Hebrews 1:1
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
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God who at sundry times - The commencement of this Epistle varies from all the others which Paul wrote. In every other instance he at first announces his name, and the name of the church or of the individual to whom he wrote. In regard to the reason why he here varies from that custom, see the introduction, section 3. This commences with the full acknowledgment of his belief that God had made important revelations in past times, but that now he had communicated his will in a manner that more especially claimed their attention. This announcement was of particular importance here. He was writing to those who had been trained up in the full belief of the truths taught by the prophets. As the object of the apostle was to show the superior claims of the gospel, and to lead them from putting confidence in the rites instituted in accordance with the directions of the Old Testament, it was of essential importance that he should admit that their belief of the inspiration of the prophets was well founded.

He was not an infidel. He was not disposed to call in question the divine origin of the books which were regarded as given by inspiration. He fully admitted all that had been held by the Hebrews on that heart, and yet showed that the new revelation had more important claims to their attention. The word rendered "at sundry times" - πολυμερῶς polumerōs - means "in many parts." It refers here to the fact that the former revelation had been given in various parts. It had not all been given at once. It had been communicated from time to time as the exigencies of the people required, and as God chose to communicate it. At one time it was by history, then by prophecy, by poetry, by proverbs, by some solemn and special message, etc. The ancient revelation was a collection of various writings, on different subjects, and given at different times; but now God had addressed us by His Son - the one great Messenger who had come to finish the divine communications, and to give a uniform and connected revelation to mankind. The contrast here is between the numerous separate parts of the revelation given by the prophets, and the oneness of that given by his Son. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

And in divers manners - - πολυτρόπως polutropōs. In many ways. It was not all in one mode. He had employed various methods in communicating his will. At one time it was by direct communication, at another by dreams, at another by visions, etc. In regard to the various methods which God employed to communicate his will, see Introduction to Isaiah, section 7. In contradistinction from these, God had now spoken by his Son. He had addressed us in one uniform manner. It was not by dreams, or visions; it was a direct communication from him. The word used here, also, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

In times past - Formerly; in ancient times. The series of revelations began, as recorded by Moses, with Adam Genesis 3, and terminated with Malachi - a period of more than three thousand five hundred years. From Malachi to the time of the Saviour there were no recorded divine communications, and the whole period of written revelation, or when the divine communications were recorded from Moses to Malachi, was about a thousand years.

Unto the fathers - To our ancestors; to the people of ancient times.

By the prophets - The word "prophet" in the Scriptures is used in a wide signification. It means not only those who predict future events, but these who communicate the divine will on any subject. See Romans 12:6 note; 1 Corinthians 14:1 note. It is used here in that large sense - as denoting all those by whom God had made communications to the Jews in former times.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners - We can scarcely conceive any thing more dignified than the opening of this epistle; the sentiments are exceedingly elevated, and the language, harmony itself! The infinite God is at once produced to view, not in any of those attributes which are essential to the Divine nature, but in the manifestations of his love to the world, by giving a revelation of his will relative to the salvation of mankind, and thus preparing the way, through a long train of years, for the introduction of that most glorious Being, his own Son. This Son, in the fullness of time, was manifested in the flesh that he might complete all vision and prophecy, supply all that was wanting to perfect the great scheme of revelation for the instruction of the world, and then die to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. The description which he gives of this glorious personage is elevated beyond all comparison. Even in his humiliation, his suffering of death excepted, he is infinitely exalted above all the angelic host, is the object of their unceasing adoration, is permanent on his eternal throne at the right hand of the Father, and from him they all receive their commands to minister to those whom he has redeemed by his blood. in short, this first chapter, which may be considered the introduction to the whole epistle is, for importance of subject, dignity of expression, harmony and energy of language, compression and yet distinctness of ideas, equal, if not superior, to any other part of the New Testament.

Sundry times - Πολυμερως, from πολυς, many, and μερος, a part; giving portions of revelation at different times.

Divers manners - Πολυτροπως, from πολυς, many, and τροπος, a manner, turn, or form of speech; hence trope, a figure in rhetoric. Lambert Bos supposes these words to refer to that part of music which is denominated harmony, viz. that general consent or union of musical sounds which is made up of different parts; and, understood in this way, it may signify the agreement or harmony of all the Old Testament writers, who with one consent gave testimony to Jesus Christ, and the work of redemption by him. To him gave all the prophets witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins; Acts 10:43.

But it is better to consider, with Kypke, that the words are rather intended to point out the imperfect state of Divine revelation under the Old Testament; it was not complete, nor can it without the New be considered a sufficiently ample discovery of the Divine will. Under the Old Testament, revelations were made πολυμερως και πολυτροπως, at various times, by various persons, in various laws and forms of teaching, with various degrees of clearness, under various shadows, types, and figures, and with various modes of revelation, such as by angels, visions, dreams, mental impressions, etc. See Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8. But under the New Testament all is done ἁπλως, simply, by one person, i.e. Jesus, who has fulfilled the prophets, and completed prophecy; who is the way, the truth, and the life; and the founder, mediator, and governor of his own kingdom.

One great object of the apostle is, to put the simplicity of the Christian system in opposition to the complex nature of the Mosaic economy; and also to show that what the law could not do because it was weak through the flesh, Jesus has accomplished by the merit of his death, and the energy of his Spirit.

