Hebrews 6:16 MEANING

Hebrews 6:16
(16) And an oath for confirmation.--Rather, and of every dispute in their case the oath is an end (is final) to settle the matter.

Verses 16-20. - For men swear by the greater: and of every dispute of theirs (literally, to them), the oath is final (literally, an end) for confirmation (εἰς βεβαίωσιν being connected with πέρας, not, as in the A.V., with ὅρκος). Here begins the explanation of the meaning and purpose of the Divine oath, already cursorily touched on in ver. 13. God thus, for full assurance, condescends to the form of confirmation most binding among men when they promise to each other. They appeal to one greater than themselves to intervene between them. He, having no one greater than himself to appeal to, appeals (so to speak) to his own immutability, and thus may be said to intervene with an oath (ἐμεσίτευσεν ὄρκῳ ever. 17), the verb being neuter, with the sense of "mediate" or "intervene," not, as in A.V., "confirmed it". The reason is not that the Divine promise is not in itself enough, but that God, willing to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, is pleased to grant them this additional confirmation; that by two immutable things (first the promise, in itself sufficient; and secondly the oath, for more abundant assurance), in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong consolation (παράκληησιν, bearing elsewhere this sense, and also that of exhortation, as in Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 13:22; which latter sense is understood here by most commentators as uniting best the drift of the passage with the general notion of encouragement) who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. The course of thought has now passed again from Abraham to Christians, the transition having been prepared for by the general expression, τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας in ver. 17. Indeed, the oath to him was an assurance to us also, we being the final inheritors of the promised blessing. Then finally, in the two concluding verses, the subject to be treated in Hebrews 7. is again beautifully led up to by a natural sequence of thought: Which (so. hope) we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into that which is within the veil; whither as a Forerunner Jesus entered for us, become a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Our hope (ἐλπίς), regarded in ver. 18 objectively, assumes here a subjective sense: it is our anchor east upwards beyond the heavens through which our Forerunner has passed (cf. Hebrews 4:14, διελελυθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς), and, in virtue of the promise and the oath, fixed there secure and firm. "That which is within the veil" (καταπετάσματος, the word invariably denoting the veil in the temple, is the heavenly holy of holies, of which the earthly was symbolical, as is fully set forth in Hebrews 8. This first mention of the veil is an instance of the manner in which, throughout this Epistle, ideas to be afterwards expanded are often intimated by way of preparation beforehand. Instructive in this chapter is the view presented of Divine purpose in relation to human will. The Divine purpose may have been evinced by supplies of grace so abundant as to remove all doubt of the possibility of success; yet through the human will there may be failure: the very Divine oath may have ensured fulfillment of the promise; yet, as to Abraham, so to individual Christians, faith and patience are the conditions of fulfillment. It is evident that the Divine purpose and the Divine promise are all along referred to, not to dishearten any for fear that they may not be included in them, not to encourage remissness in any on the ground of certainty of attainment, not so as to suggest any idea of arbitrary selection irrespective of desert, but simply to incite to perseverance on the ground of assurance of success, if the human conditions are fulfilled. And this is the practical application of the doctrine of predestination found also elsewhere in St. Paul's Epistles (cf. Romans 8:28-39). Predestination and free-will may be to human reason theoretically irreconcilable, though reason, as well as theology, may compel us to acknowledge both. The problem may properly be left unsolved, as among the many deep things of God. But it is of importance to observe how the doctrine of-predestination is practically applied in Scripture as bearing upon human conduct.

6:11-20 The hope here meant, is a sure looking for good things promised, through those promises, with love, desire, and valuing of them. Hope has its degrees, as faith also. The promise of blessedness God has made to believers, is from God's eternal purpose, settled between the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. These promises of God may safely be depended upon; for here we have two things which cannot change, the counsel and the oath of God, in which it is not possible for God to lie; it would be contrary to his nature as well as to his will. And as He cannot lie; the destruction of the unbeliever, and the salvation of the believer, are alike certain. Here observe, those to whom God has given full security of happiness, have a title to the promises by inheritance. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all sinners who flee to the mercy of God, through the redemption of Christ, according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences. We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and stedfast, or it could not keep us so. The free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of this hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Christ is the object and ground of the believer's hope. Let us therefore set our affections on things above, and wait patiently for his appearance, when we shall certainly appear with him in glory.For men verily swear by the greater,.... These words contain a reason why God swore by himself, and why his promises, having an oath annexed to them, ought to be believed. Men when they swear, they swear by the greater; not by themselves, as God does, because there is one greater than they; not by any of the creatures on earth, nor by the angels in heaven, but by God; because he is the God of truth, the searcher of hearts, and who can take vengeance on perjurers: and an oath may lawfully be taken, when it is truth that is sworn to, and is just and good; and in cases of weight and moment; and in what is possible and right to perform; and when it is done with deliberation, in the fear of God, with a view to his glory, and the good of men: for an oath is of a moral nature, what God has commanded, and he himself has taken; it has been used by Christ, and by the saints of the Old and New Testament; and is prophesied of the New Testament saints, as what they should practise; and is a part of religious worship:

and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife; it is used to confirm things that are doubtful, and in dispute; and to put an end to strife and contention; so Philo (o) the Jew says,

"by an oath things doubtful are determined, and things uncertain are confirmed, and what were not believed receive credit.''

The manner in which an oath was taken among the Jews, to which, the apostle writing to such, must be thought to have respect, was this;

"he that swore took the book of the law in his hand, and he stood and swore by the name (of God), or by his surnames; and the judges did not suffer anyone to swear but in the holy tongue; and thus he said, behold I swear by the God of Israel, by him whose name is merciful and gracious, that I do not owe this man anything (p).''

The Hebrew word used for an oath, is of the root which signifies to "fill, satiate, satisfy": for an oath being taken about matters in controversy, not clear but doubtful give content unto and satisfy the minds of men; and the same word also signifies "seven", a number of fulness and perfection; an oath being for the perfecting and finishing an affair in debate; agreeably, when covenants were made by oaths, seven witnesses were used, Genesis 21:28 and Herodotus says (q) as Cocceius (r) observes, that the Arabians, when they swore at making covenants, anointed the stones with blood.

(o) De Somniis, p. 567. (p) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, pr. Affirm. 123. (q) Thalia, l. 3. c. 8. (r) Lexic. Rad. col. 848.

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