That this epistle was written very early appears from hence, that it
was imitated by Clement of Rome, in his epistle to the Corinthians,
who took whole sentences out of it; and therefore it could not be a
new work, as Eusebius {a} observes: it has been denied to be
authentic by some heretics, as the Marcionites and Arians, but has
been generally received as such by the orthodox: some indeed doubted
of it, because it was not received by the Roman church, as an epistle
of the Apostle Paul {b}; though others, who have thought it was not
his, as Origen, yet looked upon it as genuine {c}. It has been
ascribed to different persons, as to Barnabas, to Apollos, to Luke
the Evangelist, and to Clement of Rome, but without any just reason.
Clement of Alexandria, a very ancient writer, asserts it to be the
Apostle Paul's {d}; and his name stands in the title of it, in all R.
Stephens's exemplars, and in all Beza's copies, excepting one, and so
it does in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions; and that it is his,
is highly probable from the agreement there is between this, and
other epistles of his; compare \\#Heb 1:2,3\\ with \\#Col 1:15,16\\ and
\\#Heb 5:12-14\\ with \\#1Co 3:1,2\\ and \\#Heb 12:1\\ with
\\#1Co 9:24\\ and \\#Heb 13:7,17\\ with \\#1Th 5:11,12\\, and
\\#Heb 13:9\\ with \\#Eph 4:14\\ and \\#Heb 13:18\\ with \\#2Co 1:12\\
and \\#Heb 13:20\\ with \\#Ro 15:13 16:20 1Th 5:23\\ and many other
places; and also from the order and method of it, first treating of
doctrines, and then proceeding to practical exhortations, which is the
common form of Paul's epistles: to which may be added various
circumstances; as that it was written from Italy, where Paul was a
prisoner; and the mention the author of it makes of his bonds, and of
Timothy, as well known unto him, who was Paul's companion; besides,
the token of his epistles appears in this, namely, his usual
salutation to the churches; see \\#Heb 13:23-25\\. But above all, the
testimony of the Apostle Peter is greatly in favour of its being his,
\\#2Pe 3:15,16\\ from whence it clearly appears, that the Apostle
Paul did write an epistle to the Hebrews; for to them Peter wrote;
see \\#1Pe 1:1 2Pe 3:1\\ and what epistle could it be but
this? and what Peter refers to is to be found in it; see
\\#Heb 10:25,36,37\\ and which is written with great wisdom; in none
of Paul's epistles is there a greater discovery of his knowledge of
divine mysteries than in this; and in it also are things hard to be
understood, \\#Heb 5:11\\. The common objections to its being his
are, its not bearing his name, the diversity of its style, and the
author of it seeming to be not an apostle, but a disciple of the
apostle's: as to his not setting his name to it, the reasons might
be, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles, and not so much of
the Jews; and because of the prejudice of the Jews against him, both
believers, and unbelievers; wherefore had his name been to it, it
might have prevented the usefulness of it to the one, and have
stirred up the rage of the other: as to the difference of style,
different subjects require a different style; and yet in many things
there is a likeness, as before observed: and as to the author's not being
an apostle, which is concluded from \\#Heb 2:3\\ the word "us" there is to
be understood of the believing Hebrews, the disciples of the
apostle, and not inclusive of the author, by a figurative way of
speaking often used by Paul; and besides, the apostle received a
confirmation of the Gospel from Ananias, who might have been an
hearer of Christ, though he was at first taught it by Christ
himself; add to this, that whoever was the writer of it, it was
written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and when several of the
apostles were living, and therefore he could never design by those
words to put himself in a succeeding generation. The persons to whom
this epistle was written were Hebrews, or Jews; so called, as some
think, from the name of Abraham, the father of them; or, as others,
from his passing over the river Euphrates, when he came out of
Chaldea into Palestine. So Abram the Hebrew, in \\#Ge 14:13\\ is by the
Septuagint rendered, \~perathv\~, "one that passes over", taking it to
come from the word \^rbe\^, which signifies to "pass over"; with this
compare \\#Jos 24:3\\ and this is the opinion of some of the Jewish
Rabbins {e}; though it seems rather that they were called so from
Heber, who lived at the time of the confusion of languages; see
\\#Ge 10:21 Nu 24:24\\. And this is the sense of many Jewish writers,
ancient and modern, of Josephus {f}, of Jonathan ben Uzziel {g}, of
R. Nehemiah {h}, of Aben Ezra {i}, and Kimchi {k}, and others;
\\see Gill on "2Co 11:22"\\. And these were the Hebrews that dwelt in
