Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 28 March 2020; Revised 22 April 2020
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Other Bible versions may be quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible. Unless otherwise indicated quotations from the DSS are taken from A New Translation of The Dead Sea Scrolls (2005), abbreviated as TDSS.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. Online. See Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
• Philo: Citations of Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50) are from The Works of Philo Judaeus, compiled by Peter Kirby, found online at Early Jewish Writings.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The Targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary that date from the first century. See an index of Targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online. Parsing data for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Jacob (James), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
Chapter One Summary
In this chapter Paul introduces his basic method of contrasting, a pattern that will continue to 10:18. The opening verses summarizes the great work of God in creation, His sovereign control over history, His final and complete work of atonement and the exaltation of the Son to heaven. Paul does not mention the name of Yeshua until the next chapter, because he first wanted to establish that God has a Son. Paul emphasizes nine actions and attributes of the Son of God that make him preeminent in relation to the angels.
The first four verses below are actually one sentence in Greek, but Bible versions treat each verse as a complete thought. The arbitrary division of Paul's multi-layered opening sentence may cause the reader to miss the crescendo of praise designed to exalt the Son of God. Paul then begins quoting passages from the Tanakh that tell important characteristics of angels but also demonstrate that the nine divine actions and attributes of the Son makes the angels subservient to him.
Chapter One Outline
The Superior Son, 1:1-4
The Servant Angels, 1:5-14
The Superior Son, 1:1-4
1 God, having spoken long ago in many parts and in many ways to the fathers among the prophets.
God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, as determined from the context. The presence of the definite article perhaps emphasizes "the only God in existence." In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel.
having spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. Paul affirms the divine verbal inspiration of Scripture. This verb has weighty emphasis throughout this letter (1:2; 2:2-3, 5; 3:5; 4:8; 5:5; 6:9; 7:14; 9:19; 11:4, 18; 12:24-25; 13:7). long ago: Grk. palai, adv. in reference to time past, here much earlier than the present time of the author. Stern interprets "having spoken long ago" to mean when the Tanakh was being written. The literary history of the Tanakh covers 4,000 years. Yet God began speaking in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29; Ps 33:9). Then He began speaking to people, whether to invite them into covenantal relationship, to confront them for their behavior, to give instructions for expected behavior, or to announce His sovereign plans for redemption.
in many parts: Grk. polumerōs, adv., in many parts, piecemeal, one at one time, another after another, and so on. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. The great majority of versions translate the adverb as "in many times," but the adverb does not have a specific temporal meaning as chronos or kairos. Rather the adverb alludes to the many authors of the Tanakh who sequentially over the centuries added their portion to the total corpus. The piecemeal development is especially true of Genesis which Moses wrote compiling and editing the records from twelve sources (Gen 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2; 50:22). The history of Joshua to 2Kings was written as events unfolded by at least eight men, each contributing their part. Then the works of the three major and twelve minor prophets were written by their respective authors in their times to complete the Tanakh.
and: Grk. kai, conj. with three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea. The first use applies here. The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
in many ways: Grk. polutropōs, adv., properly, many manners or avenues (HELPS). The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. The many ways of God's speaking included:
● direct audible speech face-to-face in pre-incarnate form (e.g., Gen 1:28-30; 2:16-17; 3:9-13; 18:29);
● indirect audible speech, such as out of the pillar of fire, out of a cloud, in the holy of holies (e.g., Ex 19:9; Num 7:89; Deut 29:13; Ps 99:7);
● visions (e.g., Gen 15:1; 46:2; Ex 24:9-11; 25:9, 40; 1Sam 3:15; 2Sam 7:17; 2Chr 9:29; 26:5; Isa 1:1; Ezek 11:24; Dan 8:1; Amos 1:1; Obad 1:1; Nah 1:1; Hab 2:2);
● dreams (e.g., Gen 20:3 28:12; 31:10f; 31:24; 37:5-10; 41:1; 1Kgs 3:5; Dan 2:1; 4:5; 7:1); and
● angelic visitation (e.g., Gen 19:15; 21:17; 31:11; 32:1; Jdg 13:9; 1Kgs 19:5; Dan 4:13-14; 8:16-17; 9:21-22).
● the recoding of God's words on tablets and scrolls to be preserved for reading (Ex 24:4, 12; 31:18; 32:15, 32; Deut 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 31:9; Josh 1:7-8; 8:32-35; Isa 8:20; Luke 24:44; Rom 3:19; Jas 4:5; 2Pet 1:21).
to the fathers: pl. of Grk. ho patēr, normally used of a male biological parent, someone who fulfilled the role of a father or an ancestor. In the LXX patēr renders ab (SH-1, "av"), father, with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:24) (DNTT 1:616f). Among Jews the "fathers" were generally considered to be the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Luke 1:55; John 7:22; Acts 3:13; 5:30; 7:2, 32). The "fathers" can also include the leaders of Israel in the time of Moses and Joshua (John 6:31; Acts 7:38-39, 44-45; 1Cor 10:1). Lastly, "fathers" can refer to Israelites living in later centuries (Acts 28:25). among: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, and may be translated "among, at, by, in, into, on, within."
the prophets: pl. of Grk. ho prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In the LXX prophētēs renders Heb. nabi (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, or prophet; first in Genesis 20:7 where it is used of Abraham. In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The literary works of the prophets in the Tanakh are authoritative Scripture (Matt 5:17-19; Luke 24:44-45; 2Tim 3:16-17).
Paul's use of the plural "prophets" might refer to the portion of the Tanakh known as the Neviim, which included the Early Prophets (Joshua–2Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah–Malachi). However, the "fathers among the prophets" would more likely include Abraham (Gen 20:7), Moses (Deut 18:18), David (Acts 1:16; Heb 11:32), Isaiah and other writers that left Messianic prophecies.
2 at these last days has spoken to us by a Son whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He created the ages.
at: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, upon, or over.' The preposition is used here to introduce a time reference. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; end, last. The adjective is used here of time. days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth meaning applies here.
The "last days" is a concept in Jewish literature associated with the arrival of the Messiah and fulfillment of other prophesied events associated with the restoration of Israel (cf. Isa 2:2; Ezek 38:16; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1; Acts 2:17). For the apostles the advent of Yeshua meant that the last days had begun. has spoken: Grk. laleō, aor., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. by: Grk. en, prep. See the previous verse. a Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of.
Paul affirms that God (Elohim), the God of creation (Gen 1:1), has a Son, not that God is the Son. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; 18:13). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense, including Psalm 2:
· "I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
· "6 I myself have installed my king on Tziyon, my holy mountain." … 11 Serve ADONAI with fear; rejoice, but with trembling. 12 Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and you perish along the way, when suddenly his anger blazes. How blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12 CJB)
· "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4 CJB)
· "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 NASB)
For Jews during the first century "son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom. "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. This meaning is illustrated by Nathanael (John 1:49) and Martha (John 11:27) who called Yeshua "Son of God."
The verbal phrase "spoken to us by a Son" alludes to the teaching of the Son, Yeshua, whom the Jewish citizens of Judea, Galilee, Perea and the Decapolis heard and is recorded in the apostolic narratives. Paul includes himself in the first person plural pronoun and he repeatedly bore witness to the personal revelation of Yeshua received on the King's Highway (Acts 22:6-11; 26:12-19; Gal 1:13-16; cf. 1Cor 7:20; 2Cor 12:1; 1Tim 1:12-16). Paul stresses the important point that the Father sent His Son to the land of Israel and spoke exclusively to the descendants of Jacob, not any other nation of the world.
In the rest of the lengthy sentence that concludes in verse 4 Paul provides a curriculum vitae of the Son of God consisting of eight declarations, that taken together affirm his superiority. Eight is a significant number, because while seven is considered to be symbolic of completion or perfection, the number eight (Heb. shemoneh) signifies fullness, and the fullness of God dwells in the Son (Eph 1:23; Col 1:19).
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. He appointed: Grk. tithēmi, aor., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site, place or put; or (2) arrange for creation of role or status, make or appoint. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX tithēmi translates no less than 37 Hebrew equivalents in all sorts of connections, both literal of putting something in a place, and figurative of putting something into a category or a plan (DNTT 1:477).
heir: Grk. klēronomos refers to that which is apportioned, an inheritor in a legal sense, heir. More frequently the word means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. of all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. Paul affirms elsewhere that also describes Yeshua as the heir in Romans 8:17. Elsewhere Paul uses "all things" to refer to what was created by Yeshua in the heavens and upon the earth (1Cor8:6; Col 1:16). Because Yeshua was the agent of creation, then the Father decreed that he is the rightful heir to rule over that creation in the fullness of time (Eph 1:10).
through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. whom: Grk. hos. also: Grk. kai, conj. He created: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, create, manufacture, produce; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; act, accomplish, carry out, cause, do, execute, perform, work. Danker applies the first meaning here, but in my view the second meaning is more appropriate. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Most versions apply the first meaning and translate the verb as "created" or "made."
