Hebrews 1
Pulpit Commentary
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Verse 1. - Retaining the order of the words in the original, we may translate, In many portions, and in many modes of old God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets. Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως ( νοτ a mere alliterative redundancy, denoting variously: - the writer's usual choice use of words forbids this supposition. Nor is the μερῶς of the first adverb to be taken (as in the A.V.) to denote portions of time: - this is not the proper meaning of the compound. Nor (for the same reason) does it denote various degrees of prophetic inspiration, but (on etymological as well as logical grounds) the various portions of the preparatory revelation to "the fathers." It was not one utterance, but many utterances; given, in fact, at divers times, though it is to the diversity of the utterances, and not of the times, that the expression points. Then the second adverb denotes the various modes of the several former revelations - not necessarily or exclusively the rabbinical distinction between dream, vision, inspiration, voices, angels; or that between the visions and dreams of prophets and the "mouth to mouth" revelation to Moses, referred to in Numbers 12:6-9; but rather the various characters or forms of the various utterances in themselves. Some were in the way of primeval promises; some of glimpses into the Divine righteousness, as in the Law given from Mount Sinai; some of significant ritual, as in the same Law; some of typical history and typical persons, spoken of under inspiration as representing an unfulfilled ideal; some of the yearnings and aspirations, or distinct predictions, of psalmists and of prophets. But all these were but partial, fragmentary, anticipatory utterances, leading up to and adumbrating the 'one complete, all-absorbing "speaking of God to us in the SON," which is placed in contrast with there all. If the subsequent treatment in this Epistle of the Old Testament utterances is to be taken as a key for unlocking the meaning of the exordium, such ideas were in the writer's mind when he thus wrote. "Πολυμερῶς pertinet ad materiam, πολυτρόπως ad formam" (Bengel). Of old; i.e. in the ages comprised in the Old Testament record. Though it is true that; God has revealed himself variously since the world was made to other than the saints of the Old Testament, and though he ceased not to speak in some way to his people between the times of Malachi and of Christ, yet both the expression, "to the fathers," and the instances of Divine utterances given subsequently in the Epistle, restrict us in our interpretation to the Old Testament canon. Addressing Hebrews, it is from this that the writer argues. Having spoken; a word used elsewhere to express all the ways in which God has made himself, his will, and his counsels, known (cf. Matthew 10:20; Luke 1:45, 70; John 9:29; Acts 3:21; Acts 7:6). To the fathers; the ancestors of the Jews in respect both of race and of faith; the saints of the Old Testament. The word had a well-understood meaning (cf. Matthew 23:30; Luke 1:55, 72; Luke 11:47; and especially Romans 9:5). For the double sense of the term "father," thus used, see John 8:56, "your father Abraham;" but again, John 8:39, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham;" and also Romans 4. and Galatians 3:7. But this distinction between physical and spiritual ancestry does not come in here. In the prophets. The word "prophet" must be taken here in a general sense; not confined to the prophets distinctively so called, as in Luke 24:44, "Moses, the prophets, and the psalms." For both Moses and the psalms are quoted in the sequel, to illustrate the ancient utterances. Προφήτης means, both in classical and Hellenistic Greek (as does the Hebrew נָבִיא, of which προφήτης is the equivalent), not a foreteller, but a forth teller of the mind of God, an inspired expounder (cf. Διὸς προφήτης ἐστὶ Λοξίας πατρός, AEsch., 'Eum.,' 19; and Exodus 7:1, "See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet"). Observe also the sense of προφητεία in St. Paul's Epistles (especially 1 Corinthians 14.). In this sense Moses, David, and all through whom God in any way spoke to man, were prophets. On the exact force of the preposition ἐν, many views have been entertained. It does not mean "in the books of the prophets," - the corresponding "in the SON" precludes this; nor that God by his Spirit spoke within the prophets, - this idea does not come in naturally here; nor is "the SON" presented afterwards as one in whom the Godhead dwelt, so much as being himself a manifestation of God; nor may we take ἐν, as simply a Hellenism for διὰ, - the writer does not use prepositions indiscriminately. Ἐν, (as Alford explains it) differs from διὰ as denoting the element in which this speaking takes place. This use of the preposition is found also in classical Greek; cf. σημαίνειν ἐν οἰωνοῖς, frequent in Xenophon; in the New Testament, cf. Ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίωι ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια (Matthew 9:34.).
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Verse 2. - In these last days. The true reading being ἐπ ἐσχάτον τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, not ἐπ ἐσχάτων, as in the Textus Receptus, translate, at the end of these days', The Received Text would, indeed, give the same meaning, the position of the article denoting' "the last of these days," not "these last days." The reference appears to be to the common rabbinical division of time into αἰὼν οϋτος, and αἰὼν μέλλων, or ἐρχόμενος: the former denoting the pro-Messianic, the latter the Messianic period. Thus "these days" is equivalent to αἰὼν ου{τος, "the present age," and the whole expression to ἐπὶ συντέλειᾳ τῶν αἰώνων, "at the end of the ages" (infra, Hebrews 9:26); cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11," for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come." The term, αἰὼν μέλλων, is also used in this Epistle (Hebrews 6:5); cf. Hebrews 2:5, τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν. For allusions elsewhere to the two periods, cf. Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:35; Ephesians 1:21; Titus 2:12. Cf. also in Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6, where, for "Everlasting Father," Cod. Alex. has πατὴρ τοῦ μελλόντος αἰῶνος. A subject of discussion has been the point of division between the two ages - whether the commencement of the Christian dispensation, ushered in by the exaltation of Christ, or his second advent. The conception in the Jewish mind, founded on Messianic prophecy, would, of course, be undefined. It would only be that the coming of the Messiah would inaugurate a new order of things. But how did the New Testament writers after Christ's ascension conceive the two ages? Did they regard themselves as living at the end of the former age or at the beginning of the new one? The passage before us does not help to settle the question, nor does Hebrews 9:26; for the reference in both cases is to the historical manifestation of Christ before his ascension. But others of the passages cited above seem certainly to imply that "the coming age" was regarded as still future. It has been said, indeed, with regard to this apparent inference from some of them, that the writers were regarding their own age from the old Jewish standing-point when they spoke of it as future, or only used well-known phrases to denote the two ages, though they were no longer strictly applicable (see Alford's note on Hebrews 2:5). But this explanation cannot well be made to apply to such passages as 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Ephesians 1:21, or to those in the Gospels. It would appear from them that it was not till the παρούσια (or, as it is designated in the pastoral Epistles, the ἐπιφάνεια) of Christ that "the coming age" of prophecy was regarded as destined to begin, ushering in "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). Still, though "that day" was in the future, the first coming of Christ had been, as it were, its dawn, signifying its approach and preparing believers for meeting it. "The darkness was passing away; the true light was already shining" (1 John 2:8). Hence the apostolic writers sometimes speak as if already in the "coming age;" as being already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20); as already "made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6); having already "tasted the powers of the age to come" (Hebrews 6:5). In a certain sense they felt themselves in the new order of things, though, strictly speaking, they still regarded their own age as but the end of the old one, irradiated by the light of the new. To understand fully their language on the subject, we should remember that they supposed the second advent to be more imminent than it was. St. Paul, at one time certainly, thought that it might be before his own death (2 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:15). Thus they might naturally speak of their own time as the conclusion of the former age, though regarding the second advent as the commencement of the new one. But the prolongation of "the end of these days," unforeseen by them, does not affect the essence of their teaching on the subject. In the Divine counsels "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Hath spoken unto us (more properly, spake to us) in his Son. "His" is here properly supplied to give the meaning of ἐν υἱῷ. The rendering, a SON, which seems to have the advantage of literalism, would be misleading if it suggested the idea of one among many sons, or a son in the same sense in which others are sons. For though the designation, "son of God," is undoubtedly used in subordinate senses - applied e.g. to Adam, to angels, to good men, to Christians - yet what follows in the Epistle fixes its peculiar meaning here. The entire drift of the earlier part of the Epistle is to show that the idea involved in the word "Son," as applied to the Messiah in prophecy, is that of a relation to God far above that of the angels or of Moses, and altogether unique in its character. This idea must have been in the writer's mind when he selected the phrases of his exordium. Nor is the article required for the sense intended. Its omission, in fact, brings it out. Ἐν τῷ υἱῷ would have drawn especial attention to "the personage in whom God spake; ἐν υἱῷ does so rather to the mode of the speaking - it is equivalent to "in one who was SON." Son-revelation (as afterwards explained), is contrasted with previous prophetic revelations (cf. for omission of the article before υἱὸς, Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:28). Whom he appointed (or, constituted) heir of all things; not, as in the A.V., "hath appointed." The verb is in the aorist, and here the indefinite sense of the aorist should be preserved. "Convenienter statim sub Filii nomen memoratur haereditas" (Bengel). Two questions arise.

