Hebrews 6:17
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
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(17) Wherein.—Since this is the case.

Of promise.—Rather, of the promise. The promise made to Abraham was substantially and really (see Hebrews 6:13) that which embraced all Messianic hope; of this promise not Abraham’s sons only, but all “they which are of faith” (Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:29), Abraham’s spiritual seed, are the heirs. In an Epistle so distinctly Pauline there can be no doubt as to this interpretation.

Confirmed it by an oath.—Literally, mediated with an oath. When a man confirms a promise or declaration to another by solemn appeal to God, between the two God is Mediator. Condescending to man’s weakness, that the certainty may be “more abundant,” God. thus confirms His word, at once the Promiser and the Mediator: God the Promiser (if we may so speak) makes appeal to God the Hearer and Witness of the oath. We cannot doubt, as we read this whole passage, that there is a special reason for the emphasis thus laid on God’s oath to Abraham. The writer dwells on this confirmation of the divine word of promise, not merely because it is the first recorded in sacred history, but because he has in thought the declaration of Psalm 110:4. To this as yet he makes no reference; though he has quoted from the verse repeatedly, it has been without mention of the divine oath: but throughout the section before us he is preparing the way for his later argument in Hebrews 7:21.

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.Wherein God - On account of which; or since an oath had this effect, God was willing to appeal to it in order to assure his people of salvation.

Willing more abundantly - In the most abundant manner, or to make the case as sure as possible. It does not mean more abundantly than in the case of Abraham, but that he was willing to give the most ample assurance possible. Coverdale renders it correctly, "very abundantly."

The heirs of promise - The heirs to whom the promise of life pertained; that is, all who were interested in the promises made to Abraham - thus embracing the heirs of salvation now.

The immutability of his counsel - His fixed purpose. He meant to show in the most solemn manner that his purpose would not change. The plans of God never change; and all the hope which we can have of heaven is founded on the fact that his purpose is immutable. If he changed his plans; if he was controlled by caprice; if he willed one thing today and another thing tomorrow, who could confide in him, or who would have any hope of heaven? No one would know what to expect; and no one could put confidence in him. The farmer plows and sows because he believes that the laws of nature are settled and fixed; the mariner ventures into unknown seas because the needle points in one direction; we plant an apple tree because we believe it will produce apples, a peach because it will produce peaches, a pear because it will produce a pear. But suppose there were no settled laws, that all was governed by caprice; who would know what to plant? Who then would plant anything? So in religion. If there were nothing fixed and settled, who would know what to do? If God should change his plans by caprice, and save one man by faith today and condemn another for the same faith tomorrow; or if he should pardon a man today and withdraw the pardon tomorrow, what security could we have of salvation? How grateful, therefore, should we be that God has an "immutable counsel," and that this is confirmed by a solemn oath! No one could honor a God that had not such an immutability of purpose; and all the hope which man can have of heaven is in the fact that He is unchanging.

Confirmed it by an oath - Margin, "Interposed himself." Tyndale and Coverdale, "added an oath." The Greek is, "interposed with an oath" - ἐμεσιτεύσεν ὅρκῳ emesiteusen horkō. The word used here - μεσιτεύω mesiteuō - means to mediate or intercede for one; and then to intervene or interpose. The meaning here is, "that he interposed an oath" between himself and the other party by way of a confirmation or pledge.

17. Wherein—that is, Which being the case among men, God, in accommodation to their manner of confirming covenants, superadded to His sure word His oath: the "TWO immutable things" (Heb 6:18).

willing … counsel—Greek, "willing … will"; words akin. Expressing the utmost benignity [Bengel].

more abundantly—than had He not sworn. His word would have been amply enough; but, to make assurance doubly sure, He "interposed with an oath" (so the Greek). Literally, He acted as Mediator, coming between Himself and us; as if He were less, while He swears, than Himself by whom He swears (for the less among men usually swear by the greater). Dost thou not yet believe, thou that hearest the promise? [Bengel].

heirs of promise—not only Abraham's literal, but also his spiritual, seed (Ga 3:29).

The apostle having stated the nature of an oath in the antecedent, subjoins and applies it in a consequent, in which he shows that God sware to this end, that his own counsel might appear to be immutable, and the consolation of believers greater.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show; En w, in which matter or case, viz. God’s act of promise and oath to Abraham, it was not limited to his person, but to all his believing seed, Romans 4:23,24. Out of his own mere grace and free-will, his goodness and affection to them, without any consideration in them moving him; but his free, unexpected, as undeserved mercy, did first reveal, then promise, then swear. What more could he do? How liberal and abundant is his love in these overflowing discoveries of it! So to reveal and make known his gracious thoughts, making them manifest, perspicuous, and glorious, when none was privy to them, nor could reveal them, but himself.

Unto the heirs of promise; the seed of Abraham’s faith, all true believers, whom God had made children and heirs by promise, as Isaac, Galatians 3:22,26,29 4:26-28; joint-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. These alone did God intend to secure, and make certain of their salvation.

