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The Epistle to the HebrewsEdit

A Summary of three exegesiEdit

Main Page

The Epistle to the Hebrews Wherein it is put forward that Jesus, upon ascension into heaven, assumes the office of High Priest whereby the access of man to God is finally and fully assured. “Hebrews does not name its author nor identify the intended readers, nor does it give us any explicit information about the provenance, the destination, or the date of composition… unless fresh evidence comes to light, Hebrews must remain a witness to the richness and variety of thought in the first century among Christians not known to us by name.” TIB XI pp. 577, 583, & 589

“Heb’s” [Hebrews’] “extensive use of the contrast between the eternal, stable, and abiding nature of heavenly reality and the transitory and imperfect nature of all that is outside that sphere has led many scholars to maintain that the intellectual world of the author was that of idle Platonism, the same as that of the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.”  TNJBC p. 921 

“… [this] means that [the author’s] .. Christian convictions are presented in the atmosphere of Platonic idealism… “It has long been recognized that Hebrews betrays a close kinship with the thinking of Philo of Alexandria, extending to very striking verbal parallelism… What the parallels … prove is that he worked with a non-Palestinian Jewish tradition…The Logos for Philo is prevailingly a philosophical concept and can be equated with a ‘power of God’ or ‘reason in man’; and while Philo has genuine religious objectives and can indeed conceive of an incarnate Logos he could not have concentrated the Logos in one historic person whose human experience is the one and only source of salvation. “… [the author’s] attempt to validate the sacrifice as a permanent principle is good Judaism.” TIB XI p. 587

“We may sum up our author’s Christology negatively by saying that he has nothing to do with the older Hebrew messianic hopes of a coming Son of David, who would be a divinely empowered human leader to bring in the kingdom of God on earth; and that while he still employs the figure of a militant, apocalyptic king … who will come again…, this is not of the essence of his thought about Christ.

“Positively, our author present Christ as divine in nature, and solves any possible objection to a divine being who participates in human experience, especially in the experience of death, by the priestly analogy. He seems quite unconscious of the logical difficulties of his position proceeding from the assumption that Christ is both divine and human, at least human in experience although hardly in nature.” TIB XI p. 588

“This article has avoided the use of the term ‘mystical,’ a slippery word; yet it is clear that our author does not follow the Pauline line in setting forth the relation of the Christian to Christ.  ‘In Christ,’ ‘in the Spirit,’ are expressions and ideas foreign to this thinking…. Christ’s priesthood was a priesthood of personality – although that word is not used – reaching home to men where they live and drawing them to God…  

“The characteristic ideas of Paul are lacking in Hebrews and vice versa. Hebrews knows nothing of the teaching of justification and does not emphasize the Resurrection (it is the Ascension that concerns the author; cf. 4:14), mystical union with Christ, the new life through the Spirit and in the spirit, or reconciliation. Paul does not present Christ as priest … “For Paul the Incarnation is an evidence of the condescension of Christ (II Cor. 8:9); for Hebrews it assures his priestly compassion, fellow feeling, and sympathy…. Paul thinks of the law predominantly under its moral aspects; Hebrews, in respect to its ritualistic requirements… In our author’s use of Hellenistic ideas, especially the dualistic two-world concept, he has gone several steps beyond Paul who … is much more basically eschatological in his thinking.” TIB XI p. 590 Authorship is of less interest to me than the question of what Hebrews adds to progress of Christianity from its roots in the sayings and life of Jesus. The effect of Hebrews, as far as I can tell, has been to reinforce the idea of exclusivity of Christianity. “There are many signs that Hebrews was ‘late’ as our author regarded lateness. The gospel ‘was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him’ (2:3) – a sentence almost enough in itself to rule out Pauline authorship – showing that author and readers alike are second-generation Christians… converts once removed from the original message of the Lord.” TIB XI p. 593 “The one certainty is that Hebrews was written before I Clement, who quotes extensively from the writing as authoritative but without naming its author. If we assume that I Clement was written about A.D. 96, Hebrews must have been written before that time.” TIB XI p. 594 Text Chapter One “1. The God who spoke from the first many times and in many ways to the fathers by the prophets 2. speaks to us in these last days by the son whom he set to inherit everything, through whom also he created heavens and the world.”

“The last days are ‘these’ days; the turn of the ages is now. The author shares the view of I Pet. 1:20 rather than holding that the End is still ahead, as in II Pet.” [Peter] “3:3; Jude 18; II Tim.” [Timothy] “3:1.” TIB XI p. 599 “The idea of the Son as the active agent of Creation (cf. John 1:3), so foreign to primitive Hebrew thinking, appeared in Judaism under the form of Wisdom as the forthgoing power of God, and in Hellenistic circles under the form of the Logos.” TIB XI p. 600 “3. He projected his glory and image of his self, and bore everything by his word, so great is its power,” “The same form of expression is used by an apocryphal writer, Wisdom, chap. vii. 26 where, speaking of the uncreated Wisdom of God, he says, ‘For she is the splendor of eternal light, απαυγασμα γαρ εσι φοτος αιδιου,” [apaugasma gar esi fotos aidiou] ‘and the unsullied mirror of the image of God, and the image of his goodness.’” A.C. VI p. 652 “and after he cleansed sins, sat to the right of the majesty in the heights.”

