The Highest of All Revelations Is Given Us Now
in the Son of God, Who Is Greater than
the Angels, and Who, Having Completed
Redemption, Sits Enthroned at God's
The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well
known to those addressed (Heb 13:19).
For proofs of Paul being the author, see my Introduction. In the
Pauline method, the statement of subject and the division are put
before the discussion; and at the close, the practical follows the
doctrinal portion. The ardor of Spirit in this Epistle, as in First
John, bursting forth at once into the subject (without prefatory
inscription of name and greeting), the more effectively strikes the
hearers. The date must have been while the temple was yet standing,
before its destruction, A.D. 70; some
time before the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this Epistle of Paul
3:15, 16); at a time when
many of the first hearers of the Lord were dead.
1. at sundry times—Greek, "in
many portions." All was not revealed to each one prophet; but one
received one portion of revelation, and another another. To Noah the
quarter of the world to which Messiah should belong was revealed; to
Abraham, the nation; to Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the
family; to Micah, the town of nativity; to Daniel, the exact time; to
Malachi, the coming of His forerunner, and His second advent; through
Jonah, His burial and resurrection; through Isaiah and Hosea, His
resurrection. Each only knew in part; but when that which was perfect
came in Messiah, that which was in part was done away (1Co 13:12).
in divers manners—for example,
internal suggestions, audible voices, the Urim and Thummim, dreams, and
visions. "In one way He was seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in
another by Elias, and in another by Micah; Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel,
beheld different forms" [Theodoret].
(Compare Nu 12:6-8).
The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, and
manifold in form; the very multitude of prophets shows that they
prophesied only in part. In Christ, the revelation of God is
full, not in shifting hues of separated color, but Himself the pure
light, uniting in His one person the whole spectrum (Heb 1:3).
spake—the expression usual for a Jew
to employ in addressing Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing especially for
Jews, quotes Scripture, not by the formula, "It is written," but
in time past—From Malachi, the last of
the Old Testament prophets, for four hundred years, there had arisen no
prophet, in order that the Son might be the more an object of
expectation [Bengel]. As God (the
Father) is introduced as having spoken here; so God the Son,
Heb 2:3; God the Holy Ghost, Heb 3:7.
the fathers—the Jewish fathers. The
Jews of former days (1Co 10:1).
by—Greek, "in." A mortal king
speaks by his ambassador, not (as the King of kings) in
his ambassador. The Son is the last and highest manifestation of God
21:34, 37); not merely a
measure, as in the prophets, but the fulness of the Spirit of God
dwelling in Him bodily (Joh 1:16; 3:34; Col 2:9). Thus he answers the Jewish objection
drawn from their prophets. Jesus is the end of all prophecy (Re 19:10), and of the law of Moses (Joh 1:17;
2. in these last days—In the oldest
manuscripts the Greek is. "At the last part of these days." The
Rabbins divided the whole of time into "this age," or "world," and "the
age to come" (Heb 2:5; 6:5). The days of Messiah were the
transition period or "last part of these days" (in contrast to "in
times past"), the close of the existing dispensation, and beginning of
the final dispensation of which Christ's second coming shall be the
by his Son—Greek, "IN (His) Son" (Joh 14:10). The true "Prophet" of God. "His
majesty is set forth: (1) Absolutely by the very name "Son," and
by three glorious predicates, "whom He hath appointed," "by whom He
made the worlds," "who sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high;" thus His course is described from the beginning of all things
till he reached the goal (Heb 1:2, 3).
