Subscribe now

I Wish Someone Would Explain HEBREWS to Me!

By Stuart Olyott
October 2011 | Review by Michael Bentley

Synopsis

Stuart Olyott explains Hebrews as clearly as the subject matter allows, keeping in mind the advice of Albert Einstein that 'things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler'. Throughout, the aim of the author is to focus our gaze upon Christ so that we might follow him with renewed courage.

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth
  • ISBN: 978-1848710603
  • Pages: 208
  • Price: £16.14
Buy this book »

Book Review

I wish I had this book by me when I preached my first sermon, 55 years ago! As always with Stuart Olyott’s works, this one is crammed with solid biblical teaching. It is written in a simple, clear way, without any wasted words or unnecessary padding. Instead we are presented with an easy-to-understand exposition which explains the epistle and has many exhortations applying its teaching to our own situation.

The first chapter outlines the teaching and purpose of Hebrews in a way that stimulates us to give praise to God. We can see what an excellent teacher Stuart is by the way he explains the cultural and historical setting of this letter.

I have often taught that it is difficult to understand the meaning of Hebrews without knowing the details of Leviticus. Stuart Olyott goes much further. He says that Hebrews not only helps us to understand Leviticus, but is ‘the best commentary on the [whole of the] Old Testament that has ever been written’ (p.6).

He believes that Paul is the most likely author, but he does not waste words debating this. He explains that Hebrews was written because some second generation Christians were wondering whether they ought to return to Judaism. Their faith was like a fire that had been dampened down, but the teaching given by the apostle is fuel that causes it to burst into flame once again (p.4).

I especially liked the way that each chapter ends with a practical and spiritual exhortation to place the Lord at the centre of our lives. An example of this is found at the end of his section on Hebrews 7:1-29.

There he writes, ‘With Jesus Christ as my high priest, there will never be an occasion when I approach God but find that I have been turned away’ (p.87). And, at the end of his chapter on Hebrews 9:14-28, he writes, ‘We are going to heaven! Christ is coming to take us there, but no one will get there without him. Those, like the Hebrews, who are thinking of walking out on him, would do well to remember this’ (p. 113).

This is a helpful commentary on Hebrews, but it also demonstrates how we can unlock the teaching of any part of the Scriptures. If your faith is beginning to flag with the pressures of life do not borrow this book. Instead buy and keep it. You will dip into it time and again, and it (along with the Bible) will warm your heart and soul.

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should I Trust the Bible?

We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Who Am I? Human Identity and the Gospel in a Confusing World
Thomas Fretwell

In today’s secular society, religion is often regarded as without rational or scientific basis, and therefore irrelevant to life in the modern world and all areas of public engagement. If that is our social context, then it is no wonder…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Pastor’s Life: Practical Wisdom from the Puritans
Matthew D Haste & Shane W Parker

This book highlights ‘some of the many lessons that today’s pastors can learn from the Puritans’ (p.151). As such it is aimed at pastors, but the lessons are really for anyone who is a Christian leader. The opening chapter provides…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
5 Minutes in Church History: An Introduction to the Stories of God’s Faithfulness in the History of the Church
Stephen J Nichols

What a breath of fresh air this book is! Stephen Nichols has given us 40 vignettes from church history that are brief enough to be digested over a bowl of cereal. The book doesn’t aim to be a beginner’s guide…