John Owen.

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

. (page 2 of 46)
Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

( I .) Not receiving the Spirit by meafure, [John iii.34.]
as all other prophets did, he had a perfect comprehenlion
of the whole mind and will of God, as to the myflery of
our falvation, and the duty he would require of his church.
It pleafed the Father that in him all fulncfs fliould dwell,
[Col. i. 19.] a fulnefs of grace and truth, [John i. 17.] —
not a tranhent irradiation, but a permanent fulnefs; all
treafurcs of wifdom and knowledge being hid in him as
their proper dwelling-place. Hence the reafoii why he
did not at once reveal to his difciplcs the whole counfel of
God, was not becaufc all the treafures of it were not com-
mitted to him, but becaufe they could bear no other than
that gradual communication tlicreof, which he afi'orded
them, [John xvi. 12.] He himielf dwelt in the midljt
of thofe trcafuies, and, however unfathomable by others,
lie faw to the bottom of them.

(2.) The prophets receiving their revelation as it were
by number and meafure from the Holy (jhoft, could not
add one word of infallibility and authority to what thvy had
fo received , but Chrift having all the treafurcs ot wifdom,
knowledge, and truth, lodged in himfelf, dclivcrcil his
oracles, at all times, and in all places, with equal infalli-
bility and authority, and what he fpakc derived its whole
authority from him fpeaking it, and not from its conio-
nancy to what was otherwife revealed.

(3.) The prophets of old were fo barely indrumcntal
in receiving and revealing the will of God, being only



fcrvants in the houfe for the good of others, that they faw
not to the bottom of the things by themfelves revealed ;
and therefore diligently read and Itudied the books of pre-
ceding prophets, [Dan. ix. 2.] and meditated upon their
own predictions, to obtain an underftanding in them,
[I. Pet. i. 10 — 12.] But the Lord Jefus, the Lord over
his own houfe, had an abfolute, perfed comprehenfioii
of all the myileries he reveakd.

(4.) The difference was no lefs between them in refpe£t
of the revelations themfelves. For although the fubftance
of the will and mind of God concerning falvation by the
Meffiah, was more or lefs made know^n to all the pro-
phets, yet it was done fo obfcurely, that they came all Hiort,
in the light of that glorious myllery, to John the Baptifl:,
who yet was inferior, as to a clear and diilinc'^ apprehenlion
of it, to the leaft of the two difciples of Chriil, [Matt. xi.
1 1.] and the giving of the law by Mofes to inllruCt the
church in that myitery, by its types and fliadows, is op-
pofed to that grace and truth which were brought by Jefas
Chriit, [John i. 17, 18.]

§ 15- (3.) Wemufl further obferve, that the Jews with
whom the apoftle had to do, had an expedation of a fig-
nal and final revelation of the will of God to be made by
the Mefliah in the lail: days of their church and ftate, and
not as they now fondly imagine, of the world. Hence it
is laid down as a principle (in Neve Jhalom) " Mefliah the
king Ihali be exalted above Abraham, be high above
Mofes, yea, and the miniftring angels.'' And it is for
the exellency of the revelation made by him that he is
thus exalted above Mofes. Whence Maimonides him-
felf acknowledgeth, (Tra^at, de reg'ibus) •* That at the
coming of the Mefliah, hidden and deep things (/. c. of
the counfel of God) fhall be laid open to all." And this
perfuafion they built on a promife of a new covenant to
be made with them, not like the covenant made wirh their
fathers, [Jercm. xxxi. 32, 32.] From all thcfc obferva-
tions we may evidently perceive, wherein the force of the
apoftle's prefent argument lies ; which he rather infinuatcs
from their own principles, than openly prefling them with'




its rcafon, which laft mode he afterwards more conveni-
ently adopts.

