Hebrews 6:18
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Two immutable things.—The promise and the oath.

Consolation.—Rather, encouragement. For us, rather than for Abraham alone, was the encouragement designed; for us, who (as men in danger of their lives flee to the sanctuary) “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” in the promise. Up to this point we read of what God has done; here of what must be done by man. The laying hold expresses the “faith,” and implies the “patient waiting” (Hebrews 6:12); by it we become true “heirs of the promise” (Hebrews 6:17).

Hebrews 6:18-19. That by two immutable things in either, much more in both, of which it was impossible for God to lie — To alter his purpose and disappoint our expectation; we might have a strong consolation — A powerful argument to believe the promise with a confidence excluding all doubt and fear, and might receive a great comfort thereby; who have fled for refuge — Who, under a consciousness of our sinfulness and guilt, depravity, weakness, and wretchedness, have betaken ourselves for safety from deserved wrath; to lay hold on the hope — The promise (so confirmed by an oath) which is the ground of our hope; set before us in Christ — Through whom alone we can have salvation, present and eternal; which hope — In and through Christ, our righteousness and sanctification; we have as an anchor of the soul — The apostle here alludes to an anchor, which when cast, both preserves the vessel from losing the ground she has gained, and keeps her steady amid the winds and waves, when the art and skill of the mariners are overcome, and they cannot steer the ship in its right course, nor could otherwise preserve it from rocks, shelves, or sand- banks; both sure — Ασφαλη, safe, that will not fail, or may with confidence be trusted to, the matter of which it is formed being solid, and the proportion of it suited to the burden of the ship; and steadfast Βεβαιαν, firm against all opposition, which no violence of winds or storms can either break or move from its hold; and which entereth into that within the veil — He alludes to the veil which divided the holy place of the Jewish tabernacle or temple from the most holy: and thus he slides back to the priesthood of Christ. But he does not speak of that which was within the veil, namely, the ark and mercy-seat, the tables of stone, and cherubim, the work of men’s hands, but of the things signified by them; God himself on a throne of grace, and the Lord Christ, as the high-priest of the church, at his right hand: or the Father as the author, the Lord Jesus as the purchaser, and the covenant as the conveyer of all grace; which were all typically represented by the things within the veil. And the apostle makes use of this allusion to instruct the Hebrews in the nature and use of the old tabernacle institutions; and from thence in the true nature of the priesthood of Christ, to which he is now returning. The meaning is, that the believer’s hope lays hold on God himself, on a throne of grace and on Christ as the High-Priest of the church, who is in heaven itself, the place of God’s presence, typified by the holy of holies.6:11-20 The hope here meant, is a sure looking for good things promised, through those promises, with love, desire, and valuing of them. Hope has its degrees, as faith also. The promise of blessedness God has made to believers, is from God's eternal purpose, settled between the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. These promises of God may safely be depended upon; for here we have two things which cannot change, the counsel and the oath of God, in which it is not possible for God to lie; it would be contrary to his nature as well as to his will. And as He cannot lie; the destruction of the unbeliever, and the salvation of the believer, are alike certain. Here observe, those to whom God has given full security of happiness, have a title to the promises by inheritance. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all sinners who flee to the mercy of God, through the redemption of Christ, according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences. We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and stedfast, or it could not keep us so. The free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of this hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Christ is the object and ground of the believer's hope. Let us therefore set our affections on things above, and wait patiently for his appearance, when we shall certainly appear with him in glory.That by two immutable things - What the "two immutable things" here referred to are, has been made a matter of question among commentators. Most expositors, as Doddridge, Whitby, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and Calvin, suppose that the reference is to the promise and the oath of God, each of which would be a firm ground of the assurance of salvation, and in each of which it would be impossible for God to lie. Prof. Stuart supposes that the reference is to "two oaths" - the oath made to Abraham, and that by which the Messiah was made High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10. He supposes that thus the salvation of believers would be amply secured, by the promise that Abraham should have a Son, the Messiah, in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed, and in the oath that this Son should be High Priest forever. But to this interpretation it may be objected that the apostle seems to refer to two things distinct from each other in their nature, and not to two acts of the same kind. There are two kinds of security referred to, whereas the security furnished according to this interpretation would be the same - that arising from an oath. However numerous the oaths might be, still it would be security of the same kind, and if one of them were broken no certainty could be derived from the other. On the supposition, however, that he refers to the "promise" and the "oath," there would be two kinds of assurance of different kinds. On the supposition that the "promise" was disregarded - if such a supposition may be made still there would be the security of the "oath" - and thus the assurance of salvation was two-fold. It seems to me, therefore, that the apostle refers to the "promise" and to the "oath" of God, as constituting the two grounds of security for the salvation of his people. Those things were both unchangeable, and when his word and oath are once passed, what he promises is secure.

