The study of the Epistle to the Hebrews has traditionally been hampered by a number of factors. For example, for most of Christian history, the attribution of Hebrews to Paul has made it more difficult for readers to hear this epistle's distinctive voice. Among Gentile Christians, it has also been wrongly assumed that Hebrews is of interest only to Jews. And it has sometimes been thought that Hebrews represents a compromise or halfway stage between Judaism and Christianity, in contrast with the pure message of the Gospels and the radical Christianity of Paul. These and other factors have tended to combine to give Hebrews an undeserved reputation for obscurity.
This excellent commentary by Paul Ellingworth adeptly removes such barriers to the meaning of Hebrews, revealing the value of this complex but immensely important New Testament epistle for all readers, past and present. Ellingworth begins with a detailed study of the Greek text before working outward to consider the wider context, linguistic questions, and the relation of Hebrews to other early Christian writings and to the Old Testament. Non-biblical writings such as Philo and the Dead Sea Scrolls, though less directly related to Hebrews, are considered where appropriate. Unveiling the discourse structure of this carefully written letter, Ellingworth's commentary helps make coherent sense of the complexities of Hebrews. As a result of his exhaustive study, Ellingworth finds Hebrews to be primarily a pastoral, not a polemical, writing.
Showing how Hebrews beautifully emphasizes the supremacy of Christ, Ellingworth concludes that the essential purpose of the epistlewhich maintains the continuity of God's people before and after Christis to encourage readers to base their lives on nothing other and nothing less than Jesus. The text on which these commentaries are based is the UBS Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland and others. While engaging the major questions of text and interpretation at a scholarly level, the authors keep in mind the needs of the beginning student of Greek as well as the pastor or layperson who may have studied the language at some time but does not now use it on a regular basis.