§ I 6. (4.} Having declared the Son to be the immediate
rcvcalcr of the gofpel, he proceeds to affcrt his glory and
exccilcncv, botli antecedent to his mediatorial otfice, and
what he received upon his invclliture therewith. I'wo
things in the clofc of this verfe are aifigned to him. — That
he was appointed heir of all — and by him the worlds were

§ 17. (i.) He was appointed (xKy,pc>ciJicc) hdr of all.
KKrccg is a lot, and a peculiar portion received by lot ;
thence it fignilies an inheritance, which is a man's lot and
portion. Stridly it is the fame with hi^rcs, an heir. —
And an heir generally is, " he who entercth into the
right, place, and title of him that is deceafcd, as if he were
tlie fame perfon." But yet the name of an heir is not re*
ftraimd m law to him who fucceeds a dfccafcd pcrfon, in
which fenfe it can have no place here,) but alfo compre-
hends ^LpoJfcJJor, atrullee, and a legatary. Nor is the title
and right given to the Son as incdiator, the fame with tliat
of God abfolutely confidered. ^his is eternal, natural, co-
cxiftcnt with the being of all things; that is new, created
by grant and donation ; by whofe eredion and eflablilh-
mcnt, neverthelefs, the other is not at all impeached. For
whereas it is affirmed, that the Father judgeth no man, but
hath committed all judgement to the Son, [John v. 22,
27, 30.] it rcfpecls not title and rule, but aftual adminif-

^ I 8. As the term {KkYtOcg) denotes any rightful poflllTor
by grant from another, it is properly afcribed to the Son;
and there arc three things intended in this word :

(l.) Title, domii\ion, lordlhip ; (hares cji qui hcrus \)
** the heir is the lord of that which he is heir unto ," fo
the apoftic, [Gal. iv. 1.] the heir is Lord of all. And ia
this fenfe isChrift called the firfl-born, [Pfalm lxxxix.27.]
* I will give him to Ix; my firfl-born, higher than (or
high above) ' ihe kings of the earth.*

(2.) Vofj'cjjicn. Chrift is made a£\ual poffefTor of that
which lie hath title to, by the furrcndcr or gr^nt of ana-


- Vj£r. I, 2. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. . li

then God, in refpecH: of his dominion, is called the ab-
folute polfjlTor ot heaven and earth, [Gen. xiv. 22.]
Chrilt, as a mediator, is a pollelfor by grant, and there
was a fuitablenefs, that he who was the Son Ihould thus
be heir. Whence Chrysostom and I'heoimiyl act
affirm, that the words denote " the propriety of his fon-
fliip; and the immutability of his lordfhip." Not that he
was then made heir of all, as he was {^o\oy3y/,g) the only
begotten Son of the Father, [John i. 144] but it was meet
that he who was ctcrnallv^ iuch, and had on that account
an ablblute dominion over all with his I'ather, Ihould be-
come the firll-born amoiig many brethren : ihould have a
delegated heirfliip of all, and be appointed ' head over all
* to the church :" [Ephef. i. 2 2. J

(3.) That he hath both this title and poileiTion by ^-rant
from the Father ; by virtue of which grant he is madi-
Lord bv a new title, and hath poflcffion given him ac-

§ 19. He is the Lord [ttocTIjov) of all. This is the
object of Melliah's heirlhip ; that his extenlive inheri-
tance. The word may be taken either in the mafculine
gender, and denote all pcrfons ; or in the neuter, deno-
ting, abfolutely, all things. And it is this latter itnfe
that fuits the apoillc's argument, and adds a double force
to his deflgn. For,

I. The author of tlie gofpel being heir and T-ord of
all things univerfally, the fovereign difpofer of all thoie
rites and ordinances of worfliip, about which the Jews
contended, miiil needs be at his difpofal, to cliange and
alter them as he thought proper. And hence it was eafy
for them to conclude, that if thev intended to be made
partakers of any good in heaven or earth, in love and
and mercy, it mult be by an interell in him ; which yet
without conAant obedience to his gofpel cannot be at-
tained. 2. This fenfe is evinced from the words imme-
diately following, ' Rv whom alfo he made the worlds.'
Probably they render a reafon of the equitahlenefs of this
great truft repofcd in the Son. He made all, and there-
Vol. n. D fore.



