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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 2

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 2

Hebrews 2:1. Instead of the Recepta: ἡμᾶς προσέχειν (K L, Theodoret), Lachm. Tisch. and Alford read: προσέχειν ἡμᾶς. In favour of the latter decides the preponderating authority of A B D E א, Vulg. Athan. Aug. alii.

Hebrews 2:4. αὐτοῦ] D* E*: τοῦ θεοῦ. Explanatory gloss.

Hebrews 2:6. τί ἐστιν] Lachm. (but only in the ed. stereot.) Bleek, and Kurtz: τίς ἐστιν. Only insufficiently attested by C* Clar. Sangerm. Tol. Copt. Damascenus, although also A contains τίς in Psalms 8. By reason of the preceding τίς, τί might easily pass over into τίς.

Hebrews 2:7. After ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν there is added by Elz., with A C D* E* M א, many cursives and translations, Theodoret, Sedulius: καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου. Against B D*** E** K L, more than 65 min., Syr. (codices and some edd.) Slav. ms. Chrys. Damasc. alii. The addition already regarded as spurious by Mill (Prolegg. 1376, 1421). Bracketed by Lachm. and Bloomf. Rightly deleted by Griesb. Matthaei, Scholz, Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. Alford, Reiche, and others. Complementary gloss from the LXX. Comp. the exposition of Hebrews 2:7.

Hebrews 2:8. ἐν γὰρ τῷ] So A C K L, al. Lachm. and Tisch. 1, 7, and 8, after B D E M א, 23: ἐν τῷ γάρ.

Hebrews 2:9. Besides χάριτι θεοῦ (so also in the Cod. Sinait., as well as A B C D E K L, al.), Origen,—in Joann. i. 1, Opp. iv. 41; in Joann. xi. 49, Opp. iv. 393; in Joann. extr. Opp. 4. 450,

Theodor. Mopsuest. (in N. T. commentariorum quae reperiri potuerunt, ed. Fritzsche, Turic. 1847, p. 163 f.), and Jerome, on Galatians 3:10, know of a reading χωρὶς θεοῦ, to which the two former give the preference. Theodoret ad loc. and ad Ephesians 1:10, takes notice only of the reading χωρὶς θεοῦ. In like manner do, also, Anastas. abbas Palaestin., in the 8th century, in his work, Contra Judaeos (Latin ed. Canis.), in ant. lect. iii.; Ambrose, de fid. ad Gratian. ii. 8. 63, 65, v. 8. 106; Fulgentius, ad Thrasimund. iii. 20; and Vigilius Thapsens. Contra Eutych. ii. 3, cite in accordance with the same; it has also passed over into single MSS. of the Peshito (sometimes in combination with the ordinary reading; so also in Syr. Cod. Heidelbergens.: “ipse enim excepto Deo per beneficentiam suam pro quovis homine gustavit mortem,” according to Tremellius in Tisch. edd. 7 and 8); comp. La Croze, Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, iii. 3. 64; Bode, Pseudo-crit. Millio-Bengel, t. ii. p. 339. So, too, it is found in Arab. Petropolitana of the 8th century (in Tisch. edd. 7 and 8): “quare χωρὶς θεοῦ, qui eum sibi fecerat templum, gustavit mortem ὑπὲρ πάντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων.” Above all, this reading was championed by the Nestorians (see Oecumen. and Theophyl. ad loc). Among later expositors it has found defenders in Camerarius, P. Colomesius (Observatt. sacr. p. 603), Bengel, Ch. F. Schmid, Paulus, and Ebrard. But neither in our codd. nor in the versions (with the exceptions above named) does χωρὶς θεοῦ find any countenance; it is met with only in the Cod. M (of Tisch.; with Wetst. and Griesb.: Cod. 53) of the 9th or 10th century, and in the Cod. 67 of the 11th or 12th century—in the latter only on the margin. On internal grounds, too, it is to be rejected (see the exposition, and Reiche in the Commentarius Criticus, p. 14 ff.). Probably arose from the placing of χωρὶς θεοῦ, occasioned by 1 Corinthians 15:27, as a gloss to the words of Hebrews 2:8 : οὐδὲν ἀφῆκεν αὐτῷ ἀνυπότακτον; and this gloss being erroneously regarded by a later transcriber as a correction of χάριτι θεοῦ, Hebrews 2:9, was taken up in place thereof into the text.

Hebrews 2:14. Elz. Matthaei, Scholz: σαρκὸς καὶ αἵματος. But A B C D E M א, 37, al., many versions and Fathers, have αἵματος καὶ σαρκός. Already approved by Bengel and Griesb. Rightly adopted by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford. The Recepta is a later transposition, since the order σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα is elsewhere the more usual one.

τῶν αὐτῶν] D* E* It. Eus. Theodoret (semel), Jerome: τῶν αὐτῶν παθημάτων. (Erroneous) explanatory gloss.

διὰ τοῦ θανάτου] D* E* It.: διὰ τοῦ θανάτου θάνατον. An addition incompatible with that which follows. Proceeded from an erroneous twofold writing of θανάτου.


Verse 1

Hebrews 2:1. διὰ τοῦτο] therefore, sc. because Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant, is as the Son of God so highly exalted above the angels, the intermediate agents in the giving of the Old Covenant.

δεῖ] indication of the inner necessity resulting of itself from the described conditions.

περισσοτέρως] so much the more, sc. than would be the case if He who proclaimed the ἀκουσθέντα were one of lower rank. We have not, however, to connect περισσοτέρως with δεῖ (Grotius, Bengel, Dindorf, Böhme, Kuinoel), but with προσέχειν as the main idea.

προσέχειν τινὶ πρ.] to give heed or attention to anything, sc. in order to hold fast to it.

τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν] to that which has been heard. The salvation preached by the Lord and His immediate disciples is intended, of which the readers had heard. Comp. Hebrews 2:3.

μήποτε παραῤῥυῶμεν] lest haply we should be carried past it (comp. LXX. Proverbs 3:21 : υἱὲ μὴ παραῤῥυῇς, τήρησον δὲ ἐμὴν βουλὴν καὶ ἔννοιαν), i.e. lest we lose it, fail of obtaining the salvation promised to us by the word we have heard; comp. Hebrews 2:3. The interpretation of Erasmus, Clarius, Beza, Cameron, Stuart, al.: lest we forget it, or let it escape attention, is unmeaning and almost tautological, παραῤῥυῶμεν (or παραρυῶμεν, as Lachmann and Tischendorf 2 and 7 write it, after A B* D* L א), moreover, is not, as Wittich, Dindorf, and others suppose, conjunctive present active of παραῤῥυέω,—for the forms παραῤῥυέω, παραῤῥύω, παραῤῥύημι are mere figments of the grammarians,(41) in order to derive certain tenses therefrom,—but sec. aorist conjunct, passive from παραῤῥέω.


Verses 1-4

Hebrews 2:1-4. The author, in availing himself of the communicative form of speech, deduces from the superiority of the Son over the angels, set forth in chap. 1, as likewise from the fact that even the Mosaic law, given through the instrumentality of angels, could not be transgressed with impunity, the imperative obligation for the readers to hold fast to the salvation revealed by Christ, securely handed down, and confirmed by God with miracles. Thus there already comes out here the paraenetic main tendency of the epistle: to animate the Hebrews, urgently exposed as they were to the peril of apostasy, to perseverance in the Christian faith, as this aim is also manifested elsewhere in repeated admonitions (e.g. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 10:23); although the author has the intention of speaking further concerning the relation of Christ to the angels (comp. Hebrews 2:5 ff.).


Verse 2

Hebrews 2:2. διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος] the word proclaimed by angels (not: by human messengers, i.e. prophets; so Daniel Heinsius and G. Olearius, against the connection with chap. 1., and contrary to Biblical usage), i.e. the Mosaic law. Of an activity of the angels in connection with the act of legislation on Sinai nothing indeed is mentioned in Exodus 19; it was, however, a traditional view very widely spread among the Jews. See Schoettgen and Wetstein on Galatians 3:19. The earliest traces thereof appear Deuteronomy 33:2, LXX., and Psalms 68:18 (17). It is clearly enunciated Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Josephus, Antiq. xv. 5. 3.

To understand other divine revelations given through the intervention of angels, like Genesis 19:26, to the exclusion of the Mosaic law (Dorscheus, Calov, Schoettgen, Carpzov, Semler, al.), or with the inclusion of the same (Baumgarten, Ewald, M‘Caul: “To my mind, the transition to the law exclusively is in the present instance somewhat abrupt. Does it not rather also refer to the ministrations of angels vouchsafed from time to time during the whole of the earlier dispensation, and to which allusion is made in the concluding verse of the first chapter?”), as intended by the διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος, is forbidden—apart from the connection in its main points, and the whole tendency of the epistle—by the expression λόγος in the singular.

The preterites ἐγένετο and ἔλαβεν characterize the period of the Mosaic law as a past one, the condition of life prevailing in the same as one now obsolete and historically surmounted.

βέβαιος] form, i.e. inviolable and obligatory, as is evident from the explanatory clause καὶ πᾶσαμισθαπ. immediately following.

παράβασις the objective transgression, παρακοή the subjective listless hearing or inattention, Uebertretung and Ueberhörung. Not inaptly Böhme, in preserving the paronomasia, “non commissa solum, sed omissa etiam.”

ἔνδικος] just, in the N. T. only here and Romans 3:8. μισθαποδοσία] selected, sonorous word, a favourite one with our author in the sense of the simple μισθός, but not occurring elsewhere in the N. T. The term is a vox media, signifies thus recompense. It is here employed in the unfavourable sense (= punishment), Hebrews 10:35, Hebrews 11:26, in the favourable sense (= reward).


