The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the most beautiful ones of the NT. The Lord Jesus occupies the central place in it. At the same time this epistle is also one of the most difficult ones. To rightly understand this epistle one needs a thorough knowledge of the Jewish divine service in the Old Testament.

The epistle starts off as a written sermon and closes in the form of an epistle. Neither author nor addressee is mentioned in it.

The title “to the Hebrews” only appears in the 2nd century with Clemens of Alexandria (around 150 – 215 AC). As there is no other name known for the epistle it probably goes back to a very old tradition. But who were these Hebrews, and where did they live?

“Hebrews” is a name for the Israelites and for the descendants of Abraham (compare Genesis 14:13; Philippians 3:5). And yet the epistle cannot have received its name for the fact only that there are so many references to the OT in it.

The addressees must not only have been very familiar with the OT but they are also frequently addressed as originating from the people of Israel. To this fact such expressions as “the fathers”, “the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1), “the elders” (Hebrews 11:2) would point. Also the mention of Moses, Joshua and Aaron, who all belonged to the chosen people of God, confirm the same.

The author of the epistle does not mention his name. Many a supposition has been made as to who the author might have been: Paul, Luke, Barnabas (so says Tertullian), Apollos (so says Martin Luther), Silas or even Aquila and Priscilla have been suggested.

As a matter of fact the author of the epistle remains unknown. The Holy Spirit who inspired this epistle deliberately wanted to introduce the Lord Jesus only as apostle and high priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1). The church father Origines (around 185 to 254 AC) appropriately wrote: Only God knows in truth who the author is.

Rregarding the time of writing the opinions of the scientists differ as much as they do in respect to the authorship of the epistle. It is certain though that a writing of Clemens of Rome (around 95 AC) shows many references from the epistle to the Hebrews.



In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1‭-‬4 RSV

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