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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Hebrews 1

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

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Verses 1-99



The final disclosure of God’s mind and purpose has been made in his Son, who is far superior to the angels; beware then of taking it casually and carelessly (1:1-2:4)!

The epistle opens with a long sentence (vv. 1-4), the subject being first (vv. 1, 2) God, then (vv. 3, 4) the Son of God; rhetorically and logically the sentence might have ended with ἐν(+ τῷ arm) υἱῷ,) but the author proceeds to elaborate in a series of dependent clauses the pre-eminence of the Son within the order of creation and providence. The main thread on which these clauses about the Son’s relation to God and the world are strung is ὃς … ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης. It is in this (including the purging of men from their sins by His sacrifice) that the final disclosure of God’s mind and purpose is made; ὁ θεὸς ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ … ὃς … ἐκάθισεν κτλ. But the cosmic significance of the Son is first mentioned (v. 2); he is not created but creative, under God. Here as in 2:10 the writer explicitly stresses the vital connexion between redemption and creation; the Son who deals with the sins of men is the Son who is over the universe. This is again the point in the insertion of φέρων τε τὰ πάντα κτλ. before καθαρισμὸν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος. The object of insisting that the Son is also the exact counterpart of God (ὃς ὤν κτλ. 3a), is to bring out the truth that he is not only God’s organ in creation, but essentially divine as a Son. In short, since the object of the divine revelation (λαλεῖν) is fellowship between God and men, it must culminate in One who can deal with sin, as no prophet or succession of prophets could do; the line of revelation ἐν προφήταις has its climax ἐν υἱῷ, in a Son whose redeeming sacrifice was the real and effective manifestation of God’s mind for communion.

As it is necessary to break up this elaborate sentence for the purpose of exposition, I print it not only in Greek but in the stately Vulgate version, in order to exhibit at the very outset the style and spirit of Πρὸς Ἑβραίους.

Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ὲλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκε κληρονόμον πάντων, διʼ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησε τοὺς αἰῶνας· ὄς ὢν�

In πάλαι (as opposed to ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων) θεὸς λαλήσας, λαλεῖν, here as throughout the epistle, is practically an equivalent for λέγειν (see Anz’s Subsidia, pp. 309-310), with a special reference to inspired and oracular utterances of God or of divinely gifted men. This sense is as old as Menander (ὁ νοῦς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λαλήσων θέος, Kock’s Comic. Attic. Fragm. 70). Οἱ πατέρες in contrast to ἡμεῖς means OT believers in general (cp. John 6:58, John 7:22), whereas the more usual NT sense of the term is “the patriarchs” (cp. Diat. 1949-1950, 2553e), i.e. Abraham, etc., though the term (3:9, 8:9) covers the ancients down to Samuel or later (Matthew 23:30). Our fathers or ancestors (Wis 18:6) means the Hebrew worthies of the far past to whom Christians as God’s People, whether they had been born Jews or not (1 Corinthians 10:1 οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν), look back, as the earlier Sirach did in his πατέρων ὕμνος (Sir 44:1-50:33), or the prophet in Zechariah 1:5 (οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν … καὶ οἱ προφῆται). For οι ̔πατέρες = our fathers, cp. Prayer of Manasseh1 (θεὸς τῶν πατέρων) and Wessely`s Studien zur Paläographie und Papyruskunde, i. 64, where boys are reckoned in a list σὺν τοῖς πατράσι. The insertion of ἡμῶν (p12 999. 1836 boh sah Clem. Alex., Chrys. Priscillian) is a correct but superfluous gloss. As for ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, προφῆται is used here in a broader sense than in 11:32; it denotes the entire succession of those who spoke for God to the People of old, both before and after Moses (Acts 3:22, Acts 7:37), who is the supreme prophet, according to Philo (de ebriet. 21, de decalogo 33). Joshua is a prophet (Sir 46:1), so is David (Philo, de agric. 12). In Psalms 105:15 the patriarchs, to whom revelations are made, are both God’s προφῆται and χριστοί. Later on, the term was extended, as in Luke 13:28 (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, καὶ πάντας τοὺς προφήτας, cp. Hebrews 11:32), and still more in Matthew 5:12 (τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν). The reason why there is no contrast between the Son and the prophets is probably because the writer felt there was no danger of rivalry; prophecy had ceased by the time that the Son came; the “prophet” belonged to a bygone order of things, so that there was no need to argue against any misconception of their function in relation to that of the Son (Bar 85:1-3 “in former times our fathers had helpers, righteous men and holy prophets … but now the righteous have been gathered and the prophets have fallen asleep”).

