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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 2

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Verses 1-99

But the transition is worked out in a practical warning (2:1-4) to the readers, which not only explains the underlying interest of the preceding biblical proofs, but leads up effectively to the next aspect of truth which he has in mind:

1 We must therefore (διὰ τοῦτο, in view of this pre-eminent authority of the Son) pay closer attention to what we have heard, in case we drift away. 2 For if the divine word spoken by angels held good (ἐγένετο βέβαιος, proved valid), if transgression and disobedience met with due (ἔνδικον= adequate, not arbitrary) punishment in every case,3 how shall we (ἡμεῖς, emphatic) escape the penalty1 for neglecting �Matthew 22:5) a salvation which (ἥτις, inasmuch as it) was originally proclaimed by the Lord himself (not by mere angels) and guaranteed to us by those who heard him, 4 while God corroborated their testimony with signs and wonders and a variety of miraculous powers, distributing the holy Spirit as it pleased him (αὐτοῦ emphatic as in Romans 3:25).

Apart from the accidental omission of v. 1 by M 1739, Origen, and of τε (M P) in v. 4, with the variant παραρρυῶμεν (Bc Dc) for παραρυῶμεν,2 the only textual item of any moment, and it is a minor one, is the substitution of ὑπό for διά in v. 3 by some cursives (69, 623, 1066, 1845), due either to the following ὑπό, or to the dogmatic desire of emphasizing the initiative of ὁ κύριος. But διά here as in διʼ�

As elsewhere in Hellenistic Greek (e.g. Jos. Apion. i. 1, ἐπεὶ δὲ συχνοὺς ὁρῶ ταῖς ὑπὸ δυσμενείας ὑπὸ τινων εἰρημέναις προσέχοντας βλασφημίαις καὶ τοῖς περὶ τὴν Ἀρχαιολογίαν ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ γεγραμμένοις�Acts 8:6 and 16:14 (προσέχειν τοῖς λαλουμένοις ὑπὸ Παύλου) where it is the attention of one who hears the gospel for the first time; here it is attention to a familiar message. Περισσοτέρως is almost in its elative sense of “with extreme care”; “all the more” would bring out its force here as in 13:19. Certainly there is no idea of demanding a closer attention to the gospel than to the Law. Ἡμᾶς = we Christians (ἡμῖν, 1:1), you and I, as in v. 3. The τὰ�Proverbs 3:21 υἱέ, μὴ παραρυῇς, τήρησον δὲ ἐμὴν βουλὴν καὶ ἔννοιαν (see Clem. Paed. III. xi. 58, διὸ καὶ συστέλλειν χρὴ τὰς γυναῖκας κοσμίως καὶ περισφίγγειν αἰδοῖ σώφρονι, μὴ παραρρυῶσι τῆς�

The verb may have lost its figurative meaning, and may have been simply an equivalent for “going wrong,” like “labi” in Latin (cp. Cicero, De Officiis, i. 6, “labi autem, errare … malum et turpe ducimus”). Anyhow προσέχειν must not be taken in a nautical sense ( = moor), in order to round off the “drift away” of παραρέω, a term which carries a sombre significance here ( = παραπίπτειν, 6:8); μήποτε παραρυῶμεν, τουτέστι μὴ�

Λόγος is used, not νόμος, in keeping with the emphasis upon the divine λαλεῖν in the context, and, instead of νόμος Μωσέως (10:28), ὁ διʼ�Galatians 3:19 and Acts 7:38, Acts 7:53 (ἐλάβετε τὸν νόμον εἰς διαταγὰς�Deuteronomy 33:2 into a definite proof of angelic co-operation (ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ ἄγγελοι μετʼ αὐτοῦ) and brought this out in Psalms 68:18. Rabbinic tradition elaborated the idea. The writer, however, would not have claimed, like Philo (de vita Mosis, 2:3), that the Mosaic legislation was βέβαια,�

Παράβασις καὶ παρακοή form one idea (see on 1:1); as παρακοή (which is not a LXX term) denotes a disregard of orders or of appeals (cp. Clem. Hom. x. 13, εἰ ἐπὶ παρακοῇ λόγων κρίσις γίνεται, and the use of the verb in Matthew 18:17 ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν κτλ., or in LXX of Isaiah 65:12 ἐλάλησε καὶ παρηκούσατε), it represents the negative aspect, παράβασις the positive. Μισθαποδοσία is a sonorous synonym (rare in this sombre sense of κόλασις) for μισθός or for the classical μισθοδοσία. Some of the facts which the writer has in mind are mentioned in 3:17 and 10:28. The Law proved no dead letter in the history of God’s people; it enforced pains and penalties for disobedience.

In v. 3�Exodus 12:2 (ὅταν οἱ τῶν σπαρτῶν καρποὶ τελειωθῶσιν, οἱ τῶν δένδρων γενέσεως�Luke 1:1-4 (cp. the shorter conclusion to Mark’s gospel: μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Ἰησοῦς … ἐξαπέστειλεν διʼ αὐτῶν τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ ἄφθαρτον κήρυγμα τῆς αἰωνίου σωτηρίας). If the Sinaitic Law ἐγένετο βέβαιος, the Christian revelation was also confirmed or guaranteed to us—εἰς ἡμᾶς (1 P 1:25 τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς: Acts 2:22 Ἰησοῦν … ἄνδρα�Romans 8:16). “Coniunctio σύν … hunc habet sensum, nos in fide euangelii confirmari symphonia quadam Dei et hominum” (Calvin).

