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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 1

 

 

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Verse 1

1.] In many portions (for the usage of πολυμερῶς and of its cognate adj. πολυμερής, we have two passages of Maximus Tyrius, in which πολύτροπος is also conjoined with it: Dissert. xvii. 7, τῇ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ψυχῇ δύο ὀργάνων ὄντων πρὸς σύνεσιν, τοῦ μὲν ἁπλοῦ, ὃν καλοῦμεν νοῦν, τοῦ δὲ ποικίλου καὶ πολυμεροῦς καὶ πολυτρόπου, ἃς αἰσθήσεις καλοῦμεν: and ib. vii. 2, οὐθὲν δεῖ τῆς πολυμεροῦς ταύτης κ. πολυτρόπου μούσης τε καὶ ἁρμονίας: also ib. xxxix. 2, τὸ πολυμερὲς καὶ πολύφωνον τοῦ τῶν σωμάτων πολέμου, ἃς καλοῦμεν νόσους: Plut. de Virt. Mil. p. 757 D, ποικίλον τι δρᾶμα κ. πολυμερές: id. de Invid. et Odio, p. 537 D, τοῦ θεοσίτου ὁ ποιητὴς τὴν μὲν τοῦ σώματος κακίαν πολυμερῶς καὶ περιοδευμένως ἐξεμόρφωσε, τὴν δὲ τοῦ ἤθους μοχθηρίαν συντομώτατα κ. διʼ ἑνὸς ἔφρασεν. Aristotle (in Stephanus, but without a reference) has πολυμερέστατος πόντος, also De Part. Anim. iv. 7.1, τῶν ὀστρακοδέρμων οὐκ ἔστι τὸ σῶμα πολυμερές, and Plato, Tim. Locr. p. 98 D, ὕδατος στοιχεῖον πολυμερέστατον. Hesychius interprets the adj. εἰς πολλὰ μεριζόμενον; and the adverb, πολυσχεδῶς. Hence we may gather the meaning to be ‘in many portions,’ or ‘parts,’ manifoldly as regards the distribution. “Non enim omnia, nec eadem, omnibus prophetis revelata sunt, sed quasi partibus mysteriorum distributis: alia aliis inspirata. Exempli caussa; Jesaiæ, partus virginis et passio Christi: Danieli, tempus adventus ejus: Jonæ, ejusdem sepultura: Malachiæ, adventus præcursoris. Ac rursum aliis plura, aliis pauciora.” Estius. πολυμερῶς says Thdrt., τὰς παντοδαπὰς οἰκονομίας σημαίνει. So that “at sundry times” is not an accurate rendering: nor can it be said as by the schol. in ms. 113, cited by Bleek ( τὸ πολυμερῶς τὸ διάφορον τῶν καιρῶν αἰνίττεται, καθʼ οὓς ἕκαστός τις τῶν προφητῶν μερικήν τινα ἐνεχειρίζετο οἰκονομίαν), Calvin, Bleek, Lünemann, al., to express the meaning: time is a historical condition of the sequence of parts,—persons to whom, an anthropological condition,—but it does not follow that ‘at sundry times,’ or ‘to sundry persons,’ gives the force of ‘in divers parts:’ because it might be the same thing which was revealed again and again. This revelation in portions, by fragments, in and by various persons, was necessarily an imperfect revelation, to which the one final manifestation in and by One Person is properly and logically opposed, without any ἐφάπαξ or ἁπλῶς as Tholuck seems to desiderate in the apodosis) and in divers manners ( ἄλλως γὰρ ὤφθη τῷ ἀβραάμ, κ. ἄλλως τῷ ΄ωυσῇ, κ. ἑτέρως ἡλίᾳ, κ. ἄλλως τῷ ΄ιχαίᾳ. καὶ ἡσαΐας δὲ κ. δανιὴλ κ. ἰεζεκιὴλ διάφορα ἐθεάσαντο σχήματα. Thdrt. Bleek remarks that in Numbers 12:6-8, the diversity of manner of revelation is recognized: dreams and visions being set beneath that open speaking, mouth to mouth, which the Lord used towards His servant Moses. Wetst. cites a remarkable parallel from Eustathius, where, speaking of Odysseus, he says, πολυτρόπως ἀνεγνωρίσθη πᾶσιν οῖς ἦλθεν εἱς γνῶσιν, μηδενὸς αναγνωρισμοῦ συμπεσόντος ἑτέρῳ ἀναγνωρισμῷ τὸ σύνολον· ἄλλως γὰρ τῷ τηλεμάχῳ, ἑτέρως τῇ εὐρυκλείᾳ, ἑτέρως τοῖς δούλοις, ἄλλον δὲ τρόπον τῷ λαέρτῃ, καὶ ὅλως ἀνομοίως ἅπασι. See also ref. It will be seen, that I cannot agree with Chrys. and many others in regarding the two adverbs as a mere rhetorical redundance— τουτέστι διαφόρως. Both set forth the imperfection of the O. T. revelations. They were various in nature and in form: fragments of the whole truth, presented in manifold forms, in shifting hues of separated colour: Christ is the full revelation of God, Himself the pure light, uniting in His one Person the whole spectrum: see below on ἀπαύγασμα.

Kypke, Bleek, and others, have pointed out the mistake of Lambert Bos (Observ. Misc. p. 109), who imagined, from the passage of Max. Tyr. Diss. vii. 2, cited above, that these words were originally applied to music) in time past (generally interpreted of the O. T. period, ending with Malachi. But, as Ebrard well observes, there is no need for cutting off the period there. In the interim between Malachi and the Writer’s time, though the O. T. canon was closed, we cannot say that God’s manifold revelations of Himself had absolutely ceased. Nay, strictly speaking, the Baptist himself belonged to the former, though he pointed on to the latter period. No doubt Bleek is right in denying that he was here in the Writer’s view, and in maintaining that the period of former revelations is here regarded as distinct from the final Christian one: but for all that, we must not put an artificial terminus where he puts none) God having spoken (see the usage of λαλεῖν in this sense in reff. and Bleek, p. 12) to the fathers (see usage in reff. It is evident from this term being common to the Writer and his readers, where no reference is made to Jews in the context (as in Romans 9:5 al.), that he was writing as a Jew and to Jews.

οἱ πατέρες, “qui in carne et in fide nos genuere.” Ps.-Anselm) in (not = διὰ, though it includes it. The readers of Vol. III. of this work need hardly be reminded that such a rendering of ἐν has never been acquiesced in by me. Nor can I concede to any number of Commentators that, as Primasius here,—“Præpositio pro alia præpositione sæpe accipitur, sicut in multis locis epistolæ invenitur his præpositionibus indifferenter uti.” Nor again must we bring in the convenient solution of Hellenism, when we find the same usage in Greek classical writers, and the same inadequacy of explanation of it. In such expressions as λαλεῖν ἐν, viewed irrespectively of the idea of Beza, “Deum quasi prophetis ipsis insidere,” the ἐν designates the element in which the λαλεῖν takes place, and holds therefore its own proper force. That we may be sometimes compelled by English idiom to render it ‘by,’ is possible, though I do not at present recall any instance: certainly such an one does not occur here, where the contrast is much weakened by making it instrumental, instead of conditional. It may be well to state, that this merging of the proper force of prepositions is not confined to those who deal with Greek as a dead language. Chrys. here says, ἐν υἱῷ, διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ φησι.… ὁρᾷς ὅτι καὶ τὸ ἐν, διά ἐστι: similarly Œc., Thl., Primasius (above), and in modern times Luther, Calvin, Grot., al., Reiche, Thol., Ebrard, Delitzsch, al. On the other hand, Thos. Aquinas (in Bl.: “Quod prophetæ non ipsi loquuti sunt ex se, sed Deus loquutus est in eis”), Beza (see above), Gerhard, Calov., Seb.-Schmidt, Owen, Wolf, Bengel (“Ergo Deus ipse erat in prophetis: tum maxime in Filio. Rex mortalis loquitur per legatum: non tamen in legato”), Uhland, Bleek, De W., Lunemann, al. Erasm.-Schmid, al. take ἐν προφήταις to mean, “in the prophetic writings:” but for this there seems no ground, and thus the antithesis would be marred.

The sense contended for above agrees with the expressions of Philo, e. g. De Præm. et Pœn. § 9, vol. ii. p. 417, ἑρμηνεὺς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης, ἔνδοθεν ὑπηχοῦντος τὰ λεκτέα τοῦ θεοῦ. See also De Monarch. i. 9, pp. 221 f.: De Spec. Leg. § 8, p. 343: Quis Rer. Div. Hær. § 53, vol. i. p. 511: all these are cited in Bl.) the prophets (to be taken here apparently in the wider sense,—as including not only those whose inspired writings form the O. T. canon, but all who were vehicles of the divine self-manifestation to the fathers. Thus Enoch in Jude 1:14 is said προφητεῦσαι. Moses is of course included, and indeed would on any view be the chief of those here spoken of, seeing that by him the greater part of God’s revelation of Himself to the fathers was made),—at the end of these days (see var. read. In order to understand this expression, it will be well to call to mind certain Jewish modes of speaking of time. The Rabbis divided the whole of time into הָעוֹלָם הַוֶּה, αἰὼν οὗτος, and הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, αἰὼν ἐρχόμενος, or μέλλων . There has been much learned dispute as to the exact limits of these two:—whether the days of the Messiah, יְמַוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ, were counted in the former or in the latter. Bleek, aft. Witsius, Rhenferd, and Schöttg., has given Rabbinical passages favouring both views. A safe inference from the whole seems to be, that the days of the Messiah were regarded as a period of transition from the former to the latter,—His appearance, as the ushering in of the termination of αἱ ἡμέραι αὗται, the beginning of the end,—and His second coming in glory as the συντέλεια τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων or τοῦ αἰῶνος ( τούτου). And with this, N. T. usage agrees,—see ref. 1 Pet., also James 5:3; Jude 1:18; 2 Peter 3:3. Thus ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμ τούτων would mean, ‘at the end of this age,’ in the technical sense of these words as signifying the whole world-period, the ‘terminus ad quem’ of which is the general Resurrection. And thus is the manifestation of Christ in the flesh ever spoken of, and especially in this Epistle: cf. ch. Hebrews 9:26; and notes on ch. Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 6:5. See, on the whole, Bleek’s note; and Stuart’s, who however has mistaken the meaning, in rendering “during the last dispensation,” and making τούτων to import that the period had already begun. It is not of a beginning, but of an expiring period, the Writer is speaking.

The ancient expositors principally use these words as ground of consolationἐν τούτῳ αὐτοὺς διανίστησι λέγων ὅτι ἡ συντέλεια ἐγγύς. ὁ γὰρ ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι καταμαλακισθείς, ἐπειδὰν ἀκούσῃ τοῦ ἀγῶνος τὸ τέλος, ἀναπνεῖ μικρόν. Thl. aft. Chr.) spake (not “hath spoken:” the ἔσχατον is looked back on as a definite point, at which the divine revelation took place. The attention of the readers is thus directed not so much to the present state in which they are, as to the act of God towards them. Thus, as almost always, the distinction between the aor. and perfect is important) unto us (i. e. all who have heard that voice, or to whom it is to be announced. There is no distinction between those who received God’s revelation immediately from the Son, and those who received it mediately through others. To this latter number belonged the Writer himself, cf. ch. Hebrews 2:3) in (see above) his Son ( υἱῷ without the art. is to be noted, and has been variously explained. The omission would not at any time surprise us after a preposition; but here after ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, we should expect, as an antithesis, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ. Hence we must seek a reason beyond that usual idiomatic omission. Emphatic position will often dispense with the art.: and this may be alleged here. But even thus we do not get at the final cause. If the position of υἱῷ, whenever anarthrous, is emphatic to this extent, it must be for some reason still latent. Some have suggested official denomination, making υἱός into a quasi-proper name. But this again is only an introduction to the final reason. Why is such an anarthrous name here used, as designating our Lord? And thus we come to the word itself, as we must do in all such cases, for our account of the idiom. And that account here seems to be found in the peculiar and exclusive character of that relation to God, which υἱός expresses. We may say, that Jesus is ‘the Son of God:’ by this is definitely enough expressed the fact, and the distinction from other sons of God implied: but we may also say that He is ‘Son of God:’ and we thus give the predicate all fulness of meaning and prominence, and even more emphatically and definitely express the exclusive character of His Sonship. And by this anarthrous appellation does the Writer frequently speak of Him: e. g. ch. Hebrews 7:28, ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν κ. τ. λ.… ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον, υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον: see also Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:8. Nor is the usage confined to him: cf. John 10:36; John 19:7, and in the case of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, John 5:27. So far is this or any other usage of the art. from being “arbitrary,” as Stuart here maintains. I will quote his sentence for a caution to tiros: “After all the rules which have been laid down respecting the insertion or omission of the article in Greek, and all the theories which have been advanced, he who investigates for himself, and is guided only by facts, will find not a little that is arbitrary in the actual use of it. The cases are certainly very numerous, where Greek writers insert or reject it at pleasure.” The direct contrary of this assertion is the fact, and cannot be too much impressed on every Greek Testament student. The rules respecting the art. are rigid, and are constantly observed; and there is no case of its omission or insertion in which there was not a distinct reason in the mind of the Writer,—usually, but not always, discernible by the patient and accurate scholar among ourselves. In this particular case our language, though it allows the predicate in the nominative, ‘Son of God,’ to be used anarthrously, does not allow it to be so used with a preposition, nor in the objective case: so that we are here obliged to take refuge in the nearly equivalent, though not so accurate ‘in His Son.’ To render it ‘in a Son’ would be directly to contravene the logical account of the anarthrousness of the predicate. We might periphrase, ‘in Him who was Son of God.’ We now pass off into a description of the dignity, and person, and work, of this Son of God: which description ends in asserting and proving Him to be higher than angels, the loftiest of created beings),


Verses 1-18

προσ εβραιουσ

——————

Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 2:18.] AFTER MANIFOLD REVELATIONS IN FORMER TIMES, GOD HAS NOW REVEALED HIMSELF TO US IN HIS SON (Hebrews 1:1-4), WHO IS GREATER THAN THE ANGELS, THE DISPENSERS OF THE LAW (Hebrews 1:4-14; inference, Hebrews 2:1-4), THOUGH FOR A TIME HE WAS MADE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, AND SUBJECTED TO SUFFERINGS, IN ORDER TO BE, AS OUR HIGH PRIEST, OUR RECONCILER TO GOD (Hebrews 2:5-18). And herein (Hebrews 1:1-4), introduction and statement of position.

