EXORDIUM intimating in a succession of choice and pregnant phrases, the drift of the Epistle; a condensed summary of the coming argument. It briefly anticipates the views to be set forth in the sequel, of the revelation of God in Christ excelling far, and being destined to supersede, all that had preceded it, as being the ultimate Divine manifestation in the SON, according to the full meaning of the term involved in ancient prophecy;—of the eternal Divinity of him who was thus revealed in time as SON—of his accomplishing, as such, the reality signified by the ancient priesthood; and of his exaltation, as such, to his predestined glory and dominion on high. We find in the introduction to some of St. Paul's Epistles somewhat similar adumbrations of his subject, but none so finished and rhetorical as this. And if its style affords an argument, as far as it goes, against the immediate Pauline authorship of the Epistle, still more does it appear almost conclusive against the view of its being a translation. Not merely the alliteration in πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως, but the Greek structure of the whole with its rhythmical flow, betokens an original composition. The rolling music of the language cannot, of course, be reproduced in an English translation.
Retaining the order of the words in the original, we may translate, In many portions, and in many modes of old God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets. πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως—not a mere alliterative redundancy, denoting variously:—the writer's usual choice use of words forbids this supposition. Nor is the μερῶς of the first adverb to be taken (as in the A.V) to denote portions of time:—this is not the proper meaning of the compound. Nor (for the same reason) does it denote various degrees of prophetic inspiration, but (on etymological as well as logical grounds) the various portions of the preparatory revelation to "the fathers." It was not one utterance, but many utterances; given, in fact, at divers times, though it is to the diversity of the utterances, and not of the times, that the expression points. Then the second adverb denotes the various modes of the several former revelations—not necessarily or exclusively the rabbinical distinction between dream, vision, inspiration, voices, angels; or that between the visions and dreams of prophets and the "mouth to mouth" revelation to Moses, referred to in Numbers 12:6-9; but rather the various characters or forms of the various utterances in themselves. Some were in the way of primeval promises; some of glimpses into the Divine righteousness, as in the Law given from Mount Sinai; some of significant ritual, as in the same Law; some of typical history and typical persons, spoken of under inspiration as representing an unfulfilled ideal; some of the yearnings and aspirations, or distinct predictions, of psalmists and of prophets. But all these were but partial, fragmentary, anticipatory utterances, leading up to and adumbrating the 'one complete, all-absorbing "speaking of God to us in the SON," which is placed in contrast with there all. If the subsequent treatment in this Epistle of the Old Testament utterances is to be taken as a key for unlocking the meaning of the exordium, such ideas were in the writer's mind when he thus wrote. " πολυμερῶς pertinet ad materiam, πολυτρόπως ad formam" (Bengel). Of old; i.e. in the ages comprised in the Old Testament record. Though it is true that; God has revealed himself variously since the world was made to other than the saints of the Old Testament, and though he ceased not to speak in some way to his people between the times of Malachi and of Christ, yet both the expression, "to the fathers," and the instances of Divine utterances given subsequently in the Epistle, restrict us in our interpretation to the Old Testament canon. Addressing Hebrews, it is from this that the writer argues. Having spoken; a word used elsewhere to express all the ways in which God has made himself, his will, and his counsels, known (cf. Matthew 10:20; Luke 1:45, Luke 1:70; John 9:29; Acts 3:21; Acts 7:6). To the fathers; the ancestors of the Jews in respect both of race and of faith; the saints of the Old Testament. The word had a well-understood meaning (cf. Matthew 23:1-39. 30; Luke 1:55, Luke 1:72; Luke 11:47; and especially Romans 9:5). For the double sense of the term "father," thus used, see John 8:56, "your father Abraham;" but again, John 8:39, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham;" and also Romans 4:1-25. and Galatians 3:7. But this distinction between physical and spiritual ancestry does not come in here. In the prophets. The word "prophet" must be taken here in a general sense; not confined to the prophets distinctively so called, as in Luke 24:44, "Moses, the prophets, and the psalms." For both Moses and the psalms are quoted in the sequel, to illustrate the ancient utterances. προφήτης means, both in classical and Hellenistic Greek (as does the Hebrew איבִןָ, of which προφήτης is the equivalent), not a foreteller, but a forth teller of the mind of God, an inspired expounder (of. διὸς προφήτης ἐστὶ λοξίας πατρός, AEsch., 'Eum.,' 19; and Exodus 7:1, "See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet"). Observe also the sense of προφητεία in St. Paul's Epistles (especially 1 Corinthians 14:1-40). In this sense Moses, David, and all through whom God in any way spoke to man, were prophets. On the exact force of the preposition ἐν, many views have been entertained. It does not mean "in the books of the prophets,"—the corresponding "in the SON" precludes this; nor that God by his Spirit spoke within the prophets,—this idea does not come in naturally here; nor is "the SON" presented afterwards as one in whom the Godhead dwelt, so much as being himself a manifestation of God; nor may we take ἐν, as simply a Hellenism for διὰ,—the writer does not use prepositions indiscriminately. ἐν, (as Alford explains it) differs from διὰ as denoting the element in which this speaking takes place. This use of the preposition is found also in classical Greek; cf. σημαίνειν ἐν οἰωνοῖς, frequent in Xenophon; in the New Testament, of. ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίωι ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια" (Matthew 9:34).
