designated by o-wnjpm. How can we escape with impunity, if we neglect
(aju\//<7av7-ee) them ? '-A/ieAr/o-avrty here means more than simple neg-
lect ; it is plainly emphatic in this connexion, and means, to treat
with utter disregard or contempt, such, namely, as would be implied
'Hrte apxt}v \aj3ovffa XaXelffSat, equivalent to kv apx*i \a\ri$eiffa,
which was at first declared or published. The Greeks often use the
phrase apx*)? \a/3wv, for, at first, or taking its rise, commencing its
origin. Toy Kvpiov, viz. Christ.
'YTTO rwv aKovcravTuv tig iffJaQ efieflaujjSr), was confirmed unto us by
those who heard [him,] i. e. the Lord, or, by those who heard [it,] i.e.
the gospel, o-wr^piW. 'EpsfiaiwSr) here means delivered or declared
with confirmation to us, i. e. Christians. So Theophylact, &7rop3/iv3^
t?e iipag /3/3cu'(iie /cat iriorwc, was propagated to us surely and faithfully .
Because the writer here says EIQ fyuae, some critics draw the conclusion
that Paul could not have been the author of this epistle, since he
received the gospel immediately from Christ himself, Gal. i. 12, and
not from those who heard the Saviour declare it. But who that reads
his writings with care, can fail to observe how often he employs Koivucns,
when addressing Christians ? Cicero says, in one of his orations, NOS
perdimus rempublicam. Shall we conclude that he did not write the
oration, because he did not himself destroy the republic ? See on >}/*<;,
under ver. 1, and also Introduction, 27, No. 17.
Ver. 4. SweTrifjiapTvpovvTOQ rov Seov arripeioig re /ecu repatri, God attest-
ing, being co-witness, viz. to the truth of what was preached, by
various wonderful events, S/j/moj/, as used often in the New Testa-
ment and in the Septuagint, means, any extraordinary sign, or mira-
culous event, designed to show the certainty that something which
had been promised or predicted should take place, or that a prophet
COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 4. 297
was what he professed to be. Tepac, portentum, prodigium, miracle,
has nearly the same meaning, and is very commonly joined with crripeloy,
in the New Testament. Both connected, mean, various extraordinary
events or prodigies, designed to confirm, establish, or render credible,
any prediction or declaration of Christ, or of his messengers. Heathen
writers sometimes employ both words in connexion ; e. g. ./Elian, Var.
Hist. XII. 57. The corresponding Hebrew phrase is, DMlSto J"fi/l&
signs and wonders, i. e. wonderful signs or proofs of any thing. Such
the people of God often required, and such were often given. See
Gen. xv. 818; xxiv. 1227. Judges vi. 17. 21. 3640. 2 Kings,
xix. 29. Isa. xxxviii. 7, 8 ; vii. 1416, et alibi. Comp. Matt. xii. 38.
Kcu TroiKiXaiQ SvvafjLtai, and various miraculous powers. Sometimes
fuvapie is put for miracle, as Matt. vii. 22 ; xi. 20, 21. 23, et alibi. But
as a^peiuig Kai TEpacri denote miraculous events, in our verse, I under-
stand cwajjieffi as referring here to the miraculous powers which were
imparted to the primitive teachers of the Christian religion. In such
a sense the word is employed, in Mark vi. 14. Acts vi. 8 ; x. 38. The
S^ptuagint do not employ this word to translate either JTItf or
DVIDID, but always use vripeiov and rlpara.
What follows, is connected with the phrase just explained; viz. KO.I
Tr^evjuaroc aytov /zeptoyzote, literally, and distributions of the Holy Spirit,
i. e. the imparting of divine influence; which refers particularly to the
species of this influence, which consisted in the power of working
miracles. See 1 Cor. xii. 6 11. Comp. also John vii. 39. Acts i. 5. 8 ;
ii. 4. 17, 18. 33 ; v. 32 ; viii. 1519 ; x. 4447; xix. 16.