As no further use is made of the contrast between Jesus and the prophets (who are only again mentioned incidentally in 11:32), it was natural that�Exodus 23:22 τοῦ γὰρ λέγοντος ὁ προφήτης ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐστίν) applies ἄγγελος to the prophet. But ἐν here is a synonym for διά (Chrys. ὁρᾷς ὅτι καὶ τὸ ἐν διὰ ἐστίν), as in 1 S 28:6 �

In Test. Daniel 1:1 [acc. to the tenth cent. Paris MS 938]1 and in LXX of Numbers 24:14, Jeremiah 23:20 [B:ἐσχάτων, A Q*], 25:19 (49:39) [B: ἐσχάτων, A Q], 37 (30) 24 [A Q: ἐσχάτων, B], Ezekiel 38:8 (ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου ἐτῶν), Daniel 10:14 [ἐσχάτῳ ? ἐσχάτων], Hosea 3:5 [Q], ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν appears, instead of the more common ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν, as a rendering of the phrase בְּאחֲרִית הַיָּמִים. A similar variety of reading occurs here; Origen, e.g., reads ἐσχάτων without τούτων (on Lamentations 4:20) and ἐσχάτου (fragm. on John 3:31), while ἐσχάτων is read by 044, a few minor cursives, d and the Syriac version. The same idea is expressed in 1 P 1:20 by ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων, but the τοῦτων here is unique. The messianic mission of Jesus falls at the close of these days, or, as the writer says later (9:26), ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων. These days correspond to the present age (ὁ νῦν αἰών); the age (or world) to come (ὁ μέλλων αἰών, 6:5) is to dawn at the second coming of Christ (9:28, 10:37). Meantime, the revelation of God ἐν υἱῷ has been made to the Christian church as God’s People (ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν); the ἡμεῖς does not mean simply the hearers of Jesus on earth, for this would exclude the writer and his readers (2:3), and ἐλάλησεν covers more than the earthly mission of Jesus. There is no special reference in ἐλάλησεν to the teaching of Jesus; the writer is thinking of the revelation of God’s redeeming purpose in Christ as manifested (vv. 3, 4) by the (resurrection and) intercession in heaven which completed the sacrifice on the cross. This is the final revelation, now experienced by Christians.

The saying of Jesus quoted by Epiphanius (Haer. xxiii. 5, xli. 3, lxvi. 42), ὁ λαλῶν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, ἰδοὺ πάρειμι, was an anti-gnostic logion based partly on this passage and partly on Isaiah 52:6 ἐγώ εἰμι αὐτὸς ὁ λαλῶν, πάρειμι. The author of Hebrews is not conscious of any polemic against the OT revelation as inferior to and unworthy of the Christian God. He assumes that it was the same God who spoke in both Testaments: “Sed in hac diversitate unum tamen Deus nobis proponit: nequis putet Legem cum Evangelio pugnare, vel alium esse huius quam illius authorem” (Calvin).

In ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων there is a parallel, perhaps even an allusion, to the Synoptic parable: finally he sent his son (Matthew 21:27), or, as Mark (12:6) and Luke (20:13) explicitly declare, his beloved son, though our author does not work out the sombre thought of the parable. There, the son is the heir (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ κληρονόμος), though not of the universe. Here, the meaning of ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων is the same: he was “appointed” heir, he was heir by God’s appointment. It is the fact of this position, not the time, that the writer has in mind, and we cannot be sure that this “appointment” corresponds to the elevation of v. 3 (ἐκάθισεν). Probably, in our modern phrase, it describes a pre-temporal act, or rather a relationship which belongs to the eternal order. The force of the aorist ἔθηκεν is best rendered by the English perfect, “has appointed”; no definite time is necessarily intended.