We may notice, 1. The opening of this Epistle without any address, or mention of the Author. Various reasons have been assigned for this, and inferences drawn from it (see Prolegg.). Some have said that the matter to be treated was so weighty, that the Writer merged altogether his own personality, and trusted to the weight of his subject to gain him a hearing. But, as Ebrard remarks, this would not account for entire omission of the name of the man and his standing. He therefore imagines that another shorter letter of a more private nature must have accompanied this. But we may reply, that this idea derives no countenance from the phænomena of the Epistle itself, containing as it does at the end private notices which might well have been dispensed with, if such a commendatory Epistle had accompanied it. We must therefore deal with this circumstance without any such hypothesis to help us. On the supposition of the Pauline authorship, some account may be given of it,—viz. that the name of the Apostle was concealed, from the nature of the relations between himself, and those to whom he was writing (see this hypothesis examined in the Prolegomena). And on the idea of Pauline superintendence, it would obviously admit of the same solution. 2. The carefully balanced and rhetorical style in which the Epistle begins, characteristic indeed of its whole diction (see Prolegg.), but especially marking this first period (Hebrews 1:1-4). The clauses are joined by close grammatical and rhetorical dependence: there is no anacoluthon, no carelessness of construction, but all is most carefully and skilfully disposed.


Verse 2

2.] whom He constituted (aor., not perfect, referring, as also ἐποίησεν, to the ἐν ἀρχῇ—the date of the eternal counsel of God.

τίθημι with this double accusative is commonly reputed a Hebraism. But as Bleek remarks, our Epistle is singularly free from Hebraistic constructions, and there is in fact no reason whatever for deducing our present expression from such a source. Elsner gives from Xen. de Rep. Lac. p. 684, θεὶς τοὺς γέροντας κυρίους τοῦ περὶ τῆς ψυχῆς ἀγῶνος: Arrian. Epict. p. 264, τοιοῦτόν σε θῶμεν πολίτην κορωθίων: Eur. Hec. 722: and Bleek from Xen. Cyr. iv. 6. 2, ὥσπερ ἂν εὐδαίμονα πατέρα παῖς τιμῶν τιθείη) heir ( ἔθηκε κληρονόμον, τουτέστι τοῦτον κύριον ἁπάντων ἐποίησεντῷ δὲ τοῦ κληρονόμου ὀνόματι κέχρηται δύο δηλῶν, καὶ τὸ τῆς υἱότητος γνήσιον, καὶ τὸ τῆς κυριότητος ἀναπόσπαστον. Chrys.: and so Thl. “Convenienter statim sub Filii nomen memoratur hæreditas.” Bengel. That κληρ. is not equivalent to κύριον simply, is plain: the same expression could not, as Bleek well remarks, have been used of the Father. It is in virtue of the Sonship of our Lord that the Father constituted Him heir of all things, before the worlds began. “In Him also,” says Delitzsch, “culminates the fulfilment of the promise given to the seed of Abraham, τὸ κληρονόμον εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου.” See below. See for St. Paul’s use of the word and image, reff.: and Galatians 4:7) of all things (neuter: τουτέστι, τοῦ κόσμου παντός, Chr. And we cannot give this a more limited sense, nor restrict it to this world; especially as the subsequent portion of the chapter distinctly includes the angels in it. It is much disputed whether this heirship of Christ is to be conceived as belonging to Him essentially in his divine nature, or as accruing to Him from his work of redemption in the human nature. The Fathers, and the majority of the moderns, decide for the latter alternative. So Chrys., and even more emphatically Thdrt.: ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος ἤρξατο, καὶ τὰ ταπεινότερα πρῶτον λέγων οὕτως ἅπτεται μειζόνων. κληρονόμος γὰρ πάντων ὁ δεσπότης χριστὸς οὐχ ὡς θεός, ἀλλʼ ὡς ἄνθρωπος. ὡς γὰρ θεός, ποιητής ἐστι πάντων· ὁ δὲ πάντων δημιουργὸς φύσει πάντων δεσπότης. And so the Socinian and quasi-Socinian interpreters, arriving at the same view by another way, not believing the præ-existence of Christ. But it is plain that such an interpretation will not suit the requirements of the passage. For this humiliation of his, with its effects, first comes in at the end of Hebrews 1:3. All this, now adduced, is referable to his essential Being as Son of God; not merely in the Godhead before his Incarnation, but also in the Manhood after it, which no less formed a part of His ‘constitution’ by the Father, than his Godhead itself. So that the ἔθηκεν, as observed above, must be taken not as an appointment in prospect of the Incarnation, but as an absolute appointment, coincident with the σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε, belonging to the eternal Sonship of the Lord, though wrought out in full by his mediatorial work. Delitzsch contends for its exclusive application to the exaltation of Christ in his historical manifestation, beginning with the creation of the world: but I cannot see that he has proved his point), by whom (see ref. John: as His acting Power and personal instrument: so Thl., aft. Chrys.: ἐπειδὴ δὲ αἴτιος ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ υἱοῦ, εἰκότως καὶ τῶν ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ γενομένων· διὰ τοῦτό φησι, διʼ οὗ. ὁ πατὴρ γὰρ δοκεῖ ποιεῖν, ὁ τὸν ποιήσαντα υἱὸν γεννήσας. The idea of Grotius, fortified by a misrendering of Beza’s, Romans 6:4,—that “ διʼ οὗ, per quem, videtur hic recte accipi posse pro διʼ ὅν, propter quem,” is only worth recording, to make us thankful that the labours of the great scholars of Germany have brought in a day when it no longer needs refutation) He also made (created. According to the ancient arrangement of the words, adopted in the text, the word brought into emphasis by καί is not τοὺς αἰῶνας, but ἐποίησεν. And so Bengel, “Emphasis particulæ καί, et, cadit super verbum fecit, hoc sensu: Filium non solum definiit hæredem rerum omnium, ante creationem: sed etiam fecit per eum sæcula”) the ages (the meaning of τοὺς αἰῶνας has been much disputed. The main classes of interpreters are two. 1. Those who see in the word its ordinary meaning of “an age of time;” 2. those who do not recognize such meaning, but suppose it to have been merged in that of “the world,” or “the worlds.” To (1) belong the Greek Fathers: Chrys. (see however note on ch. Hebrews 11:3), Thdrt. ( τοῦτο δηλωτικὸν τῆς θεότητος. οὐ μόνον γὰρ αὐτὸν δημιουργόν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀΐδιον ἔδειξεν· ὁ γὰρ αἰὼν οὐκ οὐσία τίς ἐστιν, ἀλλʼ ἀνυπόστατον χρῆμα, συμπαρομάρτουν τοῖς γεννητὴν ἔχουσι φύσιν. καλεῖται γὰραἰὼνκαὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου συστάσεως μέχρι τῆς συντελείας διάστημα. This he then supports by Matthew 28:20; Psalms 89:8, LXX: Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 2:7; and concludes, αἰὼν τοίνυν ἐστὶ τὸ τῇ κτιστῇ φύσει παρεζευγμένον διάστημα. τῶν αἰώνων δὲ ποιητὴν εἴρηκε τὸν υἱόν, ἀΐδιον αὐτὸν εἶναι διδάσκων, καὶ παιδεύων ἡμᾶς ὡς ἀεὶ ἦν παντὸς οὑτινοσοῦν ὑπερκείμενος χρονικοῦ διαστήματος), Thl. ( ποῦ δέ εἰσιν οἱ λέγαντες, ἦν ὅτε οὐκ ἦν; αὐτὸς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησε, καὶ πῶς ἦν αἰὼν ὅτε οὐκ ἦν αὐτός;), Œc. &c., and Thom. Aquin., and Heinsius. On the other hand, (2) is the view of the majority of Commentators. It is explained and defended at length by Bleek, none of whose examples however seem to me to be void of the same ambiguity which characterizes the expression here. The Jews, it appears, came at length to designate by their phrase הָעוֹלָם הַוֶּה (see above on ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου κ. τ. λ.), not only the present age, but all things in and belonging to it—and so of the “future age” likewise. He produces a remarkable instance of this from Wisdom of Solomon 13:9, εἰ γὰρ τοσοῦτον ἴσχυσαν εἰδέναι, ἵνα δύνωνται στοχάσασθαι τὸν αἰῶνα, τὸν τούτων (of the things in the world) δεσπότην πῶς τάχιον οὐχ εὗρον; He therefore would regard τοὺς αἰῶνας as strictly parallel with πάντα above, and would interpret, “Whom He has constituted lord, possessor and ruler over all, over the whole world, even as by Him He has made all, the universe.” And nearly so Delitzsch, Ebrard, and Lünemann: these two latter adding however somewhat, inasmuch as they take it of all this state of things constituted in time and space. Ebrard says: Die ewige Selbst-offenbarung Gottes in sich, durch das emige Aussprechen seiner Fulle im ewigen personlichen Wort, das Gott zu sich (John 1:1) redet, und im Wehen des Ewigen Geistes, bildet den Grund und somit das Ewige (nicht zeitliche) Prius der vom Willen des Dreieinigen ausgehenden Offenbarung seiner in einer Sphare, die nicht ewig, sondern zeitlich raumlich, nicht Gott, sondern Creatur ist. And this last view I should be disposed to adopt, going however somewhat further still: for whereas Ebrard includes in τοὺς αἰῶνας God’s revelation of Himself in a sphere whose conditions are Time and Space, and so would understand by it all things existing under these conditions, I would include in it also these conditions themselves,—which exist not independently of the Creator, but are His work—His appointed conditions of all created existence. So that the universe, as well in its great primæval conditions,—the reaches of Space, and the ages of Time, as in all material objects and all successive events, which furnish out and people Space and Time, God made by Christ. It will be plain that what has been here said will apply equally to ch. Hebrews 11:3, which is commonly quoted as decisive for the material sense here. Some (Schlichting, al.) have endeavoured to refer τοὺς αἰῶνας, 3. to the new or spiritual world, or the ages of the Messiah, or of the Christian Church: principally in the interests of Socinianism: or, 4. as Sykes and Pyle, to the various dispensations of God’s revelation of Himself: or even, 5. as Fabricius (Cod. Apocr. i. p. 710, Bl.), to the Gnostic æons, or emanations from the Divine Essence, and so to the higher spiritual order of beings, the angels. Against all these, besides other considerations, ch. Hebrews 11:3 is a decisive testimony). It will be seen by consulting the note on John 1:1, how very near the teaching of Philo approached to this creation of the universe by the Son. See, among the quotations in my Vol. I. Edn. 6, p. 679, especially those from Philo, vol. i. p. 106: and that in p. 681 from ib. p. 162. See Isaiah 9:6 Heb. and LXX-A(1) (2).


Verse 3

3.] “The Son of God now becomes Himself the subject. The ‘verbum finitum’ belonging to the relative ὅς is not found till ἐκάθισεν at the end of the verse. But the intermediate participial clauses do not stand in the same relation to the main sentence. The first members, ὢν ἀπαύγασμαδυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, still set forth those attributes of the Son of God which are of a permanent character, and belonging to Him before the Incarnation: whereas the following member, the last participial clause, stands in nearer relation to the main sentence, expressing as it does the purification of mankind from sin, wrought by the incarnate Son of God, as one individual historical event,—as the antecedent of that exaltation of Him to the right hand of God, which the main sentence enounces.” Bleek.

Who (the ὅς represents, it will be evident, rather the præ-existent than the incarnate Logos. But it is perhaps a mistake to let this distinction be too prominent, and would lead to the idea of a change having taken place in the eternal relation of the Son to the Father, when He subjected himself to the conditions of space and time. Even then He could say of himself, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. See Ebrard’s note), being (cf. ὑπάρχων, Philippians 2:6, also of His præ-existent and essential being. This comparison seems decisive against Hofmann, who (Schriftbeweis, i. 140 ff.) takes ὤν and φέρων according to his theory that all the attributes of the Son of God spoken of in the N. T. are adduced in connexion with and as manifested by His work of Redemption. See against this view Delitzsch, h. l. p. 7. But it must also be remembered that ὤν and φέρων are present participles. They must not be rendered utpote qui, or cum esset and ferret, but kept to their essential and timeless sense,—‘being,’ and ‘bearing’) the brightness (effulgentia, not “repercussus, qualis est in nube quæ dicitur παρήλιος,” as Grot., Calv. (“splendor ex illius lumine refulgens,—refulgentia”), al. This latter would be legitimate, but does not seem to have been the ordinary usage. Bl. cites from Philo de Concupiscent. § 11, vol. ii. p. 356, τὸ δὲ ἐμφυσώμενον (Genesis 2:7) δῆλον ὡς αἰθέριον ἦν πνεῦμα καὶ εἰ δή τι αἰθερίου πνεύματος κρεῖττον, ἅτε τῆς μακαρίας καὶ τρισμακαρίας φύσεως ἀπαύγασμα,—where the sense clearly is, that the breath breathed into man was as it were a ray of the divine nature itself. See also id. de Opif. Mund. § 51, vol. i. p. 35; de Plant. Noë, § 12, p. 154. Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 7:26, where wisdom is called an ἀπαύγασμα φωτὸς ἀϊδίου. And this (which, as Delitzsch remarks, is represented by the φῶς ἐκ φωτός of the Church) seems to have been universally the sense among the ancients: no trace whatever being found of the meaning ‘reflexion.’ Nor would the idea be apposite here: the Son of God is, in this his essential majesty, the expression, and the sole expression, of the divine Light,—not, as in his Incarnation, its reflexion. So Thdrt.: τὸ γὰρ ἀπαύγασμα καὶ ἐκ τοῦ πυρός ἐστι, καὶ σὺν τῷ πυρί ἐστι· καὶ αἴτιον μὲν ἔχει τὸ πῦρ, ἀχώριστον δέ ἐστι τοῦ πυρός.… καὶ τῷ πυρὶ δὲ ὁμοφυὲς τὸ ἀπαύγασμα· οὐκοῦν καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τῷ πατρί. (Cf. Athanasius contra Arianos Orat. i. (ii.) § 12, vol. ii. (Migne) p. 328: τίς οὕτως ἐστὶν ἀνόητος, ὡς ἀμφιβάλλειν περὶ τοῦ αἰεὶ εἶναι τὸν υἱόν; πότε γάρ τις εἶδε φῶς χωρὶς τῆς τοῦ ἀπαυγάσματος λαμπρότητος;) And Thl.: καὶ γὰρ τὸ ἀπαύγασμα τῷ ἀπαυγάζοντι συνεμφαίνεται. οὔτε γὰρ ἥλιος ὡράθη ποτὲ χωρὶς ἀπαυγάσματος· οὔτε πατὴρ νοεῖται χωρὶς υἱοῦ. ὅταν οὖν ἀκούσῃς τῶν ἀρειανῶν λεγόντων, ὅτι εἰ ἐκ πατρὸς ὁ υἱός, λοιπὸν ὕστερος αὐτοῦ· ἀντίθες αὺτοῖς, ὅτι καὶ τὸ ἀπαύγασμα ἐκ τοῦ ἡλίου, καὶ οὐχ ὕστερον αὐτοῦ. ἅμα γὰρ ἥλιος, ἅμα ἀπαύγασμα. And Origen, tom. xxxii. in Joann. § 18, vol. iv. p. 450: ὅλης μὲν οὖν οἶμαι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ ὰπαύγασμα εἶναι τὸν υἱόν, κατὰ τὸν εἰπόντα παῦλον ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης· φθάνειν μέντοι γε ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀπαυγάσματος τούτου τῆς ὅλης δόξης μερικὰ ἀπαυγάσματα ἐπὶ τὴν λοιπὴν λογικὴν κτίσιν· οὐκ οἶμαι γάρ τινα τὸ πᾶν δύνασθαι χωρῆσαι τῆς ὅλης δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπαύγασμα, ἢ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ. Hesychius gives as the meaning of ἀπαύγασμα, ἡλίου φέγγος: and the MS. Lexicon of Cyril, ἀκτὶς ἡλίου ἡ πρώτη τοῦ ἡλιακοῦ φωτὸς ἀποβολή. See also Clem-rom. in reff. and several other authorities cited in Bleek) of His glory (not simply His light: nor need ἀπαύγασμα be confined to such literal sense: cf. Clem.-rom. as above. His glory, in its widest and amplest reference.

