« PreviousContinue »
Of the order]
he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10 Called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one
teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (E)
(E) Ver.'1—14. Christ our High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec.-In the last verses of the preceding chapter, the Son of God is introduced to us as the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, who, though he is entered into the highest heavens, hath neither forsaken nor forgot ten the weakest or the poorest of his followers; but still sympathises with them in all their trials and temptations: to him, therefore, we are encouraged to approach with boldness, and with freedom to address our supplications through him to the Father, who is seated upon a throne of grace to receive them.
The apostle then proceeds to show by what authority, and in what manner, our Lord Jesus exercises this gracious office on our behalf. Every person exercising this office among men, is chosen and called thereto, and provided with gifts aud sacrifices to offer; and is, moreover, required to be tender and compassionate to those for whom he acts--to the ignorant and the
In all these respects, our great High Priest more or less resembles those of the Mosaic institution. 1. "He glorified not himself to be made an High Priest." He was not self-appointed; but he who, in the second Psalm, said (ver. 6), "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," referring to his regal office, said also in another Psalm, "Thou art a Priest for ever, after [or according to] the order of
Melchisedec" (Ps. cx. 4); the peculiarities of which order we shall see in a subsequent chapter. 2. Inasmuch as other Priests were furnished with gifts and sacrifices for sin, to offer, the work of this High Priest was of that extraordinary nature, that the blood of bulls and of goats could be of no avail; he therefore" offered up himself (the just for the unjust) to reconcile us unto God." But here a difference occurs of great importance, for whereas other priests had to offer first for their "own sins, and then for the transgressions of the people;" He, being "holy, harmless, and undefiled," could transfer to them all the merit of his atonement. (See chap. vii. 26-28.) 3. Whereas other priests were required to be sympathizing and compassionate, our great High Priest infinitely exceeds them in both respects: for, in respect of his own sufferings, "the strong cries and tears" which he poured out in the wilderness of temptation, and in the garden of Gethsemane, and especially upon the cross, indicated sufferings far exceeding not only what we can be called to endure, but all that we can possibly conceive. 4. By these sufferings he (as man) learned, that is, he acquired, a perfect resignation to the divine will, and an unexampled degree of sympathy to the afflicted and distressed; and being thus perfected through sufferings (chap. vii. 28)," he became the author of eternal salvation" unto all them that "be. lieve in and obey him."
Ver. 9. Being made perfect-i. e. a complete High Priest by consecration. See Exod. xxix. 33, 34. Compare chap. ii. 10.
Ibid. The author-i. e. the meritorious and efficient canse-of eternal salvation. So M'Lean.
Ver 11. Hard to be uttered- Doddr." Hard to be understood." Mackn," difficult to be explained." See the Introduction to this Epistle.
Ver. 13. Is unskilful-Greek, "Hath no experi ence." Comp. 1 Pet. ii. 2.
Ver. 14. Of full age-Geeek, "perfect." Mackn. "full grown."-By reason of use.-Marg. "of habit." Mackn. remarks, that the original term alludes to the athletic exercises of the ancients, in which, by a kind of mock-fighting, they were prepared for actual combat.
The awful nature]
CHAP. VI. THEREFORE leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
EXPOSITION-Chap. V. Continued.
Here are two inquiries that demand some attention. 1. From what was it that Christ was delivered in consequence of his prayers and tears? It was not from dying, for that was the end of his incarnation; nor was it from suffering, without which his death would have been no atonement: that is, he prayed not for either of these exemptions absolutely, but conditionally"If it be possible!" and thus hath he left us an example, to pray for nothing absolutely, but what we know to be agreeable to the divine will-namely, our salvation. (1 Thess. iv. 3.) And though he had not, and knew he could not have, exemption from pain and dying; yet he had, subsequently, deliverance from the power of death and the grave, and from all the principalities and powers of hell, over whom he triumphed. (Compare our Exposition of Matt. xxvi. 31–46. Also, Mr. M'Lean on the chapter before us.)
A second inquiry here offers itselfHow could our Lord learn obedience, who was never disobedient? We reply, that as he grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in strength" (Luke ii. 40 and 52), so might, and so did, he grow (speaking of him as a man) in every virtue, human and divine; and, of course, in a cheerful resig nation to the divine decrees.
The close of this chapter (as was the case with the last) anticipates the subject of the following; distinguishing between the first and more matured principles of Christianity, comparing the former to milk, and the latter to meat; and considering these Hebrews as children, or babes in Christ, who were capable of digesting the former only; though, from the time they had heard the gospel, they ought to have been matured Christians, capable of instructing others.
