VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
Have entertained angels unawares (elaqon tinev xevisantev aggelouv). The Greek idiom is, "were not apparent as entertaining angels." The verb elaqon were concealed represents the adverb unawares. For similar instances see Mark xiv. 8; Acts xii. 16; Aristoph. Wasps, 517; Hdt. i. 44; Hom. Il. xiii. 273. Xenizein to receive as a guest, mostly in Acts. In LXX only in the apocryphal books. In later Greek, to surprise with a novelty; passive, to be surprised or shocked. So 1 Pet. iv. 4, 12; comp. 2 Ep. of Clem. of Rome (so called), xvii. To be a stranger or to be strange, once in N.T., Acts xvii. 20. Xenismov amazement, perplexity, not in N.T. LXX, Prov. xv. 17. Comp. Ignatius, Ephesians 19. The allusion to the unconscious entertainment of angels is probably to Genesis 18, 19, but the idea was familiar in Greek literature. The Greeks thought that any stranger might be a God in disguise. See Hom. Od. 1. 96 ff.; 3. 329-370;
17. 485. Comp. also the beautiful story of Baucis and Philemon as related by Ovid (Metam. viii. 626-724). The thought appears in our Lord's words, Matt. xxv. 34-46.
Which suffer adversity (kakoucoumenwn). Rend. are evil entreated. See on ch. xi. 37.
As being yourselves also in the body (wv kai autoi ontev en swmati). As subject like them to bodily sufferings. Not in the body - the church, which would require the article. The expression ejn swmati in the sense of being still alive, only in 2 Cor. xii. 2
God will judge (krinei o qeov). Note the emphatic position of oJ qeov. He will judge and condemn infractions of the marriage-bond, however social sentiment may condone them.
Be content with such things as ye have (ajrkoumenoi toiv parousin). Lit. being contented with the things which are at hand. For ajrkein to suffice, see Luke iii. 14; John vi. 7; 1 Tim. vi. 8. On the compounds aujtarkhv self-sufficient and aujtarkeia self-sufficiency, see on 2 Cor. ix. 8; Philip. iv. 11.
For he hath said ( autov gar eirhken). Rend. for "he himself." God himself. For eirhken hath said, see ch. i. 13; iv. 3, 4; x. 9.
I will never leave nor forsake thee ( ou mh se anw oud ou mh se egkatalipw). Comp. Gen. xxviii. 15; Josh. i. 5; Deut. xxxi. 6. None of these, however, give the saying in the form in which it appears here. This appears to be a combination or general adaptation of those passages. For "never," rend. "by no means" or "in no wise."'Anw from ajnihmi. In Acts xvi. 26; xxvii. 40, to loosen: Eph. vi. 9, to give up or forbear. Somewhat in this last sense here: "I will in no wise give thee up, or let thee go." I will not relax my hold on thee. For ejgkatalipw forsake, see on 2 Tim. iv. 10.
So that we may boldly say (wste qarrountav hmav legein). Lit. so that, being of good courage, we say. Qarrein to be confident or bold, only here in Hebrews. Elsewere only in Paul. The kindred form qarsein is used in N.T. only in the imperative qarsei or qarseite take courage. See Matt. ix. 2; Mark vi. 50; John xvi. 33; Acts xxiii. 11.
The Lord is my helper, etc. From LXX, Psalm cvii. 6 with slight alteration. Here, what shall man do unto me is an independent clause. LXX inserts and: "my helper and I will not fear," and connects the last clause with "fear": "I will not fear what man will do."
7-15. The following passage presents many difficulties of detail, but its general sense is clear. It sums up in a striking way the main topics of the epistle, bringing them all to bear upon the conclusion that Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive, and thus enforcing the warning against a relapse into Judaism. It goes to show, in connection with other features of the epistle, the absurdity of the hypothesis that the epistle was intended as a warning to Gentile Christians against a relapse into Paganism. 246
Who have spoken (oitinev elalhsan). Rend. "spake," and comp. ch. ii. 3, 4.
Follow (mimeisqe). Rend. "imitate." See on ch. vi. 12.
Considering (anaqewrountev). Only here and Acts xvii. 23, see note. The compound verb means to observe attentively. The simple verb qewrein implies a spiritual or mental interest in the object. See on John i. 18. The end of their conversation (thn ekbasin thv anastrofhv). Ekbasiv only here and 1 Cor. x. 13 (note). It means outcome or issue. See Wisd. viii. 8. In 1 Cor. x. 13, way out. Comp. Wisd. ii.
