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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Hebrews 1:1

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

Adam Clarke Commentary

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners - We can scarcely conceive any thing more dignified than the opening of this epistle; the sentiments are exceedingly elevated, and the language, harmony itself! The infinite God is at once produced to view, not in any of those attributes which are essential to the Divine nature, but in the manifestations of his love to the world, by giving a revelation of his will relative to the salvation of mankind, and thus preparing the way, through a long train of years, for the introduction of that most glorious Being, his own Son. This Son, in the fullness of time, was manifested in the flesh that he might complete all vision and prophecy, supply all that was wanting to perfect the great scheme of revelation for the instruction of the world, and then die to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. The description which he gives of this glorious personage is elevated beyond all comparison. Even in his humiliation, his suffering of death excepted, he is infinitely exalted above all the angelic host, is the object of their unceasing adoration, is permanent on his eternal throne at the right hand of the Father, and from him they all receive their commands to minister to those whom he has redeemed by his blood. in short, this first chapter, which may be considered the introduction to the whole epistle is, for importance of subject, dignity of expression, harmony and energy of language, compression and yet distinctness of ideas, equal, if not superior, to any other part of the New Testament.

Sundry times - Πολυμερως, from πολυς, many, and μερος, a part; giving portions of revelation at different times.

Divers manners - Πολυτροπως, from πολυς, many, and τροπος, a manner, turn, or form of speech; hence trope, a figure in rhetoric. Lambert Bos supposes these words to refer to that part of music which is denominated harmony, viz. that general consent or union of musical sounds which is made up of different parts; and, understood in this way, it may signify the agreement or harmony of all the Old Testament writers, who with one consent gave testimony to Jesus Christ, and the work of redemption by him. To him gave all the prophets witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins; Acts 10:43.

But it is better to consider, with Kypke, that the words are rather intended to point out the imperfect state of Divine revelation under the Old Testament; it was not complete, nor can it without the New be considered a sufficiently ample discovery of the Divine will. Under the Old Testament, revelations were made πολυμερως και πολυτροπως, at various times, by various persons, in various laws and forms of teaching, with various degrees of clearness, under various shadows, types, and figures, and with various modes of revelation, such as by angels, visions, dreams, mental impressions, etc. See Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8. But under the New Testament all is done ἁπλως, simply, by one person, i.e. Jesus, who has fulfilled the prophets, and completed prophecy; who is the way, the truth, and the life; and the founder, mediator, and governor of his own kingdom.

One great object of the apostle is, to put the simplicity of the Christian system in opposition to the complex nature of the Mosaic economy; and also to show that what the law could not do because it was weak through the flesh, Jesus has accomplished by the merit of his death, and the energy of his Spirit.

Maximus Tyrius, Diss. 1, page 7, has a passage where the very words employed by the apostle are found, and evidently used nearly in the same sense: Τῃ του ανθρωπου ψυχῃ δυο οργανων οντων προς συνεσιν, του μεν ἁπλου, ὁν καλουμεν νουν, του δε ποικιλου και πολυμερους και πολυτροπου, ἁς αισθησεις καλουμεν . "The soul of man has two organs of intelligence: one simple, which we call mind; the other diversified, and acting in various modes and various ways, which we term sense."

A similar form of expression the same writer employs in Diss. 15, page 171: "The city which is governed by the mob, πολυφωνον τε ειναι και πολυμερη και πολυπαθη, is full of noise, and is divided by various factions and various passions." The excellence of the Gospel above the law is here set down in three points:

  1. God spake unto the faithful under the Old Testament by Moses and the prophets, worthy servants, yet servants; now the Son is much better than a servant, Hebrews 1:4.
  • Whereas the body of the Old Testament was long in compiling, being about a thousand years from Moses to Malachi; and God spake unto the fathers by piecemeal, one while raising up one prophet, another while another, now sending them one parcel of prophecy or history, then another; but when Christ came, all was brought to perfection in one age; the apostles and evangelists were alive, some of them, when every part of the New Testament was completely finished.
  • 3. The Old Testament was delivered by God in divers manners, both in utterance and manifestation; but the delivery of the Gospel was in a more simple manner; for, although there are various penmen, yet the subject is the same, and treated with nearly the same phraseology throughout; James, Jude, and the Apocalypse excepted. See Leigh.


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    Bibliography
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/hebrews-1.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    God who at sundry times - The commencement of this Epistle varies from all the others which Paul wrote. In every other instance he at first announces his name, and the name of the church or of the individual to whom he wrote. In regard to the reason why he here varies from that custom, see the introduction, section 3. This commences with the full acknowledgment of his belief that God had made important revelations in past times, but that now he had communicated his will in a manner that more especially claimed their attention. This announcement was of particular importance here. He was writing to those who had been trained up in the full belief of the truths taught by the prophets. As the object of the apostle was to show the superior claims of the gospel, and to lead them from putting confidence in the rites instituted in accordance with the directions of the Old Testament, it was of essential importance that he should admit that their belief of the inspiration of the prophets was well founded.

    He was not an infidel. He was not disposed to call in question the divine origin of the books which were regarded as given by inspiration. He fully admitted all that had been held by the Hebrews on that heart, and yet showed that the new revelation had more important claims to their attention. The word rendered “at sundry times” - πολυμερῶς polumerōs- means “in many parts.” It refers here to the fact that the former revelation had been given in various parts. It had not all been given at once. It had been communicated from time to time as the exigencies of the people required, and as God chose to communicate it. At one time it was by history, then by prophecy, by poetry, by proverbs, by some solemn and special message, etc. The ancient revelation was a collection of various writings, on different subjects, and given at different times; but now God had addressed us by His Son - the one great Messenger who had come to finish the divine communications, and to give a uniform and connected revelation to mankind. The contrast here is between the numerous separate parts of the revelation given by the prophets, and the oneness of that given by his Son. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

    And in divers manners - - πολυτρόπως polutropōsIn many ways. It was not all in one mode. He had employed various methods in communicating his will. At one time it was by direct communication, at another by dreams, at another by visions, etc. In regard to the various methods which God employed to communicate his will, see Introduction to Isaiah, section 7. In contradistinction from these, God had now spoken by his Son. He had addressed us in one uniform manner. It was not by dreams, or visions; it was a direct communication from him. The word used here, also, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

    In times past - Formerly; in ancient times. The series of revelations began, as recorded by Moses, with Adam Romans 12:6 note; 1 Corinthians 14:1 note. It is used here in that large sense - as denoting all those by whom God had made communications to the Jews in former times.


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    Bibliography
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/hebrews-1.html. 1870.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    THE BOOK OF HEBREWS

    (Hebrews 1:1-2:18)

    CHRIST IS BETTER THAN ANGELS;

    CHRIST IS PREFERRED ABOVE ANGELS; BOTH IN PERSON AND IN OFFICE

    God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners. (Hebrews 1:1)

    Like the Fourth Gospel and the Book of Genesis, this epistle begins with God. There are no apologetics, no hint of argument, no implied admission of possible error, no suggestion of any doubt, but only the dramatic presentation of the grand assumption that God is and that only a fool could deny it; and yet this opening statement goes far beyond the fact of God's existence, starkly magnificent though that fact appears, and enlightens people with some of the most significant information that it is possible to have concerning God. Thus, he is a God who speaks; and, because only a person can speak, this reveals him as a personal God.

    The personality of God is a concept underlying the whole fabric of the Christian faith; and it is exactly here, in a widespread failure of people to know that God is a person, that so much current religious thought has floundered. The depersonalization of the Almighty is the mortal error that underlies the extensive confusion and impotence which are the bane of so much modern religious thought. True religion demands a personal God at the center; and anything else is fatal. If God is not a person, then all religion is a delusion, and faith is bankrupt. William F. Buckley, in NATIONAL REVIEW magazine, noted that the concept of an impersonal God robs religion of its three "R's," these being revelation, regeneration, and responsibility. If God is not personal, there can be no such thing as revelation; for, if there is no speaker, nothing has been spoken. Likewise, there could be no such thing as regeneration, because no one can be the son of some natural law, such as the law of osmosis or the law of gravitation. Responsibility also derives from the fact that God is a person; and, if God is not a person, then feeble, fallible man must be hailed as the highest thing in heaven and upon earth; and it is precisely that delusion which is the source of so much human sorrow. If God is not a person who will hold people accountable and bring them to judgment, then it is intellectually impossible to view man as responsible, ultimately, to anything except himself; and that, it should be noted, is exactly the proposition which in the form of a godless humanism, is bidding for allegiance of people's minds today. Therefore, what a refreshment of the soul flows from the opening words of Hebrews with their bold revelation of a God who speaks, and even what is more, a God who speaks to man!

    God also appears in this reference as the author of the Old Testament, having spoken of old to the prophets, and thus being revealed as the author of the Hebrew institutions which he initiated and promulgated by means of divine communication through the patriarchs and prophets, through whom God spoke at various times in several ways. Thus, in the first sentence of Hebrews, the author made it clear that, far from denying the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament, he intended his message to be a bold confirmation of both, his position being the same as that of Jesus who, when quoting the Old Testament, ascribed the words, not to men, but to God, saying, "For God said ..." (Matthew 15:4).


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    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Bibliography
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/hebrews-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    William Newell's Commentary on Romans and Revelation

    WE BEG THE READER'S permission thus to begin the opening words of this great epistle with a literal arrangement of the order of the Greek words, which may at first appear strange; but which will profit us as we remember that God thus spake. God did not, as does our English version, place His Name as the very opening word of the epistle. But He sets forth His many Old Testament words, and His divers manners of speaking in that time past to the fathers by the prophets--as contrasted with His speaking to us at the end of these (Old Testament) days ... in a Son!

    Now this is a strange manner of speech; to speak in a Son! But thus, in a word, is set before us the great message of Hebrews. God hath spoken to us! How? Not after the former messages in the Old Testament prophets; but in a Person, a Son-Who is now declared to be God, Creator, Upholder, Lord, Heir of all things!

    In the "Four Gospels," as four "books of the Bible," Christ is set forth; for in these records God speaks to us in His Son! In Matthew He walks before us as the King of Israel; in Mark as the Servant of Jehovah; in Luke as the Son of Man; and in John as the Eternal Word, "the Only Begotten Son," Creator-God! So it is not in the New Testament as in the former Old Testament portions or manners. in the Old Testament God spake by prophets. Now God hath spoken unto us in (the Person of) His Son. "God was manifest in the flesh."

    And here at the beginning let us bow our whole being at this word, God. God has spoken! An old Puritan preacher used to say there were just two things he desired to know: "First, Does God speak (concerning any matter)? Second, What does God say?" Atheists-fools, deny God's being. Deists deny that He has revealed Himself--that He has spoken. The great multitude of humanity ignore Him, living their little selfish earth-lives, to hear at last the fearful words, "Depart from Me." "Hear, and your soul shall live" is the constant message of Scripture. Nor is God named in Hebrews 1:1 as "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," as in Paul's epistles to the Church as such. For the subject immediately taken up in Hebrews 1 is not our salvation or blessing, but the Person and place of God's Son!

    First, the whole Old Testament revelation is compassed in simple words: Having of old time spoken unto the fathers* in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners (literally, multi-partedly and multi-manneredly). This of course refers to God's revelation of Himself in the Old Testament, especially the period following Abraham and Genesis 12through Malachi—before the Son was sent. We remember that in these thirty-nine books of the Old Testament there are various parts or "books": history, biography, genealogy, legislation, religious ordinances, spiritual experiences, prophecy. And God spoke in various manners: sometimes by the Spirit directly upon His servants; sometimes through angels, or even in theophanies (appearances of God Himself as the Angel of Jehovah, as to Abraham in Genesis 18); sometimes by conferred Divine wisdom, as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; sometimes through putting His words in the mouth of His prophets; and sometimes through prophetic visions or dreams of the night.

    * (In reading Hebrews, Gentile believers naturally and correctly, though unconsciously, assume that "the fathers" belong to them. For a Gentile believer is told that "Abraham is the father of us all," that is, of all true believers: "If ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." (Ro 4:16, Gal. 3:29).

    * It will not do at all to view the writer of Hebrews as building up that which God has destroyed, as regards the present standing of national Israel in His sight. We repeat over and over that today Israel is Lo-ammi--"not God's people" (Hos. 1:9); that the Kingdom of God has been "taken away" from that nation (Mt 21:43); that nation having crucified their Messiah, their Messianic promises and hopes were deferred to a remnant at the Lord's return. Meanwhile, God had raised up Christ His Son, and set Him at His own right hand, in a priesthood compared to which Moses and Levi and Aaron were but "shadows." National Israel was left behind at the Cross--as were indeed all men! The Cross was the end of man; God was manifest in the flesh and they spat in His face and crucified Him.)


