NOW IN THE
GREATER THAN THE
The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those
For proofs of Paul being the author, see my Introduction. In the
Pauline method, the statement of subject and the division are put
before the discussion; and at the close, the practical follows the
doctrinal portion. The ardor of Spirit in this Epistle, as in First
John, bursting forth at once into the subject (without prefatory
inscription of name and greeting), the more effectively strikes the
hearers. The date must have been while the temple was yet standing,
before its destruction, A.D. 70; some time before
the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this Epistle of Paul
(2Pe 3:15, 16);
at a time when many of the first hearers of the Lord were
1. at sundry times--Greek, "in many portions." All was
not revealed to each one prophet; but one received one portion of
revelation, and another another. To Noah the quarter of the world to
which Messiah should belong was revealed; to Abraham, the nation; to
Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the family; to Micah, the town
of nativity; to Daniel, the exact time; to Malachi, the coming of His
forerunner, and His second advent; through Jonah, His burial and
resurrection; through Isaiah and Hosea, His resurrection. Each only
knew in part; but when that which was perfect came in Messiah, that
which was in part was done away
in divers manners--for example, internal suggestions, audible
voices, the Urim and Thummim, dreams, and visions. "In one way He was
seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in another by Elias, and in
another by Micah; Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, beheld different forms"
The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, and
manifold in form; the very multitude of prophets shows that they
prophesied only in part. In Christ, the revelation of God is
full, not in shifting hues of separated color, but Himself the pure
light, uniting in His one person the whole spectrum
spake--the expression usual for a Jew to employ in addressing
Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing especially for Jews, quotes Scripture,
not by the formula, "It is written," but "said," &c.
in time past--From Malachi, the last of the Old Testament
prophets, for four hundred years, there had arisen no prophet, in order
that the Son might be the more an object of expectation [BENGEL]. As God (the Father) is introduced as having
spoken here; so God the Son,
God the Holy Ghost,
the fathers--the Jewish fathers. The Jews of former days
by--Greek, "in." A mortal king speaks by his
ambassador, not (as the King of kings) in his ambassador. The
Son is the last and highest manifestation of God
(Mt 21:34, 37);
not merely a measure, as in the prophets, but the fulness of the Spirit
of God dwelling in Him bodily
(Joh 1:16; 3:34;
Thus he answers the Jewish objection drawn from their prophets. Jesus
is the end of all prophecy
and of the law of Moses
(Joh 1:17; 5:46).
2. in these last days--In the oldest manuscripts the
Greek is. "At the last part of these days." The Rabbins divided
the whole of time into "this age," or "world," and "the age to come"
(Heb 2:5; 6:5).
The days of Messiah were the transition period or "last part of these
days" (in contrast to "in times past"), the close of the existing
dispensation, and beginning of the final dispensation of which Christ's
second coming shall be the crowning consummation.
by his Son--Greek, "IN (His)
The true "Prophet" of God. "His majesty is set forth: (1)
Absolutely by the very name "Son," and by three glorious
predicates, "whom He hath appointed," "by whom He made the worlds,"
"who sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" thus His
course is described from the beginning of all things till he reached
(Heb 1:2, 3).
(2) Relatively, in comparison with the angels,
the confirmation of this follows, and the very name "Son" is
the "making the worlds,"
the "sitting at the right hand" of God,
Heb 1:13, 14."
His being made heir follows His sonship, and preceded His
making the worlds
(Pr 8:22, 23;
As the first begotten, He is heir of the universe
which He made instrumentally,
where "by the Word of God" answers to "by whom"' (the Son of God) here
Christ was "appointed" (in God's eternal counsel) to creation as an
office; and the universe so created was assigned to Him as a kingdom.
He is "heir of all things" by right of creation, and especially by
right of redemption. The promise to Abraham that he should be heir of
the world had its fulfilment, and will have it still more fully, in
Ga 3:16; 4:7).
worlds--the inferior and the superior worlds
Literally, "ages" with all things and persons belonging to them; the
universe, including all space and ages of time, and all material and
spiritual existences. The Greek implies, He not only appointed
His Son heir of all things before creation, but He also (better
than "also He") made by Him the worlds.
3. Who being--by pre-existent and essential being.
brightness of his glory--Greek, the effulgence of
His glory. "Light of (from) light" [Nicene Creed]. "Who is so
senseless as to doubt concerning the eternal being of the Son? For when
has one seen light without effulgence?"
[ATHANASIUS, Against Arius, Orations, 2].
"The sun is never seen without effulgence, nor the Father without the
Son" [THEOPHYLACT]. It is because He is the
brightness, &c., and because He upholds, &c., that He sat
down on the right hand, &c. It was a return to His divine glory
(Joh 6:62; 17:5;
Wisdom 7:25, 26,
where similar things are said of wisdom).
express image--"impress." But veiled in the flesh.
