John Owen.

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

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Xial glory, and all this in a way of mere grace; this is to
be evcrlaflingly admired !

3. It appeareth, that God is more glorified in the hu-
miliation and exaltation of the Lord Chrift, and the fal-
vation of mankind thereby, than in any or all of the
works ot the firfl: creation. None almoll is fo flupid,
but tliat on the iirfl view of the heavens, the (\.-\n^ moon,
and ftars, he will confefs, that their fabric, beautv, and
order is wonderful, and that the glory of their all-wife
r.nd omnipotent builder is for ever to be admired in them ;
but all this comes fhort of that glory which arilcth from
flfis comlcfccnfion and grace. And therefore, it may be,
ll;e d:;y will come, and tfiat fpecdily, wherein tlic heavens

I and


and this whole creation fliall be utterly difTolved and
brought to nothing. For why fhould they abide as a
monument of his power for their fakes, who, enjoying
the blefled vifion of him, fhall fee it and know it far mor«
eminently in himfelf ? However, they fhall undoubtedly,
in a fhort time, ceafe as to their prefent ufe ; but the cf-
fe£ls of this regard of God to man fhall abide to eternity,
and the glory of God therein ; and this is the foundation
of heaven as a flate and condition, as it denotes the glo-
rious prefence of God among his faints. Without this
there would be no fuch heaven ; all that is there, and all
the glory of it depends thereon. Take away this founda-
tion, and all that beauty and glory difappear. Nothing
indeed would be taken from God, who ever was, and ever
will be eternally blelTed in his own felf-fufficiency ; but
the whole tlieatre which he hath ere£led for the manifcfta-
t'lon of his eternal glory depends on this his holy conde-
fcenfion and grace, which afTuredly render them meet for
ever to be admired and adored.

§ 20. In this then let us cxercife ourfelves. Faltli
having infinite, eternal, incomprehenfible things pro-
pofed to it, ads itfelf greatly in this admiration. We are
every where taught, that we know but imperfedly, * in
' part,' and that we fee * darkly' as in a glafs. Not that
the revelation of thefe things in the word is dark and ob-
fcure, for they are fully and clearly propofed ; but that
fuch is the nature of the things themfelves, that we arc
not in this life able to comprehend them ; and therefore,
faith doth principally excrcife itfelf in an holy admiration
of them. And indeed no love or grace will fuit our con-
dition, but that which is incomprehenfible. We find
©urfelves, by experience, ftanding in need of more grace,
goodnefs, love, and mercy, than we can fully underftand.
But when that which is fuitable, infinite, and incompre-
henfible is propofed, there all fears are overwhelmed, and
faith finds refl with afTurance. And if our admiration of
thefe things be an a6t, an effe^i:, a fruit of faith, it will
be of fingular ufe to endear our hearts to God, and to ex-
cite them to thankful obedience. For who would not love



and delight in the eternal foundation of this inconceivable
grace ? And what fhall we render unto him who hath
done more for us, than we arc any way able to conceive ?
^2 1. Ohf. 4. Such was the inconceivable loveof Jefus
Chrift the Son or God to the fouls of men, that he was
willing to condefcend to any condition for their good.
Hence, when the eternal counfel of this whole matter is
mentioned, it is faid of him as the wifdom of the Fa-
ther, that he * rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth,

* and his delights were with the fons of men,' [Prov. viii.
13.] He delighted in the counfel of redeeming and faring
them bv his own humiliation and fuiFering. And fo great
was this love of his, that he declined nothing that was
propofed to him. This the apoflle calls his grace, [II. Cor.
viii. 9.] ' Ye know the grace of our Lord Jefus Chrift,

* that though he was rich, yet for our fakes he became

• poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.' He
condefcended to a poor and \o\s condition, and to fuffer
therein, that we might be made partakers of the durable
riches of the grace of God. Now the Holy Ghoft makes
an cfpecial application of this truth to us ; [Phil. ii. 5.]

