Was Priscilla the Author of Hebrews?

Sometimes Biblical discussions become regressive and completely irrelevant. I want to state up front – this is one of these issues. Does this topic matter? At all? No. It definitely does not. If you disagree with me on this issue – I want to let you know ahead of time, you are probably right. And I am probably wrong. So, please don’t let this get to you in any sort of fundamental way. Its just not worth it.

AND YET – I can’t not comment. I love this topic. Seeing as though Hebrews is my favorite book of the entire Bible (yes, I’m that weird – I’m sure yours is Romans, or Corinthians or any one of a number of ‘better’ books. But I am ok with being wrong on that topic too! Hahah) I have a natural yen to know more about it. And seeing as though it isn’t clear who the author of the book was it was serious conjecture fodder for discussion… its just ripe with possibilities!! So with all that preliminary stuff out of the way… WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF HEBREWS? Let us commence.

Until about 200 years ago it was widely believed that Paul wrote Hebrews. But now scholars are almost of one mind that Paul did NOT write it. It is Paul’s theology… and continues his logic. But it definitely isn’t in Paul’s voice nor does it follow many of his standard writing quirks. The author of Hebrews also quotes widely from the Septuegent (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) where as Paul always quoted directly from the Hebrew.

More importantly, the author’s grasp of the Greek language is much better than Paul’s… the author of Hebrews is more eloquent and poetic in style. And in any of Paul’s other letter’s his thought-lines tend to run off on tangents. On the other hand the author of Hebrews follows a systematic line of reason from start to finish. And the clincher for me is that it was Paul’s style to continually refer to himself with the use of personal pronouns like “I”, “me”, “my”, and “mine”. The author of the book of Hebrews refers to themselves only 7 times in the entire book. In Romans Paul uses 103 pronouns. In 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses a total of 278 personal pronouns. To put it a little differently, Paul, the author of First and Second Corinthians was 17 times more likely to use pronouns than the author of Hebrews. And Paul, in Romans, was 10 times more likely than the Author of Hebrews to utilize pronouns.

There are many other hints that it wasn’t Paul – and so, I won’t go any deeper down this rabbit trail trying to convince you of something you already innately get. But if you are one of those “Paul Wrote Hebrews” folks – I’d love to hear your logic!!

But what about other Possibilities?

Luther posited that it might have been Apollos. And far be it from me to disagree with Luther, but I kind of doubt it was Apollos. Apollos doesn’t seem like the type to not sign his own writing. (No offense sir… but you don’t.) Or, better yet, to not specifically send self identifiable greetings out to his audience… Another clever argument was that maybe Paul used a scribe for this letter, giving the general ideas to the writer to put to paper? Maybe? Or could it have been a sermon given by Paul that a Greek author put down for him. Maybe someone like Luke? That would account for the similarity of the theology between Paul and this other author. Could be. Seems plausible anyway.

There is a Better Option

For years I have been fascinated with the enigmatic Priscilla and Aquila mentioned six different times throughout the New Testament. (Acts 18:2,18,26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19). And if you are flipping to these six spots, notice the order in which they are mentioned. Three times they are mentioned as “Aquila and Priscilla. Three times they are mentioned as “Priscilla and Aquila”. Now I don’t know about you, but mentioning the wife first – AT ALL – in that day and age was unheard of. I guarantee you that this Prisca (the diminutive form of the name Priscilla) was a dynamo of a character. Definitely worth taking a closer look at anyway.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the chronological timeline of Paul’s introduction to the couple and their comings and going throughout the New Testament:


  • When Paul came to Corinth (probably in the year 53 AD), he met Priscilla (or Prisca) and her husband Aquila
  • They were tentmakers by trade like Paul
  • Both had just arrived from Rome, from which city the Emperor Claudius had recently expelled the Jewish community.
  • It is not clear whether Aquila and Priscilla were already Christians before meeting Paul, or were converted by his preaching.
  • Spent eighteen months together – and then went together to Ephesus
  • Priscilla and Aquila remained in Ephesus while Paul continued to Antioch.
  • Soon after, Apollos came to Ephesus.
  • Aquila and Priscilla befriended him and explained the Gospel to him more fully.
  • Eventually Paul returned to Ephesus and wrote 1 Corinthians and Priscilla and Aquila were there at that time too [1 Corinthians 16:19].
  • Priscilla and Aquila were apparently in Rome when Paul wrote to that congregation [Romans 16:3].
  • And they were probably in Ephesus with Timothy when Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy from Rome. [2 Timothy 4:19]

Priscilla and Aquila’s Story:

For a secondary character in the New Testament we know a surprisingly large amount (as illustrated by the above timeline). We know where the two of them had come from Italy [Acts 18:2] (Rome more specifically – Romans 16:5) and that they had met Paul in around 53 AD. The Roman Emperor Claudius apparently ordered them out of Rome probably just before meeting Paul [Acts 18:2]. The Roman historian Suetonius reported that the Jews were persecuting their Christian neighbors and causing a “considerable disturbance in the city.” Suentonius reports this occurred in 52 A.D. Which jives with Priscilla and Aquila meeting Paul somewhere around 53 AD quoted earlier.

We also know that Aquila was a native of Pontus [Acts 18:2] (a region just south of the Black Sea) – I would assume Prisca was too. But you never know – he could have met her in Rome. Though I doubt it as I’m sure he married a Jew and probably from his own home town. But we just can’t know that. But its a reasonable assumption. Though some argue that Priscilla is a decidedly Greek name. I’m certain she was a convert regardless. We do know for sure that they were tentmakers like Paul [Acts 18:3]. And they most likely had multiple franchises that they moved between. Though that is all conjecture on my part. But they moved frequently amongst Ephesus, Rome & Corinth.