Maximus Tyrius, Diss. 1, page 7, has a passage where the very words employed by the apostle are found, and evidently used nearly in the same sense: Τῃ του ανθρωπου ψυχῃ δυο οργανων οντων προς συνεσιν, του μεν ἁπλου, ὁν καλουμεν νουν, του δε ποικιλου και πολυμερους και πολυτροπου, ἁς αισθησεις καλουμεν. "The soul of man has two organs of intelligence: one simple, which we call mind; the other diversified, and acting in various modes and various ways, which we term sense."

A similar form of expression the same writer employs in Diss. 15, page 171: "The city which is governed by the mob, πολυφωνον τε ειναι και πολυμερη και πολυπαθη, is full of noise, and is divided by various factions and various passions." The excellence of the Gospel above the law is here set down in three points:

1. God spake unto the faithful under the Old Testament by Moses and the prophets, worthy servants, yet servants; now the Son is much better than a servant, Hebrews 1:4.

2. Whereas the body of the Old Testament was long in compiling, being about a thousand years from Moses to Malachi; and God spake unto the fathers by piecemeal, one while raising up one prophet, another while another, now sending them one parcel of prophecy or history, then another; but when Christ came, all was brought to perfection in one age; the apostles and evangelists were alive, some of them, when every part of the New Testament was completely finished.

3. The Old Testament was delivered by God in divers manners, both in utterance and manifestation; but the delivery of the Gospel was in a more simple manner; for, although there are various penmen, yet the subject is the same, and treated with nearly the same phraseology throughout; James, Jude, and the Apocalypse excepted. See Leigh.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners,.... The apostle begins the epistle with an account of the revelation God has made of his mind and will in former times: the author of this revelation is God, not essentially, but personally considered, even God the Father, as distinguished from his Son in the next verse; for the revelation under the Old Testament is divine, as well as that under the New; in this they both agree, in whatsoever else they differ: and this revelation was made at several times, at different seasons, and to different persons; and consisted of a variety of things relating to doctrine and worship, and concerning the Messiah, his person and office; of whom, at different times, there were gradual discoveries made, both before and after the giving of the law, from the beginning of the world, or the giving forth of the first promise, and in the times of the patriarchs, of: Moses, David, Isaiah, and other prophets: and this was delivered in various manners; sometimes by angels; sometimes in a dream; at other times by a vision; and sometimes by Urim and Thummim: and this he

spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets; by Moses, and other succeeding prophets, as David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi, and others; who were sent to the Jewish fathers, the ancestors of the people of the Jews, to whom they prophesied and declared the will of God, as they were moved and inspired by the Holy Ghost: and the apostle suggests, by this way of speaking, that it was a long time since God spake to this people; for prophecy had ceased ever since the times of Malachi, for the space of three hundred years; and this time past includes the whole Old Testament dispensation, from the beginning to the end of it, or of prophecy in it.

God, who at {1} sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

The purpose of this epistle, is to show that Jesus Christ the Son of God both God and man is that true eternal and only Prophet, King and High Priest, that was shadowed by the figures of the old law, and is now indeed exhibited of whom the whole Church ought to be taught, governed and sanctified.

(1) The first part of the general proposition of this epistle the son of God is indeed that prophet or teacher, who has actually now performed that which God after a sort and in shadows signified by his prophets, and has fully revealed his Father's will to the world.

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS Commentary by A. R. Faussett

INTRODUCTION

Canonicity and authorship.—Clement of Rome, at the end of the first century (A.D), copiously uses it, adopting its words just as he does those of the other books of the New Testament; not indeed giving to either the term "Scripture," which he reserves for the Old Testament (the canon of the New Testament not yet having been formally established), but certainly not ranking it below the other New Testament acknowledged Epistles. As our Epistle claims authority on the part of the writer, Clement's adoption of extracts from it is virtually sanctioning its authority, and this in the apostolic age. Justin Martyr quotes it as divinely authoritative, to establish the titles "apostle," as well as "angel," as applied to the Son of God. Clement of Alexandria refers it expressly to Paul, on the authority of Pantænus, chief of the Catechetical school in Alexandria, in the middle of the second century, saying, that as Jesus is termed in it the "apostle" sent to the Hebrews, Paul, through humility, does not in it call himself apostle of the Hebrews, being apostle to the Gentiles. Clement also says that Paul, as the Hebrews were prejudiced against him, prudently omitted to put forward his name in the beginning; also, that it was originally written in Hebrew for the Hebrews, and that Luke translated it into Greek for the Greeks, whence the style is similar to that of Acts. He, however, quotes frequently the words of the existing Greek Epistle as Paul's words. Origen similarly quotes it as Paul's Epistle. However, in his Homilies, he regards the style as distinct from that of Paul, and as "more Grecian," but the thoughts as the apostle's; adding that the "ancients who have handed down the tradition of its Pauline authorship, must have had good reason for doing so, though God alone knows the certainty who was the actual writer" (that is, probably "transcriber" of the apostle's thoughts). In the African Church, in the beginning of the third century, Tertullian ascribes it to Barnabas. Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, is mentioned in Eusebius, as quoting from this Epistle, though without expressly referring it to Paul. About the same period, Caius, the presbyter, in the Church of Rome, mentions only thirteen Epistles of Paul, whereas, if the Epistle to the Hebrews were included, there would be fourteen. So the canon fragment of the end of the second century, or beginning of the third, published by Muratori, apparently omits mentioning it. And so the Latin Church did not recognize it as Paul's till a considerable time after the beginning of the third century. Thus, also, Novatian of Rome, Cyprian of Carthage, and Victorinus, also of the Latin Church. But in the fourth century, Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 368), Lucifer of Cagliari (A.D. 371), Ambrose of Milan (A.D. 397) and other Latins, quote it as Paul's; and the fifth Council of Carthage (A.D. 419) formally reckons it among his fourteen Epistles.

