Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 7 May 2022; Revised 27 December 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.
In this chapter Paul interrupts his discussion regarding Yeshua as High Priest to continue with a solemn exhortation for his readers to seek spiritual maturity. He especially warns them of the consequences of spiritual failure, as well as the need for diligence, faithfulness and patience in order to inherit the promises. He then affirms that the heirs of the covenant have a hope that serves as an anchor of the soul. This hope is based on the certainty of God's unchangeable oath and promise to Abraham of a Seed who would bless his descendants and all nations. This Seed, Yeshua, entered the Holy of Holies to provide mediatorial priesthood for his covenant people according to the order of Melchizedek.
Pursuit of Maturity, 6:1-3
Peril of Failure, 6:4-8
Better Things, 6:9-15
The Anchor of the Soul, 6:16-20
Pursuit of Maturity, 6:1-3
1 Therefore leaving the beginning teaching of the Messiah let us go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from works of death and of faith toward God,
Therefore: Grk. dio (from dia, "through," and hos, "which"), inferential conj., therefore, for this reason, on account of which, wherefore. Bruce notes that continuing the line of argument from Chapter Five the verse is introduced with "therefore" and not "nevertheless." The inference "therefore" is used because the immaturity of the readers is such that only an appreciation of what is involved in Messiah's high priesthood will cure it. "Their minds require to be stretched, and this will stretch them as nothing else can." Guthrie notes that the conjunction is followed by a two-fold exhortation, which involves a backward look and a forward look.
leaving: Grk. aphiēmi (apo, "away from" and hiēmi, "send"), pl. aor. pass. part., "to release or let go" with several different literal and figurative meanings, here with the idea of going away from, leaving behind or moving beyond a point. The plural form indicates Paul's readers as the subject. In the LXX aphiēmi translates several verbs to convey the classical Greek sense involving motion, especially Heb. yanach (SH-3240), leave, let remain (Jdg 3:1; Ps 17:14), and Heb. azab (SH-5200), depart from leave behind (2Sam 15:16; Jer 49:11) (DNTT 1:698).
While the verb is not in the imperative mood, the normal mood for command, the participle is frequently used for exhortation by Paul. Scholars have long been puzzled over the usage of the participle in hortatory instructions concerning rules of social behavior within the community of faith and in families (in Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians). Davies says that non-biblical Jewish writings used the participle in exactly the same manner, and thus the use of the participle as imperative probably reflects Jewish sources (130f).
With the use of the participle Paul was appealing to the conscience rather than commanding the will. The aorist tense denotes a decisive completed action. A number of versions make the exhortation clear with "let us leave" (CSB, ESV), "let us move beyond" (NIV) or "let us go on" (NRSV). More versions translate the participle simply as "leaving" (CJB, DRA, EHV, HCSB, ISV, JUB, KJV, LEB, NASU, NKJV, NRSV, TLV) to signify it as preparatory to the second exhortation.
the beginning: Grk. ho archē, a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and figuratively refers to what comes first and therefore is foremost in importance (HELPS). As used here the noun has the sense of foundational. In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725), "beginning," first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:164f). A number of versions translate the noun as "elementary" to emphasize that which is basic and fundamental (CSB, ESV, GW, ISV, NOG, NASU, NET, NIV, NKJV, RSV). Rienecker notes that the "leaving" does not mean to despise or abandon and "the beginning" is not a stopping place.
teaching: Grk. ho logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, message or teaching. In the LXX logos 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). In the Besekh logos is a common term used with regards to a person sharing a message or discourse and is a broad term meaning "reasoning expressed by words" (HELPS). A number of versions translate logos here as "teaching" (CSB, GNB, NABRE, NASU, NCB, NCV, NLV, NRSV, NTE, TLV).
of the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos (from chriō, "to anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. Christos is a royal title, not a last name. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to translate Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in the Tanakh Mashiach is used for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). Jewish anticipation of the Messiah was grounded in the future hope expressed by the Hebrew prophets of one who would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and to Israel (Luke 1:32, 68-74; Acts 13:32-34). For more discussion of the Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
The phrase "the beginning … of the Messiah" is in the genitive case. If interpreted as an objective genitive it would mean the "beginning teaching about Messiah." If interpreted as a subjective genitive, it would mean "beginning teaching of Messiah," i.e., what Messiah taught. Bible versions are about evenly divided between these two interpretations. The phrase anticipates the listing of six subjects that were included in the public teaching of Yeshua and essential to the education of disciples in the apostolic era. These subjects were no doubt part of the initial training of disciples conducted by Barnabas and Paul in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:26).
The NEB inappropriately translates the phrase as "the rudiments of Christianity." Yet, Bruce admits how little in the list of six subjects is distinctive of Christianity." Indeed, these subjects belonged to the beliefs of the Pharisee and the Essene. This analysis is particularly true considering how the church fathers engaged in revisionist theology to expunge the Jewish roots of the faith. Some commentators (Barnes, Bengel, Benson, Ellicott, Nicoll, Vincent) view this phrase as synonymous with "the beginning principles of the oracles of God" in 5:12. God in fact spoke to His chosen people about these six subjects.
let us go on: Grk. pherō, pres. mid. subj., 1p-pl., to move from one position to another; to bear, carry (bring) along, especially to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). The middle voice describes the subject as participating in the results of the action. The subjunctive mood is used here for exhortation, and the present tense emphasizes to start and continue. to: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location. With the accusative case of the noun following epi emphasizes motion or direction; to, up to (DM 106).
maturity: Grk. ho teleiotēs (from teleios, "perfect"), quality of completeness, a high point of achievement; maturity, perfection. The term, used elsewhere only by Paul (Col 3:14), here suggests the progress of stages of spiritual growth so that the disciple will be like his Lord (cf. Luke 6:40). In the LXX teleiotēs is rare and translates the Heb. noun tamim (SH-8549), blameless, complete, integrity (Jdg 9:16, 19). Elsewhere the term tamim signifies being bound wholly to God and is used of Noah (Gen 6:9). Ezekiel assessed Job and Daniel as having the same spiritual character as Noah (Ezek 14:14).
Paul does not mean to suggest that spiritual perfection is achieved by self-effort. Complete sanctification is by the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:8-9; Rom 15:16; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 2:13; Heb 10:29; 1Pet 1:2). Going on to maturity requires consecration and submission to God's sanctifying work. The exhortation here anticipates Paul's later command to pursue holiness (Heb 12:14).
not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation related to the exercise of the will; not (DM 265). laying: Grk. kataballō (from kata, "down" and ballō, "to throw or cast"), pl. pres. mid. part., to put in a lower place; lay down, lay. The verb is used here fig. of building construction. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. a foundation: Grk. themelios, a structure serving as a firm base; foundation, foundation stone. The term is often used in regard to a building, a wall or a city. The term is used here fig. of a spiritual principle. Paul uses "foundation" to introduce two actions that are the basis of the Messianic life.
of repentance: Grk. metanoia is a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP). The noun occurs in Josephus to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3).
Since Paul dictated (or wrote) this letter in Hebrew and Luke translated it into Greek, then we should consider that Paul used the Heb. word t’shuvah. As a word for repentance t’shuvah means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God’s will as expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909).
From a Jewish perspective repentance has three important elements: (1) recognition of one's behavior as sinful; (2) imploring pardon with regret and remorse (cf. 2Cor 7:10); and (3) abandonment of sin and performance of deeds that demonstrate repentance (cf. Luke 3:8, 10-14; Acts 26:20). If any of these elements is missing repentance is not considered genuine, but deceitful.
The call to repentance was an essential element in both the message of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 3:2, 8) and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God by Yeshua (Matt 4:17). Yeshua was highly critical of communities where people refused to repent (Matt 11:20-21; 12:41). The expectation of stopping sinful practice in response to God's mercy stems from the anticipation of God's wrath (cf. John 5:14; 8:11; 1Cor 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20).
Repentance was actually a virtue to Pharisees. The daily prayer, Amidah, which dates from the 5th century BC, included repentance in the fifth benediction, which reads in its original Jerusalem form, "Return us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall return. Renew our days as before. Blessed are Thou, Who hast pleasure in repentance" (quoted in Lane 596). This petition is based on Lamentations 5:21, "Bring us back to You, ADONAI, and we will return. Renew our days as of old" (TLV). Rabbinic revision in the 2nd century A.D., reflected in the Babylonian form, emphasizes returning to Torah.
However, the Pharisees placed a limit on the efficacy of repentance based on Amos 2:6: "If a man commits a transgression, the first, second and third time he is forgiven, the fourth time he is not forgiven" (Yoma 86b). Thus, we can understand the shock of disciples when Yeshua exhorted, "If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). There is no limit to God's grace when there is genuine repentance.
The fact that in Scripture a sinner is instructed to cease sinning stands in contrast to the lack of emphasis on repentance in much of Christianity. For modern Christians the critical element for salvation is believing in Yeshua (Acts 16:31; Rom 1:16). Repentance has been minimized by some Christians believing they must sin in thought, word and deed every day and they never stop being a sinner. A man I once counseled who was committing adultery did not see the need to repent because he believed in eternal security. Only consider the words of Paul in Romans 6:1. Those who believe they can sin every day with impunity are self-deceived and in spiritual danger (Ezek 18:24; Heb 10:26-27).
True repentance with its unequivocal turning away from sinful conduct is at the heart of receiving the good news. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from. works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. In the LXX ergon translates Heb. poal (SH-6467), doing, deed or work. of death: Grk. nekros may be used as (1) a noun, corpse, or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, being dead. The second usage applies here. The majority of versions translate nekrōn ergōn as "dead works."