In these last days. The true reading being ἐπ ἐσχάτον τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, not ἐπ ἐσχάτων, as in the Textus Receptus, translate, at the end of these days', The Received Text would, indeed, give the same meaning, the position of the article denoting' "the lustier these days," not "these last days." The reference appears to be to the common rabbinical division of time into αἰὼν οὖτος, and αἰὼν μέλλων, or ἐρχόμενος: the former denoting the pro-Messianic, the latter the Messianic period. Thus "these days" is equivalent to αἰὼν οὓτος, "the present age," and the whole expression to ἐπὶ συντέλειᾳ τῶν αἰώνων, "at the end of the ages" (infra, Hebrews 9:26); cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11," for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come." The term, αἰὼν μέλλων, is also used in this Epistle (6. 5); of. 1 Corinthians 2:5, τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν. For allusions elsewhere to the two periods, of. Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:35; Ephesians 1:21; Titus 2:12. Cf. also in Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6, where, for "Everlasting Father," Cod. Alex. has πατὴρ τοῦ μελλόντος αἰῶνος. A subject of discussion has been the point of division between the two ages—whether the commencement of the Christian dispensation, ushered in by the exaltation of Christ, or his second advent. The conception in the Jewish mind, founded on Messianic prophecy, would, of course, be undefined. It would only be that the coming of the Messiah would inaugurate a new order of things. But how did the New Testament writers after Christ's ascension conceive the two ages? Did they regard themselves as living at the end of the former age or at the beginning of the new one? The passage before us does not help to settle the question, nor does Hebrews 9:26; for the reference in both cases is to the historical manifestation of Christ before his ascension. But others of the passages cited above seem certainly to imply that "the coming age" was regarded as still future. It has been said, indeed, with regard to this apparent inference from some of them, that the writers were regarding their own age from the old Jewish standing-point when they spoke of it as future, or only used well-known phrases to denote the two ages, though they were no longer strictly applicable (see Alford's note on Hebrews 2:5). But this explanation cannot well be made to apply to such passages as 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Ephesians 1:21, or to those in the Gospels. It would appear from them that it was not till the παρούσια (or, as it is designated in the pastoral Epistles, the ἐπιφάνεια) of Christ that "the coming age" of prophecy was regarded as destined to begin, ushering in "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). Still, though "that day" was in the future, the first coming of Christ had been, as it were, its dawn, signifying its approach and preparing believers for meeting it. "The darkness was passing away; the true light was already shining" (1 John 2:8). Hence the apostolic writers sometimes speak as if already in the "coming age;" as being already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20); as already "made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:6); having already "tasted the powers of the age to come" (Hebrews 6:5). In a certain sense they felt themselves in the new order of things, though, strictly speaking, they still regarded their own age as but the end of the old one, irradiated by the light of the new. To understand fully their language on the subject, we should remember that they supposed the second advent to be more imminent than it was. St. Paul, at one time certainly, thought that it might be before his own death (2 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:15). Thus they might naturally speak of their own time as the conclusion of the former age, though regarding the second advent as the commencement of the new one. But the prolongation of" the end of these (lays," unforeseen by them, does not affect the essence of their teaching on the subject. In the Divine counsels "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Hath spoken unto us (more properly, spake to us) in his Son. "His" is here properly supplied to give the meaning of ἐν υἱῷ. The rendering, a SON, which seems to have the advantage of literalism, would be misleading if it suggested the idea of one among many sons, or a son in the same sense in which others are sons. For though the designation, "son of God," is undoubtedly used in subordinate senses—applied e.g. to Adam, to angels, to good men, to Christians—yet what follows in the Epistle fixes its peculiar meaning here. The entire drift of the curlier part of the Epistle is to show that the idea involved in the word "Son," as applied to the Messiah in prophecy, is that of a relation to God far above that of the angels or of Moses, and altogether unique in its character. This idea must have been in the writer's mind when he selected the phrases of his exordium. Nor is the article required for the sense intended. Its omission, in fact, brings it out. ἐν τῷ υἱῷ would have drawn especial attention to "the personage in whom God spake; ἐν υἱῷ does so rather to the mode of the speaking—it is equivalent to "in one who was SON." Son-revelation (as afterwards explained), is contrasted with previous prophetic revelations (cf. for omission of the article before υἱὸς, Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:28). Whom he appointed (or, constituted) heir of all things; not, as in the A.V., "hath appointed." The verb is in the aorist, and here the indefinite sense of the aorist should be preserved. "Convenienter statim sub Filii nomen memoratur haereditas" (Bengel). Two questions arise.
