tirsdag 16. oktober 2012

Rosenius: He is faithful


C.O. Rosenius (1816-1868)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9
S not this a short summary of the whole doctrine of the Scriptures concerning the acceptance of a poor sinner
by God? Both with express words and with innumerable examples God has from the beginning of the world
explained that the children of Adam are in this way to come to the grace of God. Let us therefore meditate
upon these words of the Beloved Apostle. He says: “If we confess our sins.” We understand readily from the
context what is meant by the term “the confession of sin.” The apostle has in the preceding verses spoken of them
who “walk in darkness,” who say that they “have no sin,” but who “deceive” themselves (1Jo 1:6-8). By way of
contrast he adds: “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
In the first place, we learn from the passage cited that the apostle is not speaking of an external, accidental or
prescribed confession, but rather of the confession made by a poor, troubled sinner. A distinction must be made,
however, between contrition and contrition. There are many who confess their sins with a certain kind of contrition,
who yet continue in sin. We find this contrition in King Saul, who made this confession: “I have sinned: for I have
transgressed the commandments of the Lord, and thy words” (1Sa 15:24). But he never gained reconciliation and peace
with God. Furthermore, King Pharaoh, who said: “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you” (Exo
10:16). But his confession was impelled by the fact that the Eighth Plague was already terrifying him. It was not
actuated by a contrite heart and a repentant purpose to become reconciled with the God of Israel. Even Cain confessed:
“My iniquity is greater than may be forgiven” (Gen 4:13); but he went away “from the presence of the Lord” and did not
seek His forgiving grace. Judas exclaimed in the bitterness of his soul: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent
blood” (Mat 27:4).
From all these examples we see that a true confession of sin can result only from a complete conversion produced by the Holy
Spirit in the heart. Sin, as a crime against God, then causes sorrow and compels the heart to pour out its anguish before
God, confess the sin and pray for forgiveness. Many an impenitent slave of sin may at times confess his sins with bitter
regret. But he confesses from sheer dread of the consequences of his sin. It is not sin itself as a crime against God that
worries him. Neither has he any special desire to be wholly reconciled and united with God. The thing that troubles him
is nothing more than an incidental taste of the bitter fruit of sin. Therefore he remains a slave of sin.
A true confession of sin presupposes first of all the awakening of the conscience by the voice of God and the realization that sin
has brought the soul under the condemnation of God. Then, secondly, true confession premises that the sinner, thanks to the
gracious call of God and the power of the Gospel, has some hope of compassion and therefore throws himself before the
Mercy-seat and begs forgiveness. He who knows nothing of grace, but only of sin and damnation, will never come to
God. As a prime condition of confession, a spark of faith is essential. As long as Adam and Eve knew nothing but their
sin and the penalty, they fled from the face of the Lord. Thus it was for a time with King David. He kept away from God
and would not confess his sin. “When I kept silence,” he says, “my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” But then he
continues: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Psa 32:3-
He who would learn what a true knowledge of sin is, as also a true confession of sin, let him consider the Fifty-first Psalms. We
would note two elements only in this outpouring of David’s heart. Although King David by his notorious sin had caused
great offense to the people, and had committed a grievous sin particularly against Uriah, God and his sin seem
uppermost in his mind, and he, as it were, passes by his sin against men and says to the Lord: “Against thee, thee only
have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight” (Psa 51:4). There you have the picture of a truly contrite heart.
Then again it is not the coarse outbreakings of sin alone which distress him. He sees with sorrow the evil in his very
nature and goes to the deepest root of it, when he says: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother
conceive me” (Psa 51:5). The most important thing is to recognize the evil in our nature and the deep depravity of our
essential being. As long as men look only to the individual outbreaks of sin, and not to the sinfulness of the heart, it is
always possible to construct some false consolation. They never feel that they are lost and condemned sinners.
Consequently they are never made free and happy in Christ. It is therefore the most vital element in a true knowledge of
sin, that we recognize the deep depravity of the heart, the shameless contempt of God, the carnal security, unbelief,
obduracy and hypocrisy, in order that our knowledge of sin may articulate with God’s own description of the heart as
“deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
Look now and see if this is not precisely the thing that troubles the weak and trembling souls who constantly
complain in this wise: “My heart is desperately wicked. It is hard, cold, hypocritical, deceitful, false, unstable, frivolous
and inclined to evil, yea, even diabolical.” Then you know your heart is as God portrays it. Does it now seem to you that
the judgment of God’s Word concerning your heart is too drastic? On the contrary, you will find no condemnation that
is too strong to fit the case.
“But I do not know my sin,” you say. “I am secure, hard-hearted, frivolous and hypocritical.” Reply: It is a great
wickedness to be thus carnally secure, hypocritical and worldly-minded. That spirit is the fountain of all sin. It is the
natural depravity of the heart itself which you thereby recognize. Such acknowledgment is necessary. You have arrived
at the stage where you sit in judgment upon yourself out of a clear conviction. You believe from a full heart that you are
the meanest and most unworthy of God’s creatures.
“Well, but it is true that I have not a broken, contrite and humbled heart. I am, as a matter of fact, worldly-minded,
vain, obdurate and frivolous.”
Reply: It is indeed true that such are the characteristics of the natural mind. You must recognize this depravity. It
must become a frightful reality to you.
They, however, who confess their unhappy state of sinfulness, should comfort themselves with the blessed assurance
given in the Scripture under consideration: “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness” (1Jo 1:9). Know, then, that the Law can do no more than make you wretchedly conscious of your sins,
that “sin might become exceeding sinful” (Rom 7:13). God desires only to impart to you the riches of His grace.
The resistance of your mind is now broken. You admit the justice of God’s judgments. You no longer shun the light.
You condemn yourself. You would be glad to accept Christ if only you dared. Hear what this same apostle says in
another connection: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that
believe on his name” (Joh 1:12). Who are fit recipients of grace and forgiveness if not these wretched souls who condemn
Untamed human nature defends itself. It rouses itself against the judgments of God and becomes embittered. But he
who condemns himself is open to the grace of God. To such all mercy is shown and declared. We should realize that the
punishments referred to in the Scriptures, the judgments and penalties, are not addressed to those who condemn
themselves and long for grace and reconciliation with God through the Savior. They are aimed at the arrogant despisers
and contemners, who either openly resist the Spirit and the Word of God or as hypocrites go about with Judas Iscariot
among the disciples of Jesus, cherishing some pet sin, which they refuse to give up, and even defending it.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Though you be not born again, and possess not
the power of faith and a renewed life, but permit yourself to be admonished and led by the Word of God, and even
condemn yourself as a violator of the Law of God, then are you already an object of all the grace and comfort of God. But
hear and believe this blessed truth, in order that you may not lose yourself in unbelief. Come confidently to the Mercyseat
and confess to God all your sins and weaknesses, and you shall be born again of God and justified, even though you
may not instantly feel the great rebirth of your heart.
From A Faithful Guide to Peace with God, by C.O. Rosenius. From: Free Grace Broadcaster.

fredag 20. februar 2009

F. B. Meyer: A cupbearer.

From: Our daily Homily.
Neh. 1, 11: I was the King's cupbearer.

The post was an important one. It gave its occupant the opportunity of coming into close contact with the king; it implied a character of unusual truthworthiness, since Oriental despots were very afraid of poison. But no one expected a royal cupbearer to do anything very heroic. He lived in the inner part of the palace, and was necessarily excluded from the great deeds of the stirring outward world.

Nehemiah also was evidently a humble and retiring man. His response to the story of the ruined condition of Jerusalem was just a flood of tears and prayer to the God of heaven. And had you seen those tears and heard that prayer, you might have thought that just another flower was drooping, another seed falling into the ground to die.

But this was not all. These prayers and tears were supplemented by en earnest purpose, which was maturing with every hour. He gave himself to God to be used, if God would have it so, as an instrument in the execution of his recorded purpose. He was a man of faith. It mattered little enough that he was only a cupbearer, for that was no barrier to God; indeed, God might work more effeciently through a frail, weak man, than through the prince, the soldier, or the orator, since He cannot give his glory to another.

What a glorious faith was his, which dared to believe that through his yielded life God could pour his mighty rivers! Why do we not yield ourselves in our helplessness to God, and ask Him to work through us, to fulfil his mighty purpose?

"We kneel, how weak! We rise, how full of power!
Why therefore should we do ourselves this wrong,
or others - that we are not always strong!"

lørdag 21. juni 2008

Rosenius: Peace with God 2.

2. The Holy Law of God. 2.

We know the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully. 1. Tim. 1: 8.

It behoves us to beware of the false interpretation of the law to the effect that we are able to keep it perfectly. We must likewise beware of the thought that we can not be saved before we have fulfilled the Law and become pure and perfect. For under this thought lies an concealed assassin of souls, an anti-Christ, who would render the blood of Christ unnecessary and tell us that the blood of Christ is of no avail whatever; or, at the most, that it is only a means of sanctification, not the atonement for sin; an assassin who destroys the soul either with a false confidence in its own righteousness, or with a tormenting spirit of bondage.

On the contrary, the more threatening the thunderings of Mount Sinai, and the more clearly the demands of God’s law press upon our souls, the better; for the sooner shall we find that comfort which abides. We shall be deprived of the false consolation which lies in the hope of justification by the law. We shall be driven to seek help of Him whose name is Jesus. In Him we shall find joy and peace.

Many a soul, ignorant of this truth, says: “If I am driven so strenuously and condemned so unmerciful, I shall loose courage. I shall not be able to find consolation in Christ nor love for Him.”

Reply: Have we any right to modify or annul what God has commanded? Who dares to alter the commandments and judgements of God? It must be remembered that the sinner does not need consolation first of all; he needs a broken and a contrite heart. The consolation which a soul draws from the righteousness of the law is accursed – it is a false consolation. It is this consolation which misleads the soul into bondage, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. It is the very road to hell. It is this consolation which the Law must take away from us.

Note, furthermore, that there is no better means to advance souls to true comfort than to present the Law in all its severity; for until they are deprived of all comfort in their own righteousness by the Law, they are not ready to accept the righteousness of Christ in the Gospel.

When John says: “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? The axe lies at the root of the trees: Therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire,” he struck at the pride of their hearts. Thereupon he said: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” At once he lifted up the valleys, the dejected souls, and prepared the way for the Lord. Matthew 3; Luke 3; John 1.

Since we have found that the first work of the Law is to bring the sinner to humility and the recognition of sin, we ask: What should be the nature of this knowledge of sin, in order that it may be acceptable to God? Reply: It is not enough to know our sins of commission; for with such knowledge you may still comfort yourself with your good intentions and hope of amendment.

The feeling of your sinfulness must be profound and thorough. You must know the root of your sinful depravity, which consists in carnal security, hypocrisy, hardness of heart, contempt of God. You must realize that for these reasons you are a lost and condemned sinner. As long as you do not recognize this depravity of the heart, your self-sufficiency will assert itself. You will continue to say: “I shall save myself.” Your own righteousness and carnal security will live on. You will never apprehend Christ and rest upon his merit alone.

To this fundamental knowledge of self, few come immediately through their awakening. It is true that the soul becomes terrified. But it is not embarrassed; for it argues: “I know a way out. I will repent.” Then begins the labor under the law in the attempt to convert oneself, to lay aside sin and sinful habits. As long as you see nothing but external righteousness and your conversion seems to be complete, you become hopeful and remaining your self-righteousness.

But if you look upon the inner sanctification and realize that God requires your heart, and that you desire its cleansing, you are very quickly disappointed. For when now you determent to love God above all, you feel that you have an idolatrous heart. When you desire to pray and to fight earnestly against your sins, you find that you lie down in the mire of sin. You are not even able to regret your sins and weep over them. Then you are startled and exclaim: “I am a lost soul. I am a hardened sinner. I am a hypocrite. For neither do I fight earnestly against sin, nor do I sincerely repent.”

Behold now, this was precisely what the law set out to accomplish in you. What is it that you now recognize? Is it the security of your heart, your hypocrisy, your contempt of God? The purpose of the Law is that you learn to know the evil of sin. In this condition you find no comfort, for it is a terrible thing to be hard-hearted, secure and hypocritical. But did you not desire this knowledge of your heart?

Certainly you did, only you desire nothing more than the knowledge of your corruption, not the vileness of the corruption itself. How was it possible that such was the result? You do not need to feel an evil that you have not, but only the evil which you have. Now it seems to you, however, that you have no conscious feeling of your sins, but that you are obsessed with sin itself. You see your sins, but do not feel them.

But was it not this lack of sorrow for sin which you should recognize? Was it not the purpose of the Law to deprive you of every comfort, in order that you might be compelled to go to Christ, so that He might become your only consolation? It is no easy matter, however, to seek refuge with Him. It is not an easy matter to believe. Now it becomes necessary that you receive the grace of God, without which you still remain a lost sinner in spite of all the experiences of sin which you have had. He stands before you, gently calling: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

If only you close your eyes to hindrances and throw yourself as you are in His arms, you shall be saved as a brand from the burning, cleansed in His blood, justified, rejoicing. Now you understand what is meant by the Scripture declaration: “Christ is the end of the Law unto every one that believeth” (Romans 10: 4).

We have seen that the Law is good, if any one use it lawfully. We have shown the correct and the incorrect use of the Law in the conversion of souls. But the Law also has its use in the daily renewal; partly to show the regenerated, justified and pardoned soul how it should conduct itself in all respect; and partly, when the heart is in danger of becoming worldly, to correct and drive the soul to seek Christ daily.

There is still another error to be pointed out. This error has made its appearance in different localities of our country (Sweden in the 1850-60’s). We refer to the anti-nomians (rejecters of the Law), who regard the Law as superfluous both in conversion and in the daily renewal. By this we would not express the same fear as that which obtains with the disciples of Moses, who say now, as was said in the time of Paul, when the works of the law were discarded as component to produce righteousness, that we “abolish the Law through faith”.

They who thus treat the Law are people who have never learned to distinguish between justification and sanctification, Law and Gospel, spirit and flesh. It seems to them that Paul at times is too evangelical, that he opens the door to the Mercy-seat too widely. At times they think that he is too severe, that he require too much of human nature. They say that he denounces what they regard as innocent.

We are not speaking of these people here. We speak of the real anti-nomians, who assert that the Law is unnecessary to conversion. To prove this, they adduce as evidence that only the Gospel operates upon their heart. A deplorable error! What effect would grace have upon the heart if sin were not acknowledged and felt? That which chastises sin is the Law, even when it speaks through the wounds of Christ. The Law works as a rule in an unknown and secret way. For “I had not known sin but by the law” (Romans 7: 7).

Though the Law does not give life, it nevertheless brings about the result, that the Gospel gives light. The Law is the plowing, the Gospel is the seed. It is true that the growing does snot come by the plowing only, but also requires the seed. Still, if the ground is not plowed, the seed remains useless, lies upon the surface, dries up, and is picked away by the birds. But those who regard the Law as superfluous for regenerated soul who have an obedient mind, quite misunderstand Scripture passages such as these: “Now when the faith has come, you are no longer under the schoolmaster”; and, “you shall not bind the conscience by the law.”

