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Song of Solomon
Hebrews 4 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left
of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Let us fear, therefore, lest, a promise being still left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short
. This verse is a renewed warning against remissness, based (as is shown by the connecting
) on the preceding argument, but introducing also, by means of the clause,
, etc., a new thought, the elucidation of which is the subject of what follows. The new thought is that the true "rest of God," typified only by the rest of Canaan, remains still for the attainment of Christians. That this is the case has not yet been shown; and hence the clause, "a promise being still left." etc., does not point to a conclusion already arrived at, but to what is coming. The new thought is taken up in ver. 2, and what has been thus intimated in ver. 1 is asserted as a conclusion after proof in ver. 9.
, etc. A different view of the drift of the warning in this verse, main-rained very decidedly by Ebrard, demands attention. It rests on the interpretation of
, which is taken to mean "should think that he has come too late,"
for the promise of the rest, under the idea that its meaning had been exhausted in the rest of Canaan. It may be said in support of this view that such is the most obvious meaning of the phrase; that
in the New Testament most commonly means "think" or "suppose;" that the primary sense of
is that of being behindhand, either in place or in time; and that the perfect
is thus accounted for, whereas, according to the usual interpretation, the whole phrase is unsuitable: why was not
written, if a mere warning against remissness was intended? Further, it may be said that what immediately follows is in favor of this view of the purport of the caution in ver. 1, being an evident carrying out of its idea. Thus the verse is supposed to be not at all a continuation of the previous hortatory section, but rather serving as the thesis of the coming argumentative section, though put in the form of a caution because imperfect appreciation of the view to be now established was at the root of the danger of the Hebrew Christians. Some of them at least did not fully grasp the true character of the gospel as being the fulfill-merit of the old dispensation, the realization of its types and promises. They were inclined to rest in the Law as a revelation to which the gospel was only supplementary, and hence to regard the promised land, the offer of which was before their time, as the only rest intended; and therefore the writer, after adducing the example of the Israelites under Moses as a warning against remissness, prefaces his exposition. of the true rest of God by a warning against misapprehending it. But against this view of the meaning of
there are the following reasons:
suggests rather (like
) a warning against conduct that might lead to forfeiture than a correction of an inadequate conception; and
connects the warning with what has gone before, in which the view of what the true rest is has not entered.
is most frequently used in the New Testament in its sense of "thinking," "
to one's self," yet it has there, as in Greek generally, the sense also of "appearing," "seeming to others;" and certainly, as far as the word itself is concerned, may have this sense here.
, though its primary idea (as of
) is that of "coming after," is nevertheless invariably used in the New Testament to express "deficiency," or "falling short" (cf. especially in this Epistle,
): it is never elsewhere (though capable of the meaning) used to express lateness in time.
, in the sense of "
to have fallen short" (rather than
) is capable of being accounted for. One explanation of it, adopted by Alford, is indeed hardly tenable. He accounts for the past tense by supposing reference to the final judgment; taking it to mean, "
any one of you should then appear [
be found] to have fallen short." But the word
, which, however used, refers, not to what is made evident, but to what is thought or seems, refuses to be thus misinterpreted. It is better to take it as a softening expression. We may suppose that the writer (with a delicacy that reminds us of St. Paul) was unwilling to imply his own expectation of any failure; and so he only bids his readers beware of so living as even to present the appearance of it or suggest the thought of it to others. According to this view, the tense of
is intelligible, the supposed deficiency spoken of being previous to its being perceived or suspected. It is not
to supply an understood genitive, such as "the promise," or "the rest," after
be used (as elsewhere) absolutely, to express deficiency or failure;
in the conditions required for attainment. One view of its meaning is that it has reference to the idea of being behindhand in a race: but there is nothing in the context to suggest this figure.
