John Owen.

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

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that this glory is conferred upon Chrill as the builder of
tiie church by the grant and donation of the Father, and
according to his will, by angels and men.

2. As to the nature of this glorv, it confills in this,
that he is the objc£l of all divine religious worlhip ; and
the principal author of all the laws thereof; whereby it
is o jtv.-arJly and folemnly celebrated or performed. Hence


Ver.3. epistle to THE HEBREWS.


there is a twofold duty incumbent on the church in refe-
rence to him who is the builder of it. (i.) That vvc
ferve him, truft him, believe in him, obey him with all re-
ligious fubjedion of foul and confcicncc. Hence faith he,

* Ye believe in God, believe alfo in me ;* [John xxiv. i.]
Ye believe in God the Father who fent me, believe alfo
in me who am fent, with the fame divine faith and con-
fidence. (2.) That we obfcrve all his commands, laws,
and inflitutions as the great Sovereign Lord over our
fouls and confciences in all things. For ' to this end

* Chrift both died and rofe, and lived again, that he might

* be Lord both of the dead and the living,' [Rom. xiv. 9.]
Supreme Lord over us whilft alive, requiring obedience to
all his laws as a fon over his own houfe ; and when
wc are dead to raife us again and bring us to his judge-
ment feat.

§ 10. 3. We come now to inquire concerning this
glory, what is Xh^ formal rcafon of it ; that which renders
him a meet object of the church's worfhip, and that wor-
fnip to be truly divine or religious. The anfwer is fhort
and plain ; it is no other than the divine nature. The na-
tural and effential excellencies of the Deity are the formal
reafon and proper obje£l of all divine worfliip. We
worfhip the Lord Chvifl who is God and man in one
perfon, and his -pcrfoyi who is God and man is the objeft
of that worfliip ; but the formal reafon of it is the divine
nature in that perfon. Give me leave to fay, God him-
felf could not command that Chriil be worfliipped with
divine religious adoration, were he not God by nature^ for
the thing itfelf implies a contradiction. Religious wor-
Ihip is nothing but an affignation of that honour which
is due to divine excellencies ; namely, to trull, fear, obey,
love, and fubmit to infinite holincfs, goodnefs, righteouf-
nefs, and power ; in the iirft caufe, lall end and fovereign
Lord of all. Now to ailign glory proper to divine excel-
lencies, and which rcceiveth its nature from its objc6V,
where divine excellencies arc not, is openly contradidlory.
Belides, God hath faid, ' lam the Lord, that is my name,

* and my glory wi!! I not give to another,' [Ifa. xiii. 8.]

1. ' ^ He


He that hath not the name of God, that is, his naturCy
Ihall not, nor can liavc this glory which is to he the object
of the worlhip mentioned. And there are iiot fcarccly
more grofs idolators in the world, than thofe who profefs
to worlhip Chrill and to believe in him, in a word, to
give him all the glory that is due to God, and yet deny
him to be Tuch.

§ I I. Now in our a'c/^^//) of Chrifl, which is our af-
flgnation of glory to liim, he is confidcrcd two ways:

1. Jbfolutcly, as he is over all, God bltllcd for evcj-,
[Rom. ix. 5] In that rcfpecl he is the proper and ultimate
obje(5l of our worfhip. We believe in him, pray to him ; as
^'tephen, who offered his dying prayer to him in particular.
I'hey'floned Stephen praying or invocating, in thcfe words,
* Lord Jefus, receive my fpirit,' [A£ls viii. 9.] So are we
baptized in his name, and thereby initiated into his fer-
vice as our Lord and our God. So may we prav to him
dire<ftly and diflin^lly, making his perfon the ultimate
obje^l of our faith, trufl and fubjedlion of foul. [Sec
Ephef. V. 23, 24, 25. II. Cor. V. 15. Tit. ii. 14. Rom.
xiv. 9 — I 3. J