• Let this mind be in you, which was alfo in Chrift Jefus.'
If this mind was in Chrift, .fhould not we endeavour after
ji rcadinefs and willingnefs to fubmit ourlelves to any con-
dition for his glory ? ' Forafmuch then as Chrift,* faith
Peter, * hath fuffercd for us in the flclli, arm yourfelves

* likewife with the fame mind.' [I. Pet. iv. i.] Many
difliculties will be in our way, many reaibnings will rile
up againft it, if we coiifult with flefti and blood ; but,
faith he, * arm yourlelves with the fame mind that was in

• Chrift ;' get your fouls ftrengthencd and fortiiied by
grace againft all oppofitions, that you may follow and
imitate him. Some that profefs his name will fufter no-
thing for him ; if they may enjoy him or his ways in
peace and quietnefs, well and good , but if perfecution
arifc, immediately they fall away. But what if he had been
iinwilling to be humbled and fuft'cr for us ? If the fame
mind had been in Chrift, as was in us, what had been
our ft?.tj and condition to eternity ? In this grace, love,


Ver. s—9. epistle to THE HEBREWS. 17$

and willingnefs of Chrift, lies the foundation for all our
happinefs, of all our deliverance from mifery and ruin ;
and ihall we reckon ourfelvcs to have an intereft therein,
and yet find ourfelves altogether unwilling to be con-
formed to him ? Befides, the Lord Chriit was really rich
when he made himfclf poor for our fakes ; he was in the
form of God, when he took upon him the form of a fer-
vant, and became for us of no reputation ; nothing of
this was he obliged to but merely on our account. But
we are in ourfelvcs reallv poor, and obnoxious to infinite-
ly more miferics for our own fins, than any thing he calls
us to endure for his name. Are we unwilling to fuifer a
little light tranlitory trouble in this world from him, with-
out whofe fufFerings for us we muft have fuffered endlefs
mifery, whether we would or no ? And I fpeak not {o
much about fuffering itfelf, as about the mind and frame
of fpirit wherewith we undergo it.

Some fufFcr when they cannot avoid it ; but {o unwil-
lingly, fo unchcerfully, as makes it evident they a£l froia
no generous principle ; they relu(^antly fubmit becaufc
they dare not refift their convi<ftions. But the mind that
was in Chrifl will lead us to it out of love to him, with
freedom and enlargednefs of heart, which is juftly re-
quired of us.

§ 22. 01? f 5. The blefled ilTue of the abafement of Jefus
Chrift, in his exaltation to honour and glory, is an af-
fured pledge of the final glory and blelTednefs of all that
believe in him, whatever diliiculties and dangers they may
be cxercifed with in their way. His humiliation, as we.
have fecn, proceeded out of God's condefcenfion and love
to mankind ; his eleding love, the eternal gracious pur-
pofe of his will to recover lofl finners, and to bring them
to the enjoyment of himfelf, was the ground of this dif-
penfation , and therefore what he hath done in Chrifl:, is
a certain pledge what he will do in and for them alfo.
He is not crowned with glory and honour merely for
himfelf, but that he may be a * captain of falvation,* and
bring others to a participation of his glory. BiefTed is

Vol. II. A a the


the flatc and condition, great is tlie fplritual and eternal
fecuritv of the church ; feeing all things are under the
very feet of its head and faviour.

Verse 10.

/or it became him, for whom are all things*
and by whom are all things, in bringing
many sons unto glory, to make the captaik


f I . I'he propriety and force of the conne^f'ion. § 2 — 4. ^he
principal zuords explained. § 5. The fubjei:! Jtatcd.

