Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 29 April 2020; Revised 14 May 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 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 Two Summary
Paul interrupts his comparison of the Son of God to angels with the first of six warnings, a warning against drifting through neglect. He then demonstrates the superiority of the Son by his original authority over the earth and then his incarnation and humbling, whereby he became the author of salvation and a merciful and faithful high priest.
Chapter Two Outline
First Warning, 2:1-4
Dominion of the Son of Man, 2:5-8
Humbling of Yeshua, 2:9-13
Victorious Savior, 2:14-18
First Warning, 2:1-4
1 Because of this, it behooves us to pay attention abundantly to these things having been heard, lest ever we should drift away.
Because: 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. of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The opening phrase refers back to the content of the previous chapter. it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of necessity or an expected outcome, something that must happen or something one is obligated to do, which may arise in a variety of circumstances; must, necessary, behooves. Many versions translate the verb as "must." The advantage of "behooves" is that it means both an action necessary because of obligation and an action that provides a personal benefit.
us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul includes himself with his audience. to pay attention: Grk. prosechō, pres. inf., be on the alert, which may be used of (1) putting up one's guard; beware, take heed; or (2) of giving attention to personal obligation; take care, pay attention to. The second meaning applies here. abundantly: Grk. perissōs, adv., extraordinary in number, size or quality; abundantly, exceedingly, greatly, intensely, vehemently. to these things: neut.-pl. of Grk. ho, article derived from a demonstrative pronoun which may function either as demonstrative pronoun ("this one, that one") or a definite article ("the"), here the former (BAG). In the LXX ho corresponds to the Heb. letter Hey ("hah"), which is added as a prefix to Hebrew words to specify or limit the word.
having been heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. pass. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The expression "the things having been heard" refers back to verse 2 of the previous chapter and the final revelation through the Son.
Most Bible versions translate the participle as "we have heard," but the plurality of the participle is on the content of the teaching received from Yeshua, not the ones taught. The "things" heard from the lips of Yeshua would include the call to repentance as preparation for the Kingdom of God, kingdom ethics as presented in the Sermon on the Mount, preparation for the last days found in the Olivet Discourse and revelation of the person and work of the Son of God as presented in the testimony of John. These truths were faithfully communicated by the apostles.
lest: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation suggesting a cautious mode of statement. The particle may be used as an adverb to negate a statement ruling out its possibilities or implications, "no, not," or as a conjunction to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution to avoid a consequence, "lest," which is the intention here. ever: Grk. pote, conj., a disjunctive particle related to time; at one time or other, at some time, ever.
we should drift away: Grk. pararreō, aor. subj., 1p-pl., properly to float (flow) alongside, drifting past a destination because pushed along by current (HELPS). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb graphically describes "sinning by slipping away" from God's anchor and our moorings in Messiah and thus to lapse into spiritual defeat. In the LXX pararreō occurs two times and translates Heb. luz (SH-3868), to turn aside, depart (Prov 3:21), and Heb. yabal (SH-2988), watercourse, stream (Isa 44:4).
The use of this verb suggests that Paul likely had the proverb of Solomon in mind, "My son, let these [wisdom, knowledge and understanding] not depart from your eyes; guard sound wisdom and discretion" (Prov 3:21 BR). Paul had a parental attitude toward those whom he had introduced to Yeshua and discipled (1Cor 4:14, 17; Gal 4:19; 1Th 2:7, 11; 1Tim 1:2, Titus 1:4; Phm 1:10). His readers had received the knowledge of the Son of God, just as he had, and care needed to be exercised to prevent its loss.
2 For if through angels the Torah having been spoken became inviolable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense,
Verses 2-4 are one sentence in the Greek text. 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. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. through: Grk. dia, prep. See the previous verse. In practical terms the preposition as used here denotes "by the service of, or with the help of" (Thayer), rather than a direct mediatorial role.
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. Angels are far different from popular assumptions about angels. Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. In Scripture angels have masculine descriptions (Jdg 13:6; Dan 9:21; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4), contrary to art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. See my web article The Host of Heaven.
The involvement of the angels is assumed from the statement of Deuteronomy 33:2, made more definite by the LXX:
MT: "ADONAI came from Sinai and rose up from Seir on them; He shone forth from Paran and He came from the midst of ten thousands of holy ones; at His right hand a fiery law to them."
LXX: "The LORD is come out of Sinai and He appeared upon Seir to us. And He hastened from out of Paran with myriads of holy ones; at his right hand angels with Him." (ABP)
Stephen in his defense sermon before the Sanhedrin also mentions the involvement of angels (Acts 7:53). Josephus says something similar:
"And for ourselves, we have learned from God the most excellent of our doctrines, and the most holy part of our law, by angels or ambassadors; for this name brings God to the knowledge of mankind, and is sufficient to reconcile enemies one to another. What wickedness then can be greater than the slaughter of ambassadors, who come to treat about doing what is right?" (Ant. XV, 5:3).
The Sages noted that the Torah was not given to the ministering angels to observe and keep (Berachot 25b; Yoma 30a; Kiddushin 54a), so the employment of actual angels in transmitting God's commandments to Israel is debatable. Stern notes that while the idea of angelic mediation of the Torah was widespread in rabbinic midrashic literature, one medieval Jewish work strongly rebuts the idea:
"When [God] gave the commandments on Mount Sinai, at first he uttered them loudly all at once, as it is said, 'And God spoke all these words [simultaneously], saying, … ' (Exodus 20:1). Then [the angel] Mikha’el said, 'He will commission me to explain his words.' And [the angel] Gavri’el said, 'He will commission me to explain them.' But as soon as he continued, saying, 'I am ADONAI your God' (Exodus 20:2), they said, 'As he gives his children the Torah he is committing his commandments, fully explained, directly to his son Israel." (Pesikta Rabbati 21:5, quoted by Stern)
The translation of some versions might give the impression that the angels rather than God gave the commandments or the angels "ordained" the commandments themselves, which flies in the face of the Exodus narrative of the Sinai encounter. Moses simply stated that angels were with ADONAI on Sinai. The one receiving the ministry of angels would be Moses, just as Yeshua received the ministry of angels in the wilderness (Matt 4:11). Since God provided detailed instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and all its contents, angels could have assisted in this communication.
the Torah: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Dabar is used frequently in the Torah to refer to the commandments given by God to Israel (Ex 35:4; Lev 8:5; Deut 9:10; 17:19). Indeed, the Ten Commandments are the ten words (Heb. debarim) of ADONAI (Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4).
having been spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. pass. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. The use of the phrase lalētheis logos (written in Hebrew word order) points to the fact that God spoke the covenantal instructions verbally to Moses who wrote them down, as the Jewish ritual saying goes, al pee ADONAI b'yad Mosheh, "from the mouth of ADONAI, by the hand of Moses" (Ex 24:4; 34:28; Deut 4:44; 31:9).
became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., 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. inviolable: Grk. bebaios, adj. (from bainō, "to walk where it is solid"), solid or sure enough to walk on; hence, firm, secure, unshakable, unalterable; fig. absolutely dependable. Paul uses the adjective to allude to the fact that God's instructions are not subject to change by man (Deut 4:2; 12:32; cf. Matt 5:17-19). Too many modern believers want to treat God's commandments as suggestions.
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. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. transgression: Grk. parabasis, diversion from a path; transgression, violation. The noun refers to a willful act and not a mistake of ignorance. In the LXX parabasis occurs only in Psalm 101:3 to translate the participle of Heb. sut (SH-7750), to swerve or fall away. In that context the noun refers to someone who performs wicked acts.
and: Grk. kai. disobedience: Grk. parakoē (from parakouō, "resistance to listening"), act of disregarding with focus on refusal to comply with what one has heard; disobedience. received: Grk. lambanō, aor., actively lay hold of to take or receive. a just: Grk. endikos, adj., based on what is right; deserved, just, righteous. recompense: Grk. misthapodosia, rendering of return for performance; recompense. The noun occurs three times in the Besekh, all in this letter (also 10:35 and 11:26). The principle of "every transgression received recompense" first points to the justice code in the Torah, which provides for actions to be taken by individuals and the community whenever any of the commandments were broken (e.g., Ex 22-23), in both criminal matters and tort complaints.
God defined the principles of due process to achieve justice, such as impartiality of judges, an orderly procedure and insistence on evidence to prove a case. God also prescribed specific punishments and remedies in order to do justice for victims. The goal of the divinely prescribed jurisprudence is to vindicate the innocent and to punish the guilty without fear or favor. See my article Biblical Justice.
In particular the "just recompense" specified for transgressions and willful disobedience was death and the verb "received" also alludes to actual incidents of the recompense being applied. The Torah records anecdotes of either God or Moses imposing the death penalty against specific individuals, such as the golden calf idolatry offenders (Ex 32:27), Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire (Lev 10:1-2), people that grumbled about the manna (Num 11:1), a man who broke the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36), Korah, Dathan and Abiram for rebellion against Moses (Num 16:31-33), people that grumbled against God and Moses (Num 21:5-6), and idolatrous Israelites at Peor (Num 25:4). The Torah thus established the principle or "law of sin and death" (Rom 8:2) that the "wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23; cf. Rom 5:12; 6:16; Jas 1:15; 5:20).