(2) Relatively, in comparison with the angels, Heb 1:4; the confirmation of this
follows, and the very name "Son" is proved at Heb 1:5; the "heirship," Heb 1:6-9; the "making the worlds," Heb 1:10-12; the "sitting at the right hand"
of God, Heb 1:13, 14." His being made heir follows His
sonship, and preceded His making the worlds (Pr 8:22, 23;
Eph 3:11). As the first
begotten, He is heir of the universe (Heb 1:6), which He made instrumentally, Heb 11:3, where "by the Word of God"
answers to "by whom"' (the Son of God) here (Joh 1:3). Christ was "appointed" (in God's
eternal counsel) to creation as an office; and the universe so created
was assigned to Him as a kingdom. He is "heir of all things" by right
of creation, and especially by right of redemption. The promise to
Abraham that he should be heir of the world had its fulfilment, and
will have it still more fully, in Christ (Ro 4:13; Ga
worlds—the inferior and the superior
1:16). Literally, "ages" with
all things and persons belonging to them; the universe, including all
space and ages of time, and all material and spiritual existences. The
Greek implies, He not only appointed His Son heir of all things
before creation, but He also (better than "also He") made by Him
3. Who being—by pre-existent and
brightness of his glory—Greek,
the effulgence of His glory. "Light of (from) light" [Nicene
Creed]. "Who is so senseless as to doubt concerning the eternal
being of the Son? For when has one seen light without effulgence?"
[Athanasius, Against Arius,
Orations, 2]. "The sun is never seen without effulgence, nor the
Father without the Son" [Theophylact].
It is because He is the brightness, &c., and because
He upholds, &c., that He sat down on the right hand, &c.
It was a return to His divine glory (Joh 6:62; 17:5; compare Wisdom 7:25, 26, where
similar things are said of wisdom).
express image—"impress." But veiled in
The Sun of God in glory beams
Too bright for us to scan;
But we can face the light that streams
For the mild Son of man.
of his person—Greek, "of His
substantial essence"; "hypostasis."
upholding all things—Greek,
"the universe." Compare Col 1:15, 17, 20, which enumerates the three facts in the
same order as here.
by the word—Therefore the Son of God
is a Person; for He has the word [Bengel]. His word is God's word (Heb 11:3).
of his power—"The word" is the
utterance which comes from His (the Son's) power, and gives expression
by himself—omitted in the oldest
purification of … sins," namely, in His atonement, which
graciously covers the guilt of sin. "Our" is omitted in the oldest
manuscripts. Sin was the great uncleanness in God's sight, of
which He has effected the purgation by His sacrifice [Alford]. Our nature, as guilt-laden, could not,
without our great High Priest's blood of atonement sprinkling the
heavenly mercy seat, come into immediate contact with God. Ebrard says, "The mediation between man and God, who
was present in the Most Holy Place, was revealed in three forms: (1) In
sacrifices (typical propitiations for guilt); (2) In the priesthood
(the agents of those sacrifices); (3) In the Levitical laws of purity
(Levitical purity being attained by sacrifice positively, by avoidance
of Levitical pollution negatively, the people being thus enabled to
come into the presence of God without dying, De 5:26)" (Le 16:1-34).
sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high—fulfilling Ps 110:1.
This sitting of the Son at God's fight hand was by the act of the
Father (Heb 8:1; Eph 1:20); it is never used of His pre-existing
state co-equal with the Father, but always of His exalted state as Son
of man after His sufferings, and as Mediator for man in the presence of
8:34): a relation towards God
and us about to come to an end when its object has been accomplished
4. Being made … better—by His
exaltation by the Father (Heb 1:3, 13): in contrast to His being "made lower
than the angels" (Heb 2:9).
"Better," that is, superior to. As "being" (Heb 1:3) expresses His essential being so "being
7:26) marks what He became in
His assumed manhood (Php 2:6-9).
Paul shows that His humbled form (at which the Jews might stumble) is
no objection to His divine Messiahship. As the law was given by the
ministration of angels and Moses, it was inferior to the Gospel given
by the divine Son, who both is (Heb 1:4-14) as God, and has been made, as the
exalted Son of man (Heb 2:5-18), much better than the angels. The
manifestations of God by angels (and even by the angel of the covenant)
at different times in the Old Testament, did not bring man and God into
personal union, as the manifestation of God in human flesh does.
by inheritance obtained—He always had
the thing itself, namely, Sonship; but He
"obtained by inheritance," according to the promise of the Father,
the name "Son," whereby He is made known to men and angels. He
is "the Son of God" is a sense far exalted above that in which angels
are called "sons of God" (Job 1:6; 38:7). "The fulness of the glory of the
peculiar name "the Son of God," is unattainable by human speech or
thought. All appellations are but fragments of its glory beams united
in it as in a central sun, Re 19:12.
