Hebrews 10:37
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) The connection is this: “Ye have need of endurance” for “the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6); ye shall “receive the promise,” for the Lord shall surely come, and that soon.

A little while.—Rather, a very little while. The expression is remarkable and unusual; it is evidently taken from Isaiah 26:20—“Come my people . . . hide thyself for a little moment until the indignation be overpast.” The subject of this passage, from which the one expressive phrase is taken, is the coming of Jehovah “to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;” in “a little moment” shall the indignation consume His foes, then will He give deliverance to His people. Even this passing reference would serve to call up before the mind of the Hebrew readers the solemn associations of the prophecy—the promised salvation, the awful judgment.

And he that shall come will come.—Rather, He that cometh will come and will not tarry. In this and the next verse the writer of the Epistle takes up a passage, Habakkuk 2:3-4, which occupies a very important place in the writings of St. Paul (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11), and, as we have already seen (Note on Hebrews 6:1), in the later Jewish teaching. St. Paul’s citations are limited to a few words of Hebrews 10:4, “But the just shall live by faith;” here are quoted the whole of the fourth verse and part of the third. Perhaps it is too much to say that they are quoted, they are rather applied, for, as will be seen, the order of the clauses (see next verse) is changed, and some alterations are made in the language. It is important in this Epistle to discriminate between the instances of direct quotation from the Scripture, where the word of God is appealed to as furnishing proof, and those in which passages of the Old Testament are explained and applied (see the Note on Hebrews 10:5). The words before us nearly agree with the LXX., “If he delay, wait for him, because coming he will come, and will not tarry.” The subject of the sentence there is not clear; probably the translator believed that the Lord spoke thus of His own coming, or the coming of the future Deliverer. In the Hebrew all relates to the vision, “it will surely come, it will not tarry.” The only difference between the LXX. and the words as they stand here consists in the substitution of “He that cometh” for “coming.” Now the reference to the Deliverer and Judge is made plain. No designation of the Messiah, perhaps, was more familiar than “He that cometh” (Matthew 11:3, et al.); but in is here employed with a new reference—to the second advent in place of the first. The departure from the sense of the Hebrew is not as great as may at first appear. When the prophet says “The vision . . . shall surely come,” it is of that which the vision revealed that he speaks, i.e., of the fall of the Chaldeans; but the salvation of Israel from present danger is throughout the prophets the symbol of the great deliverance (comp. Hebrews 12:26 and Haggai 2:6). With this verse comp. Hebrews 10:25; also Philippians 4:5; James 5:8; 1Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:20, et al.; and, in regard to the application of the prophecy, Hebrews 10:27-28; Hebrews 10:30.

10:32-39 Many and various afflictions united against the early Christians, and they had a great conflict. The Christian spirit is not a selfish spirit; it puts us upon pitying others, visiting them, helping them, and pleading for them. All things here are but shadows. The happiness of the saints in heaven will last for ever; enemies can never take it away as earthly goods. This will make rich amends for all we may lose and suffer here. The greatest part of the saints' happiness, as yet, is in promise. It is a trial of the patience of Christians, to be content to live after their work is done, and to stay for their reward till God's time to give it is come. He will soon come to them at death, to end all their sufferings, and to give them a crown of life. The Christian's present conflict may be sharp, but will be soon over. God never is pleased with the formal profession and outward duties and services of such as do not persevere; but he beholds them with great displeasure. And those who have been kept faithful in great trails for the time past, have reason to hope for the same grace to help them still to live by faith, till they receive the end of their faith and patience, even the salvation of their souls. Living by faith, and dying in faith, our souls are safe for ever.For yet a little while - There seems to be an allusion here to what the Saviour himself said, "A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again, a little while and ye shall see me;" John 16:16. Or more probably it may be to Habakkuk 2:3. "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not he: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." The idea which the apostle means to convey evidently is, that the time of their deliverance from their trials was not far remote.