Some Christian commentators view the reference to "dead works" through the interpretative paradigm of Judaism vs. Christianity. Thus, "dead works" might be a synonym of "works of legalism," (ergōn nomou, lit. "works of law"), which Paul criticizes (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:2, 5, 10). Legalism is the compliance with man-made rules and traditions for the sake of assuring obedience to Torah commandments, but which result in an oppressive system and fail to gain the favor of God (cf. Matt 23:4; Luke 18:10-14; Acts 15:10; Rom 6:14-15; 1Tim 1:8).
Gill interprets "repentance from dead works" as the confession of sin that accompanied animal sacrifices for atonement, which Paul will later say cannot take away sin (Heb 10:4). Barnes allows that "dead works" may be related to the forms of religion, where there was no spiritual life. Thus, conversion to the true religion consisted greatly in repentance for having relied on those hollow forms. In contrast the Torah promises life as a result of keeping God's commandments (Lev 18:5; Deut 30:15-16, 19-20; Ps 19:7). Moreover, repentance in Scripture is ALWAYS in regard to sins, not religious works.
Paul was not criticizing Judaism nor traditions that he continued to follow (cf. Acts 18:18; 21:26; 22:3; 24:14, 17-18; 25:8; 27:9; 28:17). Since the two nouns (ergōn nomou) are in the genitive case and Luke's Jewish Greek imitates Hebrew syntax, a better translation is "works of death" (JUB) or "works that lead to death" (CJB). It's important to remember that death is both the effect that sin has on the person (John 8:34; Rom 6:16; 7:10) and the divine punishment that sinful acts deserve (Ezek 3:20; 18:20; Rom 1:32; 6:23).
Bruce comments that the works result in death because they are evil and they belong to "the way of death" (cf. Prov 14:12; 16:25; Jer 21:8), a theme emphasized later in the Didache. The works of death correspond to Paul's lists of sins that cause individuals to be eternally separated from God (Rom 1:18-32; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21). Condemnation results from persistent practice of the prohibited behaviors without repentance. See my article Sins that Separate. Paul will later affirm that the blood of Yeshua cleanses the conscience of these "works of death" (Heb 9:14).
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 (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.
of faith: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning: (1) that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and (2) trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). Zodhiates says that pistis also includes the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to God (1163). Thayer and the NASBEC also include "faithfulness" in the definition of pistis. Christian versions translate the noun as "faith," but the CJB and the TLV have "trust."
In the LXX pistis translates primarily Heb. emun (SH-529), faithfulness (Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17) and emunah (SH-530), fidelity, firmness, or steadfastness, mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Emun and emunah are derived from the verb aman (SH-539), to confirm, establish, make firm, stand firm, support, trust or believe (BDB 52f).
toward: Grk. epi. Again, with the accusative case of the noun following epi emphasizes motion or direction; to, toward. Many versions translate the preposition as "in" (CSB, CEB, CEV, NCV, NIV, NLT), treating pistis in a propositional sense. God: Grk. theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX theos primarily translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (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). Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20) and faith in God is repeatedly exhorted in the Tanakh (2Chr 20:20; Ps 4:5; 37:3, 5; 115:9-11; Isa 7:9; 26:4; 50:10). As a foundational action "faith toward God" represents "saving faith" or that firm initial trust in God's promise of mercy in response to confession and repentance. Then, leaving sin behind enables the believer to put faith into action by focusing on pleasing God with good works of faithfulness (cf. Eph 2:10; Jas 2:17).
Relevant to Paul's comment here concerning repentance and faith is that he reminded the congregational elders in Ephesus that he had faithfully testified during his ministry there "of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Yeshua" (Acts 20:21 BR).
2 instruction of immersions, also laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
This verse continues the thought of the previous verse regarding things to move beyond. instruction: Grk. didachē (from didaskō "to teach"), means the act of teaching with content implied. In the LXX didachē is found only in the superscription of Psalm 60:1 to translate the Piel inf. of Heb. lamad, "to exercise in, to learn" (BDB 540), an action attributed to David (DNTT 3:767). Bruce and Morris suggest that didachē stands in apposition to the term themelios ("foundation") in the previous verse so that the term "instruction" indicates what is added to the foundation.
Scripture is the source of teaching (2Tim 3:16), as also stated in the Mishnah, "you find no free man but he that occupies himself with the study of Torah" (Avot 6:2). God's Word was given in order to teach man to walk in His ways (Ex 4:15; Deut 33:10; Ps 25:12). Spirit-inspired teaching (didachē) by the apostles set the pattern for teaching in the Body of Messiah (Acts 2:42; 13:12). Paul is here referring to Torah-based teaching of the Jews from a Messianic viewpoint. The term didachē applies to the following four subjects, but there is no implication that these subjects were the extent of initial discipleship education (cf. Matt 28:19-20).
of immersions: pl. of Grk. baptismos (from baptizō, "to wash or to immerse in a liquid"), the act of a dipping, immersing or washing as a religious act. The noun occurs only four times in the Besekh, primarily in reference to ritual washing to comply with a Torah requirement (Mark 7:4, 8; Heb 9:10). The plural "baptisms" found in many versions (e.g., CEV, GNB, KJV, NABRE, NKJV, NLT, NRSV) is a misleading interpretation, since in Christianity "baptism" may be conducted by sprinkling, pouring or immersion and include infant baptism, contrary to apostolic practice. Paul had said there is only "one baptism" (lit. "immersion") for the follower of Yeshua (Eph 4:5).
Zodhiates insists that baptismos, ceremonial immersion or washing, must not be confused with baptisma, used primarily in the apostolic narratives for the immersion of Yochanan (Matt 3:7) and in the apostolic letters for the immersion into Yeshua (Rom 6:4; 1Pet 3:21) as a visible sign of repentance. The Torah prescribed many occasions for washing (Lev 11:25, 39-40; 13:6; 14:47; 15:2-5, 16, 19-21;16:26; 17:15; 22:4-6; cf. Luke 2:22; John 2:6). The Essenes were noted for their frequent washing or bathing (Josephus, Wars II, 8:5, 9-10; 1QS 2:25-3:12; 4Q414, 4Q512). For more information see the article Ablution at the Jewish Virtual Library. Some versions have "washings" (CJB, CSB, ESV, NASU). The NIV has "cleansing rites."
Sometimes there was confusion or debate over ritual immersions (Matt 15:2; Mark 7:4; John 3:25; 13:16; 1Cor 15:29) and the instruction of the Jewish believer would have included teaching on the spiritual meaning of water purification (cf. Num 8:7; 19:18-21; Ezek 36:25; Heb 10:22). Yet, there was no expectation that specific Torah requirements be discontinued, especially when visiting the Jerusalem temple (cf. Acts 21:24, 26). There were many pools (Heb. mikva'ot) that surrounded the Temple area for ritual purification. Excavations of the southern wall of the Temple area, begun in 1968, have uncovered dozens of mikva'ot. (See pictures at BibleWalks.com.)
Some versions translate baptismōn with "immersions" (ISR, LSV, MJLT, MW, TLV). Since this "instruction" followed repentance and saving faith, it is likely the "instruction of baptismōn" alludes to the fact that anyone immersed under the ministry of Yochanan was required to be immersed in the name of Yeshua (cf. Acts 2:38; 19:1-5). Ellicott points out that the immersions of Yochanan and of Yeshua from the Hebrew point of view would be considered "washings." Thus, many Messianic Jews had experienced two immersions.
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. laying on: Grk. epithesis, the act of laying or placing upon, and here denotes physical contact. of hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The verbal phrase "laying on of hands" is used first in the apostolic narratives of Yeshua employing physical touch to heal (Matt 9:18) and to convey blessing (Matt 19:18).
In apostolic usage the expression of "laying on of hands" (from Heb. s'mikhah, "leaning" or "laying"), means to consecrate, dedicate or ordain to an office. This ceremony has a strong history in Scripture and Jewish culture. The practice began at Sinai. Just as animals were dedicated for sacrifice by hand-laying (Ex 29:10; Lev 4:15), so the appointment to an office in the same manner effectively made the candidate a "living sacrifice." Israelites dedicated Levites for service (Num 8:10) and Moses transferred his authority to Joshua by this method (Num 27:18-23; Deut 34:9).
The symbolic act of commissioning or ordination by laying on of hands confers or transfers an office, along with its duties and privileges, by dramatizing God's bestowal of the blessings and spiritual gifts needed for the work. In the Besekh the first mention of appointment to an office by laying on of hands is found in Acts 6:6 in which seven men were appointed as deacons to administer the charitable ministry for widows. We may assume that the appointment of Mattathias to apostolic office (Acts 1:26) was accomplished in the same manner, just as the Twelve and the Seventy had previously been appointed by Yeshua (Mark 3:14; Luke 10:1). Peter and John ordained leaders in the congregation of Samaria in this manner and in so doing the Spirit was imparted to them (Acts 8:17).
of the resurrection: Grk. anastasis (from ana, 'up, again' and histēmi, 'to stand'), a standing or rising up, and used here of a rising from the condition of death; i.e., brought back to life after death. Anastasis is the principal Greek word in the Besekh for resurrection, with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age (John 11:24). of the dead: Grk. nekros. See the previous verse. This instructional subject reflected the expectation of Pharisees and traditional Jews that those who have died will live again (cf. Job 19:26; Ps 16:10; 49:15; Isa 26:19; 73:24; John 11:23).
As used in the Besekh the phrase "resurrection of the dead" refers to the general resurrection at the end of the present age (Dan 12:13; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24). Those resurrected will include both the righteous and the wicked (Dan 12:2; John 5:29; Acts 24:15). Scripture records that several people in biblical history were brought back to life from death, such as the son of the widow of Zarephath (1Kgs 17:17-24), the Shunammite's son (2Kgs 4:34-36), the man thrown into Elisha's grave (2Kgs 13:20-21), the widow's son (Luke 7:14-15), Lazarus (John 11:43-44) and those that came out of their tombs at the resurrection of Yeshua (Matt 27:52-53).
There are some key differences between these previous resurrections and the future resurrection: (1) All of the previous resurrections occurred within a very short time after dying; none of them had decayed into dust. (2) None of those formerly raised received an incorruptible body. They were still liable to physical weakness, suffering, pain or disease. (3) All of those formerly raised eventually died again. See my web article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
In his defense sermons Paul declared that the ancestral hope of Israel was bound up with the belief in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 26:6; 28:20). In fact, the Pharisees went so far as to declare that anyone who says the resurrection of the dead is not intimated in the Torah has no part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1). Paul and other Messianic Pharisees (Acts 15:5) knew that the hope of Israel had been fulfilled in the particular resurrection of Yeshua, which guaranteed the general resurrection of the dead.
and: Grk. kai, conj. of eternal: Grk. aiōnios (from aiōn, "age"), adj., age-long and used here to mean relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 160 times to translate Heb. olam (SH-5769), "long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), first in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827). judgment: Grk. krima may refer to a judicial decision, decree or verdict, or a sentence of condemnation and the subsequent punishment itself. The noun is also used of God's final judgment with eternal consequences.
In the LXX krima translates Heb. mishpat (SH-4941), judgment (first in Exodus 23:6), which most often refers to the act of deciding a case, the decision itself, or the execution of the judgment, and in doing so providing justice to victims. The Hebrew people viewed ADONAI as the judge of all the earth and Israel (Gen 18:25; Ex 5:21; Jdg 11:27; 1Sam 2:10; 1Chr 16:33; Ps 7:8; 9:8; 96:10; Isa 2:4; 33:22; Mic 4:3). The phrase "eternal judgment" alludes to God's final judgment that will determine eternal destiny (Acts 24:25; Rom 2:3-4; Rev 20:4).
Yeshua announced that the Father had placed judgment in his hands (Matt 25:31-33; John 5:22, 27; 9:39) and the apostles proclaimed that all in the world would be judged by the One appointed by God, the Messiah (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 24:25; Rom 14:10; 2Cor 5:10). There is an initial judgment at the point of death (Luke 16:22-23; Heb 9:7), but the final judgment occurs after the resurrection (John 6:40; 12:48; 2Pet 2:9; 3:7; Rev 20:12-15). Stern notes that the promise of resurrection and fear of eternal punishment are powerful motivators to live holy lives and to work for the Kingdom of God.
3 And this we will do if indeed God permits.
And: Grk. kai, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. we will do: Grk. poieō, fut., a verb of physical action, which here means to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform (Thayer). The first person plural form of the verb likely includes Luke, who was with Paul in Rome when he wrote the letter (Col 4:14; Phm 1:24). In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. The verb points back to the three previous verbs of "leaving" and "pressing on" (verse 1) and not "laying again" (verse 2).
if indeed: Grk. eanper (from ean, "if"), conj., a conditional particle that makes a disclaimer of presumption; if only, if indeed. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. permits: Grk. epitrepō, pres. subj., grant opportunity for an activity; permit, allow. Paul does not doubt that God desires spiritual maturity of His people. The plural action verb of this verse may express the desire of Paul to be "the one" (Heb 4:12) who will provide the spiritual mentoring in the oracles of God so that his readers will mature and not fall away. Assuming the letter was written from Rome while awaiting trial before Caesar, Paul could only fulfill his desire if God provided the opportunity.
This is an expression of humble submission to the sovereign will of God. Humility recognizes that God is in control. The sovereign almighty God is at work in the world and in the lives of His people to accomplish those things that are for our good and His glory (Rom 8:27-28). God's sovereignty does not operate just in the "macro," i.e., the significant events of history involved in the great plan of salvation, but in what He wants to accomplish in the lives of each of His children. Conversely, humility does not presume on God fulfilling what we believe is His will. God may have other plans. The apostle Paul always submitted his plans to God's sovereign will (cf. Acts 18:21; Rom 1:10; 15:32; 1Cor 4:19).
Peril of Failure, 6:4-8
4 For it is impossible to those once having been enlightened, also having experienced the heavenly gift, and having been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Stern observes that verses 4-6 have fueled serious opposing theological positions within Christianity. The theological divide is between those who believe it is possible to lose one's salvation and those who believe that salvation cannot be lost. Certainly Paul presents a shocking statement. Yet, his purpose is not to instigate the Christian controversies of later centuries, nor to accuse his readers of apostasy, but to warn against the real danger of spiritual failure. Paul's concern is about New Covenant believers returning to Old Covenant Judaism and minimizing or rejecting the atonement provided by Yeshua. Paul presents a hypothetical situation, but perhaps one with which he had personal experience.
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 first use is intended here. it is impossible: Grk. adunatos (from alpha, neg. prefix and dunatos, "able, possible"), adj., lacking in capability; unable, powerless, impossible, here the latter. Guthrie notes that the concept of impossibility occurs three more times in this letter in relation to God. It is impossible for God to lie or prove false (verse 18 below).
It is impossible for the blood of animals to remove sin (10:4). It is impossible to please God without faithfulness (11:6). In this verse the impossibility is what a man can do. Paul then employs four participles that describe five spiritual experiences of an authentic relationship with God, continuing in the next verse, to which he will apply the conclusion of impossibility in verse 6. Some versions unnecessarily move the conclusion in verse 6 and insert it here (CEB, CSB, DARBY, DLNT, ISV, NRSV, RSV).
to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. once: Grk. hapax, adv., a unique and decisive occurrence; once. The use of the adverb is important since it points to a spiritual experience in the past, which has not continued in the same degree.
having been enlightened: Grk. phōtizō, pl. aor. pass. part., cause to be bright with light; provide illumination. The verb is used here to mean that God gives understanding and spiritual light to a person (Rienecker). The verb may denote the general revelation or understanding that God gives to every person of His existence (Ps 19:1-2; Rom 1:19-20), but more likely the special revelation of the good news that Yeshua is Messiah and Savior (John 1:4, 9; 2Tim 1:10; Heb 10:32).
also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction emphasizes that spiritual enlightenment progresses to the two following experiences. having experienced: Grk. geuomai, pl. aor. mid. part., to partake of something by mouth, liquid or solid, "taste," 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). The verb expresses a real and conscious enjoyment of the blessings apprehended in its true character (Rienecker). the heavenly: Grk. epouranios (from epi, "on," and ouranos, "heaven"), adj., existing in or originating from the heavenly sphere; heavenly, celestial.
gift: Grk. dōrea, gift or bounty with the focus on liberality. BAG identifies dōrea as a loanword in rabbinic literature. The word occurs frequently in late Jewish literature, but in the canonical books always in the adverbial form dōrean (gift, gratis, without payment) and corresponds in meaning to the Heb. term chinnam, "for nothing, without payment, or without recompense" (Gen 29:15; Ex 21:2, 11; Num 11:5, 2Sam 24:24; Jer 22:13) (DNTT 2:41). A "gift" is the opposite of wages, since it cannot be earned. We should note that "gift" is singular.
The phrase "heavenly gift" is equivalent to the "gift of God," which Yeshua likened to "living water" (John 4:10) and John later explained to mean the inner endowment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). In Acts the "heavenly gift" is the Holy Spirit, or more precisely the cleansing empowerment of the Spirit promised to those who repent (2:38; 8:20; 10:45; 11:17; cf. 2Tim 1:6). In Paul's letters the "gift" is God's grace that saves and grants eternal life (Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8; 3:7). In this context the "heavenly gift" alludes to the witness of the Spirit (Rom 8:16) of sins forgiven following enlightenment and repentance.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having become: Grk. ginomai, pl. aor. pass. part., to become, here in reference to undergoing entrance into a particular state or condition of existence. partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos (from metechō, "share in"), adj., having a part in something, an active sharing in. of the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God.
In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh.
Being a partaker of the Holy Spirit depicts active sharing in the work of the Holy Spirit following the reception of the Spirit, manifested through the various ministries and gifts (cf. Acts 10:45-47; 19:6; 1Cor 12:4-7). Thus, as this verse begins a description that carries through to verse 6, Paul is not speaking of pseudo-believers, because only true believers could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and partake in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
5 and having experienced the goodness of the word of God; also the powers of the coming age,
and: Grk. kai, conj. having experienced: Grk. geuomai, pl. aor. mid. part. See the previous verse. The verb encompasses the two following spiritual experiences. the goodness: Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard, often with a focus on a moral aspect; fine, good. In the LXX kalos most frequently translates Heb. tov (SH-2896), pleasant, agreeable or good, whether in a practical sense or a moral, ethical sense. The first use of kalos for tov is when God pronounced His creation "good" (Gen 1:4, + 7t). Foremost is the use of kalos/tov as descriptive of what's pleasing to God, what He likes or what gives Him joy (Deut 6:18; Mic 6:8) (DNTT 2:103).
of the word: Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean either (a) a word or utterance, or (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). of God: Grk. theos. See verse 1 above. The phrase "word of God" here refers to Scripture.
