostom, Theodoret and Theophylact all make specific statements that say Paul was writing to the Jews in Jerusalem and Palestine.

3. St. John Chrysostom (A.D 347 to 407) - John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, in his homilies on the epistle of Hebrews , says that Paul wrote to the Jews in Jerusalem and Palestine.

"Why, then, not being a teacher of the Jews, does he [Paul] send an Epistle to them? And where were those to whom he sent it? It seems to me in Jerusalem and Palestine." (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Argument and Summary to Hebrews 2)

4. Theodoret (A. D. c 393to c 466) - Adam Clarke tells us that Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus and a native of Antioch, says in his preface to the epistle of Hebrews that Paul wrote to the Jews in Palestine. 89] (PG 82col 674D-676A)

89] Adam Clarke, The Epistle to Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

5. Theophylact (11th century) - Theophylact, a Byzantine exegete, says in his argument to the epistle of Hebrews that Paul wrote to the Jews in Palestine and Jerusalem. 90] (PG 125 Colossians 185B)

90] Adam Clarke, The Epistle to Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

V. Occasion

We know that the author of Hebrews , traditionally held to be Paul the apostle, wrote to the Hebrew Christians during a time of distress, poverty and persecution. The difficulties that these Hebrew Christians faced are mentioned throughout this Epistle. They had endured a great fight of afflictions, they were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions, and they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods ( Hebrews 10:32-34). Some of them had become discouraged from life's difficulties ( Hebrews 12:1-13), and other imprisoned. ( Hebrews 13:3).

The Destruction of Jerusalem- Regarding the particular event surrounding these difficulties, one possible occasion called for such an epistle was the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. With the Hebrews' sacred city in ruins, they were in danger of losing the bonds of their Jewish heritage, since the Temple served as a symbol of their covenant with God, and it was no longer there to enhance such unity. However, there are verses in this Epistle which suggest that the emphasis of the author was in warning them about falling away from their newly-established Christian faith rather than exhorting uniting over their ancient Jewish traditions. Thus, this Epistle warns against a relapse into Judaism, which Temple worship has been done away with in Christ, rather than saving their Jewish heritage.

The Neronian Persecutions- Another possible occasion may be found during the Neronian persecutions beginning in 64 A.D. Such an atmosphere is what some scholars believe set the stage for the writing of the epistle of Hebrews.

The General Plight of Hebrew Christians in the Early Church - Perhaps the most popular view for the occasion of this Epistle may be found in references to the general condition of these Hebrews who now profess Christ as the Messiah while living amongst their fellow countrymen. We know that Paul took up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (A.D 58-60), revealing the difficult plight for Palestinian Jews who had converted to the Faith. These Jewish believers would have been ostracized by their families and friends. With the delay of Christ's return, and their lack of understanding the atonement of Christ, they stood in jeopardy each day of falling back into their old traditions. Thus, the need to exhort these Jewish converts to persevere in their faith would have occasioned the epistle of Hebrews.

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 91]

91] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called "epistle genre," In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the New Testament epistles, as well as a brief look at the grammar and syntax of the epistle of Hebrews.

VI. Comparison of the New Testament Epistles

The epistle of Hebrews has many unique characteristics that make it stand out differently from all other New Testament epistles.

A. Comparison of Style: It Lacks the Customary Epistolary Form of other New Testament Letters - The epistle of Hebrews in unique in style in that it lacks the customary epistolary introduction of other New Testament letters. For example, it does not state who wrote it or to whom it was written in the opening passage. Although it lacks an epistolary opening, its closing is in the standard form of an epistle.

B. Comparison of Style: It Stands as One of the Finest in Literary Quality- Harrison says the epistle of Hebrews is one of the finest in literary quality contained in the New Testament. It has a large vocabulary of words using the Greek language very precisely, "with careful construction and elegant diction." 92] No other New Testament book uses the Greek language so accurately and skillfully, except the writings of Luke. The syntax and style are so outstanding that many scholars believe it is the finest in the New Testament.

92] Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c 1964, 1971), 368.

C. Comparison of Style: Its Mood is One of Continual Exhortation and Warning- The writer of the epistle of Hebrews characterizes it as a brief "word of exhortation" ( Hebrews 13:22). Woven around the essay on Christ's role as our Great High Priest are passages that exhort the reader to remain established in the faith and that warn him of the consequences of falling away. It has a mood of continual exhortation and warning.

D. Comparison of Usage of the Old Testament: The Author Frequently Quotes from the LXX - JFB tells us that the author of Hebrews quotes from the Old Testament thirty-two times, sixteen of which are from the book of Psalm. 93] F. F. Bruce tells us that the New Testament writers who quote from the LXX most often are Luke and the author of Hebrews. 94] The author of Hebrews uses the LXX almost exclusively. B. F. Westcott says that the author of Hebrews quotes from the Pentateuch twelve times and eludes to it an additional thirty-nine times. In addition, he says that there are eleven quotations and two allusions from the book of Psalm , one quotation and one allusion from Proverbs , four quotations and eleven allusions from the Prophets, and one quote and no allusions from the Historical books. 95] In addition, we find one reference in Hebrews 11:35 to the story found in 2Maccabees 6-7. The author has a unique way of referring to these passages without mentioning the Old Testament source, which is common in other New Testament writings, using the phrase, "God says." On two occasions the author attributes the words of the Old Testament to Christ ( Hebrews 2:11-12; Hebrews 10:15 ff.).

93] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews , in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction."

94] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 154.

95] Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistles to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays, third edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1903), 474.

E. Comparison of Unique Material: It Reveals Christ's Office as Our Great High Priest - The subject matter of the epistle of Hebrews is distinctive. No other book of the Holy Bible reveals the present-day office and ministry of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest as clearly and comprehensively as does this Epistle. In this Epistle there is a continual comparison between the old and new covenants. However, with these comparisons the author breaths out a stream of revelations and insights regarding the symbols of the old covenant that are not found elsewhere in the Scriptures. The author paints a picture of the heavenly Tabernacle, of the purpose and role of the priesthood, and of the mysterious Melchizedek that served as high priest over the holy site in Jerusalem. It reveals that each article of the Temple had a symbolic meaning that has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. These insights place this Epistle as unique in its content to all other books of the Holy Bible.

VII. Grammar and Syntax

F. Grammar and Syntax: Frequently Used Words - The theme of an epistle can be better identified by evaluating the frequently used words. In the epistle of Hebrews we can identify several of these words that bear witness to its underlying them of the high Priesthood of Jesus Christ. We find such frequently used words as "offer" (20), "covenant" (17), "sacrifice" (15), "priest" (14), "better" (13) and "perfect" (15) (with its cognate words), which the author employees in order to explain the superiority of Christ's priesthood. The phrase "let us" (13), and "let" (5) are used to exhort the readers to go on to maturity in light of Christ's present-day ministry as our Great High Priest.

G. Grammar and Syntax: The Debate as to Whether it was Originally Written in Hebrew or Greek - Arguments are made on both sides by competent scholars as to whether or not the epistle of Hebrews was originally written in the Hebrew language or in Greek. Albert Barnes lists some of these arguments. 96]

96] Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

1. Arguments in Support of a Hebrew Original - There are a number of arguments in support of the Hebrew original.

a) Testimony of the Early Church Fathers- Clement of Alexander 97] and Jerome, 98] who are considered reliable sources, tell us the tradition that the epistle of Hebrews was first written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language, and then carefully translated into Greek by Luke.

97] Eusebius quotes Clement of Alexandria, saying, "He [Clement] says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. (Ecclesiastical History 6142-4)

98] Jerome writes, "…since Paul was writing to Hebrews and was in disrepute among them he may have omitted his name from the salvation on this account. He being a Hebrew wrote Hebrew, that is his own tongue and most fluently while the things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek and this is the reason why it seems to differ from other epistles of Paul." (Lives of Illustrious Men 5)

b) The Fact that the Recipients were Hebrew - The fact that the recipients themselves were Hebrews is a valid reason for writing to them in their own language.

c) The Greek is non-Pauline - Scholars argues that the quality of Greek employed to write Hebrews is superior to that which Paul exhibits in his thirteen New Testament epistles. 99] This would support the testimony of several early Church fathers that the epistle was translated into Greek by someone other than Paul.

99] Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction"; See Mean-David Michaelis, Introduction au Nouveau Testament (Geneve: J. J. Paschoud, 1822).

d) The Use of the LXX in Quoting the Old Testament Testifies that they were not Originally Used by the Writer to the Hebrews - Barnes notes Michaelis, who continues to argue that the fact that the LXX is used in the Greek version of the epistle of Hebrews means that they are foreign to the original manuscript. 100] In other words, the author would have employed the Hebrew Bible, while the translator chose to use what he had more readily at hand, which was the LXX.

100] Albert Barnes, Hebrews , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction"; See Mean-David Michaelis, Introduction au Nouveau Testament (Geneve: J. J. Paschoud, 1822).

Only the first argument above carries any significant weight. The other three are assumptions.

