Hebrews 10:5
Why when he comes into the world, he said, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Wherefore.—That is, on account of this powerlessness of the sacrifices of the law.

He saith.—Christ, in the prophetic word of Scripture. Though not directly mentioned here, He has been the subject of the whole context (Hebrews 9:25-28). The words which follow are a quotation from Psalm 40:6-8, and agree substantially with the LXX., except that in Hebrews 10:7 a word of some importance is omitted (see the Note there). The LXX., again, is on the whole a faithful representation of the Hebrew text: one clause only (the last in this verse) presents difficulty. Particular expressions will be noticed as they occur: the general meaning and application of the psalm must first receive attention. Like Ps. 1. and 51 (with some verses of Psalms 69), Psalms 40 is remarkable for its anticipation of the teaching of the prophets (Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:21; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; et al.) on one point, the inferior worth of ceremonial observances when contrasted with moral duties. It seems probable that the psalm is David’s, as the inscription relates, and that its key-note is to be found in the words of Samuel to Saul (1Samuel 15:22): “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying (literally, hearkening to) the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey (literally, to hear) is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” The first part of the psalm is an expression of thanksgiving to God for deliverance from peril. David has learned the true mode of displaying gratitude, not by offerings of slain animals, but by the sacrifice of the will. So far does the latter excel the former, so truly is the sacrifice of will in accordance with the will of God, that the value of the legal offerings is in comparison as nothing. There is in all this no real slighting of the sacrificial ritual (see Jeremiah 7:21-28), but there is a profound appreciation of the superiority of spiritual service to mere ritual observance. It can hardly be said that this quotation rests on the same principle as those of the first chapter. The psalm is certainly not Messianic, in the sense of being wholly predictive like Psalms 110, or directly typical like Psalms 2. In some respects, indeed, it resembles 2 Samuel 7 (See the Note on Hebrews 1:5.) As there, after words which are quoted in this Epistle in reference to Christ, we read of David’s son as committing iniquity and receiving punishment; so in this psalm we read, “Mine iniquities are more than the hairs of mine head.” David comes with a new perception of the true will of God, to offer Him the service in which He takes pleasure. And yet not so—for such service as he can offer is itself defective; his sins surround him yet in their results and penalties. Hence, in his understanding and his offering of himself he is a type, whilst his sinfulness and weakness render him but an imperfect type, of Him that was to come. Such passages as these constitute a distinct and very interesting division of Messianic prophecy. We may then thus trace the principle on which the psalm is here applied. Jesus came to His Father with that perfect offering of will and self which was foreshadowed in the best impulses of the best of the men of God, whose inspired utterances the Scriptures record. The words of David, but partially true of himself, are fulfilled in the Son of David. Since, then, these words describe the purpose of the Saviour’s life, we can have no difficulty in understanding the introductory words, “when He cometh into the world, He saith;” or the seventh verse, where we read, “Lo, I am come to do Thy will.” When David saw the true meaning of the law, he thus came before God; the purpose of Jesus, when He received the body which was the necessary instrument for human obedience, finds its full expression in these words.

Sacrifice and offering.—The corresponding Hebrew words denote the two divisions of offerings, as made with or without the shedding of blood.

But a body hast thou prepared me.—Rather, but a body didst Thou prepare for me. Few discrepancies between the LXX. and the Hebrew have attracted more notice than that which these words present. The words of the Psalmist are, “In sacrifice and offering Thou hast not delighted: ears hast Thou digged for me.” As in Samuel’s words, already referred to as containing the germ of the psalm, sacrifice is contrasted with hearing and with hearkening to the voice of the Lord, the meaning evidently is, Thou hast given me the power of hearing so as to obey. A channel of communication has been opened, through which the knowledge of God’s true will can reach the heart, and excite the desire to obey. All ancient Greek versions except the LXX. more or less clearly express the literal meaning. It has been supposed that the translators of the LXX. had before them a different reading of the Hebrew text, preferable to that which is found in our present copies. This is very unlikely. Considering the general principles of their translation, we may with greater probability suppose that they designed merely to express the general meaning, avoiding a literal rendering of a Hebrew metaphor which seemed harsh and abrupt. They seem to have understood the Psalmist as acknowledging that God had given him that which would produce obedience; and to this (they thought) would correspond the preparation of a body which might be the instrument of rendering willing service. If the present context be carefully examined, we shall see that, though the writer does afterwards make reference (Hebrews 10:10) to the new words here introduced, they are in no way necessary to his argument, nor does he lay on them any stress.

Hebrews 10:5-10. Wherefore — As if he had said, Because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, therefore Christ offered himself as a sacrifice to do it. When he cometh into the world — That is, when the Messiah is described by David as making his entrance into the world; he saith — He is represented by that inspired writer as saying, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not — Accept for a sufficient expiation and full satisfaction for sin; but thou hast provided something of another nature for this purpose; thou hast given me a body — Miraculously formed, and qualified to be an expiatory sacrifice for sin. The words, a body hast thou prepared me, are the translation of the LXX.; but in the Hebrew it is, Mine ears hast thou opened, or bored; an expression which signifies, I have devoted myself to thy perpetual service, and thou hast accepted of me as thy servant, and signified so much by the boring of mine ears. So that, though the words of the translation of the LXX., here used by the apostle, are not the same with those signified by the original Hebrew, the sense is the same; for the ears suppose a body to which they belong, and the preparing of a body implies the preparing of the ears, and the obligation of the person for whom a body was prepared, to serve him who prepared it; which the boring of the ear signified. How far the rest of the psalm is applicable to Christ, see the notes there. Then, &c. — That is, when the way appointed for the expiation of sin was not perfectly available for that purpose; I said, Lo, I come — To make expiation; in the volume of the book — That is, according to what is foretold of me in Scripture, even in this very psalm; to do thy will, O God — To suffer whatsoever thy justice shall require of me in order to the making of a complete atonement. Above when he said — That is, when the psalmist pronounced those words in his name; Sacrifice, &c., thou wouldest not — Or thou hast not chosen; then said he — In that very instant he subjoined; Lo, I come to do thy will