Reply: I did not mean your conscience, but your flesh, if so be that you are under grace. If your heart is not right with God, so that you have your delight in God’s Law according to the inner man, and you still wish to retain this or that sin intact, your conscience will be bound, yea, your soul and your body will be bound in hell. For what is bound upon earth shall likewise be bound in hell.

“If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” (Romans 8: 3). But if you are a true Christian, the spirit is indeed willing, and does not need to be chastised by the Law. The flesh is weak, secure and evil. It needs to be chastised, as Luther said: “Bit and bridle do not belong to the marriage chamber, but to the stable and to the horse.” Remain, therefore, steadfast in the liberty with which Christ hath set you free, but do not make use of your liberty to sin. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5: 1 and 13).


søndag 18. mai 2008

Rosenius: Peace with God.

C. O. Rosenius:
A Faithful Guide to peace with God.
Translated into English from the Norwegian edition by bishop N. I. Laache, by George Taylor Rygh. 1923/1954. Electronic edition by NDH.

1. The Holy Law of God.
We know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully. 1 Tim. 1: 8.

Doctor Swebelius says: “The Law is fairly well known by nature; the Gospel, however, is a mystery concealed from reason.” This is true, and strikingly expressed. And yet the greatest misapprehension and misuse of the Law are frequently found within the bounds of Christendom, a misapprehension and a misuse which render the whole Law and the entire Word of God without power and benefit, thereby destroying souls in their helplessness. By the gracious assistance of God, we shall consider the gravest of these misapprehensions and misuses.

We do not speak of the despisers of the law, whose condemnation is swift and easily understood. For everybody understands well enough that God does not admit into His heaven such as are not only sinful, but also contemners of his holy will.

What is the Law but the will of God? He who despises the will of God despises God, and surely no one has ever found a single promise that God would be merciful to those who despise Him. You may be weak and sinful; you may have transgressed the Law of God; yet His mercy is great enough to forgive your sin and guilt for the sake of Christ.

But if you despise God and His will, not even trying to love and obey Him, how can you expect that such utter contempt of God and His word shall be forgiven? How can you believe that you are on the way to heaven? Stop a moment and consider.

We have, then, a matter before us which may not be brushed aside as of no importance. It is a matter which involves the eternal destiny of your soul. We shall soon discover, however, that it is not enough to respect the Law of God and to make some sort of use of it. What is required is, that we use it “lawfully”, that is rightly, or as God wants us to use the Law.

The Apostle Paul writes concerning his brethren in Israel, that “they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10: 2); that they “follow after the law of righteousness” (Rom 9: 31); that “they go about to established their own righteousness” (Rom 10: 3); but that for their sakes he had “great heaviness and continual sorrow” in his heart (Rom 9: 2), and that he could wish himself “accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom 9: 3), if thereby they might be saved.

What, then, was the fault with Israel? The fault was, the apostle says, that “when Moses was read, the veil was upon their heart” (2 Corint 3: 15), so that “they went about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom 10: 3).

“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, have not attained to the law of righteousness” (Rom 9: 31). They did not allow the law to serve them by condemning them, convicting them, driving them to Christ; they made the law a way of salvation. They failed to understand the purpose of the law and as a result, made a wrong use of the law.

The essential purpose of the law is to arose and drive the sinner to Christ, who is “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom 10: 4). “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8: 3). “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the son, hath not life” (1 John 5: 12). “Wherefore the law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal 3: 24).

Such is the purpose of God’s holy law. The law is a Boanerges, a son of thunder (Mark 3: 17), who indeed does not baptize with spirit and with fire, but with “the baptism of repentance,” thus presenting unto the Lord a well-prepared people. The law is the prison-house wherein “we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed”! (Gal 3: 23-24).

This, then, is the first, greatest and most dangerous misuse of the law. It renders the entire law useless. It misses its purpose altogether. When the law is thus made useless, “when the salt has lost its savor” (Matt 5, 13), wherewith shall souls be aroused and humbled?

When the heart has no experience of the power of the law to its abasement, the Gospel also remains ineffective; Christ, with all his merit, remains ineffective. For “they that be whole need not a physician, but the sick” (Matt 9: 12), that is to say, they that have been made sick through the harsh dominion of the law.

But when both law and gospel, that is, the whole word of God, no longer exert any influence upon the human heart, the soul is hopelessly lost; it cannot be saved.

Let us, however, consider how it happens that the law, and thereby the entire word of God, is rendered futile. It happens in this way: You make the law a way of salvation, while it should be a condemning judge, a schoolmaster to bring you to Christ.

This comes to pass when any one modifies, mitigates and whittles down the commandments and judgements of the Lord, in order that they may agree with the sinner’s opinions, or, at all events, correspond with his natural powers. It is sometimes said:

“No mortal man can meet this or that requirement of the law. Therefore, it cannot be God’s purpose to demand strict fulfilment of the law in every respect; for God cannot demand more than we can do.” This is the fundamental error. In this way “every mouth” is not stopped”, and “all the world” does not “become guilty before God” (Rom 3: 19. If a single human being could fulfil all the demands of the law, his mouth would not be stopped; he would be able to “boast” before God.

He who would understand why the law requires more than we are able to perform, and also how far the law goes in its requirements, must consider what the law is. The law is nothing else than God’s holiness, God’s holy will expressed in human words and in men’s consciences. Therefore the law reaches as far in its demands as God’s holiness reaches.

It is the law which says to you, This and that God requires of you; this and that he forbids. Now it is clear that this will of God must demand a constantly increasing righteousness before you become as holy as God himself. For what he himself will not do, he does not ask you to do.

Consequently, he never says: This or that I do not which you to do, but since you ask me for permission, I will give you leave to do this thing. But he says: “Be ye holy, even as I, the Lord your God, am holy”(Lev 19: 2). When we consider that the law is simply the holiness of God, the will of God, we understand why the law may not be changed or modified in a single letter to suit the weaknesses of the fallen race; for in that case God’s holiness would have an end.

He who receives the grace rightly to discern the holiness of God’s law, can no longer hope to become perfect before God, that is, to become as holy as God himself is. On the contrary, he will surely be humbled and crushed. He who hopes to gain righteousness by the law, has a “veil” before his eyes: he is blind, and does not realize what the law demands of him.

But you say: “True, no man can become perfect as God is perfect. But we can do as much as we are able to do in the way of fulfilling His holy law.” God does not accept that sort of righteousness. You must keep the law perfectly, or you are condemned. The law says distinctly: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them” (Deut 27: 26). And an apostle says in the New Testament: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2: 10).

You say, however: “But God is merciful for the sake of Christ. He will forgive me if I do not perfectly keep his law.” God is by no means merciful to him who is guilty of violating the law. The matter is quite different with them who through faith possess the righteousness of Christ.

They are not in the least indepted to the law, for through Christ they have the righteousness which the law demands (Rom 8: 4), the righteousness to which the apostle refers when he says: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rom 8: 3). In short, “they are not under the law, but under grace (Rom 6: 14-15). But he who is under the law has no remission of sin, as Jesus himself declares: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5: 18).

O what injury is done to the soul when we do not remember that there are those who are under the law, while others are not under the law, but under grace (Rom 3: 19; 6: 14; and 7: 4, 6).

These two classes of men are under quite different judgement. It is true that the grace of God in Christ is boundless, but it can do them no good whatever who are under the law and desire to remain “the disciples of Moses” (John 9: 28). The apostle Paul says: “For as many as are under the law are under curse” (Gal 3: 10).

To suppress this truth, and to preach in its stead the gospel of the flesh; to detract from the law that which the sinner regards as too severe: to lower the goal of the striving after holiness down to such a plane that the sinner may reach up to it, creating in the sinner self-satisfaction, self-righteousness and carnal security – this is the most dangerous misuse of the law.

In this way, the entire purpose of the law is frustrated. For that purpose was to drive and chastise the soul, not to the yoke of bondage, but into the slough of despair, and thence to Christ, who is “the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom 10_ 4).

But this levelling down of the law, this breaking off of the point of the law, may also be accomplished by persuading oneself or others to hope for the future: that which is still lacking in the fulfilment of the law may be accomplished by the grace of God later on. When the victory has been won, the time is come to appropriate to oneself the merit of Christ in all its fullness.

Alas, what a Satanic deception! Remember that if death should come to you this night, you would be condemned, since you are not holy as God’s law requires of you. You reply: “I have this hope that God will not call me away before I am prepared for heaven.”

It is all very well that you have such fine thoughts about God. But where is it written that God will hold death back from you until you are as holy as the law requires? In that case you would never die.

We ask: Have you not received the help of God’s spirit? Are you certain that you have rightly made use of His grace, rightly prayed for his help, watched and fought in the power of God as strenuously as you should have watched and fought?

If you consider this, you shall possibly find that you have nothing to expect which God has not already given you. If you realize that according to the law you are lost, the answer is: That is precisely what the law would show you, in order that you might take refuge in Christ.

You need not wait for the future. The Kingdom of God is near you. You shall learn that the righteousness which the law demands, but which you cannot produce, will be found in another way, namely, through faith in the blood of Jesus.

onsdag 7. mai 2008

Prolegomena 1
by C. F. Walter.
Chapter One

On the nature and definition of theology

1. "Theology," in the meaning of the word, designates precisely
"the word concerning God," that is, the word or knowledge about
God. However from the way this word is normally used it brings in
the aptitude [habitus] of knowing God and divine things and
teaching, confirming and defending them, which agrees with the
object of theology and in humans is consistent with the state of
this life.

2. True theology for men in this life, because of a double
principle of knowing, is two-fold, Natural and revealed. The first
one is supported by the light of nature, the second by supernatural
manifestation or revelation. Both are about God, not only what he
is in himself, but also as he is the goal and the highest good to

3. Natural theology is a knowledge, and indeed a practice, in which
there occurs a goal, a subject of the operation and a cause and a
method, likewise a material object and a formal object.

4. The goal (to which ultimately and in itself it tends, and all
things which it teaches, which natural theology refers to) is the
ultimate blessedness of humans, by which in God's name we are
embraced; as an objective goal, both the consequence and its
product, and as the formal goal, consisting in the most perfect
operation of intellect and will.

5. The subject of the operation is the human pilgrim or the human
tending toward eternal blessedness.

6. To the cause of blessedness is referred (1) the effecting cause,
which is God, (2) the internal motivating cause, which is the
goodness or free favor of God.

7. The means of following blessedness in natural theology are the
act of mind and will occupied about God, by which rightly God is
recognized and worshipped. It is designated by the one name
"religion." It is limited by the law of nature or morals, and
partly it is occupied directly and immediately about God, partly
directly man to himself, or to the nearest creature, however it is
arranged consequently to God.

8. Truly how far this cult of the divine is sufficient, which
natural theology prescribes, as it follows in order to the
blessedness after this life, the greatest and most careful
diversity occurs and is observed, just as the state of humans are
diverse, the youthful state or purity, or the state of corruption
or sin. In that former state humans were able, by the leading of
natural theology and through the concession of their own power, to
attain to a sufficient knowledge of God and the worship owed to
God, standing before Him without defect or sin, and so far in this
way to obtain eternal blessedness from God. In this later state
however through the condition of the corrupt nature itself humans
are inclined to turn from God and to those things which displease
God; whoever has a hostile God toward themselves on account of sin,
he does not find in natural theology a means, by which he is able
to satisfy God gladly and to be led back in grace with Him; on the
contrary, he is not able to offer those things, which otherwise
relate to the worship of God, to perfectly know Him and to set it
down in writing, nor his worship, which he knows by the power of
the light of nature to be owed to God. From which it is clear that
for the present state natural theology is not sufficient for the
salvation of any human.

9. Sometimes natural theology, as far as its principles, and also
as far as the conclusions which hang from them, is altogether true
and certain, and sometimes it is not opposed to the truths of
revealed religion, and natural religion is allowed, just as people
after the fall are caught in acts of sin, to be contaminated by
prejudgement and various errors.

10. The formal object of natural theology, as a practical science,
is the goal, and it is the object or God, in so far as it is
learned from the light of nature before demonstration, through the
knowledge which is inborn, or a certain light of the in born
intellect and instinct of nature, also a vulgar or common
"acquiring" from an inspection of creatures.

11. To the material object they apply the subject of the operation,
and the end following the cause and the means, but on the contrary
in his way also the end itself, with the formal object, also the
object of the operation, in so far indeed as this is known
precisely through demonstration.

12. The parts of natural theology are three: First about the goal,
second about the subject of the operation, and third about the
principles and means.

13. Natural theology can be described (because it is a practical
science) from the principles of nature about God, prescribing,
explaining, confirming and defending to human pilgrims the
appropriate worship of God, and the things following from God and
the cause by God of eternal blessedness.

14. As we are instructed rightly about revealed theology, before
all things it is necessary to be certain, to be given a certain
supernatural divine revelation. However, this is not so much for
us, who are born in the church, but also it exists for the

15. However the aptitude of revealed theology is knowledge, if not
thus said first or rigorously, at least in broader significance, and
indeed is a practical knowledge.

16. The goal of revealed theology is two-fold: Internal, which
consists in the actions of knowing the object of theology, not in
any way, but in so far as they are accurately explained, confirmed
and defended, for the cause of faith and human salvation: and
external, which is itself faith and human salvation, and which are
joined with faith.

17. The external goal is usually distinguished as to the ultimate
goal and the intermediate goal. Further, both are distinguished in
object and form. The object is God, infinitely perfect and
supremely good. The formal is a certain operation about God, by
which we possess and have the benefit of it as by the highest good.
And the objective goal of both the ultimate and intermediate is
one. Truly the formal goal is different, one thing if talking
about the ultimate goal, another if talking about the intermediate.

18. Certainly the ultimate formal goal consists in the intuitive
and clear knowledge of God, and likewise by the intuitive love of
God by the most intense knowledge.

19. The intermediate formal goal is faith in Christ, as the cause
of the accomplishing grace from God. However then to the same place
pertains the love of God, as to us being reconciled; on the
contrary there is also an action to another, by which divine
goodness we are given back a participation: and in this way a total
holiness of life.

20. The subject of the operation is man the sinner, in so far as he
is being led to eternal life.

21. The efficient cause of the ultimate formal end is the triune

22. The internal impulsive cause is the goodness of God; and the
external impulsive cause is the earned merit of Christ.

23. But also faith in Christ is rightly reckoned as a saving cause.

24. And because faith is not attributed to men unless it is applied
by God, who teaches that faith through word and sacraments, as
through instruments he produces and confirms such faith; therefore
also the word and sacraments are also rightly numbered among the
causes of salvation.