While Paul was in Corinth for a year and a half he lived with Priscilla and Aquila. Eventually he stopped teaching in the synagogue because of opposition and began teaching in the home of Titus who lived next door to Priscilla and Aquila [Acts 18:7]. And for 18 solid months Priscilla and Aquila learned at the foot of the greatest Bible teachers this side of Christ himself. Can you imagine having that opportunity? Amazing. So we can surmise that Priscilla had the schooling, the knowledge and early church pedigree to write something like the book of Hebrews. But did she?

Priscilla’s Knowledge Was Known Throughout The Church

Looking at Romans 16 we see that Priscilla was an Apostolic teacher that was known throughout Christendom. Not only was she a great teacher but Priscilla probably housed the first Christian Church in Rome at her house. Priscilla and Aquila had risked their lives for Paul and were a central backbone to not only their church but all the “gentile churches” as well [Romans 16:4]. I personally believe Prisca was probably a key structural piece of the church throughout that area. By sharing the gospel, clarifying the truth and giving of herself, I’m certain Prisca was an enormous help to the growth and support of the Church to come. And never forget that it was Prisca and Aquila who helped Apollos get his theology straight when all he knew was John’s baptism [Acts 18:18-28]. It was because of Priscilla that Apollos went on to become so well known that it even caused divisions within the church – but who ultimately knew his place in the Kingdom of Christ [1 Corinthians 3:6].

Hebrews’ Audience?

An important detail in ascertaining the authorship of any letter is the audience. Did the author know the person that it was addressed to? All letter authors know their audience and the same is true here. The author of Hebrews was intent on imparting this message to them. So who was Hebrews written to?

I believe that Hebrews was written to the Jewish church in Rome. There are several reasons for this – but mainly because of Hebrews 13:24 “Those from Italy greet you.” Not only was it probably written to the Roman church, but to the core group started in Priscilla & Aquila’s home. We can see that the Roman church operated out of their Roman house in Romans 16:5 – “Greet the church that meets at their (Priscilla and Aquila) house.” It was written to them because during this time they had under gone lots of chaos and expulsions under Claudius and then took a turn for the worst under Nero in 64 AD. They had also seen the martyrdom of Paul and Peter [Hebrews 13:7 & 10:32] Priscilla would have bee­n very concerned for her old house church. And would have wanted to encourage them in the faith. She was intimately familiar with her audience and longed for them to continue the race with excellence.

In August of 64 AD Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians and here is what follows:

“First those were seized who confessed that they were Christians. Next, on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of hating the human race. And in their deaths they were also made the subject of sport, for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses or set ore to and when day declined burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for the spectacle.” Tacitus in his Annals (xv. 44)

I believe it is in this shadow that Priscilla wrote her old friends and church goers. Compare this to Hebrews 10:32-34

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”

And in 67 AD Nero had Paul tortured and killed. Hebrews seems to refer in several places to the martyrdom of their leaders and the general persecution they were undergoing as seen by the above passage and also Hebrews 13:7. If this is the case then it dates the authorship of Hebrews somewhere around 70 AD. Regardless, we can see that the author of Hebrews is intimately familiar with the sufferings of the Roman church. And we see that she is admonishing them onwards towards the more lasting possession.

The author of Hebrews also did something that has confounded many scholars. Instead of constantly using the pronoun “I”, she regularly used the pronoun “We”. Hrmmm. There were only a few pronouns at all in the book of Hebrews and almost half of them is the pronoun “we”. Why would a New Testament author have done such a thing? Well, it was because the author of Hebrews was never separated from her husband and spoke together with him in all things. All six references of Prisca by Paul mentioned her husband as well. Never did Paul refer to her alone. And she herself wouldn’t have shied away from her love and devotion to her husband and would have used the “We” pronoun as a further indication of their co-laboring together.

Arguments Against Priscilla’s Authoring Hebrews

Those that disagree with the Priscilla authorship of Hebrews use a couple of arguments. The first being that the author is the reference to Timothy in Hebrews 13:23. Not sure why this would be conclusive. Priscilla and Aquila were obviously acquainted with Timothy and would have cared for him similarly to Paul. And outside of that one point, I can’t find other logical arguments against her authorship of Hebrews.

Was Priscilla the Author of Hebrews?

I really do believe Priscilla is the author of this book. It just makes sense from every angle. Would I consider this canon? HAHAH. No. Does it matter? No. But I do believe Christianity really is just that progressive. The stories of the women throughout the gospels, and even throughout the Old Testament is amazing. Want a fun Bible study, read about Rahab and Jericho and her family lineage. Want a fun Bible study? Read about Jesus’s revelation of Himself as the Christ in John 4 to the “horrible” woman at the well. And on and on I could go. 

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”

Does it belittle the message because it might have been written by a woman? May it never be! (As Paul was want to say.) The fact that we have no author just screams loudly that it could be a woman. I bet that early Christians removed her name from the original letter in order to send it on without causing an “issue”. They were human after all. I also think that Prisca had spent so many years under Paul’s tutelage she would have had his theology down to a T. It is recorded that she corrected Apollos – one of the most dynamic New Testament speakers – without his even giving it a second thought. All of the details about her life, and the timeline of the gospels, and the intricate details held within the book, seem to point to this line of reasoning. More interestingly. If you are offended at this possibility – why exactly would that be? I would much rather discuss this rising ire of yours, than I would like to discuss Priscilla’s authorship of Hebrews.