VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
PREVIOUS - NEXT CHAPTER - INDEX
Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The opening words of this chapter illustrate the writers habit of introducing his practical exhortations into the body of his argument, unlike Paul, who defers them until the end. Comp. ch. 3. 7-19; v. 11.
To give the more earnest heed (perissoterwv prosexein). Lit. to give heed more abundantly. Prosecein to give heed, lit. to hold (the mind) to. o P. The full phrase in Job vii. 17. Mostly in Luke, Acts, and the Pastorals. See on 1 Tim. i. 4. Perissoterwv more abundantly, in Hebrews only here and xiii. 19; elsewhere only in Paul.
To the things which we have heard (toiv ajkousqeisin). Lit. to the things which were heard, that is, from the messengers of the gospel. Comp. the phrase oJ logov thv ajkohv the word of hearing, ch. iv. 2; 1 Thessalonians ii. 13. jEuaggelion gospel does not occur in the Epistle, and eujaggelizesqai to proclaim good tidings, only twice.
We should let them slip (pararuwmen). Rend. should drift past them. N.T.o . From para by and rJein to flow. Of the snow slipping off from the soldiers' bodies, Xen. Anab. iv. 4, xi. of a ring slipping from the finger, Plut. Amat. 754: see also LXX, Prov. iii. 21, and Symmachus's rendering of Prov. iv. 21, "let not my words flow past (pararruhsatwsan) before thine eyes." The idea is in sharp contrast with giving earnest heed. Lapse from truth and goodness is more often the result of inattention than of design. Drifting is a mark of death: giving heed, of life. The log drifts with the tide: the ship breasts the adverse waves, because some one is giving earnest heed.
Was steadfast (egeneto bebaiov). Rend. proved sure: realized itself in the event as securely founded in the divine holiness, and eternal in its principles and obligations. Comp. Matt. v. 18.
Transgression and disobedience (parabasiv kai parakoh).
Parabasiv is a stepping over the line; the violation of a positive divine enactment. See on Rom. ii. 23. Parakoh only in Paul and Hebrews, is a disobedience which results from neglecting to hear; from letting things drift by. It is noticeable how often in O.T. obedience is described as hearing, and disobedience as refusing to hear. See Exod. xv. 26; xix. 5, 8; xxiii. 22; Josh. i. 18; Isa. xxviii. 12; xxx. 9; Jer. xi. 10; xxxii. 23; xxxv. 16. Comp. Acts vii. 57.
A just recompense of reward (endikon misqatodosian). Endikos just, only here and Rom. iii. 8. o LXX, quite frequent in Class., but mainly in poetry. The meaning is substantially the same as dikaiov as it appears in the familiar phrase dikaiov eijmiwith the infinitive: thus, dikaiov eijmi kolazein I am right to punish, that is, I have a right, etc., right or justice being regarded as working within a definite circle. Misqapodosia recompense only in Hebrews. Comp. x. 35; xi. 26. o LXX, o Class., where the word is, misqodosia. From misqov wages and ajpodidonai to pay off or discharge. The reference is, primarily, to the punishments suffered by the Israelites in the wilderness. Comp. ch. iii. 16; x. 28 1 Corinthians x. 5, 6.
If we neglect (amelhsantev). Lit. having neglected. Rare in N.T., o P. Comp. Matt. xxii. 5; 1 Tim. iv. 14. The thought falls in with drift past, ver. 1.
Salvation (swthrian). Characterizing the new dispensation, as the word (ver. 2) characterizes the old. Not the teaching or word of salvation, but the salvation itself which is the gift of the gospel, to be obtained by purification from sin through the agency of the Son (ch. i. 3). Which (htiv) Explanatory. A salvation which may be described as one which was first spoken by the Lord, etc.
At the first began to be spoken (archn labousa). Lit. having taken beginning to be spoken. Rend. which, having at the first been spoken. The phrase N.T.o .
