Hebrews (!)

By Charles H. Welch

(A) Its author.

Paul wrote at least one epistle to the "Dispersion", for Peter says so (2 Pet. 3:15), but that of course does not prove that the epistle to the Hebrews is referred to by Peter, nor does it prove that Paul wrote it. It only assures us that even though he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, he did write at least one epistle to believers of the Jewish race. His own vehement love manifested in Romans 9:1-5 would also make it very likely that he would write to them as well as pray for them as he did. It has been objected that the style and the vocabulary of Hebrews is unlike that of Paul's other epistles, but that can be accounted for both from the nature of the subject, and the great amount of the O.T. that is quoted and referred to. There are one or two features that link Hebrews with Paul's other epistles which we will set out before going on to the study of the epistle itself.

If Hebrews be written by Paul then he is the only writer in the N.T. to quote from Habakkuk two "The just shall live by his faith". In Romans the stress is laid upon the word "just" (Rom. 1:16,17). In Galatians the stress is laid upon "faith" (Gal. 3:11). In Hebrews the stress is laid upon "live" (Heb. 10:38). No other writer in the N.T. uses Psalm eight in the way that Paul and the author of the Hebrews does. Notice the peculiar way in which Paul seizes upon the universality of the subjection when the end comes, "It is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him" (1 Cor. 15:27), and with this compare the peculiar argument of Hebrews two, "For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him" (Heb. 2:8). Surely the same mind is revealed at work in both of these references to Psalm eight. The only other reference is that of Ephesians 1 :22, where the theme is the ascended and seated Christ, Head over all things to the church. Here there are two O.T. passages, handled in a way that suggests a common author.

The way in which a writer quotes Scripture will often prove a guide, and there is one passage, Deuteronomy 32:35, that will link the epistle to the Hebrews with the epistles of Paul, by its very peculiar mode of quoting the words "to Me belongeth vengeance and recompense" (Deut. 32:35). Had Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30 contained a literal quotation of the LXX, it would have proved nothing as to common authorship, but if both passages depart from the LXX, and in the same particulars, a very strong case is made out. Here is the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:35:

En hemera ekdikeseos antapodoso
"In day of vengeance I will recompense."

Here are the two quotations:

"For it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom. 12:19).

"For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, 1 will recompense, saith the Lord" (Heb. 10:30).

The reader may demur, and object that the two passages are not exactly the same. In this way they are cheated by the English translators. Here is the Greek of Romans 12:19:

Emoi ekdikesis, ego antapodsoo, legei kurios.

It would be waste of print to repeat this line again as of Hebrews 10:30, for the wording in both places is the same to the letter. If this is not pro of of common authorship, what is? We now drawattention to the way in which certain words are used by Paul and which are used in the same connexions in Hebrews.

  • Agon, a word borrowed from the Greek games, and translated "conflict", "contention" , "fight" (Phil. 1:30, Col. 2:1, 1 Thess. 2:2, 1 Tim. 6:12 and 2 Tim. 4:7). The only other occurrence is Hebrews 12:1, "the race that is set before us".
  • Athlesis, athleo, sunathleo, are similarly borrowed from the games (Heb. 10:32, Phil. 1:27, 2 Tim. 2:5). In addition it should be noted that in 1 Corinthians 4:9 Paul uses the word theatron, "spectacle", and in Hebrews 10:33 theatrizomenoi, "gazing stock", which reveal the same shrinking and sensitive mind.
  • Apekdechomai. This word does not occur anywhere else except in Paul's undoubted epistles, and Hebrews. It means always expectation in connexion with the second coming of the Lord (Heb. 9:28, 1 Cor. 1:7, Phil. 3:20).
  • Douleia, "bondage", occurs only in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Bondage of corruption, bondage of the fear of death, are associated ideas.
  • Intercession (entugchano) (Rom. 8:27, Heb, 7:25).

The reader will find other examples, but we pass on to other "proofs".

The writer of Hebrew speaks of our brother Timothy (Heb. 13:23). In the opening of 2 Corinthians and of Colossians, Timothy is called "our brother", while the idea that Timothy would "come" and that "shortly" is found in 1 Corinthians 16:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:6 and Philippians 2:19,24. Timothy, by reason of his parentage, had been circumcised and would be accepted by the Hebrew Christians. These are but a few, selected from a mass of parallels accumulated, tabulated, analysed, and commented on in a book of 670 pages, by Forster, on Hebrews, a book literally crammed full of evidence for the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Our space however is exceedingly limited and so we pass on to another proof of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. It is often said that Paul's name does not occur in the epistle. That is so, but his sign manual is there for all to see.