By offering myself a sacrifice for sin. He taketh away the first, &c. — That is, by this very act he taketh away the legal, that he may establish the evangelical, dispensation. By which will — Namely, that he should become a sacrifice; we — Believers under the gospel; are sanctified — Are both delivered from the guilt of sin, and dedicated to God in heart and life; yea, are conformed to his image, and made truly holy; through the offering of the body of Christ — Which, while it expiates our sins, procures for us the sanctifying Spirit of God, and lays us under an indispensable obligation to die to those sins, the guilt of which required such an expiation, and to live to him who made it. “Here we learn it was by the express will of God that the sacrifice of Christ was appointed a propitiation for the sins of mankind; and it must ever be remembered, that the will of God is the true foundation on which any atonement of sin can be established. Wherefore, since the death of Christ is by God made the propitiation for men’s sins, it rests on the foundation of his will, secure from all the objections raised against it, either by erring Christians or by obstinate infidels, on account of our not being able to explain the reasons which determined God to save sinners in that method, rather than in any other.”10:1-10 The apostle having shown that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only emblems and types of the gospel, concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually, could not make the worshippers perfect, with respect to pardon, and the purifying of their consciences. But when God manifested in the flesh, became the sacrifice, and his death upon the accursed tree the ransom, then the Sufferer being of infinite worth, his free-will sufferings were of infinite value. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must of his own will place himself in the sinner's stead: Christ did so. The fountain of all that Christ has done for his people, is the sovereign will and grace of God. The righteousness brought in, and the sacrifice once offered by Christ, are of eternal power, and his salvation shall never be done away. They are of power to make all the comers thereunto perfect; they derive from the atoning blood, strength and motives for obedience, and inward comfort.Wherefore - This word shows that the apostle means to sustain what he had said by a reference to the Old Testament itself. Nothing could be more opposite to the prevailing Jewish opinions about the efficacy of sacrifice, than what he had just said. It was, therefore, of the highest importance to defend the position which he had laid down by authority which they would not presume to call in question, and he therefore makes his appeal to their own Scriptures.

When he cometh into the world - When the Messiah came, for the passage evidently referred to him. The Greek is, "Wherefore coming into the world, he saith." It has been made a question "when" this is to be understood as spoken - whether when he was born, or when he entered on the work of his ministry. Grotius understands it of the latter. But it is not material to a proper understanding of the passage to determine this. The simple idea is, that since it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin, Christ coming into the world made arrangements for a better sacrifice.

He saith - That is, this is the language denoted by his great undertaking; this is what his coming to make an atonement implies. We are not to suppose that Christ formally used these words on any occasion for we have no record that he did - but this language is what appropriately expresses the nature of his work. Perhaps also the apostle means to say that it was originally employed in the Psalm from which it is quoted in reference to him, or was indited by him with reference to his future advent.

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not - This is quoted from Psalm 40:6, Psalm 40:8. There has been much perplexity felt by expositorsin reference to this quotation, and after all which has been written, it is not entirely removed. The difficulty relates to these points.

(1) to the question whether the Psalm originally had any reference to the Messiah. The Psalm "appears" to have pertained merely to David, and it would probably occur to no one on reading it to suppose that it referred to the Messiah, unless it had been so applied by the apostle in this place.

(2) there are many parts of the Psalm, it has been said, which cannot, without a very forced interpretation, be applied to Christ; see Psalm 40:2, Psalm 40:12, Psalm 40:14-16.

(3) the argument of the apostle in the expression "a body hast thou prepared me," seems to be based on a false translation of the Septuagint, which he has adopted, and it is difficult to see on what principles he has done it. - It is not the design of these notes to go into an extended examination of questions of this nature. Such examination must be sought in more extended commentaries, and in treatises expressly relating to points of this kind.

On the design of Psalm 40, and its applicability to the Messiah, the reader may consult Prof. Stuart on the Hebrews, Excursus xx. and Kuinoel in loc. After the most attentive examination which I can give of the Psalm, it seems to me probable that it is one of the Psalms which had an original and exclusive reference to the Messiah, and that the apostle has quoted it just as it was meant to be understood by the Holy Spirit, as applicable to him. The reasons for this opinion are briefly these:

(1) There are such Psalms, as is admitted by all. The Messiah was the hope of the Jewish people; he was made the subject of their most sublime prophecies, and nothing was more natural than that he should be the subject of the songs of their sacred bards. By the spirit of inspiration they saw him in the distant future in the various circumstances in which he would be placed, and they dwelt with delight upon the vision; compare Introduction to Isaiah, section 7.iii.

