The Book of Hebrews
Who wrote the book of Hebrews?
In chapter 7, I pointed out that many scholars believe the book of Hebrews was not written by Paul. In spite of the fact that the message of Hebrews is somewhat similar to that of Paul's doctrine in that the Law has supposedly been done away with, I agree for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike every other letter written by Paul, the author of Hebrews does not identify himself. Second, the author's grasp of the Greek language is superior to Paul's... the author of Hebrews is more eloquent and poetic in style. Third, Paul's thought-lines tend to run off on tangents. The author of Hebrews follows a systematic line of reason from start to finish. And four, Paul's style is to continually refer to himself with the use of personal pronouns like "I", "me", "my", and "mine". The author of the book of Hebrews refers to himself only 7 times in the entire book. In Romans, and 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses 103, 175 and 103 personal pronouns per letter respectively.
Of the possible candidates for the authorship of Hebrews, there are two possibilities. They are Barnabas, and Apollos. Many scholars believe Barnabas was the author, and this is based solely on the testimony of Tertullian around 207 A.D. Then, some 20 years later, Origen claimed the author was anonymous! I personally tend to think Apollos is the most likely author of Hebrews for several reasons. Apollos was a leader in the early Christian church and he is mentioned ten times in the NT. Twice in the book of Acts, and eight times by Paul himself. We are first introduced to him in Acts.
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord... Acts 18:24
Bear in mind the commentary that Apollos "taught accurately", comes from Luke's point of view. But this description of Apollos would fit the author of Hebrews like a glove. Paul also speaks of Apollos as a prominent leader with a significant following. His name is mentioned right along with himself, Peter, and Yeshua.
Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." 1Corinthians 1:12
Note the order of the names. It is interesting to notice that this order would fit the flow of differences in doctrine as well. Apollos is the closest to Paul who names himself first. Paul undoubtedly thinks highly of Apollos because Apollos generally agrees with his doctrine. We know that Apollos was influenced by Paul through Aquila and Priscilla ,who themselves spent much time with Paul and later, "explained the way of God more accurately" to Apollos. Acts 18:18-28
If Apollos was the author of
Hebrews, it would also make perfect sense why he didn't identify himself as the
author. Since the letter was written to the Hebrew people, it would be
counterproductive to identify himself by name, because the Jews made so much of a person's name. A
name was expected to indicate something about a person. Apollos was born in Alexandria Egypt and named after the pagan god
Apollo... the son of Zeus! A book written by someone named "Apollos" would
have three strikes against it right from the start in the eyes of most Hebrew people.
Is Hebrews better than Paul's letters?
It makes little difference who wrote the book of Hebrews. It is the subject matter and doctrine of the book that is at issue. We now know that Paul was a false apostle and his words are far from being the infallible word of God. But if Paul did not write the book of Hebrews, the question arises, is it any better? Since Hebrews is a favorite among many Christians, this question must be addressed. There might be a few who would be willing to go on a limb and question Paul... as long as they can hang on to Hebrews.
Two things that need to be analyzed in Hebrews are, the personal style with which the author paints his
picture, and the actual subject matter and doctrine of the book. First, the style of thought.
The style of thought
Whether it was written by Apollos or not, the author of the book of Hebrews was unquestionably steeped in Hellenistic philosophical thought styles. As mentioned in chapter 5, early in the first century, there was another Jewish scholar... a prolific writer and expositor of the Hebrew Bible known as Philo Judaeus of Alexandria. Interestingly enough, Alexandria Egypt is the same place Apollos was born! Alexandria was a Mecca for those of Platonic philosophical studies, complete with one of the ancient world's most exhaustive libraries. The style of Philo's writings are remarkably similar to some of those found in the book of Hebrews. In the foreword of C.D. Yonge's translation of Philo's works, David M. Scholer makes these observations:
Philo has also often been considered especially significant for the conceptual background of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It seems clear that there is no evidence that the author of Hebrews had read Philo and that the author utilizes a whole range of Jewish traditions, some of which have remarkable similarities to the writings of Qumran and the writings of Philo. As the recent commentator on Hebrews Harold W. Attridge, observes: "...there are undeniable parallels that suggest that Philo and our author (of Hebrews) are indebted to similar traditions of Greek-speaking and -thinking Judaism". One passage in Hebrews illustrates the possible connections between the thought worlds of Philo and the author of Hebrews. In Hebrews 8:5 the author argues: "They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one". The distinction between a "Heavenly reality" and the observable, phenomenal world as "Sketch and shadow" is a (Middle) Platonic idea, but bears much in common with Philo's expressions of these ideas.
