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fers to superiority in rank or dignity. The term "better" suggests the idea of
moral excellence, which is not the thought here. — Craik.

TuANSLATiONS. — KpiiT. Exalted above the angels. — Stuart. Greater. — Booth-
royd, Conijbeare. and Iloivson. Superior to the angels. — Craik. Tevof^,. Being
made. — Diodati. Aict(pop. More distinguished, more singular. — Ebrard.— Ed.


So, then, xpsiTTuv yiv6/x,ivo; is as much as "preferred," Kpiirru, y.ts.
" exalted," actually placed in more power, glory, dig- '^'^'"'
nity, than the angels. This John Baptist affirms of him, ' E/x'^rpoadsi
fiov ysyoviv on -Trpurog /aok ^r — " He was preferred before rne, because
he "v^s before me,'* — preferred above him, called to another man-
ner of office than that which John ministered in, made before or
above him in dignity, because he was before him in nature and
existence. And this is the proper sense of the words: the Lord
Jesus Christ, the revealer of the will of God in the gospel, is exalted
above, preferred before, made more excellent and. glorious than the
angels themselves, all or any of them, who ministered unto the Lord
in the giving of the law on mount Sinai.

Some object unto this interpretation, " That he who is said to be
made or set above the angels is supposed to have been lower than
they before." To which I answer. And so he was, not in respect of
essence, subsistence, and real dignity, but in respect of the infirmi-
ties and sufferings that he was exposed unto in the discharge of his
work here on the earth, as the apostle expressly declares, chap. ii. 9.

2. And this gives us light into our second inquiry on these words,
namely, luhen it was that Christ was thus exalted above the angels.

(L) Some say that it was in the time of his incarnation; for
then the human nature being taken into personal subsistence with
the Son of God, it became more excellent than that of the angels.
This sense is fixed on by some of the ancients, who are followed by
sundry modern expositors. But we have proved before that it is
not of either nature of Christ absolutely or abstractedly that the
apostle here speaketh nor of his person but as vested with his office,
and discharging of it. And, moreover, the incarnation of Christ was
part of his humiliation and exinanition, and is not, therefore, espe-
cially intended where his exaltation and glory are expressly spoken of.

(2.) Some say that it was at the time of his baptism, when he was
anointed with the Spirit for the discharge of his prophetical office,
Isa. Ixi. 1, 2. But yet neither can this designation of the time be
allowed; and that because the main things wherein he was made
lower than the angels, as his temptations, and sufferings, and death
itself, did follow his baptism and unction.

(3.) It must therefore be the time of his resurrection, ascen-
sion, and exaltation at the right hand of God, which ensued thereon,
that is designed as the season wherein he was made more excellent
than the angels, as evidently appears from the text and context:
for, — [1.] That was the time, as we have showed before, when he
was gloriously vested with that all j^ower in heaven and earth which
was uf old designed iinto him and prepared for him. [2.] The order
also of the apostle's discourse leads us to fix on this season : " After
he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down," etc.; " being made


SO much more excellent;" that is, therein and then he was so made.
[.J.] The testimony in the first place produced by the apostle in the
confirmation of his assertion is elsewhere, as we shall see, applied by
himself unto his resurrection and the glory that ensued, and conse-
quently they are also in this place intended. [4.] Tliis preference
of the Lord Christ above the angels is plainly included in that gr^int
of all power made unto him. Matt, xxviii. 18; expounded Eph. i.
21, 22. [5.] The testimony used by the apostle in the first place is
tlie word that God spake unto his King, when he set him upon his
holy liill of Zion, Ps. ii. 6-8 ; which typically expresseth his glorious
instalment in his heavenly kingdom.

The Lord Christ, then, who in respect of his divine nature was
always infinitely and incomparably himself more excellent tiian all
the angels, after his humiliation in the assumption of the human
nature, with the sufferings and temptations that he underwent, upon
his resurrection was exalted into a condition of glory, power, autho-
rity, excellency, and intrusted with power over them, as our apostle
here informs us.

3. In this preference and exaltation of the Lord Christ there is a
degree intima.ted: "Being made so much more,"' etc. Now our
conceptions hereabout, as to this place, are wholly to be regulated
by the name given unto him. ' Look,' saith the apostle, ' how much
the name given unto the Messiah excels the name given unto angels,
so much doth he himself excel them in glory, authority, and power;
for these names are severally given them of God to signify tlieir state
and condition.' What and how great this difference is we shall
afterwards see, in the consideration of the instances given of it by
the apostle in the verses ensuing.

4. The proof of this assertion which the apostle first fixeth on is
taken from the name of Christ, — his name, not given him by man, not
assumed by himself, but ascribed unto him by God himself. Neither
doth he here by the name of Christ or the name of the angels in-
tend any individual proper names of the one or the other; but such
descriptions as are made of them, and titles given unto them by
God, as whereby their state and condition may be known. ' Ob-
serve,' saith he, ' how they are called of God, by Avhat names and
titles he owns them, and you may learn the difference between them.'
This name he declares in the next verse: God said unto him, " Thou
art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." It is not absolutely his
beino- the Son of God that is intended, but that, by the testimony
of the Holy Ghost, God said these words unto him, " Thou art my
Son " and thereby declared his state and condition to be far above
that of the angels, to none of whom he ever said any such thing, but
Mieaks of them in a far distinct nianner, as we shall see. But hereof
in Liie next verse. ,


Some by this "excellent name" understand his power, and dignity,
and glory, called "a name above every name," Phil. ii. 9. But then
this can no way prove that which the apostle producoth it for, it
being directly the same with that which is asserted, in whose confir-
mation it is produced.

5. Tiie last thing considerable is, lioiu the Lord Christ came hij
this name, or obtained it. KixXr]pov6/jLrixs, — he obtained
it by " inheritance," as his peculiar lot and portion for '" "^""f^""*'
ever. In what sense he is said to be xXripov6//,og, " the heir," was before
declared. As he was made the heir of all, so he inherited a more
excellent name than the angels. Now he was made heir of all, in
that all things being made and formed by him, the Father com-
mitted unto him, as mediator, a peculiar power over all things, to be
disposed of by him unto all the ends of his mediation. So also be-
ing the natural aud eternal Son of God, in and upon the discharge
of his work, the Father declared and pronounced that to be his
name. See Luke i. 35; Isa. vii. 14, ix. 6. His being the Son of
God is the proper foundation of his being called so; and his discharge
of his office the occasion of its declaration. So he came unto it by
right of inheritance, when he was " declared to be the Son of God
with power, by the resurrection from the dead," Rom. i. 4.

This, then, is the sum of the apostle's proposition, and the confir-
mation of it. A name given by God to that end and purpose doth
truly di^clare the nature, state, and condition of him or them to whom
it is given; but unto Christ the mediator there is a name given of
God himself, exceedingly more excellent than any that by him is
given unto the angels: which undeniably evinceth that he is placed
in a state and condition of glory tar above them, or preferred before

I shall only observe one or two things concerning the Hebrews, to
whom the apostle wrote, and so put an end to our exposition of this

First, then, This discourse of the apostle, proving the pre-eminence
of the Messiah above the angels, was very necessary unto the Hebrews,
although it was very suitable unto their own principles, and in
general acknowledged by them. It is to this day a tradition amongst
them that the Messiah shall be exalted above Abraham, and Moses,
and the ministering angels. Besides, they acknowledged the scrip-
tures of the Old Testament, wherein the apostle shows them that
this truth was taught and confirmed. But they were dull and slow
in making application of these principles unto the confirmation of
their faith in the gospel, as the apostle chargeth them, chap. v. 1 1, 1 2.
And they had at that time great speculations about the glory, dig-
nity, and exceliency of angels, and were fallen into some kind of
worshipping of them. And it may be this curiosity, vanity, and

VOL.. xn.— 9


superstition in them was heightened by the heat of the controversy
between the Pharisees and Sadducees about them ; — the one denying
their existence and being; the other, whom the body of the people
followed, exalting them above measure, and inclining to the worship
of them. This the apostle declares, Col. ii. 18. Treating of those
Ju<laizing teachers who then troubled the churclies, he chargeth
them with fruitless and curious speculations about angels, and tlie
worshipping of them. And of their ministry in the giving of the
law they still boasted. It was necessary, therefore, to take them off
from this confidence of that privilege, and the superstition that
ensued thereon, to instruct them in the pre-eminence of the Lord
Christ above them all, that so their thoughts might be directed unto
him, and their trust placed in him alone. And this exaltati<m of
th" Messiah some of their later doctors assert on Dan. vii. 9, ^"'."IH '^'J.^
Vp"i I1D-13 ^T 1?,—" I beheld until the thrones were set," " placed,"
' exalted," — as in the original Chaldee, and as all old translations,
Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Arabic, render the words, however ours
read, "until the thrones were cast down," — affirming that one of those
thrones was for the Messiah, before whom all the angels ministered
in obedience.

Secondly, It may not be amiss to remark, that the Jews have
always had a tradition of the glorious name of the Messiah, which
even since their utter rejection they retain some obscure lemem-
brance of. The name which they principally magnify is JIIDDD,
"Metatron." Ben Uzziel, in his Targum on Gen. v., ascribes this
name to Enoch when he was translated: "He ascended into heaven
in the word of the Lord, Nan S"iDD int^LDD n^'DU Nipl," — "and his
name was called Metatron the great scribe." But this opinion of
Etioch being Metatron is rejected and confuted in the Talmud.
There they tell us that Metatron is D^'iyn iK', "the prince of the
world;" or, as Elias calls him in Thisbi, D"'ODn "IB>, "the prince of
God's presence." And in the first mention of this name, which is
Talmud. Tract. Sanhed. cap. iv. fol. 38, they plainly intimate that they
intend an uncreated angel by this expression. And such, indeed,
must he be unto whom may be assigned what they ascribe unto
Metatron ; for as Reuchlin, from the Cabbalists, informs us, they
say, piDDD HD'KJ ^C' '•m, — "The teacher of Moses himself was Me-
tatron." He it is, saith Elias, that is the angel always appearing in
the presence of God, of whom it is said, "My name is in him:" and
the Talmudists, that he hath power to blot out the sins of Israel,
whence they call him the chancellor of heaven. And Bechai, on
Exod. xxiii., affirms that this name signifies both a lord, a messenger,
and a keeper; — a lord, because he ruleth allj a messenger, because
he stands always before God to do his will; and a keejjer, because
he keepeth Israel. I confess the etymology that he gives of this


name to that purpose is weak and foolish; as is also that of Elias,
who tells us that Metatron is ]V pC'^n, — in the Greek tongue, "one
sent." But yet it is evident what is intended by all these obscure
intimations. The increated Prince of glory, and his exaltation over
all, with the excellency of his name, is aimed at. As for the word
itself, it is either a mere corruption of the Latin word, "mediator,"
such as is usual amongst them ; or a gematrical fiction to answer '•ntj',
"the Almighty," there being a coincidence in their numeral letters.

The doctrine of the preference and pre-eminence of Christ is
insisted on by the apostle unto the end of this chapter, and there-
fore I shall not treat of it until we have gone through all the proofs
of it produced ; nor then but briefly, having already in part spoken
of it, in our consideration of his sovereignty and lordship over all.

That which we are peculiarly instructed in by these words is

All pre-eminence and exaltation of one above others depends on
the supreme counsel and will of God.

The instance he gives of him who is exalted over all sufficiently
confirms our general rule. He had his "name," denoting his glory and
excellency, by "inheritance," — a heritage designed for him and given
unto him in the counsel, will, and good pleasure of God. He gave
him that "name above every name," Phil. ii. 9, and that of his own
will and pleasure: "It pleased the Father that in him all fulness
should dwell," that so "in all things he might have the pre-emi-
nence," Col. i. 16-19. He foreordained him unto it from eternity,
1 Pet. i. 20; and actually exalted him according to his eternal
counsel in the fulness of time. Acts ii. 36, v. 31.

This prelation, then, of Christ above all depends on the counsel
and pleasure of God; and he is herein a pattern of all privilege and
pre-eminence in others.

Grace, mercy, and glory, spiritual things and eternal, are those
wherein really there is any difference among the sons of men.
Now, that any one in these things is preferred before another, it
depends merely on the sole good pleasure of God. No man in these
things makes himself to differ from another, neither hath he any
thing that he hath not received. " God hath mercy on whom he will
have merc3^" And this discrimination of all things by the supreme
will of God, especially spiritual and eternal, is the spring, fountain,
and rule of all that gloiy which he will manifest and be exalted ia
unto eternity.

Verse 5,
The apostle proceedeth to the confirmation of his proposition
concerning the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above the angels,
and of his proof of it from the excellency of the name given unto


him; and this he doth by sundry testimonies produced out of the
Old Testament, two whereof are conjoined in this verse, as the verses
are divided in our Bibles.

Vev. 5. — Tivi yap iivs Torg tojv ayy'iXoir Yioc f/,o\j d eu, lyu Grjupot
yiyBvvrixd ct\

BWe TTore. Vulg., "dixit aliquando," — "said he sometime;" for "at any time."
Syr., Sv';? ^'r*? ^"'^'^ V?., "from at any time said God." "Eloah," "God," is sup-
plied needlessly, thoupjh better than those who would render sItts impersonally,
"was it said at anytime;" for it is express in the psalm from whence the words are
taken, ^'r? -:"%— "The Lord said." " The Lord said unto me, ^'^^^_ ^^^._ -C'^ '=?
"T".'?/' — "Thou my Son, this day have I begotten thee." The ellipsis of the
verb substantive in the original, which is perpetual, is supplied by the apostle
with tt, " Thou art my Son." Further difficulty in the grammatical sense of
the words there is not. And here we shall close this verse, or at least consider
this testimony by itself.'

Ver. 5. — Unto which of the angels did he at any time
[or, ever~\ say, Thou art my Son, this day have I be-
gotten thee?

Two things are considerable in these words: — 1. The manner of
the apostle's producing the testimony which he intended to make
use of: "Unto which of the angels said he at any time?" 2. The
testimony itself: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee "
In the former, three things may be observed : —
First, That the testimony which in a matter of faith he insisted
on is that of the Scripture. He refers the Jews unto that common
priuciple which was acknowledged between them. Men had not
as yet learned in such contests to make that cavilling return which
we are now used unto, ' How do you know those Scriptures to be
the word of God?' Nor, indeed, is it suitable unto common honesty
for men to question the credit and prostitute the authority of their
own most sacred principles, for no other end but to prejudice their

' TloTi, x.ct.1 'TTu.'hiv. " IloTS does not serve to strengthen the rlvi, but is indepen-
dent, signifying ' at any time,' and thus forms a marked antithe^is with 't^oCkiv.
This x.«.\ ircthiv is to be extended in the following way: K«i rivi xuv u.yyk'hosv
nra.'hiv htcs, 'To which of the angels has he at any time said, Tiiou art my Son? and
to which has he again said, I will be to him a Father?' This contains clearly the
two ideas : God has used such expressions to an angel not even a single time,
but to the Son not merely once, but again and again. Ysyiv. There is as-
cribed to the Messiah a relation of sonship to God such as is never applied, even
approximately, to any of the angels,— a relation of such a kind, that the Mts-iah
derives his real being not from David but from God." — Ebrard. " It may
fairly be doubted whether there exists any valid evidence in favour of the decla-
rative sense of the passage, and hence we have no alternative but to explain it
according to its literal acceptation, as an absolute affirmation of the divine son-
ship of Ciirist. That this is the exposition which would most readily 0( cur to

the Jews is too evident to require any detailed proof To-day' Vi\\\i\\% i^.

. . So Clement of Alexandria happily remarks, ' To-day is the image of an
eternal age.'" — Treffrey on the Sonship, po. 300-302 Ed.


adversaries'. But our apostle here confidently sends tlie Hebrews to
the acknowledged rule of their faith and worship, whose authority
he knew they would not decline, Isa. viii. 20.

Secondly, That the a{)ostle argues negatively from the authority
and perfection of the Scripture in things relating to faith and the
worship of God. ' It is nowhere said in the Scripture to angels;
therefore they have not the name spoken of, or not in that munner
wherein it is ascribed to the Messiah.' This argument, saith an
exposicor of great name on this place, seems to be weak, and not
unlike unto that which the heretics made use of in the like cases;
and therefore answers that the apostle argues negatively, not only
from the Scripture, but from tradition also. But this answer is far
more weak than the argument is pretended to be. The apostle
deals expressly in all this chapter from the testimony of Scripture,
and to that alone do his words relate, and therein doth he issue the
whole controversy he had in hand, knowing that the Jews had many
corrupt traditions, expressly contrary to what he undertook to prove;
particularly, that the law of Moses was eternally obligatory, against
which he directly contends in the whole epistle. An argument,
then, taken negatively from the authority of the Scripture in matters
of faith, or what relates to the worship of God, is valid and effectual,
and here consecrated for ever to the use of the church by the