(1) Was it in respect of his eternal Divinity, or of his manifestation in time, that the Son was appointed "Heir of all things?"

(2) When is God to be conceived as so appointing him? i.e. What is the time, if any, to be assigned to the indefinite aorist? In answer to question

(1) the second alternative is to be preferred. For

(a) his eternal pre-existence has not yet been touched upon: it is introduced, as it were parenthetically, in the next and following clauses.

(b) Though the term Son is legitimately used in theology to denote the eternal relation to the Father expressed by the Λόγος of St. John, yet its application in this Epistle and in the New Testament generally (excepting, perhaps, the μονογενὴς υἱὸς peculiar to St. John, on which see Bull, 'Jud. Eccl. Cath.,' 5:4, etc.), is to the Word made flesh, to the Son as manifested in the Christ. And hence it is to him as such that we may conclude the heirship to be here assigned.

(c) This is the view carried out in the sequel of the Epistle, where the SON is represented as attaining the universal dominion assigned to him after, and in consequence of, his human obedience. The conclusion of the exordium in itself expresses this; for it is not till after he had made purification of sins that he is said to have "sat down," etc.; i.e. entered on his inheritance; having become (γένομενος not ω}ν) "so much better," etc. This is the view of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Fathers generally (cf. the cognate passage, Philippians 2:9).

(2) It seems best to refer the aorist ἔθηκε, not to any definite time, as that of the prophetic utterances afterwards cited, or that of the actual exaltation of Christ, but indefinitely to the eternal counsels, which were indeed declared and fulfilled in time, but were themselves ἐνἀρχῇ. A similar use of the aorist, coupled with other aorists pointing to events in time, is found in Romans 8:29, 30. What this heirship of all things implies will appear in the sequel, By whom also he made the worlds. Interposed clause to complete the true conception of the SON; showing who and what he was originally and essentially through whom God "spake" in time, and who, as SON, inherited. Here certainly, and in the expressions which follow, we have the same doctrine as that of the Λόγος of St. John. And the testimony of the New Testament to the pre-existence and deity of Christ is the more striking from our finding the same essential idea under different forms of expression, and in writings differing so much from each other in character and style. He who appeared in the world as Christ is, in the first place, here said (as by St. John 1:3) to have been the Agent of creation; cf. Colossians 1:15-17, where the original creative agency of "the Son of his love" is emphatically set forth, as well as his being "the Head of the body, the Church." This cognate passage is of weight against the view of interpreters who would take the one before us as referring to the initiation of the gospel ages; with respect to which view see also the quotation from Bull given below under ver. 3. Here τοὺς αἰῶνας is equivalent to "the worlds," as in the A.V. For though the primary meaning of αἰών has reference to time - limited in periods, or unlimited in eternity - it is used to denote also the whole system of things called into being by the Creator in time and through which alone we are able to conceive time. "Οἱ αἰῶνες, saecula, pro rerum creatarum universitate est Hebraismus" (Bull); cf. Hebrews 11:3, καταρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῤήματι Θεοῦ: also 1 Corinthians 2:7, πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων: and 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2, πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Verse 3. - Who, being, etc. The participle ῳ}ν῞((νοτ γενόμενος, as in ver. 4 - denotes (as does still more forcibly ὐπάρχων in the cognate passage, Philippians 2:6) what the Son is in himself essentially and independently of his manifestation in time. This transcendent idea is conveyed by two metaphorical expressions, differing in the metaphors used, but concurrent in meaning. The brightness of his glory. The word δόξα (translated "glory"), though net in classical Greek carrying with it the idea of light, is used in the LXX. for the Hebrew כָּבוד, which denotes the splendor surrounding God; manifested on Mount Sinai, in the holy of holies, in the visions of Ezekiel, etc.; and regarded as existing eternally "above the heavens" (cf. Exodus 24:15; Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 8:4; Psalm 24:7, 8, etc.). But the full blaze of this glory, accompanying" the face" of God, even Moses was not allowed to see; for no man could see him and live. Moses was hidden in a cleft of the rock while the God's glory passed by, and saw only its outskirts, i.e. the radiance left behind after it; had passed; hearing meanwhile a proclamation of the moral attributes of Deity, by a perception of which he might best see God (Exodus 33:18, etc.). Similarly in the New Testament. There also, as on Sinai, in the tabernacle, and in prophetic vision, the glory of God is occasionally manifested under the form of an unearthly radiance; as in the vision of the shepherds (Luke 2:9), the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28, etc.), the ecstasy of Stephen (Acts 7:55). But in itself, as it surrounds "the face" of God, it is still invisible and unapproachable; cf. John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time;" 1 John 1:5, "God is Light;" 1 Timothy 6:16, "Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto (φῶς απρόσιτον), whom no man hath seen nor can see." It denotes really, under the image of eternal, self-existent, unapproachable light, the ineffable Divine perfection, the essence of Deity, which is beyond human ken. "Sempiterna ejus virtus et divinitas" (Bengel). Of this glory the SON is the ἀπαύγασμα - a word not occurring elsewhere in the New Testament, but used by the Alexandrian writers. The verb ἀπαυγάζω means "to radiate," "to beam forth brightness;" and ἀπαύγασμα, according to the proper meaning of nouns so formed, should mean the brightness beamed forth - this rather than its reflection from another object, as the sun's light is reflected from a cloud. So the noun is used in Wisd. 7:26, as applied to Σοφία, which is there personified in a manner suggestive of the doctrine of the Λόγος: Ατμὶς γὰρ ἐστὶ τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀπόρροια τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής... ἀπαύγασμα γὰρ ἐστὶ φωτὸς αἰδίου And Philo speaks of the breath of life breathed lute man (Genesis 2:7) as τῆς μακαρίας καὶ τρισμακαρίας φύσευς απαύγασμα ('De Spec. Leg.,' § 11). As, then, the eradiated brightness is to the source of light, so is the SON, in his eternal being, to the Father. It is, so to speak, begotten of the source, and of one substance with it, and yet distinguishable from it; being that through which its glory is made manifest, and through which it enlightens all things. The Person of the Son is thus represented, not as of one apart from God, irradiated by his glory, but as himself the sheen of his glory; cf. John 1:14, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;" also John 1:4; John 1:9. The above is the view taken by the Fathers generally, and expressed in the Church's Creed, φῶς ἐκ φωτός. And express Image of his substance; not "of his person," as in the A.V. The latter rendering is due to the long-accepted theological use of the word ὑπόστασις in the sense of personal subsistence, as applied to each of the Three in One. What the Latins called persona the Greeks at length agreed to call hypostasis, while the Greek οὐσία (equivalent to essentia) and the Latin substantia (though the latter word etymologically corresponds with hypostasis) were used as equivalents in meaning. But it was long after the apostolic age that this scientific use of the word became fixed. After as well as before the Nicene Council usia was sometimes used to denote what we mean by person, and hypostasis to denote what we mean by the substance of the Godhead; and hence came misunderstandings during the Arian controversy. Bull ('Def. Fid. Nic.,' 2:9. 11) gives a catena of instances of this uncertain usage. The definite doctrine of the Trinity, though apparent in the New Testament, had not as yet come under discussion at the time of the writing of this Epistle, or been as yet scientifically formulated; and hence we must take the word in its general and original sense, the same as that now attached to its etymological equivalent, substantia. It means literally, "a standing under," and is used

(1) in a physical sense, for "foundation," as in Psalm 69:2, "I sink in deep mire where there is no standing," where the LXX. has ὑπόστασις:

(2) metaphorically, for "confidence" or "certainty," as below, Hebrews 3:14 and 2 Corinthians 9:4;