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    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/hebrews-1.html. 1938.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners,.... The apostle begins the epistle with an account of the revelation God has made of his mind and will in former times: the author of this revelation is God, not essentially, but personally considered, even God the Father, as distinguished from his Son in the next verse; for the revelation under the Old Testament is divine, as well as that under the New; in this they both agree, in whatsoever else they differ: and this revelation was made at several times, at different seasons, and to different persons; and consisted of a variety of things relating to doctrine and worship, and concerning the Messiah, his person and office; of whom, at different times, there were gradual discoveries made, both before and after the giving of the law, from the beginning of the world, or the giving forth of the first promise, and in the times of the patriarchs, of: Moses, David, Isaiah, and other prophets: and this was delivered in various manners; sometimes by angels; sometimes in a dream; at other times by a vision; and sometimes by Urim and Thummim: and this he

    spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets; by Moses, and other succeeding prophets, as David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi, and others; who were sent to the Jewish fathers, the ancestors of the people of the Jews, to whom they prophesied and declared the will of God, as they were moved and inspired by the Holy Ghost: and the apostle suggests, by this way of speaking, that it was a long time since God spake to this people; for prophecy had ceased ever since the times of Malachi, for the space of three hundred years; and this time past includes the whole Old Testament dispensation, from the beginning to the end of it, or of prophecy in it.


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    Bibliography
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-1.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    God, who at 1 sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

    The purpose of this epistle, is to show that Jesus Christ the Son of God both God and man is that true eternal and only Prophet, King and High Priest, that was shadowed by the figures of the old law, and is now indeed exhibited of whom the whole Church ought to be taught, governed and sanctified.

    (1) The first part of the general proposition of this epistle the son of God is indeed that prophet or teacher, who has actually now performed that which God after a sort and in shadows signified by his prophets, and has fully revealed his Father's will to the world.


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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/hebrews-1.html. 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    Hebrews 1:1-14. The highest of all revelations is given us now in the Son of God, who is greater than the angels, and who, having completed redemption, sits enthroned at God‘s right hand.

    The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those addressed (Hebrews 13:19). For proofs of Paul being the author, see my Introduction. In the Pauline method, the statement of subject and the division are put before the discussion; and at the close, the practical follows the doctrinal portion. The ardor of Spirit in this Epistle, as in First John, bursting forth at once into the subject (without prefatory inscription of name and greeting), the more effectively strikes the hearers. The date must have been while the temple was yet standing, before its destruction, a.d. 70; some time before the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this Epistle of Paul (2 Peter 3:15, 2 Peter 3:16); at a time when many of the first hearers of the Lord were dead.

    at sundry timesGreek, “in many portions.” All was not revealed to each one prophet; but one received one portion of revelation, and another another. To Noah the quarter of the world to which Messiah should belong was revealed; to Abraham, the nation; to Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the family; to Micah, the town of nativity; to Daniel, the exact time; to Malachi, the coming of His forerunner, and His second advent; through Jonah, His burial and resurrection; through Isaiah and Hosea, His resurrection. Each only knew in part; but when that which was perfect came in Messiah, that which was in part was done away (1 Corinthians 13:12).

    in divers manners — for example, internal suggestions, audible voices, the Urim and Thummim, dreams, and visions. “In one way He was seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in another by Elias, and in another by Micah; Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, beheld different forms” [Theodoret]. (Compare Numbers 12:6-8). The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, and manifold in form; the very multitude of prophets shows that they prophesied only in part. In Christ, the revelation of God is full, not in shifting hues of separated color, but Himself the pure light, uniting in His one person the whole spectrum (Hebrews 1:3).

    spake — the expression usual for a Jew to employ in addressing Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing especially for Jews, quotes Scripture, not by the formula, “It is written,” but “said,” etc.

    in time past — From Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, for four hundred years, there had arisen no prophet, in order that the Son might be the more an object of expectation [Bengel]. As God (the Father) is introduced as having spoken here; so God the Son, Hebrews 2:3; God the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 3:7.

    the fathers — the Jewish fathers. The Jews of former days (1 Corinthians 10:1).

    byGreek, “in.” A mortal king speaks by his ambassador, not (as the King of kings) in his ambassador. The Son is the last and highest manifestation of God (Matthew 21:34, Matthew 21:37); not merely a measure, as in the prophets, but the fullness of the Spirit of God dwelling in Him bodily (John 1:16; John 3:34; Colossians 2:9). Thus he answers the Jewish objection drawn from their prophets. Jesus is the end of all prophecy (Revelation 19:10), and of the law of Moses (John 1:17; John 5:46).


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    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/hebrews-1.html. 1871-8.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

    1. This verse sweeps forever from the field all the prophets, like Mohammed and Joe Smith, claiming inspiration, since the days of Christ.


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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/hebrews-1.html.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    God (ο τεοςho theos). This Epistle begins like Genesis and the Fourth Gospel with God, who is the Author of the old revelation in the prophets and of the new in his Son. Hebrews 1:1-3 are a proemium (Delitzsch) or introduction to the whole Epistle. The periodic structure of the sentence (Hebrews 1:1-4) reminds one of Luke 1:1-4, Romans 1:1-7, 1 John 1:1-4. The sentence could have concluded with εν υιωιen huiōi in Hebrews 1:2, but by means of three relatives (ον δι ου οςhon class="greek-hebrew">παλαι — di' hou class="greek-hebrew">λαλησας hos) the author presents the Son as “the exact counterpart of God” (Moffatt).

    Of old time (λαλεωpalai). “Long ago” as in Matthew 11:21.

    Having spoken
    (τοις πατρασινlalēsas). First aorist active participle of εν τοις προπηταιςlaleō originally chattering of birds, then used of the highest form of speech as here.

    Unto the fathers
    (πολυμερωςtois patrasin). Dative case. The Old Testament worthies in general without “our” or “your” as in John 6:58; John 7:22; Romans 9:5.

    In the prophets
    (πολυμερηςen tois prophētais). As the quickening power of their life (Westcott). So Hebrews 4:7.

    By divers portions
    (πολυτροπωςpolumerōs). “In many portions.” Adverb from late adjective πολυτροποςpolumerēs (in papyri), both in Vettius Valens, here only in N.T., but in Wisdom 7:22 and Josephus (Ant. VIII, 3, 9). The Old Testament revelation came at different times and in various stages, a progressive revelation of God to men.

    In divers manners
    (διαπορωςpolutropōs). “In many ways.” Adverb from old adjective polutropos in Philo, only here in N.T. The two adverbs together are “a sonorous hendiadys for ‹variously‘” (Moffatt) as Chrysostom (diaphorōs). God spoke by dream, by direct voice, by signs, in different ways to different men (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, etc.).


    Copyright Statement
    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

    Bibliography
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/hebrews-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    God

    Both stages of the revelation were given by God.

    At sundry times ( πολυμερῶς )

    Rend. in many parts. N.T.oolxx, but πολυμερής Wisd. 7:22. In the first stage of his revelation, God spake, not at once, giving a complete revelation of his being and will; but in many separate revelations, each of which set forth only a portion of the truth. The truth as a whole never comes to light in the O.T. It appears fragmentarily, in successive acts, as the periods of the Patriarchs, Moses, the Kingdom, etc. One prophet has one, another element of the truth to proclaim.

    In divers manners ( πολυτροπῶς )

    Rend. in many ways. N.T.olxx, 4Macc. 3:21. This refers to the difference of the various revelations in contents and form. Not the different ways in which God imparted his revelations to the prophets, but the different ways in which he spoke by the prophets to the fathers: in one way through Moses, in another through Elijah, in others through Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. At the founding of the Old Testament kingdom of God, the character of the revelation was elementary. Later it was of a character to appeal to a more matured spiritual sense, a deeper understanding and a higher conception of the law. The revelation differed according to the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the covenant-people. Comp. Ephesians 3:10, the many-tinted wisdom of God, which is associated with this passage by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i. 4,27). “Fitly, therefore, did the apostle call the wisdom of God many-tinted, as showing its power to benefit us in many parts and in many ways.”

    Spake ( λαλήσας )

    See on Matthew 28:18. Often in the Epistle of the announcement of the divine will by men, as Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 9:19; by angels, as Hebrews 2:2; by God himself or Christ, as Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 12:25. In Paul, almost always of men: once of Christ, 2 Corinthians 13:3; once of the Law, personified, Romans 3:9.

    In time past ( πάλαι )

    Better, of old. The time of the Old Testament revelation. It indicates a revelation, not only given, but completed in the past.

    Unto the fathers ( τοῖς πατράσιν )

    Thus absolutely, John 7:22; Romans 9:5; Romans 15:8. More commonly with your or our.

    By the prophets ( ἐν τοῖς προφήταις )

    Rend. “in the prophets,” which does not mean in the collection of prophetic writings, as John 6:45; Acts 13:40, but rather in the prophets themselves as the vessels of divine inspiration. God spake in them and from them. Thus Philo; “The prophet is an interpreter, echoing from within ( ἔνδοθεν ) the sayings of God” (De Praemiis et Poenis, § 9)


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    Bibliography
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/hebrews-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

    God, who at sundry times — The creation was revealed in the time of Adam; the last judgment, in the time of Enoch: and so at various times, and in various degrees, more explicit knowledge was given.

    In divers manners — In visions, in dreams, and by revelations of various kinds. Both these are opposed to the one entire and perfect revelation which he has made to us by Jesus Christ. The very number of the prophets showed that they prophesied only "in part." Of old - There were no prophets for a large tract of time before Christ came, that the great Prophet might be the more earnestly expected.

    Spake — A part is put for the whole; implying every kind of divine communication.

    By the prophets — The mention of whom is a virtual declaration that the apostle received the whole Old Testament, and was not about to advance any doctrine in contradiction to it.

    Hath in these last times — Intimating that no other revelation is to be expected.

    Spoken — All things, and in the most perfect manner.

    By his Son — Alone. The Son spake by the apostles. The majesty of the Son of God is proposed, 1. Absolutely, by the very name of Son, verse1, and by three glorious predicates,-"whom he hath appointed," "by whom he made," who "sat down;" whereby he is described from the beginning to the consummation of all things, Hebrews 1:2,32. Comparatively to angels, Hebrews 1:4. The proof of this proposition immediately follows: the name of Son being proved, Hebrews 1:5; his being "heir of all things," Hebrews 1:6-9; his making the worlds, Hebrews 1:10-12his sitting at God's right hand, Hebrews 1:13, etc.


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    Bibliography
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/hebrews-1.html. 1765.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    God formerly, etc. This beginning is for the purpose of commending the doctrine taught by Christ; for it shows that we ought not only reverently to receive it, but also to be satisfied with it alone. That we may understand this more clearly, we must observe the contrast between each of the clauses. First, the Son of God is set in opposition to the prophets; then we to the fathers; and, thirdly, the various and manifold modes of speaking which God had adopted as to the fathers, to the last revelation brought to us by Christ. But in this diversity he still sets before us but one God, that no one might think that the Law militates against the Gospel, or that the author of one is not the author of the other. That you may, therefore, understand the full import of this passage, the following arrangement shall be given, —


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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/hebrews-1.html. 1840-57.

    William Newell's Commentary on Romans and Revelation

    And here at the beginning let us bow our whole being at this word, God. God has spoken! An old Puritan preacher used to say there were just two things he desired to know: "First, Does God speak (concerning any matter)? Second, What does God say?" Atheists-fools, deny God's being. Deists deny that He has revealed Himself--that He has spoken. The great multitude of humanity ignore Him, living their little selfish earth-lives, to hear at last the fearful words, "Depart from Me." "Hear, and your soul shall live" is the constant message of Scripture. Nor is God named in Hebrews 1:1 as "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," as in Paul's epistles to the Church as such. For the subject immediately taken up in Hebrews 1 is not our salvation or blessing, but the Person and place of God's Son!

    First, the whole Old Testament revelation is compassed in simple words: Having of old time spoken unto the fathers* in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners (literally, multi-partedly and multi-manneredly). This of course refers to God's revelation of Himself in the Old Testament, especially the period following Abraham and Genesis 12 through Malachi--before the Son was sent. We remember that in these thirty-nine books of the Old Testament there are various parts or "books": history, biography, genealogy, legislation, religious ordinances, spiritual experiences, prophecy. And God spoke in various manners: sometimes by the Spirit directly upon His servants; sometimes through angels, or even in theophanies (appearances of God Himself as the Angel of Jehovah, as to Abraham in Genesis 18); sometimes by conferred Divine wisdom, as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; sometimes through putting His words in the mouth of His prophets; and sometimes through prophetic visions or dreams of the night.

    * (In reading Hebrews, Gentile believers naturally and correctly, though unconsciously, assume that "the fathers" belong to them. For a Gentile believer is told that "Abraham is the father of us all," that is, of all true believers: "If ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." (Rom. 4:16, Gal. 3:29).

    * It will not do at all to view the writer of Hebrews as building up that which God has destroyed, as regards the present standing of national Israel in His sight. We repeat over and over that today Israel is Lo-ammi--"not God's people" (Hos. 1:9); that the Kingdom of God has been "taken away" from that nation (Matt. 21:43); that nation having crucified their Messiah, their Messianic promises and hopes were deferred to a remnant at the Lord's return. Meanwhile, God had raised up Christ His Son, and set Him at His own right hand, in a priesthood compared to which Moses and Levi and Aaron were but "shadows." National Israel was left behind at the Cross--as were indeed all men! The Cross was the end of man; God was manifest in the flesh and they spat in His face and crucified Him.)


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    Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/hebrews-1.html. 1938.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

    Ver. 1. God who at sundry times, &c.] See my True Treasure.