^ 6 — 8. (I.) 'The defign cf God to bring many fons t9
glory. § 9. (II.) The means of accomplifhing that deep
defign. § 10. (III.) ChrijY s qualification for this ardu-
ous work. § II — 13. (IV.) Ihcreafon vjhy Chrifi was
if) he confe crated hy his fufferings. § 14 — 23. Obfcrva-
tionsy I . The luhole zi'ork of bringing the fons to glory is com-
mitted to Chrifl. § 24. 2. Chrifl by fujffering hath confe-
crated th^, way of fuffcring. § 25. 3. ^uch is the defer t
of fin ^ that fnners could not be faved without the fufferings of
the Son of God,

^ I. A HE apoille in the verfcs foregoing made mention
of that which, of all other things, the Jews generally
were moft offended at, but which was of the grcatcil im-
portance to be believed ; namely, the fufferings of the
'vIcfTiah : wlicrein a great part of the difcharge of his fa-
cerdotal office (whereunto he here makes a tranfition)
confiilcd. This his own difciples were llcw to believe,
[Matt. xvi. 22. and chnp. xvii. 22, 23. Luke xxiv.
25, 26.] and at this the Jews generally flumbled. They
thought it flrangc that the M^fliah, the Son of God, the


faviour of his people and captain of their falvation, con-
c-erning whom fo great and glorious things were promifed
and foretold, Ihould be brought into fo low and defpifed
a condition, and therein fuffer and die. Hence they cried
unto him on the crofs, * If thou be the Chrift, come down
* and fave thyfelf ;* intimating, that by his fufFcrings he
was a£tual]y proved not to be lb ; for why any one ihould
fuffer, that could deliver himfelf, they faw no reafon. Be-
fides, they had inveterate' prejudices about the falvation
promifed by the Meffiah, and the way whereby it was to
be wrought, arifing from their love and over-valuation of
temporal or carnal things, with their contempt of things
fpiritual and eternal. They expe£led a deliverance out-
ward, glorious and kingly in this world, and that to be
introduced with arms, power, and a mighty hand. And
what fhould they expert from a Meffiah that fuffered and
died ? Wherefore the apoflle, having afferted the fufferings
of Chrift, faw it neceffary to proceed to a full confirmation
of it.

§ 2. The proper fignification of the words in this verfc
is much to be heeded, as that which will give us much
light into the itwiz of the whole. ' It became him.*
The import of the firft word, fTrpSTrsi, decet^ convenit dig-
num cjij is, it becomcth, it is meet, convenient, ox juji. That
which becometh any one in his ffate and condition in a
moral itnk ', as holinefs becometh the houfe, that is, the
people of God. The word then fignifies that dccenc^
and becomingnefs which juftice, reafon, and equity re*
quire ; fo that the contrary would be unmeet, bccaufe
unequal and unjuft. Thus every one's duty, that which
is morally incumbent on him in his place and flation, ig
that which becomes him ; and thence in the New Tefta-
rnent, that which is not (kccIcc to Trpsvroi') thus decent, is
condemned as evil, [I. Cor. xi. 13, I. Tim. ii. 10,]
And itfelf is commended as a rule of virtue, [Matt, iii,
J5. Ephef. V. 3.] ^

* i^&r whom,' (oV ov). The particle (hoi), with an ^r^
cufativc cafe, conftantly denotes the final caufe. And
{oiov jcc uTC'i-Pjoi) ^ hy whom arc all things,* The fame

A a 2, par*


particle, with a genitive^ denotes the efficient caufe. The
principal efficiency or fupreme produdion of all things
by God is intended in this exprciRon.

§ 3. The term (uyccyc^u) * bringing' is of commoa
vifc and known fignification, but in this place attended
with a double diflicuky, from a double enallage of tlie cafe
and tenfe, in the ufe of it. Firft in the cafe , for where-
as it feems to relate to (ccvju)) khn, * it became him in

• bringing,' it (hould then regularly be the dative {ccyuyo'7ii)
and not the accufative (ccyocyofjoc). Wherefore an enal-
lage of the cafe is neceffarilv to be allowed, unlcfs we fup-
pofe a repetition of {s7:pS7rc) * it became,' which frequently
admits of the accufative cafe ; but the principal author
however is unquefLionably intended. Again, as to the
icnfe ; the word (aya-yd^ovjcc) ' bringing' is a particle of
the fee ond aor'ifi^ which ufually denotes the time pajl \ and
thence it is tranflated by many (adduxit, adduxerat and
filiis adduciis) * after he had brought many fons to glory.'
But neither did this reftraining of the word anfwer the
apoflle's intention. The fecond aorift (cx,yccyiK!^o"7icc)
then is put for the prefent {ccyo'7iu) unlefs we Ihall fuppofe
that the act of God here intended was on purpofe thus ex-
prelTed to comprehend ' all the fons,' both tliofe that lived
before, and thofe that lived after the fufferings of Chrift.
In fhort, it concerns the whole execution of the defign of
God, for the falvation and glorification of believers,
(HcXAirg- VLug) ' many fons,' Jews and Gentiles, all that
were by faith to become his fons, and then led into glory.