As to the similarity of its style to that of Luke's writings, this is due to his having been so long the companion of Paul. Chrysostom, comparing Luke and Mark, says, "Each imitated his teacher: Luke imitated Paul flowing along with more than river fulness; but Mark imitated Peter, who studied brevity of style." Besides, there is a greater predominance of Jewish feeling and familiarity with the peculiarities of the Jewish schools apparent in this Epistle than in Luke's writings. There is no clear evidence for attributing the authorship to him, or to Apollos, whom Alford upholds as the author. The grounds alleged for the latter view are its supposed Alexandrian phraseology and modes of thought. But these are such as any Palestinian Jew might have used; and Paul, from his Hebræo-Hellenistic education at Jerusalem and Tarsus, would be familiar with Philo's modes of thought, which are not, as some think, necessarily all derived from his Alexandrian, but also from his Jewish, education. It would be unlikely that the Alexandrian Church should have so undoubtingly asserted the Pauline authorship, if Apollos, their own countryman, had really been the author. The eloquence of its style and rhetoric, a characteristic of Apollos' at Corinth, whereas Paul there spoke in words unadorned by man's wisdom, are doubtless designedly adapted to the minds of those whom Paul in this Epistle addresses. To the Greek Corinthians, who were in danger of idolizing human eloquence and wisdom, he writes in an unadorned style, in order to fix their attention more wholly on the Gospel itself. But the Hebrews were in no such danger. And his Hebræo-Grecian education would enable him to write in a style attractive to the Hebrews at Alexandria, where Greek philosophy had been blended with Judaism. The Septuagint translation framed at Alexandria had formed a connecting link between the latter and the former; and it is remarkable that all the quotations from the Old Testament, excepting two (Heb 10:30; 13:5), are taken from the Septuagint. The fact that the peculiarities of the Septuagint are interwoven into the argument proves that the Greek Epistle is an original, not a translation; had the original been Hebrew, the quotations would have been from the Hebrew Old Testament. The same conclusion follows from the plays on similarly sounding words in the Greek, and alliterations, and rhythmically constructed periods. Calvin observes, If the Epistle had been written in Hebrew, Heb 9:15-17 would lose all its point, which consists in the play upon the double meaning of the Greek "diathece," a "covenant," or a "testament," whereas the Hebrew "berith" means only "covenant."

Internal evidence favors the Pauline authorship. Thus the topic so fully handled in this Epistle, that Christianity is superior to Judaism, inasmuch as the reality exceeds the type which gives place to it, is a favorite one with Paul (compare 2Co 3:6-18; Ga 3:23-25; 4:1-9, 21-31, wherein the allegorical mode of interpretation appears in its divinely sanctioned application—a mode pushed to an unwarrantable excess in the Alexandrian school). So the Divine Son appears in Heb 1:3, &c., as in other Epistles of Paul (Php 2:6; Col 1:15-20), as the Image, or manifestation of the Deity. His lowering of Himself for man's sake similarly, compare Heb 2:9, with 2Co 8:9; Php 2:7, 8. Also His final exaltation, compare Heb 2:8; 10:13; 12:2, with 1Co 15:25, 27. The word "Mediator" is peculiar to Paul alone, compare Heb 8:6, with Ga 3:19, 20. Christ's death is represented as the sacrifice for sin prefigured by the Jewish sacrifices, compare Ro 3:22-26; 1Co 5:7, with Heb 7:1-10:39. The phrase, "God of Peace," is peculiar to Paul, compare Heb 13:20; Ro 15:33; 1Th 5:23. Also, compare Heb 2:4, Margin, 1Co 12:4. Justification, or "righteousness by faith." appears in Heb 11:7; 10:38, as in Ro 1:17; 4:22; 5:1; Ga 3:11; Php 3:9. The word of God is the "sword of the Spirit," compare Heb 4:12, with Eph 6:17. Inexperienced Christians are children needing milk, that is, instruction in the elements, whereas riper Christians, as full-grown men, require strong meat, compare Heb 5:12, 13; 6:1, with 1Co 3:1, 2; 14:20 Ga 4:9; Col 3:14. Salvation is represented as a boldness of access to God by Christ, compare Heb 10:19, with Ro 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12. Afflictions are a fight, Heb 10:32; compare Php 1:30; Col 2:1. The Christian life is a race, Heb 12:1; compare 1Co 9:24; Php 3:12-14. The Jewish ritual is a service, Ro 9:4; compare Heb 9:1, 6. Compare "subject to bondage," Heb 2:15, with Ga 5:1. Other characteristics of Paul's style appear in this Epistle; namely, a propensity "to go off at a word" and enter on a long parenthesis suggested by that word, a fondness for play upon words of similar sound, and a disposition to repeat some favorite word. Frequent appeals to the Old Testament, and quotations linked by "and again," compare Heb 1:5; 2:12, 13, with Ro 15:9-12. Also quotations in a peculiar application, compare Heb 2:8, with 1Co 15:27; Eph 1:22. Also the same passage quoted in a form not agreeing with the Septuagint, and with the addition "saith the Lord," not found in the Hebrew, in Heb 10:30; Ro 12:19.