(3) metaphysically, for that which underlies the phenomena of things and constitutes their essential being. Of the substance, understood in the last sense, of God the Son is the χαρακτὴρ, which word expresses a similar kind of relation to the Divine substance as ἀπαύγασμα does to the Divine glory. Derived from χαράσσω (equivalent to "mark," "grave," or "stamp," with an engraven or imprinted character), its proper meaning is the perceptible image on the material so stamped or engraved, of which it thus becomes the χαρακτὴρ. Thus the "image and superscription" on a coin is its χαρακτὴρ, manifesting what the coin is. The instance of the tribute money (Matthew 22:20) at once occurs to us: our Lord pointed to the χαρακτὴρ on the coin as manifesting its ὑπόστασις, as being Caesar's money. Thus also the lineaments of a countenance are called its χαρακτὴρ, as in Herod., 1:116, Ὁ χαρακτὴρ τοῦ προσώπου. A passage in Philo is illustrative of the sense intended; and it is to be observed (both with regard to the expression before us and to the preceding ἀπαύγασμα) that the Alexandrian theologians are important guides to the interpretation of phrases in this Epistle, their influence on its modes of thought and expression being perceptible. He says ('De Plant. Nee.,' § 5) that Moses called the rational soul the image (εἰκόνα) of the Divine and Invisible, as being οὐσιωθεῖσαν καὶ τυπωθεῖσαν σφραγῖδι Θεοῦ ἥς ὁ χαρακτὴρ ἐστὶν ὁ ἀι'διος λόγος. Here, be it observed, χαρακτὴρ is used for the form or lineament of the Divine seal itself, not for the copy stamped on the plastic material. And it is applied, as here, to the "Eternal Word," as being the manifestation of what the unseen Godhead is. Hence it would be wrong to understand the word, as some have done, as denoting the form impressed by one substance on another - as though the impression left on the wax were the χαρακτὴρ of the seal. This misconception would mislead (as might also ἀπαύγασμα, if rendered "reflection") in that it would seem to represent the Son as distinct from God, though stamped with his likeness and irradiated by his glory. Arian views about the SON, or even mere humanitarian views about the Christ, might thus seem countenanced. The two words ἀπαύγασμα and χαρακτὴρ, as has been said, express a similar relation to δόξα and ὑπόσρασις respectively, and convey the same general idea of the Son's eternal relation to the Father. But both are, of course, but figures, each necessarily inadequate, of the inscrutable reality. If we may distinguish between them, it may be said that the former especially intimates the view of the operation and energy of the Godhead being through the Son, while the latter more distinctly brings out the idea of the Son being the Manifestation of what the God- head is, and especially of what it is to us. And upholding all things. We have here still the present participle, denoting the intrinsic operation of him who was revealed as Son. Though the word φέρειν, in the sense of upholding or sustaining creation, does not occur elsewhere in the, New Testament, it can hardly have any other meaning here, considering the context. We find a similar use of it in Numbers 11:14; Deuteronomy 1:9, "to bear (φέρειν) all this people alone." And in the later Greek and rabbinical writers parallels are found. Chrysostom interprets φέρων as meaning κυβερνῶν τὰ διαπίπτοντα συγκρατῶν, which comes to the same thing as "upholding" or "sustaining." The meaning is that not only were "the worlds" made through him; in his Divine nature he ever "upholds" the "all things" which were made through him, and of which, as SON, he was appointed "Heir;" el. Colossians 1:17, "And in him all things consist." And this upholding operation must not be supposed to have been in abeyance during the period of his humiliation. He was still what he had been eternally, though he had "emptied himself" of the state and prerogatives of Deity (Philippians 2:7); el. (though the text is somewhat doubtful) John 3:13, "The Son of man, which is (ω}ν) in heaven." By the word (ῤήματι) of his power is an expression elsewhere used of the voluntas efficax of Deity - the utterance of Divine power; cf. Hebrews 11:3, "The worlds were framed by the Word (ῤήματι) of God." The writer could hardly have used it in this connection, if speaking of a created being. As to the reference of "his" before" power," whether to the subject of the sentence or to God, there is the same ambiguity in the Greek as in the English translation. Even if αὐτοῦ be intended, and not αὑτοῦ (and the former is most likely, since the pronoun, though it be reflective, is not emphatically so), it may with grammatical propriety refer either, like the previous αὐτοῦ, to God, or to him who thus upholds all things. In either case the general meaning of the clause remains the same. Enough has been said on the whole series of phrases which is thus concluded to show the untenableness of the Socinian interpretation, which would refer them only to Christ in the flesh and to the Christian dispensation. On such interpretation of the first of them Bull remarks, "Interpretatio Socinistarum, Deum nempe dici per Filiam saecula condidisse, quod per ipsum genus humanum reformavit et restauravit, et in novum quemdam statum transtulit, prodigiosum est commentum. Sane juramento aliquis tuto affirmare possit, ex Hebraeis, ad quos scripta fuit ilia epistola, ne unum quidem fuisse, qui scriptoris verba hoc sensu intellexerit, aut vel per somnium cogitaverit, per τοὺς αἰῶνας, saeculaa, significarum fuisse tantum genus humanum, nedum ejus pattem illam, cui tunc temporis evangelii lux effulserat" ('Jud. Eccl. Cath.,' 5:8). When he had made purification of sins. (So, according to the best-supported 'rod now generally accepted text.) The aorist is now resumed, denoting an act in time - the act accomplished by him as incarnate SON, previous to and necessary for his entering on the inheritance appointed to him as such. This act, the grand purpose of the Incarnation, was atonement. There can be no doubt that the cleansing effected by atonement, and not the mere moral reformation of believers, is meant here by purification of sins. The sequel of the Epistle, being, as aforesaid, the full expression of the drift of the exordium, is sufficient proof of this. For in it Christ is exhibited at great length as the true High Priest of humanity, accomplishing truly what the Jewish priesthood signified; and as having "sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," in virtue of his accomplished atonement (Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12). Nor would the Hebrew readers to whom the Epistle was addressed be likely to understand καθαρισμὸν ("purification") in any other sense than this. The verb καθαρίζειν is the LXX. equivalent for the Hebrew מִהַר, frequent in the Old Testament for ceremonial cleansing, the result of atoning sacrifice; in which sense it is accordingly used in Hebrews 10. of this Epistle. The theory of the Jewish ceremonial law was that the whole congregation, including the priests themselves, were too much polluted by sin to approach the holy God who dwelt between the cherubim. Therefore sacrifices were ordained to make atonement for them. The word for "making atonement for" (Greek, ἰλασκέσθαι) is in Hebrew כָפַר, which means properly "to cover;" i.e. to cover sin from the sight of God. And the result of such atonement was called "purification," or "cleansing." This appears clearly in Leviticus 16, where the ceremonies of the great Day of Atonement are detailed. After an account of the various sacrifices of atonement, for the high priest and his house, for the people, and for the holy place itself polluted by their sins, we read (ver. 19), "And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [i.e. the altar] with his finger seven times, and cleanse it (καθαριεῖ), and hallow it from the uncleanness (τῶν ἀκαθαρσιῶν) of the children of Israel." And finally (ver. 30), "For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you (καθαρίσαι), that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord." It is to be observed, further, that it is especially the meaning of the ceremonial of the Day of Atonement that Christ is spoken of afterwards in the Epistle as having fulfilled. For the phrase, ποιησάμενος καθαρισμὸν ἁμαρτιὼν, cf. Job 7:21, Διατί οὐκ ἐποιήσω τῆς ἀνομίας λήθην καὶ καθαρισμὸν τῆς ἁμαρτίας μου. Its meaning in the Epistle may be that Christ, by his death, brought into being and established a permanent purification of sins - "a fountain open for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1) - in his blood, which is regarded as now ever offered at the heavenly mercy-seat (Hebrews 9:12) and sprinkled on the redeemed below (Hebrews 9:14, 22). Thus the distinction, observed above, between the atonement (ἱλασμὸς), of sacrifice and its application for cleansing (καθαρισμὸς) would be preserved (cf. 1 John 1:7 and Revelation 7:14). Sat down; i.e. entered on his inheritance of all things; not simply in the sense of resuming his pristine glory, but of obtaining the preeminence denoted in prophecy as appointed to the Son, human as well as Divine, and won by obedience and accomplished atonement. And this his supreme exaltation (as will be seen hereafter) carries with it the idea of an exaltation of humanity, of which he was the High Priest and Representative. But be it observed that there is no change in the subject; of the sentence. He who "sat down on high" after making purification is the same with him through whom the worlds were made, and whose eternal Divinity has been expressed by the present participles. This identification supports the orthodox position of there being but one personality in Christ, notwithstanding the two natures, and justifies, against Nestorian-ism, the term θεοτόκος ασ applied to the blessed Virgin, with other cognate expressions accepted in orthodox theology, such as, "God suffered," though in his human, not his Divine, nature; "God shed his blood" (cf. Philippians 2:8, etc.). On the right hand of the Majesty on high. The expression is taken from Psalm 110:1, afterwards cited in this Epistle, and prominently referred to in like manner by St. Paul. The figure is suggested by the custom of Oriental kings, who placed at the right hand of the throne a son whom they associated with themselves in the prerogatives of royalty. Occurring as it does first in a Messianic psalm, the phrase is never applied to the Son's original relation to the Father "before the ages," but only to his exaltation as the Christ (on which see Bleek). The same idea seems expressed by our Lord's own words, "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). But in the end, according to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28), this peculiar "kingship" of the SON will cease, the redemptive purpose being accomplished. It is to be observed that, both here and afterwards (Hebrews 8:1), a fine periphrasis is used for "right-hand of God;" "the right hand of the Majesty on high" and "the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." This may be regarded, not only as characteristic of the eloquent style of the Epistle, but also as implying an avoidance of too local or physical a view of the session spoken cf. It is apparent elsewhere how the writer sees in the figures used to denote heavenly things only signs, level to our comprehension, of corresponding realities beyond our ken.