The clause "having experienced the goodness of the word of God" denotes the personal blessings of comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, knowledge and wisdom, received from hearing or reading Scripture (cf. Ps 19:7-10; 34:8; 119:103). The goodness of Scripture for the Messianic Jew was to be found particularly in the fulfillment of covenantal promises (Jer 29:10; 33:14). Gill suggests the "good word" is the promise of reconciliation, peace, pardon, life, and salvation proclaimed in Scripture. The experience of goodness is especially enjoyed by those who have received the Holy Spirit.
also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. the powers: 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).
of the coming: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, about to happen, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. The participial form of the verb emphasizes certainty. age: Grk. aiōn, properly, an age or era ("time-span"), characterized by a specific quality or type of existence (HELPS). In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769), "long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "forever, for all time" (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 6:4; 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17).
In the Besekh Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30). The olam haba is that time after the Second Coming when Messiah rules the earth, extending into the endless ages of eternity that will follow the final judgment (Rev 22:5). Stern interprets the "powers of the coming age" as spiritual gifts (1Cor 12:8-10). However, given the use of dunamis to mean "miracles," the clause more likely refers to either the witness of or personal experience of signs and wonders.
The reference to the "powers of the coming age" especially portend when death, the last enemy, has been defeated and the prophesied blessings of Isaiah 65:17-25 and Revelation 21 are fulfilled. Those powers reflect the full might of God unleashed without interference from Satan or any form of evil. In the present age we witness or experience those powers to a lesser degree, and Paul's readers could testify to having received such blessings through the ministry of the apostles.
The crescendo of spiritual experiences in verses 4 and 5, from enlightenment to experiencing the power of God, makes the spiritual failure described in the next verse all the more tragic.
6 and having fallen away, to restore to repentance, crucifying for themselves the Son of God, and publicly-disgracing Him.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having fallen away: Grk. parapiptō (from para, "beside" and piptō, "to fall"), m. pl. aor. part., deviate from a state or condition; fall away, commit apostasy. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb refers to a close-follower of Yeshua who becomes a defector (HELPS). The related noun apostasia depicts the state of abandonment from true religion (Acts 21:21; 2Th 2:3; LXX Josh 22:22; 2Chr 29:19; 33:19; Jer 2:19). The root verb piptō is used elsewhere to describe catastrophic spiritual failure (Rom 11:11; Heb 4:11). The most graphic biblical example is the fall of Lucifer from his original created state of perfection (Isa 14:12-15; Ezek 28:11-19).
Then the failure of the Israelites in the wilderness occurred in spite of experiencing God's creation miracles, immersion in the Red Sea (1Cor 10:1-2), being illumined by the Sh'khinah glory of God and having the "good Spirit to instruct them" (Neh 9:20) (Bruce). In the apostolic narratives there is Judas Iscariot who became infamous for his betrayal of Yeshua (Matt 10:4). Demas is another prime example of falling away from the Lord. He was a companion and co-worker of Paul (Col 4:14; Phm 1:24), but sometime later he deserted Paul, "having loved this present world" (2Tim 4:10). Hippolytus includes Demas in his list of seventy apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1), but notes that later he became a priest of idols.
Falling away after experiencing genuine New Covenant spiritual blessings from God itself seems impossible. With the delay of Yeshua's return first century disciples focused on their lives, caring for their families and pursuing occupational or vocational goals (Jas 4:13). The daily activities of family and work served to reduce the time spent with God and God's people. Avoiding God gave temptations of the devil greater power. The fear of persecution was also a factor. Thus falling away began with neglecting biblical duties and the means of grace (cf. Matt 25:18, 24-28; 2Th 3:11; 1Tim 5:11-13; Heb 2:3; 10:25; 13:2, 16).
to restore: Grk. anakainizō (from ana, "up, again, back," and kainizō, "make new"), pres. inf., make fresh and vigorous; renew, restore. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Many versions translate the verb as "renew again" or "restore again," but in this context the prefix "ana" does not signify a previous restoration, but restoration back to a previous condition. to: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within," literally, "motion into which" implying penetration ("into," "to") to a particular purpose or result (HELPS). The preposition denotes entrance into the means of restoration.
repentance: Grk. metanoia. See verse 1 above. The verbal phrase "restore to repentance" defines what is "impossible" (verse 4 above) based on the conditions set forth in verses 4-6. Spiritual restoration is not actually impossible, since with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26). The impossibility is the result of the continuation of the offensive behaviors depicted in the following two verbs.
crucifying: Grk. anastauroō (from ana, "up, again, back," and stauroō, "to crucify"), m.pl. pres. part., impale on a Roman execution stake or cross; crucify. The verb is used here in a figurative sense. for themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. the Son: Grk. ho 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 mean a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above.
Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that at this time "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Deut 14:1; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6). Yochanan the Immerser declared Yeshua to be the Son of God (John 1:34) and the apostles affirmed this truth (Matt 14:33; Mark 1:1; John 20:30; Heb 4:14).
Paul could feel justified in using hyperbole because of the blatant disloyalty. The fallen one has effectively joined the Jewish leaders who condemned Yeshua to death. and: Grk. kai. publicly shaming Him: Grk. paradeigmatizō, m. pl. pres. part., to shame publicly, to make a public example of, to expose to disgrace (BAG). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. This verb is a stark reminder that when Yeshua was impaled on the cross he was stripped of his clothing and his mother had to see him in that condition (John 19:26). The execution of a criminal brought shame to the family, and the one who turns away from his Lord wounds the community of faith.
Rienecker suggests that if the readers were to return to Old Covenant Judaism, there would be no possibility for them to begin their spiritual life anew. For this reason they must continue toward maturity in spite of the difficulties, problems, and persecutions which mark their life. However, the danger is more serious than returning to the non-Messianic synagogue and resuming the normal Jewish life. Paul has already warned in 3:12 "Watch out, brothers, lest there will be in any of you an evil heart of unfaithfulness, in departing from the living God." The "falling away" is complete abandonment of God.
7 For land having absorbed rain often coming upon it, and producing useful vegetation to those for the sake of whom it is also cultivated, partakes of blessing from God.
Paul now offers an effective parabolic illustration with an agricultural setting in this verse and the next to drive home the spiritual lesson. In this verse Paul alludes to the promise of agricultural production ADONAI gave to Israel in response to obedience to His covenantal expectations (Lev 25:18-19; 26:3-4; Deut 28:4).
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 4 above. land: Grk. ho gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last meaning is intended here. In the LXX gē translates the Heb. erets (SH-776), which has the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). having absorbed: Grk. pinō, aor. part., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine. rain: Grk. huetos, liquid precipitation, rain. The parabolic saying employs a personification to liken the ground absorbing rain water to a person drinking.
often: Grk. pollakis, adv., frequently, often, many times. coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. part., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. upon: Grk. epi, prep. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here (Thayer). and: Grk. kai, conj. producing: Grk. tiktō, pres. part., to cause to come into being, used here in an agricultural sense.
useful: Grk. euthetos, adj., ready for use; fit, suitable, useful. vegetation: Grk. botanē, an herb fit for fodder, green herb, growing plant, produce of the earth. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. to those: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. for the sake of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality, (2) causality, or (3) a benefit. The third usage applies here.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. it is also: Grk. kai. cultivated: Grk. geōrgeō, pres. part., work land productively; cultivate, till. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. partakes: Grk. metalambanō, pres., have or get a share, partake. of blessing: Grk. eulogia may mean (1) praise, fine speaking, well-chosen words; or (2) bestowal of a blessing or gift. The second meaning applies here. Eulogia also carries the idea of something being bountiful (BAG).
In the LXX eulogia translates Heb. b'rakhah (SH-1293; BDB 139), benefit or blessing, first in Genesis 27:12. In the Tanakh a b'rakhah is ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser, either from man to man (Gen 12:2), from parent to child (Gen 27:12, 41) or from God to man (Ex 32:29). from: Grk. apo, prep. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. The parabolic scenario alludes to the covenantal promise of rain that would assure abundant agricultural production (Deut 28:12).
8 But land producing thorns and thistles, is worthless and near a curse, whose end is for burning.
Reference: Genesis 3:17-18; 2Samuel 23:6-7.
In this verse Paul reverses the agricultural imagery to illustrate the outcome of falling away.
But: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in 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. land: The noun from the previous verse is not repeated, but implied and inserted by a number of versions (CEB, NCV, NIV). producing: Grk. ekpherō (from ek, "out of," and pherō, "to bear or bring"), pres. part., cause to move or emerge from a position; bear, bring forth, produce.
thorns: pl. of Grk. akantha, a thorn-plant. There are several species to choose from, and the term is non-specific. In the LXX akantha translates Heb. qots (SH-6975), thorn, thorn-bush, first in Genesis 3:18. In the Tanakh thorns are symbolic of the temptations of pagan culture (Josh 23:13; Jdg 2:3). In the parable of the sower thorns choked the seed sown (Matt 13:7). Yeshua likened the thorns to "the worries and riches and pleasures of this life," which prevent producing fruit to maturity (Luke 8:14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. thistles: pl. of Grk. tribolos (from treis, "three" and belos, "a missile"), a prickly pointed wild plant; thistle. The thistle produces a colorful flower, but is hurtful to other plants. In the LXX tribolos translates Heb. dardar (SH-1863), thistle, first in Genesis 3:18. BDB says the thistle is a symbol of wildness (205). Taken together thorns and thistles represent rebellion against God (cf. Ezek 2:4-7).
is worthless: Grk. adokimos, adj., not meeting a standard; useless, worthless. and: Grk. kai. near: Grk. eggus, prep., near to or close to, usually in a spatial or temporal sense, but used here in a fig. sense. a curse: Grk. katara, imprecation or curse, which refers to the content of a curse. In the LXX katara translates Heb. qelalah (SH-7045; BDB 887), curse, first in Genesis 27:12. In the Torah the term is generally of a divine pronouncement of judgment on prohibited behavior, a curse (e.g., Deut 11:26-29; 29:27; 30:1-19).
