John Owen.

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

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§ I I. (iV.) There remains yet to be confidered, the
reafon why the captain of our falvation was to be confc-
crated by his fufferings ; ' It became God fo to deal with
" him.' Which he amplifies by that dcfcription of him,

Vol. II. JB b ' Vox


* For whom are all things, and by whom arc all things.'
This (to TTpcTTOv) hccdmhigncfs^ whatever it be, arifeth
hence, that God is he ' for whom arc all things, and by

* whom arc all things.* It became him a^ he is fo, and

bccaufe he is lb. 'J'here is no alTignablc reafon for this

additional confideration of God in this matter, but as it

expreiies the caufc why it became him to do what is here

afcribed to him. Now the dclcription of God in thcfc

words, is plainly of him as the firil caufe and lafl end of

all things ; the governor, ruler, and judge, with refpeft

to that order and law of their creation which all things

were to obfcrve. And this government of all things,

taking care that as they are of Gcr!^ lb they fliould ht: for

lum, is what tlie apollle principally refpeds. Therefore

it became God, as the governor, ruler, and judge of all

things, to conlecrate Jefus Chriil by his iulferings ;

whicli mufi: be farther explained.

§ 12. Man being made an intelligent creature, had a
rule of moral obedience given him. 'J'his he was to ob~ ^
fcrve to the glory of his Creator and Law-giver, as the
condition of his continued favour. But how man, hav-
ing broken the law of his creation, and tlierein come
fhort of the glory of God, might be made again partaker
of it, is the grand inquiry. God can be no otherwifc
confidered but as the fupreme governor and judge ; and
that property of his nature which he exerted principally
in this Hate of things, was (jufiitla rcghjiuns) ' the righ-

* teoufnefs of his government.' And this righteoufncfs
is that on account of which it w^as meet for him, or * it

* became him' to bring the fons to glory by the fufFerings
of the captain of their fiilvation ; it was juft, equal, and
therefore indifpenfably nccelfary that he Ihoi^ld do fo.
Suppofing that man, created in the image of God, capa-
b'e of yielding obedience, according to the law concreatcd
with him, and written in his heart, which obedience was
his being morally yi?;- (7c//, as he was from h:m\ fuppo-
fing, moreover ,that he by fin had broken this law, and
fo was no longer for God, according to the prmiitivc
order and law of his creation ; fuppohng alfo, notwith-

I Hand-


ftanding all this, that God in his infinite grace and love
intended to bring fome of thefe fallen creatures to the en-
joyment of himfelf, and by a new appointment to bj for
Iiim again : luppoiing, 1 fay, thefe things, which are all
liere fuppofed by our apoille, and were grnntcd by the
Jews, ' it became the juftke of God,' tliat is, it was fo
juft, right, and meet, that the Judge of all the world,
who doth right, could no otherwife do, than caufe him
him who was to be the means and author of this recovery
of men to a new condition, to fufFer in their ftead. For
whereas the vindlSIivc jujiice of God, which is the refpedl
of the univerfal reftitude of his holy nature to the devia-
tion of his rational creatures from the law of their Crea-
tion, requircd^ — that, at any rate, the deviation fhould
be revenged — and that themfelves be either brought i^nto
a new way of being for God, or elfe made to glorify him
by their fufFcrings, when they had refufed to do fo by-
obedience ; it was ncccjfary, I fay, on that account, that
if they were to be delivered from that condition, the
Divine author of their deliverance fliould fuifer for them.
§ 13. And this excellently fuits the defign of the apof-
tle, which is to prove the necefTity of the fulferings of the
Meffiah, which the Jews fo Humbled at. For if the
jiifticc of God required that it fhould be fo, how could it
be difpenfed with ? Would they have God unjufl ? Shall
he forego the glory of his righteoufnefs and holincfs, to
pleafe them in their prefumption and prejudices ? It is
true, indeed, if God had intended no falvation for his
fons but one that was temporal, like that of old under
Jofliua, there had been no need at all of the fufFcrings of
the captain of their falvation. But they being fucli, as
in themfelves had finned, and come fliort of the glory of
God, and the falvation intended tlicm bc'ng fpiritual,
confining in a nev/ ordering of them for (jod. and the
bringing of them to the eternal enjoyment of himfelf in
glory, there was no way to maintain the honour nnd juf-
tice of Jehovah but by the Redeemer's meritorious f.iuer-
ings. And as here lay the great miftake of the Jews, fo
the denial of this f^/.'^^rn/f)' of God's juflice, as to""thc fuf-
E b a fcrings.


fcrings of the McfTiah, is the (tt^^ujIo-j -^ivlcg) * maflcr
' error' of the Socinians. The apolllc fays not, that it
became an arbitrary decree of God, but it became him-
fclf as the fuprcme ruler and judge of all ; and herein wc
have with our apoftle difcovcred the great indifpenfablc
Ziwdi fundamental caufc of the fufferings of Chrift.

