Hebrews 2:2
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The word spoken by angels.—Or rather, through angels (comp. Hebrews 1:2): the word was God’s, but angels were the medium through which it was given to men. In accordance with the tone of the whole passage (in which the thought is not the reward of obedience, but the peril of neglect of duty), “the word” must denote divine commands delivered by angels, and—as the close parallel presented by Hebrews 10:28-29, seems to prove—especially the commands of the Mosaic law. Hence this verse must be joined to the other passages (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; comp. also Acts 7:38) which bring into relief the ministration of angels in the giving of the Law; and the nature of the argument of this Epistle gives special importance to the subject here. The only passage in the Pentateuch which can be quoted in illustration is Deuteronomy 33:2 : “The Lord came from Sinai. . . . He came from amid myriads of holy ones.” The Greek version (introducing a double rendering of the Hebrew) adds, “at His right hand were angels with Him;” and two of the Targums likewise speak of the “myriads of holy angels.” Psalm 68:17 is difficult and obscure, but very possibly agrees with the passage just quoted in referring to angels as the attendants of Jehovah on the mount. Nowhere in the Old Testament is the thought carried beyond this point; but there are a few passages in Jewish writers which clearly show that such a ministration of angels as is here spoken of was a tenet of Jewish belief in the apostolic age. Philo, after saying that the angels have their name from reporting the commands of the Father to His children, and the wants of the children to the Father, adds: “We are unable to contain His exceeding and unalloyed benefits, if He Himself proffers them to us without employing others as His ministers.” Much more important are the words of Josephus (Ant. xv. 5, § 3), who introduces Herod as reminding the Jews that the noblest of the ordinances and the holiest of the things contained in the laws had been learnt by them from God through angels. Jewish writers quoted by Wetstein speak of the “angels of service” whom Moses had known from the time of the giving of the law; and, moreover, of the angel who, when Moses had through terror forgotten all that he had been taught during the forty days, delivered the law to him again. Such speculations are of interest as showing the place which this tenet held in Jewish doctrine and belief. Here and in Galatians 3:19 (see Note there) this mediation of angels is adduced as a mark of the inferiority of the law; in Acts 7:53, where no such comparison is made, the contrast implied is between angels and men as givers of a law.

Was stedfast.—Rather, proved steadfast or sure; evidence of this was given by the punishment which overtook the transgressor, whether inflicted by the direct visitation of God or by human hands faithfully executing the divine will. Of the two words well rendered transgression and disobedience, the one points especially to the infraction of a positive precept, the other is more general: the former relates more commonly to “thou shalt not;” the latter rather to “thou shalt.” The two words are here united, that every violation of the command may be included. The use of reward in a neutral or unfavourable sense (2Peter 2:13; Psalm 94:2, et al.) is not uncommon in our older writers. (Comp. “the reward of a villain,” in Shakespeare.)