“Nam ideo ille haeres, ut nos suis opibus ditet. Quin hoc elogio nunc eum ornat Apostolus ut sciamus nos sine ipso bonorum omnium esse inopes” (Calvin). The reflection of Sedulius Scotus (alii post patrem haeredes sunt, hic autem vivente Patre haeres est) is pious but irrelevant, for κληρονομεῖν in Hellenistic Greek had come to mean, like its equivalent “inherit” in Elizabethan English, no more than “possess” or “obtain”; a κληρονόμος was a “possessor,” with the double nuance of certainty and anticipation. “Haeres” in Latin acquired the same sense; “pro haerede gerere est pro domino gerere, veteres enim ‘haeredes’ pro ‘dominis’ appellabant” (Justinian, Instit. ii.19. 7).

In διʼ οὗ (Griesbach conj. διότι) καὶ ἐποίησε τοὺς αἰῶνας the καί especially1 suggests a correspondence between this and the preceding statement; what the Son was to possess was what he had been instrumental in making. Τοὺς αἰῶνας here, though never in Paul, is equivalent (EBi 1147) to τὰ πάντα in v. 3 (implied in πάντων above), i.e. the universe or world (11:3). The functions assigned by Jewish speculation to media like the Logos at creation are here claimed as the prerogative of the Son. This passing allusion to the function of Christ in relation to the universe probably originated, as in the case of Paul, in the religious conception of redemption. From the redeeming function of Christ which extended to all men, it was natural to infer His agency in relation to creation as part of his pre-existence. The notion is that “the whole course of nature and grace must find its explanation in God, not merely in an abstract divine arbitrium, but in that which befits the divine nature” (W. Robertson Smith), i.e. the thought behind 2:9f. is connected with the thought behind 1:1-3. This may be due to a theological reflection, but the tendency to emphasize the moral rather than the metaphysical aspect, which is noticeable in Πρὸς Ἑβραίους as in the Fourth Gospel, and even in Paul, is consonant with Philo’s tendency to show the function of the Logos and the other intermediate powers as religious rather than cosmical (cp. Bréhier’s Les Idées Philos. et Religieuses de Philon d’Alexandrie, pp. 65 f., 111 f., 152, “il ne s’agit plus chez Philon d’un explication du monde mais du culte divin”; 174 f., “la thése de Philon, qui explique et produit la doctrine des intermédiaires, n’est pas l’impossibilité pour Dieu de produire le monde mais l’impossibiliteé pour l’âme d’atteindre Dieu directement”). Yet Philo had repeatedly claimed for his Logos, that it was the organ of creation (e.g. de sacerdot. 5, λόγος δʼ ἐστὶν εἰκὼν θεοῦ, διʼ οὗ σύμπας ὁ κόσμος ἐδημιουργεῖτο), and this is what is here, as by Paul, claimed for Christ. Only, it is a religious, not a cosmological, instinct that prompts the thought. The early Christian, who believed in the lordship of Christ over the world, felt, as a modern would put it, that the end must be implicit in the beginning, that the aim and principle of the world must be essentially Christian. This is not elaborated in “Hebrews” any more than in the Fourth Gospel (John 1:3); the author elsewhere prefers the simple monotheistic expression (2:10, 11:3). But the idea is consonant with his conception of the Son. “If pre-existence is a legitimate way of expressing the absolute significance of Jesus, then the mediation of creation through Christ is a legitimate way of putting the conviction that in the last resort, and in spite of appearances, the world in which we live is a Christian world, our ally, not our adversary” (Denney in ERE viii. 516 f.).

3 He (ὃς ὤν) reflecting God’s bright glory and stamped with God’s own character, sustains the universe with his word of power; when he had secured our purification from sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 and thus he is superior to (κρείττων) the angels, as he has inherited a Name superior (διαφορώτερον, 8:6) to theirs.

