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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 12

Hebrews 12:2. κεκάθικεν] Elz.: ἐκάθισεν. But the perfect, adopted into the Editt. Complut. Genev. Plant., as also by Bengel, Griesb. Matth. Lachm. Scholz, Bleek, Tisch. Bloomfield, Alford, Reiche, and others, has the preponderant attestation of all the uncials, most cursives, and many Fathers in its favour; and is likewise preferable on internal grounds, since it represents the having sat down as a result extending into the present time.

Hebrews 12:3. In place of the Recepta εἰς αὑτόν or εἰς αὐτόν, which has the support of D*** K L, almost all the cursives and many Fathers, there is found εἰς αὐτούς in א***, with Theodoret ( τὸ εἰς αὐτοὺς ἀντὶ τοῦ εἰς ἑαυτούς), and in Cod. 17; εἰς ἑαυτούς, however, in א*, in the Peshito (quantum sustinuerit a peccatoribus, qui fuerunt adversarii sibi ipsis), in D* E*, together with their Latin version (recogitate igitur, talem vos reportasse a peccatoribus in vobis adversitatem), and in some mss. of the Vulgate; while the Sahidic and Armenian vss. entirely omit the words, and Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. 1 and 8, de Wette write εἰς ἑαυτόν. The latter, which is attested by A and the Vulgate (in semetipsum), indirectly also by D* E*, is to be held the original reading; the plural, on the other hand, to be rejected as devoid of sense.

ἀντικατέστητε] In place of this, Tisch. 2 writes, after L* 46, al., Chrys. ms. Theodoret, Theophyl. ms.: ἀντεκατέστητε. This form of the word (see on the twofold augment, Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 69 f.) must, it is true, be adopted upon strong attestation, but is not in a position here to set aside the Recepta ἀντικατέστητς, where ἀντεκ. has against it the preponderating testimony of A D E L** א, etc. Rightly, therefore, has Tisch. restored ἀντικ. in the editt. vii. and viii.

Hebrews 12:5. Elz.: υἱέ μου. D*, some seven cursives, as also the Latin translation in D E, have only υἱέ. Bleek has on that account suspected μου, and enclosed it within brackets. External authority, however, does not warrant our deleting the pronoun. The occasion for its omission might be afforded by the occurrence of a similar initial letter in the following word, or by the text of the LXX. in which it is wanting.

Hebrews 12:7. εἰ παιδείαν ὑπομένετε] Instead of this, Matth. Lachm. Tisch. 1, 7 and 8, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 758), and Alford read εἰς παιδείαν ὑπομένετε, and Griesbach has placed εἰς upon the inner margin. In favour of εἰς pleads, it is true, the greatly preponderating authority of A D E (?) K L א, of more than thirty cursives, Vulg. It. Syr. Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Arm. Damasc. Procop., while εἰ is found only with Chrys. Theodoret, Theophyl. Slav. (?), and, as it seems, in many cursives. Nevertheless εἰς is inadmissible. For, whether εἰς παιδείαν is taken still with παραδέχεται, or, as Hofmann will have it, with μαστιγοῖ,—whereby, however, that which follows would become deformed,—or it be combined with ὑπομένετε, in any case παιδεία must be understood in the sense of “education,” whereas of a certainty, alike from that which precedes as from that which follows, the signification “chastisement” becomes a necessity. Consequently the Recepta εἰ παιδείαν ὑπομένετε is to be looked upon as that written by the author. The originality and correctness of this reading (defended also by Reiche, p. 115 sqq.) becomes manifestly apparent from the fact that upon its recognition Hebrews 12:7-8, in accordance with the usual accuracy of diction prevailing in the Epistle to the Hebrews, are in perfect mutual correspondence as type and antitype, alike as regards the protasis as also the apodosis.

In place of the Recepta τίς γάρ ἐστιν, we have, with Lachm. and Tisch., after A, א* Vulg. Sahid. Orig., to write merely: τίς γάρ.

Hebrews 12:8. Elz.: νόθοι ἐστὲ καὶ οὐχ υἱοί. With Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. 1 and 8, Delitzsch, Alford, we have to transpose into: νόθοι καὶ οὐς υἱοί ἐστε, after A D* and D*** [in Cod. E all the rest is wanting from πάντες, Hebrews 12:8, to the close of the Epistle] א, 17, 37, 80, al., Vulg. It. Chrys. (codd.) and Latin Fathers.

Hebrews 12:9. Elz.: οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον. But A D* א (D* א*** with the addition of δέ) have οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον. Rightly preferred by Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. Alford.

Hebrews 12:15. In place of the received διὰ ταύτης, we have to adopt, with Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. 1 and 2, and Alford, after A, 17, 67** 80, 137, 238, Copt, etc., Clem. Chrys. (comment.): διʼ αὐτῆς; and in place of the Recepta πολλοί, with Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, after A א, 47, Clem. Theodoret: οἱ πολλοί. The article was lost sight of in the homoioteleuton πολλοί.

Hebrews 12:16. Lachm. (and Tisch. 2 and 7, as well as Alford, have followed him therein!) has placed in the text, from A C, the form of the word ἀπέδετο; but this, although not altogether unexampled (see Buttmann, Gramm. des neutestam. Sprachgebr. p. 40 f.), is manifestly corruption of the Recepta ἀπέδοτο, which is confirmed by the Cod. Sinait.

On the other hand, the reading ἑαυτοῦ, given by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, merits, on account of its more decided attestation by A C D** and D*** א*, the preference over the Recepta αὑτοῦ or αὐτοῦ.

Hebrews 12:18. Elz.: ψηλαφωμένῳ ὄρει. ὄρει, furnished by D K L, in like manner, as it seems, by almost all cursives, Vulg. (ed. Clem.) Arab. Polygl. Slav. Athan. Theodoret, Damasc. Oecum., is wanting indeed in A C א, 17, 47, in many mss. of the Vulg., in Copt. Sahid. Syr. Arab. Erp. Aeth., with Chrys. (comment.), Theophyl. Mart. pap. Bed., and was already suspected by Mill (Prolegg. 1071) as a gloss, and then deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 1 and 8, as likewise by Alford, is, however, indispensable, and is naturally called for by the opposition ἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε σιὼν ὄρει, Hebrews 12:22 (comp. also τοῦ ὄρους, Hebrews 12:20), as well as the confusion of idea in a πῦρ ψηλαφώμενον. Rightly, therefore, has Tisch. 2 and 7 placed ὄρει again in the text.

καὶ ζόφῳ] Elz.: καὶ σκότῳ. Against A C D* א* 17, 31, 39. al. Suspected by Griesb. Rightly rejected by Lachm. Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. Delitzsch, Alford. σκότῳ was introduced from the LXX. Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22.

Hebrews 12:19. In place of the Recepta προστεθῆναι, Lachm. in the stereotype edition had adopted προσθεῖναι, after A. Rightly, however, has he retained the Recepta in the larger edition. This reading is borne out by C D K L א, by, as it seems, all the cursives and many Fathers.

Hebrews 12:20. After λιθοβοληθήσεται, Elz. adds further: βολίδι κατατοξευθήσεται. Against all uncials (A C D K L M א), most min., all translations, and many Fathers. The words, deleted by Griesbach, Scholz, and all later editors, are a gloss from LXX. Exodus 19:13.

Hebrews 12:23. Elz.: ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἀπογεγραμμένων. But the decisive testimony of A C D L M א, 37, al. m., Syr. Copt. Vulg. and many Fathers demands the transposition adopted by Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. Alford, and others: ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς.

Hebrews 12:24. κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι] Elz.: κρείττονα λαλοῦντι. Against A C D K L M א, most min. Syr. Arr. Copt. Sahid. Armen. Vulg. al., and many Fathers.

Hebrews 12:25. Elz.: ἔφογον τὸν ἐπί τῆς γῆς παραιτησάμενοι χρηματίζοντα, πολλῷ μᾶλλον. Instead of this, however, we have to read, with Lachm. Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. (who, however, in the edit. vii. has given the preference to the verbum simplex ἔφυγον, over the verbum compositum ἐξέφυγον) Alford: ἐξέφυγον ἐπὶ γῆς παραιδησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίζοντα, πολὺ μᾶλλον, in that ἐξέφυγον (already approved by Grotius) is demanded by A C א* 57, 118, al. (Vulg. D, Lat. Slav. Epiph. in cant. cantic.: effugerunt), Cyr. Chrys. Philo Carpas. Oecum.; the deleting of the article τῆς before γῆς (already omitted in the Editt. Erasm. Complut. Colin., afterwards also by Bengel, Griesb. Matth. Scholz) is required by all the uncial mss. (including א), most min., and very many Fathers; further, the placing of the article τόν only after παραιτησάμενοι is required by A C D M א* Cyril. Damasc.; finally, πολύ is required by A C D* א, Sahid.

Hebrews 12:26. Elz.: σείω. But A C M א, 6, 47, al., Syr. Vulg. Copt. Sahid. Slav. Athan. Cyril. Cosm. Andr. Areth. have σείσω. Approved by Grotius, recommended by Griesb., rightly adopted by Lachm. Scholz, Bleek, Tisch. Alford, Reiche.

Hebrews 12:27. Recepta: τῶν σαλευομένων τὴν μετάθεσιν. Better accredited, however (by A C א*), is Lachmann’s order of the words: τὴν τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν, which on that account is to be preferred. Bleek and Tisch. 1 have entirely rejected the article τήν. It is wanting, however, only in D* and M.

Hebrews 12:28. The reading ἔχομεν, which Calvin, Mill (Prolegg. 750), Heinrichs, and others approve, and which Luther also followed in his translation, is unsuitable, and insufficiently attested by K א, more than twenty min., most mss. of the Vulg., Aeth. Cyr. Antioch., while the reading ἔχωμεν rests upon the testimony of A C D L M, etc., Copt. Syr. Aeth. al., Chrys. Theodoret, Damasc. al., as also a ms. of the Vulg.

In that likewise which follows, the indicative λατρεύομεν, which Griesbach has placed on the inner margin, stands in point of external attestation below the Recepta λατρεύωμεν. The former is found in K M א, about fifty min., with Athan., in mss. of Chrys., with Oecum. and Theophyl. On the other hand, A C D L, very many min. and many Fathers have λατρεύωμεν.

At the close of the verse the Recepta reads: μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ εὐλαβείας, instead of which, however, we have, with Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. and Alford, to adopt the reading (recommended also by Griesb.): μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους, after A C D* א* 17, 71, 73, 80, 137, Copt. Sahid. Slav. ed. (al.: μετὰ δέους καὶ εὐλαβείας. Vulg.: cum metu et reverentia. D, Lat.: cum metu et verecundia).