3 how will we escape having neglected so great a salvation, which in the beginning having been received, declared through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those having heard,
how: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? Bruce notes that the question introduces an a fortiori inference drawn from law (mentioned in the previous verse) to gospel. In Jewish culture this kind of argument is called kal v'chomer ("light and heavy"): If A is true, then, "with greater strength"), B must also be true. Explicit kal v'chomer arguments appear frequently in the Besekh, which emphasizes the fact that the Jewish apostles employed rabbinic hermeneutical rules (Stern 32). Hillel the elder (110 BC – AD 10) expounded seven hermeneutical principles, the first of which was kal v'chomer (Tosefta Sanhedrin VII).
will we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Again Paul includes himself with his readers. escape: Grk. ekpheugō, fut. mid., 1p-pl., to seek safety in flight, to flee out of, flee away, escape. Paul means "how will we escape the law of sin and death?" (Rom 8:2). having neglected: Grk. ameleō, pl. aor. part., not to care; show no interest in, pay no attention to, ignore, disregard. so great: Grk. tēlikoutos, demonstrative pronoun, remarkable for degree of size relative to something interacting; so great, so large, important. There are trivial things that can be neglected, but the truly important things require serious attention.
a salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath. In the LXX sōtēria translates several different Hebrew formations, but chiefly nouns or participles derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver, such as yeshu'ah (SH-3444), deliverance, salvation, victory; first in Genesis 49:18 (DNTT 3:206). The yasha word-group generally depicts physical rescue by God, especially from oppression or external evils, often through human agency. Sōtēria also translates the Hebrew noun shalom (SH-7985), completeness, soundness, welfare, peace; and derivative terms (Gen 26:31; 28:21; 44:17; Jdg 21:4; Job 20:20).
In the Tanakh the Hebrew concept of salvation also included the spiritual idea of having sins forgiven (e.g., Ps 51:14; 79:9; Jer 17:14; Ezek 37:23) (TWOT 1:415). God's mercy in providing salvation depends on contrition and repentance (Ps 51:5-12; Isa 30:15; 45:22; 59:1-2; Jer 4:14). In the Besekh 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's question is meant to provoke serious self-examination. The implied answer to the question is that we won't escape judgment if we neglect the terms of salvation God has offered (Stern).
The mention of salvation is likely a play on words since "Yeshua" (see verse 9 below) is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y'hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). Yeshua is also the masculine form of the feminine noun yeshu'ah. The question is especially important to Paul since he had neglected the salvation when he first heard the good news proclaimed in Jerusalem and instead turned that neglect into open rejection and violence against the followers of Yeshua. It is no wonder that he extols the mercy of God granted to him (cf. Rom 5:8; Gal 2:20; 1Tim 1:15; 2Tim 4:8)
which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. in the beginning: 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).
having been received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. See the previous verse. declared: Grk. laleō, pres. mid. inf. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. the: Grk. ho, definite article. Lord: Grk. kurios 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. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
The good news of salvation was certainly first proclaimed by Yeshua (cf. Luke 19:9; John 4:22). However, the use of the first person pronoun in the in the first clause implies that Paul means something very personal, "How will I escape having neglected so great a salvation that I received in my beginning through the Lord Yeshua." it was confirmed: Grk. bebaioō (from bebaios, "firm, secure"), aor. pass., to put beyond doubt, confirm, establish, validate. to us: Grk. hēmeis. It is noteworthy that Paul does not say "to me." The plural pronoun probably includes Barnabas. by: Grk. hupo, prep. used to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under; and used here as a marker of agency or cause. The preposition depicts the agent being under the authority of the Lord.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part. See verse 1 above. The verb alludes to the first witnesses for Yeshua, his apostles. Bruce interprets the last clause as evidence that the author of this letter was not Paul, saying,
"Our author, unlike Paul, does not claim any direct revelation from Christ for himself or assert his independence of the apostles; in this respect he puts himself on the same level as his fellow-Christians who heard the gospel from those 'who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Luke 1:2)
After all, Paul asserted that he received his doctrine directly from the Lord Himself (Gal 1:12; 1Cor 9:1). Fruchtenbaum and Stern concur with this point of view. Stern says "the writer indicates that neither he nor his readers knew Yeshua personally during his earthly lifetime." However, in my view this interpretation completely misconstrues the point here. The writer does not say that the readers had not known Yeshua or that he didn't know Yeshua personally, as Paul certainly knew Yeshua (2Cor 5:16). Some of his readers could have been in Jerusalem for the week of Passover when Yeshua cleansed the temple and taught multitudes of pilgrims.
The confirmation of which Paul speaks is two-fold. First, as Gill observes, though Paul had the knowledge of salvation by personal revelation from Yeshua himself, his reception of grace and apostolic appointment were confirmed to him by Ananias (Acts 9:10-17). Second, after an initial ministry in Damascus it became necessary for Barnabas to mediate Paul's introduction to and acceptance by the principal apostles in Jerusalem. Luke recounts the story as follows:
"26 Moreover having arrived in Jerusalem, he [Paul] was trying to join the disciples; but all were fearing him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas, having taken hold, brought him to the apostles and described to them how he saw the Lord on the road, and that he spoke to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Yeshua. 28 And he was with them, coming in and going out in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord." (Acts 9:26-28 BR)
Paul also wrote of the confirmation of his status as an apostle,
"and having recognized the grace having been given to me, Jacob and Kefa and John, those esteemed to be pillars, gave the right hands of fellowship to me and Barnabas, so that we should go into the nations and they to the circumcision." (Gal 2:9 BR)
4 God bearing witness by signs and also wonders and various miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His will.
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.
bearing witness: Grk. sunepimartureō, pres. part., to testify or bear witness together with. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The phrase "God bearing witness" complements the clause in the previous verse of salvation being declared through the Lord Yeshua. An application can also be made to the chief apostles, including Paul. by signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion mainly translates Heb. oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to extraordinary acts that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Acts 7:36).
In the Besekh sēmeion identifies unique and special miracles performed by Yeshua (John 20:30f; Acts 2:22). The creation scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, distinguishes between Grade A miracles and Grade B miracles. Signs are Grade A miracles, because they require setting aside the laws of science. By definition only God can perform creation miracles. John's narrative records seven signs performed by Yeshua: changing water to wine (2:1-11), healing of the official's son (4:46-54), healing a paralyzed man (5:1-9), feeding 5000 (6:1-15), walking on water (6:16-21), healing a man born blind (9:1-7), and raising Lazarus from death (11:38-44). Signs were also performed by the chief apostles and other messengers of Yeshua (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. also: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras, a phenomenon with astounding effect; marvel, wonder, portent. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the plural and always coupled with "signs." In the LXX teras renders Heb. mopheth (SH-4159), a wonder, sign or portent. The term is used of special displays of God's power, especially the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron in Egypt (Ex 4:21; 11:10). In the Besekh "wonders" are especially associated with the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 15:12). The performance of "signs and wonders" are beyond the gift of miracles given to believers (1Cor 12:9-10) and are the mark of apostleship (2Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4).
and: Grk. kai. various: pl. of Grk. poikilos, adj., with many features; manifold, of various kinds. miracles: pl. of Grk. dunamis (from dunamai, "having ability"), an exhibition of a singular capability, a powerful or wondrous deed or miracle. Most miracles fall into the category of Grade B, providential miracles, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81f). Dr. Morris classifies most of the healing miracles of Yeshua as Grade B, because the normal process of healing was greatly accelerated. Bruce notes that the same three nouns ("signs, wonders, miracles") occur in Acts 2:22, but in reverse order, all a divine confirmation that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah.
and: Grk. kai. distributions: pl. of Grk. merismos, a dividing or distribution, apportionment. The noun occurs only in this letter (also 4:12). of the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. Luke applies Hebrew grammatical form to the Greek text writing the words from right to left as in Hebrew (Pneumatos Hagiou) and by omitting the definite article for both "Holy" and "Spirit," corresponding to the lack of the definite article in the three passages of Ruach Qodesh.
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 pronoun following being in the accusative case the preposition denotes agreement or conformity and would mean "according to" or "by way of" (Thayer). 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.
will: Grk. thelēsis, a desire or wish, a willing. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The first distribution was on 120 disciples of Yeshua on Pentecost (Acts 1:15; 2:1-4). The phrase "according to His will" alludes to Paul's statement in his letter to the congregation in Corinth that the Spirit distributes the gifts as He desires (1Cor 11:11; cf. Gal 3:5). Paul affirms that God bore witness to his apostolic commission by working signs, wonders and miracles through him and Barnabas during their Diaspora journeys (Acts 15:12), and especially on Cyprus (Acts 13:8-11), in Iconium (Acts 14:3), in Philippi (Acts 16:18, 26) and in Ephesus (Acts 19:11-12). Also, Paul was personally filled with the Spirit (Acts 9:17-18) and witnessed a "distribution" of the Holy Spirit upon disciples in Ephesus (Acts 19:6).
Dominion of the Son of Man, 2:5-8
5 For not to angels did He subject the world that is coming, concerning which we are speaking.
Paul presents another reason for emphasizing the superiority of the Son. For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. to angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. did He subject: Grk. hupotassō, aor., to place or rank under, to be in compliance with requirements for order, to subject, so subordinate, to bring into compliance. Hupotassō is derived from hupo (under) and tassō (arrange, appoint), which originated as a military term where a rank structure is clearly defined (DNTT 1:476). The subject of the verb is God, being the antecedent in the previous verse.
the: Grk. ho, definite article. world: Grk. oikoumenē, the world as an inhabited area, often with focus on its inhabitants. 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).
that: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. is coming: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. Many versions translate the participle as an infinitive, "to come." The CJB, OJB and TLV translate oikoumenē tēn mellousan as the olam haba, which means "the age to come" and refers to the Messianic age. Eisenbaum affirms that "the coming world" is the new world wherein Yeshua reigns and interprets Psalm 110:1 as a summary statement of his reign (408).