(2) The fact that it is here applied to the Messiah, is a strong circumstance to demonstrate that it had an original applicability to him. This proof is of two kinds. "First," that it is so applied by an inspired apostle, which with all who admit his inspiration seems decisive of the question. "Second," the fact that he so applied it shows that this was an ancient and admitted interpretation. The apostle was writing to those who had been Jews, and whom he was desirous to convince of the truth of what he was alleging in regard to the nature of the Hebrew sacrifices. For this purpose it was necessary to appeal to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, but it cannot be supposed that he would adduce a passage for proof whose relevancy would not be admitted. The presumption is, that the passage was in fact commonly applied as here.

(3) the whole of the Psalm may be referred to the Messiah without anything forced or unnatural. The Psalm throughout seems to be made up of expressions used by a suffering person, who had indeed been delivered from some evils, but who was expecting many more. The principal difficulties in the way of such an interpretation, relate to the following points.

(a) In Psalm 40:2, the speaker in the Psalm says, "He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock," and on the ground of this he gives thanks to God. But there is no real difficulty in supposing that this may refer to the Messiah. His enemies often plotted against his life; laid snares for him and endeavored to destroy him, and it may be that he refers to some deliverance from such machinations. If it is objected to this that it is spoken of as having been uttered" when he came into the world," it may be replied that that phrase does not necessarily refer to the time of his birth, but that he uttered this sentiment sometime "during" the period of his incarnation. "He coming into the world for the purpose of redemption made use of this language." In a similar manner we would say of Lafayette, that "he coming to the United States to aid in the cause of liberty, suffered a wound in battle." That is, during the period in which he was engaged in this cause, he suffered in this manner.

(b) The next objection or difficulty relates to the application of Psalm 40:12 to the Messiah. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me." To meet this some have suggested that he refers to the sins of people which he took upon himself, and which he here speaks of as "his own." But it is not true that the Lord Jesus so took upon himself the sins of others that they could be his. They were "not" his, for he was in every sense "holy, harmless, and undefiled." The true solution of this difficulty, probably is, that the word rendered "iniquity" - צון ̀awon - means "calamity, misfortune, trouble;" see Psalm 31:10; 1 Samuel 28:10; 2 Kings 7:9; Psalm 28:6; compare Psalm 49:5. The proper idea in the word is that of "turning away, curving, making crooked;" and it is thus applied to anything which is "perverted" or turned from the right way; as when one is turned from the path of rectitude, or commits sin; when one is turned from the way of prosperity or happiness, or is exposed to calamity. This seems to be the idea demanded by the scope of the Psalm, for it is not a penitential Psalm, in which the speaker is recounting his "sins," but one in which he is enumerating his "sorrows;" praising God in the first part of the Psalm for some deliverance already experienced, and supplicating his interposition in view of calamities that he saw to be coming upon him. This interpretation also seems to be demanded in Psalm 40:12 by the "parallelism." In the former part of the verse, the word to which "iniquity" corresponds, is not "sin," but "evil," that is, calamity.

"For innumerable evils have compassed me about;

continued...

5. Christ's voluntary self offering, in contrast to those inefficient sacrifices, is shown to fulfill perfectly "the will of God" as to our redemption, by completely atoning "for (our) sins."

Wherefore—seeing that a nobler than animal sacrifices was needed to "take away sins."

when he cometh—Greek, "coming." The time referred to is the period before His entrance into the world, when the inefficiency of animal sacrifices for expiation had been proved [Tholuck]. Or, the time is that between Jesus' first dawning of reason as a child, and the beginning of His public ministry, during which, being ripened in human resolution, He was intently devoting Himself to the doing of His Father's will [Alford]. But the time of "coming" is present; not "when He had come," but "when coming into the world"; so, in order to accord with Alford's view, "the world" must mean His PUBLIC ministry: when coming, or about to come, into public. The Greek verbs are in the past: "sacrifice … Thou didst not wish, but a body Thou didst prepare for Me"; and, "Lo, I am come." Therefore, in order to harmonize these times, the present coming, or about to come, with the past, "A body Thou didst prepare for Me," we must either explain as Alford, or else, if we take the period to be before His actual arrival in the world (the earth) or incarnation, we must explain the past tenses to refer to God's purpose, which speaks of what He designed from eternity as though it were already fulfilled. "A body Thou didst prepare in Thy eternal counsel." This seems to me more likely than explaining "coming into the world," "coming into public," or entering on His public ministry. David, in the fortieth Psalm (here quoted), reviews his past troubles and God's having delivered him from them, and his consequent desire to render willing obedience to God as more acceptable than sacrifices; but the Spirit puts into his mouth language finding its partial application to David, and its full realization only in the divine Son of David. "The more any son of man approaches the incarnate Son of God in position, or office, or individual spiritual experience, the more directly may his holy breathings in the power of Christ's Spirit be taken as utterances of Christ Himself. Of all men, the prophet-king of Israel resembled and foreshadowed Him the most" [Alford].