The unique relation of Christ to God is one of the unborrowed truths of Christianity, but it is stated here in borrowed terms. The writer is using metaphors which had been already applied in Alexandrian theology to Wisdom and the Logos. Thus Wisdom is an unalloyed emanation τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης,�

ὑπόστασις= the being or essence of God, which corresponds to his δόξα (= character or nature); it is a philosophical rather than a religious term, in this connexion, but enters the religious world in Wis 16:21 (ἡ μὲν γὰρ ὑπόστασίς σου κτλ.). Its physical sense emerges in the contemporary de Mundo, 4, τῶν ἑν�Psalms 39:5, Psalms 139:15); cp. Schlatter’s Der Glaube im NT3 (1905), pp. 615 f., where the linguistic data are arranged.

χαρακτήρ had already acquired a meaning corresponding to the modern “character” (e.g. in Menander’s proverb,�Genesis 21:2): “hence we learn that he (Isaac) was the splendour of his (father’s) face, as like as possible to him.”

An early explanation of this conception is given by Lactantius (diuin. instit. iv. ), viz. that “the Father is as it were an overflowing fountain, the Son like a stream flowing from it; the Father like the sun, the Son as it were a ray extended from the sun (radius ex sole porrectus). Since he is faithful (cp. Hebrews 3:2) and dear to the most High Father, he is not separated from him, any more than the stream is from the fountain or the ray from the sun; for the water of the fountain is in the stream, and the sun’s light in the ray.” But our author is content to throw out his figurative expressions. How the Son could express the character of God, is a problem which he does not discuss; it is felt by the author of the Fourth Gospel, who suggests the moral and spiritual affinities that lie behind such a function of Jesus Christ, by hinting that the Son on earth taught what he had heard from the Father and lived out the life he had himself experienced and witnessed with the unseen Father. This latter thought is present to the mind of Seneca in Epp. 6:5, 6, where he observes that “Cleanthes could never have exactly reproduced Zeno, if he had simply listened to him; he shared the life of Zeno, he saw into his secret purposes” (vitae eius interfuit, secreta perspexit). The author of Hebrews, like Paul in Colossians 1:15-17, contents himself with asserting the vital community of nature between the Son and God, in virtue of which (φέρων τε) the Son holds his position in the universe.

In the next clause, φέρων1 τε τὰ πάντα is not used in the sense in which Sappho (fragm. 95, πάντα φέρων) speaks of the evening star “bringing all things home,” the sheep to their fold and children to their mother. The phrase means “upholding the universe as it moves,” bearing it and bearing it on. “Thou bearest things on high and things below,” Cain tells God in Bereschith rabba, 23. 2, “but thou dost not bear my sins.” “Deus ille maximus potentissimusque ipse vehit omnia” (Seneca, Epist. 31:10). The idea had been already applied by Philo to the Logos (e.g. de migrat. Abrah. 6, ὁ λόγος … ὁ τῶν ὅλων κυβερνήτης πηδαλιουχεῖ τὰ σύμπαντα: de spec. legibus i., 81, λόγος δʼ ἐστὶν εἰκὼν θεοῦ, διʼ οὗ σύμπας ὁ κόσμος ἐδημιουργεῖτο: de plant. 32, λόγος δὲ ὁ�

With καθαρισμὸν … ὑψηλοῖς the writer at last touches what is for him the central truth about the Son; it is not the teaching of Jesus that interests him, but what Jesus did for sin by his sacrifice and exaltation. From this conception the main argument of the epistle flows. Καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν is a Septuagint expression (e.g. Job 7:21 ποίησω … καθαρισμὸν (עָבַר) τῆς ἁμαρτίας μου), though this application of κ. to sins is much more rare than that either to persons (Leviticus 15:13) or places (1 Chronicles 23:26, 1 Chronicles 23:2 Mac 10:5). In 2 P 1:9 (τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ τῶν πάλαι αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτιῶν) it is filled out with the possessive pronoun, which is supplied here by some (e.g. ἡμῶν Dc K L harkl sah arm Athan Chrys., ὑμῶν אc). Grammatically it = (a) purgation of sins, as καθαρίζω may be used of the “removal” of a disease (Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:4), or = (b) our cleansing from sins (9:14 καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν�Mark 7:36, but τοσούτος … ὅσος is a common Philonic expression. Κρείττων (for which Clement of Rome in 36:2 substitutes the synonymous μείζων) is an indefinite term = “superior.” Unlike Paul, the writer here and elsewhere is fond of using παρά after a comparative.

