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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 6



Other Authors
Verses 11-20

11–6:20.] Digression, before entering on the comparison of Christ with Melchisedek, complaining of the low state of spiritual attainment of the readers (Hebrews 5:11-14) warning them of the necessity of progress and the peril of falling back (Hebrews 6:1-8): but at the same time encouraging them by God’s faithfulness in bearing in mind their previous labour of love, and in His promises generally, to persevere in faith and patience to the end (Hebrews 6:9-20).

Verse 1

1.] Therefore (on the connexion, see below) leaving (as behind, and done with; in order to go on to another thing. “Jubet omitti ejusmodi elementa, non quod eorum oblivisci unquam debeant fideles, sed quia in illis minime est hærendum. Quod melius patet ex fundamenti similitudine quæ mox sequitur. Nam in exstruenda domo, nunquam a fundamento discedere oportet: in eo tamen jaciendo semper laborare ridiculum.” Calvin) the word of the beginning of Christ (= ἡ ἀρχὴ τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ above, ch. Hebrews 5:12; that word, or discourse, which has respect to the fundamental and elementary things mentioned below), let us press on to maturity ( φέρομαι in this sense is not uncommon: see Lycurg. in reff.: Xen. Venat. 3. 10, ἄν ποθεν ἀκούσωσι κραυγῆς, καταλείπουσαι τὰ αὐτῶν ἔργα ἀπρονοήτως ἐπὶ τοῦτο φέρονται: Polyb. v. 26. 6, πᾶσιν ἄδηλος ἦν, ἐπὶ τί φέρεται, καὶ ἐπὶ ποίας ὑπάρχει γνώμης. Bleek cites on Valcknaer’s authority φέρεσθαι ἐπὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν: and in the Pythagorean school our very expression, φέρεσθαι ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα, was current. A question of some difficulty has divided the Commentators here: whether this sentence be meant as expressing the resolution of the Writer, as we say, ‘let us now proceed’ to this or that,—or as conveying an exhortation to the readers. Each view has a formidable array of supporters. On the side of the former are Primasius, Erasmus, Luther, a-Lapide, Grot., Limborch, Wolf, Bengel, Michaelis, al., and Storr, Heinrichs, Abresch, Wahl, Bretschn., Kuinoel, Baumg. Crus., De Wette, Tholuck, Conybeare, al. The latter is adopted by Chrys., Thdrt., Phot., and Gennadius (in Œc.), Thl. (not decidedly), Calvin, Justiniani, Estius, Jac. Cappellus, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, Ebrard, Lünemann, Hofm. (Schrb. i. 553). Owen tries (and so also Delitzsch) to comprehend both meanings: giving, however, the alternative very lucidly: “The Apostle either assumes the Hebrews unto himself, as to his work, or joins himself with them as to their duty. For if the words be taken the first way, they declare his resolution in teaching: if in the latter, their duty in learning.” Between these two, both equally legitimate, the context must decide. And in seeking for elements of decision, I own that the alternative seems to me to have been put too exclusively. What I mean will be plain, when we consider on the one hand that θεμέλιον καταβαλλόμενοι can hardly be properly said of any but a teacher: and on the other, that Hebrews 6:4 ff., ἀδύνατον γὰρ κ. τ. λ., must necessarily have a general reference of warning to the hearers. It seems to me that the fact may be best stated thus: The whole is a συγκατάβασις of the Writer to his readers: he with his work of teaching comes down to their level of learning, and regards that teaching and learning as all one work, going on together: himself and them as bound up in one progress. Thus best may we explain the expressions, which seem to oscillate alternately between writer and readers. And thus will διό retain all its proper meaning, which on the first hypothesis was obliged to be wrested: so Schlichting, its advocate, confesses, and joins διό to ch. Hebrews 5:11. But now it will mean, ‘Wherefore, seeing that we (you and I, by communication) are in so low a state, babes, instead of grown men, let us,’ &c.): not again laying the foundation ( θεμ. καταβάλλεσθαι is a phrase of common occurrence in later writers. Dion. Hal. iii. 69, ταρκύνιος.… τούς τε θεμελίους ( τοῦ νεῶ) κατεβάλετο: Porphyr. de Abstin. viii. 10, οἰκίας θεμέλια καταβάλλεσθαι: Galen, Rat. Medendi ix., χρὴ γὰρ οἶμαι τὰ θεμέλια τοῖς οἰκοδομήμασιν ἰσχυρὰ προκαταβεβλῆσθαι: Jos. Antt. xi. 4. 4, εὐθὺς τοὺς θεμελίους κατεβάλετο: ib. xv. 11. 3, ἀνελὼν δὲ τοὺς ἀρχαίους θεμελίους, καὶ καταβαλόμενος ἑτέρους. Cf. 2 Maccabees 2:29, ἀρχιτέκτονι τῆς ὅλης καταβολῆς, and see examples also of βάλλεσθαι, in Bleek. It is a curious instance of the occasional singularity and perversity of Ebrard’s exposition, that he insists here on καταβαλλόμενοι meaning “pulling down:” (which however, as Delitzsch remarks, partakes of the infirmity of all would-be original interpretations, falling under the proverb, “There is nothing new under the sun:” for the old Latin has “non iterum fundamenta diruentes.”) Not to dwell on the entire inconsistency with the context, how can one be said κατα βάλλεσθαι θεμέλιον, which is in the ground already?

The subjects to be supplied to καταβαλλόμενοι are the readers, with whom the Writer unites himself, as above explained) of (the genitives here indicate the materials of which the foundation consists. They are all matters belonging to the λόγος τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ: extending indeed in their influence over the whole Christian life, just as the shape of the foundation is that of the building: but to be laid down once for all and not afterwards repeated) repentance from dead works, and faith on God (so in the opening of the Gospel, Mark 1:15, μετανοεῖτε κ. πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ: and in its progress, Acts 20:21, διαμαρτυρόμενος ἰουδαίοις τε καὶ ἕλλησιν τὴν εἰς θεὸν μετάνοιαν καὶ πίστιν εἰς τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν ἰησοῦν. These were the common conditions on which all mankind were invited to embrace the Gospel. And as the readers here were Jews, so would these words especially remind them of the form in which they were first invited by Christ’s messengers. But we have to notice the qualifications which here follow each term— μετάνοια ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργωνπίστις ἐπὶ θεόν. The νεκρὰ ἔργα are taken by all the patristic expositors to mean sinful works: so Chrys., τὰ ἡμαρτημένα: Thdrt., τὴν πονηρίαν: Thl., τουτέστι, τὴν ἀποταγὴν τῶν ἔργων τοῦ σατανᾶ: Primas., “Pœnitentiam ab operibus mortuis agere, est ipsa opera mala per pœnitentiam delere, quæ animum mortificabant: opera namque mortis sunt peccata.” And so the great majority of modern Commentators also. And the justification of such an expression as νεκρὰ ἔργα for sins is variously given: as causing death eternal, Schlichting, J. Cappell., Limb., Peirce, Stuart, al.: as polluting, like the touch of a dead body, Chrys. (on ch. Hebrews 9:14, καλῶς εἶπεν, ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων. εἴ τις γὰρ ἥψατο τότε νεκροῦ, ἐμιαίνετο· καὶ ἐνταῦθα εἴ τις ἅψαιτο νεκροῦ ἔργου, μολύνεται διὰ τῆς συνειδήσεως), Œc. (ibid.), Storr, al. But neither of these meanings is borne out: the former being contrary to usage, the latter far-fetched and unlikely. It is much better to take νεκρός in its common and obvious meaning; dead, devoid of life and power: cf. νεκρὰ πίστις, and νεκρὰ ἁμαρτία in the reff. St. Paul speaks, Ephesians 5:11, in nearly the same sense: cf. τὰ ἔργα τὰ ἄκαρπα τοῦ σκότους. And Tholuck cites from Epict. Dissert. iii. 23, 29, νεκρὸς λόγος, in the sense of discourse without convincing power. But such dead or lifeless works again may be variously understood: either of the works of the flesh in the unconverted man, or of the Jewish works of the law which could not give life. Considering the readers and object of the Epistle, it is much more likely that the latter are here meant: those works by which they sought to set up a righteousness of their own, before they submitted themselves to God’s righteousness. And so, nearly, Delitzsch, and Hofm. Weiss. u. Erf. ii. 166. The best explanation of πίστις ἐπὶ θεόν is found in St. Paul’s language, Romans 4:5, τῷ δὲ μὴ ἐργαζομένῳ, πιστεύοντι δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἀσεβῆ, λογίζεται ἡ πίστις αὐτοῦ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. And by this, our expression is defined to mean, full trust, rested on God, that He has fulfilled his promises in Christ: so Wittich, cited in Bleek: “Fides evangelio adhibita, hæc fides dicitur ἐπὶ θεόν, quia dum evangelio creditur, creditur præstitisse Deum promissa facta patribus eaque in Christo implevisse.” We may observe, that the genitives arrange themselves in groups of pairs, of which this is the first),

Verse 2

2.] of the doctrine of washings (not baptisms: βάπτισμ α is generally the N. T. word for both Christian baptism and that of John. In reff., the word is used as here of washing, or lustration with water. On the meaning, see below. Our first question is, respecting the construction. The words are taken in two other ways besides that given above. 1. Some have taken βαπτισμῶν and διδαχῆς as two distinct genitives: so Chrys, (apparently, for he says, εἰ γὰρ πάλιν αὐτοὺς ἐβάπτισε καὶ ἄνωθεν κατήχησε, καὶ πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς βαπτισθέντες ἐδιδάσκοντο τὰ πρακτέα κ. τ. λ.), an interp. given in Œc., … λόγον· ποῖον δὴ τοῦτον; τὸν τῶν βαπτισμῶν καὶ διδαχῆς καὶ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν κ. τ. λ.: and so Cajetan, Luther, Semler, Michaelis, al., and De Wette. But this seems very improbable. The rhythm of the sentence, which in all the other cases has two substantives in a clause, seems to forbid insulating the two words and forming a clause out of each: besides which, a double objection arises from the words themselves; that thus the plural βαπτισμ ῶν would not be accounted for, and that thus also διδαχή would have to bear a meaning which it is very doubtful if it can bear. 2. The two substantives being taken together, διδαχῆς is made the genitive dependent on βαπτισμῶν,—those baptisms which were accompanied with διδαχή, in distinction from those other washings, which were not so accompanied. This view is taken by Bengel (“ β. δ. erant baptismi quos qui suscipiebant, doctrinæ sacræ Judæorum sese addicebant; itaque adjecto διδαχῆς distinguuntur a lotionibus cæteris leviticis”), Winer (making however the distinction between Christian and Jewish baptism, § 30. 3, Rem. 4, edn. 6), Michaelis, al. Still it cannot be denied that this would be a very strange expression, and that thus the plur. βαπτισμῶν would be more unaccountable than ever, seeing that it would apply to one kind of baptism only, viz. the Christian. As regards the plur. βαπτισμ ῶν, it has been very variously taken: by some as put for the singular, in which number the Syr. translates it: by Chrys. (to whom Calv. assents), as implying the repetition of baptism involved in the πάλιν,— τί αὐτὸ πληθυντικῶς εἶπε; διὰ τὸ εἰπεῖν, μὴ πάλιν θεμ. καταβ. μετανοίας. εἰ γὰρ πάλιν αὐτοὺς ἐβάπτισε, καὶ ἄνωθεν κατήχησε, καὶ πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς βαπτισθέντες ἐδιδάσκοντο τἀ πρακτέα, καὶ τὰ μὴ πρακτέα, διηνεκῶς ἔμελλον ἀδιόρθωτοι μένειν: by Thl. and Œc. as pointing to a practice among the Hebrews of frequently repeating baptism ( ἴσως δὲ οὗτοι ὡς ἔτι τοῦ νόμου ἀντεχόμενοι πολλοὺς βαπτισμοὺς ἰουδαϊκῶς καὶ ἐν τῇ χάριτι ἐπρέσβευον, Thl.): by others, as referring to the threefold immersion in baptism: by Grot., al., “de duplice baptismo, interiore et exteriore:” by Thdrt. of the plurality of the recipients, ἐπειδὴ πολλοὶ τῆς τοῦ βαπτίσματος ἀπολαύουσι χάριτος: so Primas., Beza, Erasm. Schmid. But none of these seem to reach the point so well as that given above, which includes in the idea those various washings which were under the law, the baptism of John and even Christian baptism also perhaps included, the nature of which, and their distinctions from one another, would naturally be one of the fundamental and primary objects of teaching to Hebrew converts. This meaning, which is that of Jac. Cappellus, Seb. Schmidt, Schöttg., Wolf, al., and Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Bleek, Tholuck, al., is strongly combated by Lünemann, and the insecurity of the consideration arising from the different form of βαπτισ μός and - μα is urged on the ground that the Writer never uses βάπτισμα: but against this we may fairly allege that he does use βαπτισμ ός again (ch. Hebrews 9:10), and in the ordinary sense of Jewish washings, not in that of Christian baptism. When it is objected to the view (as e. g. by Stuart) that the doctrine of Jewish washings would have had nothing to do with the elements of Christian teaching, we may fairly say that such objection is brought in mere thoughtlessness. The converts being Jews, their first and most obviously elementary instruction would be, the teaching them the typical significance of their own ceremonial law in its Christian fulfilment. It is obvious from what has been above said, that we must not, as Erasm., Calv., Beza, Schlichting, al., understand “the teaching given as introductory to baptism:” Calvin identifying it with the other genitive terms of the sentence: “Quæ enim baptismatis est doctrina, nisi quam hic recenset de fide in Deum, de pœnitentia et de judicio, ac similibus?”) and of laying on of hands (first, it is almost necessary, on account of the transposed place of βαπτισμῶν, and the coupling by τε, to understand ἐπιθέσεώς τε as gen. after διδαχῆς, and not after θεμέλιον (of the succeeding genitives, see below). And thus the doctrine of laying on of hands, like that of washings, not being confined to any one special rite, will mean, the reference and import of all that imposition of hands which was practised under the law, and found in some cases its continuance under the gospel. By laying on of hands, the sick were healed, Mark 16:18; Acts 9:12; Acts 9:17; Acts 28:8; cf. 2 Kings 5:11; Matthew 9:18 al.; officers and teachers of the Church were admitted to their calling, Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3, 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22; Numbers 8:10; Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9; converts were fully admitted into the Christian Church after baptism, Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6 :2 Timothy 1:6. And there can be little doubt that it is mainly to this last that the attention of the readers is here called, as the Writer is speaking of the beginning of Christian teaching: so Chrys., οὕτω γὰρ τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάμβανον: and Thdrt., διὰ τῆς ἱερατικῆς χειρὸς ὑποδέχονται τὴν χάριν τοῦ πνεύματος. Some have thought that the principal reference is to the laying of hands on the scapegoat as a type of our Lord’s taking our sins upon Him: but this is unlikely) and of resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (these words, as well as the foregoing clause, depend on διδαχῆς. This would be evident, were it merely for the sense, seeing that it is not the facts themselves of the resurrection and the judgment which would be laid as the foundation of the τοῦ χριστοῦ λὁγος, but the doctrine of these, that apprehension and recognition of them consequent on their being taught, as διδαχή implies. And then notice, that these also were points of Jewish doctrine, confirmed and brought into clearer light by the Gospel. Some, as Est., Schlicht., Schöttg., Michaelis, Storr, al., have supposed ἀναστ. νεκρῶν to refer only to the righteous, as in John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54,— κρίματος αἰωνίου only to the wicked. But it is more probable, in a passage of such very general reference, that the Writer speaks generally, without any such distinction here in view, of the two doctrines: of the ἀνάστασις ζωῆς and the ἀνάστασις κρίσεως of John 5:29. And it is probable that he uses κρίματος in the same indefinite meaning. Cf. ref. Acts.

