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The elevation of the New Testament Mediator as Son above all other mediators of Revelation and Redemption
ELEVATION OF JESUS CHRIST ABOVE THE PROPHETS AND ABOVE THE ANGELS, THE MEDIATORS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The final Revelation of God has been made in the Son, the perfect Mediator, elevated above all, and exalted over all, whose preëminence above the Angels is indicated even in their respective names.
1God who at sundry times [in many parts] and in divers manners [many ways] spake in time past [of old, πάλαι] unto the fathers by [in, ἐν] the prophets, 2hath in these last days1 spoken [spake in the closing period of these days] unto us by [in] his Son, whom 3 he2 hath [om. hath] appointed heir of all things, by whom also he [he also]3 made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image [impression] of his person [substance], and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself4 purged our [after making a cleansing of] sins, sat down on the4 right hand of the Majesty on high; being made [becoming] so much better than [κρείττων, mightier than, superior to] the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained [hath inherited] a more excellent name than they.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Hebrews 1:1. In many parts, and in many ways.—Although the rich and full-sounding words [πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως] which open the Epistle, form an evidently intended and favorite assonance, they are by no means to be regarded (as by Chrys. and Thol.) as a mere rhetorical expansion of one and the same thought. We must rather recognize in them the characteristic peculiarities of the Old Testament revelations. For πολυμερῶς (in many parts) points not merely to the external, manifold diversity of the revelation at different times and in different persons (Bl.), or to its quantitative succession (Del.), but to the fact that by none of the many prophets, whether appearing in succession or contemporaneously, was the counsel of God revealed perfectly and in undivided fulness, but only fragmentarily and in a manifold diversity of parts. The entire prophetic function of humanity bears the characteristic “in part” (ἐκ μέρους, 1 Corinthians 13:9). From this is to be distinguished a multiplicity of modes (τρόποι), the diversity in the forms and methods of the revelation made to the fathers. In view of this connection, we are not to refer the term to the different forms of divine communication made to the prophets themselves, as “by dreams, visions from mouth to mouth” (Numbers 12:6 ff.); but partly to the distinction of law and prophecy, doctrine and exhortation, warning and consolation, threatening and promise in the prophetic discourses; partly to the diversity—conditioned by personal individuality—in the modes of teaching of an Isaiah and an Ezekiel, a Moses and a David. Both adverbs awaken at once in the reader the thought that a Revelation of such character cannot be final and perfect, but needs supplementing and completion. Kluge finds also in the words, the painstaking solicitude of the Divine instructions.
In time past.—Πάλαι points to the fact that the Old Testament revelation has long since past, having come with Malachi to its canonical conclusion; so that nothing was henceforth to be expected but the coming of him who was predicted by that prophet, the “messenger of the covenant” who immediately preceded the coming of the Lord Himself. The ‘Fathers’ to whom the prophetic words were addressed, are the forefathers of the Jews. Sir. xliv.; Acts iii. 22; Rom. ix. 5.
In the Prophets.—The contrasted ἐνυἱῷ forbids our referring this to the prophetic writings (Fr. Schmidt, Stein). Further, we are neither to supply ὤν, being, nor to take ἐν instrumentally (Chrys., Luth., Calv., Grot., Thol., Ebr., Del.). This construction is commonly taken as an Hebraism: so Del. compares 1 Samuel 28:6, 2 Samuel 23:2 : דִּבֵּר בְּ. Others, as Thol., point to a similar use of ἐν in the classics (Bern hardy’s Synt. 210). But ἐν, according to Kühner, § 600, 3, admits instrumentality only in connection with things, 5 and neither our author’s style nor the sense form here a deviation from the customary import of ἐν. For He who speaks is God. The prophets are the organs of His revelation, completely controlled by Him, and in whom His own utterances are heard. This presupposes a transient indeed and indirect, but still real union of God with the prophets. But this union is not an essential, and as it were, metaphysical entrance into human nature, nor a settled, peaceful indwelling of God in the prophets wrought through the Spirit; but a divine activity in the prophets, coinciding and blending itself with the prophetic utterance. Precisely for this reason the prophets could never become to the fathers a proper manifestation of God, could never become a Theophany. They were, as shown by the λαλήσας (spoke), the tongues of God, and even the form of the prophetic utterances is the result of God’s purpose and agency, and must not be regarded as something barely human and separable from its divine subject-matter. Precisely for this reason could Paul argue (Galatians 3:16,) from the form as such. Finally, the word prophet is here used in the broader sense, which extends the name to Abraham (Genesis 20:7), and the patriarchs generally (Psalms 105:15); as also to Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10).
At the end of these days.—The expression ἐπ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶυ τούτων, at the end of these days is rightly to be understood only as a terminus technicus in connection with the Hebrew בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים (at the end of the days). These words, which originally pointed only to the future, became, on account of their frequent connection with Messianic prophecies, a standing designation for the Messianic time, which brings to an end the עוֹלָם הַזֶּה αἰὼν οὖτος and introduces the coming age עוֹלָם הַבָּא αἰὼν μέλλων as the period, commencing with the resurrection, of the glorious manifestation of the kingdom of God. In the Jewish conception this period coincided with the appearance of the Messiah.
Since this was looked for in the “time of the end,” Daniel 8:17-19, or “at the end of time,” Daniel 12:13, to the Christian conception this divides itself into two sections of which the first commences with the appearance of Jesus Christ in the flesh, the second with the reappearance of Him who has been exalted at the right hand of God. The two divisions stood in the contemplation and hope of the early church, in close proximity, and were essentially identical: for the latter contains only the complete manifestation of what was essentially and substantively commenced in the former: Colossians 3:3-4. The expression ‘last days’ (ἔσχαται ἡμέραι) James 5:3, comprehends therefore the whole time from the birth of Jesus Christ to His second coming, which takes place in the καιρὸς ἔσχατος 1 Peter 1:5 after the accomplishment, ‘in the last times,’ ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς (1 Timothy 4:1), of the signs preceding His second coming. Then all promises receive their final fulfilment, Hebrews 11:40; Hebrews 12:28; and for believers their entrance into rest (κατάπαυσις Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 4:11), and into the Sabbatism (σαββατισμός Hebrews 4:10) is accomplished at the same time with their emancipation into the glorious freedom of the children of God, Romans 8:21. Thus the first coming of Jesus Christ falls “at the end of the times” (ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων), 1 Peter 1:20, when the “fulness of time” (πλήρωμα τῶν χρόνων) had come, Galatians 4:4. Precisely for this reason does Peter recognize in the miracle of the Pentecost (Acts 2:17), the fulfilment of a prophecy in regard to that which was to happen “in the last days” (ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις); as elsewhere the appearance of certain heretical teachers recalls prophecies in regard to the ‘end of time’ (Judges 18:0), or ‘of the days’ (2 Peter 3:3). The οἱκουμένη μέλλουσα (coming world) which is subjected not to angels, but to the Lord, (Hebrews 2:5) or the new order of things, (the season of rectification, καιρὸς διορθώσεως), Hebrews 9:10, commences, therefore, with the founding of the Christian church; and believers have since their conversion tasted along with the word of God, the “powers of the world to come,” Hebrews 6:5. For Christ appeared for the doing away of sins by the sacrifice of Himself, “at the consummation of the ages” (ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ αἰώνων, Hebrews 9:26.) There is, thus, now nothing to be looked for but the second coming, 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Already has the “last time” (ἐσχάτη ὥρα) begun, 1 John 2:18. The expression has not a chronological, but a doctrinal and moral import. When, therefore, it is said that God has spoken in the Son, ἐπ̓ ἐσχάτου ἡμερῶν τούτων, the expression cannot, viewed with reference either to the language or to the fact, mean “at last in these days” (Vulg., Luth., Dav. Schulz). The ἡμέραι αὖται, these days, are not the days in which the readers and the author live, but they correspond to the αἰὼν οὖτος this age or time, and ἐπ̓ ἐσχάτου is to be taken as neuter, indicating the close of the ante-Messianic time. The demonstrative points not to a chronological, but to a doctrinal conception. So also ἡμῖν denotes, in contrast with the ‘fathers,’ the author with his readers as belonging to the Christian period.
In the Son.—The absence of the article before υἱῷ has its ground not in the fact that υἱός can be used of Christ after the manner of a proper name, and thus be determined in itself (Böhme, Bloomf., Del., Riehm), which none can doubt, but in the fact that it is here not the individual, whom the author would signalize, but the character, or relation. In distinction from the well-known prophets, the organ of God’s utterances at the close of the ages is one who stands to God in the relation of Son. Thus we have no longer to do with a continuance of God’s prophetic oracles; but with a form of divine revelation specifically different from all that preceded it, yet maintaining its organic connection with them by the fact of its proceeding from the same God who spoke to the Fathers.
Hebrews 1:2. Appointed.—It were possible (with Bengel, Bleek, Lönemann) to understand this of an appointment in the divine purpose and counsel. But the connection of the clauses is not such as to indicate an enumeration of the several stages from the ante-temporal act of destining the pre-existing Son to be the inheritor of all things, to the actual fulfilment of this purpose in the redemption wrought by the Incarnated Word. The question evidently is rather of the historical Mediator of the Divine Revelation, who stands in the relation of Son. The import of this term it is now the special purpose of the writer to unfold, and this the more, in that, on the one hand, the term ‘Son of God’ has in the Old Testament itself a different signification; and, on the other, that he has hitherto spoken of that prophetic revelation of God which expresses itself in the word. For this reason he adds two clauses by way of specially defining the term Son, each of which expresses in its own peculiar manner this Son’s uniqueness of nature and infinite elevation. He is the Ruler who being worshipped as Lord (κύριος), has been by right of inheritance, and thus legitimately and by virtue of His divine Sonship, exalted to this dignity. And this exaltation is no apotheosis: no elevation of a man (as Socinianism would have it) to a divine position and dignity; it corresponds to the relation which this personage sustained to God before the ages. The Mediator of God’s final revelation in His word, is also the Mediator of the exercise of His power in creation. Thus through the relative (ὅς, who) the discourse passes over from God, the subject of the preceding clauses, to this mediator as subject of the following. In these the term ἐκάθισεν points to the joint agency of Christ in the act of His exaltation: while the participial clauses preceding bring out the indispensable and vital points of the Son’s having taken His place at the right hand of God only after accomplishing the work of redemption, and under what essential attributes of His person and agency (what being and what doing) all this has been accomplished. The participial clause ποιησάμενος (after making, etc.) gives the work which in perfect freedom the Son has accomplished before His exaltation; the participial clause γενόμενος (becoming so much greater, etc.) describes the position and recognition awarded to Him in consequence of that work; while the two participial clauses ὤν and φέρων (being, etc., and ‘bearing’ or ‘upholding,’ etc.) indicated by the closely connecting particle τε as standing in intimate relationship, and designedly placed before the others, express the unoriginated and unchangeable, and thus eternal and identical being and agency of the Mediator of Redemption and Creation. We must not deny (with Lün.) that also these latter clauses have to do with the manifested Messiah. But from this it follows neither that, as descriptive of the personal qualities of Christ, they assign the internal ground of His exaltation (de Wette), nor that they characterize the Son in the inmost and essential ground of His absolute personality (Del.), nor that referring to Him presumably merely as the exalted one, they point to merely economical relations in the accomplishment of redemption (V. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, 2d Exodus 1:0. p. 140 ff.). They point us rather to the unchangeable essence, the ever uniform and invariable activity of the Mediator of the New Covenant. They contain “a characteristic of the Son, as designating that nature which belongs peculiarly to Christ in each and all of His various modes of existence.” (Riehm, I. 278). For the Pres. Part. marks not in itself any independent time but simply co-ordinates the action with that of the principal verb. But if, as here, the principal verb is past, the contemporaneous action in the subordinate clause is expressed not by the Pres. but by the Imperf. The Present characterizes by pointing to permanent features and essential attributes.
The worlds.—As no trace of controversy with Gnostic notions of Æons and Angels, held by Jews, is found elsewhere in our epistle, we must, were it even for this reason, decline to refer the αἰῶνες here to angels (as earlier expositors with Wolf). The passage Hebrews 11:3 proves also that αἰῶνες cannot signify secular periods (Chrys.), still less the two cardinal epochs of the world’s history, the Mosaic and the Christian (Bolten, Paulus, Stolz, Stein), but only the world as existing and moving in time. Its parallel is found in the Old Testament הָעוֹלָמִים which (from עָלַם, to veil, hide,) signifies originally only successive periods of time lying beyond the vision, but in the writings of the Rabbins, the worlds as the hidden, unfathomable, concrete product and expression of the hidden, unfathomable ages of time. The transition in signification is found Ecclesiastes 3:11. As, however, αἰών never signifies time or eternity in the abstract, but both only under the category of progress and movement in which spiritual forces are active, so with the relation of this word to the idea of the world. It denotes the world not as the mere aggregate of all things, the universe, (τὰ πάντα), not as the manifold variety of things wrought into an organic unity and harmony (κόσμος); nor again the world in its materiality, perishableness, and vanity; but as a system of spiritual relations and powers in whose phenomena we may discern the νοούμενα, Romans 1:20. These invisible, spiritual and permanent potencies of the phenomenal world are no individual Angels and Æons, no powers independently fashioning the world, and no world of Ideas after whose model God was constrained to fashion and to build the world of phenomena. Rather God has formed these through His Son, and according to Hebrews 11:3, arranged and reduced them to order by His creative word. It is these αἰῶνες which, amidst all phenomenal vicissitudes and fluctuations, and the ceaseless passing away of individual existences, remain permanent in the world. But Jehovah is ὁ θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων, Sir 36:19; ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων (Tob 13:6; Tob 13:10; 1 Timothy 1:17). The emphasis in our passage lies not on the fact that God through the Son has made also (=even) the Æons, but that in connexion with the fact that He constituted or appointed the Son heir of the worlds, we are also to look at the fact that through Him He made (ἐποίησεν) the world.
Hebrews 1:3. Beaming image.—Ἀπαὑγασμα is by Bleek following previous interpreters (as Clarius, Schlichting, Capellus, Gerhard, Calov., Böhme), explained as effulgence, beaming or shining forth; but the form of the word would lead us to take it passively. We might hence (with Erasm., Calv., Bez., Grot., etc.) refer it to the image, the form received and reflected in a mirror. More exactly, however, it denotes the distinct, concrete result of the beaming or shining forth (Lob., Paralip. 396, Krüger, Gr. Gram. 191); so that according to Lün. it involves a threefold idea: 1. that of independent existence; 2. that of origin or descent; 3. that of likeness. Δόξα denotes the resplendent glory of God’s majesty as the means by which He makes a revelation of Himself, and claims the adoring recognition of His creatures. In Christ this glory is received and concentrated in an individual, personal image, rayed or beamed forth, as it were, from the Deity, and itself, therefore, beaming forth its brightness in turn. This beaming image is thus no mere mirrored reflection, no fleeting phenomenon produced merely for a specific and definite purpose. It has expressed in it the essential being of God, just as the figure or image is contained in the die. The numerous significations of ὑπόστασις may be reduced to four fundamental ones: 1. underplacing, underlaying, hence, foundation, basis, substruction, support, even sediment; 2. the fact of putting one’s self under a thing, taking it upon one’s self; hence, firmness, steadfastness, confidence of spirit, enterprise, determination; 3. that which lies at the basis as the proper object, or subject matter of a discourse or narrative; 4. real being in contrast with fancy and illusion; hence, essence, substance. Since now every real being has a special mode of existence corresponding to its essence, the term ὑπόστασις could become a doctrinal terminus ecclesiasticus for the trinitarian distinction in the existence of God=πρόσωπον, persona, and so many interpreters explain it here, even Calvin, Beza, Gerhard, Calov., Thom. Aquinas, Bellarmine, and Corn. a Lapide. This signification of the word, however, belongs demonstrably to a later ecclesiastical usage. We must refer the term, therefore, to the essential being of God, as Philo employs it as a synonym of οὐσία, and the Vulgate translates figura substantiæ ejus, or still better Origen de Princip. iHebrews Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 1:8, figura expressa substantiæ. For the etymology of χαραλτήρ points at all events to a means by which a thing is made recognizable or even valid in exchange, and that by stamped or engraved marks. The word, however, never denotes the stamped figure or impression itself, but only the means for it. It may thus denote partly the features or marks which in general are the means of recognition, and partly may indicate the stamp itself; but this not merely as the external instrument, or tool for stamping, but as bearing in itself the form to be impressed, and having the destination and capacity by means of this of making the impression. In this sense Philo (ed. Mangey I. p. 332) calls the rational soul a genuine coin which has obtained its οὐσία and its τύπος from that seal of God whose χαρακτήρ is the eternal Logos.
Bearing.—The character of the discourse will not allow our transforming the idea of φέρειν, bearing, into that of maintaining and governing. And, moreover, not merely do the later Jews frequently make use of this language, that God bears the worlds with His power and with the arm of His strength, but also Paul expresses a kindred idea thus: “all things consist (συνέστηκεν) in him,” Colossians 1:17. On the other hand this φέρειν must not be conceived as a mere passive bearing (portare); for the Son sustains no merely external relation to the world, nor in His action upon it merely puts forth His power in a manner like that ascribed to those who bore the heavens and the structure of the universe in the old mythologies; He acts through the word of His power. The ‘Word’ is not here that of the Gospel (Socin.) although his (αὐτοῦ) refers not to God (Cyril, Grot., etc.) but to the Son. It is the word in which the power essential to the Son utters itself, with which power it is itself fraught. The utterance of the Son, by which the world is upheld in its unity, and carried forward to the accomplishment of its purposes, is parallel to the creative word of God in the account of creation. The idea of bearing thus passes over into the active conception of gerere (carrying forward), of a sustaining movement and guidance which works upon and within it by an overmastering, spiritual agency. In this sense the prophets are said (2 Peter 2:4) to be φερόμενοι ὐπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου, and the Sept. thus uses φέρειν, Numbers 11:14; Deuteronomy 1:9.
Purification.—The expression, “making a purification of sins,” refers not to an altered condition of the world wrought through the ministry of Christ, nor to a moral renovation of the human race effected in consequence of that ministry, but to the accomplished work of redemption in removing the hinderances created by sin to our intercourse with God. The form of expression is drawn from that Levitical worship in which only pure Israelites were permitted to take part. God, that is to say, has separated His people for His service, Leviticus 20:7; Numbers 16:5; that they may be His sanctified ones, His Saints, Psalms 16:3; Proverbs 30:3. But the Saints are to be not merely corporeally pure, Exodus 19:20; Deuteronomy 23:12-14; 1 Samuel 16:5, but also Levitically pure, Leviticus 11:44, since it is the business of those whom God has set apart from the nations as His possession, to observe the distinctions between the “clean” and the “unclean,” which He Himself has established, Leviticus 20:24-26. Even though in all these arrangements we may not be able specially to refer back to death and corruption, as permanent tokens and memorials of sin (as Sommer has with great acuteness attempted (Bibl. Treatises, Bonn, 1846, p. 183–367), still to the ceremonially defiled, equally as to the sinner, participation in the service was allowed only in consequence of priestly mediation on the ground of sacrifice, and thus alone access to God and appearance in His presence were rendered possible. To this our text refers, which, by the addition of τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, of sins (gen. obj. Exodus 30:10; Job 7:21; comp. Matthew 8:3), points specially to the purification from all sins, Leviticus 16:30, which was made on the great day of atonement, and thus brings as definitely before the reader the high-priestly work of Christ as the words immediately following exhibit His kingly office. The Mid. form, ποιησάμενος, intimates a close and immediate relation of the action to the acting subject (Kühner Gr. § 250, (d), Hadley Gr. Gr., § 689). The act of purification is thus designated as the special and peculiar act of the Son. The reading δἰ ἑαυτοῦ designates, at the same time, directly the person of Jesus Christ as the means of purification, and we must refer in our minds specially to the identity of the priest and of the expiatory sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10), as the ideas of purification and expiation stand in so close relation that כִּפֻּרִים, Exodus 29:36, is translated ἡμέρα τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ, day of purification, and Malachi 2:16; Malachi 2:16, the feast of atonement is called καθαρισμός. Moreover, Grimm (Stud. und Krit., 1839, p. 751) regards as conjectural root of the Gothic sauns (ransom, λύτρον), the word sinna, saun=to be pure. Köstlin’s assertion [Joh. Lehrbegr., p. 534) that the doctrine of our passage differs essentially from that of Paul, who makes atonement vicarious, is unfounded. The καθαρισμός wrought by the death of Christ is mentioned, Ephesians 5:26; Titus 2:14, while again substitution appears, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:10. Purification involves as its necessary condition, cleansing; as its consequence, sanctification, in the sense of consecration, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:22 f.; Hebrews 10:2.
Took his seat.—Καθίζειν, in older classical use, is ordinarily transitive, but Hellenistic usage makes it generally intransitive, as elsewhere also constantly in our Epistle (Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2); while with Paul again, except 2 Thessalonians 2:4, it is uniformly transitive. Ἐνὑψηλοῖς (corresponding to בַּמָּרוֹם, Psalms 93:4; as ἐν ὑψίστοις, Luke 2:14; Luke 19:38; to בַּמְּרוֹמִים Job 16:19) is grammatically to be referred to ἐκάθισεν, inasmuch as μεγαλωσύνη, majesty, (comp. Hebrews 8:1), like ἡ μεγαλοπρεπὴς δόξα, 2 Peter 1:17, and δύναμις, Matthew 26:64, is a designation of God in the respect that no greatness, power and majesty can reach to Him, compare itself with Him, or of itself attain to Him. The term “Majesty” has no need to be specialized by a defining clause like ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, a construction which (Beza, Bleek) would require the article (μεγαλωσύνης τῆς ἑν ὑψηλοῖς). But the phrase ἐνὑψηλοῖς is important as added to ἐκάθισεν, describing more definitely Christ’s exaltation after and by means of His ascension. We must not, however, with Ebrard, in the Reformed interest, maintain that ἐν ὑψ. contains a manifest local relation, while the καθίζειν ἐν δεξιᾷ is a figurative expression, embracing purely the idea of participation in the Divine dominion and majesty, and utterly void of any local import. Inasmuch as the local relations are concrete and real, but yet can neither be sensibly beheld, nor are developed in the form of distinct conceptions in the Scriptures, but are revealed only in a general way to Christian apprehension, the figurative mode of expression and the local conceptions are neither to be dispensed with nor limited to a single isolated point. Such erroneous localization and possible misconceptions are in Scripture in part expressly and formally corrected, as John 4:21; John 4:50 ff.; Jeremiah 23:23; 1 Kings 8:27; partly set aside by counter statements, as at Hebrews 4:14 Christ is said to have “passed through the heavens” (comp. Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 4:10, “who ascended above all heavens”); Hebrews 7:14, to have become “higher than the heavens,” and finally Acts 7:55, Stephen sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Finally the original and primary conception involved in the phrase, “sitting at the right hand of God,” is not that of participation in the fulness of the Divine power and honor, or in the exercise of universal dominion; but of being taken into protection under the sheltering presence of Jehovah from the assaults of enemies, Psalms 11:1; Matthew 22:44; Revelation 12:5. Only as a consequence of this follows participation in Divine honor, omnipotence and sovereignty; and this, in that the language is applied not to the theocratic kings in general, but to the Messiah, and, in its application to Jesus, presupposes, as its condition, His theanthropic exaltation. This sitting of the exalted Christ at the right hand of Majesty, which is to continue without interruption until His Second Coming, must be conceived, therefore, not as a state of repose, or of mere security, as of one rescued from his enemies, but of Messianic activity in the accomplishment of redemption. This activity may assume the most varied forms (Acts 2:23; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 8:1); among them especially that of asserting the Divine dominion over all hostile assaults, and over all ungodly persons, Ephesians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 2:8; Hebrews 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22.
Hebrews 1:4. Becoming.—The participial clause, which at once forms the close of the period and introduces the capital thought of the immediately following discussion, gives, in contrast with what Christ, in His essential nature and under all circumstances, is and does, the change in position and dignity which He has experienced in His actual historical career. The word γενόμενος is neither to be taken separately nor unduly pressed. It stands in close connection with κρείττων (becoming mightier, superior); ideo que non ad essentiæ ortum, sed ad conditionem pertinet (Matth. Polus, Synops. Crit.). It is an error, however, to deduce from it the meaning factus=declaratus; and not less erroneous, on the other hand, is the rendering existens (Faber Stapul.), or the reference of the word, as with many older interpreters, to an eterna generatio. Nor does the term apply (as with Thom. Aquin., Cajet.) to the act of incarnation, or to Christ’s investiture with the office of Mediator, “quo pacto non uno modo factus dici potest” (H. B. Stark, Not. Sel., p. 4); but it refers to the exaltation of Him who had become incarnate (Theodoret, Œcumen.). Applied to Christ, it involves the idea of a change in the mode of His being and manifestation, but by no means in His nature, Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7. It implies no apotheosis or exaltation of a man to Deity, but an actual exaltation of the Incarnate One as such into the place of Deity in the progress of a series of historical events. Κρείττων (=κρατύτερος) denotes not of itself Divinity (Cyrill), although the Greeks familiarly designated supernatural beings as οἱ κρείττονες. In its frequent use by our author it always denotes a preëminence, whose exact character is determined by the context. (See Hebrews 9:19; Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 11:35; Hebrews 11:40; Hebrews 12:24). Clem. Rom. (1 Cor. 36.) in citing our passage, puts instead of it, μείζων. The formula τοσούτῳ—ὅσῳ, occurring in Philo and in our Epistle here, as also at Hebrews 7:20-22; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 10:25, is never used by Paul; nor is παρά after a comparative though frequent in our Epistle, as Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 11:4; Hebrews 12:24, and occurring Luke 3:13; Luke 3:0 Esdras 4:35. The comparative διαφορώτερον, found elsewhere in the New Testament only at Hebrews 8:6, enhances the idea of dignity which is already contained in the positive.
