Hebrews 1

 

 

The Epistle to the Hebrews, one of the most important books of the New Testament

in that it contains some of the chief doctrines of the Christian faith, is, as well, a book

of infinite logic and great beauty. To read it is to breathe the atmosphere of heaven

itself.  To study it is to partake of strong spiritual meat. To abide in its teachings is to

be led from immaturity to maturity in the knowledge of Christian truth and of

Christ Himself.  It is to “go on unto perfection.”        E. Schuyler English           

 

 

Vs. 1-4 – EXORDIUM

 

The introductory portion of an oration, intimating in a succession of choice and

pregnant phrases, the drift of the Epistle; a condensed summary of the coming

argument. It briefly anticipates the views to be set forth in the sequel, of

the revelation of God in Christ excelling far, and being destined

to supersede, all that had preceded it, as being the ultimate Divine

manifestation in the SON, according to the full meaning of the term

involved in ancient prophecy; — of the eternal Divinity of him who was

thus revealed in time as SON — of his accomplishing, as such, the reality

signified by the ancient priesthood; and of his exaltation, as such, to his

predestined glory and dominion on high. We find in the introduction to

some of Paul’s Epistles somewhat similar adumbrations of his subject,

but none so finished and rhetorical as this. And if its style affords an

argument, as far as it goes, against the immediate Pauline authorship of the

Epistle, still more does it appear almost conclusive against the view of its

being a translation. Not merely the alliteration in Πολυµερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως

Polumeros kai  polutroposat sundry times  and in divers manners -

but the Greek structure of the whole with its rhythmical flow, betokens an

original composition. The rolling music of the language cannot, of course,

be reproduced in an English translation.

 

1 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past

unto the fathers by the prophets,”  Retaining the order of the words in the

original, we may translate, In many portions, and in many modes of old

God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets.  Πολυµερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως

as above — not a mere alliterative redundancy, denoting variously: the writer’s

usual choice use of words forbids this supposition. Nor is the µερῶς meros

of the first adverb to be taken (as in the Authorized Version) to denote portions

of time: — this is not the proper meaning of the compound. Nor (for the same reason)

does it denote various degrees of prophetic inspiration, but (on

etymological as well as logical grounds) the various portions of the

preparatory revelation to the fathers.” It was not one utterance, but many

utterances; given, in fact, at divers times, though it is to the diversity of the

utterances, and not of the times, that the expression points. Then the

second adverb denotes the various modes of the several former revelations

not necessarily or exclusively the rabbinical distinction between dream,

vision, inspiration, voices, angels; or that between the visions and dreams

of prophets and the “mouth to mouth” revelation to Moses, referred to in

Numbers 12:6-9; but rather the various characters or forms of the

various utterances in themselves. Some were in the way of primeval

promises; some of glimpses into the Divine righteousness, as in the Law

given from Mount Sinai; some of significant ritual, as in the same Law;

some of typical history and typical persons, spoken of under inspiration as

representing an unfulfilled ideal; some of the yearnings and aspirations, or

distinct predictions, of psalmists and of prophets. But all these were but

partial, fragmentary, anticipatory utterances, leading up to and adumbrating

the ‘one complete, all-absorbing “speaking of God to us in the SON,

which is placed in contrast with them all. If the subsequent treatment in this

Epistle of the Old Testament utterances is to be taken as a key for

unlocking the meaning of the exordium, such ideas were in the writer’s

mind when he thus wrote.   Πολυµερῶς  pertinet ad materiam,

πολυτρόπως ad formam. ” Of old; i.e. in the ages comprised in

the Old Testament record. Though it is true that; God has revealed Himself

variously since the world was made to other than the saints of the Old

Testament, and though He ceased not to speak in some way to His people

between the times of Malachi and of Christ, yet both the expression, “to

the fathers,” and the instances of Divine utterances given subsequently in

the Epistle, restrict us in our interpretation to the Old Testament canon.

Addressing Hebrews, it is from this that the writer argues. Having spoken;

a word used elsewhere to express all the ways in which God has made

Himself, His will, and His counsels, known (Matthew 10:20; Luke 1:45, 70;

John 9:29; Acts 3:21; 7:6). To the fathers; the ancestors of the Jews in respect

both of race and of faith; the saints of the Old Testament. The word had a

well-understood meaning (Matthew 23:30; Luke 1:55, 72; 11:47; and especially

Romans 9:5). For the double sense of the term “father,” thus used, see John 8:56,

“your father Abraham;” but again, John 8:39, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye

would do the works of Abraham;” and also Romans ch.4 and Galatians 3:7. But

this  distinction between physical and spiritual ancestry does not

come in here. In the prophets. The word “prophet” must be taken here in a

general sense; not confined to the prophets distinctively so called, as in

Luke 24:44, “Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.” For both Moses

and the psalms are quoted in the sequel, to illustrate the ancient utterances.

προφήτηςprophaetaesprophet - means, both in classical and Hellenistic

Greek (as does the Hebrew aybin;, of which  προφήτης is the equivalent), not

a foreteller, but a forth teller of the mind of God, an inspired expounder

(compare Exodus 7:1, “See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron

thy brother shall be thy prophet). Observe also the sense of προφήτεὶα

(prophets) in Paul’s Epistles (especially I Corinthians 14.). In this sense Moses,

David, and all through whom God in any way spoke to man, were prophets.

On the exact force of the preposition ἐν – en – in  -  many views have been

entertained. It does not mean “in the books of the prophets,” — the corresponding

“in the SON” (v. 2) precludes this; nor that God by His Spirit spoke within the

prophets, — this idea does not come in naturally here; nor is “the SON” presented

afterwards as one in whom the Godhead dwelt, so much as being Himself a

manifestation of God; nor may we take ἐν, as simply a Hellenism for δὶα dia

by - the writer does not use prepositions indiscriminately.  Ἐν differs from dia

as denoting the element in which this speaking takes place. This use of the

preposition is found also in classical Greek and in the New Testament, compare

Ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιµονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιµόνια – En to archonti ton

Daimonion ekballei ta daimonia -  in the chief of the demons he is casting out

the demons (Matthew 9:34.).

 

2 “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath

appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;”

In these last days. The true reading being ἐπ. ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡµερῶν τούτων

ep eschatou ton haemeron toutonin these last days -  not ἐπ. ἐσχάτων

ep eschatonon last ones - as in the Textus Receptus, translate, at

the end of these days’, The Received Text would, indeed, give the same

meaning, the position of the article denoting’ “the last of these days,” not

“these last days.” The reference appears to be to the common rabbinical

division of time into αἰών οὗτος aion houtosthis age, and αἰών µέλλων

aion mellonage to be; age to come – my translation – CY – 2014), or

ἐρχόµενος erchomenosthe former denoting the pre-Messianic (past),

the latter the Messianic period (future). Thus “these days” is equivalent to

αἰών οὗτος, “the present age,” and the whole expression to ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ

τῶν αἰώνων epi sunteleia ton aionon - at the end of the ages (ch. 9:26);

compare I Corinthians 10:11, “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of

the ages are come.” The term, αἰών µέλλων, is also used in ch.6:5); of. 2:5,

τὴν οἰκουµένην τὴν µέλλουσαν – ton oikoumenaen taen mellousan

the world to come. For allusions elsewhere to the two periods, compare

Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:35; Ephesians 1:21;

Titus 2:12. Cf. also in Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6, where the

Codex Alexandrinus  has πατἠρ τοῦ µέλλοντος αἰῶνος - Pataer tou

mellontos aionos - Everlasting Father . A subject of discussion has been the

point of division between the two ages whether the commencement of the

Christian dispensation was ushered in by:

 

·         the exaltation of Christ, or

·         His second advent.

 

The conception in the Jewish mind, founded on Messianic prophecy, would, of

course, be undefined. It would only be that the coming of the Messiah would

inaugurate a new order of things. But how did the New Testament writers after

Christ’s ascension conceive the two ages? Did they regard themselves as living at

the end of the former age or at the beginning of the new one? The passage

before us does not help to settle the question, nor does ch. 9:26;

for the reference in both cases is to the historical manifestation of Christ

before His ascension. But others of the passages cited above seem certainly

to imply that “the coming age” was regarded as still future. It has been

said, indeed, with regard to this apparent inference from some of them, that

the writers were regarding their own age from the old Jewish standpoint

when they spoke of it as future, or only used well-known phrases to

denote the two ages, though they were no longer strictly applicable.

But this explanation cannot well be made to apply to such passages as

I Corinthians 10:11 and Ephesians 1:21, or to those in the Gospels. It would

appear from them that it was not till the (παρουσία parousiacoming) or,

as it is designated in the pastoral Epistles, the ἐπιφἀνεια epiphaneiaappearing)

of Christ that “the coming age” of prophecy was regarded as destined to begin,

ushering in “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”

(II Peter 3:13). Still, though “that day” was in the future, the first coming of

Christ had been, as it were, its dawn, signifying its approach and preparing

believers for meeting it. “The darkness was passing away; the true light was

already shining” (I John 2:8). Hence the apostolic writers sometimes speak as

if already in the “coming age;” as being already citizens of heaven (Philippians

3:20); as already “made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places” (Ephesians

2:6); having already “tasted the powers of the age to come” (ch. 6:5). In a

certain sense they felt themselves in the new order of things,

though, strictly speaking, they still regarded their own age as but the end of

the old one, irradiated by the light of the new. To understand fully their

language on the subject, we should remember that they supposed the

second advent to be more imminent than it was.  Paul, at one time

certainly, thought that it might be before his own death (I Corinthians

15:51; I Thessalonians 4:15). Thus they might naturally speak of their

own time as the conclusion of the former age, though regarding the second

advent as the commencement of the new one. But the prolongation of “the

end of these days,” unforeseen by them, does not affect the essence of their

teaching on the subject. In the Divine counsels “one day is as a thousand

years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8).  Hath spoken unto us

(more properly, spake to us) in his Son. “His” is here properly supplied to give

the meaning of ἐν υἱῷ - en huioin (His) Son. The rendering, a SON, which

seems to have the advantage of literalism, would be misleading if it suggested

the idea of one among many sons, or a son in the same sense in which others

are sons. For though the designation, “son of God,” is undoubtedly used in

subordinate senses — applied e.g. to Adam, to angels, to good men, to Christians —

yet what follows in the Epistle fixes its peculiar meaning here. The entire

drift of the earlier part of the Epistle is to show that the idea involved in

the word “Son,” as applied to the Messiah in prophecy, is that of a relation

to God far above that of the angels or of Moses, and altogether unique in

its character. This idea must have been in the writer’s mind when he

selected the phrases of his exordium. Nor is the article required for the

sense intended. Its omission, in fact, brings it out.  ἐν τ υἱῷ would have

drawn especial attention to “the personage in whom God spake; ἐν υἱῷ

does so rather to the mode of the speaking — it is equivalent to “in one

who was SON.” Son-revelation (as afterwards explained), is contrasted

with previous prophetic revelations (compare the omission of the article before

υἱὸςhuiosSon - ch. 3:6; 5:8; 7:28). Whom He appointed (or, constituted)

heir of all things; not, as in the A.V., “hath appointed.” The verb is in the

aorist, and here the indefinite sense of the aorist should be preserved.

Convenienter statim sub Filii nomen memoratur haereditas.”

 

Two questions arise.

 

  1. Was it in respect of His eternal Divinity, or of His manifestation in time,

that the Son was appointed “Heir of all things?”

 

  1. When is God to be conceived as so appointing Him? i.e. What is the

time, if any, to be assigned to the indefinite aorist?

 

In answer to question (1) the second alternative is to be preferred. For

 

a.       His eternal pre-existence has not yet been touched upon: it is

introduced, as it were parenthetically, in the next and following

clauses.

 

b.       Though the term Son is legitimately used in theology to denote the

 eternal relation to the Father expressed by the Λόγος – Logos – Word –

 of John, yet its application in this Epistle and in the New Testament

generally (excepting, perhaps, the µονογενής υἱὸς monogenaes

huiosonly begotten Son - peculiar to John, is to the Word made

flesh, to the Son as manifested in the Christ. And hence it is to

Him as such that we may conclude the heirship to be here assigned.

 

c.       This is the view carried out in the sequel of the Epistle, where the SON

is represented as attaining the universal dominion assigned to Him after,

and in consequence of, His human obedience. The conclusion of the

exordium in itself expresses this; for it is not till after He had made

purification of sins that He is said to have “sat down,” etc.; i.e.

entered on His inheritance; having become (γενόµενος - genomenos

begotten not ὦν – on - become) “so much better,” etc. This is the

view of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Fathers generally (compare 

the cognate passage, Philippians 2:9).

 

(2) It seems best to refer the aorist ἔθηκενethaeken -  He appoints; He places –

not to any definite time, as that of the prophetic utterances afterwards cited, or

that of the actual exaltation of Christ, but indefinitely to the eternal counsels,

which were indeed declared and fulfilled in time, but were themselves ἐν ἀρχῇ -

en archaein the beginning.. A similar use of the aorist, coupled with other

aorists pointing to events in time, is found in Romans 8:29-30. What this heirship

of all things implies will appear in the sequel, By whom also He made the worlds.

Interposed clause to complete the true conception of the SON; showing who and

what He was originally and essentially through whom God spake in time, and

who, as SON, inherited. Here certainly, and in the expressions which follow, we

have the same doctrine as that of the λόγος of John. And the testimony

of the New Testament to the pre-existence and deity of Christ is the more

striking from our finding the same essential idea under different forms of

expression, and in writings differing so much from each other in character

and style. He who appeared in the world as Christ is, in the first place, here

said (as by John 1:3) to have been the Agent of creation; compare Colossians

1:15-17, where the original creative agency of “the Son of his love” is emphatically

set forth, as well as His being “the Head of the body, the Church.” This cognate

passage is of weight against the view of interpreters who would take the one

before us as referring to the initiation of the gospel ages; with respect to which

view see also the quotation from Bull given below under v. 3. Here τοὺς αἰῶνας· -

tous aionas - is equivalent to “the worlds,” as in the Authorized Version.

For though the primary meaning of αἰῶν aion (eon) has reference to time

limited in periods, or unlimited in eternity — it is used to denote also the whole

system of things called into being by the Creator in time and through which alone

we are able to conceive time.  Compare κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ -

kataeristhai tous aionas hrmati Theouthe worlds were framed by the word of

God  (ch. 11:3; also I Corinthians 2:7, πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων – pro ton aionon

before the world; and πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων – pro chronon aionionbefore the

world begain; before times eonian II Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2. 

 

 

The Two Revelations (vs. 1-2)

 

In this sublime exordium, which strikes the keynote of his doctrinal

teaching, the writer takes for granted:

 

1. The inspiration of the Scriptures. God hath spoken.” How awful this

truth, yet how blessed! With what a clear ringing note of certainty the

author assumes it! The Scriptures put forth no theory of inspiration, but

they everywhere claim to declare the mind and will of God.

 

2. The interdependence of the two revelations (Old and New Testaments).

It is the same God who has spoken in both. The new does not ignore or

contradict the old; it rests upon it, develops it, and completes it. The Old

Testament, no less than the New, will bear every trial to which it may be

subjected by either the lower or the higher criticism.

 

  • THE OLD TESTAMENT REVELATION CHARACTERIZED. It is:

 

Ř      Ancient. “Of old time unto the fathers.” Since the world began”

(Acts 3:21). For nearly four hundred years now God had ceased

speaking; it was more than fifteen hundred since the first part of the

Old Testament had been written; and it was over four thousand

years at the very least since God had begun to speak.

 

Ř      Given in the prophets. A prophet is a forth-speaker — a spokesman

— one who speaks for another. The prophetic formula was, “Thus saith

Jehovah.” God’s prophets were men; He conveyed His message to His

people through human minds and hearts. No prophet wrote as an

automaton; his own faculties wrought, and his ink-horn was dashed

with his heart’s blood. It is very beautiful to see the prophets rising up,

one after another, in these far-past days. Together they form a “goodly

fellowship;” each was the noblest spirit of his time.

 

Ř      Fragmentary. “By divers portions.” God had given the former

revelation part by part. He delivered it in connection with temporary

dispensations — the Adamic, the Abrahamic, and the Mosaic. (I

recommend Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin – CY – 2014)

God gave it first by oral communication, and latterly by Scripture. The

Old Testament grew slowly; it took more than a millennium to complete it,

and at least twenty-seven different writers contributed to it. The revelation,

though of priceless value, was always fragmentary and imperfect; it was

meant to be progressive and preparatory. God gave one truth to one age,

and another to a succeeding age. The promises of redemption became the

longer the more definite.

 

Ř      Multiform. “In diverse manners” — in manifold fashion. God spoke:

o       now by dreams,

o       now by visions,

o       now by voices,

o       now by angels,

o       now by similitudes,

o       now by Urim,

o       now by sacrifices and lustrations,

o       now by putting a burning word into the prophet’s soul.

How various too, is the literature of the Old Testament Scriptures!

o       Now it is historical,

o       now biographical,

o       now legislative,

o       now prophetic,

o       now philosophic,

o       now poetical;

as varied as the fresh mind of every contributor, and yet revealing all

through the one eternal Mind.

 

  • THE NEW TESTAMENT REVELATION CONTRASTED WITH

THE OLD. The writer merely suggests this contrast, leaving its details to

be wrought out in the meditation of his readers. Unlike the Old, the New

Testament revelation is:

 

Ř      Recent and final.  “At the end of these days unto us.” This refers to the

close of the Mosaic economy. Judaism, like the older dispensations

which preceded it, had got worn out, and in its turn had passed away;

but the Christian dispensation is the final one, to be consummated

only at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ! So, the new economy

shall be ever present and always new, because not to be superseded

so long as the world lasts.

 

Ř      Given in His Son. What an element of stupendous contrast! The

prophets were only inspired men; this is a DIVINE PERSON! The

prophets were only servants; this is the SON. The prophets were only

God’s spokesmen; this is GOD HIMSELF SPEAKING! The SON

is the Logosthe “Word, the manifested God. What a view is

presented in the following clauses of His Divine dignity and His

 mediatorial majesty! This first grand sentence of the Epistle reminds

us of the scene on the holy mount. It points us away from Moses and

Elijah, as did the voice from the excellent glory, saying to our souls,

“This is my beloved Son: hear ye Him.”  (Matthew 17:5)

 

Ř      Complete and perfect. The New Testament presents the truth, not

fragmentarily, as the Old Testament did, but in finished form and in

undivided fullness. It was entirely written by eight or nine men belonging

to one generation (We often think of those born from 1910-1925 or so

as being The Greatest Generation.  Can any generation compare with

those faithful ones in the generation of Jesus Christ?   CY – 2014) 

It contains a richer revelation of more developed truth than that which

is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Son of God, speaking

to us through His apostles and evangelists, we see revelation full-orbed

at last. For twenty centuries now the canon has been complete; and, thus,

progress in theology can be made only as the result of better under-

standing of what God has already given us.

