God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,…
I. First let us note and consider well, touching this doctrine which we are taught, by Christ — THE CERTAINTY OF IT, WHICH IS FIRST IN THE AUTHOR, WHO IS GOD HIMSELF, EVEN THE SAME GOD OF OUR FATHERS, which so many times and ways spake ever by His prophets; even He, in assured truth, hath also spoken by His Son. Thus giving the authority of the word of Christ to God the Father, that it might be confessed true, and to take away all vain quarrelling of contentious men, who under pretence of the name of God, would easily have disputed against our Saviour Christ, and said: We know God is true, and He spake to Moses, He spake to the prophets; but this man speaketh of Himself, and we will not hear Him.
II. Now, as our Saviour Christ is our certain teacher of undoubted truth, so HOW FAR THIS TRUTH IS TAUGHT BY HIM APPEARETH ALSO IN THE WORDS, "many times," "many ways," "by many prophets," "of old," "to our forefathers." Of all these we must set the contrariety in our Saviour Christ, that God spoke by Him, not many times, revealing His will by measure, now some, then more; but once He has sent Him, filled with all treasure of wisdom and understanding. And before God spake many ways, either by angels, or by the cloud, or between the cherubims, or by Urim, or by visions, or by dreams; but now He hath spoken one way, even by Christ made our brother, with the voice of a man, in the midst of the congregation, plain and evident in all men's hearing, and all variety shall cease for evermore. Likewise before God spake by many prophets; now He doth not so, but hath sent His Son alone instead of all, that all His people should hear him. Likewise those times they are old and past; but the time of Christ's teaching passeth not, but is for ever. And that was to the fathers, men of divers calling, but this is to us all of, one condition.
1. Now let us see the difference here spoken of between our Saviour Christ and all other prophets, what we may learn of them was at divers times revealed, but that which Christ teacheth is reveal d but once. And this is twice after expressly noted by the apostle (Hebrews 9:26; 22:26.) And thus it is which St. Jude saith of the Christian faith, "that once it w is given to the saints"; which once doth mean the time of Christ in earth; for so he saith it was by His Son.
2. The second difference, that the doctrine of Christ is taught after one sort. For though first were miracles, and now none; first apostles, now none: these were but means to confirm the preaching, the Word only was the power of salvation, which is the same it was then. Which because it is but one, therefore it is perfect.
3. The third difference here is, that that was old, and therefore abolished; for it cannot be but that which waxeth older and older must at last vanish. But the testament of Christ, it is still new, yea, through it were from the beginning, yet it is still the same, and the day passeth not in which it was given, but it endureth with the age of man.
4. The fourth difference is in the fathers with whom the first covenant was made, who though they were all called in Jesus Christ, yet was there a difference of their honour, and every one more exalted, as God approached more near unto them. So Abraham and His posterity were a more honourable people than the others before him. So the Israelites that had received the law, and dwelt in the land of promise, had greater blessing than their fathers in Egypt. So John Baptist more than all Israel. But now they that are called of Jesus Christ by His own voice, and in Him crucified before their eyes, have attained a singular honor, and the least of them touching their calling are greater than all patriarchs and prophets. And these all in like precious faith, like spirit, like promises, like covenants, like accepted of God, every man in his own measure of grace.
5. The fifth difference is, that God then spake by His prophets, now by His Son: by prophets, meaning the continual succession of prophets in all ages. For as they were men taken away by death, so it was necessary for others to come in their places: and because no prophet was able to give his grace to other, or of his fulness make other learned in the mysteries of God, but they were all taught of the Lord; therefore they had the credit of their word every one in himself, and none judged by another's gifts. But so it is not with the Son of God; for both He liveth to appoint us teachers still, and of His fulness He giveth all other their continual increase of grace; for which cause now the warrant of all dependeth upon Him alone; and the greatest apostle that ever was hath no other glory but only to be His servant and messenger; for He is that Redeemer whose word must be in the mouth of His seed, and in the mouth of His seed's seed after Him for evermore.
(E. Deering, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,