It is not necessary that ver. 1 should express
the idea of the following argument; it does sufficiently express it in the clause,
, etc.; and it is in the style of this Epistle to connect new trains of argument by a continuous chain of thought with what has gone before (cf. the beginning of
. and 3.). Though there is uncertainty as to the sequence of thought in the several clauses of the following argument (vers. 2-11), its general drift is clear. Its leading ideas are these: The invitation to enter God's rest contained in the psalm shows that the rest of Canaan, which, though forfeited under Moses, had long been actually attained under Joshua, was not the final rest intended. What, then, is meant by this remarkable term, "my rest,"
God's own rest? Our thoughts go back to the beginning of the Bible, where a rest of God himself is spoken of; where he is said to have rested on the seventh day from all his works. Participation, then, in that heavenly rest - a true sabbath rest with God - is what the term implies. Though this rest began "from the foundation of the world," man's destined share in if, however long delayed, was intimated by the typical history of the Israelites under Moses, and by the warning and renewed invitation of the psalm. This renewed invitation makes it plain that it is still attainable by God's people. It has at last been made attainable by Christ. who, as our great High Priest, has himself entered it, and leads us into it if we are but faithful.
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard
For truly we have had good tidings
preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mingled by faith with those that heard it
. The meaning and purpose of the first part of this verse is plain, as is also the general intention of the second; viz. to account parenthetically for the gospel to the Israelites under Moses having failed of its purpose, and at the same time to renew the warning of their example with respect to the gospel now preached to Christians. But the passage is still one of singular difficulty, on account both of the various readings of it, and of the peculiarity of the language used whatever reading be adopted. With respect to the various readings, the main and indeed only important question is between
. The variation between
, being only different forms of the participle, does not affect the meaning. Then the readings
rest on such slight authority, and are so likely to have been substitutions (the latter to make the reading
intelligible), that they need not be considered.
The reading of the Textus Receptus, following the Vulgate, is
μὴ συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστει
the great preponderance of ancient authority (including that of all the uncial manuscripts except
The latter, then, must be accepted as the true reading, if authority alone is to be our guide. But then comes the difficulty of making any sense of it. The only way of doing so is to understand
("those who heard") in the sense of "those who hearkened;" the sense of the passage being "The word of hearing did not profit them, because they were not united by faith with those who not only heard, but hearkened and obeyed." Most of the Fathers, reading
to refer in this sense to Caleb and Joshua. But, if what has been said above be true as to these exceptions to the general unbelief not having been in the writer's mind, such an allusion is highly improbable. Some (Alford, e.g.) take
with no historical reference, but as denoting hearkeners generally. Alford, however, though adopting this as the best solution of an acknowledged difficulty, confesses himself not satisfied with it, as well he may. A very serious objection to either view, even apart from the strangeness of the whole expression if such be its meaning, is that, though the verb
is certainly used elsewhere in the sense thus assigned to it, the whole context here suggests different one. Cf.
γὰρ ἀκούσαντες παρεπίκραναν
: and especially
ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς
, denoting hearing only, seems to have suggested the use of the participle
, to which it would therefore be most unnatural to assign a different meaning. If, then, all devices for making sense of the best supported text prove unsatisfactory, and if the Textus Receptus gives an intelligible meaning, we might surely be justified in adopting the latter, however ill supported. Internal evidence (though great caution should be used in our estimate of it) need not yield entirely to external, nor common sense to authority, in the determination of true readings. But in this case the argument from internal probability has now been strengthened by the discovery of the reading
in the Sinaitic Codex (
). This, then, being adopted, though the expression be peculiar, the meaning is no longer obscure, whether we take
as governed by
. It may be either that "the word of hearing did not profit them because it was not mingled with their faith to those that heard;" or "because it was not mingled by faith with those that heard it." In the latter case the idea is that of the necessity of the spoken word entering the heart, and being (so to speak) assimilated by the hearers through the instrumentality of faith, in order to profit them.
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
For we do enter into the rest, we who have believed
, the historical aorist, pointing to the time when Christians became believers; with a reference also to
in the preceding verse: but the emphasis is on the first word in the sentence,
: "For we Christian believers
an entrance into the rest intended")
even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world
. This seems to be a concise enunciation of the proof, unfolded in the verses that follow, of the true rest being one into which Christians have still an entrance. The idea is that, though God's own rest had been from the beginning, and man had not yet entered it, yet the possibility of his doing so had not ceased to be intimated: it had continued open potentially to man.