2. We confider him as mcdiatcr between the Father and
ns. So h.e is the immediate, but not the ultimate obje£\ of
our worlhip. In this fcnfe through him we believe in
God, who raifcd him from the dead, and gave him glory,
that our faith and hope may be in God, [I. Pet. i. 21.]
He is the means of our faith and hope. By him we have
acccfs by one fpirit unto the Father. [Ephef. ii. 18.] And
according to his command, we aik of God in his name
and for his fake, [John xvi. 23 — 25.] and in this fenlc
in all our worfliip, internal and external, in our faith,
confidence, obedience, and fupplications, the Father is
confulercd as the ultimate objed of our worlhip, and the
Son as he who hath procured acceptance for us, who
plcids our cavifo, manageth our affairs, and prevails for
grace and mercy. And this is the moft ordinary and
Handing way of faith in the worlhip of God. We addrels
ourfelvcs to the Father bv the Son as mediator, conlider-
ing him ai veiled with mediatorv clTiccs over the houfc of



God. This the apoftle excellently exprefTeth, Eph. iii. 14.
However we may addrefs our petitions dhcilly to Chrift
as he is God equal with the Father ; and we may addrefs
the Father by him, as he is our mediator ; which two
modes of divine worfhip are fcriptural,

§ 12. (2.) Having confidercd the formal reafon of
the glory infifled on ; we are next to inquire after the great
motive to our giving him this glory, which make him
worthy of It, and obllgeth us in fpecial duty to give it.
God manlfefted in the tiefh, Chrifl complete, his divine
and human nature In one perfon, is theobjeft of our reli-
gious adoration and worflilp ; and it is juil and right
that we fliould conftantly worfhip him, hecaufe he hath
built the Iroufe of God ; or becaufe of his work of me-
diation. As it is in the iirft command, fo it is in this
matter, ' I am tlie Lord thy God, which brought thee

* out of the Land oi Egypt, out of the houfc of bon-

* dage : thou flialt have no other God's before me ;'
[Exod. XX. 2, 3.] declaring himfelf to be Lord God, he
propofeth the formal reafon of all religious worfliip, and
that which makes it indifpenfably necelfary ; but yet, to
Ulr the people up to the aftual performance of it, he adds
that great motive, what he had done for them ; he had
' brought them out of the land of Egypt, and out of
' the houfe of bondage.* Had he not done fo, all wor-
fliip and honour divine wTre due to him, but having done
fo, it is a fcrong obligation to bind them to diligence in
its obfervance. So I fay in this matter, Chrifl is to be
worfhipped, becaufe he is God ; but the great motive
thereunto is what he hath done for us in the work of re-
demption. And to all we have fald in this matter, xve
have the joint teflimony of all the faints and angels of
God, [Rev. i. 8—13.] ' And when he had taken the book,
the four living creatures and the four and tvventv elders
fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them
harps and golden phials full of odours, which are the
prayers of faints. And they fang a new fong, faying.
Thou art worthy to take the book and open the feals
thereof • for thou zvajl Jluhi, and hafl redeemed us to God



by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and
people and nation, and hafl made us unto our God kings
and priefts, and we fhall reign on the earth. And I be-
held and 1 heard the voice of many angels round about the
throne, and the living creatures and the elders, and the
number of them was ten thoufand times ten thoufand, and
thoufand of thoufands, faying with a loud voice, iL-orthy
js the Lamb that ivas Jlain to receive power, and riches, and
wifdom, and flrength, and honour, and glory, and blcf-
iing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on
the earth, and under the earth, and fuch as arc in the
fca, and all that arc in them, heard I faying, * Bielling
' and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that

* fittcth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and

* ever.