Name.—The term ‘name’ (ὄνομα) is referred by Bez. and Calov, etc., to the dignity and glory attained by Christ; by Akersloot to his extraordinary appellatives as high-priest, Lord; and by Del. to the aggregate heavenly name of the Exalted One, His שֵׁמ הַמְּפֹרָשׁ, nomen explicitum, which has entered no human mind on earth, and can be pronounced by no human tongue, ὄνομα ὄ οὐδεὶς οἶδεν εἰ μὴ αὐτός, Revelation 19:12. The majority, however, refer the name to υἱός, Son. This view is sustained by the immediately following citations from the Old Testament, in proof that the name Son, used of an individual person, as such belongs exclusively to the Messiah; by the fact that while the name of ‘Angel’ points to the idea of servant and messenger, the name of Son, on the contrary, involves that of essential equality with the Father, of dominion and of heirship; and, finally, by the choice of the word ‘inherited’ (κεκληρονόμηκεν) which clearly refers back to the clause, “whom He constituted heir of all,” while the perf. has inherited, shows that it relates not to an act parallel to, and simultaneous with, the ἔθηκε, after the resurrection, by which Christ obtained in His humanity, what in His divine nature He already possessed from eternity (Theodoret, Œcumen., Theophyl.), but to a complete and final taking possession of that which, as His befitting allotment, corresponding with His essential character, the Messiah has received once for all in permanent possession. The term refers not then to absolute Sonship, as a relation which Jesus may be supposed to have obtained on account of His merits, as His special allotment; but rather to that name of Son, challenging universal recognition (Philippians 2:9), which Christ received, neither after His ascension nor at His conception (Sebast. Schmidt), Luke 1:35; but bears even in the Old Testament. Camero appropriately remarks: “He is not said to have inherited the thing which belonged to Him by nature, but the name of the thing, that, viz., by which it was known to angels and men that He Himself was the Son of God.”
Angels.—The subsequent citations show that by ἄγγελοι we are to understand not the servants of God under the old covenant (Frenzel in Augusti’s Theol. Blätter, No. 25. Haberfeld: Angeli e primo et secundo cap. ep. ad Hebr. Exulantes. Isenac. 1808), but the heavenly angels. The mention of them is not introduced casually, as if suggested by the mention of the Throne of God, and scarcely either for an independent polemical purpose, in opposition to Jewish Gnostic conceptions of the Messiah as an intermediate spirit and angel (Thol.) Ideas of this kind found, indeed, utterance among the Jews of this period, and had in part penetrated into the Christian church (Hellwag in the Theol. Jahrb. Tübingen, 1848. But no trace of an allusion to them is found in our Epistle whose purpose is to portray the infinite elevation of the new covenant, and of its perfect Founder above the old covenant, and its manifold and imperfect mediators. But to these intermediate agencies of the Old Testament belong essentially Angelophanies, which are expressly mentioned (Hebrews 2:2), in connection with the giving of the Law. Nor can any appeal be made to the Fourth Book of Esdras, and this, whether with Lawrence, Lücke and Hilgenfeld, we carry back the date of this book as early as the first century, B. C., or with Volkmar and Ewald (the Fourth Book of Esdras, etc., 1863), bring it down to the first century after Christ, and with Dillman regard it as the work of a Hellenistic Jew, belonging to the last quarter of the first post-Christian century, exhibiting a Judaism which, after its rejection of Christianity, and after the Roman conquest of Palestine, is now in rapid progress toward its state of Talmudic ossification. For the Angels Uriel and Jeremiel are, indeed, in a certain sense, mediators of the revelations of God; they explain to Esra the visions which he has received, and answer the questions when and by whom God will introduce the judgment and the end of things, and others of like nature. But the Messiah is designated not as an angel, but as the Son of God (4 Esdras 7:28, 29) and beheld under the figure of the Lion from Judah, who annihilates the eagle, the symbol of the Roman Empire (4 Esdras 11). In some features the apocalyptic representations assume a wild and monstrous character; while in the Book of Enoch, in the Jubilees, in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the contents taments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the contents of the revelation are at least recited from heavenly are given to Esra to be drunk in from a pitcher (4 Esdr. 14:40). Also in the Book of Enoch, (translated and explained by Dillman, Leipz., 1853) we find, indeed, an uncertain and inconsistent enumeration of angels, who are called in brief ‘the white ones’ (Enoch 87:2; 90:21, 31) or ‘those who do not sleep’ (Enoch 39:12; 61:12; 71:7), and equally with the heroes (Enoch 43:3; 46:7) are often styled ‘stars,’ (Enoch 21:3, 6; 86:3; 87:4; 88:1, 3; 90:21). There are also of these, different orders and proper names. At the head of the Satane stands Satan (Enoch 40:7) who (Enoch 54:5, 6; 55:4) is also called Azazel, alongside of whom in the section Enoch 6:16 and 79:2 appears Semjâzâ. Avenging angels are mentioned Enoch 53:3; 54:3; 56:1; 62:11; 63:1; 79:28. Among the good angels by the throne of God are found three principal and highest leaders, Cherubim, Seraphim and Ophanim; Enoch 61:10; 71:7, and four supreme angels, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Phanuel, Enoch 40:4, 10; 54:6; 71:8, 13. In the sections that treat of Noah, Zuriel, (צוּרִיאֵל) takes the place of Phanuel. At Enoch 21:5, Uriel, and Enoch 23:4, Raguel are named as conductors of Enoch through heaven, while elsewhere also Michael Enoch 24:6, and Raphael, Enoch 23:3, 6; 32:6, perform this service; though the proper calling of Raphael and Gabriel is healing and purifying, Enoch 10:4; 10:10; 40:9. The Messiah nowhere appears here as an angelic being, but as Son of a woman (Enoch62:5), as Son of a man (Enoch 69:29), and Son of Man who has righteousness (Enoch46:1), who will be a staff to the righteous and holy, and the light of the nations; (Enoch 48:4), whom also the angels praise (Enoch40:5), and who, with the Lord of Spirits and the head of days, as the anointed one (Enoch 48:10; 52:4), who bears in Himself the fulness of the Divine Spirit (Enoch49:2, 4), was chosen out and concealed before the world was created, Enoch 48:6. On the one hand the attributes which distinguish the members of the true church, are in the highest sense applied to the Messiah. He is hence called absolutely the Chosen One, Enoch 40:5; 45:3; 48:2; 51:3, 5; 52:6, 9; 53:6; 55:4; 51:5, 8, 10; 62:1, and the ‘root’ or the ‘branch of righteousness,’ Enoch 10:16; 93:2, and as such, or as the righteous one, Enoch 38:2; 92:2, 10, is distinguished from the Messianic people, who, in like manner, are conceived as plants of the eternal seed, Enoch 84:6, and is designated as the aggregate of the chosen, righteous and holy ones, Enoch 38:2; 40:2; 45:5; 51:5; 61:12, and hence also can collectively be called the righteous one, Enoch 91:10. On the other hand the Messiah is called absolutely the Word, Enoch 90:38; the Word of God, Enoch 14:24; 102:1, and the Son of God, Enoch 105:2, who will bear the sword of righteousness, and will appear in the eighth week of the world, Enoch 91:12. God, who is often called the “Ancient of Days,” Enoch 46:1; 47:3; 58:2; 71:10, 13, (after Daniel 7:13) swears before Michael, Enoch 69:15 ff. that the salvation beheld by Enoch shall be eternal, and that the Messiah, as king of the kingdom of heaven, will establish on the earth an imperishable kingdom. Moreover, at Enoch 39:5; 49:1; 62:2, there is promised the outpouring of the Spirit of wisdom and righteousness. (Comp. Ewald: Treatise on the Origin, Import and Construction of the Æthiopic Book of Enoch, Gött., 1854, and Dillmann, who, in Herzog’s Real-Encycl. XII., places the composition of Enoch 37–71, after taking out the Noachian fragment—in the first decennium of the Hasmonean princes, that of the remaining sections in the time of the rule of John Hyrcanus, and that of the books of Noah in the first Christian century. Among these latest portions, in which, however, the Romans still do not appear as a secular power, dangerous to the Jews, he reckons Enoch 54:7–55:2; Enoch 60; 65:1–69:25; Enoch 106, and the greatest part of Enoch 6–16. The hypothesis defended by Hilgenfeld (The Jewish Apocalyptic in its Historical development, Jena, 1857) of a Christian origin of Enoch 37–71 stands connected with other opinions of this scholar, and is refuted by Dillmann. This whole subject, however, is not yet thoroughly cleared up.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The character of the historical revelation of God, made to the fathers through the lips of prophets, and brought to perfection in the Son, is essentially different from that general manifestation of God in respect of His eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20), which is made by means of His works and the rational nature of man. By its element of human speech it is immeasurably exalted above that Symbolical language of nature which stands in need of a special interpretation. It avails itself indeed, in like manner, of imagery for the expression of ideas that lie beyond the sphere of sense. But this imagery belongs to human speech as such, and God avails Himself of it for the purpose of direct address to certain men, in setting home positive communications which He makes in the way of direct personal approach and appeal. This revelation in language presupposes the religious vitality of man, and aims at its development, purification and perfection. As containing the word of God, this revelation actually solves the problem of His relation to the world, of its creation, preservation and redemption: it unveils to us His counsels and procedure in respect to salvation; shows us the destination of the world, and the Divine arrangements for its recovery, government, and ultimate blessedness; and thus sheds light alike on the true nature of God, and on the history of our race.
2. The fragmentary character of this revelation produces in it no error; for God is He who speaks to us in the prophets, and all the utterances of revelation are oracles of God (λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ). The great variety of its forms best bears testimony to the goodness of God in graciously condescending to human necessities, and demonstrates at once the sincerity and earnestness with which He draws near to us, and the depth of His condescension. For God did not use the prophets as merely passive instruments, nor speak through them as through a speaking trumpet; nor did He merely “exercise His power in them, and inspire in their mind and heart what, when and how they were to speak,” 2 Peter 1:0 (Starke). He deposited His own thoughts in the prophetic modes and forms of thought, and clothed His own word in the peculiarities of speech which belonged to the prophet and to his time. It is precisely for this reason that in the prophetic writings of the Old Testament the discourse frequently passes from the third person to the first, and conversely, and that without indication of any change in the person of the speaker.
3. The fact that the same God has spoken to us at an earlier period in the prophets, and, at the close of the Ante-Messianic period, in the Son, assures to us the unity, amidst its manifold variety, of the historical revelation; while it teaches us that the individual utterances mutually illustrate each other, and yet derive their full light only from the actual central point of all revelation, Jesus Christ. For which reason also the Old Testament is rightly understood only from the stand-point of the New, and the entire body of Scripture is to be regarded in the light of a revelation of God for the salvation of the world, whose parts stand related to each other as preparation and fulfilment.
4. The successive stages of Revelation (Rosenm., Treatise on the successive stages of Divine Rev., 1784) point to a divine plan of salvation, which, ordained from eternity, has in its execution in time, given birth to a completely adjusted economy of salvation, and discloses a wisdom into whose mysteries Angels desire to look, 1 Peter 1:12, and to whom it is made known in the church of Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:10, as also to us to whom the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, has given the spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of Himself, Ephesians 1:17. The answer of Cyrill (adv. Julian, I 1:126) to the inquiry of the emperor Julian regarding the reason of the lateness of Christ’s appearance, viz., that “Revelation advances with advancing culture, and its perfection could be reached only in connection with a corresponding culture of the race,” is an answer at once erroneous and puerile. More to the purpose remarks Heubner: “Christianity completes the circle of Revelation; it is its perfection, and stands good for the highest reach of culture which man can attain on earth.”
5. The designation of God’s revelation in the Son as the final one, while decidedly repelling the idea that any grade of human culture can transcend, and leave behind it Christianity as a thing antiquated and effete, remands to the realm of dreams every anticipation of a new revelation in behalf of some religion of the future. And the declaration—that Christ, only after accomplishing a purification of sin, took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, reminds us that there can be no degree of human need which should require another religion. “If God has finally spoken to us by Christ and His Apostles, we must not turn away to the next doctrine that may arise, be it Mohammedanism or Popery; but abide by that which we heard from the beginning from Christ and His Apostles; and so abiding we shall abide with the Father and the Son.” (Starke).
6. In the fact that through the Son, in whom God has spoken to us in the fulness of times, He originally made the worlds, is involved the possibility of a perfect harmony in natural and historical revelation. But the apostasy and its consequences have changed their original relation. The realization of this harmony must be brought about by a complete triumph over sin, and an accomplished elimination of evil from the world, and will be effected not by any heightened development on the part of nature, but by the special acts of God in a series of historical revelations.
7. While Jesus Christ is placed on a level with the prophets in that—according to the rule, Amos 3:7 : “Jehovah does nothing without revealing His counsel to His servants, the prophets,”—He is a personal organ for genuine oracles of God, He stands essentially distinguished from them not exclusively in the fact of His being the perfect Mediator of the final revelation, of whom all earlier prophets have prophesied. For in this case He might possibly have been conceived merely as the most perfect teacher and the most distinguished prophet. The specific distinction lies in the three following points: 1. Christ is become king at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, while the prophets have been and remain simply servants of Jehovah. 2. Christ is Saviour and Redeemer of the world, which presupposes His personal purity from every sin; the prophets, on the contrary, were at all times sinful men. who stood in need of redemption. 3. The exaltation of Jesus Christ to divine Majesty after accomplishing on earth the work of redemption, corresponds to His ante-mundane condition and life, to His eternal relation as Son to the Father, and to his supra-mundane character and work; so that in His personal appearance on earth He is to be designated as God-man (θεάνθρωπος), while the prophets, as men of God, who have spoken under the impulse of the Holy Ghost, maintained and attested their created and finite character.
8. That the historical Mediator of the final revelation of God is the ante-mundane Mediator of the creation of the world, imparts to Him a special majesty and dignity beyond that of all created mediators. The comparison of Him with the Angels shows that He is not, in this relation, conceived as an unconscious intermediate cause, but has exercised this mediating agency in a personal existence. And the declaration that He is the beaming image of God’s glory and the impress of His substance, shows that the Mediator who is distinguished above all beings, and even above the Angels, by the name of “Son,” does not bear His filial name in a conventional and theocratic sense. “The Son is the mediating essence of the whole spiritual world, in whom the Deity presents Himself in that world, mirrored in all His perfections, in power, wisdom, holiness, love. Such is the external relation of the Son; for the world, for us, He is the being from whom beams forth the divine δόξα. The ground of this is that on Him is impressed and stamped the divine essence; that He is Himself participant of the divine nature. This language expresses the Son’s internal character and relation.” (Heubner). Hence, Ignatius (ad Magnes. 5) strikingly styles the renewing of the Christian into the image of God a recoining by virtue of a new stamp which God applies through Jesus Christ; and Origen, (ad Romans 4:2) remarks that in this transformation is explained the fact that the world does not know the true disciples of Jesus. The Son appears not as a revealer unequal to the Father, and hence an inadequate revealer of some part or a single side of His nature; but He is here designated as the perfect co-equal revealer of the Father (v. Gerlach), in whom the ‘form of God’ (μορφὴ θεοῦ) permanently dwells, Philippians 2:6, and whom Paul designates (Colossians 1:15) the “first-born of the whole creation (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως) and the image (εἰκών) of the invisible God;” since the essential form of God is that εἶδος θεοῦ (John 5:37) which the Son essentially possessed in His pre-incarnate glory, John 17:5. The declaration then, that He, as Son, has issued from the Father, and is dependent on Him, implies not a temporal but an eternal relation, involving no succession in time, no subordination in power or rank, no lowering of the divine attributes. As light of light He is not a mere ray of the divine Majesty, but sun from sun, because God from God, a personal subsistence of the divine substance.
9. In the ascription to the Son of the essential attribute that he bears (sustains, moves, and guides) all things with the word of His power, believers may find an ample consolation. The Lord of the Church is the Lord over the world; the mediator of revelation and salvation is also the mediator of the maintenance and government of the world; the Saviour of sinners is the controller of the history and the destinies of all men and things. The Roman Clement styles Him (1 Corinthians 16:0.) “the outstretched sceptre of the divine majesty,” and Paul says Colossians 1:17, that in Him all things are, as consisting and held together in Him. Without His mediating agency the world would fall asunder alike in its elements, and its moving forces. But as it is, neither nature nor the course of events can hinder the victory of the Church of Christ, the triumph of believers, the accomplishment of all things according to the divine plan.
10. In the word ‘heir’ lies a relation not merely to the name of Son, or to the fact that the Son has received, according to Matthew 28:18, universal dominion, but at the same time, and chiefly to the Messianic fulfilment of the promises given Romans 4:13 to the seed of Abraham, on which foundation rests the promise that we are to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. The expression reminds us not so much that Jesus Christ is the second Adam (Calv.), as rather that He is ὁ ἐρχόμενος, He that cometh. “What belongs to God belongs to Christ. Only, therefore, as we have part in Christ can we claim a share in the riches of God.” (Fricke.)
11. Having descended by His incarnation into a lower position than that held by the Angels, in so far as these are spirits and dwellers in heaven, (Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 2:9) the Messiah, after accomplishing His redemptive work, has, by an actual historical change in the circumstances of His life, passed into a position as much transcending that of Angels in majesty and power, as His characteristic name is nobler and loftier than theirs. “Non naturam sed personam Christi hic confert cum Angelis respectu dignitatis, officii, potentiæ, et gloriæ.” (Matt. Polus, Synops. crit., IHebrews 1:1125, ed. Francf.). As in Christ the personal union of the divine and human natures is in the most perfect manner accomplished, while yet the two natures are in no way confounded, the two thus remain always distinguishable, yet are never to be conceived as actually separated. We must regard, therefore, as erroneous the language of so many earlier writers who limit the exaltation exclusively to the human nature of Christ. It applies rather, as already remarked by Œcumenius (II. 320), to the person of the God-man.
12. “Although Christ with His body has ascended above all heavens, yet in relation to His ubiquity we are to distinguish the two kinds of His actual presence, according as this presence belongs merely to His bodily nature, or to His personality. Under the former relation He is, in His present condition, in a certain ποῦ (where), not indeed circumscribed within strictly local limits, but such as, while transcending time and place, still belong to a finite essence, and subject it, therefore, to like conditions with all the glorified bodies of the blessed. In the other relation, Christ, by virtue of His personal unity, and of that divine majesty and glory which He shares, is no less present every where to all creatures than the Logos itself.” (Oetinger, Idea vitæ, § 119). “The words that speak of His departure and re-appearing do not exclude His bodily presence, of which He indeed gives express assurance, Matthew 28:18, but distinguish merely the dissimilar modes of His presence—bearing one form before His passion, another at the final judgment, and still another during the intervening period.” (Sim. Musæus, Sermon on the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, 1561.). Whatever be the special explanations, the emphasis laid by the Lutheran church on the personal presence, ministry, and self-communication of Christ, and that too of the whole and undivided Christ in His Church, is but a thoroughly authorized and justifiable practical application of the Scripture teaching regarding the sitting of the God-man at the right hand of Majesty in the highest heavens.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.
The unity of Revelation amidst the variety of its manifestations: 1. as unity of the author, God; 2. as unity of the means, the word of God; 3. as unity of its purpose, the salvation of the world.—Whereby does the one revelation of the true God present itself so variously that only the believer can comprehend its unity? 1. By the diversity of the times of which God regards the necessities; 2. by the different character of the persons in whom God has spoken to men; 3. by the peculiar and various modes of intercourse and expression which God has made use of.—Christ the sole and single, because perfect mediator, 1. of the existence of the world in respect to a. its creation, b. its preservation, c. its government; 2. of the revelation of God to the world in respect to a. His power, b. His will, c. His essence; 3. of the saving of the world in a. its redemption, b. its sanctification, c. its final perfection as the kingdom of God.—Wherein we Christians are at once like and unlike the Israelites? 1. In our possession of the word of true Revelation 2:0. in our faith in the coming of the Messiah; 3. in our hope of salvation by purification from sin.—The antitheses in Jesus Christ: 1. in His person as God and man; 2. in His history, as one of humiliation and exaltation.—The threefold office of Jesus Christ: 1. as that of the perfect prophet in whom the revelation through the word has found its completion and close; 2. as that of the true high-priest who offered Himself for purification from sin; 3. as that of eternal king who, elevated above all created existence, bears and rules over all things.—The dominion of Jesus Christ: 1. in its character, a. by the word of revelation, b. by the word of His power, c. by the word of His grace; 2. in its establishment, a. by His nature, b. by His works, c. by His place at the right hand of Majesty on high; 3. in its extent, a. in time, b. in space, c. in respect to its objects.—The Lord always governs His church, 1. by virtue of His personal life with the Father in glory, 2. by virtue of the accomplishment of the work of redemption committed to Him, 3. by means of the word in which His Spirit bears sway and His power works.—The threefold relation of Jesus Christ to God: 1. as servant, 2. as Song of Solomon , 3. as joint-ruler.—The peculiar and unique relation of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, 1. to men, 2. to God, 3. to the entire universe.—The completed and perfected life of our Lord Jesus Christ Isaiah 1:0. the pledge of our deliverance, 2. the type of our glorification, 3. the means of our union with God.—The significance of the elevation of Jesus Christ to the right hand of Majesty on high, 1. for the personal life of the Lord, 2. for the faith of His disciples, 3. for the progress of His work, 4. for the destiny of the world, 5. for the completion of the revelation of God.—What abides to us amidst the vicissitudes of times and the change of all things? 1. The word of God which a. in manifold ways, b. by virtue of divine constitution and arrangement, c. reveals to us eternal truth; 2. the Son of God who a. as image of His substance, b. after accomplishing His mission on earth, c. sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high; 3. the salvation of God, which in Christ is a. destined for us from eternity, b. obtained for us in time, c. and for all eternity imparted to believers.—Whither do all our Sabbaths and religious services summon us? 1. Into the church whose a. Founder, b. Saviour, and c. Head is the Son of God; 2. to devotional contemplation a. of His word, b. of His ways, c. of His works; 3. to believing appropriation a. of revealed truth, b. of the proffered cleansing from sin, c. of the opened access to the Majesty of God.—The homage which we owe to Christ: 1. in its origin and procurement a. by His divine sonship, b. by His mediatorial office, c. by His position at the right hand of God; 2. in its expression a. in acknowledgment of that which we receive from Him, b. in the use of that which we have through Him, c. in the striving after that which we hope from Him.—For what shall the name which distinguishes Christ above all other beings, serve us? 1. To remind us of that image of God for which we are created; 2. to assure us of the Sonship for which we are redeemed; 3. to aid us on our way to the glory to which we are called.—Whither does the preaching of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, direct our eyes? 1. To the eternity a. from which He came, b. of which He bore witness, c. to which He is gone; 2. to the ways of God, a. in upholding, b. in enlightening, c. in purifying the world; 3. to our personal position a. in respect to the word, b. to the people, c. to the Son of God.
Berlenburger, Bible: We must not fancy, now that we have the Scripture, that we need not the teaching of Christ, and that He therefore may remain dumb. Rather must we reverse the position and say: precisely because we have the Scripture, Christ must speak and explain it to us. This is Christ’s proper office and work; this the Father has assigned to Him; this He will not allow to be taken from Him, and of so rich a blessing the believing Christian must not allow himself to be deprived.—The Holy Scripture of the Old Testament is the morning dawn and day-break, which thence advances to meridian day.—Articles of faith are not like other things, learned out, as it were, and rendered antiquated. Rather might the Hebrews now well profit by their former teachings and lessons. Among these stands conspicuous the course of God’s providential dealings, up to the time of Him who was to come.—The Jews of our time close up their door, and shove to this bolt, and say: We adhere to Moses! They are not fond of reading the prophets. But the Christian religion is no falling away from the Fathers, but a fulfilment of that which God spoke to them.—People often convert into a stumbling-block that which they should have employed as a help.—We must not narrow up the time of Christ to the years of His flesh, but regard Him as being of eternity, who is styled God of the whole world, Isaiah 54:5.—Redemption belongs to the kingdom of grace; but the being who was to redeem us was required of necessity to be mighty. Grace and power mutually aid and sustain each other.—Steinhofer: The Lord would fain receive honor from his inheritance, and that inheritance are we. We are the work of His hands, and are indebted to Him for life and being. We are a fruit of His painful toil, and have through Him our salvation. We are His peculiar heritage, presented to Him by the Father for an ornament and a delight. His purpose shall succeed; the work of His hand shall not be in vain; His honor shall be secured to Him by His grace in us, His own inheritance.—Ders: Jesus is able to make known and execute the whole purpose of God. For this great and glorious work, for which He was destined from Eternity, He was 1. not too mean or insignificant, since He is the splendor of God’s majesty and the image of His substance. Nor was He for this 2. too weak and impotent: for He it is who bears all things with the Word of His power. 3. He evinced himself to be the Son appointed to the inheritance, in that He left not the obstacles to be removed by a stranger; but became Himself the sacrifice, and made through Himself a purification of our sins.—The course of the Son of God from the bosom of the Father to His throne.—He has made by Himself the purification of our sins: 1. Without this mission and message all the attestations to His glory would be to us matter rather of terror than of joy; 2. but with the Word of His grace the recognition of His majesty becomes matter of at once weighty and delightful import: 3. The experience of the forgiveness of sins in His blood draws our hearts so that we delight to adore Him.
Starke: God always reserves the best unto the last. Although He may not give thee speedily what thou desirest, at last all will turn out good, Psalms 37:37; Habakkuk 2:3.—Christ obtains the inheritance for all those who adhere to Him. We are through Christ all children, and heirs of God. Are we then not sufficiently rich? I have but little in the world, and have but a small inheritance to leave behind me; yet I am not therefore sad. Though poor here I shall be abundantly rich in heaven, Romans 8:17.—Though the one only God has spoken formerly through the prophets to the fathers, and at last to us by His Son; yet, as there is only one God, has there been also but one religion, one faith, one worship, and one way to eternal bliss from the beginning of the world until now, Acts 15:11.—I adhere to Christ; He has all power. He knows what is my ability; I believe that He will help me always and everywhere, John 4:4.—Jesus exalted into heaven, and yet, as God and man, at all times present with His church on earth by virtue of inseparable, personal union. If he is there and here, then why so troubled, my heart? If thou diest, thou comest into heaven to Jesus. So long as thou livest, Jesus is with thee. Jesus, thy magnet, will finally draw thee wholly to Himself, John 17:24.—To dwell on the name of Christ is a blessed work, for one learns thus to know His great glory, John 17:3.
Heubner: We have here a comprehensive outline of all Christology: 1. what Christ is in Himself: 2. what He is to us; Revealer of God, Ransomer of sinners; 3. into what condition He is exalted.—How important is it to have a genuine, Scriptural, adequate conception of Christ! The more value we attach to Christ, so much the more value do we attach to His Word; so much the more sacred He becomes as an example; so much the more power issues forth from Him; so much the more unlimited is the confidence which we can repose in Him.