Verses 2-4

Hebrews 2:2-4. Establishing of the δεῖ περισσοτέρως προσέχειν ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν, Hebrews 2:1, by a warning reference to the great responsibility and culpability in the case of its neglect, and this in a conclusion a minore ad majus. Not justifiably does de Wette take Hebrews 2:2-4 as a “proving of the danger of the παραῤῥ.” For not the possibility of foregoing salvation, but the culpability of losing it through neglect, forms the central thought in Hebrews 2:2-4.


Verse 3

Hebrews 2:3. The apodosis follows in the form of a question, which for the rest extends only to σωτηρίας, not to the close of Hebrews 2:4.

πῶς] how is it possible that.

ἡμεῖς] has the emphasis. The Christians in general are meant, in opposition to the men once belonging to the O. T. theocracy, of whom the writer has spoken at least by implication in Hebrews 2:2.

ἐκφευξόμεθα] stands absolutely, as Hebrews 12:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Needlessly do Heinrichs, Stengel, Ebrard, Bisping, Maier, and many others supplement from Hebrews 2:2 : τὴν ἔνδικον μισθαποδοσίαν.

ἀμελήσαντες] Instancing of the case or condition, after the arising of which an escape or deliverance from punishment becomes an impossibility: in case that, or if, we shall have neglected (slighted). The participle aorist is properly used, since the culpability must first have been incurred before a punishment can ensue.

τηλικαύτης σωτηρίας] such a salvation, i.e. one so great, so far surpassing in exaltedness that of the O. T. Theodorus Mopsuestenus: ἐκεῖνο νομίμων δόσις ἦν μόνον, ἐνταῦθα δὲ καὶ χάρις πνεύματος καὶ λύσις ἁμαρτημάτων καὶ βασιλείας οὐρανῶν ἐπαγγελία καὶ ἀθαναδίας ὑπόσχεσις· ὅθεν καὶ δικαίως τηλικαύτης εἶπεν.

τηλικαύτης does not in itself contain a reference to ἥτις (Tholuck and others; the former will then have ἥτις taken in the sense of ὥστε), but stands there independently of any correlative; it is then, however, after the question has closed with σωτηρίας, enforced by the clause with ἥτις (quippe quae).

ἥτις ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι διὰ τοῦ κυρίου, ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη] which indeed, at first proclaimed by the Lord, was handed down with certainty to us by them that heard it. Wrongly does Ebrard translate: “which was confirmed to us by the hearers, as one proclaimed by the Lord from the very first,” in supposing that ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα depends upon ἐβεβαιώθη as an “apposition of object.” For how can ἀρχὴν λαβὸν λαλεῖσθαι denote something proclaimed “from the very beginning,” or “from the commencement”? And how unskilfully would the author have proceeded in the choice and position of his words, if—as Ebrard supposes—he had wished to express the thought, “that the σωτηρία was directly revealed by the Lord, has been transmitted to us as a certainty, and thus as a divine legitimation of the σωτηρία by the ἀκούσαντες, the ear- (and eye-) witnesses!” ἀρχὴν λαβεῖν, to begin, always presupposes an opposition, expressed or understood, to a being continued, or to a being brought to an end. When thus in our passage there is mention made not only of an ἀρχὴν λαβεῖν λαλεῖσθαι by the Lord, but also of a βεβαιωθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς on the part of those who heard the Lord, it is clear that the author will have these two factors regarded as statements of two distinct but mutually corresponding periods of time.

In general, it is wrong when Ebrard, in connection with his explanation just adduced, will find in Hebrews 2:3 the twofold contrast with the law—(1) That the law was a mere word ( λόγος); the gospel, on the other hand, a deliverance, a redemption, an act. (2) That the σωτηρία was manifested and proclaimed to men as at first hand, by the Lord Himself; the law, on the contrary, only at second hand, by the angels. For, as concerns the first alleged point of difference, assuredly the emphasis rests neither upon λόγος, Hebrews 2:2, nor upon σωτηρίας, Hebrews 2:3; but, Hebrews 2:2, upon διʼ ἀγγέλων, and, Hebrews 2:3, upon τηλικαύτης. The second alleged point of difference falls, however, with the consideration that the author employs the preposition διά, as before ἀγγέλων, Hebrews 2:2, so also before τοῦ κυρίου, Hebrews 2:3; thus indicates that the supreme Author alike of the Mosaic law and of the gospel is God Himself, both consequently are proclaimed to man “only at second hand.”(42) The pre-eminence of the gospel can accordingly have been discovered by our author only in the fact that in connection with this the Lord Himself was the intervening agent; in connection with the law, on the other hand, only the angels, who, according to chap. 1., are subordinate to the Lord.

ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων] by them that heard it (sc. from the Lord; παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου, Chrysost.), thus by His apostles and immediate disciples. From these ἀκούσαντες the author distinguishes himself and his readers ( εἰς ἡ΄ᾶς). As well he himself as the Palestinian Christians to whom he writes must consequently have already belonged to a second generation of Christendom, and the author of the epistle cannot have been Paul (comp. Introd. p. 11). When Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. p. 378, 2 Aufl.) objects to this: “from εἰς ἡμᾶς is in truth evident only that the author belonged not to the number of those who could testify that they had with their own ears heard the Lord, at the time when He was upon earth proclaiming that salvation which they now preached,” this is indeed perfectly correct. But when he adds that Paul likewise had certainly only heard the word of salvation from the mouth of those who had listened to Jesus, this is—so long as the solemn asseveration of Paul himself (comp. expressly Galatians 1:12) has any value for us—decidedly false. For Paul reckons himself not among the disciples of the ἀκούσαντες, but among the ἀκούσαντες themselves. For the circumstance that the ἀκούειν was otherwise brought about in his case than in the case of the original apostles, inasmuch as these had stood in the relation of ἀκούσαντες to the Christ walking upon earth, Paul, on the other hand, stood in the relation of an ἀκούσας to the exalted or heavenly Christ, left the essence of the matter itself untouched. Nor even by the assumption of a so-called ἀνακοίνωσις, to which recourse has very frequently been had, can the conclusion resulting with stringent necessity from the words of our verse be set aside; for that which the writer of a letter says to his readers by means of an ἀνακοίνωσις is always of such nature as to be likewise true of himself; never can it stand in excluding opposition to himself.

ἐβεβαιώθη] corresponds to the ἐγένετο βέβαιος, Hebrews 2:2; and εἰς ἡ΄ᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη is a well-known blending of the notion of rest with that of the preceding movement. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 386 f. Theophylact: διεπορθμεύθη εἰς ἡμᾶς βεβαίως καὶ πιστῶς, it came to us in a firm, trustworthy manner, so that it has become for us a σωτηρία βεβαία. Wrongly Heinrichs (and so also Seb. Schmidt, Wittich, Wolf, Cramer, Paulus, and others), according to whom εἰς ἡ΄ᾶς signifies ad nostra tempora, or usque ad nos.


Verse 4

Hebrews 2:4. συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ κ. τ. λ.] in that, with them (the ἀκούσαντες), God bore testimony in addition, to the same (the salvation, the σωτηρία), by signs and wonders. The doubly compound word συνεπιμαρτυρεῖν in the N. T. only here. Nor is it found at all in the LXX. With later profane writers, on the other hand, it is not rare. See examples in Bleek, Abth. II. 1 Hälfte, p. 218.

σημεῖα and τέρατα only distinguished in the form of conception as signa and portenta, not different in the notion conveyed by them. Comp. Fritzsche on Romans 15:19 (t. iii. p. 270).

ποικίλαις] belongs only to δυνάμεσιν. The adjective is not likewise to be referred to μερισμοῖς (Bleek, Maier). For the notion of ποικίλον is again specially brought into prominence in the sequel, in that it forms an element also in the contents of κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν.

The δυνάμεις, however, are not miraculous acts, but the source of the same: miraculous powers.

καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κ. τ. λ.] and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His good pleasure. πνεύματος ἁγίου is genitivus objectiv., not subjectiv. (Cameron and others); and μερισμός, which (Hebrews 4:12) signifies dividing, denotes here, in accordance with the use of the verb μερίζειν, Hebrews 7:2, Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 7:17, 2 Corinthians 10:13 : an apportioning or dealing out, distribution.

κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν] Addition, not to the whole period, Hebrews 2:4 (Abresch, Böhme), nor to ποικίλαιςμερισμοῖς (Bleek), but only to μερισμοῖς (de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz), on which account this is also placed after the genitive πνεύματος ἁγίου. αὐτοῦ relates back to τοῦ θεοῦ, not to πνεύματος ἁγίου (Oecumenius, Carpzov), and the whole addition κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν has the design not only in general of representing the bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit on the part of God as a work of His free grace, but also of pointing to the manifold character of those distributions, inasmuch as, according to God’s free determination of will, the Holy Spirit was communicated in greater fulness to the one than to the other, and of the special gifts of the Spirit to the one was granted this, to the other that. Comp. 1 Corinthians 12.

On the un-Attic θέλησις, comp. Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 7, 353; Pollux, v. 165: βούλησις, ἐπιθυμία, ὄρεξις, ἔρως· δὲ θέλησις ἰδιωτικόν.


Verse 5

Hebrews 2:5. The author has brought into relief the fact, Hebrews 2:3, that it was the Son of God, or the Lord, according to chap. 1, highly exalted above the angels, by whom the Messianic salvation was proclaimed, and from whose immediate disciples it was handed down to Christendom. He now justifies this order of things as founded in a higher divine decree, and already foretold in the Scriptures of the Old Covenant. That order of things is, however, justified, in conformity to the comparison of Christ with the angels, which is begun with Hebrews 1:4, first, e contrario or negatively, Hebrews 2:5, and then, Hebrews 2:6, positively. The emphasis lies in Hebrews 2:5 upon ἀγγέλοις, and this then finds its antithesis in ἄνθρωπος and υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, Hebrews 2:6. For when the author first in an absolute form of expression says: For not unto the angels has He put into subjection the world to come, and then continues: But one in a certain place testifies, etc., the sense—on account of the close connectedness of Hebrews 2:6 (see on that verse) with Hebrews 2:5—is certainly this: for, according to the testimony of Scripture, the world to come is put in subjection, not to angels, but to Christ, the Son of man.