σημ., τερ., δυν. in the reverse order describe the miracles of Jesus in Acts 2:22; here they denote the miracles of the primitive evangelists as in 2 Corinthians 12:12. Philo, speaking of the wonderful feats of Moses before the Pharaoh, declares that signs and wonders are a plainer proof of what God commands than any verbal injunction (ἅτε δὴ τοῦ θεοῦ τρανοτέραις χρησμῶν�

As “God” (θεοῦ) is the subject of the clause, αὐτοῦ (for which D actually reads θεοῦ) refers to him, and πνεύματος ἁγίου is the genitive of the object after μερισμοῖς (cp. 6:4). What is distributed is the Spirit, in a variety of endowments. To take αὐτοῦ with πνεύματος and make the latter the genitive of the subject, would tally with Paul’s description of the Spirit διαιροῦν ἰδίᾳ ἐκάστῳ καθὼ βούλεται (1 Corinthians 12:11), but would fail to explain what was distributed and would naturally require τῷ μερισμῷ. A fair parallel lies in Galatians 3:5 ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν, where δυνάμεις also means “miraculous powers” or “mighty deeds” (a Hellenistic sense, differing from that of the LXX = “forces”). In κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν, as perhaps even in 7:18 (cp. Blass, 284, 3; Abbott’s Johannine Grammar, 2558), the possessive αὐτός is emphatic. θέλησιν is read by אca R for δέησιν in Psalms 21:3 (cp. Ezekiel 28:23 μὴ θελήσει θελήσω). It is not merely a vulgarism for θέλημα. “Θέλημα n’est pas θέλησις, volonté; θέλημα désigne le vouloir concentré sur un moment, sur un acte, l’ordre, le commandment” (Psichari, Essai sur le grec de la Septante, 1908, p. 171 n.). The writer is fond of such forms (e.g.�

The vital significance of the Son as the�

Οὐ γὰρ�1 Corinthians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 6:3).

Philo (de opificio, 29, οὐ παρʼ ὅσον ὕστατον γέγονεν ἂνθρωπος, διὰ τὴν τάξιν ἠλάττωται) argues that man is not inferior in position because he was created last in order; but this refers to man in relation to other creatures, not in relation to angels, as here.

The quotation (vv. 6-8a) from the 8th psalm runs:

τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος ὅτι μιμνήσκῃ1 αὐτοῦ,

ἢ υἱὸς�

The LXX tr. אלהים not incorrectly by�John 12:34) suited the reference to Christ better (Bleek, Zimmer). (b) The quotation omits καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου before πάντα: it is inserted by א A C* M P syr lat boh arm eth Euth. Theodt. Sedul. to complete the quotation. It is the one line in the sentence on which the writer does not comment; probably he left it out as incompatible with 1:10 (ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σού εἰσιν οἱ οὐρανοί), although he frequently quotes more of an OT passage than is absolutely required for his particular purpose.

In διεμαρτύρατο δέ πού τις (v. 6), even if the δέ is adversative, it need not be expressed in English idiom. διαμαρτυρεῖσθαι in Greek inscriptions “means primarily to address an assembly or a king” (Hicks, in Classical Review, i. 45). Here, the only place where it introduces an OT quotation, it = attest or affirm. Πού τις in such a formula is a literary mannerism familiar in Philo (De Ebriet. 14: εἶπε γάρ πού τις), and που later on (4:4) recurs in a similar formula, as often in Philo. The τις implies no modification of the Alexandrian theory of inspiration; his words are God’s words (v. 8). The psalm intends no contrast between ἠλάττωσας κτλ. and δόξῇ … ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν. The proof that this wonderful being has been created in a position only slightly inferior to that of the divine host lies in the fact that he is crowned king of nature, invested with a divine authority over creation. The psalm is a panegyric on man, like Hamlet’s (“What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel!” etc.), but with a religious note of wonder and gratitude to God. In applying the psalm, however, our writer takes βραχύ τι in the sense of “temporarily” rather than “slightly,” and so has to make the “inferiority” and “exaltation” two successive phases, in applying the description to the career of Jesus. He does not take this verse as part of a messianic ode; neither here nor elsewhere does he use the term “Son of Man.” He points out, first of all (v. 8) that, as things are (νῦν δὲ οὔπω: οὔ πω = οὔ πως might be read, i.e. “in no wise,” and νῦν taken logically instead of temporally; but this is less natural and pointed), the last words are still unfulfilled; οὔπω ὅρωμεν αὐτῷ (i.e. man) τὰ “πάντα” i.e. ἡ οἰκουμένη ἡ μέλλουσα) ὑποτεταγμένα. Human nature is not “crowned with glory and honour” at present. How can it be, when the terror of death and the devil (v. 15) enslaves it? What is to be said, then? This, that although we do not see man triumphant, there is something that we do see: βλέπομεν Ἰησοῦν dealing triumphantly with death on man’s behalf (v. 9). The Ἰησοῦν comes in with emphasis, as in 3:1 and 12:2, at the end of a preliminary definition τὸν … ἠλαττωμένον.