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Verse 4. - Having become by so much better than the angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they (διαφορωτέρον παρ αὐτοὺς). (For the same Greek form of comparison, see Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 3:3.) "Παρα ingentem printer caeteros excellentiam denotat" (Bengel). This verse, though, in respect of grammatical construction, it is the conclusion of the exordium, serves as the thesis of the first section of the argument to follow, the drift of which is to show the SON'S superiority to the angels. The mention of the angels comes naturally after the allusion to Psalm 110, viewed and quoted as it is afterwards in connection with Psalm 8, in which "a little lower than the angels" is taken to denote the state previous to the exaltation; and it is preparatory also for the argument that follows. The more distinguished name, expressing the measure of superiority to the angels, is (as the sequel shows) the name of SON, assigned (as aforesaid) to the Messiah in prophecy, and so, with all that it implies, "inherited" by him in time according to the Divine purpose. Observe the perfect, "hath inherited," instead of the aorist as hitherto, denotes, with the usual force of the Greek tense, the continuance of the inheritance obtained. If we have entered into the view all along taken by the writer, we shall see no difficulty in the SON being said to have become better than the angels at the time of his exaltation, as though he had been below them before. So he had in respect of his assumed humanity, and it is to the SON denoted in prophecy to be humanly manifested in time that the whole sentence in its main purport refers. As such, having been, with us, lower than the angels, he became greater, the interposed references to his eternal personality retaining their full force notwithstanding. But why should the name of SON in itself imply superiority to the angels? Angels themselves are, in the Old Testament, called "sons of God." It has been suggested that the writer of the Epistle was not aware of the angels being so designated, since the LXX., from which he invariably quotes, renders פְנִי אֶלִים by ἀγγέλοι. But this is not so invariably. In Genesis 6:1; Psalm 29:1; and Psalms 89:7, we find υἱοί Θεοῦ. And, whatever be the application of the words in each of these passages, they at any rate occur in the LXX. as denoting others than the Messiah. Nor, in any case, would it be easily supposable that one so versed in biblical lore as the writer must have been had been thus misled in so important a point of his argument. The fact is that his argument, properly understood, is quite consistent with a full knowledge of the fact that others as well as the Messiah are so designated. For it is not merely the term "Son" as applied to the Messiah in prophecy, but the unique manner in which it is so applied, that is insisted on in what follows. The form of his commencement shows this. He does not say, "Whom, except the Messiah, did he ever call Son?" but, "To which of the angels did he ever speak as follows, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee?" In language generally the meaning of a word may depend very materially on the context in which it occurs and other determining circumstances. Indeed, the mere use of the title in the singular, "my Son," carries with it a different idea from its use in the plural of a class of beings. But this is not all. A series of passages from the Old Testament is adduced by way of expressly showing that the sonship assigned to the Messiah carries with it the idea of a relation to God altogether beyond any ever assigned to angels. Such is the position of the writer. We shall see in the sequel how He makes it good.
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
Verse 5 - Hebrews 3:1. - THE SON SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS. Here the argumentation of the Epistle begins, the thesis of the first section of the argument having been given, as aforesaid, in the preceding verse, that "the SON is superior to the angels." The second section begins at Hebrews 3:1, the thesis being that "the SON is superior to Moses." Through angels and Moses the Law was given: "Ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator" (Galatians 3:19), the "mediator" being Moses. To show that the Son, in the Old Testament itself, is represented as above both, is to show, what it is the main purpose of the whole Epistle to establish, that the gospel, given through the SON, is above the Law, and intended to supersede it. The conclusion is that the gospel stands in the same relation to the Law as does the Son to angels, who are but "ministering spirits," and to Moses, who was but a "servant." With regard to the agency of angels in the giving of the Law, we do not find it so evident in the Old Testament as might have been expected from the references to it in the New. The "angel of Lord," who appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) and went before the people (Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20, etc.), seems in the earlier books of the Bible to signify a certain presence and manifestation of the Lord himself, rather than a created minister of his will (see Genesis 16:7, 13; Genesis 22:15, 16; Exodus 3:2, 4; Exodus 23:20, 21; cf. Acts 7:31, 35, 38); and this has been identified by theologians with the Word, not yet incarnate, through whom all Divine communications have been made to men. It is to be observed, however, that, after the sin of the golden calf, a distinction seems to be made between the presence of the Lend with his people and that of the angel to be thenceforth sent before them (Exodus 33:2, 3). Ebrard sees in the "angel of the LORD" generally, though understood as signifying a Divine presence, a justification of the statement that the Law was given "through angels," on the ground that, though God did so manifest himself, it was not a direct manifestation, as in the Son, but through forms borrowed from the sphere of the angels. It was an angelophany, denoting an unseen Divine presence, not a true theophany. The only distinct allusion to "angels," in the plural, in connection with the giving of the Law, is in Deuteronomy 33:2, "He came with ten thousands of saints;" with which comp. Psalm 68:17. But there is no doubt that it came afterwards to be the accepted rabbinical view that the dispensers of the Law were angels - whether as attendants on the Divine Majesty, or as agents of the fiery phenomena on Mount Sinai (natural operations being often attributed to angels), or as the utterers of the voice that was heard. "Locutus est Deus per angeles" (Bengel). And the writers of the New Testament plainly recognize this view (see below, Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). Hence our author takes for granted that his readers will understand and recognize it, and so implies it in his argument, expressing, as it does, a true conception of the nature of the Mosaic dispensation, and especially of its relation to the gospel. To resume our view of the argument that follows. The first section (as aforesaid) is from Hebrews 1:5 to Hebrews 3:1, having for its thesis the superiority of the SON to angels. The second section is from Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 5:1, having for its thesis the superiority of the Son to Moses. Each section consists of two main divisions, between which in each case an appropriate exhortation is interposed; the first division in each case treating of what the Son is in his own person, the second of his work for man; and both sections leading separately to the conclusion that he is the High Priest of humanity. Then, in Hebrews 5, the subject of his priesthood is taken up. Ebrard happily illustrates the symmetrical plan of the argument thus: "The author, having thus been led from these two different starting-points to the idea of the ἀρχιερεύς, now proceeds to place on the two first parts, which may be viewed as the pillars of the arch, the third part, which forms the keystone." In this third part it begins to be shown, at Hebrews 5:1, how Christ fulfilled in his humanity the essential idea of priesthood. But, for reasons that will appear, the full doctrine of his eternal priesthood is not entered upon till Hebrews 7:1 - 10:19, which may be called the central portion of the whole Epistle. The remainder (Hebrews 10:20 - end) may be distinguished from the rest as being the distinctly hortatory part (though her-ration has been frequently interposed in the argument), being mainly devoted to practical application of the doctrine that has been established. The following plan of the argument of the first two sections, showing the parallelism between them, may assist us in entering into it as it proceeds: - SECTION I. Thesis: Christ superior to the angels. Division 1 (Hebrews 1:5-2:1). The name SON, as applied to the typical theocratic kings, and in its final reference and full meaning (as you all acknowledge) pointing to the Messiah, expresses a position altogether above any assigned anywhere to angels. The Son is represented as one associated with God in his majesty, a sharer of his everlasting throne. Angels are referred to only as ministering spirits or attendant worshippers at the Son's advent. Interposed exhortation (Hebrews 2:1-5). This being so, beware of not appreciating the revelation now given in the Son. In transgression of the Law given through angels was so severely visited, what will be the consequence of neglecting this, accredited to us as it has been? Division 2 (Hebrews 2:5-3:1). The Son also, but never angels, is denoted in prophecy as Lord of the coming age. For the eighth psalm (based on and carrying out the idea of the account in Genesis of the original creation) assigns a supremacy over all created things to man. Man, as he is now, does not fulfill the ideal of his destiny. But Christ, as Son of man, in his exaltation, does. And in him man attains his destined dignity forfeited through sin. His humiliation, suffering and death were for the purpose of thus raising man. His humiliation with this and was a design worthy of God, and in accordance with the purport of Messianic prophecy. For such prophecy intimates association and sympathy of the Messiah with his human brethren. Thus Christ, the SON, is the sympathizing High Priest of humanity. SECTION II. Thesis- Christ superior to Moses. Division 1 (Hebrews 3:1-7). Moses is represented in the Old Testament as but a servant in the house of God. The SON is lord over the house. Interposed exhortation (Hebrews 3:7-4:1). This being so, beware of hardening your hearts, like the