[Owen: All the glorious perfections of the nature of God do belong unto, and dwell in, the person of the Son. Were it not so, He could not gloriously represent unto us the person of the Father; nor by the contemplation of Him could we be led to an acquaintance with the person of the Father. The whole manifestation of the nature of God unto us, and all communications of grace, are immediately by and through the person of the Son. He represents Him unto us; and through Him is everything that is communicated unto us from the fulness of the Deity conveyed.]
Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 1:1.—ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου instead of ἐσχάτων after Cod. Sin. A. B. D. E. K. L. M.
 Hebrews 1:3.—Sin. omitting ἡμῶν has τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησ., the order which after A. B. D. E. M. has been prevalent since Bengel. A later hand has added ἠμῶν in the Sin.
Hebrews 1:4.—κρείττων, mightier than, superior to.—γενόμενος, becoming, not being made, by which γιγνομαι, ἐγενοίμην should rarely be rendered when applied to persons, though they may be when applied to things.—κεκληρονόμηκεν, hath inherited.—K.]
 [Hebrews 1:1.—πολυμερῶς in many parts, or portions (μείρομαι, divide, μέρος, a part), not, at sundry times, (which may follow as a fact) but as it were fragmentarily, by piece-meal. Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως emphatically and sonorously open the majestic sentence—λαλήσας after speaking, or having spoken. Though the Eng. Perfect is not strictly the proper rendering of the Aor. participle, it is not unfrequently, though by no means uniformly, and, I think, not commonly, the best English equivalent for it,—ἐν, in, with Owen, Alt., de Wette, Moll, &c., is taken, in its proper signification of in. Unless perhaps sometimes by a Hebraistic use, it should so be always taken, although the Eng. idiom sometimes requires a different rendering. But not so here. Owen: “The certainty of the revelation and the presence of God with His word are intimated in the expression,”—ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου better taken as neuter=in the closing period of these days,—ἐλάλησεν, spake, (not, hath spoken) viz., historically when Christ appeared as Messiah,—ἐν υἱῷ, in one who was Son: the absence of the article turning the attention from the individual to the character.
Hebrews 1:2.—The position of ἐποίησεν immediately after καί, was recommended by Griesb., after A. B. D*. D***. E. M., is approved by Lachmann and Tischendorf, and confirmed by Cod. Sin. [This reading emphasizes the ἐποιήσεν.].
Hebrews 1:2.—ὃν ἔθηκε, whom he appointed, Aor. pointing, as ἐλάλησεν, above, to the historical act.—καὶ ἐποίησεν, he also made, implying the naturalness of making Him heir of the universe who had been the agent of His power in making it.
 Hebrews 1:3.—δἰ ἑαυτοῦ before καθαρισμόν is cancelled by Bleek, de Wette, Lachm., Tischendorf, Alford, but readmitted by Tisch. VII., and Reiche (Comm. Crit. 6) after D * * *. and nearly all the minusc.; but is wanting in Sin., as in A. B. D**. The Uffenbach Uncial fragment (Tisch. Anecdota Sacra et Profana, p. 177) reads τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως, δἰ ἑαυτοῦ καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιῃσάμενος.
Hebrews 1:3.—ἀπαύγασμα, radiant image—ὑπόστασις, not person, but substantia, substance.—φέρων, bearing, τῷ ῥήματι, by the utterance, mandate—ποιησάμενος, after making for himself, Aor. Med. implying the completion of the act in His own person.
[True indeed, Jelf, (Gr. Gram. 3 Ed. 1861) gives Vol. II. § 622, examples of ἐν “applied to persons viewed as instrumental agents.” Herod. ix. 48 ψευσθῆνοι ἐν ὑμῖν, to be deceived by (lit. in) you: Thucyd. vii. 8 : So Gr. Test. Matthew 9:34, ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμόνων, to cast out, etc. by the ruler of the devils: Acts 17:31, ἐν ανδρὶ κρίνειν, to judge by the man, etc. Still it may be doubted if in these cases the departure from the proper force of ἐν is not more apparent than real, and here to suppose such departure is by no means necessary; and I incline with Moll to regard the author’s conception, not as that of God’s speaking by the prophets and His Son, but in them.—K.].
Scripture proof of the elevation of Jesus Christ as Son of God, and being above the Angels
5For to which of the angels said he at any time: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again: I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a 6 Son? And again: When he bringeth in [and when he shall a second time6 have introduced ὅταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ, 2 Aor. Subj.=Perf. Fut.] the First-begotten into the 7 world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of [in respect, indeed, to] the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits [winds] and his ministers 8 a flame of fire; but unto [in respect to] the Son he saith: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a [And1: a] sceptre of righteousness [rectitude εὐθύτητος] is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9Thou hast loved [lovedst ἠγάπησας] righteousness, and hast hated [hatedst ἐμίσησας] iniquity7; therefore God, even thy God, [O God, thy God] hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid [didst lay] the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands: 11they shall perish, but thou remainest,8 and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, 12and as a vesture9 shalt thou fold [roll]10 them up, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 13 But to [and in respect to] which of the angels said he at any time [hath he ever said εἴρηκέν ποτε], sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation [for ministration for the sake of those (διὰ τούς) who are to inherit salvation?]
[Hebrews 1:6.—And when he shall have again introduced, etc. Both the position of πάλιν, and the connection of the thought, point decidedly to this construction. The reference is (de W., Lün., Ebr., Del., Alf., Moll.) to the re-introduction of Christ into the inhabited world (ἡ οἰκουμένη) at His second coming. It may be rendered again, a second time, or back; both ideas being in fact included.
Hebrews 1:7.—In respect indeed to=while in respect to. The force of the part, μέν, making Hebrews 1:7 preparatory to Hebrews 1:8 is lost in Eng. ver., as in many other passages in the Epistle. In Hebrews 1:8 πρός with τὸν υἱόν should be rendered as in Hebrews 1:7. In respect to the Son. So also I think it should be (with Moll) at Hebrews 1:13, and so I think (as against Moll, and nearly all the Intpp.) at Hebrews 11:13, πρὸς ὃν ἐλαλήθη—τνεύματα clearly here winds, not spirits, as demanded by the connection.
Hebrews 1:9.—[“O God, thy God,” ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός σον. Even Del. is doubtful whether in Hebrews 1:9 the first ὁ θεός should be rendered, as in Hebrews 1:8, as Voc. ‘O God’, or, as in apposition with the following: ‘God, thy God.’ With Lün., Moll, etc., I think we are clearly to prefer the former construction.
Hebrews 1:14.—Εἱς διακονίαν for service or ministration, not to men, but to God. Their ministration or service is to God; but in His service they are sent forth on account of, for the sake of (διά) men.—K.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
To which of the angels said he at any time.—The position of the words τίνι γὰρ εἷπέν ποτε τῶν shows that the emphasis is to be laid immediately upon τίνι and τῶν , and that ποτέ does not belong to τίνι as a strengthening particle, to whom I pray? Cui tandem? (Chr. F. Schmid, Kuinoel, etc.), but is a particle of time. The subject is God. This, however, is not so much to be drawn from Hebrews 1:1, as to be supplied from the connection of the thought according to usage in citing from the Old Testament. It cannot be urged in refutation of the author’s reasoning, that in the Old Testament alike men and angels are sometimes called Sons of God. Schlicht., Michael., and Böhme have pointed out the difference between a collective appellative, and the name applied to an individual. This, however, does not meet the case, although the τίνι would seem to favor it. Bleek’s explanation that the LXX. cited exclusively by our author, read in the Cod. Alex. Genesis 6:2; Genesis 6:4; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7; Daniel 3:25, not Sons (υἱοί) but Angels (ἄγγελοι) of God, is insufficient from the fact that in the Psalms 29:1; Psalms 89:7, we find the expression “Sons of God,” and we are not at liberty to suppose that the author forgot or left out of the account these passages. The remark, too, of Primasius that, as applied to other beings, the name stands only abusively, only in a subordinate sense, explains not the real relations of the case (since the real connecting links of the thought remain unmentioned), and evades the objection, as does also the remark of Tholuck that the author presupposes that his readers would take the appellation given specially to an individual in a more exalted sense=πρωτότοκος. More relevant to the context is the explanation of Braun that men and angels bore the name not as a rightful inheritance entailed upon them in accordance with their nature, but as received only by adoption; yet even this is partly erroneous, partly imperfect. The decisive consideration is suggested by Ebr. and Del. There is, at the outset, an essential distinction between the dwelling of heavenly, yet still created beings, with Elohim, and being begotten by Jehovah. This latter form of expression which never occurs in reference to angels, indicates the relation in question as resting not on a natural, but on a theocratic basis. Precisely for this reason Jehovah can say, “My Son, my first-born is Israel” (Exodus 4:22), and: “My Father, shall ye call to me,” Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 31:20; Isaiah 1:3; Deuteronomy 14:1. Israel’s exodus was the day of His birth (Hosea 2:5); and the days up to the formation of the covenant on Sinai, those “days of old,” and of the “years of many generations” (Deuteronomy 32:7; Isaiah 51:9), constitute the youthful period of the Church (Hosea 11:1), in which Jehovah bore the Israelites as the father the son; in which He led them, and “taught them to go,” as a mother does her child (Hosea 11:3; Amos 2:10); in which He delivered the people from the house of bondage, and brought them to His own house that they might be closely united with Him forever, Exodus 3:7; Exodus 20:2. This is the time of bridal tenderness and of youthful love, when Israel became the Lord’s possession and His first-fruit, Jeremiah 2:2-3; Ezekiel 16:8; since Jehovah has Himself brought His people to Himself, and borne them on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 32:12), so that they became at once an independent nation and a church of the Lord, Exodus 19:3; Ezekiel 16:4; Ezekiel 20:5. Granting that thus not merely pious servants of Jehovah in general (Deuteronomy 14:1; Psalms 73:15; Proverbs 14:26), but pre-eminently theocratic rulers (Psalms 89:27), and specially those springing from the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:14) are called Sons of God, (nay, that even heathen Princes (Psalms 82:6), over whom God exercises judgment, are, in their official position, called “Gods” and “Sons of the Most High”), it follows, on the one hand, that, in the theocratic sense, the name in question has never been given to an angel; and it is clear, on the other, that on this theocratic basis the specific relation of Christ to God might disclose itself as a fact of revelation, and that a Christological interpretation of the Old Testament is possible without disturbing the historical foundation of the Messianic passages.
