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Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year one thousand

eight hundred and forty-three, by

57808 ALBERT BARNES,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and

for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

INTRODUCTION.

§ 1. Preliminary Remarks. t't need not be said that this epistle has given rise to much discussion arnong writers on the New Testament. Indeed there is probably no part of the Bible in regard to which so many conflicting views have been entertained The name of the author ; the time and place where the epistle was written; the character of the book ; its canonical authority ; the language in which it was composed ; and the persons to whom it was addressed, all have given rise to great difference of opinion. Among the causes of this are the fol!owing :- The name of the author is not mentioned. The church to which it was sent, if sent to any particular church, is not designated. There are no certain marks of time in the epistle, as there often are in the writings of Paul, by which we can determine the time when it was written.

It is not the design of these Notes to go into an extended examination of these questions. Those who are disposed to pursue these inquiries, and to examine the questions which have been started in regard to the epistle, can find ample means in the larger works that have treated of it; and especially in Lardner; in Michaelis' Introduction ; in the Prolegomena of Kuinoel ; in Hug's Introduction ; and PARTICULARLY in Prof. Stuart's invaluable Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. No other work on this portion of

New Testament is so complete as his, and in the Introduction he has left nothing to be desired in regard to the literature of the Epistle.

Controversies early arose in the church in regard to a great variety of questions pertaining to this epistle, which are not yet fully settled. Most of those questions, however, pertain to the literature of the epistle, and however they may be decided, are not such as to affect the respect which a Christian ought to have for it as a part of the word of God. They pertain to the inquiries, to whom it was written ; in what language, and at what time it was composed ; questions which, in whatever way they may be settled, do not affect its canonical authority, and should not shake the confidence of Christians in it as a part of divine revelation. The only inquiry on these points which it is proper to institute in these Notes is, whether the claims of the epistle to a place in the canon of Scripture are of such a kind as to allow Christians to read it as a part of the oracles of God? May we sit down to it feeling that we are perusing that which has been given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost as a part of revealed truth? Other questions are interesting in their places, and the solution of them is worth all which it has cost ; but they need not embarrass us here, nor claim our attention as preliminary to the exposition of the epistle. All that will be attempted, therefore, in this Introduction, will be such a condensation of the evidence collected by others, as shall show that this epistle has of right a place in the volume of revealeal truth, and is of authority to regulate the faith and practice of mankind.

§ 2. To whom was he Epistle written? It purports to have been written to the “ Hebrews.” This is not found, indeed, in the body of the epistle, though it occurs in the subscription at the end. It differs from all the other epistles of Paul in this respect, and from most of the others in the New Testament. In all of the other epistles of Paul, the church or person to whom the letter was sent is specified in the commencement. This, however, commences in the form of an essay or homily; nor is there anywhere in the epistle any direct intimation to what church it was sent. The subscription at the end is of no authority, as it cannot be supposed that the author himself would affix it to the epistle, and as it is known that many of those subscriptions are false. See the remarks at the close of the Notes on Romans, and I. Corinthians. Several questions present themselves here which we may briefly investigate.

(I.) What is the evidence that it was written to the Hebrews ? In reply to this we may observe (1.) That the inscription at the commencement, « The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews,” though not affixed by the author, may be allowed to express the current sense of the church in an cient times in reference to a question on which they had the best means of iudging. These inscriptions at the commencement of the epistles have hitherto in general escaped the suspicion of spuriousness, to which the s::bscriptions at the close are justly exposed. Michaelis. They should not in any case be called in question, unless there is good reason from the epistle itself, or from some other source. This inscription is found in all our present Greek manuscripts, and in nearly all the ancient versions. It is found in the Peshito, the old Syriac version, which was made in the first or in the early part of the second century. It is the title given to the epistle by the Fathers of the second century, and onward. Stuart. (2.) The testimony of the Fathers. Their testimony is unbroken and uniform. With one accord they declare this, and this should be regarded as testimony of great value. Unless there is some good reason to depart from such evidence, it should be regarded as decisive. In this case there is no good reason for calling it in question, but every reason to suppose it to be correct; nor so far as I have found is there any one who has doubted it. (3.) The internal evidence is of the highest character that it was written to Hebrew converts. It treats of Hebrew institutions. It explains their nature. It makes no allusion to Gentile customs or laws. It all along supposes that those to whom it was sent were familiar with the Jewish history ; with the nature of the temple service; with the functions of the priestly office; and with the whole structure of their religion. No other person than those who had been Jews are addressed throughout the epistle. There is no attempt to explain the nature or design of any customs except those with which they were familiar. At the same time it is equally clear that they were Jewish converts--converts from Judaism to Christianity — who are addressed. The writer addresses them as Christians, not as those who were to be converted to Christianity ; he explains to them the Jewish customs as one would do to those who had been converted from Judaism ; he endeavours to guard them from apostasy, as if there were danger that they would relapse again into the system from which they were converted. These considerations seem to be decisive ; and in the view of all who have written on the epistle, as well as of the Christian world at large, they settle the question. It has never been held that the epistle was directed to Gentiles ; and in all the opinions and questions which have been started on the subject, it has been admitted that, wherever they resided, the persons to whom the epistle was addressed were originally Hebrews who had never been converted to the Christian religion.