ἀγγέλοις] without article. For it stands generically: beings who are angels, who have the nature of angels (Bleek). [Owen: nature angelical.] De Wette supposes the reason for the anarthrous form to be in the possibility that only a part of the angels are to be thought of. Unsuitably, because in connection with οὐκ ἀγγέλοις already the definite antithesis: “but to the Son of man,” was present to the mind of the author (comp. Hebrews 2:6).

ὑπέταξεν] sc. θεός, which naturally follows from the τοῦ θεοῦ of Hebrews 2:4. The verb expresses the notion of making dependent, or of the placing in a position of subjection, and is chosen because the same expression is employed in the citation presently to be adduced (comp. Hebrews 2:8).

τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν] the world to come. This mode of designating it is explained from the well-known Biblical phraseology, according to which the Messianic period was distinguished as the αἰὼν μέλλων, from the pre-Messianic as the αἰὼν αὗτος.(43) What is meant, consequently, is not something purely future (Theodoret: μέλλων βίος; Oecumenius: ἐσόμενος κόσμος; Schulz: the new order of the world which is approaching; Bleek II. the blessings of the kingdom of God which will first be manifested and conferred upon believers at the return of the Lord in glory; Grotius, Maier, and others: heaven, as the future dwelling-place of the Christians also), but the new order of things in the Messianic kingdom, which in its first manifestations has already appeared, but as regards its completion is still a future one. Calvin: apparet non vocari orbem futurum dumtaxat, qualem e resurrectione speramus, sed qui coepit ab exordio regni Christi, complementum vero suum habebit in ultima redemptione. τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν is itself without emphasis; on the contrary, only resumes under another form the τηλικαύτης σωτηρίας of Hebrews 2:3. It results from this, that the opinion according to which the tacit contrast is to be supplied in thought to the declaration, Hebrews 2:5 : “the present world is indeed” to be regarded as “subjected to the angels, by them swayed and governed” (Cameron, Bleek, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 656, al.), is a baseless one. For it must then have been written οὐ γὰρ τὴν μέλλουσαν οἰκουμένην ἀγγέλοις ὑπέταξεν.

περὶ ἧς λαλοῦμεν] does not go back to Hebrews 1:6 (Theophylact, Zeger, Grotius, Schlichting, Schulz, Böhme; comp. also Delitzsch),—against which the present λαλοῦμεν, in place of which a preterite must have been expected, and not less the addition τὴν μέλλουσαν to τὴν οἰκουμένην, is decisive,—nor is λαλοῦμεν put in place of a future: “de quo in sequenti testimonio loquemur” (Vatablus); but the relative clause is to be taken quite generally: which is the subject of our discourse (our epistle). Too specially Kurtz: “of which we are speaking just now, in this section of our epistle,” which would have called for the addition of a νῦν. The plural λαλοῦμεν, moreover, has reference merely to the writer. Comp. Hebrews 5:11, Hebrews 6:9; Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 13:18. Without good reason does Bengel supplement nos doctores; while even, according to Hofmann, “all who believe the promise, the apostle and his readers,” are the subject of λαλοῦμεν, inasmuch as it is only a question of an “additional explanatory clause, when the apostle adds that that world to come is intended, of which the Christians speak!”


Verses 5-18

Hebrews 2:5-18. Further investigation of the relation of Christ to the angels, and demonstration of the necessity for the death of Christ. Not to angels, but to Christ, the Son of man, has, according to the testimony of Scripture, the Messianic world been subjected. Certainly Christ was abased for a short time lower than the angels; but so it must be, in order that mankind might obtain salvation; He must suffer and die, and become in all things like unto men, His brethren, in order to be able as High Priest to reconcile them to God.


Verse 6

Hebrews 2:6 attaches itself closely to Hebrews 2:5, in that the adversative δέ (different from the disjunctive ἀλλά, but, on the contrary. Comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 171), as Hebrews 4:13; Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 10:27, Hebrews 12:13, 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 7:25 fin., and frequently, as it were correcting the preceding negative statement, now places in opposition the actual state of the question: Some one, however (some one, on the contrary), testified in a certain place and said. Quite wrongly does Heinrichs suppose an entirely new section of the epistle to begin with Hebrews 2:6.

πού τις] The wavering character of this form of citation is derived by Grotius from the consideration that the Psalms were the work of different authors, and the authors of particular psalms were often unknown. But the eighth Psalm, here cited, is, both in the Hebrew and the LXX., expressly ascribed to David. According to Koppe (Excursus I. ad epist. ad Roman., 2d ed. p. 379), Dindorf, Schulz, Heinrichs (comp. also Stengel), the indefiniteness of the formula is to be explained by the fact that the author is citing from memory. But the words agree too exactly with the LXX. to be a citation from memory, and, moreover, the indefinite που occurs again, Hebrews 4:4, in connection with the citation of Genesis 2:2, thus in connection with an appeal to a passage of the O. T. Scripture, of which the place where it is found could not possibly escape the memory of our author. De Wette, after the precedent of Bleek [cf. Peshito: the Scripture witnesses, and says], regards it as the most correct supposition that the author “was not concerned about the particular writers of Scripture, since for him God or the Holy Ghost spoke through the Scripture.” Yet, if the reason for the form of expression is to be sought in this, then in general we should hardly expect the personal indication τίς to be added, but rather a passive construction to be chosen. According to Hofmann, finally, ̔ πού τις is intended to declare “that it is indeed a matter of indifference for his purpose who said this, and where it is found; that it is adduced as the utterance of some man, only an utterance which comes invested with the authority of Scripture!” The indefinite mode of citation has probably no other than a rhetorical ground, inasmuch as the author presupposes a universal acquaintance with the passage, without concerning himself to learn whether it is known to all or not. So substantially also Chrysostom ( τοῦτο δὲ αὐτό, οἶμαι, τὸ κρύπτειν καὶ μὴ τιθέναι τὸν εἰρηκότα τὴν μαρτυρίαν, ἀλλʼ ὡς περιφερομένην καὶ κατάδηλον οὖσαν εἰσάγειν, δεικνύντος ἐστίν, αὐτοὺς σφόδρα ἐμπείρους εἶναι τῶν γραφῶν), Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Jac. Cappellus, Cornelius a Lapide [Owen: “the reason is plain; both person and place were sufficiently known to them to whom he wrote”], Calov, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, al. The same reticence in the mode of citation is often found with Philo. Comp. e.g. de ebrietate, p. 248 (ed. Mangey, I. p. 365): εἶπε γάρ πού τις (sc. Abraham, Genesis 20:12). Further examples see in Bleek, Abth. II. 1 Hälfte, p. 239.

The citation, which extends to ̔ ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, Hebrews 2:8, is from Psalms 8:5-7 (4–6). The utterance in its historic sense contains a declaration with regard to man in general; but the author, on the ground of the ideal import of the passage, as likewise in particular on the ground of the expression υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, which in consequence of Daniel 7:13 was current with the Jews as an appellation of the Messiah (comp. John 12:34), which, too, was one often bestowed by Jesus upon Himself, finds in it a declaration concerning the Son of man κατʼ ἐξοχήν, i.e. concerning Christ.(44) Paul, too, has Messianically interpreted the psalm, 1 Corinthians 15:27 f. (comp. Ephesians 1:22).

τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος κ. τ. λ.] What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him! i.e., in the sense of the original, How small, weak, and insignificant, as compared with the majestic heavenly bodies, is man, that Thou shouldst nevertheless take a loving and careful interest in him! In the application: How great and full of dignity is man, that Thou so greatly distinguishest him with loving care! (Kuinoel, Heinrichs, Böhme, Bleek, Stein; otherwise, de Wette, Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 45, 2 Aufl.; Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 361; Alford, Moll, Kurtz, al.). Thus the author could understand the words, although the “being mindful” and “looking upon” do not very well accord therewith, in that he was guided in his acceptance of them pre-eminently by the final clause δόξῃαὐτοῦ.

] instead of this ו is found in the Hebrew, thus introduces a purely parallel member, in such wise that υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου is identical with ἄνθρωπος in the first member, and is distinguished therefrom only as a more sharply defined presentation of the same notion.


Verse 7

Hebrews 2:7. ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους] Thus the LXX. translate the Hebrew ותְּחַסְרֵהוּ מְעַט מֵאֱלֹהִים. The sense of the Hebrew is: “Thou hast made Him only a little lower than God, hast made Him only a little less than God.” The βραχύ τι is consequently in the original a note of degree, and the whole former member ἠλάττωσαςἀγγέλους contains in the original the same thought as the immediately following δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν. The author, however, takes the βραχύ τι of the LXX. in the temporal sense: “for a short time” (comp. Hebrews 2:9), and finds in the second member an opposition to the first, in such wise that in the application he refers the statement of the first clause to the humiliation of Christ, that of the second to the exaltation of Christ.

The words following these in the LXX. (as also in the Hebrew): καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου (comp. the critical remarks), have been left out by the author as unsuitable to his presentment. For the statement that God has set the Son of man or the Messiah over the works of creation which proceeded from the hands of God, might appear to contain a contradiction to Hebrews 1:10 (comp. also Hebrews 1:2), where earth and heaven were designated as works created by the hands of the Son.


Verse 8

Hebrews 2:8. πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ] All things didst Thou put in subjection under His feet. In the psalm these words refer to the dominion which God has conferred upon man over the earth, and indeed specially (comp. Psalms 8:8-9 [7, 8]) over the whole animal world. The author of the epistle, on the other hand, taking πάντα in the absolute sense, understands them of the dominion over the universe which has been conferred upon Christ, the Son of man. Comp. Matthew 28:18.