fore it w.In' meet lie flioiild be Lord of all. However,
the force of tlic word is equal to the term {cii(Aj;ccg) u-'orlds.
§ 20. Upon the creation of man, God gave him a
dominion over all things in this lower world. (Gen. i.
28, 29.) He made him his heir, vicegerent and fiibUi-
tute on earth. And as for the other creatures, to which
his power and authority did not immediately extend, iis
the whole inanimate holl of the fuperior world, they
were ordered by him that made them to ferve for his good.
[Gen. i. 14. Deut. iv. 19.] Butbcfides the lower part of his
dominion, God had for his glory created angels in heaven
above. Thefe made up another branch of God's provi-
dential kingdom ; the whole, notwithilanding, the upper
and lower world, bemg independent of each other, and
meeting in nothing but their fubjedlion to God himfelf.
When man fell from his delegated dominion, all things
returned to an immediate, abfolute dependence on the
government of God. But as the fall of angels did not,
in its own nature, prejudice mankind ; no more did this
fall of man the angels, that perfifted in their obedience,
they being no part of his inheritanee. However, by the
iipollacy and punilhment of thole angels, that kept not
th'jir firft flation, it was manifcfted how pofhble it wa^
tliat the remainder of thejn mav fin after the fimilitude
of their tranfgreirion. Things being brought into this
condition ; ojic branch of the kingdom of God, that which
had been under the adminii^ration of man and allotted to
\\\^ fcrvice, being call out of that order wherein he had
placed it ; and the other in an apparent polfibility of bc-
ifig fu alio ; it feemed good to the Lord in his infinite
Wifdum, to ere6l one kingdom out of thefe two difordercd
members of his firft dominion, and to appoint one com-
tr.ofi hrir Lord and ruler of them both. [Ephef i. 10.]
' He gathered together in one all things in Chrift, both

* which arc in the heavens, and which arc in earth, even

* in Iiim.*

§ 21. (:.) Tlic way whereby Chrift the Son came to
hh inheritance is exprclfcd by ('^;;>cf) he hath nppointrJ.
Which denotes, in this connexion, ** The glorious in-



vcftiture of the Lord Mefliah in the full and a6lual pof-
fellion of his kingdom after his refurrcction, with the
manifcllation of it in his afcenfion, and the illuftrious
token of its liability in his fitting at the right hand of
Crod." The grant was actually made to him upon his re-
furre£lion ; [Matt, xxviii. 18.] and all was fealed and
ratified when he took pofleffion of his throne at the right
hand of the Father ; and in virtue hereof was he declared
to be " both Lord and Chriit/' [A6ls ii. 36. v. 31.]
And fuch weight do the fcriptures lay upon this glorious
invelliturc of Chriil in his inheritance, that they fpeak
of his whole power as then firfl granted him. [Rom,
xiv. 9. Phil. ii. 7. 10.] And the reafon of it is, becaufe
he had then a^ually performed that ftupendous work, on
account of which his mediatorial power and authority
were originally granted and eternally defigned. And it is
manifefl that he who is the Lord and heir of all things,
fpiritual, temporal, and eccieliaflical, muft needs have
power over all IVIofaical inftitutions as a part of his un-
rivalled jurifdiftion. — In fhort, God, in purfuit of the
fovereign purpofe of his will, hath granted the Son as
incarnate, and mediator of the new covenant, according
to the eternal counfel between them both, a fovereign
power over all things both in heaven and earth, with the
pofreffion of an abfolute proprietor, to difpofe of them at
his pleafurc, for the advancement of his proper and pe-
culiar work, ac head of his church.*

§ 22. (3.) i^y whom he made the worlds. The apoftle
in thefe words corroborates his prefent argument, from
another confideration of the perfon of the Mclhah, where-
in he alfo difcovers the foundation of the pre-eminence be-
fore defcribed to him. By him the worlds -zt.-r^ made ;
fo that they were his own, [John i. 11.] and it was meet
that, in the new condition which he underwent, he fhould
be Lord of them all. JVIoreovcr, if all things were tnade

* The demirable digrcffion " of the dominion or Lordfliip of
Chrift," (lands, in this edition, as the concluding prehniinar/

i% Vs • -rOSlTION OF THE Citap. I.

bv him, nil dil'olxiJiciicc to him is moil iinreafonablc,
and will bcnlttndcd with intvitahle ruin.