Verse 1

Hebrews 12:1. Conclusion from the total contents of chap. 11.

In the animating summons expressed Hebrews 12:1-2, the addition διʼ ὑπομονῆς, appended to the main verb τρέχωμεν, has the principal stress; comp. Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:1. Of the participial clauses, however, the first and third are of the same kind, and are distinguished in equal degree from the second; as accordingly the former are introduced by participles of the present, the latter by a participle of the aorist. The first and third contain a ground of animation to the διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν; by the second, on the other hand, the historic preliminary condition to the διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχειν is stated. The euphonious τοιγαροῦν elsewhere in the N. T. only 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

καὶ ἡμεῖς] we also, namely, like the saints of the Old Covenant described chap. 11.

τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων] since we have so great a cloud of witnesses around us, or: since so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us. ἔχοντες περικείμενον is intimately connected together, and is a periphrasis of the mere verbal notion, inasmuch as a genitive absolute: τοσούτου περικειμένου ἡμῖν κ. τ. λ., might have been employed instead. νέφος is a figurative designation (also of frequent occurrence with classical writers) of a densely compact crowd. Theodoret: πλῆθος τοσοῦτον, νέφος μιμούμενον τῇ πυκνότητι. Comp. Hom. Il. 4:274: ἅμα δὲ νέφος εἵπετο πεζῶν, al. Eurip. Hec. 901 f.: τοῖον ἐλλάνων νέφος ἀμφί σε κρύπτει. Phoeniss. 1328 ff.: πότερʼ ἐμαυτὸν πόλιν στένω δακρύσας, ἣν πέριξ ἔχει νέφος τοσοῦτον, ὥστε διʼ ἀχέροντος ἰέναι; Herod, viii. 109: νέφος τοσοῦτον ἀνθρώπων. Similarly also is the Latin nubes employed. Comp. e.g. Li v. 35. 49: rex contra peditum equitumque nubes jactat.

Those meant by the τοσοῦτον νέφος μαρτύρων are the persons mentioned chap. 11. When, however, these are characterized as a cloud of witnesses, the author does not intend to imply that these witnesses are present as spectators at the contest to be maintained by the readers (Hammond, Calmet, Böhme, Paulus, Klee, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Bisping, Hofmann), but represents them thereby as persons who have borne testimony for the πίστις which he demands of his readers,(113) and who consequently have become models for imitation to the readers as regards this virtue.

To this signification of μαρτύρων points with necessity the whole reasoning immediately foregoing. For as διʼ ὑπομονῆς, Hebrews 12:1, attaches again the discourse to ὑπομονῆς γὰρ ἔχετε χρείαν κ. τ. λ., Hebrews 10:36, so also the contents of chap. 11, which stand in close connection with the latter, are recapitulated by the words: τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων. On account, however, of this close connection of the first participial clause, Hebrews 12:1, with chap. 11., μαρτύρων cannot be otherwise interpreted than after the analogy of the characterization there made: μαρτυρηθέντες διὰ τῆς πίστεως, Hebrews 11:39; ἐν ταύτῃ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν, Hebrews 11:2; διʼ ἧς ἐμαρτυρήθη, Hebrews 11:4; and μεμαρτύρηται, Hebrews 11:5, in that only the slight distinction is made, justified in a natural manner by the varying form of designation, that while the persons named were before represented as those to whom a laudatory testimony was given in scripture on account of the πίστις manifested by them, they now appear as those who, by their conduct, have delivered a testimony in favour of their virtue of πίστις, and consequently have become patterns of the same for others. On account of this intimate coherence of the first participial clause, Hebrews 12:1, with chap. 11, a more nearly-defining addition, τῆς πίστεως to μαρτύρων, was, moreover, superfluous. That, however, μαρτύρων is in reality employed with reference to the πίστις which the author demands of his readers, is further shown by τῆς πίστεως, Hebrews 12:2, from which it is clearly apparent that the notion πίστις is still before the mind of the writer at Hebrews 12:2. It is therefore to be supposed that the discourse turns round to the figure of the race—to which, indeed, περικείμενον would already be appropriate, but to which this participle is not at all of necessity to be referred—only with ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι κ. τ. λ.

ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα] having put off every hindrance (opposed to the context, Bengel and others: every kind of pride or arrogance; Hofmann: all earthly care and sorrow). The man contending in the race avoided, in order to keep his body light, oppressive clothing and the like. In the application, the clinging of the readers to external Judaism is certainly, in particular, thought of as the hindrance. Yet the expression is quite general, and sin in the strict sense of the term, which is immediately after quite specially emphasized, is likewise included thereunder. For καί is not, with Grotius and others, to be taken explicatively, but further brings into relief, in the form of a parallel classification, a definite species, taken, on account of its special importance, out of the before-named genus.

Sin is termed εὐπερίστατος. This adjective exists only here in the whole range of Greek literature. It is most naturally derived from the middle voice: περιΐστασθαι, to place oneself round, or encompass. The sense is therefore: sin, which easily surrounds us and takes us captive. So the majority. Others derive εὐπερίστατος from the active περιΐστημι, then taking the word either in a passive or active sense. The explanation of Ernesti (ad Hesych. gloss. sacr. p. 140 sq.), that “as περίστατον denotes that which is thronged about by people who come to admire it, and ἀπερίστατος is said of a man about whom others do not stand, thus, who is destitute of friends; so εὐπερίστατος characterizes sin as rich in friends and patrons, as generally esteemed and liked,” has against it the consideration that from εὐπερίστατος, in this acceptation, the idea of that which is public and manifest is inseparable; but this idea is out of keeping with the notion of sin, which is just as often perpetrated in secret as in public. The interpretation: sin, which is easily to be gone round, encircled, or avoided (Chrysostom: τὴν εὐκόλως περίστασιν δυναμένην παθεῖν λέγει· μᾶλλον δὲ τοῦτο· ῥᾴδιον γάρ, ἐὰν θέλωμεν, περιγενέσθαι [get the better of] τῆς ἁμαρτίας; Pseudo-Athanasius, de parabol. Script. quaest. 133: εὐπερίστατον εἶπε τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, ἐπειδὰν μόνιμον στάσιν οὐκ ἔχει, ἀλλὰ ταχέως τρέπεται καὶ καταλύεται; Clericus, Morus, Ewald p. 172), would yield an unsuitable thought, since it could not possibly be the design of the author to represent the power of sin as small. The active explanation: seductive or enticing (Carpzov, Schulz, Stein), has against it the fact that all the other derivatives from ἵστημι, such as στατός, ἄστατος, etc., have an intransitive or passive signification. Others, again, in their explanations of εὐπερίστατος, follow the significations of the substantive περίστασις: sin, which easily plunges us into danger (Er. Schmid, Raphel, Bengel, Storr; comp. already Theophylact: διʼ ἣν εὐκόλως τις εἰς περιστάσεις ἐμπίπτει· οὐδὲν γὰρ οὕτω κινδυνῶδες ὡς ἁμαρτία); which brings with it many hindrances (Kypke, Michaelis, Dindorf, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Bloomfield); which has circumstantias (surroundings), whereby it commends itself and seduces us (Hammond); quae bonis utitur rebus circumstantibus, i.e. quae habet suisque affert bonam fortunam atque voluptates (Böhme).

The ἁμαρτία is sin in general; not specially: the sin of apostasy from Christianity. On account of ἀποθέμενοι, the ἁμαρτία is thought of as a burden which we bear within us as a propensity, or about us as an encumbering garment.

τρέχειν ἀγῶνα] to run a race. Comp. Herod. viii. 102; Dion. Hal. vii. 48; Eurip. Orest. 875.

διʼ ὑπομονῆς] Romans 8:25.


Verses 1-13

Hebrews 12:1-13. In possession of such a multitude of examples, and with the eye uplifted to Jesus Himself, are the readers with stedfastness to maintain the conflict which lies before them, and to regard their sufferings as a salutary chastisement on the part of that God who is full of fatherly love towards them.


Verse 2

Hebrews 12:2. Second factor in the encouragement. Not only the example of the O. T. witnesses for the faith, but also the example of the Beginner and Perfecter of the faith, Christ Himself, must animate us to a persevering τρέχειν.

ἀφορῶντες] in that we look forth (for our encouragement and for our ardent imitation). ἀφορᾶν (as, immediately after, τελειωτής) only here in the N. T.

εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν ἰησοῦν] to the Beginner and Perfecter of the faith, Jesus, i.e. to Jesus, who has begun or awakened in us the Christian faith, and carries it on in us to perfection, or to the close (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, and the majority), which last particular then naturally includes the attaining of salvation. But it is going too far when one finds—as Grotius, Bloomfield, and many others—in τελειωτής the figure of the βραβευτής, the judge or umpire of the games, who, on the completion of the contest, awards the prize of victory; for the expression itself does not warrant this special application. According to Bengel, Baumgarten, Schulz, Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Grimm (Theol. Literaturbl. z. Darmst. Ally. Kirch.-Zeit. 1857, No. 29, p. 667), Nickel (Reuter’s Repertor. March 1858, p. 208 f.), Riehm (Lehrbeyr. des Hebräerbr. p. 326), Maier, Moll, Kurtz,—comp. also Theodoret: κατὰ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον ἀμφότερα τέθεικεν,

τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸς καὶ τελειωτὴς ἰησοῦς has the sense: Jesus, who in manifestation of the faith has preceded us by His example, and in the manifestation of this faith has carried on the work unto perfection.(114) But the virtue of faith the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews could not possibly predicate of Christ in like manner as he does of the Christians. From the lofty conception he had of the person of the Redeemer, he must, like the Apostle Paul, regard Him by whom the divine decrees of salvation were to be realized, as object of the πίστις. More than this, τελειωτής can be used only transitively, not also intransitively. ἀρχηγὸς τῆς πίστεως stands, therefore, in a sense quite analogous to that of the ἀρχηγὸς τῆς σωτηρίας, Hebrews 2:10; and the exemplary characteristic in Jesus, to which the author directs his readers, is not already expressed by His being designated as ἀρχηγὸς καὶ τελειωτὴς τῆς πίστεως,—which, on the contrary, is only designed to make us aware of the assistance which Christ affords the Christians in the τρέχειν,—but first is expressed by means of the following relative clause.

ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς] who for the (heavenly) joy lying ready for Him, the obtaining of which should be the reward of His sufferings. So Primasius, Piscator, Schlichting, Grotius, Bengel, Whitby, Schulz, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 357), Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner, and the majority. ἀντί, as Hebrews 12:16. For χαρά, however, comp. Matthew 25:21. Comprehended under the προκει΄ένη αὐτῷ χαρά is also the joy over the completed work of redemption, with its blessings for mankind; yet it is erroneous, with Theodoret ( χαρὰ δὲ τοῦ σωτῆρος τῶν ἀνθρώπων σωτηρία), to limit it thereto. The sense is not: instead of the heavenly glory which He already had as the premundane Logos, and which He might have retained, but which He gave up by His incarnation (Peshito, Gregory Nazianz. in Oecum.: ἐξὸν μένειν ἐπὶ τῆς ἰδίας δόξης τε καὶ θεότητος, οὐ μόνον ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν ἄχρι τῆς δούλου μορφῆς, ἀλλὰ καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπέμεινεν κ. τ. λ.; Beza, Nemethus, Heinrichs, Ewald). Nor is it: instead of the earthly freedom from suffering, which, as the sinless One, He could have procured for Himself (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Zeger, Jac. Cappellus, Calov, al.); or: instead of the joys of the world, which Jesus, had He willed it, could have partaken of (Calvin, Wolf, Carpzov, Stein, Bisping, al.). For the immediate concern of the author must evidently be to point to the prize which Christ was to receive in return for His sufferings, in order thereupon further to indicate that to the readers likewise, upon their persevering in the conflict, the palm of victory will not be wanting. A further consideration is, that also the closing member of the verse, which is closely attached by means of τέ to that which precedes, has for its subject-matter still the thought of the reward conferred upon Christ.

ὑπέ΄εινεν σταυρόν, αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας] endured the cross, in that He contemned the infamy. For the death of the cross was crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium (Cic. Verr. 5. 64).

ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν] and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Comp. Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 10:12.


Verse 3

Hebrews 12:3. γάρ] is here, on account of the imperative, the corroborative: Yea! (comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 415 f.); and ἀναλογίζεσθαι, in the N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, denotes the comparing or reflecting contemplation. Bengel: Comparatione instituta cogitate: Dominus tanta tulit; quanto magis servi ferant aliquid?

ἀντιλογία, however, denotes nothing else than contradiction; and what is meant is, the contending against Christ’s divine Sonship and Messianic dignity. The notion of opposition and ill-usage in act, which is ordinarily assigned to it (still also by Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Alford, and Maier) along with that of contradiction, this word never has. Even ἀντιλέγειν, to which appeal is made, has nowhere the sense of a hostile resistance manifesting itself in outward actions. See Meyer on Luke 2:34; John 19:12; Romans 10:21.

τοιαύτην] such, i.e. one so great, sc. that He was compelled to undergo the ignominious death of the cross (Hebrews 12:2), in comparison with which your sufferings are something insignificant.

ἵνα μὴ κάμητε κ. τ. λ.] that ye may not grow weary, desponding in your souls. ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν is to be conjoined with ἐκλυόμενοι (Beza, Er. Schmid, Hammond, Kuinoel, Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Hofmann, al.), not with κάμητε (Luther, Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Storr, Schulz, Böhme, and others), since otherwise something of a dragging character would be imparted to the participle.


Verse 4

Hebrews 12:4 ff. The sufferings which have come upon the readers are only small, and a salutary chastisement at the hand of God.

οὔπω μέχρις αἵματος κ. τ. λ.] Not yet unto blood, i.e. to such extent that bloodshed should result, that a martyr’s death(115) among you should be a necessity (as such death had but just now been mentioned of the O. T. saints, chap. 11, and of Christ Himself, Hebrews 12:2), have ye offered resistance in your contest against sin. The author has, as Hebrews 10:32 ff., only the present generation of Palestinian Christians, to whom he is speaking, before his eyes. It is otherwise at Hebrews 13:7.

πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν] belongs to ἀνταγωνιζό΄ενοι (against Bengel, who conjoins it with ἀντικατέστητε), and ἁ΄αρτία stands not in the sense of οἱ ἁ΄αρτωλοί, Hebrews 12:3 (Carpzov, Heinrichs, Stuart, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Maier, Kluge, Grimm in the Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1870, p. 43, al.),—for there would exist no reason for the avoiding of this concrete expression,(116)—but is the inner sin, conceived of as a hostile power or person, which entices the man (visited with sufferings and persecutions) to an apostasy from Christianity. Comp. ἀπάτῃ τῆς ἁμαρτίας, Hebrews 3:13.

In ἀντικατέστητε ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι—both verbs in the N. T. only here—the author has, what is wrongly denied by de Wette and Maier (in like manner as Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:26), passed over from the figure of the race to the kindred one of the combat with the fists.


Verse 5-6

Hebrews 12:5-6. καὶ ἐκλέλησθε κ. τ. λ.] And have ye forgotten, etc.? The words are most naturally to be taken, with Calvin, Beza, Piscator, Grotius, Braun, Jos. Hallet, Heinrichs, Böhme, Stuart, Lachmann, Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Ewald, as a question. If we would, as is usually done, take them as an assertory statement (“and ye have forgotten”), the reproach contained in the same would come out more strongly than is consonant with the mild character of the discourse in this section. The verb ἐκλανθάνεσθαι, as presently after ὀλιγωρεῖν, in the N. T. only here.

τῆς παρακλήσεως] the consolation (or else: the animating address).

ἥτις ὑμῖν ὡς υἱοῖς διαλέγεται] which, of a truth, speaks to you as to sons. By virtue of ἥτις (in place of which there is no sufficient ground for writing, with Hofmann, τις) the following consolatory utterance ( υἱέπαραδέχεται), adduced from Proverbs 3:11-12,—from which also Philo, de congressu quaer. erudit. gr. p. 449 D (with Mangey, I. p. 544 f.), reasons in a similar manner,—is pre-supposed as one sufficiently familiar to the readers. By διαλέγεται, however, the same is personified; since διαλέγεσθαί τινι denotes conversing with any one (here, as it were, the answering in reply to the complaint breathed forth by the readers).

υἱέ μου] With the LXX. only: υἱέ.

μὴ ὀλιγώρει παιδείας κυρίου] despise not chastening from the Lord, i.e. be thankful for it, when the Lord chastens thee.

μηδὲ ἐκλύου ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ ἐλεγχόμενος] nor despond when thou art corrected of Him (by means of sufferings which He imposes upon thee).


Verse 6

Hebrews 12:6. παιδεύει] him He chasteneth. So in the LXX. Cod. A, and fifteen other MSS. The remaining manuscripts of the LXX. have, what is probably the original reading: ἐλέγχει.

μαστιγοῖ δὲ πάντα υἱὸν ὃν παραδέχεται] and scourges every son whom He receives (adopts as His). According to present punctuation, the words in Hebrew read: וּכְאָב אֶת־בֵּן יִרְצֶה, and (He chastens) as a father the son in whom he delights. Instead of כְּאָב, the LXX., however, read כָאֵב (to cause pain).


Verse 7-8

Hebrews 12:7-8. Application of the word of scripture to the readers.

εἰ παιδείαν ὑπομένετε] If ye endure chastening. The opposite of this is formed by the εἰ δὲ χωρίς ἐστε παιδείας, Hebrews 12:8. The emphasis falls, therefore, upon παιδείαν; and to explain ὑπομένειν as a “stedfast” or “persevering” enduring (Theodoret, Erasm. Paraphr., Stein, Ebrard, Bloomfield, al.) is inadmissible.

ὡς υἱοῖς ὑμῖν προσφέρεται θεός] God deals with you as with sons, treats you as sons. By as harsh a construction as possible (comp. ὑμῖν ὡς υἱοῖς, Hebrews 12:5), Ebrard will have ὡς taken as a conjunction, and translates,—espousing the incorrect reading (see the critical obs.) εἰς παιδείαν,—“for your instruction endure manfully, even as (or when, so long as) God offers Himself to you as to sons!

For the genuine Greek formula προσφέρεσθαί τινι, which does not occur elsewhere in the N. T., see examples in Wetstein.

τίς γὰρ υἱὸς κ. τ. λ.] sc. ἐστίν: for what son is there, i.e. where is there a son, whom the father chastens not? This comprehending together of τίς υἱός (Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Alford, Maier, Kurtz, Ewald) is more natural than that one should regard τίς alone as the subject: who is indeed a son, whom, etc. (Delitzsch, Moll, and others); or, with Böhme, as the predicate: of what kind is a son, whom, etc.


Verse 8

Hebrews 12:8. εἰ δὲ χωρίς ἐστε παιδείας] If, on the other hand, ye are free from chastisement (have been spared it). Wrongly Theodoret: εἰ τοίνυν καὶ ὑμεῖς τὴν παιδείαν ἐκκλίνετε.

ἧς μέτοχοι γεγόνασιν πάντες] of which all (sc. whom God—like the saints of the O. T. enumerated chap. 11—has really acknowledged as His sons) have become partakers. That the relative clause contains no statement of entirely universal import, applicable also to the relation towards the earthly fathers (Camerarius, Beza, Limborch, al.), but, on the contrary, one affecting exclusively the relation towards God, is clear from the parallel with Hebrews 12:7, as well as from the perfect γεγόνασιν.

νόθοι] bastards, begotten out of wedlock, for whose weal or woe their father is not wont to be greatly concerned.


Verse 9-10

Hebrews 12:9-10, a second argument follows. The readers must not become disheartened at the sufferings imposed upon them. For not only is there to be seen, in the fact of their having to struggle with afflictions, the manifestation that God treats them as His children; it is, moreover, the heavenly Father who visits them with this chastening, and that for the very reason that He has their own highest good in view.

εἶτα] then, further, deinde. Not to be taken as an interrogative particle, with Alberti, Raphel, Heinrichs, and others. For otherwise the discourse would have proceeded in the second half of the verse with καὶ οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον, instead of the mere οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον. Ingeniously, but without constraining reason, does Reiche (Commentar. crit. p. 121) conjecture εἴ τε instead of εἶτα, while quite unsuitably Hofmann will comprehend εἶτα with the closing words of Hebrews 12:8.

τοὺς τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν πατέρας] fathers of our flesh, i.e. our bodily, earthly fathers.

εἴχομεν παιδευτὰς καὶ ἐνετρεπόμεθα] we had as chasteners, and heeded them, i.e. we gave heed when we had them as chasteners. Inasmuch as the author is addressing grown-up persons, the imperfects characterize the period of the bygone youth (we used to give heed). The combining of ἐντρέπεσθαι, however, with the accusative of the object is in later Greek style the ordinary one. With the earlier authors the genitive is used.

The absolute statement εἶταἐεντρεπόμεθα takes the place of a hypothetical premiss (comp. Hebrews 10:28 f.; 1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:21, al.), and the whole verse contains an argument a minore ad majus.

οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον ὑποταγησόμεθα τῷ πατρὶ τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ ζήσομεν;] shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and (i.e. so that we in consequence thereof) live? By πατὴρ τῶν πνευμάτων naturally God is meant. With Hammond, to think of Christ, is forbidden by the connection (comp. Hebrews 12:7). To the Father of spirits, i.e. God, who is Father in regard to the higher spiritual domain of life. That God, as the Creator of all things, is the Final Cause also of the bodily life of man, is a fact not excluded by the expression; only that which is the main thing as concerns God’s fatherly relation is here emphasized. πατὴρ τῶν πνευμάτων does not designate God as Creator of the souls, in the sense of Creatianism as opposed to Traducianism (Calvin, Estius, Justinian, Beza, Jac. Cappellus, Drusius, Carpzov, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 678; Kurtz, al.). Nor as the One who makes provision for our souls (Morus, Dindorf, Kuinoel, Böhme, and others). Just as little is πνεύματα to be understood of the angels (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact: τῶν ἀσωμάτων δυνάμεων), or the gifts of the Spirit (Theodoret: πατέρα πνενμάτων τὸν πνευματικὸν πατέρα κέκληκεν ὡς τῶν πνευματικῶν χαρισμάτων πηγήν. Comp. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact). It is possible there was present to the mind of the author the characterization of God, LXX. Numbers 16:22; Numbers 27:16, as a θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ πάσης σαρκός.

καὶ ζήσομεν] Declaration of the result of this obedience, in the form of a parallel arrangement. ζῆν of the enjoyment of the everlasting life of bliss, as Hebrews 10:38; Romans 8:13, and frequently.


Verse 10

Hebrews 12:10. Justification of the πολὺ μᾶλλον, Hebrews 12:9, by presenting in relief the diversity of character borne by the disciplinary correction of the earthly fathers from that of the heavenly Father. The emphasis falls upon κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς and upon ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον, while πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας is an unaccentuated addition, which belongs equally to both members of the sentence.(117) For if πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας belonged only to the first member, and served for the indication of a further particular of diversity, an antithetic addition corresponding to the same could not have been wanting in the second member. But to find such antithesis, with Bengel, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Hofmann, and others, in εἰς τὸ μεταλαβεῖν κ. τ. λ., is inadmissible, since these words are only an epexegetical amplification of ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον. πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας denotes, therefore, not the period of the earthly life, brief in comparison with eternity (Calvin, Estius, Justinian, Cornelius a Lapide, Schlichting, Limborch, Er. Schmid, Bengel, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bisping, Maier, Kluge, al.), in such wise that the thought would be expressed, that the earthly fathers aimed in connection with the παιδεύειν at a benefit or gain merely in regard to the earthly lifetime; God, on the other hand, at a gain for eternity,—by which at any rate a false opposition would arise, since the first half of the statement could not be at all conceded as a universally valid truth. Rather do the words affirm that the chastisement on the part of the natural fathers (and not less that on the part of the heavenly Father) continued only a few days, lasted only during a brief period. In a sense quite corresponding is πρός employed immediately after, Hebrews 12:11, as well as 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 7:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:17, and very frequently elsewhere.

κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς] according to their judgment, which was not always an erroneous one.

The imperfect ἐπαίδευον stands there for the same reason as the imperfects, Hebrews 12:9.

δέ] sc. πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας παιδεύει.

ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον] with a view to that which is salutary (our infallible welfare).

εἰς τὸ μεταλαβεῖν τῆς ἁγιότητος αὐτοῦ] in order that we may be made partakers of His holiness, may become ever more free from sin, and in moral purity ever more like God Himself.


Verse 11

Hebrews 12:11. The blessing of every chastening. Comp. Diog. Laert. v. 18 (cited by Wetstein): τῆς παιδείας ἔφη (sc. Aristotle) τὰς μὲν ῥίζας εἶναι πικράς, γλυκεῖς δὲ τοὺς καρπούς.

πᾶσα παιδεία] comprises the human and the divine chastening; yet the author in connection with the second clause ( ὕστερον δὲ κ. τ. λ.) has no doubt mainly the latter before his mind.

πρὸς μὲν τὸ παρὸν κ. τ. λ.] seems indeed for the present (so long as it continues) to be no object of joy, but an object of grief; later, however (i.e. when it has been outlived), it yields to those who have been exercised by it (comp. Hebrews 5:14) the peace-fraught fruit of righteousness.

δοκεῖ] characterizes the opinion of man; since the matter is in reality very different.

δικαιοσύνης] Genitive of apposition: peaceful fruit, namely righteousness, i.e. moral purity and perfection. It is called a peaceful fruit because its possession brings with it peace of soul. δικαιοσύνης is not to be understood as a genitivus subjecti (Piscator, Owen, Stuart, Heinrichs, Stein, and others): a peaceful fruit which is yielded by righteousness; for surely παιδεία is mentioned as the subject producing the καρπὸς εἰρηνικός.


Verse 12-13

Hebrews 12:12-13. Animating conclusion of the exhortation to stedfastness continued up to this point.

διό] Wherefore, sc. because the sufferings you have to undergo manifest to you that ye are sons of God, and are salutary for you.

τὰς παρειμένας χεῖρας καὶ τὰ παραλελυμένα γόνατα ἀνορθώσατε] make firm again the slackened hands and the weary knees. Comp. LXX. Isaiah 35:3 : ἰσχύσατε χεῖρες ἀνειμέναι καὶ γόνατα παραλελυμένα. Sirach 25:23 : χεῖρες παρειμέναι καὶ γόνατα παραλελυμένα. Comp. also Deuteronomy 32:36 : εἶδε γὰρ παραλελυμένους αὐτοὺς καὶπαρειμένους.

Theophylact: δεικνύων ἀπὸ μεταφορᾶς τῶν κυριωτέρων μερῶν, ὅτι ὅλοι παρειμένοι εἰσὶ τῇ ψυχῇ· αἱ μὲν γὰρ χεῖρες ἐνεργείας, οἱ δὲ πόδες κινήσεως σύμβολον.

ἀνορθοῦν] literally, to make the crooked straight again; then in general to restore anything to its original right or perfect condition. [Cf. Luke 13:13; Acts 15:16.]


Verse 13

Hebrews 12:13. καὶ τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς ποιήσατε τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν] and make straight tracks with your feet, i.e. advance with straight course upon the Christian path of life you have once entered upon, without bending aside to the right or to the left; that is to say, without mingling up that which is Jewish with that which is Christian, or suffering yourselves to be enticed to a relapse into Judaism. Incorrectly do Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 789), Alford, Kluge, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, Hofmann, and others explain τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν: for your feet. For, apart from the fact that this interpretation destroys the harmony with the figure employed at Hebrews 12:12, that of the παρειμέναι χεῖρες and παραλελυμένα γόνατα, the author cannot possibly intend to say that the readers themselves have first to prepare the way for themselves. The way has already been prepared for them by Christ (Hebrews 10:20), and it is now only a question of their making advance upon the same in the right way.

For the expression, which accidentally forms a hexameter(118) (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 595), comp. LXX. Proverbs 4:26 : ὀρθὰς τροχιὰς ποίει σοῖς ποσί.

ἵνα μὴ τὸ χωλὸν ἐκτρπῇ, ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον] that not (even) that which is lame may turn aside from the way, but rather he healed. τὸ χωλόν denotes not the suffering member in an individual, but within the larger community, thus the member of the Christian communion who is lame or halting, i.e. who makes only a tottering progress in Christianity, and falls away from the same if he does not gain a support in the rest of the community advancing in a straight course [Galatians 2:14]. On τὸ χωλόν, as figurative designation of the wavering between two different bents of belief, comp. LXX. 1 Kings 18:21 : ἕως πότε ὑμεῖς χωλανεῖτε ἐπʼ ἀμφωτέραις ταῖς ἰγνύαις; how long do ye halt upon both knee-joints (sides), i.e. do ye hesitate between the service of Jehovah and that of Baal?

To the verb ἐκτρέπεσθαι, Fr. Junius, Grotius, Wolf, Carpzov, Heinrichs, and many others, finally Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Kurtz, Ewald, on account of the opposition ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον, assign the passive signification: to be dislocated. But justified by the usage of the language (see Wetstein at 1 Timothy 1:6) is the middle signification alone: bend aside (from the way), turn aside. This signification is therefore to be maintained here also, and ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον continues in an abbreviated form the figure employed, in that its meaning is: but rather through the animating example given by the whole body, may he cured of his wavering, and briskly advance with the rest.


Verse 14

Hebrews 12:14. ΄ετὰ πάντων] with all, even the non-Christians. Comp. Romans 12:18. For limiting the πάντες, with Michaelis, Zachariae, Storr, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Tholuck, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, to the members of the Christian community, there exists no reason; and it has against it the mode of expression, since we should then have expected μετʼ ἀλλήλων.

καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν] the general virtue, of which the endeavour after concord is only a particular outflow. ἁγιασμός, namely, is here sanctification or moral purification in general; too restricted is the reference of Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Jac. Cappellus, Bengel, Bloomfield, and others, who explain it as—what at 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (see at that place) is certainly the correct explanation—the virtue of chastity.

τὸν κύριον] By this expression some understand God (comp. Matthew 5:8), others Christ (comp. Hebrews 9:28). A certain decision is impossible. The beholding represents in an emblematic manner the idea of innermost union, and the whole is a designation of the Messianic blessedness in the consummated kingdom of God.


Verses 14-17

Hebrews 12:14-17. Exhortation to concord and to growth in holiness.


Verse 15-16

Hebrews 12:15-16. Further amplification of διώκετε τὸν ἁγιασμόν, Hebrews 12:14. That endeavour after holiness is not only to be in active exercise in the case of each one with regard to his own person; it is also, in equal degree, to be watchful that the Christian brethren preserve themselves free from immorality.

The subject in ἐπισκοποῦντες consists, as in διώκετε, Hebrews 12:14, with which the participle is conjoined, of all members of the congregation, not specially the presidents thereof (Hebrews 13:17) or ἐπίσκοποι (Böhme); and ἐπισκοπεῖν signifies: to direct one’s view to a thing with close attention or solicitude.

μή τις ὑστερῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ] is no independent clause, so that would have to be supplemented (so the majority, as also Böhme, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Ebrard, and Maier). For the choice of the tempus periphrasticum would be here unnatural and justified by nothing.(119) The words are a mere introducing of the subject, which is then further resumed by μή τις ῥίζα κ. τ. λ., in such wise that ἐνοχλῇ forms the common predicate to both parts of the sentence introduced by ΄ή (Heinrichs, Bleek, de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, Kurtz, Ewald).