The supposed Alexandrian (which are rather Philon-like) characteristics of the Epistle are probably due to the fact that the Hebrews were generally then imbued with the Alexandrian modes of thought of Philo, &c., and Paul, without coloring or altering Gospel truth "to the Jews, became (in style) as a Jew, that he might win the Jews" (1Co 9:20). This will account for its being recognized as Paul's Epistle in the Alexandrian and Jerusalem churches unanimously, to the Hebrews of whom probably it was addressed. Not one Greek father ascribes the Epistle to any but Paul, whereas in the Western and Latin churches, which it did not reach for some time, it was for long doubted, owing to its anonymous form, and generally less distinctively Pauline style. Their reason for not accepting it as Paul's, or indeed as canonical, for the first three centuries, was negative, insufficient evidence for it, not positive evidence against it. The positive evidence is generally for its Pauline origin. In the Latin churches, owing to their distance from the churches to whom belonged the Hebrews addressed, there was no generally received tradition on the subject. The Epistle was in fact but little known at all, whence we find it is not mentioned at all in the Canon of Muratori. When at last, in the fourth century, the Latins found that it was received as Pauline and canonical on good grounds in the Greek churches, they universally acknowledged it as such.

The personal notices all favor its Pauline authorship, namely, his intention to visit those addressed, shortly, along with Timothy, styled "our brother," Heb 13:23; his being then in prison, Heb 13:19; his formerly having been imprisoned in Palestine, according to English Version reading, Heb 10:34; the salutations transmitted to them from believers of Italy, Heb 13:24. A reason for not prefixing the name may be the rhetorical character of the Epistle which led the author to waive the usual form of epistolary address.

Design.—His aim is to show the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, in that it was introduced by one far higher than the angels or Moses, through whom the Jews received the law, and in that its priesthood and sacrifices are far less perfecting as to salvation than those of Christ; that He is the substance of which the former are but the shadow, and that the type necessarily gives place to the antitype; and that now we no longer are kept at a comparative distance as under the law, but have freedom of access through the opened veil, that is, Christ's flesh; hence he warns them of the danger of apostasy, to which Jewish converts were tempted, when they saw Christians persecuted, while Judaism was tolerated by the Roman authorities. He infers the obligations to a life of faith, of which, even in the less perfect Old Testament dispensation, the Jewish history contained bright examples. He concludes in the usual Pauline mode, with practical exhortations and pious prayers for them.