Tliat uliich fome nu-n design in their wrelling of tliis
placf, is to defeat the illuftrioiis teftimony herein given
to the eternal deity of t!ic Son of God, and to this pur-
pofc thcv proceed vai ioullv. *

§ 2^. The Ss.'hiinri generally lay no cxce})tion againfl
the perfon making, whom they ackimwledge to be the Son
Mtfluih, but to the world faid to be made. *' Thefe are
not, fay they, the thing*; of the old, but of the new crea-
tion ; not the fabrick of heaven and earth, but the con-
vcrfion of the fouls of men , not the Jiril inllitution and
forming of all things, but the relloration of mankind,

* Some aftirm that by (^i ^i) h; zvhom^ {ll "ov) for ivho?n is
intended. According to this expofition of the u ords, \ve have in
them an ex])rcJrion ot the love of (lod towards the Mtifiah, in that
for hii fide he made the worlds ; but not any thing of the excel-
lency, power, and glory of the Mclliah himfelf. But neither is it
pro\ ed that in an\ other place thefe exprelfions are cquipolkut ;
nor, if that could be fuppofed, is there any reafon oft'crcd ^\ hv
the one of them Ihould in this place be put for the other. For
the places ufually referred to, do no way prove that (^io.) with a
^enitk'c doth ever denote the firial caiifc, but the efiilcnt only.
As to Rom. vi. 4. be it obftr\ed, the cafe is not the faiue where
things^ as where perfons are i'poken of : » here relates to a perfon,
(whom) and yet is ^»» joined with it, aiferted by the objectors,
to denote the end of the things fpoken of, w hich is infolent. Be-
fidcs rVJ^a TCar^c.-:, in that place, is indeed the glorious po-wcr of the
Father's, the cflicient of the refurrection of Chrill treated of. So
that, whereas ^la is ufed, Jix hundred times with a genitiv e cafe
in the New Ttllnment, no one inilancc can be given, where it
many be rendered propu^r^ for, and therefore cnnnot be fo here.
But on fuj>pofiti()n that fome fuch inlVance might be produced,
yet being contrary to the conllant ufc of the word, fome cogent
reafon fron» the text wherein it is ufed, or the thing treated of,
inuO be urged, to give that {ai^xi admittance : and nothing of
Th:it nature tan be licrc pit adc d. Bclidcs, as ^» i , and u: ov, arc
tliilinginnuil, the one cxprefling tlu cflicient, the other the final
cauicj Rom. xi. 36. fo alio are they in this Ncry epillle, chap. ii.
10. ^l bf T-x wavTa, xal ^i h rec 'sroimK, * For li'hom are all things
•and h rvhom an- all things :* and is it likely that the apoftte
would put one of them tor the othci,\ tf» the |Mope! nfe
which he ir:e:u!> d niuiciliafely to allign icveiidly unto them r —
Aqain, 5/ •., here is the lainv wiih ^» otura, kj hi/rtj

johr» i. :. , -"V^bly ri^jiyli',? t!»e efi:icnt cattfc.


Ver.i,^. fiPISTLE to the HEBREWS. 19

and their tranflation into a new condition of life.'* To
this we reply,

1. The' only new creation granted by fuch pcrfons be-
ing nothing but a moral fwafion of men's minds, bv the
outward dodrine of the gofpcl, I know not what allufion
can be fancied in it to the creation of the world out of

2. I'he apofile fpeaks licre of the fame creation that
John treats of in the beginning of his gofpcl ; but that is
the creation of the whole world, and ail things contained
in it, it muil be granted, or we may well deipair of ever
underftanding one line of the facred oracles, or the com-
mon forms of fpeech.

The expreffion of ' planting the heavens,' and * Jav-

* ing the foundation of the earth,' [Ka. li. 17.] are plainly
allegor'icat^ as appears from the circumilance of time when
this is faid to be done, which was at the coming of Ifrael
out of Egypt ; when the heavens and the earth, pro-
perly fo called, could not be made, planted, founded, or
created. And is yet more evident from an adjoined ex-
polition of the allegory ; * I have put my words into

* thy mouth, and faid unto Sion thou art my people.'