.

Ř      Simple and clear. The Old Testament revelation was multiform — like a

painted window, covered over with many-colored and beautiful emblems;

that of the New Testament is like a window of pure clear glass, through

which we gaze upon the unveiled glory of heaven. The water of life

trickled through the Old Testament in a variety of tiny streamlets; it runs

in the New Testament with the flow of a broad pellucid river. Christ and

His apostles “use great plainness of speech.” The New Testament is much

shorter than the Old, but it is more inward, evangelical, and spiritual. It is

a better revelation as well as a later one; for it contains the substance

rather than the shadows — the heavenly things rather than only their

patterns.  Preaching is a very simple ordinance. The two sacraments

constitute the entire Christian ritual. The Old Testament vail is done

away in Christ.” (II Corinthians 3:14)

 

Let us conclude:

 

1. Great as were the privileges of the ancient Hebrews (Romans 9:4-5), how much

     higher are ours (Matthew 13:16-17)!

 

2. How much heavier, accordingly, are our responsibilities (ch. 12:25)!

                What base ingratitude in any one not to listen to the Son of God,

                 and to refuse to shape his life in accordance with the complete and

                 glorious circle of Christian truth!

 

 

God’s Revelation of Redemptive Truth to Man (vs. 1-2)

 

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners,” etc. God has spoken to

man. A very significant fact. It suggests the Divine interest in His human

creatures. It teaches that man is capable of receiving communications from

the infinite Mind.  He can understand, appreciate, and appropriate to his

unspeakable advantage the thoughts of God concerning him. He is under

obligations to do so. Man’s attitude towards the communications of God

should be that of devout attention and earnest investigation. Our text

teaches that God’s revelation of redemptive truth to man:

 

  • WAS MADE THROUGH MAN. “God... spake in time past unto the

fathers by the prophets;” Revised Version, “in the prophets.” The prophets

were not simply predictors of future events; the word is applied to the

sacred lawgiver, historians, poets, etc. God spake in them and through

them to the fathers. It was the very condition of the prophet’s

inspiration  that he should be one with the people. So far from making

him superhuman, it made him more man. He felt with more exquisite

sensitiveness all that belongs to man, else he could not have been

a prophet. His insight into things was the result of that very weakness,

sensitiveness, and susceptibility so tremblingly alive. He burned with their

thoughts, and expressed them. He was obliged by the very sensitiveness of

his humanity to have a more entire dependence and a more perfect

sympathy than other men.  (And at last God spoke through His Son

who took upon Himself our form and was in all points tempted like

we are, yet without sin - ch. 4:15; Philippians 2:8 – CY – 2014)

 He was more man, just because more Divine — more a Son of man,

because more a Son of God.”

 

  • WAS MADE GRADUALLY. “At sundry times;” Revised Version, “by

divers portions.” The revelation was given piecemeal, by fragments, in and

by various persons, and in different ages. Very gradual was the revelation

of redemptive truth to man. God’s first communication (Genesis 3:15)

was like the evening star, serene and solitary; the fuller communications of

the patriarchal age were like the starry hosts of night; the revelations made

to Moses were like the light of the fair and full-orbed moon, in which that

of the stars is lost; and those made by succeeding prophets were like the

dawn of the day, when the moon grows pale and dim; and the supreme

revelation through Jesus Christ was like the radiance of the sun shining

in noontide splendor.  This gradualness of revelation may be seen in many

things, e.g.:

 

Ř      The character of God. Very gradual was the unfolding of the nature

and character of the Divine Being to man. The measure of the

revelation was adapted to the measure of the human capacity.

Jesus, the Son, revealed the essence and heart of the Father.

“God is a Spirit.”  (John 4:24)  “He that hath seen me hath

 seen the Father.”  (Ibid. ch. 14:9)

Ř      The salvation of man and its method.

Ř      True human character and blessedness (compare Deuteronomy

28:1-14 with Matthew 5:1-12).

Ř      The immortality of man. We find in the Bible longings for

immortality, inquiries after it, hints concerning it, anticipations of it,

but not until the final revelation IN CHRIST was it brought

into clear  and assured light (II Timothy 1:10). This gradualness

of the Divine unfolding should be remembered by us as we study

the Divine communications. Let us not expect to find in the earlier

portions what the later alone can contain, or put to Moses inquiries

which only the Son can reply to.

 

  • WAS MADE VARIOUSLY. “In divers manners.” This is true:

 

Ř      Of God’s communications to the prophets. He communicated with

them by Urim and Thummim, by dreams, visions, ecstasies, by

quickening and directing their thoughts, etc. God is not limited as

to His modes of access to and influence over the minds of men.

He can call them into active exercise, impress them with deep

convictions, etc.

Ř      Of the communications of the prophets to men. They spoke:

o       in prose and poetry,

o       in parable and proverb,

o       in history and prediction,

o       in forcible reasoning and glowing eloquence.

Each prophet also has his own style.  God’s revelations in the Bible

and in nature are alike in this, that they are characterized by endless

and delightful variety. In nature we have the majestic mountain and

the lowly valley, the massive oak and the modest daisy, the serene

stars and the storm-driven clouds, the booming ocean and the rippling

rivulet. Equally great and beautiful is the variety in the sacred Scriptures.

 

  • IS CHARACTERIZED BY UNITY. The revelation was given “by

divers portions and in divers manners;” it came through different men and

in widely distant ages; yet all the portions are in substantial agreement. The

voices are many and various, but they meet and combine in one sweet and

sublime harmony. In the different portions of the revelation we discover:

 

Ř      unity of character — every portion is spiritual, pure, sacred;

Ř      unity of direction — every portion points to the last great revelation,

the Divine Son;

Ř      unity of purpose — to make man “wise unto salvation.” 

(II Timothy 3:15)

 

We conclude, then, that while the speakers were many, the inspiring Mind

was One only.  Or, keeping more closely to the phraseology of the text,

though the voices were many, the Speaker was but one. In this marvelous

unity in such great diversity, we have the basis of a cogent argument for

THE DIVINE ORIGIN of the sacred Scriptures.

 

  • IS PERFECTED IN HIS SON. “God... hath in these last days spoken

unto us by His Son;” Revised Version, hath at the end of these days

spoken unto us in His Son.” The revelations made in and by the prophets

were imperfect. “They were various in nature and form, fragments of the

whole truth, presented in manifold forms, in shifting lines of separated

color. Christ is the full revelation of God, Himself the pure Light, uniting in

His one Person the whole spectrum.   It is quite appropriate that

the perfect revelation should be made in and through the Divine Son. The

Son will be perfectly acquainted with the Father, and therefore able to

declare His will. The Son will resemble the Father, and therefore be able to

manifest Him. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son,

He hath declared Him!” (John 1:18)  No one knoweth “the Father, save the

Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him”  (Matthew 11:27);

“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  The Divine

revelations of redemptive truth to man culminate in Him. No new or further

revelations will be granted unto us; but to the devout, patient, and earnest

student, new and brighter light will stream forth from the revelations already

given. Many of the utterances of the Son are as yet only very partially and

imperfectly understood even by His most advanced pupils. His words are of

inexhaustible significance (“the law of the Lord is perfect” – Psalm 19:7);

and that significance will become increasingly manifest to the prayerful and

patient inquirer.

 

  • CONCLUSION. Let us rejoice that we have this latest and brightest

revelation of God, this clearest utterance of His will concerning us and our

salvation. Let us heartily accept this revelation. It is truly accepted only

when it is acted upon; i.e. when we have received THE SON OF GOD

as OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR!

 

 

Jesus Inheritor of All Things (v. 2)

 

One position suggests another. The idea of sonship naturally leads on to

the idea of inheritance. Among the Israelites especially would this be so,

for inheritance is much spoken of in the Old. Testament. The son looks

forward to inherit and control the father’s possessions. Thus, while the

individual cannot defy death, the race can in a modified kind of way. And

so this passion of man for transmitting his property to his posterity is here

used to begin that glorifying description of Jesus which runs through this

Epistle. Jesus is a Son, and if a Son, then an Heir. Moreover, inheritance is

according to the father’s possessions. Jesus is Heir of all things, because

His Father is Maker of all things. We shall do well also, in considering this

word “heir” inserted in this particular place, to bear in mind the parable of

the wicked husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-41). There is little doubt that it

was in the mind of the writer, and the slightest hint to the wise is enough.

Thoughtful readers of the Epistle who knew their Gospels would be quick

enough to take the hint. For when thus a mention had been made of God

speaking in the prophets, and then speaking in the Son, there was

obviously further suggested how these prophets had been treated, and

finally how the Son himself had been treated. As to how the prophets were

treated, see ch.11:32-40. And. now the Heir comes forward. Thus we are at

once brought face to Face with a claim. We are not allowed time to plume

ourselves on privileges, in that, while former generations had only prophets to

speak to them, WE HAVE THE SON!   The claim is the same, whether it be

made through the humblest of the prophets — even through a murmuring Jonah —

or through Jesus, the Son of God. It is a claim on us for the result of our work

in the great inheritance. Jesus is Heir of all things, therefore Heir of that little

section in which we have been working. Let it also be recollected that Jesus,

in being Heir of all things, makes us as children of God — JOINT-HEIRS!

Every one who lives for Christ enriches all the sons of God. Jesus is Heir of all

things that He may make believers in Him sharers with Him according to the

widest of their capacities and opportunities. What a glorious picture of deep,

exhaustless satisfaction is here, and how much beyond the dreams, generous

as they are often reckoned to be, of an earthly communism!

 

3 “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His

person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He

had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the

Majesty on high:” Who, being, etc. The participle ὦν – on – become -

not γενόµενος - genomenosbegotten)  as in v. 4 — denotes (as does still

more forcibly ὑπάρχων huparchonin one’s own power - in the cognate                                                            

passage, Philippians 2:6) what the Son is in Himself essentially and

independently of His manifestation in time. This transcendent idea is

conveyed by two metaphorical expressions, differing in the metaphors

used, but concurrent in meaning. The brightness of His glory. The word

δόξης doxae  (translated glory), though not in classical Greek carrying with it the

idea of light, is used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew dwObK;, which denotes the

splendor surrounding God; manifested on Mount Sinai, in the holy of

holies, in the visions of Ezekiel, etc.; and regarded as existing eternally

above the heavens” (compare Exodus 24:15; 40:34; I Kings 8:11;

Ezekiel 8:4; Psalm 24:7-8, etc.). But the full blaze of this glory,

accompanying “the face” of God, even Moses was not allowed to see; for

no man could see Him and live. Moses was hidden in a cleft of the rock

while the God’s glory passed by, and saw only its outskirts, i.e. the

radiance left behind after it; had passed; hearing meanwhile a proclamation

of the moral attributes of Deity, by a perception of which he might best see

God (Exodus 33:18, etc.). Similarly in the New Testament. There also,

as on Sinai, in the tabernacle, and in prophetic vision, the glory of God is

occasionally manifested under the form of an unearthly radiance; as in the

vision of the shepherds (Luke 2:9), the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-35,

etc.), the ecstasy of Stephen (Acts 7:55). But in itself, as it surrounds

“the face” of God, it is still invisible and unapproachable; compare John 1:18,

No man hath seen God at any time;” I John 1:5, “God is Light;”

I Timothy 6:16,  Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto

(φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον phos oikon aprositonlight which no man can

Approach; in light making His home inaccessible), whom no man hath seen nor

can see.” It denotes really, under the image of eternal, self-existent, unapproachable

light, THE INEFFABLE DIVINE PERFECTION, THE ESSENCE OF DEITY

which is beyond human ken.  Sempiterna ejus virtus et divinitas” (Bengel).

Of this glory the SON is the ἀπαύγασµα - apaugasma – image; reflection— a word

not occurring elsewhere in the New Testament, but used by the Alexandrian

writers.  The verb ἀπαύγάζω -apaugazoto radiate; to beam forth brightness; and 

ἀπαύγασµα apaugasma -  according to the proper meaning of nouns so formed,

should mean He brightness beamed forth — this rather than its reflection from

another object, as the sun’s light is reflected from a cloud. So the noun is used in

Wisdom of Solomon 7:26, as applied to Σοφία – Sophia – wisdom - which is there

personified in a manner suggestive of the doctrine of the Λόγος. Ατμὶς γάρ ἐστιν τῆς

τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀπόρροια τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής ……

ἀπαύγασμα γάρ ἐστιν φωτὸς ἀϊδίου - Atmis gar estin taes tou Theou dunameos

kai aporroia taes tou pantokratoros doxaes eilikrinaes…….apaugasma gar estin

photos aidiou - For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence

flowing from the glory of the Almighty:……. the image of His goodness.  As, then,

the eradiated brightness is to the source of light, so is the SON, in His eternal

being, to the Father. It is, so to speak, begotten of the source, and of one substance

with it, and yet distinguishable from it; being that through which its glory is made

manifest, and through which it enlightens all things. The Person of the Son

is thus represented, not as of one apart from God, irradiated by His glory,

but as Himself the sheen of His glory; compare John 1:14, “We beheld His

glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;” also Ibid. vs.:4; 9.

The above is the view taken by the Fathers generally, and expressed in

the Church’s Creed, φῶς ἐκ φωτὸς phos ek photos – Light from Light. And

express Image of His substance; not “of His person,” as in the Authorized

Version.  The latter rendering  is due to the long-accepted theological use of

the word ὑποστάσῖς hupostasis substance –  in the sense of personal subsistence,

as applied to each of the Three in One. What the Latins called persona the Greeks

at length agreed to call hypostasis,  while the Greek οὐσία ousiasubstance

(equivalent to essentia) and the Latin substantia (though the latter word

etymologically corresponds with hypostasis) were used as equivalents in meaning.

But it was long after the apostolic age that this scientific use of the word became

fixed. After as well as before the Nicene Council usia was sometimes used to

denote what we mean by person, and hypostasis to denote what we mean by

the substance of the Godhead; and hence came misunderstandings during the

Arian controversy. The definite doctrine of the Trinity, though apparent in the

New Testament, had not as yet come under discussion at the time of the writing

of this Epistle, or been as yet scientifically formulated; and hence we must take

the word in its general and original sense, the same as that now attached to its

etymological equivalent, substantia. It means literally, “a standing under,”

and is used:

 

(1) in a physical sense, for “foundation,” as in Psalm 69:2, “I sink in

deep mire where there is no standing,” where the Septuagint has ὑποστάσῖς.

 

(2) metaphorically, for “confidence” or “certainty,” as below, in 3:15 and

II Corinthians 9:4;

 

(3) metaphysically, for that which underlies the phenomena of things and

constitutes their essential being. Of the substance, understood in the last

sense, of God the Son is the, which word expresses a similar

kind of relation to the Divine substance as ἀπαύγασµα does to the Divine

glory. Derived from χαράσσω charasso -  (equivalent to “mark,” “grave,”

or stamp,”with an engraven or imprinted character), its proper meaning is the

perceptible image on the material so stamped or engraved, of which it thus

becomes the χαρακτὴρ charaktaer - image. Thus the “image and superscription”

on a coin is its χαρακτὴρ, manifesting what the coin is. The instance of the tribute                         

money (Matthew 22:20) at once occurs to us: our Lord pointed to the

χαρακτὴρ, on the coin as manifesting its ὑποστάσῖς, as being Caesar’s

money. Thus also the lineaments of a countenance are called its , χαρακτὴρ

as in Herod., 1:116, O χαρακτὴρ τοῦ πρόσώποu – O charaktaer tou prosopou

behave towards; deal with . A passage in Philo is illustrative of the sense

intended; and it is to be observed (both with regard to the expression before

us and to the preceding ἀπαύγασµα) that the Alexandrian theologians are

important guides to the interpretation of phrases in this Epistle, their influence

on its modes of thought and expression being perceptible. He says

(‘De Plant. Nee.,’ § 5) that Moses called the rational soul the image (εἰκὼνα)

of the Divine and Invisible, as being ousiotheisan kai tupotheisan sphragidi

Theou, haes ho charaktaer estin ho aidios logos. (the essence and image of

God sealed in the character/image is the Eternal Word [Jesus] – my translation? –

CY – 2014).  Here, be it observed, is used χαρακτὴρ for the form or lineament

of the Divine seal itself, not for the copy stamped on the plastic material. And

it is applied, as here, to the “Eternal Word,” as being the manifestation of what

the unseen Godhead is. Hence it would be wrong to understand the word, as

some have done, as denoting the form impressed by one substance on another —

as though the impression left on the wax were the χαρακτὴρ of the seal. This

misconception would mislead (as might also ἀπαύγασµα, if rendered “reflection”)

in that it would seem to represent the Son as distinct from God, though stamped

with his likeness and irradiated by His glory. Arian views about the SON, or even

mere humanitarian views about the Christ, might thus seem countenanced.

The two words ἀπαύγασµα (image; reflection) and χαρακτὴρ (image), as has been

said, express a similar relation to δόξα (glory) and ὑποστάσῖς (substance) respectively,

and convey the same general idea of the Son’s eternal relation to the Father. But

both are, of course, but figures, each necessarily inadequate, OF THE

INSCRUTABLE REALITY!  If we may distinguish between them, it may be

said that the former especially intimates the view of the operation and energy of

the Godhead being through the Son, while the latter more distinctly brings out the

idea of the Son being the Manifestation of what the Godhead is, and especially

of what it is to us. And upholding all things. We have here still the

present participle, denoting the intrinsic operation of Him who was revealed

as Son. Though the word , φέρειν - pherin, in the sense of upholding or sustaining 

creation, does not occur elsewhere in the, New Testament, it can hardly

have any other meaning here, considering the context. We find a similar

use of it in Numbers 11:14; Deuteronomy 1:9, “to bear (φέρειν)

all this people alone.” And in the later Greek and rabbinical writers

parallels are found. Chrysostom interprets , φέρων as meaning kubernw~n

ta<diapi>ptonta sugkratw~n, which comes to the same thing as

“upholding” or “sustaining.” The meaning is that not only were the

worlds” made through Him; in His Divine nature He ever “upholds” the “all

things” which were made through Him, and of which, as SON, He was

appointed “Heir;” compare Colossians 1:17, “And in Him all things consist.”