17. Anastrofh is life in intercourse with men. See on 1 Pet. i. 15. Conversation, in the older sense of that word, is a good rendering, as it is also a nearly literal rendering of the Greek word. The reference is to the end of their life; what kind of an end they made; possibly, but not necessarily, with an allusion to cases of martyrdom. What, now, was the subject of these teachers' faith which is commended to imitation? It is stated in the next verse.
With divers and strange doctrines (didacaiv poikilaiv kai xenaiv). For "doctrines" rend. "teachings." These teachings represent various phases of one radical error - the denial of Jesus's messiahship and of his messianic economy as superseding Judaism and all other means of salvation. Among them the writer's mind would naturally turn to the prescriptions concerning clean and unclean meats and sacrificial festivals. See next clause. These teachings were various as contrasted with the one teaching of the gospel; they were strange as they differed from that teaching. Comp. Gal. i. 6-9. For poikilaiv see on 2 Tim. iii. 16. That the heart be established (bebaiousqai thn kardian). There is an emphasis on heart as well as on grace. These strange teachings all emphasized externalism, in contrast with Christianity, which insisted upon the purification of the heart and conscience. The contrast is strongly stated in ch. ix. 9, 14, and the Epistle constantly directs the readers to the heart as the true point of contact with God, and the source of all departures from him. See ch. iii. 8, 10, 12, 15; iv. 7, 12; viii. 10; especially x. 22. Hence, the writer says, "it is good that the solid basis of your assurance before God be in the heart, purged from an evil conscience, so that you can draw near to God with a firmly-established confidence, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith": ch. x. 22; comp. 1 Thessalonians iii. 13; 2 Tim. ii. 22.
With grace, not with meats ( cariti ou brwmasin). The heart is the proper seat of the work of grace. Free grace is the motive-power of Christ's sacrifice (2 Cor. viii. 9; Gal. i. 15); it is behind the blood of the new covenant, and is the energetic principle of its saving operation. See Rom. v. 2, 15; 1 Cor. xv. 10; Eph. ii. 5, 7, 8; 2 Thessalonians ii. 16; Heb. ii. 9; iv. 16; x. 29. With meats stands for the whole system of ceremonial observances, in contrast with grace, working on the heart. See ch. ix. 10. This ceremonial system yielded no permanent benefit to those who lived under it. See ch. vii. 25; ix. 9, 13, 14; x. 1, 2, 4. Which have not profited them that have been occupied therein ( en oiv ouk wfelhqhsan oi peripatountev). Lit. in the which they who walked were not profited. Peripatein to walk about is often used to express habitual practice or general conduct of life. See Rom. vi. 4; 2 Corinthians x. 3; Eph. ii. 10; Col. iii. 7; iv. 5.
We have an altar (ecomen qusiasthrion). It is a mistake to try to find in the Christian economy some specific object answering to altar - either the cross, or the eucharistic table, or Christ himself. Rather the ideas of approach to God, - sacrifice, atonement, pardon and acceptance, salvation, - are gathered up and generally represented in the figure of an altar, even as the Jewish altar was the point at which all these ideas converged. The application in this broader and more general sense is illustrated by Ignatius: "If one be not within the altar (ejntov tou qusiasthriou the sacred precinct), he lacketh the bread of God.... Whosoever, therefore, cometh not to the congregation (epi to auto), he doth thereby show his pride, and hath separated himself," Eph. 5. Ignatius here uses the word, not of a literal altar, but of the church. Comp. Trall. 7. Again: "Hasten to come together as to one temple, even God; to one altar, even to one Jesus Christ," Magn. 7.
Of which - to eat (ex ou - fagein). The foundation of the figure is the sacrifice of the peace or thank-offering, in which the worshippers partook of the sacrifice. See Lev. vii. 29-35; Deut. xii. 6; xxvii. 7. The peace-offerings were either public or private. The two lambs offered every year at Pentecost (Lev. xxiii. 19) were a public offering, and their flesh was eaten only by the officiating priests, and within the holy place. The other public peace-offerings, after the priests had received their share, were eaten by the offerers themselves. Jehovah thus condescended to be the guest of his worshippers. The large scale on which such festivals were sometimes celebrated is illustrated in 1 Kings vii. 63. In private peace-offerings, the breast of the victim belonged to the Lord, who gave it to the priests (Lev. vii. 30), and the right shoulder was given directly to the priests by Israel (Lev. vii. 32). After the ritual of waving, the entrails were consumed, and the rest was eaten by the priest or the worshippers and their invited guests, among whom were specially included the poor and the Levites.