The whole of what we have alTcrted is here confirmed.
For the lamb here is Jefus Chrift the mediator, ' the

* Lamb of God that took away the lins of the world.' —
The worlhip and honour afcribed to him is holy, facrcd,
and religious, and that from the whole creation. It is
but one and the fame worlliip that is given to the Lamb,
and to him that lits upon his throne, even the Father. —
The great mothc to it, whence it is faid he is worthy of
it, is, bccaufe of the great things he hath done for us, in
our redemption and falvation ; that is, his building of
the houfc of God. To clofc this matter ; here lies a
great difference between Chrift and Mofes, that whereas
the work of the latter brought all the honour and glory
he had to his perfoti, and which yet was but an inferior
work, the work (;f a fcrvant or miniftcrial builder ; the
pcrfon of the former brought glory and honour to his work,
although it was very excellent and glorious ; for he con-
dcfccnded and humbled himiclf to it. [Phil. ii. 6 — S.]
But yet the work being done, is a caufc of giving nciv
honour and glory to his perfon.

§ 13. It remains only, that I briefly give the rcafons
why this building of the houfc renders the Redeemer fo
worthy of glory and honour : it doth fo bccaufe theuo/i'
itftif was great and glorious. Great works make the


Ver.3. epistle to THE HEBREWS, 37^

authors of them famous and honourable. Hence have
been the endeavours of men to eternize their names, to
niake themfelves famous and renowned by their works
and buildings. This was one end of that flupendous
enterprifc of the children of men in the building of
Babel ; they would build a tower to make themfelves

* a name/ [Gen. xi. 4.] to get them renown and glory;
and they have been imitated by their pofterity, who in all
ages have praifjd their faying. So Nebuchadnezzar tef-
tificth concerning himfelf, [Dan. iv. 30.] ' Is not this,
faith he, great Babylon that I have built for the houfe of
the kingdom, by the might of my power and for the
honour of my Majcfty ?' But alas, what poor periihing
heaps have been the products of their endeavours ? They
have all long ago been made the fpoils of time and con-
fufion. When Solomon went about to build a material
typical houfe for God, he told Huram the king of Tyre,
tiiat the houfe which he built was very great; for, faith"
he, * Great is our God above all gods,' [II. Chron. ii.
5, 6.] But he adds, moreover, * Who is able to build

* hhn an houfe, feeing the heaven, and the heaven of

* heavens cannot contain him r' Who am I then that I
fhould build him an houfe, fave only to burn facrificc
before him ? The ufe of this houfe is not for God to
dwell in, but for us to worfhip him in. Do not con-
ceive that I am building a temple as the nations build
tlieirs for their falfe deities, to confine them to place, and
keep them within walls. The immenfity of the nature
of our God will admit of no fuch thing. It is only a
place for his fervice that I intend. But now Chrift hath
built an houfe for God to dwell in for ever ; and this on
many accounts was a greater work than that of the
creation of all things out of nothing. But if from the
antient work of creation was to arife an immenfe fund of
glory to God according to the law of nature ; how ex-
cellent is this honour which arifeth to Jefas Chrift, and
to God by him, from his nciv creation ; from his forming
and creating ' new heavens and a new earth, wherein

* dwelleth righteoufnefs !*

- yo^i. II. o o § 14. It


§ 14. It is glorious in all refpe^i. Who can cxprefs
the glory, the beauty, and the order of this work ? The
tabernacle with the temple of old, and all their furniture,
were exceeding glorious ; but they and their vvorfhip had
no glory, in comparifon of the more excellent glory of
this fpiritual houfe. [II. Cor. iii. 10.] It is glorious in its
foundation, which is Chrift himfclf. * Other foundation

* can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jefus Chrift,'
[I. Cor. iii. 2.] This is the rock, on which the houfe is
built. [Matt. xvi. 18.] He * laid in Zion for a foundation,