a body hast thou prepared me—Greek, "Thou didst fit for Me a body." "In Thy counsels Thou didst determine to make for Me a body, to be given up to death as a sacrificial victim" [Wahl]. In the Hebrew, Ps 40:6, it is "mine ears hast thou opened," or "dug." Perhaps this alludes to the custom of boring the ear of a slave who volunteers to remain under his master when he might be free. Christ's assuming a human body, in obedience to the Father's will, in order to die the death of a slave (Heb 2:14), was virtually the same act of voluntary submission to service as that of a slave suffering his ear to be bored by his master. His willing obedience to the Father's will is what is dwelt on as giving especial virtue to His sacrifice (Heb 10:7, 9, 10). The preparing, or fitting of a body for Him, is not with a view to His mere incarnation, but to His expiatory sacrifice (Heb 10:10), as the contrast to "sacrifice and offering" requires; compare also Ro 7:4; Eph 2:16; Col 1:22. More probably "opened mine ears" means opened mine inward ear, so as to be attentively obedient to what God wills me to do, namely, to assume the body He has prepared for me for my sacrifice, so Job 33:16, Margin; Job 36:10 (doubtless the boring of a slave's "ear" was the symbol of such willing obedience); Isa 50:5, "The Lord God hath opened mine ear," that is, made me obediently attentive as a slave to his master. Others somewhat similarly explain, "Mine ears hast thou digged," or "fashioned," not with allusion to Ex 21:6, but to the true office of the ear—a willing, submissive attention to the voice of God (Isa 50:4, 5). The forming of the ear implies the preparation of the body, that is, the incarnation; this secondary idea, really in the Hebrew, though less prominent, is the one which Paul uses for his argument. In either explanation the idea of Christ taking on Him the form, and becoming obedient as a servant, is implied. As He assumed a body in which to make His self-sacrifice, so ought we present our bodies a living sacrifice (Ro 12:1).

Wherefore, Dio, introduceth the proof of the invalidity of legal sacrifices, and the efficacy of the one sacrifice of Christ, from Divine testimony about both of them.

He saith; God the Son, who existed before his incarnation, bespeaketh God the Father, when he was coming into this world, to become a part of it, by uniting a holy human nature to the Divine, as David voucheth by the Spirit of God, Psalm 40:6.

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not: the bloody atoning sacrifices of bulls and goats, the peace-offerings, and thank-offerings, Leviticus 7:16, and offerings of every sort without blood, required by the law of Moses, God did neither desire, require, nor delight in as in themselves propitiatory; for he never intended them to take away sins, or perfect the worshippers: see 1 Samuel 15:22 Isaiah 1:11-15 Jeremiah 6:20 Amos 5:21,22.

But a body hast thou prepared me: but, the Hebrew text reads, the ears hast thou bored for me. The apostle makes use here of the Greek paraphrase, a body hast thou fitted me; as giving in proper terms the sense of the former figurative expression, discovering thereby Christ’s enitre willingness to become God’s servant for ever, Exodus 21:6; and that he might be so, which he could not as God the Son, simply, the Father by his Spirit did articulate him, and formed him joint by joint a body; that is, furnished him with a human nature, so as that he might perform that piece of service which God required, offering up himself a bloody sacrifice for sin, to which he was obedient, Philippians 2:8. Thus were his ears bored, which could not be if he had not been clothed with a body. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith,.... In Psalm 40:7. This was said by David, not of himself, and his own times, for sacrifice and offering were desired and required in his times; nor was he able to do the will of God; so as to fulfil the law, and make void legal sacrifices; nor did he engage as a surety to do this; nor was it written of him in the volume of the book that he should: besides, he speaks of one that was not yet come, though ready to come, when the fulness of time should be up; and who is here spoken of as coming into the world, and who is no other than Jesus Christ; and this is to be understood, not of his coming into Judea, or the temple at Jerusalem; or out of a private, into a public life; nor of his entrance into the world to come, into heaven, into life eternal, as the Targum on Psalm 40:7 paraphrases it, after he had done his work on earth, for the other world is never expressed by the world only; nor did Christ go into that to do the will of God, but to sit down there, after he had done it; besides, Christ's entrance into heaven was a going out of the world, and not into it. To which may be added, that this phrase always signifies coming into this terrene world, and intends men's coming into it at their birth; See Gill on John 1:9 and must be understood of Christ's incarnation, which was an instance of great love, condescension, and grace; and the, reason of it was to do what the law, and the blood of bulls and goats, could not do. For it follows,

sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; or didst not desire and delight in, as the word used in Psalm 40:6 signifies; meaning not the sacrifices of wicked men, or such as were offered up without faith in Christ; but the ceremonial sacrifices God himself had instituted, and which were offered in the best manner; and that not merely in a comparative sense, as in Hosea 6:6 but the meaning is, that God would not have these continue any longer, they being only imposed for a time, and this time being come; nor would he accept of them, as terms, conditions, and causes of righteousness, pardon, peace, and reconciliation; but he willed that his Son should offer himself an offering, and a sacrifice for a sweet smelting savour to him.

But a body hast thou prepared me; or "fitted for me"; a real natural body, which stands for the whole human nature; and is carefully expressed, to show that the human nature is not a person. This was prepared, in the book of God's purposes and decrees, and in the council and covenant of grace; and was curiously formed by the Holy Ghost in time, for the second Person, the Son of God, to clothe himself with, as the Syriac version renders it, "thou hast clothed me with a body"; and that he might dwell in, and in it do the will of God, and perform the work of man's redemption: in Psalm 40:6 it is, "mine ears thou hast opened"; digged or bored, the ear being put for the whole body; for if he had not had a body prepared, he could not have had ears opened: besides; the phrase is expressive of Christ's assuming the form of a servant, which was done by his being found in fashion as a man, Philippians 2:7 and of his being a voluntary servant, and of his cheerful obedience as such, the opening, or boring of the ear, was a sign, Exodus 21:5. And thus by having a true body prepared for him, and a willing mind to offer it up, he became fit for sacrifice.

