different is the character given of teachers, in the epistle to the
Hebrews ! " Obey your teachers, and be subject to them ; for they
watch over your souls, as they who must give an account ;" i. e. they
are altogether worthy of your confidence and obedience, xiii. 17.
And at the close of the letter, he sends his affectionate salutations to
them, xiii. 24.
These considerations seem to remove all probability, and ever possi-
bility, that the epistle to the Hebrews was, as Storr maintains, written
at the same time and place as the epistle to the Galatians, and that it
was also directed to the same church.
The excellent character and distinguished acuteness of Storr, entitle
almost any opinion which he has seriously defended, to examination ;
but I cannot resist the impression, that he has utterly failed in defending
the sentiment which has now been examined.
I have, throughout this investigation, proceeded on the supposition
that Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews ; which Storr fully believed,
and the belief of which is necessary, in order that one may adopt the
sentiment which he has maintained in respect to its destination. Whe-
ther there is sufficient reason to believe that Paul was the author of the
epistle, will be a subject of discussion in a subsequent part of this
22 6. WAS THE EPISTLE DIRECTED
Introduction. In the mean time, I shall concede this point, (while
examining the question relative to its destination,) to all the writers who
have assumed it, in supporting their respective opinions. Such is the
case with all those, whose various opinions relative to the destination of
our epistle, still remain to be examined.
6. Was the epistle directed to the church at Thessalonica ?
The character which has just been given of Storr, will also apply, in
respect to some of its prominent traits, to Noesselt, late professor of
Thelogy at Halle, who has maintained, in an essay devoted to this pur-
pose,* that the epistle to the Hebrews was written to the churches in
Macedonia, or rather to the church at Thessalonica. Semler had done
this before him ; but on somewhat different grounds, and with less
plausible reasons. On this account, I shall now, without particularly
adverting to the efforts of Semler, proceed to examine the more ably
supported opinion of Noesselt.
The general principle, to which Noesselt makes an appeal in his argu-
ment, is, in itself, considered correct. He endeavours to show, that
" there are circumstances mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews, in
Paul's epistles to the Thessalonian church, and in the life of this apostle,
which afford a very striking agreement ; so striking as to render it alto-
gether probable, that Paul must have directed to this church, the epistle
which is now inscribed, To the Hebrews ; and that he must have written
it during his abode of eighteen months at Corinth, as recorded in Acts
xviii." Let us examine these circumstances.
(1.) " When Paul visited Corinth for the first time, he found Priscilla
and Aquila there, who had recently fled from Italy, on account of the
decree of Claudius, which banished the Jews from Rome, Acts xviii.
1, 2. At the close of the epistle to the Hebrews, he says, l They of
Italy salute you ;' meaning Priscilla and Aquila. Here then is a cir-
cumstance in the epistle to the Hebrews, which accords with the circum-
stances of Paul, during his first visit to Corinth."
But, as I have before remarked, (p. 11,) Paul was in company with
these Italians at other places besides Corinth. From some of these
other places, then, he might have written this salutation. Besides, is
there any probability, (as I have before asked,) that two strangers, who
had recently (Trjooo-^arwe) come from a city so distant as Rome, should
* Contained in his Opuscuhu
TO THE CHURCH AT THESSALONICA ? 23
be so well known to the Thessalonians in the extreme north-eastern
part of Greece, that they need not even be named, but simply called
ol curb TIJQ IraXtae, in a greeting or salutation ? And particularly so, as
neither of them were officers in the church, or public teachers. In all
othei cases, as has been already shown, Paul expressly names these
persons, when he adverts to them. Why should he depart here from his
usual custom ?
(2.) "Paul says, at the close of the epistle to the Hebrews, that
Timothy was ciTroXeXvjueVoj', sent away ; and Paul had sent Timothy from
Berea to Thessalonica, while Paul himself was at Athens, a little before
he came to Corinth : comp. Acts xvii. 13 16. Here then is a concur-
rence of circumstances, which favours the opinion that the epistle to
the Hebrews was written by Paul at Corinth, and directed to the
To understand the nature of this argument, and the reply which I
have to make, it is necessary to advert, for a moment, to the history of
Paul's journeys at the time now under consideration. Paul, in company
with Silas and Timothy, first preached the gospel at Thessalonica, where
a church was formed ; but, being vehemently opposed by some of the
Jews, they went to Berea, a neighbouring city, Acts xvii. 10. Thither
the persecuting Jews of Thessalonica followed them ; in consequence of
which, Paul, leaving Silas and Timothy there, withdrew to Athens.
