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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 50

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 50.—From the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Although the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews is doubted by some, 376 nevertheless, as I find it sometimes thought by persons, who oppose our opinion touching the baptism of infants, to contain evidence in favour of their own views, we shall notice the pointed testimony it bears in our behalf; and I quote it the more confidently, because of the authority of the Eastern Churches, which expressly place it amongst the canonical Scriptures. In its very exordium one thus reads: “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” 377 And by and by the writer says: “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” 378 And again in another passage: “Forasmuch then,” says he, “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 379 Again, shortly after, he says: “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” 380 And in another place he writes: “Let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” 381 Again he says: “He hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily (as those high priests) to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.” 382 And once more: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world;) but now once, in the end of the world, hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” 383



Amongst the Latins, as Jerome tells us in more than one passage (see his Commentaries, on Isa. vi., viii.; on Zech. viii.; on Matt. xxvi.; also, in his Catal. Script. Eccles., c. xvi. [ad Paulum], and lxx. [ad Gaium], etc.). The Greeks, however, held that the epistle was the work of St. Paul. In his Epistle cxxix. [ad Dardanum] he thus writes: “We must admit that the epistle written to the Hebrews is regarded as the Apostle Paul’s, not only by the churches of the East, but by all church writers who have from the beginning (retro) written in Greek.”—Note of the Benedictine Editor. [See Augustin’s City of God, xvi. 22 and Christian Doctrine, ii. (8), 13. The matter is fairly stated by Augustin, after whose day the Epistle was not doubted even in the West.—W.]


Heb. i. 1-3.


Heb. 2:2, 3.


Heb. 2:14, 15.


Heb. ii. 17.


Heb. 4:14, 15.


Heb. vii. 24-27.


Heb. ix. 24-28.

Next: Chapter 51

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