Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
NOW IN THE
GREATER THAN THE
The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those
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
(2Pe 3:15, 16);
at a time when many of the first hearers of the Lord were
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
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"
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
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 "said," &c.
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,
God the Holy Ghost,
the fathers--the Jewish fathers. The Jews of former days
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
(Mt 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;
Thus he answers the Jewish objection drawn from their prophets. Jesus
is the end of all prophecy
and of the law of Moses
(Joh 1:17; 5:46).
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 crowning consummation.
by his Son--Greek, "IN (His)
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
(Heb 1:2, 3).
(2) Relatively, in comparison with the angels,
the confirmation of this follows, and the very name "Son" is
the "making the worlds,"
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;
As the first begotten, He is heir of the universe
which He made instrumentally,
where "by the Word of God" answers to "by whom"' (the Son of God) here
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
Ga 3:16; 4:7).
worlds--the inferior and the superior worlds
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 the worlds.
3. Who being--by pre-existent and essential being.
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;
Wisdom 7:25, 26,
where similar things are said of wisdom).
express image--"impress." But veiled in the flesh.
|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";
upholding all things--Greek, "the universe."
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
of his power--"The word" is the utterance which comes from His
(the Son's) power, and gives expression to it.
by himself--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
purged--Greek, "made 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
sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high--fulfilling
This sitting of the Son at God's fight hand was by the act of the
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 God
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
(Heb 1:3, 13):
in contrast to His being "made lower than the angels"
"Better," that is, superior to. As "being"
expresses His essential being so "being made"
marks what He became in His assumed manhood
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
as God, and has been made, as the exalted Son of man
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,
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 2:16; 7:3, 14)
this day have I begotten thee--
Fulfilled at the resurrection of Jesus, whereby the Father "declared,"
that is, made manifest His divine Sonship, heretofore veiled by His
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
(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
Ps 2:2, 3, 9-12)
is a type of God's ultimately subduing all enemies under His Son, whom
He sets (Hebrew, "anointed,"
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"
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"
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
The "bringing the first-begotten into the world"
is not subsequent, as ALFORD thinks, to
but anterior to it (compare
6. And--Greek, "But." Not only this proves His
superiority, BUT a more decisive proof is
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
(Mt 4:10, 11),
and future second advent in glory, angels were designed by God to be
subject to Him. Compare
"seen of angels"; God manifesting Messiah as one to be gazed at with
adoring love by heavenly intelligences
2Th 1:9, 10;
The fullest realization of His Lordship shall be at His second coming
1Co 15:24, 25;
"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
As "the first-begotten" He has the rights of primogeniture
Col 1:15, 16, 18).
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
The type David, in the
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,"
for He is "King of kings and Lord of lords"
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
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
"a cherub . . . the wings of the wind."
"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
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
at other times to stand
at times to resemble women
at other times to resemble men
at times He makes them 'spirits'; at times, fire." "Maketh" implies
that, however exalted, they are but creatures, whereas the Son is the
not begotten from everlasting, nor to be worshipped, as
(Re 14:7; 22:8, 9).
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
9. iniquity--"unnrighteousness." Some oldest manuscripts read,
therefore--because God loves righteousness and hates iniquity.
God . . . thy God--JEROME,
AUGUSTINE, and others translate
"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
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
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
and yet again at Hebron, first over Judah
then over all Israel
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).
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
in the beginning--English Version,
"of old": Hebrew, "before," "aforetime." The Septuagint,
"in the beginning" (as in
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
works of thine hands--the heavens, as a woven veil or curtain
11. They--The earth and the heavens in their present state and
form "shall perish"
(Heb 12:26, 27;
"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 Noah
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
(2Pe 3:12, 13).
remainest--through (so the Greek) all changes.
as . . . a garment--
12. vesture--Greek, "an enwrapping cloak."
fold them up--So the Septuagint,
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
sometimes the Hebrew; sometimes varying from both.
changed--as one lays aside a garment to put on another.
thou art the same--
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
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
"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 ages.
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
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"
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"
(Heb 1:3, 13).
He rules; they serve.