Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 29 April 2020; Revised 26 July 2022
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. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. 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 may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: 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.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
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 from Bible Hub Interlinear Bible, 2004-2021, and Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1980.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), 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. See also the Study Questions prepared for personal and group use.
Paul interrupts his comparison of the Son of God to angels with the first of six warnings (3:12-15; 4:11-13; 5:11−6:6; 10:26-39; and 12:25-29). The first warning is against drifting away from Messiah through neglect. Paul was very concerned about the spiritual jeopardy of some of his readers. He knew that the devotion and faithfulness had been eroded in some congregations. He issued these warnings prevent his readers from suffering the judgment of God.
He then demonstrates the superiority of the Son by his original authority over the earth and then his incarnation and humbling, being made lower than angels, whereby he became the author of salvation and a merciful and faithful high priest.
First Warning, 2:1-4
Dominion of Man, 2:5-8
Humbling of the Son, 2:9-13
Victorious Savior, 2:14-18
First Warning, 2:1-4
1 Because of this, it behooves us to abundantly pay attention to the things having been heard, lest we should drift away.
Reference: Proverbs 3:21.
Paul presents the first of six warnings. Because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) agency or instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) purpose or reason; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. 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, perhaps specifically verse 14. In other words, "because of the fact that angels serve those who inherit salvation…."
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 abundantly: Grk. perissōs, adv., extraordinary in number, size or quality; abundantly, exceedingly, greatly, intensely, vehemently. 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. to the things: neut.-pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but functions here as a demonstrative pronoun ("this one, that one").
having been heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. pass. part., to hear aurally, to comprehend what is heard and often to heed what is said. 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. mēpote, adv., a marker cautiously expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily considered undesirable; so that, lest. 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 the word having been spoken by angels became binding, and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment,
Verses 2-4 are one sentence in the Greek text. This verse consists of two clauses representing biblical history which create a condition for answering the question in the next verse. 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.
the word: Grk. ho logos is used primarily for (1) a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech; but also a few times as (2) a figure of speech for the divine person (John 1:1, 14; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 19:13). In the LXX logos first translates Heb. imrah (SH-565), utterance, speech, word, referring to spoken words (Gen 4:23), but then primarily translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), speech or word, and used widely for a message, speech or saying of men (Gen 29:13; 34:18) or of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7) (DNTT 3:1087).
having been spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. pass. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; say, speak. In the Tanakh it is ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) who routinely speaks for God. by: Grk. dia, prep. See the previous verse. Since the following noun is in the genitive case the preposition expresses agency or means. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos means one sent, a messenger, whether human or celestial (BAG). In the LXX angelos translates 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. Considering the previous mention of angels in 1:14 the term is likely used here to mean a celestial messenger. Post-Tanakh Judaism developed an elaborate angelology (Stern 824), primarily the Essenes and Pharisees. The Sadducees did not believe in angels (Acts 23:8). Josephus said that the Essenes in particular preserved the names of the angels (Wars, Book II, 8:7). For a review of the varieties and classes of angels see my article The Host of Heaven.
The noun logos is generally used in the LXX of words spoken by humans or God, but twice the noun is used in regard to angels:
"And it came to pass as the Angel of ADONAI spoke these words [Grk. logos; Heb. dabar] to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept." (Jdg 2:4 BR)
"Bless ADONAI, you angels of His: mighty in strength, performing His word [Grk. logos; Heb. dabar], upon hearing the utterance of His word [Grk. logos; Heb. dabar]." (Ps 103:20 TLV)
became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to become, here in reference to undergoing entrance into a particular state or condition of existence. binding: Grk. bebaios, adj. (from bainō, "to walk"), solid or sure enough to walk on; hence, binding, firm, secure, unshakable, unalterable; fig. absolutely dependable. The term was used in the papyri in a technical sense for a legal guarantee (Rienecker). Paul uses the adjective to allude to the fact that God's instructions have absolute authority and are not subject to change by man. The first clause of this verse asserts that delivering a message or instruction through an angel does not lessen the authority or reliability of the message.
Many Bible commentators interpret the first clause to mean that angels in some sense mediated the giving of the commandments at Mt. Sinai (BibleHub). Such an interpretation clearly violates the hermeneutical principle to "not exceed what is written" (1Cor 4:6). Commentators also cite Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19 as corresponding historical references. See my comment on those passages. However, this verse says something different. Paul alludes to incidents in which an angel delivered a message to a person, whether a revelation or an instruction.
There are over thirty anecdotes in the Bible in which a celestial being spoke a message on behalf of God. In the Tanakh the Angel of ADONAI (Heb. Malak-YHVH) made twelve appearances and delivered a message of revelation with the voice of divine authority and particularly as the one who made the covenant with Israel. The Angel of ADONAI appeared to:
Hagar (Gen 16:9-11; 21:17); Abraham (Gen 22:11, 15); Moses (Ex 3:2); Balaam (Num 22:32, 35); Deborah (Jdg 5:23); Gideon (Jdg 6:12, 20); the sons of Israel (Jdg 2:1-4); the wife of Manoah (Jdg 13:3); Manoah (Jdg 13:13, 15-18, 20-21); Gad (1Chr 21:18); Elijah (1Kgs 19:5, 7; 2Kgs 1:3, 15); and Joshua the High Priest (Zech 3:6-10).
There are seven other people to whom celestial beings appeared in the Tanakh to deliver a message: Lot (Gen 19:15); Jacob (Gen 31:11); Joshua (Josh 5:13-15); Isaiah (Isa 6:2-6); Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:13-17); Daniel (Dan 8:16-26; 9:21-27); and Zechariah (Zech 1:14; 4:5; 5:5; 6:5).
In the apostolic narratives one or more angels spoke to twelve named Israelites and one time to a group: Joseph (Matt 1:20; 2:13, 19); Zechariah (Luke 1:13, 19); Miriam of Nazareth (Luke 1:30, 35); shepherds (Luke 2:10); Peter (Acts 5:18-20); Miriam of Magdala (Mark 16:1, 5-6; John 20:11-13); Miriam, mother of Jacob (Mark 16:1, 5-6); Salome (Mark 16:1, 5-6); John (Acts 5:18-20); Philip (Acts 8:26); Cornelius (Acts 10:3; 11:13); Peter (Acts 12:7-8); and Paul (Acts 27:23-24).
It's worth nothing that the YLT and MJLT translate angelōn in this verse as "messengers." Paul could have used the plural noun to refer to Moses and the Hebrew prophets as a combined group. The term angelos was used by Jews in the first century for a synagogue pulpit minister (Moseley 4) and it is used in Revelation for the seven congregational overseers.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea. The first use applies here. The first use applies here. In the LXX kai translates the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every.
transgression: Grk. parabasis, diversion from a path, a stepping beside; 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"), hearing beside, the 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. punishment: Grk. misthapodosia, rendering of return for performance, a paying back; recompense, retribution. The noun refers here to divine punishment. The second clause could function as a consequence of the first clause, but Eisenbaum says the second clause refers to specific penalties prescribed for sins in the Sinaitic covenant (Ex 20:22−23:33).
Since angels had nothing to do with communicating the Ten Commandments or any other commandment to Israel, how should this verse be interpreted? Adam Clarke suggested this clause as a consequence of the first clause might allude to biblical anecdotes in which angels gave a message to individuals to be obeyed, but the individuals did not follow the instruction and received due punishment as a result.
● Lot's wife (Gen 19:17, 26): When Lot, his wife and daughters were rescued from Sodom, the angels instructed the family not to look back. Unfortunately, Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
● Balaam (Num 22:22, 35; 31:8, 16): When Balaam was hired by Balak to pronounce a curse on Israel an angel warned Balaam to only speak what he was told to speak by God. Eventually, Balaam counseled Balak contrary to God's will in how to cause trouble for Israel and afterwards was executed by the Israelites.
● Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:13-17, 23-24, 29-33): The King of Persia was punished with a severe mental illness for seven "periods of time" because of his arrogance and pride.