And he that shall come will come - The reference here is, doubtless, to the Messiah. But what "coming" of his is referred to here, is more uncertain. Most probably the idea is, that the Messiah who was coming to destroy Jerusalem, and to overthrow the Jewish power Matthew 24, would soon do this. In this way he would put a period to their persecutions and trials, as the power of the Jewish people to afflict them would be at an end. A similar idea occurs in Luke 21:28. "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh;" see the notes on that passage. The Christians in Palestine were oppressed, reviled, and persecuted by the Jews. The destruction of the city and the temple would put an end to that power, and would be in fact the time of deliverance for those who had been persecuted. In the passage before us, Paul intimates that that period was not far distant. Perhaps there were already "signs" of his coming, or indications that he was about to appear, and he therefore urges them patiently to persevere in their fidelity to him during the little time of trial that remained. The same encouragement and consolation may be employed still. To all the afflicted it may be said that "he that shall come will come" soon. The time of affiction is not long. Soon the Redeemer will appear to deliver his afflicted people from all their sorrow; to remove them from a world of pain and tears; and to raise their bodies from the dust, and to receive them to mansions where trials are forever unknown; John 14:3 note; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 notes.

37, 38. Encouragement to patient endurance by consideration of the shortness of the time till Christ shall come, and God's rejection of him that draws back, taken from Hab 2:3, 4.

a little while—(Joh 16:16).

he that shall come—literally, "the Comer." In Habakkuk, it is the vision that is said to be about to come. Christ, being the grand and ultimate subject of all prophetical vision, is here made by Paul, under inspiration, the subject of the Spirit's prophecy by Habakkuk, in its final and exhaustive fulfilment.

The reason of their retaining their confidence to the end, is the shortness of his coming, who will reward them for it, proved out of God’s promise written to and for the church, by Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:3. A truth sufficiently known to these Hebrews, as brought them by their own prophet; and though spoken for the comfort of the captives in Babylon then, yet it is extended to the suffering church in all ages, and so to these Hebrews, and to us also, upon whom the ends of the world are come, 1 Corinthians 10:11. And though the prophet speaks it of a vision of grace, in promise to be despatched, yet the Septuagint refers it to a person; and in this the apostle follows them, because the promise cannot be made good without the coming of its Author to fulfil it.

For yet a little while; in which promise there is the celerity or speed of it; as little, little as it may be, as is fit for Christ and them. How little is this time! A very short moment, as he speaks himself, Revelation 22:7,12,20.

And he that shall come will come; he that hath promised to come and save you, and reckon with your persecutors, he will certainly come, he and his promise together, will despatch and put an end to the suffering of his, and put on their crowns. Metonymically, his coming is his saving, full refreshing, and rewarding his believing and patient sufferers.

And will not tarry; he will not spin out time to delay deliverance, beyond the set point; he will not come behind the last moment, the hour fixed and appointed, which is pitched in infinite wisdom and goodness, for the best comfort of Christ’s suffering members, Isaiah 46:13. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come,.... That the person spoken of is the Lord Jesus Christ, is evident from the prophecy in Habakkuk 2:3 here referred to, and from the character of him that is to come, Matthew 11:3 and from parallel places, James 5:7 and this is to be understood, not of his coming in the flesh, for he was come in the flesh already; though Habakkuk indeed refers to his first coming, yet not to that only, but including his second coming also; but of his coming in his kingdom and power to destroy Jerusalem, and take vengeance on the Jews, for their rejection of him: the kingdom of Christ was at hand, when he began to preach; upon his ascension to heaven, it began to appear more visible; but still the temple was standing, and that worship continued, which stood in the way of the glory of his kingdom; during which time the saints suffered much: but in a little while from the writing of this epistle, he, who was to come, did come, even within about ten years after this, and showed his power and his glory, in delivering his people, and destroying his enemies; see Matthew 16:28. It may be applied to his coming to help his people in time of need; the afflictions of the saints are many; they are all for an appointed time, and but for a while; and Christ has promised to come, and visit them; and which he does often, and speedily, and seasonably: it may also be accommodated to Christ coming to take his people to himself by death; Christ may be said to come in this sense, and he will certainly come; and this will be in a little while; man is but of few days; death is certain, and should be patiently expected: and it may likewise be suitably improved, with respect to Christ's coming to judgment; that he will come is certain, from prophecies, particularly from the prophecy of Enoch, from his own words, from the testimony of angels, from the institution of the Lord's supper, till he comes, and from the general expectation of the saints; and this coming of his is desirable, because it will be the marriage of the Lamb, and the redemption of the saints, and because of the grace and glory that will be brought unto them, and because they shall then be for ever with him; and this will be quickly, in a little time, in comparison of the time that went before his first coming, and of the eternity that will follow after this; and though it may seem long, yet with God it is but a little while, with whom a thousand years are as one day; and however, since it is certain that he will come,

and will not tarry, beyond the appointed time, patience should be exercised.

