Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Now the God of peace.—See Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 2Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; 1Thessalonians 5:23; 2Thessalonians 3:16. In almost all these places there is something in the context suggestive of strife or turmoil to be brought to rest by “the God of peace.” Hence we may well believe that the writer here has in thought those divisions of thought and feeling which have been hinted at in Hebrews 13:17-19, and which in truth were the expression of the deep-seated mental unrest which it is the object of the Epistle to remove.
Our Lord Jesus.—As in Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 12:2, the name is introduced after the description, according to the order of the Greek: “Now the God of peace that brought up from the dead (Romans 10:7) the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of an eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus . . .” Two passages of the prophets have contributed to the language of this remarkable verse: (1) Isaiah 63:11, ““Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock?” Here the shepherds are no doubt Moses and Aaron (Psalm 77:20); the Greek translation, however, has, “Where is he that raised up out of the sea the shepherd of the sheep?” Moses, who led Israel through the sea, was brought up therefrom in safety to be the “shepherd” of his people Israel; by the same Almighty hand the great Shepherd of the sheep has been brought up from among the dead. (2) Zechariah 9:11, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” In other words, “because of the blood which ratified thy covenant (Exodus 24:8) I have released thy prisoners.” As in the former case, the resemblance between the words in the LXX. and those here used is sufficient to convince us that the passage was in the writer’s thought. In (i.e., in virtue of) the blood of an eternal covenant (Hebrews 9:15-18) God has raised up the Lord Jesus. The covenant was ratified by His blood; the first of the blessings of the covenant, and that in which all blessing lay included, was this, that God raised Him up from the dead to be “the great Shepherd of the sheep.” If these prophetic words respecting Him who brings peace to the world (Zechariah 9:10, et al), were in the writer’s mind, how natural is his appeal to the God of peace. It has been often observed that this is the only passage in the Epistle in which we read of the resurrection of our Lord apart from His ascension; elsewhere His exaltation is contemplated as one act (Hebrews 2:9, et al.). It is not certain that we have an exception even here, for though the meaning of Romans 10:7 is beyond doubt, the words may in this place be used with a wider meaning.
GREAT HOPES A GREAT DUTY
A GREAT building needs a deep foundation; a leaping fountain needs a full spring. A very large and lofty prayer follows the words of my text, and these are the foundations on which it rests, the abundant source from which it soars heavenward. The writer asks for his readers nothing less than a complete, all-round, and thorough-going conformity to the will of God; and that should be our deepest desire and our conscious aim, that God may see His own image in us, for nothing less can be ‘well-pleasing in His sight.’ But does not such a dream of what we may be seem far too audacious, when we pursue the stained volume of our own lives, and remember what we are? Should we not be content with very much more modest hopes for ourselves, and with a vary partial attainment o£ them? Yes, if we look at ourselves; but to look at ourselves is not the way to pray, or the way to hope, or the way to grow, or the way to dare. The logic of Christian petitions and Christian expectations starts with God as the premiss, and thence argues the possibility of the impossible. It was because of all this great accumulation of truths, piled up in my text, that the .writer found it in his heart to ask such great things for the humble people to whom he was writing, although he well knew that they were far from perfect, and were even in danger of making shipwreck of the faith altogether. My purpose now is to let him lead us along the great array of reasons for his great prayer, that we too may learn to desire and to expect, and to work for nothing short of this aim - the entire purging of ourselves from all evil and sin and the complete assimilation to our Lord. There are three points here: the warrant for our highest expectations in the name of God; the warrant for our highest expectations in the risen Shepherd; the warrant for our highest expectations in the everlasting covenant.
I. The warrant for our highest expectations in the name of God.
‘The God of peace’ - the name comes like a benedict ion into our restless lives and distracted hearts, and carries us away up into lofty regions, above the mutations of circumstances and the perturbations and agitations of our earthly life. No doubt, there may be some allusion here to the special circumstances of the recipients of this letter, for it is clear from the rest of the Epistle that they had much need for the peace of God to calm their agitations in the prospect of the collapse of the venerable system in which they had lived so long. It is obvious also that there were divisions of opinion amongst themselves, so that the invocation of the God of peace may have had a special sanctity and sweetness to them, considering the circumstances in which they were placed. But the designation has a bearing not so much on the condition of those to whom the words are spoken, as upon the substance of the grand prayer that follows it. It is because He is know, to us as being ‘the God of peace’ that we may be quite sure that He will ‘make us perfect in every good work to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight.’
And how does that great name, sweet and strong as it is, bear with it the weight of such an inference as that? Plainly enough because it speaks, first of all, of that which I may call an immanent characteristic of the divine nature. He is the tranquil God, dwelling above all disturbance which comes from variableness and all ‘the shadows east by turning’; dwelling above all possibilities of irritation or agitation. And yet that great ocean is not stagnant, but through all its depths flow currents of love, and in all its repose is intensest energy. The highest activity coincides with the supremest rest. The wheel revolves so swiftly that it stands as if motionless.