΄ή τις ὑστερῶν κ. τ. λ.] that no one, in that he remains far from the grace of God, i.e. in that he turns the back upon the grace of God which was afforded him in Christ, by immorality withdraws from it, and loses it (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The unusual ὑστερεῖν ἀπό τινος is consequently by no means equivalent in signification to the ordinary ὑστερεῖν τινος. While the latter would represent the coming short of the possession of the divine grace absolutely, as an objective result, the former includes the idea of voluntary activity or of one’s own culpability. Comp. Sirach 7:34 : ΄ὴ ὑστέρει ἀπὸ κλαιόντων. Analogously stands also the mere ὑστερεῖν, Numbers 9:7 : ΄ὴ οὖν ὑστερήσω΄εν προσενέγκαι τὸ δῶρον κυρίῳ. Numbers 9:13 : ἄνθρωπος, ὃς ὑστερήσῃ ποιῆσαι τὸ πάσχα.

΄ή τις ῥίζα πικρίας ἄνω φύουσα ἐνοχλῇ] that, I say, no root (plant) of bitterness (of which the fruit is bitterness)—i.e. a man(120) in whom, in consequence of his unholy walk, the bitter fruit of everlasting perdition is ripening—growing up (as in the case of a plant, of which the root was before covered with earth) cause trouble or disquiet (to the congregation). The words are moulded after the LXX. of Deuteronomy 29:18, according to the corrupted text of the Cod. Alexandr.: μή τις ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν ῥίζα πικρίας ἄνω φύουσα ἐνοχλῇ καὶ πικρὶα (distorted from the original text contained in the Cod. Vatic.: μή τις ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν ῥίζα ἄνω φύουσα ἐν χολῇ καὶ πικρίᾳ). That the reading in the Cod. Alex. of the LXX. only arose from a regard to our passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Jos. Hallet, Wolf, Delitzsch, Hofmann, and others) is not probable, since the author elsewhere in the O. T. citations follows the form of text in the Cod. Alex.

πικρίας] Chrysostom: οὐκ εἶπε πικρά, ἀλλὰ πικρίας· τὴν μὲν γὰρ πικρὰν ῥίζαν ἔστι καρποὺς ἐνεγκεῖν γλυκεῖς, τὴν δὲ πικρίας ῥίζανοὐκ ἔστι ποτὲ γλυκὺν ἐνεγκεῖν καρπόν· πάντα γάρ ἐστι πικρά, οὐδὲν ἔχει ἡδύ, πάντα πικρά, πάντα ἀηδῆ, πάντα μίσους καὶ βδελυγμίας γέμοντα.

ἐνοχλεῖν] in the N. T. only here (and Luke 6:18?).

καὶ διʼ αὐτῆς μιανθῶσιν οἱ πολλοί] and by it the many (the multitude or the great mass) become defiled (namely, by infection), i.e. likewise led astray into an unholy walk. Comp. Galatians 5:9.


Verse 16

Hebrews 12:16. ΄ή τις πόρνος] sc. ἐνοχλῇ) (comp. Hebrews 12:15): that no fornicator trouble you. Yet we may, with Grotius, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Alford, Maier, Kurtz, and the majority, supplement merely : that no one be a fornicator. πόρνος is to be taken in the natural sense, as Hebrews 13:4. The taking of it as a figurative designation of one who is unfaithful to Christ, in order to hold unlawful intercourse with Judaism (Böhme, Tholuck, Ebrard, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 155, and others), is unsuitable, because Hebrews 12:16 is nothing else but the continued amplification of the διώκετε τὸν ἁγιασμόν, Hebrews 12:14.

βέβηλος ὡς ἠσαῦ] or a profane person (a man of unhallowed, common mind, centred upon the earthly), as Esau. ὡς ἠσαῦ belongs only to βέβηλος. It is not to be referred also to πόρνος (so still Delitzsch and Alford), since nothing is related in scripture concerning a πορνεία of Esau (more, it is true, the later Rabbis have to tell us; see Wetstein at our passage), and the elucidatory relative has respect only to βέβηλος.

ὃς κ. τ. λ.] Comp. Genesis 25:33.

ἀντί] indication of the price, as Hebrews 12:2.

τὰ πρωτοτόκια] the birthright with its privileges. Classic writers employ for it πρεσβεία or τὸ πρεσβεῖον.


Verse 17

Hebrews 12:17. Warning reference to the pernicious result of Esau’s behaviour. Comp. Genesis 27

ἴστε] not imperative (Vulgate: scitote; Luther: wisset aber), but indicative, since to the readers as born Jews the fact itself was a perfectly familiar one.

ὅτι καὶ μετέπειτα, θέλων κληρονομῆσαι τὴν εὐλογίαν, ἀπεδοκιμάσθη] that later also, when he wished to inherit (to receive as a possession) the blessing, he was rejected. καί accentuates the ἀπεδοκιμάσθη, as the appropriate natural consequence of the ἀπέδοτο, Hebrews 12:16. εὐλογία, however, is the blessing absolutely, i.e. the more excellent blessing, which, was appointed to the first-born as the bearer of the promises given by God to Abraham and his seed. To ἀπεδοκιμάσθη, finally, there is naturally supplemented: by Isaac, in consequence of the higher occasioning or leading of God.

μετανοίας γὰρ τόπον οὐχ εὗρεν, καίπερ μετὰ δακρύων ἐκζητήσας αὐτήν] for he found no room for change of mind, although he eagerly sought it with tears, i.e. for Esau did not succeed in causing his father Isaac to change his mind, so that the latter should recall the blessing erroneously bestowed upon the younger brother Jacob, and confer it upon himself the elder son; in this he succeeded not, though he besought it with tears. This acceptation of the words, which Beza,(121) H. Stephanus, Piscator, Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Owen, Er. Schmid, Seb. Schmidt, Calmet, Wolf, Carpzov, Cramer, Michaelis, Storr, Schulz, Böhme, Klee, Paulus, Stengel, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, Grimm (Theol. Literaturbl. to the Darmst. A. K.-Z. 1857, No. 29, p. 677), Nickel (Reuter’s Repertor. 1858, March, p. 210), Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others insist on, is most naturally suggested by the context itself, yields a clear, correct thought, and best accords with the narrative in Genesis. Comp. LXX. Genesis 27:33 : εὐλόγησα αὐτὸν καὶ εὐλογημένος ἔστα ι. Gen 12:34: ἐγένετο δέ, ἡνίκα ἤκουσεν ἠσαῦ τὰ ῥή΄ατα τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ ἰσαάκ, ἁνεβόησε φωνὴν ΄εγάλην καὶ πικρὰν σφόδρα καὶ εἶπεν· εὐλόγησον δὴ κἀ΄ὲ πάτερ. Gen 12:35: εἶπε δὲ αὐτῷ· ἐλθὼν ἀδελφός σου ΄ετὰ δόλου ἔλαβε τὴν εὐλογίαν σου. (It was thus a question not of a blessing in general,—that Esau also still received afterwards, comp. Gen 12:39 f.,—but about the definite blessing pertaining to the first-born.) Gen 12:38: εἶπε δὲ ἠσαῦ πρὸς τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ· μὴ εὐλογία μία σοι ἔστι πάτερ; εὐλόγησον δὴ κἀμὲ πάτερ. κατανυχθέντος δὲ ἰσαάκ (this addition, peculiar to the LXX., accentuates afresh the fact that Isaac’s resolution remained inflexible, since he regarded the blessing already bestowed as irrevocable), ἀνεβόησε φωνῇ ἠσαῦ καὶ ἔκλαυσεν. Nor is that which Bleek, de Wette, and Delitzsch have advanced against this mode of interpretation of great force. They assert (1) that there is here nowhere any mention of Isaac, so that we cannot think of him in connection with ΄ετανοίας either. But a distinct allusion to Isaac, though not an express mention of him, is certainly contained in that which precedes. Partly in τὴν εὐλογίαν, partly in ἀπεδοκι΄άσθη, there is found a reference to him; since it was just he who had to bestow the blessing, and afterwards under God’s disposing refused it to Esau. An addition of τοῦ πατρός to ΄ετανοίας was therefore unnecessary. (2) That the formula: “he found no place or room for a change in the mind of his father,” in the sense: “he could not bring about such change in him,” would be a very unnatural one. But why, pray, may not τόπον ΄ετανοίας εὑρίσκειν equally well and naturally signify: “to gain room for a ΄ετάνοια to unfold and assert itself,” as at Acts 25:16 τόπον ἀπολογίας λα΄βάνειν signifies: “to obtain room for an ἀπολογία to unfold and maintain itself,” or τόπον διδόναι τῇ ὀργῇ, Romans 12:19 (comp. Ephesians 4:27): “to give room to the divine wrath to unfold itself and make itself felt”? (3) That the expression ΄ετάνοια itself is unsuitable, inasmuch as “this word can surely only denote an inner emotion of the mind, but not the bare outward recalling of a measure or a verdict” (Bleek), or, as de Wette expresses himself, “in the N. T. is ordinarily employed of human penitence.” Nevertheless there attaches likewise to the notion of the “change of mind,” as above insisted on as its primary requisite, the notion of a proceeding in the inner or spirit-life of the man; which, however, naturally does not exclude the accessory notion that this inner process has also as its necessary consequence an external action. If, further, ΄ετάνοια in the N. T. “ordinarily” serves for the designation of human penitence, this presents no difficulty to the supposition of its having on one occasion preserved its original verbal signification (comp. e.g. Josephus, de Bello Jud. i. 4. 4 : ἐμίσουν τὴν μετάνοιαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ τρόπου τὸ ἀνώμαλον); specially in a passage where not an article of faith is to be expressed, but simply an historic fact to be related. (4) That the thought thus obtained would not accord with the object of the author and the parallel Hebrews 6:4-6 (de Wette). But the author’s object is no other than to show, by the warning example of Esau, that the member also of the Christian community who is βέβηλος may for ever come short of the attainment of salvation; that, however, Hebrews 12:17 is to be explained in accordance with the standard furnished by Hebrews 6:4-6, is an arbitrary presupposition. (5) That this interpretation did not enter into the mind of the Fathers. But this argument, added by Delitzsch, as it in like manner frequently recurs with him, is an unscientific one. For to the Greek Fathers and their expositions can only be applied that which was said of them long ago by Joh. Gerhard (tom. I. of the Loci Theologici, chap. v. p. 30): “sint et habeantur lumina, non autem numina.”