And this upholding operation must not be supposed to have been in

abeyance during the period of His humiliation. He was still what He had

been eternally, though He had “emptied himself” of the state and

prerogatives of Deity (Philippians 2:7); compare John 3:13, “The Son of man,

which is in heaven.” By the word (ῥήµατι rhemati - word) of His power is an

expression elsewhere used of the voluntas efficax of Deity — the utterance of

Divine power; compare ch. 11:3, “The worlds were framed by the Word (ῥήµατι)

of God.” The writer could hardly have used it in this connection, if speaking

of a created being. As to the reference of “His” before ”power,” whether to

the subject of the sentence or to God, there is the same ambiguity in the

Greek as in the English translation. Even if be intended, and not αὐτοῦ - autou

of Him, (and the former is most likely, since the pronoun, though it be

reflective, is not emphatically so), it may with grammatical propriety refer

either, like the previous αὐτοῦ, to God, or to Him who thus upholds all

things. In either case the general meaning of the clause remains the same.

When He had made purification of sins. (So, according to the best-supported

and now generally accepted text.) The aorist is now resumed, denoting an act in

time — the act accomplished by Him as incarnate SON, previous to and

necessary for His entering on the inheritance appointed to Him as such. This

act, the grand purpose of the Incarnation, was ATONEMENT!   There can be

no doubt that the cleansing effected by atonement, and not the mere moral

reformation of believers, is meant here by purification of sins. The sequel

of the Epistle, being, as aforesaid, the lull expression of the drift of the

exordium, is sufficient proof of this. For in it Christ is exhibited at great

length as the true High Priest of humanity, accomplishing truly what the

Jewish priesthood signified; and as having “sat down at the right hand of

the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, in virtue of His accomplished

atonement (ch.8:1; 10:12). Nor would the Hebrew readers to whom the Epistle

was addressed be likely to understand καθαρισµὸν katharismonpurification

in any other sense than this. The verb καθαριζεῖν katharizein – purify -  is the

Septuagint equivalent for the Hebrew rh"mi, frequent in the Old Testament for

ceremonial cleansing, the result of atoning sacrifice; in which sense it is

accordingly used in ch. 10. of this Epistle. The theory of the Jewish

ceremonial law was that the whole congregation, including the priests

themselves, were too much polluted by sin to approach the holy God who

dwelt between the cherubim. Therefore sacrifices were ordained to make

atonement for them. The word for “making atonement for” (Greek, 

ἱλάσκεσθαι hilaskesthaimake reconciliation for; to be making a

propitiatory-shelter for) is in Hebrew rp"k;, which means properly “to cover;” i.e.

to cover sin from the sight of God. And the result of such atonement was

called “purification,” or “cleansing.” This appears clearly in Leviticus 16.,

where the ceremonies of the great Day of Atonement are detailed. After an

account of the various sacrifices of atonement, for the high priest and his

house, for the people, and for the holy place itself polluted by their sins, we

read (Ibid. v. 19), “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [i.e. the altar]

with his finger seven times, and (καθαριεῖ - kathariei - cleanse) it, and hallow it

from (τῶν ἀκαθαρσιῶν – ton akatharsion - the uncleanness) of the children of Israel.”

And finally (v. 30), “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to

cleanse you (καθαρισαι katharisai - cleanse), that ye may be clean from all your

sins before the Lord.” It is to be observed, further, that it is especially the meaning of

the ceremonial of the Day of Atonement that Christ is spoken of afterwards

in the Epistle as having fulfilled. For the phrase, ποιησάµενος καθαρισµὸν ἁµαρτιῶν

poiaesamenos katharismon hamartionpurged our sins; literally making cleansing

of sins, compare Job 7:21, ….διὰ τί οὐκ ἐποιήσω τῆς ἀνομίας μου λήθην καὶ

καθαρισμὸν τῆς ἁμαρτίας μου  - dia ti ouk epoiaeso taes anomies mou laethaen kai

katharismon taes hamartias mou - …why do you not pardon my disobedience

and take away mine iniquity? Its meaning in the Epistle may be that Christ, by

His death, brought into being and established A PERMANENT PURIFICATION

OF SINS“a fountain open for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1) —

in His blood, which is regarded as now ever offered at the heavenly mercy-seat

(ch. 9:12) and sprinkled on the redeemed below (Ibid. vs.14, 22). Thus the

distinction, observed above, between the atonement (ἱλάσµὸς hilasmos

propitiation), of sacrifice and its application for (καθαρισµὸς katharismos

cleansing) would be preserved (compare I John 1:7 and Revelation 7:14).

Sat down; i.e. entered on His inheritance of all things; not simply in the sense of

resuming His pristine glory, but of obtaining the preeminence denoted in prophecy

as appointed to the Son, human as well as Divine, and won by obedience and

accomplished atonement. And this His supreme exaltation (as will be seen

hereafter) carries with it the idea of an exaltation of humanity, of which He

was the High Priest and Representative. But be it observed that there is no

change in the subject; of the sentence. He who “sat down on high” after

making purification is the same with Him through whom the worlds were

made, and whose eternal Divinity has been expressed by the present

participles. On the right hand of the Majesty on high. The expression is taken

from Psalm 110:1, afterwards cited in this Epistle, and prominently referred to in

like manner by Paul. The figure is suggested by the custom of Oriental

kings, who placed at the right hand of the throne a son whom they

associated with themselves in the prerogatives of royalty. Occurring as it

does first in a Messianic psalm, the phrase is never applied to the Son’s

original relation to the Father “before the ages,” but only to his exaltation

as the Christ. The same idea seems expressed by our Lord’s own words,

“All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

But in the end, according to Paul (I Corinthians 15:24, 28), this peculiar “kingship”

of the SON will cease, the redemptive purpose being accomplished. It is to be

observed that, both here and afterwards (ch.8:1), a fine periphrasis is used for

righthand of God;” “the right hand of the Majesty on high” and “the right

 Hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” This may be regarded, not

only as characteristic of the eloquent style of the Epistle, but also as

implying an avoidance of too local or physical a view of the session spoken

of. It is apparent elsewhere how the writer sees in the figures used to

denote heavenly things only signs, level to our comprehension, of

CORRESPONDING REALITIES beyond our ken.

 

IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES GOD HAS SPOKEN TO MAN. “He spake

 He hath spoken.” We might expect God to speak because a revelation is necessary.

The world:

Ř      needs God,

Ř      perishes without Him, and

Ř      cries out after Him.

 

The world cannot find God; to the utmost earthly wisdom He is unknown.

God is a God of goodness and love; his works declare it; then God must reveal

Himself to man.

 

  • Scripture declares itself to be God’s voice. Christ and the apostles

affirm this of the Old Testament. You cannot believe in Christ without

accepting the Old Testament as an infallible declaration of the Divine will;

for so He accepted it. They also affirm this of their own teaching in the

New Testament: “We speak not in the words which man’s wisdom

teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”  (I Corinthians 2:13)

 

  • The effects of Scripture prove that this witness it bears to itself is true.

As the apostles proved their mission by “signs, and wonders, and divers

miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,” so does the Bible; that it is A

DIVINLY INSPIRED UTTERANCE is proved by Divine results. It:

Ř      meets the complicated needs of human nature,

Ř      satisfies the heart,

Ř      opens blind eyes,

Ř      casts out evil spirits,

Ř      transforms the character,

Ř      regenerates the world, and

Ř      turns the wilderness into paradise.

It does what only God can do; then God is in it.

 

IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WE HAVE GOD’S PERFECT UTTERANCE

TO MAN. “God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”

If God has spoken, His Word must be man’s ultimate authority.

 

Then find your creed in it, and base your life on it, making it in all matters the final

and authoritative court of appeal. It must be madness to oppose by  personal opinion

or expediency to what the Lord says.

 

  • Since God has spoken, irreverence and neglect of Scripture are man’s loss

and shame. “God hath spoken!”

Ř      Then with what solemnity should we listen to His voice;

Ř      with what constancy should we draw near to this temple

to hear His will; and

with what awe, taking our shoes from our feet, as on holy ground!

Think of God speaking, and no “Speak, Lord, for thy servant

heareth,” rising from our heart! Are you neglecting Scripture? Remember

God has no other voice after this; CHRIST IS HIS LAST APPEAL TO

MEN!  “Having, therefore, one Son, His well-beloved, he sent Him last

unto them, saying, They will reverence my Son.” (Matthew 21:37)

“God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son;”

to be deaf to that last appeal is to have GOD SPEECHLESS TO US

FOREVER!

 

Jesus as the Brightness of God’s Glory (v. 3)

 

  • THE GLORY OF GOD IS MANIFESTED TO MEN. Our relations of

dependence upon God are exalted by our perception of Him upon whom

we depend. It is not as if a hand stretched out of the unseen, laying before

us our daily bread, and then withdrawing itself, as if it concerned us

nothing to know the Giver provided only we got the gift. God is desirous

that we should both know him, the Giver, and as much of His glory as it is

possible for man to know. “The glory of God.” could not have been an

unfamiliar phrase to Hebrew Christians. The glory of Jehovah appeared to

the children of Israel just before the giving of the manna (Exodus 16:10).

Also on Mount Sinai, at the giving of the Law. Also when the

tabernacle was completed the glory of Jehovah so filled it that Moses was

not able to enter (Ibid. ch. 40:35). When Solomon built a house for

Jehovah, the glory of Jehovah so filled the house that the priests could not

stand to minister. (I Kings 8:10-11)  Consider also the crowns of Isaiah and

Ezekiel.  Every created thing has its glory, and though there are times when

that glory may be in retirement, yet there are other times when the glory

comes forth into full manifestation. How much more, then, must there be

a suitable and sufficient manifestation of THE GLORY OF GOD

HIMSELF!

 

  • THE FULL MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S GLORY IS IN JESUS.

The expression here, “brightness,” or rather “effulgence,” is in harmony

with all those numerous passages in which light is connected with the

revelation of God in Christ Jesus. The light which we see is but the

expression of an invisible existence behind it. We speak of the rays of the

sun; but what is the sun itself but condensed radiance? And so when we

come to Jesus and. think of the light streaming forth from Him upon human

ignorance, misery, and despair, we are reminded by the way in which He is

here spoken of that Jesus is not to be considered by Himself. By Him the

INVISIBLE is made VISIBLE. The love of the Father becomes a radiant,

communicable emotion in the incarnate life of the Son. All those bursts of

intolerable light which filled the tabernacle were but SYMBOLS OF THAT

TRUE LIGHT, the effulgence of the Divine glory, which lighteth every

man coming into the world, and which has dwelt among us in flesh as in a

tabernacle.  Blessed are those who can see this Divine effulgence, and discern

the difference between it and the effulgence of other lights. The dwellers in

the immediate district where Jesus had been brought up never thought of

explaining the wonders of His life by the fact that He was the ἀπαύγασµα

apaugasma – image; reflection of the Divine glory. Many thought it a

sufficient explanation to say that He was Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the

prophets. Consider in connection the words of Paul in II Corinthians 4:3-4),

where he speaks of the god of this world blinding the minds of unbelievers,

so that there should not shine unto them the illumination of the gospel of the

glory of Christ who is the Image of God; and then he goes on to speak of how

the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has shined in our

 hearts, to illuminate them with the knowledge of the glory of God IN THE

FACE JESUS CHRIST!  (Ibid. v. 6)

 

 

The Transcendent Glory of the Son of God (vs. 2-3)

 

“His Son, whom he hath appointed Heir of all things,” etc. The Divine Son,

the last and brightest revelation of God to man, is here set before us as

supremely glorious in several respects.

 

  • IN THE VASTNESS OF HIS POSSESSIONS. Whom he appointed

heir of all things.” Because He is the Son of God He is constituted Heir of

all things. The whole universe is His. “He is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:36)

“All things that the Father hath are mine;  (John 16:15)  “All mine are

 thine, and thine are mine?  (Ibid. ch. 17:10)  His lordship is universal.

His possessions are unlimited. His wealth is infinite.  What an

encouragement we have in this to trust in Him! “The unsearchable riches

of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8) are available for the supply of all who follow

Him.

 

  • IN THE GREATNESS OF HIS WORKS.

 

Ř      He is the Creator of all things. “By whom also he made the worlds.”

The innumerable worlds in the universe of God were made by the

Divine Son as the acting Power and personal Instrument of the

Father.   The universe, as well in its great primeval conditions — the

reaches of space and the ages of time, as in all material objects and all

successive events, which furnish out and people space and time, God

made by Christ. He “laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens

are the works of His hands.”  (Job 38:4; Psalm 104:5; Isaiah 48:13;

Epheisans 1:4) “All things were made by Him, and without Him was

not anything made that hath been made;” (John 1:3) In Him were

all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth,” etc. (Colossians

1:16). All creatures in all worlds were created by Him. Creation is a

revelation of HIS MIND and MIGHT! The glory of creation, rightly

understood, is the glory of the Creator — the Son of God.

 

Ř      He is the Sustainer of all things. And upholding all things by the word

of his power.” The universe which He created is upheld and preserved in

being by the expression of His almighty power. “In Him all things

consist;” (Ibid. v. 17) they are held together by Him. The universe is

neither self-sustaining nor is it forsaken by God. It is not a great piece

of mechanism constructed by the Creator, and then left to work of itself,

or to be worked by others. His almighty energy is always and everywhere

present in it. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17) 

How stupendous the conception that the boundless universe, with its

countless worlds and much more countless inhabitants, is constantly

sustained in existence and in beautiful order by the word which utters

HIS POWER!

 

Ř      He is the Savior from sin. He BY HIMSELF purged our sins;” (v. 3)

Revised Version, “He made purification of sins.” This does not mean

purification by the moral influence of His teaching and example. There is

a reference to the purifications of the Levitical law, by which ceremonial

uncleanness was typically removed. “According to the Law, I may almost

say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood

there is NO REMISSION.  (ch. 9:22)   He put away sin by the sacrifice

of Himself.”  (Ibid. v. 26)  In the atonement, in the gracious covering of

the guilt of sin, consists purification in the scriptural sense. So that an

Israelitish reader, a Christian Jew, would never, on reading the words

καθαρισµὸν ποιησάµενος katharismon poiaesamenoscleansing

making think on what we commonly call ‘moral  amelioration,’

which, if not springing out of the living ground of a heart reconciled to

God, is mere self-deceit, and only external avoidance of evident

transgression; but the καθαρισµὸς katharismos -  cleansing - which

Christ brought in would, in the sense of our author and his readers,

only be understood of that gracious atonement for ALL GUILT OF

SIN OF ALL MANKIND which Christ our Lord and Savior HAS

COMPLETED for us by His sinless sufferings and death; and out of

which flows forth to us, as from a fountain, all power to love in return,

all love to Him, our heavenly Pattern, and all hatred of sin which caused

His death.” This atonement is COMPLETED!  It admits of no repetition;

and nothing can be added unto it. “When he had made purification of

sins.”  The purification is finished, and it is perfect.  Thus we see that in

His works, as Creator, Sustainer, and Savior, our Lord is SUPREMELY

GLORIOUS!

 

  • IN THE DIVINITY OF HIS BEING. “Who being the Brightness of

His glory, and the express Image of His person; Revised Version, “the

effulgence of His glory, and the very Image of His substance.” These words

suggest:

 

Ř      That the Son is of one essence with the Father. That he

is one with God as having streamed forth eternally from the Father’s

essence, like a ray of light from the parent fire with which it is

 unbrokenly joined, is implied in the expression ἀπαύγασµα τῆς δόξης  -

apaugasma taes doxaes.  Let us not think of this glory as a material thing.

It is moral and spiritual. Moses prayed, “I beseech thee, show me thy

glory. And He said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee,” etc.

(Exodus 33:18-19). Beyond this, perhaps, it becomes us not to speak

of the glory of the Divine essence; it is mysterious, ineffable. Jehovah

said to Moses, “While my glory passeth by, I will put thee in a cleft of

 the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by,” (Ibid. v. 22)

(compare I Timothy 6:16).

 

Ř      That the Son is the perfect revelation of the Father. He is “the very

Image of His substance,” or essential being. The word χαρακτὴρ

 charaktaerimage -  signifies the impression produced by a stamp,

a seal, or a die. As the impression on the wax corresponds with the

engraving on the seal, so the Divine Son is the perfect likeness of

 the essence of the Father. Hence he said, “He that beholdeth me

beholdeth Him that sent me.” (John 12:45)  “He that hath seen me

hath seen the Father.”   (Ibid. ch. 14:9)  And Paul, “He is the Image

of the invisible God.”  (Colossians 1:15)

 

Ř      That the Son is personally distinct from the Father. As the impression

on the wax is quite distinct from the seal by which it was made, so the

figure suggests that our Lord is “personally distinct from Him of whose

essence He is the adequate imprint.”

 

  • IN THE EXALTATION OF HIS POSITION. Sat down on the right

hand of the Majesty on high.”

 

Ř      Here is a glorious position. “At the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

This is spoken of His exaltation as the Messiah and in His human nature,

after the completion of His work upon earth and His ascension into

heaven.  “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross,” etc.

(ch. 12:2). “Being in the form of God, he counted it not a prize to

be of an equality with God,” etc. (Philippians 2:6-11).

 

Ř      Here is the highest realm. “On high;” i.e. in heaven. “Christ entered,

into heaven itself” (ch. 9:24). Heaven, in Holy Scripture,

signifies… usually, that sphere of the created world of space and time,

where the union of God with the personal creature is not severed by sin,

where no death reigns, where the glorification of the body is not a mere

hope of the future. Into that sphere our Lord in His crucified but

now risen and glorified humanity has entered, and is enthroned “on the

right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made

subject unto Him” (I Peter 3:22).

 

Ř      Here is a waiting attitude. “Sat down.” “Sit thou on my right hand until

I make thine enemies thy footstool.”  (Psalm 110:1)  He is waiting for

all things to be subjected unto Him,  (I Corinthians 15:28) in the majestic

certainty of His triumph over all who shall oppose the advance of His

kingdom.

 

  • NOTE THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST AS THE PROPHET OF

THE CHURCH. This is to be seen in His superiority to all preceding

teachers who were sent by the Divine Spirit to make known the will of

God. He was the Son:

 

Ř      In His resemblance to His Fatherr in creative energy. “Without Him

was not anything made that was made.”  (John 1:3)

 

Ř      In resemblance of sustaining power, by which He upholds all law,

preserves all harmony in creation, and maintains all life, from the

highest seraphs to the humblest believers, and even to the lowest

forms of existence.

 

Ř      Resemblance in personal glory. Jesus Christ is the Brightness of the

Father’s glory, and the express Image of His person; the latter idea

drawn from the monarch’s portrait stamped upon golden coin. Such

words are the best human language supplies; and the treasures of these

Divine ideas are put in the earthen vessels of our speech (II Corinthians

4:7), and fall infinitely below the sublime reality. Our Lord’s condition

on the holy mount best illustrates the thought of His resemblance to the

glory of His Father, when the ineffable resplendence which streamed

from Himself appeared to add emphasis to the words, “He that hath

seen me hath seen the Father.”  (John 14:9)

 

Ř      Resemblance of power of enjoyment. He is to be “Heir of all things.”

