Hebrews 6:16
For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And an oath for confirmation.—Rather, and of every dispute in their case the oath is an end (is final) to settle the matter.

Hebrews 6:16-17. For men verily swear by the greater — By persons greater than themselves, whose vengeance they imprecate if they swear falsely; and particularly by Him who is infinitely greater than themselves; and an oath for confirmation — To confirm what is promised or asserted; is to them an end of all strife Πασης αντιλογιας περας, usually puts an end to all contradiction. This shows that an oath taken in a religious manner, is lawful, even under the gospel: otherwise the apostle would never have mentioned it with so much honour, as a proper means to confirm the truth. Wherein — In which business of confirming his promise; God, willing more abundantly — Beyond what was absolutely necessary, and out of his superabundant love to and care for us; to show unto the heirs of promise — To Abraham’s spiritual seed, whose faith is counted for righteousness, and who partake of the blessings promised; the immutability of his counsel — Of his purpose, which is accompanied with infinite wisdom; confirmed it — Greek, εμεσιτευσεν, interposed, or came between the making of the promise and its accomplishment. The expression, says Macknight, “literally signifies, he mediatored it with an oath: he made an oath, the mediator, surety, or ratifier of his counsel.” This sense of the word merits attention, because it suggests a fine interpretation of Hebrews 9:15, where see the note. What amazing condescension was this of God! He, who is greatest of all, acts as if he were a middle person; as if, while he swears, he were less than himself, by whom he swears.

6:11-20 The hope here meant, is a sure looking for good things promised, through those promises, with love, desire, and valuing of them. Hope has its degrees, as faith also. The promise of blessedness God has made to believers, is from God's eternal purpose, settled between the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. These promises of God may safely be depended upon; for here we have two things which cannot change, the counsel and the oath of God, in which it is not possible for God to lie; it would be contrary to his nature as well as to his will. And as He cannot lie; the destruction of the unbeliever, and the salvation of the believer, are alike certain. Here observe, those to whom God has given full security of happiness, have a title to the promises by inheritance. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all sinners who flee to the mercy of God, through the redemption of Christ, according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences. We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and stedfast, or it could not keep us so. The free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of this hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Christ is the object and ground of the believer's hope. Let us therefore set our affections on things above, and wait patiently for his appearance, when we shall certainly appear with him in glory.For men verily swear by the greater - That is, they appeal to God. They never swear by one who is inferior to themselves. The object of the apostle in this declaration is to show that as far as this could be done it had been by God. He could not indeed swear by one greater than himself, but he could make his promise as certain as an oath taken by people was when they solemnly appealed to him. He could appeal to his own existence and veracity, which was at any time the most solemn form of an oath, and thus put the mind to rest in regard to the hope of heaven.

And an oath for confirmation - An oath taken to confirm or establish anything.

Is to them an end of all strife - That is, when two parties are at variance, or have a cause at issue, an oath binds them to adhere to the terms of agreement concluded on, or contracting parties bind themselves by a solemn oath to adhere to the conditions of an agreement, and this puts an end to all strife. They rest satisfied when a solemn oath has been taken, and they feel assured that the agreement will be complied with. Or it may refer to cases where a man was accused of wrong before a court, and where he took a solemn oath that the thing had not been done, and his oath was admitted to be sufficient to put an end to the controversy. The general meaning is clear, that in disputes between man and man, an appeal was made to an oath, and that was allowed to settle it. The connection here is, that as far as the case would admit of, the same thing was done by God. His oath by himself made his promise firm.

16. for confirmation—not to be joined, as English Version, to "an oath"; but to "an end" [Alford]. I prefer, "The oath is to them, in respect to confirmation (of one's solemn promise or covenant; as here, God's), an end of all contradiction (so the Greek is translated, Heb 12:3), or "gainsaying." This passage shows: (1) an oath is sanctioned even in the Christian dispensation as lawful; (2) that the limits to its use are, that it only be employed where it can put an end to contradiction in disputes, and for confirmation of a solemn promise. For men verily swear by the greater: for here is only narrative, introducing the amplification of the argument drawn from God’s promise and oath, for the quickening those and all believers to make out after the full assurance of hope, the promise and oath of God concerning them as well as Abraham. That since men’s oaths procure credit, and put an end to doubts, strife, and contradiction amongst them; much more should God’s oath put an end to doubts and gainsayings of creatures, and make them to give faith to him: men are not inventors and authors of this ordinance of swearing, but subject to God’s precept requiring this from them, and in this special part of God’s worship instituted by him, they ought to swear justly and according to his will; and swear they must by God only, who knows the intentions and secrets of the heart, and who is absolutely greater than all; the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and sovereign Lord of all persons, who knows false swearers, and inflicts on them not only temporal but eternal punishments. The swearing by any other, God rebukes, Deu 6:13 Jeremiah 4:2.