Second, taking the second clause as independent of the first clause could allude to the fact that Israel transgressed during the wilderness years by testing ADONAI (Ex 17:2; Num 14:20-22; Deut 6:16), for which they were punished.
● Complaining at Taberah because of adversity and ADONAI sent fire against the complainers (Num 11:1-3; Deut 9:22).
● Grumbling by the mixed multitude and Israelites at Kibroth-hattaavah about lack of meat and subsistence on manna (Num 11:4-9, 13, 34; Deut 9:22; Ps 106:11-15). ADONAI sent a plague from quail.
● Opposition of Aaron & Miriam to Moses taking a second wife (Num 12:1-15). Miriam was afflicted with a skin disease and banished from the camp.
● Negative report of the ten spies (Num 13:1-33) and the people grumbled after hearing the spies (14:1-4; Ps 106:24-26). ADONAI decreed that the disobedient people would not see the promised land (Num 14:21-22).
● Attempting an invasion of Canaan contrary to the will of ADONAI (Num 14:40-45). Israelites were defeated.
● Grumbling after Korah's death (Num 16:41-49). A plague killed 14,700.
● Grumbling en route to Edom about food and water (Num 21:4-6). ADONAI sent fiery serpents and many died.
Third, the second clause could point 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 of commandments was death and the verb "received" also alludes to actual incidents of the recompense being applied. The Torah records anecdotes of either ADONAI or Moses imposing the death penalty against specific individuals:
● Israelites committed idolatry with the golden calf (Ex 32:1-10; Ps 106:19-20). The Levites executed 3,000 people (Ex 32:28).
● The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire and as a result holy fire from the presence of ADONAI killed them (Lev 10:1-2).
● A man disobeyed the fourth commandment and gathered wood on the Sabbath. ADONAI decreed that the man be stoned (Num 15:32-36).
● Korah rebelled against the authority of Moses (Num 16:1-35; Ps 106:16-18). Some 250 men died.
● When people grumbled at Kadesh about lack of water, Moses was instructed to speak to the rock to produce water (Num 20:1-8; Ps 106:32-33). Instead he struck the rock in anger. ADONAI judged Moses and Aaron and decreed they would not go into the promised land (Num 20:9-12).
● Israelites "played the harlot" with Moab at Baal-Peor and bowed down to their gods (Num 25:1-5; Ps 106:28-29). The Levites executed tribal leaders that tolerated the sin and God sent a plague that killed 24,000 (Num 25:9).
The Torah thus established the principle, which Paul refers to as "the 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 having received a beginning, to be declared by the Lord, by those having heard was confirmed to us,
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 [even] 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. having received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. See the previous verse. a 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 early 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).
declared: Grk. laleō, pres. mid. inf. by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. The preposition denotes agency here. the Lord: Grk. ho 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 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." 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, and implies their compliance with what was heard from him. was confirmed: Grk. bebaioō (from bebaios, "firm, secure"), aor. pass., to put beyond doubt, confirm, establish, validate. to us: Grk. hēmeis. The plural pronoun certainly includes the writer of the letter along with his Jewish ministry companions.
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." McKay goes further and asserts that "neither Luke nor the author of Hebrews were eyewitnesses of Yeshua" (49). Eisenbaum, reflecting this viewpoint, says this verse is "evidence for dating Hebrews at least a generation after Jesus" (408).
On the contrary Luke certainly knew Yeshua and was an eyewitness to his ministry. See my commentary on Luke 1:1-2. According to the church fathers Luke was one of the seventy apostles sent out by Yeshua to proclaim the kingdom (Luke 10:1; Hippolytus, On the Seventy Apostles). As for Paul he did not just suddenly materialize in Judea two years after Pentecost. He was a disciple of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and a member of the temple ruling council (Acts 26:9). He lived in Jerusalem, likely a member of the local synagogue of Cilicia (cf. Acts 6:9), not in a protective bubble cut off from the controversies involving Yeshua.
The writer does not say that he had not known Yeshua personally, as Paul certainly knew Yeshua during his active ministry as he previously declared:
"Therefore from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even though we had known [Grk. ginōskō, perf.] Messiah according to the flesh, but now we no longer know Him thus." (2Cor 5:16 BR)
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 by various miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His will.
God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator, owner and ruler of all things (Gen 1:1; John 1:1-3). In the LXX the singular theos translates Hebrew words for God, El (SH-410, over 200 times), Eloah (SH-433, 55 times) and Elohim (SH-430, over 2500 times), as well as the sacred name YHVH (SH-3068, over 300 times) and its abbreviation Yah (SH-3050, over 40 times) (DNTT 2:67-70).
In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Elohim translated by Theos also represents the full triunity of God (Father + Son + Spirit). God is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism. He is particularly the God of the Hebrew patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68). This God may be the God of the Gentiles (Rom 3:29), but only if they accept the revelation that He is the God of Israel and join themselves to Israel. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20).
bearing witness: Grk. sunepimartureō (from sun, "with," and epimartureō, "to bear witness to"), pres. part., to attest together with; to testify or bear witness together with, or to unite in adding testimony. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The phrase "God bearing witness" complements the last clause in the previous verse and declares that not only the chief apostles but God confirmed the salvation and ministry call of Paul. The apostleship of Paul was genuine according to the following proofs.
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) and the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12). Dr. Henry Morris, the preeminent Creation Scientist, offers the helpful distinction between creation miracles ("signs"), which he calls Grade A miracles, that require setting aside the laws of science, and providential miracles, or Grade B, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81f). By definition only God can perform creation miracles.
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 translates 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).
and: Grk. kai. by 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. In the LXX dunamis translates five different Hebrew words, where it generally refers to military forces, first in Genesis 21:22 (DNTT 2:602). Dunamis does appear in various LXX passages to emphasize the power or might of ADONAI to act, especially for the benefit of Israel (e.g., Ex 7:4; Deut 3:24; Josh 4:24; Ps 21:1, 13; 46:1).
Luke used the word dunamis to describe miracles that Paul performed in Ephesus (Acts 19:11). Paul reported that miracles was one of the spiritual gifts manifested in Corinth (1Cor 12:10). Miracles accompanied Paul ministry (Acts 14:3; 15:12; Rom 15:19; Gal 3:5), and he affirmed that the performance of "signs and wonders and miracles" are the mark of apostleship (2Cor 12:12). Perhaps the most wondrous unstated sign was the transformation of a murderous persecutor into the most zealous advocate for Yeshua (cf. Ezek 12:6; 24:24).
Specific signs and wonders and miracles that were reported in Paul's Diaspora journeys include:
● the blinding of the Jewish sorcerer on Cyprus (Acts 13:11).
● the healing of the crippled man in Lystra (Acts 14:10).
● surviving being stoned in Lystra without apparent harm (Acts 14:19-20).
● the deliverance of a slave girl in Philippi from demonic oppression (Acts 16:18).
● the deliverance from prison in Philippi by a miraculous earthquake that unloosed all the chains and doors in the prison (16:25-26).
● the healing of sick people in Ephesus by the application of handkerchiefs or aprons being carried from Paul's skin, as well as deliverances from evil spirits (Acts 19:11-12).
● the healing of Eutychus in Troas after the young man fell out of a third story window (Acts 20:11-12).
● the survival after shipwreck on Malta, including all 276 passengers (Acts 27:33-44)
● the surviving a serpent bite of Paul on the island of Malta (Acts 28:3-6).
● the healing of Publius on the island of Malta from recurrent fever and dysentery, as well as the healing of many others on the island (Acts 28:7-9).
and: Grk. kai. distributions: pl. of Grk. merismos, a dividing or distribution, apportionment. The noun occurs only in this letter (also 4:12). Relevant to the point made here is that Paul used the related verb merizō ("to distribute, bestow, impart") to describe the divine provision of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:3). of the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart by or for God and therefore different; holy, hallowed and when used of God worthy of reverence. 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; here referring to the Holy Spirit. 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 (pneuma ho theos, 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. In the life of Paul the first distribution of the Spirit occurred when he was personally filled with the Spirit in Damascus (Acts 9:17-18; 13:9).