With ἐν γὰρ τῷ ὑποτάξαιἀνυπόακτον the author still dwells on the closing words of the citation: πάντα ὑπέταξας κ. τ. λ., in order by way of elucidation to unfold its contents, and thus to place in clearer light the truth of the main thought expressed Hebrews 2:5-8. γάρ consequently refers back to that which immediately precedes, and the supposition of Tholuck—that ἐν γὰρ τῷ ὑποτάξαι κ. τ. λ., as the clause which affords the proof, is parenthetically preposed to the νῦν δὲ κ. τ. λ., as the clause which is to be proved, so that the connection would be: “but now we see not yet all things made subject to Him; for, according to the declaration of the psalm, all things without exception are subject to Him”—is to be rejected as entirely unnecessary; quite apart from the fact that no instance of such parenthetical preposing of an elucidatory clause with γάρ is to be found anywhere in the N. T. (not in John 4:44-45 either), although not rare with classical writers (comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 467; Kühner, Gramm. II. p. 454). Nor does γάρ stand for οὖν (Heinrichs, Stengel), but is the explicative namely. The subject in ὑποτάξαι, further, is not David, the singer of the psalm (Heinrichs), but God; and the emphasis rests upon the opposition between τὰ πάντα and οὐδέν. The threefold αὐτᾷ, finally, relates not to man in general (Beza [Piscator: the believers], Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Whitby, Storr, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Alford, Moll, Hofmann, Woerner, and others), but to the Son of man, and that not merely as regards its signification (Masch, Bleek, de Wette), but—as is shown by the ἰησοῦν, only incidentally added, Hebrews 2:9—to the Son of man as He appeared in Christ as an historical person (Calvin, Gerhard, Calov, Seb. Schmidt, Wittich, Peirce, Schulz, Tholuck, Klee, Stuart, Conybeare, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 364; Kurtz, Ewald, al.). The sense is accordingly: by the fact, namely, that God made all things subject to Christ, the Son of man, He left nothing that is not subjected unto Him; it is thus also—this natural inference the author leaves to the readers themselves to make—to Him, the Son of man, and not to the angels, that οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα (Hebrews 2:5), which is only a part of that τὰ πάντα, is subjected; nay, the angels themselves, seeing that all things have been put in subjection under Him, are themselves subject to Him.

With νῦν δὲ οὔπω ὁρῶμεν αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα ὑποτεταγμένα the author limits the immediately preceding declaration by an admission, by which, however, as is then further shown, Hebrews 2:9, the correctness of the former assertion as to the actual state of the matter suffers no infringement: now, however,—that must be conceded,—we see not yet all things subjected unto Him. For we are as yet in the condition of the earthly body; as yet the kingdom of God is only partially established; as yet it has to wage warfare with many enemies (comp. Hebrews 10:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:24-27). We shall see that all things have been made subject to Christ by God the Father only when Christ shall have returned for the consummation of the kingdom of God.


Verse 9

Hebrews 2:9. Proof that, notwithstanding the circumstances just mentioned, the matter itself which has been asserted is perfectly true. Certainly we do not, at the present moment, as yet see all things made subject to Christ, the Son of man; but we do see Him already crowned with glory and honour, in that after suffering and dying He has been exalted to the right hand of the Father. From the reality of the one, however, which we see, follows of necessity the reality of the other, which we do not yet see. For if the word of Scripture: δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, has already been fulfilled in His case, there can be no kind of doubt but in like manner also the further word of Scripture: πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, inseparably connected as it is with the former, has already attained its realization in Him.

The words of Hebrews 2:9 have undergone a strange misinterpretation on the part of Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 45 ff. 2 Aufl.). As Hofmann with regard to Hebrews 2:7 already denies that the two members of the sentence in that verse: ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους and δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, form in the mind of the writer an opposition to each other, so just as little is the writer in Hebrews 2:9 supposed to have had present to his mind in connection with τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον the humiliation of Christ, and with δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον the exaltation of Christ. Hebrews 2:9 is thought rather to refer exclusively to the Jesus “living in the flesh,” and the connection is thus explained: “Far from its being the case that we see all things subjected to man, He, on the contrary, of whom that which the psalm speaks of man holds good in full truth, Jesus namely, stands before our eyes in a position of divine appointment, as such demanded by the existing calamity of death, which, according to Hebrews 2:14, makes the devil a ruler and us bondsmen.” For by βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένος there is reference made, in the opinion of Hofmann, to the person of man, of which the psalm is treating, with regard to the dignity belonging thereto as conferred by God,—inasmuch as βραχύ τι is to be taken of degree,—but by τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου is indicated the misfortune consisting in death itself, and not his suffering of death; and δόξα καὶ τιμή finally expresses, according to Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 5:4-5, the glorious character of his position by virtue of his vocation. The sense of Hebrews 2:9, then, is supposed to be: “What He, in whom the wealth of human nature has appeared in full truth, denotes and represents on the part of God,—for the former is meant by τιμή, the latter by δόξα,—that He denotes and represents, for the reason that mankind is obnoxious to the suffering of death, and to the end that He might taste a death which should redound unto good for every one!” See, on the other hand, the remarks of Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 333 ff., note.

τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττω μένον is the object, and δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον the predicate to βλέπομεν, while ἰησοῦν is the appositional nearer definition of the object brought in only at the close. The sense thus is: “But we do indeed see the one for a time abased below the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour.” Wrongly others: “As the one for a time abased below the angels do we recognise Jesus, who is crowned with glory and honour.” For, in order to express this thought, ἰησοῦν τὸνἐστεφανωμένον must have been placed. Wrongly likewise Ebrard, with whom Delitzsch agrees in substance, who takes ἰησοῦν as object, ἠλαττωμένον as adjectival attribute to ἰησοῦν, and ἐστεφανωμένον as predicate to the object. The sense then is: “mankind is not yet exalted; but Jesus, who was indeed abased for a while below the angels, we see already crowned with glory and honour.” This construction, which at any rate rests upon the false supposition that the subject of discourse, Hebrews 2:6-8, is not already Christ, the Son of man, but only man in general, and that the author of the epistle had regarded as fully identical the two utterances of the psalm: δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, and πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, would only be permissible in the case that ἰησοῦν δέ, τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον, βλέπομεν κ. τ. λ., or τὸν δὲ βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον ἰησοῦν βλέπομεν κ. τ. λ., had been written. By the position of the ἰησοῦν after βλέπομεν it becomes impossible; since in consequence thereof ἰησοῦν appears as entirely unaccentuated, consequently can be regarded only as a supplementary addition by way of elucidation with regard to the question who is to be understood by the βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένος. ἰησοῦν might even have been entirely left out without detriment to the sense and intelligibility of that which the author would imply; it is nevertheless inserted, in order, by the express mention of His name, to cut off every kind of doubt upon the point that it is no other than Christ, the historic Redeemer, of whom the citation adduced, Hebrews 2:6-8, is treating.

βλέπομεν] we see, perceive; namely, with the eyes of the mind; comp. Hebrews 3:19, al. For it is openly testified that Christ rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven; and Christians feel that He is reigning in power and glory by means of the Holy Spirit, which He has conferred upon them.

διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου] on account of His suffering of death, belongs not to βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον (Origen, in Joann. t. ii. c. 6; Augustine, contra Maximin. Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5; Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Beza, Schlichting, Cornelius a Lapide, Cameron, Calov, Limborch, Semler, al.), but to δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον (Luther, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, Böhme, Bleek, Tholuck, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 357; Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, and many others). Only this mode of referring the clause has the merit of naturalness from the position of the words; only this is grammatically and logically justified. For not only with this construction does διά with the accusative retain its only possible signification, but the thought likewise finds its confirmation in the sequel ( διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι, Hebrews 2:10), and accords with the view of Paul, Philippians 2:9, according to which the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father was the consequence and divine recompense of the voluntary abasement endured even to the death of the cross. Supposing the connection to be with that which precedes, διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου must contain a later added nearer definition to ἠλαττωμένον; but a second supplementary nearer definition, seeing that ἰησοῦν already occupies such a position, would be extremely improbable, when we consider the carefulness with regard to style which prevails in this epistle; it would not, like ἰησοῦν, have a purpose to serve, but be merely an instance of linguistic negligence such as ought not to be readily laid to the charge of our author. Moreover, διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου, referred to that which precedes, does not even admit of any satisfactory explanation. For, as thus combined, it is interpreted either: humbled by reason of the suffering of death, i.e. by suffering death, or: humbled for the sake of the suffering of death, i.e. in order to be able to undertake it. But in the latter case the choice of the preposition διά would be an exceedingly ill-judged one, since we must, at any rate, have expected εἰς τὸ πάσχειν τὸν θάνατον, or something similar. In the former case, on the other hand, διά must have been combined with the genitive instead of the accusative, quite apart from the consideration that the author can hardly be supposed to limit the humiliation of Christ to the moment of His death, but rather (comp. Hebrews 2:14), like Paul, to comprehend in general the whole period of His life in the flesh.

ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου] that He by the grace of God might taste death for every one, does not depend upon δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον. For the enduring of death was certainly not something which was to take place only after the exaltation, but already preceded this. The contorted interpretations, however: so that He died for all (Erasmus, Paraphr., Tena, Ribera, Morus, Valckenaer, Kuinoel), or: in order that He may have suffered death for all (Ebrard), or: postquam mortem gustavit (Schleusner), are grammatically impossible. But since a connecting of the final clause with ἠλαττωμένον (Akersloot, Bengel, Böhme, Bisping) is, considering the grammatical construction of Hebrews 2:9, quite inconceivable, ὅπως κ. τ. λ. can be only a further, but pregnant, exponent of the preceding τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου: on account of His suffering of death, namely, in order that He might, etc.