TIoiKiXaig Swafj-effi .... /cat nepiffpolg, if considered as a Hen-
dyadis (ev ia Svolv,} may be thus rendered, various miraculous powers,
imparted by divine influence. But I rather prefer the rendering which
I have given it in the version, as pepiffpolg probably designates the addi-
tional gifts of the Spirit, other than miraculous power.
Kara rriv avrov SeXntnv, as it seemed good in his [God's] sight, as
he pleased ; or, as the Holy Spirit pleased, which last is favoured by
1 Cor. xii. 6 11.
The sum of the whole warning (ver. 1 4) is, " Beware that ye do
not slight the gospel, whose threatenings are more to be dreaded than
those of the law ; inasmuch as the gospel is a revelation of a higher
nature, and has been confirmed by more striking and more abundant
miracles, wrought by divine power."
298 COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 4.
The writer, after having thus stopped for a moment to warn his readers against the
consequences of defection from Christianity, returns to his subject, viz. the comparison
of Christ with the angels. Having established, by appeals to the Old Testament
(i. 5 14,) the superiority of the former over the latter, in several points of view; he
now proceeds to show, that the new or Christian dispensation was not ordered or
arranged (like the Mosaic one) by angels, but that the Son of Man, the Messiah, was,
in his human nature, placed at the head of it. Now, as the Jews, one and all, con-
ceded that the dispensation of the Messiah would be of a higher order than that of
Moses, proof that Jesus was the sole mediator or head of the new dispensation, and
that angels were not employed as mediators or internuntii in it, would satisfy them
that Jesus was superior to the angels ; since the place which he holds in the new
economy, is higher than that which they had under the old, because the new economy
itself is of a higher nature than the old. At the same time, an objection which a Jew,
weak in Christian faith and strong in his attachment to the Mosaic institutions, would
very naturally feel, is met, and tacitly answered by the apostle, in what follows. The
unbelieving Jews, doubtless, urged upon those who professed an attachment to Chris,
tianity, the seeming absurdity of renouncing their subjection to a dispensation of which
angels were the mediators, and of acknowledging a subjection to one of which the professed
head and mediator appeared in our nature. The history of the objections made by the
unbelieving Jews, to the claims of Jesus as being the Son of God (John x. 30 39, et
alibi,) shows how very repulsive it was to their feelings, that one to all appearance like
a man, and made up of flesh and blood in the same manner as themselves, should
advance a claim to the exalted honours of a superior and divine nature. The sects of
the Nazarenes and Ebionites, which arose even in the apostolic age, from professed
Jewish Christians in Palestine, show how prone the Jewish Christians were, to feel
doubts and difficulties about the claims of Jesus to a nature higher than the human,
and to which divine honours were due.
No wonder, then, that the apostle found it necessary to meet, in our epistle, those
doubts and difficulties with regard to the superior nature of the Christian dispensation,
which were urged upon the minds of Jewish converts by the unbelieving Jews, who
regarded Christ as a mere man. We shall see, however, that our author disposes of
this difficulty, so as to further the great purpose of his general argument.
He concedes the fact entirely, that Jesus had a nature truly and properly human,
ver . 6 18. But instead of granting that this proves the new dispensation to be
inferior to that of Moses, he proceeds to adduce evidence from the Old Testament
Scriptures, to show that man, or the human nature in the person of the Messiah, should
be made Lord of the universe. Consequently, in this nature, Jesus the Messiah is
superior to the angels. Of course, the possession by Jesus of a nature truly and pro-
perly human, does not at all prove either his inferiority, or the inferiority of the dispen-
sation of which he is the head (ver. 69;) which meets an objection strongly urged
upon the Hebrew Christians by their unbelieving brethren.
Nay, more ; it was becoming that God should exalt Jesus, in consequence of his
obedience unto death ; a death necessary for the salvation of Jew and Gentile, ver. 9, 10.