Then, just because of that profound divine, repose, we may expect Him, by His very nature, to impart His own peace to the soul that seeks Him. Of course, it can be but the faintest shadow of that divine indisturbance which can ever fall, like a dove’s wing, upon our restless lives. Bat still in the tranquillity of a quiet heart, in the harmonies of a spirit all .concentrated on one purpose, in the independence of externals possible to a man who grasps God, in the victory over change which is granted to them who have pierced through the fleeting clouds and have their home in the calm blue beyond, there may be a quiet of heart which does not altogether put to shame that wondrous promise: ‘My peace I give unto you.’ It is possible that they ‘which have believed’ should ‘enter into the rest’ of God.
But if the impartation of some faint but real echo of His own great repose is the delight of the divine heart, how can it be done? There is only one way by which a man can be made peaceful, and that is by his being made good. Nothing else secures the true tranquillity of a human spirit without its conformity to the divine will. It is submission to the divine commandments and appointments, it is the casting-off of self with all its agitations and troubles, that secures our entering into rest. What a man needs for pease is, that his relations with God should be set right, that his own nature should be drawn into one and harmonised with itself, and that his relations with men should also be rectified.
For the first of these, we know that it is ‘the Christ that died,’ who is the means by which the alienation and enmity of heart between us and God can be swept away. For the second of them, we know that the only way by which this anarchic commonwealth within can be brought into harmony and order, and its elements prevented from drawing apart from one another, is that the whole man shall be bowed before God in submission to His will. The heart is like some stormy sea, tossed and running mountains high, and there is only one voice that can say to it, ‘Peace: be still,’ and that is the voice of God in Christ. There is only one power that, like the white moon in the nightly sky, can draw the heaped waters round the whole world after itself, and that is the power of Christ in His Cross and Spirit, which brings the disobedient heart into submissions, and unites the discordant powers in the liberty of a common service: so, brethren, if we are ever to have quiet hearts, they must come, not from favourable circumstances, nor from anything external They can only come from the prayer being answered, ‘Unite my heart to fear Thy name,’ and then our inner lives will no longer be torn by contending passions - conscience pulling this way and desire that; a great voice saying within, ‘you ought!’ and an insistent voice answering, ‘I will not’; but all within will be at one, and then there will be peace. ‘The God of peace sanctify you wholly,’ says one of the apostles, bringing out in the expression the same thought, that inasmuch as He who Himself is supreme repose must be infinitely desirous that we, His children, should share in His rest, He will, as the only way by which that rest can ever be attained, sanctify us wholly. When - and not till, and as soon as - we are thus made holy are we made at rest.
Nor let us forget that, on the other hand, the divine peace, which is ‘shed abroad in our hearts’ by the love of God, does itself largely contribute to perfect the holiness of a Christian soul. We read that ‘the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,’ and also that ‘the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds,’ and again that the peace of God will sit as umpire in our hearts, detecting evil, judging actions, awarding the prizes. For, indeed, when that peace lies like a summer morning’s light upon our quiet hearts there will be little in evil that will so attract us as to make us think it worth our while to break the blessed and charmed silence for the sake of any earthly influences or joys. They that dwell in the peace of God have little temptation to buy trouble, remorse perhaps, or agitation, by venturing out into the forbidden ground. So, brethren, the great name of the God of peace is itself a promise, and entitles us to expect the completeness of character which alone brings peace.
Then, further, we have here
II. The warrant for our highest expectations in the risen Shepherd.
‘The God of peace who brought again’ - or, perhaps, brought up - ‘from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.’ Now, it is remarkable that this is the only reference in this Epistle to the Hebrews to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book is full of references to that which presupposes the Resurrection, namely, the ascended life of Jesus as .the great High Priest within the veil, and the fact that only this once is the act of resurrection referred to, confirms the idea, that in the New Testament there is no division of thought between the point at which the line begins and the line itself, that the Ascension is but the prolongation of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection is but the beginning of the Ascension, But here the act, rather than the state into which it led, is dwelt upon as being more appropriate to the purpose in hand.
Then we may notice further, that in that phrase, ‘the great Shepherd of the sheep;’ there is a quotation from one of the prophets, where the words refer to Moses bringing up the people from the Red Sea. The writer of the Epistle adds to Isaiah’s phrase one significant word, and speaks of ‘that great Shepherd,’ to remind us of the comparison which he had been running in an earlier part of the letter, between the leader of Israel and Christ.
So, then, we have here brought before us Jesus who is risen and ascended, as the great Shepherd of the sheep. Looking to Him, what are we heartened to believe are the possibilities and the divine purposes for each of those that put their trust in Him? Gazing in thought for a moment on that Lord risen from the grave, with the old love in His heart, and the old greetings upon His lips, we see there, of course, as everybody knows, the demonstration of the persistence of a human life through death, like some stream of fresh water holding on its course through a salt and stagnant sea, or plunging underground for a short space, to come up again flashing into the sunshine. But we see more than that. We see the measure of the power, as the Apostle has it, that works in us, ‘according to the energy of the might of the power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.’ As we gaze, we see what may be called a type, but what is a great deal more than a type, of the possibilities of the risen life, as it may be lived even here and now, by every poor and humble soul that puts its trust in Him. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us the measure of the power that worketh in us.