And an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife: and in this special part of God’s worship, God is called in as a co-witness of the truth of what is sworn, and as a judge and avenger of it, if it be otherwise: and so the oath becomes a confirmation of faith and confidence of men one in another, and of love accompanying the same; so that if strife, doubt, suspicion, or jealousy arise among them about either words or deeds, which are not known to those who doubt, and cannot be cleared by sense or reason, or any other way but by a testimony of some person who knows them, which being insufficient of itself, he calls in God by an oath as co-witness, with whom it is supposed he would not break his interest, nor invocate him against himself, by declaring what is false: on this all strife and contradiction is to be decided among men, and to cease, and so the controversy to be determined.

For men verily swear by the greater,.... These words contain a reason why God swore by himself, and why his promises, having an oath annexed to them, ought to be believed. Men when they swear, they swear by the greater; not by themselves, as God does, because there is one greater than they; not by any of the creatures on earth, nor by the angels in heaven, but by God; because he is the God of truth, the searcher of hearts, and who can take vengeance on perjurers: and an oath may lawfully be taken, when it is truth that is sworn to, and is just and good; and in cases of weight and moment; and in what is possible and right to perform; and when it is done with deliberation, in the fear of God, with a view to his glory, and the good of men: for an oath is of a moral nature, what God has commanded, and he himself has taken; it has been used by Christ, and by the saints of the Old and New Testament; and is prophesied of the New Testament saints, as what they should practise; and is a part of religious worship:

and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife; it is used to confirm things that are doubtful, and in dispute; and to put an end to strife and contention; so Philo (o) the Jew says,

"by an oath things doubtful are determined, and things uncertain are confirmed, and what were not believed receive credit.''

The manner in which an oath was taken among the Jews, to which, the apostle writing to such, must be thought to have respect, was this;

"he that swore took the book of the law in his hand, and he stood and swore by the name (of God), or by his surnames; and the judges did not suffer anyone to swear but in the holy tongue; and thus he said, behold I swear by the God of Israel, by him whose name is merciful and gracious, that I do not owe this man anything (p).''

The Hebrew word used for an oath, is of the root which signifies to "fill, satiate, satisfy": for an oath being taken about matters in controversy, not clear but doubtful give content unto and satisfy the minds of men; and the same word also signifies "seven", a number of fulness and perfection; an oath being for the perfecting and finishing an affair in debate; agreeably, when covenants were made by oaths, seven witnesses were used, Genesis 21:28 and Herodotus says (q) as Cocceius (r) observes, that the Arabians, when they swore at making covenants, anointed the stones with blood.

(o) De Somniis, p. 567. (p) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, pr. Affirm. 123. (q) Thalia, l. 3. c. 8. (r) Lexic. Rad. col. 848.

For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 6:16. Γάρ] establishes the ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς κ.τ.λ. ὤμοσεν καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, Hebrews 6:13. Not, however, Hebrews 6:16 merely (against Hofmann), but the whole paragraph, Hebrews 6:16-18, is to be looked upon as an establishing of these words. For Hebrews 6:16 is only a lemma, only a preparation for Hebrews 6:17 f.; and, indeed, Hebrews 6:16 states the practice valid among men with regard to the taking of the oath, while Hebrews 6:17 f. there is shown in connection with this the object contemplated by God in His declaration upon oath.

κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος] by the Higher One. μείζονος is not neuter (M‘Caul: “to a thing that is greater, e.g. the temple, the altar;” Hofmann), but masculine, and thereby God is intended.

With καί the second half of the sentence, Hebrews 6:16, is closely attached to the first: “and so,” “and consequently.” To the habitual practice of men just mentioned, the legal relation therefrom arising is joined on.

πάσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὁ ὅρκος] the oath is to them an end to every kind of (every conceivable) contradiction, unto establishment. Comp. Philo, de sacrificiis Abelis et Caini, p. 146 (with Mangey, I. p. 181): Τοῦ τε μὴν πιστευθῆναι χάριν ἀπιστούμενοι καταφεύγουσιν ἐφʼ ὄρκον ἄνθρωποι· ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ λέγων πιστός ἐστιν· ὥστε καὶ τοὺς λόγους αὐτοῦ βεβαιότητος ἕνεκα μηδὶν ὅρκων διαφέρειν.… Οὐ γὰρ διʼ ὅρκον πιστὸς ὁ θεός, ἀλλὰ διʼ αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ ὅρκος βέβαιος.