In which it was impossible for God to lie - That is, it would be contrary to his nature; it is not for a moment to be supposed; compare Titus 1:2, "God - that cannot lie." The impossibility is a "moral" impossibility, and the use of the word here explains the sense in which the words "impossible, cannot," etc., are often used in the Scriptures. The meaning here is, that such was the love of God for truth; such his holiness of character, that he "could" not speak falsely.

We might have a strong consolation - The strongest of which the mind can conceive. The consolation of a Christian is not in his own strength; his hope of heaven is not in any reliance on his own powers. His comfort is, that God has "promised" eternal life to his people, and that He cannot prove false to his word; Titus 1:2.

Who have fled for refuge - Referring to the fact that one charged with murder fled to the city of refuge, or laid hold on an altar for security. So we guilty and deserving of death have fled to the hopes of the gospel in the Redeemer.

To lay hold upon - To seize and hold fast - as one does an altar when he is pursued by the avenger of blood.

The hope set before us - The hope of eternal life offered in the gospel. This is set before us as our refuge, and to this we flee when we feel that we are in danger of death. On the nature of hope, see the notes on Ephesians 2:12.

18. immutable—Translate, as in Heb 6:17, "unchangeable."

impossible … to lie—"ever to lie"; this is the force of the Greek aorist [Alford]. His not being able to deny Himself is a proof, not of weakness, but of strength incomparable.

consolation—under doubts and fears, and so "encouragement," literally, "exhortation."

fled for refuge—as if from a shipwreck; or, as one fleeing to one of the six cities of refuge. Kadesh, that is, holy, implies the holiness of Jesus, our Refuge. Shechem, that is, shoulder, the government is upon his shoulder (Isa 9:6). Hebron, that is, fellowship, believers are called into the fellowship of Christ. Bezer, that is, a fortress, Christ is so to all who trust in Him. Ramoth, that is, high, for Him hath God exalted with His right hand (Ac 5:31). Golan, that is, joy, for in Him all the saints are justified and shall glory.

lay hold upon the hope—that is, the object of our hope, as upon a preservative from sinking.

set before us—as a prize for which we strive; a new image, namely, the race course (Heb 12:1, 2).

That by two immutable things: another end of the Mediator’s oath is here added, God’s oath and a promise spoken to before, which are firm and stedfast to eternity; heaven and earth may pass away, but they cannot.

In which it was impossible for God to lie, i.e. to cease to be himself, for essential truth to become a lie is impossible, it is utterly inconsistent with his nature. He is incapable to deceive, or speak against his mind, Numbers 23:19 1 Samuel 15:29 Psalm 89:35 Titus 1:2; and it is as impossible for him to violate his promise or oath.

We might have a strong consolation; such as will vanquish all doubts, fears, jealousies, sorrows, distractions, putting the heart into a quiet, peaceful, settled frame, and stablishing it in it, whatsoever temptations, trials, or persecutions it may meet with from without or within to perplex it.

Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: but it is the heart of a persevering believer, not of common professors, which is so strongly settled and comforted by them; such who flee to take hold of them; having cleared their right to them, and possessing their souls of them by faith, so to hold fast, as who would no more leave, than Joab would the horns of the altar, being a far greater security than it, or any city of refuge whatsoever; retreating to, and keeping in, this strong hold, nothing can interrupt their comfort. or hurt them, Job 13:15,16 Pr 18:10.