2. Arguments in Support of a Greek Original - There are valid arguments that the Epistle was originally written in the Greek language.

a) No Hebrew Original Exists - The fact that no Hebrew original exists causes one to question the idea that one ever existed. If we believe that the early Church carefully preserved Paul's other thirteen original epistles, why would this original be forgotten?

b) Paul Would Have Written to Christians in Palestine using Greek, as with all His Epistles - Paul wrote all of his other epistles in Greek, which was the most familiar language of the Eastern Empire. The fact that Paul wrote to the Romans using Greek rather than Latin supports this assumption. His epistles were used as circular letter to other churches, and often addressed a wider group of recipients, and Paul would have considered this fact. Song of Solomon , it would have been the natural language for Paul to use unless there was strong reason not to do so.

c) An Analysis of Greek Grammar and Syntax Supports an Original Greek - When scholars look at the Greek grammar and syntax of the epistle of Hebrews they find convincing evidence that it was originally written in the Greek language.

(1) In Hebrews 2the author quotes from Psalm 8. The Hebrew Scriptures use the word ""Elohiym" in Psalm 8:5, while the LXX translates it in its rarely used form "angels". This means that the author would have had a difficult time building his argument of Christ's superiority over angels using this passage in the Hebrew language to the Hebrews. It would have made more sense to quote it in Greek from the LXX in his argument.

(2) In Hebrews 7:1-2 the author takes the time to interpret the meaning of the name "Melchizedek" as "king of righteousness." This would probably have been unnecessary if he were writing to Hebrews in the Hebrew language. However, this interpretation could have been added later by Luke in his Greek translation.

(3) In Hebrews 9:16-17 the author uses the Greek word "covenant" ( διαθήκη) (G 1242) in its double sense to also meaning "will" or "testament." Had the Epistle been originally Hebrew, the author would have use the Hebrew word ( בְּרִית) (G 1285), which was not able to carry both of these meanings. Thus, if he wrote originally in Hebrew, the author would have been restricted to using "covenant" only in this passage, and not the word "testament."

(4) In Hebrews 10:3-9 the author quotes from Psalm 40:6 to explain how Christ partook of a physical body in order to make atonement for the sins of mankind. While the LXX reads "a body you have prepared for me," the same Hebrew verse reads, "mine ears hast thou opened." Had the author originally quoted the Hebrew passage in Hebrew, it would not have fit into the context of the argument for Christ's need for a physical body. Thus, the author must have originally quoted from the LXX in Greek.

(5) Finally, the epistle of Hebrews flows so freely, it does not have the stiffness of a translation.

These arguments for an original Greek composition have won many adapt scholars over to this view.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 101]

101] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of Hebrews , an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of Hebrews for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VIII. Purpose

A. Hortatory - The primary purpose of the General Epistles is hortatory. The author of the epistle of Hebrews purposed to encourage the Hebrew Christians in their faith. In fact, the author calls this Epistle a "the word of exhortation" ( Hebrews 13:22) in its closing passage. One popular view as to the purpose of the epistle of Hebrews is to say that the author was exhorting these Jewish converts to persevere in their faith in Christ, and not return to Judaism. 102] He was exhorting these Hebrews to turn loose of their old ways of worshiping God through Temple sacrifices and to cling to the new and living way they had accepted in Christ Jesus. There were real pressures being exerted upon these Hebrews from their Jewish culture to return to their old system and traditions. Christ had not yet returned as expected. There was now the dark cloud of persecutions overhanging the Church if they confessed that they were Christians. Therefore, these Hebrews needed a word that would anchor their soul in Christ Jesus. This hortatory purpose reflects the foundational theme of the General Epistles, which is the perseverance of the saints.

102] David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-301, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 296-298.

The hortatory purpose reflects the primary theme of the epistle of Hebrews , which is the perseverance in the faith against persecutions from without the Church.

B. Doctrinal -The General Epistles contain some doctrinal teachings along with hortatory instructions regarding perseverance. There can be no question as to the doctrinal nature of the epistle of Hebrews. The author follows each aspect of his exhortation with doctrinal discourses explaining the superiority of Christ and his fulfillment of the Old Testament form of Temple service and worship. It is noted by many scholars that most, if not all, references are made to the more ancient Tabernacle, and not to the Solomonic or modern Herodian Temple worship. 103] Most likely, the author uses the more ancient Jewish heritage and legal systems as a basis for his arguments, knowing that these converted Jews understood the corruption that was found in modern Jewish traditions. In his series of arguments, the author proves that Jesus Christ is the sole way of access to God with the doing away of the old covenant. The author uses doctrinal discourse of Christ's superiority over all Old Testament patriarchs as his reason and evidence to exhort his Jewish readers not to return to Judaism. This doctrinal purpose reflects the secondary theme of Hebrews , which is the revelation of the office and ministry of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest, whoever lives to intercede for the perseverance of the saints.

103] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 317.

The doctrinal purpose reflects the second theme of the epistle of Hebrews , which is the high priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

C. Practical - The last chapter of Hebrews is practical in its approach to the readers. As with the Pauline epistles, this closing passage offers practical advice on living the Christian life. This practical purpose reflects the third theme of Hebrews , which calls believers to a place of rest while enduring persecutions in their journey of faith.

The practical purpose reflects the third theme of the epistle of Hebrews , which is to walk in love in the midst of persecutions by entering into rest in Christ Jesus as our High Priest.

IX. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 104] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

104] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of Hebrews: The Perseverance of the Saints: Against Persecutions from Without the Church- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer- There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.

Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1,2Timothy, Titus and Philemon; 105] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. 106] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church ( Hebrews ,, James , 1Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , Jude).

105] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.

106] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.

2. The Central Theme of the Catholic, or General, Epistles: Perseverance in the Christian Faith - We know that the nine Pauline "Church" epistles, Romans to 2Thessalonians, serve to lay the doctrinal foundation of the Church. In addition, the Pastoral Epistles establishes the order of the Church, and how the Body of Christ functions in this world. This leaves us to consider the eight remaining epistles, seven of which are called the "Catholic Epistles" because they are addressed to a much broader group of believers than the Pauline Epistles. Although the seven Catholic, or General, Epistles include James , 1, 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3, John , and Jude , for the sake of this evaluation of thematic schemes, the book of Hebrews is included. As Paul's Church Epistles establish the doctrines of the Church, the Catholic Epistles deal with the practical struggles that each believer has in fulfilling the Christian life. Thus, these Epistles tend to be more practical and ethical than doctrinal or theological.

The early church faced two great challenges that attacked their sacred doctrines. They experienced persecutions from without, as addressed in Hebrews , James and 1Peter; and, they endured heresies from within, as dealt with in 2Peter, 1, 2, and 3John and Jude. 107] The underlying theme of Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles is the perseverance in the Christian faith, 108] exhorting the saints to persevere amidst persecutions from without the Church as well as false doctrines from within the Church. 109] The books of Hebrews , James and 1Peter address the particular issue of perseverance under persecutions from without the church, a theme popularly referred to as the "pilgrim motif." 110] 2 Peter , the three epistles of John , and Jude deal with the particular issue of false ministers and doctrines that attack the church from within ( 2 Peter 3:1-4, 1 John 2:26, Jude 1:3-4). Thus, there are three witnesses of perseverance under persecutions ( Hebrews , James and 1Peter) and three witnesses of perseverance under false doctrines ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , and Jude). As with two epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, the three epistles of John serve as one witness because they share similar themes among themselves.

107] J. B. Lightfoot recognized this two-fold aspect of Christian perseverance, saying, "The armoury of this epistle [Galatians] has furnished their keenest weapons to the combatants in the two greatest controversies which in modern times have agitated the Christian Church; the one a struggle for liberty within the camp, the other a war of defence against assailants from without; the one vitally affecting the doctrine, the other the evidences of the Gospel." See J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillian and Co, Limited, 1910), 67.

108] I do not adhere to the doctrine popularly referred to as "Once saved, always saved," or "the perseverance of the saints," a belief that has emerged in the modern church among several denominations, which has its apparent roots in Calvinist theology.

109] P. P. Saydon offers this theme for the epistle of Hebrews. See P. P. Saydon, "The Master Idea of the Epistle to the Hebrews ," Melita Theologica XIII, no 1-2 (1961) 19-26. See also George Salmon, "The Keynote to the Epistle of the Hebrews ," in The Expositor, second series, vol 3, ed. Samuel Cox (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 83.

110] Philip Mauro, God's Pilgrims: Their Dangers, Their Resources, Their Rewards (London: Samuel E. Roberts, 1921); Ernst Ksemann, The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews , trans. Ray A. Harrisville and Irving L. Sandberg (Minneapolis, MN: Ausburg Publishing House, 1984); David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 297.

3. The Primary Theme of the Epistle of Hebrews - A number of commentators have viewed the primary theme of the epistle of Hebrews as the perseverance of the saints, 111] with others offering a similar theme that is called the "pilgrim motif." 112] The epistle's primary focus is to exhort the saints to persevere in the Christian faith in the midst of persecutions. The epistle to the Hebrews calls itself a word of exhortation in Hebrews 13:22, "And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words." We find key verses throughout this epistle that clearly establishes its theme as an epistle of exhortation of perseverance to the saints. In fact, the literary structure of the epistle of Hebrews consists of a series of exhortations, each one supported by a doctrinal discourse that teaches on the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. There are seven literary sections that make up the epistle of Hebrews , with all but the first one opening with a brief exhortation, followed by a more lengthy discourse to support its exhortation. We have an exhortation to heed God's divine calling ( Hebrews 2:1-4), an exhortation to hold faith to our confession of faith ( Hebrews 4:14-16), an exhortation to grow in Christian maturity ( Hebrews 6:1-8), an exhortation to divine service ( Hebrews 10:19-39), and exhortation to persevere in the Faith ( Hebrews 12:1-3), and an exhortation to walk in brotherly love as our entrance into rest ( Hebrews 13:1-8).

