The epistle to the hebrews



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Who maketh His angels winds,

And His ministers a flame of fire;

8 but of the Son He saith,

God is Thy throne for ever and ever,

And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of His kingdom.

[or Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,



And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.]

9 Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst iniquity;

Therefore God, Thy God, anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.

Heb. 1:7. pro;" me;n...] of...in reference to... Rom. 10:21; Luke 12:41; 20:19 (Heb. 11:18). The contrast between ‘the angels’ and ‘the Son’ is accentuated (mevn—dev 3:5 f.). The rendering of the original text of Ps. 104:4 has been disputed, but the construction adopted by the LXX. the Targum (comp. Shemoth R. § 25, p. 189 ) and A. V. seems to be certainly correct. The words admit equally to be taken ‘making winds his messengers (angels)’ (‘making his messengers out of winds’), and ‘making his messengers (angels) winds’; but the order of the words and, on a closer view, the tenor of the Psalm are in favour of the second translation. The thought is that where men at first see only material objects and forms of nature there God is present, fulfilling His will through His servants under the forms of elemental action. So Philo views the world as full of invisible life; de gig. § 2 (1.263 M.). In any case the LXX. rendering is adopted by the writer of the Epistle, and this is quite unambiguous. The Greek words describe the mutability, the materiality, and transitoriness of angelic service (comp. Weber, Altsynag. Theologie, § 34), which is placed in contrast with the personal and eternal sovereignty of the Son communicated to Him by the Father.

oJ poiw'n] The Greek Fathers lay stress on the word as marking the angels as created beings in contrast with the Son: ijdou; hJ megivsth diaforav, o{ti oiJ me;n ktistoi; oJ de; a[ktisto" (Chrys.).

pneuvmata] winds, not spirits. The context imperatively requires this rendering. And the word pneu'ma is appropriate here; for as distinguished from the commoner term a[nemo" it expresses a special exertion of the elemental force: Gen. 8:1; Ex. 15:10; 1 Kings 18:45; 19:11; 2 Kings 3:17; Job 1:19; Ps. 11:6 (10:6), & c.

leitourgouv"] The word seems always to retain something of its original force as expressing a public, social service. Comp. Rom. 13:6; 15:16; Heb. 8:2; and even Phil. 2:25 (v. 30). See also 2 Cor. 9:12.

The reference to the ‘winds’ and the ‘flame of fire’ could not fail to suggest to the Hebrew reader the accompaniments of the giving of the Law (Heb. 12:18 ff.). That awful scene was a revelation of the ministry of angels.

The variableness of the angelic nature was dwelt upon by Jewish theologians. Angels were supposed to live only as they ministered. In a remarkable passage of Shemoth R. (§ 15, p. 107 ) the angels are represented as ‘new every morning.’ ‘The angels are renewed every morning and after they have praised God they return to the stream of fire out of which they came (Lam. 3:23).’ The same idea is repeated in many places, as, for example, at length in Bereshith R. § 78, pp. 378 f. ().

Heb. 1:8. pro;" dev...] in reference to... The words in the Psalm are not addressed directly to the Son, though they point to Him.

oJ qrovno" sou oJ qeov"...dia; tou'to...oJ qeov", oJ qeov" sou...] It is not necessary to discuss here in detail the construction of the original words of the Psalm. The LXX. admits of two renderings: oJ qeov" can be taken as a vocative in both cases (Thy throne, O God,... therefore, O God, Thy God...) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first case (God is Thy throne, or Thy throne is God...), and in apposition to oJ qeov" sou in the second case (Therefore God, even Thy God...). The only important variation noted in the other Greek versions is that of Aquila, who gave the vocative qeev in the first clause (Hieron. Ep. lxv. ad Princ. § 13) and, as it appears, also in the second (Field, Hexapla ad loc.). It is scarcely possible that µyhiløa‘, H466 in the original can be addressed to the king. The presumption therefore is against the belief that oJ qeov" is a vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the rendering: God is Thy throne (or, Thy throne is God), that is ‘Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock’; and to take oJ qeov" as in apposition in the second clause.

The phrase ‘God is Thy throne’ is not indeed found elsewhere, but it is in no way more strange than Ps. 71:3 [Lord] be Thou to me a rock of habitation...Thou art my rock and my fortress. Is. 26:4 (R. V.) In the LORD JEHOVAH is an everlasting rock. Ps. 90:1 Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place. Ps. 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High... v. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, v. 9; Deut. 33:27 The eternal God is thy dwelling-place. Comp. Is. 22:23.

For the general thought compare Zech. 12:8. This interpretation is required if we adopt the reading aujtou' for sou.

It is commonly supposed that the force of the quotation lies in the divine title (oJ qeov") which, as it is held, is applied to the Son. It seems however from the whole form of the argument to lie rather in the description which is given of the Son's office and endowment. The angels are subject to constant change, He has a dominion for ever and ever; they work through material powers, He—the Incarnate Son—fulfils a moral sovereignty and is crowned with unique joy. Nor could the reader forget the later teaching of the Psalm on the Royal Bride and the Royal Race. In whatever way then oJ qeov" be taken, the quotation establishes the conclusion which the writer wishes to draw as to the essential difference of the Son and the angels. Indeed it might appear to many that the direct application of the divine Name to the Son would obscure the thought.

eij" to;n aij. tou' aij.] The phrase oJ aijw;n tou' aijw'no" is unique in the N. T. It is not unfrequent in the LXX. version of the Psalms together with eij" aijw'na aijw'no" and eij" to;n aijw'na kai; eij" to;n aijw'na tou' aijw'no" for d[,w: µl;/[l], d[,w: µl;/[ d['l;too many commas!.

