John Owen.

An exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) online

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fpoken it.

§ 20. 3. Then all hopes of cfcaping mull arifc from
hence, that he whofe right it is, and on whom it is in-
cumbent thus to take vengeance, will not be able fo to do,
or at leaf! not to fuch a degree, as to render it fo fearful as
is pretended. This need not much to be infilled on. It
is God with whom men ha-ve to do in this matter ; and
they who allow his Being, cannot deny him to be omni-
potent and eternal. Now what cannot he do who is fo ?
Jt will at length be found to be * a fearful thing to fall
^ into the hands of the living God.' There is to wick'
ed men the fame everlafling caufe, both of being and of
punifhmcnt. The fame hand that upholds them, fhall
intii£t them, and that for ever. What his righteoufnefs
requires, his power and wrath fliall execute to the utter-
niofl:, fo that there will be no efcaping. And thefe arc
the holy foundations on which all the gofpel threatenings
are built, which will all of them be accompliflied, with
no lefs certainty than the promifcs.

§ 21. Now from all that hath been fpoken on this
propofition we may learn,

I. To admire the riches of the grace of God, which
hath provided * fo great falvation' for poor linners.
Such and fo great as it is, we flood in need of it. Nothing
could be abated without our eternal ruin. But when
divine w^ifdom, goodnefs, and mercy Ihali let themfelves at
work, what will they not accomplifli ? and their aftonilh-
ing cfTe<^ doth the fcrinture variouHv exprefs : * God fo

* loved the world ;' * God commendeth his love towards

* us ;' * greater love bath none than this ;' riches of grace ;
trcafurcs of wifdom ; exceeding grcatncfs of power; and
the like. In this will Ctod be glorified and admired to aJ-l
eternity. Which way foevcr we look, whatever we con-
fidcr in it, here ir, that which will entertain our fouls with
g'tlight and fatiifaction. The ;;lcrnal coimfcl of God, tl*c

perfoi\



Ver.2— 4- EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 151

perfon of Chrift, his mediation and grace, the promifes of
the gofpel, the evil and wrath we are freed from, the re-
demption and glory prepared, the privileges we are ad-
mitted to, the confolations and joys of the Spirit, the
communion with God we are called to, how glorious are
they in the eyes of believers ? or alTuredly ought to be.
How can we enough bewail that vanity whence it is, that
the mind fufFereth itfelf to be polTeiTed and filled with
other things ? Alas, what are they if compared to the ex-
cellency of this love of God in Chrift Jefus ! Here lies
our treafurc, here lies our inheritance, why fhould not our
hearts be here alfo ? Were our minds fixed on thefe thing-?
as they ought, how would the glory of them caft out our
cares, fubdue our fears, fweeten our afiii£lions and per-
fecutions, take ofF our afFe6lions from the fading and pe-
rifhing things of this world, and make us in every con-
dition rejoice in hopes of the glory that fliall be revealed !
What are thofe things which the better and more refined
part of mankind fearch into ? Alas ! they are things that
came out of nothing, and are returning hitherward apace ;
things which when they are known, do not enrich the
mind, nor at all better it for its eternal condition.

On the contrary ; the things of this great falvation arc
eternal, glorious, myfterlous, that have all the charafters
of God's excellency enflamped upon them ; whofc know-
ledge gives the mind its perfedlion, and the foul its blef-
fednefs. If we are believers, thefe things are ours. The
rich man is much in the contemplation of his riches, be-
caufe they are his own ; and the great man of his power,
becaufe of his property in it. Now all thefe things are
* ours, if we are Chrift's ;' made over to us in the pro-
mife of the gofpel, and conferred upon us by the Spirit of
grace. And are thefe things to be defpifed, are they to
be caft afide among the things wherein we are leaft con-
cerned ? What ! all thefe riches ours, all thefe treafures,
this goodly inheritance, this kingdom, this glory, and yet
we will not be conftant in thoughts and meditations about
them ? It is undoubtedly a fign, at leaft, that we queftion
our title to them, and that the evidences we have of them

