The letter to the Hebrews is a part of Scripture particularly rich in devotional subject matter. It is fitting, then, that this recent commentary in the Welwyn Commentary Series is warmly devotional in its style. In equal measure, it is reassuringly thorough and scholarly.
The introduction deals with such matters as the authorship of Hebrews (Brooks’ opinion is that the writer remains unknown), date (before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70) and purpose.
Brooks summarises the latter in these terms: ‘The great purpose of the writer in penning Hebrews is to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ in one aspect after another of his person and work, and in doing this to warn the readers of the dangers of wandering away from Jesus and the gospel, lest they end up committing apostasy and are lost after all’ (p.9).
After a helpful synopsis of the layout of Hebrews, the author proceeds with a phrase-by-phrase commentary on the biblical text. It is written in a readable style, with plenty of scriptural cross-referencing. In commenting on Hebrews 4:9 (‘There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God’), the author’s view is that the ‘sabbatism’ referred to is not the keeping of a weekly Sabbath, but rather looking forward to the eternal, never-ending Sabbath rest of heaven.
His treatment of verses 14-16 in the same chapter is particularly helpful, as he expounds Jesus as our exalted, sympathising and inviting High Priest. He comments: ‘Frankly, we never experience a moment in our lives when we are not in need of divine mercy and grace; and here at the throne, mercy awaits and grace abounds, ever needful by us and ever timely for us’ (pp.138-9).
The difficult passages dealing with apostasy (chapters 6 and 10) are dealt with helpfully. Brooks solemnly notes that ‘tasting “the powers of the age to come” can include an acknowledgement of the truth of eternal things without having ever been transformed by the reality of them’ (p.184). He then unfolds the purpose of these sections: to alert us to danger; to keep the true believer from presumption (though not to rob us of assurance); to encourage self-examination; and to urge us to press on.
The chapter on Hebrews 11, ‘Vistas of faith’, helpfully shows how the faith of Old Testament believers was focused on the coming Christ, and stands as another heart-warming section of the book.
This book will be of greatest interest to pastors and preachers, but every Christian would benefit from reading this Christ-exalting exposition. Highly recommended!