Israelites under Moses. If they failed, through unbelief, of entering into the rest offered to them, you may similarly fail of entering into the rest intended for you. Division 2 (Hebrews 4:1-5:1). A rest, symbolized by that of the promised land, is still offered to you, and you may enter into it. The ninetieth psalm shows that the rest into which Joshua led the Israelites was not the final one intended for God's people. The true rest is the rest of God himself (" my rest," Psalm 90.), spoken of in the account of the creation - the sabbath rest of eternity. Christ, after sharing our human trials, has passed into that eternal rest, and won an entrance into it for us. Thus, again, a renewed exhortation being interposed, Christ, the SON, is again set forth as the sympathizing High Priest of humanity. Verse 5. - For to which of the angels said he at any time. Observe the form of the question, which has been already noticed. It is not, "When were angels ever called sons?" but to this effect: "To which of them did he ever speak (individually) in the following remarkable terms?" The first quotation is from Psalm 2:7; the second from 2 Samuel 7:14. The second having had undoubtedly a primary reference to Solomon, and the first presumably to some king of Israel, probably to David, we may here properly pause to consider the principle of the application of such passages to Christ. It must be allowed that, not only in this Epistle, but in the New Testament generally, sayings which had a primary reference to events or personages in the past, are applied directly to Christ; and in some cases where the justness of the application may not be to all of us at first sight obvious. With regard to this usage, Bengel says, "Veri interpretes verborum divinorum sunt apostoli; etiamsi nos sine illis talem sententiam non assigneremur." But such applications are plainly not arbitrary. They rest on a principle of interpretation which it is of importance for us to understand. First, we may observe that the method was not originated by the New Testament writers; it was one received among the Jews of their time, who saw throughout the Old Testament anticipations of the Messiah. This appears both from rabbinical literature and also from the New Testament itself. For instance, the priests and scribes consulted by Herod (Matthew 2:5) referred Micah 5:2 as a matter of course to the Messiah; and the Pharisees (Matthew 22:44) never thought of disputing the application of Psalm 110. to him. And not only so. The Old Testament itself suggests and exemplifies such applications. For students of the prophetic writings must be aware how utterances that had a primary fulfillment in one age are sometimes taken up in a subsequent one as though yet to be fulfilled, their scope enlarged, and their final reference often thrown forward to "that day" - the Messianic age - which alone terminates the view of the later prophets. Now, it has been said, in explanation of this mode of treatment, that prophecy often had a double meaning, referring partly to one thing and partly to another; or several meanings, with reference to several different things. But this way of putting the matter is unsatisfactory. Bacon better hit the mark, when, in a well-known passage in his 'Advancement of Learning' (bk. 2.), he spoke of "that latitude which is agreeable and familiar unto Divine prophecies, being of the nature of their Author, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, and therefore are not fulfilled punctually at once, but have springing and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages; though the height or fullness of them may refer to some one age." We may put it thus: It was of the nature of prophetic inspiration to lift the seer above and beyond his immediate subject to the contemplation of some grand ideal, which it suggested to his vision, and more or less perfectly fulfilled. He has, for instance, as the basis of his vision, a David, a Solomon, a Hezekiah, or a Zerubbabel; he has as its framework the circumstances of his own time or of the time near at hand; but we find his language, as he proceeds, rising far above his vision's original scope, and applicable to those comprised within it only so far as they embody and realize the ideal which they represent to his mind. Hence the taking up of old prophecies by succeeding prophets, their enlargement and reapplication to new fulfillments; and this, too, in terms transcending the reality of these new fulfillments; as, for instance, when Isaiah, taking up the idea of Nathan's message to David (2 Samuel 7.), applies it apparently to a son and a reign to be looked for in his own age, but at length in language which can have no other than a Messianic reference (Isaiah 9:6, etc.; Isaiah 11:1, etc.; cf. Jeremiah 33:15). Hence, lastly, the application in the New Testament of all such ancient utterances at once to Christ, as being the final and complete fulfillment of the ideal of prophecy, the true Antitype of all the types. A clear perception of this view of the drift of prophecy will remove difficulties that have been felt as to the application of many quotations from the Old Testament, in this Epistle and elsewhere, to Christ. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; a quotation from Psalm 2:7. This psalm is expressly quoted as David's in Acts 4:25, and has internal evidence of being his, and of having had primary reference to his reign. For the mention of Zion (ver. 6) precludes an earlier date, while the circumstances of warfare alluded to do not agree with the peaceful reign of Solomon, nor the picture of undivided empire with any period after the secession of the ten tribes. Further, the rising and consequent subjugation by David of subject races, described in 2 Samuel 8, presents to us a state of things very likely to have suggested the psalm; and to this period of David's reign it is usually referred with probability by modern commentators. But the question of date and authorship is not material to our view of the prophetic meaning of the psalm. Taking it to be David's, we find as follows: There is a rebellious confederation of subject kings against the dominion of the King of Israel, who is spoken of as "the Anointed" of the LORD. In view of their hostile preparations, the LORD in heaven is conceived as laughing to scorn their devices against him whom he himself had enthroned on Zion. Then the king speaks, "I will declare the decree [or, 'I will tell of a decree']; the Load said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and for thy possession the ends of the earth." Then follows an admonition to the rebels to do homage to this SON, submission to whom is submission to the Loan, and whose anger is as the LORD'S anger. Now, it is evident that the language used transcends literal application to any earthly king. Hence some commentators have been led to suppose that it had no even primary reference to one, being simply prophetic of the Messiah, though suggested by the circumstances of David's day. Thus Ebrard, supporting his view by the assumption (which is usually made) of the message of Nathan to David (2 Samuel 7:14) being the "decree" referred to in the psalm, and the foundation of the confidence expressed in it. He argues that it was not to David, but to his posterity (זֶרַע), that the position of sonship was assigned, and eternal dominion promised; and hence that David in this psalm (which he considers to have been certainly by him) must have been speaking, not in his own name, but in that of his seed after him, looking adoringly forward to the fulfillment of that glorious hope in the distant future (2 Samuel 7:19). Thus, he concludes, the insurrection of the Syrians forms merely the occasion, but not the object and import, of the second psalm. But, even if the message of Nathan were certainly the basis of the idea of the psalm, we find an instance of the express application of that message to David himself; as well as to his posterity, in Psalm 89. (see vers. 20-28). It may be, however, that the reference in the psalm is to some Divine intimation, possibly to some prophecy or oracular utterance, delivered to David himself at the time of the inauguration of his own sovereignty, and long before Nathan's message. In any case, it is in accordance with the genius of prophecy, as above explained, that the words should have had a primary reference to David himself, so far forth as he imperfectly fulfilled their meaning. The main thing to be observed is that they represent an ideal of sonship and unlimited sovereignty beyond any that could, as a matter of fact, be considered as fulfilled in David. And this view of its meaning, suggested by the psalm itself, is confirmed by the use made of it in later Scripture. For it is evident that this psalm, together with the passage from 2 Samuel 7. (to be cited next) is made the basis of a long series of Messianic prophecies (cf. 2 Samuel 23:1, etc.; Psalm 110; Psalm 89; Psalm 132; Isaiah 7-9; Isaiah 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Micah 4-5; Zechariah 6:12, etc.). Its application to Christ in the New Testament is distinct and frequent (cf. Acts 4:25; Acts 13:33; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15). As to the phrase, "This day have I begotten thee," there is a difference of view among both ancient and modern expositors. The word "begotten" (γεγέννηκα) naturally suggests μονογενὴς, and is hence taken by some as referring to the eternal generation of the Son; in which case it can have had no application in any conceivable sense to the human type. "This day" has also in this case to be explained as denoting the ever-present today of eternity. So Origen, in a striking passage, "It is said to him by God, to whom it is always today. For God has no evening, nor (as I deem) any morning, but the time which is coextensive with his own unbegotten and eternal life is (if I may so speak) the day in which the Son is begotten, there being thus found no beginning of his generation, as neither is there of the day." Athanasius takes the same view; also Basil, Primasius, Thomas Aquinas, and many others. The main objection to it is the inapplicability of such a meaning of the words, even in a subordinate sense, to David or any other king of Israel. Alford, indeed, urges that this meaning agrees best with the context in the Epistle, on the ground that the eternal being of the Son, having been stated in the exordium, might be expected to be referred to in the proof. But this is hardly to the point. The writer has now begun his argument from the Old Testament, and is engaged in showing the idea involved in the term Son as applied therein to the Messiah. This, therefore, and not what he has said previously, is what we have to regard in our interpretation; and the most obvious view of the phrase, as it occurs in the psalm itself, is to regard it as a figure denoting forcibly the paternity of God; cf. Jeremiah 2:27, "They say to the wood, Thou art my father; to the stone, Thou hast begotten me." It expresses the idea that the "Son of God" spoken of derives his existence as such from him, and not from human ancestry. Chrysostom, among the ancients, understands the phrase as thus referring to the sonship assigned to the Messiah in time, and not to his eternal being. This view being taken, "this day," in reference to the king, may mean the day of the "decree," or that of his enthronement on Mount Zion. In reference to Christ it has been variously understood of the time of his incarnation, or resurrection, or ascension. If it be thought necessary to assign any definite time to it in its application to Christ, the view of its being the day of the resurrection is supported by such passages as Colossians 1:18, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν: and Romans 1:4, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει ... ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν: cf. Acts 2:30 and Acts 13:32, etc., "The promise that was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again: as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." This last text, be it observed, is almost conclusive against the eternal generation being understood as referred to; as is also the application of the same text infra, Hebrews 5:5, where it is quoted in proof of Christ's appointment to the eternal priesthood. [" The title of begetting is ofttimes in sacred language to be measured, not by the scale of philosophers' or naturalists' dialect, but of moral or civil language or interpretation. For they that are sons by adoption only, or next heirs by reversion to a crown or dignity, are said to be begotten of those which adopt them, or of whom they be the immediate heirs or successors: and in this sense in the sacred genealogy (Matthew 1:12) Jeconiah is said to have begotten Salathiel. So that David upon his own occasions (whether upon his anointing to the crown of Judah in Hebron, or of Israel in Zion) might in the literal sense avouch these words of himself, 'I will preach the law whereof the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.' For David to call the day of his coronation, or of his designation to the crown of Judah, or of all Israel, his birthday, or begetting of God, by whose special power and providence he was crowned, is not so harsh as some haply would deem it that either know not or consider not that it was usual in other states or kingdoms beside Judah to celebrate two natales dies, two solemn nativities or birthdays in honor of their kings and emperors: the one they called diem natalem imperatoris, the other diem natalem imperii; the one the birthday of the emperor when he was born of his natural mother, the other the birthday of him as he was emperor, which we call the coronation day. The reason might hold more peculiar in David than in any other princes, because he was the first of all the seed of Abraham that took possession of the hill of Zion, and settled the kingdom of Judah, prophesied of by his father Jacob, upon himself and his posterity Thus Ego hodie genuite, with submission of my opinion to better judgment, is a prediction typically prophetical, which kind of prediction, as hath been observed before, is the most concludent; and this one of the highest rank in that kind; that is, an oracle truly meant of David according to the literal sense, and yet fulfilled of Christ, the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead, both according to the most exquisite literal and the mystical and principally intended sense" (T. Jackson's 'Works,' bk. 9. Hebrews 31:6, 7, Oxford edition, 1844, vol. 8. p. 411).] And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son (2 Samuel 7:14); from Nathan's message to David, which has been spoken of above. The words do not in themselves express so unique a sonship as those used in the psalm; but, viewed in connection with the psalm, with their own context, and with subsequent prophecy, they suggest the same meaning. David had formed the design of building a temple; Nathan, by the word of the Lord, forbids his doing so, but tells him that his "seed" after him should build a house for the LORD'S Name, and that the Load would establish the throne of his kingdom for ever." Then comes the text," I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son;" followed by, "If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men ... but my mercy shall not depart away from him And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." Now, there can be no doubt that there was a primary and partial fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, who built the temple after David's death. He took it to himself, so far as it was applicable to him, after his completion of the temple (1 Kings 8:17, etc.). But it is equally evident that its meaning could not be exhausted in him. The eternity assigned to the throne of the kingdom points to a distant as well as an immediate fulfillment, and the word translated "seed" (Hebrew, זֶרַע), though applicable in a concrete sense to an individual offspring (cf. Gem 4:25; 1 Samuel 1:11), is properly a collective noun, denoting "posterity," and thus naturally lends itself to a far-reach ng together with other passages which have been referred to in connection with the second psalm. Thus we may properly apply to this particular passage the view of the meaning of prophecy which has been set forth in general terms above, according to which we must regard Solomon, with respect to the sonship assigned to him as well as to his kingdom and the house which he was to build, as but a type and imperfect realization of a grand ideal to be in due time fulfilled.
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
Verse 6. - And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. The most obvious translation of the Greek here seems at first sight to be, "But whenever he [i.e. God] shall again bring [or, 'bring back'] the Firstborn into the inhabited world, he saith;" ὅταν εἰσαγάῃ denoting the indefiniteness of future time, and the position of πάλιν connecting it most naturally with εἰσαγάγῃ. If such be the force of πάλιν, the reference must be to the second advent; which, however, is not suggested by the context, in which there has been no mention of a first advent, but only of the assignation to the Messiah of the name of Son. This supposed reference to a second advent may be avoided by disconnecting πάλιν in sense from εἰσαγάγῃ, and taking it (as in the verse immediately preceding, and elsewhere in the Epistle) as only introducing a new quotation. And the Greek will bear this interpretation, though the order of the words, taken by themselves, is against it. The "Firstborn" (πρωτότοκος) is evidently the Son previously spoken of; the word is so applied (Psalm 89:27) in a passage undoubtedly founded on the text last quoted. The same word is applied in the New Testament to Christ, as "the Firstborn among many brethren," "the Firstborn of every creature," "the Firstborn from the dead" (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18). And the idea conveyed by these passages may have been in the writer's mind, and intended to be understood by his Christian readers. But for the immediate purpose of his argument he may be supposed to refer only to this designation as applied in the Old Testament to the SON already spoken cf. Thus the meaning may be, "But, again, with reference to the time when he shall introduce this SON, the Firstborn, into our inhabited world, he speaks thus of the angels." Or it may be, "But whenever he shall bring a second time into the world the Firstborn who has already once appeared, he speaks thus of the angels." But the first meaning seems more suitable to the general context. The force of the writer's argument is the same, whichever view we take; the point being that, at the time of the advent of the So, whatever advent may be meant, the angels appear only as attendant worshippers. As to the understood nominative to "saith," we may suppose it to be "God," as in ver. 5. But it is to be observed that λέγει, without an expressed nominative, is a usual formula for introducing a scriptural quotation. The question remains - What is the text quoted, and how can it be understood as bearing the meaning here assigned to it? In the Hebrew Bible we find nothing like it, except in Psalm 97:7, "Worship him, all ye gods," A.V.; where the LXX. has προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ. But in Deuteronomy 32:43 we find in the LXX., though not in the Masoretic text, καὶπροσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ: the very words, including the introductory καὶ, which are quoted. Hence, the quotations in this Epistle being mainly from the LXX., we may conclude that this is the text referred to. It occurs towards the end of the Song of Moses, in connection with its concluding picture of the LORD'S final triumph, in which the nations are called upon to rejoice with his people, when he would avenge the blood of his servants, and render vengeance to his adversaries, and make atonement for (Greek, ἐκκαθαριεῖ) his land and for his people. Viewed in the light of later prophecy, this triumph is identified with that of the Messiah's kingdom, and is therefore that of the time of bringing "the Firstborn into the world." cf. Romans 15:10, where "Rejoice, ye Gentiles," etc., from the same passage, is applied to the time of Christ. It is no objection to the quotation that, as it stands in the Epistle, "the Firstborn," though not mentioned in the original, seems to be regarded as the object of the angels' worship. The passage is simply cited as it stands, the reader being left to draw his own inference; and the main point of it is that the angels in "that day" are not, like the Son, sharers of the throne, but only worshippers.
And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
Verse 7. - And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. A further intimation of the position assigned in the Old Testament to angels, contrasted by means of μὲν and δὲ, with further quotations with reference to the SON. A difficulty has been felt with regard to this passage (cited, as usual, from the LXX.) on the ground of the original Hebrew being supposed not to bear the meaning assigned to it. Hence the writer of the Epistle is said to have made use of an erroneous rendering for the purpose of his argument. Certainly the context of the psalm, in which God is represented as arraying himself in the glories and operating through the powers of nature, suggests no other meaning than that he uses the winds as his messengers, etc., in the same poetical sense in which he was said in the preceding verse to make the clouds his chariot; cf. Psalm 148:8, "Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind fulfilling his word." If so, there is no necessary reference in the original psalm to angels. But it is to be observed, on the other hand, that the structure of ver. 4 is not in the Hebrew identical with that of "he maketh the clouds his chariot" in ver. 3, and hence, in itself, suggests some difference of meaning. For

