The Epistle to the Hebrews, or Letter to the Hebrews, or in the Greek manuscripts, simply To the Hebrews (Πρὸς Ἑβραίους) is one of the books of the New Testament. The text does not mention the name of its author, but was traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle.However, doubt on Pauline authorship in the Roman Church is reported by Eusebius. A-pol'-os (Apollos, the short form of Apollonius): Apollos was a Jew of Alexandrian race who reached Ephesus in the summer of 54 AD, while Paul was on his third missionary journey, and there he 'spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus'.That he was eminently fitted for the task is indicated by the fact of his being a 'learned man,' 'mighty in the scriptures. Apollos (given by Apollo) a Jew from Alexandria, eloquent (which may also mean learned) and mighty in the Scriptures; one instructed in the way of the Lord, according to the imperfect view of the disciples of John the Baptist, ( Acts 18:24) but on his coming to Ephesus during a temporary absence of St. 54, more perfectly taught by Aquila and Priscilla.
(A·polʹlos) [Destroyer; abbreviation of Apollonius].
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A Jew of Alexandria, Egypt, possessed of notable eloquence in speaking and a sound knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. He seems to have been witnessed to by disciples of John the Baptizer or else by Christian witnesses prior to Pentecost, since he was “acquainted with only the baptism of John.” (Ac 18:24, 25) Yet he was fired with conviction, and on arriving in Ephesus about 52 C.E., he began witnessing in the local synagogue. This brought him in contact with Aquila and Priscilla, who filled in some of the gaps in his understanding of Christian teaching. From Ephesus he went over to Achaia, supplied with a letter of introduction, and there he seems to have centered his activity in Corinth, where Paul had preceded him. His intensity and his powerful Scriptural confutations of the arguments of the unbelieving Jews proved of great aid to the brothers there. He thus ‘watered what Paul had planted.’—Ac 18:26-28; 19:1; 1Co 3:6.
Unfortunately, by the time Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians (c. 55 C.E.), factions had developed in the Corinth congregation, with some viewing the eloquent Apollos as their leader, while others favored Paul or Peter or held only to Christ. (1Co 1:10-12) Paul’s letter corrected their wrong thinking, showing the vital need for unity and the relative unimportance of individuals as only ministers serving under God and Christ. (1Co 3:4-9, 21-23; 4:6, 7) It appears that Apollos must then have been in or near Ephesus, where Paul evidently wrote First Corinthians, for Paul tells of his urging Apollos to visit the Corinth congregation. (1Co 16:12) Apollos’ reluctance to go may have been due to the improper attitudes existing in Corinth or simply due to his having a field of activity that he felt required his continued attention a while longer. At any rate, Paul’s brief statement shows that these two active missionaries had not allowed matters to produce a breach in their own unity. The final mention of Apollos is at Titus 3:13, where Paul asks Titus, then in Crete, to supply Apollos’ needs for a certain trip.
What can be known for sure about Apollos?Steve - Troy, AL - July 10, 2011
I would like to know if he wrote the letter Hebrews in the Bible. I have heard that it might have been the Apostle Paul, but also that it was possibly Apollos. What can we know about who wrote this NT book? If 'certain' knowledge is not possible, what can be reasonably speculated about the author from the documents that exist?
I am not a New Testament scholar. Having said that, I did some research on this issue in my Ph.D. studies while attempting to connect the dots between Clement of Alexandria and the earliest forms of Christianity in Egypt (I will explain this connection below). Clement claimed to have a 'secret' oral tradition that went back to Jesus which had been 'handed down' through the years to the leadership of the Egyptian church. You can read some of my research on this topic (see the footnotes for scholarship behind the data - F.F. Bruce did some very good work on this): The Minority Egyptian Tradition in the New Testament and the Early Church.
Now to Paul, Apollos, and the Letter to the Hebrews.
Anyone who has taken enough Greek and is able to read the Greek New Testament can tell a difference between various NT Greek texts. For example, the writings of John (his gospel in particular) are very easy to read. Luke's writings (Luke and Acts) are noticibly written in better Greek than almost all the other NT texts, certainly better than the letters of the Apostle Paul. Paul's letters are decent Greek, but if you compare Paul's Greek with the text of Hebrews you see a real difference. In fact, ANY NT scholar will tell you that the Greek text of Hebrews is the best Greek in the New Testament.
When I make these statements I want to make it clear that I am also not a Greek scholar. I am communicating fairly common knowledge among scholars of the NT. Having said this, I have taken three semesters of Greek, translated a few NT books, and studied Clement of Alexandria in Greek. My first semester of Greek at the University of Alabama was Homeric Greek. My second semester was classical Greek, reading Xenophon of Athens (4th cent BC). Students of Greek use Xenophon because his Greek represents a 'higher' use of the language. I do not mean 'better,' but possibly more sophisticated. My third semester of Greek (in Scotland), was Koine Greek. Koine (or NT Greek) is the common Greek spoken on the street.
