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Hebrews 1:10-14

10. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

10. Et tu ab initio, Domine, terram fundasti; et opera manuum tuarum sunt coeli:

11. They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

11. Ipsi peribunt, tu autem permanes; et omnes quasi vestimentum veterascent;

12. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

12. Et tanquam amictum involves eos, et mutabuntur: tu autem idem es, et anni tui non deficient.

13. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

13. Ad quem vero angelorum dixit inquam, Sede a dextris meis, donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum?

14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

14. Annon omnes sunt administratorii spiritus, qui in ministerium emittuntur propter eos qui haereditatem capiunt salutis?

 

10. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning, etc. This testimony at first sight may seem to be unfitly applied to Christ, especially in a doubtful matter, such as is here handled; for the subject in dispute is not concerning the glory of God, but what may be fitly applied to Christ. Now, there is not in this passage any mention made of Christ, but the majesty of God alone is set forth. I indeed allow that Christ is not named in any part of the Psalm; but it is yet plain that he is so pointed out, that no one can doubt but that his kingdom is there avowedly recommended to us. Hence all the things which are found there, are to be applied to his person; for in none have they been fulfilled but in Christ, such as the following, — “Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion, that the heathens may fear the name, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.” Again, — “When the nations shall be gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.” Doubtless, in vain shall we seek to find this God through whom the whole world have united in one faith and worship of God, except in Christ.

All the other parts of the Psalm exactly suit the person of Christ, such as the following, that he is the eternal God, the creator of heaven and earth, that perpetuity belongs to him without any change, by which his majesty is raised to the highest elevation, and he himself is removed from the rank of all created beings.

What David says about the heavens perishing, some explain by adding, “Were such a thing to happen,” as though nothing was affirmed. But what need is there of such a strained explanation, since we know that all creatures are subjected to vanity? For to what purpose is that renovation promised, which even the heavens wait for with the strong desire as of those in travail, except that they are now verging towards destruction?

But the perpetuity of Christ which is here mentioned, brings no common comfort to the godly; as the Psalm at last teaches us, they shall be partakers of it, inasmuch as Christ communicates himself and what he possesses to his own body. 2626     See Appendix D.

13. But to whom of the angels, etc. He again by another testimony extols the excellency of Christ, that it might hence be evident how much he is above the angels. The passage is taken from Psalms 110:1, and it cannot be explained of any but of Christ. For as it was not lawful for kings to touch the priesthood, as is testified by the leprosy of Uzziah; and as it appears that neither David, nor any other of his successors in the kingdom, was ordained a priest, it follows, that a new kingdom as well as a new priesthood is here introduced, since the same person is made a king and a priest. Besides, the eternity of the priesthood is suitable to Christ alone.

Now, in the beginning of the Psalm he is set at God’s right hand. This form of expression, as I have already said, means the same, as though it was said, that the second place was given him by the Father; for it is a metaphor which signifies that he is the Father’s vicegerent and his chief minister in exercising authority, so that the Father rules through him. No one of the angels bears so honorable an office; hence Christ far excels all.

Until I make, etc. As there are never wanting enemies to oppose Christ’s kingdom, it seems not to be beyond the reach of danger, especially as they who attempt to overthrow it possess great power, have recourse to various artifices, and also make all their attacks with furious violence. Doubtless, were we to regard things as they appear, the kingdom of Christ would seem often to be on the verge of ruin. But the promise, that Christ shall never be thrust from his seat, takes away from us every fear; for he will lay prostrate all his enemies. These two things, then, ought to be borne in mind, — that the kingdom of Christ shall never in this world be at rest, but that there will be many enemies by whom it will be disturbed; and secondly, that whatever its enemies may do, they shall never prevail, for the session of Christ at God’s right hand will not be for a time, but to the end of the world, and that on this account all who will not submit to his authority shall be laid prostrate and trodden under his feet

If any one asks, whether Christ’s kingdom shall come to an end, when all his enemies shall be subdued; I give this answer, — that his kingdom shall be perpetual, and yet in such a way as Paul intimates in 1 Corinthians 15:25; for we are to take this view, — that God who is not known to us in Christ, will then appear to us as he is in himself. And yet Christ will never cease to be the head of men and of angels; nor will there be any diminution of his honor. But the solution of this question must be sought from that passage.

14. Are they not all, etc. That the comparison might appear more clearly, he now mentions what the condition of angels is. For calling them spirits, he denotes their eminence; for in this respect they are superior to corporal creatures. But the office (λειτουργία) which he immediately mentions reduces them to their own rank, as it is that which is the reverse of dominion; and this he still more distinctly states, when he says, that they are sent to minister. The first word means the same, as though he had said, that they were officials; but to minister imports what is more humble and abject. 2727     There is no doubt a distinction between the two words here used, but not exactly that which is intimated; the first, λειτουργικὰ refers to an official appointment; and the other, διακονίαν, to the work which was to be done. Angels are said to be officially appointed, and they are thus appointed for the purpose of doing service to the heirs of salvation; “Are they not all ministrant (or ministerial) spirits, sent forth for service, on account διὰ of those who are to inherit salvation?” Then they are spirits, having a special office allotted them, being sent forth to do service in behalf of those who are heirs of salvation. It hence appears that they have a special appointment for this purpose See Acts 5:19, and 12:7. — Ed. The service which God allots to angels is indeed honorable; but the very fact that they serve, shows that they are far inferior to Christ, who is the Lord of all.

If any one objects and says, that Christ is also called in many places both a servant and a minister, not only to God, but also to men, the reply may be readily given; his being a servant was not owing to his nature, but to a voluntary humility, as Paul testifies, (Philippians 2:7;) and at the same time his sovereignty remained to his nature; but angels, on the other hand, were created for this end, — that they might serve, and to minister is what belongs to their condition. The difference then is great; for what is natural to them is, as it were, adventitious or accidental to Christ, because he took our flesh; and what necessarily belongs to them, he of his own accord undertook. Besides, Christ is a minister in such a way, that though he is in our flesh nothing is diminished from the majesty of his dominion. 2828     See Appendix E.

From this passage the faithful receive no small consolation; for they hear that celestial hosts are assigned to them as ministers, in order to secure their salvation. It is indeed no common pledge of God’s love towards us, that they are continually engaged in our behalf. Hence also proceeds a singular confirmation to our faith, that our salvation being defended by such guardians, is beyond the reach of danger. Well then has God provided for our infirmities by giving us such assistants to oppose Satan, and to put forth their power in every way to defend us!

But this benefit he grants especially to his chosen people; hence that angels may minister to us, we must be the members of Christ. Yet some testimonies of Scripture may on the other hand be adduced, to show that angels are sometimes sent forth for the sake of the reprobate; for mention is made by Daniel of the angels of the Persians and the Greeks. (Daniel 10:20.) But to this I answer, that they were in such a way assisted by angels, that the Lord might thus promote the salvation of his own people; for their success and their victories had always a reference to the benefit of the Church. This is certain, that as we have been banished by sin from God’s kingdom, we can have no communion with angels except through the reconciliation made by Christ; and this we may see by the ladder shown in a vision to the patriarch Jacob.


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