Abraham was to be heir of the world; but here is a wider inheritance,

which no finite mind can ever grasp. Jesus Christ is to be the Heir of

all the results of His:

 

o       incarnation,

o       ministry, and

o       sacrifice.

 

He is to see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11)

and through eternal ages He will receive the gratitude and adoration

of a “NUMBER WHICH NO MAN CAN NUMBER!”   (The

question today is “Reader, Are you in that number of the saved of

the earth through all ages?  If not, I recommend How to Be Saved” –

# 5 – this web site – CY – 2014)  All judgment is committed to Him,

and on His head are many crowns.  (Revelation 19:12)

 

  • OBSERVE THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST AS THE PRIEST.

There is here a suggested contrast to priests of the Jewish Law. It is said

HE PURGED OUR SINS BY HIMSELF -  then He stands before us as

the One in opposition to the many who did not continue by reason of death.

Aaron, Eli, Zadok, and Joshua successively disappear. There is a contrast

Between other priests and our Lord, who did not offer victims, as sheep,

goats, lambs, and kids; BUT OFFERED HIMSELF THROUGH THE

ETERNAL SPIRIT!  (ch. 9:14)   There is unlikeness inasmuch as the

services of the ancient priests did not purify the conscience; but the sacrifice

of our Lord cleanses by faith from all sin, restores to the Divine favor,

and imparts the enjoyment of Christian hope.  There is a contrast between

the priests of the old Law in respect of dignity.  The ancient ministers of the

temple had to offer for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people

(ch. 7:27);  OUR LORD  was “holy, harmless, separate from sinners.”

(Ibid. v. 26) The descendants of Aaron had to minister in the holy of holies

when it was darkened by the smoke of sweet incense, and none dare to sit

down near the mercy-seat; but the Redeemer sits down “at the right hand

of the Majesty on high.” (ch. 1:3; 8:1)  Once more, the Jewish high priests

ministered for their own nation, while other populations in Egypt, Arabia,

and Syria had no share in their service; but our Lord is exalted, and sits a

priest upon His throne, and a multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and

people, and tongues enjoy the benefit and blessing of His ministry.

            (Revelation 21:24-26)

 

  • CONCLUSION.  In Him who made purification of sins let us trust as our

Savior, who is essentially Divine and  let us render the full homage of our

heart and life.

 

4 “Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance

obtained a more excellent name than they.” Having become by so much better

than the angels as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they (διαφορώτερον

παρ. αὐτοὺς diaphoroteron par autousmore excellent than they). (For the same

Greek form of comparison, see ch. 1:9; 3:3). This verse, though, in respect of

grammatical construction,  is the conclusion of the exordium, serves as the thesis

of the first section of the argument to follow, the drift of which is to show the

SON’S superiority to the angels. The mention of the angels comes naturally after

the allusion to Psalm 110., viewed and quoted as it is afterwards in connection

with Psalm 8., in which a little lower than the angels” is taken to denote the state

previous to the exaltation; and it is preparatory also for the argument that

follows. The more distinguished name, expressing the measure of

superiority to the angels, is (as the sequel shows) the name of SON,

assigned (as aforesaid) to the Messiah in prophecy, and so, with all that it

implies, “inherited” by Him in time according to the Divine purpose.

Observe the perfect, “hath inherited,” instead of the aorist as hitherto,

denotes, with the usual force of the Greek tense, the continuance of the

inheritance obtained. If we have entered into the view all along taken by

the writer, we shall see no difficulty in the SON being said to have become

better than the angels at the time of His exaltation, as though He had been

below them before. So He had in respect of His assumed humanity, and it is

to the SON denoted in prophecy to be humanly manifested in time that the

whole sentence in its main purport refers. As such, having been, with us,

lower than the angels, He became greater, the interposed references to His

eternal personality retaining their full force notwithstanding. But why

should the name of SON in itself imply superiority to the angels? Angels

themselves are, in the Old Testament, called “sons of God.” It has been

suggested that the writer of the Epistle was not aware of the angels being

so designated, since the Septuagint, from which he invariably quotes, renders

μylia, ynip] by άγγελοι angeloiangels.  But this is not so invariably. In

Genesis 6:2; Psalm 29:1; and 89:7, we find υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ - huioi tou Theou

sons of God.  And, whatever be the application of the words in each of these

passages, they at any rate occur in the Septuagint as denoting others than the

Messiah. Nor, in any case, would it be easily supposable that one so versed in

biblical lore as the writer must have been had been thus misled in so important

a point of his argument. The fact is that his argument, properly understood, is

quite consistent with a full knowledge of the fact that others as well as the

Messiah are so designated. For it is not merely the term “Son” as applied to

the Messiah in prophecy, but the unique manner in which it is so applied,

that is insisted on in what follows. The form of his commencement shows this.

He does not say, “Whom, except the Messiah, did He ever call Son?” but, “To

which of the angels did He ever speak as follows, Thou art my Son; this day

have I begotten thee?” In language generally the meaning of a word may

depend very materially on the context in which it occurs and other

determining circumstances. Indeed, the mere use of the title in the singular,

“my Son,” carries with it a different idea from its use in the plural of a class

of beings. But this is not all. A series of passages from the Old Testament

is adduced by way of expressly showing that the sonship assigned to the

Messiah carries with it the idea of a relation to God altogether beyond any

ever assigned to angels. Such is the position of the writer. We shall see in

the sequel how He makes it good.

 

 

The Glory of the God-Man (vs. 2-4)

 

So soon as the apostle mentions the “SON,” there spreads out before his mind a vast

expanse of the territory of revelation — the loftiest shining table-land of truth which

the Scriptures open to our gaze. Indeed, this sentence supplies a sublime basis for all

true Christology. It describes at once:

 

1.  the Redeemer’s essential glory as the preexistent One, and

2.  His mediatorial glory as the INCARNATE MESSIAH!

 

  • THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO GOD. The clauses

which speak of this solemnize us by their mystery, and dazzle us by their

splendor.

 

Ř      He is the Son of God. (v. 2.) “Son” is not merely an official title; it

designates the natural and eternal relation of the Second Person of the

Godhead to the First. Christ is God’s “only-begotten Son”His Son

in a sense absolutely unique, as implying SAMENESS OF ESSENCE

WITH THE FATHER!

 

Ř      He is the Manifestation of God. (v. 3.) The effulgence of His glory;”

i.e. Christ is an eternal radiation of splendor from the majesty of

THE ABSOLUTE JEHOVAH! He is “Light of [from] light.” The

rays which stream from the sun reveal the sun itself; so Christ is the

ever-visible radiance of THE UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT!  

We have but to look to Him  who is “the Word” for a display of

the attributes and perfections of Deity.

 

Ř      He is the Counterpart of God. (v. 3.) “The very image of His

substance,” i.e. the adequate imprint of His substantial essence. The

Shechinah in the tabernacle had not the personal form of God; but

the SON bears His real and perfect likeness. Christ has upon Himself

THE EXACT IMPRESS OF DEITY!  . He is the Father’s alter ego —

His very image. “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead

bodily.”  (Colossians 2:9)  So perfectly does the Son bear the impress

of God, that He could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the

Father.”  (John 14:9)

 

  • THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE.

What is said on this point proves His Deity, the very same acts and

prerogatives being elsewhere ascribed to God.

 

Ř      He is its Creator. (v. 2.) The life of the God-Man did not begin only

twenty centuries ago. He is Himself “the Beginning”  — the Alpha —

the Firstborn before every creature (Colossians 1:15-18). He made the

natural universe — every star that adorns the arch of night. He ordained:

 

o       all periods and dispensations (“ages”,)

o        all geological formations,

o       all historical eras, and

o       all economies of religion.

 

Ř      He is its Sustainer. (v. 3.) It is His fiat that holds the universe

together. “In Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).  On His

fingers hang the suns and systems of immensity. It is the Lord Christ

who adjusts and governs all the tremendous forces:

 

o       physical,

o       intellectual,

o       and spiritual,

 

which operate throughout creation. The pulses of universal life are

regulated by the throbbing of His mighty heart. He is the Soul of

providence, and the Center of history.

 

Ř      He is its Possessor. Whom He appointed Heir of all things.” (v. 2.)

As the Son of God, Christ received this appointment and gift in the

past eternity. As the God-Man, His Father has constituted Him, by

another deed of gift, THE MEDIATORIAL MONARCH OF THE

UNIVERSE!   The keys of death and of Hades hang at his girdle

(Revelatioin 1:18).  He is the Lord of angels. He has “authority over

all flesh” (John 17:2).  His own people are His peculiar inheritance —

the very jewels of His crown.  (I recommend Deuteronomy ch32 v9 –

God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this website – CY – 2014)

 

  • THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE CHURCH. The

Lord’s mediatorial honors have cast a new luster over even His original

renown.

 

Ř      He is its Prophet. (v. 2.) It is as the Teacher of the Church that the

writer introduces His name in this magnificent prologue. The eternal

“Logos” — the manifestation and counterpart of God — has become

“the light of the world.” When on earth He taught His followers by

Personal instruction; and now that He is in heaven, He enlightens the

Church by His Word and by the influences of HIS  SPIRIT!

 

Ř      He is its Priest. (v. 3.) Jesus is more than a teacher, and His gospel is

more than simply a philosophy. Mankind, being sinners, have not liberty

of access to God; we need some one to approach God on our behalf.

We require a priest, and an altar with a sacrifice on it, in order to the

“purification of sins.” Now, Christ is our Priest. He made

“purification” twenty centuries ago by His life in Palestine and His

death on Calvary. He accomplished a work of expiation — an

objective atonement. And the efficacy of His sacrifice is chiefly

due to the infinite dignity of His person as “the effulgence of God’s

glory, and the very image of His substance.”

 

Ř      He is its King. (v. 3.) This royalty is the reward of His work of

“purification.” Having made perfect satisfaction for human sin, he

ascended on high and sat down upon the throne of sovereign authority.

From the right hand of the Father, as the place of super-eminent

dignity and power, He rules His people by the might of His cross. The

“Heir of all things” is fully qualified to be the Head of the Church,

and Head over all for the advantage of the Church. The loftiest seraph

is immeasurably His inferior. Jesus has been raised as high above Michael

and Gabriel as He was eternally above them, and as He therefore inherited

a more illustrious name than they (v. 4).   In conclusion, why does the

apostle expatiate thus upon the greatness and glory of the Prophet of the

New Testament? Not merely because he delights to do so; but rather, also,

to attract our hearts to the love and worship and service of the Lord

Jesus, whose creatures we are, and to whom we belong by THE

PURCHASE OF HIS BLESSED BLOOD!

 

 

THE SON SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS.  (v.5- ch. 3:1)

 

Here the argumentation of the Epistle begins, the thesis of the

first section of the argument having been given, as aforesaid, in the

preceding verse, that “the SON is superior to the angels.” The second

section begins at ch. 3:1, the thesis being that “the SON is

superior to Moses.” Through angels and Moses the Law was given:

“Ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator” (Galatians 3:19),

the “mediator” being Moses. To show that the Son, in the Old Testament

itself, is represented as above both, is to show, what it is the main purpose

of the whole Epistle to establish, that the gospel, given through the SON, is

above the Law, and intended to supersede it. The conclusion is that the

gospel stands in the same relation to the Law as does the Son to angels,

who are but “ministering spirits,” and to Moses, who was but a “servant.”

With regard to the agency of angels in the giving of the Law, we do not

find it so evident in the Old Testament as might have been expected from

the references to it in the New. The “angel of Lord,” who appeared to

Moses (Exodus 3:2) and went before the people (Ibid. ch.14:19; 23:20, etc.),

seems in the earlier books of the Bible to signify a certain

presence and manifestation of the Lord Himself, rather than a created

minister of His will (see Genesis 16:7, 13; 22:15, 16; Exodus 3:2, 4;

23:20-21; compare Acts 7:31, 35, 38); and this has been identified by

theologians with the Word, not yet incarnate, through whom all Divine

communications have been made to men. It is to be observed, however,

that, after the sin of the golden calf, a distinction seems to be made

between the presence of the Lord with his people and that of the angel to

be thenceforth sent before them (Exodus 33:2-3). Ebrard sees in the

“angel of the LORD” generally, though understood as signifying a Divine

presence, a justification of the statement that the Law was given “through

angels,” on the ground that, though God did so manifest Himself, it was not

a direct manifestation, as IN THE SON,  but through forms borrowed from the

sphere of the angels. It was an angelophany, denoting an unseen Divine

presence, not a true theophany. The only distinct allusion to “angels,” in

the plural, in connection with the giving of the Law, is in Deuteronomy

33:2, “He came with ten thousands of saints;” with which compare Psalm

68:17. But there is no doubt that it came afterwards to be the accepted

rabbinical view that the dispensers of the Law were angels — whether as

attendants on the Divine Majesty, or as agents of the fiery phenomena on

Mount Sinai (natural operations being often attributed to angels), or as the

utterers of the voice that was heard.  And the writers of the New Testament

plainly recognize this view (see below, ch.2:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19).

Hence our author takes for granted that his readers will understand and

recognize it, and so implies it in his argument, expressing, as it does, a true

conception of the nature of the Mosaic dispensation, and especially of its

relation to the gospel. To resume our view of the argument that follows.

The first section (as aforesaid) is from ch. 1:5 to 3:1, having for

its thesis THE SUPERIORITY OF THE SON to angels.  The second section

is from ch. 3:1 to 5:1, having for its thesis THE SUPERIORITY OF THE SON

to Moses.   Each section consists of two main divisions, between which in each

case an appropriate exhortation is interposed; the first division in each case

treating of what the Son is in His own person, the second of His work for

man; and both sections leading separately to the conclusion that HE IS

THE HIGH PRIEST OF HUMANITY!   Then, in ch. 5, the subject of His

Priesthood is taken up. Ebrard happily illustrates the symmetrical plan of the

Argument thus: “The author, having thus been led from these two different

Starting points to the idea of the ἀρχιερεῖς archiereushigh priest, now

proceeds to place on the two first parts, which may be viewed as the pillars

of the arch, the third part, which forms the keystone.” In this third part it

begins to be shown, at ch.5:1, how Christ fulfilled in His humanity the

essential idea of priesthood. But, for reasons that will appear, the full doctrine

of His eternal priesthood is not entered upon till ch. 7:1 to ch.10:19, which may

be called the central portion of the whole Epistle. The remainder

(ch. 10:20 to the end) may be distinguished from the rest as being

the distinctly hortatory part (though hortation has been frequently

interposed in the argument), being mainly devoted to practical application

of the doctrine that has been established. The following plan of the

argument of the first two sections, showing the parallelism between them,

may assist us in entering into it as it proceeds:

 

SECTION I.

 

Thesis: Christ superior to the angels.

 

Division 1 (ch. 1:5-2:1).

The name SON, as applied to the typical theocratic kings, and in its final

reference and full meaning (as you all acknowledge) pointing to the

Messiah, expresses a position altogether above any assigned anywhere to

angels. The Son is represented as one associated with God in His majesty, a

sharer of His everlasting throne. Angels are referred to only as ministering

spirits or attendant worshippers at the Son’s advent.

 

Interposed exhortation (ch. 2:1-5). This being so, beware of not

appreciating THE REVELATION NOW GIVEN IN THE SON!

In transgression of the Law given through angels was so severely visited,

what will be the consequence of neglecting this, accredited to us as it has been?

 

Division 2 (ch. 2:5-3:1).

The Son also, but never angels, is denoted in prophecy as Lord of the

coming age. For Psalm 8 (based on and carrying out the idea of

the account in Genesis of the original creation) assigns a supremacy over

all created things to man. Man, as he is now, does not fulfill the ideal of his

destiny. But Christ, as Son of man, in His exaltation, does. And IN HIM man

attains his destined dignity forfeited through sin. His humiliation, suffering

and death were for the purpose of thus RAISING MAN.  His humiliation with

this and was a design worthy of God, and in accordance with the purport

of Messianic prophecy. For such prophecy intimates association and

SYMPATHY OF THE MESSIAH  with His human brethren. Thus Christ,

the SON, is THE SYMPATHIZING HIGH PRIEST OF HUMANITY!

 

 

SECTION II.

 

Thesis- Christ superior to Moses.

 

Division 1 (ch.3:1-7).

Moses is represented in the Old Testament as but a servant in the house of

God. The SON IS LORD OVER THE HOUSE!

 

Interposed exhortation (ch.3:7-4:1). This being so, beware of

hardening your hearts, like the Israelites under Moses. If they failed,

through unbelief, of entering into the rest offered to them, you may

similarly fail of entering into the rest intended for you.

 

Division 2 (ch. 4:1-5:1).

A rest, symbolized by that of the promised land, is still offered to you, AND

YOU MAY ENTER INTO IT!   Psalm 90 shows that the rest into which

Joshua led the Israelites was not the final one intended for God’s people.

The true rest is the rest of God himself (“ my rest,” Psalm 90.), spoken of

in the account of the creation — the sabbath rest of eternity. Christ, after

sharing our human trials, has passed into that eternal rest, and WON AN

ENTRANCE INTO IT FOR US!   Thus, again, a renewed exhortation being

interposed, Christ, the SON, IS AGAIN SET FOR AS THE SYMPATHIZING

HIGH PRIEST OF HUMANITY!

 

5 “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son,

this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father,

and He shall be to me a Son?”  For to which of the angels said he at any time.

Observe the form of the question, which has been already noticed. It is not, “

When were angels ever called sons?” but to this effect: “To which of them did He

ever speak (individually) in the following remarkable terms?” The first

quotation is from Psalm 2:7; the second from II Samuel 7:14. The

second having had undoubtedly a primary reference to Solomon, and the

first presumably to some king of Israel, probably to David, we may here

properly pause to consider the principle of the application of such passages

to Christ. It must be allowed that, not only in this Epistle, but in the New

Testament generally, sayings which had a primary reference to events or

personages in the past, are applied directly to Christ; and in some cases

where the justness of the application may not be to all of us at first sight

obvious.  But such applications are plainly not arbitrary. They

rest on a principle of interpretation which it is of importance for us to

understand. First, we may observe that the method was not originated by

the New Testament writers; it was one received among the Jews of their

time, who saw throughout the Old Testament anticipations of the Messiah.