111] P. P. Saydon, "The Master Idea of the Epistle to the Hebrews ," Melita Theologica XIII, no 1-2 (1961) 19-26.

112] Philip Mauro, God's Pilgrims: Their Dangers, Their Resources, Their Rewards (London: Samuel E. Roberts, 1921); Ernst Ksemann, The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews , trans. Ray A. Harrisville and Irving L. Sandberg (Minneapolis, MN: Ausburg Publishing House, 1984); David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 297.

These believers are exhorted in particular to persevere under persecutions, for the author reminds them of their reproaches and afflictions that they have recently endured.

Hebrews 10:32-34, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 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 13:13, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."

The author exhorts them to be mindful of others who are suffering under persecutions.

Hebrews 13:3, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives us the "Hall of Faith," listing those Old Testament saints who are examples of perseverance because they looked for something better, which endured unto eternal life. Of course, the author tells us the way that we persevere is by looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 3:1, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"

Hebrews 7:4, "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils."

Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:"

Hebrews 12:2-3, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

When looking unto Jesus, the author places particular emphasis upon the office and ministry of Jesus Christ as a high priest ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18), which is the secondary theme of the Epistle. He uses the office of the Jewish priesthood to explain the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ; for it is in this office that we now have hope of having access to God in our times of need.

Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Hebrews 10:19, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,"

Hebrews 10:22, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."

It is for this reason that the phrase "Let us" occurs thirteen times throughout the book of Hebrews. The word "better" also occurs thirteen times. It is for this reason that emphasis is placed upon the office and ministry of our Lord and Savior, so that the Hebrew saints will better understand His work of Redemption.

B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of Hebrews: The High Priesthood of Jesus Christ - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

1. The Secondary Themes of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter- While the three epistles of Hebrew, James and 1Peter share a common, foundational theme commonly called the pilgrim motif, they also carry secondary themes that give each of them a distinct emphasis upon one aspect of the believer's perseverance in the Christian faith. The secondary themes of these three epistles are listed in 1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." The epistles of Hebrew, James and 1Peter and find the office and ministry of Jesus Christ the Song of Solomon , the Holy Spirit, and God the Father emphasized within them respectively.

a) The High Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Our Hearts) - The author of the epistle of Hebrews unambiguously states his theme in Hebrews 8:1 saying, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;" John Ebrand says the Greek word κεφάλαιον can be translated "sum," "central point," or "key-stone." 113] In other words, the author is saying that the central point of Hebrews is the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, a view that is widely held among scholars. 114] The doctrinal discourses of the Epistle that follow the six exhortations of perseverance focus upon the Exaltation and High Priesthood of Jesus Christ as explanations on how to persevere in the Christian faith. This secondary theme emphasizes perseverance by faith within our hearts.

113] John Henry Augustus Ebrand, "Exposition of the Epistle of Hebrews ," trans. A. C. Kendrick, in Biblical Commentary on the New Testament, vol 6, ed. Dr. Hermann Olshausen (New York: Sheldon and Company, 1859), 472.

114] David MacLeod says, "The traditional view, and the one most widely held, is that the epistle finds its center (its "keystone") in the doctrine of the high priesthood of Christ." He then offers a list of scholars in support of this view. See David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 291-292. For example, Marvin Vincent says, "Christ as the great high priest, who appears nowhere in the Pauline epistles, is the central figure in the Epistle to the Hebrews." See Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol 4 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905), 364.

b) The Lifestyle of True Religion in the Holy Spirit (Our Bodies) - Within the epistle of James , we find emphasis being placed upon our need to walk in the light and truth of God's Word as our basis for perseverance. This epistle emphasizes the office of the Holy Spirit as He leads us in a life of joy in the midst of our temptations. It teaches us that faith without works is dead, and that faith is perfected with patience endurance. Thus, the emphasis is placed upon our physical actions as the way to persevere.

c) God the Father's Hope of Our Eternal Inheritance (Our Minds) - The epistle of 1Peter takes a look at the foreknowledge of God the Father, and how He has called us to be a holy nation and given us a living hope of an eternal inheritance in Heaven. Thus, we are to gird up the loins of our minds as a means of persevering. In addition, we find these three themes of 1Peter, James and Hebrews , stated in the opening verse of the first epistle of Peter.

Thus, our ability to persevere persecutions from without is based upon setting our minds and hope upon our eternal rewards (1Peter) while endeavoring to walk in the light of God's Word by the leading of the Holy Spirit (James) and coming to the throne of God and Jesus Christ our Great High Priest with our confession of faith when we are in need (Hebrews). Thus, Hebrews deals with the perseverance of the heart of the believer, James emphasizes the perseverance of the body, and Peter focuses upon perseverance of the mind.

2. The Secondary Theme of the Epistle of Hebrews - The secondary theme of the epistle of Hebrews is the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, since this is how God ordained that believers persevere in the Christian Faith. However, because of the office and ministry of Jesus Christ the Son of God is developed within the doctrinal discourses of this Epistle, some scholars focus on the aspect of the Sonship as the major theme in Jesus' redemptive role. For example, Davidson says, "The Sonship of Christ is the fundamental idea of the Epistle." 115] The author of Hebrews presents Jesus Christ as the preordained Son of God in the opening discourse ( Hebrews 1:1-14). The second discourse discusses His faithfulness to His calling of the Incarnation and the Atonement that preceded His High Priesthood ( Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:10). Each of the discourses thereafter focus upon the divine service that Jesus Christ entered as our Great High Priest. Thus, the author gives most emphasis upon the role of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest, although this role is undergirded by His Sonship, since it is His role as our Great High Priest that leads us through the phrase of our spiritual journey called perseverance. However, the doctrinal material within the epistle of Hebrews necessitates that the author reflect upon the various aspects of Jesus' redemptive role for mankind, such as His Sonship, His Incarnation, His Atonement, and His High Priesthood, for each of these aspects of Jesus' role in redemption describes His spiritual journey in bringing mankind back to his original place of fellowship with God; however, the office of High Priesthood dominates the author's doctrinal theme.

115] A. B. Davidson, The Epistle to the Hebrews , in Handbooks for Bible Classes, eds. Marcus Dods and Alexander Whyte (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1882), 79. George Milligan cites Davidson in his argument for the central theme of Sonship. See George Milligan, The Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1899), 60, 72-73.

C. Third Theme (Imperative) - The Crucified Life of the Believer (Perseverance Through Holding Fast to our Confession in Jesus and Entering into Rest By Walking in Brotherly Love in the Midst of Persecutions) - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

1. The Third, Imperative Theme of the Epistle of Hebrews - The epistle of Hebrews emphasizes one aspect of this conformity through the crucified life of faith and obedience in Him. In the epistle of Hebrews , our crucified lifestyle is manifested as persevere in the Christian faith through the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ by heeding the exhortations laid out in the Epistle. We first heed God's divine calling ( Hebrews 2:1-4), hold faith to our confession of faith ( Hebrews 4:14-16), grow in Christian maturity ( Hebrews 6:1-8), enter into divine service ( Hebrews 10:19-39), persevere in the Faith of our calling ( Hebrews 12:1-3), and walk in brotherly love as our entrance into rest ( Hebrews 13:1-8). As we enter into rest through the love walk ( Hebrews 13:1) in the midst of persecutions, we are able to persevere unto the end in hope of eternal life. The epistle of Hebrews calls believers to persevere from an attitude of the heart, which expresses itself in the love walk after entering into rest in Christ as our High Priest.

D. Summary of the Three-fold Thematic Scheme of the Epistle of Hebrews - The primary theme of the epistle of Hebrews emphasizing the pilgrim motif is hortatory or paraenetic (exhortative); the secondary theme emphasizing the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ is doctrinal; and the third theme emphasizing a response from the reader is pragmatic (practical). The aspect of multiple themes in the epistle of Hebrews has been recognized by scholars in recent years. For example, George Salmon calls the primary theme of the perseverance of the saints "pragmatic" and the secondary theme "dogmatic." 116] David MacLeod offers an accurate summary of the themes of the epistle by saying:

116] George Salmon, "The Keynote to the Epistle of the Hebrews ," in The Expositor, second series, vol 3, ed. Samuel Cox (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 83.

"The expository sections of Hebrews center on the doctrine of the high priesthood of Christ. The paraenetic sections, on the other hand, are dominated by the pilgrimage motif. Two questions present themselves: Which of the two themes is central to the epistle as a whole? How are the two to be integrated? Attempting to answer the first question is almost futile. The two themes are not rivals; they belong together." 117]

117] David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 300.

Finally, it is important to note that the General Epistles do not establish Church doctrine, for this was laid down in the Pauline Church Epistles. They may refer to doctrine, but they do not establish or add to it.

