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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 12

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] Wherefore ( τοιγαροῦν is an earnest and solemn inference, only found at the beginning of a sentence. “ τοι,” says Delitzsch, “affirms the conditions of fact, γάρ grounds on them, οὖν follows thereupon; so that the whole amounts to an earnest ergo”) we also (as well as those just enumerated) having so great a cloud (see below) of witnesses surrounding us (in order to understand μαρτύρων aright, we must bear in mind both the similitude here used, and the connexion with the preceding chapter. “Hic versus totus constat vocibus agonisticis,” says Hammond. And this being so, who can help referring this cloud of witnesses which surrounds us to the agonistic scene which is depicted, and regarding them as lookers on while our race is run? Whoever denies such reference, misses, it seems to me, the very point of the sense. But even thus we have not exhausted the meaning of μάρτυρες. It is improbable, as Delitzsch well observes, that the Writer should have used the word μάρτυρες so closely upon μαρτυρηθέντες, ch. Hebrews 11:39, without any reference to that idea. See also Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:4-5. So that we can hardly help giving to ‘witnesses’ a sense not confined to their looking on upon us, but extending to their ethical condition of witnesses for the faith. But we may notice, that Delitzsch in contending for this double sense, has in fact a triple reference of the word to justify: they are borne witness to, they have their μαρτυρία, ch. Hebrews 11:5; and by this they become μάρτυρες: and they carry out that office in being witnesses of our conflict here below. Böhme (cited by Del.) remarks, that this manifold reference of the word has been the reason why the Writer has not written μάρτυρες τῆς πίστεως or the like. And now the propriety of the other words used at once appears. νέφος, not only an immense multitude ( νέφος μιμούμενον τῇ πυκνότητι, Thdrt.: cf. ἅμα δὲ νέφος εἵπετο πεζῶν, ref. Hom.: τοῖον ἑλλάνων νέφος ἀμφί σε κρύπτει, ref. Eur.), and that number as it were pressing us all around as the spectators did the combatants in the circus ( περικείμενον, see reff. τουτέστι, πάντοθεν ἡμᾶς περιέχον, Thl.),—but also fitly compared to a cloud from the fact of its being above us, they looking on from that heavenly bliss which they entered at Christ’s triumph. So that the words must be taken as distinctly so far implying community between the church triumphant and the church below, that they who have entered into heavenly rest are conscious of what passes among ourselves. Any interpretation short of this leaves the exhortation here tame and without point. If they are merely quasi-witnesses, merely witnesses in a metaphor, the motive, as far as this clause supplies one, is gone. The Greek expositors generally regard μαρτύρων as referring only to their having witnessed for the faith. So Chrys., ἐμαρτύρησαν τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ μεγαλειότητι: Thdrt., πλῆθος τοσοῦτονμαρτυρεῖ τῇ δυνάμει τῆς πίστεως: Thdr.-mops., μαρτύρων ἐνταῦθα οὐ τῶν πεπονθότων λέγει, ἀλλὰ τῶν μαρτυρούντων πρὸς τὴν πίστιν. Most of the moderns take this meaning (even Lünemann); others that of martyrs, rejected above by Thdr.-mops.; cf. Acts 22:20; Revelation 2:13 (Revelation 11:3); Revelation 17:6. νέφος is interpreted by the Greek expositors (not Thdrt.) as affording shade and protection. So Chrys., περικείμενον κύκλῳ, ἐν μείζονι ἀδείᾳ εἰκότως εἶναι ποιήσει: and Œc., in his altern. more explicitly, νέφος δὲ ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς, ἢ ἀπὸ μεταφορᾶς τῶν ὑπὸ καύματος καταφλεγομένων καὶ ὑπεισελθόντων εἰς νεφελὴν δροσίζουσαν καὶ παραμνθηθέντων. καὶ γὰρ ἡ τῶν ἁγίων μνήμη τοὺς ὑπὸ τοῦ καύσωνος τῶν πειρασμῶν ἐκλελυμένους παραμυθεῖται. ἢ ὅτι νοητὴν (spiritual) ἡμῖν, φησί, δρόσον νέμουσιν, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τὸν θεὸν ἱκετεύοντες. I need not say, that such an idea is completely precluded by the nature of the argument, and the following participial clause in Hebrews 12:2.

The best note on the whole idea and imagery is that of Schlichting: “Introducit nos veluti in theatrum quoddam amplissimum, in quod magna spectatorum turba confluxerit, quæ, omnibus locis et subselliis repletis, veluti nubes quædam densa in medio certantibus circumfusa videatur. In tantæ multitudinis totque spectatorum veluti oculis certantes nos facit. Quemadmodum autem olim certantibus tanta spectatorum multitudo addebat animos, et ingens erat ad summam vincendi contentionem stimulus: sic et nobis tot testes, qui et ipsi in eodem certamine desudarunt, alacritatem addere debent, ut summis viribus cœptum stadium decurramus. Testes autem eos vocat, non tantum per prosopopœiam quandam alludens ad certaminum spectatores ut dictum est, qui sunt testes quidam virtutis eorum qui certant: sed etiam, idque multo magis, propterea, quod de Deo ejusque bonitate et justitia testentur, et omnes uno veluti dicant ore, esse Deum, et esse remuneratorem eorum qui ipsum quærunt: apud eum, tanquam summum agonothetam, brabeum esse strenue certantibus repositum: veracem illum esse in suis promissionibus: etiam post mortem posse reddere felices eos, qui ipsius causa vitam prodegissent. Testium enim nomine illi imprimis hoc loco sunt intelligendi, qui suo sanguine de Dei fide et bonitate testantur. Unde et κατʼ ἐξοχήν, martyres, id est, testes, hic appellantur”), laying aside all superfluous weight ( ὄγκος, according to Buttmann, Lexil., from ἔγκω, from which comes ἤνεγκον,—any superfluous mass or burden, as in the case of the pregnant, so Eurip. Ion 15, γαστρὸς διήνεγκʼ ὄγκον: or the corpulent, so Ælian, Hist. Anim. ii. 13, σαρκὸς ὄγκος: a state of being puffed up, either literally or metaphorically. It is used doubtless here with direct reference to athletes, who before running trained themselves so as to get rid of all superfluous flesh. So Galen, in Epid. Hippocr. iii. 6 (Bl.), καὶ γὰρ δρόμοι ταχεῖς καὶ γυμνάσια ποιαῦτα καὶ σαρκῶν ὄγκον καθαίρει καὶ χυμῶν πλῆθος κενοί: see other examples in Bl. But ὄγκος is also used of weight accessory from without, as well as of weight carried on the person. So Xen. Venat. viii. 8, διὰ τὸ βάθος τῆς χιόνος καὶ διὰ τὸ κάτωθεν τῶν ποδῶν λασίων ὄντων προσέχεσθαι αὐτῷ ὄγκον πολύν. So that the word may be taken, as in E. V., of every weight of every kind which may weigh down the runner; though, on account of what follows, I should understand it rather of weight of the person than weight on the person. See below. Some, as Castelho, Heinsius, Bengel, interpret it “fastus,” haughtiness or pride, which it may be, but the sense does not seem to belong here) and sin which is ever besetting us ( εὐπερίστατος, being an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in all ancient Greek literature, has been very variously interpreted. Its sense must be sought purely from derivational usage, and the requirements of the context. Some have taken it actively, from the sense of περιΐστημι ‘to circumvent:’ so Carpzov, “dolosum, seducens;” Schulz, “which hems us in on all sides.” But against this is the fact that though verbals in - τος are often active, no case has been adduced of any such verbal derived from ἵστημι or its compounds being active: they are all intransitive or passive: e. g. στατός, ἄστατος, ἀνάστατος; διάστατος, ἀδιάστατος; εὐκατάστατος, δυσκατάστατος; ἀμετάστατος, εὐμετάστατος; ἀσύστατος; ὑπόστατος: and so περίστατος and ἀπερίστατος: and thus our word might be taken passively,—‘which can easily be avoided,’ lightly evaded: cf. περιΐστασο, 2 Timothy 2:16; Titus 3:9, and Hammond here: or, ‘which can be easily circumvented,’ and so conquered. Thus in the interpretation which Chrys. prefers before the active one: his words are, εὐπερίστατον, ἤτοι τὴν εὐκόλως περιϊσταμένην ἡμᾶς, ἢ τὴν εὐκόλως περίστασιν δυναμένην παθεῖν, λέγει· μᾶλλον δὲ τοῦτο· ῥᾴδιον γάρ, ἐὰν θέλωμεν, περιγενέσθαι τῆς ἁμαρτίας: so Ps.-Athanas. quæst. 130 de Parabol. Scripturæ, vol. iv. p. 280, εὐπερίστατον εἶπε τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, ἐπειδὰν μόνιμον στάσιν οὐκ ἔχει, ἀλλὰ ταχέως τρέπεται καὶ καταλύεται: Hesych., εὔκολον, εὐχερῆ: Suidas, μωρόν, ταχέως περιτρεπόμενον: D-lat, “fragile:” Le Clerc, al., “quæ facile circumvenitur, vincitur.” But to this there are two objections. First the word περιΐστασθαι does not seem ever to have this meaning, overcoming: and then that it would be exceedingly out of place thus to describe sin, and especially that sin against which the Writer considers it necessary to warn his readers, by one single epithet, as a thing lightly to be got rid of. Just as unnatural would be the sense given by Wetst., “peccatum vestrum.… non in occulto potest committi et latere, non magis quam lapsus cursoris, sed conspicietur ab omnibus.” Another passive sense is given by Ernesti after Hemsterhuis, “a spectatoribus circumdatus,” “surrounded by men who look on:” so Isocrat. de Permut., θαυματοποιΐαις ταῖς.… ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνοήτων περιστάτοις γενομέναις, which Suidas interprets περὶ ἃς κύκλῳ ἵστανται οἱ θεώμενοι: Jambl. Vit. Pyth. Hebrews 12:7, εὐθὺς δὲ περίβλεπτος καὶ περίστατος ἐγένετο: and so ἀπερίστατος is used of a man whom others do not gird around, one void of friends: so Phocyl. 24, σῶσον δʼ ἀπερίστατον ἄνδρα. And thus Ernesti here would have us understand εὐπερίστατος of sin as being very popular, having many friends and frequenters. This sense Bleek thinks has much to be said for it, both as to analogy and as fitting the context. I own I do not feel that the analogy of εὖ in composition quite justifies it. But he prefers the ordinary acceptation of the word here, and in this I fully agree. Taking περιΐσταμαι as a middle, to place itself around, be around, and hence to surround, we should have, sin which easily surrounds us. And so the former of the alternatives in Chrys. (see above), which he does not prefer in his homily on this passage, but adopts in several other places: e. g. Hom. on Psalms 48 § 3. 4, vol. v. p. 227 (Migne), ταύτην οὖν δέδοικα τὴν ἀπατῶσάν με ἁμαρτίαν, τὴν κυκλοῦσάν με. διὸ καὶ ὁ παῦλος αὐτὴν εὐπερίστατον καλεῖ, τὴν συνεχῶς περιβάλλουσαν δηλῶν, τὴν εὐκόλως, τὴν ῥᾳδίως. And on 2 Cor. Hom. ii. vol. x p. 402, εὐπερίστατον γὰρ ἡ ἁμαρτία, πάντοθεν ἱσταμένη, ἔμπροσθεν, ὄπισθεν, καὶ οὕτως ἡμᾶς καταβάλλουσα. And so the vulg. “circumstans:” the E. V., “which doth so easily beset us:” and by far the greater part of expositors, some with, some without the sense of active hostility. Thus Syr., “quod omni tempore paratum est nobis:” Ps.-Anselm, “quod nos inique impellit et circumvallat:” Castellio, “nos ambiens, sicut arbores hedera:” Valcknaer, “quod ad cingendum et irretiendum promptum est:” Bugenhagen, “semper oppugnans nos peccatum:” Erasm.(par), “quod nos undique complectitur:” al. The word being thus taken, the various acceptations of the similitude intended are well summed up by Bleek: we must understand ἁμαρτίαν either as our inner propensity to sin, which clings fast to us and will not part from us (Erasm.(vers. and not.), Luther, Vatabl., Calv., Gerhard, Seb. Schmidt, Calov., Ernesti: cf. ch. Hebrews 5:2, περίκειται ἀσθένειαν): or as a cumbersome garment girding us round and hindering us from running (Jac. and Lud. Cappell., Schlichting, Wittich, Braun, Wakefield, al.), or personified, as an adversary, who surrounds us on all sides and waylays us to make us his prey (Beza, Cramer); or generally, as something which lies about us and is ever ready to catch us (De Dieu, and Syr. above): or which is ever from all sides standing in the way so as to entangle and impede our course (Grot., Limborch, Baumgarten, Bretschn., al., and recently Delitzsch). But the connexion with ἀποθέμενοι, which evidently Del. feels, seems to me fatal to his view, and indeed to all views except that which makes ἁμαρτία to lie about us, as a garment, or beset us, as an inward propensity. Of both these ἀποθέσθαι may be said; of the former literally, of the latter figuratively. And in choosing between these two, I have no hesitation in choosing the former. The Writer is speaking of our race: and having expected us to lay aside all superfluous weight of body, which the athletes did, he passes to their other lightening for the race, viz. stripping naked, and exhorts us to put off sin, which lies so easily about us. And thus we have a strict analogy with the imagery in Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24, ἀποθέσθαι ὑμᾶςτὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπονκαὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον,—and with Colossians 3:9, ἀπεκδυσάμενοι τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον σὺν ταῖς πράξεσιν αὐτοῦ. Most likely the sin alludes especially, though it need not exclusively, to apostasy. There does not seem to be any allusion to the different sins which may, in the sense now so common, and originally derived from this passage in E. V., “beset” various persons: though, of course, such an application of the passage is quite admissible. The above note, as to its enumeration of opinions, is principally gathered from Bleek and Delitzsch, both of whom have gone into the matter at far greater length. Various other shades and subtleties of meaning will be found discussed by them), let us through (not merely “with,” but as the state in, by means of which: cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7, διὰ πίστεως περιπατοῦμεν) endurance run the race (see reff. and add Statius, Theb. iii. 116, “Quisque suas avidi ad lacrymas miserabile currunt certamen;” and Eurip. Orest. 869, ἀγῶνα θανάσιμον δραμούμενον) set before us (reff., and Lucian, Anachars. 15, κοινός τις ἀγὼντοῖς ἀγαθοῖς πολίταις πρόκειται: Cicero pro Flacco, 37 (92), “magnum ei erat certamen propositum”);


Verses 1-11

1–11.] EXHORTATION, mixed with reproof, on looking back at all these witnesses, and looking also to Jesus, who has come to glory through suffering, not to faint in the conflict with sin; nor to forget the love of our Father, who visits us with chastisement that we may bring forth the fruit of righteousness. This exhortation was begun at ch. Hebrews 10:19, and broken off by the insertion of all those examples of the nature and triumphs of faith. It is now resumed, having, so to speak, accumulated new momentum by the interruption, and is pressed home directly on the readers.