This appears both from rabbinical literature and also from the New

Testament itself. For instance, the priests and scribes consulted by Herod

(Matthew 2:5) referred Micah 5:2 as a matter of course to the

Messiah; and the Pharisees (Matthew 22:44) never thought of disputing

the application of Psalm 110 to him. And not only so. The Old Testament

itself suggests and exemplifies such applications. For students of the

prophetic writings must be aware how utterances that had a primary

fulfillment in one age are sometimes taken up in a subsequent one as

though yet to be fulfilled, their scope enlarged, and their final reference

often thrown forward to “that day”the Messianic age — which alone

terminates the view of the later prophets. Now, it has been said, in

explanation of this mode of treatment, that prophecy often had a double

meaning, referring partly to one thing and partly to another; or several

meanings, with reference to several different things. But this way of putting

the matter is unsatisfactory. Bacon better hit the mark, when, in a well-known

passage in his ‘Advancement of Learning’ (bk. 2.), he spoke of

“that latitude which is agreeable and familiar unto Divine prophecies, being

of the nature of their Author, with whom a thousand years are but as one

day, and therefore are not fulfilled punctually at once, but have springing

and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages; though the height

or fullness of them may refer to some one age.” We may put it thus: It was

of the nature of prophetic inspiration to lift the seer above and beyond his

immediate subject to the contemplation of some grand ideal, which it

suggested to his vision, and more or less perfectly fulfilled. He has, for

instance, as the basis of his vision, a David, a Solomon, a Hezekiah, or a

Zerubbabel; he has as its framework the circumstances of his own time or

of the time near at hand; but we find his language, as he proceeds, rising far

above his vision’s original scope, and applicable to those comprised within

it only so far as they embody and realize the ideal which they represent to

his mind. Hence the taking up of old prophecies by succeeding prophets,

their enlargement and reapplication to new fulfillments; and this, too, in

terms transcending the reality of these new fulfillments; as, for instance,

when Isaiah, taking up the idea of Nathan’s message to David (II Samuel

7.), applies it apparently to a son and a reign to be looked for in his own

age, but at length in language which can have no other than a Messianic

reference (Isaiah 9:6, etc.; 11:1, etc.; compare Jeremiah 33:15). Hence,

lastly, the application in the New Testament of all such ancient utterances

at once to Christ, as being the final and complete fulfillment of the ideal of

prophecy, the true Antitype of all the types. A clear perception of this view

of the drift of prophecy will remove difficulties that have been felt as to the

application of many quotations from the Old Testament, in this Epistle and

elsewhere, to Christ. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; a

quotation from Psalm 2:7. This psalm is expressly quoted as David’s in

Acts 4:25, and has internal evidence of being his, and of having had

primary reference to his reign. For the mention of Zion (v. 6) precludes

an earlier date, while the circumstances of warfare alluded to do not agree

with the peaceful reign of Solomon, nor the picture of undivided empire

with any period after the secession of the ten tribes. Further, the rising and

consequent subjugation by David of subject races, described in II Samuel

8., presents to us a state of things very likely to have suggested the psalm;

and to this period of David’s reign it is usually referred with probability by

modern commentators. But the question of date and authorship is not

material to our view of the prophetic meaning of the psalm. Taking it to be

David’s, we find as follows: There is a rebellious confederation of subject

kings against the dominion of the King of Israel, who is spoken of as “the

Anointed” of the LORD. In view of their hostile preparations, the LORD

in heaven is conceived as laughing to scorn their devices against Him whom

He Himself had enthroned on Zion. Then the king speaks, “I will declare the

decree [or, ‘I will tell of a decree’]; the Lord said unto me, Thou art my

Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the

nations for thine inheritance, and for thy possession the ends of the earth.”

Then follows an admonition to the rebels to do homage to this SON,

submission to whom is submission to the Lord, and whose anger is as the

LORD’S anger. Now, it is evident that the language used transcends literal

application to any earthly king. Hence some commentators have been led

to suppose that it had no even primary reference to one, being simply

prophetic of the Messiah, though suggested by the circumstances of

David’s day. Thus Ebrard, supporting his view by the assumption (which is

usually made) of the message of Nathan to David (II Samuel 7:14)

being the “decree” referred to in the psalm, and the foundation of the

confidence expressed in it. He argues that it was not to David, but to his

posterity ([r"z,), that the position of sonship was assigned, and eternal

dominion promised; and hence that David in this psalm (which he considers

to have been certainly by him) must have been speaking, not in his own

name, but in that of his seed after him, looking adoringly forward to the

fulfillment of that glorious hope in the distant future (Ibid. v.19).

Thus, he concludes, the insurrection of the Syrians forms merely the

occasion, but not the object and import, of the second psalm. But, even if

the message of Nathan were certainly the basis of the idea of the psalm, we

find an instance of the express application of that message to David

himself; as well as to his posterity, in Psalm 89. (see vs. 20-28). It may

be, however, that the reference in the psalm is to some Divine intimation,

possibly to some prophecy or oracular utterance, delivered to David

himself at the time of the inauguration of his own sovereignty, and long

before Nathan’s message. In any case, it is in accordance with the genius of

prophecy, as above explained, that the words should have had a primary

reference to David himself, so far forth as he imperfectly fulfilled their

meaning (See II Samuel 23:5 – CY – 2014).  The main thing to be observed

is that they represent an ideal of sonship and unlimited sovereignty beyond

any that could, as a matter of fact, be considered as fulfilled in David. And this

view of its meaning, suggested by the psalm itself, is confirmed by the use made

of it in later Scripture. For it is evident that this psalm, together with the passage

from II Samuel 7. (to be cited next) is made the basis of a long series of

Messianic prophecies (compare  II Samuel 23:1, etc.; Psalms 110.; 89.; 132.;

Isaiah 7-9.; 11:1,10; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Micah 4.-5.; Zechariah 6:12, etc.).

Its application to Christ in the New Testament is distinct and

frequent (compare Acts 4:25; 13:33; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). As to the

phrase, “This day have I begotten thee,” there is a difference of view

among both ancient and modern expositors. The word “begotten”

(γεγέννηκά - gegennaekahave begotten) naturally suggests µονογενῆς -

monogenaesonly child, and is hence taken by some as referring to the

eternal generation of the Son; in which case it can have had

no application in any conceivable sense to the human type. “This day” has

also in this case to be explained as denoting the ever-present today of

eternity. So Origen, in a striking passage, “It is said to Him by God, to

whom it is always today. For God has no evening, nor (as I deem) any

morning, but the time which is coextensive with His own unbegotten and

eternal life is (if I may so speak) the day in which the Son is begotten, there

being thus found no beginning of His generation, as neither is there of the

day.” The main objection to it is the inapplicability of such a meaning of the

words, even in a subordinate sense, to David or any other king of Israel.

Alford, indeed, urges that this meaning agrees best with the context in the

Epistle, on the ground that the eternal being of the Son, having been stated

in the exordium, might be expected to be referred to in the proof. But this is

hardly to the point. The writer has now begun his argument from the Old

Testament, and is engaged in showing the idea involved in the term Son as

applied therein to the Messiah. This, therefore, and not what he has said

previously, is what we have to regard in our interpretation; and the most

obvious view of the phrase, as it occurs in the psalm itself, is to regard it as a

figure denoting forcibly the paternity of God;  compare Jeremiah 2:27,

“They say to the wood, Thou art my father; to the stone, Thou hast begotten me.”

It expresses the idea that the “Son of God” spoken of derives His existence as

such from Him, and not from human ancestry. Chrysostom, among the ancients,

understands the phrase as thus referring to the sonship assigned to the Messiah in

time, and not to His eternal being. This view being taken, “this day,” in reference

to the king, may mean the day of the “decree,” or that of his enthronement on

Mount Zion. In reference to Christ it has been variously understood of the

time of his incarnation, or resurrection, or ascension. If it be thought

necessary to assign any definite time to it in its application to Christ, the

view of its being the day of the resurrection is supported by such passages

as Colossians 1:18, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν prototokos ek ton nekron

the firstborn from the dead; and Romans 1:4, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν

δυνάµει ….ἐξ ἀναστάσεως  νεκρῶν tou horisthentos huiou Theou en dunamei

……ex anastaseos nekronAnd declared to be the Son of God with power…..

by the resurrection from the dead - compare Acts 2:30 and13:32, etc., “The

promise that was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto their

children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again: as it is also written in the second

psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” This last text, be it

observed, is almost conclusive against the eternal generation being

understood as referred to; as is also the application of the same text infra,

here ch. 5:5, where it is quoted in proof of Christ’s appointment to the

eternal priesthood. [“ The title of begetting is oft times in sacred language

to be measured, not by the scale of philosophers’ or naturalists’ dialect, but

of moral or civil language or interpretation. For they that are sons by

adoption only, or next heirs by reversion to a crown or dignity, are said to

be begotten of those which adopt them, or of whom they be the immediate

heirs or successors: and in this sense in the sacred genealogy (Matthew

1:12) Jeconiah is said to have begotten Salathiel. So that David upon his

own occasions (whether upon his anointing to the crown of Judah in

Hebron, or of Israel in Zion) might in the literal sense avouch these words

of himself, ‘I will preach the law whereof the Lord hath said unto me, Thou

art my son; this day have I begotten thee.’ For David to call the day of his

coronation, or of his designation to the crown of Judah, or of all Israel, his

birthday, or begetting of God, by whose special power and providence he

was crowned, is not so harsh as some haply would deem it that either

know not or consider not that it was usual in other states or kingdoms

beside Judah to celebrate two natales dies {birthdays}, two solemn nativities or

birthdays in honor of their kings and emperors: the one they called diem

natalem imperatoris, the other diem natalem imperii; the one the birthday

of the emperor when he was born of his natural mother, the other the

birthday of him as he was emperor, which we call the coronation day. The

reason might hold more peculiar in David than in any other princes,

because he was the first of all the seed of Abraham that took possession of

the hill of Zion, and settled the kingdom of Judah, prophesied of by his

father Jacob, upon himself and his posterity Thus Ego hodie genuite, with

submission of my opinion to better judgment, is a prediction typically

prophetical, which kind of prediction, as hath been observed before, is the

most concludent; and this one of the highest rank in that kind; that is, an

oracle truly meant of David according to the literal sense, and yet fulfilled

of Christ, the Son of God, by His resurrection from the dead, both

according to the most exquisite literal and the mystical and principally

intended sense” (T. Jackson’s ‘Works,’ bk. 9. Hebrews 31:6, 7, Oxford

edition, 1844, vol. 8. p. 411).] And again, I will be to Him a Father, and

He shall be to me a Son (II Samuel 7:14); from Nathan’s message to

David, which has been spoken of above. The words do not in themselves

express so unique a sonship as those used in the psalm; but, viewed in

connection with the psalm, with their own context, and with subsequent

prophecy, they suggest the same meaning. David had formed the design of

building a temple; Nathan, by the word of the Lord, forbids his doing so,

but tells him that his “seed” after him should build a house for the LORD’S

Name, and that the Lord would establish the throne of His kingdom for

ever.” Then comes the text, “I will be to Him a father, and he shall be to me

a son;” followed by, “If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod

of men ... but my mercy shall not depart away from him And thine house

and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall

be established for ever.” Now, there can be no doubt that there was a

primary and partial fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, who built the

temple after David’s death. He took it to himself, so far as it was applicable

to him, after his completion of the temple (I Kings 8:17, etc.). But it is

equally evident that its meaning could not be exhausted in him. The eternity

assigned to the throne of the kingdom points to a distant as well as an

immediate fulfillment, and the word translated “seed” (Hebrew, [r"z,),

though applicable in a concrete sense to an individual offspring (Genesis

4:25; I Samuel 1:11), is properly a collective noun, denoting

“posterity,” and thus naturally lends itself to a far-reaching application. The

consideration, however, of especial weight in support of such application is

that psalmists and prophets cease not to make this original promise the

basis of Messianic prophecy. See, not only Psalm 2., which may or may

not refer to it, but also Psalm 89, and 132., together with other passages

which have been referred to in connection with the second psalm. Thus we

may properly apply to this particular passage the view of the meaning of

prophecy which has been set forth in general terms above, according to

which we must regard Solomon, with respect to the sonship assigned to

him as well as to his kingdom and the house which he was to build, as but a

type and imperfect realization of a grand ideal to be in due time fulfilled.

 

 

The Exaltation of the Son of God above the Angels of God (vs. 4-5)

 

“Being made so much better than the angels,” etc. The angels of God are

great and exalted beings. Our Lord spake of them as “holy angels”

(Matthew 25:31). David said they “excel in strength” (Psalm 103:20).

Paul designates them “His mighty angels’ (II Thessalonians 1:7).

Deeds involving stupendous power are ascribed to them (Isaiah 37:36;

Acts 12:7-11). They are said to be “full of eyes,” to indicate their great

intelligence (Revelation 4:6, 8). They are represented as occupying a

most exalted position and. offering the highest worship (Isaiah 6:1-3).

In their ranks the highest order of created beings is to be found

(Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16). But our Lord is greater than the angels.

 

  • IN THE PRE-EMINENCE OF HIS NAME. “He hath inherited a more

excellent name than they.”

 

Ř      The pre-eminent name — the Son of God. This appears from v. 5,

“For unto which of the angels,” etc.? The first quotation is from Psalm 2,

which is generally regarded as Messianic. The second is from II Samuel

7:14, which is applicable primarily to Solomon, but principally to Him

Who is both “the Root and the Offspring of David.” (Revelation 22:16)

Angels are called “sons of God” in the sacred Scriptures (Job 1:6; 2:1;

38:7); so also are true Christians (John 1:12; I John 3:1-2). But to One

only is given the title THE SON OF GOD  even to “the only begotten

Son, which is in the bosom of the Father,” (John 1:18) and of whom

the Father speaks as “my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

(Matthew 3:17).  It is probable that in this name there is:

o       a depth of significance,

o       a height of dignity, and

o       a fullness of glory

of which at present we have little or no conception.

 

Ř      The acquisition of this name. “He hath by inheritance obtained” it.

“He hath inherited” it:

 

o       Because of His relation to the Father. It belongs to Him by His

very Being,  by virtue of His Divine filiations. Angels may be,

 in an inferior sense, the sons of God by creation; but they cannot

inherit that title, for this plain reason, that they are created, not

begotten; whilst our Lord inherits the ‘more excellent name,’

because He is begotten, not created.”

 

o       Because it was promised to Him in the Old Testament Scriptures;

as in the passages quoted in our text.

 

  • IN THE CORRESPONDING PRE-EMINENCE OF HIS NATURE.

Names and titles in the sacred writings, generally speaking, are neither

given for their euphony, nor are they merely complimentary, but they

express realities in the circumstances, or character, or calling of the person

to whom they are applied. This is especially the case in respect to THE

SON OF GOD!  The dignity of His titles is indicative of His essential

rank. He is called the Son of God because He is the Son of God in a

peculiar and exclusive sense. The name is indicative of His nature,

which is essentially Divine.

 

  • IN HIS CORRESPONDING PRE-EMINENCE AS MEDIATOR.

“Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath,” etc.; Revised

Version, “Having become by so much better than the angels,” etc. The

“having become” refers to the exaltation of our Lord in His humanity. In

like manner it seems to us that the “This day have I begotten thee” (Psalm 2:7)

refers to His resurrection from the dead. Paul certainly applied the words thus

(Acts 13:32-33). And he writes, God’s “Son, who was born of the

seed, of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of

God with power, by the resurrection of the dead, even Jesus Christ our

Lord.And John speaks of “Jesus Christ, the First-begotten of the

dead” (Revelation 1:5). We conclude, then, that “begotten” is used

figuratively, and that by it is intended the resurrection of Jesus Christ from

the dead, by which He was declared to be the Son of God with power, and

His exaltation to His mediatorial throne. And this brings us to our present

point, which the fourth verse teaches us, that the exaltation of our Lord

consequent upon the completion of His redemptive work upon earth is

commensurate with the exaltation of His essential nature; or, that His glory

as Mediator corresponds with the dignity of His name and nature.

Observe, that the κρείττων γενόµενος  - kreitton genomenosbeing

made better; becoming is not identical with the κεκληρονόµηκεν

 keklaeronomaekeninheritance; He enjoys the allotment -  but in proportion

 to it: the triumphant issue of His mediation is consonant to the glorious name

which is His by inheritance; but which, in the fullness of its present

inconceivable glory, has been put on and taken up by Him in the historical

process of His mediatorial humiliation and triumph.THE REDEMPTION

OF HUMANITY  was an undertaking beyond all human power, and

 transcending even angelic wisdom, love, and might. Its accomplishment

demanded THE RESOURCES OF THE GODHEAD!   Our Lord has

redeemed man in a manner worthy of Himself as Son of God (“by

Himself”), and His exaltation as Redeemer corresponds with the preeminence

of His transcendent Name. And more, this “exaltation must be conceived of as

belonging, not to His humanity only, but to the entire undivided person of

Christ, NOW RESUMING THE GLORY AND FULNESS OF THE

GODHEAD (John 17:5), and in addition to this having taken into the

Godhead the manhood, now glorified by His obedience, atonement, and

victory (see Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:6-9; Acts 2:36; I Peter 3:21-22).

The Son of God before His incarnation was Head over creation; but after His

work in the flesh He had become also Head of creation, inasmuch as His

glorified body, in which He triumphs sitting at God’s right hand, is itself

created, and is the sum and the center of creation.

 

  • CONCLUSION.  Let Christ’s  pre-eminence as Mediator inspire us with

confidence in Him as our Savior.  May His pre-eminence inspire us with

adoring reverence towards Him.

 

6  “And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He

saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” The most obvious translation

of the Greek here seems at first sight to be, “But whenever He [i.e. God] shall again

bring [or, ‘bring back’] the Firstborn into the inhabited world, he saith;” ὅταν

εἰσαγάγῃ - hotan….eisagagaewhen….He bringeth - denoting the indefiniteness of

future time, and the position of πάλιν palinagain - connecting it most

naturally with εἰσαγάγῃ.  If such be the force of πάλιν the reference must

be to the second advent; which, however, is not suggested by the context,

in which there has been no mention of a first advent, but only of the

assignation to the Messiah of the name of Son. This supposed reference to

a second advent may be avoided by disconnecting πάλιν in sense from

εἰσαγάγῃ, and taking it (as in the verse immediately preceding, and

elsewhere in the Epistle) as only introducing a new quotation. And the

Greek will bear this interpretation, though the order of the words (ὅταν δὲ

πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ), taken by themselves, is against it. The “Firstborn”

(πρωτότοκον prototokon - firstborn) is evidently the

Son previously spoken of; the word is so applied (Psalm 89:27) in a

passage undoubtedly founded on the text last quoted. The same word is

applied in the New Testament to Christ, as “the Firstborn among many

brethren,” “the Firstborn of every creature,” “the Firstborn from the dead”

(Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18). And the idea conveyed by

these passages may have been in the writer’s mind, and intended to be

understood by his Christian readers. But for the immediate purpose of his

argument he may be supposed to refer only to this designation as applied in

the Old Testament to the SON already spoken of. Thus the meaning may

be, “But, again, with reference to the time when He shall introduce this

SON, the Firstborn, into our inhabited world, He speaks thus of the

angels.” Or it may be, “But whenever He shall bring a second time into the

world the Firstborn who has already once appeared, He speaks thus of the

angels.” But the first meaning seems more suitable to the general context.