25. The object of revealed theology is two-fold: Material and
formal. The material object is the content [lit. res] of
revelation, which is known in revealed theology. And this applies
not so much to the subject of the operation and the cause and means
of the following goal, but also the goal itself, in so far as it is
known by the aptitude of theology. The formal object, or principle
and ground of knowing, from where also the knowledge of things
come, things which are put forward in revealed theology, is divine

26. The material object is distinguished in what is believed and in
what is done. The believing things are said to be that of which
thus faith exists, so that formally they are not direct operations
by previous practical acts: however they are believed from this, by
those who have arrived at salvation; e.g. God loving the human
race, Christ being the son of God and son of man, etc. The name of
the things being done is understood themselves as describing the
operations of theology by practical actions, also as it happened
the aptitude of transferring to an operation, or acquiring through
an operation, if not following the cause of salvation, however, not
healthily we forget these actions; e.g., the actual and habitual
apprehension of the merits of Christ, which we call faith, the
actual and habitual love, by which we love God, Christ, and our
neighbor, the hope of eternal life, etc.

27. What is believed is otherwise called the articles of faith,
which in a wider understanding are divided (1) in articles pure and
mixed, (2) and in articles of faith fundamental and non-fundamental.

28. The articles of faith are called pure, which are especially
understood from divine revelations: such is the article about the
holy Trinity, about the incarnation of the Son of God, and others.
Mixed articles are said to be those, which not alone from
revelation, but are also consistent with the truth according to the
light of nature: e.g., the article about the existence of God, and
about the divine attributes.

29. Articles of faith are fundamental, which as they cause the
aptitude towards the foundations of faith and salvation, so that
for salvation they are not possible to ignore or at least to deny.
However the foundation of faith is said to be with that thing, by
which the faith and salvation of people are supported, and it is
Christ, in so far as he is the cause of our salvation: also
doctrine, by which that thing, on which faith is leaning, is held
together; and it is a complex of many propositions of divine
revelations, which cause a certain aptitude towards salvation. That
foundation is real or substantial, and this foundation is called
dogmatic by authors.

30. The fundamental articles of faith are distinguished as primary
and secondary.

31. The primary articles of faith are commonly said to be those
which for salvation, faith and health are not able to be denied,
but also are not able to be ignored.

32. The primary articles are able to be distinguished in another
way, that the thing signified by them is about the inward plan of
the real foundation: e.g., the article about Christ the God-man,
also the article about Christ's merits and satisfactions for our
sins; and in another way that the thing signified by them, is not
permitted to be about the internal plan of a real foundation,
however it is connected most tightly with it, thus that, unless it
is clearly understood, the other appropriate things of those
foundations have not been leading toward the point of generating
and sustaining saving faith: e.g., the article about God and from
there the point about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the article
about the gracious will of God, which wishes all humans to be
saved, the article about sin, by which we are defiled, and by God
are delivered to hatred and are worthy of punishment, the article
about justification or the remission of sins obtained through
Christ, and then faith, through which the remission of sins is
obtained, about the blessed life, which they have tried to gain,
who by the gracious God have departed from this life.

33. The secondary fundamental articles are usually described as
parts of Christian doctrine, which are permitted to be ignored by
the sound foundation of salvation: however they are not possible to
be denied by that sound foundation. Such are the articles about the
characteristic properties of the divine persons, about the clearly
observed union of persons, and the communication of attributes in
Christ, about original sin, about the decree of the final election
in view of faith, about justification through faith alone, apart
from the merit of works, etc., which articles even if the knowledge
is not easy for the faith of simple ones, however a denial of them
on the part of a denier is not able to stand with faith and
salvation, unless because of a vast simplicity on their part and an
ignorance of the consequences of the denial, through which the
denial is turned away from the foundation of faith itself through
the consequences, and the spirit intercedes from error, which is
turned directly away from the foundation of faith, shrinking back
and prepared to admit a better interpretation.

34. The non-fundamental articles are said to be those which for the
saving foundation of faith people are not only able to ignore, but
also to deny, or in each part to dispute. E.g., about the sin and
perpetual rejection of certain angels, about the immorality of the
first people before the Fall, about the AntiChrist, about the
origin of spirits through creation or transference (lit.,
traducem), etc.

35. The object of formal theology is divine revelation, through
which it performs its office, which affects, influences and stirs
the human will, so that it orders the assent of the intellect.

36. And from there it is established, that theology is an aptitude
supernatural in its substance, by our actions indeed, but through
men of grace and acquired through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

37. However theology is distinguished from faith, so that including
from it, because it is included. For theology beyond faith also
implies the faculty of explaining and confirming those things which
are revealed.

38. Theology is able to be defined, as a practical knowledge,
teaching, confirming and defending everything from divine
revelation, doing this to human sinners when they are known to
faith in Christ, then when these things are made necessary to
sanctity of life, following from God and in God they are the cause
of eternal blessedness.

39. The parts of revealed theology are arranged according to
analytic order, so that first is drawn out, what is about the goal,
then what is about the subject of the operation, and then what
applies to the causes and means.

Taken from Wikimed, where you will find the rest of his Dogmatic.

søndag 20. april 2008


C.O. Rosenius

{Let us consider the persons who enjoy this precious freedom from the Law for) it does not belong to any one and everyone. The Scripture speaks expressly concerning those to whom "the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but of debt." (Romans 4:4), who receive merely what the have earned (Matthew 20:14) who are "under the law" (Romans 3:19) and therefore also "are under the curse (Galatians 3:10).

May no one deceive himself and appropriate what does not belong to him. May each one earnestly give heed to the very words of the Scripture.The apostle says expressly in Galatians 2:19: "I through the law died unto the law." Such words contain the secret of our question. He said the same in Romans 7:14: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law;" and again, in v. 6: "having died to that wherein we were held."Mark the words "made dead" and "died."

And in the same chapter the apostle shows us how it takes place and what it means to be made dead unto the Law through the Law. He says: "I had not known sin, except through the law: for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet: but sin, finding occasion, wrought in me through the commandment all manner of coveting; for apart from the law sin is dead. And I was alive apart from the law oonce: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died - For sin, finding occasion, through the commandment beguiled men, and through it slew me." (Romans 7:7-9,11)

What do such words signify? I died, through the law. Sin "slew me through it?" If you go to the bottom of the question, you will find precious light. Which death does the apostle mean when he, in this connection, says: "I died?" ... The catchism tells of three kinds of death: bodily, spiritual, and eternal; but here yet a fourth dead is spoken of: for the apostle was, indeed, spiritually dead even before the commandment came.

What does he mean by the word "dead?" The experienced know it; others do not believe it. Ah, that is what happens when the Law strikes home, when the holy eyes of God begin to pursue man's thoughts and intents of the heart - then is made made dead.

From the Believer Free From the Law by C.O. Rosenius. (Copied from the net: )

søndag 6. april 2008

Albert Barnes: The Epistle to the Hebrews. Introd.

Hebrews - by Albert Barnes.