Then, during his ministry "distributions of the Holy Spirit" occurred in Ephesus when Paul encountered "about twelve" men who were disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Acts 19:1-7). Paul proclaimed Yeshua to the men and they were immersed in his name. Then, when Paul laid his hands on them to ordain them to ministry the Holy Spirit came on them, enabling the men to speak languages and to prophesy. Paul also provided valuable instruction on the work of the Holy Spirit to distribute spiritual gifts and ministries to the body of Messiah (Rom 12:3-8; 1Cor 12:4-11).
according to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down" (DM 107), is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The third usage is intended here. His: Grk. autos, masc., 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 in reference to the Holy Spirit.
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 prior assertion that the Spirit distributes spiritual gifts and ministries as He desires (1Cor 11:11; cf. Gal 3:5). By extension the qualifying phrase would apply to all the signs, wonders and miracles that occurred in Paul's Diaspora ministry.
Dominion of Man, 2:5-8
5 For He did not subject to angels the coming world, concerning which we are speaking.
Paul presents another reason for emphasizing the superiority of the Son. For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. Stern suggests the conjunction connects the following statement with 1:14. He did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. subject: Grk. hupotassō (from hupo, "under" and tassō , "arrange, appoint"), aor., to place or rank under, to be in compliance with requirements for order, to subject, so subordinate, to bring into compliance. Hupotassō 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.
to angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. the coming: Grk. ho 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." world: Grk. ho 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. The choice of the noun is a reminder that after the Second Coming the people of God will occupy the new earth and not live in celestial mansions located in outer space (Isa 65:17-22; 66; 2Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1).
In the LXX oikoumenē 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 translate 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).
The CJB, OJB and TLV translate the phrase oikoumenē tēn mellousan as the olam haba, which means "the age [or world] 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 negative statement implies that the present world has been subjected to angels. The idea that angels were given assignments in the present world is based on the LXX translation of Deuteronomy 32:8,
"When the highest nations were divided into parts, as he disseminated the sons of Adam, He set the borders of nations according to the number of the angels of God" (ABP). See the Textual Note below.
Similarly, Lumby says that Jews believed there were 70 nations of the world based the list of nations in Genesis 10, and the mention of 70 nations in Jubilees 44:34. They then inferred from Sirach 17:17 that each nation was under a presiding angel. However, the only mention of an angel in Sirach is 48:21 which refers to the destruction of the Assyrian army by an angel (2Kgs 19:35). Fruchtenbaum asserts that God has never given authority to any angel over the earth (31). Stern notes that according to Genesis (1:26, 28), God put everything on earth in subjection to mankind, not angels (668). The LXX reading of the Deuteronomy passage simply refers to an allocation of angels to the various nations and Sirach does not say that angels were appointed as rulers.
In another sense God did allow in the present age for the world to be subjected to the activities, influence and intervention of angelic powers serving under Satan, the god of this world (Eph 6:12, 16; 2Cor 4:4; 1Jn 5:19). The book of Daniel mentions some explicit angelic assignments, a "prince of Persia" (Dan 10:13, 20) and a "prince of Greece" (Dan 10:20), while Michael is the great prince who stands watch over the people of Israel (Dan 10:21; 12:1). Indeed, all seven archangels minister on behalf of Israel (cf. Tobit 12:15).
The point Paul makes here is that in the next age the earth 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 Satan's angelic organization will not exist. 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 Scripture quotation 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 But a certain one has testified in a certain place, saying, "What is man that You remember him, or a son of man, that You care for him?
Reference: Job 7:17; Psalm 8:4(5); 144:3
MT: "What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him?" (Ps 8:4 BHIB)
LXX: "What is man that you remember him or a son of man that you visit him?" (Ps 8:4 ABP)
But: 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 first meaning applies here and the conjunction introduces a contrast to the assertion in the previous verse.
a certain one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun 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. Many versions translate the pronoun as "someone," which allows ambiguity and implies that the author of Hebrews did not know who wrote the quotation. Given the context the "certain one" is King David, who is certainly to be distinguished above others. The use of the pronoun may suggest an understated tone, implying his readers should know something: "You know there is a certain individual 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." Many versions translate the adverb as "somewhere" but the adverb also means "where" and used of a specific location (Mark 15:47; John 1:39). Some versions have "in a certain place" (AMPC, DRA, KJV, MEV, MJLT, NKJV, NMB, RGT, WESLEY, YLT).
Bible commentators generally deduce from this clause that the author of Hebrews expresses uncertainty over the author and location of the quotation, so Paul, who was very knowledgeable of Scripture sources, could not have written Hebrews. Of course, this doubt should extend to any of the proposed authors. Paul normally does not identify the author in quoting Scripture, but over thirty times simply says "it is written" (e.g., Acts 15:15; 23:5; Rom 1:17; 1Cor 1:19; 2Cor 8:15; Gal 3:10). Mounce points out that the adverb pou simply means "in a certain place." It is not as ambiguous as the English translation of "somewhere."
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 translates 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 the LXX of Psalm 8:4-6, verses 5-7 in Jewish versions. The first part of the posed question in this verse may also be found in Job 7:17 (by the patriarch Job) and the full question is also found in Psalm 144:3 (by David).
Psalm 8 appears in Book I of the Psalms (1−41) and bears the superscription "For the music director upon the Gittite lyre; a psalm of David" (TLV), which is labeled as verse 1 in Jewish versions. 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" (Anderson 100). 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).
Commentators are divided over whether to regard the psalm as Messianic as Payne certainly does (260). Henry Morris applies every line of the quoted text to Yeshua (DSB 1355). Ellicott points out that the Psalm is not directly Messianic,—it relates to man; but it is through the Man Messiah Yeshua that it receives its complete fulfillment for mankind. Lumby also says the Psalm is only Messianic in so far as it implies man's final exaltation through Messiah's incarnation. The psalm applies, in the first instance, and directly, to man; and only in a secondary sense to Yeshua as man.
Of course, Paul had already offered a Messianic interpretation of the psalm to Yeshua in previous letters (1Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22). Paul is the only apostle to make this connection. It is very important to understand the quoted text of the psalm in its original setting and wait for Paul's application of two points in the psalm to Yeshua in verse 8b-9 below. The thought-provoking question Paul quotes from the psalm occurs in the exact center of the poem and presents a balanced synonymous parallelism (Alter 23).
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 translates three Hebrew words (adam, ish, and enosh), generally of an adult male, husband or mankind (DNTT 2:564).
In the LXX of Psalm 8:4 the word is enosh (SH-582; from anash, SH-605, to be weak), an adult male. The term, which occurs 222 times in the Tanakh, appears primarily in the book of Job and the Psalms (BDB 60). The term may mean an individual man (Job 5:17), a husband (Jer 29:6), a singular collective as a reference to mankind (Deut 32:26), or a plural collective as a reference to men living in a certain location (Gen 19:4). Noteworthy is that enosh is never used of Adam.
Some versions translate the noun as plural with "human beings or humans." David could have intended the singular enosh to be translated "a man" in order to designate an ordinary man (such as himself), but just as likely he meant "mankind," as translated in the NIV, and referring to the human race that descended from the first man.
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 remember: Grk. mimnēskō, 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 subject of the verb is ADONAI whom David addresses in verse 1. In the LXX of this verse mimnēskō translates Heb. zakar (SH-2142), "remember," which when depicting the action of God toward individuals denotes kindness, granting requests, protecting, delivering, etc. (BDB 269). Kidner says the Hebrew verb has a compassionately purposeful ring (84).
him: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. See verse 4 above. The pronoun translates the third person masculine singular suffix of the Hebrew verb. Some versions wrongly translate the singular pronoun as plural "them" (CEB, GNB, MSG, NIV-2011, NLT, NRSV), eight times in this chapter, apparently to satisfy the advocates of gender neutrality and to minimize the use of masculine pronouns. Unfortunately, gender neutral translation provides an unintended accommodation to the trend in contemporary culture to deny the gender identity of male and female based on DNA. Individuals can choose what gender they want to be from a list of 64 categories. (Consult the Internet for the list.)