χάριτι θεοῦ] for the grace and love of God is the supreme cause of the redeeming death of Christ (comp. Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:21).

ὑπέρ] on behalf of for the weal of.

παντός] is not neuter, in such wise that the declaration should apply to the whole creation, including the angels (Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact; comp. Origen, in Joann. t. i. c. 40);(45) for this thought comes into collision with Hebrews 2:16, and the expression thereof would be incorrect, since we must expect in that case ὑπὲρ πάσης τῆς κτίσεως, or at least ὑπὲρ τοῦ παντός. παντός is masculine, and has reference only to mankind. The singular, however, is placed, not the plural πάντων, in order distinctly to bring out the thought that Christ died on behalf of each single individual among men (namely, who will appropriate the salvation offered him), not merely for mankind as a totality, as a compact corporation. [Piscator and Owen understand: each and every one, sc. of the πολλοὶ υἱοί mentioned Hebrews 2:10. Cf. Acts 20:28.]

γεύεσθαι θανάτου] represents the experiencing of death under the figure of a tasting of the same. Comp. Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; John 8:52. The formula corresponds to the rabbinical טְעַם מו̇ תָה (see Schoettgen and Wetstein on Matthew 16:28), and has its manifold analogies in the Greek turns: γεύεσθαι ΄όχθων (Soph. Trachin. 1101), κακῶν (Eurip. Hec. 379; Luc. Nigr. 28), πένθους πικροῦ (Eurip. Alcest. 1069), πόνων (Pindar, Nem. 6:41), ὀϊστοῦ (Homer, Odyss. xxi. 98), τῆς ἀρχῆς, τῆς ἐλευθερίης (Herod. iv. 147, Hebrews 6:5), etc. The formula is only a more significant expression for the ordinary ἀποθνήσκειν. Neither the notion of the brief duration of Christ’s death (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Clarius, Camerarius, Braun, Peirce, Cramer, Ch. F. Schmid), nor along with this the notion of the reality of that death (Beza, Bengel), nor, finally, the notion of the bitterness of the death sufferings (Calov, Delitzsch, Maier, Kurtz), lies in the expression.

REMARK.

In connection with the explanation of the reading χωρὶς θεοῦ (see the critical remarks) comes forth the main diversity, that these words were either taken as closely conjoined with ὑπὲρ παντός, or regarded in themselves as an independent nearer defining of the verb. The former mode of explanation is adopted by Origen, Theodoret, Ebrard, Ewald: “in order that He might suffer death for all beings, with the exception of God alone;” further Bengel, and Chr. F. Schmid: “in order that, with a view to purchasing or subjecting all things except God, He might suffer death.” But against both acceptations is the fact that παντός cannot be neuter (see above), against the latter, moreover, in particular the fact that the notion: “in order to purchase to himself,” cannot possibly be expressed by the mere ὑπὲρ παντός. As an independent addition χωρὶς θεοῦ is taken by Theodorus Mopsuestenus, Ambrose, Fulgentius, the Nestorians, and P. Colomesius (Observatt. Sacr. p. 603): “that He might taste death without God, i.e. without the participation of His Godhead, with the mere sharing of His humanity in death.” But that such a thought, in itself entirely alien as it is to the Biblical writers, could not have been expressed by χωρὶς θεοῦ, is at once apparent. There must at least have been written χωρὶς τῆς αὐτοῦ θεότητος. To this place further belongs Paulus, with an appeal to Matthew 27:46 : “as without God, as one abandoned by God, not delivered.” But the added “as,” by which alone the interpretation becomes tolerable, is without grammatical justification the expositor’s own additamentum.


Verse 10

Hebrews 2:10. Not without design has the author, Hebrews 2:9, added to the declaration δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον the indication of the cause, διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου, and then brought into relief this superadded clause by the final statement: ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου. For the Redeemer’s death of the cross, ridiculed by the Gentiles as folly, was to the Jews an offence (1 Corinthians 1:23). Even to the Hebrews, to whom the author is writing, the thought of a Messiah who passed through sufferings and death might be a stumbling-block not yet surmounted, and, with other things, have contributed to shake their confidence in Christianity, and incline them to relapse into Judaism. Without, therefore, further giving express utterance to the conclusion to be expected after Hebrews 2:9 (see on Hebrews 2:9, init.), but rather leaving the supplying of the same to the readers, the author passes over, Hebrews 2:10 ff., at once to the justification of that fact regarded as an offence, in bringing into relief the consideration that the choice of that way, so apparently strange, of causing the Messiah to attain to glory through sufferings and death, was altogether worthy of God (Hebrews 2:10), and necessary (Hebrews 2:14-18), in order that Christ might be qualified to be the redeemer of sinful humanity.

Wrongly does Tholuck suppose that Hebrews 2:10 attaches itself to δόξῃ ἐστεφανωμένον, Hebrews 2:9, and expresses the thought that the glorification of Him could not fail of its accomplishment, who became to others the author of salvation. For the centre of gravity in the proposition lies not in τελειῶσαι, but in διὰ παθημάτων, which Tholuck erroneously degrades to a mere “secondary thought.”

ἔπρεπεν] it was befitting; not an expression of necessity (Kuinoel, Bloomfield, al.), but of meetness and becomingness, in relation partly to the nature of God (comp. διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα), partly to the ends He would attain (cf. Hebrews 2:14-18). Comp. Philo, Legg. allegor. I. p. 48 E (with Mangey, I. p. 53): πρέπει τῷ θεῷ φυτεύειν καὶ οἰκοδομεῖν ἐν ψυχῇ τὰς ἀρετάς.

De incorrupt. Mundi, p. 950 B (with Mangey, II. p. 500): ἐμπρεπὲς δὲ θεῷ τὰ ἄμορφα μορφοῦν καὶ τοῖς αἰσχίστοις περιτιθέναι θαυμαστὰ κάλλη.

αὐτῷ, διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα] does not relate to Christ (Primasius, Hunnius, Königsmann, Cramer, al.), but is a periphrasis for God. This periphrastic delineation, however, of the divine characteristics justifies the ἔπρεπεν in its truth and naturalness. For He who is the Supreme Cause and Creator of the Universe cannot have done anything unworthy of Himself.

τὰ πάντα] the totality of all that exists, not merely that which serves for the bringing about of salvation (Schlichting, Grotius, Limborch, Paulus).

διʼ ὅν] for the sake of whom,(46) characterizes God as the One for whom, i.e. to accomplish whose ends, all things are designed, and corresponds to the εἰς αὐτόν, Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6; while διʼ οὗ characterizes Him as the One by whom all things have been effected or created, inasmuch as, according to the popular conception, the notion of the originating is not strictly separated from that of effecting, since both are summed up under the more general notion of disposing, preparing [ ποιεῖν, παρασκευάζειν, ἑτοιμάζειν]; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 1:1. In the case of our author, moreover, the placing of the inaccurate διʼ οὖ instead of the more accurate ἐξ οὖ (comp. Romans 11:36) or ὑφʼ οὗ, may also have been occasioned with a view to the paronomasia produced by the use of the twofold διά with different cases.

πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα] is not a preposed apposition to τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν: “it became God to make Him,—as one who led many sons unto glory,—namely, the Beginner of their salvation, perfect through sufferings” (Primasius, Erasmus, Paraphr.; Estius, Heinrichs, Stuart, Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl., p. 321 f.; Ebrard, Nickel, in Reuter’s Repert. 1857, Oct. p. 20, and many others). Such construction is not indeed to be opposed, as Böhme and Bleek think, on the ground that the article τόν could not in that case have been wanting also before πολλούς. On the contrary, either the addition or the omission of the article before πολλούς would be justified; only a modification of the sense results from the choice of the one or the other course. If the article is placed, then τὸν πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα and τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν are two parallel but co-ordinate utterances, in such wise that the second repeats the first only in more sharply-defined form of expression. In connection with the omission of the article, again, the first expression stands in the relation of subordination to the second, and is a preposed statement of the reason for the same. But what really decides against that view is—(1) That according to Hebrews 2:11 the believers are brethren of Christ, and sons of God; consequently πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα would be unsuitable as an utterance with respect to Christ, while the interpretation of the υἱούς as sons of God, adopted by Nickel, l.c., in connection with the referring of the ἀγαγόντα to Christ, would be unnatural. (2) That, assuming the identity of the subject in ἀγαγόντα and ἀρχηγόν, both expressions would in effect cover each other, consequently become tautological. We must accordingly take, as the subject in πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα, God; in τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν, Christ. So Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Annott.; Luther, Vatablus, Calvin, Piscator, Grotius, Owen, Bengel, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bisping, Delitzsch, Buttmann (Gramm. p. 262), Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 51 f.), Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 581), Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Woerner, and many others. It cannot, however, be urged against the referring of ἀγαγόντα to God (Carpzov, Michaelis, and others), that we have not, instead of the accusative ἀγαγόντα, the dative ἀγαγόντι, which no doubt would have been more accurate on account of the preceding αὐτῷ; since this very accusative is otherwise the general case of the subject grammatically construed with the accusative. Transitions to the latter, spite of a preceding dative, are accordingly nothing rare; comp. Acts 11:12; Acts 15:22; Luke 1:74; Kühner, Gramm. II. p. 346 f.; Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 367, fin.

πολλούς] not equivalent to πάντας (Seb. Schmidt). πολλούς renders prominent only the notion of multitude or plurality, quite apart from the question whether or not this plurality is to be thought of as the totality of mankind; comp. Hebrews 9:28; Romans 5:15; Romans 8:29; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28.

εἰς δόξαν] The δόξα is not distinguished, as to the thing itself, from the σωτηρία mentioned immediately after. The Messianic glory and blessedness is intended thereby. The word δόξα, however, was chosen in accordance with the words: δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον, Hebrews 2:9, taken over from the psalm cited.

ἀγαγόντα] cannot signify: “since He would lead” (Bleek, Stengel, Bloomfield, and Bisping; after the precedent of Erasmus, Annott.; Piscator, Grotius, Owen, Seb. Schmidt, Limborch, Peirce, Starck, Wolf, Storr, Ernesti, Dindorf, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee). For the aorist has never a future sense. But neither is ἀγαγόντα to be rendered by “qui adduxerat,” with the Vulgate, Estius, Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 39, 1 Aufl.; Komm. p. 121; differently Schriftbew. 2 Aufl. p. 51), and others; in such wise that the thought were directed to the saints of the O. T., already led to glory. For the characterizing of Christ as the ἀρχηγὸς τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν shows that the υἱοί, in whom was accomplished the εἶ δόξαν ἄγεσθαι on the part of God, must already have been in communion with Christ,(47)—the communion with Christ was the conditioning cause of their attainment to the δόξα. According to Tholuck, who is followed by Moll, the participle aorist indicates, “as the nearer defining of the infinitive aorist τελειῶσαι, the specific character of the same without respect to the relation of time.” But only the infinitive, not the participle aorist is used non-temporally; and the “specific character” of τελειῶσαι cannot be expressed by ἀγαγόντα, for the reason that the personal objects of ἀγαγόντα and τελειῶσαι are different, ἀγαγόντα can have no other meaning than: since He led, and is the indication of the cause from the standpoint of the writer. The participle aorist has its justification in the fact that, from the moment Christ appeared on earth as a redeemer, and found faith among men, God in reality was leading εἰς δόξαν those who believed, i.e. caused them to walk in the way to the δόξα. For only this notion of title to the δόξα in reversion, not that of the actual possession of the same, can be meant; inasmuch as the possession of the δόξα will only come in at the Parousia. The causal relation, however, of the participial clause: πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγάγοντα, to the main statement: ἔπρεπε τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθη΄άτων τελειῶσαι, and consequently the justification of the latter by the former, lies in the fact that the πολλοὶ υἱοί, just because they were not angels but men, could only be redeemed in that Christ for them became man, and for them suffered and died; even as the author himself will more fully show, Hebrews 2:14 ff. Others find the causal relation by supplying, in thought, διὰ παθη΄άτων to the first clause also. So Jac. Cappellus: “quum tot filios suos per afflictiones consecrasset, afflictionum via perduxisset ad gloriam pater coelestis, decebat sane et aequum erat, ut principem salutis eorum eadem via perduceret ad coelestem gloriam.” In like manner Grotius: “quia fieri non potest, ut qui se pietati dedunt, non multa mala patiantur … ideo Deus voluit ipsum auctorem salutiferae doctrinae non nisi per graves calamitates perducere ad statum ilum perfectae beatitudinis.” But in this case the express addition of διὰ παθη΄άτων in the first clause could not have been omitted.

τὸν ἀρχηγόν] Comp. Hebrews 12:2; Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31. Designation of the beginner, or first in a series, to which the further notion of author then easily attaches, so that the word is frequently used, as here, exactly in the sense of αἴτιος. Instances in Bleek, Abth. II. 1 Hälfte, p. 302.

τελειῶσαι] to bring to perfection, to lead to the goal, does not here express “an inner moral perfection, which has as its consequence the attainment of the highest outward goal” (de Wette, Tholuck, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 343, 346; and, long ago, Cameron), nor does it denote the close of the appointed course with which God has brought Jesus to the goal of that which He was to become, to the end of His earthly temporal existence (Hofmann); but resumes the notion of the δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ στεφανοῦσθαι, Hebrews 2:9, and is identical with this.


Verses 11-13

Hebrews 2:11-13. Elucidatory justification, in passing, of the expression πολλοὺς υἱούς, employed Hebrews 2:10; in proof of the brotherly relation existing between Christ and believers, already indicated by that expression. That this view as to the aim and signification of Hebrews 2:11-13 is the true one, is contested indeed by Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 366 f. (comp. also Kurtz, and Hofmann ad loc.). According to Riehm, Hebrews 2:11-13 are to be regarded not as mere accessory remarks, but as the first link in the proof for Hebrews 2:10, to which then Hebrews 2:14 f. attaches as second link; in such wise that only in the two thoughts together (Hebrews 2:11-13 and Hebrews 2:14 f.), not in Hebrews 2:14 by itself (see on the verses) alone, is a confirmation of Hebrews 2:10 to be found; and accordingly the (argumentative, not explicative) γάρ, Hebrews 2:11, belongs not merely to Hebrews 2:11. The following “chain of reasoning,” namely, is supposed to shape the course of thought: “it became God, etc. For—(1) Christ is brother to the Christians; it is thus not unbecoming that He should have been made like them; and (2) He must be made like them, because His suffering and death were necessary, if they were to be saved.” The untenable character of this statement of the connection of thought, as made by Riehm, is, however, sufficiently apparent from the fact—apart from the consideration that the contents of Hebrews 2:11-13 manifestly point back to the expression πολλοὺς υἱούς, Hebrews 2:10—that if the proof for the main thought of Hebrews 2:10 was designed in reality already to begin with Hebrews 2:11-13, it would surely not be the proposition: it is not unbecoming that Christ should be made like unto the Christians (of which there was no express mention so early as Hebrews 2:10), which must have been proved, but solely and simply the proposition: it is not unbecoming that God should have led Christ through suffering to perfection, in which the true central thought of Hebrews 2:10 is contained. But such proof is not given.

τε γὰρ ἁγιάζωνπάντες] Now He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified (through Him, i.e. through His atoning sacrificial death,(48) comp. Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 9:13 f., Hebrews 13:12) all have their origin in One,—is a special statement concerning Christ and Christians. To take the words as a proposition of universal validity, the application of which to Christ and the Christians was left to the readers, wherein there is specially an underlying allusion to the O. T. high priest and those whose cleansing from sins he accomplished (Schlichting, Gerhard, Schöttgen, al.), is forbidden by the connection with that which precedes and that which follows.

The present participles ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι are used substantively. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 331 f.

ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες] sc. εἰσίν. ἑνός is masculine. Wrongly is it by others taken as a neuter, in that they either supplement in thought: σπέρματος, or αἵ΄ατος, or γένους (so Carpzov, Abresch, al.), or else explain: ex communi massa (Jac. Cappellus, Akersloot), or “of one and the same nature” (Calvin, Cameron: ejusdem naturae et conditionis spiritualis; Cornelius a Lapide, Owen, Whitby, Moses Stuart); for neither is the supplying of a substantive admissible, nor can ἐκ, expressive as it is of the origin, be transformed into a declaration of nature and constitution. We have, however, to understand by ἑνός, not Adam (Erasmus, Paraphr.; Beza, Estius, Justinian, Hunnius, Baumgarten, Zachariae, Bisping, Wieseler in the Publications of the University of Kiel, 1867, p. 26; Hofmann, Woerner) or Abraham (Drusius, Peirce, Bengel), but God. Yet the notion of fatherhood, which is in this way assigned to God, is not to be expounded in the universal sense, in such wise that God would be called Creator and Father in relation to Christians also, only in the same manner in which He is the Creator of every creature (so Chrysostom and the majority), but is to be referred specially to the fact that Christians are His spiritual children (Piscator, Grotius, Limborch, Paulus, Bleek, Delitzsch, Alford, Moll). Comp. John 8:47; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 4:6; 1 John 5:19; 3 John 1:11.

πάντες] Peirce and Bengel would have taken with οἱ ἁγιαζό΄ενοι alone. The position of the word, however, renders this impossible. Rather does πάντες, after the close connection between the ἁγιάζων and the ἁγιαζό΄ενοι has already been accentuated by means of the τέ καί, still further lay stress upon the fact that they all, the Christians not less than Christ, are ἐξ ἑνός.

διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν] Wherefore. Comp. 2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 1:13. The same formula also not rarely with Philo.

οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται] He (sc. ἁγιάζων) is not ashamed. For Christ is the higher one. Comp. Hebrews 11:16.

αὐτούς] sc. τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους.


Verse 12

Hebrews 2:12. First proof, taken from Psalms 22:23 (22). In its historic sense the citation has reference to the composer of the psalm himself, who in the deepest distress supplicates God for deliverance, and promises to praise Him for the deliverance granted. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, on the other hand, interprets the psalm Messianically, and regards Christ as the subject speaking therein.

ἀπαγγελῶ] LXX.: διηγήσομαι.


Verse 12-13

Hebrews 2:12-13. Documentary proofs from Scripture for the οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν, Hebrews 2:11.


Verse 13

Hebrews 2:13. Second and third proofs, taken from Isaiah 8:17-18. The design of the author in dividing into two different citations, by means of καὶ πάλιν, the words which stand together in the Hebrew and the LXX., is not to present the relation of community between Christ and the Christians on two different sides, in that, namely, it is indicated in his first passage how the incarnate Son of God descended to the standpoint of man; in the second, on the other hand, how redeemed men are raised by God to the standpoint of Christ (Kurtz),—all of which is subtle and far-fetched; but only to pile up the Scripture testimonies, inasmuch as the end of Hebrews 2:17, as well as the beginning of Hebrews 2:18, seemed to him to contain each in itself an independent means of evidence for that which he would make good. The words of the first proof passage: πεποιθὼς ἔσομαι ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, are likewise found in the LXX. at 2 Samuel 22:3 and Isaiah 12:2. But that the author was not thinking of one of these passages (according to Ebrard, of the first), but of Isaiah 8:17, is the more natural supposition, because with the LXX. and in the original the words, which here, too, are first adduced (only in partially inverted order, and augmented by ἐγώ): καὶ πεποιθὼς ἔσομαι ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, immediately precede the directly following passage, taken from Isaiah 8:18. In their historic sense the words cited refer to the prophet and his sons, and, indeed, with the LXX., the ἰδοὺθεός is a further unfolding of the subject in ἔσομαι. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, however, regards the words as an utterance of Christ, led thereto, as Bleek rightly conjectures, by the καὶ ἐρεῖ, interpolated by the LXX. before Hebrews 2:17, which seemed to indicate another subject than the prophet, since he spoke throughout the whole section in the first person; and other than God, since He is spoken of, by virtue of ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, as the one in whom the speaker trusts. The demonstrative force of the words cited is found by our author in the fact that the person speaking, i.e. Christ, places Himself, by means of the testifying of His confidence in God, upon the same level with other men;(49) as also in that the author understands by the παιδία, not the children of the speaker, but the children of God, the children whom God the Father has given to Christ.


