HEBREWS (the epistle of warning), by Dr. John Owen. Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $8.00.
The exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews is too well known to require an introduction or even a recommendation. On the whole, it is marvellous work, expounding the original text thoroughly and painstakingly. The original work which comprises eight big volumes may, perhaps, be regarded by some as being too elaborate because Dr. Owen adds many observations to his exposition of the text, yet even these “observations” are often valuable and rich in thought.
However, the work reviewed here and published by Kregel is a condensation of the original eight volumes by Dr. Owen in one volume of 238 pages. By publishing this volume, Kregel, undoubtedly, rendered the general reading public a valuable service. They, of course, are not interested in the original text nor do they have time to study such an elaborate exposition of the epistle to the Hebrews as is contained in the original eight volumes. The present volume is eminently fit to prepare, for instance, for a discussion on the epistle to the Hebrews in our societies.
The volume does not inform us who is the author of the condensation. On the whole, it is rather well executed, as a comparison with the original (which I made on certain passages) will show. Often even the very language of Dr. Owen is preserved.
Yet I must add a word or two of criticism. In the first place, I do not like the addition to the title: “the epistle of warning.” This I consider a rather severe limitation upon the contents of the epistle. True, the Hebrews is also an epistle of warning, but it is much more than that. Secondly, I found that the condensation does not always do justice to the original and that, too, sometimes in important respects. One illustration of this I here offer. On the phrase “the immutability of His counsel” in 6:17, the condensed volume has:
“The counsel of God is the eternal purpose of his will: in this particular place it was His holy, wise purpose to give His Son to be the seed of Abraham for the salvation of the heirs of the promise.”
But in the original we read:
“In particular, the counsel of God in this place, is the holy, wise purpose of His will, to give His Son Jesus Christ to be of the seed of Abraham, for the salvation of all the elect (I underscore, H.H.), or heirs of promise.”
The omission of “the elect” in this particular place is not only very important, but must also be regarded as intentional.—H.H.
EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, by Arthur W. Pink, Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. Three volumes. Price per volume $4.50, for the set $11.95.
Pink is no stranger to many of our Protestant Reformed people, chiefly because of his emphasis on sovereign grace and unconditional election. In this respect, they will not be disappointed in him when they study his exposition of the gospel according to John. An illustration of his proper emphasis on election and reprobation and, at the same time, of his honest dealing with the text, may be found in his interpretation of:
“‘But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.’ (). Unspeakably solemn was this word. They were reprobates, and now that their characters were fully manifested, the Lord did not hesitate to tell them so. The force of this awful statement is definite and clear, though men in their unbelief have done their best to befog it. Almost all the commentators have expounded this verse as though its clauses had been reversed. They simply make Christ say here to these Jews that they were unbelievers. But the truth is that the Lord said far more than that. The commentators understand ‘the sheep’ to be nothing more than a synonym for born again and justified persons, whereas in fact it is equivalent to God’s elect, as the sixteenth verse of this chapter clearly shows. The Lord did not say ‘Because ye are not of my sheep, ye believe not,” but, ‘Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep.’ …He Christ is not only charging these Jews with unbelief, but He also explains why faith had not been granted unto them—they were not ‘of his sheep’: they were not among the favored number of God’s elect…”
Nevertheless, although Pink maintains and strongly emphasizes the truth of sovereign grace, total depravity, and unconditional election, this ought not to close our eyes to some of the bad features in his commentary. By no means does he always characterize himself as one that deals honestly and soberly with the text. Often he wildly allegorizes, i.e. arbitrarily gives to the text a spiritual meaning which it does not even suggest. Of this I could quote numerous examples, but I will refrain from doing so. Partly, this is, perhaps, due to his premillennial views.
Hence, I recommend these volumes to the reader because they contain much excellent material; but at
the same time, I want to warn the reader to study this commentary critically with a view to its allegorizing and falsely spiritualizing tendency.—H.H.
DE TOEKOMST VAN CRRISTUS, (The Coming of Christ) by Dr. K. Dijk. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen the Netherlands. Price f. 7.50.
This is the third volume of a trilogy. The first volume I discussed some time ago. The second volume I never received, although I would still like to have it. I hereby call the attention of the publisher
to this omission.
In this third volume, the author treats of the return of Christ and the related subjects: the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, everlasting punishment, eternal life, and the giving over of the kingdom Oh the part of Christ to the Father.
In a closing chapter, Dr. Dijk reminds us that it was not his purpose to offer a critical theological treatise on eschatological subjects, but simply to present to his readers whatever Scripture teaches concerning the doctrine of the last things. Judging of the work in this light, i.e, of volumes 1 and 2, I am of the opinion that the author certainly realized his purpose. He certainly let Scripture speak without paying too much attention to all sorts of human philosophies about “the power and coming” of Christ. Besides, Dr. Dijk writes a very lucid style, so that, both as to form and content, I am glad to recommend this work to the general reading public in as far as they are able to read the Holland language.
Of course, this does not mean that I would not differ from Dr. Dijk in the interpretation of some of the Scripture passages quoted and discussed in the book. One of these passages is. Another is that which mentions “the sign of the Son of man in the heavens.” But all these things concern a matter of exegesis, into which we can hardly be expected to enter in detail in a review of this nature.
I heartily recommend this book to our readers. — H.H.