the land of Judea, and particularly at Jerusalem; nor were they the
unbelieving inhabitants of those parts, but believers in Christ, who
were embodied in a Gospel church state, It was a tradition of the
ancients {l}, that this epistle was written originally in Hebrew,
and was translated into Greek, either by Luke the Evangelist, or by
Clement of Rome. But for this there is no foundation; no Hebrew copy
can be produced; Munster's edition of it in Hebrew is a translation
from the Greek, in which it was, no doubt, originally written, that
being the common language, and well known to the Jews; and which
appears from the citations in it out of the Old Testament, which
are made, not from the Hebrew text, but from the Greek version; and
besides, had it been written in Hebrew, the writer would not have
interpreted the Hebrew words, Melchizedek and Salem, as he does, in
\\#Heb 7:1,2\\. The time of its writing was before the destruction of
Jerusalem, which in this book is signified by the coming of the
Lord, and the day approaching; and after Timothy was released from
prison, and some time within the two years of his own imprisonment
at Rome; when he hoped for a release, as his epistles to the
Philippians and to Philemon show. Dr. Lightfoot places it in the
year 62, and in the eighth of Nero. And the occasion and design of
it is, to set forth the superior excellency of Christ to angels and
men, to Moses, to Joshua, to Aaron, and his sons, and the
preferableness of his priesthood and sacrifice to the Levitical
priesthood and its sacrifices; to teach the Hebrews the true
knowledge of the mysteries of their law; to point out to them the
design, use, and abrogation of its ceremonies; and to prepare them
for what afflictions and persecutions they would be called to endure
for Christ; and to exhort them to perseverance, and to strengthen
them against apostasy, as well as to instruct them in the various
duties of religion.

{a} Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 38.
{b} lb. c. 3. & l. 6. c. 20.
{c} Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 25.
{d} Ib. c. 14.
{e} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 3. Jarchi in Gen. x. 21. & xiv. 13.
{f} Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4.
{g} Targum in Gen. x. 21.
{h} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 3.
{i} In Gen. x. 21. & in Jonam, 1. 9.
{k} Sepher Shorashim, rad. \^rbe\^
{l} Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 14. Hieronymi Catalog. Script. Eccl.
sect. 15. fol. 91. Tom. 1.


The intention of this epistle being to demonstrate the superior
excellency of the Gospel revelation to the legal one, the apostle
begins with the divine author of it, in which they both agree, and
observes that in other things they differ. The revelation under the
law was made in times past, the Gospel revelation in these last days;
the former was made to the Jewish fathers that were of old, the
latter to the then present apostles; the one was made at sundry
times, and in divers manners, the other was made at once, and in one
way; the one was made by the prophets of the Lord, the other by his
own son, \\#Heb 1:1,2\\ and therefore the latter must be the
more excellent; in proof of which the author enlarges on the
character of the Son of God, with respect to his person, office, and
glory; showing that he is heir of all things, the Maker of the
worlds, of the same nature and glory with his Father; is omnipotent,
and upholds all things by the word of his power; is the High Priest
of his people, who has made satisfaction for their sins, and purged
them from them, and is now at the right hand of God, \\#Heb 1:2,3\\
He goes on to prove that he is more excellent than the angels, by a
variety of arguments, and these supported by testimonies from the
Scriptures; as that he has a more excellent name than any of them,
being called the Son of God, \\#Heb 1:4,5\\ which is proved
from \\#Ps 2:7 2Sa 7:12-16\\ that he is the object of the
worship of angels, \\#Heb 1:6\\ which is required of them,
\\#Ps 97:7\\ that he is their Maker and Creator, \\#Heb 1:7\\ which appears
from \\#Ps 104:4\\ that he has an everlasting kingdom, is a righteous
King, and is richly anointed above his fellows, \\#Heb 1:8,9\\ which
is the sense of some passages in \\#Ps 45:6,7\\ and that he is the
founder and former of the heavens, and of the earth, and will endure
when they shall not, \\#Heb 1:10-12\\ which is confirmed by
testimonies out of \\#Ps 102:25-27\\ that he sits at the right
hand of God, where none of the angels were ever admitted,
\\#Heb 1:13\\ as is clear from \\#Ps 110:1-7\\ and besides, the angels,
as they are ministers made by him, they are sent out from him to wait
on his people, the heirs of salvation, and minister to them, and
therefore he must be greater than they, \\#Heb 1:14\\.