Stern points out that God creating through an intermediary, as declared in John 1:1, is not an idea alien to Judaism. Indeed, the Aramaic Targums present the Memra (lit. "Word") as the intermediary for God. Daniel Boyarin, an orthodox Jew and professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California-Berkley, explains that in the Targums the Memra was not a mere name, but an actual divine entity functioning as mediator and lists nine examples from the Targums that suggest the Memra has many of the same roles of the Logos of John (JANT 547). See my commentary on John 1:1.
the ages: pl. of Grk. aiōn, an extended period of time, which may be (1) a general reference to a long period of time in the past ('ages ago') or in the future of a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. BAG, Danker and Thayer add a third meaning of aiōn as a spatial concept, the world or the universe, i.e. the aggregate of things contained in time (also Heb 11:3). These lexicons apply the third meaning to this verse and the great majority of Bible versions follow suit and translate the plural noun with the singular "world" or "universe," including Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MW, OJB and TLV). In my view the lexicons make a weak argument for this interpretation of aiōn.
BAG cites the LXX of Exodus 15:18, but Bible versions universally translate aiōn there as "forever." Thayer cites various Jewish writings to support the meaning of aiōn as "world," including Josephus (Ant. I, 18:7) and Tobit 13:6 where aiōn clearly does not mean "world," but "forever" in the former and "everlasting" in the latter. Thayer also cites Sirach 36:22, but this verse does not contain aiōn, whereas it does appear in 36:17 where it means "ages." Moreover, no such usage existed in the literature of classical Greek authors (LSJ). In this context if the apostle wanted to say that God through Yeshua created the world (i.e., the heavens and the earth), he would have used kosmos as he did in his sermon in Athens (Acts 17:24; cf. John 1:10; Rom 1:20; Heb 4:3; 9:26).
In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769; BDB 761), "long duration, antiquity or futurity," first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "for ever, for all time," (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17). In the Tanakh, ōlam is generally concerned with a concrete idea of time in relation to the whole duration of a man's life (DNTT 3:827). Olam never means "world" or "the universe." Some versions do translate the plural noun as "ages" (ABP, Anderson, GNC, JUB, LITV, NJB, REV, Weymouth, and YLT). Time is an integral component of the triune universe that God created (Gen 1:1). God existed before time began and will continue to exist after time ends. Man experiences the world through time, always in the present.
In Scripture the history of the world is not random or coincidental, but sovereignly directed. History is "His Story." In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps including the primeval era, the patriarchal era, the era of bondage in Egypt and wilderness wandering, the era of the Israelite confederation, the era of Israelite monarchy and then the era of exile and return (cf. Eccl 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26). An important feature of the ages are the covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, Aaron and David.
Olam is also used in the sense of the duration of the world (Eccl 3:11). Scripture warns that one day in the future the present universe will be destroyed (Ps 102:25-26; Isa 13:13; 34:4). To say that the Son created olam is to say that He put a time limit or expiration date on his creation. The Jewish Sages also noted the limitation of time.
"The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era, but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost." (Sanhedrin 97a)
In the Besekh Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). In this passage the past ages encompass all of the divinely-directed "times and epochs" (Acts 1:7; cf. Eccl 3:1; Dan 2:21; Titus 1:2-3) recorded in the Tanakh that preceded the last days.
3 who being the radiance of glory and exact representation of His nature; likewise upholding all things by the word of His power, having made purification of sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See the previous verse. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). the radiance: Grk. apaugasma, brightness coming from a source, here in the active sense of radiance or brilliance. Some versions prefer the passive sense of "reflection" (GW, ISV, NOG, NRSV, NTE), but the noun depicts an independent attribute. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
of glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence or excellence of things belonging to humans, (3) majesty of that which belongs to God, to the Messiah or to angels, and (4) a glorious position or exalted stated as Messiah's position next to the Father (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabôd (SH-3519), abundance, honor, glory, first in Genesis 31:1. Kabôd is particularly used to refer to the luminous manifestation of God's person, His glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 24:16-17). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
The CJB and OJB have sh'khinah. Shekhinah does not occur in the Tanakh at all, but does occur frequently in the Targums and the Mishnah to mean "the glorious presence of God," particularly in reference to the glory cloud that led the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Ex 16:10), and filled the Tabernacle (Ex 40:34) and later the Temple (2Kgs 8:11). Shekinah is derived from the verb shakan, to abide or dwell (Ex 25:8) and shakan is the root of the noun mishkan or tabernacle (Ex 25:9). The term is also used frequently in early Jewish writings as a euphemism for the name of God. (See the article Shekhinah, Jewish Virtual Library.)
The phrase "radiance of glory" may intend to represent the biblical revelation that God dwells in unapproachable light (1Tim 6:16), which Paul would know since he was caught up to the third heaven (2Cor 12:2). Paul's description may also allude to Ezekiel's report of being caught up to heaven and seeing the figure of a man on a throne who glowed like fire, surrounded by a rainbow and his appearance was the likeness of the glory (kabôd) of ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) (Ezek 1:28). Thus, Paul asserts that Yeshua is the glorious man-like deity Ezekiel saw sitting on the throne in heaven attended by many cherubim.
and: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. exact representation: Grk. charaktēr, properly, an engraving; fig. an exact impression or likeness which also reflects inner character. The term originally denoted a tool used for engraving and then came to mean "a die." Finally it stood for a stamp or impress used on a coin or seal. In each case, the stamp conveyed the reality behind the image (HELPS). As used here the term conveys "authentic representation" to express God's essential being and identity (Danker). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Bible versions greatly vary in translation, also with "the very expression," "the exact expression," "the express image," "the exact imprint," and "the very stamp."
of His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. nature: Grk. ho hupostasis (from hupo, "under" and hístēmi, "to stand"), originally meant a legal standing under a guaranteed agreement ("title-deed"); fig. a "title" to a promise or property, i.e. a legitimate claim, because it literally is, "under a legal-standing." Then the noun came to mean the quality of having actual existence; substance or real nature. The second meaning applies here. We could say the Son has a legal claim on deity. This unique word occurs elsewhere only in 2Corinthians 9:4 and 11:17.
likewise: Grk. te, conj. used to denote addition or close connection that is tighter than with kai; also, and likewise, and both, at the same time. upholding: Grk. pherō, pres. part., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature; (3) support what is burdensome; or (4) bring about a yield. The third meaning applies here. Some versions have "sustaining." all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See the previous verse. by the word: Grk. ho rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f).
of His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. power: Grk. dunamis (from dunamai, the quality or state of being capable), power, might, or strength, here as an exhibition of divine capability. The same "word" employed in creation is the same "word" that keeps the universe functioning. The statement that Yeshua holds all things together echoes the same thought in Colossians 1:17, "in him all things consist." Henry Morris points out that the physical nature of matter consists of molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons and numerous submicroscopic particles that exist in opposition to tremendous forces that are always acting to disintegrate it (BBMS 221). The binding energy of the "word of His power" assures that the structure of matter remains cohesive and stable. Yet, the transcendent Lord of the universe has entered the human sphere to accomplish something even more important.
having made: Grk. poieō, aor. part. See the previous verse. purification: Grk. katharismos, the state of being clean in either a religious or spiritual sense; cleansing, purifying, purification. The noun is used here in the sense of atonement. In the LXX katharismos translates Heb. kippur (SH-3725), atonement accomplished by sin offering (Ex 29:36; 30:10), and especially designates Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:27-28; 25:9; Num 29:11). Katharismos also renders Heb. tahorah (SH-2893), cleansing or purifying to remove uncleanness (Lev 12:4; 14:32; 15:13; 1Chr 23:38). The use of the verbal phrase "having made purification" denotes both the ministry of a priest, especially the high priest, and the outcome of that ministry, so Paul could have both atonement and cleansing in mind.
of sins: pl. of Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments, whether intentional or unintentional (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
The declaration "having made purification of sins" asserts the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:11-12,
"11 The Righteous One, My Servant will make many righteous and He will bear their iniquities. 12 … He poured out His soul to death, and was counted with transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors." (TLV)
When Yochanan the Immerser met Yeshua he declared, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). So Paul affirms that not only did the Son of God present the sin offering, but became the sin offering (cf. Rom 8:3; 1Cor 5:7; 15:3; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; 9:26; 1Pet 1:19; 2:24; 3:18; 1Jn 3:5). Moreover, Yeshua's sacrifice not only atoned unintentional sins typically cleared on Yom Kippur, but also intentional sins and capital crimes as Paul declared in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:38). Some Christians have erroneously concluded on the basis of 2Corinthians 5:21 that Yeshua became sinful on the cross.