The phrase oJ aijw;n tw'n aijwvnwn occurs in Eph. 3:21, aijw'ne" aijwvnwn in Apoc. 14:11, and oiJ aijw'ne" tw'n aijwvnwn (eij" tou;" aij. tw'n aij.) not unfrequently (Heb. 13:21).

kai; hJ rJavbdo" eujquvthto"] The kaiv, which is not found in the LXX. or the Heb., is probably added by the apostle to mark the two thoughts of the divine eternity of Messiah's kingdom and of the essential uprightness with which it is administered.

The word eujquvth" is found here only in the N.T. It occurs not very unfrequently in the LXX. for derivatives of rvy, and so Wisd. 9:3 & c. It is not quoted from Classical writers in a moral sense.

For rJavbdo" compare Apoc. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15. It is used in the LXX. as a rendering of hF,m, fb,ve, fyBir“v'. In classical Greek it is used rarely and only poetically (Pind. Ol. 9.51) for the rod of authority. Virga ‘justos regit, impios percutit’; sed haec virga fortitudo est invicta, aequitas rectissima, inflexibilis disciplina (Atto Verc.).

Heb. 1:9. hjgavphsa"...] Thou lovedst... The aorist of the LXX. gives a distinct application to the present of the Heb. The Son in His Work on earth fulfilled the ideal of righteousness; and the writer of the Epistle looks back upon that completed work now seen in its glorious issue.

dia; tou'to...] For this cause... Therefore... The words express the ground (‘because thou lovedst’) and not the end (‘that thou mightest love’). Comp. Heb. 2:1; 9:15 (not elsewhere in ep.). For the thought see Heb. 2:9; Phil. 2:9 (diov); John 10:17.

e[crisen] Comp. Luke 4:18 (Is. 61:1); Acts 4:27; 10:38. This unction has been referred (1) to the communication of royal dignity: 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:12 f.; and (2) to the crowning of the sovereign with joy, as at the royal banquet: Is. 61:3; comp. Acts 2:36. The second interpretation is to be preferred. The thought is of the consummation of the royal glory of the Ascended Son of man rather than of the beginning of it. Primasius gives a striking turn to the words: Oleo autem exsultationis seu laetitiae dicit illum unctum quia Christus nunquam peccavit, nunquam tristitiam habuit ex recordatione peccati. Quid est enim oleo laetitiae ungi nisi maculam non habere peccati?

oJ qeov", oJ qeov" sou] There can be no reason for taking the first oJ qeov" as a vocative, contrary to the certain meaning of the original, except that it may correspond with an interpretation of the first clause which has been set aside. The repetition of the divine Name has singular force: ‘God, who has made Himself known as thy God by the fulness of blessings which He has given.’

para; tou;" metovcou"] above thy fellows, Vulg. proe participibus tuis, above all who share the privilege of ministering to the fulfilment of God's will by His appointment. There is no limitation to any sphere of being or class of ministers; but of men it is specially declared that Christ has made believers ‘a kingdomand priests’ (Apoc. 1:6; comp. Matt. 25:34). They too have received ‘an unction’ (1 John 2:20). Comp. 2 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12.

e[l. ajgall.] Comp. 12:2 carav. The same original phrase (ˆŸ/cc; ˆm,v¶,) occurs again in Is. 61:3 (a[leimma eujfrosuvnh") in opposition to ‘mourning’ (lb,a+e). It refers not to the solemn anointing to royal dignity but to the festive anointing on occasions of rejoicing.

(3) Heb. 1:10-12. The superior dignity of the Son as Creator in contrast with creation (‘through whom He made the world’).

A new quotation adds a fresh thought. The exalted king, who is truly man, is also above all finite beings.

The words are taken from Ps. 102:26, 27 (101:26, 27), according to the LXX. text with some variations. The suv is brought forward for emphasis, and wJ" iJmavtion is repeated by the best authorities; the Kuvrie is added to the original text by the LXX. from the earlier part of the Psalm; and the present text of the LXX. followed by the Epistle has eJlivxei" aujtouv" when ajllavxei" aujtouv", a variant found in some copies, would have been the natural rendering in correspondence with ajllaghvsontai which follows. The introduction of Kuvrie is of importance for the application made of the words. It is of the greater significance because in v. 24 lae, H445 is introduced (though the LXX. renders differently), while in every other case the sacred Name in the Psalm is (hy), H3378 hwhy. The insertion of Kuvrie therefore emphasises the thought that the majestic picture of divine unchangeableness belongs to God as He has entered into Covenant with man.

The Psalm itself is the appeal of an exile to the LORD, in which out of the depth of distress he confidently looks for the personal intervention of Jehovah for the restoration of Zion. The application to the Incarnate Son of words addressed to Jehovah (see Heb. 1:6) rests on the essential conception of the relation of Jehovah to His people. The Covenant leads up to the Incarnation. And historically it was through the identification of the coming of Christ with the coming of ‘the LORD’ that the Apostles were led to the perception of His true Divinity. Compare Acts 2:16 ff., 21, 36; 4:10, 12; 9:20; Heb. 3:7, Addit. Note.

It is not however to be supposed that Jehovah was personally identified with Christ. Rather the conception of the God of Israel was enlarged; and the revelation of God as Jehovah, the God of the Covenant, the God Who enters into fellowship with man, was found to receive its consummation in the mission of the Son.



10 And [again of the Son He saith]




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