The force of the writer’s argument is the same, whichever view we take;

the point being that, at the time of the advent of the SON whatever advent

may be meant, the angels appear only as attendant worshippers. As to the

understood nominative to saith,” we may suppose it to be “God,” as in

v. 5. But it is to be observed that λέγει legeisaith - without an expressed

nominative, is a usual formula for introducing a scriptural quotation. The

question remains — What is the text quoted, and how can it be understood

as bearing the meaning here assigned to it? In the Hebrew Bible we find

nothing like it, except in Psalm 97:7, “Worship Him, all ye gods,” Authorized

Version; where the Septuagint has προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι θεοῦ -

proskunaesate auto pantes oi angeloi Theou - worship Him, all ye gods.  But in

Deuteronomy 32:43 we find in the Septuagint, though not in the Masoretic text,

προσκυνήσατεωσαν .......καὶ ἐνισχυσάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ  - kai

enischusatosan auto pantes angeloi Theou -  the very words, including the

introductory καὶ - kai - and,  which are quoted. Hence, the quotations in this

Epistle being mainly from the Septuagint, we may conclude that this is the

text referred to. It occurs towards the end of the Song of Moses, in connection

with its concluding picture of the LORD’S final triumph, in which the nations

are called upon to rejoice with His people, when He would avenge the blood

of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries, and make atonement

for (Greek, ἐκκαθαριεῖ  - ekkatharieiexpiation) His land and for His people.

Viewed in the light of later prophecy, this triumph is identified with that of the

Messiah’s kingdom, and is therefore that of the time of bringing “the Firstborn

into the world.” Compare Romans 15:10, where “Rejoice, ye Gentiles,” etc.,

from the same passage, is applied to the time of Christ. It is no objection to the

quotation that, as it stands in the Epistle, “the Firstborn,” though not mentioned

in the original, seems to be regarded as the object of the angels’ worship. The

passage is simply cited as it stands, the reader being left to draw his own

inference; and the main point of it is that the angels in “that day” are not,

like the Son, sharers of the throne, but only worshippers.

 

 

The Son of God the Recipient of the Worship of the Angels (v. 6)

 

“And again, when he bringeth in the First-begotten,” etc. This verse, as is

unquestionably one of the most difficult in the whole Epistle.” We have in it:

 

1.  An august relationship. “His First-begotten.” This title is appropriately

applied to the Son of God:

 

  1. Because He existed before all creatures. “He is the Firstborn of all

creation’ (Colossians 1:15); “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1)

  1. Because it was given to Him in prophecy. “I will make Him my

Firstborn,” etc. (Psalm 89:27).

  1. Because of His miraculous conception (see Matthew 1:18-25;

Luke 1:30-35).

      D. Because of His resurrection from the dead “He is the Firstborn from

the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). And it may well be

that in this place all these applications of the title are combined in setting

forth the unique and august relation of the Divine Son to the God and

Father.

 

2. A remarkable epoch. “And again, when He bringeth in the First-begotten

into the world.” There is much diversity of opinion as to what event in the

history of the Son of God is referred to here. Some take it as denoting the

resurrection of our Lord. Others, His second coming; others His incarnation.

It cannot be ‘a second bringing in of the Firstborn into the world’ that is here

spoken of, seeing that nothing has been said of a first.” This seems to us the

correctinterpretation. It is very significant that the heavenly intelligences should be

summoned to worship Him “even when He was entering upon his profound

self-humiliation.” The angel Gabriel foretold His birth (Luke 1:26), the

angel of the Lord announced it, and a multitude of the heavenly host

celebrated it in joyful worship-song (Ibid. ch.2:9-14). This introduction of

the First-begotten into the inhabited world is the greatest epoch in history.

Antecedent ages looked onward to it; subsequent ages date from it, and

have been influenced by it to a degree far surpassing human conception.

 

3. A significant command. “He saith, And let all the angels of God worship

Him.” Whether these words are quoted from Deuteronomy 32:43

(Septuagint) or >Psalm 97:7, or whether both passages were in the mind

of the writer, we shall not attempt to determine. To us it seems most

probable that he quotes from Deuteronomy. But we turn to the homiletic

suggestions of the quotation.

 

  • ANGELS WORSHIP, THEREFORE WORSHIP IS BECOMING IN

ALL INTELLIGENT BEINGS. Angels are the highest created beings. If

worship is necessary for them, it is necessary for those also who are less in

their faculties and lower in their positions, yet capable of reverent approach

to the Supreme Being. Man needs worship for the right and harmonious

development of his being. Without worship the highest powers of his

nature will decline and die for want of exercise, and its holiest possibilities

will not even be attempted. Moreover, since worship is appropriate and

becoming in the angels of God, it is not less so in his human creatures. No

attitude is more befitting in us than that of adoration.

 

  • ANGELS WORSHIP THE SON OF GOD, THEREFORE HE IS

WORTHY OF THE WORSHIP OF ALL INTELLIGENT BEINGS.

We make this statement on the following grounds:

 

Ř      Angels, by virtue of their intelligence, are capable of estimating

His claims to their worship.

Ř      Angels, because of their holiness, would not pay their worship to one

who was not worthy of it. Hence, in worshipping the First-begotten

of the Father, they are an example to us. Their worship attests

HIS WORTHINESS!

 

  • “ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP” THE SON OF GOD,

THEREFORE HE IS WORTHY OF THE WORSHIP OF EVEN

THE HIGHEST CREATURES. Angels even of the highest rank

worship Him (Isaiah 6:1-3; I Peter 3:22; Revelation 5:11-14). Hence

 we infer that the most intelligent, the wisest, the mightiest, the most

exalted of men should worship Him. (Jeremiah 9:23-26)

 

  • ANGELS ARE UNDER OBLIGATIONS TO WORSHIP THE SON

OF GOD, BUT MAN IS UNDER MORE AND MIGHTIER

OBLIGATIONS TO WORSHIP HIM. Angels are commanded to worship

Him. “He saith, Let all the angels,” etc. They worship Him because of what

He is in Himself; because He is essentially Divine, and supremely, infinitely

perfect — “ the effulgence of the Father’s glory,” etc. They worship Him

also because of what He is in relation to them. He is their Creator and

Sustainer. These reasons for worshipping the Son apply to us as much as

to these heavenly intelligences; and, in addition to these, we are impelled to

worship Him by a motive more tender in its character and more mighty in

its constraining force than any of these. HE IS OUR SAVIOUR!  He gave

Himself for us. He died for us. He redeemed us with His own precious blood.

And now He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” How sacred and strong,

then, are the obligations which bind us to worship Him! Worthy is the

Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power,” etc. (Revelation 5:12);

(I recommend Agnus Dei by Michaels Smith on You Tube on the web –

CY – 2014)  O come let us sing unto the Lord,” etc. (Psalm 95:1-7)

 

7  “And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His

ministers a flame of fire.”  A further intimation of the position assigned in the

Old Testament to angels, contrasted by means of µὲν – men – indeed  and δὲ -

de - yet  with further quotations with reference to the SON. A difficulty has

been felt with regard to this passage (cited, as usual, from the Septuagint) on

the ground of the original Hebrew being supposed not to bear the meaning

assigned to it. Hence the writer of the Epistle is said to have made use of

an erroneous rendering for the purpose of his argument. Certainly the

context of Psalm 104, in which God is represented as arraying Himself in the

glories and operating through the powers of nature, suggests no other

meaning than that He uses the winds as His messengers, etc., in the same

poetical sense in which He was said in the preceding verse to make the

clouds his chariot; compare Ibid.ch. 148:8, Fire and hail, snow and vapors,

stormy wind fulfilling His word.” If so, there is no necessary reference in

the original psalm to angels. But it is to be observed, on the other hand,

that the structure of Ibid. ch. 104:4 is not in the Hebrew identical with that

of “He maketh the clouds His chariot” in v. 3, and hence, in itself, suggests

some difference of meaning. For:

 

(1) a different verb is used; and

(2) the order of the accusatives following the verb is reversed; in both

which respects the Septuagint correctly follows the Hebrew.

 

In v. 3 the verb is μwc (in the Septuagint.), the primary meaning of which is

“to set,” “to place,” and, when followed by two accusatives as object and

predicate, denotes” to constitute or render a person or thing what the predicate

expresses.” In v. 4 the verb is hc;[; ( ποιῶν – ho poion – He maketh - in the

Septuagint), the primary meaning of which, when used actively, is “to form,”

“to fabricate.” It is used of God making the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:7,

16; 2:2, etc.). When elsewhere, as here, it is followed by two accusatives, one

of them (which may come either first or second in order) is found to denote

the material out of which anything is formed. Thus Exodus 38:3, “He

made all the vessels (of) brass” (compare Ibid. ch.30:25; 36:14; 37:15, 23).

Hence an obvious meaning of v. 4, so far as the mere language is

concerned, would be, “He maketh [or, ‘formeth’] His messengers [or,

‘angels’] of winds, and His ministers of a flaming fire.” (Winds certainly,

not spirits, because of the context. But here the Greek πνεύµατα  - pneumata

spirits is, in itself, as ambiguous as the Hebrew twOjWr and was as probably

meant to denote winds.) According to this rendering, the meaning of the verse

would seem to be that, out of the natural elements of wind and fire, some

special agencies are called into being or operation; not simply that winds

and fire generally are used for God’s purposes. The change of phraseology

between vs. 3 and 4 (Psalm 104) certainly suggests some change in the idea

of the psalmist. What, then, are these agencies? What is meant by the

“messengers” and “ministers” connected with the elements of wind and

fire? The author of the Epistle (and probably the Septuagint too, though the

words ἄγγελοι (angels) and λειτουργοι leitourgoiministers  are, in themselves,

as ambiguous as the Hebrew) saw in these words a reference to the angels, who

are denoted by the same two words in Psalm 103:20-21, and who are undoubtedly

spoken of elsewhere in the Old Testament as operating in the forces of

nature (as in the death of the Egyptian firstborn, the pestilence in the time

of David, and the destruction of Sennacherib’s army), and seem, in some

sense, to be identified with the winds themselves in Psalm 18:10, “He

rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the

wind;” and in Psalm 35:5, “Let them be as chaff before the wind; and

let the angel of the LORD chase them.” We say that the Septuagint, as well as

the author of the Epistle, probably intended to express this meaning. It is,

indeed, more than probable; for, ambiguous as may be the words ἄγγελοι

and λειτουργοι in themselves, the structure of the Greek sentence (in

which “His angels” and “His ministers” are the objects, arid “winds” and

“flames of fire” the predicates), seems to necessitate this meaning, which is

further probable from what we know of Alexandrian angelology. It may

thus well be that, whether or not the Septuagint (rendering, as it does, the

Hebrew word for word) gives the exact force of the original phrase, it hits

its essential meaning, as intimating angelic agency in nature. And the

learned Jews of Alexandria, followed as they are by the later rabbis

generally, and by the writer of this Epistle, were, to say the least, as likely

to understand the Hebrew as any modern scholars. The question, however,

is not, after all, of great importance. For let us grant that the writer of the

Epistle unwittingly adduced an erroneous rendering in the course of his

argument. What then? It is not necessary to suppose that the inspiration of

the sacred writers was such as to enlighten them in matters of Hebrew

criticism. If it guarded them from erroneous teaching, it was sufficient for

its purpose. And in this case the passage, as cited, at any rate expresses

well the general doctrine of the Old Testament about angels, viz. that,

unlike the Son, they are but subordinate agents of the Divine purposes, and

connected especially with the operations of nature. It is to be observed,

too, that the quotations generally in this Epistle are adduced, not as

exhaustive proofs, but rather as suggestive of the general teaching of the

Old Testament, with which the readers are supposed to be familiar.

 

In vs. 8-13, we have two more quotations from the psalms with reference to the

SON adduced in contrast.

 

8 “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:

a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.  9  “Thou hast

loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God,

hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

But unto the Son He saith. The preposition here translated “unto” is

πρὸς – pros -  as in v. 7, there translated “of.” As is evident from its use

in ver. 7, it does not imply of necessity that the persons spoken of are

addressed in the quotations, though it is so in this second case. The force

of the preposition itself need only be “in reference to.” The first quotation

is from Psalm 45:6-7. The psalm was evidently written originally as an

epithalamium on the occasion of the marriage of some king of Israel to

some foreign princess. The general and probable opinion is that the king

was Solomon. His marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter may have been the

occasion. The view taken by some, that the psalm had no original

reference to an actual marriage, being purely a Messianic prophecy,

is inconsistent both with its own contents and with the analogy

of other Messianic psalms (see what was said on this head with reference

to Psalm 2.). Those who enter into the view of Messianic prophecy that

has been given above, will have no difficulty in perceiving the justness of

the application of this psalm to Christ, notwithstanding its primary import.

Like Psalm 2, it presents (in parts at least) an ideal picture, suggested only

and imperfectly realized by the temporary type; an ideal of which we find

the germ in II Samuel 7., and the amplification in later prophecy. Further,

the title, “For the precentor” (“ To the chief musician,” A.V.), shows that

the psalm was used in the temple services, and thus, whatever might be the

occasion of its composition, was understood by the Jews of old as having

an ulterior meaning. (I recommend Psalm 45 – this website – by Charles

Haddon Spurgeon – as all the Psalms on this site are taken from his

Treasury of David – CY – 2014)  Further, there is possibly a

reference to the psalm as Messianic in Isaiah 61:1-3, where “the

Servant of Jehovah,” “the Anointed,” gives the “oil of gladness” for

mourning; and in (Ibid. ch.9:6, where the words of the psalm, “God” (45:6)

and “mighty” (v. 3) are compounded for a designation of the Messiah; also in

Zechariah 12:8, where it is prophesied that in the latter days “the house

of David” shall be “as God.” The Messianic interpretation is undoubtedly

ancient. The Chaldee paraphrast (on v. 3) writes, “Thy beauty, O King

Messiah, is greater than that of the sons of men.” Thy throne, O God, is

for ever and ever. Attempts have been made to evade the conclusion that

the king is here addressed as “God,”

 

(1) by taking the clause as a parenthetic address to God Himself;

(2) by regarding “God” as appended to “throne,” or as the predicate of the

     sentence; i.e. translating either “Thy throne of God is,” etc. (according to

     the sense of I Chronicles 29:23, “Solomon sat on the throne of the

     LORD as king”), or “Thy throne is God [i.e. Divine] for ever and ever.”

 

As to:

 

(1), the context repudiates it. As to

(2), it is a question whether the Hebrew is patient of the supposed

      construction.

 

At any rate, “God” is understood as a vocative in the Septuagint

as well as in the Epistle, in which the Septuagint is quoted (for the use of the  

nominative form, θεός – ho TheosGod - , in a vocative sense, compare

Luke 18:11, 13; Matthew 27:29; Mark 9:25; Luke 8:54; 12:32);’ and in the

Chaldee paraphrase, and all ancient versions, it is understood so also.

Probably no other interpretation would have been thought of but for the

difficulty of supposing an earthly king to be thus addressed. It is to be

observed, however, that the other rendering would express essentially the

same idea, and be sufficient for the argument. In either case the throne of

the SON is represented as GOD’S THRONE, AND ETERNAL!  . The only

difference is that the vocative rendering makes more marked and manifest the

ideal view of his subject taken by the psalmist. For it is most unlikely that a bard

of the sanctuary, a worshipper of the jealous God of Israel, would have so

apostrophized any earthly king except as prefiguring “a greater than

Solomon” to come. It is true that kings are elsewhere called “gods” in the

plural (as in Psalm 82:6, referred to by our Lord, John 10:35); but

the solemn addressing of an individual king by this title is (if the vocative

rendering be correct) peculiar to this psalm. The passage (I Samuel 28:13)

adduced in abatement of the significance of the title, where the

apparition of Samuel is described by the witch of Endor as “Elohim

ascending out of the earth,” is not a parallel case. The word Elohim has a

comprehensive meaning, depending on context for its precise significance.

If vocatively used in a solemn address to a king sitting upon an everlasting

throne, it surely implies the assigning of Divine honors to the king so

addressed. In this case still more is implied than in Psalm 2., where the

King is spoken of as God’s Son, enthroned on Zion, the Son being here

addressed as Himself “Elohim.” It may be that the inspiring Spirit suggested

language to the psalmist beyond his own comprehension at the time of

utterance (see II Peter 1:10-11). It may be added that the ultimate

Messianic reference of the expression is confirmed by Isaiah 9:6, where

the title El-Gibber (Mighty God,Authorized Version) distinctly used of God

Himself in Ibid. ch.10:21 (compare Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18;

Nehemiah 9:32; Psalm 24:8), is applied to the Messiah. A scepter of righteousness

is the scepter of thy kingdom. In this and the following clause is expressed

the important idea that the ideal throne of the SON is founded on

RIGHTEOUSNESS,  whence comes also His peculiar unction with “the oil of

gladness.” Only so far as Solomon or other theocratic kings exemplified

the Divine righteousness, did they approach the ideal position assigned to

the Son.  Compare the latter part of v. 14 in the original promise, II Samuel 7.,

and especially II Samuel 23:3, etc., in the “last words of David.” Observe

also the prominence of the idea in Psalm 72. and in later prophecy (compare

Isaiah 9:7; 11:2, etc.). Therefore, God, even thy God. The first “God

here may be again in the vocative, as in the preceding verse, or it may be as

the Authorized Version takes it (compare Psalm 43:4; 50:7). Hath anointed thee

with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. The primary reference is, not to the

king’s coronation (as in Psalm 89:20), but to unction as symbolical of

blessing and joy, connected with the custom of anointing the head at feasts

(compare Deuteronomy 28:40; Psalm 23:5; 92:10; Song of Solomon 1:12;

Matthew 6:17). Thy fellows,” in its original reference, seems most naturally to

Mean “thy associates in royalty,” “other kings;” compare Psalm 89:27, “I will

make Him my Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” Or it might mean

the companions of the bridegroom, the παρανύµφιοι paranumphioi.   The latter

reference lends itself readily to the fulfillment in Christ, the Bridegroom of the

Church, whose παρανύµφιοι the redeemed are; themselves also being,

after their measure, χρῖστοι christoi - anointed (compare I John 2:20, 27).