Here he resided a short time, and then went on his first visit to Corinth,
Acts xvii. 1 15, xviii. 1. At this last place, he staid eighteen months,
Acts xviii. 11. Now Noesselt supposes, that before Paul left Athens, he
sent Timothy (who was still at Berea, Acts xvii. 10. 14) back to Thes-
salonica, in order to make inquiries respecting the state of the church
there ; and that this is the meaning of that passage at the close of the
epistle to the Hebrews, Ye know, (as he would translate it,) that our
brother Timothy is sent away.
But as there is nothing of all this in the history which Luke has given
of Paul and Timothy, Acts xvii, and as the whole must therefore be
founded on conjecture, it might be sufficient, on the other hand, to
conjecture that Paul did not send Timothy from Berea to Thessalonica,
as Noesselt supposes.
However, respect for so excellent a critic as Noesselt, would rather
demand some argument, to show that this conjecture cannot be well
founded. I would observe, then, that in order to render his position
probable, he assumes as a fact, that the epistle to the Hebrews was writ-
24 $ 6. WAS THE EPISTLE DIRECTED
ten before the epistles to the Thessalonians ; a supposition not capable
of being rendered probable, much less of being proved.
It will be admitted, that there is not a word in our present first epistle
to the Thessalonians, respecting any previous letter addressed to them ;
a circumstance not to be imagined, provided the apostle had written such
a laboured epistle to them as that to the Hebrews is, and on such an
important question . Besides, it appears altogether probable from Acts
xviii. 1 6, that Silas and Timothy arrived at Corinth soon after Paul
had gone there ; so that the absence of Timothy, supposed by Noesselt
to have taken place at the time when the epistle to the Hebrews was
written, cannot be rendered at all probable, from this part of Paul's
history ; for it cannot be thought probable, that such an epistle as that
to the Hebrews would be written by Paul immediately after his arrival
at Corinth, amidst all the agitation and dispute and hazard occasioned
by his first preaching there. But even conceding that this might have
been done, is it probable that Paul, who (according to Noesselt) had
just before, while at Athens, sent Timothy to Thessalonica, and who
knew that he was now there, should gravely write to the Thessalonians,
Ye know that our brother Timothy is sent away; when this same
Timothy, in propria persona, was present with the very church to whom
this was written?
(3.) " In Heb. x. 34. Paul says, Ye had compassion on my bonds ;
or, according to another reading, of equal authority, Ye had compassion
on those who were bound, i.e. the prisoners. This refers to Paul's
imprisonment, as related in Acts xvi. 23 40 ; and to the sympathy
which the Thessalonians evinced for him in these circumstances."
But this imprisonment was at Philippi, before Paul had visited Thes-
salonica, and before the Thessalonians could know that he was in their
region, except by report. This imprisonment lasted but a few hou rs;
it ended in a most triumphant deliverance, by the interposition of Divine
power, and in the shame and mortification of the magistracy who had
ordered it. The whole occurrence, instead of demanding compassionate
sympathy, was a matter of triumph and congratulation. Or, if other-
wise, it was not an affliction in respect to which the Thessalonians could
compassionate Paul as they could not know of its having happened,
until it was past.
(4.) " The Hebrews are praised for their liberality ; and so are the
To which I reply, So are other churches. Does it follow, because
TO THE CHURCH AT THESSALONICA ? 25
they exhibited this trait of character which was common among Christians
in the apostolic age, that the Thessalonian church must have been the
same which is thus recommended in the epistle to the Hebrews ?
(5.) " The persons to whom the epistle to the Hebrews was addressed,
had suffered persecution, Heb. x. 32, xii. 4 ; which was also the case
with the Thessalonians, 1 Thess. ii. 14 16, 2 Thess. i. 11."
So had many other churches. But neither at Thessalonica, nor
scarcely any where else, except in Palestine, do we know of a persecu-
tion, at this period, which involved the loss of property and the hazard
of liberty and life. The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of their being
despoiled of their property, x. 34 ; a circumstance not to be found in
the account of the persecution at Thessalonica, and one which makes
directly against the supposition of Noesselt.
(6.) " The Thessalonians were in danger of defection from the faith,
so that Paul was obliged to send Timothy to confirm them, 1 Thess. iii.