κρῖμα, properly the result of κρίσις, gradually became in later Greek, as other substantives in - μα, confounded with the process in σις, and the two used convertibly. Our Writer has both: cf. ch. Hebrews 10:27.

αἰωνίου, probably as part of the proceedings of eternity, and thus bearing the character and stamp of eternal: or perhaps as Thl., τουτέστι, τῆς κρίσεως τῆς αἰώνια διδούσης ἢ ἀγαθὰ ἢ κολάσεις. So Erasm. (par.) and many others).

Verse 3

3.] And this (viz. ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα φέρεσθαι, see below) we will do (on the reading, see digest. ποιήσομεν has been variously interpreted, Schlichting, Grot., Wetst., and several others, who suppose (see above) that φερώμεθα expresses the determination of the Writer, take it as referring to the participial clause μὴ πάλ. θεμέλιον καταβαλλόμενοι, and as meaning, “even ( καί) this ( τὸ πάλιν θεμέλιον καταβάλλεσθαι) we will do.” But surely this is impossible: first, we have to refer τοῦτο to a dependent clause, not to the whole sentence going before: and even if this could be got over, the μή attached to καταβαλλόμενοι is put aside, and the clause taken as if it were a positive one. Besides which, no convenient sense would be yielded by such a reference. For having asserted on this hypothesis that even the relaying of the foundation should be done, if God will, he goes on to say ἀδύνατον γὰρ κ. τ. λ., which would in no way (see below) fit in to the context. This being so, others, still regarding φερώμεθα as the first, refer the future ποιήσομεν to the φερώμεθα. So Primasius, “Et hoc faciemus, i. e. et ad majora nos ducemus, et de his omnibus quæ enumeravimus plenissime docebimus nos, ut non sit iterum necesse ex toto et a capite ponere fundamentum:” and Thl., τοῦτο ποιήσομεν. ποῖον; τὸ ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα φέρεσθαι. And doubtless so a very good sense is given. In favour of ποιήσωμεν, it may be said, that it corresponds better with the hortatory tone of φερώμεθα, and though the less obvious reading, is more in accordance with the style of the Epistle) if, that is (the force of περ in composition is to give thoroughness and universal reference to the particle to which it is attached: ἐάν, &c.: ἐάνπερ, ‘si omnino:’ so Hom. I1. ψ. 97, μίνυνθά περ ἀμφιβαλόντε ἀλλήλους, “brevi omnino amplexu fruentes.” See this well worked out, and its relation to περί, πέρας, &c. established, in Hartung’s chapter on the particle, Partikellehre i. 327–344. The effect of this meaning in hypothetical sentences like the present, is to assume the hypothesis as altogether requisite to the previous position: so Soph. Œd. C. 999, εἴπερ ζῆν φιλεῖς, “if, that is, thou lovest life:” Æsch. Ag. 28, εἴπερ ἰλίου πόλις ἑάλωκεν, ὡς ὁ φρυκτὸς ἀγγέλων πρέπει), God permit (Œc., τὸ ἐάνπερ οὐ πρὸς τοῦτο εἶπεν, ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ οὐ πάντως ἐπιτρέποντοςἐπιτρέπει γὰρ ἀεὶ ὁ θεὸς τὰ καλὰ καὶ τέλειαἀλλʼ ὡς ἔθος ἡμῖν λέγειν·— θεοῦ θέλοντος τοῦτο ποιήσωμεν. And Thl., better, ἅμα δὲ καὶ διδάσκει ἡμᾶς ἐντεῦθεν, τὸ πᾶν τῆς ἐκείνου ἐξαρτᾶν θελήσεως, καὶ μηδὲ ἐπὶ τῶν ὁμολογουμένως καλῶν τῇ οἰκείᾳ θαῤῥεῖν κ. κρίσει κ. δυνάμει. It may here again be said, that the addition after the hortatory ποιήσωμεν is as delicate and beautiful, as it is frigid in the common acceptation after the indicative ποιήσομεν. For it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure, Philippians 2:13. And it leads the way beautifully to what follows: ‘If,’ I say, ‘God permit: for when men have once fallen away, it is a thing impossible,’ &c.).

Verse 4

4.] For (depends on the whole foregoing sentence, including the reference to the divine permission: not as Whitby and De Wette, on μὴ πάλιν θεμ. καταβαλλόμενοι. The connexion is: we must go on, for if we go back, it will be to perdition—a thing which (Hebrews 6:9) we do not think of you, and therefore expect your advance) it is impossible, in the case of (these words I insert, not as belonging to the Greek construction, but as necessary in English, to prevent the entire inversion of the Greek order of the sentence) those who have been (or, were: but the English perfect here represents idiomatically the Greek aorist, ἅπαξ in this clause referring pointedly enough to the time when the event took place. And indeed where there is no such plain reference as in the subsequent clauses, we are in the habit of expressing priority more by the perfect, the Greeks by the aorist. And here it is quite necessary to take our English perfect: for our indefinite past, ‘who were enlightened and tasted … and were made … and tasted …’ would convey to the mere English reader the idea that all this took place at one and the same time, viz. baptism,—whereas the participles clearly indicate progressive steps of the spiritual life. These remarks do not apply to cases like that of Acts 19:2 f., but only to those where an aorist participle indicates priority to some present action) once (for all: indicating that the process needs not, or admits not, repetition: cf. reff. ἅπαξ occurs eight times in our Epistle, which is oftener than in all the rest of the N. T.) enlightened (Bleek gives a good résumé of the usage and meanings of φωτίζειν. It is a word of later Greek, principally found in the N. T. and LXX (reff.). It occurs in Polyb. xxx. 8. 1, τῶν γραμμάτων ἑαλωκότων κ. πεφωτισμένων, “taken and brought to light:” xxiii. 3. 10, ἐφώτισε τὴν ἑκατέρων αἵρεσιν: Arrian, Epict. i. 4, τῷτὴν ἀλήθειανφωτίσαντι καὶ εἰς ἅπαντας ἀνθρώπους ἐξενέγκαντι: Diog. Laert. i. 57, μᾶλλον οὖν σόλων ὅμηρον ἐφώτισεν ἢ πεισίστρατος. In all these places the sense is to bring to light, or cast light upon. The other meaning, to enlighten, applied to a person, is purely Hellenistic. So in ref. Judg., φωτισάτω ἡμᾶς, τί ποιήσωμεν τῷ παιδαρίῳ τῷ τικτομένῳ. And the LXX usage is generally simply to teach, to instruct: so in ref. 4 Kings, and ib. 4 Kings 17:27, φωτιοῦσιν αὐτοὺς τὸ κρῖμα τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς γῆς. Here it implies, taught, by the preaching of the word of God. An historic interest belongs to the occurrence of this word here, as having in all probability given rise to a meaning of φωτίζειν and φωτισμός, as denoting baptism, which was current throughout the Church down to the Reformation. Justin Mart. Apol. i. 61, p. 80 says, καλεῖται δὲ τοῦτο τὸ λοῦτρον φωτισμός, ὡς φωτιζομένων τὴν διάνοιαν τῶν ταῦτα μανθανόντων. Chrys. has two κατηχήσεις πρὸς τοὺς μέλλοντας φωτίζεσθαι, in the first of which (vol. ii. p. 228) he justifies the name φώτισμα for baptism by reference to the two places in this Epistle. Suicer (sub voce) gives a full account of this usage, from which it appears that the word never came simply and purely to signify outward baptism, but always included that illumination of the new birth which is the thing signified in the sacrament. So Ps.-Chrys, Hom. on John 1:1, vol. xii. p. 418, ( οἱ αἱρετικοὶ) βάπτισμα ἔχουσιν, οὐ φώτισμα. καὶ βαπτίζονται μὲν σώματι, ψυχῇ δὲ οὐ φωτίζονται· ὥσπερ γὰρ καὶ σίμων ἐβαπτίσθη, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐφωτίσθη· οὕτω καὶ αὐτοὶ ἀκολούθως εὑρίσκονται. The Syr. here translates, “qui semel ad baptismum descenderunt.” And so all the ancient Commentators here, and some of the moderns, as Justiniani, Estius, a-Lapide, Calmet, Hammond, Pyle, Ernesti. Erasmus seems the first who interpreted the word aright (“qui semel reliquerint tenebras vitæ prioris, illuminati per doctrinam evangelicam”), and almost all since have followed him), and (on the coupling by τε see below) have tasted (personally and consciously partaken of: see reff. 1 Pet. and Ps.: and on the general expression γεύεσθαί τινος, note on ch. Hebrews 2:9) of the heavenly gift (what is more especially meant? It is very variously given: Chrys. ( τουτέστι, τῆς ἀφέσεως), Œc. ( τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τῆς ἐν τῳ βαπτίσματι), remission of sins: and so Thl., Faber Stap., Erasm. (par.) (“jamque per baptismum condonatis peccatis”), Hammond, De Wette, al.: Schlichting (“animi cum pax et tranquillitas quæ oritur ex notitia plenissimæ remissionis omnium peccatorum, tum liquidissimum illud gaudium et spes immortalis vitæ”), Grot. (“id est, pacem conscientiæ”), Justiniani, joy and peace in believing: Primas., Estius (only as “probabilitatem habens”), Michaelis, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper: Owen, Calmet, Ernesti, the Holy Spirit and His gifts: Seb. Schmidt, Bengel, and many more, Christ Himself: Kuinoel, Heinrichs, al., the religion of Christ,—the gospel: Pareus, faith: Klee, regeneration in general as distinguished from the special gifts of the Spirit in Baptism: Bleek and Tholuck, on account of the close coupling by τε to what has preceded, the φῶς itself conveyed in the φωτισμός. But I would rather, considering the emphatic position of γευσαμένους, take, as indeed do Lünemann and Ebrard virtually (and Delitzsch, referring to 2 Corinthians 9:15), δωρεά to have a perfectly general reference, q. d. ‘that which was bestowed on them thereby.’ This heavenly gift the persons supposed have tasted for themselves. The τε, in the style of this Epistle and St. Luke in the Acts, cannot be pressed so securely as in ordinary Greek and in the rest of the N. T.: and indeed on this last rendering is fully justified) and have been made (see note on ch. Hebrews 4:3, for a discussion of the passive sense of ἐγενήθην: which, however true here, must not be too much pressed, so as to emphasize the participle: see below) partakers (see on ref.) of the Holy Spirit (outwardly, the agency would be the laying on of hands after baptism: but obviously the emphatic word is μετόχους—have become real sharersεἰς ἓν πνεῦμα ποτισθέντες: so that the proper agent is He who only can bestow this participation, viz. God),