The reason for this mistaken belief is the failure of standard Christian Bibles to accurately interpret the Hebrew theology of that verse with the rest of Scripture. In the Tanakh the Hebrew word chata (Grk. hamartia in the LXX) may mean either "sin" or "sin offering" (BDB 308). A few versions do have "sin offering" in that verse (CJB, MRINT, MSG, NLT, OJB and TLV). Yeshua as the unblemished Lamb of God, bore our sins as a sin offering. He did not become sinful.
he sat down: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. at: Grk. en, prep. See verse 1 above. the right hand: Grk. dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios renders Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand," first in Genesis 13:9. Almost all versions have the anthropomorphic translation of "right hand." of the Majesty: Grk. megalōsunē, greatness, majesty, as a superlative characteristic. The word occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Heb 8:1; Jude 1:25). Here the noun serves as a euphemism for God the Father. on: Grk. en, prep. high: Grk. hupsēlos, adj., may mean (1) positioned at a point that is higher; high, lofty; or (2) considered to be of special importance; high, lofty. The first meaning applies here, perhaps hinting a the "highest heavens" in which God dwells (Deut 10:19; Ps 68:33; 148:1, 4).
The "right hand" of God is the appropriate place for the Son of God because the right hand of God "spread out the heavens" (Isa 48:13). The "right hand" represents power and authority, and thus saving strength to deliver (Ps 20:6; 44:3; 60:5; 98:1; 108:6; 109:31; 118:15-16; 138:7). This affirmation is drawn from the Messianic prophecy of David (Ps 16:8; 110:1). The apostles saw the Son ascend to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), but not his position in heaven as Stephen later experienced (Acts 7:55). The seating of Yeshua in heaven is an important apostolic assertion (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22).
4 having become so much superior to the angels; in as much as he has inherited a name more excellent above theirs.
having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development. The third meaning applies here. so much: Grk. tosoutos, demonstrative pronoun, a superlative meaning so much, so great, so many. superior: Grk. kreittōn, adj. (the comparative form of kratos, "dominion"), having a degree of advantage, used here to denote status or rank; better, superior, more excellent. The adjective appears 13 times in this letter out of the 15 in the Besekh.
to the angels: pl. of Grk. angelos, means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or messenger (i.e., human) relies primarily on the context. The term is used here to mean a heavenly messenger. See my web article The Host of Heaven. The Son of God would be superior to the angels simply by virtue of being deity, but Paul offers a special reason why the Son is superior. in as much as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun (from posos, "how much"), used here to signify degree or extent in contrast.
Post-Tanakh Judaism developed an elaborate angelology (Stern 824), primarily the Essenes and Pharisees. The Sadducees did not believe in angels (Acts 23:8). Josephus said that the Essenes in particular preserved the names of the angels (Wars, Book II, 8:7). In particular Gabriel (mentioned in Dan 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26) and Michael (mentioned in Dan 10:13, 21; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7) are included in a list of seven archangels, called the "angels of the presence" in 1Enoch 9:1. The remaining five archangels are Uri'el, Rapha'el, Ragu'el, Saraka'el, and Remi'el. According to 1Enoch 20:1-7; 40:1-9 each angel is assigned a special function that either serves God or His people Israel.
Paul's declaration on the superiority of the Son over the angels and treatment of the subject through the rest of this chapter rebutted two unbiblical practices in contemporary Jewish culture. First, the Essenes had set forth a kingdom theology with two messianic personages, the one priestly (Aaronic) who would be superior to the other royal (Davidic), but both subordinate to the archangel Michael as the supreme head (Hughes 276). The War Scroll even speaks of the "kingdom of Michael" (1QM, XVII). Second, many Jews worshipped angels as indicated by Paul's treatment of the subject in his letter to the congregation in Colossae. See the Additional Note below on the worship of angels.
he has inherited: Grk. klēronomeō, perf., to be an heir in a legal sense. More frequently the verb means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. The verb connects to the statement of the Son being appointed the heir of all things in verse 2 above. a name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of authority, qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. more excellent: Grk. diaphoros, adj., dissimilar, and may denote (1) varying in kind, different; or (2) surpassing in worth or value, excellent. The second usage applies here.
above: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association and close proximity between persons, things, or circumstances, and in composition may be translated "above, along side of, beside, beyond, from, or with." theirs: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The exalted Son is in the presence of innumerable angels who bow down and worship him (Rev 5:11). The "more excellent name" may not be the title "Son of God" or the name "Yeshua," as suggested by commentators, but the name given to the Son "which no one knows except Himself" (Rev 19:12). The revelation of the existence of this special name first occurs in the narrative of Samson's birth when the angel of ADONAI appeared to the wife of Manoah (Jdg 13:3).
The Angel of ADONAI (Malak-YHVH) appeared on twelve occasions (Gen 16:7; 22:11; Ex 3:2; Num 22:22; Jdg 2:1; 5:23; 6:11; 13:3; 1Kgs 19:7; 2Kgs 1:3; 1Chr 21:18; Zech 3:6) and is clearly distinguished from other angels. In these encounters the Malak-YHVH delivers a message in the first person with the voice of divine authority. Many Bible interpreters recognize in this name a pre-incarnate visitation of the Son of God. After all, Yeshua is ADONAI (John 8:58). Manoah asked the angel his name, who refused to give it since it is "wonderful" (Jdg 13:18; Heb. pili, wonderful, incomprehensible). Paul may have had personal reason to know the existence of the special name since he visited heaven before John (2Cor 12:2).
Additional Note: Worship of Angels
Paul had written to the congregation in Colossae warning them against the liturgical practice of worshipping or venerating angels. See my commentary on Colossians 2:18. Gill in his commentary on Colossians 2:18 asserts that "worshipping of angels" was a notion and practice of the Jews, that the Jews did worship angels and make use of them as mediators and intercessors. He cites a few references from late Talmudic and Medieval Jewish literature.
"O ye angels of mercies", or ye merciful angels, ministers of the most High, entreat now the face of God for good: (Seder Tephillot, Ed. Basil, fol. 222.2);
"they say three times, let Juhach keep us, let Juhach deliver us, and let Juhach help us." (Ib. fol. 335.1)
Juhach was the name of an angel, who they supposed had the care of men, and is taken from the final letters of those words in Ps 91:11, "For He shall give His angels charge over you." They also speak of an angel whom they call Sandalphon, who they say is appointed over the prayers of the righteous (Zohar in Gen. fol. 97.2. and in Exod. fol. 24.3). The Jewish veneration of angels also received attention from the church fathers. Clement of Alexandria (AD 150–215) made reference to the veneration of angels and archangels by the Jews (Stromata, Book VI, Chapter 5). The Synod of Laodicea (343-381 A.D.) issued Canon XXXV, which condemned the invocation of angels.
Meir Berlin (1880–1949), a Russian scholar and Orthodox Rabbi in Jerusalem, argued at length in a private paper that there is substance to the polemical claims of early Christians that Jews in the first century did pray to angels. According to Berlin several examples of post-Talmudic prayers to angels can be found in the Jewish service even today. See his article: Prayers of Jews to Angels and Other Intermediaries During the First Centuries of the Common Era. Private Paper, Bar-Ilan University. Online.
The Servant Angels, 1:5-14
5 For to which of the angels did ever He say, "You are My Son, today I have begotten you?" And again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son?"
Source: Psalm 2:7; 2Samuel 7:14.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The fourth use is intended here. to which: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. of the angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See the previous verse. did ever: Grk. pote, adv., a generalizing temporal particle, in time past, once or formerly. He say: Grk. epō, pres., to say, call or name. This form of the verb was invented by the Greek grammarian Nikander (2nd c. BC) as the present tense of eipon, to say or address, generally denoting verbal communication (LSJ).
