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Westminster Commentaries 
Edited by Walter Lock D.D. 





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First PublisJud . May igio 
Second Edition . . . October igzs 


^T^HE primary object of these Commentaries is to be 
-^ exegetical, to interpret the meaning of each book of 
the Bible in the light of modern knowledge to English 
readers. The Editors will not deal, except subordinately, 
with questions of textual criticism or philology ; but taking 
the English text in the Revised Version as their basis, they 
will aim at combining a hearty acceptance of critical principles 
with loyalty to the Catholic Faith. 

The series will be less elementary than the Cambridge 
Bible for Schools, less critical than the International Critical 
Commentary, less didactic than the Expositor's Bible ; and it 
is hoped that it may be of use both to theological students 
and to the clergy, as well as to the growing number of 
educated laymen and laywomen who wish to read the Bible 
intelligently and reverently. 

Each commentary will therefore have 

(i) An Introduction stating the bearing of modern 
criticism and research upon the historical character of the 
book, and drawing out the contribution which the book, as a 
whole, makes to the body of religious truth. 

(ii) A careful paraphrase of the text with notes on the 
more difl&cult passages and, if need be, excursuses on any 

a 3 


points of special importance either for doctrine, or ecclesi- 
astical organization, or spiritual life. 

But the books of the Bible are so varied in character that 
considerable latitude is needed, as to the proportion which the 
various parts should hold to each other. The General Editor 
will therefore only endeavour to secure a general uniformity 
in scope and character : but the exact method adopted in 
each case and the final responsibility for the statements made 
will rest with the individual contributors. 

By permission of the Delegates of the Oxford University 
Press and of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 
the Text used in this Series of Commentaries is the Revised 
Version of the Holy Scriptures. 



rpHE general purpose of this addition to the numerous 
-*- Commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews is stated 
by the General Editor. But the particular Editor may be 
allowed to say one word as to his own view of what the 
purpose included. 

His main desire in these pages has been to make the 
general argument of the Epistle clear and to exhibit it as a 
whole. The Epistle seems to him to be one that demands 
this more than other Epistles of the New Testament. Though 
in the form of a letter, and with the personal purpose of a 
letter, it is also a complete and artistic composition. There 
are no digressions properly so called. Even in what reads 
like a postscript the thoughts are put out in this form not by 
accident, but because the writer felt that in that way and at 
that moment they would most effectively answer his design. 

It is in view of this character of the Epistle that the 
Editor has prefixed to the Commentary, besides the Summary 
of Contents, a full Paraphrase of the Epistle. A paraphrase 
is not a loose translation. It deliberately forfeits the power 
of reproducing in any way the literary form ; but it aims 
at preserving, and in some degree making clearer than a 
translation can make it, the complete articulation of the 
thought. It is meant to be read with the Commentary, and 
as a chief part of it. 

The Epistle has been to the Editor a special object of 
interest and study for many years, and if he has referred by 


name to only a few and those the more recent of English 
commentators, this does not mean that he has not endeavoured 
to read at some time or other whatever seemed likely to 
throw light upon it. Three editions by English scholars he 
has frequently mentioned, as likely to be at hand to his 
readers and as raising questions which should be answered 
or as enabling him by such reference to express more clearly 
the view which he desired to set before them\ It would be 
ungrateful if he did not name here, as he has not done 
otherwise, a book to which any English student of the 
Epistle must owe very much, Prof. A. B. Bruce's "Epistle 
to Hebrews : the first Apology for Christianity " (T. and 
T. Clark, 1899). The only other word that the Editor would 
say is one of hearty thanks to Prof. Lock for very much 
valuable advice and assistance. 

^ These are 

(i) The great and exhaustive commentary of Bp Westcott (Macmillan 
& Co.). 

(ii) The scholarly edition of Dean Vaughan (Macmillan & Co.), 
invaluable both for the method and for the results of its careful study of 
the Writei*'s words and phrases. 

(iii) The shghter but fresh and ingenious edition of the Rev. F. 
Kendall (Macmillan & Co.). 



I. . 

II. The writer 

III. Circumstances and purpose of the Epistle 

IV. The method of the Epistle . 

V. General summary of the contents . 

Paraphrase of the Epistle ..... 

Text and Commentart 

Appendix I. The Gospel tradition in the Epistle 
Appendix II. The two Sacraments in the Epistle 
Appendix III. Use of the Epistle in the Prayer-Book 





"The old things are passed away: behold they are become new.' 

2 CoR. V. 17 R.V. 

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever. 

Heb. xiii. 8 R.V. 



In one point of the first importance few writings of the New 
Testament present more satisfactory evidence than the Epistle to the 
Hebrews. It was known and held in esteem before the end of the 
first century. Clement of Rome in his Epistle to the Corinthian 
Church, which by general consent is dated between 95 and 97 a.d., 
transcribes passages from it, treats it (though, as his way is with 
Scripture, without naming it) as a document of authority, echoes 
its ideas and its phraseology. When we pass to the further questions 
which are naturally asked — who wrote the Epistle, and to whom, 
and from whence, and more precisely at what time in the first 
century — the case is changed. No answers can be given that are 
not conditional and conjectural. Unless its concluding paragraph 
is interpolated (which is hardly suggested) there can have been no 
original concealment or mystification. The writer speaks unmis- 
takeably in tones of affection and concern, and as though he had 
claims on the attention of those whom he addresses. There are 
references, personal, local, and temporal, which he assumes will be 
understood : but the clue to their understanding seems to have been 
early lost and cannot be recovered. 

II. The writer. 

It may be convenient to deal first with the question of the 
writer though it is not the most important. It was the question on 
which in the early centuries discussion was concentrated ; for on it 
the further question of the canonicity of the Epistle was held to 

There were in the third century two positive traditions with 
respect to the authorship of the Epistle. 


1. The first Latin Father who names it (TertuUian, in the 
De Pudicitia, ch. xx., a.d. 220-230?) attributes it without question 
(and therefore apparently from a tradition generally current in 
N. Africa) to Barnabas. Of all the suggestions made this is perhaps 
still the most tempting. It does not indeed throw any fresh light 
on the Epistle, but it suits and completes his character so well that 
we like to believe it — the "Levite of the country of Cyprus," a 
Hellenist (that is) by birthplace, but Hebrew by race, with hereditary 
interest in the Jewish sacrificial system — the close companion of 
St Paul, yet with standing and an outlook of his own — the " son of 
consolation (or, exhortation)" — the mediator and peacemaker 
between old and new\ 

2. The second tradition, which becomes known to us as early 
as the first, connects the Epistle with St Paul. This was the view 
which obtained the more general support, and held possession in the 
Church until the revival of learning; but its foundations are 
insecure. It can hardly have been known to Clement of Rome, 
who, as has been said, at the end of the first century possessed and 
used the Epistle ; for the Church of Rome, though so closely 
connected with St Paul, was the particular Church which, on account 
of disbelief in the Pauline authorship, refused for three centuries to 
receive the Epistle as canonical. The tradition belonged to the 
Church at Alexandria ; but the great Alexandrine scholars, Clement 
and Origen, who are our first authorities for its currency, shew that 
they felt serious difficulty in the way of whole-hearted acceptance 
of it. Clement^ according to Eusebius, spoke of the Epistle as having 
been written by St Paul in Aramaic and translated by St Luke into 
Greek, which accounts (he says) for the resemblance of the style 
to that of the Acts. He adds that St Paul did not give his own 
name lest it should raise prejudice against the Epistle. Neither 
statement can be correct. Whatever else is true of the Epistle, we 
can confidently say that it is an original Greek composition, not a 
translation ; and (as has been said) a purposed concealment of name 
is inconceivable in view of ch. xiii. 22-25. Origen^ Clement's 
pupil, summed up the state of the question in words to which 

1 It should be said that if this identification is right, it follows that the 
composition which goes under the name of the "Epistle of Barnabas" belongs 
(as is probable on other grounds) to another Barnabas or is falsely titled. The 
views taken of the Mosaic Law in the two Epistles are so entirely at variance 
that the two Epistles cannot proceed from the same person. 

2 Euseb. H. E. vi. 14. » Euseb. H. E. vi. 25. 


later study has hardly enabled us substantially to add: "The 
diction of the Epistle to the Hebrews has not the character which 
St Paul describes when he calls himself [that is, in 2 Cor. xi. 6] 
'rude [literally an amateur or untrained person] in speech.' Any 
one who has the least capacity for distinguishing style would 
pronounce it to be more thoroughly Greek: on the other hand 
the thoughts of the Epistle are marvellous, not second to those 
of any writing confessedly Apostolic [or, of the Apostle, i.e. St Paul], 
as again any one familiar with the writings of the Apostles [or, 
Apostle] would allow.... If I were setting forth my own judgement 
I should say that the thoughts are the Apostle's [i.e. St Paul's] but 
the diction and composition are due to some one who had taken 
notes of the master's teaching. If then any Church holds this 
Epistle as Paul's, it may be left happily in its belief : for it was not 
at random that ancient tradition attributed it to him : but who it 
was who wrote it [i.e. who supplied the "diction and composition" 
spoken of above] God knows. The stories that have come to us 
vary. Some say that Clement, Bishop of Rome, wrote it, some 
Luke, who wrote the Gospel and the Acts." 

Origen makes it clear that even in Alexandria, where the theory 
of Pauline authorship seems to have started, the best scholarship of 
the first half of the third century looked upon the theory as a 
guess, one among several, not without some basis in fact, but as in 
its full and literal sense an impossible one. As we should say of a 
picture, he allows that it may be "of the school of Paul," from the 
pen of one united with him in purpose, familiar with his thoughts 
and turns of expression : but he finds the style utterly different, and 
different in a respect in which, whatever we think of our own 
judgement, his would seem to be without appeal. It is, he says, 
"more Greek." 

The more the Epistle has been studied the more impossible it 
has been felt to attribute it to St Paul. The style is not his. The 
mode of composition is not his. The position assumed by the 
writer is not his. When every allowance is made for difference of 
occasion and purpose, it does not seem possible that St Paul, who 
claims so constantly (unless indeed 1 Cor. xv. 3 be an exception, 
but see below, note on ch. ii. 3, 4) to have received the Gospel not 
from human teaching, but "through revelation of Jesus Christ" 
(Gal. i. 12), could put himself, as the writer of this Epistle does 
(ii. 3, 4), by the side of those to whom he writes, as having learnt 

H. 6 


it, as they had done, from those who themselves had heard the 
Lord, and to whom it had been confirmed by miracle. The writer 
comes at times (as in ch. x. 37, 38) apparently on common ground 
with St Paul. There are what sound like echoes of familiar phrases 
and quotations, but when they are examined (see the additional 
note on x. 37) it seems that both phrases and quotations, if they be 
due to verbal memory, have yet really a different meaning and 
purpose in the two writers: it is not quite the same "righteousness" 
nor the same "faith" that they speak of. 

3. When we go beyond the names of Barnabas and Paul we 
are embarking plainly on mere conjecture, even if the scholars of 
Alexandria have preceded us. They mentioned two names : Clement 
OF Rome and St Luke. The first suggestion was based, no doubt, 
on the fact that ideas, phrases, and even passages of this Epistle 
appear in the Epistle which bears Clement's own name : but no one 
can read them there without seeing that they are borrowed fi-om a 
document to which he attached authority, not originally due to 
himself. Those who made the second conjecture found much in 
the style and temper of the Epistle to explain and commend it to 
them : but it fails in a critical point. We cannot believe that the 
writer was a Gentile, and we can hardly doubt that St Luke was 

Other names have been suggested since the question was raised 
again after the Reformation. Luther made the guess, happy in 
itself, that the writer was Apollos — the "Jew, Alexandrian by race, 
eloquent (or, learned) and mighty in the Scriptures" — the friend 
and scholar of St Paul, yet evidently with a history of his own, who 
would be acquainted with Timothy, "who helped them much which 
had believed through grace... shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus 
was Christ" (Acts xviii. 24 and 28). Every characteristic by itself 
suits admirably. But in default of proof it remains a possible 
conjecture, and no more ; it carries us no further than the undeniable 
proposition that Apollos as he is described to us must have been 
capable of writing such a letter: it throws no light on the occasion 
or recipients of the Epistle: and no reason is suggested why the 
name should not have occurred to those who handled the question 
in the third century. No more can be said, perhaps no less, of 
other suggestions which have been made, such as Silas, Aquila, 

One name which has been suggested lately, that of Philip the 


Deacon, stands on different grounds, in that it belongs to a serious 
attempt to conceive the circumstances of the Epistle as a whole. 
Sir W. Ramsay (following up a suggestion of the Rev. W. M. Lewis, 
and supported in turn in an interesting paper in the Interpreter of 
April 1909 by Canon E. L. Hicks) places the Epistle during the 
detention of St Paul at Caesarea. He thinks that Philip (who 
was living at the time at Caesarea, Acts xxi. 8) wrote, after inter- 
course with St Paul and as the mouthpiece of the Caesarean Church, 
to the Church of Jerusalem with the view of helping to the ultimate 
reconcilement of the Pauline and Judaic parties in it. The situation 
is realized in detail and the possibility established : but a good 
many assumptions are necessary ; and it may be doubted whether 
the severity of tone in parts of the Epistle and the sense of 
imminent catastrophe are sufficiently explained. 

III. Circumstances and purpose of the Epistle. 

Questions of the date and of the destination of the Epistle 
cannot be treated apart from consideration of the internal evidence 
which it affords of its purpose and of the situation which it 

1. The title "to Hebrews," though we cannot suppose it to 
have been part of the original text, is of early origin and describes 
what was taken to be the character of those to whom the Epistle 
was addressed. They were " Hebrews," that is, not only of Hebrew 
blood, but of those who made the most of their nationality. It is 
not a local but a descriptive name. In the three places in which 
it occurs in the New Testament (Acts vi. 1, 2 Cor. xi. 22, Phil. iii. 5) 
it is on the one side distinguished from the race name " Israelite," 
and on the other contrasted with "Hellenist" ("Grecian Jew"R.V., 
"Grecian" A.V.), i.e. a Jew who in language and mode of life was 
assimilated to the Greek world round him. That it was difficult to 
draw a line precisely between the two classes is illustrated by the 
fact that the writer of this Epistle takes it for granted that these 
"Hebrews" read the Greek version of the Scriptures. All his 
quotations are taken from it and he builds arguments upon its 
words even where they differ from the Hebrew text. But the 
Epistle is evidently addressed throughout to Jewish Christians. 
The whole argument both iu what it contains and in what it 
omits bears witness to its purpose. The great surrounding Gentile 



world is out of sight ; and with it all the questions which arose 
from the union in one Church of Jews and Gentiles. It is significant 
that we never hear of circumcision. There is no question raised 
of the obligation of the Law. On the other hand the argument is 
based almost wholly on the Old Testament Scriptures. The 
writer's aim is to shew that everything in the Christian scheme 
that would cause difficulty to Jewish feeling was indeed part of the 
picture given by Psalmists and Prophets. The unique dignity of 
the Messiah and yet His association with suffering and death : the 
supersession of the Levitical priesthood by one of a higher order : 
the substitution of a spiritual for a material sanctuary and offering : 
the new and more effectual Covenant — are all put into Old Testament 
language, and traced to the authority of David, Moses, and 
Jeremiah. There is a turn of phrase in ii. 16 which marks a 
reference to Jewish feeling so habitual to the writer as to be 
scarcely conscious. He has been insisting on the comfort brought 
by the truth of the Incarnation to men as men, and naturally the 
sentence would have run "It was not angels that He came to help, 
but men," but for "men" he substitutes, to the apparent damaging 
of the argument, "the seed of Abraham," as though the Incarnation 
were to be represented as a crowning instance of the "stretched out 
Arm" which had so often intervened to succour the chosen people. 

2. One more point is clear. The Epistle is addressed to a 
definite set of persons. It is not, as has been sometimes suggested, 
a general or circular letter for the "Hebrew" members of the Church 
at large or of the Churches scattered over a wide area. The 
community in view has a history of its own, has personal ties 
to the writer, common interests with him, he is hoping to visit it. 
It may be a small community or party within a community, and the 
letter, though opening up the largest questions, ma)^ have arisen 
from some incident which in itself would not have attracted general 
attention. In respect of the greatest works of literature what the 
Greek observer said of wars holds true, that though the causes 
be great the occasion may be small. It is a community not 
at one with itself. We notice that the "leaders" (xiii. 17) are 
distinguished from the persons for whom the letter is intended. 
Obedience to them is enjoined. It is assumed that in the issues 
raised they are on the writer's side. 

3. The Church then, or rather perhaps the section of a Church, 
which is addressed^ may be saiely assumed to consist of Christians 


Jewish at once by race and by habit and feeling. The Epistle has 
towards them two strands of purpose. Like the Apostolic Epistles 
generally it contains both argument and exhortation ; but the two 
are interwoven more closely than is usual. Argument passes into 
exhortation : exhortation completes, as well as points, the argument. 
The end always in view in the argument is to shew that in the 
Person of the Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, as anticipated in 
Prophecy and realized in the historical JESUS, the Revelation of 
the Old Testament was perfected and its shadowy and typical 
atonements were explained and superseded. The end aimed at 
in the exhortation is to stir the readers to a fuller appreciation and 
use of the grace brought to them (iv. 14-16, x. 19-22). But there 
is evidence throughout the Epistle of something beyond this, of a 
state of distress and danger which has called forth the appeal and 
which gives to it its tone both of earnestness and of tenderness. 
They are expecting and in a modified degree already suffering 
persecution (xii. 4). They have encountered that before and have 
met it with constancy (x. 32 f ), but at present there are conditions 
which lessen their power of resistance. There is disorganization 
with its natural consequences : the loss of corporate feeling, leading 
to the neglect of the weekly assembly (x. 25) and to the ignoring of 
the claims of Christian wayfarers (xiii. 2). There is division (see 
note on xiii. 20), separation between leaders and people (xiii. 17). 
There are suggestions of moral danger (xii. 16, xiii. 4). The central 
mischief is indicated as despondency, the loss of proper self-confidence 
and hope. It seems to be traced to the reaction which comes to 
men who have taken a great step without sufficiently facing its 
intellectual grounds. Misgivings arise, old difficulties recur. They 
have nothing wherewith to meet them but the childish teaching 
which they received as catechumens (v. 11-vi. 3). The results 
fill the writer with alarm. They are in risk of "drifting away" 
(ii. 1) from their Christian position — of repeating the backsliding 
and rebellion of Israel in the wilderness (iii. 7 f.), of falling back 
into the attitude of those who crucified the Messiah (vi. 6, x. 29), 
of incurring the penalties denounced in the Law against apostasy 
(ii. 2, X. 28, xii. 29). There are three things to be added to this 
picture of the condition of the Church addressed so far as it appears 
in the Epistle. 

{a) These Jewish Christians are what we call in St Paul's 
Epistles " Judaizers." They are adding to the Gospel "a patchwork 
of alien teachings" (xiii. 9). 


(b) We seem to hear as the Epistle closes — in what reads 
like a postscript — (as though the writer found courage to put into 
words what had been in his heart all through) a call to choose once 
for all between Judaism and Christianity, to come "outside the 
camp" (xiii. 13) and range themselves by the side of their 
excommunicated Messiah. 

(c) There is one further note to be recognized in the Epistle, 
the sense of a crisis at hand. There is a "day approaching" 
(x. 25), a definitive ending of "these days" (i. 2), an ending of the 
"to-day" of invitation and opportunity (iii. 13); a coming earth- 
quake in which all that can be removed will be shaken, in order 
that "what cannot be shaken may remain" (xii. 27). We seem to 
be, as it were, at the moment of the passing of a dispensation. 

4. If this is a fair picture of the Epistle it is clear that, 
in default of external evidence, we have internal indications 
which go some way to determine the most probable time and 
purpose of its writing. It must have been addressed to persons 
to whom the Levitical system was in some appreciable sense a rival 
and obstacle to the full acceptance of Christianity. There is, no 
doubt, room for difference of opinion on the question, what constitutes 
such an appreciable sense. The simplest and most natural explana- 
tion of the facts is that the Epistle belongs to a time when the 
Temple services were still performed. On the face of it the Epistle 
seems to assert that this was actually the case. The writer uses 
always the present tense in speaking of the Levitical rituaP (as in 
ix. 6, "the priests go continually into the first Tabernacle"). It 
must be noticed however also that he speaks always not of the 
Temple but of the Tabernacle : in other words his eye is on the text 
of Exodus, not on what was happening at Jerusalem. The present 
tense need mean no more than that "such and such is the ritual 
prescribed in the Mosaic Law." At the same time the cessation of 
the sacrifices was such an overwhelming event to a Jew, and was 
such a manifest confirmation of the argument of the Epistle, that it 
is hard to believe that, if it had happened, the writer would have 

1 The case is not quite the same as that of Clement (Ep. ad Cor. xli.) who uses 
the present tense in speaking of the Levitical services though he wrote 25 years 
after the destruction of Jerusalem. He is not writing to Jews ; and his statements 
are made only to point an analogy: "a distinction of persons and places," he 
is saying, "is a vital part of the Levitical ritual; you may expect therefore some 
distinction of an analogous kind in the Christian services." It does not 
matter to his argument whether Mosaic ritual had been actually disused or 



discussed the Levitical services at such length without betraying 
by a single word that the whole system had come to an end. We 
cannot but add to this that the tone of the Epistle, if it does not 
require the hypothesis, is more intelligible if we suppose that it was 
written in the deepening gloom before the great catastrophe rather 
than after it. The great appeal in ch. xi. for faith, after the example 
of their great ancestors, in the untried and unseen, has more point 
if we imagine that there was still in existence a visible system of 
historic ordinances to which they would have had " the opportunity 
to return" (ch. xi. 15), than if the sacrificial system itself had been 
reduced to a memory and an idea. The situation gains greatly in 
tragic significance if on the one side we may hear in the last 
chapter a call to come out as from a City of Destruction, an echo 
of the warnings of which we read in Mark xiii. 14 f.; and if on the 
other hand in the tenderness of the appeals, in the space given to 
the proofs that in holding their Christian ground they were really 
acting as the greatest and most patriotic of their race had acted, we 
may recognize a sense that their trial arose in part from a generous 
motive, that it was a moment when to a patriotic Jew it was hardest 
to stand aside from the agony of his nation. 

5. The alternative to placing the Epistle before the destruction 
of Jerusalem seems to be to place it as late as possible; i.e. in accor- 
dance with what has been already said, shortly before 95^ a.d. Some 
little time must be allowed for the subsidence of the feelings which 
would be aroused by that great calamity before we can imagine a 
writer with the tact and tenderness of the author of this Epistle 
addressing a community of Jewish Christians on such subjects 
without a hint of what had happened. With the later date will go 
probably a destination at some distance from Jerusalem, whether it 
be, according to the many guesses that have been hazarded, Rome 
or Alexandria, or some Eastern Church. There will also go some 
re-reading of the purpose of the Epistle and of the emphasis to be 
heard on one and another of its topics. The hints of moral dangers 
(xii. 16, xiii. 4) will assume more meaning. (It has indeed been 
argued that the mention of them implies necessarily a centre of 
population where the mass was heathen: but this cannot be 
concluded in face of the warnings of the Sermon on the Mount 

1 This is fixed as the latest possible date by the date of the Epistle of 
Clement (see above, p. xi.), which cannot itself be later than 96 a.d. if the 
persecution, mentioned in ch. i. of it, is thai of Domitian, who died in that year. 


(Matt. V. 27 f.) which was addressed to Jews.) The suggestion also 
of "divers and strange teachings" (xiii. 9) will acquire a larger scope. 
What is feared and deprecated will appear in the light not so much 
of a simple reversion to Judaism as of a corruption of Christianity, 
such as we see in progress in the Pastoral Epistles (see 1 Tim. iv. 1-7, 
Tit. i. 14 and iii. 9) and earlier still in the Epistle to the Colossians 
(ii. 16-23), and which meets us in a more developed condition in 
the Ignatian Epistles to Asiatic Churches (Lightfoot's Apostolic 
Fathers, vol. i. p. 359 f.), a mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and 
Gnosticism, which tampered with the reality of the Incarnation 
and grafted on the simplicity of the Gospel ascetic doctrines and 
practices such as rules about "meats and drinks," and disparagement 
of marriage, and invented fanciful cults, as the "worshipping of 
angels" (see additional note on p. 5 and notes on ch. ix. 10, xiii. 4, 9). 
6. In deciding between the earlier and the later date we have no 
clear help from the internal references to places and persons. The 
salutation (xiii. 24) from them "of Italy" is capable of several 
interpretations and will suit any theory. The reference to Timothy 
(xiii. 23) is beyond our explanation. It points to one of the 
Pauline circle as the writer of the Epistle ; and it is more likely that 
it refers to a date near the time when Timothy was going and coming 
to and from the Apostle than (if that is the alternative) to a time 
some 35 years later. Harnack, supporting the theory that Rome was 
the destination of the Epistle, finds evidence of it in the fact that 
the Epistle was known to Clement': but that argument is lessened 
in weight if, when Clement quoted it, the Epistle had been in 
existence for some 30 years. Harnack is thinking of it as having 
been written more nearly to the time of Clement's own Epistle. 

IV. The method of the Epistle. 

1. It has been said already that the style and mode of 
composition are different from those of St Paul's Epistles. Origen 
summed up the difference in the saying that this Epistle is "more 
Greek." It is "more Greek" especially in what cannot be reproduced 
in a translation, the choice and balanced ordering of words with a 
view to sound as well as sense which reminds us constantly of Greek 
rhetoric, that is of the appeals to the ear which their Greek nature 

* Die Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur, i. 477. 


taught to the great orators, and which were tabulated and imitated 
in the rhetorical schools. But there is one illustration of the 
difiference which an English reader can follow easily. The Epistle 
is, in a sense beyond any other Epistle in the New Testament, an 
artistic whole. It is a letter, but at the same time it is an impassioned 
treatise or piece of oratory \ having a single purpose, ardently felt, 
clearly conceived, never lost to sight. The whole argument is in 
view from the beginning. Whether in the purely argumentative 
passages or in those which are in form hortatory, we are constantly 
meeting phrases which are to be taken up again and to have their 
full meaning given to them later on. The plan itself develops. 
While the figures to some extent change and take fresh colour, 
there is growing through all, in trait on trait, the picture which the 
writer designs to leave before his readers' minds. This artistic 
character of the composition has to be remembered in interpretation 
of the Epistle, and even in questions of text. It is not only a 
question whether a given interpretation makes the writer say what 
is true, nor even what is in harmony with what he says elsewhere. 
The question will be whether it is what he is likely to have said in 
this particular place, whether he has reached the point in his 
argument at which it would help his purpose. The writer, it 
cannot be said too often, writes to persuade. The meaning in the 
first instance of any particular passage is the meaning which its 
first readers would put upon it, and which would to them and at that 
stage in the argument conduce to persuasion. 

2. The ultimate purpose of the Epistle, as we read it, is to bring 
its readers (Jews at once and Christians, but hesitating, looking 
back, "babes" at present in the deeper meaning of their new faith) 
to the full Christian position, to preach as fully as St Paul that 
"Christ is the end of the Law," and with the corollary, which 
cannot but follow, that in Him "there is neither Jew nor Gentile." 
But though the end will be the same, the road is different. This 
Epistle is addressed to Jewish Christians and appeals to them from 
the point of view of their own Scriptures. But it vivifies those 
Scriptures. It exhibits them as witnessing continuously to some- 
thing greater, to a spiritual reality of which the Tabernacle and its 
rites were only a copy and shadow. It takes the readers back 
behind the Levitical ordinances to the needs of human nature 

1 In the writer's own phrase it is "a word of exhortation" (xiii. 22), i.e. a 
sermon or speech: cf. Acts xiii. 15. 


to which they were meant to minister. The fear of death 
(ii. 15), the craving for sympathy (ii. 17, 18, iv, 15), the stings 
of conscience (ix. 14, x. 22), are experiences which put all 
mankind on a level. The great addition which the Epistle 
makes to the Pauline presentment of the Christian scheme is in 
the concentration of the scattered images, by which the relation 
of the life and death of Christ to human sin is represented, in the 
fully realized figure of the Great High Priest offering the sacrifices 
as of the Day of Atonement and entering for His people within the 
veil. That went home directly to the conscience of the pious Jew : 
but in applying it, the Epistle shews that what Prophecy bade him 
look for was a High Priest who while He fulfilled, as the antitype, 
the typical functions of the Aaronic priesthood, was of a personality 
indefinitely greater than Aaron's. The Priesthood "after the order 
of Melchizedek" was not only outside of the Levitical Law but 
outside of the sacred race ; representative not of a local but of a 
world-wide religion. This conclusion is not pressed in words ; but 
it is behind much of the language used of the singleness, the 
perfection, the spiritual nature of the work of the Ideal High Priest. 
In the same way although the comparison sets out only to shew the 
Christian dispensation as superior to the Mosaic, superior in the 
dignity of the Intermediary and in the completeness of the 
Reconciliation, as the argument unfolds, as the writer explains Who 
the Intermediary is, as he dwells on the completeness and 
universality of the Atonement, it is clear — it must have been 
clear to the readers — that what has been asserted is not merely 
the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, but its superiority to all 
religions, its position as the One religion, the final and sufficient 
Revelation of God to man. 

V. General summary of the contents. 

i. 1-3. The Epistle opens with a comparison, rhetorical in form, 

of the two Dispensations. Both are Revelations from God, 
but they are contrasted in respect of (1) cJiara^cter — the 
one through many mouths, occasional, fragmentary : the 
other through One, complete and final. (2) the dignity 
of the Intermediaries : (a) the prophets, God's mouthpieces : 
(J)) a Son ; His transcendent dignity (i) in His essence, 


as the perfect Revelation of the Father's Glory, (ii) in His 
offics, as the Redeemer, the Messiah, of prophecy. 

N.B. that in v. 3 ("when he had made purification of 
sins, sat down &c.") we are introduced (1) to the truth 
that both Dispensations are not Revelations only, but 
schemes of atonement for sin, (2) to the great Messianic 
prophecy of Ps. ex. ; both of which will occupy so much 
space in the Epistle. 

4. "In both these respects He stands far above any angel." 

[The point is made clearer in ch. ii. 2, "The word spoken 
by angels." The Law was given to Moses through "the 
angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai," Acts vii. 
38, 53; Gal. iii. 19.] 

5-14. This needed no proof to any one who accepted the 
statement of what He was in essence : but the writer 
proves it in respect of His office by recalling the terms in 
which Psalmists and Prophets had admittedly spoken 

(1) of the Messiah as a Son, as Himself Divine, 

(2) of angels as servants, created beings. 

ii. 1-4. A hortatory passage: "If the Law given through 

angels was enforced as it was, what of those who fall 
away from so much more august a Dispensation?" 

5-18. The writer goes back to prophecy (Psalms viii. and xxii. 
and Isaiah viii.) to shew that glorification through humilia- 
tion and real brotherhood with the human race ("He did 
not come to help angels," v. 16) were essential parts of the 
historic conception of the Messiah. 

Incidentally {vv. 14-18) two reasons are set out for the 
real incarnation of the Son of God ; viz. to meet the needs 
of humanity (1) by setting men free from the fear of death, 
(2) by assuring them that they have a High Priest who 
can at once feel with them and reconcile them to God. 

This last point opens the subject which will take so 
much of the Epistle, the character of an effectual Priest- 

iii. 1. Our thoughts then are to be concentrated on "Jesus," 
as (the subject is divided by the two titles which are 
applied to Him) at once "the Apostle" (i.e. the Envoy — 


the title coming from the verb used in Exodus of the 
"mission" of Moses) "and the High Priest whom we 

2-6. Jesus is the Moses of the new Dispensation. But we 
are bidden to contrast the terms used of the two : Moses 
has high praise, but as a servant in God's house: the 
Messiah is the Son, over His own house. 

7-19. Here the writer pauses again to press a lesson from 
this second contrast. He does this in the words of Psalm 
xcv. That Psalm had a double force: (1) It reminded 
them how their forefathers fell away from Moses and so 
forfeited the promised rest. 

iv. 1-13. (2) It was a standing witness that in the counsels of 
God there had always been a rest looked forward to, more 
complete and abiding than the rest which Joshua gave them 
in Canaan. Let them beware of repeating their forefathers' 
sin ; for God's revelation was not to be trifled with. 

14-16. Then he turns to the other title. Christ is not the 
Moses only, but the Aaron also of the new Dispensation. 
In this case the practical exhortation comes first: "Seeing 
that we have such a high priest, let us hold fast our 
profession (not fall away, as they were inclined to do) and 
come boldly to the throne of grace." [Notice that this 
exhortation is taken up again in ch. x. 19 when the 
Priesthood of Christ has been fully set forth.] 

V. 1-10. Here begins the exposition of the statement that the 
Christ is the true High Priest. "What are the necessary 
conditions of a human High Priest?" (1) That he 
should be a partaker of human infirmities, in order that 
he may have a fellow-feeling : (2) that His office should 
not be self-assumed, but assigned to him by God, as Aaron's 

See then how the Messiah fulfils both requirements : 
for (1) as man He passed through the discipline of suffering 
to the power of atoning for men, (2) the same Voice which 
in Ps. ii. hailed Him as the Royal Son names Him in 
Ps. ex. the Eternal Priest after the order of Melchizedek. 


"A Priest after the order of MelcMzedeJc." This 
is the phrase from Ps. ex. in which the writer seems to 
find what he was feeling after, a way of explaining without 
offence to Jewish susceptibilities the relation between the 
11-14. Priesthood of Christ and the Priesthood of the Law. It 
will be the key to much of the remaining part of the 
Epistle : but before entering on its explanation he pauses 
to ask for special attention and to meet the objection that 
he is offering his readers something novel and hard. "It 
is hard," he answers in effect, "and novel, in the sense that 
all new lessons are. But you must face such difficulties, 
or you cannot advance. You cannot be children always." 

vi. 1-12. Let us leave then (here begins ch. vi.) the elementary 
teaching that befits catechumens and go on to fuller Christian 
truth. There is one thing thatwewill not suppose, yiz.falUng 
hack. We have no teaching still in store that can cure that. 
Your fault lies in want of hopefulness. Imitate the faith 
and patience of Abraham. Your security in the promise is 
the same as his and yet greater. It is in heaven whither 
Jesus has entered [interpreting the symbolism of the Great 
Day of Atonement] through the veil, both to make atone- 
ment and as a pledge that you also may enter. 

vii. 1-10. The explanation of the phrase "a priest for ever after 
the order of Melchizedek" falls into two parts. 

1. A recalling of the wording in Gen. xiv. in order 
to shew what material the Psalmist had in the story 
for his conception — the import of the names — the silence 
of Scripture as to predecessor or successor [the suggestion 
being that the Psalmist implied that a priesthood "after 
his order" would be an eternal and superhuman one] — 
the relation of superiority which Melchizedek assumes 
to Abraham. 

11-28. 2. The conclusions to be drawn by way of comment 

on the prophecy in Ps. ex. Is it not clear that it implied 
that the Levitical priesthood, and therefore the Levitical 
Law, was incomplete and temporary? All the phrases 
"the Lord sware," "for ever" are meant to convey the 
sense of greater solemnity, higher dignity. The Priest of 
the Law was a man, full of infirmities. The Priest of the 


Oath (the priest for whom human nature craved) is God's 
own Sod, with every qualification perfected eternally. 

viii. 1-4. So much for the personality of the ideal High Priest — 
but now for His functions. He must (this is part of the 
definition of a High Priest) have "something to offer." 
But where and what? Not on earth, for the place is 
occupied by the Levitical priests. 

Before proceeding to exhibit the failure of the Levitical 
system of sacrifices and to contrast them with the One 
perfect and all-sufficient Sacrifice, the writer falls back 
again on two passages in the Old Testament which prepare 
the way for his exposition. 

5, 6. 1. (The answer to "where?") He reminds his readers 
that the Tabernacle and all its appurtenances were 
confessedly in their beginning only copies of eternal 
realities shewn to Moses in the mount. 

7-13. 2. (The answer to "what?") He recalls at length 
the prophecy of Jer. xxxi. which speaks of a new and more 
effectual Covenant which was to supersede the Mosaic 

ix, 1-10. He then proceeds to recall in detail the elaborate 
arrangements of the Levitical sanctuary and provisions 
for service ; but to point out that the very division of the 
Holy place from the Holy of Holies and the restricted 
access allowed to the latter were a confession that a 
meeting-place of God and man was not yet found. It was 
the same with the ordinances of service, all was imperfect, 
material, typical. 

11-14. The better system had now come— the better, heavenly, 
sanctuary— the eternal redemption— the spiritual sacrifice. 
15. This was the sacrifice waited for to give efiicacy to the 
atonements of the Old Covenant. 

16-28. The following section is apologetic, answering (but 
without fully stating the difficulty which it answers) the 
objection felt by a Jew to associating the Messiah with 
death. He answers it by three analogies. 

1. The necessary association of a testament with the 
death of the testator. 


2. The inauguration by sacrifice of the Old Covenant. 

3. The principle which ran through the Levitical Law 
that sacrifice was necessary to atonement — typical shedding 
of blood for ceremonial atonement, but something more 
august for the cleansing of the "heavenly things" — the 
One Sacrifice that crowns the ages and, once and for all, 
puts away sin. 

X. 1-18. Summing up of the argument. The Law was an 
outline of good things to come, not the real presentation 
of the things. The "blood of bulls and goats could not 
take away sin." Once more the finality of the Christian 
Sacrifice is put on the authority of Scripture, Ps. xl., Ps. ex., 
Jer. xxxi. 
19-25. Here the argument proper is ended, and the exhorta- 
tion recommences. First the writer recalls what they 
had gained in Christianity as it was stated in ch. iv. 14. 
All that was said there of the duty of using the 
privileges won by the "great High Priest" can be said 
again now with fuller understanding. One thing that is 
added here is the call to an unselfish religion and to 
standing together in the days of trial at hand {vv. 24, 25). 

26-31. The appeal for steadfastness and unity is then put on 

three grounds. 

1. The terrible danger of apostasy. 
32-39. 2. The memory of their own Christian courage and 

charity in time past. 

xi. and 3. The historic glory of faith in the unseen, with its 
xii. 1, 2. climax in Jesus Himself and its lessons for themselves. 

The rest of ch. xii. falls into three parts. 
3-11. 1. An exhortation to view suffering as God's loving 
12-17. 2. Warnings against moral inconsistencies. 
18-29. 3. A peroration consisting of a fervidly worded 
contrast between the two Covenants. 

xiii. The last chapter reads as a postscript. It emphasizes 

the moral warnings ; but it also reveals several fresh 
features in the supposed situation. The persons addressed 


are Judaizers, adding to the Gospel a "patchwork of alien 
doctrines" and practices. They are at issue with the 
"leaders" of their Church. They need to be summoned 
to choose once for all between Judaism and Christianity, 
to come " outside the camp " and take their place by the 
crucified Christ. 

The Epistle ends with a blessing which recalls some of 
its topics, with a last word of apology, and some short 


The two Revelations (i. 1, 2). 

There have been two Revelations, both from God. There was the one 
which we know so well, which was given to our forefathers through the 
long succession of the Prophets. The Revelation which has been given to 
us is what that was not. It has come to close the era which the other 
began and went along with. It is complete and final where that was 
occasional and fragmentary. It is single in form (in One Person and Life) 
where that was manifold. It is given to us not through human mouthpieces 
but through One Who is Himself God's own Son, the predestined Heir for 
Whom, as well as the Agent by Whom, everything, past, present and to 
come, has been created. 

The Son as the Revealer (3, 4). 

He is — that is His essential Being — the Supreme Revealer, in that He 
is Himself the perfect image of God, the sustainer, by His creative word, of 
all life. But He is supreme not only in His eternal relation to God and to 
everything that is or can be, but also, since He entered the world of 
becoming, in His Incarnation and Exaltation. He wrought the complete 
atonement for human sin; and then He fulfilled the prophecy of Ps. ex. and 
" sat down at God's right hand," the eternal Priest- King, supreme in His 
human natiu-e over the highest created beings, as the Scriptures have 
witnessed by the Name which, according to them. He was to claim as His 

Comparison of the Messiah with the angels (5-14). 

He was to be (that is to say) God's own Son (Pss. ii. and Ixxxix., 
2 Sam. vii.), the object in His Incarnation of worship to the angels 
(Deut. xxxii.). The angels themselves were spoken of as God's agents in 
the material sphere, as "becoming" winds and fire (Ps. civ.); the Christ 
of prophecy was spoken of as God's Vicegerent in the m,oral sphere, as the 
eternal, righteous King (Ps. xlv.). 

To the material world He was to be the Creator, Who is for ever, whereas 
all created things pass (Ps. cii.). 

To sum up in the quotation made already from Ps. ex., He was to be the 
Co-sessor on God's throne : they are (as we read often in the Psalms) the 
messengers despatched to do Him service by ministering to His people. 

H, C 


The attention thus bespoken fob the Revelation itself (il 1-4). 

Stop now for a moment to reflect what earnest attention all this bespeaks 
for the Revelation itself. If the old Revelation, given through the media- 
tion of angels, had such sanctions ; what can we expect if we treat lightly a 
message of deliverance so much more wonderful — a message brought by the 
Lord Himself, and resting, for us, not only on the testimony of those who 
heard Him with their own ears, but also on the testimony to their credi- 
bility borne by God in miracles and supernatural gifts ? 

The Son as the Reconciler. The reason here, in the nature 
OF the case, for a real Incarnation (5-18). 

We have spoken of the infinite superiority of the Son to any angel. But 
in truth the Scripture says of man what it says of no angel. There is no 
prophecy of the sovereignty of angels over the world as it is to be: but 
there is a prophecy (in Ps. viii.) which speaks of the universal dominion 
meant for man, though he starts from a place below the angels. To the 
human race as a whole that prophecy is not yet fulfilled; but we see it 
fulfilled in Jesus, " made a little lower than the angels," humiliated even to 
the suffering of death ; yet for that death "crowned with glory and honour" ; 
and all in the loving purpose of God that He should taste the bitterness of 
death for all mankind. Do we cavil or wonder ? It was surely in perfect 
accordance with God's Nature (and what more can be asked?), when He 
brought many sons to glory, to let their Leader win His perfect qualifica- 
tion through sufi"ering. 

The Consecrator of the holy nation and the holy nation itself are of one 
Father. This is why in the prophetic Scriptures the Messiah is pictured as 
calling the members of the Church His " brethren " (Ps. xxii.), as leading 
their worship {ibid.), as putting Himself by their side in His attitude 
towards God (Is. viii.), as claiming them as children given to Him by God 
{ibid.). " Children," " brethren " ! Then there must be some community of 
conditions between them. They are of flesh and blood. They are subject 
to death. So He took flesh and blood, and subjected Himself to death, 
that so He might make death itself the instrument in reducing to impotence 
him who wields the power of death, the accusing spirit, and might set free, 
as from an Egyptian bondage, those whom the fear of death kept in slavery. 
He came not to lend a hand of rescue to angels, but (as Moses did) to sons 
of Abraham. So from all sides it was of the essence of His purpose that 
He should be made really like to His brethren, that in the High-Priestly 
work of reconciliation, through which the rescue was to be accomplished, 
He might be able to represent men as towards God, and to make them 
trust Him as feeling with them. They are tempted and they suffer; and 
therefore He must have been tempted and have sufi"ered. 

Christ at once the Moses and Aaron of the New Dispensation 
(in. 1). 

Thinking then of this holy brotherhood which you share, of the call from 
heaven which you have heard as much as your forefathers heard it, set your 
whole thoughts on Him whom you have acknowledged to be to you at once 
all that Moses and all that Aaron was to them. 


All that Moses was — but how much greater than Moses! (2-6). 

It was said of Moses [1 Sam. xii. 6; Numb. xii. 7] that he was "faithful to 
God who appointed him," "faithful in all God's house." The same may 
be said of the Second Moses. But do not forget the difference. He who 
builds and furnishes a house is of more account than the house: and 
God is the Builder of the house, as of all things. Moses was the faithful 
"servant" in the house. His part was to bear witness to a gi-eater 
Revelation yet to come. The Christ is the "Son" of the Owner of the 
house ; over the house, not in it. We are the house ; if only we maintain 
the high tone of proud and confident hope. 


Remember then the warning of Ps. xcv. Take heed lest what happened 
to your forefathers happen to you ; lest there be found presently in some of 
you that opposite of the "honest and good heart," a heart that will not 
listen, that "errs" (as the Psalm says), falls away from God as your fathers 
knew Him, the True, the Terrible. Exhort, encourage one another day by 
day, while the time for hearing God's voice lasts; lest any of you be 
hardened through one of the many delusions by which sin closes the ears, 
for those words addressed to you, 

"To-day if ye shall hear his voice, 
Harden not your hearts as in the provocation," 
imply that you, like your forefathers, have received a great privilege, but 
subject to a great risk. You are partners with the Messiah, in His enter- 
prise. His salvation, His glory, if only you keep to the end that courage 
and pride in His cause with which you began. 

For what does that "provocation" mean? Who provoked? Was 
it not the mass of those who had been rescued from Egypt by Moses? 
With whom was He "displeased forty years"? Was it not the whole 
nation that sinned and so left their bones in the wilderness ? To whom did 
He " swear that they should not enter into His rest " ? Was it not to those 
who were disobedient? And we see that the threat was fulfilled. They 
could not enter in because they did not listen. 


Seeing then what on that occasion befel God's redeemed people, and 
seeing that there is a promise still unfulfilled, and still holding, of entering 
into God's rest, we may well fear lest some of you (we hardly like to say it) 
should fail of it. For indeed we are like them in that we have had good 
tidings brought to us, as they had. But the message, though it reached 
them, did them no good, because those who heard it lacked the faith which 
was necessary to give it effect [see note on difficulty of text and therefore 
of exact interpretation]. We, I say, have had good tidings brought to us ; 
for we are on our way, we that have accepted the Christian offer, to that 
perfect rest of which Ps. xcv. spoke in the words " into my rest." It was 



not speaking of God Himself as entering into rest : for His work was done 
at the Creation, as Gen. ii. 2 testifies. But put together Gen. ii. 2 and 
Ps. xcv. and it follows that there were some still for whom that rest 
"remained." It was not attained by Israel in the wilderness to whom 
the good tidings first came, for they failed from lack of obedience ; and so 
the promise is repeated in Ps. xcv., a long time afterwards; for neither 
was the rest given by Joshua the perfect rest. There is therefore still in 
store for God's people a real "sabbath-keeping," a rest (in other words) like 
the rest of God's seventh day; for "God's rest" must mean a real cessation, 
like that of God, from work. 

Let us then make every effort to enter into that rest, and avoid the 
example of those who forfeited it by disobedience. For the warnings of 
God's Word are serious: it is not a dead thing, but living, as He is; 
piercing to the depths of soul and spirit, as the sharpest sword might 
penetrate to the joint, to the marrow within the bone. It judges the 
thoughts and purposes. No creatm*e in all the world can avoid the All- 
seeing Eye. 

The Greater Aaron (see iii. 1). The High Priest at once human 


Let us hold fast then to the truth as we have acknowledged it. As was 
said before, we have a High Priest, one so great, one who has passed not 
through the veil of an earthly tabemacle but through the heavens, Jesus, 
our human Saviour, but the Son of God. In spite of His greatness He is 
not beyond our sphere. He can feel with us ; for He has been tried even 
as we are in all points, save that He did not yield to sin. Let us avail 
ourselves of the access opened by our High Priest and draw near boldly to 
the Mercy Seat to receive pardon and grace. 

Two requirements to a High Priest's office (v. 1-4). 

"We have a high priest." Think then of the two conditions required in 
a human high priest. He is to stand between God and man : therefore 

1. As from the side of the people, he must be one of those whom he 
represents, in order that from his own consciousness of weakness, which 
obliges him to olfer sacrifices for his own sins as well as those of the people, 
he may learn to be tolerant of infirmity. 

2. As from the side of God, he must be not self-appointed but "called" 
as was Aaron. 

Both requirements fulfilled in the Christ (5-10). 

The Christ fulfils both conditions. He " glorified not Himself to be an 
High Priest." The same Voice of God in prophecy which hailed Him as 
the "Son" hailed Him also as the "Priest for ever after the order of 
Melchizedek." But yet. Son though He was. He submitted to the same 
discipline as men, and learned obedience, as they learn it, by suifering, and 
then when this qualification was fully attained became, to all who will learn 
the same lesson, the " author of an everlasting salvation " ; for (as we have 


seen) God Himself had named Him the " High Priest after the order of 

[In this twice repeated phrase the writer has found the expression by 
which to expound to Jewish Christians the truth that the Christ is, and 
according to prophecy was to be, the Second Aaron, but as in the com- 
parison with Moses, a greater than Aaron. But be/ore doing so he 
pauses to appeal /or a fair hearing for ichat he evidently treats as a 
novel argument^ 

Apology for the difficulty and (in a sense) novelty of the 
argument (11-14). 

In using this phrase ("the high priest after the order of Melchizedek") 
we are opening a matter on which there is much to say and in which you 
will find difficulties; but this is because a torpor has settled on your 
spiritual inteUigence. You have been Christians long enough to be now 
teachers of Christian truth: but you have fallen back to the position of 
those who need to learn the alphabet of the Christian reading of Holy 
Scripture. You have come to want again the milk for babes. That means 
that you have not yet that exercised moral sense which will enable you to 
discern for yourselves, in a matter where conscience is concerned, what is 
to be chosen and what is to be refused. 

The duty of advance, and the risk of falling back (vl 1-9). 

Come then, let us leave behind us the first lessons of Christian teaching, 
of repentance and faith, of the meaning of washings and laying on of hands, 
of resurrection and judgement. They are the necessary foundations for 
a Catechumen : but it is time to go forward. That is what I desire and 
purpose for yoiL For indeed the thought of going back is terrible — of 
having seen the light, tasted the gift, shared in the outpouring of the 
Holy Spirit, learnt the value of God's Revelation and the powers of the 
New Dispensation, and then of falling away from it all. There is no 
teaching kept in store to give a fresh start and change of view to those 
who put themselves back into the place of those who crucified our Lord 
and who in this way put Him to shame in the eyes of the world. They 
are like land for which the skies and the tiller have done all that can 
be done : it must now earn, if not the blessing of fertility, the curse of 

The need of hopefulness (9-12). 

But, beloved, we know well that this is not your case. You have 
something better than the spiritual gifts I have named. You have shewn 
— God will not forget it — the great grace of love, for His Name and for all 
who bear it. What we eagerly desire is to see an equally earnest setting of 
your minds in the direction of hopefulness — hopefulness in spite of dis- 
couragements — that you may wake up from your torpor and imitate those 
of all time who have trusted and been patient and have come into possession 
of what was promised to them. 


God's sworn promises— to Abraham and to us (13-20). 

Remember Abraham's story. We read that God had promised to bless 
and multiply his seed, and that He confirmed this promise by an oath " by 
Himself"; that Abraham believed and was patient, and that the promise 
was fulfilled. 

It is a condescension to human weakness. An oath is an appeal to one 
who is greater than he that swears : and that appeal in human atfairs is felt 
to give security. God has none greater than Himself ; but in His desire to 
give even superfluous security to those who should stand in Abraham's 
place and look forward to the fulfilment to themselves of the promise made 
to him, He has again [in Ps. ex.] interposed with an oath ; that they might 
have every encoui-agement to hold fast to the hope ofi'ered them as an 
anchor in a harbour of refuge — the hope in Him who has entered within 
the veil, not as their representative only, but as their forerunner; their 
High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, their High Priest for ever. 

The jrEANiNG of the prophecy of a High Priest after the order 
OP Melchizedek. 

1. Materials for an explanation (vii. 1-10). 

For what is the meaning which the Psalmist put on the words " after 
the order of Melchizedek"? The Melchizedek of whom he spoke was the 
Melchizedek of Gen. xiv. He thought of his names and titles and of the 
actions attributed to him — the " king of righteousness," " king of peace," 
"priest of the most high God." He thought of the way in which he appears 
and disappears in the story— with no human pedigree, no visible beginning 
and ending — of his fitness in these respects to be a type of the Divine Son. 
All this meant to him a Priesthood which sufl"ered no breach of continuity. 

Think again of the dignity of this supposed figure. Compare him with 
Abraham. We find the fiither of our race giving to him the best of the 
spoil. The Levitical priests, no doubt, are bidden by the Law to take 
tithes of their brethren, the sons, like themselves, of Abraham. But here 
we have one who is not in pedigree of their race taking tithes of Abraham, 
and assmning, by blessing him, the position of the superior. Compare him 
with the Levitical priests. They take tithes, but it is as men, that come and 
go. He takes tithes ; but [in the picture given to us in Scripture] he does 
not die. Is it too much to say that Levi himself, as Abraham's unborn 
descendant, paid tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek? 

2. The explanation (11-28). The supersession op the Levitical 
Priesthood, and, if so, of the Levitical Law. 

What are the conclusions from this survey ? 

Does not the existence of such a prophecy of a " Priest after the order 
of Melchizedek " necessarily imply that the Law itself (of which the Priest- 
hood is the foundation) was imperfect and temporary ? The Priesthood 
could not be changed without changing the Law. And the Law teas 
changed— changed in the matter of Tribe : for our Lord was of the tribe 


of Judah, the kingly, not the priestly tribe — changed in mode of appoint- 
ment. The Levitical priests were appointed "after the law of a carnal 
commandment," i.e. on conditions which belong to this life in the flesh 
— the priest " after the order of Melchizedek " in virtue of a spiritual and 
indestructible life. The prophecy implies the supersession of that "carnal 
commandment," for its impotence and uselessness, and the introduction of 
a better hope, giving true access to God. 

We leani the same thing again from the words in the Psalm, " the Lord 
sware." There is no such phrase used of the institution of the Levitical 
Priesthood. It spoke of the greater solemnity of the new and better 

And once more, ''''for ever." Contrast the priests, many, because none 
continues, with the One Continuous and Eternal Priest, who can " save to 
the uttermost" because He lives for ever and lives to intercede. 

To sum up, such was the High Priest that human nature needed — One 
really, not in figure only, blameless in every relation, toward God, toward 
man, toward Himself — really separated from sinners and raised above the 
heavens — who has not constantly fresh need, like the Levitical high priest, 
to offer up sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people ; for 
all that was needed has been done once for all in the sacrifice of Himself. 
In fine, the Priest of the Law was a man full of infirmities : the Priest of 
the oath is God's own Son, with every quahfication perfected eternally. 

What then are the functions op this greater High Priest; and 


And now, to crown our argument, such is our High Priest who fulfilled 
the prophecy of Ps. ex. and is seated at God's right hand, a minister of the 
true, ideal. Holy of Holies, What then are His functions ? They must be 
to offer "gifts and sacrifices"; otherwise He were not a High Priest. But 
where and what ? Not on earth — for the place is occupied by the Levitical 


(5, 6). 

But remember two things : 

The Levitical priests serve in a sanctuary which is confessedly a " copy 
and shadow " of a more august sanctuary. That was the pattern shewn to 
Moses in the mount. Our High Priest has a ministry more excellent than 

(2) The Scriptures bear witness to a New Covenant which was 
to bring a more real atonement (7-13). 

just as the Covenant which He brings is more excellent and the 
promises on which it rests. This again is vouched for in the very heart 
of the ancient Scriptures. Recall at length the great prophecy of the New 
Covenant in Jer. xxxi. What can it mean but that the Old Covenant was 
faulty and a New Covenant required? The very term "a new covenant" 
implies that the first was already obsolescent. 


The ritual op the Old Covenant was ordeely and beautiful: 

BUT IT was limited IN EFFECT (iX. 1-10). 

We do not deny that the first Covenant had its orderly and beautiful 
arrangement of ritual and sanctuary [see note on the difficulties of transla- 
tion, p. 62]. It had its Tabernacle divided into two chambers, the outer 
one, holding the seven-branched candlestick and the table of shewbread, 
which is called in Scripture the Holy Place, and within it, behind a second 
veil, the Holy of Holies, with all its precious and sacred appanage, the altar 
of incense (before the veil), the ark (behind it) with its historic contents, with 
the Chenibim and the Mercy Seat. 

