Hebrews 1:13
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) But to which of the angels.—The final appeal is made to that Psalm which more frequently than any other is quoted in reference to Christ, and which we have already seen to be the source of all the New Testament references to the Saviour’s session at the right hand of God. It is not necessary to say much here respecting Psalms 110, to which so many allusions will be made in the course of this Epistle. That it was regularly understood by the Jews of our Lord’s time to be a Messianic Psalm is clear both from Matthew 22:43-44, and from the independent notices which we possess. Most probably, it stands alone amongst the Psalms as being simply prophetic: the words of Hebrews 1:1 have never been addressed either to angels or to an earthly king. On the special words of the quotation see Hebrews 1:3.

Said he at any time.—Better, hath He ever said.

Until I make . . .—Literally, until I shall have made Thine enemies a footstool of Thy feet.

Hebrews 1:13. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit thou, &c. — In this interrogation a vehement negation is included; He said not at any time to any of the angels, as he said to his Son in the human nature, Psalm 110:1. Sit thou on my right hand — Reign thou over the universe; till, &c. — He never spake these words, or the like, concerning them; there is no testimony to that purpose recorded in the whole book of God, the only means of such knowledge, and rule of our faith in such things. Our Lord (Matthew 22:43) spake of it to the Pharisees as a thing certain, and allowed by all the Jewish doctors, that David wrote the cxth Psalm (from which this quotation is made) by inspiration of the Spirit, concerning Christ. This passage, therefore, is rightly applied to Christ by the writer of this epistle. See note on Psalm 110:1. I make thine enemies thy footstool — The eastern princes used to tread on the necks of their vanquished enemies, in token of their utter subjection, Joshua 10:24. And some of the more haughty ones, in mounting their horses, used their enemies as a footstool. This passage, therefore, is a prediction of the entire conquest of evil angels and wicked men, Christ’s enemies. Are they not all ministering spirits, &c. — The apostle having proved the pre- eminence of the Son, as Mediator of the new covenant, above all the angels, from the attributes of honour and glory that are ascribed to him in the Scripture, that he might not appear to argue merely in a negative manner, from what is not said concerning them, he adds here such a description of their natures and office, or employment as shows that indeed no such thing can be rightly affirmed concerning them, as he had before manifested to be spoken and recorded concerning the Son: 1st, As to their nature, they are πνευματα, spirits, or spiritual substances; not qualities, or natural faculties, as the Sadducees imagined: and 2d, As to their offices, they are πνευματα λειτουργικα, ministering spirits. So they are termed Psalm 103:21. Bless the Lord all ye his hosts, λειτουργοι αυτου, ye ministers of his that do his pleasure. And how they execute their office we here learn. They are εις διακονιαν αποστελλομενα, sent forth unto a ministry: δια τους μελλοντας κληρονομειν σωτηριαν, on account, or for the sake of those that shall be heirs of salvation — Perhaps this is said in allusion to the Hebrew name of angels, which properly signifies messengers. The word all is here emphatical, denoting that even the highest orders of angels, dominions, thrones, principalities, and powers bow the knee and are subject to Jesus; ministering in the affairs of the world according to his direction. But although the Scriptures speak of all the angels as thus ministering, the word all does not imply that every individual angel is actually employed in this way, but that every one is subject to be so employed. It must be observed also, that the expression is not, sent forth to minister to, but δια, for — Or on account of; them who shall be heirs of salvation. And herein the harmony subsisting between both parts of God’s family is still preserved. As in the service of the church the ministers thereof do not, properly speaking, minister to man, but to the Lord in the behalf of men, (Acts 13:2,) so is it with these spirits also; they are sent forth to minister for the good of men, but properly it is the Lord to whom they minister. His servants they are, not ours: rather, they are our fellow-servants. As all the servants of a king, though otherwise they greatly differ, agree in this, that they are all servants to the same person. Wherefore this passage affords no ground for believing that every heir of salvation has a guardian angel assigned him. Of the ministry of angels for the benefit of the heirs of salvation we have many examples both in the Old and in the New Testament.

