Hebrews 6:20
Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Whither the forerunner.—Rather, Whither, as forerunner, Jesus entered for us, having become High Priest after the order of Melchizedek for ever. The Jewish high priest entered the Holiest Place by himself—a representative but not a leader. Jesus has entered the true sanctuary (Hebrews 9:24) that He may give His people entrance there (Hebrews 10:19; John 14:2-3). With this renewed mention of the great high-priestly act (Hebrews 4:14), the writer returns to the words of Scripture on which he was about to dwell (Hebrews 5:10), when the painful thought of the unpreparedness of his readers for higher Christian teaching forced itself upon his mind. In this verse the order of the words taken from the Psalm is changed; in the last words “for ever” is declared with unequalled impressiveness the permanence of our Christian hope.

Hebrews 6:20. Whither the forerunner Προδρομος, a forerunner, is one who goes before to do some service for another who is to follow: in which sense also the Latin word ante-cursor is used. A forerunner uses to be less in dignity than those that are to follow him: but it is not so here; for Christ, who is gone before us, is infinitely superior to us; is for us entered — Namely, for our good. 1st, To prepare a place for us, John 14:2. 2d, To make continual intercession for us. 3d, To make us partakers of his own glory, John 17:24; Revelation 3:21. 4th, To take possession of heaven for us, John 14:3. What an honour is it to believers to have so glorious a forerunner now appearing in the presence of God for them! Made a High-Priest for ever — Christ ascended to heaven, 1st, To open it to us by the sacrifice of himself, and to plant our hope of eternal life there as an anchor of the soul. 2d, Because having opened heaven, he remains there as the High-Priest of that holy place, to introduce all believers into the presence of God. This shows in what sense Jesus is a High-Priest for ever. He is so, not by offering sacrifice for ever in behalf of his people, but by interceding for them always, Romans 8:34; and by introducing them into the presence of God by the merit of the one sacrifice of himself, which he offered to God without spot. 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.Whither - To which most holy place - heaven.

The forerunner - The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. A "forerunner" - πρόδρομος prodromos - is one who goes before others to prepare the way. The word is applied to light troops sent forward as scouts; Diod. Sic. 17, 17; compare "Wisdom of Solomon" (apoc) 12:8. "Thou didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little." The meaning here is, that Jesus went first into the heavenly sanctuary. He led the way. He has gone there on our account, to prepare a place for us; John 14:3. Having such a friend and advocate there, we should be firm in the hope of eternal life, and amidst the storms and tempests around us, we should be calm.

Made an high priest forever - see the notes on Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10. To illustrate this fact, was the object for which this discussion was introduced, and which had been interrupted by the remarks occurring in this chapter on the danger of apostasy. Having warned them of this danger, and exhorted them to go on to make the highest attainments possible in the divine life, the apostle resumes the discussion respecting Melchizedek, and makes the remarks which he intended to make respecting this remarkable man; see Hebrews 5:11.

Remarks

1. We should aim at perfection in order that we may have evidence of piety; Hebrews 6:1. No man can be a Christian who does not do this, or who does not desire to be perfect as God is perfect. No one can be a Christian who is "satisfied" or "contented" to remain in sin; or who would not "prefer" to be made at once as holy as an angel - as the Lord Jesus - as God.

2. We should aim at perfection in order to make great attainments; Hebrews 6:1. No man makes any great advance in anything, who does not set his standard high. Men usually accomplish about what they expect to accomplish, If a man expects to be a quack physician, he becomes such; if he is satisfied to be a fourth-rate lawyer, he becomes such; if he is willing to be an indifferent mechanic, he advances no higher; if he has no intention or expectation of being a firstrate farmer, he will never become one. If he sincerely aims, however, to excel, he usually accomplishes his object. And it is so in religion. If a man does not intend to be an eminent Christian, he may be certain he never will be. Religion is not produced by chance - any more than fine fruit is, or than a good harvest is. One of the principal reasons why President Edwards became so eminent a Christian, was, that in early life he adopted the following resolution, to which he appears always to have adhered, that "on the supposition that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part, and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time." Life, by S. E. Dwight, D. D., p. 72.

3. We should aim to acquire as much "knowledge" of religious truth as we possibly can; Hebrews 6:1-2. True piety is "principle." It is not fancy, or dreaming, or visions, or enthusiasm. It is based on knowledge, and does not go "beyond" that. No man has any more religion than he has "knowledge" of the way of salvation. He cannot force his religion to overstep the bounds of his knowledge; for "ignorance" contributes nothing to devotion. There may be knowledge where there is no piety; but there can be no true religion where there is no knowledge. If, therefore, a Christian wishes to make advances, he must gain a knowledge of the truth. He must understand the great doctrines of his religion. And in like manner, if we wish the next generation to be intelligent and solid Christians, we must train them up to "understand" the Bible.