For he spake in a certain place of the seventh
on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
Verses 4, 5.
For he hath said somewhere
of the seventh day on this wise, And God rested the seventh day from all his works; and in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest
. Here the argument is carried out. The first passage quoted shows what must be understood by the "rest of God;" the second shows that it still remains open, that "it remaineth that some should enter thereinto." This being the case -
And in this
again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Verses 6, 7.
Since therefore it remains that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached entered not in because of disobedience, he again defineth a certain day, saying in David, after so long a time, To-day; as it hath been before said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice
, etc. The continued openness of the rest, and the failure of the Israelites of old to enter it, are the reasons why a further day for entering was defined in the psalm. But here the thought is suggested that the Israelites had
finally failed, for that, though those under Moses did so, the next generation under Joshua did attain the promised land. No, it is replied; the rest of the promised land was but a type after all; it was not the true rest of God: otherwise the psalmist could not have still assigned a day for entering it so long after the arrival at Shiloh; -
Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Verses 8, 9.
For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day
. The conclusion is now drawn:
There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God
; the true nature of the rest intended being beautifully denoted by the word
, which refers to the Divine rest "from the foundation of the world," while the offer of it to true believers always, and not to the Israelites only, is intimated by the phrase, "the people of God."
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God
For he that is entered into his rest
(God's, as before)
hath himself also rested from his works, as from his own God
. There are two ways of understanding this verse. Its general intention is, indeed, clear. It accounts for the use of the word
which precedes, expressing that the true meaning of "God's rest" is not satisfied by any earthly rest, but only by one like his. The question is whether the verse is to be taken as a general proposition or as referring specifically to Christ. In favor of the latter view is the aorist
translation would be "He that entered... himself also
Ebrard, on this ground, strenuously defends the reference to Christ; and also on the ground of parallelism with
in the first division of the general argument. In the first division (
.) the course of thought was - Dominion over creation has been assigned to man: man has not attained it: Jesus has; and in Jesus man fulfils his destiny. In this second division the corresponding course of drought is - God's rest has been offered to man: man has not attained it: Jesus has; and in Jesus man may enter it. And thus (as has been explained above) the conclusion that Jesus is the High Priest of humanity is led up to by two parallel lines of argument. But the third of the propositions of the second line of argument (corresponding to
in the first) is not distinctly expressed unless it be in the verse before us; and therefore this verse, on this ground as well as that of the use of the aorist, is taken to refer to Christ. On the other hand, it is argued (Bleek, Do Wette, Delitzsch, etc.) that, if a specific reference to Christ had been intended, he would have been mentioned, so as to make the meaning clear; and secondly, that the aorist
is legitimate, though the proposition be a general one. Delitzsch explains it thus: "The author might have written
or (more classically)
: but he has taken up into the main proposition the
, which properly belongs (according to
) to the clause of comparison: whosoever has entered God's rest, of him the '
ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὑτοῦ
holds good in the same manner as of God." And, further, it is to be observed that the Greek aorist may sometimes be put for the present, "to express an action completely determined, every doubt as to its truth and unalterableness being removed" (Matthiae, 'Gr. Gram.,' § 506). In this instance the idea might be - he that has entered into God's rest rested, when he so entered, from all his works, etc. On the whole, it appears that specific reference to Christ is
apparent from the immediate context, or required by the mere language used. Still, in consideration of the general argument, we may take the writer to have meant his readers to understand that it was Christ who
so entered the rest of God, so as to lead God's people into it. That this is so appears from ver. 14,
Ἔχοντες οῦν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν
διελη;υθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς
, which seems to require that preceding link of thought. - Among man's deepest feelings is a longing for rest. Haply in the freshness and ardor of early life not deeply felt, it recurs from time to time, and grows stronger with advancing years. Nothing in life fully satisfies this longing. Labors, distresses, disappointments, anxieties, never allow the desired repose. Few there are whose hearts have not sometimes echoed the psalmist's words, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I flee away, and be at rest!" Many since Job have felt something of his longing to be where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Is there to be no satisfaction ever of this deep human craving? Holy Scripture meets it as it meets all others. It spoke of a rest of God above creation from the beginning of time; it intimated man's part and interest in it by the weekly sabbath which he was to keep with God. But this was, after all, but a symbol and earnest of something unattained. At length a fuller realization of the longed-for rest was held out to the chosen people, and the Promised Land was pictured beforehand in the colors of an earthly Paradise. Forfeited, when first offered, through the people's unworthiness (representing by an historical parable the bar to man's entrance into the eternal rest), it was attained at last. But the true rest still came not. Canaan, like the sabbath, proved but a symbol of something unattained. Yet the old longing for rest went on, and inspired men went on proclaiming it as attainable and still to come. The irrepressible craving, the suggestive symbols, the prophetic anticipations, are all fulfilled in Christ. He, when he had passed with us through this earthly scene of labor, entered, with our nature, into that eternal rest of God, to prepare a place for us, having by his atonement removed the bar to human entrance. Through our faith in him we are assured that our deep-seated craving for satisfaction unattained as yet, which we express by the term "
," is a true inward prophecy, and that, though we find it not
, we may through him, if we are faithful, confidently expect it
, where "
these voices there is peace." There now follows (vers. 11-14) a renewal of the warning of
, urged now with increased force in view of the danger of slighting such a revelation as the gospel has been shown to be; after which (ver. 14, etc.) come words of encouragement, based on the view, now a second time arrived at, of Christ being our great High Priest. And thus the exposition of his priesthood, which follows in
, is led up to.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Let us therefore do our diligence
, so translated in A.V.
2 Timothy 4:9, 21
to enter into that rest, lest any one fall after the same example of disobedience
, which means "unbelief"). It is a question, though not at all affecting the general sense of the passage, whether
ἐν τῷ αὐτῶ ὑποδείγματι πέσῃ
should not he translated "fall
the same example."
has undoubtedly the sense of "to fall into," and is frequently so used in the LXX., and the subordinate position of
in the sentence - between
- is against its being used absolutely as the emphatic word. If so, the meaning will be "fall into the same
the kind of disobedience of which that of the Israelites was a sample. This interpretation of the phrase, being that of the Vulgate, is supported by Alford, Davison, Lunemann; though most modern commentators (Bengel, Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Wordsworth), with Chrysostom, take
absolutely, as in
, Bengel), and
ἐν τῷ αὐτῶ ὑποδείγματι
as meaning, "so as to present the same (
a like) example of disobedience," the
, according to Delitzsch, being the
of state or condition. The warning is next enforced by a vivid representation of the penetrating and resistless power of the "Word of God." The question arises whether "the Word of God" is here to be understood in St. John's sense of the
Hypostatic Word, i.e.
the Second Person of the holy Trinity, who became incarnate in Christ. It is so understood by the Fathers generally; and the fact of this Epistle being tinged generally with the thought and terminology of Philo (whose use of the word
, derived from the Platonic philosophy in combination with Jewish theology, seems to anticipate in some degree, however vaguely, the doctrine of St. John) gives some countenance to the view. But against it are the following considerations: -
Christ is not elsewhere in this Epistle designated as "the Word" but as "the SON." His eternal relation to the Father, though otherwise plainly intimated, is not expressed by this term, as it was by St. John.
The description of the Word,
than any two-edged sword," is not suitable to the Hypostatic Word himself, but rather to the utterance of his power. Thus in
," and in
whose name is called the Word of
," has a "
two-edged sword proceeding out of his mouth." The sword is not himself, but that which "came forth out of his mouth." Cf.
, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked;" cf. also
, "The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Hence, notwithstanding the prevailing view of the Fathers, it seems best to understand the term here as meaning generally the Divine utterance, without definite reference to the Hypo-static Word. It was the Word of God, in this sense, that debarred the ancient Israelites from their rest, and doomed them in the wilderness; it is the same Word which still more, as being uttered in the Son, is so searching and resistless now. True, it is through the Hypostatic Word that the Godhead has ever operated, of old as well as now, being God's eternal utterance of himself: the only question is whether this truth is here intended to be expressed, or, in other words, whether
has here the personal sense in which St. John uses the term. It is possible that the writer passes in thought to a personal sense in the
of ver. 13, where
preceding, rather than to
. But certainly at the beginning of the passage this specific sense does not seem to be suggested either by the context or the language used. Ver. 12. - For living is the Word of God, and powerful (or,
1 Corinthians 16:9
), and sharper than any two- edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Observe how the predicates form a climax. The Word of God is, first,
, instinct with the life of the living God who utters it, itself a living power (cf.
); then, not only so, but also
of its purpose; then, in this its operation, more keenly
than any sword; cutting so as to
through and through - through the whole inner being of man to its inmost depths; then, in doing so,
and opening to judgment all the secrets of his consciousness. This description of the power of the Word of God is given as a reason fur the warning,
etc., "Let us give diligence," etc.;
, if we slight the Word of God, we can have no escape from its irresistible operation; we shall be thoroughly exposed and inevitably judged. The view of the Word of God having a sharply
operation is found in Philo, from whom Bleek cites a series of passages cognate to this in the Epistle. Cf. especially one in the treatise, 'Quis Rerum Divinorum Haeres.:'
ὅς εἰς τὴν
ὀξοτάτης ἀκονηθεὶς αὐτοῦ λογῳ ὅς οὐδεπους
λήγει τὰ αἰσθητὰ πάντα ἐπειδὰν δὲ μέχρι τῶν
ἀτόμων καὶ λεγομένων ἀμερῶν διεξέλθῃ
, etc. And for the comparison to a sword, cf. (as above referred to)
. The true reading of the part of the sentence, "of soul and spirit," etc., is
ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος ἁρμῶν τε
of the Textus Receptus after
being ill supported. The second
, is therefore most naturally taken, and so as to give the best sense, in the sense of "both," not "and;"
the second clause is not to be taken as denoting a further dividing - of the bodily parts as well as of the soul and spirit, but as expressing, by recurrence to the figure of a sword, the thoroughness of the division of soul and spirit. Further, the division spoken of is surely not of the soul
the spirit, as some have taken it. Delitzsch,
, explains to this effect - that in fallen man his
, which proceeded from God and carries in itself the Divine image, has become, "as it were, extinguished;" that "through the operation of grace man recalls to mind his own true nature, though shattered by sin;" "that heavenly nature or' man reappears when Christ is formed in him;" and thus the Word of God "marks out and separates" the
in him from the
in which it had been, "
Then, taking the clause,
ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν
, to express a further process of dissection, he explains by saying that the Word of God "exhibits to man the fact that ungodly powers are working also in his
frame, which has now in every joint and chord and marrow become the seat of sin and death, and so "
on to scrutinize" his bodily as well as his spiritual part," and "lays bare before the eyes of God and before his own the whole man thus described." But the idea of the separation, in the above sense, of the
, even if tenable, is certainly far-fetched, and that of the corporeal dissection supposed is hardly intelligible. Further, the "dividing" of the bodily parts spoken of in the text (whether an illustration or a further process) does not suggest the separation of one part from another, since a sword does not divide the joints or the limbs (whichever be meant by
the marrow, though it may penetrate both. We may explain thus: It is well known that St. Paul divides man's complex nature into body, soul, and spirit -
σῶμα ψυχὴ πνεῦμα
1 Thessalonians 5:23
). His bodily organization (
) is not apparently here under consideration, except in regard to the figure of the sword; the
is his animal life or soul, the seat (so to speak) of his sensations, and of his natural affections and desires; his
is the more Divine part of his nature, in virtue of which he has a conscience, aspires after holiness, apprehends spiritual mysteries, holds communion with God, and is influenced by the Divine Spirit. The idea, then, is that, as a very keen sword not only cuts through the joints dividing bone from bone, but also through the bones themselves into the marrow within them, so the Word of God penetrates and discloses not,, . only. the
too, "piercing through soul and spirit,
[with reference to the illustration used] through both joints [or, 'limbs'] and marrow." Ebrard, taking
in the sense of "limbs" (a sense in which the word is used, though that of "joints" is its proper and more usual one), regards these and the "marrow" as corresponding respectively to the
being understood as "something lying deep in man, the
lying still deeper." Thus as a very trenchant sword cuts through, not only the limbs, but also the marrow within them, so the Word of God penetrates, not only that part of human consciousness which is expressed by
, but also that deeper and more inward part which is expressed by
. But the general sense of the passage is plain enough without our supposing this strict analogy to have been intended. Expositors, in their analysis of the meaning of passages, may often detect more than the author thought cf. On
(translated "a discerner of"), cf.
