Testament is it expressly mentioned. It is implied, however, in Exod.
xix. 16, where it is said, that " all the people in the camp trembled;"
and Moses was with them, compare ch. v. 14. The fear mentioned
Deut. ix. 19, was on a different occasion, though this passage has often
been adduced as supporting the affirmation now in question. The par-
ticular history, to which our author here alludes, was doubtless a matter
of tradition among the Jews of his day ; marks of which are still extant,
in the Rabbinical writings. See Wetstein, on Gal. iii. 19. L. Cappell,
on Heb. xii. 21. 'E*:0o/3oe ct/u iccu tVrpo/ioc, means, / am greatly afraid.
To <pavTa6[jLvov, (the neuter participle being used like a neuter
adjective,) is to be construed as an abstract noun, sc. species, appear-
ance, sight. This idiom is very common in the writings of Paul.
Ver. 22. Next follows the antithesis to all this scene of terror which
accompanied the introduction of the ancient law. Worshippers, under
the new dispensation, approach a scene of a very different nature. 'A\\a
irpoff\ri\v$aT Siufv, but ye are come to Mount Zion. Not the literal
Mount Zion, but the figurative, i. e. heavenly one. This is made plain, by
the additional description which follows. Kcu iroXei Qeov wvroe, 'I;pou-
(ra\>//Lt sTTovpaviy, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jeru-
salem. The epithet iirovpavib) here determines, of course, that a spiritual
Jerusalem, a heavenly city, is meant. Compare Heb. xi. 14 16; ch.
xii. 28; xiii. 14. Gal. iv. 26. Rev. iii. 12; ch. xxi. 2. 10.
Kai jjivptaffiv, ayye'Xwv Travnyvpti, and to myriads, the joyful company
of angels. So, beyond all reasonable doubt, this clause is to be pointed,
and translated ; for iravriyvpiQ is not to be joined (as some later critics
have joined it) with eKfcXijori^, K. r. \. The structure of the whole paragraph
demonstrates this ; for each separate clause of it, (in ver. 18, 19, 22 24)
is commenced by mi, and continued (where any addition is made to it.)
by nouns in apposition, without any conjunctive particle before them.
E. g. KOI TroXet . . . 'IrjpovffaXrjp iirovpavla)' KOI Kpt-r], 0e&5 Trcirrwr, &C.
The same construction, beyond all reasonable doubt, is to be adopted in
the clause under examination. Dr. Kriapp has arranged it in this
manner, in his able dissertation on Heb. xii. 18 24, in his Scripta varii
Mi/pici<Ti, literally, myriads, i. e. ten thousands, used by the Greeks
to signify a great and indefinite number. In respect to the number of
angels, compare Rev. v. 11. Matt. xxvi. 53. Luke ii. 13. Dan. vii. 10.
HavriyvpiQ, among the Greeks, meant an assembly of men convened on
a joyous and solemn occasion ; e. g. on the occasions of their public
516 COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 23.
feasts, &c. The mention of such an assembly of angels, shows that
the writer intends to describe the objects of the invisible world, as seen
with the eye of faith ; not things palpable, not the objects of sense,
He has, moreover, a design to contrast this joyful, solemn assembly of
the angels, with that awful one which was present at the giving of
the law upon Sinai. In respect to the presence of angels on that
occasion, compare Ps. Ixviii. 17. [18.] Deut. xxiii. 2. (Septuagint,)
Joseph. Antiq. XV. 3. 5. Gal. iii. 19. Acts vii. 53. Heb. ii. 2. with the
Note upon it.
Our English version joins fivpicuri with ayye'Xwy, and renders, " to an
innumerable company of angels." It also joins -rrav/jyvjoei with t/c/cXrj-r
triy, and renders, " to the general assembly and church," &c. But the
latter is not permitted, on account of the manner in which the author
has constructed the whole of his enumeration of particulars, in ver.
18, 19. 22, 23, which, as I have already observed, are each separated
from the preceding one, by KOI. If it be said, that " Travqyvpcc, in
order to be constructed with dyyc'Xaii/, ought to precede it," the answer
is, that in ver. 19, o-aXTriyyoc tfxy is constructed in the same manner as
ayyi\ii)v iravq-yvpsi here ; as is also StaSt'iKrjc peffiry in ver. 24. The
Greek admits no other correct grammatical mode of construction but
that which is given in the translation.
