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Hebrews: Did the apostle Paul write it? 

Gary Googe Apr 01

Some people might ask—Who knows, who cares, and what difference does it make? But this is a big part of why we have the controversy and division of denominationalism. That’s why knowing the right answer to this is important.  So many assume that if a statement is in the Bible, it must be to us and for our application today. What so many do not understand is that although ALL the Bible is FOR us, it is not all TO us or ABOUT us.  You’ll find numerous articles on this website that address this.

In nearly every generation there has been controversy about the identity of the writer of Hebrews.  Numerous people have been considered.  This includes Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, Luke, James, Clement of Rome, Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul.  For a large part of church history, it has been concluded by many that Paul was the author.  But the bottom line to all the controversy is that no one can know for sure because the name of the author is not given anywhere in the writing itself.  Also, we need to realize that if it was important for us to know, God would have provided a clear statement about it.  Therefore, we should devote most of our attention to other matters in the Bible that are clearly given to us and about us as members of the Body of Christ.

Much more could be said about the identity of the author of Hebrews than I’ll write in this article.  Certainly, there has always been a lot of controversy about this, and I find many good, knowledgeable people on all sides of the issue.  Even among many good students of God’s word there’s the belief that Paul was the author. It is my opinion that the content of the book can tell us more about who the author wasn’t than who it was.

As we begin this study, let us first note that the apostle Paul stated that he was the apostle to the Gentiles, not Israel and to the Hebrews.
Romans 11:13

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]

If you’ve not read my articles about Paul and things pertaining to his commission, I hope you will.  Here are the names of some of them.  I’ve written so many because of the extreme importance of this subject as it relates to having a right understanding of the things you read in the Bible.

Division:  Why can’t Christians get along?

Gospels:  Did Peter and Paul preach the same gospel?

Peter & Paul:  Was their message the same?

Commission:  Which one is ours?

Paul:  What’s so special about his teaching?

Paul: Do we make too much of him?

The apostle Paul was deeply burdened for the salvation of all Israelites [the Hebrew people], but they were not to be his area of emphasis in his ministry.

Romans 9:1-3

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: [Emphasis added]

It was the apostle Peter and others, not Paul, whose ministry and message was directed to Israel, to the Hebrews.

Galatians 2:7-9

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [the Gentiles], and they unto the circumcision [Israel, the Hebrew people also spoken of as Jews]. [Emphasis added]

What’s especially important to note is the differences in the things they taught. That even includes the message and means for salvation, as well as the life that should follow one’s salvation. Faith has always been at the heart of the matter but there are differences in how it was to be manifested.  There are things stated in the book of Hebrews that are different from what we see in those other books where Paul’s authorship is stated in the text itself.  For instance, is our gospel, the one Paul introduced to the world, anywhere to be found in Hebrews? Is there anything about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection serving as the sole means to one’s justification and resultant salvation? Some of these things are touched on in the book but that’s all.  Statements about the Body of Christ and the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Rapture of God’s people are all nowhere to be found there.  After Paul was saved, even a Hebrew [Israelite] could only be saved by accepting the gospel message Paul was commissioned to preach.  The message in the book of Hebrews is quite different than what you find in what are clearly identified as Paul’s thirteen epistles.  Again, Paul states that he’s the apostle to the Gentiles.  Even in his trip to Jerusalem [Acts 15], he only went there to inform the Twelve Apostles of the nature of his message and ministry.  He did not go there for the same reason he went to other places. Whoever the writer of Hebrews was, he spoke of himself as a part of the nation of Israel.  He certainly wasn’t a Gentile.

The writer of Hebrews spoke nothing about believing Jew and Gentile believers becoming a part of the same one body.  Furthermore, at no place in the writing is he anticipating the Rapture for us as members of the Body of Christ.  Instead, the writer of Hebrews anticipated Israel’s coming Messiah to establish God’s earthly kingdom.  Unlike what you’ll find in Hebrews, Paul spoke of the heavenly kingdom to which we would go.  This is a significant difference.

