Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who Wrote the book of Hebrews?

I recently started studying the book of Hebrews again. I conduct a weekly Bible study at a local nursing home and I just enjoy sharing what I’ve studied and learned. I often tell the residents there, that every time I study, God reveals more-He gives me more understanding. Some of the things that I’ve learned many years ago, I no longer believe-either because someone showed me the error in my thinking or God revealed it to me directly.  

One of the first things you will notice about the book of Hebrews, is that the author doesn’t identify himself. So I decided that I was going to try to figure out who it was.  

 

The writer of Hebrews says that the gospel message was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  

how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him (Heb. 2:3). 

But the Apostle (apostolos: messenger or one sent) Paul said that he received the gospel directly from the Lord by revelation, not by others. Paul was one of those who delivered (paredōka) or passed on the gospel to others. 

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (1 Cor. 11:23)

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— (Gal. 1:1)

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12) 

Paul was called to preach among the Gentiles, but in his writings he didn’t distinguish between Jew or Gentile, rather he wrote to the saints. Again he didn’t consult or receive it from another person but by revelation, as we just read. 

to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus (Gal.1:16-17). 

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:7 KJV). 

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). 

 

Today I’ll make the case for Silas as the author of the book, although in the book itself, the author does not identify himself.  

1) Silas was a respected leader among the believers in the Jerusalem church. 

Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers (Acts 15:22). 

2) Silas was a prophet sent to Antioch to encourage new believers. 

Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers (Acts 15:32).

3) The book of Hebrews is written to the nation of Israel (notice God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets-God spoke only to Israel through the prophets). The book may have been written in Hebrew. Silas was a leader in Jerusalem and would have been able to communicate effectively in the Hebrew language.  

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (Heb. 1:1) 

4) NAS Exhaustive Concordance says the name Silas is of Aramaic origin. Silas probably spoke that language as well. So if Hebrews was originally written in Aramaic, there’s a good chance that Silas would have been able to communicate in that language.  

5) He was Paul’s traveling companion and helped share the gospel. He was flogged and put in prison with Paul. 

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:22-25). 

Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women (Acts 17:4). 

Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible (Acts 17:15). 

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 18:5). 

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes” (2 Cor. 1:19). 

4) Silas may have helped write First and Second Thessalonians and First Peter. 

Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you (1 Thes. 1:1).

Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thes. 1:1) 

With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it (1 Peter 5:12). 

5) Silas was a Roman citizen and Hebrews was written from Italy. 

The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed (Acts 16:38). 

Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings (Heb. 13:24).  

6) Paul and Silas and or Paul, Silas and Timothy were referenced by Paul often in the New Testament, as we have just read. Here the author mentions Timothy as brother and this statement would most likely appear to have been made by Paul or Silas, based on the amount of time they spent traveling together. Since it appears that Paul is excluded from writing Hebrews based on the opening statements I made earlier in this blog, that leaves only Silas to have written the book. 

I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you (Heb. 13:23). 

 

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide (my emphasis in italics).

 

2 comments:

  1. Excellent, and I fully agree with your assessment. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks anonymous. Some day I hope to get an answer for the many unanswered questions that I have.

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