CHAP. VI. Ver. 1. The principles-Marg. "The word of the beginning;" that is, the elements, or rudiments; or, as Doddridge explains the words,
first principles." By leaving these, is not meant their abandonment, but pushing on in the heavenly course, as the racer flies from the starting-post to the goal.
Ver. 4. For it is impossible.-This seems to refer to those apostates who bad committed "the sin unto death." See I John v. 16,
Ver. 5. And have tasted.-To taste, mentally, is to experience; and, in this case, to experience the power of the gospel preached, which may afford much gratification, and produce a degree of moral reform, even when it does not, either deeply or permanently, affect the heart, as in the cases cited in the Exposition.
1bid. Powers of the world to come. The "world
(or ages) to come," certainly designates the gospel dispensation (see Note on chap. ii. 5; and on Isab ix. 6); and the powers of that world, certainly de signate the miraculous powers attending the first propagation of the gospel. Matt. vii. 22, 23.
Ver.6. If they shall fall away.—Mackn." And (yet) have fallen away." So M Lean-Crucify to themselves.-Mackn." in themselves."
Ibid. Seeing they crucify to themselves-That is, according to M Lean," they approve of, and consent to the treatment he received from his murderers, by renouncing and blaspheming him, as one justly put to death as an impostor."
Ver. 7. For the earth, &c.-That is, that earth is blessed which, by drinking in the rain, become! fruitful; but that sandy soil which, though it may drink in the rain, produces no useful vegetation, is accursed. Compare Jer. xvii. 6.
The fidelity of God]
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Il And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently
[to his oath and promise. endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation as to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil ;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (F)
(F) Ver. 1-20. Exhortations to persevere, with cautions against apostavy.-The Christian's life is progressive, and never stationary; for if we move not forward, we are certainly sliding backward. It is so as respects both our principles and practice: the apostle therefore exhorts the Hebrews not to stop at first principles only, or at the beginning of the Christian course, which commences with faith and repentancewith baptism, and the laying on of hands, and with the avowal of those foundation truths, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment: Let us not stop here (as if he had said), but go on unto perfection-that is, proceed from truth to truth, and from virtue to virtue;" and this will
we do," adds he, “if God permit." But in order to this, it is necessary to guard against retrogression; for it is possible for persons to be enlightened-to taste of the heavenly gift, and be made partakers of the Holy Ghost-to taste the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; -it is possible, very possible, that such may fall away, not merely by a partial decleusion, like those of Laodicea (Rev. iv. 14, &c.), but by a total renunciation of the name, as well as the principles of Christianity. But let us see how far the particulars of this awful character will carry us; that is, how far the persons here described had gone in the profession of religion.
1. They were enlightened, that is, in
Ver. 13. Sware by himself.-Sec Gen. xxii. 16, 17. Compare Gal. iii. 8. and Note. Ver. 16. Of all strife.-Mackn." contradiction."
Ver. 17. Confirmed it by an oath.-Marg. " Interposed himself."
Ver. 18. Fled for refuge.--The words "for refuge," though not in italics, are merely supplementary, our translators supposing such to be the allusion; but others think it an allusion to the Grecian games, and to the prize exhibited to the racers. See Numb. xxxv. 11, &c. and Notes.
Ver. 20. Whither the forerunner.-Mackn. says, "A fore-runner, is one who goes before to do some service for another." Here (be thinks) the allusion is to one sent from a ship to fix its anchor in the place to which it is to be drawn." But M'Lean doubts if the word was ever so used; and so do we: we should rather refer to John xiv. 3,
structed in the elementary principles of Christianity; and, by hearing and reading, obtained a good knowledge of its evidences and doctrines, and, hy a moral reformation," escaped the pollutions of the world" through idolatry and uncleanness. 2. They tasted, that is, participated "of the heavenly gift;" by which many understand, a sense of pardon through Christ; but we rather conceive all these expressions refer to the powerful effects of the word preached, especially as connected with the personal ministry of Jesus, or with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. With respect to the former, our Lord himself thus describes the case of apostates in the parable of the Sower, where he says, "He that received the word in stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." (Matt. xiii. 20, 21.) In reference to the miraculous powers of the apostolic age, we read (Acts viii. 5, &c.), that when Philip went down to the city of Samaria, preaching and working miracles, "there was great joy in that city;" and when Simon Magus (or the great one) heard the preaching, and saw the miracles, "Simon himself believed also, and was baptized :" yet he soon discovered his hypocrisy, and the barren nature of his faith; for when the apostles Peter and John came to that city, he offered them money, if they would give him power to confer the Holy Ghost in like manner as they did; on which Peter assures him, that, notwithstanding his profession, his "heart was not right in the sight of God; but, on the contrary, he was yet"in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity." And ecclesiastical history informs us, that he proved one of the most awful instances of apostacy on record. (See Exposition of Acts viii. 1-25.)