* a (lone, a tried {lone, a precious corner Hone, a furc

* foundation,' [Ifa. xxviii. 16.] So glorious, that when he
is brought forth, thofc concerned in this building fhout
with holy triumph, crying, Grace ! grace ! unto it. Zech.
iv. 7.] — And it is glorious in \\.% fupcrjhu^ure ; it is built
up of living flones, [I. Pet. ii. 4.] which alfo are pre-
cious and ele£l ; cemented among themfclves, and wrought
into beauty and order by the Spirit of God. — It is alfo
glorious in refpe£l of its end^ as being that on account of
which God will be for ever glorified in an eminent degree.
It comes into the place of the whole creation, and doubles
the revenue of glory unto God. Our duty is to bear
in mind this honour and glory of Chrift ; as that to
which he is exalted, and that of which he is every way-
worthy. In tliis alfo our honour is included ; for if any-
one member of the myftical body being honoured, all the
members rejoice with it, [I. Cor. xii. 26. how much
more iiave all the members caufc to rejoice in this un-
fpcakablc honour and glory of their head, whence all
their honour in particular flows.



Verses 4 — 6.

ror. every house is builded by some man ; but he
that built all things is god; and moses
verily was faithful in all his house as a
servant, for a testimony of those things
which were to be spoken after ; but christ
as a son over his own house ; whose house
are we, if we hold fast the confidence and
the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the


§ I. I'he fubjcc^ Jlated^ and; (I.) The fever al parts of the
words explained. § 2. I. JVhat intended by — all things.,
§ 3. 2. Who intended by the term — God, § 4. The com-
parifon between Chrift and Mofes. I. Mofes was a fer^
vanty faithful in all the houfe of God, for a teflimony,
§ 5. 2. Chrifl as a fon over his own houfe, § 6. B^ofe
houfe are we, § '] , If we hold fajh § 8 — IQ. J de^
fcription of thofe who are of the houfe of God, § 1 1 — 18*
Obfcrvations and improvement,

§ I . i HE connexion of the words will be made fuf-
iicicntly plain in the expofition of their feveral parts. Wc
fliall, therefore, proceed immediately ; iirft, to explain
the apoflle's meaning in the paflage ; and, fecondly, raife
fuch obfervations as appear naturally implied, in it.

(L) ' Every houfe is buiMed by fome one, bu.t he that
* built all things is Gcd.' In this verfe the apoille con-
firms and illullrates what he had before alTcrted and proved.
If that building of the houfe be fuch -as we have dc-
fcribcd, the building of the church in all ages, who
could perform it ? To whom muft this work belong ?
Why, faith he, * he who built all things is God/ Two
things are here to be inquired into ; full:, what is intended

O o, i by


by the all th'mgs here mentioned ; fecondly, who is in-
tended by God^ who is faid to build them aU.

§ 2. I. (Toe TTuvjoc) all things, is put tor {tu'Sju Tra'^iu)
all theft things; all the things treated of; which kind of
cxprclfion is frequent in the fcripturc. And therefore
Beza well renders the words (ha-c omnia) * all thefe

* things.' The whole lioufc and all the perfons that
belong to it, or the parts of it, in all ages. And thus is
(ra i:u7\oc) ' all things' conf\antly rcflraincd to the fub-
je£t matter treated of. Bcfidcs the word {x(y7jo'jry.3v<x'7ug)

* he who hath /»/////,' here ufed by the apoUle, whereby he
cxprefled before the building of the houfe, plainly de-
clares that it is the fame kind of buiidmg he yet treats of,
and not the abfolute creation of ?ll things, which is no
vpherc exprefTed by that word. And rhis is fufficient to
evince what we plead for, viz. it is no where ufed to ex-
prefs the creation of all thmgs, nor doth it fignify to
create, but to prep ate ^ and to builds and it is often ufed
in this bufmefs of pr pariiig the church or the ways of
divine worfhip, (See Matt. xi. lo. Luke i. 17. chap. vii.
21. Heb. ix, 2 — 6.) Again, the making of all things, or
the firft creation, doth not belong to his purpofe , but
the mention of it would difturb the feries of his difcourfe,
and render it equivocal. There is neither reafon for it
in his defign, nor place for it in his difcciirfe, nor any
thing in it to his purpofe.