4. The consequences of the judgment will be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. No truth is more solemn than this. It is this which makes the prospect of the judgment so awful. If the consequences of the sentence were to continue for a few years, or ages, or centuries only, it would be of much less importance. But who can abide the thought of "eternal judgment?" Of an "eternal sentence?" Here the most fearful and solemn sentence is for a short period. The sentence will soon expire; or it is mitigated by the hope of a change. Pain here is brief. Disgrace, and sorrow, and heaviness of heart, and all the woes that man can inflict, soon come to an end. There is an outer limit of suffering, and no severity of a sentence, no ingenuity of man, can prolong it far. The man disgraced, and whose life is a burden, will soon die. On the cheeks of the solitary prisoner, doomed to the dungeon for life, a "mortal paleness" will soon settle down, and the comforts of an approaching release by death may soothe the anguish of his sad heart.

The rack of torture cheats itself of its own purpose, and the exhausted sufferer is released. "The excess (of grief,) makes it soon mortal." But in the world of future woe the sentence will never expire; and death will never come to relieve the sufferer. I may ask, then, of my reader, Are you prepared for the "eternal" sentence? Are you ready to hear a doom pronounced which can never be changed? Would you be willing to have God judge you just as you are, and pronounce such a sentence as ought to be pronounced now, and have the assurance that it would be eternal? You seek worldly honor. Would you be willing to be doomed "always" to seek that? You aspire after wealth. Would you be willing to be doomed to aspire after that "always?" You seek pleasure - in the frivolous and giddy world. Would you be willing to be doomed "always" to seek after that? You have no religion; perhaps desire to have none. Yet would you be willing to be doomed to be always without religion? You are a stranger to the God that made you. Would you be willing to be sentenced to be "always" a stranger to God? You indulge in passion, pride, envy, sensuality. Would you be willing to be sentenced always to the raging of these passions and lusts? How few are they who would be willing to have an "eternal" sentence passed on them, or to be doomed to pursue their present employments, or to cherish their present opinions for ever! How few who would "dare" to meet a sentence which should be in strict accordance with what was "just," and which was never to change!

5. With the righteous it should be matter of rejoicing that the judgment is to be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. They can desire no change of the sentence which will assign them to heaven; and it will be no small part of the joy of the heavenly world, that the results of the judgment will be everlasting. There will be no further trial; no reversing of the sentence; no withdrawing of the crown of glory. The righteous are the only ones who have not reason to dread a "just eternal sentence;" and they will rejoice when the time shall come which will fix their doom forever.

6. We should dread apostasy from the true religion; Hebrews 6:4. We should habitually feel that if we should deny our Lord, and reject his religion, there would be no hope. The die would be cast; and we must then perish for ever. By this solemn consideration God intends to preserve his people, and it is a consideration which has been so effectual that there is not the least reason to suppose that anyone who has ever had any true religion, has fallen away and perished. Many have been "almost" Christians, and have then turned back to perdition Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:23; Acts 26:28, but there is no reason to suppose that any who have been true Christians have thus apostatized and been lost. Yet Christians are not kept without watchfulness; they cannot be kept without the most sincere and constant endeavors to preserve themselves from failing.

7. If the sin of apostasy is so great, then every approach to it is dangerous; and then every sin should be avoided. He that habitually indulges in sin "cannot" be a Christian; and every sin which a sincere Christian commits should be measured by the guilt which "would" exist should it become final, and should he wholly fall away. No man can indulge in sin and be safe; and no professed Christian who finds himself disposed to indulge in sin, should cherish the expectation of reaching heaven; Hebrews 6:4-6.

8. It is a matter of devout gratitude that God "has" kept all his true people from apostasy; Hebrews 6:4-6. If it is true that no one who has been regenerated has ever fallen away; if the means which God has used have been effectual in a world so full of temptations, and when we have hearts so prone to evil; and if it is the intention of God to keep all to eternal salvation who are truly converted, then it should be to us a subject of devout thankfulness and of encouragement. In view of this, we should admire the wisdom of the plan which thus secures salvation; we should look to him with the firm assurance that he "will keep" what we have committed to him to the final day.

9. We should improve the privileges which we enjoy so as to receive a blessing from God; Hebrews 6:7-8. It is desirable that a farm should be well cultivated so as not to be overrun with briars and thorns; desirable that it should produce an abundant harvest, and not exhibit mere barrenness and desolation. Yet, alas, there are many professing Christians who resemble such a field of thorns, and such a scene of desolation. They produce no fruits of righteousness; they do nothing to extend the kingdom of the Redeemer! What can such expect but the "curse" of God? What can the end of such be but to be "burned?"

continued...