It is less natural to take the messianic interpretation which involves the reference of αὐτῷ already to him. On this view, the writer frankly allows that the closing part of the prophecy is still unfulfilled. “We do not yet see τὰ πάντα under the sway of Jesus Christ, for the world to come has not yet come; it has only been inaugurated by the sacrifice of Christ (1:3 καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς). Though the Son is crowned (1:8, 9) and enthroned (1:13 κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου), his foes are still to be subdued (ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου), and we must be content to wait for our full σωτηρία (9:28) at his second coming; under the οὔπω ὁρῶμεν κτλ. of experience there is a deeper experience of faith.” The writer rather turns back in v. 9 to the language of v. 7; this at least has been fulfilled. Jesus has been put lower than the angels and he has been crowned. How and why? The writer answers the second question first. Or rather, in answering the second he suggests the answer to the first. At this point, and not till then, the messianic interpretation becomes quite natural and indeed inevitable. It is the earlier introduction of it which is unlikely. The application to the messiah of words like those quoted in v. 6 is forced, and “Hebrews” has no room for the notion of Christ as the ideal or representative Man, as is implied in the messianic interpretation of αὐτῷ in v. 8. That interpretation yields a true idea—the thought expressed, e.g., in T. E. Brown’s poem, “Sad! Sad!”—

“One thing appears to me—

The work is not complete;

One world I know, and see

It is not at His feet—

Not, not! Is this the sum?”

No, our author hastens to add, it is not the sum; our outlook is not one of mere pathos; we do see Jesus enthroned, with the full prospect of ultimate triumph. But the idea of the issues of Christ’s triumph being still incomplete is not true here. What is relevant, and what is alone relevant, is the decisive character of his sacrifice. The argument of v. 8, 9, therefore, is that, however inapplicable to man the rhapsody of the psalm is, at present, the words of the psalm are true, notwithstanding. For we see the Jesus who was “put lower than the angels for a little while” to suffer death (διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου must refer to the death of Jesus himself,1 not to the general experience of death as the occasion for his incarnation), now “crowned with glory and honour.” When διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου is connected with what follows (δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον), it gives the reason for the exaltation, not the object of the incarnation ( = εἰς τὸ πάσχειν). But διά … θανάτου is elucidated in a moment by ὅπως … θανάτου. V. 9 answers the question why Jesus was lowered and exalted—it was for the sake of mankind. In v. 10 the writer proceeds to explain how he was “lowered”—it was by suffering that culminated in death. Then he recurs naturally to the “why.” The mixture of quotation and comment in v. 9 leaves the meaning open to some dubiety, although the drift is plain. “But one Being referred to in the psalm (τὸν … ἠλαττωμένον) we do see—it is Jesus, and Jesus as ἠλαττωμένον for the purpose of suffering death, and δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον. Why did he die? Why was he thus humiliated and honoured ? For the sake of every man; his death was ὑπὲρ παντός, part of the divine purpose of redemption.” Thus ὅπως … θανάτου explains and expounds the idea of διὰ τὸ πάθημα (which consists in) τοῦ θανάτου, gathering up the full object and purpose of the experience which has just been predicated of Jesus. This implies a pause after ἐστεφανωμένον, or, as Bleek suggests, the supplying of an idea like ὃ ἔπαθεν before ὅπως κτλ., if γεύσηται is to be taken, as it must be, as = “he might taste.” How a ὅπως clause follows and elucidates διά κτλ. may be seen in Ep. Arist. 106 (διὰ τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἁγνείαις ὄντας, ὅπως μηδενὸς θιγγάνωσιν).

As for v. 8a, Paul makes a similar comment (1 Corinthians 15:27), but excludes God from the τὰ πάντα. The curiously explicit language here is intended to reiterate what is possibly hinted at in v. 5, viz., that the next world has no room for the angelic control which characterizes the present. (The τὰ πάντα includes even angels!) This belief was familiar to readers of the Greek bible, where Deuteronomy 32:8 voices a conception of guardian-angels over the non-Jewish nations which became current in some circles of the later Judaism. Non-Jewish Christians, like the readers of our epistle, would be likely to appreciate the point of an argument which dealt with this. Note that�Genesis 1:26 in de opificio Mundi (28), that God put man over all things with the exception of the heavenly beings—ὅσα γὰρ θνητὰ ἐν τοῖς τρισὶ στοιχείοις γῇ ὑδάτι�

The closing clause of v. 9 (ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου), therefore, resumes and completes the idea of διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου. Each follows a phrase from the psalm; but ὅπως … θανάτου does not follow ἐστεφανωμένον logically. The only possible method of thus taking ὅπως κτλ. would be by applying δοξῇ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον to Christ’s life prior to death, either (a) to his pre-incarnate existence, when “in the counsels of heaven” he was, as it were, “crowned for death” (so Rendall, who makes γεύσασθαι θανάτου cover the “inward dying” of daily self-denial and suffering which led up to Calvary), or (b) to his incarnate life (so, e.g., Hofmann, Milligan, Bruce), as if his readiness to sacrifice himself already threw a halo round him, or (c) specifically to God’s recognition and approval of him at the baptism and transfiguration (Dods). But the use of δόξα in v. 10 tells against such theories; it is from another angle altogether that Jesus is said in 2 P 1:17 to have received τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν from God at the transfiguration. The most natural interpretation, therefore, is to regard δόξῃ … ἐστεφανωμένον as almost parenthetical, rounding off the quotation from the psalm. It is unnecessary to fall back on such suggestions as (i) to assume a break in the text after ἐστεφανωμένον, some words lost which led up to ὅπως … θανάτου (Windisch), or (ii) to translate ὅπως by “how,” as in Luke 24:20, i.e. “we see how Jesus tasted death” (so Blass, boldly reading ἐγεύσατο), or by “after that” or “when” (Moses Stuart), as in Soph. Oed. Col. 1638 (where, however, it takes the indicative as usual), etc.