Bruce suggests that the angels were given assignments in the present world based on the LXX rendering of Deuteronomy 32:8, "When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God" (Brenton). See the Textual Note below. The LXX reading implies that the administration of the various nations has been divided among a corresponding number of angelic powers. The book of Daniel makes this angelic administration explicit, mentioning an angelic "prince of Persia" and "prince of Greece (Dan 10:20), while Michael is the great prince for the people of Israel (Dan 10:21; 12:1). Paul refers to rulers, powers, world forces and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
However, the administration of the present world will not continue into the age to come. The world to come will be ruled over by the Son of God (1Cor 15:25), whom the Father appointed the heir of all things (Heb 1:2; also verse 8 below). Not only will angels not have any authority in that future world, but God's people will reign with Yeshua (2Tim 2:12) and judge the angels, as Paul said,
"do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world [Grk. kosmos]? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1Cor 6:2-3 NIV)
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. which: 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. we are speaking: Grk. laleō, pres., 1p-pl. See verse 2 above. Laleō denotes the act of one who utters words with the living voice, so Paul may be alluding to occasions in public settings when he spoke of this matter and followed up with repetition in his letters (Rom 15:12; 1Cor 15:24-25; Eph 1:21; Col 2:10). The verb also serves to introduce the following quotation from Psalm 8 which supports his assertion.
Textual Note: Angels of God
The LXX reading of angelōn theou at the end of Deuteronomy 32:8 presupposes a Hebrew witness to the LXX reading, benei elohim, lit. "sons of God" in place of the MT benei Yisrael, "sons of Israel." The plural benei elohim does refer to angels in the book of Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:4, 7). Such a witness was found among the biblical texts from Cave 4 at Qumran (4Q37).
6 Now a certain one has testified in a certain place, saying, "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
Source: Psalm 8:4; 144:3
MT: "What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him?"
LXX: "What is man that you remember him or a son of man that you visit him?" (ABP)
Now: 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 second meaning applies here. a certain one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. Since the "certain one" is King David, he is certainly to be distinguished above others. As used here the pronoun may suggest an understated tone, implying his readers should know something: "You know there is someone who…"
has testified: Grk. diamarturomai, aor. mid., an emphatic declaration establishing the importance of what is stated, giving full, clear testimony. The middle voice emphasizes witnessing done with a high level of strong personal interest motivating it (HELPS). The verb implies declaring that which has been received by divine revelation. in a certain place: Grk. pou, adv. of place, which Danker defines as "indicating that precision about a datum is not a matter of concern; somewhere." The adverb also means "where" and used of a specific location (Mark 15:47; John 1:39). Many versions translate the adverb as "somewhere" but others have "in a certain place" (AMPC, DRA, KJV, MEV, NKJV, NMB, RGT, WESLEY, YLT).
Bible commentators generally deduce from the use of this adverb that the author did not know where the quoted verse is located in the Bible, so Paul did not write this letter. Of course, this doubt should extend to any of the proposed authors. The adverb pou simply means "in a certain place" (Mounce). It is not as ambiguous as the English translation of "somewhere." The text quoted in this verse from Psalm 8:4 also occurs in Job 7:17 (by the patriarch Job), and Psalm 144:3 (by David). So, in a sense the adverb conflates the multiple locations, and serves to economize words.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; ask, declare, say, speak, tell. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Some modern versions omit the verb. Paul then quotes from Psalm 8:4-6 from the LXX. The first part of the posed question in this verse may also be found in Job 7:17 and the full question is also found in Psalm 144:3.
Psalm 8 appears in Book I of the Psalms (1-41) and bears the inscription "For the music director upon the Gittite lyre; a psalm of David" (TLV). The psalm is classified as a Hymn of Praise and is addressed to "ADONAI our Lord" (Heb. YHVH Adoneinu) given in Christian versions as "LORD our Lord." The psalm is organized with three parts, an opening exclamation of praise of ADONAI as the defender of Israel and creator of the heavens (1-3), an expression of wonder at the regard of ADONAI for man and his assigned dominion over the earth (4-8), and a closing praise of the majesty of ADONAI (9).
What: Grk. tís (for Heb. mah, SH-4100), interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is: Grk. eimi, pres., 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). man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words (adam, ish, and enosh), generally of an adult male, husband or mankind (DNTT 2:564). In Psalm 8:4 and Job 7:17 the word is enosh (SH-582), and in Psalm 144:3 the word is adam (SH-120), both of which mean "man" or "mankind." Some versions translate the noun as plural with "human beings, humans, mankind or people." David does not mean the human race per se, but he uses enosh to designate a common or ordinary man, especially himself.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here, complementing the verb "saying." you are mindful: Grk. mimnēskō (for Heb. zakar, SH-2142, "remember"), pres. mid., 2p-sing., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past, to recollect or remember. The verb denotes to remind oneself actively or purposefully; to remember, have in mind, be mindful of (HELPS). The verb has a compassionately purposeful ring, since God's remembering always implies His movement toward the object of his memory (Kidner 84)
of him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 4 above. Some versions inexplicably translate the singular noun as plural "them" (CEB, ERV, GNB, MSG, NIV, NLT, NRSV, NTE). The question "what is man" expresses a contrast with the greatness of the heavens. Kidner observes that out of all God's creation only man can even ask such a question (Ibid.). God might answer that such a question is impertinent (Job 38:1-2; Isa 40:27; 51:12) and that He didn't create the earth to be an empty place (Isa 45:18). The rhetorical question can mean different things in different contexts. In Psalm 144:3 David's question mocks human arrogance to note that man's life is characterized by its brevity. Job asks the question in the context of his suffering in which he feels tested every day (Job 7:17). In Psalm 8 David's question implies no complaint or pessimism, simply wonder at God's favor toward him.
or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here. the 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. of man: Grk. anthrōpos. (for Heb. adam, SH-120). The second part of the question with "son of man" forms a poetic parallelism with "man." It is noteworthy that the word for "man" in the Hebrew text changes from enosh in the first part of the question to adam in the second part of the question.
The title "son of man" occurs 107 times in the Tanakh. The idiom of "ben Adam," or "son of the first man Adam," is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. In the Tanakh, except in two passages, ben adam is an idiomatic synonym for "man," occurring 11 times in a general sense of all mankind (e.g., Num 23:19; Job 25:6). This sense also occurs when God addresses two prophets as "ben Adam:" Ezekiel (93 times) and Daniel, once (Dan 8:17). In the original context of Psalm 8 the "son of man" is David who uses the title to refer to himself. This identification is confirmed in Psalm 80:
"God of armies, please come back! Look from heaven, see, and tend this vine! 15 Protect what your right hand planted, the son you made strong for yourself. 16 It is burned by fire, it is cut down; they perish at your frown of rebuke. 17 Help the man at your right hand, the son of man you made strong for yourself." (Ps 80:14-17 CJB; cf. Ps 2:7, 12; 110:1)
The manner of referring to oneself in the third person without formal identification is typical of biblical authors as a mark of humility and such indirect self-references occur frequently in the psalms of David (e.g., Ps 2:2; 19:11; 27:9; 31:16; 69:17; 86:2, 4, 16; 103:1; 104:35; 109:28; 143:2). However, Paul's quotation of the psalm is intended to present David's declaration as a revelation of the Messiah, as he will confirm in verse 8 below. Paul sees in the words of David the mystery of the incarnation, deity condescending to take on human flesh. This is the only use of the title by Paul, whereas he refers to Yeshua as the "Son of God" eight times (Rom 1:4; 2Cor 1:19; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:13; Heb 4:14; 6:6; 7:3; 10:29).
The Psalms have a place of special importance as Messianic proofs in the teaching of both Yeshua (Luke 24:44) and the apostles (Acts 2:25-35; 4:25-26; 13:33, 35). The Jewish Sages saw the Psalms as reflectors of the Messianic idea much more than do modern Christians. Payne identifies 13 psalms as Messianic, including Psalm 8 (260). Various psalms of David are particularly noted for their Messianic passages (Psalm 2, 16, 22, 41, 69, and 110). In the Rabbinic literature the Messiah is constantly referred to as the "Son of David." For this reason, everywhere the future blessing of the house of David is described, the Sages saw Messianic material (Santala 109).
Paul was not unaware that Yeshua constantly referred to himself by the title "Son of Man." Yeshua's self-description as the Son of Man was purposeful to connect his ministry with the fulfillment of prophecy and to demonstrate the complexity of his mission. Yeshua used the title in two different ways that seems contradictory, first as the end-time Judge and King prophesied by Daniel 7:13-14 (Matt 25:31; Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62; Luke 9:22), and second as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 (Mark 8:31; 9:12, 31; 10:33, 45).
that: Grk. hoti. The conjunction introduces a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb "saying." you visit: Grk. episkeptomai (for Heb. paqad, SH-6485, "to attend to, visit"), pres. mid., 2p-sing., may mean (1) to take an interest in, care for; (2) look for, find; (3) look in on, visit. The third meaning applies here, but the great majority of Bible versions opt for the first meaning and translate the verb as "care for," interpreting "son of man" as just a synonym of "man." A few versions have "visits" (ASV, BRG, DARBY, DRA, KJV, LAMSA, RV, WESLEY). The third meaning is appropriate as a translation of the Hebrew verb. him: Grk. autos; i.e., "the son of man," which applies first to David and then to Yeshua.
As applied to David the last clause expresses his own wonder that God should visit him with revelations by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Sam 16:13; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2; Matt 22:43; Acts 1:16; 2Pet 1:21). When the prophet Nathan prophesied God's covenantal promises to David, he replied, "Who am I, my Lord ADONAI, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? (2Sam 7:18 TLV). The verb episkeptomai should be translated as "visits" because the translation "care for" as applied to Yeshua would be a non sequitur, as if the Son is a dependent who needs looking after. Yes, the Father loves the Son (John 3:35; 5:20), but that is not the point here. There are two occasions when Yeshua received a visitation from heaven due to his human weakness (Matt 4:11; Luke 22:43), and on those occasions he was strengthened by angels.
7 You lowered him some little while alongside of angels; you crowned him with glory and honor,
Source: Psalm 8:5
MT: "For you have made him lower, a little, than angels. You have crowned him with honor and glory."
LXX: "You lessened him short of any of the angels, with glory and honor you crowned him." (ABP)
You lowered: Grk. elattoō, aor., 2p-sing., treat with less importance, whether position or status. Thayer has "make less or inferior." In the LXX of this verse elattoō translates Heb. chaser (SH-2637), to lack, need, be lacking, decrease. The subject of the verb is ADONAI (Heb. YHVH, Ps 8:1), who is the Creator. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 4 above. David intends the pronoun to refer to the "man/son of man" parallelism construct in the previous verse. The lowering action was done in conjunction with the creation of man and alludes to the hierarchy God imposed on created beings and human institutions, including marriage and the home, government and the congregation of God.
some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See the previous verse. little while: Grk. brachus, adj. (for Heb. mêat, SH-4592, "a little, fewness, a few"), short, brief, little, which may used (1) of space as a distance; (2) of time; (3) of size or quantity; or (4) of value or importance (LSJ). A number of Bible versions interpret the adjective as a reference to time and so translate as "a little while" or "a short time" (e.g., AMP, CEB, CEV, CSB, ESV, GNB, NASB, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV, WE). Other versions interpret the adjective as referring to importance in the sense of position or rank (GW, KJV, MSG, MW, NCV, NIV, NOG, OJB). The Hebrew word is used adverbially of time and of degree (BDB 589), and it's possible that David could have intended both meanings.
alongside of: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), para conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, "from," when the following noun is in the genitive case; (2) a close association or proximity, "with, beside, in the presence of" when the following noun is in the dative case; or (3) a motion terminating at rest, "alongside of, near to," when the following noun is in the accusative case. The third usage applies here since the following noun is in the accusative case. The preposition is used to present a comparison. The great majority of versions translate the preposition as "than," which is not a meaning given by lexicons. The preposition as used here conveys the meaning "to make one inferior to another" (Thayer).
angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. The angels were created before Adam (cf. Job 38:4, 7; Ps 104:2-5; Isa 14:11-15; Ezek 28:11-19), so they witnessed God filling the earth with flora and fauna and creating the first man and woman. The lifespan of Adam and David was a very short time compared to angels who were created as immortal beings and not subject to death. God instituted marriage for Adam but denied that relationship to angels (Matt 22:30). The second part of the verse points to a benefit received from God in spite of lowering.
you crowned: Grk. stephanoō (from stephanos, "crown"), aor., originally meant "to put round in a circle," then bestow a wreath in recognition of exceptional merit, and fig. to confer glory upon, decorate, or honor. In Hellenistic culture a wreath might be conferred on a corpse, a tomb, a newly wed couple, one going to sacrifice at a temple, and a victor in athletic games (LSJ). In the LXX stephanoō translates Heb. atar (SH-5849), to surround or encircle (1Sam 23:26), then to bestow benevolence and favor (Ps 5:12; 8:5; 65:11; 103:4), and finally of the act of royal coronation (Song 3:11; Isa 23:8) (BDB 742). him: Grk. autos. Again, the antecedent for the pronoun is "man/son of man" in the previous verse.
with 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 state. 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).
and: Grk. kai, conj. honor: Grk. timē, high level of respect for special merit or quality; honor, esteem, regard, worth. In the context of Psalm 8 the affirmation that ADONAI crowned "him" with glory and honor can apply to both Adam and David. God made a covenant with Adam (Hos 6:7) and gave him dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26) and responsibility for the security of the garden (2:15). He was given the honor of naming all the animals (Gen 2:20). After the sin and curse God gave Adam the rulership of his home (Gen 3:16). As for David he received glory and honor when he was exalted from being a shepherd to being crowned king of Israel.
8 all things you have put in subjection under his feet." For in the subjecting all things to him, he left nothing to him not subject to rule. But, now, not yet do we see all things having been subjected to him.
Source: Psalm 8:6
MT: "You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet."
LXX: "And you placed him over the works of your hands; All things you submitted underneath his feet." (ABP)
all things: neut. pl. Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. The adjective is repeated three times in the verse. you have put in subjection: Grk. hupotassō, aor. (for Heb. mashal, SH-4910, "to rule, have dominion, reign"), to be in compliance with requirements of order; to subordinate oneself to higher authority; to be in subjection to. Hupotassō, from tassō, originated as a military term where a rank structure is clearly defined (DNTT 1:476). The verb occurs three times in the verse. Such verbal redundancy is a typical feature of the Hebrew narrative in the Tanakh. Biblical submission does not denote slavery, subservience or inferiority. Submission pertains to recognizing the positions and function of authority God has ordained in the world.
under: Grk. hupokatō, adv., indicating 'at a lower level than;' under, underneath, beneath. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The NIV and NRSV inexplicably translate the singular noun as plural "their." feet: pl. of Grk. ho pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. The noun is used here figuratively of authority. The idiomatic expression "under his feet" occurs elsewhere only in Paul's letters (1Cor 15:25, 27; Eph 1:22). The imagery of "put in subjection" is inspired by the dominion mandate given to the first Adam (Gen 1:26, 28; 9:2; Jas 3:7). God did not intend for angels to have dominion, but assigned Adam the responsibility of managing the earth and all its resources, both living and non-living. Such dominion was to be under God as a stewardship, caring for the earth and its creatures, and developing and utilizing, as well as preserving, the earth's resources for the good of mankind (DSB 7).
Unfortunately God's intention was not fulfilled because of the sin of the first Adam (Ps 142:2-3; Rom 5:12, 8:20–21). However, Paul asserts that the second Adam will do what the first Adam could not, so God gave the Second Adam dominion over all things that exist. Moreover, the dominion of the Son will last forever (Heb 1:8; Rev 1:5-6). The "all things" subject to the Son include the heavens and the earth with its constituent physical processes (Col 1:15-16), all human authority (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16), his enemies (1Cor 15:25; Heb 1:13), the strongholds of Satan (Luke 10:17; Eph 6:10-13; Col 2:15), and last but not least the commonwealth of Israel, the congregation of Yeshua's disciples (Eph 1:22; Col 1:18).
For: Grk. gar, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position within, and may be translated "among, at, by, in, into, on, within." the: Grk. ho, definite article. subjecting: Grk. hupotassō, aor. inf. The infinitive is a verbal noun, which may express purpose, result, time (as a temporal expression), cause or command. Here the infinitive expresses purpose, "the intention or plan to subject," since the third part of the verse qualifies the extent of the subjection. all things: neut. pl. Grk. ho pas. The second mention of "all things" include the list in the previous paragraph. to him: Grk. autos. See the Textual Note below. he left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor., to send away, leave alone, permit. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. to him: Grk. autos. not subject to rule: Grk. anupotaktos, not in a state of subjection; outside authority, unsubjected.
But: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. do we see: Grk. horaō, pres., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. all things: neut. pl. Grk. ho pas. having been subjected: Grk. hupotassō, pl. perf. pass. part. to him: Grk. autos. Paul observes that God's great purpose and plan that all things would be subject to the reign of the Son has yet to be finalized. Noteworthy is that in this context Paul does not specifically include the "kingdom of God" in the "all things" as he does in 1Corinthians 15:24-28.
The hope that God would establish His reign as King over all the earth, with sin and death banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Ps 22:28; 29:10; 93-99; 103:19; 145:10-13; Isa 34:23; 52:7; Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27; Micah 4:7; Obad 1:21; and Zech 14:9). Ancient Jewish prayer liturgy include the phrase that "God may establish His Kingdom speedily." It was even laid down by the Sages that no benediction would be effective without reference to the Kingdom (Ber. 12a). In the covenant with Israel God expressed His will for a kingdom, "you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). Then, God promised David that his offspring would be given an eternal kingdom (2Sam 7:12-13).
Yeshua announced that the Kingdom had arrived in his person (Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11). The Kingdom of God in the present age is the reign of God in human hearts (Luke 17:21), as Yeshua told Pilate "My Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). Yet, Yeshua also spoke of the kingdom to come in his Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:14; 25:1; Luke 21:31) and during the last supper (Mark 14:25). Paul confirmed the duality of Yeshua's kingdom, as being "already but not yet," a description coined by George Eldon Ladd (22-25). Ladd argued that the kingdom of God is God's authority and right to rule and the realm in which God exercises his authority. Thus, the kingdom may be entered in the present but the fullness of God's reign will be experienced in the future.
Textual Note: All things to him
Metzger comments that although the preponderant weight of external evidence might be thought to support the second use of autos ("him") in the verse, the fact that the earliest Greek witnesses (p46 and Vaticanus), with support from several early versions, lack thef word led the NA/UBS committee to have some doubt as to whether the second use of autos belongs to the text (594). Therefore it is printed with the word within square brackets and given a "C" rating, which means a considerable degree of doubt. The pronoun could have been added to preserve the triple redundancy of the verse.
Humbling of Yeshua, 2:9-13
9 But we see Yeshua, this one having been lowered a little while alongside of angels, because of the suffering of death he is crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for all.