Owing to a deception that had been practised upon the church by someone sending an epistle purporting to have come from Paul, he drew attention to the fact that he wrote "like this" where not only the handwriting itself is referred to, a proof in itself, and one accepted today in banks, wills, leases, contracts, judgments, marriages, births and deaths, but also that he adopted a certain phrase, which added to the proof of his identity. "The salutation of Paul WITH MINE OWN HAND." In the article entitled GALATlANS we have discussed this particular matter, and this article should be referred to.

"Which is the TOKEN in EVERY epistle: so I write." Something therefore Paul assured the reader he would write, and that he would write it in every epistle. This of necessity would also demand Divine supervision to prevent anyone else using the same terms at the close of an epistle-otherwise the object would be defeated. "So I write" (2 Thess. 3:17). Then follows, in the handwriting of Paul himself, the words "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (2 Thess. 3:18). Now if each of the thirteen epistles that bear the name ofPaul be examined, it will be found that each has a benediction which uses the phrase "Grace . . . with you" in a variety of ways.

2 Corinthians concludes with the longest and fullest of these benedictions, and Titus ends with one of the shortest, "Grace be with you all. Amen" (Tit. 3:15). It is with these identical words that the epistle to the Hebrews closes. Shall we not therefore be compelled to accept this "sign-manual" of the Apostle, and maintain that Paul was the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews? This is the one anonymous epistle of the twenty-one that are found in the N.T. Why should the writer of any epistle suppress his identity? When we remember the deep prejudice of the Jew, and of the Jewish Christians, and Paul's sensitiveness concerning them, and that he should give none offence, neither to Jew, Gentile nor church of God, and that he was not sent as an Apostle to them, can we supply any adequate reason to account for the withholding of the writer's name. Sufficient, we trust, has been said on this head. Those who are not convinced will probably remain unconvinced though we wrote a volume.

We turn now to another feature, the result of a comparison made between the distinctive teaching of Hebrews with that of Ephesians.

(B) Hebrews and Ephesians compared.

In The Berean Expositor, Volumes xxxiv and xxxv, will be found a series entitled "Comparing spiritual things with spiritual". A series of comparisons between the epistles to the Hebrews and to the Ephesians in relation to their respective spheres and callings. We cannot afford the space to reprint this series, but following the lead given by the Apostle in Hebrews 8:1, we do give the "sum" of the things we discovered and set out in those articles.

  • Comparison No. 1. Ephesians, like the bulk of Paul's epistles, contains in its salutation the name "Paul", and his apostolic office. This indicates that he writes with full apostolic authority. It is not called a "word of exhortation" which the readers are called upon "to suffer" as in Hebrews, but is the revelation of a secret portion of the Divine plan presented to their faith by an accredited apostle. The absence of the name and office of Paul from Hebrews indicates that he was writing in a private capacity to those whose calling and sphere did not fall within the dispensation granted to him. This in no sense alters its inspiration, but it does call upon all who read it to exercise discrimination, lest they confound things that differ.

  • Comparison No. 2. Ephesians is most definitely and exclusively addressed to "Gentiles" . This word never appears in Hebrews, which uses instead, the words "the fathers" and "the people", neither of which finds a place in the epistle to the Ephesians, nor do these terms pertain to the dispensation of the grace of God entrusted to Paul the prisoner "for you Gentiles" .

  • Comparison No. 3. Hebrews is full of references to "angels": Ephesians does not once mention them but stresses the exaltation of the Lord above "principalities", a term not found in Hebrews. Yet both epistles quote Psalm eight, in reference to the Lord's exaltation, speaking, in Hebrews, of the Lord's relation to angels, and, in Ephesians of His relation to principalities and powers, two different spheres in glory being thus indicated.

  • Comparison No. 4. While both Ephesians and Hebrews quote Psalm eight, the epistle to the Hebrews leaves us in no doubt that it speaks of the "habitable world to come" (oikoumene), whereas the context of the quotation of Psalm eight in Ephesians goes beyond the habitable world, beyond the present heavens to that place which is described as far above all principality and power, and speaks of Christ as "Head" and His church as "the body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all".