As a person reads the book of Hebrews it quickly becomes evident that the author views historical events as sketches, shadows, and figures of things that were to come. This way of viewing history is so predominant in Hebrews that it has taken on a philosophical life of its own in the mind of the author. So strong is this view, that the historical events themselves begin to lose relevance concerning the actual people of history to whom the events occurred! History becomes viewed as having the sole purpose of teaching through allegory the only people who really mattered... themselves. Largely due to the book of Hebrews, this allegorical way of viewing history continues to be alive and well in many corners of Christianity today.
The next thing that becomes
painfully obvious as one takes an overview of the book of Hebrews is that there
is no literal physical or earthly interpretation to any prophecies in the Hebrew
Scriptures. None! This is especially true concerning the many prophecies of the
age. It is very important to note the fact that the writer of Hebrews makes absolutely
no mention of a Messianic age to come. All prophecies are given a past-tense
fulfilled, heavenly interpretation. There is a reason for this. From here,
we now get into the subject matter of the book of Hebrews.
The subject matter/doctrine of Hebrews
Throughout all of Jewish history, believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have eagerly looked for the promised Messiah to bring the peace on earth that God had promised. But the early Messianics had a problem. Yeshua, the one who they believed to be the Messiah, was gone. And to add insult to injury, there was certainly no peace on earth. This sad fact was finally driven home and all hope lost in the year 70 when Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. For a number of reasons, many scholars believe Hebrews was written some time after the destruction of the temple around 80-85. One obvious reason being that the author is strangely silent concerning the second temple. Up until the destruction of the temple, most Messianics believed Yeshua would return in their lifetime to set up the kingdom of God and begin fulfilling the remaining Messianic prophecies that were yet unfulfilled. These prophecies clearly indicated that temple worship, as well as the offering of burnt sacrifices, continue to be performed during that time.
After the destruction of the temple, the Messianics were left with only two ways to answer the problem if they were to continue believing Yeshua was the Messiah. Either Yeshua would return and rebuild the temple at some later date, or the Messianic prophecies were not meant to be fulfilled in a literal physical way on this earth. Also, for many there was one other pesky problem that needed to be answered. The question was, what did Yeshua's sacrifice accomplish in the way of fulfilling any future need for animal sacrifices! Many Greek Jews as well as Gentiles had an aversion to animal sacrifices to start with. This is where the book of Hebrews comes in. In short, the author rises to the occasion to answer these problems by reasoning that everything has been fulfilled in a heavenly sense by Yeshua's sacrifice.
So here is the dilemma. Has
fulfilled these prophecies in heaven, or will he literally physically return and
fulfill them here on earth in the future? The
author of Hebrews himself borrows from some of these well known Messianic
prophecies and gives them a new spin to promote his doctrine of a new-priesthood,
new-law, and new-covenant, all of which have supposedly
been inaugurated and fulfilled in heaven. Here is his logic.
Like Melchizedek… how?
In the 5th chapter of the book of Hebrews, the author uses a Messianic prophecy from Psalm 110 to begin comparing Yeshua to Melchizedek.
So also Christ did not glorify himself to become High Priest, but it was he who said to him: “You are My son, today I have begotten you.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”,… And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. Hebrews 5:5-6,9-11
Then in the 7th chapter, the author begins his new-priesthood argument by stating Yeshua is like Melchizedek in some rather strange and abstract ways. For instance, Yeshua and Melchizedek supposedly had neither genealogical record, nor beginning or end of days!
Melchizedek, king of
This certainly qualifies as “hard to explain”! The author is correct in determining from Psalm 110:1-4 that Messiah is like Melchizedek, but the connections he draws are bizarre and extremely weak arguments from silence. Does he seriously want us to believe that because we don’t have Melchizedek’s genealogical records, parent’s names, date of birth, or date of death written there in the book of Genesis for us… he had none?! This is the weakest form of argument there is. To illustrate: Maybe, because there is nothing said about Melchizedek being married or having any children, we must conclude he was celibate! (On the off-chance some might actually consider this a good argument, here is another example.) Maybe, because nothing is said about Melchizedek’s apparel, we must conclude he had none and was a nudist! Our author’s style of logic is just this non-sensical. How absurd is the notion that Melchizedek had no father or mother? If Yeshua is like Melchizedek, would it not be far better to compare him to Melchizedek on information we do have on him as opposed to information we don’t have on him?