It has been attempted to give to ἀπ. τῆς δόξης the meaning splendor gloriosus, and to make αὐτοῦ below refer, not to the Father, but to ἀπαύγασμα. But to this Bleek answers after Seb.-Schmidt, that ἀπαύγασμα never is found without a genitive of the ἀπαυγαζόμενον, which genitive here can be no other than τῆς δόξης ( αὐτοῦ, i. e. τοῦ θεοῦ). Again, Owen (vol. i. p. 85 f.) supposes the Shechinah to be alluded to;—Akersloot, the Urim and Thummim. It is hardly probable that in a preliminary description, couched in the most general and sublime terms, any such particular allusion should be intended. Notice again the anarthrous predicate, to which the same remarks will apply as to υἱῷ above.

Delitzsch remarks, Es ist kein nimbus um Gott, welchen, hier δόξα genannt wird, sondern die übersinnliche geistige Feuer und Lichtnatur Gottes selber, welche er, um sich vor sich selbst offenbar zu merden, aus sich herausfeßt) and impress (“figura,” vulg.: “figure,” Wiclif and Rheims: “very image,” Tyndal and Cranmer: “ingraved forme,” Geneva: “express image,” E. V. The word χαρακτήρ, which by formation would be the stamp or die itself on which a device χαράσσεται, and which stamps it on other things, never appears to bear this meaning, but always to be taken for the impression itself so stamped. Thus Æsch. Suppl. 279, κύπριος χαρακτήρ τʼ ἐν γυναικείοις τύποις εἰκὼς πέπληκται τεκτόνων πρὸς ἀρσένων. “Aristot. Œc. ii. p. 689, ἀνενεχθέντος δὲ τοῦ ἀργυρίου ἐπικόψας χαρακτῆρα: id. Pol. i. 6, where χαρακτῆρα ἐπιβάλλειν is to stamp coin, and it is said, ὁ γὰρ χαρακτήρ ἐτέθη τοῦ πόσου σημεῖον. Diod. Sic. xvii. 66, τάλαντα χρυσοῦ, χαρακτῆρα δαρεικὸν ἔχοντα. Hence the word is taken, 1. generally for any fixed and sharply marked lineaments, material or spiritual, by which a person or an object may be recognized and distinguished. Herod. i. 116, ὁ χ. τοῦ προσώπου. Diod. Sic. i. 82, τοὺς τῆς ὄψεως χαρακτῆρας, the lines of the countenance. Lucian, de Amoribus, p. 1061, calls mirrors τῶν ἀντιμόρφων χαρακτήρων ἀγράφους εἰκόνας, and ib. p. 1056, ἧς ὁ μὲν ἀληθῶς χ. ἄμορφος. Demosth. (in Stephan.), ἐν μὲν τοῖς ἐσόπτροις ὁ τῆς ὄψεως, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ὁμιλίαις ὁ τῆς ψυχῆς χαρακτὴρ βλέπεται. Philo, de Mund. Opif. § 4 (vol. i. p. 4), τοὺς χαρακτῆρας ἐνσφραγίζεσθαι, to impress on the mind the lines and forms of an intended city: id. Legg. Allegor. i. § 18 (vol. i. p. 55), ὁ τῆς ἀρετῆς χαρακτήρ, οἰκεῖος ὢν ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ: id. de Mundi Opif. § 23 (p. 15), τὴν δὲ ἐμφέρειαν (the likeness of man to God) μηδεὶς εἰκαζέτω σώματος χαρακτῆρσιν, ib. § 53 (p. 36), τῆς ἑκατέρου φύσεως (viz. of God and the creation) ἀπεμάττετο (scil. man, while he was alone) τῇ ψυχῇ τοὺς χαρακτῆρας:—and, 2. of the objects themselves, on which the features of another are expressed,—which bear its peculiar image, so that they appear as if taken off from it by impression of a die. So Philo, Quod Det. Potiori Ins. § 23 (vol. i. p. 217), designates the πνεῦμα imparted by God to man τύπον τινὰ καὶ χαρακτῆρα θείας δυνάμεως, Moses naming the same εἰκών, to shew ὅτι ἀρχέτυπον μὲν φύσεως λογικῆς ὁ θεός ἐστι, μίμημα δὲ καὶ ἀπεικόνισμα ἄνθρωπος: De Plant. Noë, § 5 (p. 332), he says, Moses named the rational soul τοῦ θείου καὶ ἀοράτου εἰκόνα, δόκιμον εἶναι νομίσας οὐσιωθεῖσαν κ. τυπωθεῖσαν σφραγῖδι θεοῦ, ἧς ὁ χαρακτήρ ἐστιν ὁ ἀΐδιος λόγος. Here the λόγος is designated as the impress of the seal of God, by the impression of which in like manner on the human soul, this last receives a corresponding figure, as the image of the unseen and divine. Compare also Clem.-rom. ad Cor. c. 33, αὐτὸς ὁ δημιουργὸς κ. δεσπότης ἁπάντωντὸνἄνθρωπον ταῖς ἰδίαις αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀμώμοις χερσὶν ἔπλασεν, τῆς ἑαυτοῦ εἰκόνος χαρακτῆρα. Hence the usage of χαρακτήρ here will be easily understood.” Bleek: see also the word in Palm and Rost’s Lex.

καθʼ ἑαυτὸν γάρ, φησίν, ὑφέστηκεν, ὅλον ἐν ἑαυτῷ δεικνὺς πατέρα. τοὺς γὰρ πατρικοὺς περί κειται χαρακτῆρας. τούτῳ ἔοικε τὸ ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου πρὸς τὸν φίλιππον εἰρημένον, ὁ ἑωρακὼς ἐμέ, ἑώρακε τὸν πατέρα μου. Thdrt.) of His substance (substantial or essential being: “substance,” Wicl., Tynd., Cranm., Rheims: “person,” Geneva, and E. V.: Wesen, Luther, &c., De Wette, Bleek, al.: das der Erscheinung unterliegende Wesen, der Wesensgrund, Delitzsch. The various meanings of ὑπόστασις are well traced by Bleek, from whom, as so often in this Epistle, I take the account. Etymologically, the word imports the lying or being placed underneath: and this is put in common usage for, 1. substratum or foundationfundamentum. Diod. Sic. i. 66, ὑπόστασις τοῦ τάφου: id. xiii. 82, κατὰ τὸ μέγεθος τῆς ὑποστάσεως: Ezekiel 43:11, κ. διαγράψεις τὸν οἶκον κ. τὰς ἐξόδους αὐτοῦ κ. τὴν ὑπόστασιν αὐτοῦ: Psalms 68:2, ἐνεπάγην εἰς ἰλὺν βυθοῦ κ. οὐκ ἔστιν ὑπόστασις. Nearly connected with this is, 2. establishment, or the state of being established: hence— α. firmness,—to which idea the word approaches in the last citation: but especially in reference to firmness of spirit, confidence: see more on ch. Hebrews 3:14,— β. substantial existence, reality, in contradistinction to that which exists only in appearance or idea: Aristot. de Mundo iv. 19, τῶν ἐν ἀέρι φαντασμάτων τὰ μέν ἐστι κατʼ ἔμφασιν, τὰ δὲ καθʼ ὑπόστασιν: Artemidor. Oneirocrit. iii. 14, φαντασίαν μὲν ἔχειν πλούτου, ὑπόστασιν δὲ μή: Diog. Laert. ix. 91, ζητεῖται δʼ οὐκ εἰ φαίνεται ταῦτα, ἀλλʼ εἰ καθʼ ὑπόστασιν οὕτως ἔχει: id. vii. 135, καὶ κατʼ ἐπίνοιαν καὶ καθʼ ὑπόστασιν. Hence— γ. generally, consistence or existence. So Philo, de Incorrupt. Mund. § 18, vol. i. p. 505, αὐγὴ ὑπόστασιν ἰδίαν οὐκ ἔχει, γεννᾶται δʼ ἐκ φλογός: Psalms 38:5, καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασίς μου ὡσεὶ οὐθὲν ἐνώπιόν σου: Ps. 88:47, μνήσθητι τίς ὑπόστασίς μου (in both places for the existence of man, Heb. חֶלֶד : hence also, as ὕπαρξις, for possessions or goods, as Deuteronomy 11:6; Jeremiah 10:17). Hence also— δ. it imports the especial manner of being, the peculiar essence of an object. Thus 1 Kings 13:21, τῇ ἀξίνῃ κ. τῷ δρεπάνῳ ὑπόστασις ἦν ἡ αὐτή: Wisdom of Solomon 16:21, ἡ μὲν γὰρ ὑπόστασίς σου ( τ. θεοῦ) τὴν σὴν γλυκύτητα πρὸς τέκνα ἐνεφάνισε. And this last seems to be the best meaning in our place: His essential being, His substance. For in regarding the history of the word, we find that the well-known theological meaning ‘person’ was not by any means generally received during the first four centuries. We have it indeed in Origen, tom. ii. in Joann. § 6, vol. iv. p. 61 ( ἡμεῖς μέντοι γε τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις πειθόμενοι τυγχάνειν, τὸν πατέρα, κ. τὸν υἱόν, κ. τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, κ. τ. λ.): but the usage is by no means constant. The Nicene council itself uses ὑπόστασις and οὐσία in the same sense, and condemns the deriving the Son ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως καὶ οὐσίας from the Father (cited in Bleek, p. 60, note): and so usually (in the genuine works: e. g. Ep. ad Afros, c. 4, vol. ii. (Migne) p. 714: ἡ ὑπόστασις οὐσία ἐστί, καὶ οὐδὲν ἄλλο σημαινόμενον ἔχει ἢ αὐτὸ τὸ ὄν.… ἡ γὰρ ὑπόστασις καὶ ἡ οὐσία ὕπαρξίς ἐστιν. ἔστι γὰρ καὶ ὑπάρχει. See Gieseler, Kirchengesch. i. pt. 2, p. 63) Athanasius. The fact was, that the Easterns most commonly used ὑπόστασις to designate the three separate Persons (cf. e. g. Chrys. de Sacerdot. iv. 4, vol. i. p. 410 A, τὴν μὲν θεότητα πατρὸς κ. υἱ. κ. ἁγ. πν. μίαν ὁμολογοῦντας, προστιθέντας δὲ καὶ τὰς τρεις ὑποστάσεις, &c., and especially Basil, whom Gieseler regards as the representative of this view: Ep. 236. 6, vol. iv. p. 363, οὐσία κ. ὑπόστασις ταύτης ἔχει τὴ διαφοράν, ἣν ἔχει τὸ κοινὸν πρὸς τὸ καθʼ ἕκαστον. See other passages in Gieseler, ubi supra) in distinction from Sabellianism, which acknowledged three πρόσωπα, but not three ὑποστάσεις, i. e. self-subsisting personalities: whereas the Westerns continued to regard ὑπόστασις as = οὐσία, and assumed but one ὑπόστασις: and the Western bishops, assembled with Athanasius at the council of Sardica in 347, distinctly pronounced the assumption of three hypostases heretical, i. e. Arian. Their words, as cited by Suicer from Theodoret, Hist. Eccl. ii. 6, are very decisive: τὸ τῶν αἱρετικῶν σύστημα φιλονεικεῖ, διαφόρους εἶναι τὰς ὑποστάσεις τοῦ πατρός, κ. τοῦ υἱοῦ, κ. τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, κ. εἶναι κεχωρισμένας. ἡμεῖς δὲ ταύτην παρειλήφαμεν κ. δεδιδάγμεθα, κ. ταύτην ἔχομεν τὴν καθολικὴν παράδοσιν κ. πίστιν κ. ὁμολογίαν, μίαν εἶναι ὑπόστασιν, ἣν αὐτοὶ οἱ αἱρετικοὶ οὐσίαν προσαγορεύουσι, τοῦ πατρός, κ. τοῦ υἱοῦ, κ. τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Subsequently however to this, in the Synod assembled at Alexandria in 362, at which Athanasius, and bishops of Italy, Arabia, Egypt, and Libya were present, the Easterns and Westerns agreed, on examination of one another’s meaning, to acknowledge one another as orthodox, and to allow indifferently of the use of τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις signifying ‘Persons,’ and μία ὑπόστασις signifying ‘substance,’ ‘essence,’ οὐσία. The Epistle from this synod to the bishops of Antioch is among the works of Athanasius, vol. ii. p. 615 ff., and is a very interesting document. But it attempted conciliation in vain, the Miletian schism at Antioch, which began on this point, having been confirmed and perpetuated by external causes. See on the whole subject, Bleek’s note: Jerome, Epist. 15 (al. 57) ad Damasum, § 4, vol. i. p. 40; and on the use made of this description by orthodox and heretics in early times, Bleek, Chrys. in loc.: Calvin’s note, where he gives some excellent cautions against the speculative pressing of each expression: “Nam hoc quoque notandum est, non hic doceri frivolas speculationes, sed tradi solidam fidei doctrinam. Quare debemus in usum nostrum hæc Christi elogia applicare, sicuti ad nos relationem habent.”