  • Comparison No. 5. Redemption by blood is found both in Ephesians and Hebrews; so also is the forgiveness of sins, but in Hebrews this redemption and forgiveness is associated with the old and new covenants. So also "access" in Hebrews is related to the new covenant and a different Greek word from that used in Ephesians is employed. The Ephesian saints had been "made nigh" whereas the Hebrews are exhorted to "draw near".

  • Comparison No. 6. Both in Hebrews and in Ephesians the outstanding position of Christ is "seated at the right hand of God", but in Hebrews, He is seen seated there as "the High Priest" whereas in Ephesians He is seated there as "The Head". In Ephesians, the believer is looked upon as being seated with Him, in Hebrews He is there alone. In the whole of Paul's thirteen epistles there is not a single reference either to a priest or to a high priest, yet, without these offices, the teaching of Hebrews could not proceed. An examination of the Scriptures written prior to the law of Sinai, reveals that sacrifices were offered, not by a priest, but by the head of a family or tribe. Priesthood is thus linked with Israel, but the Gentile calling of Ephesians is linked with Christ as Head.

  • Comparison No. 7. The word diatheke, "covenant", lies at the heart of Hebrews. No covenant, old or new, enters into the teaching of Ephesians. The "seated Priest" of Hebrews is the Mediator of the new covenant, but this is entirely foreign to the calling or dispensation of Ephesians. In the place occupied by the new covenant in Hebrews, Ephesians places "The Mystery".

  • Comparison No. 8. The hope of both epistles, when examined and compared, reveals the same associations that have marked all the preceding studies. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."

(C) Hebrews and Philippians compared.

The preceding comparison is negative in character, but the present reveals that the purpose with which Hebrews was written is similar to the purpose of Philippians. The dispensation in which the two epistles work are different, but their teaching is parallel. Both urge the believer to '',go on unto perfection" whatever that perfection may mean in either case, and both warn about drawing back "unto perdition" whatever that perdition may prove to be. In both a race and a prize is in view, even though the prize be different and the sphere of enjoyment different.



Things accompanying salvation
Work out salvation
Heavenly city
11:10; 12,22
Citizenship in heaven
11:26; 13:13
Fellowship of sufferings
10:35, 11:26
The race set before us
I press toward the mark
Leaving. . . let us go on
Forgetting things behind
Obtain a better resurrection (Condition attached)
Attain unto an out-resurrection (Condition attached)
Power of His resurrection
Power of His resurrection
Work in . . . His will
Work in . . . His will
Christ the Image
Christ the Form
Angels worship Him
Every knee bow
Thou Lord, in beginning
Jesus Christ is Lord
A little lower than angels
No reputation . . . He humbled Himself
Cross endured for the joy and used as example
Cross suffered . . . wherefore exalted . . . Let this mind be in you
Crucify to themselves afresh
Enemies of the Cross of Christ


(6:1, 10:39)



Fight of afflictions (athlesis)
Strive together (sunathleo)
Discernment . . . differ
Look diligently lest. . . Esau
Mark them that walk
For one morsel of meat sold his birthright
Whose God is their belly
That generation - tempted God in the wilderness
Perverse generation . . . do . . . without murmurings
Be content with such as ye have
Whatsoever state content
With such sacrifices well pleased
Sacrifice. . . sweet smell, well pleasing
Fruit of righteousness
Fruit of righteousness
Compassion in bonds
Partaker in bonds
Whose faith follow (mimsomai)
Be followers together of me (summimetes)
Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods
Let your moderation be known unto all men
You have in heaven an enduring substance (huparchonta)
Our citizenship is in heaven (huparcho)
Salutation from Italy
Salutation from Caesar's household
Paul's sign manual
13 :25
Paul's sign manual

(D) The epistle to the Hebrews as a whole.

A 1-2 THE WORD SPOKEN Thou remainest
Thou art the same
How escape if neglect?
Bring in again the first begotten
     B 3-6 ON TO PERFECTION Let us co me boldly
Example of unbelief
Perfect v. babes
No renewal unto repentance
Senses exercised
Crucify afresh the Son
          C 7-10:18 PERFECTION
                            WHERE FOUND
But this Man
No perfection in priesthood
No perfection in law
No perfection in ordinances
No perfection in sacrifices
But this Man
     B 10:19-12:25 BACK TO
Let us draw near
Examples of faith
Sons v. firstborn
Found no place for repentance
Discipline exercised
Trod under foot the Son
A 12:25-13 HIM THAT SPEAKETH Things that remain
Jesus Christ the same
Not escape if refuse
Brought again from the dead.