Hebrews then continues with another similarly weak argument stating Yeshua was like Melchizedek in that Melchizedek was not of the tribe of Levi.
perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people
received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise
according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order
of Aaron?... …For He
of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has
officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from
There is one question that begs to be asked
here. If Yeshua is like Melchizedek in that he has no genealogical record, how
does the author know he is from the tribe of
Of particular interest, is that within this text, he wants us to believe it logically flows, since there has been a change in the priesthood, there must therefore also be a change of the Law.
“For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the Law.” Hebrews 7:12
Question: Where is this supposed fundamental truth written? Granting as hypothetical for a moment that the priesthood has indeed changed, we have to ask; why must the Law change if the priesthood changes? Is it the priests who determine the Law? Or is it God? If there were a new priesthood to serve the same God, reason would assume the new priests would continue to abide by the established Laws of that God. But if any priesthood old or new served a new god, then it would logically flow that a new god would dictate a new law. The author’s logic simply does not flow... yet it should be evident that this presupposition is fundamental to his ongoing argument. And again, all this is assuming his assertion that Yeshua is not of the tribe of Levi is correct in the first place. I will address this question in a moment.
Yeshua is indeed like Melchizedek as Psalm 110:1-4 prophesied, but he is like Melchizedek in ways based on information God has given us and we do have on him. Very little is said about him, but everything we need to know about Melchizedek can be found in one single verse. Genesis 14:18
There it is. He was king of
Yeshua: King and Priest in one
A King, who is also a Priest, has never
Here are some of God’s promises to David.
“My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David; His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Psalm 89:34-37
“For thus says
the Lord; David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the
“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt: and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.” Ezekiel 37:24-25
“He (Yeshua) will be great, and will be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:32-33
And here are some of God’s promises to the Levitical priesthood.
“And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute, So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.” Exodus 29:9
“You shall put the holy garments on Aaron, and anoint him and sanctify him, that he may minister to Me as priest. And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with tunics. You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister to Me as priests; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” Exodus 40:13-15
Then the Lord spoke
to Moses, saying; “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest,
has turned back My wrath from the children of
This is just the beginning of the story. Remember, God promised the Messiah would be both king and priest like Melchizedek in Psalm 110:4. God also spoke through other prophets on numerous occasions that He would indeed bring both offices into one in the Messiah.
“Behold, the days
are coming”, says the Lord, “that I will perform that good thing which I
have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah; In those days
and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of
righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In
“Behold, the man whose name is the BRANCH! From his place he shall branch out, and he shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne; So he shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (both offices) Zechariah 6:12-13
“For the children
“Then it shall be
the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and
drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the
appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the
grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement
for the house of
The author of Hebrews argues that because Yeshua is supposedly not from the tribe of Levi, there is therefore a change of priesthoods and subsequent change of the law. But God had said the Levites had and “everlasting” priesthood. The only way God could fulfill these promises He made to David and the Levites is if the Messiah was from both tribes. What our author obviously did not know is that Yeshua is exactly as God had prophesied the Messiah would be. Yeshua is descendant of both David and Levi! He is simply wrong on a number of levels. Both in the logic that a change of the priesthood demands a change of the law, and that there had been any change of the priesthood in the first place!
I have yet to find any place where all the
pieces of this puzzle have been put together by others. One can’t help but
wonder if part of the reason doesn’t stem from the understanding that if Yeshua
is in fact a descendant of Levi, the book of Hebrews would loose all
credibility. Keep in mind, Yeshua not being of Levi, is a fundamental
cornerstone of Hebrew’s doctrine.
Yeshua: Descendant of both David and Levi
In the book of Luke it is recorded that Yeshua’s mother Mary was a “cousin” (KJV) to
In Leviticus, God commanded that Levite men
were to marry only Levite women. (Leviticus 21:1,13-14, 22:12-13) Levite
women on the other hand were permitted to marry outside the tribe. We know that
Mary’s father Heli was a descendant of David of the tribe of
There is also another likelihood that makes
this even better. Since God
commanded the Levite men to marry only Levite women, it stands to reason the
genetic markers He recognizes as the Levitical priestly markers are passed down by
the mothers making the tribe matrilineal. These markers would be located
in what science today calls the mitochondria DNA. The genetic markers of the
other tribes were passed down by the fathers from the Y chromosome. It is also
a well established fact of science that the father’s genetic markers and the mother’s genetic
markers do not compete with each other during the process of recombination,
so neither of them is diluted by the other. This would mean that Mary, and
subsequently Yeshua, carried all the genetic markers of both
tribes! It stands to reason that
God intended for Levi’s genetic markers to be matrilineal for the very
purpose of being able to bring all of
The fact that Yeshua is indeed a descendant of the tribe of Levi, as God had promised the Messiah would be, is enough in itself to completely discredit the book of Hebrews. Hebrew's assertion that Yeshua was not of Levi is a fundamental premise of the author’s ongoing argument. There is no “new” priesthood. God had established the priesthood in Aaron’s descendants forever. Furthermore, since there is no “change of the Law” even if there were a new priesthood, how much more established is the fact that there is no “change of the Law” when there is no new priesthood? Nothing more really needs to be said concerning the credibility of the author of Hebrews! We should discard the book as a nice-try of purely human effort on this basis alone. But to further demonstrate the sad mistakenness of the author… consider his next argument.