A name that no than knew but He Himself."
5. For—substantiating His having
"obtained a more excellent name than the angels."
unto which—A frequent argument in this
Epistle is derived from the silence of Scripture (Heb
1:13; Heb 2:16; 7:3, 14)
this day have I begotten thee—(Ps 2:7). Fulfilled at the resurrection of
Jesus, whereby the Father "declared," that is, made manifest His divine
Sonship, heretofore veiled by His humiliation (Ac 13:33; Ro
1:4). Christ has a fourfold
right to the title "Son of God"; (1) By generation, as begotten
of God; (2) By commission, as sent by God; (3) By
resurrection, as "the first-begotten of the dead" (compare Lu
20:36; Ro 1:4; Re 1:5); (4)
By actual possession, as heir of all [Bishop Pearson]. The Psalm here quoted applied
primarily in a less full sense to Solomon, of whom God promised by
Nathan to David. "I will be his father and he shall be my son." But as
the whole theocracy was of Messianic import, the triumph of David over
Hadadezer and neighboring kings (2Sa 8:1-18; Ps 2:2, 3,
9-12) is a type of God's
ultimately subduing all enemies under His Son, whom He sets
(Hebrew, "anointed," Ps 2:6) on His
"holy hill of Zion," as King of the Jews and of the whole earth. the
antitype to Solomon, son of David. The "I" in Greek is emphatic;
I the Everlasting Father have begotten Thee this day, that is,
on this day, the day of Thy being manifested as My Son, "the
first-begotten of the dead" (Col 1:18; Re 1:5). when Thou hast ransomed and opened
heaven to Thy people. He had been always Son, but now first was
manifested as such in His once humbled, now exalted manhood united to
His Godhead. Alford refers "this day" to
the eternal generation of the Son: the day in which the Son was
begotten by the Father is an everlasting to-day: there never was
a yesterday or past time to Him, nor a to-morrow or future time:
"Nothing there is to come, and nothing past, but an eternal NOW doth
ever last" (Pr 30:4; Joh 10:30, 38; 16:28; 17:8). The communication of the divine
essence in its fulness, involves eternal generation; for the divine
essence has no beginning. But the context refers to a definite point of
time, namely, that of His having entered on the inheritance
1:4). The "bringing the
first-begotten into the world" (Heb 1:6), is not subsequent, as Alford thinks, to Heb 1:5, but anterior to it (compare Ac 2:30-35).
6. And—Greek, "But." Not only
this proves His superiority, BUT a more
decisive proof is Ps 97:7,
which shows that not only at His resurrection, but also in prospect of
His being brought into the world (compare Heb 9:11;
10:5) as man, in His
incarnation, nativity (Lu 2:9-14),
temptation (Mt 4:10, 11), resurrection (Mt 28:2), and future second advent in glory,
angels were designed by God to be subject to Him. Compare 1Ti 3:16, "seen of angels"; God manifesting
Messiah as one to be gazed at with adoring love by heavenly
intelligences (Eph 3:10; 2Th 1:9, 10; 1Pe 3:22). The fullest realization of His
Lordship shall be at His second coming (Ps 97:7; 1Co 15:24,
25; Php 2:9). "Worship Him
all ye gods" ("gods," that is, exalted beings, as
angels), refers to God; but it was universally admitted
among the Hebrews that God would dwell, in a peculiar sense, in Messiah
(so as to be in the Talmud phrase, "capable of being pointed to with
the finger"); and so what was said of God was true of, and to be
fulfilled in, Messiah. Kimchi says that
the ninety-third through the hundred first Psalms contain in them the
mystery of Messiah. God ruled the theocracy in and through Him.
the world—subject to Christ (Heb 2:5). As "the first-begotten" He has
the rights of primogeniture (Ro 8:29); Col 1:15, 16, 18). In De 32:43, the Septuagint has, "Let all the
angels of God worship Him," words not now found in the Hebrew.