The immutability of his counsel: God’s unchangeableness in his will and decree, as in himself, excludes all hesitation, alteration, or transposition of what it was from eternity; God did never, will never, change one iota or tittle of his eternal will and decree of saving, perfecting, and gathering into one penitent believers, by the promised Seed Jesus Christ; which he did reveal to the world, and without which manifestation a believer could have no comfort, and without its immutability, not any lasting and permanent comfort.

Confirmed it by an oath: emesiteusen is proper for a mediator, one who cometh in between two parties as a surety; and so is justly applicable to God the Son, who interposeth between God the Father promising, and believers to whom the promise is made as heirs, as a Surety engaging to see his Father’s promise made good to his seed; and therefore confirms it to them with an oath, that they might know the promise was immutable, and should be punctually fulfilled; by which means he removes all doubts, fears, and jealousies about it from them. If they will believe men who swear, how much more ought they to do so, and rest satisfied, with the oath of the Mediator!

Wherein God, willing,.... Or "wherefore", as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it; that is, whereas an oath is used among men to confirm anything that might be doubted; therefore God, in condescension to the weakness of men, made use of one; being very desirous and determined,

more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel; by which is meant, not the Gospel nor the ordinances of it, though these are sometimes called the counsel of God; but the decree of God, concerning the salvation of his people by Jesus Christ, which is immutable; as appears from the unchangeableness of his nature, the sovereignty of his will, the unsearchableness of his wisdom, the omnipotence of his arm, and the unconditionality of the thing decreed, and from that and the purpose of it being in Christ: and the immutability of this, God was willing to show "more abundantly" than in other purposes, though all God's purposes are unchangeable; or than had been shown to the Old Testament saints; and more than was necessary, had it not been for man's weakness: even to "the heirs of promise"; not any earthly temporal promise, but the promise of grace and glory; the promise of eternal life; the heirs of which are not only Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or God's elect among the Jews, but all that are Christ's; who are justified by his righteousness, believe in him, and are the children of God; for as many as are such are heirs of eternal glory, and of the promise of it: and that the unchangeableness of God's purpose in saving them by Christ might be manifest to them, and be out of all doubt, he "confirmed it by an oath"; his counsel and purpose; he not only determined in his mind that he would save them, and promised it in his covenant; but he also, to confirm it the more to the persons concerned in it, if possible, annexed his oath to it; or "he interposed or acted the part of a Mediator by an oath"; which some refer to Christ's mediation between God and Abraham, when he swore unto him, as before observed; but rather it expresses the interposition of the oath between God's purpose and promise, and man's weakness: God did as it were bind himself by his oath, or lay himself under obligation, or become a surety, for the fulfilment of his purpose and promise; which shows the super-abounding grace of God, the weakness of man, and what reason the heirs of promise have to believe.

Wherein God, willing more {f} abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

(f) More than was needed, were it not for the wickedness of men who do not believe God, even though he swears.

Hebrews 6:17. Ἐν ᾧ] Upon the basis of which fact, i.e. in accordance with this human custom, as one valid among men. ἐν ᾧ, namely, refers back to the whole contents of Hebrews 6:16 (not merely to ὁ ὅρκος), and coheres not with βουλόμενος ἐπιδεῖξαι (Seb. Schmidt, Braun, Rambach, Hofmann, al.), nor yet with the whole clause following (Delitzsch, Alford), but with ἐμεσίτευσεν ὄρκῳ.

περισσότερον] is to be taken along with ἐπιδεῖξαι. It does not, however, signify unto redundancy, since this was not at all required (Beza, Schlichting, Seb. Schmidt, Carpzov, Storr, Klee, and others), but: so much the more, or: more emphatically, than would have been done by the mere imparting of the promise.

τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας] to the heirs of the promise. By the κληρονόμοι, Grotius, Owen, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others understand the patriarchs as well as all believers; Tholuck and others, only the Old Testament saints; Morus even (notwithstanding the plural), only Abraham; Calvin, the Jews. But, as is clearly apparent from the elucidatory ἵνα ἔχωμεν, Hebrews 6:18, only the Christians can be meant.

τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ] the unalterableness of His decree, namely, to make all believers blessed through the seed of Abraham. Arbitrarily, because to the violent setting aside of the nearest circle of thought furnished by the context itself, Abresch (and similarly Michaelis, Storr, and Delitzsch): “crediderim, non juratam eam promissionem spectari, quam Abrahamo factam in superioribus dixerat, sed illud nominatim jusjurandum, quo Christus sit pontifex creatus ad Melchisedeci rationem” (Psalm 110:4). Neither Hebrews 6:20, nor Hebrews 7:1 ff., nor Hebrews 7:20-21; Hebrews 7:28, nor Hebrews 5:10, contains a justification of this view.

The substantively employed adjective brings out the idea of the unchangeableness, about the accentuation of which the author was here principally concerned, more emphatically than if τὴν βουλὴν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἀμετάθετον had been written.

ἀμετάθετος in the N. T. only here and at Hebrews 6:18.

ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ] He came forward, as an intervening person, with an oath. As an intermediate person, sc. between Himself and Abraham. Men swear by God, because He is higher than they. Thus, in the case of an oath among men, God is the higher middle person [so μεσίτης, Josephus, Antiq. iv. 6. 7], or the higher surety, for the fulfilment of the promise. But when God takes an oath He can only swear by Himself, since there is no higher one above Him, and thus only Himself undertakes the part of the surety or middle person. μεσιτεύειν, in the N. T. only here, is employed transitively and intransitively; in the latter sense here. It is taken transitively by Oecumenius, who supplements τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν; and Böhme, who supplements τὴν βουλήν.

Hebrews 6:17. ἐν ᾧ περισσότερον.… “Wherefore God, being minded more abundantly to demonstrate to the heirs of the promise the immutability of His purpose, interposed with an oath.” ἐν ᾧ = διὸ (Theoph.), and see Winer, 484. It might be rendered “quae cum ita sint,” or “this being so”. The oath having among men this convincing power, God disregards the insult implied in any doubt of His word and condescending to human infirmity confirms His promise by an oath. περισσότερον neuter adjective for adverb (Hebrews 2:1) is to be construed with ἐπιδεῖξαι, the meaning of the comparative being “abundantius quam s ne juramento factum videretur” (Bengel). Carpzov renders by “ex abundanti,” and cites Philo, De Abrahamo c. 46 where the word of God is said to become an oath, ἕνεκα τοῦ τὴν διάνοιαν ἀκλινῶς καὶ παγίως ἔτι μᾶλλον ἢ πρότερον ἐρηρεῖσθαι. τοῖς κληρονόμοις, not exclusively the O.T. nor exclusively the N.T. heirs, neither Jews nor Gentiles, but all; see Hebrews 9:3, and Galatians 3:29. τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ, the unchangeable character of His purpose. [ἀμετάθ. 3Ma 5:1; 3Ma 5:12; Polybius with ἐπιβολή, ὁρμή, διάληψις. For use of adjective see Romans 2:4; Romans 8:3; 1 Corinthians 1:25, etc. Winer, p. 294.] ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ, μεσιτεύω, belonging to later Greek, “to act as mediator,” but sometimes used transitively “to negotiate,” as in Polybius Hebrews 11:34; Hebrews 11:3. Other examples in Bleek. Here, however, it is used intransitively as in Josephus, Ant., vii. 8, 5. So the margin of A.V. “interposed himself by an oath,” improved in R.V. “interposed with an oath”. Cf. Josephus Ant., iv. 6, 7; ταῦτα δὲ ὀμνύοντες ἔλεγον καὶ θεὸν μεσίτην ὧν ὑπισχνοῦντο ποιούμενοι. “God descended, as it were, from His own absolute exaltation, in order, so to speak, to look up to Himself after the manner of men and take Himself to witness; and so by a gracious condescension confirm the promise for the sake of its inheritors” (Delitzsch). “He brought in Himself as surety, He mediated or came in between men and Himself, through the oath by Himself” (Davidson).

17. Wherein] Rather, “on which principle;” “in accordance with this human custom.”

willing] Rather, “wishing.” The verb is not thelôn, but boulomenos.

more abundantly] i.e. than if he had not sworn.

unto the heirs of promise] Rather, of the promise.” The heirs of the promise were primarily Abraham and his seed, and then all Christians (Galatians 3:29).

the immutability of his counsel] “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). See too Isaiah 46:10-11; Psalm 33:11; James 1:17.) His changeless “decree” was that in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the world should be blessed. On the other hand the Mosaic law was mutable (Hebrews 7:12, Hebrews 12:27).

confirmed it by an oath] Rather, “intervened with an oath,” i.e. made His oath intermediate between Himself and Abraham. Philo, with his usual subtle refinements, observes that whereas our word is accredited because of an oath, God’s oath derives its credit because He is God. On the other hand, Rabbi Eleazer (in the second century) said “the word Not has the force of an oath,” which he deduced from a comparison of Genesis 9:11 with Isaiah 54:9; and therefore a fortiori the word “yes” has the force of an oath (Shevuoth. f. 36. 1). The word “intervened,” “mediated” (emesiteusen) occurs here only in the N.T.

Hebrews 6:17. Ἐν ᾧ, in which) in which case.—περισσότερον) more abundantly than it might seem to have been done, had it been without an oath.—βουλόμενοςτῆς βουλῆς) are conjugates. The utmost benignity is here expressed.—ἐμεσίτευσεν) He came down into the midst of us: GOD [who might require of us to have the greatest faith in His mere word.—V. g.] drawing nearer to us with wonderful condescension by an oath, although He is the greatest, as it were acts as a Mediator, and comes in between Himself and us; as if He were less, while He swears, than Himself by whom He swears. Dost thou not yet believe, thou that nearest the promise?

Hebrews 6:17Wherein (ἐν ᾧ)

Referring to the whole previous clause. In accordance with this universal human custom.

Willing (βουλόμενος)

Rend. being minded. See on Matthew 1:19.

The immutability (τὸ ἀμετάθετον)

The adjective used substantively. Only here and Hebrews 6:18.

Confirmed (ἐμεσίτευσεν)

Rend. interposed or mediated. Comp. μεσίτης mediator. From μέσος midst. Placed himself between himself and the heritors of the promise.

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