But more than that, the risen Shepherd has risen as Shepherd, for the very purpose of imparting, to every soul that trusts in Him, His own life. And unless we grasp that truth, we shall not understand the place of the Resurrection in the Christian scheme, nor the ground on which the loftiest anticipations are not audacious for the poorest soul, and on which anything beneath the loftiest is, for the poorest, beneath what it might and should aspire to. When the alabaster box was broken, the ointment was poured forth and the house was filled with the odour. The risen Christ imparts His life to His people. And nothing short of their entire perfecting in all which is within the possibilities of human beauty and nobleness and purity, will be the adequate issue of that great death and triumphant Resurrection, and of the mighty, quickening power of a new life, which He thereby breathed into the dying world. On His Cross, and from His Tomb, and from His Throne, He has set aging processes which never can reach their goal - and, blessed be God! never will stop their beneficent working - until every soul of man, however stained and evil, that puts the humblest trust in Him, and lives after His commandment, is become radiant with beauty, complete in holiness, victorious over self and sin, and is set for ever more at the right hand of God. Every anticipation that falls short of that, and all effort that lags behind that anticipation, is an insult to the Christ, and a trampling under foot of the blood of ‘the covenant wherewith ye are sanctified.’
So, brother, open your mouth wide, and it will be filled. Expect great things; believe that what Jesus Christ came into the world and died to do, what Jesus Christ left the world and lives to carry on, will be done in you, and that you too will be made complete in Him. For the Shepherd leads and the sheep follow - here afar off, often straying, and getting lost or torn by the brambles, and worried by the wolves. But He leads and they do follow, and the time comes when ‘they shall follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,’ and be close behind Him in all the good pastures of the mountains of Israel ‘We see not yet all things put under Him,’ but we see Jesus and that is enough.
III. The warrant for our highest expectations in the everlasting covenant.
Space will not allow of my entering upon the question as to the precise relation of these final words to the rest of the verse, but their relation to the great purpose of the whole verse is plain enough. It has come to be very unfashionable nowadays to talk about the covenant. People think that it is archaic, technically theological, far away from daily life, and so on and so on. I believe that Christian people would be a great deal stronger, if there were a more prominent place given in Christian meditations to the great idea that underlies that metaphor,. And it is just this, that God is under obligations, takes on Him by Himself, to fulfil to a poor, trusting soul the great promises to which that soul has been drawn to cleave. He has, if I might use such a metaphor, like some monarch, given a constitution to His people, He has not left us to grope as to what His mind and purpose may be. Across the infinite ocean of possibilities, He has marked out on the chart, so to speak, the line which He will pursue. We have His word, and His word is this: ‘After those days, saith the Lord, I will make a new covenant. I will write My law on their inward parts. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ So the definite, distinct promise, in black and white, so to speak, to every man and woman on the face of the earth, is ‘Come into the bends of the covenant, by trusting Me, and you will get all that I have promised.’
And that covenant is, as my text says, sealed by ‘the blood.’ Which, being turned into less metaphorical English, is just this, that God’s infinite pro- pension of beneficence towards each of us, and desire to clothe us in garments of radiant purity, are, by Christ’s death, guaranteed as extending to, and working their effects on, every soul that trusts Him. What does that death mean if it does not mean that? Why should He have died on the Cross, unless it were to take away sin?
But the blood of the covenant does not mean only the death by which the covenant is ratified. We shall much misapprehend and narrow New Testament teaching, if we suppose that. The ‘blood is the life.’ There is further suggested, then, by the expression, that the vital energy, with which Jesus Christ came from the dead as the Shepherd of the sheep, is the power by which God makes us ‘perfect in every good work to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight.’