It is observable, that in the account of
the unhappy persons spoken of, nothing is said that necessarily implies any thing more than speculative knowledge, and external profession of Christianity-nothing of regeneration, conversion, believing through grace, or a change of heart: on the contrary, their profession is described as utterly barren, or as bearing nothing but "thorns and briars ;" and their persons as "" nigh unto cursing," and to burning.
And farther, in addressing the believing Hebrews, he plainly intimates, that all be had said, came short of what was necessary to salvation: for he says, "We hope better things of you, and things which accompany salvation," which certainly implies, that the things before referred to were not of that class: for, applying the passage to our own time, when miracles have long since ceased, the preaching of the word may have powerful effects upon the conscience, without producing any change of heart. It is well known, that it chiefly was on the authority of this passage the Novatians, in the second century, refused to receive back into their communion any who, in times of persecution, had gone back to Paganism; though even urged by the torture, and however penitent: and many penitents themselves have been distressed by it. But Novatian, though a good man, had not the heart of our compassionate High Priest; nor did he consider, nor do the distressed penitents we refer to consi der, that the difficulty, the impossibility lay, not in restoring penitents, but apustates; and true penitents are no more apostates.
The rest of this chapter is occupied in animating exhortations to diligence and perseverance in the Christian course; assuring those believers to whom he wrote (and in them all others), of the certainty of their reward in heaven: not only as secured by the mediation of Christ, but also by the promise of God; and that promise ratified by oath, that, by two immutable
CHAP. VII. Ver. 1. This Melchisedec-or Melchisedek, as it is spelled in Gen. xiv. 18, &c.King of Salem-So his capital, and probably his whole territory, was called in Abraham's time in the time of Joshua and the Judges, it was also called by the name of Jebus. (Josh. xviii. 28; Judges xix.
10.) Salem, it is well known, signifies peace; and Jerusalem, as the learned Granville Sharp bas shown, signifies Holy (or sacred) Salem; or, by interpretation," Holy Peace." See Mr. Sharp's two Tracts, on Jerusalem and on Melchisedec.
after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a Priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethen, though they come out of the loins of Abraham :
6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the
[tithes of Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another Priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15 And it is yet far more evident :
7 And without all contradiction the for that after the similitude of Melchiless is blessed of the better.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
sedec there ariseth another Priest,
16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17 For he testifieth, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
things-the word and oath of God-his people might have not only hope, but consolation, even strong consolation, as having fled for refuge (like the poor manslayer of old), to lay hold upon the hope set before them in the gospel; namely, the hope of
eternal life in Christ Jesus: that Jesus who has himself, as our great High Priest, entered within the veil with his atoning blood, and ever lives to plead for us before the throne of God.
Ver. 3. Without father, &c.-" Elsner (as Doddr. remarks) hath some remarkable quotations, to prove that it was usual among the Greeks to call any one (apater, ameter) without father, with mother, when his parents were unknown."-- Without descent-Marg. "Pedigree;" Gr. Genealogy. Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.The time of service of the Aaronic priests was limited between the ages of 30 and 50, which were the terms of their official life; though some think those expressions mean only, that his birth and death are unrecorded.But made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.-Mackn. who applies the latter clause, as well as the former, to Melchisedec, renders it, all his life;" and remarks, that the same phrase is applied to the perpetual dictatorship of Sylla. But Doddridge and M'Lean suppose an ellipsis (as is not uncommon) of
the pronoun who, and render the clause, "but [was] made like unto [or a type of] the Son of God, [who] abideth a priest continually."
Ver. 5. Have a commandment to take tithes.See Numb. xviii. 21, 24, 26, &c.
Ver. 6. He whose descent-Marg. "Pedigree," as in verse 3.
Ver. 8. Of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.Doddr. "Of whom it is [only] testified that he liveth;" that is, of whose death we have no account. Some render it, "that he lived:" Mackn. "That he lived a priest all his life." Comp. ver. 3. Ver. 9. As I may so say.-Doddr. and Macku. "As one may say."
Ver. 11. And not be called.-Doddr. "not be reckoned."
Ver. 16. But after the power of an endless life— i, e. for ever.