To suffer this death, he must needs take on him a nature like ours ; and, as his object
COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 5, 6. 299
was the salvation of men (and not of angelic beings,) so he participated in the nature of
men, in order that by experience he might know their sufferings, temptations, and
trials, and thus be prepared, in a peculiar manner and in their own nature, to be com-
passionate, faithful, and ready to succour them, ver. 11 18.
The sum of the whole is : " The possession of a human nature by Jesus, is far from
being a reason, why the ancient dispensation (of which angels were the internuntii) is
preferable to the new one; for (1.) This very nature is exalted far above the angels.
(2.) Without participating in this nature, Jesus could not have made expiation for sin
by his death. And (3.) The possession of such a nature did contribute, in a peculiar
and endearing manner, to constitute him such a Saviour as men could approach with
the greatest boldness and confidence, in all their wants and all their woes."
Such appears to be the course of reasoning and thought, in Heb. ii. The words and
phrases remain to be explained.
Ver. 5. Tfjv olKovfj-ivnv TYIV fj.\\ovffav, equivalent to 6 aiu)i> 6
i. e. the Christian dispensation, the world as it will be in future, 6
i. e. the world under the reign of Christ. See Wahl, on the word
The addition of the writer, nepl ?IQ \a\ovpev, shows that such is the sense
of the phrase; for it is Christianity, to which he had just been urging
the Hebrews to pay the strictest regard.
Ver. 6. AiepapTvparo 2e TTOV rig, one in a certain place, i. e. passage
of Scripture, bears this testimony. The writer speaks to those who were
supposed to be familiar with the Jewish Scriptures, and who needed only
a reference to them, by quoting some of the words which any passage
contained, in order that they might be found. For a Hebrew to acknow-
ledge the authority of his own Scriptures, might be expected as a matter
of course. The passage quoted here in Ps. viii. 4 6, exactly according
to the version of the LXX.
Tt 0rtv a^owTroe, on juijuvT/flrKTj ovTov ; what is man, that thou
shouldest kindly remember him ? The secondary sense of //ijuj'j/ox-w is,
to remember with affection, to treat with kindness. So the Heb. "13?;
and so p/*'j}<r<re<r$, in Heb xiii. 3.
*H vlog arSpwTTov, ori iTriffKETrry avrov, or the son of man that thou
shouldest regard him ! The phrase vloc avSpwirov, is equivalent to
avjOW7Toe : just as in Hebrew, DIN ]3- is equivalent to DTN. The sub-
ject is evidently the same as in the preceding clause, and VWG arSpuvov
is employed merely for the sake of giving variety to the mode of expres-
sion. 'ETriox-eVrojucu, to visit, is usually, to inspect, or look upon favour-
ably, to watch over one for his good, to succour him, to assist him.
See Matt. xxv. 36. Luke i. 68. James i. 27. In the New Testament, it
is used only in a sense which designates inspecting with an eye of favour.
300 COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 7.
But in the Septuagint it is also used for, visiting in order to punish ; as
Js the Hebrew "IpS, e. g. Ex. xxxii. 34 ; xxxiv7, et alibi. Our English
word regard (taken in a good sense,) answers well to eTnaKETrrofjLai. The
classical use of the word sometimes, though rarely, accords with the
sense in which it is here employed.
Ver. 7. 'HXarrwo-ae avrov fipaxy n Trap ayye'Xovg, thou hast made him
but little inferior to the angels. TLapa here means, in comparison with ;
as in ch. i. 4, Trap avrovg. Epa^y TI may signify either a little time, or a
little in respect to degree or rank : in which last case, it would be equi-
valent here to our English word somewhat. In the Septuagint it is
employed in both these senses ; as is also the Hebrew word ZD^ft which,
is here rendered by fipax" Tlf ' n ^ s - v ^ 6, ZD^D seems pretty plainly
to refer to inferiority of rank or station, and not to time. But in our
text, most recent commentators have maintained that it refers to time ;
and consequently, that the apostle has merely accommodated the passage
in Ps. viii. to an expression of his own views. But such a mode of inter-
pretation is, at least, unnecessary here. The object which the writer of
our epistle has in view, is not to prove how little time Christ appeared in
our nature ; but that, although he did possess a nature truly human, still,
in this nature he was exalted above the angels. "HXarrwo-a? CLVTOV Ppa\v
TI Trap ayye'Xove, then, simply designates the condition of man, as being in
itself but little inferior to that of the angels. Man is made in the image
of God, Gen. i. 26, 27 ; ix. 6. It is plainly the dignity of man which the
Psalmist intends to describe, when he says, DTf?ND D^Q ^IPDJ^V
To such a view of his design, the context of this passage in Ps. viii.