Hebrews 2:2-4. For if the word spoken by angels — The law delivered by their ministry. It is nowhere affirmed that the law was given by angels, but that the people received it, εις διαταγας αγγελων, by the disposition, administration, or deputation of angels, Acts 7:53; and that it was διαταγεις, ordained, appointed, or promulgated, by angels, (Galatians 3:19,) and here that it was spoken by them. From hence it is evident, that not the original, authoritative giving of the law, but the ministerial ordering of things in its promulgation, is that which is ascribed to them. As Chrysostom observes, they excited the thunderings, the lightnings, the smoke, the earthquake, and the sounding of the trumpet which preceded God’s giving the law. And perhaps also an angel effected the articulate voices which conveyed the words of the ten commandments to the ears of the people; or an angel was employed to repeat, in a loud and terrible voice, the words which God pronounced, I am the Lord thy God, with what follows, Exodus 20:2, &c. The apostle having just insisted (chap. 1.) on a comparison between Christ and the angels, his argument is greatly corroborated when it is considered, that the law was the word spoken by angels, but the gospel was delivered by the Son, who is so far exalted above them; was steadfast Βεβαιος, firm, a sure covenant between God and the people; and every transgression and disobedience — The word παραβασις, transgression, signifies the leaping over the bounds which the law had set, by doing the things forbidden by it; παρακοη is the refusing to do the things it enjoins; received a just recompense of reward — That is, a just punishment. But how could every sin and transgression be said to receive a just retribution, seeing it is certain that some sins, under the law, were not punished, but expiated by atonements? In answer to this, it must be observed, that every sin was contrary to the doctrine and precepts of the law, and therefore punishment was assigned to every sin, though not executed on every sinner. Besides, the sacrifices of atonement manifested punishment to have been due, though the sinner was relieved against it. But the sins especially intended by the apostle were, in fact, such as were directly against the law, as it was the covenant between God and the people; for which there was no provision made of any atonement or compensation. But the covenant being broken, the sinners were to die without mercy; and thus to be utterly exterminated by the hand of God, or that of man, by his appointment. The expression, ενδικος μισθαποδοσιν, rendered, a just recompense of reward, signifies a recompense proportionable to the crime, according to the judgment of God, which is infinitely just and equal, and implies that they who commit sin are worthy of death, Romans 1:32; and particularly refers to the temporal punishment of cutting them off from the land of the living, according to the dispensation of the law to which the Israelites were subject.

How shall we escape — Severe punishment; if we neglect Αμελησαντες, not caring about, not embracing and improving; so great salvation — That is, both the doctrine of salvation, the gospel which brings us tidings of it, shows us our want of it, offers it to us, and is the most powerful means of bringing us to enjoy it; and salvation itself, declared by this doctrine, and announced and exhibited in this gospel. The greatness of this salvation may be inferred with certainty from the great dignity and glory of its Author, as set forth in the preceding chapter, and from the great things he hath done and suffered to procure it for lost mankind; the great price paid for it, (1 Peter 1:18-19,) and the great power exerted to put us in possession of it, Ephesians 1:19. But, independently of these considerations, it is evidently great, unspeakably great, in its own nature; being, 1st, A deliverance from a state of great ignorance and folly, with respect to things spiritual and divine, Titus 3:3; of great guilt and depravity, weakness and misery, which, were it not for this salvation, would be eternal; 2d, A restoration (so the word σωτηρια, rendered salvation, also signifies) to the favour and friendship, image and nature of God, and communion with him; blessings lost by the fall — blessings of infinite value, and intended to be of everlasting duration; and, (which likewise is implied in the same expression,) 3d, A preservation, notwithstanding all the subtlety and power, malice and diligence of our spiritual enemies, continually exerted to effect our destruction, to eternal life, felicity, and glory; or the being kept by the power of God, through faith, unto final, eternal salvation, of both body and soul, 1 Peter 1:5. A salvation this unspeakably, yea, infinitely greater than that wrought for the Israelites of old, when God delivered them from Egyptian bondage, and established them in the quiet possession of Canaan. Which at the first began to be spoken — To be preached in a clear and distinct manner; by the Lord — The Son of God, the Lord of angels. Jesus is called the Lord, chiefly because, as the Maker and Governor of the world, he is Lord of all, Acts 10:36; consequently he is able both to reward those who obey him, by bestowing on them eternal salvation, and to punish with everlasting destruction those who disobey him; and was confirmed — Further declared, and its truth attested; unto us — Of this age, even every article of it; by them that heard him — The apostles, who had been themselves both eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. “Matters of fact which were transacted before our own time, and whereof we could not be ourselves eye-witnesses, are readily believed upon the report of others. And when the reporters are persons of credit and reputation, and report nothing but what they declare themselves to have seen and certainly known, and they are likewise many, and exactly concur in their testimony, and nothing is alleged against them by any others, and particularly by such as were concerned to invalidate their account if possible, we think we have all the reason in the world to receive their testimony. All which circumstances do evidently concur in the confirmation of the gospel.” — Pierce. God also bearing them witness — As to the truth and importance of their doctrine; both with signs and wonders — Many and marvellous. “The apostle having observed, in Hebrews 2:2, that the law spoken by angels was confirmed by the miracles which accompanied its delivery, he judged it proper to mention that the gospel was equally confirmed by the great miracles which accompanied the preaching, both of Jesus Christ himself and of the apostles. Wherefore such of the Hebrews as had not heard Jesus preach the great salvation, were nevertheless bound to give heed to the things which he had preached, since they were sufficiently declared and proved to them by the apostles and other ministers of the word, who had heard him preach these things.” — Macknight. With divers miracles and gifts Μερισμοις, distributions; of the Holy Ghost — In his extraordinary operations, imparted in different degrees to different persons; according to his own will — “Moses wrought many signs, wonders, and miracles; but the distributions of the Holy Ghost he knew nothing of. They were peculiar to the gospel dispensation, and consisted of the internal gifts of wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, faith, the discernment of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.” These are called distributions of the Holy Ghost, because God by his Spirit divided them to every one as he pleased, 1 Corinthians 12:11. “The miracles,” says Pierce, “which were wrought by the first preachers of the gospel, were an attestation from God of the truth of what they delivered. And indeed we must entertain very strange and unworthy apprehensions of the blessed God, if we can suppose that he would countenance a notorious imposture, by enabling those who published it to the world to perform, in confirmation of it, so many miracles as they did, things that were vastly above the power and ability of men. It is true there were other confirmations of our Saviour’s character and commission, particularly the concurrence of all that was foretold by the old prophets concerning the Messiah. But this does by no means hinder these miracles to be an attestation from God, and accordingly to deserve our utmost regard.”

