John Owen.

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

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but fuch a j)eculiar afhgnatioii of a name to him, as

i 2 where-


whereby he might for ever be diftinguiflied from others.
Thus many may be * beloved of tl>e Lord,' and be (o
termed ; but yet Soloj7imi only was peculiarly called (nnn*)
'Jcdcd'iah ; and by that name was diftinguilhed from others,
in this way it is that the Mclliah has this name alTigned
to him. He is not called the ' Son of God' upon fuch
a common account as angels and men, the one by creation
the other by adoption, peculiarly and by way of emi-

§ 5. 3. This name mufl be fuch a«^ proves his pre-
eminence above all the angels. It was never faid to any
angel perfonally, upon his own account, ' Thou art the
' Son of God,' efpecially with the reafon of the appella-
tion annexed; * This day have I begotten thee.' It is
not, tlien, the general name of ' a fon,' or ' the fons' of
God, that the apoUlc inlillcth on, but the peculiar afTigna-
tion of this name to the Lord Jefus on his own particular
account, with the reafon fubjoincd, * this day have 1 bcgot-

* ten thee.' And this appropriation proves his unrival-
led dignity : for it is evident, that God intended thereby
to declare his fingular honour and glorv, giving him a
name to denote it, that was never allkiicd to anv mere
creature, as his peculiar inheritance.

§ 6. (111.) Wc Ihall brictiy inquire after the genuine
fcnle of the words abfolutcly confidercd. Expofilors are
n^uch divided about the precife intcntnicnt of this phralc,

* This day have I begotten thee.' Some fuppofc the words
contain the f(;rmal reaion of Chriil being properly called
the Son of God, and lo to denote his »'ternal generation.
Others take the words only to exprefs an o^ca/ion of giving
this name at a certain feafon to the Lord Chrift, when he
was revealed or declared to be the Son of (lod. And
fome alhgn this to the day of his incarnatlo)!, when he de-
clared him to be liis Son, and that he Ihould be fo called,
(Luke i. 35.] Some to the day of his bnptifmy when he
was again folcmnly proclaimed^ from heaven to be in,
[Matt. iii. 17.] Some to the day of hi> rcfurrcrtion^ when
he was declared to be ilic Son of God with power, [Rom.
i. 3. Ads xiii. 33. J And fome to the day of his afcen/icn.



All thcfe interpretations are confiftent and reconcileable
with each other, inafmuch as they arc all means lerving
to the fame end ; that of his rcjurrccl'ion from the dead
being the moil fignal, and fixed upon in particular by our
apolUe in his application of this tcftimony : [A«5ls xiii.
^3.] And in this {tw{^ alone the words have any ap-
pearance of refpe<St to David as a type of Chrifl ; as he
was raifed up and eftabliflied in his rule and kingdom.
Neither indeed does the apoflle treat m this place of the
eternal generation of the Son, but of his exaltatioa and
pre-eminence above angels. The eternal Sonihip is to be
taken only dcclaratlvely ; and that declaration to be mads
in his refurreftion and exaltation. But everv one is left
to the liberty of his own judgement herein. And this is
the tiril teflimony, whereby the apoftle confirms his af*
fertion^ from the name that he inherits as his peculiar right
and pofleliioni

§ 7% For the fartheif confirmation of the fame truth he
adds another teftlmony of the fame import : ' And again,
* I will be to him a father, and he fliall be to me a fon.*
Lideed the main difficulty, with which cxpofitors gene-
rally trouble themfelves in this place, arlfcth purely from
their own miilake. They cannot underfland how thefe
w^ords fliould prove a ' natural fonfliip' of Jefus Chrifl,
which they fuppofe they are produced to confirm ; feeing
it is from thence that he is exalted above the angels. But
the truth is, the words are not defigned to any fuch end ;
his aim being only to prove, that the Lord Chrill has a
name afiigned him more excellent, either in itfelf, or in
the manner of its being attributed, than any that is given
to the angels ; which is the medium of his argument to
prove him the mofl exalted revealer of the will of God.
The words are taken from IL Sam. vii. 14. and are
part of the anfwer returned from God to David by Na-
than, upon his refolution to build him an houfe. The
difficulty arifeth hence, that it is not cafy to apprehend
how any thing at all in thcfc words ihould be appropri-
ated to Chrift.