Vol. II. X will



152 AN EXPOSITION OF TIl'E Chaf. If;

will not endure the trial. But woe unto us if thatfbould
be the end of our profefTion ; and ifit be otherwife, why-
arc not our minds fixed on that which is our own, and
which no man can take from us ? Oh ! that God would
give us the fpirit of wifdom and revelation in the know-
ledge of Chrift, that the eyes of our undcrflanding being
opened, they may know what is the hope of his calling,
and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the
faints, and what is the exceeding greatnefs of his power
to us-ward who believe, [Eph. i. 17 — 19.] Solomon
tells us how this wifdom is to be obtained, [Prov. ii.
2 — 5.] ' If thou cryefl after knowledge, and lifteil up

* thy voice for undcrflanding, if thou feekell for her as
' for filver, and fearcheft for her as for hid treafures,
' then fhalt thou underftand the fear of the Lord, jtnd find

* the knowledge of God.' It is by praying and carneft
fupplications, with perfevering diligence, that we attain
this wifdom, and many pcrions, otherwife weak and
fmiple, have by thefe means grown wife in the myfleries
of God. And how many others, though wife in this
world, yet through the negledl of it, walk in darkncfs all
their days?

§ 22. 2. This will teach us, what efleem we ought
to have of the word of the gofpel, by which alone this
great falvation is revealed and exhibited ur.to us ; tlic
great means which God is pleafed to ufc, to bring us to a
participation of it. This one confideration is enough to
inform us what valuation we ought to put upon it, feeing
we cannot expeft tlie treafure without th.e purchafc of the
field. Some neglect it, fome defpife it. fomc perfecutc it,
foine look upon it as foolilhnefs, fome as weaknefs, but
' to them that believe, it is the power of God and the

* wifdom of God.* To ncglecl the gofi)cl is to neglc£t
and defpife the Son of God who was the author of it, and
confeciuently the love and grace of God in fending him.
So Chrift tells the preachers of the gofpel, * he that dc-

* fpifith you, dclpifeth me; and he that defpifctli mc, de-

* fpifcth him that fcnt me.' Ncglc«ll of the gofpel reilccts
immediately upon the Lord Chrifl and the Father; and

therefore



V«.j-9. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. >53
therefore our apoftle bids us take heed that we defpife not
' hh„ who ipaUe f - ' - ^^^^S ^^T s word'tas

-'^Sa ;is.:storhr:.. .. ..,., w^^

and miracles which attended the difpenlat.on of :t . nd
t ou" we faw not thofe miracles, yet we have them left
on ht I ible record for our ufe, that by them we may be
V t ft Irrcd up to value and attend to the word m a due
E^r. Jod hath fo ordered *in,s m h. holy p.v.-

dence, that no one can negled *V ^^' T' of convic-
ting his eyes againft fuch light and evdence o cm,v,c
tion as will leave him abundantly uiexcufable at the



Verses S — 9.

FOR UNTO THE ANGELS HATH HE NOT PUT IN SUB-
JECTION THE WORI-P TO COME, WHEREOF WE
E r BUT ONE IN . CERTAIN PEACE TESTIFIED,
SPEAK. BLl THAT THOU ART MIND-

SAYING, WHAT IS MAN, THAT THU
,UI.OFHIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, ^HAT THO^
,.,„T.ST HIM ? THOU HAST MADE HIM A LITTLE
:;^e; THAN THE ANGELS -. THOU CROWNED T
HIM WITH GLORV AND HONOUR, ^^ - ^^^^^
,„M OVER THE WORKS OF THY "^^"^ J""" ^^^^
P„T ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION ^^-^^^^'J^^^^^
FOR IN THAT HE PUT ALL IN SUBJECTION UNDER
HIM, HE LEFT NOTHING THAT IS NOT PUT UNDER
.HM. BUT WE SEE JESUS, WHO WAS M^^ ^ -^_
TLE LOWFR THAN THE ANGELS FOR THE SUFFER
Ing OF DEATH, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HO-
NOUR TH.tT HE BV THE GRACE OF COD SHOULD
TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN.

4 ,_8. ne v^ords cflaincd, in connexion ^iththe Pfilnt
from ivbcncc they arc taken. ^9 n- ^ J ^^ ^^^^^

A. 2



154 AN EXPOSITION OF THE Chap.IL

1 . Great is the privilege of the gofpd church, §12—17.