But they are also made “kings and priests unto God” by Christ (Revelation

1:6; 5:10); so that either of the supposed original references may be shown to

be typical, if it be thought necessary to find a definite fulfillment of all the

details of the address to the theocratic king. The view that in the fulfillment the

angels are to be understood as Christ’s µετόχοι metochoipartners -  is

inadmissible. There is nothing in the psalm to suggest the thought of them,

nor does the way in which they are contrasted with the SON in this chapter

admit of their being here spoken of as His µετόχοι. Men, in the next chapter,

are so spoken of.

 

 

 

The Son and the Angels (vs. 7-9)

 

“And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels,” etc. Here are two

quotations from the Psalms; the first from Psalm 104:4, the second

from ch. 45:6-7. Whether the latter Psalm applied primarily to

Solomon or any other king of ancient Israel or not, it seems to us quite

clear that it applies to the ideal King, the Messiah. Our text presents

additional illustrations of the great superiority of the Son to the angels.

 

  • THE ANGELS ARE MESSENGERS OF GOD, THE SON IS

HIMSELF GOD. They are messengers who execute His behests. His

angels do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word”

(compare Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26). But the Son is called God by the

Father. “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”

Since God the Father thus addresses Him He must really be God; for He

calls persons and things by names which correspond to their natures. There

is a wide interval between the most honored messenger and the only

begotten Son and Heir of the Father, between the highest of created beings

and the uncreated God.

 

  • THE ANGELS ARE SERVANTS, THE SON IS THE SOVEREIGN.

They are “His ministers.” They serve Him swiftly and joyfully. All their

service is religious in its spirit. Their work is indeed worship. But, however

important the nature of their service, however exalted its spirit, however

perfect its performance, they are still servants and subjects. But the Son is

the Sovereign. The Father saith unto Him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever

and ever,” etc. The throne and scepter are symbols of royal authority. “All

authority hath been given unto me,” said our Lord, in heaven and on

earth;”(Matthew 28:18) “I sat down with my Father in His throne;”

(Revelation 3:21)  “His kingdom ruleth over all.”

 

  • THE ANGELS SERVE IN THE PHENOMENA AND FORCES OF

NATURE, THE SON REIGNS RIGHTEOUSLY IN A SPIRITUAL

EMPIRE. “Who maketh His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of

fire.” These words are variously interpreted. Dean Perowne (on Psalm

104:4) says, “He clothes His messengers with the might, the swiftness, the

all-pervading subtlety of wind and fire.” Alford’s exposition is different:

“He makes His messengers winds, i.e. He causes His messengers to act in or

by means of the winds; His servants flames of fire, i.e. commissions them to

assume the agency or form of flame for His purposes.” And Ebrard:

“Throughout the New Testament (for example, Romans 8:38; I Peter 3:22)

the angels, at least a class of them, are regarded as δυνάµεις  - dunameis

powers - of God, i.e. as personal creatures furnished with peculiar powers,

through whom God works wonders in the kingdom of nature, and whom He

accordingly makes to be storm-winds and flames of fire,’ in as far as He lets

them, so to speak, incorporate themselves with these elements and

operations of nature. It is a truth declared in the Holy Scriptures of great

speculative importance, that the miracles of nature, for example the

lightnings and trumpet-sounds on Sinai, are not wrought immediately and

directly by God, the Governor of the world, but are called forth at His will

by exalted creatures specially qualified for this work. This position the

angels hold; they are there to work terrible wonders in the sphere of nature

before the eyes of a yet uncultivated people.” But the relation of the Son to

man is spiritual, and His rule is supremely righteous. The eighth verse gives

us three ideas concerning his government.

 

Ř      It is perfectly righteous. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of

thy kingdom.”

 

o       His rule over man as an individual is righteous. All His

requirements are IN HARMONY WITH and TEND TO

PROMOTE OUR WELL BEING!   In keeping His

commandments “there is great reward.”  (Psalm 19:11)

 

o       His rule over man in His social relations is righteous. What

could be more equitable or more wise than the great rule

laid down by our Lord for the regulation of our conduct

toward each other? All things whatsoever ye would

that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

(Matthew 7:12)

 

o       His rule over man in his relations to God is righteous.

He requires us to obey, reverence, and love God. Is it

not reasonable and equitable that the most excellent and

gracious Being should be loved? that the greatest and

most glorious Being should be reverenced? that our

Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign should be obeyed?

“The Law is holy, and the commandment is

holy and just; and good.”   (Romans 7:12)

His reign is not only equitable, but benevolent.

 

Ř      It is perfectly righteous because of His love of righteousness. He reigns

in uprightness, not as a matter of policy, but of principle; this grand

feature of His government springs from Hhis own infinite affection

for righteousness, and the perfect righteousness of His character.

“Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;” (v. 9)

“The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.”  (Psalm 11:7)

 

Ř      It is perpetual because it is perfectly righteous. “Thy throne, O God, is

for ever and ever.” (v. 8)  His reign is eternal because it is equitable.

“The throne is established by righteousness.” Earthly

 

 “Empires wane and wax,

                                             Are founded, flourish, and decay.”

 

But of the increase of his government and peace there shall be

no end,” etc. (Isaiah 9:7). “He shall reign over the house of Jacob

for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  (Luke 1:33)

 

  • THE JOY OF THE ANGELS IS MUCH INFERIOR TO THAT OF

THE SON. “Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of

gladness above thy fellows” (v. 9).  Notice:

 

Ř      The nature of this anointing. “Anointed thee with the oil of gladness.”

This anointing does not indicate the inauguration of our Lord to His

mediatorial office. The figure is taken from the custom of anointing

the head of the guests at festivals (Psalm 23:5), and is intended to

set forth the supreme joy of the Son upon the completion of

HIS REDEMPTIVE WORK and His exaltation to “the right

hand of the Majesty on high.”

 

Ř      The reason of this anointing. “Thou hast loved righteousness,

and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee.”

Because of the perfection of His character, and of His life and

work upon earth, the Father has blessed Him with supreme joy.

 

Ř      The extent of this anointing. “Above thy fellows,” or associates.

Since the design of the writer is to exhibit the superiority of the Son

to the angels, we must, I think, take µετόχους metochousfellows;

pardners - as representing other heavenly beings, partakers in the same

glorious and sinless state with Himself, though not in the strict sense

His ‘fellows.’”  His joy is deeper, higher, greater, intenser than that of

any angel. Behold, then, how much greater is the Son than the angels

n all the points which have come under our notice!

 

10  “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the

earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:” 11 “They shall perish;

but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;”

12  “And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be

changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning, etc. The bearing of

this quotation (from Psalm 102:25-27) on the argument in hand is not

at first sight obvious; since, in the psalm, the address is plainly to God,

without any mention of, or apparent reference to, the Son. The psalm is

entitled, “A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth

out his complaint before the LORD.” It seems likely, from its contents, to

have been written by some suffering saint during the Babylonian captivity:

for its purport is a prayer, rising into confident expectation for deliverance

from a state of deep affliction, Israel being in captivity and Jerusalem in

ruins. The prayed-for and expected deliverance, portrayed in vs. 16-24,

corresponds so closely, both in thought and expression, with that pictured

in the latter chapters of Isaiah (beginning at ch. 40.),that we cannot

hesitate in assigning the same meaning to both. There is, for instance, the

looking down of the Lord from. heaven to behold the affliction of His

people (compare Isaiah 63:15); the setting free of captives (Ibid. ch.

42:7; 61:1); the rebuilding and restoration of Zion, and in connection with

this the conversion of the Gentiles to serve the Lord) with Israel (Isaiah

40. — 66.; and especially ch.59:19; 60:2). These are specimens of

the general correspondence between the two pictures, which must be

evident to all who have studied both. But the ultimate reference of Isaiah’s

prophecy is certainly Messianic: wherefore that of the psalm may be

concluded to be the same. And thus we have made one step in explanation

of the applicability of this quotation to the argument of the Epistle in

confirming its ultimate reference to the Messiah’s advent; to the final

realization of the ideal of the Son, typified by theocratic kings. But we have

still to account for the apparent application to the Son of what, in the

original psalm, shows no sign of being addressed to Him. One view is that

there is no intention in the Epistle of quoting it as addressed to Him, the

phrase, πρὸς  τὸν υἱόνpros ton huionunto the son (as has been seen) not of

necessity implying such intention. According to this view, the point of the

quotation is that the Messianic salvation is made to rest solely on the eternity

and immutability of God — of Him who, as He created all at first, so, though

heaven and earth should pass away, remains unchanged. And the character of the

salvation, thus regarded, is conceived to carry with it the transcendent

super-angelic dignity of its accomplisher, the SON. So, in effect, Ebrard,

who dwells on this as one example of the general character of apostolical

exegesis, as opposed to rabbinical, in that, instead of drawing inferences,

often arbitrary, from isolated words or phrases, the apostolic interpreters

draw all their arguments from the spirit of the passages considered in their

connection and this with a depth of intuition peculiar to themselves. Other

commentators consider it more consistent with both the context and the

argument to see, in the Epistle at least, an intended address to the SON. If

this be so, our conclusion must be that this application of the psalmist’s

words is the inspired writer’s own; since it is certainly not apparent in the

psalm. It by no means follows that the writer of the Epistle foisted,

consciously or unconsciously, a false meaning into the psalm. Even apart

from the consideration of his being an inspired contributor to the New

Testament canon, he was too learned in Scripture, and too able a reasoner,

to adduce an evidently untenable argument. He may be understood as

himself applying the passage in a way which he does not mean to imply

was intended by the psalmist. His drift may be, “You have seen how in

Psalm 45. the Son is addressed as God, and as having an eternal throne.

Yea, so Divine is He that the address to the everlasting God Himself in

another psalm prophetic of His advent may be truly recognized as an

address to Him.” Whichever view we take of this difficult passage, this at

any rate is evident — that the inspired writer of the Epistle, apart from the

question of the relevancy of quotation in the way of argument, associated

CHRIST in his own mind with THE UNCHANGEABLE CREATOR OF

ALL THINGS!

 

 

The Son and the Universe (vs. 10-12)

 

“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation,” etc. The

main subject of the writer is still the same — the superiority of the Son to

the angels; and he here adduces further proofs of His superiority by setting

forth the relations of the Son to the universe, in words which he quotes

from Psalm 102:25-27.

 

  • THE SON IS THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. “Thou, Lord, in

the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are

the works of thy hands.” Notice here:

 

Ř      His existence before the universe. In the beginning He laid the

foundation of the earth. When was that? Six thousand years ago? Nay,

millions of years ago. The expression takes us “back to the fathomless

abyss of ages of ages.” Yet the existence of the Son takes us back

beyond that, to us, incomprehensibly remote period. As the artist

must have existed before the picture which he painted, and the architect

before the edifice which he designed, so the Son existed before the

universe which He made. “His goings forth have been from of old,

from everlasting.”  (Micah 5:2)

 

Ř      His agency in the creation of the universe. He “laid the foundation of

the earth,” etc. (v. 10)  The heavens and the earth have not always existed;

they had a beginning. They were not self-originated, but were made by

Another.  In the strict sense of the word, they were created by OUR

LORD!   He did not merely arrange or form the heavens and the earth

out of pre-existent materials; He created them. He “laid the foundation.”

He began at the beginning, etc.

 

  • HE PRESIDES OVER THE CHANGES OF THE UNIVERSE. “They

all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them

up, and they shall be changed.” (vs. 11-12)  Changes are ever going on in the

universe.  Spring with its fresh and youthful beauty passes into the glowing

and gorgeous summer, etc. There are changes in the earth and in the seas.

Even the mountains, which seem so stable and immutable, are subject to

change.  Suns and stars also are mutable. The heavens and the earth are

growing old; they have had their infancy and. youth, etc. These changes are

not effected by blind, unintelligent forces or laws. The Son of God

superintends all of them. He is the Framer of all the laws of Nature, and the

Force of all her forces. He is the Sustainer as well as the Creator of the

universe. To the thoughtful and devout man this fact imparts a deeper,

tenderer interest and attraction to the changes which take place in nature.

Our gracious Savior and Lord is also the Superintendent and Sovereign

of the universe.

 

  • HE IS UNCHANGEABLE AMIDST THE CHANGES OF THE

UNIVERSE. “But thou art the same.” (v. 12)  He is the same in His being

and character, in His will and purposes. Presiding over a universe in which all

things are continually changing, yet with Him there “is no variableness or

shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) 

 

Ř      He is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”  (ch. 13:8) 

Ř      He is the same in knowledge.

Ř      His understanding is infinite, and He knoweth all things.

Ř      He is the same in purpose.

 

The writer of this Epistle speaks of “the immutability of His counsel.”

(ch. 6:17)  “He is of one mind.”  (Job 23:13)  He is the same in

affection. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my

kindness shall not depart from thee, nor shall the covenant of my peace be

removed.”   (Isaiah 54:10)  “Having loved His own which were in the world,

He loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1)  What an inspiration this supplies

to trust in Him! It was thus, indeed, that these words were originally employed

by the psalmist; for it is not “His unchangeableness as the immaterial Spirit

that is spoken of (in Psalm 102:27), but the unchangeableness of

Jehovah in His acts, in His relation to Israel, in a word, the Divine

covenant faithfulness.  And upon this the psalmist bases his hope of the

restoration of prosperity to Israel. Because He is immutable in His character

and purposes and relation to His people, we may safely confide in Him. “He

abideth faithful; for He cannot deny himself.”  (II Timothy 2:13)

 

  • HE SURVIVES THE DISSOLUTION OF THE UNIVERSE. “They

shall perish; but thou remainest .... And thy years shall not fail.” We do not

think that the annihilation of the heavens and earth is taught here, but that

their present form and aspect shall pass away. Their substance will remain,

but their present appearance will perish. “The day of the Lord will come as

a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the

elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works

that are therein shall be burned up.”  (II Peter 3:10)

 

“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind.” (Shakespeare.)

 

But the Lord shall remain forever and ever. As he existed before the

universe, so shall he exist when its present forms have disappeared forever.

He is “from everlasting to everlasting.”  (Psalm 90:2)  “I am the First and

the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for

evermore.” (Revelation 1:17-18)

 

  • CONCLUSION. How immeasurably greater, then, is the Son than the

angels! They could not create a world; but He created the entire universe.

They have no sovereign control over the transformations of any world; but

He is the supreme Agent effecting all the changes in every province of all

worlds. They change; their knowledge changes by way of increase, and

with new discoveries they have new admirations; their affections also

change, growing more deep and intense; but He is superior to all change —

THE IMMUTABLE!  They are not essentially immortal; their continued

existence depends upon Him; but He is essentially immortal — “the living

One,” the Eternal. Seeing that the Son of God is immutable and eternal,

we have the strongest encouragement to trust in Him at all times. (Psalm

62:8)  Both in His power and in His willingness to save He is ever the same,

and ”He ever liveth.”  (ch. 7:25) His “years shall not fail.” (v. 12)

 

13 “But to which of the angels said he (properly, hath he said)

at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy

footstool?”  A final and crowning quotation is thus adduced, in the form in

which the first quotation referring to the SON (v. 5) had been

introduced, to complete the view of his superiority to the angels. The

quotation is from Psalm 110., the reference of which to the Messiah is

settled beyond controversy to Christian believers, not only by its being

quoted or alluded to more frequently than any other psalm with that

reference in the New Testament (Acts 2:34; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34;

Ephesians 1:20-22; I Peter 3:22; vs.3, 13-14 here; ch.8:1; 10:12-13), and

by the introduction of its language into the Church’s earliest Creeds, but also

by the authority of our Lord Himself, as recorded by all the three synoptical

evangelists (Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:39-44). Hence readers

of this commentary will not require a confutation of the arguments of any modern

rationalistic critics who have disputed the Messianic meaning of the psalm.

Their arguments rest really on their a priori denial of a “spirit of prophecy” in

the psalms generally; in their refusal to recognize, what the later prophets recognized,

an unfulfilled ideal in what the psalmists wrote of theocratic kings. Let us once

recognize this, and we shall perceive in this psalm peculiar marks of the spirit of

prophecy, reaching beyond any contemporary fulfillment, not only in the

assignment to the King of a seat the right hand of the heavenly throne,

but also in His remarkable designation as a “Priest after the order of

Melchizedek, of which more will be said under chps. 5. and 7. of this

Epistle. It is to be observed also how prophets, long after the psalm was

written, regarded its ideal as still awaiting fulfillment; e.g. Daniel

(Daniel 7:13, etc.), whose vision of the Son of man brought near before

the Ancient of days, and having an everlasting dominion given Him, is

referred to by our Lord (Matthew 26:64) in connection with the psalm,

as awaiting fulfillment in Himself; and Zechariah (6:12-13), who takes up

the idea of the psalm in speaking of the Branch, who was to unite in

Himself royalty and priesthood. The psalm is entitled, “A psalm of David.”

Though this title is prefixed to some psalms the contents of which suggest

a later date, and is not, therefore, considered proof of authorship, it proves

at least the tradition and belief of the Jews when the Hebrew Psalter was

arranged in its existing form. But we have in this case evidence in the three

Gospels of its universal acceptance as a psalm of David by the Jews in the

time of our Lord; and, what is of more weight, of His having Himself

referred to it as such. The whole point of His argument with the Pharisees

depends on the acknowledgment of David being the speaker, as well as of

the Messiah being the Person spoken of. None of the Pharisees thought of

disputing either of these premises; they were evidently received as

indisputable.  Nor, further, is there in the psalm itself any internal evidence

against its Davidic authorship, though, but for the above testimony to the contrary,

it might have been the composition of a prophet of David’s day, or written by

David for use by his people — the term, “my lord,” having thus a primary

reference to him. In either of these cases we might suppose the original

conception of v. 1 to have been that of David himself being enthroned on

Zion at the side of the “King of glory” (Psalm 24.) who had come in;”

while v. 4 might possibly have been suggested by David’s organization of

the services of the tabernacle, and by the personal part he took in the ritual

when the ark was removed to Zion. Even so, the quotation would answer

the purpose of the argument according to the view of the drift of Messianic

psalms which has been explained above. But, even independently of the

distinct import of our Lord’s words, there are reasons (pointed out by

Delitzsch) against the supposition of even a primary reference to David in

the words, “my lord.” Two may be mentioned:

 

(1) that the assignment of sacerdotal functions to an earthly king is

contrary to the whole spirit of the Old Testament;

 

(2) that God’s own throne is elsewhere represented as, not in Zion, but

above the heavens.