Introduction to Hebrews

Section 1. Preliminary Remarks
It need not be said that this Epistle has given rise to much discussion among writers on the New Testament. Indeed there is probably no part of the Bible in regard to which so many conflicting views have been entertained. The name of the author; the time and place where the Epistle was written; the character of the book; its canonical authority; the language in which it was composed; and the persons to whom it was addressed - all have given rise to great difference of opinion. Among the causes of this are the following: - The name of the author is not mentioned. The church to which it was sent, if sent to any particular church, is not designated. There are no certain marks of time in the Epistle, as there often are in the writings of Paul, by which we can determine the time when it was written.
It is not the design of these notes to go into an extended examination of these questions. Those who are disposed to pursue these inquiries, and to examine the questions which have been started in regard to the Epistle, can find ample means in the larger works that have treated of it; and especially in Lardner; in Michaelis’ Introduction; in the Prolegomena of Kuinoel; in Hug’s Introduction; and particularly in Professor Stuart’s invaluable Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. No other work on this portion of the New Testament is so complete as his, and in the Introduction he has left nothing to be desired in regard to the literature of the Epistle.
Early on controversies arose in the church in regard to a great variety of questions pertaining to this Epistle, which are not yet fully settled. Most of those questions, however, pertain to the literature of the Epistle, and however they may be decided, are not such as to affect the respect which a Christian ought to have for it as a part of the word of God. They pertain to the inquiries, to whom it was written; in what language, and at what time it was composed; questions which in whatever way they may be settled, do not affect its canonical authority, and should not shake the confidence of Christians in it as a part of divine revelation. The only inquiry on these points which it is proper to institute in these notes is, whether the claims of the Epistle to a place in the canon of Scripture are of such a kind as to allow Christians to read it as a part of the oracles of God? May we sit down to it feeling that we are perusing that which has been given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit as a part of revealed truth? Other questions are interesting in their places, and the solution of them is worth all which it has cost; but they need not embarrass us here, nor claim our attention as preliminary to the exposition of the Epistle. All that will be attempted, therefore, in this Introduction, will be such a "condensation" of the evidence collected by others, as shall show that this Epistle has of right a place in the volume of revealed truth, and is of authority to regulate the faith and practice of mankind.
Section 2. To Whom Was the Epistle Written?
It purports to have been written to the "Hebrews." This is not found, indeed, in the body of the Epistle, though it occurs in the subscription at the end. It differs from all the other epistles of Paul in this respect, and from most of the others in the New Testament. In all of the other epistles of Paul, the church or person to whom the letter was sent is specified in the commencement. This, however, commences in the form of an essay or homily; nor is there anywhere in the Epistle any direct intimation as to what church it was sent. The subscription at the end is of no authority, since it cannot be supposed that the author himself would affix it to the Epistle, and since it is known that many of those subscriptions are false. See the remarks at the close of the notes on Romans, and the notes 1 Corinthians. Several questions present themselves here which we may briefly investigate:
(I) "What is the evidence that it was written to the Hebrews?" In reply to this we may observe:
(1) That the inscription at the commencement, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews," though not affixed by the author, may be allowed to express the current sense of the church in ancient times in reference to a question on which they had the best means of judging. These inscriptions at the commencement of the epistles have hitherto in general escaped the suspicion of spuriousness, to which the subscriptions at the close are justly exposed. "Michaelis." They should not in any case be called in question, unless there is good reason from the Epistle itself, or from some other source. This inscription is found in all our present Greek manuscripts, and in nearly all the ancient versions. It is found in the Peshito, the Old Syriac version, which was made in the first or in the early part of the second century. It is the title given to the Epistle by the fathers of the second century, and onward - Stuart.
(2) the testimony of the fathers. Their testimony is unbroken and uniform. With one accord they declare this, and this should be regarded as testimony of great value. Unless there is some good reason to depart from such evidence, it should be regarded as decisive. In this case, there is no good reason for calling it in question, but every reason to suppose it to be correct; nor so far as I have found is there any one who has doubted it.
(3) the internal evidence is of the highest character that it was written to Hebrew converts. It treats subjects of Hebrew institutions. It explains their nature. It makes no allusion to Gentile customs or laws. It all along supposes that those to whom it was sent were familiar with the Jewish history; with the nature of the temple service; with the functions of the priestly office; and with the whole structure of their religion. No other person than those who had been Jews are addressed throughout the Epistle. There is no attempt to explain the nature or design of any customs except those with which they were familiar. At the same time, it is equally clear that they were Jewish converts - converts from Judaism to Christianity - who are addressed. The writer addresses them as Christians, not as those who were to be converted to Christianity; he explains to them the Jewish customs as one would do to those who had been converted from Judaism; he endeavors to guard them from apostasy, as if there were danger that they would relapse again into the system from which they were converted. These considerations seem to be decisive; and in the view of all who have written on the Epistle, as well as of the Christian world at large, they settle the question. It has never been held that the Epistle was directed to Gentiles; and in all the opinions and questions which have been started on the subject, it has been admitted that, wherever they resided, the persons to whom the Epistle was addressed were originally Hebrews who had never been converted to the Christian religion.
(II) "To what particular church of the Hebrews was it written?" Very different opinions have been held on this question. The celebrated Storr held that it was written to the Hebrew part of the churches in Galatia; and that the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Gentile part of those churches. Semler and Noessett maintained that it was written to the churches in Macedonia, and particularly to the church of Thessalonica. Bolten maintains that it was addressed to the Jewish Christians who fled from Palestine in a time of persecution about the year 60 a.d., and who were scattered through Asia Minor. Michael Weber supposed that it was addressed to the church at Corinth. Ludwig conjectured that it was addressed to a church in Spain. Wetstein supposes that it was written to the church at Rome. Most of these opinions are mere conjectures, and all of them depend upon circumstances which furnish only slight evidence of probability. Those who are disposed to examine these, and to see them confuted, may consult Stuart’s Commentary on the Hebrews, Introduction Sections 5-9.
The common, and the almost universally received opinion is that the Epistle was addressed to the Hebrew Christians in Palestine. The reasons for this opinion, briefly, are the following:
(1) The testimony of the ancient church was uniform on this point - that the Epistle was not only written to the Hebrew Christians, but to those who were in Palestine. Lardner affirms this to be the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Euthalius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact; and adds that this was the general opinion of the ancients. Works, vol. iv. pp 80, 81. ed. London, 1829.
(2) The inscription at the commencement of the Epistle leads to this supposition. That inscription, though not appended by the hand of the author, was early affixed to it. It is found not only in the Greek manuscripts, but in all the early versions, as the Syriac and the Itala; and was doubtless affixed at a very early period, and by whomsoever affixed, expressed the current sense at the time. It is hardly possible that a mistake would be made on this point; and unless there is good evidence to the contrary, this ought to be allowed to determine the question. That inscription is, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews." But who are the Hebrews - the Ἑβρᾶιοι Hebraioi? Professor Stuart has endeavored to show that this was a term that was employed exclusively to denote the "Jews in Palestine," in contradistinction from foreign Jews, who were called "Hellenists." Compare my notes on Act_6:1. Bertholdt declares that there is not a single example which can be found in early times of Jewish Christians out of Palestine being called "Hebrews." See a Dissertation on the Greek Language in Palestine. and of the meaning of the word "Hellenists," by Hug, in the Bib. Repository, Vol. I, 547, 548. Compare also Robinson’s Lexicon on the word Ἑβρᾶιος Hebraios. If this is so, and if the inscription is of any authority, then it goes far to settle the question. The word "Hebrews" occurs only three times in the New Testament Act_6:1; 2Co_11:22; Phi_3:5 in the first of which it is certain that it is used in this sense, and in both the others of which it is probable. There can be no doubt, it seems to me, that an ancient writer acquainted with the usual sense of the word "Hebrew," would understand an inscription of this kind - "written to the Hebrews" - as designed for the inhabitants of Palestine, and not for the Jews of other countries.
(3) there are some passages in the Epistle itself which Lardner supposes indicate that this Epistle was written to the Hebrews in Palestine, or to those there who had been converted from Judaism to Christianity. As those passages are not conclusive, and as their force has been called in question, and with much propriety, by Professor Stuart (pp. 32-34). I shall merely refer to them. They can be examined at leisure by those who are disposed, and though they do not prove that the Epistle was addressed to the Hebrew Christians in Palestine, yet they can be best interpreted on that supposition, and a special significancy would be attached to them on this supposition. They are the following: Heb_1:2; Heb_4:2; Heb_2:1-4; Heb_5:12; Heb_4:4-6; Heb_10:26-29, Heb_10:32-34; Heb_13:13-14. The argument of Lardner is that these would be more applicable to their condition than to others; a position which I think cannot be doubted. Some of them are of so general character, indeed, as to be applicable to Christians elsewhere; and in regard to some of them it cannot be certainly demonstrated that the state of things referred to existed in Judea, but taken together they would be more applicable by far to them than to the circumstances of any others of which we have knowledge; and this may be allowed to have some weight at least in determining to whom the Epistle was sent.
(4) the internal evidence of the Epistle corresponds with the supposition that it was written to the Hebrew Christians in Palestine. The passages referred to in the previous remarks (3) might be adduced here as proof. But there is other proof. It might have been otherwise. There might be such strong internal proof that an epistle was not addressed to a supposed people, as completely to neutralize all the evidence derived from an inscription like that prefixed to this Epistle, and all the evidence derived from tradition. But it is not so here. All the circumstances referred to in the Epistle; the general strain of remark; the argument: the allusions, are just such as would be likely to be found in an epistle addressed to the Hebrew Christians in Palestine, and such as would not be likely to occur in an epistle addressed to any other place or people. They are such as the following:
(a) The familiar acquaintance with the Jewish institutions supposed by the writer to exist among those to whom it was sent - a familiarity hardly to be expected even of Jews who lived in other countries.
(b) The danger so frequently adverted to of their relapsing into their former state; of apostatizing from Christianity, and of embracing again the Jewish rites and ceremonies - a danger that would exist nowhere else in so great a degree as in Judea. Compare Heb_2:1-3; Heb_3:7-11, Heb_3:15; Heb_4:1; Heb_6:1-8; Heb_10:26-35.
(c) The nature of the discussion in the Epistle - not turning upon the obligation of circumcision, and the distinction of meats and drinks, which occupied so much of the attention of the apostles and early Christians in other places - but a discussion relating to the whole structure of the Mosaic economy, the pre-eminence of Moses or Christ, the meaning of the rites of the temple, etc. These great questions would be more likely to arise in Judea than elsewhere, and it was important to discuss them fully, as it is done in this Epistle. In other places they would be of less interest, and would excite less difficulty.
(d) The allusion to local places and events; to facts in their history; and to the circumstances of public worship, which would be better understood there than elsewhere. There are no allusions - or if there are they are very brief and infrequent - to pagan customs games, races, and philosophical opinions, as there are often in the other epistles of the New Testament. Those to whom the Epistle was sent, are presumed to have an intimate and minute knowledge of the Hebrew history, and such a knowledge as could be hardly supposed elsewhere. Compare Heb. 11, particularly Heb_11:32-39. Thus, it is implied that they so well understood the subjects referred to relating to the Jewish rites, that it was not necessary that the writer should specify them particularly. See Heb_9:5. Of what other persons could this be so appropriately said as of the dwellers in Palestine?
(e) The circumstances of trial and persecution so often referred to in the Epistle, agree well with the known condition of the church in Palestine. That it was subjected to great trials we know; and though this was extensively true of other churches, yet it is probable that there were more vexatious and grievous exactions; that there was more spite and malice; that there were more of the trials arising from the separation of families and the losses of property attending a profession of Christianity in Palestine than elsewhere in the early Christian church. These considerations - though not so conclusive as to furnish absolute demonstration - go far to settle the question. They seem to me so strong as to preclude any reasonable doubt, and are such as the mind can repose on with a great degree of confidence in regard to the original destination of the Epistle.
(3) "was it addressed to a particular church in Palestine, or to the Hebrew Christians there in general?" Whether it was addressed to the churches in general in Palestine, or to some particular church there, it is now impossible to determine. Prof. Stuart inclines to the opinion that it was addressed to the church in Caesarea. The ancients in general supposed it was addressed to the church in Jerusalem. There are some local references in the Epistle which look as though it was directed to some particular church. But the means of determining this question are put beyond our reach, and it is of little importance to settle the question. From the allusions to the temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, and the whole train of special institutions there, it would seem probable that it was directed to the church in Jerusalem. As that was the capital of the nation, and the center of religious influence; and as there was a large and flourishing church there, this opinion would seem to have great probability; but it is impossible now to determine it. If we suppose that the author sent the Epistle, in the first instance, to some local church, near the central seat of the great influence which he intended to reach by it - addressing to that church the particular communications in the last verses - we shall make a supposition which, so far as can now be ascertained, will accord with the truth in the case.
Section 3. The Author of the Epistle
To those who are familiar with the investigations which have taken place in regard to this Epistle, it need not be said that the question of its authorship has given rise to much discussion. The design of these notes does not permit me to go at length into this inquiry. Those who are disposed to see the investigation pursued at length, and to see the objections to the Pauline origin examined in a most satisfactory manner, can find it done in the Introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews, by Prof. Stuart, pp. 77-260. All that my purpose requires is to state, in a very brief manner, the evidence on which it is ascribed to the apostle Paul. That evidence is, briefly, the following:
(1) That derived from the church at Alexandria. Clement of Alexandria says, that Paul wrote to the Hebrews, and that this was the opinion of Pantaenus, who was at the head of the celebrated Christian school at Alexandria, and who flourished about 180 a.d. Pantaenus lived near Palestine. He must have been acquainted with the prevailing opinions on the subject, and his testimony must be regarded as proof that the Epistle was regarded as Paul’s by the churches in that region. Origen, also of Alexandria, ascribes the Epistle to Paul; though he says that the "sentiments" are those of Paul, but that the words and phrases belong to some one relating the apostle’s sentiments, and as it were commenting on the words of his master. The testimony of the church at Alexandria was uniform after the time of Origen, that it was the production of Paul. Indeed there seems never to have been any doubt in regard to it there, and from the commencement it was admitted as his production. The testimony of that church and school is particularly valuable, because:
(a) it was near to Palestine, where the Epistle was probably sent;
(b) Clement particularly had traveled much, and would be likely to understand the prevailing sentiments of the East;
(c) Alexandria was the seat of the most celebrated theological school of the early Christian ages, and those who were at the head of this school would be likely to have correct information on a point like this; and,
(d) Origen is admitted to have been the most learned of the Greek fathers, and his testimony that the "sentiments" were those of Paul may be regarded as of unique value.
(2) it was inserted in the translation into the Syriac, made very early in the second century, and in the Old Italic version, and was hence believed to be of apostolic origin, and is by the inscription ascribed to Paul. This may be allowed to express the general sense of the churches at that time, as this would not have been done unless there had been a general impression that the Epistle was written by him. The fact that it was regarded early as an inspired book is also conclusively shown by the fact that the Second Epistle of Peter, and the Second Epistle and Third Epistle of John, are not found in that version. They came later into circulation than the other epistles, and were not possessed, or regarded as genuine, by the author of that version. The Epistle to the Hebrews is found in these versions, and was, therefore, regarded as one of the inspired books. In those versions it bears the inscription, "To the Hebrews."
(3) this Epistle was received as the production of Paul by the Eastern churches. Justin Martyr, who was born at Samaria, quotes it, about the year 140 a.d. It was found, as has been already remarked, in the Peshito - the Old Syriac Version, made in the early part of the second century Jacob, bishop of Nisibis, also (about 325 a.d.) repeatedly quotes it as the production of an apostle. Ephrem Syrus, or the Syrian, abundantly ascribes this Epistle to Paul. He was the disciple of Jacob of Nisibis, and no man was better qualified to inform himself on this point than Ephrem. No man stands deservedly higher in the memory of the Eastern churches. After him, all the Syrian churches acknowledged the canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But the most important testimony of the Eastern church is that of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine. He is the well-known historian of the church, and he took pains from all quarters to collect testimony in regard to the Books of Scripture. He says, "There are fourteen epistles of Paul, manifest and well known: but yet there are some who reject that to the Hebrews, alleging in behalf of their opinion, that it was not received by the church of Rome as a writing of Paul." The testimony of Eusebius is particularly important.
He had heard of the objection to its canonical authority. He had weighed that objection. Yet in view of the testimony in the case, he regarded it as the undoubted production of Paul. As such it was received in the churches in the East; and the fact which he mentions, that its genuineness had been disputed by the church of Rome, and that he specifies no other church, proves that it had not been called in question in the East. This seems to me to be sufficient testimony to settle this inquiry. The writers here referred to lived in the very country to which the Epistle was evidently written, and their testimony is uniform. Justin Martyr was born in Samaria; Ephrem passed his life in Syria; Eusebius lived in Cesarea, and Origen passed the last twenty years of his life in Palestine. The churches there were unanimous in the opinion that this Epistle was written by Paul, and their united testimony should settle the question.
Indeed when their testimony is considered, it seems remarkable that the subject should have been regarded as doubtful by critics, or that it should have given rise to so much protracted investigation. I might add to the testimonies above referred to, the fact that the Epistle was declared to be Paul’s by the following persons: Archelaus, Bishop of Mesopotamia, about 300 a.d.; Adamantius, about 330 a.d.; Cyril, of Jerusalem, about 348 a.d.; the Council of Laodicea, about 363 a.d.; Epiphanius, about 368 a.d.; Basil, 370 a.d.; Gregory Nazianzen, 370 a.d.; Chrysostom, 398 a.d., etc. etc. Why should not the testimony of such men and churches be admitted? What more clear or decided evidence could we wish in regard to any fact of ancient history? Would not such testimony be ample in regard to an anonymous oration of Cicero, or poem of Virgil or Horace? Are we not constantly acting on far feebler evidence in regard to the authorship of many productions of celebrated English writers?
(4) in regard to the Western churches, it is to be admitted that, like the Second Epistle of Peter, and the Second Epistle and Third Epistle of John, the canonical authority was for some time doubted, or was even called in question. But this may be accounted for. The Epistle had not the name of the author. All the other epistles of Paul had. As the Epistle was addressed to the Hebrews in Palestine, it may not have been soon known to the Western churches. As there were spurious epistles and gospels at an early age, much caution would be used in admitting any anonymous production to a place in the sacred canon. Yet it was not long before all these doubts were removed, and the Epistle to the Hebrews was allowed to take its place among the other acknowledged writings of Paul. It was received as the Epistle of Paul by Hilary, Bishop of Poictiers, about 354 a.d.; by Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari, 354 a.d.; by Victorinus, 360 a.d.; by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 360 a.d.; by Rufinus, 397 a.d., etc. etc.
Jerome, the well-known Latin Father, uses in regard to it the following language: "This is to be maintained, that this Epistle, which is inscribed to the Hebrews, is not only received by the churches at the East as the apostle Paul’s, but has been in past times by all ecclesiastical writers in the Greek language; although most Latins think that Barnabas or Clement was the author." Still, it was not rejected by "all" the Latins. Some received it in the time of Jerome as the production of Paul. See Stuart, pp. 114, 115, for the full testimony of Jerome. Augustine admitted that the Epistle was written by Paul. He mentions that Paul wrote fourteen epistles, and specifies particularly the Epistle to the Hebrews. He often cites it as a part of Scripture, and quotes it as the production of an apostle - Stuart, p. 115. From the time of Augustine it was undisputed. By the Council of Hippo, 393 a.d., the Third Council of Carthage, 397 a.d., and the Fifth Council of Carthage, 419 a.d., it was declared to be the Epistle of Paul, and was commended to the churches as such.
(5) as another proof that it is the writing of Paul, we may appeal to the internal evidence:
(a) The author of the Epistle was the companion and friend of Timothy. "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty - or is sent away - ἀπολελυμένον apolelumenon - with whom if he come speedily, I will make you a visit." Heb_13:23. Sent away, perhaps, on a journey, to visit some of the churches, and expected soon to return. In Phi_2:19, Paul speaks of sending Timothy to them "so soon as he should see how it would go with him," at the same time expressing a hope that he should himself see them shortly. What is more natural than to suppose that he had now sent Timothy to Philippi; that during his absence he wrote this Epistle; that he was waiting for his return; and that he proposed, if Timothy should return soon, to visit Palestine with him? And who would more naturally say this than the apostle Paul - the companion and friend of Timothy; by whom he had been accompanied in his travels; and by whom he was regarded with special interest as a minister of the gospel?
(b) In Heb_13:18-19, he asks their prayers that he might be restored to them; and in Heb_13:23, he expresses a confident expectation of being able soon to come and see them. From this it is evident that he was then imprisoned, but had hope of speedy release - a state of things in exact accordance with what existed at Rome. Phi_2:17-24.
(c) He was in bonds when he wrote this Epistle. Heb_10:34, "ye had compassion of me in my bonds;" an expression that will exactly apply to the case of Paul. He was in "bonds" in Palestine; he was two whole years in Caesarea a prisoner Act_24:27; and what was more natural than that the Christians in Palestine should have had compassion on him, and ministered to his needs? To what other person would these circumstances so certainly be applicable?
(d) The salutation Heb_13:24, "they of Italy salute you," agrees with the supposition that it was written by Paul when a prisoner at Rome. Paul writing from Rome, and acquainted with Christians from other parts of Italy, would be likely to send such a salutation. In regard to the "objections" which may be made to this use of the passage, the reader may consult Stuart’s Introduction to the Hebrews, p. 127, following.
(e) The "doctrines" of the Epistle are the same as those which are taught by Paul in his undisputed writings. It is true that this consideration is not conclusive, but the want of it would be conclusive evidence against the position that Paul wrote it. But the resemblance is not general. It is not such as any man would exhibit who held to the same general system of truth. It relates to "peculiarities" of doctrine, and is such as would be manifested by a man who bad been reared and trained as Paul had:
(1) No one can doubt that the author was formerly a Jew - and a Jew who had been familiar to an uncommon degree with the institutions of the Jewish religion. Every rite and ceremony; every form of opinion; every fact in their history, is perfectly familiar to him. And though the other apostles were Jews, yet we can hardly suppose that they had the familiarity with the minute rites and ceremonies so accurately referred to in this Epistle, and so fully illustrated. With Paul all this was perfectly natural. He had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and had spent the early part of his life at Jerusalem in the careful study of the Old Testament, in the examination of the prevalent opinions, and in the attentive observance of the rites of religion. The other apostles had been born and trained, apparently, on the banks of Gennesareth, and certainly with few of the opportunities which Paul had had for becoming acquainted with the institutions of the temple service. This consideration is fatal, in my view, to the claim which has been set up for Clement as the author of the Epistle. It is wholly incredible that a foreigner should be so familiar with the Jewish opinions, laws, institutions, and history, as the author of this Epistle manifestly was.
(2) there is the same preference for Christianity over Judaism in this Epistle which is shown by Paul in his other epistles, and exhibited in the same form. Among these points are the following - "The gospel imparts superior light." Compare Gal_4:3, Gal_4:9; 1Co_14:20; Eph_4:11-13; 2Co_3:18; with Heb_1:1-2; Heb_2:2-4; Heb_8:9-11; Heb_10:1; Heb_11:39-40. "The gospel holds out superior motives and encouragements to piety." Compare Gal_3:23; Gal_4:2-3; Rom_8:15-17; Gal_4:1; Gal_5:13; 1Co_7:19; Gal_6:15; with Heb_9:9, Heb_9:14; Heb_12:18-24, Heb_12:28; Heb_8:6-13. "The gospel is superior in promoting the real and permanent happiness of mankind." Compare Gal_3:13; 2Co_3:7, 2Co_3:9; Rom_3:20; Rom_4:24-25; Eph_1:7; Rom_5:1-2; Gal_2:16; and the same views in Heb_12:18-21; Heb_9:9; Heb_10:4, Heb_10:11; Heb_6:18-20; Heb_7:25; Heb_9:24. "The Jewish dispensation was a type and shadow of the Christian." See Col_2:16-17; 1Co_10:1-6; Rom_5:14; 1Co_15:45-47; 2Co_3:13-18; Gal_4:22-31; Gal_4:1-5; and for the same or similar views, see Heb_9:9-14; Heb_10:1; Heb_8:1-9; Heb_9:22-24. "The Christian religion was designed to be perpetual, while the Jewish was intended to be abolished."