His mode of address is in it hortatory rather than commanding, just as we might have expected from Paul addressing the Jews. He does not write to the rulers of the Jewish Christians, for in fact there was no exclusively Jewish Church; and his Epistle, though primarily addressed to the Palestinian Jews, was intended to include the Hebrews of all adjoining churches. He inculcates obedience and respect in relation to their rulers (Heb 13:7, 17, 24); a tacit obviating of the objection that he was by writing this Epistle interfering with the prerogative of Peter the apostle of the circumcision, and James the bishop of Jerusalem. Hence arises his gentle and delicate mode of dealing with them (Heb 13:22). So far from being surprised at discrepancy of style between an Epistle to Hebrews and Epistles to Gentile Christians, it is just what we should expect. The Holy Spirit guided him to choose means best suited to the nature of the ends aimed at. Wordsworth notices a peculiar Pauline Greek construction, Ro 12:9, literally, "Let your love be without dissimulation, ye abhorring … evil, cleaving to … good," which is found nowhere else save Heb 13:5, literally, "Let your conversation be without covetousness, ye being content with," &c. (a noun singular feminine nominative absolute, suddenly passing into a participle masculine nominative plural absolute). So in quoting Old Testament Scripture, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quotes it as a Jew writing to Jews would, "God spoke to our fathers," not, "it is written." So Heb 13:18, "We trust we have a good conscience" is an altogether Pauline sentiment (Ac 23:1; 24:16; 2Co 1:12; 4:2; 2Ti 1:3). Though he has not prefixed his name, he has given at the close his universal token to identify him, namely, his apostolic salutation, "Grace be with you all"; this "salutation with his own hand" he declared (2Th 3:17, 18) to be "his token in every Epistle": so 1Co 16:21, 23; Col 4:18. The same prayer of greeting closes every one of his Epistles, and is not found in any one of the Epistles of the other apostles written in Paul's lifetime; but it is found in the last book of the New Testament Revelation, and subsequently in the Epistle of Clement of Rome. This proves that, by whomsoever the body of the Epistle was committed to writing (whether a mere amanuensis writing by dictation, or a companion of Paul by the Spirit's gift of interpreting tongues, 1Co 12:10, transfusing Paul's Spirit-taught sentiments into his own Spirit-guided diction), Paul at the close sets his seal to the whole as really his, and sanctioned by him as such. The churches of the East, and Jerusalem, their center, to which quarter it was first sent, received it as Paul's from the earliest times according to Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (A.D. 349). Jerome, though bringing with him from Rome the prejudices of the Latins against the Epistle to the Hebrews, aggravated, doubtless, by its seeming sanction of the Novatian heresy (Heb 6:4-6), was constrained by the force of facts to receive it as Paul's, on the almost unanimous testimony of all Greek Christians from the earliest times; and was probably the main instrument in correcting the past error of Rome in rejecting it. The testimony of the Alexandrian Church is peculiarly valuable, for it was founded by Mark, who was with Paul at Rome in his first confinement, when this Epistle seems to have been written (Col 4:10), and who possibly was the bearer of this Epistle, at the same time visiting Colosse on the way to Jerusalem (where Mark's mother lived), and thence to Alexandria. Moreover, 2Pe 3:15, 16, written shortly before Peter's death, and like his first Epistle written by him, "the apostle of the circumcision," to the "Hebrew" Christians dispersed in the East, says, "As our beloved brother Paul hath written unto you" (2Pe 3:15), that is, to the Hebrews; also the words added, "As also in all his Epistles" (2Pe 3:16), distinguish the Epistle to the Hebrews from the rest; then he further speaks of it as on a level with "other Scriptures," thus asserting at once its Pauline authorship and divine inspiration. An interesting illustration of the power of Christian faith and love; Peter, who had been openly rebuked by Paul (Ga 2:7-14), fully adopted what Paul wrote; there was no difference in the Gospel of the apostle of the circumcision and that of the apostle of the uncircumcision. It strikingly shows God's sovereignty that He chose as the instrument to confirm the Hebrews, Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Ro 11:13); and on the other hand, Peter to open the Gospel door to the Gentiles (Ac 10:1, &c.), though being the apostle of the Jews; thus perfect unity reigns amidst the diversity of agencies.

Rome, in the person of Clement of Rome, originally received this Epistle. Then followed a period in which it ceased to be received by the Roman churches. Then, in the fourth century, Rome retracted her error. A plain proof she is not unchangeable or infallible. As far as Rome is concerned, the Epistle to the Hebrews was not only lost for three centuries, but never would have been recovered at all but for the Eastern churches; it is therefore a happy thing for Christendom that Rome is not the Catholic Church.

It plainly was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which would have been mentioned in the Epistle had that event gone before, compare Heb 13:10; and probably to churches in which the Jewish members were the more numerous, as those in Judea, and perhaps Alexandria. In the latter city were the greatest number of resident Jews next to Jerusalem. In Leontopolis, in Egypt, was another temple, with the arrangements of which, Wieseler thinks the notices in this Epistle more nearly corresponded than with those in Jerusalem. It was from Alexandria that the Epistle appears first to have come to the knowledge of Christendom. Moreover, "the Epistle to the Alexandrians," mentioned in the Canon of Muratori, may possibly be this Epistle to the Hebrews. He addresses the Jews as peculiarly "the people of God" (Heb 2:17; 4:9; 13:12), "the seed of Abraham," that is, as the primary stock on which Gentile believers are grafted, to which Ro 11:16-24 corresponds; but he urges them to come out of the carnal earthly Jerusalem and to realize their spiritual union to "the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12:18-23; 13:13).

The use of Greek rather than Hebrew is doubtless due to the Epistle being intended, not merely for the Hebrew, but for the Hellenistic Jew converts, not only in Palestine, but elsewhere; a view confirmed by the use of the Septuagint. Bengel thinks, probably (compare 2Pe 3:15, 16, explained above), the Jews primarily, though not exclusively, addressed, were those who had left Jerusalem on account of the war and were settled in Asia Minor.

The notion of its having been originally in Hebrew arose probably from its Hebrew tone, method, and topics. It is reckoned among the Epistles, not at first generally acknowledged, along with James, Second Peter, Second and Third John, Jude, and Revelation. A beautiful link exists between these Epistles and the universally acknowledged Epistles. Hebrews unites the ordinances of Leviticus with their antitypical Gospel fulfilment. James is the link between the highest doctrines of Christianity and the universal law of moral duty—a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount—harmonizing the decalogue law of Moses, and the revelation to Job and Elias, with the Christian law of liberty. Second Peter links the teaching of Peter with that of Paul. Jude links the earliest unwritten to the latest written Revelation. The two shorter Epistles to John, like Philemon, apply Christianity to the minute details of the Christian life, showing that Christianity can sanctify all earthly relations.

CHAPTER 1

Heb 1:1-14. The Highest of All Revelations Is Given Us Now in the Son of God, Who Is Greater than the Angels, and Who, Having Completed Redemption, Sits Enthroned at God's Right Hand.