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. My: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Son: Grk. huios. See verse 2 above. today: Grk. sēmeron (for Heb. yom), today, this day, now. "Today" introduces a prolepsis, the representation of something in the future as if it already existed. Indeed God's sovereign decision occurred before the world began (cf. Matt 13:35; John 17:5, 24; 1Pet 1:20; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 13:8). I have begotten: Grk. gennaō, perf., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176). The active voice of the verb denotes the role of the father as occurs in the genealogies.
you: Grk. su. Outside of this letter the exact quotation from Psalm 2:7 occurs only in Paul's sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:33), another point of evidence for Pauline authorship. Paul's question comes across as a taunt to his adversaries, "Name for me one angel that God ever called Son!" The announcement "I have begotten you" has a dual meaning. First, the announcement predicted incarnation. The psalm prophesied that God's son would be born into the world by an impregnated woman and would thus be very God and very human (cf. Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; Mic 5:2-4; John 1:1, 14; Gal 4:4; Php 2:7). Second, the announcement refers to a formal accession to the throne with divine rights. In Psalm 2:7 the verbal phrase "I have begotten" functions as a synonymous parallelism to "I have installed" in the previous verse.
Psalm 2 as prophetic Scripture not only referred to David's own installation and reign as king, but anticipates his descendant who would be anointed as king over Israel and serve as God's regent on the earth (cf. Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-2; Jer 23:5-6; 30:9; 33:15, 17, 22; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24; Hos 3:5; Amos 9:11; Mic 5:2). This promise was fulfilled at the immersion of Yeshua as reiterated by the voice from heaven that said, "You are my beloved son" (Luke 3:22). Moreover, the resurrection of Yeshua confirmed absolutely the Messianic message of Psalm 2. Paul declares forthrightly that Yeshua IS presently the king of Israel (cf. Matt 2:2; John 1:49; 12:13; 19:19).
And: Grk. kai, conj. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. The phrase "and again" introduces a quotation from 2Samuel 7:14 that supports the quotation of Psalm 2:7 and continues the taunt. I will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. he will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. my: Grk. egō. Son: Grk. huios. Paul affirms that God did not make this declaration to any angel, but to David, king of Israel. The passage occurs in the context of God making a covenant with David which contains important and everlasting promises: (1) Israel would be assured of their Land; (2) ADONAI would build David a house; (3) ADONAI would raise up the Seed of David and establish his throne forever; and (4) ADONAI would have a Father-Son relationship with David's Seed (cf. 2Sam 23:5; Ps 89:3).
The covenant with David was intended to be permanent and unaffected by the level of the obedience by David's descendants as Paul declares in Romans 9:1-5. The prophecy of 2Samuel 7:14 clearly has a double meaning. The first meaning relates to Solomon, the son of David, who would be allowed to build the temple. ADONAI promised that if Solomon committed iniquity He would not remove His covenant loyalty from Solomon as He did with King Saul. The second meaning promises that his descendants that would one day produce the Messianic King, one who would sit on David's throne and whose kingdom would endure forever (cf. Isa 9:6; 11:1-5; Jer 23:5; 33:14-22; Luke 1:32; Acts 11:23).
6 And again, when He would bring the firstborn into the world, He says, "And all angels of God must worship him."
Sources: Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 89:27–29; 97:7.
And: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. again: Grk. palin, adv. See the previous verse. when: Grk. hotan, temporal conj., 'when' or 'whenever.' He would bring: Grk. eisagō, aor. subj., cause to enter into an area; bring or lead in. the firstborn: Grk. ho prōtotokos, adj., being the first child in order of birth or enjoying the status of a first child. In the LXX prōtotokos translates the Heb. bekor, firstborn of a womb, whether animal or human, and for humans the references are usually for a firstborn son (Gen 10:15).
In ancient times the firstborn son possessed three important rights. (1) The firstborn would hold superior rank in his family and therefore exercise leadership authority over the clan (Gen 49:3). (2) The firstborn had the spiritual responsibility of performing the priestly office and officiating at the altar (Gen 22:9; 26:25; 35:1; Num 8:17-19). (3) The firstborn received a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut 21:17). Three uses of "firstborn" in the sense of status occur in Scripture. God refers to the nation of Israel as His firstborn son (Ex 4:22). Then "firstborn" is used of King David, and by extension the Davidic king, who would be exalted over the kings of the earth (Ps 89:27). Lastly, "firstborn" is used in an allusion to the one who was pierced (the Messiah) and Israel will mourn over him as they would a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).
The Jewish Midrash says, "The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'In the same way I made Jacob a firstborn … so I will make Messiah the King a firstborn" (Mid. Ex. 19:7, quoted in Gruber 322). In the Besekh Yeshua is called the "firstborn" because of his resurrection from death (Rom 8:29; Col 1:15, 18; Rev 1:5). into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb "bring." the world: Grk. ho oikoumenē, the world as an inhabited area, often with focus on its inhabitants. In the earliest classical Greek literature the term was used of the world inhabited by Greeks in contrast to those lands inhabited by barbarians, but later literature included the lands of barbarians. In the Roman period the term meant the lands under Roman rule, because whatever lay outside was of no account.
In the LXX the term occurs 46 times, especially in the Psalms (15 times) and Isaiah (15 times) (DNTT 1:519). The term is found first in Exodus 16:35 to render the Heb. phrase novoshabet erets, "inhabited land," referring to the land of Canaan in which Israel would dwell, in contrast to the uninhabited wilderness. Next oikoumenē translates Heb. tebel (SH-8398), habitable world, to denote the full expanse of the earth which God created and over which He exercises sovereign authority (2Sam 22:16; 1Chr 16:30; Ps 9:8; 18:15; 19:4).
He says: Grk. legō, pres., "to say," used to denote making a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. Paul then quotes a passage from the Tanakh. Bruce says the following quotation bears a general resemblance of Psalm 97:7, "Worship Him all you gods." In that verse "gods" is Heb. Elohim (SH-430), which can stand for angels (cf. Job 38:7). The quotation bears an even closer resemblance to the LXX form of Deuteronomy 32:43.
MT: "Rejoice O nations with His people for He will avenge the blood of His servants; and vengeance He will render to His adversaries, and He will make atonement for His land and for His people." (BR)
LXX: "Rejoice, O heavens, with Him, and all the angels of God bow down to Him; rejoice O nations with His people, and grown in strength in Him O sons of God; because He shall avenge the blood of His sons, and He shall avenge and recompense justice to His enemies; and He shall recompense the ones hating Him; and the Lord shall purge the land for His people." (BR)
A Hebrew manuscript with the longer text parallel to the LXX has been identified in the material from the Qumran Cave 4 (Bruce).
DSS: "Rejoice, you heavens, with his people, and bow down to him, all gods [Elohim], for he will avenge the blood of his servants sons. He will take vengeance on his adversaries, and avenge those who hate him, and will make atonement for his land and for his people." (4Q44)
Thus Paul quoted from a Hebrew source and Luke provided the Greek translation. And: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 4 above. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 1 above. must worship: Grk. proskuneō, aor. imp., (derived from pros, 'toward' and kuneō, 'to kiss'), may mean either (1) to recognize another's prestige by offering special honor, ordinarily through a gesture of prostration; do obeisance to, pay homage to, bow down; or (2) to demonstrate honor and adoration to transcendent beings or deity, ordinarily in a religious sense; worship.
In the LXX proskuneō principally translates Heb. shachah (SH-7812), to bend down, which is used both of bowing down before men and of worship toward deity (BDB 1005). It occurs without Heb. equivalent in the apocryphal books and occasionally in canonical writings (DNTT 2:876). The first usage of proskuneō for shachah is in Genesis 18:2 and the second in Genesis 22:5, which illustrate two key activities associated with this verb, that of honoring a superior and/or sacrifice or service of some nature. In the Besekh proskuneō continues the Hebrew meaning.
Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 3 above. A quotation from Deuteronomy 32:43 occurs elsewhere only in Romans 15:10. The Besekh contains several anecdotes of deference and worship paid by angels to Yeshua (Matt 4:11; 26:53; Mark 1:31; Luke 2:8-14; John 20:12; Rev 5:11-12).
Textual Note: Differences in Manuscript Sources
Anyone reading commentaries on Scripture may wonder why significant differences may occur in certain passages of the Massoretic Text (MT), the Septuagint (LXX) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century AD under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. The oldest extant manuscripts of the MT date from around the 9th century AD.