20. The absence of the Greek article requires Alford's translation, "Where. As forerunner for us (that is, in our behalf), entered Jesus" [and is now: this last clause is implied in the 'where' of the Greek, which implies being IN a place: 'whither' is understood to 'entered,' taken out of 'where'; whither Jesus entered, and where He is now]. The "for us" implies that it was not for Himself, as God, He needed to enter there, but as our High Priest, representing and introducing us, His followers, opening the way to us, by His intercession with the Father, as the Aaronic high priest entered the Holiest Place once a year to make propitiation for the people. The first-fruits of our nature are ascended, and so the rest is sanctified. Christ's ascension is our promotion: and whither the glory of the Head has preceded, thither the hope of the body, too, is called. We ought to keep festal day, since Christ has taken up and set in the heavens the first-fruit of our lump, that is, the human flesh [Chrysostom]. As John Baptist was Christ's forerunner on earth, so Christ is ours in heaven. Whither the forerunner is for us entered: this heaven is actually possessed for us already by a harbinger, who came at his Father’s word to fit and prepare us for it, and then again returned in our nature, and as our Head and Representative he hath entered, made the way open, and paved the coast for us thither, and made it plain and safe; and having taken real and full possession, is making ready our mansions; and when he hath completed his work in us, will come and take and carry us thither, and put us into the full possession of it in our persons, Hebrews 9:24 John 14:2-4.

Even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec: he describeth the forerunner to be God the Son incarnate, the Saviour of believers, he that will keep them safe for it, and set them safe in it. Their Jesus, who as to his office is the great gospel High Priest, had fulfilled his type, and put an end to it by his entering within the veil into the holy of holiest in heaven, being constituted by his Father a royal High Priest, superior to all other orders and persons, a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, mentioned before, Hebrews 5:10, where the Spirit begun a digression, and having here ended it, repeats the description of it again, as the thing to be immediately handled and pursued, as he doth in the next chapter. Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus,.... Christ was a runner; he had a race to run, which lay in going about to heal diseases, in preaching the Gospel, in obeying the law, and in suffering death for his people; which race was run by him with great swiftness, strength, and courage, with patience, cheerfulness, and joy, and is now ended; as appears from the accomplishment of salvation, from his entrance into heaven, and session at the right hand of God; from the glorification of his human nature, and its everlasting freedom from the dominion of death: and this race is run out, as a "forerunner"; Christ is the most excellent runner; there is none like him; there is none that can come up to him; he has out ran and exceeded all others; he has performed in the best manner; he has run out his race first, and has entered into heaven first by his own blood; and he has cleared the way thither, and opened the gates of heaven for his people; and is a guide and pattern for them to follow: and he is the forerunner for them, as well as entered for them; for he was born, and he lived, and died for them, for their good and service; and he is entered into heaven for them, as man and Mediator, and as their high priest; where he represents their persons, appears and intercedes for them, takes care of their affairs, and presents their services; prepares mansions of glory for them, and takes possession of heaven in their name, and opens the way for them to follow him thither; all which gives great encouragement to hope to enter now, where Jesus is: who is

made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec; see Hebrews 5:6. This is repeated here, to lead on to what the apostle had to say concerning Melchizedek in the following chapter.

{9} Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

(9) He repeats David's words, in which all those comparisons that he mentioned before are signified, as he declares in all the next chapter.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 6:20. Close of the digression made from v. 11 onwards, and apt return to v. 10.

ὅπου] whither. Inexact, as Luke 9:57, John 8:21 f., and often, instead of the ὅποι, which is never used in the N. T. (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 439); yet more significant than the latter, since it contains, in addition to the notion of having entered, the additional notion of remaining.

πρόδρομος] as harbinger. The expression, in the N. T. only here, characterizes Christ as the first member in a series, thus glances at the fact that those who believe in Him shall attain to the Most Holy Place. Comp. John 14:2-3.

ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν] in our interest, or for our eternal welfare, namely, to obtain pardon for us (Hebrews 9:12), to represent us in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24), and to open up for us an entrance into heaven itself (Hebrews 10:19 f.). ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν is to be construed, not with πρόδρομος (Heinrichs, Böhme, Tholuck, Ebrard, and others), but (as already the Peshito) with εἰσῆλθεν.