{2} Wherefore when he {b} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a {c} body hast thou prepared me:

(2) A conclusion following those things that went before, and encompassing also the other sacrifices. Seeing that the sacrifices of the law could not do it, therefore Christ speaking of himself as of our High Priest manifested in the flesh, witnesses plainly that God rests not in the sacrifices, but in the obedience of his Son our High Priest, in whose obedience he offered up himself once to his Father for us.

(b) The Son of God is said to come into the world, when he was made man.

(c) It is word for word in the Hebrew text, You have pierced my ears through that is, you have made me obedient and willing to hear.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 10:5. Διό] Wherefore, i.e. in accordance with the impossibility declared at Hebrews 10:4.

λέγει] He saith. As subject thereto is naturally supplied Christ, although He was not mentioned again since Hebrews 9:28. This determination of the subject is already placed beyond doubt by the whole connection, but not less by the pointing back of τοῦ σώματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, Hebrews 10:10, to σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι, Hebrews 10:5. According to the view of our author, Christ is speaking[98] in the person of the psalmist. The psalm itself, indeed, as is almost universally acknowledged, refuses to admit of the Messianic interpretation (comp. especially Hebrews 10:13 [12]). The present λέγει, moreover, might be placed, because the utterance is one extending into the present, i.e. one which may still be daily read in the Scripture.

εἰσερχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον] at His coming into the world, i.e. on the eve of coming (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 249) into the world[99] (sc. by His incarnation). This determining of time is taken from the ἥκω, Hebrews 10:7. According to Bleek, who is preceded therein by Grotius, and followed by de Wette, as more recently by Maier and Beyschlag, die Christologie des Neuen Testaments, Berl. 1866, p. 192, the author in penning the words εἰσερχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμοΝ was thinking “less of the moment of the incarnation and birth than of the public coming forth upon earth to the work assigned to Him by the Father, in connection with which His entrance into the world first became manifested to the world itself.” But in that case ΕἸΣΕΛΘΏΝ must have been written, and the formula ΕἸΣΕΡΧΌΜΕΝΟς ΕἸς ΤῸΝ ΚΌΣΜΟΝ (John 1:9; John 6:14; John 11:27; Romans 5:12; 1 Timothy 1:15, al.) would lose its natural signification. The same applies against Delitzsch, who, bringing in that which lies very remote, will have the words explained: “incarnate, and having entered upon the years of human self-determination, signified Isaiah 7:16,”—an exposition which is not any the more rendered acceptable, when Delitzsch adds, with a view to doing justice to the participle present: “we need not regard the εἰσέρχεσθαι εἰς τὸν κόσμον as a point; we can also conceive of it as a line.”[100] For the author cannot possibly have thought of Christ’s εἰσέρχεσθαι εἰς τὸν κόσμον, and His λέγειν temporally therewith coinciding, as something constantly repeated and only progressively developed.

θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν οὐκ ἠθέλησας] sacrifice and offering (bloody and un-bloody sacrifices) Thou didst not will. Kindred utterances in the O. T.: Psalm 50:7-15; Psalm 51:18 ff. [16 ff.]; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21 ff.; 1 Samuel 15:22. That, however, the author founded his Scripture proof precisely upon Psalms 40, was occasioned principally by the addition, very important for his purpose: σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι, which is found there.

σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι] but a body hast Thou prepared me, sc. in order to be clothed with the same, and by the giving up of the same unto death to fulfil Thy will. Comp. Hebrews 10:7. Thus, without doubt, the author found in his copy of the LXX. But that the Hebrew words: אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי (the ears hast Thou digged to me, i.e. by revelation opened up religious knowledge to me), were even originally rendered by the LXX. by ΣῶΜΑ ΔῈ ΚΑΤΗΡΤΊΣΩ ΜΟΙ, as is contended by Jac. Cappellus, Wolf, Carpzov, Tholuck, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Maier, Moll, and others, is a supposition hardly to be entertained. Probably the LXX. rendered the Hebrew words by ὨΤΊΑ ΔῈ ΚΑΤΗΡΤΊΣΩ ΜΟΙ, as they are still found in some ancient MSS. of that version, and ΣῶΜΑ ΔῈ ΚΑΤΗΡΤΊΣΩ ΜΟΙ arose, not “from the translator being unable to attach any satisfactory meaning to the words ‘the ears hast thou digged to me,’ and therefore altering them with his own hand” (Kurtz); but only from an accidental corruption of the text, in that Σ, the final letter of the ἨΘΈΛΗΣΑς immediately preceding, was wrongly carried over to the following word, and instead of ΤΙ the letter Μ was erroneously read.

[98] Arbitrarily does Kurtz place in λέγει a double sense, in that he will have it understood on the part of the psalmist of a speaking in words, on the part of Christ of a speaking by deeds.

[99] Without reason do Delitzsch and Alford object against this interpretation, that the following σῶμα κατηρτίσω μοι is not in harmony therewith. See the exposition of the words.

[100] So, in accord with Delitzsch, also Alford, who observes: “It expresses, I believe, the whole time during which the Lord, being ripened in human resolution, was in intent devoting Himself to the doing of His Father’s will: the time of which that youthful question, ‘Wist ye not that I must be ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου?’ was one of the opening announcements.”

