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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 4

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 4

Hebrews 4:2. Better attested, it is true, than the nominative singular συγκεκραμένος ( συγκεκραμμένος), which the Recepta presents, is the accusative plural of this participle, inasmuch as A B C D* M, 23, al., Theodor. Mops, read συγκεκερασμένους ( συνκεκερασμένους), and D*** E K L, 4, 6, 10, al. plur., Cyr. Alex. (semel) Macar. Chrys. Theodoret, Phot. al., συγκεκραμένους ( συγκεκραμμένους), and also the majority of translations (Syr. poster. Copt. Aeth. Arm. Slav. al.) render in the accusative. Griesbach therefore commended the accusative to notice. συγκεκραμ( μ) ένους is adopted into the text by the edd. Complut. Antw. Plantin. Genev., by Matthaei and others; συγκεκερασμένους, by Lachm. Tisch. 1, and Alford. The accusative is, notwithstanding, to be rejected, as opposed to the context and unmeaning. This reading being accepted, we have as exposition either: “but the word listened to did not profit them, since they were not mixed in faith or joined together in one with Joshua and Caleb, who heard, i.e. were obedient to the word listened to” (so Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Hammond, Cramer, Matthaei, al.). But this interpretation is in conflict with Hebrews 3:15 ff., according to which the whole people of Israel brought out of Egypt by Moses is described as rebellious and unbelieving; between two classes thereof, on the other hand, a class of believers and another of unbelievers, no distinction whatever is made. Moreover, in connection with this interpretation, τοῖς ἀκούσασιν suffers transmutation into a notion which it cannot have, regarded in itself only, much less here, seeing its evident correspondence with the preceding ἀκοῆς. (Not less untenable is the modification of this construction with Alford, who, rejecting all reference to Joshua and Caleb, will have τοῖς ἀκούσασιν taken, not at all in the historic sense, but, like John 5:25, as an indication of the category: “ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς having been mentioned in the general sense of the word heard, οἱ ἀκούσαντες is also in the general sense of its hearers, and the assumption is made that the word heard has naturally recipients, of whom the normal characteristic is faith. And so these men received no benefit from the word of hearing, because they were not one in faith with its hearers; did not correspond, in their method of receiving it, with faithful hearers, whom it does profit;” as, accordingly, Alford himself frankly confesses that he does not feel satisfied with this explanation, and is only driven to adopt it on the ground of critical and grammatical difficulties,—difficulties of the latter kind, nevertheless, do not exist, and those urged by Alford are easily solved. Or else a passive notion is substituted for the active τοῖς ἀκούσασιν. So already Theodore of Mopsuestia, who thinks τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν(62) must be read (in Nov. Test. Commentariorum quae reperiri potuerunt Coll. O. Fr. Fritzsche, Turici 1847, p. 166: μηδὲ γάρ τις οἰέσθω ἀρκεῖν αὐτῷ τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τῶν μελλόντων, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ ἐκείνοις· οὐ γὰρ ἦσαν κατὰ τὴν τίστιν τοῖς ἐπαγγελθεῖσι συνημμένοι· ὅθεν οὕτως ἀναγνωστέον· μὴ συγκεκερασμένους τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν, ἵνα εἴπῃ ταῖς πρὸς αὐτοὺς γεγενημέναις ἐπαγγελίαις τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ ΄ωσέως); further, as it appears, Theodoret, since—although in our editions τοῖς ἀκούσασιν precedes—he makes use of the words: τί γὰρ ὤνησεν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπαγγελία τοὺς ταύτην δεξα΄ένους, ΄ὴ πιστῶς δεξα΄ένους καὶ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ δυνά΄ει τεθαῤῥηκότας καὶ οἷον τοῖς θεοῦ λόγοις ἀνακραθέντας; and recently Bleek, who, led thereto by Noesselt’s remark on Theodoret’s exposition of Hebrews 4:2 (Theod. Opp. t. iii., Hal. 1771, p. 566, note 1), conjectures τοῖς ἀκούσμασιν. For such alteration of the text, however, there exists not the slightest diplomatic justification. We must therefore regard the accusative plural as having arisen from a transcriber’s error, to which the preceding ἐκείνους gave occasion, and look upon the nominative singular of the Recepta συγκεκραμένος, which yields an excellent sense (see the exposition), as that which was originally written by the author. Rightly, therefore, is the Recepta defended by Mill, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Reiche (p. 24 sqq.), and others, and also received again into the text by Tisch. 2 ( συγκεκραμένος-g0-), 7 ( συνκεκρα΄ένος-G0-), and 8 ( συνκεκερασ΄ένος-G0-). Nor is it by any means so badly attested that one could assert, with Bleek, that it could “claim not much more authority than as being a not improbable conjecture.” For it is supported by the testimony of the Peshito, which in antiquity surpasses any of our MSS., as well as by the Codex Sinaiticus, which has ΄ὴ συνκεκερασ΄ένος. It is found, besides, in the Vulg. It. Erp., as well as with Cyr. Alex, (sem.) [Theodoret (Hervet.)] Lucif. and in five cursives (17, 31, 37, 41, 114).

Hebrews 4:3. εἰσερχό΄εθα γάρ] A C: εἰσερχώ΄εθα οὖν. But with an exhortation, the following οἱ τιστεύσαντες is irreconcilable, instead of which πιστεύοντες or διὰ πίστεως must be placed.

Hebrews 4:7. Elz. Wetstein, Matthaei, Scholz, Bloomf.: εἴρηται. But in favour of προείρηται, which is indirectly supported also by προείρηκεν in B, 73, 80, the preponderating authority of A C D* E* א, 17, 23, 31, al., Syr. utr. Copt. Arm. Vulg. Cyr. Al. Chrys. Theodoret. Lucif. Bed. is decisive. Commended already by Grotius, Bengel, Griesbach. Rightly adopted into the text by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford. Approved also by Reiche.

Hebrews 4:10. ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ] D* E, Syr. poster. Cyr. Chrys. ms.: ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ. Expansion from Hebrews 4:4.

Hebrews 4:12. Elz. Matthaei, Scholz, Bloomfield: ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος. But τε is wanting in A B C H L א (in which last originally only μερισμοῦ καὶ πνεύματος was written, which, however, was already supplemented, as it would appear by the first hand, by a ψυχῆς inserted before καί), 3, 73, al., with Origen (three times), Athan. Euseb. Chrys. Theodoret, Cyril Al. (eleven times), John Damasc. Theoph. and many others. Condemned already by Bengel and Griesbach. [Doubted by Owen.] Rightly rejected by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford. Addition for the sake of uniformity with the following clause: ἁρ΄ῶν τε καὶ ΄υελῶν, in which τε is wanting with no witnesses.

Hebrews 4:15. Instead of the πεπειρα΄ένον, commended by Griesbach and adopted by Matthaei, Tisch. 1, 2, 7, and Bloomfield, as earlier by Mill and Bengel (also preferred by Reiche), the πεπειρασ΄έ΄ον of the Recepta, supported by A B D E א, Origen (four times), Chrys., al., is to be retained, with Wetstein, Scholz, Lachm. Alford, and Tisch. 8. For the context demands the notion of having been tempted, for which, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 11:17; Hebrews 11:37), only the verb πειράζεσθαι is used, while πεπειραμένον would yield the totally unsuitable sense: who had made attempts.

Hebrews 4:16. Elz.: ἔλεον. The form of the word, preferred by Tisch. Bloomf. and Alford, ἔλεος, is, however, required by A B C* D* K א, 17, 71, al. pl., Antioch.


Verse 1

Hebrews 4:1. Exhortation to the readers, deduced from the historic fact, Hebrews 3:15-19, and softened by the form of community with the readers adopted by the author, which, however, is involuntarily abandoned again at the close of the verse.

φοβηθῶμεν οὖν] Let us therefore be apprehensive.

Indication not of the mere being afraid, but of the earnest endeavour, based upon the fear of coming short of the proposed goal. Calvin: Hic nobis commendatur timor, non qui fidei certitudinem excutiat, sed tantam incutiat sollicitudinem, ne securi torpeamus. Metuendum ergo, non quia trepidare aut diffidere nos oporteat quasi incertos de exitu, sed ne Dei gratiae desimus.