2, 3 ; and the same danger is every where adverted to, in the epistle to
This argument is built on an erroneous exegesis. That Timothy made
a visit to confirm the Thessalonians, does not surely imply that they
were in special danger of apostacy. When Paul is said to have gone
through Asia Minor confirming the churches, Acts xv. 36 41, xvi. 4 6,
xviii. 23, are we to draw the inference that all the churches there were
in the same danger of apostacy as the persons to whom the epistle to
the Hebrews is addressed ? If not, this argument of Noesselt has no
force to establish the opinion which he advocates.
(7.) " There is a great similarity between the epistle to the Hebrews
and the epistle to the Thessalonians."
So there is, also, between the epistle to the Hebrews and all the
epistles of Paul. This argument, then, proves too much. It may serve
to show that Paul probably wrote the epistle to the Hebrews ; but it can
have no important influence on the question, To whom did he write this
Most of the similarities, moreover, which are produced by Noesselt,
are similarities of a general nature in respect to sentiments of piety and
morality. Must there not be a similarity, of course, in these respects,
in all the epistles of Paul, provided he always taught the same doctrines
of Christianity ?
But the dissimilarities between the epistles to the Thessalonians and
the Hebrews, Noesselt has not proceeded to develop. Yet there are
26 6. WAS THE EPISTLE ADDRESSED
some ; and some so striking, as to render the supposition which he
defends, altogether improbable. The Hebrews addressed in our epistle,
had been for a long time Christians ; but if Noesselt's supposition be
true, they had been so only a few months, at most, when Paul wrote his
first epistle to them ; for Paul had only made a rapid journey from
Thessalonica to Athens, and thence to Corinth ; and soon after his
arrival there, and (as Noesselt thinks) before Timothy had come to him,
he wrote the epistle in question.
I may add, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews nowhere adverts
to his having first planted Christianity among them. But Paul, in his
epistle to the Thessalonians, very frequently adverts to this circumstance.
Further, the epistle to the Hebrews is directed to a church almost
wholly (if not altogether) Jewish ; while it is plain, from Acts xvii. 4, 5,
that only a few Jews had early joined the Thessalonian church ; and
plainer still, that this church was principally made up of Gentiles, from
Paul's first epistle to them, i. 9, where he says, " Ye have turned from
idols, to serve the living God." Now, circumstances so widely diverse
and opposite, cannot be predicated of the same church, while they have
respect only to an interval of time, which, at the most, cannot exceed
the eighteen months that Paul abode at Corinth.
Finally, Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians, throughout, are
filled with commendations of the Thessalonian church, for their firmness
and stedfastness in the faith of the gospel. Not a word of their Jewish
prejudices. Not a reference to the imminent danger of apostacy, which
is every where developed in the epistle to the Hebrews. Noesselt
accounts for this, by the supposition, that Paul's first epistle to them, viz.
that to the Hebrews, (as he supposes,) had produced a thorough reforma-
tion among them. But when Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians
had effected a reformation, in respect to various particulars of far less
importance than those treated of in the epistle to the Hebrews, how does
the apostle fill his second letter with commendations, which have a
direct reference to his former admonitions? Could it be otherwise
here, if the epistle to the Hebrews had been written before our present
epistles to the Thessalonians, and produced such an effect as Noesselt
On the whole, then, the supposition of Noesselt must be abandoned ;
not only because it is not well supported, but because it involves dif-
ficulties and improbabilities so great as to render it altogether incre-
TO HEBREWS IN ASIA MINOR? 27
7. Was it directed to Hebrews, who were sojourners in Asia Minor?
Bolten (who has distinguished himself, in a peculiar manner, by a
translation of the New Testament, with constant reference to the Syriac
or Syro-Chaldaic language, in which he supposes many of the original
documents must have been composed,) has advanced the opinion, that
the Hebrews, addressed in our epistle, were those who had fled from
Palestine, about A.D. 60, on account of the persecutions there, and
were scattered abroad Asia Minor. To this he thinks the ol Karatyvyovree
in vi. 18, refers; as also the passage in xiii. 14, which speaks of their
having no abiding city. He finds parallels of such a meaning, in 3 John
verses 5 and 7, where strangers are mentioned, and those who have gone
abroad (ej/\0or) for his (Christ's) name's sake ; in 1 Pet. i. 1, where
sojourners of the dispersion are mentioned; and in James i. 1, where
the ol iv rrj SiaffTropq. are addressed.