By the Lord (dia tou kuriou). Const. withajrchn labousa, not with laleisqai. It is the beginning, not the speaking which is emphasized. Was confirmed (ebebaiwqh). It was sure (bebaiov) even as was the word spoken by angels (ver. 2), and it was confirmed, proved to be real, by the testimony of ear-witnesses.
By them that heard (upo twn akousantwn). We heard it (ver. 1) from those who heard, the immediate followers of the Lord. The writer thus puts himself in the second generation of Christians. They are not said to have heard the gospel directly from the Lord. Paul, on the other hand, claims that he received the gospel directly from Christ (Gal. i. 11).
With signs and wonders (shmeioiv te kai terasin). A very common combination in N.T. See Matt. xxiv. 24; Mark xiii. 22; John iv. 48; Acts ii. 43; 2 Cor. xii. 11, etc. See on Matt. xxiv. 24. Divers miracles (poikilaiv dunamesin). Rend. powers. No doubt these include miracles, see Acts ii. 22; 2 Cor. xii. 12; but powers signifies, not the miraculous manifestations, as signs and wonders, but the miraculous energies of God as displayed in his various forms of witness. Gifts (merismoiv). Rend. distributions or impartations.
Of the Holy Ghost. The genitive is objective: distributions of the one gift of the Holy Spirit in different measure and in different ways. Comp. 1 Corinthians xii. 4-11.
According to his will (kata thn autou qelhsin). Qelhsiv willing: his act of will. N.T.o . Const. with distributions. The Spirit was imparted and distributed as God willed. The hortatory digression ends here. The subject of the Son's superiority to the angels is resumed.
Hath - put in subjection (upetaxen). The word suggests an economy; not merely subjecting the angels, but arranging or marshaling them under a new order. See 1 Cor. xv. 27, 28; Eph. i. 22; Philippians iii. 21.
The world to come (thn oikoumenhn thn mellousan). See on ch. i. 2. For hJ oijkoumenh the inhabited (land or country) see on Luke ii. 1. The world to come means the new order of things inaugurated by the sacrifice of Christ.
Testified (diemarturato). Mostly in Luke and Acts. Only here in Hebrews. In Paul only in 1st Thessalonians. See on 1 Thess. ii. 12. It implies a solemn, earnest testimony.
What is man. The Hebrew interrogation, mah, what, what kind of, implies "how small or insignificant" compared with the array of the heavenly bodies; not "how great is man."
The son of man. Hebrew son of Adam, with a reference to his earthly nature as formed out of the dust. Very often in Ezekiel as a form of address to the prophet, LXX, uiJe ajnqrwpou son of man. The direct reference of these words cannot be to the Messiah, yet one is reminded that the Son of man was Christ's own title for himself. Visitest (episkepth). The primary sense of the verb is to look upon; hence, to look after or inspect; to visit in order to inspect or help. Similarly the Latin visere means both to look at and to visit. An ejpiskopov is an overlooker, and ejpiskoph is visitation. The verb only here in Hebrews, o P., very often in LXX. See on Matt. xxv. 36. Here in the sense of graciously and helpfully regarding; caring for.
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels (hlattwsav). Rend. thou didst for some little time make him lower than the angels. jElattoun to make less or inferior, only here, ver. 9, and John iii. 30. Often in LXX (principally Sirach).Bracu ti, the Hebrew as A.V. a little; of degree. The LXX translators interpreted it, apparently, of time, "for some little time." Although there is precedent for both meanings in both Class. and N.T., the idea of time better suits the whole line of thought, and would probably, as Robertson Smith observes, have appeared to a Greek reader the more natural interpretation. For this sense see Isa. lvii. 17; Acts v. 34. He who has been described as superior to the angels, was, for a short time, on the same plane with man, and identified with an economy which was under the administration of angels. This temporary subordination to angels was followed by permanent elevation over them. Par' ajggelouv. The Hebrew is m'elohim, than God. Elohim is used in a wide sense in O.T.: see, for instance, Psalm lxxxii. 6, where God addresses the judges by that titles and declares that he himself called them to their office and gave them their name and dignity. Comp. John x. 34 and Psalm xxix. 1, LXX uiJoi qeou sons of God, A.V. mighty. The LXX translators understand it, not as representing the personal God, but that which is divine, in which sense it would be appropriate to angels as having divine qualities.