In ὑπὲρ παντός, παντός was at an early stage taken as neuter, practically =the universe. This was a popular idea in Egyptian Christianity. “You know,” says the risen Christ to his disciples, in a Bohairic narrative of the death of Joseph (Texts and Studies, iv. 2. 130), “that many times now I have told you that I must needs be crucified and taste death for the universe.” The interpretation occurs first in Origen, who (in Joan. i. 35) writes: “He is a ‘great highpriest’ [referring to Hebrews 4:15], having offered himself up in sacrifice once (ἅπαξ) not for human beings alone, but for the rest of rational creatures as well �

Γεύσηται after ὑπὲρ παντός has also been misinterpreted. Γεύειν in LXX, as a rendering of מָעַם, takes either genitive (1 S 14:24, cp. 2 Mac 6:20) or accusative (1 S 14:29, Job 34:3), but γεύεσθαι θανάτου never occurs; it is the counterpart of the rabbinic phrase טעם מיתה, and elsewhere in the NT (Mark 9:1 = Matthew 16:28 = Luke 9:27, John 8:50) is used not of Jesus but of men. It means to experience ( = ἰδεῖν θάνατον, 11:5). Here it is a bitter experience, not a rapid sip, as if Jesus simply “tasted” death (Chrysostom, Theophyl., Oecumenius: οὐ γὰρ ἐνέμεινεν τῷ θανάτω�

The hardest knot of the hard passage lies in χάριτι θεοῦ. In the second century two forms of the text were current, χωρις θεογ and χαριτι θεογ. This is plain from Origen’s comment (see above); he himself is unwilling to rule out the latter reading, but prefers the former, which he apparently found to be the ordinary text. Theodoret assumed it to be original, as Ambrose did in the West. Jerome knew both (on Galatians 3:10), and the eighth century Anastasius Abbas read χωρίς (“absque deo: sola enim divina natura non egebat”), i.e., in the sense already suggested by Fulgentius and Vigilius, that Christ’s divine nature did not die. On the other hand, writers like Eusebius, Athanasius, and Chrysostom never mention any other reading than χάριτι. Of all the supporters of χωρίς, the most emphatic is Theodore of Mopsuestia, who protests that it is most absurd (γελοιότατον) to substitute χάριτι θεοῦ, for χωρὶς θεοῦ, arguing from passages like 1 Corinthians 15:10 and Ephesians 2:8, Ephesians 2:9 that Paul’s custom is not to use the former phrase ἁπλῶς,�Mark 15:34 (B. Weiss, Zimmer), though this would rather be put as ἄτερ θεοῦ. (ii) “Apart from his divinity” (see above), i.e. when Christ died, his divine nature survived. But this would require a term like τῆς θεότητος. (iii) Taken with παντός, “die for everyone (everything?) except God” (Origen’s view, adopted recently by moderns like Ewald and Ebrard). Of these (i) and (iii) are alone tenable. Even if (iii) be rejected, it furnishes a clue to the problem of the origin of the reading. Thus Bengel and others modify it by taking ὑπὲρ παντός = to master everything, χωρὶς θεοῦ being added to explain that “everything” does not include God. It is possible, of course, that in the Latin rendering (ut gratia Dei pro omnibus gustaret mortem) gratia is an original nominative, not an ablative, and represents χάρις (Christ = the Grace of God),1 which came to be altered into χωρίς and χάριτι. But, if χωρὶς θεοῦ is regarded as secondary, its origin probably lies in the dogmatic scruple of some primitive scribe who wrote the words on the margin as a gloss upon παντός, or even on the margin of v. 8 opposite οὐδὲν�

The writer now explains (vv. 10-18) why Jesus had to suffer and to die. Only thus could he save his brother men who lay (whether by nature or as a punishment, we are not told) under the tyranny of death. To die for everyone meant that Jesus had to enter human life and identify himself with men; suffering is the badge and lot of the race, and a Saviour must be a sufferer, if he is to carry out God’s saving purpose. The sufferings of Jesus were neither an arbitrary nor a degrading experience, but natural, in view of what he was to God and men alike. For the first time, the conception of suffering occurs, and the situation which gave rise to the author’s handling of the subject arose out of what he felt to be his readers’ attitude. “We are suffering hardships on account of our religion.” But so did Jesus, the writer replies. “Well, but was it necessary for him any more than for us? And if so, how does that consideration help us in our plight?” To this there is a twofold answer. (a) Suffering made Jesus a real Saviour; it enabled him to offer his perfect sacrifice, on which fellowship with God depends. (b) He suffered not only for you but like you, undergoing the same temptations to faith and loyalty as you have to meet. The threefold inference is: (i) do not give way, but realize all you have in his sacrifice, and what a perfect help and sympathy you can enjoy. (ii) Remember, this is a warning as well as an encouragement; it will be a fearful thing to disparage a religious tie of such privilege. (iii) Also, let his example nerve you.