In answer to question
(a) his eternal pre-existence has not yet been touched upon: it is introduced, as it were parenthetically, in the next and following clauses.
(b) Though the term Son is legitimately used in theology to denote the eternal relation to the Father expressed by the λόγος of St. John, yet its application in this Epistle and in the New Testament generally (excepting, perhaps, the μονογενὴς υἱὸς peculiar to St. John, on which see Bull, 'Jud. Eccl. Cath.,' Ecclesiastes 5:4, etc), is to the Word made flesh, to the Son as manifested in the Christ. And hence it is to him as such that we may conclude the heirship to be here assigned.
(c) This is the view carried out in the sequel of the Epistle, where the SON is represented as attaining the universal dominion assigned to him after, and in consequence of, his human obedience. The conclusion of the exordium in itself expresses this; for it is not till after he had made purification of sins that he is said to have "sat down," etc; i.e. entered on his inheritance; having become ( γένομενος not ὢν) "so much better," etc. This is the view of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Fathers generally (cf. the cognate passage, Philippians 2:9).
Who, being, etc. The participle ᾢν—not γενόμενος, as in Hebrews 1:4—denotes (as does still more forcibly ὐπάρχων in the cognate passage, Philippians 2:6) what the Son is in himself essentially and independently of his manifestation in time. This transcendent idea is conveyed by two metaphorical expressions, differing in the metaphors used, but concurrent in meaning. The brightness of his glory. The word δόξα (translated "glory"), though net in classical Greek carrying with it the idea of light, is used in the LXX. for the Hebrew דוֹבךָּ, which denotes the splendor surrounding God; manifested on Mount Sinai, in the holy of holies, in the visions of Ezekiel, etc; and regarded as existing eternally "above the heavens" (cf. Exodus 24:15 ; Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 8:4; Psalms 24:7, Psalms 24:8, etc). But the full blaze of this glory, accompanying" the face" of God, even Moses was not allowed to see; for no man could see him and live. Moses was hidden in a cleft of the rock while the God's glory passed by, and saw only its outskirts, i.e. the radiance left behind after it; had passed; hearing meanwhile a proclamation of the moral attributes of Deity, by a perception of which he might best see God (Exodus 33:18, etc). Similarly in the New Testament. There also, as on Sinai, in the tabernacle, and in prophetic vision, the glory of God is occasionally manifested under the form of an unearthly radiance; as in the vision of the shepherds (Luke 2:9), the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28, etc), the ecstasy of Stephen (Acts 7:55). But in itself, as it surrounds "the face" of God, it is still invisible and unapproachable; cf. John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time;" 1 John 1:5, "God is Light;" 1 Timothy 6:16, "Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto ( φῶς απρόσιτον), whom no man hath seen nor can see." It denotes really, under the image of eternal, self-existent, unapproachable light, the ineffable Divine perfection, the essence of Deity, which is beyond human ken. "Sempiterna ejus virtus et divinitas" (Bengel). Of this glory the SON is the ἀπαύγασμα—a word not occurring elsewhere in the New Testament, but used by the Alexandrian writers. The verb ἀπαυγάζω means "to radiate," "to beam forth brightness;" and ἀπαύγασμα, according to the proper meaning of nouns so formed, should mean the brightness beamed forth—this rather than its reflection from another object, as the sun's light is reflected from a cloud. So the noun is used in Wis. 7:26, as applied to σοφία, which is there personified in a manner suggestive of the doctrine of the λόγος: ἀτμὶς γὰρ ἐστὶ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀπόρροια τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής … a̓παύγασμα γὰρ ἐστὶ φωτὸς αἰδίου And Philo speaks of the breath of life breathed lute man (Genesis 2:7) as τῆς μακαρίας καὶ τρισμακαρίας φύσευς απαύγασμα ('De Spec. Leg.,' § 11). As, then, the eradiated brightness is to the source of light, so is the SON, in his eternal being, to the Father. It is, so to speak, begotten of the source, and of one substance with it, and yet distinguishable from it; being that through which its glory is made manifest, and through which it enlightens all things. The Person of the Son is thus represented, not as of one apart from God, irradiated by his glory, but as himself the sheen of his glory; cf. John 1:14, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;" also John 1:4; John 1:9. The above is the view taken by the Fathers generally, and expressed in the Church's Creed, φῶς ἐκ φωτός. And express Image of his substance; not "of his person," as in the A.V. The latter rendering