On all grounds it will be safer here to hold to the primitive meaning of the word, and not to introduce into the language of the apostolic age a terminology which was long subsequent to it), and ( τε couples closely clauses referring to the same subject, and following as matter of course on one another) upholding (we have this sense of φέρειν in reff. and in the later Greek writers, e. g. Plut. Lucull. 6, φέρειν τὴν πόλιν. So in Latin, Val. Max. xi. 8.5, “humeris gestare salutem patriæ:” Cic. pro Flacco, c. 38, “quam (remp.) vos universam in hoc judicio vestris humeris.… judices, sustinetis:” Senec. Ep. 31, “Deus ille maximus potentissimusque vehit omnia.” But the usage is principally found in the Rabbinical writings, as appears from the extracts in Schöttgen,—e. g. Sohar Chadasch, fol. ix. 1, “Creator benedictus portans omnes mundos robore suo ( סובל כל־העלמות בכוהו ),” &c. Chrys. says, φέρων, τουτέστι κυβερνῶν, τὰ διαπίπτοντα συγκρατῶν: and so Thl.: “Sursum tenet, ne decidant, et in nihilum revertantur,” Ps.-Anselm) the universe (the same πάντα as designated by πάντων above: not that the art. expressly refers back to that word, for τὰ πάντα is the ordinary expression for the aggregate of all things. The meaning attempted to be given by some Socinian expositors, “the whole kingdom of grace,” is wholly beside the purpose: see reff., esp. Colossians 1:17, καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν: Job 8:3, τὰ πάντα ποιήσας: Revelation 4:11, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα) by the word (expressed command: cf. ch. Hebrews 11:3, πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ) of his (Whose? His own, or the Father’s? The latter is held by Cyrilalex. contra Julian. viii. vol. ix. p. 259 C, ὡς γὰρ ὁ πάνσοφος γράφει παῦλος· φέρει τὰ π. ἐν τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυν. αὐτοῦ, τοῦ πατρός. And so Grot., al. But Chrys., Thdrt., Thl., and the great body of Commentators understand αὐτοῦ to refer to the Son. That it may do so, it is not necessary to write αὑτοῦ, as is done in the cursive mss. (the uncial MSS. being mostly without accents) and in many modern editions. Bleek in his note (vol. i. p. 69) makes it probable that the abbreviated writing αὑτοῦ for ἑαυτοῦ had not been adopted in the days of the N. T. Even if it had, his rule seems a good one;—that αὑτοῦ should never be written unless in cases where, if speaking in the 1st or 2nd person, we should use ἐμαυτοῦ or σεαυτοῦ,—i. e. never except where emphatic. Now here, supposing the words addressed to the Son, σοῦ and not σεαυτοῦ would evidently be the word used: and consequently in expressing the same sentence in the 3rd person, αὐτοῦ, not αὑτοῦ ( ἑαυτοῦ) ought to be written. The interpretation therefore is independent of this distinction. But the question recurs, which is the right one? The strict parallelism of the clauses would seem to require, that αὐτοῦ here should designate the same person, as it does before, after τῆς ὑποστάσεως. But such parallelism and consistency of reference of demonstrative pronouns is by no means observed in the N. T., e. g. Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 1:22, καὶ καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὺτοῦ (of the Father), … καὶ πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ (of the Son). In every such case the reference must be determined by the circumstances, and the things spoken of. And applying that test here, we find that in our former clause, ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τ. δόξης κ. χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, it is quite out of the question that αὐτοῦ should be reflective, referring, as it clearly does, to another than the subject of the sentence. But when we proceed to our second clause, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥ. τ. δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, we find no such bar to the ordinary reflective sense of αὐτοῦ, but every reason to adopt it as the most obvious. For we have here an action performed by the Son, who φέρει τὰ πάντα. Whereby? τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ: where we may certainly say, 1. that had another than the subject of the sentence been intended, such intention would have been expressed: and, 2. that the assertion would be after all a strange and unexampled one, that the Son upholds all things by the word of the Father’s power. So that, on all accounts, this second αὐτοῦ seems better to be referred to the Son) power (not to be weakened into the comparatively unmeaning τῷ ῥήματι αὐτοῦ τῷ δυνατῷ. His Power is an inherent attribute, whether uttered or not: the ῥῆμα is that utterance, which He has been pleased to give of it. It is a “powerful word,” but much more is here stated—that it is the word of, proceeding from, giving utterance to, His power), having made (the vulg. “faciens” is an unfortunate mistranslation, tending to obscure the truth of the completion of the one Sacrifice of the Lord. The words διʼ ἑαυτοῦ can hardly be retained in the text, in the face of their omission in the three most ancient MSS., joined to their internal character as an explanatory gloss. Dr. Bloomfield’s strong argument in their favour, that they “are almost indispensable,” in fact, pronounces their condemnation. The hypothesis of homœoteleuton suggests itself: but it is hardly likely in so solemn an opening passage, and weighs little against the probability the other way. Meanwhile, the gloss is a good and true one. It was διʼ ἑαυτοῦ, in the fullest sense) purification of sins (as Bleek observes, there is no occasion to suppose the genitive here equivalent to ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, seeing that we may say καθαρίζονται αἱ ἁμαρτίαι τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, as we read, Matthew 8:3, ἐκα θαρίσθη αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα. Sin was the great uncleanness, of which He has effected the purgation: the disease of which He has wrought the cure. This καθαρισμός must be understood by the subsequent argument in the Epistle: for that which the Writer had it in his mind to expand in the course of his treatise, he must be supposed to have meant when he used without explanation a concise term, like this. And that we know to have been, the purifications and sacrifices of the Levitical law, by which man’s natural uncleanness in God’s sight was typically removed, and access to God laid open to him. Ebrard’s note here is so important that, though long, I cannot forbear inserting it:—“ καθαρίζειν answers to the Heb. טִהַר, and its ideal explanation must be sought in the meaning which suits the Levitical cleansing in the O. T.cultus. Consequently, they are entirely wrong, who understand καθαρίζειν of moral amelioration, and would so take καθαρισμὸν ποιεῖν in this place, as if the author wished to set forth Christ here as a moral teacher, who by precept and example incited men to amendment. And we may pronounce those in error, who go so far indeed as to explain the καθαρισμός of the propitiatory removal of the guilt of sin, but only on account of later passages in our Epistle, as if the idea of scriptural καθαρισμός were not already sufficiently clear to establish this, the only true meaning. The whole law of purification, as given by God to Moses, rested on the assumption that our nature, as sinful and guilt-laden, is not capable of coming into immediate contact with our holy God and Judge. The mediation between man and God present in the most holy place, and in that most holy place separated from the people, was revealed in three forms; α. in sacrifices, β. in the Priesthood, and γ. in the Levitical laws of purity. Sacrifices were (typical) acts or means of propitiation for guilt; Priests were the agents for accomplishing these acts, but were not themselves accounted purer than the rest of the people, having consequently to bring offerings for their own sins before they offered for those of the people. Lastly, Levitical purity was the condition which was attained, positively by sacrifice and worship, negatively by avoidance of Levitical pollution,—the condition in which the people was enabled, by means of the priests, to come into relation with God ‘without dying’ (Deuteronomy 5:26); the result of the cultus which was past, and the postulate for that which was to come. So that that which purified, was sacrifice: and the purification was, the removal of guilt. This is most clearly seen in the ordinance concerning the great day of atonement, Leviticus 16. There we find those three leading features in the closest distinctive relation. First, the sacrifice must be prepared (Leviticus 16:1-10): then, the high priest is to offer for his own sins (Leviticus 16:11-14): lastly, he is to kill the sin-offering for the people (Leviticus 16:15), and with its blood to sprinkle the mercy-seat and all the holy place, and cleanse it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel (Leviticus 16:19); and then he is symbolically to lay the sins of the people on the head of a second victim, and send forth this animal, laden with the curse, into the wilderness. For (Leviticus 16:30) ‘on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.’ In the atonement, in the gracious covering ( יְכַפֵּר, Leviticus 16:30 ) of the guilt of sin, consists purification in the scriptural sense. (And so also were those who had become levitically unclean, e. g. lepers, Leviticus 14, cleansed by atoning sacrifices.) So that an Israelitish reader, a Christian Jew, would never, on reading the words καθαρισμὸν ποιεῖν, think on what we commonly call ‘moral amelioration,’ which, if not springing out of the living ground of a heart reconciled to God, is mere self-deceit, and only external avoidance of evident transgression: but the καθαρισμός which Christ brought in would, in the sense of our author and his readers, only be understood of that gracious atonement for all guilt of sin of all mankind, which Christ our Lord and Saviour has completed for us by His sinless sufferings and death: and out of which flows forth to us, as from a fountain, all power to love in return, all love to Him, our heavenly Pattern, and all hatred of sin, which caused His death. To speak these words of Scripture with the mouth, is easy: but he only can say Yea and Amen to them with the heart who, in simple truthfulness of the knowledge of himself, has looked down even to the darkest depths of his ruined state, natural to him, and intensified by innumerable sins of act,—and, despairing of all help in himself, reaches forth his hand after the good tidings of heavenly deliverance.” It is truly refreshing, in the midst of so much unbelief, and misapprehension of the sense of Scripture, in the German Commentators, to meet with such a clear and full testimony to the truth and efficacy of the Lord’s great Sacrifice. And I am bound to say that Bleek, De Wette, Lünemann, and Delitzsch, recognize this just as fully: the two former however referring on further in the Epistle for the explanation of the expression, and holding it premature to specify or explain it here. Observe now again, before passing on, the mistake of the vulgate in rendering ποιησάμενοςfaciens.” The purification is completed, before the action next described takes place: this all seem to acknowledge here, and to find an exception to the ordinary rule that an aorist participle connected with an aorist verb, is contemporary with it. The reason seems to be principally pragmatic—that such session could not well be brought in until such purification had been accomplished: see above), sat down ( καθίζω is always used intransitively in this Epistle, and always of this act of Christ. In fact it is always intransitive in the N. T., except in the two places, 1 Corinthians 6:4, τούτους καθίζετε, and Ephesians 1:20, καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ) on the right hand (‘in the right hand,’ scil. portion or side. The expression comes doubtless originally from Psalms 110:1 (Psalms 109:1), cited below. Bleek, in the course of a long and thorough discussion of its meaning as applied to our Lord, shews that it is never used of his præ-existent coequality with the Father, but always with reference to His exaltation in his humanity after his course of suffering and triumph. It is ever connected, not with the idea of His equality with the Father and share in the majesty of the Godhead, but with His state of waiting, in the immediate presence of the Father, and thus highly exalted by Him, till the purposes of his mediatorial office are accomplished. This his lofty state is, however, not one of quiescence; for (Acts 2:33) He shed down the gift of the Spirit,—and (Romans 8:34) He maketh intercession for us: and below (ch. Hebrews 8:1 ff.) He is, for all purposes belonging to that office, our High Priest in Heaven. This ‘sitting at the right hand of God’ is described as lasting until all enemies shall have been subdued unto Him, i. e. until the end of this state of time, and His own second coming: after which, properly and strictly speaking, the state of exaltation described by these words shall come to an end, and that mysterious completion of the supreme glory of the Son of God shall take place, which St. Paul describes, 1 Corinthians 15:28. On the more refined questions connected with the expression, see Delitzsch’s and Ebrard’s notes here) of majesty ( μεγαλωσύνη, said to belong to the Alexandrine dialect, is often found in the LXX, and principally as referring to the divine greatness: see reff.) on high (in high places, i. e. in heaven. Cf. Psalms 92:4, θαυμαστὸς ἐν ὑψηλοῖς ὁ κύριος, and Psalms 112:5, ὁ ἐν ὑψηλοῖς κατοικῶν: and the singular ἐν ὑψηλῷ, Isaiah 33:5; ἀφʼ ὑψηλοῦ, Isaiah 32:15; Jeremiah 32:30 (Jeremiah 25:30). In the same sense we have ἐν ὑψίστοις, Luke 2:14; Luke 19:38; Job 16:20; ἥλιος ἀνατέλλων ἐν ὑψίστοις κυρίου, Sirach 26:16; and ἐν τοῖς ὑψ., Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:10. Cf. Ebrard: “HEAVEN, in Holy Scripture, signifies never unbounded space, nor omnipresence, but always either the starry firmament, or, more usually, that sphere of the created world of space and time, where the union of God with the personal creature is not severed by sin,—where no Death reigns, where the glorification of the body is not a mere hope of the future. Into that sphere has the Firstling of risen and glorified manhood entered, as into a place, with visible glorified Body, visibly to return again from thence.” There is a question whether the word should be joined with ἐκάθισεν, or with τῆς μεγαλωσύνης: which again occurs at ch. Hebrews 8:1, where we have ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. The strict grammarians contend for the connexion with the verb, on account of the omission of the art. τῆς. But the order of the words in both places makes the other connexion the more natural; and no scholar versed in N. T. diction will object to it. Cf. τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα, Ephesians 6:5, and note, also John 6:32. The omission of the art. here gives majesty and solemnity—its insertion would seem to hint at other μεγαλωσύναι in the background).


Verse 4

4.] having become ( γενόμενος, distinct from ὤν, Hebrews 1:3; that, importing His essential, this, His superinduced state. This is denied by Chrys. ( τὸ γενόμενος ἐνταῦθα ἀντὶ τοῦ ὰποδειχθείς, ὡς ἂν εἴποι τις, ἐστίν), Thl. (but not very clearly: ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀποδειχθείς· ὥσπερ καὶ ὁ ἰωάννης λέγει ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονε· τουτέστιν ἐντιμότερός μου ἀπεδείχθη· οὐ γὰρ δὴ περὶ οὐσιώσεως ἐνταῦθα λέγει), Estius (“Significatur tum Christum angelis majorem effectum, i. e. excrevisse super angelos in hominum estimatione et fide, postquam cœpit sedere ad dexteram Dei”): but they certainly are wrong. For we are now, in the course of the enunciation,—which has advanced to the main subject of the argument, the proving of the superiority of the New Covenant,—treating of the post-incarnate majesty of the Son of God. He WAS all that has been detailed in Hebrews 1:3; He made purification of sins, and sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, and thus BECAME this which is now spoken of. This is recognized by Thdrt., but in a form not strictly exact: κ. τοῦτο δὲ κατὰ τὸ ἀνθρώπειον εἴρηκεν· ὡς γὰρ θεός, ποιητὴς ἀγγέλων κ. δεσπότης ἀγγέλων· ὡς δὲ ἄνθρωπος, μετὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν κ. τὴν εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀνάβασιν κρείττων ἀγγέλων ἐγένετο· ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἐλάττων ἦν ἀγγέλων διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου (ch. Hebrews 2:9). ὥσπερ τοίνυν ἐλάττων ἦν ἀγγέλων ὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἐπειδὴ ἐκεῖνοι μὲν ἀθάνατον ἔχουσι φύσιν, αὐτὸς δὲ τὸ πάθος ὑπέμεινεν, οὕτω μετὰ τὴν εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀνάβασιν κρείττων ἀγγέλων ἐγένετο. To this Bleek very properly objects, that the making this exaltation belong only to Christ’s human nature, and supposing Him to have while on earth possessed still the fulness of the majesty of his Godhead, is not according to the usage of our Writer, nor of the N. T. generally, and in fact induces something like a double personality in the Son of God. The Scriptures teach us, that He who was with God before the creation, from love to men put on flesh, and took the form of a servant, not all the while having on Him the whole fulness of his divine nature and divine glory, but having really and actually emptied himself of this fulness and glory, so that there was not only a hiding, but an absolute κένωσις, a putting off, of it. Therefore His subsequent exaltation must be conceived of as belonging, not to his Humanity only, but to the entire undivided Person of Christ, now resuming the fulness and glory of the Godhead (John 17:5), and in addition to this having taken into the Godhead the Manhood, now glorified by his obedience, atonement, and victory. See Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:6-9; Acts 2:36; 1 Peter 3:21-22. Œcumenius, as an alternative, has given this well: ἢ τὸ γενόμενος οὐκ ἐπὶ σαρκὸς ἐκλάβοις, ἵνα μὴ διαιρεῖν νομισθῇς, ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ ἐν μιᾷ ὑποστάσει προσκυνουμένου, καὶ μετὰ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ. The Son of God before his Incarnation was Head over Creation; but after his work in the flesh He had become also Head of Creation, inasmuch as his glorified Body, in which He triumphs sitting at God’s right hand, is itself created, and is the sum and the centre of creation) so much (reff. Bleek cites from Philo, νομίζοντες ὅσῳ θεὸς ἀνθρώπων διαφέρει κατὰ τὸ κρεῖττον, τοσούτῳ καὶ βασιλείας ἀρχιερωσύνην. Leg. ad Cai. § 36, vol. ii. p. 586. In the classics, the idiom is common enough: see Palm and Rost’s Lex. It is wholly unknown to the writings of St. Paul) better than (the usual word of general and indefinite comparison in our Epistle, whether of Christian with Jewish (ch. Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:23), heavenly with earthly (Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 12:24), eternal with temporal (Hebrews 11:35): see also Hebrews 6:9; Hebrews 7:7; Hebrews 11:40. It is used only three times by St. Paul, and never (unless 1 Corinthians 12:31 rec. be counted) in this sense: but thirteen times in this Epistle. “The Greeks used οἱ κρείττονες, to signify superhuman beings, gods and demi-gods,” Bl. So on κρείττονας, Æsch. fragm. Ætn. 2, Hesych. says, τοὺς ἥρωας. καὶ οἱ θεοὶ δέ. See also Eurip. Orest. 709: Plato, Sophist. p. 216 (cir. init.): and Philo above) the angels (of God: the heavenly created beings; afterwards, Hebrews 1:14, called λειτουργικὰ πνεύ ιατα. All attempts to evade this plain meaning are futile; and proceed on ignorance of the argument of our Epistle, and of the Jewish theology: see some such noticed in Bleek.