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Figure 1 - The Themes of the General Epistles

X. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the epistle of Hebrews must follow the thematic scheme of the book. In discussing the doctrinal center of the epistle of Hebrews , David MacLeod says, "It is important to establish the center (or unifying idea, or major theme) so that the theological materials of the epistle may be arranged in a way that reflects the author's own emphasis." 118] It is important to note that such a breakdown of the book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this literary structure and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

118] David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 291.

The identification of the literary structure of the epistle of Hebrews offers one of the greatest challenges to scholars of any book in the New Testament. 119] While the foundational theme of the epistle of Hebrews is the perseverance of the saints, the structure of this Epistle is built around its secondary theme, which is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest in bringing us into our eternal glory.

119] David Black, "The Problem of the Literary Structure of Hebrews: An Evaluation and a Proposal," Grace Theological Journal 7 (1986): 163-77.

In Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 2:18 the author has revealed the ministry of Jesus as the eternal Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14) and the Apostle of our salvation ( Hebrews 2:1-18). This Epistle introduced Jesus in His initial office and ministry as the eternal Word of God, creator of the universe, born as the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14). Then it discusses His second phase of ministry as the Apostle sent from Heaven in order to secure man's salvation ( Hebrews 2:1-18). Jesus Christ is the Son of God who has become fully man. The author will take up the bulk of the epistle of Hebrews with a discussion of the present-day office and ministry of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18). This lengthy passage in Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18 reveals His third phase of ministry that is taking place today, as our High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for the saints. As our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ is now coming to our aid so that we might persevere until the end. Jesus will enter into His fourth and final phase of ministry as He one day will rule and reign in Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the while Jesus Christ has been the eternal, pre-incarnate Son of God; and since partaking of flesh and blood He has now our Brother.

The epistle of Hebrews can be divided into seven sections, which reflect these phases of Jesus' ministry in God's plan of redemption for mankind. There is an introductory claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, followed by six exhortations to support this claim. These exhortations tell us how to respond in light of this revelation. Each exhortation contains a doctrinal discourse to support its claim about Jesus Christ, which often concludes with a warning passage. Each of these seven literary sections emphasizes one aspect of our spiritual journey: (1) predestination ( Hebrews 1:1-14), (2) calling ( Hebrews 2:1 to Hebrews 4:13), (3) justification ( Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 5:14), (4) indoctrination ( Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18), (5) divine service ( Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40), (6) perseverance ( Hebrews 12:1-29), and (7) glorification ( Hebrews 13:1-17).

I. Predestination: The Supreme Revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14) - Hebrews 1:1-14 discusses the supreme revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-4), predestined to be heir of all things, which reflects first phase of redemption that Jesus Christ fulfilled in securing our eternal redemption as an heir by His Sonship. His divine attributes and His death, burial and resurrection brought Him exaltation at the right hand of God far above the ministries of all heavenly angels, which statement the author expounds upon using a number of Old Testament passages regarding Jesus' deity ( Hebrews 1:5-14).

A. Opening Claim: Jesus Christ is the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-4) - The opening passage of Hebrews 1:1-4 is a single sentence in the original Greek text. In this lengthy sentence, the author makes the claim that God has in these last days spoken through the office of divine Sonship, after having spoken for the previous centuries through the office of the prophet. God used the office of the prophets of the Old Testament to reveal various aspects of God's plan of redemption to the Hebrew nation called Israel. As the Son of God, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of and superior to all Old Testament prophecies. In Hebrews 1:1-4 the author claims that Jesus Christ is deity, as the Son of God, and that His office and ministry supersedes and fulfills all divine revelation that has gone before Him. The verses that follow ( Hebrews 1:5-14) provide a doctrinal argument to support this claim. The author's exhortations and doctrinal discourses will all build upon this opening claim of the deity of Jesus Christ. However, it is important to note that of the seven divine attributes given to the Son of God in this opening passage, the phrase "when he had by himself purged our sins" in the Greek text is structured in a unique manner that indicates this attribute will be developed more fully in the epistle, while the other six attributes are considered only briefly; for this is the only clause that does not begin with a pronoun or participle, but rather with the phrase "a purging of sins" beginning, or fronting, this clause for emphasis, with the participle coming at the end.

B. Scriptural Support for Opening Claim ( Hebrews 1:5-14) - The Old Testament prophets have declared Jesus Christ to be the pre-incarnate Son of God and rightful heir to the throne of God. The author of Hebrews supports his claim of Jesus' deity and superiority to the prophets by contrasting His calling and office to the office of the heavenly angels, who are described as servants rather than sons. He draws a distinction between Jesus' deity and His superiority over the angels ( Hebrews 1:5-14). The author uses these Old Testament passages to contrast the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ as God, who is seated at the throne of God, with the office of God's angels, who are described as servants. That Isaiah , this passage explains why Jesus' name is more excellent than the angels and why Jesus Himself is superior. The author proves that since the birth of Jesus Christ, He has been declared the pre-incarnate Son of God, who is now seated at the throne of God.

The opening passage of the book of Hebrews ( Hebrews 1:1-4) has introduced Jesus Christ as the Son of God, being superior to the angels and fulfilling all Old Covenant prophecies. In the rest of this passage of Scripture ( Hebrews 1:5-14) the author explains and justifies his opening statement, or claim, by using a number of Old Testament prophecies to reveal the predestination of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and heir to His throne. Each of the prophecies in Hebrews 1:5-14 supports one of the divine attributes of Jesus Christ listed in Hebrews 1:1-4, and they are presented in that same order. For example, the first set of Old Testament prophecies declaring Jesus' Sonship ( Hebrews 1:5-6) support the first divine attribute of Jesus Christ, which says, "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" ( Hebrews 1:2). The second Old Testament prophecy declaring Jesus as Heir of all things ( Hebrews 1:8-9) supports His second divine attribute, which says, "whom He has appointed heir of all things" ( Hebrews 1:2). The third Old Testament prophecy declaring Jesus' Christ' role in the creation of all things ( Hebrews 1:10-12) supports His third divine attribute, which says, "through whom also He made the worlds" ( Hebrews 1:2). The fourth Old Testament prophecy declaring Jesus' lordship over all things ( Hebrews 1:13) supports His final divine attribute, which says, "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" ( Hebrews 1:3). The Old Testament references to angels ( Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14) supports his final statement in Hebrews 1:4 declaring Jesus Christ's superiority over all angelic creatures. The author could have chosen to support his declaration of the other three divine attributes of Jesus Christ listed in Hebrews 1:1-4 through Old Testament Scripture, but he chose not to do so because of the divine principle that a matter is confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses ( Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1. 1 Timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28), so that the three witnesses he presented from the Old Testament of Jesus' divinity are sufficient to support all seven divine attributes contained within his opening claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-4). In addition, the author chose these four testimonies supporting the three aspects of the deity of Jesus Christ the Son of God because they are necessary for Him to fulfill His role as our Great High Priest. He is the Son and heir of all things ( Hebrews 1:5-6), rules in righteousness ( Hebrews 1:8-9), He is eternal ( Hebrews 1:10-12), and He sits at the right hand of God ( Hebrews 1:13). Thus, he will discuss these divine attributes further in his epistle.

Divine Attribute O. T. Testimony

The Son of God Hebrews 1:5-6

1. Appointed heir of all things Hebrews 1:8-9

2. By whom also he made the worlds Hebrews 1:10-12

3. Who being the brightness of his glory

4. The express image of his person

5. Upholding all things by the word of his power

6. He by himself purged our sins

7. Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high Hebrews 1:13

This passage serves as the author's initial explanation for his opening statement in Hebrews 1:1-4 of Jesus' fulfillment and superiority to all previous revelation to mankind through the office of the Old Testament prophets. This superior office of Jesus makes the revelation of the Gospel superior to the office and ministry and messages of heavenly angels. The author deals with the office of angels first, since the Jews understood their ministry as the most superior revelation of God known to them.

II. Calling: Jesus Christ the Son of Man Has Come to Lead Us into Eternal Dominion ( Hebrews 2:1 to Hebrews 4:13) - Hebrews 2:1 to Hebrews 4:13 serves as the second literary section of this epistle, emphasizing mankind's "heavenly calling" ( Hebrews 3:1) to the Gospel in light of Jesus Christ's calling to make atonement for mankind. The author first exhorts his readers to heed the heavenly calling of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 2:1-4), then gives a doctrinal argument to support this calling ( Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:11), and concludes with a warning passage of divine judgment for those who neglect this heavenly calling ( Hebrews 4:12-13). The literary structure of the epistle of Hebrews is primarily built upon the pattern of exhortation, discourse, and warning.

Exhortation Hebrews 2:1-4

Doctrinal Discourse Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:11

Warning Hebrews 4:12-13

Thus, the exhortation and warning passage in Hebrews 2:1 to Hebrews 4:12-13 form a literary device known as inclusio, where the author offers his readers an exhortation ( Hebrews 2:1-4) and concludes with a warning for failure to heed his advice ( Hebrews 4:12-13). 120]

120] David MacLeon says, "An inclusio marks off a literary unit by using the same word or phrase at the end of a discussion that was used at the beginning." See David J. MacLeod, "The Literary Structure of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (April 1989): 185-197, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 188.