2. Great is the condcfcenfion of God. § i 8 20. 3. God's

refpefifor man in the perfon of Chrifi calls for eternal ad^
miration. § 21. 4. Inconceivable the love and condc-
fcenfion of Chrifi. § 22. 5. Chrifi' s exaltation a pledge

of Qttrs. ^ ^

§ I. 1 HE firft words of the fifth vcrfe, {Iv yuo) for
not, declare llmt the apoftle is in purfuit of his former ar-
g^ument, but the particle * for' dr.di not always intimate
themtroduaion of a rcafon in confirmation of what is
pafl; but fometimes a progrcfs to foracwhat z\(t of the
like kmd. I1ie ' world to come,' is not made, nor is
any where m fcripture faid to have been made, fubjeft to
angels; but it was made fubjca to Jefus, and therefore
he IS exalted above them. This he proves from the tcfli-
niony of the pfalmill to this purpofe; all things were
made fubjecl to man, who for a little while was made
lower than the angels; but this man was Jefus. All
thmgs m the event agree to him : he was made ' for a

* little while' lower than the angels ; and then he was
crowned with glory and dignity, all things being made
fubject to hnn ; from all which it appears, that it is he,
and not angels, to whom the world to come is put in fub-
jeaion. This is the feries of the apoille's difcourfe

' I he world to come, whereof {XuX^u,,) ,,., treat.' Hic

* world' here mtended is no other but tlie promifed flate
of the church under the gofpel, with the worlbip of God
therein, with a fpecial relation to the MefTiah, the author
and mediator of it. Concerning which the apoftle * treats'
with the Hebrews in this epifllc. He * treats' of that
which was already done in the crowning of Jefus with
glory and honour, as the words following do manifeft •
and this crowning of him was upon his afcenfion. The
apoftle doti, not treat directly any where in this epiflle
ronccrning heaven, or the bleffedncfs to come ; for this is
iiot what he oppofeth to the Judaical church-rtatc and
worflijp, but that of the gofpd.

§ 2. Con-



Ver. 5— 9- EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS, 155

§ 2. Concerning this world, the apoftle declares that
it is ' not made fubjeft to angels :* it was not put in fub-
jeftion to angels, in its ereB'ion or inllitution — in the riih
and difpofal of it — or in the power oi judging and reward-
ing. Not xh^firji ; for they did not reveal the will of God
concerning it ; the law, which was the foundation of the
Judaical church -ftate, was only * given by the difpojttion
* of angels.' Not the fccond \ their office in this world
is a miniftry, [chap. ii. 13.] not a rule or dominion;
yes, they are brought into a co-ordination of fervice with,
them that have the teilimony of Jefus, [Rev. xix. 10,
xxii. 9.] being equally with us fubje6t to him, in
whom they and we are gathered into one head, [Ephef.
i. 10.] — Not the third; for that is the fole prerogative of
Jefus Chrlll, as the fcripture every where tellifies.

§ 3 * But one in a certain place teftiiied :* neither
place nor perfon is fpecified, but the Hebrews were not
ignorant whofe words they were, which he made ufe of,
nor where they were recorded. The * one' here men-
tioned is David ; and the ' certain place' is the eighth
pfalm ; which was fufficiently known. ' What is man/
&c. Before we enter into a particular explication of
the words, and of the apoflle's application of them, wc
may obferve, that all things whatfoever are faid to be put
in fubje£lion to man ; that is, to human nature in one or
more perfons, in oppoiition to angels, or the angelical
nature; and that this privilege was never abfolutely nor
univerfally made good but with refpe6l to the perfon of
Jefus Chrift, the Meffiah. ' What is man !' by way of
admiration, yea, he cries out with a kind of afionilhment,
David having exercifed his thoughts in the contemplation
of the greatnefs, power, wifdom, and glory of God ma-
nifefting themfelves in his mighty works, efpecially the
beauty, order, majefty, and ufefulnefs of the heavens, and
thofe glorious celeftial bodies which prefent themfelves to
all the world ; falls thereon into this admiration, that
this great and infinitely v^dfe God, who by his word gave
being and exiflence to all thofe things, and thereby made
his own excellencies confpicuous to all the world, fhould

condefcend



156 ANT EXPOSITION OF THE Chap. E,

condefccnd to that care and regard of man, feeing he
might for ever fatisfy himfelf, in thofe other apparently
more glorious products of his power and godhead, (ii'>:« no)