But when we pass from sanctuary to ordinances of service, how narrow 
the limitations ! After all this elaborate provision, it is only to the outer 
chamber that even the priests have access. Into the inner one penetrates 
one person only, the High Priest, once a year, with awful precautions, with 
the blood of sacrifice ofi"ered for himself as well as for the people. What 
was the meaning which by such restrictions the Holy Spirit designed to 
impress ? Surely that, while there was room for that abrupt division of the 
Tabernacle, a real meeting-place of God with man had not been found. 
The division itself was a parable — a parable to last as long as the dispensa- 
tion lasted. It was part and parcel of a system of imperfect typical 
atonements, such as could never cleanse the conscience, — bound up with 
ceremonial rules as to things to eat and to drink and times to wash — 
carnal ordinances which were as a burden on men's shoulders till the time 
should come for putting things on a better footing. 

Superiority of the Christian Atonement (11-14). 

That time has now come. The new High Priest is to win better 
blessings. The tabernacle in which He ministers is a greater and more 
perfect one — in the heavenly, not the material sphere. The blood with 
which He atones is not the blood of dumb cattle but His own Blood. He 
has entered into the Holy of Holies not, like the Levitical High Priests, 
from year to year, but once for all ; and so the redemption won for us is an 
eternal Redemption. Ceremonial offerings can remove ceremonial impurity 
and restore the separated to outward communion with the consecrated 
nation — such sacrifices for instance as those of the Day of Atonement, or 
the sprinkled ashes of a burnt heifer in the case of those who have touched 
a dead body and so contracted uncleanness. So far you feel no difficulty. 
But how much more intelligible is the eS"ect of the spiritual sacrifice in the 
spiritual sphere — the power of the Blood of Christ, the Holy, Spotless 
Victim, ofi"ering Himself willingly, offering Himself in the power of a Spirit 
Eternal and Divine, to make clean your conscience, defiled by actions 
contact with which is as the contact with a corpse, and to restore you 
to the service of the Author of life ! 

And therefore of the New Covenant which completes and renders 
effective the Old (15). 

And (to take another step) it is because of this fact — because Christ is 
the Perfect High Priest, able to offer an eternally effectual sacrifice — that 


He is also the Mediator who can bring about that New Covenant to which 
Jeremiah looked forward : so that, a Death having now at last taken place 
of sufficient value to redeem the transgressions which the first Covenant 
could neither prevent nor atone for, those who have shared Abraham's call, 
in the past as well as in the present and futm-e, may receive what they have 
not received, the promised eternal inheritance. 

The New Covenant rests on a Death. This has raised diffi- 

1. In the experience of common life (16, 17). 

I say a Death having taken place : and this is where some find diflBculty; 
but let them think of three analogies. 

(1) In their experience of worldly business. A testament is a covenant — 
one of the most important and typical of covenants : but it gains all its 
validity fi'om the death of the Testator. 

[See note on the diflBculties of the argument. It seems to be implied 
that the Christian Covenant is, on one side, such a testament, made eflfective 
to us by the death of the Testator.] 

2. From the history op the Old Covenant (18-20). 

(2) From the history of the Old Covenant. That was inaugurated, as we 
read in Exodus, with sacrifices and the sprinkling of blood — " the blood of 
the Covenant," as Moses expressly called it. 

3. From the principle op atonement as imaged in the whole 
Mosaic ritual (21-23). 

(3) But this is the central principle of atonement as imaged in the 
Levitical ritual. " Without shedding of blood is no remission." It was a 
typical "shedding of blood"; as the Tabernacle and all that appertained to 
it were types, " copies." The cleansing of those things of which they were 
copies must need a Sacrifice not less, but infinitely more aug-ust — must 
need, and has found one: for the Sacrifice of Christ is indeed in the 
spiritual sphere : the Holy Place which He entered is one " not made with 
hands": it is the original, not the copy: it is God's own unveiled Presence. 
And it is in the timeless sphere: it is not a repeated offering, as that of the 
Levitical priests: that would have required an often repeated sacrifice in 
times past and times future. It is the One Sacrifice which crowns the ages 
and once for all puts away sin. As surely as men die once, and once only, 
and then the life is summed for judgement, so the offering of Christ for 
human sin was an offering once for all : when He appears again the relation 
to sin will be altered : it will not be as the Victim for the expiation of sin 
but as the triumphant Deliverer of those who are looking for Him. 

Summing up op argument (x. 1-18). 

See then fully what is behind all this that we have been saying. The 
Law was an "outline of good things to come, not the true presentation 
of the things themselves." That very recurrence of the sacrifices was a 
confession of their ineflacacy. They were a "remembrance made of sins 


year by year," not a removal of the sins. "The blood of bulls and goats 
could not take away sin." Here is the meaning of the great words in Ps. xl. 
The sacrifice of the will was to supersede the sacrifice of burnt offerings. It 
is in Christ's perfect obedience, the offering of His Body once for all, that 
we Christians have been consecrated to God's service. Here again is the 
meaning of some words not yet commented on in the prophecy of Ps. ex., 
"Sit down at my right hand." The Levitical priests still stand, offering 
again and again the same ineffectual sacrifices. But His work is done. He has 
sat doicn, to wait till "His enemies are made the footstool of His feet." By 
one ofi'ering He has done once and for all what is needed for those in every 
generation who offer themselves to be consecrated. And once more here is 
the great promise in Jer. xxxi. of the New Covenant: "their sins and 
iniquities will I remember no more." The Law is written in the heart; the 
sins are forgiven. No more sacrifice is needed. 

The pbactical conclusion (19-25). 

So then, dear brothers (to go back now to the exhortation with which I 
began [i.e. in ch. iv. 14], but keeping in mind all that has been said in the 
meantime), since we may be bold not merely (as we said then) to draw near 
to the Sanctuary, but, in virtue of the "Blood of Jesus," to enter into it by 
that way, the new and living way which He has opened to us, through the 
rent Veil, that is to say, His own human nature; and seeing that the Lord 
of that world beyond the veil is the Divine Priest who has made atonement 
for us, let us hesitate no longer: let us draw near with full purpose of heart 
and with perfect confidence, remembering that [as our Baptism reminds us] 
we have both in inward meaning and outward form received each of us the 
consecration as of a High Priest. We have confessed publicly our hope: 
let us cling to that confession and hold it firmly : for God, on His side, may 
be trusted to keep His promise. Let us set our whole thoughts not on our- 
selves but on one another, that so we may give a fresh edge to our mutual 
love and generous action. Above all do not, as some have done, withdraw 
fi-om the meetings of the Christian body. We need to stand together more 
closely and to encourage one another more persistently as the great day of 
trial and of triumph seems to be coming nearer. 

Ground op his appeal. (1) The dangers op apostasy (26-30). 

I plead with you thus because the danger is great. If, after fully appre- 
hending the Truth, we are found when that day comes wilfully and 
persistently apostatizing from it, what is held in reserve for us is not 
some greater and finally eflfective Sacrifice for sin ; but the terrible 
anticipation of judgement, the "jealousy of fire to devour adversaries,' 
of which the prophets spoke. Remember the punishment of apostasy 
under the Mosaic Law — "death without mercy," if it were sufficiently 
proved. Must not the punishment of apostasy be still sorer for one who 
treats with ingratitude and contumely the Father's gift of His own Son, the 
Blood of the Son of God which sealed the consecrating Covenant, the free 
and gracious gift of the Holy Spirit ? We know what Scripture tells us of 


the God "to whom vengeance belongs"; and how to be God's people means 
to be subject to His judgement. I used just now the word "terrible." Is 
it too strong to describe the danger of falling as an enemy into His hands ? 

(2) Memory op former steadfastness (26-30). 

To turn to thoughts of encouragement: remember how in early days, 
after you became Christians, you bore yourselves in the face of the world, 
when you had to meet insult and persecution ; how on one special occasion 
you ranged yourselves on the side of the persecuted, proclaimed your 
sympathy for the prisoners, joyfully exposed your own property to pillage, 
knowing that your souls were a better and more lasting possession to make 
your own than anything external. Do not now, in a moment of impulse, 
throw away that outspoken boldness, to which such great reward is 
promised. All you need is patience. Do God's will, and the promise stands 
sure, the very promise of Habakkuk, "yet a little while and He that is to 
come will come." God's "righteous ones" shall "hve by faith." To "flinch 
from the trial" is to forfeit all His favour. We range ourselves, surely, not 
with those who "flinch" and incur ruin, but with those who have "faith," and 
so in patience win their souls. 

The historic glory of faith (xi. and xii. to v. 4). 

The meaning of faith (xi. 1). 

Faith ! That is what is needed : and when the prophet speaks, or when 
we speak, of faith, let us remember fully what that means. Faith assures, 
it offers proof: but it is of things hoped for, things beyond sight. It is 
faith in this sense, faith beyond sight, which is the historic glory of our great 

Faith as the foundation of religion (3-6). 

It is what the first words of Scripture call for. To believe in a Creator 
means that behind what is seen is what is not seen. It is what made Abel's 
sacrifice acceptable, which caused him, even in death, to be recognized as an 
undying witness for righteousness. It was in Enoch the secret of that 
special favour of God which was expressed in his translation. He believed 
in two things which are beyond sight: God's existence, and His moral 

Faith in God's threatenings and promises (7-12). 
(Noah — Abraham — Sarah.) 

It is what Noah shewed when he reverently accepted God's warning, and 
though the flood was still in the unseen future set to building an ark for 
himself and his family. In so doing he passed sentence on the unbelieving 
world and ranged himself in the succession of those who do right because 
they follow faith. 

It is what Abraham shewed when he obeyed God's call and left his home 
without knowing whither he was going, when he made his only home in tents, 
he and two generations after him, in the land promised to him, but with no 


sign of its belonging to him. He was looking forward to the building of a 
City of God. 

So with Sarah, too. She believed God's promise to Abraham and herself, 
in spite of all the improbability, and her faith Avas justified by their becoming 
the progenitors of a race like the stars or sand for multitude. 

Patience of the patriarchs (13-16). 

Faith was the secret of the life of all these. They did not receive the 
promised good things, but saw them as sailors sight land in the offing and 
greet it afar. "Strangers and pilgrims" — those are the titles which they 
gave themselves. That is the language of men who are on their way to 
some other country. What was that country ? Not the one from which they 
came: for they might have gone back to it. It was a "better laud," that is, 
it was not an earthly but a heavenly land. And this is why God suffered 
Himself to be identified throughout om* history as their God [i.e. as "the 
God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob"] : for their faith was justified. That 
"City of God" of their dreams was a real one. 

Faith that faces sacrifice (Abraham. 17-19). 

It was through faith, again, that Abraham faced his great trial and was 
ready with his own hands to sacrifice the son of promise. His faith went 
beyond the visible world. He believed that God could give him back his 
son, even after death : and that was, in a parable, what he was taught. 

Faith that looks par forward (Isaac — Jacob— Joseph. 20-22). 

Thei'e was the same characteristic of reliance on the unseen future in 
Isaac's faith when he gave the blessing to his two sons ; in Jacob's when he 
blessed Ephraim and Manasseh and charged Joseph about his bm-ial; in 
Joseph's when he looked forward to the Exodus and desired to have his 
bones laid in the Promised Land. 

Faith in the history op Moses and the Exodus (23-31). 

Take again the history of Moses and the Exodus. The parents of Moses 
shewed their faith when they ignored the king's commandment and saved his 
life at his birth. So he did himself afterwards when he refused to be adopted 
by Pharaoh's daughter. The visible choice was between the pleasures and 
riches to be won by apostasy and the hardships and reproaches which were 
the portion of God's people and those who shared the Messianic hope. But 
he looked past these visible things to the invisible reward beyond. It was 
in the sight of Him who is invisible that he found courage to defy the king 
and turn his back on Egypt. 

It was in reliance on unseen forces — a reliance which was justified by the 
event — that they kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood on the door- 
posts, and so escaped the destroying angel ; that they passed safely through 
the Red Sea, though the Egyptians, trying to do the same, were drowned. 

It was an unseen touch that brought down the walls of Jericho after the 
people had patiently marched round them for seven days. It was to unseen 
power that Rahab trusted when she sided with the defenceless spies. 


Faith in all Jewish history (32-46). 

And so it has been all through the sacred history, from the Judges to the 
Maccabees. Judges, Kings, and Prophets — the Judges who overthrew kings, 
the Kings who did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, the Prophets 
who saw visions that came true — all rested on faith in the unseen. That 
was the secret of the great deliverances of the Captivity, of the Feast of 
Purim, of the Maccabees. Faithful women received their dead raised to 
life again. But faith was illustrated yet more gloriously in the heroic 
mother [of 2 Mace, vii.] who encouraged her sons to suffer martyrdom in 
the hope of a "better resurrection," of a more distant and invisible, but 
yet a greater, reward. 

So it was with all the Martyrs and Confessors of our history : it was faith, 
to the end, in the unseen. They suffered every extremity and indignity, 
though they were worth all the world besides. And yet in spite of the 
witness borne in Scripture to their sufferings and their faith, they had to 
wait still ; because God had in view something better in which we were 
to be concerned, and meant them to share with us the full and final reward 
of their faith. 

Faith m our own lives and in that of the Lord Jesus (xil 1, 2). 

What has been the purpose of this long catalogue ? Is not the Imperative 
conclusion from it that, seeing that wherever we turn our eyes the horizon 
is closed in vsdth a company of those who testify to the greatness and the 
reward of faith, we too should get rid of every encumbrance, strip 
ourselves of sin's entanglements, and, like them, with patience run the 
race proposed to us, fixing our eyes on one sight, on Jesus, the great 
Leader, the perfect example of Faith, who, for the joy which was 
proposed to Him, endured the Cross, meeting shame with contempt, and 
took and holds the supreme place by the right hand of God's throne ? 

Suffering, as discipline (3-11). 

Yes — that you lose not patience and courage in the struggle, compare 
what you have to bear with what He had to bear [as a second Moses] from 
the opposition of men who were their own worst enemies. Compare the 
way in which you bear it with the way in which He bore it. You were not 
called [as He was] to resist unto blood in your battle with the temptation 
to apostasy. And you had forgotten [as He did not] the words of fatherly 
exhortation in which the writer of the Book of Proverbs argues with such 
as you. He calls you "sons." He bids you not ignore God's chastening 
or be put out of heart by His discipline. Chastening is a proof of love 
— even painful discipline — an evidence that you are recognized as sons 
What you bear patiently you are bearing as discipline. You are being 
treated as sons. To be free from chastening would argue that you were 
no true sons. We took chastening from an earthly father's hands and gave 
him reverence. Shall we not submit to the Father of our spirits, who 
would fit us for eternal life ? The human chastisement was limited in its 
scope by the few days of mortal life and in its effect by the weakness 


of human judgement. God's chastisement is for our certain profit, 
that we may become partakers of His holiness. I do not say that 
chastening at the time is pleasant. All chastening is painful. But its 
issue to those who have let themselves be trained by it is peace of soul 
and perfected character. 

Warnings against moral inconsistencies (12-17). 

"VMierefore [seeing that your present distress is only a sign of God's 
Fatherly love and has happy piu-poses] let me take up the voices of your 
own Scripture, of Prophet and Sage (Isaiah xxxv. 3 ; Prov. iv. 26, 27) which 
call you to hearten one another for your journey to the Holy Land, and bid 
you clear one another's path from obstacles and stumblingblocks. Set 
before yourselves as an aim peace with all men, and growth in that holiness 
which is necessary to those who would "see God." Beware lest there be 
even one among you who lags behind in the progress which God's Grace is 
meant to ensure ; lest [as your forefathers were warned in Deut. xxix. 18] 
there be any poisonous root left in the soil which may spring up and give 
you trouble and infect the whole Church — (to drop figures) lest there 
be among you an immoral person, or an irreligious, like Esau, who for a 
mess of pottage sold his rights as firstborn with all their sacred associa- 
tions. You know his story; how when, afterwards, he would have had the 
firstborn's blessing, though he begged for it earnestly with tears, he found 
it too late then to change his choice 

Contrast between the Old Covenant and the New (18-29). 

Remember once more the contrast between the circumstances of the 
New Covenant, which you would be throwing away, and those of the Old 
Covenant which was offered to our forefathers. It is the conti'ast between 
Mt Sinai and Mt Zion: in the one case, below, a groping in darkness — 
above, the fire, the pealing trumpet, the terrible voice of warning which the 
people shrank from hearing, by which even Moses was awestruck. In the 
other case, heaven brought to earth, earth raised to heaven, the meeting-place 
of angels and of the heirs of God, the happy City where God is Judge, where 
good men are perfected, above all, where Jesus is, whose Blood has conse- 
ci'ated the Covenant, the Blood of a martyr, the last of the series as Abel 
was the first, but the Blood which cries not for vengeance but for peace. 
Take care not to repeat your forefathers' act in shrinking from listening to 
the Voice that is speaking to you. For if they escaped not the consequences 
of refusing to hear God's warnings when given on earth, how shall we escape 
if we persist, who are turning our backs on Him Who warns us from heaven ? 
It is He whose Voice then made the earth quake. But what is happening 
now is what was promised by Haggai, that He would "shake yet once not 
earth only but heaven." Those words "yet once" imply finality, an end of 
things that can be shaken, that is, of things which belong to the material 
creation, in order that things of the spiritual order may remain. That is 
the new Spiritual Dispensation [Daniel's Fifth, the Messianic, Kingdom] 
which no shock can affect and which God has given to us. 


Let us then have the thankful hearts with which we may be able to offer 
to God the service which is pleasing in His sight, with a godly and even an 
awful fear, for God is, even to us [as was said to our ancestors in Deut. iv. 
24] a "consuming fire," a jealous God. 

Postscript (xiii.). 
Moral exhortations (1-6). 

Suffer no cooling of your present good affections, your sense of Cliristian 
brotherhood, your loving hospitality to strangers (our history tells us how 
men have sometimes found that in a wayfarer they had entertained an 
angel). Shew fellow-feeling, real and human, to those who are in bonds or 
who are otherwise suffering ill-treatment. 

Hold in all honour faithful wedlock : all breaches of the law of chastity, 
whatever men think of them, God will punish. Keep your life free from the 
passion for money: the remedy for it is contentment: for we have God's 
own word, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Deut. sxxi. 6). So 
that we repeat vdth confidence the Psalmist's words (Ps. cxviii. 6), "the Lord 
is my helper: I will not fear what man can do unto me." 

Consistency of doctrine (7-9). 

Call to mind your old leaders to whom you owe your conversion. Study 
attentively the issue to which their mode of life brought them, and imitate 
their faith. The Christian Faith centres in Jesus Christ, and He changes 
not. Do not be carried out of your straight course by a variety of incon- 
sistent teachings. Consistency and constancy — these are what your leaders 
shewed and what you need. And they are the result of God's grace, not of 
rules about things to eat — a system which has been tried and has proved so 

"We have an altar" (10-14). 

Do not be frightened by the taunt that we "have no altar." We have 
one — one all our own — in which the priests of the Old Dispensation have no 
part or lot. This was foreshadowed in the typical sacrifice of the Day of 
Atonement, of which the Christian sacrifice is the fulfilment. The sin- 
offering was not to be eaten by the priests, but carried outside the camp 
and burnt. Even so Jesus, in the great Atoning Sacrifice, suffered "without 
the gate," as an outcast from priest and people. Let us have the heart to 
face what He faced, and take our place by His side. 

Do you say that this is a call to expatriate yourselves ? It is just the call 
that [as was said just now, ch. xi. 13 f.] our great forefathers, the patriarchs, 
heard and answered, to forgo a present "city" for one to come. 

The sacrifices of Christians (15-17). 

In virtue then of the Great Sacrifice let us offer now a sacrifice of our 
own ; not the produce of land or flock, but the continual offering of grateful 
hearts and of lips that acknowledge thankfully His Revelation of Himself. 
There is another sacrifice which God values, namely that of kind actions and 


the unselfish use of possessions. Obey your spiritual leaders, submitting 
your own wills : for they are like faithful watchmen keeping guard over 
your souls, as those who have to account for them to God. See that 
they may be able to render that account with joy and not with lamentation; 
for that would be no better for you than for them. 

"Pray for us" (18, 19). 

Pray for me and for those who join in this letter. We would fain believe 
that (whatever you hear or judge of us) we have a clear conscience and a 
hearty desire to do what is right in your eyes as well as our own. I ask your 
si)ecial prayers for myself that I may be restored to you. 

The writer's prayer (20, 21). 

And as you pray for me, so will I pray for you ; that God — the God Who 
loves peace and makes peace — the God Who has done for you what He did 
for your forefathers, Who has brought again your Greater Moses from waters 
deeper than the Red Sea, brought Him back from death in the power of 
the Blood which consecrates an Eternal Covenant— even Jesus our Lord, 
Human at once and Divine — that He will perfect you in all that is good, to 
the end that you may work His vdll, while He works in you that which is 
pleasing in His sight. That gi-ace I look for, and that prayer I oflFer, through 
Jesus Christ the ever glorious. Amen. 

Second postscript. Last words and salutations (22-end). 

Let me finish my exhortation by exhorting you to have patience with it. 
It is not much to read on such a subject. 

You should know that our dear brother Timothy has been set at liberty. 
If he comes here at all speedily, I shall accompany him to you. 

Greet for me those in authority in your Church and all its members. 
"They of Italy" send you their greeting. 

"The Grace" be with you all. Amen, 


I. 1-4. The two Revelations. 

I. 1 God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the 

2 prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath 
at the end of these days spoken unto us in ^his Son, whom 
he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he 
made the ^worlds: 

^ Gr. a son. ^ Gr. ages. 

The Son as the Revealer. 

3 who being the effulgence of his glory and the very image 
of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of 
his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down 

4 on the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become 
by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a 
more excellent name than they. 

General Note on I. 1-4. 

The Epistle begins abruptly, not with the personal address usual in a 
letter, but rather as a treatise or piece of oratory, with a statement of the 
subject, thrown into the rhetorical form which arrests attention, embodying 
the main theses which are to be maintained, indicating the nature and 
illustrating the spirit of the argument, anticipating the phrases which are 
to be in our ears throughout it. 

The subject of argument in the Epistle is to be a comparison of the Old 
and the New Dispensations with the purpose of shewing that, while the New is 
the natural development and completion of the Old, it surpasses it, as the 
substance is more than the shadow. In each case the Dispensation is to be 
viewed both as a Revelation oi truth and as a scheme for meeting man's 
desire for reconciliation with God. The prefatory sentence touches all these 

In both aspects the relation of the two Dispensations is one at once of 
continuity and of contrast. 

H. 1 

2 HEBREWS [i. 1-4 

1. Of continuity. This sense is conveyed in the form as well as the 
substance of the sentence. We are to notice the identity in vv. 1, 2 of the 
subject and of the verb ("God... having spoken. ..hath spoken"). The point 
is that both Revelations are utterances of God : their difference is primarily 
of order and time ; one introducing and going along with, the other ending, 
the same era. We are to notice that (as it is stated of the second, and 
assumed of the first) they are both concerned with the "purification of 
sins." We are to notice the appeal to common ground between the wi-iter 
and his readers — "unto the [or, our] fathers in the prophets" (cp. the use 
of the phrase "the God of our fathers" in Acts iii. 13, v. 30, xxii. 14 — all of 
them cases where it was desired to emphasize the continuity of the old and 
new). Even the description "by divers portions and in divers manners," 
although its primary purpose (as will be pointed out) is to indicate a con- 
trast, caiTied also in . itself a suggestion of continuity, as though the 
Christian Revelation illustrated a character already impressed upon God's 
utterances, being only one more " portion " and in one more " manner." 

2. Of contrast. This, in its detail, vnW be the substance of the Epistle : 
but the difi"erence is indicated at once, and in two points. 

(a) The general character of the Revelation. The older Revelation is 
described as " by divers portions and in divers manners." The two balanced 
and sonorous adverbs (TroXvjuepcos koI TroKvTponas) which are so translated, 
standing as they do as the first words in the sentence and in the Epistle, 
have an emphasis which translation cannot reproduce. They have no 
directly correspondent clause in the description of the new Revelation : 
but this is a usual method of Greek rhetoric, which expresses contrast by 
order and emphasis and significant omission as much as by definite state- 
ment The insistence upon the " fragmentary and multiform " character of 
the one Revelation implies, without words, that the other is complete and 

(6) 77ie dignity and competence of the Intermediaries. In this case 
the contrasting description is appended only to the words which characterize 
the second Revelation. "The prophets" stands without qualification to 
designate the Intermediaries of the first, while phrases are accumulated to 
indicate the surpassing greatness of the Intermediary of the second, no 
" mouthpiece " or " messenger," but the very Image of Him Who is to be 

The whole balance of this opening sentence prepares us for a chief 
feature of the Epistle, viz. the presentation of the Incarnate Son as 
occupying the entire horizon of religious thought and aspiration, as in 
His single Person perfecting all Revelation, fulfilling all types, satisfying 
all craving of the human spirit for reconciliation with the Divine. 

I. 1. hy divers portions and in of the Old Testament, fragmentary, 

divers manners. The bearing of occasional, progressive, "here a little 

these words in their context has and there a little," delivered in many 

been explained. It may be added forms, in narrative, Law, Psalm, 

that their propriety is obvious as a Prophecy, typical institution and 

general description ot the Revelation ceremony. It is clear, by the way, 

I. 1-4] 


what large room a Revelation which 
can be so described leaves for after- 
criticism, to trace the order, to piece 
together the portions, to make clear 
the utterance. 

2. the end of these days. " These 
days" (this era) means the days of 
the Old Dispensation, as opposed to 
" the age to come " of ch. vi. 5, " the 
days [that] come" of viii. 8, i.e. to the 
new Messianic Dispensation. The 
phrase has special appropriateness 
if we are right in supposing the 
Epistle to have been written at the 
moment when in the downfall, close 
at hand, of the Jewish polity, the 
ancient world was visibly passing 
away. But, as has been suggested, 
the designation of the time has a 
special purpose, (1) as linking to- 
gether the two Revelations, (2) as 
indicating that the second is the 
completion of the first. 

his Son. As the italics and the 
marginal note in R.V. indicate, there 
is no possessive pronoun nor de- 
finite article in the Greek, and 
the literal translation therefore is 
" a Son." (" A son " in English would 
no more necessarily imply that there 
was more than one son, than "a 
Shakespeare" would imply that there 
were two Shakespeares.) In other 
words, it is not, like " the prophets," 
a merely personal designation, but a 
description, " such an One as a Son." 
It not only names the Person, but 
suggests the gromid of His tran- 
scendent dignity and power of re- 
vealing. See ch. vii. 28, where R.V. 
has rightly " a Son." Cp. also note 
on ix. 14, "the [an] eternal Spirit." 

he appointed heir. When ? Ap- 
parently, in the scheme of Creation. 
As St Paul says (Col. i. 16), "all 
things have been created through 
him and unto him." It is possible, 
as the writer has already in mind 

Psalms ii. and ex., that the thought 
of universal heirship is coloured by 
a special reference to the world of 
man: "Thou art my Son... I will 
give thee the nations for thine in- 
heritance and the uttermost parts of 
the earth for thy possession," Ps. ii. 
7, 8 ; " Until I make thine enemies 
thy footstool," Ps. ex. 1. 

the worlds. Gr. " ages." The only 
parallel to this use is ch. xi. 3, where 
again the word is used of Creation : 
"that the worlds [ages] were framed." 
It seems to mean the universe of 
things in all its successive phases — 
things past, present, and to come. 

3. who being, &c. This clause 
not only expresses His ineffable 
dignity, but also amplifies what has 
been said of Him as the Intermediary 
of Revelation. He is the Supreme 
Revealer, because He not merely 
brings a message, but reflects and 
makes visible the Person. 

heing. Contrast in v. 4, "having 
become." There is the emphatic dis- 
tinction drawn, in accordance with 
the usage of Greek philosophy, be- 
tween the two verbs"to be"(6ti/at)and 
*' to become " (yiyveadai) ; the first of 
His essential, changeless being ; the 
second of His entry into the world of 
" becoming," of exis tence that changes 
and develops. God alone " is," Exod. 
iii. 14, John viii. 58. 

effulgence (an-avyao-jLia). Literally 
of the rays of light streaming from 

very image (xapaicT^p). Literally 
of the impression of a graven seal. 

The two expressions belong to the 
same order of phrases as " the image 
{elKoi>v — likeness) of the Invisible 
God" of Col. i. 15 (cp. 2 Cor. iv. 4, 
and our Lord's own words, John xiv. 
9, "hethat hath seen me hath seen the 
Father ") and indeed as " the Word " of 
St John. They are phrases which are 



[I. 1-4 

used, though rather rhetorically, by 
Philo, the Je\vish philosopher, and by 
the ^vl•iter of the Book of Wisdom, 
of the relation of the human spirit 
to the Divine, or of abstract qualities 
(as of Wisdom, Wisd. vii. 26, R.V., 
"she is an effulgence from cverlast- 
lasting light"). The novelty in the 
New Testament lies in their more 
serious and definite purpose and in 
their application to a Divine Person. 
Each phrase, mth its own figure, is 
striving to convey the idea of a 
Being in Whom the Invisible, Unin- 
telligible, becomes to human eyes 
and mind intelligible, visible : but 
each makes its own addition to the 
thought : " efiulgence " speaks of the 
illuminating power of the Revelation; 
as the Church worded it, " Light of 
Light" (cp. 1 John i. 5, "God is 
light"; John ix. 5, "I am the light of 
the world ") : " [stamped] image," of 
its completeness, exactness, as the 
impress reproduces every line and 
fold of the graven seal ; " very God 
of very God." 

substance, a literal rendering of 
the Gi'eek word, vTrdo-Tao-ir, "that 
which stands beneath." It had ac- 
quired the meaning of " real, essen- 
tial nature " ; that which a thing is 
at bottom, as opposed to superficial 

upholding. The Greek participle 
conveys the idea of movement as 
well as support ; " carrying " on their 
way. It does not suggest the picture 
of a dead weight, as on the shoulders 
of an Atlas ; but of a universe de- 
pendent on Him for its life and 

the word of his power, i.e. the 

manifestation of His almighty will. 
Cp. ch. xi. 3, "the worlds were framed 
by the word of God." The reference 
is to the phrase of Gen. i., " God said, 
Let there be light, &c.," and to its 
echo in the Psalms, as xxxiii. 9, 
"He spake, and it was done, &c." 
What is said in the O.T. of God is 
affirmed here of the Divine Son. 

when he had made. In these 
words we pass from the view of what 
Christ is in His Eternal Being, and 
what He is in relation to the whole 
universe of created things, to His 
Incarnation, its purpose and its 
issue. The words in A. V., " by him- 
self," have little MS authority and 
are omitted in R.V. Although, when 
the doctrine of Christ's sacrifice has 
been developed, they would be ap- 
propriate, they would at present be 
premature : see in ch. x., general 
note on vv. 19-25, and cp. also the 
note on "when he oflFered up him- 
self," cL vii. 27. 

4. having become. This (see above, 
note on v. 3) is in direct contrast with 
the "being" oiv. 3. We are speaking 
now of the exaltation which followed 
the Incarnation. 

inherited. The "Name" is pri- 
marily that of "Son"; but also, as 
the quotations which follow shew, it 
covers the language generally used 
in Scripture of the coming Messiah. 
He " has inherited " this Name, i.e. 
in coming into the world He has re- 
ceived it as His Name by birthright : 
and (the vsriter would say) in that 
Name, witnessed to by prophecy, we 
have the measure of the superiority 
of the Incarnate Christ to the angels 
— the " Messengers." 

Additional Note on the Comparison with the Angels. (I. 4.) 

The general purpose was to express the surpassing dignity of the 
ascended Saviour ; and this might have been done in general terms, as by 
St Paul in Eph. i. 20, 21 (where the same words of Ps. ex. are in view) : 

I. 1-4] HEBREWS 5 

"[God] made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all 
rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named 
not only in this world but also in that which is to come." The angels are 
named here as representing the highest of created beings. But it would 
seem that the special comparison has a definite purpose, for it is made the 
text of a long passage of explanation and argument. Two questions may 
be asked about it: (1) what is the point that is argued? (2) what is the 
special purpose of insisting upon it ? 

(1) It cannot be meant merely to prove that One Who has been already 
spoken of as " the effulgence of [God's] glory " is in Himself " better than 
the angels." That needs no proof : but the argument of vv. 5 f is appended 
not to the statement that He is " better than the angels," but that He " has 
inherited a more excellent name than they," i.e. it is to shew that the 
Messiah of prophecy was to have a more excellent name — that He was to 
be the Son of God. 

(2) The immediate purpose of the comparison is made clear in ch. ii. 2, 
" If the word spoken through angels proved stedfast." The writer is there 
speaking of the giving of the Law. That was to a Jew the greatest moment 
of Revelation : and in it, as we know from Josephus, Jewish tradition 
pictured a two-fold agency, Moses who received the Revelation, and an 
angel who delivered it. This tradition is recognized more than once in the 
New Testament, as in Acts vii. 38, 53, Gal. iii. 19. There is a tendency in 
all the O.T. (growing in the later Books) to treat some angelic visitant as a 
necessary intermediary in any Revelation : cp. Acts xxiii. 9, where " if a 
spirit hath spoken to him or an angel" is the way in which a Pharisee 
expresses "if he has received a revelation." The "angels" then will be 
correlative to the " prophets " of v. 1. Neither the earthly nor the heavenly 
intermediaries of the older Revelations can come into comparison with the 
single Intermediary of the new. 

Another point, though less certain, with respect to the relevance of the 
special comparison, should be mentioned. There are obvious similarities 
between the dangers, both speculative and practical, which seem to be in 
view in this Epistle (see on ix. 10, xiii. 4, 9) and in the Epistle to the 
Colossians. In the latter Epistle (Col. i, 15, 16, ii. 10, IS) the expression of 
the exaltation of the Christ far above all created existences is associated 
with the particular condemnation of the worship of angels. It would be a 
natural temptation to those who were losing hold of the full truth of Christ's 
Person and Work to find shelter in the growing tendency to multiply 
mediators. Whether any such tendency was in the writer's mind (there is 
nothing in the text of the Epistle necessarily to imply it) is a question on 
which the probability will vary (as is pointed out in the Introduction iii. 
5) according to the view taken of the destination and date of the Epistle. 
It was, so far as we know, in the Asiatic Churches that this tendency 



[l. 5-END 


(Ps. a.) 

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? 

Some general remarks on the quotations in the whole passage, from ». 5 
to v. 14, will be found in the additional note below. 

5. Thou art my Son. Ps. ii. 7. 
In the second clause of the quotation 
the English rendering fails to do 
justice to the emphasis which, in the 
Greek, is thrown upon "I"="I, and 
none else." The expressions of Ps. ii., 
like those of Ps. Ixxxis., are, in the 
first instance, a "lyric echo" of the 
promises to David and his seed re- 
corded in 2 Sam. vii. 12-16, part of 
which passage is quoted in the fol- 
lowing: words, "I will be to him a 

Father, &c." In the applications in 
the N.T., here and in Acts xiii. 33, 
the thought is not of the Eternal 
Generation of the Divine Son, but 
of His acceptance in His human 
nature as the "anointed Son" of 
prophecy. St Paul (Acts l.c. ; cp. 
Rom. i. 4) fixes the moment of the 
declaration of acceptance at the 
Resurrection : but there is no in- 
dication that this is in view here. 

{Deut. xxxii. 4-3.) 

6 ^And when he again ^bringeth in the firstborn into ^the 
world he saith, 
And let all the angels of God worship him. 

^ Or, And again ichen he bringeth ^ Or, shall have brought in 

3 Gr. the inhabited earth. 

6. tchen he again. "Again" is 
better taken, as in A.V. and in the 
margin of R.V., not (as in the text) 
as qualifjnng "bringeth," which gives 
no satisfactory sense (in spite of 
high authority, it seems inconceiv- 
able that the writer is thinking of 
the Second Advent), but with "he 
saith," merely introducing the second 

when he...b)'ingeth (or better, as 

it is in the margin, "shall have 
brought ")...he saith : i.e. "in speak- 
ing of the time when he shall have 
brought... he saith." The form is 
exactly parallel to ch. x. 5, "when 
he Cometh into the world (i.e in 
prophetic reference to the moment 
of the Incarnation) he saith." 

the firstborn. This seems as a 
title of the Messiah to come origin- 
ally from Ps. Ixxxix. 27 (a Psalm 


already in the writer's mind). This him. Words like these occur in 

is the only place in which it is used Ps. xcvii. 7, " worship him, all ye 

absolutely. The N.T. writers, apply- gods " (" angels," LXX), a Psalm in 

ing it to the same Divine Person, whichtheestablishment of Jehovah's 

read several, and various, meanings kingdom is foreseen. The words 

into it : Rom. viii. 29, " the firstborn occur exactly in an addition made 

among many brethren"; Col. i. 15, in the LXX to Deut. xxxii. 43, where 

"the firstborn of all creation " ; ibid. again the return of Jehovah to right 

18 (cp. Rev. i. 5), "the firstborn the wi-ongs of the world is prophe- 

from the dead." sied. 
let all the angels of God worship 

(Pss. civ., xlv., cii., ex.) 

7 And of the angels he saith, 

Who maketh his angels ^ winds, 
And his ministers a flame of fire: 

8 but of the Son he saith, 

Thy throne, God, is for ever and ever; 
And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of ^thy 

9 Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity: 
Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee 
With the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 

10 And 

Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation 

of the earth. 
And the heavens are the work of thy hands: 

11 They shall perish; but thou continuest: 

And they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 

12 And as a mantle shalt thou roll them up. 
As a garment, and they shall be changed: 
But thou art the same, 

And thy years shall not fail. 

13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time. 

Sit thou on my right hand. 

Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet? 

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service 
for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation ? 

1 Or, spirits ^ The two oldest Greek manuscripts read his. 



[l. 5-END 

7. winds. Both in the original (Ps. 
civ. 4) and in this quotation it is clear 
that "mnds" and not "spirits" is the 
right translation. There is the further 
question whether we should render 
"who maketh his angels winds" or 
"who maketh winds his angels." 
The former is the translation which 
suits the Greek version both here 
and in the Psalm. The latter is 
given in R.V. of the Psalm, and at 
first sight suits the context best. 
But to those who believed in the 
agency of angels the two statements 
meet in this, that the angels are 
spoken of as agents of God's vpill in 
the physical world : they are coordi- 
nated with physical agencies, even 
identified with them : the vnnd is a 
messenger ; the messenger is said to 
become a wind. The Son is above 

8. O God. As will be seen in 
any commentary on the Psalms, 
doubt hangs over the original mean- 
ing of these words. On its face the 
subject of Ps. xlv., in its first inten- 
tion, is the marriage of a king or 
a king's son ; and it can hardly be 
argued that such expressions as " I 
have said ye are gods," Ps. Ixxxii. 6 
(i.e. "you hold an office which raises 
you above humanity"), render likely 
such a personal address to a human 
prince as "0 God!" 

Nor is the rendering the most 
suitable in this place. If it were 
right, surely the quotation would be 
the climax. We cannot get beyond 
" O God ! " Anything further must 
weaken rather than strengthen. And 
again the rendering fails to recognize 
the careful correspondence in each 
case between the quotations which 
characterize severally the Christ and 
the angels. In vv. 5, 6, the Incar- 
nate Christ is hailed as God's own 
Son, while the angels are called to do 

worship tollim. In??w. 13, 14, the Son 
is the Co-sessor on the throne, while 
the angels are the messengers des- 
patched to minister for the benefit 
of God's people. There should be a 
similar correspondence between the 
three quotations in vv. 7-12. The 
relation between v. 7 and vv. 10-12 
is fairly clear: the angels of whom 
the Psalms speak as God's agents in 
the material world are compared 
with Him of Whom they speak as its 
Creator. We still want a sense for 
vv. 8, 9, which shall harmonize with 
this comparison. Westcott seems to 
guide us to one in saying that the 
point is to be looked for, not in the 
application to the Messiah of a 
Divine title, but in the assertion of 
"the unique character of His king- 
dom, its eternal foundation and its 
moral perfection." The human 
prince in the lower sense, the 
Messiah in the prophetic sense, of 
the passage, is spoken of as God's 
vicegerent in the moral world. To 
get this meaning we must take the 
phrase rendered "0 God" as a 
nominative instead of a vocative, 
and render either (with Westcott) 
"God is thy throne," i.e. God is the 
support of thy throne ; or (with R.V, 
in the Psalm) "thy throne is the 
throne of God," i.e. thy throne is 
(i.e. represents) God." It may be 
noted that the Vulgate, followed by 
our Prayer-Book Version, reads in 
V. 12 of the Psalm, "thy Lord God" ; 
but this is due to the Messianic in- 
terpretation already put on the 
Psalm. Both Hebrew text and LXX 
have "thy Lord," and in the sense 
evidently of Gen. xviii. 12, as com- 
mented on in 1 Pet. iii. 6, "Sarah 
obeyed Abraham, calling him lord." 
9. oil of gladness. So the "oil 
of joy," Is. Ixi. 3. Cp. Matt. vi. 17, 
"Thoii, when thou fastest, anoint 

I. 5-end] 



thine head... that thou appear not 
unto men to fast." The reference 
is not to the anointing of a king, 
but to the use of unguents at feasts. 
10-12. From Ps. cii. 25-27. It 
is an address to God ; but to God at 
once as the Dehverer of His people 
(it is a Psalm of the Exile) and as the 
Creator ; see additional note. 

13. The quotation from Ps. ex. 
takes us back to v. 3, and so to the 
subject of the Epistle, the Priest- 
King : " Has He ever said to any 
angel what He said (as we have seen) 
to the Messiah of Prophecy ? " The 
final comparison is between the Son 
seated in kingly state by the Throne 
and awaiting the assured triumph, 
and the "messengers," the "thou- 
sands," who " at His bidding speed 
" And post o'er land and ocean with- 
out rest " (Milton). 

14. sent forth. The participle 
in the Greek is present, i.e. it im- 
plies "who are constantly being 
sent forth," Milton's " without rest." 

that shall inherit salvation. Both 
phrases have their roots in O.T. 

(1) inherit is a more coloured 
substitute for "receive," "obtain," 
"attain to," and is used with the same 
objects, as "eternal life" (Mark x. 17, 
Luke xviii. 18; cp. ibid. v. 30), "the 
kingdom of God" (1 Cor. vi. 9; cp. 
Matt. XXV. 34, where the later words 
interpret "inherit," "inherit the 
kingdom prepared for you from the 
foundation of the world"), "promises" 
(cp. in this Epistle, ch. vi. 12, with 
vi. 15, xi. 39), "a blessing" (1 Pet. iii. 

9). What is added is the suggestion 
that in some way the receiving is 
like in conditions to the receiving of 
a possession in virtue of a will or of 
some other external arrangement 
which regulates the devolution of 
property. There may be the idea of 
sonship(Rom. viii. 17) or of promise — 
it may be, by a further figure, coven- 
anted promise. In any case it implies 

(1) something of delay and waiting, 

(2) an assured, even if conditional, 
right : the " heir " will come sooner 
or later into his own, unless indeed 
by his own fault he is " disinherited" 
(Numb. xiv. 12). Its first use is of 
the Promised Land, as in Gen. xv. 8, 
Deut. i. 38, but it is generalized as a 
figure even in the O.T., as in Prov. iii. 
15, " the vdse shall inherit glory." 

(2) salvation, with all the cog- 
nate words, "to save," "Saviour," 
&c., is used in the Bible, in the first 
place, of the great temporal deliver- 
ances of the chosen people, especially 
the deliverance from Pharaoh and 
from the Red Sea (see, for instance, 
Exod. xiv. 13, and cp. 1 Sam. xiv. 45, 
2 Chron. xx. 17). This figure is often 
in the background consciously in the 
N.T. uses, and especially in this 
Epistle (see notes on ch. ii. 3, 10, 
V. 9, vi. 9, ix. 28, xi. 7). An instruc- 
tive instance of the transition from 
the national point of view to the 
personal and spiritual, with or vrith- 
out conscious figure, may be seen in 
the uses of the word " salvation " in 
the hymn of Zacharias (Luke i. 68 

Additional Note on the quotations in I. 5-14. 

It is scarcely part of the duty of a commentator on the Epistle to the 
Hebrews to discuss in the abstract difi"erent views of Messianic Prophecy ; 
but we must hold fast to the principle that a writer who is worth attention, 
if he argues, argues to persuade. Argument is futile unless it is assumed 
that those to whom it is addressed will admit its premisses. We may take 


it for granted then that these passages from the prophetic Scriptures, 
whatever be their own literary history, would be held, by those for whom the 
Epistle was intended, to relate to the Messiah. Starting from this, we may 
make two remarks on the natm*e and choice of the passages here 
appealed to. 

(1) On the nature of the passages which are here treated as Messianic. 
They are of two kinds : 

(rt) There are those which address, or speak of, some earthly prince, 
present or to come, in terms too great for humanity ; the idea suggested 
being that prophecy looked through him to the ideal king to be born 
presently of David's line. 

(6) There are those which start confessedly by speaking of Jehovah, but 
of Him as the agent in Creation, or as coming to save His people ; as doing, 
in other words, things which the New Testament teaches us to view as actions 
of God in the Person of the Divine Son. 

(2) On the sources from which the passages are taken. 

"With two exceptions, if indeed they are exceptions, it will be noticed 
that all the quotations, both with respect to the Messiah and to the angels, 
are taken from the Psalter, This may be characteristic of the writer, or it 
may mean that he could presume in his readers a special familiarity with 
that part of the Scriptures. Westcott points out that throughout the 
Epistle the quotations from the Psalms greatly outnumber those from any 
other Book : if we limit our view to the quotations of primary importance in 
the argument, the disproportion is still greater. What is true of other 
prophetic wi'itings is true especially of the Psalter, that in taking account of 
its history we cannot leave out the meanings that were given to it, the hopes 
that it fed, through the centuries during which it was used. Is it too much 
to say that there may be an inspiration in the use, as well as in the 
composition, of such a Scripture? 

The exceptions referred to above are : 

1. The words in v. 5, " I will be to him a Father and he'shall be to me 
a Son," which, as they stand, are found only as put into Nathan's mouth in 
2 Sam. vii. 14. But they belong to and are the basis of Ps. ii., and they, 
and the promise of which they form part, would be familiar to a Jewish 
writer or reader in the poetical and slightly amplified form in which they are 
embodied in Ps. Ixxxix. 

2. The words in v. 6, " And let all the angels of God worship him," as 
has been said, may be a slightly altered form of Ps. xcvii. 7 ; but if, as is very 
possible, they came to the writer's memory from the song of Moses in 
Deut. xxxii., it is worth noticing that that song seems itself to have been 
used for liturgical purposes, and is actually found in the Alexandrine MS 
repeated as an appendix to the Psalter. 

It may be added that the phrase in v. 14, " ministering spirits " {Xnrovp- 
yiKo. iTveviiara), and the words which follow, which are treated by commenta- 
tors as a summary of the picture presented in Holy Scripture of angelic 
existence, have their roots in the Psalter. The word Xeirovpyoi (" servants," 
but never quite losing its proper sense of " public servants "), as used of the 
angels, belongs to Pss. ciii. 21, "Praise the Lord, ye angels of his... ye servants 

II. 1-4] HEBREWS 11 

of his that do his pleasure," and civ. 4 ; and the picture of them as helping 
" them that shall inherit salvation " is well illustrated by such expressions as 
Ps. xci. 11, 12, " He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all 
thy ways : they shall bear thee up in their hands that thou hurt not thy foot 
against a stone," or Ps. xxxiv. 7, " the angel of the Lord encampeth round 
about them that fear him and delivereth them." 

II. 1-4. Attention bespoken for the Revelation. 

II. 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to 
the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from 

2 them. For if the word spoken through angels proved 
stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received 

3 a just recompense of reward ; how shall we escape, if we 
neglect so great salvation ? which having at the first been 
spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them 

4 that heard ; God also bearing witness with them, both 
by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by 
^gifts of the ^Holy Ghost, according to his own will. 

1 Gr. distriiutions. ^ Or, Holy Spirit : and so throughout this Book. 

In the first four verses of ch. ii. we have the first interruption of argument 
for the purpose of exhortation ; but the paragraph serves (1) to make clearer 
what has been already said in the preceding chapter ; (2) to complete the 
prologue by disclosing the hortative purpose of the Epistle. 

IL 1. 77i(?r^or«,'that is, because of through angels" is the Law "ordained 

the surpassing dignity of the Bearer through angels" of Gal. iii. 19. 

of the new Revelation. proved stedfast. Its commands 

drift away. The Greek verb is were enforced ; its promises and 

used first of water, running from a threatenings came true, 

leaky vessel or ebbing from under transgression and disobedience. 

a stranded boat : then metaphori- It is a climax, " transgression and 

cally of a person losing his moorings, even careless hearing." " Disobedi- 

slippiug from his senses, convictions, ence," here the rendering of ivapa- 

resolves. kot; (lit. "hearing amiss," "hearing 

2. tcord spoken. It is more ob- with half an ear "), is the more 

vious in the Greek that we are taken general word, covering " negli- 

back to ch. i. 1, 2, "having spoken... gences" as well as wilful breaches 

hath spoken." We are thinking of law. 

again of the two Revelations. 3. how shall we escape ? The ar- 

through angels. See additional gument recurs in ch. x. 28 and xii. 25. 

note on i. 4. The "word spoken neglect so great salvation. Two 



[II. 1-4 

lines of thought meet. The words 
anticipate the lesson to be dra^vn in 
ch. iii. from the failure of Israel in the 
wilderness : They " neglected a great 
salvation." They " thought scorn of 
that pleasant land. They forgat 
God their Saviour" (Ps. cvi.). But 
they also suggest a comparison of 
the two Dispensations. " So great " 
is equivalent to " so much gi-eater," 
greater in the Person of the Inter- 
mediary, in the credentials of the 
Revelation ; greater also (to use the 
language of 2 Cor. iii. 9) as a 
ministry not "of condemnation" but 
of salvation. For "salvation," see 
on i. 14. 

4. Cp. Mark xvi. 20. The ac- 
cumulated phrases ("signs," "won- 
ders," " powers," " gifts ") express the 

manifold character of the proofs of 
some great spiritual force acting up- 
on and through the first disciples, 
and exhibiting itself in novel power 
and heightened gifts, as well as in 
what are commonly called "miracles." 
Westcott remarks on the testimony 
to the reality of the "spiritual gifts " 
contained in this appeal to them, 
addressed to those whose personal 
experience could check any ex- 

according to Ms own will : i.e. 
the will of God. The point of the 
words is to press the truth that it 
was God Himself who vouched for 
the witnesses, for, however various 
were the signs and gifts, there was 
His own will behind them. 

Additional Note on vv. 3, 4. 

These verses have a bearing on the question of the authorship of the 
Epistle. Could they be written by St Paul, who claims always to have 
received the Gospel "neither of man nor by man" but from Christ Himself? 

The question is not answered by quoting 1 Cor. xv. 3, "I delivered 
unto you that which also I received," for as we see from id. xi. 23, that 
form of expression is consistent with the addition "of the Lord," which 
brings it into harmony with his usual attitude. Is he "transferring to 
himself in a figure" the position of those to whom he writes? It is possible; 
and it may be conceded that, if the wi'iter be St Paul, he is not in this 
Epistle concerned, as he is in the Epistle to the Galatians, to assert his 
independent Apostleship. But the whole picture of a faith resting on the 
testimony of the first hearers (the "eyewitnesses" of Luke i. 2), and on 
the evidence of miraculous gifts, is not like St Paul. 

The passage is also interesting as illustrating the evidence on which 
Christianity in the first age made its appeal to a Jew — viz. (1) the intrinsic 
attraction of the "gi-eat deliverance" ofi'ered, (2) vouched for as it was by 
the words of Christ, (3) these words being reported by those who heard 
them from His own lips, (4) and supported by the further evidence of 
"signs and wonders." 

11. 5-18] HEBREWS 13 

II. 5-18. Reasons for the true Incarnation of the Son. 
{The destiny of man, vv. 5-8.) 

5 For not unto angels did he subject Hhe world to come, 

6 whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified, 

What is man that thou art mindful of him ? 
Or the son of man, that thou visitest him ? 

7 Thou madest him ^a little lower than the angels ; 
Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, 
^And didst set him over the works of thy hands : 

8 Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet. 
For in that he subjected all things unto him, he left nothing 
that is not subject to him. But now we see not yet all things 
subjected to him. 

* Gr. the inhabited earth. ^ Or, for a little while lower 

* Many authorities omit And didst — hands. 

General Note on m. 5-8. 

"With V. 5 we return to the argument, the "For" depending not so much 
on the immediately preceding exhortation as on the ground alleged for that 
exhortation, viz. the infinite superiority of the Christ of prophecy to any 

The nature of the argument which it adds should be noticed. It justifies 
the previous conclusions by asserting something stronger, which, if true, 
includes and renders more credible what has been asserted before. It has 
been shewn that prophecy gave to the Messiah a place indefinitely higher 
than that of angels. It is now to be shewn that it also gave to ma7i a place 
above them, a place not indeed as yet realized by man as he is, but which 
has been realized in a Man, even in Jesus, Who (as will be shewn presently) 
is man's representative, a true man and the " Captain of [man's] salvation." 

The writer, in these verses and in those which follow as their comment, has 
availed himself of a turn given in the LXX, " a little lower than the angels," 
which emphasizes the condescension, where the Hebrew, "a little lower than 
God " (evidently the original form, as suiting the words of Genesis which it 
recalls, "in the image of God"), is meant to mark the dignity, not the 
humility, of man's origin. But the change, if it helps the argument, is not 
necessary to it. The whole Psalm speaks of the contrast between man's 
apparent weakness and his imperial destiny. The Christ has realized the 
destiny : but that carries with it the humiliation as well as the glorification. 
Glorification through humiliation is the idea which the writer is seeking to 

14 HEBREWS [ii. 5-18 

5. he : i.e. the true Author of the is found elsewhere in this Epistle 
prophetic Scriptures ; cp. iv. 4, 7. A (and in other writers of the time, 
frequent use in this Epistle ; as though not in the New Testament) ; 
Vaughan happily calls it, "the uni- as ch. iv. 4, "he hath said sonie- 
versal nominative to Providences where." Here at least it has a 
and Scriptures." special force, as we might say " there 

the world to come, xchereof we is no quotation to be found promis- 

speak : " the world of man as it is ing sovereignty to angels, but there 

to be in the new Messianic Dispensa- is a place where it is promised to 

tion, which is the whole subject of man." The /acf that there is such a 

this Epistle." promise is more prominent at the 

The writer seems to face the sug- moment than the Tplace where it 

gestion that so far he has spoken occurs. 

only of what has been, and to ask testified. Rather " protested." The 
whether any greater position is as- word and its cognates are used tech- 
signed to angels in the prophetic nically of an appeal from a legal 
pictm-e of the coming Dispensation. decision, and generally of strong 

6. one... somewhere. This inde- expression whether of remonstrance, 
finite form of introducing a quotation or only (as here) of surprise. 

{Realized in Jesus, vv. 9-18.) 

9 But we behold liim who hath been made ^a little lower than 
the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death 
crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God he 

10 should taste death for every man. For it became him, for 
whom are all things, and through whom are all things, ^in 
bringing many sons unto glory, to make the ^author of their 

1 1 salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he thatsancti- 
fieth and they that are sanctified are all of one : for which 

12 cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 

I will declare thy name unto my brethren. 

In the midst of the ^congregation will I sing thy praise. 

13 And again, 

I Avill put my trust in him. 
And again, 
Behold, I and the children which God hath given me. 

14 Since then the children are sharers in ^ flesh and blood, he 
also himself in like manner partook of the same ; that 
through death he ^might bring to nought him that ^had the 

15 power of death, that is, the devil ; and ^ might deliver all 
them who through fear of death were all their liietime 

II. 5-18] 



16 subject to bondage. For verily not of angels doth he take 

17 hold, but he taketh hold of the seed of Abraham. Where- 
fore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his 
brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high 
priest in things pertaining unto God, to make propitiation 

18 for the sins of the people. ^For ^in that he himself hath 
suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are 

' Or, for a little while loioer ^ Or, having brought ^ Or, captain 

* Or, church ^ Gr. blood and flesh. ^ Or, may ^ Or, hath 

^ Or, For having been himself tempted in that wherein he hath suffered 
9 Or, wherein. 