    God who in times past, &c.] The Hebrews had generally a lighter esteem (though without cause) of the prophets than of the law; and of such of the hooks of Holy Scripture as had not the names of God or Lord in them (as Esther, Canticles, &c.) than of those that had. Our apostle, for more authority’ sake, begins his Epistle with that nomen maiestativum (Tertul.), that holy and reverend name of God, so precious and pleasant to Hebrew ears; and wades at first into that Profundum sine fundo that bottomless depth of divinity: prefixing θεος, θεος (as Pausanias testifieth that the ancients even among the heathens were wont to do, in all their sacred writings), the name of God, for a preface, captandi gratia ominis boni, in token and hope of better speed and success.


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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hebrews-1.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    Hebrews 1:1

    The Bible as a Revelation of God.

    Two things are affirmed by this writer. First, that God spake to the Jewish nation by the prophets of the Old Testament, evidently in an especial and supernatural manner; and next, that He spake to them by a gradual revelation of the teaching, communicated to them in diversified ways.

    I. Let it be admitted that the Bible is a supernatural revelation from God: then it is as much an incarnation of the Divine Spirit as the Emmanuel was of the Divine Son—as the physical creation was of the Divine Father. If a theory of the inspiration of the Bible could be formulated, it would be an exception to every manifestation of God in the physical and in the moral world. It is one thing to understand the proof of a fact, it is another to recognise the fact that is proven. I can recognise the proofs that establish the facts that I am a living being, that the corn ripens, that the tides ebb and flow, that the needle points to the north, that an earthquake occurred yesterday; but I cannot understand what life, and tidal influence, and magnetism and electricity are. So I may understand the proofs that the Bible is a revelation from God, and that the Bible writers were inspired, without being able to understand the methods of revelation and inspiration.

    II. In looking at the Bible, two classes of phenomena have to be accounted for. (1) First, the supernatural element has to be recognised and accounted for. The proofs of the Divine element in the Bible are almost inexhaustible. Almost every week, some unsuspected but harmonious line of proof is opened out to us, proclaiming the Divine. (2) The second great characteristic of the Bible are the marks and proofs of its human authorship. I cannot resolve the humanity of the sacred writers into passive instruments of the Divine. I cannot think all the pious passion of David, all the personal avowals of Paul unreal: I cannot reduce them to the mock personages of a sacred drama, and the inspiring spirit with the simulator of human voices and feelings. Only by fully and fearlessly recognising the human element in the authorship of Scripture can we even understand it.

    H. Allon, The Indwelling Christ, p. 299.


    References: Hebrews 1:1.—Preacher's Lantern, vol. i., p. 144; F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 136; Church of England Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 183; J. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 219. Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:2.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. i., p. 60; vol. x., p. 275; A. M. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 44; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 58; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., pp. 38, 39; H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, The Life of Duty, vol. i., p. 31; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 284; D. Rhys Jenkins, Eternal Life, p. 146. Hebrews 1:1-3.—R. W. Dale, The Jewish Temple and the Christian Church, p. 11.


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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/hebrews-1.html.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Hebrews 1:1.— The design of the author of this epistle being, as we have observed, to shew the excellence of the Christian dispensation above that of the Jews in every respect; and that the Jews had no advantage in or by their law, which Christians had not in a superior measure by the law of Christ—he begins by giving an account of the dignity of the person of Christ; and intending to shew how vastly he was to be preferred to anyof those messengers from God whom they most highly valued, he here looks back to hisoriginal and divine character, which was eternally antecedent to his incarnation; and then insensibly proceeds to consider his advancement in the human nature above the angels at his resurrection, Hebrews 1:1-14.

    At sundry times, and in divers manners, The word Πολυμερως, signifies in many parts, or parcels, and refers to the parcels by which God's will was delivered, in opposition to a complete revelation: and this was done in various manners; namely, by dreams, visions, urim, prophets, voices, signs.


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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/hebrews-1.html. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Our apostle intending here a comparison between the law and the gospel, shews first wherein they both agree, and next wherein they differ.

    They agree (first) in this, that God was the author of them both: Both law and gospel received their original from God himself; and God the Father, by way of eminency, was the peculiar author both of law and gospel. God, that God, who spake in times past by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.

    Observe 2. The difference between the law and gospel, with respect to the manner of their revelation. The revelation of the will of God under the law was,

    1. At sundry times: before the flood, by Enoch and Noah; after the flood, by Abraham, by Jacob, by Moses, and all the prophets.

    2. In diverse manners; sometimes by a lively voice, sometimes by dreams and visions, sometimes by inspiration and immediate revelation, sometimes by Urim and Thummim, sometimes by signs from heaven.

    3. The revelation of the law was made of old, formerly, in times past; this of the gospel was made in these last days.

    4. That was made to the fathers, this to us.

    5. That revelation was made by the prophets, this by the Son, Jesus Christ.

    From the whole, learn, 1. That Almighty God did not leave the world only to the light of nature, and to know him barely valuable blessing of supernatural revelation, thereby to bring mankind to the clearer knowledge of their duty.

    Learn, 2. That the revelation which God was pleased to make of himself, his mind, and will, was gradual, and by part, not all at one time, and in one manner, but at sundry times, and in divers manners.

    Learn, 3. That the gospel dispensation is the mast perfect revelation of the will of God, which God ever did, of ever will make to the sons of men.

    Learn, 4. That as it is a perfect, so likewise a final revelation of God's mind and will to a lost world: A farther discovery of the mind of God for man's salvation is not to be expected: The gospel is the last effort which the divine mercy and goodness will make upon mankind, in order to eternal happiness; herein God has spoken to us by his Son: and, if we will not hear him, he will speak no more, we must expect no other: he can send no greater prophet, no dearer person to us than his own Son; and as he can send no greater, so will he send no other: for if we despise him, whom will we reverence? Now, the dignity of this person, our apostle proceeds in this and the next verses to describe:

    The title of heir, which is here given to Christ, setteth out his dignity and dominion, together with the right he has to both: namely, that of his sonship; for what is an heir but his father's successor; Christ, as a Son, being heir of all things, imports, that he is lord of all, and has a sovereign empire and dominion over all persons and things, over all angels and men, whether living or dead.

    Learn hence, That God the Father has given and granted unto Christ his Son, and Mediatior and Head of his church, a sovereign power and authority over all persons and things, both in heaven and in earth, to be disposed of by him at his pleasure and according to the sovereign purpose of his will; whom he hath appointed heir of all things.

    By whom, not for whom, as the Socinians would suggest; the word signifies the efficient, not the final cause, according to Colossians 1:16-17 By him were all things created, and by him all things consist. And by him not as an instrument of created cause, for then as an instrument or created cause, for then must he be created by himself, seeing all things were made by him, and nothing made without him, John 1:3. But as the principal efficient cause, according to John 5:19.

    Whatsoever the Father doeth, that doeth also the Son likewise. The Father doth all by the Son, and the Son doth all from the Father. And by making the worlds, we are to understand his forming of the old world, not his reforming of the new: for if so, the apostles might be said to make the worlds, as well as Christ, because they had a principal hand in converting and reforming the world.

    But by the worlds here, understand the visible and material worlds, all things in heaven and earth, which were made by Christ, not as a subordinate instrument, but as a primary and principal agent; which sets forth the omnipotent power of Christ, and consequently proves him to be truly and really God.

    Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ, by making the world, and all things therein, by his own immediate power, has given a full and ample demonstration of his Divinity, or being essentially and really God.


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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/hebrews-1.html. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    1.] In many portions (for the usage of πολυμερῶς and of its cognate adj. πολυμερής, we have two passages of Maximus Tyrius, in which πολύτροπος is also conjoined with it: Dissert. xvii. 7, τῇ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ψυχῇ δύο ὀργάνων ὄντων πρὸς σύνεσιν, τοῦ μὲν ἁπλοῦ, ὃν καλοῦμεν νοῦν, τοῦ δὲ ποικίλου καὶ πολυμεροῦς καὶ πολυτρόπου, ἃς αἰσθήσεις καλοῦμεν: and ib. vii. 2, οὐθὲν δεῖ τῆς πολυμεροῦς ταύτης κ. πολυτρόπου μούσης τε καὶ ἁρμονίας: also ib. xxxix. 2, τὸ πολυμερὲς καὶ πολύφωνον τοῦ τῶν σωμάτων πολέμου, ἃς καλοῦμεν νόσους: Plut. de Virt. Mil. p. 757 D, ποικίλον τι δρᾶμα κ. πολυμερές: id. de Invid. et Odio, p. 537 D, τοῦ θεοσίτου ὁ ποιητὴς τὴν μὲν τοῦ σώματος κακίαν πολυμερῶς καὶ περιοδευμένως ἐξεμόρφωσε, τὴν δὲ τοῦ ἤθους μοχθηρίαν συντομώτατα κ. διʼ ἑνὸς ἔφρασεν. Aristotle (in Stephanus, but without a reference) has πολυμερέστατος πόντος, also De Part. Anim. iv. 7.1, τῶν ὀστρακοδέρμων οὐκ ἔστι τὸ σῶμα πολυμερές, and Plato, Tim. Locr. p. 98 D, ὕδατος στοιχεῖον πολυμερέστατον. Hesychius interprets the adj. εἰς πολλὰ μεριζόμενον; and the adverb, πολυσχεδῶς. Hence we may gather the meaning to be ‘in many portions,’ or ‘parts,’ manifoldly as regards the distribution. “Non enim omnia, nec eadem, omnibus prophetis revelata sunt, sed quasi partibus mysteriorum distributis: alia aliis inspirata. Exempli caussa; Jesaiæ, partus virginis et passio Christi: Danieli, tempus adventus ejus: Jonæ, ejusdem sepultura: Malachiæ, adventus præcursoris. Ac rursum aliis plura, aliis pauciora.” Estius. πολυμερῶς says Thdrt., τὰς παντοδαπὰς οἰκονομίας σημαίνει. So that “at sundry times” is not an accurate rendering: nor can it be said as by the schol. in ms. 113, cited by Bleek ( τὸ πολυμερῶς τὸ διάφορον τῶν καιρῶν αἰνίττεται, καθʼ οὓς ἕκαστός τις τῶν προφητῶν μερικήν τινα ἐνεχειρίζετο οἰκονομίαν), Calvin, Bleek, Lünemann, al., to express the meaning: time is a historical condition of the sequence of parts,—persons to whom, an anthropological condition,—but it does not follow that ‘at sundry times,’ or ‘to sundry persons,’ gives the force of ‘in divers parts:’ because it might be the same thing which was revealed again and again. This revelation in portions, by fragments, in and by various persons, was necessarily an imperfect revelation, to which the one final manifestation in and by One Person is properly and logically opposed, without any ἐφάπαξ or ἁπλῶς as Tholuck seems to desiderate in the apodosis) and in divers manners ( ἄλλως γὰρ ὤφθη τῷ ἀβραάμ, κ. ἄλλως τῷ ΄ωυσῇ, κ. ἑτέρως ἡλίᾳ, κ. ἄλλως τῷ ΄ιχαίᾳ. καὶ ἡσαΐας δὲ κ. δανιὴλ κ. ἰεζεκιὴλ διάφορα ἐθεάσαντο σχήματα. Thdrt. Bleek remarks that in Numbers 12:6-8, the diversity of manner of revelation is recognized: dreams and visions being set beneath that open speaking, mouth to mouth, which the Lord used towards His servant Moses. Wetst. cites a remarkable parallel from Eustathius, where, speaking of Odysseus, he says, πολυτρόπως ἀνεγνωρίσθη πᾶσιν οῖς ἦλθεν εἱς γνῶσιν, μηδενὸς αναγνωρισμοῦ συμπεσόντος ἑτέρῳ ἀναγνωρισμῷ τὸ σύνολον· ἄλλως γὰρ τῷ τηλεμάχῳ, ἑτέρως τῇ εὐρυκλείᾳ, ἑτέρως τοῖς δούλοις, ἄλλον δὲ τρόπον τῷ λαέρτῃ, καὶ ὅλως ἀνομοίως ἅπασι. See also ref. It will be seen, that I cannot agree with Chrys. and many others in regarding the two adverbs as a mere rhetorical redundance— τουτέστι διαφόρως. Both set forth the imperfection of the O. T. revelations. They were various in nature and in form: fragments of the whole truth, presented in manifold forms, in shifting hues of separated colour: Christ is the full revelation of God, Himself the pure light, uniting in His one Person the whole spectrum: see below on ἀπαύγασμα.

    Kypke, Bleek, and others, have pointed out the mistake of Lambert Bos (Observ. Misc. p. 109), who imagined, from the passage of Max. Tyr. Diss. vii. 2, cited above, that these words were originally applied to music) in time past (generally interpreted of the O. T. period, ending with Malachi. But, as Ebrard well observes, there is no need for cutting off the period there. In the interim between Malachi and the Writer’s time, though the O. T. canon was closed, we cannot say that God’s manifold revelations of Himself had absolutely ceased. Nay, strictly speaking, the Baptist himself belonged to the former, though he pointed on to the latter period. No doubt Bleek is right in denying that he was here in the Writer’s view, and in maintaining that the period of former revelations is here regarded as distinct from the final Christian one: but for all that, we must not put an artificial terminus where he puts none) God having spoken (see the usage of λαλεῖν in this sense in reff. and Bleek, p. 12) to the fathers (see usage in reff. It is evident from this term being common to the Writer and his readers, where no reference is made to Jews in the context (as in Romans 9:5 al.), that he was writing as a Jew and to Jews.