Others, as Theophylact, Calvin, Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Bleek, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 771), Ewald, Hofmann, Rönsch in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1874, H. 1, p. 127 ff, and already τινές in Oecumenius, refer ΄ετανοίας to Esau himself, and then regard the words ΄ετανοίας γὰρ τόπον οὐχ εὔρεν as a parenthesis, and make αὐτήν glance back to τὴν εὐλογίαν. The statement: ΄ετανοίας γὰρ τόπον οὐχ εὔρεν, is then understood either objectively: he found no place for the repentance, which he actually experienced, or subjectively: he found no place in his heart for the feeling of repentance; in the former sense, e.g., Calvin: “nihil profecit vel consequutus est sera sua poenitentia, etsi cum lacrymis quaereret benedictionem, quam sua culpa amiserat,” and Bleek: “he found no longer any place for repentance, change of mind, inasmuch as it was too late for that, and it could avail him nothing now, however much he might regret it;” in the latter sense, e.g., Bengel: “It could no longer be awakened in Esau. Natura rei recusabat.” But against the first modification of this rendering decides the thought which would thus arise, false at least for the application of the statement, since in the Christian domain a repentance that is worthy of the name can never be too late, never ineffectual (comp. Luke 23:39-43); against the second, the internal contradiction in which this interpretation is involved with the concession καίπερ μετὰ δακρύων ἐκζητήσας αὐτήν, since surely by this very fact the actual presence of a repentance was manifested; against both, finally, the harshness and unnaturalness of the grammatical construction, by which the syntactical order is forced out of its simple connection. Others, finally, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Primasius, Luther, Grotius, Nemethus, de Wette, Alford, Reuss, rightly indeed refer αὐτήν back to ΄ετανοίας, but then understand ΄ετάνοια of Esau’s change of mind. Luther: “for he found no room for penitence, although he sought it with tears.” De Wette: “For repentance (penitence, amendment, i.e. for the return to the theocratic union by the laying aside of his unhallowed, frivolous character) he found no room, no place, no scope (i.e. there was not granted him, by the delaying of the sentence of reprobation, the possibility of manifesting a more worthy spirit, and of becoming reconciled to God), although he sought it with tears.” But if one takes the statement with Luther subjectively, it yields a harsh, repulsive, contradictory thought; if one takes it, with de Wette, objectively, it would be incorrectly expressed, since in that case αὐτόν (sc. τόπον) must of necessity have been written in place of αὐτήν (sc. μετάνοιαν). Moreover, for this whole mode of explanation the narrative in Genesis affords no point of support.


Verse 18

Hebrews 12:18. γάρ] enforces, by a reason adduced, the exhortation to sanctification at Hebrews 12:14 ff., inasmuch as there is an underlying reference to the fact that, according to Exodus 19:10 f., 14 f., the people of Israel in their day, before they were permitted to approach Mount Sinai in order to receive the law, had to sanctify themselves (Exodus 19:10 : ἅγνισον αὐτούς; Hebrews 12:14 : καὶ ἡγίασεν αὐτούς), to wash their clothes, and to preserve themselves free from all defilement.

οὐ γὰρ προσεληλύθατε] for ye did not, sc. when ye became Christians, draw near. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:11 : καὶ προσήλθετε καὶ ἔστητε ὑτὸ τὸ ὄρος.

ψηλαφωμένῳ ὀρει] to a mountain which is touched, i.e. felt, or laid hold of with hands. That which is intended is Mount Sinai, the place of revelation of the Mosaic law, mentioned also Galatians 4:24-25 as the representative of Judaism. As a mountain, however, which is touched or felt with hands this mountain is spoken of, in order thereby to express its character of externally perceptible, earthly, in opposition to the supra-sensuous, heavenly ( ἐπουράνιον, Hebrews 12:22). The form ψηλαφώμενον is not to be taken as synonymous with ψηλαφητόν, that could be touched, as is still done by Knapp, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Ebrard, Bisping, Kurtz, Ewald, and the majority of modern expositors. For the participle is indeed employed for the verbal adjective in the Hebrew, but never in the Greek. Neither can ψηλαφώμενον signify: “touched of God by lightning, and therefore smoking” (Schöttgen, Kypke, Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Storr, Heinrichs, and others; comp. Exodus 19:18 : τὸ ὄρος τὸ σινὰ ἐκαπνίζετο ὅλον διὰ τὸ καταβεβηκέναι ἐπʼ αὐτὸ τὸν θεὸν ἐν πυρί; Psalms 104:32 : ἁπτόμενος τῶν ὀρέων καὶ καπνίζονται), since ψηλαφᾶν signifies not the contact made with the view to the producing of an effect, but only the touching or feeling (handling), which has as its design the testing of the quality or the presence of an object. Comp. Luke 24:39; 1 John 1:1; Acts 17:27. Moreover, the participle present is unsuitable to this explanation, instead of which a participle of the past must have been chosen.

καὶ κεκαυμένῳ πυρί] is understood by Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Knapp, Paulus, Stuart, Stengel, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 114), Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, al., as a new particular, co-ordinate with the ψηλαφωμένῳ ὄρει: “and enkindled fire.” On account of the like nature of the additions, καὶ γνόφῳ κ. τ. λ., immediately following, this acceptation seems in itself the more natural; but since, in the passages of the Pentateuch which were before the mind of the writer in connection with this expression, there are found the words: καὶ τὸ ὄρος ἐκαίετο πυρί (comp. Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:23; Deuteronomy 9:15), it is more probable that the author referred κεκαυμένῳ still to ὄρει, and would have πυρί taken as dativus instrum. to κεκαυμένῳ: and which (mountain) was enkindled, or set on flame, with fire.

καὶ γνόφῳ καὶ ζόφῳ καὶ θυέλλῃ] and to gloom and darkness and tempest. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22 : σκότος, γνόφος, θύελλα.


Verses 18-29

Hebrews 12:18-29. To the endeavour after sanctification the readers are bound, by the constitution of that New Covenant to which they have come. While the Old Covenant bore the character of the sensuous, earthly, and that which awakens merely fear, the New Covenant has the character of the spiritual, heavenly, brings into communion with God and all saints, and confers reconciliation (Hebrews 12:18-24). Against apostasy, therefore, from the New Covenant (by an immoral walk), are the readers to be on their guard; for their guilt and culpability would be thereby incomparably enhanced. Rather are they to be filled with thankfulness towards God for the participation in the immovable kingdom of the New Covenant, and with awe and reverence to serve Him (Hebrews 12:25-29).

On Hebrews 12:18-24, comp. G. Chr. Knapp in his Scripta varii argum., ed. 2, Hal. Saxon. 1823, tom. I. pp. 231–270.


Verse 19

Hebrews 12:19. καὶ σάλπιγγος ἤχῳ] and to the sound of trumpet. Comp. Exodus 19:16 : φωνὴ τῆς σάλπιγγος ἤχει μέγα. Ibid. Exodus 12:19; Exodus 20:18.

καὶ φωνῇ ῥημάτων] and clang (piercing note) of words, which, namely, were spoken by God at the publication of the law, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:12 : καὶ ἐλάλησε κύριος πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐκ μέσον τοῦ πυρὸς φωνὴν ῥημάτων, ἣν ὑμεῖς ἠκούσατε.

ἧς οἱ ἀκούσαντεχ κ. τ. λ.] they that heard which begged to be spared (Hebrews 12:25; Acts 25:11), that it should be further spoken to them (sc. on account of the terribleness of that already heard). Calvin: Caeterum quod dicit populum excusasse, non ita debet accipi, quasi populus renuerit audire Dei verba, sed deprecatus est, ne Deum ipsum loquentem audire cogeretur. Persona enim Mosis interposita horrorem nonnihil mitigabat. Comp. Deuteronomy 5:25 : καὶ νῦν μὴ ἀποθάνωμενἐὰν προσθώμεθα ἡμεῖς ἀκοῦσαι τὴν φωνὴν κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἔτι; Deuteronomy 18:16; Exodus 20:18-19.

ἧς] goes back to φωνῇ, and is dependent not on λόγον (Storr), but upon ἀκούσαντες.

μή] after verbs of seeking to be excused, denying, warding off, etc., quite ordinarily. See Kühner, II. p. 410; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 561.

αὐτοῖς] looks back to the Israelites ( οἱ ἀκούσαντες), not to ῥημάτων.


Verse 20-21

Hebrews 12:20-21 form a parenthesis, and γάρ adduces a reason for the thought of the terribleness of the mode of revelation under the Old Covenant. The words οὐκ ἔφερον γὰρ τὸ διαστελλόμενον, however, contain no independent statement, in such wise that τὸ διαστελλόμενον should refer back to that which is before mentioned (Oecumenius, Theophylact; comp. Schlichting). For in that case κἂν θηρίον κ. τ. λ. would stand without connection. Rather are the words an introductory formula for the citation immediately attached, τὸ διαστελλόμενον, further, does not stand in the sense of a middle: that which ordained, or the divine voice ordaining (Storr, Schulz, Heinrichs, Delitzsch), which is constrained, but in a passive sense: that which was ordained, the divine commandment. The sense is, consequently: for they endured not the mandate, “Though only a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned.”

The citation is freely reproduced from Exodus 19:12-13, in an abbreviated form, and one bringing out at once the gist of the narrative. In Exodus the words read: καὶ ἀφοριεῖς τὸν λαὸν κύκλῳ, λέγων· προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς τοῦ ἀναβῆναι εἰς τὸ ὄρος καὶ θίγειν τι αὐτοῦ· πᾶς ἁψάμενος τοῦ ὄρους θανάτῳ τελευτήσει. οὐχ ἅψεται αὐτοῦ χείρ· ἐν γὰρ λίθοις λιθοβοληθήσεται βολίδι κατατοξευθήσεται· ἐάν τε κτῆνος, ἐάν τε ἄνθρωπος, οὐ ζήσεται.


Verse 21

Hebrews 12:21. καί] is the ordinary conjunctive “and.” It belongs not to οὕτως φοβερὸν ἦν τὸ φανταζόμενον, in such wise that ΄ωϋσῆς εἶπεν κ. τ. λ. “is added by way of appendix, with an accentuation of the subject which renders any connecting particle unnecessary” (Hofmann), but to ΄ωϋσῆς εἶπεν, in such wise that οὕτως φοβερὸν ἦν τὸ φανταζόμενον forms an exclamation, inserted parenthetically within the greater parenthesis: and—so terrible was the appearing!

MOSES said, I am sore afraid and tremble. καί cannot be taken, with Jac. Cappellus, Carpzov, Schulz, Knapp, Böhme, Bloomfield, and others, for the enhancing “even.” For, from its position, it can only serve for the connection of the clauses, while for the indication of the sense alleged an additional καί immediately before ΄ωϋσῆς (or even an αὐτός before the same) would have been required. Yet the right feeling underlies this interpretation: that, regarded as a fact, Hebrews 12:21 contains an ascending gradation from Hebrews 12:20, inasmuch as the being seized with fear, which at Hebrews 12:20 was asserted of the people, is now in like manner predicated of Moses, the leader of the people.

