NIGTC: The Epistle to the Hebrews
By: Paul Ellingworth
Category: Commentaries

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  • The New International Greek Testament Commentary

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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 and 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. Nonbiblical 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 epistle -- which maintains the continuity of God's people before and after Christ -- is to encourage readers to base their lives on nothing other and nothing less than Jesus.

About this Series

This commentary series is established on the presupposition that the theological character of the New Testament documents calls for exegesis that is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical work lies at the heart of these volumes, which contain detailed verse-by-verse commentary preceded by general comments on each section and subsection of the text.

An important aim of the NIGTC authors is to interact with the wealth of significant New Testament research published in recent articles and monographs. In this connection the authors make their own scholarly contributions to the ongoing study of the biblical text.

The text on which these commentaries are based on 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.

About the Author

Paul Ellingworth is honorary lecturer in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen and former translation consultant for the United Bible Societies in the United Kingdom. He is also the coauthor of A Translator's Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews and author of the volume on Hebrews in the Epworth Commentaries Series.


There will always be a need for new commentaries, for fresh approaches to the text in light of the changing questions and discoveries of any particular age. Paul Ellingworth, however, has given us a model of depth and simplicity in his commentary that will make it one of the books to be consulted on Hebrews for some time to come.
The meticulousity, fairness, and good judgment with which philology, textual criticism, relevant biblical and nonbiblical texts, and secondary literature are brought to bear on Hebrews is impressive. This work joins the list of the other excellent commentaries on Hebrews which have been published in recent years, but it carves a niche all its own.
Catholic Biblical Quarterly