My Son—shall be to me a Son.—Through the two passages Psalms 2:0. and 2 Samuel 7:0. cited by him with like application, the author goes back to the germ of the Messianic prophecy in the narrower and stricter sense. When David designed the building of a temple on Mount Zion in fulfilment of Exodus 15:17; Deuteronomy 12:5, he received, through the prophet Nathan, the divine declaration that not he, but his son, after him, was to build a temple to Jehovah; nay, that for this seed God would, on His part, build a house, and establish His throne forever; that Jehovah would be to him a father, and he should be to Him a son, 2 Samuel 7:14. In a prayer of David accompanying this prophetic assurance, David expresses the conviction that the complete fulfilment of this prophecy is reserved to the remote future. The following words, however (2 Samuel 7:19), mean not: “and this in a man who shall be the Lord Jehovah Himself” (Ebr. and the older interpreters), but: “And this (hast Thou, spoken) after the manner of man (or as man speaks with man), Thou who art God the Lord.” In this condescension of God so fully does David recognize a prerogative bestowed upon him that in the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:17) he says: “Thou hast regarded me as a man of very high degree.” Thus a filial relation is described as that which the posterity of David will sustain to God, and this posterity conceived not merely in its aggregate or collective character, but individually. We hence refer the language immediately to Solomon who, with express reference to this prophecy, undertakes the building of the temple (1 Kings 8:17 ff.), and regards himself as this promised Son (1 Kings 5:5; 2 Chronicles 6:9), as does also David, 1 Chronicles 22:9 ff; 1 Chronicles 29:19. But through this seed the royal dominion is to be established forever to the house of David, 2 Samuel 7:16. And Solomon immediately declares (1 Kings 8:26-27) that this temple reared by him is not a house in which God may properly dwell, Men must of necessity, therefore, while David slept with his fathers, direct their eye farther into the future; as in of fact David himself, 1 Chronicles 17:17, beholds the promised seed in a long and blessed succession, and there is here no mention, as 2 Samuel 7:14 of transgressions, which God will visit with a paternal chastisement. For the question is not of the form, as such, of the kingdom, however glorious it might be, in fulfilment of the prediction Numbers 24:17 : “A star shall arise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel, and will dash in pieces the corners of Moab, and will destroy all the children of pride;” nor is mere descent from David sufficient to ensure the receiving of the everlasting kingdom, Psalms 61:7 ff., which God has confirmed to David with an oath, Ps. 18:51; Psalms 89:50 ff.; Psalms 132:11 ff. We have here rather to do with a theocratic kingdom under a theocratic ruler, who goes forth to battle amidst the offerings and prayers of his people (Psalms 20:0.), and who, with God as auxiliary, will annihilate all his enemies, but will righteously administer the princely gifts and prerogatives with which he has been entrusted, Psalms 21:0. Of this ruler David stands as a type, and he himself, at the close of his life, makes the declaration, 2 Samuel 23:4; “A righteous ruler in the fear of God is as the light of the sun which arises in a morning without clouds, like the tender grass which after the rain springs forth from the earth.” For this reason God builds again the fallen tabernacle of David as in the ancient times, Amos 9:1, after Israel has been sifted out as one sifts out grain, Hebrews 1:9. And the ruler through whom the dominion returns back to the “tower of the flock” of David, and to the “strong hold” of Zion, Micah 4:8, will not merely have his historical descent from the house of David, Micah 5:1, but as “the branch,” the “shoot,” “the stem from the root of Jesse,” Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10, the righteous branch (Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12), whom God will raise up to David (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24), is called even by the name of David, Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 37:24-25; comp. Hosea 3:5; and “the sure mercies of David,” Isaiah 55:3, are a designation of the Messianic salvation. As now this Majestic one, who issues from the nation itself, as a ruler from its midst, is to draw near unto Jehovah Himself, Jeremiah 30:21, nay, is to bear the name “Jehovah our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:16), it is clear that in the view of prophecy the Messianic salvation is linked to a son of David who is an “Anointed One” not merely in the sense in which even foreign kings as Cyrus, Isaiah 45:1, and Hazael, 1 Kings 19:15, receive this name as being instruments of Jehovah, and in which the theocratic kings in general bear it, 1 Samuel 2:10; Psalms 20:7; Psalms 132:10, etc., but in a special sense which includes, besides the kingly, also the prophetic, Isaiah 61:1, and the priestly anointing, so that Zechariah (Hebrews 6:12-13) may say: “Behold a man, Branch is his name, who will spring up in his place and build the temple of Jehovah,—he will bear kingly adornment, and will sit and rule upon his throne, and will be priest upon his throne, and there will be harmony between the two.” When, now, this Messiah is regarded as standing to God in the relation of Son to the Father, we can see in this only the full perfection of the Theocratic relation. The designating of the stock of Ephraim, Jeremiah 31:9, as the dear son and confidential child of God, shows that this language points to an intimate relation of communion and love. But that the term referred primarily not to subjective excellence, but to an objective relation, appears from Zechariah 13:7, where the wicked Pekah is styled by God “the man that is my fellow;” and while Exodus 4:22 shows that at the same time the origin of the nation in this, its peculiar relation to God, is, in the expression, “First-born Son,” referred back to God Himself, so Psalms 89:27-28 brings out with special clearness at once the dignity of the relation, involving the manifold prerogatives of the first-born, and also the traits of trustful devotion and hope, in the language: “He (David) will cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my strength, and the rock of my salvation. And I will make him my First-Born, supreme above the kings of the earth.” In the application of these expressions to the Messiah, their form, indeed allows the possibility of a deeper conception of His origin and of His issuing forth from God. But this deeper conception, which finds expression in the New Testament, we are not directly to transfer to the words of the Old. We find nowhere in the Old Testament a clearly developed and conscious apprehension of the eternal and immanent relation of the Son to the Father. Even Micah 5:1 scarcely declares definitely the preëxistence of the Messiah, or His eternal destination in the purpose of God; but from the completely humbled condition of the house of David, it simply assures us that beyond any known and historical record of the life and lineage of the Deliverer, who is to be born in the humble Bethlehem, we must go indefinitely back for His issuing forth, or origin, which is from ancient times, from “the days of old.” In a manner equally indefinite as to chronology, but significant and fraught with ominous import as to the facts, is in that passage indicated the time of His coming. For it is immediately added that Jehovah will give over the Israelites until the time when she who is with child shall bear her offspring. Among the attributes of the Messiah, too, is found, Isaiah 9:5, the title, ‘Father of eternity,’ but not the ‘Son of eternity.’ The ‘Son,’ Isaiah 9:8, stands parallel to the ‘child’ whose birth is to be looked for. Yet, on the other hand, the profounder New Testament conception has not merely the formal right of an external connection with the Old Testament form of expression, but the higher and essential right of an unfolding of those germs which the veil of the Old Testament only so conceals, that in their intrinsic nature they at the same time point beyond themselves and those present circumstances in which they had their origin. This is shown particularly in Psalms 2:0, here cited, which presupposes as an historical fact the prediction of Nathan, and displays its early acknowledged Messianic character in the fact that it speaks of a world-subduing power of the King whom Jehovah Himself has established upon Zion (erroneously translated by earlier scholars: ‘anointed at Zion’) and placed in the relation of Son to Jehovah—the King whom the author of the Psalms, Hebrews 1:12, styles “the Son”—and that this Son appeals for this relation, on which the futile endeavors of Princes and nations that rise up against Jehovah and His Anointed (Hebrews 1:2) will dash themselves to ruin, to an inviolable decree (חֹק), Hebrews 1:7 : “Thou art my Son: I have to-day begotten Thee.” Whether David (Acts 4:25), or some other prophetic bard, be the author of this anonymous Psalm, at all events the author distinguishes himself from the Anointed One of Jehovah, and makes the latter come forward personally and speak in the full consciousness of his relation (Hebrews 1:7-9), just as previously do the raging insurgents (Hebrews 1:3), and the Lord enthroned in heaven, who, kindling in wrath, will thunder down upon them the voice of His indignation (Hebrews 1:6). We may not, therefore (with Hupfeld), regard the Psalm, “whether originating in some definite historical event (as perhaps a triumphant military expedition), or, (as an independent product of the general spirit of the Theocracy), as a poetical glorification of the Israelitish kingdom in its peculiar Theocratic character, and with all the proud hopes which the national feeling associated with it,”—and appeal in support of our view to the Lyrico-dramatic character of the Psalm. In the view of the Psalmist the several speakers have the significance of real personalities. They express ideas, but are not personifications of ideas.
Inasmuch, now, as the prophecy of Nathan, which was given to David before Solomon was begotten (2 Samuel 12:24), is no fabricated declaration of God, but an actual fact of His historical revelation, and as the Anointed One in Psalms 2:0 appeals to an inviolable ordinance or decree of Jehovah, we are naturally led to look back to that prophecy, and to refer the ‘to-day’ in its historical import to that day in which that ‘seed’ was promised to David, who was to stand to God in the relation of Son, and who then on that day received his procreation, or, still better, his birth (יָלַד, rarely meaning ‘beget,’ but generally, ‘to be born’) as the Son of Jehovah. This destined seed of David is the “Anointed One” of the Psalmist, and expresses the consciousness of having been in the actual course of events introduced by Jehovah into this relation. It would not be a whit more unnatural to suppose that we have here a mere personified Messianic ideal employed in celebrating its own Divine origin, than to regard the “to-day” as a mere poetic element of figurative speech, or an expression indicating the certainty and reality of the Messianic idea. But neither does the “to-day” point to the day of the coronation of an Israelitish Prince, either Solomon (Bl.) or the Maccabean Alexander Jannæus (Hitzig), appealing in these words to the Divine right of the Theocratic dominion claimed by him. It points originally to the day of the introduction of the Messiah as the Theocratic ruler from the seed of David into the knowledge and recognition of God’s people through His word of revelation. From this historical connection we may understand how Paul, Acts 13:33, could apply this passage to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, especially if we compare Romans 1:4, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ (“who was constituted Son of God in power,” etc.); and with this remember, on the one hand, that the anointing as Theocratic king presupposes the bestowment of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 16:13), and that on the influence of the Spirit of God rests the Sonship, and, on the other, that Revelation 1:12 conceives the issuing forth of Christ for the conquest of the kingdoms of the world, as a birth from the church in which he has his abode. From this, now, it is clear that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is justified in citing this passage to prove a special Sonship of the Messiah such as has been attributed to no angel. This is here the specially important point with the author. To refer the “to-day” to an eternal and “metaphysical” generation of the Son on the part of God (Orig., Athan., Basil, Theoph., August., Primas., the older Lutheran Intpp. generally, Stein, Lün.), or to the day of the conception of Jesus with a reference to Luke 1:31 ff. (Chrys., Theod., Œc., Kuin., Böhm., Hofm.), or to the entrance of Jesus Christ into His kingly life of super-terrestrial glory, whether by His resurrection or by His ascension (Hil., Ambr., Calv., Grot., Schlicht., Calm., von Gerl., Del.), is partly an interpretative application, partly a deduction which the author himself, however, has not here made. [And yet, when we consider that in the application of the Psalm in question to our Lord, it applies to no event in His career so naturally as to His glorification after His resurrection, in fact applies, properly speaking, to no other period; and that Paul so applies it, Acts 13:33, as above noticed; and that the author, in the verse immediately preceding refers definitely to Christ’s taking His seat at the right hand of God after His resurrection, as in that immediately following he refers definitely to His second coming, it seems by no means improbable that he had in his mind that definite period in which the exalted and glorified Christ was proclaimed, and, as it were, constituted Son of God in power.—K.].
Hebrews 1:6. And when he shall again have introduced the first-born into the world, he saith.—The usage of our Epistle does not allow us to transpose πάλιν and make it the introduction of a citation, as even Bleek (recently followed by Reuss, L’épître aux Hebr., p. 199 ff.) maintained after Carpz., overlooking at the same time the correspondence of the Aor. Subj. with ὅταν to the Lat. perf. Fut. (Winer Gr., 6 Ed., p. 275 ff. [Hadley Gr. Gr., 747 a]). The language refers to the second introduction—yet in the future—of the First-born into the world (Lün.). The οἰκουμένη (world) is the inhabited earth on which the Son has already previously lived and labored. As the author has already spoken of this sojourn, and, at the same time, expressly testified of the preëxistence of the Son, the mode of expression is perfectly clear and unobjectionable. Even Greg. Nyss. (Contr. Eunom. Orat. III., p. 541) recognized the reference of the passage to the Second Coming, while Grot., Schlicht, Wetst., &c., refer it to a public and formal presentation of Christ after the Ascension; Bleek [Stuart] and Reuss to some otherwise unrecorded and like presentation previously to the incarnation; Chrys., Primas., Calv., Calov, Beng., to one accompanying the incarnation. The term πρωτότοκος is not identical in meaning with μονογονής (Primas., Œcum.). The latter epithet represents this as an exclusive relation which no being sustains to God, except the Messiah. The former specially signalizes His preëminence in the relations belonging essentially to the Messiah, whether to the creation (Colossians 1:15) or to the Theocratic children of God (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; Hebrews 2:10), partly in respect to the mode and time of His entrance on the stage of being, partly in respect to position, dignity and power. As the word stands here with no limiting epithet, it is to be taken without any special reference as a terminus technicus, founded on Psalms 89:28. To this Messianic King and Son of God, the angels, by Divine command, are to render adoring homage. Presupposing the certainty of the Second Coming, and referring exclusively to this, the author announces what God then ordains (λέγει, he saith). The Pres. tense brings before the eye as present that which is actually future, and springs from the conviction of its certainty. In the Parousia the author sees the final fulfilment of the prophecy, Deuteronomy 32:43, in which Jehovah, after a long withdrawal and concealment, when at length the power of the ungrateful people has utterly disappeared, revealing Himself in His compassion for their deliverance, is, at the same time, depicted as the God who brings fearful judgment on the heathen. To the words of the Heb. text, “Praise, ye heathen, His people; for He avenges the blood of His servants, and repays vengeance to His enemies, and brings expiation to His land, His people,” there is subjoined in all the MSS. of the LXX. a clause made up from Isaiah 44:23; Psalms 97:7, and Psalms 29:1 (springing probably from the liturgical use of the Song of Moses, Del.) in which the words here cited are found strictly after the Cod. Vat. and the Collection of the Old Testament Cantica appended to the Psalter in the Cod. Alex. (which in the text of Deut. has υἱοί instead of ἄγγ.)—for that the words are here given as a citation appears undeniably from the retention of the particle καί (‘And, Let all the angels, &c.’). The reference of the αὐτῷ to the Messiah, springs not from the fact that Jehovah Himself appears previously as the Speaker (Lün.); nor is it to be explained from the fact that Israel, who has previously been mentioned as the object of the praise of the heathen, bears elsewhere the designation of First-born, and thus what applies to Israel might, with abundant ease, be transferred to its Messianic King. It has its ground rather in the view, common to all the New Testament writers, that we are to apply to Christ as Sovereign of the Kingdom of God, all that in the Old Testament is in this relation declared of Jehovah. Προσκυνεῖν, with Dat. only in the later classical writers: earlier with Acc. (Bernh. Synt., p. 113, 266).
Hebrews 1:7. And in respect to the angels, indeed, he saith.—In contrast with the Messiah (μέν—δέ) the subordinate position of the angels is brought out by a declaration of God in the Scripture, in a twofold relation: 1, in that they are servants; 2, in that they are changeable and perishable (Lün.). Πρός, in reference, in relation to; so frequently (Win. Gram., § 49 h. [It is one of the most familiar usages of πρός with the Acc.; see Deuteronomy 1:0Deuteronomy 1:0 Ol. 4.—K.]. The connection in Psalms 104:4 seems to warrant our understanding it as affirming that winds and lightnings, like nature in general, are merely servants of God. As, however, עָשָׂה with double Acc. usually signifies not making into something (עָשָׂה לְ), but, making out of something, it were properly translated, “making His messengers out of winds, and His servants out of flaming fire.” Still we can hardly suppose that the Psalmist meant in this to express the idea that “God, in accomplishing the work which is wrought in the world through angelic agencies, gives to the angels the elemental wind and fire as the material in which they are, as it were, to embody themselves and assume a visible form,” Del.). It can, however, also be translated: “making winds out of His messengers, and flaming fire out of His ministers.” This reading is adopted in the Sept., which, by placing the Art. before άγγέλ. and λειτ., shows that it thus regards the angels; and our author, who, perhaps, with reference to Exodus 3:2, writes πυρὸς φλόγα, instead of the πῦρ φλέγον of the Sept. (the πυρὸς φλόγα of the Cod. Alex. is probably a later correction from our Epistle), evidently regards the passage as teaching that the angels have so little of substantive existence that they are obliged sometimes to clothe themselves in the changing garment of natural phenomena for the execution of the Divine commands, and, under the form of elemental agencies, to act with dynamical efficiency. Substantially parallel are Psalms 34:8; John 5:4. Also the Rabbins call the angels כּוֹחוֹת=δυνάμεις, and the Targum at Psalms 104:4 paraphrases “who maketh His messengers swift as winds, His ministers strong as flaming fire.”
