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Hebrews (Reformed Expository Commentary) Hardcover – November 13, 2006
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"Richard Phillips's Hebrews is faithful to the text, cordially committed to confessional Reformed orthodoxy, and alert to practical implications for the life of the church. Phillips keeps the focus where it is for the writer of Hebrews: on God's 'last days' speaking 'in his Son.' This volume, which can be read with profit by a wide audience, should serve to remedy the relative neglect of this important New Testament book in the proclamation and life of the churches of the Reformation. Along with the other volumes in this series, this commentary should contribute to preaching and teaching that more fully echo the whole counsel of God." --Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
"The first liturgical reform of the Protestant Reformation was the implementation of lectio continua expository preaching in Zurich in 1519. Sequential Bible exposition has been a hallmark of Reformed Protestantism ever since. It is heartening to see the Reformed Expository Commentary series emerging to encourage the continuation of this great heritage of preaching. Richard D. Phillips is among the most gifted young preachers of our day. In his hands, Hebrews receives the kind of careful, scholarly, contemporary, and practical exposition that is so desperately needed today." --Terry Johnson, Pastor, Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Georgia
"Hebrews emphasizes that God still speaks about Christ and his people through his written Word. Phillips's expository addresses ring with that authenticity, whether by way of admonition or assurance." --Hywel Jones, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California
About the Author
Richard D. Phillips (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina. He is a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and coeditor of the Reformed Expository Commentary series.
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This was not my go-to commentary as I preached through Hebrews, Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes' work holds that place still. At the same time, this was a very helpful volume to read as the sermon was jelling in my mind. It was good to hear the thoughts of another preacher and how someone else handled the text before me.
Theologically, I'm a Reformed Baptist. Covenant theology all the way down the line except the inference that leads to infant baptism. I am covenantal in my thinking. Having said that, it was some of the Reformed part of this commentary that, for me, got in the way. Within Reformed circles, we kind of expect certain topics to be covered when certain texts are touched. I'm not sure those topics are really relevant today as they were in the 1980s and 90s and yet we still seem to have to cover them as a shibboleth to prove our Reformed creds and Phillips does that. It isn't wrong or but, but for me it just isn't very helpful.
A recommended help in sermon preparation nonetheless!
1) To be biblical - that is to pay careful attention to the text and exposit the Scriptures. There is less focus on the original language and structure and more focus on the story that the passage is telling.
2) Unashamedly Doctrinal - this series approaches the text from a Reformed perspective, as found in the Bible.
3) Redemptive-Historical - this means that they believe in the unity and continuity of the Bible, and interpret it in a Christ centered approach for all of Scripture.
4) Practical - by applying the truths found in the Scriptures to contemporary challenges in life.
Now on to aesthetics. This Commentary looks great. While this isn't a huge selling point, and certainly not a reason to chose one commentary over another, I must say that this one looks really nice on the bookshelf, especially when you have more than one in the series.
Richard Phillips is the contributor for the volume on Hebrews and he has done an outstanding job. His exposition is very readable for pastor and layman alike. This commentary, just like others in the series, reads like a book. I found that it flowed together nicely and thus would make a wonderful devotional read. Phillips has a way of making sense of difficult passages of scripture and making them easy to understand for his reader. This truth is clearly seen throughout this commentary. I want to focus on Hebrews 6:4-8 because this is one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture. Phillips presents three main views of this passage:
1) The view that the "those who have fallen away" speaks of believers. The problem that this view faces is that it contradicts many other passages that speak of eternal security. (John 10:28-29; John 6:36-40; Romans 8:38-39). Also, the conclusion of this passage in Hebrews is one of assurance for those who have trusted in the gospel. For these reasons Phillips rejects this idea.
2) The second view is that the "language describes participation in the sacramental like of the church." This means that those who fall away participate in all the activities that would make one look like a Christian, but they are not and at some point fall away. Phillips says that he is not "hostile" to this view but feels the third view best handles this text.
3) The third view makes the point that the book of Hebrews contains "five major exhortations", with the other four making reference to the Old Testament, this exhortation focusing specifically on the exodus. The main thought being that there were many who received much of God's blessing during the exodus but eventually rebelled from Him.
Phillips closing statement tied the second and third views together well. He states, "This passage describes professors of faith who are within the church community - church members, as we would say today - who experience the benefits of God's blessing in the church without ever personally committing themselves to faith in Christ." This certainly does seem to be the best conclusion from this text when it is read in light of the rest of Scripture.
If you enjoy studying the Word of God and are looking for a solid commentary that is readable and will profit you greatly, then do yourself a favor and purchase this commentary. It is well worth it and would make a wonderful companion to the book of Hebrews.
I received a free copy of this commentary from P&R Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
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