9. a little loicer than the angels ; 
although, as we have seen, in His 
Eternal Being He was so infinitely 
above them. We are meant to go 
back in thought for the moment to 
ch. i. 

that hy the grace of God he should 
taste. We might paraphrase "in 
the loving purpose of God that he 
should taste." "That" introduces 
the purpose not of part, but of 
the whole of the process ; not of the 
crowning with glory and honour, 
but of such crowning after, and as 
a consequence of suffering, of the 
glorification through humiliation 
and pain. Note also that the em- 
phasis of the clause is on " for every 
man," i.e. as man's representative, 
and for the comfort and salvation of 
every man. It is this that justifies 
the implication that the prophecy of 
the glorification of mankind through 
suffering is in Him fulfilled. 

taste ; as of a bitter cup : to learn 
what it is like : cp. the figure of a 
"cup" in our Lord's own words, as 
John xviii. 11. 

10. it became him. Cp. the repeti- 
tion of the expression in ch. vii. 26, 
" such a high priest became us." In 
both cases the writer is justifying 

what the Jewish prejudices of his 
readers stumbled at : here a true In- 
carnation : there the picture of Christ's 
priestly work. The answer is in 
both cases. It was in the fitness of 
things; here, it was what God's 
Nature demanded : there, it was 
what our human nature demanded. 

for whom are all things, and 
through whom are all things. With 
this expression of the supremacy of 
God's will cp. Rom. xi. 36, 1 Cor. viii. 
6, Col. i. 16, Rev. iv. 11. The pur- 
pose here is not to explain tchy it 
" became Him," but to indicate that, 
if it became Him, no further reason 
was needed for things being as they 
are. The writer is supporting his 
statement {v. 9) that it was " by the 
grace of God." Notice also that the 
emphasis in this verse is on "through 
sufi"ei'ings." It is not the "making 
perfect " that is in question, but the 
mode of the perfecting. 

to make perfect, in this place, is, 
in the first instance, to give the 
crowning fitness for His work and 
office. And this crowning fitness 
lies in sufi'ering, in the first place, 
because only through suffering could 
He be made one with His brethren, 
whom He came to succour. But 



[II. 5-18 

there is a further sense in the words ; 
for the likeness must He not in the 
suffering only, but, deeper still, in 
the purposes and effect of the suffer- 
ing. Suffering in man is not pur- 
poseless. It has a disciplinai'y end. 
And so He stooped not only to suffer, 
and so to feel \vith sufferers, but also 
to " learn obedience " through suffer- 
ing (ch. V. 8) and so to be an example 
to them in the bearing and use of 

the author (marg. captain) of 
their salvation. The word (apxrjyos) 
here translated "author" or "cap- 
tain" occurs only four times in the 
N.T., twice in this Epistle, the other 
place being ch. xii. 2, "Jesus, the 
Author [or Captain] and Perfecter 
of our faith"; twice in the Acts, 
both times in speeches of St Petei*'s, 
iii. 15, "the Prince [or Author] of 
life," and v. 31, "a Prince and a 
Saviour"(a combination which brings 
it vei7 close to the present passage). 
It is a word of frequent use in 
classical Greek, both for a " leader " 
(whether literally or metaphorically) 
and for an "originator." In the 
present case the combination with 
the words "bringing... to glory" and 
"salvation" (or "deliverance," see 
the next note) indicates that the 
writer has already in view the figure, 
which will have such a large place in 
the Epistle, of the Christ as the 
Leader, the Moses or Joshua, of the 
new deliverance from bondage and 
entrance on a land of promise. We 
may remember the vision of the 
" Captain " of the hosts of the Lord 
(it is virtually the same word in the 
LXX) whom Joshua saw by Jericho, 
Josh. V. 13. 

salvation. This word (see note on 
i. 14) and "sanctifieth" in ». 11 both 
belong originally to the great deUver- 
ance of Israel and his consecration 

to be God's people : cp. Exod. xiv. 
13, " Stand still and see the salvation 
of the Lord," xv.2 (in Miriam's song), 
" [the Lord] is become my salvation," 
xxxi. 13, "I am the Lord that doth 
sanctify you." 

11. For. The argimient is, 
"Through sufferings, I say, because 
the Christ of prophecy and those to 
whom He comes have the closest tie 
in a common Fatherhood. It is fit- 
ting therefore (as was said) that He 
should share their nature with its 

he that sanctifieth... they that are 
sanctified. The expression chosen 
has reference (as has been said) to 
the phrases used of the inauguration 
of the Covenant in Exod. xix. and 
elsewhere. It anticipates, by what 
it implies, the phrase of ch. ix. 15, 
"Mediator of a new Covenant." 

of one : of a common origin : 
if any substantive were to be supplied 
it would be "father," i.e. "God." But 
the wi-iter purposely does not define. 
Cp. John viii. 41. There it is said 
of the Jewish race. St Paul extends 
it to all humanity. Acts xvii. 26, 28. 
It is here extended to include, in 
His human nature, the Christ. 

12, 13. The three quotations are 
put together as expressing in pro- 
phetic figures the closeness of rela- 
tion conceived between the Messiah 
and His Church : the first from 
Ps. xxii. 22 (a Psalm treated by the 
writer of this Epistle as Messianic ; 
see general note on ch. v. 7-10) which 
exhibits Him as calling the members 
of the Church His "brethren" and 
speaking of Himself as leading its 
worship ; the second either from 
2 Sam. xxii. 3 (Ps. xviii. 2), or more 
probably from Isaiah viii. 17 (LXX), 
in which the prophet, speaking (it is 
presumed) in the name of Messiah, 
puts Him in the same attitude as 

11. 5-18] 



His believing people towards God 
(" their Father and His ") ; the third, 
the words which immediately follow 
the precedingquotationin Isaiah viii., 
and in which (the figure being 
changed) it is assumed that the 
prophet with his children (Shear- 
jashub and Mahershalalhashbaz) is 
typical of the Messiah and his 
people, the "children whom God 
has given Him." Cp. John xvii. 6. 

14. the children. Notice how 
the " children " in this verse takes up 
the "children" oiv. 13 ; and so also 
the " brethren " of v. 1 7 the "brethren " 
oivv. 11, 12. 

through death (note that "death" 
has in the Greek the definite article). 
Not, in the first instance, "His death," 
but " death as part of the burden of 
humanity," the death which men 
fear, v. 15. Death, the punishment, 
the result of the devil's work, shall 
be the instrument of destruction to 
the devil's power ; because He (the 
Saviour, the Son of God), if He has 
taken our nature to the full, will die, 
and in His death all the terror and 
power of death will vanish away. 
The thought is in some way like that 
of 1 Tim. ii. 15, "through the child- 
bearing " ; what was the curse, the 
punishment of the woman's sin, be- 
comes, in that the Christ was bom 
of woman, her salvation. 

hring to nought. Rather "render 
impotent." The writer does not ex- 
plain here how the death of Christ 
has this eff"ect ; but the thought 
probably is of cleansing of the con- 
science by the efi'ectual propitiation 
(ch. ix. 14, X. 2, 22); so that the 
Pauline parallel will be 1 Cor. xv. 56, 
"the sting of death is sin... but 
thanks be to God that giveth us the 
victory," rather than 2 Tim. i. 10, 
although the latter has the same 
verb which is used here, "who 


abolished (rendered impotent) 

the devil; the impersonated power 
of evil ; but the name indicates a 
special manifestation of the evil 
power. At one time it is "Satan," 
the Adversary, the power that re- 
sists and thwarts what is good ; at 
another, the " Tempter " ; at another 
(as here) the "Devil," that is the 
" Slanderer" — " the malicious accuser 
of God to man and of us to God, 
and again of ourselves to one an- 
other," Chrys. on 2 Cor. p. 438 D 
quoted by Hort on James iv. 7; — 
the spirit who finds his voice in an 
accusing conscience. 

15. deliver... bondage. The phrases 
still recall those of the Exodus. 
Life in subjection to the fear of 
death is viewed as the Egyptian 
bondage from which Christ freed us. 
That the fear of death was felt as a 
serious burden at the time in the 
Jewish world is nowhere stated in 
the N.T. as definitely as here, though 
it is assumed in such expressions as 
those of 2 Tim. i. 10. It must be re- 
membered that the writer's argument 
is futile for his purpose unless his 
readers' consciousness could gener- 
ally go with him in his view of the 
fact. Something of the same kind is 
implied in respect of Roman society 
by the explosion, as of pent-up feel- 
ing, which we witness in the poem of 
Lucretius. That is from end to end 
a passionate argument against the 
fear of death and the superstition oi 
which it was the basis. The fear 
which he combated was not the fear 
of annihilation, but one with which 
the writer of this Epistle could sym- 
pathize, the fear of what might come 
after death ; " aeternas quoniam poe- 
nas in morte tiraendumst," i. 111. 

16. "For it is not angels, you will 
admit (the particle rendered "verily" 




[II. 5-18 

has an ironical force, as though he 
were apologizing for a truism), that 
He is taking by the hand, but chil- 
dren of Abraham." The word ren- 
dered " is taking hold of" is the same 
word that is used in the LXX, in the 
passage from Jer. xxxi. quoted in 
eh. viii. 9, of God's "taking [the 
Israelites] by the hand " to lead them 
out of Egypt. There is the same 
sense here, of a purpose to rescue. 
Cp. also (though the Greek verb is a 
different one) the action of the angel 
who " laid hold upon Lot's hand " to 
lead him out of Sodom, Gen. xix. 16. 

the seed of Abraham. He might 
have said " human kind " ; and the 
argument points to a conclusion no 
less broad than that ; but the limita- 
tion brings it home to his readers, 
and helps the feeling (implicit in the 
preceding words) that the Incarna- 
tion, wonderful as it is, is of a piece 
with the pasthistory of their favoured 
race, one more intervention in its 
behalf. It leads, as do the figures 
of w. 15, to the identification of the 
Christ in iii. 1 as the new and greater 
Moses — the Deliverer. 

17. that he might be a... high 
priest. Notice how all through this 
passage it is taken for granted that 
the Christian " deUverance " is a de- 
liverance from sin : the Leader there- 
fore must be a High Priest to " make 
propitiation": the Moses "of our 
confession " (as it is summed up in 
ch. iii. 1) must be the Aaron also. 

faithful : rather " trustworthy," 
one that can be trusted. 

in things pertaining unto God. The 
expression recurs in ch. v. 1. Here, 
as there, the jjurpose is to make 

clear the two relations of the priest, 
as towards God and towards men. 
In order to represent men efi'ectively 
towards God, He must stand by their 
side as one of themselves. 

to make propitiation for. There 
is a valuable note of Westcott's (addi- 
tional note on 1 John ii. 2) on the 
different use in classical and Biblical 
Greek respectively of the verb which 
is thus rendered here. The normal 
construction in classical Greek is with 
the object-accusative of the person 
propitiated ; and this construction is 
revived in the patristic writei's. But 
it is not the usage of the Bible. Just 
as we read (Rom. v. 10, 2 Cor. v. 18 f.) 
of man being "reconciled" to God, 
of God "reconciling" man to Him- 
self, but never of God being "recon- 
ciled " to man, so such a phrase as 
"propitiating God" is foreign to the 
language of the N.T. "The Scriptural 
conception of the verb is not of ap- 
peasing one who is angry with a 
personal feeling against the offender, 
but of altering the character of that 
which, from without, occasions a 
necessary alienation and interposes 
an inevitable obstacle to fellowship." 

18. being tempted. For the ex- 
pression, cp. Luke xxii. 28, "ye are 
they which have continued with 
me in my temptations." It is one 
of the standing difiiculties of trans- 
lation in the N.T. that the Greeks 
had, and we have not, one and the 
same set of words for " temptation " 
and " trial." We have to choose be- 
tween the two aspects, the Greek 
often (as here) combines them : cp. 
James i. 2, 12, 13. 

General Note on II. 5-18. 

The writer has now fully brought us in sight of his purpose. In com- 
paring the New Dispensation with the Old as a Revelation, it was necessary 
only to dwell on the inefifable superiority of the Intermediary, whether in 
His eternal being or in the position claimed for Him by Prophecy as the 


Incarnate Son, This part of the subject is summed up for the time in the 
hortatory passage in ch. ii. 1-4, which enforces the importance of the message 
and the adequacy of the evidence on which it rests. 

But another view of the Dispensation was suggested from the first in 
i. 3. It is not only a Revelation but also a scheme of salvation. Its 
Intermediary is not a Teacher only, but also a Reconciler. This part of the 
subject will have the larger place in the Epistle, and the verses 5-18 are 
meant as an introduction to it. They deal not with external evidence, but 
with more delicate ground, the inner appeal to the heart of man. They 
meet at once the great difficulty which haunted the Jewish mind. A 
Mevealer might be of a higher race than those to whom he brought the 
Revelation : but a Reconciler must stand by their side. In this aspect 
therefore the new Revelation involved a true Incarnation — the assumption, 
that is, of human nature with its liability to pain [and death. But a 
Messiah at once Divine and who could suffer and die was to the Jews an 
ever-recurring " stumblingblock " (see note on ix, 15). The writer meets 
the difficulty not by apology ; still less by minimizing the truth. He claims 
it boldly as the feature of the Revelation which most commends it to the 
reason as well as to the feelings. Nothing else would have "become" 
{beseemed) God ; for nothing else would have met the needs of himaanity. 
He discovers it as the latent truth behind the great recognition in Ps. viii, 
of the imperial destiny of man : it is a destiny for man, and therefore for 
man through his Representative ("even Jesus"), to be won through 
humiliation : "a little lower than the angels" first; then "for the suff'ering 
of death crowned with glory," Two special reasons are suggested why the 
"grace of God" has chosen this path: (1) that men might, through this 
death of their Representative, be freed themselves from the paralyzing 
" fear of death " : (2) that their Reconciling High Priest, sharing their con- 
ditions, might be capable of sympathizing with them and therefore of being 
trusted by them, 

III. 1. Christ at once the Moses and the Aaron of 
THE New Dispensation. 

III. 1 ^Vlierefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly 
calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our con- 
fession, even Jesus ; 

A great part of the Second Chapter, though (as we have seen) thoroughly 
germane to the purpose of the Epistle, has left to some extent its formal 
order, viz. the comparison of the two Dispensations. With the beginning of 
ch. iii. we return to the main course. 

The address ("holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling") gathers 
up the ideas of the preceding passage. The persons addressed are "brethren," 
brethren of the Christ (ii. 10, 12, 17); "holy," i.e. "sanctified" or consecrated 
(ii. 11), a consecrated people like their Hebrew forefathers; "called from 
heaven," even as were they, only more directly and effectively than they. 


20 HEBREWS [iii. 2-6 

And so the appeal, too, looks both backwards and forwards: "consider," 
i.e. " set all your thoughts upon." It is worth noting (in a writer so careful 
of words and, even under apparent freedom, so intent on symmetry of form) 
that the same word recurs in exhortation in ch. x. 24, where the practical 
part of the Epistle is beginning. It seems chosen to give a framework to 
the doctrinal part and to the practical: here "set all your thoughts on Him 
Who replaces completely the Law-giver and the High Priest of the Old 
Testament " : there " set all your thoughts upon one another," keep your 
Christian faith pure and alive by making it unselfish. 

The words sum up the argument which is to come; and in so doing 
they mark the double course which from this point onwards it is to take : 
"the Apostle and High Priest of our Confession," i.e. at once the Envoy 
and the High Priest, Whom we Christians (in contrast with the Jews) 
acknowledge. The Christ has been set forth as the Medium of the new 
Revelation, and compared in this respect with the Prophets and the 
Angelic Messengers who conveyed God's word in the Old Dispensation. 
But another aspect of this has come to the writer. In the Revelations of 
the Old Covenant, if "God spake" through an angel, man heard through 
the human intermediary. And once more, in the greatest moment of the 
Revelation, the giving of the Law at Sinai, this human medium was re- 
presented not by one person, but by two ; Moses, the Envoy or Ambassador 
(this is clearly the meaning here of " Apostle " ; it recalls the frequent use 
in the Old Testament of the verb airoaTiWuv, " to send," of the " mission " 
of Moses) and Aaron the High Priest. Christ, then, is in the Christian 
confession the Bearer of the Message, the Law-giver, the Leader in the 
great deliverance, the supreme Teacher and Ruler. And He is also the 
High Priest. Both aspects of the Messiah have been recognized already. 
They are now set forth in words and to be worked out successively. 

First, He is the Moses of the New Dispensation. This is the point of 
the entire passage from iii. 2 to iv. 13; but it falls into two parts; the 
first from iii. 2 to 6. 

III. 2-6. "The Moses"— but how much greater 
THAN Moses! 

2 who was faithful to him that ^appointed him, as also 

3 was Moses in all ^his house. For he hath been counted 
worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as he 
that ^ built the house hath more honour than the house. 

4 For every house is builded by some one ; but he that 

5 ^ built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in 
all ^his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things 

6 which were afterwards to be spoken ; but Christ as a son, 
over ^his house ; whose house are we, if we hold fast our 
boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end. 

1 Gr, made. 2 Tj^at is, God's house. See Numb, xii. 7. ^ Or, established 

III. 2-6] 



General Note on III. 2-6. 

Moses is exalted in two respects. It is testified of him — the writer says 
— that he was "faithful in all God's household": he was faithful, that is, and 
not (as, it is implied, might be the case with other prophets) in some 
department, but in the whole organization of God's ancient church. But 
the Christ has honour far higher. For 

(1) Moses, high as his place is, was a servant "in the house" — part of 
the household. A (house or household implies some one who built or 
equipped it. That can be found ultimately in God alone. Christ is " over 
the house," not a servant, but Son of the Builder and Master. 

(2) The work of Moses was provisional, prospective, typical: "for a 
testimony of those things which were afterwards to be spoken." The Law, 
that is, looked forward to, and made place for, the fuller Revelation yet to 

2. The particular expressions are 
due to things actually said of Moses 
in 1 Sam. xii. 6 (R.V.), "It is the Lord 
that appointed (it is the same verb 
that is translated "appointed " here) 
Moses and Aaron," and in Numb. xii. 
7, " My servant Moses is not so : he 
is faithful in all my house." But it 
is one of the instances where it is 
natural to imagine that there may 
be also in the background some say- 
ing of our Lord's about Himself 
which was in the common conscious- 
ness of writer and readers. A similar 
instance occurs perhaps in eh. v. 4, 
*' He glorified not Himself," as com- 
pared with John viii. 54, xvii. 1, &c. 
The idea of His " faithfulness to Him 
that appointed Him" is well illus- 
trated by such passages as John v. 
19, 20, 36, 43, vii. 16, viii. 28, xii. 

3. For, depends not on v. 2, but 
on». 1, "Consider — set your thoughts 
on, the Envoy whom we confess, /or 
He is a greater Moses." 

4. huilt. See on ch. ix. 2. The 

word covers equipping or constitut- 
ing, as well as building, and is suit- 
able therefore here, where evidently 
we are to think of the household as 
much as of the house. 

6. boldness. Cp. ch. iv. 16, x. 19, 
35. The word properly means " out- 
spokenness " : it was then genera- 
lized to mean " freedom of manner," 
"boldness"; but usually some sense 
of " freedom of speech " is included : 
see, for instance. Acts iv. 13. In 
Eph. iii. 12, 1 John ii. 28, iii. 21, iv. 
17, V. 14, and in three at least of the 
four passages in which it occurs in 
this Epistle (the present one and in 
V. 16, X. 19), it is used of freedom of 
attitude towards God : but here 
again freedom of utterance, the free- 
dom of one who can cry "Abba, 
Father," is specially in view. 

glorying of our hope; hope, and 
hope that as St Paul says (Rom. 
V. 5) "putteth not to shame" — not 
crossed by misgivings, but such as 
expresses itself in utterances of joy 
and confidence. 

The second part of the passage iii. 7-iv. 13 is, in form, hortative. It 
presses home the lesson of the second great comparison, of Christ with 
Moses, as ch. ii. 1-4 pressed that of the first, of Christ with the angels. 
It does this in the words of Ps. xcv. 



[ill. 7-19 

III. 7-19. Psalm xcv. as a warning. 

7 Wlierefore, even as the Holy Ghost saith, 

To-day if ye shall hear his voice, 

8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, 

Like as in the day of the temptation in the wilderness, 

9 ^Wherewith your fathers tempted me by proving me. 
And saw my works forty years. 

10 Wherefore I was displeased with this generation, 
And said, They do always err in their heart : 
But they did not know my ways ; 

11 As I sware in my wrath, 

^They shall not enter into my rest. 

1 Or, Where 

7. Wherefore. That is, because 
of the if in ». 6 ; " seeing that our 
position, great as it is, is conditional 
on our constancy." 

even as. Notice that the corre- 
spondent clause to this "as" does 
not come till v. 12, at the end of the 
quotation, "Wherefore, even as 
the Holy Ghost saith... take heed, 

the Holy Ghost saith. An habitual 
way of speaking of the words of 
Scripture; cp. ch. ix. 8, x. 15. In 
quoting this same passage in ch. iv. 
4, the writer uses the undefined 
" He," which is commented on above, 
ch. ii. 5. 

To-day if ye shall hear. " Do not 
repeat your forefathers' sin. If God's 
voice comes to your ears in some 
fresh Revelation to-day, listen to it." 
A.V. has "if ye will hear." In that 
case "hear" must be taken in the 
sense of " hearken to," but the clause 
is then open to two constructions : 
it may mean either "if you desire 
to hearken " or (as an exclamation) 
"Oh, if you would hearken !" In the 
Psalm itself, R.V. takes this latter 

^ Gr. If they shall enter. 

meaning, translating "To-day, oh 
that ye would hear his voice ! " 

8. provocation... temptation. The 
translation severally, first in the 
Greek and then in the English ver- 
sions of Ps. xcv., of the Heb. Meribah, 
and Massah (Exod. xvii. 7, Nimib. 
XX. 13). 

9. hy proving me. A.V. "proved 
me." The difi'erence between the 
two versions is one of reading. The 
Received Text, translated in A. V., has 
a verb and a pronoun " proved me," 
which is in accordance with the read- 
ing of the Psalm, both in the Hebrew 
and in the LXX. R.V., following 
the best MSS of the New Testament, 
is translating iv bom^aa-ia, " in prov- 
ing." If we accept this reading, the 
sense is still open to question — " in 
proving" whom? R.V. answers by 
inserting, both after "tempted" and 
after " proving," me (the italics shew 
that in neither case is it in the Greek). 
The sense then becomes substantially 
the same as in A.V. But it is also 
taken (as by Mr Rendall) to mean 
" in their proving," i.e. when God was 
proving them. This is in corre- 

III. 7-19J 



spondence with the usual meaning 
of doKiixaa-ia, which was used of the 
examination of a candidate's quahfi- 
cation for office, and it also suits 
Ps. Ixxxi. 8, where God is represented 
as sajing "I proved thee (the cog- 
nate verb) at the waters of strife." 
It is a real difficulty. Neither inter- 
pretation of fv BoKifiaaia is wholly 
satisfactory, and yet it is difficult to 
understand how it got possession of 
the text if it is not genuine. 

10. But they did not. R.V. 
rightly indicates that this is not a 
continuation of the preceding clause, 
but a statement of a fiu'ther fact. 

parallel not to " they do always err," 
but to " I was displeased and said." 
" They " is, in the Greek, an emphatic 
pronoun, "They on their part"— 
" though I was displeased, &c., they 
on their part did not learn my 

11. They shall not enter. It is 
pointed out in the margin that the 
literal translation of the Greek is 
" If they shall enter." It is an idio- 
matic use for a strong negative found 
in the LXX and in one case in New 
Testament Greek, Mark viii. 12, 
"There shall no sign be given," lit. 
" if a sign shall be given." 

12 Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one 
of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the 

13 living God : but exhort one another day by day, so long as 
it is called To-day ; lest any one of you be hardened by the 

14 deceitfulness of sin : for we are become partakers ^of 
Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm 

15 unto the end : while it is said, 

To-day if ye shall hear his voice, 

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 

16 For who, when they heard, did provoke ? Nay, did not all 

17 they that came out of Egj^pt by Moses ? And with whom was 
he displeased forty years ? Was it not with them that sinned, 

18 whose ^carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware 
he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that 

19 were disobedient ? And we see that they were not able to 
enter in because of unbelief. 

^ Or, with 

12. Take heed. Here, as has 
been pointed out, we come to the 
clause which answers to the " Even 
as, &c." oivv. 7-11. 

lest there shall he. On the one 
side the Greek idiom implies that 
the danger is a real one : on the 
other it is put as a danger for the 

2 Gr. limhs. 

future, not as a charge imputed at 

an evil heart of unbelief. Is it 
possible that the "evil heart" is a 
momentary recaUing of the " honest 
and good heart " of the Parable ? In 
any case the conjunction of the 
"evil heart" with the "falling away" 



[ill. 7-19 

reproduces the " they do err iu their 
heart " of the Psalm. 

the living God. See the note on 
ch. ix. 14. It seems here a reminis- 
cence of the O.T. use (see e.g. Deut. v. 
26, Josh. iii. 10). The sin contem- 
plated is apostasy ; and so is parallel 
to the sin of their ancestors, who de- 
serted the living and true God for 
dumb idols. 

13. exhort one another. Cp. x. 
25, which seems to recall this passage. 
There is the same putting together 
of the two thoughts of an approach- 
ing crisis which tries faith, and of 
the strength to be found in the 
mutual influences of the Christian 

so long as it is called To-day ; im- 
plying the thought that a time was 
near when "To-day" would be no 
longer applicable ; the day for hear- 
ing God's voice would be past. 

the deceit fulness. More exactly 
"a deceit," one of the many delusions 
by which sin closes the ears of the 

1 4. partakers of (or, with) Christ. 
Both the history of the Greek word 
and the usage of the N.T. seem to be 
consistent with either way of taking 
it, whether as = " sharers in Christ," 
or as = " partners Avith Christ." The 
former would suit best with the 
various Pauline figm-es which de- 
scribe mystically the relation of the 
believer to Christ : " ye are the body 
of Christ and severally members 
thereof" (1 Cor. xii. 27), "Christ in 
you"(Col. i. 27). The latter is more like 
the figures of this Epistle, in which 
Christians are the "brethren " of the 
Christ (ii. 11), the "house" over 
which He presides as the Son (iii. 7. 
The likeness of the reservation in 
that place, "if we hold fast our 
boldness, &c.," looks as if it was still 
in the writer's mind). He is the 

"Captain," the "Forerunner" (ii. 
10, vi. 20). The ^vriter is still domi- 
nated by the general figure which 
assimilates Christ saving His people 
to the rescue of Israel by Moses, 
Joshua, &c. 

if. The Greek marks a strong 
emphasis on the "if" (favrrep) ; "we 
are become... on this one condition, 
that, &c." 

the beginning of our confidence, 
i.e. the confidence which we had at 
the beginning. The word rendered 
" confidence " (xi. 1, " assurance," cp. 
2 Cor. ix. 4, xi. 17) meant first 
"foundation," so "security"; then 
"sense of security," "firmness of 
attitude." It is used of the firmness 
of soldiers, or martyrs. 

15. while it is said, &c. The 
connexion and purpose of this clause 
are not quite certain. It has been 
taken with what follows : but in that 
case the "For," which begins v. 16, 
involves a broken construction which 
is without parallel in this Epistle. 
If we take it (as R.V.) with the pre- 
ceding clause it is best explained by 
a comparison with ch. viii. 13, "in 
that he saith, A new covenant, he hath 
made the first old," i.e. he implies 
that the first has become old. So 
here we have " While [or, better, " in 
that"] it is said. . .we have become [or, 
"have been made," i.e. "it is implied 
that we are"] partners with the 
Christ." The clause " if we hold fast, 
&c.," is apparently parenthetical, but 
it has its proper place, for the meaning 
is that the terms of Ps. xcv., addressed 
(as it is assumed they are) to Chris- 
tians, imply both their place of privi- 
lege and the risk expressed in the 
words " if only they hold fast, &c." 

16. who. . . ? did not all. . . ? The 
A.V. has "some ". . ." howbeit not all," 
and it has no notes of interrogation. 
This involves a diflference in the 

TV. 1-10] HEBREWS 25 

Greek, but only in the matter of an had heard, provoked," were not one 
accent and of punctuation, both of or two, but the mass of God's re- 
which are comparatively modern deemed people. The lesson is that 
additions. The text, as the Greeks even the redeemed could fall away. 
wrote it, had neither. We are free 17. carcases (literally "limbs," 
therefore to choose the form which "bones") fell. A vei'bal reference 
seems to suit the sense best. Objec- to Numb. xiv. 29. 
tion has been taken to the form 18. sware he. This threat, in- 
adopted by R.V. on the gi'ound that corporated afterwards in Ps. xcv., 
it ignores the steadfastness of Joshua comes also originally from Numb. xiv. 
and Caleb: but this is to expect of a 30, even to the Greek idiom, "if 
general statement an irrelevant ex- they shall," as an equivalent of "they 
actness. The point is that those shall not." 
who in the old story, "when they 

Up to this point the writer has kept entirely to the purpose for which 
he first quoted Ps. xcv. ; viz. to remind them that their forefathers had 
fallen away from Moses and so forfeited the deliverance ; and to draw the 
moral, " Do not treat your own greater Moses in the same way." But from 
this point, though not dropping that thought, he is drawing towards a second 
purpose, viz. to exhibit the Psalm as witnessing to the truth that it had 
always been in the counsels and promises of God to give them a "rest" more 
complete and permanent, more worthy of the title " My rest " (a rest, that 
is, perfect and eternal as that of God Himself) than the rest which Joshua 
gave them in Canaan, 

IV. 1-10. Psalm xcv. as an assurance of a promise 


IV. 1 Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being 
left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem 

2 to have come short of it. For indeed we have had ^good 
tidings preached unto us, even as also they : but the word 
of hearing did not profit them, because ^they were not 

3 united by faith with them that heard. ^For we which 
have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath 

As I sware in my wrath, 
*They shall not enter into my rest : 
although the works were finished from the foundation of 

4 the world. For he hath said somewhere of the seventh 
day on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day 

5 from all his works ; and in this place again, 

*They shall not enter into my rest. 



[IV. 1-10 

6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter 
thereinto, and they to whom ^the good tidings were 
before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, 

7 he again defineth a certain day, ^saying in David, after 
so long a time, To-day, as it hath been before said, 

To-day if ye shall hear his voice. 
Harden not your hearts. 

8 For if ^Joshua had given them rest, he would not have 

9 spoken afterward of another day. There remaineth there- 
10 fore a sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is 

entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his 
works, as God did from his. 

^ Or, a gospel ^ Some ancient authorities read it was. 

2 Some ancient authorities read We therefore. 

* Gr. If they shall enter. ® Or, the gospel was 

® Or, To-day, saying in David, after so long a time, as it hath been, dc. 

^ Gr. Jesus. 

IV. 1. therefore, seeing what 
happened to our forefathers, to so 
many of God's redeemed people. 

being left, i.e. as yet unfulfilled, 
but still holding. This is assumed, 
but is to be explained in what 
follows. The promise cannot have 
failed in itself: but it failed alto- 
gether to the first generation "be- 
cause of their unbelief"; and it 
failed, even when it seemed to be 
fulfilled, because the rest which 
Joshua gave them was inadequate 
and only typical. Yet it has been 
reaffirmed in the Psalm. This is 
the point of v. 14 although different 
language is there employed. 

should seem. It is difiicult to 
fix the meaning of "seem to have 
come short" as distinguished from 
"come short." Three suggestions 
have been offered, the first perhaps 
the most probable : (1) that, like 
"haply," it is a mitigating expres- 
sion; as we might say "anything 
like failure* rather than use the 
word " failure " bluntly : (2) that 

the Greek verb translated is used 
in a forensic sense and means "be 
judged to have, &c.": (3) that it 
means "seem to himself," despon- 
dency being the source to which the 
vpriter traces much of the back- 
sliding. There is weight in the 
criticism on this last explanation 
that "Let us fear" is an awkward 
beginning to a sentence the true 
purpose of which is that they should 
not fear. We seem shut up to (1) 
or (2). 

2. good tidings... even as also 
they. What are the good "tidings"? 
Evidently from v. 6, the promise of 
a coming rest, implied in the words 
of Ps. xcv. : but this is identified 
first with the promised entrance 
into Canaan, and secondly with the 
promises of the Gospel. The choice 
of the phrase " good tidings " is due 
to the feeling (so frequent in the 
Epistle and which colours the whole 
of this passage) of the analogy be- 
tween the work of Christ and that of 
Moses. It is illustrative of the length 

IV. 1-10] 



to which the wi'iter goes in the 
desire to put himself at the point 
of view of those whom he would 
persuade that, so far as words go, 
he makes the Gospel deliverance 
seem a repetition of the deliverance 
from Egypt rather than the deliver- 
ance from Egypt an anticipation of 
the Gospel. See the note on ii. 16, 
"seed of Abraham." 

the word of hearing. Lit. " the 
word of the hearing," i.e. the pur- 
port of the message which they heard. 

hecause they were not united. 
This is a translation of the best 
supported reading; but it involves 
serious difficulties: (1) It would 
follow from it that "them that 
heard" means "them that heark- 
ened," i.e. the faithful few who heard 
and obeyed. This would almost 
force us to give the same sense to 
"hear" in the quotations from Ps. 
xcv. ; and also to suppose a refer- 
ence (which at the place seemed 
irrelevant and unlikely) in iii. 16 to 
Joshua and Caleb. If all this was 
possible, it would still be difficult to 
give the same sense to the two 
words, evidently correspondent to 
each other, in this verse, " hearing " 
and "heard." (2) There is the still 
graver difficulty in the word ren- 
dered "united." It is evidently a 
word chosen with a purpose : it 
literally means "commingled"; and it 
is hard to imagine in this connexion 
any adequate sense which it could 
have, whether literal or metaphorical. 
The only alternative (unless we sup- 
pose some more serious corruption 
of the text) is to accept the reading, 
of less MS authority, which is trans- 
lated in A. v., and which makes the 
participle singular instead of plural 
and a nominative in agreement with 
" word." It may then be rendered 
either "because it was not assimi- 

lated [as in digestion] by faith in 
those that heard it " or " because it 
was not commingled [as two ingre- 
dients, both of which are necessary 
to the effect, are mingled in a 
potion] with faith in those that 
heard it." 

3. This verse is in intimate rela 
tion to the statement in v. 2 that 
they have had good tidings preached 
to them even as their forefathei's 
had had. With the reading in the 
text ("For ") it is treated as a justifi- 
cation of that statement : " We have 
had good tidings preached to us, I 
say ; for we are on our way, we that 
have accepted the Christian belief, 
to the special and perfect rest of 
which Ps. xcv. spoke." With the 
alternative reading mentioned in 
the margin ("Therefore") it would 
be treated merely as resumptive, 
repeating the statement in other 
words after an interruption. 

we which have believed. We 
lose in the English the correspon- 
dence, marked in Greek, with "faith" 
in V. 2 : "we which have had the 
'faith' that they lacked." 

although the works were finished. 
Notice (1) that the threat that some 
should not enter is taken as con- 
structively a promise that some 
should enter ; (2) that the clause 
introduced by " although " is a com- 
ment on the phrase "my rest": 
^^ God's rest," it says, "although the 
toorks spoken of in Gen. ii. 2 date 
from the creation of the world" — 
we have, therefore, to put together 
Gen. ii. 2 and Ps. xcv., and from the 
comparison of these it follows that a 
rest worthy to be called "God's rest," 
and therefore analogous to His rest, 
was still promised to men. 

4. somewhere, i.e. in Gen. ii. 2. 
For this indefinite mode of quota- 
tion see on ii. 6. 



[IV. 11-13 

6. it remaineth. See v. 9 and 
ch. X. 26. It is a special word of 
the Epistle : " it is reserved," said of 
something purposed, but not yet 

because of disobedience {aneWdo). 
Cp. iii. 19, "because of unbelief" 
(djrto-Tia). The two words are 
treated as interchangeable: they 
are two sides of the same mental 
attitude. Cp. the similar inter- 
change in Rom. xi. 20, 23, 30, 32. 

7. in David, "in the person of 
David," i.e. of the Psalmist. It is the 
same preposition as in ch. i. 1, "in 
[i.e. through, in the person of] the 
prophets." Westcott warns us that 
this use of a current method of re- 
ference cannot be taken to decide 
by itself the date and authorship of 
a particular Psalm. 

after so long a time, i.e. so many 
years after. The point is the length 
of time that had elapsed between the 
Exodus and the warning voice of 
the Psalmist. The later the Psalm 
the stronger the argument. 

8. if Joshua had given them 
rest. There is reference no doubt 
to the frequent repetition in the 
Book of Joshua of this phrase as 

describing his work, and in the 
Pentateuch as anticipating his work. 
See e.g. Deut. xxv. 19, "when the 
Lord thy God hath given thee rest"; 
Josh. xxii. 4, "Now the Lord thy 
God hath given rest unto your 
brethren as he spake unto them." 
It is the same phrase in the Greek 
as here. 

9. sabbath rest. The writer sub- 
stitutes "keeping of sabbath" for the 
simple " rest " (the word of the Psalm, 
and the one which he had himself 
used before), in order to emphasize 
the point that the rest promised 
{"my rest") is a rest like to that 
spoken of in Gen. ii., of which the 
sabbath rest was the commemora- 
tion. But it also contributes to the 
general thought of the Epistle. The 
Sabbath as well as other institutions 
of Judaism had its typical and pro- 
phetic aspect. It helps to this that 
the word for the "people of God" is 
the word which belongs to the 
Jewish people, the people of the Old 
Covenant, and is transferred to God's 
people of the New. 

10. his rest, i.e. God's rest — a rest 
like God's " sabbath rest." 

IV. 11-13. Warnings of Scripture not to be slighted. 

11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, 
that no man fall ^ after the same example of disobedi- 

12 ence. For the word of God is living, and active, and 
sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to 
the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, 
and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the 

13 heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in 
his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before 
the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 

1 Or, into Gr. in. 

IV. 11-13] 



11. that no man fall after 
(marg. into) the same exam,ple. The 
Greek admits of either rendering. 
For the absolute use of "to fall," 
cp. Rom. xi. 22. It is opposed to 
"to stand," 1 Cor. x. 12, "Let him 
that thinketh he standeth take heed 
lest he fall." 

12. the word of God is living : 
the "word" of course not in the 
theological sense of John i. 1, but 
=the "utterance of God," i.e. the 
warnings, promises, teaching of Holy 
Scripture. For a similar personifi- 
cation, cp. possibly 1 Pet. i. 23, " the 
word of God which liveth and a- 
bideth" (some commentators on that 
passage, as Hort, take "which liveth, 
&c." in construction with "God," 
not with "the word of God"): cp. 
also the epithet in Acts vii. 38, 
"Uving oracles." Notice also that 
it is a transference of a standing 
epithet of God Himself, " the living 
God " : His utterance shares His 
attribute. It is pertinent to observe 
that before the passage closes we 
have returned fi-om God's utter- 
ance to God Himself, v. 13. With 
the figure which follows, cp. Rev. 
i. 16, "out of his mouth went a 
sharp two-edged sword," and Eph. 
vi. 17, "the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God." The 
special power of God's word which 
is in view here is its power on the 
conscience, its power to "lay open 
the innermost depths of human 
nature" (Westcott). 

A good comment on the whole 
description may be found in the 
familiar lines of the Chi'istian 
Year (St Bartholomew's Day): 
Eye of God's woi'd ! where'er we turn 

Ever upon us ! thy keen gaze 
Can all the depths of sin discern, 

Unravel every bosom's maze. 
Who that hath felt thy glance of 

Thrill through his heart's remotest 
About his path, about his bed. 
Can doubt what Spirit in thee 

dwells ? 
both joints and m,arrow. There 
is a slight alteration introduced here 
in the R.V. which may escape notice, 
but which points the way to an im- 
portant change of sense. It has sub- 
stituted "of both joints and marrow" 
for "and of the joints and marrow" 
(A.V.) : that is, it indicates that "of 
both joints and marrow" is not of a 
separate and added process, but is a 
metaphorical expression carrying us 
back to the figure of the sword ; and 
throwing light on the preceding 
phrase. The writer must speak not 
of dividing soul from spirit, any 
more than he speaks of dividing 
(which would not be intelligible) 
joints from marrow, but of dividing, 
piercing soul and spirit, — soul, that 
is, and the soul of the soul, the soul 
to its inmost and most spiritual part, 
as the sword might be said to find 
its way through the joints even to 
the very marrow within the bone. 

13. his. ..him,. We have passed 
from God's word to God Himself. 

laid open. It is literally "gripped 
by the neck." The verb {rpaxn- 
'Xi^eiv, from Tpdxr]Xos, the neck or 
throat) was certainly used in the 
language of the wrestling-school, for 
"to collar"; possibly also in that of 
sacrifice, of seizing an animal in order 
to expose its throat to the knife. 
The translation here of A.V. "open" 
and RV. "laid open" is meant to 
follow the latter use; but it is safer 
to take the first. It means then 
(to drop or change the metaphor) 
"mastered by," "at the mercy of." 

with whom we have to do. Lit. 
"to whom oiu" account is [to be 

30 HEBREWS [iv. 14 

The long hortatory passage which has intervened between iii. 6 and 
iv. 14, ending as it does in this highly wrought and impressive description 
of Holy Scripture as the Judge of the conscience, suggests in itself that we 
are passing from one stage of the argument to another, and to one which 
touches more closely the moral nature. The Epistle opened as though the 
comparison of the Old and New Disjiensations was to be a comparison of 
them as Revelations. In dealing with that aspect of them the writer 
dwelt on the form rather than the contents, on the personality of the 
Messenger rather than the substance of the message. This part of the 
subject reached its main expression in the early verses of eh, iii. in 
which the Christ was set forth as " greater than Moses," Moses, the Law- 
giver and supreme Teacher, the Leader in what to Old Testament 
wi-iters is "salvation," viz. the deliverance from Egypt. But it has been 
indicated also from the beginning that a great part of the comparison was 
to lie in the provision made in the two Revelations severally for that free 
access of the soul of man to God which is the end of Revelation, and which 
it is the idea of priesthood and sacrifice to restore. In i. 3 we read that the 
Intermediary of the second Revelation " made purification " of human sin 
before He "sat down on the right hand of God's Majesty." In ii. 17 it was 
explained that the sufficient cause for the real assumption by the Christ of 
human flesh with all its liabilities of pain and death, which was the article 
of the Christian Faith most diflBcult to Jewish thought, was " that He might 
be a High Priest compassionate and trustworthy." This part of the subject 
is to occupy the next six chapters. We turn to it in iv. 14. The key is the 
second expression of iii. 1, "the High Priest of our confession." We are 
to " hold fast our confession " in this respect, to recognize Him Who is our 
greater Aaron as well as our greater Moses. The tone of exhortation is 
continued from the preceding passage, though a new reason is now assigned 
for the exhortation and (as is also usual) through the exhortation the 
argument is carried further. 

IV. 14. "The Greater Aaron" {see iii. 1). The High 
Priest, human at once and superhuman. 

14 Having then a great high priest who hath passed through 
the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our 

14. then. As has been said this "having a high priest": it belongs 

is the moment of transition from the rather to the main verb of the 

consideration o Christ as the Re- sentence, "let us hold fast." That 

vealer, Law-giver, Leader, to the con- is represented as a conclusion from 

sideration of Him as the High Priest, all that has been said, but especially 

It is in accordance with the habit of from the last thought, viz. of the 

the wi'iter (cp. especially i. 4, iii. 2) soul-revealing, conscience-dominat- 

to make the transition informally, ing force of Holy Scripture. The 

The inferential particle "then" participle "having, &c." adds a 

must not be taken too closely with fresh reason or condition of such 

IV. 15, 16] 



"holding fast" — one that is to 
expand into an argument of six 
chapters, for if the expressions of 
this place carry us back to iii. 1, 2, 
it is equally true that they are 
taken up again, as though the period 
was closed then, in x. 19-23, "having, 
therefore, brethren, &c." 

Having a great high priest : more 
literally "having for high priest one 
who is great, one who has passed 
through the heavens" — one of pre- 
eminent rank and functions (see on 
eh. X. 21, "a great Priest"), as much 
above Aaron as He has been shewn 
to be above Moses. It is the first 
suggestion of the idea, to be de- 
veloped presently, of orders in the 
High Priesthood. 

who hath passed through the 
heavens. These words link the 
prophecy of Ps. ex. (already recalled 
in i. 3) of the " sitting down at the 
right hand of the Majesty in the 
heavens" with the image, just 
coming into view, and of which so 
much is to be made, of the Levitical 
High Priest passing "within the 
veil" on the Day of Atonement. 

through the heavens. Cp. the 
expressions "made higher than the 
heavens," ch. vii. 26, and Bph. iv. 10 
(of the Ascension), "far above all 

heavens." The idea of a series of 
" heavens," usually seven, one beyond 
the other, which belonged to Eastern 
religions and was worked out in 
fanciful detail in Apocalyptic and 
Rabbinical literature, passing thence 
into medieval beliefs, has a foothold 
in the phraseology of Biblical writers, 
as in these passages, in the common 
plural form "heavens,"in the "heaven 
of heavens" of 1 Kings viii. 27 (cp. 
Ps. cxlviii. 7), and most definitely in 
the "third heaven" of 2 Cor. xii. 2; 
but it does not with them go beyond 
the desire to give something like 
perspective to unseen things, and to 
indicate the remoteness and supreme 
Majesty of God. 

Jesus the Son of God. It is noted 
that of our Lord's titles in the N.T. 
the one which occurs most frequently 
in this Epistle is the human nam© 
"Jesus," and often, as here, with 
emphasis, and in contrast, expressed 
or implied, vsith the Divine dignity. 
"The true human side of His nature," 
the writer is in effect saying, "is as 
essential to the purpose as the Divine 
side." The superhuman dignity, by 
itself, would only remove our High 
Priest further from us ; for it would 
destroy the possibility of sympathy. 

IV. 15, 16. The High Priest Who can sympathize. 

15 For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath 
been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without 

16 sin. Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the 
throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find 
grace to help us in time of need. 

15. jPor. This sentence reinforces knowledged, by urging that the High 

the reason already given for holding Priest Whom it recognizes is not 

firmly to their confession, i.e. to the only of surpassing dignity and power, 

Christian truth which they had ac- but also able to sympathize 



[v. 1-4 

tempted. See note on ii. 18. 

[yef] without sin. As the italics 
indicate, "yet " is an interpretative ad- 
dition. The words are literally "apart 
from sin" and this might mean 
either (as both A.V. and R.V. render 
it) "without sin," or perhaps better 
" except in respect of sin." He was 
tried or " tempted," and the trial or 
temptation was like to ours in all 
points except in its connexion with 
sin. With us the temptation often 
leads to sin, and also its strength often 
comes from previous sin. Neither 
is true of Him. In favour of the 
second rendering it may be said 
(1) that it is the most natural trans- 
lation of the Greek, requiring 
nothing to be supplied, and suiting 
the order of the sentence, which 
closely connects the phrase with the 
words which express "likeness in all 
points": (2) that in this way only we 
can take the words in the same way 
here and where they recur in ch, ix. 
28. The context in that place is 
wholly different, and the application 
therefore of the words is different; 

but the identity of other conditions 
is there implied by the words "ap- 
pear a second time" this identity 
being limited by the words "except 
in respect of sin." 

16. Let us,. .draw near {■n-poa- 
fpXfoiJLfda) : as Vaughan says, " a 
gi-eat word in this Epistle: cp. vii. 
25, X. 1, 2, xi. 6." This is the first 
use of it, and as "the throne of 
grace" shews, another step towards 
the figure, to be fully developed 
presently, of the Day of Atonement 
with its typical representation of 
the true answer to be made to the 
question, "How shall man dare to 
draw near to God ?" 

receive mercy... ^nd grace. There 
is a contrast between "mercy" (to 
be shewn in forgiveness) for the 
past, and "grace" (to help) for the 
future : possibly also between the 
two verbs "receive" (or rather, 
"take") of opening the hand to 
receive what is offered, and "find" 
which implies some further coopera- 
tion of our own will ; for finding is 
the correlative to seeking. 

With ch. V. the writer begins the formal exposition of his statement that 
the Christ was to be and was a true High Priest. "What," he asks 
first, " are the essential conditions of human High Priesthood?" 


{The first, vv. 1—3.) 

V. 1 For every high priest, being taken from among men, 
is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he 

2 may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins : who can bear 
gently with the ignorant and erring, for that he himself 

3 also is compassed with infirmity ; and by reason thereof is 
bound, as for the people, so also for himself to offer for 

V. 5-10] HEBREWS 33 

General Note on V. 1-3. 

The emphasis in the first sentence is on the words " being taken from 
among men." As he is their representative, and in this supreme and 
awful relation, he must be one of them. This is the first qualification of 
a human High Priest. "While he represents men before God, he is a man 
himself— 2t, man, and therefore able to be tolerant of human weakness, 
weakness which he shares so much that he is bound to offer sacrifice for 
his own sins as well as for those of others. Notice that this is a definite 
reference to the Day of Atonement on which there was a special provision 
(Lev. xvi. 11) that the High Priest should ofi"er a bullock as a sin-offering 
for his own sins. Notice also that we have here, in the writer's conscious- 
ness of what must presently be said of the human High Priest, a reason 
for the expressed reservation of iv. 15, "except in respect of sin." 

V. 1. offer .. .gifts and sacrifices for gifts of homage, thank-offerings and 

sins. Cp. viii. 3, 4, ix. 9, and cp. xi. 4, the like, and sacrifices in atonement 

All the phrases are habitual in the for sin. 
LXX: the distinction is between 

Then the second qualification. 

{The second.) 

4 And no man taketh the honour unto himself, but when 
he is called of God, even as was Aaron. 

These two qualifications, the writer is going on to say, are found in the 
Christ. But he treats them in the reverse order, with a rhetorical purpose, 
because the perfect humanity of the High Priest is the point on which he 
needs specially to insist. He deals first with the appointment. 

V. 5-10. Both fulfilled in Christ. 
{The second.) 

5 So Christ also glorified not himself to be made an high 
priest, but he that spake unto him, 

Thou art my Son, 

This day have I begotten thee : 

6 as he saith also in another place, 

Thou art a priest for ever 
After the order of Melchizedek. 

5. glorified not himself. The This day have I. It has been 

gloryof beingmadeaHigh Priestwas already pointed out (on ch. i. 5) 

not a self-assumed glory. See note that (as the Greek makes clear) the 

on ch. iii.2, where the correspondence emphasis is at least as much upon 

is pointed out between the expression "I" as upon "this day." The ideal 

hei*e and John viii. 54, xvii. 1. son of David is claimed from the 

H. 3 

34 HEBREWS [v. 5-10 

beginning as God's own Son. It chizedek." Then follows, introduced 

should be noticed also that the (after the way of this Epistle) merely 

point of the two quotations here is by the relative pronoun "who" (cp. 

that the Speaker is the same in i. 3, iv. 2, and in this chapter v. 11), 

Ps. ex. as in Ps. ii. ; i.e. that the the expression of what in the original 

same Voice which had proclaimed statement {vv. 1-3) was set forth as 

the Christ to be God's own Son the first qualification, viz. that the 

proclaimed Him also to be a "priest High Priest should be, in the full 

for ever after the order of Mel- sense of the term, a man. 

{The Jlrst.) 

7 Who, in the days of his flesh, having offered up 
prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears 
unto him that was able to save him ^from death, and 

8 having been heard for his godly fear, though he was a 
Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered ; 

9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them 
10 that obey him the ^ author of eternal salvation; named of 

God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 

1 Or, out of 2 Gr. cause. 

General Note on V. 7-10. 

What the writer is doing in these verses is to shew that Christ answers 
to the requirement that a High Priest should be one of those whom he is to 
represent. He establishes this by referring not only to Christ's sufferings 
in His human nature, but also to the attitude of filial submission in which 
they were accepted. He learned exactly the lesson which He was to teach. 
It should be noticed therefore that there is a coirespondence between the 
"obedience" of v. 8 and the "obey him" of v. 9. His example must be fully 

It is to be noticed also that, in the description of the sufi"erings, although 
there is probably thought of the actual story of Gethsemane (see notes on ». 7) 
and the Passion (it must be remembered that the "crying and tears" form 
no part of the picture in the Gospels of the Agony in the Garden), the 
verbal reference is rather to prophecy of what the Messiah was to bear and 
to do, and especially to Ps. xxii., the Psalm already quoted (ii. 12), to 
shew that He was to be the real Brother of men. Nearly all the phrases of 
this passage are to be found, several of them repeatedly, in the LXX version 
of that Psalm. 

There is another point on which a word should be said somewhere, and 
it is relevant here. The writer in these verses and elsewhere lays stress 
upon our Lord's suflFerings as constituting a qualification of His Priesthood, 
on the ground that in virtue of them and of His attitude towards them, 
men could count upon His understanding and sympathy. We are not to 
assume, what neither the written Law nor tradition gives us any reason to 

V. 5-10] 



believe, that in the Jewish Priesthood a moral relation, such as this would 
imply, existed between priest and people. The priest dealt mainly with the 
people in the mass. He was the mouthpiece of their collective devotion. 
So far as he represented individuals in special acts of thanksgiving or 
deprecation, the occasion and conditions were minutely prescribed by law. 
His action was formal and impersonal. Any comfort to the individual 
conscience came not from his personal sympathy, but from knowing that 
the Law had been satisfied. But the writer is speaking not only to Jewish 
experience, but to human feeling ; and he is assuming his readers to be 
at the point of view (which in the O.T. was only in process of being 
attained) from which the unit of life is not the community but the 
individual. He is asking them to think of Mediation and Atonement 
in their idea, of reconciliation as implying on the part of the Mediator 
a true knowledge of and sympathy with both the two persons who are to 
be reconciled. All that is said, and all that is true, of the typical atone- 
ments of the Levitical law is that the mediator was o^ie in blood and on the 
same level with those whom he represented. This too was typical, and the 
unity which it figured was a more perfect one. It was a real danger and 
one to be met, that an untempered insistence on the superhuman side of 
the true Mediator would make the Mediation seem less real, less satisfying, 
than the mediations of the Law. 

7. the days of his flesh, i.e. during 
His bodily life on earth. So 1 Pet. 
iv. 2, "your time in the flesh." It 
is contrasted here on the one side 
with His appearance in prophecy, 
described in the preceding verses, 
on the other with the moment, de- 
scribed in V. 9, when His work on 
earth was fully done. 

offered up. The verb here used 
{7rpo(T(f)€peiv) occurs 19 times more 
in the Epistle, 18 of them in the 
clear sense oi offering sacrijice; and 
we have had it in that sense twice 
already in the present passage, v. 1, 
"oflfer gifts and sacrifices," v. 3, "offer 
for sins." It is hard to resist the 
conclusion that it has a similar 
sense here. The "prayers and sup- 
plications with strong crying and 
tears," coupled as they were with 
"godly fear" and "obedience," are 
viewed as part at least of the High 
Priest's ofiering, as it is explained 
in ch. X. 5-10. 

from (marg. out of) death. The 

literal rendering "out of death" 
gives the meaning more clearly. 
Cp. John xii. 27, "save me from 
(out of) this horn-," that is, as West- 
cott interprets, "bring me safely out 
of the conflict," not "keep me from 
entering it." So we read in Jude 5, 
"having saved a people (i.e. brought 
them safely) out of the land of 
Egypt." Our Lord, we are told here, 
"was heard," i.e. His prayer was 
granted. He was delivered from 
death, but not from dying. The 
phrase "Him that was able to save" 
is possibly a reference to His re- 
corded words, "Father, all things 
are possible unto thee," Mark xiv, 
36; cp. also Matt. xxvi. 53. 

godly fear. The (single) Greek 
word which is so rendered occurs 
again in ch. xii. 28 and is there 
coupled with "awe" and rendered 
(in R.V.) "reverence" (A.V. "godly 
fear"). The adjective from which 
it is formed, and which originally 
meant "handling things cautiously," 




[v. 5-10 

is one employed by St Luke (L\ike 
ii. 25, Acts ii. 5, viii. 2, xxii. 12) and 
always rendered in R.V. "devout." 
The word as used here describes the 
attitude of reverent submission to 
the Father's will. 