Verse 14-15

Hebrews 2:14-15. The author, after the subsidiary remarks, Hebrews 2:11-13, returns to the main thought of Hebrews 2:10, now further to develop the same. To lead Christ through sufferings to perfection, was a provision worthy of God. For it was necessary, if Christ was to be the Redeemer of sinful humanity. In order, however, to be able to take upon Himself sufferings and death, He must become man as other men, and place Himself upon one level with those to be redeemed. Comp. on Hebrews 2:14, Zyro in the Theol. Studd. u. Kritt. 1864, H. 3, p. 516 ff.

οὖν] is the outward sign of that return to the main thought. Logically it belongs not to the protasis, with which it is grammatically connected, but to the main thesis: καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχεν κ. τ. λ. An attachment of Hebrews 2:14 to Hebrews 2:13, therefore, is effected only in so far as τὰ παιδία, Hebrews 2:13, has given occasion for the resuming of this word in the first clause of Hebrews 2:14. In a strangely perverted fashion Heinrichs (comp. also Valckenaer): “Quod si homo fuit Christus, infans quoque primo fuerit omnemque in nativitate sua humanam naturam induerit necesse est.”

κεκοινώνηκεν] here, as often in the case of the classics, combined with the genitive; whereas elsewhere in the N. T. the dative is used with κοινωνεῖν (Romans 15:27; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 Peter 4:13, al.). The persons with whom the communion or the common participation takes place are not the parents (Valckenaer, who supplies γονεῦσι), but the children themselves. One παιδίον with the other, one as well as the other, has part in blood and flesh, or possesses the same. The perfect, however, indicates the constant and definitive character of the order of nature, as this has always prevailed already, and still continues to assert its sway.

αἵματος καὶ σαρκός] The same succession of words, also Ephesians 6:12. Otherwise more ordinarily: σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16; Matthew 16:17; Sirach 14:18; Sirach 17:31. αἷμα καὶ σάρξ, the two main constituents of the sensuously perceptible outward nature of man.

παραπλησίως] is not: “equally” (Bleek, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Grimm in the Theol. Literaturbl. to the Darmstadt A. K. Z. 1857, No. 29, p. 663; Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 57, 2 Aufl.; Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 313 f.; Maier), or: “likewise” (de Wette),—a signification which is linguistically undemonstrable,—but: in a manner very closely resembling. It expresses the resemblance with the accessory notion of the diversity; in such wise that the author characterizes the human form of Christ’s existence, in all its correspondence with the form of existence of other men, as still different from the latter (Cameron, Owen, Akersloot, Cramer, Böhme, Zyro, Moll, Woerner). And rightly so. For Christ was no ordinary man, but the incarnate Son of God. He was distinguished from His human brethren by His sinlessness (comp. Hebrews 4:15). As therefore Paul, Philippians 2:7 (and similarly Romans 8:3), speaks of the incarnate Christ not as ἄνθοωπος γενόμενος, but as ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος, even so the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews also here places not ἐξ ἴσου, but παραπλησίως μετέσχεν τῶν αὐτῶν. Comp. also ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, Hebrews 2:17.

μετέσχεν] The aorist. For the incarnation and the earthly course of Christ is a fact already belonging to the purely past; now Christ is already the glorified Son of God.

τῶν αὐτῶν] sc. αἵματος καὶ σαρκός. Erroneously, because without taking into account the reference imperatively required by the former clause, Bengel: eadem, quae fratribus accidunt, sanguine et carne laborantibus, ne morte quidem excepta.

διὰ τοῦ θανάτου] by means of death, the enduring of which first became possible by the taking upon Him of flesh and blood. Bengel: διὰ τοῦ θανάτου Paradoxon. Jesus mortem passus vicit; diabolus mortem vibrans succubuit.

The placing of the characteristic τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου before τὸν διάβολον is chosen, in order to gain a marked contrast to the preceding διὰ τοῦ θανάτου.

A ruler’s power over death,(50) however, is possessed by the devil, inasmuch as by the enticement of the devil sin came into the world of men, and sin brings about death for man. Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 : φθόνῳ δὲ διαβόλου θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον; Romans 5:12.


Verse 15

Hebrews 2:15. καί] consecutive: and in consequence thereof.

ἀπαλλάξῃ] stands absolutely: might set free, deliver. Without warrant do Grotius, Wolf, and others supplement τοῦ φόβου or τοῦ φόβου θανάτου.

τούτους] does not go back to τὰ παιδία (Böhme, Kuinoel), but serves for the bringing into relief of the following ὅσοι, and τούτους ὅσοι κ. τ. λ. is a periphrasis of the unredeemed humanity; the thought is not merely of the Israelites (Akersloot, Rambach, Braun, Woerner), and still less merely of the Gentiles (Peirce).

φόβῳ θανάτου] out of fear of death, causal definition to διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας.

διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν] throughout the whole life. The infinitive is employed, by virtue of the addition παντός, entirely as a substantive ( διὰ πάσης τῆς ζωῆς). This practice is more rare than the coupling of the infinitive with the mere preposition and article. Yet this very infinitive ζῆν is found exactly so used, as Bleek remarks, with Aesch. Dial. Hebrews 3:4 ( ὥσπερ εἰς ἔτερον ζῆν ἐπιθανούμενος); Ignat. Ep. ad Trall. 9 ( οὗ χωρὶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ζῆν οὐκ ἔχομεν), ad Ephes. 3 ( καὶ γὰρ ἰησοῦς χριστὸς τὸ ἀδιάκριτον ἡμῶν ζῆν).

ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας] belongs together; were held in bondage, had become subject to bondage. We have not to construe ἔνοχοι ἦσαν with φόβῳ θανάτου, and δουλείας with ἀπαλλάξῃ (Abresch, Dindorf, Böhme). For against this the position of the words is decisive. On the thought, comp. Romans 8:15.


Verse 16

Hebrews 2:16. The necessity for the assumption of flesh and blood on the part of the Redeemer is more fully brought to light by means of an establishing of the characteristic τούτους ὅσοι κ. τ. λ., Hebrews 2:15. This assumption was necessary, since the object of this redemption was confessedly not angels, i.e. beings of a purely spiritual nature, but descendants of Abraham, i.e. beings of flesh and blood.

οὐ δήπου] or δή που, as it is more correctly written, does not signify: “nowhere” (Luther, Zeger, Calvin, Schlichting, Limborch, Bisping, al.; Vulg.: nusquam), in such wise that που should be referred to a passage in the O. T., and the sense would result: nowhere in the O. T. is it spoken of, that, etc.(51)

For such reference must at least have been indicated by the context, which is not the case. δή που stands rather, according to purely classical usage (in the N. T., for the rest, it is found only here; with the LXX. not at all), to denote, in ironical form of expression, the presupposition that the statement to be expressed is a truth raised above all doubt, which must be conceded by every one. It corresponds to our “assuredly,” “surely” (doch wohl), “I should think,” to the Latin “opinor.” Comp. Hartung, Partikellehre, I. p. 285; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 427.

ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαί τινος] to take a helping interest in any one (comp. Sirach 4:11), here to deliver him from the guilt and punishment of sin (comp. ἀπαλλάξῃ, Hebrews 2:15; and εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, Hebrews 2:17; wrongly, because τούτους ὅσοι κ. τ. λ., Hebrews 2:15, stands not in reciprocal relation with ἐπιλαμβάνεται, but with the antithesis οὐκ ἀγγέλων ἀλλὰ σπέρματος ἀβραάμ, Hebrews 2:16; Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 59, 2 Aufl.: “in order that the fear of death might not in our life terrify and enslave us”). The present, since the ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαι is something still continuing. The interpretation of Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Erasmus, Luther, Clarius, Vatablus, Zeger, Calvin, Beza, Calov, Wolf, and many others: not angels, but the seed of Abraham, that is to say: not the nature of angels, but the nature of the seed of Abraham did Christ assume, has fallen into deserved disrepute;(52) only Castellio, however, first perceived its grammatical impossibility. The proposal of Schulz to supply θάνατος from Hebrews 2:14-15 as the subject to ἐπιλαμβάνεται: “for certainly he (death, or the lord of death) does not lay hold of, or carry off, angels, but the posterity of Abraham does he lay hold of,” is indeed grammatically permissible; logically, however, it does not commend itself, inasmuch as Hebrews 2:17 stands in close connection with Hebrews 2:16, but at Hebrews 2:17, as Hebrews 2:14-15, the subject again is naturally Christ.

ἀγγέλων] without article, like the following σπέρματος ἀβραάμ, generically. The author here excludes the angels from the province of the redemption which takes place through Christ. He is thus brought into contradiction with the teaching of Paul (comp. Colossians 1:20)—a position which is wrongly denied by Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 59 f.; Delitzsch, and Moll; by the first-named upon the untenable ground that “the design in this connection was not to say whom Jesus helps and whom He does not help, but what He is for those with whom He concerns Himself, for whom He exerts Himself!”