A. First Exhortation: Heed the Heavenly Calling ( Hebrews 2:1-4) - In Hebrews 2:1-4 the author encourages the readers to cling to the message of the Gospel to which mankind has now been called to obey. The author bases this call upon the superiority of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the divine oracles delivered by angels. Having just argued the superiority of Jesus Christ over the angels ( Hebrews 1:5-14), it must follow that His message carries the same superiority over that of the angels. Since the Gospel declares Jesus as the Son of God, the author exhorts the Hebrews to heed the divine call of God that has come to them through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In essence, this passage says that if the words and oracles of angels were steadfast, how much more so what Jesus said, with God confirming His Words, and those He sent out to proclaim this message of salvation. The words of the angels referred to in Hebrews 2:2 refer to all of the Old Testament writings, while Hebrews 2:3-4 refers to all of the New Testament. He gives three testimonies by which God has called mankind to Salvation: (1) through His Son's earthly ministry, (2) through the preaching of the apostles, (3) through signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because God has now spoken through His Song of Solomon , the original commission of Genesis 1:28 is now restructured around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

B. First Doctrinal Discourse: Applying God's Original Commission to Take Dominion on Earth to the Christian Faith ( Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:11) - Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:11 offers a doctrinal discourse discussing man's heavenly calling that follows the first exhortation of Hebrews 2:1-4 for us to heed the Gospel message. The author begins his discourse with a citation from Psalm 8:4-6, which reflects God's original calling in Genesis 1:28 to take dominion over the earth, as God commissioned Adam to do in the Creation Story ( Hebrews 2:5-9). Thus, the author explains to his Hebrew readers that the Gospel call is not a new call, but a call originally given to the Jews in the Old Testament. While man has generally failed in this calling, Jesus Christ came to earth in the Incarnation and fulfilled this divine calling. William Lane correctly said, "Jesus in a representative sense fulfilled the vocation intended for mankind." 121] It is through heeding our heavenly calling that we will fulfill our original calling in the Creation Story. In order for Jesus to become our Apostle and High Priest, the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14) had to fulfill this original calling by becoming the Son of Prayer of Manasseh , made like His brethren, taking dominion over the earth ( Hebrews 2:10-18). It became necessary for Jesus as the Son of God to partake of flesh and blood through His Incarnation and become our Apostle in order to deliver us from the bondage of Satan through His Atonement and Resurrection and become our Great High Priest by His Exaltation so that He could lead mankind in fulfillment of this divine commission through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He now becomes the Apostle and High Priest of our salvation, a role the author compares to Moses as he led the children of Israel in the wilderness ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:11).

121] William L. Lane, Hebrews 1-8, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 47a, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), comments on Hebrews 2:5.

1. Man's Original Place of Dominion Over the Earth ( Hebrews 2:5-9) - The author of Hebrews moves from a genre of exhortation for us to cling to the Gospel message in Hebrews 2:1-4 to the genre of exposition in Hebrews 2:5-9 beginning with an Old Testament citation regarding man's authority over this earth ( Hebrews 2:5-9). 122] Therefore, we are compelled to ask, "What is the connection between these two passages of Scripture?" The answer to this question lies in the fact that the Gospel was designed to restore mankind back into his original place of dominion and authority over this earth through the Atonement and Exaltation of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 2:5-9), thus giving him authority over the devil and his kingdom. Man's deliverance from the bondages of Satan will be stated in Hebrews 2:14-15; for in the next passage ( Hebrews 2:10-18) the author explains how Jesus Christ has authored our salvation from bondage and restoration into a life of dominion.

122] George Howard Guthrie, 1991, The Structure of Hebrews: A Textual-Linguistic Analysis, PhD Dissertation, Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No 9213038), 99.

2. Jesus is the Author of our Salvation from Bondage to Restoration and Dominion ( Hebrews 2:10-18) - Man was originally designed to rule and reign upon the earth in fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 8:5-7 ( Hebrews 2:5-9). However, man fell from this place of authority beginning with the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, Jesus came in the form of a Prayer of Manasseh , suffered and restored this authority through His Atonement and Resurrection so that we also could be restored to our position of authority as His brethren through our faith in Jesus ( Hebrews 2:10-18). This passage of Scripture interprets Psalm 8:5-7 to be a reference to both Jesus Christ, who fulfilled this Bible prophecy, and the Church, who rules and reigns through Christ Jesus ( Hebrews 2:10-18). Jesus partook of flesh and blood in order to be the author of our salvation, and He is presently our Great High Priest to help us along this journey. He first paid for our sins, and He is now standing as our High Priest at the right hand of God the Father to bring us to the fulfillment of Psalm 8:5-7, which tells us we will reign on earth over all things.

Hebrews 2:10-18 explains why Jesus was made, for a little while, lower than the angels. In order for Psalm 8:4-6 to be fulfilled in mankind taking full dominion over the earth, Jesus Christ had to become our brother, one of mankind, and partake of flesh and blood ( Hebrews 2:10-13) so that He could lead many brethren from the bondage of the devil ( Hebrews 2:14-15) into restoration and dominion over this earth ( Hebrews 2:16-18).

3. Jesus Is Now the Author and High Priest of This Heavenly Calling ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:11) - In Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 2:18 the author has revealed the ministry of Jesus as the pre-incarnate, eternal Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14) and the Apostle of our salvation sent from God to redeem mankind as the Son of Man ( Hebrews 2:1-18). He will now take up the bulk of the epistle of Hebrews with a lengthy discourse on His present-day office as our Great High Priest, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18). The lengthy passage in Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18 reveals His third phase of ministry that is taking place today, as our High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for the saints. This Epistle introduced Jesus in His initial office as the eternal Word of God, creator of the universe, born as the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:1-14). Then it discusses His second phase of ministry as the Apostle sent from Heaven in order to secure man's salvation ( Hebrews 2:1-18). Jesus Christ is now in His third phase of ministry as our Great High Priest, coming to our aid so that we might persevere until the end. Jesus will enter into His fourth and final phase of ministry as He one day will rule and reign in Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the while Jesus Christ has been the eternal, pre-incarnate Son of God; and since partaking of flesh and blood He has now become our Brother.

It is important to understand that this passage of Scripture regarding Jesus' redemptive role for mankind ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 10:18) is described from the perspective of our need to continue in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to obtain this redemption. Thus, the theme of the perseverance of the saints is emphasized. In contrast, the lengthy discourse in the epistle of Romans , which emphasizes Church doctrine, discusses our secure position of justification through faith in Jesus Christ once we believe the message of the Gospel. However, in Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 5:14 we are told that our justification is dependent upon our willingness to persevere in faith and not turn back in rebellion, as did the children of Israel in the wilderness.

Hebrews 3:1 picks up the theme of the second literary section, calling it the "heavenly calling." This passage of Scripture explains Jesus' role as the Apostle and High Priest of our salvation who is faithful to lead us to our eternal rest that God has promised from the foundation of the world, a charge that the children of Israel failed to heed under Moses as he led them through the wilderness. The author first tells us that Jesus Christ now serves as the Apostle and High Priest of this heavenly calling ( Hebrews 3:1-6). The author will support this statement with a doctrinal argument ( Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11), which is based upon the analogy of the faithfulness of Moses leading the children of Israel through the wilderness (taken from Numbers 12:7) and the unfaithfulness of many Israelites in considering Moses as their appointed leader (taken from Numbers 13-14).

a) Rest in Jesus ( Hebrews 3:1-6) - The author gives us an example of both Jesus Christ and Moses as faithful servants over the ministry that the Lord gave to them ( Hebrews 3:1-6). Moses was a servant by leading the children of Israel out of bondage and through the wilderness towards their eternal rest; and Jesus Himself became an Apostle and High Priest in order to lead mankind into his eternal rest in fulfillment of Psalm 8:5-7. As Moses was faithful over the Israelites, Jesus was faithful lead mankind into rest.

b) Applying the Story of the Wilderness Journey to the Christian Faith ( Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11) - Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11 offers a doctrinal discourse to support his claim that Jesus Christ is the Apostle and High Priest of this heavenly calling. He provides the readers with a sobering example of the children of Israel who fell in the wilderness and later never entered into its true rest with Joshua , all because of disobedience. In this passage of Scripture the author warns his readers not to miss their opportunity to enter into rest as Israel missed theirs under the ministries of Moses and Joshua ( Jeremiah 31:2). God provided Joshua as a type of "saviour" who failed to lead Israel into their rest, and He has provided Jesus Christ as our Saviour to bring us into our eternal rest.

Jeremiah 31:2, "Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest."

C. Conclusion to God's Divine Calling: Warning in Failure to Heed the Gospel Call ( Hebrews 4:12-13) - Hebrews 4:12-13 serves as a conclusion to the opening exhortation to heed God's divine calling given in Hebrews 2:1-4, warning readers not to neglect this heavenly calling. Hebrews 2:1-4 exhorts us to give heed to the things that we have heard, explaining that we shall not escape if we neglect this call to salvation, just as the children of Israel in the wilderness did not escape divine judgment ( Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:11). Thus, Hebrews 4:12-13 reaches back and grabs Hebrews 2:1-4 as its antecedent, so to speak. The author explains in Hebrews 4:12-13 that the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to man's heart, so that God will be able to judge all of mankind based upon their response to the proclamation of the Gospel ( Hebrews 4:12-13).

