By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)By so much was Jesus made.—Better, by so much also hath Jesus become surety of a better covenant. The form of the sentence recalls Hebrews 1:4. As the priest whose appointment is confirmed by the oath of God is raised above all former priests, in the same proportion is the covenant of which Jesus is surety higher, better, than the former covenant. For the “better hope” of Hebrews 7:19 we now read “better covenant”; the new idea is not different in substance, but is more definite and clear. The very promise of the “other priest” brought with it a “better hope”; the recollection of the divine oath is fitly succeeded by the mention of a “covenant.”
This is the first occurrence in this Epistle of a very interesting word (diathēkē) which hereafter will occupy an important place in the argument. Throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament it is used to represent a Hebrew word which is (more than 200 times) rightly rendered covenant in our version; and, like the Hebrew word, it is applied both to mutual agreements between man and man, and to “covenants” or engagements into which God enters in regard to man. In classical writers diathēkē commonly denotes a testament; and hence in the old Latin translation of the Scriptures testamentum became the common rendering of the word. As, however, this rendering is very often found where it is impossible to think of such a meaning as will (for example, in Psalm 83:5, where no one will suppose the Psalmist to say that the enemies of God “have arranged a testament against Him”), it is plain that the Latin testamentum was used with an extended meaning, answering to the wide application of the Greek word. St. Paul’s designation of the Jewish Scriptures as “the Old Covenant” (2Corinthians 3:14) thus became familiarly known as The Old Testament. In the New Testament the Authorised version more commonly presents the better rendering; but, through the influence of the Latin, testament is retained in several places—viz., in the various accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper; in 2Corinthians 3:6; 2Corinthians 3:14; in Revelation 11:19 (“the ark of His testament,” a very strange translation); in the present verse; and especially in the very important passage, Hebrews 9:15-20. There is a very general agreement of opinion that “covenant” must be the true meaning in all passages of the New Testament except the one last mentioned; and even in that place there are strong reasons for retaining the same rendering. (See the Note on Hebrews 9:15.) In this verse, at all events, we cannot doubt that the writer is thinking of a covenant. (See Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 8:8.) Here only is Jesus spoken of as Surety, elsewhere as Mediator (Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24). As through the Son of Man the covenant becomes established, so in Him it remains secure; the words addressed by God to Him as Priest and King contain the pledge of its validity and permanence.
Was Jesus made a surety - The word "surety" - ἐγγυος enguos - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament nor is it found in the Septuagint. It properly means, a bondsman; one who pledges his name, property, or influence, that a certain thing shall be done. When a contract is made, debt contracted, or a note given, a friend often becomes the "security" in the case, and is himself responsible if the terms of the contract are not complied with. In the case of the new covenant between God and man, Jesus is the "security" or the bondsman. But of what, and to whom, is he the surety? It cannot be that he is a bondsman for God that he will maintain the covenant, and be true to the promise which he makes, as Crellius supposes, for we need no such "security" of the divine faithfulness and veracity. It cannot be that he becomes responsible for the divine conduct in any way - for no such responsibility is needed or possible.
But it must mean that he is the security or bondsman on the part of man. He is the pledge that we shall be saved. He becomes responsible, so to speak, to law and justice, that no injury shall be done by our salvation, though we are sinners. He is not a security that we shall be saved at any rate, without holiness, repentance, faith, or true religion - for he never could enter into a suretyship of that kind: but his suretyship extends to this point, that the law shall be honored; that all its demands shall be met; that we may be saved though we have violated it, and that its terrific penalty shall not fall upon us. The case is this. A sinner becomes a true penitent and enters heaven. It might be said that he does this over a broken law; that God treats the good and bad alike, and that no respect has been paid to the law or the penalty in his salvation. Here the Great Surety comes in, and says that it is not so.
He has become responsible for this; he the surety, the pledge, that all proper honor shall be paid to justice, and that the same good effects shall ensue as if the penalty of the law had been fully borne. He himself has died to honor the law, and to open a way by which its penalty may be fully remitted consistently with justice, and he becomes "the everlasting pledge or security" to law, to justice, to the universe, that no injury shall result from the pardon and salvation of the sinner. According to this view, no man can rely on the suretyship of Jesus but he who expects salvation on the terms of the gospel. The suretyship is not at all that he shall be saved in his sins, or that he shall enter heaven no matter what life he leads; it is only that if he believes, repents, and is saved, no injury shall be done to the universe; no dishonor to the law. For this the Lord Jesus is responsible.