* What is poor miferablc mortal man,* obnoxious to grief,
forrow, anxiety, pain, trouble, and death : (cdi« pi) and

* tlie fon of man ;' of one made of earth. Now the
pfalmift ufeth this expreflion to heighten his admiration
of the grace and condefcenfion of God. And as the per-
fon of the firfl Adam cannot be here efpecially intended ;
for although he made himfelf (c/iJ«) * a miferable man,'
and fubjcCt to death, yet he was not (m« p) * the fon of

* man ;' [Luke iii. ult.] fo there is nothing in the words
"but may properly be afcribed to the nature of man in the
perfon of the MelTiah. For as he was called in an ef-
pecial manner, ' the fon of man ;* fo was he made * a

* man fubjed to forrow,' and acquainted above all men
with grief and trouble, and was born on purpofe to die.
Hence in the contemplation of his own condition he cries
out, [Pfal. xxii. 7.] * I am a worm and not (D'rt) a man
' of any confideration in the world.' — * That thou re-

* mcmbercfl him,' or * art mindful of him.' To remember
in fcripture, when afcribed to God, alwavs intends fonic
a£ls of his mind, and purpofe of his will, and that in
a fignal manner, either for good or evil. On this account
God is faid fometimcs * to remember us for good,' and
fometimes ' to remember our fins no more.' The incli-
nation of the mind of God towards the nature of man in
the pcrfon of Jcfus Chrifl:, in reference to all the good
done in and by it, is intended in this exprelfion ; and
therein is couched the whole counfel and purpofe of
God, conceriiing the falvation of mankind, through tlic
liumiliation, exaltation, and whole mediation of the man
Chrifl Jefus. * That thou i-ijitejl him.' — The Hebrew
word ("Tps), though varioully ufcd,- yet coni\antly denotes
the afting of a fuperior towards an inferior ; and com-
monly cxprciTcth the a£\ing of God towards his people for
gooil. And efpecially in the term * viiiting,' ufcd to cx-
prefs the flupcndous a6l of God in fending Jefus Chrill
to take our nature upon him, [Luke i. 68.] ' He hath

a * v'lfited



Ver. 5-^9. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 157

* Vifited and redeemed his people,' and [verfe 78.] * The

* day fpring from on high hath vijited us.^ This was the
ground of the pfahnifl's admiration, and which will be fo
in all believers to eternity.

§ 4. * Thou hail made him a little lower tlian the an-

* gels ;' or * lower for a little vohile than the angels/
Thefe words intend not the exaltation of the nature of mxrt
man^ as if they fhould intimate, that fuch is his dignity,
that he is made but a * little lefs than angels ;' which is
deflruclive of that fenfe the apoflle intends. The word
(non) ufed by the pfalmift, is rendered by the apoiiie by a
word {sXcy.TJocjc) which, as the other does, properly figni-
lies a diminution of Hate and condition, or a dcprejjlon oi
any one from what be before enjoyed. And this, in the
firft place, belongs to God's * vifitation ;' and the afting
of the will of Chrift in this matter, fuitably to the will of
the Father, is expreiled by words of the fame import, * he

* emptied himfelf ;' and * he humbled himfelf,' [PhiL
ii. 7, 8.] * He was made Icfs than the angels.' This
the Hebrews had feen, and might from his humiliation
raife an obje£tion againft what the apoftle afferted about
his preference above them. Wherefore he acknow-
ledgeth, that he was made ' lefs' than they, fliews that
this was foretold, and in his following difcourfe afligns the
reafons. * Than the angels,' (o'n^j^a Tia\> ccyys'Ki<g) » The
Sept, and all the old Greek tranflations read * angels."
The Targum hath («iDt^^D) * angels.' And the fcope of
the place necefTarily requires that fenfe of the word.
And although from his birth, the angels adored his per-
fon as their Lord ; yet in the outward condition of his
human nature, he was made exceedingly beneath their
ftate of glory and excellency. He made him lou'cr (lora
(3poixv T/) * for a little while,' or a y?)oyt fcafon. That
which renders this fenfe unqueflionable, is the apolHe's
reftraining them prccifcly thereto, [ver. 9] It was but
for ' a little while,' that the perfon of Chrift in the na-
ture of man was brought into a condition more indigent
than that of angels is expofed to : neither was lie for that
feafon made ' a little/ but ' very much' lower than the

angels.