III. Justification: Jesus Christ is the Apostle of Our Salvation ( Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 5:14) - In Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 5:14 we find the third literary section. This passage contains the second exhortation in the epistle of Hebrews , exhorting us to hold fast to our confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by coming boldly to God's throne in order to find grace and mercy to persevere; for the Jesus Christ our Great High Priest maintains our position of justification before God. Those who reject the Gospel will receive damnation, as stated in the conclusion of the previous section ( Hebrews 4:12-13), but those who accept it will find access to God's throne of grace ( Hebrews 4:14-16). The author will then briefly mention the faithfulness of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest ( Hebrews 5:1-10) and conclude this section with a rebuke for their lack of spiritual growth ( Hebrews 5:11-14).

A. Second Exhortation to Holdfast a Profession of Faith in Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 4:14-16) - Hebrews 4:14-16 contains the second exhortation of the epistle of Hebrews , encouraging us holdfast our profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and to come boldly to God's throne in order to find grace and mercy to persevere.

B. Second Doctrinal Discourse: The Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Understanding His Office for Us) ( Hebrews 5:1-10) - In Hebrews 5:1-10 contains a doctrinal discourse with a brief introduction to the office of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest since it is by His priesthood that we have access to God's throne of grace ( Hebrews 4:14-16). This passage briefly states that Jesus meets the two requirements of being High Priest, which are the necessity to be a man ( Hebrews 5:1-3), and the need to be called of God ( Hebrews 5:4-10).

1. The High Priest Must Be a Man ( Hebrews 5:1-3) - The first point in proving Jesus Christ is qualified to become our Great High Priest is that a high priest for men must come from among men so that the priest can sympathize with men ( Hebrews 5:1-3). Jesus qualifies because He partook of flesh and blood ( Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15).

Hebrews 2:14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that Isaiah , the devil;"

Hebrews 2:17, "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."

Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

2. The High Priest Must Be Ordained by God ( Hebrews 5:4-10) - The second point in proving Jesus Christ is qualified to become our Great High Priest is that the high priest must be ordained by God ( Hebrews 5:4-10). Jesus qualifies because He was made a high priest by God. Hebrews 5:4-10 explains that Jesus His prayers were heard because of His reverence for God, which was why He was obedient in suffering on the Cross, and it was why He was ordained a high priest. Since Jesus Christ was of tribe of Judah, and not of Levi, the priestly tribe, the writer of Hebrews is explaining why Jesus meets these requirements of being our High Priest.

C. Conclusion to Justification: Warning for Failure to Grow in Maturity ( Hebrews 5:11-14) - Hebrews 5:11-14 contains the author's concluding remarks on the literary section that emphasizes our justification through faith in Jesus Christ. Before Paul continues teaching about the office and ministry of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest he takes a moment to rebuke the Hebrews for still being spiritual babes in Christ ( Hebrews 5:11-14)

IV. Indoctrination: The Superior Priesthood of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18) - Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18 places emphasis upon our indoctrination as a part of our need to persevere in the Christian faith. This passage of Scripture offers us a theological discourse unlike any other in the Holy Scriptures. In order to persevere Jesus Christ made access to God's throne freely available to all believers, by which we are exhorted to grow and mature in our spiritual journey ( Hebrews 6:1-8). The author supports this exhortation with a doctrinal discourse on the analogy of the priesthood of Melchizedek with that of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 6:9 to Hebrews 10:18).

A. Third Exhortation: Grow in Maturity ( Hebrews 6:1-8) - Based upon His present-day office as our Great High Priest, the Hebrews are exhorted to grow up into maturity through the Word and to understand and walk in this revelation of their Great High Priest a means of persevering in the faith ( Hebrews 6:1-3). He then warns his readers against the dangers of apostasy ( Hebrews 6:4-8).

Christian maturity necessitates an understanding of Jesus' present-day ministry as our Great High Priest. They will accomplish this by first making sure the foundation of their faith is laid secure, and then moving into a higher level of faith, which must be directed by God; thus, he says, "If God permits." They will be able to go on into a deeper knowledge of the truth as God directs each of them into Christian service and anointings. The author of Hebrews will then explain the faithfulness of God's promises to those who go on into maturity ( Hebrews 6:9-20). He then gives them a lengthy teaching on the office and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18), after which repeats his warning given in Hebrews 6:4-8 by saying, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" ( Hebrews 10:26). Thus, he gives them this "knowledge" for a deeper walk with the Lord, which he exhorts them pursue in Hebrews 6:1-3 and in Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 13:17.

B. Third Doctrinal Discourse: The Superior Priesthood of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 6:9 to Hebrews 10:18) - The author then leads the Hebrews into a revelation of the priestly office of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 6:9 to Hebrews 10:18), which reveals the need for indoctrination in order to persevere in the faith. He begins his doctrinal discourse by reminding them of their sure hope and promise by God of receiving eternal life ( Hebrews 6:9-20).

1. God's Sure Promises in Christ Jesus ( Hebrews 6:9-20) - Hebrews 6:1-3 exhorts the readers to press on into maturity, which necessitates an understanding of Jesus' present-day ministry as our Great High Priest. If God permits, they will be able to go on into a deeper knowledge of the truth. After explaining to them the faithfulness of God promises to those who go on into maturity ( Hebrews 6:9-20), the author will give them a lengthy teaching on the office and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18), after which he repeats his warning given in Hebrews 6:4-8 by saying, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" ( Hebrews 10:26). Thus, he gives them this "knowledge" for a deeper walk with the Lord, which he exhorts them follow in Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 13:17.

2. Jesus Offers a New and Better Covenant through a Superior Priesthood and Sacrifice ( Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18) - Jesus Christ offers a new and better covenant through a superior priesthood and a superior sacrifice. Hebrews 7:1-28 explains how the superior priesthood of Jesus Christ under the order of Melchizedek offers a new and better covenant for God's people. Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18 explains how Jesus Christ offers a new and better covenant through a superior sacrifice.

a) Jesus Offers a New and Better Priesthood through a Superior Order of Melchizedek ( Hebrews 7:1-28) - The underlying theme of Hebrews 7:1-28 is that the priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to the Levitical order because it is under the order of Melchizedek. The author first introduces his readers to the character of Melchizedek as recorded in Scripture in order to identify it with Jesus' priesthood ( Hebrews 7:1-3). He then demonstrates this king's superiority over the patriarch Abraham through the tithe, with the argument being further supported by the fact that the Levitical priesthood gave tithes in the loins of Abraham ( Hebrews 7:4-10). The second argument in Hebrews 7:11-28 made by the author shows that the order of Melchizedek is unending, while the Levitical priesthood is weak because the priests are subject to death. This means that Jesus Christ is the Mediator of a better, or superior, covenant. Thus, the proof is given that the order of Melchizedek (and of Christ Jesus) is superior to that of the Levitical priesthood.

i) A Description of Melchizedek ( Hebrews 7:1-3) - Hebrews 7:1-3 offers an introduction to Melchizedek prior to making a number of arguments as to his superiority over the Levitical priesthood.

ii) The Order of Melchizedek is Superior to that of the Levites Because They Paid Tithes to Him Through Abraham ( Hebrews 7:4-10) - While Hebrews 7:1-3 explains how Jesus Christ is identified with the order of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:4-10 serves as an argument to explain how the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of the Levites because they paid tithes to him through Abraham. Since Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and receive his blessing, then Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. Since Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham, then the Levitical order is also inferior to the order of Melchizedek (and of the priesthood of Jesus Christ).

iii) The Order of Melchizedek is Superior to that of the Levites because it is Unending ( Hebrews 7:11-28) - Hebrews 7:11-28 argues the point that the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of the Levites because it is unending. This passage of Scripture serves largely as an exegesis of Psalm 110:4, "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

b) Jesus Christ Offers a New and Better Covenant Through a Superior Sacrifice ( Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18) - Having proven that Jesus Christ is the mediator of a better and more superior office of priesthood in Hebrews 7:1-28 under the order of Melchizedek, the author then proceeds to explain how this new covenant necessitated a better sacrifice as well by referring to Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Hebrews 8:8-12. Therefore, Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18 focuses upon the establishment of a new covenant through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ and a doing away of the old covenant, and it, and its serves largely as an exegesis of Jeremiah 31:31-34.

i) A Summary Statement of the Superior Priesthood of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 8:1-2) - Hebrews 8:1-2 serves as a summary of the previous passages explaining the superior priesthood of Jesus Christ. The main point, or summary, of the Hebrews 7:1-28 is given here. This is what the author has said about Jesus' office as Great High Priest up to this point. Jesus now serves as a high priest of a heavenly Tabernacle of which Moses testified ( Hebrews 8:5), in a superior place, and not an inferior, earthly Tabernacle as did the Levites.

ii) The Promise of a New Covenant ( Hebrews 8:3-13) - In Hebrews 8:3-13 the author refers back to Jeremiah 31:31-34 to prove that the Levitical priesthood of the old covenant failed, and man was in need of a new and better covenant for the people of God, a new covenant promised in the prophecy of Jeremiah.

iii) A Description of the Sacrifices of the Earthly Tabernacle Under the Old Covenant ( Hebrews 9:1-10) - Hebrews 9:1-10 gives a brief description of the ministry and sacrifices of the earthly Tabernacle under the old covenant. It also gives us an additional brief glimpse into the symbolic meaning of the Tabernacle as it reflects the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. We are given some insight into our access into this heavenly Tabernacle in Hebrews 10:19-22.

iv) A Description of the Sacrifice of Christ Jesus in the Heavenly Tabernacle Under the New Covenant ( Hebrews 9:11 to Hebrews 10:18) - Hebrews 9:11 to Hebrews 10:18 gives a lengthy description of the ministry and once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Heavenly Tabernacle under the new covenant. A key word in this passage of Scripture is "blood."