Ver. 23. Kcu eKxXtytfty . . . iv ovpayolg, and to the assembly of the
first-bom enrolled in heaven. 'Ejc/cXr/on'a, C07iventus, a concourse or
assembly of people. It is not a mere ecclesiastical word, but desig-
nates, by usage, any kind of assembly sacred or civil. Here it desig-
nates the sacred assembly of the upper world. Ilpwronkwy must not
be literally understood here, but figuratively. Among the Hebrews,
primogeniture conferred distinguished rights and privileges. Hence,
figuratively taken, Trpwrorojcoc means, any one who enjoys distinguished
rights and privileges, whether he is first-born in a literal respect, or
not. Thus Israel, as beloved of God and highly valued, is called his
jfirst-born, Exod. iv. 22. In like manner, Ephraim is named, Jer.
xxxi. 9. So the son of Sirach (ch. xxxvi. 12,) calls Israel. The same
appellation of endearment is given to the predicted Messiah, in Ps.
Ixxxix. 27. In a similar sense, aTrap-^ is used in James i. 18. I under-
stand it here of those who had been most distinguished for piety and
usefulness ; such as patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, &c. Storr
understands it as referring to the angels, and as descriptive of them ;
but without any good support from the usus loguendi of Scripture.
COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 23. 517
v, enrolled, a word employed by the Greeks to sig-
nify the inscribing of a person's name in a record, as a citizen, as a
free man entitled to all the rights of citizenship. It marks, here,
citizenship in the New Jerusalem, or the heavenly Zion. The tKK\r]aia.
of such, is that focXr?<rui with which Christians are to mingle, in the
full and final enjoyment of their privileges. In a sense somewhat
different to this, saints, while on earth, are spoken of as having their
names written (yeypayujueva iypatyr), not aTroyeypaju/itva) in the book of
life : e. g. Luke x. 20, Phil. iv. 3. Rev. iii. 5 ; ch. xiii. 8 ; xvii. 8 ;
xx. 15 ; xxi. 27 ; xxii. 19. Dr. Knapp interprets our text, as speak-
ing of the saints on earth. But he appears not to have noticed the
difference of the phraseology employed in reference to such ; and cer-
tain it is, that the whole tenor of our passage has respect only to the
heavenly city and assembly. To be enrolled in heaven, is to be entitled
to all the privileges of a member of the heavenly city.
Kcu KpiTrj Qeo) KarTuv, and to the judge, the God of all. Kpirrj
designates Him before whose tribunal all must appear, that enter a
future world. But to Christians he is a merciful, not a condemning
judge. So means the phrase God of all, viz. of all angels, and of all
TrpwroroATwj' just mentioned, and (by implication) of all saints. To say,
" he is their God," means to affirm, that he acknowledges them with
favour and approbation. Compare Eph. iv. 6. Rom. iii. 29. Heb.
viii. 10 ; ch. xi. 16. Acts vii. 32. Exod. iii. 6. Zech. viii. 8. Rev.
xxi. 37. In the same sense, I apprehend, is 6ew iravrw to be under-
stood in our verse ; and then all difficulty ceases. In entering a future
world, Christians must, indeed, present themselves before the tribunal
of the eternal Judge ; but he is not a Judge severe and rigid ; he is
in an appropriate sense, their God ; he will regard them with favour,
he will treat them with kindness. Thus all is inviting, with respect
to the heavenly Zion. The transposition made by our English version,
to God the judge of all, is against the arrangement of the text, and
fails to give the appropriate sense of the words. The meaning of
o ETTI iravTwv Qeos, Rom. ix. 5, is different from Qeog TTCUVTWV here,
the former being " supreme God."