§ 14. Ohf. I. That the whole work of faving the fons
of God from firft to laft, their guidance and conduct to
glory, is committed to the Lord Jcfus : whence he is con-
llantly to be eyed by all believers in the concernments of
their faith, obedience, and confolation. * Behold,' faith
the Lord, * I have given him for a witnefs to the people,

* a leader and commander to the people, [Ifa. Iv. 4.] A
iv'ityiefs, to teftify the truth, in revealing the mind and will
of God ; a leader, going before them as a prince and cap-
tain, as the word fignifics, and a commander^ that gives out
laws and rules for their obedience. God hath fct him as
a lord over his whole houfe, [chap. iii. 5.] and commit-
ted all the management of its momentous concerns to him.
There is no perfon but is under his rule and infpe£\ion ;
neither is there any circumftance that relates to thefc

* fons,' in their pafTage towards glory, whereby they may
be advanced or hindered in their way, but the care thereof
is committed to Chrift, as the care of the whole army
lies on the general or prince of the hofl. If This the pro-
phet fets out in his type, Eliakim, [Ifa. xxii. 20 — 24.]

* He is fattened as a nail in a furc place ; and all the glory

* of the houfe, and every veflel of it, from the grcateil

* unto the leail, is hanged on him,' the weight of all, the
care of all, is upon him. // When the people came out of
Egypt with Mofes they were numbered unto him ; and he
being the adminiftrator of the law, they all died in the wiU
dernefs ; but they were delivered again by tale and num-
ber to Jofhua, the type of Chrift ; and not one of them
failed entering into Canaan. And,

§ 15. As to the manner in which Chrifl:, as the faitli-
ful captain of fiilvation, difchargeth this truil, it is with
care — tendcmcfs — and power. — fHtb care and tx-atchful-
nrj's. Oh, iiow great an encouragement is this to adhere



to him, and to follow him in the whole courfe of our
obedience ! This puts life into foldiers and gives them a
happy fecurity, when they know their commander is con-
tinually careful of them. — PFith tenderncfs and love. In-
deed Sion is ready fometimcs to complain, that fhe is

* forgotten.* The ' fons,' in the great xdifcrefTcs, affliftionj,
perfecutions, and temptations, that may befai them in
their way to glory, are apt to think they are difregardcd,
that they are left, as it were, to fhift for themfelvcs, and to
wreftic with their difficulties by their own flrength and
wifdom, which they know to be a thing of nought. But
this fear is vain and ungrateful ; for whilfl they arc
found in the ivay following the captain of their falvation, it
is utterly impoffible that his watchfulnefs and care, love
and tcndcrnefs, fhould in any inftance be wanting. IVith
power, authority y and majcfty. [Mic. v. 4.] * He fhall

* ftand and rule in the flrength of the Lord, in the ma-

* jelly of the name of the Lord his God, and they fhall
*■ abide.' There is nothing fo high, fo great, fo mighty,
that lies in the way of his dependent followers, but it muft
Hoop to his authority, and give place to his power The
whole kingdom of Satan, the flrong-holds of fin, the high
imaginations of unbelief, the ftrength and malice of the
world, all fink before him. And thence they are dc-
fcribcd io glorious and fuccefsful in their way, [Mic. ii.
13-] * The breaker is come up before them, they have

* broken up and paiTed through the gate, and arc gone

* out by it, and their king fhall pafs before them, and the
' Lord on the head of them.' Many obflacles lie in
their way, but they fhall break through them all, becaufc
of their king and lord who goes before them. And
though their fufferings and difficulties may fomewhat tar-
niih or retard their outward profeffion, yet they fhall not
in the leafl hinder them in their real progrefs towards glorv.
Their captain goes before them with power and authority,
and breaks up all the obllru6lions that lie in their way,
and gives them a free and abundant entrance into the
kingdom of God, even their God and Father.