leads us. The Psalmist looks abroad, and surveys the heavens in all
their splendour and glory, and then, with deep sensations of his own
comparative insignificance, he exclaims, " What is man! that thou
shouldest be mindful of him ! or the son of man, that thou shouldest
regard him ! Yet, [ \ but, yet} thou hast made him but little inferior
(ZD^D VODrrrV)^ to the angels, thou hast crowned him," &c. The
nature of the case, and the nature of poetic parallelism, here require
such an interpretation of the passage in the original Psalm.
But the very same interpretation of it is altogether apposite to the
purpose of the writer, in Heb. ii. 1. What is his design? To prove
.that Christ, in his human nature, is exalted above the angels. How does
he undertake to prove this ? First, by showing that this nature itself is
made but little inferior to that of the angels, r/Xarrw<ra O.VTOV fipaxy TI nap
; and next, that it has been exalted to the empire of the world
COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 8. 301
" Thou hast crov/ned him with glory and honour, and set him over the
work of thy hands."
But suppose, now, that we should render flpa^v n, for a little while ;
what object, which the writer designs to accomplish, is accomplished by
such an assertion ? It would not contain any proof of the dignity of
Christ in his human nature, but merely of temporary inferiority, i. e.
inferiority during the time of his incarnation. Clearly it is not the
present object of the writer to prove this. Much more to the purpose
does he appear to reason, when we understand him as using (3paxv n,
in the same sense as ZOj^D is used by the Psalmist. The passage thus
understood, renders the vindications (attempted by many) of the
liberties, which the writer is alleged to have taken with Ps. viii. 6, quite
ayye'Xove, in the Hebrew DVl^ND. On the subject of rendering
pN, ayye'Xoi, see on ch. i. 6. If we insist that the usual meaning
of the Hebrew word Elohim should be retained, the argument would be
still stronger, to prove the dignity of the Messiah in his human nature.
Thou hast made him but little inferior to Elohim, would represent him
at least, as i<rayyf\oe, if not above, the angels. See Gen. i. 26, 27, from
which the language here, and in the sequel, appears to be borrowed.
But how could the apostle use Trap dyyeXoue, as conveying the sense
of DVt^ND? In answer to this, we may say, (1.) It conveys no mean-
ing that is untrue. If man is but little below Elohim, surely he is not
much inferior to the angels. (2.) As angels are here compared by the
writer with man, or rather, the angelic with the human nature in the
person of the Saviour, the passage, as it stands in the Septuagint, and
as the apostle has quoted it, is apposite to his purpose ; although it
claims, in fact, less for the argument, than would be claimed, by
insisting that the word DVPN should be interpreted as usual. As the
writer was addressing those who used the Septuagint version of the
Scriptures, nothing could be more natural than to quote that version
as it should, unless it conveyed an idea that was essentially erroneous.
This is just what we do, every day, with our English version of the
Scriptures, without suspecting that we are violating any rule of pro-
Besides the LXX. the Chaldee has rendered DTONO by ^D^DO,
i. e. Trap ayyt'Xoue. With this rendering Aben Ezra agrees ; as do
Mendelsohn, Michaelis, Dathe, and others. But, as the writer seems
to refer, in Ps, viii. 69, to Gen. i. 2628, the* probability that
302 COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 8.
rpN in Ps. viii. 6, means, God, i. e. that the author of the Psalm
originally meant to convey this idea when he used it, is pretty strong.