Of a better testament - Rather, "of a better covenant." The former covenant was what God made with his people under the Mosaic dispensation; the new covenant is that made by means of Christ. This is "better" because:
(1) the terms are more simple and easy;
(2) the observances and rites are much less onerous and hard;
(3) it relates to all people, not being confined to the Jewish people;
(4) it is now sure. The former was administered through the instrumentality of the Levitical priesthood, this by the Son of God; that was transitory and changing, this is permanent and eternal.
(The word rendered "Surety," is εγγυος enguos. It occurs indeed here only in the New Testament, nor is it found in the Septuagint, i, e. the very word is not. Yet its derivatives occur there, and bear the sense that is ordinarily, and everywhere expressed by suretyship, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26, and other places. The word itself, too, is found in the Apocrypha Ecclesiasticus 29:15; 2 Macc. 10:28, on which last passage a recent and distinguished writer observes, "we find the word (here) conveying the idea of a covenant engagement, and that too on the part of the Most High. When the Jews joined battle with Timotheus, they are said to have had the Great God for their εγγυος enguos, assuring them of victory. They had prostrated themselves before the altar; they had spread ashes upon their heads, and covered themselves with sackcloth; they had poured out their hearts in prayer, pleading with the Most High, and putting him in mind of his promise - the promise in which he had said that he would be an enemy to their enemies - then seizing their arms and advancing to meet Timotheus, they rushed into the fight, we are told, εγγυον εχοντες ευημεριας και νικης enguon echontes euēmerias kai nikēs." Indeed, about the meaning of the word, and the accuracy of our English translation, there can be no doubt. Critics who are very far from admitting the doctrine of Christ's suretyship in the covenant of redemption, have freely admitted this. "See Peirce on the place."
What then is the sense of the word here? Applied to Christ will it bear its ordinary sense or not? Is he a surety in a sense analogous to that in which people are sureties? Hesitating to answer these questions in the affirmative, a host of commentators, following the Greeks, have observed, that εγγυος enguos is substituted for, and equivalent to, μεσιτης mesitēs, occurring at Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24. But because Christ is called, in these places, the μεσιτης mesitēs or mediator of the covenant, it does not follow that εγγυος enguos here has "precisely" the same sense. Or, if so, how shall we account for the introduction of this singular word at all? Why was not μεσιτης mesitēs employed here, as, in other places, in the Epistle? This has, indeed been accounted for by observing, that as the apostle, in the Hebrews 7:19, had used the word εγγιζομεν engizomen, we draw near, he employed εγγυος enguos in the Hebrews 7:22, for the sake of the "paronomasia," to which figure he is alleged to have been much attached. But in whatever way the apostle may have been led to the use of the word (and the above account is probable enough), he never would have used it, in a sense altogether different from what ordinarily is attached to it, out of fondness for any figure whatever. "A surety has to pay what they owe, for whom he is engaged; to do, what is to be done by them, which they cannot perform. 'And if this be not the notion of a surety in this place, the apostle makes use of a word, nowhere else used in the whole scripture, to teach us what it doth never signify among people, which is improbable and absurd.' For the sole reason why he did make use of it was, that from the nature and notion of it among people, in other cases, we may understand the signification of it, and what, under that name, he ascribes unto the Lord Jesus" - Owen.
Having thus proved that εγγυος enguos is properly translated "surety," and that Christ is so styled, in a sense not widely different from what is usually attached to the word - let us next inquire, how Christ discharges this suretyship, or what he does in his capacity of surety? Is he surety to us for God? This last question, by orthodox writers, is for the most part, answered in the negative on the ground that there can be no need of security for God, his promise and his oath being sufficient guarantee that he will fulfil his engagement; on the ground also, that a surety must be some one greater than the party for whom he engages, which, in the case of God, renders the thing impossible, since there is none greater than Heb. Thus, Dr. Owen has argued at great length, and is followed by Guyse, Boston, and many others. Yet there are not wanting writers of great reputation for learning and orthodoxy, who scruple not to say that Christ is surety "for God;" (see Mr. Scott on this place).
He undertook, on the part of the Father. that all the promises should be made good to the seed. He acts in the behalf of God toward us, and assures us of the divine favor. "If it be asked, what need was there of a Mediator to assure us of the fulfillment of the promises made by the God of truth, who cannot lie or deceive us, I answer, the same objection might be made against God's adding his oath to his promise, whereby he intended to give us the greater security of accomplishment? - Pierce. The exclusion of this idea from the suretyship of Christ, on the part of so many divines, doubtless arose from the improper use made of it by Socinians, who unwilling to admit that Christ had become bound for our debt of suffering and obedience, and, in this sense, was surety "for us," resolved the suretyship into a mere engagement "in behalf of God." They could not allow more, without allowing the atonement.