During the intertestamental period learned Jews translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. According to the Letter of Aristeas (ca. 200 BC) and Philo (On the Life of Moses II, 25-44) the project was initiated by King Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 BC). The Letter of Aristeas says that the King requested the Jewish High Priest Eliezer to provide six representatives from each of the tribes. The Talmud records that 72 elders did come together during the King's reign to translate the Torah (Megillah 9a). Thus, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. Extant MSS date from that period, so they are much older than MSS of the Masoretic Text.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves in the Judean desert. Most of the documents are in Hebrew, but some are in Aramaic and a few in Greek. The Qumran scrolls are dated to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. The reading of the Qumran scrolls agree most closely with the LXX and not the MT.
Notable textual differences between these three sources include Deuteronomy 32:43, which Paul cites here. Given the dates of extant MSS we may say that Rabbi Akiva and the Masoretes deliberately changed some passages in the Hebrew text in reaction to their usage by Messianic believers to prove Yeshua was the Messiah. For a definitive study of this subject see Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History.
7 and indeed to the angels He says, "The One making His angels spirits, and His servants a flame of fire."
Source: Psalm 104:4.
and: Grk. kai, conj. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. Here the preposition denotes being in company with others and speaking face to face. the angels: pl. of Grk. ho angelos. See verse 4 above. He says: Grk. legō, pres. See the previous verse. Paul then quotes from Psalm 104:4, an exact quotation from the LXX, which itself accurately translates the Hebrew text, "Who makes His angels spirits; His ministers a fire of flame" (BHIB).
The One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for the sacred name of God (e.g., Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; Acts 17:24; 19:4; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). "The One" is also shorthand for the early usage in Hebrew culture of "the Holy One" (Qadosh, Job 6:12; Prov 30:3; Isa 40:25; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 3:3) and later "the Holy One of Israel" (Qadosh Yishraêl), which occurs 30 times in the Tanakh, 25 of which are in Isaiah (Isa 1:4). The Greek translation Ho Hagios ("the Holy One") occurs six times in the Besekh (Mark 1:24; Luke 3:34; John 6:69; 1Jn 2:20; Rev 3:7; 6:10).
A praise declaration "Blessed be He" or "Blessed is He" was added to utterance of names of God in the second century BC (Jubilees 25:22; 26:24; 31:17, 20; 1Enoch 39:10; 61:11). Its usage is alluded to in several Besekh passages (Luke 1:68; 2:28; 2Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1Pet 1:3). In the third century AD rabbinic authorities introduced the complete affirmation "The Holy One, Blessed be He" in reaction to the spread of saint-worship in Christianity. Judaism wanted to assert that God is the only Holy Being (fn 8, Avot 3:1). The Sages believed that use of the affirmation would induce humility, prevent too strong a craving for worldly pleasures, and result in a fuller appreciation of the majesty and power of God. We should consider the praise of God declared in heaven "You alone are holy" (Rev 15:4).
making: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. The verb reflects the whole message of the Psalm representing ADONAI (Heb. YHVH), whom the psalmist calls "my God" (Heb. Elohim), as creator. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. The Greek translates plural Heb. malakim. spirits: pl. of Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used in the Besekh for the human spirit, transcendent beings, and particularly the Holy Spirit. In the LXX pneuma translates Heb. ruach (SH-7307), which is used for the Spirit of God (Gen 1:2), breath (Gen 6:17), and wind (Gen 8:1) (DNTT 3:690). Ruach is also used of the human spirit (Gen 41:8) and a transcendent spirit-being (1Kgs 22:1; Job 4:15).
Many versions translate the noun as "winds," with a few offering the distorted interpretation of changing angels into winds (CEV, ERV). Psalm 104 is a song that recounts the creation of the heavens and earth and follows the sequence of events found in Genesis 1. Verse 4 does not describe the creation of wind and lightning, but the creation of angels and their essential being. Some versions do translate pneumata here as "spirits" (KJV, MEV, NIV, NKJV). Depicting angels as "spirits" does not deny they have corporeal substance, but rather that their substance is of an eternal quality in contrast to the flesh of humans created from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7).
The book of Job offers the earliest hint as to the creation of the angels. God asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth …When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God [Heb. benei-Elohim] shouted for joy" (Job 38:4, 7 NASB). In the book of Job celestial beings, including the one called Ha-Satan, are referred to as "sons of God" (Job 1:6; 2:1). The earth or land was brought into existence on the third day (Gen 1:9-13; Ps 104:5), so the angels had to have been created prior to this in order to witness the event. Psalm 104:4 suggests that angels were created on the second day when the waters of the Deep were stretched out and the expanse (or firmament) was created (Gen 1:6-8).
and: Grk. kai. His: Grk. autos. servants: pl. of Grk. leitourgos, a public servant, minister, servant. The Greek translates the participle of Heb. sharath (SH-8334), to minister or serve. The angels were created to serve God and figure prominently in Scripture in various ministering roles, especially to benefit the people of God (Gen 24:7, 40; Ex 23:23; 1Kgs 19:5; Matt 18:10; Luke 16:22; Heb 1:14). Angels assisted in giving the Torah (Deut 33:2; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2). Angels do the Lord's bidding and sometimes are God's instruments in executing His judgment on the wicked (Gen 19:1, 11-13; Ex 33:2; 2Kgs 19:35; Isa 37:36; Acts 12:23). Angels sometimes mediate revelation, either directly or through dreams and visions (Gen 31:11; Matt 1:20; 2:12-13, 19; Luke 1:11-17, 26-37; Acts 8:26; 10:3-6; 27:22-23; Rev 1:1; 10:1-2; 14:6-8; 17:1).
a flame: Grk. phlox (from phlegō, to burn or be aflame), a flame; translates the participle of Heb. lahat (SH-3857), to blaze up, burn up, flame. of fire: Grk. pur (for Heb. esh, SH-784), a fire, as a physical state of burning, but there are also fig. uses. Various interpretations have been offered for the angels being described with the characteristic of "a flame of fire." Angels may have the physical ability to move at the speed of lightning so they can swiftly carry out any directive from God. Since in Scripture angels are sometimes employed to speak for God, then their prophetic words may have the character of fire (cf. Jer 5:14). Then, "a flame of fire" may simply describe their passionate zeal in service to God.
In the Tanakh celestial beings are sometimes described as associated with or employing fire. When Adam and Chavvah were expelled from the garden, God left cherubim with a whirling sword of flame to guard access to the tree of life (Gen 3:24). The Angel of ADONAI appeared in a burning bush (Ex 3:2). On another occasion the Angel of ADONAI held a staff that shot fire to consume sacrificial meat (Jdg 6:21). A seraph cleansed Isaiah of iniquity by applying a burning coal to his lips (Isa 6:6-7). Ezekiel witnessed cherubim accompanied by whirling wheels of fire (Ezek 10:2, 9-13).
In the Besekh Yeshua will be revealed from heaven at his second coming with the angels in flaming fire (2Th 1:7-8). The apostle John saw an angel with legs like fire (Rev 10:1). In the book of Revelation angels execute God's judgment with burning substances (Rev 8:5, 8; 14:18; 16:8).
8 But to the Son, "Your throne, O God, into the age of the age; and the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
Source: Psalm 45:6.
But: Grk. de, conj. to: Grk. pros, prep. See the previous verse. the: Grk. ho, definite article. Son: Grk. huios. See verse 2 above. Many versions insert "He says," to imitate the previous verse. Paul then quotes from Psalm 45, which is generally regarded as a wedding poem, likely for David, although some commentators prefer Solomon. The link to David is in the promise that the king is said to be "blessed forever" (verse 2), as David petitioned based on God's promise (2Sam 7:13, 16, 29). In addition, Solomon was no warrior (Ps 45:3, 5), nor were his sons made princes over the land (verse 16) (Kaiser 127). The psalm does not identify the name of the bride. According to the Sages David had eight wives (Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathsheba) and ten concubines (2Sam 15:16; TB Sanhedrin 2:4).
David married Michal, Ahinoam, and Abigail before he became king, so the psalm would not apply to them. After David became King of Judah he married Maachah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah (2Sam 3:2-5). Psalm 45 was written after the covenant promise made to David when he was King of all Israel and thus its wedding theme could only apply to Bathsheba (2Sam 11:27). In spite of the circumstances of their marriage Bathsheba has an honored place in the Messianic genealogy (Matt 1:6). Since David was the type of the Messiah (Ezek 37:25), Jewish exegetes later interpreted the psalm as referring to the Messiah:
"Your beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than the sons of men; the spirit of prophecy has been placed on your lips; because of this the LORD has blessed you forever." (Targum Ps 45:3 Cook)
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, Psalm 45 is said to refer to the "Teacher of Righteousness," (Heb. Moreh ha-Tzedek) (4Q171; TDSS 253). The "Teacher of Righteousness" is an inspired interpreter of the prophets, as the one "to whom God made known all the mysterious revelations of his servants the prophets" (1QpHab 7:5; TDSS 84). Of interest is that Yeshua's enemies recognized him as a teacher of righteousness (Matt 22:16).
[Psalm 45:6] Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. throne: Grk. ho thronos (Heb. kisse, "seat of honor, throne") refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. Ancient thrones typically had a high back-rest and arm-rests and sometimes with a foot-stool. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively in Scripture of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). God is often depicted as sitting on a throne in heaven (1Kgs 22:19; Ps 47:8; Isa 6:1). O: Grk. ho, definite article, voc., used here as an interjection. God: Grk. theos (Heb. Elohim). See verse 1 above. Relevant to the declaration is that the throne of David was called the "throne of YHVH" (1Chr 28:5; 29:23) and the king ruled from that throne on behalf of God (2Chr 9:8).
Paul quotes the words of the psalm to assert that the Son has a throne and is deity. Stern notes that Jewish commentators observe that the first clause "Your throne O God" is the obvious translation, but it does not suit the context. How can the Messianic "Son" be God? This may be why Rashi in his commentary on Psalm 45 substituted "judge" for "God" based on God's statement that Moses would be as Elohim to Pharaoh (Ex 7:1). Yet, Scripture is unequivocal in its insistence on the deity of the Son (Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 6 above. the: Grk. ho, definite article. age: Grk. ho aiōn (Heb. olam). See verse 2 above. of the: Grk. ho. age: Grk. aiōn (Heb. ad, perpetuity). Many versions translate the phrase as "forever and ever," since it denotes endless time. The Son has always been in existence and will always be in existence. The Son as very God is eternal. The relevance of quoting Psalm 104:4 followed by the text of Psalm 45:6 is to assert that the Son was not created and therefore is superior to the angels.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the: Grk. ho. scepter: Grk. rhabdos, a staff or rod with a variety of functions (1) walking stick; (2) shepherd's staff; (3) a punitive rod; or (4) a scepter associated with a ruler's authority. In the LXX rhabdos is used for a shepherd's rod (Ex 4:2; Mic 7:14), a rod of punishment (Ex 21:30), Aaron's rod (Num 17:8), and a ruler's scepter (Ps 45:6; Esth 4:11). Rhabdos is used here in a figurative sense. of uprightness: Grk. ho euthutēs, the quality of being without deviation; righteousness, straightness, uprightness. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Gill notes that the Syriac version renders the noun, "stretched out," which signifies a scepter of mercy, as in the instance of Ahasuerus stretching out his scepter to Queen Esther (Esth 5:2). The good news of the Messiah declares the mercy, grace, and love of God to men through the Son of God.
is the scepter: Grk. rhabdos. of Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person, referring to the Son. kingdom: Grk. ho basileia means kingship, royal power, or territory ruled over by a king. Since a scepter is the symbol of king's authority and power, then saying that uprightness is the scepter of the Son's kingdom affirms that the Son's essential attribute reflects deity and therefore has authority over the angels.
9 You loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; because of this, God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions."
Source: Psalm 45:7.
Paul continues by quoting the next verse in Psalm 45. You loved: Grk. agapaō, aor., may mean (1) to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so; or (2) to take delight in, value, esteem. The second meaning is likely intended here. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used with a variety of applications. righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē (for Heb. tsedeq, justice, rightness, righteousness), a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354).
The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24) (DNTT 3:354). In the Tanakh the concept of righteousness refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal relationship with God. Righteousness is more relational than legal. The term also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice). Righteousness primarily has human relationships as its focus and therefore righteousness strengthens the community. So righteousness is not just abstaining from harmful behavior, but doing good for others.
and: Grk. kai, conj. hated: Grk. miseō, aor., to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō renders Heb. sane (SH–8130), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against. lawlessness: Grk. anomia (for Heb. reshah, wickedness). Anomia is formed from nomos, law, and the negative particle "a," making the word the equivalent of Torah-lessness or living contrary to Torah commands. The biblical concept of "lawlessness" does not mean abandonment of governmental laws, but rejection of God’s authority and His commandments as the standard for ethics and morality. Rienecker suggests that the aorist tense of the verbs "loved" and "hated" could apply to the life and ministry of the incarnate Son on earth.
your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. God: Grk. theos (Heb. Elohim). "Your God" is lit. "the God of You," i.e., "the God to whom You belong." The phrase has a dual meaning. First, Elohim is the God of the Davidic Messiah. Second, Elohim as a triunity includes Father, Spirit and Son. has anointed: Grk. chriō, aor., to anoint, setting one apart for special service. The verb is the root of the noun Christos, or "Anointed One," the Messiah. The Father and the Spirit have joined in the anointing action. you: Grk. su. Gruber comments that the clause "God has anointed you" indicates that he is God's Anointed, i.e., Messiah (Gruber 322). with the oil: Grk. elaion, oil of the olive. In the Besekh anointing with oil was for cosmetic purposes (Matt 6:17), for blessing a house guest (Luke 7:46) and for healing (Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34).
More importantly, Israelite kings were crowned and priests were ordained in a ceremony of anointing with olive oil, which invested them with the authority of their positions. Yeshua was not physically anointed as part of his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark. 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry. The noun "oil" is used here in a figurative sense connected to the following descriptive noun.
of gladness: Grk. agalliasis, exuberant joy, intense joy and gladness. above: Grk. para, prep. See verse 4 above. your: Grk. su. companions: pl. of Grk. metochos (for Heb. chaber, associate, companion), having a part in something; associate, partner, companion. Since Psalm 45 is a wedding poem the mention of "companions" could allude to "companions of the bridegroom" (cf. Jdg 14:11; 1Macc 9:39; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34; John 3:29). The companions of the bridegroom (Heb. Shoshbenin) would bring him gifts and rejoice with him and then their services and gifts were reciprocated on the occasion of their marriages (Baba Bathra 144b, fn. 20). In addition, they would bring him to the bridal chamber when it was time for consummation and later verify the tokens of virginity. Thus, they could be called upon as witnesses to attest to the bridegroom's integrity and the bride's virginity.
Stern suggests that the Messiah's companions are not angels, but human beings who have put their trust in him (cf. Rom 8:17, 29; Heb 2:10–11, 3:14). Of course, the angels do attend the Son and serve His interests and in that sense are parallel to the companions of the bridegroom. The last clause affirms that God has anointed the Son with a greater blessing, the blessing of gladness, than the angels could hope to give to the Son. This divine blessing elevates the Son above the angels.
10 And according to Bereshit, You, ADONAI, laid a foundation of the earth, and the heavens are works of Your hands.
Source: Genesis 1:1; Psalm 102:25.
And: Grk. kai, conj. Paul then quotes from the LXX of Psalm 102:25. according to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," expresses something associated with something else in terms of direction, position, or relation. With the noun following being in the accusative case the preposition denotes agreement or conformity and would mean "according to" or "by way of" (Thayer). Bereshit: pl. of Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start point; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here.
In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725; "beginning") first in Genesis 1:1; and rosh (SH-7218; "head, ruler") first in Genesis 2:10 (DNTT 1:164f). All Bible versions translate the opening phrase as "in the beginning." However, I suggest such translation would require "en archē" in the Greek text, not "kata archē." The noun archē is actually plural (archas, "beginnings"). Thus the psalmist used kata archas to allude the narrative of Genesis 1 and to affirm the reliability of the historical narrative of God's record of origins. Genesis 1 records six days of beginnings. See my article The Truth of Creation. The Targum then inserts "when all creatures were created" (Ps 102:26 Cook).
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Luke placed the pronoun immediately following the opening conjunction kai, whereas the LXX has it in this word order. ADONAI: Grk. kurios, voc., may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The second meaning applies here. Bible versions translate the noun as "Lord." In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). YHVH is not a title or a word for a deity, but the personal name of the God of Israel (Ex 3:15; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). For more information on the history and usage of YHVH see my article The Blessed Name.
In the Tanakh YHVH is the One who speaks for Elohim, and in this agency role YHVH did the creating (Gen 2:4; Ex 20:11; 31:17; 1Chr 16:26; Ps 96:5). The direct address of "You ADONAI" is not in the current Hebrew text of verse 25, but the direct address to YHVH is found in verse 1 and 12. The presence of the address in the LXX suggests that it was in the Hebrew text in the first century and was later removed, perhaps because of Paul's application to Yeshua.
laid a foundation: Grk. themelioō (from themelios, "foundation," "foundation stone"), aor., 2p-sing., establish a firm base for something, to lay a foundation, used here in a structural sense. In the LXX themelioō translates Heb. yasad (SH-3245; BDB 413), to establish, found or fix, first in Joshua 6:26. The Hebrew verb is generally used of constructing the foundation for a building or city. However, the verb has a special use in reference to the creation recorded in Genesis 1; e.g., Job 38:4; Psalm 24:2; 78:69; 89:11; 104:8; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 48:13; 51:13, 16; Zechariah 12:1.
of the: Grk. ho, definite article. earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776), first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). The formless body of water called "earth" was created on Day One, which also included creation of light (Gen 1:2-5). The dry land called "earth" was created on Day Three (Gen 1:9-12).
The verbal clause "you laid a foundation of the earth" emphasizes the creation of a solid structural design of the planet, which would require an intelligent mind to construct. The noun themelios (for Heb. mosadah, SH-4146), is used for the "foundations" of the earth (2Sam 22:16; Ps 18:15; Isa 24:18; Jer 31:37; Mic 6:2). The earth is not a haphazard collection of elements or minerals. Such structure could not possibly come into being by chance or cosmic explosion. Scientists generally describe the internal structure of the earth as layered in a series of spherical shells. See a summary and artistic rendering here.
Contrary to popular belief the Bible does affirm the spherical nature of the earth (Job 22:14; Isa 40:22). See the article "Who Invented the Idea of a Flat Earth?" Creation Ex Nihilo, Sept.-Nov. 1992. However, the earth is not a perfect sphere, but is slightly flattened at the poles, making the earth what scientists call an oblate spheroid. The Bible mentions the earth having four corners (Rev 7:1) and while evolutionists have mocked this revelation a modern discovery has confirmed that the earth does indeed have four corners or protuberances.
These four protuberances disrupt the normal curvilinear shape of the earth and have been located as follows, in terms of latitude and longitude: (1) 55° N, 10° W (near Ireland), (2) 50° S, 48° E (near South Africa), (3) 15° N, 140° E (near the Philippines), (4) 18° S, 80° W (near Peru). (W.H. Guier and R.R. Newton, "The Earth’s Gravity Field-Doppler Tracking of Five Satellites," Journal of Geophysical Research, 1965, quoted in BBMS 248).
and: Grk. kai. the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. heavens: pl. of Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2).
are: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. works: pl. of Grk. ergon (for Heb. maaseh, SH-4639, deed or work) generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. The Hebrew word is actually singular, but the LXX make it plural to denote the plurality of the heavens God created. of Your: Grk. su. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir (for Heb. yad), the anatomical limb of the hand. The use of "Your hands" as a poetic anthropomorphism of God not only denotes a powerful divine activity but also personal involvement. The heavens were created on Day Two (Gen 1:6-8) and the stars and planets occupying interstellar space were created on Day Four (Gen 1:14-18).
11 They will perish, but You remain; and all will become old as a garment.
Source: Psalm 102:26.
Paul continues his quotation from Psalm 102. They: masc. pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to the heavens and the earth mentioned in the previous verse. will perish: Grk. apollumi, fut. mid., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill, ruin; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish, die. The second meaning applies here with focus on loss of existence. In the LXX apollumi represents 38 different Hebrew words, most frequently, as here, abad (SH-6), to be lost, to perish or to destroy (DNTT 1:463). Abad is used generally of the death of individuals, the destruction of a city or annihilation of people groups as a result of God's judgment, so its use in this psalm to describe the eventual destruction of the heavens and earth is an exception. Scripture warns that some day the present universe will be subject to catastrophic destruction (cf. Isa 13:13; 24:1-4, 20-23; 34:4; 51:6; 2Pet 3:10; Rev 20:11).
but: Grk. de, conj. You remain: Grk. diamenō, pres., 2p-sing., remain or stay with focus on the durative aspect. In this verse of the LXX diamenō translates Heb. amad (SH-5975), to stand, remain or endure. Paul contrasts the mutability of the creation with the immutability of the Creator. YHVH, the Son, being the Creator of the universe, is eternal (Isa 40:28; 43:13; 60:19-20), and is not subject to the stresses and strains which the universe suffers. and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. will become old: Grk. palaioō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., consign to obsoleteness, become antiquated or old. as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here to introduce a pattern or model; just as, just like, similar to.
a garment: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally used of clothing or apparel without reference to its quality. In this verse of the LXX himation translates Heb. beged, (SH-899), a garment, clothing, raiment, robe of any kind (Gen 27:27) (DNTT 1:316). The clothing for an average Jewish man was a rectangular cloak, typically made of wool, with openings for the head and arms, and worn loosely over the under-tunic. The scientific term for this deterioration process is the law of entropy (also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics), which means that all created structures are in the process of breaking down. The law of entropy was effectively put into motion when God pronounced His curse of the earth because of Adam's sin (Gen 3:17). Eventually the earth will wear out, just as clothing does (Isa 51:6). In the meantime God maintains equilibrium in the universe (verse 3 above).
12 And like a cloak You will roll them, also like a garment they will be changed, but You are the same, and Your years will not fail."
Source: Psalm 102:26.
Paul continues his quotation of Psalm 102:26. And: Grk. kai, conj. like: Grk. hōsei, adv. has two applications: (1) to denote a comparison; as, as if, like; or (2) when used with numbers and measures to mean, about or approximately. The first meaning applies here. a cloak: Grk. peribolaion, something made of cloth used for covering a body part; cloak, covering. Mounce adds "that which is thrown around any one, clothing." This unique word occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other at 1Cor 11:15, which adds to the evidence of Pauline authorship for this letter. You will roll: Grk. helissō, fut., to role, roll up, fold or coil. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh, also in Revelation 6:14, in which John describes the heavens being rolled up as a scroll. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 3 above.
What can this word picture imply about the heavens? To answer that question we must consider how the heavens were created. In the beginning God began by creating a ball of water called "the deep" (Gen 1:2). Then He separated the waters to create an expanse or firmament and He called the expanse hashamayim, "the heavens" (Gen 1:6-8). From that point God "stretched out" the heavens (Job 9:8; 26:7; 37:18; Ps 104:2; Isa 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jer 10:12; 51:15; Zech 12:1) to achieve the incredible distances of interstellar space. Moreover, this stretching continued past creation and is apparently still going on. (Note the present tense of Job 9:8; 26:7; Ps 144:5; Isa 40:22; Zech 12:1.)
Modern astronomers generally believe that distant galaxies are all receding from our galaxy – or, that all galaxies are receding from each other (BBMS 171). Scripture seems to indicate that it is space itself that is being expanded or stretched out rather than the galaxies moving through unbounded nothingness. This means that interstellar space is not just an empty nothing, but is a real something. For a detailed scientific analysis see Barry Setterfield, The Expansion of the Universe and the CMBR (2015), and Joe Spears, The Big Stretch (2016).
also: Grk. kai. like: Grk. hōs, adv. See the previous verse. a garment: Grk. himation. See the previous verse. they will be changed: Grk. allassō, fut. pass., to change or alter, also to exchange. Scripture teaches that one day God will exchange the present universe for a new heaven and earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1). but: Grk. de, conj. You are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the: Grk. ho, definite article. same: Grk. autos. The Son's attributes and nature have never changed and will never change. and: Grk. kai. Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. will not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. fail: Grk. ekleipō, fut., to fail, to cease, come to an end. The Son always was and always will be.
13 But to which of the angels ever has He said, "Sit at My right hand, until anyhow I should make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet?"
Source: Psalm 110:1.
But: Grk. de, conj. to which: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 5 above. of the angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 4 above. ever: Grk. pote, particle. has He said: Grk. ereō, perf., inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. Paul asks a rhetorical question that borders on being a taunt and in so doing purposely omits the opening address of Psalm 110 from which he will quote. YHVH said to my Adôn ("Lord, master"). The LXX has "Ho Kurios said to my Kurios."
Rashi, the Medieval Jewish commentator, agreed with the view of some Sages that "my Adôn" should apply to Abraham (Talmud: Nedarim 32b and Sanhedrin 108b), on the basis that in Genesis 23: 6 Abraham was addressed by the sons of Heth by this title. The inherent problem with this interpretation is that the psalm looks forward not backward, the psalm was written centuries after Abraham's time, and the psalm also speaks of Zion, which was the city of David. But in the Midrash on Psalms, compiled in the 11th century, is found this comment:
"Rabbi Yudan [c. 350 A.D.] said in the name of Rabbi Hama [ben-Hina, c. 260 A.D.], 'In the time to come, when the Holy One, blessed be he, seats the King, the Messiah, at his right hand, as it is said, "ADONAI said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand,'" and seats Abraham at his left, Abraham’s face will grow pale, and he will say to God, "My son's son sits at the right, while I sit on the left!" God will then comfort him by saying to him, "Your son's son is indeed at my right, but I myself, in a manner of speaking, am at your right, since 'The Lord is at your right hand' (Psalm 110:5)." (Midrash on Psalm 18, Section 29; quoted in Stern 225)
The Midrash passage shows that there were Talmudic period rabbis, 3rd to 5th centuries AD. who applied Psalm 110 to the Messiah. The aggadic commentary Avot de-Rabbi Nathan (AD 700–900) also refers to Psalm 110 when discussing Zechariah 4:14, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the LORD of all the earth," and states:
"These are the two sons of the clear oil, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." This refers to Aaron and the Messiah, and we do not know who is more beloved; but, as it is written [Ps. cx. 4]: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent of it, thou shalt be a priest for ever." It is to be inferred from this that the latter is more beloved." (Tosefta - Avot of R. Nathan, Chap. 5, cited in Santala 124)
Psalm 110 makes two divine declarations, the first of which Paul applies here and the second of which he will apply in Chapter Five, Six and Seven. Three distinct persons are involved in the psalm: (1) YHVH, the speaker, (2) David, the recipient of the message, and (3) one whom David calls "my Lord" and whom he understands to be his sovereign, the one to whom he must submit (Kaiser 94). Paul then quotes from the first verse of Psalm 110. The psalm was previously quoted by Yeshua to his adversaries (Matt 22:44) in which he pointed out that the psalm's author David was not talking to himself. No angel is David's Lord. In addition, Peter in his Pentecost sermon quoted the from the psalm (Acts 2:34-35).
Sit: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. imp., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. In the LXX kathēmai translates Heb. yashab (SH-3427), to sit, remain or dwell (DNTT 3:588). Sitting implies the completion of the Son's redemptive work. at: Grk. ek, prep. My: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. right hand: pl. of Grk. dexios, adj. See verse 3 above. To sit at the right hand of the king was a mark of the highest honor (cf. 1Kgs 2:19; Matt 20:20-21; John 13:23). At a dinner of a Sage and his disciples it was customary for the one next in rank to be on the Sage's left and the third in rank on his right (Berachot 46b). Santala notes that the Jewish Sages say that, according to Psalm 72:17, the Messiah was granted this position before the creation (125). Bruce points out that the most exalted angels are those whose privilege it is to "stand in the presence of God" like Gabriel (Luke 1:19; Rev 8:2; cf. Dan 7:10), but none of them has ever been invited to sit before Him, still less to sit in the place of unique honor at his right hand.
until: Grk. heōs, conj., a marker of limit, here of time; till, until. anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated. The use of heōs an in combination with the subjunctive mood of the following verb leaves in doubt just when the event described will occur (Thayer). I should make: Grk. tithēmi, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. The verb has the sense of putting underneath. In this verse of the LXX tithēmi translates Heb. shith (SH-7896), to put or set, used in the sense of making one something.
Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. enemies: pl. of Grk. echthros, adj. (for Heb. oyeb, SH-341, an enemy or foe), someone openly hostile or inimical toward another, properly an enemy. The term implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a "personal" hatred bent on inflicting harm (HELPS). In normal usage the term may refer to opponents in military conflict or to personal enemies. In the context of Psalm 110 "your enemies" can mean the enemies of David, but in its prophetic foretelling they are the enemies of the Son-Messiah. the footstool: Grk. hupopodion, a device for supporting one's feet when in a sitting position, footstool.
In the LXX hupopodion appears six times and translates three different Hebrew words: (1) Heb. regel (SH-7272), foot, but translated as "footstool" in certain verses (1Chr 28:2; Ps 99:5; 110:1); (2) Heb. kebesh (SH-3534), footstool (2Chr 9:18); and (3) Heb. hadom (SH-1916), a stool or footstool, used twice to describe the earth as the footstool of God (Isa 66:1; Lam 2:1). of Your: Grk. su. feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. The LXX adds "of Your feet" as explanatory of the noun "footstool," which is not a constructed item of furniture. The declaration alludes to the practice of conquerors who placed their feet on the necks of their defeated enemies (cf. Josh 10:24).
David's prophecy indicates that there would be a considerable space of time between the Messiah assuming his place at the right hand of God and the last day of the present age when the Messiah achieves his complete victory (cf. Matt 26:64; Rom 16:20; Heb 10:11-13). Yeshua confirmed this lengthy period to his disciples (Matt 24:36-42; Acts 1:6-7). That day of the Messiah will surely come and make an end of the enemies of Israel (Isa 13:9; 42:13; Ezek 30:3; Mic 5:9; Obad 1:15; Zeph 2:3; 3:15; Zech 12:9; Matt 26:64; Rom 16:20; 2Th 1:6-11). All people and human systems will then be placed in subjection to the Messiah (1Cor 15:25, 27; Php 2:10; Heb 2:8).
14 Are they all not ministering spirits, being sent into service on behalf of those being about to inherit salvation?
Are they: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ouchi, interrogative particle, here with a tone suggesting a positive answer ought to be self-evident or is a no-brainer, not. ministering: Grk. leitourgikos, adj. given to serving, ministering. More specifically the adjective denotes divinely-authorized service, sacred devotion that performs what is acceptable to the all-holy God. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. spirits: pl. of Grk. pneuma. See verse 7 above. Gill says the phrase "ministering spirits" is Rabbinical; frequent mention is made in the Talmud of "the angels of ministry" or "the ministering angels" (Hagigah 12a, 14a-b, 16a; Ta'anith 11a; and Megillah 15b). Thus, Paul writing to Jews uses a familiar phrase well known to them.
being sent: Grk. apostellō, pl. pres. mid. part., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translates Heb. shalach ("stretch out" or "send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). into: Grk. eis, prep. service: Grk. diakonia, service or ministration, especially in meeting the needs of others. Sometimes the term is used in reference to dedication to a specific divine assignment. The angels of heaven live only to serve God and in that capacity Scripture records many anecdotes of angels being employed in divinely-directed errands. on behalf of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun.
being about: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to inherit: Grk. klēronomeō, pres. inf., to be an heir in a legal sense. More frequently the verb means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath. In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). In the religious sense sōtēria is deliverance from both the curse and consequences of sin. Salvation is sometimes spoken of as a present experience (1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:5; Titus 3:5), but is especially a future expectation of being delivered from God's wrath (Rom 5:10; 1Cor 3:15; 1Th 2:16; 5:9). Salvation is both individual and national in reference to Israel (Rom 11:26).
Paul points out that God assigns angels to perform various errands for the benefit of God's people. The fact that the angels are "spirits" means they are capable of passing between heaven and earth and carrying out missions on earth without being observed by humans. The errands of angels on behalf of individuals are many and varied:
● Acting as personal guardians to deliver from danger (Dan 6:22; Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15).
● Providing strength to endure or recover from a difficult circumstance (1Kgs 19:5, 7; Matt 4:11).
● Attending worship gatherings of believers (1Cor 11:10).
● Mediating revelation, either directly or through dreams and visions (Gen 31:11; 2Kgs 1:3; Matt 1:20; 2:12-13, 19; Luke 1:11-17, 26-37; Acts 8:26; 10:3-6; 27:22-23; Rev 1:1; 10:1-2; 14:6-8; 17:1).
● Carrying the soul to Paradise after death (Luke 16:22).
Angels have also had a ministering role in behalf of Israel.
● Assisted in giving the Torah (Deut 33:2; cf. Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2).
● Provided protection against national enemies (Ex 12:14;2Kgs 19:35; Ps 34:7).
● Went before Israel to lead the nation into Canaan (Ex 23:20; 32:34).
Two other ministries of angels may be noted. First, angels sometimes are God's instruments in executing His judgment for wicked acts (Gen 19:1, 13-14; 2Sam 24:17; Ps 78:49; Acts 12:23), and will be especially involved in the punishments associated with the final days of wrath (Rev 7:1; 8:2-3; 9:1; 11:15). Second, when Yeshua returns he will send his angels to gather all his followers from around the earth (Matt 24:31; Mark 13:27).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Cook: Edward M. Cook, The Psalms Targum: An English Translation. 2001. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, ed. The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Greek New Testament translated and annotated by Daniel Gruber.]
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
JANT: Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1980, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
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