§"16. M


§ 1 6. As the manner, fo the a^ls of this divine aiitc-
ccflbr niav be confiderccl. He goes before them — guides
and dircds them — fuppiics them with ftrcngth — fubducs
their enemies — avenges their fufferings — and provides a

1. He goes before them. This is principally the dutv
of a captain or leader, to go before his fold'icrs. Hence
they that went to war, were faid of old to * go at the feet*
of their com nanders, [Judg. iv. lO.] * Barak went up

* and ten thoufand men at his feet,* that is, followed
him,, going where he went before them. And this alfo
became the captain of the Lord's hofts, even to go before
his people in their whole way ; not putting them on any
^ntcrprize or hardfhip through which himfclf palTed not
before them. As to obedience ; he himfelf was made under
the law, and learned obedience, fulfilling all rightcoufnefs.
Though he was in his own perfon above the law, yet he
fubmitted himfelf to every law of God, and righteous
Jaw of men ; that he might afford a complete example to
thofc who are of nccelfitv fubjed to the law. ' Chrift,*
faith Peter, ' hath fuffered for us, leaving us an example

* that we fliould follow his fleps ;' that is, be ready and
prepared patiently to fufFer when we are called thereunto,
as he explains himfclf, chap. iv. * Forafmuch as Chrift

* hath fuifered for us in the liclh, arm vourfelves, thcre-

* fore, with the fame mind,' that you may follow him in
the fame wav. And this our apoftle prclTeth much in this
cpiftle, [chap. xii. 2, 3.] ' Looking unto Jcfus the author

* and finilhcr of our faith, who for the joy that was fet be-

* fore him, endured the crofs, defpifing the ihamc;* for

* confidcr him that endured fuch contradi6^ion of fmners

* againft himfclf, left ye be wearied and faint in your

* minds.' The fons of God are fomctimcs ready to think
it flrange, that thcv Hiould fall into calamity and diftrcfs,
and are apt to fay with Hezekiah, * Remember, O Lord,

* wc bcfccch thee, how we have walked before thee in

* trutli, and with an upright heart, and have done that

* which is good in thy fight, and weep fore ;' fuppofing
tliis mi^ht ha\c freed thciu from oppolitions and periecu-

tions ;


tioiis ; and, as Gideon, though the angel told him that

* the Lord was with him,' they exclaim, * Whence is all

* this evil come upon us ?' For, notwithflanding many-
favourable tokens, yet if their troubles continue, if they
are not in their feafon removed, they begin to be * weary

* and faint in their minds.' But, faith the apoflle, con-
fider the captain of your falvation, he hath fetyou a dif-
ferent example ; notwithflanding all his fufferings he
fainted not. The Jews have a faying, that * the third
' part of affliclions and troubles that fliall be in the world,

* belong to the Meffiah.' But our apoftle, who knew
better than they, makes all the afflictions of the church,
to be ' the affliftions of Chrift,' [Col. i. 24.] who both
before underwent them in his own perfon, and led the
way for all that fliould follow him. And as the obedience
ot Chriit, which is our pattern, doth incomparably exceed
whatever we can attain to ; fo the fufferings of Chrifl,
which are our example, did incomparably exceed all that
they fhall be called to endure. Our pattern is excellent,
inimitable in the fubiLance and parts of it ; unattainable
and inexprcfiible in its degrees ; and he is the befl profi-
cient who makes the nearefl advances to it. But what is
the end of all this obedience, and all thefe fufferings ?
Does not death lie at the door, as the ocean whcreinto all
thefe flreams run, and feem to fwallow them up, as loft
for ever? No ; for this captain of our falvation is gone
before us in paffing through death, and entering into glory.
He hath fliewed us in his own refurre£lion, that great pledge
of our immortality, that death is not the end of our
courfe, but a pajjage to another more abiding condition.
He promifeth, that whofoever believeth on him, they
fliall not be lofl:, or pcrilh, or be confumcd by death,
but that he will raife them up at the lall day, [John vi.
39, 40,] But how Ihall this l:>e confirmed to them? Death
looks dreadful and ghafily, as a lion that devoureth all
tliat comes within his reach : why faith Chrifl, Behold
me, entering his jaws, paffing through his power, rifing
from under his dominion ; and, fear not, fo fliall it be
Vi^ith you alfo. The captain of our falvation, after he



had fufTcrcd * entered into glory i' and that as our leader^
or forerunner, [Heb. vi. 20.] He is gone before us, to
give us the highcll: evidence v^rhat is the final ifTue of our
obedience and fufFerings. In all this he is a captain and
leader to the Tons of God.