I. Some


1. Some cutting; that knot which they fuppofc cannot
othervvifc be untied, affirm that Solomon is not intended
in thcfe words, hut that they are a dirccl r.nd immediate
prophecy of Chrift, who was to be the ion of David, and
who was to build the fpiritual houfe or temple of God.
But this is to make the whole anfwer of God ecjuivocal.
I*'or David inquired of Nathan about building an houfe or
temple : Nathan returns him an anfwer from God, that
he (hall not do fo^ but that his Son Ihould perform that
work* This anfwer David undcrlhinds of his immediate
fon, and of a material houfe, and thereupon makes an
anfwerable provifion for it. It remains then, that Solo-
mon primarily and immediately is intended in thefe

2. Some on the other hand affirm, the \\ho!e prophecy
to be lb exclufively fulfilled in Solomon, tliat there is no
direcfl rcfpe6l therein to our Lord fefus Chriil. The
words, * If he commit iniquity I will chaftife him with the

* rod of men ;* cannot, fay thcv, be applied to him who
did no iin, neither was there guile found In his mouth.
'J'hey therefore plead, that the apoftle applied thefe words
to Chriil only by wav of allcgorv. But,

3. The words here cited principallv concern the perfon
of Chriil himfelf, yet being uttered in the form of a cove-
nant, they have refpc6t alio to him as the head of tliat
covenant, which God make* with all the elect in him.
And thusChrllt's mvllical head and members are rcterreJ
to in tl»e prophecy ; and therefore David in pleading thl>
oracle [Pfalm Ixxxix. 30.] changcth thofe words, * if he

* commit iniquity,* into * if his children forfakc my law.*

§ 8. But more particularly wc may fay with others, that
both Solomon and Chrift are here intended ; Solomon li-
terally as the type ; Chrifl principally and myilically as ty-
pified. Our fenfc herein ffiall be farther explained and
coniirmcd in the cnluing confiderations.

i» There never was a^y c.r type of Chriil and his
offices, that int'irch reprefcnted him, and all his undertak-
ings, bccaufc of tlie perfe^ion of his perfon, and the ex-
cellency of hii office. I knee the multiplying of types.

2. Ko


2. No type of Chriil was in all things a type of him, but
only in fome exprcflly intended particular. Thus David
was a type of Chrift in conquering the church's enemies,
&c. but not in his private a£tions, whether as man, king,
or captain,

3. Not ali things fpoken of a typical perfon, even iu
that wherein he was a type, are fpoken of him as a type ;
but fome of them may belong to him in his perfonal capa-
city only. And the reafon is plain, becaufe he who was
a type by God's inllitution, might morally fail in the per-
formance of his duty, even in thofe things wherein he
was a type. Thus that* expreffion, * If lie lin againft me,*
related to the moral duty of Solomon in the typical admi^
?iijhation of his kingdom.

4. What is fpoken of any type, as fuch, doth not really*
and properly belong to him, or that, which was the type,
but the anti-type. For as to the type itfelf, it was enough,
that it polTelTed fome refemblance of what was principally-
intended ; the things belonging to the anti-type being af-
firmed of it only analogically^ on account of the relation
between them by God's inllitution. Thus at the facri-
lice of expiation, the fcape goat is faid to ' bear away the

♦ fms of the people into a land not inhabited ;' not really,
but only in an inilituted reprefentation j for the law w^as
given by Mofes, but grace and truth came by Jefus Chrift,
Much lefs may the things confequent upon Chrifl's real
taking away of our fins, be afcribed to the devoted beaft.
So in this cafe, the words applied by the apoflle do not at
all prove that Solomon, of whom they were typically
fpoken, fhould be preferred above all angels ; feeing he
only reprefentcd him who was fo reftri£lively, not abfo-
lutely. Thcfe conliderations being premifcd, I fay, the
words infilled on by the apoftle, ' I will be to him a