Kcu irvtvpaffi diKaiajv TereXetwfilywv, and to the spirits of the just
made perfect, i. e. exalted to a state of final reward. This differs from
tKKXrjffiq, TrpwroTOKWf aTroyeypajujufywv iv ovpavotg, in that this latter
phrase designates the more conspicuous and exalted part of the church
518 COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 24.
invisible, (irporoTOKwv,} such as patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs,
&c. ; while Trveuftao-i SiKaiwv embraces all saints, " of every kindred,
and tongue, and people, and nation." See a like distinction in the
heavenly world adverted to in Rev. iv. 4. That the elders, mentioned
in Rev. iv. 4, were of those redeemed from among men, is proved by
Rev. v. 8, 9. Then follows the Trvevpara &KCUWV rtYeXeiw^va, in Rev.
v. 13. The passage in our verse, understood in view of this, is intel-
ligible, and needs none of the varying and endless conjectures which
have been made respecting it ; nor emendations of the text that have
TtreXeiwuerwr, i. e having completed their probation, and arrived at
their mature state, viz. a final state of glory. See on Heb. ii. 10.
Ver. 24. Kcu SiaSjjKrjQ .... 'Ir/o-oi;, and to the mediator of the
new covenant, Jesus. See on ch. viii. 6 ; vii. 22, where the same idea
Kcu a'iuaTt .... "A/3tX, and to the blood of sprinkling which
speaketh better [things] than [the blood of] Abel. Respecting the
blood of Christ offered in the eternal sanctuary, see Heb. ix. 11 14,
23. In respect to sprinkling, see ch. ix. 13. 19. Figuratively or
spiritually, no doubt, this is to be understood. Sprinkled with Jesus'
blood, the worshippers in the sanctuary above may approach the
presence of God, i. e. the inner sanctuary, confident of a gracious
KpeiTrov \a\ovvri, instead of KpeirTova XaXovvn, for the weight of
authority is, beyond all doubt, on the side of Kpiirrov. Literally rendered,
KptiTTov would be, something better. But this is less grateful to the
English ear than the form of expression in the version. The meaning
of the phrase seems to me quite simple and easy. The blood of Christ
proclaims pardon and peace ; the blood of Abel cried to God from
the ground (Gen. iv. 10.) for the infliction of punishment upon his
murderer. Uapa rov (not ro)"A/37X, is an elliptical expression, for
Trapa ro cujua rov "A/3^X. That the verb XaXet is understood, in order
to complete the grammatical sense of the phrase, is quite plain. The
form of the sentence, however, must be varied in order to express this
verb. It would be thus, fy ro alua TOV "A/3?X XaXct.
Such is the contrast between the former and latter dispensation.
There, all is awful, terrible, and threatening ; here, all is alluring,
xgracious, and animating. Who, now, can adhere to the former, and
COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 25, 26. 519
renounce the latter ? Such is the nature of the argument presented by
the writer. He next proceeds to warn the Hebrews, in the most solemn
and affectionate manner, against a renunciation of their Christian faith
Ver. 25. EXe-ntre, p.y. . .XaXovvra, take heed that ye turn not away
from him who addresses you. liapaireopai means, to deprecate, to
decline, to endeavour to avoid, aversari, respuere, repudiare. But who
is TOV XaXovvTo. ? The sequel of the verse clearly shows that Christ is
meant, who came from heaven to instruct men, and warn them of their
danger, or rather (with reference to the preceding verse) " who speaks
to men by his blood."
To give efficacy to this warning, he adds an example. Et yap eiccci/oe . . .
Xpr)pariovTci, for if they did not escape [punishment,] who rejected him
that warned them upon earth. That after e^vyov, either $IK}JV, aTrwXeiav,
or some such word, is to be supplied by the mind of the reader, is plain
from the nature of the subject, and of the context. But who is rov
Xpr)fjLa.TiovTa ? Moses, I answer. The two dispensations are here com-
pared, in respect to the penalty to be inflicted on the contemptuous and
refractory. The legislator, or head of each dispensation, is introduced,
as the person who addresses the laws or warnings of God to men. See
the same sentiment in Heb. x. 28, 29.