For ἀντιλογία as “contradiction” (Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Woerner), comp. Hebrews 7:7, also Hebrews 12:3; Judges 1:11. The signification “dispute,” “litigation,” assumed by Theophylact, Erasmus, Zeger, Cameron, Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Heinrichs, Böhme, Stengel, and the majority, is certainly perfectly warranted by the usage alike of the classical writers (Xen. Hellen. 6:3. 9) as of the LXX. (Exodus 18:6, Heb. דָּבָר; Deuteronomy 19:7, הָרִיב; Proverbs 18:18, מִדְיָנִים, al.). But here this meaning is remote from the connection, since Hebrews 6:16 serves for the explanation of the trustworthiness of a divine declaration, but not the explanation of a contention between God and men (Bleek). The meaning “dubitatio,” “doubt,” assigned to the word by Grotius and Cramer, it never has.

εἰς βεβαίωσιν] unto ratification, or the creation of an indefeasible claim. Wrongly do Jac. Cappellus, Peirce, Paulus, and others take eh εἰς βεβαίωσιν—which belongs to the whole second clause, not merely to πέρας (Böhme, Bleek, Bisping, Alford)—along with ὁ ὅρκος: “the oath given in confirmation,” which must have been expressed by ὁ εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὅρκος.

It results as a necessary inference from Hebrews 6:16, that the author did not regard the taking of the oath on the part of men as anything forbidden. Comp. Calvin: Praeterea hic locus docet aliquem inter Christianos jurisjurandi usum esse ligitimum.… Nam apostolus certe hic de ratione jurandi tanquam de re pia et Deo probata disserit. Porro non dicit olim fuisse in usu, sed adhuc vigere pronuntiat.

Hebrews 6:16-20. Not without design did the author, in connection with the historic fact, Hebrews 6:13-15, make mention also of the divine oath, although the mention thereof in that place was not necessarily required by the relation to Hebrews 6:12. His object, namely, was further to bring into special prominence the practical advantage accruing to the readers from this circumstance. This he accomplishes Hebrews 6:16-20. For, since the promise imparted to Abraham, in so far as it respected the blessing of all nations by means of his seed, could receive its fulfilment only in conditioning connection with Christ, the Saviour of all believers, the Christians are thus the heirs of the Abrahamic covenant; so also by the oath of God there is guaranteed to them, no less than to Abraham, an indefeasible claim to the object of promise. To hold fast to the Christian hope, objectively assured and undisappointing as this is, the Christians therefore must feel themselves most powerfully animated.

Hebrews 6:16. ἄνθρωποι γὰρ, κ.τ.λ. “For men swear by the greater.” The procedure of God in confirming His promise by an oath is justified by human custom, and the confident hope which God’s oath warrants is justified by the fact that even a human oath ends debate. ἄνθρωποι refers back to ὁ Θεός of Hebrews 6:13 and forward to Hebrews 6:17. τοῦ μείζονος, him who is greater than the persons taking the oath, the idea of an oath being that a higher authority is appealed to, one of inviolable truth and power to enforce it. καὶ πάσης αὐτοῖς … “and of all gainsaying among them an oath is an end for confirmation”. “The oath has two results negative and positive; it finally stops all contradiction; and it establishes that which it attests” (Westcott). On βεβαίωσις as a technical term, see Deissmann, Bibl. Studies, p. 104. ἀντιλογία is rendered by “strife” in A.V., and by “dispute” in R.V.; and this meaning is found in Exodus 18:16; Deuteronomy 19:17 οἱ δύο ἄνθρωποι οἶς ἐστιν αὐτοῖς ἡ ἀντιλογία. But in the other instances of its use in N.T., Hebrews 7:7; Hebrews 12:3; Judges 1:11, it has the meaning of “contradiction” or “gainsaying”. So also in Polybius xxviii. 7, 4: πρὸς δὲ τὴν ἀντιλογίαν ἀνίσταντο πολλοί. It is this sense which suits the context here, as it is not a strife between God and man which is in question. Besides, εἰς βεβαίωσιν is more congruous with this meaning. The meaning is that when one man disputes the assertion of another, an oath puts an end to the contradiction and serves for confirmation. So Davidson, Westcott, Weiss, etc. πάσης is added not to indicate the universal deference paid to the oath (Bleek), but the completeness of its effect; no room is left for contradiction. ὁ ὅρκος the generic article, best translated “an oath”. f1πέρας an end or limit, as in Psalm 119:96, πάσης συντελείας εἶδον πέρας; and Psalm 145:3 τῆς μεγαλωσύνης αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστι πέρας. εἰς βεβαίωσιν almost in the technical sense of a guarantee. See Deissmann’s interesting treatment of the word in Bibelstud., pp. 100–104. On the verse Calvin remarks: “hic locus docet aliquem inter Christianos jurisjurandi usum esse legitimum. Quod observandum est contra homines fanaticos qui regulam sancte jurandi, quam Deus lege sua praescripsit, libenter abrogarent.”