    οἱ πατέρες, “qui in carne et in fide nos genuere.” Ps.-Anselm) in (not = διὰ, though it includes it. The readers of Vol. III. of this work need hardly be reminded that such a rendering of ἐν has never been acquiesced in by me. Nor can I concede to any number of Commentators that, as Primasius here,—“Præpositio pro alia præpositione sæpe accipitur, sicut in multis locis epistolæ invenitur his præpositionibus indifferenter uti.” Nor again must we bring in the convenient solution of Hellenism, when we find the same usage in Greek classical writers, and the same inadequacy of explanation of it. In such expressions as λαλεῖν ἐν, viewed irrespectively of the idea of Beza, “Deum quasi prophetis ipsis insidere,” the ἐν designates the element in which the λαλεῖν takes place, and holds therefore its own proper force. That we may be sometimes compelled by English idiom to render it ‘by,’ is possible, though I do not at present recall any instance: certainly such an one does not occur here, where the contrast is much weakened by making it instrumental, instead of conditional. It may be well to state, that this merging of the proper force of prepositions is not confined to those who deal with Greek as a dead language. Chrys. here says, ἐν υἱῷ, διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ φησι.… ὁρᾷς ὅτι καὶ τὸ ἐν, διά ἐστι: similarly Œc., Thl., Primasius (above), and in modern times Luther, Calvin, Grot., al., Reiche, Thol., Ebrard, Delitzsch, al. On the other hand, Thos. Aquinas (in Bl.: “Quod prophetæ non ipsi loquuti sunt ex se, sed Deus loquutus est in eis”), Beza (see above), Gerhard, Calov., Seb.-Schmidt, Owen, Wolf, Bengel (“Ergo Deus ipse erat in prophetis: tum maxime in Filio. Rex mortalis loquitur per legatum: non tamen in legato”), Uhland, Bleek, De W., Lunemann, al. Erasm.-Schmid, al. take ἐν προφήταις to mean, “in the prophetic writings:” but for this there seems no ground, and thus the antithesis would be marred.

    The sense contended for above agrees with the expressions of Philo, e. g. De Præm. et Pœn. § 9, vol. ii. p. 417, ἑρμηνεὺς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης, ἔνδοθεν ὑπηχοῦντος τὰ λεκτέα τοῦ θεοῦ. See also De Monarch. i. 9, pp. 221 f.: De Spec. Leg. § 8, p. 343: Quis Rer. Div. Hær. § 53, vol. i. p. 511: all these are cited in Bl.) the prophets (to be taken here apparently in the wider sense,—as including not only those whose inspired writings form the O. T. canon, but all who were vehicles of the divine self-manifestation to the fathers. Thus Enoch in Jude 1:14 is said προφητεῦσαι. Moses is of course included, and indeed would on any view be the chief of those here spoken of, seeing that by him the greater part of God’s revelation of Himself to the fathers was made),—at the end of these days (see var. read. In order to understand this expression, it will be well to call to mind certain Jewish modes of speaking of time. The Rabbis divided the whole of time into הָעוֹלָם הַוֶּה, αἰὼν οὗτος, and הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, αἰὼν ἐρχόμενος, or μέλλων . There has been much learned dispute as to the exact limits of these two:—whether the days of the Messiah, יְמַוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ, were counted in the former or in the latter. Bleek, aft. Witsius, Rhenferd, and Schöttg., has given Rabbinical passages favouring both views. A safe inference from the whole seems to be, that the days of the Messiah were regarded as a period of transition from the former to the latter,—His appearance, as the ushering in of the termination of αἱ ἡμέραι αὗται, the beginning of the end,—and His second coming in glory as the συντέλεια τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων or τοῦ αἰῶνος ( τούτου). And with this, N. T. usage agrees,—see ref. 1 Pet., also James 5:3; Jude 1:18; 2 Peter 3:3. Thus ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμ τούτων would mean, ‘at the end of this age,’ in the technical sense of these words as signifying the whole world-period, the ‘terminus ad quem’ of which is the general Resurrection. And thus is the manifestation of Christ in the flesh ever spoken of, and especially in this Epistle: cf. ch. Hebrews 9:26; and notes on ch. Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 6:5. See, on the whole, Bleek’s note; and Stuart’s, who however has mistaken the meaning, in rendering “during the last dispensation,” and making τούτων to import that the period had already begun. It is not of a beginning, but of an expiring period, the Writer is speaking.

    The ancient expositors principally use these words as ground of consolationἐν τούτῳ αὐτοὺς διανίστησι λέγων ὅτι ἡ συντέλεια ἐγγύς. ὁ γὰρ ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι καταμαλακισθείς, ἐπειδὰν ἀκούσῃ τοῦ ἀγῶνος τὸ τέλος, ἀναπνεῖ μικρόν. Thl. aft. Chr.) spake (not “hath spoken:” the ἔσχατον is looked back on as a definite point, at which the divine revelation took place. The attention of the readers is thus directed not so much to the present state in which they are, as to the act of God towards them. Thus, as almost always, the distinction between the aor. and perfect is important) unto us (i. e. all who have heard that voice, or to whom it is to be announced. There is no distinction between those who received God’s revelation immediately from the Son, and those who received it mediately through others. To this latter number belonged the Writer himself, cf. ch. Hebrews 2:3) in (see above) his Son ( υἱῷ without the art. is to be noted, and has been variously explained. The omission would not at any time surprise us after a preposition; but here after ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, we should expect, as an antithesis, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ. Hence we must seek a reason beyond that usual idiomatic omission. Emphatic position will often dispense with the art.: and this may be alleged here. But even thus we do not get at the final cause. If the position of υἱῷ, whenever anarthrous, is emphatic to this extent, it must be for some reason still latent. Some have suggested official denomination, making υἱός into a quasi-proper name. But this again is only an introduction to the final reason. Why is such an anarthrous name here used, as designating our Lord? And thus we come to the word itself, as we must do in all such cases, for our account of the idiom. And that account here seems to be found in the peculiar and exclusive character of that relation to God, which υἱός expresses. We may say, that Jesus is ‘the Son of God:’ by this is definitely enough expressed the fact, and the distinction from other sons of God implied: but we may also say that He is ‘Son of God:’ and we thus give the predicate all fulness of meaning and prominence, and even more emphatically and definitely express the exclusive character of His Sonship. And by this anarthrous appellation does the Writer frequently speak of Him: e. g. ch. Hebrews 7:28, ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν κ. τ. λ.… ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον, υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον: see also Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:8. Nor is the usage confined to him: cf. John 10:36; John 19:7, and in the case of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, John 5:27. So far is this or any other usage of the art. from being “arbitrary,” as Stuart here maintains. I will quote his sentence for a caution to tiros: “After all the rules which have been laid down respecting the insertion or omission of the article in Greek, and all the theories which have been advanced, he who investigates for himself, and is guided only by facts, will find not a little that is arbitrary in the actual use of it. The cases are certainly very numerous, where Greek writers insert or reject it at pleasure.” The direct contrary of this assertion is the fact, and cannot be too much impressed on every Greek Testament student. The rules respecting the art. are rigid, and are constantly observed; and there is no case of its omission or insertion in which there was not a distinct reason in the mind of the Writer,—usually, but not always, discernible by the patient and accurate scholar among ourselves. In this particular case our language, though it allows the predicate in the nominative, ‘Son of God,’ to be used anarthrously, does not allow it to be so used with a preposition, nor in the objective case: so that we are here obliged to take refuge in the nearly equivalent, though not so accurate ‘in His Son.’ To render it ‘in a Son’ would be directly to contravene the logical account of the anarthrousness of the predicate. We might periphrase, ‘in Him who was Son of God.’ We now pass off into a description of the dignity, and person, and work, of this Son of God: which description ends in asserting and proving Him to be higher than angels, the loftiest of created beings),


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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-1.html. 1863-1878.

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

    Hebrews 1:1. πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως κ. τ. λ.] After God had spoken oftentimes and in manifold ways of old time to the fathers in the prophets. The twofold expression πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως (comp. Maximus Tyrius, Dissert. vii. 2, xvii. 7) is by no means merely rhetorical amplification of one and the same idea (Chrysostom: τουτέστι διαφόρως, Michaelis, Abresch, Dindorf, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Reiche, Tholuck,(28) and others). τὸ πολυμερές is that which is divided into many parts ( τὸ εἰς πολλὰ μεριζόμενον, Hesychius). πολυμερῶς therefore presents the λαλεῖν of former ages from the point of view of something which was accomplished in a multiplicity of successive acts, whereas πολυτρόπως brings out the manifold character of the modality in which, in connection with those acts, the λαλεῖν was accomplished. Common thus to both expressions is, indeed, the notion of changeful diversity; but the former marks the changeful diversity of the times in which, and the persons through whom, God revealed Himself; the latter, the changeful diversity of the divine revelations as regards contents and form. For not only was the substance and extent of the single revelations disproportioned, but also the modes of their communication varied, inasmuch as God spoke to the recipients of His revelations sometimes by means of visions and dreams, sometimes mouth to mouth (comp. Numbers 12:6 ff.), sometimes immediately, sometimes by the intervention of an angel, sometimes under the veil of symbols and types, sometimes without these.(29) By the very choice of πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως our author indicates the imperfection of the O. T. revelations. No single one of them contained the full truth, for otherwise there would have been no need of a succession of many revelations, of which the one supplemented the other. And just so was the continual change in the modes of communicating these revelations a sign of imperfection, inasmuch as only a perfect form of communication corresponds to the perfect truth.

    As, moreover, on the one hand, by means of the adverbs the imperfection of the O. T. revelation is indicated in contrast with the perfection of the N. T. revelation; so, on the other hand, by means of the identity of the subject θεός in λαλήσας and ἐλάλησεν, the inner connection between the revelations of the O. T. and that of the N. T. is brought into relief, and in this way attention is tacitly drawn to the fact that the former was the divinely appointed preliminary stage and preparation for the latter.

    πάλαι] of old, in long bygone times. For Malachi was looked upon as the last of the O. T. prophets, and since his appearing already from four to five centuries had elapsed. Delitzsch: πάλαι is not so much antiquitus as antehac, since the contrast is not between ancient and recent or new, but between past and present. Wrongly; for the opposition of a “prius” and “post” has certainly been already expressed by λαλήσας and ἐλάλησεν, whereas πάλαι still finds its special, and indeed very significant opposition in ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, and must accordingly be explained after the analogy of this.

    λαλεῖν] particularly in our epistle of very frequent use, to indicate divine revelations. Comp. Hebrews 2:2-3, Hebrews 3:5, Hebrews 7:14, Hebrews 9:19, Hebrews 11:18, Hebrews 12:24-25.

    τοῖς πατράσιν] to the fathers (forced, and needlessly; Kurtz: τοῖς πατράσιν, and equally so afterwards ἡμῖν, is dativus commodi), i.e. to the forefathers of the Jewish people. Comp. Romans 9:5. The expression in its absolute use characterizes author and recipients as born Jews.

    προφῆται] is to be taken in the widest sense, in such wise that all holy men of the O. T. history who received revelations from God are comprehended under it. For unquestionably the aim of the discussion now begun, that of expressing the pre-eminence of the revelation contained in Christ over each and all of the O. T. revelations, demands this. But thus must Moses also, and very specially, be reckoned as belonging to the προφῆται, since Moses held the first rank in the series of development of the pre-Christian revelations; as, accordingly, Hebrews 3:2 ff., the superiority of Christ even over Moses is expressly asserted. Nor does the wider acceptation of προφῆται encounter any difficulties on the ground of Biblical usage. Comp. e.g. Genesis 20:7, where Abraham is spoken of as a προφήτης ( נָבִיא ); Deuteronomy 34:10, where it is said of Moses: καὶ οὐκ ἀνέστη ἔτι προφήτης ἐν ἰσραὴλ ὡς ΄ωϋσῆς. Philo, too (de nom. mut. p. 1064 A, ed. Mangey, I. p. 597), calls Moses the ἀρχιπροφήτης.

    By virtue of this wider acceptation of προφῆται in itself, the opinion of Er. Schmid and Stein, that ἐν τοῖς προφήταις signifies: “in the prophetic Scriptures,” becomes an impossibility; quite apart from the consideration that this interpretation is also sufficiently refuted by the antithesis ἐν υἱῷ. But just as little is ἐν τοῖς προφήταις to be made equivalent to διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, as is done by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Luther, Calvin, Grotius, and the majority, also Böhme, Reiche, Tholuck, Stengel, Ebrard, Bisping, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Maier, and M‘Caul. For the linguistic character of the Epistle to the Hebrews affords no warrant for the supposition of such a Hebraism in the interchange of prepositions. Nor is this proved by Hebrews 9:25, to which Tholuck appeals in following the precedent of Fritzsche (Jen. Literaturzeit. 1843, p. 59). ἐν is of more extensive significance than διά. While the latter would signify the mere medium, the mere instrument, ἐν implies that God, in revealing Himself to the fathers by the prophets, was present in the latter, was indwelling in them, in such wise that the prophets were only the outward organs of speech for the God who spoke in them. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:3; Matthew 10:20.

    ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡ΄ερῶν τούτων] Antithesis to πάλαι. Wrongly does Delitzsch, with the approval of Meier (comp. also Schneckenburger in the Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1861, H. 3, p. 557), take τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων as apposition to ἑπʼ ἐσχάτου: “at the period’s close, which these days form,”—for which, on account of the article before ἡ΄ερῶν, the placing of ἐπὶ τοῦ ἐσχάτου would at least have been required,—while he then still more arbitrarily finds in ἔσχατον τῶν ἡ΄ερῶν “the expression indicative of one idea, equivalent to אַתֲרִית הַיָּמִים,” and makes τούτων belong logically to the whole idea! The ἡ΄έραι αὔται are identical with that which is elsewhere called αἰὼν οὔτος, in opposition to αἰὼν ΄έλλων. The demonstrative τούτων refers to the fact that these ἡ΄έραι are the period of time in which the author equally as his readers lives, and of an ἔσχατον of these ἡ΄έραι he speaks, because like all N. T. writers—the author of the Second Epistle of Peter (Hebrews 3:4 ff.) excepted—he regards the return of Christ, for the transforming of the present order of the world and the accomplishment of the Messianic kingdom, as near at hand; comp. Hebrews 10:37, Hebrews 9:26.

    ἡ΄ῖν] to us, namely, who belong to the age just mentioned, the ἔσχατον τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων. Antithesis to τοῖς πατράσιν.

    ἐν υἱῷ] anarthrous, as Hebrews 7:28; not because υἱός has acquired the nature of a nomen proprium (Böhme, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 272), but for the indication of the essential property: in one (to wit, Christ) who is not merely prophet—who is more than that, namely, Son.


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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-1.html. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    Hebrews 1:1. πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως) God spoke πολυμερῶς, in many portions. The creation was revealed in the time of Adam; the last judgment in the time of Enoch; and so from time to time knowledge was given more fully unfolded. He also spoke πολυτρόπως, in divers modes of revelation, in dreams and visions. Therefore πολυμερῶς refers to the matter, πολυτρόπως to the form. In both there is an antithesis to one total and most perfect communication of GOD to us in Jesus Christ. The very multitude of prophets shows, that they “prophesied in part;” therefore, says he, you ought not to be frightened at the novelty of Christianity.— πάλαι, in time past) For a very considerable space of time there had arisen no prophets, in order that the Son might be the more an object of expectation. [Malachi, the last of the prophets of the Old Testament, prophesied at the interval of some ages before the birth of Christ.—V. g.]— θεὸς, God) The apostle treats of GOD in this passage; of Christ, ch. Hebrews 2:3; of the Holy Ghost, ch. Hebrews 3:7.— λαλήσας, having spoken) A Synecdoche(1) for every sort of communication, as Psalms 2:5. So דבר ῥῆ΄α, a word, is used in a wide sense.— ἐν, in) [Not as Engl. Vers. by] Therefore God Himself was in the prophets, as also especially in the Son. A mortal king speaks by his ambassador, not, however, in his ambassador. If the apostle had not used the ἐν, in, with a view to what follows, in order that it might apply to the Son, he would doubtless have put διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, by the prophets. For this reason it is not inconsistent to urge the use of the ἐν, in.— ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, in the prophets) Artemonius, Part I., cap. 43, contends that Luke wrote ἐν τοῖς ἀγγέλοις; for he is of opinion, that Luke wrote this epistle, p. 98; and this opinion is not inconsistent with Clem. Alex. adumbr. on 1 Peter 5:13, where Luke is said to have translated the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, although we have proved above that it was written in Greek by Paul himself. All the copies(2) have ἐν τοῖς προφήταις; and the epistle, showing the excellence of Christ by using so many comparisons, certainly prefers Him to the prophets also, and to them all: Matthew 11:13; Matthew 12:41; John 8:53. But it prefers Him to the prophets, if not in this passage, then nowhere else; and here, indeed, it touches upon it, as it were by the way, at the very beginning, as this comparison is immediately after swallowed up by others more illustrious. In the mean time, this mention of the prophets summarily, made at the very beginning of the epistle, admirably anticipates objections, and presents a conciliatory argument; so that the apostle hereby declares, that he embraces the whole scripture of the Old Testament, and asserts nothing contrary to it. Wolfius has more on this passage.

    Moses occupies the first place among the prophets, of whom Paul afterwards speaks separately. The antithesis of the prophets and the Son is the same as in Matthew 21:34; Matthew 21:37, and the very appellation, Son, indicates His excellence above the prophets: and whatever is presently said of the angels [as to their inferiority to the Son] is intended to be understood as holding good much more of the prophets.— ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμέρων τούτων, in the last of these days) There is a similar expression in Numbers 24:14, באחרית הימים, LXX., ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν; in like manner, 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:20, and in a different sense 2 Timothy 3:1, note. The antithesis is πάλαι, in time past. The apostle intimates, that no further speaking was afterwards to be expected. This whole epistle, concerning which comp. 2 Peter 3:15, sets before us the end of all things as at hand: ch. Hebrews 2:8, Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:13; Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:37, Hebrews 11:40, Hebrews 12:23, Hebrews 13:4.— ἐλάλησεν, hath spoken) all things, in one most perfect way [as contrasted with the many ways of revealing Himself formerly].— ἡμῖν, to us) The antithesis is τοῖς πατράσιν, unto the fathers.— ἐν υἱῷ, in the Son) ἐν often denotes by, but here it has a higher meaning; comp. John 14:10. How great a prophet is the very Son of God! The name, Son, is put here by Antonomasia,(3) as equivalent to a proper name; but a proper name in Hebrew is without the article; and so in the present case the article is omitted. It is also omitted in Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:28. So בר, Psalms 2:12 . God hath spoken to us in the Son alone. The apostles were also spoken to; who themselves also are considered in the light of persons to whom the word was spoken, before that they could speak the word to others: they were ὑπηρέται τοῦ λόγου, ministers of the word; but the apostles taught nothing new after Christ, and as the Father spoke in the Son, so the Son spoke in the apostles. The Son also spoke by the prophets in the Old Testament: but in a different manner. The majesty of this Son is SET FORTH, I. Absolutely,— α) by the very name of Son, Hebrews 1:1; β) by three glorious predicates, expressed by as many finite verbs along with the pronoun who: Whom He has appointed, by Whom He made, Who sat down; and in this way His course, as it were, is described from the beginning of all things till He reached the goal, Hebrews 1:2-3. II. In comparison with the angels, Hebrews 1:4. The CONFIRMATION presently after corresponds to this proposition, and the very name of Son is presently proved at Hebrews 1:5; as also the inheritance, at Hebrews 1:6-9; the making of the worlds, Hebrews 1:10-12; the sitting on the right hand, at Hebrews 1:13-14. Let us consider them one by one.


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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-1.html. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    HEBREWS CHAPTER 1

    Hebrews 1:1-3 The essential dignity of the Son, by whom God hath

    revealed himself in these last days.

    Hebrews 1:4-14 His pre-eminence above the angels in office.

    God: the apostle designing the conviction of these Hebrews by this discourse, enters on it solemnly, that if a God can awe them, the consideration of Him should gain credit to his doctrine. The God he speaks of is to be apprehended here personally, as well as essentially; God the Father, the one admirable sovereign, immutable Being, the Author of first and second revelation: order is kept here in the subsistence of the relations, as in their works.

    Who at sundry times; polumerwv, by many parts, turns and changes of time, seasons and opportunities, and by many parcels of revelation. God's will was discovered by piecemeal, and not all at once. He vouchsafed one promise to Adam, and so gradually opened further to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, David, pointing out a Christ to come, to come of Abraham's seed in David's family: he discovered here a little, and there a little, Isaiah 28:13.

    And in divers manners; polutropwv, suitable to the manifold wisdom of God, in divers forms and manners, was his revelation to them; sometimes by sensible representations to them waking, as by angels, fire in the bush, the pillar of fire and cloud: terribly, as at Mount Sinai, Hebrews 12:18-21. Sometimes by dreams and visions, Numbers 12:6; by Urim and Thummim, by voice from the ark, by types and signs from heaven, by riddles, and dark speeches, and Levitical ceremonies; sometimes by immediate illapses on the soul, powerfully influencing it with a Divine light.

    Spake; revealed and declared infallibly his mind and will concerning the way of man's salvation, which his wisdom contrived and his will decreed.

    In time past; all that time past between Adam and Christ, about 4000 years before.

    Unto the fathers; the holy ancestors of these Hebrews, from Adam, down along the Old Testament church of God: the believers of old, such as are registered, Hebrews 11:1-40, and all like them to the times of Christ, from Genesis 3:15, to that time.

    By the prophets; all those holy men to whom and by whom God revealed his will to his church throughout the successive ages of the Old Testament day; such as were but God's servants, Hebrews 2:4, and had his will and mind by measure; who as they preached God's will were God's mouth, as they wrote it were God's scribes; as Abel, Enoch, &c. before the flood; Noah before and after; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David. &c.; to these did God infallibly declare it, and they did infallibly deliver it to the church by word and writing; God was by gracious inhabitation in them, in their hearts, tongues, and hands, 2 Peter 1:21


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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hebrews-1.html. 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    The train of thought in this opening chapter of the epistle is the following: God, who in past ages has given various partial revelations, has now made a full revelation of himself through his Son, who is the brightness of his glory, the maker and upholder of all things, and exalted above all the angels, as in name, so also in nature and office.

    At sundry times; or, in sundry parts. This marks the incompleteness of the past revelations.

    In divers manners; as by dreams, visions, voices from heaven, etc. All these are contrasted with the perfect manner of the present revelation, through God manifest in the flesh.


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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/hebrews-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    1. Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸςλαλήσας. This Epistle is unique in beginning without the author’s name (St John’s first Epistle is hardly an exception, for it was probably sent to the Churches as a treatise in elucidation of the Gospel). It is hardly possible in a translation to preserve the majesty and balance of this remarkable opening sentence of the Epistle. It must be regarded as one of the most pregnant and noble passages of Scripture. The author does not begin, as St Paul invariably does, with a greeting which is almost invariably followed by a thanksgiving; but at once, and without preface, he strikes the keynote, by stating the thesis which he intends to prove. His object is to secure his Hebrew readers against the peril of an apostasy to which they were tempted (α) by the delay of Christ’s personal return, (β) by the persecutions to which they were subjected, and (γ) by the splendid memories and exalted claims of the religion in which they had been trained. He wishes therefore not only to warn and exhort them, but also to prove that Christianity is a Covenant infinitely superior to the Covenant of Judaism, alike in its Agents and its Results. The words πόσῳ μᾶλλον (Hebrews 9:14), κρείττων διαθήκη (Hebrews 8:6), διαφορώτερον ὄνομα (Hebrews 1:4), might be regarded as the keynotes of the Epistle (comp. Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 7:19-20; Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:23, Hebrews 10:34, Hebrews 11:40, Hebrews 12:24, &c.). In many respects, it is not so much a letter as an address. Into these opening verses he has compressed a world of meaning, and has also strongly brought out the conceptions of the contrast between the Old and New Dispensations—a contrast which involves the transcendence of the latter. Literally, the sentence may be rendered, “In many portions and in many ways, God having of old spoken to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days spake to us in a Son.” It was God who spoke in both dispensations; of old and in the present epoch: to the fathers and to us; to them in the Prophets, to us in a Son; to them “in many portions” and therefore “fragmentarily,” but—as the whole Epistle is meant to shew—to us with a full and complete revelation; to them “in many ways,” “multifariously,” but to us in one way—namely by revealing Himself in human nature, and becoming “a Man with men.”

    πολυμερῶς, “in many parts.” The nearest English representative of the word is “fragmentarily,” which is not meant as a term of absolute but only of relative disparagement (τὰς παντοδαπὰς οἰκονομίας σημαίνει, Theodoret). It has never been God’s method to reveal all His relations to mankind at once. He revealed himself “in many portions.” He lifted the veil fold by fold. First came the Adamic dispensation; then the Noahic; then the Abrahamic; then the Mosaic; then that widening and deepening system of truth of which the Prophets were ministers; then the yet more advanced and elaborate scheme which dates from Ezra;—the final revelation, the “fulness” of revealed truth, came with the Gospel. Each of these systems was indeed fragmentary, and therefore (so far) imperfect, and yet it was the best possible system with reference to the end in view, which was the education of the human race in the love and knowledge of God. The first great truth which God prominently revealed was His Unity; then came the earliest germ of the Messianic hope; then came the Moral Law; then the development of Messianism and the belief in Immortality. Isaiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah and Malachi, the son of Sirach and John the Baptist, had each his several “portion” and element of truth to reveal. But all the sevenfold rays were united in the pure and perfect light when God had given us His Son. Finally, when, by the inbreathing of the Spirit, He had made us partakers of Himself, the last era of revelation had arrived. To this final revelation there can be no further addition, though it may be granted to age after age more and more fully to comprehend it. Complete in itself, it yet works as the leaven, and grows as the grain of mustard seed, and brightens and broadens as the Dawn. Yet even the Christian Revelation is itself but “a part”; “we know in part (ἐκ μέρους) and prophesy,” says St Paul, “in part.” Man, being finite, is only capable of partial knowledge.