§ 4. {T ov aox^iyov) * the author.' Wherever this word
is ufcd in the New Teftamcnt, it is applied to Chrift.
[Ads iii. 5.] he is called (cc^^yjiycg Tr,g {^'>Jf) * the

♦ Prince of Life.' [And chap, v 31.] God is faid to
make him (a^yj^yo'^ y^ai (rccnipa,) * a Prince and a Savi-

* our ;' that is, as here, * the prince of our falvation.'
[Heb. xii. 13.] the apoftle calls him {rev 7Y,g 7ri(flyj0cg
w/'/jr/zv Kociiu.ii'JP\y]\) * the author and finilhcr of faith, as
wc render it ; as here God is faid {TcXsiu:c-ai rcy oc'^yjiyoy)
f to firtijh, ox perfeil, this author of our falvation.' la
^his place it is limited by [a- uclrr/iccg) ' falvation' and



thereby fuggefts the idea of the chief or principal operator^
cr worker of that falvation ; with a fpecial reference to
the kingly or princely power whereunto he was advanced
after his fufFerings ; as he is alfo ahfolutelysi y^nwct^ a ruler,
and the author or fpring of the whole race and kind of be-
lievers, according to the other fenfes of the word.
§ 5. There is in the words,

I. A dejign of God intimated as the foundation of the
difcourfe, which was * to bring many fons unto glory.'

II. The means he fixed on for the accompiifhment of
that delign, namely, the appointing for them * a captain
' of their falvation.'

III. The e fpecial way of dedicating him to that office,
he ' made him perfeft through fufFerings.'

IV. The reafon of this his proceeding and dealing with
him, * it became him fo to do, him for whom are all
* things, and by whom are all things.'

§ 6. (I.) The ^f/%« of God in this whole matter was
to bring many fons to glory. And herein the apoflle de-
clares the nature of the falvation which was to be wrought
by the Meffiah, about which the Jews were {o greatly mif-
taken, and confequently about the way whereby it was to
be wrought. " His purpofe was not now to bring his chil-
dren into a new Canaan, an earthly kingdom, to be cf-
fefted by might, and power, and arms, but to bring them
to glory y eternal glory with himfelf in heaven ; and fo it is
no v/onder if the way whereby this is to be accomplifhcd
be quite of another nature than that whereby their tempo-
ral deliverance was wrought ; — by the death and fufFerings
of the MelFiah himfelf. And here, in reference to this
defign of God, it is fuppofed, that fome who arc created
for the glory of God had by fin come fliort of it, fo that
without a new way of bringing them to it, it was impof-
fible that they fliould ever be made partakers of it. It is
alfo here fuppofed by the apoftle, and is the foundation
of all his doctrine concerning the Meffiah, that the way
whereby God will at length bring them to their deftined
glory, is by taking them firfl into a ilate of fonfliip and
fcconciliation. He dealeth not with the Hebrews in this



cpifllc profeiTedly about the convcrfion of the clc£l, their
introduction into a flate of grace and fonlhip, but of the
government of them being already made fons, and their
fubfequent guidance into glory ; and therefore the fuffer-
ings of Chriil, which abfolutely and in themfelves arc the
caufc of their fonlhip and rcconciHation, are mentioned
lierc only as t!ie means whereby Chrifl: entered into a con-
dition of leading them to their glorious inheritance. But
yet this is not fo precifcly rcfpccled neither, but that the
spoftle withal intimates the nccelFity of the fufFerings of
Chrirt, as to the whole cfFeft of it, towards the cle£l.
Now thefe fons arc faid to be * many ;* not all men ab-
folutely, not a fr~Vy not the Jew^ only, which they
Jooked for ; but all the e]e6l of God, who are mcoiy.
[Rev. vii. 9.]