16. men verily swear by the greater] Genesis 21:23; Genesis 24:3; Genesis 26:30-31. The passage is important as shewing the lawfulness of Christian oaths (see our Article xxxix).

strife] Rather, “for an oath is to them an end of all gainsaying” (or “controversy” as to facts) “with a view to confirmation.” It is meant that when men swear in confirmation of a disputed point their word is believed. There is an exactly similar passage in Philo, De sacr. Abel. et Cain (Opp. i. 181).

Hebrews 6:16. Κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος, by the greater) generally by GOD Himself.—καὶ, and) and so, on account of the authority of the greater, which is appealed to.—ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν, an end of contradiction, or strife, unto confirmation) by which a controversy is terminated in the confirmation of the point in dispute, beyond all exception: Proverbs 28:18, מדינים, ἀντιλογίας παὐει κλῆρος.—ὁ ὅρκος, the oath) The last resource, which we ought not to use, so long as any other method of removing strife remains.

Verses 16-20. - For men swear by the greater: and of every dispute of theirs (literally, to them), the oath is final (literally, an end) for confirmation (εἰς βεβαίωσιν being connected with πέρας, not, as in the A.V., with ὅρκος). Here begins the explanation of the meaning and purpose of the Divine oath, already cursorily touched on in ver. 13. God thus, for full assurance, condescends to the form of confirmation most binding among men when they promise to each other. They appeal to one greater than themselves to intervene between them. He, having no one greater than himself to appeal to, appeals (so to speak) to his own immutability, and thus may be said to intervene with an oath (ἐμεσίτευσεν ὄρκῳ ever. 17), the verb being neuter, with the sense of "mediate" or "intervene," not, as in A.V., "confirmed it". The reason is not that the Divine promise is not in itself enough, but that God, willing to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, is pleased to grant them this additional confirmation; that by two immutable things (first the promise, in itself sufficient; and secondly the oath, for more abundant assurance), in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong consolation (παράκληησιν, bearing elsewhere this sense, and also that of exhortation, as in Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 13:22; which latter sense is understood here by most commentators as uniting best the drift of the passage with the general notion of encouragement) who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. The course of thought has now passed again from Abraham to Christians, the transition having been prepared for by the general expression, τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας in ver. 17. Indeed, the oath to him was an assurance to us also, we being the final inheritors of the promised blessing. Then finally, in the two concluding verses, the subject to be treated in Hebrews 7. is again beautifully led up to by a natural sequence of thought: Which (so. hope) we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into that which is within the veil; whither as a Forerunner Jesus entered for us, become a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Our hope (ἐλπίς), regarded in ver. 18 objectively, assumes here a subjective sense: it is our anchor east upwards beyond the heavens through which our Forerunner has passed (cf. Hebrews 4:14, διελελυθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς), and, in virtue of the promise and the oath, fixed there secure and firm. "That which is within the veil" (καταπετάσματος, the word invariably denoting the veil in the temple, is the heavenly holy of holies, of which the earthly was symbolical, as is fully set forth in Hebrews 8. This first mention of the veil is an instance of the manner in which, throughout this Epistle, ideas to be afterwards expanded are often intimated by way of preparation beforehand. Instructive in this chapter is the view presented of Divine purpose in relation to human will. The Divine purpose may have been evinced by supplies of grace so abundant as to remove all doubt of the possibility of success; yet through the human will there may be failure: the very Divine oath may have ensured fulfillment of the promise; yet, as to Abraham, so to individual Christians, faith and patience are the conditions of fulfillment. It is evident that the Divine purpose and the Divine promise are all along referred to, not to dishearten any for fear that they may not be included in them, not to encourage remissness in any on the ground of certainty of attainment, not so as to suggest any idea of arbitrary selection irrespective of desert, but simply to incite to perseverance on the ground of assurance of success, if the human conditions are fulfilled. And this is the practical application of the doctrine of predestination found also elsewhere in St. Paul's Epistles (cf. Romans 8:28-39). Predestination and free-will may be to human reason theoretically irreconcilable, though reason, as well as theology, may compel us to acknowledge both. The problem may properly be left unsolved, as among the many deep things of God. But it is of importance to observe how the doctrine of-predestination is practically applied in Scripture as bearing upon human conduct.



Hebrews 6:16And an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife (καὶ πἁσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίασπέρας εἰς βεβαίων ὁ ὅρκος)

For "an oath," rend. "the oath": generic. Const. for confirmation with end. "The oath is final for confirmation." Πέρας is the outermost point; the point beyond which one cannot go. With this exception always in N.T. in the plural, of the ends of the earth. See Matthew 12:42; Romans 10:18. So often in lxx. Ἀντιλογία, strictly contradiction, only in Hebrews and Jde 1:11, on which see note.

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