is due to the long-accepted theological use of the word ὑπόστασις in the sense of personal subsistence, as applied to each of the Three in One. What the Latins called persona the Greeks at length agreed to call hypostasis, while the Greek οὐσία (equivalent to essentia) and the Latin substantia (though the latter word etymologically corresponds with hypostasis) were used as equivalents in meaning. But it was long after the apostolic age that this scientific use of the word became fixed. After as well as before the Nicene Council usia was sometimes used to denote what we mean by person, and hypostasis to denote what we mean by the substance of the Godhead; and hence came misunderstandings during the Arian controversy. Bull ('Def. Fid. Nic.,' 2.9. 11) gives a catena of instances of this uncertain usage. The definite doctrine of the Trinity, though apparent in the New Testament, had not as yet come under discussion at the time of the writing of this Epistle, or been as yet scientifically formulated; and hence we must take the word in its general and original sense, the same as that now attached to its etymological equivalent, substantia. It means literally, "a standing under," and is used
Having become by so much better than the angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they ( διαφορωτέρον παρ αὐτοὺς). (For the same Greek form of comparison, see Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 3:3) " παρα ingentem printer caeteros excellentiam denotat" (Bengel). This verse, though, in respect of grammatical construction, it is the conclusion of the exordium, serves as the thesis of the first section of the argument to follow, the drift of which is to show the SON'S superiority to the angels. The mention of the angels comes naturally after the allusion to Psalms 110:1-7., viewed and quoted as it is afterwards in connection with Psalms 8:1-9., in which "a little lower than the angels" is taken to denote the state previous to the exaltation; and it is preparatory also for the argument that follows. The more distinguished name, expressing the measure of superiority to the angels, is (as the sequel shows) the name of SON, assigned (as aforesaid) to the Messiah in prophecy, and so, with all that it implies, "inherited" by him in time according to the Divine purpose. Observe the perfect, "hath inherited," instead of the aorist as hitherto, denotes, with the usual force of the Greek tense, the continuance of the inheritance obtained. It' we have entered into the view all along taken by the writer, we shall see no difficulty in the SON being said to have become better than the angels at the time of his exaltation, as though he had been below them before. So he had in respect of his assumed humanity, and it is to the SON denoted in prophecy to be humanly manifested in time that the whole sentence in its main purport refers. As such, having been, with us, lower than the angels, he became greater, the interposed references to his eternal personality retaining their full force notwithstanding. But why should the name of SON in itself imply superiority to the angels? Angels themselves are, in the Old Testament, called "sons of God." It has been suggested that the writer of the Epistle was not aware of the angels being so designated, since the LXX., from which he invariably quotes, renders מילִאֶ ינִףְ by ἀγγέλοι. But this is not so invariably. In Genesis 6:1; Psalms 29:1; and Psalms 89:7, we find υἱοί θεοῦ. And, whatever be the application of the words in each of these passages, they at any rate occur in the LXX. as denoting others than the Messiah. Nor, in any case, would it be easily supposable that one so versed in biblical lore as the writer must have been had been thus misled in so important a point of his argument. The fact is that his argument, properly understood, is quite consistent with a full knowledge of the fact that others as well as the Messiah are so designated. For it is not merely the term "Son" as applied to the Messiah in prophecy, but the unique manner in which it is so applied, that is insisted on in what follows. The form of his commencement shows this. He does not say, "Whom, except the Messiah, did he ever call Son?" but, "To which of the angels did he ever speak as follows, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee?" In language generally the meaning of a word may depend very materially on the context in which it occurs and other determining circumstances. Indeed, the mere use of the title in the singular, "my Son," carries with it a different idea from its use in the plural of a class of beings. But this is not all. A series of passages from the Old Testament is adduced by way of expressly showing that the sonship assigned to the Messiah carries with it the idea of a relation to God altogether beyond any ever assigned to angels. Such is the position of the writer. We shall see in the sequel how He makes it good.