But: Grk. de, conj. we see: Grk. blepō, pres., 1p-pl., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The fourth meaning has application here. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
Paul interprets the words of David in verse 7 to mean not the first Adam but the last Adam (1Cor 15:45). this: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The article refers to the one to whom all things have been subjected in the previous verse, the son of man in verse six above. one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 6 above. having been lowered: Grk. elattoō, perf. pass. part. See verse 7 above. little while: Grk. brachus, adv. See verse 7 above. alongside of: Grk. para, prep. See verse 7 above. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. The "lowering" of the son of man depicts the incarnation, which took place after being announced beforehand by an angel (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:26) and then accompanied in its fulfillment by the praise of angels (Luke 2:13).
Paul eloquently describes the "lowering" of Yeshua in his letter to the congregation in Philippi:
"who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Php 2:6-8 ESV)
because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. With the accusative case of the following noun the preposition conveys the ground or reason for the action (Thayer). the: Grk. ho. suffering: Grk. pathēma may mean (1) experience pain or distress; suffering; or (2) strong feeling or interest; passion. The first meaning applies here. of death: Grk. ho thanatos, death, which may be used of (1) natural death; (2) death as a penalty; and (3) the manner of death. The noun is also used figuratively (1) as a personification; (2) of spiritual death; and (3) of eternal death (BAG). There was the suffering of stigma by virtue of being executed as a criminal (Isa 53:12; Luke 22:37; 24:20). The manner of death, crucifixion (Luke 23:33), was the most barbarous and excruciatingly painful way to die. For a description of crucifixion see my note on Mark 15:13.
Indeed "Messiah crucified" was the central feature of Paul's presentation of the good news (1Cor 1:23). Paul could also intend "death" as a personification (cf. Rom 5:14, 17; 6:9; 9:22; 1Cor 15:26, 55-56). The word picture could be of Death taunting Yeshua throughout his judicial proceedings and the crucifixion (cf. Ps 18:4-6; Luke 22:63-65; 23:35-39; 1Pet 2:23-24). Yeshua fulfilled the Messianic prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. Yet, the expression "suffering of death" points further back than Isaiah to Genesis and the promise given to Chavah ("Eve") of the Seed who would bring redemption, but in doing so the Serpent would "bruise his heel" (Gen 3:15).
God's plan required atoning for sin by a bloody sacrifice, as Paul will later note in this letter (9:22). Actually, the plan of atonement was conceived before the heavens and the earth were even created, as John was informed, "the Lamb was slain from the creation of the world" (Rev 13:8 NIV; cf. 1Pet 1:20). That is, the plan for suffering atonement was made before sin occurred. God knew from the moment He decided to create that the Son would have to suffer to provide the final remedy for sin.
he is crowned: Grk. stephanoō, perf. pass. part. See verse 7 above. The perfect tense denotes completed action in the past with continuing results into the present. A participle is considered a verbal adjective and can substitute as a noun, or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb. So, the participle emphasizes that Yeshua has royal status. with glory: Grk. doxa. See verse 7 above. Bible commentators generally associate being "crowned with glory" with Yeshua being exalted to the right hand of the Father after his ascension (Acts 2:33). However, just as the suffering was planned before creation so the royal status existed then as well. Yeshua referred to this when he said in his high priestly prayer, "And now, You, Father, glorify me with Yourself, the glory that I had with You before the universe existed" (John 17:5 BR).
Considering the perfect tense of "crowned" ("kept on being crowned") and the range of meaning of "glory" there are other ways in which Yeshua was crowned with glory. First, John described the glory of Yeshua as manifesting grace and truth in his incarnation (John 1:14). Second, he received glory by the Father's affirmation at his immersion, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased" (Luke 3:22 NASB). Third, he manifested glory by performance of creation miracles (John 2:11; 11:40). Fourth, Yeshua was glorified in his transfiguration on Mt. Hermon when "His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light" (Matt 17:2 NASB), and Moses and Elijah appeared "in glory" with him (Luke 9:31). Fifth, at Yeshua's grand entry into Jerusalem the crowd gave him a royal welcome and shouted, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of ADONAI! Shalom in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38 TLV).
and: Grk. kai. honor: Grk. timē. See verse 7 above. Honor would be a natural consequence of being crowned with glory and alludes to adoration or gifts of honor bestowed, whether from the angels (Luke 2:13-14), from witnesses of the nativity (Luke 2:16-20; Matt 2:11; Luke 2:25-38), from the public (Matt 22:16; Luke 18:38-39; John 3:2; 19:38), or from disciples (Matt 16:16; Mark 14:33; John 1:48-49; 5:23). At the order of Pilate Roman soldiers honored Yeshua by dressing him in a purple robe, adorning him with a crown (Grk. stephanos) of thorns (John 19:2), and saying "Hail King of the Jews." Pilate added to this honor by having a plague affixed to the cross that read, "Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19). While these acts intended only mockery, they nonetheless revealed the truth.
so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. used to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. by the grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times in the derivative form of charin of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Gen 43:14 (DNTT 2:116). of God: Grk. theos, the God Israel. See verse 4 above.
he might taste: Grk. geuomai, aor. mid. subj., to partake of something by mouth, liquid or solid, and fig. of experiencing or coming to know something. Yeshua likened his anticipated suffering to drinking from a cup (Mark 10:38-39; Luke 22:42), and in the last supper he likened the cup of wine he shared with the apostles to his shed blood that would inaugurate the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). death: Grk. thanatos. Paul affirms that Yeshua did indeed experience physical death, the extinction of life, a cardinal doctrine later denied by the heresy of Docetism in the second century. Important to Paul's point is that Yeshua voluntarily offered up his life (John 10:18; cf. Matt 27:50; Luke 22:42; 23:46; John 19:11, 30) and his death served as a sin offering to provide atonement (2Cor 5:21; cf. Matt 1:21; 1Pet 3:18).
for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the adjective following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. To say that Yeshua tasted death for everyone means that God's sacrificial love benefited the whole world and provided universal atonement (Rom 5:15; 6:10; 2Cor 5:14-15; 1Tim 1:15; 2:6; Heb 10:10). However, universal atonement does not result in universal salvation (1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21).
10 For it was fitting for him, on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things, having brought many sons to Glory, the author of their salvation, to be perfected through sufferings.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. it was fitting: Grk. prepō, impf., be fitting, appropriate. for him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua the Son of God. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. With the accusative case of the following pronoun the preposition conveys the ground or reason for the action (Thayer). whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 5 above. are all things: neut.-pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. The mention of "all things" alludes to the space-time-matter universe and all that is therein. The Son of God is the First Cause of all things as declared in the previous chapter (1:2, 10). Matter did not create itself. All things exist because the God decided to create.
and: Grk. kai, conj. through: Grk. dia. With the genitive case of the following pronoun the preposition conveys instrumentality (Thayer). whom: Grk. hos. are all things: neut.-pl. of Grk. pas. The repetition of "all things" again refers to the material universe. "All things" could also refer to things possessed by man (cf. Php 3:8), all of which comes from God (Deut 8:18; Ps 121:2; 2Cor 9:10; Php 4:19; 1Tim 6:17). All things of the heavens and the earth came into being through the Son, the Divine Logos as affirmed by John, "All things came into being through him, and without him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3 BR). The mechanism for creation was not by a cosmic egg exploding but the Son speaking matter into existence (Gen 1:3; Ps 33:6; 148:5; Heb 11:3).
The phrase di hou ta panta (through whom all things) also occurs in 1Corinthians 8:6 where Paul affirms, "yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom are all things, and we exist through Him" (TLV). In that passage Paul affirms that the Father was the architect for creation and the Son was the general contractor, the builder who made the Father's design a reality.
having brought: Grk. agō, aor. part., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. many: masc.-pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 8 above. sons: pl. of 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. Elsewhere Paul identifies the "sons of God" as followers of Yeshua (Rom 8:14; Gal 3:15), which at the time were mostly Jews. However, here Paul probably means "sons" as Israelites based on the declaration of Deuteronomy 14:1, "You are the sons of ADONAI your God" (BR), and he affirms that the adoption as sons belongs to Israel (Rom 9:4).
to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, lit. "into," here complementing the verb "brought" and denote entry into a relationship. Glory: Grk. doxa. See verse 7 above. Paul notes that Yeshua brought "many," but not "all" sons to glory. The noun "glory" could be used here as a euphemism for God. Yeshua showed the glory of God to the people of Israel by means of the creation miracles he performed. Because of that reflected glory, many in Israel came to believe in him as the Messiah (John 2:11; 17:22).
the author: Grk. archēgos may mean (1) one who enjoys a preeminent position; leader, prince, ruler; (2) one noted for beginning something; originator or founder. The second meaning applies here. The noun occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in reference to Yeshua (also Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 12:2). The noun is translated variously as "author," "pioneer," "founder" and "captain." In the LXX archēgos occurs 23 times and renders four different Heb. words that denote leadership positions and the exercise of power: (1) rôsh (SH-7218), head, chief (Ex 6:14; Num 10:4); (2) nasi (SH-5387), captain, ruler, chief (Num 13:2; 16:2); (3) qatsin (SH-7101), a chief, ruler (Isa 3:6-7); and (4) sar (SH-8269), chief, ruler, captain, prince (Isa 30:4). Delitzsch translates archēgos with Heb. sar for "prince."
of their: pl. of Grk. autos, i.e., "the sons." salvation: Grk. sōtēria. See verse 3 above. Yeshua is the originator of deliverance from both the penalty and power of sin. to be perfected: Grk. teleioō, aor. inf., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, and the focus may be (1) carrying out a task or responsibility; complete; (2) bringing something to a designed conclusion; complete; or (3) bringing to the ultimate point of maturation; complete, to perfect. The third focus is in view here. In the LXX teleioō translates four different Hebrew verbs: (1) Heb. malê (SH-4390), to be full, to fill; used for consecration to priestly service (Ex 29:9); (2) Heb. tamam (SH-8552), to be complete or finished (1Kgs 7:22); (3) Heb. kalah (SH-3615), to be completed, at an end (2Chr 8:16); (4) Heb. asah (SH-6213), to be done (Neh 6:9, 16). The last three verbs are used of completing Temple construction.
through: Grk. dia. sufferings: gen.-pl. of Grk. pathēma. See verse 9 above. Paul presents a word picture that in modern English would be called an oxymoron, a paradox consisting of a combination of two contradictory or opposite words. How can suffering perfect anything? Kaiser provides the answer in pointing out that the perfecting of Yeshua was not in a moral or spiritual sense, since he was sinless (Acts 3:14; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1Pet 2:22; 1Jn 3:5). Nor was the perfecting in a philosophical or abstract sense. Rather, considering the LXX usage of teleioō in the Torah, Yeshua was perfected in the sense that he was made fully adequate for the task for which he had been called by the Father, that of being High Priest (Kaiser 361). As the suffering High Priest Yeshua can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15).