The Sun of God in glory beams
Too bright for us to scan;
But we can face the light that streams
For the mild Son of man.
of his person--Greek, "of His substantial essence";
upholding all things--Greek, "the universe."
Col 1:15, 17, 20,
which enumerates the three facts in the same order as here.
by the word--Therefore the Son of God is a Person; for He has
the word [BENGEL]. His word is God's
of his power--"The word" is the utterance which comes from His
(the Son's) power, and gives expression to it.
by himself--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
purged--Greek, "made purification of
. . . sins," namely, in His atonement, which graciously
covers the guilt of sin. "Our" is omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
Sin was the great uncleanness in God's sight, of which He has
effected the purgation by His sacrifice [ALFORD].
Our nature, as guilt-laden, could not, without our great High Priest's
blood of atonement sprinkling the heavenly mercy seat, come into
immediate contact with God. EBRARD says, "The
mediation between man and God, who was present in the Most Holy Place,
was revealed in three forms: (1) In sacrifices (typical propitiations
for guilt); (2) In the priesthood (the agents of those sacrifices); (3)
In the Levitical laws of purity (Levitical purity being attained by
sacrifice positively, by avoidance of Levitical pollution negatively,
the people being thus enabled to come into the presence of God without
sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high--fulfilling
This sitting of the Son at God's fighthand was by the act of the
it is never used of His pre-existing state co-equal with the Father,
but always of His exalted state as Son of man after His sufferings, and
as Mediator for man in the presence of God
a relation towards God and us about to come to an end when its object
has been accomplished
4. Being made . . . better--by His exaltation by the
(Heb 1:3, 13):
in contrast to His being "made lower than the angels"
"Better," that is, superior to. As "being"
expresses His essential being so "being made"
marks what He became in His assumed manhood
Paul shows that His humbled form (at which the Jews might stumble) is
no objection to His divine Messiahship. As the law was given by the
ministration of angels and Moses, it was inferior to the Gospel given
by the divine Son, who both is
as God, and has been made, as the exalted Son of man
much better than the angels. The manifestations of God by angels (and
even by the angel of the covenant) at different times in the Old
Testament, did not bring man and God into personal union, as the
manifestation of God in human flesh does.
by inheritance obtained--He always had the thing itself,
namely, Sonship; but He "obtained by inheritance,"
according to the promise of the Father, the name "Son," whereby
He is made known to men and angels. He is "the Son of God" is a sense
far exalted above that in which angels are called "sons of God"
(Job 1:6; 38:7).
"The fulness of the glory of the peculiar name "the Son of God," is
unattainable by human speech or thought. All appellations are but
fragments of its glory beams united in it as in a central sun,
A name that no than knew but He Himself."
5. For--substantiating His having "obtained a more excellent
name than the angels."
unto which--A frequent argument in this Epistle is derived from
the silence of Scripture
Heb 2:16; 7:3, 14)
this day have I begotten thee--
Fulfilled at the resurrection of Jesus, whereby the Father "declared,"
that is, made manifest His divine Sonship, heretofore veiled by His
Christ has a fourfold right to the title "Son of God"; (1) By
generation, as begotten of God; (2) By commission, as
sent by God; (3) By resurrection, as "the first-begotten of the
(4) By actual possession, as heir of all
[BISHOP PEARSON]. The Psalm
here quoted applied primarily in a less full sense to Solomon, of whom
God promised by Nathan to David. "I will be his father and he shall be
my son." But as the whole theocracy was of Messianic import, the
triumph of David over Hadadezer and neighboring kings
Ps 2:2, 3, 9-12)
is a type of God's ultimately subduing all enemies under His Son, whom
He sets (Hebrew, "anointed,"
on His "holy hill of Zion," as King of the Jews and of the whole earth.
the antitype to Solomon, son of David. The "I" in Greek is
emphatic; I the Everlasting Father have begotten Thee this day,
that is, on this day, the day of Thy being manifested as My Son, "the
first-begotten of the dead"
when Thou hast ransomed and opened heaven to Thy people. He had been
always Son, but now first was manifested as such in His once humbled,
now exalted manhood united to His Godhead. ALFORD
refers "this day" to the eternal generation of the Son: the day
in which the Son was begotten by the Father is an everlasting
to-day: there never was a yesterday or past time to Him, nor a
to-morrow or future time: "Nothing there is to come, and nothing past,
but an eternal NOW doth ever last"
Joh 10:30, 38; 16:28; 17:8).
The communication of the divine essence in its fulness, involves
eternal generation; for the divine essence has no beginning. But the
context refers to a definite point of time, namely, that of His having
entered on the inheritance
The "bringing the first-begotten into the world"
is not subsequent, as ALFORD thinks, to
but anterior to it (compare
6. And--Greek, "But." Not only this proves His
superiority, BUT a more decisive proof is
which shows that not only at His resurrection, but also in prospect of
His being brought into the world (compare
Heb 9:11; 10:5)
as man, in His incarnation, nativity
(Mt 4:10, 11