With the combination of "thorns and thistles," the mention of a curse would remind the Messianic Jewish readers of the curse God imposed on Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you" (Gen 3:17-18).
whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. end: Grk. ho telos, a point in time that marks culmination. In the LXX telos is often used to translate the Heb. qets, "end" (DNTT 2:60). The Hebrew word qets is most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Gen 8:6; 2Sam 15:7; 2Kgs 18:3) (BDB 893). The term telos could refer to the end of life, but primarily has the sense of an outcome or consequence.
is for: Grk. eis, prep. burning: Grk. kausis (from kaiō, "to ignite, burn"), burning, burning up. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Some commentators (Chrysostom, Ellicott, Faussett and Thayer) suggest use of the noun refers to the fate of which land appointed by God is to be burned up by fire and brimstone, such as Deuteronomy 29:23 in which kausis translates Heb. serephah (SH-8316), a burning, in reference to God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. David likens worthless men (lit. "sons of Belial;" cf. Deut 13:13) to thorns that will be removed from covenantal blessing and burned (2Sam 23:6-7).
Compare Yeshua's own stark parabolic saying to his disciples: "If anyone should not abide in me, he is cast outside as the branch, and dried up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and burned" (John 15:6 BR). The noun "burning" no doubt alludes to the final punishment meted out to all who fall away and refuse to repent.
Better Things, 6:9-15
9 But we are convinced of better things concerning you, beloved, and things accompanying salvation, if even we speak like this.
Paul now softens his criticism with a positive affirmation. But: Grk. de, conj. we are convinced: Grk. peithō, perf. mid., 1p-pl., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade. The first person plural form probably includes Luke. of better things: pl. of Grk. kreissōn (neut. of kreittōn), adj., having a degree of advantage, whether in status or rank (better, superior) or of value (better, more advantageous). The second application fits here. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning, in behalf of.
you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. beloved: Grk. agapētos, adj., voc., held in affection; beloved, esteemed or dear. The direct address of "beloved" illustrates the shared spiritual bond and warmth between Paul and his readers. "Beloved" is an address common to all of Paul's letters, except Galatians. Bengel notes that Paul always uses "beloved" in the context of exhortation to soften what otherwise might appear to be harsh. The first clause of this verse offers assurance that Paul does not believe his readers have reached the extreme degree of spiritual failure of which he spoke in verses 4-6.
and: Grk. kai, conj. things accompanying: Grk. echō, pl. pres. pass. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. This grammatical form of echō occurs only here in the Besekh. The neuter form of the participle points to the possession of characteristics or indicators of God's grace. salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance, preservation or salvation from physical harm (Luke 1:71; Php 1:19), but often from God's wrath (1Th 5:9). As a spiritual act salvation incorporates the provision of forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77).
In the LXX sōtēria translates first Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace, safety (Gen 26:31; 28:21; 44:17), but then six different terms derived from the verb yasha (SH-3467), to deliver, primarily yeshu'ah (SH-3444, over 70 times), deliverance, salvation, victory (Gen 49:18; Ex 14:13; Ps 3:8) and teshu'ah (SH-8668, over 30 times), deliverance, salvation (Jdg 15:18; 1Sam 11:13; Isa 45:17) (DNTT 3:206). The yasha word-group generally depicts physical rescue by God, especially from oppression or external evils, often through human agency.
In the Tanakh the Hebrew concept of salvation also included the spiritual idea of having sins forgiven (e.g., Ps 51:14; 79:9; Ezek 37:23). God's mercy in providing salvation depends on contrition and repentance (Ps 51:5-12; Isa 30:15; 45:22; 59:1-2). 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 to be fulfilled when Yeshua returns (Matt 24:13; 2Tim 2:10; Rev 19:1). Salvation is both individual and national in reference to Israel (Rom 11:26). The second clause of the verse is perhaps an awkward way of expressing confidence that his readers are saved.
if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the former. even: Grk. kai. we speak: Grk. laleō, pres., 1p-pl., to exercise the faculty of speech and to make an oral statement; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak. like this: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, in this way or like this. In the last clause Paul emphasizes that even though he identifies some spiritual shortcomings among his readers he is not so narrow-minded as to ignore their virtues and positive qualities.
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and the love that you have shown for His name, having served the holy ones, and still serving.
For: Grk. gar, conj. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. is not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. unjust: Grk. adikos, adj., not in accord with what is right and approved, without justice; unjust, unrighteous. to forget: Grk. epilanthanomai, aor. mid. inf., may mean (1) lack remembrance of; forget; (2) disregard intentionally; ignore, overlook. The second meaning applies here.
Paul then identifies five things about his readers that God will not forget, things that demonstrate their salvation (Fruchtenbaum). your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. work: Grk. ho ergon. See verse 1 above. The first work God will not forget is their work. This is not a work done in order to be saved, but what follows saving faith (Eph 2:10). The singular form of "work" may simply summarize the work of promoting faith in God (cf. John 6:29) or the work of proclaiming the good news (cf. Acts 13:2; 15:26; 15:38). No indication is given of how Paul came by this knowledge, although he did receive many visitors from the Diaspora during his time in Rome (Acts 28:30).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the love: Grk. ho agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun is one of the four Greek words for "love" and the one that occurs most frequently in the Besekh. In the LXX agapē appears infrequently, but translates Heb. ahavah (SH-160), love, whether human or divine, first in Ecclesiastes 9:1, and occurs especially in Song of Solomon (SS 2:4, 5, 7; 3:5, 10; 5:8; 7:6; 8:4, 6, 7). The Jewish translators of the LXX apparently coined the noun agapē, since there is no Greek literature earlier than the LXX that uses the noun (DNTT 2:539).
Agapē, unlike the verb agapaō, is never used in a negative sense (cf. Luke 6:32). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē (John 3:16; 1Jn 4:8) and the preeminent virtue (1Cor 13:1-13). The essential factor in every passage employing the agapē is the willingness to sacrifice for another, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros.
that you have shown: Grk. endeiknumi, aor. mid., demonstrate or show. HELPS defines the verb as properly, to make fully evident, showing conspicuous proof which demonstrates something as undeniable. for: Grk. eis, prep. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. name: Grk. ho onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. The second thing God will not forget is their love for Him thereby seeking to live by the first great commandment and in so doing bring glory to God.
having served: Grk. diakoneō, aor. part., to serve, especially in meeting of personal needs or attending to in some practical manner. the holy ones: pl. of Grk. ho hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to God and therefore holy or sacred. The root meaning of the term is "different," being different from the world (cf. 1Jn 2:15-16) (HELPS). In the LXX hagios translates the Heb. adj. qadōsh (SH-6918), "holy, sacred," and its first usage is of Israel set apart as a holy nation (Ex 19:6) (DNTT 2:224). The plural form as a descriptive name for Israelites occurs several times (Ps 16:3; 34:9; Dan 7:21-22, 25, 27).
In post-Tanakh Jewish literature the plural hagioi is used for the Jerusalem priestly community (1Macc 1:46; 3Macc 2:2, 21; Tobit 12:15) and members of the Hasideans, forerunners of the Pharisees (1Macc 7:17). The community of Qumran also described itself as "the holy ones of His people" (1QM 6:6) (TDSS 153). The label as used among Israelites and Jews and signified those who are "wholly His," those who fear God and live according to His commandments. Usage of the term in the Besekh continues the essential meaning of complete devotion and separation to God.
The noun is translated as "saints" in a number of Christian versions, and Christian commentators regard the term simply as descriptive of members of the Body of Messiah. However, as a personal description the label denotes more than being a believer. Indeed, in this context the term could refer to those who have experienced the five levels of grace described in verses 4-5 above. The holy ones exhibit the maturity to which Paul calls his readers. For a detailed explanation of this term and its significance see the section "Holy Ones" in my article The Apostolic Community.
The third thing God will not forget is their practical sharing with others. Such service can take the form of hospitality or "washing the feet" of the holy ones (Rom 12:13; 1Tim 5:10; Heb 13:2). The aorist tense of the verb may point to participation in a particular project or a particular time. Almsgiving was expected of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and there was a receptacle for the purpose in the Temple. In addition every synagogue had its charity box. Sharing with the needy marked the Yeshua movement from the beginning (Acts 2:45) and specific almsgiving for needy widows was organized by the apostles (Acts 6:1-6).
During the reign of Claudius, Paul and Barnabas had brought a gift from the congregation in Syrian Antioch to Judea at the end of this first Diaspora journey to help with famine relief (Acts 11:27-30). Paul used the same verbal construction ("serving the holy ones") in his letter to the congregation in Rome when he described his project of collecting a contribution for the poor in the Jerusalem congregation (Rom 15:25-26; cf. 1Cor 16:1–4; 2Cor 8:1–9:15). Paul duly delivered the gift at the end of his third journey (Acts 24:17). It is noteworthy that the only recorded "compassionate ministry" conducted by the disciples during the apostolic era was for the benefit of Messianic Jews.
Caring for the poor is repeatedly stressed in the Tanakh (Deut 15:7, 11; Prov 14:21; 21:13; Isa 58:6-7; Dan 4:27). In Scripture wealth is considered a loan from God, and the poor have a certain claim on the possessions of the rich; while the rich are positively exhorted to share God's bounties with the poor. Among Jews in the first century almsgiving was the best good work a person could do. This is the epitome of applying the second great commandment to love one's neighbor and in so doing loving God. Even loaning money without interest or helping a poor man to some lucrative occupation was considered a form of almsgiving.
and: Grk. kai. still serving: Grk. diakoneō, pres. part. The fourth thing God will not forget is that Paul's readers did not help others just once or when they went to Jerusalem, but that ministering to others in practical ways was a regular occurrence. Fellowship in the Body of Messiah rests on the willingness to share. Paul enunciated the principle clearly: "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Gal 6:10).
11 And we desire each of you to demonstrate the same zeal toward the full assurance of hope until the end,
And: Grk. de, conj. we desire: Grk. epithumeō, pres., 1p-pl, may mean (1) have a strong desire for, desire, long for; or (2) have inordinate desire, implying intent to acquire, covet, lust. The first meaning is intended here. The first person plural form of the verb again likely includes Luke, Paul's translator. each: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The phrase "each of you" denotes every person who will hear Paul's letter read.
to demonstrate: Grk. endeiknumi, pres. mid. inf. See the previous verse. Paul exhorts his readers live in such a way that will prove their spiritual vitality. the same: Grk. ho autos, personal pronoun. zeal: Grk. spoudē, zealous commitment for carrying out an obligation or an opportunity for service; concerned commitment, diligence, earnestness, enthusiasm. toward: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and normally conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. the full assurance: Grk. plērophoria, state or condition of nothing lacking, fullness. Mounce gives the meaning as full conviction, firm persuasion, assurance.
of hope: Grk. ho elpis may refer to (1) looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here. until: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; as far as, until, while. the end: Grk. telos. See verse 8 above. As a future reference "the end" could allude to either the end of one's life or the end of the present age. Paul expresses the wish that his readers will keep doing the four things mentioned in the previous verse, as well as to press on to maturity as stated in verse 1 above.
12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who by means of faithfulness and patience are inheriting the promises.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. The conjunction introduces the two-fold outcome of the zeal Paul desires his readers to manifest, what to avoid and what to accomplish. you may not: Grk. mē, adv. become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 4 above. sluggish: pl. of Grk. nōthros, adj., dull, slow, slothful, sluggish; fig. lazy (HELPS). The adjective occurs only in Hebrews (also 5:11). but: Grk. de, conj. imitators: pl. of Grk. mimētēs, one who follows a pattern or model, especially in a good sense with focus on appropriate behavior and fidelity; imitator. Outside of Hebrews the term occurs only in the letters of Paul.
of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. by means of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 7 above. The preposition here stresses instrumentality. Paul then names two essential characteristics of those worthy of imitation. Indeed these two essentials reflect the maturity he desires of his readers. faithfulness: Grk. pistis. See verse 1 above. Here the noun stresses fidelity and loyalty. The ones worthy of imitation, the faithful Hebrew heroes, will be listed in Chapter Eleven.
and: Grk. kai, conj. patience: Grk. makrothumia (from makros, "long" and thumos, "passion, anger"), the capacity for restraint in face of what is provocative or a hardship; patience, forbearance. are inheriting: Grk. klēronomeō, pl. pres. part., to be an heir in a legal sense. More frequently the verb means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. In the LXX klēronomeō translates Heb. yarash (SH-3423), first in Genesis 15:3. the promises: pl. of Grk. ho epaggelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to the patriarchs and Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance. The mention of promises anticipates the saying of the next verse.
13 For God, having promised Abraham, swore by Himself, since He had by no one greater to swear,
Reference: Genesis 22:16.
For: Grk. gar, conj. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. having promised: Grk. epaggellomai, aor. part., to promise something in the sense of a commitment. The specific promise is mentioned in the next verse. Abraham: Grk. ho Abraam (SH-85), a transliteration of Heb. Avraham, a personal name. The first Hebrew patriarch, 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. His birth name was 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. God made multiple promises to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:2-5, 13-21; 17:1-8; 18:10, 18; 22:15-18), but Paul refers to the text of Genesis 22:16.
swore: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming the veracity of what one says; swear. In the LXX of this verse omnuō translates Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to take an oath, swear, first in Genesis 21:31 (BDB 989). The Hebrew word for swear is derived from the feminine form of the word for "seven" (Heb. sheba) and there is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." A relationship between the two words is suggested in the narrative of Genesis 21.
Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34), and Abraham named the well where he and Abimelech met "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31). Thus, the literal meaning of the Hebrew word "swear" is to "seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things" (BDB 989). by: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "down," with the genitive case of the adjective following would ordinarily be translated as "according to." In this context following a verb of swearing (the hand being, as it were, placed down upon the thing sworn by) the preposition is translated as "by" (Thayer).
Himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. The act of ADONAI swearing "by Himself" in Genesis 22 contrasts with Abraham entering a covenant with Abimelech in Genesis 21 and giving seven lambs as testimony of the truthfulness of his oath. ADONAI did not need to give Abraham anything tangible since the word of ADONAI is His bond.
since: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch, because. He had: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 9 above. by: Grk. kata. no one: 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. greater: Grk. megas, adj., lit. "great," used of spatial dimensions, quantity, age, relative strength, rank, importance or excellence. The adjective is used here to emphasize importance and rank. to swear: Grk. omnuō, aor. inf. There is no one is heaven and earth greater than God, thus the Hebrew text reads "By myself I have sworn."
14 saying, "That surely blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you."
Reference: Genesis 12:2; 17:2; 22:17.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. Paul then quotes from the oath God swore in Genesis 22:17.
That: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, normally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument; forasmuch as, if, that. In the LXX of the quoted verse ei translates Heb. conj. ki (SH-3588), 'that,' 'for,' or 'when,' used especially to add force or distinctness to the affirmation which follows (BDB 472). Bible versions do not translate this conjunction. surely: Grk. mēn, particle of affirmation that focuses attention on the subject following; assuredly, by all means, certainly, surely.
blessing: Grk. eulogeō, pres. part., may mean (1) to invoke divine favor; or (2) to express high praise, to bless, to offer a blessing. The first meaning applies here. The corresponding Heb. verb is barakh (SH-1288), which lit. means to kneel or to bless (BDB 138). In the Tanakh barakh is an endowment of favor or beneficial power (cf. Gen 1:28), ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser, either from God to man, from man to man or parent to child.
I will bless: Grk. eulogeō, fut. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The participial phrase "blessing I will bless you" is found only in this verse in relation to Abraham. However, the divine promise to bless Abraham was first given in Genesis 12:2. The original blessing was that God would make Abraham a great nation and make his name great.
and: Grk. kai, conj. multiplying: Grk. plēthunō, pres. part., become more in number; increase, multiply. I will multiply: Grk. plēthunō, fut. you: Grk. su. Genesis 22:17 has "seed" (Heb. zera; LXX sperma) instead of "you." However, the pronoun is used in Genesis 17:2 in which God promises Abraham, "I will multiply you." The verb "multiply" was used to assure Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than he could possibly count, indeed "as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore." The comparison may imply there is a numerical equivalency between the number of stars in the heavens and the grains of sand on the earth, but in neither case could Abraham count them.
15 And, thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.
And: Grk. kai, conj. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. having patiently waited: Grk. makrothumeō (from makros, "long, far distance," and thumos, "passion, anger"), aor. part., to wait patiently for something, to persevere. The verb denotes refusing to retaliate with anger, because of human reasoning (HELPS). In other words, Abraham did not allow the frustration of the passing years without an heir to reduce his trust in the faithfulness of God.
he obtained: Grk. epitugchanō, aor., have success in obtaining something; acquire, attain, obtain or secure. The subject of the verb is Abraham (verse 13 above), whose name a large number of versions insert here even though the name is not in the Greek text. the promise: Grk. ho epaggelia. See verse 12 above. The singular "promise" alludes to the covenantal promise of a son to be born of Sarah (Gen 18:9-14; 21:1-2). Ishmael was born before Abraham received the promise (Gen 16:15), so his birth did not qualify as fulfilling the promise. The birth of Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old made the promise of multiplying possible.
The Anchor of the Soul, 6:16-20
16 For men swear by one greater, and to them the oath is an end for confirmation of every dispute,
Reference: Exodus 22:11.
NOTE: Verses 16 through 20 form a single sentence in the Greek text. Sentence structure of Paul's letters is often lengthy and complex. Some modern Bible versions break up Paul's wordy sentences into individual units for easier reading, but in so doing the flow of his reasoning may be reduced.
