If Paul wrote Hebrews why doesn’t his name appear in the introduction as in all his other epistles?
The authorship of the Hebrew epistle has been a vexed question for centuries. Many claim from the style of the Greek text that Paul could not be the writer, and some have even argued that the hand is that of a woman. However, there is sufficient evidence in the Bible itself to be certain that the epistle is Paul’s, and there are also sound reasons as to why his name should not appear in the introduction. Let us consider the authorship first.
The general content of the letter shows that those addressed are Jews and the writer asks “how shall we escape if we have been negligent of so great salvation, which, having had its commencement in being spoken [of] by the Lord, has been confirmed to us by those who have heard …” (Heb. 2: 3). The pronouns we and us show that the writer, in identifying himself with those he wrote to, was himself a Jew. The verse also tells us that he was not one of the twelve who had heard the Lord when He was here on earth. This immediately points to Paul who only knew the Lord in heaven. More positively, Peter, writing to Jews, says “and account the longsuffering of our Lord [to be] salvation; according as our beloved brother Paul also has written to you according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all [his] epistles …” (2 Pet. 3: 15, 16). Careful reading of these verses show that Peter is not just saying that Paul had written to the Jews but the addition of the words “as also the other scriptures” (v16) indicate that his writing to the Jews was Scripture. The only book that satisfies this is Hebrews. This should clinch the matter. However, there is more.
Paul’s intense love for his nation is recorded in Rom. 9: 1–5 where he says “for I have wished, I myself, to be a curse from the Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to flesh; who are Israelites” (v3). Hebrews was written a few years before God’s judgement fell on the Jews in AD70 when Jerusalem was razed to the ground, Israel ceased as a nation for centuries and its people were dispersed. Who better to make the final appeal to those of Israel who had accepted Jesus as the Christ but were in danger of going back to the very system and its city on which God’s judgement was about to fall? We can now see the force of that the word “for we have not here an abiding city” (Heb. 13: 14). Another pointer comes from OT quotations. The Scripture “but the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2: 4) is quoted three times in the NT: Rom. 1: 17, Gal. 3: 11 and Heb. 10: 38. In Romans the great subject is justification, in Galatians it is life and the quotation in Hebrews introduces chapter eleven, the great chapter on faith. The authorship of the former two epistles has never been in question so why question Paul’s authorship of the latter? Lastly, the name of Timothy occurs 24 times in the NT and on every occasion it is associated with the Apostle Paul—unless the final mention in Hebrews is the exception! While not wishing to build too much weight on Biblical numerics, they should not be ignored. Including Hebrews, we have 14 epistles from Paul. Now 14 is the product of 2 and 7. 2 is the number of testimony (see Deut. 17: 6 etc.) and 7 of completion (see Rev. 5: 5 etc.). Hebrews is needed in order to have that complete testimony from the one NT writer who is more closely identified with the uniqueness of the Christian revelation than any other.
Let us turn now to the reason for the omission of Paul’s authorship from the Hebrew epistle. The exhortation in Heb. 3: 1 is “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus …”. As the text goes on to show, Moses was the apostle under the old covenant—just as Aaron was high priest. It was Moses who was sent from God to speak to the people but Aaron was inaugurated to go in to God for the people (see Ex. 28). In Judaism these two offices were separate but in the Lord Jesus they are united as Heb. 3: 1 shows. Such is His greatness. Moses was servant but Christ is Son (see vs 5, 6). As Apostle, Christ has come out from God to man; as High Priest, He has gone in from man to God. Even a cursory reading of Heb. 1 shows the greatness of the Son as Apostle. In the light of this, all other names, including the author’s name, surely pale into insignificance.Let me draw a parallel. When the Lord spoke of his forerunner John the Baptist, He described him as the greatest born of women (see Matt. 11: 11)—a stupendous honour. However, when John described himself it was in the lowliest of terms (see Matt. 3: 11) and as no more than a “Voice” (Matt. 3: 3). Whatever the Master’s appreciation of His herald, the herald’s task is to call attention, not to himself, but to the Master who follows him. Likewise for the writer of Hebrews to even insert his name, let alone claim the dignity and authority of his apostleship, would be incongruous and totally out of place.