See 2Co_3:10-11, 2Co_3:13, 2Co_3:18; 2Co_4:14-16; Rom_7:4-6; Gal_3:21-25; Gal_4:1-7; Gal_5:1; and for similar views compare Heb_8:6-8, Heb_8:13; Heb_7:17-19; Heb_10:1-14. "The person of the Mediator is presented in the same light by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews and by Paul." See Phi_2:6-11; Col_1:15-20; 2Co_8:9; Eph_3:9; 1Co_8:6; 1Co_15:25-27; and for the same and similar views, see Heb_1:2-3; Heb_2:9, Heb_2:14; Heb_12:2; Heb_2:8; Heb_10:13. "The death of Christ is the propitiatory sacrifice for sin." See 1Ti_1:15; 1Co_15:3; Rom_8:32; Rom_3:24; Gal_1:4; Gal_2:20; 1Co_5:7; Eph_1:7; Col_1:14; 1Ti_2:6; 1Co_6:20; 1Co_7:23; Rom_5:12-21; Rom_3:20, Rom_3:28; Rom_8:3; 1Ti_2:5-6. For similar views see Heb_1:3; Heb_2:9; Heb_5:8-9; Heb. 7; Heb_8:1-13; Heb. 9; Heb. 10: "The general method and arrangement of this Epistle and the acknowledged epistles of Paul are the same." It particularly resembles the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, where we have first a doctrinal and then a practical part.
The same is true also to some extent of the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. The Epistle to the Hebrews is on the same plan. As far as Heb_10:19, it is principally doctrinal; the remainder is mainly practical. "The manner of appealing to, and applying the Jewish Scriptures, is the same in this Epistle as in those of Paul." The general structure of the Epistle, and the slightest comparison between them, will show this with sufficient clearness. The general remark to be made in view of this comparison is, that the Epistle to the Hebrews is just such an one as Paul might be expected to write; that it agrees with what we know to have been his early training, his views, his manner of life, his opinions, and his habit in writing; that it accords better with his views than with those of any other known writer of antiquity; and that it falls in with the circumstances in which he was known to be placed, and the general object which he had in view. So satisfactory are these views to my mind, that they seem to have all the force of demonstration which can be had in regard to any anonymous publication, and it is a matter of wonder that so much doubt has been experienced in reference to the question who was the author.
It is difficult to account for the fact that the name of the author was omitted. It is found in every other Epistle of Paul, and in general it is appended to the epistles in the New Testament. It is omitted, however, in the three Epistles of John, for reasons which are now unknown. And there may have been similar reasons also unknown for omitting it in this case. The simple fact is, that it is anonymous; and whoever was the author, the same difficulty will exist in accounting for it. If this fact will prove that Paul was not the author, it would prove the same thing in regard to any other person, and would thus be ultimately conclusive evidence that it had no author. What were the reasons for omitting the name can be only matter of conjecture. The most probable opinion, as it seems to me, is this. The name of Paul was odious to the Jews. He was regarded by the nation as an apostate from their religion, and everywhere they showed special malignity against him.
See the Acts of the Apostles. The fact that he was so regarded by them might indirectly influence even those who had been converted from Judaism to Christianity. They lived in Palestine. They were near the temple, and were engaged in its ceremonies and sacrifices - for there is no evidence that they broke off from those observances on their conversion to Christianity. Paul was abroad. It might have been reported that he was preaching against the temple and its sacrifices, and even the Jewish Christians in Palestine might have supposed that he was carrying matters too far. In these circumstances it might have been imprudent for him to have announced his name at the outset, for it might have aroused prejudices which a wise man would wish to allay. But if he could present an argument, somewhat in the form of an essay, showing that he believed that the Jewish institutions were appointed by God, and that he was not an apostate and an infidel; if he could conduct a demonstration that would accord in the main with the prevailing views of the Christians in Palestine, and that was adapted to, strengthen them in the faith of the gospel, and explain to them the true nature of the Jewish rites, then the object could be gained without difficulty, and then they would be prepared to learn that Pant was the author, without prejudice or alarm. Accordingly he thus conducts the argument; and at the close gives them such intimations that they would understand who wrote it without much difficulty. If this was the motive, it was an instance of tact such as was certainly characteristic of Paul, and such as was not unworthy any man. I have no doubt that this was the true motive. It would be soon known who wrote it; and accordingly we have seen it was never disputed in the Eastern churches.
Section 4. The Time When Written
In regard to the time when this Epistle was written, and the place where, critics have been better agreed than on most of the questions which have been started in regard to it. Mill was of opinion that it was written by Paul in the year 63 a.d., in some part of Italy, soon after he bad been released from imprisonment at Rome. Wetstein was of the same opinion. Tillemont also places this Epistle in the year 63 a.d., and supposes that it was written while Paul was at Rome, or at least in Italy, and soon after he was released from imprisonment. Basnage supposes it was written about the year 61, and during the imprisonment of the apostle. Lardner supposes also that it was written in the beginning of the year 63 a.d., and soon after the apostle was released from his confinement. This also is the opinion of Calmet. The circumstances in the Epistle which will enable us to form an opinion on the question about the time and the place are the following:
(1) It was written while the temple was still standing, and before Jerusalem was destroyed. This is evident from the whole structure of the Epistle. There is no allusion to the destruction of the temple or the city, which there certainly would have been if they had been destroyed. Such an event would have contributed much to the object in view, and would have furnished an unbreakable argument that the institutions of the Jews were intended to be superseded by another and a more perfect system. Moreover, there are allusions in the Epistle which suppose that the temple service was then performed. See Heb_9:9; Heb_8:4-5. But the city and temple were destroyed in the year 70 a.d., and, of course, the Epistle was written before that year.
(2) it was evidently written before the civil wars and commotions in Judea, which terminated in the destruction of the city and nation. This is clear, because there are no allusions to any such disorders or troubles in Palestine, and there is no intimation that they were suffering the evils incident to a state of war. Compare Heb_12:4. But those wars commenced 66 a.d., and evidently the Epistle was written before that time.
(3) they were not suffering the evils of violent persecution. They had indeed formerly suffered (compare Heb_10:32, Heb_10:34); James and Stephen had been put to death Acts 7; Acts 12; but there was no violent and bloody persecution then raging in which they were called to defend their religion at the expense of blood and life. Heb_10:32-33. But the persecution under Nero began in the year 64 a.d., and though it began at Rome, and was confined to a considerable degree to Italy, yet it is not improbable that it extended to other places, and it is to be presumed that if such a persecution were raging at the time when the Epistle was written there would be some allusion to this fact. It may be set down, therefore, that it was written before the year 64 ad.
(4) It is equally true that the Epistle was written during the latter part of the apostolic age. The author speaks of the former days in which after they were illuminated they had endured a great fight of afflictions, and when they were made a gazing-stock, and were plundered by their oppressors Heb_10:32-34; and he speaks of them as having been so long-converted that they ought to have been qualified to teach others Heb_5:12; and, hence, it is fairly to be inferred that they were not recent converts, but that the church there had been established for a considerable period. It may be added, that it was after the writer had been imprisoned - as I suppose in Caesarea (see Section 3) - when they had ministered to him; Heb_10:34. But this was as late as the year 60 ad.
(5) At the time when Paul wrote the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, he had hopes of deliverance. Timothy was evidently with him. But now he was absent; Heb_13:23. In the Epistle to the Philippians Phi_2:19-23 he says, "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I may be also of good comfort, when I know your state." He expected, therefore, that Timothy would come back to him at Rome. It is probable that Timothy was sent soon after this. The apostle had a fair prospect of being set at liberty, and sent him to them. "During his absence" at this time, it would seem probable, this Epistle was written. Thus, the writer says Heb_13:23, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty" - or rather, "sent away," or "sent abroad" (see the note in that place); "with whom if be come shortly, I will see you." That is, if he returns soon, as I expect him, I will pay you a visit. It is probable that the Epistle was written while Timothy was thus absent at Philippi, and when he returned, Paul and he went to Palestine, and thence to Ephesus. If so it was written somewhere about the year 63 a.d. as this was the time when Paul was set at liberty.
(6) the Epistle was written evidently in Italy. Thus, in Heb_13:24, the writer says, "They of Italy salute you." This would be the natural form of salutation on the supposition that it was written there. He mentions none by name, as he does in his other epistles, for it is probable that none of those who were at Rome would be known by name in Palestine. But there was a general salutation, showing the interest which they had in the Christians in Judea, and expressive of regard for their welfare. This expression is, to my mind, conclusive evidence that the Epistle was written in Italy; and in Italy there was no place where this would be so likely to occur as at Rome.
Section 5. The Language in which It Was Written
This is a vexed and still unsettled question, and it does not seem to be possible to determine it with any considerable degree of certainty. Critics of the ablest name have been divided on it, and what is remarkable, have appealed to the same arguments to prove exactly opposite opinions - one class arguing that the style of the Epistle is such as to prove that it was written in Hebrew, and the other appealing to the same proofs to demonstrate that it was written in Greek. Among those who have supposed that it was written in Hebrew are the following, namely: - Some of the fathers - as Clement of Alexandria, Theodoret, John Damascenus, Theophylact; and among the moderns, Michaelis has been the most strenuous defender of this opinion. This opinion was also held by the late Dr. James P. Wilson, who says, "It was probably written in the common language of the Jews;" that is, in that mixture of Hebrew, Syriac, and Chaldee, which was usually spoken in the time of the Saviour, and which was known as the Syro-Chaldaic.
On the other hand, the great body of critics have supposed it was written in the Greek language. This was the opinion of Fabricius, Lightfoot, Whitby, Beausobre, Capellus, Basnage, Mill, and others, and is also the opinion of Lardnet, Hug, Stuart, and perhaps of most modern critics. These opinions may be seen examined at length in Michaelis’ Introduction, Hag, Stuart, and Lardner.
The arguments in support of the opinion that it was written in Hebrew are, briefly, the following:
(1) The testimony of the fathers. Thus, Clement of Alexandria says, "Paul wrote to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language, and Luke carefully translated it into Greek." Jerome says, "Paul as a Hebrew wrote to the Hebrews in Hebrew - Scripserat ut Hebraeus Hebraeis Hebraice;" and then he adds, "this Epistle was translated into Greek, so that the coloring of the style was made diverse in this way from that of Paul’s."
(2) the fact that it was written for the use of the Hebrews, who spoke the Hebrew, or the "Talmudic" language, is alleged as a reason for supposing that it must have been written in that language.
(3) it is alleged by Michaelis, that the style of the Greek, as we now have it, is far more pure and Classical than Paul elsewhere employs, and that hence it is to be inferred that it was translated by some one who was master of the Greek language. On this, however, the most eminent critics disagree.
(4) it is alleged by Michaelis, that the quotations in the Epistle, as we have it, are made from the Septuagint, and that they are foreign to the purpose which the writer had in view as they are now quoted, whereas they are exactly in point as they stand in the Hebrew. Hence he infers that the original Hebrew was quoted by the author, and that the translator used the common version at hand instead of making an exact translation for himself. Of the fact alleged here, however, there may be good ground to raise a question; and if it were so, it would not prove that the writer might not have used the common and accredited translation, though less to his purpose than the original. Of the fact, moreover, to which Michaelis here refers, Prof. Stuart says, "He has not adduced a single instance of what he calls a "wrong translation" which wears the appearance of any considerable probability." The only instance urged by Michaelis which seems to me to be plausible is Heb_1:7. These are the principal arguments which have been urged in favor of the opinion that this Epistle was written in the Hebrew language. They are evidently not conclusive. The only argument of any considerable weight is the testimony of some of the fathers, and it may be doubted whether they gave this as a matter of historic fact or only as a matter of opinion. See Hug’s Introduction, 144. It is morally certain that in one respect their statement cannot be true. They state that it was translated by Luke; but it is capable of the clearest proof that it was not translated by Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, since there is the most remarkable dissimilarity in the style.
On the other hand there are alleged in favor of the opinion that it was written in Greek the following considerations, namely:
(1) The fact that we have no Hebrew original. If it was written in Hebrew, the original was early lost. None of the fathers say that they had seen it; none quote it. All the copies that we have are in Greek. If it was written in Hebrew, and the original was destroyed, it must have been at a very early period, and it is remarkable that no one should have mentioned the fact or alluded to it. Besides, it is scarcely conceivable that the original should have so soon perished, and that the translation should have altogether taken its place. If it was addressed to the Hebrews in Palestine, the same reason which made it proper that it should have been written in Hebrew would have led them to retain it in that language, and we might have supposed that Origen, or Eusebius, or Jerome, who lived there, or Ephrem the Syrian, would have adverted to the fact that there was there a Hebrew original. The Jews were remarkable for retaining their sacred books in the language in which they were written, and if this were written in Hebrew it is difficult to account for the fact that it was so soon suffered to perish.
(2) the presumption - a presumption amounting to almost a moral certainty - is, that an apostle writing to the Christians in Palestine would write in Greek. This presumption is based on the following circumstances:
(a) The fact that all the other books of the New Testament were written in Greek, unless the Gospel by Matthew is an exception.
(b) This occurred in cases where it would seem to have been as improbable as it was that one writing to the Hebrews should use that language. For instance, Paul wrote to the church in Rome in the Greek language, though the "Latin" language was what was in universal use there.
(c) The Greek was a common language in the East. It seems to have been familiarly spoken, and to have been commonly understood.
(d) Like the other books of the New Testament, this Epistle does not appear to have been intended to be confined to the Hebrews only. The writings of the apostles were regarded as the property of the church at large. Those writings would be copied and spread abroad. The Greek language was a far better language for such a purpose than the Hebrew language. It was polished and elegant; was adapted to the purpose of discoursing on moral subjects; was fitted to express delicate shades of thought, and was the language which was best understood by the world at large.
(e) It was the language which Paul would naturally use unless there was a strong reason for his employing the Hebrew. Though he was able to speak in Hebrew Act_21:40, yet he had spent his early days in Tarsus, where the Greek was the vernacular tongue, and it was probably that which he had first learned. Besides this, when this Epistle was written he had been absent from Palestine about 25 years, and in all that time he had been there but a few days. He had been where the Greek language was universally spoken. He had been among Jews who spoke that language. It was the language used in their synagogues, and Paul had addressed them in it. After thus preaching, conversing, and writing in that language for 25 years, is it any wonder that he should prefer writing in it; that he should naturally do it; and is it not to be presumed that he would do it in this case? These presumptions are so strong that they ought to be allowed to settle a question of this kind unless there is positive proof to the contrary.
(3) there is internal proof that it was written in the Greek language. The evidence of this kind consists in the fact that the writer bases an argument on the meaning and force of Greek words, which could not have occurred had he written in Hebrew. Instances of this kind are such as these:
(a) In Heb. 2: he applies a passage from Psa_8:1-9 to prove that the Son of God must have had a human nature, which was to be exalted above the angels, and placed at the head of the creation. The passage is, "Thou hast made him a little while inferior to the angels. Heb_2:7, margin. In the Hebrew, in Psa_8:5, the word rendered "angels," is אלהים 'Elohiym - God; and the sense of "angels" attached to that word, though it may sometimes occur, is so unusual, that an argument would not have been built on the Hebrew language.
(b) In Heb_7:1, the writer has explained the name "Melchizedek," and translated it "king of Salem" - telling what it is in "Greek" - a thing which would not have been done had he written in Hebrew, where the word was well understood. It is possible, indeed, that a translator might have done this, but the explanation seems to be interwoven with the discourse itself, and to constitute a part of the argument.
(c) In Heb_9:16-17, there is an argument on the meaning of the word "covenant" - διαθήκη diathēkē - which could not have occurred had the Epistle been in Hebrew. It is founded on the double meaning of that word - denoting both a "covenant" and a "testament," or "will." The Hebrew word - בּרית beriyt - has no such double signification. It means only "covenant," and is never used in the sense of the word "will," or testament. The proper translation of that word would be συνθήκη sunthēkē - but the translators of the Septuagint uniformly used the former - διαθήκη diathēkē and on this word the argument of the apostle is based. This could not have been done by a translator; it must have been by the original author, for it is incorporated into the argument.
(d) In Heb_10:3-9, the author shows that Christ came to make an atonement for sin, and that in order to this it was necessary that he should have a human body. This he shows was not only necessary, but was predicted. In doing this, he appeals to Psa_40:6 - "A body hast thou prepared for me." But the Hebrew here is, "Mine ears hast thou opened." This passage would have been much less pertinent than the other form - "a body hast thou prepared me; " - and indeed it is not easy to see how it would bear at all on the object in view. See Heb_10:10. But in the Septuagint, the phrase stands as he quotes it - "a body hast thou prepared for me;" a fact which demonstrates, whatever difficulties there may be about the "principle" on which he makes the quotation, that the Epistle was written in Greek. It may be added, that it has nothing of the appearance of a translation. It is not stiff, forced, or constrained in style, as translations usually are. It is impassioned, free, flowing, full of animation, life, and coloring, and has all the appearance of being an original composition. So clear have these considerations appeared, that the great body of critics now concur in the opinion that the Epistle was originally written in Greek
Section 6. The Design and General Argument of the Epistle
The general purpose of this Epistle is, to preserve those to whom it was sent from the danger of apostasy. Their danger on this subject did not arise so much from persecution, as from the circumstances that were fitted to attract them again to the Jewish religion. The temple, it is supposed, and indeed it is evident, was still standing. The morning and evening sacrifice was still offered. The splendid rites of that imposing religion were still observed. The authority of the law was undisputed. Moses was a lawgiver, sent from God, and no one doubted that the Jewish form of religion had been instituted by their fathers in conformity with the direction of God. Their religion had been founded amidst remarkable manifestations of the Deity - in flames, and smoke, and thunder; it had been communicated by the ministration of angels; it had on its side and in its favor all the venerableness and sanction of a remote antiquity; and it commended itself by the pomp of its ritual, and by the splendor of its ceremonies. On the other hand, the new form of religion had little or nothing of this to commend it. It was of recent origin. It was founded by the Man of Nazareth, who had been trained up in their own land, and who had been a carpenter, and who had had no extraordinary advantages of education. Its rites were few and simple. It had no splendid temple service; none of the pomp and pageantry, the music and the magnificence of the ancient religion. It had no splendid array of priests in magnificent vestments, and it had not been imparted by the ministry of angels. Fishermen were its ministers; and by the body of the nation it was regarded as a schism, or heresy, that enlisted in its favor only the most humble and lowly of the people.
In these circumstances, how natural was it for the enemies of the gospel in Judea to contrast the two forms of religion, and how keenly would Christians there feel it! All that was said of the antiquity and the divine origin of the Jewish religion they knew and admitted; all that was said of its splendor and magnificence they saw; and all that was said of the humble origin of their own religion they were constrained to admit also. their danger was not that arising from persecution. It was that of being affected by considerations like these, and of relapsing again into the religion of their fathers, and of apostatizing from the gospel; and it was a danger which beset no other part of the Christian world.
To meet and counteract this danger was the design of this Epistle. Accordingly, the writer contrasts the two religions in all the great points on which the minds of Christians in Judea would be likely to be affected, and shows the superiority of the Christian religion over the Jewish in every respect, and especially in the points that had so much attracted their attention, and affected their hearts. He begins by showing that the author of the Christian religion was superior in rank to any and all who had ever delivered the word of God to man. He was superior to the prophets, and even to the angels. He was over all things, and all things were subject to him. There was, therefore, a special reason why they should listen to him, and obey his commands; Heb_1:1-14 and Heb. 2: He was superior to Moses, the great Jewish lawgiver, whom they venerated so much, and on whom they so much prided themselves; Heb. 3: Having shown that the Great Founder of the Christian religion was superior to the prophets, to Moses, and to the angels, the writer proceeds to show that the Christian religion was characterized by having a High Priest superior to that of the Jews, and of whom the Jewish high priest was but a type and emblem.
He shows that all the rites of the ancient religion, splendid as they were, were also but types, and were to vanish away - for they had had their fulfillment in the realities of the Christian faith He allows that the Christians High Priest derived his origin and his rank from a more venerable antiquity than the Jewish high priest did - because he went back to Melchizedek, who lived long before Aaron, and that he had far superior dignity from the fact that he had entered into the Holy of Holies in heaven. The Jewish high priest entered once a year into the most holy place in the temple; the Great High Priest of the Christian faith had entered into the Most Holy place - of which that was but the type and emblem - into heaven. In short, whatever there was of dignity and honor in the Jewish faith had more than its counterpart in the Christian religion; and while the Christian religion was permanent, that was fading.
The rites of the Jewish system, magnificent as they were, were designed to be temporary. They were mere types and shadows of things to come. They had their fulfillment in Christianity That had an Author more exalted in rank by far than the author of the Jewish system; it had a High Priest more elevated and enduring; it had rites which brought men nearer to God; it was the substance of what in the temple service was type and shadow. By considerations such as these the author of this Epistle endeavors to preserve them from apostasy. Why should they go back? Why should they return to a less perfect system? Why go back from the substance to the shadow? Why turn away from the true sacrifice to the type and emblem? Why linger around the earthly tabernacle, and contemplate the high priest there, while they had a more perfect and glorious High Priest, who had entered into the heavens? And why should they turn away from the only perfect sacrifice - the great offering made for transgression - and go back to the bloody rites which were to be renewed every day?
And why forsake the perfect system - the system that was to endure for ever - for that which was soon to vanish away? The author of this Epistle is very careful to assure them that if they thus apostatized, there could be no hope for them. If they now rejected the sacrifice of the Son of God, then was no other sacrifice for sin. That was the last great sacrifice for the sins of men. It was designed to close all bloody offerings. It was not to be repeated. If that was rejected, there was no other. The Jewish rites were soon to pass away; and even if they were not, they could not cleanse the conscience from sin. Persecuted then though they might be; reviled, ridiculed, opposed, yet they should not abandon their Christian hope, for it was their all; they should not neglect him who spake to them from heaven, for in dignity, rank, and authority, he far surpassed all who in former times had made known the will of God to men.
This Epistle, therefore, occupies a most important place in the book of revelation, and without it that book would be incomplete. It is the most full explanation which we have of the meaning of the Jewish institutions. In the Epistle to the Romans we have a system of religious doctrine, and particularly a defense of the great doctrine of justification by faith. Important doctrines are discussed in the other epistles; but there was something wanted that would show the meaning of the Jewish rites and ceremonies, and their connection with the Christian scheme; something which would show us how the one was preparatory to the other; and I may add, something that would restrain the imagination in endeavoring to show how the one was designed to introduce the other. The one was a system of "types" and "shadows." But on nothing is the human mind more prone to wander than on the subject of emblems and analogies.
This has been shown abundantly in the experience of the Christian church, from the time of Origen to the present. Systems of divinity, commentaries, and sermons, have shown everywhere how prone men of ardent imaginations have been to find types in everything pertaining to the ancient economy; to discover hidden meanings in every ceremony; and to regard every pin and hook and instrument of the tabernacle as designed to inculcate some truth, and to shadow forth some fact or doctrine of the Christian revelation. It was desirable to have one book that should tell how that is; to fetter down the imagination and bind it by severe rules, and to restrain the vagaries of honest but credulous devotion. Such a book we have in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The ancient system is there explained by one who had been brought up in the midst of it, and who understood it thoroughly; by one who had a clear insight into the relation which it bore to the Christian economy; by one who was under the influence of divine inspiration, and who could not err.
The Bible would have been incomplete without this book: and when I think of the relation between the Jewish and the Christian systems; when I look on the splendid rites of the ancient economy, and ask their meaning; when I wish a full guide to heaven, and ask for that which gives completeness to the whole, I turn instinctively to the Epistle to the Hebrews. When I wish also that which shall give me the most elevated view of the Great Author of Christianity and of his work, and the most clear conceptions of the sacrifice which he made for sin: and when I look for considerations that shall be most effectual in restraining the soul from apostasy, and for considerations to enable it to bear trials with patience and with hope, my mind recurs to this book, and I feel that the book of revelation, and the hopes of man, would be incomplete without it.