τὸ φανταζόμενον] equivalent to τὸ φαινόμενον, the appearing, the visible covering in which the invisible God manifested Himself to the Israelites. Theodoret: φανταζόμενον δὲ εἶπεν, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ αὐτὸν ἑώρων τὸν τῶν ὅλων θεὸν ἀλλά τινα φαντασίαν τῆς θείας ἐπιφανείας

The verb φαντάζεσθαι, in the N. T. only here.

ἔκφοβός εἰμι καὶ ἔντρομος] In the accounts of the promulgation of the law given in the Pentateuch, an expression of this kind on the part of Moses is not met with. According to Zeger, Beza, Estius, Schlichting, Chr. Fr. Schmid [M‘Lean, with hesitation], Heinrichs, Stuart, Stein, and others, the author drew the same from tradition; according to Owen and Calov, he gained the knowledge even from immediate inspiration; while Carpzov will not have an actual utterance of Moses thought of at all, but, on the contrary, takes the formula: “Moses dicit: horreo et tremo,” as of the same meaning with the bare “Moses horret et tremit;” and Calvin has recourse to the not less violent expedient: “Mosem nomine populi sic loquutum, cujus mandata quasi internuntius ad Deum referebat. Fuit igitur haec communis totius populi querimonia; sed Moses inducitur, qui fuit veluti commune et omnium.” Without doubt the words of LXX. Deuteronomy 9:19 [cf. Hebrews 12:15] were present to the mind of the author, where in another connection Moses says: καὶ ἔκφοβός εἰμι. These words he then transferred, by virtue of an inexact reminiscence, to the time of the promulgation of the law.


Verses 22-24

Hebrews 12:22-24. Contrast to Hebrews 12:18-19. Positive characterization of the communion into which the readers have entered by the reception of Christianity. The description, Hebrews 12:22-24, corresponds not in detail to the particulars enumerated, Hebrews 12:18-19 (against Bengel, who ingeniously constructs a sevenfold antithesis; as likewise against Delitzsch, Kluge, and Ewald, who have followed the same), although we should be led to expect this from the corresponding words of commencement, Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22. Moreover, the succession of clauses contained in Hebrews 12:22-24 is no strictly logical one, since at least καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων would have been more appropriately placed before than after καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων.

ἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, ἱερουσαλὴν ἐπουρανίῳ] but drawn near have ye to the mountain Zion and the city of the living God, namely, the heavenly Jerusalem. The three substantive-appellations contain a single idea, in that to the closely connected twofold expression: σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, the following ἱερουσαλὴν ἐπουρανίῳ forms an explanatory apposition. As Mount Zion (in opposition to the Mount Sinai, Hebrews 12:18) the heavenly Jerusalem is designated, because in the O. T. the Mount Zion is very frequently described as the dwelling-place of God, and the place whence the future salvation of the people is to be looked for. Comp. Psalms 48:3 (2), Psalms 50:2, Psalms 78:68, Psalms 110:2, Psalms 132:13 ff.; Isaiah 2:2-3; Joel 3:5 [Joel 2:32]; Micah 4:1-2; Obadiah 1:17, al. Likewise also is the heavenly Jerusalem called the city of the living God (comp. too in relation to the earthly Jerusalem: πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως, Matthew 5:35), not so much because the living and acting God is its architect (Hebrews 11:10), as because He has His throne there.

καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων] and to myriads of angels, the servants, and as it were the court of God. καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων belongs together (Beza, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Calov, Braun, Kypke, Carpzov, Cramer, Baumgarten, Storr, Dindorf, Tholuck, Kurtz, Hofmann, and others), without, however, our having, with Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Clarius, Vatablus, Calvin, Corn. a Lapide, Piscator, Grotius, Tischendorf (ed. 2), Bloomfield, Conybeare, Ewald, and others, to refer likewise πανηγύρει, Hebrews 12:23, to the same as an apposition. For such apposition, consisting of a bare individual word, would be out of keeping with the euphonious fulness of the whole description; and, if this construction had been intended, καὶ μυριάδων ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει would have been written. But just as little must we with others (also Bleek and de Wette) take καὶ μυριάσιν alone, as standing independently; whether, as Seb. Schmidt, Wolf, Rambach, Griesbach, Knapp, Böhme, Kuinoel, Stengel, Bisping, Maier, Moll, we regard as apposition thereto merely ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει, or, as Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Ernesti, Schulz, Lachmann, Bleek, Tischendorf (ed. 1), Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 117), Alford, Kluge, Woerner, both the following members: ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς—in connection with which latter supposition, however, the more nearly connecting τε καί, of frequent use with the author (Hebrews 2:4; Hebrews 2:11, Hebrews 4:12, al.), would have been more naturally expected than the bare καί before ἐκκλησίᾳ. For μυριάσιν is a very indefinite notion, which, where its reference is not self-evident from the connection, requires a genitival addition; besides, the accentuation of the idea of plurality alone would here be meaningless. Further, the reasons advanced against our mode of explanation, that in such case we ought, after the analogy of the following members, to expect a καί before πανηγύρει (Seb. Schmidt, Bleek, Ebrard); that πανηγύρει and that which follows would become in the highest degree dragging (Bleek); that πανηγύρει would be superfluous (de Wette),—are without weight. For καί was omitted by reason of the euphonious πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ, into which a καί placed also before πανηγύρει would have introduced a discordant note; the charge of dragging would have been justified, only if a καί had really been added before πανηγύρει; nor, again, is πανηγύρει, superfluous, since it contains a very significant notion, and one different from that of ἐκκλησίᾳ.


Verse 23

Hebrews 12:23. πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων, ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς] to the festive assembly and congregation of the first-born, who are enrolled in heaven, πανήγυρις, in the N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, designates the total gathering under the form of conception of a being gathered together in festivity and jubilant joy [cf. Joseph. Antt. v. 2. 12]; whereas ἐκκλησία characterizes those assembled as bound together in inner unity. To be enrolled in heaven, however, signifies to stand recorded upon the book of heaven’s citizens, or to have part in the rights and privileges of the heavenly citizens. From the connection ( προσεληλύθατε ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων) beings must be intended, who already dwell in heaven, are actually in possession of the civil rights and immunities of heaven, not those by whom the enjoyment of the same is only to be looked for in the future. Since, then, they are by means of πρωτότοκοι represented as those who in point of time first (before others as yet) became sons of God, we have to think most naturally, with Calvin, Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Woerner, and others, of the patriarchs and saints of the Old Covenant (comp. chap. 11), who, it is true only upon the condition of union with Christ (Hebrews 11:40), but yet by reason of their filial relation to God, did, in a temporal respect before the Christians, receive a dwelling-place and rights of citizenship in heaven. According to Nösselt, Storr, Kurtz, and others, we have to understand by the πρωτότοκοι, still the angels before mentioned, as being the earliest inhabitants of heaven; but for the designation of the angels, the characteristic ἀπογεγραμμένοι ἐν οὐρανοῖς is unsuitable. The majority discover in πρωτότοκοι a reference to the Christians; and that either, as Primasius and Grotius suppose, specially to the apostles—against which, however, stands πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ, which involves the idea of a great host; or, as Schlichting, J. L. Mosheim (de ecclesia primogenitorum in coelo adscriptorum, Helmst. 1733, 4to), Schulz, Bleek, Ebrard, and others, to the first believers from among the Jews and Gentiles, particularly the former, quite apart from the question of their being now dead or still living; or, as Knapp, Böhme. Kuinoel, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr p. 117), Alford, Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 147, 2 Aufl.), Moll, and others, specially to the church which is still upon earth, so that in connection with πρωτότοκοι we have to hold fast only to the particular fact of the dignity, while we retain no reference to time; or, as de Wette and Maier, specially to those who have fallen asleep in the faith of Christ, and perhaps even were glorified by martyrdom; or finally, as Piscator, Owen, Carpzov, Stein, Stuart, Stengel, and others, to the members of the New Covenant in general. But the thought of Christians in this place is a remote one; since the mention of them, in harmony with the order of relating now chosen, would more naturally take place only later, in connection with the mention of Christ Himself, and not already here, between that of the angels and God.

καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων] and to Him as Judge, who is God over all. πάντων is usually construed with κριτῇ. But from its position it can depend only upon θεῷ. πάντων is masculine, and refers not merely—as Knapp and Bleek suppose—to the fore-mentioned angels and πρωτότοκοι. It stands absolutely; so that God, in delicate opposition to the Jewish particularism, is characterized as in general the God of all. The apparently unsuitable characterization of God in this connection (because one containing nothing specifically Christian), namely, as the Judge, is justified from the aim of the writer, to warn the readers against laxity of morals, and consequently against apostasy from Christianity (comp. Hebrews 12:25; Hebrews 12:29).

καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων] and to the spirits of the perfected just ones. πνεύματα: designation of the departed spirits, as divested of the body (comp. 1 Peter 3:19; Luke 24:39; Acts 7:59), inasmuch as these only at the resurrection will be clothed with a new body. Most probably the Christians fallen asleep are those meant (Grotius, Mosheim, Bengel, Sykes, Baumgarten, Chr. Ft. Schmid, Storr, and many). Others, as Corn. a Lapide, Schlichting, Wittich, Wolf, Schulz, Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Maier, think of the saints of the O. T. (chap, 11); or, as Knapp, Böhme, Tholuck, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 122), Alford, Moll, Kurtz, alike of the departed saints of the O. T. and those of the New. The δίκαιοι, however, are called τετελειωμένοι, not in the sense of the “perfect just ones” (Theophylact, Luther, Stengel, al.),—for which the expression τέλειοι would much more naturally have presented itself,—nor yet because they have finished their life’s course and overcome the weaknesses and imperfections of the earthly life (Calvin, Limborch, Böhme, Kuinoel, Kurtz, and others), but because they have already been brought by Christ to the goal of consummation. Comp. Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 11:40.


Verse 24

Hebrews 12:24. νέας] characterizes the covenant as new in regard to the time of its existence (foedus recens), whereas καινή, Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 9:15, described it as new in respect of its quality (foedus novum). Wrongly Böhme, Kuinoel, and others (de Wette likewise wavers): νέας is here to be taken as of the same import with καινῆς.

καὶ αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ] Jesus’ atoning blood is called blood of sprinkling, inasmuch as those who believe in Him, in spirit sprinkled therewith, are cleansed from their sins and sanctified to God. Comp. Hebrews 9:13 f., Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 13:12.