(1) a different verb is used; and

(2) the order of the accusatives following the verb is reversed; in both which respects the I,XX. correctly follows the Hebrew. In ver. 3 the verb is שׂום (ὁ τιθεὶς in the LXX.), the primary meaning of which is "to set," "to place," and, when followed by two accusatives as object and predicate, denotes" to constitute or render a person or thing what the predicate expresses." In ver. 4 the verb is עָשָׂה (ὁ ποιῶν in the LXX.), the primary meaning of which, when used actively, is "to form," "to fabricate." It is used of God making the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:7, 16; Genesis 2:2, etc.). When elsewhere, as here, it is followed by two accusatives, one of them (which may come either first or second in order) is found to denote the material out of which anything is formed. Thus Exodus 38:3, "He made all the vessels (of) brass" (cf. Exodus 30:25; Exodus 36:14; Exodus 37:15, 23). Hence an obvious meaning of ver. 4, so far as the mere language is concerned, would be, "He maketh [or, 'formeth'] his messengers [or, 'angels'] of winds, and his ministers of a flaming fire." (Winds certainly, not spirits, because of the context. But here the Greek πνεύματα is, in itself, as ambiguous as the Hebrew רוּחות and was as probably meant to denote winds.) According to this rendering, the meaning of the verse would seem to be that, out of the natural elements of wind and fire, some special agencies are called into being or operation; not simply that winds and fire generally are used for God's purposes. The change of phraseology between vers. 3 and 4 certainly suggests some change in the idea of the psalmist. What, then, are these agencies? What is meant by the "messengers" and "ministers" connected with the elements of wind and fire? The author of the Epistle (and probably the LXX. too, though the words ἀγγέλοι and λειτουργοὶ are, in themselves, as ambiguous as the Hebrew) saw in these words a reference to the angels, who are denoted by the same two words in Psalm 103:20, 21, and who are undoubtedly spoken of elsewhere in the Old Testament as operating in the forces of nature (as in the death of the Egyptian firstborn, the pestilence in the time of David, and the destruction of Sennacherib's army), and seem, in some sense, to be identified with the winds themselves in Psalm 18:10, "He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind;" and in Psalm 35:5, "Let them be as chaff before the wind; and let the angel of the LORD chase them." We say that the LXX., as well as the author of the Epistle, probably intended to express this meaning. It is, indeed, more than probable; for, ambiguous as may be the words ἀγγέλοι and λειτουργοὶ ιν τηεμσελ´εσ, the structure of the Greek sentence (in which "his angels" and "his ministers" are the objects, arid "winds" and "flames of fire" the predicates), seems to necessitate this meaning, which is further probable from what we know of Alexandrian angelology. It may thus well be that, whether or net the LXX. (rendering, as it does, the Hebrew word for word) gives the exact force of the original phrase, it hits its essential meaning, as intimating angelic agency in nature. And the learned Jews of Alexandria, followed as they are by the later rabbis generally, and by the writer of this Epistle, were, to say the least, as likely to understand the Hebrew as any modern scholars. The question, however, is not, after all, of great importance. For let us grant that the writer of the Epistle unwittingly adduced an erroneous rendering in the course of his argument. What then? It is not necessary to suppose that the inspiration of the sacred writers was such as to enlighten them in matters of Hebrew criticism. If it guarded them from erroneous teaching, it was sufficient for its purpose. And in this case the passage, as cited, at any rate expresses well the general doctrine of the Old Testament about angels, viz. that, unlike the Son, they are but subordinate agents of the Divine purposes, and connected especially with the operations of nature. It is to be observed, too, that the quotations generally in this Epistle are adduced, not as exhaustive proofs, but rather as suggestive of the general teaching of the Old Testament, with which the readers are supposed to be familiar.
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Verses 8-13. - Two more quotations from the psalms with reference to the SON adduced in contrast. Verses 8, 9. - But unto the Son he saith. The preposition here translated "unto" is πρὸς, as in ver. 7, there translated "of." As is evident from its use in ver. 7, it does not imply of necessity that the persons spoken of are addressed in the quotations, though it is so in this second case. The force of the preposition itself need only be "in reference to." The first quotation is from Psalm 45:6, 7. The psalm was evidently written originally as an epithalamium on the occasion of the marriage of some king of Israel to some foreign princess. The general and probable opinion is that the king was Solomon. His marriage with Pharaoh's daughter may have been the occasion. The view taken by some (as Hengstenberg), that the psalm had no original reference to an actual marriage, being purely a Messianic prophecy, is inconsistent both with its own contents and with the analogy of other Messianic psalms (see what was said on this head with reference to Psalm 2.). Those who enter into the view of Messianic prophecy that has been given above, will have no difficulty in perceiving the justness of the application of this psalm to Christ, notwithstanding its primary import. Like Psalm 2, it presents (in parts at least) an ideal picture, suggested only and imperfectly realized by the temporary type; an ideal of which we find the germ in 2 Samuel 7, and the amplification in later prophecy. Further, the title, "For the precentor" (" To the chief musician," A.V.), shows that the psalm was used in the temple services, and thus, whatever might be the occasion of its composition, was understood by the Jews of old as having an ulterior meaning. Further, there is possibly (as Delitzsch points out) a reference to the psalm as Messianic in Isaiah 61:1-3, where "the Servant of Jehovah," "the Anointed," gives the "oil of gladness" for mourning; and in Isaiah 9:5, where the words of the psalm," God" (ver. 6) and "mighty" (ver. 3) are compounded for a designation of the Messiah; also in Zechariah 12:8, where it is prophesied that in the latter days" the house of David" shall be "as God." The Messianic interpretation is undoubtedly ancient. The Chaldee paraphrast (on ver. 3) writes, "Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than that of the sons of men." Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. Attempts have been made to evade the conclusion that the king is here addressed as "God,"

(1) by taking the clause as a parenthetic address to God himself;

(2) by regarding" God" as appended to "throne," or as the predicate of the sentence; i.e. translating either "Thy throne of God is," etc. (according to the sense of 1 Chronicles 29:23, "Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king"), or "Thy throne is God [i.e. Divine] for ever and ever." As to