And now let the reader consider how those will excuse their conduct to God, their own consciences, or the assembled world of men and angels in the day of final judgment, who neglect this salvation; a salvation which has so glorious an Author, which is so unspeakably great and excellent in itself, has cost such an immense price, and to attest and confirm which God’s almighty power has been exerted in so extraordinary a manner in signs and wonders innumerable; yea, “has waked and worked for ages.” But who are they that may properly be said to neglect this salvation? Surely not those merely who disbelieve and reject the gospel, which proclaims, displays, and offers it; or who oppose and persecute the preachers and professors of it; but those who, as the expression used here by the apostle means, make light of it, have little or no care or concern about it, and consequently take no pains to become partakers of it. All do and will neglect this salvation who do not, 1st, See their want of it, and their undone state without it; who are not convinced of its absolute necessity and great excellence; 2d, Who do not earnestly and perseveringly desire it, and hunger and thirst for the enjoyment of it; 3d, Who do not diligently seek it in the use of the means which God has appointed, the private and public means of grace, such as hearing, reading, and meditating on the word of God, prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, and taking up the daily cross; 4th, Who do not humble themselves before God in true, genuine repentance, and bring forth fruit worthy of repentance; 5th, Who do not embrace the gospel in all its branches, its truths, precepts, and promises; its doctrines, privileges, and duties; and the Lord Jesus, its blessed Author, in all his offices and characters, in faith, love, and new obedience. Nay, and, 6th, They, in some measure at least, neglect this salvation who, having experienced one part of it, as, for instance, a sense of pardon and the divine favour, yet do not go forward with zeal and diligence in pursuit of what remains, namely, perfect holiness, and eternal glory. And these, 7th, Most of all neglect this salvation who, having begun in the Spirit, end in the flesh; who fall from grace, and turn from the holy commandment delivered to them; whose case the apostle represents in a just but awful light, Hebrews 6:4-8; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 12:25-27. From which passages the reader may learn how the neglecters of this salvation in general, and apostates, or back-sliders, in particular, may expect to escape. The truth, with respect to this, Isaiah , 1 st, That mankind in general being by nature and practice in a lost state, a state of ignorance and sin, of guilt, condemnation, and wrath, of depravity, weakness, and misery; and this salvation being provided for their recovery, they who neglect it of course remain in that lost estate, unenlightened, unpardoned, unchanged, unholy, and unhappy. They sin against the remedy, the only remedy which the wisdom of God hath found out for man’s restoration, and therefore must perish without remedy. This is not all; they have, 2d, To expect a superadded and increased misery for neglecting the glorious salvation provided for them; provided at so great an expense of love and sufferings, and with so great an apparatus of grace and mercy. This passage proves this point to a demonstration; as do also the other paragraphs above referred to. Observe, reader, the greatness of the salvation — its eternity — the glory of its Author — the amazing sufferings he endured — the various and extraordinary gifts and operations of the Holy Ghost, that in former ages sealed and signalized this divine dispensation — the pardon and grace offered to us, and urged upon us — the advices, exhortations, entreaties, and warnings of ministers and others, who had our salvation at heart; — in short, the various means made use of, in various ways, to bring us to the knowledge and enjoyment of this salvation: — all these must aggravate our guilt, and increase our condemnation and future punishment, if we neglect it. 2:1-4 Christ being proved to be superior to the angels, this doctrine is applied. Our minds and memories are like a leaky vessel, they do not, without much care, retain what is poured into them. This proceeds from the corruption of our nature, temptations, worldly cares, and pleasures. Sinning against the gospel is neglect of this great salvation; it is a contempt of the saving grace of God in Christ, making light of it, not caring for it, not regarding either the worth of gospel grace, or the want of it, and our undone state without it. The Lord's judgments under the gospel dispensation are chiefly spiritual, but are on that account the more to be dreaded. Here is an appeal to the consciences of sinners. Even partial neglects will not escape rebukes; they often bring darkness on the souls they do not finally ruin. The setting forth the gospel was continued and confirmed by those who heard Christ, by the evangelists and apostles, who were witnesses of what Jesus Christ began both to do and to teach; and by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, qualified for the work to which they were called. And all this according to God's own will. It was the will of God that we should have sure ground for our faith, and a strong foundation for our hope in receiving the gospel. Let us mind this one thing needful, and attend to the Holy Scriptures, written by those who heard the words of our gracious Lord, and were inspired by his Spirit; then we shall be blessed with the good part that cannot be taken away.For if the word spoken by angels - The revelation in the Old Testament. It was indeed given by Yahweh, but it was the common opinion of the Hebrews that it was by the ministry of angels; see Acts 7:38, Acts 7:53 notes, and Galatians 3:19 note, where this point is fully considered. As Paul was discoursing here of the superiority of the Redeemer to the angels, it was to the point to refer to the fact that the Law had been given by the ministry of angels.