Hebrews 2:1-3

1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first [during His earthly ministry] began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [Emphasis added]

But Paul didn’t get his message from those who heard Him.  This is speaking of the message Christ communicated in His earthly ministry, not His heavenly one that came later. Let’s note Paul’s words about this where he tells us his message came from the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]

His message did not come to him by way of Christ’s earthly ministry, but by His heavenly one.  This is such an important truth, one not known or understood and accepted by most of Christendom.  This was a problem in the course of Paul’s ministry as it still is ours today.

2 Corinthians 5:16

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [Emphasis added]

Paul tells us more about exactly when he communicated the substance of this special revelation so that the Twelve Apostles would become aware of the change that was at that time  was in process through him.

Galatians 2:1-2

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation [the apostles and probably a few others], lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. [Emphasis added]

He spoke this privately to them, knowing it would be a delicate subject.  The truth that God was doing something different from what they’d known would be difficult for them to accept, much as it is for so many even today.  What was the need of him doing this if they were already preaching the same gospel message? Paul tells us he was the first to receive this message.  He was even the first to be saved by believing it.

1 Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

Everything we see in Hebrews that has any likeness to Paul’s message is something the writer learned from him.

Still another important difference we see in Hebrews is the place of works in salvation.  In Paul’s gospel, which is now ours, personal works play no part in it at all.

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Paul talks about this in his letter to the Romans, explaining this clearly.

Romans 11:6 

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works [as it had been in the past]: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. [Emphasis added]

This is different from what the writer of Hebrews says.

Hebrews 5:9

9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; [Emphasis added]

Obeying Him here speaks of the works that were required for one to manifest one’s faith in the old system.  He even provides a list of people who did this in times past in a variety of ways.

Hebrews 11:4-7

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

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. 

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

Verse six is a general statement that relates to us all.  But then he goes on to mention how certain people manifested their faith by their works, something that was required under the old system.

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. [Emphasis added]

This that I’ve cited is just the first part of the list in Hebrews 11.  Here he cites one case after another showing how faith expressed by some work, one way or another, was always what pleased God.  But in our time no works are required for this.  While it is true that we were saved to perform good works, we were not saved by our works.

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Now here’s the verse I want you to note carefully.  Some people foolishly believe verse ten somehow negates what’s said in verses eight and nine.  It does not! Good works can and should follow one’s salvation, but there are occasions when they do not. If they did, there would have been far less need for Paul’s thirteen letters that include a lot of rebukes about the sinfulness of so many of “the brethren,” fellow believers.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Emphasis added]

All too often churchgoers talk about what “true, born again” Christians wouldn’t do.  The reality is that there’s no limit to the depth their sinfulness may go and them still be saved members of the Body of Christ.  A great example of this is seen in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. One can hardly find a sin these “brethren” of Corinth didn’t commit.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men [meaning they were living like unbelievers]? [Emphasis added]

Paul tells us good works on our part have nothing whatsoever to do with our attainment of salvation.  What a difficult task it is to help “religious” people believe this that’s so clearly stated by our apostle Paul.

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Many times, when I have tried to explain this to people they’re quick to quote the writings of James to me, as if I must not be aware of them.

James 2:18-20

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [Emphasis added]

These people seem to assume that I’m not at all familiar with this passage. But what these people fail to realize is that the book of James was not written to us.  The exact same thing can be said about all those books in our Bible from Hebrews to Revelation.  There are things in all these books that conflict with the teachings of the apostle Paul.  That’s because they were all written to the people of Israel, Hebrews.

James 1:1

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. [Emphasis added]

There are many passages in Paul’s writings that tell us works are in no way demanded of us to gain our salvation. You may want to go to some of my other articles on this website where I discuss all this in detail.  Here are the names of two of them.

Works:  How important are they?

Works:  What about verses that seem to demand them for salvation?

It is faith alone in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that secures immediate and permanent salvation today.  It is this gospel message that a person is to believe in our time for salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

This gospel message is nowhere found in any of the thirteen chapters of Hebrews.  That means that if someone wants to get saved today, they won’t find a clear statement about it anywhere in Hebrews.

