Book Reviews

Book Review: Christ Above All (Adrio König)

Hebrews is a very difficult book. You need to know the Old Testament well to understand Hebrews, as well as how Jesus fulfills the biblical storyline, as well as how the NT interprets the OT, as well as how Christians are to live today (to mention a few perks of this epistle). Is it possible to write a short book on such a difficult letter? In the Lexham Press’ Transformative Word Series (edited by Craig Bartholonew and David Beldman), Adrio König, (former?) Professor of Systematic Theology at Unisa in South Africa, wrote this book so that you could know the biblical message of Hebrews and its doctrinal issues (p. vii).

We don’t know the author of Hebrews (probably not Paul). We don’t know who the audience was. Hebrews has negative views of the Old Testament. (So, should we reject it? No.) It warns believers about losing their salvation, which can be very disturbing. Yet Hebrews also gives us a wonderful picture of Jesus, our brother (Heb 2:10-18) and high priest (4:14). In fact, he is “greater than” the angels, Moses, Joshua, the OT priests, he brings a better covenant, and he offers a better (and bigger) sacrifice in a better sanctuary.

Chapters Two through Four cover the magnificence of Christ, who took on human flesh to save us. Christ is without sin, both human and divine. God meant us to be his image, but only Jesus walked in that way perfectly. Chapter Four looks specifically at how Jesus is better than the priests, the temple, how he acquits us from Adam’s sin, and more. König compares the new covenant with the Abrahamic covenant.

Chapter Five covers the NT’s use of the OT. Hebrews isn’t negative to the OT, only to certain aspects of it. Yes, the sacrifices couldn’t take away sins. Yes, the law made nothing perfect. But Hebrews has a positive view of the OT too. Hebrews 11 gives us a “hall of faith” of those who kept the faith. However, Christ has come and offered a much better sacrifice in a better sanctuary as a greater High Priest. If these believers let go of Christ, they might as well let go of the OT because those sacrifices wouldn’t do anything for them. But doesn’t that mean we should just let go of the OT completely? Does it have any worth on its own? It seems in the OT times that the sacrifices were actually the means to atonement, yet the author of Hebrews states, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4). König writes, “It [the text] does not say that only afterward did it become apparent” that the sacrifices couldn’t cleanse the Israelites. So what does the author mean? König leaves it ambiguous and offers six questions at the end of the chapter to aid discussion.

Chapter Six asks if grace can be lost and considers the six warning passages. König does a great job of looking at both arguments over whether or not salvation can be lost without giving his own opinion on the matter. He looks at what Hebrews has to say about falling from grace, warnings not to fall away, examples which illustrate the warnings, and exhortations to persevere. Chapter Seven looks at the unforgivable sin and how it relates to losing one’s salvation in Hebrews. Though I’m don’t really agree with the connections König makes, it would make for a lively group discussion!

Recommended?

This is a good book for a group discussion on Hebrews. In such a short book, König provides a deep look at Hebrews without giving all the answers. He wants you to actually discuss Hebrews not just be spoonfed the “answers.” Yet you need not read this book in a study group. You can read it alone and still benefit from it, answering the questions at the end of the chapter on your own. König helps you sit, soak up, and actually think about the depths of Hebrews.

Lagniappe

  • Series: Transformative Word Series
  • Author: Adrio König
  • Publisher: Lexham Press (May 29, 2019)
  • Paperback: 112 pages

Buy this from Amazon or Lexham Press!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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