§ 3. 2. Who is here intended by the name * God ?"'
He that built all things is God. The words may be fo
•underftood, as to fignify cither that God made or built
all thefc things, or, that he who made and built all thcfc
things, is God. The firfl fenfe, making God the fubjc(^-,
tlic latter, the predicate of the proportion. Rnt as to
our purpofe they amount to tlie fame thing ; for if he who
made them is God, his making of them declares him to
be {n. And that it is the I^ord Chrifl who is intejuied in
this cxprcfTion will appear immediately ; for,

(i.) If Ciod abfolutelv, or (lod the Father be iruci.dcd,
then by the building of all things, the creation of the
world is dcligned ; fo they all grant who are of thr^.t opi-
nion ,


nlon ; but that this is not fo we have already demon-
llrated from the words themfelves.

(2.) The introduction of God abfolutely and his
building of all things in this place, is no way fubfervient
to the apoftle's purpofc ; for what light or evidence doth
this contribute to his principal affertion ? namely, that
Ciirill was more honourable than Mofes, and that on ac-
count of his building the houfe of God, the confirmatioix
whereof he doth in thefe words expreflly defign ?

(3.) It is contrary to his purpofe. For he doth not
prove the Lord Cliritl: to be defervedly preferred before
Moles, unlefs he manifett that by his oivn power he built
the houfe of God in fuch a manner, as Mofes was not
employed in ; whereas, according to this interpretation,
he a^iigns the principal building of the houfe to another^
even the Father, and fo overthrows what he had before
allerted. This then is that, which by thefe words the
apoftJe intends to declare ; namely, the ground and reafoii
whence it is that the houfe was or could be in that glo- ,
rious manner built by Chrift, even hccaufe he is God, and \
fo able to efFed it ; and by this efFedl of his power he is .
manifefled fo to be.

§ 4. The apoftle, in the remaining part of the words,
proceedeth to another argument to the fame purpofe with
the former, coniifling of a comparifon between Chriil: and
Mofes, in reference to their relation to the houfe of God
vjht-n built. In the building they were both faithful, Chriil
as the chief builder, Mofes as a principal part of the houfe,
minifterially alfo employed in the building of it. The
houfe being built they are both faithful towards it, in their
feveral relations to it ; Mofes as a fervant in the houfe of
God, Chrift as a fon over his own houfe ; his own becaufc
he built it.

Let us confider thefe relations refpe£lively.

I. The relation of Mofes to the houfe of God.
* Mofes verily was faithful as a fervant in his whole houfe /
(75p7ra;y) a fervant^ minifler, or officer (in facris) in
things belonging to religious worihip. This was his
place, this jiis dignity and honour ; and it was amplified



by the coiifidcrations — that he was faithful in liis fervicc
• — that he was a fcrvant in the houfe of God — and parti-
cularly, that he was not thus employed, and thus faithful
in this or that part, in this or that fervicc of God's houfc,
but in his vcholc houfc and all the concernments of it.
Herein was he different from all others in tlie fame fervicc
inidcr the Old Tei\amcnt ; one was employed in one part
of it, another in another, one to inilrudl another to re-
form it, one to renew a negle£\cd ordinance, another to
give new inftru6lions ; none but he was ufed in the fer-
vicc of the ' whole houfe.' And thcfc things greatly fp)cak
his honour and glory ; altliough as wc fliall fee, they
leave him incomparably inferior to the Lord McfTiah.
* For a teilimony of thefe things which Ihould be

• fpoken after.' The end of the fcivice and minillry of
Mofcs is expreffcd in thefe words. It was to be (Hq
fjidflvpiav) * for a tcllimony.' The word and ordinances
of God arc often called his * tcfiimony ;' that whcrcbv he
tcftifii'th and witnclfcth his will and pleafure to the fons of
men. This tcftimony refers to the ivholc fait} f nine fs of
Mofcs, which was not confined or reftraincd to tlie things
that were i'pokcn, but extended itfelf to the whole fervicc
of the houfc wherein he was emploved, as well in the
building of the tabernacle, and inllitutions of ordinances,
as revealing the will of God in his owii law.