Was steadfast - Was firm - βέβαιος bebaios; settled - established. It was not vacillating and fluctuating. It determined what crime was, and it was firm in its punishment. It did not yield to circumstances; but if not obeyed in all respects, it denounced punishment. The idea here is not that everything was "fulfilled," but it is that the Law so given could not be violated with impunity. It was not safe to violate it, but it took notice of the slightest failure to yield perfect obedience to its demands.

And every transgression - Literally, "going beyond, passing by." It means every instance of "disregarding" the Law.

And disobedience. - Every instance of "not hearing" the Law - παρακοὴ parakoē - and hence, every instance of disobeying it. The word here stands opposite to "hearing" it, or attending to it - and the sense of the whole is, that the slightest infraction of the Law was sure to be punished. It made no provision for indulgence in sin; it demanded prompt, implicit, and entire obedience. "Received a just recompense of reward." Was strictly punished. Subjected to equal retribution. This was the character of the Law. It threatened punishment for each and every offence, and made no allowance for transgression in any form; compare Numbers 15:30-31.

2. (Compare Heb 2:3.) Argument a fortiori.

spoken by angels—the Mosaic law spoken by the ministration of angels (De 33:2; Ps 68:17; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19). When it is said, Ex 20:1, "God spake," it is meant He spake by angels as His mouthpiece, or at least angels repeating in unison with His voice the words of the Decalogue; whereas the Gospel was first spoken by the Lord alone.

was steadfast—Greek, "was made steadfast," or "confirmed": was enforced by penalties on those violating it.

transgression—by doing evil; literally, overstepping its bounds: a positive violation of it.

disobedience—by neglecting to do good: a negative violation of it.

recompense—(De 32:35).