(E) A special feature of Hebrews eleven exhibited.

The witnesses cited by the Apostle in this chapter fall into two groups of seven, the whole fourteen making a series of seven pairs, related to each other by a common theme. Shorn of all detail, it can be set out thus:

ABEL (11:4)
"Being dead yet speaketh"
ENOCH (11:5)
"Translated. . . not see death"
NOAH (11:7)
"Became heir of righteousness"
ABRAHAM (11:8)
"A place . . . for an inheritance"
ISAAC (11:9)
"Sojourned in a strange country"
JACOB (11:9)
"Dwelling in tents"
SARAH (11:11)
"As good as dead"
ABRAHAM (11:19)
"Able to raise him up"
(A woman, Sarah, completes the first series of seven, a break coming at verse 13.)
ISAAC (11:20)
"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau
JACOB (11:21)
"By faith Jacob blessed both sons"
JOSEPH (11:22)
"Gave commandment concerning his bones"
MOSES (11:27)
"By faith forsook Egypt"
ISRAEL (11:28)
"He that destroyed the firstborn"
RAHAB (11:31)
"Rahab perished not"
(A woman, Rahab, completes the second series of seven, verses 32-40, generalizes the rest.)

Even the names brought together, when Paul says "the time would fail me to tell", are seven, and their exploits are given as follows:

A Heb. 11:33-35 Eleven positive acts of faith
      B Heb. 11:35       The BETTER Resurrection
A Heb. 11:36-39 Eleven negative acts of faith
      B Heb. 11:40       The BETTER thing.

The historical background of this epistle is the period of temptation in the wilderness (Heb. 3 and 4), and it must be remembered that "Jesus" of Hebrews 4:8 is not the Lord, but the Greek spelling of Joshua.

"Leaving. . . let us go on" (Heb. 6:1,2).

As Hebrews 6: 1,2 is of importance dispensationally, we give the following somewhat extended analysis. Whatever view we may entertain as to what constitutes "the principles of the doctrine of Christ", one thing is certain and beyond controversy that Hebrews 6:1 bids us LEAVE THEM:

"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection" (Heb. 6:1).

Whatever view we may entertain as to these "principles", this verse not only says "leave them", but sets over against them "perfection" .

"Therefore LEAVING . . . Let us GO ON."

Yet again, whatever place in the doctrine of Christ we may give

"Repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and aionian judgment"

the same verse says "not laying again the foundation". Leaving for the moment the question of the exactness of this translation, we feel that no system of sound exegesis can ignore the obvious relation established in this verse between the commands "Leave . . . go on . . . not lay again". "Leave" is echoed by "not lay again", and by parity of reasoning and structural correspondence "the principles of the doctrine of Christ" are echoed by the six items of doctrine mentioned in verses land 2. It must strike the ordinary reader as somewhat strange to be urged by Scripture itself to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and therefore it becomes us patiently to search the Scriptures to find the mind of God on the subject.

Casting our eye back to chapter five we find that these Hebrews who for the time ought to have been teachers were so dull of hearing that they needed to be taught again certain rudiments of the beginning of the oracles of God. The word "principles" in Hebrews 6:1 is this same word "beginning" . The word "doctrine" is the ordinary logos, very like logion ("oracles") in 5:12. So that the theme of Hebrews 5:12 is resumed in 6:1: "Therefore leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us go on unto perfection." Let us return to Hebrews five. These believers who needed re-instruction in the rudiments were "babes", and are set in direct contrast with "full grown" or "perfect" (teleios); this is parallel with the thought of Hebrews 6:1, which says "let us go on unto teleiotes". We are told not to forsake PRINCIPLES, but leave rudiments, babyhood, beginnings.

Not laying again a foundation.-Most readers know that we translate the words "before the foundation of the world" by "before the overthrow of the world". Evidence has been given of the usage of kataballo and katabole in the LXX and the N.T. and the new rendering appears abundantly justified. The word "laying" in Hebrews 6:1 is kataballesthai, and has been translated by Erhard, among others, "not demolishing". Bloomfield's note here is:

" 'Not demolishing' is forbidden by the usus loquendi, for I cannot find a single example of the Middle form in the sense 'to demolish' but only in the sense of jacere, 'to lay down', whether in literal or figurative sense."