Right (exousian). See on John i. 12.
Which serve the tabernacle (oi th skhnh latreuontev). This does not mean the priests only, but the worshippers also. Skhnh tabernacle is used figuratively for the whole ceremonial economy. A reference to the priests alone is entirely foreign to the context, and to the whole drift of the discussion which contrasts the privileges of Christians at large (we) with those of Israel at large. The writer is speaking in the present tense, of institutions in operation in his own time, to which tabernacle, in any other than a figurative sense, would be inappropriate. Moreover, latreuein to serve is used throughout the N.T., with the single exception of Hebrews viii. 5, of the service of the worshipper and not of the priest.
Without the camp (exw thv parembolhv). Burning without the camp was also required in the case of victims offered at the consecration of the priests, Exod. xxix. 14; at the sin-offering for the priest, Lev. iv. 11, 12; and at the sin-offering for the congregation, Lev. iv. 21. For parembolh camp, see on Acts xxi. 34.
With his own blood ( dia tou idiou aimatov). In contrast with the blood of animal-sacrifices. Comp. ch. ix. 12, 28.
Suffered (epaqen). Used of Christ in Hebrews, 1st Peter, and Acts, but not in Paul, who, however, has paqhmata tou Cristou sufferings of Christ, 2 Cor. i. 5; Philip. iii. 10 (autou).
Without the gate (exw thv pulhv). Gate is substituted for camp (ver. 11), as more appropriate to a city.
The course of thought in vers. 9-14 is as follows: Be not carried away with divers and strange teachings, for example, those concerning meats and drinks and sacrificial feasts. It is good that the heart be established, rather than that the body should be ceremonially pure; and that the heart be established by the grace of God in Christ, which alone can give inward peace, a pure conscience, an established rest and security - rather than by the consciousness of having partaken of meats ceremonially clean: for those whose religious life was under the regimen of this ceremonial system derived no permanent profit from it. Not only so, the two systems exclude each other. You cannot hold by the Levitical system and enjoy the blessings of Christian salvation. It is the sacrifice of Christ through which you become partakers of grace. It is impossible to obtain grace through meats; for meats represent the economy which denies Christ; and, by seeking establishment through meats, you exclude yourselves from the economy which is the only vehicle of grace.
Accordingly, we have an altar and a sacrifice from which the votary of Leviticalism is excluded. By the Levitical law it was forbidden to eat the flesh of the victim offered on the Great Day of Atonement; so that, if the Levitical law still holds for you, you cannot partake of the Christian's atoning victim. The law under which you are prohibits you. According to that law, there is nothing to eat of in an atoning sacrifice, since the body of the victim is burned. Neither priest nor people have anything more to do with it, and, therefore, it is carried outside of the camp or city, outside of the region of O.T. covenant-fellowship. Similarly, so long as you hold by Judaism, participation in Christ's atoning sacrifice is impossible for you. It is outside your religious sphere, like the body of the victim outside the gate. You cannot eat of our altar.
The blood of the Levitical victim was carried into the holy of holies and remained there. If you seek the benefit of that blood, it must be within the camp, at the Levitical tabernacle or temple. And you cannot have the benefit of Christ's blood, for that compels you to go outside the gate, where he suffered. According to the O.T. law, you could partake of the benefit of the blood, but you could not eat of the body. Christ's sacrifice gives you both body and blood as spiritual food; but these you must seek outside of Judaism. Thus, by means of the O.T. ritual itself, it is shown that the Jewish and the Christian systems exclude each other. Christ must be sought outside of the Jewish pale.
The sacrifice of praise ( qusian ainesewv). The Levitical term for a thank-offering. See LXX, Lev. vii. 2, 3, 5; 2 Chron. xxix. 31; xxxiii. 16; Psalm xlix. 14, 23; cvi. 22; cxv. 8. Ainesiv praise, N.T.o . Often in LXX,o Class. For "the sacrifice" rend. "a sacrifice." The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to take the place of the animal sacrifice. For the emphasis on thanksgiving in N.T. see Eph. v. 20; Col. i. 12; 1 Thessalonians v. 18. The Rabbins had a saying, "in the future time all sacrifices shall cease; but praises shall not cease." Philo says: "They offer the best sacrifice who glorify with hymns the savior and benefactor, God." That is the fruit of our lips (toutestin karpon ceilewn). Omit our. From LXX of Hos. xiv. 3, where the Hebrew reads, "we will account our lips as calves" (offered in sacrifice). Comp. Isa. lvii. 19. Giving thanks to his name (omologountwn tw onomati autou). The phrase N.T.o , o LXX. Rend. "of lips which make confession to his name."