10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was befitting that He for whom and by whom the universe exists, should perfect the Pioneer of their salvation by suffering (διὰ παθημάτων, echoing διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτον). 11For sanctifier and sanctified have all one origin (ἐξ ἕνος, sc. γενοῦς: neuter as Acts 17:26). That is why he (ὁ ἁγιάζων) is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will proclaim thy name to my brothers,

in the midst of the church I will sing of thee”;

13 and again,

“I will put my trust in him”;

and again,

“Here am I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since the children then (οὖν, resuming the thought of v. 11a) share blood and flesh,1 he himself participated in their nature,2 so that by dying he might crush him who wields the power of death (that is to say, the devil), 15 and release from thraldom those who lay under a life-long fear of death. 16 (For of course it is not angels that “he succours,” it is “the offspring of Abraham”). 17 He had to resemble his brothers in every respect, in order to prove a merciful and faithful high priest in things divine, to expiate the sins of the People. 18 It is as he suffered by his temptations that he is able to help the tempted.

It is remarkable (cp. Introd. p. xvi) that the writer does not connect the sufferings of Jesus with OT prophecy, either generally (as, e.g., Luke 24:26 οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδεὶ1 παθεῖν τὸν Χριστόν κτλ.), or with a specific reference to Isa_53. He explains them on the ground of moral congruity. Here they are viewed from God’s standpoint, as in 12:2 from that of Jesus himself. God’s purpose of grace made it befitting and indeed inevitable that Jesus should suffer and die in fulfilling his function as a Saviour (v. 10); then (vv. 11f.) it is shown how he made common cause with those whom he was to rescue.

Ἔπρεπεν γάρ κτλ. (v. 10). Πρέπειν or πρέπον, in the sense of “seemly,” is not applied to God in the LXX, but is not uncommon in later Greek, e.g. Lucian’s Prometheus, 8 (οὔτε θεοῖς πρέπον οὔτε ἄλλως βασιλικόν), and the de Mundo, 397b, 398a (ὃ καὶ πρέπον ἐστὶ καὶ θεῷ μάλιστα ἁρμόζον—of a theory about the universe, however). The writer was familiar with it in Philo, who has several things to say about what it behoved God to do,2 though never this thing; Philo has the phrase, not the idea. According to Aristotle (Nic. Ethics, iv. 2. 2, τὸ πρέπον δὴ πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ ὅ), what is “befitting” relates to the person himself, to the particular occasion, and to the object. Here, we might say, the idea is that it would not have done for God to save men by a method which stopped short of suffering and actual death. “Quand il est question des actes de Dieu, ce qui est convenable est toujours nécessaire au point de vue métaphysique” (Reuss). In the description of God (for αὐτῷ cannot be applied to Jesus in any natural sense) διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα, the writer differs sharply from Philo. The Alexandrian Jew objects to Eve (Genesis 4:1) and Joseph (Genesis 40:18) using the phrase διὰ τοῦ θεοῦ (Cherubim, 35), on the ground that it makes God merely instrumental; whereas, ὁ θεὸς αἴτιον, οὐκ ὄργανον. On the contrary, we call God the creative cause (αἴτιον) of the universe, ὄργανον δὲ λόγον θεοῦ διʼ οὗ κατεσκευάσθη. He then quotes Exodus 14:13 to prove, by the use of παρά, that οὐ διὰ3 τοῦ θεοῦ�Romans 11:36) he can say διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα of God, adding, for the sake of paronomasia, διʼ ὅν to cover what Paul meant by ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτόν. Or rather, starting with διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα he prefers another διά with a genitive, for the sake of assonance, to the more usual equivalent ἐξ οὗ or ὑφʼ οὗ. To preserve the assonance, Zimmer proposes to render: “um dessentwillen das All, und durch dessen Willen das All.”

The ultimate origin of the phrase probably lies in the mystery-cults; Aristides (Εἰς τὸν Σάραπιν, 51: ed. Dindorf, i. p. 87), in an invocation of Serapis, writes to this effect, πάντα γὰρ πανταχοῦ διὰ σοῦ τε καὶ διὰ σε ἡμῖν γίγνεται. But Greek thought in Stoicism had long ago played upon the use of διά in this connexion Possibly διά with the accusative was the primitive and regular expression, as Norden contends.1 We call Zeus “Ζῆνα καὶ Δία” ὡς ἄν εἰ λέγοιμεν διʼ ὃν ζῶμεν, says the author of de Mundo (401a), like the older Stoics (see Arnim’s Stoicorum veterum Fragmenta, ii. pp. 305, 312), and διά with the accusative might have the same causal sense here,2 i.e. “through,” in which case the two phrases διʼ ὅν and διʼ οὗ would practically be a poetical reduplication of the same idea, or at least = “by whom and through whom.” But the dominant, though not exclusive, idea of διʼ ὅν here is final, “for whom”; the end of the universe, of all history and creation, lies with Him by whom it came into being and exists; He who redeems is He who has all creation at His command and under His control.

The point in adding διʼ ὅν … τὰ πάντα to αὐτῷ is that the sufferings and death of Jesus are not accidental; they form part of the eternal world-purpose of God. Philo had explained that Moses was called up to Mount Sinai on the seventh day, because God wished to make the choice of Israel parallel to the creation of the world (Quaest. in Exodus 24:16 βουλόμενος ἐπιδεῖξαι ὅτι αὐτὸς καὶ τὸν κόσμον ἐδημιούργησε καὶ τὸ γένος εἵλετο. Ἡ δὲ�

In πολλοὺς υἱούς the πολλοί is in antithesis to the one and only�Romans 8:29, Mark 14:24. For the first time the writer calls Christians God’s sons. His confidence towards the Father is in sharp contrast to Philo’s touch of hesitation in De Confus. Ling. 28 (κἂν μηδέπω μέντοι τυγχάνῃ τις�Acts 11:12, Acts 15:22, Acts 22:17, Acts 25:27). The accusative and infinitive construction prompted�

The mistaken idea that�

The general idea in�Acts 5:31

The verb had already acquired a tragic significance in connexion with martyrdom; in 4 Mac 7:15 (ὃν πιστὴ θανάτου σφραγὶς ἐτελείωσεν) it is used of Eleazar’s heroic death, and this reappeared in the Christian vocabulary, as, e.g., in the title of the Passio S. Perpetuae (μαρτύριον τῆς ἁγίας Περπετούας καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῇ τελειωθέντων ἐν Ἀφρικῇ). But, although Philo had popularized the idea of τελευτᾶν = τελεῖσθαι, this is not present to our writer’s mind; he is thinking of God’s purpose to realize a complete experience of forgiveness and fellowship (σωτηρία) through the Son, and this includes and involves (as we shall see) a process of moral development for the Son.

The writer now (v. 11) works out the idea suggested by πολλοὺς υἱούς. Since Jesus and Christians have the same spiritual origin, since they too in their own way are “sons” of God, he is proud to call them brothers and to share their lot (vv. 11-13). The leader and his company are a unit, members of the one family of God. It is implied, though the writer does not explain the matter further, that Christ’s common tie with mankind goes back to the pre-incarnate period; there was a close bond between them, even before he was born into the world; indeed the incarnation was the consequence of this solidarity or vital tie (ἐξ ἑνός, cp. Pindar, Nem. vi. 1, ἓν�Ezekiel 20:12 ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ ἁγιάζων αὐτούς, 2 Mac 1:25, etc.), i.e. of making God’s People His very own, by bringing them into vital relationship with Himself. It is another sacerdotal metaphor; the thought of 1:3 (καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος) is touched again, but the full meaning of ἁγιάζειν is not developed till 9:13f., where we see that to be “sanctified” is to be brought into the presence of God through the self-sacrifice of Christ; in other words, ἁγιάζεσθαι = προσέρχεσθαι or ἐγγίζειν τῷ θεῷ, as in Numbers 16:5 where the ἅγιοι are those whom God προσηγάγετο πρὸς ἑαυτόν.

According to (Akiba?) Mechilta, 71b (on Exodus 20:18), God said to the angels at Sinai, “Go down and help your brothers” (רְדוּ וְסִייעוּ אֶח־אֲחֵיכֶם); yet it was not merely the angels, but God himself, who helped them (the proof-text being Song of Solomon 2:6!).

Διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν — a phrase only used elsewhere in the NT by the author of the Pastoral epistles—οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται κτλ. Ἐπαισχύνεσθαι implies that he was of higher rank, being somehow υἱὸς θεοῦ as they were not. The verb only occurs three times in LXX, twice of human shame (Psalms 119:6, Isaiah 1:29), and once perhaps of God ( = נָשְׂא) in Job 34:19. In Test. Joshua 2:5 it is used passively (οὐ γὰρ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἐπαισχύνεται ὁ θεός). In the gospels, besides Mark 3:34f. and Matthew 25:40, there are slight traditions of the risen Jesus calling the disciples his�Matthew 28:10, John 20:17); but the writer either did not know of them or preferred, as usual, to lead biblical proofs. He quotes three passages (vv. 12, 13), the first from the 22nd psalm (v. 23) taken as a messianic cry, the only change made in the LXX text being the alteration of διηγήσομαι into�Psalms 55:18). The Son associates himself with his�

According to Justin Martyr (Dial. 106), Psalms 22:22, Psalms 22:23 foretells how the risen Jesus stood ἐν μέσῳ τῶν�

The second quotation (v. 13a) is from Isaiah 8:17 ἔσομαι πεποιθὼς (a periphrastic future) ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, but the writer prefixes ἐγώ to ἔσομαι for emphasis. The insertion of ἐρεῖ by the LXX at the beginning of Isaiah 8:17 helped to suggest that the words were not spoken by the prophet himself. The fact that Jesus required to put faith in God proves that he was a human being like ourselves (see 12:2).

In Philo trustful hope towards God is the essential mark of humanity; e.g. quod det. pot. 38 (on Genesis 4:26), τοῦ δὲ κατὰ Μωυσῆν�

The third quotation (v. 13b) is from the words which immediately follow in Isaiah 8:18, where the LXX breaks the Hebrew sentence into two, the first of which is quoted for his own purposes by the writer. The παιδία are God’s children, the fellow υἱοί of Christ. It is too subtle to treat, with Zimmer, the three quotations as (a) a resolve to proclaim God, as a man to men; (b) a resolve to trust God amid the sufferings incurred in his mission, and (c) an anticipation of the reward of that mission. On the other hand, to omit the second καὶ πάλιν as a scribal gloss (Bentley) would certainly improve the sense and avoid the necessity of splitting up an Isaianic quotation into two, the first of which is not strictly apposite. But καὶ πάλιν is similarly1 used in 10:30; it is more easy to understand why such words should be omitted than inserted; and the deliberate addition of ἐγώ in the first points to an intentional use of the sentence as indirectly a confession of fellow-feeling with men on the part of the Son.