For yet a {s} little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

(s) He will come within this very little while.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 10:37-38. Ground of encouragement to the ὑπομονή, of which the readers stood in need, expressed with a free application of the words of Habakkuk 2:3-4, according to the LXX. Continuance is necessary for the readers, and that continuance, indeed, only for a short time, since the return of Christ is to be looked for within a very short space of time, and then to those who have persevered in the faith everlasting life will be the portion conferred; the apostates, on the other hand, shall be overtaken by destruction.

The words ἔτι γὰρ μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον are not a constituent part of the citation, but proceed from the author himself.

μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον] is found Isaiah 26:20, and signifies literally: a little, how much, how much! i.e. a very, very little, or a very short time. μικρόν (John 14:19; John 16:16 ff.) is nominative,—not accusative to the question when, as is supposed by Bleek (but only in his larger Comm.; otherwise in his later Vorlesungen, p. 417), Bisping, Alford, and Hofmann, as also Meyer on John 13:33,—and nothing more than ἐστίν is to be supplemented to the same (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 544). The reduplication of the ὅσον, however, serves for the significant strengthening of the notion. To be compared Aristoph. Vesp. 213: τί οὐκ ἀπεκοιμήθημεν ὅσον ὅσον στίλην; Arrian, Indic. xxix. 15: ὀλίγοι δὲ αὐτῶν σπείρουσιν ὅσον ὅσον τῆς χώρης. See Hermann, ad Viger. 726.

ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ χρονιεῖ] and then He that cometh will come, and will not delay.

LXX. l.c. Hebrews 10:3 : διότι ἔτι ὅρασις εἰς καιρὸν καὶ ἀνατελεῖ εἰς πέρας καὶ οὐκ εἰς κενόν· ἐὰν ὑστερήσῃ, ὑπόμεινον αὐτόν, ὅτι ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ μὴ χρονίσῃ. In the sense of the prophet, the discourse is of the certain fulfilment of the prophecy regarding the overthrow of the Chaldees. The LXX., however, wrongly translated the words, and as the ἐρχόμενος looked upon either God or the Messiah, of whom also the later Jewish theologians interpreted the passage (see Wetstein ad loc.). Of the Messiah the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews also understands the expression, and therefore adds the article to ἐρχόμενος. In like manner ὁ ἐρχόμενος appears, Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19, as a current appellation of the Messiah (based upon Daniel 7:13; Zechariah 9:9; Malachi 3:1; Psalm 40:8 [7], Psalm 118:26). Only in the instances mentioned the first appearing of the Messiah upon earth is intended, whereas in our passage (as also very frequently by ἔρχεσθαι elsewhere in the N. T., e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:26; Acts 1:11; Matthew 16:27-28; John 21:22-23) the return of Christ, as of the Messiah crucified upon earth and exalted to heaven, for the consummation of the kingdom of God, is that which is referred to. Arbitrarily Carpzov, Heinrichs, Bloomfield, Ebrard, and others: a coming for the destruction of Jerusalem, is here to be thought of.37. yet a little while] The original has a very emphatic phrase (μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον) to imply the nearness of Christ’s return, “yet but a very very little while.” The phrase occurs in the LXX. in Isaiah 26:20. The quotations in this and the next verse are adapted from Habakkuk 2:3-4. In the original it is “the vision” which will not tarry, but the writer quotes from the LXX., only inserting the definite article before ἐρχόμενος, and applying it to the Messiah. “The coming one” was a Messianic title (Matthew 11:3; Luke 7:19; comp. Daniel 7:13, &c). In Matthew 24:34 our Lord has said, “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled;” and by the time that this Epistle was written few still survived of the generation which had seen our Lord. Hence, Christians felt sure that Christ’s coming was very near, though it is probable that they did not realise that it would consist in the close of the Old Dispensation, and not as yet in the End of the World.Hebrews 10:37. Μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον) yet a little while. So LXX., Isaiah 26:20. The word μικρὸν, with the addition of ὄσον ὄσον, takes the diminutive, but at the same time the indefinite form, and therefore accords very well with this passage: see Genesis 27:30 : אך, ἐγένετο ὅσον ἐξῆλθεν, was only just gone out.—ὁ ἐρχόμενος, He that cometh) The apostle, by the addition of the article, elegantly turns the words of the prophet to Christ.—ἥξει) will come.Verses 37, 38. - For yet a little (rather, very little) while, and he that cometh will come, and will not tarry. But the just shall live by faith: and if he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. In these verses, after the manner of the Epistle, what is being urged is supported by an Old Testament quotation (Habakkuk 2:3, 4), its drift being