The hope set before them is that eternal, good, and blessed state which is reserved in heaven for believers, the object of their hope set out to their view and prosecution as a prize in the promise, 1 Peter 1:3,4; by a metonymy of the effect for the cause, hope and good hoped for are joined together for our pursuit. That by two immutable things,.... God's counsel and oath, which never change and alter, and from which he never varies:

in which it was impossible for God to lie; fail or deceive, nor, indeed, in anything else, besides his counsels, promises, and oath, see Titus 1:2

we might have a strong consolation; the saints often stand in need of consolation, by reason of sin, Satan, and the world; and it is the will of God that they should be comforted; and he would have them have

strong consolation; that which is solid and an abundance of it; and this much depends on the immutability of God's counsel and oath:

who have fled for refuge; either in allusion to mariners, as some think; who make all the haste they can to their port and haven, and are glad when they arrive there, and there cast anchor; of which mention is made in the next verse: or to runners in a race, who make up to the mark, in order to lay hold on the prize; hence Christ is afterwards spoken of as a forerunner: or rather to such as fled to the cities of refuge, which were a type of Christ; the names of these cities were, Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Romath, and Golan; Joshua 20:7 and the situation of them, according to the Jews (s), was like two rows in a vineyard. Hebron in Judah was over against Bezer in the wilderness; Shechem in Mount Ephraim was over against Ramoth in Gilead; Kedesh in Mount Naphtali was over against Golan in Bashan: the names of these several cities agree with Christ; Kedesh signifies "holy", as Christ is, both as God and man, and is made sanctification to his people; Shechem is "the shoulder", and Christ has not only bore the sins of his people in his own body, on the tree, but he bears and carries their persons, and has the government of them on his shoulders, where they are safe and secure; Hebron may be interpreted "fellowship", and the saints have not only fellowship with Christ; but with the Father through him; Bezer may be rendered a "fortified place"; Christ is a stronghold, a tower, a place of defence, whither the righteous run, and are safe; Ramoth signifies "exaltations"; and may fitly be applied to Christ, who is exalted at God's right hand, and who will exalt those that trust in him in due time: Golan may be translated "manifested"; Christ the Son of God has been manifest in the flesh, to destroy the works of the devil; and he will be revealed from heaven in a glorious manner at the last day: these cities were known to be such; and they were open to all Israelites and proselytes, that killed any person at unawares; and they were open at all times; and the way to them was made plain and large; every year care was taken to make the way good, to remove every hillock, or anything that hindered; if there was a river in the way, to make a bridge over it; and where more ways met, to set up pillars with a hand to them, and these words written on it, , "refuge, refuge"; nor was the road to be less in breadth than thirty two cubits (t); and there was always room in these cities; and whoever fled there was safe; but those that were found without died: thus Christ is known to be a refuge for distressed sinners; and he is open to all that come unto him, and at all times; the way of life and salvation by him is plainly pointed out in the Gospel, and by the ministers of it; who are appointed to direct unto him, and to remove all impediments and discouragements from such who are seeking to him; and though so many have been received and saved by him, still there is room for more; and whoever betake themselves to him are safe, but those that are without him die and perish: so Philo the Jew (u) makes the divine Word, or Logos, to be the chief and most profitable refuge to fly unto, of all the six which he takes notice of; and the Jews have a notion that in the time to come, in the days of the Messiah, three other cities of refuge will be added (w). There is in some things a difference between Christ and these cities of refuge; there were six of these, but there is no other than Christ; the cities of refuge were only for such who shed blood ignorantly, but Christ is a refuge for all sorts of sinners; they were in a kind of exile who fled to them, but in Christ is complete liberty; it was possible that such might die in them, but those that are in Christ never die the second death; and at best those who fled thither were only saved from a temporal death, whereas those who betake themselves to Christ are saved with an everlasting salvation. Now "fleeing" to Christ, implies danger in the persons that flee, as such are in danger, in themselves, of the curse and condemnation of the law, of the wrath of God, and eternal death; it supposes a sense of this danger, which when right comes from the Spirit of God; it shows guilt of conscience, and a consciousness of the insufficiency of other refuges, and a knowledge of Christ; as a suitable one; and is expressive of haste and hearty desire to be there:

to lay hold on the hope set before us; by which is meant, not the grace of hope, but either heaven hoped for, or rather Christ the object of hope; who is not only set down at God's right hand, but is set forth in the Gospel and in the ordinances, both by the Spirit of God, and by the ministers of the word; that men may look and go to him, and trust and believe in him, to the saving of their souls; where he is in sight, near at hand, accessible to; the way to him is straightforward; and here he abides: and he is set before us to be laid hold upon, which intends an act of faith; which grace lays hold on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; and is done in a view of fulness and safety in him, and under a sense of danger otherwise; it supposes grace, and that in exercise and somewhat strong; and some degree of resolution and courage of faith, and the steadfastness and continuance of it; the soul determining, if it perishes it will perish here; and it shows that Christ and his grace are to be touched and laid hold upon by faith.