This and the following verse is a rational motive used by the Spirit to enforce the foregoing duty, and shows the danger of their persons by the neglect of it.

For if the word spoken by angels; for if the law of God delivered by the ministry of angels to these Hebrews’ forefathers at Mount Sinai, Deu 33:2, as ministers, and servants of Christ there, Acts 7:38,53, compare Galatians 3:19, and all other revelations of God’s will to Moses and the prophets by angels, consisting of precepts, prohibitions, promises, and comminations, the whole body of God’s laws contained in the Old Testament. The term by which law is expressed, logov, signifies in most of the Eastern languages a command as well as a word; and legein, to command, as well as to speak. The force or obligation of this law or word was from God the Redeemer, whose word it was, though published and promulgated to the church by angels.

Was stedfast; made firm by the solemn sanction of God, with a penalty, if any durst use it arbitrarily, or despise it; there was no violating it by commission or omission without being punished for it; God establishing it by fulfilling promises and executing judgments, Hebrews 10:28. Not a contumacious transgressor of it could escape his punishment; which made the law firm and valid; see Deu 17:10, &c.; and this not only as the law of a Creator, but of a Redeemer, stablashing of it by entering into a covenant with them by it, and they confirming it, Joshua 24:22,24.

And every transgression and disobedience; every contumacious going beside the law, or casting it aside by commission of evil, or rejecting prohibitions, or disobedience to positive laws by omission of what they required. And by a metonymy is understood transgressors by either of these ways.

Received a just recompence of reward; a just retribution, a righteous proportionable rendering of punishment to them for their sin; evil for evil, and death for sin, executed either immediately by God, or mediately by his instruments of government, according to the exact grains of justice, Romans 2:5-13. This punishment was either inflicted on, or received certainly by, the offender in his own person if capital, or in his representative sacrifice for lesser crimes, Hebrews 10:28 Romans 1:32 1 Corinthians 10:5-11. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,.... This is a description of the law, from whence the apostle argues to a stricter regard to the Gospel, as from the lesser to the greater: this is called "the word", and a terrible one it was; it was a voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; it was the word "spoken" with an articulate voice, and was heard by the Israelites, and it was spoken "by angels". Jehovah the Father's voice was never heard; when he came to give the law, ten thousand angels came along with him; and the ministry of these he used in the delivery of the law; by them he spoke it; they formed in the air the voices heard; it was ordained by them, and given by the disposition of them; see Acts 7:53. To which agree those words of Herod, spoken to the Jews, recorded by Josephus (b); that we learn of God, , "by angels", the best of doctrines, and the most holy things in the law. And this was "steadfast"; firm, and sure, being the word of God, which cannot pass away, until it be fulfilled: it was confirmed by terrible signs attending it, and by the people's assent unto it; the penalty of it is sure and certain, in case of disobedience; and as to the form and ministration of it, it remained until Christ, the end of it, came; and as to the matter of it, so far as of a moral nature, it still remains: the judicial and ceremonial parts of it are abrogated; and the whole of it is abolished, as in the hands of Moses, and as a covenant of works, and as to the curse and condemnation of it, and with respect to justification by it; but it still continues as a cursing law to all that are under it; and as a means of conviction to sinners in the hands of the Spirit; and as a rule of walk and conversation to saints, as in the hands of Christ:

and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; every precept of the law had a penalty annexed to it; and every breach of it was punished as that penalty required; and that according to the strict justice of God, and the just demerit of sin; and none escaped, but suffered the punishment due to the violation of the precept either in themselves, or in their surety; so steadfast and immovable was this law.

(b) Antiqu. l. 15. c. 5. sect. 3.