While, however, we see no necessity for discarding this idea, because it has been used for bad purposes, we maintain, that this is neither all, nor even the principal part, of the suretyship of Christ. Revert to the original notion of a surety. He is one who engages, in behalf of another, to pay a debt or discharge a duty, which that other may fail to pay or discharge. Christ engaged to stand in that relation toward us, and therefore he is the "surety for us God," that our debt shall be discharged. God the Father, on his part, engages, that Christ shall see his seed, that they shall be saved; and the Son of God, on his part, becomes bound for the debt of penalty and obedience. This is the covenant of redemption, "the counsel of peace" between the Father and the Son, before all worlds; Zechariah 6:13; Isaiah 53:10, Isaiah 53:12. It is unnecessary further to observe, that Christ, in his capacity of surety, has nobly redeemed his pledge, endured the penalty, and honored the precept of the broken law, and thereby secured for his people the blessings of the covenant.
better—Heb 8:6; 13:20, "everlasting."
testament—sometimes translated, "covenant." The Greek term implies that it is appointed by God, and comprises the relations and bearings partly of a covenant, partly of a testament: (1) the appointment made without the concurrence of a second party, of somewhat concerning that second party; a last will or testament, so in Heb 9:16, 17; (2) a mutual agreement in which both parties consent.Hebrews 7:20.
As much excellency as was in God’s oath constituting,
so much there must be in the office constituted. The Aaronical priesthood, by God’s constitution, was excellent; but Christ’s is much more so, being by God’s oath made personal and everlasting, relating to the best covenant; so as the Hebrews had the greatest reason to renounce Aaron’s, and to cleave to Christ’s for salvation. He being God-man, is a Surety, one that bindeth himself for another, to see something paid or performed, to give security for another; and is proper to him as a Priest, Job 17:3 Psalm 119:122 Proverbs 6:1. In the Mossical economy the priests were typical sureties, or undertakers for the people; so Aaron, as a surety, was sent by Moses to stand between the living and the dead, when God was cutting off those sinners, Numbers 16:46,48. The Spirit interprets this
Surety to be a Mediator, Hebrews 8:6, which is the general comprehensive name of all his offices: as he gives all from God to us in and by his promises, he is the Testator fulfilling them, Hebrews 9:15,16; as he gives satisfaction to God for us, and returns our duty performed with the incense of his merits, he is our Surety; which merit of his resulted from his perfect obedience to the whole law and will of God, and from the full satisfaction he made to God by his death for our sins, Romans 5:19 2 Corinthians 5:21 Galatians 3:13.
A better testament; the gospel covenant, described Hebrews 8:10-12, and referreth to what the Lord foretold of it, Jeremiah 31:33,34, which is better than the Mosaical for perspicuity, freeness, fulness, spirituality, and the Spirit promised in it for its ratification by the death of Christ, and its perpetuity: see Hebrews 8:8,9,11. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 7:22. The apodosis: Jesus has become the surety of a so much more excellent covenant, i.e. so much more excellent is the covenant of which Jesus has become surety.
ἔγγυος] in the N. T. only here. Comp. however, 2Ma 10:28; Sir 29:15-16.
Surety of a better covenant has Jesus become, i.e. in the person of Jesus pledge and guarantee is given that a better covenant has been established by God. For Christ, the Son of God, had become man in order to proclaim this covenant upon earth, had sealed it by His sufferings and death, and had been mightily accredited by His resurrection from the dead as a Founder of the Covenant who had been sent by God.
Incorrectly do Piscator, Owen, Calov, Wittich, Braun, and others find the thought expressed that Christ became surety to God for men, in that He vicariously took upon Himself the guilt which they must have borne; while, just as erroneously, Limborch, Baumgarten, Chr. Fr. Schmid, and others contend that a reciprocal suretyship, for God with men and for men with God, is meant. Each of these views has the context against it; since there respect is had only to that which has been guaranteed to men by the new order of things. Comp. Hebrews 7:19 : κρείττονος ἐλπίδος, δι ̓ ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ θεῷ; Hebrews 7:25-26.