Hebrews 1 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The main object of the Epistle is to commend the Christian religion to those who were addressed in it in such a way as to prevent defection from it. This is done, principally, by showing its superiority to the Mosaic system. The great danger of Christians in Palestine was of relapsing into the Jewish system. The imposing nature or its rites; the public sentiment in its favor; the fact of its antiquity, and its undisputed divine origin, would all tend to that. To counteract this, the writer of this Epistle shows that the gospel bad higher claims on their attention, and that if that was rejected ruin was inevitable. In doing this, he begins, in this chapter, by showing the superiority of the Author of Christianity to prophets and to the angels; that is, that he had a rank that entitled him to the profoundest regard. The drift of this chapter, therefore, is to show the dignity and exalted nature of the Author of the Christian system - the Son of God. The chapter comprises the following points:
I. The announcement of the fact that God, who had formerly spoken by the prophets, had in this last dispensation spoken by his Son; Heb_1:1-2.
II. The statement respecting his rank and dignity. He was:
(1) the Heir of all things;
(2) the Creator of the worlds;
(3) the Brightness of the divine glory and the proper expression of his nature;
(4) he upheld all things; Heb_1:2-3.
III. The work and exaltation of the Author of the Christian system:
(1) He, by his own unassisted agency, purified us from our sins.
(2) he is seated at the right hand of God.
(3) he has a more exalted and valuable inheritance than the angels, in proportion as his name is more exalted than theirs; Heb_1:3-4.
IV. Proofs that what is here ascribed to him belongs to him, particularly that he is declared to be superior to the angels; Heb_1:5-14.
(1) the angels have never been addressed with the title of Son: Heb_1:5.
(2) he is declared to be the object of worship by the angels, while they are employed merely as the messengers of God; Heb_1:6-7.
(3) he is addressed as God, and his throne is said to be forever and ever; Heb_1:8-9.
(4) he is addressed as immutable. He is declared to have laid the foundations of heaven and earth; and though they would perish, yet he would remain the same; Heb_1:10-12.
(5) none of the angels had been addressed in this manner, but they were employed in the subordinate work of ministering to the heirs of salvation; Heb_1:13-14.
From this train of reasoning, the inference is drawn in Heb_2:1-4, that we ought to give diligent heed to what had been spoken. The Great Author of the Christian scheme had special claims to be heard, and there was special danger in disregarding his message. The object of this chapter is to impress those to whom the Epistle was addressed with the high claims of the Founder of Christianity, and to show that it was superior in this respect to any other system.

Hebrews 2 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The main object of Heb. 2 is, to show that we should attend diligently to the things which were spoken by the Lord Jesus, and not suffer them to glide away from us. The apostle seems to have supposed that some might be inclined to disregard what was spoken by one of so humble appearance as the Lord Jesus; and that they would urge that the Old Testament had been given by the interposition of angels, and was therefore more worthy of attention. To meet this, he shows that important objects were accomplished by his becoming a man; and that even as a man, power and dignity had been conferred on him superior to that of the angels. In illustration of these points, the chapter contains the following subjects:
(1) An exhortation not to suffer the things which had been spoken to slip from the mind - or in other words, to attend to them diligently and carefully. The argument is, that if what was spoken by the angels under the old dispensation claimed attention, much more should that be regarded which was spoken by the Son of God; Heb_2:1-4.
(2) Jesus had been honored, as incarnate, in such a way as to show that he had a right to be heard, and that what he said should receive the profound attention of people; Heb_2:5-9. The world to come had not been put under the angels as it had been under him Heb_2:5; the general principle had been stated in the Scriptures that all things were put under man Heb_2:7-8, but this was fulfilled only in the Lord Jesus, who had been made a little lower than the angels, and when so made crowned with glory and honor; Heb_2:9. His appearance as a man, therefore, was in no way inconsistent with what had been said of his dignity, or his claim to be heard.
(3) the apostle then proceeds to show why he became a man, and why, though he was so exalted, he was subjected to so severe sufferings: and with this the chapter closes; Heb_2:10-18. It was because this was "proper" from the relation which he sustained to man. The argument is, that the Redeemer and his people were identified; that he did not come to save "angels," and that, therefore, there was a propriety in his assuming the nature of man, and being subjected to trials like those whom he came to save. In all things it behoved him to be made like his brethren, in order to redeem them, and in order to set them an example, and show them how to suffer. The humiliation, therefore, of the Redeemer; the fact that he appeared as a man, and that he was a sufferer, so far from being a reason why he should not be "heard," was rather an additional reason why we should attend to what he said. He had a claim to the right of being heard not only from his original dignity, but from the friendship which he has evinced for us in taking upon himself our nature, and suffering in our behalf.