Heb 1:5-3:1.—THE SON SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS. Here the argumentation of the Epistle begins, the thesis of the first section of the argument having been given, as aforesaid, in the preceding verse, that "the SON is superior to the angels." The second section begins at Hebrews 3:1, the thesis being that "the SON is superior to Moses." Through angels and Moses the Law was given: "Ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator" (Galatians 3:19), the "mediator" being Moses. To show that the Son, in the Old Testament itself, is represented as above both, is to show, what it is the main purpose of the whole Epistle to establish, that the gospel, given through the SON, is above the Law, and intended to supersede it. The conclusion is that the gospel stands in the same relation to the Law as does the Son to angels, who are but "ministering spirits," and to Moses, who was but a "servant." With regard to the agency of angels in the giving of the Law, we do not find it so evident in the Old Testament as might have been expected from the references to it in the New. The "angel of Lord," who appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) and went before the people (Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:1-33. 20, etc), seems in the earlier books of the Bible to signify a certain presence and manifestation of the Lend himself, rather than a created minister of his will (see Genesis 16:7, Genesis 16:13; Genesis 22:15, Genesis 22:16; Exodus 3:2, Exodus 3:4; Exodus 23:1-33. 20, 21; of. Acts 7:31, Acts 7:35, Acts 7:38); and this has been identified by theologians with the Word, not yet incarnate, through whom all Divine communications have been made to men. It is to be observed, however, that, after the sin of the golden calf, a distinction seems to be made between the presence of the Lend with his people and that of the angel to be thenceforth sent before them (Exodus 33:2, Exodus 33:3). Ebrard sees in the "angel of the LORD" generally, though understood as signifying a Divine presence, a justification of the statement that the Law was given "through angels," on the ground that, though God did so manifest himself, it was not a direct manifestation, as in the Son, but through forms borrowed from the sphere of the angels. It was an angelophany, denoting an unseen Divine presence, not a true theophany. The only distinct allusion to "angels," in the plural, in connection with the giving of the Law, is in Deuteronomy 33:2, "He came with ten thousands of saints;" with which comp. Psalms 68:17. But there is no doubt that it came afterwards to be the accepted rabbinical view that the dispensers of the Law were angels—whether as attendants on the Divine Majesty, or as agents of the fiery phenomena on Mount Sinai (natural operations being often attributed to angels), or as the utterers of the voice that was heard. "Locutus est Deus per angeles" (Bengel). And the writers of the New Testament plainly recognize this view (see below, Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). Hence our author takes for granted that his readers will understand and recognize it, and so implies it in his argument, expressing, as it does, a true conception of the nature of the Mosaic dispensation, and especially of its relation to the gospel. To resume our view of the argument that follows. The first section (as aforesaid) is from Hebrews 1:5 to Hebrews 3:1, having for its thesis the superiority of the SON to angels. The second section is from Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 5:1, having for its thesis the superiority of the Son to Moses. Each section consists of two main divisions, between which in each ease an appropriate exhortation is interposed; the first division in each ease treating of what the Son is in his own person, the second of his work for man; and both sections leading separately to the conclusion that he is the High Priest of humanity. Then, in Hebrews 5:1-14., the subject of his priesthood is taken up. Ebrard happily illustrates the symmetrical plan of the argument thus: "The author, having thus been led from these two different starting-points to the idea of the ἀρχιερεύς, now proceeds to place on the two first parts, which may be viewed as the pillars of the arch, the third part, which forms the keystone." In this third part it begins to be shown, at Hebrews 5:1, how Christ fulfilled in his humanity the essential idea of priesthood. But, for reasons that will appear, the full doctrine of his eternal priesthood is not entered upon till Heb 7:1—10:19, which may be called the central portion of the whole Epistle. The remainder (Hebrews 10:20—end) may be distinguished from the rest as being the distinctly hortatory part (though her-ration has been frequently interposed in the argument), being mainly devoted to practical application of the doctrine that has been established. The following plan of the argument of the first two sections, showing the parallelism between them, may assist us in entering into it as it proceeds:—
Thesis: Christ superior to the angels.
Division 1 (Heb 1:5-2:1).
The name SON, as applied to the typical theocratic kings, and in its final reference and full meaning (as you all acknowledge) pointing to the Messiah, expresses a position altogether above any assigned anywhere to angels. The Son is represented as one associated with God in his majesty, a sharer of his everlasting throne. Angels are referred to only as ministering spirits or attendant worshippers at the Son's advent.
Interposed exhortation (Hebrews 2:1-5). This being so, beware of not appreciating the revelation now given in the Son. In transgression of the Law given through angels was so severely visited, what will be the consequence of neglecting this, accredited to us as it has been?
Division 2 (Heb 2:5-3:1).