(1) the certainty, notwithstanding delay, of the fulfillment of the Divine promise;

(2) the necessity meanwhile of continuance in faith and perseverance. The quotation serves also as a step of transition (this, too, after the Epistle's manner) to the disquisition on faith, which forms the subject of the following chapter. For the prophet speaks of faith as what the righteous one is to live by until the Lord come. It was faith - a fuller faith - that the Hebrew Christians wanted to preserve them from the faltering of which they showed some signs; and the requirement of faith was no new thing - it had been the essential principle of all true religious life from the beginning, and thus is led up to the review which follows of the Old Testament history, showing that this had always been so. The quotation, as usual, is from the LXX., which, in this case as in some others, differs from the Hebrew. But here, as in ver. 29, supra, the LXX. is not exactly followed. The writer cites freely, so as to apply the essential meaning of the passage to his purpose. The Prophet Habakkuk (writing probably during the long evil days of Manasseh) had in his immediate view the trials of faith peculiar to his own time - violence and iniquity in Israel, and imminence of judgment at the hands of Chaldean conquerors, under which he had cried, "O Lord, how long?" But he stands upon his watch and sits upon his tower, to look out what the LORD will say to him in answer to his difficulties. And the LORD answered him, and said, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie [rather, 'but it hasteth to the end, and doth not lie']: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, and not tarry [or, 'be behindhand']. Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not upright in him [or, 'behold, his soul is lifted up, it is not upright in him']; but the just shall live by his faith." The drift of this Divine answer, which inspired the song of joyful confidence with which the Book of Habakkuk so beautifully concludes, is, as aforesaid, that, in spite of all appearances, the prophetic vision will ere long be realized; God's promises to the righteous will certainly be fulfilled; and that faith meanwhile must be their sustaining principle. The variations of the LXX. from the Hebrew are:

(1) Ἐρχόμενος ἥξει, instead of "It (i.e. the vision) shall come;"

(2) Ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ, instead of "Behold, his soul," etc.;

(3) Ὁ δὲ δικαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται

(A), or δὲ Ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως μου ζήσεται

(B), instead of "The just shall live by his faith." The variations in the Epistle from the LXX. are:

(1) Ἔτι μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον (etc. Isaiah 26:20), interpolated at the beginning of the quotation;

(2) ἐρχόμενος for ἐρχόμενος, so as to denote more distinctly the Messiah who was to come (cf. Matthew 10:3; John 6:14); here, of course, with a view to his second advent;

(3) the reversal of the order of the two concluding clauses, ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, and ὁ δὲ δίκαιος:

(4) in the Textus Receptus the omission of μου after either δίκαιος or πίστεως (as the same text is cited by St. Paul, Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11). There is, however, good authority for reading it here after δίκαιος (equivalent to "my Righteous One"). None of these variations from the LXX. affect the meaning of the passage, being only such as to point more clearly the intended application. One of the variations of the LXX. from the Hebrew (ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, etc.) does alter the meaning of that particular clause, though not the general purport of the whole passage. The adoption here of the LXX. reading, and still more the fact that the following verse depends upon this reading, is among the strong evidences of the Epistle having been originally written, not in Hebrew, but in Greek. A little while (μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον)

Strictly, a very little while. The phrase N.T.o. It is not part of the quotation, but is taken from Isaiah 26:20, the only instance. See Aristoph. Wasps, 213.

He that shall come will come (ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει)

Rend. "he that cometh will come." In the Hebrew (Habakkuk 2:3) the subject of the sentence is the vision of the extermination of the Chaldees. "The vision - will surely come." As rendered in the lxx, either Jehovah or Messiah must be the subject. The passage was referred to Messiah by the later Jewish theologians, and is so taken by our writer, as is shown by the article before ἐρχόμενος. Comp. Matthew 11:3; Matthew 21:9; John 11:27. Similarly he refers ἥξει shall come to the final coming of Messiah to judge the world.

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