(A«?.vj9/;crcjLCrVW>) ' Of things which Ihould be fpoken

• after,* refpeds things future to what he did in his whole
miniilrv, as our tranllation rightly obferves, and this as
well the order of the words, as the proper import requires.
He gave tcftimony to what ' To ' the things that were

• afterwards to be fpoken,' in the fulnefs of time by the
MciTiah ; that is, the things of the gofpel. And this i!i-
clced was the proper end of all that Mofts did or ordered
in the houfe of God. Here the apoftle takes his leave
of Mofcs, and tliercforc gives him as it were, an honoura^
b'e hiaiul; and puts this glorious epitaph on his grave —
Mofcs a faithful ftrvant of the Lord in his icholr hcufc.

^ 5. 2. ' But Chrill as a fon over his own lioufe.'
The term * faithful' is here to be repeated ; was faiibful


Ver.4 - -^-. epistle to THE HEBREWS. 283-

as a foil over bis own houfe. Every word almoft proves
the pre-eminence afferted. He is a Son, Mofes a Tervant ;
he over the houfe, Mofes in the houfe ; he over his own
houfe, Mofes in the houfe of another. The argument
of the apoflle in thefc words is obvious. The Son faith-
ful over his own houfe, is more glorious and honourable
than a fervant that is faithful in the houfe of his Lord
and Mafter. But Chrift was thus a fon over the houfe,
Mofes only a fervant in it.

§ 6. * Whofe houfe are we.* Having confirmed his ar-
gument, the apolllc returns, after his manner, to make
application of it, and to improve it for the enforcement of
his exhortation to conftancy and perfeverance. Now be-
lievers are the houfe of Chrifl upon a treble account.

1. On account of their perfons, in them he dwells
really by his Spirit. Hence they are faid to be ' living
* ftones,* and on him to be built into a * holy temple,'
[I. Pet. ii. 5.] and as fuch does he dwell in them [Ephef.
ii. 20 — 22. Cor. iii. 16. chap. vi. 19. John xiv. 17.]

2. On account of their being compared together In
church order according to his inflitution ; wdiereby they
are built up, cemented and become an houfe, like the ta-
bernacle or temple of old, [Ephef. iv. 16. Col. ii. 19.]

3. On account of their joint worlhip performed in that
order, whereby he alfo dwells among them, or is prefent
with them until the confummation of all things. [Rev.
xxi. 3. Matt, xxviii. 20.]

§ 7. * If we hold fail,' {c(x,v ttsd) Thefe words may have
a double fenfe ; firft to exprefs the condition on which the
truth of the former aifertion depends ; we are his houfe ;
but on this condition, that we hold fall, &c. Secondly,
to exprefs a dcfctiptlon of the perfons who are {o the
houfe of Chrift, by a limitation and diftin£lion among
profefTors ; flicwing that in the former alTcrtion he in-
tends only thofe who hold faft their confidence firm to
the end. Such conditional exprellions of gofpel com-
minations — although they have a peculiar ufe and efficacy
towards believers in the courfe of their obedience, as
manifcfting God'^ deteftation of fin, and the certain con-


ne(f\iori there is by God's eternal law between unbelief and
punilhmcnt ; yet — do not include any alTcrtion that tiic
pcribn of believers may at any time, all things confidered,
on the part of God as well as of themfclvcs, a^uallyhW
under thefe penalties. The words, therefore, are dc-
fcriptivc of tiic pcrfons who are the houfc of Clnift, from '
a certain effe£l or adjun^l of that faith whereby they be-
come to be fo. They arc fuch, and only i'ach, as hold
fail their coniidencc and glorying of hope, firm unto the
end ; whereby they are dillinguifhed from temporary pro-
fciTors wlio may fall away.

§ S. ' If we hold fall the confidence and the rejoicing.
• of tlie hope firm unto the end.' Two things are ob-
fcrvable in the words, zubat it is that the apoftlc requires in
tliem that are in the houfe of Chrifl ; namely, confidence

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 46)