κρεῖττον] is an adverb. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:38. Needlessly will Kurtz have it taken as a substantive adjective. Better does the blood of Christ speak than Abel with his blood; since the latter calls for the divine vengeance, the former, on the other hand, for God’s grace upon sinners.

παρά] See at Hebrews 1:4.

παρὰ τὸν ἄβελ] may be looked upon as a well-known brachylogy for παρὰ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἄβελ. This is not, however, at all necessary, seeing that, at Hebrews 11:4 likewise, Abel himself is represented as speaking after his death (by means of his blood which was shed).


Verse 25

Hebrews 12:25. The author has but just now, Hebrews 12:18-24, in order to enforce with reasoning his exhortation to the ἁγιασμός, Hebrews 12:14 ff., described, in a comparison of the Old Covenant with the New, the exalted nature of the communion into which the readers had entered by the reception of Christianity. As a conclusion therefrom, he warns them against falling away again from Christianity through laxity of morals (comp. also Hebrews 12:28 f.), in pointing out, similarly as Hebrews 2:2 ff., Hebrews 10:28 ff., that if the Israelites in old time incurred punishment by disobedience to the O. T. revelation of God, an incomparably severer judgment would overtake those Christians who should turn back again from the N. T. revelation of God.

The simple βλέπετε, without the addition of οὖν, renders the warning so much the more powerful. Entirely mistaken, Delitzsch: οὖν is not added, in order that one may not suppose the warning to attach itself to οὐ γὰρ προσεληλύθατεἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε …, but, on the contrary, it should be manifest that the author thinks of the One speaking, against the refusing of whom he warns, as in most intimate connection with the speaking blood of the Mediator of the Covenant which has just been mentioned.

βλέπετε μὴ παραιτήσησθε τὸν λαλοῦντα] take heed that ye do not beg off from Him that speaketh (to you), that ye turn not away from Him and despise Him. λαλῶν is not Christ (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Vatablus, Böhme, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Bloomfield, al.), but that God who still continues to speak to the readers by means of the Christian facts of salvation. For by τὸν λαλοῦντα the same person must be designated, as subsequently by τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν, sc. χρηματίζοντα. By the latter, however, can be meant, on account of the οὗ referring back to it at Hebrews 12:26, and by reason of the ἐπήγγελται there occurring (comp. also Hebrews 12:29), only God. From this it follows, too, that by ἐπὶ γῆς χρηματίζων is meant, not Moses (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Carpzov, and others), but likewise God,(122) so that there is not an insisting upon a diversity of persons in connection with the O. T. and the N. T. revelation, and thence a difference of degree inferred; but the diversity of the mode of revelation is accentuated, and thereby the higher value of the one revelation above the other on the one hand is marked, and on the other the higher culpability of apostasy from the one than from the other. To the Jews God spake upon the palpable earthly mountain Sinai, choosing as His interpreter an earthly man, Moses; to the Christians, on the other hand, He speaks from heaven, in sending to them His own Son from heaven as His interpreter.

οὐκ ἐξέφυγον] did not escape, did not evade the divine punishment. Comp. Hebrews 2:3. Wrongly Delitzsch, even because the πολὺ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς κ. τ. λ. does not harmonize therewith: were not able to withdraw, but were obliged to stand fast.

ἐπὶ γῆς τὸν χρηματίζοντα] the One speaking upon earth words of revelation. Belongs together, in that ἐπὶ γῆς was placed on account of the greater emphasis before the article. Similarly the post-posing of ἵνα, Galatians 2:10, and the like.

πολὺ ΄ᾶλλον ἡ΄εῖς] sc. οὐκ ἐκφευξόμεθ α.

ἀποστρέφεσθαί τινα] to turn away from any one, reject his fellowship.


Verse 26

Hebrews 12:26. Like as the author has stated the fact, Hebrews 12:25, as a sign of the inferiority of Judaism to Christianity, that God in connection with the former was One ἐπὶ γῆς χρηματίζων, in connection with the latter, on the other hand, One ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν χρηματίζων, so does he now in like manner urge, as a further proof of that inferiority, the circumstance that God then only shook the earth, but now in accordance with the prophecy will shake not only the earth, but at the same time also the heavens.

ἐσάλευσεν] is to be understood in the literal sense, not, with Estius and others, in the figurative.

τότε] then, sc. at the promulgation of the Mosaic law. Comp. Exodus 19:18 (where, however, the LXX., probably in reading הָעָם instead of הָהָר, translate: καὶ ἐξέστη πᾶς λαὸς σφόδρα); Judges 5:4 f.; Psalms 68:9 (8), Psalms 114:7 : ἀπὸ προσώπου κυρίου ἐσαλεύθη γῆ.

νῦν δὲ ἐπήγγελται λέγων] who now, on the other hand, has promised as follows. A constructio ad sensum, since the words form the second member of the relative clause; but, notwithstanding that, a bound is suddenly made from the preceding subject φωνή to the subject contained in the οὗ, namely, God Himself.

νῦν] now, has certainly the sense: in regard to the present Christian period (more exactly: in regard to the epoch of the consummation of the divine kingdom by the coming again of Christ). Grammatically, however, νῦν κ. τ. λ. has arisen from the contracting of two statements in one, and is to be resolved, with Schlichting, into: nunc vero commovebit non solum terram sed etiam coelum, sicut promisit apud prophetam, dicens, etc.

ἐπήγγελται] in the middle sense, as Romans 4:21. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 246.

The citation is from Haggai 2:6, but reproduced in a free and abbreviated form (LXX.: ἔτι ἅπαξ ἐγὼ σείσω τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηράν).

ἔτι ἅπαξ] Faulty rendering of the LXX. instead of: yet a little while.


Verse 27

Hebrews 12:27. The author, arguing from the ἔτι ἅπαξ of the prophetic word of scripture just adduced, brings out as a second feature of the superiority of Christianity, that it is abiding and intransitory.

τὸ δέ· ἔτι ἅπαξ] The expression, however, Yet once more, sc. and then not again. ἔτι ἅπαξ, namely, is taken by the writer absolutely.

δηλοῖ τὴν τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν] declares (points to) the changing of that which is being shaken, sc. the earth and the (visible) heavens, inasmuch as it is a well-known matter ( τήν) that, at the epoch of the consummation of the kingdom of God, the present earth and the present heavens will be transformed into a new earth and new heavens (comp. Isaiah 65:17 ff; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1); the shaking, however, of the heavens and the earth predicted by the prophet will be the only one, and consequently the last one, which will take place at all.

ὡς πεποιημένων] because they are created, i.e. visible, earthly, and transitory, things. The words draw attention to the constitution of the σαλευόμενα, thereby to make it appear as something natural that these should undergo a change or transformation. They are not to be taken together with the following ἵνα; in connection with which construction we have either the explanation: which namely has been made, to the end that that which is immovable may remain (Grotius, Bengel, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 130, Obs.; Kluge, Moll, Woerner, al.),—which, however, without more precise indication, yields arbitrary variations of the meaning, but no clear thought,—or: which was made indeed only for the purpose of awaiting that which is immovable, and giving place to the same when this comes in (Bauldry in Wolf, Storr, Böhme, Kuinoel, Hofmann, al.). Grammatically there is nothing to be alleged against this acceptation of the words, although the expression μένειν is not elsewhere employed by the author in the sense of “to await anything;” nor even against the thought in itself can any objection be raised. But then it appears unsuitable to the connection; since upon this interpretation that which the author will derive from the ἔτι ἅπαξ, namely, the coming in of that which is eternal and intransitory, is brought out in much too subordinate a form. ἵνα is therefore to be taken as dependent on τὴν τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν, inasmuch as it adduces the higher design of God in the transformation of the present earth and the present heavens: in order that there may then abide (have a permanent existence) that which cannot be shaken, sc. the eternal blessings of Christianity, into the full enjoyment of which the Christian will enter so soon as a new earth and new heaven is formed, and the kingdom of God attains to its consummation.


Verse 28

Hebrews 12:28. Exhortation to be thankful to God, and to serve Him in an acceptable manner.

διό] infers from the concluding words of Hebrews 12:27 : Wherefore, because that which will have an everlasting existence is no other than the kingdom of God, in which we Christians have obtained part. The author himself expresses this thought in the participial clause elucidatory of the διό, βασιλείαν ἀσάλευτον παραλαμβάνοντες: since the kingdom, which we Christians obtain (which becomes the possession of us Christians) is an immovable, intransitory one. The participle present παραλαμβάνοντες, of that which is indeed future, but which with certainty comes in. Erroneously do Calvin, transl., Schlichting, Limborch, Bengel, and others understand the participial clause as a constituent part of the exhortation: “let us receive the immovable kingdom, appropriate it to ourselves by faith,” which is already rendered impossible by the anarthrous βασιλείαν in itself.

ἔχωμεν χάριν] let us cherish thankfulness, sc. towards God. Comp. Luke 17:9. Wrongly Beza, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Carpzov, Bisping, and many others: let us hold fast the grace. For in that case the article could not be wanting in connection with χάριν, and instead of ἔχωμεν must stand κατέχωμεν (comp. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 10:23) or κρατῶμεν (comp. Hebrews 4:14).

διʼ ἧς λατρεύωμεν εὐαρέστως τῷ θεῷ] and by the same serve God in an acceptable manner. τῷ θεῷ belongs to λατρεύωμεν.

μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους] with reverential awe (in that we watch against that which is displeasing to God) and fear. Amplification of the εὐαρέστως.


Verse 29

Hebrews 12:29. Warning justification of the μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέονς. The words cannot, however, signify: for our God too (the God of Christians), even as the God of the Old Covenant, is a consuming fire (so still Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bisping, and others). For to this end καὶ γὰρ ἡμῶν θεὸς κ. τ. λ. must have been written. Just as little may καὶ γάρ, with Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 60, Obs.), Alford, Moll, and Kurtz, be weakened into the mere notion of “etenim.” For καί is the enhancing “more than this,” and belongs to the whole clause, in connection with which it would be a matter of indifference (against Delitzsch) whether the author should write καὶ γὰρ θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον or καὶ γὰρ πῦρ καταναλίσκον θεὸς ἡμῶν, since in either case the main emphasis in connection with the few words would fall upon πῦρ καταναλίσκον. According to the order of the words, and by reason of the intensive force of καί, the sense can therefore only be: for our God is also a consuming fire, i.e. He is not merely a God of grace, but likewise a God of punitive righteousness. A diversity, consequently, of the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New, which would also have been an unsuitable notion, the author does not by any means assert. Moreover, comp. LXX. Deuteronomy 4:24 : ὅτι κύριος θεός σου πῦρ καταναλίσκον ἐστίν.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 12:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-12.html. 1832.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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