(s) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 9. 2.((t) T. Hieros. Maccot, fol. 31. 4. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 23. fol. 232, 3. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 8. sect. 5. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, pr. Affirm, 76, Bartenora in Misn. Maccot, c. 2. sect. 6. (u) De profugis, p. 464. (w) T. Hieros. Maccot, fol. 32. 1. Maimon. ut supra, (Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 8.) sect. 4.

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 6:18. Indication of purpose to ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ, Hebrews 6:17, and consequently parallel to the participial clause there, περισσότερον βουλόμενος ἐπιδ. τοῖς κληρονόμ. τῆς ἐπ. τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ, but no mere repetition of the same, since the divine purpose, which was there presented purely objectively in relation to Christians, is now subjectively turned in relation to them.

διὰ δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων] by virtue of two unalterable facts, namely, by virtue of the promise and the oath. Against the connection (comp. Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:17) Reuss: l’une de ces choses c’est la parole évangélique apportée par Christ, l’autre le serment typique donné à Abraham.

δύο] See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 63; Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 25.

ἐν οἷς ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι θεόν] in which (i.e. in connection with their fulfilment) it is impossible that God should have lied (deceived). For God is faithful. His bare word is trustworthy; how much more thus when He confirms it by an oath! To supply a ἡμᾶς to ψεύσασθαι (Heinrichs) is inadmissible.

παράκλησιν] not “consolation” (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Jac. Cappellus, Piscator, Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Böhme, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, and the majority), but, as the hortatory tendency of our whole section requires: encouragement (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Semler, Carpzov, Stuart, Bleek, Tholuck, de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, Conybeare, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others).

Upon παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν, not upon οἱ καταφυγόντες (Primasius, Erasmus, Beza, Schlichting, Grotius, Akersloot, Wolf, Carpzov, Abresch, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 749), Alford, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, and many others), does κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος depend; so that οἱ καταφυγόντες is to be taken, with Oecumenius, Camerarius, Cameron, Seb. Schmidt, Heinrichs, Bleek, Maier, Hofmann, and others, absolutely.

οἱ καταφυγόντες] those who have fled, with the subordinate notion of having found refuge, thus the sheltered, saved ones. As regards the sense, the expression is to be thus filled up: we who have fled out of the sinful world, and have fled to God. As an analogon is compared οἱ σωζόμενοι (Acts 2:47, al.).

κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος] to hold fast (Luther, Schulz, Stuart, Bleek, Conybeare, Maier, Moll, Hofmann, and others) to the hope lying in readiness. To interpret κρατῆσαι as “to lay hold” (Wolf, Tholuck, de Wette, Alford, Kurtz, Ewald, al.), with a right combining with παράκλησιν, is forbidden by the connection; comp. Hebrews 6:11, according to which the readers already possess the ἐλπίς, but not as yet any πληροφορία thereof; comp. further the διὰ μακροθυμίας, Hebrews 6:12, and μακροθυμήσας, Hebrews 6:15.

τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος is not the same thing as τῆς ἐλπίδος τῶν προκειμένων, “to the hope of the blessings of salvation which lie before us, which await us” (Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Maier), in such wise that a mingling of the objective notion of ἐλπίς with the subjective notion thereof would have to be assumed. Still less are we at liberty, with Grotius, Seb. Schmidt, Wittich, Peirce, Limborch, Heinrichs, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Bloomfield, Alford, Hofmann, and others, to interpret ἐλπίς in itself alone as “res sperata” (comp. Colossians 1:5). On the contrary, Hebrews 6:19 points to the Christian hope in the subjective sense. As προκειμένη, however, lying at hand, or existing in readiness, this is characterized, since it is already infused into the Christians, has already been communicated to them as a blessing for possession, with their reception of Christianity.Hebrews 6:18. The motive of this procedure on God’s part has already been indicated in βουλόμενος, but now it is more fully declared. ἵνα διὰ δύοἐλπίδος “that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us”. The two immutable things are God’s promise and His oath. It is impossible for God to break His promise, impossible also for him to falsify His oath. Both of these were given that even weak men might have strong encouragement. The emphasis is on ἰσχυρὰν, no ordinary encouragement. Interpreters are divided as to the construction of κρατῆσαι, Œcumenius, Bleek, Lünemann, and others maintaining its dependence on παράκλησιν, encouragement to hold fast the hope; while others, as Beza, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Weiss, construe it with καταφυγόντες as in A.V. “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope”. If this latter construction be not adopted, καταφυγ. is left undefined and must be taken in an absolute sense, which is unwarranted. It is the word used in the LXX (Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 19:5; Joshua 20:9) for fleeing from the avenger to the asylum of the cities of refuge. So here Christians are represented as fleeing from the threatened danger and laying hold of that which promises safety. κρατῆσαι (aor. of single act) must therefore be rendered “to lay hold of” and not, as in Hebrews 4:14, “hold fast”. The former meaning is much more frequent than the latter. τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος, the hope, that is, the object of hope is set before us as the city of refuge was set before the refugee and it is laid hold of by the hope it excites. προκειμ. is used of any object of ambition, “de praemiis laborum ac certaminum” (Wetstein, with examples). Cf. Colossians 1:5, τὴν ἐλπίδα τὴν ἀποκειμένην ὑμῖν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.18. by two immutable things] Namely, by the oath and by the word of God. The Targums for “By Myself” have “By My Word have I sworn.”

in which it was impossible for God to lie] St Clement of Rome says “Nothing is impossible to God, except to lie” (Ep. ad Cor. 27). “God that cannot lie” (Titus 1:2. Comp. Numbers 23:19).

consolation] Rather, “encouragement.”

who have fled for refuge] As into one of the refuge-cities of old. Numbers 35:11.

to lay hold upon the hope set before us] “The hope” is here (by a figure called metonymy) used for “the object of hope set before us as a prize” (comp. Hebrews 10:23); “the hope which is laid up for us in heaven,” Colossians 1:5.Hebrews 6:18. Δύο, two) The one the promise, the other the oath.—ἐν οἷς, in which) This refers to δύο, two.—ἰσχυρὰν, strong) So as that it may swallow up all strife (contradiction) arising from distrust. Βεβαίαν, firm, stedfast, follows, ver, 19. Both words are joined, ch. Hebrews 9:17. Ἰσχυρὸς implies that strength by which a man is able to inflict hard blows on his enemy: βέβαιος, that firmness by which he does not allow himself to be moved from the position which he occupies.—οἱ καταφυγόντες, who have fled for refuge) as from a shipwreck: ἄγκυραν, an anchor, follows.—προκειμένης) set before us. The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 12:1-2.Two immutable things (δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων)

His word and his oath.

Strong consolation (ἰσχυρὰν παράκλησιν)

Ἰσχιρὸς strong implies indwelling strength embodied or put forth either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance; as an army or a fortress. For consolation rend. encouragement, and see on Luke 6:24; see on 1 Corinthians 14:3.

Who have fled for refuge (οἱ καταφυγόντες)

Only here and Acts 14:6. The compound verb is well rendered by A.V., since, as distinguished from the simple φεύγειν to flee, it expresses flight to a definite place or person for safety. Hence often used in connection with an altar or a sanctuary. The distinction between the simple and the compound verb is illustrated in Hdt. iv. 23, where, speaking of the barbarous tribe of the Iyrcae, he says, "Whoever flees (φεύγων) and betakes himself for refuge (καταφύγῃ) to them, receives wrong from no one." So Xen., Hellen. 1, 6, 16: "Conon fled (ἔφευγε) in swift vessels, and betakes himself for refuge (καταφεύγει) to Mitylene."

To lay hold upon the hope set before us (κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης)

For κρατῆσαι to lay fast hold, see on Mark 7:3; see on Acts 3:11; see on Colossians 2:19. Προκειμένης lying before or set before; destined or appointed. Mostly in Hebrews. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:12; Jde 1:7.

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