In that which follows the emphasis rests upon κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ (Böhme, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Hofmann), which on that account is preposed; not upon εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (Bleek, Woerner), which latter, on the contrary, as an additional note of definition is derived only from the κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχις.Hebrews 6:20. The holding-ground of the anchor of hope, the real presence of God, is further described in the words ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς, “whither as forerunner for us entered Jesus”. ὅποι does not occur in N.T. or LXX, ὅπου taking its place, as in English “where” often stands for “whither”; see Matthew 8:19, Luke 9:57, Jam 3:4. So, too, occasionally, in Attic; examples in Bleek. πρόδρομος as an adjective, “running forward with headlong speed,” see Jebb’s note on Soph., Antig., 107; as a substantive “scouts” or “advanced guard” of an army, Herodot., i. 60, and Wis 12:8, ἀπέστειλάς τε προδρόμους τοῦ στρατοπέδου σου σφῆκας. The more general meaning is found in Numbers 13:21, ἡμέραι ἔαρος, πρόδρομοι σταφυλῆς. Isaiah 28:4. The idea may be illustrated by Hebrews 2:10, Colossians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:23. ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν goes better with πρόδρομος—which requires further definition—than with εἰσῆλθεν, although Bleek, Weiss and others prefer to join it to the verb. Ἰησοῦς, the human name is used, because it is as man and having passed through the whole human experience that Jesus ascends as our forerunner. His superiority to the Levitical priest is disclosed in the word πρόδρομος. When the Levitical High Priest passed within the veil he went as the representative, not as the forerunner of the people. Hence indeed the veil. In Christ the veil is abolished. He enters God’s presence as the herald and guarantee of our entrance. The ground of this is given in the concluding clause, κατὰ τὴν τάξιναἰῶνα, “having become [becoming] an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”. Jesus carries our hope with Him to the realities which lie within the veil, because it is as our High Priest who has made atonement for sin that He is now at God’s right hand. By His death He secured for us power to enter, to follow where He has gone before. The participle does not determine the precise point at which He became High Priest, before or contemporaneously with His passing through the veil.20. whither the forerunner is … entered] Lit. “where a forerunner entered … Jesus;” or “where, as a forerunner” (or harbinger) “Jesus entered.”

for us] “on our behalf.” This explains the introduction of the remark. Christ’s Ascension is a pledge that our Hope will be fulfilled. He is gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). His entrance into the region behind the veil proves the reality of the hidden kingdom of glory into which our Hope has cast its anchor (Ahlfeld). This is evidently a prominent thought with the writer (Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 9:24).

made] Rather, “having become,” as the result of His earthly life.

after the order of Melchisedec] By repeating this quotation, as a sort of refrain, the writer once more resumes the allusion of Hebrews 5:10, and brings us face to face with the argument to which he evidently attached extreme importance as the central topic of his epistle. In the dissertation which follows there is nothing which less resembles St Paul’s manner of “going off at a word” (as in Ephesians 5:12-15, &c.) The warning and exhortation which ends at this verse, so far from being “a sudden transition” (or “a digression”) “by which he is carried from the main stream of his argument” belongs essentially to his whole design. The disquisition on Melchisedek—for which he has prepared the way by previous allusions and with the utmost deliberation—is prefaced by the same kind of solemn strain as those which we find in Hebrews 2:1-3, Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:12-14, Hebrews 12:15-17. So far from being “hurried aside by the violence of his feelings” into these appeals, they are strictly subordinated to his immediate design, and enwoven into the plan of the Epistle with consummate skill. “Hurry” and “vehemence” may often describe the intensity and impetuosity of St Paul’s fervent style which was the natural outcome of his impassioned nature; but faultless rhetoric, sustained dignity, perfect smoothness and elaborate eloquence are the very different characteristics of the manner of this writer.

for ever] The words in the Greek come emphatically at the end, and as Dr Kay says strike the keynote of the next chapter (Hebrews 7:3; Hebrews 7:16-17; Hebrews 7:21; Hebrews 7:24-25; Hebrews 7:28).Hebrews 6:20. Πρόδρομος, forerunner) swift. A very significant word: a forerunner has those who follow him. He is elsewhere called the first, the first fruits, the first-begotten.—κατὰ, according to) is put at the beginning of the clause for the sake of emphasis.

—————Whither the forerunner is for us entered (ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ιἐσῆλθεν)

Ὅπου, strictly where, instead of ὄποι whither (not in N.T.), but more significant as indicating an abiding there. Πρόδρομος forerunner, N.T.o. It expresses an entirely new idea, lying completely outside of the Levitical system. The Levitical high priest did not enter the sanctuary as a forerunner, but only as the people's representative. He entered a place into which none might follow him; in the people's stead, and not as their pioneer. The peculiarity of the new economy is that Christ as high priest goes nowhere where his people cannot follow him. He introduces man into full fellowship with God. The A.V. entirely misses this point by rendering "the forerunner," as if the idea of a high priest being a forerunner were perfectly familiar. Rend. whither as a forerunner Jesus entered. Comp. Hebrews 10:19.

Made a high priest (ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος)

Rend. having become a high priest, etc. Become, because his office must be inaugurated by his suffering human life and his death.

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