The question "what is a man" expresses a contrast between the majesty and power of God manifested in the creation of the heavens and the relative littleness of man (Anderson 102). 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 grace extended toward those outside the chosen people. Throughout the Scriptures God's love is directed to the patriarchs and Israel (e.g., Ex 20:6; Deut 4:37; 5:10; 7:7-8; 10:15; 23:5; 33:3; Ps 78:68). There is, however, in the Tanakh a strong implication of God's love for those outside the chosen people. God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him (Gen 22:18).
God said He loves "peoples" (Deut 33:3) and He shows his love for the "alien" [i.e., Gentile] by giving him food and clothing (Deut 10:18). Therefore, God commanded the Israelites to love "the stranger [i.e., Gentile] who resides with you" (Lev 19:34). Then there references in the Psalms to God's lovingkindness toward the whole earth.
"He [ADONAI] loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the love of ADONAI. ... 13 ADONAI looks down from heaven. He observes all humanity. 14 From His dwelling place He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth— 15 He who fashions the hearts of all, who discerns all their deeds." (Ps 33:5, 13-15 TLV)
"Let them praise ADONAI for His mercy and His wonders for the children of men, 9 for He satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness." (Ps 107:8-9 TLV; cf. Ps 147:8; Matt 5:45)
"ADONAI is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 ADONAI is good to all. He has compassion on all His creatures." (Ps 145:8-9 TLV)
Why does God care about the people on planet Earth? Scripture is not noted for answering "why" questions as far as God's actions. Rather, God's nature is revealed by what He has done, especially what He has done through His Son.
or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here. a son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), "son," "son of," which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to identify a 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 idiom of "ben Adam," or "descendant of the first man Adam," is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. The expression hints at the truth Paul proclaimed in his sermon in Athens that God "made from one blood every nation of mankind to dwell upon all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26).
The title "son of man" occurs 107 times in the Tanakh. 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 (one time, Dan 8:17). As used in the psalm the idiom of "son of man" does NOT refer to the supranatural divine being whom Daniel saw (Dan 7:13).
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 written by Asaph:
"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)
The manner of referring to oneself in the third person without formal identification is typical of biblical authors as a mark of humility. 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).
that: Grk. hoti. The conjunction introduces a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb "saying." You care for: 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 (Acts 6:3); (3) look in on, visit (Acts 7:23; Jas 1:27). The first meaning applies here. Thayer notes that the verb in this passage is used Hebraistically, "to look upon in order to help or to benefit," equivalent to "to look after, have a care for, provide for." BDB says that the Hebrew verb in the context of Psalm 8 means "pay attention to, observe with care and practical interest" (823). Again, the subject of the verb is ADONAI.
him: Grk. autos, masc. sing.; i.e., "the son of man," which in context applies to David. The last clause expresses David's own wonder that God should show him favor and provide 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; cf. 1Chr 17:16; 29:14).
7 Him You assigned lower, a little, some, than angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, [and You appointed him over the works of Your hands.]
Reference: Psalm 8:5 (6)
MT: "For you have made him lower, a little, than the angels. You have crowned him with honor and glory. (Ps 8:5 BHIB)
LXX: "You lessened him short of any of the angels, with glory and honor you crowned him; (Ps 8:5 ABP)
The quotation continues into verse 5 of Psalm 8. 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. You assigned lower: Grk. elattoō, aor., 2p-sing., treat with less importance, whether position or status. Rienecker has "to make less or lower, to reduce in rank." 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.
This verb is not the verb used in Genesis of the creation of male and female (Heb. bara; LXX poieō, Gen 1:27). The lowering action was done in conjunction with the creation of man and alludes to the hierarchy God imposed on created beings, as well as and human institutions, including marriage and the home (Gen 3:16).
a little: Grk. brachus, adj., short, brief, or little, and in Greek literature was used of (1) measure; (2) time; (3) quantity, (4) size, or (5) importance. In the LXX of this verse brachus translates Heb. m'at (SH-4592), a little, fewness, a few, often used in a comparative sense. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See the previous verse. The pronoun does not appear in the Hebrew text so the Jewish translators of the LXX added the pronoun to qualify the adjective brachus. What must be determined is the nature of that qualification.
Bruce suggests that brachu tis has a temporal force and a number of Bible versions follow this interpretation with "a little while," "some little time" or "a short time" (e.g., AMP, AMPC, CEB, CEV, CSB, ESV, GNB, TLB, NASU, NET, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV, WE). On the other hand Stern comments that the Hebrew m'at can mean only "a little bit," and the writer adheres to this meaning with brachus. Since the comparison of man to angels has the meaning of rank or status, other versions translate "little" to modify the verb "made lower:" (e.g., ASV, CJB, GW, KJV, MSG, MJLT, MW, NCV, NIV, NOG, NKJV, NTE, OJB, YLT).
than: Grk. para, prep., an emphatic "from," meaning close beside, in the presence of (HELPS), which may denote (1) a point of origin; (2) a close association or proximity; or (3) a motion terminating at rest. Normally with the accusative case of the noun following the preposition denotes position and would mean "alongside, near, or beside." Since the preposition is used here for comparison it carries the meaning of "in contrast to" or "than" (Danker, DM 108; Rienecker).
angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. The Hebrew text has Elohim, which many versions translate as "God" in the psalm text (e.g., ASV, CSB, NASU, NLT, NRSV, RSV), but a few have "a god/gods" (Alter, ERV, MSG, NABRE). However, the description "sons of Elohim" occurs as a reference to angels in Genesis (6:2, 4), and in the book of Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:7), as well as in Enoch (69:4-5; 71:1); Jubilees (22:11); and Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis I, 92. The angels were created before Adam (cf. Job 38:4-7; Ps 104:2-5) and are greater than man in three ways.
First, mankind's sphere of existence was fixed on the earth whereas angels dwell in heaven in the presence of God (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4, 7; Ps 148:3; Ezek 1:22-24; 28:14, 16; Dan 7:10). Second, God made man mortal or subject to death (Gen 2:17), whereas angels were created as immortal beings (cf. Matt 22:30). Third, angels were imbued with "superpowers" not given to man (cf. Ex 14:19; 23:20; Jdg 6:21; 2Sam 24:16-17; 2Kgs 19:35; Ps 78:49; 103:20; Dan 6:22; Rev 5:2; 10:1; 18:21).
The description of being "some little lower than angels" is not intended to be demeaning. The qualification of "some" rebuts the idea of being "a lot lower." McKay rightly points out that Scripture does not say human beings were made a little higher than animals. According to the Genesis narrative God established a hierarchical ladder with God at the very top, celestial beings below Him, then man, and below man the living creatures (Alter 23). Even in third position man has significant benefits that indicate the high value God accords to man, as well as special responsibilities not given to angels and detailed in Psalm 8:6-8.
You crowned: Grk. stephanoō (from stephanos, "crown"), aor., bestow a wreath in recognition of exceptional merit, to crown as victor, 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; 65:11; 103:4), and finally the act of royal coronation (Song 3:11; Isa 23:8) (BDB 742). Again, the subject of the verb is ADONAI.
him: Grk. autos. Again, the antecedent for the pronoun is "man/son of man" in the previous verse. David could have had in mind his own crowning, but the verb is essentially of the crowning of man at his creation. This crowning alludes to Adam bearing the image or likeness of the Creator (Gen 1:26).
with glory: Grk. doxa (from dokeō, "to think, suppose"), opinion, praise, honor, glory. In Greek culture the noun meant opinion or conjecture, especially a favorable opinion about a person by others (Zodhiates). However, Scripture introduced a meaning foreign to common Greek use, that of splendor, majesty, excellence or glorious. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabôd (SH-3519), abundance (of riches, Gen 31:1), honor (dignity of position or reputation, Gen 45:13), glory (honor or reverence due one, esp. God, Isa 42:8) (BDB 458).
