The Church Leaders “Best Books” series is our way of helping leaders find, read, and recommend books on a variety of important topics related to ministry and the Christian life. Check out the rest of our best books lists.
In the latest addition to our series, Matt Capps offers his five favorite commentaries on the Book of Hebrews. Matt is the Brand Manager for The Gospel Project and serves as a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville, TN. He has an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently finishing his D.Min. in Pastoral Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
The book of Hebrews is considered one of the most beautifully written books of the New Testament– a literary masterpiece. It is a book that needs to be studied carefully, prayerfully. In the process of writing this study, I read and interacted with dozens of commentaries on the book of Hebrews and found these five to be the most helpful.
1. The Letter to the Hebrews by Peter T. O’Brien
O’Brien has provided us with one of the most helpful commentaries on Hebrews around. This commentary is both academic and readable. O’Brien has struck a good balance between Biblical exegesis and Biblical theology proper, without losing its pastoral intent. I read this volume cover to cover, and almost every page is well marked with underlines and notes. As D. A. Carson has said, “It would be difficult to find a more helpful guide than Dr. O’Brien, or a guide better endowed with his combination of competence and genial wisdom.”
2. The Epistle to the Hebrews by F. F. Bruce
Bruce is often regarded as one of the most prolific Bible commentators of yesteryear. His commentary on Hebrews is a good example of his ability to be thorough yet accessible. In his writing, Bruce has always struck me as an academic whose love for the church kept his works warm and pastoral. This work was originally published in the 60’s and has stood the test of time as one of the go to commentaries on Hebrews.
While the Word Biblical Commentary is often difficult to plough through because of its format and technical notes, Lane’s volumes on Hebrews are worth the endeavor. Lane provides good resource on both technical exegesis and thoughtful theology. While I did not agree with every point of commentary, Lane’s thorough scholarship in these volumes remain unmatched.
4. Hebrews by George H. Guthrie
Guthrie’s commentary on Hebrews is one of the most useful for pastors because it provides a good survey of scholarly thought and proposes specific application points in each section. This commentary is primarily written for pastors who are seeking to become conversant with the academic consensus on the intended message of the ancient book of Hebrews while applying the text to their hearers today. Both devotional and application, this volume is worth consulting.
5. Commentary on Hebrews by Thomas R. Schreiner
What sets this commentary apart from others is that Schreiner sets his thorough discussion of the text in the context of most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole. Because Hebrews contains thirty five direct quotations from the Old Testament, along with many allusions and references, this volume will be a valuable addition to the catalog of Hebrews commentaries. Because this series is aimed at applying the discipline of biblical theology to the readers lives and to the life of the church, this volume is of exceeding value for preachers. While I have not read this volume from cover to cover like the others listed above, my familiarity with Schreiner’s thoughts on Hebrews in his New Testament Theology and in his little book Run To Win The Prize give me full confidence in importance of this work.
Allow me to offer a few other considerations. First, the book of Hebrews stands apart from other biblical books by the author’s skilled use of imagery, metaphor, and Old Testament analogy. Therefore, it is very helpful to have a few reference works on hand to help navigate some of the theological themes of the Bible. I would highly recommend The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology.