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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 4

 

 

Verse 1

1.] Let us fear therefore (Bleek remarks that the words φοβεῖσθαι μή, commonly used,—see Acts 27:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 4:11,—of fear of something happening, here include also the desire to avoid that contingency. It might have been σπουδάσωμεν, as Hebrews 4:11, or βλέπωμεν μήποτε, as ch. Hebrews 3:12, or ἐπισκοπῶμεν, as Hebrews 12:15. But the word seems purposely chosen to express the fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12, with which every servant of God, however free from slavish terror and anxiety, ought to work out his salvation) lest (on μήποτε as only indefinite, not expressing, ‘lest at any time,’ see above on ch. Hebrews 3:12), a promise being still left us (notice the present—not καταλειφθείσης. On the force of this present, very much of the argument rests. Many Commentators, as Erasm., Luther, Calv., Est., Schlichting, Limborch, al., have mistaken this participle to mean “derelicta seu neglecta per infidelitatem ac diffidentiam pollicitatione divina” (Est.). The term καταλείπειν ἐπαγγελίαν might perhaps bear this meaning, which however is not substantiated as to the verb by Acts 6:2, nor as to the object of the verb by Baruch 4:1. But it is decisive against this interpretation, 1. that the participle is present, not past, which it certainly in that case must have been: 2. that ἀπολείπεται in Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:9 takes up again this word: 3. that the article would be wanted before καταλειπ., or it would stand τῆς ἐπαγ. τῆς κατ. The meaning given above, ‘to leave behind for others,’ so that καταλείπεσθαι = ‘superesse,’ is common enough. Bleek gives many examples: e. g. Xen. Cyr. iii. 1. 6, καλὸνκ. αὐτὸν ἐλεύθερον εἶναι, κ. παισὶν ἐλευθερίαν καταλιπεῖν: and often in Polybius, καταλείπεται ἐλπίς: and οὐ μὴν κακῶν αἱρέσεως καταλειπομένης: see Raphel.

Again, as to construction, some, as Cramer and Ernesti, make this genitive governed by the verb ὑστερηκέναι. But against this the want of the article is, if not decisive, a very strong presumption. Our Writer would certainly have expressed this τῆς ἐπ. τῆς κατ. It remains then to take it as a gen. absolute, representing the present matter of fact) of entering (compare ἐξουσίαν περιάγειν, 1 Corinthians 9:5; ὁρμὴ ὑβρίσαι, Acts 14:5; and such expressions as ὥρα ἀπιέναι, κωλύματα μὴ αὐξηθῆναι. The more usual construction would be ἐπαγγελία τοῦ εἰσελθ. See Winer, in reff.) into His rest (it is to be observed, that in the argument in this chapter, the Writer departs from the primary sense of the words κατάπαυσίν μου in the Psalm, and lays stress on αὐτοῦ, making it God’s rest, the rest into which God has entered: see below on Hebrews 4:10. And this is very important as to the nature of the rest in question. So Estius: “Hic per requiem promissam non intelligit terram Chanaan de qua secundum literam Psalmus locutus est, sed patriam cœlestem, quam illa terrena quies mystice significavit.” Of course all references of the rest spoken of to the period after the destruction of Jerusalem, as Hammond (see Whitby’s note against him), or to the cessation of Levitical ordinances, as Michaelis (on Peirce: he does not however repeat it in his other works), are inadequate and out of the question), any one of you (although the communicative form has been used before in φοβηθῶμεν, the second person is here returned to; and of purpose. A similar change is found in ch. Hebrews 10:24-25; and in Romans 14:13. The reading ἡμῶν (mss. 5. 56 vulg.-sixt. Thdrt.) is too obvious an alteration to what might be expected, to come into the text except on overwhelming authority, which it has not) appear (see below) to have fallen short of it (i. e. be found, when the great trial of all shall take place, to have failed of, = to have no part in,—the promise. So δοκῇ is, as so many both of ancients and moderns have taken it, a mild term, conveying indeed a sterner intimation behind it. The Latin will bear the same idiom—“ne quis videatur non assecutus esse”—expressed without the softening word, “ne quis evadat non assecutus.” So, but not exactly, Thl.: ἱλαρώτερον δὲ καὶ ἀνεπαχθέστερον τὸν λόγον ποιῶν οὐκ εἶπε· μὴ ὑστερήσῃ, ἀλλά· μὴ δοκῇ ὑστερηκέναι. I say, not exactly; for I should rather say that δοκῇ ὑστερηκέναι is used, not for ὑστερήσῃ, which would rather require the present, δοκῇ ὑστερεῖν, but for ἐλεγχθῇ, or φανερωθῇ, ὑστερηκώς. We thus fully account for the perfect, which almost all the Commentators who take δοκῇ as pleonastic or as softening, have not attempted, or have failed to do. Another and wholly different interpretation of δοκῇ (and indeed of ὑστερηκέναι) has been given by Schöttgen, Baumgarten, Schulz, Wahl, Bretschneider (both under ὑστερέω), Paulus, and recently taken up and defended with much spirit, and, as is his wont, with no little confidence, by Ebrard: “lest any of you think that he has come too late for it”—i. e. should suppose that, all the promises having been now fulfilled, he has been born too late to have any share in this one. As far as mere usage of individual words is concerned, this interpretation might stand: for δοκεῖν has often, and in our Epistle, this meaning, e. g. ch. Hebrews 10:29, πόσῳ δοκεῖτε κ. τ. λ. And ὑστερεῖν has this meaning— ὑστερήσαντες τῆς μάχης, Polyb.; ὑστεροῦν τῆς βοηθείας, Diod. Sic. p. 391 c; ὑστερεῖν τῆς πατρίδος, Xen. Ages. ii. 1. And this view also seems favoured by the perfect ὑστερηκέναι. As indeed against the general idea of the pleonastic δοκῇ, the perfect would be a strong argument for it. But it is very difficult to persuade oneself that it suits either the mode of expression, or the context. For if this were the object of the caution, why put so prominent a solemn φοβηθῶμεν? would not the exhortation rather have been expressed in a reassuring form, μὴ οὖν τις ᾖ (or ἔστω) φόβος, or μὴ οὖν φοβηθῶμεν, or μὴ δοκῶμεν, or the like? Again, what end would so solemn a caution serve, if merely to explain to the Hebrew converts the fact that the promise had yet a fulfilment waiting for them? This fact indeed the Writer does prove in the subsequent verses; but it is introduced with a καὶ γάρ, and only subserves the purpose already enounced in this verse, that of awakening in them a fear lest their unbelief should be found in the end to have excluded them from the participation of that promise.

The meaning here assigned to ὑστερέω, that of falling short of, is quite borne out: cf. Thucyd. iii. 31, ὁ δʼ οὐδὲ ταῦτα ἐνεδέχετο, ἀλλὰ τὸ πλεῖστον τῆς γνώμης εἶχεν, ἐπειδὴ τῆς ΄ιτυλήνης ὑστερήκει (since he had failed of Mitylene), ὅτι τάχιστα τῇ πελοποννήσῳ πάλιν προσμιξαι: Jos. Antt. ii. 2. 1, οὐδενὸς ὅλως ὑστερεῖν. For the usage of δοκέω, the Commentators quote Jos. Antt. ii. 6.9, οὐδʼ ὧν εἰς ἐμὲ δοκεῖτε ἁμαρτάνειν, ἔτι μνημονεύω: which is a fair instance, notwithstanding Ebrard’s nur auf eine stelle des schmülstigen Josephus: and in Latin, Cic. de Off. iii. 2. 6, “ut tute tibi defuisse videare.” The usage in Galatians 2:9, though not identical, is not very dissimilar, carrying the force of softening the verb to which it is attached).


Verses 1-13

1–13.] In the Son, Israel enters into the true rest of God. On the mingling of the hortatory form with the progress of the argument, see the summary at ch. Hebrews 3:1.


Verse 2

2.] The former half of this verse substantiates the καταλειπομένης of the last verse. The stress is not, ‘we, as well as they,’ which would require ἡμεῖς to be expressed: but lies on εὐηγγε λισμένοι, which includes both us and them.

For good tidings have been also announced ( καὶ γάρ is often used where the γάρ in fact belongs to the chief word in the sentence, but is transposed back to the καί, because it cannot well stand third: see Hartung, i. 138.

This passive use of εὐαγγελίζομαι is found in reff.) to us, as likewise to them (they were not the same good tidings in the two cases: but the Writer treats them as the same. To them indeed it was primarily the inheritance of the land of promise: but even then, as proved below, the κατάπαυσίν μου had a further meaning, which meaning reaches even down to us): nevertheless the word of their hearing ( τῆς ἀκοῆς, gen. of apposition; the word and the ἀκοή being commensurate: ‘the word of (consisting in) that which they heard.’ See note on ref. 1 Thess., where however ἀκοή is connected with παρʼ ἡμῶν. Delitzsch says here: “The classical use of ἀκοή (e. g. ἀκοὴν ἔχω λέγειν τῶν προτέρων, i. e. a tradition from the ancients, Plato, Phædr. p. 274 C) does not by itself explain the apostolic; but we must refer to the Heb. שְׁמוּעָה, that which is received by hearing, the tidings (with the gen. of the thing declared 2 Samuel 4:4, or of the declarer ref. Isa.). That is so called, which the Prophet hears from Jehovah and announces to the people, Isaiah 28:9 ; Jeremiah 49 (29, LXX) 14: and thus there could not be a more appropriate word for that which is heard immediately or mediately from the mouth of the ἀκούσαντες (ch. Hebrews 2:3), and thus for the N. T. preaching, so that the λόγος ἀκοῆς, considered as one idea (ref. 1 Thess.), betokens the N. T. word preached. The expression of this idea not being of itself a N. T. one, it may, without supposition of any reference to such passages as Exodus 19:5 ( ἐὰν ἀκοῇ ἀκούσητε τῆς φωνῆς μου), be used of God’s word spoken to Israel in the time of Moses”) did not profit them, unmingled as they were in faith with its hearers.

The passage is almost a locus desperatus. The question of reading may be solved by consulting the digest. The nominative, which apparently makes the sense so easy, “the word, not being mingled with faith in them that heard it,” rests on no manuscript authority, except that of the Codex Sinaiticus, but mainly on the Peschito and ancient Latin versions. It is notwithstanding retained by Mill, and Tischendorf ed. 7 [and 8], and defended, purely on subjective grounds, by Bleek, De Wette, Lünemann, Ebrard, and Delitzsch. I own that the temptation is strong to follow their example: but the evidence on the other side is very strong, and internal grounds seem to me as decisive in its favour as external. No doubt the difficulty is great: but not, I think, so great in reality, as on the other more tempting and apparently easy construction. I will first discuss this latter, and thus approach the question of the real meaning. The above rendering, “the word, not being mingled with faith in them that heard it,” is that of the great majority of modern expositors: who take τοῖς ἀκούσασιν as a dative either, α. commodi, “for,” or “with” (“chez”) the hearers; β. as = ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων, the dative of the subject after a passive; or, γ. as = “with,” i. e. so that the hearers are they with whom the word was not mingled in, or by, faith. This latter appears to be the sense of the Syr.: “quoniam non commixtus erat per fidem cum iis qui eum audierant:” (Etheridge’s rendering however is “because not contempered with faith in them that heard it:”) and the general understanding of this has been, that as food profits not, unless assimilated and mingled with the body of the eater, so the word did not profit, there being no assimilation of it by faith with (or, according to ( α) and ( β), it not being mingled with faith in) the hearers. Ebrard, alone of all Commentators, strikes out confidently and with some assumption a different path, and, taking this reading, understands that not the non-receptivity of the hearers, but the incapacity of the O. T. word itself to carry faith with it, is meant. I need hardly remind the reader that such a sense is directly against the argument, which knows of but one word,—and against the plain assertion of Hebrews 4:12, which Ebrard tries, without the least indication in the text itself, to interpret of the N. T. word only. It is indeed lamentable that an able expositor, such as Ebrard on the whole is, should suffer himself to be so often carried away by unworthy crotchets, and when so carried away, to speak so confidently of them. But let us now discuss this whole class of renderings. The first objection to it appears to me to be, that it connects μὴ συγκεκραμένος with λόγος. Bleek felt this, and tried to help the sense by the conjecture τοῖς ἀκούσμασιν, originally suggested, from Thdrt.’s explanation, by Nösselt. It would be surely unnatural that the word itself, and not the hearers, should be alleged as in any way the ground of their rejection. And if it be replied, that it is not the word itself, but the circumstance of its being not mixed with faith in them, I answer that such may have been the fact, but considering what our Writer says of the word of God in Hebrews 4:12, it seems to me very unlikely that he should so have expressed it. Then again the μή presents a difficulty on this interpretation. The usages of μή with participles are very difficult to limit accurately, amidst all the varieties of subjectivity introduced by personification and hypothesis: but I think we may safely say, that the occurrence of μὴ συγκεκραμένος applied to λόγος, and indicative of mere historical matter of fact, would not be so likely as that of μὴ συγκεκρασμέν ους, where persons are treated of. And yet more: it seems hardly probable from the form of the sentence, that ἐκείνους and τοῖς ἀκούσασιν should refer to the same persons, as they must do, in case of the nominative reading being adopted. Why not in this case αὐτοῖς, or ἐν αὐτοῖς, or simply τῇ πίστει? I feel however another, and a still weightier objection, to the art. τῇ, in that case. It might doubtless be there, and capable of a good meaning: but when we examine the habit of our Writer, we find that he never uses ἡ πίστις for ‘faith,’ abstract, but always for ‘the faith,’ concrete, of some person spoken of. And this usage is very marked: for in ch. Hebrews 11:1, where he gives a definition of Faith in the abstract, it is ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, not ἡ δὲ πίστις ἐστὶν κ. τ. λ. The other places where he uses it with the art. are ch. Hebrews 11:39, μαρτυρηθέντες διὰ τῆς πίστεως, “by their faith:”—Hebrews 12:2, εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγόν, “of the faith:”—and Hebrews 13:7, ὧν μιμεῖσθε τὴν πίστιν, “whose faith” … So that I conceive we cannot understand here otherwise than, ‘in their faith,’ although the word ‘their’ may be too strong when expressed in English, as almost implying the existence of real faith in them, which did not exist. And I own this consideration sets so strong a barrier against the rec. reading συγκεκραμέν ος, that, it seems to me, no difficulty consequent on adopting the other reading can bear me over it. On these grounds then, as well as external evidence, I feel that the accusative plural should be inflexibly maintained. Then, how are we to understand the sentence? The modern Commentators all declare that it cannot be understood at all. The Fathers, with the exceptions of Cyr.-alex. once, Thdrt. in one edition (both unreal ones, see Bleek, p. 505),—and Lucifer of Cagliari, all read the accus.; and mostly explain the clause, that they ( ἐκεῖνοι) were not mingled in (in respect of) faith with those who really listened and obeyed, viz. Joshua and Caleb. So Chrys.: but his homilies on this Epistle have been so imperfectly reported, that he seems not unfrequently very confused: here, e. g., making Caleb and Joshua those who were not mixed with the multitude; so that Thl., who himself takes the above view, naïvely says of Chrys., τοῦτο δὲ κατὰ τὴν μεγάλην αὐτοῦ κ. βαθεῖαν σοφίαν ὁ ἅγιος οὗτος εἰπών, ἐμοὶ γοῦν τῷ ἀναξίῳ οὐκ ἔδωκε νοῆσαι πῶς αὐτὸ εἶπεν. And so Œc. and Photius (in Bleek), Hammond, Cramer, Matthæi, &c. But the objection to this reference will already have been seen by the student. The exceptions to the general unbelief are not brought out by our Writer, anxious to include all under it for the greater warning to his readers. Theodoret, though quoting ἀκούσασιν, seems to have read ἀκούσμασιν or ἀκουσθεῖσιν, for he interprets μὴ πιστῶς δεξαμένους, κ. τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμει τεθαῤῥηκότας, κ. οἷον τοῖς θεοῦ λόγοις (one ms. reads θεολόγοις) ἀνακραθέντας. And Theodore of Mopsuestia says, οὐ γὰρ ἦσαν κατὰ τὴν πίστιν τοῖς ἐπαγγελθεῖσι συνημμένοι· ὅθεν οὕτως ἀναγνωστέον· μὴ συγκεκραμένους τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν, ἵνα εἴπῃ ταῖς πρὸς αὐτοὺς γεγεννημέναις ἐπαγγελίαις τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ ΄ωυσέως. We have also a testimony from Irenæus of a character hardly to be doubted, pointing to the same reading. It occurs iii. 19.1, p. 212, “Qui nude tantum hominem Eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum, perseverantes in servitute pristinæ inobedientiœ moriuntur, nondum commisti verbo Dei Patris.” If we could set aside the objection to ἀκουσθεῖσιν, that it has next to no external authority in its favour, it would be a not improbable reading, for we have this very participle in ch. Hebrews 2:1; and in Stobæus xlv. 8, we find these lines from Menander: δεῖ τὸν πολιτῶν προστατεῖν αἱρούμενον τὴν τοῦ λόγου μὲν δύναμιν οὐκ ἐπίφθονον, ἤθει δὲ χρηστῷ συγκεκραμένην ἔχειν. But at present, it cannot come into question as a reading at all. Besides which, there would be this objection to it, that ἀκούσαντες has already occurred in this passage, and as implying those who heard the word, ch. Hebrews 3:16. Taking then τοῖς ἀκούσασιν, and rejecting the idea that it means Caleb and Joshua, or implies yielding assent and obedience, we have but this way open to us, which, though not without difficulty, is yet neither sinnlos nor contertwidrig. ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς having been mentioned in the general sense of ‘the word heard,’ οἱ ἀκούσαντες is also in the general sense of ‘its hearers,’ and the assumption is made, that the word heard has naturally recipients, of whom the normal characteristic is ‘faith.’ And so these men received no benefit from ‘the word of hearing,’ because they were not one in faith with its hearers; did not correspond, in their method of receiving it, with faithful hearers, whom it does profit. So that I would take τοῖς ἀκούσασιν not as historical, ‘those who heard it,’ as in John 5:25, οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσονται.… κ. οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσονται. I fairly own that this interpretation does not satisfy me: but it seems the only escape from violation either of the rules of criticism or of those of grammar: and therefore I am constrained to accept it until some better is suggested.


Verse 3

3.] For (taking up again τῇ πίστει in Hebrews 4:2; not the καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας of Hebrews 4:1, as rendering a new reason for it, as Bengel: nor the καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν &c. of Hebrews 4:2, as De W. and Delitzsch. It may certainly be said, that the emphatic position of εἰσερχόμεθα includes also Hebrews 4:1 in that to which γάρ applies: but then it must not be forgotten that οἱ πιστεύσαντες is equally, if not more emphatic, and thus Hebrews 4:2 is included, at the very least) we do enter (are to enter, as ὁ ἐρχόμενος and the like. On the reading εἰσερχώμεθα, see on Romans 5:1. Some Commentators have seen a communicative and conciliatory tone in the first person here. So Calvin: “In prima persona loquendo majori eos dulcedine allexit, ab alienis ipsos separans.” But Bleek and Lünem. well remark that it is not so; for οἱ πιστεύσαντες brings out a class distinct from the rest, as in ch. Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 12:25) into the (aforesaid) rest (not only, as E. V., “into rest,” abstract), we who believed (the aor. is proleptical, the standing-point being the day of entering into the rest: so in reff. It was unbelief which excluded them: the promise still remains unfulfilled, see below: they who at the time of its fulfilment shall be found to have believed, shall enter into it), even as He hath said (this citation evidently does not refer to the whole of what has just been said, but only to the fact, that the rest has not yet been entered into in the sense of the promise. The condition, πιστεύσαντες, is not yet brought into treatment, but follows below in Hebrews 4:11 in hortatory form, having in fact been demonstrated already in ch. Hebrews 3:12-19. Œc. and Thl. understand the πιστεύσαντες as also substantiated by our verse: so also Bengel: “An vero ex hoc testimonio efficitur, nos per fidem ingredi in Dei regnum? minime id quidem per se: sed ita est si omnia connectas, tum præcedentia tum sequentia: nam si infidelitas arcet ab aditu, fides certe introducit.” But this seems unnatural: see the connexion below), As I sware in my wrath, If (see above on ch. Hebrews 3:11) they shall enter into my rest: although (the context is much disputed. I believe it will be best taken thus: the Writer is leading on to the inference, that the entering into God’s rest is a thing YET FUTURE for God’s people. And this he thus brings about. ἡ κατάπαυσίς μου is not a thing future for God:—He has already entered therein,— καίτοι to αὐτοῦ end of Hebrews 4:4. Still (Hebrews 4:5) we have again, after God had thus entered in, the oath, They shall not, &c. Consequently, since (Hebrews 4:6) it remains that some must enter in, and they to whom it was first promised did not, on account of unbelief,—for that they did not (i. e. none of them did), is plain by His repeating in David, after the lapse of so many centuries, the same warning again (Hebrews 4:7), which He would not have done if Joshua had led Israel into that rest (Hebrews 4:8):—since this is so, the sabbatism of God’s people is YET FUTURE (Hebrews 4:9), and reserved for that time when they shall rest from their labours, as God from His (Hebrews 4:10). Then follows a concluding exhortation, Hebrews 4:11-16. Thus all is clear, and according to the progress of the argument. The other views have been, α. that of Lyra, Calvin, Beza, Seb. Schmidt, Wolf, Kuinoel, al., most of whom understand a second κατάπαυσιν before τῶν ἔργων,—and render καίτοι, “idque,” “and that”—“in requiem meam, nempe illam ab operibus a fundatione mundi factis,” as Seb. Schmidt. But this involves two mistakes: καίτοι can never mean nempe or idque, and this meaning would require τῶν ἀπὸ κατ. κ. &c., without which article it is of necessity a primary, not a secondary predicate. And indeed thus some of the above (Limborch, Cramer) take it, and construe, still however forcing καίτοι,—“namely, into the rest which came in when the works were finished,” &c. β. That of Calvin (“tametsi operibus a creatione mundi perfectis. Ut definiat qualis sit nostra requies, revocat nos ad id, quod refert Moses, Deum statim a creatione mundi requievisse ab operibus suis, et tandem concludit hanc esse veram fidelium requiem, quæ omnibus sæculis durat, si Deo sint conformes”), Beza, Böhme, &c. And there is some portion of truth in this, but it does not rightly represent the context. For the fact, that God’s rest is that into which we are to enter, is not proved, nor concluded, but taken for granted, and underlies the whole argument, the object of which is to shew that that κατάπ. μου is, though not a future rest for God, a future rest for us to enter into, when we have finished our works, as He his. γ. That of Erasm. (par.), a-Lapide, Grot., Hamm., Calov., and many others, who hold that two, or as Chrys., Œc., Thdrt., Thl., that three different rests are spoken of (e. g. Thl., ὥσπερ τὸ σάββατον κατάπαυσις λέγεται παρὰ τῇ γραφῇ, καὶ οὐδὲν ἐκώλυσε κατάπαυσιν μετὰ ταῦτα λεχθῆναι καὶ τὴν εἰς τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας εἴσοδον· οὕτως οὐδὲ νῦν κωλύει μετὰ ταύτην πάλιν κατάπαυσιν κληθῆναι τὴν μέλλουσαν, τὴν τῶν οὐρανῶν φημι βασιλείαν, εἰς ἢν οἱ ἀπιστήσαντες οὐκ εἰσελεύσονται). But this is manifestly wrong: there is not a word nor a hint of a second or third rest: the ordinance of the Sabbath is not so much as alluded to: ἡ κατάπαυσίς μου is, all through, the rest into which God has entered; and the object, to shew that into this, God’s people have yet to enter. The fact that men did not, by the ordinance of the Sabbath, enter into it, lies, as an easily to be assumed thing, beneath the surface, but is not asserted nor even implied. δ. It would be hardly worth while to mention Ebrard’s view, were it not for his name and ability. It is strange in the last degree:— ἔργα are “man’s works:” not exactly good works, for we have none: not the works of the law, for they came afterwards: but all human works (alles das, was ἔργα gennant werden könne), which had been going on since the creation, yet were not sufficient to bring us into God’s rest, but required a new way of salvation, viz. not one of works, but of faith, to effect this. So that τῶν ἔργων is a contrast to πιστεύσαντες: and in Hebrews 4:4, τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ a contrast to τῶν ἔργων here, the one God’s, the other man’s, works. I need but state this to the reader, to shew him how utterly preposterous it is, and foreign from the context, in which not a word is indicated of the contrast between works and faith, but every thing of that between belief and unbelief) the works (viz. of God: an expression borrowed from the citation which follows) were constituted (i. e. finished. What Ebrard says against this meaning, that it is making the aorist participle = γεγενημένων, the perfect, is altogether without force. That the 1 aor. pass. of γίνομαι may almost always be tracked to its original passive meaning, once maintained in note on 1 Thessalonians 1:5, does not appear to be a safe assertion: see note there in 3rd and subsequent Edns. of Vol. III. In our Epistle, however, it may generally be done: e. g. ch. Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 6:4 (Hebrews 10:33; Hebrews 11:34). This being so, τὰ ἔργα ἐγενήθη will simply mean, ‘the works were constituted,’ ‘were settled in their established order,’ ‘were made;’ and so by consequence ‘were finished.’ The word seems to be taken from the constant repetition of ἐγένετο in Genesis 1., and the passive used because the agent is here in question) from the foundation ( καταβολή occurs in the N. T. only in this connexion, except ch. Hebrews 11:11. See on ch. Hebrews 6:1) of the world (i. e., as explained above on καίτοι, and substantiated in next verse, though God Himself had not that rest to enter into, and did not mean this by ἡ κατ. μου, but had entered into the rest of which He speaks: the key verse to this being Hebrews 4:10).


Verse 4

4.] Substantiation of the last assertion. For he (God, not Moses, nor ἡ γραφή: see above on εἴρηκεν: see ch. Hebrews 13:5) hath spoken somewhere (see above on ch. Hebrews 2:6) concerning the seventh day (so in Hellenistic Greek constantly for the Sabbath: as e. g. in the title of one of Philo’s treatises, περὶ τῆς ἑβδόμης: and elsewhere: see Bleek. In 2 Maccabees 15:1, the Sabbath is called ἡ τῆς καταπαύσεως ἡμέρα) on this wise, And God rested (in classical Greek καταπαύω is transitive, with an accusative of the person and a genitive of the thing: so Xen. Cyr. viii. 5. 25, ἤν τις ἀρχῆς κῦρον ἐπιχειρῇ καταπαύειν. For this other usage, see Hebrews 4:10, and reff. LXX. The rest here spoken of must not be understood only as that of one day after the completion of creation; but as an enduring rest, commencing then and still going on,—into which God’s people shall hereafter enter. Still less must we find here any discrepancy with such passages as John 5:17; Isaiah 40:28; God’s rest is not a rest necessitated by fatigue, nor conditioned by idleness: but it is, in fact, the very continuance in that upholding and governing, of which the Creation was the beginning) on the seventh day from all His works:


Verse 5

5.] and in this (place: but it is hardly necessary to fill up the ellipsis: Bleek quotes from Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 20, μαρτυρεῖ δὲ καὶ ἐπίχαρμος ἐν τῷδε. See reff. τούτῳ here means, not, this which follows, but this passage about which we are treating: our present passage) again (i. e. on the other hand: a citation which shall qualify and explain that other, making it impossible that men should have already entered into it), If they shall enter into my rest (these words are to be taken exactly as before, in a strong negative sense; not, as D1(see var. read.), and Primas., Böhme, al., indicatively. The point raised is, that in the days of Moses, nay long after, of David, men had not yet, in the full sense at least, entered into that rest, because it was spoken of as yet future: it being of no import to the present argument, whether that future is of an affirmative or negative proposition: the negative denunciation in fact implying in itself the fact, that some would enter therein. So Calov. (in Bleek), “Et in dicto paulo ante loco iterum loquitur Spiritus Sanctus de requie sua, ‘Non ingredientur in requiem meam,’ significans scilicet hac comminatione, quandam adhuc quietem restare sperandam iis, qui non sunt increduli nec comminationi prædictæ obnoxii”).


Verse 6

6.] Since then it yet remains (see reff.: this is the sense in all three places in our Epistle: remains over, not having been previously exhausted. ἀπολείπεται, ἀπομένει, Hesych. The time indicated by the present here is that following on the threat above) that some enter into it (viz. by the very expectation implied in the terms of the exclusion—‘These shall not:’ therefore there are that shall: because, the εἰσελεύσεσθαι τινάς being a portion of God’s purposes, the failure of these persons will not change nor set aside that purpose. This latter consideration however does not logically come into treatment, but is enthymematically understood;—“since what God once purposed, He always purposes.”

We must beware of Delitzsch’s inference, that the τινάς implies that some had on each occasion entered into it, meaning, “there are some left yet to enter.” For thus the reasoning, as such, would be quite invalidated; which is concerned in establishing, not that some part of the entrance is yet future, but that the entrance itself, as such, is so. That some have entered in, as matter of fact, is true enough; but even they not yet perfectly, ch. Hebrews 11:39 f.; and the τινάς here is used, not in respect of others who have entered in, but in respect of those who did not, when the words were used on the former occasion), and those who were formerly (as contrasted with David’s time, and with the present) the subjects of its announcement (viz. the Israelites in the wilderness) did not enter in on account of disobedience (not, “unbelief:” see on ch. Hebrews 3:18. The first clause— ἐπεὶ οὖν ἀπολ. τινὰς εἰσελθ., was a deduction from the terms of the divine denunciation, as to God’s general purpose; and now this second clause is a particular concrete instance in which that general purpose was not carried out. Since some must, and they did not, the implied promise is again found recurring many centuries after), again (emphatic: anew) He limiteth (reff.: and Demosth. p. 952. 20, ὁ μὲν τοίνυν νόμος σαφῶς οὑτωσὶ τὸν χρόνον ὥρισενhas fixed, specified, assigned, limited the time. See many more examples in Bleek) a certain day (Valcknaer and Paulus make τίνα interrogative, the former ending the question at ἡμέραν, the latter, at χρόνον. But this cannot well be, with the emphatic πάλιν prefixed), saying “To-day” (He begins his citation here with the word σήμερον; but having interrupted it by ἐν δ. λέγων, μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον, καθὼς προείρηται, takes it up again below. This is much the simplest way to take the sentence (so also Delitzsch): not, as Calv., Beza, Grot., Jac. Cappell., Bleek, De W., Bisping, to make the first σήμερον a terminus in apposition with τινὰ ἡμέραν, “a certain day, viz. ‘To-day,’ ” and then to go on from ἐν to προείρηται before coming to the citation: nor again to understand with Heinrichs, al. and E. V., the first σἡμερον as the whole of the first citation, and then to start with the second at καθὼς ( προ) είρηται) in David (‘in,’ as in reff.: as we say, ‘in Isaiah,’ meaning, ‘in the book of Isaiah.’ This is better and more natural than, with Luther, Grot., Lünem., Delitzsch, al., to understand ἐν instrumental (?), “by David;”—or with Bengel, al., as he understands ch. Hebrews 1:1, ἐν προφήταις, ἐν υἱῷ, i. e. as local, dwelling in, inspiring,—though this is better than the other) after (the lapse of) so long a time (viz. the time between Joshua and David. The blunder of understanding the words, “after such a time as we have before mentioned, viz. forty years (?)” has been endorsed by Dr. Bloomfield from Whitby, although in his previous note he had given the right interpretation, and although he puts καθὼς εἴρηται in a parenthesis in his text), as it has been said before (viz. ch. Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 3:15. According to the reading προείρηται, there can hardly be a question that the reference of the words is backward, to what has been already cited, not forwards to the words which follow. This latter being imagined, the readings προείρηκεν and εἴρηται have arisen), To-day, if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts.


Verse 8

8.] Confirmation of the above, as against an exception that might be taken, that notwithstanding the exclusion of many by unbelief, those who entered the promised land with Joshua did enter into that rest of God. For if Joshua ( ἰησοῦς is the constant Greek form of the name יְהוֹשׁוּעַ, or as in the later books, Chron., Ezra, and Nehemiah, יֵשׁוּעַ . It does not appear that any parallel between the typical and the great final Deliverer is intended: but it could hardly fail to be suggested to the readers. Our translators, in retaining the word “Jesus” here, have introduced into the mind of the ordinary English reader utter confusion. It was done in violation of their instructions, which prescribed that all proper names should be rendered as they were commonly used) had given them rest (led them into this rest of which we are treating: for the usage of καταπαύω, see above, on Hebrews 4:4; and compare reff.), He (God: the subject of ὁρίζει and λέγων above) would not speak (not “have spoken,” as E. V. Compare Thuc. iii. 55, εἰ δʼ ἀποστῆναι ἀθηναίων οὐκ ἠθελήσαμεν (if we had not consented &c.) ὑμῶν κελευσάντων, οὐκ ἠδικοῦμεν (we should be doing no wrong),—and John 15:24, εἰ τὰ ἔργα μὴ ἐποίησα ἐν αὐτοῖς, ἃ οὐδεὶς ἄλλος ἐποίησεν, ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ εἴχοσαν, “If I had not done &c.,—they would not have sin”) after this of another day.


Verse 9

9.] Consequence from the proposition in Hebrews 4:6. Some must enter therein: some, that is, analogous to, inheriting the condition of and promises made to, those first, who did not enter in because of disobedience. These are now specified as ‘the people of God,’ cf. reff., doubtless with a reference to the true spiritual character of Israelites indeed, represented under their external name: and their rest is no longer a κατάπαυσις, but (see below) is called by a higher and nobler name. Therefore (see above) there remains (see on Hebrews 4:6; remains as yet unexhausted, unoccupied, unrealized) a keeping of sabbath (as regards the word, it is only found, besides here, in Plut. de Superstitione, c. 3, ὦ βάρβαροι ἐξευρόντες, ἕλληνες κακὰ τῇ δεισιδαιμονίᾳ, πηλώσεις, καταβορβορώσεις, σαββατισμούς, ῥίψεις ἐπὶ πρόσωπον, αισχρὰς προκαθέσεις, ἀλλοκότους προσκυνήσεις. It is regularly formed from σαββατίζω (reff.), as ἑορτασμός from ἑορτάζω. It is used here to correspond to the κατάπαυσίς μου, specified and explained in Hebrews 4:4. God’s rest was a σαββατισμός; so also will ours be. Thdrt. remarks: σαββατισμὸν δὲ τὴν κατάπαυσιν κέκληκεν, ἐπειδὴ ἐν τῇ ἑβδύμῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατέπαυσεν ὁ θεὸς ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων ὧν ἐποίησεν, ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι δὲ βίῳ ἄλυπος ἔσται ζωὴ κ. πόνων ἐλευθέρα καὶ φροντίδων ἀπηλλαγμένη. σαββατισμὸν τοίνυν ὠνόμασε τὴν τῶν σωματικῶν ἔργων ἀπαλλαγήν. τοῦτο γὰρ δηλοῖ τὰ ἑξῆς. The idea of the rest hereafter being the antitype of the Sabbath-rest, was familiar to the Jews: see the quotations in Schöttg., Wetst., and Bleek. They spoke of the tempus futurum as the “dies qui totus est sabbathum.” It is hardly probable that the sacred Writer had in his mind the object which Calvin mentions: “Non dubito quin ad Sabbathum data opera alluserit apostolus, ut Judæos revocaret ab externa ejus observatione: neque enim aliter potest ejus abrogatio intelligi, quam cognito spirituali fine.” Still more alien from the sense and context is it to use this verse, as some have absurdly done, as carrying weight one way or the other in the controversy respecting the obligation of a sabbath under the Christian dispensation. The only indication it furnishes is negative: viz. that no such term as σαββατισμός could then have been, in the minds of Christians, associated with the keeping of the Lord’s day: otherwise, being already present, it could not be said that it ἀπολείπεται) for the people of God (the well-known designation of Israel the covenant people. It occurs again, ch. Hebrews 11:25. Here it is used of that veritable Israel, who inherit God’s promises by faith in Christ: cf. Galatians 6:16. So Photius: καὶ αὕτη οὐ τοῖς τυχοῦσι, ἀλλὰ τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀφιερωμένη, λαὸς δὲ ἀληθῶς τοῦ θεοῦ οἱ πιστεύσαντες εἰς αὐτὸν κ. φυλάσσοντες τὰ προστάγματα αὐτοῦ).

Hebrews 4:10 is taken in two ways (not to mention the untenable interpretation of Schulz, which refers ὁ γὰρ εἰσελθών to the people of God, “for, when it has entered,” &c. This would be εἰσελθὼν γὰρ without the article): 1. as a general axiom, justifying the use of the word σαββατισμός above: For he that has entered into his (God’s) rest, has himself also rested from his (own) works, like as God rested from his own. This has been the usual explanation. Thl. says, ἑρμηνεύει πῶς σαββατισμὸν ὠνόμασε τὴν τοιαύτην κατάπαυσιν· διότι φησὶ καταπαύομεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων τῶν ἡμετέρων, ὥσπερ καὶ ὁ θεός, καταπαύσας ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων τῶν εἰς σύστασιν τοῦ κόσμου, σάββατον τὴν ἡμέραν ὠνόμασεν. This explanation labours under two difficulties: α. the aorist κατέπαυσεν, which thus is made into a perfect or a present. De Wette regards it as a reminiscence of the same word in Hebrews 4:4; so Delitzsch: but this is most unsatisfactory: β. the double reference of αὐτοῦ, first to God, and then to the man in question, especially when God’s works are taken up by the strong term τῶν ἰδίων. 2. The other interpretation has been that of Owen, Alting, Stark, and more recently Ebrard, who refer ὁ εἰσελθών to Christ: For He that entered into his (own or God’s) rest, Himself also rested from His works like as God rested from His own: and therefore, from our Forerunner having entered into this sabbatism, it is reserved for us, the people of God, to enter into it with and because of Him. Thus, as Ebrard says, Jesus is placed in the liveliest contrast to Joshua, who had not brought God’s people to their rest; and is designated as ‘That one, who entered into God’s rest.’ And to this view I own I am strongly inclined, notwithstanding the protest raised against it by Bleek, Lünemann, and Delitzsch. My reasons are, in addition to those implied above, α. the form of the assertion, as regards Joshua here and Jesus in Hebrews 4:14. That a contrast is intended between the ἰησοῦς who did not give them rest, and the ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, seems very plain. And if so, it would be easily accounted for, that Christ should be here introduced merely under the designation of ὁ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τ. κατάπ. αὐτοῦ. β. The introduction of the words καὶ αὐτός, lifting out and dignifying the subject of this clause as compared with ὁ θεός, in a way which would hardly be done, had the assertion been merely of any man generally. γ. Scripture analogy. This rest, into which the Lord Jesus entered, is spoken of, Isaiah 11:10, καὶ ἔσται ἡ ἀνάπαυσις αὐτοῦ, τιμή: and this work of His, in Isaiah 40:10, καὶ τὸ ἔργον ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ, and by Christ Himself, John 9:4, ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πέμψαντός με ἕως ἡμέρα ἐστίν· ἔρχεται νύξ, ὅτε οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐργάζεσθαι. δ. The expression ἐκείνην τὴν κατάπαυσιν below, which stands harshly insulated unless it refers to the κατάπαυσιν in this verse. ε. The whole context: see summary at ch. Hebrews 3:1. Render then: For He that entered into his (either, ‘God’s;’ or more probably merely ‘his,’ reflective, as in Isaiah 11:10 above: see also Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23, where the χαρά is τοῦ κυρίου σου) rest, He Himself also (on this, see above) rested from his works (see above) as God from his own ( τῶν ἰδίων not with any distinction of kind, but used only to mark distinction of possession).


Verses 11-13

11–13.] Exhortation, so frequently interspersed in the midst of the argument: see on ch. Hebrews 3:1. Let us therefore (consequence from Hebrews 4:3-7; seeing that the promise is held out to us, as it was to them, and that they failed of it through disobedience) earnestly strive (not, as vulg., “festinemus:” see reff.) to enter into that rest (viz. that mentioned in Hebrews 4:10, into which Christ has entered before, cf. Hebrews 4:14; ch. Hebrews 6:20), lest any one fall into (so vulg., Luth., Beza, Corn. a-Lap., Grot., Abresch, Lünemann, Delitzsch, al., and rightly, both from usage and from the position of the verb. Had πέσῃ been absolute, ‘fall,’ = ἐκπέσῃ, as Chrys, Œc., Thl., Calv., Schlichting, Wolf, Bengel, Bleek, De W., Thol., al., its position in the sentence certainly must have been more prominent. As it stands, it holds the most insignificant place, between the genitive in government and the word governing it. And usage abundantly justifies the idiom πίπτειν ἐν, for ‘to fall into.’ Cf. πεσεῖν ἐν ὕπνῳ, Pind. Isthm. iv. 39: ἐν ὀρφανίᾳ, Isthm. viii. 14: ἐν ἀφύκτοισι γυιοπέδαις πεσών, Pyth. ii. 75: τίνων ποτʼ ἀνδρῶν ἐν μέσοις ἀρκυστάτοις πέπτωχʼ ὁ τλήμων; Soph. El. 1475: ἐν κλύδωνι καὶ φρενῶν ταράγματι πέπτωκα δεινῷ, Eurip. Herc. Fur. 1092. The construction is simply a pregnant one— πίπτειν εἰς, so as to be ἐν) the same example ( ὑπόδειγμα is found fault with by the Atticists: παράδειγμα λέγε, μὴ ὑπόδειγμα, Thom. Mag.: and similarly Phrynichus. But Bleek shews that it is in frequent use, from Xenophon downwards. Its proper meaning is, something shewn in a light and merely suggestive manner: so in ch. Hebrews 8:5, οἵτινες ὑποδείγματι καὶ σκιᾷ λατρεύουσιν τῶν ἐπουρανίων. But it is oftener used, as here, to signify a pattern or example, good or bad: cf. besides reff., Jos. B. J. Hebrews 6:1, καλὸν ὑπόδειγμα βουλομένῳ σώζειν τὴν πατρίδα σοι πρόκειται βασιλεὺς ἰουδαίων ἰεχονίας: and other examples in Bleek) of disobedience (not, unbelief: see on ch. Hebrews 3:18. It was οἱ ἀπειθήσαντες who failed to enter in).


Verse 12-13

12, 13.] Apart from the difficulties of some terms used, we may give the connexion thus: Such an endeavour is well worth all our σπουδήfor we have One to do with, who can discern and will punish every even the most secret disobedience. For the word of God (in what sense? 1. The λόγος ὑποστατικός, Personal Word, has been understood by many, e. g. the Fathers in general (see the copious reff. in Bleek’s note here), Œc., Thl. (as commonly supposed, but see below, and judge), Thdrt. (by no means certain), Thom. Aquin., Lyra, Cajetan, Corn. a-Lap. (“Longe aptius et melius alii intelligunt Dei Filium”), Jac. Cappellus, Owen, Le Clerc, al. To this the first obvious objection is, that this mode of expression is confined to St. John among the N. T. writers. This, however, though clearly not to be met by alleging such passages as Luke 1:2 and Acts 20:32, is not decisive. For our Epistle, though perhaps anterior to all the writings of St. John, is yet so intimately allied to the Alexandrine terminology, that it would be no matter of surprise to find its Writer using a term so nearly ripe for his purpose as we find ὁ λόγος in Philo (see below). The real objections to the Personal λόγος being simply and directly here meant, lie in the Epistle, and indeed in the passage itself. In the Epistle: for we have no where in it this term used with any definiteness of our Lord, nor indeed any approach to it; not even where we might have expected it most, in the description of His relation to the Father, ch. 1 init. Every where He is the SON of God, not His Word. And in ch. Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 11:3, that expression is changed for ῥῆμα θεοῦ, when, especially in the latter place, had the idea of the personal λόγος been familiar to the Writer, he would almost certainly have said νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας λόγῳ θεοῦ, not ῥήματι θ. And in the passage itself: for such adjectives as ἐνεργής and κριτικός, and even ζῶν, as matter of emphatic predication, would hardly be used of the Personal λόγος: and, which to my mind is stronger evidence still, had these words applied to our Lord, we should not have had him introduced immediately after, Hebrews 4:14, as ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ. But, 2. some of the ancient, and the great mass of modern Commentators, have understood by the term, the revealed word of God, in the law and in the gospel: or in the gospel alone, as contrasted with the former dispensation. And so even some of those who elsewhere in their writings have understood it of Christ: e. g. Origen (on Matthew 19:12, tom. xv. 4, vol. iii. p. 656, εἰ τὸν λόγον τις ἀναλαβὼν τὸν ζῶντα κ. ἐνεργῆ κ. τ. λ., … ἐκτέμνοι τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς παθητικόν: on Romans 12:7, lib. ix. 3, vol. iv. p. 650: “Verbum Dei omnia, etiam quæ in occulto sunt, perscrutatur: maxime cum vivens sit, et efficax &c. … etenim cum moralis in ecclesia sermo tractatur, tunc uniuscujusque intra semetipsam conscientia stimulatur” &c.), Euseb., Aug(28) Civ. Dei xx. 21. 2 (vol. vii.) al. But neither does this interpretation seem to meet the requirements of the passage. The qualities here predicated of the λόγος do not appear to fit the mere written word: nor does the introduction of the written word suit the context. I should be rather disposed with Bleek to understand, 3. the spoken word of God, the utterance of His power, by which, as in ch. Hebrews 11:3, He made the worlds,—by which His Son, as in ch. Hebrews 1:3, upholds all things. This spoken word it was, which they of old were to hear and not harden their hearts: σήμερον, ἐὰν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε κ. τ. λ.: this spoken word, which interdicted them from entering into His rest— ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου. It seems then much more agreeable to the context, to understand this utterance of God, so nearly connected with God Himself, the breath of his mouth: and I would not at the same time shrink from the idea, that the Alexandrine form of expression respecting the λόγος, that semi-personification of it without absolutely giving it hypostatical existence, was before the mind of the Writer. Indeed, I do not see how it is possible to escape this inference, in the presence of such passages as this of Philo, Quis Rer. Div. Hær. § 26, vol. i. p. 491, ἵνα ἐννοῇς θεὸν τέμνοντα, τάς τε τῶν σωμάτων καὶ πραγμάτων ἑξῆς ἁπάσας ἡρμόσθαι καὶ ἡνῶσθαι δοκούσας φύσεις, τῷ τομεῖ τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγῳ, ὃς εἰς τὴν ὀξυτάτην ἀκονηθεὶς ἀκμήν, διαιρῶν οὐδέποτε λήγει τὰ αἰσθητὰ πάντα, ἐπειδὰν δὲ μέχρι τῶν ἀτόμων καὶ λεγομένων ἀμερῶν διεξέλθῃ κ. τ. λ.: and again, ib. § 27, p. 492, οὕτως ὁ θεὸς ἀκονησάμενος τὸν τομέα τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγον, διαιρεῖ τήν τε ἄμορφον καὶ ἄποιον τῶν ὅλων οὐσίαν. See, on the whole, Delitzsch’s note.

The idea of Ebrard, that this word, meaning the gospel, is introduced to give weight to σπουδάσωμεν—“Let us do our part, for the gospel of God is not wanting in power on its part,” is too absurd to need refutation or even mention, were it not for his name) is living (not, in contrast with the dead works of the law (Ebr.), of which there is no question here; nor, as Carpzov, nourishing, and able to preserve life: nor enduring, as Abresch and Schlichting: but as E. V., quick, i. e. having living power, in the same sense in which God himself is so often called “the living God,” e. g. ch. Hebrews 10:31. So in reff.: so Soph. Œd. Tyr. 482, speaking of the prophecies, τὰ δʼ ἀεὶ ζῶντα περιποτᾶται, where the Schol. has, ἰσχύοντα τῇ ἀληθείᾳ. Thl., who besides finds in ζῶν a proof of the hypostatic Personality, says well: ὥσπερ τότε, φησίν, οὐ πόλεμος, οὐ μάχαιρα αὐτοὺς ἀπώλεσεν, ἀλλʼ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγος, αὐτόματοι γὰρ κατέπιπτον, οὕτω καὶ ἐφʼ ἡμῖν ἔσται. ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς λόγος καὶ ἐκείνους ἐκόλασε καὶ ἡμᾶς κολάσει· ζῇ γὰρ ἀεὶ καὶ οὐκ ἔσβεσται. The emphatic position of ζῶν, the omission of ἐστι, the frequent repetition of καί, all tend to increase the rhythm and rhetorical force of the sentence. Some have thought that the Writer was citing from some other source: but for this there does not appear any reason) and active (= ἐνεργός, which is the commoner form (see Bleek), found in Xen., Demosth., and often in Polybius, in which latter however the mss. often give us ἐνεργής. In one place, xi. 23. 2, this latter seems undoubted,— ἐνεργῆ ποιούμενοι τὴν ἔφοδον. It is a word of the κοινή or Macedonian dialect. This activity is the very first quality and attribute of life: so that the predicates form a climax: not only living, but energizing: not only energizing, but τομώτερος κ. τ. λ.: and not only that, but διϊκνούμενος κ. τ. λ.: nor that only, but reaching even to the spirit, κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων κ. ἐννοιῶν καρδίας), and sharper ( τομός, an adj. formed from τέμνω, is found in Plato, Tim. 61 E: Plut. Sympos. vi. 8; viii. 9: its comparative in ref., and Lucian, Toxar. ii. al.: the superlative, in the well-known exordium of Ajax’s dying speech, Soph. Aj. 815) than (Bleek has shewn that the construction τομώτερος ὑπὲρ μάχαιραν, for τόμος ὑπὲρ μ. or τομώτερος μαχαίρας, is not Hebraistic; for in Heb. there is no comparative; we have it in ref. Judges, ἀγαθώτερος σὺ ὑπὲρ βαλὰκ υἱὸν ζεπφώρ: and the similar construction with παρά in ch. Hebrews 1:4, where see remarks) every two-edged sword (lit. two-mouthed: meaning, sharpened on both sides, both edge and back. The expression (reff.) is found in classic poetry, e. g. δίστομον ξίφος, Eurip. Hel. 992: δίστομα φάσγανα, id. Orest. 1296, and other instances in Bleek. The more usual word is ἀμφήκης, Il. κ. 256: Soph. Aj. 286: Electr. 485. We have ἀμφίθηκτος, Antig. 1309. As regards the comparison itself, of the word of God or of men to a sword, it is common in Scripture: see Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7; Psalms 64:3; Wisdom of Solomon 18:15-16; Revelation 1:16; and above all, Ephesians 6:17. It has been questioned, whether the office here ascribed to the word of God is punitive, or merely searching: whether it regards the foes, or the servants of God. There seems no reason why we should separate the two. The same WORD, to which evidently by the succeeding clause is attributed the searching power, is powerful also to punish. The μάχαιρα belongs to the surgeon, and to the judge: has its probing as well as its smiting office. And so Chrys.: αὐτὸς τὰ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ κρίνει· ἐκεῖ γὰρ διαβαίνει καὶ κολάζων καὶ ἐξετάζων. Bleek points out the close relation of this similitude to a series of passages in Philo, especially in the treatise Quis Rerum Divinarum Hæres. There, in speaking of Abraham’s sacrifice, and explaining διεῖλεν αὐτὰ μέσα, which act he refers to God, he says: τῷ τομεῖ τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγῳ· ὅς, εἰς τὴν ὀξυτάτην ἀκονηθεὶς ἀκμήν, διαιρῶν οὐδέποτε λήγει τὰ αἰσθητὰ πάντα, ἐπειδὰν δὲ μέχρι τῶν ἀτόμων καὶ λεγομένων ἀμερῶν διεξέλθῃ, πάλιν ἀπὸ τούτων τὰ λόγῳ θεωρητὰ εἰς ἀμυθήτους καὶ ἀπεριγράφους μοίρας ἄρχεται διαιρεῖν οὗτος ὁ τομεύς, § 26, vol. i. p. 491. And further on, he divides these διχοτομήματα made by the λόγος into triads, and says, ψυχὴ γὰρ τριμερής ἐστι, δίχα δὲ ἕκαστον τῶν μερῶν, ὡς ἐδείχθη, τέμνεται· μοιρῶν δὲ γινομένων ἕξ, ἕβδομος εἰκότως τομεὺς ἦν ἁπάντων, ὁ ἱερὸς καὶ θεῖος λόγος. From these and similar passages (cf. esp. Quod Deterior Potiori Insid. § 29, p. 212: De Cherubim, § 9, p. 144 ff.), we may reasonably infer, that the writings of Philo were not unknown to the Writer of this Epistle. The same conclusion has been also drawn by Grotius and Bleek. See Prolegg. § i. 155), and reaching through (so ἱκνεῖται λόγος διὰ στήθεων, Æsch. Sept. c. Theb. 515: διικνεῖσθαι διʼ ὤτων ποτὶ τὰν ψυχάν, Tim. Locr. p. 101 A: ἡ δόξα διῖκτο μέχρι βασιλέως, Plut. Dem. 20) even to dividing of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow (there has been considerable diversity in the taking of these genitives. I have regarded them as follows: ψυχῆς and πνεύματος, not coupled by τε καί, but only by καί, denote two separate departments of man’s being, each subordinate to the process indicated by μερισμοῦ. The λόγος pierces to the dividing, not of the ψυχή from the πνεῦμα, but of the ψυχή itself and of the πνεῦμα itself: the former being the lower portion of man’s invisible part, which he has in common with the brutes, the ἄλογον τῆς ψυχῆς of Philo; the latter the higher portion, receptive of the Spirit of God, the λογικὸν τῆς ψυχῆς of the same; both which are pierced and divided by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Then, passing on to ἁρμῶν τε κ. μυελῶν, I do not regard these terms as co-ordinate with the former ψυχῆς κ. πνεύματος, but as subordinate to them, and as used in a spiritual sense, not a corporeal (as many Commentators and recently Delitzsch): implying that both the ἁρμοί and the μυελοί of the ψυχή and of the πνεῦμα are pierced and divided by the λόγος. This I conceive is necessitated both by the τε, expressed in this second clause, and by the sense, which otherwise would degenerate into an anti-climax, if ἁρμῶν τε κ. μυελῶν were to be understood of the body. (The metaphorical sense of μυελός is amply justified by such expressions as εἰσδεδυκυῖα ( ὀδύνη) εἰς αὐτὸν τὸν μυελὸν τῆς ψυχῆς, Themist. Orat. 32, p. 357: χρῆν γὰρ μετρίας εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλίας θνητοὺς ἀνακίρνασθαι καὶ μὴ πρὸς ἀκρὸν μυελὸν ψυχῆς, Eur. Hippol. 255 ff. And ἁρμός is not an anatomical, but a common term, which might be applied to any kind of compages, as ἁρμὸς θύρας, Dion. Hal. Hebrews 4:7; ἁρμοὶ λίθων, ref. Sir. &c.) This, which is in the main the sense given by Grot., Kuin., Bl., De W., Lünem. (nearly also of Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, i. p. 258 f., who somewhat harshly makes the genitives ψυχῆς κ. πνεύματος dependent on ἁρμῶν τε κ. μυελῶν), being laid down, I proceed to examine the divergences from it. 1. That which regards the μερισμός as being a division of the soul from the spirit, the joints from the marrow (on this latter see below). This is given as early as by Chrys. as an alternative: ἡ γὰρ ὅτι τὸ πνεῦμα διαιρεῖ ἀπὸ τῆς ψυχῆς, λέγει· ἢ ὅτι καὶ αὐτῶν τῶν ἀσωμάτων διικνεῖται. And Œc., understanding πνεῦμα of the Holy Spirit: ἡγοῦμαι οὖν νῦν τοῦτο εἰρῆσθαι, ὅτι χωρισμὸν ἐργάζεται τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, κ. ἀφαιρεῖται αὐτὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ψυχῆς: and so, but giving the alternative, Thl. And so Erasm.-paraph. (“adeo ut dissecet animam a spiritu”), J. Cappellus, Wolf, Bengel, al. The objections to this are both psychological and contextual. It has been rightly urged (see especially Ebrard’s note here) that the soul and spirit cannot be said to be separated in any such sense as this: and on the other hand, the ἁρμοί and μυελοί could not be thus said to be separated, having never been in contact with one another. 2. Many Commentators, who hold the division of soul from spirit, are not prepared to apply the same interpretation to the ἁρμῶν τ. κ. μυελῶν; although, reading the former τε, it becomes philologically necessary that the two clauses should be strictly parallel. Not reading the former τε, it becomes possible to make ἁρμῶν τε κ. μυελῶν dependent, not on μερισμοῦ but on ἄχρι, which has been done by Cyril of Alexandria, de Fest. Pasch. Hom. xxii. vol. x. p. 275 b, καθικνεῖται δὲ καὶ μέχρις ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν, and De Adorat. xvi. vol. i. p. 561, μέχρις ἁρμῶν τε κ. μυελῶν τὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθικνεῖσθαι λόγον, and Schlichting (see below), C. F. Schmid, Paulus, al. But certainly, had this been meant, the ἄχρις would have been repeated before ἁρμῶν. Otherwise it would be exceedingly harsh. 3. Many understand μερισμοῦ to mean, not the act of division, but the place where the division occurs. So Böhme, “Ita ut per intervalla, si quæ sint, animæ animique, et compagum medullarumque penetret, seque insinuet:” Schlichting, “Ad loca usque abditissima ubi anima cum spiritu connectitur, itemque ubi sunt membrorum compages et medullæ.” And so, more recently, Ebrard. The objection to this is, partly the omission of what would in that case be the requisite article before μερισμοῦ, and partly as before, that thus ἁρμ. τ. κ. μυ. must be constructed with ἄχρι: see above. 4. One meaning is given by Œc. (after Cyril: ὁ ἐν ἁγίοις κύριλλος ἐν προσφόρῳ χωρίῳ καὶ οὕτως ἐδέξατοτὸ περὶ τοῦ θεοῦ κήρυγμα διαιρεῖ φησὶ καὶ μερίζει τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς μέρη, δεκτικὴν ποιῶν κ. χωρητικὴν τῶν ἀκουομένων), and Thl. (but not approved by the latter, as Bl. who has been misled by the Latin: for he says τινὲς δὲ οὕτως ἐδέξαντο τὸν λόγον, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν οὐκ ἀκολούθως τῷ ἀποστολικῷ σκοπῷ, and then proceeds as Œc., except that he puts τοῦ μυστηρίου for τῶν ἀκουομένων). But clearly this cannot be the meaning, with γάρ after a caution), and a judger (or, discerner: not as Kuinoel, condemner. The word is good Greek, as a simple predicate: so Plato, Pol. 260 C, τὸ κριτικὸν μέρος: with a gen., it seems to be of later usage: Palm and Rost quote ὀφθαλμοὶ κριτικοὶ τοῦ κάλλους from Basil the Great: but the government of a gen. by verbals in - ικός is regular: we have παρασκευαστικὸς τῶν εἰς τὸν πόλεμον, κ. ποριστικὸς τῶν ἐπιτηδείων, Xen. Mem. iii. 1. 6: διδασκαλικὸς τῆς αὐτοῦ σοφίας, Plato, Euthyph. p. 3 C: see Kühner, § 530 h h; it is the genitivus materiæ) of (the) thoughts ( ἐνθύμημα is the commoner word: but Thucyd. (i. 123), Eurip. (Frag. 20), Isæus, and Aristotle (Bl.) use - ησις in much the same sense; - ησις being properly the action of the thought itself, - ημα the thing conceived or thought of. But these two become frequently confused in later Greek) and ideas (this seems the nearest term to ἔννοια. Plato gives rather a mysterious definition of it— συντονία διανοίας. But the usage, where the word wavers, as here, between the process in the mind itself and that which is the result of the process, points very much to our ‘idea.’ Thus ἔννοιαν λαμβάνειν τινός, Demosth. p. 157 18: ἡ κοινὴ ἔννοιά τινος, Polyb. x. 27. 8. In ib. i. 4. 9, we have ἔννοια distinguished from ἐπιστήμη: ἔννοιαν μὲν γὰρ λαβεῖν ἀπὸ μέρους τῶν ὅλων δυνατόν· ἐπιστήμην δὲ καὶ γνώμην ἀτρεκῆ ἔχειν, ἀδύνατον. Certainly the “intentiones” of the vulg. (“intents,” E. V.), though apparently answering to the Platonic definition, does not give it here (though this seems the sense in 1 Peter 4:1), nor does “consilia” of Erasmus: “conceptus” of Crell. is better. Bengel says, “ ἐνθύμησις, intentio, involvit affectum; ἔννοια, cogitatio, quæ dicit simplicius, prius et interius quiddam.” But though strictly speaking this might be the meaning of ἐνθύμησις ( ἐν θυμῷ), it does not carry so much in ordinary usage) of the heart (the inner and thinking and feeling part of man in Scripture psychology; die innere Mitte des menschlichen Wesenbestandes, in welcher das dreifache Leben des Menschen zusammenläuft, Delitzsch, biblische Psychologie, § 12 init., which see; and Beck, Umriss der biblischen Seelenlehre, p. 63 ff.):


Verse 13

13.] and there is not a creature (for the concrete κτίσμα, as so often, see reff. The term embraces all created things, visible and invisible, cf. Colossians 1:16) unseen (a classical word: see Palm. and Rost’s references) in his presence (first as to the gen. pron. αὐτοῦ: to what does it refer? to ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, or to τοῦ θεοῦ itself? The idea of its referring to Christ falls with the untenableness of the personal meaning of λόγος: although Calov., Schöttgen, al., abandoning that, yet hold it. Then of the two other, it seems much the more obvious to refer it to τοῦ θεοῦ, especially in the presence of τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ, and πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος below. Nor is there any harshness in this; from speaking of the uttered word of God, whose powers are not its own but His, the transition to Himself, with Whom that word is so nearly identified, is simple and obvious. The expression ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, common in the N. T. and especially in St. Luke, is apparently Alexandrine, and borrowed from the LXX, where it answers to the Heb. לִפְנֵי ): but ( δέ, in the strongly adversative sense which it several times has in our Epistle: cf. ch. Hebrews 2:6, and note there, also Hebrews 4:15 below; ch. Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:27; Hebrews 12:13. This it gains by its force of passing altogether to a new subject, excluding entirely from view that which is last treated: q. d. “tantum absit, ut.… ut.…”) all things are naked (it had been said by Böhme, that this metaphorical meaning of γυμνός was unknown to the Greeks: but see Herod. viii. 19, ταῦτα μὲν εἰς τοσοῦτο παρεγύμνου: also i. 126; ix. 44: and γυμνῶν τῶν πραγμάτων θεωρουμένων, Diod. Sic. i. p. 69. The herald in the Areopagus forbade the witnesses ληρεῖν πρὸς τὴν βουλὴν καὶ περιπέττειν τὸ πρᾶγμα ἐν τοῖς λόγοις, ὡς γυμνὰ τὰ γεγενημένα οἱ ἀρεοπαγῖται βλέποιεν, Lucian, Gymnas. p. 401. And Marc. Antonin. xii. 2, says, in language very similar to this, ὁ θεὸς πάντα τὰ ἡγεμονικὰ γυμνὰ τῶν ὑλικῶν αγγείων καὶ φλοίων καὶ καθαρμάτων ὁρᾷ) and prostrate (see at the end of this note: resupinata, manifesta; πεφανερωμένα, Hesych. The various meanings given to this difficult word τραχηλίζειν, form a curious chapter in the history of exegesis. Its first and most common classical acceptation seems to be, to take by the throat, as an adversary in a struggle, or an athlete in wrestling might do, for the purpose of overthrowing. So (to give merely one example among many which will be found in Wetstein, and better arranged in Bleek) ὁρᾶτε τὸν ἀθλητὴν ὑπὸ παιδισκαρίου τραχηλιζόμενον, Plut. de Curiositate, p. 521 b. And thus some have interpreted it here: “laid open,” as an athlete, caught by the neck and overthrown, lies for all to see. But as Bl. remarks, this last particular, which does in fact carry the whole weight of the comparison, comes in far too accidentally and subordinately. Another meaning has been proposed by Perizonius (on Ælian, Var. Hist. xii. 58) derived from the practice of stripping and bending back the necks of malefactors, that all might see their faces and shame, so producing the very opposite of the privacy which a man seeks when ashamed, by bowing down his head and covering his face. Thus Sueton. Vitel. 17: “(Vitellius) relegatis post terga manibus, injecto cervicibus laqueo, veste discissa, seminudus in forum tractus est—reducto coma capite ceu noxii solent, atque etiam mento mucrone gladii subrecto, ut visendam præberet faciem, neve submitteret.” And Pliny, Panegyr. 34. 3: “Nihil tamen gratius, nihil sæculo dignius, quam quod contigit desuper intueri delatorum supina ora retortasque cervices, agnoscebamus et fruebamur, quum velut piaculares publicæ sollicitudinis victimæ supra sanguinem noxiorum ad lenta supplicia gravioresque pœnas ducerentur.” And this is the interpretation followed by Elsner, Wolf, Baumgarten, Kuinoel, Bretschneider, Bleek, De Wette, al. But here again, though the meaning is apposite enough, we have no precedent for the Greek word being thus used, or for any such custom being familiar to Greeks. So that this interpretation can hardly be the true one. The ancients give very various renderings. Chrys. says: τετραχηλισμένα εἶπεν ἀπὸ μεταφορᾶς τῶν δερμάτων τῶν ἀπὸ τῶν σφαζομένων ἱερείων ἐξελκομένων: but does not justify such an application of the word. Œc.: τετραχηλισμένα δὲ φησὶ τὰ γυμνά, ἀπὸ μεταφορᾶς τῶν προβάτων τῶν ἐκ τοῦ τραχήλου ἠρτημένων κ. γεγυμνωμένων τῆς δορᾶς· ἀντὶ τοῦ κάτω κύπτοντα κ. τὸν τράχηλον ἐπικλίνοντα, διὰ τὸ μὴ ἰσχύειν ἀτενίσαι τῇ δόξῃ ἐκείνῃ τοῦ κριτοῦ καὶ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ. Thdrt.: ἐκ μεταφορᾶς τέθεικε τῶν θυομένων ζώων, ἃ παντελῶς ἄφωνα κεῖται, τῆς σφαγῆς τὴν ζωὴν ἀφελομένης, καὶ μετὰ τῆς ζωῆς τὴν φωνήν. οὕτω, φησί, καὶ ἡμεῖς κρινόμενοι θεώμεθα μὲν ἅπαντα τὰ δυσσεβῶς παρʼ ἡμῶν ἢ παρανόμως γεγενημένα· σιγῶντες δὲ τὴν τῆς τιμωρίας δεχόμεθα ψῆφον, ἅτε δὴ τὸ δίκαιον αὐτῆς ἐπιστάμενοι. Thl.: ἀπὸ μεταφορᾶς τῶν ἐκδερομένων προβάτων. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐκείνων τραχηλισθέντων, ἤτοι κατὰ τοῦ τραχήλου τὴν μάχαιραν δεξαμένων καὶ σφαγέντων, μετὰ τὸ καθελκυσθῆναι τὸ δέρμα πάντα καὶ τὰ ἔνδον ἐκκαλύπτεται· οὕτω καὶ τῷ θεῷ πάντα δῆλα. τινὲς δέ, τετραχηλισμένα, τὰ ἐκ τοῦ τραχήλου, ἢ μᾶλλον κατὰ τοῦ τραχήλου κρεμάμενα ἐνόησαν. He then mentions the second alternative of Œc. above, and ends, σὺ δὲ τὸ πρῶτον δέξαι. I have given all these to shew how various have been the renderings, and how universally acknowledged the difficulty of the word. The objection to the sacrificial rendering is, that the word never seems to have been used of any such process:—see all the meanings given in Palm and Rost sub voce. In seeking for a way out of the difficulty, it seems to me that the frequent use of the word by Philo, ought, in a passage cast so much, as we have seen, in Philo’s mode of rhetorical expression, to enter as a considerable element into our decision. Wetst. gives us twenty passages in which the word and its compound ἐκτραχηλίζω occur in that writer: and the uniform meaning is, to lay prostrate, generally in a metaphorical sense: e. g. De Cherub. § 24, vol. i. p. 153, μηδʼ ὅσον ἀνακύψαι δυνάμενος, ἀλλὰ πᾶσι τοῖς ἐπιτρέχουσι καὶ τραχηλίζουσι δεινοῖς ὑποβεβλημένος: De Vita Mos. i. 54, vol. ii. p. 127, τραχηλιζόμενοι δὲ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις πάντʼ ὑπομένουσι δρᾶν τε καὶ πάσχειν: Quod Omnis Probus Liber, § 22, p. 470, ὑφʼ ἡδονῆς δελεάζεται, ἢ φόβῳ ἐκλύει, ἢ λύπῃ συστέλλεται, ἢ ὑπʼ ἀπορίας τραχηλίζεται. And as we have seen in the beginning of this note, this is the simplest and most frequent sense in the classical writers. See also very numerous examples in Wetstein. I would therefore accept this metaphorical sense here, and regard the word as signifying entire prostration and subjugation under the eye of God: not only naked, stripped of all covering and concealment,—but also laid prostrate in their exposure, before His eye. I own myself not thoroughly satisfied with this, but I am unable to find a better rendering which shall at the same time be philologically justified) to His eyes (dat. commodi: for His eyes to see); with Whom we have to do (there could not be a happier rendering than this of the E. V., expressing our whole concern and relation with God, One who is not to be trifled with, considering that His word is so powerful, and His eye so discerning. And so Calv., Beza, Bengel, Kuin., Bleek, De W., Lünem., Ebrard, Delitzsch, al. The ancients, without exception, confined this relation to one solemn particular of it, and rendered, “to whom our account must be given:” so Chrys.: ἀντὶ τοῦ· αὐτῷ μέλλομεν δοῦναι εὐθύνας τῶν πεπραγμένων. And many of the moderns also take this view: e. g. Erasm. (par.), Michaelis, Bretschneider, Stuart, al. Others suppose it to mean, “concerning whom is our discourse,” referring to ch. Hebrews 5:11, περὶ οὗ πολὺς ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος. So Luther, a-Lapide, Schlichting, Grot., Wolf, al. But, even conceding that πρός may well bear this meaning, which has not been shewn (see Bleek, p. 591 note), the meaning itself is far too vapid here, and finds no fit representation in the Epistle itself, which cannot be said to be, in any such sense, πρὸς θεόν or περὶ θεοῦ.

As regards the punctuation, and emphasis, it seems better to make πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος an independent clause and to set a colon at αὐτοῦ, than as commonly done, to join αὐτοῦ, πρὸς ὅν. For by so doing, we weaken very much the force of the sentence, in which, after the predicative clause, the stress is on ἡμῖν: and besides, we violate the strict propriety of αὐτοῦ, making it = ἐκείνου).


Verse 14

14.] Having therefore ( οὖν refers rather to the whole exhortation than to the ἔχον τες: see Delitzsch) a great High Priest (the fact of this being Christ’s office is as yet assumed: see above ch. Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1; and Philo cited in note there:—but now with more points of contact with what has been already said; e. g. Hebrews 4:10, where the εἰσελθὼν εἰς τ. κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ has close connexion with the High Priest entering within the veil. μέγαν, as in ch. Hebrews 13:20, τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν: answering very much to the use of ἀληθινός, in St. John,— ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινή,— ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν:—one archetypal High Priest,—one above all) passed through (not “into,” as E. V., Calvin, al.: see below) the heavens (as the earthly high priest passed through the veil into the holiest place, so the great High Priest through the heavens to God’s throne (on this, and its bearing on the Lutheran doctrine of Christ’s ubiquity, see Bleek, Tholuck, and Delitzsch in loc.): cf. ch. Hebrews 9:11; with reference also to Hebrews 4:10, the entering of Jesus into His rest. In this fact, His greatness is substantiated. On οὐραν ούς, plur., see on ch. Hebrews 1:10. “Per cœlos intelliguntur omnes cœli, qui inter nos et Deum sunt interjecti: nempe et tota aeris regio, quæ etiam cœlum in scriptura vocatur, et cœli in quibus sunt sol, luna, cæteræque stellæ ac mundi luminaria, quibus omnibus Christus sublimior est factus, infra Hebrews 7:26; Ephesians 4:10. Post hos omnes est cœlum illud, in quo Deus habitat, immortalitatis domicilium, quod ingressus est pontifex noster, non supergressus.” Schlichting. Thl. gives another expansion of the reference of this clause which may also have been intended: οὐ τοιοῦτος οἷος ΄ωυσῆς· ἐκεῖνος μὲν γὰρ οὔτε αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν, οὔτε τὸν λαὸν εἰσήγαγεν· οὗτος δὲ διεληλυθὼς τοὺς οὐρανοὺς συνεδριάζει τῷ πατρί, κ. δύναται ἡμῖν τὴν εἰς οὐρανοὺς εἴσοδον δοῦναι, καὶ τῆς ἐν ἐπαγγελίαις καταπαύσεως κληρονόμους ποιῆσαι), Jesus the Son of God (certainly not so named in this connexion without an allusion to the ἰησοῦς above mentioned. We cannot conceive that even a careful ordinary writer would have used the same name of two different persons, so designating the second of them, without intention. At the same time, there is no reason for supposing that such an allusion exhausts the sense of the weighty addition. It brings out the majesty of our High Priest, and justifies at the same time the preceding clause, leading the mind to supply ‘to God, whose Son He is.’ Besides which, it adds infinite weight to the exhortation which follows), let us hold fast (not as Tittmann, al., “lay hold of:” it is the opposite to παραπίπτειν, ch. Hebrews 6:6; παραρυῆναι, Hebrews 2:1. On the genitive, see reff. In ch. Hebrews 6:18, the aor. gives the sense ‘lay hold of’) the confession (viz. of our Christian faith: not merely of Christ’s ascension, nor merely of Christ as our High Priest: cf. ch. Hebrews 3:1 and not, and ch. Hebrews 10:23, which gives more the subjective side, here necessarily to be understood also. See also ch. Hebrews 3:6.

Corn. a-Lapide gives a beautiful paraphrase: “Agite Hebræi, persistite in fide Christi, ad requiem in cœlis properate: esto cœli longe a nobis absint, facile eos conscendemus et penetrabimus, duce Christo, qui eos penetravit, eosque nobis pervios fecit, dummodo confessionem, i. e. professionem, scilicet fidei et spei nostræ, constanter retineamus”).


Verses 14-16

14–16.] Hortatory conclusion of this second course of comparison (see summary at ch. Hebrews 3:1); taking up again by anticipation that which is now to be followed out in detail, viz. the High Priesthood of Jesus. This point is regarded by many (e. g. Bl., De W., Lünem., Thol., Hofm.,—Schrb. ii. 1. 44,—after Beza, who says: “Hinc potius oportuerat novam sectionem aperiri”) as the opening of the new portion of the Epistle: but on account of its hortatory and collective character, I prefer regarding it, with Ebrard, as the conclusion of the preceding: being of course at the same time transitional, as the close connexion of ch. Hebrews 5:1 with our Hebrews 4:15 shews. It is much in the manner of the Writer, to anticipate, by frequently dropped hints, and by asserting that, which he intends very soon to demonstrate.


Verse 15

15.] For (how connected? certainly not as grounding the facts just stated; but as furnishing a motive for κρατεῖν τῆς ὁμολογίας. The effort is not hopeless, notwithstanding the majesty of our High Priest, and the power of the Word of our God: for we are sympathized with and helped by Him. As Schlichting, “Occupat objectionem. Poterat enim aliquis dicere: quid me magnus iste Pontifex dura confessionis nostræ causa patientem juvabit, qui quanto major est, quanto a nobis remotior, tanto minore fortassis nostri cura tangetur?” To suppose, as some have done, that a contrast to the Jewish high priests is intended, is to contradict directly ch. Hebrews 5:2. Rather is our great High Priest in this respect expressly identified with them) we have not a high priest unable (thus better than “who is not able,” τὸν μὴ δυνάμενον) to sympathize with (“The verb συμπαθέω, immediately from συμπαθής, as by the same analogy ἀντιπαθέω, δυσπαθέω, εὐπαθέω, ἡδυπαθέω, μετριοπαθέω, ὁμοιοπαθέω, is like all these derivative forms, good Greek. Stephanus states it is to be found in Isocrates: ὥστε καὶ ταῖς μικραῖς ἀτυχίαις ἕκαστος ἡμῶν πολλοὺς εἶχε συμπαθήσοντας. Philo de Septenar. § 13, vol. ii. p. 290: τῷ δὲ ἀπόρως ἔχοντι συνεπάθησε καὶ μετέδωκεν ἐλέους κ. τ. λ. In St. Paul, we have συμπάσχειν (reff.) which our Epistle has not, but in a somewhat different meaning, that of actual community in suffering with another, whereas our word is spoken of one sympathizing, taking part in heart with the sufferings of another. Erasmus (annot.): ‘Est affici moverique sensu alieni mali.’ συμπάσχειν might indeed be used in this sense, but hardly συμπαθεῖν in the other.” Bleek) our infirmities (not sufferings, as Chrys., Thdrt., al. For the idea would be here out of place, and the word cannot have this meaning. Bleek has well examined its region of significance; and shewn that it can only betoken primarily the inner and a priori weakness,—be that physical, and thereby leading to exposure to suffering and disease, which itself is sometimes called by this name (see John 11:4; Luke 5:15; Luke 8:2 al.: ch. Hebrews 11:34),—or spiritual and moral,—whereby misery arises, and sin finds entrance, as in ch. Hebrews 5:2; Hebrews 7:8. Both these, indeed all human infirmities, are here included. With all does the Son of God sympathize, and for the reason now to be given), nay rather (on δέ being a stronger adversative than ἀλλά, see on Hebrews 4:13 above), (one) tempted (Ebrard has a good note on the subject of our Lord’s temptations) in all things (see on ch. Hebrews 2:17) according to (our) similitude ( ἡμῶν is the natural word to supply. So in ch. Hebrews 7:15, κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα ΄ελχισεδέκ. It might be πρὸς ἡμᾶς: so Aristot. de Mundo (Bl.), κατὰ τὴν πρὸς ταῦτα ὁμοιότητα: Philo de Profugis, § 9, vol. i. p. 553, κατὰ τὴν πρὸς ἄλλα ὁμοιότητα, see ref. Gen. St. Paul uses ὁμοίωμα, not ὁμοιότης: cf. Romans 1:23; Romans 5:14; Romans 6:5; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7) apart from sin (so that throughout these temptations, in their origin, in their process, in their result,—sin had nothing in Him: He was free and separate from it. This general reference is the only one which fully gives the general predication, χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας. And so it has been usually taken. But there are considerable divergences. Œc.: ὅτι οὐχ ἁμαρτιῶν ἐτίννυε δίκην ταῦτα, φησί, πάσχων. So Thl. altern.: Schlichting, “Ut ostendat, Christum innoxium prorsus fuisse, nec ullo modo hæc mala quæ passus est commeritum:” al. But this would require πεπειρασμένον to be confined in its meaning to such sufferings as might be inflicted on account of sin: and would altogether deprive it of the meaning ‘tempted,’ ‘solicited towards, but short of sin.’ Again, very many Commentators take the words to imply, that He was tempted in all other points, but not in sin: “sin only excepted.” So Jac. Cappellus, Storr, Ernesti, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Schleusner, Wahl, and Bretschneider, and al. But the words certainly do not lead to any such interpretation. They would rather in this case be, εἰ μὴ καθʼ ἁμαρτίαν, or χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας would stand before καθʼ ὁμοιότητα. The Commentators refer to passages of Philo in which he states the High Priesthood and the sinlessness of the λόγος in a manner very similar: e. g. De Profugis, § 20, p. 562: λέγομεν γάρ, τὸν ἀρχιερέα οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀλλὰ λόγον θεῖον εἶναι, πάντων οὐχ ἑκουσίων μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκουσίων ἀδικημάτων ἀμέτοχον).


Verse 16

16.] Exhortation to confidence, even in our guilt and need, grounded on this sympathy of our great High Priest. Let us therefore approach ( προσέρχεσθαι, only once used by St. Paul, 1 Timothy 6:3, and that in a totally different sense, προσέρχεσθαι ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις, is a favourite word in this Epistle, cf. ch. Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 11:6; Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22, and generally in the same sense as here, that of approach to God, either, as under the O. T., by sacrifices, or, as under the N. T., by the one sacrifice of Christ. The same idea is expressed Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12, by the word προσαγωγή: see also reff.) with confidence (ref. and note there) to the throne of grace (i. e. not, as Seb. Schmidt, al., Christ Himself,—nor, as Chrys., Œc., Thl., Thdrt., Primasius, Limborch, al., the throne of Christ,—nor is there any allusion to the lid of the ark of the covenant as the mercy-seat, which both would here be alien from the immediate context, and would introduce a confusion of metaphors in a purely spiritual passage: but, by the analogy of this Epistle, it is the throne of God, at the right hand of which ( ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης, ch. Hebrews 8:1; ἐν δεξ. τ. θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ, Hebrews 12:2) Jesus our Forerunner is seated. That it is here called the throne of grace, is owing to the complexion of the passage, in which the grace and mercy of our reconciled God are described as ensured to us by the sympathy and power of our great High Priest), that we may receive ( λαμβάνειν here clearly in its passive recipient sense, as ch. Hebrews 2:2 al.) compassion (corresponding to that συμπάθεια of our High Priest above spoken of: but extending further than our ἀσθένειαι, to the forgiveness of our sins by God’s mercy in Christ), and may find grace (we have εὑρίσκειν ἔλεος, in ref. 2 Tim. εὑρ. χάριν is common in the LXX. The meaning is not very different from λαβεῖν ἔλεος. Many distinctions have been set up, but none appear to hold. Both, the receiving ἔλεος and finding χάριν, apply to the next clause) for help in time (i. e. σήμερον, while it is yet open to us: as Chrys., ἂν νῦν προσέλθῃς, φησί, λήψῃ καὶ χάριν καὶ ἔλεον· εὐκαίρως γὰρ προσέρχῃ· ἂν δέ ποτε προσέλθῃς, οὐκέτι· ἄκαιρος γὰρ ἡ πρόσοδος· οὐ γάρ ἐστι τότε. θρόνος χάριτος· θρόνος χάριτός ἐστιν ἕως κάθηται χαριζόμενος ὁ βασιλεύς, ὅταν δὲ ἡ συντέλεια γένηται, τότε ἐγείρεται εἰς κρίσιν,—Thl., Calvin, referring to 2 Corinthians 6:2 (from Isaiah 49:8), καιρῷ δεκτῷ ἐπήκουσά σου.… ἰδοὺ νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος,—Estius, al., Bleek, De W., Lünem., Ebrard, Tholuck. This is decidedly the right interpretation, and not as many Commentators and the E. V., “in time of need,” “as often as we want it,” which would be both flat, and hardly justified by usage, cf. ref. Mark. Delitzsch objects to the above view as weder dem Ausdruck noch der Situation recht entsprechend: but his own, that they were to apply for help which might come in good time, before the danger which surrounded them became so pressing that they must sink under it from inability to resist,—surely comes nearly to the same. There is no reason why the two should not be united: εὔκαιρον,—while the throne of grace is open, and you yourselves not overwhelmed by the danger).

 


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


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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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