Verse 5

5.] and have tasted (see above: γευς. is not emphatic here, as before, but having once borne its emphatic meaning, carries it again, in its repetition. On the government, see below) the good word of God and the powers of the world to come (Bengel, al. wish to establish a distinction here between the senses of the accus. and gen. government by γεύεσθαι. “Alter partem denotat: nam gustum Christi, doni cœlestis, non exhaurimus in hac vita: alter plus dicit, quatenus verbi Dei prædicati gustus totus ad hanc vitam pertinet, quanquam eidem verbo futuri virtutes sæculi annectuntur.” But thus even Bengel’s own account of the distinction halts on one foot; and moreover the distinction itself is untenable, witness ὡς δὲ ἐγεύσατο τὸ ὕδωρ οἶνον γεγενημένον, ref. John: this being merely as it would appear a Hellenistic impropriety, not found in good Greek. (Another distinction is made by Delitzsch, h. l., from Kühner, § 526, Anm. 3, al.; that words of bodily partaking take a gen. in a partitive sense, but an acc. where the object partaken is either considered as a whole, or is designated materially, or as an accustomed means of nourishment. But this also fails in the above instance, however true in general.) Here, as Bleek, after Böhme, suggests, the acc. perhaps was adopted to avoid the ambiguity which would have arisen, in καλοῦ γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥήματος, as to whether καλοῦ agreed with θεοῦ or with ῥήματος. But now, what are the things spoken of? What is καλὸν θεοῦ ῥῆμα? The epithet is frequently applied to the word of God: see reff.: and usually with reference to its quickening, comforting, strengthening power, as sent or spoken by God to men. And in consequence it has been taken here to signify the comforting portion of the gospel, its promises: so Thdrt., τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν τῶν ἀγαθῶν: Est., Schlicht., Grot., Kuinoel, Thol., and many others. Others understand it more generally, as Chrys. ( τὴν διδασκαλίαν ἐνταῦθα λέγει), Thl. ( περὶ πάσης πνευματικῆς διδασκαλίας τοῦτό φησι), Œc. ( τὴν περὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ διδασκαλίαν), Primas., Faber Stapul., Corn. a-Lap., Bengel, al. This latter, or that modification of it which understands by ῥῆμα θεοῦ the wholesome and soul-preserving utterance of God in the gospel, seems to me better than the meaning taken by Bleek, who thinks ῥῆμα to be a personified attribute of God, as λόγος τοῦ θ. ch. Hebrews 4:12, and the gospel, with its comforting message, an emanation from it, on which the soul feeds. Certainly the passage which he cites from Philo is much to the point: ζητήσαντες καὶ τί τὸ τρέφον ἐστὶ τὴν ψυχὴνεὗρον μαθόντες ῥῆμα θεοῦ καὶ λόγον θεοῦ, ἀφʼ οὗ πᾶσαι παιδεῖαι καὶ σοφίαι ῥέουσιν ἀένναοι, De Profug. § 25, vol. i. p. 566, said of the Israelites in the wilderness. See also Allegor. iii. § 60 f. p. 121 f., where the manna is said to be designated by the ῥῆμα θεοῦ and λόγος θεοῦ, with reference to Exodus 16:16, and to Deuteronomy 8:3. It certainly is not improbable that in using the expression τὸ καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα, the Writer may have had in view this latter text, ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι τῷ ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος θεοῦ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος: but the supposed personification does not seem to suit the context.

Then it is a far more debated question, what is meant by δυνάμεις μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Some have said, those powerful foretastes of glory which belong indeed to the future state in their fulness, but are vouchsafed to believers here: so Schlichting, interpreting γεύσασθαι of this foretaste; so Primas., Seb. Schmidt, al. But most Commentators, and rightly, take αἰὼν μέλλων as equivalent to οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα ch. Hebrews 2:5 (where see note), and as designating the Christian times, agreeably to that name of Christ in ref. Isa., πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Then the δυνάμεις of this ‘world to come’ will be as in ch. Hebrews 2:4, where we have ποικίλαι δυνάμεις enumerated with σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν and πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς, as God’s testimonies to the gospel. Thus they would mean the χαρίσματα, given by the Spirit in measure to all who believed, “distributing severally to every man as He will.” We need not necessarily limit these to external miraculous powers, or even προφητεία and the like: but surely may include in them spiritual powers bestowed in virtue of the indwelling Spirit to arm the Christian for his conflict with sin, the world, and the devil.

The ancients were very uncertain in their exegesis of the words: Chrys., τίνας λέγει δυνάμεις; ἢ τὸ θαύματα ἐπιτελεῖν, ἢ τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τοῦ πνεύματος. And some way on, he says, εἰπὼν δὲ καλ. γευς. θεοῦ ῥ. δυνάμ. τε αἰῶνος μέλλ., οὐκ ἀποκαλύπτει αὐτό, ἀλλʼ αἰνίττεται, καὶ μονονουχὶ ταῦτα λέγει· ὅτι τὸ ζῆν ὡς ἀγγέλους, τὸ μηδενὸς δεῖσθαι τῶν ἐνταῦθα, τὸ εἰδέναι ὅτι τῆς τῶς μελλόντων αἰώνων ἀπολαύσεως πρόξενος ἡμῖν ἡ υἱοθεσία γίνεται, τὸ εἰς τὰ ἄδυτα ἐκεῖνα εἰσελθεῖν προσδοκᾶν, διὰ τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστι ταῦτα μαθεῖν. τί ἐστι, δυνάμεις τε τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος; ἡ ζωὴ ἡ αἰώνιος, ἡ ἀγγελικὴ διαγωγή. τούτων ἤδη τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα ἐλάβομεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως παρὰ τοῦ πνεύματος. Thdrt., δυνάμεις δὲ μ. αἰ. τὸ βάπτισμα προσηγόρευσε κ. τὴν χάριν τοῦ πνεύματος· διὰ τούτων γὰρ δυνατὸν τῶν ἐπηγγελμένων τυχεῖν ἀγαθῶν. Photius, ἀντὶ τοῦ, ἃ δύναται ὁ μέλλων αἰὼν ἐκμαθόντας, by catechesis, for so he interprets γευσαμένους),

Verse 6

6.] and have fallen away (the classical usage of παραπίπτω is very different, as will be seen from the following examples: Herod. viii. 87, κατὰ τύχην παραπεσοῦσα νηῦς, i. e. impinging, coming into collision: Plato, Phileb. p. 14 C, τὸν νῦν δὲ παραπεσόντα ( λόγον), “eum sermonem qui nobis se obtulit:” Legg. iii. p. 686, ἔδοξέ μοι θαυμαστὸν κτῆμα παραπεσεῖν τοῖς ἕλλησιν, “Græcis accidisse.” We first find trace of our present meaning in Xenophon, Hell. i. 6. 4, διαθροούντωνὅτι λακεδαιμόνιοι μέγιστα παραπίπτοιεν ἐν τῷ διαλλάττειν τοὺς ναυαρχοὺς κ. τ. λ. Polyb. uses it frequently in this sense, but commonly with a gen. of that from which: so iii. 54. 5, πᾶν τὸ παραπεσὸν τῆς ὁδοῦ: xii. 7. 2, παραπίπτειν τῆς ἀληθείας: viii. 13. 8, τοῦ καθήκοντος: and xviii. 19. 6 absolutely, τοῖς ὅλοις πράγμασιν ἀγνοεῖν ἔφη καὶ παραπίπτειν αὐτόν. In the LXX it occurs often (reff.) in the ethical sense, and the cognate noun παράπτωμα often in the N. T. It is used here, as ἑκουσίως ἀμαρτάνειν, ch. Hebrews 10:26, and ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος, ch. Hebrews 3:12,—see also ch. Hebrews 10:29, and παραρυῶμεν ch. Hebrews 2:1,—as pointing out the sin of apostasy from Christ: and the case supposed is very similar to that of the Galatians, to whom St. Paul says, κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ [ τοῦ] χριστοῦ οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε, τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε, Galatians 5:4; and ib. Galatians 3:3, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; The fear was (see Prolegg. § iv. 1) lest these Hebrew converts should cast away their confidence in Christ, and take up again that system of types and shadows which He came to fulfil and abrogate: and nearly connected with this peril was their small progress in the doctrine of Christ. While speaking therefore of that, and exhorting them to be advancing towards maturity, he puts in this solemn caution against the fearful result to which their backwardness might lead), again ( πάλιν does not belong to παραπεσόντας, but to ἀνακαινίζειν: the usual place of πάλιν, and the unvarying place in this Epistle, being before the verb to which it belongs) to renew (them) to repentance (there is no pleonasm, as Grotius thought, in πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν. For the ἀνακαινίζειν would be the regenerating in any case, and the πάλιν ἀνακ., the renewal of it. Even in the first case, man ἀνακαινίζεται: in the second case, πάλιν ἀνακαινίζεται. As to the word, it is found, after Isocr. as in reff., in Appian, Lucian, Josephus (Antt. ix. 8. 2, βασιλέα ἰώασον ὁρμή τις ἔλαβε τὸν ναὸν ἀνακαινίσαι τοῦ θεοῦ), Philo (Legat. ad Cai. § 11, vol. ii. p. 558, ἀνισότητα, τὴν ἀδικίας ἀρχήν, ἀνεκαίνισεν ἰσότητι, ἥτις ἐστὶ πηγὴ δικαιοσύνης), and freq. in LXX. Observe St. Paul’s usage in reff. The usage of the word, as Bleek remarks, is without reference to any previous existence of the state into which the renewal takes place: e. g. we cannot say here that the perfect state of man before the fall was in the Writer’s mind. The verb is active, and implies a subject. This by some is made to be the foregoing accusatives, and ἑαυτούς is supplied after ἀνακαινίζειν: so Origen cites it (in Joann. tom. xx. 12, vol. iv. p. 322, ἀνακαινίζειν ἑαυτόν in some mss., ἀνακαινισμὸν ποιεῖν ἑαυτῶν in others): so vulg. (“renovari”), and Erasmus, Vatabl., al. But it is far better, as in the translation, and usually, to make the subject indefinite: “it is impossible to” &c. “Instead of εἰς μετάνοιαν, one would expect ἐν μετανοίᾳ or διὰ μετανοίας, inasmuch as ὰνακαινίζεσθαι in full measure can only be brought about by μετάνοια, and must therefore be preceded by it. But on the other side, μετάνοια itself, the change of disposition, may be considered as the result of the renewal of the man having taken place: and so it is here: to renew to μετάνοια, i. e. so to form anew, that entire change of disposition precedes.” Bleek. On the very general ancient reference of this to renewal of baptism, see below.