With grief (stenazontev). Lit. groaning. See Rom. viii. 23, 2 Corinthians v. 2, 4; Jas. v. 9.
Unprofitable (alusitelev). N.T.o , o LXX. From aj not, and lusitelhv paying for expenses. Hence, what does not pay; unprofitable.
I may be restored to you (apokatastaqw umin). Not implying imprisonment, but enforced absence through sickness or other cause.
Who brought again from the dead (o anagagwn ek nekrwn). The only direct reference in the epistle to the resurrection of Christ. Ch. vi. 2 refers to the resurrection of the dead generally. Anagein of raising the dead, only Rom. x. 7. Rend. "brought up," and comp. Wisd. xvi. 13. Ana in this compound, never in N.T. in the sense of again. See on Luke viii. 22; Acts xii. 4; xvi. 34; xxvii. 3. The verb often as a nautical termt to bring a vessel up from the land to the deep water; to put to sea.
That great shepherd of the sheep ( ton poimena twn probatwn ton megan). The Greek order is, "the shepherd of the sheep the great (shepherd)." Comp. John x. 2, 11, 14; 1 Pet. ii. 25, and see Isa. lxiii. 11. Of God, Ezekiel 34.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant (en aimati diaqhkhv aiwniou). Rend. "in the blood of an eternal covenant." See Zechariah ix. 11. The phrase eternal covenant N.T.o . Common in LXX; see Genesis ix. 16; xvii. 19; Lev. xxiv. 8; 2 Sam. xxiii. 5; Jer. xxxix. 40; Ezek. xvi. 60. Const. with the great shepherd of the sheep. It may be granted that the raising of Christ from the dead, viewed as the consummation of the plan of salvation, was in the sphere of the blood of the covenant; nevertheless, the covenant is nowhere in the N.T. associated with the resurrection, but frequently with death, especially in this epistle. See Matt. xxvi. 28; Luke xxii. 20; Heb. ix. 15, 16, 17, 20. The connection of the blood of the covenant with Christ's pastoral office gives a thoroughly scriptural sense, and one which exactly fits into the context. Christ becomes the great shepherd solely through the blood of the covenant. Comp. Acts xx. 28. Through this is brought about the new relation of the church with God described in ch. viii. 10 ff. This tallies perfectly with the conception of "the God of peace"; and the great Shepherd will assert the power of the eternal covenant of reconciliation and peace by perfecting his flock in every good work to do his will, working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight. With this agree Jer. l. 5, 19; Ezek. xxxiv. 25, and the entire chapter, see especially vers. 12-15, 23, 31. In these verses the Shepherd of the Covenant appears as guiding, tending his flock, and leading them into fair and safe pastures. Comp. Isa. lxiii. 11-14, and Apoc. vii. 17, see note on poimanei shall shepherd. En aimati "in the blood," is in virtue of, or in the power of the blood.
In every good work (en panti agaqw). A.V. follows T.R. ergw work. Rend. "in every good thing."
To do his will (eiv to poihsai to qelhma autou). To the end that you do, etc.
Working in you ( poiwn en hmin). Rend. "in us." A.V. follows T.R. uJmin you. For "working" rend. "doing." The word plays on poihsai to do. "Make you perfect to do his will, he doing in us what is well-pleasing in his sight."
That which is well-pleasing in his sight (to auareston enwpion autou). Comp. Eph. v. 10. The phrase N.T.o . Euareston usually with the simple dative, as Rom. xii. 1; xiv. 8; Eph. v. 10; Philippians iv. 18. Comp. 1 John iii. 22.
I have written a letter unto you ( epesteila umin). A.V. supplies a letter. Rend. "I have written unto you." The verb only here, Acts xv. 20; xxi. 25. Lit. to send, not letters only. Sometimes with ejpistolai or ejpistolav letters added, as Neh. vi. 19; 1 Macc. xii. 7. In N.T. always of sending a letter.
In a few words (dia bracewn). There is a suggestion of apology. Do not grow impatient. The letter is short. The phrase N.T.o , but comp. dij ojligwn, 1 Pet. v. 12, and ejn ojligw briefly, Eph. iii. 3.
Set at liberty (apolelumenon). Nothing is known of the fact referred to. Apoluein of releasing from confinement, Matt. xxvii. 15; John xix. 10; Acts iii. 13; iv. 21, 23; v. 40.