(1) Christ Entered a Greater Tabernacle with a Greater Sacrifice ( Hebrews 9:11-14) - Hebrews 9:11-14 explains how Christ entered a greater tabernacle with a greater sacrifice than that of the Levitical priesthood. This passage reveals how the Day of Atonement under the Law was a type and symbol of our redemption when Christ Jesus entered Heaven and paid for man's sins with His own precious blood.

(2) Christ Became the Mediator of the New Covenant ( Hebrews 9:15-22) - Hebrews 9:15-22 explains how Jesus Christ became the mediator of a new covenant.

(3) Christ's Sacrifice was Once for All ( Hebrews 9:23 to Hebrews 10:18) - Hebrews 9:23 to Hebrews 10:18 explains how the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was once for all.

V. Divine Service ( Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40) - Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40 emphasizes our divine service based upon the available priesthood of Jesus Christ who ever lives to intercede for the saints. Hebrews 10:19-25 reflects back upon the message contained in Hebrews 5:1 to Hebrews 10:18 by telling us how we are to respond to Jesus' present-day ministry as our Great High Priest. The previous discussion explained the superior priesthood of Jesus ( Hebrews 7:1-28) and His superior sacrifice ( Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18). We now have the access and boldness to enter into the holy place because of His one-time blood sacrifice ( Hebrews 10:19-20) and because He now intercedes for us as our Great High Priest ( Hebrews 10:21). We now can maintain our sanctification: spirit, soul, and body. We can draw near to God and serve Him with a pure heart ( Hebrews 10:22), and hold fast our confession, reflecting our mental decisions ( Hebrews 10:23), and walk in love towards others, which indicates our physical actions ( Hebrews 10:24-25). The author then gives a warning against falling away in Hebrews 10:26-39 for those who refuse to decide to this great revelation of the depth of his redemption in Christ Jesus.

The author supports his opening exhortation ( Hebrews 10:19-39) by giving the example of those who served God under the Old Covenant in order to reach glorification by their persevering faith in God ( Hebrews 11:1-40).

A. Fourth Exhortation: Draw Near to God and Do Good Works ( Hebrews 10:19-39) - In Hebrews 10:19-39 the author exhorts his readers to draw near to God and do the will of God so that they might receive the promise ( Hebrews 10:36), which reflects the theme of divine service. He will follow this exhortation with a doctrinal discourse that consists of many examples of those who have fulfilled their divine commissions and received their promises.

1. Exhortation to Serve the Lord ( Hebrews 10:19-25) - In Hebrews 10:19-25 the author finishes his lengthy theological discourse and exhorts his readers to persevere in serving the Lord. He began this discourse in Hebrews 6:1 by exhorting them to grow in Christian maturity, characterized in Hebrews 6:4-5 as the believer who has partaken of the Holy Ghost, and grown in the Word of God, and has tasted of the powers of the world to come, or "the gifts of the Spirit," at work in his life. The description of going on to perfection, or maturity, stands in contrast to the elementary knowledge that "babes" in Christ walk in ( Hebrews 5:11-14). The author of Hebrews then offered a theological discourse in Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18 on the high priesthood and atonement of Jesus Christ as the believer's basis for growing in maturity. The believer will then understand how to freely draw near unto God ( Hebrews 10:22), hold fast his confession of faith ( Hebrews 10:23), and exhort others unto good works ( Hebrews 10:24-25), allowing him to grow into maturity as described in Hebrews 6:4-5.

2. Warning Against Drawing Back ( Hebrews 10:26-39) - Hebrews 10:26-39 gives a warning against drawing back, or falling away to those who may decide not to draw near unto God and hold fast their confession of faith in Christ, denying the high priesthood and atonement of Jesus Christ that was explained in Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18. We have similar statements in Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 12:15; Hebrews 12:25. Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-31 contain a similar statement, that those who turn away from God willfully after knowing the truth cannot find repentance a second time. Between these two statements is a lengthy doctrinal discourse on the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which reveals that His offering secured eternal redemption for mankind once and for all. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot make a second offering for sin.

B. Fourth Doctrinal Discourse: Examples from the Old Testament of Persevering in Divine Service ( Hebrews 11:1-40) - The basis of our strength to persevere in divine service is based upon the understanding of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is standing at the right hand of the Father ever living to make intercession for the saints. The author of Hebrews will exhort us to serve Jesus Christ in each of our callings by giving us examples of those who remained steadfast until the end in fulfilling their divine commissions and of some who drew back unto destruction. Hebrews 11:1-40 gives us many examples of men and women of God who held fast their faith and fulfilled their commissions by serving God with persevering faith and trust in Him. They not only believed in God, but they believed He was a rewarder of those who served Him ( Hebrews 11:6) in that He would fulfill His promises to them, which ultimate promise was fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God. In contrast, in the next section of Hebrews 12:1-29 we will be given an example of Esau who drew back in faith ( Hebrews 12:15-27.)

Note that there were many events that happened in the lives of these saints of old who persevered, but Hebrews 11:1-40 is placing emphasis upon the issue of perseverance in divine service. Thus, the author defines their faith in Hebrews 11:1 by their examples of endurance for a greater hope that lay before them. This is because the underlying theme of the epistle of Hebrews is the perseverance of the saints.

The genealogies of the six righteous men in Genesis (Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) are the emphasis in this first book of the Old Testament, with each of their narrative stories opening with a divine commission from God to these men, and closing with the fulfillment of prophetic words concerning the divine commissions. This structure suggests that the author of the book of Genesis wrote under the office of the prophet in that the prophecy is given and fulfilled, noting that all the books of the Old Testament were written by men of God who moved in the office of the prophet. We find a reference to the fulfillment of these divine commissions by each of these patriarchs in Hebrews 11:1-40. The underlying theme of the Holy Scriptures is God's plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, the book of Genesis places emphasis upon these men of righteousness because of the role that they play in this divine plan as they were called to live by faith and fulfilled their divine commissions. This explains why the genealogies of Ishmael ( Genesis 25:12-18) and of Esau ( Genesis 36:1-43) are relatively brief, because God does not discuss the destinies of these two men in the book of Genesis. These two men were not men of righteousness, for they missed their destinies because of sin. Ishmael persecuted Isaac and Esau sold his birthright. However, it helps us to understand that God has blessed Ishmael and Esau because of Abraham although the seed of the Messiah and our redemption does not pass through their lineage. There were six righteous men who did fulfill their destinies in order to preserve a righteous seed so that God could create a righteous nation from the fruit of their loins.

Hebrews 11:1-2 Faith Defined

Hebrews 11:3 Testimony of Creation Story Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3

Hebrews 11:4 Testimony of Abel Gen of Heavens & Earth ( Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26)

Hebrews 11:5-6 Testimony of Enoch Gen of Adam ( Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8)

Hebrews 11:7 Testimony of Noah Gen of Noah ( Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29)

Hebrews 11:8-19 Testimony of Abraham Gen of Terah/Abraham ( Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11)

Hebrews 11:20 Testimony of Isaac Gen of Isaac ( Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29)

Hebrews 11:21-22 Testimony of Jacob/Joseph Gen of Jacob/Joseph ( Genesis 37:1 to Genesis 50:26)

Hebrews 11:23-29 Testimony of Moses Exodus

Hebrews 11:30 Testimony of Joshua Joshua

Hebrews 11:31 Testimony of Rahab Joshua

Hebrews 11:32-38 Testimony of Old Testament Rest of the Old Testament

Hebrews 11:39-40 Summary The Faith of the N.T. believer

V. Perseverance ( Hebrews 12:1-29) - Hebrews 12:1-29 places emphasis upon our ability to persevere through the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The previous revelation of our access to God's throne will become the basis for our ability to persevere against persecutions and difficulties in this life because we maintain our justification before God as we continually come before Him with Jesus our High Priest there to intercede faithfully in our behalf, as the author exhorts us to do in Hebrews 10:19-39. The author exhorts his readers to persevere in their divine service by referring to the list of examples from the Old Testament and the supreme example of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 12:1-3) as the greatest example of perseverance in receiving eternal glorification at the Father's right hand. If we are to persevere, we must endure chastisement as a measure of our physical perseverance ( Hebrews 12:4-13), pursue holiness as a measure of our spiritual perseverance ( Hebrews 12:14-17), and hear God's Word as a measure of our mental perseverance ( Hebrews 12:18-29).

A. Fifth Exhortation: The Supreme Example of Christ Jesus ( Hebrews 12:1-3) - Hebrews 12:1-3 exhorts us to persevere as did those under the Old Covenant in order to obtain our promised glorification, which rest was initially made available for them. We see the emphasis upon perseverance in the phrase "run with patience," and "Him who endured." He bases his exhortation on those under the Old Covenant who fulfilled their divine callings and obtained eternal rest, and particularly upon Jesus Christ as our supreme example of perseverance in obtaining eternal glorification at the Father's right hand ( Hebrews 12:1-3).