IIoXXw fjiuXXoy .... airoffrpefpofjiErot, much more shall we [not escape,]
if we turn away from him [who warns us] from heaven. See a similar
commination in ch. ii. 1 3 ; x. 28, 29. That xptyt<movra is implied
after TQV, results from common grammatical usage. 'ATT' ovpav&v is
meant to represent, either that Christ came from heaven and warned
them, or that being in heaven he now warns them, viz. by his messengers.
It is possible, however, that God is here meant by the writer, as he who
warns them. But the antithesis between the head of the old dispensa-
tion and the new, in the passage, hardly admits of this construction.
The ellipses of ov fav&fjieSa after fyueTc , is sufficiently plain from the
nature of the sentence.
Ver. 26. Ov / tywvn .... TOTE, whose voice then shook the earth ; viz.
when, as with the sound of a mighty trumpet, waxing louder and
louder, he spake on mount Sinai, so that the earth trembled : see on
ver. 19, seq.
Nvy e . . . . ovpavbv, but now he has promised, saying, " Yet once
more, will / shake not only the earth, but heaven also." "En #7ra
corresponds to the Hebrew JO^D /TIN *lty, yet once, after a little time,
Hag. ii. 0. The citation is from the Septuagint, but ov //oror is an
520 COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 27, 28,
addition by the writer of our epistle, and is designed to give emphasis to
the declaration. That the passage has respect to the changes which
would be introduced by the coming of the Messiah, and the new dis-
pensation which he would commence, is evident from Hag. ii. 7 9.
Such figurative language is frequent in the Scriptures, and denotes
great changes which are to take place. So the apostle explains it
here, in the very next verse. Compare Isa. xiii. 13. Hag. ii. 21, 22.
Joel iii. 16 ; ch. ii. 10. 31. Matt. xxiv. 2931 : compare ver. 34.
f Ver. 27. To e, en a?ra . . . ffaXevojjieva, now this " Yet once more"
signifies a removing of the things which are shaken, as of created things,
in order that the things which are not shaken may continue. The
manner in which the writer understood the figurative expression in ques-
tion, viz. the shaking of the heavens and the earth, is here plainly
declared. It denotes a great change, a ptraSeffis, removal, or abolition,
of the things changed, i. e. of the Jewish dispensation. The language
which had been literally applied to the quaking of Sinai when the law
was given, is now figuratively applied, in the usual scriptural way, in
order to denote a great change of a moral nature.
'& TreTroirjfjLEvuv is a locus vexatissimus. It would be of little use to
detail the various opinions upon it ; most of which seem to have sprung
from a misapprehension of the meaning of the paragraph in which it
stands. Even Michaelis and Storr interpret the passage as referring to
changes in the natural world, at the end of time ; most evidently, against
the meaning of the writer. I understand TrcTrotTj/ueVwv to designate simply
things made or created, ^ftpoTro/^ra, caduca, mutabilia ; ideas neces-
sarily implied by a term which designates things of a corporeal and
created nature, as here. The writer means to say, that the ancient order
of things, viz. the Jewish dispensation, will be changed, removed, abo-
lished, in like manner as the objects of the natural creation. In other
words, like them, it is caduca, mutabilis, evanida ; and, like them, it will
undergo a change. It really seems that more difficulty has been made
about the phrase in question, than was necessary.
All this change or abolition of the old dispensation was to take place,
in order that a new one might be introduced, which shall undergo no
change ; tVa ptivrj ra yuj) <ja\e.vop.eva.
Ver. 28. Aio fiacrtXe'tav .... TrapaXaju/Ba^ovr^g, wherefore, having
obtained a kingdom which cannot be shaken, i. e. the gospel dispen-
sation, the /3ct<rtX6/av TOV Qeov, or TOV xpicrrov, or TOV ovpavov, a regnum
immutabile. Plainly the /paatXemv cWtX*vrw here, is the opposite or
COMMENTARY ON HEB. XII. 29; XIII. 1. 521
antithesis of o-aXevo/^Vwv in the clause above, which must therefore mean,
(in such a connexion) the Jewish dispensation. The new dispensation
is not, UQ TreTrotriiJievwv, like the objects of creation, i. e. is not mutable,
caducous, but affaXevrov, immutable, not to be shaken, not to be changed.