Hebrews 3 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
In Hebrews 3, the Jews valued their religion on many accounts. One was that it had been given by the instrumentality of distinguished prophets sent from God, and by the medium of angels. The apostle, in the previous chapters, had shown that in these respects the Christian religion had the advantage over theirs, for it had been communicated by one who was superior to any of the prophets, and who had a rank above the angels. Next to this, they valued their religion because it had been imparted by a Law-giver so eminent as Moses - a man more distinguished than any other one on earth as a legislator. To him they looked with pride as the founder of their economy, and the medium through whom God had given them their special laws. Next to him, their high priest was the most important functionary in the nation. He was at the head of their religion, and served to distinguish it from all others, for they had no conception of any form of true religion unless the office of high priest was recognized. The apostle, therefore, proceeds to show that in these respects the Christian religion had lost nothing, but had the advantage altogether - that it was founded by one superior to Moses, and that Christ as high priest was superior by far to the high priest of the Jews.
This chapter Heb. 3, and to Heb_4:13, relates to the first of these points, and is occupied with showing the superiority of the Redeemer to Moses, and the consequences which result from the admission of that fact. It consists, therefore, of two parts.
I. The first is employed in showing that if the Author of the Christian religion is compared with Moses, he has the preference; Heb_3:1-6. Moses was indeed faithful, but it was "as a servant." Christ was faithful, "as a son." He had a rank as much above that of Moses as one who builds a house has over the house itself.
II. The consequences that resulted from that; Heb_3:7-19, and Heb_4:1-13. The general doctrine here is, that there would be special danger in apostatizing from the Christian religion - danger far superior to that which was threatened to the Israelites if they were disobedient to Moses. In illustrating this, the apostle is naturally led to a statement of the warnings against defection under Moses, and of the consequences of unbelief and rebellion there. He entreats them, therefore,
(1) not to harden their hearts against God, as the Israelites did, who were excluded from Canaan; Heb_3:7-11.
(2) to be on their guard against unbelief; Heb_2:12.
(3) to exhort one another constantly, and to stimulate one another, that they might not fall away; Heb_2:13.
(4) to hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, and not to provoke God as they did who came out of Egypt; Heb_3:14-19.
In the following chapter Heb_3:1-13 he completes the exhortation, by showing them that many who came out of Egypt were excluded from the promised land, and that there was equal danger now; and then proceeds with the comparison of Christ with the Jewish high priest, and extends that comparison through the remainder of the doctrinal part of the Epistle.

Hebrews 4 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
This chapter Heb. 4 comprises two parts. In the first Heb_4:1-13, the apostle pursues and completes the exhortation which he had commenced in the previous chapter, drawn from the comparison of the Saviour with Moses (see the analysis of Heb. 3); and in the second part Heb_4:14-16, he enters on the consideration of the character of Christ as a high priest, which is pursued to the end of the doctrinal part of the Epistle.
In the first part Heb_4:1-13, he describes more at length the character of the "rest" to which he had referred in the previous chapter Heb. 3. He shows Heb_4:1, that the promise of a "rest" yet remains, and that there is still danger, as there was formerly, of coming short of it, or of losing it. He affirms that such was the nature of that promise, that it is applicable to us as well as to those to whom it was first made, and that the promise of rest as really pertains to Christians now as it did to the Hebrews of old; Heb_4:2. The reason, he adds, Heb_4:2, why "they" did not enter into that rest was, that they had not faith. This he had established in the previous chapter, yer. 18. In Heb_4:3-6, he proceeds to demonstrate more at length that there is a rest remaining for those who believe. The great object in this part of the chapter is to prove that a "rest" remains for believers now; a rest of a spiritual character, and much more desirable than that of the land of Canaan; a rest to which Christians may look forward, and which there may be danger of losing.
Addressing Hebrew Christians, he, of course, appeals to the Old Testament, and refers to several places where the word "rest" occurs, and argues that those expressions are of such a character as to show that there remains a "rest" for Christians yet. It would have been easy to have "affirmed" this as a part of the Christian revelation, but throughout the Epistle he is bringing his illustrations from the Old Testament, and showing to the Hebrew Christians to whom he wrote that there were abundant considerations "in the Old Testament itself" to constitute an argument why they should adhere inviolably to the Christian religion. He says, therefore, Heb_4:4, that God himself had spoken of his "own rest" from his works; that when he had finished the work of creation he had instituted a "rest" which was characterized by the peace, and beauty, and order of the first Sabbath after the work of creation, when all was new, and lovely, and pure.
That might be called the "rest of God" - a beautiful emblem of what dwells around his throne in heaven. The meaning of this verse Heb_4:4 is, that the Bible spoke early of a "rest" which appertained to God himself. In Heb_4:5, he goes on to say that the prospect of entering into "his" rest was spoken of as a possible thing; that some were excluded, but that there was a place deserved to be called "the rest of God" - "My rest" - to which all may come. Of course, that rest must be of a spiritual nature, and must be different from that of the promised land. That "rest" the apostle "implies" it was possible to attain. He does not argue this point at length, but he assumes that God would not create a place of rest in vain; that it was made to be enjoyed; and that since those to whom it was at first offered were excluded, it must follow that it remained still; and as they were excluded by the want of "faith," it would follow also that it was reserved for those who "had" faith. Of course, therefore, it is offered to Christians now; Heb_4:6.
This view he proceeds to confirm by another consideration; Heb_4:7-8. It is that David, who lived nearly five hundred years after the land of promise had been occupied by the Israelites, spoke "then" of the possibility of entering into such a "rest." He says Psa_95:7, that, in his time, the people were called to hear the voice of God; that he warned them against the guilt and danger of hardening their hearts; that he reminded them that it was by that that the Israelites were excluded from the promised land, and that he said that the same thing would occur if those in his own time should harden their hearts. It followed, therefore, that even in the time of David there was a hope and promise of "rest;" and that there was something more intended for the true people of God than merely entering into the promised land. There must be something in advance of that; something that existed to the time of David - and it must be, therefore, a spiritual rest.
This, the apostle adds, Heb_4:8, is conclusive; for if Joshua had given them all the "rest" that was contemplated, then David would not have spoken as he did of the danger of being excluded from it in his time. He, therefore, Heb_4:9, comes to the conclusion that there must still remain a "rest" for the people of God, a "rest" to which they were invited, and which they were in danger of losing by unbelief. He adds Heb_4:10, that he who enters into that "rest" ceases from toil, as God did from his when he had finished the work of creation. Since, therefore, there is such a "rest," and since there is danger of coming short of it, the apostle urges them Heb_4:11, to make every effort to enter into it. He adds Heb_4:12-13, as a consideration to quicken them to earnest effort and to anxious care lest they should be deceived, and should fail of it, the fact that God cannot be deceived; that his word penetrates the heart, and that everything is naked and open before him. There should, therefore, be the most faithful investigation of the heart, lest they should fail of the grace of God, and lose the hoped-for rest.
In the second portion of the chapter Heb_4:14-16, he enters on the consideration of the character of Christ as High Priest, and says that since we have such an High Priest as he is, we should be encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace. We have encouragement to persevere from the fact that we have such a High Priest, and in all our conscious weakness and helplesness we may look to him for aid.

Hebrews 5 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
In this chapter Heb_5:1-14 the subject of the priestly office of Christ is continued and further illustrated. It had been introduced Heb_2:16, Heb_2:18; Heb_3:1; Heb_4:14-17. The Jews regarded the office of high priest as an essential feature in the true religion; and it became, therefore, of the highest importance to show that in the Christian system there was a High Priest every way equal to that of the Jews. In his rank; in his character; and in the sacrifice which he offered, he was more than equal to the Jewish high priest, and they who had forsaken Judaism and embraced Christianity had lost nothing in this respect by the change, and had gained much. It became necessary, therefore, in making out this point, to institute a comparison between the Jewish high priest and the Great Author of the Christian religion, and this comparison is pursued in this and the following chapters. The comparison in this chapter turns mainly on the "qualifications" for the office, and the question whether the Lord Jesus had those qualifications. The chapter embraces the following points:
I. The qualifications of a Jewish high priest; Heb_5:1-4. They are these.
(1) he must have been ordained or appointed by God for the purpose of offering gifts and sacrifices for sins; Heb_5:1.
(2) he must be tender and compassionate in his feelings, so that he can "sympathize" with those for whom he ministers; Heb_5:2.
(3) he must have an offering to bring to God, and be able to present a sacrifice alike for himself and for the people; Heb_5:3.
(4) he could not take this honor on himself, but must have evidence that he was called of God, as was Aaron; Heb_5:4.
II. An inquiry whether these qualifications were found in the Lord Jesus, the great High priest of the Christian dispensation; Heb_5:5-10. In considering this, the apostle specifies the following qualifications in him, corresponding to those which he had said were required by the Jewish high priest:
(1) He did not take this honor on himself, but was called directly by God, and after an order superior to the Aaronic priesthood - the order of Melchizedek; Heb_5:5-6, Heb_5:9-10.
(2) he was kind, tender, and compassionate, and showed that he was able to sympathize with those for whom he had undertaken the office. When on the earth he had evinced all the tenderness which could be desired in one who had come to pity and save mankind. He had a tender, sensitive, human nature. He felt deeply as a man, under the pressure of the great sufferings which he endured, and thus showed that he was abundantly qualified to sympathize with his people; Heb_5:7-8.
III. In Heb_5:10 the apostle had introduced, incidentally, a topic of great difficulty; and he adds Heb_5:11-14, that he had much to say on that subject, but that those whom he addressed were not qualified then to understand it. They ought to have been so far advanced in knowledge as to have been able to embrace the more abstruse and difficult points connected with the doctrines of Christianity. But they needed, he says, instruction even yet in the more simple elements of religion, and he feared that what he had to say of Melchizedek would be far above their comprehension. This point, therefore, he drops for the present, and in Heb. 6 states again, and at greater length, the danger of apostasy, and the importance of perseverance in endeavoring to comprehend the sublime mysteries of the Christian religion; and then Heb. 7 he resumes the subject of the comparison between Christ and Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
In Heb_5:10-11, the apostle had said that the Lord Jesus was called to the office of high priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that there were many things to be said of him which were not easy to be understood. They had not, he says, advanced as far in the knowledge of the true religion as might have been reasonably expected, but had rather gone back; Heb_5:12-14. The design of this chapter seems to be to warn them against the danger of going back entirely, and to encourage them to make the highest attainments possible in the knowledge of Christianity, and in the divine life. The apostle would keep them from entire apostasy, and would excite them to make all the advances which they possibly could make, and particularly he designs to prepare them to receive what he had yet to say about the higher doctrines of the Christian religion. In doing this he presents the following considerations:
(1) An exhortation to leave the elements or rudiments of the Christian religion, and to go on to the contemplation of the higher doctrines. The elements were the doctrines of repentance, faith, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. These entered into the very nature of Christianity. They were its first principles, and were indispensable. The higher doctrines related to other matters, which the apostle called them now to contemplate; Heb_6:1-3.
(2) he warns them, in the most solemn manner, against apostasy. He assures them that if they should apostatize, it would be impossible to renew them again. They could not fall away from grace and again be renewed; they could not, after having been Christians and then apostatizing, be recovered. Their fall in that case would be final and irrecoverable, for there was no other way by which they could be saved; and by rejecting the Christian scheme, they would reject the only plan by which they could ever be brought to heaven. By this solemn consideration, therefore, he warns them of the danger of going back from their exalted hopes, or of neglecting the opportunities which they had to advance to the knowledge of the higher truths of religion; Heb_6:4-6.
(3) this sentiment is illustrated Heb_6:7-8 by a striking and beautiful figure drawn from agriculture. The sentiment was, that they who did not improve their advantage, and grow in the knowledge of the gospel, but who should go back and apostatize, would inevitably be destroyed. They could not be renewed and saved. It will be says the apostle, as it is with the earth. That which receives the rain that falls, and that bears its proper increase for the use of man, partakes of the divine blessing. That which does not - which bears only thorns and briers - is rejected, and is nigh to cursing, and will be burned with fire.
(4) yet the apostle says, he hoped better things of them. They had, indeed, receded from what they had been. They had not made the advances which he says they might have done. But still, there was reason to hope that they would not wholly apostatize, and be cast off by God. They had shown that they had true religion, and he believed that God would not forget the evidence which they had furnished that they loved him; Heb_6:9-10.
(5) he expresses his earnest wish that they all would show the same diligence until they attained the full assurance of hope; Heb_6:11-12.
(6) to encourage them in this, he refers them to the solemn oath which God had taken, and his sacred covenant with them confirmed by an oath, in order that they might have true consolation, and be sustained in the temptations and trials of life. That hope was theirs. It was sure and steadfast. It entered into that within the veil; it had been confirmed by him who had entered heaven as the great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek; Heb_6:13-20. By such considerations he would guard them from the danger of apostasy; he would encourage them to diligence in the divine life; and he would seek to prepare them to welcome the more high and difficult doctrines of the Christian religion.

Hebrews 7 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
In Heb_5:10-11, the apostle had introduced the name of Melchizedek, and said that Christ was made an high priest after the same order as he. He added, that he had much to say of him, but that they were not in a state of mind then to receive or understand it. He then Heb_5:12-14 rebukes them for the little progress which they had made in Christian knowledge; exhorts them to go on and make higher attainments (Heb_6:1-3); warns them against the danger of apostasy Heb_7:4-8; and encourages them to hold fast their faith and hope to the end, in view of the covenant faithfulness of God, Heb_7:9-20; and now returns to the subject under discussion - "the high priesthood of Christ." His object is to show that he was superior to the Jewish high priest, and for this purpose he institutes the comparison between him and Melchizedek. The "argument" is the following:
I. That which is drawn from the exalted rank of Melchizedek, and the fact that the ancestor of the whole Jewish priesthood and community - Abraham - acknowledged him as his superior, and rendered tribute to him. But Christ was of the order of Melchizedek, and the apostle, therefore, infers his superiority to the Jewish priesthood; Heb_7:1-10. In the prosecution of this argument, the apostle dwells on the import of the name "Melchizedek" Heb_7:1-2; states the fact that he was without any known ancestry or descent, and that he stood alone on the pages of the sacred record, and was therefore worthy to be compared with the Son of God, who had a similar pre-eminence Heb_7:3; urges the consideration that even Abraham, the ancestor of the whole Jewish community and priesthood, paid tithes to him, and thus confessed his inferiority Heb_7:4; shows that he of whom a blessing was received must be superior to the one who receives it Heb_7:6-7; and that even Levi, the ancestor of the whole Levitical priesthood, might be said to have paid tithes in Abraham, and thus to have acknowledged his inferiority to Melchizedek, and consequently to the Son of God, who was of his "order;" Heb_7:9-10.
II. The apostle shows that "perfection" could not arise out of the Levitical priesthood, and that a priesthood that introduced a perfect state must be superior; Heb_7:11-19. In the prosecution of this argument, he states that perfection could not be arrived at under the Hebrew economy, and that there was need that a priesthood of another order should be formed Heb_7:11; that a change of the priesthood involved of necessity a change in the law or administration Heb_7:12; that the necessity of change of the law also followed from the fact that the great high priest was now of another tribe than that of Levi Heb_7:13-14; that the Christian High Priest was constituted not after a commandment pertaining to the flesh and liable to change, but "after the power of an endless life" - adapted to a life that was never to change or to end Heb_7:15-17; that consequently there was a disannulling of the commandment going before, because it was weak and unprofitable Heb_7:18; and that the old Law made "nothing" perfect, but that by the new arrangement a system of entire and eternal perfection was introduced; Heb_7:19.
III. The apostle shows the superiority of the priesthood of Christ to that of the Jewish system from the fact that the great High Priest of the Christian system was constituted with the solemnity of an oath; the Jewish priesthood was not; Heb_7:20-22. His priesthood, therefore, was as much more important and solemn as an oath is superior to a command; and his suretyship became as much more certain as an oath is superior to a simple promise; Heb_7:22.
IV. The superiority of the priesthood of Christ is further shown from the fact that under the former dispensation there were "many" priests; but here there was but "one." There, they lived but a brief period, and then gave way to their successors; but here there was no removal by death, there was no succession, there was an unchangeable priesthood; Heb_7:23-24. He infers, therefore Heb_7:25, that the Christian High Priest was able to save to the uttermost all that came to the Father by him, since he ever lived to make intercession.
V. The last argument is, that under the Levitical priesthood it was necessary for the priest to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. No such necessity, however, existed in regard to the High Priest of the Christian system. He was holy, harmless, and undefiled; he had no need to offer sacrifices for his own sins; and in this respect there was a vast superiority of the Christian priesthood over the Jewish; Heb_7:26-28. The force of these several arguments we shall be able to estimate as we advance in the exposition.