The Son also, but never angels, is denoted in prophecy as Lord of the coming age. For the eighth psalm (based on and carrying out the idea of the account in Genesis of the original creation) assigns a supremacy over all created things to man. Man, as he is now, does not fulfill the ideal of his destiny. But Christ, as Son of man, in his exaltation, does. And in him man attains his destined dignity forfeited through sin. His humiliation, suffering and death were for the purpose of thus raising man. His humiliation with this and was a design worthy of God, and in accordance with the purport of Messianic prophecy. For such prophecy intimates association and sympathy of the Messiah with his human brethren. Thus Christ, the SON, is the sympathizing High Priest of humanity.
Thesis: Christ superior to Moses.
Division 1 (Hebrews 3:1-7).
Moses is represented in the Old Testament as but a servant in the house of God. The SON is lord over the house.
Interposed exhortation (Heb 3:7-4:1). This being so, beware of hardening your hearts, like the Israelites under Moses. If they failed, through unbelief, of entering into the rest offered to them, you may similarly fail of entering into the rest intended for you.
Division 2 (Heb 4:1-5:1).
A rest, symbolized by that of the promised land, is still offered to you, and you may enter into it. The ninetieth psalm shows that the rest into which Joshua led the Israelites was not the final one intended for God's people. The true rest is the rest of God himself (" my rest," Psalms 90:1-17), spoken of in the account of the creation—the sabbath rest of eternity. Christ, after sharing our human trials, has passed into that eternal rest, and won an entrance into it for us. Thus, again, a renewed exhortation being interposed, Christ, the SON, is again set forth as the sympathizing High Priest of humanity.
For to which of the angels said he at any time. Observe the form of the question, which has been already noticed. It is not, "When were angels ever called sons?" but to this effect: "To which of them did he ever speak (individually) in the following remarkable terms?" The first quotation is from Psalms 2:7; the second from 2 Samuel 7:14. The second having had undoubtedly a primary reference to Solomon, and the first presumably to some king of Israel, probably to David, we may here properly pause to consider the principle of the application of such passages to Christ. It must be allowed that, not only in this Epistle, but in the New Testament generally, sayings which had a primary reference to events or personages in the past, are applied directly to Christ; and in some eases where the justness of the application may not be to all of us at first sight obvious. With regard to this usage, Bengel says, "Veri interpretes verborum divinorum sunt apostoli; etiamsi nos sine illis talem sententiam non assigneremur." But such applications are plainly not arbitrary. They rest on a principle of interpretation which it is of importance for us to understand. First, we may observe that the method was not originated by the New Testament writers; it was one received among the Jews of their time, who saw throughout the Old Testament anticipations of the Messiah. This appears both from rabbinical literature and also from the New Testament itself. For instance, the priests and scribes consulted by Herod (Matthew 2:5) referred Micah 5:2 as a matter of course to the Messiah; and the Pharisees (Matthew 22:44) never thought of disputing the application of Psalms 110:1-7. to him. And not only so. The Old Testament itself suggests and exemplifies such applications. For students of the prophetic writings must be aware how utterances that had a primary fulfillment in one age are sometimes taken up in a subsequent one as though yet to be fulfilled, their scope enlarged, and their final reference often thrown forward to "that day"—the Messianic age—which alone terminates the view of the later prophets. Now, it has been said, in explanation of this mode of treatment, that prophecy often had a double meaning, referring partly to one thing and partly to another; or several meanings, with reference to several different things. But this way of putting the matter is unsatisfactory. Bacon better hit the mark, when, in a well-known passage in his 'Advancement of Learning' (bk. 2), he spoke of "that latitude which is agreeable and familiar unto Divine prophecies, being of the nature of their Author, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, and therefore are not fulfilled punctually at once, but have springing and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages; though the height or fullness of them may refer to some one age." We may put it thus: It was of the nature of prophetic inspiration to lift the seer above and beyond his immediate subject to the contemplation of some grand ideal, which it suggested to his vision, and more or less perfectly fulfilled. He has, for instance, as the basis of his vision, a David, a Solomon, a Hezekiah, or a Zerubbabel; he has as its framework the circumstances of his own time or of the time near at hand; but we find his language, as he proceeds, rising far above Iris vision's original scope, and applicable to those comprised within it only so far as they embody and realize the ideal which they represent to his mind. Hence the taking up of old prophecies by succeeding prophets, their enlargement and reapplication to new fulfillments; and this, too, in terms transcending the reality of these new fulfillments; as, for instance, when Isaiah, taking up the idea of Nathan's message to David (2 Samuel 7:1-29), applies it apparently to a son and a reign to be looked for in his own age, but at length in language which can have no other than a Messianic reference (Isaiah 9:6, etc; Isaiah 11:1, etc; of. Jeremiah 33:15). Hence, lastly, the application in the New Testament of all such ancient utterances at once to Christ, as being the final and complete fulfillment of the ideal of prophecy, the true Antitype of all the types. A clear perception of this view of the drift of prophecy will remove difficulties that have been felt as to the application of many quotations from the Old Testament, in this Epistle and elsewhere, to Christ. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; a quotation from Psalms 2:7. This psalm is expressly quoted as David's in Acts 4:25, and has internal evidence of being his, and of having had primary reference to his reign. For the mention of Zion (Acts 4:6) precludes an earlier date, while the circumstances of warfare alluded to do not agree with the peaceful reign of Solomon, nor the picture of undivided empire with any period after the secession of the ten tribes. Further, the rising and consequent subjugation by David of subject races, described in 2 Samuel 8:1-18., presents to us a state of things very likely to have suggested the psalm; and to this period of David's reign it is usually referred with probability by modern commentators. But the question of date and authorship is not material to our view of the prophetic meaning of the psalm. Taking it to be David's, we find as follows: There is a rebellious confederation of subject kings against the dominion of the King of Israel, who is spoken of as "the Anointed" of the LORD. In view of their hostile preparations, the LORD in heaven is conceived as laughing to scorn their devices against him whom he himself had enthroned on Zion. Then the king speaks, "I will declare the decree [or, 'I will tell of a decree']; the Load said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and for thy possession the ends of the earth." Then follows an admonition to the rebels to do homage to this SON, submission to whom is submission to the Loan, and whose anger is as the LORD'S anger. Now, it is evident that the language used transcends literal application to any earthly king. Hence some commentators have been led to suppose that it had no even primary reference to one, being simply prophetic of the Messiah, though suggested by the circumstances of David's day. Thus Ebrard, supporting his view by the assumption (which is usually made) of the message of Nathan to David (2 Samuel 7:14) being the "decree" referred to in the psalm, and the foundation of the confidence expressed in it. He argues that it was not to David, but to his posterity ( ערַזֶ ), that the position of sonship was assigned, and eternal dominion promised; and hence that David in this psalm (which he considers to have been certainly by him) must have been speaking, not in his own name, but in that of his seed after him, looking adoringly forward to the fulfillment of that glorious hope in the distant future (2 Samuel 7:19). Thus, he concludes, the insurrection of the Syrians forms merely the occasion, but not the object and import, of the second psalm. But, even if the message of Nathan were certainly the basis of the idea of the psalm, we find an instance of the express application of that message to David himself; as well as to his posterity, in Psalms 89:1-52. (see Psalms 89:20-28). It may be, however, that the reference in the psalm is to some Divine intimation, possibly to some prophecy or oracular utterance, delivered to David himself at the time of the inauguration of his own sovereignty, and long before Nathan's message. In any case, it is in accordance with the genius of prophecy, as above explained, that the words should have had a primary reference to David himself, so far forth as he imperfectly fulfilled their meaning. The main thing to be observed is that they represent an ideal of sonship and unlimited sovereignty beyond any that could, as a matter of fact, be considered as fulfilled in David. And this view of its meaning, suggested by the psalm itself, is confirmed by the use made of it in later Scripture. For it is evident that this psalm, together with the passage from 2 Samuel 7:1-29. (to be cited next) is made the basis of a long series of Messianic prophecies (of. 2 Samuel 23:1-39. 1, etc; Psalms 110:1-7; Psalms 89:1-52; Psalms 132:1-18; Isaiah 7-9; Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10; Jeremiah 23:1-40. 5; Jeremiah 33:15; Micah 4:1-13.-5; Zechariah 6:12, etc). Its application to Christ in the New Testament is distinct and frequent (cf. Acts 4:25; Acts 13:33; Roy. Acts 2:27; Acts 12:5; Acts 19:15). As to the phrase, "This day have I begotten thee," there is a difference of view among both ancient and modern expositors. The word "begotten" ( γεγέννηκα) naturally suggests μονογενὴς, and is hence taken by some as referring to the eternal generation of the Son; in which case it can have had no application in any conceivable sense to the human type. "This day" has also in this case to be explained as denoting the ever-present today of eternity. So Origen, in a striking passage, "It is said to him by God, to whom it is always today. For God has no evening, nor (as I deem) any morning, but the time which is coextensive with his own unbegotten and eternal life is the day in which the Son is begotten, there being thus found no beginning of his generation, as neither is there of the day." Athanasius takes the same view; also Basil, Primasius, Thomas Aquinas, and many others. The main objection to it is the inapplicability of such a meaning of the words, even in a subordinate sense, to David or any other king of Israel. Alford, indeed, urges that this meaning agrees best with the context in the Epistle, on the ground that the eternal being of the Son, having been stated in the exordium, might be expected to be referred to in the proof. But this is hardly to the point. The writer has now begun his