    πολυτρόπως, “in many manners.” The “sundry” and “divers” of our A. V. are only due to the professed fondness for variety which King James’s translators regarded as a merit. The “many manners” of the older revelation were Law and Prophecy, Type and Allegory, Promise and Threatening; the diverse individuality of many of the Prophets, Seers, Warriors, Kings, who were agents of the revelation; the method of various sacrifices; the messages which came by Urim, by dreams, by waking visions, and “face to face” (see Numbers 12:6; Psalms 89:19; Hosea 12:10; 2 Peter 1:21). The mouthpiece of the revelation was now a Gentile sorcerer, now a royal sufferer, now a rough ascetic, now a polished priest, now a gatherer of sycomore fruit. Thus the separate revelations were not complete but partial; and the methods not simple but complex.

    It will be seen, then, how very far the two words (also found together in Max. Tyrius) are from being a mere rhetorical amplification of διαφόρως (Chrysostom, followed by many others). They are on the contrary of the deepest importance as containing a principle of O. T. exegesis.

    The words πολυμερῶς πολυτρόπως are of the rhythm known as the Paeon quartus (). Ancient writers are fond of elaborating their opening sentences, and the author of this Epistle naturally clothed in an impressive form a clause so full of profound and original truth. Thus St Luke begins his Gospel with an Antispastus, ἐπειδήπερ () and ends his Acts with an Epitrite, ἀκωλύτως ().

    πάλαι. Malachi the last prophet of the Old Covenant had died more than four centuries before Christ.

    ὁ θεός. In this one word, which admits the Divine origin of Mosaism, the writer makes an immense concession to the Jews. Such expressions as St Paul had need in the fervour of controversy—when for instance he spoke of “the Law” as consisting of “weak and beggarly elements”—tended to alienate the Jews by utterly shocking their prejudices; and in very early ages, as we see from the “Epistle of Barnabas,” some Christians had developed a tendency to speak of Judaism with an extreme disparagement, which culminated in the Gnostic attribution of the Old Testament to an inferior and even malignant Deity, whom they called “the Demiurge.” The author shared no such feelings. In all his sympathies he shews himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and at the very outset he speaks of the Old Dispensation as coming from God.

    λαλήσας. The verb λαλεῖν is often used, especially in this Epistle, of Divine revelations (Hebrews 2:2-3, Hebrews 3:5, Hebrews 7:14, &c.). It has none of the disparaging sense in comparison with λέγειν which it has in classical Greek.

    λαλήσαςἐλάλησεν. There is no relative in the Greek. Instead of “who … spake … hath spoken …” the force of the aorists would be better conveyed by “having spoken … spake.”

    τοῖς πατράσιν. That is to the Jews of old. The writer, a Jew in all his sympathies, leaves unnoticed throughout this Epistle the very existence of the Gentiles. As a friend and follower of St Paul he of course recognised the call of the Gentiles to equal privileges, but the demonstration of their prerogatives had already been furnished by St Paul with a force and fulness to which nothing could be added. This writer, addressing Jews, is not in any way thinking of the Gentiles. To him “the people” means exclusively “the people of God” in the old sense, namely Israel after the flesh. It is hardly conceivable that St Paul, who was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and whose writings were mainly addressed to them, and written to secure their Gospel privileges, should, even in a single letter, have so completely left them out of sight as this author does. On the other hand, the author always tries to shew his “Hebrew” readers that their conversion does not involve any sudden discontinuity from the religious history of their race.

    ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, “in the Prophets.” It is true that the ἐν (rendered “by” in the A. V.) may be only a Hebraism, representing the Hebrew בְּ in 1 Samuel 28:6; 2 Samuel 23:2. We find ἐνin” used of agents in Matthew 9:34, “In the Prince of the demons casteth He out demons,” and in Acts 17:31. But, on the other hand, the writer may have meant the preposition to be taken in its proper sense, to imply that the Prophets were only the organs of the revelation; so that it is more emphatic than διὰ, “by means of.” (Rex mortalis loquitur per legatum, non tamen in legato, Bengel.) The same thought may be in his mind as in that of Philo when he says that “the Prophet is an interpreter, while God from within whispers what he should utter.” In fact the belief that the prophets spoke in ecstasy, i.e. with a total suppression and even obliteration of their individual powers, was a view which the Alexandrian theologians borrowed from Philo, as he had done from Plato. The ἐν must not, however, be pressed to imply the writer’s acceptance of this opinion in its whole extent, for it expresses rather the Pagan than the Scripture view of the nature of prophetic inspiration. “The Prophets,” says St Thomas Aquinas, “did not speak of themselves, but God spoke in them.” Still they spoke with full human self-consciousness and unimpaired individuality, as St Paul urges on the Corinthians πνεύματα προφητῶν προφήταις ὑποτάσσεται (1 Corinthians 14:32). Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:3. The word Prophets is here taken in that larger sense which includes Abraham, Moses, &c.


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    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    CONTENTS

    God is declared in the opening of this Chapter, as speaking to the Church, by his Son. Then follows a short, but exalted Description, of the Glories of Christ's Person and Character.


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    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    1. God—The divine name is not thus placed at the beginning of this epistle in the Greek. The first words are the two Greek adverbs, rendered sundry times and divers manners, πολυμερως και πολυτροπως. Each of these Greek words begins with a pol; and Delitzsch asks whether this is accidental, or whether the epistle does thus begin intentionally, with a hint of Paul’s own name.

    Sundry times and in divers manners—More literally: In many parts and by many methods. The words describe the fragmentary character of the old revelations, in depreciatory comparison with the unity of revelation by the Son. There is no Greek word answering to times. In many parts, indicates that truth came by piecemeal through a succession of ages.

    Divers manners—Sometimes by visions and dreams, sometimes by word of mouth, by the declaration of angels, by the impulsive inspiration of prophets, by types and symbols. These were all, however, as but lamps and candles before the coming of the sun.

    In time pastπαλαι, in the olden time, anciently; including the whole period of inferior revelation before the coming of the Son.

    The fathers—The Hebrew ancestry, who heard the ancient revelations.

    By the prophets— Including the inspired mediums of either or all these methods of revelation, at whose head was Moses.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hebrews-1.html. 1874-1909.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘By many portions and in many ways, God, having of old time spoken to the fathers in the prophets.’

    God, says the writer, has spoken in the past ‘by many portions’ (polumerôs) --- ‘in many ways’ (polutropos).’ These words, which cover every aspect of Old Testament prophecy and teaching, emphasise, by their placement at the beginning of the sentence (and the letter) and by their emphasis on ‘many -- many’, the variety of God’s divine activity through the centuries, and the source from which the writer will draw in order to present his case.

    For God, he says, has not in the past left Himself without a witness. He has spoken through many prophets, in many and varied ways, so that those who came after them had a growing source of material on which to draw. It was an enterprise worthy of God. And these were the Scriptures, deeply revered by men. Yet the very size and diversity of the material could only produce its own difficulties, as men sought to interpret their message and meaning.

    But now, he writes, God has spoken in a greater and even more wonderful way, for He has spoken by sending to us One Who is, in relation to God, of the nature of Sonship, One Who is true ‘Son’, One Who is of the nature of God Himself. He is the One to Whom these Scriptures have been pointing.

    And this Son, he will stress, is the fulfilment of all of which these prophets spoke. For it is now his intention to draw from those Scriptures in order to demonstrate that Who He is, and what He came to do, sums up the whole of their message. They were but the dawning. He is the sun. No longer need men seek to wrestle with what they say, puzzling over them, seeking to draw from them hidden meanings. No longer should they look to old institutions which were preparatory but have now been replaced. For they only provided a temporary measure, as they themselves revealed by their stress on what was coming. They looked ahead to what was to be, always in some way lacking, never finding total fulfilment.

    But now here was their fulfilment in God’s true Son, Jesus Christ. The shadows had been replaced by the reality. And from now on those Scriptures must be read in that light. For He has come as the full revelation of God, the outshining of His glory, and those Scriptures therefore can no longer be read as though they stood by themselves. They must now be seen as heralds of His coming, and interpreted in those terms. They must be read in the light of Who He is. His very presence must illuminate every hidden message and explain every hidden thought, bringing to light their hidden depths and establishing that which is truly permanent.

    Indeed now that He has come there is nowhere else to look. All else is but a pale reflection of the real thing. He alone is the fulfilment of their deepest meaning. For all must recognise that God has spoken through One Who is His Son, One for Whom those very Scriptures prepared. And as such He is the One Who has fulfilled, and has thus brought to final realisation, all to which those Scriptures point. And only in Him can they now have any meaning.

    We must not, as he says this, overlook the pride that the Jews, and those who sought to their ancient Scriptures, had in those Scriptures. They saw them as containing ancient knowledge from the past which bore the stamp of God’s inspiration, and were a source of light in a dark world. They were treasured and carefully preserved and exalted to the heavens. When men were everywhere searching for truth, they were confident that here was that truth, if only one knew how to interpret it. And men had been, and still were, busy interpreting them, and were willing to die for them.

    The writer does not deny this, as he indicates here. Indeed he too honours those Scriptures, and their diversity, and their wide coverage of divine wisdom. Through them ‘God has spoken’. But his emphasis is on the fact that they point to Someone even Greater than they Who has now come. They are truly God’s inspired revelation, but in the end their purpose has been to point to One Who was to come. And now He has come they must be interpreted in that light.

    So this first verse is not intended to diminish those Scriptures in any way. Rather it is to give them due honour, as the vehicle which has prepared for the Coming One. But it is also to emphasise that a greater revelation than they are is here. In Him God’s final word to man has arrived.

    And now he will go on to draw on those Scriptures in order to explain and amplify the one final way that God has now chosen to use, the manifestation of Himself through His Son! For He alone is the full manifestation of God and has brought His unique means of salvation. As he will reveal, the whole of Old Testament prophecy, including Moses and what we see as salvation history, is now to be seen as summed up in Christ. He is the whole of which all that was before revealed was a part.

    So these words emphasise that God had built up through the centuries, in what we call ‘the Scriptures’, a multiplicity of different records, written at different times, and in various stages, and at distinct times in history, as a progressive revelation which had built up into a huge amount of different kinds and expressions of knowledge, but all pointing forward in the end to the One Who has now come, Who has summed it all up in Himself. They were God’s servants, He is ‘the Son’.

    ‘God has spoken to the fathers in the prophets.’ God, he stresses, has spoken through the prophets. He has no doubt that their words came from God. From Abraham (Genesis 20:7), through Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10), and David (Acts 2:30), and all the prophets, and on to Malachi, the prophets spoke from God to ‘the fathers’, bringing God’s word to men, to those who came before. He did not leave Himself without a witness, for through all of them God spoke in every age. The authority of the Old Testament Scriptures and of the Hebrew prophets is firmly asserted.

    Mention of ‘the fathers’ does not necessarily mean that the recipients of the letter were Jews, (it does not say ‘our fathers’) for past faithful Israel could be seen as the fathers of the whole church, not just the Jews, for the church was very much seen as the new Israel, made one with them by integration through the covenant (Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; Romans 11:16-24), a part of the growth of the olive tree. But the content of the letter confirms his readers’ close connection with Judaism.

    Indeed we should note that what came to be known as ‘Israel’ had never been limited to direct descendants of the patriarchs. It had always grown by accumulation, beginning with the servants and retainers of the patriarchs made up of a number of nationalities (Eliezer the Damascene, Hagar the Egyptian, etc.), moving on to the ‘mixed multitude’ of foreigners who had joined with them in the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:38), followed by the command that they be ready to absorb ‘foreigners’ who willingly submitted to the covenant (Exodus 12:48-49), the continual influx of foreign names into Israel (e.g. Uriah the Hittite), and the absorption of Gentile proselytes, as the witness of the dispersed Israel, with their emphasis on the one God and their high moral basis, proved attractive among the Gentiles, and so on. The Jews were in fact a ‘gathering of God’ (the congregation of Israel) made up from many nations, all outwardly true to the covenant, and their true ancestry was a complicated one, and nothing like they themselves suggested.

    ‘Having of old time.’ As often in the New Testament time is split into ‘Then’ and ‘Now’; ‘of old time’ (in the completed past) and ‘at the end of these days’ (the final push towards the end, which results in the consummation, during which God is especially working) (Hebrews 1:2). The whole of the Old Testament period is covered by these words in Hebrews 1:1, ‘God has of old time spoken to the fathers in the prophets’. He spoke in Abraham, and indeed before Abraham (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21), and on in the prophets to Malachi. Each was God’s spokesperson, God’s mouthpiece (Matthew 10:20; 2 Peter 1:21). But, he affirms, all that has been spoken and written through men of God over the past centuries, revealing truth only in part as man was able to receive it, has been preparatory to this time (compare 1 Peter 1:10-12). They have been laying the foundations for the One Who has now come.


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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/hebrews-1.html. 2013.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    Hebrews 1:1. In sonorous and dignified terms the writer abruptly makes his first great affirmation: “God having spoken … spoke”. θεὸς λαλήσαςἐλάλησεν, for, however contrasted, previous revelations proceeded from the same source and are one in design and in general character with that which is final. In the N.T. λαλεῖν is not used in a disparaging sense, but, especially in this Epistle, is used of God making known His will. See Hebrews 2:2, Hebrews 3:5, Hebrews 5:5, etc. God spoke, desired to be understood, to come into communication with men and therefore uttered Himself in intelligible forms, and succeeded, all through the past, in making Himself and His will known to men. He had not kept silence, allowing men to feel after Him if haply they might find Him. He had met the outstretched hand and guided the seeker. And this “speaking” in the past was preparatory to the final speaking in Christ; “God having spoken … spoke”. The earlier revelations were the preparation for the later but were distinguished from it in four particulars—in the time, in the recipients, in the agents, in the manner.

    πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως “in many parts and in many ways”. The alliteration is characteristic of the author, cf. Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 5:14, Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 9:10, etc. For the use of the words in Greek authors see Wetstein. πολυμερῶς points to the fragmentary character of former revelations. They were given piece-meal, bit by bit, part by part, as the people needed and were able to receive them. The revelation of God was essentially progressive; all was not disclosed at once, because all could not at once be understood. One aspect of God’s nature, one element in His purposes, reflected from the conditions of their time, the prophets could know; but in the nature of things it was impossible they should know the whole. They were like men listening to a clock striking, always getting nearer the truth but obliged to wait till the whole was heard. Man can only know in part, ἐκ μέρους, 1 Corinthians 13. [A fine illustration will be found in Browning’s Cleon, in lines beginning: “those divine men of old time have reached, thou sayest well, each at one point the outside verge,” etc.] The “speaking” of God to the fathers was conditioned by the capacity of the prophets. His speaking was also πολυτρόπως [cf. Odyss. i. 1. ανδρα μοι ἔννεπε, ΄οῦσα, f1πολύτροπον] not in one stereotyped manner but in modes varying with the message, the messenger, and those to whom the word is sent. Sometimes, therefore, God spoke by an institution, sometimes by parable, sometimes in a psalm, sometimes in an act of righteous indignation. For, as Peake says, “the author is speaking not of the forms in which God spoke to the prophets, but of the modes in which He spoke through them to the fathers. The message took the form of law or prophecy, of history or psalm; now it was given in signs, now in types.” So Hofmann. These features of previous revelations, so prominently set and expressed so grandiloquently, cannot have been meant to disparage them, rather to bring into view their affluence and pliability and many-sided application to the growing receptivity and varying needs of men. He wins his readers by suggesting the grandeur of past revelations. But it is at the same time true, as Calvin remarks, “varietatem fuisse imperfectionis notam”. So Bengel, “Ipsa prophetarum multitudo indicat, eos ex parte prophetasse”. These characteristics, while they encouragingly disclosed God’s purpose to find His way to men, did yet discredit, as inadequate for perfect achievement, each method that was tried. The contrast in the new revelation is implied in the word ἐκάθισεν, indicating that the work was once for all accomplished.

    The next note of previous revelations is found in πάλαι “of old,” not merely “in time past” as A.V.; marking the time referred to in λαλήσας as contrasted with the writer’s present, and gently suggesting that other methods of speaking might now be appropriate. Already in 2 Corinthians 3:14 the Mosaic covenant is spoken of as παλαιὰ διαθήκη cf. Hebrews 8:13. Here πάλαι is contrasted with ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, “at the last of these days,” [“Aufs Ende dieser Tage,” Weizsâcker], i.e., in the Messianic time at the close of the period known to the Jews as “this present time or age”. The expression is used in the LXX indifferently with ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τ. ἡμερῶν or ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις to translate בְאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים (see Isaiah 2:2 Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14), which was used to denote either the future indefinitely or the Messianic period, “the latter days” in which all prophecy was to find its fulfilment. Bleek quotes Kimchi as saying: “Ubicunque leguntur ‘Beaharith Hayamim’ ibi sermo est de diebus Messiae”. And Wetstein quotes R. Nachman: “Extremum dierum consensu omnium doctorum sunt Dies Messiae”. It was this Jewish usage which the N.T. writers followed in speaking of their own times as “the last days;” ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τ. χρόνου (Judges 1:18); ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τ. ἡμερῶν (2 Peter 3:3); ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τ. χρόνων (1 Peter 1:20); and in this Epistle, Hebrews 9:26, Christ is said to have appeared ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων. The first Advent as terminating the old world and introducing the Messianic reign was considered the consummation. The introduction of the word τούτων is suggested by the Jewish division of the world’s course into two periods: “This Age” (Ha-Olam Hazzeh) and The Coming Age (Ha-Olam Habbah). The end of “this age” or “these days” was signalised by the coming of the Messiah, the new revelation in Christ. More effectually than the Jews themselves expected has the Advent of the Messiah antiquated the old world and opened a new period.

    The temporal contrast is further marked by the words τοῖς πατράσιν (Hebrews 1:1) and ἡμῖν (Hebrews 1:2). Former revelations had been made to “the fathers,” i.e., of the Jewish people, as in John 7:22; Romans 9:5; Romans 15:8; 2 Peter 3:4. More frequently “our” “your” “their” is added, as in Acts 3:13; Acts 3:25; Luke 6:23. But it is idle to urge, with von Soden, the absence of the pronoun as weighing against the restriction of the term in this place to the Jewish fathers. ἡμῖν “to us” of these last days, of the Christian dispensation.

    The determining contrast between the two revelations is found in this, that in the one God spoke ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, while in the other He spoke ἐν υἱῷ. “The prophets” stand here, not for the prophetic writings as in John 6:45; Acts 13:40, etc.; but for all those who had spoken for God, and especially for that great series of men from Abraham and Moses onwards who had been the organs of revelation and were identified with it (cf. the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen). The prep. ἐν is not used in its instrumental sense (cf. Habakkuk 2:1), nor is it = διὰ, it brings God closer to the hearers of the prophetic word, and implies that what the prophets spoke, God spoke. So Hofmann and Weiss. [“Ipse in cordibus eorum dixit quicquid illi foras vel dictis vel factis locuti sunt hominibus,” Herveius.] The full significance of ἐν is seen in ἐν υἱῷ. ἐν υἱῷ without the article must be translated “in a son” or “in one who is a son,” indicating the nature of the person through whom this final revelation was made. The revelation now consisted not merely in what was said [ προφήταις] but in what He was [ υἱός]. This revelation was final because made by one who in all He is and does, reveals the Father. By uttering Himself He expresses God. A Son who can be characteristically designated a son, carries in Himself the Father’s nature and does not need to be instructed in purposes which are also and already His own, nor to be officially commissioned and empowered to do what He cannot help doing. “No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (cf. John 1:18). The whole section on “The Son of God” in Dalman’s Die Worte Jesu should be read in this connection. “Son” is here used in its Messianic reference, as the quotations cited in Hebrews 1:5-6 prove. The attributes ascribed to the Son are at the same time Divine attributes. [So Baur and Pfleiderer. Ménégoz denies this]. The writer apparently experiences no difficulty in attaching to one and the same personality the creating of the world and the dying to cleanse sin.

    The Son is described in six particulars which illustrate His supremacy and His fitness to reveal the Father: (1) His destination to universal lordship ( ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων); (2) His agency in creation ( διʼ οὗ ἐποίησεν τ. αἰῶνας); (3) His likeness to God ( ὢν ἀπαύγασμα κ. τ. λ.); (4) His relation to the world) φέρων τὰ πάντα); (5) His redemptive work ( καθαρισμὸνποιησάμενος); (6) His exaltation ( ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ κ. τ. f1λ.). Cf. Vaughan. δν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων “whom He appointed heir of all”. Davidson, Weiss and others understand this of the actual elevation of Christ, on His ascension, to the Lordship of all. [“Dass der Verfasser bei diesen Worten an den erhöhten Christus gedacht habe, halten wir für unzweifelhaft,” Riehm, p. 295]. But the position of the clause in the verse and the subsequent mention of the exaltation in Hebrews 1:3 rather indicate that ἔθηκεν has here its ordinary meaning (see Elsner and Bleek) of “appointed,” and that the reference is to Psalms 2:8 δώσω σοι ἔθνη τὴν κληρονομίαν σου κ. τ. λ., so Hofmann. Through this Son God is to accomplish His purpose. The Son is to reign over all. The writer lifts the thought of the despondent to Christ’s triumph and Lordship. In the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen Christ speaks of Himself as Heir. It is involved in the Sonship; Galatians 4:7. It is not simply possessor but possessor because of a relation to the Supreme. The Father could not be called κληρονόμος. Dalman shows that the 2nd Psalm “deduces from the filial relation of the King of Zion to God, that universal dominion, originally proper to God, is bequeathed to the Son as an inheritance,” Worte Jesu, p. 220, E. Tr. 268. Cf. also Matthew 11:27, πάντα μοι παρεδόθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου. [Chrysostom says the use of the term brings out two points τὸ τῆς υἱότητος γνήσιον, καὶ τὸ τῆς κυριότητος ἀναπόσπαστον.] The inheritance is not fully entered upon, until it can be said that “the kingdom of the world is become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” Revelation 11:15. Cf. Hebrews 2:8. But by His incarnation He came into touch with men and poured His life into human history, at once claiming and securing His great inheritance.

    διʼ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας “through whom also He made the world,” “per quem fecit et secula” (Vulg.), “durch Welchen er auch die Weltzeiten gemacht hat” (Weizsâcker). “Secula et omnia in iis decurrentia” (Bengel). Weiss thinks it quite improbable that so pure a Greek writer should use αἰῶνας in the rabbinical sense as = “world,” and he believes that the Greek interpreters are right in retaining the meaning “world-periods”. But in Hebrews 11:3 it becomes obvious that this writer could use the word as virtually = κόσμος. “The thought of duration is never wholly lost in the Scripture use of αἰών, though in this place, and in Hebrews 11:3 it is all but effaced” (Vaughan). Cf. Schoettgen and McCaul. The writer perhaps has it in his mind that the significant element in creation is not the mass or magnificence of the material spheres but the evolution of God’s purposes through the ages. The mind staggers in endeavouring to grasp the vastness of the physical universe but much more overwhelming is the thought of those times and ages and aeons through which the purpose of God is gradually unfolding, unhasting and unresting, in the boundless life He has called into being. He who is the end and aim, the heir, of all things is also their creator. The καὶ brings out the propriety of committing all things to the hand that brought them into being. The revealer is the creator, John 1:1-5. He only can guide the universe to its fit end who at first, presumably with wisdom equal to His power, brought it into being. [“Cette idée d’un être celeste chargé de réaliser la pensée créatrice de Dieu est une idée philonienne; elle a pénétré dans le Judaisme sous l’influence de la philosophie grecque” (Ménégoz). It is true that this is a Philonic idea (see numerous passages in Carpzov, Bleek, McCaul and Drummond) but we may also say with Weiss “Die philonischen Aussagen … gehören gar nicht hierher”. Certainly Philo never claimed for a definite historical person the attributes here enumerated.] For the Son’s agency in Creation see John 1:2; Colossians 1:15. Grotius’ rendering “propter Messiam conditum esse mundum” is interesting as illustrating his standpoint, but would require διʼ ὅν.


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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/hebrews-1.html. 1897-1910.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Hebrews 1:1. God, &c. — After the manner of the best writers, the apostle begins this most instructive epistle with proposing the subjects of which he is about to discourse; namely, four important facts, on which the authority of the gospel, as a revelation from God, is built; and which, if well established, should induce unbelievers, whether Jews or Gentiles, to renounce their infidelity and embrace the gospel. Of these facts, the first is, that the same God, who gave the former revelations to the fathers of the Jewish nation, hath in these last days given the gospel to all mankind. This the apostle mentions first of all, to show the agreement of the gospel with the former revelations. For if there were any real opposition between the Jewish and Christian revelations, the authority of one or of both of them would be destroyed; whereas these revelations agreeing in all things, they mutually explain and support each other. Thus in this verse; God, who at sundry times — The creation was revealed in the time of Adam; the last judgment in the time of Enoch; the coming of the Messiah in the time of Abraham, and the following patriarchs; the offices he should sustain, and the process he should go through in accomplishing man’s redemption, in the time of Moses, of David, of Isaiah, and the other prophets; and so at various times more explicit knowledge was given. But the word πολυμερως rather signifies in sundry parts, parcels, or degrees, in opposition to a complete revelation; or the gradual discovery of the mind and will of God, by communications, one after another, as the church could bear the light of them. Thus to Adam, victory over the grand enemy of mankind by the Seed of the woman, was promised: to Abraham, that all mankind should be blessed in him and his seed: to Jacob, that the promised Seed of the woman and of Abraham should be a peaceful Prince, unto whom the gathering of the people should be: by Moses, that he should be an extraordinary Prophet, the disobeying of whom would be punished with certain destruction: by David, that he should be a Priest of a higher order than that of Aaron, and a King in Zion, whose dominion should extend from sea to sea, yea, to the ends of the earth, Psalms 72:1; Psalms 72:8 : by Isaiah, that he should be the Child born, the Son given, and yet the mighty God, of the increase of whose government and peace there should be no end; that he should go through great scenes of suffering, (chap. 53.,) but should expiate sin, and conquer death: by Jeremiah, that he should be the Lord our righteousness: by Ezekiel, the one Shepherd of God’s people, Ezekiel 34:23 : by Zechariah, that he should build the spiritual temple, bear the glory, and be a Priest upon his throne; from whence, according to Joel, he should pour out his Spirit in an extraordinary measure upon his disciples: by Haggai and Malachi, that he should come to the temple, built after the return from Babylon, and that awful judgments should follow his coming upon such as rejected him. If (says Dr. Owen) we consider the whole progress of divine revelation from the beginning of the world, we shall find that it comprehends four principal parts or degrees, with such as were subservient to them. The first, made to Adam, was the principle of faith and obedience to the antediluvian fathers, and to this were subservient all the consequent particular revelations before the flood. The second, to Noah after the flood, contained the renewal of the covenant, and establishment of the church in his family, whereunto were subservient the revelations made to Melchizedec (Genesis 14:19) and others, before the calling of Abraham. The third, to Abraham, implied a peculiar restriction of the promise to his seed, and a fuller illustration of the nature of it confirmed in the revelations made to Isaac, Jacob, and others of their posterity. The fourth, to Moses, comprehended the giving of the law, and erection of the Jewish Church in the wilderness; to which was principally subservient the revelation made to David, which was peculiarly designed to perfect the Old Testament worship. To which we may add the revelations made to Solomon, and the prophets in their respective days; particularly those who, before and during the captivity, pleaded with the people about their defection by scandalous sins and false worship: and Ezra, with the prophets that assisted in the reformation of the church after its return from Babylon, who in an eminent manner excited the people to expect the Messiah. These were the principal parts and degrees of divine revelation, from the foundation of the world to the coming of Christ, at least until his forerunner, John the Baptist. And by thus reminding the Hebrews, that the will of God was not formerly revealed to his church all at once, by Moses or any other, but by several parts and degrees, by new additions of light, as in his infinite wisdom he saw meet, the apostle clearly convinces them of their mistake in obstinately adhering to the Mosaic institutions. It is as if he had said, Consider the way whereby God revealed his will to the church hitherto. Hath it not been by parts and degrees? Hath he at any time shut up the progress of revelation? Hath he not always kept the church in expectation of new discoveries of his will? Did he ever declare that he would add no more to what he had commanded; or make no alteration in what he had instituted? So far from it, that Moses, when he had finished all his work in the Lord’s house, told the people God would raise up another prophet like unto him, that is, who should reveal new laws and institutions as he had done, whom they were to hear and obey on the penalty of utter extermination, Deuteronomy 18:15, &c. But in opposition to this gradual revelation, the apostle intimates that now, by Jesus the Messiah, the Lord had begun and finished the whole revelation of his will, according to their own hopes and expectations.