1 Corinthians 14:24, 25
, where the effects of the Word of God, brought to bear through the gift of prophecy on one without the gift entering into a congregation of prophesying Christians, are thus described: "
is convinced of all, he is judged [rather, 'examined,' 'scrutinized,'
] of all; the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you [or, 'among you'] of a truth." So searching and judicial is the power of the Word of God, that it reaches and discloses the inmost depths of a man's consciousness - discloses them to himself, and, though he should resist, leaves him without escape, exposed and judged.
For the word of God
quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and
a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things
naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and laid open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do
. The main difficulty in this verse is as to the meaning of the word
open"). The verb
(which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament or LXX., but is, with its compound
, not uncommon in Philo and Josephus) has in classical Greek the sense of "seizing by the throat," or "bending back the neck," as in wrestling. And this, with the further idea of "overthrowing" or "laying prostrate," is the prevailing sense in Philo, from whom Wetstein quotes many passages in illustration. Taking, then, with most modern commentators, the sense of bending back the neck as the primary one, we have only to consider what secondary meaning is here to be attached to it. Some take the idea to be that of being thrown on the ground supine, so as to be thoroughly exposed to view. So Bengel: "
, Graece et Latine dicitur pro patefacio. Corpora quae prona jacent vix nuda censentur; nam se ipsa tegunt:
, secundum partes nobilissimas quasque et distinctissimas visui patent." Many (Eisner, Wolf, Baumgarten, Kuinoel, Bretschneider, Block, De Wette, etc., following Perizonius, on AElian, 'Vat. Hist.,' 12:58) see an allusion to the Roman custom of exposing criminals "
," so that all might see their faces (see Suetonius,
17; Pliny, 'Panegyr.,' 34. 3). There is, however, no other known instance of the Greek verb being used with this reference, which there seems to be no necessity for assuming. The idea may be simply the general one thus expressed by Delitzsch, "that whatever shamefaced creature bows its head, and would fain withdraw and cloak itself from the eyes of God, has indeed the throat, as it were, bent back before those eyes, with no possibility of escape, exposed and naked to their view." Many of the ancients (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ecumenius, Theophylact) saw in
a reference to the treatment of sacrificial victims, as being smitten on the neck or hung by the neck for the purpose of being flayed from the neck downwards, or cut open thence, so as to expose the entrails to view. But no instance is known of such use of the word
, the idea of which may have been suggested to commentators by the figure of the sword in the verse preceding; which figure, however, there is no reason to suppose continued in ver. 13, the idea of which is simply complete exposure, introduced by
. The ancients take the concluding expression,
πρὸς ο}ν ἡμῖν
, as meaning "
whom our account must be given,"
whom we are responsible as our judge" - in the sense of
. The A.V. seems better to give the general idea of relation by the apt phrase, "
whom we have to do." Of course,
here has no reference to the Word of God, the recurrence of the word, in a subordinate sense, being merely accidental.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast
- To the interposed minatory warning of the three preceding verses now succeeds encouragement, based on the view, which has been now a second time led up to, of Christ being our great High Priest, who can both sympathize and succor. The passage answers closely in thought to the conclusion of
, and might naturally have followed there; but that, before taking up the subject of Christ's priesthood, the writer had another line of thought to pursue, leading up (as has been explained) to the same conclusion. The
at the beginning of ver. 14 either connects
("let us hold fast") with the
immediately preceding in the sense, "The Word of God being so searching and resistless, let us
hold fast," etc., - in which ease the participial clause
, etc., is a confirmation of this exhortation (so Delitzsch); or is connected logically with the participial clause as a resumption of the whole preceding argument. Certainly the idea of the participial clause is the prominent one in the writer's mind, what follows being an expansion of it. And the position of
suggests this connection. It is to be observed that, after the manner of the Epistle, this concluding exhortation serves also as a transition to the subject of the following chapters, and anticipates in some degree what is to be set forth, though all the expressions used have some ground in what has gone before.