I am unable, however, to find any history of a persecution in Pales-
tine, at the period which he mentions, or any account of a dispersion of
Jewish Christians abroad, at that period. As to the texts which he
cites, in favour of his supposition, they will not bear the construction
which he has put upon them. We who have fled, Hebrews vi. 18, is
inseparably connected with the clause which follows, viz. to lay hold on
the hope set before us, i. e. in the gospel. Besides, the writer does not
say you who have fled, but we, i.e. Christians. So also in xiii. 14, it is we
(viz. Christians) who have no abiding city, i. e. no permanent place of
happiness in the present world. The passage in 3 John verses 3, 7, pro-
bably refers to Gentile Christians, who became exiles ; and those in
James and Peter have respect merely to Jews who lived in foreign
countries, in distinction from those who lived in Palestine.
Besides, how could the apostle address wandering fugitives, scattered
over Asia Minor, and destitute of a home, as in a condition to bestow cha-
rity? xiii. 1 , 2. 16. How could he speak of them as having stated teachers ?
xiii. 17, 24. How could he expect his letter to reach them ; or promise
them a visit with Timothy, xiii. 23, in case he should speedily return ?
Respectable as the critic is who has advanced this opinion, it seems to
be quite destitute of probability, and entitled to but little consideration.
8. Was the epistle addressed to the church at Corinth?
Michael Weber, who has distinguished himself in some respects as a
critical writer on the canon of the New Testament, has advanced, and
28 8. WAS THE EPISTLE ADDRESSED
endeavoured to support the opinion, that the epistle to the Hebrews was
written to the church at Corinth. He labours, in the first place, to show
that Paul wrote no less than five letters to the Corinthians. The first
was one which has been lost, and which Paul mentions in our present
1 Cor. v. 9 13. The second and third were our first to the Corinthians,
and so much of the second as includes chapters i. ix., with the two last
verses of the epistle ; the fourth, our present epistle to the Hebrews ; and
the fifth, the remainder of the second epistle to the Corinthians ; all
which, he thinks, were written in the order now suggested.
Proceeding on the ground of such an arrangement of Paul's letters, he
endeavours to support his opinion, that the epistle to the Hebrews was
written to the Corinthians, by arguments which 1 shall now examine.
(8.) ** The Hebrews became Christians at an early period, and so did
ihe Corinthians ; the Hebrews were Judaizing Christians, and so were
the Corinthians. An agreement in these respects renders it probable,
that the epistle to the Hebrews was sent to the church at Corinth."
But Paul did not visit Corinth until A.D. 51 or 52, after he had
repeatedly traversed the various countries of Asia Minor, and founded
several churches in Macedonia. It cannot, therefore, be called an early
period, at which the Corinthians were converted. Paul established few,
if any, new churches, after the establishment of this at Corinth ; at least,
history does not give us any account of them.
In respect to the Corinthians being Judaizing Christians, the proof is
altogether wanting. The apostle has taken no notice of any contest or
question of this nature among them. He has indeed, in 2 Cor. iii.
6 18, drawn a parallel between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations;
but it is of a general nature, and touches none of the points usually con-
tested by Judaizing Christians. In 2 Cor. xii. 13 23, to which Weber
appeals for proof of his assertion, it is plain, that some Judaizing teacher
(or teachers) is adverted to by Paul ; whose conduct he describes in
terms which convey very strong disapprobation. But this, instead of
aiding to establish the position of Weber, seems absolutely to overthrow
it ; for in the epistle to the Hebrews, the teachers (as we have already
had occasion to remark, p. 21,) are commended, as being altogether
worthy of confidence and obedience, Heb. xiii. 17. 24. We have
already seen, moreover, that the church at Corinth consisted, at first, of but
few Jews ; as is plain from the history of Paul's planting it, Acts xviii.
(2.) " There is a most striking resemblance between the epistle to the
Hebrews and the epistle to the Corinthians."
TO THE CHURCH AT CORINTH ? 29
This, Weber labours to establish, by a comparison of the methods in
which each quotes the Old Testament ; of the aira'S Xey oyava. ; and of
the similitudes employed.