For the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor (dia to paqhma tou qanatou doxh kai timh estefanwmenon). The usual interpretation connects for the suffering of death with made lower than the angels, meaning that Jesus was subordinated to the angels for the suffering of death. But for the suffering of death should be connected with crowned, etc. Dia should be rendered because of. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. Christ's exaltation and preeminence over the angels was won through humiliation and death. For crowned, see on 2 Tim. ii. 5. Exaltation was the logical result of Christ's humiliation (comp. Philip. ii. 9), not simply its recompense (comp. Matt. xxiii. 12; Luke xiv. 11; xviii. 14). He was glorified in humiliation. "The humiliation is only the glory not yet begun." 172 By the grace of God (cariti qeou). God manifested his grace in giving Christ the opportunity of tasting death for every man, and so abolishing death as a curse. The same thought of glory in humiliation is expressed in John i. 14. To be called to the office of "apostle and high-priest of our confession" (ch. iii. 1), an office which involved personal humiliation and death, was to be "crowned with glory and honor," and was a signal token of God's favor. Note John xii. 23, 28; xiii. 31, 32, in which Jesus speaks of his approaching passion as itself his glorification. Comp. Heb. iii. 3. It was desirable to show to Jews who were tempted to stumble at the doctrine of a crucified Messiah (Gal. iii. 13), that there was a glory in humiliation. 173 Should taste death (geushtai qanatou) The phrase is found several times in the Gospels, as Matt. xvi. 28; Mark ix. 1; Luke ix. 27; John viii. 52. See on Luke ix. 27; John viii. 52.
The following statement justifies the bold assertion of ver. 9. With a view to the recoil of Jewish readers from the thought of a suffering Messiah (1 Corinthians i. 23), the writer will show that Jesus' suffering and death were according to the divine fitness of things.
In bringing many sons unto glory (pollouv uiouv eiv doxan agagonta). Const. bringing with him; 174 not with captain, which would mean "to perfect the captain, etc., as one who led many sons, etc." Agagonta is not to be explained who had brought, or after he had brought, with a reference to the O.T. saints, "he had brought many O.T. sons of God unto glory"; but rather, bringing as he did, or in bringing, as A.V. 175 Many sons, since their leader himself was a son. Unto glory, in accordance with the glory with which he himself had been crowned (ver. 9). The glory is not distinguished from the salvation immediately following. For the combination salvation and glory see 2 Tim. ii. 10; Apoc. xix. 1.
To make perfect (teleiwsai). Lit. to carry to the goal or consummation. The "perfecting" of Jesus corresponds to his being "crowned with glory and honor," although it is not a mere synonym for that phrase; for the writer conceives the perfecting not as an act but as a process. "To make perfect" does not imply moral imperfection in Jesus, but only the consummation of that human experience of sorrow and pain through which he must pass in order to become the leader of his people's salvation. The captain of their salvation (ton archgon thv swthriav autwn). Comp. Acts v. 31. jArchgov captain, quite frequent in LXX and Class. Rev. renders author, which misses the fact that the Son precedes the saved on the path to glory. The idea is rather leader, and is fairly expressed by captain.
He that sanctifieth (o agiazwn). Sanctification is the path to glorification. Comp. Heb. x. 14.
Of one (ex enov). Probably God, although the phrase may signify of one piece, or of one whole. Jesus and his people alike have God for their father. Therefore they are brethren, and Christ, notwithstanding his superior dignity, is not ashamed to call them by that name.