This passage of the Septuagint may have been in Paul's mind as
to the form, but the substance is taken from Ps 97:7. The type David, in the Ps 89:27 (quoted in Heb 1:5), is called "God's first-born,
higher than the kings of the earth"; so the antitypical
first-begotten, the son of David, is to be worshipped by all inferior
lords, such as angels ("gods," Ps 97:7); for He is "King of kings and Lord of
19:16). In the Greek,
"again" is transposed; but this does not oblige us, as Alford thinks, to translate, "when He again shall
have introduced," &c., namely, at Christ's second coming; for
there is no previous mention of a first bringing in; and "again"
is often used in quotations, not to be joined with the verb, but
parenthetically ("that I may again quote Scripture"). English
Version is correct (compare Mt 5:33; Greek, Joh 12:39).
7. of—The Greek is rather, "In
reference TO the angels."
spirits—or "winds": Who employeth His
angels as the winds, His ministers as the lightnings; or, He maketh His
angelic ministers the directing powers of winds and flames, when these
latter are required to perform His will. "Commissions them to assume
the agency or form of flames for His purposes" [Alford]. English Version, "maketh His angels
spirits," means, He maketh them of a subtle, incorporeal nature,
swift as the wind. So Ps 18:10, "a
cherub … the wings of the wind." Heb 1:14, "ministering spirits," favors
English Version here. As "spirits" implies the wind-like
velocity and subtle nature of the cherubim, so "flame of fire"
expresses the burning devotion and intense all-consuming zeal of the
adoring seraphim (meaning "burning), Isa 6:1. The translation, "maketh winds His
messengers, and a flame of fire His ministers (!)," is plainly
wrong. In the Ps 104:3, 4, the subject in each clause comes first,
and the attribute predicated of it second; so the Greek article
here marks "angels" and "ministers" as the subjects, and "winds"
and "flame of fire," predicates, Schemoth Rabba says, "God is
called God of Zebaoth (the heavenly hosts), because He does what He
pleases with His angels. When He pleases, He makes them to sit (Jud 6:11); at other times to stand (Isa 6:2); at times to resemble women
5:9); at other times to
resemble men (Ge 18:2); at
times He makes them 'spirits'; at times, fire." "Maketh" implies that,
however exalted, they are but creatures, whereas the Son is the Creator
1:10): not begotten from
everlasting, nor to be worshipped, as the Son (Re 14:7; 22:8,
8. O God—the Greek has the
article to mark emphasis (Ps 45:6, 7).
for ever …
righteousness—Everlasting duration and
righteousness go together (Ps 45:2; 89:14).
a sceptre of righteousness—literally,
"a rod of rectitude," or "straightforwardness." The oldest manuscripts
prefix "and" (compare Es 4:11).
9. iniquity—"unnrighteousness." Some
oldest manuscripts read, "lawlessness."
therefore—because God loves
righteousness and hates iniquity.
God … thy God—Jerome, Augustine,
and others translate Ps 45:7, "O
God, Thy God, hath anointed thee," whereby Christ is addressed as God.