καταλειπομένηςαὐτοῦ] is made by Cramer and Ernesti dependent on ὑστερηκέναι, against which, however, the anarthrous participle in itself suffices to decide. It is parenthetical, and καταλειπομένης with emphasis preposed: while there yet remains promise of entering into His rest. But a promise remains so long as it has not yet received its fulfilment. For with its fulfilment it ceases to be a promise, loses its existence—inasmuch as the character of the future essential to it has then become present. Erroneously do Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Strigel, Hyperius, Estius, Schlichting, S. Schmidt, Limborch, Braun, Semler, Carpzov, al., explain: “by neglect or non-observance of the promise.” For, although καταλείπειν can signify that (comp. Acts 6:2; Baruch 4:1), yet in that case the article τῆς could not have been wanting before ἐπαγγελίας and certainly also an active ( καταλείψας τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν) would have been chosen in place of the passive participle. Finally, against the latter explanation, and in favour of that above given, pleads the ἀπολείπεται, Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:9.

αὐτοῦ] not of Christ (Rambach, Chr. F. Schmid), but of God. This is required by the connection, alike with that which precedes (Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18) as with that which follows (Hebrews 4:3-5; Hebrews 4:10).

κατάπανσις] the repose and blessedness which belong to God Himself, and which shall become the portion of believing Christians in the epoch of consummation beginning with the coming again of Christ.

δοκῇ ὑστερηκέναι] should appear [be seen] to have come short, i.e. to have failed of attaining to the κατάπαυσις. The infinitive perfect characterizes that which, with the dawn of the Parousia, has become an historically completed, definite fact. δοκῇ ὑστερηκέναι, however, does not stand pleonastically in place of the bare ὑστερῇ or ὑστερήσῃ (Michaelis, Carpzov, Abresch, al.), nor is it placed “because, in connection with the question whether and where the ὑστερηκέναι, exists as a concluded, and therefore irreparable, fact, the human perception does not extend beyond a mere videtur” (Kurtz); for it is not here a case of a question to be decided by men still living upon earth. It serves rather, as the videatur often added in Latin, to give a more refined and delicate expression to the discourse. Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:16. Erroneously, however, Delitzsch, that in δοκῇ there is contained not only a softening, but, at the same time, also an accentuation of the expression; the sense being: “they are to take earnest heed, lest haply it should even seem that this or the other has fallen short.” For the augmenting “even” is only arbitrarily imported.

Grotius explains δοκῇ by: “ne cui vestrum libeat,” for which, however, the construction with the dative ( δοκῶ μοι) would have been required, and to which, moreover, the infinitive perfect does not lend itself. Schöttgen finally, Baumgarten, Schulz, Paulus, Stengel, Ebrard, and Hofmann take δοκῇ in the sense of opinetur. The author is thus supposed to be warning the readers against the delusion that they were too late, i.e. that they lived at a time when all the promises had long been fulfilled, and no further means of salvation was to be expected. But the linguistic expression in itself is decisive against this interpretation. The author could not then have put φοβηθώμεν οὖν, μήποτε, but must have written μὴ οὖν φοβηθῶμεν ὑστερηκέναι, or something similar. Moreover, the whole historic situation of the readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews is out of keeping with this view. It was not therein a question of consoling and calming those who still despaired of being able at all to attain to salvation, but of the warning correction of those who were wanting in the assurance of conviction that faith in Christ is the sufficient and only way to salvation. Only a warning to the readers, not by their own behaviour, like the fathers, to incur the loss of salvation, can therefore be contained in Hebrews 4:1.


Verses 1-13

Hebrews 4:1-13. Thus, then, the promise of entering into God’s rest is still unfulfilled. The promise yet avails for the Christians. Let, therefore, the readers be careful, lest they, too, by disobedience and unbelief forfeit the proffered salvation.


Verse 2

Hebrews 4:2 corroborates in its first half the καταλειπομένης, Hebrews 4:1, while the second half shows the danger of the ὑστερηκέναι in the example of others. The emphasis in the first half lies upon ἐσμὲν εὐηγγελισμένοι. The sense is not: for we, too, like them, have promise (to express this the addition of ἡμεῖς after καὶ γάρ would have been called for), but: for promise (sc. of entering into the κατάπαυσις, cf. Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:3) have we indeed, even as they (the fathers), sc. had it.

Most arbitrarily is the meaning of this and the following verse apprehended by Ebrard. According to Ebrard, Hebrews 4:2 ff. proclaims as the reason why the Jews did not attain the promised κατάπαυσις, not their “subjective unbelief,” but “the objective imperfection of the Old Testament revelation.” With the second half of Hebrews 4:2, namely, a gradation (!) is supposed to begin, and the progress of thought to be as follows: “The word which we have received is even infinitely better than the word which the Israelites received through Moses. For, first, the word spoken by Moses was unable to bring the people to faith—it remained external to them; it set forth a promise, it is true, and also attached a condition, but it communicated no strength to fulfil this condition (Hebrews 4:2-5, comp. Hebrews 4:12-13); but, secondly, the promise there given was not even in its purport the true one; there, earthly rest was promised; here, spiritual and everlasting rest (Hebrews 4:6-10).” That the context affords no warrant for the bringing out of such a meaning is self-evident. For neither does the author here distinguish such twofold word of promise, nor a twofold κατάπαυσις, nor can λόγοςμὴ συγκεκραμένος signify a word which “could not prove binding.”

Erroneous, too, is the view of the connection on the part of Delitzsch, to whom Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 798 ff.) accedes in all essential particulars. According to Riehm, the (as yet unproved) presupposition is first provisionally expressed in the parenthesis, Hebrews 4:1, in a simply assertory manner, viz. that there is still in existence a promise of entering into the rest of God, a promise of which the fulfilment is yet outstanding, and this presupposition is then repeated, Hebrews 4:2, in other expressions of a more general bearing, no doubt, but essentially in the same way of simple assertion. Upon this, however, the author now wishes to furnish proof that such presupposition is fully warranted. Accordingly, Hebrews 4:3, he formulates that presupposition in the most definite manner, inasmuch as in the opening words of Hebrews 4:3, εἰσερχόμεθαπιστεύσαντες, he lays down the theme which is to be proved in the sequel. This proof is afforded in the following way: the rest of God has existed long; nevertheless, in the oath of God, mentioned in the words of the psalm, a rest of God is spoken of as yet future, and of a truth it is one and the same rest of God which, according to Genesis 2:2—in so far as God enjoys it alone—has existed from the beginning of the world, and, according to the word of the psalm,—in so far as the people of God are to participate therein,—is one yet approaching. Although thus the long present rest of God was the aim and end of the creative activity of God, yet it is not the final aim which God has proposed to Himself. On the contrary, it is clearly apparent, from a comparison of the word of God pronounced upon the Israelites in the time of Moses, a word confirmed by an oath, with the account of the rest of God on the seventh day, that, according to the gracious designs of God, the rest, which He has enjoyed alone from the foundation of the world, should eventually become a rest of God which He enjoys in communion with His people. It is therefore indubitably certain, that even after the completion of the work of creation and the ensuing of the rest of God, there is still something outstanding [unfulfilled], an ἀπολειπόμενον, and this consists in the fact that some, received by God into communion with Himself, are made partakers of that repose of God. This view is a mistaken one, because—(1) As regards the assumed proof, the assertion that in the oath of God, spoken of in the words of the psalm, mention is made of a yet future rest of God, is entirely untrue. Not of a particular form of the rest of God, which is still future, is the discourse, but only the fact is represented as future that it is shared on the part of men who enter into it. For a rest of God which has already existed long is not opposed to a rest of God which is still future, nor is the rest of God, mentioned. Genesis 2., distinguished as of another kind than that mentioned in the psalm. On the contrary, the rest of God, or—what is identical therewith—the Sabbath-rest of God, has existed in fact and without change from the time of the completion of the works of creation, and this same rest of God it is, the participation in which was once promised to the Israelites on the condition of faith, and now upon the same condition is promised to the Christians; it is a question therefore only of the Christians taking warning from the example of the fathers, and not, like them, losing the promised blessing through unbelief. (2) That the author was desirous of still proving the καταλείπεσθαι ἐπαγγελίαν, cannot at all be supposed. For this was a fact which, as self-evident from that which precedes, stood in no need of a demonstration; it is therefore expressed not only Hebrews 4:1, but also Hebrews 4:6, in a mere subsidiary clause, consequently in the form of logical subordination; and even Hebrews 4:9, in which it is introduced in an apparently independent form, decides nothing against our explanation, because Hebrews 4:9, while forming a certain conclusion to that which precedes, yet contains only the logical substructure for the exhortation attaching itself afresh at Hebrews 4:11. That at which the author alone aimed, in connection with Hebrews 4:2 ff., was therefore the impressive confirmation of the paraenesis, Hebrews 4:1; and just this paraenetic main tendency of our section likewise fails of attaining due recognition in connection with the explanation of Delitzsch and Riehm. But when Delitzsch thinks he can support his view, that the καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας, Hebrews 4:1, is first proved in the sequel, by declaring the otherwise to be accepted “thought that the promise of entering into God’s rest has remained without its fulfilment in the generation of the wilderness, and thus is still valid,” to be “entirely false,” and exclaims: “What logic that would be! The generation of the wilderness perished indeed, but the younger generation entered into Canaan, came to Shiloh (the place in the heart of the land, which has its name from the rest, Joshua 18:1), and had now its own fixed land of habitation, whither Jehovah had brought and planted it, and where He fenced it in (2 Samuel 7:10);” such conclusion would be justified only if the author had not understood the promise given to the fathers in the time of Moses, of entering into God’s κατάπαυσις, at the same time in a higher sense, but had regarded it as fulfilled by the occupation of Canaan under Joshua; such, however, according to the distinct statement of Hebrews 4:8, is not the case.

