“The Epistle of Paul the Apostle” is a fairly typical title to the book of Hebrews and most 1611 KJV Bibles have that title.
There are 27 books in the New Testament and 18 of them identify their authorship.
Heb 1:1 – God wrote Hebrews, but He also wrote the other 26 books of the New Testament.
If there is evidence in the book of Hebrews that tells you who wrote it, then it is probably something that you should know.
Heb 13:23 – Most think Paul wrote Hebrews because of his close association with Timothy. That’s an insubstantial reason for believing that though.
Hebrews never refers its author by name, but it uses the word “we” 36 times, “us” 26 times, and “our” 15 times. Clues are provided concerning the author. The identity of the author cannot be proven conclusively. When looking at the we’s, us’, and our’s, a candidate does bubble up to the top though.
Requirement #1 – the author of Hebrews must be someone who came to believe under the kingdom gospel with its requirement of endurance.
Under the gospel of the grace of God, I am not required to “endure to the end” (Mt 24:13, Mk 13:13) because works are irrelevant to my salvation (Eph 2:8-9). What does the book of Hebrews say though?
Heb 2:1-3 – the idea here is if they neglect it – if they don’t stand fast in it (endure), then they have a problem.
Heb 3:6 – “if” we hold fast the confidence… There is no “if” in the body of Christ today – I am a member permanently and eternally, from the moment I believed.
Heb 3:14 – “if” we hold the beginning… Is this the same as what the book of Romans teaches? Good way to test this – go home and tell your spouse “I love you if….” – is that the same thing as saying “I love you unconditionally, permanently, and eternally”?
Heb 3:14 – “For we are made partakers of Christ, if…” – I’m already made a partaker of Christ! This verse is not speaking to a Mystery saint.
Heb 4:1 – This absolutely does NOT sound Pauline. “We have this promise, but we fear that some of you are just going to come up short…” – the idea is that they do not endure long enough, they fall short.
Heb 4:11 – This is totally counter to Eph 2:8-9. Would Paul say to Mystery saints “let us labour to enter into that rest”?
Heb 4:14 – “let us hold fast our profession”
Heb 10:15 – this is a reference to the New Covenant with Israel.
Heb 10:26-27 – after you receive the knowledge of the truth, you have the ability to sin willfully and end up in Hell. That is NOT how things work within the dispensation of Grace.
Heb 10:39 – some draw back and they draw back unto perdition.
Heb 12:25 – “if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” – if you turn away from the Lord Jesus Christ today, are you lost? No. If yes, then you would have to endure, you would have to continue in certain things. What is happening here is that these folks turn away and they end up damned.
Heb 12:28 – “we receive” what? A kingdom! As a member of the body of Christ, I’m not waiting for a kingdom.
The running theme of Hebrews is that one needs to hold fast the profession of faith.
Notice in Heb 12:28, the word “we” and “us” is used. That eliminates Paul. The author of Hebrews was saved under the kingdom gospel. The author himself had to hold fast (endure). The book of Hebrews is written by someone who is not a Mystery saint.
Requirement #2 – the author had to be saved after the Cross and they cannot be someone who personally interacted or heard the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.
Heb 2:3 – “we,” “we,” “us” – “confirmed by them that heard him”. The author of Hebrews did not hear Jesus. Hebrews was not written by one of the 12. Hebrews was not written by Paul (Gal 1:11-12, Gal 1:1). The author of Hebrews learned something about the kingdom gospel from other men and that does not describe Paul.
Acts 1:20-23 – Judas commits suicide and two are put forward to replace him. When they are figuring out a replacement apostle for Judas, they say that it has to be someone that traveled with us the whole time, beginning with the baptism of John. So that eliminates these two candidates (Joseph/Barsabas/Justus and Matthias) thanks to Heb 2:3. This also most likely eliminates anyone who came to faith while Jesus Christ was on planet earth (Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn) – they would have interacted with Christ.
What Requirement #2 implies is that it is someone who comes to faith after the Cross but under the kingdom gospel. That means that it would most likely be someone within the first half of the book of Acts. You would expect them to be mentioned somewhere within Acts 1 to 15.
Requirement #3 – the author of Hebrews did not have the signs of an apostle (they did not exercise sign gifts).
Heb 2:3-4 – “God also bearing “them” witness, both with signs and wonders…” This tells us that the author of Hebrews did not have the signs of an apostle. He did not bear the sign gifts of an apostle.
Acts 1:23 – Barsabas and Matthias – eliminated.
Acts 4:36 – Barnabas -> Acts 14:14 – Barnabas was an apostle and thus had the sign gifts of an apostle.
Acts 6:5 – these are all candidates, but Stephen is ruled out thanks to Acts 6:8.
Acts 8:6 – Philip is eliminated from the group in Acts 6:5. See Acts 8:13 also.
Acts 12:12 – John Mark is introduced.
Acts 13:1 – Candidates introduced here.
Acts 15:22 – Two additional candidates provided. They are of the kingdom church.
Acts 18:2, 7 – Aquila and Justus are candidates.
Acts 18:24 – Apollos
Acts 19:29 – Gaius and Aristarchus
Requirement #4 – the author must be someone who knew Timothy and worked with him.
Heb 13:23-24 – v.23 says that “Timothy is set at liberty” – he has been freed from captivity (prison). There is no time in the book of Acts where it mentions that Timothy was captive. v.24 – where is Hebrews written from? Italy… most likely Rome. These two verses appear to imply that Hebrews is written at a time when Timothy has been in prison in Italy and has gotten out and the author is then writing about those facts.
Acts 11:19 – in Acts 7 when Stephen is stoned, it is followed by an immediate persecution in Acts 8. The kingdom believers who are in Jerusalem scatter, but they only go so far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch (Acts 11:19). It does not look like they scatter as far as Rome. They appear to have scattered relatively slowly also. One would look for a reason for this kingdom believer author of Hebrews to be in Rome.
There is no time in the book of Acts where Timothy is mentioned as being captive, but in Heb 13:23, it mentions that Timothy has been freed. That means that Hebrews is written AFTER Acts 28. Some time after Acts 28, Timothy must had been held captive and then let go. That gives us an idea as to when Hebrews was written.
Was there any time mentioned in Scripture where Timothy would have occasion to be in Rome? Any obvious time?
Requirement #5 – the author was present in Italy.
2 Tim 4:9 – (Paul’s last epistle and it is written from Rome.) Paul tells Timothy to come to Rome. Timothy would have done that. Apparently, after Timothy went to Rome, as instructed, he ended up in prison, but was then set free.
If true, we conclude that Hebrews is written AFTER 2nd Timothy.
Independently, these five requirements do not tell you who the author of Hebrews was, but if you put them all together, you get a strong picture as to who it could have been.
2 Tim 4:11 – Did Luke write Hebrews?
(Col 4:9-11 – “who are of the circumcision” – AFTER that – Col 4:12-14 – and Luke is then mentioned. Conclusion = Luke was not of the circumcision, he was not a Jew)
Yet we know that the author of Hebrews has to have been saved under the kingdom gospel. That eliminates Luke.
If Timothy was diligent to do what Paul instructed in 2 Tim 4:9 (come to Rome and see me), then he would have been diligent to do what Paul instructed in 2 Tim 4:11 (bring Mark with you). Hence they would both be in Rome at that time.
Here are some clues:
- It has to be someone that knows Timothy.
- It has to be someone that is in Rome at that time.
- It has to be someone who is a kingdom saint.
- Paul is aged when he dies (Phil 9).
- It has to be someone that gets saved fairly early in life, meaning not as old as Paul, but younger, and in the early part of the book of Acts.
- They can’t be saved too late in the book of Acts.
- They have to out live Paul.
John Mark fills each of these requirements.
Acts 15:36-40 vs. 2 Tim 4:11 – Mark and Paul reconciled and Mark became profitable to Paul’s ministry. That is how grace works!
You will not reach this conclusion if you do not understand the difference between a “kingdom saint” and a “mystery saint”. You will not reach this conclusion if you do not rightly divide the word of truth…