Thirdly, That the apostle either indeed grants, or else, for argu-
ment's sake, condescends unto the apprehension of the Hebrews,
that there is a distinction of degrees and pre-eminence amongst the
angels themselves. To confirm, therefore, his general assertion of
the dignity and pre-eminence of Christ above them all, he provokes
them to instance in any one of them, which either indeed or in
their appi^ehension was promoted above others, to whom such words
as these were ever spoken: " To which of the angels said he." His
assertion respects not only the community of them, but any or all
of the chief or princes among them. There are ^''^C'Xnn D''"i;i'^ Dan.
X. 13, " chief princes" among the angels. And of them Michael,
the prince of the people of God, is said to be ^^^, "one;" that
is, not in order, but the chief in dignity, their head and leader.
Now, saith the apostle, to which of these, or of the rest of them,
were these words spoken?

Proceed we now to the testimony itself produced. Three things
are required to make it pertinent unto his purpose, and useful unto
the end for which he makes mention of it: — First, That He of
whom he speaks is peculiarly intended therein. Secondly, That
there be in it an assignation oj a name unto him made by God
himself, which thereon he might claim as his peculiar inheritance.
Thirdly, That this name, either absolutely or in its peculiar manner


of appropriation unto him, is more excellent than any that was
ever given unto angels, as a sign of their dignity, authority, and
excellency. And these things, for the clearing of the apostle's ar-
gument, must particularly be insisted on.

First, The words produced do peculiarly belong unto him to
whom they are applied; that is, it is the Mess-iah who is prophe-
sied of in the second psalm, from whence they are taken. This
with all Christians is put beyond dispute, by the application of it in
several places unto him ; as Acts iv. 25-27, xiii. 38 ; Heb. v. 5. It
is certain, also, that the Jews always esteemed this psalm to relate
unto the Messiah; they do so to this day. Hence the Targum on
the psalm expressly applies it unto him, thus rendering these words :
" O beloved ! as a son to his father, thou art pure to me as in the
day wherein I created thee." So are the words perverted by the
Targumist, not knowing what sense to ascribe unto them; which is
frequent with him. But it is manifest that the constant opinion of
the ancient Jews was that this psalm principally intended the Mes-
siah, nor did any of them of old dissent. Some of their later
masters are otherwise minded, but therein discover their obstinacy
and iniquity.

Thus Rabbi Solomon Jarchi, in his comment on this psalm, in
the Venetian edition of the great Masoretical Bibles, affirms that
" whatever is sung in this psalm our masters interpreted of Messiah
the king; but," saith he, "according unto the sound of the words,
and for the confutation of the heretics " (that is, Christians), " it is
convenient that we expound it of David." So wickedly corrupt
and partial are they now in their interpretations of the Scripture.
But these words are left out in the Basle edition of the same notes
and comments; by the fraud, it may be, of the Jews employed in
that work, so to hide the dishonesty of one of their great masters.
But the confession of the judgment of their fathers or predecessors
in this matter is therein also extant. And Aben Ezra, though he
would apply it unto David, yet speaks doubtfully whether it may
not better be ascribed unto the Messiah.

But this was not enough for the apostle, that those with whom
he dealt acknowledged these words to be spoken concerning the
Messiah, unless they were so really, that so his argument might
proceed " ex veris" as well as " ex concessis," — from what was true
as upon what was granted. This, then, we must next inquire into.

The whole psalm, say some, seems principally, if not only, to
intend David. He having taken the hill and tower of Zion, and
settled it for the seat of his kingdom, the nations round about tu-
multuated against him ; and some of them, as the Philistines, pre-
sently engaged in war against him for his ruin, 2 Sam. v. 1 7. To
declare how vain all their attempts should be, and the certainty of


God's purpose in raising hira to the kingdom of Israel, and for his
preservation therein against all his adversaries, with the indignation
of God against them, the Holy Ghost gave out this psalm for the
comfort and establishment of the church in the persuasion of so
great a mercy. And this is borrowed of Rashi.

But suppose the psalm to have a further respect than unto David
and his temporal kingdom, and that it doth point at the ]\Iessi;ih

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