So, two practical counsels may close my words. See that you aspire as high as God’s purpose concerning you, and do not be content with anything short of the, at least, incipient and progressive accomplishment in your characters and lives, of that great prayer. Again, see that you use the forces which, by the Cross and the Resurrection and the Ascension, are set in motion to make that wondrous possibility a matter-of-fact reality for each of us; and whoever you are, and whatever you have been, be sure of this, that He can lift you from the mud and cleanse you from its stains, and set you at His own right hand in the heavenly places. For the name, and the risen Shepherd, and the blood of the everlasting covenant, make a threefold cord, not to be quickly broken, and able to bear the weight of the loftiest hopes and firmest confidence that we can hang upon it.Hebrews 13:20-21. Now, &c. — Having desired them to pray for him, he now addresses a prayer to God for them, and therewith gives a solemn close to the whole epistle. And a glorious prayer it is, including the whole mystery of divine grace, and that both with respect to its original, and the way of its communication; and therefore including the whole of this epistle, especially as far as it is doctrinal, and applying the benefit of all that he had instructed them in to themselves. The prayer includes, 1st, A title given to God suited to the request made. 2d, The work ascribed to him suitable to that title. 3d, The blessings prayed for. 4th, A doxology, with a solemn close of the whole. The title assigned to God, or the name by which he calls upon him is, the God of peace — All things being brought by sin into a state of disorder, confusion, and enmity, there was no source left from whence peace could be derived, but in the nature and will of God. Hence the apostle, when about to represent God in this character, begins by observing, All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:18. God alone is the Author of all peace to fallen man, whether the peace which we have with himself, or that in our own souls; whether peace between angels and men, or between Jews and Gentiles: it is all from him, the God of pardoning mercy and renewing grace. That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus — On whom the iniquities of us all, and the chastisement necessary to procure our peace, were laid; and who was raised from the dead to manifest that the atonement which he had made was accepted, and that God was now in him reconciling us to himself; and as a further proof of this, bringing him from the dead to be the great Shepherd of the sheep — To gather, defend, feed, and save them; yea, and to give unto them eternal life, John 10:28. This title, the great Shepherd of the sheep, is given to Christ here, because he was foretold under that character, (Ezekiel 34:23,) because he took to himself the title of the good Shepherd, (John 10:11,) and because all who are employed in feeding the flock are but inferior shepherds under him. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant — Namely, the covenant of grace, in its last dispensation, termed everlasting, both in opposition to the covenant made at Sinai, which was but for a time, and accordingly was now removed, and because the effects of it are not temporary benefits, but everlasting mercies of grace and glory. It is not quite certain whether this clause should be connected with what goes before, or what follows. If it is connected with what goes before, the meaning is, either that God brought back our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, on account of his having shed his blood to procure the everlasting covenant: or that the Lord Jesus became the great Shepherd and Saviour of the sheep, by shedding his blood to procure and ratify the everlasting covenant. This latter sense seems to be supported by Acts 20:28, where Christ is said to have purchased the church with his own blood. But if the clause is connected with what follows, the meaning is, May God make you perfect in every good work, through the assistance of his Spirit, promised in the everlasting covenant, procured and ratified by his blood.
Make you perfect — Καταρτισαι υμας, an expression similar to that used Ephesians 4:12 : for the perfecting of the saints, or the rendering them complete in the various branches of true Christianity, namely, (as is there observed,) in the knowledge of all the doctrines, the possession of all the graces, the enjoyment of all the privileges, the performance of all the duties belonging to true Christianity. But the last particular is what is here chiefly intended, the expression being, May he make you perfect in every good work, implying the apostle’s desire that they might omit no good work which it was in their power to perform, and that they should do every one in the most perfect manner; namely, according to God’s will as their rule, from love to him as their principle, with an eye to his glory as their end. Working in you that — Internal holiness and conformity to the divine image; which is well pleasing in his sight — Which he approves of, and takes complacency in; through the doctrine, the merits, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ. To whom be glory for ever and ever — Here eternal glory is ascribed to Christ, as it is likewise 2 Peter 3:18, and Revelation 5:13, in terms exactly similar to those in which it is ascribed to God, even the Father, Php 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18; a manifest proof of Christ’s Deity, divine adoration and worship being due to God alone.1 Thessalonians 5:23. The word "peace" in the New Testament is used to denote every kind of blessing or happiness. It is opposed to all that would disturb or trouble the mind, and may refer, therefore, to reconciliation with God; to a quiet conscience; to the evidence of pardoned sin; to health and prosperity, and to the hope of heaven; see the notes on John 14:27.
That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus - Acts 2:32 note; 1 Corinthians 15:15 note. It is only by the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that we have peace, for it is only by him that we have the prospect of an admission into heaven.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant - The blood shed to ratify the everlasting covenant that God makes with his people; notes, Hebrews 9:14-23. This phrase, in the original, is not connected, as it is in our translation, with his being raised from the dead, nor should it be so rendered, for what can be the sense of "raising Christ from the dead by the blood of the covenant?" In the Greek it is, "the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus," etc. The meaning is, that he was made or constituted the great Shepherd of the sheep - the great Lord and ruler of his people, by that blood. That which makes him so eminently distinguished; that by which he was made superior to all others who ever ruled over the people of God, was the fact that he offered the blood by which the eternal covenant was ratified. It is called everlasting or eternal, because:
(1) it was formed in the councils of eternity, or has been an eternal plan in the divine mind; and,
God of peace—So Paul, Ro 15:33; 16:20; 2Co 13:11; Php 4:9; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 3:16. The Judaizing of the Hebrews was calculated to sow seeds of discord among them, of disobedience to their pastors (Heb 13:17), and of alienation towards Paul. The God of peace by giving unity of true doctrine, will unite them in mutual love.
brought again from the dead—Greek, "brought up," &c.: God brought the Shepherd; the Shepherd shall bring the flock. Here only in the Epistle he mentions the resurrection. He would not conclude without mentioning 'the connecting link between the two truths mainly discussed; the one perfect sacrifice and the continual priestly intercession—the depth of His humiliation and the height of His glory—the "altar" of the cross and the ascension to the heavenly Holy of Holies.