But why should the angels be here brought in? and why should the superiority of the Incarnate Son of God to them be so insisted on and elaborated? Bl. gives a very insufficient reason, when he says that the mention of God’s throne brought to the Writer’s mind the angels who are the attendants there. The reason, as Ebrard remarks, lies far deeper. The whole O. T. dispensation is related to the N. T. dispensation, as the angels to the Son. In the former, mankind, and Israel also, stands separated from God by sin; and angels, divine messengers (cf. “the angel of the covenant”), stand as mediators between man and God. And of these there is, so to speak, a chain of two links: viz. Moses, and the angel of the Lord. The first link is a mere man, who is raised above his fellow-men by his calling, by his office, the commission given to him,—and brought nearer to God; but he is a sinner as they are, and is in reality no more a partaker of the divine nature than they are. The second link is the angelic form in which God revealed himself to his people, coming down to their capacity, like to man, without being man. So that Godhead and Manhood approximated to one another; a man was commissioned and enabled to hear God’s words: God appeared in a form in which men might see Him: but the two found no point of contact; no real union of the Godhead and the Manhood took place. Whereas in the Son, God and the Manhood not only approximated, but became personally one. God no longer accommodates Himself to the capacities of men in an angelophany or theophany, but has revealed the fulness of His divine nature in the man Jesus,—in that He, who was the ἀπαύγασμα of His glory, became man. The argument of the Writer necessarily then leads him to shew how both Mediators, the angel of the O. T. covenant, and Moses, found their higher unity in Christ. First, he shews this of the angel or angels (for it was not always one individual angelic being, but various) by whom the first covenant was given: then of Moses, ch. Hebrews 3:4. This first portion is divided into two: Hebrews 1:4-14, in which he shews that the Son, as the eternal Son of God, is higher than the angels (see the connexion of this with the main argument below): then, after an exhortation (Hebrews 2:1-4) founded on this, tending also to impress on us the superior holiness of the N. T. revelation, the second part (Hebrews 2:5-18) in which he shews that in the Son, the manhood also is exalted above the angels (mostly from Ebrard)), in proportion as (see above) he hath inherited (as his own ( γνήσιον): the word κεκληρονόμηκεν being perhaps chosen in reference to the O. T. prophecies, which promised it to Him: see below. The perfect is important, as denoting something belonging to His present and abiding state, not an event wholly past, as ἐκάθισεν above, indicating the first ‘setting himself down:’ though that word might also be used of a permanent state of session, as in κεκάθικεν, ch. Hebrews 12:2) a more distinguished (or more excellent, as E. V. This sense of διάφορος is confined to later writers, as Polybius and Plutarch: e. g. Polyb. vi. 23. 7, ἔχει δʼ αὕτη ( ἡ μάχαιρα) κέντημα διάφορον. So also Symm. in reff. The comparative is found only, besides ref., in Sextus Empir. Phys. i. 218, ὁ δʼ αἰνησίδημος διαφορώτερον ἐπʼ αὐτῶν ἔχρητο ταῖς περὶ τῆς γενέσεως ἀπορίαις. For the construction, see below on παρά) name (to be taken in its proper sense, not understood, with Beza, Calov., al., to mean precedence or dignity; as Hebrews 1:5 shews: whence also we get an easy answer to the enquiry, what name is intended: viz. that of υἱός, in the peculiar and individual sense of the citation there. The angels themselves are called “sons of God,” Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7; Daniel 3:25, and Genesis 6:2 (notwithstanding Ebrard’s denial of this sense: see Delitzsch in loc., Jude 1:6, note, and Proleg. to Jude, § Hebrews 1:11); but the argument here is, that the title ‘SON OF GOD’ is bestowed on Him individually, in a sense in which it never was conferred upon an angel. This view is far more probable than that of Bleek, who thinks that the Writer used only the LXX, in which ἄγγελοι θεοῦ stands in all these places except Genesis 6:2, and there in the alex. MS. and Philo: and that he interpreted Psalms 28:1; Psalms 88:6, of other than the angels. To say nothing of à priori considerations, the canon to be followed in such cases is clearly never to suppose partial knowledge in a sacred writer, except where the nature of the case compels us in common honesty so to do: and here that canon is not applicable. See as a parallel, Philippians 2:9 ff. Still it must be remembered, as Delitzsch beautifully remarks, that the fulness of glory of the peculiar name of the Son of God is unattainable by human speech or thought: it is, Revelation 19:12, an ὄνομα ὃ οὐδεὶς οἶδεν εἰ μἠ αὐτός. And all the citations and appellations here are but fragmentary indications of portions of its glory: are but beams of light, which are united in it as in a central sun. Der uberengelische Name selber, den der aus dem Wege der Geschichte zu Gottes Thron Emporsteigende aus immer zu eigen bekommen, hegt jenseit der begrifflich zersplitternden Sprache der Menschen. Die folgenden Schriftworte find nur wie auswarts weisende Finger-zeige, die uns ahnen lassen, wie herrlich er ist.

Since when has Christ in this sense inherited this name? The answer must not be hastily made, as by some Commentators, that κεκληρονόμηκεν implies the glorification of the humanity of Christ to that Sonship which He before had in virtue of his Deity: e. g. Œc. (altern.): ἡ κληρονομία κυρίως τῶν προσηκόντων γίνεται, ἀλλʼ οὐ τῶν ἠλλοτριωμένων· ἐκληρονόμησεν οὖν, ὅπερ ἄνωθεν ἐνῆν τῷ λόγῳ, τοῦτο πανταχόθεν διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ προληφθεῖσα σάρξ. τί δέ ἐστι τοῦτο; τὸ υἱός,— τὸ λέγεσθαι τὸν τῶν ὅλων θεὸν πατέρα αὐτῆς,— τὸ γεγέννηκά σε. Evidently so partial a reference cannot be considered as exhausting the sense of the Writer. Nor again can we say that it was at the time of His incarnation, though the words of the angel in Luke 1:35, τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς θεοῦ, seem to favour such a reference: for it was especially at His incarnation, that He was made a little lower than the angels, ch. Hebrews 2:9. Rather would the sense seem to be, that the especial name of SON, belonging to Him not by ascription nor adoption, but by his very Being itself, has been ever, and is now, His: inherited by Him, “quâ γνήσιον,” as Chrys. says: the O. T. declarations being as it were portions of the instrument by which this inheritance is assured to Him, and by the citation of which it is proved. Observe, that the κρείττων γενόμενος is not identical with the κεκληρονόμηκεν, but in proportion to it: the triumphant issue of his Mediation is consonant to the glorious name, which is His by inheritance: but which, in the fulness of its present inconceivable glory (see above), has been put on and taken up by Him in the historical process of his mediatorial humiliation and triumph) than (this construction of a comparative with παρά is never found in St. Paul (Romans 14:5, is a somewhat doubtful exception, and ἄλλος παρά occurs 1 Corinthians 3:11), but often in this Epistle; and once in St. Luke (reff.). It occurs in Esdr. 4:35, ἡ ἀλήθεια.… ἰσχυροτέρα παρὰ πάντα: and in Thuc. i. 23: Herod. vii. 103) they.


Verse 5

5.] For (substantiation of διαφορώτερον κεκλ. ὄνομα) to whom of (among) the angels did He (God, the subject of Hebrews 1:1-2; as the subsequent citation shews) ever say (this citation from Psalms 2, has brought up in recent German Commentators the whole question of the original reference of that Psalm, and (as in Bleek) of O. T. citations in the N. T. altogether. These discussions will be found in Bleek, De Wette, and Ebrard. The latter is by far the deepest and most satisfactory: seeing, as he does, the furthest into the truth of the peculiar standing of the Hebrew people, and the Messianic import of the theocracy. Those who entirely or partially deny this latter, seem to me to be without adequate means of discussing the question. Ebrard’s view is, that the Psalm belongs to the reign of David. The objection, that Hebrews 1:6 will not apply to David’s anointing, inasmuch as that took place at Bethlehem in his boyhood, he answers, by regarding that anointing as connected with his establishment on Mount Zion, not as having locally taken place there, but as the first of that series of divine mercies of which that other was the completion. (Even Hupfeld gives up this objection.) He further ascribes the Psalm to that portion of David’s reign when (2 Samuel 8.) Hada-dezer, and many neighbouring nations, were smitten by him: which victories he looked on as the fulfilment to him of Nathan’s prophecy, 2 Samuel 7:8-17. In that prophecy the offspring of David is mentioned in the very words quoted below in this verse, and in terms which, he contends, will not apply to Solomon, but must be referred to the great promised Seed of David. He regards this triumphant occasion as having been treated by the royal Psalmist as a type and foretaste of the ultimate ideal dominion of the ‘Son of David’ over the kings of the earth. But I must refer the reader to his long note, which is well worth reading: and to Bleek’s, in which are several suggestions, valuable as notices of the way in which the present and the future, the political and Messianic ideas, are intermingled in the Psalms. See also Delitzsch, h. l. Even Hupfeld, who denies Messianic reference wherever he can, is obliged to acknowledge that the Psalm “probably applies to no particular king, but is a glorification of the theocratic kingdom in general, with poetic reference to the universal dominion promised to it:” and confesses, that this is in fact the Messianic idea. He also connects the Psalm with the prophecy in 2 Samuel 7. We may observe, that the connexion here of the two, the triumphant expression of the Psalm, and the prophecy of Nathan, is a strong presumption in favour of Ebrard’s view), Thou (the seed of David, anointed in God’s counsels as king on His holy hill of Sion: see above) art my Son (according to the promise presently to be quoted, finding its partial fulfilment in Solomon, but its only entire one in the Son of David who is also the Son of God), I (emphatic: ‘I and no other:’ expressed also in the Hebrew) this day have begotten thee (First, what are we to understand by γεγέννηκα? Bleek says, “As Sonship, in the proper sense, is dependent on the act of begetting, so may, especially by the Hebrews, ‘to beget’ be figuratively used to express the idea of ‘making any one a son,’ in which derived and figurative reference this also may be meant. And we get an additional confirmation of this meaning from Jeremiah 2:27, where it is said of the foolish idolatrous Israelites, τῷ ξύλῳ εἶπαν ὅτι ὁ πατήρ μου εἶ σύ, καὶ τῷ λίθῳ σὺ ἐγέννησάς με. Accordingly, the meaning here is,—‘I have made Thee my son’ (so Psalms 89:20; Psalms 89:26-27; ‘I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: … He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father.… Also will I make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth’):—namely, by setting Thee on the throne of my people: and the σήμερον will most naturally be referred to the time of the anointing of the King on Zion, as the act whereby he was manifested as Son of God in this sense.” And so Calvin, whom Bl. cites, in his comm. on Psalms 2.: “David genitus a Deo fuit, dum clare apparuit ejus electio. Itaque adverbium hodie tempus illud demonstrationis notat, quia, postquam innotuit creatum divinitus regem, prodiit tanquam nuper ex Deo genitus.” The above remarks seem pertinent and unobjectionable, as long as we regard them as explaining the supposed immediate reference to David and present circumstances: but it is plain that, according to the above view of Psalms 2, and indeed to the usage of the N. T., in applying this passage to our Lord, we want another and a higher sense in which both words, γεγέννηκα and σήμερον, may be applicable to Him: a sense in which I should be disposed to say that the words must in their fulness of meaning be taken, to the neglect and almost the obliteration of that their supposed lower reference. For, granting the application of such sayings to our Lord, then must the terms of them, suggested by the Holy Spirit of prophecy, which is His testimony, bear adequate interpretations as regards His person and office. It has not therefore been without reason that the Fathers, and so many modern divines, have found in this word γεγέννηκα the doctrine of the generation of the Son of God, and have endeavoured, in accordance with such reference, to assign a fitting sense to σήμερον. As the subject is exceedingly important, and has been generally passed over slightly by our English expositors, I shall need no apology for gathering from Bleek and Suicer the opinions and testimonies concerning it. 1. One view refers σήμερον to the eternal generation of the Son, and regards it as an expression of the “nunc stans, as they call it” (Owen) of eternity. Thus Origen very grandly says, in Joann. tom. i. 32, vol. iv. p. 33: λέγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ᾧ ἀεί ἐστι τὸ σήμερον· οὐκ ἔνι γὰρ ἑσπέρα θεοῦ, ἐγὼ δὲ ἡγοῦμαι, ὅτι οὐδὲ πρωΐα, ἀλλʼ ὁ συμπαρεκτείνων τῇ ἀγενήτῳ καὶ ἀϊδίῳ αὺτοῦ ζωῇ, ἵνʼ οὕτως εἴπω, χρόνος ἡμέρα ἐστὶν αὐτῷ σήμερον, ἐν ᾗ γεγέννηται ὁ υἱός· ἀρχῆσγενέσεως αὐτοῦ οὕτως οὐχ εὑρισκομένης, ὡς οὐδὲ τῆς ἡμέρας. And so Athanasius (de Decret. Nicæn. Syn. § 13, vol. i. p. 172, adv. Arian. iv. § 24, vol. ii. (Migne) p. 503), Basil (contra Eunom. ii. 24, vol. i. p. 260), Aug(3) (on the Psalm: “Quanquam etiam possit ille dies in prophetia dictus videri, quo Jesus Christus secundum hominem natus est: tamen hodie quia præsentiam significat, atque in æternitate nec præteritum quidquam est, quasi esse desierit, nec futurum, quasi nondum sit, sed præsens tantum: quia quidquid æternum est, semper est: divinitus accipitur secundum id dictum Ego hodie genuite, quo sempiternam generationem virtutis et sapientiæ Dei, qui est unigenitus Filius, fides sincerissima et catholica prædicat”), Primasius, Thom. Aq.; of the Commentators on this place, Thl. ( οὐδὲν ἓτερον δηλοῖ ἢ ὃτι ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ἐξ οὗ ἐστιν ὁ πατήρ. ὥσπερ γὰρ ὢν λέγεται ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος καιροῦ, οὗτος γὰρ μάλιστα ἁρμόζει αὐτῷ, οὕτω καὶ τὸ σήμερον): and so Corn.-a-lap., Est., Calov., Seb.-Schmidt, Schöttg., al. 2. A second, to the generation, in time, of the Incarnate Son of Man, when Jesus assumed the divine nature on the side of his Manhood also: so Chrys. (curiously enough using the illustration from ὤν, which Thl. afterwards, copying verbatim from him, turns to the opposite purpose: ὥσπερ δὲ ὤν λέγεται κ. τ. λ. as above under Thl. to ἁρμόζει αὐτῷ· οὕτω καὶ τὸ σήμερον ἐνταῦθά μοι δοκεῖ εἰς τὴν σάρκα εἰρῆσθαι), Thdrt. ( οὐ τὴν αἰώνιον δηλοῖ γέννησιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν τῷ χρόνῳ συνεζευγμένην. And even more expressly on the Psalm: ταύτην δέ τὴν φωνὴν οὐκ ἄν τις τῇ τοῦ θείου πνεύματος διδασκαλίᾳ πειθόμενος, τῇ θεότητι προσάψοι τοῖ δεσπότου χριστοῦ), Euseb., Cyr.-alex., Greg.-nyss. (see these in Suicer), Œc., Kuinoel, Stuart, &c. 3. A third, to the period when Jesus was manifested to men as the Son of God, i. e. by most, to the time of the Resurrection, with reference to Acts 13:33, where St. Paul alleges this citation as thus applying (so, recently, Delitzsch): by some, to that of the Ascension, when He was set at the right hand of God and entered on His heavenly High-priesthood (ch. Hebrews 5:5): so Hilary (on the Psalm, § 30, vol. i. p. 48, “Id quod nunc in psalmo est, Filius meus es tu, hodie genui te, non ad virginis partum, neque ad lavacri generationem, sed ad primogenitum ex mortuis pertinere apostolica autoritas est:” and again, “Vox ergo hæc Dei patris secundum Apostolum (Acts l. c.) in die resurrectionis exstitit”), Ambrose (de Sacr. iii. 3, vol. iii. p. 362: “Pulchre autem Pater dixit ad Filium: ‘Ego hodie genui te,’ hoc est, quando redemisti populum, quando ad cœli regnum vocasti, quando implesti voluntatem meam: probasti meum esse te Filium”), Calv. (“Frivola Augustini argutia est, qui hodie æternum et continuum fingit. Christus certe æternus est Dei filius, quia sapientia ejus est ante tempus genita. Sed hoc nihil ad præsentem locum, ubi respectus habetur ad homines, a quibus agnitus fuit Christus pro filio Dei postquam eum Pater manifestavit. Hæc igitur declaratio, cujus etiam Paulus meminit ad Romans 1:4, species fuit æternæ (ut ita loquar) generationis. Nam arcana illa et interior quæ præcesserat, hominibus fuit incognita, nec in rationem venire poterat, nisi eam Pater visibili revelatione approbasset”), Grot. (the Resurrection is “initium gloriæ Christi”), al.: Schlichting and the Socinians generally, Storr, Sack, Hengstenberg, &c. Owen also takes the same view (“The eternal generation of Christ, on which His filiation or sonship, both name and thing, doth depend, is to be taken only declaratively, and that declaration to be made in His resurrection, and exaltation over all, that ensued thereon”). Of these interpretations, I agree with Bleek that the first is that which best agrees with the context. The former verses represent to us the Son of God as standing in this relation to the Father before the worlds: and Hebrews 1:6, which plainly forms a contrast to this Hebrews 1:5 as to time, treats distinctly of the period of the Incarnation. It is natural then to suppose that this verse is to be referred to a time prior to that event. And he also remarks, that the sense of σήμερον thus adopted is by no means foreign to the Alexandrine theology: Philo, de Profugis, § 11, vol. i. p. 554, says, σήμερον δέ ἐστιν ὁ ὰπέραντος καὶ ἀδιεξίτητος αἰών. μηνῶν γὰρ καὶ ἐνιαυτῶν κ. συνόλως χρόνων περίοδοι δόγματα ἀνθρώπων εἰσὶν ἀριθμὸν ἐκτετιμηκότων, τὸ δὲ ἀψευδὲς ὄνομα αἰῶνος ἡ σήμερον. And in Leg. Allegor. iii. § 8, vol. i. p. 92, ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας, τουτέστιν ἀεί. ὁ γὰρ αἰών ἅπας τῷ σήμερον παραμετρεῖται· μέτρον γὰρ τοῦ παντὸς χρόνου ὁ ἡμέριος κύκλος)? and again (how is the ellipsis here to be supplied? Probably, καὶ ( τίνι εἶπεν ποτὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων) πάλιν: or perhaps πάλιν (see below on Hebrews 1:6) merely serves to introduce a fresh citation), I will be to him as (‘for:’ so the LXX often for the Heb. הָיָה לְ : e. g. in the citation, ch. Hebrews 8:10. The more ordinary Greek construction would be as in Leviticus 26:12, κ. ἔσομαι ὑμῶν θεός, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μοι λαός) a father, and he shall be to me as (for) a son (the citation is from the LXX, as usual. It occurs in the prophecy of Nathan to David, respecting David’s offspring who should come after him. The import of it has been above considered, and its connexion with Psalms 2. shewn to be probable. The direct primary reference of the words to Solomon, 1 Chronicles 22:7-10, does not in any way preclude the view which I have there taken of their finding their higher and only worthy fulfilment in the greater Son of David, who should build the only temple in which God would really dwell. See Bleek in loc., who fully recognizes this further and Messianic reference)?