"E^(i)fj.v x"P tv vXa/3'ae, let us manifest our gratitude, (by
which we may serve God acceptably,) with reverence and devotion.
"EXWHEV x&pwy gratiam habeamus, i. e. let us express, manifest, exhibit
gratitude, viz. for the unshaken kingdom, which we have received, with
all its privileges, preferences, and blessings. Evapeorwe, acceptably,
i. e. gratitude for such blessings is due to God, and to render it will be
well-pleasing in his sight.
Mtra alSove KOI evXa/3aae, with pious reverence, i. e. let us not only
exhibit gratitude to God for the mercies of the gospel, but let us add to
this pious reverence for his spotless and awful perfections. 'EvXa/fota
means, piety, pious devotedness, the spirit of religious devotion ; and
atw means reverence. I take the two words as designed to convey an
idea of the intense pious reverence which ought to be paid to the great
God whom the gospel exhibits. The principle, that one of two synony-
mous nouns, in such cases, may be employed for the sake of intensity,
hardly needs to be again stated ; and that one of them may be employed
in the room of an adjective is equally plain ; so that, if we choose, we
may translate, " with profound reverence."
Ver. 29. Kcu -yap fcaravaXio-/cov, for our God is a consuming
fire. If this be not a quotation, the image is drawn from the description
of Sinai (ver. 18), which was still in the writer's mind. The idea is, that
God, if called to punish unbelief, is not only surrounded by flaming fire,
as he was on mount Sinai, but this is also irvp /caramXtWov , devouring,
destructive, tormenting fire. The awful punishment of unbelievers and
apostates is set forth, by the expression in question, in a very striking
manner. But probably the expression is a quotation of Deut. iv. 24,
where it is employed by way of commination.
Ver. 1. 'H ^iXaBeX^m jucveVw, let brotherly love continue, i.e. let it be
constant, let it remain in exercise. I am, on the whole, disposed to
believe that the writer means to say, " Let it continue to be as it has
hitherto been ;" for he has repeatedly commended them, in our epistle,
522 COMMENTARY ON HEB. XIII. 2, 3, 4.
for their social sympathies and brotherly feeling. totXaSeXtyia is the
mutual love of Christians as such.
Ver. 2. Trie (fnXo&vlas yur/ iTri\av$avcr$t, cease not to practise hospi-
tality, or, forget not hospitality. This was peculiarly a duty, in those
times of persecution and distress, when many were suffering the loss of
their means of subsistence, and were obliged to cast themselves on the
charity of their brethren.
Am ravrnc yap .... ayytXove, for by this some have entertained
angels unawares. "EXaSov faviffavres, a truly Attic mode of expression ;
for the Greeks were wont to join the verb XavSavu with the participle of
another verb, when they wished to express the idea, that the action
indicated by that other verb was done unconsciously, undesignedly, with-
out foresight. Literally, the phrase may be translated, some entertaining
angels were ignorant, viz. that they were doing so. See examples of
the kind referred to in Gen. xviii. 2, seq. and Gen, xix. 1, seq. The
meaning of the whole is, " Continue to practise hospitality, since
greater honour and reward is consequent upon it, than you might be
ready to suppose."
Ver. 3. MijjLvfiffKeaSe .... trvvtiedefiEvoi, remember those who are in
bonds, as if ye yourselves were fellow-prisoners. The writer had before
adverted to their past sufferings under persecution, ch. x. 32 34 ; and
also to their present trials, ch. x. 36 ; xii. 3 5. Here he exhorts them
to sympathize with those who are in bonds, as if they themselves were
in the like condition, because they were continually exposed to be
thrown into prison. A high degree of sympathy is designated by the
expression o>e ervy&dc/tfcwc.
Tu>v KOLKovypvptvow.. ..o-wjuart, [remember] those who are injuriously
treated, as [it becomes] those who are themselves still in the body.
"OVTEG kv TV o-wjucm, i. e. daily exposed themselves to persecution and
suffering ; and therefore liable to need commiseration from others.