* father and he ihall be unto me a fon,' belonged prima-
rily to Solomon, denoting the fatherly love, care, and pro-
tection that God would afford him in his kingdom, fo
far as Chriil was reprefented by him therein, which re-
quires not that they mud abfolutcly, and in ali jull con-
sequences, belong to tlie perfon of Solomon i but princi^

3 pally


fally they intend Chrlil hinifclf, cxprciTing that eternal
linchangcahlc love vvliich the Father bore to him, grounded
on tlic relation of fatlier and Ton. Now herein God pro-
miTetli to be to Cluift, as exalted to his throne, a father
in love, care, and power, to protect and carry him on m
hii ruie to the end of the world. And, tlicreforc, npoa
his aiccniionhe fays, that he went to ' his God and Father,'
{John XX. 17.] and he rules in the name and majefty of
God, [Mic. V. 4.] This, and not the eternal- ana natu-
ral relation that fubiifls between the Father and Son, whicli
neither is nor can be the fu bjc6t of any promifc is intended.
And this is the apoflle's firft argument whereby he proves
that the Son, as the rcvealer of the mind and will of God
in the gofpel, is made more excellent thari the angels,
whole glory was a refuge to the Jews in their adherence
to legal rights. According to our propofcd method we
ihali [§ 9. IV.] draw hence Ibmc inilruclions for our ufe
and edification.

Ohf. I. Every thing in the fcrlpture is inflru6tive. The
apoflle's arguing in this place is not fo much from the
tiling fpuken, as from the 77ianner wherein it is fpoken.
Nothing in fcripture is ufclefs, nothing needlefs, becaufe
• it proceeds from infinite \Vifdom, which hath put an im-
prefs of itfelf upon it, and filled all its capacity ; it being
full of wifdom as the fca is of water, which fills and
covers all the parts of it. The infpired volume contains,
direflly or by confequence, the whole revelation of God
to men. God hath given it to his fervants for their con-
tinual excrcife day and night, and requires of them thch*
\itmoft diligence and Qn(\^: vours. A conftant av»e of the
raajclty, authority, and holinefs of God in his word is
the only teachable frame, and the humble are made wih:
therein — it is an endiefs ftorehoufe, a bottomlt'fs treafurc
of divine truth : there Is gold in every fand of it ; ?.\\ the
wife men in the world mav, each one for himfelf, learn
Ibmc important Icllbn out of every word, confldered in its
proper connection, and yet leave enough flill bciiiiid tor
the inftru(f^ion of all that fhall come after them. The
fountains and fprlngs of wifdgm la it arc deep, and wid



never be dry. We may have much truth and power out
of a word ; fonietimes €non?h^ but never all that is in it.
There will ilill be enough remaining to exercile and re-
frefh us anew for ever. So that we may attain a true fenfe,
but we can never attain xhtfull i^wk of any place.

§ 12. Obf. 2. It is lawful to draw confequences from
fcripture aiTertions ; and fuch confequences rightly de-
duced are infallibly true and decilive. Thus from the
?tamc given to Chrill, the apoflle deduceth, by jufl confc-
quence, his exaltation and pre-eminence above angels.
Nothing will rightly follow from truth but what is true,
and that of the fame nature with the truth from.whence it
is deduced ; fo that whatever, by jufl: confequence, is
drawn from the word of God, is itfelf alfo the word of
God, and of truth infallible : and to deprive the church
of this liberty in the interpretation of the word, is to de-
prive it of the chief benefit intended by it. This is that
on which the whole ordinance of preaching is founded ;
which makes that which is derived from the word, to have
the power, authority, and efficacy of the word accompa-
nying it. Thus, though it be the proper work and efFeft
of the word of God to quicken, regenerate, fan£tify, and
purify the ele6t, and the word primarily and directly is
only that which is written in the fcriptures ; yet we find
all thefe effe£ls produced by the preaching of the word,
when perhaps not one fentence of the fcripture is repeated

§ 13. Ohf. 3. The declaration of Chrifl to be the Son
of God is originally the care hnd work of the Father. It
is the delign of the Father in all things to glorify the Son ;
that all men may honour him even as they honour the

§ 14. Obf. 4. God the Father is perpetually prefent
with the Lord love, care, and power, while
engaged in the adminiitration of his office, as he is the
mediator, head, and king of the church. He hath taken
upon himfelf to {land by him, to own him, to efFe£l every
thing that is needful for the eflablifhment of his throne,
the enlargement of his kingdom, the ruin and dellrudion

Vol. II. K of


of his cncmlcii. And this he will afTuredly do to the end
of the world, bccaufe he hath promifed to give him ii
throne, a glorious kingdom, an cverlajlhig rule and go-
vernment ; and what he hath promifed in love and grace,
lie will make good with care and power. [Sec Ifa. xlix.
^ — -Q. ch. iv. 7^9-] Belidcs, thele and fmiilar promifes
liavc refped to the obedience of Chrift in the work of me-
diation, which being performed ftri£lly and to the utmoll:,
gives him a peculiar right to them ; and n>akcs that juft
and righteous in the performance, wlvich was merely fove-
reign grace in the promife. The condition being abfo-
Jutely performed, the promife iliall be ccrtamly accom-
plifhed. Again, God hath appointed him to reign in the
niidft of his enemies, and mighty oppolitions are made on
all hands to his whole defign and every part. This makes
the prefence of the authority and power of the Father ne-
ceflary to him in his work. This he alTerts as a great
ground of confolation to his difciples. [John x. 28, 29.]
There will be great plucking, great contending to take
believers out of the hand of Chriil, one way or other, to
make them come fhort of eternal life ; and though his
own power be fuch, as is able to preferve them, yet he lets
them know alfo for their greater affu ranee and confola-
tion, that his Father, who is over all, is greater and
more powerful than all, greater than he himfelf in tl>c
work of mediation, [John xiv. 28 ] is alfo engaged with
him in their defence. The Lord {lands by him on his
right hand, to fmite and tread down his enemies ; all that
rife againfl his defign, intereft, and kingdom, be they
never fo manv, and never fo great, he will ruin them,
and make them his footllool every one. [Sec Micah v. 4. J


Ver.6. epistle to the HEBREWS. 65

Verse 6.

and again, when he bringeth in the first-be-

§ I. Connexion of the words. § 2. In what fenfe Chr'ift
is firjfi born, § 3. The fuhjea Jlated. §4. (I.) That
the Son is intended in the paffage referred to. § 5. (11.)
That they are the angels who are commanded to worfhip him,
§ 6. (III.) The force of the conch fion, Chrif^s pre-cmi-
7ience above angels. § 7. — li. (IV.) Obfcrvations.

§ I. X HE apollle proceeds to the confirmation of
the fame important truth, by another teftimony. The
phrafe of * bringing him in,' refers to Old Teftament
promifes of his coming into the world, [Mai. iii. 1,2.]
^ The Lord whom ye feek fhall come— but who may

* abide the day of his coming ?* Now it was not any one
fpecial acl, nor any one particular day, that was defigned
in that and the like promifes : but it is the whole work
of God in bringing forth the Mefliah by his conception,
nativity, unftion with the Spirit, rofurreftion, fending
of the Holy Ghoft, and preaching of the gofpel, which
is the fubject of thofe promifes. * When he brings the

* firft-born into the world ;' that is — after he had kept
his churcli, under the adminiflration of the law given
by angels, in the hands of Mofes' the typical mediator,
in expc6lation of the promifed Mefliah— when he bring-
eth him forth to, and carries him on triumphantly through
his work, he fays, ' Let all the angels of God worfhip