Verse 2

2.] looking unto (so E. V. very exactly. ἀφορᾶν εἰς, or πρός τι, is an ordinary word for to direct the gaze upon any thing. So, of the outward eye, Jos. Antt. iv. 4. 7, ἀαρὼνθνήσκει, τοῦ πλήθους εἰς αὐτὸν ἀφορῶντος: of the inward eye, Arrian, Epictet. iv. 1, εἰς ταῦτα ἀφορᾷ τὰ παραδείγματα: Jos. B. J. 2:17.2, μάλιστα δὲ ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν ἐλεάζαρον στρατηγοῦντα: Arrian, Epict. ii. 19, εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἀφορῶντας ἐν παντὶ μικρῷ καὶ μεγάλῳ. See many more examples in Bleek. There does not appear to be in the preposition ἀφ-, any intimation of looking off from every thing else unto, as sometimes asserted. It merely implies direction from the person acting, or the place from which he acts, as in the similar compounds ἀπιδεῖν, ἀποβλέπειν (ch. Hebrews 11:26), ἀφορμᾶσθαι ( εἰς), ἀφικνεῖσθαι, &c.) the Leader (one who precedes others by his example, they following him: [or rather Author:] see the note on ch. Hebrews 2:10, where the meanings of ἀρχηγός are classified) and Perfecter ( τελειωτής, only found here, is variously interpreted. Chrys. says, τὸν ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτήν. τί ἐστι τοῦτο; τουτέστιν αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν τὴν πίστιν ἐνέθηκεν, αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν δέδωκεν (John 15:16).… εἰ δὲ αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν ἡμῖν ἐνέθηκεν, αὐτὸς καὶ τὸ τέλος ἐπιθήσει. And so Œc. and Thl., Primas., Erasm.(par., “quod cœpit in nobis consummabit”), Jac. Cappell., Wittich, Braun. Another view is that He perfects the faith by bringing it to an end in the capacity of βραβευτής, giving it its final reward: so Schlichting, Grot., Limborch, Calmet, al. Again Bl., De Wette, Ebrard would understand merely that He exhibited faith in perfection in his own example. And so nearly Bengel (“fidei princeps et consummator dicitur, quia ipse fidem Patri ab initio ad exitum præstitit”): and Thdrt., when he says, κατὰ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον ἀμφότερα τέθεικεν. And doubtless this meaning must not be excluded; but neither must it be held exclusively. He ἐτελείωσεν ( τὴν) πίστιν, inasmuch as He perfected faith in his own person and example: but He ἐτελείωσεν τὴν πίστιν also, inasmuch as He became the Author of perfect salvation to them that obey Him. His going before us in faith has made faith possible for us: His perfecting faith in his own person and example, has made faith effectual for us) of the faith (viz. that faith of which we have been speaking through ch. 11: and thus rather ‘the faith’ than “our faith,” which latter is liable to the mistake so often made in English, viz. to being taken as if it = faith in us, so that Jesus should be said to be “author and finisher” of each individual Christian’s faith which he has within him. We may render merely ‘faith’ without the art.; but seeing that πίστις has been anarthrous before (ch. Hebrews 11:1) when it was abstract, it would seem most probable that the art. here is intended to have a definite force. Besides which, the ascription of faith to our Lord is so plain in our Epistle (cf. ch. Hebrews 2:13; Hebrews 3:2) that we must not seem to exclude this sense in our rendering, which we certainly do by “our faith:” whereas ‘the faith’ includes both, and satisfies that which follows, in which His own example of endurance in prospect of triumph is set before us), (even) Jesus, who for the joy set before Him ( ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς has been otherwise interpreted both by ancients and moderns. The Syr., Nazianz. in Œc., Beza, al. take it to mean, “instead of the joy which He had before His incarnation.” ᾧ ἐξὸν μένειν ἐπὶ τῆς ἰδίας δόξης τε καὶ θεότητος, οὐ μόνον ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν ἄχρι τῆς δούλου μορφῆς, ἀλλὰ καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπέμεινεν. Naz. But this, though more according to the common meaning of ἀντί, seems to me doubly objectionable. First, which many have noticed, χαρά which He already had could not well be designated as προκειμενη: and then, which I have not seen noticed, χαρά can hardly be used of a state of bliss in which one already is, a quiescent or præ-existent joy, but more naturally applies to joy prompted by some cause of active rejoicing. Then another modification of this same view is found in Chrys., τουτέστιν, ἐξῆν αὐτῷ μηδὲν παθεῖν, εἴπερ ἐβούλετο. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, οὐδὲ δόλος εὑρέθη ἐν τῷ στόματι αυτοῦ· καθὼς καὶ αὐτός φησιν ἐν τοῖς εὐαγγελίοις· ἔρχεται ὁ τοῦ κόσμου ἄρχων, καὶ οὐκ ἔχει ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐδέν. προὔκειτο τοίνυν αὐτῷ, εἴπερ ἐβούλετο, μὴ ἐλθεῖν εἰς τὸν σταυρόν· ἐξουσίαν γὰρ ἔχω, φησί, θεῖναι τὴν ψυχήν μου, καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχω πάλιν λαβεῖν αὐτήν. And so Œc., Thl., Luther (da er wohl hatte mögen freude haben, duldete er u.s.w.), Calvin (“Significat enim, quum integrum esset Christo se eximere omni molestia, vitamque felicem et bonis omnibus affluentem degere, ipsum tamen ultro subiisse mortem acerbam et plenam ignominia”), al. But this again, though it might satisfy προκειμένης, falls short of the above sense maintained for χαρᾶς. Another kindred meaning is found in Erasm.(paraphr., “contemtis hujus vitæ gaudiis, subit mortem”), Wolf, Raphel, Carpzov, Wetst., Paulus, Bretschn. This makes χαρά = ἡδονή, besides giving a low and unworthy sense to ἡ προκειμένη αὐτῷ χαρά, in making it to mean the pleasures of this life. The sense given above, ‘for the joy set before Him,’ i. e. as in comparison with, as in exchange for, the joy which was to come after, in the day of His triumph, is adopted by Thdrt. (but interpreting the χαρά of the salvation of men,— χαρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἡ σωτηρία· ὑπὲρ ταύτης τὸ πάθος ὑπέμεινε), Primasius, Corn. a-Lap., Justiniani, Schlichting, Grot., Hammond, Seb. Schmidt, Braun, Limborch, Bengel, Winer, Böhme, De Wette, Kuinoel, Bleek, Tholuck, Ebrard, Lünem., Delitzsch, al. And it is fully borne out both by usage, and the context. For thus we have ἀντί in reff., and in Xen. Hell. iv. 8. 6, ὀργιζόμενος τοῖς λακεδαιμονίοις ἀνθʼ ὧν ἐπεπόνθει: Aristoph. Plut. 434, ἢ σφὼ ποιήσω τήμερον δοῦναι δίκην ἀνθʼ ὦν ἐμὲ ζητεῖτον ἐνθένδʼ ἀφανίσαι. See Winer, § 47. a) endured crucifixion ( σταυρόν, anarthrous and put after the verb; and thus representing rather in the abstract, the kind of death, than in the concrete, “the cross” on which He was crucified), despising shame (or, “the shame:” when an anarthrous noun comes before a verb in the place of emphasis, it is not so easily determined whether it is definite or indefinite. But from the analogy of σταυρόν before, it is most probable that this is indefinite also,—every kind of shame, even to that of the shameful death which He died), and ( τε is used as a copula, apart from καί, once by St. Matt. (Matthew 28:12), once by St. Mark (Mark 15:36), twice by St. John (John 4:42; John 6:18), four times by St. Paul (Romans 2:19; Romans 16:26; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Ephesians 3:19): but seventy-nine times by St. Luke: and in this Epistle four times (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 12:2) is set down (so E. V. rightly, reading the perfect as in text. The aor. would express the fact, as it happened: the perf. gives it as it now endures, having happened. So that the latter is more real and graphic as concerns the readers) on the right hand of the throne of God (i. e. on the throne of God, at His right hand: see on ch. Hebrews 8:1, and cf. Revelation 3:21).


Verse 3

3.] For (q. d. and there is reason in what I say; ἀφορῶντες &c., for He like yourselves had much and continual conflict with the sinners of His day. γάρ is not as Lünem., “Yea,” merely strengthening the imperative: I heartily concur with the dictum of Hermann, cited here by Delitzsch: “ γάρ semper reddit rationem antecedentis sententiæ vel expressæ vel intellectæ”) compare (with yourselves. ἀναλογίσασθε is very difficult to express in English. It is as Bengel, “comparatione instituta cogitare,” “to think on, by way of comparison.” So Plato, Theæt. p. 186 A, ἀναλογιζομένη ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὰ γεγονό καὶ τὰ παρόντα πρὸς τὰ μέλλοντα (comparing): Diod. Sic. xx. 8, τὸ μέγεθος τοῦ διείργοντος πελάγους ἀναλογιζόμενοι, τὴν σωτηρίαν ἀπεγίνωσκον (reputantes, bethinking themselves of, comparing with their power to cross it). So here it is, consider Him as set in comparison with yourselves. If the word to ‘ponder’ had any trace left of its primitive meaning, it might serve; but it has now become equivalent to ‘meditate’) Him who hath endured (perf. part. again, to set before them Christ as not merely a character of the past, but one ever present) such contradiction ( ἀντιλογία need not be confined to words: see note on ch. Hebrews 6:16, and cf. ref. John, ἀντιλέγει τῷ καίσαρι. Œc. says, ἀντιλογίαν δέ φησι τὸν γέλωτα, τὰς πληγάς, τὰς χλευασίας, καὶ ὅσα ἀντέλεγον τοῖς αὐτοῦ δόγμασι καὶ διδάγμασι, καὶ τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ πιλάτου κραυγάς. And so Chrys. and Thl. Lünemann in vain denies this sense of ἀντιλογία and ἀντιλέγειν: see reff., and Bleek’s and Delitzsch’s notes) by the sinners against Himself (i. e. by those who sinned against Him. Whether ἑαυτόν or αὐτόν be read, the sense will be the same. Beware of Ebrard’s strange interpretation, given below on τὴν ἁμαρτίαν: “All mankind would be opposed to Christ as the sinners (the class of sinners); but the enemies of the gospel could not be opposed to the readers of the Epistle as the sinners, seeing that those readers themselves were sinners.” All such notions of οἱ ἁμαρτωλοί arise from wrongly connecting εἰς ἑαυτόν, which follows ἁμαρτωλῶν and not ἀντιλογίαν. So ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, Luke 15:18; Luke 15:21. See also Luke 17:4; Acts 25:8), that ye weary not (reff.), fainting in your souls ( ταῖς ψ. ὑμῶν may be joined either with κάμητε or with ἐκλυόμενοι. In ref. Job, we have κάμνων τῇ ψυχῇ μου: and ἐκλύεσθαι τῇ ψυχῇ is found in Polyb. ref., and xx. 4. 7, οὐ μόνον τοῖς σώμασιν ἐξελύθησαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ταῖς ψυχαῖς. So also in Diod. Sic. xx. 1, διὰ τὸ μῆκος καὶ τὴν ἀκαιρίαν τοῦ συγγραφέως ἐκλυθέντες τὰς ψυχάς. And this latter is preferable, on account of the rhythm, and the improbability of the participle standing thus alone at the end of the sentence).


Verse 4

4.] Bengel’s remark, which De Wette charges with pedantry, “a cursu venit ad pugilatum, ut Paulus, 1 Corinthians 9:26, is nevertheless a just one. Not yet have ye resisted (so ἀντικαθίστασθαι absolutely, Thuc. i. 62, εἶδον τοὺς ἐναντίους παρασκευαζομένους εἰς μάχην, ἀντικαθίσταντο καὶ αὐτοί: and 71, ταύτης μέντοι τοιαύτης ἀντικαθεστηκυίας πόλεως, ὦ λακεδαιμόνιοι, διαμέλλετε. See below) unto blood (many take this to mean, have not yet sacrificed your lives. So Chrys., ὃ δὲ λέγει, τοῦτό ἐστιν· οὔπω θάνατον ὑπέστητε· μέχρι χρημάτων ὑμῖν ἡ ζημία, μέχρι δόξης, μέχρι τοῦ ἐλαύνεσθαι. And Thl., οὔπω, φησίν, ἄχρι θανάτου ἐφθάσατε, ἀλλὰ ἄχρι διωγμῶν, ἄχρις ἁρπαγῆς· ὁ δὲ χριστὸς ἄχρι θανάτου ἦλθεν. And this may be so: but I would rather abide by the idea of the pugilistic figure being intended, and apply μέχρις αἵματος to the figure, not to the interpretation. Cf. Seneca, Ep. i. 13, “Non potest athleta magnos spiritus ad certamen afferre, qui nunquam suggillatus est. Ille qui vidit sanguinem suum, cujus dentes crepuerunt sub pugno, ille qui supplantatus adversarium toto tulit corpore, nec projecit animum projectus, qui quoties cecidit contumacior resurrexit, cum magna spe descendit ad pugnam.” For the expression, cf. reff., and Niceph. Hist. a. 741, ἐνωμότους αὐτῷ συνθήκας δεδώκεσαν, ὡς μέχρις αἵματος ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ἀνελέσθαι τὸν κίνδυνον.

On the relation of such passages as this to the date of the Epistle, see in the Prolegomena, § ii. 29 ff.), contending against ( πρός, of the direction towards which the athlete’s force was directed: cf. μάχεσθαι πρὸς τρῶας, Il. ρ. 471: Matthiæ, § 591, and Winer, § 49, h. α.) sin (personified, as an adversary: not to be limited in its meaning to sin in themselves, or to sin in their persecutors, but understood of both. Delitzsch, who would confine it to the latter, says that it was not sin in themselves which would shed their blood, but rather, which would spare its being shed. Yes, and for this very reason the resisting that sin of unfaithfulness which would lead them to spare their blood, would if carried far enough, lead to the shedding of it. Similarly, the sin in their persecutors, which they were to resist, would, if yielded to, spare their blood by seducing them into apostasy. The joining πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν with ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι is even more certain than the similar connexion in Hebrews 12:3, seeing that ἀντικατέστητε has already had its qualifying clause in μέχρις αἵματος. And so almost all Commentators, except Bengel).


Verse 5

5.] And ye have completely forgotten ( ἐκλανθάνεσθαι, more usually ἐπιλανθάνεσθαι, is seldom found. See in reff.: Il. π. 602, οὐδʼ ἄρʼ ἀχαιοὶ ἀλκῆς ἐξελάθοντο. It is perhaps chosen here, as Del. suggests, not without some reference to the sound of ἐκλυόμενοι before and ἐκλύου following. See var. readd.

There is a great difference among Commentators as to whether these words are to be read affirmatively or interrogatively. The former view is taken by all the ancient expositors, and many moderns, among whom are Wittich, Surenbusius, Wolf, Bengel, Kuinoel, Klee, Tholuck, De Wette, Ebrard. The interrogative view is taken by Calvin, Beza (b), Braun, Böhme, Lachmann, Bleek, De Wette, Bisping, Lünemann, Delitzsch. The ground on which this latter is defended is that, if declarative, the words would be too severe for the general tenor of the passage. I own I cannot see this. The fact of their having thus forgotten the exhortation is surely assumed below, in Hebrews 12:7-11; and from this point forward the Writer takes up the tone of reproof, which comes to its height in Hebrews 12:16-17. And not only this. The interrogative form would surely be most unnatural, coupled closely as it would be with an assertion of fact, οὔπω.… ἀντικατέστητε) the exhortation ( παράκλησις, as elsewhere in N. T. and especially in St. Luke (reff.), unites the ideas of exhortation and consolation. See on ch. Hebrews 6:18, and on παρακαλεῖν, ch. Hebrews 3:13), the which (that kind of exhortation, of which the following is a specimen: such seems to be the force of ἥτις instead of ) discourses with you (so διαλέγεσθαι in the Acts, of opening a discourse with any one: see reff.) as with sons, My son ( υἱέ in LXX: see digest), despise not ( ὀλιγωρέω is not uncommon in the classics, and with a genitive, as here) the chastening of the Lord, nor faint, when corrected by Him (Heb., “and have no aversion to His correction”):


Verse 6

6.] for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth ( ἐλέγχει, LXX-B (68) (69) have as text: in ref. Rev., both are combined, ἐγὼ ὅσους ἂν φιλῶ, ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω), yea, and (the δέ throws out the new feature into a climax) scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (“In the Heb. this clause according to the present punctuation is וּכְאָב אֶת־בֵּן יִרְצֶה, ‘and (that) as a father the son in whom he delighteth.’ The LXX, instead of כְּאָב, have expressed כֵּאֵב, the Pihel of כָּאֵב ‘to feel pain,’ and have taken it as = ‘to cause pain,’ as the Hiphil הִכְאִיב occurs sometimes, e. g. Job 5:18, of God’s chastisement of men. Certainly by this rendering the parallelism with the first hemistich, and the whole expression, gain in completeness, whereas according to the Masoretic punctuation there is an appearance of lameness about it.” Bleek: who thinks, as does Del., that the LXX have expressed better the sense of the Writer than the Masoretic punctuators. “For the translation of כֵּאֵב by μαστιγοῦν, to scourge, to whip, instead of generally to punish, cf. Psalms 32:10 (Psalms 31:10), μάστιγες for מַכְאוֹבִים : and for the use of the Greek verb for divine chastisement (reff.), Tobit 11:14 [(70) (71) (not (72))], ἐμαστίγωσας κ. ἠλέησάς με: Hebrews 13:2 (Hebrews 13:25; Heb_13:9), αὐτὸς μαστιγοῖ κ. ἐλεεῖ: Judith 8:27, εἰς νουθέτησιν μαστιγοῖ κύριος τοὺς ἐγγίζοντα αὐτῷ.”

ὃν παραδέχεται, see reff., whom He takes to him as a veritable son, receives in his heart and cherishes).


Verse 7

7.] First, as to the reading. As between εἰς and εἰ, the case stands thus: εἰ is found in “minuscc. multis ut videtur,” Tischdf. (edn. 7 (8)): in Chrys. (but more than doubtful: see below), in Thdrt. (also doubtful), in Thl. (certain). This is really all the authority that can be cited for it. εἰς is found in the six uncial MSS. which contain the passage, in about thirty cursive mss., in all the ancient versions (apparently): in all the Fathers who cite and explain the words: e. g. Chrys. (in whose text in this Homily (xxix.) the εἰ παιδείαν ὑπομένετε is evidently a correction to the later reading: for, after quoting the text as in rec., his sentence runs, εἰ παιδεύει, ἄρα εἰς διόρθωσιν, ἀλλʼ οὐκ εἰς κόλασιν, οὐδὲ εἰς τιμωρίαν, οὐδὲ εἰς τὸ κακῶς παθεῖν: where it must be obvious to any one that εἰ παιδεύει ought to be εἰς παιδείαν, or the sentence is without coherence. In the Catena, this appears still more decisively: where he says, εἰς παιδείαν ὑπομένετε, φησίν· οὐκ εἰς κόλασιν, οὐδὲ εἰς τιμωρίαν),—Thdrt. (in all probability: his present text runs thus: εἰ παιδείαν ὑπομένετε· εἰ φέρετε γενναίως τὰς ἐπιφερομένας παιδείας. But it is hardly possible that εἰ φέρετε γενναίως should be the exposition of εἰ ὑπομένετε, in the sense which the verb must bear in the rec. text, and it is here again to be suspected, as even Bleek confesses, that the εἰ has been a correction to the rec.),—Œc. ( ὑπομένετε, φησί, τὴν παιδείαν). Of modern critical editors, Matthæi regards εἰς as the right reading, Griesbach puts it in his inner margin, Lachmann of course adopts it, and Tregelles: also Tischendorf edd. 7, 8, but in his 2nd edn. he retained the rec.: as do Bleek, Tholuck, and Lünem.: and among ourselves, Dr. Bloomfield, who tries to explain the (angebliche) correction into εἰς by saying that εἰseldom begins a sentence.” In the N. T., where εἰ stands alone without μή, it begins a sentence at least nine times out of ten. See Brüder. εἰς is adopted and strongly defended, by Ebrard and Delitzsch. And it seems to me the only defensible reading. The mere fact that εἰ appears at first sight to yield a better sense, should never be allowed to weigh against the almost unanimous consent of antiquity. And if we examine closer this supposed better sense, we shall find it fail us. For first, the verb ὑπομένειν is not one which will bear the mere accidental sense thus given to it. The sense which we want, with εἰ, is, ‘If ye are suffering chastisement:’ asserting a mere matter of fact. παιδείαν ὑπομένειν can only signify, ‘patiently to endure chastisement.’ Then, taking this only possible meaning, what have we? ‘If ye patiently endure chastisement, God is dealing with you as with sons:’ i. e. ‘your method of endurance is a sign of God’s method of treatment:’ a sentence which stultifies itself. Next, what is the sense with εἰς? I see no reason for departing from that given by Chrys. in the Catena (see above): “It is for chastisement that ye are enduring, not for punishment, not for any evil purpose.” “Your ὑπομονή, like His ὑπομονή, will not be thrown away. He had joy before Him, you have life ( καὶ ζήσομεν, Hebrews 12:9) before you.” Or if we please we may take ὑπομένετε, as Œc. above, imperatively: “Endure with a view to chastisement:” which sense however is not so good nor so natural, nor is it so likely, from the collocation of the words: for thus ὑπομένετε would come first, and it would probably be εἰς τὸ παιδεύεσθαι.

It is for chastisement that ye are enduring: as with sons, God is dealing with you ( προσφέρεσθαι, see reff., united with οὕτως, τούτῳ τῷ τρόπῳ, βέλτιον, φιλικῶς, and similar adverbs, is common in good Greek of all ages. Bleek brings forward several passages very similar in construction to this: αἷς ἐὰν ὡς μιᾷ προσφέρῃ.… ἐὰν δὲ ὡς πολλαῖς κ. τ. λ., Plato, Rep. p. 435 A: πυθαγόρας ἐρωτηθείς, πῶς δεῖ ἀγνωμονούσῃ πατρίδι προσφέρεσθαι, εἶπεν· ὡς μητρί, &c., Stobæus, c. 39). For what son is there (two other ways of taking the words are possible: 1. as Luther, adopted by Delitzsch, to make τίς the subject and υἱός the predicate, “who is a son?” 2. as Böhme, to make υἱός the subject and τίς the predicate, “of what sort is a son?” Both of these are bad: the former, from the exceeding harshness and oddity of the question, “what man is a son, whom, &c.?” the second, from the forcing of τίς, where its natural sense serves, and from the absence of the art. before υἱός. As usually rendered, the question is exactly like τίς [ ἐστιν] ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος; Matthew 7:9; Matthew 12:11. See also 1 Corinthians 2:11, τίς γὰρ οἶδεν ἀνθρώπων;) whom a father (possibly, ‘his father:’ for πατήρ (not υἱός) is one of those words which, from their being singular in their kind, often lose the article) chasteneth not?


Verse 7-8

7, 8.] Application of the passage of Scripture to the readers.


Verse 8

8.] But if ye are without (separate from, no partakers in) chastisement, of which all (God’s sons: or those above mentioned, ch. 11, which is better, on account of the perfect verb) have been made partakers ( μέτοχος, see reff. and note), then ye are ( ἄρα, the inferential particle, in late and N. T. Greek, is found at the beginning of a clause: but never in classical Greek. Delitzsch compares two examples, one from Lucian, Jup. Tragœd. § 51, εἰ εἰσὶ βωμοί, εἰσὶ καὶ θεοί· ἀλλὰ μὴν εἰσὶ βωμοί, εἰσὶν ἄρα καὶ θεοί, the other, the well-known “cogito, ergo sum;” which in later and modern Greek is στοχάζομαι, ἄρα εἰμί ( εἶμαι). He proceeds to say that Klotz’s view, that ἄρα is not properly syllogistic but only expresses “leviorem et liberiorem quandam ratiocinationem,” is not confirmed by N. T. usage, nor indeed by classical, cf. Plato, Phædo § 26, οὐχ ὁρατόν· ἀειδὲς ἄρα) bastards ( νόθος, ὁ μὴ γνήσιος υἱός, ἀλλʼ ἐκ παλλακίδος, Phavorinus. But it is only one side of the similitude which is brought out. So Philo, De Confus. Ling. 28, vol. i. p. 426, speaking of the υἱοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων who built Babel, says that they were τῶν ἐκ πόρνης ἀποκυηθέντων οὐδὲν διαφέροντες. οὓς ὁ νόμος ἐκκλησίας ἀπελήλακε θείας. Chrys. explains it well: ὁρᾷς ὅτι ὥσπερ ἔφθην εἰπών, οὐκ ἔνι μὴ παιδευόμενον εἶναι υἱόν: ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐν ταῖς οἰκίαις τῶν νόθων καταφρονοῦσιν οἱ πατέρες, κἂν μηδὲν μανθάνωσι, κἂν μὴ ἔνδοξοι γένωνται, τῶν δὲ γνησίων ἕνεκεν υἱῶν δεδοίκασι μήποτε ῥᾳθυμήσωσι, τοῦτο καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ παρόντος. εἰ τοίνυν τὸ μὴ παιδεύεσθαι νόθων ἐστί, δεῖ χαίρειν ἐπὶ τῇ παιδείᾳ, εἴγε γνησιότητος τοῦτό ἐστιν), and not sons.


Verse 9

9.] Then again ( εἶτα brings in a fresh argument: “furthermore,” as E. V. “deinde considerare debemus,” Primas. It is taken interrogatively here by Raphel, al., as in Plato, Apol. Socr. p. 28 B, εἶτʼ οὐκ αἰσχύνει, ὦ σώκρατες κ. τ. λ.; But, 1. this would be only admissible in the case of strong indignation being expressed, which is not so here: and, 2. it would certainly require καὶ οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον κ. τ. λ.),—we once had (imperfect, of a state of former habit) the fathers of our flesh (see below) as chastisers ( τοὺς πατ. is the object, παιδευτάς the predicate: not as E. V., “we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us” ( πατέρας μὲν τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν εἴχομεν τοὺς παιδεύοντας)) and reverenced them (reff.: ἐντρέπομαι is found in classical Greek with a gen. of the object, e. g. τί βαιὸν ἐντρέπει σῆς συμμάχου; Soph. Aj. 90: but in later (e. g. LXX, Polyb., Dionys., Diod. Sic., Plutarch, al.) and N. T. Greek with an accus.): shall we not much rather be in subjection (so the E. V. well expresses the subjective force of the fut. pass.) to the Father of spirits (or, ‘of our spirits,’ understanding ἡμῶν again. But (see also below) the other is more majestic, and more in accord with the text which probably was before the Writer’s mind, Numbers 16:22, θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ πάσης σαρκός, and again Numbers 27:16) and live (viz. in life eternal, as in reff.)? An enquiry arises out of the πατέρας, τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν and πατρὶ τῶν πνευμάτων here, in what sense our earthly fathers are said to be the fathers of our flesh, and God the Father of (our) spirits. To deal with the latter first: several explanations have been given. Understanding ἡμῶν, some have taken it as, the Creator of human souls. So Primasius (“creator animorum”), Thl. (as Chrys. below, but preferring this), and among the moderns, Calvin, Beza, Jac. Cappell., Estius, Justiniani, Wetst., Heinrichs, Ernesti, al., and more recently Delitzsch, as a proof of the doctrine of Creationism (the direct creation of every man’s soul by God) against Traducianism (the derivation of our souls ex traduce from parent to parent). Some again, as the originator of spiritual life: so Seb. Schmidt, Calov., Cramer, Grotius, Hammond(par.), Limborch, Corn. a-Lapide, and more recently Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., Ebrard. Others, not understanding ἡμῶν, take it as the Father of the spirit-world, of spiritual existences. So Erasm. Schmid, Bretschn. (lex.), al. All these three meanings are enumerated by the ancient expositors: by Chrys. without deciding between them, τῷ πατρὶ τῶν πνευμάτων· ἤτοι τῶν χαρισμάτων λέγει, ἤτοι τῶν εὐχῶν (read ψυχῶν), ἤτοι τῶν ἀσωμάτων δυνάμεων: so Œc.: Thl. says, πατέρα δὲ πνευμάτων ἢ τῶν χαρισμάτων ἢ τῶν ἀσωμάτων δυνάμεων· , ὅπερ καὶ οἰκειότερον, τῶν ψυχῶν· πρὸς γὰρ ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῶν σαρκικῶν πατέρων εἶπε τὸν πνευματικόν. Thdrt. takes the meaning, Author of spiritual life, alone: πατέρα γὰρ πνευμάτων τὸν πνευματικὸν πατέρα κέκληκεν, ὡς τῶν πνευματικῶν χαρισμάτων πηγήν· διʼ ἐκείνων δὲ ἡμῖν δέδωκε τὸ τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἀξίωμα. Others understand by πατέρα not the originator, but the upholder, cherisher: so Morus, Dindorf, Kuinoel, Böhme (“quorumlibet hominum tanquam immortalium pater, i. e. patronus, tutor, sospitatorque”), Bretschn. (lex. under πατήρ, “qui animum castigat, docet, emendat”). But, though this latter sense must not be excluded, being as it is manifestly operative in inducing present submission, to remember present dependence, so neither must the idea of origination be excluded, for it is from that fact that all a father’s rights and loving-kindnesses spring. In endeavouring to decide between these meanings, one safe standing-place may, I think, be gained, by getting free from that class of meanings which understands ἡμῶν, any further than it is necessarily involved in all spirits. τοὺς τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν πατέρας, and τῷ πατρὶ τῶν πνευμάτων without ἡμῶν, are widely and surely purposely distinct. He is described here as the Father of spirits, not as the Father of our spirits. And therefore I would understand the expression as an exalted contrast of God, a Spirit Himself, and the Creator of spirits, His like, to men, flesh themselves, and the progenitors (“creatores, quod ad similitudinem attinet”) of fleshly bodies, their like. On the consequence, as regards Creationism and Traducianism, I will not here enter. It would require far more comparison of other passages and more deliberate estimation how far this one propounds a further truth than the argument requires, to be included in a mere note. Cf. Delitzsch’s argument here.


Verse 10

10.] The a fortiori is strengthened, by bringing out the difference between the two chastisements as to their character. For they indeed (our earthly parents) for a few days (see the meaning below. πρός as in reff. mainly temporal, but also indicating reference: ‘during, and with a view to.’ See below) chastised us (imperf. as above, Hebrews 12:9) after their own pleasure (according to that which seemed good to them: their standard and rule of action in the matter was at best their own view of what was right, and too often their own caprice or temper, ἡδονὴν πληροῦντες πολλάκις, Chrys.), but He in order to ( ἐπί, of the contemplated direction of the result) that which is profitable, in order to our partaking of His holiness ( ἁγιότης, except in the two places in reff., no where found in Greek literature. It is a more complete abstract than ἁγιωσύνη, which is rather inherent and attributive. The becoming partakers of God’s holiness is manifestly to be taken subjectively: becoming holy like Him. So Thl. partly after Chrys.: τῆς ἁγ., τουτέστι, τῆς καθαρότητος αὐτοῦ· ὥστε, φησί, γενέσθαι ἡμᾶς δεκτικοὺς τῶν αὐτοῦ ἀγαθῶν· ἄρα οὖν ἡ παιδεία μετάληψις ἁγιότητός ἐστι, καὶ εἰκότως· συστρέφει γὰρ τὴν ψυχὴν πρὸς τὸν ἅγιον θεόν, μὴ ἐῶσα αὐτὴν πρὸς ἀνθρώπινόν τι ῥέμβεσθαι). Two questions arise regarding this verse: 1. what is the intended reference of πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας? 2. what are the clauses opposed to one another? The former of these questions in fact involves the latter. πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας has been understood by many of the duration of our natural life, as the term to which the chastisement of our natural parents had reference, whereas that of our Heavenly Father regarded eternity. So Calv., Estius, Justiniani, Corn. a-Lap., Calmet, Schlichting, Limborch, Bengel, Tholuck, Ebrard, al. But this cannot be the meaning of the Writer. For in the first place it is not true that all earthly correction had regard only to the present life. And in the next, there is not one word in the latter clause expressing the eternal nature of God’s purpose, which surely there would have been. The other interpretation, ‘during and in reference to the time of our being subject to their chastisement,’ is certainly the right one. So Œc. ( ἢ γὰρ θάνατος τοῦ πατρός, ἢ αὔξησις τοῦ παιδός, ἵστησι τὴν παιδείαν), Thl., Schol.-Matthæi, vulg. (“in tempore paucorum dierum”). D-lat., Erasm.(par.), Luth, Jac. Cappell., Grot., Wetst., Böhme, Kuinoel, Bleek, Lünem., Delitzsch, al. Then we come to the second question, how the antitheses are to be arranged. Some, as Wetst., Storr, Böhme, Kuinoel, and Bleek, have thought that πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας is to be supplied in the second member of the sentence also: seeing that the divine chastisement, like the human, lasts for a few days only, i. e. for the term of this time of trial. Others again would supply in the second member some contrast to πρὸς ὀλ. ἡμ. So Œc. ( ὁ δὲ θεὸς ἀεὶ παιδεύων τελείους ποιεῖ), Thl., Jac. Cappell., al. Delitzsch takes the antithesis thus: The second pair of contrasts, with which he begins, is κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς and ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον. The other is, πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας, and εἰς τὸ μεταλ. τ. ἁγιότητος αὐτοῦ. As in πρός the meanings of duration and intention are mingled, so in εἰς the meanings of intention and result. But I cannot think that Delitzsch is right. Both order of words, and correspondence of meaning, are against him. Surely the true antithesis is that pointed out by the order of the clauses themselves, and by their correspondence: 1. πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας and ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον: 2. κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς and εἰς τὸ μεταλ. τ. ἁγ. αὐτοῦ. In (1), we have set over against one another,—the short time during which, the temporary reference with which, their chastisement was inflicted,—and the great purpose, implied as eternal from its very expression as τὸ συμφέρον for an immortal being, for which He chastises us: and in (2), are opposed,—their purpose and standard of action, to satisfy their own seeming, be it good or bad,—and His purpose, to make us partakers of His holiness, which holiness, absolute and pure, is His rule of acting, and no mere δοκοῦν αὐτῷ. Thus all is straightforward, and no clause need be supplied.


Verse 11

11.] Recurrence to the common ground of Hebrews 12:8, in describing the attribute of all chastisement, divine as well as human. That this reference of the verse is right, I am fully persuaded. Delitzsch’s view, that divine chastisement only is intended, confuses the logical sequence, and would certainly require, after what has gone before, some distinctive mark to indicate such restriction of the sense. The sequence of οἱ μὲν.… ἐπαίδευον.… ὁ δὲ … ( παιδεύει).… πᾶσα δὲ παιδεία could not be otherwise interpreted than by taking πᾶσα as including the οἱ μέν and the ὁ δέ. It is true that in asserting what he does of πᾶσα παιδεία, the Writer lets fall out of view the capricious nature and uncertain result of human chastisement, and regards it more as a type and representative of that which is divine: all παιδεία properly so called, and answering its proper purpose. This is brought out in the second clause: the first is equally true of every sort of παιδεία. Now (exactly gives the δέ, which resumes the general from the particular, introducing an axiom to which all will assent) all chastisement for the time present ( πρός, as before, Hebrews 12:10, ‘during and in respect of:’ our ‘for’ exactly gives it. Cf. ref. Thucyd., ὁρῶν αὐτοὺς πρὸς τὸ παρὸν χαλεπαίνοντας) seems ( καλῶς εἶπεν· οὐ δοκεῖ. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐστὶ λύπης ἡ παιδεία, ἀλλὰ μόνον δοκεῖ. Chrys.) not to be matter of joy ( χαρᾶς is the gen. of category, and requires no ellipsis supplied: see on ch. Hebrews 10:39, and cf. Thuc. iii. 70, βουλῆς ὤν), but of grief: but afterwards it yields (see reff. and Herod. i. 193, ἐπὶ διηκόσια μὲν τὸ παράπαν ἀποδιδοῖ) peaceable fruit of righteousness (the gen. is one of apposition; the righteousness is the fruit, the παιδεία being the tree. The words are otherwise taken, making δικαιοσύνης a gen. subjecti, and righteousness that which yields the fruit, by Thl. (making δικαιοσύνη to be God’s righteousness: δίκαιος ὢν ὁ θεός, τοὺς ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ λυπηθέντας ἐκεῖ ἀναπαύει), Jac. Cappell. (Calv. in Bleek, but he says, “Fructus justitiæ dicitur timor Domini:” which is rather the other way), Schulz, Kuinoel, Klee, al., who make δικαιος. an attribute not of God, but of the men spoken of: as in ref. Phil., πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης τὸν διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, and in Liban. Decl. i. p. 198 B, μηδὲ τοῦτʼ ἄδηλον, πότερον ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης καρπὸς ἢ τῆς πονηρίας ἀμείνων. But seeing that παιδεία καρπὸν ἀποδίδωσιν, it must be its own fruit, and not that belonging to righteousness, that it yields. And thus Estius, Schlichting, Calov., Bengel, Storr, Böhme, Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., Delitzsch, al. And this fruit, thus considered, is the practical righteousness which springs from faith, not the forensic righteousness which comes by faith (as in Romans 5:1). And this fruit is called εἰρηνικός, in contrast to the ἀγών by which it is won: it is, as Tholuck expresses it, “fruit of righteousness to be enjoyed in peace after the conflict.” This is far better than to understand it ‘salutaris’ because שָׁלוֹם, peace, is used also for salvation (so Castellio, Michaelis, Storr, Ernesti, Dindorf, Schleusner, Wahl, Bretschn., Kuinoel): or with Primas., Grot., Wittich, Braun, Lamb. Bos, to take it as = “gratissimum atque acceptissimum.” The same sounding words occur together in ref. James, but the reference is different: see note there) to those who have been exercised by it (viz. παιδείας. The γεγυμνασμένοις is a clear reference to the conflict alluded to in the former verses. τί ἐστι, τοῖς διʼ αὐτῆς γεγυμν.; τοῖς ἀνασχομένοις ἐπὶ πολὺ καὶ καρτερήσασιν. ὁρᾷς πῶς καὶ εὐφήμῳ ὀνόματι κέχρηται; ἄρα γυμνασία ἐστὶν ἡ παιδεία, τὸν ἀθλητὴν ἰσχυρὸν ἐργαζομένη καὶ ἀκαταγώνιστον ἐν τοῖς ἀγῶσι καὶ ἄμαχον ἐν τοῖς πολέμοις. Chrys.).


Verse 12

12.] Wherefore (connects with the reasoning, and also with the imagery, of the foregoing verses: because suffering chastisement is the part of God’s sons—because the running the race successfully brings joy and peace. And so Chrys., ὡς πρὸς δρομεῖς καὶ πύκτας καὶ πολεμιστὰς διαλέγεται· ὁρᾷς πῶς αὐτοὺς καθοπλίζει, πῶς αὐτοὺς ἐπαίρει; and I see no reason with Bleek to doubt this. He does so mainly because Hebrews 12:14 would come in abruptly on the other view. But of that see below) put straight again (into their proper places) the relaxed hands ( παρειμένος, not far from παραλελυμένος in sense—unstrung by infirmity, so as to be incapable of healthy motion. The two words are frequently joined together: in ref. Isa., with the same substantives as here, but ἀνειμέναι for παρ-: ἰσχύσατε χεῖρες ἀενιμέναι καὶ γόνατα παραλελυμένα: in Sirach 25:23, the very same words, χεῖρες παρειμέναι καὶ γόνατα παραλελυμένα: in Deuteronomy 32:36, εἶδε γὰρ παραλελυμένους αὐτοὺςκαὶ παρειμένους. And so Polyb. i. 58. 9, τήν τε δύναμιν παρελέλυντο καὶ παρεῖντο. In ref. 2 Kings, we have ἐξελύθησαν αἱ χεῖρες αὐτοῖς κ. πάντες οἱ ἄνδρες ἰσραὴλ παρείθησαν. See other examples in Bl.) and the paralyzed knees ( παραλελυμένος is a word confined to St. Luke elsewhere in the N. T. It is used generally, of lameness, by the LXX and later writers: cf. reff., and Arrian, Epict. ii. 18, πῶς σου τὰ σκέλη παραλύεται;):


Verses 12-17

12–17.] Further exhortation, rather to promote the running the Christian race, and to take care, following peace and holiness, that there be no bitter root of sin among them, which, as in Esau’s case, might deprive them of the promised blessing.


Verse 13

13.] and make straight tracks for your feet (Carpzov appears first to have noticed that these words, καὶ τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς ποιήσατε τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν, constituted an hexameter line. They are quoted in substance from Proverbs 4:26, ὀρθὰς τροχιὰς ποίει σοῖς ποσίν.

τροχιά is properly the mark left by the τροχός, the rut or wheel-mark, indicating a track or road. See reff. τοῖς ποσίν is best taken dative, ‘for your feet,’ not ablative (Schulz, Thol., Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., al.) “with your feet” as instrumental: see on the following clause. And the meaning seems to be, Let your walk be so firm and so unanimous in the right direction, that a plain track and highway may be thereby established for those who accompany and follow you to perceive and walk in. Cf. Isaiah 35:8), that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed ( τὸ χωλόν indicates that part of the church which was wavering between Christianity and Judaism: answering to the ἀσθενεῖς of the Epistle to the Romans. If the whole congregation, by their united and consistent walk, trod a plain and beaten path for men’s feet, these lame ones, though halting, would be easily able to keep in it, and by keeping in the τροχιὰ ὀρθή, would even acquire the habit of walking straight onward, and so be healed: but if the tracks were errant and confused, their erratic steps would deviate more and more, till at length they fell away out of the right way altogether. This connexion between the clauses only subsists entire when τοῖς ποσίν is taken as dative: if as ablative, with your feet, it is not easy to say what sequence there would be between the making of such tracks and the healing of the lame without a very harsh ellipsis between the two clauses, ‘in which others may walk,’ or the like. ἐκτραπῇ is rendered by many of the ancient and some modern expositors, “be dislocated.” So Œc. ( ἵνα μὴ τὸ ἐναρχθὲν κακόν, τοῦτο γὰρ τὸ χωλόν, εἰς ἀνήκεστον ἔλθῃ, μᾶλλον δὲ διορθωθῇ), Thl. ( ἔτι προσπλάγητε καὶ ἐκτραπῶσιν οἱ πόδες ὑμῶν, τουτέστι παντελῶς στρεβλοὶ γένωνται), Schlichting, Grot., Wolf, Carpzov, Cramer, Michaelis, Ernesti, Schleusner, Heinrichs, Bretschn., Klee, De Wette, Stuart, al. But against this there are two objections: 1. the common usage of the word; which (see Wetst. on 1 Timothy 1:6, and reff.) is, to be turned aside: and even in the place quoted from Galen by Carpzov to justify the other meaning, it far more likely has this one: τῆς ὑγιεινῆς ἔργον, τὸ κατὰ μικρὰ τὴν εἰς τὸ παρὰ φύσιν ἐκτροπὴν (deviation) ἐπανορθοῦσθαι: 2. the μᾶλλον δέ, introducing the second clause, which seems to shew, that more is contained in the contrast than was in the member with which it was contrasted, and thus fully justifies the falling short in the meaning of ἐκτραπῇ from that of ἰαθῇ: q. d. ‘should not be turned out of the way; nay rather than suffer any the least increase of its infirmity, should be healed of it.’ It should be noticed that the Writer has still the image of a race before him. The making a beaten track for all is, that they may not miss the way and lose the prize).


Verse 14

14.] Follow peace with all ( μετὰ πάντων belongs to εἰρήνην, not to the verb. Some have understood πάντων to refer not only to the brethren, but to unbelievers also. So Œc. ( μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν καὶ τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων· πολὺ γὰρ τὸ πλάτος τοῦ μετὰ πάντων), Thl. ( οὐ μόνον πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς ἐχθροὺς εἰρηνεύειν παραινεῖ), Jac. Cappell., Grot., Calov., al., and Böhme, Lünem., al. But thus taken the exhortation would lose much of its proper force here. For it is introduced by a caution that the lame be not turned out of the way, and followed by taking heed that none fail of the grace of God: and between these two an exhortation to follow peace with all mankind would come in very flat and disjointed. It is clearly the brethren who are here meant by πάντων: and this is further shewn by the collocation of the words, which on the other view would more naturally be εἰρήνην μετὰ πάντων διώκετε. The sentiment thus is the same as in Romans 14:19, ἄρα οὖν τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης διώκωμεν, καὶ τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλήλους), and sanctification (“The connexion of καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν is much as in Hebrews 12:1; ch. Hebrews 11:38; the Writer uses the art., when he appends the particular to the general.” Delitzsch. ἁγιασμός is not = ἁγιότης, but is the putting on of it and becoming ἅγιοι. Many Commentators, misled by the peculiar contextual reference of the word in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, have restricted the meaning here to chastity. So Chrys. ( τὸν ἁγιασμὸν τί φησι; τὴν σωφροσύνην καὶ τὴν κοσμιότητα τὴν ἐν γάμῳ), Thdrt., Œc., Thl., Jer(73), Aug(74), and Jac. Cappell., Bengel, al. But the wider meaning, as a rule, must always be kept where the context does not require a narrower. And thus understood, the reference of it is well given by Limborch: “ne, dum paci studeat, nimis aliis obsequendi studio quidquam contra sanctimouiam Christianam delinquat”), without (apart from) which ( χωρίς seems to be put after its case for rhythm’s sake. In Palm and Rost’s art. on χωρίς, this arrangement is quoted frequently from the poets and tragedians, but does not seem to occur often in prose) none shall see the Lord (whether κύριον is to be applied to Christ, or to the Father, is uncertain. The article determines nothing. ὁ κύριος is clearly the Father in ch. Hebrews 8:2; as clearly the Son in ch. Hebrews 2:3. But here it would seem that the Father is intended. For we know, Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7, that every eye shall see the Son, even in His glory: whereas we have our Lord using, in an ethical sentence not much unlike this one, the expression αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται):


Verse 15

15.] looking well ( ἐπισκοποῦντες, τουτέστιν, ἀκριβῶς ἐρευνῶντες, ἐπισκεπτόμενοι, καταμανθάνοντες, Chrys. τουτέστιν, ἀκριβῶς προσέχοντες καὶ ἐρευνῶντες, Œc. The word is found in Plato, e. g. Cratyl. 399 C, ὧν ὁρᾷ οὐδὲν ἐπισκοπεῖ, al.: in Xenophon, e. g. De Laced. Rep. 3. 1, ὁ βουλόμενος καὶ ταῦτα ἐπισκοπείσθω, al. freq.), lest any one falling short of the grace of God (on ὑστερέω, see on ch. Hebrews 4:1. It is here explained by Chrys., καθάπερ ὁδόν τινα μακρὰν ὁδευόντων ἐν συνοδίᾳ πολλῇ, βλέπετε, φησί, μή τις ἀπέμεινεν: and so Thl. In that case ἀπό must mean ‘far from’ the grace of God, as the goal to which the journey is being made. But it is far more probably in its ordinary sense, and ἀπό as in reff., and as Œc.: μή τις εἴη ἀπολελειμμένος τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ. The whole sentence is imitated from Deuteronomy 29:18, μή τις ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν ἀνὴρ ἢ γυνὴ ἢ πατριὰ ἢ φυλή, τινὸς ἡ διάνοια ἐξέκλινεν ἀπὸ κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν, πορευθέντες λατρεύειν τοῖς θεοῖς τῶν ἐθνῶν ἐκείνων· μή τις ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν ῥίζα ἄνω φύουσα ἐν χολῇ καὶ πικρίᾳ. And perhaps to this the ἀπό may be due, as Delitzsch suggests. But however this may be, the form of this sentence may certainly be inferred from observing that one. It is broken off at τοῦ θεοῦ in order to take up the second clause of that, μή τις ῥίζα κ. τ. λ. So that we need not understand after the participle here, as generally done, even by Thol. and Ebrard, but may pass on to the next clause, finding a common verb to both subjects in ἐνοχλῇ below. And so Heinrichs, Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., Delitzsch), lest any root of bitterness (not = ῥίζα πικρά, but πικρία is the origin and the ingrained character of the root, not its mere attribute. So Chrys. well, οὐκ εἶπε πικρά, ἀλλά, πικρίας· τὴν μὲν γὰρ πικρὰν ῥίζαν ἐστὶ καρποὺς ἐνεγκεῖν γλυκεῖς, τὴν δὲ πικρίας ῥίζαν καὶ πηγὴν καὶ ὑπόθεσιν οὐκ ἐστὶ ποτὲ γλυκὺν ἐνεγκεῖν καρπόν· πάντα γάρ ἐστι πικρά, οὐδὲν ἔχει ἡδύ, πάντα πικρά, πάντα ἀηδῆ, πάντα μίσους καὶ βδελυγμίας γέμοντα. And similarly Œc. and Thl. and several moderns) springing up ( φύω intrans., see reff.) trouble you (it is remarkable that the LXX [as edited] (see above) in Deut. l. c. has not ἐνοχλῇ, but ἐν χολῇ, as the Heb.: and Delitzsch supposes that the Writer followed the sound of ἐν χολῇ and substituted for it ἐνοχλῇ: as in Jude 1:12 the ἀπάταις of 2 Peter 2:13 is changed into ἀγάπαις (or vice versa). But this is hardly likely, especially when we find that the Alexandrine copy of the LXX, with which our Writer so often agrees, has ἐνοχλῇ [as has also B1]. Delitzsch indeed supposes that this reading crept in after our Epistle was written: and strengthens his view by the superfluous and unintelligible καὶ πικρία following the word in the alex. text. But clearly that is no reason: nor is it probable that such correction should have been only one of four which are found in the mss. in Holmes, the other three being εν οχλῃ, ενοχῃ, εν ω χολῃ. The fact of ἐνοχλεῖν, ref. Luke, ὀχλεῖν, Acts 5:16, παρενοχλεῖν, Acts 15:19, being all in St. Luke, does not make for Delitzsch’s view: all men (taking his hypothesis of the authorship by St. Luke) are more free in quoting sayings where their own favourite words occur), and by its means the many (the whole congregation: see Galatians 5:9 quoted below) be polluted (how? by intercourse, by compromise, by over-persuasion, by imitation. The kind of pollution he explains in the next verse to arise from fornication and profanity. Thl. says, ὁ δὲ ἀλλαχοῦ γράφει· μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ (Galatians 5:9), τοῦτο καὶ ἐνταῦθά φησι· μή τις πονηρὸς εἰς λύμην πλειόνων εἶναι συγχωρείσθω):


Verse 16

16.] lest (there be) (this is a far more probable filling up of the construction, as an independent elliptic sentence, than to suppose it to furnish another subject to ἐνοχλῇ) any fornicator (to be taken literally, not as alluding to spiritual fornication, cf. Deuteronomy 31:16; Exodus 34:15 f.: for as Del. observes, this sense is foreign to the N. T. except in the Apocalypse: and it is very unlikely that the Writer should have used a meaning lying so far from the context, and not suggested either by the passage of Deut. to which he was before alluding, or by the history of Esau which he is now introducing. Nearly connected with the question of the sense of πόρνος, is that of the punctuation: whether by a comma after it we are to sever it from connexion with Esau, or not. Most Commentators join it with what follows. So Thdrt., Schol.-Matthæi, Isidor.-pelus., Primas., al., and explain it partly of the gluttony of Esau, partly of his having wedded strange women, partly by the character of a fornicator which is given him by later Jewish tradition: cf. numerous testimonies in Wetst. But others divide πόρνος from what follows. So Chrys., Joh. Damasc. ( ἐνταῦθα στίξαι δεῖ, ἵνα ᾖ τελεία διάνοια, καὶ τὸ ἐπιφερόμενον· καὶ βέβηλος ὡς ἡσαῦ, cited in Wetst. var. readd.), Thl. ( οὐ τοῦτό φησι, ὅτι πόρνος ἦν ἡσαῦ, ἀλλʼ ἄχρις αὐτοῦ στῆσον, μή τις πόρνος ἐν ὑμῖν ἤτω. εἶτα ἀπʼ ἄλλης ἀρχῆς εἶπε· μηδὲ βέβηλος ὡς ἡσαῦ κ. τ. λ.): and so Calvin, Seb. Schmidt, Sykes, Cramer, Heinrichs, Bleek, De Wette, Bisping, Lünem. It seems hardly possible to decide. The character of Esau, from Scripture as well as tradition, will very well bear the designation πόρνος: and the balance of the sentence is better preserved by applying both to him, than by leaving πόρνος insulated. The objection, that the relative clause, ὃς ἀντὶ κ. τ. λ., applies only to βέβηλος, does not amount to much: for as Bengel remarks, “libido et intemperantia cibi affines.” On the other hand Delitzsch’s argument, that had πόρνος been intended to be separate, it would have stood μή τις πόρνος ᾖ, ἢ κ. τ. λ., is not sound: for the ellipsis might just as well stand in both clauses, as in one. He notices that in Philo, Quæst in Genesis 27:11, lib. iv. § 201 Potter’s Appendix, p. 404, “Pilosus intemperatus libidinosusque est”) or profane person ( τουτέστι, γαστρίμαργος, κοσμικός, τὰ πνευματικὰ βεβηλῶν καὶ καταπατῶν, Thl.: a man of low views, who has no appreciation of any high or divine thing: ὃς τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τιμὴν ταύτην διὰ τῆς οἰκείας ῥᾳθυμίας ἀπέδοτο, καὶ μικρᾶς ἡδονῆς χάριν τὴν μεγίστην τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν ἀπώλεσε, Chrys.) as Esau, who for (on ἀντί, see on Hebrews 12:2) one meal sold (the use of ἀποδίδομαι, middle, for to sell, is common in good Greek) his own birthright (‘rights of primogeniture:’ τὰ πρωτοτόκια or - εῖα is the usual word in the LXX for the Heb. בְּכוֹרָה or מִשְׁפַט הַבְּכוֹרָה, see Genesis 25:31-34; 1 Chronicles 5:1; Deuteronomy 21:17. The Greeks use for it ἡ πρεσβεία or τὸ πρεσβεῖον: Josephus has this last in this narrative, Antt. ii. 1. 1, and the LXX in Genesis 43:33. The reflexive ἑαυτοῦ, which must be read, may seem to be superfluous; but it serves to intensify the unworthiness of the act).


Verse 17

17.] For (the γάρ gives a reason for the caution, from the terrible result in Esau’s case) ye know ( ἴστε is not imperative, as the vulg. (“scitote”) and Luther, but indicative. It was a fact of which no Hebrew could be ignorant) that when he afterward on his part ( καί brings out this: he dishonoured his inheritance, but was in his turn rejected from the blessing) wished to inherit (see on this wide sense of κληρονομέω, ch. Hebrews 1:4) the blessing, he was rejected (some supply παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, some παρὰ τοῦ πατρός. But there is no reason why both should not be joined. His father’s blessing was God’s blessing; his father’s rejection was God’s rejection. And so Thl., .… παρʼ ἀμφοτέρων· δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι καὶ ὁ πατὴρ κατὰ θεὸν ἀπεδοκίμασεν αὐτόν); for he found not place of repentance (whose repentance—his own, or his father’s? The former is held by all the Greek expositors: by Luther, Calvin, Zeger, Grot., Bengel, De Wette, Bleek, Hofmann, Delitzsch, al. The latter, by Beza, Jac. Cappell., Schlichting, Raphel, Wolf, Carpzov, Tholuck, Ebrard, Stuart, Lünem., and most moderns except those named above. But the former I believe to be the only admissible sense. It is no mean argument for it, that the Fathers thought not of the other, though it would have been so useful to them in the Novatian controversy. Theodore of Mops. (Migne, Patr. Gr. vol. lxv. p. 968), though he wrests the passage from those who wished τὴν μετάνοιαν ἀνελεῖν, never hints at any other meaning. And his explanation is surely the right one: οὐχὶ συγχωρήσεως ἁμαρτημάτων μετανοήσας οὐκ ἔτυχεν ἐκεῖνος, οὐ γὰρ τοῦτο ᾔτει τότε, ἀλλʼ εὐλογίαν, ἣν κατὰ τὴν ἀξίαν τοῦ τρόπου τῷ ἀδελφῷ δοθεῖσαν ἀφαιρεθῆναι αὖθις οὐδαμῶς οἷόν τε ἦν καὶ δοθῆναι αὐτῷ πάλιν. It would surely be a most unnatural use of the phrase μετανοίας τόπον εὗρεν (cf. ref. Wisd., κρίνων δὲ κατὰ βραχὺ ἐδίδους τόπον μετανοίας: Clem.-rom. ad Corinth. 7, p. 225, μετανοίας τόπον ἔδωκεν ὁ δεσπότης τοῖς βουλομένοις ἐπιστραφῆναι ἐπʼ αὐτόν: Liv. xliv. 10, “pœnitentiæ relinquens locum:” Plin. Ep. x. 97. 10, “ex quo facile est opinari, quæ turba hominum emendari possit, si sit pœnitentiæ locus:” and other examples in Bleek), to understand by μετανοίας, repentance not in the subject of εὗρεν, but in some one else. And thus referred to Esau himself, it will mean much as Thdr.-mops. above, that he found no way open to reverse what had been done, by repentance: the sin had been committed and the consequence entailed, irrevocably. He might change, but the penalty could not, from the very nature of the circumstances, be taken off. So that μετάνοια, in its full sense, had no τόπος. And such is the meaning of the ‘locus pœnitentiæ,’ wherever occurring. We do not mean by it an opportunity to repent in a man’s own bosom, to be sorry for what he has done, for this may be under any circumstances, and this might have been with Esau: but we mean, a chance, by repenting, to repair. So when a condemned criminal has a ‘locus pœnitentiæ’ allowed him, we do not mean that he may die penitent, but that he is reprieved. I see not how else to understand this, and what follows: and thus understood nothing can be plainer), although he earnestly sought (reff.) it (what? not εὐλογίαν, as Thl., τινές in Œc., Calvin, Bengel, C. F. Schmid, Bleek, and even Delitzsch: for this would be, as Ebrard characterizes it, most unnatural, εὐλογίαν being separated from αὐτήν by a whole intervening clause, which will not bear parenthesizing, because ἐκζητήσας immediately takes up εὗρεν—he found it not, though he sought it. Regarding μετανοίας then as the only admissible antecedent for αὐτήν, the explanation will be very simple. μετανοίας τόπος is, in fact, μετάνοια. He found no place for μετάνοια: if he had found one, μετάνοια would have been secured: this was what he sought. So, when μετανοίας τόπον is taken up again, the mere secondary τόπος disappears, and it is αὐτήν, not αὐτόν, agreeing with the great thing really sought. This as against the arguments alleged in Delitzsch, al., who taking μετάνοια merely subjectively, maintain that it was not what Esau sought) with tears (Genesis 27:38. It is obvious, that our passage, rightly understood, cannot by any means favour the exclusion of any sinner from repentance. In Esau’s case the μετανοίας τόπος (see above) was closed, by circumstances themselves: the blessing had been given and could not be recalled. And this is our warning. It may be so, in many cases, with us. That it is always so, is not even hinted: but warning is given us that a path is not safe where even such a possibility may be encountered. See Proverbs 1:24-32).


Verse 18

18.] For (see above) ye have not drawn near to (‘in your approaching unto God (reff.), it has not been to, &c.’ The E. V. “ye are not come unto” omits the approach to God implied in προσέρχεσθαι) that which was being touched (understand ὄρει, which is expressed below with σιών, and hence has come in as a gloss here. From the seeming difficulty of this, and from all who omit ὄρει here having taken the two dative participles as agreeing with πυρί, and in consequence giving no adequate sense, many even of our critical editors and expositors have here forsaken the testimony of antiquity, and inserted the ὄρει. But if we suppose σιὼν ὄρος to have been before the Writer’s mind from the first, there is no difficulty in his deferring the ὄρος so long.

ψηλαφωμένῳ has been variously interpreted. Some, as Schöttgen, Kypke, Bengel, al., and Bretschneider, and even Palm and Rost, Lex., understand it, “touched by the fire of God,” cf. Ps. 103:32, ὁ ἁπτόμενος τῶν ὀρέων καὶ καπνίζονται. But this seems hardly consistent with the present part., nor indeed at all with the sense of the word itself, which is to touch by feeling about, as a blind man does, contrecto, palpoIsaiah 59:10, ψηλαφήσουσιν ὡς τυφλοὶ τοῖχον; Genesis 27:12, μήποτε ψηλαφήσῃ με ὁ πατήρ: Genesis 27:21-22; Judges 16:26, ἄφες με καὶ ψηλαφήσω τοὺς κίονας: Deuteronomy 28:29, καὶ ἔσῃ ψηλαφῶν μεσημβρίας, ὡσεί τις ψηλαφήσαι τυφλὸς ἐν τῷ σκότει: Job 5:14, τὸ δὲ μεσημβρινὸν ψηλαφήσαισαν ἴσα νυκτί: Hebrews 12:25, ψηλαφήσαισαν σκότος καὶ μὴ φῶς: Exodus 10:21, γενηθήτω σκότοςψηλαφητὸν σκότος. And this sense will I believe fit our passage very well. Mount Sinai was a material mountain, which not only might be touched,—as many (Knapp, Böhme, Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bisping, al.), identifying ψηλαφώμενον with ψηλαφητόν,—but was being touched, would have been touched by the people had it not been forbidden. So that the part. pres. (or imperf.) is in that peculiar sense of incompletion in which we so often find the imperf. itself, inviting after it an εἰ μή in Greek, or a ‘ni’ in Latin. Unless we bear this in mind, we are open to the objection that, while it was forbidden to be touched, it yet was touched. The other objection, brought by Delitzsch, that the Writer mentions this fact of touching below in other terms, with θιγγάνειν, is readily answered, that he is there using the very words of the prohibition in Exodus, whereas here he is giving scope to the graphic and rhetorical style of the passage. For the whole, cf. Exodus 19:12-13, where οὐχ ἅψεται αὐτοῦ χείρ leads very naturally to ψηλαφώμενον), and which was burnt with fire (cf. the same expression in reff. Deut., where nearly the same words, σκότος, γνόφος, θύελλα, following, put it beyond all doubt that πυρί is used here ablatively, not as a dative with κεκαυμένῳ, as Erasm., Calv., Beza, Bengel, Knapp, and more recently Delitzsch. (Such a connexion is perfectly allowable, against Ebrard, who ventures here one of his rash assertions: “ κεκαυμένῳ cannot be an attribute of πυρί: for to designate a fire as ‘a burning fire’ would be superfluous, unless a burning fire is to be contrasted with a painted fire, which is not the case here.” And this in the face of πῦρ διαπαντὸς καυθήσεται ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον, Leviticus 6:13; see numerous other examples in Bleek.) The perfect participle, in either case, is somewhat startling. The present would seem the more natural. But if in the case where it is taken with πυρί it is rendered ‘kindled’ (see Del.), there can be no reason why it should not in the other be rendered ‘lit up.’ ‘Consumed’ would be κατακεκαυμένῳ: cf. Exodus 3:2, ὅρα ὅτι ὁ βάτος καίεται πυρί, καὶ ὁ βάτος οὐ κατεκαίετο), and to blackness and darkness and tempest (cf. reff. Deut.), and to sound of trumpet (see ref. Exod. The Writer avoids the φωνή there used, having so soon to use φωνὴ ῥημάτων. As regards the method of declining ἦχος, see Winer, § 9, Remark 2. This form, which is blamed by Thomas Magister, is very commonly used by the classics. When Delitzsch states that it is the only form known to common Greek, he is as wrong the other way: see Aristoph. Av. 215: Plato, Rep. vii. p. 435: Herod. ix. 34: Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 53: Pind. Ol. 14. 29. Cf. Palm and Rost’s Lex.) and the voice of words (ref.),


Verses 18-29

18–29.] Connected with what has preceded by γάρ. Take heed that there be not such (as in Hebrews 12:15-16) among you: for (not only have we the solemn warning of Esau, but) we are not under the law with its terrors, but under the gospel with its promises,—hearing one who speaks for the last time, who speaks from heaven—and receiving a kingdom which shall not be moved.


Verse 19

19.] which they who heard ( ἧς, referring to φωνῇ, is governed by ἀκούσαντες, not as Storr, by λόγον) entreated ( παραιτεῖσθαί τι = αἰτεῖσθαί τι παρά τινος, in all senses, but more usually in the deprecatory sense. Hence simply to deprecate (Thuc. v. 63, ὁ δὲ παρῃτεῖτο, μηδὲν τούτων δρᾶν: hence further, to refuse or forbid, as in Acts 25:11, and even more directly in Hebrews 12:25 below) that (more) discourse should not be added to them ( αὐτοῖς might agree with τοῖς ῥήμασιν, but much more probably agrees with τοῖς ἀκούσασιν, from the form of construction in Deut. l. c., where they say that they should die, ἐὰν προσθώμεθα ἡμεῖς ἀκοῦσαι (A, προσθῶμεν ἀκοῦσαι ἡμεῖς) τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἔτι. Calvin explains the sense, “Cæterum quod dicit populum excusasse, non ita debet accipi quasi populus renuerit audire Dei verba, sed deprecatus est, ne Deum ipsum loquentem audire cogeretur. Persona enim Mosis interposita horrorem nonnihil mitigabat”):


Verse 20

20.] for they could not bear that which was commanded (Œc. and Thl. take this as an independent sentence, said of the general fearful character of the commands: τουτέστι τὸ διαλαλούμενον παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἠδύναντο τοῖς ὠσὶ στέγειν ὡς φοβερόν. And so Schlichting. But this would be exceedingly harsh, and finds no justification in the reason assigned by Schlichting, viz. that thus “sequentia verba tanquam per se posita, ad exaggerandum magis spectaculi illius terrorem pertinebunt.” It is manifest, from the retention of the future λιθοβοληθήσεται, that the words are a citation, and this clause the introduction of it. But among those who agree thus far, there is another wide difference about the voice of the participle, as to whether διαστελλόμενον is middle or passive. Storr, Heinrichs, Schulz, Delitzsch, take it middle, in an active sense, “that which ordered:” viz. the divine voice. But surely this is, if admissible grammatically (see Mark 7:36; Mark 8:15, where only διεστέλλετο is found, all the other cases having the 1 aor. διαστείλασθαι, which stands on its own ground), yet contextually most improbable: 1. that God, or the voice of God, should be thus described by a neuter part.: 2. that with τὸ φανταζόμενον just below, in strict parallelism, τὸ διαστελλόμενον should signify any thing but that which was commanded), Even if a beast (much more if a man) touch the mountain, it shall be stoned (an abbreviation of Exodus 19:12-13, καὶ ἀφοριεῖς τὸν λαὸν κύκλῳ, λέγων, προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς τοῦ ἀναβῆναι εἰς τὸ ὄρος καὶ θιγεῖν τι αὐτοῦ· πᾶς ὁ ἁψάμενος τοῦ ὄρους θανάτῳ τελευτήσει. οὐχ ἅψεται αὐτοῦ χείρ· ἐν γὰρ λίθοις λιθοβοληθήσεται ἢ βολίδι κατατοξευθήσεται· ἐάν τε κτῆνος ἐάν τε ἄνθρωπος, οὐ ζήσεται):


Verse 20-21

20, 21.] Parenthetical, explaining the reason of this horror on the part of the hearers.


Verse 21

21.] and (this clause is diversely punctuated. Before Beza, there was no comma at καί, and the sense was read straight on, “and so terrible was the sight, (that) Moses said,” as in E. V. So the Fathers: so some MSS. of the vulg. So Mill, Bengel, Michaelis, and Lachmann. And thus, as Bl. well observes, should we have punctuated in an Epistle of St. Paul, who is full of these broken constructions. But nothing can be more different than the style of this Epistle, which is weighed and rhetorically balanced with constant care. There can be little doubt in any who take this style into account, that the punctuation which began with Beza is right, viz. the setting a comma at καί, and regarding οὕτως φοβ. ἦν τὸ φαντ. as a parenthesis. καί must not, with Carpzov, Cramer, al., be taken for “even,” for thus we should have an asyndeton: and it is too far separated from ΄ωυσῆς),—so fearful was that which was revealed (which appeared to them as a vision of the glory and majesty of Jehovah: φανταζόμενον δʼ εἶπεν, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ αὐτὸν ἑώρων τὸν τῶν ὅλων θεόν, ἀλλά τινα φαντασίαν τῆς θείας ἐπιφανείας, Thdrt.),—Moses said, I am in great terror and in trembling (no such saying of Moses at this time is to be found in the sacred narrative. In ref. Deut. he says, καὶ ἔκφοβός εἰμι, which εἰμί should be ἤμην, and refers to the time when Moses went up to the mount after he had broken the tables. Our Writer probably transfers these words from that time to this, indicative of the terror which Moses felt at the divine presence on Sinai. Some have supposed that the saying is taken from some tradition: but none has been found to justify the idea. Others, as Calvin, suppose that “hæc communis totius populi querimonia; sed Moses inducitur, qui fuit veluti commune os omnium.” But if so, where would be any climax, as there manifestly is in this verse?):


Verse 22

22.] but ye have drawn near (both congregations drew near, cf. Deuteronomy 4:11, καὶ προσήλθετε καὶ ἔστητε ὑπὸ τὸ ὄρος: the difference is in that, to which. So that Chrys. misses the mark, when he says, ἐκεῖνοι οὐ προσῆλθον, ἀλλὰ πόῤῥωθεν εἱστήκεισαν, καὶ ὁ ΄ωυσῆς· ὑμεῖς δὲ προσεληλύθατε: and Thl., when he adds, ὁρᾷς τὴν ὑπεροχήν) to Mount Sion (here at length ὄρει is expressed: see above. Böhme and Kuinoel would take the following ἐπουρανίῳ as an epithet belonging to all three, ὄρει, πόλει, and ἱερουσαλήμ: and so apparently did Œc.: ἀντὶ τοῦ σινᾶ ὄρους, φησί, ἐνταῦθά ἐστιν, ὁ οὐρανός· τοῦτον γὰρ καλεῖ σιὼν ὄρος καὶ ἱερουσαλήμ. ὅθεν ἐπάγει ἐπουρανίῳ. But the form of the sentence will not allow this. Mount Sion, the abode of God which He loved and where He will abide continually, is used to signify, not its mere representative, which men know by that name, but the reality, God’s own abode in heaven. See Psalms 78:68; Psalms 110:2; Psalms 132:13 ff.: Isaiah 2:2 f.; Isaiah 28:16; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:1 f.: Obadiah 1:17 al. And so Thl., ἀντὶ τοῦ σινᾶ ἔχομεν σιὼν ὄρος νοητὸν καὶ πόλιν νοητὴν ἱερουσαλήμ, τουτέστιν αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν. See Delitzsch’s long note) and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (as the earthly Jerusalem, situate on Mount Sion, was the πόλις τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως, Matthew 5:35, so in a more blessed sense is that heavenly city the city of the living God. He is its maker and builder, ch. Hebrews 11:10; nor only so, but also evermore dwells in it with the light of His presence, cf. Revelation 21:22-24):


Verses 22-24

22–24.] Contrast to the above negation, in setting forth that to which they are come. There is apparently no studied logical order in the following clauses: and Bl. supposes there must have been some ancient inversion of them in our copies, seeing that πνεύμασι δικαίων τετελειωμένων would most naturally follow after μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων. But see on the several clauses, and the general concluding note.


Verse 23

23.] Before rendering this verse, the difficult question of its punctuation must be dealt with. I extract in substance Delitzsch’s note. The following varieties are possible, and occur, not only as proposed by Commentators, but as set down in MSS. and editions:—

I. καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει, καὶ

a. καὶ μυριάσιν, ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει, καὶ

b. καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων, πανηγύρει, καὶ

II. καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων, πανηγύρει καὶ

III. καὶ μυριάσιν, ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει, καὶ

According to I., which is found in most uncial MSS., &c., and is adopted by Erasmus, and by Tischendorf, the inner relation of the words of which the clause consists is left uncertain: all is undefined, for we punctuate as if it were καὶ μυρίων as in D1, or as it might certainly be, καὶ μυριάδων ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει. This inaccuracy precludes both I. a (Griesbach, Knapp, Seb. Schmidt, Wolf, Böhme, Kuinoel, Tholuck), as making μυριάσιν in apposition with ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει,—and I. b (Œc. ( πανηγύρει ἐν μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων ὑπερεχούσῃ), Thl. ( ἡ πανήγυρις οὖν αὐτὴ ἐν μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων συνίσταται), Syr. (“ad cœtus myriadum angelorum”), D-lat. (“et multitudinem angelorum frequentem”), Ambr(75) (below), Jerome (“et multorum millium angelorum frequentiam”): E. V. (“to an innumerable company of angels”), and so in A, C, and many cursive mss.), which makes πανηγύρει in apposition with μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων. The former of these two has nothing against it except that one cannot see any reason for μυριάσιν standing first so isolated: the latter is condemned by the unmeaning πανηγύρει lagging at the end. According to II. (Elzev., Beza, Jo. Gregor., Matthæi: also Calov., Kypke, Carpzov, Cramer, Baumgarten, Storr, De Wette (transl. 2nd edn.)), a new clause begins with πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ: for which arrangement Lünemann and Hofmann have decided, the former remarking, that πανήγυρις assembles the company of the firstborn in feast and jubilee, while ἐκκλησία binds them together in unity; the latter, that πανήγυρις and ἐκκλησία answer to the Heb. עֲצָרָה and קָהָל, the one denoting an assembly for worship, the other an assembly politically ordered. But it is difficult to see why the coupling of clause to clause by καί, which prevails through the sentence, should thus be broken through: and while the former of these Hebrew words is only once (ref. Amos) rendered πανήγυρις by the LXX, the two words never occur together in the O. T. We have then left III. (Bengel, C. F. Schmid, Ernesti, Schulz, Vater, Lachm., De Wette (transl. 3rd edn.), Theile), for which Bleek also decides, remarking rightly, that only on this view is the beginning of the sentence by the simple word μυριάσιν explained. The Writer begins with it, in order afterwards to say per partes of what these myriads consist, as in the O. T. also we read of רִבְבוֹת both of angels, ref. Deut., and of the congregation, Numbers 10:36. πανήγυρις is the complete, multitudinous, above all, jubilant, festal and blissful assembly: thus Ambrose renders “et decem millibus Iætantium angelorum,” and Aug(76) “exultantium.” Adopting then this arrangement, the verse will stand,—and to myriads (reff.: commonly used of the angelic company surrounding Jehovah), the festal host of angels and the assembly of the firstborn which are written in heaven (who are these? Why are they put with the angels? Why does the Writer place κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων between the assembly of the firstborn and the spirits of just men made perfect? These, says Delitzsch, are three closely connected questions, and among the very hardest in our Epistle. The answers to them are very various. Many understand them of the first-fruits of the Christian church ( ἀπαρχή, Revelation 14:4; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:13 v. r.): so De Wette, “those who are fallen asleep in the faith of Christ, and possibly also glorified by martyrdom, who have entered earlier than others, as it were the firstborn, into blissful union with God and Christ.” As Del. observes, if we hold them to be martyrs, the following words, καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων, might have a certain propriety from Revelation 6:9 f., where the souls of the martyrs under the altar cry, ἕως πότε.… οὐ κρίνεις καὶ ἐκδικεῖς τὸ αἷμα ἡμῶν ἐκ τῶν κατοικούντων ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς; But this view seems altogether to fail when we attempt to explain by it ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς. Those of whom our Lord says, Luke 10:20, χαίρετε ὅτι τὰ ὀνόματα ὑμῶν ἐγγέγραπται ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, are yet living on earth. According to St. Luke’s manner of speaking, the firstborn are hereby designated as enrolled (see reff. Luke) in the heavenly roll: and Scripture usage seems to demand that we consider one thus described, as not yet in possession of everlasting life in the fullest sense, but as destined to life (cf. Isaiah 4:3; Acts 13:48). This would forbid us from thinking of the 144,000 whom St. John saw with the Lamb on the heavenly Sion, who bore on their foreheads the name of the Lamb and of the Father. For this sealing was among the insignia of their eternal glorification: whereas the being enrolled in the book of life is the token to us, while here below, of our heavenly citizenship, and seems to lose all its significance, as soon as we have entered the heavenly city and need no assurance of our citizenship either for ourselves or for others. So that though we are tempted, both by the fact of their being classed with the angels, and by their being πρωτότοκοι (cf. ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀπαρχή, Revelation 14:4), to identify these with the χιλιάδες seen by St. John, we must give up the parallel, these ἀπογεγραμμένοι ἐν οὐρανοῖς being not yet citizens of heaven who have taken up their full citizenship by passing through death, but persons to whom their citizenship is assured, they being as yet here below. Add to which, that they are distinguished from the spirits of just men made perfect, by the term ἐκκλησία: and that it would be difficult or rather impossible, on this hypothesis, to give any account of the sense or arrangement of the two following clauses. Just as inadmissible is it, or even more so, to understand, with Lünem., by the πρωτότοκοι the patriarchs and saints of the O. T., and then by πνεύμασι δικαίων τετελ., not, as De W., the O. T. but the N. T. saints. So that, to say nothing of other varieties of interpretation not worth mentioning, there is no way left but to see, in the ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἀπογεγραμμένων, THE CHURCH BELOW. And this view, far from being a last refuge, is justified by every consideration. For, 1. thus ἐκκλησία is explained, which every where when used of men and not of angels, Psalms 88:5, designates the assembly of saints on earth: 2. the adjunct ἀπογεγρ. ἐν οὐρ. is accounted for, indicating as it does the heavenly charter of the church below, the invisible side of their sonship and citizenship (cf. 1 John 3:2), with which in this description of heaven we are mainly concerned: 3. we get an explanation of the choice of the term πρωτοτόκων to describe Christian believers. The Writer having given the warning example of Esau, who for a morsel of meat sold his birthright, has prepared the way for such a designation, while at the same time, as Knapp rightly remarks, the long sentence beginning at Hebrews 12:18 aims at this, “ut Christiani contra ἀπιστίαν muniantur et bona sua ( τὰ πρωτοτόκια αὐτῶν) nosse discant.” There is no distinction between firstborn and later-born Christians, but, as Hofmann also acknowledges, all Christians as such are called πρωτότοκοι because of their heritorship of the heavenly inheritance. We may also remark that thus the analogy with the firstborn of Israel is completely fulfilled. They were dedicated to God specially as his priests (Exodus 13:1-2; Exodus 13:11-15), and royal succession was in the firstborn: so that in πρωτότοκοι we have that which St. John says: ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ. This primogeniture, which belonged to Israel as such (Exodus 4:22), belongs to Christians as such, and to every one of them: they are enrolled not merely in an earthly register, cf. Numbers 3:42, but in the book of life in heaven. We also thus, 4. obtain an explanation of the juxtaposition in the sentence of the myriads of angels and the myriads of the firstborn: the key to it being found in ch. Hebrews 1:14, where God is said to have apportioned the angels as λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα to minister to the heirs of salvation. Thus we have the heavenly spirits and the firstborn whose names are in heaven, the jubilant choir above and the militant church below, ranged together. But, 5. we also get, what we find on no other hypothesis, an explanation of the sequence of κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων on ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων, and of that of πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων on κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων. The key to the words is in ch. Hebrews 10:30, κύριος κρινεῖ τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ. The church militant here below brings to mind those enemies and persecutors, for deliverance and righting from whom she looks to the righteous judgment of God. And he who is in fellowship (1 John 1:7) with the great Judge has no judgment to fear, but is δεδικαιωμένος; thereby leading on to the πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων which follows. Thus, according to Delitzsch’s note, which in the main I have here followed, the connexion between the clauses is established, and the arrangement justified: and I own this interpretation seems to me the only one which in any way fulfils those requirements. A summary of other interpretations may be seen in Bleek and Lünemann. There is a monograph by Mosheim, De Ecclesia Primogenitorum in Cœlo adscriptorum ex Hebr. xii., Helmst. 1733, which I have not seen. He takes them, in common with Bleek, De W., al., as the first converts to Christianity already entered into glory. Estius most nearly approaches the interpretation given above. His whole note is very good; the conclusion especially so: “Sensus igitur hujus partis est: aggregati estis et adscripti in societatem eorum qui præ cæteris mortalibus electi sunt a Deo et ab aliis separati, tanquam primogeniti, et in cœlis, tanquam beatitudinis cœlestis hæredes, conscripti. Hæc vero dicens significat et ipsos esse primogenitos et conscriptos in cœlis”), and to God the judge of all (not, as many moderns,—Erasm. (annot. appy.), Hermann de Wall, Bengel, Wetst., Cramer, Michaelis, C. F. Sehmid, Storr, Knapp, Dindorf, Vater, Paulus, De Wette, Bleek, Stuart, Lünem., Delitzsch,—“to the (a) judge, the God of all.” For, 1. the order of the words in the clause is the natural one where a predicate is brought out into prominence for any reason, whether to be affirmed, or made the subject of attention: cf., for the first, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, διότι ἔκδικος κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων, and for the second James 1:5, παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν: 2. all the Greek expositors, and the ancients without exception, took the words so, e. g. as Thl., πάντων γάρ, οὐχὶ ἰουδαίων μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πιστῶν ἐστι κριτής: 3. if they meant, “to a judge, the God of all,” surely they would have been otherwise expressed,— κριτῇ ( τῶν) πάντων θεῷ or the like: 4. thus only, by uplifting the universal right judgment of God, does the clause fit the context, coming between the mention of the elect, written in heaven, and the spirits of the just, shewing that the ἀπογραφή is no arbitrary selection,—the δικαίωσις no unreasonable procedure. It is not improbable that the Writer may have had in view Abraham’s question Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” I only stop to protest, even for those who adopt the θεῷ πάντων view, against the idea of Delitzsch, al., that πάντων is neuter. God could not be said to be θεὸς πάντων in the neuter sense of πάντα. He is ἐπὶ πάντων θεός, Romans 9:5, which is widely different: διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα, ch. Hebrews 2:10, which again is widely different: He is θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ πάσης σαρκός: but He is not θεὸς τοῦ κόσμου, nor θεὸς τῶν πάντων (neut.). He is God of πάντες, but not of πάντα; the God not of the dead, but of the living. Primas., Œc., Thl., Faber Stap., Braun understand this of Christ: but it is a characteristic of this Epistle that all judgment is formally, and in words, referred to God the Father: see ch. Hebrews 4:11 f.; Hebrews 10:30 f.; Hebrews 12:29; ch. Hebrews 13:4), and to the spirits of just men who have been perfected (i. e. the whole number of the just who have passed into their rest, from righteous Abel downwards; not yet δικαίοις τετελειωμένοις, because they are as yet disembodied and awaiting the resurrection, but πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων. This τελείωσις has been through sufferings, through trials, through running and having ended their race. All is accomplished, their probation, their righteousness, God’s purposes respecting them. They are not sleeping, they are not unconscious, they are not absent from us: they are perfected, lacking nothing, except, and that is our defect because we are as yet imprisoned in an unspiritual body, communion with us: their spirits are perfect, and therefore not suspended from the spirit life, but waiting only for bodily perfection also. The exposition of this clause has been much disturbed by the mistaken views taken of the former ones. It has been variously explained; of the N. T. saints only (Grot., Mosh., Bengel, Sykes, Baumgarten, C. F. Schmid, Storr, al.), of the O. T. saints (Corn. a-Lap., Schlicht., Wolf, Schulz, Bleek, De W., Ebrard). It is understood as above by Knapp, Böhme, Tholuck, Bisping, Delitzsch. The Greek expositors also give it a general reference: e. g. Thl., τουτέστι, ταῖς ψυχαῖς τῶν εὐδοκιμησάντων καὶ τελείων φανέντων παρὰ θεῷ, διὰ πίστεως δηλαδή, ὡς ἀπέδειξεν. This perfection of the just is the result of the (anticipated) just judgment of God, and thus aptly follows κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων),


Verse 24

24.] and to the mediator of the latter covenant ( νέας, not = καινῆς. νέος is recens: καινός, novus: νέος, the more objective word, καινός, the more subjective. But this must not be taken exclusively. νέος carries with it the freshness of youth, and is the livelier, more graphic word. See reff., esp. Col. In ch. Hebrews 9:15 our Lord is characterized as διαθήκης καινῆς μεσίτης), Jesus (the mention of the δίκαιοι τετελειωμένοι at once introduces that of Him who was Himself τετελειωμένος, ch. Hebrews 2:10, and who is the τελειωτὴς τῆς πίστεως, Hebrews 12:2. Cf. ch. Hebrews 7:22. Our Writer especially loves to use the name JESUS. To Christ, all that is predicated of our Lord belonged officially: but when it is predicated of Jesus, it becomes personal fact, realized in one whom we know and who loves us. That Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, is a theological truth: that Jesus is, is a glorious token of God’s love manifested to us men), and to the blood of sprinkling (naturally following on the mention of διαθήκη, for no διαθήκη is consecrated without blood, ch. Hebrews 9:18; Hebrews 9:22. And if Moses had blood wherewith to sprinkle the people, much more Jesus, of whom Moses was a shadow. And therefore the Writer, enumerating the great differences of our Sion from their Sinai, though he has not recounted their blood of sprinkling, as not being worthy of mention in the face of the terrors of God’s law, mentions ours, by which we were redeemed unto God, and assigns it a place in the heavenly city, next to, but separate from, Jesus Himself in His glorified state. If we come to enquire how this can be, we enter on an interesting but high and difficult subject, on which learned and holy men have been much divided. Our Lord’s Blood was shed from Him on the Cross. And as His Body did not see corruption, it is obvious to suppose, that His Blood did not corrupt as that of ordinary men, being as it is so important a portion of the body. Hence, and because His resurrection Body seems to have been bloodless,—see Luke 24:39; John 20:27, and notes,—some have supposed that the Blood of the Lord remains, as it was poured out, incorruptible, in the presence of God. On such a matter I would neither affirm nor deny, but mention, with all reverence, that which seems to suit the requirements of the words before us. By that Blood we live, wherever it is: but as here it is mentioned separately from the Lord Himself, as an item in the glories of the heavenly city, and as “yet speaking,” it seems to require some such view to account for the words used. Bengel has here a long excursus on the point, in which he takes strongly the above view. Chrys. also seems to have done so, Hom. xxxiii. on Hebrews 13., vol. xii. p. 229, where the text is in some confusion, but Mutianus seems to have expressed the sense (p. 447): “Foris quippe passus est, sed ad cœlum sanguis sublatus est” ( εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν τὸ αἷμα ἀνηνέχθη). The blood of Christ is called αἷμα ῥαντισμοῦ, inasmuch as, like that sacrificial blood of old materially, it is spiritually sprinkled on the conscience of those who come unto God by Him, cf. ch. Hebrews 9:13 ff.; Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 13:12) speaking better ( κρεῖττον adverbially: as in 1 Corinthians 7:38, κρεῖσσον ποιεῖν is opposed to καλῶς ποιεῖν. And the adverb refers not to the manner of the speaking (as Thdrt., διὰ τῶν πραγμάτων φθεγγόμενον: Chrys., τοῦτο γὰρ πάντας ἐκάθηρε, καὶ φωνὴν ἀφίησι λαμπροτέραν καὶ εὐσημοτέραν, ὅσῳ μείζονα τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἔχει τὴν διὰ τῶν πραγμάτων: and Schol.-Matthæi, τὸ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ ἀβὲλ ᾄδεται μόνον, τοῦτο δὲ ἐνεργεῖ τὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων σωτηρίαν. This accords with their understanding of λαλεῖ above in ch. Hebrews 11:4), but to the matter spoken. So, after Cyr.-alex. de Adorat. in Spir., and ver. xv., vol. i. p. 528, Œc., τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀβὲλ αἷμα κατακεκράγει τοῦ φονευτοῦ, τὸ δὲ χριστοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν λαλεῖ πρὸς τὸν πατέρα: “ille flagitabat ultionem, hic impetrat remissionem,” Erasm. (par.). And so most later Commentators. Delitzsch unites both views) than Abel (not, “than that of Abel:” for in ch. Hebrews 11:4, it is Abel himself who speaks, in his blood: see note there).