(II.) To what particular church of the Hebrews was it written? Very different opinions have been held on this question. The celebrated Storr held that it was written to the Hebrew part of the churches in Galatia ; and that the epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Gentile part of those churches. Semler and Noessett maintained that it was written to the churches in Macedonia, and particularly to the church of Thessalonica. Bolten maintains that it was addressed to the Jewish Christians who fled from Palestine in a time of persecution, about the year 60, and who were scattered through Asia Minor. Michael Weber supposed that it was addressed to the church at Corinth. Ludwig conjectured that it was addressed to a church in Spain. Wetstein supposes that it was written to the church at Rome. Most of these opinions are mere conjectures, and all of them depend on circumstances which furnish only slight evidence of probability. Those who are disposed to examine these, and to see them confuted, may consult Stuart's Commentary on the Hebrews, Intro. § 5-9. The common, and the almost universally received opinion is, that the epistle was addressed to the Hebrew Christians in Palestine. The reasons for this opinion, briefly, are the following. (1.) The testimony of the ancient church was uniform on this point that the epistle was not only written to the Hebrew Christians, but to those who were in Palestine. Lardner affirms this to be the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Euthalius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact; and adds that this was the general opinion of the ancients. Works, vol. vi. pp. 80, 81, ed. Lond. 1829. (2.) The inscription at the commencement of the epistle leads to this supposition. That inscription, though not appended by the hand of the author, was early affixed to it. It is found not only in the Greek manuseripts, but in all the early versions, as the Syriac and the Itala ; and was doubtless affixed at a very early period, and by whomsoever affixed, expressed the current sense at the time. It is hardly possible that a mistake would be made on this point; and unless there is good evidence to the contrary, this ought to be allowed to determine the question. That inscription is, « The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.” But who are the Hebrews—the “E3pãcoe ? Prof. Stuart has endeavoured to show that this was a term that was employed exclusively to denote the Jews in Palestine, in contradistinction from foreign Jews, who were called Hellenists. Comp. my Notes on Acts vi. 1. Bertholdt declares that there is not a single example which can be found in early times of Jewish Christians out of Palestine being called Hebrews. See a Dissertation on the Greek Language in Palestine, and on the meaning of the word Hellenists, by Hug, in he Bib. Repository, vol. i. 547, 548. Comp. also Robinson's Lex. on the wora ‘EBpãcos. If this be so, and if the inscription be of any authority, then it goes far to settle the question. The word Hebrews occurs but three times in the New Testament, (Acts vi. 1 ; 2 Cor. xi. 22 ; Phil. iii. 5,) in the first of which it is certain that it is used in this sense, and in both the others of which it is probable. There can be no doubt, it seems to me, that an ancient writer, acquainted with the usual sense of the word Hebrew, would understand an inscription of this kind—“ written to the Hebrews”-as designed for the inhabitants of Palestine, and not for the Jews of other countries. (3.) There are some passages in the epistle itself which Lardner supposes indicate that this epistle was written to the Hebrews in Palestine, or to those there who had been converted from Judaism to Christianity. As those passages are not conclusive, and as their force has been called in question, and with much propriety, by Prof

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