For if the {c} word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

(c) The Law which appointed punishment for the offenders: and which Paul says was given by angels, Gal 3:19 and by Stephen also in, Ac 7:53.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 2:2. Ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος] the word proclaimed by angels (not: by human messengers, i.e. prophets; so Daniel Heinsius and G. Olearius, against the connection with chap. 1., and contrary to Biblical usage), i.e. the Mosaic law. Of an activity of the angels in connection with the act of legislation on Sinai nothing indeed is mentioned in Exodus 19; it was, however, a traditional view very widely spread among the Jews. See Schoettgen and Wetstein on Galatians 3:19. The earliest traces thereof appear Deuteronomy 33:2, LXX., and Psalm 68:18 (17). It is clearly enunciated Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Josephus, Antiq. xv. 5. 3.

To understand other divine revelations given through the intervention of angels, like Genesis 19:26, to the exclusion of the Mosaic law (Dorscheus, Calov, Schoettgen, Carpzov, Semler, al.), or with the inclusion of the same (Baumgarten, Ewald, M‘Caul: “To my mind, the transition to the law exclusively is in the present instance somewhat abrupt. Does it not rather also refer to the ministrations of angels vouchsafed from time to time during the whole of the earlier dispensation, and to which allusion is made in the concluding verse of the first chapter?”), as intended by the ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος, is forbidden—apart from the connection in its main points, and the whole tendency of the epistle—by the expression ὁ λόγος in the singular.

The preterites ἐγένετο and ἔλαβεν characterize the period of the Mosaic law as a past one, the condition of life prevailing in the same as one now obsolete and historically surmounted.

βέβαιος] form, i.e. inviolable and obligatory, as is evident from the explanatory clause καὶ πᾶσαμισθαπ. immediately following.

παράβασις the objective transgression, παρακοή the subjective listless hearing or inattention, Uebertretung and Ueberhörung. Not inaptly Böhme, in preserving the paronomasia, “non commissa solum, sed omissa etiam.”

ἔνδικος] just, in the N. T. only here and Romans 3:8. μισθαποδοσία] selected, sonorous word, a favourite one with our author in the sense of the simple μισθός, but not occurring elsewhere in the N. T. The term is a vox media, signifies thus recompense. It is here employed in the unfavourable sense (= punishment), Hebrews 10:35, Hebrews 11:26, in the favourable sense (= reward).

Hebrews 2:2-4. Establishing of the δεῖ περισσοτέρως προσέχειν ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν, Hebrews 2:1, by a warning reference to the great responsibility and culpability in the case of its neglect, and this in a conclusion a minore ad majus. Not justifiably does de Wette take Hebrews 2:2-4 as a “proving of the danger of the παραῤῥ.” For not the possibility of foregoing salvation, but the culpability of losing it through neglect, forms the central thought in Hebrews 2:2-4.Hebrews 2:2. εἰ γὰρ ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος.… An a fortiori argument derived from the notoriously inevitable character of the punishment which overtook those who disregarded the Law. “The word spoken through angels” is the Law, the characteristic and fundamental form under which the old revelation had been made. The belief that angels mediated the Law is found in Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Josephus, Ant., xv. 53. ἐγένετο βέβαιος: “proved steadfast,” inviolable, held good; as in Romans 4:16, of the promise εἰς τὸ εἶναι βέβαιαν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. The sanctions of the law were not a mere brutum fulmen. This appeared in the fact that πᾶσα παράβασις … “every transgression and disobedience”. παράβασις is transgression of a positive command: παρακοή is neglect to obey. Grotius renders παρακ. by “contumacia” which may be involved; but Böhme is right in his note “non commissa solum, sed omissa etiam”. The inflictions, whether on individuals, as Achan, or on the whole people, as in the wilderness-generation, were “a just recompense,” not an arbitrary, or excessive punishment. For μισθαποδοσία classical writers use μισθοδοσία.2. For] An argument a minori ad majus, of which indeed the whole Epistle is a specimen. It was the commonest form assumed by the Rabbinic interpretation of Scripture, and was the first of the seven exegetic rules of Hillel, who called it “light and heavy.”