καί] after καθάπερ, the ordinary καί after particles of comparison. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 409.

λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς] Periphrasis of the notion ἐπαγγελία, Hebrews 4:1 : the word of that which is heard ( ἀκοή in the passive sense, as Romans 10:16; Galatians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; John 12:38), i.e. the word of promise which was heard by them, or proclaimed to them. This periphrasis is chosen in order already at this stage to point out that it was by the fault of the fathers themselves that the word of promise became for them an unprofitable word, one which did not receive its fulfilment. It remained for them a word heard only externally, whereas, if it was to profit them, they must manifest receptiveness for the same, must believingly and confidingly appropriate the same. This culpability on the part of the fathers themselves is brought into direct relief by the participial clause μὴ συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασιν, containing the indication of cause to οὐκ ὠφέλησεν, wherein τῇ πίστει forms an emphatic opposition to the preceding τῆς ἀκοῆς. The sense is: because it was not for the hearers mingled with faith; the dative τοῖς ἀκούσασιν denoting the subject, in relation to which the μὴ συγκ. τῇ πίστει took place. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 206. Thus interpret Erasmus, translation, Calvin, Castellio, Gerhard, Owen, Calov, Limborch, Bengel, Kypke, Storr, Stuart, Reiche, Comm. Crit. p. 30; Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 696, note; Maier, and others.(63) But that the fault of this not being mingled was not in the word but in the men, was naturally understood from the connection. συγκεκραμένος is not to be connected with τοῖς ἀκούσασιν, so that τῇ πίστει would have to be taken as the dativus instrumentalis: “because it did not, by means of faith, mingle with them that heard it, become fully incorporated with them” (Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Dorscheus, S. Schmidt, Wolf, Rambach, Michaelis, Carpzov, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Valckenaer, Klee, Paulus, Stein, Delitzsch, Moll, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner). For manifestly the centres of thought for the adversative clause lie in τῆς ἀκοῆς and τῇ πίστει, while τοῖς ἀκούσασιν only takes up again the indication of the persons, already known to us from the ἐκείνους, although now as characterizing these persons in attaching itself to τῆς ἀκοῆς.

τοῖς ἀκούσασιν, however, not the mere demonstrative pronoun, is put by the author in order thus once more to place hearing and believing in suggestive contrast. Further, the author did not write μὴ συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστει τῶν ἀκουσάντων, because he would thereby have conveyed the impression that the Israelites in the wilderness possessed indeed πίστις, but the word of promise which was heard did not blend into a unity with the same; whereas by means of μὴ συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασιν he denies altogether the presence of πίστις in them.


Verse 3

Hebrews 4:3. Confirmation, not of καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας κ. τ. λ., Hebrews 4:1 (Bengel), nor of καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐηγγελισμένοι, Hebrews 4:2 (de Wette, Bloomfield, Bisping), and just as little of the two clauses of Hebrews 4:2 taken together (Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerb. p. 799; Moll), but of τῇ πίστει, Hebrews 4:2. So also Bleek, Alford, and Kurtz. What Riehm (p. 800, note) alleges against this interpretation—viz. that the author has already, in Hebrews 3:15 ff. (specially Hebrews 3:19), shown clearly enough that the Israelites in the wilderness could not enter into the promised rest on account of their unbelief, that it was therefore impossible that a special proof for this fact should once more be required—does not apply; because this very πιστεύσειν was the main question, about the quite special accentuation of which he is seen from the context to be concerned. For surely the whole disquisition, Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13, has its all-combining centre precisely in the endeavour to animate to πίστις the readers, who were in danger of sinking, like the fathers, into ἀπιστία. The emphasis rests, therefore, upon οἱ πιστεύσαντες, and the sense is: for into rest enter just those of us who have manifested faith. For οἱ πιστεύσαντες cannot signify: if we have displayed faith (Böhme, de Wette, Bisping); this must have been expressed by the anarthrous πιστεύσαντες. On the contrary, οἱ πιστεύσαντες adds a special characterization of the subject of εἰσερχόμεθα, and has the aim of limiting the quite generally expressed “we” to a definite class of us. The present εἰσερχόμεθα is employed with reference to the certainty of that to be looked for in the future, and οἱ πιστεύσαντες, not οἱ πιστεύοντες is placed, because the πιστεύειν must have already preceded as an historic fact, before the εἰσέρχεσθαι can be accomplished.

καθὼς εἴρηκεν κ. τ. λ.] Scripture proof for the first half of Hebrews 4:3, from the already cited words of Psalms 95:11. Wrongly is καθὼς εἴρηκεν connected by Piscator with Hebrews 4:1, by Brochmann and Bleek II. with Hebrews 4:2. For to suppose parentheses before it is unwarranted. In quite a contorted manner Hofmann (p. 187): with καθὼς εἴρηκεν begins a protasis, which finds its apodosis in πάλιν τινὰ ὁρίζει ἡμέραν, Hebrews 4:7; and even the fact that the latter is apodosis to ἐπεὶ ἀπολείπεται does not, according to him, preclude the possibility of this construction, because this second protasis is connected by οὖν with the first, as a deduction from the same!

εἴρηκεν] sc. θεός.

ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου] sc. at their unbelief and obstinate perverseness, which naturally suggested itself to the readers from the passage of the psalm more copiously adduced in the third chapter, and the reasoning of the author there attached to it.

καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων] although the works were completed from the creation of the world; and accordingly the κατάπαυσις of God was something long present and lying in readiness, in which the Israelites, if they had been believing, might well have obtained part. The words, therefore, serve to point out the deep significance of the divine oath.(64) Wrongly are they taken ordinarily as epexegesis to τὴν κατάπαυσίς μου, in supplying κατάπαυσιν afresh after καίτοι. Then either τῶν ἔργων κ. τ. λ. is made dependent on the κατάπαυσιν supplied, in that καίτοι is taken, contrary to linguistic usage, in the sense of “et quidem:” “into the rest, namely, from the works which had been completed from the creation of the world” (so Schlichting, S. Schmidt, Wolf, Carpzov, Kypke, Baumgarten, Stuart, Heinrichs, Klee, Bloomfield), to which construction, moreover, the repetition of the article τῶν after τῶν ἔργων would have been in any case necessary; or else τῶν ἔργων γενηθέντων is regarded as a genitive absolute: “namely (or even, although), into a rest, which ensued upon the works of creation being completed” (so Vatablus, Calvin, Beza, Limborch, Cramer, Böhme, Bisping), which however, in like manner, must grammatically have been otherwise expressed. But, in general, the author cannot here have been at all occupied with the subjoining of a definition with regard to the kind of rest which was meant, since he does not anywhere distinguish several kinds of rest, but without further remark presupposes that the κατάπαυσις which ensued for God after the completion of the works of creation is identical with that once promised to the Israelites and now promised to the Christians.

τῶν ἔργων] sc. τοῦ θεοῦ. The necessity for thus supplementing is apparent from Hebrews 4:4; comp. also Hebrews 4:10. Very arbitrarily, and forcing in a thought entirely foreign to the context, Ebrard understands τῶν ἔργων of the works of men, supposing that with καθὼς εἴρηκεν “the author proceeds to show to what extent even the O. T. itself points out the insufficiency of the law and its ἔργα” (!), regards τῶν ἔργων as antithesis to the preceding οἱ πιστεύσαντες (!), and finds the thought, “that all that which can be called ἔργα has been wrought from the time of the creation of the world, but has not sufficed to bring mankind to the κατάπαυσις, to a condition of satisfied repose,” whence follows “that an entirely new way of salvation—not that of human doing and human exertion, but that of faith in God’s saving deed—is necessary in order to attain to the κατάπαυσις” (!).

ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσ΄ου] from the foundation of the world, i.e. since the world began. Comp. Hebrews 9:26; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8.


Verse 4

Hebrews 4:4. Scripture proof for the thought implicitly contained in καίτοι κ. τ. λ., Hebrews 4:3, viz. that the actual existence of the divine κατάπαυσις, from which the Israelites were to be excluded, has not been wanting.

The citation is from Genesis 2:2, according to the LXX., with some non-essential variations.

το εἴρηκεν we have to supply as subject, not γραγή] (Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Stein, Bisping, al.), but θεός. For although, in the citation, God is spoken of in the third person, yet in εἴρηκεν, Hebrews 4:4, the subject must be the same as in καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πάλιν, sc. εἴρηκεν, Hebrews 4:5; in this latter passage, however, the subject can only be θεός, as is proved by the following μου.

που] see on Hebrews 2:6.

περὶ τῆς ἑβδόμης] with regard to the seventh day. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 549; Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 71.


Verse 5

Hebrews 4:5. Renewed contrastful presentation of the relations of the Jewish forefathers to this existing rest of God: “And yet He says again in this place (namely, the passage already cited Hebrews 4:3): they shall not enter into my rest.”

ἐν τούτῳ] stands substantively, without requiring a supplementing of τόπῳ (Kuinoel), or χρόνῳ (Abresch), or ψαλμῷ (Carpzov). Comp. ἐν ἑτέρῳ, Hebrews 5:6.


Verse 6-7

Hebrews 4:6-7. The author, founding his reasoning, on the one hand, on the truthfulness of God, and on the other, on the actual state of matters declared from ἀλλά, Hebrews 4:2, to κατάπαυσίν μου, Hebrews 4:5, now returns to the statements: καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας, Hebrews 4:1, and καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐηγγελισμένοι καθάπερ κἀκεῖνοι, Hebrews 4:2, in order, by means of the opening words of the psalm cited, to render clear the truth contained in these statements concerning the non-fulfilment of the promise as yet, and also the necessity for not closing the heart against the same.(65)

The sense is: since then it still remains, i.e. is to be expected with certainty, that some enter therein (inasmuch, namely, as God carries also into effect that which He promises), and the earlier recipients of the promise did not enter in because of their unbelief, He marks out anew a definite day, etc. From this relation of the first half of the protasis to the second, as that of a general postulate to a special historic fact, is explained also the indefinite τινάς in the first clause. Wrongly Delitzsch, according to whom τινάς signifies: “others than those.” Some, again, find in ἐπεὶ οὖν ἀπολείπεται τινὰς εἰσελθεῖν the meaning: since then the promise, of entering into His rest, is still left, i.e. awaits its fulfilment. So substantially Bleek: “since it now remains, that the divine rest has not yet been already closed by the complete(?) fulfilment of the prophecy relating thereto, in such wise that no more entrance exists for them.” Against this, however, pleads the fact that the author would then have illogically co-ordinated, the one with the other, the two protases Hebrews 4:6, since the first would surely contain the result of the second. For the sequence of thought would then be: the former recipients of the promise came short of attaining salvation, and the consequence thereof is that the κατάπαυσις stands open for others. It must thus have been written: ἐπεὶ οὖν ἀπολείπεται τινὰς εἰσελθεῖν εἰς αὐτήν, τῶν πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντων οὐκ εἰσελθόντων διʼ ἀπείθειαν.

οἱ πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντες] sc. the Israelites in the wilderness.


Verse 7

Hebrews 4:7. The apodosis. We have not to construe in such wise that the first σήμερον shall be taken as apposition to ἡμέραν: “He marks out, therefore, again a definite day (fixes anew a term), namely, ‘a to-day,’ in that—as was before observed

He says in David, so long time after, ‘To-day, etc.’ ” (Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Jac. Cappellus, Carpzov, Schulz, Klee, Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Maier, M‘Caul, Moll). Nor yet so that the first σήμερον is connected with λέγων: “He fixes, therefore, again a day, in that, after so long a time, He says in David ‘to-day;’ even as it says: ‘To-day, if ye, etc’ ” (Zeger, Schlichting, Heinrichs, Stengel). On the contrary, the first σήμερον already begins the citation; is then, however,—on account of the words parenthetically introduced by the author: ἐν δαυῒδπροείρηται,—resumed in the second σήμερον.

ἐν δαυΐδ] not: apud Davidem, i.e. in the Book of Psalms (Dindorf, Schulz, Böhme, Bleek, Ebrard, Alford, Woerner, al.; with comparison of Romans 11:2; Romans 9:25), but: in the person of David, as the instrument of which God made use for speaking. The ninety-fifth psalm, although not Davidic, was ascribed to David in the superscription of the LXX., whom our author follows.

μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον] from the time of Joshua (Hebrews 4:8).

καθὼς προείρηται] Reference to Hebrews 3:7 f., 15.


Verse 8

Hebrews 4:8. Justification of the πάλιν τινὰ ὁρίζει ἡμέραν, Hebrews 4:7. If Joshua had already introduced into the rest of God, God would not still have spoken in the time after Joshua of a term (period) of entrance into the same.

αὐτούς] sc. τοὺς πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντας, Hebrews 4:6.

καταπαύειν] here (in accordance with the classic usage) transitive, as Exodus 33:14, Deuteronomy 3:20; Deuteronomy 5:33, al.: to lead into the rest.

ἐλάλει] sc. θεός.

μετὰ ταῦτα] belongs not to ἄλλης ἡμέρας (Hofmann, al.), but to ἐλάλει, and corresponds to the μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον, Hebrews 4:7.


Verse 9

Hebrews 4:9. Deduction from Hebrews 4:7-8, and consequently return to the first half of Hebrews 4:6. “Thus still remaining, still awaiting its advent, is a Sabbath rest for the people of God,” inasmuch, namely,—what the author in reasoning with the Hebrews might presuppose as admitted,—as from David’s time down to the present no one had entered into the κατάπαυσις of God. As Sabbatic rest the author characterizes the rest of God, in adherence to the thought of Hebrews 4:4. As a type of the everlasting blessedness do the Rabbins also regard the Sabbath. Comp. e.g. Jalkut Rubeni, fol. 95. 4 : Dixerunt Israëlitae: Domine totius mundi, ostende nobis exemplar mundi futuri. Respondit ipsis Deus S. B.: illud exemplar est sabbatum. R. D. Kimchi et R. Salomo in Psalms 92.: Psalmus cantici in diem Sabbati, quod hic psalmus pertineat ad seculum futurum, quod totum sabbatum est et quies ad vitam aeternam. See Wetstein and Schöttgen ad loc.

ἄρα] at the beginning of a sentence is, in prose, foreign to the classics. Comp. however, Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 7:12; Luke 11:48; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 519; Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 318.

The expression σαββατισμός (from σαββατίζειν, שָׁבַּת, to observe the Sabbath, Exodus 16:30, al.) only here and with Plutarch, De Superstit. c. 3.

τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ] to the people which appertains to God, is recognised and treated by Him as His people, since it has believingly devoted itself to Him. Comp. Galatians 6:16 : ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.


Verse 10

Hebrews 4:10. There is not an establishing of the reasoning in Hebrews 4:9 by a reference to the essence of the Sabbatic rest (Delitzsch and Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 804), but justification of the expression σαββατισμός, employed Hebrews 4:9. For not that which constitutes the nature of the Sabbath is here brought out, but the fact that in the case supposed a καταπαύειν can be ascribed to man, even as to God. Wrongly (because at least εἰσελθὼν γὰρ εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ κ. τ. λ. must have been written) does Schulz refer γὰρ εἰσελθών to λαός: “and when it has entered,” etc. And just as wrongly, because the context affords no point of support for the same, do Owen, Alting, Starck, Valckenaer, and more recently Ebrard and Alford, find in εἰσελθών a designation of Christ, in connection with which the ἔργα are then understood of the redemption completed, or also of the sufferings and death undergone. On the contrary, Hebrews 4:10 contains a universal proposition: for whoever has entered into His (namely, God’s) rest, has also on his part attained to rest from his works (the burdens and toils of the earthly life;(66) comp. LXX. Genesis 3:17 : ἐπικατάρατος γῆ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις σου; Genesis 5:29 : οὔτος διαναπαύσει ἡ΄ᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων ἡ΄ῶν καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν λυπῶν τῶν χειρῶν ἡ΄ῶν καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, ἧς κατηράσατο κύριος θεός. Comp. also Revelation 14:13): even as God from His own (works, the works of creation); for him has thus the Sabbath of everlasting blessedness set in.


Verses 11-13

Hebrews 4:11-13. Conclusion by way of warning admonition.

σπουδάσωμεν] not: festinemus (Vulg.), but: let our earnest effort be directed to this end.

οὖν] deduces the inference from all that has been hitherto said, from Hebrews 3:7 onwards.

ἐκείνην τὴν κατάπαυσιν] that very κατάπαυσις, of which the discourse has heretofore been, which was described as a κατάπαυσις of God, as one already promised to the fathers, and then again to us, as a possession which they, on account of their disobedience and unbelief, failed to obtain, but which is still open to us as an ideal Sabbatic rest and everlasting blessedness, if we manifest faith and confidence.

ἵνα μὴ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τις ὑποδείγματι πέσῃ τῆς ἀπειθείας] lest any one fall into the same example of unbelief, i.e. lest any one fall into the same obstinate perversity as the fathers, and like them become a warning example for others. Thus the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Abresch, Alford, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner, and others. πίπτειν ἐν is also quite usual in classical authors; see Passow and Pape ad vocem. From πίπτειν εἰς it is distinguished only by a greater degree of significance in that it does not merely like this express the falling into something, but also the subsequent lying in the same. Others, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Vatablus, Calvin, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Wolf, Bengel, Carpzov, Schulz, Heinrichs, Bleek, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Bisping, Grimm (Theol. Literaturbl. to the Darmstadt A. K.-Z. 1857, No. 29, p. 664; the last-named because the expression “to fall into an example,” instead of “to afford an example,” is supposed to be a forced one,—the expression, however, is only a concise one (see above),—and because πίπτειν is probably chosen with a retrospective glance to Hebrews 3:17, the passage to which reference is here made, with the difference that the word there denoted the physical destruction. But such intention in connection with the choice of the word is not at all to be assumed), Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 774), Maier, Kluge, Moll, Ewald, take πέσῃ absolutely: “fall, i.e. to be brought to ruin, perish.” In that case ἐν is explained either by per (Wolf, Stengel, Ewald, al.), or “conformably to [gemäss]” (Tholuck), or propter (Carpzov), or, what with this construction would alone be correct, of the condition, the state in which one is (Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Maier, Moll): “in giving the same example.” But this whole construction is artificial. Opposed to it is likewise the position of πέσῃ. For had this word such emphasis as it must have so soon as it is taken in the absolute sense, it would not have been inserted in such subordinate, unaccentuated fashion between the other words, but have been introduced at the very beginning of the proposition: ἵνα μή τις πέσῃ κ. τ. λ.


Verse 12-13

Hebrews 4:12-13. Warning demonstration of the necessity for compliance with the exhortation uttered Hebrews 4:11.(67)

λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ] the word of God. By these words we have not, with many Fathers, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Thomas Aquinas, Lyra, Cajetan, Clarius, Justinian, Cornelius a Lapide, Jac. Cappellus, Gomar, Owen, Heinsius, Alting, Clericus, Cramer, Ewald, al., the hypostatic word of God, or Christ, as the second person of the Godhead. For although this mode of designating Christ in the case of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, according to Hebrews 1:1-3, and on account of the points of contact he displays with Philo, can present nothing strange in itself, yet the expression was too unusual for it to be employed and understood without further indication, in this special sense, where the connection did not even lead up to it. Moreover, the predicates ἐνεργής, τομώτερος κ. τ. λ., and κριτικός (instead of κριτής), seem better suited to an impersonal than a personal subject. The majority understand λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ of the word of God, as proclaimed and as preserved in Scripture. They refer it then either to the gospel (Cameron, Grotius, Wittich, Akersloot, Ebrard, al.), or to the threatenings of God (Schlichting, Michaelis, Abresch, Böhme, Heinrichs, al.), or, finally, to the threatenings and promises of God taken together (Beza, Schulz, Bisping, al.). λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ is to be understood quite generally: “that which God speaks,” as, indeed, the whole proposition, Hebrews 4:12-13, contains a general sentence. But that “that which God speaks” was then, in its application to the case here specially coming under notice, the call to receptivity of heart repeatedly made by God through the psalmist, and the exclusion from His κατάπαυσις threatened in the event of obstinate disobedience and unbelief, was for the reader self-evident from the connection.

The word of God is characterized in progressive enhancement. It is called ζῶν, living, on account of its inner vital power (not on account of its everlasting, intransitory continuance, Schlichting, Abresch; nor as “cibus ac nutrimentum, quod hominum animis vitam conservat,” Carpzov; nor, in opposition to the rigid lifeless law, Ebrard); ἐνεργής, effective, on account of its asserting itself, manifesting itself vigorously in the outer world. The latter is the consequence of the former, and both in this connection refer to the power of punishing its contemners, which is inherent in the word of God.

The penetrating sharpness of this power of punishment is described in ascending gradation in the sequel.

καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον] and more trenchant than every (any) two-edged sword. ὑπέρ after a comparative (Luke 16:8; Judges 11:25, LXX. Cod. Vaticanus), like παρά, Hebrews 1:4. ΄άχαιρα δίστο΄ος, a sword with twofold mouth, i.e. with an edge on both sides ( ἀμφοτέρωθεν ὀξεῖα). The same expression in the LXX. Judges 3:16; Proverbs 5:4. Comp. ῥο΄φαία δίστο΄ος, Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; LXX. Psalms 149:6; Sirach 21:3. Similarly, Eurip. Helen. 989: ἐμὸν πρὸς ἧπαρ ὦσαι δίστομον ξίφος τόδε; Orest. 1309: δίπτυχα, δίστομα φάσγανα.

The proof for the statement: το΄ώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ΄άχαιραν δίστο΄ον, is contained in the words: καὶ διϊκνού΄ενος ἄχρι ΄ερισ΄οῦ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύ΄ατος, ἁρ΄ῶν τε καὶ ΄υελῶν] and piercing to the separating of soul and spirit, joints as well as marrow. μερισμός denotes the action of separating, and the separating subject is the word of God. Wrongly does Schlichting (comp. also Böhme) take it locally, or as reflexive: to the secret spot where soul and spirit separate. Such construction is to be rejected, as otherwise the clause following would have also to be explained in like manner: where joints and marrow separate. Joints and marrow, however, not being, in the human organization, things coming into direct contact, the thought would be inappropriate, whether we understand ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν in the literal or non-literal sense. Schlichting, to be sure, will make ἁρ΄ῶν τε καὶ ΄υελῶν no longer dependent upon ΄ερισ΄οῦ, but take it as co-ordinate with ΄ερισ΄οῦ (“… ut gladius iste penetrare dicatur ad loca in homine abditissima, etiam illuc, ubi anima cum spiritu connectitur et ab eo dividitur, itemque ubi sunt membrorum compages et medullae”). But for this distinction the repetition of ἄχρι before ἁρ΄ῶν would have been necessary. An entire failure, finally, is also the method proposed by Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. 2 Aufl. p. 297, and likewise still in his Comm. p. 192), in order to preserve the local acceptation, in making ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος dependent on ἁρ΄ῶν τε καὶ ΄υελῶν: “to the point at which it dissects and dissolves both joints and marrow of the inner life, the secret ligaments of its connection and the innermost marrow of its existence.” For then the readers would be required to understand an arrangement of the words which has not, as Hofmann thinks, perhaps “its parallel” in Hebrews 6:1-2, but which is, on the contrary, altogether impossible, on account of the addition of ΄ερισ΄οῦ already to ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύ΄ατος, and therefore nowhere finds its analogon in the N. T., not to say in the Epistle to the Hebrews. All four words: ψυχῆς, πνεύ΄ατος, ἁρ΄ῶν, and ΄υελῶν, depend upon ΄ερισ΄οῦ, and not a dividing of the soul from the spirit, of joinings or joints from, the marrow, is intended, nor yet a dividing of the soul and spirit from joints and marrow (Böhme), but a dividing of the soul, the spirit, etc., each in itself is meant. The two last substantives, however, are not co-ordinate to the two first (Calvin, Beza, Cameron, Storr, Delitzsch, al.), but subordinate. For ψυχή and πνεῦ΄α, which are distinguished from each other as characterizing respectively the lower sensuous life and the higher life of the spirit, here set forth without any more special limitation the inner side of human life generally, in opposition to the σῶ΄α or body, which latter alone an earthly sword is able to pierce, and ἁρ΄οί τε καὶ ΄υελοί is not to be understood of the joints and marrow of the body,(68) but of the ligaments and marrow of the ψυχή and πνεῦμα, is thus a figurative expression to denote the innermost, most hidden depth of the rational life of man. In such transferred signification μυελός is used also with the classics. Comp. Themist. Orat. 32, p. 357: ( ὀδύνη) εἰσδεδυκυῖα εἰς αὐτόν που τὸν μυελὸν τῆς ψυχῆς; Eurip. Hippol. 255 f.: χρῆν γὰρ μετρίας εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλίας θνητοὺς ἀνακίρνασθαι καὶ μὴ πρὸς ἄκρον μυελὸν ψυχῆς. ἁρμός, however, a fastening together, uniting, joint, could likewise he employed metaphorically, inasmuch as it receives its signification as joint of the human body only from the addition of τοῦ σώματος or from the connection, but elsewhere occurs in the most varied combinations and relations. Comp. e.g. ἁρμὸς θύρας, Dionys. Hal. Hebrews 5:7; ἁρμοὶ λιθῶν, Sirach 27:2, al.

It is, moreover, worthy of notice that Philo also ascribes to his divine Logos a like cutting and severing power. He calls the same τομεὺς τῶν συμπάντων, which God has whetted to the most piercing sharpness, which on that account not only separates all sensuous things and penetrates to the atoms, but even divides the supra-sensuous, separating the soul into the rational and irrational, the reason into the true and false, the perception into the clear and the obscure. Comp. especially, Quis rerum divinarum haeres. p. 499 (with Mangey, I. p. 491): εἶτʼ ἐπιλέγει· διεῖλεν αὐτὰ μέσα [Genesis 15:10] τὸ τίς οὐ προσθείς, ἵνα τὸν ἀδίδακτον ἐννοῇς θεὸν τέμνοντα τάς τε τῶν σωμάτων καὶ πραγμάτων ἑξῆς ἁπάσας ἡρμόσθαι καὶ ἡνῶσθαι δοκούσας φύσεις τῷ τομεῖ τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγῳ· ὄς, εἰς τὴν ὀξυτάτην ἀκονηθεὶς ἀκμήν, διαιρῶν οὐδέποτε λήγει τὰ αἰσθητὰ πάντα· ἐπειδὰν δὲ μέχρι τῶν ἀτόμων καὶ λεγομένων ἀμερῶν διεξέλθῃ, πάλιν ἀπὸ τούτων τὰ λόγῳ θεωρητὰ εἰς ἀμυθήτους καὶ ἀπεριγράφους μοίρας ἄρχεται διαιρεῖν οὗτος τομεύςἕκαστον οὖν τῶν τριῶν διεῖλε μέσον, τὴν μὲν ψυχὴν εἰς λογικὸν καὶ ἄλογον, τὸν δὲ λόγον εἰς ἀληθές τε καὶ ψεῦδος, τὴν δὲ αἴσθησιν εἰς καταληπτικὴν φαντασίαν καὶ ἀκατάληπτον.

Ibid. p. 500 (I. p. 492): οὕτως θεὸς ἀκονησάμενος τὸν τομέα τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγον διαιρεῖ τήν τε ἄμορφον καὶ ἄποιον τῶν ὅλων οὐσίαν, καὶ τὰ ἐξ αὐτῆς ἀποκριθέντα τέσσαρα τοῦ κόσμου στοιχεῖα, etc.

Comp. also de Cherubim, p. 112 f. (with Mangey, I. p. 144), where Philo finds in the φλογίνη ῥομφαία, Genesis 3:24, a symbol of the Logos, and then observes with regard to Abraham: οὐχ ὁρᾷς, ὅτι καὶ ἀβραὰμ σοφός, ἡνίκα ἤρξατο κατὰ θεὸν μετρεῖν πάντα καὶ μηδὲν ἀπολείπειν τῷ γεννητῷ, λαμβάνει τῆς φλογίνης ῥομφαίας (i.e. of the divine Logos) μίμημα, πῦρ καὶ μάχαιραν [Genesis 22:6] διελεῖν καὶ καταφλέξαι τὸ θνητὸν ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ γλιχόμενος, ἴνα γυμνῇ τῇ διανοίᾳ μετάρσιος πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀναπτῇ.

καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας] and qualified to take cognizance of, or to judge (wrongly Heinrichs, Kuinoel, al.: to condemn), the dispositions and thoughts of the heart.

ἐνθυμήσεων] Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25; Acts 17:29.

ἐννοιῶν] 1 Peter 4:1.


Verse 13

Hebrews 4:13. Transition from the word of God to God Himself. That the twofold αὐτοῦ and the ὅν, Hebrews 4:13, cannot be referred to Christ,(69) follows from the correct interpretation of λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, Hebrews 4:12. That, however, in general not the total notion λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ (so Ebrard still) can form the subject of the pronouns, Hebrews 4:13, but only the θεός to be deduced therefrom, is evident from the expression τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ, which is appropriate only to the latter, not to the former. The transition from the word of God to God Himself was, moreover, a very natural one, inasmuch as in the word of God, God Himself is present and operative.

κτίσις] as Romans 8:39, and frequently, in the most universal sense: any creature, and indeed here not merely as regards its external existence, but also as regards its inner essence. Quite mistakenly Grotius, who is followed by Carpzov: Videtur mihi hoc loco κτίσις significare opus hominis, quia id est velut creatura hominis.

δέ] on the contrary. See on Hebrews 2:6.

τετραχηλισμένα laid bare. Hesychius: πεφανερωμένα. τραχηλίζειν means: to bend back the neck of the victim, in the act of slaying, in order to lay bare the chest, then generally: to lay bare, disclose, expose to view. See the Lexicons of Passow and Pape on the word. Comp. Hom. Il. 1:459: αὖ ἔρυσαν, sc. τὸυ τράχηλον τοῦ ἱεροῦ; Orpheus, Argon. 311: ταῦρον σφάζον, ἀνακλίνας κεφαλὴν εἰς αἰθέρα δῖαν; P. Fr. Ach. Nitsch, Beschreibung des häuslichen, gottesdienstlichen u. s. w. Zustandes der Griechen, 2 Aufl. Th. I. p. 667. Others, as Elsner, Wolf, Baumgarten, Kuinoel, Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, and Maier, would, after the precedent of Perizonius, ad Aeliani Var. Hist. 12:58, derive the signification “lay bare” to τραχηλίζειν, from the practice in antiquity of laying hold of transgressors by the neck when they were being led away to execution, and bending back the head, that they might be exposed to the gaze of all. Appeal is made not amiss to Suetonius in favour of this custom, Vitell. 17: donec (Vitellius) religatis post terga manibus, injecto cervicibus laqueo, veste discissa, seminudus in forum tractus est … reducto coma capite, ceu noxii solent, atque etiam mento mucrone gladii subrecto, ad visendam praeberet faciem neve submitteret. In like manner to Pliny, Panegyr. 34. 3 : Nihil tamen gratius, nihil seculo dignius, quam quod contigit desuper intueri delatorum supina ora retortasque cervices. Yet a Roman custom cannot in itself afford a standard for determining the signification of a Greek word. Yet others, as Cameron, Brochmann, and Klee, suppose the general signification: “to lay bare,” for τραχηλίζειν, to arise from the circumstance that the verb is used also of the wrestler, who grasps his opponent by the throat, and hurls him down backwards, whereby the face of the latter is exposed to the full view of the spectators (Cameron: Videtur esse metaphora petita a re palaestrica. Nam luctatores turn demum adversarium dicuntur τραχηλίζειν, cum obstricto collo ita versant, ut objiciant spectatorum oculis nudum conspiciendum et retectum undiquaque, id quod turn demum maxime fit, quum ejus cervicibus inequitant). But the exposing of the face of the thrown opponent was a circumstance of no importance in the τραχηλίζειν of the athlete, because not at all necessarily connected therewith. Further, and not less improbable derivations, see in Bleek.

πρὸς ὅν κ. τ. λ.] is to be taken in close combination only with the αὐτοῦ immediately preceding, not likewise, as is done by Michaelis, Bloomfield, and Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. 2 Aufl. p. 104), with the first αὐτοῦ, and upon ἡμῖν falls no emphasis (against Ebrard and Alford). The words for the rest have too little the character of independence to justify our taking them alone, with Alford, and separating them by a colon from that which precedes.

πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν λόγος] towards whom exists for us the relation, i.e. with whom we have to do. Calvin: vertendum erat: cum quo nobis est ratio: cujus orationis hic est sensus, Deum esse, qui nobiscum agit, vel cum quo nobis est negotium, ideoque non esse ludendum quasi cum homine mortali, sed quoties verbum ejus nobis proponitur, contremiscendum esse, quia nihil ipsum lateat. Comp. 1 Kings 2:14 and 2 Kings 9:5 : λόγος μοι πρὸς σέ.

Aristides, Leuctr. iv. p. 465: ἐμοὶ δὲ καὶ τοῦτο θαυμαστὸν φαίνεται, εἴ τις τὸ μὲν θηβαίους μόνους ἀντιπάλους ἡμῖν καταλειφθῆναι δέδιε, τὸ δὲ πρὸς ἀμφοτέρους ἡμῖν εἶναι τὸν λόγου, οὐδενὸς ἄξιου κρίνει φόβον. Further examples in Wetstein and Bleek. Incorrectly do Luther, Vatablus, Cameron, Schlichting, Cornelius a Lapide [Piscator hesitates between this and the rendering above given], Grotius, Calov, Wolf, Schulz, Stengel, al., generally with an appeal to πρός, i. 7, 8, and a comparison of Hebrews 5:11, take πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν λόγος as equivalent to περὶ οὗ ἡμῖν λόγος. Moreover, something entirely foreign is imported by Ewald when, with a reference to ii. 10 f., he finds in the words the sense: “to whom, as a friend and brother, we can always most confidently speak.” Finally, the Peshito, Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Erasmus Paraphr., Clarius, Zeger, Owen, Limborch, Michaelis, Whitby, Cramer, Stuart, Hofmann, al., explain: to whom we shall have to give an account of our actions. In itself this interpretation would be admissible; but, inasmuch as the words must in consequence thereof be taken in reference to an event yet future, we should necessarily expect the addition of ἔσται.


Verse 14

Hebrews 4:14. The introductory phrase: ἔχοντες οὖν ἀρχιερέα, presupposes that the author has already had occasion to speak of Jesus as ἀρχιερεύς. We are therefore led back for οὖν to Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1. But, since there is further added to ἀρχιερέα the qualification μέγαν and διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, and thus also these characteristics must be presupposed as known from that which precedes, we have consequently not to limit οὖν, in its backward reference, to Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, but to extend it to the whole disquisition, Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 3:6, in such wise that (logically, indeed, in a not very exact manner) μέγαν, διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς glances back in general to the dignity and exaltedness of the person of Jesus, as described in these sections.

Erroneously does Delitzsch suppose that by means of οὖν the exhortation κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας is derived as a deduction from Hebrews 4:12-13. Such opinion would be warranted only if, with the omission of the participial clause, merely κρατῶμεν οὖν τῆς ὁμολογίας had been written. For since κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας has received its own justification in the prefixed ἔχοντες κ. τ. λ., apart from that which immediately precedes, it is clear that, in connection with Hebrews 4:14, there is no further respect had to the contents of Hebrews 4:12-13. It is not therefore to be approved that Delitzsch, in order to make room for the unfortunate reference to Hebrews 4:12-13, will have οὖν logically attached to the verb κρατῶμεν, instead of the participle, with which it is grammatically connected, and to which, as the most simple and natural, the like passage, Hebrews 10:19 ff., also points. What laboured confusion of the relations would Delitzsch require the reader to assume, when he is called to regard ἔχοντες κ. τ. λ., as being at the same time a recapitulation of that which has been said before, and continuation of the argument; and yet, spite of all this, to look upon κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας as a deduction from Hebrews 4:12-13! In any case, the connection asserted by Delitzsch to exist between Hebrews 4:14 and Hebrews 4:12-13 : “the word of God demands obedience and appropriation, i.e. faith, not, however, as merely a faith locked up within the breast, but also a loud Yea and Amen, unreserved and fearless confession, ὁμολογία from mouth and heart, as the echo thereof,” is in itself a baseless imagination; because the before-demanded πίστις and the here demanded ὁμολογία are by no means distinguished from each other as a minus and a majus, but, on the contrary, in the mind of the author of the epistle are synonyms. It results that οὖν stands in a somewhat free relation to the foregoing argument, consequently must not at all be taken as, strictly speaking, an illative particle, with which that which precedes is first brought to a close, but as a particle of resuming, which, in the form of a return to that which has already been said before, begins a new section.

μέγαν] does not in such wise appertain to ἀρχιερέα that only in combination with the same it should form the idea of the high priest (Jac. Cappellus, Braun, Rambach, Wolf, Carpzov, Michaelis, Stuart), but is indicative of the quality of the high priest, and means exalted, just as μέγας, Hebrews 10:21, in combination with ἱερεύς. Comp. also Hebrews 13:20.

As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews represents Christ the Son of God, so also does Philo (De Somn. p. 598 A, with Mangey, I. p. 654) represent the divine Logos as μέγας ἀρχιερεύς. Comp. ibid. p. 597 (I. p. 653): δύο γάρ, ὡς ἔσικεν, ἱερὰ θεοῦ, ἓν μὲν ὅδε κόσμος, ἐν καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς πρωτόγονος αὐτοῦ θεῖος λόγος, ἕτερον δὲ λογικὴ ψυχή, ἧς ἱερὺς πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἄνθρωπος.

διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς] elucidatory demonstration of μέγαν. Wrongly is it translated by Luther (as also by the Peshito): who has ascended up to heaven; by Calvin, Peirce, Ernesti, al.: qui coelos ingressus est. It can only signify [Piscator, Owen, Bengel, Tholuck, Stuart, al.]: who has passed through the heavens, sc. in order, exalted above the heavens (cf. Hebrews 7:26; Ephesians 4:10), to take His seat upon the throne of the Divine Majesty (i. 3, 13). Allusion to the high priest of the Old Covenant, who, in order to make atonement for the people, passed through the courts of the Temple, and through the Temple itself, into the Most Holy Place. Comp. Hebrews 9:11.

ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ] emphatic apposition to ἀρχιερέα μέγαν κ. τ. λ., in which the characterization of Jesus as the υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 1:5, Hebrews 6:6, Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 10:29) serves anew to call attention to the dignity of the New Testament High Priest. Quite mistaken are Wolf and Böhme in their conjecture that the object in the addition of τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ is the distinction of Jesus from the Joshua mentioned Hebrews 4:8. For the mention of Joshua, Hebrews 4:8, was, as regards the connection, only an incidental one, on which account there also not even a more precise definition was given to the name.

κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας] let us hold fast (Hebrews 6:18; Colossians 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; wrongly Tittmann: lay hold of, embrace) the confession. ὁμολογία is not, with Storr, to be referred specially to the confession of Christ as the High Priest, but to be taken in general of the Christian confession. The expression is here too used objectively, as Hebrews 3:1, of the sum or subject-matter of the Christian’s belief.


Verse 15

Hebrews 4:15. Further justification of the demand, Hebrews 4:14, of stedfast adherence to the Christian confession.(70) For the High Priest of Christians is not merely a highly exalted One (Hebrews 4:14), He is also qualified, since as Brother He stands very closely related to believers, and has been tempted as they are, to have sympathy for their weaknesses. Comp. Hebrews 2:17-18. Calvin: In nomine Filii Dei, quod posuit, subest ea majestas, quae nos ad timorem et obsequium adigat. Verum si nihil in Christo aliud consideremus, nondum pacatae erunt conscientiae. Quis enim non reformidet Filii Dei conspectum, praesertim quum reputamus, qualis sit nostra conditio, nobisque in mentem veniunt peccata nostra? Deinde Judaeis aliud obstare poterat, quia Levitico sacerdotio assueverant: illic cernebant hominem mortalem unum ex aliis electum, qui sanctuarium ingrediebatur, ut sua deprecatione reconciliaret fratres suos Deo. Hoc magnum est, quum mediator, qui placare erga nos Deum potest, unus est ex nobis. Haec illecebra poterat Judaeos illaqueare, ut sacerdotio Levitico semper essent addicti, nisi occurreret apostolus, ac ostenderet Filium Dei non modo excellere gloria, sed aequa bonitate et indulgentia erga nos esse praeditum. Whereas δυνά΄ενον συ΄παθῆσαι and πεπειρασ΄ένον κατὰ πάντα καθʼ ὁ΄οιότητα bring out the homogeneity of the New Testament High Priest with that of the Old Testament (comp. Hebrews 5:2), the dissimilarity at the same time existing between the two is rendered apparent by χωρὶς ἁ΄αρτίας.

συ΄παθεῖν] to have sympathy, compassionate feeling. Comp. Hebrews 10:34. Preliminary condition to bestowing succour and redemption.

αἱ ἀσθένειαι ἡμῶν] the conditions of human weakness, as well moral as physical, which have been called forth by the entrance of sin into the world.

πεπειρασ΄ένον δέ] contains in the form of a correction of ΄ὴ δυνά΄ενον the proof of the capacity for having sympathy.

κατὰ πάντα] Comp. Hebrews 2:17.

καθʼ ὁ΄οιότητα] sc. ἡμῶν (comp. Hebrews 7:15 : κατὰ τὴν ὁ΄οιότητα ΄ελχισεδέκ), or ἡ΄ῖν (comp. Polyb. xiii. 7. 2 : ἦν γὰρ εἴδωλον γυναικεῖον, πολυτελέσιν ἱ΄ατίοις ἠ΄φιεσ΄ένον, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ΄ορφὴν εἰς ὁ΄οιότητα τῇ τοῦ νάβιδος γυναικὶ διαφόρως ἀπειργασ΄ένον), or even πρὸς ἡ΄ᾶς (comp. Philo, de Profugis, p. 458 A, with Mangey, I. p. 553: κατὰ τὴν πρὸς τἄλλα ὁμοιότητα): in like (similar) manner as we.

χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας] without sin, i.e. without sin arising out of the temptations, or more clearly: without His being led into sinning, as a result of His being tempted. Comp. Hebrews 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22. When Hofmann (Schrifthew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 37) and Delitzsch will discover in these words the additional indication that in the case of Jesus temptation also found no sin present, this is indeed true as to the fact, but open to the misconception of being supposed to imply that even the possibility of sinning on the part of Jesus is denied, whereas surely this possibility in itself must be conceived of as an essential factor in the idea of being tempted; and opposed to the context, because χωρὶς ἁ΄αρτίας is the continued note of modality of πεπειρασ΄ένον, and thus cannot possibly specify something that was already present, even before the πειράζεσθαι came in. More in accordance with the context, therefore, does Alford express himself: “Throughout these temptations, in their origin, in their process, in their result,—sin had nothing in Him: He was free and separate from it.” Wrongly Jac. Cappellus, Calmet, Semler, Storr, Ernesti, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and others: tempted in all things, sin excepted. For in that case χωρὶς τῆς ἁμαρτίας (with the article) would be written, and this be connected immediately with κατὰ πάντα. Mistaken, however, is also the explanation of Oecumenius, Schlichting, Dindorf: without having committed sin, as a guiltless one; an interpretation which would be admissible only if πειράζεσθαι could be referred specially to the enduring of outward sufferings, which might be seen to be a consequence of sin.

Comp., for the rest, on χωρὶς ἁ΄αρτίας likewise the kindred statements concerning the divine Logos in Philo, de Profugis, p. 466 B (with Mangey, I. p. 562): λέγομεν γάρ, τὸν ἀρχιερέα οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀλλὰ λόγον θεῖον εἶναι, πάντων οὐχ ἑκουσίων μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκουσίων ἀδικημάτων ἀμέτοχον.

Ibid. p. 467 C (I. p. 563): ἀμέτοχος γὰρ καὶ ἀπαράδεκτος παντὸς εἶναι πέφυκεν ἁμαρτήματος.


Verse 16

Hebrews 4:16. Encouragement, derived from the character of the High Priest of the New Testament, as brought into relief, Hebrews 4:15.

προσέρχεσθαι] approach, draw near, in order to have community with something. Comp. Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22. Too specially Delitzsch, Kurtz, and Ewald, who explain: drawing near in prayer for aid or succour.

μετὰ παῤῥησίας] with confidence, (Hebrews 3:6), inasmuch as we possess, in the very office of intercessor, a High Priest who is not only exalted, but also full of sympathy, who thus has not only the power, but also the will to help.

θρόνος τῆς χάριτος] not: Christ Himself (Gerhard, S. Schmidt, Carpzov, Ernesti, al.), not: the throne of Christ (Primasius [also Tena, arguing from the Vulgate of Hebrews 2:9], Schlichting, Limborch, Chr. Fr. Schmid, al.), but the throne of God, at whose right hand Christ is seated. Comp. Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 12:2 [Ephesians 2:18]. It is called, however, the throne of grace, because the nature of the New Covenant has, as its presupposition, not strictly judicial retribution, according to the works of men, but compassion and grace on the part of God; the believer feels himself united to God as a loving Father, who has remitted to him the guilt and punishment of sin. A reference for the rest to the cover of the ark of the covenant, regarded as the seat of the Godhead in the sanctuary (the כַּפֹּרֶת or ἱλαστήριον of the Old Covenant), assumed by Piscator, Schöttgen, Wolf, Carpzov, Cramer, Abresch, Kuinoel, Paulus, al., and still in recent times by Bloomfield and Bisping (comp. also Kurtz ad loc.), in connection with the expression: θρόνος τῆς χάριτος, is not indicated by anything in the text.

To obtain mercy and find grace (Luke 1:30; Acts 7:46; comp. מָצָא חֵן, Genesis 6:8; Genesis 18:3, and frequently) are synonymous terms. All distinctions, as that of Böhme: ἔλεος magis id appellat, quo indigebant calamitatibus oppressi lectores, χάρις, quo peccatis non carentes; of Stein, that ἔλεος relates to compassion towards the sinner, χάρις to every manifestation of grace; of Bisping, that ἔλεος refers more to the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from sufferings, while χάρις refers to the communication of higher gifts of grace; of Hofmann, that χάριν εὑρίσκειν means “to be brought into a state of favour with any one, to become an object of his good-will;” λαμβάνειν ἔλεος, on the other hand, is “a receiving of that which the kind and gracious One accords to those in need of His kindness, just on account of their need,” and many others, are untenable.

εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν] for timely help, i.e. in order that we may in this manner attain to a help which appears on the scene, while it is still the right time, before it is yet too late (Hebrews 3:13). Wrongly Tholuck, Delitzsch, Moll, Kurtz, and Hofmann: “before the one in conflict with the temptations succumbs;” and others (also Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 740): “as often as we stand in need of the βοήθεια.”

 


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

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