    And in divers manners — By dreams, visions, audible voices, the appearances of angels, of the Lord in a human form, by Urim and Thummim, and the immediate inspiration of his Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 1:11. Or, the expression, divers manners, may refer to the different ways in which the prophets communicated the different revelations which they received to the fathers. They did it in types and figures, significant actions, and dark sayings, as well as in plain language: whereas the gospel revelation was spoken by Christ and his apostles in one manner only, namely, in plain language; and to this one entire and perfect revelation the various, partial, imperfect revelations made before are opposed. Spake in time past παλαι, of old, or anciently. The word, taken absolutely, comprises the whole space of time from the giving of the first promise to the end of the Old Testament revelations. Taken as relating to the Jews, it includes the ages intervening between the giving of the law and the death of the last prophet, Malachi, namely, the space of twenty-one jubilees, or near one thousand one hundred years, after which, as the Jews confess, the Spirit of prophecy was taken from Israel. The word spake is put for every kind of divine communication: unto the fathers — The ancestors of the Jewish nation; by the prophets — The mention of whom is a virtual declaration that the apostle received the whole Old Testament as of divine authority, and was not about to advance any doctrine in contradiction to it. Indeed, as he was writing to the Hebrews, many of whom were prejudiced against him as a person who departed from Moses and the prophets, it was an instance of great wisdom in him to signify, at the very beginning of his epistle, that he believed the revelations given by them of old. Thus, by removing one great cause of prejudice from those to whom he wrote, he would open the way for their receiving the doctrines contained in his epistle, a summary of which we have in the two next verses.


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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hebrews-1.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    ===============================

    [BIBLIOGRAPHY]

    Multifariam, Greek: polumeros; which signifies, that God revealed the coming of his Son as it were by parts and parcels, or by degrees, first revealing some things and then others.

    ===============================

    [BIBLIOGRAPHY]

    Novissime, Greek: ep echatou, which reading Dr. Wells prefers before that in the ordinary Greek copies, which have Greek: ep echaton ton emeron, followed by the Protestant translation and Mr. N.


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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/hebrews-1.html. 1859.

    Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

    God Has Spoken to the Fathers

    The writer was so full of his subject that he did not take the time to extend the usual greetings or identify himself. Rather, he launched into a sentence four verses long. In that sentence, he completely previews the letter"s subject matter. His purpose is to demonstrate the absolute superiority of Christ and His church.

    The key part of verses one and two is a simple statement, "God has spoken." God spoke in several ways in the Old Testament. He spoke out of a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6); in dreams (Genesis 40:8; Daniel 2:19-23); and in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), to name but a few. The writer says God spoke to the Jewish forefathers through His spokesmen, the prophets. They were simply proclaimers of divine truth both spoken and written. Several passages make it clear they spoke with divine authority (Exodus 4:12; Jeremiah 1:7-9; Matthew 22:31-32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

    God revealed His will a portion at a time, or at various times. He also revealed it in many ways. Close examination of the Old Testament will reveal that God truly unveiled His scheme for man"s redemption one part at a time. Perhaps this was done to give man time to understand the things being revealed.


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    Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/hebrews-1.html. 2014.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    God. App-98.

    at sundry times = in many portions. Greek. polumeros. Only here.

    in divers manners = in many ways. Greek. polutropos. Only here.

    spake. Greek. laleo. App-121.

    in time past = of old. Greek. palai. Elsewhere, Matthew 11:21. Mark 15:44. Luke 10:13. 2 Peter 1:9. Jude 1:4.

    unto = to.

    by = in. Greek. en. App-104.

    prophets. App-189.


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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/hebrews-1.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

    Paul, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those addressed (Hebrews 13:19 : see 'Introduction'). In the Pauline method the statement of subject and the division are put before the discussion; at the close, the practical follows the doctrinal portion. The ardour of spirit, as in 1 John, bursting at once into the subject, without prefatory inscription of name and greeting, more effectively strikes the hearers. The date must have been before the temple's destruction, 70 AD some time before the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this letter of Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16) when many of the first hearers of the Lord were dead.

    At sundry times , [ polumeroos (Greek #4181)] - 'in many portions.' All was not revealed to each prophet: one received one portion of revelation, another another. To Noah, the quarter of the world to which Messiah should belong was revealed; to Abraham, the nation; to Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the family; to Micah, the town; to Daniel, the exact time; to Malachi, the coming of His forerunner; through Jonah, His burial and resurrection, etc. Each only knew in part; Messiah combined and realized all (1 Corinthians 13:12).

    In divers manners - e.g., internal suggestion, audible voices, Urim and Thummim, dreams, etc. 'In one way He was seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in another by Elias, in another by Micah, Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel' (Theodoret) (cf. Numbers 12:6-8). The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, manifold in form: the very multitude of prophets shows they prophesied only in part. In Christ the revelation of God is not in separated colours: He, the pure light, unites in His one person the whole spectrum (Hebrews 1:3).

    Spake - the expression usual for a Jew in addressing Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing for Jews, quotes, not by the formula. "It is written," but "said," etc.

    In time past. From Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet, for 400 years, there had arisen no prophet, that the Son might be the more an object of expectation (Bengel). As God (the Father) is introduced as having spoken here, so God the Son, Hebrews 2:3; God the Holy Spirit, Hebrews 3:7.

    The fathers - the Jews of former days (1 Corinthians 10:1).

    By - Greek, 'IN.' A mortal king speaks by, the King of kings IN, His ambassador. The Son is the last and highest manifestation of God (Matthew 21:34; Matthew 21:37): not merely a measure, as in the prophets, but the fullness of the Spirit of God dwelt in Him bodily (John 1:16; John 3:34; Colossians 2:9). If the Jews boast of their prophets, Jesus is the end of all prophecy (Revelation 19:10), and of the law (John 1:17; John 5:46).


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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/hebrews-1.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (1) God, who at sundry times. . . .—The fine arrangement of the words in the Authorised version fails, it must be confessed, to convey the emphasis which is designed in the original. The writer’s object is to place the former revelation over against that which has now been given; and the remarkable words with which the chapter opens (and which might not inaptly serve as the motto of the whole Epistle) strike the first note of contrast. If we may imitate the artistic arrangement of the Greek, the verse will run thus, “In many portions and in many ways God having of old spoken unto the fathers in the prophets.” To the fathers of the Jewish people (comp. Romans 9:5) God’s word was given part by part, and in divers manners. It came in the revelations of the patriarchal age, in the successive portions of Holy Writ: various truths were successively unveiled through the varying ministry of law, and of prophecy, and of promise ever growing clearer through the teaching of experience and history. At one time the word came in direct precept, at another in typical ordinance or act, at another in parable or psalm. The word thus dealt out in fragments and variously imparted was God’s word, for the revealing Spirit of God was “in the prophets” (2 Corinthians 13:3). We must not unduly limit the application of “prophet”; besides those to whom the name is directly given, there were many who were representatives of God to His people, and interpreters of His will. (Comp. Numbers 11:26; Numbers 11:29; Psalms 105:15.)


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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/hebrews-1.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    at
    Genesis 3:15; 6:3,13-22; 8:15-19; 9:1-17; 12:1-3; 26:2-5; 28:12-15; Genesis 32:24-30; 46:2-4; Exodus 3:1-22; Luke 24:27,44; Acts 28:23; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20,21
    in
    Numbers 12:6-8; Joel 2:28
    the fathers
    Luke 1:55,72; John 7:22; Acts 13:32

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/hebrews-1.html.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    In the past God spoke. God did not disclose his will to the ancients all at once, but in "bits and pieces," With only a few exceptions (such as Melchizedek, Balaam, and Job), God spoke only to the prophets of the Jewish Nation. One part of God's will was to be learned from one prophet, another part would come through a different one. Over 1,500 years passed, from Moses to Christ. The Old Testament was not complete until the last word of Malachi was written.


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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/hebrews-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

    E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

    General remarks, Much has been said on the subject of whether Paul, or some other person, is the author of this book. I shall offer a few statements in"view of the importance of the question due to the general agitation. I believe Paul is the author because it has the same logical form of reasoning shown in his other epistles. Also, 2 Peter 3:15-16 declares that Paul had written an epistle to the brethren, and his discription of it ("some things hard to be understood") indicates one consisting of logical discussion. It is true also that many of the Nicene writers (known as Apostolic Fathers) ascribe the epistle to Paul. These men lived only a few centuries this side of Christ, and hence ‘had access to evidences that were well founded. Furthermore, there is no negative reason for ascribing it to any other writer, for the whole epistle contains nothing that differs in a single feature from the manner of Paul's language or reasoning.

    The principal subject of this book is the law of Christ over that of Moses and the prophets. The revelation of God's will was made known through Christ in the place of all other means in former times. The most outstanding disturbance of the first century of the Gospel Dispensation was caused by Judaizers. That means Jews or any others who insisted that Christians should conform to the Mosaic system in connection with their profession of faith in Christ. This book was written to show the errors in such a teaching. Sundry times and in divers manners refers to the many instances and various plans under which God used to give his revelations of truth to the prophets, to be given on by them to the heads of the units of His people.


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    Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/hebrews-1.html. 1952.

    Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.

    God spake.—Whatever was communicated by the prophets is here said to be spoken by God. He spoke whatsoever was uttered by His prophets. The Scriptures are very jealous on this subject; how different from the language of many who seem desirous to exclude God from being the Author of his own word!

    At sundry times.—The wonderful plan of salvation was gradually unfolded. God did not fully communicate it at once, but at sundry times, or, rather, in sundry parts, here a little and there a little. The first intimation of the Savior was made to Adam; His coming as the Judges , to Enoch; the covenant, or solemn engagement was renewed to Noah, and a visible representation of the salvation of believers was given in the preservation of Noah and his family in the Ark, which, being warned of God, he had prepared for the saving of his house.

    We have seen that the Savior was first revealed as the seed of the woman; [Eve was the emblem of the Church of Christ, the mother of all believers. Galatians 4:21. She was first called woman because she was taken out of man. It is remarkable that the name of Eve, or Life, was given her after she had been the means of entailing death on all her posterity; but the Prince of Life, who hath abolished death, was the seed of the woman, hence the new name given to Eve.] He was afterwards described as the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; His descent was next limited to the tribe of Judah, and finally to the house of David.

    The gradual manner in which God communicated His purposes of mercy to man correspond with the other parts of the divine procedure. He could have completed in a moment the work of creation, but He was pleased to accomplish it in six days, and here we see His wisdom and condescension. It enables us to follow the wonderful process; it presents to us the stupendous whole in its various parts, thus preventing our being overwhelmed with its magnitude. So likewise the herb of the field does not at once arrive at maturity; there is first the blade, then the ear, and afterwards the full corn in the ear. Thus, too, man has his age of infancy, youth, and manhood, through all of which steps the Savior passed, thus intimating that His salvation was not confined to any age.

    Diverse manners.—Revelation was not only communicated in different portions, but in different ways, by angels, voices, dreams, visions; and similitudes. Such were the different modes in which the prophets received their revelations.

    In times past (rather, of old).—Here there appears to be a reference to the fact that the spirit of prophecy had long ceased. No prophet had arisen in Israel for the space of three hundred years from the days of Malachi.

    To the fathers.—Here the term fathers includes not only the patriarchs of the Jewish nation, but all the prophets by whom God had communicated His will from the beginning.


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    Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:1". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/hebrews-1.html. 1835.

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