argument from the Old Testament, and is engaged in showing the idea involved in the term Son as applied therein to the Messiah. This, therefore, and not what he has said previously, is what we have to regard in our interpretation; and the most obvious view of the phrase, as it occurs in the psalm itself, is to regard it as a figure denoting forcibly the paternity of God; of. Jeremiah 2:27, "They say to the wood, Thou art my father; to the stone, Thou hast begotten me." It expresses the idea that the "Son of God" spoken of derives his existence as such from him, and not from human ancestry. Chrysostom, among the ancients, understands the phrase as thus referring to the sonship assigned to the Messiah in time, and not to his eternal being. This view being taken, "this day," in reference to the king, may mean the day of the "decree," or that of his enthronement on Mount Zion. In reference to Christ it has been variously understood of the time of his incarnation, or resurrection, or ascension. If it be thought necessary to assign any definite time to it in its application to Christ, the view of its being the day of the resurrection is supported by such passages as Colossians 1:18, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν: and Romans 1:4, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει .. ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν: of. Acts 2:30 and Acts 13:32, etc., "The promise that was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again: as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." This last text, be it observed, is almost conclusive against the eternal generation being understood as referred to; as is also the application of the same text infra, Hebrews 5:5, where it is quoted in proof of Christ's appointment to the eternal priesthood. [" The title of begetting is ofttimes in sacred language to be measured, not by the scale of philosophers' or naturalists' dialect, but of moral or civil language or interpretation. For they that are sons by adoption only, or next heirs by reversion to a crown or dignity, are said to be begotten of those which adopt them, or of whom they be the immediate heirs or successors: and in this sense in the sacred genealogy (Matthew 1:12) Jeconiah is said to have begotten Salathiel. So that David upon his own occasions (whether upon his anointing to the crown of Judah in Hebron, or of Israel in Zion) might in the literal sense avouch these words of himself, 'I will preach the law whereof the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.' For David to call the day of his coronation, or of his designation to the crown of Judah, or of all Israel, his birthday, or begetting of God, by whose special power and providence he was crowned, is not so harsh as some haply would deem it that either know not or consider not that it was usual in other states or kingdoms beside Judah to celebrate two natales dies, two solemn nativities or birthdays in honor of their kings and emperors: the one they called diem natalem imperatoris, the other diem natalem imperii; the one the birthday of the emperor when he was born of his natural mother, the other the birthday of him as he was emperor, which we call the coronation day. The reason might hold more peculiar in David than in any other princes, because he was the first of all the seed of Abraham that took possession of the hill of Zion, and settled the kingdom of Judah, prophesied of by his father Jacob, upon himself and his posterity Thus Ego hodie genuite, with submission of my opinion to better judgment, is a prediction typically prophetical, which kind of prediction, as hath been observed before, is the most concludent; and this one of the highest rank in that kind; that is, an oracle truly meant of David according to the literal sense, and yet fulfilled of Christ, the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead, both according to the most exquisite literal and the mystical and principally intended sense".] And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son (2 Samuel 7:14); from Nathan's message to David, which has been spoken of above. The words do not in themselves express so unique a sonship as those used in the psalm; but, viewed in connection with the psalm, with their own context, and with subsequent prophecy, they suggest the same meaning. David had formed the design of building a temple; Nathan, by the word of the Loire, forbids his doing so, but tells him that his "seed" after him should build a house for the LORD'S Name, and that the Load would establish the throne of his kingdom for ever." Then comes the text," I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son;" followed by, "If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men .. but my mercy shall not depart away from him And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." Now, there can be no doubt that there was a primary and partial fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, who built the temple after David's death. He took it to himself, so far as it was applicable to him, after his completion of the temple (1 Kings 8:17, etc). But it is equally evident that its meaning could not be exhausted in him. The eternity assigned to the throne of the kingdom points to a distant as well as an immediate fulfillment, and the word translated "seed" (Hebrew, ערַזֶ ), though applicable in a concrete sense to an individual offspring (of. Gem 4:25; 1 Samuel 1:11), is properly a collective noun, denoting "posterity," and thus naturally lends itself to a far-reaching application. The consideration, however, of especial weight in support of such application is that psalmists and prophets cease not to make this original promise the basis of Messianic prophecy. See, not only Psalms 2:1-12., which may or may not refer to it, but also