Hebrews 10:5-10. Scripture proof, from Psalm 40:7-9 [6–8], that deliverance from sins is to be obtained, not by animal sacrifices, but only by the fulfilling of the will of God. On the ground of this fulfilment of God’s will by Christ are we Christians sanctified.Hebrews 10:5-10. The adequacy of Christ’s sacrifice as fulfilling God’s will. διὸ “wherefore,” “such being the ineffectiveness of the sacrifices of the law and the condition of conscience of those under them,” “when He—that is ὁ Χριστός Hebrews 9:28 to whom alone εἰσερχόμ. is applicable—comes into the world,” referring generally to His incarnate state, not to His entrance on his public ministry. λέγει, the words are quoted from Psalm 40:6-8 and put in the mouth of Christ although the whole Psalm cannot be considered Messianic, cf. Hebrews 10:12. In what sense can λέγει be used of Christ? It is not meant that He was present in the psalmist and so uttered what is here here referred to Him. This idea is negatived by εἰσερχόμ. It was when incarnate he used the words. Neither is it merely meant that by his conduct Christ showed that these words were a true expression of his mind. Rather, the words are considered prophetic, depicting beforehand the mind of Christ regarding O.T. sacrifice, and His own mission. In several O.T. passages God’s preference for obedience is affirmed (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 50:8, Micah, Isaiah 1:11, Hosea 6:6) but this psalm is here selected because the phrase “a body hast thou prepared for me” lends itself to the writer’s purpose. In the Psalm, indeed, sacrifice is contrasted with obedience to the will of God. A body is prepared for Christ that in it He may obey God. But it is the offering of this body as a sacrifice in contrast to the animal sacrifices of the law, which this writer emphasises (Hebrews 10:10). “The contrast is between animal offerings and the offering of Himself by the Son. And what is said is that God did not will the former, but willed the other, and that the former are thereby abolished, and the other is established in their room, and as the will of God is effectual. The passage in the epistle is far from saying that the essence or worth of Christ’s offering of Himself lies simply in obedience to the will of God. It does not refer to the point wherein lies the intrinsic worth of the Son’s offering, or whether it may be resolved into obedience unto God. Its point is quite different. It argues that the Son’s offering of Himself is the true and final offering for sin, because it is the sacrifice, which, according to prophecy, God desired to be made” (Davidson).

The writer, in citing Psalms 40, follows the LXX, slightly altering the construction of the last clause by omitting ἠβουλήθην, and thus making τοῦ ποιῆσαι depend upon ἥκω, “I am come to do thy will”. Cf. Hebrews 10:9.

θυσίαν καὶ προσφοράν representing זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה of the Psalm, animal sacrifice and meal offering. Cf. Ephesians 5:2. οὐκ ἠθέλησας “thou didst not will,” a contrast is intended between this clause and τὸ θέλημά σου of the last clause of Hebrews 10:7. σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι “but a body didst Thou prepare for me,” implying that in this body God’s will would be accomplished. Cf. Hebrews 10:10. The words are the LXX rendering of אָזְנַים כָּרִיתָ לּי, “ears didst Thou dig [or open] for me”. The meaning is the same. The opened ear as the medium through which the will of God was received, and the body by which it was accomplished, alike signify obedience to the will of God. ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας representing עוֹלָה וַחֲטָאָה of the psalm, whole burnt offering and sin-offering. περὶ ἁμαρτ. occurs frequently in Leviticus to denote sin offering, θυσία being omitted. οὐκ ηὐδόκησας “thou didst not take pleasure in”. τότε εἶπον. “Then,” that is, when it was apparent that not by animal sacrifices or material offerings could God be propitiated, “I said, Lo! I am come to do Thy will, O God,” to accomplish that purpose of Thine which the sacrifices of the O.T. could not accomplish. That this is the correct construction is shown by Hebrews 10:9. For construction, cf. Burton, M. and T., 397; and Prof. Votaw, Use of Infin. in N. T. ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται περὶ ἐμοῦ “in a book [lit. in a roll of a book] it has been written concerning me”. κεφαλίς denoting “a little head” was first applied to the end of the stick on which the parchment was rolled, and from which in artistically finished books two cornua proceeded. [See Bleek, Rich’s Dict. of Antiq., and Hatch’s Concordance] In the Psalm the phrase is joined with the previous words and might be read, “Lo! I am come, with a roll of a book written for me,” in other words, with written instructions regarding the divine will as affecting me. The words can hardly mean that in Scripture predictions have been recorded regarding the writer of the Psalm. This, however, may be the meaning attached to the words as cited in the epistle, although it is quite as natural and legitimate to retain the original meaning and understand the words as a parenthetical explanation that Christ acknowledged as binding on Him all that had been written for the instruction of others in the will of God. But the likelihood is that if the writer was not merely transcribing the words as part of his quotation without attaching a definite meaning to them, he meant that the coming of the Messiah to do God’s will had been written in the book of God’s purpose. (Cf. Psalm 56:9.)5. when he cometh into the world, he saith] The quotation is from Psalm 40:6-8. The words of the Psalmist are ideally and typologically transferred to the Son, in accordance with the universal conception of the O.T. Messianism which was prevalent among the Jews. It made no difference to their point of view that some parts of the Psalm (e.g. in Hebrews 10:12) could only have a primary and contemporary significance. The “coming into the world” is here regarded as having been long predetermined in the divine counsels; it is regarded, as Delitzsch says, “not as a point but as a line.”