§ 24. We may again conlider the reafons that prefent
themfelves from the context, for the removal of the in-
terpretation above fuggelled.

I. It fmks under its own wcaknefs and abfurdity. The
apoftle intendirjg to fet out the excellency of the Son of
God, affirms that by him ' the worlds were made;' that
is, fay thev, Chrift preaching the gofpel converted fouls
to tlie fiiitli, and many more were converted by the
apollle's preaching the fame docSliine, whence bleflrd
times of light and falvation enfucd. Who, not over-
powered with prejudice, could once imagine any fuch
meaning in tliefe words ? efpecially contidering that it is
as contrary to the delign of tlie apoAIe, as it is to the
import of tlie words themfelves. This is what Peter
calls, ' men's wrcfting the fcriptures to their own per*
f dipon.'

;2t Th«:


2. The apolllc writes dida£lically, exprelTing plainly
the matter wlicrcot" he fpcaks, in vvorJs ufual and proper.
To whnt end then fhould he ufe fo ilrained an allegory
in a point of do<ftrincs ; yea, a fundamental argument
of the religion he taaght ^ Echdes, the phrafc ' by whom

• he n.ade the worlds/ is no more in thefe men's apprc-
henfions, than, ' in him hath he fpokcn in thefe latter

• davs.' Nor is this mode of fpeaking any where ufcd,
not in the moll allegorical prophecies of the Old Telia*-
mcnt, to denote that which they would here wrefl it to
cxprefs. But * making ol the world,' llgnifies makiufr
the u-orld, in the whole fcripturc throughout, and nothing

3. The making of the worlds here intended, was a
thing pa/} {iTroiVia-'c) he made them, that is he did fo of
old ; and the fame word is ufed by the fcptuagint to ex-
prefs the old creation. But now that which the Jews
called the ** world to come," or the blefTed Hate of the
church tinder the Mclfiah, the apoflle fpeaks of, as of
tliat which was not yet come ; the prefent worldly ilate of
the Jewifh church yet continuing.

4. Tiie Greek words [aucv and a/:^>r$-) or the Hebrew
\vords (any and C'mi*) whicli are fo rendered, taken ab-
folutcly ai they are here ufed, do never in any one place,
in the Old or New Teftamcnt, lignify the new creation,
or Hate of the church under the gofpel ; hut the 'njhole
world and all things therein contained, they do fignify
in this very epiftlc, chap. xi. 3.

5. Wherever the apoftle in this epiflle fpcak?: of the
church ftatc under the Mclliah, he never calls it by the
fnigle name (uKou^Vi] or aiu'v) 'U'crld, but i^ill with the
limitation of*' to come ^'^ as chap. ii. 5. chap. vi. 5. But
where it is ufed ahfolntely as in this place, and chap. xi. 3,
it is invariably the whole 'world that is iniended.

6. The context is utterly abhorrent from this glafx.
The Son in the ]. receding words, is faid confcifcdly to be
made heir or Lord oi all things abfolutely and univcrfalh ;
and to that alfcrtion he fubjoins a rcafon of the equity of
that tranfccndcnt grant miidc unto him, namelv, bccaufo


Ver.1,2. epistle to the HEBREWS, zt

by him ^7/ tlv^igs zct-re mndc, whcrcunto he adds, his
upholding, ruling, and dilpoling of them, * by tlie word
' of his power.* Thustlic apollle having declared the honour
of the Son as mediator, in that he was made * heir of
* all,* adds thereunto his excellency in himfclf from his
eternal power and godhead ; which he not only aflerts,
but evinces by an argument from the works of creation.
And to avoid all contracted thoughts of this work, he
exprefTeth it in terms comprehending the whole creation
as a ftupendous fabrick, having a permanent fubfiftence
through fuccellive ages; as John alfo contents not him-
felf by affirming that he made all things, but adds to that
alTertion, that without him nothing was made that was
made, [John i. 3.] — We now proceed as propofed,

§ 25. (IV.) To make fome doftrinai and pra£tical
obfervations on the words :