Verses 5-13

5–13.] Proof from Scripture of this last declaration.


Verse 6

6.] But ( δέ, because a further proof, and a more decisive one as regards the angels, is about to be adduced) when He again (or, ‘when again He’? Does πάλιν introduce a new citation, or does it belong to εἰσαγάγῃ, and denote a new and second introduction? This latter view is taken by many, principally the ancient expositors, Chrys., Thl., (not Thdrt. appy.,) Ambr(4), Œc., Anselm, Thos. Aquin., &c., and lately by Tholuck, De Wette, Lünemann, and Delitzsch,—interpreting the ‘second introduction’ diversely: some, as His incarnation, contrasted with His everlasting generation, or His creating of the world, which they treat as His first introduction: so Primasius, al.: others (Wittich, Surenhus., Peirce, al.), as His resurrection, contrasted with His incarnation: others (Greg.-nyss. contra Eunom. ii. vol. ii. p. 504 ed. Migne, Corn.-a-lap., Camerar., Gerhard, Calmet, Estius, Mede, Tholuck, De Wette, Lünemann, Delitzsch, Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis, i. p. 151, al.), to His second coming, as contrasted with His first. The other view supposes a transposition of the adverb πάλιν, = πάλιν δέ, ὅταν εἰσαγάγῃ. And this is taken by the Syr., Erasm., Luth., Calv., Beza, Cappellus, Schlichting, Grot., Hammond, Owen, Bengel, Wolf, Kuin., al. Bleek discusses the question, and adopts this meaning: Ebrard sets it down as certain, and congratulates himself on being “spared the fruitless trouble of deciding which are the two introductions.” But I think we shall find the matter not quite so clear, nor so easily to be dismissed. The two passages of Philo adduced by Bleek (after Carpzov) for the transposition of πάλιν, do not touch the present construction. They are, ὁ δὲ πάλιν ἀποδιδράσκων θεὸν.… φησιν, Leg. Alleg. iii. 9, vol. i. p. 93: and ἡ δὲ πάλιν θεὸν ἀποδοκιμάζουσα κ. τ. λ. ib. Now in both of these, as Lünemann has pointed out, the contrary suppositions have preceded: ὁ δὲ νοῦν τὸν ἴδιον ἀπολείπωνὁ δὲ πάλιν ἀποδιδρ. κ. τ. λ.: ἡ μὲν γὰρ τὸν ἐπὶ μέρους, τὸν γεννητὸν κ. θνητὸν ἀπολιποῦσα.… ἡ δὲ πάλιν κ. τ. λ.: and consequently in both, πάλιν has the meaning of e contra, and necessarily stands after the subject of the sentence, as δέ would: and as we find it repeatedly in Plato, e. g. Gorg. § 83, νῦν δὲ πάλιν αὖθις (or αὐτὸς) ταὐτὸν τοῦτο ἔπαθε: Laches, § 22, νῦν δʼ αὖ πάλιν φαμὲν κ. τ. λ.: Rep. x. § 11, ἐπειδὴ τοίνυν κεκριμέναι εἰσίν, ἐγὼ πάλιν ἀπαιτῶ κ. τ. λ. Now manifestly no such meaning can here have place (notwithstanding that Storr and Wahl so give it): nor can I find any analogous instance in prose of a transposition of πάλιν in its ordinary sense. In this Epistle, when it is joined to a verb, it always has the sense of ‘a second time:’ e. g. ch. Hebrews 4:7; Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 6:6. This being the case, I must agree with those who join πάλιν with εἰσαγάγῃ. And of the meanings which they assign to the phrase πάλιν εἰσαγ., I conceive the only allowable one to be, the second coming of our Lord to judgment. See more below) hath (‘shall have:’ this rendering, the ‘futurus exactus,’ is required by grammar: cf. the same verb in Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11, καὶ ἔσται ἡνίκα ἐὰν ( ὡς ἂν) εἰσαγάγῃ σε κύριος ὁ θεός σου εἰς τὴν γῆν τῶν χαναναίων κ. τ. λ.: Luke 17:10, ὃταν ποιήσητε πάνταλέγετε, “when ye shall have done,” &c.: Matthew 21:40, ὅταν ἔλθῃ ὁ κύριος …, τί ποιήσει; See numerous other instances cited in Winer, § 42.5. It would certainly appear from all usage that the present rendering is quite inadmissible) introduced (in what sense? See some of the interpretations above. But even those who hold the trajection of πάλιν are not agreed as to the introduction here referred to. Some hold one of the above-mentioned meanings, some another. I have discussed the meaning fully below, and gathered that the word can only refer to the great entering of the Messiah on His kingdom. At present, the usage of εἰσάγειν must be considered. It is the ‘verbum solenne’ for the ‘introducing’ the children of Israel into the land of promise, the putting them into possession of their promised inheritance: see Exod. above, and indeed Exod., Levit., Num., Deut., passim: also Ps. 77:54. It is sometimes used absolutely in this sense: e. g. Exodus 23:23, εἰσάξει σε πρὸς τὸν αμοῤῥαῖον κ. χετταῖον κ. τ. λ. We have it again in Nehemiah 1:9, of the second introduction, or restoration of Israel to the promised land. The Prophets again use it of the ultimate restoration of Israel: cf. Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 36:24; Ezekiel 37:21; Zechariah 8:8. This fact, connected with the circumstances to be noted below, makes it probable that the word here also has this solemn sense of ‘putting in possession of,’ as of an inheritance. The sense ordinarily given, of ‘bringing into the world,’ the act of the Father corresponding to the εἰσέρχεσθαι εἰς τὸν κόσμον (ch. Hebrews 10:5) of the Son, appears to be unexampled. Estius remarks, “Juxta hunc sensum (that given above) magis apparet ἐνέργεια vocis ‘introducere:’ quatenus ea significatur id quod jurisperiti vocant inducere seu mittere in possessionem”) the firstborn (only here is the Son of God so called absolutely. It is His title by præ-existence, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, Colossians 1:15 (where see the word itself discussed):—by prophecy, Ps. 88:27, πρωτότοκον θήσομαι αὐτόν, ὑψηλὸν παρὰ τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τῆς γῆς:—by birth, Luke 2:7, see also Matthew 1:18-25 :—by victory over death, Colossians 1:18, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν: Revelation 1:5 :—and here, where he is absolutely ὁ πρωτότοκος, it will be reasonable to regard all these references as being accumulated—Him, who is the Firstborn,—of the universe, of the new manhood, of the risen dead. And thus the inducting Him in glory into His inheritance is clothed with even more solemnity. All angels, all men, are but the younger sons of God, compared to HIM, THE FIRSTBORN) into the earth (not = κόσμον, ch. Hebrews 10:5; the ‘inhabited earth:’ and very frequently used by the LXX in prophetic passages, where the future judgments of God on mankind are spoken of. Cf. Ps. 9:8; 95:13: Isaiah 10:23; Isaiah 13:5; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 14:26; Isaiah 24:1 al. fr., and see below on the citation. The usage would not indeed be decisive against referring the words to Christ’s entrance into the human nature, but is much more naturally satisfied by the other interpretation), He (i. e. God, the subject of Hebrews 1:5) saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him—(there are two places from which these words might come; and the comparison of the two will be very instructive as to the connexion and citation of prophecy. 1. The words themselves, including the καί, which has no independent meaning here; come from Deuteronomy 32:43, where they conclude the dying song of Moses with a triumphant description of the victory of God over His enemies, and the avenging of His people. It will cause the intelligent student of Scripture no surprise to find such words cited directly of Christ, into whose hand all judgment is committed: however such Commentators as Stuart and De Wette may reject the idea of the citation being from thence, because no trace of a Messianic reference is there found. One would have imagined that the words οὔτε ἔστιν ὃς ἐξελεῖται ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν μου, occurring just before, Deuteronomy 32:39 (cf. John 10:28), would have prevented such an assertion. But those who see not Christ every where in the Old Testament, see Him no where. The fact of the usual literal citation of the LXX by our Writer, decides the point as far as the place is concerned from which the words are immediately taken. But here a difficulty arises. The words in the LXX, Deuteronomy 32:43, εὐφράνθητε οὐρανοὶ ἅμα αὐτῷ, καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ, do not exist in our present Hebrew text. It is hardly however probable, that they are an insertion of the LXX, found as they are (with one variation presently to be noticed) in nearly all the MSS. The translators probably found them in their Heb. text, which, especially in the Pentateuch, appears to have been an older and purer recension than that which we now possess. It is true that (5) (6) have here υἱοὶ θεοῦ, and in the third clause of the verse ἄγγελοι θεοῦ: while the Ed-vat. reads as here. But our Writer cites from the Alexandrine text: and it has been noticed that the Alexandrine MS. itself in a second copy of this song, subjoined to the Psalter, reads ἄγγελοι, only prefixing to it οἱ. And Justin Martyr, Dial. 130, p. 222, quotes the words as here. 2. The other passage from which they might come is Psalms 96:7, where however they do not occur verbatim, but we read προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ. This, especially the omission of the καί, which clearly belongs to the citation, is against the supposition of their being taken from thence: but it does not therefore follow that the Psalm was not in the sacred Writer’s mind, or does not apply to the same glorious period of Messiah’s triumph in its ultimate reference. Indeed the similarity of the two expressions of triumph is remarkable, and the words in the Psalm must be treated as a reference to those in Deut. at least in the LXX rendering, for the Heb. seems rather (as Delitzsch in loc.) to regard the gods of the heathen nations (“Worship Him, all ye gods”). As a corroboration of the view, that the Psalm was in the Writer’s mind, it may be mentioned, that in introducing the description of the divine Majesty in Hebrews 1:4, we read ἔφαναν αἱ ἀστραπαὶ αὐτοῦ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ. Ebrard denies the reference to the Psalm, but has some valuable remarks on the Messianic import of the passage in Deut. See also the whole subject and context of it set forth in Delitzsch.