B. Fifth Doctrinal Discourse: The Need for Divine Chastisement and Holiness ( Hebrews 12:4-29) - Hebrews 12:4-29 gives us the fifth doctrinal discourse in the epistle of Hebrews with a discussion on divine chastisement, which produces holiness, which allows us to receive God's Word.

1. Endure Chastisement (Physical Perseverance) ( Hebrews 12:4-13) - We are to endure divine chastisement as a measure of our physical perseverance. With this exhortation the author uses the natural illustration of a father's discipline over his son. Because we are still in our sinful, mortal bodies, this journey will require times of chastisement in order to keep us on the right path, so we are not to grow weary; for when we do not lay aside such small weights and hindrances of sin, our Heavenly Father will bring chastisement to bring out attention to these areas. We are to keep our path straight by enduring chastisement and discipline. The supreme example is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was never chastised by the Father, but He did endure suffering, event unto death ( Hebrews 5:8), who is mentioned as our example in Hebrews 12:1-3.

Hebrews 5:8, "Though he were a Song of Solomon , yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;"

2. Pursue Holiness (Spiritual Perseverance) ( Hebrews 12:14-17) - We are then exhorted to pursue holiness as a measure our spiritual perseverance. With this exhortation the author gives us another sobering example in the life of Esau, who failed to receive his promise after having been given the blessing ( Hebrews 12:16-17).

3. Hear God's Word (Mental Perseverance) ( Hebrews 12:18-29) - We are then exhorted to hear and receive God's word from Mount Sion as a measure of our mental perseverance. With this exhortation the author uses an Old Testament comparison of God delivering His Word to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai. In Hebrews 12:18-29 the author makes a clear contrast between the way man communicates with God in the new covenant with the old covenant. He emphasizes the negative aspects of Mount Sinai in Hebrews 12:18-21 when the children of Israel were gathered around it to hear the voice of God. In Hebrews 12:22-24 he emphasizes those who are already in Heaven to assist in our redemption. He then interprets this Old Testament event under the New Covenant ( Hebrews 12:25-29).

VI. Glorification: Our Rest ( Hebrews 13:1-17) - The author of Hebrews offers his final exhortation with a series of practical applications on how to conduct our lives in holiness so that we may enter into the rest that Jesus Christ made available for us. The author explains how to walk in brotherly love under the New Covenant ( Hebrews 13:1-8), then discusses how to make spiritual sacrifices under this New Covenant based on an Old Testament analogy ( Hebrews 13:9-17).

A. Sixth Exhortation: Brotherly Love Under the New Covenant ( Hebrews 13:1-8) - In Hebrews 13:1-8 we have a definition of love under the new covenant in Christ Jesus, which moves us into a place of "Sabbath rest" ( Hebrews 4:9). We walk in love with our Christian brothers ( Hebrews 13:1) when we from the heart show mercy towards the stranger ( Hebrews 13:2). The stranger represents the person in society who is not in a position to reward us for acts of kindness. Thus, we have to do it as unto the Lord, not expecting anything in return from men. We walk in love with our Christian brothers when we with the minds remember to pray for those suffering for Christ's sake ( Hebrews 13:3). We walk in love with the brethren with our bodies when we honor God by restraining from fleshly passions ( Hebrews 13:4). We walk in love with the brethren materially and financially when we refuse to covet their possessions ( Hebrews 13:5). Finally, we walk in brotherly love when we honor our church leaders ( Hebrews 13:6-7). This love walk was instituted under the old covenant, and still is required under the new covenant; for God does not change. His character, reflected in Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever ( Hebrews 13:8).

B. Sixth Doctrinal Discourse: How to Make Spiritual Sacrifices Under the New Covenant ( Hebrews 13:9-17) - Hebrews 13:9-17 makes a contrast between the ordinances of the New Covenant and the Old Covenant as it teaches us how to make spiritual sacrifices today. We are to bear the reproaches of men as Jesus bore them, and we offer the sacrifice of praise from our lips as well as the sacrifice of good works with our actions.

VII. Conclusion ( Hebrews 13:18-25) - In Hebrews 13:18-25 we have the concluding remarks to the epistle of Hebrews.

XI. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of Hebrews: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of Hebrews. This journey through Hebrews will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to persevere in the Christian faith through the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ by heeding the exhortations laid out in the Epistle.

I. Predestination: Supreme Revelation of Jesus as Son of God — Hebrews 1:1-14

A. Opening Claim: Jesus the Son of God — Hebrews 1:1-4

B. Scriptural Support for Opening Claim — Hebrews 1:5-14

II. Calling: Jesus Leads Us into Eternal Dominion — Hebrews 2:1 to Hebrews 4:13

A. 1st Exhortation: Heed the Heavenly Calling— Hebrews 2:1-4

B. 1st Doctrinal Discourse: God's Original Commission— Hebrews 2:5 to Hebrews 4:11

1. Man's Original Place of Dominion Over the Earth — Hebrews 2:5-9

2. Jesus is the Author of our Salvation — Hebrews 2:10-18

3. Jesus is Apostle and High Priest of Heavenly Calling— Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:11

a) Jesus & Moses as Servants of God — Hebrews 3:1-6

b) The Wilderness Journey & the Christian Faith — Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11

C. Conclusion: Warning in Failure to Heed the Gospel Call— Hebrews 4:12-13

III. Justification: Jesus Christ is the High Priest of Our Confession— Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 5:14

A. 2nd Exhortation: Hold Fast Confession of Faith in Christ— Hebrews 4:14-16

B. 2nd Doctrinal Discourse: The Priesthood of Jesus— Hebrews 5:1-10

1. The High Priest Must Be a Man — Hebrews 5:1-3

2. The High Priest Must Be Ordained by God — Hebrews 5:4-10

C. Conclusion: Warning for Failure to Grow in Maturity — Hebrews 5:11-14

IV. Indoctrination: The Superior Priesthood of Jesus Christ — Hebrews 6:1 to Hebrews 10:18

A. 3rd Exhortation: Grow in Maturity — Hebrews 6:1-8

1. Exhortation to Grow in Maturity— Hebrews 6:1-3

2. Warning against Apostasy— Hebrews 6:4-8

B. 3rd Doctrinal Discourse— Hebrews 6:9 to Hebrews 10:18

1. God's Sure Promises in Christ Jesus — Hebrews 6:9-20

2. Jesus Offers Better Covenant Thru a Superior Order— Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18

a) A Superior Order of Melchizedek — Hebrews 7:1-28

i) A Description of Melchizedek— Hebrews 7:1-3

ii) Superior to Levites Because They Paid Tithes — Hebrews 7:4-10

iii) Superior to Levites because it is Unending — Hebrews 7:11-28

b) A Superior Sacrifice — Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18

i) A Summary Statement — Hebrews 8:1-2

ii) The Promise of a New Covenant — Hebrews 8:3-13

iii) Sacrifices Under the Old Covenant — Hebrews 9:1-10

iv) Sacrifice Under New Covenant — Hebrews 9:11 to Hebrews 10:18

(1) A Greater Sacrifice — Hebrews 9:11-14

(2) The Mediator of the New Covenant — Hebrews 9:15-22

(3) Sacrifice was Once for All — Hebrews 9:23 to Hebrews 10:18

V. Divine Service — Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40

A. 4th Exhortation: Good Works — Hebrews 10:19-39

1. Exhortation to Serve the Lord — Hebrews 10:19-25

2. Warning Against Drawing Back — Hebrews 10:26-39

B. 4th Doctrinal Discourse— Hebrews 11:1-40

1. Faith Defined— Hebrews 11:1-2

2. Testimony of Creation Story— Hebrews 11:3

3. Testimony of Abel— Hebrews 11:4

4. Testimony of Enoch— Hebrews 11:5-6

5. Testimony of Noah— Hebrews 11:7

6. Testimony of Abraham— Hebrews 11:8-19

7. Testimony of Isaac— Hebrews 11:20

8. Testimony of Jacob/Joseph— Hebrews 11:21-22

9. Testimony of Moses— Hebrews 11:23-29

10. Testimony of Joshua— Hebrews 11:30

11. Testimony of Rahab— Hebrews 11:31

12. Testimony of Rest of Old Testament— Hebrews 11:32-38

13. Summary: The Faith of the N.T. believer— Hebrews 11:39-40

V. Perseverance — Hebrews 12:1-29

A. 5th Exhortation: The Supreme Example of Christ Jesus — Hebrews 12:1-3

B. 5th Doctrinal Discourse— Hebrews 12:4-29

1. Endure Chastisement (Physical Perseverance) — Hebrews 12:4-13

2. Pursue Holiness (Spiritual Perseverance) — Hebrews 12:14-17

3. Hear God's Word (Mental Perseverance) — Hebrews 12:18-29

VI. Glorification: Our Rest — Hebrews 13:1-17

A. 6th Exhortation: Brotherly Love Under the New Covenant — Hebrews 13:1-8

B. 6th Doctrinal Discourse — Hebrews 13:9-17

VII. Conclusion — Hebrews 13:18-25

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Craigie, Peter C. Psalm 1-50. In Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , Vol 19. Eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Inc, 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019
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