In Hebrews 13:24, the author writes:

Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. (NIV)

Should this be read as indicating that the letter was written from Italy? Or are there other possibilities in understanding this statement? What evidence is there as to the letter's place of origin?

2 Answers 2


The short answer to the question that forms this thread's title is: "no".

Unpacking that, the key words in the second half of the verse, Ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰταλίας, simply refer to native Italians in whatever place the writer was currently located.

This is a long-held view: see for example Marcus Dods' explanation in The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), vol. 4, p. 380-381 (basically, just the explanatory bit on p. 381, in fact). This same view is represented in the somewhat more recent Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, gen. ed. David Noel Freedman (Eerdmans, 2000) -- see the article "Hebrews, Epistle to the" by James W. Thompson (pp. 568-570). He appeals to the parallel in Acts 18:2, and goes on: "This parallel suggests, therefore, that the author of Hebrews writes from a location in which he has met expatriates 'from Italy' who send greetings to their home city" (p. 569b).

Unfortunately, the inherent ambiguity precludes using this as evidence for provenance of author or recipients.

As for the further question:

What evidence is there as to the letter's place of origin?

Well ... there isn't any! All suggestions remain speculative.


"Those from Italy" may well be the Hellenist Jews brought to Rome as slaves from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia and later manumitted (freed):

NIV Acts 6:9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)--Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia--who began to argue with Stephen.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers writes on this verse from Acts:

(9) Certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines.--The structure of the sentence makes it probable that the Libertines, the Cyrenians, and the Alexandrians attended one synagogue, those of Cilicia and Asia another. Each of the names has a special interest of its own. (1) The Libertini. These were freed-men, emancipated Roman Jews, with probably some proselytes, descendants of those whom Pompeius had led captive, and who were settled in the trans-Tiberine district of Rome in large numbers, with oratories and synagogues of their own. When Tacitus (Ann. ii. 85) describes the expulsion of the Jews under Claudius, he speaks of "four thousand of the freed-men, or Libertine class," as banished to Sardinia. From this class, we have seen reason to believe, Stephen himself had sprung. Andronicus and Junias were probably members of this synagogue. (See Note on Romans 16:7.)... http://biblehub.com/acts/6-9.htm

If so perhaps the reference in Hebrew might be to these manumitted "Libertini" living packed very closely together in cans in Sardinia:

Life in Sardinia

If indeed the letter was written by a Sardine expelled from Rome it might explain some of the references such as:

Heb 13:9  Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.  Heb 13:10  We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.  Heb 13:11  For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.  Heb 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.  Heb 13:13  Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.  Heb 13:14  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

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