"Those to whom Hebrews is written seem to have begun to doubt whether Jesus could really be the Messiah for whom they were waiting, because they believed the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures was to come as a militant king and destroy the enemies of his people. Jesus, however, came as a mere man who was arrested by the Jewish leaders and who suffered and was crucified by the Romans. And although he was seen resurrected, he still left the earth and his people, who now face persecution rather than victory. The Book of Hebrews solves this problem by arguing that the Hebrew Scriptures also foretold that the Messiah would be a priest (although of a different sort than the traditional Levitical priests) and Jesus came to fulfill this role, as a sacrificial offering to God, to atone for sins. His role of a king is yet to come, and so those who follow him should be patient and not be surprised that they suffer for now."
Authorship of the Epistle is argued as being from a woman of high standing within the church, Priscilla. "Because of its anonymity, it had some trouble being accepted as part of the Christian canon, being classed with the Antilegomena. Eventually it was accepted as scripture because of its sound theology, eloquent presentation, and other intrinsic factors. In antiquity, certain circles began to ascribe it to Paul in an attempt to provide the anonymous work an explicit apostolic pedigree.
The original King James Version of the Bible titled the work "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews". However, the KJV's attribution to Paul was only a guess, and is currently disputed by recent research. Its vastly different style, different theological focus, different spiritual experience, different Greek vocabulary – all are believed to make Paul's authorship of Hebrews increasingly indefensible. At present, neither modern scholarship nor church teaching ascribes Hebrews to Paul.
A.J. Gordon ascribes the authorship of Hebrews to Priscilla, writing that "It is evident that the Holy Spirit made this woman Priscilla a teacher of teachers". Originally proposed by Adolf von Harnack in 1900, Harnack’s reasoning won the support of prominent Bible scholars of the early twentieth century. Harnack believes the letter was written in Rome – not to the Church, but to the inner circle. In setting forth his evidence for Priscillan authorship, he finds it amazing that the name of the author was blotted out by the earliest tradition. Citing Chapter 13, he says it was written by a person of "high standing and apostolic teacher of equal rank with Timothy". If Luke, Clemens, Barnabas, or Apollos had written it, Harnack believes their names would not have been obliterated.
Donald Guthrie’s commentary The Letter to the Hebrews (1983) mentions Priscilla by name as a suggested author.
Believing the author to have been Priscilla, Ruth Hoppin posits that the name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression.Also convinced that Priscilla was the author of Hebrews, Gilbert Bilezikian, professor of biblical studies at Wheaton College, remarks on "the conspiracy of anonymity in the ancient church," and reasons: "The lack of any firm data concerning the identity of the author in the extant writings of the church suggests a deliberate blackout more than a case of collective loss of memory." "
The structure of the chapter is
"This chapter can be grouped:
- Hebrews 12:1-2 = The Race of Faith
- Hebrews 12:3-11 = The Discipline of God
- Hebrews 12:12-17 = Renew Your Spiritual Vitality
- Hebrews 12:18-24 = The Glorious Company
- Hebrews 12:25-29 = Hear the Heavenly Voice"