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Paul’s Authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews

  • November 16, 2020
  • By Ben van Noort
Paul’s Authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews

Paul’s Authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews

Why didn’t Paul introduce himself in the Letter to the Hebrews as seen in the rest of his letters?

Former Results
In the former article we gave the motive for the identification of the author of this letter. And we showed from Hebrews 13:23 that Paul must be the author. There he is shown to be the spiritual guide of Timothy, who had never a different one besides Paul.  

The Clue
The remaining question is: But why in the world did Paul not introduce himself as he did in all his other letters? A reasonable answer, that has been proposed in the past, is that this letter was accompanied with another letter of Paul in which that introduction had already occurred. When we look at the options as to which letter that could have been, we arrive at the Letter to the Galatians. 

In many letters Paul and Timothy are together and can be excluded: Romans, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. No options are: 1 Corinthians, Timothy is free instead of imprisoned (Hebrews 13:23). With Ephesians Paul is imprisoned. Also the pastoral letters (to Timothy and Titus) are not options. Only Galatians remains with Hebrews as an attachment to it. These letters are then from the same date (ca. AD 55) and the same place: Ephesus. 

Those from Italy
The greetings at the end of Hebrews (13:24) are also fitting: “Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings.” Italy was not the place of writing. As Galatians and Hebrews were written most probably in Ephesus, Paul sent also the greetings from the Italian Jewish community that came into being after Claudius ordered the removal of the Jews from Rome. 

Galatians and Hebrews, Fitting like a Glove
Most interesting is that Timothy came from this region (the southern part of Galatia, Acts 16:1–3). He was well known among the many Jews who lived there. The Letter to the Hebrews was in fact a preparation for a visit to the Jews of Galatia by Paul and Timothy. And that was very fitting as they were two circumcised Jews. They were the right people for the Christian Jews in Galatia to show their Hebrew value for the non-Jewish Christians to become teachers in the Christian religion (Hebrews 5:12). Moreover in the Letter to the Galatians Paul prepares the non-Jewish Christians to take care for the financial needs of those (Hebrews) who teach them in their newly found faith (Galatians 6:6). 

A Free Position
It seems that Paul had a free position concerning Jewish men who were not circumcised. Timothy had a good reputation after his conversion and seemed free to not be circumcised (Acts 16:2). However, when he became a companion of Paul it would be better for him to also be circumcised (16:3). 

Next Article
The strikingly well-fitting contents of Galatians and Hebrews.

By Ben van Noort, November 16, 2020