8. learned... by the things which 
he suffered. A translation cannot 
preserve the assonance and the pro- 
verbial form of the Greek {efiadev 
d<l> wv enadev). The easy use of 
a Greek proverb [Herod, i. 207, 
Aesch. Agam. 170, 241, Soph. O.G. 
143, Plat. Symp. p. 272] in the 
full sense in which we are familiar 
with it in classical literature is 
one proof among many that we 
are dealing in the Epistle with an 
original Greek writing, not (as 
Clement of Alexandria surmised) a 
translation from the Aramaic. It 
is also an illustration of what Origen 
meant when he said that the writer 
was one who wrote "more really as 
a Greek" than St Paul did. 

9. made perfect ; as in ch. ii. 10, 
which is a parallel in thought as well 
as expression. Notice that here, 
as there, the apologetic purpose is 
present, to meet the objections 
taken to a suflFering Messiah. The 
suffering, the real humanity, is 
claimed as a necessary condition 
of the effective Priesthood. 

author. Vaughan translates "per- 
sonal cause." 

eternal salvation. See on i. 14. 
The phrase as a whole comes from 
the O.T., as Isaiah xlv. 17. As used 
here it anticipates the full explana- 
tion of ch. ix. 12, "eternal redemp- 

10. named of God. We might 
paraphrase "For being thus a man 
among His brethren, He had 
also the other qualification. He 
had been already recognized by God 
Himself as a High Priest, and High 
Priest after the order of Melchize- 
dek." This last phrase is now to be 
explained. It should be noted that 
the words "a high priest after the 
order" are not quoted exactly from 
the Psalm. The words in it are 
rightly given in v. 6, "a priest for 
ever after the order." The explana- 
tion no doubt is that the writer here 
is taking the prophecy of Ps. ex. as 
a whole ; v. 1 (already quoted several 
times in the Epistle) as well as % 4. 
The "priest for ever after the order 
of Melchizedek" of the one verse is 
the same Person that has been bidden 
in V. 1 to "sit at God's right hand"; 
and the "passing through the hea- 
vens" has been already (ch. iv. 14) 
linked in our writer's interpretation 
with that typical passing "within the 
veil" which was the High Priest's 
especial function. 

General Note on the relation of Y. 10 to V. 11 foil. 

"A High Priest after the order of Melchizedek." Here then is the 
thought which has been in the writer's mind since the first reference to 
Ps. ex., and which interprets the expression of ch. iv. 14, "a great High 
Priest." Postponing anything that is to be said of the way in which the 
thought is to be worked out, we may note at once that in it he has found 
just what he wanted, a way of explaining most persuasively to Hebrew 
Christians what they have gained, without losing anything, in passing on 
from Judaism to Christianity. It touches vitally both sides of the truth 
which he is labouring to establish. It takes the aspect of the Jewish 
religion which made the closest appeal to the religious consciousness — its 

V. 11-14] HEBREWS 37 

aspect as a religion of sacrifice, of priestly access to God. It claims for the 
Messiah such a priestly ofiice and function of transcendent dignity. On the 
other hand it puts the superiority of the priesthood of Christ to the Levitical 
priesthood on grounds which would least wound feeling and shock prejudice, 
by tracing the larger conception back, through words believed to be words 
of David, to the experience and confession of A braham. 

What then had the Psalmist meant when he saluted the Christ afar as 
a " priest after the order of Melchizedek " ? This is the question which the 
writer proposes to ask and answer. But before this is done we have in the 
remaining verses of the chapter and in ch. vi. a long hortatory passage of 
which the purpose (although before it ends it will, as usual, have added 
something to the presentation of the argument) is in the first instance to 
call special attention to this explanation of Christ's High Priesthood, and 
to meet the supposed objection that he is offering his readers something 
novel and hard. "Novel and hard it is" he answers, "as all new lessons 
must be : but you cannot be children always." 

It is natural to compare the long exhortation in chs. iii. and iv. with the 
present one. Each is suitable to its place. The general source of danger 
in view in the two cases is the same, viz. despondency, the loss of faith and 
patience. But the results traced differ. In chs. iii. and iv. the exhortation 
follows the presentation of Christ as the greater Moses ; and the suitable 
warning is that they should not treat their Law-giver and Leader as their 
forefathers treated Moses "in the provocation." The danger looked to is 
moral — waywardness and rebellion. In the present passage the defect 
traced in the first instance is in intelligence and spirit — a torpor of mind 
and paralysis of will (what Dante and the Middle Age called "accidia," 
"accidie") which will prevent their ever getting to the heart of their religion. 

V. 11-14. Milk akd solid food. 

11 Of *whom we have many things to say, and hard of 
interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing. 

12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, 
ye have need again ^that some one teach you the rudiments 
of the ^ first principles of the oracles of God ; and are 
become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 

13 For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience 

14 of the word of righteousness ; for he is a babe. But solid 
food is for ^full-grown men, even those who by reason of 
use have their senses exercised to discern good and evii. 

1 Or, ichich ^ Or, that one teach you which he the rudimenta 

* Gr. beginning. * Or, perfect 



[v. 11-14 

11. Of irhom {or, irhich). "Of 
which person" or "of which matter" : 
more probably the latter. As has 
been noticed it is a habit with the 
writer to make even important 
transitions informally by the use 
of a relative pronoun ; cp. eh. i. 3, 
iii. 2, V. 7. 

hard of interpretation. The 
following words shew that this is 
to be taken in the limited sense 
of "diflScult to expound to you." 

dull. The Greek word is common 
in Plato for a man of dull and torpid 

12. the time, i.e. the time that 
has elapsed since you became 

that some one teach you, o\; that 
one teach you which he. The differ- 
ence is of the accent on the word 
{tivo. or Tiva). Either makes good 

rudiments. The Greek word is 
used of the "alphabet." 

of the first princi2)les (Gr. "of the 
beginning"). The phrase is re- 
peated in ch. vi. 1. The iteration 
" rudiments of the beginning " gives 
emphasis, "the very first and most 
rudimentary principles." 

the oracles of God: that is, as 
always (see Acts vii. 38, Rom. iii. 2), 
the older Scriptures, in which the 
writers of the N.T. found all Chris- 
tian truth implicit. The very purpose 
of this Epistle is to shew to Hebrew 
Christians the relation between the 
two Revelations. 

milk... solid food. The meaning 
of the contrast is explained in ch. 
vi. 1, 2. The figure is a natural one 
in all literature. Both St Paul and 

St Peter use it (1 Cor. iii. 1, 2; 1 Pet. 
ii. 2). 

13. For every one, &c. The par- 
ticle implies that the sentence so 
introduced is meant to justify and 
explain the metaphor: "I say that 
you need milk and not solid food, 
and by this I mean that you are 
still as babes, unfit, as babes are, for 
full moral teaching." "The [it should 
be rather "a"] word of righteousness " 
is a literal, but not an interpretative, 
translation. "Word of" seems (as 
in ch. vi. 1; see marg.) to mean 
"teaching about." The negative 
sentence is explained by the positive 
one that follows : unfitness for the 
" word of righteousness " is the 
opposite of the power, which 
comes with maturity, to "discern 
good and evil." The "babe" has 
the faculty, but like its "organs of 
sense," it has not been "exercised." 
It is implied, though not fully said, 
that teaching of the priestly work 
of Christ presupposes, for its recep- 
tion, a more complete awakening 
and exercise of the moral sense. 

14. to discern good and evil. 
The words as they stand (as is 
shewn by their relation to the 
"senses," or rather "organs of sense") 
belong to the figure ; i.e. it is not, in 
the first instance, moral good and 
evil. The babe cannot choose be- 
tween what is wholesome and the 
contrary. Mr Rendall points out 
that the phrases used belong to 
the proverbial expression of the limi- 
tations of childhood, its incapacity 
to "refiase the evil and choose the 
good," Is. vii. 16, Deut. i. 39. 

VI. 1-3] 



VI. 1-3. Advance in Christian knowledge, 

VI. 1 Wherefore let us ^ cease to speak of the first principles 
of Christ, and press on unto ^perfection ; not laying again 
a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith 

2 toward God, ^of the teaching of ^baptisms and of laying 
on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal 

3 judgement. And this will we do, if God permit. 

1 Gr. leave the word of the beginning of Christ. 

2 Or, /uW groxoth 

2 Some ancient authorities read, even the teaching of. 
* Or, washings 

VI. 1. Wherefore ; the conclusion 
from the whole thought, viz. that it 
is time for his readers to shake off 
their sloth and advance in Christian 

press on. The verb so rendered 
is middle or passive, and possibly 
means "let us be carried on" — let us 
yield to the movement of the Spirit 
which would carry us on. 

perfection, marg. full groicth. It 
is the cognate word to the adjec- 
tive used in ch. v. 14, and there 
translated "full-grown." Both in 
classical Greek and in the N.T. (cp. 
1 Cor. xiv. 20 ; Eph. iv. 13, 14) the 
words are used in both senses, the 
two meeting in the idea of complete- 
ness, the attainment of the final 
stage. The only question can be 
how far in any particular case the 
figure of growth was consciously 
present. Here the relation to the 
figures of ch. v. 12 foil, makes it hard 
to doubt that it was. 

In vv. 1, 2 we have a picture (it is 
clear) of the preparation of a Cate- 
chumen. It is, as we might say, "let 
us not do nothing beyond learning 
the Catechism." The picture Itself 
is in accord with what we see of the 
earliest Christian teaching in the 
Acts of the Apostles — the Gospel 

call to repentance and belief; the 
initial rites, baptism and the laying 
on of hands (Acts viii. 17); lastly the 
twin doctrines, always in the front 
of Apostolic teaching. Resurrection 
and Judgement. It will be noticed 
that the teaching which is described 
thus as rudimentary is teaching 
which did not require a Jew to give 
up anything. It was difi"erent when 
they were called upon to recognize 
that the Atonements of the Law were 

dead works is a phrase peculiar 
to the Epistle; see on ch. ix. 14, 
" cleanse your conscience from dead 
works." There the phrase is doubly 
related to the context, as suggesting 
at once a contrast with the " service 
of the living God," and a comparison 
between the moral defilement re- 
sulting from sinful actions and the 
ceremonial defilement caused by 
touching a dead body. No such 
particular thoughts are in view here, 
so that the phrase seems to be an 
habitual one and to be explained on 
general considerations. It has a 
likeness to such an expression as 
Eph. V. 11, "unfruitful works"— 
works, that is, vdthout result, that 
are as a dead bough that can pro- 
duce no fruit; and it belongs to 



[vi. 4-8 

the figure common in all the N.T., 
which represents the ditference be- 
tween the life of the senses and the 
life of the spirit as a difference be- 
tween death and life: cp. Luke xv. 
24 ; Eph. ii. 1 ; 1 John iii. 14. 

2. baptisms (niarg. washings). 
The plural belongs, no doubt, to an 
address to Jewish Christians who 
had had ceremonial washings of their 
own (see at ch. ix. 10) and who would 
have needed (as we see from the 

story in Acts xix. 1-5) instruction in 
the difference between Christian 
Baptism and other " washings." Cp. 
the "questioning" which at an 
earlier date arose "on the part of 
John's disciples mth a Jew about 
j)urifying," i.e. apparently, about the 
principle and meaning of his baptism, 
and that of the disciples of Jesus 
(John iii, 25). 

3. if= " if indeed " ; an emphatic 

At this point the address takes another turn. The new thought is 
perhaps at the back of this emphasis on the " if," as though he contemplated 
a diflficulty in doing as he said. 

VI. 4-8. Danger of falling back 

4 For as touching those that were once enlightened ^and 
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the 

5 Holy Ghost, and ^tasted the good word of God, and the 

6 powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impos- 
sible to renew them again unto repentance ; ^seeing they 
crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him 

7 to an open shame. For the land which hath drunk the rain 
that Cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for 
them for whose sake it is also tilled, receiveth blessing from 

8 God : but if it beareth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and 
nigh unto a curse ; whose end is to be burned. 

1 Or, having both tasted of. ..and being made. ..and having tasted, d;c. 

2 Or, tasted the word of God that it is good 

3 Or, the while 

4, 5. enlightened... tasted... made 
partakers ...tasted. A series of 
phrases descriptive of the eflfect on 
a convert of his first appreciation of 
Christianity. We must not distin- 
guish them too closely. The rhetori- 
cal effect lies in the suggested con- 
trast between the ample list of graces 
and opportunities which are repre- 
sented as having been lavished on 
him and the return made by him, for 

which a single curt phrase suffices, 
"fell away." Westcott calls atten- 
tion to the fact that the graces 
named are "gifts of power, of per- 
sonal endowment : there is no gift 
[named among them] of love." The 
hope even for those whom this lavish 
expenditure of gifts has failed to 
keep straight may yet lie in the fact 
that (see below, v. 10) they have that 
"more excellent" gift (1 Cor. xii, 31) 

VI. 4-8] 



4. For; in sequence to "this 
will we do," i.e. we will endeavour to 
carry you forward, because the 
thought of going back is so terrible. 

ijoere once enlightened. So in ch. x. 
32, "after ye were enlightened." 
Conversion to Christianity is looked 
upon as the dawning of a new light. 
In the next century the word had 
become a technical term as an equi- 
valent for being "baptized." It is 
to be noticed (see the general note on 
these verses) that the word rendered 
" once " is emphatic, " once for all." 

the heavenly gift ; not to be 
separated too much from the fol- 
lowing phrase : the two together are 
nearly equivalent to "the heavenly 
gift of the Holy Ghost," the first 
phrase calling attention to the fact 
that it is a gift (see Luke xi. 13, 
John iv. 10), the second, "made 
partakers of," to its reception. 

5. tasted the good word of God. 
The alternative offered in the margin 
is more correct, " tasted the word of 
God that it is good," i.e. " tasted the 
goodness of the word of God." It 
may be noticed also that it is not 
literally "the word of God," in the 
sense of the collected Revelation ; 
but " a word (or utterance) of God," 
i.e. anything that God says ; cp. 
Eph. vi. 17. But, of course, the 
primary reference is to the Gospel. 

good; good to the taste and 
wholesome : cp. the use of the word 
in ch. V. 14, and in Matt. xii. 33. 

powers. The supernatural energies 
associated in prophecy (as in Joel ii. 
28, 29) with the Messianic age (here 
called "the age to come," see on 
ch. ii. 5), and realized in the " gifts 
of the Holy Ghost" of ch. ii. 4, 1 Cor. 
xii., &c. 

6. and then fell away. "Then" = 
" after all that." It is not expressed 

in the Greek, but the purpose of its 
insertion is to represent the rhetori- 
cal effect of the original, in which the 
single and curt phrase "fell away" 
(which sums up the return that 
they make) is in contrast with the 
long list of gifts and opportunities 
which have been lavished on them. 
" the heavenly gift, «&c." 

crucify to themselves; i.e. put 
themselves (by their apostasy, where- 
by they pronounce the Son of God to 
be an impostor) into the position of 
those who crucified Him. In con- 
trast with this aspect of their action 
as " to themselves," is put its further 
efi'ect on others, of holding Him up 
to shame. 

7. it is also tilled. " Also," i.e. in 
addition to receiving the rain. It 
answers to what is done for it both 
by nature and by man's hands. 

receiveth blessing. It is literally 
"shareth in," and it seems well to 
keep this. A special blessing is 
referred to ; viz. that of Gen. i. 12. 
So with the " curse " in v. 8, there is 
a remembrance of the cursing of the 
ground for man's sake after the Fall 
in Gen. iii. 17. The leading words 
in these verses come from one or 
other of those passages. This also 
explains the double expression "is 
rejected" (fails, that is, to win the 
approval as "good") and "is nearer 
to incurring the curse of barren- 

8. whose end is to be burned. 
Lit. "of which the end is for burning"; 
that is, all that its produce is good 
for is to feed a bonfire It has been 
complained that the image of burn 
ing weeds lacks weight ; but it gains 
that weight from the thought of the 
thing imaged; cp. the end of the 
Parable of the Tares. 

42 HEBREWS [vi. 4-8 

General Note on VI. 4-8 

These verses have had a long history in Christian controversy. " It is 
impossible to renew them again unto repentance " : they are solemn words ; 
a vision of the awful danger of apostasy, of turning back from a high calling. 
The writer means to put that danger strongly before his readers' minds, 
although he hastens in the following verses tenderly to assure them that the 
vision does not reflect their own position. But like all such words they must 
be read carefully and in their context. We cannot but be right, for instance, 
in noticing what must be a purposed change in tenses in the Greek, hard to 
keep in a translation : "enlightened," " tasted," " fell away," all in the Greek 
aorist, which belongs to single, definite, completed action; "renew," 
"crucify," "put to shame," all in the present, which belongs to inchoate, 
continuous, habitual action. This in itself limits the statement. Whether 
we take the Greek participle " crucifying " to mean " seeing they crucify " 
(as A.V. and R.V. in text) or "the while they crucify" (R.V. marg.) or "if 
they crucify " (and all these meanings are possible), in any case it is of action 
continued to the time that the attempt to " renew " is made. It is " they are 
crucifying." Cessan te causa, cessdbit effectus. If the cause ceases to operate 
the effect will cease to follow. But we are on stiU broader and safer ground 
[We do not always realize how new in the history of interpretation, and 
especially of Biblical interpretation, is the canon which seems to us so un- 
questionable] in looking at the general tenor and purpose of the wiiter. 
What he is speaking of is the graduation of Christian teaching. They must 
not be content (he says) with the elements which answer to the milk that 
is for babes. They must grow in interest and capacity for understanding 
and judging what is offered to them as the fuller Christian Truth. This is 
what he is hoping and purposing for them. One thing he will not contem- 
plate — i\\Q\v falling away, putting themselves back into their pre-Christian 
state. For such a stage as that he has no teaching — no doctrine still in re- 
serve, of greater power to move or convince. They have "seen the light," 
"tasted the gift" It is like soil for which the skies and the husbandman 
have done all that can be done. It would be a sad, even a hopeless case. 
But the writer is putting the matter from the point of view of the teacher. 
He has done all that he can do. What he is deprecating is the thought that 
he has kept back something ; that there is still in his store the argument, 
the explanation, the revelation, the motive which will succeed when the 
others have failed. 

Both in early days, and again in the controversies of the Reformation 
age, this limited reference of the passage was overlooked. It was treated 
as an absolute declaration of the impossibility of recovery to those who fell 
away. It was the use of the passage by the Novatian schismatics to support 
their exclusion of the " lapsed" from all return to Communion which was the 
ground (apart from the question of authorship) for the long resistance 
offered to the acceptance of the Epistle as Canonical. And in the same way 
in the discussion between Calvinists and Arminians on the possibility of 
falling from grace this imssage was treated on both sides as one that must 

vi. 9-12] HEBREWS 43 

be forced into agreement with their several views. The truth is that it does 
not touch such questions. 

" Impossible " ! It is a final word. But the impossibility spoken of is an 
impossibility to man, not to God, The Apostle has no more teaching. His 
bolt is shot — his quiver is empty. That is in itself a solemn consideration, a 
reason to be urged for listening to his teaching while it is possible. But it 
does not limit, or touch, the power of 

"His high Hand 
Who doth heai'ts as streams command." 
See also the notes above on vv. 4, 5 and below on v. 10. 

VI. 9-12. "Add to love faith and hope/ 

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and 
things that 'accompany salvation, though we thus speak : 

10 for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love 
which ye shewed towards his name, in that ye ministered 

11 unto the saints and still do minister. And we desire that 
each one of you may shew the same diligence unto the 

12 ^fulness of hope even to the end : that ye be not sluggish, 
but imitators of them who through faith and patience 
inherit the promises. 

1 Or, are near to 2 Or, full assurance 

9. better. It is in the Greek " the merit, nor of future reward, but of 
better," i.e. the better of two possible present grace and advance : " to him 
alternatives. that hath shall be given." It would 

that accompany. Lit. " that hold be a wrong in God's Avorld, a breach 

to, belong to." The form of expres- of God's promise, if faithful eflfort, 

sion seems to be chosen as corre- true self-forgetfulness, did not lead 

spending to the preceding "nigh a man higher, not lower. As was 

unto (the same Greek word) a curse." noticed before (note on vv. 4, 5) love 

saltation. See on ch. i. 14. This was not named in the list of graces 

is a case where no special figure is in and powers from which the possi- 

view. The word describes a "safe bility of falling away was contem- 

issue " as generally as possible. It is plated. It is the " more excellent 

the opposite of condemnation, de- ^^y" which, as it ranks above all 

struction, " a curse " {v. 8). other spiritual endowments, so gives 

thus, i.e. as we have been speak- surer hope that a good work has 

ing. It is an half apology for severity been begun which will not be allowed 

of tone. to fall through. 

10. God is not unrighteous. Cp. love. A.V. had "labour of love," 
St John's assurance (1 John i, 9), butthe better text omits the first sub- 
" He is faithful and righteous to for- stantive, which came in from the re- 
give us." The thought is not of membranceof 1 Thess.i.3. We notice 



[VI. 13-20 

that (as in that place) we have in w. 
10-12 (cp. ch. X. 22-24) the familiar 
triad, love, hope, faith. So in 1 Pet. i. 
21, 22. This does not mean that they 
are realized in distinctness and 
mutual relation, as by St Paul in 
one supreme moment in 1 Cor. xiii. 

towards his name, i.e. towards 
Him and therefore towards those 
who bore His name, towards their 
fellow-Christians. Cp. Matt. x. 42, 
"in the name of a disciple," and Mark 
ix. 41 (R.V. marg.), "in name that ye 
are Christ's." 

11. desire. Lit. "set our heart 
on." Vaughan translates " it is our 
heart's desire." It is a strong word 
for personal desire, the word trans- 
lated in the xth Commandment 
"covet." It is our Lord's word, 
"with desire have I desired," Luke 
xxii. 15, and " many prophets and 
kings have desired," Matt. xiii. 17. 

shew. The verb is designedly re- 
peated from V. 10. This is more 
evident in the Greek, in which it is 
a longer and less familiar word (eV- 
SeiKwadai). Their love was out of 
the common, couldnot be overlooked. 
He would wish that their hope and 
faith might be equally conspicuous. 

diligence unto, i.e. in the direc- 
tion of. 

fulness {or, full assurance) of hope. 
The word translated "fulness," mean- 
ing properly "full measure," acquired 
(as our words " satisfy," &c.) the sense 
of " full assurance " and is so used in 
1 Thess. i. 5. It may be so here and 
in ch. X. 22 ; but the sense of " ful- 
ness " is all that is needed. We may 
note that in this Epistle " hope " has 
the prominent place which St Paul 
leather gives to " faith " (cp. ch. iii. 6 
and X. 23, with note). As the next 
words indicate, what the writer is 
dreading most is the despondency 
which paralyzes effort. 

to the end. Cp. ch. iii. 6 and 14. 
One thinks of Mark xiii. 13, " he that 
endureth to the end." 

12. sluggish. It is the word trans- 
lated " dull " in V. 11; see note there. 

them who... inherit. The faith- 
ful of all times (it is an antici- 
pation of the great catalogue of 
ch. xi.), though it is brought down 
in V. 13 f. to the single instance of 

inherit. Not " are heirs to," but 
(as we see in v. 15) " have entered on 
the inheritance." 

VI. 13-20. God's sworn promises. 

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could 

14 swear by none greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely 
blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply 

15 thee. And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the 

16 promise. For men swear by the greater ; and in every dis- 

17 pute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. Wherein 
God, being minded to shew more abundantly unto the 
heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, ^inter- 

18 posed with an oath : that by two immutable things, in which 
it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong en- 

VI. 13-20] HEBREWS 45 

couragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the 

19 hope set before us ; which we have as an anchor of the soul, 
a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that 

20 which is within the veil ; whither as a forerunner Jesus 
entered for us, having become a high priest after the order 
of Melchizedeli. 

^ Gr. mediated. 

General Note on VI. 13-20. 

These verses explain and enforce the exhortation just given {v. 12) to 
imitate their faithful forefathers, who had "trusted and not been confounded." 
A single capital instance is taken in Abraham, and attention is fixed on the 
terms in which the promise to him is described, especially in Gen. xxii., as 
including the confirmation by an oath, " By myself have I sworn, saith the 
Lord." (Notice that this is dwelt upon throughout the Bible ; see Gen. xxvi. 
3, Ps. cv. 9, Mic. vii. 20, Luke i. 73.) Two things are indicated, though 
not put directly into words : (1) that they have the same security as Abraham. 
He has in mind the solemn terms of Ps. ex., " The Lord sware and will not 
repent," on which he will comment at length in ch. vii. 20 f. This is the refer- 
ence here of the " immutability of his counsel " ; (2) that the promise of a 
" Priest after the order of Melchizedek " is virtually a repetition of the 
promise to Abraham. They are the " heirs of the promise " : the promise 
made to him, in its higher and more spiritual import, still held, and had been 
repeated to his faithful descendants. As they have the same promise and 
the same security they should have the same hope and patience, " hope as 
an anchor to hold by in a harbour of refuge"; for — here we have left 
Abraham and come back to the promise of the Ideal High Priest — the 
Person on Whom their hopes are fastened is in heaven, in the true Holy of 
Holies — and there, not only as a Levitical High Priest, to represent them, 
but to precede them — to open a way by which they might follow. 

13. when God made promise. not the promise " (xi. 39), they " died 
This is a possible translation, but it in faith not having received the 
is better to take it according to the promises " (xi. 13). But they re- 
more usual Greek idiom, " when God ceived instalments of them. Abra- 
had made promise." The quotation ham had a son in his old age and 
of the oath is from Gen. xxii. 16, and saw the promise on its way to fulfil- 
this was a confirmation of the pro- ment. (Cp. the strong statement 
mise which had been already narrated in John viii. 56.) And so in a 
in Gen. xii. 2, 3, xiii. 16, xv. 5, 6, larger sense, the promises made to 
xvii. 5 f. him of being the father of a great 

15. thus., i.e. in reliance on the people, of his seed possessing the 

secmity — the security of God's oath. Holy Land, of the birth of the 

obtained the promise. In what Messiah of his race, were literally 

sense ? In one sense we read that fulfilled. History bore witness that 

the faithful men of old "received the promises had not been futile. 



[VI. 13-20 

Cp. the use of the same phrase in 
ch. xi. 33. 

16. For. The particle introduces 
a justification (it is of the nature of 
an apology) of the statements in 
Genesis that God "sware" and 
"sware by Himself" — these state- 
ments themselves being appealed to 
as a precedent (and so an explana- 
tion) of the words in Ps. ex., "the 
Lord sware and will not repent." 

17. Wherein. "In which state 
of things," i.e. things being so. 

to sheic more abundantly. The 
Greek is properly a paradoxical 
word, and expresses assurance made 
even superfluously sure. 

the heirs of the promise. For the 
promise was to "Abraham and his 
seed." In a sense (as we have seen) 
Abraham " obtained the promise " ; 
but the promise in a full spiritual 
senselengthenedoutto each succeed- 
ing generation, and was renewed 
(thewriterwould say) in the prophecy 
of Ps. ex. 

interposed. Lit. "played the part 
of a mediator." It has been recog- 
nized already {v. 13) that the analogy 
is imperfect between the human 
oath, which is the appeal to a higher 
power, and the oath of God, Who has 
no superior. In the same way there 
can be only a limited propriety in 
saying that God "interposed" be- 
tween Himself and man. 

18. two immutable things. A 
promise and an oath. There is 
something like irony in the modera- 
tion of the statement that "God 
cannot lie." Westcott calls atten- 

tion to the distinction in the Greek 
between "God" in v. 17, which has 
the definite article and is a personal 
designation, and "God" in v. 18, 
which has not, and is therefore de- 
scriptive (see on ch. L 2, on "his 
Son"), "One who is God," " One whom 
you recognize as God." 

set before us. As something to 
strive for, to move towards : so in 
ch. xii. 1, 2. 

19. an anchor. It is worth 
noticing that this figure of an 
anchor, which grows here naturally 
out of the preceding idea of a 
harbour of refuge, if it had to the 
wi'iter any roots also in literary 
antecedents, must find them in 
classical Greek, in which the anchor 
is a common image of security. It 
has no parallel in the Hebrew scrip- 

a hope... entering. The repetition 
of "hope" in KV. makes it clear 
that it is hope, not the anchor (which 
would be a needless mixture of meta- 
phor), that enters " within the veil," 
i.e. into the Holy of Holies. Hope 
ventures into the very Presence of 
God, for " Christ is our hope." 

20. as a forerunner. (" I go to 
prepare a place for you," John xiv. 
2.) The word is used of the ad- 
vanced guard of an approaching 
army. See in the general note on 
ch. X. 19-25 some remarks on the 
effect of the phrase, slipped in thus 
incidentally, in widening the sym- 
boUsm of the High Priest's entrance 
into the Holy of Holies. 

With ch. vii. we begin at last the explanatory comment, so long promised 
and often deferred, on the title which has been given to the Christ, viz. the 
' Priest (or High Priest) for ever after the order oi Melchizedek." 

VII. 1-3] HEBREWS 47 

VII. 1-3. Melchizedek m Gen. xiv. 

VII. 1 For this " Melchizedek," " king of Salem," " priest of 
God Most High," who " met Abraham returning from the 

2 slaughter of the kings," and " blessed him," to whom also 
Abraham divided " a tenth part of all " (being first, by 
interpretation King of righteousness, and then also King 

3 of Salem, which is King of peace ; without father, without 
mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of 
days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God), 
abideth a priest continually. 

[I have put the phrases of vv. 1 and 2 into inverted commas to indicate 
that they are verbatim quotations from Gen. xiv.] 

The phrases of v. 3 mean that the picture of Melchizedek, as he appears 
and disappears in the story of Genesis, shews us no pedigree, personal or 
ofBcial, makes no mention of birth or death, predecessor or successor. In 
this appearance we know not whence, and disappearance we know not 
whither, he is " made like unto the Son of God " (cp. John vii. 27, " When 
the Christ coraeth no one knoweth whence he is "), i.e. he is fitted to be a 
type of the "' Son of God," the title used so often in this Epistle to denote, 
from the Divine side, the Person of the Messiah. It is important to keep 
clear what it is that the writer is doing. No doubt in the appeal to the 
etymological meaning of names (Melchizedek — Salem), and in arguments 
drawn from the silence of Scripture as well as from its utterance, he is 
following the practice of Philo and the Alexandrine school of interpretation. 
But he is not allegorizing for himself the story in Genesis. He is imagining 
what the Psalmist is likely to have meant by a " Priest for ever after the 
order of Melchizedek^ The Psalmist, it was clear, took the title from the 
short story in Gen. xiv. What did he find there to give meaning to the 
title ? He found a Priest spoken of in lofty and mysterious terms, as King 
at once and Priest, whose names and titles suggested prophetic and 
Messianic meanings. " You hear," he says, " nothing of any earthly 
ancestry. He comes into the narrative and vanishes again mysteriously, 
as if not of this world. Abraham is represented as recognizing him for a 
superior. That is the picture as it stands in Holy Writ." It will be seen 
that the writer does not vouch even for all the particular points having 
passed actually through the Psalmist's mind. He shews what the materials 
were in the words of Genesis for the Psalmist's conception. Som^e allegorical, 
metaphorical use of the story is evident (he would say) on the face of the 
expression in Ps. ex. It is at least clear that the Psalmist meant to 
describe the Messiah as one who should possess a Priesthood and one older, 
and more venerable than that of the Levitical law. 

VII. 1. For. The sentence thus for the third time it has been asserted 
introduced is to justify the last clause in the words of Ps. ex. that Jesus is 
of the preceding paragraph in which the High Priest " after the order of 

48 HEBREWS [vii. 4-10 

Melchizedek," and especially to em- an archaic name for Jerusalem," 

phasize its last words as they stand Driver. It occurs in Ps. Ixxvi. 2, 

in the Greek, "for ever," "For this "In Salem also is his tabernacle," 

Melchizedek (the ideal Melchizedek, where the LXX have "in peace"' 

that is, of whom the Psalm speaks) (eV (Iprivrj). 

...abideth a priest continually." 3. continually. It is a phrase 

2. hy interpretation: i.e. that peculiar to this Epistle, occurring 

was the etymological meaning of again in ch. x. 1, 12, 14. In the 

the name. Driver on Gen. xiv. 18 last two places it is rendered in 

thi'ows doubts on the fact; but this R.V. by "for ever." It differs from 

does not affect the truth of the the phrases more properly rendered 

statement that this was the etymo- "for ever" in that it excludes not so 

logical meaning as the Psalmist much a limit of duration as a breach 

understood it. of continuity. 

Salem. "Intended probably as 

We have already in v. 3 touched a point, to be touched again in v. 8, 
and which will be further elaborated in vv. 23-25, viz. the suggestion, 
drawn from the story, of a priesthood outside the limitations of time. In 
the rest of vv. 4-10 the writer presses the more obvious point of the 
superiority of the priesthood as measured by the greatness of one to 
whom Abraham offered tithes and from whom he accepted a blessing. 

VII. 4-10. Comment on account in Genesis. 

4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abra- 
ham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils. 

5 And they indeed of the sons of Levi that receive the 
priest's oifice have commandment to take tithes of the 
people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, 
though these have come out of the loins of Abraham: 

6 but he whose genealogy is not counted from them hath 
taken tithes of Abraham, and hath blessed him that hath 

7 the promises. But without any dispute the less is blessed 

8 of the better. And here men that die receive tithes ; but 

9 there one, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And, so 
to say, through Abraham even Levi, who receiveth tithes, 

10 hath paid tithes; for he was yet in the loins of his father, 
when Melchizedek met him. 

4. how great this man was, the pre-eminent dignity that this 

greater than Abraham, greater than implies!" It is indicated in the 

the Levitical priests. This is the characterizing of Abraham as "the 

argument of vv. 4-10. "Melchize- patriarch" (in the Greek the word 

dek took tithes of Abraham. See stands, with greater emphasis, almost 

VII. 4-10] 



as an exclamation, at the end of the 
sentence), the "father of the race!" 
the " father of all the tribes of Israel ! " 
Then this suggests that tithe-taking 
was not only allowed but enjoined in a 
special "commandment" in the case 
of the Levitical priests, tithe-taking 
from their brethren, descendants 
with them from Abraham. But 
this again emphasizes the greatness 
of Melchizedek, for he had no such 
tie of race {v. 6), no such "com- 
mandment," yet he took tithes of 
the tithe-taker {vv. 9, 10), took 
tithes as by the law of a timeless 
world {v. 8), took tithes of one 
whom, by blessing him, he recog- 
nized as inferior in rank to himself 
{vv. 6, 7). 

out of the cMeJ spoils : not actually 
stated in Gen. xiv., but inferred 
apparently from the words " of all." 

5. the sons of Levi. The suc- 
cessive strata of legislation with 
respect to tithes in the Jewish law 
are hard to disentangle, but the 
writer would go on such direct 
statements as Numb, xviii. 21, 25. 
It will be noticed that the exact 
statement is that the Levites took 

a tithe and the priests a tithe of 
that tithe. 

6. hath taken tithes; so "hath 
blessed" and in v. 9 "hath paid." 
It is an idiomatic use of the Greek 
perfect tense (especially frequent in 
this Epistle — see Westcott on this 
verse) to characterize a past action 
which endures in its effects. (An 
instance easily grasped is in Pilate's 
saying, John xix. 22, "what I have 
written I have wi'itten," i.e. I cannot 
unwrite it.) The meaning is ex- 
panded in V. 8 ; the act of Mel- 
chizedek which stamped his relation 
to Abraham was done once for all. 
It was not an accident of the gene- 
rations. It was done and stands 
recorded for all time in Scripture. 

8. here... there; "in our own 
experience ". . ." in the Scripture 

9. so to say ; an apologetic 
phrase common in classical Greek, 
but not found in the Bible save in 
this place. It is opposed by Plato 
to "in exact speech" {aKpi^el 'K6ya>). 
It implies here that the saying to 
which it is attached must not be 
pressed logically. 

Introductory Note to VII. 11-25. 

Down to this point the writer has been interpreting the expressions of 
the Psalmist by looking at the record in Genesis upon which they were 
built. He goes on to examine a little more closely the actual expression 
of the Psalm itself; and in three points, touched on severally (1) in »». 11-19, 
(2) in vv. 20-22, (3) in m. 23-25. 

(1) vv. 11-19. We are to note that it is prophecy. The Levitical priest- 
hood was in possession: but there was to he a priesthood after another 
order, of another tribe (vv. 13, 14), of another mode of appointment 
(vv. 15-19). What can this mean, but that the Law (of which the Priest- 
hood was a comer stone) was itself temporary and incomplete ? 

60 HEBREWS [vii. 11-28 

VII. 11-28. Comment on prophecy in Ps. ex. 
(1) '' After the order of MelcUzedeh" (11-19.) 

11 Now if there was perfection through the Levitical priest- 
hood (for under it hath the people received the law), 
what further need was there that another priest should 
arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be reckoned 

12 after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being 
changed, there is made of necessity a change also ^of the 

13 law. For he of whom these things are said ^belongeth 
to another tribe, fi*om which no man hath given attend- 

14 ance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath 
sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake 

15 nothing concerning priests. And what we say is yet 
more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Mel- 

16 chizedek there ariseth another priest, who hath been 
made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but 

17 after the power of an ^endless life: for it is witnessed 
of him, 

Thou art a priest for ever 
After the order of Melchizedek. 

18 For there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment 

19 because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law 
made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a 
better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God. 

^ Or, oj law 2 Qx. hath partaken of. See ch. ii. 14. 

3 Gr. indissoluble. 

11. perfection. A special point either in the Bible or in other con- 
in which it did not attain perfection temporary writings ; and suggests 
is named in ch. ix. 9, viz. the cleans- that it was adopted by the writer 
ing of the conscience: but the ex- here in preference to the more 
pression here is larger, as in v. 19, natural "after the order of Aaron," 
"the Law made nothing perfect": in order to emphasize the difference 
it brought to light defects, awoke of Tribe to which he is about to 
desires, suggested adjustment; but call attention, 
the fulfilments were typical, partial, under it. The Greek is more ex- 
temporary, pressive, "upon it": the legislation 

Levitical. Westcott notices that rests upon it as a building upon its 

the adjective is not found elsewhere foundation. 

vii. 11-28] 



another. It should be noticed 
that here, and again in v. 15, the 
Greek word translated "another" 
is the word which means not "a 
second" but "a different" one. 

12, 13. For. ..For. There are 
two steps in the argument. He 
proves first that the words of the 
Psalm imply a radical change in 
the conditions of the priesthood; 
and then that this carries with it 
the conclusion that the Law, of 
which the priesthood was a founda- 
tion, was also shewn to be temporary. 
The "For" of v. 12 justifies the re- 
lation assumed in v. 11 between the 
priesthood and the Law. The " For" 
of ». 13 justifies the statement that 
the conditions of the priesthood have 
been changed. We notice that in 
this argument the writer is speaking 
as to convinced Christians and has 
passed from the prophecy to the 
fulfilment. He assumes that Jesus 
is the promised "Priest after the 
order of Melchizedek" and then 
points out that He was of a Tribe 
which had no priestly functions 
under the Law. It is also implied, 
though not expressed in words, that 
the words "of the order of Mel- 
chizedek" had included the sense 
of "not of the tribe of Levi." 

14. hath sprung. The verb in 
the Greek has a sense of still 
living metaphor which "to spring" 
has lost in English ; and the figure 
is probably of a growing plant — 
after the prophetic image of "the 
Branch," Zech. iii. 8, Isaiah xi. 1. 
The verb is also used of the rising 
of a star or the sun, and some have 
preferred that figure here. Cp. 
Numb. xxiv. 17, Isaiah Ix. 1 and 
the "dayspring" of Luke i. 78. 

1 5. l^what we say.'] As the italics 
indicate, the subject of the sentence 
is not expressed in the Greek. A.V. 

inserts " it." It is the general truth 
(which has been suggested, but is 
not clearly stated till vv. 18, 19) that 
this prophecy of Ps. ex. really im- 
plies the supersession of the Law 
by the Gospel. 

after the likeness, i.e. in this 
second point, viz. the mode of His 
appointment. The argument is that 
in the case of the Levitical priest 
this turned upon conditions ("a 
carnal commandment") which be- 
long to this present life in the flesh, 
conditions of relationship, succes- 
sion, ceremonial purity, and the like. 
The picture of the Melchizedek 
priesthood belongs entirely to the 
eternal world. 

18, 19. It will be noticed that R.V. 
has altered and improved the sense 
by making " and a bringing in of a 
better hope" dependent (together 
with "a disannulling of a foregoing 
commandment") on "there is" in 
V. 18, and by throwing "for the 
law, &c." into a parenthesis. A.V. 
does violence to the Greek and 
confuses the thought. 

18. there is ; rather "there comes 
about." The meaning is that this 
happy revolution is implied in the 
prophecy of Ps. ex. 

commandment. It is the same 
word as in w. 16, "[carnal] command- 
ment " ; and the special command- 
ment spoken of is the same, viz. the 
commandment which constituted the 
Levitical priesthood : but it is treated 
as the equivalent to the whole system 
of sacrifice and propitiation. 

because of its weakness. Rom. 
viii. 3, "in that it was weak." It 
is interesting to compai*e the two 
passp^es, which agree in speaking 
of the weakness or inefiicacy of the 
Law, but differ characteristically in 
point of view. St Paul is concerned 
with the powerlessness of the Law to 




[VII. 11-28 

procure righteousness : the difficulty 
in the way is the weakness of the 
flesh: the Law did not bring, as 
grace did, new power to obey. The 
present writer is concerned with its 
powerlessness to provide an adequate 
Atonement and so ease the con- 
science : the difficulty in the way 
is the impossibility that material 
sacrifices should take away sin which 
was concerned with the spiritual 

19. we drain rtigh {iyy'i^oiitv). 
This is a different verb from that 
translated "draw near"; see on 
ch. iv. 16. It implies a special 
closeness of access, being used in 
Exodus distinctively of the priest- 
hood. The writer is near to the 
assertion which we shall meet in 
ch. X. of the universal priesthood 
of Christians. 

(2) " The Lord sivare" (20-22.) 

20 And inasmuch as it is not without the taking of an 

21 oath (for they indeed have been made priests without an 
oath ; but he with an oath ^by him that saith ^of him, 

The Lord sware and will not repent himself, 
Thou art a priest for ever) ; 

22 by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better 

1 Or, through 

2 Or, to 

3 Or, testament 

(2) vv. 20-22. The point is that the solemnity given by the oath 
implies that it was a better and surer covenant that was to be introduced. 

20. [it is.'] Something, represented 
in R.V. by "it is," has to be supplied, 
and this (it is evident from what 
follows) is " He has been made 

22. by so much. These words 
go in sense with "better": the 
added solemnity of God's oath is 
the measure of the greater perfec- 
tion of the Covenant which it in- 

surety. The phrase is varied in 
viii. 6, Ix. 15, xii. 24 to "mediator." 

A "mediator" of a covenant is one 
who intervenes as a third party to 
bring about the agreement. The 
phrase "surety," or guarantor, adds 
that he intervenes to the extent of 
offering security to each for the 
proper performance by the other. 

a better covenant ; the "new cove- 
nant" of Jer. xxxi. The writer is 
feeling his way to that quotation, 
just as the prophecy of Ps. ex. 
coloured his language before it 
appeared definitely in the argument. 

VII. 11-28] HEBREWS 63 

(3) "For ever" (23-25.) 

23 And they indeed have been made priests many in 
number, because that by death they are hindered from 

24 continuing: but he, because he abideth for ever, ^hath his 

25 priesthood ^unchangeable. Wherefore also he is able to 
save ^to the uttermost them that draw near unto God 
through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession 
for them. 

^ Or, hath a priesthood that doth not pass to another ^ Or, inviolable 

^ Gr. completely. 

(3) vv. 23-25, "for ever." We are looking at these words again, not 
now as referring to the conditions of appointment (with which we dealt 
under (1)) but generally to the permanent character of the pries thood- 

23. they, i.e. the Levitical priests. 25. save to the uttermost. There 

24. for ever. The writer is are no limits (so Westcott) to the 
quoting the Psalm. progi-essive (this is the force of the 

unchangeable. Marg. inviolable, present tense) salvation (the rescue 

The word is a rare one. Etymo- from all evil, and so the leading to all 

logically it might mean (and it perfection) of humanity, if men will 

possibly may have meant here) address themselves through Him to 

"that cannot pass over," i.e. in- the Father; for He is the "Priest 

transmissible. Its usual meaning for ever," He lives for ever, and the 

is the passive one, " that cannot be very purpose of His Life in Heaven 

passed over," " beyond invasion," is to be pleading for them, 
and so, metaphorically, " inviolable " 
or, more freely still, "unchangeable." 

Summing up. (26-28.) 

26 For such an high priest became us, holy, guileless, un- 
defiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than 

27 the heavens ; who needeth not daily, like those high 
priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and 
then for the sins of the people : for this he did once for 

28 all, when he offered up himself. For the law appointeth 
men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the 
oath, which was after the law, appointeth a Son, perfected 
for evermore. 

64 HEBREWS [vii. 11-28 

General Note on VII. 26-28, 

"A priest different from, and of a higher order than the Levitical 
priests — able therefore to do what they could not do." So, starting from 
the emphatic phrases of the last sentence, " save to the uttermost," " ever 
living," the writer sums up the argument of the preceding paragraph — but 
several things are added. 

1. In the words ^^ became tis," which carry us back to ch. ii. 10. It is 
the second time that this verb has been used in such a connexion. In both 
cases he is turning from legal and typical aspects to the eternal relation 
between God and man. In ii. 10 he was justifying a real Incarnation, the 
true humanity of the Christ : it " became " God ; it was what God's Nature 
demanded. And so here again he is justifying what, as before, the Jewish 
prejudices of his readers found diflBculty in accepting, the priestly work of 
the Christ. It " became us." It was what our human nature demanded. 

2. In the prominence given to the moral qualities of the ideal High 
Priest. It is perhaps in his mind that the true High Priest (see note on 
V. 26) possesses in substance the characteristics which in the Levitical High 
Priest were typically represented. 

3. In the words of v. 27, ^^tchen he offered up himself." It is the 
custom of this Epistle by single phrases dropped, as it seems, incidentally 
and not pursued, to give indication of the future course of the argument. 
There is a striking instance here. We are about to pass in ch. viii. from the 
personality of the ideal High Priest to 'Ris functions; and the first question 
will be, "What sacrifices has He to ofier ?" That will be answered eventually 
(see ch. ix. 12, 14, 25, 28, x. 10) by the full setting forth of the Sacrifice of 
the Cross; but that answer is anticipated here in the words "when he 
offered up himself." 

4. In the contrast of v. 28 ; where we seem to have an echo of ch. v. 5, 6, 
i.e. to be setting side by side the prophecy of Ps. ex., which has just been 
expoimded, and the prophecy of Ps. ii., " Thou art my Son." It is the final 
justification of the supreme place assigned to the " Priest after the order of 

26. For. The writer is summing interest that the three Greek words 
up the whole argument. That "such chosen are words which may gene- 
a High Priest became us" is the rally be said to belong specially to 
final justification of the whole pic- the three Books for which the writer 
ture which he has presented of the of this Epistle shews particular fond- 
Greater High Priest. ness, the Psalter, the Proverbs, and 

holy, guileless, undefiled. The the Book of Wisdom, 

three words indicate His perfection separated from sinners. There is 

severally as towards God (it is the perhaps a tacit comparison between 

word [oo-toy] which means holy in the Levitical High Priests, who in 

character, as contrasted with iiyioi, figure were set apart from the 

holy in the sense of consecration to general order of sinful men and 

holy use), towards men, towards raised to a level above them, yet 

Himself. It has been noted as oi who were still really "compassed 

VII. 11-28] 



with infirmity" (ch. v. 2), and the Son 
who was "perfected," i.e. completely 
fitted, not in figrire only, for His 
office. DuBose {High Priesthood 
and Sacrifice, p. 79) comments on the 
expression, noting that the word is 
in the perfect passive participle, 
and "signifies, not separate by nature, 
but separated," "self-separated and 
God-separated" ; "the whole stress of 
the Epistle is not so much on what 
our Lord is, as upon the distinctly 
human — and yet not at all on that 
account the less divine — act and 
process by which He became what 
He is." 

made higher than the heavens. 
See note on iv. 14. 

27. daily. It is asked, why 
"daily," seeing that the typical 
sacrifice off"ered by the High Priest 
for his own sins was only "once in 
the year" (ix. 7)? It is answered 

(1) that the words, in the Greek 
even more evidently than in the 
English, are ordered so that "daily" 
is made to belong to "needeth" 
rather than to "offer sacrifices"; 

(2) that the sacrifice is needed as 
a condition of e0"ective intercession, 
and that it has been expressly said 
that the ideal High Priest ofl"ers 
His intercession (not once a year, 
which was part of the typical ordi- 
nance, but) perpetually. The need 
therefore, if it existed at all, would 
be a perpetual need. 

At the same time, when we re- 
member that the image of the High 
Priest, though the part which it 
plays is so important, passes (as 
the Epistle goes on) into the more 
general figures of the whole sacri- 
ficial system (see ch. x. 11, "every 
priest standeth day by day minis- 
tering, &c."), it is difficult to deny 
that the expression may be coloured 
unconsciously by the thought of the 

daily sacrifice, even though that was 
not ofl'ered by the High Priest and 
contained no special recognition of 
the sins of the priest who ofl'ered it. 
this he did. Grammatically "this" 
should cover the sacrifice "for his 
own sins" as well as that "for the 
sins of the people." Is there any valid 
reason why we should do violence 
to the grammar, and make it apply 
only to the second clause? The 
writer is careful in any case to make 
it clear beyond misconception that 
in the case of the ideal High Priest 
there is not in fact any personal sin 
to be atoned for (iv. 15, vii. 26). On 
the other hand the natural conclu- 
sion from the unqualified statement 
of ch. v. 3 is that there is something 
in the case ot the perfect High 
Priest which answers, as antitype 
answers to type, to the requirement 
of the human and typical High Priest 
that he should "as for the people, 
so also for himself ©O'er for sins." 
The reconciliation is not worked out 
in the Epistle. We are dealing with 
figures, and figures of eternal things. 
But the direction which any solution 
would take seems to be indicated in 
the quotation from Ps. xl. (in ch. x.), 
which is intended to be the last 
word in the whole matter, and which 
throws so much light on the sacri- 
ficial language of the Epistle. There 
was no sacrifice for "his own sins," 
in the literal, human sense ; for there 
could be no such sin to atone for. 
But there had been real temptation, 
a real mutual confronting of the 
human and divine will ("not my 
will but thine be done"); and so, 
though there was no sin, there was 
what answered to the typical sacri- 
fice of the Levitical High Priest 
for "his own sins" in the eternal 
sacrifice by the Divine Son ot His 
own will: "Lo I come to do thy 

56 HEBREWS [vii. 11-28 

will..." "He taketh away the first, human priests who "have infir- 

that he may establish the second." mity," but it is the word which 

28. a Son. See on ch. i. 2. sums up the contrast upon which 

perfected. Cp. ii. 10, v. 9. A.V. we have been dwelling. In every 

translates here "consecrated," and point of personality, of character, 

the verb admits that sense, derived of position. His qualifications were 

from the simpler meaning of " fully perfect, while they were "compassed 

qualified for the purpose." But with infirmity," His qualifications 

here it is more general. It is in were the substance, theirs only the 

particular comparison with the types and shadows. 

Introductory Note to ch. VIII. 

In ch. viii. (as usually in the Epistle, without formal transition) we opeu 
a new section of the argument. We are dealing still with the comparison, 
begun in iv. 14, of the Christ to Aaron. He is the "High Priest of our 
confession" (iii. 1), and the "gi-eat High Priest (iv. 14), of an "order" 
indefinitely higher than that of the Levitical high priests. Up to this 
point the comparison which was to make good those assertions has turned 
on the mode and conditions of appointment, the relation to God and to 
men, the moral characteristics really inherent or typically represented in 
the High Priest. We are now to pass from his personality to \\\s, functions. 
These have been in general terms assumed from the beginning of the 
Epistle, as in i. 3, " when he had made purification of sins," ii. 17, " to make 
propitiation for the sins of the people." There has been throughout a 
reference (it is at the bottom of the tacit substitution [see on v. 10] 
of "High Priest" for "Priest" in the quotation from Ps. ex.) to the special 
function of the Levitical High Priest on the Day of Atonement. But 
there have been also from time to time expressions which have pointed to 
the writer's full purpose to exhibit the Person and Work of Christ as 
fulfilling in the spiritual sphere, and therefore as replacing, the whole 
priestly and sacrificial system of the Law. This is what is now to be made 
good. The writer approaches it therefore in two stages. Before proceeding 
in ch. ix. to deal with it in detail, he seeks to put in a form which would 
least shock and perplex his readers two principles, which are evidently 
involved in his teaching, and which in themselves would rouse the strongest 
opposition. His method is the same as in the preceding section. Just as 
there he had thrown his argument on the Personality of the divine High 
Priest into the form of a comment or a prophecy traced to the mouth 
of David, and drawing its figure from the story of Abraham, so now he 
commends what he has to say of the Heavenly Tabernacle and the Better 
Covenant by putting them in the words and under the authority of a 
passage from the history of Moses, and a central prophecy of Jeremiah. 

VIII. 1-6] HEBREWS 57 

VIII. 1-6. Functions of the Greater High Priest. 

VIII. 1 ^Now ^in the things which we are saying the chief 
point is this : We have such a high priest, who sat down 
on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the 

2 heavens, a minister of the ^sanctuary, and of the true 

3 tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every 
high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices : 
wherefore it is necessary that this high priest also have 

4 somewhat to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would 
not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the 

5 gifts according to the law ; who serve that which is at. 
copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses 
is warned of God when he is about to *make the tabernacle : 
for. See, saith he, that thou make all things according to 

6 the pattern that was shewed thee in the mount. But now 
hath he obtained a ministry the more excellent, by how 
much also he is the mediator of a better ^covenant, which 
hath been enacted upon better promises. 

^ Or, Now to sum up what we are saying: ive have, d-c. ^ Gr. upon. 

3 Or, holy things * Or, complete ^ Or, testament 

VIII. I. Now... [is this]. More viz. to the question of the functions 

literally and better ("is this" is not in of the ideal Priest. 

theGreek),"Butasacrown(i.e.toput who sat down, <&c. The expres- 

a crown) upon what we are saying — ." sion "on the right hand of the.,. 

The translation "sum" (A.V. and Majesty in the heavens " is intended 

margin of R.V.) would require a (as Westcott suggests) to take us 

genitive case, " of the things, &c." back to ch. i. 3. " The writer is at 

instead of the preposition and dative length able to repeat, after gaining 

case, " upon the things, &c." The a full view of the significance of the 

sense also requires a phrase which statement, what he said at the be- 

looks forward instead of back. The ginning." 

writer starts, no doubt, from the the sanctuary, lit. "the Holy 

point which he has attained, " such [Place]." It is used (as in ch. ix. 8, 

a high priest," i.e. such as he has 12, 24, x. 19, xiii. 11) for what is 

described; but the weight of the called in ix. 3 "the Holy of Hohes," 

sentence is in its last clause, "a in Exod. xxvi. 34 "the most holy 

minister, &c." He is not going to place." The epithet " true " belongs 

sum up again what has been already to the sanctuary, which is part of 

said but is passing to a new depart- the tabernacle, as well as to the 

ment of the argument, which he tabernacle as a whole, 

feels to be of capital importance, true; as opposed to "copies and 



[viii. 1-6 

shadows" («>. 5 and see ix. 24). It is 
a word characteristic of, though not 
confined to, St John's Gospel, "the 
true light," i. 9, "the true vine," xv. 1. 
which the Lord pitched. As it is 
put in ix. 11, the "tabernacle not 
made with hands." " Pitched" is the 
word used (as in Exod. xxxiii. 7) 
of the erection by Moses of the 
Tabernacle in the wilderness. "The 
Lord" is used in the O.T. sense of 
the phrase. 