Having then a great High Priest who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
The rendering of
in the A.V. ("is passed
the heavens") is evidently wrong. The idea is that Christ has passed
the intermediate heavens to the immediate presence of God - to the sphere of the eternal
. In his use of the plural,
, the writer may have had in his mind the Jewish view of an ascending series of created heavens. Clemens Alexandrinus,
speaks of seven:
Απτὰ οὐρανοὺς οὕς τινὲς
ἀρίθμουσι κατ ἐπανάβασιν
. Cf. also "the heaven and the heaven of heavens" (
2 Chronicles 6:18
), and "who hast set thy glory above the heavens" (
), also "the third heaven," into which St. Paul was rapt (
2 Corinthians 12:2
). Cf. also
Ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων
τῶν οὐρανῶν ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα
. The conception of the phrase is that, whatever spheres of created heavens intervene between our earth and the eternal uncreated, beyond them to it Christ has gone, - into "heaven itself (
αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανὸν
);" "before the
of God" (
). From this expression, together with
(above quoted), is rightly deduced the doctrine of Christ s ubiquity even in his human nature. For, carrying that nature with him and still retaining it, he is spoken of as having passed to the region which admits no idea of limitation, and so as to "fill all things." The obvious bearing of this doctrine on that of the presence in the Eucharist may be noted in passing. (It is to be observed that "the heavens" in the plural is used (
) of the seat of the Divine majesty itself to which Christ has gone. It is the word
that determines the meaning here.) The designation, "Jesus the Son of God," draws attention first to the man Jesus who was known by that name in the flesh, and secondly to the "more excellent name," above expatiated on, in virtue of which he "hath passed through the heavens." The conclusion follows that it is the human Jesus, with his humanity, who, being also the Son of God, has so "passed through." There may
some think) be an intention of contrasting him with Joshua (
, ver. 8), who won the entrance into the typical rest. But it is not necessary to suppose this; vers. 8 and 14 are at too great a distance from each other to suggest a connection of thought between them; and besides
occurred similarly at the end of
, before any mention of Joshua. The epithet
distinguishes Christ from all other high priests (cf.
τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν
). The high priest of the Law passed through the veil to the earthly symbol of the eternal glory; the "great High Priest" has passed through the heavens to the eternal glory itself. As to
, cf. on Hebrews 3:1. In consideration of having such a High Priest, who, as is expressed in what follows, can both sympathize and succor, the readers are exhorted to "hold fast," not only their inward faith, but their "confession" of it before men. A besetting danger of the Hebrew Christians was that of shrinking from a full and open confession under the influence of gainsaying or persecution.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as
we are, yet
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all things tempted like as we are, without sin
. The power of sympathy (
) of our great High Priest is not adduced to distinguish him from other high priests, but to express, in this respect, his resemblance to them; community of nature and feeling with those for whom he mediates being essential to the conception of a high priest (see ver. 2). The sequence of thought is, "Let us hold fast our confession, not moved from it by the thought of the superhuman greatness of this High Priest of ours, who hath passed through the heavens;
he can still sympathize with our infirmities (
), having undergone our trials."
in the New Testament denotes both bodily infirmity, such as disease (cf.