σπέρματος ἀβραάμ] does not denote mankind in general (Bengel, Böhme, Klee, Stein, Wieseler, Chronologie des apostol. Zeitalters, p. 491 f., al.), in such wise that the expression should be taken in the spiritual sense, or “the congregation of God, reaching over from the O. T. into the N. T., which goes back to Abraham’s call and obedience of faith for its fundamental beginning, Israel and the believers out of all mankind, the whole good olive tree, which has the patriarchs as its sacred root, Galatians 3:29; Romans 4:16; Romans 11:16” (Delitzsch, Hofmann, II. 1, p. 60, 2 Aufl.; Kluge, Kurtz), which must have been introduced and made manifest by the context; but the Jewish people (comp. τοῦ λαοῦ, Hebrews 2:17; τὸν λαόν, Hebrews 13:12). For Apollos, who (according to sec. 1 of the Introduction) is to be regarded as the author of the epistle, the conviction of the universality of Christianity must, it is true, have been not less firmly established than for Paul himself. He has mentioned, however, in place of the genusi.e. in place of mankind in general—only a species of this genus, namely, Jewish humanity; just because he had only to do with born Jews as the readers of his epistle. Grotius: Hebraeis scribens satis habet de illis loqui; de gentibus alibi loquendi locus. Rightly at the same time does de Wette remark that Paul, even under a precisely identical state of the case, would hardly have expressed himself as is here done. Comp. also Reuss (Nouvelle Revue de Théologie, vol. V., Strasb. et Paris 1860, p. 208): “Nous doutons, que Paul eût pu traiter un pareil sujet en s’imposant un silence absolu sur un principe, qui était, à vrai dire, le centre de son activité apostolique.”


Verse 17

Hebrews 2:17. Inference from Hebrews 2:16, and consequently a reverting to the main statement in Hebrews 2:14.

ὅθεν] wherefore, sc. on account of the essential constitution of those to be redeemed, as indicated in Hebrews 2:16. The particle ὅθεν is of very frequent occurrence in the Epistle to the Hebrews (comp. Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 8:3, Hebrews 9:18, Hebrews 11:19). In Paul’s writings, on the other hand, it is nowhere met with.

ὤφειλεν] He ought. Expression, not of the necessity founded in the decree of God (cf. ἔδει, Luke 24:26), but of that founded in the nature of the case itself, comp. Hebrews 5:3; Hebrews 5:12.

κατὰ πάντα] in all respects. Chrysostom: τί ἐστι κατὰ πάντα; ἐτέχθη, φησίν, ἐτράφη, ηὐξήθη, ἔπαθε πάντα ἅπερ ἐχρῆν, τέλος ἀπέθανεν. Theodoret: ὁμοίως γὰρ ἡμῖν καὶ τροφῆς μετέλαβε καὶ πόνον ὑπέμεινε καὶ ἠθύμησε καὶ ἐδάκρυσε καὶ θάνατον κατεδέξατο.

ὁμοιωθῆναι] is not: “to be made the same or equal” (Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 33; Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, al.), but expresses, as always, the notion of resemblance. Christ was in all things similar to men, His brethren, inasmuch as He had assumed a truly human nature; He was distinguished from them, however, by His absolute sinlessness. Comp. Hebrews 4:15.

ἐλεήμων] merciful, full of compassion for the sufferings of the ἀδελφοί, may be taken by itself (Luther, Grotius, Böhme, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Tholuck, Woerner [after Peshito, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions]), but also as πιστός, may be taken with ἀρχιερεύς (Owen, Bengel, Cramer, Storr, Stuart, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm, p. 330; Alford, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann). In the former case, which, on account of the position of the words, seems more natural, καί denotes “and in consequence thereof,” so that ἐλεήμων indicates the quality, the possession of which fits him to become a πιστὸς ἀρχιερεύς

πιστὸς] faithful, so fulfilling His high-priestly office as to satisfy the requirements of those to be reconciled.

τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν] with regard to the affairs of God, or: with regard to the cause of God. Comp. Hebrews 5:1; Romans 15:17.

ἱλάσκεσθαι] middle voice.

τοῦ λαοῦ] of the people (of Israel, Hebrews 13:12), see on Hebrews 2:16.

The idea of the high-priesthood of Christ here first comes out in this epistle. From Hebrews 4:14 onwards it is unfolded in detail. It is disputed, however, at what point our author thought of the high-priestly office of Christ as beginning, whether even on earth, with His death on the cross (so Cramer, Winzer, de sacerdotis officio, quod Christo tribuitur in ep. ad Hebr., Lips. 1825, Comment. I. p. vi. sq.; de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, and others), or only after the return to the Father; in such wise that, according to the view of the author, the offering of His own body upon the earth, and the entering with His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary, is to be regarded only as the inauguration of Christ to His high-priestly dignity, this dignity itself, however, beginning only with the moment when Christ, in accordance with Psalms 110:1, sat down at the right hand of God the Father, Hebrews 8:1 (so Bleek and Kurtz, after the precedent of Faustus Socinus, Schlichting [Whitby], Griesbach, Opusc. II. p. 436 sq.; Schulz, p. 83 f., and others). It is certainly undeniable that the author in the course of his epistle very strongly accentuates the high-priesthood of Christ (comp. Hebrews 5:9 f., Hebrews 6:19 f., Hebrews 7:24-26, Hebrews 8:4, Hebrews 9:24). But the polemic against readers who thought they could not dispense with the ritual of the Jewish sacrifice of atonement for the attainment of salvation, naturally led him to insist with emphasis on the superiority of Christ as the heavenly High Priest over the Jewish high priests as the merely earthly ones. Since now, on the other side, it is equally undeniable that the author places the voluntary sacrificial death of Christ, and the entering with His blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies,—as the two inseparable acts of the same proceeding,—in parallel with the slaying of the sacrificial victim, and the entering of the earthly high priest with the sacrificial blood into the earthly Holy of Holies, and looks upon the sins of men as completely expiated by the sacrificial death of Christ itself (comp. Hebrews 2:14 f., Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:11-14; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 13:12), there can be no room for doubt, that according to the mind of our author the investiture of Christ with the high-priestly dignity had already begun on earth, from the time of His death; and the representation of mankind in the presence of God is to be thought of as the continued administration of the high-priestly office already entered upon. So in substance also Riehm (comp. the detailed discussion by this writer, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 466–481); although it is certainly not in accordance with the view of the writer of the epistle, when Riehm afterwards (like Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 63 f., 2 Aufl.) supposes a distinction is to be made between Christ as High Priest and Christ as High Priest after the manner of Melchisedec, in that he represents Christ as having become the former by virtue of that which He did during the days of His flesh, as well as on His entrance into the heavenly Holy of Holies, and the latter only by virtue of His exaltation to God, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us.


Verse 18

Hebrews 2:18. Elucidatory justification of ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται κ. τ. λ., and by means thereof corroborative conclusion to the last main assertion: ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι. Christ, namely, became qualified for having compassion and rendering help, inasmuch as He experienced in His own person the temptations, the burden of which pressed upon the brethren He came to redeem. Comp. Hebrews 4:15-16

ἐν ] equivalent to ἐν τούτῳ ὅτι (comp. John 16:30 : ἐν τούτῳ, propter hoc), literally: upon the ground of (the fact) that, in that, i.e. inasmuch as, or because. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 211; Fritzsche on Romans 8:3, p. 93. The interpretation “wherein,” or “in which province” (Luther, Casaubon, Valckenaer, Fritzsche, l.c. p. 94, note; Ebrard, Bisping Kurtz, Woerner, and others), with which construction an ἐν τούτῳ corresponding to the ἐν has to be supplied before δύναται, and ἐν itself is connected with πέπονθεν or with πειρασθείς, or else by the resolving of the participle into the tempus finitum is connected in like measure with both verbs, is to be rejected; not, indeed, because in that case the aorist ἔπαθεν must have been employed (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 392, 2 Aufl.), nor because the plural ἐν οἷς must have been placed (Hofmann, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 320, note),—for only slight modifications of the sense would result in this way, the substance of the statement itself remaining untouched,—but in reality for the reason that the thought thus resulting would be unsuitable. For Christ’s capacity for conferring sympathy and help would then be restricted within the too narrow bounds of like conditions of suffering and temptations in the case of Himself and His earthly brethren. Bleek, too, understands ἐν in the ordinary signification: “wherein,” but then—after the example of Chr. Fr. Schmid—takes the words ἐν πέπονθεν as a kind of adverbial nearer defining to αὐτὸς πειρασθείς: “Himself tempted in that which He suffered,” i.e. Himself tempted in the midst of His sufferings. So likewise more recently Alford: “for, having been Himself tempted in that which He suffered.” Against this, however, the violence of the linguistic expression is decisive, since πειρασθεὶς γὰρ αὐτὸς ἐν τοῖς παθήμασιν, or something similar, would have been much more simply and naturally written.

The emphasis rests not upon πέπονθεν (Hofmann), but upon αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, inasmuch as not the ̔ πάσχειν in and of itself, but the πάσχειν in a definite state, is to be brought into relief: because He Himself suffered as one tempted, i.e. because His suffering was combined with temptations. αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, however, was designedly placed at the end, in order to gain thereby a marked correspondence to the following τοῖς πειραζομένοις.

δύναται] not a note of the inclination (Grotius: potest auxiliari pro potest moveri ad auxiliandum, and similarly many others), but of the possibility.

τοῖς πειραζομένοις] a characteristic of τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, Hebrews 2:17. The participle present, since the state of temptation of the human brethren is one still continuing.

βοηθῆσαι] to come to the help, sc. in that He entirely fills with His Spirit the suffering ones, whose necessities He has become acquainted with as a result of His own experience.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-2.html. 1832.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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