 

Now, the conclusion thus arrived at, that David himself

is speaking throughout the psalm of another than himself, gives a peculiar

force to this final quotation, in that the Antitype is distinguished from and

raised above the type more evidently than in other Messianic psalms. In

others (as we have regarded them) the typical king himself is the primary

object in view, though ideally glorified so as to foreshadow One greater

than himself; here the typical king seems to have a distinct vision of the

Messiah apart from himself, and speaks of Him as his Lord. It does not

follow that David’s own position and circumstances did not form a basis

for his vision. We perceive traces of them in “the rod of thy strength out of

Zion,” and in the picture which follows of the submission of heathen kings

after warfare and slaughter. But vs. 1 and 4 point still to another than

himself whom he foresees in the spirit of prophecy. The psalm begins,

literally translated, “The voice [or, ‘oracle,’ Hebrew μaun]] of Jehovah to

my lord, Sit thou on my right hand,” etc. This sounds like more than a

mere echo of Nathan’s message, the language being different and still more

significant. And that such a vision of a future fulfillment of the promise was

not foreign to the mind of David appears from his “last words” (II Samuel

23:1-5), where also the significant word saun] is used. And now, mark

what the language of this “oracle” implies — not merely the enthronement

of the Son on Zion as God’s Vicegerent, but His session at the right hand of

God Himself, i.e. at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” God’s own

throne being ever (as has been said above) regarded as above the heavens,

or, if on earth, above the cherubim. Such, then, being the meaning of the

oracle” (and it is the meaning uniformly given it in the New Testament),

well may it be adduced as the final and crowning proof of the position

above the angels assigned to the SON in prophecy.

 

The contrast between our Lord and the angels in the impressive quotation from

Psalm 110:1, is so entirely Messianic that it is alluded to no less than ten times

in the New Testament. It affirms the superiority and supremacy of our Lord in so

conclusive a manner that no ingenuity of perverse interpretation can

successfully apply it to any monarch, priest, or warrior whatsoever. All

enemies who steadfastly resist his claim must be overthrown by His

righteous and sovereign might. Some have been brought down and are

now under His feet. Rebellious Jerusalem was overthrown. Western

idolatries have left their witness to His power in broken columns and

deserted temples. Hereafter systems of evil, false philosophies corrupt

institutions, impenitent and irreconcilable men, and nations,

must yield to His judicial sentence and final punishment. Some things He

will dash in pieces like a potter’s vessel. He sits at the right hand of the

Father; but the angels are ministering spirits, and go forth at His bidding to

assist and protect those who shall in time enjoy the fullness of salvation.

 

14 “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them

who shall be heirs of salvation? Are they not all, etc.? A final expression,

adduced in contrast, of the position and office of the angels, as seen above.

The Authorized Version suggests the idea, not conveyed by the Greek, of

guardian angels. The more correct translation is, Are they not all

(λειτουργικὰ - leitourgika - ministering)  spirits, (εἰς διακονίαν

eis diakonianto minister; for service ) sent forth, on account of those who

are to (διὰ τοὺς µέλλοντας dia tous mellontasfor them who shall) inherit

salvation? The allusion is generally to their office of subordinate ministration

in furtherance of the DIVINE PURPOSES OF HUMAN SALVATION!

the continuance of such office being denoted by the present participle,

ἀποστελλόµεναapostellomenasent forth; being commissioned.

 

 

Christ Greater than the Angels (vs. 4-14)

 

The Jews used to boast that their Law had been given at Sinai by the

instrumentality of angels; and they concluded from this that the Mosaic

dispensation would continue as long as the world itself. But the apostle

asserts here that the Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, is

immeasurably greater than the angels; and he supports his assertion with

abundant evidence from the Hebrew Scriptures. V. 4 supplies us with the

key to this whole passage. The quotations which follow illustrate from the

Old Testament the two statements of that verse, while they also justify the

glorious titles and prerogatives directly ascribed to the Redeemer in vs. 2-3.

 

  • CHRIST HAS HAD FROM ETERNITY AN ESSENTIAL NATURE

HIGHER THAN THE ANGELS. “He hath inherited a more excellent

name than they.” Names in modern times are generally quite inexpressive

— mere labels affixed to individuals to distinguish them from others; but

among the Jews it was otherwise. The names of God, especially,

symbolized attributes of His character. So, Christ’s “Name” expresses

His nature.

 

Ř      He is God’s Son. (v. 5.) In Psalm 2. we hear His own voice rehearsing

from His Father’s counsel the decree of His eternal sonship. That decree

dates from everlasting; but it was to be “declared” again and again, and

particularly by the event of His resurrection (Romans 1:4). Even Nathan

the prophet had proclaimed it to David (II Samuel 7:14) in his prophecy

respecting Solomon and “a greater than Solomon.”

 

Ř      He is Elohim. (vs. 8, 9.) The two highest Old Testament names of

God are Elohim and Jehovah: none are more distinctive of Deity than

these. So Psalm 45:6 is one of the great proof-texts for the supreme

divinity of Christ. There the psalmist addresses the coming mediatorial

King as God Himself, by-and-by to be clothed in human nature. He was

to fulfill all righteousness for man, and to be invested as the God-Man

with the scepter of supreme authority above all His brethren of mankind.

 

Ř      He is Jehovah. (vs. 10-12.) The idea conveyed by this Divine name is

that of self-existence. Now, the apostle does not hesitate here to apply to

Christ the language of Psalm 102. — a Jehovistic psalm — in celebration

of the eternity and majesty of the Eternal. The Covenant-Deliverer of

captive Zion is none other than Jehovah Jesus. It was He who created the

universe; and HE SHALL REMAIN UNCHANGED!  the everlasting

Stay and Strength of His children — after the heavens shall be no more.

For He is the I AM.  (Exodus 3:14)  Immutability is one of His glories.

Contrast now with this the name and nature of the angels. God nowhere

addresses any one of them as His “Son.” No angel is called Jehovah.

None receives the name Elohim in the way in which this appellation is

given to Christ. Instead of that, the angels are created beings (v. 7).

They are servants of God, who in their qualities and uses resemble the

winds and the lightning. The cherubim fly swiftly like the “winds;”

the seraphim burn with holy ardor like a “flame of fire.” The

Son of God is not the peer of the angels: He is Jehovah Elohim; and

the loftiest spirits in the heavenly hierarchy are His creatures. 

                   (I recommend Genesis 17; Genesis 22; Exodus 17;  Psalm 19;

Psalm 105; Jeremiah 23:6;Ezekiel 48; Names of God by Nathan Stone

this website – CY – 2014)

 

  • CHRIST HAS BEEN RAISED IN TIME TO A

PROPORTIONATELY HIGHER OFFICIAL POSITION. “Having

become by so much better than the angels.” He became superior to the

angels in His official capacity as the God-Man Mediator — as much

superior as He had been from the beginning in His essential nature. His

mediatorial preeminence began clearly to appear two thousand years

ago, in connection both with His humiliation and His exaltation.

 

Ř      When on earth, Jesus received angelic worship. (v. 6.) This had been

predicted in Psalm 97. And, accordingly, when Christ became incarnate,

angels thronged round His manger-cradle, proclaiming His advent, and

celebrating it in a burst of choral praise. Angels ministered to Him after

the temptation, and sustained Him under his great agony. Angels

attended at His resurrection, and haunted for a time His empty tomb.

Angels encompassed him in his final ascension to glory.

 

Ř      Now, in heaven, He sits on God’s right hand. (v. 13.) His official

exaltation had been predicted in Psalm 110. God never said, “Sit thou on

my right hand” to any angel, i.e. to any creature. Therefore the illustrious

Priest-King of that psalm is not a creature; and, if not a creature, He must

be the Creator. The session of the Mediator at the right hand of Jehovah

implies that the entire universe is subject to His scepter.   (“a scepter of

righteousness is thy scepter.”  (Psalm 45:6)  He employs the

holy angels, and He controls and restrains the “spiritual hosts of

wickedness.” Contrast now with this the official position of the angels

(v.14).

 

o       They are “ministering spirits” to the Mediator of the new

covenant.  They stand before the throne upon which He sits —

awaiting His commands, and eager to do His pleasure.

 

o       He employs their service on behalf of those “that shall inherit

salvation.” The angels:

 

§         encamp round about believers;

§         they watch over little children;

§         they are instruments of good to the poor and the forsaken;

§         they carry away the spirits of the departed into Abraham’s

bosom;

§         they will gather the saints at the final judgment.

 

 

   The Sovereignty of the Son and the Service of the Angels (vs. 13-14)

 

“But to which of the angels said he at any time,” etc.? The writer is still

treating of the preeminence of the Son over the angels; and he shows it in

the facts that Christ is a Sovereign and they are servants.

 

  • THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE SON OF GOD. “But to which of the

angels said He at any time, sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies

thy footstool?” This quotation the writer makes from Psalm 110. This

psalm is confessedly Messianic. It is frequently quoted in the New

Testament as applying to our Lord.  No psalm more clearly finds its

ultimate reference and completion only in Christ.” The quotation teaches

that:

 

Ř      The Son is exalted to the mediatorial throne. “Sit thou on my right

hand.” “He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

(See our notes on “The exaltation of His position” as stated in v. 3.)

 

Ř      He is exalted by the highest will. “But to which of the angels said He at

any time,” etc.? The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right

 hand,” etc.; (Psalm 110:1)  “Him God exalted with His right hand to

 be a Prince and a Savior.”  (Acts 5:31)

 

Ř      He is exalted with the sublimest expectation. “Till I make thine

enemies the footstool of thy feet.” Here are several points.

 

o       Our Lord has enemies; e.g. ignorance, superstition, unbelief, vice,

crime, wicked men, etc.

o       These enemies will certainly be subjugated to Him. Their

subjugation is guaranteed by the Most High: “Till I make,” etc.

o       These enemies will be completely subjugated to Him. Thine

Enemies the footstool of thy feet.” The reference is to the ancient

custom of conquerors placing their feet upon the necks of

vanquished nobles or princes in token of their complete subjection

(compare Joshua 10:24).

o       He is waiting their subjugation with assured expectation.

 

  • THE SERVICE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD. “Are they not all

ministering spirits,” etc.? Notice:

 

Ř      The nature of the angels. “Spirits.” We do not enter upon the question

whether angels are pure spirits or not. It seems to us that they are not

without some form or vesture; that they are not “unclothed, but clothed

upon.” Their bodies are spiritual. “There is a natural body, there is also a

spiritual body.”  (I Corinthians 15:44)  Angelic forms are not gross and

material, but refined and ethereal. They do not impede their activities or

clog their aspirations, but are the exquisite vesture of their being and the

suitable vehicle of their power. (On the qualities of these spirits, see

introduction of our homily on vs. 3-4.)

 

Ř      The office of the angels. “Ministering spirits.”

 

o       They are servants of God. The διακονία diakoniaministry –

 is not a waiting upon men, but a fulfillment of their office as

διακονοἰ  - diakonoiministers of God.  They are not the

servants of the Church, but the servants of Christ for the

benefit of the Church.” They are “ministers of His that do

His pleasure” (Psalm 103:20-21).

 

o       They are servants of God on behalf of His people. “Sent forth to

minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;” or, “Sent forth

for ministry on account of those who shall be heirs of salvation.”

Christians are called “heirs of salvation” because they “are children

of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and JOINT-

HEIRS WITH CHRIST”  (Romans 8:14-17). And the salvation

which they shall inherit is not mere deliverance from danger or

release from the penalty of sin; but COMPLETE AND EVER-

LASTING SALVATION;  transformation into the image and

participation in the blessedness of the Lord. (Romans 12:2) 

Unto these children of God angels minister. The nature of their

ministry in ancient times we are able to gather from the Bible, e.g.

 

§         to Lot (Genesis 19.);

§         to Elijah (I Kings 19:4-8);

§         to Elisha (II Kings 6:16-17);

§         to Daniel (Daniel 6:22; 9:20-27; 10:10-21);

§         to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-20);

§         to Mary (Ibid. vs.26-38);

§         to the shepherds (Ibid. ch. 2:9-14);

§         to Mary Magdalene and other women (Ibid. ch.24:4-7;

John 20:11-13);

§         to the apostles immediately after the Ascension (Acts 1:10-11);

§         to the apostles in prison (Ibid. ch.5:19-20);

§         to Peter (Ibid. ch.12:7-10); and,

§         to Paul (Ibid. ch. 27:23-24).

They also ministered to our Lord after His temptation in the

wilderness (Matthew 4:11), and in His agony in Gethsemane

(Luke 22:43). And there are statements of Holy Scripture which

bear upon their ministry. “The angel of the Lord encampeth

round about them that fear Him,” etc. (Psalm 34:7); “He shall

give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy

foot against a stone.” (Ibid. ch. 91:11-12). They minister to us

now chiefly by their influence upon our spirits.  They quicken

within us true thoughts and pure feelings; they help us to

detect Satanic suggestions and to repel Satanic solicitations;

they inspire the timid with courage, and whisper hope to the

despondent —

 

“ And the wearied heart grows strong,

    As an angel strengthened him,

    Fainting in the garden dim

Neath the world’s vast woe and wrong.”

(Johann Rist.)

 

They suggest caution and watchfulness to the unwary; by their

serene invisible presence they solace the sufferer; and they

serve about the dying bed of the saint, and convey the

emancipated spirit to its heavenly rest.  “Lazarus… was carried

by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.”  (Luke 16:22)

 

o       They are commissioned by God for this service. He appoints to

each one his sphere of ministry; and by Him they are “sent forth”

to fulfill their commissions.

 

“Oh, th’ exceeding grace

Of highest God that loves His creatures so,

And all His works with mercy doth embrace,

That blessed angels He sends to and fro.

To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe.

 

“How oft do they their silver bowers leave,

To come to succor us that succor want!

How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant,

Against foul fiends to aid us militant!

They for us fight, and watch, and duly ward,

And their bright squadrons round about us plant;

And all for love, and nothing for reward.

Oh, why should heavenly God to men have such regard?”

(Spenser.)

 

  • CONCLUSION. Learn:

 

Ř      The dignity of the Christian. Angels minister unto him. God cares for

him; for He sends forth the angels to promote his interests.

 

Ř      The dignity of service. Angels, the highest orders of created beings,

serve God by ministering unto little children, distressed Christians,

and afflicted saints.

 

Ř      The supreme dignity of the Son of God. He “came not to be ministered

unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many;”

(Mark 10:45) and now He “is on the right hand of God, having gone

into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject

unto Him,”  (I Peter 4:22)  When we survey Almighty God surrounded

by His holy angels, His thousand thousands of ministering spirits, and

ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him, the idea of His

awful majesty rises before us more powerfully and impressively. We

begin to see how little we are, how altogether mean and worthless in

ourselves, and how high He is and fearful. The very lowest of His

angels is indefinitely above us in this our present state; HOW HIGH,

THEN, MUST BE THE LORD OF ANGELS!   The very

seraphim hide their faces BEFORE HIS GLORY  while they praise

Him; HOW SHAMEFACED THEN should sinners be when they

come into HIS PRESENCE!

 

 

The Mission of the Angels (v. 14)

 

  • THE HABITUAL POST OF THE ANGELS. They are ministering

spirits, literally, “liturgical spirits.” The work of the priests and Levites in

connection with tabernacle and temple was known as a liturgical work.

Again and again in the Septuagint the work of Aaron and his subordinates

is indicated by this verb, (λειτουργείν leitourgein - ministering). As the

angels are called liturgical spirits, so the priest and his subordinates might

have been called liturgical men. They were the men who, on behalf of all

the people, managed things pertaining to the worship of Jehovah. So in

several passages the officials connected with the court of a king are known

as liturgiliturgical men.  And if we would see what is meant by calling

the angels liturgical spirits, we cannot do better than consider, first of all,

Isaiah 6:2-3. There we read of the six-winged seraphim, who cried one to

another and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth

is full of his glory.” Saying this, they were engaged in liturgical service.

Then turn to Revelation 4:8, where we read of the four living things, each,

like the seraphim, six-winged, who rest not day and night, saying,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

These four living things were also engaged in liturgical services. What priest

and Levite were on earth, angels were and are in heaven. Nor angels alone.

The spirits of the just made perfect are joined to seraphim, and all others

of the heavenly host by whatever name they may be called, in liturgical

service.

 

  • THE SPECIAL SERVICE OF THE ANGELS. These liturgical spirits

are sent forth on errands of helpfulness to God’s people on earth in their

times of emergency. They are sent forth to minister to those who shall be

heirs of salvation — heirs of salvation, but not yet rejoicing in a deliverance

from every sort of evil. We are saved by hope; we are in process of

salvation, but the process involves trials and sufferings. We are not without

notable instances of what is meant by angelic service to the heirs of

salvation. Jesus Himself was, in a certain sense, an heir of salvation. He had

to be saved from this body of death, if not from this body of sin. And

concerning Him we read how, at the close of the temptation, angels came

and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:11)  Then, more important still, because

the service is more definitely indicated, is the opening of the prison doors to

liberate the apostles (Acts 5:19), and the after-opening to deliver Peter from

the hands of Herod (Ibid. ch.12:7). And though comparatively few such

instances of διακονία diakoniaservice -  be recorded, that is not to say

that only a few happened. (I know of a time or two in my own life, where

that nothing else could have explained what happened!  - CY – 2014)

Nor is it to be said that angelic service has ceased. Angels may

render very important and comforting services to men, although they

themselves may not be seen.

 

  • THE EXAMPLE ANGELS THUS GIVE TO CHRISTIANS. Angels

find their habitual employ in adoring God, in serving Him in heavenly

worship. But from worship they may at any moment be turned to work,

and work most agreeable to the will and pleasure of their Master, doing

something which will be felt as a help by some one who is dear to Christ.

The λειτουργία leitourgia - public; divine service  -  fits for the διακονία

diakoniaministry -  , and διακονία , faithfully rendered, sends back with

fresh zest to the λειτουργία. There is a place for both; and we, who have

also to go  forth to minister to the heirs of salvation, shall find our ministry

all the more effectual if only it can be truly said of us, in the best sense of

the word, that we are liturgical Christians.  That man whose reading of the

Scriptures has in it not only quantity but quality, not only recollection of words

but increasing perception of meaning, who reads that he may understand and

obey — such a one is a liturgical Christian. He is constantly enriching his heart,

getting nearer to God, and, as a matter of course, better able to serve men. We

must always be serving God, whether in those things which have the formal

look of Divine service, or in those which may look nothing more than a

temporal ministry to men. We may at the same time be towards God λειτουργοι   

(ministers) and διακονοι (servants) towards men; we can pray without ceasing,

and also follow in the footsteps of Him who came, not to be ministered to,

but to minister.  (Matthew 20:28)

 

 

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