11 For also the One sanctifying and those being sanctified, all from one, because of which reason he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 4 above. 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., Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; 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).
sanctifying: Grk. hagiazō, pres. part. (derived from hagios, "holy"), to set apart into the realm of the sacred with focus on elimination of that which jeopardizes access to God. When used of persons it may mean to consecrate or purify. In the LXX the hagiazō renders Heb. qadash (SH-6942), to be set apart or consecrated. The Hebrew verb is used of (1) places, such as temple and houses; (2) calendar events, such as festivals and Shabbat; (3) persons, such as priests; and (4) objects, such as the sacred bread and vessels (BDB 872). The essence of both the Hebrew and Greek words for "sanctify" when applied to people mean being dedicated, set apart or belonging to God (TWOT 2:786ff). The work of sanctifying persons is a ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1Cor 6:11; 2Th 2:13; 1Pet 1:2).
A participle is considered a verbal adjective and can substitute as a noun, or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb. So, the participle emphasizes that sanctifying derives from the nature of God and the present tense denotes a continuing activity. The majority of Bible versions translate the verb with "sanctifies," and other versions have the equivalent interpretation "makes holy" (CEB, CEV, GW, NOG, NCV, NIV, NET, NLT, OJB). The CJB has "set apart." Stern says he avoided the word "sanctify" in the CJB because it seems archaic and removed from people's reality today (204).
and: Grk. kai, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, used as a demonstrative pronoun. being sanctified: Grk. hagiazō, pl. pres. pass. part. The participle denotes the changed nature resulting from the sanctifying action of the Spirit and the present tense may emphasize the continual process of sanctification in the individual or the continual addition of people to the ranks of the sanctified. The prerequisites for sanctification is to trust in Yeshua, repent of sins and be immersed in water (Acts 2:38; 15:8). Sanctification begins at the moment of the new birth, the salvation referred to in the previous verse. The present tense of the verb here affirms that sanctification is a continuing process.
The progress of sanctification relies on the elimination of anything that would prevent faithfulness (Rom 6:19, 22; 2Cor 7:1; 1Th 4:3; 2Tim 2:21). A certain caveat is in order. No disciple is or ever can be as holy as God, as perfect as the angels or as innocent as Adam and Eve before they sinned. Conversely, sanctification is not as the Pharisees thought, a matter of keeping a long list of picky rules. The Torah has already set forth the good works that characterize the sanctified life (Deut 30:15-16; Rom 8:3-6; Eph 2:10; Col 1:9-10). From God's point of view being sanctified is a commitment to belong wholly to God (Rom 12:1) and to cooperate with the Spirit's work of transformation into the image of God's Son (Rom 8:29).
all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote derivation or separation; lit. "out of, from within" (Thayer). one: Grk. heis, the primary number one. In the Greek text the phrase is "from one are all." Some versions add "Father" to interpret the meaning of "one" (AMP, CSB, EHV, GW, ISV, TLB, NOG, NASB, NLT, NRSV, WE), probably intending a Trinitarian perspective. However, if Paul had meant "Father" he would have said so. He could just as easily meant "one Spirit," an expression he uses in other letters (1Cor 6:17; 12:9, 13; Eph 2:18; 4:4). He never says "one Father." The point is that those being sanctified receive that grace from the same source and under the same conditions.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. With the accusative case of the following pronoun the preposition conveys the ground or reason for the action (Thayer). which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 5 above. reason: Grk. aitia, the basis for something; cause, reason, circumstance. he: i.e., Yeshua. is not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. ashamed: Grk. epaischunomai, pres. mid. (from epi, "on," and aisxunō, "disgrace"), disgraced, like someone "singled out" because they misplaced their confidence or support, thus bringing on a "fitting" shame or humiliation that matches the error of wrongly identifying or aligning with something (HELPS).
to call: Grk. kaleō, pres. inf., may mean (1) to say something aloud; (2) solicit participation; or (3) to identify by name or give a term to. The third meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., those being sanctified. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5).
The noun "brothers" denotes a close relationship. We should note that Yeshua does not call just anyone "brothers," but those being sanctified. To be considered a "brother" of Yeshua is a precious privilege. Moreover, the name denotes a certain similarity of nature (cf. John 17:19). Paul no doubt alludes to the declaration of Yeshua, "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother" (Matt 12:50 NASB). The chief characteristic of the sanctified is they are single minded to do the will of God (cf. Matt 5:8; 7:21; Eph 6:6; Jas 4:8).
12 saying, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you."
Source: Psalm 22:22
MT: "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you."
LXX: "I will describe your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you." (ABP)
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 6 above. Paul then quotes from Psalm 22:22, written by David. Commentators have long debated whether Psalm 22 represents a personal experience of David. Setting that possibility aside David definitely received a divine revelation from the Spirit of the suffering of his promised offspring. The psalm begins with a sense of isolation, describes graphic torture and mocking of adversaries, but ends with a note of victory. The psalm consists of two major divisions: (1) verses 1-21 describes the agonizing suffering with specific correlations to the crucifixion of Yeshua in verses 12-18. (2) verses 22-31 depict the jubilant triumph over death and suffering and it is from that section that Paul quotes.
I will declare: Grk. apangellō, fut., may mean (1) report back in response to a directive; or (2) relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. Luke provided his own translation of the Hebrew text, since the standard LXX text reads diēgeomai, to describe. The subject of the verb is the one who began the psalm saying, "My God;" i.e. the suffering Messiah. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. 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. The reference "your name" is an allusion to the Father.
to my: Grk. egō, personal pronoun of the first person. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See the previous verse. From the point of view in the psalm the brothers are fellow Israelites and as applied to Yeshua would apply to his Jewish followers. in: Grk en, prep. the midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among. of the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. This is the fifth use of the term in Acts for the corporate organization of Yeshua's disciples. In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for a religious body.
In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). Most versions translate the noun as "congregation," but some have "assembly." The KJV translates ekklēsia as "church," which reflects the edict of King James to use the word "church." (See my background note on this subject here.) In the apostolic era the term ekklēsia denoted either the aggregate of Yeshua followers in a specific city or more generally of the entire body of Messiah in the world, whose constituency was mostly Jewish.
I will praise: Grk. humneō, fut., utter in celebratory song, sing in praise of or to. In the LXX humneō translates several different Hebrew verbs that mean to make music, to sing or cry out in joy (DNTT 3:668). In this verse of Psalm 22 humneō translates Heb. halal (SH-1984), to praise. you: Grk. su; i.e., the Father. The closing statement serves as a synonymous parallelism to the sentence "I will declare your name."
13 And again, "I will be trusting on Him." And again, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given me."
Source: Isaiah 8:17-18
MT: "17 And I will wait on Yahweh who hides His face from the house of Jacob and I will hope in Him. 18 Here am I and the sons whom Yahweh has given me. We are for signs and wonders in Israel from Yahweh of Hosts who dwells in Mount Zion." (BHIB)
LXX: "17 And [one] shall say, I will wait for God, who has turned away his face from the house of Jacob, and I will trust in him. 18 Behold I and the children which God has given me: and they shall be [for] signs and wonders in the house of Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in mount Sion." (Brenton)
Paul now quotes from Isaiah 8:17-18, emphasizing a clause from each verse. However, according to Jewish usage the entire context is implied.
And: Grk. kai, conj. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. The adverb introduces another passage of Scripture to affirm a principle about Yeshua. While the quoted words are from Isaiah 8:17, Ellicott notes that they also occur in 2Samuel 22:3 and Isaiah 12:2. I will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 6 above. The significance of the future tense is "I will continue to do what I have already been doing." trusting: Grk. peithō, perf. part., with the root meaning of bringing about a convinced state, to persuade, the perfect tense emphasizes to trust, have confidence or be confident (Thayer). In the LXX of this verse peithō translates Heb. qavah (SH-6960), to wait for, which is the essence of faith. The verbal clause expresses continual confidence and trust.
on: Grk. epi, prep. Almost all versions translate the preposition as "in" (CEB has "on"), but the preposition signifies "upon the ground of." Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here of God. In the days of Ahaz, King of Judah, Isaiah prophesied that Judah would be safe from invasion by Assyria. As proof God would provide a sign to Isaiah in the form of a son, whom he was to name Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz, "swift is booty, speedy is prey" (Isa 8:1-3). The promised son represented deliverance and Isaiah expressed his confidence in God to take care of him. Isaiah's mention of God hiding his face from the house of Jacob in 8:17 provides a link to Psalm 22:1-2 where His face is hidden from the suffering Messiah (Bruce). As Isaiah trusted God, so did Yeshua as he awaited God's vindication.
