Hebrews 2:4
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) God also bearing them witness.—That is, bearing witness with them to the truth they preached. Mark 16:20 is a striking parallel; see also Acts 4:30. The divine attestation was given by miracles and by “gifts” (literally, distributions, as in the margin; see 1Corinthians 12:11) “of the Holy Ghost.” We have here, as in Acts 2:22 and 2Corinthians 12:12 (see the Notes), the full threefold description of miracles, as “signs” and “wonders” and “powers”; as wonderful works that are wrought by divine power, and are thus signs of the divine presence and symbols of a corresponding spiritual work. The words here used are illustrated especially by 2Corinthians 12:12, in its reference to miracles as attesting the apostolic preaching. But yet “greater works” (John 14:12) were wrought by the messengers of Christ, in that through them were bestowed the gifts of the Spirit. The last words, “according to His will,” bring us back to the first words of the section (Hebrews 1:1); as it is God who speaks to men in His Son, it is He who works with those who proclaim the word that they have heard, attesting their message by gifts according to His will.

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.God also bearing them witness - By miracles. Giving them the sanction of his authority, or showing that they were sent by him. No man can work a miracle by his own power. When the dead are raised, the deaf made to hear and the blind to see by a word, it is the power of God alone that does it. He thus becomes a "witness" to the divine appointment of him by whose instrumentality the miracle is performed; or furnishes an attestation that what he says is true; see notes on Acts 14:3.

With signs and wonders. - These words are usually connected in the New Testament. The word rendered "signs" - σημεῖον sēmeion - means any miraculous event that is suited to show that what had been predicted by a prophet would certainly take place; see Matthew 12:38; compare note on Isaiah 7:11. A "wonder" - τέρας teras - denotes a portent, or prodigy - something that is suited to excite wonder or amazement - and hence, a miracle. The words together refer to the various miracles which were performed by the Lord Jesus and his apostles, designed to confirm the truth of the Christian religion.

And with divers miracles. - Various miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. The miracles were not of one class merely, but were various, so that all pretence of deception should be taken away.

And gifts of the Holy Ghost. - Margin, "Distributions." The various influences of the Holy Spirit enabling them to speak different languages, and to perform works beyond the power of man; see notes on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

According to his will - As he chose. He acted as a sovereign in this. He gave them where he pleased, and imparted them in such measure as he chose. The sense of this whole passage is, "The gospel has been promulgated to man in a solemn manner. It was first published by the Lord of glory himself. It was confirmed by the most impressive and solemn miracles. It is undoubtedly a revelation from heaven; was given in more solemn circumstances than the Law of Moses, and its threatenings are more to be dreaded than those of the Law. Beware, therefore, how you trifle with it, or disregard it. It cannot be neglected with safety; its neglect or rejection must be attended with condemnation."

4. them—rather, "God also [as well as Christ, Heb 2:3] bearing witness to it," &c., joining in attestation of it."

signs and wonders—performed by Christ and His apostles. "Signs" and miracles, or other facts regarded as proofs of a divine mission; "wonders" are miracles viewed as prodigies, causing astonishment (Ac 2:22, 33); "powers" are miracles viewed as evidences of superhuman power.

divers miracles—Greek, "varied (miraculous) powers" (2Co 12:12) granted to the apostles after the ascension.

gifts, &c.—Greek, "distributions." The gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Christ without measure (Joh 3:34), but to us it is distributed in various measures and operations (Ro 12:3, 6, &c.; 1Co 12:4-11).

according to his own will—God's free and sovereign will, assigning one gift of the Spirit to one, another to another (Ac 5:32; Eph 1:5).

God also bearing them witness: here is a further aggravation of the neglect of the gospel of salvation, from God’s testifying to it by the works and gifts of his Holy Spirit: such sin grievously, and will receive a proportionable punishment; for God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, cotestify with all those instruments confirming the gospel of salvation, with a testimony peculiarly fitted to it; yet in this joint witnessing God is the highest, and autov pistov, only to be believed for himself.

Both with signs and wonders; by works above nature’s reach, signifying God’s being in and approving the gospel law, which they attend, Mark 16:17. More numerous and glorious were these than they which confirmed the law, Acts 2:22,43 4:30; such strange works as raised admiration in all that saw them, and are prodigious to those that hear of them, or read them, Romans 15:19.

And with divers miracles; miraculous works, such as are compassed only by a Divine, supernatural power; and variety of these, as healing all diseases, raising the dead, ejecting devils, Mark 16:17,18; works of as great mercy, as wisdom or power.

And gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will; as gifts of tongues, prophecies, &c., Romans 12:6-8; compare 1 Corinthians 12:7-10; such as nature could not furnish any with, but the Redeemer did by his Spirit, commmunicating them to various persons of divers kinds and indifferent degrees. From, by, and for himself he giveth out these wonderful works; his will the only rule for time, persons, manner, and measure of their distribution, allotting all their portion, Romans 12:3 1 Corinthians 7:17 12:4,7,11,18 Eph 4:7. God also bearing them witness,.... The apostles of Christ; God testifying to their mission and commission, and the truth of the doctrine they preached:

both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles; such as taking up serpents without hurt, healing the sick, causing the lame to walk, and raising the dead, and casting out devils, and the like; all which were for the confirmation of the Gospel preached by them: a sign, wonder, or miracle, for these signify the same thing, is a marvellous work done before men, by the power of God, to confirm a divine truth; God is the sole author of miracles; and they were done in the first ages of Christianity, when they were necessary, to give evidence of the truth of it, and to establish men in it; and these were various, as before observed: and gifts of the Holy Ghost; such as besides gifts of healing and working miracles, gifts of foretelling things to come, discerning of spirits, speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, 1 Corinthians 12:8 according to his own will; either according to the will of God, who bore testimony by these miracles and gifts; or according to the will of the Holy Spirit, who distributed them to men severally as he pleased, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

God also bearing them witness, both with {e} signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

(e) This is the true purpose of miracles. Now they are called signs, because they appear as one thing, and represent another: and they are called wonders, because they represent some strange and unaccustomed thing: and powers because they give us a glimpse of God's mighty power.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 2:4. Συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ κ.τ.λ.] in that, with them (the ἀκούσαντες), God bore testimony in addition, to the same (the salvation, the σωτηρία), by signs and wonders. The doubly compound word συνεπιμαρτυρεῖν in the N. T. only here. Nor is it found at all in the LXX. With later profane writers, on the other hand, it is not rare. See examples in Bleek, Abth. II. 1 Hälfte, p. 218.

σημεῖα and τέρατα only distinguished in the form of conception as signa and portenta, not different in the notion conveyed by them. Comp. Fritzsche on Romans 15:19 (t. iii. p. 270).

ποικίλαις] belongs only to δυνάμεσιν. The adjective is not likewise to be referred to μερισμοῖς (Bleek, Maier). For the notion of ποικίλον is again specially brought into prominence in the sequel, in that it forms an element also in the contents of κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν.

The δυνάμεις, however, are not miraculous acts, but the source of the same: miraculous powers.

καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κ.τ.λ.] and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His good pleasure. πνεύματος ἁγίου is genitivus objectiv., not subjectiv. (Cameron and others); and μερισμός, which (Hebrews 4:12) signifies dividing, denotes here, in accordance with the use of the verb μερίζειν, Hebrews 7:2, Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 7:17, 2 Corinthians 10:13 : an apportioning or dealing out, distribution.

κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν] Addition, not to the whole period, Hebrews 2:4 (Abresch, Böhme), nor to ποικίλαιςμερισμοῖς (Bleek), but only to μερισμοῖς (de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz), on which account this is also placed after the genitive πνεύματος ἁγίου. αὐτοῦ relates back to τοῦ θεοῦ, not to πνεύματος ἁγίου (Oecumenius, Carpzov), and the whole addition κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν has the design not only in general of representing the bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit on the part of God as a work of His free grace, but also of pointing to the manifold character of those distributions, inasmuch as, according to God’s free determination of will, the Holy Spirit was communicated in greater fulness to the one than to the other, and of the special gifts of the Spirit to the one was granted this, to the other that. Comp. 1 Corinthians 12.

On the un-Attic θέλησις, comp. Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 7, 353; Pollux, v. 165: βούλησις, ἐπιθυμία, ὄρεξις, ἔρως· ἡ δὲ θέλησις ἰδιωτικόν.4. God also bearing them witness] The original is stronger, “God bearing witness with them;” the supernatural witness coincided with the human.

both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles] “Signs” to shew that there was a power behind their witness; “portents” to awaken the feeling of astonishment, and so arouse interest; and various “powers.” These are alluded to, or recorded, in Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; Acts 19:11. St Paul himself appealed to his own “mighty signs and wonders” (Romans 15:18-19; 1 Corinthians 2:4).