(1), the context repudiates it. As to

(2), it is a question whether the Hebrew is patient of the supposed construction. At any rate, "God" is understood as a vocative in the LXX. as well as in the Epistle, in which the LXX. is quoted (for the use of the nominative form, ὁ Θεὸς, in a vocative sense, cf. Luke 18:11, 13; Matthew 27:29; Mark 9:25; Luke 8:54; Luke 12:32);' and in the Chaldee paraphrase, and all ancient versions, it is understood so also. Probably no other interpretation would have been thought of but for the difficulty of supposing an earthly king to be thus addressed. It is to be observed, however, that the other rendering would express essentially the same idea, and be sufficient for the argument. In either case the throne of the SON is represented as God's throne, and eternal. The only difference is that the vocative rendering makes more marked and manifest the ideal view of his subject taken by the psalmist. For it is most unlikely that a bard of the sanctuary, a worshipper of the jealous God of Israel, would have so apostrophized any earthly king except as prefiguring "a greater than Solomon" to come. It is true that kings are elsewhere called "gods" in the plural (as in Psalm 82:6, referred to by our Lord, John 10:35); but the solemn addressing of an individual king by this title is (if the vocative rendering be correct) peculiar to this psalm. The passage (1 Samuel 28:13) adduced in abatement of the significance of the title, where the apparition of Samuel is described by the witch of Endor as "Elohim ascending out of the earth," is not a parallel case. The word "Elohim" has a comprehensive meaning, depending on context for its precise significance. If vocatively used in a solemn address to a king sitting upon an everlasting throne, it surely implies the assigning of Divine honors to the king so addressed. In this case still more is implied than in Psalm 2, where the King is spoken of as God's Son, enthroned on Zion, the Son being here addressed as himself "Elohim." It may be that the inspiring Spirit suggested language to the psalmist beyond his own comprehension at the time of utterance (see 1 Peter 1:10, 11). It may be added that the ultimate Messianic reference of the expression is confirmed by Isaiah 9:6, where the title El-Gibber ("Mighty God," A.V.) distinctly used of God himself in Isaiah 10:21 (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalm 24:8), is applied to the Messiah. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. In this and the following clause is expressed the important idea that the ideal throne of the SON is founded on righteousness, whence comes also his peculiar unction with "the oil of gladness." Only so far as Solomon or other theocratic kings exemplified the Divine righteousness, did they approach the ideal position assigned to the Son. cf. the latter part of ver. 14 in the original promise, 2 Samuel 7, and especially 2 Samuel 23:3, etc., in the "last words of David." Observe also the prominence of the idea in Psalm 72. and in later prophecy (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:2, etc.). Therefore, God, even thy God. The first "God" here may be again in the vocative, as in the preceding verse, or it may be as the A.V. takes it (cf. Psalm 43:4; Psalm 50:7). Hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. The primary reference is, not to the king's coronation (as in Psalm 89:20), but to unction as symbolical of blessing and joy, connected with the custom of anointing the head at feasts (cf. Deuteronomy 28:40; Psalm 23:5; Psalm 92:10; Song of Solomon 1:12; Matthew 6:17). "Thy fellows," in its original reference, seems most naturally to mean "thy associates in royalty," "other kings;" cf. Psalm 79:27, "I will make him my Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." Or it might mean the companions of the bridegroom, the παρανύμφιοι. The latter reference lends itself readily to the fulfillment in Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, whose παρανύμφιοι the redeemed are; themselves also being, after their measure, χριστοί (cf. 1 John 2:20, 27). But they are also made "kings and priests unto God" by Christ (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10); so that either of the supposed original references may be shown to be typical, if it be thought necessary to find a definite fulfillment of all the details of the address to the theocratic king. The view that in the fulfillment the angels are to be understood as Christ's μετόχοι is inadmissible. There is nothing in the psalm to suggest the thought of them, nor does the way in which they are contrasted with the SON in this chapter admit of their being here spoken of as his μετόχοι. Men, in the next chapter, are so spoken of.
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
Verses 10-12. - And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning, etc. The bearing of this quotation (from Psalm 102:25-27) on the argument in hand is not at first sight obvious; since, in the psalm, the address is plainly to God, without any mention of, or apparent reference to, the Son. The psalm is entitled, "A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD." It seems likely, from its contents, to have been written by some suffering saint during the Babylonian captivity: for its purport is a prayer, rising into confident expectation for deliverance from a state of deep affliction, Israel being in captivity and Jerusalem in ruins. The prayed-for and expected deliverance, portrayed in vers. 16-24, corresponds so closely, both in thought and expression, with that pictured in the latter chapters of Isaiah (beginning at Hebrews 40.),that we cannot hesitate in assigning the same meaning to both. There is, for instance, the looking down of the Loan from. heaven to behold the affliction of his people (cf. Isaiah 63:15); the setting free of captives (cf. Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 61:1); the rebuilding and restoration of Zion, and in connection with this the conversion of the Gentiles to serve the Lore) with Israel (cf. Isaiah 40. - 66; and especially Isaiah 59:19; Isaiah 60:2). These are specimens of the general correspondence between the two pictures, which must be evident to all who have studied both. But the ultimate reference of Isaiah's prophecy is certainly Messianic: wherefore that of the psalm may be concluded to be the same. And thus we have made one step in explanation of the applicability of this quotation to the argument of the Epistle in confirming its ultimate reference to the Messiah's advent; to the final realization of the ideal of the Son, typified by theocratic kings. But we have still to account for the apparent application to the Son of what, in the original psalm, shows no sign of being addressed to him. One view is that there is no intention in the Epistle of quoting it as addressed to him, the phrase, πρὸς τὸν υἱόν (as has been seen) not of necessity implying such intention. According to this view, the point of the quotation is that the Messianic salvation is made to rest solely on the eternity and immutability of God - of him who, as he created all at first, so, though heaven and earth should pass away, remains unchanged. And the character of the salvation, thus regarded, is conceived to carry with it the transcendent super-angelic dignity of its accomplisher, the SON. So, in effect, Ebrard, who dwells on this as one example of the general character of apostolical exegesis, as opposed to rabbinical, in that, instead of drawing inferences, often arbitrary, from isolated words or phrases, the apostolic interpreters draw all their arguments from the spirit of the passages considered in their connection and this with a depth of intuition peculiar to themselves. Other commentators consider it more consistent with both the context and the argument to see, in the Epistle at least, an intended address to the Son. If this be so, our conclusion must be that this application of the psalmist's words is the inspired writer's own; since it is certainly not apparent in the psalm. It by no means follows that the writer of the Epistle foisted, consciously or unconsciously, a false meaning into the psalm. Even apart from the consideration of his being an inspired contributor to the New Testament canon, he was too learned in Scripture, and too able a reasoner, to adduce an evidently untenable argument. He may be understood as himself applying the passage in a way which he does not mean to imply was intended by the psalmist. His drift may be, "You have seen how in Psalm 45. the Son is addressed as God, and as having an eternal throne. Yea, so Divine is he that the address to the everlasting God himself in another psalm prophetic of his advent may be truly recognized as an address to him." Whichever view we take of this difficult passage, this at any rate is evident - that the inspired writer of the Epistle, apart from the question of the relevancy of quotation in the way of argument, associated Christ in his own mind with the unchangeable Creator of all things.
They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Verse 13. - But to which of the angels said he (properly, hath he said) at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? A final and crowning quotation is thus adduced, in the form in which the first quotation referring to the SON (ver. 5) had been introduced, to complete the view of his superiority to the angels. The quotation is from Psalm 110, the reference of which to the Messiah is settled beyond controversy to Christian believers, not only by its being quoted or alluded to more frequently than any other psalm with that reference in the New Testament (Acts 2:34; Acts 7:55, 56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-22; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3, 13, 14; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12, 13), and by the introduction of its language into the Church's earliest Creeds, but also by the authority of our Lord himself, as recorded by all the three synoptical evangelists (Matthew 22:41; Mark 12:35; Luke 20:41). Hence readers of this Commentary will not require a confutation of the arguments of any modern rationalistic critics who have disputed the Messianic meaning of the psalm. Their arguments rest really on their a priori denial of a "spirit of prophecy" in the psalms generally; in their refusal to recognize, what the later prophets recognized, an unfulfilled ideal in what the psalmists wrote of theocratic kings. Let us once recognize this, and we shall perceive in this psalm peculiar marks of the spirit of prophecy, reaching beyond any contemporary fulfillment, not only in the assignment to the King of a seat at the right hand of the heavenly throne, but also in his remarkable designation as a "Priest after the order of Melchizedek," of which more will be said under Hebrews 5. and Hebrews 7. of this Epistle. It is to be observed also how prophets, long after the psalm was written, regarded its ideal as still awaiting fulfillment; e.g. Daniel (Daniel 7:13, etc.), whose vision of the Son of man brought near before the Ancient of days, and having an everlasting dominion given him, is referred to by our Lord (Matthew 26:64) in connection with the psalm, as awaiting fulfillment in himself; and Zechariah (Zechariah 6:12, etc.:, who takes up the idea of the psalm in speaking of the Branch, who was to unite in himself royalty and priesthood. The psalm is entitled, "A psalm of David." Though this title is prefixed to some psalms the contents of which suggest a later date, and is not, therefore, considered proof of authorship, it proves at least the tradition and belief of the Jews when the Hebrew Psalter was arranged in its existing form. But we have in this case evidence in the three Gospels of its universal acceptance as a psalm of David by the Jews in the time of our Lord; and, what is of more weight, of his having himself referred to it as such. The whole point of his argument with the Pharisees depends on the acknowledgment of David being the speaker, as well as of the Messiah being the Person spoken cf. None of the Pharisees thought of disputing either of these premises; they were evidently received as indisputable; nor can it be conceived (as has been irreverently suggested) that our Lord did not thus give his own sanction to their truth. Nor, further, is there in the psalm itself any internal evidence against its Davidic authorship, though, but for the above testimony to the contrary, it might have been the composition of a prophet of David's day, or written by David for use by his people - the term, "my lord," having thus a primary reference to him. In either of these cases we might suppose the original conception of ver. 1 to have been that of David himself being enthroned on Zion at the side of the "King of glory" (Psalm 24.) who had "come in;" while ver. 4 might possibly have been suggested by David's organization of the services of the tabernacle, and by the personal part he took in the ritual when the ark was removed to Zion. Even so, the quotation would answer the purpose of the argument according to the view of the drift of Messianic psalms which has been explained above. But, even independently of the distinct import of our Lord's words, there are reasons (pointed out by Delitzsch) against the supposition of even a primary reference to David in the words, "my lord." Two may be mentioned:

(1) that the assignment of sacerdotal functions to an earthly king is contrary to the whole spirit of the Old Testament;

(2) that God's own throne is elsewhere represented as, not in Zion, but above the heavens. Now, the conclusion thus arrived at, that David himself is speaking throughout the psalm of another than himself, gives a peculiar force to this final quotation, in that the Antitype is distinguished from and raised above the type more evidently than in other Messianic psalms. In others (as we have regarded them) the typical king himself is the primary object in view, though ideally glorified so as to foreshadow One greater than himself; here the typical king seems to have a distinct vision of the Messiah apart from himself, and speaks of him as his lord. It does not follow that David's own position and circumstances did not form a basis for his vision. We perceive traces of them in "the rod of thy strength out of Zion," and in the picture which follows of the submission of heathen kings after warfare and slaughter. But vers. 1 and 4 point still to another than himself whom he foresees in the spirit of prophecy. The psalm begins, literally translated, "The voice [or, 'oracle,' Hebrew נְאֻם] of Jehovah to my lord, Sit thou on my right hand," etc. This sounds like more than a mere echo of Nathan's message, the language being different and still more significant. And that such a vision of a future fulfillment of the promise was not foreign to the mind of David appears from his "last words" (2 Samuel 23:1, etc.), where also the significant word נְאֻס is used. And now, mark what the language of this "oracle" implies - not merely the enthronement of the Son on Zion as God's Vicegerent, but his session at the right hand of God himself, i.e. "at the right hand of the Majesty on high;" God's own throne being ever (as has been said above) regarded as above the heavens, or, if on earth, above the cherubim. Such, then, being the meaning of the "oracle" (and it is the meaning uniformly given it in the New Testament), well may it be adduced as the final and crowning proof of the position above the angels assigned to the SON in prophecy.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Verse 14. - Are they not all, etc.? A final expression, adduced in contrast, of the position and office of the angels, as seen above. The A.V. suggests the idea, not conveyed by the Greek, of guardian angels. The more correct translation is, Are they not all ministering (λειτουργικὰ) spirits, for service (εἰς διακονίαν) sent forth, on account of those who are to (διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας) inherit salvation? The allusion is generally to their office of subordinate ministration in furtherance of the Divine purposes of human salvation; the continuance of such office being denoted by the present participle, αποστελλόμενα.

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