Hebrews 8 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
This chapter Heb_8:1-13 is a continuation of the argument which has been prosecuted in the previous chapters respecting the priesthood of Christ. The apostle had demonstrated that he was to be a priest, and that he was to be, not of the Levitical order, but of the order of Melchizedek. As a consequence he had proved that this involved a change of the Law appointing the priesthood, and that in respect to permanency, and happy moral influence, the priesthood of Christ far surpassed the Jewish. This thought he pursues in this chapter, and shows particularly that it involved a change in the nature of the covenant between God and his people. In the prosecution of this, he:
(1) states the sum or principal point of the whole matter under discussion - that the priesthood of Christ was real and permanent, while that of the Hebrew economy was typical, and was destined in its own nature to be temporary; Heb_8:1-3.
(2) there was a fitness and propriety in his being removed to heaven to perform the functions of his office there - since if he had remained on earth he could not have officiated as priest, that duty being by the Law of Moses entrusted to others pertaining to another tribe; Heb_8:4-5.
(3) Christ had obtained a more exalted ministry than the Jewish priests held, because he was the Mediator in a better covenant - a covenant that related rather to the heart than to external observances; Heb_8:6-13. That new covenant excelled the old in the following respects:
(a) It was established on better promises; Heb_8:6.
(b) It was not a covenant requiring mainly external observances, but pertained to the soul, and the Law of that covenant was written there; Heb_8:7-10.
(c) It was connected with the diffusion of the knowledge of the Lord among all classes from the highest to the lowest; Heb_8:11.
(d) The evidence of forgiveness might be made more clear than it was under the old dispensation, and the way in which sins are pardoned be much better understood; Heb_8:12. These considerations involved the consequence, also, which is stated in Heb_8:13, that the old covenant was of necessity about to vanish away.

Hebrews 9 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The general design of this chapter Heb. 9 is the same as the two preceding, to show that Christ as high priest is superior to the Jewish high priest. This the apostle had already shown to be true in regard to his rank, and to the dispensation of which he was the "mediator." He proceeds now to show that this was also true in reference to the efficacy of the sacrifice which he made; and in order to this, he gives an account of the ancient Jewish sacrifices, and compares them with that made by the Redeemer. The essential point is, that the former dispensation was mere shadow, type, or figure, and that the latter was real and efficacious. The chapter comprises, in illustration of this general idea, the following points:
(1) A description of the ancient tabernacle, and of the utensils that were in it; Heb_9:1-5.
(2) a description of the services in it, particularly of that performed by the high priest once a year; Heb_9:6-7.
(3) all this was typical and symbolical, and was a standing demonstration that the way into the most holy place in heaven was not yet fully revealed; Heb_9:8-10.
(4) Christ was now come - the substance of which that was the shadow; the real sacrifice of which that was the emblem; Heb_9:11-14. He pertained as a priest to a more perfect tabernacle Heb_9:11; he offered not the blood of bulls and goats, but his own blood Heb_9:12; with that blood he entered into the most holy place in heaven Heb_9:12; and if the blood of bulls and goats was admitted to be efficacious in putting away external uncleanness, it must be admitted that the blood of Christ had an efficacy in cleansing the conscience; Heb_9:13-14.
(5) his blood is efficacious not only in remitting present sins, but it extends in its efficacy even to past ages, and removes the sins of those who had worshipped God under the former covenant; Heb_9:15.
(6) the apostle then proceeds to show that it was necessary that the mediator of the new covenant should shed his own blood, and that the blood thus shed should be applied to purify those for whom the sacrifice was made; Heb_9:16-23. This he shows by the following considerations, namely:
(a) He argues it from the nature of a covenant or compact, showing that it was ratified only over dead sacrifices, and that of necessity the victim that was set apart to confirm or ratify it must be slain; see notes on Heb_9:16-17.
(b) The first covenant was confirmed or ratified by blood, and hence, it was necessary that, since the "patterns" of the heavenly things were sprinkled with blood, the heavenly things themselves should be purified with better sacrifices; Heb_9:18-23.
(7) the offering made by the Redeemer was to be made but once. This arose from the necessity of the case, since it could not be supposed that the mediator would suffer often, as the high priest went once every year into the most holy place. He had come and died once in the last dispensation of things on earth, and then had entered into heaven and could suffer no more; Heb_9:24-26.
(8) in the close of the chapter the apostle adverts to the fact that there was a remarkable resemblance, in one respect, between the death of Christ and the death of all people. It was appointed to them to die once, and but once, and so Christ died but once. As a man, it was in accordance with the universal condition of things that he should die once; and in accordance with the same condition of things it was proper that he should die but once. In like manner there was a resemblance or fitness in regard to what would occur after death. Man was to appear at the judgment. He was not to cease to be, but would stand hereafter at the bar of God. In like manner, Christ would again appear. He did not cease to exist when he expired, but would appear again that he might save his people; Heb_9:27-28.

Hebrews 10 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The general subject of this chapter Heb. 10 is the sacrifice which Christ has made for sin, and the consequences which flow from the fact, that he has made a sufficient atonement. In chapter IX. the apostle had shown that the Jewish rites were designed to be temporary and typical, and that the offerings which were made under that dispensation could never remove sin. In this chapter he shows that the true sacrifice had been made, by which sin could be pardoned, and that certain very important consequences followed from that fact. The subject of "sacrifice" was the most important part of the Jewish economy, and was also the essential thing in the Christian dispensation, and hence, it is that the apostle dwells upon it at so great length. The chapter embraces the following topics.
I. The apostle repeats what he had said before about the inefficacy of the sacrifices made under the Law; Heb_10:1-4. The Law was a mere shadow of good things to come, and the sacrifices which were made under it could never render those who offered them perfect. This was conclusively proved by the fact, that they continued constantly to be offered.
II. Since this was the fact in regard to those sacrifices, a better offering had been provided in the gospel by the Redeemer; Heb_10:5-10. A body had been prepared him for this work; and when God had said that he had no pleasure in the offerings under the Law, Christ had come and offered his body once for all, in order that an effectual atonement might be made for sin.
III. This sentiment the apostle further illustrates, by showing how this one great offering was connected with the forgiveness of sins; Heb_10:11-18. Under the Jewish dispensation, sacrifices were repeated every day; but under the Christian economy, when the sacrifice was once made, he who had offered it sat down forever on the right hand of God, for his great work was done. Having done this, he looked forward to the time when his work would have full effect, and when his enemies would be made his footstool. That this was to be the effect of the offering made by the Messiah, the apostle then shows from the Scriptures themselves, where it is said Jer_31:33-34, that under the gospel the laws of God would be written on the heart, and sin would be remembered no more. There must then be, the apostle inferred, some way by which this was to be secured, and this was by the great sacrifice on the cross, which had the effect of perfecting forever those who were sanctified.
IV. Since it was a fact that such an atonement had been made; that one great offering for sin had been presented to God which was never to be repeated, there were certain consequences which followed from that, which the apostle proceeds to state; Heb_10:19-25. They were these:
(a) the privilege of drawing near to God with full assurance of faith Heb_10:22;
(b) the duty of holding fast the profession of faith without wavering Heb_10:23;
(c) the duty of exhorting one another to fidelity and to good works Heb_10:24;
(d) the duty of assembling for public worship, since they had a High Priest in heaven, and might now draw near to God; Heb_10:25.
V. As a "reason" for fidelity in the divine life, and for embracing the offer of mercy now made through the one sacrifice on the cross, the apostle urges the consequence which "must" follow from the rejection of that atonement, and especially after having been made acquainted with the truth; Heb_10:26-31. The result, says he, must be certain destruction. If that was rejected, there could remain nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment for there was no other way of salvation. In support of this, the apostle refers to what was the effect, under the Law of Moses, of disobedience, and says that, under the greater light of the gospel, much more fearful results must follow.
VI. The chapter closes Heb_10:32-39 with an exhortation to fidelity and perseverance. The apostle reminds those to whom he wrote of what they had already endured; encourages them by the commendation of what they had already done, and especially by the kindness which they had shown to him; says that they had need only of patience, and that the time of their deliverance from all trial was not far off, for that he who was to come would come; says that it was their duty to live by faith, but that if any one drew back, God could have no pleasure in him. Having thus in the close of the chapter alluded to the subject of faith, he proceeds in the following chapter to illustrate its value at length. The object of the whole is to encourage Christians to make strenuous efforts for salvation; to guard them against the danger of apostasy; and to exhort them to bear their trials with patience, and with submission to the will of God.

Hebrews 11 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
In the close of the previous chapter Heb. 10, the apostle had incidentally made mention of faith Heb_10:38-39, and said that the just should live by faith. The object of the whole argument in this Epistle was to keep those to whom it was addressed from apostatizing from the Christian religion, and especially from relapsing again into Judaism. They were in the midst of trials, and were evidently suffering some form of persecution, the tendency of which was to expose them to the danger of relapsing. The indispensable means of securing them from apostasy was "faith," and with a view to show its efficacy in this respect, the apostle goes into an extended account of its nature and effects, occupying this entire chapter. As the persons whom he addressed had been Hebrews, and as the Old Testament contained an account of numerous instances of persons in substantially the same circumstances in which they were, the reference is made to the illustrious examples of the efficacy of faith in the Jewish history. The object is, to show that "faith," or confidence in the divine promises, has been in all ages the means of perseverance in the true religion, and consequently of salvation. In this chapter Heb. 11, therefore, the apostle first describes or defines the nature of faith Heb_11:1, and then illustrates its efficacy and power by reference to numerous instances; Heb. 11:2-40. In these illustrations he refers to the steady belief which we have that God made the worlds, and then to the examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab in particular, and then to numerous other examples without mentioning their names. The object is to show that there is power in faith to keep the mind and heart in the midst of trials, and that having these examples before them, those whom he addressed should continue to adhere steadfastly to the profession of the true religion.
Hebrews 12 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The apostle having illustrated the nature and power of faith in the previous chapter Heb. 11, proceeds in this chapter Heb. 12, to exhort those to whom he wrote to apply the same principles to their own case, and to urge them to manifest the same steady confidence in God and perseverance in their holy walk. For this purpose, he adverts to the following arguments or considerations:
I. He represents the ancient worthies who had so faithfully persevered and so gloriously triumphed, as witnesses of their strife in the Christian race, and as cheering them on to victory; Heb_11:1.
II. He appeals to the example of the Saviour; Heb_12:2-4. This was a more illustrious instance than any of those which had been adverted to, and is not referred to with theirs, but is adduced as deserving a separate and a special specification. The circumstances in his case which are an encouragement to perseverance in the Christian conflict, are these.
(1) he endured the cross, and is now exalted to the right hand of God.
(2) he bore the contradiction of sinners against himself, as those were called to do to whom Paul wrote.
(3) he went beyond them in his trials and temptations - beyond anything which they could have reason to apprehend - for he had "resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
III. He encourages them by showing that their trials would result in their own good, and particularly that the hand of a Father was in them; Heb_12:5-13. Particularly he urges:
(1) that God addressed those who suffered as his sons, and called on them not to receive with improper feeling the chastening of the Lord, Heb_12:5;
(2) that it was a general principle that the Lord chastened those whom he loved, and the fact that we received chastening was to be regarded as evidence that we are under his paternal care, and that he has not forsaken us, Heb_12:6-8;
(3) that they had been subject to the correction of earthly fathers and had learned to be submissive, and that there was much higher reason for submitting to God, Heb_12:9-10;
(4) and that however painful chastisement might be at present, yet it would ultimately produce important benefits; Heb_12:11. By these considerations he encourages them to bear their trials with patience, and to assume new courage in their efforts to live a Christian life; Heb_12:12-13.
IV. He exhorts them to perseverance and fidelity by the fact that if they should become remiss, and renounce their confidence in God, it would be impossible to retrieve what was lost; Heb_12:14-17. In illustrating this, he appeals to the case of Esau. For a trifling consideration, when in distress, he parted with an invaluable blessing. When it was gone, it was impossible to recover it. No consideration could induce a change, though he sought it earnestly with tears. So it would be with Christians, if, under the power of temptation, they should renounce their religion, and go back to their former state.
V. He urges them to perseverance by the nature of the dispensation under which they were, as compared with the one under which they had formerly been - the Jewish; Heb_12:18-29. Under the former, everything was suited to alarm and terrify the soul; Heb_12:18-21. The new dispensation was of a different character. It was adapted to encourage and to win the heart. The real Mount Zion - the city of the living God - the New Jerusalem - the company of the angels - the church of the first-born - the Judge of all - the great Mediator - to which they had come under the new dispensation, all these were suited to encourage the fainting heart, and to win the affections of the soul; Heb_12:22-24. Yet, in proportion to the sacredness and tenderness of these considerations, and to the light and privileges which they now enjoyed, would be their guilt if they should renounce their religion - for under this dispensation, as under the old, God was a consuming fire; Heb_12:25-29.

Hebrews 13 -
Analysis Of The Chapter
The closing chapter Heb. 13 of this Epistle is made up almost entirely of exhortations to the performance of various practical duties. The exhortations relate to the following points: brotherly love, Heb_13:1; hospitality, Heb_13:2; sympathy with those in bonds, Heb_13:3; fidelity in the marriage relation, Heb_13:4; contentment, Heb_13:5-6; submission to those in authority, Heb_13:7-8; stability in the doctrines of religion, Heb_13:9-15; benevolence, Heb_13:16; obedience to those entrusted with office, Heb_13:17; and special prayer for him who wrote this Epistle, Heb_13:18-19. The Epistle then closes with a beautiful and impressive benediction, Heb_13:20-21; with an entreaty that they would receive with favor what had been written, Heb_13:22; with the grateful announcement that Timothy, in whom they doubtless felt a great interest, was set at liberty, Heb_13:23; and with a salutation to all the saints, Heb_13:24-25.