Lord Jesus—the title marking His person and His Lordship over us. But Heb 13:21, "through Jesus Christ." His office, as the Anointed of the Spirit, making Him the medium of communicating the Spirit to us, the holy unction flowing down from the Head on the members (compare Ac 2:36).
shepherd of the sheep—A title familiar to his Hebrew readers, from their Old Testament (Isa 63:11; Septuagint): primarily Moses, antitypically Christ: already compared together, Heb 3:2-7. The transition is natural from their earthly pastors (Heb 13:17), to the Chief Pastor, as in 1Pe 5:1-4. Compare Eze 34:23 and Jesus' own words, Joh 10:2, 11, 14.
through the blood—Greek, "in," in virtue of the blood (Heb 2:9); it was because of His bloody death for us, that the Father raised and crowned Him with glory. The "blood" was the seal of the everlasting covenant entered into between the Father and Son; in virtue of the Son's blood, first Christ was raised, then Christ's people shall be so (Zec 9:11, seemingly referred to here; Ac 20:28).
everlasting—The everlastingness of the covenant necessitated the resurrection. This clause, "the blood of the everlasting covenant," is a summary retrospect of the Epistle (compare Heb 9:12).Hebrews 13:20,21. Now God the Father, the God and Author of peace and reconciliation of sinners to himself, the propagator and lover of peace among all the subjects of his kingdom, the dispenser of the fulness of good, blessing, and happiness, Romans 15:3 Philippians 4:9 1 Thessalonians 5:23, who gloriously manifested his power by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead, Ephesians 1:19,20 Ro 1:4, who is the great Shepherd of his sheep, exalted to this office, because he poured out his blood a sacrifice for sins, to purchase them, justify and sanctify them, a peculiar flock for himself, according to the covenant of grace that God made with them, and in him with and for sinners, who should repent and believe in him, John 10:9-30 1 Corinthians 6:11 Philippians 2:7,10 Tit 2:14 1 Peter 1:18,19, and to perfect them with himself above, 1 Peter 5:4, by the same power wherewith he was raised, perfect you, &c. Ephesians 1:19. Romans 15:33, a consideration of this gives boldness at the throne of grace; furnishes out a reason why blessings asked for may be expected; has a tendency to promote peace among brethren; may bear up saints under a sense of infirmity and imperfection, in prayer and other duties; and be an encouragement to them under Satan's temptations, and all afflictions. The Arabic version makes the God of peace to be Christ himself; whereas Christ is manifestly distinguished from him in the next verse; and even in that version, reading the words thus, "now; the God of peace raised from the dead Jesus the Shepherd of the sheep, magnified by the blood of the everlasting covenant; Jesus, I say, our Lord confirm you, &c. through Jesus Christ"; for which version there is no foundation in the original text. The God of peace is manifestly God the Father, who is distinguished from Christ his Son:
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus; who died for the sins of his people; was buried, and lay under the power of death for some time; but was raised from the dead by his Father; though not exclusive of himself, and the Spirit of holiness; in the same body in which he suffered and died; as the firstfruits of his people, and as their Lord and Saviour, head and surety, for their justification, and as a pledge of their resurrection. The apostle addresses the God and Father of Christ in prayer, under this consideration, to observe his power and ability to help in the greatest distress, and in the most difficult and desperate case; to encourage faith and hope in him, when things are at the worst, and most discouraging; to comfort the saints under afflictions, in a view of their resurrection; to engage them to regard a risen Christ, and things above, and to expect life and immortality by him:
that great Shepherd of the sheep: the people of God, whom the Father has chosen, and given to Christ; for whom he has laid down his life; and whom the Spirit calls by his grace, and sanctifies; to whom Christ has a right, by his Father's gift, his own purchase, and the power of grace: these being partakers of his grace, are called "sheep", because they are harmless and inoffensive in their lives and conversations; and yet are exposed to danger; but meek and patient under sufferings; are weak and timorous of themselves; are clean, being washed in the blood of Christ; are sociable in their communion with one another; are profitable, though not to God, yet to men; are apt to go astray, and are liable to diseases: they are also called sheep, and are Christ's sheep before conversion; see John 10:16 and Christ, he is the Shepherd of them, who in all respects discharges the office of a shepherd to them, diligently and faithfully; See Gill on John 10:16, here he is called, "that great Shepherd"; being the man, God's fellow, equal to him, the great God and our Saviour; and having a flock which, though comparatively is a little one, is a flock of souls, of immortal souls, and is such a flock as no other shepherd has; hence he is called the Shepherd and Bishop of souls: and his abilities to feed them are exceeding great; he has a perfect knowledge of them; all power to protect and defend them; a fulness of grace to supply them; and he takes a diligent care of them: and this great Person so described was raised from the dead,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant: for the sense is not, that God is the God of peace, through that blood, though it is true that peace is made by it; nor that Christ becomes the Shepherd of the sheep