§ 7. And this work is here fignally affigned by the
apoflle to God the Father, whofe wifdom, love, and
grace, believers are principally to eye in the whole work
of tlieir falvation wrought out and accompliflied by Jefus
Chrift. For inftance : The eternal dejlgnat'ion of them to
that glory is peculiarly alhgned to him ; he predeflinatcs
them to be conformed to the image of his Son, [Rom.
viii. 28 — 30.] He wns the fpring and fountain (as in
all other operations of the Deity) of that covenant that
was of old between himfclf and his Son, about the falva-
tion and glory of his elect. He fignally gave out th.c
firft promifey and afterwards declared, confirmed, and rati-
fied by his oath, that fame covenant wherein all the means
of bringing the cle6l to glory are contained. [Gen. iii.
15.] He gave and fcnt his Son to be a faviour and re-
deemer ; fo that in his whole work, in all that he did and
fuffered, lie obeyed the command, and fultilled the will
of the P'athcr. !Iim did God the Father /Ty?/ and fet forth,
as the fcripturc every where cxprelilth it. And our Lord
JcfusChrift every where remits us to the confideration of
the love, will, and autliority of his Father in all that he
did, taught, or fuffered, fo * fccking the glory of God
* that fc!it him.' — Moreover, it is the Father who drazcs the
clc6V, and enables them to come to hh Son, to believe in


him, and fo obtain life, falvation, and glory by him.

* No man,' faith our Saviour, * can come to mcj except

* the Father, which hath fent me, draw him,' [John vi.
4.] ' No man,' no not any one of the ele6t, can come
to Chrifl, unlcfs the Father, in purfuit of that love from
whence it was that he fent the Son, put forth the efficacy
of his grace to enable him ; and accordingly he reveals
him to fome, when he is hidden from others, [Matt. xi.
25.] For the revelation of Chrift to the foul is the im-
mediate aft of the Father, [Matt. xvi. 17.) Being re-
conciled to them by the blood of his Son, he reconciles
them to himfelf, by giving them pardon and forgivenefs,
without which they cannot come to glory. He is in
Chrifl reconciling us to himfelf, by the non-imputation
or forgivenefs of our fins, * forgiving us all our trefpaffes
' for Chrifl's fake,' [Ephef. iv. 2.] He quickens them
and fanftifies them by his Spirit, to make them * meet for
' the inheritance of the faints in light ;' that is, for the
enjoyment of glory. He that raifed up Jefus from the
dead, quickens us by his Spirit, [Rom. viii. 2.] As the
great Father of the family he adopts them, and makes them
his fons, heirs and co-heirs with Chrifl, [Rom. viii.
14 — 17.] fending into their hearts the fpirit of adoption,
enabling them to cry, jibba Father, [Gal. iv. 6.] As the
whole right of adopting children is in the Father, fo is
the authoritative tranflation of them out of the world and
kingdom of Satan into his own family and houfehold,
with their invefliture in all the rights and privileges there-
of. In brief, in bringing the eleft to glory, all the fovc-
rcign afts of power, wifdom, love, and grace, exerted
therein, are peculiarly afligned to the Father, as all m'lnlfie-
r'lal ads are to the Son as mediator. So th:.t there is no
reafon why he might not be faid, by way of eminencv, to
be the {dyoyivc) * the leader' or bringer of his fons to

