The epistle to the Hebrews is a sermon of the sort preached in the earliest Christian churches. The preacher is addressing an urgent problem, one that is still common today, the congregation is exhausted; it has gone through great distress; and it is having difficulty holding on to its faith. The people are weary and disheartened. Thomas Long shows how the epistle to the Hebrews combines theological teaching and advice about ethical action to speak to the church today as it confronts and responds to today's challenges.
“First, when we read through Hebrews and compare it to other literature of its day, it becomes clear that what we call the Letter to the Hebrews is not, in fact, a letter at all, at least not in the customary sense. Even though it has some epistle-like flourishes at the end (see 13:22–25), the main body of Hebrews bears all the marks of an early Christian sermon, what the author calls a ‘word of exhortation’ (13:22), a homily of the sort surely preached in many of the first Christian congregations. Early Christian sermons were heavily influenced by the style of preaching done in the synagogue, and in terms of structure and methods of biblical interpretation, Hebrews appears to be an example of a sermon that is rabbinical in design, Christian in content, and heroic in length.” (Page 2)
“Imagine being handed a book today with the comment, ‘Here, you may enjoy this. It was written in America or Russia or France, I’m not sure, by a Jew—or was it a Gentile?—anyway, it was written sometime between 1920 and 1970. Enjoy.’ As Luke Johnson has observed, ‘Like its own description of Melchizedek (7:3), Hebrews appears in the canon ‘without father or mother or genealogy’ …’ (Johnson, p. 412).” (Page 2)
“At the beginning of this chapter, the Preacher roused his congregation with the exciting picture of a footrace. Banners were flying, the stadium was filled with spectators, and the members of the congregation were urged to respond like trained athletes: stripping off the weights and running like greyhounds toward the tape (12:1). But now, after wrestling once more with the vexing problem of suffering and pain (12:3–11), the Preacher advances a somewhat different image: the Christian as a runner with a limp.” (Page 134)
The Interpretation series from Westminster John Knox Press is clearly established as a rich source for teaching and preaching. They have tapped the talents of a varied and esteemed group of contributors, resulting in what is clearly the essential comprehensive commentary series on the Bible.
—W. Eugene March, A.B. Rhodes Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
The Interpretation series is an invaluable resource for any leader or scholar interested in interpreting the biblical text to the broader church. Its works are essential for pastors, educators, and church libraries.
—Brian K. Blount, President and Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary