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2. Warning to Pay Attention

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

5For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7Thou 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: 8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

4. God also bearing them witness, etc. In addition to the fact, that the Apostles had what they preached from the Son of God, the Lord also proved his approbation of their preaching by miracles, as by a solemn subscription. Then they who do not reverently receive the Gospel recommended by such testimonies, disregard not only the word of God, but also his works.

He designates miracles, for the sake of amplifying their importance, by three names. They are called signs because they rouse men’s minds, that they may think of something higher that what appears; and wonders, because they present what is rare and unusual; and miracles, because the Lord shows in them a singular and an extraordinary evidence of his power. 3333     These three words occur twice together in other places, Acts 2:22, and 2 Thessalonians 2:9; only they are found in Acts in a different order — miracles wonders and signs. Signs and wonders are often found together both in the Old Testament, and in this order except in three places, Acts 2:19, 43; and 7:36. The same things, as Calvin says, are no doubt meant by three words under different views. They are called “signs” or as tokens as evidence of a divine interposition; “wonders” or prodigies, as being not natural, but supernatural, and as having the effect of filling men with terror, Acts 2:43; and “miracles” or powers, as being the effects of a divine power. So that “signs” betoken their intention; “wonders” their characters; and “miracles” their origin, or the power which produces them. — Ed.

As to the word, bearing witness, or attesting, it points out the right use of miracles, even that they serve to establish the Gospel. For almost all the miracles done in all ages were performed as we find for this end, that they might be the seals of Gods word. The more strange then is the superstition of the Papists, who employ their own fictitious miracles for the purpose of overthrowing the truth of God.

The conjunction συν, together with, has this meaning, that we are confirmed in the faith of the Gospel by the joint testimony of God and men; for God’s miracles were testimonies concurring with the voice of men.

He adds, by the gifts or distributions of the Holy Spirit, by which also the doctrine of the Gospel was adorned, of which they were the appendages. 3434     By referring to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, we shall be able to see the meaning of “distributions of the Spirit,” which seems to have been different from signs and wonders, for in that passage there are several gifts mentioned distinct from signs and wonders, such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of prophecy, and the discerning of spirits. These were the distributions, or the portions, which the Spirit divined to every one “according to his will;” for the “will” here, as in 1 Corinthians 12:11, is the will of the Spirit. The most suitable rendering of the last clause would be “and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” There is an evident metonymy in the word “distributions;” it is used abstractly for things distributed or divided. — Ed. For why did God distribute the gifts of his Spirit, except in part that they might be helps in promulgating it, and in part that their might move through admiration the minds of men to obey it? Hence Paul says, that tongues were a sign to unbelievers. The words, according to his will, remind us, that the miracles mentioned could not be ascribed to any except to God alone, and that they were not wrought undesignedly, but, for the distinct purpose of sealing the truth of the Gospel.


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