The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those addressed (Heb 13:19). For proofs of Paul being the author, see my Introduction. In the Pauline method, the statement of subject and the division are put before the discussion; and at the close, the practical follows the doctrinal portion. The ardor of Spirit in this Epistle, as in First John, bursting forth at once into the subject (without prefatory inscription of name and greeting), the more effectively strikes the hearers. The date must have been while the temple was yet standing, before its destruction, A.D. 70; some time before the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this Epistle of Paul (2Pe 3:15, 16); at a time when many of the first hearers of the Lord were dead.

1. at sundry times—Greek, "in many portions." All was not revealed to each one prophet; but one received one portion of revelation, and another another. To Noah the quarter of the world to which Messiah should belong was revealed; to Abraham, the nation; to Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the family; to Micah, the town of nativity; to Daniel, the exact time; to Malachi, the coming of His forerunner, and His second advent; through Jonah, His burial and resurrection; through Isaiah and Hosea, His resurrection. Each only knew in part; but when that which was perfect came in Messiah, that which was in part was done away (1Co 13:12).

in divers manners—for example, internal suggestions, audible voices, the Urim and Thummim, dreams, and visions. "In one way He was seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in another by Elias, and in another by Micah; Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, beheld different forms" [Theodoret]. (Compare Nu 12:6-8). The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, and manifold in form; the very multitude of prophets shows that they prophesied only in part. In Christ, the revelation of God is full, not in shifting hues of separated color, but Himself the pure light, uniting in His one person the whole spectrum (Heb 1:3).

spake—the expression usual for a Jew to employ in addressing Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing especially for Jews, quotes Scripture, not by the formula, "It is written," but "said," &c.

1:1-3 God spake to his ancient people at sundry times, through successive generations, and in divers manners, as he thought proper; sometimes by personal directions, sometimes by dreams, sometimes by visions, sometimes by Divine influences on the minds of the prophets. The gospel revelation is excellent above the former; in that it is a revelation which God has made by his Son. In beholding the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Father, Joh 14:7; the fulness of the Godhead dwells, not typically, or in a figure, but really, in him. When, on the fall of man, the world was breaking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking the work of redemption, sustained it by his almighty power and goodness. From the glory of the person and office of Christ, we proceed to the glory of his grace. The glory of His person and nature, gave to his sufferings such merit as was a full satisfaction to the honour of God, who suffered an infinite injury and affront by the sins of men. We never can be thankful enough that God has in so many ways, and with such increasing clearness, spoken to us fallen sinners concerning salvation. That he should by himself cleanse us from our sins is a wonder of love beyond our utmost powers of admiration, gratitude, and praise. 1:1 Christ Greater Than Angels and Prophets

SUMMARY OF HEBREWS 1:

The Message Spoken by the Son. The Glory of the Son. His Superiority to the Angels.

God, who. Instead of the introductory greetings usual in an Epistle, the apostle plunges into the midst of his subject by a grand exordium.

At sundry times. Rather, In divers portions, as in the Revised Version. The Old Testament was give in portions, not all at once, and at wide intervals.

Spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. Though prophets might be chosen as the instruments, the message was that of God. While God spoke through them, the prophets were only men.

Verse 1. - Retaining the order of the words in the original, we may translate, In many portions, and in many modes of old God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets. Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως ( νοτ a mere alliterative redundancy, denoting variously: - the writer's usual choice use of words forbids this supposition. Nor is the μερῶς of the first adverb to be taken (as in the A.V.) to denote portions of time: - this is not the proper meaning of the compound. Nor (for the same reason) does it denote various degrees of prophetic inspiration, but (on etymological as well as logical grounds) the various portions of the preparatory revelation to "the fathers." It was not one utterance, but many utterances; given, in fact, at divers times, though it is to the diversity of the utterances, and not of the times, that the expression points. Then the second adverb denotes the various modes of the several former revelations - not necessarily or exclusively the rabbinical distinction between dream, vision, inspiration, voices, angels; or that between the visions and dreams of prophets and the "mouth to mouth" revelation to Moses, referred to in Numbers 12:6-9; but rather the various characters or forms of the various utterances in themselves. Some were in the way of primeval promises; some of glimpses into the Divine righteousness, as in the Law given from Mount Sinai; some of significant ritual, as in the same Law; some of typical history and typical persons, spoken of under inspiration as representing an unfulfilled ideal; some of the yearnings and aspirations, or distinct predictions, of psalmists and of prophets. But all these were but partial, fragmentary, anticipatory utterances, leading up to and adumbrating the 'one complete, all-absorbing "speaking of God to us in the SON," which is placed in contrast with there all. If the subsequent treatment in this Epistle of the Old Testament utterances is to be taken as a key for unlocking the meaning of the exordium, such ideas were in the writer's mind when he thus wrote. "Πολυμερῶς pertinet ad materiam, πολυτρόπως ad formam" (Bengel). Of old; i.e. in the ages comprised in the Old Testament record. Though it is true that; God has revealed himself variously since the world was made to other than the saints of the Old Testament, and though he ceased not to speak in some way to his people between the times of Malachi and of Christ, yet both the expression, "to the fathers," and the instances of Divine utterances given subsequently in the Epistle, restrict us in our interpretation to the Old Testament canon. Addressing Hebrews, it is from this that the writer argues. Having spoken; a word used elsewhere to express all the ways in which God has made himself, his will, and his counsels, known (cf. Matthew 10:20; Luke 1:45, 70; John 9:29; Acts 3:21; Acts 7:6). To the fathers; the ancestors of the Jews in respect both of race and of faith; the saints of the Old Testament. The word had a well-understood meaning (cf. Matthew 23:30; Luke 1:55, 72; Luke 11:47; and especially Romans 9:5). For the double sense of the term "father," thus used, see John 8:56, "your father Abraham;" but again, John 8:39, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham;" and also Romans 4. and Galatians 3:7. But this distinction between physical and spiritual ancestry does not come in here. In the prophets. The word "prophet" must be taken here in a general sense; not confined to the prophets distinctively so called, as in Luke 24:44, "Moses, the prophets, and the psalms." For both Moses and the psalms are quoted in the sequel, to illustrate the ancient utterances. Προφήτης means, both in classical and Hellenistic Greek (as does the Hebrew נָבִיא, of which προφήτης is the equivalent), not a foreteller, but a forth teller of the mind of God, an inspired expounder (cf. Διὸς προφήτης ἐστὶ Λοξίας πατρός, AEsch., 'Eum.,' 19; and Exodus 7:1, "See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet"). Observe also the sense of προφητεία in St. Paul's Epistles (especially 1 Corinthians 14.). In this sense Moses, David, and all through whom God in any way spoke to man, were prophets. On the exact force of the preposition ἐν, many views have been entertained. It does not mean "in the books of the prophets," - the corresponding "in the SON" precludes this; nor that God by his Spirit spoke within the prophets, - this idea does not come in naturally here; nor is "the SON" presented afterwards as one in whom the Godhead dwelt, so much as being himself a manifestation of God; nor may we take ἐν, as simply a Hellenism for διὰ, - the writer does not use prepositions indiscriminately. Ἐν, (as Alford explains it) differs from διὰ as denoting the element in which this speaking takes place. This use of the preposition is found also in classical Greek; cf. σημαίνειν ἐν οἰωνοῖς, frequent in Xenophon; in the New Testament, cf. Ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίωι ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια (Matthew 9:34.). SCOFIELD REFERENCE NOTES (Old Scofield 1917 Edition)