Still the apostle, by using the version of the LXX, Trap ayyiXovQ, has,
as I have already said, assumed less in the argument, than the original
would have given him ; and at the same time, he has taken a version,
which in its present shape is exactly apposite to his purpose, i. e. to
show, that if a comparison of Christ with the angels be made, it will
be seen, that during his humiliation he was but little inferior to them,
while in his exaltation in the human nature, he is far above them.
Aor; Kal Tipy iffTe^avwffag avrov, thou hast crowned him with glory
and honour, or, with exalted honour. Aoj/ Kal rt/zf? are nearly equiva-
lent or synonymous ; and two synonymous nouns, thus constructed,
are expressive of intensity, -agreeably to the well-known usage of the
Hebrew language, from which this idiom is borrowed. In the original,
'liTlZSyn "HIT) "TOD"), which is very literally rendered in the Greek.
; T T; T ;
But what is the exalted honour conferred upon the human nature of
Jesus ? Kai Kariarr^ffaq avrov eVt ra tpya T&V ytipuv aov, thou hast set
him over the works of thy hands, i. e. thou hast given him dominion
over the creation. "Epya TWV x t P^ t ' ffov means simply, the works which
thou hast made, i. e. thy works. The form of expression is borrowed
from the mode of human operations, in which hands are the most con-
spicuous instrument. KaSiffrnpi, sisto, colloco, statuo. It should be
noted, however, that this clause is omitted in some Codices of good
authority; such as B. D. and several others.
Ver. 8. Tlavra virira^aQ vTro/car&j rwf 7rowj> avrov, thou hast sub-
jected all things to him, i. e. given him universal dominion. The
phrase, to put under one's feet, denotes, to put in a state of complete,
entire subjection. See EXCURSUS IX.
The writer proceeds to comment on the quotation just made. 'Ev
yap T(f vrrora^at avrv TO. Travra, ovc^tV atyiJKEv avroj avvTroraKTor, i. e. the
expression is one of universality, it makes no exception, but only God
himself; comp. 1 Cor. xv. 27.
NDj> $ oviru) opwfjiev aurw ra TTO.VTCL vTroTzraypeva, at present, indeed,
we do not see all things yet subjected to him. "^Troreraypeva, sub-
ject to his ordering, arrangement or disposal. In other words, ' This
prophecy of the Psalmist is not, as yet, wholly fulfilled; but so
much of it has been accomplished, that we may regard it as a
pledge, that a fulfilment of the rest will certainly follow.* So the
COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 9. 303
Ver. 9. Tov tie Aoa^u rt . . . ytvirr/rai SCLVOLTOV, but we see Jesus, who
was made but little inferior to the angels, crowned with glory and
honour on, account of the suffering of death, after that he had, by
the grace of God, tasted of death for all, i. e. for Jew and Gentile.
So I understand this much controverted and somewhat difficult pas-
sage. Two objections against the superiority of Christ over angels,
were very naturally urged by the unbelieving Jews upon the believing
ones. (1.) Christ was a man. (2.) He suffered an ignominious death.
To the first, the apostle replied in the quotation which precedes, and on
which he is commenting. But in doing this, he also suggests the con-
sideration, that the death of Jesus, so far from proving his condition to
be inferior to that of the angels, was immediately connected with his
exaltation to glory, and with the salvation of the world.
It would be tedious to recount all the various interpretations which
have been given to particular parts of the ninth verse. I limit myself
merely to stating the reasons of the interpretation which I have given.
KOL Ti/jLy e*<t>avti>jjivov t crowned with the highest honour, Sta TO
TOV Oavarov, on account of his suffering death. See the same
sentiment in Phil. ii. 8 11 ; Heb. xii. 2. Compare John xvii. 4, 5;
Heb. v. 79 ; Eph. i. 2023 ; Rev. iii. 21.