by it, though he has with it purchased the flock of God; nor that the chosen people become his sheep through it, though they are redeemed by it, and are delivered out of a pit wherein is no water, by the blood of this covenant; but that Christ was brought again from the dead through it; and it denotes the particular influence that it had upon his resurrection, and the continued virtue of it since. The "covenant" spoken of is not the covenant of works made with Adam, as the federal head of his natural seed; there was no mediator or shepherd of the sheep that had any concern therein; there was no blood in that covenant; nor was it an everlasting one: nor the covenant of circumcision given to Abraham; though possibly there may be some reference to it; or this may be opposed to that, since the blood of circumcision is often called by the Jews , "the blood of the covenant" (d): nor the covenant on Mount Sinai, though there may be an allusion to it; since the blood which was then shed, and sprinkled on the people, is called the blood of the covenant, Exodus 24:8 but that was not an everlasting covenant, that has waxed old, and vanished away; but the covenant of grace is meant, before called the new and better covenant, of which Christ is the surety and Mediator; see Hebrews 7:22. This is an "everlasting one"; it commenced from everlasting, as appears from the everlasting love of God, which is the rise and foundation of it; from the counsels of God of old, which issued in it; from Christ's being set up from everlasting, as the Mediator of it; from the promises of it which were made before the world began; and from the spiritual blessings of grace in it, which were given to God's elect in Christ before the foundation of it: moreover, it will endure for ever; nor will it be succeeded by any other covenant: and the blood of Christ may be called the blood of it, because the shedding of it is a principal article in it; by it the covenant is ratified and confirmed; and all the blessings of it come through it, as redemption, peace, pardon, justification, and even admission into heaven itself; and Christ, through it, was brought again from the dead, because by it he fulfilled his covenant engagements, satisfied divine justice, and abolished sin, yea, death itself.Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 13:20-21. A wish of blessing. Chrysostom: Πρῶτον παρʼ αὐτῶν αἰτήσας τὰς εὐχάς, τότε καὶ αὐτὸς αὐτοῖς ἐπεύχεται πάντα τὰ ἀγαθά.
ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης] A designation of God very usual with Paul also. Its import may either be, as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (see at that place): the God of salvation, i.e. God, who bestows the Christian salvation; or, as Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20, Php 4:9, 2 Corinthians 13:11 : the God of peace, i.e. God, who produces peace. In favour of the first acceptation, which is defended by Schlichting, may be urged the tenor of the benediction itself. In favour of the latter acceptation decides, however, the connection of thought with Hebrews 13:18 f. For, since the closing half of Hebrews 13:18 betrayed the presupposition that the receivers of the epistle were biassed by prejudice against the person of the writer, there lies indicated in the fact, that in the following wish of blessing God is designated as the God who creates peace, the further idea, that He will also make peace between the readers and the writer, i.e. will bring the Christian convictions of the readers into harmony with that of the writer. So in substance Chrysostom (τοῦτο εἶπε διὰ τὸ στασιάζειν αὐτούς. Εἰ τοίνυν ὁ θεὸς εἰρήνης θεός ἐστι, μὴ διαστασιάζετε πρὸς ἡμᾶς), Oecumenius, Theophylact, Jac. Cappellus, and others. Wrongly do Grotius, Böhme, de Wette, Bisping, and others derive the appellation “the God of peace” from the supposition that reference is made to the contentions which prevailed amongst the members of the congregation itself. For the assumption of a state in which the congregation was rent by internal dissensions, is one warranted neither by Hebrews 12:14 nor by anything else in the epistle.
ὁ ἀναγαγὼν κ.τ.λ.] Further characterizing of God as the God who, by the raising of Christ from the dead, has sanctioned and attested the redeeming work of the same.
ὁ ἀναγαγὼν ἐκ νεκρῶν] He who has brought up from the dead, i.e. who has raised from death. Wrongly do Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Maier, Kluge, and Kurtz suppose that in ὁ ἀναγαγών is contained at the same time the exaltation into heaven. For, since ὁ ἀναγαγών does not stand absolutely, but has with it the addition ἐκ νεκρῶν, so must that idea also have been made evident by a special addition. There would thus have been written ὁ ἐκ νεκρῶν εἰς ὕψος ἀναγαγών, or something similar. Compare, too, Romans 10:7, where in like manner, as is shown by Hebrews 13:9, by the Χριστὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναγαγεῖν is denoted exclusively the resurrection of Christ, and not likewise His ascension.
τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν] the exalted (comp. Hebrews 4:14) Shepherd of the sheep. For the figure, comp. John 10:11 ff.; Matthew 26:31; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4 (ὁ ἀρχιποιμήν). According to Theophylact, Bengel, Bleek, de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, Kurtz, Hofmann, and others, the author had in connection with this expression present to his mind LXX. Isaiah 63:10, where it is said in regard to Moses: ποῦ ὁ ἀναβιβάσας ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων,—a supposition which, considering the currency of the figure in the N. T., may certainly be dispensed with.
ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου] in virtue of the blood of an everlasting covenant, i.e. in virtue of the shed blood of Christ, by which the New Covenant was sealed; comp. Hebrews 9:15 ff., Hebrews 10:29. Oecumenius, Theophylact, Clarius, Calvin, Bengel, Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Kluge, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner, and others conjoin these words with ὁ ἀναγαγών, but then again differ from each other in the determining of the sense. According to Bleek and Kurtz (similarly Bisping), the author intends to say: “God brought up Christ from the dead in the blood of the everlasting covenant; in such wise that He took, as it were, the shed blood with Him, in that He opened up to Himself by the same the entrance into the heavenly sanctuary, and it retained continually its power for the sealing of an everlasting covenant.” But this interpretation falls with the erroneous presupposition that ὁ ἀναγαγών includes in itself likewise the idea of the exaltation to heaven. According to Oecumenius 2, Theophylact 2, and Calvin, ἐν, on the other hand, stands as the equivalent in signification to σύν: who has raised Christ from the dead with the blood of the everlasting covenant, so that this blood retains everlasting virtue; while Clarius (comp. the first interpretation in Oecumenius and Theophylact) understands the words as though εἰς τὸ εἶναι τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἡμῖν εἰς διαθήκην αἰώνιον had been written, and Bengel, as likewise Hofmann, makes ἐν αἵματι the same as διὰ τὸ αἷμα (for the blood’s sake). But all these acceptations are linguistically untenable. Equally inadmissible is it to take ἐν, in this combination, instrumentally (Delitzsch, Kluge: “by means of, by the power of, by virtue of;” Alford: “through the blood”). For if one insists on the strict signification of the instrumental explanation, there arises a false thought, since the means by the application of which the miraculous act of the resurrection was accomplished is not the blood of Christ, but the omnipotence of God. If, however, we mingle the notion of mediately effecting with that of the meritorious cause, as is done by Delitzsch and Alford, inasmuch as the former dilutes the “kraft” (by virtue of) into “virtute ac merito sanguinis ipsius in morte effusi,” the latter the “through” into “in virtue of the blood,” we come back to Bengel’s ungrammatical equalizing of ἐν αἵματι with διὰ τὸ αἷμα. Another class of expositors combine ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου with the μέγαν immediately foregoing; either, as Sykes and Baumgarten, in taking τὸν μέγαν as a notion per se; or, as Starck, Wolf, and Heinrichs, prolonging in connection with it the idea of the shepherd. Nevertheless, it is most natural, with Beza, Estius, Grotius, Limborch, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, Stuart, Stengel, Ebrard, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 601), Maier, Moll, and others, to regard ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου as instrumental nearer definition to the total idea τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν; in such wise that by the addition is indicated the means by which Christ became the exalted Shepherd, with whom no other shepherd may be placed upon a parallel. Comp. Acts 20:28 : προσέχετε … παντὶ τῷ ποιμνίῳ, ἐν ᾧ ὑμᾶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους, ποιμαίνειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ κυρίου, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου.
διαθήκης αἰωνίου] Comp. Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 50:5; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 61:8. Theodoret: Αἰώνιον δὲ τὴν καινὴν κέκληκε διαθήκην, ὡς ἑτέρας μετὰ ταύτην οὐκ ἐσομένης· ἵνα γὰρ μή τις ὑπολάβῃ, καὶ ταύτην διʼ ἄλλης διαθήκης παυθήσεσθαι, εἰκότως αὐτῆς τὸ ἀτελεύτητον ἔδειξεν.20. the God of peace. The phrase is frequent in St Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:23 : 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Php 4:9).
that brought again from the dead] Among many allusions to the Ascension and Glorification of Christ this is the only direct allusion in the Epistle to His Resurrection (but comp. Hebrews 6:2, Hebrews 11:35). The verb ἀνήγαγεν may be “raised again” rather than “brought up,” though there may be a reminiscence of “the shepherd” (Moses) who “brought up” his people from the sea in Isaiah 63:11.