§ 17. 2. He guides and dirc6ls them in their way.
They know not the way that leads to happincfs and glory ;
and they want ability to difccrn it aright, when it is Ihcwed
them ; and in both they are relieved and allifted by their
glorious leader. In the firfl by his word ; in the latter by
his Spirit. Had there been any thing belonging to their
way which he had not revealed to them, he had not been
their perfect captain of falvation. And men do nothing
but prefumptuoufly derogate from his glory, who will be
adding and impofing their prefcriptions about this way.
He gives them eyes to fee, as well as provides paths for
them to walk in. It had been to no purpofe to have de-
clared the way, if he had not alfo given them light to
fee it. And by this means he is to us, what he was to
the church in the wildcrnefs, when he went bcfor6
them in * a pillar of fire,' to guide them in their way,
and to fliew them v>'hcre they lliould reft. And herein
lies no fmall part of the difcharge of our Lord's office to-
wards us, as the captain of our falvation. \\ hatever
acquaintance we have with the way to glory, we have it
from him alone ; and whatever ability we have to difcerii
the way, he is the fountain and author of it. For thefe
encouraging purpofes, was he defigned and called. And
tloth not he dcfcrvedly wander, yea defervedly perifh ;
who in war will negle£l the orders and dire£lions of his
general, and yet will attend to every idle tale of filly men
pretending to fliew him a way that they have found out,
better than that which his captain hath defcribed for
Jiini ?

§ 18. 3. He fupplics them with 7?;r;/r//j by his grace,
that they may be able to pafs on their way. Th«y have
much work iving before them ; much to do, much to
fufftr ; and without him they can do nothing, [John
XV. 5.] \\'hereforc he watchcth over them, * to fuccour

' thcm^


' them that arc arc tempted,' [Heb. il. 18.] and to ad-
minifter help to them all * in time of need,' [chap. I v. 17.]
And lience they who have ' no might,* no fufficiency,
can ' do all things through Chrift t]\2LtJlrengthcmth them,'
[Phil. iv. 13.] Nothing is too hard for them, nothing
can prevail againft them, becaufe of the conftant fupplies
of grace, which the captain of their faivation communi-
cates unto them. And this makes the ways of the gofpel
marvellous, both to the world and to believers tliemfelvcs.
// is marvellous to the world. Their life is ' hid with Chriil

* in God,' [Col. iii. 3.] And they have * a new name that

* no man knoweth,' [Rev ii. 17.] The world feeing poor,
mean, weak, contemptible creatures, willing, ready, and
able to fuffcr, to endure, and even to die for the name
of Chrifl, ftand afloniflicd, not knowing where their great
flrcngth lies; as the Philiftines did at the might of Sam-
fon, whom they beheld with their eyes, as an other man.
He gives them the fpirit o( truth, which the world neither
fees nor knows, [John xiv. 17.] and therefore wonders
from whence they have their ability and conflancy. They
cry, What, will nothing turn thefe poor fooliHi creatures
off their way ? They try them one way, and then an-
other ; add one weight of afPiiclion and oppreffion unto
another, and think furely this will effecl: their defign ; but
they find themfelves deceived, and know not whence it is.
// is marvellous to believers themfelves. When they confider
their own frailty and wxaknefs, how ready they are to
faint, how often they are furprifed, and withal take a prof-
pc£t of what oppofition lies againft them, from indwel-
ling fin, Satan, and the w^orld, which they are acquaint-
ed with, in feveral inftances of their power and preva-
lency, they neither know how they arc kept lb long in
their courfe as they have done ; nor how they fhall con^
tinue : but they arc relieved when they come to the gof-
pel. There they fee whence their prefervation proceeds.
They fee this captain of their faivation in whom is the
fulnefs of the Spirit, and to whom are committed all the
flores of grace, fupplying them daily and hourly as the
pnatter requires. As the captain in an army doth not at

Vol. 1L C c once


once give out to his foldiers the whole provifiou that is
needful for their way and undertaking ; which if he
Ihould, moll of them would foon imprudently wafte it,
and fo quickly perilh for want ; but he keeps provilious
for them all in his ll:ores, and diflributes to them accord-
ing to their daily nccefTities ; even fo deals this great lea-
der with the fons of God. He keeps the itores of grace
and fpiritual flrcngth in his own hand; and from thence
imparts unto them according as they ftand in need.

§ 19. 4. Wt fubducs their enemies. Many enemies they
have, and unlefs they are conquered and fubdued they can
never enter into glory. Satan, the world, death, and
fni are the chief, or heads of them, and all thcfe are fub-
dued by Chrifl: ; and tliat two ways ; in his own perfon
for them — and by his grace in them. In his own perfon for
them ; for they all attempted him, and failed in their en-
terprize, [John xiv. 30.] He * bruifcd the ferpent's head.'
[Gen. iii. 15.] and ' deflroyed him that had the powder of

* death, that is, the devil.* Deflroyed his power in a glo-
rious and triumphant manner. * He fpoiled principalis