The same words of the 22nd psalm are played upon by the Od. Sol 31:4: “and he (i.e. messiah or Truth) lifted up his voice to the most High, and offered to Him the sons that were with him (or, in his hands).”

In v. 14 κεκοινώνηκεν (here alone in the NT) takes the classical genitive, as in the LXX. An apt classical parallel occurs in the military writer Polyaenus (Strateg. iii.11. 1), where Chabrias tells his troops to think of their foes merely as�

This idea (ἵνα κτλ.) of crushing the devil as the wielder of death is not worked out by the writer. He alludes to it in passing as a belief current in his circle, and it must have had some context in his mind; but what this scheme of thought was, we can only guess. Evidently the devil was regarded as having a hold upon men somehow, a claim and control which meant death for them. One clue to the meaning is to be found in the religious ideas popularized by the Wisdom of Solomon, in which it is pretty clear that man was regarded as originally immortal (1:13, 14), that death did not form part of God’s scheme at the beginning, and that the devil was responsible for the introduction of death into the world (2:23, 24); those who side with the devil encounter death (πειράζουσιν δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ τῆς ἐκείνου μερίδος ὄντες), which they bring upon themselves as a result of their sins. Robertson Smith (Expositor2, iii. pp. 76 f.) suggests another explanation, viz., that Jesus removes the fear of death by acting as our Highpriest, since (cp. Numbers 18:5) the OT priests were responsible for averting death from the people, “the fear of death” being “specially connected with the approach of an impure worshipper before God.” This certainly paves the way for v. 17, but it does not explain the allusion to the devil, for the illustration of Zechariah 3:5f. is too remote.

Corroborations of this idea are to be found in more quarters than one. (a) There is the rabbinic notion that the angel of death has the power of inflicting death, according to Pes. Kahana, 32. 189b; Mechilta, 72a on Exodus 20:20 (where Psalms 82:6 is applied to Israel at Sinai, since obedience to the Torah would have exempted them from the power of the angel of death), the angel of death being identified with the devil. (b) There is also the apocalyptic hope that messiah at the end would crush the power of the devil, a hope expressed in the second-century conclusion (Freer-Codex) to Mark, where the risen Christ declares that “the limit (or term, ὁ ὅρος) of years for Satan’s power has now expired.” (c) Possibly the author assumed and expanded Paul’s view of death as the divine punishment for sin executed by the devil, and of Christ’s death as a satisfaction which, by removing this curse of the law, did away with the devil’s hold on sinful mortals. Theodoret’s explanation (Dial. iii.) is that the sinlessness of Christ’s human nature freed human nature from sin, which the devil had employed to enslave men: ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τιμωρία τῶν ἁμαρτηκότων ὁ θάνατος ἦν, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τὸ Κυριακὸν οὐκ ἔχον ἁμαρτίας κηλῖδα ὂ παρὰ τὸν θεῖον νόμον ὁ θάνατος�

The force of the paradox in διὰ τοῦ θανάτου (to which the Armenian version needlessly adds αὐτοῦ) is explained by Chrysostom: διʼ οὗ ἐκράτησεν ὁ διάβολος, διὰ τούτου ἡττήθη. As the essence of σωτηρία is life, its negative aspect naturally involves emancipation from death. Ἔχειν τὸ κράτος τοῦ θανάτου means to wield the power of death, i.e. to have control of death. ἔχειν τὸ κράτος with the genitive in Greek denoting lordship in a certain sphere, e.g. Eurip. Helena, 68 (τίς τῶνδʼ ἐρυμνῶν δωμο των ἔχει κράτος; ). Ἀπαλλάξῃ goes with δουλείας (as in Joseph. Ant. 13. 13 (363), τῆς ὑπὸ τοῖς ἐχθροῖς αὐτοὺς δουλείας …�

In one of his terse parentheses the writer now (v. 16) adds, οὐ γὰρ δήπου�Isaiah 41:8, Isaiah 41:9 where God reassures Israel: σπέρμα Ἀβραὰμ … οὗ�Galatians 3:28, Galatians 3:29), and our author likes these archaic, biblical periphrases. He repeats ἐπιλαμβάνεται after Ἀβραάμ to make a rhetorical antistrophe (see Introd. p. lvii).

It is a warning against the habit of taking the Greek fathers as absolute authorities for the Greek of Πρὸς Ἑβραίους, that they never suspected the real sense of ἐπιλαμβάνεται here. To them it meant “appropriates” (the nature of). When Castellio (Chatillon), the sixteenth century scholar, first pointed out the true meaning, Beza pleasantly called his opinion a piece of cursed impudence (“execranda Castellionis audacia qui ἐπιλαμβάνεται convertit ‘opitulatur,’ non modo falsa sed etiam inepta interpretatione”). The mere fact that the Greek fathers and the versions missed the point of the word is a consideration which bears, e.g., upon the interpretation of a word like ὑπόστασις in 3:14 and 11:1.

The thought of vv. 14, 15 is now resumed in v. 17; ὅθεν (a particle never used by Paul) ὤφειλεν (answering to ἔπρεπεν) κατὰ πάντα (emphatic by position) τοῖς�

The adverbial accusative τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν here, as in 5:1, is a fairly common LXX phrase (e.g. Exodus 4:16 (of Moses), σὺ δὲ αὐτῳ ἔσῃ τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν). Ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας is also a LXX phrase, an expression for pardon or expiation, as in Psalms 65:4 (τὰς�Luke 18:13, the only other NT instance of ἱλάσκεσθαι) or else sins in the dative (ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις is actually read here by A 5. 33. 623. 913. Athan. Chrys. Bentley, etc.). This removal of sins as an obstacle to fellowship with God comes under the function of ὁ ἁγιάζων. The thought reappears in 7:25 and in 1 John 2:2 (καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν).