i5« AN EXPOSITION OF THE Ckat. it

angels. And Iiad this been the whole of his ftate, it
could not have been an effcft of that iiiexprefTible love
and care which the pfalmiit fo admires. But feeing it i*
but for a little continuance, and that for the blefTed ends
which the apoftlc declares, nothing can more commend
them to us. ' He crowned him with glory and honour/
(mar) * the crown* is (injigyie regium) the badge and to-
ken of fupreme and kingly power. To be * crowned/
then, is to be invefted with fovercign power, or with the
right and title thereunto. To be crowned with * glory

* and honour/ is to have a glorious and honourable
crown, or rule and fovcreignty, (nn3) * a weight of glory /
from the Hebrew word (nn::), to be heavy \ (foc/.c^og h^r;c)

* a weight of glory,' as rhe apoflle fpeaks in allufion to
the primitive lignificatfon of this word, [II. Cor. iv. 17.]

* Thou madeft him have dominion over the works of thy

* hands / (in^»iL»Dn) * madcll: him to rule / {Kccjz^r^Tc^g
ecvjov STTi) * appointedft him in authority over.' He had
aftually rule and dominion given him upon his corona-
tion ; and the extent of this dominion is the works of
God's hands. And left any from the indefinite exprcf-
lion Ihould think this rule limited, it is added (Trafjc^
V7ri]u'^:) * he hath put all things without exception in

* fubjedion to him ; and to manifefl his abfolute and un-

* limited power, with the unconditional fubjeclion of all

* things unto him,' he adds, they are placed {"jTTcy.ccrcjj
tcaJ'j tto^cov ocvJa) ' under his very feet / a dominion every
way unlimited and abfolute.

§ 5. For the explication of the chjc^'ivc extent of the
rule and dominion mentioned, he adds, * for in tint he

* hath made all fubje£\: unto him, he left nothing tliat is

* not put under him.' For whereas it might be objefted,
that there is no mention in the pfalm of the ' world ta

* come' whereof he treats ; he lets them know% that feeing
the aiTcrtion is univcrfal and unlimited, that all things
whatfoever arc put under him, there lies no exception :
they arc all brought into order under this rule. And fo
by this tellimony thus explained, as necefTity requires it
Ihould be, he hath fully contirmed, that the * world to



Vhr.^— g. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 159

* come' being one of the efpecial works of God, and
not put into fubje£lion to angels, is made fubjc£l to man ;
which was what he undertook to demonftrate.

To direct this teftimony to its proper ends, and make
way for its juft appHcation, he declares, negatively, unto
whom it is not applicable ; * but now we fee not yet all

* things put under him.' Man it was, concerning whom
thefe words were fpoken ; * What is man ?' — a long fpace
of time hath elapfed fince the giving out this teftimony,
much longer iincc the creation of man, and yet all this
while we fee that all things are far enough from being
put under his feet. All mankind in conjunftion are very
remote from being invefled with the dominion here de-
fcribed, from having the whole creation of God call in
fubjedion under their feet, much lefs any individual mere
ina4v.

Hence wc ourfelves by our own obfervation may eafily
difcern, that this word refpe£ls not, principally, either
tlic iirft man or his pofterity; for we fee not as yet after
this long fpace of time lince the creation, that all things
are put in fubje(flion under him.