Book Introduction

The Jewish-Christian Epistles followed by Introduction to Hebrews

In Hebrews, James, First and Second Peter, and Jude we have a group of inspired writings differing in important respects from Paul's Epistles. But this difference is in no sense one of conflict. All present the same Christ, the same salvation, the same morality. The difference is one of extension, of development. The Jewish-Christian writings deal with the elementary and foundational things of the Gospel, while to Paul were given the revelations concerning the church, her place in the counsels of God, and the calling and hope of the believer as vitally united to Christ in the one body.

The other characteristic difference is that while Paul has in view the body of true believers, who are therefore assuredly saved,the Judaeo-Christian writers view the church as a professing body in which, during this age, the wheat and tares are mingled. Mt 13:24-30. Their writings, therefore, abound, in warnings calculated to arouse and alarm the mere professor. A word of caution is, however, needful at this point. The persons warned are neither mere hypocrites, nor mere formalists. Song far as they have gone their experiences are perfectly genuine. It is said of the supposed persons in Heb 6:4-9 that they had been "enlightened," and the same word is use Heb 10:32, translated "illuminated." They are said, too, to have "tasted" of the heavenly gift, and again a word importing reality is used, for it occurs in Heb 2.9 of the death of Christ. The true point of the divine solicitude is expressed in verses 1 and 2. It is that they shall go on. They have made a real beginning, but it is not said of them that they have faith, and it is said (verse 9) that "things that accompany salvation" are "better." This fear lest beginners will "come short" is the theme of Heb 3.7-4:3. The men in Mt 7:21-23 are not conscious hypocrites--they are utterly surprised at their exclusion. Characteristic contrasts are, Heb 6:4-6 Rom 8:29-39 2Pet 1:10 Phil 1:6 In this respect these Epistles group with Mat 13.-23 and Acts 2.-9. The two Epistles of Peter, however, are less Jewish and more truly catholic than the other Jewish-Christian writings. He addressed, in his First Epistle, neither Jews as such, not even Christian Jews of Jerusalem, or Judea, but of the dispersion; while Second Peter is not distinctively Jewish at all.

SCOFIELD REFERENCE NOTES (Old Scofield 1917 Edition)

Book Introduction

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews

WRITER The authorship of Hebrews has been in controversy from the earliest times. The book is anonymous, but the reference in 2Pet 3:15 seems conclusive that Paul was the writer. See also Heb 13:23. All agree that, whether by Paul or another, the point of view is Pauline. We undoubtedly have here the method of Paul's synagogue addresses. No book of Scripture more fully authenticates itself as inspired.

DATE From internal evidence it is clear that Hebrews was written before the destruction of the Temple, A.D. 70 (cf 10.11).

THEME The doctrinal passages reveal the purpose of the book. It was written with a twofold intent:

(1) To confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfilment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law; and

(2) the hortatory passages show that the writer had in view the danger ever present to Jewish professed believers of either lapsing back into Judaism, or of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ. It is clear from the Acts that even the strongest of the believers in Palestine were held to a strange mingling of Judaism and Christianity (e.g. Acts 21:18-24 and that snare would be especially apt to entangle professed Christians amongst the Jews of the dispersion.