The main reasons to reject Pauline authorship of Hebrews is the fact that, unlike all his writings, he does not identify himself as its author. He plainly tells us that he identified himself as the author of ALL his epistles.

2 Thessalonians 3:17

17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. [Emphasis added]

Here’s one of thirteen examples of this.  He always identified himself as the author of his epistles.

Romans 1:1

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, [Emphasis added]

You’ll find something similar in all his other epistles.  Hebrews does not have this.

Hebrews 1:1

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

Still another reason we know this book was not written by Paul is the fact that it speaks with emphasis on the world to come, that is, the Millennial Kingdom that was promised to Israel, not us.  It is the Rapture and the “blessed hope” of Heaven that’s our greatest source of comfort in times of suffering, not a new Earth.

Hebrews 2:5

5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. [Emphasis added]

This is speaking of the true “new world order” that GOD will provide, not a bunch of politicians.  It should be clear to everyone that Paul did not write this.  The focus of Hebrews is tied to the Second Coming and all else that’ll be provided in that coming day for regenerate Israel.

Hebrews 10:25-27

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Yes, this approaching “day” he speaks of is the second coming and what will follow it, not the Rapture.

26 For if we sin wilfully [rejecting God’s provision] after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. [Emphasis added]

This “fiery indignation” of God also speaks of Christ’s second coming at the end of the period called The Tribulation where fire will consume the whole Earth before God restores it.

2 Peter 3:10

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. [Emphasis added]

By the time all this occurs we, as members of the Body of Christ, won’t be here.  We’ll already be enjoying all the blessings of our new home in Heaven.


We have by Paul a clear statement about his work as an author.  He clearly tells us that he signed all his writings.

2 Thessalonians 3:17

17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. [Emphasis added]

It would appear that we know far more about who didn’t write Hebrews than who did.  Outside of this statement we also know it wasn’t Paul because of the differences in doctrine.  Nothing is said in this book about some of Paul’s most important teachings—

Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s work alone [Ephesians 2:8-9], personal works having no part in the matter at all.

The “one baptism” of the Spirit [Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13] of our time that unites Jews and Gentiles into one body of believers with no racial distinction between them at all.

The sealing of the Spirit [Ephesians 1:13; 4:30] that guarantees the everlasting security of our salvation.

The universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9] where every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit the moment they are saved.

The “blessed hope” of the Rapture [Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:17] when we’re taken up to meet the Lord in the air.

Timothy is also one who can be eliminated from the possibilities of authorship because of what its author says at the end of his writing.

Hebrews 13:23

23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. [Emphasis added]

We also know it wasn’t any of the Twelve Apostles who wrote it.

Hebrews 2:3

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; [Emphasis added]

We could speculate about who wrote Hebrews forever.  But, again, the bottom line to it all is that if we really needed to know the identity of the author, that information would be clearly given.  However, the one very important thing about this study is for us not to realize that we’re not to allow certain teachings given in this book or any other non-Pauline writing to conflict with ours that are provided through the apostle Paul who is clearly said to be our apostle.  The books of Hebrews to Revelation will all have special use for believers in the coming time of the seven-year Tribulation leading up to Christ’s return to establish His earthly prophesied kingdom.

Paul didn’t make his statement about his role as our apostle to brag, but to inform us of what God was doing through him as the one being our apostle.

Again, Romans 11:13

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]

Again, Galatians 2:8

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) [Emphasis added]

It is actually a threat to our understanding of the Bible to believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews.  It is by doing such that has created so much of the confusion and resultant division of today.  We are not to confuse God’s work with Israel with His work with us today as members of the church which is the Body of Christ.  Such activity destroys the clarity of Scripture rightly divided.  It is best to simply acknowledge that Hebrews is a Jewish book about the people and nation of Israel—the Hebrews.  That writing is not about the Church which is the Body of Christ.  Mingling the messages of these is a work of Satan to blind people to the distinctives of this present Dispensation of the Grace of God.  The existence of Denominationalism provides clear evidence that he’s been quite successful.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [Emphasis added]

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