προσκυνέω classically governs the accus. Some exceptions are found in which it has a dat., e. g. Hippocrates, Præcept. i. p. 29, κακοτροπίῃ προσκυνεῦντες: and more among the later authors, and in Philo and Josephus. See Bernhardy, Synt. p. 113 and 266, and Kypke on Matthew 2:8).


Verse 7

7.] And (with reference) indeed to ( πρός as in reff.: but not exactly correspondent in the two cases πρὸς τ. ἀγγέλους and πρὸς τ. ἀγγέλους: the fact being, as Bl., that πρός with a person, after λέγειν and similar verbs, implies direction of the saying towards the person, usually by direct address, but sometimes by indirect reference. So Bengel here: “Ad angelos indirecto sermone, ad filium directo sermone:” μέν, corresponding to δέ below) the angels He (God) saith, Who maketh his angels winds (see below) and his ministers a flame of fire (the citation is after the LXX according to the Alexandrine MS., which indeed commonly agrees with the citations in this Epistle. And as the words stand in the Greek, the arrangement and rendering of them is unquestionably as above (see this argued below). But here comes in no small difficulty as to the sense of the original Hebrew. It stands thus: after stating, Hebrews 1:2-3, that God takes light for His raiment, and the heavens for a tent, and the clouds for a chariot, we read, עֹשֶׂה מַלְאָכָיו רוּחוֹה מְשָֽׁרְתָיו אֵשׁ לֹהֵט, Hebrews 1:4 . And it is usually contended that these words can only mean, from the context, “who maketh the winds his messengers, and flames of fire his servants.” But, granting that this is so, the argument from the context can only be brought in as subsidiary to that from the construction of the passage. And it will be observed that in this verse the order of the Hebrew words is not the same as that in the former verses, where we have הַשָּׂם עָבִים רְכוּבוֹ, “who maketh clouds his chariots.” For this transposition those who insist as above have given no reason: and I cannot doubt that the LXX have taken the right view of the construction: that מַלְאָכָיו is the object, and רוּחוֹת the predicate, and so in the other clause: and that the sense is, “who maketh his messengers winds, his servants flames of fire,” whatever these words may be intended to import. And this latter enquiry will I imagine be not very difficult to answer. He makes his messengers winds, i. e. He causes his messengers to act in or by means of the winds; his servants flames of fire, i. e. commissions them to assume the agency or form of flames for His purposes. It seems to me that this, the plain sense of the Hebrew as it stands, is quite as agreeable to the context as the other. And thus the Rabbis took it, as we see by the citations in Schöttgen and Wetstein. So Schemoth Rabba, § 25, fol. 123. 3: “Deus dicitur Deus Zebaoth, quia cum angelis suis facit quæcumque vult. Quando vult, facit ipsos sedentes, Jude 1:6; Jude 1:11. Aliquando facit ipsos stantes, Isaiah 6:2. Aliquando facit similes mulieribus, Zechariah 5:9. Aliquando viris, Genesis 18:2. Aliquando facit ipsos spiritus, Psalms 104:4. Aliquando ignem, ib.:” and many other Rabbinical testimonies. The construction maintained above is also defended by Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, i. p. 283, and proved to be the only admissible one by Delitzsch, whose commentary has been published since this note was written. The only accommodation of the original passage made by the Writer, is the very slight one of applying the general terms “His messengers” and “His servants” to the angels, which indeed can be their only meaning. And this I should be bold to maintain, even though it be against Calvin (“Locus quem citat, videtur in alienum sensum trahi … nihil certius est quam hic fieri mentionem ventorum quos dicit a Domino fieri nuntios … nihil hoc ad angelos pertinet”), Kuinoel (“Verum enimvero Psalmi l. l., de angelis, tanquam personis, sermo esse non potest”), De Wette (on the Psalm: Sinn: er bedient sich der Winde u. Feuerflammen als seine Wertzeuge: von Engeln als himmlischen Wesen ist hier gar nicht die Rede), Bleek, Ebrard, Lünemann, al. See the whole literature of the passage in the three last. Singularly enough, the ancient Commentators confine their attention to the part. ποιῶν, and seem simply to have taken the accusatives as epithets in apposition: e. g. Chrys.: ιδού, ἡ μεγίστη διαφορά· ὅτι οἱ μὲν κτιστοί, ὁ δὲ ἄκτιστος· κ. διὰ τί πρὸς μὲν τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ φησιν· ὁ ποιῶν, πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, διὰ τί οὐκ εἶπεν, ὁ ποιῶν; Similarly Thl. and Thdrt. (on the Psalm also). The sense of the words I have endeavoured to give in some measure above. It is evident that πνεύματα must be rendered winds, not “spirits:” from both the context in the Psalm and the correspondence of the two clauses, and also from the nature of the subject. πάντες εἰσὶν πνεύματα, as asserted below, Hebrews 1:14; therefore it could not with any meaning be said, that He maketh them spirits): but to (that this πρός is used of direct address, and not, as Delitzsch, al., of indirect reference, is manifest by ὁ θρόνος σου following: see also above. The difficulty mentioned by Ebrard, that thus we shall have the Writer implying that Psalms 45 is a direct address to the Son of God, is not obviated by the indirect understanding of πρός, but is inherent in the citation itself, however the preposition is rendered) the Son,—Thy throne, O God ( ὁ θεός is probably vocative: both here and in the Hebrew: and is so taken even by modern Unitarians (see Yates, Vindication of Unitarianism, p. 183, and notes), who seek their refuge by explaining away θεός. To suppose the words a parenthetical exclamation to God, or the meaning “Thy God-like Throne,” or “Thy throne of God” (see De W. in Psal.), i. e. ‘the throne of Thy God,’ seems forcing them from their ordinary construction. The rendering of Grot., adopted by some modern Socinians, “Thy throne is God for ever and ever,” is not touched by any of the principal Commentators on the Psalm, and seems repugnant to the decorum (for Ps. 72:26, ἡ μερίς μου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, is no case in point, the idea being wholly different) and spirit of the passage. I need hardly adduce instances of with a nom. as a form of the vocative: they will be found in the reff.) (is) for ever and ever (see Ps. 103:5; 110:3, 8, 10; and fuller still Hebrews 9:5, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κ. εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος); and (see var. readd.

Hofmann, Schriftbeweis i. 148, maintains that this καί, splitting as it does the citation into two, is intended by the Writer to mark off the former portion as addressed to Jehovah, and the latter only to the King, as indicated by ὁ θεός σου. But, as Delitzsch well replies, he would thus be cutting asunder the thread of his own argument, which depends on the address to the Son as ὁ θεός, as exalting Him above the angels) the rod (i. e. sceptre: see especially Esther 4:11; Judges 5:14 (see Bertheau in loc.): Amos 1:5 (this latter in Heb. and E. V., not in LXX), where the same Heb. word שֵׁבֶט occurs) of thy kingdom is the rod of straightness (i. e. righteousness, justice: see reff. to LXX. Notice that the position of ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος in all probability, according to usage, points it out as the predicate; and the other, ἡ ῥ. τ. β. σου, is the subject). Thou lovedst (the Writer refers the words to the whole life of our Lord on earth, as a past period) righteousness, and hatedst lawlessness (in (7) (8) &c. (see var. readd.) and in LXX-A, iniquity: which is therefore very probably the right reading, but is hardly strongly enough attested): for this cause (as διό, Philippians 2:9; because of His love of righteousness and hatred of lawlessness, shewn by his blameless life and perfect obedience on earth. Some take διὰ τοῦτο here, and עַל־כֵּן in the Psalm, as introducing not the consequence, but the reason of what has preceded: so Aug(9) Enarr. in Psalms 44. § 19, vol. iv. pt. i., “Propterea unxitte, ut diligeres justitiam, et odires iniquitatem:” Thos. Aq., Schöttgen, al. In Hebrews 1:2 of the same Ps. the same ambiguity occurs: and there Bl. pronounces the sense to be decidedly “because” and not “therefore,” which latter however the E. V. has, and De W. without remark: and so also Aug(10) But the sense in both places seems decidedly ‘therefore,’ and not ‘because:’ the eternal blessing of Hebrews 1:2, and the anointing with the oil of gladness here, being much more naturally results of the inherent beauty and merit of the high Person addressed, than means whereby these are conferred) God, thy God (many Commentators of eminence, both ancient and modern, maintain that the first ὁ θεός here is as before, vocative. Some of them use the strongest language on the point: e. g. Aug(11) on the Psalm,—with regard to the Greek: “O tu Deus, unxit te Deus tuus. Deus unguitur a Deo. Etenim in Latino putatur idem casus nominis repetitus: in Græco autem evidentissima distinctio est, quia unum nomen est quod compellatur et alterum ab eo qui compellat, unxit te Deus. O tu Deus, unxit te Deus tuus: quomodo si diceret, Propterea unxit te o tu Deus, Deus tuus. Sic accipite, sic intelligite, sic in Græco evidentissimum est.” And it is also assumed by Thl. ( ὅτι δὲ τὸ ὁ θεός, ἀντὶ τοῦ ὦ θεέ ἐστι, μάρτυς ἀξιόπιστος ὁ ἐχθρὸς σύμμαχος, ἐκδοὺς οὕτω· διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέ σε, θεέ, ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον χαρᾶς παρὰ ἑταίρους σου), Ps-Anselm (“Sicut et in Hebræo et Græco patet, primum nomen Dei vocativo casu intelligendum est, sequens nominativo”), Wolf, Bengel, Kuinoel, De Wette, Bleek, Lünemann, Stier, Ebrard, &c. The last goes so far as to say that the Heb. will not bear the construction of the two nominatives in apposition: “It is impossible that אֱלֹהֶיךָ can be in apposition with אֱלֹהִים: even in a vocative address, such a juxtaposition would be foreign to the spirit of Hebrew idiom: certainly here in a nominative sentence, or connexion of subjects, such a redundance would be the more out of place, that an emphasis of this kind would be entirely aimless and uncalled for.” But against such a dictum I may set the simple fact that, in a vocative sentence, the apposition does occur in Psalms 43:4 (42. LXX), both in the Heb. and in the Gr.— אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהָי, ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός μου, “O God, my God:” and in a nominative sentence again, with the very same words as here, in Psalms 50:7 (Psalms 49:7), אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֶיךָ אָנֹכִי, ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός σου εἰμὶ ἐγώ, “I am God, (even) thy God.” See also Psalms 57:7 (Psalms 56:7), ὁ θεός, ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, “God, (even) our God.” So that I confess I am unable to see the necessity of interpreting either the Hebrew or the Greek in the way proposed. I take both as giving two nominatives in apposition, ‘God, thy God.’ And so Origen appears to have taken it, Contra Cels. vi. § 79, vol. i. 692, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισε καὶ αὐτοὺς ὁ θεός, ὁ θεὸς τοῦ χριστοῦ, ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως (Chrys. and Thdrt. do not touch it), Grot., Estius (Calvin does not touch it), Owen, al. Delitzsch leaves it undecided, conceding that the vocative acceptation is inconsistent with the usage of the “Elohimpsalmen,” but balancing this by the consideration that the sense would be consistent with the usage of references to the Messiah, as Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 11:2) anointed thee (how? and when? We must distinguish this anointing from the ἔχρισεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς πνεύματι ἁγίῳ κ. δυνάμει of Acts 10:38, and the ἔχρισέν με of Isaiah 61:1. For it is a consequent upon the righteous course of the Son of God in his Humanity, and therefore belongs to his triumph, in which He is exalted above his μέτοχοι (see below). Again the ‘oil of gladness’ below seems rather to point to a festive and triumphant, than to an inaugurative unction. We should therefore rather take the allusion to be, as in Psalms 23:5; Psalms 92:10, to the custom of anointing guests at feasts: so that, as the King in the Psalm is anointed with the oil of rejoicing above his fellows, because of his having loved righteousness and hated iniquity, so Christ, in the jubilant celebration of His finished course at his exaltation in heaven, is anointed with the festive oil παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους αὐτοῦ (see below). There is of course an allusion also in ἔχρισεν to the honoured and triumphant Name χριστός) with ( χρίω is found with a double accus. in the N. T. and LXX (reff.); usually elsewhere with a dative. But, as Bl. remarks, the construction is in accordance with Greek idiomatic usage. He compares Aristoph. Acharn. 114, ἵνα μή σε βάψω βάμμα σαρδιανικόν: Pind. Isthm. vi. 18, πίσω σφε δίρκας ἁγνὸν ὕδωρ) oil of rejoicing (see above: oil indicative of joy, as it is of superabundance: cf. Isaiah 61:3) beyond thy fellows (i. e. in the Psalm, “other kings,” as De W., Ebrard, al.: hardly “brothers by kin” (other sons of David), as Grot., al. But to whom does the Writer apply the words? Chrys. says, τίνες δέ εἰσιν οἱ μέτοχοι, ἀλλʼ ἢ οἱ ἄνθρωποι; τουτέστι, τὸ πνεῦμα οὐκ ἐκ μέτρου ἔλαβεν ὁ χριστός: Thdrt., μέτοχοι δὲ ἡμεῖς καὶ κοινωνοὶ οὐ τῆς θεότητος, ἀλλὰ τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος: and so Bengel, citing ὡραῖος κάλλει παρὰ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, Hebrews 1:2 (3) of this Psalm. Thdrt. on the Psalm (Bl.), Calvin (“Nos sibi adoptavit consortes”), Beza, al., think of believers, the adopted into God’s family: Wittich, Braun, Cramer (in Bl.), of the high-priests, prophets, and kings, in the O. T., anointed as types of Christ: Klee, of all creatures: Kuinoel and Ebrard, as in the Psalm, of other kings. Camero says, “ μετόχους in officio nullos, in natura humana omnes homines, in gratia omnes fideles habet Christus.” Still we may answer to all these, that they do not in any way satisfy the requirements of the context. Were it the intent of the Writer to shew Christ’s superiority over his human brethren of every kind, we might accept one or other of these meanings: but as this is not his design, but to shew His superiority to the angels, we must I think take μετόχους as representing other heavenly beings, partakers in the same glorious and sinless state with Himself, though not in the strict sense, His ‘fellows.’ De Wette objects to this sense, that the Writer places the angels far beneath Christ: Delitzsch, that the angels are not anointed, whereas there is no necessity in the text for understanding that the μέτοχοι are also anointed: the παρά may consist in the very fact of the anointing itself:—and Ebrard, speaking as usual strongly, says that “neither the Psalmist, nor our author if in his senses, could have applied the word to the angels.” But this need not frighten us: and we may well answer with Lünemann, “1. that the general comparison here being that of Christ with the angels, the fresh introduction of this point of comparison in Hebrews 1:9 cannot of itself appear inappropriate. 2. Granted, that just before, in Hebrews 1:7, the angels are placed far beneath Christ,—we have this very inferiority here marked distinctly by παρά. 3. The angels are next to Christ in rank, by the whole course of this argument: to whom then would the Writer more naturally apply the term μέτοχοι, than to them?” I may add, 4. that the comparison here is but analogous to that in Hebrews 1:4, of which indeed it is an expansion: and, 5. that thus only can the figure of anointing at a triumphant festival be carried out consistently: that triumph having taken place on the exaltation of the Redeemer to the Father’s right hand and throne (Hebrews 1:8), when, the whole of the heavenly company, His μέτοχοι in glory and joy, being anointed with the oil of gladness, His share and dignity was so much greater than theirs. This meaning is held by Peirce, Olshausen, Bleek, Lünemann. Some, as Grot., Limborch, Böhme, Owen, join the interpretations—“angels and men.” Certainly, if the former, then the latter; but these are not present in the figure here used). It remains that we should consider the general import, and application here, of Psalms 45. From what is elsewhere found in this commentary, it will not be for a moment supposed that I can give in to the view of such writers as De Wette and Hupfeld, who maintain that it was simply an ode to some king, uncertain whom, and has no further reference whatever. Granting that in its first meaning it was addressed to Solomon (for to him the circumstances introduced seem best to apply, e. g. the palace of ivory, Hebrews 1:9, cf. 1 Kings 10:18; the gold from Ophir, Hebrews 1:10, cf. 1 Kings 9:28; the daughter of Tyre with her gift, Hebrews 1:13, cf. 2 Chronicles 2:3-16),—or even, with Delitzsch, to Joram, on his marriage with the Tyrian Athaliah,—we must yet apply to it that manifest principle, without which every Hebrew ode is both unintelligible and preposterous, that the theocratic idea filled the mind of the Writer and prompted his pen: and that the Spirit of God used him as the means of testifying to that King, who stood veritably at the head of the theocracy in the divine counsels. Thus considered, such applications as this lose all their difficulty; and we cease to feel ourselves obliged in every case to enquire to whom and on what occasion the Psalm was probably first addressed. And even descending to the low and mere rationalistic ground taken by De Wette and Hupfeld, we are at least safer than they are, holding as we do a meaning in which both Jews and Christians have so long concurred, as against the infinite diversity of occasion and reference which divides their opinions of the Psalm.