1:4-14 Many Jews had a superstitious or idolatrous respect for angels, because they had received the law and other tidings of the Divine will by their ministry. They looked upon them as mediators between God and men, and some went so far as to pay them a kind of religious homage or worship. Thus it was necessary that the apostle should insist, not only on Christ's being the Creator of all things, and therefore of angels themselves, but as being the risen and exalted Messiah in human nature, to whom angels, authorities, and powers are made subject. To prove this, several passages are brought from the Old Testament. On comparing what God there says of the angels, with what he says to Christ, the inferiority of the angels to Christ plainly appears. Here is the office of the angels; they are God's ministers or servants, to do his pleasure. But, how much greater things are said of Christ by the Father! And let us own and honour him as God; for if he had not been God, he had never done the Mediator's work, and had never worn the Mediator's crown. It is declared how Christ was qualified for the office of Mediator, and how he was confirmed in it: he has the name Messiah from his being anointed. Only as Man he has his fellows, and as anointed with the Holy Spirit; but he is above all prophets, priests, and kings, that ever were employed in the service of God on earth. Another passage of Scripture, Ps 102:25-27, is recited, in which the Almighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ is declared, both in creating the world and in changing it. Christ will fold up this world as a garment, not to be abused any longer, not to be used as it has been. As a sovereign, when his garments of state are folded and put away, is a sovereign still, so our Lord, when he has laid aside the earth and heavens like a vesture, shall be still the same. Let us not then set our hearts upon that which is not what we take it to be, and will not be what it now is. Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse, and Christ will make a great change in it for the better. Let the thoughts of this make us watchful, diligent, and desirous of that better world. The Saviour has done much to make all men his friends, yet he has enemies. But they shall be made his footstool, by humble submission, or by utter destruction. Christ shall go on conquering and to conquer. The most exalted angels are but ministering spirits, mere servants of Christ, to execute his commands. The saints, at present, are heirs, not yet come into possession. The angels minister to them in opposing the malice and power of evil spirits, in protecting and keeping their bodies, instructing and comforting their souls, under Christ and the Holy Ghost. Angels shall gather all the saints together at the last day, when all whose hearts and hopes are set upon perishing treasures and fading glories, will be driven from Christ's presence into everlasting misery.But to which of the angels - The apostle adduces one other proof of the exaltation of the Son of God above the angels. He asks where there is an instance in which God had addressed any one of the angels, and asked him to sit at his right hand until he should subdue his enemies under him? Yet that high honor had been conferred on the Son of God; and he was therefore far exalted above them. "Sit on my right hand;" see notes on Hebrews 1:3. This passage is taken from Psalm 110:1, a Psalm that is repeatedly quoted in this Epistle as referring to the Messiah, and the very passage before is applied by the Saviour to himself, in Matthew 22:43-44, and by Peter it is applied to him in Acts 2:34-35. There can be no doubt, therefore, of its applicability to the Messiah. "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Until I reduce them to entire subjection. A footstool is what is placed under the feet when we sit on a chair, and the phrase here means that an enemy is entirely subdued; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 15:25. The phrase "to make an enemy a footstool," is borrowed from the custom of ancient warriors who stood on the necks of vanquished kings on the occasion of celebrating a triumph over them as a token of their complete prostration and subjection; see notes on Isaiah 10:6. The enemies here referred to are the foes of God and of his religion, and the meaning is, that the Messiah is to be exalted until all those foes are subdued. Then he will give up the kingdom to the Father; see notes on 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. The exaltation of the Redeemer, to which the apostle refers here, is to the mediatorial throne. In this he is exalted far above the angels. His foes are to be subdued to him, but angels are to be employed as mere instruments in that great work. 13. Quotation from Ps 110:1. The image is taken from the custom of conquerors putting the feet on the necks of the conquered (Jos 10:24, 25). But to which of the angels said he at any time? This introduceth the last demonstration of the gospel Minister’s pre-eminency for state, office, and name, above angels. The form is thus; He that is God’s fellow, and right-hand man, is more excellent, and hath a better name, than those who are only ministers to his saints. This is to be the state of Christ he proves here; for to none of the angels did Jehovah ever say this, he never gave them that honour by his word. It is an interrogatory challenge to the Hebrews to produce that text in Scripture, which doth assert, that at any time, in any place, God gave such an honorary word to angels: this was impossible for them to do. Though God the Father never said this to any angel, yet did he say this, and records it in the Scripture, to the Lord Christ. And it was a word to him constitutivum rei, fixing the very thing. This is recorded in Psalm 110:1, where God’s powerful word settled Christ in the honour, glory, and dignity of universal lordship over angels and men, so as to reign over them, 1 Corinthians 15:25; which administration he is now in the flesh solemnly managing at the right hand of his Father, Hebrews 1:3, ever since his ascension, and so is to continue.

Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool; during all the time of this world, until by his power he reduce, subdue, and subjugate all to him, even every thing and person that should be adverse to his sovereign person and kingdom, all devils and men, subjugating of them to the basest condition, to be trod under his feet, as mire in the street, utterly destroying them, when he glorifieth his saints, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. The term of this word

until doth not denote the end of his reign, as if after this he should not reign, but is declarative of his reign all the time before: though his enemies were many and strong, yet it is said, 1 Corinthians 15:24,28, that then he shall deliver up the kingdom to his Father. As to his natural kingdom, which is his as God the Son, that is, equally enjoyed with the Father, and that for ever, there is no end of it; but as to his mediatory kingdom, given him by choice, and in a special manner appropriated to him as God-man for his season, this, when his work is done, and all his enemies subdued, he will resign unto the Father, that God may be all in all.

But to which of the angels said he at any time,.... That is, he never said to any of them in his council, or covenant; he never designed to give them any such honour, as hereafter expressed; he never promised it to them, or bestowed it on them; he never called up any of them to so high a place, or to such a dignity:

sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool; yet this he said to his Son, Psalm 110:1 for to him, the Messiah, are they spoken, and have had their fulfilment in him: See Gill on Matthew 22:44; and therefore he must be greater than the angels.

{10} But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

(10) He proves and confirms the dignity of Christ revealed in the flesh, by these six evident testimonies by which it appears that he far surpasses all angels, so much so that he is called both Son, and God in Heb 1:5,6,7,8,10,13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 1:13. Further citation from Psalm 110:1, according to the LXX. The psalm was looked upon universally in the time of Christ (comp. Matthew 22:44 ff.; Mark 12:35 ff.; Luke 20:41 ff.), and also in later times by many Rabbins (see Wetstein on Matthew 22:44), as a prophecy relating to the Messiah; inasmuch as on the ground of the superscription לְדָוִד David himself was regarded as the author of it, and in connection with this view the reference to the Messiah was easily proved on the ground of the words at the beginning: “to my Lord speaketh Jehovah,” according to which David acknowledges, in addition to his God, also a Lord over him. The superscription לְדָוִד, nevertheless, indicates not the writer, but the subject of the psalm. It is in its historic sense an oracle pronounced to David, when the latter was preparing for war against his powerful foes. See Ewald on the Psalm.

πρὸς τίνα δέ] δέ he in the third place, as often occurs after prepositional combinations. Comp. Klotz, ad Devar. p. 378 f.; Hartung, Partikellehre, I. p. 190 f.; Ellendt, Lexic. Soph. I. p. 397; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 519.

The sitting at the right hand, figure of the highest honour and dominion, see on Hebrews 1:3.

ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου] the footstool of Thy feet. There lies in the expression an allusion to the custom of the victor of placing his foot upon the neck of the vanquished, in token of the complete subjection of the latter; comp. Joshua 10:24.

ὑποπόδιον] first used in the Greek of a later age. Comp. Sturz, de dial. Alex. et Maced. p. 199.

13. until I make thine enemies thy footstool] This same passage from Psalm 110:1 had been quoted by our Lord, in its Messianic sense, to the Scribes and Pharisees, without any attempt on their part to challenge His application of it (Matthew 22:41-44). It is also referred to by St Peter in Acts 2:34 and by St Paul (1 Corinthians 15:25). The Greek expression for “till” implies entire indefiniteness of time. The reference is to the oriental custom of putting the feet on the necks of conquered kings (Joshua 10:24).

Hebrews 1:13. Δὲ, but) An Epitasis. [See Append.]

