A few days ago I posted my review of the accompanying small group study guide that the Good Book Company have also published, and unsurprisingly, many of the themes noted in that review will reappear in this one.
I’ve enjoyed several of the God’s Word for You series over the last few years, and I have to say that this is another brilliant offering in this growing collection of accessible and informal companions to Bible books. Kruger is clear from the start that his goal is (8) to highlight “the major theme of the book: Jesus is better.” This he does over the following 200 or so pages, with thirteen chapters exploring the letter to the Hebrews (each of Kruger’s chapters does not correspond to a chapter in the epistle – in case you were wondering) opening up God’s word in a warm and pastoral tone. The significant themes of the letter are all explored, and Kruger does not shy away from more controversial passages and topics, unafraid to quite literally ask hard questions of his reader.
Delighted by Christ
The standout feature of Kruger’s book is that he is fixated on and delighted by Christ, and he wants to encourage his reader to be too. The writer to the Hebrews encourages his readers to “fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.” (12:2.) Kruger thus prioritises his aforementioned major theme that “Jesus is better” as he works through this epistle. With helpful commentary and probing reflections, Kruger shows how Christ outstrips all others, and encourages his reader to submit to the urgings of the writer of this epistle: fix your eyes upon Jesus.
Delighted by the details
Halfway through his discussion of 6:13-7:28, Kruger asks his reader (98) “How does the Melchizedek passage remind you of the importance of noticing every detail in the text? How does it reassure you that the Bible is a divinely authored book?” It is always good to see an author practising what they preach, and one of the highlights of this book was Kruger’s desire to unpack the details of this New Testament book. Kruger highlights the small, missable things in this letter. For example, that the writer calls them “holy brothers” and not just brothers in 3:1 (44), exploring what this meant and the implications of this. Or the (177) “superflous” details included by the writer when discussing Abraham in 11:17-18, details which actually help flesh out our understanding of his argument and encouragement.
Though this is not a traditional commentary, this attention to detail is invaluable. Kruger exposes just some of the richness of this Biblical epistle, and encourages his reader to continue to embrace Scripture, delving into it for themselves.
Context and Structure
This is further aided by Kruger’s useful injection of context. Bringing in his expertise as a professor of Early Christianity, Kruger helpfully illustrates different aspects of the first century context of the recipients of this letter, and where necessary, the Old Testament background to some of the themes and passages discussed. On top of this, Kruger’s eagerness to bring in other passages of Scripture is commendable, and this all combines to help the reader better explore the book of Hebrews.
The book itself is easy to handle and simple to navigate. Each chapter is broken into two manageable chunks, with three questions for reflection at the end of each half. These short questions are often probing and a useful practical tool to help the reader respond to Scripture. The book also contains a helpful glossary of terms and names found throughout the book, which further aids understanding, especially of more technical or biblical words.
Hebrews for You is a warm companion to a rich New Testament text. Kruger displays his love for the Lord, and encourages his reader to share more deeply in that love. Whilst a few of Kruger’s more American cultural references were slightly lost on this reviewer, his habit of concise and clear illustrations further aided his exposition of the text. This is right up there with the best of the God’s Word For You series, and I would warmly commend it to readers of this blog. Helpful either as a tool for personal study, or an aid for preparing talks or studies for group use, this is a great resource from Kruger and The Good Book Company.
Hebrews For You is available from The Good Book Company.