And: Grk. kai. again: Grk. palin. Paul repeats the phrase "and again," because he wants to make a separate point. Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). The Greek verb translates Heb. hinneh (SH-2009), lo, behold, which often serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something.
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. and: Grk. kai. the: Grk. ho, definite article. children: Grk. paidion, a child with an age range from new-born to pre-adolescent youth; infant, child. In the LXX verse the Greek noun translates Heb. yeled (SH-3206), child, son, boy, youth. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 5 above. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. has given: Grk. didōmi, aor., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity, but may be used to mean bestow, hand over, impart, entrust, yield, put, or sacrifice (BAG). The Greek verb translates Heb. natan (SH-5414), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). me: Grk. egō.
Isaiah had two sons by his wife, the prophetess, and gave both symbolic names to represent divine revelation (Isa 7:3; 8:3). Yeshua was so named for the same kind of purpose (Matt 1:21). In the case of Isaiah his two sons represented the house of Jacob and could be considered "brethren," which meant they were joined with him in the promise of salvation. Paul presents Isaiah as a type of Yeshua the Messiah, who could view his disciples as given to him by God (John 6:39; 17:9, 24; 18:9). Yeshua even addressed his disciples as "children" (John 13:33; 21:5). In Jewish culture a rabbi was regarded as equivalent to a father to his disciples (Heb. talmidim; cf. Baba Metzia 2:13). Moreover, Isaiah had prophesied that Messiah would be called "eternal father" (Isa 9:6).
Victorious Savior, 2:14-18
14 Therefore since the children have shared of blood and flesh, he also likewise partook of the same things, so that through death he might render ineffective the one holding the power of death, that is, the devil,
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." since: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch. because. the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. children: pl. of Grk. paidion. See the previous verse. have shared: Grk. koinōneō, perf., to have a part in or a share of. of blood: Grk. haima, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals, blood. The precious fluid transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells and waste products away from those same cells. In the LXX haima translates Heb. dam (SH-1818), blood of humans or animals with various figurative meanings. and: Grk. kai, conj.
flesh: Grk. sarx, the tissue that covers the skeleton, flesh, with a variety of figurative uses. The noun is used here in the literal sense of what children inherit from parents, but it also includes the figurative meaning of human or mortal nature, with its limitations in contrast to God and supernatural beings. In the LXX sarx translates primarily Heb. basar (SH-1321), flesh with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:21) (DNTT 1:671). The Greek word order of "blood and flesh" (ignored by most Bible versions) is of interest since it occurs elsewhere only in Ephesians 6:12, whereas the reverse "flesh and blood" occurs three times (Matt 16:17; 1Cor 15:50; Gal 1:16). Paul may have mentioned "blood" first because the Torah declares that the life of all flesh is in the blood (Lev 17:11, 14; Deut 12:23).
he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. also: Grk. kai. likewise: Grk. paraplēsiōs, adv., similarly, in like manner, likewise. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. partook: Grk. metechō, aor., have a part in something, here with the focus on sharing human experience; partake of, share in. Of interest is that the verb metechō occurs outside of Hebrews only in 1Corinthians 9:10, 12; 10:17, 21, 30. of the: pl. of Grk. ho. same things: neut. pl. of Grk. autos. Paul speaks of the incarnation that Yeshua was completely human, but also that he shared in every aspect of human experience in a particular cultural setting. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that.
through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. With the accusative case of the following noun the preposition conveys the ground or reason for the action. death: Grk. ho thanatos. See verse 9 above. Unstated is that the death of Yeshua was the result of crucifixion. he might render ineffective: Grk. katargeō, aor. subj., cause to become ineffective or inoperative. The verb conveys the idea of rendering something inert and making it totally without force (HELPS). Most versions translate the verb as "destroy," which may be misleading for this context. the one: Grk. ho, used here as a demonstrative pronoun. holding: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. the: Grk. ho. power: Grk. kratos, quality of being strong; strength or might. HELPS says the noun properly indicates dominion or exerted power.
of death: Grk. ho thanatos. that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 6 above. the: Grk. ho. devil: Grk. diabolos, slanderer, accuser. Diabolos occurs 21 times in the LXX to translate the Heb. word satan, "adversary," mostly of the angelic adversary (13 times in Job alone), but also a wicked human opponent (e.g. 1Kgs 11:14, 23, 25). Diabolos occurs 37 times in the Besekh, primarily in reference to Satan (DNTT 3:468f). The devil (aka "Satan") was created by God in the beginning with all the other angels. Precisely when and how Satan became evil remains a mystery. Hints as to his origin are found in two passages directed initially to the kings of Tyre (Ezek 28:11-17) and Babylon (Isa 14:12-15). These passages indicate that Satan was not created to be an adversary or a deceiver, but his downfall was pride.
Yeshua stated that from the beginning the devil was a liar (in relation to the woman, Gen 3:4) and a murderer (by tempting Cain against Abel, Gen 4:7) (John 8:44). Angels have the power to kill humans (cf. Ex 23:23; 2Sam 24:16; 2Kgs 19:35; Job 1:13-19; 2Chr 32:21; Isa 37:36; Acts 12:23). In the book of Job the power of Satan to kill was only exercised by the permission of God (Job 1:12; 2:6) and then as with Cain was accomplished by tempting human surrogates. Satan is the chief opponent of Yeshua and the good news (Mark 4:15), a tempter (Mark 1:13), the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 1Jn 5:19), and the head of a demonic empire (Mark 3:23-26). Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10), going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Pet 5:8). The devil is wholly committed to the destruction of all that is good and holy.
Yeshua did not destroy death or the devil by his own death. Death is the last enemy and won't be "destroyed" until the resurrection (1Cor 15:26). Rather, Yeshua by his victory over death removed the fear of being separated from God for eternity (cf. Hos 13:4; 1Cor 15:55-57). The devil will finally get his due when he is imprisoned during the millennium (Rev 20:1-2), and afterward thrown into the lake of fire for eternal torment (Rev 20:10).
15 and might release those who all their lifetime were subject to bondage through fear of death.
and: Grk. kai, conj. might release: Grk. apallassō, aor. subj., to remove, release or liberate. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, the other two in narratives written by Luke (Luke 12:58; Acts 19:12). those: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. who: pl. of Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting a spatial and temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. their: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. lifetime: Grk. zaō, pres. inf., be in the state of being physically alive; living. Life only comes from life, and life came originally from God. An infinitive is a verbal noun and the presence of the definite article gives the infinitive the idiomatic character of a substantive (DM 209). Thus, Bible versions translate the infinitive as a noun "lives," "lifelong" or "lifetime."
were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. subject: Grk. enochos, adj., may mean (1) held in or constrained, subject to; or (2) required to give an account, held liable, held accountable for. The first meaning applies here. to bondage: Grk. douleia, in bondage to an owner, slavery. Noteworthy is that douleia occurs elsewhere only in Paul's letters (Rom 8:15, 21; Gal 4:24; and 5:1). through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The first meaning applies here.
of death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 9 above. The fear of death is common to mankind, but it is not to be equated with fear of facing God. Most people are practical atheists and don't necessarily believe in an afterlife. Such fear motivates people to do everything possible to extend life. However, believing there is an afterlife and assurance of eternal life can alleviate fear of dying.
16 For surely not he takes hold of angels, but he takes hold of the seed of Abraham.
For: Grk. gar, conj. surely: Grk. dēpou, adv., doubtless, surely, of course. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. he takes hold of: Grk. epilambanomai, pres. mid., to take or lay hold of, an action sometimes performed with beneficent intent and sometimes with hostile intent, here the former; helps, offers succor. The present tense is used to indicate action in progress, habitual practice, or action at successive intervals. The present tense can also be used to indicate a past event with vividness, an anticipated future event or an action purposed. The KJV translates the verb as "took on the nature" and thus interprets the verb as referring to the incarnation. Commentators in the 18th and 19th century adopted this viewpoint.
However, modern versions translate the verb as "help(s)." Even the NKJV departed from its usual compliance with the KJV to translate the verb as "give aid." The CJB translates the verb as "take hold of" and then adds "to help." Bruce comments that the translation of "concerned" in some versions (EHV, LEB, NET, OJB, TLV, RSV) unduly weakens the verb. The subject of the verb, considering the context beginning in verse 8 above, is Yeshua (verse 9 above), the Son of God in the previous chapter (1:2).
angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. God made the angels with intrinsic supernatural power and they possess none of the physical weaknesses of humans. Angels do not need God's help as humans do. In contrast to humans the spiritual nature of angels is fixed, so God does not offer an atoning deliverance for those who rebelled against Him in the beginning (cf. Job 4:18; Matt 25:41; Rev 12:7-9; 20:10). but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. he takes hold of: Grk. epilambanomai, pres. mid. The same verb is used in Ch. 8:9 where God recalls how He "took hold" of His people Israel by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, which emphasizes the idea of help and deliverance (Bruce).
the seed: Grk. sperma may refer either to the source (e.g. seed, semen) or the product of propagation (e.g., posterity, descendant). In the LXX sperma renders Heb. zera, sowing, seed for crops, semen, posterity, descendants or mankind collectively (SH-2233; BDB 282), first in Genesis 1:11. The singular sperma/zera can have a collective meaning, so most versions translate the noun as "descendants" or "offspring," but some have "seed" (ASV, CJB, KJV, MW, NKJV, OJB, TLV, YLT). Noteworthy is that Paul does not use the word for "children" (e.g., Luke 3:8; John 8:39; Rom 9:7).
of Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham, a personal name. The first Hebrew patriarch, he became the prime example of trusting faithfulness. He was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city. He was known at the beginning as Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was changed subsequently to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). Abraham was living in Haran when God called him to migrate to Canaan, and during his sojourn there God spoke to him and established a covenant with him. For more information on the great patriarch see my web article The Story of Abraham.