It is really marvellous, that such a note as this of Dr. Burton’s could have been written in England in the present century: “ ἀνακαινίζειν, once more to make them new creatures by baptism, εἰς μετάνοιαν, upon their repentance. Even if they repent, there is no power to readmit them by baptism”), crucifying as they do (“seeing they crucify” as E. V. well. The ratiocinative force is given by the omission of the article before the participle, as the demonstrative would be by its insertion. Some ancient Commentators, especially those who refer the foregoing clause to the repetition of baptism, join these participles closely to the verb ἀνακαινίζειν, as epexegetical of it; as indicating, that is, what such a πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετ. would be: that it would amount to a new crucifying and putting to shame the Son of God: and they refer to St. Paul’s declaration, that in baptism is symbolized the crucifixion of the old man with Christ (Romans 6:3 ff.), and understand it thus, that if baptism be repeated, Christ also would appear to be crucified anew. So Chrys., Thdrt., Eulogius (Phot. Bibl. 280, ed. Bekk. p. 538 a), Phot. (in Œc.), Œc. ( ὁ τοίνυν, φησίν, οἰόμενος εἶναι δεύτερον βάπτισμα, ὅσον τὸ κατʼ αὐτόν, ἄνωθεν σταυροῖ τὸν κύριον. τί γὰρ ἕτερον ποιεῖ ὁ δεύτερον αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος συσταυροῦσθαι νομίζων, ἢ ὅτι καὶ αὐτὸν ἡγεῖται δεύτερον ἐσταυρῶσθαι, διʼ ὧν ποιεῖ; τὸ δὲ δεύτερον σταυροῦν, φησί, τὸν χριστόν, τὸ ὅσον ἦκεν εἰς αὐτόν, οὐδὲν ἕτερόν ἐστιν ἢ παραδειγματίσαι αυτὸν καὶ καταισχῦναι. ἅπαξ γὰρ σταυρωθείς, ἀθάνατός ἐστι λοιπόν. ὁ δὲ ἀνασταυρῶν, ψεῦδος τοῦτο ποιεῖ, ὅπερ αἰσχύνην αὐτῷ φέρει ὡς ψευσαμένῳ τὸ ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν μόνον), Schol. Matthiæ, Thl., and similarly Faber Stapulensis, Erasm. (par.), Clarius. And so Calvin takes the connexion, even though he does not understand the foregoing of the repetition of baptism: that it is impossible that they should again be renewed to repentance, and their fall from Christ be forgiven them, for that thus God would be again crucifying His Son and putting Him to shame. This Beza also mentions as an alternative (giving it indeed his approval, “quam sententiam si amplectamur, uti sane probabilis et commoda mihi videtur, tum pro ‘ut qui rursum crucifigant,’ scribendum erit, ‘rursum crucifigendo, et ad ignominiam exponendo’ ”). “But besides that which Seb. Schmidt adduces against the Greek Commentators, that they wrongly assume Christ to be crucified in baptism, whereas it is only our old man that is crucified,—the whole construction is, grammatically speaking, very unnatural; and only tolerable, if the men spoken of, whose renewal is said to be impossible, were not the object but the subject, if, that is, instead of ἀνακαινίζειν we had a passive, or it could be taken intransitively. And since this cannot be done, it is only possible, grammatically, to take the participles as a close specification of the foregoing object, an emphatic setting forth of the grievous offence of which they have become guilty by their apostasy, and on account of which it has become impossible to renew them again to repentance.” Bleek) afresh (it has been questioned by Lambert Bos, Exercitt., whether ἀνασταυροῦν can bear this meaning. He, and others who have taken his view, adduce multitudes of instances of the use of the word in the simple sense of ‘to crucify,’ the ἀνά being merely ‘up,’ as in ἀνακρεμάω, ἀναρτάω, ἀνασκολοπίζω, &c. So in Herod. vi. 30, τὸ μὲν αὐτοῦ σῶμα.… ἀνεσταύρωσαν, and thus in Thucyd., Xen., Polyb., also in Plato, Plut., Diod. Sic., Ælian, Herodian, Galen, Lucian, Josephus. But it has been well answered by Bleek, and others, 1. that ἀνά in composition is not unfrequently found with the double meaning of again, or back, and also up: as e. g. in ἀναβλέπω, which signifies both to look up, and to recover-sight; so of ἀναβαίνω, ἀνάγω, ἀναδύομαι, ἀναθέω, ἀνατρέχω, ἀνακαθίζω, ἀνακομίζω, ἀναπέμπω, ἀναπλέω, &c.: 2. considering, α. that the classical writers never had any occasion for the idea of recrucifying, and, β. that our Writer could have used the word, however to be rendered, with no other idea here, it is very probable that the reiterative force of ἀνά is the right one to be adopted: 3. the consensus of the Greek interpreters is of great weight, in a question simply affecting the meaning of a Greek compound. Chrys., ἄνωθεν πάλιν σταυροῦντας: Thdrt., Œc., ἄνωθεν, φησί, σταυροῦντας: Phot., ἐπὶ δευτέραν σταύρωσιν κ. δεύτερον πάθος καλοῦντας αὐτόν: Thl. and Schol. Matth., ἄνωθεν σταυροῦντας· ἅπαξ γὰρ ἐσταυοώθη κ. τ. λ.: Syr., “denuo erucifigunt:” vulg., “rursum crucifigentes:” D-lat., “recrucientes:” Tert(32), “refigentes cruci.” Jerome’s testimony also is remarkable: “Pro rursus crucifigentes melius unum verbum compositum in Græco est ἀνασταυροῦντες, quod nos interpretari possumus recrucifigentes”) to themselves ( ἑαυτοῖς is not, as some of the Fathers, e. g. Œc., Thl., ὅσον τὸ ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς,—nor by their means, as Schulz: but is that kind of ‘dativus commodi’ which approaches very nearly to mere reference, though there never is, properly speaking, a dative of mere reference. So in ref. Gal., διʼ οὗ ἐμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ. Christ was their possession by faith: this their possession they took, and recrucified to themselves: deprived themselves of all benefit from Him, just as did the unbelieving Jews who nailed Him to the tree. Vatablus’s “in suorum perniciem,” approved by Lünemann, is too strong. The ‘dativus incommodi’ is only in fact a fine irony on the ‘dativus commodi,’ and its edge must not be turned by too rough use. Bengel’s characteristic antithesis, “ ἑαυτοῖς, sibi, facit antitheton ad παραδειγματίζοντας, ostentantes,” is in this case more fanciful than real) the Son of God (for solemnity, to shew the magnitude of the offence), and putting (Him) to open shame (so in ref. Matt.: in ref. Num., the word is used of the actual hanging up on a tree: “Take all the heads of the people, καὶ παραδειγμάτισον αὐτοὺς τῷ κυρίῳ κατέναντι τοῦ ἡλίου.” See other examples in Bleek. Here the word continues the action of the former participle: they crucify Him anew, and as at his former crucifixion, put Him to shame before all: as Bleek strikingly says, they tear Him out of the recesses of their hearts where He had fixed his abode, and exhibit Him to the open scoffs and reproach of the world, as something powerless and common: cf. ch. Hebrews 10:29, τὸν υἱὸν θεοῦ καταπατήσας, καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης κοινὸν ἡγησάμενος ἐν ᾧ ἡγιάσθη, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς χάριτος ἐνυβρίσας). It would be quite beyond the limits of mere annotation, to give any satisfactory analysis of the history of interpretation of this passage, and of the conflicts which have sprung up around it. Such accounts will be found admirably given in several of the Commentators, among whom I would especially mention Bleek and Tholuck; and for the English reader, Owen, who treats it at great length and very perspicuously. I will only mention the most notable points, and set down a few landmarks of the exegesis. 1. The passage was used by the Montanists and the Novatians, in ancient times, to justify the irrevocable exclusion from the Church, of those who had lapsed. Tertullian, de Pudicitia, § 20, vol. ii. p. 1021, cites it as the testimony of Barnabas, and adds, “Hoc qui ab apostolis didicit et cum apostolis docuit, nunquam mœcho et fornicatori secundam pœnitentiam promissam ab apostolis norat.” See other testimonies in Bleek i. § 53, and h. 1. But, 2. in the Catholic Church this view was ever resisted, and the Fathers found in the passage simply a prohibition against the repetition of baptism. So Athanasius expressly, Ephesians 4, ad Serap. § 13, vol. i. (ii. Migne) p. 563, οὐκ ἐκκλεῖόν ἐστι τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων τὴν μετάνοιαν, ἀλλὰ δεικνύον, ἓν εἶναι τὸ τῆς καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας βάπτισμα καὶ μὴ δεύτερον. And so all the ancients who have noticed the passage, and some of the moderns: see above on φωτίζω. 3. In later times, the great combat over our passage has been between the Calvinistic and the Arminian expositors. To favour their peculiar views of indefectibility, the former have endeavoured to weaken the force of the participial clauses as implying any real participation in the spiritual life. So Calvin himself (“Hoc (the elect only being truly regenerate) obstare nego quominus reprobos etiam gustu gratiæ suræ adspergat, irradiet eorum mentes aliquibus lucis suæ scintillis, afficiat eos bonitatis suæ sensu, verbumque suum utrumque animis eorum insculpat”), Beza (“Aliud est vere credere … aliud vero gustum aliquem habere …”): so Owen (“The persons here intended are not true and sincere believers:.… for, 1) in their full and large description there is no mention of faith or believing,” &c.), and recently Tait, Exposition of Epistle to the Hebrews. But all this is clearly wrong, and contrary to the plainest sense of the terms here used. The Writer even heaps clause upon clause, to shew that no such shallow tasting, no “primoribus tantum labris gustasse” is intended: and the whole contextual argument is against the view, for it is the very fact of these persons having veritably entered the spiritual life, which makes it impossible to renew them afresh if they fall away. If they have never entered it, if they are unregenerate, what possible logic is it, or even common sense at all, to say, that their shallow taste and partial apprehension makes it impossible to renew them: what again to say, that it is impossible πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν persons in whose case no ἀνακαινισμός has ever taken place? If they have never believed, never been regenerated, how can it be more difficult to renew them to repentance, than the heathen, or any unconverted persons? One landmark of exegesis then must be, to hold fast the simple plain sense of the passage, and recognize the fact that the persons are truly the partakers of the spiritual life—regenerate by the Holy Spirit. Elect of course they are not, or they could not fall away, by the very force of the term: but this is one among many passages where in the Scripture, as ever from the teaching of the Church, we learn that ‘elect’ and ‘regenerate’ are not convertible terms. All elect are regenerate: but all regenerate are not elect. The regenerate may fall away, the elect never Song of Solomon 4. Again, the word ἀδύνατον has been weakened down to “difficile” by the ancient Latin version in D, and thus explained by a-Lapide, Le Clerc, Limborch, Pyle, and many others. The readers of this commentary will not need reminding, that no such sense can be for a moment tolerated. And this is our second landmark of exegesis: ἀδύνατον stands immoveable. But let us see where, and how, it stands. It is the strongest possible case, which the Writer is putting. First there is considerable advance in the spiritual life, carefully and specifically indicated. Then there is deliberate apostasy: an enmity to Him whom they before loved, a going over to the ranks of His bitter enemies and revilers, and an exposing Him to shame in the sight of the world. Of such persons, such apostates from being such saints, the Writer simply says that it is impossible to bestow on them a fresh renewal to repentance. There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin than that one which they have gone through and rejected: they are in the state of crucifying the Son of God: the putting Him to shame is their enduring condition. How is it possible then to renew them to repentance? It is simply impossible, from the very nature of the case. The question is not, it seems to me, whether man’s ministry or God’s power is to be supplied as the agent, nor even whether the verb is active or passive: the impossibility lies merely within the limits of the hypothesis itself. Whether God, of His infinite mercy and almighty power, will ever, by judgments or the strong workings of His Spirit, reclaim the obdurate sinner, so that even he may look on Him whom he has pierced, is, thank Him, a question which neither this, nor any other passage of Scripture, precludes us from entertaining. There is no barring here of God’s grace, but just as I have observed above, an axiomatic preclusion by the very hypothesis itself, of a renewal to repentance of those who have passed through, and rejected for themselves, God’s appointed means of renewal. 5. Another dispute over our passage has been, whether the sin against the Holy Ghost is in any way brought in here. Certainly we may say that the fall here spoken of cannot be identical with that sin: for as Bleek has well remarked, that sin may be predicated of persons altogether outside the Christian Church, as were those with reference to whom our Lord uttered His awful saying on it. It is true, the language used in the parallel place, ch. Hebrews 10:29, does approach that sin, where he says, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς χάριτος ἐνυβρίσας: but it is also clear that the impossibility here spoken of cannot depend on the fact of such sin having been committed, by the very construction of the participles, ἀνασταυροῦντας and παραδειγματίζοντας, which themselves render the reason for that impossibility.

Verse 7-8

7, 8.] Illustration of the last position, by a contrast between profitable and unprofitable land. For land which has drunk in (“ γῆ, indefinite: ἡ πιοῦσα, defined as to the kind of γῆ meant. So Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:21; Galatians 4:27; Xen. Hell. i. 10. 1, ἀποτέμνεται χεὶρ ἡ δεξιά, ‘a hand, namely, the right.’ ” Delitzsch) the rain frequently coming on it (so far, is the subject of both sides of the hypothesis: and not the word γῆ only. This is necessitated by the omission of the article at ἐκφέρουσα. The E. V., “But that which beareth thorns” &c., would require ἡ δὲ ἐκφέρουσα. Besides which, the E. V. has neglected the aorist part. here, in rendering, “the earth which drinketh in.” The drinking in the rain is an act prior to both the hypotheses: the participles which convey the hypothesis itself being present.