Unto my brethren (toiv adelfoiv mou). His brethren in the worshipping assembly. This is applied by our writer to the human brotherhood at large, and Christ is represented as identifying himself with them in thanksgiving.
Will I sing praise unto thee (umnhsw se). Rare in N.T. Matt. xxvi. 30; Mark xiv. 26; Acts xvi. 25. Lit. hymn thee. Often in the Greek liturgies.
Are partakers of flesh and blood (kekoinwnhken aimatov kai sarkov). For kekoinwnhken see on Rom. xii. 13. For flesh and blood the correct text reads blood and flesh. In rabbinical writers a standing phrase for human nature in contrast with God.
Likewise (paraplhsiwv). Rend. in like manner. N.T.o . Expressing general similarity. He took his place alongside (para) and near (plhsiov): near by.
Took part (metescen). The verb only in Hebrews and Paul. The distinction between it and kekoinwnhken were partakers is correctly stated by Westcott; the latter marking the characteristic sharing of the common fleshly nature as it pertains to the human race at large, and the former signifying the unique fact of the incarnation as a voluntary acceptance of humanity.
He might destroy (katarghsh). Rend. bring to nought. See on cumbereth, Luke xiii. 7, and make of none effect, Rom. iii. 3. The word occurs 27 times in N.T., and is rendered in 17 different ways in A.V. Him that had the power of death (ton to kratov econta tou qanatou). Not power over death, but sovereignty or dominion of death, a sovereignty of which death is the realm. Comp. Rom. v. 21, "Sin reigned in death."
That is the devil. An explanation has been sought in the Jewish doctrine which identified Satan with SammaŽl, the angel of death, who, according to the later Jews, tempted Eve. This is fanciful, and has no value, to say nothing of the fact that Michael and not SammaŽl was the angel of death to the Israelites. The O.T. nowhere identifies Satan with the serpent in Eden. That identification is found in Wisd. ii. 24, and is adopted Apoc. xii. 9. The devil has not power to inflict death, nor is death, as such, done away by the bringing of the devil to nought. The sense of the passage is that Satan's dominion in the region of death is seen in the existence and power of the fear of death as the penalty of sin (comp. through fear of death, ver. 15). The fear of death as implying rejection by God is distinctly to be seen in O.T. It appears in the utterances of many of the Psalmists. There is a consciousness of the lack of a pledge that God will not, in any special case, rise up against one. Along with this goes the conception of Satan as the accuser, see Zechariah 3. This idea may possibly give coloring to this passage. Even before death the accuser exercises sway, and keeps God's people in bondage so long as they are oppressed with the fear of death as indicating the lack of full acceptance with God. How strongly this argument would appeal to Hebrew readers of the Epistle is clear from rabbinical theology, which often speaks of the fear of death, and the accuser as a constant companion of man's life. Jesus assumes the mortal flesh and blood which are subject to this bondage. He proves himself to be both exempt from the fear of death and victorious over the accuser. He never lost his sense of oneness with God, so that death was not to him a sign of separation from God's grace. It was a step in his appointed career; a means (dia tou qanatou) whereby he accomplished his vocation as Savior. His human brethren share his exemption from the bondage of the fear of death, and of the accusing power of Satan. "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life." "Whether we live or die we are the Lord's." 177
Subject to bondage (enocoi douleiav). Enocoi from ejn in and ecein to hold. Lit. holden of bondage. See on James. ii. 10. Comp. the verb ejvexein, Mark vi. 19 (note), and Gal. v. 1. Douleia bondage only in Hebrews and Paul.
Took not on him (ou epilambanetai). Rend. he doth not take hold. Comp. Matt. xiv. 31; Mark viii. 23; Acts xviii. 17. Absolutely, in the sense of help, Sir. iv. 11. The Greek and Latin fathers explained the verb in the sense of appropriating. He did not appropriate the nature of angels. Angels did not need to be delivered from the fear of death.