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not] “Thou carest not for slain beast or bloodless oblation.” This is in accordance with the many magnificent declarations which in the midst of legal externalism declared its nullity except as a means to better things (Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21; 1 Samuel 15:22, &c.

but a body hast thou prepared me] This is the rendering of the LXX. In the Hebrew it is “But ears hast thou digged for me.” The text of the Hebrew does not admit of easy alteration, so that either (1) the reading of the Greek text in the LXX. must be a clerical error, e.g. ΚΑΤΗΡΤΙΣΑΣΩΜΑ for ΚΑΤΗΡΤΙΣΑΣΩΤΙΑ, or (2) the LXX. rendering must be a sort of Targum or explanation. They regarded “a body didst Thou prepare” as equivalent to “Ears didst thou dig.” The explanation is usually found in the Hebrew custom of boring a slave’s ear if he preferred to remain in servitude (Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17), so that the “bored ear” was a symbol of willing obedience. But the Hebrew verb means “to dig” rather than “to bore,” and the true explanation seems to be “thou hast caused me to hear and obey.” So in Isaiah 48:8 we have “thine ear was not opened,” and in Isaiah 50:5, “God hath opened my ear and I was not rebellious.” Thus in the two first clauses of each parallelism in the four lines we have the sacrifices which God does not desire; and in the second clause the obedience for which He does care. “The prepared body” is “the form of a servant,” which Christ took upon Him in order to “open His ears” to the voice of God (Php 2:7). See Revelation 18:13, where “bodies” means “slaves.” St Paul says, “Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4).Hebrews 10:5. Εἰσερχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον, when He comes into the world) In the 40th Psalm, the entrance of the Messiah into the world is set before us. The tabernacle itself was part of the world, ch. Hebrews 9:1; and it is here called the world, because the sacrifice of the Messiah extends much more widely than the Levitical sacrifices, reaching, as through all times, so through all the world, which is claimed for Him as His, Psalm 40:10, because He is its heir. The word, εἰσερχόμενος, entering, is elicited from ἥκω, I am come, and is represented by it, Hebrews 10:7.—θυσίανοὐκ εὐδόκησας.—τοῦ ποιῆσαι, ὁ Θεὸς, τὸ θέλημά σου) LXX., in the psalm now quoted, θυσίανοὐκ ἐζήτησαςτοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου, ὁ Θεός μου, ἠβουλήθην, καὶ τὸν νόμον σου ἐν μέσῳ τῆς κοιλίας μου. The apostle joins those words, τοῦ ποιῆσαι, ὁ Θεὸς, τὸ θέτημά σου, which had been separated from those following, with those going before, which relate to the same thing, as the words, “forty years, in the wilderness,” ch. Hebrews 3:9.—σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι) Heb., thou hast bored my ears (comp. Exodus 21:6), namely, that I may subserve Thy will with perfect love; comp. Isaiah 1:5. The slave, whose ears were bored, was claimed by the master whom he loved with his whole body as his property. Sam. Petitus, in var. lect. c. 28, ascribes the Greek translation of the Prophets and Psalms to the Essenes, and he ascribes to the Essenes this phrase, Thou hast fitted or prepared for me a body; for he says, that among the Essenes there was no slave, but that they had bodies or colleges, whose members served and obeyed one another. The favourers of liberty, however strong in that cause, might still retain the reading, ears; but the apostle maintains the proper (strict) acceptation of the term, body. The ears are a part: the body, as a whole, follows the example of their obedience. Thou hast prepared for me a body, viz. for the offering; Hebrews 10:10. The mentioning of the whole here is very suitable. There is an expression of Paul, concerning the body of Christ, very similar to this, Romans 7:4.Verses 5-7. - Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare me: In whole burnt offering and offerings for sin thou hadst no pleasure: Then said I, Lo, I am come (in the volume (i.e. roll) of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. The quotation is from Psalm 40:6, 7, 8. It is entitled "a psalm of David," nor is there anything in the psalm itself incompatible with his authorship. The question of authorship is, however, unimportant; all that is required for the purpose of the quotation being that it should have been the utterance of an inspired psalmist. The primary import of the passage quoted is that the psalmist, after deliverance from great affliction, for which he gives thanks, expresses his desire to act on the lesson learnt in his trouble by giving himself entirely to God's service. And the service in which God delights he declares to be, not sacrifices of slain beasts, but the doing of his will, the ears being opened to his Word, and his Law being within the heart. Now, bearing in mind what was said under Hebrews 1:5, of the principle on which words used in the Old Testament with a primary human reference are applied in the New Testament directly to Christ, we shall have no difficulty in understanding such application here. The psalmist, it may be allowed, spoke in his own person, and as expressing his own feelings and desires; but, writing under inspiration, he aspired to an ideal beyond his own attainment, the true ideal for humanity, to be realized only in Christ. The ideal is such perfect self-oblation of the human will to God's as to supersede and render needless the existing sacrifices, which are acknowledged to be, in their own nature, valueless. That the psalmist did not really contemplate the fulfillment of this ideal in himself is evident from the penitential confessions of the latter verses of the psalm. It is but the yearning of inspired humanity for what was really needed for reconciliation with God, such yearning being in itself a prophecy. Hence what was thus spoken in the Spirit is adduced as expressing the mind and work of him who fulfilled all those prophetic yearnings, and effected, as Man and for man, what the holy men of old longed to do but could not. The expression, "when he cometh into the world," reminds us of Hebrews 1:6. The word εἰσερχόμενος, here used, is connected in thought with the ἤκω ("I am come") in the quotation. Idle are the inquiries of some commentators as to the precise time, either before or after the Incarnation, at which our Lord is to be conceived as so speaking. Enough to say that his purpose in coming into the world is in these significant words expressed. It is noteworthy, in regard to the attribution of this utterance to him, how frequently he is recorded to have spoken of having come into the world for the accomplishment of a purpose "genie, vel potius, vent, symbolum quasi Domini Jesu fuit" (Bengel). (See Matthew 5:17; Matthew 10:34, 35; Matthew 18:11; Matthew 20:28; Mark 1:38; Luke 9:56; John 9:39; John 10:10; and especially for close agreement with the language of the passage before us, John 6:38, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that tent me;" and John 12:46, "I am come a light into the world.") The psalm is quoted from the LXX., with slight variation, not worth considering, as it does not affect the sense of the passage. But the variation of the LXX. from the Hebrew text requires notice.