This is probably the true translation of the Hebrew there, and
also of the Greek of Hebrews here; for it is likely the Son is
addressed, "O God," as in Heb 1:8. The
anointing here meant is not that at His baptism, when He
solemnly entered on His ministry for us; but that with the "oil of
gladness," or "exulting joy" (which denotes a triumph, and
follows as the consequence of His manifested love of
righteousness and hatred of iniquity), wherewith, after His
triumphant completion of His work, He has been anointed by the Father
above His fellows (not only above us, His fellow men, the adopted
members of God's family, whom "He is not ashamed to call His brethren,"
but above the angels, fellow partakers in part with Him, though
infinitely His inferiors, in the glories, holiness, and joys of heaven;
"sons of God," and angel "messengers," though subordinate to the divine
Angel—"Messenger of the covenant"). Thus He is antitype to
Solomon, "chosen of all David's many sons to sit upon the throne of the
kingdom of the Lord over Israel," even as His father David was chosen
before all the house of his father's sons. The image is drawn from the
custom of anointing guests at feasts (Ps 23:5); or rather of anointing kings: not
until His ascension did He assume the kingdom as Son of man. A
fuller accomplishment is yet to be, when He shall be VISIBLY the anointed King over the whole earth (set
by the Father) on His holy hill of Zion, Ps 2:6, 8. So David, His type, was first anointed
at Bethlehem (1Sa 16:13; Ps 89:20); and yet again at Hebron, first over
2:4), then over all Israel
5:3); not till the death of
Saul did he enter on his actual kingdom; as it was not till after
Christ's death that the Father set Him at His right hand far above all
principalities (Eph 1:20, 21). The forty-fifth Psalm in its first meaning was addressed to
Solomon; but the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to use language which
in its fulness can only apply to the antitypical Solomon, the true
Royal Head of the theocracy.
10. And—In another passage (Ps 102:25-27) He says.
in the beginning—English
Version, Ps 102:25,
"of old": Hebrew, "before," "aforetime." The Septuagint,
"in the beginning" (as in Ge 1:1)
answers by contrast to the end implied in "They shall perish,"
&c. The Greek order here (not in the Septuagint) is,
"Thou in the beginning, O Lord," which throws the "Lord" into emphasis.
"Christ is preached even in passages where many might contend that the
Father was principally intended" [Bengel].
laid the foundation of—"firmly
founded" is included in the idea of the Greek.
heavens—plural: not merely one, but
manifold, and including various orders of heavenly intelligences (Eph 4:10).
works of thine hands—the heavens, as a
woven veil or curtain spread out.
11. They—The earth and the heavens in
their present state and form "shall perish" (Heb 12:26,
27; 2Pe 3:13). "Perish" does
not mean annihilation; just as it did not mean so in the case of
"the world that being overflowed with water, perished" under
3:6). The covenant of the
possession of the earth was renewed with Noah and his seed on the
renovated earth. So it shall be after the perishing by fire (2Pe 3:12,
remainest—through (so the
Greek) all changes.
as … a garment—(Isa 51:6).
12. vesture—Greek, "an enwrapping
fold them up—So the Septuagint,
102:26; but the
Hebrew, "change them." The Spirit, by Paul, treats the
Hebrew of the Old Testament, with independence of handling,
presenting the divine truth in various aspects; sometimes as here
sanctioning the Septuagint (compare Isa 34:4; Re
6:14); sometimes the
Hebrew; sometimes varying from both.
changed—as one lays aside a garment to
put on another.
thou art the same—(Isa 46:4; Mal
3:6). The same in nature,
therefore in covenant faithfulness to Thy people.
shall not fail—Hebrew, "shall
not end." Israel, in the Babylonian captivity, in the hundred second
Psalm, casts her hopes of deliverance on Messiah, the unchanging
covenant God of Israel.
13. Quotation from Ps 110:1. The image is taken from the custom of
conquerors putting the feet on the necks of the conquered (Jos 10:24, 25).
14. ministering spirits—referring to
Heb 1:7, "spirits … ministers." They
are incorporeal spirits, as God is, but ministering to
Him as inferiors.
sent forth—present participle: "being
sent forth" continually, as their regular service in all
to minister—Greek, "unto (that
is, 'for') ministry."
for them—Greek, "on account
of the." Angels are sent forth on ministrations to God and
Christ, not primarily to men, though for the good of "those
who are about to inherit salvation" (so the Greek): the elect,
who believe, or shall believe, for whom all things, angels included,
work together for good (Ro 8:28).
Angels' ministrations are not properly rendered to men, since the
latter have no power of commanding them, though their ministrations to
God are often directed to the good of men. So the superiority of the
Son of God to angels is shown. They "all," how ever various their
ranks, "minister"; He is ministered to. They "stand" (Lu 1:19) before God, or are "sent
forth" to execute the divine commands on behalf of them whom He pleases
to save; He "sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high"
13). He rules; they