Κρείττων in this sense occurs in the contemporary (?) Aristotelian treatise de Mundo, 391a (διὰ τὸ�

Did the author take σήμερον here, as perhaps in 3:7f., though not in 13:8, in (a) a mystical sense, or (b) with a reference to some special phase in the history of Christ? (a) tallies with Philo’s usage: σήμερον δʼ ἐστὶν ὁ�Deuteronomy 4:4), ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας, τουτέστιν�Genesis 35:4). (b) might allude either to the baptism or to the resurrection of Christ in primitive Christian usage; the latter would be more congenial to our author, if it were assumed that he had any special incident in mind. But he simply quotes the text for the purpose of bringing out the title of Son as applied to Christ. When we ask what he meant by σήμερον, we are asking a question which was not present to his mind, unless, indeed, “the idea of a bright radiance streaming forth from God’s glory” (v. 8) pointed in the direction of (a), as Robertson Smith thought. But the second line of the verse is merely quoted to fill out the first, which is the pivot of the proof: υἱός μου εἶ συ. Sons of God is not unknown as a title for angels in the Hebrew Old Testament (see EBi 4691). “Sometimes Moses calls the angels sons of God,” Philo observes (Quaest. in Genesis 6:4 —as being bodiless spirits). But the LXX is careful to translate: “sons of Elohim” by ἄγγελοι θεοῦ (e.g. in Genesis 6:2, Genesis 6:4, Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Job 38:7), except in Psalms 29:1 and 89:7, where sons of God are intended by the translator to denote human beings; and no individual angel is ever called υἱός.1 As the author of Πρὸς Ἑβραίους and his readers knew only the Greek Bible, the proof holds good.

The second quotation is from 2 S 7:14:

Ἐγὼ ἔσομαι αὐτῷ εἰς πατέρα,

καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται μοι εἰς υἱόν,

a promise cited more exactly than in 2 Corinthians 6:18 and Revelation 21:7, but with equal indifference to its original setting. Paul and the prophet John apply it to the relationship between God and Christians; our author prefers to treat it as messianic. Indeed he only alludes twice, in OT quotations, to God as the Father of Christians (see Introd. p. xxxv).

The third quotation (v. 6) clinches this proof of Christ’s unique authority and opens up the sense in which he is κρείττων τῶν�

In ὅταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ the term πάλιν, rhetorically transferred, answers to the πάλιν of v. 5; it is not to be taken with εἰσαγάγῃ = “reintroduce,” as if the first “introduction” of the Son had been referred to in v. 2f. A good parallel for this usage occurs in Philo (leg. alleg.iii. 9: ὁ δὲ πάλιν�Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:16), but it is nowhere else used absolutely in the NT, and the writer here ignores any inference that might be drawn from it to an inferior sonship of angels. Its equivalent (cp. the v.ll. in Sir 36:17) πρωτόγονος is applied by Philo to the Logos. Here it means that Christ was Son in a pre-eminent sense; the idea of priority passes into that of superiority. A πρωτότοκος υἱός had a relationship of likeness and nearness to God which was unrivalled. As the context indicates, the term brings out the pre-eminent honour and the unique relationship to God enjoyed by the Son among the heavenly host.

The notion of worship being due only to a senior reappears in the Vita Adae et Evae (14), where the devil declines to worship Adam: “I have no need to worship Adam … I will not worship an inferior being who is my junior. I am his senior in the Creation; before he was made, I was already made; it is his duty to worship me.” In the Ascensio Isaiae (11:23 f.) the angels humbly worship Christ as he ascends through the heavens where they live; here the adoration is claimed for him as he enters ἡ οἰκουμένη.

The line καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ comes from a LXX addition to the Hebrew text of the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:43, calling upon all angels to pay homage to Yahweh. But the LXX text1 actually reads υἱοὶ θεοῦ, not ἄγγελοι θεοῦ (into which F corrects it)! Our author probably changed it into ἄγγελοι θεοῦ, recollecting the similar phrase in Psalms 97:7 (προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ),2 unless, indeed, the change had been already made. The fact that Justin Martyr (Dial. 130) quotes the LXX gloss with ἄγγελοι, is an indication that this may have been the text current among the primitive Christians.