The verb πίνειν is not uncommonly used of land receiving rain, both in LXX (ref.), and classical writers: as, besides Herod. in reff., Anacreon xix. 1, ἡ γῆ μέλαινα πίνει: Virg. Ecl. iii. 111, “sat prata biberunt:” Georg. iv. 32. Here it implies not only that the earth has received the rain, but that it has taken it in, sucked it in, “being no impenetrable rocky soil, from which the rain runs off without sinking in. And thus it is an appropriate figure for men who have really taken into themselves the word of God, and experienced its power” (Bl.), and so furnishes an explanation of Hebrews 6:4-5, as well as being explained by them. In the interpretation, ὑετός must not be too strictly confined to “teaching,” as Chrys., Thl., Œc., but taken as widely as the participial clauses before extend, as importing all spiritual influences whatever. Notice ἐπʼ αὐτ ῆς, not ἐπʼ αὐτ ήν, as we should expect of the falling rain: the gen. being used to indicate that the rain lies and abides over it, not running off, nor merely falling towards, but covering, ready to be sucked in) and ( καί serves, after the general clause, γῆὑετόν, common to both alternatives, to introduce the first of them. We should more naturally expect τίκτουσα μέν to answer to ἐκφέρουσα δέ) brings forth (see reff. and Wetst.) plants ( βοτάνη, from βόσκω, properly fodder, provender, for man or beast: generally used for grass, or corn, or any kind of green herb: so in reff. Bl. quotes from an Hexaplar transl. of Habakkuk 3:17 (LXX, τὰ πεδία οὐ ποιήσει βρῶσιν), ἡ δὲ γῆ μὴ ἐκθάλῃ βοτάνην) fit ( εὕθετος, a word peculiar to St. Luke elsewhere in N. T., is found in the later classics in this sense of ‘aptus,’ convenient. So Diod. Sic. ii. 57, πηγὰς.… εἰς λουτρὰ κ. κόπων ἀφαίρεσιν εὐθέτους: Dion. Hal. i. p. 10, χώρα εἰς νομὰς εὔθετος: Polyb. xxvi. 5. 6, πρὸς πᾶσαν σωματικὴν χρείαν.… εὔθετος) for those (it is a question whether ἐκείνοις depends on εὔθετος or on τίκτουσα. It will be seen that in the instances above quoted εὔθετος is followed by εἰς or πρός and not by a dative. But the construction with a dative is not altogether unprecedented: e. g. besides Luke 9:62, Nicolaus in Stob. Florileg. xiv. 7, οἶμαι δʼ ἐμαυτὸν εὔθετον τῷ πράγματι, παῖδες, γεγονέναι: and the dative, whether after one or the other, is a dativus commodi, not equivalent, if taken after εὔθετον, to πρὸς ἐκείνους, but to πρὸς βρῶσιν ἐκείνοις. To the sense, it is quite indifferent which connexion we take. The sentence is perhaps better balanced by joining ἐκείνοις with τίκτουσα, τίκτουσα βοτάνην εὔθετον | ἐκείνοις διʼ οὒς καὶ γεωργεῖται flowing more evenly than τίκτουσα βοτάνην | εὔθετον ἐκείνοις διʼ οὒς καὶ γεωργεῖται. The absolute use of εὅθετον need make no difficulty: cf. ref. Ps., προσεύξεται πρός σε πᾶς ὅσιος ἐν καιρῷ εὐθέτῳ: Diod. Sic. v. 37, κατασκευάζουσιν εὔθετον τὴν πρὸς τὰς ἐργασίας πραγματείαν: also ref. Susan.), on whose account (the E. V. following the vulg. (“a quibus”), and Luther, Beza (“per quos”), Calv. (“quorum opera”), Erasm. (par.), al., render ungrammatically, “by whom,” διʼ ὧν or ὑφʼ ὧν. It is a curious sign of the scholarship of Owen’s days, that he says, “ διὰ with an accusative case is not unfrequently put for the genitive.… unquestionable instances of this may be given, and amongst them that of Demosth. Olynth. i. is eminent: καὶ θεωρεῖ τὸν τρόπον διʼ ὃν μέγας γέγονεν ἀσθενὴς ὢν τὸ κατʼ ἀρχὰς φίλιππος:” as if this were not a strictly normal use of διὰ with the accusative. Tert(33) and the old Latin version in D, have it right, “propter quos:” and Œc. says, γεωργεῖται δὲ δηλονότι εἰς σωτηρίαν κ. κέρδος αὐτῶν ἐκείνων τῶν καρποφορούντων. On the sense, see below) also (this καί is common in cases where some special reference of an already patent fact is adduced: so in ref., τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἡμῖν καὶ ἔπρεπεν ἀρχιερεύς: q. d. ‘another consideration is’ &c. Schlichting, al. have mistaken its sense, and regarded it as introducing γεωργεῖται as an additional particular over and above the πιεῖν τὸν ὑετόν: “Ait autem et colitur, ut ad imbrium irrigationem etiam terræ istius diligentem accedere culturam ostendat”) it is tilled (who are ἐκεῖνοι διʼ οὓς καὶ γεωργεῖται, in the interpretation? Thl. mentions two references: 1. to the men themselves: καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἐκεῖνοι οἱ καρποφοροῦντες τὴν ἀρετὴν ἀπολαύσουσι ταύτης: 2. to their teachers: καὶ γὰρ καὶ διʼ αὐτοὺς γεωργεῖται ἡ ἀρίστη πολιτεία, ὡς καὶ αὐτῶν μετεχόντων τῆς τῶν μαθητῶν ἀρετῆς. But both these fall short of the mark: and there can be no doubt that if, as is probable, the features of the parable are to be traced in the interpretation, we must understand GOD as the owner of the land which is tilled, and the tillers are the teachers and preachers of the gospel. So 1 Corinthians 3:9, θεοῦ γεώργιον.… ἐστε), partakes of (the verb is often used without any necessary reference to others also being sharers: see reff.) blessing (Schlichting’s remark is good: that the Writer has not so much the figure in mind, as the thing figured, viz. the men to whom, already having, more is given: and he refers to John 15:2, πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον, καθαίρει αὐτὸ ἵνα καρπὸν πλείονα φέρῃ) from God ( ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ may be joined either with εὐλογίας or with μεταλαμβάνει. It is no objection to the former construction that it is not τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ: the insertion of the art. would in fact encumber the sentence. And this is the connexion which seems to me the more probable; it has a share in εὐλογία ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. So also Delitzsch: Bleek and Lünemann support the other): but if it bear (Chrys., Œc., Thl., and some of the moderns, a-Lapide, Grot., al., have drawn a distinction between ἐκφέρουσα and τίκτουσα: ὅρα πῶς ἐπὶ τῶν ἀκανθῶν οὐκ εἶπε τίκτουσα ἀκάνθας, οὐδὲ χρησίμῳ τούτῳ ὀνόματι ἐχρήσατο, ἀλλὰ τί; ἐκφέρουσα ἀκάνθας, ὡς ἂν εἴποι τις ἐκβράσσουσα, ἐκβάλλουσα. But it has been observed by Elsner, Raphel, Wetst., al. that ἐκφέρειν is a general word for to bring forth fruit: e. g. Herod. i. 193, ἔστι δὲ χωρέων αὕτη ἁπασέων μακρῷ ἀρίστη.… δήμητρος καρπὸν ἐκφέρειν. And see reff. LXX and other examples in Bleek and Wetst.) thorns and thistles (see reff.), is accounted worthless (‘reproba,’ ‘rejectanea,’ tried and found wanting. It occurs in the N. T. elsewhere only in St. Paul, 7 times: see reff. Being thus rejected, it gets no share of God’s blessing) and nigh unto cursing (see reff.: and compare Acts 9:38; Acts 27:8, for the dative usage of ἐγγύς. There appears here to be an allusion to Genesis 3:17-18,— ἐπικατάρατος ἡ γῆ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις σου.… ἀκάνθας καὶ τριβόλους ἀνατελεῖ σοι. Chrys. has noticed that in ἐγγύς there is a softening of the severity of the declaration: βαβαί, πόσην ἔχει παραμυθίαν ὁ λόγος. κατάρας μὲν εἶπεν ἐγγύς, οὐ κατάρα· ὁ δὲ μηδέπω εἰς κατάραν ἐμπεσὼν ἀλλʼ ἐγγὺς γενόμενος καὶ μακρὰν γενέσθαι δυνήσεται), of which the end is unto burning. There is considerable doubt both as to the connexion, and as to the interpretation of the sense when obtained. To what does ἧς belong? to γῆς, or to κατάρας? The latter is taken by (not Erasm. (par.), as so cited by Bleek: for it runs, “exsecrationi divinæ: cujus exitus huc tendit, non ut demetatur, sed ut exuratur:” where the passives make it almost necessary to apply “cujus” not to the curse, but to the land), Camerarius, Bleek, al.: the end, result, of which curse is that it tends to burning. But it does not seem to me that this would have been thus expressed. κατάρας holds a very subordinate predicatory place: and it is hardly likely that it should be taken up again and made the subject of a relative: especially in the presence of such phrases as reff. 2 Cor., Phil., and 1 Pet., in all of which the gen. aft. τέλος is of the finished, not of the finishing. I would therefore, with Chrys. ( δηλῶν ὅτι ἐὰν μέχρι τέλους οὕτως ἐπιμείνῃ, τούτῳ ( τοῦτο?) πείσεται), Thl. ( οὐκ εἶπεν ἣ κατακαυθήσεται, ἀλλʼ ἧς τὸ τέλ. εἰς κ., τουτέστιν, ἐὰν κ. τ. λ. as Chrys.), Luth., Bengel, and most Commentators (including Delitzsch), refer ἧς to γῆς. But then, with what view will this ultimate burning take place? Some have said, with a salutary end, as in Virg. Georg. i. 84–93 (“Sæpe etiam steriles incendere profuit agros, Atque levem stipulam crepitantibus urere flammis: Sive inde occultas vires et pabula terræ Pinguia concipiunt, sive illis omne per ignem Excoquitur vitium atque exsudat inutilis humor.” See also Plin. H.N. xviii.39 (72)). Strange to say, this meaning is adopted, not by Roman-Catholic Commentators, but by such as Schlichting, Stuart (apparently: “to have all its worthless productions consumed”), Dr. Bloomfield, al.: not seeing, except Schlichting, who attempts to repudiate it (“nam quod terra sterilis per incendium non corrumpatur sed corrigatur, hoc in similitudine hac non attenditur”), that the inevitable conclusion from such an acceptation would be, the existence of purgatorial fire. The reference clearly is, as the whole context and the words ἧς τέλος εἰς shew, not to purifying, but to consuming fire: as in ch. Hebrews 10:26-27, where the same ultimate fear is described as issuing in πυρὸς ζῆλος ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους. So in Deuteronomy 29:22-23, the curse of the apostate land is described as consisting in “brimstone, and salt, and burning; that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah,” &c. And this destruction by burning is quite according to N. T. analogy: e. g. John 15:6; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 3:12; Matthew 7:19; Matthew 13:30; Matthew 13:40 ff.

εἰς καῦσιν is said by Kuin., Ebrard, al. to be a Hebraism for καῦσις. But this has been satisfactorily disproved by Winer, Gramm. § 29. 3 Remark. Chrys., continuing the same strain as above on κατάρας ἐγγύς, beautifully concludes, ὥστε, ἐὰν ἐκτέμωμεν κ. κατακαύσωμεν τὰς ἀκάνθας, δυνησόμεθα τῶν μυρίων ἀπολαῦσαι ἀγαθῶν, κ. γενέσθαι δόκιμοι, κ. εὐλογίας μετασχεῖν. And so Œc., Thl., Primas. The stronger Calvinistic interpreters regard ἐγγύς as betokening the near approach of the judgment; as in ἤγγικεν ἡ βας. τῶν οὐρ.; and some refer the whole to the destruction of Jerusalem: so Bengel: “Strictura prophetica, per paucis annis ante combustam urbem Hierosolymorum. Perditissimi Judæorum erant, qui in urbe, et circum eam, fidei repugnabant.”

Verse 9

9.] But we are persuaded (stronger than πεποίθαμεν, which would express only a subjective confidence, whereas πεπείσμεθα gives the result of actual conviction by proof. Notice the almost verbal correspondence of ref. Rom.) concerning you, beloved (“Apposite eos sic vocat (see reff.) ne putarent eum aliquo ipsorum odio laborare, sed ut scirent eum amore Christiano erga ipsos flagrare: quiamor facit ut semper meliora ominemur iis quos amamus, et si quid severius dicimus, animo corrigendi, non nocendi cupido, dicamus.” Schlichting), the things which are better (the better course as regards your moral state: or, the better fate, as regards your ultimate end. So Chrys., drawing the same distinction, ἤτοι περὶ πολιτείας ( ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑμεῖς τοιοῦτοι ἀκανθώδεις, added by Thl.) ἢ περὶ ἀντιδόσεως ( ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὲ κατάρας ἐγγύς, οὔτε πρὸς καῦσιν, ἀλλά τις ἄλλη ἀντιμισθία ὑμῖν ἀπόκειται, added by Thl.) ταῦτά φησιν The latter is most probably the reference, seeing that what follows rests on God’s ultimate faithfulness and justice in the day of retribution. The former is of course involved in it, as conditioning it.

The art. is used, because it is not merely ‘better things,’ of some sort, that he is persuaded, but, of two opposite courses, that one which is the more excellent), and (things) akin to salvation (the formula ἔχεσθαί τινος, ‘to be next to,’ ‘bordering on,’ has occasioned the participle ἐχόμενος to be used in the sense of akin to, partaking of the nature of. This use is frequent in Herodotus, e. g. v. 49, τοῖσι οὔτε χρυσοῦ ἐχόμενόν ἐστιν οὐδὲν οὔτε ἀργύρου: i. 120, τὰ τῶν ὀνειράτων ἐχόμενα: cf. also ii. 77; iii. 25, 66; viii. 142. So that Augustine’s, Erasmus’s, and Beza’s rendering, “saluti adhærentia,” is better than vulg., “viciniora saluti,” or D-lat., “proximiora saluti.” There may certainly be a reminiscence, in the expression, of κατάρας ἐγγύς above, as Schlichting, “saluti non maledictioni vicina:” but it seems hardly probable, for as Bleek remarks, had this been meant, the Writer would, considering his love for παρονομασία, have used some more cognate expression. On σωτηρία, in the highest sense, eternal salvation, see note, ch. Hebrews 1:14), if even we do thus speak ( εἰ καί differs from καὶ εἰ, in that the force of the εἰ extends over the whole of the addition or climax expressed by the καί, ‘if even:’ whereas in καὶ εἰ, the hypothesis itself is included in the climax, ‘even if.’ See Hartung, Partikellehre i. 139 f. The present enlarges the speaking, so that it refers not merely to what has just been said, but to a habit of thus speaking: βέλτιον γὰρ ὑμᾶς ῥήμασι φοβῆσαι, ἵνα μὴ τοῖς πράγμασιν ἀλγήσητε. Chrys.).