When one reads the Greek text of Hebrews it is closer to classical Greek than anything in the NT. Brooke Foss Westcott says of Hebrews: 'The language of the Epistle is both in vocabulary and style purer and more vigorous than any other book of the NT..It includes a large number of words which are not found elsewhere [in the NT].' [The Epistle to the Hebrews: the Greek texts with notes and essays (London 1892), p.xliv] 'The style is even more characteristic of a practiced scholar than the vocabulary.' [p.xlvi]
In my opinion (and many scholars would say this) Hebrews is clearly not Paul's writing, but scholars have questioned whether the writer was in the 'Pauline' school of thought. While there are some 'Pauline' motifs in Hebrews, there are also some interesting differences. Along with some other scholars, I think Apollos is a good guess for who wrote the letter, better described as a long exhortation (even a sermon). Beyond what I think, here are some of the things many scholars agree on regarding the author of Hebrews:
- he was highly educated, probably formally trained in rhetoric
- he did not speak/write in Aramaic/Hebrew
- he quotes from the Greek OT (LXX)
- he was probably from Alexandria, Egypt
- he was familiar with the apostle Paul and maybe Philo
- he appears to share the intellectual background of Philo
- it is likely that he knew some of Philo's writings
In Acts 18 we have the introduction of Apollos onto the scene:
Numerous items stand out:
1. Apollos comes from Alexandria.
2. He was highly educated.
3. He knew the Scriptures very well.
4. He was already a Christian, but only knew John's baptism.
Apollos arrives on the scene rather abruptly and immediately begins to refute the Jews. Luke's description of Apollos as aner logios deserves some attention. The use of this adjective, along with Luke's descriptive dunatos (18:24) indicates that one of the strengths of Apollos was rhetorical skill.
But Luke makes it clear that Apollos was not just a rhetorician; 'he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately.' (Acts 18:25) Luke also says that 'he had been instructed (he uses the Greek word for catechesis) in the way of the Lord.' The use of katecheo here is significant; the context demands that Apollos had been well-trained in the Christian faith prior to his arrival, yet he needed further instruction about baptism. We do not know how Apollos came to faith, but it is very important because it shows that Christian faith was spreading beyond apostolic reach and this is a type of pre-Pauline Christianity.
If you compare what scholars hold to be true regarding the author of Hebrews with what we see in Luke's description of Apollos - it lays out good potential for Apollos being the author.
What else do we know about Apollos?
The only other significant New Testament information we have on Apollos is in the first Corinthian letter. Paul opens this letter with a fairly stern rebuke,
The Epistle Of Apollos The Prophetrejected Scriptures Study
The apostle is bringing strong correction on the Corinthian church for having divisions. After comments about the gospel not being the 'wisdom' of men, he outlines how many of the Corinthian believers had not been of noble birth nor wealthy or influential. He then goes on to say that his presentation 'was not with eloquence or human wisdom,' but that he kept his message basic: 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'
Next, Paul goes back to the theme he used to open the letter,
In the opening of the letter Paul uses himself, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ, but now when he comes back to this theme it is only Paul and Apollos. But he goes further in the discussion, 'I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.' He then talks about how he and Apollos are 'only servants.' From this point forward in the letter Paul is defending himself against some unnamed group of critics (see Ch 9 in particular; 14:36ff; 15:9) while answering questions that must have been sent to him in a letter (see 7:1; 7:25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1).
Some scholars believe that the group of Paul's critics in Corinth are in the camp of Apollos (ie. the 'I follow Apollos' crowd). This would explain why Paul defends his gospel as one of simplicity, not with 'wise and persuasive words,' but only 'Christ and Him crucified.' The 'fans' of Apollos were impressed with the rhetorical skills, the polished Greek, and the fluid use of the scriptures - next to this it seems that Paul is being described as 'unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.' 2 Cor. 10:10
Some scholars have suggested that Apollos was actually an opponent against Paul [Pier Franco Beatrice, 'Apollos of Alexandria and the Origins of Jewish-Christian Baptist Encratism,' is the main example]. Some think it is this pro-Apollos group to whom Paul does not hold back:
The Epistle Of Apollos The Prophetrejected Scriptures In The Bible
Just prior to this rebuke Paul tells the Corinthians that he will be sending Timothy: He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus. (4:17)
What can we say about the relationship between Paul and Apollos?
If you read 1 Corinthians you see Paul comparing himself with Apollos without ANY attack. In fact, Paul seems to speak very positively about Apollos. He refers to him as a 'servant' (3:3), 'co-worker' (3:9), 'leader' (3:21), and then at the end of the letter Paul says:
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity. 1 Cor 16:12
It seems clear that Paul does not have any problems directly with Apollos. The real sense is that Paul holds Apollos in high regard, acknowledging that 'Apollos watered,' making the work of these two men close to equal. According to Luke's account in Acts 18-19 it appears that Apollos and Paul missed meeting each other at first, but obviously eventually get to know each other.
I will conclude with a comment from F.F. Bruce about Apollos (which is the end of his chapter on the Hellenists, [Men and Movements, pp.84-85]),
I have not finished my answer of this question, but feel free to offer comments and/or ask questions below.
****This is more than just intellectual bantering IF you are willing to see, or at least give room for the idea that Apollos positively influenced the apostle Paul.Check on the dates of Gal, 1 Cor. - did Apollos have enough time to influence Paul?
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