For: Grk. gar, conj. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind, used here of an adult males. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for a human male or mankind (DNTT 2:564). swear: Grk. omnuō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 13 above. by: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 13 above. one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. greater: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 13 above. Many versions add "than themselves" to qualify the use of the adjective.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the oath: Grk. ho horkos, a formally approved statement or promise; an oath. In the LXX horkos corresponds to the Heb. shevuah, oath (Ex 22:10) and occasionally to alah, curse, act of cursing (Prov 29:24) (DNTT 3:739). The rabbinic elaboration of the laws pertaining to oaths is found in the Talmud Tractates Shevuoth and Nedarim. is an end: Grk. peras, extreme point or limit; end. for: Grk. eis, prep. confirmation: Grk. bebaiōsis, process of confirming or establishing; certification, confirmation, guarantee, ratification.
of every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. dispute: Grk. antilogia (from antilegō, "to dispute"), adversarial speech or position; contention, dispute. Barnes comments that the statement here alludes to a circumstance of when two parties are at variance, or have a cause at issue, an oath binds them to adhere to the terms of agreement concluded on, or contracting parties bind themselves by a solemn oath to adhere to the conditions of an agreement, and this puts an end to all strife.
The disputants rest satisfied when a solemn oath has been taken, and they feel assured that the agreement will be complied with. The general meaning is that in disputes between man and man, an appeal was made to an oath, and that was allowed to settle it. The connection here is that the same thing was done by God. His oath by Himself made His promise firm.
17 by which God, intending to show even more to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, guaranteed it by an oath,
by: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," but here stresses means. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 7 above. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. intending: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. part., to will or intend, here of reaching a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, will. to show: Grk. epideiknumi, aor. inf., may mean (1) exhibit through visual demonstration, show; or (2) provide proof for a conclusion, prove. The second meaning applies here. even more: Grk. perissoteros, comparative adj., exceeding a standard of abundance; greater, more important, even more, so much more.
to the heirs: pl. of Grk. ho klēronomos (from klēros, "a lot," and nomos, "law") refers to that which is apportioned, an inheritor in a legal sense, heir. More frequently the word means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. In the LXX klēronomos translates the participle of Heb. yarash (SH-3423), to take possession of, to inherit (2Sam 14:7; Jer 8:10; Mic 1:15).
of the promise: Grk. ho epaggelia. See verse 12 above. Guthrie notes that while the oath was given to Abraham it was intended for the benefit of his heirs. From Paul's point of view the heirs of the promise are those who had experienced the good news of the fulfillment in Yeshua of the oath God swore to Abraham (Bruce). Guthrie argues on the basis of Yeshua's criticism of the Jewish leaders failing to do the works of Abraham (John 8:39) and Paul's reference to Gentile believers being "sons of Abraham" (Rom 4:16) that the "heirs of the promise" are distinct from the natural descendants.
Such a conclusion ignores Paul's Israelology. The heirs of promise are in fact the natural descendants of Isaac and Jacob (Rom 9:6-13), but more specifically the faithful remnant of Israel (Rom 9:27; 11:5). The faithful remnant included the tens of thousands of Jews that accepted Yeshua as Messiah and Savior (Acts 21:20), as well as the Messianic Jews to whom this letter was addressed. Gentile believers only become "heirs of promise" by virtue of being "grafted into" the Olive Tree of Jacob (Rom 11:11-24) and being made citizens in the Commonwealth of Jacob (Eph 2:12-13).
the unchangeableness: Grk. ho ametathetos, adj., not subject to change; unalterable, unchangeable, immutable. The adjective occurs only in Hebrews. of His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. purpose: Grk. ho boulē (derived from boulomai, "to will, wish or want"), may refer to (1) the process of thinking as prelude to decision; deliberation, motive; or (2) the product of deliberation, decision, resolve, used frequently of a divine plan or purpose. The second usage fits here. In the LXX boulē occurs over 100 times and translates mainly Heb. etsah (SH-6098), counsel, advice (74 times), which denotes the weighty consideration which precedes the effecting of the will (DNTT 3:1016).
The Hebrew term is often used of men or nations and bears the sense of advice, counsel or wisdom (Prov 2:11; 8:12; Isa 11:2). Above all the term is used as a divine attribute (Job 12:13; Prov 8:14; Isa 28:29; Jer 32:19) and of the immutable purpose of God (Ps 33:11). God's purpose is particularly to bless Israel and judge the wicked of the nations (Isa 14:26; 25:1; 46:10-11; Jer 49:20; 50:45).
Walter Kaiser refers to the divine purpose as the "purpose-plan of God" (19). The plan was actually conceived before creation (1Cor 2:7-8; Heb 9:26; Rev 13:8), because God knew that sin would be introduced into His perfect creation. The initial promise was made to Chavah ("Eve"), a Seed-Savior or Messiah who would bring God's remedy for sin (Gen 3:15). The purpose-plan involved making irrevocable covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel and David, through whom the Messiah would be born into the world.
God's purpose-plan demonstrates that He is the Lord of history, or more specifically "salvation history," God's plan to redeem Israel and the nations. Peter gave an overview of the plan of God in his early ministry in Jerusalem (Acts 2:27-36; 4:24-28). Paul also reviewed the salvation plan of God in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-40), and then the purpose-plan of God became a major theme in his letters (Rom 1:1-3; 4:1-13; 9:4, 8-9; 15:8-9; Gal 3:14-29; Eph 1:3-11; 2:12; 3:3-6; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:13-17; 11:39-40).
guaranteed it: Grk. mesiteuō (from mesitēs, "mediator" or "surety"), aor., may mean (1) act as an arbitrator or mediator in settling a matter; intervene, interpose, mediate; or (2) to pledge oneself, give surety; confirm, guarantee. The second meaning applies here. The verb does not indicate God mediating between two disputing parties as implied by the translation in some versions. Thayer notes that mesitēs is used in the sense of surety in Josephus (Ant. IV, 6:7). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. by an oath: Grk. horkos. See the previous verse.
Guthrie suggests that God made the oath as a concession to human convention. In other words, the oath of God served as surety of the purpose-plan being fulfilled. In one respect for the God who cannot lie to swear an oath is an absurdity (so Philo, Allegorical Interpretations III, §205). Yet, as Philo asks, "What other being could be competent to bear testimony to Him?" Thus, for God to swear an oath by Himself is a positive revelation about Himself, since He alone has an accurate knowledge of His own nature, without the possibility of mistake.
Considering the flow of the sentence in Greek and the fact that Paul proceeds from mentioning a sworn oath in verse 16 to mentioning Melchizedek in verse 20, then the oath by which the covenantal promise is guaranteed is dual in nature. In other words, God swore an oath to Abraham of a Seed who would bless all nations (Gen 22:16-18; cf. Gal 3:16), but He also swore an oath that the promised Seed would be a mediatorial priest like Melchizedek (Ps 110:1, 4).
18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge, might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us,
Reference: Numbers 23:19.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 12 above. by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 7 above. two: Grk. duo, adj., the primary number two. unchangeable: Grk. ametathetos, adj. See the previous verse. things: pl. of Grk. pragma, something that involves or presumes action by a responsible party; deed, matter or thing. In the LXX pragma occurs 125 times (DNTT 3:1155) and is used to translate Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning, first in Genesis 19:22. The two immutable things are first the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12 and second the oath God swore in Genesis 17.
in: Grk. en, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. it is impossible: Grk. adunatos, adj. See verse 4 above. for God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. to lie: Grk. pseudomai, aor. mid. inf., state what is false, to willfully misrepresent the facts and thus to deceive. The affirmation about the veracity of God is drawn from Numbers 23:19. For God to lie would be utterly inconsistent with His nature. This statement about character contrasts God with Satan whom Yeshua said is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
Farrar notes the saying of Clement of Rome (A.D. 35−99): "Nothing is impossible to God, except to lie" (1Clem. 27:2). Paul repeats the declaration "God cannot lie" in his letter to Titus (1:2). Barnes explains that the impossibility is a "moral" impossibility. That is, such was the love of God for truth; such His holiness of character, that He "could" not speak falsely. By virtue of the integrity of God whose promise and oath to Abraham are immutable, Paul can repeat the categorical revelation to Jeremiah (33:25-26) that God would never reject Israel (Rom 11:2). Thus, the historic teaching of Christianity that God rejected Israel is a monstrous lie.
we who: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. have fled for refuge: Grk. ho katapheugō, pl. aor. part., to flee for refuge, implying having reached the destination. In the LXX katapheugō translates Heb. nus (SH-5127), to flee or escape, first in Genesis 19:20 in reference to the request of Lot to be allowed to flee to Zoar to escape God's judgment on Sodom. Then katapheugō is used for Heb. nus in passages that mention fleeing from the avenger to the asylum of the cities of refuge (Num 35:25-26; Deut 4:42; 19:5; Josh 20:9).
The cities of refuge in the land of Israel were especially designated sanctuaries to which one guilty of unintentional manslaughter could flee to avoid revenge from a family member (Num 35:6). With this application the flight for refuge is that of the sinner seeking the refuge of God's mercy. Gill notes that Philo makes the divine Word, or Logos, to be the chief and most profitable refuge to fly unto (On Flight and Finding, §94). In contrast to the limited use of the Israelite sanctuary cities Yeshua is a refuge for all sorts of sinners.