Verses 9-20

9–20.] Encouragement to perseverance: and first (Hebrews 6:9-12), from God’s faithfulness: see summary at ch. Hebrews 5:11. καθαψάμενος τοίνυν αὐτῶν ἱκανῶς κ. φοβήσας κ. πλῆξας, θεραπεύει πάλιν, ὥστε μὴ πλέον καταβαλεῖν, κ. ὑπτίους ἐργάσασθαι· τὸν γὰρ νωθρὸν ὁ πλήττων νωθρότερον ἐργάζεται. οὔτε οὖν πάντῃ κολακεύει ὥστε μὴ ἐπᾶραι, οὔτε πάντῃ πλήττει, ὥστε μὴ ὑπτιωτέρους ποιῆσαι· ἀλλʼ ὀλίγον ἐμβαλὼν τὸ πληκτικόν, πολὺ τὸ θεραπευτικὸν προσφέρει διὰ τῶν ἐπαγομένων, ὥστε ὃ βούλεται κατορθῶσαι. Chrys.

Verse 10

10.] For God is not unjust, (so as) to forget (first, of the construction, ἄδικος ἐπιλαθέσθαι. Cf. οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα, ch. Hebrews 5:5; it is epexegetic, and designates the act whereby or wherein the quality just predicated would be shewn. The aor. ἐπιλαθέσθαι must not be rendered “ut oblitus sit,” “so that He should have forgotten,” as Seb. Schmidt: neither can we say with Kühner, § 445. 2, that there are infinitives in which all relation of time is lost, and the aor. = the pres.: but the distinction seems to be as in other cases where aorists and presents appear to be convertibly put, that whenever the act is one admitting of being treated as a momentary one, or of being grasped as a whole, the aor. is used: when, on the other hand, habit, or endurance is indicated, the present. This is strikingly shewn in one of Kühner’s own examples: Xen. Cyr. v. 1. 2, καλέσας ὁ κῦρος ἀράσπην ΄ῆδον, τοῦτον ἐκέλευσε διαφυλάξαι αὐτῷ τήν τε γυναῖκα κ. τὴν σκηνήν—here is the whole act: as we say ‘to keep safe,’ and αὐτῷ binds the office as one solemn duty on Araspes; but below, ib. 3, we have, ταύτην οὖν ἐκέλευσεν ὁ κῦρος διαφυλάσσειν τὸν ἀράσπην, ἕως ἂν αὐτὸς λάβῃ, where by ἕως ἄν, the duration of time is introduced, and the habitual present rendered necessary. Here, the whole forgetfulness would be one act of oblivion, which the aor. expresses. There are many places in the O. T. where forgetfulness on the part of God is thus denied: cf. Psalms 9:12; Psalms 9:18; Psalms 10:12; Amos 8:7; or deprecated, cf. 1 Samuel 1:11; Psalms 13:1; Psalms 42:9; Psalms 44:24; Psalms 74:19; Psalms 74:23; Isaiah 49:14 ff.: Lamentations 5:20 al.) your work (i. e. your whole Christian life of active obedience: so ἔργον absolutely in the passage 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; so besides reff., in Galatians 6:4, τὸ δὲ ἔργον ἑαυτοῦ δοκιμαζέτω ἕκαστος. See this work somewhat specified in ch. Hebrews 10:32-34. It is a general term, including the labours of love mentioned below) and the love (the expressions nearly resemble those in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, from which the τοῦ κόπου of the rec. seems to have come) which ye shewed ( ἐνδείκνυμαι (see reff.) is used in classical Greek in this same sense, of exhibiting a quality or attribute of character: Aristoph. Plut. 785, ἐνδεικνύμενος εὔνοιαν: Plut. Cicero, p. 877, πᾶσαν ἐνδεικνύμενοι φιλοφροσύνην. See more examples in Bleek: and note on Ephesians 2:7. Here, as there, the dynamic middle gives the personal reference: but not here, as there, conscious and predetermined) towards His name ( ἧς ἐνεδ. φησιν οὐχ ἁπλῶς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους, ἀλλʼ εἰς τὸν θεόν· τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, ὡσεὶ ἔλεγε· διὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ πάντα πεποιήκατε. ὁ τοίνυν τοσαύτης παρʼ ὑμῶν ἀπολαύων σπουδῆς κ. ἀγάπης, οὐ καταφρονήσει ποτὲ ὑμῶν οὐδὲ ἐπιλήσεται. Chrys. and similarly Œc. and Thl., Erasm., Calv., Luther, Justiniani, Seb. Schmidt, De W., al. And this seems better than with D-lat. and the vulg. (“in nomine ejus or ipsius”), and most Commentators, to suppose εἰς τὸ ὄν. αὐτ. a Hebraism for ἐν, or ἐπί, τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτ.: see Matthew 10:41-42; Matthew 18:20. The ἅγιοι were those who were called by His name, so that beneficence towards them was in fact shewn towards His name. αὐτοῦ refers to God, as the antecedent expressed above: not to Christ, as Ernesti, Stuart (alt.), al.) in having ministered (probably, see ref. and 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:19-20; 2 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 11:29, if not exclusively, yet principally, in eleemosynary bestowals. It may hence perhaps be surmised that these Hebrews did not live in Judæa: see Prolegg. § ii. 15) to the saints, and still ministering ( ὅρα δὲ πῶς θεραπεύει αὐτούς· οὐ γὰρ εἶπε διακονήσαντες και ἔστη, ἀλλὰ προσέθηκε καὶ διακονοῦντες, τουτέστι, καὶ ἔτι αὐτὸ ποιοῦντες. Thl. There is a fine touch here of that delicate compliment, which is also characteristic of St. Paul. “Necdum hæc pietas in vobis cessavit, licet forte remiserit,” as Schlichting: but the Writer leaves the defect to be understood and states the excellency at its utmost. On the Christian doctrine of reward, as declared in this passage, see note in Delitzsch, p. 242).

Verse 11

11.] But (the δέ carries a slight reproof, contrasting your need of exhortation to constancy with your past and partially remaining present practice) we earnestly desire ( οὐκ εἶπε· θέλω, ὅπερ ἦν διδασκαλικῆς αὐθεντίας, ἀλλʼ ὃ πατρικῆς ἦν φιλοστοργίας κ. πλέον τοῦ θέλειν, ἐπιθυμούμεθα· μονονουχὶ λέγων· σύγγνωτε κἂν φορτικόν τι φθεγξώμεθα. Chrys.: and Thl., οὐ γὰρ μέχρι ῥήματος τοῦτο βούλομαι, ἀλλʼ ἡ ψυχή μου καίεται ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν) that every one of you ( πολλὴ ἡ φιλοστοργία· κ. μεγάλων κ. μικρῶν ὁμοίως κήδεται, καὶ πάντας οἶδε, κ. οὐδένα παρορᾷ, ἀλλὰ τὴν αὐτὴν περὶ ἕκαστον κηδεμονίαν ἐπιδείκνυται, κ. τὴν ἰσοτιμίαν πρὸς πάντας· ὅθεν καὶ μᾶλλον ἔπειθε δέξασθαι τὸ φορτικὸν τῶν ῥημάτων. Chrys.) do shew (see above) the same diligence ( τὴν αὐτήν, not as Peirce and Sykes, the same which some have already shewn: nor, the same as ye have already shewn, as Chrys. ( οἷος ἦς πρότερον, τοιοῦτον εἶναι κ. νῦν κ. εἰς τὸ μέλλον), Œc., Thdrt., Thl., Grot., Limb., al., which would imply that the Writer was satisfied with their state hitherto, and only desired its continuance: an inference at variance with the facts of the Epistle: but, the same, with a view to the πληροφ. τῆς ἐλπ. ἄχρι τέλους, as they had already shewn with regard to the necessities of the saints. So Bengel, Cramer, Böhme, Bleek, Lünem., Ebrard, Delitzsch (doubtfully), al.) with regard to (the employment which this diligence is to find: the object with reference to which it is to energize) the full assurance (so, taking πληροφορία subjectively as in the other places of the N. T. (reff.), Erasm., Vatabl., Calvin, Beza, Estius, Jac.Cappell., Schlicht., Calov., Wolf, Tholuck, Ebrard, Lünem., Delitzsch,—and many others. And so in fact Thl.: ἵνα πλήρη κ. τελείαν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἐνδείξησθε κ. μὴ σκυλθῆτε. But Corn. a-Lap., Grot., Schulz, De W., Bleek, al., take the word objectively, the full formation, in the sense, to be diligent, evermore to form hope more completely within you, so that you be not moved, but stedfast, until the great object of hope appear. This latter no doubt is excellent sense, but N. T. usage must prevail) of your hope until the end (cf. ch. Hebrews 3:14. The words ἄχρι τέλους belong to the whole sentence, not to the verb nor to πληρ. τῆς ἐλπίδος only. ‘The end’ is the coming of the Lord, looked for as close at hand, see note as above):

Verse 12

12.] that ye become not (“be not” misses the fine delicacy of the Writer: as Chrys., ἵνα μὴ νωθροὶ γένησθε, ἀκμὴν γένησθε. καὶ μὴν ἀνωτέρω ἔλεγεν, ἐπεὶ νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖς. ἀλλʼ ὅρα πῶς ἐκεῖ μέχρι τῆς ἀκοῆς τὴν νωθρότητα ἔστησεν. ἐνταῦθά τε καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο φθέγγεται, ἀλλʼ ἕτερόν τι αἰνίττεται· ἀντὶ γὰρ τοῦ εἰπεῖν, μὴ ἐναπομείνητε τῇ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ, μὴ νωθροὶ γένησθε, εἶπε. πάλιν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν μέλλοντα ἐξάγει καιρὸν τὸν ἀνεύθυνον, εἰπών, ἵνα μὴ νωθροὶ γένησθε· ἐκείνου γὰρ τοῦ μήπω παρόντος οὐκ ἂν εἴημεν ὑπεύθυνοι. ὁ μὲν γὰρ εἰς τὸ παρὸν παρακαλούμενος σπουδάζειν, ὡς ῥᾳθυμῶν, ἴσως καὶ ὀκνηρότερος ἔσται· ὁ δὲ εἰς τὸ μέλλον, οὐχ οὕτως) sluggish (see on ref. Lünemann observes that this μὴ νωθ. γένησθε is in no contradiction to νωθ. γεγόνατε there, the one being of sluggishness in hearing, the other in Christian practice. See Chrys. above), but (this again is a δέ bringing in a strong contrast—‘nay, but rather:’ passing to another subject altogether, as it were. See on ch. Hebrews 2:6) imitators (a favourite word with St. Paul, see reff.: Xen. Mem. i. 6. 3, οἱ διδάσκαλοι τοὺς μαθητὰς μιμητὰς ἑαυτῶν ἀποδεικνύουσι. Herodian vi. 8. 5, ὡς μὴ μαθητὰς εἶναι μόνον, ἀλλὰ ζηλωτὰς καὶ μιμητὰς τῆς ἐκείνου ἀνδρείας) of them who through faith and endurance (see ref. Col., also Hebrews 6:15; James 5:7-8. Both the noun and the verb belong to later Greek. They form a contrast to ὀξύ- θυμος, - έω, earlier and classical words. Here, that constant and patient waiting is implied, without which faith would be made void: of which it is said, “It is good that a man should both hope and wait for the salvation of the Lord.” But there is no Hendiadys: faith is one thing, endurance another, superadded upon it) inherit the promises (what is meant by κληρονομούντων τὰς ἐπαγγελίας, and who are indicated by the expression? The two questions are very closely connected together. First observe that the participle is not κληρονομησάντων, but present: said not of any one act by which these persons entered on the inheritance of the promises, but of either, 1. a state now going on, ‘who are inheriting,’ or, 2. in mere predication, ‘who are inheritors of.’ That the first cannot be meant, is clear: for in ch. 11 where he enumerates the examples of faith and patience, he says, οὗτοι πάντεςοὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. This same consideration will prevent the reference very commonly here supposed, to Abraham and the patriarchs. Taking then (2), we may regard the participle as ὁ πειράζων and the like, used without reference to time, but as indicative of office, or standing, or privilege. Thus the reference of the words will be perfectly general: not, who have inherited, nor who shall inherit, nor who are inheriting, but ‘who are inheritors of,’ who inherit, in all times and under all circumstances. Of these, Abraham is chosen as the most illustrious example).

Verse 13

13.] For (“His verbis non reddit rationem cur imitari debeant eos, qui per fidem et longanimitatem divinarum promissionum hæredes sunt facti, sed cur mentionem faciat talium. Poterat enim aliquis quærere, an tales aliqui sint, et quinam sint? his ergo verbis in exemplum istius rei adducit patrem omnium credentium Abrahamum, qui et in fide fuit constantissimus, et istius fidei fructum tulit maximum.” Schlichting) God when He promised (not, as De W., Lün., al., having promised: for in matter of fact the oath preceded the statement of the promise, cf. Hebrews 6:14 below: but the aor. participle, as so often, is contemporaneous with the aor. verb, as in ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε, &c. Bleek well remarks, that ἐπαγγειλάμενος is to be taken not only as “made a promise,” but in the Messianic sense, “gave the promise,” as τὰς ἐπαγγελίας above, and ἡ ἐπαγγελία, Hebrews 6:15; Hebrews 6:17 al., αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι ch. Hebrews 7:6 al.: Romans 9:4; Galatians 3:16) to Abraham, since He could ( ἔχειν with an infin., ‘to have the power, or the means, or the opportunity, to …’ is good Greek, e. g. οὐκ ἔχω εἰπεῖν, common in Herod. See reff.) swear by (the classical construction of ὄμνυμι is with an accus. of the person sworn by, ὄμνυμι τοὺς θεούς: but κατά with a gen, is found when a thing is used as binding the oath, as ὄμνυμι κατʼ ἐξολείας, Demosth, p. 553. 17 al.; καθʼ ἱερῶν, p. 1306. 21 al. And this construction, applied to persons, appears to have arisen from that other. See Bleek’s note) none (masc.) greater, swore by Himself (a singularly coincident passage occurs, of the same promise, in Philo, Legg. Allegor. iii. 72, vol. i. p. 127: εὖ καὶ τῷ ὅρκῳ βεβαιώσας τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν, καὶ ὅρκῳ θεοπρεπεῖ. ὁρᾷς γὰρ ὅτι οὐ καθʼ ἑτέρου ὀμνύει θεός, οὐδὲν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κρεῖττον, ἀλλὰ καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, ὅς ἐστι πάντων ἄριστος),

Verses 13-20

13–20.] The encouragement to perseverance is further confirmed by God’s express oath made to Abraham, the first inheritor of the promise.