the word spoken by angels] The “by” is not ὑπό but διἀ, i.e. “by means of,” “through the instrumentality of.” The presence of Angels at Sinai is but slightly alluded to in the O. T. in Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; but these allusions had been greatly expanded, and were prominently dwelt upon in Rabbinic teaching—the Talmud, Targums, Midrashim, &c.—until, at last, we find in the tract Maccoth that God was only supposed to have uttered the First Commandment, while all the rest of the Law was delivered by Angels. This notion was at least as old as Josephus, who makes Herod say that the Jews “had learned of God through Angels” the most sacred part of their laws (Jos. Antt. xv. 5 § 3). The Alexandrian theology especially, impressed with the truth that “no man hath seen God at any time (comp. Exodus 33:20) eagerly seized on the allusions to Angels as proving that every theophany was only indirect, and that God could only be seen through the medium of Angelic appearances. Hence the Jews frequently referred to Psalm 104:4, and regarded the fire, and smoke, and storm of Sinai as being Angelic vehicles of the divine manifestation. And besides this, their boast of the Angelic ministry of the Law was founded on the allusions to the “Angel of the Presence” (Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:14; Joshua 5:14; Isaiah 63:9). In the N. T. the only two other passages which allude to the work of Angels in delivering the Law are Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19 (see my Life of St Paul, ii. 149). Clearly the Hebrew Christians had to be delivered from the notion that Christ, by being “made under the Law,” had subjected Himself to the loftier position of the Angels who had ministered the Law.

was stedfast] Rather, “became” or “proved” steadfast. The Law was no brutum julmen; no inoperative dead-letter, but effective to vindicate its own majesty, and punish its own violation. Philo uses the very same word (βέβαια) of the institutions of Moses; but the difference of standpoint between him and the writer is illustrated by the fact that Philo also calls them ἀσάλευτα, “not to be shaken” which this writer would not have done (Hebrews 12:27).

every transgression and disobedience] i.e. all sins against it, whether of commission or of omission. Parabasis is “transgression;” parakoç is “mishearing” and neglect (Matthew 18:17; Romans 5:19).

just] This form of the word (endikos) occurs only here and in Romans 3:8.