The new covenant?
Again, the author of Hebrews has completely missed the fact that Yeshua will physically return and fulfill the remaining Messianic prophecies. This becomes painfully obvious in his on-going argument. Now he reasons that his new priesthood and new law fulfill the prophecies of a “new covenant”. Here, in chapter 8:8-12, he quotes the prophecy from Jeremiah. Please take special note of the fact that every time in the book of Jeremiah where God says, “Behold the days are coming”, He is speaking of the Messianic age yet to come. The actual prophecy reads;
days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the
house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the
covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand
to bring them out to the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke,
though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I
will make with the house of
Then after quoting this prophecy, the author of Hebrews makes this statement, from which comes the concept of an Old (obsolete) Testament.
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13
Our author has obviously come to another
very mistaken conclusion. He believes that God’s covenant with
But this is the
covenant that I will make with the house of
It is only after the author has blurred the
line between the Law and the covenant, making them one and the same, and then
drawn our attention to a new covenant, can he then make the leap of logic
inferring that when God said “My Law” in reference to a new covenant, He meant
“My new law”! This is obviously what he wants us to see here.
Remember, he has already said there has been a “change of the Law”. But God
did not say “My new law”. He is speaking of the same Law. The only
difference is, when the new covenant is finally inaugurated, this same
Law of Moses will be written on the hearts of the children of
Some might argue that Yeshua said the
“new covenant” was established in his blood, suggesting the new covenant
took effect at the cross. Yeshua’s sacrifices certainly paid the price for
the promised new covenant, but to assert that it was inaugurated at that time is
reading more into Yeshua’s words than what he said. The
prophecy from Jeremiah clearly indicates that the new covenant is with
Then he said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” …”Likewise he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for you.” Luke 22:15,16,20
Yeshua certainly paid the price for the new
covenant with his blood, but it will not be inaugurated or “fulfilled” until
he returns… and even then it will only be with
There are numerous other parallel prophecies
concerning the new covenant that prove God is speaking of His Law as given
through Moses. What I have highlighted in bold print below includes the same new
covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:33. Please read this quote one more time and
dare to compare it to the following yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies! Also, please notice that
these prophecies concern only
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… …this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My Law in their mind, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:31,33
“Although I have
cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among
the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where
they have gone. Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you
from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered,
and I will give you the
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 35:24-28
“David My servant
shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall
also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.
Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where
your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their
children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince
forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it
shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply
them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also
shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify
What more needs to be said? The new covenant
is without question the same Law, only God will cause
The book of Hebrews simply cannot be
reconciled with the picture that the prophets, the book of Revelation, and Yeshua
himself have given us of the Messianic age and the coming
Extortive threat tactics of the author of Hebrews
The author of Hebrews is also well known for making fearful warnings to those who do not get in line with his doctrine. Many Christians have spent sleepless nights worrying about the implications of certain passages in Hebrews. The most notable of them are these.
"Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it". Hebrews 4:1
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame". Hebrews 6:4-6
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His People'. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God". Hebrews 10:26-31
Concerning this last quote, if the author of Hebrews is
correct that Yeshua's crucifixion was the final, end-all-sacrifice to make atonement for sins, then
it might flow that there is no more sacrifice for a person who sins after coming
to repentance. But the author is far from
correct in his presupposition. This will be addressed in the next
So is Hebrews better? The answer is no! The book of Hebrews certainly is not the infallible word of God. Because it also attempts to do away with God's Law, if Hebrews is not the worst book in the Bible in the eyes of heaven, it's right on the heels of Paul's letters to the Galatians and Romans.
There are many other logistical problems with the lines of reason in the book of Hebrews. One could easily write another book on these errors in logic and philosophy alone. In the next chapter, we will look at the subject of burnt offerings. Much of the misunderstanding of this issue also comes from the book Hebrews. As this subject is addressed it will further establish the errors of Hebrews. The issues I have covered thus far in this chapter are the main presuppositions on which the remaining doctrines and arguments in the book are based. The remaining arguments fall under the weight of these errors.
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