3. someichat to offer. What is 
He to oflfer? The Epistle itself 
(ch. ix. 25) answers "Himself." It 
should be noted (as a point which 
translation cannot reproduce) that 
the verb in the Greek is not in the 
present tense, but in the aorist; 
i.e. it represents a single and com- 
plete, not a continuing or recurrent 
act. The bearing of this is made 
clear in ix. 25, 26, where it is argued 
that this ofi"ering of Christ is not to 
be viewed as something repeated; 
otherwise His siiffering must have 
been repeated. 

4, 5. The argument is "He is a 
High Piiest: but if so. He must 
have some function of sacrifice. You 
say, "Where ? Not on eai-th, even if 
He were here : for the place is occu- 
pied. The Levitical priests offer 
in the earthly tabernacle. But the 
earthly tabernacle is not the only 
one. It is (so the history of Moses 
himself told us) itself only a copy — a 
copy of something heavenly, spiritual. 
It is in that heavenly sanctuary that 
our High Priest serves; and His 

ministry therefore is not a less but 
a more excellent one." 

5. Moses is warned. Exod. xxv. 
40, xxvi. 30, xxvii. 8, Numb. viii. 4. 
It is a point of the tradition which 
is recalled in St Stephen's speech. 
Acts vii. 44. It will be noticed that 
the words "o/ God" are printed in 
itahcs (as in xi. 7) as being an 
addition to the original. The truth 
is that, though they are not actually 
present in the Greek, the verb is 
used by itself of supernatural com- 
munications, as by oracles, dreams, 
&c. See Matt. ii. 12, &c. 

is warned. The tense in the Greek 
is perfect, "hath been warned," i.e. 
"we read in Scripture of his being 
warned " : see on ch. vii. 6. 

6. This verse, in putting the "new 
covenant" by the side of the heavenly 
"ministry," takes us back to the 
double aspect of the Christ as set 
forth ch. iii. 1, "the Apostle and 
High Priest," the Moses as well as 
the Aaron "of our confession." 
Moses is not actually named, but 
the "Mediator" (that is, of the 
Covenant) was a recognized Jewish 
title for him (see Lightfoot on Gal. 
iii. 19), and there is an implied 
reference to him also here as the 

enacted. The verb (used before 
in vii. 11) means "to legislate." The 
word here implies that the new 
Covenant, like the old one, is em- 
bodied in a scheme of law. In 
other words, Christ is the Law-giver 
as well as the Mediator. 

VIII. 7-13] HEBREWS 69 

VIII. 7-13. The New Covenant. 

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then would 

8 no place have been sought for a second. For, finding 
fault with them, he saith, 

Behold the days come, saith the Lord, 
That I will ^make a new ^covenant with the house 
of Israel and with the house of Judah ; 

9 Not according to the ^ covenant that I made with their 

In the day when I took them by the hand to lead 

them forth out of the land of Egypt; 
For they continued not in my covenant. 
And I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 

10 For this is the ^covenant that ^I will make with the 

house of Israel 
After those days, saith the Lord; 
I will put my laws into their mind. 
And on their heart also will I write them; 
And I will be to them a God, 
And they shall be my people: 

11 And they shall not teach every man his fellow-citizen, 
And every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord : 
For all shall know me. 

From the least to the greatest of them. 

12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities, 
And their sins will I remember no more. 

13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first 
old. But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged is 
nigh unto vanishing away. 

1 Gr. accomplish. 2 Qr, testament. ^ Gr. I will covenant. 

General Note on VIII. 7-13. 

The value of the prophecy for the wTiter's purpose lies not only in the 
promise but also in the picture given of the new Covenant. It spoke of a 
more effeetual reconciliation, of a law written on the heart, of sin forgiven 
and forgotten. Since, then, this was what the older Revelation had led 
men to look for, the way was open to explain that the new Revelation ful- 
filled those anticipations. 



[viii. 7-13 

The name of Jeremiah is not mentioned: but this is the wTiter's practice 
with quotation. On the other hand, to those who were familiar with the words 
there was a special approjiriateness both in the prophet and in the prophecy. 
They were the words of the sad seer and patriot whose personal misfortunes 
were recognized as giving him a j)eculiar power of sympathy ; to whom in 
days of trouble the thoughts of his nation went back, as they had done in the 
time of the Maccabees (2 Mace. xv. 14, "this is the lover of the brethren, 
who prayeth much for the people and for the holy city, to wit, Jeremias the 
prophet of God." Cp. Matt. xvi. 14). The prophecy is the great, con- 
fessedly Messianic, prophecy of Jer. xxx.-xxxiii. given as the comfort of 
the people in a time of distress and dissolution very like to that through 
which the Hebrew Christians were passing. 

7. would no place ham been 
sought, i.e. words would not have 
been used in Holy Scripture pointing 
out the room for a new Coveuant. 

8. finding fault. The phrase is 
chosen to coirespond with the 
preceding "faultless." It is more 
emphatic in the Greek, being placed 
first in the sentence: "for fault he 
is finding. . .when he says." The cor- 
respondence is not verbally exact, 
for "with them" must mean "with 
the people," whereas it was the 
Covenant which, it was said, should 
have been faultless. But the two 
faults cannot be separated. If the 
Covenant had been eflfectual there 
would not have been the defects in 
the people which caused the need 
of a new Covenant. 

he. See note on ch. ii. 5 : but 
here the Person is evident from the 
following verse, "saith the Lord." 
The prophecy is from Jer. xxxi. 31 f. 

/ will make. As is noticed in the 
margin the literal translation is "I 
will accomplish." It is not the word 
in the LXX, which has here the 
simpler word used in v. 10 ; but it 
is a word used elsewhere by the 
prophet in such a connexion, and 

the sense that he was speaking of a 
final and effective covenant brought 
it to the writer's mind here. 

a new covenant. There are two 
words in Greek which are trans- 
lated by "new" — one that means 
" new in kind," the other that means 
only "new in time," "recent." The 
first is the one used here. Cp. 
V. 13 and ch. ix. 15. The second, 
which is equally applicable but does 
not convey as full a sense, occurs in 
this connexion in xii. 24. 

9. took them by the hand. See 
on ch. ii. 16. 

And I regarded them, not. These 
words follow the LXX. The Hebrew 
text had " although I was a husband 
unto them." 

13. is becoming old and waxeth 
aged. The two phrases describe 
severally the process of (1) becoming, 
in fashion and estimation, a thing of 
the past, (2) feeling internally (as 
the human frame feels) the touch 
of old age. The writer claims 
Jeremiah not only as a prophet of 
the future supersession of the Mosaic 
Coveuant, but as a witness that it 
was already in his own time shewing 
signs of decay and dissolution. 

IX. 1-10] HEBREWS 61 

Introductory Note to ch. IX. and X. 1-18. 

The way has now been prepared by the two appeals to accepted 
principles of the Old Testament Scriptures, to the record of Moses that 
the Tabernacle and its ordinances were never meant to be more than 
" copies and shadows " of far more august things in the heavenly sphere ; 
and to the prophecy of Jeremiah which spoke of a new and better covenant 
which should lead to a real redemption from sin. The time has come 
therefore when the writer feels himself ready to advance to the assertion, 
to which everything has been leading, of the entire supersession of the 
Levitical system. He begins by allowing to the full the beauty and historic 
dignity of the Mosaic ritual, the apparently rich provision made in it for 
reconciliation and access to God. But he points out also that in its very 
structure the Tabernacle had taught from the beginning the imperfect 
nature of that access : it was periodical, representative, typical. And so the 
sacrifices are painted as bearing on their face, in their constant repetition, 
proof of their ineffectiveness : for if they were effective, " would they not 
have ceased to be offered ? " We notice that though the symbolism of the 
Day of Atonement still colours much of the phraseology, it is made clear 
(see ix. 9, 10, 13, 22, x. 11) that it is not a single point in the ritual, but the 
whole sacrificial scheme that is in issue. We notice also that there comes 
at times into the language a tone almost of bitterness : " things to eat and 
to drink and different kinds of washing... ordinances of the flesh" (ix. 10), 
"impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin" 
(x. 4, 11). We notice also that as the argument ends the writer falls back 
on his old method, and rests the justification of his strongest assertions on 
principles drawn from the older Scriptures, from Ps. xL, Ps. ex., and 
Jer. xxxi. 

IX. 1-10. Ritual of the Old Covenant — 


IX. 1 Now even the first covenant had ordinances of divine 

2 service, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world. For 
there was a tabernacle prepared, the first, wherein ^were 
the candlestick, and the table, and ^the shewbread ; which 

3 is called the Holy place. And after the second veil, the 

4 tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies ; having a 
golden ^censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round 
about with gold, wherein ^was a golden pot holding the 
manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of 

5 the covenant ; and above it cherubim of glory over- 
shadowing ^the mercy-seat ; of which things we cannot 

6 now speak severally. Now these things having been thus 



[IX. 1-10 

prepared, the priests go in continually into the first 

7 tabernacle, accomplishing the services ; but into the 
second the high priest alone, once in the year, not 
without blood, which he offereth for himself, and for 

8 the *^ errors of the people ; the Holy Ghost this signifying, 
that the way into the holy place hath not yet been made 
manifest, while as the first tabernacle is yet standing ; 

9 which is a parable for the time now present ; according 
to which are ofiered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot, 
as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect, 

10 being only (with meats and drinks and divers washings) 
carnal ordinances imposed until a time of reformation. 

^ Or, are 

3 Or, altar of incense 

^ Gr. the propitiatory. 

2 Gr. the setting forth of the loaves. 

4 Or, is 

8 Gr. ignorances. 

IX. 1. even the first covenant. 
"I allow that even under the first 
covenant there was ritual provision 
of a kind, but — ." The answering 
" but " which, in the Greek, the par- 
ticles and the order of the words 
pi'esuppose, is to be found in sub- 
stance in V. 6, which is equivalent to 
"the provision was inadequate and 
only typical." We may notice the 
increase in boldness in the writer's 
expressions since ch. iv. 2. There it 
is, " We have good tidings brought to 
us, as well as they." Here it is, 
"Even under the old dispensation 
there was provision for atonement.'' 
As will be seen by the italics, the 
substantive to " first " has to be sup- 
plied. There is no doubt that our 
Versions rightly supply it by 
"covenant"; but some early editors 
inserted in the text " tabernacle." 

its sanctuary; its holy place, no 
distinction being drawn in the ex- 
pression between the so-called Holy 
Place and the Holy of Holies. 

a sanctuary of this world. The 
translation of the words represented 

by this phrase is encompassed with 

(1) Supposing the word (ko(tiiik6v) 
which is rendered "of this world" to 
be an adjective and an epithet of 
"sanctuary," its sense is doubtful. It 
is usually taken, as in the text, to be 
the adjectivefrom K6crfios,mthe sense 
of " the world " (that is, in this place, 
the physical creation). It is then a 
depreciatory word : " there was the 
sanctuai'y, but it was a material 
one," i.e. as opposed to the spiritual 
Tabernacle, " not of this creation," of 
V. 11. But it must be confessed that 
this is not the kind of epithet which 
at the moment we expect. The 
writer's aim in the first instance is 
to grant all that can be gi'anted of 
the first Tabernacle. He dwells on 
its manifold arrangements, its pre- 
cious and costly contents. That this 
character should be summed up in a 
single epithet seems natural. And 
there is a sense of the word Koafii' 
Kos which suits the purpose well. 
It is a rare word, but amongst its 
few appearances it is found in 

IX. 1-10] 



Josephus {Bell. Jud. iv. § 5. 2) as an 
epithet of the Temple worship, and 
there it is evidently the adjective of 
Ko'cr/Ltof, in its sense of "order" or 
" beauty " : the worship was "beauti- 
fully ordered." 

(2) This is just the sense needed 
here, but meanwhile a serious diffi- 
culty lies in the construction of the 
words, a difficulty which cannot be 
said as yet to be solved. As was 
pointed out 100 years ago by Bp 
Middleton {On the Greek Article, 
p. 413), any rendering which makes 
Koa-fiiKov an epithet and ayiov a 
substantive, standing in the order 
in which they do in the sentence, 
is in apparent violation of a well- 
established rule of Greek syntax. 

The choice seems to lie between 
two courses. 

( 1 ) To face this difficulty and sup- 
pose (though the parallels quoted 
are insufficient to establish clearly 
the construction) that the writer 
meant to make the double statement, 
that the First Covenant had a 
sanctuary, and that the sanctuary 
which it had was beautifully ordered. 
(Notice that if this is right he meant 
no doubt to attach the description 
"beautifully ordered" in sense to 
the "ordinances of di\'ine service" 
as well as to the sanctuaiy.) 

(2) To suppose some error of 
copying which cannot be fully re- 
stored, or some unknown sense of 
KoaniKov which would make it the 
substantive and ayiov the adjective, 
"the holy — ." It has been sug- 
gested that the original reading 
may have been tip ayiov Koafiov — 
"the holy beauty" or "the beauty 
of holiness " — or that Koa-ynKov itself 
may have acquired this sense : but 
there is no evidence to support this. 

2. a tabernacle. It is to be 
noticed that the writer speaks 

throughout of the Tabernacle, not 
of the Temple. He is appealing to 
his readers' knowledge of Scripture, 
not to their personal experience (see 
Introd.). His argument is that by 
the construction and arrangement 
of the Tabernacle, as contemplated 
and ordered in the Mosaic Law it- 
self, the principle was recognized 
that the ritual to which it belonged 
was provisional and typical. That 
it is the Sacred Tent of the wilder- 
ness that is in view is evident from 
the description of its contents. The 
" ark of the covenant," according to 
Jewish tradition, was lost at the 
Captivity ; but even in Solomon's 
Temple it is said definitely (1 Kings 
viii. 9) to have contained nothing 
but the Tables of the Law. The 
"pot of manna" and "Aaron's rod 
that budded " belong to the wilder- 
ness. It is said of them (Exod. xvi. 
33 and Numb. xvii. 10) that they 
were laid up " before the testimony." 
That this meant "within the ark" 
was a matter of later tradition. 

prepared. See on ch. iii. 3. The 
word covers both construction and 

the first (cp. vv. 6 and 8). The 
tabernacle, divided by a veil into 
two chambers, is spoken of as two 
tabernacles, a "first" or outer, and 
a " second " or inner. 

the candlestick. Exod. xxv. 30 f. 
The seven-branched candlestick or 
lampstand of the shape familiar to 
us from its representation on the 
Arch of Titus. In Solomon's 
Temple there were ten (1 Kings 
vii. 49). In the Herodian Temple 
there was again only one. 

the table and the shewbread. 
Exod. xxvi. 35, xl. 22, 23 ; Lev. xxiv. 

Holy place... Holy of holies. For 
the distinction see Exod. xxvi. 33. 



[IX. 1-10 

3. the second veil. The veil 
spoken of in Exod. xxvi. 31-33 ; in 
contrast with the outer veil at the 
entrance of the Holy place, which is 
referred to in v. 6, and is that of v. 36 
of the same chapter. 

4. censer (or, altar of incense). 
The Greek word has both senses. 
In classical Greek it means censer ; 
and this usage is found in the O.T. 
in the only two places (2 Chron. 
xxvi. 19, Ezek. viii. 11) where the 
word is used, the common word for 
" censer " being a diflFerent one. In 
writers contemporary with this 
Epistle (Philo and Josephus) it is 
the title for the altar of incense. 
Neither rendering in this place is 
free from considerable difficulty. If 
we take it to mean censer, i.e. the 
censer in which incense was to be 
carried into the Holy of Holies on 
the Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi. 
12, there is no mention there nor 
elsewhere of this having been of 
gold), it is hard to understand why, 
in this otherwise full account of the 
furniture of the two holy places, the 
altar of incense, familiar in the use 
of the later Temple (see Luke i. 8 f.) 
and prominent in the descriptions of 
Exodus, is silently omitted. If we 
take it for the altar of incense, we 
are met with what is at first sight 
the greater difficulty, that the wiiter 
seems to place it within the Holy of 
Holies, whereas the direct state- 
ments of Exod. XXX. 6, confirmed 
by the use made of the altar in 
the daily service, assign its place 
unmistakeably outside the "second 
veil." A. mistake in such a matter is 
incredible. And it is scarcely more 
satisfactory to suppose (Hastings' 
Diet. s.v. Tabernacle) that the writer 
is following an independent tradi- 
tion. He evidently keeps close to 
the text of Exodus. It seems how- 

ever possible (and it is open to the 
fewest objections) to explain "hav- 
ing" not of local inclusion, but of 
close connexion in idea and use. 
This is indeed the only way in which 
the censer itself was related to the 
Holy of Holies. It cannot have 
been kept within it. There is a 
very similar expression used of the 
altar of incense in 1 Kings vi. 22 
(R.V.), "the altar that belonged to 
the oracle," the " oracle " (as is made 
clear in the following verse) meaning 
the Holy of Holies. The altar of 
incense is spoken of as " before the 
mercy-seat," Exod. xxx. 6, xl. 6. It 
was intimately connected both in its 
daily use with the general symbolism 
of the Holy of Holies, and specially 
with the ceremonies of the Day of 
Atonement {ibid. v. 10). 

the ark of the covenant. The 
common title in the O.T, It was 
the equivalent of the "ark of the 
testimony," and both titles referred 
to the fact that traditionally and in 
idea it contained the Tables of the 

5. cherubim of glory. See Exod. 
XXV. 18-22. "Cherubim which ex- 
press, localize, God's manifested 
glory." The nearest parallel for the 
phrase is " the throne of his glory," 
Matt. XXV. 31. God's Presence was 
thought of as localized above the 
mercy-seat, "between the Cheru- 
bim," Exod. XXV. 22 ; Ps. Ixxx. 1. 

the mercy-seat (Gr. propitiatory, 
marg.) : the plate or lid of gold which 
lay over the Ark of the Covenant, 
and which was sprinkled with the 
blood on the Day of Atonement. Its 
Hebrew name was " Capporeth," and 
this was rendered by the LXX in 
Exod. XXV. 17 by two words (JkaaTrj- 
piov iirlBffia), the substantive mean- 
ing "a cover," and the adjective 
"belonging to propitiation." It is 

IX. 1-10] 



a disputed question whether the 
idea of propitiation belonged pro- 
perly to the Hebrew name as " some- 
thing that covers or puts out of 
sight," or was added by the Greek 
translators as indicating the use of 
the "cover." In practice, in the 
Greek, the substantive was generally 
dropped, and the adjective stood 
alone for "the insti'ument (or, the 
place) of propitiation." Our trans- 
lation, "mercy-seat," comes from 
Luthei-'s rendering " Gnadenstuhl," 
which, again, is an interpretation 
rather than a literal translation, and 
had in view such expressions as 
"the throne of grace" in this Epistle 
(iv. 16). 

of tchich things we cannot now 
speak severally. The words suggest 
that more might be said, in the 
direction which he has indicated, of 
the preciousness of the contents of 
the Holy of Holies (all that was costly 
— this is the point of the repeated 
" of gold " — all that was august and 
sacred). " But," he continues, " rich 
as all this was in promise, how small 
was the access allowed to it ! " 

6. prepared. The word takes 
us back to v. 2. We pass from the 
arrangements of the "sanctuary," 
there named, to the " ordinances of 
divine service," i.e. to the use made 
of the sanctuary. 

go. The present tense in this and 
the following verses is not of what 
happens at the moment of writing, 
but of what happens according to 
Scripture : the priests " are to go." 
These tenses therefore do not by 
themselves prove that the Temple 
worship was still going on (see 
Introd. III. § 4). 

the services; i.e. the services or- 
dained according to v. 1 and belong- 
ing to the Holy Place — the dressing 
of the lamps (Exod. xxvii. 21), the 

offering of incense (Exod. xxx. 7), 
the changing of the shewbread (Lev. 
xxiv. 8). 

7. errors. Gr. ignorances (marg.). 
The literal rendering should be 
kept as in ch. v. 2, "the ignorant 
(the word used here), and erring" 
(another word). So in our Litany, 
"sins, negligences and ignorances." 

8. the Holy Ghost. " There is a 
divine meaning" (Westcott) in the 
ritual as well as in the words of the 

way into theholy place. This is the 
word translated in ch. viii. 2 " sanc- 
tuary," i.e. the Holy of Holies ; and 
the whole expression is equivalent 
to that of X. 19, 20, "to enter into 
the holy place... the way which he 
dedicated for us, &c." 

first tabernacle. The words must 
have the same sense as in vv. 2 and 
6, viz. the first, or outer, chamber of 
the Tabernacle. 

is yet standing. The Greek is 
more emphatic, " has yet standing," 
i.e. standingroom, place and purpose. 

9. which [is'\ a parable. The 
question is raised whether the ante- 
cedent to " which " is to be found in 
" the first tabernacle," or in " stand- 
ing," or in the whole clause, " which 
thing," i.e. the fact that the first 
tabernacle was yet standing. The 
last is the simplest, and the Greek, 
though not requiring, amply admits 
it. The existence of the outer 
tabernacle, so fenced and differenced 
from the inner one in which God's 
Presence was localized, was a 

\is...noui^ As will be seen from 
the italics in the text, these words do 
not stand in the Greek. In A.V. the 
words supplied are "was" and "then." 
This made no difference in the sense. 
The Revisers desired only to mark 
more clearly the unilormity of tense 



[IX. 11-14 

throughout (see on r. 6, "go"). "The 
time present" in either case is the 
time of the Jemsh Dispensation 
("these days" of ch. i. 2) as con- 
trasted with the "time of reforma- 
tion" of the following verse (the 
"age to come" of ch. vi. 5, the 
" days that come " of viii. 8), that is, 
with the Messianic Dispensation. 

according to which. The ante- 
cedent is " parable." The parable of 
the divided Tabernacle, with its veil 
still hanging, is worked out in an 
analogous system of imperfect, typi- 
cal, "gifts and sacrifices." 

10. with meats, &c. "With" 
here means "resting upon," "con- 
ditioned by." For the "meats and 
drinks" see Col. ii. 16 ; Rom. xiv. 17. 
The rules of the Law had been ex- 
tended in Jewish tradition : see 
Lightfoot on Col. l.c. See also 
Introd. III. § 5. 

divers washings. See Mark vii. 4. 

carnal ordinances. We are taken 
back by the woi-d "ordinances" to 

». 1. As vv. 6-8 had shewn how the 
"tabernacle" of the Old Covenant 
by its construction proclaimed its 
own failure as a real meeting-place 
of God and man, so vv. 9, 10 pro- 
claim the failure of the "ordinances 
of divine service." There is in the 
Greek a further verbal correspond- 
ence which is not reproduced in our 
translation between the "divine 
service " (ras Xarpelas) of V. 6 and the 
"worshipper" {tov XaTpcvovra) oiv. 9. 
The failure is stamped in the word 
" carnal." They were material. To 
" make the worshipper perfect," i.e. 
to do for him all that his conscience 
required to be done (see on ch. vii. 
11, "perfection"), they must be 

imposed. There is in the word 
some feeling of the " burden " of 
such rule : cp. Matt, xxiii. 4 ; Acts 
XV. 10, 28. 

a time of r^ormation, i.e. of put- 
ting things on a better footing. 

IX. 11-14. Superiority of the Christian Atonement. 

11 But Christ, having come a high priest of ^the good 
things to come, through the greater and more perfect 
tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this 

12 creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, 
but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the 

13 holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if 
the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of an heifer 
sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the 

14 cleanness of the flesh ; how much more shall the blood of 
Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself 
without blemish unto God, cleanse ^your conscience from 
dead works to serve the living God ? 

1 Some ancient authorities read the good things that are come. 

2 Many ancient authorities read our. 

IX. 11-14] 



General Note on vv. 11-14. 

As vv. 1-10 have set forth the provision for priestly access and for atone- 
ment made mider the Old Covenant, and its weakness, so vv. 11-14 set forth, 
in contrast with it, the provision made by the " more excellent ministry " 
of the New. Its superiority lies in the fact that it is immaterial. The 
Tabernacle which offers access, the Sacrifice which makes atonement, are 
spiritual ; and therefore the access and the atonement are eternal. 

11. having come, i.e. come on the 
scene, come as a new Presence and 
Power. So the verb is used of the 
appearance of John the Baptist, " In 
those days came John the Baptist," 
Matt. iii. 1. It suggests a turning- 
point in a history. 

the good things to come. The 
phrase is repeated in ch. x. 1. The 
good things of the new era which 
He came to open are contrasted 
with the "time present" of v. 9 
which had to be content with 
" parables," figures. A " high priest 
of the good things" is a High 
Priest whose ministrations win for 
the people these blessings. As the 
margin notices, there is an early 
variant for "things to come," "things 
that are come" (yevoyievav). It 
stands in the Vatican MS, and in 
several early versions, and was read 
by Chrysostom. If it were adopted, 
it would mean "good things which 
are already realized... not promised 
only and future," Westcott. 

through. See v. 12, "through the 
blood." It is difficult to give two 
different senses to the preposition 
in the two consecutive clauses, as 
though the first were local, " passing 
through," and the second causal, 
^' in virtue of," or " with the accom- 
paniment of" ; and the second sense 
is the only one which suits both 
clauses. It is however questionable 
whether "through the... tabernacle" 
should be taken directly with "en- 
tered in" rather than with the words 
^'high priest of the good things to 

come " ; His service and the blessing 
which it wins have as their sphere 
the greater Tabernacle. For the use 
of the preposition itself, "through" 
{'biaj, in both cases Westcott com- 
pares 1 John V. 6, "this is he that 
came by (Std) water and blood." He 
might have added that the preposi- 
tion is varied there (and so inter- 
preted) in the following clause (see 
margin of R.V.) by " in," just as here 
"through the blood" becomes in 
V. 25 "with (Gr. "in," iv) the 

the greater and more perfect 
tabernacle. The same as the " true 
tabernacle " of ch. viii. 2, the " pat- 
tern " of viii. 5. It is asked what this 
greater Tabernacle is. An answer 
must involve the larger question of 
the use of typical language in this 
Epistle. On the one hand it is clear 
that the correspondence between 
material type and spiritual reaUty 
must be general, not particular ; a cor- 
respondence of the ideas embodied, 
not of the form of their embodi- 
ment. All types are the shadowing 
forth of something that cannot be 
grasped. The true "Tabernacle" 
must be, as the true place of worship 
(John iv. 21), "neither in this moun- 
tain nor in Jerusalem." The teach- 
ing of the Epistle is that all types of 
approach to God's Presence, and of 
atonement, are fulfilled once and 
for all in the Person of the Incarnate 
Son. On the other hand the fulfil- 
ment is expressed itself in figurative 
language borrowed from the typical 



[IX. 11-14 

system: and these figures change. 
The language which describes 
Christ's atoning action is coloured 
with the phraseology of the Jewish 
Day of Atonement. Christ is the 
High Priest. He offers His own 
Blood. He passes "into" or 
"through the Tabernacle," "througli 
the veil." He passes "through the 
heavens" (ch. iv. 14). But the 
"heavens," if taken locally, are, as 
much as the Temple, " of this crea- 
tion." And again the figures are not 
constant. If the true Tabernacle 
is in any literal sense the " pattern " 
of the earthly one, it should have 
something to correspond to the divi- 
sion, to the "veil." The Holy of Holies 
in V. 24 of this chapter is the figure 
of Heaven itself. In iv. 14, as we 
saw, the veil seems to be the 
"heavens." In ch. x. 20 it is "his 
flesh." In X. 15-22 the Christian 
himself receives the consecration and 
has the right of access which belongs 
to the High Priest " by the Blood of 
Jesus." If then we are asked "what 
is the greater and more perfect 
Tabernacle " we can only answer that 
it is a figure, and a figure which ad- 
mits of interpretation only as part of 
a larger fig^u-e. As a whole the 
types of sanctuary, priest, and ofi"er- 
ing shadowed forth the power of 
access to God's Presence opened to 
sin-stained man by God Himself in 
the Person of His Incarnate Son. 
The earthly Tabernacle and its ritual 
typified these things in the imper- 
fection of an inchoate Revelation. 
The heavenly Tabernacle figures 
them as perfectly realized. The 
heavenly Tabernacle is not the anti- 
type, but a figm-e, borrowing its 
imagery from the type : and neither 
type nor figure will bear breaking 
up into portions as though each por- 
tion must have a distinct fact or 
existence to answer to it. 

not made with hands. See v. 24. 
It is difficult to say whether the 
imagery has its roots in sayings 
traditionally attributed to our Lord 
Himself, as in John iv. 21 and id. ii. 
19. His special image of the temple 
built without hands we know to have 
caught the attention both of friends 
(ibid. V. 22) and of enemies (Mark xiv. 

not of this creation. Not belong- 
ing to this visible frame of things — 
not material. "This," as in "this 
life," 1 Cor. xv. 19; "creation" as in 
Col. i. 15. The words have also been 
translated (as A.V.) "not of this 
building," and taken as strictly 
parallel to " which the Lord pitched 
and not man" (ch. viii. 2). 

12. goats and calves. The usual 
combination to designate sacrifices 
generally is that of ch. x. 4, "bulls 
and goats." The preference here and 
in V. 13 for "goats and calves (bul- 
locks)" means probably that the 
goats of the Day of Atonement are 
specially in the writer's mind. 

13. For if.... F». 13, 14 dwell 
on and emphasize the phrase 
"eternal redemption," a redemp- 
tion without limit of time, a re- 
demption of spirit and life. "If — 
you allow so much — the sacrifices of 
the old Law, the blood of the goats 
and calves, as on the Day of Atone- 
ment, or the sprinkling of the ashes 
of a burnt heifer in the case of cere- 
monial defilement, were accepted as 
giving ceremonial cleansing and as 
restoring to visible communion, do 
you not see the infinitely greater 
power of such a sacrifice as that of 
Christ to cleanse the moral defile- 
ment and restore the pardoned to 
the possibility of acceptable service 
to God?" 

and the ashes of an heifer. The 
reference is to the ritual described 
in Numb. xix. for the purification of 

IX. 11-14] 



those who, by touching a dead body, 
or otherwise, had contracted cere- 
monial uncleanness. The sentence 
began as if the comparison were to 
be, as before, between the Eternal 
Sacrifice and the typical sacrifices of 
the Day of Atonement, but with one 
of those turns which belong to a 
piece of oratory rather than a 
treatise, the writer passes to a 
second and more limited class of 
purificatory sacrifices. This is due 
in part to his purpose of shewing 
that it is not one rite, but the whole 
sacrificial system that is in question, 
in part to the contrast, which is al- 
ready coming into his mind, between 
the imaginary and ceremonial defile- 
ment for touching a dead body, and 
the real and moral defilement of 
" dead works." 

sanctify unto (rather, " in respect 
of"). To sanctify, or as we should 
rather say, to "consecrate," is to set 
apart for God's service. The verb is 
applied to a priestly order, or to the 
whole people, or to places and things 
dedicated to sacred uses. Here it 
means to re-consecrate — to restore, 
as by an absolution, the consecrated 
status of a member of the holy 

cleanness of the flesh ;' an external, 
ceremonial purity. "Flesh" is op- 
posed to " spirit." It is a reference 
back to the "carnal ordinances," 
ordinances of the flesh, of v. 10. Cp. 
Mark vii. 18-23. 

14. throxigh the eternal Spirit. 
The words seem to take us into un- 
fathomable depths of the Divine 
Nature; but so far as we can define 
their meaning, it is defined by the 
context. It is to be noticed that in 
the Greek phrase there is no definite 
article. It is better therefore to 
translate "an eternal Spirit." This 
does not mean that the writer does 

not speak of the Spirit of God : but 
(just as with " a Son," in ch. i. 2) the 
omission of the article makes the 
phrase descriptive rather than a 
mere designation. This is essential 
to the purpose : for (1) there in an 
intended contrast running through 
the sentence between the material 
sacrifices of dumb animals offered 
under the Law and the "spiritual, vo- 
luntary, moral " Sacrifice of Calvary. 
Swete {The Holy Spirit in the New 
Testament, p. 252) follows out still 
further in beautiful language the 
meaning of the words from this point 
of view : " The Spirit which impelled 
our Lord to offer the Great Sacrifice 
was not the spirit of this world, 
narrow, time-bound, but a larger, 
longer outlook upon the whole of life, 
the Spirit that views all things 
suh specie aeternitatis, that takes 
its standpoint in the invisible and 
eternal, not in this short existence": 
(2) there is reference back to the 
"eternal redemption" of ». 12: the 
redemption is "eternal," because 
the Spirit through Whom it was 
effected is the Spirit of the Eternal. 
The redemption belongs to the 
timeless sphere. The exact phrase 
" through the Spirit " does not occur 
in this connexion elsewhere : but the 
actions of the Incarnate Son are con- 
stantly spoken of as proceeding from 
His union with the Father through 
the Spirit. He "speaketh the words 
of God. . for He giveth not the Spirit 
by measure " (John iii. 34) ; He was 
" anointed with the Holy Ghost and 
went about doing good, for God was 
with Him" (Acts x. 38). St Paid 
associates the indwelling of the 
Spirit with the fact of Resurrec- 
tion ; in the first place our Resur- 
rection, but constructively also the 
Resurrection of Christ (Rom. viii. 11). 
without blemish : the require- 



[IX. 15 

ment in the case of all victims 
oflered under the Law, and especi- 
ally named in the case under view, 
Numb. xix. 2. St Peter makes the 
same application, 1 Pet. i. 19. 

dead works. See on ch. vi. 1, 
"repentance from dead works." The 
phrase would seem to be habitual, 
but here it is brought into con- 
nexion with the context, (1) as con- 
trasting with the service of the 
"living God," (2) as answering anti- 
typically to the eflFect of touching a 
dead body. 

to serve {Xarpevfiv) : a ritual word, 
being the same which is used in v. 9, 
where the participle is translated 
"the worshipper." The typical lan- 
guage is continued with a moral 
meaning. The eflFect of the ceremonial 
cleansing was to restore to the man 
his place in the congregation. So the 
eflFect of the cleansed conscience is 
to enable him to oflFer what St Paul 

calls (Rom. xii. 1) "reasonable ser- 
vice": cp. our Collect for 21st S. 
after Trinity, "that we may be 
cleansed from all our sins and serve 
thee with a quiet mind." 

the living God: a title frequent in 
the O.T. (see inter al. Deut. v. 26; 
Josh. iii. 10) and in tacit comparison 
with the lifeless idols. It is adopted 
in the N.T. and sometimes with the 
same contrast, as in Acts xiv. 15, 
"to turn from these vain things 
unto the living God " (so in 1 Thess. 
1. 9 and cp. in this Epistle iii. 12) ; 
sometimes with other thoughts 
which the attribute of life sug- 
gests, as eternity, or power, the 
power to reward and to punish, the 
impossibility of eluding or escap- 
ing Him (as ch. x. 31). Here the 
contrast is between "dead works" 
and the service of the Source of life, 
order, progi-ess. 

IX. 15. Need of a Death in the New Covenant. 

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of a new ^covenant, 
that a death having taken place for the redemption of the 
transgressions that were under the first ^covenant, they 
that have been called may receive the promise of the 
eternal inheritance. 

1 The Greek word here used signifies both covenant and testament. 

General Note on v. 15. 

This sentence at once completes the preceding subject, by shewing the 
link between the "more excellent ministry" and the "New Covenant"; and 
also, after the writer's manner, opens the further point of the necessity to 
this New Covenant of " a death." We may paraphrase " And because of 
this (i.e. because of the power of His sacrifice to eflFect an "eternal re- 
demption ") He has been able to bring about that New Covenant of which 
the prophet Jeremiah spoke, a New Covenant completing and rendering 
effective the Old." For the Old had failed. Its sacrifices had not taken 
away sin and therefore the promised " inheritance " had not been realized. 

There seems to be a suggestion, which would mean much to a Jewish 
Christian, that the sacrifice of Christ was retrospective in eflFect — the one 
thing waited for to give validity to all the sacrifices that had been oflFered 

IX. 16, 17] HEBREWS 71 

through the centuries, and to put the elect people in possession of the 
" eternal inheritance " promised to their forefathers, but never given save in 
type and shadow. 

The parallel is not to be looked for in 1 Pet. iii. 19, which refers to 
another class of persons (those spoken of here are the faithful sons of the 
Old Covenant, who, as we read in ch. xi. 13 and 39, "received not the 
promise"), but rather in 1 Pet. 1. 19, 20, and possibly Rev. xiii. 8 (but see 
Swete's note there). The objects of redemption are united in one category, 
for the One and Only Sacrifice is not of the sphere of time. None were born 
too soon to feel its effects, and none will be born too late. See note on 
ix. 26. 

The next paragraph will take up the words "a death having taken place" ; 
"a death — I say — for a covenant requires a death." Notice also that this 
dwelling on the necessity for a death is part of the writer's purpose to meet 
the Jewish shrinking from the idea of death as associated with the Messiah. 
See general note on ii. 5-18. 

15. they that have been called. sharers, as all Israelites were, in 
Cp. the expression in ch. iii. 1, "par- the call of Abraham, 
takers of a heavenly calling" — 

IX. 16, 17. Analogy from daily life. 

16 For where a ^testament is, there must of necessity ^be 

17 the death of him that made it. For a testament is of force 
^ where there hath been a death : *for doth it ever avail 
while he that made it liveth? 

^ The Greek word here used signifies both covenant and testament. 
^ Gr. he brought. ^ Gr. over the dead, 

* Ov,/or it doth never... liveth. 

General Note on vv. 16, 17. 

The writer justifies the association of " a death " with the " New 
Covenant" by three arguments or, rather, illustrations: (!) vv. 16, 17, from 
law and common experience ; (2) vp. 18-20, from the precedent of the Old 
Covenant ; (3) vv. 21-23, from the general analogy of the Levitical ritual. 

The first illustration (vv. 16, 17), if we may keep the translation which 
stands in the text ("where a testament is"), is perfectly clear and straight- 
foiTvard. The writer is seeking (as he seeks throughout the Epistle) to meet 
the feelings of readers who shrink from associating the Messiah, Who comes 
to renew and perfect the Covenant between God and His people, with the 
death of the Cross. He says, in effect. Think of the Covenant as, what 
it is indeed, a Testament rather than a Covenant proper — as an arrange- 
ment made in advance for securing to God's children a desired in- 
heritance. Such a "testament" does not take effect unless the testator 
himself die. The writer speaks (as St Paul says of himself in a very similar 
connexion, in Gal. iii. 15) "after the manner of men." The figure of a testa- 
ment, just as the figures, whether of a covenant or of a sacrifice, can only 

72 HEBREWS [ix. 16, 17 

hold to a certain point, cf\n only touch one side of what it illustrates : but 
so far as it goes it is unambiguous. It is the same figure that St Luke puts 
into our Lord's own mouth on the night of the Passion, " I appoint unto you 
a kingdom " (Luke xxii. 29), where the verb is the cognate verb to the sub- 
stantive used here {8iaTi6eixai) and speaks of testamentary appointment. ', 

On the whole this has been the usual way of explaining the passage, but 
it has been criticized by eminent commentators. It is therefore well to see 
some of the reasons for defending it. 

1. It has been said that the universal use of the word Biad^Kr) in the 
LXX is for "covenant" and that this is followed in the N.T., the only 
doubtful case besides the present one being Gal. iii. 15, where R.V. reads 
"covenant," but puts "or, testament" in the margin; Lightfoot defends 
" covenant," but see the valuable note in Ramsay's Galatians, § xxsiv. The 
etymological meaning of diad^Kr] is a " disposition," or arrangement ; and its 
use in secular Greek, both of the classical era and under the Empire, 
covered the two senses of " covenant," or arrangement by agreement, and 
" testament," or arrangement by will. The latter of the two is the commoner 
in extant literature : but there is the reason that there was an alternative 
word {(TvvdijKT]) for a " covenant." It is true that in Biblical Greek the word 
is very frequently used, and in the O.T. always for a "covenant" : but it must 
be added that no other word is found meaning a " will," and that there is no 
proof therefore that, if the sacred writers had wished to speak of a will, they 
would not have used the word as the classical writers used it. The use of 
the verb, already referred to, in Luke xxii. 29, looks as if they would have 
done so. So far then as the general use of the word is concerned, there seems 
to be no reason against giving it the sense of " testament," if that sense suits 
the context. 

2. Is it then forbidden by the fact that the word is undoubtedly used 
for "covenant" in other parts of this Epistle and in the general argument 
of this chapter ? In the first place it should be said that the variation in 
meaning is not as great as at first sight appears. It is made more easy 
(a) by the consciousness, which would be present to any Greek writer, of the 
neutral meaning in the first instance of SiadT^Kt) as an " appointment " or ar- 
rangement : (&) by the consciousness, evident throughout the Epistle, that 
"covenant," in the strict sense of an arrangement in which there is a 
reciprocity of benefits and engagements, was not an accurate word to de- 
scribe on both sides God's promises and commands (see note on ch. viii. 8) : 
(c) by the presence (in v. 15), immediately before this narrowing of the sense of 
biaQrjKT] seems to occur, of words which give to the "arrangement" the 
colour of a " testament," viz. " promise " and " inheritance." 

3. But the strongest reason for retaining the usual interpretation is the 
difficulty of making really satisfactory sense out of the rendering "covenant." 
With that rendering, the statements of ». 16 have to do not with the actual 
death of the covenanting person but with an imagined and represented 
death. It could not be said literally that a covenant involved for its 
validity the death of the parties to it. It is true (and this is what, in this 
view of the meaning, is referred to) that in the ancient world generally a 
covenant was made (see Psalm 1. 5) " with sacrifice." The custom was so well 

IX. 18-20] HEBREWS 73 

understood that it passed into the language of Greeks, Latins, and Hebrews 
(see Driver on Gen. xv.) alike, and a verb signifying to " cut " or to " strike " 
(" icere foedus " in Latin) was used in speaking of making a covenant. The 
current explanation of the custom was that the covenanting parties thus re- 
presented the fate which they invoked on themselves if they should violate 
the covenant. It has been indeed suggested (as by Mr Kendall) that this is 
what is meant in these verses. He renders "where a covenant is made, 
death of him that makes it must be the forfeit offered. For a covenant is 
ratified upon dead victims : for is it strong at a time when he that makes it 
lives after breaking it 1 " But this is to put great force upon the words. 
In the interpretation to which Westcott lends his great authority another 
explanation of the custom is given, viz. that the dead victims represented 
the death of the contracting parties, in the sense that they put themselves, 
as though they were dead, beyond the power of revoking their engagement. 
Even in this view it is evident that a good deal has to be read into what seem 
plain words. And it will be seen that the illustration which the writer is 
giving turns, according to this view, not on facts or habits within the 
cognizance of his readers, but on an interpretation, not the current or most 
obvious interpretation, nor one explicitly stated, of an immemorial custom. 
If this were his intention, would he not have made it more clear to his 
readers ? And is not the point of view more analytical and modern than 
that of a writer in the N.T. ? 

IX. 18-20. Analogy from the Old Covenant. 

18 Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated 

19 without blood. For when every commandment had been 
spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, 
he took the blood of the calves and goats, with water and 
scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself, 

20 and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the ^covenant 
which God commanded to you-ward. 

1 The Greek word here used signifies both covenant and testament. 

General Note on vv. 18-20. 
Tliese verses give the second argument or illustration. The Mosaic 
Covenant was dedicated with the blood of sacrifice. The general reference 
is to the description of the sacrifices at the ratification of the Covenant in 
Exod. xxiv. ; but the detail goes in several points beyond what is contained 
in that description. The "calves and goats" (see on v. 12) is possibly a 
general phrase for animal sacrifice : on this occasion Exodus names only 
bullocks. The method of sprinkling — the mixture of water, and the use of 
the bunch of hyssop tied round a stick with scarlet wool — though not men 
tioned in that place is described on another occasion, when blood was 
to be sprinkled, in Lev. xiv. 5 f. The sprinkling of the " book," though not 
named in Exodus, is a natural addition. 



[IX. 21-23 

20. This is the blood. The words 
attributed to Moses in Exodus are 
"Behold the blood." It has been 
suggested that the change is due to 
familiarity of the \\Titcr with the 
traditional form ("This is"— My 
Blood of the Covenant — or, the 
Blood of the New Covenant) of 

the words used in the institution 
of the Lord's Supper. In any case 
we can hardly doubt that both to 
writer and to readers there would be 
present the thought of the way in 
which He had linked the commemo- 
ration of His death to the sacrifices 
which inaugurated the Old Covenant. 

IX. 21-23. Analogy from the whole Mosaic ritual. 

21 Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry 

22 he sprinkled in like manner with the blood. And according 
to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with 
blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remis- 

23 sion. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the 
things in the heavens should be cleansed with these ; but 
the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than 

21. with the blood. This is be- 
yond the record in Exod. xl. 9f., 
which only mentions the sprinkling 
of the "tabernacle and all that is 
therein " with oil. But Josephus, in 
describing the same ceremony, adds 
the blood. 

22. no remission, lit. no release 
(as from debt, slavery, &c.). It is 
usually accompanied by a genitive 
of that from which the release is 
eflfected. Here it covers the guilt 
of sin and all disabling conditions of 
ceremonial uncleanness, &c. 

23. It may be asked in what 
sense the "heavenly things" can need 
cleansing. It is a question perhaps 
of which we feel the pressure more 
than the first readers of the Epistle 
would have felt it. We do not take 
figures for granted as they would. 
The expression starts from the 

earthly counterparts. The cleans- 
ing was in idea, for the conscience 
of the Avorshipper. Without the 
blood of purification his presence, 
his oflTerings, would have been an 
oflTence, a stain. When it is trans- 
ferred to the heavenly realities the 
truth of feeling remains. It is still 
a truth for the human spirit. Heaven 
without the sense of atonement 
would not be heaven — would be no 
place of untroubled memory. It 
could not welcome the sin-stained. 
The phrase suggests no new require- 
ment, no more effectual ceremony. 
It is itself only a metaphor from the 
old typical language, and its meaning 
is the same truth which is behind all 
such language. See on the whole 
matter note on the " greater and 
more perfect tabernacle," ix. 11. 

Introductory Note to vv. 24-28. 

In the five following verses (24-28) two reasons are recalled why the 
offering of Christ is (as was said in v. 23) such a " better," i.e. more effectual, 
sacrifice than the Levitical offerings, viz. : 

IX. 24-28] 



(1) that it was presented not in a sanctuary made with hands but' in the 
true Presence of God ; 

(2) that it was not and could not be repeated, like those of the Aaronic 
priesthood. It was a single and perfect sacrifice. 

IX. 24-28. Sacrifice in the spiritual and timeless 


24 For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, 
like in pattern to the true ; but into heaven itself, now to 

25 appear in the presence of God for us : nor yet that he 
should offer himself often ; as the high priest entereth into 

26 the holy place year by year with blood not his own ; else 
must he often have suffered since the foundation of the 
world : but now once at the ^end of the ages hath he been 
manifested to put away sin ^by the sacrifice of himself. 

27 And inasmuch as it is ^appointed unto men once to die and 

28 after this cometh judgement ; so Christ also, having been 
once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a 
second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, 
unto salvation. 

^ Or, consummation ^ Or, by his sacrifice 

3 Gr. laid up for. 

24. made with hands: see i\ 11 
of this chapter. 

not... like in pattern, i.e. not like 
in pattern only, in reference to ch. 
viii. 5. It is the reality, not (as the 
Mosaic Tabernacle) a "copy and 

to appear in the presence : lit. 
" to shew himself visibly to the face." 
The words in our Versions do not give, 
with the emphasis of the Greek, the 
fulness of mutual Self-manifestation, 
"face to face," as it is meant to 
contrast with anything that could 
be said of the High Priest in the 
sanctuary, in the dim light before 
the invisible Presence, and screened 
even then by the cloud of incense 
"lest he die," Lev. xvi. 13. 

25. that he should : He entered 
not in such a sense as that He should, 

offer himself : of the Sacrifice of 
the Cross. If there were to be a re- 
peated entrance of the Holy Place, 
there must be also, as there was in 
the typical system, a repeated sacri- 
fice. See on this the note at ch. viii. 

26. since the foundation of the 
world. Notice the point of view. 
The Sacrifice "once off'ered" is re- 
trospective, as well as prospective. 
Its timelessness justifies the long 
postponement as well as the non- 
repetition. It covers all sin. See 
note on ^•. 15. 

now : not temporal, but, as often, 



[IX. 24-28 

= "as things actually are." See 
amongst other places 1 Cor. xiii. 13, 
XV. 20. 

the end (or, consummation) of the 
ages. The nearest parallel is 1 Cor. 
X. 11, "the ends of the ages." It 
diflfei-s fi-om St Matthe^v's (xiii. 39, 
40, 49, xxiv. 3, xxviii. 20), " the con- 
summation of the age," in that, while 
that speaks of the completion of a 
single age or dispensation, this 
speaks of Christ's coming in the 
flesh as having been the crown of 
a series of dispensations. Cp. Eph. 
i. 10. 

to put away sin, lit. "for the dis- 
annulling (it is the same word that 
is used in vii. 18) of sin." The verb 
from which it comes is used in Gal. 
ii. 21, iii. 15 of "making void." Sin 
is viewed as, in idea, made as though 
it had not been. 

27. inasmuch as. The certainty 
of the one truth is a measure of the 
certainty of the other. As surely as 
for each one of us there are two things 
in store and no more, to die once, and 
then not to be born and die again, 
but to be judged as though the 
mortal life was complete, so surely 
Christ also died once and dies no 
more, but is to return in glory. It 
is one of the many forms in which 

the writer puts the view that the 
Sacrifice of Christ was the last act in 
the drama. Sacrifice in all its forms 
and meanings was consummated and 

28. to bear the sins of many. 
The combination of words, seeing 
that the word for "to bear" is an 
unusual one, must be taken to shew 
that the vrriter has in mind Isaiah liii. 
12. Cp. 1 Pet. ii. 24. St Peter, by 
adding the words " up to the tree " 
(R.V. marg.), gives to "bear" the 
sense of " carry, as on to an altar." 
And this may be the case here also, 

apart from sin. See on ch. iv. 15. 
The words here seem to qualify " a 
second time." They are part of the 
contrast between the first and second 
Comings. His second will be a re- 
petition of His first, save in its rela- 
tion to sin. The first appearance 
was "to put away sin." That pur- 
pose was fully accomplished and has 
not to be accomplished again. 

unto salvation. See on i. 14. It 
is one of the instances (like Rom. xiii. 
1 1) in which the N.T. writers take up 
the O.T. language with respect to 
salvation (deliverance, final righting 
of wrongs) as something to be waited 
for and surely looked to : cp. Isaiah 
XXV. 9, Ivi. 1, &c. 

Introductory Note to X. 1-18. 

The argument is nearly ended; but the wi-iter lingers over it to 
emphasize one or two points in the exposition and to give more poignant 
expression to one or two of the principles on which he builds. It is made 
clear that it is not one group of ceremonies but the whole sacrificial system 
(" the law," X. 1) that was a shadow of something better to come. The year- 
long cycle of observances carried in itself the proof of its own iuefi"ectiveness. 
In the vivid phrases of v. 3 such a cycle of sacrifices was a continually re- 
peated calling to mind (" remembrance ") of sins, not their " putting away " 
(ix. 25). It was " impossible " that the blood of bulls and goats should " take 
away " sin. AU ends with the clear statement of the abolition of the old 
Levitical system as useless to eftect its purpose. And here once more he 
finds support in the old Scripture — first {vv. 5-10) in Ps. xL, a new quotation, 

X. 1-4] HEBREWS 11 

to shew that it was part of the prophetic conception of the Messiah that He 
should set aside " sacrifice and offering " and substitute for them the sur- 
render of will ; then in two passages of which he has already made much use ; 
(1) vv. 11-14, a final quotation from Ps. ex., dwelling now on the phrase 
"sit thou," as the welcome to One Whose work was done; (2) vv. 15-18, 
in Jer. xxxi. with its final words " their sins and iniquities will I remember 
no more " and his own comment, which sums up the teaching of the 
Epistle, " where remission of these is there is no more offering for sin." 

X. 1-4. Summing up of whole argument. 

X. 1 For the law having a shadow of the good things to 
come, not the very image of the things, Hhey can never with 
the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continu- 

2 ally, make perfect them that draw nigh. Else would they 
not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, 
having been once cleansed, would have had no more con- 

3 science of sins ? But in those sacrifices there is a remem- 

4 brance made of sins year by year. For it is impossible that 
the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 

J Some ancient authorities read it can. 

X. 1. For. The writer is giving the the good things to come, recalls, 

foundation principles, at last reached, and is meant to recall, ch. ix. 1 1. See 

which are the grounds and justifica- note there, 

tion of all that he has been saying. they can never. With this reading 

shadow... very image. There is a " they " must be the same subject as 

similar antithesis in Col. ii. 17, with the following verb " they oflFer," 

"shadow...body," but the figures are i.e. the Levitical priests; and "the 

not identical. The contrast there is law having, &c.," although it is in the 

of substantiality ; there is some re- nom. case, must be taken as in abso- 

semblance to the eye between the lute construction. A. V. omits "they," 

two things, but one is fugitive, un- making "the law" the subject of 

substantial, the other solid, that can " can never." The diflference is one 

be touched. Here the contrast is in of text, R.V, translating a plural 

respect of completeness of presenta- verb {bvvavTai\ which has the best 

tion. Both things are spoken of as MS authority ; A.V. the singular 

appealing to the eye ; but one is as {bvvaTm). The broken construction 

an outline, the other as the visible is aUen to the style of the Epistle ; 

form of the thing itself. The word and most editors hold that bivavrat 

translated " image " is the one used is an error which arose from its 

in Col. i. 15 to denote the relation of neighbourhood to the plural "they 

the Divine Son to the Godhead : He oflFer." 

is the " image of the invisible God," continually. See on ch. vii. 3. 

God become visible. The stress is on the arrangement 

78 HEBREWS [x. 5-10 

of sacrifices in an unbroken yearly 3. a remembrance. Whether the 
cycle. As it is pointed out in the thought was in the writer's mind we 
introductory note to these verses, the cannot say, but, as commentators 
reference is not to the rites of the point out, there is a suggestive con- 
Day of Atonement, which were per- trast in the word between this sen- 
formed once a year (ch. ix. 7), but to tence on the sacrifices of the Old 
the whole arrangement of services Covenant, a " remembrance of sins," 
in a yearly cycle. and the words of institution in the 

make perfect. See ». 14 and ch. commemorative sacrifice of the New 

ix. 9. Covenant, " in remembrance of Me," 

that draw nigh. See onch. iv. 16. i.e. of the sacrifice which has put 

It is here " that are drawing nigh," away sin. 
who are seeking access to God. 

X. 5-10. The meaning of Psalm xl. 

5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, 

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, 
But a body didst thou prepare for me ; 

6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst 

no pleasure. 

7 Then said I, Lo, I am come 

(In the roll of the book it is written of me) 
To do thy will, O God. 

8 Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt 
offerings and sacrijices for sin thou wouldest not, neither 
hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to 

9 the law), then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. 
He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 

10 ^By which will we have been sanctified through the offering 
of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

1 Or, In 

General Note on w. 5-10. 

The words of Ps. xl. might have been quoted simply as one of the most 
pointed expressions of the sense, which colours so much of the prophetic 
Books of the O.T., that " to obey is better than sacrifice." But the writer 
treats the Psalm as though it would be recognized by his readers as having 
a special Messianic reference, and puts the words " Lo, I come (not to ofi'er 
the sacrifices of the Law, but) to do thy will" into the mouth of the Messiah 
Himself as He " cometh into the world." 

We can hardly be wrong in assigning to the quotation a special purpose 
in respect to the argument of the Epistle. It is the last of the three gi-eat 
prophetic sayings on which that argument is rested. Ps. ex. was quoted to 
shew that the Priesthood of the Law was confessedly to give way to a Priest- 

X. 5-10] 



hood of a higher order. Jer. xxxi. was quoted to shew that the Covenant 
of Sinai was to be superseded by a better Covenant. 

Of what nature wei*e the new Priesthood and the New Covenant ? They 
have been described necessarily to a great extent in figurative language 
drawn from the Levitical system. Was there danger of misunderstanding, 
of materialistic interpretation ? The third quotation is to shew that at the 
heart of the prophetic teaching was the sense thai Sacrifice itself icas a figure, 
and in any material form was to pass away ; that its whole meaning and pur- 
pose was attained in the surrender of the will : " He taketh away the first 
that He may establish the second." We cannot but think of the words with 
which, after the long discourse upon the Bread of Life, St John represents 
our Lord as warning His disciples against materialistic interpretation or de- 
duction : " It is the spirit that quickeneth," John vi. 63. 

