Hebrews 2:4 MEANING

Hebrews 2:4
(4) God also bearing them witness.--That is, bearing witness with them to the truth they preached. Mark 16:20 is a striking parallel; see also Acts 4:30. The divine attestation was given by miracles and by "gifts" (literally, distributions, as in the margin; see 1 Corinthians 12:11) "of the Holy Ghost." We have here, as in Acts 2:22 and 2 Corinthians 12:12 (see the Notes), the full threefold description of miracles, as "signs" and "wonders" and "powers"; as wonderful works that are wrought by divine power, and are thus signs of the divine presence and symbols of a corresponding spiritual work. The words here used are illustrated especially by 2 Corinthians 12:12, in its reference to miracles as attesting the apostolic preaching. But yet "greater works" (John 14:12) were wrought by the messengers of Christ, in that through them were bestowed the gifts of the Spirit. The last words, "according to His will," bring us back to the first words of the section (Hebrews 1:1); as it is God who speaks to men in His Son, it is He who works with those who proclaim the word that they have heard, attesting their message by gifts according to His will.

Verse 4. - God also bearing them witness; rather, God attesting with them. The word is συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος, a double compound, meaning to attest jointly with others. The idea is that the hearers of "the Lord" testified, and God attested their testimony by the signs that accompanied their ministry. The passage is instructive as expressing the grounds of acceptance of the gospel. Its truth was already "confirmed" to believers by the testimony of unimpeachable witnesses to that which, so attested, carried with it its own evidence. But the signs attending the apostolic ministry were granted for further attestation. Thus "signs and wonders," the craving for which as a condition of belief was so condemned by our Lord, have their true evidential value assigned them. They did not furnish the original basis of belief, which rested on Christ himself, his Person. and his work, as unimpeachably attested. They came in only as suitable accompaniments of a Divine dispensation, and as additional confirmations. The apologists of the last generation were given to rest the evidence of Christianity too exclusively on miracles. The tendency of the present age is to dwell rather on its internal evidence, and, so far as it can be done, to explain away the miracles. They are not to be explained away, having been, as has been said, fitting accompaniments and confirmations of such a dispensation as the gospel was. But to us, as well as to those early believers, they are not the first or main ground of our belief. To us, as re them, Christ and his gospel, testified to as they are by" them that heard," are their own sufficient evidence. Indeed, the cogency of the "signs" in the way of evidence is less now than formerly, since they too have now passed into the category of things that rest on testimony. The evidential counterpart to them in our case is the continued attestation which God gives to the gospel in its living power on the souls of men, and its results in the world before our eyes. It is thus that our faith is strengthened in "the salvation at first spoken through the Lord, and confirmed to us by them that heard." Four expressions are used for the miraculous accompaniments of the first preaching of the gospel, denoting, apparently, not so much different classes of miracles, as different ways of regarding them. They were

(1) signs (σημεῖα), attesting the truth of what was preached;

(2) wonders (τέρατα), something out of the common course of things, arresting attention;

(3) diverse powers (ποικίλαι δυνάμεις), varying manifestations of a Divine power at work;

(4) distributions of the Holy Ghost (Πνευμάτος ἁγίου μερισμοί), gifts of the Spirit to individual Christians apportioned variously - the last expression having especial reference to the χαρίσματα of the apostolic Church, so often alluded to in St. Paul's Epistles. The phrase, with that which follows, according to his own will, is peculiarly Pauline, and confirms the conclusion that the writer, though not necessarily St. Paul himself, was at any rate one of the circle influenced by his teaching.

2:1-4 Christ being proved to be superior to the angels, this doctrine is applied. Our minds and memories are like a leaky vessel, they do not, without much care, retain what is poured into them. This proceeds from the corruption of our nature, temptations, worldly cares, and pleasures. Sinning against the gospel is neglect of this great salvation; it is a contempt of the saving grace of God in Christ, making light of it, not caring for it, not regarding either the worth of gospel grace, or the want of it, and our undone state without it. The Lord's judgments under the gospel dispensation are chiefly spiritual, but are on that account the more to be dreaded. Here is an appeal to the consciences of sinners. Even partial neglects will not escape rebukes; they often bring darkness on the souls they do not finally ruin. The setting forth the gospel was continued and confirmed by those who heard Christ, by the evangelists and apostles, who were witnesses of what Jesus Christ began both to do and to teach; and by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, qualified for the work to which they were called. And all this according to God's own will. It was the will of God that we should have sure ground for our faith, and a strong foundation for our hope in receiving the gospel. Let us mind this one thing needful, and attend to the Holy Scriptures, written by those who heard the words of our gracious Lord, and were inspired by his Spirit; then we shall be blessed with the good part that cannot be taken away.God also bearing them witness,.... The apostles of Christ; God testifying to their mission and commission, and the truth of the doctrine they preached:

both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles; such as taking up serpents without hurt, healing the sick, causing the lame to walk, and raising the dead, and casting out devils, and the like; all which were for the confirmation of the Gospel preached by them: a sign, wonder, or miracle, for these signify the same thing, is a marvellous work done before men, by the power of God, to confirm a divine truth; God is the sole author of miracles; and they were done in the first ages of Christianity, when they were necessary, to give evidence of the truth of it, and to establish men in it; and these were various, as before observed: and gifts of the Holy Ghost; such as besides gifts of healing and working miracles, gifts of foretelling things to come, discerning of spirits, speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, 1 Corinthians 12:8 according to his own will; either according to the will of God, who bore testimony by these miracles and gifts; or according to the will of the Holy Spirit, who distributed them to men severally as he pleased, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

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