ὁ λαός (τοῦ θεοῦ) is the writer`s favourite biblical expression for the church, from the beginning to the end; he never distinguishes Jews and Gentiles.

The introduction of the πειρασμοί of Jesus (v. 18) is as abrupt as the introduction of the�

Βοηθεῖν and ἱλάσκεσθαι ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις occur side by side in the prayer of Psalms 79:9 (LXX). Are they synonymous here? Is the meaning of τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ that Christ constantly enables us to overcome the temptations that would keep us at a distance from God or hinder us from being at peace with God? (so, e.g., Kurtz and M`Leod Campbell, The Nature of the Atonement, pp. 172-174). The meaning is deeper. The help conveyed by the sympathy of Jesus reaches back to a sacrificial relationship, upon which everything turns. Hence the ideas of ἐλεήμων and πιστός are now developed, the latter in 3:1-6a, the former in 4:14f., 3:6b-4:13 being a practical application of what is urged in 3:1-6a. But the writer does not work out the thought of Christ as πιστός in connexion with his function as�

Expositor The Expositor. Small superior numbers indicate the series.

1 ἐκφευξόμεθα, without an object (κρίμα τοῦ θεοῦ, Romans 2:3) as 12:25, Sir 16:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

M [0121: α 1031] cont. 1:1-4:3 12:20-13:25.

1739 [α 78]

P [025: α 3] cont. 1:1-12:8 12:11-13:25.

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

D [06: α 1026] cont. 1:1-13:20. Codex Claromontanus is a Graeco-Latin MS, whose Greek text is poorly* reproduced in the later (saec. ix.-x.) E = codex Sangermanensis. The Greek text of the latter (1:1-12:8) is therefore of no independent value (cp. Hort in WH, §§ 335-337); for its Latin text, as well as for that of F=codex Augiensis (saec. ix.), whose Greek text of Πρὸς Ἐβραίους has not been preserved, see below, p. lxix.

2 Arm apparently read ὑστερήσωμεν, and P. Junius needlessly conjectured παρασυρῶμεν (“pervert them”).

69 [δ 505]

623 [α 173]

1845 [α 64]

אԠ[01: δ 2).

vg vg Vulgate, saec. iv.

K [018:1:1].

L [020: α 5] cont. 1:1-13:10.

Josephus Flavii Josephi Opera Omnia post Immanuelem Bekkerum, recognovit S. A. Naber.

1 This is from a speech of Herod inciting the Jews to fight bravely. “In such a speech,” as Robertson Smith observed, “one does not introduce doubtful points of theology.” The tenet was firmly held.

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

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

1 In ὑπὸ τῶν�

1 In A אca of Isaiah 9:6 the messiah is called πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος.

1 ἐν τῶ (sc. λέγειν, as 8:13).

2 The omission of this αὐτῷ by B d e arm does not alter the sense.

C [04: δ 3] cont. 2:4-7:26 9:15-10:24 12:16-13:25.

1 μιμνήσκῃ means mindfulness shown in act, and ἐπισκέπτῃ, as always in the NT, denotes personal care.

A [02: δ 4].

2127 [δ 202]

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

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

Euth. Euthalius

Sedul. Sedulius Scotus

1 But not, as the Greek fathers, etc., supposed, as if it was the fact of his death (and stay in the underworld) that lowered him (διά = on account of).

1 Reading τοῦ before ὑπέρ.

424 [O 12] Hort’s 67

Weiss B. Weiss, “Textkritik der paulinischen Briefe” (in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, vol. xiv. 3), also Der Hebräerbrief in Zeitgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung (1910).

1 It was so taken by some Latin fathers like Primasius and by later theologians of the Western church like Thomas of Aquinum and Sedulius Scotus, who depended on the Vulgate version.

1 αἵματος καὶ σαρκός (Ephesians 6:12) is altered into the more conventional σαρκὸς καὶ αἵματος by, e.g., K L f vg syr pesh eth boh Theodoret, Aug. Jerome.

2 αὐτῶν, i.e. αἵματος καὶ σαρκός, not παθημάτων, which is wrongly added by D* d syrpal Eus. Jerome, Theodoret.

1 The ὤφειλεν of v. 17 is not the same as this ἔδει.

2 Thus: πρέπει τῷ θεῷ φυτεύειν καὶ οἰκοδομεῖν ἐν ψυχῇ τὰς�

2 As in Revelation 4:11 and Epist. Aristeas, 16: διʼ ὃν ζωοποιοῦνται τὰ πάντα καὶ γίνεται (quoting Ζῆνα καὶ Δία).

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

c (Codex Colbertinus: saec. xii.)

1 It is a literary device of Philo in making quotations (cp. quis rer. div. 1).

1 Cosmas Indicopleustes correctly interpreted the phrase: τουτεστι σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς λογικῆς (372 B).

2 The seer in Enoch 40:1-10 has a vision of the four angels who intercede for Israel before God; the first is “Michael, the merciful and longsuffering.”

5 [δ 453]

33 [δ 48] Hort’s 17

913 [α 470]

Athan Athanasius

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/hebrews-2.html. 1896-1924.
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