We might also consider the fact that the verb katapheugō also translates Heb. kasah (SH-3680), to cover, take shelter, in reference to ADONAI being a refuge from enemies or troubles (Ps 143:9); as well as Heb. ruts (SH-7323), to run, and used in reference to nations running to ADONAI for refuge (Isa 55:5); and Heb. lavah (SH-3867), to join, be joined, also used in reference to nations coming to ADONAI for refuge (Jer 50:5; Zech 2:11).
might have: Grk. echō, pres. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 9 above. strong: Grk. ischuros, adj., strong, used here to mean high on a scale of extent as respects strength or impact. encouragement: Grk. paraklēsis may mean (1) emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task, exhortation or encouragement; or (2) heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor; consolation or comfort. The first meaning applies here. to hold fast: Grk. krateō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to gain control of; secure, seize; or (2) to have firm hold on; hold fast, hold to. The second meaning is intended here.
to the hope: Grk. ho elpis. See verse 11 above. set before us: Grk. prokeimai, pres. pass. part., to be in public view, be set forth. For the Israelites "the hope that is set before us" might allude to the completion of all covenantal promises (cf. Acts 1:6), but spiritually speaking the hope is Yeshua himself (2Cor 1:10; 1Th 1:3), the redemption he secured for all that trust in his atoning blood, and the resurrection he promised to occur on the last day of the present age (cf. John 6:39-40; Acts 23:6; 24:15).
19 which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and having entered into that behind the curtain,
Reference: Leviticus 16:2-3, 12, 15.
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The pronoun refers back to the "hope set before us" at the end of the previous verse. we have: Grk. echō, pres., 1p-pl. See verse 9 above. The first person plural might include all Messianic Jews or serve as a more personal reference to Paul and Luke. as: Grk. hōs, adv. an anchor: Grk. agkura, something bent so as to grab hold, anchor, usually in reference to a ship's anchor. Ancient anchors were of iron, provided with a stock, and with two teeth-like extremities often but by no means always without flukes (Thayer).
Only here in Scripture is hope likened to a ship anchor, a powerful metaphor. The use of the term "anchor" supports Pauline authorship since the only other mention of "anchor" in the Besekh is in relation to the ship on which Paul sailed en route to Rome and suffered shipwreck at Malta (Acts 27:29-30, 40).
of the soul: Grk. ho psuchē may mean (1) a quality of physical life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) the seat of feelings, desires, and affections. The third meaning is intended here. In the LXX psuchē translates Heb. nephesh (SH-5315), which may mean a soul, living being; first in Genesis 1:20. Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20).
In Luke's narrative of Paul's maritime adventure the anchors of the ship did not prevent shipwreck, but he had an "anchor of the soul." An angel had spoken to Paul and encouraged him with these words, "'Fear not, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted to you all those sailing with you" (Acts 27:24 BR). Paul kept his hope in Yeshua. Thus, the certain hope set before us is an anchor for the soul to which we may cling no matter what difficulties life may provide.
both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. sure: Grk. asphalēs, adj., "not subject to failing," certain, definite, or reliable. and: Grk. kai, conj. steadfast: Grk. bebaios, adj. (from bainō, "to walk"), solid or sure enough to walk on; hence, binding, firm, secure, unshakable, unalterable; fig. absolutely dependable. As MacLaren comments a sure anchor is one which does not drag and is not too light for the ship that rides by it. Its flukes take firm hold of the sea bed. An anchor which is steadfast, or 'firm,' is one that will not break, but is strong in its own substance, made of good tough iron, so that there is no fear of the shank snapping, whatever strain may be put upon it. Thus, the ship's crew may trust to it.
having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. The present tense is used to convey a past event with vividness. In the LXX eiserchomai translates Heb. bo (SH-935), to come in, come, go in, go. The subject of the verb is explained in the next verse.
into: Grk. eis, prep. that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, alluding to the inner holy room of the temple. behind: Grk. esōteros, adj., the part that is within, inner, inmost. the curtain: Grk. ho katapetasma (from kata, "down," and petannumi, "to spread out"), that which is spread out downwards, that which hangs down, a curtain, specifically the inner veil of the temple.
In the LXX katapetasma translates two Heb. terms: (1) paroketh (SH-6532), the partition between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place (Ex 26:31, 33); (2) masak (SH-4539), a covering, screen, used of the curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy Place (Ex 40:5) and the entrance to the outer court (Ex 40:8). Both curtains in the Holy Place were made of "blue and purple and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen" (Ex 26:31, 36). See a diagram of layout of the sacred sanctuary here.
Farrar comments that the meaning of this clause is that the hawser which holds the anchor of our hope passes into the space which lies behind the veil, i.e. into the very sanctuary of Him who is "the God of Hope" (Rom 15:13). In addition, the description of hope having entered the Holy of Holies is not far removed from the idea expressed in other letters of having died with Messiah (Rom 6:8; Gal 2:20; Col 2:20; 3:3). Moreover, "You have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God" (Col 3:3).
20 where the forerunner, Yeshua, has entered for us, having become a high priest "forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
where: Grk. hopou, adv., in what place, where. The adverb refers back to the mention of the room behind the curtain in the previous verse. the forerunner: Grk. prodromos (from protrechō, "to run forward, run in advance"), adj., one who goes to a place in advance of others following. In classical Greek literature the term was used of military personnel sent before to take observations or act as spy or a scout (LSJ). The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. The Aaronic high priests never entered the holy place as forerunners of the people.
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). The English translation of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. 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?
has entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See the previous verse. The repetition of the verb affirms that Yeshua entered the holy of holies in the temple. for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the pronoun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The pronoun is used of the chosen people, the covenant community. Yeshua came to save his people Israel (Matt 10:6; 15:24; Acts 13:23; Rom 11:26).
having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 4 above. a 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 title implies having authority over subordinate priests. Here the title is attributed to Yeshua.
Paul alludes to the practice of the Aaronic high priest entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to accomplish atonement for the nation (Lev 16:2, 12-17). However, Yeshua entered the Holy of Holies on Passover. Saying that Yeshua entered behind the curtain is an understatement of the shocking drama recorded in the apostolic narratives that the veil in front of the Holy of Holies was ripped in two, from top to bottom (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).
Since the Holy of Holies was representative of heaven itself, the rending of the veil signified the fulfillment of the last word of Yeshua on the cross, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" (Luke 23:46 ESV). Yet, at the same time Yeshua's passage through the Holy of Holies functioned as the work of the high priest to complete atonement for the world.
Paul then quotes exactly the last clause of Psalm 110:4, having substituted "High Priest" for "priest." Psalm 110 is typically classified as a royal psalm due to the mention of installing the King of Israel, as well as Messianic due to it prominent usage by Yeshua (Matt 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43) and Peter (Acts 2:34-35). The psalm is attributed to David in its superscription. Both Yeshua and Peter affirmed David's authorship. The psalm contains two prophetic oracles (i.e., verbal revelations from ADONAI), reported by David under inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).
The two oracles provide the structure of the psalm. Verses 1-3 and 4-7 each consist of a brief introduction, an oracle (in quotations), and its expansion (Broyles 414). Anderson suggests that the psalm might also have been composed when David was recognized as master of Jerusalem (2Sam 5:6-10) (767). The psalm presents David's Lord as King, Priest and Warrior (Kidner 427-431). See my commentary on Psalm 110.
forever: Grk. eis ho aiōn, lit. "into the age." See verse 5 above. The Greek phrase emphasizes an indefinite futurity. according to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The third usage is intended here. the order: Grk. ho taxis may mean (1) a position or turn in an orderly sequence of activity, order (Luke 1:8); (2) arrangement for activity, order; or (3) a condition of being orderly (1Cor 14:40; Col 2:5). Danker assigns the second meaning to this verse.
The great majority of Bible versions translate taxis as "order," but some versions translate the prepositional phrase (kata ho taxis) as "like" to stress similarity (CEV, EHV, ERV, EXB, ICB, NCV, NIRV, NLV, WE). Mounce treats taxis as denoting a distinctive class of priests and the translation of "order" might cause the Christian reader to think of a religious order as exists in Christianity. In the LXX of this verse taxis translates Heb. dibrah (SH-1700), a cause, reason or manner, of which BDB assigns "manner" as the intention in Psalm 110:4 (184).
Originally a military term taxis describes primarily the arrangement of an army organization in descending rank, then the disposition or ordering of military elements for battle and then a post or place in the line of battle (LSJ). HELPS says the term properly denotes placing one member over another in rank. Considering the military origin of taxis the choice of LXX translators to use the term seems intended to avoid denoting a special fraternity of priests. Rather the term emphasizes the highest rank.
of Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek, a transliteration of Heb. Malki-tsedeq (SH-4442), "king of righteousness," first in Genesis 14:18. In the Besekh the name of Melchizedek occurs only in Hebrews. The fact that Paul uses the name eight times could have symbolic meaning, because the number eight signifies absolute perfection. Moreover, seven of the eight mentions of the name of Melchizedek in Hebrews contains a reference to his priestly office (5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 11, 15, 17).
By mentioning the "order of Melchizedek" Paul returns to the subject he introduced in the previous chapter (5:6, 10). Recounting the Tanakh references to Melchizedek is important to establishing the fact that the priesthood of Yeshua is qualitatively better than the priesthood descended from Aaron. The association of Yeshua with Melchizedek is explained in more depth in the next chapter.
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.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
Bengel: Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), Gnomon of the New Testament (1742). 5 vols. Trans. by Marvin Vincent. T&T Clark, 1860. Online.
Benson: Joseph Benson (1748-1821), Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Chrysostom: John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Oxford Edition. ed. Philip Schaff; trans. J. Walker, et. al. (Online)
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Davies: W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. rev. ed. Harper Torchbooks, 1967.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
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.
Farrar: Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), Hebrews, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Faussett: A.R. Faussett, The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. 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.
Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hippolytus: Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. Online.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
MacLaren: Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910), Expositions of Holy Scripture (1904). 11 vols. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1959. Online.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Hebrews," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
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.
Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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