The quotation is taken, with only imimportant exceptions literally, from 
the LXX and reproduces the curious variation found in that Version of "a 
body didst thou prepare [i.e. make fit in all its organs] for me," where the 
Hebrew has " mine ears hast thou opened." It has been explained as a 
textual corruption in an early copy of the LXX, which seems just possible, 
but the prevailing view is that it was an interpretative gloss, a purposed 
enlargement of the statement to meet the sense : the original spoke of 
" opening the ear " ; the translator added " not one avenue only by which 
mind can reach mind, but all — a human nature perfect in all its 

5. when he cometh. See note 
on ch. i. 6. 

7. Lo, I am come. The phrase 
expresses the ready and instanta- 
neous obedience. 

roll. The word means literally 
"a little head," and is supposed to 
have been applied to the knob at the 
end of the roller on which a roll of 
parchment was wound. This suits 
its use in Ezek. ii. 9, iii. 1, and in 
this place. It has been suggested 
by modern critics that Ps. xl. is of 
the date of Josiah and that the "roll 
of the Book" is the "Book of the 
Law" which Hilkiahthe High Priest 
found in the Temple, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 
14 f. 

written of me. R.V. in the Psalm 
ofifers the alternative " prescribed to 
me," as though it meant "my duty, 
my part, is prescribed in the Law." 
This gives more relevance to the 
clause than to take it of prophecy. 

8. Saying above... then hath he 
said.... There is no contrast be- 
tween "above" and "then." If there 
were, it should be "having said." 
"Then" means "at the same time," 
"while he says in the earlier part of 
the sentence... at the same time he 
says...." The writer would make it 
clear that the two utterances are 
intimately related to one another. 
The "coming to do the will" is the 
other side of the disallowance of 
material sacrifice. 

10. By{msirg.In)ichichwill. The 
literal rendering is "in," and it is less 
open to misunderstanding. It is not 
meant merely that it was God's Will 
that Christians should be sanctified 
(or, consecrated) by the off"ering of 
Christ's sacrifice; but that in the 
perfect doing of God's Will by Christ 
there was a virtue which consecrated 
His people. 

80 HEBREWS [x. 11-14 

Additional Note on v. 10. 

Though we are at the point at which our thoughts are fully directed to 
the real, spiritual facts, to the antitype, we yet do not get wholly free from 
metaphors drawn from the type : " sanctified " or " consecrated " belongs to 
the language of the Covenant, meaning "set apart as God's people," and 
the consecration needed the "offering" of sacrifice. But again the words 
" the Body of Jesus Christ " must be meant to take us back to the words 
quoted from Ps. xl., " a body didst thou prepare for me." The Sacrifice of 
which we are speaking (we are reminded again) is that offering of the 
Body — the sacrifice of Will, which was rendered possible by the Incarnation, 
and which is expressly contrasted with " sacrifices and offerings and whole 
burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin," i.e. with what the world had hitherto 
understood by sacrifice. 

It is difficult, throughout, to say how far the imagery of the Christian 
Sacraments, familiar to writer and readers, was consciously influencing 
expressions or turns of thoiight ; but it is tempting to think that, as in 
"this is the Blood of the Covenant" in ix, 20, and in the "remembrance " of 
X. 3, so here, in the "offering of the Body of Jesus Christ," there is present 
a shadow of the other words of consecration, " This is my Body which is for 

X. 11-14. Meaning of "sat down" in Ps. ex. 

11 And every Spriest indeed standeth day by day ministering 
and offering many times the same sacrifices, the which can 

12 never take away sins : but he, when he had offered one 
sacrifice for ^sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of 

13 God : from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made 

14 the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he hath 
perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 

1 Some ancient authorities read high priest. 

2 Or, sins, for ever sat down, d'c. 

General Note on vv. 11-14. 

The writer brings to bear upon the point of the singleness and eternal 
results of the Sacrifice of the true High Priest some words in the much quoted 
prophecy of Ps. ex. which have not yet received separate emphasis. The 
Priest after the order of Melchizedek was bidden to " sit " at God's right 
hand, and to sit until His enemies were made His footstool. This meant 
that His Priestly Ministration was viewed as completed. It is contrasted 
here not with the yearly service of the High Priest on the Day Oi. Atone- 
ment, but with the daily service of the Priests who stand (in the attitude 
of readiness for further service) offering the daily sacrifice. 

X. 15-18] 



11. take air ay. It is in the 
Greek a different word from that 
used in v. 4, and means literally to 
"strip off," as of a clinging garment. 
It is the word used in 2 Cor. iii. 16 of 
stripping off a veil. See note on ch. 
xii. 1, "the sin which doth so easily 
beset us." 

12. for ever (it is a more coloured 
and emphatic phrase than our " for 
ever"; rather, "for a perpetuity," 
"without break or limit"). The re- 
petition of the phrase after "hath 
perfected" in w. 14 shews that the Re- 
visers are right in their punctuation 
in the text. The effect of the offering 
was as complete and continuous as it 
was purposed to be. 

14. them tlmt are sanctified. 
This is not the Greek perfect par- 

ticiple, as in V. 10 (which is there 
rendered by " [have been] sanctified"), 
but the present. It illustrates at 
once the elasticity and the precision 
of the writer's language. To sanctify 
(or, to consecrate), as we have seen, 
is to admit men, or to restore them, 
to the full position as members of 
the consecrated people. The phrase 
here "hath perfected. ..them that are 
sanctified" corresponds as a whole 
to the tense of "we have been sancti- 
fied" in w. 10 ; but it gives a further 
aspect. It is on God^s side that the 
work is complete ; no more is needed. 
That is stated in both phrases. But 
in the latter one we see also the 
man individually seeking and ac- 
cepting the " sanctification " pra- 

X. 15-18. The New Covenant means that sacrifice 

IS ended. 

15 And the Holy Ghost also beareth witness to us : for after 
he hath said, 

16 This is the ^covenant that ^I will make with them 
After those days, saith the Lord ; 

I will put my laws on their heart, 
And upon their mind also will I write them ; 
then saith he, 

17 And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no 


18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering 
for sin. 

^ Or, testament ^ Gr. I will covenant. 

15. the Holy Ghost also : i.e. we 
have a witness in the definite state- 
ments of Holy Scripture. It illus- 
trates well the freedom of quotation 
in N.T. writers if we notice that, 
while in this second quotation of 
Jeremiah's prophecy the writer 
quotes from memory and departs 


more widely from exact verbal ac- 
curacy, this is the occasion on which 
he definitely speaks of the words as 
the words of the Holy Ghost. 

16. {then saith he.] As the italics 
indicate, these words are an interpre- 
tative insertion of R.V. (A.V. has not 
them) ; and it seems more likely that 


82 HEBREWS [x. 19-25 

the division between the dating dering unnecessary any further in- 

clause ("After he hath said, &c.") sertion. 

and the substantive statement is at 18. "By promising to forget He 

" saith the Lord," these words, al- has forgiven, and therefore no more 

though they belong to the quotation, sacrifice in plea for forgiveness is 

serving also to introduce it as from necessary." 

the writer of the Epistle, and ren- 

Here the strictly argumentative portion of the Epistle ends. The argu- 
ment has been coloured by the purpose of exhortation ; and so the hortatory 
portion which follows will add points (as the hortatory passages hitherto 
have done) to the argument. But the tone will become at once more urgent 
and more tender, and the practical risks and duties which went along with 
the spiritual conditions which we have been considering will come more 
fully into view. 

X. 19-25. The practical conclusion. 

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy 

20 place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated 
for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to 

21 say, his flesh ; and having a great priest over the house of 

22 God ; let us draw near with a true heart in ^fulness of 
faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil ^conscience, 

23 and our bodies washed with pure water : let us hold fast 
the confession of our hope that it waver not ; for he is 

24 faithful that promised : and let us consider one another 

25 to provoke unto love and good works ; not forsaking the 
assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is, 
but exhorting one another ; and so much the more as ye 
see the day drawing nigh. 

1 Or, full assurance 

2 Or, conscience: and having our bodies washed tcith pure water let us hold 
fast, <&c. 

General Note on vv. 19-25. 

In this passage the writer gathers into a sentence both the conclusions 
to which he has brought his readers, and the exhortation which he will base 
upon them. 

Vv. 19-21 sum up again the advantages secured to those who are included 
in the New Covenant, viz. real access to God and real atonement for sin. 
The framewoi-k of the paragraph is the same as that of ch. iv. 14-16, 
to which it carries us back by its repetition of many of the phrases 
("having therefore" [then] "a great [high] priest," "boldness," "draw 

X. 19-25] HEBREWS 83 

near," "our confession"). The resemblance is too great to be accidental. 
But the differences, which are equally striking, indicate how much ground 
has been gained in the interval. The expressions are fuller and more 
explicit. To take two of the phrases : (1) the Great Priest. It is the 
"great High Priest" of iv. 14, but a good deal is added : {a) The change 
from High Priest to Priest may be accidental — either expression is appro- 
priate — but it suits the new point of view, when it has been made clear that 
it is not merely the ceremonies peculiar to the High Priest, but the whole 
system of sacrificial atonement that is in question : (6) the " Blood of Jesus" 
is a phrase intelligible now, but which would have been premature in ch. iv. 
(see on the wrong insertion of the words "by himself" in ch. i. 3). We are now 
summing up the discussion of ch. ix., in which we have asked the question 
what the true High Priest " has to offer " ; and have passed in review the 
typical expiations by "blood" under the Law, the inauguration of the 
Covenant, the consecration of the Tabernacle and of the High Priest him- 
self : (c) the addition of the words "over the house of God" (». 21) reminds 
us that the High Priest of our confession is "great" not only (which was 
the point to be made good in iv. 14 f.) as the greater than Aaron, but also as 
the greater than Moses. They take us back to the words in ch. iiL 1-6, and 
we are to put into them the new meaning which has been given to them by 
the picture in the later chapters of the " Mediator of the New Covenant." 
(2) the entrance into the holy place. We notice, again, how the thought of 
the power of perpetual access to God, as typified in the yearly entrance of 
the High Priest into the Holiest, has grown in fulness during the argument. 
It was already before us on both sides in ch. iv. But nothing in the expres- 
sion went necessarily beyond the literal interpretation of the typical 
ceremony. The High Priest, though of more august Personality and in 
a higher sphere, might still be, as the Levitical High Priest was, the 
representative of the people, presenting their submission and winning a 
hearing for their prayers. In ch. vi. 20 a notable step was taken, 
though (after the writer's manner) in a single phrase, unemphasized at 
the moment and not followed up ; "within the veil, whither as our fore- 
runner Jesus entered for us " : that was a further interpretation of the 
figure ; but again it could be satisfied with the explanation that the veil is 
to be lifted, for the followers, in another life. In the present passage the 
believer is not conceived as entering only by a representative, nor only in 
another life, but himself, now and always. The power of access to God, 
typified in the Levitical ceremony, is already, " in the Blood of Jesus," fuUy 
his. This is put beyond doubt by the further expressions, new (in their 
definiteness at least) in the Epistle, which imply that the believer has him- 
self received the High-priestly consecration. That is the meaning of the 
"sprinkling" (i.e. with blood) and "washing with pure water" of v. 22, 
ceremonies which belonged to the consecration of a High Priest. 

What has been said illustrates the freedom with which the writer treats 
the typical relation between the Levitical ceremonies and the spiritual 
realities which he sees behind them. The correspondence which he insists 
on permanently is in general idea, not of detail with detail. The truths 
imaged are themselves described in figui'es, figures borrowed generally 




[X. 19-25 

from the typical "copies"; and the figures change. It is here that we 
must look for the explanation of a turn in the passage which has raised 
much question : "Through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." Westcott felt 
the difficulty of the explanatory clause so much that he would attach it, 
against the natural order of the words, not to "veil," but to "new and living 
way." Yet although the interpretation of the veil as "his flesh" is 
unexpected, it is one that we can understand, and one which suits the 
context. It suits it, hoAvever, because of the particular turn which has 
been given to the main thought. It would have been out of place earlier in 
the Epistle. The " veil," in the general figure, is what separates (and yet, in 
a sense, unites) the outer and inner Tabernacle — this world and another — 
the aspiring soul of man and the realized Presence of God. It hangs 
between them. One side of it faces one order of things, and the other 
another order. It is the thin, the only, barrier. And it can be lifted, can 
become a passage instead of a barrier. "Such a veil," says the writer in this 
place, " was Christ's human nature in its physical, mortal aspect." In it He 
came near to man : and then He rent it, passed through it into heaven. 
And His people's hearts could go with Him, could from thenceforth have in 
Him perpetual access to the Father. It is difficult to think that the writer 
had not in mind the rending of the Temple veil " from the top to the bot- 
tom" at the moment of our Lord's Death upon the Cross (Matt, xxvii. 51). 

19. Having therefore boldness. 
The relation to ch. iv. 14 seems to 
shew that "having" means here 
"seeing that we have," and there- 
fore " having boldness " means " hav- 
ing ground for boldness." " There- 
fore" sums up the whole preceding 

brethren. It is worth while to 
notice the other places in the 
Epistle in which the address is 
used, viz. ch. iii. 1 and 12, xiii. 22. 
It is an appeal of tenderness, " My 
brothers." Cp. also St Paul's use 
of the address, as in 2 Cor. xiii. 1 1, 
Gal. vi. 18. 

ly. It is the same preposition 
(literally "in") which is rendered 
in ch. ix. 25, "with [blood not his 
OAvn]." It expresses that in virtue 
of which the priest enters. 

20. dedicated. It is the same 
verb as in ch. ix. 18. It meant to 
"make new" or to "use newly," and 
so, as we say, to "open" or "in- 
augurate," as of a building (cp. the 
Feast of "Dedication " — in Greek the 

cognate word— John x. 22) or an 
undertaking. He inaugurated it by 
treading it first Himself, as the "fore- 
runner," ch. vi. 20. 

a... living way. The epithet is 
meant to remind us that even the 
" way " is a figure : it is a way for 
spirit, a way " not made with hands." 
Christ "dedicated the way"; but 
yet it is equally true that He "is 
the way," John xiv. 6. 

that is to say, his flesh. For this 
difficult phrase see what has been 
said in the general note above. 

22. a true heart. The "heart" 
in the N.T., as in ancient literature 
generally, is the centre of the pliysical 
life and, by transference, the centre 
and seat of the moral life, the aff'ec- 
tions, will, intelligence, conscience. 
A " true " heart follows the analogy 
of the use of "true" in ch. viii. 2, 
true or real as opposed to shams and 
copies. It is therefore the equiva- 
lent of the O.T. phrases, " the whole 
heart," "all the heart," "a perfect 

X. 19-25] 



fulness,or "full assurance" (marg.)- 
See on ch. vi. 11. 

our hearts sprinkled. For the 
figure cp. St Paul's " cii'cumcision 
of the heart," Rom. ii. 29. 

The primary reference is to the 
ceremonies prescribed in Exod. xxix. 
for the consecration of a High Priest. 
All God's people under the New 
Covenant are to have the consecra- 
tion and the privileges of a High 
Priest (cp. 1 Pet. ii. 9 ; Rev. i. 6). 
The sprinkling therefore is with 
the blood of sacrifice : but whereas 
the words in Exod. speak only of the 
"garments," the writer substitutes 
the more effectual sprinkling of the 
heart. But two other thoughts seem 
to be in view : (1) Of the prophecy of 
Ezekiel xxxvi. 25 f., " I will sprinkle 
clean water upon you and ye shall be 
clean... A new heart will I give you." 
(This seems to be the source of the 
"pure" water.) (2) Of Christian 
Baptism. Cp. 1 Pet. iii. 21, R.V., 
"baptism, not the putting away of 
the filth of the flesh, but the in- 
terrogation of a good conscience." 
This reference is made more clear 
by the association of the washing 
with the " confession of our hope." 

The "sprinkling" and "washing" do 
not imply two ceremonies or processes. 
They are two symbolical expressions 
which mutually explain each other: 
"our hearts sprinkled from (i.e. so as 
to free us from) an evil conscience, 
even as our body is washed with 
pure (i.e. cleansing — it is Ezekiel's 
word and to be read with St Peter's 
commentary on it) water." 

sprinkled from, the construction 
as in " washed from." Sprinkled [so 
as to be cleansed] from. 

anevil conscience = a,coxiscionsness 
of guilt. It is opposed to a "good 
conscience," ch. xiii. 18. Cp. "cleanse 
our conscience," ix. 14. 

23. hold fast the confession. 
"Confession" (cp. ch. iii. 1, iv. 14), 
as always in the N.T. (cp. 2 Cor. 
ix. 13 ; 1 Tim. vi. 12), has the sense 
of a public profession of Chris- 
tian belief The word came in 
ecclesiastical Greek to be used for 
the profession of faith in Holy 
Baptism; and that sense may be 
growing in the N.T. as appears 
especially in this place and in 
1 Tim. vi. 12. If so, the word 
links itself with the preceding 
words, which recall Baptism. In 
any case it leads directly to the 
exhortation to maintain their social 
Christian life. With the " confession 
of our hope," cp. ch. iii. 6, "the 
glorying of our hope," and see on 
vi. 11. 

that it waver not. As is clear in 
the Greek, "it" is not the "hope," 
as we should be apt to take it in the 
English, but the " confession." The 
phrase is used properly of a support 
that does not give or sway. 

he is faithful. Cp. ch. xi. 11. 

24. let us consider one another. 
See on ch. iii. 1, "consider." As 
was said there, it is i^robably not 
an accident that the same verb 
should be used in the two places, 
at the opening severally of the 
doctrinal and of the practical parts 
of the Epistle : " Set all your 
thoughts on the Apostle and High 
Priest," "Set all your thoughts on 
one another." The practical sugges- 
tion, thought worthy of a place in 
this summary beforehand of their 
duty, is that they must not foster 
their sense of weakness and misgiv- 
ing by letting their religion become 
selfish, by losing the strength of 
common action and mutual encour- 
agement. Notice that the thought 
is repeated from iii. 13, 14, "exhort 
one another, &c." The reason is 

86 HEBREWS [x. 26-31 

there given in the words " while it is the day : the day of the Lord's 

calledTo-day," "To-day," there, being coming, 1 Cor. iii. 13. It is spoken 

equivalent to the time before the ar- of generally in the N.T. as near at 

rival of what is here called "the day." hand, as James v. 8, "The coming of 

to provoke unto love : lit. " to the the Lord is at hand" ; 1 Pet. iv. 7, 

end of sharpening the edge of love." " the end of all things is at hand," 

To have others much in mind is the &c. : but the expression here is more 

way to warm the heart towards them. definite, " see the day approaching." 

For the sequence in vv. 22, 23, 24 of The words gain in impressiveness if 

faith, hope, love, see on ch. vi. 10. we think of them as describing the 

25. the assembling of ourselves feeling of those who, with sinking 

together. The writer does not say, hearts, witnessed the near approach 

but it is natural to think that it would of the destruction of Jerusalem, and 

be in his mind, that when they so as- with it of the system of worship of 

sembled themselves together it would which it was the centre. They then 

be to "break bread," and so to re- shew us the temporal background 

mind themselves of the truth of the to that picture of a dispirited and 

great Offering of which he has been despondent Church which the Epistle 

speaking and of its relation to them- generally presents, 
selves and to the Christian body. 

Introductory Note to ch. X. 26-XII. 4. 
Tlie passage from x. 26 to xii. 4 divides itself into three portions alleging 
three grounds for his exhortation, viz. : 

(1) X. 26-31, the dangers of apostasy. 

(2) x. 32-end, the memory of their own former steadfastness. 

(3) xi. and xii. 1-4, the historical glory of faith. 

X. 26-31. The dangers of apostasy. 

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the 
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice 

27 for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgement, 
and a ^fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. 

28 A man that hath set at nought Moses' law dieth without 

29 compassion on the word o/two or three witnesses : of how 
much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, 
who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath 
counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was 
sanctified, ^an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto 

30 the Spirit of grace ? For we know him that hath said. 
Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And 

31 again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing 
to fall into the hands of the living God. 

1 Or, jealousy 2 Qr. a common thing. 

X. 26-31] 



26, 27. These verses must be 
read as in sequence to v. 25. This 
is what will happen if "the day" 
comes upon them, as St Paul would 
say, "as a thief." The English ver- 
sions fail to give the force of the 
present tenses, "if we are found 
sinning," " there is not still remain- 
ing any sacrifice." Two things should 
be noticed : (1) that it is of persist- 
ent sin that the wiiter is speaking ; 
(2) that the special sin in question is 
the sin of apostasy: cp. ch. iii. 12, 13, 
where "sin" and the "falling away 
from the living God" are equivalents ; 
also 2 Pet. ii. 4, where " when they 
sinned " is the expression for the fall 
of the apostate angels. 

there remaineth no more a sacri- 
fice. Just as in respect of teaching 
in ch. vi., so here of atoning sacrifice, 
no one must think (as conceivably 
he might have done under the Levi- 
tical system) of a further, a fresh 
and more effectual sin-offering. For 
the use of " remaineth " see on ch. iv. 
6. It is to be noticed however that 
as its proper meaning is of something 
" held in reserve," as a further boon 
or opportunity, its use here in the 
second case, of the expectation of 
judgement, has a shade of irony. 

27. fierceness (marg. jealousy) of 
fire. The reading of the margin is 
the literal and the right rendering. 
A "jealousy of fire " is a jealousy 
which burns like fire. Very pro- 
bably the word {(fjXos, zeal) by ety- 
mology meant "fervour," and so 
"emotion at boiling-point"; but in 
all Greek usage it had acquired a 
moral meaning, viz. jealousy. The 
phrases here grow directly out of 
the thought of " the day," with which 
they are frequently connected in the 
prophetic wiitings, as in Zeph. i. 18, 
" the day of God's wi-ath : the whole 
land shall be devoured by the fire of 

his jealousy." But cp. also Is. xxvi, 
11, "They shall see thy zeal for this 
people... the fire shall devom- thine 
adversaries." It is to be remembered 
that the first description of God as 
"a jealous God" occurs in the 2d 
Commandment, of which the subject 
is idolatry, i.e., in the language of this 
Epistle, " apostasy." Jealousy, in its 
human sense, is the other side of a 
love which cannot bear a rival. 

28. dieth. The tenses are the 
same as in the references to the 
ceremonial law ; see on ch. ix. 6, 
"go." " Dieth " = is by the Law to 
die. The reference is to Dent. xvii. 
2-7, from which the words come 
verbally. (This seems to be the 
point of adding "under two or 
three witnesses.") It is to be noticed 
that that passage also refers not to 
ordinary offences, but to idolatry. 
The case is the same with the two 
quotations which follow (in vv. 30, 31) 
from Deut. xxxii. 35, 36. 

29. A triple characterizing of the 
offences, bringing out their impiety, 
suicidal folly, ingi-atitude. But when 
in an Apostolic writer such expres- 
sions run into a triple form we 
always expect the more or less con- 
scious reference to the threefold 
Christian Revelation ; and in this 
case we can hardly fail to find it — 
the wrong done to the Father in the 
rejection of His Son, to the Son in 
the scorn poured on the Covenant 
sealed in His own Blood, to the 
Spirit in the meeting of grace with 

trodden under foot. It is the 
word used in Matt. v. 13 of the 
" salt which has lost its savour," and 
still more pointedly, id. vii. 6, of the 
" pearls cast before swine." 

hathdone despite u7ito,i.e. "treated 
with contempt," "insulted." "De- 
spite " (shortened in modern speech 



[x. 32-39 

to "spite") comes etymologically 
from Lat. despectus. Fr. depit. 

Spirit of grace. "This title is 
unique in the N.T. but it is used by 
the prophet Zechariah in a promise 
(xii. 10) which looks forward to 
Messianic times." Swete, The Holy 
Spirit in the New Testament., p. 251. 

30. Vengeance is mine. As has 
been said above, the quotation is 
from Deut. xxxii. 35, but it is not 
verbally accurate. The words are 
quoted in Rom. xii. 19, in the same 
form as here : but it is interesting to 
notice that, as with the quotation in 
V. 38, the sense and purpose of the 
quotation are different. In both cases 
the writer of this Epistle keeps more 
nearly to the original intention of 
the words. St Paul quotes them as 
a reason why we should not revenge 
ourselves : here, as in the original, 
the stress is on the positive statement 
that God will avenge. 

the Lord shall judge his people. 
This comes from the next verse in 

Deut. (xxxii. 36). What it adds is 
that the special privilege carries 
vrith it the corresponding responsi- 
bility ; as Amos put it (iii. 2), " You 
only have I known of all the famiUes 
of the earth; therefore I will visit 
upon you all your iniquities." 

31. to fall into the hands of the 
living God. David uses the phrase 
2 Sam. xxiv. 14, "Let us now fall 
into the hand of the Lord... not into 
the hand of man," where the figure 
of the first clause is ruled by that of 
the second. That God's " vengeance " 
and "judgement" are to be preferred 
in any case to those of one less just 
and merciful is the point there, but is 
not in view here. Notice that " fear- 
ful" is repeated from v. 26. The 
writer is justifying here his use of 
the adjective in that place. 

the living God. See note on ch. ix. 
14. The epithet here speaks of God's 
power, of the impossibility of eluding 
or escaping Him. 

X. 32-39. Their former steadfastness. 

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after 
ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufier- 

33 ings ; partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches 
and afflictions ; and partly, becoming partakers with them 

34 that were so used. For ye both had compassion on them 
that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your 
possessions, knowing ^that ^ye yourselves have a better 

35 possession and an abiding one. Cast not away therefore 
your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 

36 For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of 
God, ye may receive the promise. 

37 For yet a very little while, 

He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. 

38 But ^my righteous one shall live by faith : 

And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. 

X. 32-39] 



39 But we are not *of them that shrink back unto perdition, 
but of them that have faith unto the ^saving of the soul. 

1 Or, that ye have your own selves for a better possession 

2 Some ancient authorities read ye have for yourselves a better possession. 
^ Some ancient authorities read the righteous one. 

* Gr. of shrinking back. ..but of faith. ^ Or, gaining 

General Note on vv. 32-39. 

This section relieves the sternness of the preceding paragraph with 
the same instinctive art which dictated the change of tone in ch. vi. 9. 
We notice the similarity of the topics in the two places, both in praise and 
in exhortation. What is asked for is boldness, continued patience, faith. 
What is praised is kindness and sympathy. 

32. enlightened. See on ch. vi. 4. 

33. a gazingstock; a "spectacle," 
the figure being taken from the 
spectacles of the arena: cp. 1 Cor. iv. 
9. It is completed here by the word 
"conflict," which in the original 
means a combat of athletes. 

hecoming partakers, by avowing 
sympathy, and sharing their risks 
and losses. It is pointed out that 
the participle here is in a tense (the 
aorist) which expresses a single past 
experience and refers therefore to 
some particular occasion, while the 
preceding one, " being made, &c.," is 
in the present tense, describing their 
continuous position. 

34. the^n that were in hands. Cp. 
ch. xiii. 3. It seems that at some 
recent time this commimity of He- 
brew Christians had suffered, and 
was still liable to suffer persecution, 
involving imprisonment and the 
" spoiling of goods " at the hands of 
their countrymen (cp. Acts viii. 3, ix. 
1, 2 ; 1 Thess. ii. 14 ; James ii. 6). The 
A.V., following the Received Text, 
which here has the support of the 
Sinaitic MS, has, in the place of 
"those that were in bonds" (Bea-fjiiois), 
the words "my bonds" {dea-fxols nov). 
It is a case where the theory held as 
to the authorship of the Epistle seems 

to have influenced the text. It is 
difficult to dissociate the variation 
of reading from the belief prevalent 
in the Eastern Churches that the 
Epistle proceeded from Paul "the 

knowing. It is the verb which 
means not "to know," but "to per- 
ceive," " recognize," "learn." It was 
a knowledge that grew with their 

ye yourselves. As vnll be seen 
from the margin, neither reading 
nor exact meaning is free from doubt. 
The words in A. V., " in heaven," are 
an interpretative gloss of the trans- 
lator, not a part of the true text: 
but the relation of the word "yom-- 
selves " to the sentence is uncertain. 
Some MSS (as the second marginal 
note tells us) have the dative, "for 
yourselves," a reading which avoids 
the diflaculty, but which adds nothing 
to the sense. R.V. (text and first 
marginal note) renders the accusa- 
tive. The rendering in the text, 
" that ye yourselves," breaks a usual 
rule of Greek grammar and the em- 
phatic pronoun is hard to explain. 
The thought in the marginal render- 
ng, "have your own selves for a 
better possession," is not as clearly 
or simply expressed as we should ex- 



[x. 32-39 

pect; but it is possible, and is in 
accordance with such sayings as 
Luke xxi. 19, R.V., " In your patience 
ye shall win your souls," and id. ix. 
25, R.V., " What is a man profited if 
he gain the whole world and lose or 
forfeit his own self ?" Vaughan sug- 
gests also that there is a connexion 
of thought between the expression 
here and v. 39, "unto the gaining 
(marg. and see note) of the soul." 

35. Cast not away. Westcott 
compares Mark x. 50 (the only 
other place in N.T. where the verb 
occurs), "he casting away his gar- 
ments sprang up," of an impulsive 
act : as if it were " do not hastily 
fling aAvay." 

boldness. See on ch. iii. 6. The 
meaning of "outspokenness" is more 
prominent here. It is of the cour- 
ageous avowal of sympathy and be- 
lief before God and man. 

which hath; more fully, "seeing 
that it has." 

recompense of reward: perh. in 
reference to such sayings of Matt. xix. 
29. See also ch. xi. 26, where " the 
recompense of reward " looks like a 
definite recalling of the phrase as 
used here. 

36. receive the promise. See on 
ch. xi. 39. 

37. yet a very little while. These 
words do not form part of the pro- 
phecy of Habakkuk which follows; 
but they are found in Isaiah (exactly 
in xxvi. 20 and partially in xxix. 17). 
They are recalled as a prophetic 
formula, used in such exhortations to 
patience — "yet a very little while, 
and the position which Habakkuk 
described will be realized." 

37, 38. The quotation is from 
Habakkuk ii. 3, 4, and follows almost 
verbally the LXX, with the excep- 
tion that the two clauses of v. 4 are 
inverted in order. It will be noticed, 

if the quotation is compared with 
the passage in Habakkuk (R. V.), that 
the LXX diff'ers from the Hebrew 
text in two points : (1) It has made 
the subject of " shall come " personal, 
"he that cometh," where the Heb. 
makes it " the vision." This has no 
serious efl'ect on the meaning; for 
the vision is the vision of rescue, and 
"he that cometh" is the Rescuer. 
(2) For the words rendered "his 
soul that is lifted up is not upright 
in him," the LXX substituted, on 
grounds not known to us, "if he 
shrink back my soul has no pleasure 
in him." This alteration, by making 
the two clauses refer not to the in- 
vaders and defenders (severally) of 
Zion, but to two classes among the 
defenders, made the prophet's call 
appropriate on both sides to the 
present writer's purpose ; for it sug- 
gested the second alternative, that 
oi flinching, as well as the first, that 
of standing firm in the faith. But 
the quotation, even if it were made 
from the Hebrew text, is directly in 
point and in the very sense of the 
Prophet. The trial of these Hebrew 
Christians was (that is the argument 
of the whole of the following chapter) 
the very trial which all the heroes 
and martyrs of their race had gone 
through. He takes them back to 
the exhortation of Habakkuk in the 
moment of the Chaldean invasion. 
The Prophet took his stand as a 
watcher on the tower to see if there 
appeared on the horizon any glimmer 
of reassurance. And the answer was 
that help was to come, but not yet. 
Patience and faith were what men 
must live by : the vision was for an 
appointed time : though it tarried, 
they must wait for it. The Hebrew 
Christians, the writer tells them, 
must do as their forefathers had 
been bidden to do, rest their souls, 

X. 32-39] HEBREWS 91 

in spite of visible discouragements, is rendered " obtaining." Though 

on the invisible. the word is a different one, the 

39. unto perdition, i.e. with per- thought is here exactly the same 

dition (ruin) as the result. as in our Lord's saying, already 

saving (marg. gaining). The quoted, in Luke xxi. 19, R.V., "in 

Greek word admits either sense. your patience ye shall win your 

It is used in 1 Thess. v. 9 and souls." See also above on v. 34. 
2 Thess. ii. 14, and in both places 

Additional Note on the quotation from Hahakkuk (X. 27, 28). 

The quotation, or rather the sentence which is its core, has been used in 
the argument for the Pauline authorship of the Epistle : but its bearing has 
not always been fairly estimated. We must take into account not only the 
fact of quotation but the manner and purpose. It is beyond dispute that 
the words of Habakkuk, " the just shall live by [his] faith," which are as 
a text to St Paul in setting forth to the Romans (Rom. i. 17) and to the 
Galatians (Gal. iii. 11) the doctrine of righteousness by faith, are quoted 
here as leading to a passage not only on the subject of faith, but in 
which faith will be markedly associated with righteousness. If however 
this fact is to be used to establish a connexion between St Paul 
and this Epistle, it harmonizes best not with the theory of direct Pauline 
authorship but with the suggestion made by Origen that the Epistle was 
written by one of St Paul's circle, conveying his thoughts, but at second- 
hand. The words were evidently a watchword of St Paul's teaching. They 
would be familiar to any one who read his writings or associated with 
him. But it is equally evident that they are used in this Epistle in a 
wholly different way from that in which he used them. To him they 
are without context — words from a sacred source which he adopts as 
putting in an epigrammatic form a relation which has established itself to 
him on other grounds. The writer of this Epistle recalls them in their 
context and because of it, and they are used in the exact sense which 
the Prophet himself put upon them. To St Paul the attraction, so to say, 
of the Prophet's words is that they bring together the two ideas of " faith " 
and "righteousness." The righteousness, as he interprets them, is based 
upon the faith. In the present Epistle we are thinking not of the source of 
righteousness, but of the source of life. " The just (or, My righteous one) 
shall live by faith." We are contrasting his case, not as St Paul would, with 
that of one who should base his righteousness on works, but with that of one 
who should flinch in the time of trial for lack of patience and faith. The 
whole point of view is changed. I have noticed above, on v. 30 of this 
chapter, a similar instance of the same quotation being made by the two 
writers with an entirely different intention. Such a combination of similarity 
and difference is an argument, as far as it goes, for diversity, not for identity 
of authorship. 

93 HEBREWS [xi. and xii. 1-4 

XI. AND XII. 1-4. The historic glory of Faith. 

Introductory Note. 

The idea of this passage is one which would appeal with special force to 
its first readers. It is one of the rapid summaries of their sacred, heaven- 
ordered history, which was the form into which, both in Old and New 
Testament times, a Jew, writing or speaking for his countrymen, seemed to 
throw naturally prayer or praise, appeal or argument : not only Psalmists 
caUing for reformation (Ps. Ixxviii.) or leading the voice of thanksgiving 
(Pss. cv. and cvi.), but Joshua or Samuel (Josh. xxiv. ; 1 Sam. xii.) pleading 
with the people, the Levites at Nehemiah's fast (Neh.ix.), Mattathias charging 
his sons on his deathbed (1 Mace, ii.), St Stephen before the Sanhedrim 
(Acts vii.), St Paul in the synagogue at Antioch (Acts xiii.). Cp. especially 
the familiar roll-call of "famous men" in Bcclus. xliv.f. : different though the 
two passages are in aim, there are many points of contact between them. 
Each such catalogue has its special purpose and therefore its own point of 
view. The present one is obviously much more than a catalogue : it is 
grouped with artistic aim and made at every point to teach principles. It 
begins with Faith as a necessary basis of religion. It goes on to exhibit it 
as the strength of all high purpose, noble living, national progress. We are 
to feel the continuity, the long, unbroken succession : to feel the great 
variety in the persons and occasions, — patriarchs, judges, kings, prophets, 
patriots. It has been pointed out that the last-named instance is the most 
paradoxical, a woman, a stranger, an outcast (Rahab the harlot), v. 31. 
There is the faith of action, that " subdues kingdoms, works righteousness," 
and the faith of endurance, that waits, believes, suffers. Three, more special, 
thoughts seem to colour the list : 

{a) Stress is laid in many cases on the way in which faith, in accordance 
with what is promised in ch. x. 39, has issued in the " saving of the soul " 
or the life. See for instance v. 5, Enoch " translated so that he should not 
see death" (it possibly accounts for the expression with respect to Abel, 
" being dead he yet speaketh " — his faith even though he died gave him life 
in another sense), Noah "saving his house" from the flood. A similar 
thought can be traced in »». 19, 23, 28, 29, 31. 

{h) The instances in many cases suggest points of resemblance to 
the actual call and trial of the Hebrew Christian : such as Noah seeking 
refuge from a world going to ruin around him ; Abraham leaving kin and 
home ; the Patriarchs looking for the building of a " city of God." 

(c) All in the long succession are represented as " dying in faith, not 
having received the promises," as only having " seen and greeted them from 
afar." It is partly an example, to encourage the Christian Jew to have equal 
patience and confidence ; partly it helps the thought that all that 
faith of past time is now to be justified : the Christian is the heir of 
the agea. 

XI. AND XII. 1-4] 



The meaning of Faith (xi. 1, 2). 

XI. 1 Now faith is the ^assurance of things hoped for, 
2 the ^proving of things not seen. For therein the elders 
had witness borne to them. 

1 Or, the giving substance to 

XI. 1. Now faith is^kc. Not a fresh 
beginning as though he turned to a 
new subject, but in strict sequence to 
the last words of ch. x. " Now faith, 
of which the prophet spoke, the faith 
in which we (x. 39) claim a portion 
is, &c." 

This verse is often called a "defini- 
tion " of faith. It is not that. What 
faith is, is taken for granted, or is 
to be gathered from the instances to 
be given of it. The purpose of the 
sentence is not to give a logical de- 
finition nor a complete description, 
but to fix attention upon one 
necessary characteristic of faith. 
The emphasis in each clause is (as 
the order of the words in the Greek 
plainly marks) on what are, in the 
English, the last words, viz. "things 
hoped for," "things not seen." "This 
(the writer is saying) is always the 
character, the very meaning of faith. 
It is not faith unless it is so. It is 
faith that the prophet spoke of. It 
is faith that you need — the great 
grace of the long heroic line of your 
ancestors. Remember in each case 
what faith carried with it. You 
complain that you are asked to go 
beyond what you can see, to wait, to 
be patient, to leave visible and tan- 
gible supports of religion on which you 
have been accustomed to lean, and 
take instead what seem to you visions, 
ideas, unrealized promises. See then 
that this is just what every one whose 
name you reverence, in your own 
great history, has done. Faith offers 

2 Or, test 

assurance, but it is the assurance of 
hope, not of possession : it offers 
evidence, but it is not the evidence 
of the senses, it is the evidence of 
things not seen." 

assurance. It is the same Greek 
word as that translated (in ch. iii. 14, 
where see note) " confidence." 

hoped for. . .not seen. The second 
designation covers the first ; for 
hope and sight are proverbially 
contradictories ("hope that is seen 
is not hope," Rom. viii. 24), but it 
goes further ; for " hope " is of the 
future; "not seen" includes things 
present and past, and so prepares us 
for V. 3, and takes in the spiritual 
world generally. 

2. For therein the elders; Y2iihev 
"For it is therein that the elders," 
&c. " Therein " is emphatic. " It is 
faith in this sense, faith that involves 
a venture on the unseen, that has 
made your history so memorable." 
This truth is meant to be recognized 
in all the instances given, though it 
is brought out more evidently in 
some. Noah did not wait to see the 
rising flood before he built the ark. 
Abraham followed the Voice which 
called him without seeing whither it 
led. He acted on a promise, when 
its fulfilment seemed impossible, and 
so on. Notice also that throughout 
the writer is urging not merely 
that such faith is something that we 
honour, but that it is something that 
met with a response — something to 
the greatness of which the Scripture 

94 HEBREWS [xi. and xil 1-4 

"bore witness" (see, for instance, of past generations, but with a 

in vv. 4 and 5 and compare note on sense of honour, the great men of 

tj. 16). the past. The nearest use is that in 

elders, a parallel expression to Matt. xv. 2, "the tradition of the 

"the fathers" in ch. i. 1, the men elders." 

Faith as the foundation of religion (3-6). 

3 By faith we understand that the ^worlds have been framed 
by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been 

4 made out of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered 
unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through 
which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, 
^God bearing witness ^in respect of his gifts : and through 

5 it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was trans- 
lated that he should not see death, and he was not found, 
because God translated him : for before his translation he 
hath had witness borne to him that he had been well- 

6 pleasing unto God : and without faith it is impossible to 
be well-pleasing unto him : for he that cometh to God must 
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that 
seek after him. 

^ Gr. ages. 

2 The Greek text in this clause is somewhat uncertain. 

3 Or, over his gifts 

General Note on XI. 3-6. 

The general purpose of the chapter, as has been said, is to shew what has 
been the vivifying faculty from end to end of the sacred history, from Genesis 
to Maccabees. But there is another point gained in the first three instances. 
In a sense they touch the case of the Hebrew Christians even more closely 
than those which illustrate Faith as the spring of heroic deeds. Their 
special trial was to find that they had to make a new and uncalculated 
departure in religion. These instances take them back to the earliest 
ages to illustrate three fundamental ideas of religion, and to ask what 
they were but the greatest ventures of Faith : — a Creator — that is the 
first postulate of religion ; yet what greater venture on the unseen can 
there be than is demanded by that thought ? And so with the two natui-al 
and necessary modes in which rehgion expresses itself — the sacrifice of Abel 
— the piety of Enoch : worship and humble walking with God. They in- 
volved not only the belief that an Unseen Creator existed, but that men 
could enter into relations with Him, could give Him what He valued, could 
please Him by doing weU. 

XI. AND XII. 1-4] 



3. understand. It is the same 
word which in Rom. i. 20 (a complete 
parallel in thought to this verse) 
is rendered (R.V.) by "perceive." 
In both places it is of a mental 
process and is definitely opposed to 

worlds (marg. ages). See on ch. i. 2. 

have been framed ("fitted per- 
fectly" ; see note on xiii. 21). The 
perfect tense in Greek implies that 
the framing is not merely an act in 
the past but that its effects endure 
to the present. 

hy the word of God. See on ch. i. 
3, "the word of his power." The 
special reference is to the formula 
of Gen. i., " God said," of the Divine 

so that: this clause sums up the 
principle involved in the belief in 
a Creator, viz. that behind what is 
seen there is necessarily something 
that is not seen. 

4. "It was faith which made 
Abel's sacrifice more acceptable than 
Cain's, and gained him the testimony 
that he was righteous." This is an 
interpretation of the story in Genesis, 
which only states that God " had re- 
spect unto" Abel's offering and not 
to Cain's : but it is in the light ap- 
parently of a tradition that Abel had 
received the title of " righteous." It 
seems in Matt, xxiii. 35 ("the blood 
of righteous Abel ") to be given as a 
matter of usage ; and cp. 1 John iii. 
12. The word rendered "better" is 
literally "larger," "fuller," and it has 
been interpreted to refer to the 
statement that Abel offered of his 
flock, Cain of the fruits of the 
ground. But this is to read things 
into the story. On the face of it, 
each is represented as offering of his 
ovm, Abel the shepherd, Cain the 
husbandman. Our thoughts are con- 
centrated on the moral difference. 

"Larger" must be taken therefore 
in a moral, not in a material sense : 
" a sacrifice of more value." 

through which, i.e. faith ; just as 
"through it" in the next clause 
means through his faith ; cp. also 
V. 7. 

had witness borne to him, in the 
story, by the acceptance of his offer- 
ing, and by God's concernment with 
the vvTong done to him by Cain. 

God bearing witness. The mar- 
ginal note calls attention to the fact 
that there is some question as to the 
text. Of the three oldest MSS, the 
Vatican is defective in this Epistle 
after ch. ix. 14, and the other two 
have here "God" in the dative case, 
so that it would mean "while he him- 
self bears witness to God in respect 
of his gifts." It should be said that 
the text is quoted as we have it by 
Clement of Alexandria. 

being dead yet speaketh; i.e. by 
the example of his faith and its re- 
ward, though they caused his death, 
he still has a voice to exhort and 
encourage. The difficult expression 
seems to be suggested (1) by the 
words of Gen. iv. 10, "the voice of 
thy brother's blood crieth unto me 
fi'om the ground," which are recalled 
again in this Epistle in ch. xii. 24 ; 
notice that the word "speaketh" 
is repeated there of the Blood : see 
also note on id. 25 : (2) by the fact 
that Abel is treated as the first 
Martyr. Cp. Matt, xxiii. 35. 

5. By faith Enoch toas t^rans- 
lated: "It was by faith that Enoch 
was translated ; for look at the re- 
cord in Gen. v. 24 (they are the actual 
words of the LXX), 'he was not 
found, for God translated him,' but 
before that (in v. 22 and in the first 
half of 24) we have read ' Enoch was 
well-pleasing to God,' and this neces- 
sarily implies that he had faith in 

96 HEBREWS [xi. Am) xii. 1-4 

God's existence and in His care for writer in xlix. 14 has "Enoch. ..was 

goodness." The words "was well- taken up from the earth." Cp. Wis- 

pleasing to God " are the LXX para- dom iv. 10, "while living among 

phi-ase of the Hebrew " walked with sinners he was translated ; he was 

God." It should be noticed that in caught away, &c." This evidently 

the following words, "that he should refers to Enoch, though it does not 

not see death," the writer is ap- name him ; and it is doubtful whether 

parently adopting a traditional in- it necessarily implies anything be- 

terpretation of the words as they yond a premature death ; cp. the 

stand in Genesis, "he was not, for wording of Isaiah Ivii. 1. 
God took him." The word "trans- hath had witness borne, i.e. in the 

lated" {(jLfTereOr]) is used of Enoch preceding words of the passage 

first in Ecclus. xliv. 16. The same which speaks of his translation. 

Faith in God's threatenings and promises (7-12). 

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not 
seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the 
saving of his house ; through which he condemned the 
world, and became heir of righteousness which is according 

8 to faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed 
to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an in- 
heritance ; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 

9 By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as 
in a land not his own, Mwelling in tents, with Isaac and 

10 Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise : for he 
looked for the city which hath foundations, whose ^ builder 

11 and maker is God. By faith even Sarah herself received 
power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she 

12 counted him faithful who had promised : wherefore also 
there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, as many as 
the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand, which is 
by the seashore, innumerable. 

1 Or, having taken up his abode in tents ^ Or, architect 

7-12. The section is boimd together by the fact that it gives instances 
of faith as shewn by trust in God's threatenings and promises. 

7. being warned [of God]. See still, even when he was warned of 

on ch. viii. 5. them, out of sight. Vaughan points 

things not seen as yet ; more ex- out that as v. 3 dealt with faith in 

actly "the things (i.e. the coming respect of things past and vv. 4-6 

judgement) not even yet seen," i.e. with faith in respect of the present. 

XL AND XII. 1-4] 



so V. 7 f. deals with it in respect of 
the future — Noah in respect of what 
was to be feared, Abraham and 
Sarah in respect of what was to 
be hoped. 

moved with godly fear. The four 
words represent a single participle 
in the Greek, cognate to the sub- 
stantive used in ch. v. 7 and xii. 8. 
It expresses here a " wise fear," but 
with suggestion of awe, of a sense of 
the unseen. 

through which, i.e. (as in v. 4) 
"through which faith." 

condemned the world : i.e. by the 
contrast of his conduct and theirs ; 
in the sense of Matt. xii. 41, "the 
men of Nineveh shall stand up in the 
judgement with this generation and 
shall condemn it." Possibly there is 
reference to the traditional addition 
that Noah preached to his contem- 
poraries ; 2 Pet. ii. 5, " a preacher of 
righteousness." The same is implied 
in 1 Pet. iii. 20. 

heir of righteousness... according 
to faith ; i.e. he was one who in his 
generation carried on the tradition 
of right-doing based upon and 
crowned with faith in the vinseen. 
(The association of Noah with 
"righteousness" dates from the O.T. 
See Ezek. xiv. 14 and Ecclus. xliv. 
17.) This is the expression in which 
the writer comes nearest in appear- 
ance to Pauline language ; and we 
can hardly doubt that the close con- 
nexion between faith and righteous- 
ness as set forth by St Paul was in 
some way in the writer's conscious- 
ness; but it should be noted (1) that 
the exact phrase for this connexion, 
"according to" {KaTa\ belongs to 
this Epistle (see on v. 13) but is not 
found in St Paul's writings : (2) that 
there is no sign in the case either 
of " faith " or of " righteousness " of 
the special colour which St Paul's 


theology puts upon them. " Faith " 
is, as always in this Epistle, a sense 
of the imseen ; "righteousness" is 

It is of interest, as illustrating the 
freedom with which the same phrases 
could be used with slightly varying 
points of view, to compare Clem. 
Rom. ad Cor. x. which follows closely 
the passage in this Epistle with its 
three instances of Enoch, Noah, and 
Abraham, but "faith" has a more 
practical aspect, being connected 
more nearly with " obedience " and, 
in Abraham's case, put side by side 
with his " hospitality." 

8. By faith Abraham. Abraham, 
" the father of all them that believe " 
(Rom. iv. 11), naturally occupies a 
large place in the catalogue of the 
triumphs of faith. What is said of 
him is in two portions : (1) in «». 8- 
16, of his acceptance of the call and 
promises, and of the life of unfulfilled 
expectation to which these led. In 
this he is associated, though the 
primary part is his, with Sarah, 
Isaac and Jacob. (2) in vv. 17-19, 
of his signal act of trust even with- 
out a promise. 

whenhe was called; exactly "while 
he was being called." The tenses of 
the participle and of the verb respec- 
tively express the instantaneousness 
of his response to the call. 

9. became a sojourner. . .dwelling. 
Two verbs are used which differ only 
in the preposition with which they 
are compounded ; the first being 
used of temporary, the second of 
permanent residence. There is 
therefore something like a play in 
the use of the words ; " he made his 
home in tents." The shifting tent 
was the nearest approach that he 
found to a home. 

as in a \land] not his own. It was 
the land of promise ; but he sojourned 


98 HEBREWS [xi. and xii. 1-4 

in it as though he had no part or lot people a " thought beyond their 

in it. thought." As the Tabernacle of 

with Isaac and Jacob. The patient Moses is the shadow of the "taber- 

waiting for the fulfilment was not for nacle not made with hands," so the 

one generation only. polity of Abraham's vision is the 

10. The reason of his patient shadow of the city " whose Designer 

waiting — " he was looking forward and Builder is God." 

to the building of the city of God." 11. even Sarah herself. Faith 

This assertion rests (1) in substance, was needed for the mother as well as 

on the nature of the promises which the father. No reference is made to 

he had in mind, the "seed as the Sarah's initial incredulity, 

stars of heaven" and "the blessing counted him faithful. See ch. 

for all nations "; (2) in yorm, on pro- x. 2.3. "Faithful" implies also 

phetic sayings of the visible Jerusa- " trustworthy." 

lem and of the new Jerusalem to be, 12. wherefore. It answers to the 

as Ps. Ixxxvii. 1, " His foundation is "through which" of vv. 4 and 7, and 

in the holy mountain. . .glorious things therefore = " on account of her faith." 

are spoken of thee, city of God," Sarah's faith met response, 

and Isaiah liv. 12, "I will. ..lay thy [as many] as... seashore. Theyare 

foundations with sapphires, &c." the words of the promise in the LXX 

But the writer sees in the anticipa- version of Gen. xxii. 17. 
tions, as in the institutions, of his 

Patience of the patriarchs (13-16). 

13 These all died ^in faith, not having received the promises, 
but having seen them, and greeted them from afar, and 
having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on 

14 the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest 

15 that they are seeking after a country of their own. And if 
indeed they had been mindful of that country from which 
they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 

16 But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly : 
wherefore God is not ashamed of them to be called their 
God : for he hath prepared for them a city. 

^ Gr. according to. 

General Note on vv. 13-16. 

A comparison with ». 39, which sums up the lesson of the whole 
catalogue, will shew that this paragi-aph also marks the end of a stage, 
although Abraham figures again in the second stage as he has done in 
the first. It is questioned whether "These all" includes Abel, Enoch, 
Noah or only Abraham and his descendants. There can be no distinct 
thought of the earlier names; for "died in faith" is inappropriate to the 

XL AND XII. 1-4] 



picture given of Enoch, and the words of vv. 15 and 16 definitely refer 
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At the same time it is, no doubt, a 
general characterizing of the faith of the patriarchs, though the special 
terms suit the later ones only. It was in all a forward-looking life, spent 
for an ideal, and for one not to be reaUzed in this world. 

13. in faith. The literal render- 
lug (see marg.) is "according to 
faith." Westcott paraphrases "in- 
spired, sustained, guided, by faith." 
The words must be taken not so 
much with " died " as with the whole 
sentence. It was in the spirit of 
faith that, though they died without 
receiving the promises, they did not 
die till they had seen them and 
greeted them afar. It is difficult to 
separate the picture altogether from 
the words attributed to our Lord in 
John viii. 56, " Abraham rejoiced to 
see my day, and he saw it and was 

having seen them and greeted 
them, as sailors see land over the 
water and send hearts as well as 
eyes to it before they reach it. 

strangers and pilgrims. The 
words are meant to recall sayings 
of Abraham (Gen. xxiii. 4) and Jacob 
(Gen. xlvii. 9). Cp. Ps. xxxis. 12; 
1 Pet. ii. 11. The argument is 
"Strangers and pilgrims means in 
a land not their own ; and there is 
a wistful tone in the words, which 
means that they are longing for a 
true fatherland. What land is this ? 
Not the land from which they came : 
for they might have gone back to it. 
Not the land in which they are : for 
they desire a better. What can it be 
but a heavenly one?" Notice that 
"heavenly" is the epithet of the ideal, 
spiritual, antitypes in oh. viii. 5, ix. 

16. wherefore. This is the clause 
which answers to the "wherefore" 
of «. 12 and the " through which " of 
vv. 4 and 7 — on account of this ex- 
hibition of faith, this power of hold- 
ing to an ideal purpose. 

to he called their God, i.e. to 
accept the title fso often given to 
Him in the Old Testament, "the 
God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of 
Jacob," Gen. xxvi. 24, xxviii. 13 ; 
Exod. iii. 6. Note that in "not 
ashamed to be called their God," 
we have the thought expressed in 
V. 2 : they had witness borne to them 
that their faith was recognized. 

hath prepared; better, as well 
as more exactly, prepared. The 
time intended is anterior to the pre- 
viously named action. This clause 
explains and justifies the preceding 
one. God allowed Himself to be 
called in all time their God, for their 
confidence was not misplaced ; He 
had made ready for them the city of 
which they dreamed. It is in eflfect 
the same argument as that based by 
our Lord Himself (Matt. xxii. 32) on 
this Divine title: "God is not the 
God of the dead but of the living." 

a city : «. 10 and ch. xii. 22, xiii. 
14. Not only a country of their own 
(w. 14) but (a higher and fuller con- 
ception) a settled and organized 
community, a "city of God" — i.e. 
in the first place the polity of Israel, 
but in the true perfection, the poUty 
of redeemed humanity. 


100 HEBREWS [XI. AND XII. 1-4 

Faith that faces sacrifice (17-19). 

17 By faith Abraham, being tried, ^offered up Isaac : yea, he 
that had gladly received the promises was offering up his 

18 only begotten son : even he ^to whom it was said, In Isaac 

19 shall thy seed be called : accounting that God is able to 
raise up, even from the dead ; from whence he did also in 
a parable receive him back. 

^ Gr. hath offered up. 2 Qr, of 

General Note on vv. 17-19. 

The second proof of Abraham's faith — not now in accepting and acting 
upon the promises but in facing a call, as it seemed, to surrender what 
appeared to be the tangible pledge of the promise. There is, no doubt, 
a sense in the backgi-ound that there was an analogy between this and 
the trial of the present generation of Jewish Christians, who were called 
to part with so much which they had thought vital to God's promises 
to them. 

It may be noticed that in the argument on the faith of Abraham 
St Paul, confining himself to the exhibition and acceptance of his faith 
"while he was still in imcircumcision," does not give as an instance his 
readiness to sacrifice the son of promise : but there is some reason to think 
that the passage (Rom. iv. 10-20) may have been present to our writer. 
See below, note on v. 29. 