(1) Instead of "a body didst thou prepare for me (σῶμα κατηρτίσω μοι)" of the LXX. and the quotation from it, the Hebrew has "mine ears hast thou opened;" literally, "ears hast thou dug for me," meaning probably, "formed the cavity of my ears through which thy Word may penetrate," equivalent to "given me ears to hear," with reference, of course, to spiritual auscultation. If to the Hebrew verb כָרַה be assigned here the sense of piercing, rather than hollowing out, implying an entrance affected through the ears already formed, the general sense remains the same. In either case the word κατηρτίσω may be accounted for, as being a free rendering, intended to give the meaning of the figure. But the substitution of "body" for "ears" is not so easily accounted for. One conjecture is that some transcriber of the Alexandrian translation of the Hebrew had inadvertently joined the last letter of the preceding word, ἠθελησας, to the following word, ωτια, and that the ΤΙ of ΞΩΤΙΑ was then changed into the Μ of ΟΩΜΑ, so as to make sense of the word thus formed. But this is only conjecture. That some copies of the LXX. had ὠτία appears from the fact that the Vulgate, translated from the LXX., reads aures perfecisti mihi, and that some manuscripts of the LXX. still have ὠτία, or ῶτᾳ. Thus there can be little doubt that σῶμα was a wrong rendering of the Hebrew, however originating, which the writer of the Epistle found in the copies of the LXX. which he used. For that he himself altered the word to suit his purpose, and that the alteration got into copies of the LXX. from the Epistle, is highly improbable, considering the general accuracy of his quotations, and his purpose of proving his positions from the sacred documents to which his readers could refer. As to the unimportance of any such variations from the original Hebrew in the quotations of the Epistle from the LXX., as long as the argument is not affected, see what is said under Hebrews 1:7 with respect to the quotation from Psalm 104. In this case the variation certainly does not affect the argument. For though the word σῶμα is certainly taken up again in ver. 10 as applicable to Christ, yet the argument of the passage by no means rests on this word, but on θέλημα. This is indeed a passage (as was observed under Hebrews 9:14) notable for the very fact that the essence of the atonement is in it represented as consisting, not so much in its physical accompaniments as in its being a spiritual act of perfect self-oblation.

(2) The more probable meaning of the phrase translated in the LXX. and the quotation, "it is written of me γεγράπται περὶ ἐμοῦ)" is in the Hebrew," it is prescribed unto me," i.e. "laid on me as a duty;" this being also the sense in which the same words occur in 2 Kings 22:13, "Great is the wrath of the Lord... because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is prescribed to us;" where the LXX. translates, τὰ γεγραμμένα καθ ἡμῶν. The most obvious reference of the Hebrew psalm is to the Book of the Law generally, in which the duty of fulfilling the Divine will is enjoined, rather than to any prophecy, applied by the writer to himself individually. If so, it is not necessary to inquire what prophecy about himself David might have had in view; whether e.g. Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; or Deuteronomy 17:14, et seq. But the phrase, περὶ ἐμοῦ, does certainly rather suggest a prophecy, and such suggestion is peculiarly appropriate in the application to Christ. Well, then, if here again there is some variation from the original Hebrew text, it is still such as to leave the general argument intact. Confirming the assertion of Hebrews 10:4 by a citation, Psalm 40:7-9, the theme of which is that deliverance from sin is not obtained by animal sacrifices, but by fulfilling God's will. The quotation does not agree with either the Hebrew or the lxx, and the Hebrew and lxx do not agree. The writer supposes the words to be spoken by Messiah when he enters the world as Savior. The obedience to the divine will, which the Psalmist contrasts with sacrifices, our writer makes to consist in Christ's offering once for all. According to him, the course of thought in the Psalm is as follows: "Thou, O God, desirest not the sacrifice of beasts, but thou hast prepared my body as a single sacrifice, and so I come to do thy will, as was predicted of me, by the sacrifice of myself." Christ did not yield to God's will as authoritative constraint. The constraint lay in his own eternal spirit. His sacrifice was no less his own will than God's will.

Sacrifice and offering (θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν)

The animal-offering and the meal-offering.

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