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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 1 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And again. Marg., When he bringeth in again. The proper construction of this sentence probably is, "But when, he the moreover, brings in," etc. The word "again" refers not to the fact that Son of God is brought again into the world, implying that he had been introduced before; but it refers to the course of the apostle's argument, or to the declaration which is made about the Messiah in another place. "The name Son is not only given to him as above, but also in another place, or on another occasion, when he brings in the first-begotten into the world."

When he bringeth in. When he introduces. So far as the language here is concerned, this might refer to the birth of the Messiah; but it is evident, from the whole connexion, that the writer meant to refer to something that is said in the Old Testament. This is plain, because the passage occurs among quotations designed to prove specific point—that the Son of God, the Author of the Christian system, was superior to the angels. A declaration of the writer here, however true and solemn, would not have answered the purpose. A proof-text was wanting; a text which would be admitted, by those to whom he wrote, to bear on the point under consideration. The meaning then is, "that on another occasion, different from those to which he had referred, God, when speaking of the Messiah, or when introducing him to mankind, had used language showing that he was superior to the angels." The meaning of the phrase, "when he bringeth in," therefore, I take to be, when he introduces him to men; when he makes him known to the world—to wit, by the declaration which he proceeds immediately to quote.

The first-begotten. Christ is called the "first-begotten," with reference to his resurrection from the dead, in Re 1:5; Col 1:18. It is probable here, however, that the word is used, like the word first-born, or first-begotten, among the Hebrews, by way of eminence. As the first-born was the principal heir, and had peculiar privileges, so the Lord Jesus Christ sustains a similar rank in the universe of which God is the Head and Father. See Barnes "Joh 1:14,

where the word, "only-begotten," is used to denote the dignity and honour of the Lord Jesus.

Into the world. When he introduces him to mankind, or declares what he is to be.

He saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Much difficulty has been experienced in regard to this quotation, for it cannot be denied that it is intended to be a quotation. In the Septuagint these very words occur in De 32:43, where they are inserted in the Song of Moses. But they are not in the Hebrew; nor are they in all the copies of the Septuagint. The Hebrew is, "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries.", The Septuagint is, "Rejoice ye heavens with him and let all the angels of God worship him. Let the nations rejoice with his people, and let all the sons of God be strong in him, for he has avenged the blood of his sons." But there are objections to our supposing that the apostle had this place in his view, which seem to me to settle the matter.

(1.) One is, that the passage is not in the Hebrew; and it seems hardly credible that, in writing to Hebrews, and to those residing in the very country where the Hebrew Scriptures were constantly used, he should adduce, as a proof-text on an important doctrine, what was not in their Scriptures.

(2.) A second is, that it is omitted in all the ancient versions, except the Septuagint.

(3.) A third is, that it is impossible to believe that the passage in question, in Deuteronomy, had any reference to the Messiah. It does not relate to his "introduction" to the world. It would not occur to any reader that it had any such reference. The context celebrates the victory over the enemies of Israel which God will achieve. After saying that "his arrows would be drunk with blood, and that his sword would devour flesh with the blood of the slain and of captives, from the time when he begins to take vengeance on an enemy," the Septuagint (not the Hebrew) immediately asserts, "let the heavens rejoice at the same time with him, and let all the angels of God worship him." That is: "Let the inhabitants of the heavenly world rejoice in the victory of God over the enemies of his people, and let them pay their adoration to him." But the Messiah does not appear to be alluded to anywhere in the context; much less described as "introduced into the world." There is, moreover, not the slightest evidence that it was ever supposed by the Jews to have any such reference; and though it might be said that the apostle merely quoted language that expressed his meaning—as we often do when we are familiar with any well-known phrase that will exactly suit our purpose and convey an idea—yet, it should be remarked, that this is not the way in which this passage is quoted. It is a proof-text, and Paul evidently meant to be understood as saying, that that passage had a fair reference to the Messiah. It is evident, moreover, that it would be admitted to have such a reference by those to whom he wrote. It is morally certain, therefore, that this was not the passage which the writer intended to quote. The probability is, that the writer here referred to Ps 97:7, (in the Sept. Ps 96:7.) In that place, the Hebrew is, "worship him all ye gods "

HEBREW

all ye elohim. In the Septuagint it is, "Let all his angels worship him;" where the translation is literal, except that the word God—"angels of God" —is used by the apostle instead of his— "all his angels"—as it is in the Septuagint. The word "gods" elohim is rendered by the word angels, but the word may have that sense. Thus it is rendered by the Seventy, in Job 20:15; and in Ps 8:6; 138:1. It is well known, that the word elohim may denote kings and magistrates, because of their rank and dignity; and is there anything improbable in the supposition that, for a similar reason, the word may be given also to angels? The fair interpretation of the passage, then, would be, to refer it to angelic beings; and the command, in Ps 97, is for them to do homage to the being there referred to. The only question then is, whether the Psalm can be regarded properly as having any reference to the Messiah? Did the apostle fairly and properly use this language as referring to him? On this we may remark,

(1.) That the fact that he uses it thus may be regarded as proof that it would be admitted to be proper by the Jews in his time, and renders it probable that it was in fact so used.

(2.) Two Jewish rabbins of distinction—Raschi and Kimchi—affirm, that all the Psalms, from 93, to 101 are to be regarded as referring to the Messiah. Such was, and is, the opinion of the Jews.

(3.) There is nothing in the Psalm which forbids such a reference, or which can be shown to be inconsistent with it. Indeed, the whole Psalm might be taken as beautifully descriptive of the "introduction" of the Son of God into the world, or as a sublime and glorious description of his advent. Thus, in Ps 97:1, the earth is called on to rejoice that the Lord reigns. In Ps 97:2-5, he is introduced or described as coming in the most magnificent manner—clouds and darkness attend him; a fire goes before him; the lightnings play; and the hills melt like wax —a sublime description of his coming, with appropriate symbols, to reign, or to judge the world. In Ps 97:6, it is said that all people shall see his glory; in Ps 97:7, that all who worship graven images shall be confounded, and all the angels are required to do him homage, and in vers. Ps 97:8-12, the effect of his advent is described as filling Zion with rejoicing, and the hearts of the people of God with gladness. It cannot be proved, therefore, that this Psalm had no reference to the Messiah; but the presumption is that it had, and that the apostle has quoted it not only as it was usually regarded in his time, but as it was designed by the Holy Ghost. If so, then it proves, what the writer intended, that the Son of God should be adored by the angels; and, of course, that he was superior to them. It proves also more. Whom would God require the angels to adore? A creature? A man? A fellow-angel? To ask these questions is to answer them. He could require them to worship none but God, and the passage proves that the Son of God is divine.

{1} "And again" or "when he bringeth again" {a} "let all the angels" Ps 97:7

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