Verse 13. - But to which of the angels said he (properly, hath he said) at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? A final and crowning quotation is thus adduced, in the form in which the first quotation referring to the SON (ver. 5) had been introduced, to complete the view of his superiority to the angels. The quotation is from Psalm 110, the reference of which to the Messiah is settled beyond controversy to Christian believers, not only by its being quoted or alluded to more frequently than any other psalm with that reference in the New Testament (Acts 2:34; Acts 7:55, 56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-22; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3, 13, 14; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12, 13), and by the introduction of its language into the Church's earliest Creeds, but also by the authority of our Lord himself, as recorded by all the three synoptical evangelists (Matthew 22:41; Mark 12:35; Luke 20:41). Hence readers of this Commentary will not require a confutation of the arguments of any modern rationalistic critics who have disputed the Messianic meaning of the psalm. Their arguments rest really on their a priori denial of a "spirit of prophecy" in the psalms generally; in their refusal to recognize, what the later prophets recognized, an unfulfilled ideal in what the psalmists wrote of theocratic kings. Let us once recognize this, and we shall perceive in this psalm peculiar marks of the spirit of prophecy, reaching beyond any contemporary fulfillment, not only in the assignment to the King of a seat at the right hand of the heavenly throne, but also in his remarkable designation as a "Priest after the order of Melchizedek," of which more will be said under Hebrews 5. and Hebrews 7. of this Epistle. It is to be observed also how prophets, long after the psalm was written, regarded its ideal as still awaiting fulfillment; e.g. Daniel (Daniel 7:13, etc.), whose vision of the Son of man brought near before the Ancient of days, and having an everlasting dominion given him, is referred to by our Lord (Matthew 26:64) in connection with the psalm, as awaiting fulfillment in himself; and Zechariah (Zechariah 6:12, etc.:, who takes up the idea of the psalm in speaking of the Branch, who was to unite in himself royalty and priesthood. The psalm is entitled, "A psalm of David." Though this title is prefixed to some psalms the contents of which suggest a later date, and is not, therefore, considered proof of authorship, it proves at least the tradition and belief of the Jews when the Hebrew Psalter was arranged in its existing form. But we have in this case evidence in the three Gospels of its universal acceptance as a psalm of David by the Jews in the time of our Lord; and, what is of more weight, of his having himself referred to it as such. The whole point of his argument with the Pharisees depends on the acknowledgment of David being the speaker, as well as of the Messiah being the Person spoken cf. None of the Pharisees thought of disputing either of these premises; they were evidently received as indisputable; nor can it be conceived (as has been irreverently suggested) that our Lord did not thus give his own sanction to their truth. Nor, further, is there in the psalm itself any internal evidence against its Davidic authorship, though, but for the above testimony to the contrary, it might have been the composition of a prophet of David's day, or written by David for use by his people - the term, "my lord," having thus a primary reference to him. In either of these cases we might suppose the original conception of ver. 1 to have been that of David himself being enthroned on Zion at the side of the "King of glory" (Psalm 24.) who had "come in;" while ver. 4 might possibly have been suggested by David's organization of the services of the tabernacle, and by the personal part he took in the ritual when the ark was removed to Zion. Even so, the quotation would answer the purpose of the argument according to the view of the drift of Messianic psalms which has been explained above. But, even independently of the distinct import of our Lord's words, there are reasons (pointed out by Delitzsch) against the supposition of even a primary reference to David in the words, "my lord." Two may be mentioned:

(1) that the assignment of sacerdotal functions to an earthly king is contrary to the whole spirit of the Old Testament;

(2) that God's own throne is elsewhere represented as, not in Zion, but above the heavens. Now, the conclusion thus arrived at, that David himself is speaking throughout the psalm of another than himself, gives a peculiar force to this final quotation, in that the Antitype is distinguished from and raised above the type more evidently than in other Messianic psalms. In others (as we have regarded them) the typical king himself is the primary object in view, though ideally glorified so as to foreshadow One greater than himself; here the typical king seems to have a distinct vision of the Messiah apart from himself, and speaks of him as his lord. It does not follow that David's own position and circumstances did not form a basis for his vision. We perceive traces of them in "the rod of thy strength out of Zion," and in the picture which follows of the submission of heathen kings after warfare and slaughter. But vers. 1 and 4 point still to another than himself whom he foresees in the spirit of prophecy. The psalm begins, literally translated, "The voice [or, 'oracle,' Hebrew נְאֻם] of Jehovah to my lord, Sit thou on my right hand," etc. This sounds like more than a mere echo of Nathan's message, the language being different and still more significant. And that such a vision of a future fulfillment of the promise was not foreign to the mind of David appears from his "last words" (2 Samuel 23:1, etc.), where also the significant word נְאֻס is used. And now, mark what the language of this "oracle" implies - not merely the enthronement of the Son on Zion as God's Vicegerent, but his session at the right hand of God himself, i.e. "at the right hand of the Majesty on high;" God's own throne being ever (as has been said above) regarded as above the heavens, or, if on earth, above the cherubim. Such, then, being the meaning of the "oracle" (and it is the meaning uniformly given it in the New Testament), well may it be adduced as the final and crowning proof of the position above the angels assigned to the SON in prophecy. Hebrews 1:13Seventh quotation, Psalm 109. No one of the angels was ever enthroned at God's right hand.

Sit (κάθου)

Or be sitting, as distinguished from ἐκάθισεν, Hebrews 1:3, which marked the act of assuming the place.

On my right hand (ἐκ δεξιῶν μοῦ)

Lit. "from my right hand." The usual formula is ἐν δεξίᾳ. The genitive indicates moving from the right hand and taking the seat. The meaning is, "be associated with me in my royal dignity." Comp. Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14, and the combination of the Psalm and Daniel in Christ's words, Mark 14:62. Comp. also Matthew 24:30; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; 1 Peter 3:22.

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