§ 8. And herein lies a great direftion to believers, and

a great fupport for their faith. Peter tcl'3 us, that by

Chrifl we do * believe in God that raifed him from the

' dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope may

2 ' be


• be in God,* [I. Pet. i. 21.] Jcfus ChriH: confidercd as
mediator is the Ktxt, but not the ultimate objc£t of our
faith and hope. We fo believe ia him, as h him to be-
lieve in God the Father, whofe love is tlie fupreme foun-
tain and fpring of our falvation ; which tlie apoillc mani-
fefts in that double inflancc of his * rrafing up Chriil:,'
and ' giving of him glory ;* thereby declaring himfclf the
principal author of the great work of his mediation. This
he directs us to, fo to believe in Chrift, as that, difcern-
ing through him the grace, good-vrill, and love of the
Father himfelf towards us, we may be encouraged to fix
our faith and hope upon him, feeing he himfelf lovcth us.
So that Chrift himfelf had no need to pray for the love of
the Father towards us, but only for the communication
of the eifefts of it, [John xvi. 26, 27.] And we thus
place our faith in God the Father, when we conceive of
him as the fovereign leader of us to glory, by all the in-
ftances before-mentioned. And then doth faith reft in
him with delight, complacency, and fatisfaftion.

§ 9. (II.) There is in thefe words intimated the prin-
cipal means that God fixed on for the accomplifhment of
this woi^dcrful delign ; it was by * appointing a captain of

* their falvation.* The Jews generally granted, that the
MelTiah was to be the captain of their falvation ; but mif-
undcrftanding that falvation, they alfo miftook the whole
nature of his office. The apoftle here evidently compares
Chrift to Jofhua, the captain and leader of the people into
Canaan. All the fons of God are put under his conduct
and guidance, as the people of old were under the rule of
Jolhua, to bring them into the glory promifedthem in the
covenant made with Abraham. And he is called their
(cipX'^yog) prince, ru.'tr, and captain, or the author ot their
falvation, becaufe of his authority and right to rule over
them in order to their falvation ; his a^ual cmduiling of
tlu-m by his example, fpirit, and grace, through all the
difficulties of their warfare, and as he procured falvation
for them. So that the cxpreffion denotes both hisacqui-
fition of falvation itfelfand his conduct in leading the peo-
ple of God to the ciijoyuKnt of it. And the Holy Ghoft



hereby alfo intimates, that the way whereby God will
bring the fons to glory, is full of difficulties, perplexi-
ties, and oppofitions, (as that of the Ilraelites into Canaan
alfo was) fo that they have need of fuch a captain and
guide as Chrift is to infure their fucccfs. They only
perifh in the wildcrncfs, and die in their iins, who,
cither out of love to the flefli pots of Egypt, the plea-
fures of this world, or being terrified with the hardihips
of the warfare which he calls them to, refufe to go up
under his vidorious banner and command.

§ 10. (III.) There is exprelTed in thefe words the
fpecial way whereby God qualified the Lord Chrift for
this arduous office. To underftand this aright, we muft
recolle6l, that the apoftle fpeaks not here of the * re-

* demption' of the ele(fl abfolutely, but of ' bringing

* them to glory,' when they are made fons in an efpecial
manner ; and therefore he treats not abfolutely of the
defignation and confecration of Chrift for his office of
mediator in general, but with refpe£t to that one party and
the execution of it, as Jofhua lead the Ifraelites into Ca-
naan. This will help to explain what «^? of God to-
wards the Lord Chrift is intended in this phrafe (ts^sicajo-oh
u'jjov ^icc 7ra,9/}^.ulocv) * to perfect him through fufferings.
The word (tiXhm(tcci) in this place fignifies to confecratCy
to dedicate, to fancfify for an office, or fome fpecial part or
a£l of an office. This is the proper meaning of the
word. Hence the ancients called baptifm (T:-\s:^'/jg) con-
fecration to the facrcd fervice of Chrift. Nor is this word

ufed in any other fenfe in this whole epiftle, wherein it
is often ufcd, when applied to Chrift, [fee chap. v. 9.
chap. vii. 28.] And thus was the ufe of the word
among the heathen, fignifying the initiation and confecra-
tion of a man into the myfteries of their religion, to be ^
leader unto others. The Lord Chrift muft be confecrra-
ted by his own fufferings and the lacrifice of himfelf.

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