The key-word is "better." Hebrews is a series of contrasts between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ. Christ is "better" than angels, than Moses, than Joshua, than Aaron; and the New Covenant than the Mosaic Covenant. Church truth does not appear, the ground of gathering only being stated (Heb 13:13). The whole sphere of Christian profession is before the writer; hence exhortations necessary to warn and alarm a mere professor.

Hebrews is in six divisions, but these include five parenthetic passages of exhortation.

I. The great salvation. 1.1-2.18 (2.1-4, parenthetic).

II. The rest of God, 3.1-4.16 (all parenthetic).

III. Our great High Priest, 5.1-8, 6 (5.11-6.12, parenthetic).

IV. The new covenant and the heavenly sanctuary, Heb 8.7-10.39 (Heb 10:26-39, parenthetic).

at.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your …

Genesis 6:3,13 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for …

Genesis 8:15 And God spoke to Noah, saying,

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, …

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said to Abram, Get you out of your country, and …

Genesis 26:2-5 And the LORD appeared to him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell …

Genesis 28:12-15 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the …

Genesis 32:24-30 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until …

Genesis 46:2-4 And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, …

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest …

Luke 24:27,44 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them …

Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into …

1 Peter 1:10-12 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, …

2 Peter 1:20,21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private …

in.

Numbers 12:6-8 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, …

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit …

the fathers.

Luke 1:55,72 As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever…

John 7:22 Moses therefore gave to you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses…

Acts 13:32 And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was …

God

Both stages of the revelation were given by God.

At sundry times (πολυμερῶς)

Rend. in many parts. N.T.o. olxx, but πολυμερής Wisd. 7:22. In the first stage of his revelation, God spake, not at once, giving a complete revelation of his being and will; but in many separate revelations, each of which set forth only a portion of the truth. The truth as a whole never comes to light in the O.T. It appears fragmentarily, in successive acts, as the periods of the Patriarchs, Moses, the Kingdom, etc. One prophet has one, another element of the truth to proclaim.

In divers manners (πολυτροπῶς)

Rend. in many ways. N.T.o. lxx, 4 Macc. 3:21. This refers to the difference of the various revelations in contents and form. Not the different ways in which God imparted his revelations to the prophets, but the different ways in which he spoke by the prophets to the fathers: in one way through Moses, in another through Elijah, in others through Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. At the founding of the Old Testament kingdom of God, the character of the revelation was elementary. Later it was of a character to appeal to a more matured spiritual sense, a deeper understanding and a higher conception of the law. The revelation differed according to the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the covenant-people. Comp. Ephesians 3:10, the many-tinted wisdom of God, which is associated with this passage by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i. 4, 27). "Fitly, therefore, did the apostle call the wisdom of God many-tinted, as showing its power to benefit us in many parts and in many ways."

Spake (λαλήσας)

See on Matthew 28:18. Often in the Epistle of the announcement of the divine will by men, as Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 9:19; by angels, as Hebrews 2:2; by God himself or Christ, as Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 12:25. In Paul, almost always of men: once of Christ, 2 Corinthians 13:3; once of the Law, personified, Romans 3:9.

In time past (πάλαι)

Better, of old. The time of the Old Testament revelation. It indicates a revelation, not only given, but completed in the past.

Unto the fathers (τοῖς πατράσιν)

Thus absolutely, John 7:22; Romans 9:5; Romans 15:8. More commonly with your or our.

By the prophets (ἐν τοῖς προφήταις)

Rend. "in the prophets," which does not mean in the collection of prophetic writings, as John 6:45; Acts 13:40, but rather in the prophets themselves as the vessels of divine inspiration. God spake in them and from them. Thus Philo; "The prophet is an interpreter, echoing from within (ἔνδοθεν) the sayings of God" (De Praemiis et Poenis, 9)

1:1 God, who at sundry times - The creation was revealed in the time of Adam; the last judgment, in the time of Enoch: and so at various times, and in various degrees, more explicit knowledge was given. In divers manners - In visions, in dreams, and by revelations of various kinds. Both these are opposed to the one entire and perfect revelation which he has made to us by Jesus Christ. The very number of the prophets showed that they prophesied only in part. Of old - There were no prophets for a large tract of time before Christ came, that the great Prophet might be the more earnestly expected. Spake - A part is put for the whole; implying every kind of divine communication. By the prophets - The mention of whom is a virtual declaration that the apostle received the whole Old Testament, and was not about to advance any doctrine in contradiction to it. Hath in these last times - Intimating that no other revelation is to be expected. Spoken - All things, and in the most perfect manner. By his Son - Alone. The Son spake by the apostles. The majesty of the Son of God is proposed, Absolutely, by the very name of Son, verse 1, and by three glorious predicates, - whom he hath appointed, by whom he made, who sat down; whereby he is described from the beginning to the consummation of all things, Heb 1:2,3 Comparatively to angels, Heb 1:4. The proof of this proposition immediately follows: the name of Son being proved, Heb 1:5; his being heir of all things, Heb 1:6 - 9; his making the worlds, Heb 1:10 - 12 his sitting at God's right hand, Heb 1:13, and c.
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