"OTTWC, the great mass of commentators have translated, ut, cum in
Jinem ut, unde sequitur ut, &c. But how was Christ crowned with glory
and honour, that he might taste death ? To avoid this difficulty, most
of them transpose the clause, OTTWQ x"*P lTl > K - r ' ^* so as * c o nne ct it with
the first clause of the verse, and translate thus, Jesus, made for a little
time lower than the angels, in order that [ut, ut sic] he might taste of
death, &c. But the apostle's object here, is not to show simply that
Jesus possessed a nature in which he might taste of death ; but that the
suffering of death in it, (a fact conceded by all,) is no reason why he
should be deemed inferior to the angels. Consequently the turn given
to the passage, by the above transposition and explanation, is inapposite
to the purpose of the writer.
That OTTWC generally means, that, so that, in order that, &c. ; parti-
cularly, that it has this meaning in most instances where it occurs in the
New Testament, there can be no reasonable doubt. But oVwe also
means, cum, quando, postquam, when, after, after that. So it means,
plainly, in Acts iii. 19, although Wahl has overlooked the passage. So
also in Herod, i. 17. Aristoph. Nub. 61. Soph. (Edip. Col. 1638.
Homer. II. xn. 208. Odys. in. 373; xxn. 22. Eurip. Phcenis. 1155.
334 COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 9.
1464. 'rtiis sense also Hoogeveen, Zeunius, Ernesti, Schleusner, and
Schneider, assign to it. "OTTWC is construed, more usually, with the
future indicative, or with the subjunctive first or second aorist, in case
these tenses are found in any verb. In the instances before us, it is
followed by -/ivffrjrat, in the subjunctive first aorist, middle voice. It may
then be rendered by the past time, (as I have translated it ;) just as in
the cases where the formula oirwe TrXrjpw^ occurs, it is often rendered,
or should be rendered, so that there was an accomplishment. The only
difference in the latter case is, that the voice is passive ; which, how-
ever, does not affect the question about the mode of rendering the
This method of interpreting the verse frees us from the very great
embarrassments, which are presented by most of the others ; and the
sentiment becomes plain and apposite. " Jesus did indeed take on him
our nature, and suffer in it; but his sufferings were the means of
advancing him to supreme dignity, after he had by them procured
salvation for the human race, v-n-ep TTCLVTOQ. So long, then, as the highest
glory was consequent upon the sufferings of Jesus, and the salvation
of Jew and Gentile was accomplished by it, surely the death of Christ
can never prove that he is inferior to the angels." In this way, all the
reasoning of the writer seems to be apposite to his purpose.
Xapirt Qtov means, by the goodness, kindness, mercy of God. "Ynep
TTCLVTOQ means, all men without distinction, i. e. both Jew and Gentile.
The same view is often given of the death of Christ. See John iii.
14 17; iv. 42; xii. 32. 1 John ii. 2 ; iv. 14. 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4. Tit. ii.
11. 2 Pet. iii. 7. Compare Rom. iii. 29, 30 ; x. 11 13. In all these
and the like cases, the words all, and all men, evidently mean, Jew and
Gentile. They are opposed to the Jewish idea, that the Messiah was
connected appropriately and exclusively with the Jews, and that the
blessings of the kingdom were appropriately, if not exclusively, theirs.
The sacred writers mean to declare, by such expressions, that Christ died
really and truly as well, and as much, for the Gentiles as for the Jews ;
that there is no difference at all in regard to the privileges of any one
who may belong to his kingdom ; and that all men, without exception,
have equal and free access to it. But the considerate interpreter, who
understands . the nature of this idiom, will never think of seeking, in
expressions of this kind, proof of the final salvation of every individual
of the human race. Nor do they, when strictly scanned by the usiis
loquendi of the New Testament, decide directly against the views of those
COMMENTARY ON HEB. II. 10. 305
who advocate what is called a particular redemption. The question, in
all these phrases, evidently respects the offer of salvation, the opportunity