Ἰησοῦς] with emphasis placed at the end.Hebrews 7:22. διαθήκη in classical Greek means a disposition (διατίθημι) of one’s goods by will; frequent in the orators and sometimes as in Aristoph., Birds, 439, a covenant. In the LXX it occurs nearly 280 times and in all but four passages it is the translation of בְּרִיח “covenant”. (See Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Greek, 47.) It is used indifferently of agreements between men and of contracts or engagements between God and man. See Introduction and on Hebrews 9:16 and Thayer s.v. Of this “better covenant” Jesus “has become and is” [γέγονεν] ἔγγυος “surety”. ἔγγυος is explained in the Greek commentators by ἐγγυητής, which is the commoner of the two forms, at least in later Greek. ἔγγυος occurs several times in the fragments from the second century B.C. given in Grenfell and Hunt’s Greek Papyri, series ii.; also in the fragments from first century A.D. given in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. It is not the exact equivalent of μεσίτης (found in a similar connection Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 12:24) which is a more comprehensive term. It has been questioned why in this place ἔγγυος is used, and Peirce answers: “I am apt to think he was led to this by his having just before used the word ἐγγίζομεν, and that he did it for the sake of the paronomasia”. And Bruce says: “There is literary felicity in the use of the word as playfully alluding to the foregoing word ἐγγίζομεν. There is more than literary felicity, for the two words probably have the same root, so that we might render ἔγγυος., the one who insures permanently near relations with God.” More likely he chose the word because his purpose was not to exhibit Jesus as negotiating the covenant, but especially as securing that it should achieve its end. It has been debated whether it is meant that Jesus was surety for men to God, as was held by both Lutheran and Reformed writers, or with others (Grotius, Peirce, etc.), that He was surety for God to men [“His being a surety relates to His acting in the behalf of God towards us and to His assuring us of the divine favour, and to His bestowing the benefits promised by God” (Peirce)] or, with Limborch, Baumgarten and Schmid (see Bleek) that he was surety for both parties. There is no reason to suppose that the writer particularised in any of these directions. He merely wished to express the thought that by the appointment of Jesus to the priestoood, the covenant based upon this priesthood was secured against all failure of any of the ends for which it was established.22. of a better testament] A clearer rendering would be “By so much better was the covenant of which Jesus has been made surety.” The words—which might be taken as the keynote of the whole Epistle—should undoubtedly be rendered “of a better covenant” The Greek word diathçkç is the rendering of the Hebrew Berîth, which means a covenant. Of “testaments” the Hebrews knew nothing until they learnt the custom of “making a will” from the Romans. So completely was this the case that there is no word in Hebrew which means “a will,” and when a writer in the Talmud wants to speak of a “will,” he has to put the Greek word diathçkç in Hebrew letters. The Hebrew berîth is rendered diathçkç in the LXX., and “covenant” by our translators at least 200 times. When we speak of the “Old” or the “New Testament” we have borrowed the word from the Vulgate or Latin translation of St Jerome in 2 Corinthians 3:6. The only exception to this meaning of diathçkç is in Hebrews 9:15-17. Of the way in which Jesus is “a pledge of this “better covenant,” see Hebrews 7:25 and Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 12:24. The word for “pledge” (ἔγγυος) occurs here alone in the N.T., but is found in Sir 29:15.Hebrews 7:22. Κρείττονος, of a better) testament or covenant, not to be repented of, eternal, ch. Hebrews 13:20.—διαθήκης, testament) After this passage this word is of frequent occurrence, ch. 8, 9, 10, likewise ch. Hebrews 12:24, Hebrews 13:20. Paul also uses it often in other places. It denotes a divine appointment, comprising the relations and bearings, partly of a covenant, partly of a testament.—ἔγγυος, surety) Hesychius, ἔγγυος, ἀνάδοχος. Its synonym is μεσίτης, mediator, ch. Hebrews 8:6.
Ἔγγυος surety, N.T.o. Comp. Sir. 29:15, 16; 2 Macc. 10:28. Occasionally in Class., where also occur ἐγγυᾶν to give as a pledge, ἐγγύη surety, ἐγγύησις giving in surety, ἐγγυητής one who gives security, and ἐγγητός plighted, always of a wife. The idea underlying all these words is that of putting something into one's hand (ἐν in γύαλον hollow of the hand) as a pledge. For testament rend. covenant and see on Hebrews 9:16. The thought of a covenant is introduced for the first time, and foreshadows Hebrews 8:6-13. It adds to the thought of the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood that of the inferiority of the dispensation which it represented.
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