Verse 14

14.] saying, Surely (in reff., the editions vary between εἰ μήν and ἦ μήν, but the greater MSS. have εἰ μήν: in fact, ει and η are constantly interchanged by the copyists. The expression occurs in formulæ jurandi in several places in the LXX (as e. g. Ezekiel 33:27, ζῶ ἐγώ, εἰ μὴν οἱ ἐν ταῖς ἠρημωμέναις μαχαίραις πεσοῦνται: see also ib. Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 35:6; Ezekiel 36:5; Ezekiel 38:19), so that it could not be an unmeaning expression to the Hellenistic ear. Bleek thinks it came from the Hebraistic formula εἰ μή, which has sometimes been written and edited for it) blessing I will bless (thus frequently the LXX, for the Heb. idiomatic conjuction of the absolute infinitive with the finite verb: but sometimes they have it where the Heb. has no such conjunction, as in 1 Kings 2:25; and something like it is found even in Greek writers, as e. g. Herod. v. 95, φεύγων ἐκφεύγει: Xen. Cyr. viii. 4. 9, ὑπακούων σχολῇ ὑπήκουσα: Lucian, Parasit. 43, φεύγωνκατέφυγε (none of which however are quite analogous, the second verb in all being coupled with some additional predicate, as in φεύγων ἐκφεύγει—‘flying, he escapes, gets clear off’). See Winer, § 45.8, edn. 6. At first the participle seems to have had a certain emphasis: but afterwards this was lost, and the expression became a mere formula) thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee (the LXX has for σε, τὸ σπέρμα σου. This the Writer alters, not from a wish to abbreviate (Jac. Cappell.) nor because he quoted from memory (Abresch), nor because he was unwilling to introduce Abraham’s bodily descendants, but wished to direct his readers’ thoughts to his spiritual seed (Böhme, Bisping, al.), but, as Bleek, De W., Lünem., al., because his concern here was with Abraham alone, and his spiritual example: or perhaps, as Delitzsch, seeing that πληθ. σε could only be understood of posterity, because he wished to concentrate the promise as much as possible):

Verse 15

15.] and thus ( οὕτως belongs to ἐπέτυχε, not to μακροθυμήσας, as Tholuck, and Hofm. Enst. p. 311, for then some particular instance or kind of patience would be most naturally pointed out. It then signifies, when he had received this promise—being in this state of dependence on the divine promise: see below, and reff.) having endured with patience (viz. in his waiting so long for God’s promise to be fulfilled—in having, when it was partially fulfilled, again shewn noble endurance in the will of God by offering up Isaac), he obtained the promise (i. e. not as Bleek, he had made to him the promise above related: this would nearly stultify the sentence, which proceeds on the faithfulness of God, confirming his promise with an oath by Himself, and the faith and endurance of Abraham, waiting for that promise to be fulfilled: but as Lün., he obtained, got fulfilled to him, the promise, the thing promised, to wit, the birth of Isaac, as the commencement of the fulfilment—as much of it as he could see. And thus Abraham became a κληρονόμος τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν. That there is here no inconsistency with ch. Hebrews 11:39, see shewn there. ἐπιτυγχάνω is always used of the actual getting in possession: ὁλκάδος ἀναγομένης ἐπέτυχον, Thuc. iii. 3: εἰ ἀγαθοῦ ὠνητοῦ ἐπιτύχοιμι, Xen. Œc. 2. 3: ἵππου ἐπιτυχὼν ἀγαθοῦ, ib. 12. 20: al. in Bleek. And the above is the explanation, I believe, of every expositor ancient and modern, except Schulz and Bleek. Ebrard indeed varies thus far, as to understand ἐπέτυχεν of Abraham’s final and heavenly enjoyment of the fulfilment of the Messianic promises: but I believe the aorist will be generally considered to preclude this).

Verse 16

16. For [indeed] (see var. readd. This μέν solitarium or ellipticum is common with γάρ, in the sense of the German zwar or freilich, and our ‘of a truth,’ ‘verily:’ so Eurip. Med. 698, ξυγγνωστὰ μὲν γὰρ ἦν σε λυπεῖσθαι, γύναι: Xen. Mem. iii. 10. 1, εἰσελθὼν μὲν γάρ ποτε πρὸς παῤῥάσιον. See the elliptic μέν well discussed in Hartung, Partikellehre ii. 411 ff.) men (emphatic) swear (Bleek observes that it is a mistake to call the form ὀμνύουσιν Hellenistic ( ὀλλύασιν, ὀμνύασιν, ἀττικῶς· ὀλλύουσιν, ὀμνύουσιν, ἑλληνικῶς. Moeris), for we have it in Xen. Mem. iv. 4. 16 ( πανταχοῦ ὀμνύουσι τὸν ὅρκον τοῦτον) and Demosth. p. 622. 22) by the greater (one) ( τοῦ μείζονος is undoubtedly masculine: it could not be predicated of any thing neuter, that it was greater than the men who swear. And by the expression here, generally taken, must be meant God Himself: that greater One, who is above all men. And so Primas., Grot., Bengel, al.), and an (the in the case supposed: the art. is generic: cf. Matthew 13:3, ὁ σπείρων: John 12:24, ὁ κόκκος) oath is to them an end (see reff. and more examples in Bleek) of all gainsaying (E. V. with very many others, “strife,” which is a legitimate meaning of ἀντιλογία (cf. Exodus 18:16; Deuteronomy 19:17; Deuteronomy 21:5 :2 Kings 15:4; Proverbs 18:18; Xen. Hell. vi. 3. 20, εἰρήνην τῶν ἄλλων πεποιημένων, πρὸς δὲ θηβαίους μόνους ἀντιλογίας οὔσης), but not borne out here by the context, seeing that there is no allusion to any instance in which God and men were at strife. And besides, in the only places where ἀντιλογία occurs in the N. T. (see reff.) it has the meaning ‘gainsaying:’ e. g. ch. Hebrews 7:7, χωρὶς πάσης ἀντιλογίας, without possibility of gainsaying. So that it is best to take this meaning here, and understand that an oath puts an end to all gainsaying by confirming the matter one way, in which all parties consent), for confirmation (the E. V. with Beza, Erasm., al., ungrammatically joins these words with ὁ ὅρκος,—“an oath for confirmation.” It is obvious to every one, that they can only be joined, and that closely, with πέρας. The only reason why in the translation I have separated them from it, is for fear of introducing, in English, the ambiguity, ‘for confirmation of all gainsaying.’ Calvin’s remark on this verse is pertinent: “Præterea hic locus docet aliquem inter Christianos jurisjurandi usum esse legitimum. Quod observandum est contra homines fanaticos qui regulam sancte jurandi, quam Deus lege sua præscripsit, libenter abrogarent. Nam Apostolus certe hic de ratione jurandi tanquam de re pia et Deo probata disserit. Porro non dicit olim fuisse in usu, sed adhuc vigere pronuntiat”).

Verses 16-20

16–20.] Security of this promise, as being part of God’s great promise, which He has fulfilled in Christ. These verses are transitional, and lead us to the consideration of the Melchisedek-priesthood of our Lord in the next chapter.

Verse 17

17.] In which behalf (nearly equivalent to ‘wherefore.’ This seems the best rendering, and not, with some, to take ἐν ᾧ, as agreeing with ὅρκῳin which,” or “by which oath:” cf. Thl. (alt.), Primas., al. It belongs, not exclusively to ἐμεσίτευσεν, nor to βουλόμενος, but to the whole sentence, as Delitzsch) God, willing (“ βουλόμενοςβουλῆς, conjugata. Summa hic exprimitur benignitas,” Bengel) to shew more abundantly (“quam sine juramento factum videretur,” Beng. The word can hardly mean as Thl., ἐκ περιουσίας,—Beza, “amplius etiam quam necesse esset.” The Commentators cite a very apposite passage of Philo, de Abr. § 46, vol. ii. p. 39: θεὸς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὃς τῆς πρὸς αὐτὸν πίστεως ἀγάμενος τὸν ἄνδρα πίστιν ἀντιδίδωσιν αὐτῷ, τὴν διʼ ὅρκου βεβαίωσιν ὧν ὑπέσχετο δωρεῶν, οὐκ ἔτι μόνον ὡς ἀνθρώπῳ θεός, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὡς φίλος γνωρίμῳ διαλεγόμενος. φησὶ γάρ· “ κατʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ὤμοσα,” παρʼ ᾧ ὁ λόγος ὅρκος ἐστίν, ἕνεκα τοῦ τὴν διάνοιαν ἀκλινῶς κ. παγίως ἔτι μᾶλλον ἢ πρότερον ἐρηρεῖσθαι) to the heirs of the promise (from ch. Hebrews 9:9, Isaac and Jacob were συγκληρονόμοι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῆς αὐτῆς with Abraham. But there is no need to confine the title to them: as Œc. (Chrys.), ἦλθε δὲ καὶ εἰς ἡμᾶς. ἡμεῖς γὰρ οἱ κληρονόμοι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, οἱ κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν σπέρμα ὄντες τῷ ἀβραάμ· εἰ δὲ σπέρμα, καὶ κληρονόμοι) the unchangeableness (see reff. Beware of supposing the words equivalent to τὴν βουλὴν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἀμετάθετον. It was not “His unchangeable counsel” that He would shew, but the fact that His counsel was unchangeable) of His counsel, interposed ( μεσιτεύω, like μεσίτης, belongs to later Greek: and in its usage it is generally transitive. Thus Diod. Sic. xix. 71, μεσιτεύσαντος τὰς συνθήκας ἀμίλκου: Polyb. ix. 34. 3, μεσιτεῦσαι τὴν διάλυσιν εὐνοϊκῶς, and other examples in Bleek: and thus some have rendered it here: ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν, Œc.: scil., τὴν βουλήν, Böhme: Thdrt. Eran. Dial. i. vol. iii. p. 34, ὁ γὰρ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἀπαγορεύων ὀμνύναι, τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ, καθά φησι καὶ ὁ ἀπόστολος, ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ. But it is also found with an intransitive sense, as in ref.; and thus we may best interpret it here: God came in as a middle person between Himself and Abraham. Men swear by God, as greater than themselves. So God becomes for men, when swearing, the third and higher person concerned, the Mediator between them: cf. Jos. Antt. iv. 6. 7, ταῦτα δὲ ὀμνύοντες ἔλεγον καὶ θεὸν μεσίτην ὧν ὑπισχνοῦντο ποιούμενοι. And thus when He Himself swears, having no greater to swear by, He swears by Himself, so making Himself as it were a third person between the parties to the oath: so, in the intransitive sense, μεσιτεύων. It is strange that Bleek quotes the E. V. as having here “interposed himself by an oath,” whereas it has “confirmed it by an oath,” taking the transitive sense. We may note, that this word ἐμεσίτευσεν has led the Greek expositors, Chrys., Œc., Thl., to fancy that the Son was the person swearing and sworn by. Thus Œc.: καλῶς δὲ ἔχει ἡ ἔννοια τῆς ἑρμηνείας, ἵνα οὕτως ῃ· ὁ θεὸς τουτέστιν ὁ λόγος, ἐπιδεῖξαι βουλόμενος τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῶν τῷ πατρὶ δοξάντων, ἐμεσίτευσε τῷ πατρὶ κ. τῷ ἀβραὰμ ὅρκῳ, τουτέστι μεσίτης ἐν τῷ ὅρκῳ γέγονε· διʼ αὐτοῦ γὰρ ὡς λόγου ὤμνυεν ὁ θεός) with an oath (dat. of the instrument: it was by means of the oath that He exercised the office of μεσίτης),