received a just recompence of reward] The word misthos, “wage” or “pay”—which is used of punishment as well as of reward—would have expressed the same thought; but the writer likes the more sonorous misthapodosia (Hebrews 10:35, Hebrews 11:26). This remorseless self-vindication by the Law (“without mercy”), the certainty that it could not be broken with impunity, is alluded to in Hebrews 10:28. The Israelites found even in the wilderness (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 15:32; Numbers 15:36; Deuteronomy 4:3, &c.), that such stern warnings as that of Numbers 15:30—threatening excision to offenders—were terribly real, and applied alike to individuals and to the nation.Hebrews 2:2. Δἰ ἀγγέλων, by angels) Διὰ, by, is taken in the strict sense, as in the following verse, comparing the words of Paul, Galatians 3:19. Otherwise the apostle’s argument from angels to the Lord would not hold good, Hebrews 2:5. GOD therefore spoke by angels, Exodus 20:1, [in such a way, however, as that it was the very sound of GOD’S voice, Hebrews 12:26.—V. g.] In the New Testament God spoke by the Lord.—ἐγένετο βέβαιος, was made stedfast) its authority being established by the penalties incurred on the part of those who were guilty of its violation.—πᾶσα, every) without respect of persons.—παράβασις καὶ παρακοὴ) παράβασις, transgression, by doing evil: παρακοὴ, disobedience, by neglecting to do good. The Metonymy of the abstract for the concrete, viz. for the transgressor and disobedient, who properly receive the recompense of reward. The antithesis in the concrete is, we neglecting [if we neglect], Hebrews 2:3; the antithesis to which in the abstract is, Hebrews 2:1, προσέχειν τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσι, to give heed to those things which have been heard. Δεῖ has the accusative with the infinitive. Thence the sentiment: We (the subject) ought to give heed to those things which are heard (the predicate). This predicate has the antithesis in the abstract.—ἔλαβεν, received) not only in the sanction, but in the execution.Verses 2, 3. - For if the word that was spoken through angels (i.e. the Law) was made (or, proved) steadfast (i.e. as explained in the next clause, ratified by just visitation of every transgression and disobedience), how shall we (Christians) escape, if we neglect so great salvation? The danger of neglect must be in proportion to the dignity of the revelation. The readers are now further reminded of the manner in which the gospel had been made known to them, and been ratified in their own experience, by way of enhancing the danger of disregarding it. Which (not the simple relative pronoun η}, but ἥτις, which denotes always, when so used, some general idea in the antecedent, equivalent to "being such as"), having at the first begun to be spoken through the Lord (opposed to "the word spoken through angels" in the preceding verse. Its beginning was through the Lord himself, i.e. Christ the SON, not through intermediate agency. Ὁ Κύριος is a special designation of Christ in the New Testament; and, though not in itself proving belief in his divinity, is significant as being constantly used also as a designation of God, and substituted in the LXX. for יהוה. It has a special emphasis here as expressing the majesty of Christ), was confirmed (ἐβεβαιώθη, answering to ἐγένετο βέβαῖος in the former verse) unto us by them that heard (i.e. by the apostles and others who knew Christ in the flesh). Here the writer ranks himself among those who had not heard Christ himself; his doing which has been considered to afford a presumption against St. Paul having been the writer. For, though not an eyewitness of Christ's ministry, he is in the habit elsewhere of insisting strongly on his having received his "knowledge of the mystery," not from men or through men, but by direct revelation from the ascended Savior (cf. Galatians 1:1, 12). Still, he does not deny elsewhere that for the facts of Christ's history he was indebted to the testimony of others (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3, etc.). It was rather the meaning of the mystery that he had learnt from heaven. The word spoken by angels (ὁ δι ἀγγέλλων λαληθεὶς λόγος)

The Mosaic legislation which was conveyed through the mediation of angels. Comp. Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:38, Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19, on which see note. The agency of angels indicates the limitations of the legal dispensation; its character as a dispensation of the flesh. Hence its importance in this discussion. The abolition of the old limitations is the emancipation of man from subordination to the angels. The O.T. is made to furnish proof that such subordination is inconsistent with man's ultimate destiny to sovereignty over all creation.

Was steadfast (ἐγένετο βέβαιος)

Rend. proved sure: realized itself in the event as securely founded in the divine holiness, and eternal in its principles and obligations. Comp. Matthew 5:18.

Transgression and disobedience (παράβασις καὶ παρακοὴ)

Παράβασις is a stepping over the line; the violation of a positive divine enactment. See on Romans 2:23. Παρακοὴ only in Paul and Hebrews, is a disobedience which results from neglecting to hear; from letting things drift by. It is noticeable how often in O.T. obedience is described as hearing, and disobedience as refusing to hear. See Exodus 15:26; Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:8; Exodus 23:22; Joshua 1:18; Isaiah 28:12; Isaiah 30:9; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 32:23; Jeremiah 35:16. Comp. Acts 7:57.

A just recompense of reward (ἔνδικον μισθατοδοσίαν)

Ἔνδικος just, only here and Romans 3:8. olxx, quite frequent in Class., but mainly in poetry. The meaning is substantially the same as δίκαιος as it appears in the familiar phrase δίκαιός εἰμιwith the infinitive: thus, δίκαιός εἰμι κολάζειν I am right to punish, that is, I have a right, etc., right or justice being regarded as working within a definite circle. Μισθαποδοσία recompense only in Hebrews. Comp. Hebrews 10:35; Hebrews 11:26. olxx, oClass., where the word is, μισθοδοσία. From μισθός wages and ἀποδιδόναι to pay off or discharge. The reference is, primarily, to the punishments suffered by the Israelites in the wilderness. Comp. Hebrews 3:16; Hebrews 10:28; 1 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

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