through the blood of the everlasting covenant] Rather, “by virtue of (lit. “in”) the blood of an eternal covenant.” The expression finds its full explanation in Hebrews 9:15-18. Others connect it with “the Great Shepherd.” He became the Great Shepherd by means of His blood. So in Acts 20:28 we have “to shepherd the Church of God, which He purchased for Himself by means of His own blood.” A similar phrase occurs in Zechariah 9:11, “By (or “because of”) the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit.”Hebrews 13:20. Ὁ δέ Θεὸς, now the God) He desired the brethren to pray for him, Hebrews 13:18; he now prays for them.—τῆς εἰρήνης, of peace) Paul often calls Him the God of peace, Romans 15:33. Here the verb καταρτίσαι, join you together in perfect harmony, accords with it, Hebrews 13:21.—ὁ ἀναγαγὼν ἐκ νεκρῶν, who brought again from the dead) God brought the Shepherd; the Shepherd brings the flock. He brought Him from the depths, and set Him on high, where He may be seen by all. The apostle does not conclude, before he made mention of the resurrection of Christ.—τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν, the great Shepherd of the sheep) An appropriate appellation. You have, says he, many ministers, Hebrews 13:17; but He is the Minister of all. I am absent from you, Hebrews 13:19; but GOD is not absent, nor will He be wanting to you. The allusion is to Isaiah 53:11 [whence a various reading, ἐκ τῆς γῆς for ἐκ νεκρῶν, has started up in this passage.—Not. Crit.], and by this allusion, the apostle at the very end of the epistle again and again prefers Christ to Moses, of whom Isaiah is speaking in the passage quoted above.—ἐν) in, significantly. It is construed with ὁ ἀναγαγὼν, who brought again; comp. ch. Hebrews 2:9, διὰ, for, on account of; likewise John 10:17-18; Php 2:9.—αἰωνίου, everlasting) An august epithet. This eternity of the covenant infers the necessity of a resurrection: Acts 13:34, note, from Isaiah.Verses 20, 21. - Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through (literally, in) the blood of the eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom (i.e. to God, the subject of the sentence) be glory forever and ever. Amen. It is St. Paul's way also to introduce, in the end of his Epistles, a solemn prayer or benediction, couched in terms suitable to the subjects that have been dwelt on (see e.g. Romans 16:25, etc.). The term, "God of peace," is also usual with him; and it is appropriate here after so many warnings against disturbing the Church's peace; as is, with reference also to what has gone before, "make you perfect" (καταρτίσαι), and what follows. On "the great Shepherd," etc., Bengel says, "Habemus, inquit, antistites multos, ver. 17, sed hic omniam est Antistes. Ego sum absens, ver. 19, sed DEUS non abest, neque deerit." The expression is taken from Isaiah 63:11, "Where is he that brought them out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? (Ποῦ ὁ ἀναβιβάσας ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων; LXX.)." The reference in Isaiah is to Moses and the Red Sea, the well-known types of Christ and his resurrection, and of ours to a new life, leading to eternal life, through him. He is called "the great Shepherd," as in Hebrews 4:14 the "great High Priest," as being the true fulfillment of the ancient types. "In [i.e. 'in virtue of'] the blood of the covenant" seems to be suggested by Zechariah 9:11, Καὶ σὺ ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης σου ἐξαπέστειλας δεσμίους σου ἐκ λάκκου οὐκ ἔχοντος ὕδωρ: αἰωνίου being added (as αέγαν before) to distinguish the new covenant from the old. The suitableness of the words to the contents of the Epistle is obvious. It is observed that the above is the only distinct allusion in the Epistle to Christ's resurrection, the writer's treatment of his subject having led him to pass at once from the sacrifice to the heavenly intercession. But "non concludit apostolus, autequam menti-onem fecerit resurrectionis Christi" (Bengel).
Not an O.T. phrase, and found only in Paul and Hebrews. See Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16. The phrase signifies God who is the author and giver of peace.
Who brought again from the dead (ὁ ἀναγαγὼν ἐκ νεκρῶν)
The only direct reference in the epistle to the resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 6:2 refers to the resurrection of the dead generally. Ἁνάγειν of raising the dead, only Romans 10:7. Rend. "brought up," and comp. Wisd. 16:13. Ἁνά in this compound, never in N.T. in the sense of again. See on Luke 8:22; see on Acts 12:4; see on Acts 16:34; see on Acts 27:3. The verb often as a nautical term, to bring a vessel up from the land to the deep water; to put to sea.
That great shepherd of the sheep (τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν)
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant (ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου)
Rend. "in the blood of an eternal covenant." See Zechariah 9:11. The phrase eternal covenant N.T.o. Common in lxx; see Genesis 9:16; Genesis 17:19; Leviticus 24:8; 2 Samuel 23:5; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60. Const. with the great shepherd of the sheep. It may be granted that the raising of Christ from the dead, viewed as the consummation of the plan of salvation, was in the sphere of the blood of the covenant; nevertheless, the covenant is nowhere in the N.T. associated with the resurrection, but frequently with death, especially in this epistle. See Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 9:16, Hebrews 9:17, Hebrews 9:20. The connection of the blood of the covenant with Christ's pastoral office gives a thoroughly scriptural sense, and one which exactly fits into the context. Christ becomes the great shepherd solely through the blood of the covenant. Comp. Acts 20:28. Through this is brought about the new relation of the church with God described in Hebrews 8:10 ff. This tallies perfectly with the conception of "the God of peace"; and the great Shepherd will assert the power of the eternal covenant of reconciliation and peace by perfecting his flock in every good work to do his will, working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight. With this agree Jeremiah 50:5, Jeremiah 50:19; Ezekiel 34:25, and the entire chapter, see especially Ezekiel 34:12-15, Ezekiel 34:23, Ezekiel 34:31. In these verses the Shepherd of the Covenant appears as guiding, tending his flock, and leading them into fair and safe pastures. Comp. Isaiah 63:11-14, and Revelation 7:17, see note on ποιμανεῖ shall shepherd. Ἑν αἵματι "in the blood," is in virtue of, or in the power of the blood.
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