That there is a similarity, I should readily concede. But resemblance,
and even striking resemblance, is not confined merely to the epistles
addressed to the Corinthians and to the Hebrews. Storr finds it between
the epistles to the Galatians and to the Hebrews ; Noesselt, between
the epistles to the Thessalonians and to the Hebrews ; and it may be
easily shown, (as it will be hereafter,) that the epistle to the Hebrews has
a striking resemblance to all the epistles of Paul, in a variety of respects.
Why should we, or how can we, limit this to the epistles addressed to
the Corinthians ?
But in various respects, in which Weber has undertaken to make out
a likeness between the epistle to the Hebrews and the epistle to the
Corinthians, it seems to me that he has entirely failed. In the epistle
to the Hebrews, repeated reference is made to personal sufferings and
loss of property, through persecution, Heb. x. 33, 34, xii. 4 ; but in the
epistle to the Corinthians, we discover no traces of such persecution ;
nor does the history of the church at Corinth give us any knowledge
of persecution having early prevailed there. At all events, when our
present first epistle to the Corinthians was written, it is clear that no
such event had taken place at Corinth ; for Paul says, 1 Cor. x. 13, no
trial hath befallen you but such as is common to men. Now, as the epistle
to the Hebrews speaks of the great fight of afflictions, x. 33, 34, which
they endured, when they were first enlightened, here is an absolute con-
tradiction of Weber's supposition, instead of a confirmation of it.
(3.) " The warnings, exhortations, and commendations for charity
bestowed, are alike in the epistles to the Corinthians and to the
But the same resemblances which Weber finds between these epistles,
Noesselt finds between the epistles to the Thessalonians and to the
Hebrews. Such resemblances may be found, also, in other epistles.
But they are of a nature too general to afford any evidence of weight
in such a question as the one before us. Does not every Christian
church need warning, reproof, consolation ? And is not every one that
is charitable, entitled to commendation ? It is not, therefore, from a
comparison of general expressions of this nature, that the sameness of
churches addressed can be proved. There must be something particular,
local, and sui generis, to make such proof valid.
30 8. WAS THE EPISTLE ADDRESSED
(4.) The greeting at the close of the epistle to the Hebrews, 'A<nra-
Zovrai fyae ol CLTTO rr\^ 'IraX/a, Weber understands (like the critics
whom I have already examined) as referring to Priscilla and Aquila ;
and compares it with the greeting from the same persons, in 1 Cor.
But in the latter place they are expressly named, so that there is a
striking dissimilitude, instead of resemblance, in the manner of the
(5.) He further compares several ideas in the epistle to the Corinthians
and the epistle to the Hebrews ; such as warnings taken from the
example of ancient Israel, 1 Cor. x. 1 12, and Heb. iii. 16 18 ; the
doctrine that God chastises his children for their good, 1 Cor. xi. 32,
and Heb. xii. 5 11 ; and some other things, about which similar views
in both epistles are expressed.
The words, however, which are employed in these two cases, are, for
the most part, quite diverse. And even if they were not, could Paul
write on such subjects to no more than one church ? And must that
church be only at Corinth ?
(6.) " But, the epistle to the Hebrews is called \6yov TrajoaicXr/o-ewe ;
and also in 2 Cor. vi. 1, Paul says, TraparaAov/jev."
True; but the same Paul repeatedly says TrapajcaXew in his epistles
to the Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Thessalonians, and elsewhere.
Was the epistle to the Hebrews written to these churches, because Trapa-
icaXe'w is a word common to it and to the epistles directed to them ?
(7.) " In 1 Cor. iv. 18, 19, xvi. 2 7, the apostle has expressed his
desire or determination to pay the Corinthians a visit ; and at the close
of the epistle to the Hebrews, the same determination is expressed,
Heb. xiii. 23."
But were there no other churches which the apostle desired or deter-
mined to visit, besides that at Corinth ? And could lie express the
desire or determination to visit no other ? Even if all this should be
admitted, the determination to pay a visit, as expressed in our first
epistle to the Corinthians, was abandoned when he wrote the second,
i. 15 seq ; which, according to Weber's own arrangement, was written
before our epistle to the Hebrews.
(8.) " From 1 Cor. xvi. 10, it appears, that Timothy, when this letter
was written, was absent from Paul ; and in the epistle to the Hebrews,
xiii. 23, \ie is said to be sent away (aTroXfXv/m'ov.) Here again is a
similarity of circumstances."
TO THE CHURCH AT CORINTH ? 31
Granted ; but was not Timothy constantly employed in this manner,
on errands of Paul to the churches ? Was he absent only once ? And