“It is well to consider whether these extreme statements about the unique relation of the Son to God and to the universe do not compromise monotheism.  Our author, like other N.T. writers , is not conscious of any threat to monotheism in his Christology.   It is God alone who reveals himself in his own nature, glory, and creative power in the Son.  The accent is upon God’s action and revelation in and through the Son, whose identity in nature with God simply ensures that the revelation is truly from and of God.  The real problem the author has set for himself is to explain Jesus’ humiliating suffering and death.”  TIB XI p. 602

… “5. For of whom of the angels did He ever say,”

‘You are my son; today I have begotten you’”

“…the verse guarantees the sonship of Christ.  That the angels were frequently called the ‘sons of God’ in the O.T. (cf. Gen. 6:2, Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) and in Jewish writings is either unknown to our author or is regarded as irrelevant to the sense in which he uses the word.”  TIB XI pp. 604-605

“The author of Heb understood the ‘today’ of Ps 2:7 as the day of the exaltation of the risen Christ (cf. Acts 13:33)” TNJBC p. 923 “or

‘I will be father to him and he will be son to me’?”

“… quoted by St. Paul, Acts xiii.33, as referring to the resurrection of Christ.” A. C. VI p. 654

“According to 2 Sam 7:15, the relationship between God and the Davidic ruler was that of father to son. Consequently the day of the king’s accession to power was the day on which he was ‘begotten’ as the son of God.” TNJBC p. 923

“6. And, when he brings the first born to the world, he says,

‘And all the gods worship him’”

“A quotation from Deut. 32:43 (LXX) and Ps. 97:7” TIB XI p. 605

“7. while of the angles he said,

“I will make spirits of the angels, His servants will be blazing fires.”

“8. But of the son he says,

‘Your throne, God, is forever and ever The scepter of your kingdom will be an upright scepter’

“Of itself, the application of the name ‘God’ to him is of no great significance; the Ps had already used it of the Hebr king to whom it was addressed. Undoubtedly, the author of Heb saw more in the name than what was conveyed by the court style of the original…” TNJBC p. 923 … “11. They will pass away and you will remain standing. 12. They will wear out like clothing.”

“It is remarkable that our word world is a contraction of wear old; a term by which our ancestors expressed the sentiment expressed in this verse.” A.C. VI p. 657

“14. Are not all of them spirits of service, sent to serve those destined to inherit salvation?”

“What will impress the student of the quotations” [vss. 5-14] “is that our author is not interested in the original meaning or the original context; e.g., Deut. 32:43 (LXX, cf. Ps. 97:7) is clearly an exhortation to worship God and contains no messianic implication. Many of the quotations, conceivably all of them, may have been messianically interpreted in this time and the circles in which the author moved, but he assumes a method of scriptural exegesis which is based on the belief that hidden meanings become clear to the reader who has the ‘key.’ The ‘key’ is the sonship of Christ, as for Philo it is the Logos. What are we to say about such a method? It is more important to understand than to condemn him. He and his contemporaries reverse the modern developmental approach to the Bible. Without the concept of an evolving, growing revelation of God, he reads back into the ancient scriptures intimations and forshadowings of the truth as he sees it in Christ. Every passage, as equally inspired, must yield its quota of divine truth to the eye upon which the perfect revelation has dawned. Unjustifiable as this method undoubtedly is for the interpretation of scripture, it yet suggests a valid principle which the historical method tends to obscure, viz., that the prophets were dealing at first hand with God and God with them, and that to regard them as items in a ‘process’ and nothing more is to disregard their essential significance.” TIB XI p. 604

Chapter Two … “3. How can we escape if we do not attend to this great salvation, which was first spoken from the mouth of the lord and confirmed to us by his listeners?”

“Though John the Baptist went before our Lord to prepare his way, yet he could not be properly said to preach the Gospel, and even Christ’s preaching was a beginning of the great proclamation; it was his own spirit in the apostles and evangelists, the men who heard him preach, that opened the whole mystery of the kingdom of heaven.” A.C. VI pp. 660-661

“… incidentally” [this] rules out Paul as the author of Hebrew.” TIB XI p. 610 … “10 … he, for whose sake everything is and by whom everything is, was fit, in his bringing many sons to glory, to perfect, by suffering, the engineer” [bretkhu] “of their salvation.”

perfect, by suffering “… an answer to the grand objection of the Jews: ‘The Messiah is never to be conquered, or die; but will be victorious, and endure forever.” A.C. VI p. 663 … “14. And since the children were partakers in flesh and blood, he partook in flesh and blood himself in order to destroy, by his death, that which is in the hand of the ruler” [χρατος kratos] “of death; the Adversary.”

“This is spoken in conformity to an opinion prevalent among Jews, that there was a certain fallen angel who was called מליק המות malik hamaveth, the angel of death, i.e., one who had the power of separating the soul from the body, when God decreed that the person should die. There were two of these according to the Jewish writers… Thus Tob haarets, fol. 31 ‘There are two angels which preside over death; one is over those who die out of the land of Israel, and his name is Sammael: the other is he who presides over those who die in the land of Israel, and this is Gabriel.’” A.C. VI p. 665

“The paradox that death was nullified by Christ’s death is similar to that of Rom 8:3, where Paul says that God condemned sin by sending his son in the likeness of sinful flesh. The author gives no reason beyond saying that it was fitting to God to act thus.” TNJBC p. 926 … “17. Thus it was that he was likened to his brethren in everything, so that he could be high priest, merciful and faithful in the things of God, in order to reconcile the sins of the people.”

“We assume that his readers were familiar with the idea that the devil has the power of death – it was current in both Jewish and Christian thinking – and that they will understand how the human experience of Jesus, culminating in his death and exaltation, vanquishes the devil, for the writer does not explain it.” TIB XI p. 616 … Chapter Three

“1. Therefore, holy brethren, whose portion is in your heavenly calling, regard Jesus, the emissary and chief priest of the proclamation of our belief.”