The last four (vv. 7-14) quotations carry on the idea of the Son’s superiority to the angels:

7 While he says of angels (πρός = with reference to),

“Who makes his angels into winds,

his servants into flames of fire,”

8 he says of the Son,

“God is thy throne for ever and ever,

and thy royal sceptre is the sceptre of equity:

9 thou hast loved justice and hated lawlessness,

therefore God, thy God, has consecraled thee

with the oil of rejoicing beyond thy comrades”—

10 and,

“Thou didst found the earth at the beginning, O Lord,

and the heavens are the work of thy hands:

11 they will perish, but thou remainest,

they will all be worn out like a garment,

12 thou wilt roll them up like a mantle, and they will be changed,

but thou art the same,

and thy years never fail.”

In v. 7 the quotation (ὁ ποιῶν τοὺς�Psalms 104:4 (ὁ ποιῶν κτλ., a nominative without a verb, as in 1 Corinthians 3:19) to mean that God can reduce angels to the elemental forces of wind and fire, so unstable is their nature, whereas the person and authority of the Son are above all change and decay. The meaning might also be that God makes angels out of wind and fire;2 but this is less apt. Our author takes the same view as the author of 4 Esdras, who (8:21) writes:

“Before whom the heavenly host stands in terror,

and at thy word change to wind and fire.”

Rabbinic traditions corroborate this interpretation; e.g. “every day ministering angels are created from the fiery stream, and they utter a song and perish” (Chagiga, ed. Streane, p. 76), and the confession of the angel to Manoah in Yalkut Shimeoni, ii. 11. 3: “God changes us every hour … sometimes he makes us fire, at other times wind.”

The interest of rabbinic mysticism in the nature of angels is illustrated by the second century dialogue between Hadrian, that “curiositatum omnium explorator,” and R. Joshua ben Chananja (cp. W. Bacher, Agada der Tannaiten2, i. 171-172). The emperor asks the rabbi what becomes of the angels whom God creates daily to sing His praise; the rabbi answers that they return to the stream of fire which flows eternally from the sweat shed by the Beasts supporting the divine throne or chariot (referring to the vision of Ezekiel and the “fiery stream” of Daniel 7:10). From this stream of fire the angels issue, and to it they return. Λειτουργούς of angels as in Psalms 103:21 (λειτουργοὶ αὐτοῦ, ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ).

The fifth (vv. 8, 9) quotation is from Psalms 45:7, Psalms 45:8—a Hebrew epithalamium for some royal personage or national hero, which our author characteristically regards as messianic.

ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος,

καὶ1 ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου.2

ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας�

The quotation inserts τῆς before εὐθύτητος, follows A in preferring τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος (τοῦ αἰῶνος om. B 33) to αἰῶνα αἰῶνος (B), but prefers4 B’s�2 Corinthians 6:14) to A’s�Revelation 6:2), and rarely cited in primitive Christian literature, although the messianic reference reappears in Irenaeus (iv. 34. 11, quoting v. 2). ὁ θεός (sc. ἐστίν rather than ἔστω) may be (a) nominative (subject or predicate). This interpretation (“God is thy throne,” or, “thy throne is God”), which was probably responsible for the change of σοῦ after βασιλείας into αὐτοῦ (א B), has been advocated, e.g., by Grotius, Ewald (“thy throne is divine”), WH (“founded on God, the immovable Rock”), and Wickham (“represents God”). Tyndale’s rendering is, “God thy seat shall be.” Those who find this interpretation harsh prefer to (b) take ὁ θεός as a vocative, which grammatically is possible ( = ὦ θεέ, cp. 10:7 and Psalms 3:8, 138:17 etc.); “Thy throne, O God (or, O divine One), is for ever and ever.” This (so sah vg, etc.) yields an excellent sense, and may well explain the attractiveness of the text for a writer who wished to bring out the divine significance of Christ; ὁ θεός appealed to him like κύριε in the first line of the next quotation. The sense would be clear if ὁ θεός were omitted altogether, as its Hebrew equivalent ought to be in the original; but the LXX text as it stands was the text before our author, and the problem is to decide which interpretation he followed. (b) involves the direct application of ὁ θεός to the Son, which, in a poetical quotation, is not perhaps improbable (see John 1:18, John 20:28); in v. 9 it may involve the repetition of ὁ θεός (om. by Irenaeus, Apost. Preaching, 47—accidentally?) as vocative, and does involve the rendering of ὁ θεός σου as the God of the God already mentioned. The point of the citation lies in its opening and closing words: (i) the Son has a royal and lasting authority (as ὁ θεός?), in contrast to the angels, and (ii) he is anointed (ἔχρισε1 = ὁ Χρίστος) more highly than his companions—an Oriental metaphor referring here, as in Isaiah 61:3 etc., not to coronation but to bliss. If the writer of Hebrews has anything specially in mind, it is angels (12:23) rather than human beings (3:14) as μέτοχοι of the royal Prince, whose superior and supreme position is one of intense joy, based on a moral activity (as in 12:2, where the passive side of the moral effort is emphasized).