and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will] The word “gifts” means rather “distributions” (Hebrews 4:12, “dividing”), and the words “according to His own will” apply only to this clause—the gifts which the Holy Spirit distributes as He wills (1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Romans 12:3).Hebrews 2:4. Συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος) A double compound. It is the office of Christ to testify, it belongs to God to superadd testimony: and He did so, both when Christ was walking upon the earth, by signs and wonders, and when He was taken up into heaven, by divers miracles, Acts 2:22; Acts 2:33. The whole of that testimony refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Php 2:11. If any one should be inclined to refer the divers miracles also to Christ, whilst He was still upon the earth, I have no objection. The parallelism mentioned in the following note, if I am not mistaken, has led me [to refer the divers miracles to the apostles after the ascension].—ποικίλαις, by various or divers) The parallel is μερισμοῖς, divisions, distributions [Engl. Vers., gifts]; comp. 1 Corinthians 12:11.—κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν, according to His will) most freely, most abundantly, most mercifully, not according to the will (caprice) of them who receive them. Whence it is evident that the gift is quite supernatural, αὐτοῦ, of God Himself. רצק, LXX., θέλησις.Verse 4. - God also bearing them witness; rather, God attesting with them. The word is συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος, a double compound, meaning to attest jointly with others. The idea is that the hearers of "the Lord" testified, and God attested their testimony by the signs that accompanied their ministry. The passage is instructive as expressing the grounds of acceptance of the gospel. Its truth was already "confirmed" to believers by the testimony of unimpeachable witnesses to that which, so attested, carried with it its own evidence. But the signs attending the apostolic ministry were granted for further attestation. Thus "signs and wonders," the craving for which as a condition of belief was so condemned by our Lord, have their true evidential value assigned them. They did not furnish the original basis of belief, which rested on Christ himself, his Person. and his work, as unimpeachably attested. They came in only as suitable accompaniments of a Divine dispensation, and as additional confirmations. The apologists of the last generation were given to rest the evidence of Christianity too exclusively on miracles. The tendency of the present age is to dwell rather on its internal evidence, and, so far as it can be done, to explain away the miracles. They are not to be explained away, having been, as has been said, fitting accompaniments and confirmations of such a dispensation as the gospel was. But to us, as well as to those early believers, they are not the first or main ground of our belief. To us, as re them, Christ and his gospel, testified to as they are by" them that heard," are their own sufficient evidence. Indeed, the cogency of the "signs" in the way of evidence is less now than formerly, since they too have now passed into the category of things that rest on testimony. The evidential counterpart to them in our case is the continued attestation which God gives to the gospel in its living power on the souls of men, and its results in the world before our eyes. It is thus that our faith is strengthened in "the salvation at first spoken through the Lord, and confirmed to us by them that heard." Four expressions are used for the miraculous accompaniments of the first preaching of the gospel, denoting, apparently, not so much different classes of miracles, as different ways of regarding them. They were

(1) signs (σημεῖα), attesting the truth of what was preached;

(2) wonders (τέρατα), something out of the common course of things, arresting attention;

(3) diverse powers (ποικίλαι δυνάμεις), varying manifestations of a Divine power at work;

(4) distributions of the Holy Ghost (Πνευμάτος ἁγίου μερισμοί), gifts of the Spirit to individual Christians apportioned variously - the last expression having especial reference to the χαρίσματα of the apostolic Church, so often alluded to in St. Paul's Epistles. The phrase, with that which follows, according to his own will, is peculiarly Pauline, and confirms the conclusion that the writer, though not necessarily St. Paul himself, was at any rate one of the circle influenced by his teaching. God also bearing them witness (συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ)

The verb N.T.o: σύν along with other witnesses: ἐπὶ giving additional testimony: μαρτυρεῖν to bear witness.

With signs and wonders (σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν)

A very common combination in N.T. See Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48; Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:11, etc. See on Matthew 24:24.

Divers miracles (ποικίλαις δυνάμεσιν)

Rend. powers. No doubt these include miracles, see Acts 2:22; 2 Corinthians 12:12; but powers signifies, not the miraculous manifestations, as signs and wonders, but the miraculous energies of God as displayed in his various forms of witness.

Gifts (μερισμοῖς)

Rend. distributions or impartations.

Of the Holy Ghost

The genitive is objective: distributions of the one gift of the Holy Spirit in different measure and in different ways. Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

According to his will (κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν)

Θέλησις willing: his act of will. N.T.o. Const. with distributions. The Spirit was imparted and distributed as God willed. The hortatory digression ends here. The subject of the Son's superiority to the angels is resumed.

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