Kabôd (from kabed, to be heavy, weighty) is particularly used to refer to the majesty of that which belongs to God, to the Messiah or to angels and God's glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 15:11; 16:7, 10; 24:16-17). Characteristically, kabôd is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). This verse is one of the rare Tanakh passages in which doxa is used of honor accorded to a human being, since it is normally used of honor given to God. God's favorable opinion of the first man as "good" (Gen 1:31) is true glory.
and: Grk. kai, conj. honor: Grk. timē is used to denote monetary value or intrinsic value of a person meriting a high level of respect, here the latter; honor, esteem, regard, worth. In the LXX timē is used almost exclusively to refer to honor of humans and primarily translates Heb. kabôd (Ex 28:2, 40). However, in Psalm 8:5 timē translates Heb. hadar (SH-1926), an ornament, honor, majesty, splendor (BDB 214).
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 responsibility for the garden to cultivate it and to guard it (Gen 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 the lowly occupation of shepherd to being crowned king of Israel.
The quotation continues into the first line of Psalm 8:6, which most versions omit since it does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. See the Textual Note below concerning the following clause.
MT: "You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands." (Ps 8:6 BHIB)
LXX: "and you placed him over the works of your hands." (Ps 8:6 ABP).
and: Grk. kai. You appointed: Grk. kathistēmi, aor., to put into a position of responsibility, to appoint. In the LXX of this verse kathistēmi translates Heb. mashal (SH-4910), to rule, have dominion, reign. Again, the subject of the verb is ADONAI. him: Grk. autos; "man/son of man." over: Grk. epi, prep. the works: pl. of Grk. ho ergon (for Heb. maaseh, SH-4639, deed or work) generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. The Hebrew word is actually singular, but the LXX make it plural to denote the plurality of the earth-related items of creation, both flora (Gen 1:11-12) and fauna (Gen 1:20-25).
of Your: Grk. su, second person pronoun; i.e., God. hands: pl. of Grk. ho cheir (for Heb. yad, SH-3027, hand), the anatomical limb of the hand. The phrase "the works of Your hands" also appears in Hebrews 1:10 as a poetic anthropomorphism of God, which not only denotes a powerful divine activity but also personal involvement. This last clause alludes to the dominion mandate given by God in His covenant with Adam (Gen 1:26, 28) and then Noah (Gen 9:2; cf. Jas 3:7), and their descendants, to exercise management responsibility over the earth, and all its resources.
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 Adam (Rom 5:12, 8:20–21). The sin of Adam has been compounded by the sin of mismanagement of the earth by his descendants (cf. Isa 24:5; Rev 11:18). Instead of caring for the earth, human governments, through wars, greed, and socialistic policies, have devastated forests, scorched lands, and polluted waters and air.
Bible versions are divided over inclusion of the last clause "and appointed him over the works of Your hands," with most versions omitting the clause. The clause is not found in the earliest manuscript, p46 (about A.D. 200) or Vaticanus (4th c.), and a few other manuscripts. The exclusion of the clause in modern versions was based on the belief that the clause was the result of scribal enlargement of the quotation and therefore preferred the shorter reading (Metzger). Bruce believes the author of Hebrews purposely omitted the clause (34). Paul could have considered the line redundant to his quotation of the second line in the verse.
The clause is supported by the great majority of manuscripts, including Sinaiticus (4th c.), Alexandrinus (5th c.), the Vulgate and the Syriac (GNT 750). Moreover, in Judaism when a Bible verse is cited its entire context is implied, if appropriate (Stern 84). The clause is included in these versions: ABP, ASV, AMP, AMPC, DRA, Goodspeed, JUB, KJV, KJ21, LITV, MEV, MJLT, NASU, NKJV, NMB, OJB, Phillips, RV, REV, TPT, Wesley, Weymouth, and YLT.
8 You subjected all things beneath his feet." For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing to him not subjected. But, now, not yet do we see all things having been subjected to him.
Reference: Psalm 8:6b (7b)
MT: "All things You have put under his feet." (Ps 8:6 BHIB)
LXX: "All things you submitted underneath his feet." (Ps 8:6 ABP).
The quotation continues into the remaining line of verse 6 of Psalm 8, which completes a poetic parallelism. You subjected: Grk. hupotassō (from hupo, "under," and tassō, "arrange"), aor., 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). In the LXX of this verse hupotassō translates Heb. mashal (SH-4910), to rule, have dominion, or reign. The second person subject of the verb is ADONAI.
The verb, which occurs three times in the verse, is synonymous with the verb "appointed" in the previous 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. all things: neut. pl. Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. The adjective is repeated three times in the verse. The adjective is synonymous with "the works of Your hand" mentioned in the previous line.
beneath: Grk. hupokatō (from hupo, "under," and katō, "down, below"), adv., indicating 'at a lower level than;' under, underneath, beneath. his: Grk. autos, masc. sing., personal pronoun. See verse 4 above. The personal pronoun alludes to Adam. Some versions again wrongly translate the singular noun as plural "their" (CEB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV). 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. Of interest is that in the Besekh the idiomatic expression "under his feet" occurs elsewhere only in Paul's letters (1Cor 15:25, 27; Eph 1:22).
In the Tanakh the idiom alludes to the divine promise that one claimed ownership of land by walking on it (Gen 13:15, 17; 17:8; 26:3; 28:4; Ex 6:4). The phrase "all things beneath his feet" in the covenant with Adam referred to the flora and fauna of the earth and the earth's resources (Gen 1:28). The idiom also includes the mobility of man to traverse the earth in order to exercise his assigned management. In the covenant with Noah, "the all things" repeated the provision of the covenant with Adam, but added human institutions, such as government (Gen 9:5). God gave significant responsibility to mankind for the earth and all that it contains.
Paul now adds a midrashic commentary on the quoted text in order to apply the psalm to Yeshua. The rest of this verse probably should have been placed in verse 9, which continues the thought. For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction has an explanatory function here. in: Grk. en, prep., with the root meaning of "within," generally used to mark position or place (DM 105); among, at, in, on, within. The preposition properly denotes "in the realm (sphere) of," as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (HELPS).
subjecting: Grk. ho hupotassō, aor. inf. The infinitive is a verbal noun, which may express purpose, result, time, cause or command. Here the infinitive expresses result, 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" still has the focus on things pertaining to the earth. to him: Grk. autos, masc. sing.; i.e., Adam or Yeshua. Paul engages in a play on words since he had said in the previous chapter that the Son of God is the heir of all things (Heb 1:2). Paul had previously in two letters applied this line in the psalm to Yeshua (1Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22).
He left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor., to send away, leave alone, permit. The subject of the verb is ADONAI (Ps 8:1). 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, masc. sing.; i.e., Adam, and by extension Yeshua. not subjected: Grk. anupotaktos, not in a state of subjection; outside authority, unsubjected.
Adam was given total authority and total freedom to manage the earth without having to seek permission from God for every decision he might want to make. However, the covenantal expectations could be an example of the leadership principle called "management by exception." In other words, Adam had discretion except where specifically limited by God's revealed laws (Gen 2:16-17). Similarly, the Son of God exercises complete control over all things (Heb 1:3).
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, masc. sing.; i.e., Adam, and by extension mankind.
Paul muses that God's great purpose and plan in the beginning had yet to be fully realized. Adam, as the proto-type Messianic king, had utterly failed. Sin prevented Adam from exercising the management of the earth as God intended (Gen 3:17-19). The depravity of mankind from the beginning has produced idolatry, wars, oppression and degradation of human institutions (Rom 1:20-32). And, as Paul considered his own time, he rightly opined that mankind was not ruling the earth according to God's will. Moreover, we still await the coming of the Son of God to initiate His direct rule of the earth.
Humbling of the Son, 2:9-13
9 But we have seen the One, Yeshua, having been lowered a little, some, in contrast to angels, having been crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for all.
Paul now applies the quotation from Psalm 8 to Yeshua. But: Grk. de, conj. we have seen: 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. Bible versions generally apply the fourth meaning with the present tense translation of "we see," which the Amplified Version makes explicit with "we are able to see." However, the present tense can be used to indicate a past event with vividness ("the historical present," DM 185), so Paul more likely meant "we have seen," emphasizing his personal experience of the Galilean teacher (2Cor 5:16) and the glorified Nazarene (Acts 22:8).
the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for the sacred name of God (e.g., Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; Acts 17:24; 19:4; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). It would have been natural for Paul, an observant Pharisee, to add the praise declaration "Blessed be He" or "Blessed is He," which was added to utterance of names of God in the second century B.C. (Jubilees 25:22; 26:24; 31:17, 20; 1Enoch 39:10; 61:11). Its usage occurs in other Pauline passages (2Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3).
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?
having been lowered: Grk. elattoō, perf. pass. part. See verse 7 above. The verb alludes to the incarnation, lowering from heaven to earth. a little: Grk. brachus, adv. See verse 7 above. The adjective must denote the nature of status as "man" in verse 7 above. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 6 and 7 above. Bible versions are divided in interpreting this clause as in verse 7 above.
The majority of Bible versions translate brachu tis with a temporal meaning, "a little while," or words to that effect to denote Yeshua's brief time on earth (e.g., CEB, CEV, CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, NASU, NEB, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV, WE). Other versions interpret the phrase as meaning a simple degree in comparison (e.g., ASV, GW, JUB, KJV, MSG, MJLT, MW, NCB, NOG, NKJV, VOICE, WEB, YLT). Since Paul is offering a Messianic interpretation of Psalm 8:5, then the Hebrew meaning must apply to Yeshua as it did to "man" in verse 7 above.
in contrast to: Grk. para, prep. See verse 7 above. The preposition is again used to make a comparison. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 2 above. The "lowering" of the son of man depicts the incarnation from heaven, 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)
having been 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 perfect participle emphasizes that Yeshua's royal status continues from the past into the present.
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; 5:31; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3). Of course, Yeshua's royal status existed from the beginning. 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). and: Grk. kai. honor: Grk. timē. See verse 7 above. Honor would be a natural consequence of being crowned with glory.
Yeshua had received honor 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), and 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.
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 crowning. the suffering: Grk. ho pathēma (from paschō, "to experience feeling," "to suffer"), that which is suffered or endured; a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction. The noun does not occur in the LXX, but it is found in Josephus to describe the suffering caused by the plague of frogs on Egypt (Ant. II, 14:2). Paul uses the noun elsewhere for the sufferings of Yeshua (2Cor 1:5; Php 3:10), as does Peter (1Pet 1:11; 4:13; 5:1).
Even though there is no exact Hebrew equivalent of pathēma, suffering is an important theme in the Tanakh, whether (1) suffering as a consequence of sin (e.g., Deut 28:15-57); (2) the suffering of the innocent, such as in the affliction of Job (Job 1:13-19; 2:7) and the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 3:7); or (3) the vicarious suffering of punishment for the sins of others described in Isaiah 53:4-6. Yeshua experienced many afflictions and torments (mentioned in the next verse), but Paul uses pathēma here of the specific vicarious suffering.
of death: Grk. ho thanatos, death, which may be used of (1) natural death; (2) death as a penalty; (3) the manner of death; (4) fig. of death as a personification; (4) fig. of spiritual death; and (5) fig. of eternal death (BAG). With the definite article the noun refers to death as a penalty, and even the manner of death. In the LXX thanatos translates Heb. maveth (SH-4194), death, which may refer to (1) death as opposed to life (Gen 21:16); (2) death by violence as a penalty (Deut 19:6); (3) the place of death (Ps 6:5; Sheol/Hades); or (4) a personification of Death (Job 28:22).
Yeshua suffered the stigma 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 punishment ever devised by man, because the victim was kept alive for the purpose of intentionally causing him excruciatingly intense and agonizing pain before he finally expired. 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).
Since "suffering" is singular, in contrast to the plural form in the next verse, Paul could also intend "death" as a personification (cf. Rom 5:14, 17; 6:9; 9:22; 1Cor 15:26, 55-56), the demonic figure eventually revealed to John (Rev 1:8; 6:8; 20:13). The word picture could be of Death taunting Yeshua throughout his judicial proceedings and the crucifixion (cf. Ps 18:4-6; 22:1; 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 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 (Heb 9:22). Actually, the plan of atonement was conceived before creation began, 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 of God would have to suffer to provide the final remedy for sin.
so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. used to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. Mark Copeland notes that Paul proceeds to give eight reasons why Yeshua was lowered as compared to angels. In so doing Paul describes significant differences between angels and Yeshua. 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, but 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 (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, but used here fig. of experiencing or coming to know something. In the LXX geuomai translates Heb. ta'am (SH-2938), to taste, used both literally (1Sam 14:24) and fig. (Ps 34:8) (DNTT 2:269). death: Grk. thanatos. Paul affirms that Yeshua did indeed experience physical death, the extinction of life. The idiom of "tasting death" might allude to Yeshua likening his anticipated suffering to drinking from a cup (Mark 10:38-39), and in the last supper he likened the cup of wine he shared with the apostles to his anticipated death (Luke 22:20).
Relevant to this idiom is Paul's instruction for the Lord's Supper in which he says "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1Cor 11:26). Also 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. used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. The preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect here; 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 (cf. John 1:29; 3:16; 4:42; 6:51; Rom 5:15, 18; 6:10; 2Cor 5:14-15; Titus 2:11; 1Tim 1:15; 2:4-6; 4:10; Heb 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; 1Pet 3:18; 1Jn 2:2; 4:14; Rev 5:9). However, universal atonement did not result in universal salvation (1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21).
\ The first reason Yeshua was lowered is that he might taste death for all. Angels do not die.
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, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. it was fitting: Grk. prepō, impf., acting appropriately in a particular situation; 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; 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 in John 1:3, "All things came into being through him, and without him nothing came into being that has come into being" (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. McKay likens this quotation as "a sort of Messianic Shema, as the Father is identified as "God" and the Son is identified as "Lord," both being part of the Divine Identity."
having brought: Grk. agō, aor. part., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. many: masc.-pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, whether of quantity ("many") or quality ("much"), here the former. sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to identify 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. The Israelites were originally identified in this familial sense, based on the declaration of "You are the sons of ADONAI your God" (Deut 14:1 BR), and Paul 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; 2Cor 4:6). Just as likely is that "glory" could refer to "the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6), or the result of spiritual transformation in the lives of people, as Paul says elsewhere:
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2Cor 3:18)
\ The second reason Yeshua was lowered was to bring many sons to glory. Angels are not capable of this action.
to perfect: 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 occurs 25 times with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:60). Important to this context is that teleioō occurs 9 times in the Torah to translate Heb. malê (SH-4390), to be full, to fill; a religious term used in connection with ordaining and consecrating priests for service (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Lev 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Num 3:3).
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 translates four different Heb. words that denote leadership positions and the exercise of power: (1) rôsh, head, chief (Ex 6:14); (2) nasi, captain, ruler, chief (Num 13:2); (3) qatsin, a chief, ruler (Isa 3:6-7); and (4) sar, chief, ruler, captain, prince (Isa 30:4). Delitzsch translates archēgos here with Heb. sar.
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. through: Grk. dia. sufferings: pl. of Grk. pathēma. See the previous verse. The use of the plural form is important due to the varied nature of the sufferings experienced by Yeshua. See a complete list of Yeshua's sufferings as prophesied in Scripture here. 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?
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). Rather, Yeshua was perfected in the sense that he was made fully adequate to perform the task for which he had been called by the Father (Kaiser 361). The Son could not be the savior by staying in Heaven. He had to take on human flesh and as the Suffering Servant Yeshua became qualified to be the author of salvation.
\ The third reason Yeshua was lowered was to be perfected through sufferings. The angels that remained with God do not suffer.
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 and circumlocution for the sacred name of God. See verse 9 above. 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 translates 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). 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.
Most Bible versions translate the verb with "sanctifies," but some 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). In any event, the work of sanctifying persons is a ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1Cor 6:11; 2Th 2:13).
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.
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). The spiritual transformation occurs as the Spirit cleanses the heart of the sinful inclination (Ezek 36:25-27; Acts 15:9; Heb 9:14; 10:14-16). In other words, the Spirit initiates an internal regeneration and reformation that removes opposition to complete obedience to God.
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).
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 apply a Trinitarian meaning to "one" (AMP, CSB, DLNT, EHV, GW, ISV, TLB, NOG, NASU, NLT, NRSV, WE), since the One sanctifying is the Holy Spirit and the following clause refers to Yeshua. The interpretation of "One" as "one Father" could be justified as a Hebraism for "God" based on its usage in two passages (Mal 2:10; John 8:41). 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 verbal action that follows. 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). This statement alludes to the fact that Yeshua's enemies tried to malign him because he associated with sinners (Matt 9:10-11; 11:19).
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 translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18).
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 NASU). 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."
Reference: Psalm 22:22
MT: "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you." (Ps 22:22 BHIB)
LXX: "I will describe your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you." (Ps 22:22 ABP)
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 6 above. Paul then quotes from two passages to support the declaration he made in the previous verse. The first quotation is from Psalm 22:22, written by David. Commentators have long debated whether Psalm 22 represents a personal experience of David. The suffering depicted in the psalm could reflect the emotional impact of having been anointed for royal service and then being constantly under a threat of death from King Saul. Setting aside his personal experience David definitely received a divine revelation from the Spirit of the suffering of his promised offspring.
Psalm 22 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.
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 who resurrected the Son after his death. 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 fulfilled by Yeshua would apply to his post-resurrection appearances (Luke 24:36-48; Acts 1:3; 1Cor 15:4-7).
The second clause presents a poetic parallelism. in: Grk en, prep. the midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among. In the LXX mesos translates Heb. tavek (SH-8432), midst, middle, among. of the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia, a gathering of people meeting for matters of common interest; assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. 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 gathering, particularly of Yeshua's followers.
In the LXX ekklēsia translates Heb. qahal (SH-6951), 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) (DNTT 1:292).
Most versions translate the noun as "congregation," but some have "assembly" (CEB, NASU, NIV, NKJV). The KJV translates ekklēsia with "church" in accordance with the edict of King James. (See my background note on this subject here.) The psalm context makes qahal a gathering of Israelites. 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 at this time was mostly Jewish.
The phrase "in the midst of the congregation" does not refer to a church service, but was fulfilled when Yeshua appeared to his apostles who had gathered in the upper room:
"He Himself stood in their midst [Grk. mesos] and said to them, "Peace be to you" (Luke 24:36).
"Therefore it being evening, that day, the first day of the week, and the doors having been shut where the disciples were because of fear of the Judean authorities, Yeshua came and stood in the midst [Grk. mesos], and said to them, "Peace to you." (John 20:19 BR)
"And after eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Yeshua came, the doors having been shut, and stood in the midst [Grk. mesos], and said, "Peace to you." (John 20:26 BR)
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."
Reference: Isaiah 8:17-18
MT: "And I will wait on ADONAI who hides His face from the house of Jacob and I will hope in Him." (Isa 8:17 BHIB/BR)
LXX: "And [one] shall say, I shall wait for God, the one turning his face from the house of Jacob, and I will be yielding upon him." (Isa 8:17 ABP)
Paul now quotes from Isaiah 8:17-18 and treats the passage as Messianic, emphasizing a clause from each verse, though they are separately introduced because they serve to bring out two distinct points.
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 first quotation is from Isaiah 8:17, Ellicott notes that the words also occur in 2Samuel 22:3 and Isaiah 12:2. Wolkenfeld points out that the context of Isaiah 8 is the spiritual failure of King Ahaz (735-715 BC), recorded in 2Kings 16 and 2Chronicles 28. According to Jewish tradition Jeremiah was the author of Kings and Ezra was the author of Chronicles.
Ahaz (Heb. Achatz, "he has grasped") was the son and successor of Jotham as king of Judah and the father of Hezekiah (HBD). The Bible characterizes Ahaz as an evil man who promoted Baal idolatry and child sacrifice. His sixteen-year reign was contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Micah. Isaiah gave counsel and warning to Ahaz when Rezin, King of Aram (Syria), and Pekah, King of Israel, joined forces to attack Jerusalem (Isa 7:1-25). Within that counsel was the Messianic prophecy of Immanuel who would be born to a virgin.
Ahaz ignored Isaiah's warning and appealed for help to Tiglath-pileser III, the founder of the Assyrian empire (2Kgs 16:7). That appeal resulted in Assyrian destruction in Judah in spite of paying tribute (2Chr 28:20-21; Isa 8:7-9). Ahaz suffered the final humiliation of not being buried in the royal tombs (2Chr 28:15). The following words of Isaiah were his testimony in response to God's message to the prophet, exhorting him not to walk in the way of the people.
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, to look for, hope, expect. The verbal clause expresses continual confidence and trust while being faithful.
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 midst of the oppression of Assyria God promised Isaiah a son, whom he was to name Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz, "swift is booty, speedy is prey" (Isa 8:1-3). So, Isaiah married a prophetess who bore a son and by the word of ADONAI Isaiah gave the boy this name. The promised son represented God doing justice for Judah by Assyrian punishment of Syria. In these words Isaiah expressed his confidence in God to take care of him.
In the first clause, Isaiah declares his confidence in waiting for ADONAI. Paul treats this statement as the voice of the Messiah uttering his trust in God, which thereby illustrates His sonship and brotherhood with man. Like all men He is dependent on God.
And: Grk. kai. again: Grk. palin. Paul repeats the phrase "and again," because he wants to make a separate point. Paul then quotes from Isaiah 8:18.
MT: "Here am I and the sons whom ADONAI has given me. We are for signs and wonders in Israel from ADONAI of Hosts who dwells in Mount Zion." (Isa 8:18 BHIB/BR)
LXX: "Behold I and the children which God gave to me: even they shall be for signs and miracles in the house of Israel by the LORD of Hosts who dwells in mount Zion." (Isa 8:18 ABP)
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 children: pl. of Grk. ho 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, Shear-Yashub (Isa 7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz (Isa 8:3), both of which were symbolic names to represent divine revelation. 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.
In the second clause, Isaiah declares his confidence that the two sons committed to his care were given to him as signs and wonders of God's sovereign plan for Israel. Similarly Yeshua the Messiah 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 of flesh, he also likewise partook of the same things, so that through death he might render powerless 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 children: pl. of Grk. ho paidion. See the previous verse. The plural noun alludes to the sons of Isaiah. have shared: Grk. koinōneō, perf., to have a part in or a share of something. In the LXX koinōneō translates Heb. chabar (SH-2266), (1) be allied with or united to; or (2) be joined together; first in 2Chronicles 20:35-37. The Greek and Hebrew verbs have a relational quality, but Paul adds the aspect of physical sharing.
of blood: Grk. haima, the precious fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals; blood. In the LXX haima translates Heb. dam (SH-1818), blood of humans or animals with various figurative meanings (first in Gen 4:10). The expression "shared of blood" refers to sharing the same parents in a biological and genetic sense. Bible genealogies generally trace the blood lineage of fathers to sons (e.g. Genesis 5, 10; Matthew 1).
and: Grk. kai, conj. of flesh: Grk. sarx, the tissue that covers the skeleton, flesh, with a variety of figurative uses. In the LXX sarx translates primarily Heb. basar (SH-1321), flesh with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:21) (DNTT 1:671). The expression "shared of flesh" is used here in the literal sense of the physical attributes children inherit from their parents.