* ties and powers, and made a flicw of them openly,

* triumphing over them in his crofs.' He alfo overcome
the worU^ []^^^^^ xvi. 33.] ' Be of good cheer,' faith
he, * I have overcome the world.' Both itfelf and the
prince of it were put under his feet. Death alfo w^as fub-
dued by him ; he fwallowed it up in vidory, [I. Cor.
XV. 54.] He plucked out the tyrant's fting, broke his
power, difannullcd his peremptory law, when he fliook
it off, and rofc from under it. Sin alfo fet upon him in
his temptations, but was utterly foiled ; as all lin is de-
•ftroyed in its very being, where it is not obeyed. And
this was for the advantage of the fons of God. For
he hath given them encouragement in fhcvving them
that their enemies are not invincible, their power is not un-
controlablc, their law not peremptory or eternal, but
that having been once conquered, they may be the more
cafjly dealt with. They know alfo, that all thcfe enemies
fct upon his perfon as the great defender of the faith-
ful in their quarrel , To that although they were not con-


quercd by them in their own perfons, yet they were con-
quered in their caufe ; and they are called in to be fliarers
in the viftory, although they were not engaged in the
battle. They moreover know, that he fubdued them by
God's ordinance and appointment, as their reprejhitatlvef
declaring in his perfon who is the head, what fhould be
accomplifhed in every one of his members. And by his
perfonal conqueft over them, he hath left them weak,
maimed > difarmed and utterly deprived of that power which
they had to hurt and dellroy before he engaged with them.
For he hath thereby deprived them of all their right and
title to cxercife their enmity againfl, or dominion over the
fons of God. Before his dealing with them, they had
a certain right over mankind. Satan to rule, the world
to vex, lin to enflave, death to deftroy, and give up its
prey to hell. And all this right was enrolled in the law
and hand- writing of ordinances which was againfl us.
This was cancelled by Chrifl, nailed to the crol'^, never
to be pleaded more, [Col. ii. 14.] And when they have
loft their right and title to any thing, whatever their
llrength be, they are greatly weakened. But he hath
lierein deprived them of their ftrength alfo. He took,
away the ftrength of fin as a law, and the fting of death
in fin, the arms of the world in the curfe, and the power
of Satan in his works and ftrong-holds.

§ 20. But this is not all; he not only fubducs thcfc
enemies yi?r thcm^ but alfo by his grace in them, * Thanks

* be to God,' faith the apoftlc,' who giveth us the vic-

* tory by Jefus Chrift,* [I. Cor. xv. 57.] He enables us
ill our own perfons to conquer all thefe enemies. ' Nay/
faith he, * in all thefe things we are more than con-

* querors, [Rom. viii. 37.] becaufe we have more af-
furancc of fuccefs, more affiftance in the conflict, more
joy in the trial, than any other conquerors have : or,
we do not only conquer, but triumph alfo. He tells be-
lievers, in reference to Saian^ that they have * overcome

* the wicked one,' [I. John ii. 13, 14.] And fhews how
it came to pafs that they lliould be able to do fo, [chap.
iv. 7.] It is becaufe * greater is he that is in them, than

C c 2 * he


* he that is m the world/ The good fpirit which he hath
given tlicm for their help and aillilance, is infinitely
greater and more powerful than that evil fpirit which
rules in the cliildrcn of difobedicnce. And by this
means is Satan bruifed even under their feet. A conliicl
indeed we mull have with them ; we muft wreftlc v.ith
principalities and powers in heavenly places, but the fuc-
ccfs is indubitable through the alhilance we receive from
this captain of our falvation. The zvor/d is alfo fubducd
in them and by them, [1. John v. 4.] ' Whofocver is

* born of God overcometh the world, and this is the vic-
' tory that overcometh the world, even our faith.' Faith
will effctftually and infallibly do this work ; it never
fsiled in it, and never will. He that bclieveth Ihall over-
come ; the whole flrength of Chrift is engaged for him.
Sin is the woril and moil obftinate of all their enemies.
This puts them hard to it in the battle, and makes them
cry out for aid and help, [Pvom. vii. 24.] But againil this
alfo they receive llrength, fo as to carry the day. As
to its reign and dominion it is perfeftiy defeated for the
prefent, [Rom. vi. 14.] The means of its rule is the
authority of the law over us ; that being removed, and
our iouls put under the condutSl of grace, the reign of
iln comes to ?n end. Nor Ihall it condemn us, [Rom.
viii. I.] And what caii it then do? Where is the voice
of this opprellor ? It abides, (O reviving thought!) it
abides but for a Ihort fcafon, and that to endure and die.
Death alfo contends againfl us by its own fting, and our
tear ; but the former^ by the grace of Chrill, is taken
from it; the latter \\c arc delivered from, and fo have the
vidory over it. And all tiiis is the work of the ciptain

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