Owen surveys the historical, canonical, theological, and authorship issues in the book of Hebrews. He also writes at length about the depiction of the Messiah in Hebrews, with special care to link Jesus to Old Testament promises and prophecies. The final part of Volume One is devoted to the epistle’s treatment of the institution of Judaism with regard to the law, the priesthood, the sacrificial system, and the temple.
This greatest work of John Owen is a work of gigantic strength as well as gigantic size; and he who has mastered it is very little short…of being an erudite and accomplished theologian.
For solidity, profundity, massiveness and majesty in exhibiting from Scripture God’s ways with sinful mankind there is no one to touch him.
—J. I. Packer
. . . the greatest theologian who has ever written in the English language.
John Owen was born at Stadhampton, Oxfordshire in 1616. He entered Queen's College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and completed his M.A. in classics and theology in 1635 at the age of nineteen. He was ordained shortly thereafter and left the university to be a chaplain to the family of a noble lord. His first parish, in 1637, was at Fordham in Essex, to which he went while England was involved in civil war. It was here that he became convinced that the Congregational way was the scriptural form of church government. In the 1640s he became chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, the new "Protector of England," and traveled with him on his expeditions to Ireland and Scotland. Between 1651 and 1660, he played a prominent part in the religious, political, and academic life of the nation. In 1651 he was appointed dean of Christ Church and in 1652 made Vice-Chancellor of Oxford—positions which allowed him to train ministers for the Cromwellian state church. He lost his position in 1660, however, when the restoration of the monarchy began after the death of Cromwell in 1658. Owen moved to London and led the Puritans through the bitter years of religious and political persecution—experiences which shaped his theological inquiry, pastoral reflection, and preaching. He later declined not only invitations to the ministry in Boston in 1663, but also an offer to become president of Harvard in 1670. He died in August, 1683.