For years, scholars said Paul was as the author of Hebrews. Some versions of the Bible emblazoned the title: The Letter of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. For many Christians, Paul was the unnamed author of Hebrews.
Not so fast.
The book of Hebrews is anonymous. No author is named. Throughout the centuries many names were suggested, but none proved. It is unlikely that we shall uncover that which is hidden all these years, but we can contribute to our learning and knowledge of this great book.
During my undergraduate work at Freed-Hardeman, Dr. Dowell Flatt required me to write a senior thesis on the evidence for Apollos as the author. He didn’t necessarily believe that Apollos was the author but, he wanted me to do the research, compile the best available facts, and write an academic paper. Dr. Flatt demanded that I not overstate the case. Don’t insist on what cannot be proven.
Stick with the facts and let them lead you. Do not get ahead of the facts. I am keeping that in mind as I write.
While I cannot state with certainty who wrote the glorious book called Hebrews, I am confident that Paul did not.
Hebrews suggests a deep knowledge of the Law of Moses and the Old Testament. Paul certainly possessed that kind of knowledge. He was a highly educated man (Acts 22:3). But others were also educated including Paul’s associate and fellow author, Luke, and Apollos who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures.
There is some reason to support Pauline authorship, but there is one passage that bedevils the whole idea:
“how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him…” (Hebrews 2:3, emphasis mine, jbe).
It would seem that the author is a second generation believer who learned of Christ from eyewitnesses.
Would Paul say that? Would he even hint that it received the gospel second-hand? Let him speak.
He reports the words of Ananias at his conversion, who said that Paul would both see and hear a message from “The Righteous One” (Acts 22:14).
“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me was not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11, 12).
Paul affirms that he received his message from Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23).
He asserts that the influential church leaders in Jerusalem “added nothing to me” (Galatians 2:6). To the Corinthians, he would declare his equality with so-called super-apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11).
The conclusion is obvious. The writer of Hebrews was an outstanding Bible scholar, but he was not an eyewitness of Jesus Christ.
Paul was an eyewitness. He received his message directly from Christ, whom he saw, and vehemently denies receiving his message from anyone else. I do not claim to know who wrote Hebrews, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t Paul.