17. offered up. As the marginal In Isaac. The quotation is from 
note reminds us it is a perfect tense, Gen. xxi. 12. The race which was to 
" hath oflFered up." It is the tense bear his name should be his descend- 
of events which stand recorded in ants through Isaac, not Ishmael. It 
Scripture. See on ch. vii. 6, "hath is another instance of a quotation 
taken." On the other hand the im- common to this Epistle and St Paul, 
perfect tense in the next clause " was but made with entirely diflferent 
oflfering" (i.e. "was ready to offer "), purposes: Rom. ix. 7. 

belongs to the story. The ofl"ering 19. God..Jrom the dead. A 

was made in vdll but not in deed. venture, surely (he would say), on 

18. {even he] to whom. The Greek, the imseen. The words seem, though 
as the italics and the marginal note they apply to a different occasion 
indicate, admits equally of the ren- (see above, general note on 17-19), 
dering "even him to whom," i.e. to be an echo of St Paul's words 
Isaac. Either is possible ; but there (Rom. iv. 17), "him whom he be- 
is more force in the rendering in the lieved, even God, who quickeneth 
text. The point which the writer is the dead and calleth the things that 
emphasizing is the full consciousness are not as though they were." 

of the surrender. Abraham was whence he did also in a parable. 
called not only to bear loss but mth "In a parable" = "in a figure." It was 
his own hands to bring it about. an acted parable. He had faith to 

XL AND XII. 1-4] 



believe that if the boy were dead 
God could give him back — and so 
also it was from the dead, as it were, 
that he actually received him back. 

Westcott takes it less probably of 
his original birth from one " as good 
as dead," v. 12. 

Faith that looks to the future (20-22). 

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning 

21 things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed 
each of the sons of Joseph : and worshipped leaning upon 

22 the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was 
nigh, made mention of the departure of the children of 
Israel ; and gave commandment concerning his bones. 

General Note on vv. 20-22. 

These instances span the interval between Abraham and the Exodus, 
between the Promise and the first steps towards its fulfilment. All turns on 
the steady looking forward in spite of delay and discouragement. 

20. blessed Jacob and Esau. The 
words are meant to recall the circum- 
stances as well as the fact of the 
blessing. Faith was shewn in the 
importance attached to the birth- 
right at a time when the inheritance 
was in the clouds — perhaps also 
shewn in the acquiescence in God's 
will that the father's purpose should 
be frustrated and the younger pre- 
ferred to the elder. 

21. The expression combines, 
consciously or unconsciously, a re- 
ference to the two distinct stories of 
Gen. xlviii. and xlvii. 29 foil. The 
earher words describe Jacob's bless- 
ing of Bphraim and Manasseh in 
Gen. xlviii., when he put his right 
hand on the head of the younger: 
but the later words, "he worshipped, 
&c.," come verbatim from the LXX 
in Gen. xlvii. 31, where they close 
the story of his charge to Joseph not 
to bury him in Egypt, but to carry 
him to the cave of Machpelah. It is 
hard not to think that the writer is 
meaning to refer to this and to point 
out that Jacob, as well as Joseph 
after him, shewed in his last request 

how firmly he rested on the promise 
that Abraham's seed should possess 
the Holy Land. 

on the top of his staff; i.e. prop- 
ping himself on his staff and bending 
over it — the LXX reading where the 
Hebrew has, as in our versions, "up- 
on the bed's head." Cp. the descrip- 
tion of David, when bedridden, 
praying: 1 Kings i. 47, "the king 
bowed himself upon his bed." 

22. The reference is to Gen. 1. 
There are two points corresjjonding 
severally to vv. 24 and 25 of that 
chapter: (1) He "made mention of 
(the word possibly only means "he 
had in mind") the departure (the 
word used is the Exodus) of the 
children of Israel (possibly rather, 
the sons of Israel, i.e. of Jacob, his 
brothers)." They were thinking of 
their arrival in Egypt and their 
gathering interests there. His 
thoughts were in the land of pro- 
mise, to which they or their children 
were surely to come. (2) He asso- 
ciated himseli with their future and 
wished his bones to lie in the Holy 

102 HEBREWS [xi. and xil 1-4 

Faith in history of Moses and the Exodus (23-31). 

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by 
his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child ; and 

24 they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith 
Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son 

25 of Pharaoh's daughter ; choosing rather to be evil entreated 
with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin 

26 for a season ; accounting the reproach of ^Christ greater 
riches than the treasures of Egypt : for he looked unto the 

27 recompense of rcAvard. By faith he forsook Egypt, not 
fearing the wrath of the king : for he endured, as seeing 

28 him who is invisible. By faith he ^kept the passover, and 
the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the first- 

29 born should not touch them. By faith they passed through 
the Red Sea as by dry land : which the Egyptians assaying 

30 to do were swallowed up. By faith the walls of Jericho fell 
down, after they had been compassed about for seven days. 

31 By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were 
disobedient, having received the spies with peace. 

* Or, the Christ ^ Or, instituted Gr. hath made. 

General Note on vv. 23-31. 

We pass to another epoch, that of the Exodus ; and to another class of 
calls upon Faith ; no longer for patience and maintenance of the hope, 
now for active resistance, choice, enterprise. 

As Abraham before, so now naturally Moses has the central and largest 
place, the other instances admitted being, as in the former case, contribuent 
and complementary to those which directly concern himself. The hortatory 
purpose of the recital is kept before us in the choice of phrases as well as 
incidents: "not afraid," "not fearing," "evil entreated with the people of 
God," " the reproach of Christ." 

23. The name of Moses occupies It is a word of colloquial Greek), and 

the prominent place in the verse : it in attributing the concealment to 

is an instance which belongs to his both parents. In the Hebrew text 

story and fitly begins it ; but the faith the mother only is credited with it. 
is that of his parents. The writer 24. when he was grown i(p. 

follows closely the story as it stands Here again the Greek phrase used is 

in the LXX (Exod. ii. 2), e.g. in the that of the LXX (Exod ii. 11). That 

word translated "goodly" (cp. Acts Moses refused an actual offer of 

vii. 20, where it is rendered "fair." adoption is not explicitly stated in 

XL AND XII. 1-4] 



the text of Exodus, though it is a 
natural inference and became part 
of the tradition. 

25. pleasures of sin = the plea- 
sures to be had at the price of apos- 
tasy. For this special meaning of 
" sin " see on ch. x. 26, 27. 

26. accounting: the participle 
probably (as Westcott takes it) in 
the sense of "because he accounted." 

the reproach of Christ (cp. ch. xiii. 
13, "bearing his reproach," i.e. the 
reproach that fell upon Him). An 
unexpected use in relation to Moses 
of a phrase natural in relation to 
Christians. It is a synonym or ex- 
pansion of the words in v. 25, "to be 
evil entreated with the people of 
God " : the reproach (that is, the 
contempt and evil speaking) which, 
then, as in all time and as most 
especially in the Gospel story, has 
been the portion of God's "anointed." 
The language is the language of the 
Psalms : see especially Ps. Ixix. 7, 9 
(quoted by St Paul in Rom. xv. 3 as 
Messianic) and Ixxxix. 50, 51, "the 
reproach of thy servants. . .wherewith 
they [the enemies] have reproached 
the footsteps of thine Anointed (Gr. 
thy Christ)." A special purpose here, 
as in the use of " good tidings " (or, 
gospel) of Israel in the wilderness in 
ch. iv. 2, is to put the experience of 
the Hebrew Christians on the same 
plane as that of their ancestors in 
the faith. It is in this way some- 
what similar to the adaptation of 
Christian language to the history of 
Israel in 1 Cor. x. 2-5. The juxta- 
position of the phrases "reproach" 
and "reward" in this place suggests 
the possibility that the writer had in 
mind the Beatitude (Matt. v. 11), 
" Blessed are ye when men shall re- 
proach you... for great is your re- 
ward." See on ch. xii. 14, where 
there seems to be a reminiscence of 

two more of the Beatitudes. On the 
use of the phrase "the Christ" or "the 
Anointed " in such a place as this it 
will be well to consult Dr Hort's full 
comment on 1 Pet. i. 11, 

looked unto, lit. " looked away to," 
i.e. looked on to, past everything 

27. forsook Egypt. To what 
incident do these words refer? 
Westcott argues that they describe 
the Exodus. This is evidently not 
the view of our translators either in 
A.V. or R.V., or they would not 
have chosen the word "forsook." 
And there is much against the view : 
(1) the unnatural order, which would 
seem to put the Passover after the 
Exodus; (2) the verb in the singular 
number, as though Moses went alone ; 
(3) the tameness of the verb itself to 
describe the leading out of the people 
"by their armies"; (4) the in-ele- 
vance, at this point, of the words 
" not fearing the wrath," for at the 
moment of their departure the king 
vfished them to go. Is it then, as 
other editors say, the removal into 
Midian of Exod. ii. 15? We can 
hardly accept that answer absolute- 
ly : for " not fearing the vsrath of the 
king " is too paradoxically in contra- 
diction to the statement in Exodus 
that he "feared" and that he "fled 
from the face of Pharaoh." It seems 
best to take it (as the rendering 
"forsook " suggests) of what is related 
in Exod. ii. 11, the same verse which 
has been used already in v. 24. It 
is said there that he " went out unto 
his brethren and looked on their 
burdens." There is no need to 
prove that this would rouse Pha- 
raoh's ill will, and require courage : 
but can this be described as " forsak- 
ing Egypt " ? It is pointed out that 
Goshen was on the borders of 
Egypt: the Israelites were placed 



[XI. AND XII. 1-4 

there in order to separate them 
from the Egyptians. In Gen. xlv. 
10 (the first place where Goshen is 
named) the LXX describe it as " of 
Arabia." Thus, one who went from 
the king's palace to his brethren 
might fairly be described as "leaving 
Egypt behind him." If this is not 
satisfactory, it may still be argued 
that, as the result of his going to 
his brethren was the flight into 
Midian, the total event might be 
foreshortened into the phrase "for- 
sook Egypt," although the courage 
spoken of applies to the beginning, 
not to the end, of the transaction, to 
his " forsaking " the palace, his giv- 
ing up his career in Egypt, not to his 
"flight" into Midian. 

28. kept (or, instituted). The 
verb is the common one in the 
LXX (as Exod. xii. 48) of "keeping" 
(not of instituting) the Passover. 
Vaughan remarks that there are 
three verbs employed according to 
the point of view from which the Pass- 
over is regarded; to "kill" (hterally 
sacrifice) of the lamb, as Exod. xii. 
21 ; to "eat" of the supper, ih. 11 ; 
and to " keep " (lit. make, or, perhaps, 
perform) of the whole rite. For the 
tense see on v. 17. The Passover 
might stand for the whole system of 
ritual, which was to be subsequently 
ordained, and of which the efficacy 
was to be matter of faith. If so, it is 

chosen because, in the case of it, faith 
had its immediate justification by 
the sparing of the firstborn wherever 
the blood was sprinkled. 

29. which the Egyptians. The 
force of this clause is to point out 
that the passage by Israel of the Red 
Sea was not the discovery of a path 
by which any one could pass it, but 
the efi'ect of faith, accomplishing the 
impossible. They had courage to do 
what the next experience found dan- 
gerous and fatal. 

30. after they had been com- 
passed. Josh. vi. 14, 15. An in- 
stance of patience as well as faith, 
of faith which led to refraining, as 
V. 29 had spoken of faith which led 
to forward action. 

31. Rahab. She was remembered 
as one who, though an alien, had 
done a supreme service to the holy 
nation. Josh. ii. 1, vi. 17, 25. St 
James (ii. 25) quotes her as one 
whose faith was shewn not by words 
only (Josh. ii. 11, "the Lord your 
God he is God in heaven above and 
on the earth beneath, &c."), but by 
action. She is quoted here as an 
instance of faith in the unseen. Her 
belief, however acquired, in God led 
her to choose the side of the nation 
then represented only by the two de- 
fenceless spies, and so to " save her- 
self from an untoward generation." 

Faith in all Israelitish history (32-40). 

32 And what shall I more say ? for the time will fail me if 
I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah ; of David 

33 and Samuel and the prophets ; who through faith subdued 
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, 

34 stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, 
escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made 
strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of 


35 aliens. Women received their dead by a resurrection : and 
others were ^ tortured, not accepting ^ their deliverance ; 

36 that they might obtain a better resurrection : and others 
had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of 

37 bonds and imprisonment : they were stoned, they were 
sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with 
the sword : they went about in sheepskins, in goat- 

38 skins ; being destitute, afflicted, evil entreated (of whom 
the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and 

39 mountains and caves and the holes of the earth. And 
these all having had witness borne to them through their 

40 faith, received not the promise, God having ^provided some 
better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should 
not be made perfect. 

^ Or, beaten to death ^ Gr. the redemption. 

^ Or, foreseen 

General Note on vv. 32-40. 

The order is still generally chronological : the Judges, David, the 
Prophets : although the particular Judges are in an order of importance 
rather than of date. Samuel is put after David in order to bring him into 
closer connexion with the Prophets, of whom he was looked upon as the first 
(Acts iii. 24). The remainder of the passage aims at gathering under heads 
different exhibitions of faith throughout the whole period. The arrangement 
in triplets {vv. 32-34) is a common rhetorical artifice, and it is difficult to say 
how far we are intended to see exact correspondences ; but perhaps the 
triplet of V. 33, "subdued kingdoms, &c.," corresponds roughly with the 
categories of v. 32, as though it meant that Faith was the secret of the 
victories of the Judges (cp. Judg. v. 19) ; of the virtues of kings who, in the 
frequently repeated phrase, "did that which was right in the sight of 
the Lord " ; and of the realization by the prophets of their visions. In any 
case there seems to be a sense of historical order in v. 34 if the deliverances 
of that verse are those of the Captivity ; " escaped the edge of the sword," 
if it suits earlier events, has its most notable explanation in the Book 
of Esther ; the three following instances have theirs in the history of the 

32. time will fail me. In gather- Dan. vi., as the following instance is 
ing traits of style, it is worth noticing that of Dan. iii. 

that this is a formula common in 34. from weakness. This might 

classical literature. be explained of the revival of the 

if I tell — it means a little more, "if nation after the Captivity: but, as 

I go on to tell in detail." has been said, the three phrases 

33. stopped the mouths of lions, point most definitely to the recovery 



[XI. AND XII. 1-4 

in the days of the Maccabees. It is 
noticed that the word rendered 
"armies" has that sense in the 
Books of Maccabees, but in the O.T. 
generally it means " camps." 

35. Women received their dead. 
The widow of Zarephath, 1 Kings xvii, 
17 f , and the Shunamite, 2 Kings iv, 
32 f. The writer implies that the 
result was due to the faith of the 
mothers as well as to that of Elijah 
and Elisha. The raising of the dead 
is put as a climax to the victories of 
Faith : but it leads at once to the 
thought of the martyrdoms of Faith : 
and the link is apparently in the 
stories told in 2 Mace. vi. and vii. of 
the martyrdom of Eleazar and the 
seven brethren ; especially in the 
pictiu-e given of the mother of the 
seven, who is contrasted with the 
two mothers just named, who re- 
ceived again their dead sons by " a 
raising from the dead." He was 
thinking of the mother's words to 
her seventh son (2 Mace. vii. 28, 29), 
"I beseech thee, my child, to lift 
thine eyes unto the heaven and the 
earth and to see all things that are 
therein, and thus to recognize that 
God made them not of things that 
were.... Fear not this butcher, but 
proving thyself worthy of thy bre- 
thren, accept thy death, that in the 
mercy of God I may receive thee 
again with thy brethren." The word 
in this verse rendered "tortured" 
means (see marg.) " beaten to death," 
and the corresponding substantive is 
used in 2 Mace. vi. of the instrument 
of Eleazar's death. A marked feature 
of his story is his refusal to " accept 
deUverance," although modes of 
evasion short of compliance were 
pressed upon him. 

a better resurrection: l.e. not a 
mere return to a mortal life, as in the 
cases of Zarephath and Shunem. 

There is definite reference to the 
words of the heroic mother quoted 
in the last note, 

36. mockings and scourgings. 
Both words are used in the descrip- 
tion of the suflFerings of the seven 

37. stoned; as Zechariah, 2Chron. 
xxiv. 20 f. 

sawn asunder. The traditional 
death of Isaiah. 

tempted : if the text is sound, it 
must be meant to set the pain of 
moral trials (as that suggested in 
V. 35, "not accepting their deliver- 
ance") by the side of that of the 
physical: but the word is doubtful. 

sheepskins. It is the word in the 
LXX (more definite than that in the 
Heb.) for the "mantle" of Elijah. 
It is the opposite of the "soft 
raiment" of Matt. xi. 8. 

38. of whom the world was not 
wo rthy : a parenthesis, not definitely 
coordinated with what follows any 
more than with what precedes. It 
is the reflection, which cannot be 
repressed, on the contrast between 
what they were and what their 
treatment was. Cp. with the pic- 
ture 1 Cor. iv. 11, "we both hunger 
and thirst and are naked and have 
no certain dwellingplace...We are 
made as the filth of the world, the 
ofi'scouring of all things." If we 
press for more definite explanation 
of the thought it may be either that 
they were the flower of mankind 
worth all the rest of the world, as in 
Ecclus. xliv. 7, "righteous Noah" is 
said to be " taken in exchange " for 
the world (it is possibly one of the 
phrases in which the influence of that 
passage can be felt); or, that all 
which the world had to give would 
be below their deserts. An epi- 
gi-ammatic saying seldom escapes 
possible ambiguity; but perhaps 

XL AND XII. 1-4] 



the two thoughts do not lie so far 
apart as to be necessarily distin- 
guished in the utterance. 

the holes of the earth. The defi- 
nite article "ifAe holes," seems to 
imply reference to a well known 
feature or to some particular in- 
stances. For the "caves" or "holes" 
(1 Sam. xiv. 11), fissures in the lime- 
stone of Palestine, and their relation 
to history, see Stanley's Sinai and 
Palestine^ ch. ii. 

39. having had witness home to 
them. See above, v. 2. 

received not the promise. Cp. ch. 
X, 36. The verb, in contrast with 
those used in vi. 12, 15, xi. 33, means 
" to receive back," " to receive in full 
payment of what is due." The pro- 
mise, in the singular number, is not 
a particular promise but the " thing 
promised," the true promise which 
was behind all promises, the "pro- 
mise of the eternal inheritance" of 
ch. ix. 15. 

40. provided; better, as in the 
margin, "foreseen." Providere, to 
foresee, was in Latin used in the sense 
of "to provide" ; but there is no proof 

that the Greek word here used ever 
had that sense. It is of God's fore- 
knowledge as explaining His order- 
ing. He " foresaw " (looked forward 
to) the more perfect settlement, in 
which we were to be concerned and in 
which they were to share with us the 
full and final reward of their faith. 

made perfect. The verb used 
means " to put into their final, com 
plete condition": in what respect, 
depends on the context. Here it is 
by the satisfaction of their hopes, the 
fulfilment of the promises to which 
they look. The expressions clearly 
helped to give material for the 
medieval pictures, based on 1 Pet. 
iii. 19, of the "harrowing of hell"; 
but they do not necessarily touch 
the question. The saints of old time 
are described all through this chapter 
as, to the end of their lives on earth, 
looking forward, " desiring " (ace. to 
Matt. xiii. 17) "to see" what, save in 
the prevision of faith, they did not 
see : it is assumed that their faith 
was to have its reward ; but the 
when and the how are not revealed. 

Faith, in our oivn lives, and in that of the Lord Jesus 

(xii. 1, 2). 

XII. 1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about 
with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside ^ every weight, 
and the sin which ^doth so easily beset us, and let us run 
2 with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto 
Jesus, the ^author and perfecter of our faith, who for the 
joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising 
shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the 
throne of God. 

^ Or, all encumbrance 

2 Or, doth closely cling to us Or, is admired of many 

* Or, captain 



[XI. AND XII. 1-4 

General Note on XII. 1, 2. 

These verses at once draw the lesson from the great catalogue, and add 
to it the Supreme Instance of Faith and its reward. 

XII. 1. Therefore. It is in the 
Greek the most emphatic particle for 
dra>ving a conclusion — the personal 
conclusion from the long catalogue. 

compassed. The figure in the 
original word belongs to the meta- 
phor of the "cloud." The "wit- 
nesses " are Uke " a bank of clouds 
around us," they close the horizon. 

tcitnesses. The Greek word does 
not mean "spectators," but "those 
who have given witness" — so many 
to testify to the reality of the life for 
which they lived and died. 

every weight. The exact figure is 
uncertain. The word is used in Greek 
medical writers for bulk of body, the 
superfluous flesh which training is 
directed to J'educe ; and this may be 
the sense here. But the word was 
used metaphorically of any trouble 
or encumbrance. In any case there 
is the general figure of an athlete 
preparing for a contest, as in 1 Cor. 
ix. 24 f. 

doth so easily beset us. The alter- 
natives offered in the margin indicate 
that the meaning of the word is 
doubtful. It is a Vord not found 
elsewhere. By etymology it should 
mean literally either "well stood 
about" or "well standing about." The 
simple adjective (without the "well") 
is found in both senses in classical 
Greek. In the first sense it would 
mean " crowded round," and so "ad- 
mired " ; and this meaning (marg. 2) 
has been given to it here, as though 
the meaning were "popular" sins. 
This is not impossible, but it is not 
the sense which the context leads us 
to expect. If we take the second, 
the figure may be either of the 

spectators who encumber the course 
(but the phrase "laying aside" or 
"putting off" is not very appro- 
priate) ; or of entangling gannents, 
"closely clinging" (see note on ch. x. 
1 1, " take away "). This on the whole 
seems the preferable. It should be 
noticed that it is not a question (as 
om* common use of the phrase seems 
to assume) of any specially "beset- 
ting" sin. The epithet and the 
thought are of sin, generally. 

with patience : lit. " through 
patience," i.e. in a continuing atti- 
tude of patience. 

2. looking unto. See on ch. xi. 
26, " looked unto." It is not the same 
verb, but it is compounded with the 
same preposition and with the same 
sense ; " looking away unto," looking 
away from our own troubles, past 
anything that would attract or 
frighten, fastening all our attention 
on the supreme Example. 

Jesus. See on ch. iv. 14. 

author [or captain] and per- 
fecter of {our] faith. " Our " is not 
wanted. The Greek article ^vith 
" faith " means " the faith " of which 
we have been speaking, of which so 
many instances have been given. 
He is not only one more in the cata- 
logue. He is the Leader in the great 
army, the Perfect Exemplar of the 
virtue which, " in many portions and 
in many modes," they have illus- 
trated. For the word translated 
"author" (or, "captain"), see on ch.ii. 

the joy, i.e. of vrinning the objects 
of His suffering. Is. liii. 11, "he 
shall see of the travail of his soul 
and shall be satisfied." 

XII. 5-11] HEBREWS 109 

set before him. The word is meant others despise them, is what men 

to recall the figure of the " race which most dread. He met it with its own 

is set before us." It may be noticed weapon. He despised it. 

also that in the Greek the word trans- hath sat down. The tense implies 

lated " endured " {vnefifive, i.e. en- that He sits there. This is the last 

dured patiently, see below on v. 7) reference to the prophecy which has 

is chosen to recall " with patience " been so much before us in the 

{8i vnoixovTJs) in V. 1. Jesus is to be Epistle. It serves to recall the past 

our pattern in all respects. argument. We are meeting most 

despising shame. The R.V. has directly and in a tone as of defiance 

done well to omit the interpolated the lingering Jewish misgiving at the 

" the " of A. V. It is a larger, and idea of a crucified Messiah : " the 

therefore a more pointed expression cross," "despising shame," " the right 

than " the shame," i.e. the shame of hand of the throne of God." 
the Cross. Shame, the sense that 

Introductory Note on XII. 3-end. 

The rest of chapter xii. is occupied 

(1) Vv. 3-11, with the suggestion of another aspect of the present state 
of distress, put chiefly in the tender and parental language of the Book of 
Proverbs ; the aspect of suffering as discipline, intended to perfect the 

(2) Vv. 12-17, with the warning against allowing their courage to be 
undermined from within. There must be no lurking taint of immorality, no 
Esau-like betraying of their birthright. 

(3) Vv. 18-end, with the contrasted picture of the circumstances of 
the two Revelations ; that of Sinai, and that of the heavenly Jerusalem ; 
with the same conclusion as that of ch. ii. 3, "how shall we escape if we 
neglect so great salvation?" 

XII. 3-11. Suffering as discipline. 

3 For consider him that hath endured such gainsaying of 
sinners against ^themselves, that ye wax not weary, fainting 

4 in your souls. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving 

5 against sin : and ye have forgotten the exhortation, which 
reasoneth with you as with sons, 

My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, 
Nor faint when thou art reproved of him : 

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth 
And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 

7 ^ It is for chastening that ye endure ; God dealeth with you 
as with sons ; for what son is there whom his father chas- 

8 teneth not ? But if ye are without chastening, whereof all 



[xii. 5-11 

have been made partakers, then are ye bastards and not 

9 sons. Furthermore we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten 

us, and we gave them reverence : shall we not much rather 

10 be in subjection unto the Father of ^spirits and live? For 
they verily for a few days chastened us as seemed good to 
them ; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers 

11 of his holiness. All chastening seemeth for the present to 
be not joyous, but grievous ; yet afterward it yieldeth 
peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised there- 
by, even the fruit of righteousness. 

1 Many authorities, some ancient, read himself. 

* Or, Endure unto chastening s Qj.^ ^y,. spirits 

3. consider. The Greek word is 
not the emphatic "consider" ("set 
all your thoughts on ") of iii. 1 and x. 
24, but means rather "compare," 
" strike the balance between " what 
He endured and what you endure. 

sinners against themselves. This 
is a translation of the best supported 
reading, and is explained by the 
words which are used in Numb. xvi. 
38 of Korah and his company, 
"these sinners against [lit. in the 
matter of] their own souls (or, lives)," 
and which passed into a proverbial 
phrase (so in Prov. xx. 2 ; cp. also 
Hab. ii. 10; 1 Kings ii. 23). For the 
full meaning of "themselves" in this 
rendering cp. note on ch. x. 34, 
"yourselves." It may be noticed 
that the " gainsaying (the same word 
as here) of Korah" is a phrase 
which occurs in Jude 11. They 
were their own worst enemies. 
They "knew not what they did." 
The phrase seems to have point 

(1) as reminding the readers that 
persecution was worse for the perse- 
cutors than for the persecuted : they 
may view it as their Lord viewed it, 
with pity for those who inflicted it ; 

(2) as suggesting another point of 
comparison between Christ and 

Moses. A.V, follows the alternative 
reading "against himself," which 
must then be taken (though the Greek 
is more diflicult) with " gainsaying," 
the thought then being as in 1 Pet. 
ii. 23, "follow his steps who... when 
he was reviled, reviled not again." 
"Gainsaying," like the Greek word 
which it renders, meant literally only 
"speaking in opposition to," but it 
implies a certain tone and temper in 
the speech. Vaughan illustrates it 
well by John xix. 12, where "speaketh 
against Caesar" (the cognate verb) 
implies "as a rebel." 

4f. Two reasons are suggested 
why the " looking away " from their 
own troubles to those which Jesus 
endured should fortify their resolu- 
tion. The first (v. 4) is stated in 
terms : they will feel that their own 
trials do not yet reach the measure 
of the Cross. The second {v. 5) is 
expressed more reticently ; but it 
can hardly but be that, in represent- 
ing their sufferings as the natural 
discipline of sons, the writer is 
recalling the temper of the Son who 
"learned obedience by the things 
which he suffered." 

4, 5. Better, " your resistance was 
not yet unto blood,. ..and you had 

XII. 5-11] 



forgotten, &c." The first verb is 
a simple past (aorist) tense, not a 
perfect, as our versions give it : and 
the second, though it may be a per- 
fect, can also be taken, and is better 
taken, as a pluperfect. The first 
refers to some definite moment of 
persecution in the recent past: the 
second to the state of mind which 
had preceded it. Mr Kendall argues 
with force that (apart from the greater 
accuracy) this rendering softens the 
harshness of the charge. Other 
editors (as Westcott), with the same 
purpose, have made the second clause 
interrogative, " Have you forgotten ? "; 
but the clauses then do not hang to- 
gether so well. 

sin ; here, as so often in the 
Epistle, with the special sense of 
the temptation to apostatize. 

5. exhortation ; a word which in 
its N.T. \ise is translated in the R.V. 
19 times out of 25 by "comfort" or 
"consolation," seven times (as here 
and in xiii. 22, where it describes 
the purpose of this Epistle) by " ex- 
hortation," once (2 Cor. viii. 4) by 
" entreaty," once (in this Epistle, vi. 
18) by "encouragement." The last 
two renderings indicate the link be- 
tween the first two. Its literal 
meaning is "calling from [one set 
of thoughts to another]." When it 
is rendered "exhortation" there is 
stiU a suggestion of tenderness in 
the tone and pui-pose. It is applied 
here fitly to the fatherly tone of the 
Book of Proverbs. With the personi- 
fication, "the exhortation which 
reasoneth," we may compare Luke 
xi. 49, " Therefore also said the wis- 
dom of God, I wiU send, &c." The 
quotation is from Prov. iii. 11, 12, 
Similar words are put into the mouth 
of Eliphaz in Job v. 17. 

reasoneth, or, "converseth." The 
word is chosen to indicate the tone 

of one who puts himself on the level 
of the person to whom he speaks, 
content to argue and hear reply. 

regard not lightly. Two attitudes 
in the face of Divine chastisement 
are deprecated ; stolid indifference, 
that does not trace the Hand or learn 
the lesson ; and despair, the de- 
spondency of which we hear so much 
in the Epistle. 

reproved. " Chasten " (the Greek 
word means properly to "treat as chil- 
dren ") is the more general word to 
describe the purposes of adversity ; 
it is "educational," disciplinary. 
" Reprove " describes one part of 
such discipline, namely the revela- 
tion to a man of his own faults : cp. 
Prov. ix. 8, " Reprove (it is the same 
word) a wise man, and he will love 

6. receiveth : i.e. recognizes as a 
son. The contrast is made plain in 
the explanation in v. 8. 

7. It is for chastening that ye 
endure. The verb rendered "en- 
dure " must have the same meaning 
here as in ch. x. 32, xii. 2, 3, and 
in the N.T. generally, viz. "bear 
patiently," not merely " bear." But 
this does not oblige us (as marg.) to 
translate the verb as imperative, 
" endure with a view to chastening." 
The Greek puts " for chastening " in 
the place of emphasis : it is there- 
fore rightly rendered "It is for chas- 
tening that, &c." The writer might 
have said " ye suflFer," but he substi- 
tutes "ye bear patiently," i.e. "In 
bearing patiently (he tenderly as- 
sumes that they do so) you are 
treating the suffering as chastening." 
It is the practical application of the 
quotation from the Proverbs. Then 
follow some arguments in support of 
the advice ; vv. 7, 8, "it is a proof of 
sonship"; vv. 9, 10, "the heavenly 
discipline has higher ends than that 



[XII. 12-17 

of earthly parents"; p, 11, "though 
painful at the moment, it leads to 
peace and righteousness." It should 
be noticed that R.V. is translating a 
different text from A.V., viz. "for," 
i.e. "with a view to" (eiy), instead of 
"if" (fi). The change so made is in 
accordance with all ancient MSS and 
other evidence. 

9. Father of spirits ; possibly a 
reminiscence of the expression which 
occurs twice in Numb. xvi. 22, xxvii. 
16, "the God of the spirits of all 

and live, i.e. in the highest sense 
of life. The meaning is indicated in 
the following sentence: the earthly 
discipline is with a view to "a few 

days," i.e. to a life itself short ; the 
heavenly with a view to a life of 
holiness, i.e. in union with God and 
therefore eternal. 

10. as seemed good to them ; a 
second difference between the human 
and the Divine chastening. The 
former will be wise or unwise, ac- 
cording to the judgement of the 
chastener. The latter goes unerr- 
ingly to the good of the chastened. 

11. peaceable fruit...[ fruit] of 
righteousness. The "fruit," or re- 
sult, of the discipline has two 
qualifications. It is peace after 
storms, peace of soul ; and it is 
righteousness, perfected character. 

XII. 12-17. Warning against moral inconsistencies. 

12 Wherefore Hift up the hands that hang down, and the 

13 palsied knees ; and make straight paths for your feet, that 
that which is lame be not ^turned out of the way, but rather 

14 be healed. Follow after peace with all men, and the sancti- 

15 fication without which no man shall see the Lord : looking 
carefully ^lest there be any man that ^falleth short of the 
grace of God ; lest any root of bitterness springing up 

16 trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled ; ^lest there 
be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one 

17 mess of meat sold his own birthright. For ye know that 
even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he 
was rejected (for he found no place of repentance) though 
he sought it diligently with tears. 

1 Gr. make straight. 
3 Or, whether 

12, 13. The two verses may be 
paraphrased : Wherefore (i.e. seeing 
that the present distress is a sign of 
God's love and has happy purposes) 
listen to the voices of your own 
Scriptures, of Prophet and Sage, 
which call you to hearten one 

^ Or, put out of joint 
* Or, falleth back from 

another for your journey to the 
Holy Land, and bid you clear one 
another's path from obstacles and 
stumblingblocks. The passages used 
are Isaiah xxxv. 3 and Prov. iv. 26, 

13. straight paths. The question 

XII. 12-17] 



has been raised wny a straight path 
is especially in the interest of the 
lame. The Heb. text of Prov. iv. 
26 (as represented in R.V.) has 
"level," which explains itself. 
"Straight" seems to be not so 
much part of a continuoiis meta- 
phor as a moral interpretation: see 
». 11 of the same chapter, where the 
Greek has again "straight paths" 
and the Heb. "paths of uprightness." 
The admonition is to take a clear 
and straightforward line. There is 
something of the same figure in ch. 
xiii. 9, "be not carried away (or, 
aside) by divers and strange teach- 
ings." They are to think in this 
matter of the effect of their example 
on the weaker brethren. 

be not turned out of the way. It 
has been proposed (as in the margin 
of R.V.) to translate eKrpau-^, instead 
of "turned out of the way," "put out 
of joint," which is a recognized medi- 
cal use of the word. This makes a 
continuous figure with the accom- 
panying word "be healed"; but it 
gives an unexpected prominence 
and emphasis to the metaphor and 
increases the awkwardness, already 
spoken of, in the epithet " straight 

14. Follow after peace. Like St 
Peter (1 Pet. iii. 11 ; cp.also Rom.xiv. 
19) the writer falls into the language 
of Ps. xxxiv. 14. "Follow after (or, 
pursue) peace" is equivalent to St 
Paul's " If it be possible, as much as 
in you Ueth, be at peace with all 
men" (Rom. xii. 18). It is a natural 
exhortation as addressed to the 
Hebrew Christians at the time, not 
to provoke persecution or mix in 
political movements ; but there is 
probably in view also the danger of 
internal dissension. See on ch. xiii. 

the sanctification \ not exactly 


"hoHness" (as A.V. and as in v. 10, i.e. 
the character of one who is holy) but 
"growth in holiness," "the process of 
making the character such as befits 
the consecrated." Strictness in the 
personal life is to be the complement 
of the attitude of peace towards the 
world outside. It is suggested that 
the words "without which, &c.," 
shew that the wi-iter had in mind 
the two Beatitudes which stand to- 
gether in Matt. v. 8, 9. See on ch. xi. 

15. The framework of the sentence 
and much of its phraseology come 
dii'ectly from Deut. xxix. 18 ; and 
the general purport is the same, 
viz. the danger lest among the 
Covenant-people there may be re- 
creants to corrupt the rest. 

falleth short of; more literally "is 
(continuously) falling behind from." 
It implies separation further and 
further from that Divine Grace 
with which he fails to keep pace. 
The words in Deut., which it re- 
places, are "whose heart turneth 
away from the Lord." 

lest any root of bitterness spring- 
ing up trouble [you]. The words in 
Deut, which this clause represents, 
are in the Heb. (R.V.) "lest there 
should be among you a root that 
beareth gall (LXX that shooteth 
forth in gall) and wormwood." One 
MS (the Alexandrine) of the LXX 
has the words in Deut. as they 
stand in this Epistle, "root of bit- 
terness... trouble [you]." Now the 
two words rendered from the LXX 
" in gall " are, with the transposition 
of two letters (eV x°^li — f'^ox^^X 
identical with the single word ren- 
dered "trouble you." It is clear 
therefore that there has been a con- 
fusion at some time between the two 
readings. Few will doubt that "in 
gall " was the original reading in the 




[XII. 12-17 

LXX. It may also have been the 
original reading in this place ; but 
on the whole the evidence points to 
the confusion having arisen in the 
text of the LXX and to the WTiter 
of this Ejiistle having found in it 
"trouble [you]." 

the many ; the general^ body of 
the Church. 

16. fornicator or profane per- 
son. The " root of bitterness " (i .e. a 
root of somepoisonous or mischievous 
weed which may spread in the soil) 
is a metaphorical description taken 
from the words of Deut. Two forms 
are then suggested which this evil 
influence may take : (1) personal evil 
living, (2) disregard of religious posi- 
tion and privilege. The first is the 
temptation always at hand (cp. xiii. 
4) and most fatal to the " sanctifica- 
tion" of V. 14. St Paul has another 
metaphor for its tainting effect on 
the Christian society, 1 Cor. v. 7 f. 

profane person. The common use 
of the word rendered "profane" is 
of places or things "unconsecrated," 
" open to the common tread." But 
it is also found of persons, and with 
a moral meaning, as in Bzek. xxi. 25 
(LXX and A.V.), "profane, wicked 
prince." It would mean here "with- 
out the religious sense." Esau in 
the story shewed this lack in treat- 
ing so lightly his birthright with its 
religious import, the priesthood of 
the family and the mysterious pro- 
mises. His levity and insensibility 
(Westcott) are strongly marked in 
the narrative in Gen. xxv. 34, "he 
did eat and drink and rose up and 
went his way : so Esau despised his 

17. aftericard: i.e. in the story 
of Gen. xxvii. In that case Esau is 
depicted as desiring to receive the 
firstborn's blessing. 

tjoas rejected. It is the technical 

Greek term for the rejection of a 
candidate for office on scrutiny as 
disqualified. Esau was "disquali- 
fied," by the course of events, by the 
ordering of God's Providence. 

place of repentance, i.e. an oppor- 
tunity of an effective change of pur- 
pose. It was a phrase of Latin law, 
locus poenitentiae ; but it is found 
in Greek in Wisdom xii. 10 as well 
as here, and in a passage of Clement 
of Rome (c, vii., "The Lord gave a 
place of repentance to those who were 
willing to turn to him "), a passage, 
it should be said, which is full of 
reminiscences of this Epistle. 

though he sought it. R.V., by 
putting "for he... repentance" into 
brackets as a parenthesis, indicates 
that " it " means " the blessing," not 
"repentance." The reference is 
clear to Gen. xxvii. 38, " Hast thou 
but one blessing, my father? 
Bless me, even me also, my father. 
And Esau lifted up his voice and 
wept." It would be possible also 
(removing the bracket) to take "i7" 
to be " repentance " (the Greek for- 
bids us to take it, as English readers 
are apt to take it, as "room foi 
repentance"). The sense is not 
materially altered. In any case 
'repentance" means here only 
"change of purpose." He had de- 
spised the blessing: now he desired 
it. He might be said either to seek 
the blessing or to seek an (effective) 
change of purpose. 

The instance of Esau has a closer 
relation to the Hebrew Christians 
than to ordinary cases of forieited 
opportunity. They are, in respect 
of the Gospel, as the natural heir of 
the firstborn's blessing who is in 
danger of letting it pass to others. 
See Acts xiii. 46. 

As the " for " in the next verse 
indicates, the thought of this instance 

xii. 18-24] HEBREWS 115 

of the irrecoverable loss of a blessing final comparison between the two 
is the link by which the winter passes Covenants iu i-espect of dignity and 
to the next passage (w. 18-29), his blessedness. 

XII. 18-24. The Old Covenant contrasted with 
THE New. 

18 For ye are not come unto '^amount that might be touched, 
and that burned with fire, and unto blackness, and darkness, 

19 and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of 
words ; which voice they that heard intreated that no word 

20 more should be spoken unto them : for they could not en- 
dure that which was enjoined. If even a beast touch the 

21 mountain, it shall be stoned ; and so fearful was the 
appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake : 

22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of 
the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, ^and to ^innumer- 

23 able hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of 
the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the 
Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 

24 and to Jesus the mediator of a new ^covenant, and to 
the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better ^than that of 

1 Or, a palpable and kindled fire 

2 Or, and to innumerable hosts, the general assembly of angels, and the 
church of, <&c. 

3 Gr. myriads of angels. * Or, testament ^ Or, than Abel 

18,19. As in ??. 15 the framework and was not read by Chrysostom, 

and much of the phraseology come who takes (as the margin of R.V.) 

from a passage of Deuteronomy (iv. " that might be touched " as an 

11, supplemented in this case from epithet of "fire," "palpable fire." 

Exod. xix.). "Ye came near... the This, though it is accepted by 

mountain burned with fire... black- Westcott, is strange and unlikely, 

ness and darkness and tempest. . .the for 

voice of words " are all phrases that (1) "palpable" is an English 

occur in the passage of Deut, phrase which has nearly lost its 

18. ye are not come, i.e. as your special meaning, and stands merely 

ancestors came, at the time of the for "sensible"; but there is no proof 

First Covenant, to Mt Sinai. that the Greek word had in the same 

[a mount.] A.V. reads " the way lost its literal sense. Whenever 

mount " as part oi the text. But the vei'b trom which it comes is used 

it is not found in the older MSS in the LXX or N.T. it has a very 




[xii. 18-24 

definite sense of "handling," "feel- 
ing," "groping about." 

(2) This rendering involves the 
further step of translating the fol- 
lowing words "a kindled fire" (see 
margin), a phrase to which it is diflB- 
cult to give any point, and which 
loses the connexion with Deut., which 
has the word in another sense, " the 
mountain burned with fire." 

If then "a mount" in the later 
MSS is only an interpretative gloss, 
it would still seem (as R.V. indicates 
by retaining it, but in italics) to give 
the true interpretation. It is evident 
that " a mount " was in the writer's 
mind when he began the sentence. 
The gist of it is a contrast between 
the two Covenants, as represented 
by Mt Sinai on the one side, with its 
lurid accessories, and on the other 
the idealized Mt Zion : cp. the con- 
trast in Gal. iv. 25, 26, " Mt Sinai in 
Arabia... Jerusalem that is above." 
As the sentence starts, it seems 
natural for the moment that the 
substantive in agreement with the 
participles rendered "that might be 
touched" and "that burned" should 
be omitted, because it was to come 
in the corresponding clause; but as 
the description recalled from Deut. 
iv. lengthens and draws other details, 
the contrasted "Mount Zion" does 
not come till v. 22. The writer shews 
that he is conscious that the paren- 
thesis has been long, by repeating 
there the key-word "ye are come." 
The omission of "a mount" in v. 18 
is, in other words, to be explained as 
one of the incidents (of which there 
are many) in which the Epistle ex- 
hibits the characteristics of spoken 
rather than written composition. 
To this explanation we may add a 
point noticed by Vaughan. He calls 
attention (in a note on v. 22) to the 
order of the words in that verse, 

which in Greek is Stwi/ opet, " Zion 
mountain," whereas in all the 23 
cases where this combination oc- 
curs in the O.T. the two words are 
placed in the LXX in the order 
"Mount Zion." An alteration of 
the usual order of words in Greek 
is always for the purpose of emphasis. 
The emphasis then is on " Zion," and 
this, he suggests, is because it is the 
word of contrast ; "Zion mountain" is 
set off against the mountain previous- 
ly described. In other words "moun- 
tain" is constructively indicated as 
the word common in thought to the 
two sentences. Thus the omission of 
the word in ». 18 is virtually supplied. 
that might he touched, \\i.'^'^\h^X was 
(or, is) touched." The verb of which 
these words represent the participle 
is used, as has been said, properly, not 
of merely "touching," but of hand- 
ling, sometimes of handling fre- 
quently, familiarly, as in 1 John i. 1, 
more often of handling without sight, 
" groping about," as of blind Samson 
"feeling the pillars," Judg. xvi. 26, 
or of the human spirit blindly "feel- 
ing after " God, Acts xvii. 27. What 
is its force and purpose here ? It is 
not one of the words used in the pas- 
sage of Deut. or Exod. ; yet it is so 
imbedded in the quoted words that 
it should have some relation to the 
picture presupposed. That pictm-e 
is, if we put the two passages to- 
gether, of the mountain as on fire 
above, where God "descended upon" 
it, and as wrapt in darkness below. 
The people are summoned to stand 
" at the nether part of the mountain," 
but are warned not to come beyond 
a certain point lest they should 
"break through unto the Lord to 
gaze," and perish. In a sense there- 
fore they are forbidden to "touch 
the mountain " (». 20 ; Exod. xix. 12). 
But they might also be spoken of as 

XII. 18-24] 



"groping about the mountain." What 
the writer is doing is to bring out the 
repellent aspect of the Old Cove- 
nant, the way (that is) in which 
those who were invited to come near 
were yet kept at a distance, denied 
real knowledge, real communion. Its 
features were darkness to hide, fire 
to terrify. The phrase "groped 
about" is taken up and explained 
in the following "blackness and 
darkness and tempest," as the 
aspect of more active terror is ex- 
panded in the following verses. 

19. sound of a trumpet. Exod. 
xix. 16, 19. 

intreated. Deut, v. 25f. ; Bxod.xx. 

20. If even a beast. Exod. xix. 
13. The additional words in A.V., 
" or thrust through with a dart," be- 
long to the passage in Exodus and 
were added to the text here. They 
are not found in the best MSS. 

21. \that'] Moses said. The words 
rendered "I exceedingly fear" occur 
in Deut. ix. 19, where Moses is de- 
scribing his sense of God's vsrath at 
the time of the Golden Calf. The 
word rendered "I quake" does not 
occur in the Pentateuch at all, but it 
is used of Moses in relation to the 
Burning Bush in St Stephen's speech 
in Acts vii. 32. On the other hand, 
in Exod. xix. 16, we read that "all 
the people trembled"; but the word 
in the LXX is not the one employed 
here. It would seem that the writer 
is following the detail of some tradi- 
tional account not knovm to us. The 
point is that even the leader, the 
"captain of their salvation," the 
"mediator of the Covenant," felt 
the terror as well as the people. 
It is the cUraax before he begins 
the picture of the New Covenant 
of mercy and grace. 

22-24. With Mt Sinai, as the 

scene of the Old Covenant, charac- 
terizing by its accessories of gloom 
and terror the Covenant itself, is put 
in contrast the "Mt Zion" of the 
New Covenant, that is, the Christian 
Church in its idea. It is viewed as 
the successor of the "Church in the 
wilderness," and as the fulfilment 
of its types and promises. It is de- 
scribed therefore chiefly in language 
borrowed from the O.T., but altered 
to indicate the superiority of anti- 
type to type. The points to be em- 
phasized are the dignity, vastness, 
variety of the great superhuman 
society, its security, its perfection. 
It is the compensation to the Hebrew 
Christian for what he loses. It forti- 
fies himagainst the contempt of those 
whom he leaves. The general feeling 
is of the union in it of earth with 
heaven, heaven brought to earth, 
earth lifted to heaven. But there 
is a progress between the first three 
categories and the last three : the first 
three containing what, on one side 
of it, belongs to earth — for he would 
have said with St John that he had 
seen the "new Jerasalem descending 
out of heaven"; the angels are 
viewed (i. 14) as "ministering 
spirits," the "firstborn" are still on 
earth, though their "title-deeds are 
in heaven": the last three containing 
what belongs wholly to the heavenly 
sphere — God the Judge; the dis- 
embodied spirits of those who in 
Him have attained their consumma- 
tion ; the Saviour at once as Moses 
on the Mount, and as the High 
Priest with the Blood within the veil. 
22. the city ; not as something 
different from "Zion mount." The 
"city of God" is the city on Mt Zion 
("great is the Lord and highly to 
be praised in the city of our God in 
His holy mountain," Ps. xlviii. 1). 
But, as the next words make clear, 



[XII. 18-24 

he does not mean the literal, material 
Zion, or the city on it, but the arche- 
typal, spiritual community, the "city 
which hath foundations" of ch. xi. 
10, the "Jerusalem that is above, 
which is our mother " of Gal. iv. 26, 
the "new Jerusalem which cometh 
do^vn from heaven" of Rev. iii. 12, 
xxi. 2, 10. And this again is spoken 
of in this Epistle, as throughout the 
N.T., sometimes (that is, in some 
senses) as something that is among 
us, which men have come to or may 
come to, sometimes as something 
still in the future, the object of 
hopes and dreams, the " city which 
is to come," ch. xiii. 14. 

22, 23. to innumerable hosts of 
angels, to the general assembly, &c. 
There has been doubt as to the 
punctuation of these clauses: the 
simplest arrangement is that given 
in the margin of R.V., " and to in- 
numerable hosts, the general as- 
sembly of angels, and the church, &c." 
" Innumerable hosts," literally " tens 
of thousands," is the general descrip- 
tion of the multitude of sympathizing 
companions whom the Christian 
finds. It is the answer in one word to 
the feeling, which is pressing on these 
Hebrew Christians, of isolation ; cp. 
Mark x. 30, 31. It is then broken up, 
"the happy throng of angels, and the 
church on earth with all its heritage." 
angels. "Tens of thousands of 
angels" are part of the picture of 
Sinai, Deut. xxxiii. 2. They are to 
be found, the writer says, no less in 
the Church of the New Covenant. 

general assembly. The word so 
translated {-nav-qyvpis), although 
meaning by etymology no more 
than this, had acquired a special 
force from its appropriation in 
classical Greek to the great national 
gatherings at Olympia and elsewhere 
for worship and athletic contests. It 

was used in the LXX in the same 
way for the national feasts of the 
Levltical Law. Its use here seems 
intended to indicate the attitude of 
the angelic host. They are present 
not (as in Jude 14) as ministers of 
judgement, nor as in Deut. xxxiii. as 
part of the awestriking surroundings 
of the Old Covenant, but as a gather- 
ing for joy and worship. Westcott 
compares the thought in Job xxxviii 
7 of the angels at the Creation when 
"the morning stars sang together 
and all the sons of God shouted for 

\the'\ church of the firstborn : 
rather "an assembly of firstborn 
sons." There is no definite article 
in either case. The word rendered 
" church " {fKKXrjala) is, again, a word 
of the Old Covenant, and signifies 
thefpeople assembled for collective 
action, whether of worship or con- 
sultation. The Christian assembly 
is called an assembly of "firstborn 
sons." It is possible that in the 
antecedents of the title as used here 
there are some links unknown to us, 
but some points are clear: (1) The 
designation of Christians as "first- 
born sons" has been helped, perhaps 
even suggested, by the contrasted 
case of Esau {v. 16), who sold his 
"birthright" (it is the cognate word 
— TrpcoToroKia— literally, "what per- 
tains to the firstborn"). (2) It is 
nearly akin to the figure common in 
the N.T., which represents Christians 
as " heirs of God," "joint heirs with 
Christ," heirs to a kingdom, Rom. viii. 
17 ; Gal. iii. 29 ; Eph. iii. 6 ; Jam. ii. 5 ; 
1 Pet. 1, 4. (3) Like the other ex- 
pressions in this description of the 
privileges of the Christian covenant, 
it has its roots in the language of the 
O.T. Israel collectively is God's 
"firstborn." This is made the ex- 
planation of the Passover deUver- 

Xll. 18-24] 



ance, Exod. iv. 22, 23. Individually, 
the firstborn sons of Israel belong 
specially to God ("on the day that I 
smote all the firstborn in the land of 
Egypt I hallowed unto me all the 
firstborn in Israel," JVumb. iii. 11), 
i.e. they were in idea priests, the 
priestly service of the tribe of Levi 
being represented as in substitution 
for the service of the firstborn 
(Numb. iii. 11-13, 40-42; cp. Luke 
ii. 22, 23). In the spiritual Israel all 
are firstborn sons, all are hallowed, 
all are priests. 

who are enrolled in heaven. The 
word is the same as that used of the 
"taxing" (Ii.V. " enrolment," or cen- 
sus, in Luke ii. 1). Similar figures 
are common, as Exod. xxxii. 32 ; 
Ps. Ixix. 28; Mai. iii. 16; Luke x. 
20. It is possible that there is a 
reference to the "numbering" of 
the firstborn in Numb. iii. 40 f. In 
any case the words add the thought 
that this dignity and privilege are 
theirs beyond the power of man to 
take away or question. The name of 
each is "written in heaven." 

God the Judge of all, or possibly, 
as Westcott, "the God of all as 
Judge." It is an O.T, phrase, as 
Gen. xviii. 25, "the Judge of all the 
earth." The thought is not so much 
of future judgement as of God's 
righteous government as a refuge 
for the oppressed, of God who wiU 
recognize and right them. 

the spirits ; not the hving only, 
but the righteous of all time, the 
" souls of the righteous [which] are 
in the hands of God," Wisd. iii. 1, 

"Spirits" in the same sense as 1 Pet. 
iii. 19. 

just men made perfect, not only 
as they are on earth, in imperfection, 
but who have attained their full 
growth. There is possibly a refer- 
ence back to xi. 40. That consum- 
mation which, under the Old Cove- 
nant, was necessarily delayed, has 
now for all become possible. 

24. to Jesus... and the blood of 
sprinkling. These stand last be- 
cause they gather up the threads of 
the Epistle, bring us back to its 

the Mood of sprinkling. The 
sprinkling of the blood of sacrifice 
was a part of several rites of the 
Law, as the consecration of the High 
Priest (see ch. x. 22), the purification 
of ceremonial uncleanness (ch. ix. 
13) and of a leper (Lev. xiv. 7) ; but 
the occasion thought of here is clearly 
that of the inauguration of the Cove- 
nant (see ch. ix. 19). 

thatspeaketh better than[that o/"] 
Abel; another reference (see on ch. 
xi. 4) to the words of Gen. iv. 10, 
"thy brother's blood crieth unto me 
from the ground." The words seem 
a substitution for such an epithet as 
"atoning" or "covenant sealing." Is 
it not a train of thought which would 
naturally occur to a Jew speaking to 
his countrymen of the Blood of 
Calvary? It was "innocent blood," 
the blood of the last and greatest of 
Martyrs : but it was not as the blood 
of the first martyr (Matt, xxiii. 35 ; 
cp. xxvii. 25) which cried for venge- 
ance on his murderer. 



[xn. 25-29 

XII. 25-29. The end of things. 

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they 
escaped not, when they refused him that warned them on 
earth, much more shall not we escape, who turn away from 

26 him Hhat warneth from heaven : whose voice then shook 
the earth : but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once 
more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also 

27 the heaven. And this ivord, Yet once more, signifieth the 
removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that 
have been made, that those things which are not shaken 

28 may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot 
be shaken, let us have ^ grace, whereby we may offer service 

29 well-pleasing to God, with ^reverence and awe : for our God 

is a consuming fire. 

^ Or, that is from heaven 

2 Or, thankfulness 

3 Or, godly fear 

25. See that ye refuse not him 
that speaketh. "Speaketh" is used of 
Revelation, as inch. i.l. We miss the 
link between the warning and v. 19, 
"they that heard in treated that no 
word more should be spoken to 
them," because we translate one 
and the same verb in the one case 
"intreated that no, &c.," and in 
the other "refuse." The word means 
literally "to deprecate," "to beg off," 
and so, more generally, "to decline." 
"Your ancestors," he is saying, "de- 
clined to hear and learn the lesson of 
Sinai. Do not you decline to learn 
the gentler lesson of Calvary." 

if they escaped not. This word 
also, after the writer's manner, is a 
link to an earlier warning, viz. that in 
ch. ii. 3, where, as here, he is con- 
trasting the Old and the New Reve- 
lation, "How shall we escape?" 

warned. See on ch. viii. 5. 

we. . .who turn away. Comparing 
the expression with ii. 3, we notice 
that the mere hypothesis "if we 

neglect," or "after neglecting," has 
become a definite charge, "we...«oAo 
turn away" (or perhaps rather "who 
are turning away," which leaves the 
doubt still open, "if we persist in 
turning away"). On the other hand 
we notice the retention still of we, 
in which the writer puts himself by 
the side of those whom he arraigns, 
and so softens the charge. 