The sixth (vv. 10-12) quotation is from Psalms 102:26-28 which in A runs thus:


The author, for purposes of emphasis (as in 2:13), has thrown σύ to the beginning of the sentence, and in the last line he has reverted to the more natural σύ (B). In the text of the epistle there are only two uncertain readings, for the proposed change of διαμένεις into the future διαμενεῖς (vg. permanebis) does not really affect the sense, and D*’s ὡς for ὡσεί is a merely stylistic alteration. In 12a two small points of textual uncertainty emerge. (a) ἑλίξεις (A B Dc K L P M fu Syr arm sah boh eth Orig. Chrys.) has been altered into�Isaiah 34:4, but is more likely to have been altered into�

The psalm is taken as a messianic oracle (see Bacon in Zeitschrift für die neutest. Wissenschaft, 1902, 280-285), which the Greek version implied, or at any rate suggested; it contained welcome indications of the Son in his creative function and also of his destined triumph. The poetical suggestion of the sky as a mantle of the deity occurs in Philo, who writes (de fuga, 20) that the Logos ἐνδύεται ὡς ἐσθῆτα τὸν κόσμον· γῆν γὰρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ�

The final biblical proof (v. 13) is taken from Psalms 110:1, a psalm in which later on the writer is to find rich messianic suggestion. The quotation clinches the argument for the superiority of the Son by recalling (v. 8) his unique divine commission and authority:

13 To what angel did he ever say,

“Sit at my right hand,

till I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” ?

14 Are not all angels merely spirits in the divine service, commissioned for

the benefit of those who are to inherit salvation?

The Greek couplet—

κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου,

ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου,

corresponds exactly to the LXX; D* omits ἄν as in Acts 2:35. The martial metaphor is (cp. Introd. pp. xxxiii f.) one of the primitive Christian expressions which survive in the writer’s vocabulary (cp. 10:12).

The subordinate position of angels is now (v. 14) summed up; πάντες—all without distinction—are simply λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα (without any power of ruling) εἰς διακονίαν�Exodus 14:13, the Israelites, when crossing the Red Sea, were shown “squadrons upon squadrons of ministering angels” (תּוּרְמִיוֹת תּוּרְמִיוֹת שֶׁל מַלְאֲבֵי הַשָׁרֵת); cp. Heb. of Sir 43:26a, and Dieterich’s Mithrasliturgie, p. 6, line 14, ἡ�Leviticus 3:5, that in (the sixth?) heaven the angels of the Presence (οἱ λειτουργοῦντες καὶ ἐξιλασκόμενοι πρὸς κύριον ἐπὶ πάσαις ταῖς�

In διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν (κλ. σωτ. only here in NT), it is remarkable that σωτηρία is mentioned for the first time without any adjective or explanation. Evidently it had already acquired a specific Christian meaning for the readers as well as for the writer; no definition was required to differentiate the Christian significance of the term from the current usage. As σωτηρία involves the sacrificial work of Christ (who is never called σωτήρ), it cannot be applied to the pre-Christian period of revelation. Indeed in our epistle σωτηρία is invariably eschatological. The outlook in the messianic oracles already quoted is one of expectation; some future deliverance at the hands of God or his messianic representative is anticipated. Μέλλοντας implies a divine purpose, as in 8:5, 11:8.The phrase about τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν marks a skilful transition to the deeper theme of the next passage, viz. the relation of the Son to this σωτηρία (on 2:1-9 cp. W. Robertson Smith in Expositor2, i. pp. 138 f.).