Hebrews 1:8. But in respect to the Son, etc.—The Son is not directly addressed (Bengel), but the πρός is to be taken as in the verse preceding. And as matter of fact the words, Psalms 45:7, are not spoken to the Messiah, but were simply at an early period, as shown by the admission of the Psalm into the temple liturgy (לַמְנַצֵּחַ), referred to Him. The Psalm designated in the inscription as a song of love, and celebrating the marriage of Solomon or Joram with a foreign princess, is presented by an Israelite to the king (Psalms 45:2), who is addressed in Psalms 45:3-10, while in Psalms 45:11 ff. the discourse changes to the bride. The minstrel conceives the king, in his Theocratic position and function, as commissioner and vicegerent of Jehovah, who, by righteous and wise government, is to effect the destined coming of the Kingdom of God. Inasmuch as by the king in question this was but partially or not at all effected, the Psalm early past over as a mystical bridal song, to the marriage of the Messiah with His Church. The Messianic references also appear in the Psalm itself, in that it is said (Psalms 45:7) that His throne is Elohim=Divine forever and ever, or better, that His Divine throne is forever and ever: [or, better still, I think, even in the original Heb.: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” This is certainly the most natural construction of the sentence, and need not be shrunk from, as it is in perfect keeping with the context; and as, at all events, the idea is substantially contained in the context—K.]; in that it is said further that God (Psalms 45:17) will render His posterity princes over the whole earth, so that they should eclipse the splendor of their ancestors, and all nations should praise the King on account of His glory; and finally, in that some characteristic expressions of this Psalm are used in Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 61:3, directly of the Messiah as the Servant of Jehovah—a fact the more important, as אֵל גִּבּוֹר, mighty God, is elsewhere a customary designation of God Himself, e.g., Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalms 24:8. Since, therefore, the Theocratic King “sat on the throne of Jehovah” (1 Chronicles 29:23)—and the throne of God is eternal, Lamentations 5:19,—and Zech. prophesies (Hebrews 12:8) that the house of David shall yet be at the head of the nation, as Elohim, as a messenger of Jehovah (&יְהוָֹה כֵּמַלְאַךְ כֵּאלהִים), the author of our Epistle is entirely justified in interpreting the Psalm not as typically or indirectly, but as prophetically and directly Messianic, and in finding a proof of the Godhead of the Messiah in the fact that He who as King was, for His love of righteousness, exalted above all His fellows, received the appellation of Elohim. For while, indeed, the Kingly government, as representative of God ruling in majesty, is sometimes named Elohim (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7; Psalms 82:0.) the individual person never elsewhere receives this name. And he would all the more naturally infer the Godhead of the Messiah, inasmuch as love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity are special characteristics of the holiness of God, Psalms 5:5; Isaiah 61:8. Διὰ τοῦτο many erroneously explain (with August. and Thom. Aquin.) of the purpose and result of the anointing, referring it to the anointing of the Holy Spirit made in order that the anointed one might love righteousness. In the Heb. text it is a quality of the King that He loves righteousness; and this forms the ground for that fulness of joy which, as an anointing, has been poured over Him in richer measure than over His companions or fellows, i.e., the other kings of the earth. As this love of righteousness is to be conceived not as a state of passive repose, but as an active attribute, the Sept. employs the Aor. ἠγάπησας, ἐμίσησας (didst love, etc.), and from this it is still more clear that διὰ τοῦτο points back to this as the ground of the anointing, which also our author understands not of the crowning of Jesus, after His accomplished earthly career, as Heavenly King, and His exaltation thus above the angelic dwellers in heaven (Peirce, Olsh., Bl., Ebr., Alf., Lün.), but, in accordance with the original text, of the fulness of bliss which He, long since anointed as King of the Kingdom of God, has above His fellows. ‘Fellows’ Klee erroneously refers to “all creatures;” Chrys., Theoph., Œc., Beng., to “all men.” The ‘fellows’ (μέτοχοι) of the Messiah must certainly be anointed ones. Thus they are either Christians (Theodor., Calv., Camero, Schlicht.), or the prophets, high-priests and kings, anointed as types of Christ (Wittich, Braun, Cranm.), or, which seems best suited to the connection, Princes in general (Kuin., Ebr., Del.). The author does not develop the individual features of the passage in their possible application, but lays the whole emphasis on the repeatedly recurring term, “God,” which, in an equally exclusive manner with the term “Son,” is given in the Divine word of Scripture to the Messiah.
Hebrews 1:10. And: Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay, etc.—The καί introduces in the closest connection of thought with the preceding, a citation from Psalms 102:26-28 illustrating the point that all aid to the people of God must come, not through any creature instrumentality, but through God the Creator. The Psalm is a lamentation, written at a late period of the exile, in which the poet, profoundly penetrated by the wretchedness of his people, expects and entreats deliverance and preservation from God, who, as the eternal one, even amidst that change and revolution of things over which He presides, still approves Himself as unchangeably the same, as הוּא, αύτός. The Psalmist is hence so sure of deliverance that he declares that it “will be told to coming generations,” how God looked down from heaven, and heard the groaning of the captives (Psalms 102:19 ff.). In the fact that help comes only from the eternal and unchangeable God, while even the heavens, as they were originally formed by Him, are also transformed by Him, lies our author’s warrant for referring the cited words to the Son by whom God hath made the worlds. The author is not merely expressing in scriptural phraseology what, in his own belief, and, in the presumed belief of his readers, may be justly said of Jesus (Hofm., Schriftb., I. 150). There would then be wanting the connecting link which, according to the tenor of Scripture, warrants his statement. We are not at liberty to transfer to the Son all the attributes ascribed to the Father. Hence we do not say with Theod. of Mops. (ed. Fritzsche, p. 162) that the Old Test. Scripture when it speaks of God, always speaks of the Father without exclusion of the Son. Equally unsatisfactory is the explanation that the interpolated κύριε of the Sept. (wanting in the Heb.) has, as being the customary designation of Jesus in apostolic times, seduced the author into his interpretation (Böhm., Lün.); for Hebrews 8:8 ff; Hebrews 12:6 ff. forbid our charging the author with any such ignorance. The link of connection is found rather (as in all the other citations), in the fact that the original Psalm itself expressed a positive hope in that earnestly longed for revelation of the salvation of Jehovah which was to be accomplished only in the Messiah. (Similarly Hofm., “Prophecy and Fulfilment,” II. p. 33, Del.). Κατ̓ ἀρχάς, Psalms 119:152 is not=ἐν , but corresponds to ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς, and expresses also in the classics extension downwards in time (Kühn., § 605, 1. Jelf, II. § 629, 2). In Heb. we have the more general לְפָנִים=formerly. Διαμένειν indicates the abiding in one condition through all the vicissitudes of time, Psa 119:90; 2 Peter 3:4. περιβόλαιον denotes anything thrown around (1 Corinthians 12:15, probably a veil), commonly the garment thrown around like a mantle. Storr finds in ἀλλαγήσονται the idea that the heavens, which are works of God’s hands or fingers (Psalms 8:4), will be exchanged like a garment, in that God will make a new heaven and a new earth. This form of conception is certainly made prominent Isaiah 65:17; Isa 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1; for the Scripture, while indeed it teaches a τέλος of the world, Matthew 24:14, a change of its present σχῆμα, 1 Corinthians 7:31, a passing away of heaven and earth, Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:33; 1 John 2:17; Revelation 20:11, a dissolving of the elements, 2 Peter 3:12, yet by no means teaches an annihilation of its existence, but rather a regeneration, a new birth of the world, with the transformation naturally attending it. Yet here the other form of conception seems the preponderating one, which makes heaven an apparent tent-cloth spread out over the earth, Isaiah 40:22; Psalms 104:2, without, however, requiring us with Heinrichs to resolve the ἔργα into the products of the loom. Here their transformation consists in their becoming antiquated, Psalms 102:27. The reading ἑλίξεις, then, involves the thought that they are rolled up, and laid aside. This rolling up, Isaiah 34:4; Revelation 6:14, is compared with that of a book; and Isaiah 34:4 it is said of the heavenly hosts that they fall off as the leaves of the vine, and as the withering of the fig-tree; while in like manner in Isaiah 51:6 they are said to pass away like smoke. But the Lord is unchangeable in His being, and absolutely imperishable. In the Hebrew we have: “And Thy years have no completion,” i.e., their end never comes. In the Greek: “Thy years shall never fail,” i.e., they shall never cease or discontinue. Ἐκλείπειν is used as intransitive also in the classics.
Hebrews 1:13. Sit on may right hand, etc.—Εἶπε (Hebrews 1:5) used of the declaration made absolutely, and once for all, (he said), and λέγει (Hebrews 1:6) of the declaration which is now or continuously being made (he saith, he is saying), are here exchanged for εἴρηκε of the declaration which stands before us as fixed in Scripture (he hath said). Del.
The metabatic δέ which stands in the third place after a preposition with its case (Hartung, Partikellehre I. p. 190) introduces as the last proof—challenging in its interrogative form the assured assent of the reader—the elevation of the Messiah to a joint sovereignty with God in absolute triumph over His foes, in contrast with angels who, though spiritual beings, have but the place and destination of servants. True, the angels, as inhabitants of heaven, also enjoy the immediate presence of God, and the proverbial expressions, “he is good as an angel of God,” 1 Samuel 29:9; “he judges righteously as an angel of God,” 2 Samuel 14:17; “he is wise as an angel of God,” 2 Samuel 14:20; 2 Samuel 19:27, point to their extraordinary intellectual and moral endowments. But organized as an heavenly host, 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18,—whence we are told of an encampment of angels (Genesis 32:1-2), and find chariots and horses assigned to them (2 Kings 6:17),—they encompass the throne of Jehovah—partly in the form of an advisory assemblage (Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Psalms 89:8); partly praising God and His works in holy joy, Psalms 29:1; Psalms 103:20; partly as servants standing ready to execute His commands, Job 4:18; Job 15:15, as heroes of strength, Psalms 103:20; Psalms 148:2, and as Jehovah’s (Joshua 5:14) “host of the high ones,” Isaiah 24:21. But to the Messiah is ascribed not merely sitting beside or in presence of the all-ruling God, but sitting at His right hand. The former expression would have designated Him only as theocratic ruler; as David, after the removal of the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion, had his throne in immediate proximity to the throne of Jehovah. But the latter elevates Him above every species of principality and dominion to participation in the divine majesty itself. The historical incidents in which this typical Psalm had birth, stand connected apparently (Hebrews 1:5 ff.) with the victory of David over the Syrians and Ammonites. But the promise of the elevation spoken of (Hebrews 1:1) appears as an oracular or prophetic utterance (נְאֻם) of Jehovah, whose fulfilment is still in the future (Hebrews 1:4), and is directed to the Lord of the minstrel (אֲדֹנִי, my Lord); we are, therefore, entirely justified in assuming a widening of the prophetic view beyond the historical and typical incidents, and in finding in the “Lord” not the David sung by the people (Ewald), but the Messiah whom David recognized as at once his Lord and his Son (Matthew 22:41 ff.); especially as this king, whom the people, born like dew from the womb of the morning, clad in sacred garments, are to follow into the conflict (Hebrews 1:3), is not merely to conquer His enemies upon the whole earth (Hebrews 1:6), but as priestly king (Hebrews 1:4), is to stand in a relation (to be hereafter more fully considered), such as could be predicated of no historical ruler of Israel. The custom of setting the foot on the neck of a conquered enemy, belongs to earlier Israel, Joshua 10:24; 1 Kings 5:17. To later Greek belongs ὑποπόδιον, and the frequent Hellenistic formula ἐκ δεξιῶν which implies the rising conspicuously above that which is on the right hand.
Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, etc.—In this summing up of the series of thoughts developed from Hebrews 1:4, the emphasis lies partly on πάντες, all, which includes even the angelic leaders, partly on λειτουργικά, which designates these spirits as standing in sacred service. For the term points, not in a general way, to service obligatory by virtue of public office, but specially to that connected with the public Levitical worship, Exodus 31:10; Numbers 4:12; Num 7:5; 2 Chronicles 24:14. Hence also the Rabbins frequently designate certain angels as םַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת. No allusion to the heavenly sanctuary can be inferred from the choice of the expression: it simply refers back to Hebrews 1:7. The Pros. Part. ἀποστελλόμενοι habitually sent forth, commissioned, brings out the proper characteristic of the angels, or that habitus, that habitual form of action, which springs from their nature, and corresponds to their destination. The term διακονία refers not directly to their rendering service to men; (for, apart from the fact that the angels are not placed in subordination to men, the construction would require the Dat. τοῖς μέλλουσι (Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:15), but to the ministerial relation in which they stand to God, and in which God employs them for the good of those who are to inherit the salvation procured by His Son. This special signification of σωτηρία (though without the article) is implied alike in the context, and in the verb κληρονομεῖν, inherit. It implies neither deliverance from danger in general (Michael., Schleusn., Böhm., Kuin.); nor again the actual conferring of eternal salvation upon its inheritors through the ministrations assigned by God to the angels (Lün.); but simply the proper office of the angels, as those whom God sends forth for the benefit of godly men. The term σωτηρία, employed in designating this salvation, presupposes a deliverance from ruin wrought by “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. God has not merely communicated His word to the prophets in the manifold forms of His revelations of Himself: nor has He merely in the prophets and by their mouth spoken formerly to the fathers. He also speaks to us in Holy Scripture. The development of the precise doctrine of inspiration is yet a problem for theology; but the church has to confess that in the Holy Scripture she hears God Himself speak, and that she feels herself bound, in all that respects salvation, to adhere implicitly to the Word of God as uttered in the Scripture.
2. The old canon of Scripture interpretation: Novum Testamentum in vetere latet; Vetus Testamentum in novo patet, springs from a correct apprehension of the true essential relation of the two parts of the economy of salvation. The sacred writers constantly emphasize the divine purpose, as that which determines the events of history; yet this not formally as mere purpose, which might seek its end irrespective of the course of things; but as that divine determination, which of itself, in a concrete manner, brings about its result. When this determination is prophetically uttered, this prophetic word is an expression of the divine counsel, thought and will, which is already stamped with the impress of human history, but primarily as but a form, which awaits in the future its ultimate fulfilment, and reaches this by an actual carrying out in history of the divine purpose. The historical facts which gradually lead to this final and proper fulfilment of prophecy, bear, for this reason, a typico-prophetic character. They represent typically, and for precisely this reason, but partially and defectively, the idea that is to be realized; yet they must be regarded as evidences of its truth, and of its infallible and already incipient realization. They are interwoven with historical conditions which as yet contain no adequate realization of the divine thought. It might hence be half suspected that nothing but the caprice or the unwarranted fancies of a later time had discovered this relation of purely historical facts, or of earlier oracular utterances, to those later events which they typify and predict. Unquestionably, too, we are warranted in insisting on the historical foundations of prophecy, and on its direct reference to immediate events, as against an unhistorical and, as it were, soothsaying prophecy. But the exaggeration of this feature leads to a mode of dealing with events which knows no prophecy, to a history with no positive divine guidance and control, with no real ideas, with no true future of redemption. The New Testament writers, on the other hand, see bursting through these enveloping folds of history the germs and tendencies of divine ideas, and, in their illustrative citations, mainly exhibit the symbolical facts, in a direct and immediate application to the fulfilment already effected through Christ. Hence they, on the one hand, neither take the facts and statements of the Old Testament, in their original import as referring to immediate events, nor on the other, put upon them an allegorical and mystical interpretation, which rests upon no sure basis; but so interpret them that they appear as members of that system of divine ideas and acts, by which, in the progress of revelation, the original Gospel which announced “the seed of the woman,” is gradually, step by step, announcing and accomplishing itself until its final and complete fulfilment in the coming of the Son of God in the flesh. The occasional use of Rabbinical forms of citation and modes of interpretation in no way destroys this essential relation, but stands connected with the national position and special culture of the respective writers: compare (from earlier times) Andr. Kesler de dictorum V. T. in N. allegatione 1627; also in Hackspan dispp. theol. et phil. syllogæ, p. 563 sq.: Oporinus, demonstratio N. T. ex. V. T. p. 60 sq., and Surenhusius, Βίβλος καταλλαγῆς, in quo, secundum veterum theol. Hebr. formulas allegandi et modos interpretandi, conciliantur loca V. in N. T. allegata, Amst. 1713.
3. The true and perfect deity of Jesus Christ is to be proved a. from the name “Son of God,” bestowed on Him in an exclusive sense, and as designating a specific relation, which, along with essential unity, points to a hypostatical distinction of persons, for which reason He is also directly called “God:” b. from His works of creating, upholding, redeeming, governing, and renovating the world: c. from the perfection of the metaphysical, intellectual and moral attributes involved in that specific relation to God, and attesting themselves in all these several spheres of action: d. from the adoring worship which belongs to Him, and is rendered Him even by the Princes among the heavenly angels, a fact which, within the sphere of the monotheistic faith, is of the utmost significance.
4. The doctrine of the eternity of the world is equally to be repudiated with that of its future annihilation. Its transformation into a new and nobler form of existence is effected by means of the same Lord through whom it was created, and that according to divine purpose and will, so that its destruction also is to be referred to no exhaustion of originally supplied powers, wrought by age and the natural decay of years, nor to any regularly recurring cycles of revolution, by which, at definite intervals and according to unchangeable laws, creation is resolved into its elements, and again remoulded into new forms and combinations for other destinies.
5. The anticipated reintroduction of the First-born into the inhabited world forms the goal of the ways of God in history, and promises a revelation of glory to which, in hope and faith, we are to look; which, in the patience of the saints, we are humbly to await, and for which, in the sanctification of our persons, as children of God born anew to be brethren in Jesus Christ, and called to be fellow-heirs with Him, we are earnestly to prepare, that we may join the adoring worship of the angels.
6. The invocation of angels, as ministers to our need and mediators of salvation, is no less irrational and absurd, than the denial of their existence and of their employment in the service of God for the benefit of the heirs of salvation, is unscriptural. The position here assigned to them excludes any rendering to them of worship, and, on the other hand, their spiritual nature remits to the province of imagination and art all sensible representations of their form; while yet their employment in the service of God renders possible their transient appearance and agency on earth in the most various forms.
7. The means which God employs for the protection and support of the pious in this wicked world, are numerous in proportion as He is unfathomable in wisdom, unlimited in power, and inexhaustible in love. Besides the forces, creatures, and instrumentalities, which belong to the sphere of earth and human action, He has equally at command, for the exigencies of even our temporal life, heavenly and angelic agencies, and that in unmeasured abundance and untold variety.
8. The establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth in the form of a kingdom of grace under the regal dominion of the Messiah, who, after accomplishing the mission assigned to Him below, is now forever exalted above all powers to the throne of God, is, on the one hand, a fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies; on the other, a preparation for the consummated dominion of God over all the world, and itself again a prophecy of the kingdom of glory. The Christocracy is the fully unfolded, world-embracing form of the Theocracy; and in His consummated glory the Exalted One becomes, for all eternity, the medium of that communion with God which, as the Humiliated One, He originally procured. “The language, ‘Sit at my right hand,’ means, in a word: exalted highly and placed as glorious King—not over the towers of Jerusalem, nor over the empire of Babylon, Rome, Constantinople, or the entire earth—which were indeed a great power;—nay, not over heaven, stars, and all that our eyes can behold, but exalted to a power far higher and wider. Seat thyself—such is His language—beside me on the lofty seat where I sit, and be equal to me. For by sitting beside Him, he means not, sitting at His feet, but at His right hand, in the same majesty and power with Himself, which is nothing less than a Divine power” (Luth. at Psalms 110:0.).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The consolation of the Church of God in troublous times is: 1, God’s words of encouragement in the Holy Scripture; 2, the Government of Jesus Christ on the throne of God; 3, the inheritance of blessedness to which it is destined.—The right which Jesus Christ has to us as, a. our Creator; b. our Saviour; c. our Ruler.—The worship which we owe to Jesus Christ: 1, on the ground of the Divine command in the Holy Scriptures; 2, after the example of the heavenly spirits; 3, as citizens of the Kingdom of God.—What summons us Christians ceaselessly to living gratitude to God? 1, the destination to bliss, which God’s word vouchsafes to us; 2, the protection which He bestows upon us by powers and servants sent forth from heaven; 3, the gracious aid which He renders to us in the Church of His Son.—The dominion which Jesus Christ exercises: 1, in its character, a. as a Divine dominion; b. for the conquest of the world; c. by employing the powers and resources of the heavenly realm; 2, in its establishment by His peculiar relation, a. to God, as Son; b. to the world, as Lord of all things: c. to the Church, as Saviour.—The high dignity which we Christians have: 1, as children of God, who are ransomed from the perishable nature of this world; 2, as brethren of Christ, who, as First-born, sits upon the throne of God; 3, as heirs of blessedness, for whose good angels are sent forth in the service of God.
Von Bogatzky:—As God has anointed Christ for His threefold office, so are we also anointed by Christ with His Spirit: 1, that as priests of God, we may offer up ourselves, and pray for one another; 2, that as kings, we may conquer all our enemies; 3, that in the fellowship of the prophetic office of Christ we may teach and admonish one another.—Laurentius:—Eternal life is an inheritance, and is thus not obtained by works.—If the holy angels minister to believers, how shall not one believer much more minister to his fellow?—Hiller:—The Church with which the Lord would betroth Himself in faith, had, in the word, the plighted vow of His eternal love and truth; in His Spirit the bridal pledge, and in the shadowy rites, the image and portrait of its King.—The Sacred Scripture is God’s testimony of His Son, a. who will come into the world; b. who has come into the world; c. to bless and save sinners.—This testimony of Scripture must be believed, a. because it is a testimony; b. because it is God’s testimony; c. because it is such a testimony of the Son of God.
Rieger:—The more righteously a kingdom is administered, the greater is its permanency.—He whose heart God inclines to righteousness, and whom He inspires with a disposition to hate unrighteousness, even though it may find a lurking place, as it will, in his own members, is by the one rendered fit for the inheritance of God’s Kingdom, and by the latter gains enlarged space for the Spirit and its glad anointing.—As from the beginning of the ways of God in the creation, so also from the goal and end in which all will issue in the ultimate deliverance and renewal of the creation, we can derive much that appertains to the glory of the Son of God.
Starke:—As we mortals have a changeful nature, not only material, but immaterial, which latter, in the waste and repair of sense, must experience daily an ever increasing change, we should strive all the more industriously after the true unchangeableness which Christ has brought to light by His Gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10.—God changes neither in His being nor in His words; hence we can securely commit ourselves to Him.—Christ, the Son of Man, is truly exalted upon the throne of God. If thou wilt not believe this, thou wilt hereafter see and experience it to thine eternal sorrow, Psalms 2:12.—Are the holy angels servants whom God sends out for our service? How, then, should we stand in fear of them, thank God for their protection, and in genuine holiness of heart render ourselves worthy of it?—High honor of believers that they are ministered to by Thrones, Principalities and Powers! Praise God; grieve not the angels; lead an angelic life, and thou wilt be borne by the angels where thou wishest eternally to be, Luke 15:10; Luke 20:36.
Spener:—From the Sonship of God and regeneration comes all the blessedness which we receive as an inheritance, Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:7; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18.
Heubner:—Christ is the most blessed King. The earthly prosperity of worldly rulers bears no comparison with the heavenly delight which Christ, as the exalted Son of God, enjoys. He enjoys the bliss of being in most intimate communion with God, and of being loved and adored by hosts of ransomed souls, by all spirits.—The whole spirit world is a realm of servants of God. A ruler without subjects possesses no kingdom.—The pious are protegés of heaven, of the angels. Both are one under Christ.
Stier:—Where remain the thrones of all kings on earth amidst the revolution of things, at the end of the days? They are swept away and removed; but the Divine throne of the One Anointed above all anointed ones continues and stands unto eternity. Where in the hands of sinful men is there a sceptre of sovereignty whose honor has not been in some way stained with unrighteousness and error? But the gracious and peaceful sceptre of the One Righteous and Blessed is truly a sceptre of rectitude.—The Son rules on the eternal throne of God, Himself God and Lord: the spirits and personal powers of heaven serve as creatures. The Son has taken His seat in the reassumption of His original Divine power; the angels are sent forth from His and the Father’s seat. They are those who perform priestly ministration in all their allotted activity and service. He is and remains without end of years, the Lord whom they adoringly serve.
[Owen:—“Whatever our changes may he, inward or outward, yet Christ, changing not, our eternal condition is secured, and relief provided against all present troubles and miseries. The immutability and eternity of Christ are the spring of our consolation and security in every condition. Such is the frailty of the nature of man, and such the perishing condition of all created things, that none can ever obtain the least stable consolation but what ariseth from an interest in the omnipotency, sovereignty, and eternity of Jesus Christ”].
Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 1:8. Καί introducing the second portion of the passage from the Psalm is found in Sin, A. B. D.* E.* M. 17. Itala according to Cod. Clarom. and Vulg. according to Cod. Amiat. In the following words the lect. Rec. should be retained.
Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 1:9.—Sin. reads with the Cod. Alex. of the LXX. ἀδικίαν. The remaining MSS. except some minusc, read with the Cod. Vat. of the LXX. ἀνομίαν [ἀδικίαν was perhaps written in accidental conformity to the preceding δικαιοσύνη.—K.]
Hebrews 1:11; Hebrews 1:11.—Instead of the pres. διαμένεις Bleek, following Itala., Vulg. etc., accents διαμενεῖς as future.
Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 1:12.—Sin. A. B. D.* E. have further the clause ὡς ἱμάτιον after αὐτούς.
Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 1:12.—The ἀλλάξεις of the original is found also in Sin. D.* 43. The remaining Codd. read ἑλίξεις, perhaps with an indistinct reference to Isaiah 34:4.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25