* him.' {Jlporryjjvrj(rc^oco-c^v ccvju^) * Worfliip him.' The
word, in the New Teflament, is no where ufcd but for
religious worj^ip, which is due to God alone ; and when
it is recorded of any that they did {TTOorrKV^uy}' perform thi

K 2 diit^


duty and homage ^denoted by this word to any but Godf it is
alio recorded as their idolatry, [Rev. xiii. 12. 16.] As to
feveral forts of religious worlhip divcrfitkd by its objc£ls,
the fcripturc knows nothing of it. The word properly
denotes to boiv dozvrif and when it refers to God, it
refpe(^s the inward reverence and fubjcclion of our
minds. And without controverfy, he who is to he wor-
fhipped, is greater than they whofc duty it is to worlhip

§ 2. In what fenfe is Chrift called (TrpcoToroxcg) * the
* firft-born f' The common anfwer is, not that ;iny was
born after him, (in the fame way) but that none was
born before him. But if we fuppofe that his perfon and
eternal generation may be intended in this expreflion, we
mull make {TroujroTOKOc) ' the firft-born,' to be the fame
with (jLcoj/oytvvj^) * only begotteiv,' which is now^ allowable.
On the other hand, Chrill: has not many brctliren in the
fame kind of fonlliip, whereby he is himfelf the Son of
God, and is on that account called the liril-born ; be-

1. Chrifl in his fonfhip is (^xovcycvvjc) the only begotten
Son of God; and therefore it is impoffible that God
lliould have any more fons in the fame kind with him ;
for if he had, certainly the Lord Chrifl could not be
(iLOvoyiyeig) his only begotten Son ; beiides, his elTence be-
ing infinite, took up the whole nature of divine fdiation;
fo that it is impojjiblc there JJjoidd be any other of the fame

2. The only kind of fonfliip that believers fhare in,
is that of adoption. Now if Chrill: be the Son of God in
this kind, he muft of uecellitv, antecedently to his adop-
tion, be a member of another family, that is, of the fa-
mily of Satan and the world, as we arc by nature, and
from thence be tranfplantcd by adoption into the family
of God ; which is blafphcmy to imagine.

3. If this were fo, that the Lord Chrift and believers
were the Sons of God by the fame kind of fonfhip, dif-
fering only in degrees, what great matter is there in the
condcfccnfion mcntionecf by the apofllc, [chap. ii. 11.]


Veii,6. epistle to the HEBREWS. 67

tiiat he is not adiamed to call them brethren ; which yet
he compares with the condei'ceiiiion of God, in being
called their God, [chap. xi. 16.] It is not, therefore,
the thing itfelf, of being the firjl-horn^ but the dignity and
privilege that attended it, which are defigned in this ap-
pellation, [fo Col. i. 15.] He is faid to be (ttdwtoto^co^
^oi(Tr^q yjTKTiicg) ' tlie firit-born of the creation ;' which is
no more but he that hath power and authority over all
the creatures of God ; and implies the fame with what
we have iniided on, of his being ' heir of all,' which
was the privilege of the firfl-born. And this privilege
was fomctimes tranfmitted to others that were not the
firfl-born, although the natural courfe of their nativity
could not be changed, [Gen. xxi. 10. xlix. 3, 4. 8.] The
Lord Chrift, then, by the appointment of the Father, be-
ing entrufted with the whole inheritance of heaven and
earth, and authority to difpofe of it, that he might give
out portions to all the reft of God's family, really is, and
is therefore called, the firji-hom thereof. This is the
fum : again, in another place, where the Holy Ghoft fore-
tells bringing forth into the world, amongft men, him
that is the Lord and heir of all, to undertake his work,
and to enter into his kingdom and glory, the Lord fpeaks
to this purpofe, * Let all the angels of God worlhip
* him.'