§ 6. Thefe things being fpoken indefinitely of man by
the pfalmlfl, the apoflle in the application of them to his
prefent purpofe, proceeds to ihew, pofitively, who it is
that was efpecially intended, and in whom the words had
their full accompUfhment. ' Bat, faith he, we fee Jefus,'
he, — that is, it is Jefus concerning whom the pfalmift
fpake, and in whom alone this teftimony is verified. He
was made lower than the angels ; and he had all things
put in fubjeflion to him. Thefe things, faid he, we fee ;
they arc evident, nor can be denied while the gofpel is
acknowledged. Yet it was not on his own account, but

* that he might fufper death ;' which is farther explained
by the addition of the caufe and end of his fuffering,

* That he by the grace of God might tafte of death for

* every man.' The words (^loc to %u9y]^cc t« ^ocvaz'^)

* for the fuffering of death,' intend the final caufc of the
humiliation of Chrlft ; he *vas made low that he might
fuffcr dcatli ; not the meritorious caufe of his exaltation :

Vol. II. Y fot



i6o AN EXPOSITION OF THK Chap.IL

for if they exprcfs his mlnoratloii itfelf, then the end of
it is contained only in the clofe of the verfe, that he

* might tafle of death for every man.' In which expo-
fition of the words, the fenfe would be, that he * fuffercd

* death,' that by the grace of God he might * taftc death,'
which is no fenfc at alL This therefore is the import and
natural order of the words ; * but we fee Jefus crowned
with glory and honour, who was for a little while made
lower than the angels for the fuffering of death, that he by
the grace of God might tailc death for every man.

§ 7. The end then is * the fuffering of death;' he was
fo humbled that he might fnffer death. This yet more
difplcafcd the Jews ; the neceflity wherefore, he therefore
more imniediately proves ; and proceeds to amplify that
humiliation which he had before intimated ; and tliat in
four things :

1. In the impulfivc and efficient caufc of it. * That
* by the grace of God ;* the gracious, free, fovereign pur-
pofe of the will of God fuited to and ariiing from his
natural goodnefs and benignity, mercy and compalfion,
exerting themfeWes therein. It was not out of any an-
ger or difplcafure of God againfl: Jefus, in whom his foul
was always pleafed ; not out of any difrcgard to him,
whom he dcllgned hereby to be crowned with glorv and
honour ; but of his love, kindncfs, and goodnefs towards
others, who could no otherwife be brought to glory.

2. In the mmmcr of the death ; [oiruoq y^va-fiai Saiuiy)
' that he fhould talle of death ;' fo die as to experience the
furrows, bittcrnefs, and penalties of death. To * tafle of

* death,' implies ren//y to die ; not in appearance (.^r pre-
tence, in opinion or fhew, as fomc foolilhly of old
blafphemcd about the death of Chrift, which could have
liad no other fruit but a J?jadovj of redemption. It is in-
mated, that there was bitternefs in the death he under-
went ; himfelf compares it to a * cup.' To *-tafte of
' death,' is a Hcbraifm ; and it comprifcth alfo, to find
out and experience what is in death. 80 that Chrill by

* rafting of death' had experience, knew what was in
death, as threatened to finncrs. lie found out and wn-

dcrftcoJ



Ver. 5—9. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. i6r

derflood what bitterncfs was in that cup wherein it was
given him. When Agag thought he fhould efcape a vio-
lent death by the fword, he thus exprcfTeth his joy ;
[I. Sam. XV, 32.] * Surely the bitternefs of death is paft/
or taken away. Our Lord's conqiiejl over death may be
alfo intimated in this expiefTion ; for though the phrafe
be ufed concerning other perfons alfo, yet as applied to
him, the event fheweth, that it was only a thorough tafle
of it that he had, he neither was, nor could be detained
under the power of it. And thus by the grace of God
did he talle of death.

3. The cy^d of this tafling of death ; it was for others
(uTTcp 'Kcc'jTog,) The conftant ufe of thefc words, * to die
^ for another.,' imports to die ^ in his room and flcad \ and
this the Jews underllood in the ufe of their facrifices ;
where the life of the beaft was accepted inllead of the life
of the iiniier. Thus Chriil tailed of death ; he was by
the grace and wifdom of God fubflituted as a mediator
and furety, [avTL-\vyjjq) in their Jlead, (for whom he died,)
to undergo the death which they fhould have undergone,



Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 46)