Verse 10

10.] And ( πρὸς τὸν υἱὸν λέγει: see a similar καί introducing a new citation in Acts 1:20. The comma, or colon, or capital letter, as in text, should be retained after καί),—Thou in the beginning (Heb. לְפָנִים . ad faciem, antea; probably here rendered κατʼ ἀρχάς by the LXX with reference to Genesis 1:1. The expression is found in Philo, and often in the classics: cf. Herod. iii. 153, 159, and instances in Wetst.; and see Kühner, Gr. Gr. § 607.1), Lord ( κύριε has no word to represent it in the Hebrew. But it is taken up from אֵלִי in Genesis 1:25; and indeed from the whole strain of address, in which יְהֹוָה has been thrice expressed—in Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:12; Genesis 1:15. The order of the words in this clause is somewhat different in our text from that of the LXX in either of the great MSS.; (12) having κατʼ ἀρχὰς τὴν γῆν, σύ, κύριε, α κατʼ ἀρχὰς σύ, κύριε, τὴν γῆν, and (13) omitting σὺ κύριε. The transposition has apparently been made from the alex. text, and for the sake of throwing the κύριε into emphasis. On the bearing and interpretation of the Psalm, see below), foundedst (“A primis fundamentis terram fecisti, et simul eam firmam et stabilem fundasti.” Corn.-a-lap., in Bleek, who remarks that the verb יָסַד, θεμελιόω, is not so usual of the heavens, as of the earth. Still in Psalms 8:3, we have the Greek verb ἐθεμελίωσας, applied to the heavens: but the Heb. is כּוֹנָֽנְתָּה ) the earth, and the heavens (“Nil obstat,” says Bengel, “quominus sub cœlis angeli innuantur, quemadmodum creatio hominis innuitur sub terra prætereunte.” The same thought is implied in Theodoret’s διὰ γὰρ οὐρανοῦ κ. γῆς πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς περιέλαβεν. Still, I would rather view the citation as made in proof of the eternal and unchangeable power and majesty of the Son, than as implicitly referred to the angels by the word οὐρανοί. And so most Commentators. The plur. οὐρανοί, representing the Heb. שָׁמַיִם, evidently includes in the Greek also the idea of plurality: see Ephesians 4:10 ; 2 Corinthians 12:2) are works of thine hands (see Psalms 8:3. Bl. mentions an opinion of Heinrichs that the ἔργα τῶν χειρ. alludes to textile work, the heavens being considered as a veil spread out. But there does not seem sufficient warrant for this).


Verse 11

11.] They (seems most naturally to refer to οί οὐρανοί immediately preceding. There is no reason in the Psalm why the pronoun should not represent both antecedents, the heavens and the earth. Here, however, the subsequent context seems to determine the application to be only to the heavens: for to them only can be referred the following image, ὡσεὶ περιβόλαιον ἑλίξεις αὐτούς) shall perish (as far as concerns their present state, cf. ἀλλαγήσονται below. ἐδήλωσε καὶ τῆς κτίσεως τὴν ἐπὶ τὸ κρεῖττον μεταβολὴν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ γεννησομένην, αὐτοῦ δὲ τὸ ἄναρχον καὶ ἀνώλεθρον. Thdrt. On this change, see the opinions of the Fathers in Suicer, vol. ii. pp. 151–2, 365, and 520 B), but thou remainest (Bleek prefers the fut. διαμενεῖς, see var. readd., on the ground of the verbs being all future in the Heb. text. But perhaps the consideration alleged by Lünemann, that the Writer, using only the LXX, seems to place σὺ δὲ διαμένεις and σὺ δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς εἶ as parallel clauses, is of more weight than the other. De Wette, on the Ps., renders the Hebrew verbs present: Dieselben vergehen, doch du bestehest. δια μένω, as in reff. and Ps. 118:90, ἐθεμελίωσας τὴν γῆν καὶ διαμένει. The preposition gives the sense of endurance through all changes): and they all shall wax old as a garment (see besides reff. Isaiah 51:6, ἡ δὲ γῆ ὡς ἱμάτιον παλαιωθήσεται: ib. Isaiah 50:9; and Sirach 14:17, πᾶσα σὰρξ ὡς ἱμάτιον παλαιοῦται), and as a mantle ( περιβόλαιον (reff.) is a word of unusual occurrence, found principally in the later classics; but also in Eurip. Herc. Fur. 549, θανάτου περιβόλαιʼ ἀνήμμεθα, and 1269, σαρκὸς περιβόλαια ἡβῶντα. It, as περιβολή, Genesis 49:11, signifies any enveloping, enwrapping garment) shalt thou fold them up (the Heb. here and apparently some copies of the LXX have the same verb as below: תַּחֲלִיפֵם וִיַחֲלֹפוּ,— ἀλλάξεις αὐτοὺς καὶ ἀλλαγήσονται,—“thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed.” See also var. readd. here. LXX-A (not F.), with which to the end of the Epistle;—it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon;—nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are—(1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798,—Apocalypse, 1800,—Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico,—published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20)1. The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).">(14) (15) agree, reads as our text: and there can be little doubt that the Writer of this Epistle followed that text as usual. Grot. thinks ἑλίξεις has come into the Greek text from ref. Isa., ἑλιγήσεται ὁ οὐρανὸς ὡς βιβλίον. See also ref. Rev.), and they shall be changed (viz. as a mantle is folded up to be put away when a fresh one is about to be put on. Bleek quotes, as illustrating the idea, Philo de Profug. § 20, vol. i. p. 562, ἐνδύεται δὲ ὁ μὲν πρεσβύτατος τοῦ ὄντος λόγος ὡς ἐσθῆτα τὸν κόσμον· γῆν γὰρ καὶ ὓδωρ καὶ ἀέρα καὶ πῦρ κ. τὰ ἐκ τούτων ἐπαμπίσχεται): but Thou art the same (Heb. וְאַתָּה הוּא, “and Thou art He:” viz. He, which Thou hast ever been: cf. Isaiah 46:4 Heb. and E. V. Bleek compares Philo, de Profug. § 11, p. 554: ἥλιος γὰρ οὐκ ἀλλαττόμενος ὁ αὐτός ἐστιν ἀεὶ κ. τ. λ.), and thy years shall not fail (Heb., “Thy years end not,” are never completed: so LXX render the same verb תָּמַם by ἐκλείπειν, Ps. 103:35: 1 Kings 16:11; (4) 2 Kings 7:13, &c.). The account to be given of Psalms 102 seems to be as follows: according to its title it is “a prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.” It was probably written during the Babylonian exile (cf. 2 Kings 1:14-15) by one who “waited for the consolation of Israel.” That consolation was to be found only in Israel’s covenant God, and the Messiah Israel’s deliverer. And the trust of Israel in this her Deliverer was ever directed to the comfort of her sons under the immediate trouble of the time, be that what it might. As generations went on, more and more was revealed of the Messiah’s office and work, and the hearts of God’s people entered deeper and deeper into the consolation to be derived from the hope of His coming. Here then we have this sorrowing one casting himself on the mercy of the great Deliverer, and extolling His faithfulness and firmness over, and as distinguished from, all the works of His hands. To apply then these words to the Redeemer, is to use them in their sense of strictest propriety. See Delitzsch’s note, where the whole matter is discussed.


Verse 13

13.] But (the contrast is again taken up from Hebrews 1:8. δέ is often found after the second word of a sentence and even later, when a preposition begins it: so κατὰ πόλεις δέ, Herod. viii. 68. 2: ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι δέ ἀθηναῖοι, Thuc. i. 6:.… οὐχ ὑπὸ ἐραστοῦ δὲ κ. τ. λ., Plato, Phædr. 227 D: ξὺν τύχῃ δὲ πρόσφερε, Soph. Philoct. 764: πρὸς κακῶν δʼ ἀνδρῶν μαθών, ib. 959: ἐν νυκτὶ δυσκύμαντα δʼ ὠρώρει κακά, Æsch Agam. 653. See also other cases without the prepositional construction, in Klotz ad Devar. p. 379: Hartung, Partikellehre, i. p. 190: the account to be given being, that the particle may be thus postponed, whenever for any reason the previous words can be considered as one) to whom of the angels hath He (God, as before) ever said, Sit thou on my right hand (see above on Hebrews 1:3. The phrase ἐκ δεξιῶν is not found in classical writers: but we have in Diod. Sic. iv. 56, τὴν γῆν ἔχοντας ἐξ εὐωνύμων. It is very common of standing or sitting or being on the right hand of another, in Hellenistic Greek: see reff.) until I place thine enemies (as) a footstool ( ὑποπόδιον, a word of later Greek, found in Athenæus, v. p. 192 E, ὁ γὰρ θρόνος.… ἐλευθέριός ἐστι καθέδρα σὺν ὑποποδίῳ: and xii. p. 514 f., Sextus Empir., al. The allusion is to the custom of putting the feet on the necks of conquered enemies, see Joshua 10:24 f.) of thy feet? Hardly any Psalm is so often quoted in the N. T. with reference to Christ, as Psalms 110. And no Psalm more clearly finds its ultimate reference and completion only in Christ, as even those confess, e. g. Bleek and De Wette, who question its being immediately addressed to Him at first: and regard the argument of our Lord to the Pharisees, founded on this place, as merely one ‘ex concesso.’ On the theocratic principle of interpretation, there is not the slightest difficulty in the application of the words directly to Him who is (and was ever regarded, even in David’s time, as Ebrard well shews against Bleek) Israel’s King, the Head and Chief of the theocracy.

And see this further carried out in the note on ch. Hebrews 5:6. Delitzsch, in loc., has devoted several pages to the discussion of the subject and arrangement of the Psalm.


Verse 14

14.] Are they not all (all the angels) ministering (in reference probably to λειτουργούς in Hebrews 1:7. The word λειτουργικός, not found in the classics, is used in the LXX (reff.) of any thing pertaining to the λειτουργοί or their service; the instruments, vessels, garments, or offerings for the ministry: here, of those devoted to or belonging to the ministry of God) spirits (unembodied beings, even as God Himself, but distinguished by the epithet λειτουργικά. The idea of “angels of service” or “of the ministry,” is familiar to the Rabbis: see quotations in Wetstein) sent forth (mark the present participle, so also in ref. Rev.: he does not mean that angels have before now, in insulated cases, been sent forth, but that they are ever thus being sent forth,—it is their normal work and regular duty through all the ages of time) for ministry (in order to the ministration which is their work. The E. V. “sent forth to minister for them,” gives a wrong idea of the meaning. The διακονία is not a waiting upon men, but a fulfilment of their office as διάκονοι of God. See Romans 13:4. Schlichting observes, “Noluit dicere, ut ministrent iis qui &c. Non enim proprie ministratur et servitur illis, qui imperandi aut jubendi jus nullum habent, licet ministerium alteri præstitum in alterius commodum sæpe suscipiatur atque vertatur. Angeli proprie ministrant Deo et Christo, sed tamen in piorum usum et commodum. Idcirco maluit dicere, propter eos” &c. It may fairly be questioned whether the same idea, that of ‘ministering to God in behalf of,’ is not to be traced in such expressions as εἰς διακονίαν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἔταξαν ἑαυτούς, 1 Corinthians 16:15; εἰς διακονίαν πέμψαι τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, Acts 11:29. Compare with this expression Colossians 1:7, πιστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν διάκονος τοῦ χριστοῦ) on behalf of those who are about to inherit salvation ( σωτηρία, in the highest sense—eternal salvation: not, as Kuin., al. “deliverance from dangers:” in so solemn a reference, that meaning would be quite beside the purpose. Those spoken of are the elect of God, they who love Him, and for whom all things work together for good, even the principalities and powers in heavenly places. And if it be said, that the ministration of angels has often been used for other immediate purposes than the behoof of the elect, we may answer, that all those things may well come under the διακονία διὰ τοὺς μέλλ. κληρον. σωτηρίαν: for all things are theirs; and for them, in and as united to Christ, all events are ordered)? Thus the Son of God is proved superior to the angels—i. e. to the highest of created beings: who, so far from being equal with Him, worship Him, and serve His purposes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-1.html. 1863-1878.


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Friday, July 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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