§ 3. To manifeft the propriety, appoiitenefs, and force
of this teftimony, three things are required :

I. That it is the Son who is intended in the pafTagc
referred to, and fo deiigned as the perfon to be wor-

II. That they are angels who are commanded to wor-
lliip him. Whence it will follow,

III. That on thefe fuppofitions the w^ords prove the
pre-eminence of Chrift above angels. And then,

IV. Way will be made for fuitable obfervations.

§ 4. (I.) With them who acknowledge the divine au-
thority of this epiftle, it might be fufficient for the fup-
port and dignity of this argument, to refleft, that the
place is applied to Chrift, and this paflage to miniftering



angels, by the fame liifallible Spirit who firft indited the
fciipture. Many of the ancients conceive the words to be
cited from Deut, xxxii. 42. where they exprellly occur in
tlic Sept. tranflation : but there arc no fuch words in the
original text, nor any thing fpoken that might give occa-
i'lon to the (cnCc cxprelTed in them ; but the whole verfe
is infcrtcd in the Greek, verfion quite befides the fcope of
the place. And indeed 1 no way queftion, but that this
addition to the GtecJc text was made i^fter the apoftle had
ufed this teflimony. For feme officious pcrfon, notcon-
fidcring from whence it was taken, becaufc the words
do not occur exatlly in the Greek, it is not unlikely in-
fcrtcd it there amidft other words of an alike found.
But later expofitors generally agree, that the words arc
taken out of Pfalm xcvii. 7. where the original is ren-
dered by the Sept. witli a very fmall variation in the
words, and none at all in the fenfe. And the matter of
the Pfalm makes it manifefl, that the Holy Ghoft treats in
it about God's ' bringing in the firft- begotten into the

• woild,* and t!ic fctting up of his kingdom by him. A
kingdom is dcfcribcd wherein (yod would reign, which
Should dcftrov idolatry and falfe worlliip ; a kingdom
vrhercin the illcs of the Gentiles fliould rejoice, being
called to an intcrcil therein ; a kingdom that was to be
preached, proclaimed, to the increafe of light and holi-
nefs in the world, with tlie manifeliation of tlic glory of
God to the ends of the earth. Each part declares the
kingdom of Chrifl to be intcniled in the Pfalm, and con-
fcquently that it is a prophecy of the ' biinging in of the

* tiril-begottcn into tlie world.*

^ 5. (H.) Our fccond inquirv is, whether the an-
gels be intended in thcfc woi ds. Some, as all the mo-
dern Jews, fay, that the gods of the Gentiles, thofe
whom they worlhip, are intendid ; fo confounding (o'nV^^
C3''/'Vs) j»-5^.v and ^•Jin idols in this place ; but,

It cannot Ix:, that the pralmill Ihouid exhort the
idols of the heathen, fome whereof were devils, fomc
dead iTKU, fome inanimate p;irts of the creation, to a


Ver.6. epistle to THE HEBREWS. ^

reverential worfliipping of God reigning over all. Be-

The Word Elohim doth never alone, and abfolntcly
taken^ iignify falfe gods or idols, but only when it is
joined with fome other word difcovering its application ;
as " his god," or *' their gods," or the gods of this or
that people : in which cafe it is rendered by the Sept,
fometimes {-i^mKov) " an idol," fometimes (yjru0770i'.]lo-A
an " idol made with hands," fometimes (Pj^zKh^y^a) an
'* abomination;" but here it hath no fuch limitation or
rcflridion. Whereas therefore there are fome creatures,
who by reafon of fome peculiar excellency and likcnefs to
God, or fubordination to him in his work, are called
gods, it maft be thefe, or fome of them, that are intended
in the expreffion : now thefe are either mag'ijlratcs or
angels ; not the farmer, there being no occaiion admlnif-
tered for fuch an apoftrophe, therefore che latter, who are
called Elohim (7\-you.ivoL ^loi. Cor. viii. 5.) are intended.
Having called on the w^iole creation to rejoice in the
bringing forth of the kingdom of God, and prefTed his
exhortation upon things on the earth, he turns to the
miniflering angels, and calls on them to the difcharge.of
their duty to the king of that kingdom. For the com-
mand itfelf, it confifted in thefe two thiiigs :

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 46)