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 same things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho 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 the idea of substitutionary death. he might render powerless: Grk. katargeō (from kata, "down to a point," and argeō, "to be idle or inactive"), aor. subj., cause to cease activity, to become ineffective or inoperative, to put out of use, totally without force (HELPS). The Amplified Versions has "make powerless (ineffective, impotent)."
Most versions translate the verb as "destroy," which may be misleading for this context. John states the aim of Yeshua's incarnation more strongly, "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy [Grk. luō] the works of the devil" (1Jn 3:8). The verb Paul uses illustrates the principle stated by the great military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz: "The aim of all action in War is to disarm the enemy" (104). The CJB has "render ineffective" and TLV has "break the power."
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 power: Grk. ho 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 devil: Grk. ho diabolos, slanderer, accuser.
In the LXX diabolos translates Heb. satan (SH-7854), "adversary," mostly of the angelic adversary (13 times in Job alone), but also a wicked human opponent (e.g. 1Kgs 11:14, 23, 25). In the Besekh diabolos occurs 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). 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 the devil or death by his own death. 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). Death is the last enemy and won't be "destroyed" until the resurrection (1Cor 15:26). Rather, even though Satan worked to orchestrate Yeshua's death, he was powerless to prevent Yeshua's resurrection.
\ The fourth reason Yeshua was lowered was to end the devil's power to inflict death. God's angels cannot exercise authority over Satan.
15 and might release those who through fear of death were subject to bondage all their lifetime.
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 Luke's narratives (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. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the negative emotion of fear, terror, or alarm; (2) the object or cause of fear; or (3) reverence, respect. 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. Yeshua by his victory over death removed the fear of being separated from God for eternity (cf. Hos 13:4; 1Cor 15:55-57). 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). 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."
\ The fifth reason Yeshua was lowered was to release those subject to bondage through fear of death. God's angels are not capable of this action.
16 For surely he does not take hold of angels, but he takes hold of the seed of Abraham.
Reference: Isaiah 41:8-9.
For: Grk. gar, conj. surely: Grk. dēpou, adv., doubtless, surely, of course. he does not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. take hold of: Grk. epilambanomai (from epi, "upon," and lambanō, "to take"), 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, lay hold of, take hold of or seize. The verb emphasizes showing personal initiative and focused resolve (HELPS). In the LXX epilambanō occurs 32 times and primarily translates Heb. chazaq (SH-2388), be strong, take or keep hold of, seize, grasp (Deut 25:12), 14 times.
Relevant to the assertion here are two passages in the Tanakh with this verb. Paul uses the same verb in Chapter 8:9, quoting Jeremiah 31:32, where God recalls how He "took hold" (Heb. chazaq) of His people Israel by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, which emphasizes the idea of strong deliverance. Another important passage in which epilambanō occurs depicts the salvation of Gentiles by association with the Jewish people:
"ADONAI-Tzva’ot says, "When that time comes, ten men will take hold (Heb. chazaq) — speaking all the languages of the nations — will grab hold (Heb. chazaq) of the cloak of a Jew and say, "We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."" (Zech 8:23 CJB)
The verb is present tense, which is normally used to indicate action in progress or habitual practice. The present tense can also be used to indicate a past event with vividness ("historical present"), an anticipated future event or an action purposed. The majority of versions translate the verb as action in progress (e.g., "helps," ESV, GNB, NCV, NIV), but some translate the verb as an action purposed ("to help," CSB, CJB, NKJV, NLT, NRSV). In my view the translation of "helps" weakens Paul's intent of the verb, which emphasizes strength and forceful action.
Some versions translate the verb as an attitude ("concerned," EHV, LEB, NET, OJB, RSV, TLV), rather than an action. Bruce comments that the translation of "concerned" unduly weakens the verb. A few versions translate the verb as a historical present, "took on the nature" (BRG, JUB, KJV, RGT), and thus interprets the verb as referring to the incarnation. Commentators in the 18th and 19th century adopted this viewpoint.
A few versions translate the verb as "take(s) hold of" (AMP, AMPC, CJB, DARBY, DLNT, DRA, MJLT, MW, YLT). The subject of the verb, considering the context beginning in verse 8 above, is Yeshua (verse 9 above). The verb surely extends the imagery of the previous verse so that Yeshua by his own suffering and death provided deliverance to those subject to the bondage of fear.
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 present tense could denote current activity, but the historical present translation has strong merit. 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 translates 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). The noun emphasizes a biological relation.
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. Indeed Yeshua declared that he came to provide salvation to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:6; 15:24). The next verse explains the manner of that deliverance.
\ The sixth reason Yeshua was lowered was to provide deliverance to the seed of Abraham, i.e., Israel. Angels do not receive this kind of help from God.
17 Wherefore he was obligated 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.
Reference: Isaiah 53:11-12.
Wherefore: Grk. hothen, adv., a marker of derivation, used here in a causal sense, wherefore, for which reason. he was obligated: Grk. opheilō, impf., to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. Originally the verb belonged to the legal sphere; it expressed initially one's legal and economic, and then later one's moral duties and responsibilities to men (DNTT 2:666). Many versions simplify translation with "he had to." Mounce translates the verb here as "he was obligated." The Son's sense of what he ought to do originated from love and the nature of the redemptive mission to be accomplished.
to be made like: Grk. homoioō (from homoios, "like, similar"), aor. pass. inf., cause to be like, to become, make like. his brothers: pl. of Grk. ho 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. All 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 (from eleos, "mercy"), adj., full of pity, merciful, compassionate. In the LXX eleēmōn occurs 19 times and translates five different Hebrew words, thirteen of which are for Heb. channun (SH-2587), gracious, used only as an attribute of God (BDB 337; Ex 22:27; 34:6; 2Chr 30:9; Neh 9:17, 31; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2). Two other uses also represent an attribute of God (Deut 4:31; Jer 3:12).
and: Grk. kai, conj. faithful: Grk. pistos (from peithō, "persuaded"), 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 translates 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 20 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; 13:28; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 4; Zech 3:1, 8; 6:11), 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 rank of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6; cf. TB Nedarim 32b), a more significant status than that of Aaron. While Yeshua's mediatorial ministry is mentioned elsewhere (Rom 8:34; 1Tim 2:5), only in Hebrews is Yeshua called "high priest" (also 3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1; 9:11).
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 sins: pl. of Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In 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 people: Grk. ho 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).
\ The seventh reason Yeshua was lowered in contrast to angels was to be a merciful and faithful High Priest.
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 majority of versions translate the verb as "tempted," but some have "tested" (AMPC, CJB, HCSB, NABRE, NEB, NLT, NJB, NRSV, NTE, OJB, TLV, VOICE, 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 15:25; 16:4; 20:20; Deut 8:2, 16; 13:3). He repeated this testing in the time of the judges (Jdg 2:22; 3:1, 4). Indeed various Israelite leaders in the Tanakh were tested with hardship and/or adversity in fulfilling God's purposes in their lives (cf. Jdg 7:4; Ps 11:5; 17:3; 26:2; 105:19; 2Chr 32:31; Isa 48:10; Jer 17:10; 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).
\ The eighth reason Yeshua was lowered in contrast to angels was to aid those who are tempted, having suffered temptation Himself.
Alter: Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary. W.W. Norton & Co., 2007.
Anderson: A.A. Anderson, Psalms 1-72. The New Century Bible Commentary. Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972.
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.
Boyarin: Daniel Boyarin, "Logos, a Jewish Word: John's Prologue as Midrash," Jewish Annotated New Testament. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Copeland: Mark A. Copeland, Hebrews: A Study Guide. Executable Outlines, 2021. Online.
Danker: 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)
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
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
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), "Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts of the Apostles," (Vol. 4), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Lumby: J. Rawson Lumby, Hebrews, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. 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.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
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, "Hebrews," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Vol. 2. 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 (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
Wolkenfeld: Rabbi Shmuel Wolkenfeld, The Letter to the Messianic Jews. Sabbath Message, 14 March 2020. Or HaOlam Messianic Jewish Congregation. Online.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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