In the Besekh sperma occurs 10 times in connection with Abraham (Luke 1:55; John 8:33, 37; Acts 3:25; Rom 9:7; 11:1; 2Cor 11:22; Gal 3:16, 29), generally describing lineage of his biological descendants through Isaac and Jacob. The idiomatic expression is generally not used of Gentiles. Bruce insists the expression refers to the whole family of faith. Paul does say in Galatians 3:29, "And if you are of Messiah, then you are a seed [Grk. sperma] of Abraham, heirs according to promise" (BR). However, Paul does not use sperma here in such a figurative sense. This letter is addressed to Jews, so the "seed" that Yeshua helps must of necessity refer to the offspring of Jacob. The next verse explains the manner of that help.
17 Wherefore he was behooved to be made like his brothers according to all things, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Wherefore: Grk. hothen, adv., a marker of derivation, used here in a causal sense, wherefore, for which reason. he was behooved: Grk. opheilō, impf., to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. to be made like: Grk. homoioō, aor. pass. inf., cause to be like, to become. his: mas.-pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 11 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 4 above. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. Fruchtenbaum suggests that Torah provision for a kinsman-redeemer provides the background for Paul's assertion (37). Under the Torah if a man fell into a state of indebtedness beyond his ability to repay he had to sell himself into slavery and work as a slave for six years (Ex 21:2). Once he became a slave he had two options.
One alternative was to serve the prescribed six years and then be released in the seventh year (Deut 15:1-3, 12, 18). The second option was to have a kinsman-redeemer (Heb. goêl) pay the debt, which could happen anytime during the six years (Lev 25:25-26, 47-50). To qualify for this option the kinsman-redeemer had to meet three requirements: (1) the redeemer had to be a blood relative; (2) the redeemer had to have the price of redemption; and (3) the redeemer had to be willing to pay the price. The role of the kinsman-redeemer was voluntary. The connection between the Torah provision for a kinsman-redeemer and the need for the Son to become a man is the nature of the debt and the price of redemption.
Paul's assertion also contains another level of meaning. The Son, like the Father, has no inherent ethnicity, yet the Son had to be made not only human but fully Jewish to accomplish the redemptive goal. The phrase "his brothers" is used of the half-siblings of Yeshua (Mark 3:31; John 7:3; Acts 1:14), but here the reference has a broader meaning. The Israelites could be considered to be brothers of the Son since God declared Israel to be His son (Ex 4:22-23).
so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 14 above. he might become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 2 above. a merciful: Grk. eleēmōn, adj., full of pity, merciful, compassionate. and: Grk. kai, conj. faithful: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7). Paul mentions these two character qualities that are not specifically given as criteria in the Torah for appointing priests. The Torah criteria were based on clan membership and physical fitness (Ex 28:1; 29:9; Lev 21:17-21).
high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.'
The office of high priest was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. Only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21).
Yeshua did not qualify to be a priest, much less a high priest, by virtue of being born into the tribe of Judah, even though his mother had a blood connection to the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). Paul will go on to explain that the high priesthood of Yeshua is in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6), a more significant order than that of Aaron.
in the things: neut.-pl. of Grk. ho, used here as a demonstrative pronoun. pertaining to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and used primarily in marking a destination or goal with implication of relationship. Here the preposition conveys a close association in the sense of relating to, pertaining to or in reference to. God: Grk. ho theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. This phrase describes the high priest as having a religious calling, that he was devoted wholly to the service of God. Then Paul mentions the greatest responsibility of the high priest, to act as a mediator between the people of Israel and God.
to make atonement for: Grk. hilaskomai, pres. mid. inf., may mean (1) cause to be kindly disposed; or (2) eliminate a hindrance to desirable relationship with God. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX hilaskomai occurs eleven times and translates three different Heb. verbs: (1) nacham (SH-5162), to be sorry, moved to compassion, to console (Ex 32:14); (2) salach (SH-5545), to forgive, or pardon (2Kgs 5:18-2t; 24:4; 2Chr 6:30; Ps 25:11; Lam 3:42; Dan 9:19); and (3) kaphar (SH-3722), atone for, cover, make propitiation (Ps 65:3; 78:38; 79:9).
The action described by hilaskomai is that of "wiping away" as mentioned in the translation of the AMP. The fact that kaphar means to cover has in the past led many commentators to say that sacrifices prescribed by the Torah only covered sin temporarily. Some would say that God did not see the sin because it was covered by the blood. Yet in sacrificial texts (e.g., Lev 1:4), the verb is always used with the sense of cleanse or wipe away. This sense is confirmed by Jeremiah 18:23 which presents the divine action of "blotting out" as a parallelism to providing atonement.
the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. sins: pl. of Grk. 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 Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577). This breadth of application has unfortunately influenced Christian theology among those who espouse the "sinning every day in thought, word and deed" viewpoint.
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 (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior. Indeed, the Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional, a sin of error or inadvertence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29). Nevertheless, atonement was still required. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
of the: Grk. ho. people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives people groups associated with the God of Israel. Paul alludes to the ministry of the high priest on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to present a sin offering for the nation. However, the sin offering on Yom Kippur, only atoned for unintentional sins, those committed accidentally or from simple negligence (Lev 4:2-3; 16:30; 1Tim 1:13; Heb 9:7). In sharp contrast, Yeshua's death not only atoned for unintentional sins, but also intentional sins and capital crimes (Acts 13:38).
18 For in that he himself suffered, having been tested, he is able to help those being tested.
For: Grk. gar, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. suffered: Grk. paschō, perf., to experience something, but often with a negative connotation in association with physical pain or ill treatment; suffer. In the LXX paschō occurs only four times and translates three different Hebrew words: (1) Heb. ra'ah (SH-7200), to see, used of perils and deliverance from them in Esther 9:26; (2) Heb. chamal (SH-2550), to bear, have compassion (Ezek 16:5; Zech 11:5); (3) chalah (SH-2470), to be weak or sick, whether of body or mind (Amos 6:6).
Paul alludes to the statement in verses 9-10 above about the suffering of death endured by Yeshua. The perfect tense of the verb serves to emphasize that though the suffering in the flesh is a thing of the past, yet its effect is permanent, the effect of compassion and understanding that benefits his disciples (Rienecker).
having been tested: Grk. peirazō, aor. part., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; (2) to solicit to sin, tempt; or (3) to inflict hardship or even evils upon one in order to prove character and the steadfastness of faithfulness. The context alone determines which sense is intended (HELPS). The great majority of versions translate the verb as "tempted," but some have "tested" (CJB, HCSB, NABRE, NLT, NRSV, NTE, OJB, TLV, WE). Some versions with "tempted" have marginal notes that say "or tested." Eisenbaum notes that suffering was sometimes interpreted as a test from God (Prov 3:11-12; 2Macc 6:12-16).
In the LXX peirazō occurs 36 times and translates Heb. nasah (SH-5254), to test or try, in the Piel form, which is used for intensive action (DNTT 3:799). The first use is in Genesis 22:1 where God tested Abraham by instructing him to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. A burnt offering signified total consecration and devotion to God. The divine instruction in this instance was a test of Abraham's faithfulness, and the narrative of Abraham's obedience and Isaac carrying the wood is an acted out parable of Yeshua's faithfulness in bearing the cross and becoming a sin offering. The testing of Yeshua was an aspect of being made like his ancestor Isaac.
Some commentators associate the "testing" with the tempting by the devil of Yeshua in the desert (Matt 4:1). Yet, the mention of paschō suggests an association of peirazō with the final days of Yeshua. The testing of Yeshua's resolve was experienced in the belligerent opposition by religious leaders, the lack of prayer support in Gethsemane, the betrayal of a disciple, the denial of another disciple, the unjust trials, the agony of scourging and crucifixion, and the taunts by religious leaders and soldiers during the hours on the cross. No one has ever been through a more difficult test. Through it all Yeshua was faithful to fulfill the will of the Father.
he is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., the quality or state of being capable, often as an exhibition of a singular capability. to help: Grk. boētheō, aor. inf., come to aid of; help or assist someone in need. The verb has emotional content and denotes an appeal to run and meet an urgent need, to give immediate aid (HELPS). those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being tested: Grk. peirazō, pres. pass. part. The distinction between being tempted and being tested may not always be easy to determine. God does test His people. God tested the Israelites in the wilderness to determine their faithfulness in keeping His commandments (Ex 20:20; Deut 8:16).
Indeed all the great Israelite heroes in the Tanakh were tested with hardship and/or adversity in fulfilling God's purposes in their lives (cf. Jdg 2:22; 3:1; Ps 11:5; 17:3; 105:19; Isa 48:10; Jer 20:12; Zech 13:9). Then, in the midst of God's testing the devil will tempt God's people to rebel against God and sin. Paul wrote the Corinthians,
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [or "tested"] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1Cor 10:13).
Fruchtenbaum concludes that Yeshua is not only the Author of salvation, the Sanctifier, and the Satan-Conqueror, but He is also the Sympathizer, able to relate to those who are tempted and tried (58).
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)
ker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
DSB: The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with annotations by Dr. Henry M. Morris.]
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, Annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 1―72: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1973.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Payne: J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. Baker Books, 1973.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2020 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.