e (Latin version of E)

1836 [α 65]

boh The Coptic Version of the NT in the Northern Dialect (Oxford, 1905), vol. iii. pp. 472-555.

sah The Coptic Version of the NT in the Southern Dialect (Oxford, 1920), vol. v. pp. 1-131.

Philo Philonis Alexandriai Opera Quae Supersunt (recognoverunt L. Cohn et P. Wendland).

1 The Armenian reading τούτων after ἡμερῶν, instead of αὐτοῦ, is incorrect, and may even be a reminiscence of Hebrews 1:1.

LXX The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint Version (ed. H. B. Swete).

B [03: δ 1] cont. 1:1-9:18: for remainder cp. cursive 293.

A [02: δ 4].

1 An emphasis blurred by the τοὺς αίῶνας ἐποίησεν of Db K L P harkl Chrys. Theod. (Blass, von Sod.).

EBi The Encyclopaedia Biblica (1899-1903, ed. J. S. Black and T. K. Cheyne).

ERE Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ed. J. Hastings).

OGIS Dittenberger’s Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (1903-1905).

1 φανερῶν is, like�

1 It is only Theodotion who ventures in Daniel 3:25 (92) to retain the literal son, since from his christological point of view it could not be misunderstood in this connexion.

2 Cp. M. Aurelius, v. 1, ποιεῖν ὧν ἕνεκεν γέγονα καὶ ὧν χάριν προῆγμαι εἰς τὸν κόσμον.

90 [δ 652]

Mitteis-Wilcken Grundzüge u. Chrestomathie der Papyruskunde (1912).

1 As the song appears in A, at the close of the psalter, the reading is ἄγγελοι (υἱοί, R).

2 Which acquired a messianic application (see Diat 3134).

1 Aquila has πῦρ λάβρον, Symm. πυρίνην φλόγα.

1 [δ 254]

326 [α 257]

1912 [α 1066]

1245 [α 158]

2005 [α 1436] cont. 1:1-7:2

d (Latin version of D)

2 As in Apoc. Bar. 21:6 (“the holy creatures which thou didst make from the beginning out of flame and fire”) and 48:8 (“Thou givest commandment to the flames and they change into spirits”).

1 The addition of this καί is not to mark a fresh quotation (as in v. 10), but simply to introduce the parallel line (as in v. 10 καὶ ἔργα κτλ.).

2 Cp. Psalms 110:2 ῥάβδον δυνάμεως σου (om. א) ἐξαποστελεῖ κύριος.

3 For παρά with accus. in this sense, cp. above, v. 4, and Isaiah 53:8 ἄτιμον καὶ ἐκλιπὸν παρὰ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῶν�

33 [δ 48] Hort’s 17


2 A classical and Philonic equivalent for ἐν�Psalms 119:152).

3 This title, which attracted our author, is an addition of the LXX.

4 Including ἡ γῆ, but with special reference to οἱ οὐρανοί.

327 [O 36]

919 [α 113]

vt vt Old Latin, saec. ii. (?)-iv.

Ath Athanasius

1 A pre-Christian Upanishad (Sacred Books of East, xv. 266) cries: “Only when men shall roll up the sky like a hide, will there be an end of misery, unless God has first been known.”

2 παλαιοῦσθαι is a common word with ἱμάτιον, and the wearing-out of clothes is a favourite metaphor for men (Isaiah 50:9, Sir 14:17) as well as for nature (Isaiah 51:6). Περιβολαῖον is any covering for the body; not simply a veil (1 Corinthians 11:15), but a generic term (cp. Psalms 104:6 ἄβυσσος ὡς ἱμάτιον τὸ περιβόλαιον αὐτοῦ).

3 B reads διακονίας, as in 8:9 ἡμέραις for ἡμέρᾳ.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/hebrews-1.html. 1896-1924.
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