While therefore leaving the new translation of Ephesians 1:4 unimpaired, we allow this Middle form of the verb its meaning as in the A.V., "not laying again". Following the word "baptisms" in verse two is the word "of instruction" (doctrine) which is somewhat peculiar. We might have felt that didache could as weIl be prefixed to repentance or faith. There must therefore be some reason not quite visible on the surf ace, and it appears to be this. Before a believer could be accepted for baptism and the laying on of hands, he must have already accepted these four words of the beginning of Christ:

(1). Repentance from dead works.

(2). Faith toward God.

(3). Resurrection of the dead.

(4). Aionian judgment.

Although this explanation is not devoid of difficulties, no explanation offered is entirely free from them, and an open mind is necessary that we may be ready to follow the light as the Lord shall give it.

Repentance from dead works.-Repentance is a foundation truth. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9 it is suggested in the words, "how ye turned to God from idols." It is manifest that it is not to be contemplated that this act of turning or repentance was to be repeated. Turning from idols and repentance from dead works, alike were marks of a great and vital change. To need a repetition would indicate a most serious lapse. Similarly with the balancing doctrine of -

FAITH TOWARD GOD. - In Acts 20:21 the Apostle sums up his testimony in the words:

"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

Repentance from, and faith toward, are two views of one movement, much in the same way as "turned to God from idols" contains the negative and positive aspects of the same action.

The Doctrine of Baptisms and of Laying on of Hands.- This pair has reference to ordinances and recognition in the church. It will be observed that the word is "baptisms", not "baptism". Reference is made again to these "baptisms" in Hebrews nine. The context of the occurrence is a valuable commentary upon Hebrews 6:2 and we must therefore give it. The chapter opens with a description of the tabernacle and its furniture, going on to distinguish between the daily service of the priests and the annual ministry of the High Priest alone:

"The Holy Spirit shewing this, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was standing (which was a figurative representation for that season which was present) according to which both gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not make him that did the service PERFECT, as pertaining to the conscience, being imposed (as to meats and drinks and divers BAPTISMS, fleshly ordinances) until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more PERFECT tabernacle . . ." (Heb. 9:1-11).

Here we see the place of these "baptisms"; they were fleshly or typical ordinances, and while they may have some place in the education of babes, and had a place in the church of the Acts period, they had no place with those who sought to go on unto perfection. See BAPTISM.

The Laying on of Hands was the means used to bestow spiritual gifts. One has only to be familiar with the teaching of 1 Corinthians to understand that the possession of these miraculous gifts was not one of the marks of the "perfect" (see 1 Cor. 12, 13, 14). To rest in them would be to fail. The third pair is eschatological.

The Resurrection of the Dead.-Some things like "baptisms" have to be left behind in the sense of being undispensational, others, like repentance and faith, because they are elemental and do not bear the idea of continual repetition. Others, like resurrection, are fundamental, and to be under the necessity for continual proof and instruction on such a point argued no good for the doubter. The further teaching of Hebrews 11 :35 and 40, where a "BETTER resurrection" is linked with being "made PERFECT", naturally assumes as fundamental the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

Aionian Judgment (Din Olamim) is the eleventh fundamental of the Jewish creed. The student of Ecclesiastes will the more clearly see the fundamental nature of this truth. It involves both reward and punishment. It is the basis upon which alone the Apostle could urge believers to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and to follow in the steps of those who obtained a good report, who in this life were losers, but who believed unto the "GAINING OF THE SOUL" (10:39).

Such is the foundation. There was something more needed for the "perfect", however, than a bare foundation. 1 Corinthians three is a commentary upon that fact. To have the foundation beneath one's feet means salvation, but to have nothing more means salvation "so as by fire". The reader has only to glance along to Hebrews 6:8 to see the parallel. None such have gone on unto perfection. Perfection is the goal of the epistle and every item introduced is a factor in the process.

"Leaving . . . let us go on . . . not laying again . . . and this we will do if God permit" (Heb. 6:1-3).

It is manifest that no apostle could urge the believer to leave "the principles of the doctrine of Christ" for alas this would be simple apostasy. The A.V. margin gives the true meaning "The word of the beginning of Christ", referred to in Hebrews 5:12 and likened to the food of babes, and contrasted with the solid food of those who were "full grown" and "perfect". See BABES. Those who would appreciate an exposition of the whole epistle to the Hebrews will find it in the current issues of The Berean Expositor 1955-6.

For the structure of Hebrews twelve, see the article entitled JERUSALEM.

An Alphabetical Analysis

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