Jrom heaven. Cp. ch. iii. 1, "a 
heavenly calling," and St Peter's 
words, 1 Pet. i. 12, "that preached 
the Gospel unto you by the Holy 
Ghost sent down from heaven." 

26. shook the earth. Two Greek 
verbs are used in this passage and 
translated by the same English verb 
"to shake." Both are used of an 
earthquake, and in particular of the 
earthquake as part of the terrors of 
Sinai. See Judg. v. 5 ; Ps. Ixviii. 9, 

but now he hath promised. The 
words are from Haggai ii. 6. The 
writer follows the LXX in reading 

XII. 25-29] 



"Yet once more I will shake," in- 
stead of the fuller clause of the Heb. 
text, "Yet once more it is a little 
while and I will shake." The change 
makes it more prominently the point 
of the prophecy that there is to 
come yet one and only one more 
shaking. The first "shaking" re- 
ferred to seems, from the preced- 
ing verse in Haggai, to have been 
the earthquake of Sinai. Jewish, 
as well as Christian, interpreters 
made the prophecy as a whole refer 
ultimately to the Messianic age. 
"That which escapes the final shak- 
ing," the writer says, "is permanent, 
eternal. The Messianic kingdom, 
which we Christians are accepting, 
is that which in this wi'eck of an old 
world is to stand unshaken." The 
picture of dissolution, and of 
failing hearts on the part of those 
who were witnessing the break-up 
of the Jewish polity, is to be com- 
pai'ed, both in substance and in the 
figures used, with the anticipation of 
that event in our Lord's discourses, 
especially in Luke xxi. 10 f. 

27. as of things that have been 
made ; i.e. of things belonging to the 
material creation. The material is 
to be dissolved, the spiritual alone 
to remain. As in the Gospel picture, 
we may say that the diflFerence be- 
tween the end of the Jewish Dis- 
pensation and the end of the world 
is lost in the foreshortened perspec- 
tive, or more truly that the spiritual 
character of the Christian Dispensa- 
tion so occupies the mind that the 
" new heavens and the new earth " of 
prophecy seem already to have 

28. receiving a kingdom. There 
is a resemblance in the Greek, too 
great to be accidental, to the words 
of Dan. vii. 18, where of the 
fifth, the Messianic, kingdom it is 

said that "the saints of the Most 
High shall receive the kingdom and 
possess the kingdom for ever." 

let us have grace. If this render- 
ing is right we may compare (with 
Westcott) Rom. v. 1, R.V., "let us 
have peace" — let us realize, use, 
God's grace. But the balance of ar- 
gument is for the translation of the 
margin, "thankfulness." Chrysostom 
and other Greek Fathers so take it. 
" To thank " is the translation of the 
two words {ex^iv xa'p'") iu combina- 
tion in all places where they certainly 
occur in the N.T. (in 3 John 4, 
which is quoted on the other side, 
neither reading nor meaning is with- 
out doubt), as it is the meaning of 
the phrase in classical Greek. Thank- 
fulness is specially in point here. A 
thankful recognition of their high 
privileges is the remedy suggested 
for their despondency and repining. 
It is here the condition of " service 
well-pleasing to God," just as in xiii. 
15, 16 the sacrifice with which "God 
is well-pleased" (the same word) is 
declared to be "praise" as well as 
"doing good." 

offer service, i.e. as always in the 
Epistle, priestly service : for Chris- 
tians are "priests" as well as 
" kings." 

reverence (or godly fear). See on 
ch. V. 7 and xi. 7. The temper 
which has been ascribed to the 
heroes of faith, and to the Christ 
Himself, is now commended to them. 

awe. It should probably be 
stronger, "fear." The Greek word 
is used generally, though not always, 
of physical fear, its common epithet 
in Homer being " pale." It is a word 
not found elsewhere in the N.T., and 
this fact, and possibly the desire to 
soften the expression, caused the 
later MSS to read, instead of biovs, 
aldoiis, i.e. " shamefastness " : see 

122 HEBREWS [xiii. 1-6 

1 Tim. ii. 9. No single phrase the thankfulness and well-pleasing 

comprehends all aspects of the service, an element of fear, to keep 

Christian life ; and there is a place you from backsliding ; for to us, as 

in the most filial religion for fear. was said to our ancestors (Deut. iv. 

The writer is pressing once more the 24), God is a consuming fire, a jealous 

example of Israel under the Old God." 
Covenant: "there must be, in all 

Introductory Note to ch. XIII. 

The Epistle, as an ordered rhetorical composition, comes to its appro- 
priate end with the peroration of ch. xii. The 13th chapter is more 
informal in style, and of the nature of a postscript. But it makes some 
notable additions to the general purport of the Epistle. The practical pre- 
cepts which it contains are particular enough to make it certain that we see 
in them some characteristics of the community to which it is addressed. 
Some of the tendencies suggested in the "patchwork of strange teachings " 
(». 9), i.e. the grafting on to Christianity of Rabbinical traditions about meats 
and the like, belong to the same cycle of ideas and practices as the angel wor- 
ship possibly hinted at in the earlier chapters. This idea of halting between 
two irreconcileable views, of eking out the new faith with heterogeneous 
additions, dictates the foi-m and substance of the chapter. It is the key to 
the appeal for that stability which would come from thinking of the un- 
changing Centre of their religion, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and 
to-day, yea and for ever " (w. 8); on a lower level, from thinking of their first 
teachers and predecessors in the faith, who had sealed their adherence by 
their death (v. 7); from thinking of their present leaders, of the value of 
obedience, of the claims of the community, of the strength which comes from 
sympathy, common worship, mutual charity {vv. 1-3, 15-17). It is this also 
that leads the writer to take a step beyond the position to which in the body 
of the Epistle he has limited himself. Hitherto he has been content to 
m-ge them not to fall away from their new behefs, to insist that in the 
Christian Dispensation they had all and more than all that the Law had 
professed to give them. Now for the first time we hear the clear call to 
come out and be separate, to choose once for ail between Judaism and 
Christianity {w. 10-14). 

XIII. 1-6. Postscript. Moraij exhortations. 

XIII. 1, 2 Let love of the brethren continue. Forget not 
to shew love unto strangers : for thereby some have enter- 

3 tained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, 
as bound with them ; them that are evil entreated, as being 

4 yourselves in the body. Let marriage be had in honour 
among all, and let the bed he undefiled : for fornicators 

5 and adulterers God will judge. ^Be ye free from the love 

XIII. 1-6] 



of money ; content with such things as ye have : for himself 
hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any 
6 wise forsake thee. So that with good courage we say, 

The Lord is my helper ; I will not fear : 

What shall man do unto me ? 

^ Gr. Let your turn of mind be free. 

XIII. 1. love of the brethren. It 
is in Greek a single word, ^tXaSeX(^ta, 
and in the next clause there is the 
coiTesponding word, (f)i\o$fvia, and 
each has the definite article, the mean- 
ing of this being probably "your love, 
&c.," i.e. the love which has been re- 
cognized and praised before (vi. 10, 
X. 34). He does not say " let it be 
acquired " or " learn it," but " let it 
continue," "do not forget it." At 
the same time the form implies that 
in the present circumstances, in the 
pressure of their own troubles, there 
was risk of selfishness growing upon 
them. " Love of the brethren " (cp. 
Rom. xii. 10 ; 1 Thess. iv, 9 ; 1 Pet. 
1. 22), i.e. love of fellow-Christians, as 
brothers in one household, was to be 
a bridge between the affection of 
the family and universal love or 
charity, 2 Pet. i. 7. It is expanded 
in the following clause in two practi- 
cal directions, viz. : to include readi- 
ness to entertain travellers, and sym- 
pathy with those who are imprisoned. 
In both cases it seems to be im- 
plied that they are fellow-Christians. 
Both are duties which were traced 
to the Mastei-'s express commands 
(Matt. XXV. 35, 36, cp. id. x. 41, 42). 
For the former see Rom. xii. 13 ; 
1 Pet. iv, 9 and cp. 1 Tim. v. 10; 
3 John 5, 6. It was especially looked 
for in "bishops," 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i. 
8. It must be remembered that to 
Christians the need of such enter- 
tainment was greater in that the 
natural ties of kinship and friend- 
ship had been to a great extent 

broken ; and that without it mission- 
ary work would have been impossible 
(Acts xxi. 16; Rom. xvi. 23). St John 
(2 John 10, 11) suggests a limit to the 
claims on such hospitality. A com- 
parison of Clement {ad Cor. i. and 
XXXV.) shews that the duty, even when 
welcomed at first, was apt, as feeling 
cooled, to grow irksome. 

2. some have entertained angels; 
with special reference, no doubt, to 
Abraham as the type of hospitality 
and of its reward; see Gen. xviii. 
Philo {de Abrahamo, c. xxii.) dwells 
on this feature of the story, and 
speaks of his "seeing three way- 
farers who looked like men, but who, 
though he knew it not, were of a 
more Divine nature." The same 
idea is found in Greek legend, as 
in the story of Baucis and Philemon 
(Ovid, Met. viii. 626 f. ; cp. Acts xiv. 
11). Cp. the argument of the un- 
named suitor who is shocked at the 
violence of Antinous towards the 
wanderer, Hom. Odyss. xvii. 483 
(transl. Worsley) : 
"Gods in the garb of strangers to 

and fro 
Wander the cities and men's ways 
discern, &c." 

3. them that are in bonds. See 
on ch. X. 34. 

as bound with them... as being 
yourselves in the body. " As bound " 
= not "as if you were bound," but 
"with the feeling that you are 
bound," just as the following words 
mean " with the feeling that you are 
yourselves in the body." The two ex- 



[xiii. 1-6 

pressions, though distributed in form 
between the two clauses, belong in 
meaning (with the necessary adapta- 
tion) both to each clause. The first 
is of the completeness of the fellow- 
feeling : the bonds of the one are to 
be felt as bonds of the other : it is like 
St Paul's "weep with them that 
weep," Rom. xii. 15, "if one member 
suflfereth all the members suflFer with 
it," 1 Cor. xii. 26, cp. the xxse of 
"suffer hardship with" {avyKanoTra- 
erja-ov), 2 Tim. i. 8, ii. 3. The second 
is of the natui'al groimd of sympathy, 
the common conditions, viz. the com- 
mon hmnanity and the common ex- 
posure to persecution. 

in the body. For the phrase cp. 
2 Cor. V. 6. 

4. [Let] marriage [be hacf] in 
honour. There is no verb in the 
Greek, and A.V. supplied "is" instead 
of "let. . .be" ; but the latter is shewn 
to be right by v. 5, where no one takes 
the words as stating facts. A similar 
omission of "let... be" occurs in Rom. 
xii. 9. It is possible that the precept 
looks not merely to the violation of 
the marriage tie, as suggested in the 
following words, but also (as included 
in the "strange doctrines" of ». 9) to 
some ascetic disparagement of it, 
such as that named in similar con- 
nexion in 1 Tim. iv. 3, "forbidding to 
marry and commanding to abstain 
from meats." In any case it is better 
probably to translate the second 
clause, as A.V., "and the bed [pro- 
vided it be] undefiled." With the 
command to hold marriage and all 
that belongs to it "in honour," cp. 

1 Thess. iv. 4, "in sanctification and 
honour," and the tone of Eph. v. 25 f., 
especially v. 32. 

among all, literally "in all," the 
substantive being, in Greek fashion, 
omitted. It is difficult to decide 
what the substantive supplied should 
be, whether persons, as in our ver- 
sions, "among all," i.e. both in the 
judgement of the wedded, that they 
observe its conditions sacredly, and 
in the judgement of others who 
think and speak of it, that none 
disparage it or treat it lightly; or 
things (as Westcott), i.e. "in all re- 
spects." See V. 18, where the same 
phrase is rendered "in all things." 

5. love of money, which, St Paul 
tells us, "is a root of all kinds of 
evil," 1 Tim. vi. 10. There, as here, 
the remedy prescribed for it is 

himself hath said. The words 
occur most nearly (they are there 
in the third person, Moses narrating 
God's promise to Israel when they 
are about to cross the Jordan) in 
Deut. xxxi. 6. It is an appropriate 
promise to recall, and it is quite 
natural in recalling it to turn it back 
into the first person. But it is to be 
noticed that Philo quotes the words 
in this same form, which has sug- 
gested that they may have been 
preserved so in some liturgical use. 

6. we say (more exact than 
A. v., "we may say") ; "we repeat 
with good courage the confident 
words of the familiar Psalm," Ps. 
cxviiL 6. 

XIII. 7-9] 



XIII. 7-9. Consistency of doctrine. 

7 Remember them that had the rule over you, which spake 
unto you the word of God ; and considering the issue of 

8 their ^life, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same 

9 yesterday and to-day, yea and ^for ever. Be not carried 
away by divers and strange teachings : for it is good that 
the heart be established by grace ; not by meats, wherein 
they that ^occupied themselves were not profited. 

Gr. manner of life. 

2 Gr. unto the ages. 

^ Gr, walked. 

7. them that had the rule over 
you. A.V. reads'/'them which have, 
&c." The change made in R. V. alters 
the reference of the sentence. In 
A.V. it is an injunction to give heed 
to their existing rulers as those who 
had been also their original instruc- 
tors in Christian truth. In R.V. it 
is to keep in memory leaders and 
teachers who have passed away. 
The later part shews that the 
second is the true meaning. The 
single word rendered "that had (or, 
have) the rule" is a present participle, 
which takes its definite time ("who 
are [or, who were] ruling") from the 
general purport of the sentence. In 
this case the time is defined by the 
relative clause, "who spoke [A.V. 
wrongly, *have spoken'] the word of 
truth." But in truth the participle 
in such a case is used rather as a 
substantive, "your leaders." Cp. Acts 
XV. 22, "It seemed good to the 
Apostles... to send Judas and Silas, 
chief men ('leading men,' it is the 
same word) among the brethren." 
The phrase recvu*s in vv. 17, 24. In 
those places it means "your present 
leaders," and designates, no doubt, 
those who held a definite position as 
oflBcers in the Christian body, but 
not as though it were an official 

title. The same general term is 
used by Clement of Rome {ad 
Cor. i.), although the distinction of 
orders is in his wiitings clearly de- 
veloped. Westcott draws attention 
to the absence from the present 
Epistle of all technical terms of 
Church organization. 

issue. The Greek word is not a 
common one, but it occurs in Wisd. 
ii. 17, "let us try what shall befall 
in the ending of his life," a passage 
which is probably in the writer's 
mind, dealing, as it does, with the 
same subject, viz. the lessons to be 
learnt from the bearing of a righteous 
man in the face of persecution and 

their faith : " their " represents 
the Greek def. article and possibly 
the meaning is "the issue [as you 
have seen it in their case] of the 
faith which we have just been de- 

8. R.V. has made the construc- 
tion easy by inserting the verb "is," 
which is certainly implied in the 
Greek. A.V, seems to have taken 
the words as an exclamation. 

yesterday and to-day, "in the 
past and in the present age, and to 
the most distant future." Cp. 2 Cor. 
i. 19, The thought is a link between 



[xm. 10-14 

what precedes and what follows. 
Consistency and constancy are the 
subject of the whole passage, vv. 7- 
10, and they are connected with the 
unchangeableness of Him Who is the 
author and object of the religion. 
The unchangeableness of Christ is 
the ground of the consistency of the 
martyrs' lives, which are held up as 
an example, and it leads the way to 
the thought that there must be the 
same consistency and the same 
ground for it in the teaching. 

9. carried away, literally "aside," 
as by a cunent, out of the right 

divers. The word loses the figure 
of the oi-iginal "many-coloured." 
Vaughan points out that it is the 
word used of Joseph's "coat of 
many colours." The thought is of 
a "patchwork," the mingling of Rab- 
binical, perhaps Essene, practices 
and teaching with those of Christ. 

strange, "alien," not matching 
their Christian teaching and com- 
ing from a different source. 

that the heart be established, i.e. 

"made firm." The phrase carries 
us back to the case of their prede- 
cessors in the faith (». 7) : that con- 
sistency and firmness in trial was 
due in them (and will be due in you) 
to "grace" (the writer would not 
distinguish the gracious Will of God 
without them from the gracious In- 
fluence acting as a power within 
them), not to "things to be eaten" 
(he sums up in one contemptuous 
word the rival system of seeking 
moral strength through carnal ordi- 
nances). It is the same contrast 
that is worked out more fully in 
ch. ix. 9f. 

were not profited. The system has 
been tried and has failed. 

they that occupied themselves : 
literally ' (as margin) "they that 
walked." It is the verb so fre- 
quent in St Paul, but which only 
occurs in this Epistle here. For the 
special use, cp. Acts xxi. 21, "to walk 
after the customs" — of ruling their 
life and habits by special customs or 

XIII. 10-14. "We have an altar," 

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which 

1 1 serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose 
blood is brought into the holy place ^by the high priest as 

12 an offering for sin, are burned without the camp. Where- 
fore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through 

13 his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us therefore 
go forth unto him Avithout the camp, bearing his reproach. 

14 For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek alter 
the city which is to come. 

Gr. through. 

XIII. 10-14] HEBREWS 127 

General Note on w. 10-14. 

From the protest in v. 9 against Judaistic teaching as a weakening of 
their Christian position and a betrayal of the One Unchangeable Centre of 
their religion, the writer is led to put, with a clearness which he has not 
reached before, the truth that Judaism and Christianity are incompatible. 
Their opponents are right in their sense of that. They must choose between 
the two. " You feel excluded," he says, "from the sacrifices of your coimtry- 
men. Yes — but you have a sacrifice from which they are excluded." He 
goes back to the statement of their privileges as Christians as they were set 
forth in chs. ix. and x. " We have an altar." " We have — let no one say that 
we have not — all, more than all, the comfort and strength for the spiritual 
life which our forefathers found in their sacrificial system. It is all we need, 
and it is all our own." This is all that ». 10 can mean distinctly to say. No 
special typical sacrifice is at the moment in view. Many of the sacrifices 
under the Law were eaten by the Priests. It was generally part of the 
symbolism of reconciliation and communion. St Paul, in 1 Cor. x., applies 
the figure to the Christian Feast upon the Sacrifice. It is probable that a 
similar application is in the background here. But in any case the figure is 
a natural one by which to say that the comfort and communion of the 
Christian Sacrifice were not for those who busied themselves still with the 
typical and superseded sacrifices of the earthly Tabernacle. 

But meantime another figure strikes the writer. Certain sin-offerings, 
and amongst them the sacrifice offered on the Day of Atonement, were 
excluded from the list of offerings of which the Priest was to oat. They 
were to be wholly burnt (Lev. vi. 30, xvi. 27), and for this purpose they were 
to be carried " outside the camp." And the Christian Sacrifice was such a 
sin-offering. And so Christ had fulfilled the type in suffering (literally and 
metaphorically) "without the gate," as though He was cast out from the sacred 
city, excommunicated by Priests and people. His followers must have the 
spirit to take their place by His side. 

10. We have an altar. The em- side the camp and burnt." It seems 

phasis in the Greek is on the verb, to us natural, almost inevitable, to 

"we have an altar," i.e. we are not, complete the figured contrast by 

as non-Christian Jews assert of us, adding that, as Christians, we have 

without an altar, and all that it in Sacramental symbol that power 

means to the conscience — "an altar," to eat of the sin-offering, which was 

he goes on, "in respect of which, by denied to the Jew; but though this 

the very terais of their own typical can hardly but have been in the 

Law, those who still worship in the writer's mind, he does not carry his 

Tabernacle cannot claim the full sign readers so far. The earlier part of 

of acceptance and communion, for the the typical figure passes out of sight. 

Sacrifice is just one of those sin- and he dwells only on the resem- 

ofi'erings which were specifically ex- blance between the burning of the 

cepted from the general rule that sin-offering "without the camp" and 

the priest should eat the flesh of the suffering of Jesus "without the 

the victim ; it was to be caiTied out- gate." 



[xiii. 15-17 

11. those beasts whose blood is 
brought. This is the definition in 
Lev. vi. 30, "No sin-ofi"ering, whereof 
any of the blood is brought into the 
tent of meeting to make atonement 
in the holy place, shall be eaten : it 
shall be burnt with fire." Cp. ibid. iv. 
7, 12, 18, 21, of sin-oflferings on behalf 
of the priest himself or of the con- 
gregation, and xvi. 27, where the 
same is prescribed for the sin-ofi"er- 
ings on the Day of Atonement. 

by. *^Gr. through." "The use of 
the preposition (did) 'through,' 
where we might have expected 
(vno) 'by,' is of interest. The 
High Priest is the agent through 
whom the act of the people is ac- 
complished " — Westcott. 

without the camp. They are the 
words of Leviticus, but they remind 
us of what has been noticed before, 
that the language throughout is of 
the Tabernacle in the wilderness, not 
of the contemporary Temple services, 
Harnack, who is concerned to press 
the hortative as against the doctrinal 
bearing of the Epistle, interprets 
"camp" as meaning not Judaism but 

the world: but this can hardly be 

12. Wherefore, i.e. so as to fulfil 
the type. 

sanctify: i.e. as a sin-ofi'ering re- 
stored the person for whom it was 
made to his place as one of the con- 
secrated people. 

13. his reproach, i.e. the reproach 
that He bore. See on xi. 26, "The 
reproach of Christ." The writer 
calls his readers to take their place 
manfully as Christians, facing the 
obloquy which it involves, and the 
excommunication from the Church 
of Judaism. 

14. The verse in both its clauses 
takes us back to ch. xi. 10 and 16. 
The reason why they should face 
with readiness what seems like ex- 
patriation is that, like their faithful 
forefathers, they sit loose to earthly 
ties; they are looking not to any 
visible city as though it were a per- 
manent home, but to "the one which 
is to be," the "city which hath 
foundations." They are at present 
"sojourners and pilgrims," 1 Pet. ii. 

XIII. 15-17. The sacrifices of the Christian 

15 Through him ^then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to 
God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make con- 

16 fession unto his name. But to do good and to communicate 
forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them : 
for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall 
give account ; that they may do this with joy, and not with 
^grief ; for this were unprofitable for you. 

^ Some ancient authorities omit then, ^ Gr. groaning. 

15. Through him then. It takes which Jesus is the High, Priest 
us back to ». 12: "we have an altar. Through Him (for the meaning of 
a sacrificial system, all our own, of "through" see note on v. 11, "by"), 

XIII. 15-17] 



then (that is, since we have parted 
once for all from the ineffectual 
Levitical system), let us offer our 
sacrifices." The sacrifice chosen is 
the thank-offering. It is implied 
that the sacrifice of propitiation has 
been already offered and accepted : 
all that remains is the giving of 
thanks, of which there is to be no 
break or end ("continually"). 

sacrifice of praise. The phrase 
used is the technical one for the 
thank-offering of the Levitical Law 
(Lev. vii. 12, &c.). It had ali-eady 
had a spiritual sense put upon it in 
the Psalms, as 1. 23, "the sacrifice of 
thanksgiving" (R.V.), and cvii. 22. 
The phrase is adopted and applied 
in our Liturgy ("this our sacrifice of 
praise and thanksgiving") to the 
Holy Eucharist as a supreme office 
of thanksgiving {ivxapifni^o)., as "to 
do good, &c." {v. 15), is made one of 
the offertory sentences which call us 
to giving "alms and oblations" as 
part of the Eucharistic oft'ering. 

fruit of lips; "not the produce of 
land or flock, but of thankful heart 
and lips." It is a phrase of the O.T., 
Isaiah Ivii. 19, Hos. xiv. 2, LXX (our 
versions, directly from the Hebrew, 
have " the calves of our lips," A.V. ; 
"«s bullocks the offering of our lips," 
R.V.). The origin of the figure is in 
such passages as Ps. li. 15-17. 

confession; in the sense of "ac- 
knowledgement." To make "acknow- 
ledgement to God's name" is to 
acknowledge with thankfulness that 
He is what He has revealed Himself 
to be. 

16. to communicate ; more simply, 
"to share," to share with others any 
good things that we have ourselves. 

forget not. The form, as in v. 2, 
"Forget not," and in ». 1, "Let love... 

continue" (see note on v. 1), implies 
that they have not to learn the virtue, 
but to continue its practice (see ch. 
vi. 10). 

with such sacrifices ; more exactly, 
"such are the sacrifices with which." 
They include probably both the thank- 
ful hearts of ®. 15 and the kindly acts 
of V. 16. Kind action and generous 
giving are spoken of as a "sacrifice 
acceptable, well-pleasing to God" in 
Phil. iv. 18. 

17. them that huve the rule. Their 
present, as in v. 7, their past, 
leaders. For the meaning of the 
phrase see note there. 

obey... submit. The two words 
together emphasize the precept of 
deference and discipUne, but their 
exact distinction is not certain. The 
second is the stronger, so that it 
is perhaps "obey even if it involves 
submission of your own will." 

watch, literally "are sleepless." It 
is the word used in Mark xiii. 33, 
'"'' watch and pray," as in Ps. cxxvii. 1, 
"Except the Lord keep the city the 
watchman waketh but in vain." Note 
also that the figure of a watchman in 
spiritual matters is familiar in the 
Old Testament, as Isaiah Ivi. 10, &c. 

do this; i.e., probably, give ac- 
count. But it has also been taken 
of the watching. 

with grief As the margin notices, 
it is a strong word, "groaning," 
"with lamentation" — a rhetorical 
substitution in order to emphasize 
the serious mischief of self-will and 
indiscipline in the Church. 

unprofitable; according to a fa- 
miliar classical idiom, a milder word 
is substituted by a kind of irony for 
the stronger one intended, the true 
meaning being "disastrous." 



[xiii. 18, 19 

XIII. 18, 19. "Pray for us." 

18 Pray for us: for we are persuaded that we have a good 

19 conscience, desiring to live honestly in all things. And 
I exhort you the more exceedingly to do this, that I 
may be restored to you the sooner. 

18. Pray for us. It is literally 
"about us," as in 1 Thess. v. 25 and in 
other places ; and is analogous to St 
Paul's expression (Rom. i. 9, &c.), 
"make mention of [us] in prayers." 

us... we. The question is raised 
whether the "us" and "we" of v. 18, 
as compared with the "I may be re- 
stored" of V. 19, are an instance of 
what has been called the "epistolary 
plural," or whether they are intended 
to associate other persons with the 
writer. It is a familiar question in 
respect of St Paul's Epistles. See, 
for instance. Col. iv. 3, 4, "praying 
for us that God may open unto us a 
door for the word, to speak the 
mystery of Christ, for which also I 
am in bonds, that I may make it 
manifest, &c." Lightfoot, on that 
passage, denies that there is any 
reason to suppose that St Paul ever 
uses the "epistolary plural," and 
takes it and all plurals like it of 
himself and bis companions in the 
preaching of the Gospel. 

we are persuaded, A.V. "we trust." 
The alteration is made because of an 
alteration in the reading in the Greek, 
a present tense, middle or passive, in- 
stead of an intransitive perfect. It 
would perhaps be better translated 

"we persuade ourselves," i.e. "we 
would fain believe." It is a more 
measured and hesitating statement 
than "we trust." There is in it a 
tone of appeal, as though he said 
"Think the best of us." See the 
next note. 

agood conscience. live honestly. 
We lose something from the difficulty 
of indicating in the translation that 
"good" and "honestly" are the cog- 
nate adjective and adverb {koK/jv, 
/caXws). In both cases (as Westcott 
points out) there is the characteristic 
sense of koXos, as describing "that 
which commands the respect and 
admiration of others." The wi-iter 
desires not only to satisfy his own 
conscience but to carry the approval 
of those to whom he writes. The 
tone implies, what seems to be im- 
plied in V. 19, that he has lived 
among them or been well-known to 
them. It seems to imply also that, 
perhaps on account of his attitude 
towards the Jewish Law, he has been 
criticized adversely and, as he thinks, 

19. restored. He is kept from 
them at the moment, but how it 
cannot be guessed. 

XIII. 20, 21] HEBREWS l31 

XIII. 20, 21. The writer's prater. 

20 Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the 
great shepherd of the sheep ^with the blood of the eternal 

21 covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every 
good 2 thing to do his will, working in ^us that which is well- 
pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ ; to whom he the 
glory for ^ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Or, by Gr. in. ^ Many ancient authorities read worh. 

* Many ancient authorities read you. * Gr. unto the ages of the ages. 

General Note on w. 20, 21. 

This benediction, the second ending of the Epistle, is meant to recall and 
give final expression to many of the topics. It begins with peace, after 
the suggestions of dissension, despondency, and distress with which it has 
abounded. The framework is given by two passages in the O.T., viz. Zech. ix. 
11, "Because of the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners 
out of the pit wherein is no water," and Isaiah Ixiii. 11, " Then he remembered 
the days of old, Moses and his people, saying : Where is he that brought 
them up out of the sea with the shepherds (v. I. shepherd) of his flock?" (the 
LXX has " he that brought up out of the sea the shepherd of the sheep ? "). 
There is the presentation of Jesus as the centre and source of all Christian 
believing and living ; and so also as the fulfilment of all types, both in the 
sacred history and in the rites of the Law. He is once more the greater 
Moses, delivered with His people from death as Moses and Israel from "the 
sea." (The Resurrection has not been mentioned before in word in the 
Epistle: it is swallowed up generally in the Ascension: but it and the 
deliverance which it wrought are latent in the argument of ch. ii. 14, 15.) And 
there is once more the association of the deliverance with the High 
Priestly work of atonement, the " blood of the Covenant," the better, the 
eternal, Covenant. 

There is perhaps one more thought, suggesting or suggested by the 
passage of Isaiah, in the title for our Lord, "the Shepherd, the great one." 
It is hke the " Chief Shepherd" of 1 Pet. v. 4, and, like that phrase, may be 
meant to carry with it the thought of the under-shepherds— the "watch- 
men" of V. 17, whose claims he has been pressing on their flock. In this 
single title he reminds his readers on Whose behalf they advance the 

20. the God of peace. Peace is force and emphasis when 'the pre- 

commonly part of the concluding, as ceding Epistle has dealt in rebuke or 

of the opening, words of an Apostolic has revealed dissension, as in 2 Cor. 

Epistle (1 Pet. i. 2, v. 14; 2 John 3; xiii. 11, Gal. vi. 16, and in this place. 

3 John 14). It comes with special The phrase, "the God of peace," 




[xili. 20, 21 

is found frequently in St Paul's 
Epistles (Rom. xv. 33, xvi. 20; 
2 Cor. I.e.; Phil. iv. 9; 1 Thess. v. 
23, "the Lord of peace himself give 
you peace"; 2 Thess. iii. 11) asso- 
ciating "peace" with the Name of 
God as belonging to His Nature, or 
as that which He loves, or as His 
special gift. 

the great shepherd. It is more 
emphatic in the Greek, "the shep- 
herd. . .the great one." With the use 
of "gi-eat" cp. the "great high priest" 
of ch. iv. 14, and "great priest" of x. 
21. He is a second Moses, but "of 
more glory than Moses," iii. 3. 

with the hlood. The Greek is "in," 
i.e. "in virtue of"; cp. ix. 25, x. 19. 
Vaughan translates "with the pass- 
port of" He points out that the 
Blood of the availing Sacrifice has 
already been spoken of as giving ad- 
mission to the Divine Presence : what 
is new here is that it is spoken of as 
also giving egress from death. 

the eternal covenant., rather "an 
eternal covenant." It recalls the 
whole argument of cIl ix. 11 foil. 

21. make you perfect; not the 
vei"b used in iii. 10, x. 1, 14, xii. 23, 
but the one used in 1 Pet. v. 10 
("perfect"), Luke vi. 40 ("perfected"), 
1 Cor. i. 10, 2 Cor. xiii. 11, Gal. vi. 1 
("restore"), and in this Epistle x. 5 
("prepare"), xi. 3 ("framed"). It 
"includes the thoughts of the har- 
monious combination of different 
powers (Eph. iv. 12), of the supply 
of what is defective (1 Thess. iii. 10), 
and of the amendment of that which 
is faulty" (Westcott). 

to do... working. The Greek has 
the same verb in the two clauses, 
which draws attention to the double 
view of such actions as at once our 
own, and not our own, but God's. 
Cp. Phil. ii. 12, 13, "work out your 
own salvation... for it is God that 
worketh in you both to will and to 
work" : in that place R. V. has kept 
the same verb throughout. 

in us. The Sinaitic MS has "in 
us," the Alexandrian "in you." The 
latter is the simpler, but the change 
from the second person to the first 
in such cases is common and natural. 

through Jesus Christ. It may be 
doubted whether these words are 
best taken with "make you perfect," 
or with "working in us," or with 
"well-pleasing in his sight." Per- 
haps, as at the end of a prayer, they 
qualify the whole process which has 
been set forth. 

to whom [6e] the glory. Cp. Gal. iii. 
5 (with Lightfoot's note) and 1 Pet. 
iv. 11 (with Bigg's note). The result 
vnll probably be to convince us 
(1) that it is of the nature of 
a formula as from an incipient 
liturgy; the "Amen" indicates this. 
Cp. the Doxology added to the Lord's 
Prayer; "the glory " = "glory, as al- 
ways"; (2) that the verb to be sup- 
plied is is, rather than he; (3) that 
in this place, as in 1 Pet. iv. 11, the 
ascription is to the Divine Person 
named last, the Son. There is a 
special appropriateness in this final 
tribute to Him whose Person and 
work it has been the chief purpose 
of the Epistle to set forth. 

XIII. 22-25] 



XIII. 22-25. Last words and salutations. 

22 But I exhort you, brethren, bear with the word of exhorta- 

23 tion ; for I have wi'itten unto you in few words. Know ye 
that our brother Timothy hath been set at liberty; with 

24 whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them 
that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of 
Italy salute you. 

25 Grace be with you all. Amen. 

22. But. The particle breaks off 
the previous train of thought in 
order to meet a fear that occurs to 

brethren. See note on x. 19 as to 
the places in which the writer uses 
this address. 

hear icith. It is the same verb as 
in 2 Tim. iv. 3, "will not endure 
[wholesome teaching]." 

word of exhortation. The phrase 
occurs in Acts siii. 15. For the 
shade of meaning of "exhortation" 
see note on ch. xii. 5. 

for I have written. Is this a 
reason for his apologizing, or the 
apology itself? In the first case it 
is, "I exhort you to bear... for I 
have had to omit much which might 
have put my case better." In the 
second, "for I have tried not to 
weary you," "I stop for your sake, 
not because my arguments are ex- 
hausted." In any case, the repeti- 
tion of the word "exhort... exhorta- 
tion," seems almost playful, "Let me 
finish my exhortation by exhorting 
you to be patient with it." 

23. our brother Timothy. Two 
uses of the word "brother" seem to 
be distinguished: (1) simply as a 
title, "the member of the Christian 
brotherhood," much as in the French 

Revolution "citizen" became a title. 
This is frequent in St Paul's Epistles, 
of Timothy, Sosthenes, Quartus, &c. ; 
as 1 Cor. i. 1, "Paul called to be an 
Apostle. . .and Sosthenes our (Gr. the) 
brother." That it is not found in the 
Epistles of other writers is due prob- 
ably to the fact that they have not 
the personal opening and ending 
which his have ; (2) with the addi- 
tion of a personal pronoun in the 
genitive case, "my brother," "your 
brother," &c. — often also with a 
second descriptive designation, as 
Phil. ii. 25, "Epaphroditus my {(lov) 
brotherandfellow-worker and fellow- 
soldier." This is the use here, for in 
the best text the pronoun "our," "of 
us," is present. It expresses there- 
fore some common interest of an 
affectionate kind as between Timothy 
and the wiiter and readers of the 

set at liberty. The word is a 
general one, covering release or 
dismissal of any kind, and there is 
nothing fmther to interpret it. 

shortly; literally "at all speedily." 

24. them that have the rule. See 
on verses 7 and 17. 

They of Italy. This, again, is an 
ambiguous phrase. A person writ- 
ing from Italy would use it, meaning 



[xili. 22-25 

"those who are here in Italy," a 
person writing to Italy would use 
it,meaning" those here who belong to 
Italy," and, again, a person writing 
from any place to any place might 
say "our friends from Italy," mean- 
ing thereby some persons who by 
that title will be recognized by the 
recipients of the letter. It therefore 
gives no certain indication of the 

position of the writer or the destina- 
tion of the Epistle. 

25. Grace. It is in the Greek "the 
grace," as in Eph. vi. 24; Col. iv. 18; 
1 Tim. vi. 21 ; 2 Tim. iv. 22; Tit. iii. 
15. The article implies that the 
phrase had become an habitual one. 
It seems to be interpreted by St 
Paul's earlier use " The Grace of our 
Lord Jesus Christ." 



Addressed to those who were at once Jews and Christians, the Epistle 
evidently assumes, as behind it in the minds of writer and readers, the 
sacred history of the Old Testament — the outlines of its narrative, its 
estimates of persons and events, its prophecies. How far has it also behind 
it the traditions which were, already or afterwards, embodied in any of the 
four Gospels? 

With respect to the Life of our Lord we find enough to assure us that 
a knowledge of the general story, as we have it, was assumed between the 
wi'iter and those to whom he wrote. 

The definite references are to : 

The Birth. "Our Lord hath sprung out of Judah," vii. 14. The meeting 
in Him of the Divine and Human Natures is of the essence of the argument 
of the Epistle : "Jesus, the Son of God" (iv. 14). The reality of each Nature 
is insisted upon (i. 1-3, ii. 13, 14). 

Preaching (ii. 3). 

Temptation (ii. 18, iv. 15); but probably rather in respect of the trial 
through sufferings (Luke xxii. 28) than of the story of the Temptation in 
Matt, iv., Luke iv. 

Gethsemane (v. 7). The phrases generally carry us back not so much to 
the Gospel narrative as to the prophetic picture of Ps. xxii., but " him that 
was able to save him from death" and "for his godly fear," though not 
verbally reminiscent of the Gospels, can hardly but have some reference to 
the prayer, "all things are possible to Thee," "let this cup pass from Me," and 
the saving clause, "not My will but Thine." 

The Crucifixion. Besides the many references to the "Blood" and the 
"offering of the Body," there is definite mention of the Cross in vi. 6, xii. 2, 
and of the locality, "without the gate," xiii. 12. 

The rending of the Veil (x. 20). The reference is not absolutely certain, 
but it explains the figure in that place as nothing else does. 

TTie Resurrection does not occupy as much place in this Epistle as in 
many others, because it is thrown somewhat into the background by the 
prominence of the Ascension, but it is implied in v. 7, "to save him from (i.e. 
out of) death, and was heard." It is implied (as Westcott points out) more 


largely in the assumption throughout the Epistle of the permanence of 
Christ's perfect humanity through death. It is definitely spoken of only in 
xiii. 20. 

The Ascension (iv. 14). When the clue is given, that the wi-iter sees in 
the Ascension the antitype (wholly or in part) of the High Priest's entrance 
into the Holy of Holies with the Blood of Atonement, we see the thought of 
it as permeating much of the Epistle, 

The gifts of the Spirit (ii. 4). 

The expected Return to Judgement (ix. 28). 

We may add to these two possible references to the institution of the 
Lords Supper : 

(1) In the phrase "a remembrance of sins" (s. 3). 

(2) In "this is the blood of the Covenant" (ix. 20). 
See the notes on those two passages and also App. ri. 

In addition to these references, more or less clear, to points in the 
Gospel story, there are some less certain echoes of ideas, sayings, and phrases 
which found place in one or more of the Gospels. Such are : 

{a) The application, throughout the Epistle, to the Ceremonial Law of 
the principle enunciated in Matt. v. 17, that Christ came "not to destroy 
but to fulfil." 

(&) Apparent reminiscences of three of the Beatitudes. See notes on 
xi. 26, xii. 14. 

(c) The aspect of the sufferings of Christ as in themselves glorious and in 
accordance with the fitness of things (ii. 10; cp. Luke xxiv. 16), and yet, as 
is implied in much of the argument of the Epistle, and as is put into words 
in John xii. 34, something that to the Jews required apology. 

{d) The use of quotations which are represented in the Gospels as 
having been frequently on our Lord's lips, as the words of Ps. ex., "Sit thou 
on my right hand," which plays such a large part in the Epistle : cp. Matt. 
xxii. 44; Luke xxii. 69; cp. also Mark xvi. 19. 

(e) Such also perhaps is the phrase "to bear the sins of maw?/," ^which 
comes originally from Isaiah liii. 12. Cp. Heb. vii. 28 with Matt. xx. 28, 
xxvi. 28. 

(y) "God is not unrighteous to forget your work, &c.," vi. 10, seems to 
rest on such assurances as Matt. x. 42. 

It is to be noticed that there are some parallels in thought and expres- 
sion between the Epistle and St John's Gospel, as 

(a) Though there is no identity of phrase or appearance of borrowing by 
one or the other, the Logos doctrine of i. 1-3. 

The whole doctrine of Christ as the Revelation of the Father (i. 2), the 
"very image," the "effulgence" (for "God is Light," 1 John i. 5), is antici- 
pated or summed up in the words attributed to the Lord Himself (John 
xiv. 9), "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." 

(6) The description of the Incarnation, ii. 14; John i. 14. 

(c) The presentation of Christ as the High Priest of humanity. Cp. John 
xvii., esp. vv. 17-19. 

{d) The comparison of the Son and the servant, iii. 5, 6 ; John viii. 35 

(e) "He glorified not himself," v. 5; cp. John viii, 54. 


It is also of interest to observe, however it be explained, that there 
occur two rather close parallelisms with the last, and disputed, verses of St 
Mark. See Mark xvi. 19, "Sat down on the right hand of God," the phrase 
being used, as in the Epistle, of the Ascension, and id. xvi. 20 as compared 
with Heb. ii. 4. 



The position of the two Sacraments in the Epistle is noticeable and 
points to a general characteristic of the writer's purpose. 

On the one side, one cannot read the Epistle without perceiving 
that they were within the wi-iter's consciousness as part of the historical 
tradition and part of the actual Christian life, and that their existence 
would give point to what he said in the minds of his readers. On the 
other hand they are not appealed to nor enforced nor definitely explained 
even at places in the argument where it might have seemed natural. 
"Baptisms" (that is, evidently from the context. Christian Baptism as 
compared with other ceremonial washings with which as Jews they 
would have been familiar) are named in passing, in vi. 2, among the 
rudiments of a Catechumen's instruction. In x. 22, 23 the juxtaposition 
of the figure, "our bodies washed with pure water," and the exhortation to 
"hold fast the confession" (cp. 1 Pet. iii. 21), and the whole context which 
makes this an introduction to the enforcement of the obligations of a 
Christian to the Christian society, make it hard to doubt that the writer 
had in mind, and that his readers would have in mind, Holy Baptism. But 
yet the "sprinkling" and "washing" in this passage belonged in the first 
place not to a Christian Sacrament, but to the consecration of a High Priest 
under the Jewish Law. They have, in the Epistle, a spiritual explanation 
and there is no need for the introduction, at the moment, of a further 
symbolic interpretation. Directly we try to put such a definite symbolical 
interpretation on the words we are in difficulties. What is meant by the 
"sprinkling of blood" that is not meant by the "washing with pure water"? 
Yet is one to be interpreted of Baptism and the other left without the 
secondary interpretation? Some have tried, with even less support and 
probability, to take the two parts of the figure severally of the two 

Similarly there are phrases which, when put together, leave little doubt 
in our minds that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was to writer and 
readers a familiar part of Christian practice. There is some reason to think 
(as has been said in App. i.) that the words of Institution were in the 
writer's mind in x. 3 and ix. 20. The "assembling of themselves together," 
which some are charged (x. 25) with "forsaking," though the purpose men- 
tioned at the moment is the general one of strengthening their corporate 


feeling, of "exhorting one another," was yet connected, too closely for the 
fact to be altogether forgotten, through the "breaking of bread" with the 
whole cycle of ideas — the Atonement, the "oflFering of the Body," the 
"drawing near" — with which the wn-iter is dealing. In the same way 
the language used in xiii. 10, the "Altar of which they have no right to 
eat who serve the Tabernacle," followed as it is by the sacrificial figures of 
verses 15 and 16, must indicate that somewhere in the writer's mind were 
the thoughts of the Christian Feast upon a Sacrifice, of the Christian 
Eucharist with its thanksgiving and its call to give ; but yet these are 
in the backgi-ound, not the direct object on which his eyes are set. 

The reason why he stops just where he does is obvious. His purpose 
was to shew to Jewish Christians how everything in the old Law was meant 
to lead to and end in Christ — to lift his readers from type to antitype — to 
shew them the personal and spii-itual meaning of that sacrificial system to 
which they looked back. It was a system of "shadows," and the "body was 
of Christ." 

This was the lesson for the moment. It would have hindered, not 
helped, his purpose if he had said anything which could be taken by 
men of the mental attitude of his first readers to mean "as Christians 
we also have a system of typical ordinances, retrospective as those of the 
Old Covenant were prospective." If he had meant to say anything of the 
kind, if he had meant to explain at all the relation of the Christian Sacraments 
to Jewish types, he would assuredly have said what he wished to say more 
fully and definitely and with more provision against misconception. This is 
not to say that there is not in this Epistle, as there is in all Holy Scripture, 
a sense of a purpose someichere, larger than the intention at the moment of 
the writer, nor that it is not legitimate for us to draw conclusions from the 
writer's arguments which yet would have been beyond his immediate 



Tlie present and practical value of the Epistle cannot be better illustrated 
than by the use made of it in our Liturgy. 

I. On its doctrinal side, as the witness to the full significance 

(1) of the Incarnation — we read ch. i. 1-12 as the Epistle for Christmas 
Day, to match the Gospel from John i. 1-14 ; 

(2) of the Atonement — we read the whole passage from ch. ix. 11 to x. 23, 
dividing it between the Epistles for Passion Sunday, Wednesday before 
Easter and Good Friday; 

(3) of the Ascension — we read ch. iv. as the Evening Lesson for Ascension 


We may add 

(1) The influence of the Epistle which is to be felt in the wording of the 
Nicene Creed, "Light of Light, Very God of very God"; op. "theeflfulgence 
of his glory, and the very image of his substance." 

(2) The large part which the teaching of the Epistle occupies in the 
Communion Service — especially in the Prayer of Consecration : "the oblation 
of Himself once oflFered," the "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice"; cp. ch. 1. 
3, ix. 10, 12, 14, 25^ 26. We owe to the same source some of the most 
familiar phrases of the Service, such as "Draw near," a great word in the 
Epistle (iv. 16, vii. 25, x. 1, 22), and "sacrifice of praise" (ch. xiii. 15). 

II. On its practical side. 

Its tone of tenderness and sympathy which has given it the name of "the 
Epistle for suflTerers," is illustrated in the use made of ch. xii. 6-9 in the 
Exhortation in the Visitation of the Sick, in the selection of the little morsel 
of Scripture as the Epistle in the Communion of the Sick {ibid. 5, 6) and of 
the Lesson — the peaceful note at the close of a stern day — for the evening 
of Ash Wednesday {ihid. 3-17). 

The animating catalogue of the heroes of faith (ch. xi. 33-xii. 7) is 
naturally a Lesson for AU Saints' Day. 

Two of the offertory sentences are taken from the Epistle (ch. vi. 10, "God 
is not unrighteous, &c." and xiii. 16, "To do good and to distribute, &c."). 
We owe probably to the use made of Psalm xcv. in ch. iii. 7-iv. 1 1 the place 
which that Psalm holds in the Morning Service as the reminder, when we 
begin the service of praise, of the double aspect of all Revelation and 
Religion; as the voice at once of invitation — "0 come, let us sing" — and of 
warning — "To-day, if ye will hear." 




ii. 2 

V. 22-24 

xiv. 18-20 

xxi. 12 

xxii. 16 

xlvii. 31 

1. 24, 25 

ii. 2 

xxiv. 8 

XXV. 40 

vi. 30 

xii. 7 

xiv. 29 

xix. 2, 17, 18 

iv. 11 

iv. 24 

ix. 19 

xvii. 2-6 

xxix. 18 

xxxi. 6 

xxxii. 35, 36 

xxxii, 43 (LXX) 

1 Sam. 
xii. 6 

2 Sam. 
vii. 12 f. 

iv. 4 
xi. 5 
vii. 1-3 
xi. 18 
vi. 13, 14 
xi. 21 
xi. 22 

xi. 23 
ix. 19, 20 
viii. 5 

xiii. 11 

iii. 2, 5 
iii. 17, 18 
ix. 13 

xii. 18 
xii. 29 
xii. 21 
X. 28 
xii. 15 
xiii. 5 
X. 30, 31 
i. 6 

iii. 2 

i. 5 



ii. 7 

i. 5, V. 5 

viii. 4f. 

ii. 6-8 

xxii. 22 

ii. 12 

xl. 6f. 

X. 5-7 

xiv. 6, 7 

i. 8, 9 

Ixxxix. 27 

i. 6 

xcv. 8 f . 

iii. 7 f. 

cii. 25 f . 

i. 10-12 

civ. 4 

i. 7 

ex, 1 

I 3, 13, 

viii. 1, X. 

12, xii. 


ex. 4 

V. 6, 10, 

vi. 20, vii. 

cxviii. 6 

xiii. 6 


iii. 11, 12 

xii. 5, 6 

iv. 26, 27 

xii. 13 


viii. 17, 18 

ii. 13 

xxvi. 20 

X. 37 

XXXV. 3 

xii. 12 

Ixiii. 17 

xiii. 20 


xxxi. 31 f. 

viii. 8-12, 

X. 16, 17 


ii. 3, 4 

X. 37, 38 


ii. 6 

xii. 26 


ix. 11 

xiii. 20 

Apollos xiv 
Aquila xiv 
Arminiaus 42 

Barnabas xii 

Calvinists 42 
Clement of Alexandria xii, 
Clement of Kome xi, xiii, 
xixn., 97, 114, 125 

Dante 37 
Domitian xix n. 
Driver 48, 73 
Du Bose 35 

Harnack xx, 128 
Hicks xiv 
Homer 123 
Hort 29, 108 

Ignatian Epistles xx 

Josephus 5, 64, 74 

Lewis XV 

Lightfoot 66, 72, 130 
Lucretius 17 
Luke xii, xiii, xiv 
Luther xiv, 65 



Middleton 65 
Milton 9 

Novatians 42 

Origen xii, xiii, 36, 91 

25, 36, 95 Paul xiif., 12, 58, 89, 91, 97, 100 
xiv, xviii, Philip xiv 

Philo 4, 47, 64, 123, 124 

Priscilla xiv 

Ramsay xv, 72 
Kendall 22, 38, 73, 111 

Salem 48 
Silas xiv 
Swete 69, 71, 88 

TertuUian xii 
Timothy xx, 133 

Vaughan 14, 32, 36, 44, 90, 96, 104, 
110, 116, 126, 132 

Westcott 10, 18, 28, 29, 35, 40, 49, 
50, 53, 57, 65, 67, 73, 84, 90, 101, 
103, 111, 115, 118, 119, 121, 124, 
128, 132 



" Accidia " 37 

Angel3 XX, 4, 5, 10, 11 

Atonement (great day of) xxii, 32, 33, 

56, 61, 64, 68, 83, 127 
Authorship of Epistle xi f . , 12, 89, 91 

Catechumens (creed of) 39 
Christianity (evidences of) 12 
Consecration of High Priest 83, 85 

Date of Epistle xi, xviii, xix, xx 
Destination of Epistle xvif. 

Fear of death 17 

Gethsemane 34 

" Harrowing of Hell " 107 
Heavens (plur.) 31 
Hebrews and Hellenists xv 

Incarnation (reasons for) 19 

Jeremiah 60 

Judaizers xvii, xx, 66, 126, 127 

Marriage (disparagement of) 124 

Messiah (a suffering) 15, 19, 71 
Messianic prophecy 9 

Plural (Epistolary) 130 
Proverb (a Greek) 36 
Psalter (use of) 10 

Quotation. Freedom in 81 

Indefinite form of 14, 24, 27 

from LXX where it differs from 

Hebrew xv, 13, 79, 90, 96, 113, 
120, 131 

Eetrospective effect of the Great 

Sacrifice 70, 75 
Eevised Version, clauses due to change 

of reading 4, 22, 27, 43, 77, 89, 

112, 130 

Tabernacle (not Temple) xviii, 63 

Contents of 62 f. 

Tenses (Greek) 

Present 9, 42, 53, 65, 81, 87 

Aorist 42, 68, 89, 111 

Perfect 49, 58, 81, 95, 100, 109 

Pluperfect 111 




age to come 43 

altar (we have an) 127 

anchor (of the soul) 46 

Apostle 20 

ark of the Covenant 63, 64 

baptisms 40 

became ( = beseemed) 15, 54 
being, becoming 3, 4 
blood of sprinkling 119 
brethren 84 

censer (or, altar of incense) 64 
cherubim of glory 64 
confession 85 
conscience (evil) 85 
conscience (good) 130 
consider 20, 85, 110 
continually 48, 77 

dead works 39, 70 
dedicate 84 
despite 87 
devU 17 
draw near 32 
draw nigh 52 

effulgence 3 
enlightened 41, 89 
eternal spirit 69 
exhortation 111 

faith, hope, love 44, 86 

fathers (the, or, our) 2 

Firstborn 6 

firstborn (church of the) 118 

forerunner 46 

fruit of lips 129 

general assembly 118 
godly fear 35, 97, 121 
great High Priest 31 

heart 84 

heavens 31 

heir of all things 3 

inherit 4, 9, 44 

jealousy of fire 87 

living God 24, 29, 70, 88 
living way 89 

mediator 62 
mercy-seat 64 

new 60 

oil of gladness 8 
oracles of God 38 

partakers of (or, with) Christ 24 
perfect, perfection 15, 39, 50, 56, 66, 

107, 119, 132 
place of repentance 114 
profane 114 
propitiation 18 

remembrance of sins 78, 80 
reproach of Christ 103 
righteousness according to faith 97 
roil of the book 79 

sabbath rest 28 
sacrifice of praise 129 
salvation 9, 11, 16, 36, 43, 76 
sanctify 16, 69, 81, 128 
sanctuary 57, 62, 65 
seem 26 

shadow (of good things) 77 
sin (without) 32 

(apart from) 76 

sinners against themselves 110 
so to say 49 
spirit of grace 88 
substance 4 
surety 52 

testament 71 
the day 86 
these days 3 

very image 3 

warned (of God) 58 
weakness of the Law 51 
winds (or, spirits) 8 
word of righteousness 38 
worlds 3, 95 



aKpi^ei \6ytp 49 
dTravyacTfia. 3 
dweiOeLa, diriffTla 28 
CLToariWeiv, dwoaroXos 20 
dpxvy^^ 16 

yev6/xeva (yivd/ieva) Ql 
ylyveadai, elvai 3 

Se(T/uoi 89 

Sid 67 

SiaOi^Krj, Siarldefiai 72 

SoKi/xaffla 23 

5yvarat, dvpavTai 77 

idvirep 24 
iyyi^eiv 52 
fiKiLv 3 
ets, ei 112 
eKKXTjffla 118 

fKTpal!"l 113 

ifiadev d(f wv IwaSiv 36 
^ 67 

ivSe'iKvvaOai. 44 
ev eipTjvrj 48 
evxaptcria 129 
^Xf" X'lp"' 121 

f^Xos 87 

iKa<TTijpt.ov {eirlOtfMa) 64 

iTTwy 2 

/caX6s 130 

Kord 97 

KoafiiKov ayiov 62, 63 

Xarpeia, Xarpeijeiv 66, 70 
'KeiTovpyiKo. nvetj/xara 10 
XetT0i;p70t 10 

IxereTier} 96 

offtos, a7tos 54 

Travi^YDpts 118 
irapaKor) 11 
TToXv/xepuis Kal 7ro\vTp& 
irpoff^pxeadai 32 
irpoacpepeiv 35 

TTpUJTOTdKia 118 

Siwf o/)et 116 
ovyKaKowadelv 124 

Tipo, riva 38 
rpaxiiXl^eiv 29 

viro/xovrj, virofj^veiv 109 
vvbaTcuTii 4 

^i\ade\<pLa 123 
<t>i\o^evLa 123 

XapaKT'qp 3 







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