The nature of angels (aggelwn). The nature is not in the Greek, and does not need to be supplied if ejpilambanetai is properly translated. Rend. not of angels doth he take hold. It is not angels who receive his help. The seed of Abraham. The one family of God, consisting of believers of both dispensations, but called by its O.T. name. See Psalm cv. 6; Isaiah xli. 8, and comp. Gal. iii. 29. The O.T. name is selected because the writer is addressing Jews. The entire statement in vers. 16, 17 is not a mere repetition of vers. 14, 15. It carries out the line of thought and adds to it, while at the same time it presents a parallel argument to that in vers. 14, 15. Thus: vers. 14, 15, Christ took part of flesh and blood that he might deliver the children of God from the fear of death and the accusations of Satan: vers. 16, 17, Christ takes hold of the seed of Abraham, the church of God, and is made like unto his brethren, tempted as they are, in order that he may be a faithful high priest, making reconciliation for sin, thus doing away with the fear of death, and enabling his people to draw near to God with boldness. Comp. ch. iv. 15, 16. Christ gives that peculiar help the necessity of which was exhibited in the O.T. economy under which the original seed of Abraham lived. The fear of death, arising from the consciousness of sin, could be relieved only by the intervention of the priest who stood between God and the sinner, and made reconciliation for sin. Jesus steps into the place of the high priest, and perfectly fulfills the priestly office. By his actual participation in the sorrows and temptations of humanity he is fitted to be a true sympathizer with human infirmity and temptation (ch. v. 2), a merciful and faithful high priest, making reconciliation for sin, and thus abolishing the fear of death.
In all things to be made like unto his brethren (kata panta toiv adelfoiv omoiwqhnai). Comp. Philip. ii. 7, ejn oJmoiwmati ajnqrwpwn genomenov having become in the likeness of men. Likeness is asserted without qualification. There was a complete and real likeness to humanity, a likeness which was closest just where the traces of the curse of sin were most apparent - in poverty, temptation, and violent and unmerited death.
It behooved (wfeilen). Indicating an obligation growing out of the position which Christ assumed: something which he owed to his position as the helper of his people.
That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest (ina elehmwn genhtai kai pistov arciereuv). Rend. that he might be compassionate, and so (in consequence of being compassionate), a faithful high priest. The keynote of the Epistle, the high-priesthood of Christ, which is intimated in ch. i. 3, is here for the first time distinctly struck. Having shown that Christ delivers from the fear of death by nullifying the accusing power of sin, he now shows that he does this in his capacity of high priest, for which office it was necessary that he should be made like unto his human brethren. In the O.T. economy, the fear of death was especially connected with the approach to God of an impure worshipper (see Num. xviii. 3, 5). This fear was mitigated or removed by the intervention of the Levitical priest, since it was the special charge of the priest so to discharge the service of the tabernacle that there might be no outbreak of divine wrath on the children of Israel (Num. xviii. 5).Genhtai might show himself to be, or prove to be. The idea of compassion as an attribute of priests is not found in the O.T. On the contrary, the fault of the priests was their frequent lack of sympathy with the people (see Hos. iv. 4-9). In the later Jewish history, and in N.T. times, the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees was notoriously unfeeling and cruel. The idea of a compassionate and faithful high priest would appeal powerfully to Jewish readers, who knew the deficiency of the Aaronic priesthood in that particular. Pistov faithful, as an attribute of a priest, appears in 1 Samuel ii. 35. The idea there is fidelity. He will do all that is in God's mind. Comp. Heb. iii. 2. This implies trustworthiness. The idea here is, faithful in filling out the true ideal of the priesthood (ch. v. 1, 2), by being not a mere ceremonialist but a compassionate man.
In things pertaining to God (ta prov ton qeon). Comp. Rom. xv. 17. A technical phrase in Jewish liturgical language to denote the functions of worship. Const. with a faithful high priest, not with compassionate. To make reconciliation (eiv to ilaskeqai). See on propitiation, Rom. iii. 25. The verb only here and Luke xviii. 13.