Verse 18

18.] that by means of two ( δύο is here undeclinable, but not, as Delitzsch states, always in N. T. We have δύσιν in ch. Hebrews 10:28; Matthew 6:24; Matthew 22:40; Acts 12:6 al.) unchangeable things ( ποίου καὶ ποίου; τοῦ τε εἰπεῖν καὶ ὑποσχέσθαι, τοῦ τε ὅρκον προσθεῖναι τῇ ὑποσχέσει. Chrys., Thl.: δύο πράγματα τὸν λόγον καὶ τὸν ὅρκον εἴρηκε. καὶ μόνῳ γὰρ λόγῳ χρώμενος ὁ θεὸς πληροῖ τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν· πολλῷ δὲ μᾶλλον ὅρκον συνάπτων τῷ λόγῳ, Thdrt. Similarly Œc., Schol. Matth., Primas., Erasm., Calov., Beza, Schlichting, and almost all recent expositors. Primasius mentions an idea that one is the promise accompanied by the oath, the other the completion of the promise. Stuart thinks that the two oaths are meant, that to Abraham, and that to Christ by which He is constituted a priest after the order of Melchisedek, and refers to Storr as agreeing in substance with him. But this cannot be the meaning. For the Writer is not recounting God’s promises made by oath, on which our Christian hope is founded: for thus he might say not two but many (e. g. “The Lord hath sworn unto David and will not repent: Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat”): but he is impressing on us the strength of that method of assurance which God has been pleased to give us, in that He has not only promised (in both cases in question) but also confirmed it by an oath), in which (“quæ quum adsint,” as Böhme in Bl.: bei denen: much as ἐν ᾧ above [as the material of the lie, if it were possible]) it is impossible for God ever (this force is given by the aor. which distributes the proposition into separate incidents) to lie (in each and either of them, it is out of all question that falsehood should be suspected in Him. The stress is on ψεύσασθαι, not on θεόν) we may have strong encouragement (see below), who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us (so (except “consolation” for ‘encouragement’) E. V. and in my opinion rightly. The construction, and with it the meaning of παράκλησις, is much controverted. The above view is that of Primas., Erasm., Beza, Schlicht., Grot., Wolf, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, De Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Tholuck, Delitzsch, and many others. On the other hand Œc. ( οἱ καταφυγόντες· εἰς αὐτόν φησι. κρατῆσαι· ἰσχυρὰν παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν εἰς τὸ κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος), Thl. ( παράκλησιν· παραίνεσιν μεγάλην κ. προτροπήν.… ποῦ δὲ ἔχομεν τὴν προτροπήν; εἰς τὸ κρατῆσαι κ. τ. λ.), (Chrys. gives no exposition), Camerarius, Camero, Seb. Schmidt, Heinrichs, Bleek, Lünem., Conybeare, Stuart, al. make κρατῆσαι dependent on παράκλησιν, which they render “exhortation,” “encouragement.” This necessitates making καταφυγόντες absolute, “we who have fled for refuge:” but from what, or to what? There is nothing in the context here, which could lead to this absolute use of such an expression. But if it be joined with εἰς τὸ κρατῆσαι, the idea of flying to an asylum is at once given, and the figure easily and naturally introduced. Besides which, had παράκλησις, meaning ‘exhortation’ or ‘encouragement,’ been followed by a verb, ‘to hold fast,’ this could hardly have been expressed by an aorist: being an abiding condition, it must be present. Whereas now, we have fled to refuge in order to lay hold of—the whole Christian state in one act, which justifies the aorist. As regards the separate words, παράκλησις need not mean “consolation,” but may here also be taken in the same sense as in the other two passages of our Epistle (reff.), viz. ‘encouragement’ or ‘exhortation,’ without an infinitive following. Of these, the former is that which best bears absolute use in English, and I have therefore adopted it. καταφεύγω (see reff. and Jeremiah 27:5 (Jeremiah 50:5); Ps. 142:9) is generally used in the sense of flying for refuge: so Herod. ii. 113, of Paris, when shipwrecked in Egypt, and a suppliant in the temple of Hercules: vi. 75, of the Argives who had fled for sanctuary to the temple of Argos. See especially Raphel’s note here. For κρατεῖν, see on ref.: where observe the present, giving the sense ‘hold fast.’ τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος is not an easy expression. The verb προκεῖσθαι is often used of a prize proposed for a contest,— πρό giving the sense of coram, as in ‘propono:’ so Herod. ix. 101, ὥς σφι καὶ αἱ νῆσοι καὶ ὁ ἑλλήσποντος ἄεθλα προέκειτο, and in numerous examples in Bl. from Xen., Polyb., Ælian, Jos., Philo. So in ch. Hebrews 12:2, τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς. Hence it seems most natural to take ἐλπίς here objectively, or very nearly so;—hope, as embodying the thing hoped for. And especially is this so, when we compare Colossians 1:5, τὴν ἐλπίδα τὴν ἀποκειμένην ὑμῖν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, and Titus 2:13, προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα. Those who take κρατῆσαι for “to hold fast,” are obliged here to regard τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος as equivalent to τῆς ἐλπίδος τῶν προκειμένων: so Bleek: which is very forced: or, as Lünem., to regard ἐλπίς itself as a subjective quality made objective, which, as a privilege or a possession, is ready for and proposed to us in the Christian covenant. Calvin gives a curious explanation: “In vocabulo spei est metonymia: effectus enim pro causa accipitur: nam ego promissionem intelligo cui spes nostra innititur”):

Verse 19

19.] which (viz. the hope: in its subjective resting on objective grounds now to be set forth: not the παράκλησις, as Grot., Seb. Schmidt, al.) we have (not, “we hold fast,” as Bretschn., Wahl, al., = κατέχομεν: this is forbidden by the unemphatic position of the word, as well as by the context) as an anchor of our soul (the similitude is a very common one in Greek and Roman writers; and on coins and medals, where hope is represented by an anchor. See Wetst. A saying is attributed to Socrates, οὔτε ναῦν ἐξ ἑνὸς ἀγκυρίου οὔτε βίον ἐκ μιᾶς ἐλπίδος ὁρμιστέον: see Kypke. Suicer gives some interesting remarks from the Fathers on the similitude) safe and firm (the adjectives belong to ἄγκυραν, not to ἐλπίδα. οὐχ ἁπλῶς δὲ εἶπεν ἄγκυραν, ἀλλά, ἀσφαλῆ τε κ. βεβαίαν. ἔστι γὰρ ἄγκυρα μὴ φυλάττουσα τὸ σκάφος ἀσάλευτον, ἢ ὅταν σαθρά, ἢ ὅταν ἐλαφροτέρα. Thl.) and entering into the part within the veil (first, to what is εἰσερχομένην to be referred? to ἄγκυραν, or to ( ἣν) ἐλπίδα? The former is the more obvious construction: and has been accepted by Beza, Estius (“Sicut ancora navalis non in aquis hæret, sed terram intrat sub aquis latentem, eique infigitur: ita ancora animæ spes nostra non satis habet in vestibulum pervenisse, id est non est contenta bonis terrenis et visibilibus: sed penetrat usque ad ea, quæ sunt intra velum, videlicet in ipsa sancta sanctorum: id est, Deum ipsum et cœlestia bona apprehendit, atque in iis figitur”), Schlichting, Limborch, De Wette, Ebrard, Lünem., Delitzsch, al. This is said by Bleek to be too artificial, and he, with Abresch, Storr, Böhme, Kuinoel, al., takes hope as that which enters within the veil, simply, the figure being dropped. He refers for this to the Greek expositors also: but Chrys. says, ἄγκυραν δὲ οὐχ ἁπλῶς εἶπεν, ἀλλʼ ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν· ἵνα δηλώσῃ τὸ ἀψευδὲς τῶν αὐτῇ ἐπερειδομένων εἰς σωτηρίανʼ διὸ ἐπάγει, εἰσερχ. εἰς τὸ ἐσώτ. τοῦ καταπετ. τί ἐστι τοῦτο; ἀντὶ τοῦ διικνουμένην εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν: by which he clearly seems to refer it to the anchor. Thl. says beautifully on the other side, αὕτη γὰρ ( ἡ ἐλπίς) εἰσελθοῦσα ἔνδον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς ἤδη εἶναι ἐν τοῖς ἐπηγγελμένοις, κἂν ἔτι κάτω ὦμεν, κἂν μήπω ἐλάβομεν· τοσαύτην ἔχει τὴν ἰσχὺν ἡ ἐλπίς, ὥστε τοὺς ἐπιγείους οὐρανίους ποιεῖν. And similarly Œc. But I must say that I prefer the other, being as it seems to me the simpler view. “Two figures are here not so much mixed, as wonderfully combined. The Writer might have compared the world to a sea, the soul to a ship, the future yet hidden glory to the concealed bottom of the deep, the far off terra firma, stretching away under the water and covered by it. Or, he might have compared the present earthly life with the forecourt, and the future blessedness with the heavenly sanctuary which is concealed from us by a veil. But he has combined both these. The Soul clings, as one in fear of shipwreck, to an anchor, and sees not whither the cable of the anchor runs,—where it is fastened: but she knows that it is fastened behind the veil which hides the future glory, and that she, if she only holds on to the anchor, shall in her time be drawn in where it is, into the holiest place, by the hand of the Deliverer.” Ebrard. This is very beautiful, and in the main, simple and natural: only going off into fancy at the end, which is not required for the interpretation.

The word καταπέτασμα is, as far as Bleek knows, Alexandrine: the classical form being παραπέτασμα. See reff. It was the name for the second veil or curtain (ch. Hebrews 9:3), which shut in the holy of holies; the first or outer one being called κάλυμμα, Philo, Vita Mos. iii. 9, vol. ii. p. 150, ἐν δὲ τῷ μεθορίῳ τῶν τεττάρων κ. πέντε κιόνων, ὅπερ ἐστὶ κυρίως εἰπεῖν πρόναον, εἰργόμενον δυσὶν ὑφάσμασι, τὸ μὲν ἔνδον ὃν καλεῖται καταπέτασμα, τὸ δʼ ἐκτὸς προσαγορεύεται κάλυμμα. See further on ch. Hebrews 9:3. For the whole expression, see reff.),

Verse 20

20.] where ( ὅπου is found in places where ὅποι ought rightly to stand, as in our own common phrase, ‘Where are you going?’ It is in fact a constructio prægnans, become a familiar idiom. So Xen. Ages. vi. 6, ἄδηλος γιγνόμενος, ὅπου τε εἴη καὶ ὅπου ἴοι. See also reff.) as forerunner (not “the forerunner” as E. V.: the omission of the art. necessarily places πρόδρομος in the situation of predicate) on our behalf (it is disputed whether ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν is to be joined with πρόδρομος or with εἰσῆλθεν. Œc. and Thl. adopt the former: Thl. explaining very fully: οὐκ ἠρκέσθη δὲ εἰπὼν πρόδρομος, ἀλλὰ προσέθηκε καὶ τὸ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, εἰς πλείω πίστωσιν, ὡσανεὶ τοῦτο λέγων· οὐκ αὐτὸς ἐδεῖτο τοῦ ἐκεῖσε ἐλθεῖν· πῶς γάρ, θεὸς ὤν; ἀλλʼ ὥσπερ σάρκα διʼ ἡμᾶς ἔλαβεν, οὕτω καὶ δἰ ἡμᾶς εἰσῆλθεν ἐσώτερον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ἵνα ἡμῖν ἀνοίξῃ τὴν ὁδόν. ὥστε ἀναγκαίως εἰσελευσόμεθα καὶ αὐτοί. ἢ τὸ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀντὶ τοῦ ἵνα ἐντυγχάνῃ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τῷ πατρί, ὡς καὶ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰσῄει εἰς τὸ ἅγιον ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, ἐξιλασκόμενος ὑπὲρ τοῦ λαοῦ. And so Thdrt., referring to John 14:1 ff. And similarly many moderns also. But Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., Delitzsch, al. prefer joining ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν with the verb, as more simple. One objection to this they do not seem to have seen: the emphatic position which it gives to ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, a position certainly uncalled for here. Besides which, the predicate πρόδρομος standing alone is bald and unexpected, whereas πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν fully justifies itself. And the subsequent words, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄. ἀρχιερεὺς γεν. εἰς τ. αἰ., are no confirmation of the other view, as Del. maintains. The Lord’s entrance is sacerdotal, whether He is forerunner for us, or has entered for us. ὑπέρ is not pleonastic, as Œc.: but He is forerunner on our behalf, as representing, and introducing, us, who are to come after.

πρόδρομος is a good classical word, signifying ordinarily the scouts who were sent before an army, Herod. i. 60; iv. 121–2; and see many examples in Bleek: but also any others sent before, reff.; and Herod. ix. 14, ἦλθε ἀγγελίη πρόδρομος. It is a figure analogous, in its propriety, to ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμημένων, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, in theirs. And it is one full of comfort to us: as Thl., ὁ γὰρ πρόδρομος, τινῶν ἐστιν ἀκολουθούντων πρόδρομος· καὶ οὐδὲ πάνυ πολὺ τὸ μέσον τοῦ προδρόμου καὶ τῶν ἑπομένων, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ ἰωάννου καὶ χριστοῦ. μὴ τοίνυν ἀσχάλλετε. ὁσονούπω εἰσελευσόμεθα ὅπου ὁ πρόδρομος ἡμῶν) entered Jesus, having become (see on ch. Hebrews 2:17) a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek (the stress is on the words κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ, which on that account are taken out of their order (see ch. Hebrews 5:10) and put first. And this is so, because it is this particular point to which the Writer wishes to return in what follows. He assumes for the present ἀρχ. γεν. εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα as conceded, and takes up the mysterious point which he left at ch. Hebrews 5:10, for elucidation. And thus ends the digression which began there).


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 6:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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