Ver. 4. Tif^tog 6 yajuoe ...... a^iavTog, let marriage be honourable
among all, and the bed undejiled. So it should be rendered, because
the whole strain is hortatory. So Schulz, " Ehrenwerth sei alien die
Ehe." It is capable of another version, viz. marriage is honourable
for all, $c. 'Ev navi r/poe may also be translated, is altogether honour-
able. The first method, however, of rendering the phrase, seems to me
preferable ; as it is then made to be congruous with the context.
The. fact, that such an exhortation is here addressed to the Hebrews,
shows, either that some of them were chargeable with a breach or trie
COMMENTARY ON HEB. XIII. 5, 6, 7. 523
precept respecting chastity, or that they were in danger of becomii g so.
Polygamy and concubinage were practised all around them, and had
been for time immemorial. The demands of Christianity, then, in
respect to these practices, might seem a grievance to some of the
Hebrew Christians, and probably they were tempted not to regard them,
and needed caution.
Uoprovs $e 6to, but whoremongers and adulterers, God will
punish or judge ; i. e. those who live in fornication, while unmarried,
or commit adultery after marriage, will not escape Divine indignation.
Ver. 5. 'A^iXapyvpog .... irapovffi, let your conduct be free from
covetousness ; and be content with what ye have. "Eorw is understood
after 6 rpoTrog, for the sentence is hortatory. TpoTroe means behaviour,
the same as -ffioz, manner of life. 'ApKovuevoi TO'IQ irapovet, i. e. indulge
no greedy desires for earthly possessions, but cheerfully submit to the
allotment of Providence in respect to these things.
Avrog yap .... eyKaraXorw, for he hath said, I will never leave thee y
nor forsake thee ; i.e. God hath promised to provide for you in the
best manner, and you should put your trust in him. The phrase here
quoted, may come either from Deut. xxxi. 6; Josh. i. 5 ; or 1 Chron.
Ver. 6. "Clare. Qappovvras .... avflpwTroe, so that we may boldly say,
" The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear. What can man do to me ?"
The quotation is from Ps. cxviii. 6 ; where the Hebrew, which corre-
sponds to Kupiof ifjiol fioriOoe, is ^ nJiT, Jehovah is for me. The verse
is divided by the accents in Hebrew, as the translation above divides it.
The apostle has given the sense exactly ; wore flappovvrae fyuae, sc. Ji/ae,
which is implied after WCTTE. The meaning of the verse is, " Under
whatever trials and difficulties we may be placed, we need not be filled
with terror or painful apprehension ; for God will help us."
Ver. 7. Mvr/juo^evere .... QF.OV, remember your leaders, who have
spoken unto you the word of God. 'Hyovpevoi, duces, presides, leaders,
guides, directors, which here means teachers, as the explanatory clause
that follows clearly shows. Aoyov TOV Oeov, the gospel.
"'Sir avadewpovvree .... Triartv, and attentively considering the end of
their manner of life, imitate their faith. That is, calling to mind the
peaceful and happy death of those religious teachers among you, who
gave you instruction respecting the word of life, imitate their faith,
i.e. persevere in your Christian profession, as they did, to the very
end of life.
524 COMMENTARY ON HEB. XIII. 8, 9.
Storr and others refer e/cjSao-tv rr/e avatrrpo^fjc to the sequel or reward
that ensued, in consequence of the manner of life which these teachers
had led. But I cannot find reason enough to believe, that tie/Saw may
be properly understood in such a sense. It is not improbable, that the
writer refers here to the triumphant death of Stephen, Acts vii., and of
James, Acts xii. He exhorts his readers to follow the example of those
faithful Christian teachers, who had died a peaceful and happy death,
although, perhaps, a premature one.
Ver. 8. 'IncrovQ Xptorog . . . altivac, Jesus Christ is the same yes-
terday, to-day, and for ever. That is, Christ is always the same,
always ready and willing to aid you in all your trials : compare ch. vii.
3. 15 17. 21. 25. 28; also ch. v. 6. 9 ; ii. 18; ix. 24 ; x. 12 14,
23. 'O avrog corresponds with <rv 6 aurot; J. Ps. cii. 28, [Septuagint,
ci. 27,] in Hebrew, JWT i"T.nN| ? which there designates immutability or
eternity ; for the parallel distich is, Thy years shall not come to an