“The not attending to this circumstance, and the not discerning between actual positive holiness, and the call to it, as the consecration of the persons, has led many commentators and preachers into destructive mistakes. Antinomianism has had its origin here: and as it was found that many persons were called saints, who, in many respects, were miserable sinners, hence it has been inferred that they were called saints in reference to a holiness which they had in another: and hence the Antinomian imputation of Christ’s righteousness to unholy believers, whose hearts were abominable before God; and whose lives were a scandal to the Gospel. Let, therefore, a due distinction be made between persons, by their Profession holy, i.e. consecrated to God: and persons who are faithful to that profession, and are both inwardly and outwardly holy. They are not all Israel who are of Israel; a man, by a literal circumcision, may be a Jew outwardly: but the circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, makes a man a Jew inwardly. A man may be a Christian in profession, and not such in heart: and those who pretend, that although they are unholy in themselves, they are reputed holy in Christ, because his righteousness is imputed to them, most awfully deceive their own souls.” A.C VI p. 667

“7. Therefore, as the holy spirit said,

‘Today’, if you attend to his voice, 8. ‘do not harden your hearts as in MeRiYBaH, as in the day of MaSaH in the desert, 9. when your fathers tried me, tested me, and saw my work forty years, 10. wherefore I was disgusted with that generation, and I said, “If their hearts err, And they do not know my ways!”, 11. whereby I swore in my anger, “If they come to my rest!”’”

“Verse 7. Wherefore; (as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day] These words are quoted form Psa. xcv. 7. And as they were written by David and attributed here to the Holy Ghost, it proves that David wrote by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit. … The words strongly imply, as indeed does the whole epistle, the possibility of falling from the grace of God, and perishing everlastingly: and without this supposition, these words, and all such like, which make more than two-thirds of the whole of divine revelation, would have neither sense nor meaning… Angels fell – Adam fell – Solomon fell – and multitudes of believers have fallen, and, for aught we know, rose no more; and yet we are told that we cannot finally lose the benefits of our conversion! Satan preached this doctrine to our first parents: they believed him – sinned – and fell; and brought a whole world to ruin.” A.C. VI pp. 669-670

“In the OT the exodus had served as a symbol of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Exile (Isa 42:9; 43:16-21; 51:9-11)…” TNJBC p. 927

“12. Beware, brethren, that there not be in any of you an evil or faithless heart, diverging from the living God.”

“The expression ‘to apostatize from the living God’ is frequently taken as indication that Heb was written not to Jewish Christians in danger of relapsing into Judaism, but to pagan converts; for a return to Judaism would not, it is argued, be called an ‘apostatizing from the true God’.” TNJBC p. 927

“The intense seriousness of the warning is emphasized by the danger of hardening of the heart and of falling away from the living God, and by the implication that the readers face a decision which may exclude them from salvation as irrevocably as the wilderness generation was excluded from the Promised Land. The writer will recur to the impossibility of a second repentance (cr. 6:4 ff.; 10:26; 12: 15-17, 25), which is based on the perfect and final offering of Christ … This teaching, uniquely stressed in Hebrews, was to play an important role in subsequent Christian life and thought..” TIB XI p. 625 … “14. Thus we are partakers of Anointed if we hold on, without failing, to the end, with the confidence with which we began.”

“This and similar expressions derive from the basic outlook of our author, who thinks of religion in terms of worship, the summon bonum” [Latin: highest good] “being access to God through the purification of sins.” TIB XI p. 625

Chapter Four … “4. Since somewhere he said regarding the seventh day, ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his work’, 5. and since he said again, ‘lest there come to my rest’, 6. while there are those for whom it remains to enter into her, and those who were evangelized first who did not enter because of rebellion, 7. again he witnessed of a special day – today – in his saying in the mouth of David as told above and this after much time, ‘Today, if you listen, do not harden your hearts.’ 8. Had Joshua [Ιησυς Yesus Jesus = Joshua (God is savior)] brought them to the rest, he would not have spoken after that of another day. 9. Therefore there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

“The ingenious interweaving of Gen. 2:2, the story of the fate of those who perished in the wilderness because of unbelief recorded in Ps. 95, and the promise of today in the same psalm, together with the application of the whole to the current situation of the church, is a type of argument thoroughly familiar in the first century and not unknown today. We will see this kind of scriptural interpretation again, notably in the Melchizedek speculation (ch. 7). The fact that no responsible scholar today would juggle scripture in this fashion must not be allowed to obscure the underlying thought of the writer.” TIB XI pp. 631-632

“14. And since we have a great High Priest, who passed by way of the heavens, (is he not Jesus the son of God?) we hold fast to the profession of our faith. 15. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot feel our weaknesses with us, rather one who, like us, has been tried in everything, but without sin.”

“The writer is implying here – and this is unique in the N.T. – that temptations in every respect like our own were experienced by Jesus, and that his sinlessness was the result of conscious decision and intense struggle (c.f. 5:7-9; 12:2-4), rather than the mere formal consequence of his divine nature. … [The writer] must not be robbed of the credit… of being the first to ascribe to Jesus full human experience and at the same time full divinity, without, at least from his point of view, compromising either.” TIB XI pp. 639-640

“…though he had a perfect human body, and human soul, yet that body was perfectly tempered; it was free from all morbid action, and, consequently, from all irregular movements. His mind, or human soul, being free from all sin, being every way perfect, could feel no irregular temper, nothing that was inconsistent with infinite purity. In all these respects he was different from us; and cannot, as man, sympathize with us in any feelings of this kind…” A.C. VI p. 679

Chapter Five

“1. Every high priest, taken from among men, is appointed for the sake of men unto the things of God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2. He can spare [μετριοπαθειν metriopathein] the erring and the strayers because he too is encompassed with weakness.”

“… (μετριοπαθειν) is a word common with the Stoics and witnesses to our author’s culture. It connotes the mean between censoriousness and sentimentality, and although our author hardly means by it an approach toward that apathy (απαθεια [apatheia]) which was the Stoic goal, it suits his purpose admirably, for the true priest must combine severity toward sin and sympathy for the sinner. He limits the possibility of forgiveness through sacrifice to sins of ignorance and waywardness arising from human weakness, as did the law of sacrifice itself. The day of Atonement, which is in his mind, availed only for such sins, not for deliberate and willful disloyalty. As we shall see, our author finds no place for the forgiveness of such sins.” TIB XI pp. 642-643

“7. And, in the days he was in a flesh and blood body, he brought forth prayers and supplications in great shouting and tears unto the He who can save from death, and truly was heard because of the fear of God in him.”

“Who in the days of his flesh] The time of his incarnation, during which he took all the infirmities of human nature upon him; and was afflicted in his body and human soul just as other men are; irregular and sinful passions excepted.

“… ‘there is no gate which tears will not pass through’ Rabbi Jehudah Sohar, Exod. Fol. 5.” A.C. VI p. 682

Chapter Six

“4. Thus those whose eyes had already shown them, who had experienced the gifts of the heavens, who were given their portion in the holy spirit, 5. and who tasted the good word of God and powers of the world to come 6. and yet apostatize – it is impossible to renew them again to repentance , they being crucifiers anew of the son of God, holding him in contempt.”

“Vs. 6b means that they themselves crucify the Son of God when they apostatize, not that they crucify him ‘again’ …, for the initial Crucifixion was necessary for his priestly ministry and our author does not regard it as a crime (contrast Acts 2:23).” TIB XI p. 653

“7. Behold, the ground that drinks the rain that falls upon her many times and produces good herbs for those who work her receives a blessing from God, 8. but if thorns and thistles grow she is worthless and brought to cursing, and her end is to be burnt.”

“The agricultural illustration …. Adds little to the thought and is not very apt… Our author was a man of the study, as Paul was of the city, and, in striking contrast to Jesus, they are equally unimpressive when they turn to illustrations from nature.” TIV XI p. 653 … “13. When God promised his promise to Abraham, he swore on himself, since there was none greater than he upon whom he could swear. He said, ‘For a blessing I have blessed you and a multitude I will multiply of you’. 15. And thus, in his persisting patiently, Abraham acquired that which he had been promised. 16 Men swear by greater than they, and the oath is to them a seal of truth which puts an end to all disputation. … “18. And when God wanted to show more forcefully to the heirs of the promise that his intention was not subject to change, he obligated himself by oath. 18. In this way, upon two unchanging things,” [the oath and the promise] “(lest God lie by them), we are rescued, we are greatly encouraged to hold on to the hope of rest before him, 19. hope that is a secure and firm anchor for us, and reaches to within the veil, 20. into the place that Jesus, the vanguard who works before us, enters for us, and is the chief priest ‘forever of my oracle, Melchizedek’.”

“This formal argument is thoroughly uncongenial to modern modes of thought. It is a kind of midrash on Gen. 22:16-17, combined with Lev. 16:2 (vs. 19), issuing in Ps. 110:4 (vs. 20) and so tying up the argument with 4:14 and 5:10. Before asking what validity, if any, this method of interpreting scripture may have for us, let us note some points of interest in this strange piece of exegesis. First, it was not strange to the writer’s contemporaries. The oath of God by himself had intrigued others, notably Philo. Philo is troubled by the anthropomorphism of the phrase and inclines to regard it as a concession the O.T. writer makes to the human understanding of his readers… Our author betrays no knowledge of the recorded saying of Jesus about oaths in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:33-37; cf. Jas. 5:12)

“The writer’s artificial use of scriptural witnesses, by its very disregard of the historical setting and the literal meaning of the passages cited, testifies to his sensitiveness to a divine Voice speaking through the changing modes of human understanding directly from God to man.” TIB XI pp. 657-660

“18. …we the rescued are greatly encouraged to hold onto the hope of repose before us, 19. hope which is as a secure and firm anchor to our lives, and arrive to within the veil.”

‘The apostle here changes the allusion: he represent the state of the followers of God in this lower world, as resembling that of a vessel striving to perform her voyage thorough a troublesome, tempestuous, dangerous sea. At last she gets near the port; but the tempest continues, the water is shallow, broken, and dangerous, and she cannot get it: in order to prevent her being driven to sea again, she heaves out her sheet anchor, which she has been able to get within the pier head, by means of her boat, though she could not herself get in; then, swinging at the length of her cable, she rides out the storm in confidence, knowing that her anchor is sound, the ground good in which it is fastened, and the cable strong. Though agitated, she is safe; though buffeted by wind and tide, she does not drive: by and by the storm ceases, the tide flows in, her sailors take to the capstan, wear the ship against the anchor, which still keeps its bite or hold, and she get safely into the port.” A.C. VI p. 693 … Chapter Seven

“Ch. 7 is the famous Melchizedek speculation in which by an ingenious use of etymology and Scripture the author proves to his own, and perhaps to his readers’, satisfaction that although Jesus was not a priest after the Levitical order, he was a ‘a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek,’ and that the Melchizedek priesthood, the perfect as contrasted to the imperfect, was destined to supersede it, and with it the law on which it was based…” TIB XI p. 578 “The form of this scriptural argument” [7:1-28] “is quite like the discussion of ‘rest’ (3:6c-4:13) in that the author combines what we would call a historic incident with verses from the psalms, which lift it out of the temporal into the eternal or spiritual realm. We need to remember that this is a legitimate method for interpreting scripture by the standards of the times, and that it is, in fact, quite mild as an example of allegory when compared with the best-known exponent of that school, Philo of Alexandria.” TIB XI p. 661

“1.This MaLKhiY TseDeQ [Melchizedek], king of SaLayM [Salem], priest to the high God, who went out to greet ‘aBRaHaM [Abraham] when Abraham returned from beating the kings, and blessed him, 2. and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth of everything (whose name meant righteous king, who was also king of Salem, which means king of the peace), 3. without father, without mother, without noteworthy genealogy; there is neither beginning to his days nor end to his life, yet, like the son of God, he remained priest forever.”

“According to a principle of rabbinic exegesis, what is not mentioned in the Torah does not exist …. This is a partial but probably insufficient explanation for the ascription of eternal life to Melchizedek… though Melchizedek’s ‘eternity’ furnished the author with a typology that suited his purpose since it provided not only a foreshadowing of Jesus’ priesthood but a contrast with that of the sons of Levi (v8), it also creates a problem, viz., are there, then two eternal priests, Melchizedek and Jesus?... Perhaps one must conclude that the Melchizedek-Jesus typology, for all its usefulness to the author of Heb, raises also a difficulty that he simply ignored.” TNJBC p. 932

“It is vs. 3 that most troubles the modern reader. The silence of Genesis on the genealogy of Melchizedek is pressed to mean that he had none… He regards historical events as valid but shadowy intimations of unseen and timeless realities. He is not prepared to go all the way with Philo and his school in permitting history to evaporate into mere representations of reality, for he focuses attention upon the radical significance of Jesus’ human experience; and man’s apprehension of the unseen does not depend on any innate potentiality (Logos), but upon an objective living way to God opened up by Jesus as the perfect priest.” TIB XI pp. 662-664

“The object of the apostle, in thus producing the example of Melchisedec, was to show – 1. That Jesus was the person prophesied of in the cxth Psalm; which Psalm the Jews uniformly understood as predicting the Messiah. 2. To answer the objections of the Jews against the legitimacy of the priesthood of Christ, taken from the stock from which he proceeded. The objection is this: - if the Messiah is to be a true priest, he must come from a legitimate stock, as all the priests under the law have regularly done; otherwise we cannot acknowledge him to be a priest. But Jesus of Nazareth has not proceeded from such a stock; therefore we cannot acknowledge him for a priest, the antitype of Aaron. … 1. God had commanded (lev. xxi. 10.) that the high priest should be chosen from among their brethren; i.e. from the family of Aaron. 2. That he should marry a virgin. 3. He must not marry a widow. 4. Nor a divorced person. 5. Nor a harlot. 6. Nor one of another nation. He who was found to have acted contrary to these requisitions, was, jure divino,” [by divine law] “excluded from the pontificate. On the contrary, it was necessary that he who desired this honour should be able to prove his descent from the family of Aaron; and if he could not, though even in the priesthood, he was cast out, as we find from Ezra ii. 62. and Nehem. vii.63.

“To these divine ordinances the Jews have added, 1. That no proselyte could be a priest; 2. Nor a slave; 3. Nor a bastard; 4. Nor the son of a Nethinim ; 5. Nor one whose father exercised any base trade. And that they might be well assured of all this, they took the utmost care to preserve their genealogies, which were regularly kept in the archives of the temple. When any person aspired to the sacerdotal function, his genealogical table was carefully inspected; and if any of the above blemishes was found in him, he was rejected.

“He who could not support his pretension by just genealogical evidences, was said by the Jews to be without father. Thus in the Bershith Rabba, sect. 18. fol. 18. on these words, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother – it is said, if a proselyte to the Jewish religion have married his own sister, whether by the same father or by the same mother, they cast her out, according to Rabbi Meir. But the wise men say, if she be of the same mother, they cast her out; but, if of the same father, they retain her, שאין אב לגוי” [She’aYN ‘aB LeGOiY] ‘for a Gentile has not father’; i.e. his father is not reckoned in the Jewish genealogies. In this way both Christ and Melchisedec were without father and without mother; i.e. were not descended from the original Jewish sacerdotal stock. Yet Melchisedec, who was a Canaanite, was a priest of the Most High God.” A.C. VI pp. 694-695

4. Behold how great is he to whom Abraham our father gave a tenth of the best of the plunder. 5. Are not the sons of Levi, the heirs of the priesthood, decreed by the Torah to take a tenth from the people (that is, from their brethren)? So too are those excretions [יוצאי] of Abraham’s loins.”

“… The Levites received a tenth from the people. The priests received a tenth of this tenth from the Levites…” A. C. VI p. 696

“6. But he who was unrelated to their family took a tenth from Abraham, and blessed him who was obliged to him [הבטחה]. 7. There is no appeal of this, that the lesser is blessed of the greater than he.”

“In spite of the axiomatic tone of these words, this contradicts what is said in the OT (cf. 2 Sam 14:22; Job 31:20)…” TNJBC p. 932 … “19. The Torah fulfills nothing; instead came a better hope, and by her we approach God.”

“The priesthood of the believers – “What the OT reserved to the priesthood is attributed to all believers” TNJBC p. 933

“Limited as he is by the formal and to us rather artificial character of this argument, his thought from time to time overflows it.” TIB XI p. 668

“20. And so that this not be without an oath –“

“… ‘the Levitical priesthood, and the law of Moses, being established without an oath, were thereby declared to be changeable at God’s pleasure’. This judicious note is from Dr. Macknight.” A.C. VI p. 699 … Chapter Eight … “6. And here Jesus receives a higher priesthood, just as he is the mediator of a higher covenant that was established on a better promise.”

“The importance of the covenant idea both in Judaism and in early Christianity can hardly be overestimated. It was the word used (berît) to characterize Judaism as a religion of moral obligations and moral choices. Other religions accepted their gods as a natural and inevitable necessity… But Yahweh chose Israel as his people, and the people of Israel freely accepted the divine choice and the obligations involved. … This view of covenant was closely bound up with the development of Judaism as an ethical monotheism.” TIB XI pp. 678-679

“9. YHVH said ‘Not like the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day when I held their hands to remove them from the land of Egypt, which covenant they violated, for which I loathed them,’”

“And I regarded them not] Καγω ημελησα αυτων,” [Kago emelesa auton] “and I neglected them, or despised them; but the words in the Hebrew text in the prophet, are ואנכי בעלתי בם veanoci baalti bam, which we translate, although I was a husband to them. If our translation be correct, is it possible to account for this most strange difference between the apostle and the prophet? Could the Spirit of God be the author of such a strange, not to say contradictory, translation of the same word? Let it be observed: - 1. That the apostle quotes from the Septuagint; and in quoting a version accredited by, and commonly used among the Jews, he ought to give the text as he found it…” A.C. VI p. 704

“10. ‘for this is the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel after those days;’ said YHVH, ‘I will set my law among them and upon their hearts I will write it, and I will be God to them and they will be a people to me.’”

“What distresses the modern student is our author’s failure to make the most of this magnificent passage which is one of the high-water marks of the O.T. Taken by itself, the Jeremiah passage seems to ignore entirely the priestly system so important for our author, and to present religion, in its purely spiritual aspects. The Mosaic law with its insistence upon code and conduct is set aside for a religion whose laws are written in the mind and on the heart. Obedience, the knowledge of God, and forgiveness of sins are still essential, but they are conceived in terms of inwardness. All this our author seems to ignore in the interest of making his one point: the new antiquates the old… the sacrificial system on earth is ended, not because it is repudiated, but because it is perfected. In his own way, the way of the liturgist, he presents religion in wholly spiritual terms.” TIB XI pp. 681-683

Chapter Nine … “2. …they raised an outer tabernacle, in which were the menorah, and the table, and the bread of the presence; and it was called holy. 3. And from that house to the second veil, the tabernacle called the holy of holies. 4. And in it were the golden incense altar and the cabinet of the covenant, covered about with gold. And in the cabinet of the covenant a gold jar (in which was the manna), the staff of Aaron (which blossomed), and the tablets of the covenant.”

“It is evident that the apostle speaks here of the tabernacle built by Moses … The ark of the covenant and the two tables of the law, were never found after the return from the Babylonian captivity…” A.C. VI p. 707

“5. And above it the cherubs of the glory shaded the cover (not to speak yet of everything about them). 6. When all these were so arranged, the priests entered regularly into the outer tabernacle to fulfill their service. 7. But into the inner tabernacle only the high priest entered, once a year, and not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people.”

“… as Lev. 16:14ff indicates, there is no provision even on the Day of Atonement for deliberate, willful sin.” TIB XI p. 687 … “9. … offerings and sacrifices could not bring the holy servant into perfection of his conscience, 10. they related to nothing other than food, drink, and diverse ablutions.”

“This low estimate of their efficacy would hardly have been accepted by any Hebrew. For the Hebrew sacrifice was not merely an expression of the spirit of the offerer, and certainly not an empty form that neither added nor subtracted anything. It required the spirit to validate it, but once validated it was thought to be charged with power.” TNJBC p. 936

“11. But the Anointed, in his becoming chief priest of the good to come, passed through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that was not the work of hands, - that is to say, that was not related to this creation, - 12. and in his blood, not in the blood of he-goats and claves, entered once and for all in to the holy, and acquired eternal redemption.”

“How does the sacrifice of Christ achieve the result of ridding men of sin and ensuring access to God? The author … rests upon the axiom that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins’ (vs. 22). … This is all the logic of his argument requires; with this concise statement he has reached the climax of his thought, and what follows (i.e., after vs. 14) is an exposition of some aspects of the argument and exhortation on the basis of it. …Entrance into this Holy Place and access through him into it for all men is the supreme service of Christ as priest. Again we see that the Resurrection, never mentioned in Hebrews except in 13:20 and there in a benediction, plays not role. It is the Ascension which his analogy requires.” TIB XI p. 690 … “22. Thus, according to the Torah, almost everything is cleaned in blood, and without the spilling of blood there is no pardon.”

John Brown’s favorite verse .

“This ignores the other means of forgiveness known to the OT: fasting (Joel 2:12), almsgiving (Sir 3:29), contrition (Ps. 51:19)…” TNJBC p. 937

“It is idle to ask just how blood availed to effect forgiveness of sins, for this is precisely the point he assumes as an axiom… The efficacy of blood was axiomatic not only in Judaism, but by and large in the ancient world … Was Christ’s blood propitiatory, expiatory, or merely symbolic? He does not tell us …” TIB XI pp. 695-696 … “27. And just as it is decreed that the sons of Adam will die once, and then the judgment, 28. so also the Anointed, after he is offered once, to bear many sins, will appear again [שנית ShayNiYT second] – not for the matter of sin – to those who wait for him for salvation.”

“To deliver the bodies of believers from the empire of death, reunite them to their purified souls, and bring both into his eternal glory,.” A.C. VI p. 713

“This is the one explicit use of the term ‘Second Coming’ in the NT. The ‘parousia’ or ‘presence’ is not elsewhere called ‘second’ coming, although the idea may be present.” TIB XI p. 698

Chapter Ten

“1. The Torah, which is a shadow of the good that was to come, not the perfect reflection of those things, never could bring to perfection by offerings those bringing the offerings continually year after year. 2. Could they have done so, the offerings would have ceased, because after the holy servants had been cleansed once there would not have been in them a further occurrence of sin.”

“The argument is weak and ignores the evident objection that those sacrifices could have expiated past sins, but new sins would have called for further sacrifices.” TNJBC p. 938 … “4. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot remove sins.”

“This statement of inability contradicts the belief expressed in Jub” [Book of Jubilees] “5:17-18” TNJBC p. 938

“Readers attracted by Judaism of the normative type would hardly have been impressed by his argument, for he does not meet the objections a good Jew would raise at every point. He assumes that his controlling concept of shadow and substance, earthly and heavenly, is shared by his readers. If they share it, his argument is really cogent.” TIB XI p. 702

“5. So upon entering the world he said,

‘You desired neither sacrifice nor offering; you prepared a body for me; 6. you requested neither burnt nor sin offerings. 7. So I said, “Behold, I have come; -

in the scroll of the book it is written of me, -

‘to do the will of my God.’”’”

“Ps. 40: 6-8 is quoted not as the words of the Psalmist, but as Christ’s words to God when he came into the world. The Psalm in the Hebrew original is a song of praise for God’s help. But instead of the Hebrew ‘mine ears hast thou opened’ (i.e., that I may hear and obey), the LX reads a body hast thou prepared for me. This word body is essential for the author (cf. vs. 10), and his dependence on the Greek translation is nowhere more obvious than here. It is true that both readings can be reconciled with the main idea of the passage, obedience to the will of God as the true substitute for animal sacrifice. Our author cannot use this thought. He must show that instead of animal sacrifices, Christ offered himself, his own body, as the one acceptable sacrifice to God. The sacrificial principle is thus maintained by the contrast not of sacrifice with obedience but of a sacrifice with the sacrifice.” TIB XI pp. 704 - 705

“8. In his saying, above, ‘I do not want nor have I requested sacrifice, offering, or burnt or sin offering’ which were brought to him according to the Torah, 9. and in his saying after that, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will’, he removed the first in order to raise the second. 10. And with the same will sanctified us by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus the Anointed once and for all.”

“… The author comes close to saying that God willed the sacrifice of the self and of self-will, and that Christ’s sacrifice is of that kind. We almost expect him to continue the thought by saying that we draw near to God through self-sacrifice and self-denial. Jesus’ words, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34…) come involuntarily to mind…” TIB XI pp. 705-706 … “23. Let us hold on to the hope about which we testify without wavering, for faithful is the promise,”

i.e., the hope of “the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life” A.C. VI p. 720

“24. Let us pay attention to each to his neighbor to encourage one another to love and good works 25. without neglecting our assemblies, as some men do, but each should encourage his neighbor. Particularly when you see that the day is near.

“… fellowship in worship is the root of right human relations.” TIB XI p. 713 … “28. The violator of the law of Moses died without clemency upon the testimony of two or three witnesses, 29. How much greater will be, in your opinion, the punishment appropriate to he who tramples underfoot the son of God, and scorns the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and blasphemes the spirit of grace? 30. Behold we know who said ‘vengeance and repayment is mine’, and, ‘YHVH will judge his people’, 31. so, it is awful to fall into the hands of the living God!”

“At this point, it may be said, the author did not catch the full import of the gospel … his analogy from the old covenant turns out to impose a limitation on the new … Can he have known of the record that Peter, who denied the Lord at a moment of crises, became a leader in the church?” TIB XI p. 715 … Chapter 11 ... “4. Out of belief Abel brought to God an offering better than that which Cain brought …”

“As Cain was a husbandman, he brought a mincha or eucharistic offering, of the fruits of the ground, by which he acknowledged the being and providence of God. Abel being a shepherd, or a feeder of cattle, brought not only the eucharistic offering, but also of the produce of his flock as a sin-offering to God; by which he acknowledged his own sinfulness, God’s justice and mercy, as well as his being and providence, Cain, not at all apprehensive of the demerit of sin, or God’s holiness, contented himself with the mincha or thank-offering; this God could not, consistently with his holiness and justice receive with complacency.” A.C. VI p. 726

“11. In faith also Sarah received power to become pregnant, although after she had aged, because she thought the promiser faithful.”

“by faith Sarah herself received power for the sewing of seed: The Greek text seems to attribute to Sarah the male role in the conception of Isaac.” TNJBC p. 940

“12. Thus also from one who was as good as dead proceeded quantities like stars of the heavens and sands on the sea shore.”

“The birth of Isaac, (the circumstances of the father and mother considered) was entirely supernatural; and the people who proceeded from this birth were a supernatural people; and were and are most strikingly singular through every period of their history to the present day.” A.C. VI p. 727 … “21. In faith Jacob, before his death, blessed the two sons of Joseph, and bowed over the head of his staff.”

“The author’s dependence of the LXX is shown in the phrase the head of his staff (vs. 21), where the Hebrew has ‘bed’. The consonants of the two words are the same, and the LXX has introduced wrong vowels into the unpointed Hebrew text.” TIB XI p. 730 … “32. And what more should I say? Time is too short to tell of Gideon and Barak and Sampson and Japheth and David and Saul and the prophet, 33. who by faith subdued kings, wrought justice, obtained the promise, closed the mouth of lions, 34. quenched the flames of fire…

“Vss. 33-34 present the deeds of faith in nine compact phrases.  The fourth and fifth (lions, … fire) inevitably recall Daniel and the doughty three, and appropriate names can be suggested for the rest.  What strikes the reader is the emphasis on military triumphs, unparalleled in the N.T. …  The source in history for much of this summary must be the Maccabean struggle and its triumph.” TIB XI pp. 734-735

“35. Some women received their dead who were resurrected; others were violated to death, without agreeing to deliverance, for the sake of receiving a better resurrection.”

Ετυμπανισθησον – Etumpanistheson “Τυμπανον” [Tympanon] “signifies a baton which was used in bastinadoing criminals.” A.C VI p. 731

Chapter 12

“1.Therefore we too, whom a cloud of witnesses surrounds, must also remove every burden and sin, which so easily seizes us, and with patience run the race set before us while looking to Jesus, the engineer and fulfillment of the faith, who for the happiness spread before him, bore the cross and discounted disgrace, and sat to the right of the throne of God.”

“Our author believes that direct access to God through Christ is the goal of religion, not righteousness as such.” TIB XI … “4. You have not yet fought to blood in your struggle with sin”

“It has been argued that this excludes Rome … as the destination of Hebrews, for Rome had its Martyrs … but if the readers were addressed some decades after the Neronian persecution, the words, although in not too tactful, would not necessarily be untrue of the Romans.” TIB XI p. 740 … “22. … You are come to Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem and to the myriad angels, to the assembly, 23. to the congregation of the first born, those written in heaven, to God, judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who where made perfect, 24. to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood…”

“Our author was not a philosopher like Philo, stressing the inherent capacity of men to apprehend the invisible and to achieve salvation by spiritual discipline and education; he was a Christian, believing that salvation was offered by God in Christ and that men might, through faith in the invisible and timeless reality revealed from within the human and temporal realm by Jesus, be saved to enjoy the complete fellowship with God which the ancient sacrificial system foresaw and prefigured but could never achieve.” TIB XI p. 747

“28. …let us worship God according to his will, in grace and in reverence, 29. because God is a consuming fire.”

“The final clause, for our God is a consuming fire, will seem to the modern reader a tragic misinterpretation of the gospel message of the love of God. It must be admitted that our author does not move in the Johannine (cf. John 4:24; I John 4:13-18) or in the Pauline tradition (cf. Rom. 8:37 ff).”

Chapter 13 … “5. Flee from love of money, and rejoice in your portion, for he said, ‘I will not forsake or leave you.’”

“In one of the sentences of Phocylides, we have a sentiment in nearly the same words as that of the apostle… Be content with present things, and abstain from others. The covetous man is ever running out into futurity, with insatiable desires after secular good; and if this disposition be not checked, it increases as the subject of it increases in years. Covetousness is the vice of old age.” A.C. VI p. 747 … “9. Do not be swept away by different and strange doctrine, it is good to sustain the heart with grace, not with pronouncements about food that do not benefit anyone who lives according to them; 10. we have an altar from which those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat.”

“… we are totally unable to identify the strange teaching which is being combated. Do foods refer to Jewish ritual meals? To religious sacraments in the mystery cults? Or even to the Lord’s Supper? Because Hebrews never refers to the Lord’s Supper and because of the language of this passage (vss. 10-12), many have held that this is a protest against it, or at any rate against a materialistic and magical celebration of it. It must be admitted that the argument of Hebrews allows no logical place for the repetition of the super. Christ’s sacrifice cannot be repeated; it was once for all. The evidence is too scanty, however, for any final conclusion, although diverse and strange seem hardly the appropriate words to use if the readers were Jews by race, tempted to return to Judaism.” “11. the carcasses of the animals whose blood is brought to the sanctuary by the chief priest to atone for sin are burned outside the camp 12. therefore also Jesus, in order to sanctify the people with his blood, suffered outside the gate “14. …we do not have here a constant city, rather we request that which is to come.”

“Here is an elegant and forcible allusion to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem that was below was about to be burnt with fire, and erased to the ground … About seven or eight years after this, Jerusalem was wholly destroyed.” A.C. VI p. 749

“15. Therefore, in every event, we offer, though his mediation a sacrifice of thanks to God, which is to say, the fruit of our lips in thanks to his name.”

“The Jews allowed that, in the time of the Messiah, all sacrifices, except the sacrifice of praise, should cease. To this maxim the apostle appears to allude; and understood in this way, his words are much more forcible. In Vayidra Rabba sect. 9. fol. 153. and Rabbi Tanchum, fol. 55. ‘Rabbi Phineas, Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Jocahanan, from the authority of Rabbi Menachem of Galilee, said, In the time of the Messiah all sacrifice shall cease, except the sacrifice of praise.’” A,C. VI p. 749

“16. And do not forget to repay mercy, and to share with the other of what is yours, for sacrifice like these are pleasant to God.”

“Praise, prayer, and thanksgiving, to God, with works of charity and mercy to man, are the sacrifices which every genuine follower of Christ must offer: and they are the proofs that a man belongs to Christ; and he who does not bear these fruits, gives full evidence, whatever his creed may be, that he is no Christian.” A.C. VI p. 750   Bibliography of books not elsewhere cited

The New Bantam-Megiddo Hebrew & English Dictionary, Bantam Foreign Language Dictionaries, Paperback by Sivan Dr Reuven, Edward A. Dr Levenston, Israel, 1975

המלון החדש [HaMiLON HeHaDaSh The New Dictionary] by Abraham Even Shoshan, in seven volumes, Sivan Press Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel, 1970 – given to me by Mom NOVUM TESTAMENTAUM, Graece et Latine, Utrumque textum cum apparatu critic imprimendum curavit EBERHARD NESTLE, novis curis elaboraverunt Erwin Nestle et Kurt Aland, Editio vicesima secunda, United Bible Societies, London, printed in Germany 1963

Hebrew-English, English-Hebrew Dictionary in Two volumes, by Israel Efros, Ph.D., Judah Ibn-Shmuel Kaufman Ph.D, Benjamin Silk, B.C.L., Edited by Judah Ibn-Shmuel Kaufman, Ph.D., The Dvir Publishing Co. Tel-Aviv, 1950