Ohf. I. The revelation of the will of God, as to all
things concerning his worfl^iip, our faith and obedience,
is peculiarly and eminently from the Father. This is that
which the apollle partly aiTerts, partly takes for granted,
as the fpring of his future reafoning ; and this fhall
now be a little further illuflrated and confirmed. 'Yo
which end we may particularly remark,

(i.) That the whole myflery of his will, antecedently
to the revelation of it, is faid to be * hid in God,* that
i?;, the Father, [Ephef. iii. 9,] It lay wrapt up from the
eyes of men and angels, in his eternal wifdom and coun-
fel, [Col. i. 26, 27.] The Son, indeed, who was from
eternity in the bofom of the Father, [John i. 18.] as
one brought up with him, his eternal delight and wifdom,
[Prov. viii. 29, 30.] was partaker with him in this coun-
fel, [ver. 31.] as alfo his eternal Spirit, who fearches and
knows all the deep thing-; of God ; [I. Cor. ii. 10, 11.]
but yet the rife and fpring of this myftery was in the Fa •
tlier. For the order of adding in the bleiTed Trinity, fol-
'lows the order of fubfiflancc. As the Father, therefore,
is the fountain of the Trinity, as to fubfiftence, fo alfo as
to operation,

(2.) That


(2.) 'J'liat the revelation of the myflery of the will of
God fo hitltleii in the counlel of his will from eternity,
was always made iji purfuit and for the :icco:npli(hnunt
of the purpofe of the Father ; or, that eternal purpofe
is by way of cminency, afcribed to liini, [Mphel. i. 8, 9.]
* He liatli abounded towards lis in all wiidom and pru-
dence, having made known unto u^ the myi\ery of his
will, according to his good pleafure which he hath pur-
pofed in himieif * It is the luithcr of whom he fpeaks,
[ ver. 3.] * Blelled be the God and Father of our Lord Jefus
ChrilL' Now he abounds to usward by w^ifdom and pru-
dence, or abundantly manifefls his infinite wifdom in his
dealings with us, by the revelation of the myllery of his
will ; and this he doth in purfuit of his good pleafure
which he purpofed in himfelf ; or that purpofe of his will
which had its foundation folcly in his good pleafure.

(3.) This j)urpofe of God the Father being commu-
nicated to the Son, whence refulted the counfel of peace
between tliem both; [Zech. vi. 13.] and the Son rejoi-
cing to do the work that was incumbent on him for its ac-
complilhment , [Prov. viii. 30 — 32.] it became pecu-
liarly the care and work of the Father, to fee that tlie in-
heritance promifed him upon liis undertaking, Ihould be
j;iven to him. This is done bv the revelation of the will of
God to men concerning their obedience and falvation where-
by they are made the lot, the {\:^i\, the portion, and inhe-
ritance of Chriil : to this end the Father, who laid to the
Son, * Sit thou on my right hand,' [Pfahn ex. 2. J fend the
rod of hi;? power out of Sion, [ver. 2.] to declare his rule
even over his enemies, and to make thofc people given
him, willing and obedient, [ver. 3.] lUit the inheritance
thus given by the I'atlicr to the Meiliah being wholly
in the poirelhon of another, it became him to take it out
of the ufurper's hands, and deliver it up to him whole
right it was ; and this he doth by the revelation of his
mind in the preaching of his word, [Col. i. 12, 13.]
And from thefc confiderations it is that,

(4.) The whole revelation and difpenfation of the will
of God in and by the word, is (as before obfervcd) cmi-



neatly appropriated to the Father. Eternal life (the pur-
pofe, the couufel, the means, and procurer of it) was
with the Father, and was manifeftcd to us by the word of
truth, [I. John i. 1,2.] And it is the Father, that is, his
vill, mind, grace, love, and purpofe, that the Son de-
clares, [John i. 18,] in which work he fpcaks nothing
but what he heard and learned from the Father, [John
viii. 28.] And thence he fays, ' The do£lrine is not

* mine,' (that is, principally and originally) ' but his that

* fent me,' [John vii. 16.] And the gofpel is called the
gofpel of the glory of the ' blefied God,' which is a
periphralis of the perfon of the Father, who is the * Fa-
' tlier of glory.' And we might alio remark that the great

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