Verse 25

25.] This voice of the blood of sprinkling, just mentioned, leads naturally to the caution not to despise that voice, nor put it by as they of old did the φωνὴ ῥνμάτων from Sinai. Take heed (more forcible without any inferential particle such as οὖν) that ye decline not (see above on Hebrews 12:19) him that speaketh (i. e. God in Christ, see below). For if they did not escape (how? in one of two senses: either, 1. they did not escape hearing the voice on account of this their παραίτησις: or, 2., which seems more probable, they did not escape God’s vengeance in punishment: the Writer taking this their παραίτησις of the divine voice as a sort of sample of their disobedient and unbelieving spirit), declining as they did (not ‘who declined,’ οἱ παραιτ.) him who spoke ( χρηματίζειν, see on ch. Hebrews 8:5, of an oracular command given by the Deity: and here the χρηματίζων is God, see below) on earth (on Mount Sinai. The construction is a trajection not unusual with our Writer: cf. ch. Hebrews 9:15-16, and Hebrews 12:11), much more we (shall not escape), who are turning away from ( ἀποστρεφόμενοι, ‘aversantes:’ so we have an accusative after ἐκστῆναι, ὑπεκστῆναι, ὑπεκτρέπεσθαι, ἐκτρέπεσθαι, ἀφίστασθαι, &c. See Kühner, § 551, Anm. 3. Cf. ἐξαναχωρεῖν τὰ εἰρημένα, Thuc. iv. 28) him (who χρηματίζει) from (the) heavens (we now come to the somewhat difficult question, the answer to which we have taken for granted in the rendering of this verse: viz. who are intended by the various objects, τὸν λαλοῦντα, τὸν ἐπὶ γῆς χρηματίζοντα, τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν. Let us take the second of these first, as furnishing the key to the others. τίνα λέγει; (says Chrys.) ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ, ΄ωυσῆν. And so Œc., Carpzov, al. But this cannot well be. For παραιτησάμενοι manifestly refers back to Hebrews 12:19; where it was not Moses, but God, whom they παρῃτήσαντο. It must be laid down then as certain, that ὁ ἐπὶ γῆς χρηματίζων is God. Then if so, who is ὁ ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν, or in other words who is ὁ λαλῶν, for these two are manifestly the same? Clearly, not Jesus: for by οὗ ἡ φωνή, which follows, the voice of this same speaker shook the earth at the giving of the law: and it can by no ingenuity be pretended, that the terrors of the law proceeded from the Son of God; especially in the face of the contrast drawn here, and in ch. Hebrews 2:2 ff. And it would be against all accuracy and decorum in divine things, to pass from the speaking of the God of Israel to that of our Lord Jesus Christ in the way of climax as is here done, with πολὺ μᾶλλον, ‘much more shall we not escape.’ Add to which, that, if Christ is to be understood as the subject of Hebrews 12:26 ff., we shall have Him uttering the prophetic words ἔτι ἅπαξ κ. τ. λ., whereas both from our Writer’s habit of quoting prophecy (cf. ch. Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 4:7; Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 11:11) and from the context of the prophecy itself, they must be attributed to the Father. How then are these difficulties to be got over? Simply by taking as above, the speaker in both cases to be GOD: in the first, as speaking from Mount Sinai by His Angels: in the second, as speaking from His heavenly throne through His exalted Son. Thus it is true we lie open to one objection, viz. that the giving of the law is ever regarded in the O. T. as a speaking from heaven: so Exodus 20:22, ὑμεῖς ἑωράκατε, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λελάληκα ὑμῖν: cf. Deuteronomy 4:36; Nehemiah 9:13. But this objection, though at first sight weighty, is by no means decisive. The οὐρανός spoken of is surely nothing but the material heaven, as apparent to the Israelites in the clouds and darkness which rested on Sinai, and totally distinct from the οὐρανός here, the site of our blessed Lord’s glorification, who is spoken of, ch. Hebrews 4:14, as διεληλυθὼς τοὺς οὐρανούς. Thus the words have been explained from early times: e. g. by Theodoret ( παρακελεύεται αὐτοῖς μὴ ζηλῶσαι τὴν ἐκείνων παχύτητα, μηδὲ παραπλησίως ἐκείνοις καταλιπεῖν τὸν δεσπότην, καὶ πρὸς τὸν οἰκέτην δραμεῖν, καὶ ἀντὶ τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν ΄ωυσέα λαβεῖν, καὶ ἀντὶ τῶν καινῶν προσμεῖναι τοῖς παλαιοῖς. καίτοι, φησίν, οὐκ οὐρανόθεν αὐτοῖς ὁ θεός, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῷ σινᾷ ὄρει τὴν νομοθεσίαν ἐδίδου· ἡμεῖς δὲ τὴν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν ἐπιφάνειαν προσδεχόμεθα τοῦ δεσπότου, καὶ διδάσκων ὡς αὐτὸς καὶ τούτων κἀκείνων νομοθέτης γεγένηται, ἐπήγαγεν: where it is true in the last clause he seems rather to incline to believe that the Second Person of the Trinity is throughout spoken of), Calvin, Schlichting, Owen (in the main: “God himself, or the Son of God”), Grot. (“Utrovis modo legas, τόν quod hic legitur et quod sequitur, non distinguit eum cui parendum sit, sed modum quo is se revelavit”), Limborch, Bengel, Peirce, Carpzov, Wetst., Baumgarten, al., Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, Lünemann, Delitzsch, al.);


Verse 26

26.] whose voice (see on last verse) shook the earth then ( ὅτε, φησί, ἐνομοθέτει ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ σινᾷ. So in ref. Judg., in Deborah’s Song, γῆ ἐσείσθηὄρη ἐσαλεύθησαν ἀπὸ προσώπου κυρίου ἐλωΐ, τοῦτο σινᾶ ἀπὸ προσώπου κυρίου θεοῦ ἰσραήλ. Cf. ref. Ps. In Exodus 19:18, where the E. V. has after the Heb., “the whole mount quaked greatly,” the LXX render, καὶ ἐξέστη πᾶς ὁ λαὸς σφόδρα: reading, perhaps, with some Hebrew mss., הָעָם instead of הָהָר. σαλεύειν is intransitive as well as transitive in the classics (e. g. Soph. Œd. Tyr. 23), but in Hellenistic Greek transitive only: see reff. Some take this shaking of the earth to be meant of a figurative excitement of men’s minds: so Justiniani (“Ait Apostolus divinam vocem tunc movisse terram, cum angeli opera tam multa signa in monte Sinai edidit, quæ non modo ingentem admirationem pepererunt, sed non exiguum incusserunt terrorem: nonnullam etiam lætitiam attulerunt bonis, quod legem ab ipso Deo immortali acciperent”), Estius. But there can be little doubt, that the material explanation is the true one. The so-called pentameter, οὗ ἡ φωνὴ τὴν γῆν ἐσάλευσε τότε, could hardly have been observed, but by one whose eye was quicker than his ear), but now ( νῦν, not only ut res nunc se habent, but here in a more temporal sense, as opposed to τότε: now, under the prophetic revelations since the captivity,—under the N. T. dispensation in which those prophecies will find their fulfilment) hath He (God: see above) promised (perf. pass., in middle sense, see ref. and Winer, § 39. 3. Cf. also Acts 13:2; Acts 16:10; Acts 25:12; Exodus 3:18 al. Böhme and Vater would render it passive, “hath it been promised:” but λέγων following, though it might suit the style of the Apocalypse, will not agree with the careful precision of our Epistle), saying, Yet once (more), and I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven. The prophecy in Haggai is uttered, like the whole of his prophecies, with reference to the second temple, which was then rising out of the ruins of the first, smaller indeed and poorer, but destined to witness greater glories. It was to be the scene of the last revelation of Jehovah to His people: and the house of David, then so low, was to rise above the ruins of the thrones of the earth, and endure as the signet on God’s right hand (Haggai 2:21-23). It is this ruin of earthly powers, this antitypical shaking of the earth and all that is in it, after the typical material shaking at Sinai, of which the Prophet speaks. And the result of this shaking was to be, that the best treasures of all nations (not to be understood personally of Christ, but as LXX, ἥξει τὰ ἐκλεκτὰ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν), should be brought to adorn that temple. The expression here (as in LXX) rendered ἔτι ἅπαξ κ. τ. λ. is in the Heb. עוֹד אַחַת מְעַט הִיא וְ, i. e., as in E. V. (see Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erfüll. i. 330, and Hitzig in loc.), “Yet once, it is a little while, and:” i. e. the period which shall elapse shall be but one, not admitting of being broken into many; and that one, but short. Thus the prophecy seems to point to the same great final bringing of all the earth under the Kingdom of God, which is spoken of in Zechariah 14 when the Lord shall come and all his saints with Him, the great antitype of Sinai (cf. Deuteronomy 33:2 ), so often the subject of ancient prophecy. See this more fully entered upon in Hofmann, as above, and in Delitzsch’s note here. It is clearly wrong, with some interpreters, to understand this shaking of the mere breaking down of Judaism before the gospel, or of any thing which shall be fulfilled during the Christian œconomy, short of its glorious end and accomplishment. The οὐ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καί, which the Writer has substituted for the simple καί of the LXX, is adopted for the sake of bringing out the point which is before him, the earth, and the speaking from the earth, on the one hand, the heaven, and the speaking from the heaven, on the other. But the οὐρανός here, that is to be shaken, is the material heaven stretched above this earth.


Verse 27

27.] But (now) this yet once (more) (Hengstenberg’s idea that the Writer lays no stress on ἔτι ἅπαξ, but, in citing these words, means in fact the whole of the prophecy (“this, ἔτι ἅπαξ κ. τ. λ.”), is evidently absurd. It is on these words that the Writer’s argument depends, there being nothing in the following words of the prophecy to imply this removing, but only in the ἔτι ἅπαξ. Still as Delitzsch well argues, the argument does not stand and fall with the ἔτι ἅπαξ of the LXX. The great final shaking which is to introduce the accomplished kingdom of God is at all events that after which there shall be no other. At this the words ἔτι ἅπαξ point: but it does not rest on them for its proof) indicates (see ch. Hebrews 9:8, note) the removal of the things shaken, as of things which have been made, in order that the things which are not (i. e. cannot be, which the μή hints at) shaken may abide (three ways of taking this sentence are grammatically and philologically possible. 1. That given above, to the consideration of which I will presently return. 2. We may join ἵνα &c., not with the fact pointed at, the μετάθεσις τῶν σαλευομένων, as its purpose, but with πεποιημένων, ‘as of things which have been made in order that the things which cannot be shaken may remain:’ i. e. the scope of Creation has been, the establishing of the kingdom of Redemption: that it, the transitory and baseless, may pass away when its work is fulfilled, and give place to that which shall never pass away. This view is strongly taken by Delitzsch, after Grotius, Bengel, Tholuck, al. Before discussing it, we may notice and dismiss (3), which is a mere variety of it, and consists in taking μένειν in the sense of “to await,” or “wait for,” “as of things which have been made in order that they should wait for the things which cannot be shaken.” So Paul Bauldry in 1699 (see Wolf, Curæ, p. 795, h. l.), Storr, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee. But, though μένειν does undoubtedly occur in this sense in Acts 20:5; Acts 20:23, yet the usage of this Epistle is for the other sense, cf. ch. Hebrews 7:3; Hebrews 7:24; Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 13:14. And another objection to this meaning seems to me to be, that in this case it would not be the aorist μείνῃ, indicating the final purpose as expressed once for all, but the present μένῃ, indicating the continuous attitude of expectancy. So that, although the sense would thus be good, and altogether according to St. Paul m Romans 8:18-25, we must pass this by, for the absolute sense of μείνῃ, may abide, endure: cf. Acts 27:41, ἔμεινεν ἀσάλευτος: and Isaiah 66:22, ὃν τρόπον ὁ οὐρανὸς καινὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ καινή, ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ, μένει ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ κ. τ. λ. Nor again can I accede to (2), beautiful as is the thought, and strictly true, that Creation was made but to subserve Redemption: the things removeable, to give place to the things unremoveable. For, α. the word μείνῃ will thus have an exceedingly awkward elliptic sense, “that the things which cannot be shaken may remain,” i. e. “may come into the place of those removed, and thus abide for ever:” for things which cannot be shaken remaining merely, would be a matter of course. This is confessed by Grot.: “nam in id facta est hæc quam videmus machina, ut olim alteri meliori et non immutandæ locum faciat.” But certainly this does not lie in the word μείνῃ. β. The logical propriety as well as the rhythm of the sentence is thus destroyed. For we should on this rendering have the ἵνα clause entirely subordinated to the πεποιημένων, and indicating, not the purpose of the main action of the sentence, but that of the creation, a matter lying quite out of the present record. Certainly, if this were the meaning, we should have had the part. πεποιημένων introduced with a καί, as is generally done when an outlying circumstance is taken into account by the way: as e. g. in 1 Peter 2:8, οἳ προσκόπτουσιν, τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες, εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν. Besides which, I should have expected in this case the aor. part., not the perf., the ἵνα of purpose relating to the time when the Creation took place, rather than to its subsistence since then. So that it seems to me, we must fall back on (1), viz. the making ἵνα belong to μετάθεσιν, the action of the sentence. This, it is true, is not without difficulty. For, α. even thus we must go some little out of our way for a sense for μείνῃ, though not so far as in the other case. μείνῃ must then mean, may remain over, when the σαλευόμενα are gone: may be permanently left: to which sense there is no objection in Greek any more than in English, but it does not exactly fit the requirements of the sentence: β. if πεποιημένων be taken absolutely, “as of things which have been made,” we might be met by the ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ in the citation from Isaiah 66:22 above, to shew that the new heavens and the new earth are also πεποιημένα: see also Isaiah 65:17-18. The answer to this must be, though I own it is not altogether a satisfactory one, that the ποιεῖσθαι is not the same in the two cases: that this word carries rather with it χειροποίητος, ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως, as that word is explained ch. Hebrews 9:11; whereas the other ποιῶ rests in the almighty power of God, by which the spirit-world as well as the world of sense was called into existence. See by all means, on the whole, Luke 21:26).


Verse 28

28.] Wherefore ( διό gathers its inference, not from the whole preceding paragraph, but from the yet once more shaking and consequent removing of earthly things before those things which shall remain) receiving as we do a kingdom which cannot be shaken (the pres. part., with the slightly ratiocinative force. παραλαμβάνοντες, not, as Calvin, “Modo fide ingrediamur in Christi regnum;” and so Schlichting, Limborch, Bengel, Semler; nor does the participial clause belong to the exhortation: but it indicates matter of fact, from which the exhortation sets out, and means (as in Daniel 7:18, καὶ παραλήψονται τὴν βασιλείαν ἅγιοι ὑψίστου, which probably was in the Writer’s mind,—and in other reff.) being partakers of, coming into possession of, βας. or ἀρχὴν παραλαμβάνειν, ‘regnum capessere.’ The participle then will be descriptive of our Christian state of privilege and expectation: proleptically designating us as in possession of that, whose firstfruits and foretastes we do actually possess), let us have thankfulness ( τουτέστιν, εὐχαιστῶμεν τῷ θεῷ, Chrys.: τουτέστι μὴ ἀλγωμεν μηδὲ δυσπετῶμεν, ἀλλʼ εὐχαριστῶμεν τῷ τοιαῦτα καὶ ἤδη δόντι καὶ μελλοντι δώσειν, Thl. And so Elsner, Wolf, Bengel, Böhme, Kuinoel, Bleek, De Wette, Lünemann, Ebrard, Delitzsch. Others render, “let us hold fast grace.” So Syr., Beza, Jac. Cappell., Est., Schlichting, Grot., al. But this is impossible: ἔχωμεν would be κατέχωμεν (ch. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 10:23) or κρατῶμεν (ch. Hebrews 4:14), and the words would probably be in inverted order; besides that χάριν would hardly be anarthrous. On the sense see Psalms 50:23, “whose offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me;” and on χάριν ἔχειν, besides reff., Jos. Antt. vii. 9. 4: Polyb. v. 104. 1: Xen. Mem. i. 2. 7; ii. 6. 21; iii. 11. 2, and many other examples in Bleek), by which (thankfulness) let us serve (the indicative readings, ἔχομεν and λατρεύομεν, are weakly supported, and do not suit the sense nor the inferential διό. And λατρεύωμεν cannot be taken, as in E. V., “by which we may serve,” but must be hortatory like the other) God well-pleasingly (the dative τῷ θεῷ belongs to the verb, not to εὐαρέστως as Valcknaer) with reverent submission and fear (see on ch. Hebrews 5:7 for εὐλάβεια. The rec. reading has against it, 1. the frequent conjunction in ordinary Greek of αἰδώς and εὐλάβεια, of which Bleek gives many examples, and, 2. the fact that δέος occurs no where else in the N. T. or LXX).


Verse 29

29.] For moreover our God is a consuming fire ( καὶ γάρ, as in ch. Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 5:12, and in Luke 22:37, introduces the reason rendered by γάρ as an additional particular not contained in what went immediately before,—answering to the Latin ‘etenim.’ It is quite impossible that the Writer should have meant, “For our God also, as well as the God of the Jews:” as even Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, and Bisping make him say. Besides the utter incongruity of such a mode of expression with any thing found in our Writer or in the N. T., this would certainly have been expressed καὶ γὰρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός. The words are taken from Deuteronomy 4:24, ὅτι κύριος ὁ θεός σου πῦρ καταναλίσκον ἐστί, θεός ζηλωτής. Cf. Deuteronomy 9:3. And thus the fact that God’s anger continues to burn now, as then, against those who reject his Kingdom, is brought in; and in the background lie all those gracious dealings by which the fire of God’s presence and purity becomes to his people, while it consumes their vanity and sin and earthly state, the fire of purity and light and love for their enduring citizenship of his kingdom).

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 12:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-12.html. 1863-1878.


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Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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