1 Timothy 5:23
), and also the general weakness of human nature as opposed to Divine power,
1 Corinthians 15:23
2 Corinthians 12:5, 9
2 Corinthians 13:4
). St. Paul seems to have had regard to
in a comprehensive sense - including chronic malady (his "thorn in the flesh"), liability to calamities, "fear and trembling," temptation to sin - when he spoke (
2 Corinthians 12:5, 9
) of glorying in his infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon him. With all human
, of whatever kind, Christ can sympathize in virtue of his own human experience: "Himself took our infirmities (
) and bare our sicknesses" (
ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείΑς
, though he now lives
ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ
2 Corinthians 13:4
). The latter part of the verse corresponds in meaning with
, but with further delineation of the temptation undergone by Christ. The concluding
(best taken in connection with
, which it immediately follows, rather than with
) is not a categorical assertion of Christ's sinlessness, though it implies it, but an exclusion of the idea of sin from-the likeness spoken cf. His temptation was after the likeness of ours, "apart from sin," or "sin except." For similar expressions, though not with definite reference to temptation, cf.
. But how is the exception of sin to be understood? Is it that, though, like us, tempted, he, unlike us, resisted temptation? Or is it that his sinless nature was incapable of being even solicited by sin? Now, the verb
means sometimes "to tempt to sin," as Satan or our own lusts tempt us (cf.
1 Corinthians 7:5
1 Thessalonians 3:5
, etc.); and also "to prove.... to try," "to test faithfulness," as in
1 Corinthians 10:13
, etc., in which sense, with reference especially to afflictive trials, the noun
is commonly used (cf.
1 Peter 4:12
). That Christ was not only subjected to
in this latter sense, but was also directly assailed by the tempter to sin (
), appears from the Gospel record. But here comes in a difficulty. There can, we conceive, be no real temptation where there is no liability to the sin suggested by temptation, still less where there is no possibility of sinning. But can we imagine any such liability, or even possibility, in the case of the Divine and Sinless One? If not, wherein did the temptation consist? How could it be at all like ours, or one through his own experience of which he can sympathize with us? It was for maintaining, on the strength of such considerations, the theoretic peccability of Christ, that Irving was expelled as heretical flora the Presbyterian communion. The question has undoubtedly its serious difficulties in common with the whole subjeer of the Divine and human in Christ. The following thoughts may, however, aid solution. That Christ, in his human nature, partook of all the original affections of humanity - hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like - is apparent, not only from his life, but also from the fact that his assumption of our humanity would have otherwise been incomplete. Such affections are not in themselves sinful; they only are so when, under temptation, any of them become inordinate, and serve as motives to transgression of duty. He, in virtue of his Divine personality, could not through them be seduced into sin; but it does not follow that he could not, in his human nature, feel their power to seduce, or rather the power of the tempter to seduce through them, and thus have personal experience of man's temptation. St. John says of one" born of God" that he "doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he
sin, because he is born of God" (
1 John 3:9
). He does not mean that the regenerate Christian is not exposed to and does not feel, the power of temptation; only that, so far forth as he lives in the new life from God, he is proof against it; he gives no internal assent to the seduction of the tempter; and so "that wicked one toucheth him net" (ver. 18). What is thus said of one "born of God" may be said much more, and without any qualification, of the Son of God, without denying that he too experienced the power of temptation, though altogether proof against it. Bengel says, "Quomodo autem,
tentatus, compati potest tentatis
In intellectu multo acrius anima salvatoris percepit imagines tentantes quam nos infirmi: in voluntato tam celeriter incursum earum retudit quam ignis aquae guttulam sibi objectam. Expertus est igitur qua virtute sit opus ad tentationes vincendas. Compati potest nam et sine peccato, et tamen vere est tentatus."
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Courtesy of Open Bible
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