Hebrews

1:5-14

A Narration of Fact, 1:5-14

Christ is a suitable high priest

Argument

This passage consists of seven scriptural citations, primarily from the Psalms, made up of divine proclamations to, or about, the Son. The citations serve to establish the Son's preexistence, divine status (synonymous with / equal to God), and messianic significance (as the anointed one, the chosen one, he fulfills all of Israel's messianic hopes as people, prophet, priest and king). So, our author establishes the Son's superiority, that he is far more exalted than all other heavenly beings.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-4.

 

ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, Christ is a suitable hight priest, presents as follows:

Jesus is superior to the angels, v5-14:

He is the royal heir, v5-6:

Psalm 2:7;

2 Samuel 7:14;

Deuteronomy 32:43;

He is both powerful and divine, v7-12:

Psalm 104:4;

Psalm 45:6-7;

Psalm 102:35-27;

He is God's exalted one, v13-14.

Psalm 110:1.

 

The classical rhetorical approach adopted by Watson (Rhetorical) and others seems best to explain the structure of Hebrews, which, as a piece of literature, functions as a "word of exhortation", 13:22. In the classical rhetorical schema, a narration, narratio, follows the Introduction, exordium, with a proposition, probatio, (Heb.2:5-9) following the narration. The narration sets out the facts upon which the argument (the body of the sermon/speech) advances, so in Hebrews, 1:5-14 is possibly a narration. Yet, there seems little agreement as to whether the narration is present in Hebrews, or if present, its extent, eg. Von Soden, 4:14-6:20; Backhaus, 1:5-4:13; Spicq, 1:5-6:20; Nissila, 1:5-2:18, cf. Koester.

 

iv] Interpretation:

As a series of scriptural citations from the Septuagint (Gk. OT.), the passage supports the summary statement of the person and work of "the Son" outlined in the Introduction, v1-4, and upon which the argument of this "word of exhortation" advances. The texts, most originally addressed to Israel, are now addressed to the Son and those who stand with him, namely the house / household of God. The texts establish the Son's royal reign, v5-6, his creative power and deity, v7-12, and his exaltation, v13-14. It is upon these facts that our author establishes his proposition (the effectiveness of Christ's high-priestly role - his "suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone", v9), which is advanced in the main argument covering 2:10-12:29.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 1:5

Jesus is superior to the angels, v5-14: i] He is the royal heir, v5-6. Our author mentioned Christ's superiority over angels in v4 and so working off this thought, he now sets out to establish the eternal divine status of Jesus, the Son of God. Of all heavenly beings, the Son is transcendent, thus his death on our behalf can be relied on, cf. 2:9. The status of the Son is established in seven quotations. First, Psalm 2:7. Christ is God's unique Son, king of the universe. Second, 2 Samuel 7:14. Christ is God's eternal unique Son, born of the seed of David, who has established a royal throne that will endure for ever. Third, Deuteronomy 32:43, "let the sons of God worship him, ..... let all the angels of God ascribe strength to him." The Son of God receives universal worship, even from the angels; he is honored as the Father is honored.

gar "for" - Probably resumptive, serving to introduce the next unit of the "sermon", so "to which of the angels did God say.....?", Barclay. The question expects the answer "none". Although the plural title "sons of God" is at times used for the angels in scripture, here the comparison is with "the Son of God" singular.

twn aggelwn (oV) "of the angels" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive. The mention of angels here and in v13-14 sounds strange to our ears. The Old Testament only rarely mentions angels, but during the intertestamentary period the place of angels within the faith of Israel increased in importance. As the holiness of God was emphasized, so a need grew for intermediaries between God and mankind. This, plus the influence of pagan religions, increased the prominence of angelic mediators. Hebrews declares the direct mediation of the Son between God the Father and mankind, and this apart from angels. Bruce argues that the scriptural citations serve to show "that the Son of God is superior to the angels", but such a limited purpose seems unlikely, see above. None-the-less, the citations do serve to establish the heavenly status of the Son, a status that is far above all other heavenly creatures.

 

i] Psalm 2:7. Treated as a messianic Psalm and this because the promise of universal rule was not attained by any of Israel's kings. The point being that Christ is God's unique Son, king of the universe.

uiJoV mou ei\ su "you are my Son" - The quote speaks of God's son Israel (encapsulated in the king = son) inheriting the nations. Only the messianic Son can claim universal kingship and thus the Psalm came to be viewed as messianic. The pronouns are emphatic.

shmeron adv. "today" - this day. Adverb of time. Christ has eternally been the Son of God, but here referring to the day of his exaltation and enthronement when "he was vested with His royal dignity as Son of God", Bruce.

gegennhka (gennaw) perf. "[I] have become [your] father" -Have begotten. The perfect expressing a completed state. The Father has given the Son birth in the sense of consigning universal reign to him. As to when, most commentators opt for the resurrection of Christ, cf. Rom.1:4.

 

ii] 2 Samuel 7:14. Nathan's word to David, at the time when he wanted to build a house for the ark of God, promising the establishment of an enduring dynasty. Partly fulfilled in Solomon, but later treated as a messianic text, only properly fulfilled in the coming messiah, Isa.55:4, Mic.5:2, Ezk.21:27. Christ is God's eternal unique Son, born of the seed of David, who has established a royal throne that will endure for ever.

palin "again" - Often just used to introduce a quote.

autw/ dat. pro. "[I will be] his" - [I will be] to him. Dative of interest, advantage / indirect object.

eiV patera "Father" - to [a Father]. "Hebraism equivalent to the predicative nominative", Ellingworth.

 
v6

Ellingworth suggests that the opening clause of this verse is also possibly alluding to an Old Testament text, eg. Ex.3:8, Deut.6:10, 11:29, providing the implied meaning "In the past, God brought his own people out of the desert into the inhabited land of Canaan. Now he has brought Christ out of death in the glory of the heavenly assembly."

 

iii] Deuteronomy 32:43 (pos. Ps.97:7, ....), "let the sons of God worship him, ..... let all the angels of God ascribe strength to him." The Son of God rightly receives universal worship, even from the angels. In the original setting of the text, adoration is directed toward the God of Israel, but here it is to the Son. Probably nothing more is intended than the Son should rightly be honored as the Father is honored.

palin "again" - Introducing a quotation, as above.

o{tan + subj. "When [God brings]" - when [he may bring]. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, although being aorist a particular point in time may be intended, "a definite action in the future", Turner.

eisagagh/ (eisagw) aor. subj. "brings" - he brings into. The aorist is punctiliar expressing a singular action. Note that Westcott thinks that this action refers to Christ's parousia, "when he brings the firstborn into the world a second time." Luther argued for the incarnation ("when he led his firstborn son onto the stage of world history", Barclay), but most modern scholars argue for the Father "inducting him (the Son) into heaven at his enthronement", Ellingworth.

ton prwtotokon adj. "his firstborn" - the firstborn. Adjective functioning as a substantive. Here "a title of honor expressing priority of rank", Lane, cf. Ps.89:27, the firstborn is "the highest of the kings of earth."

thn oikoumenhn (h) "[into] the world" - Usually in the sense of the inhabited world. This text would then refer to the incarnation, which is why it is used as an alternate Christmas epistle. As noted above, the second coming may be intended and so again "the world of human habitation", so Westcott. Lane argues that the reference to the world here is to "the heavenly world" which Christ entered following his death and resurrection. So, Christ is brought by the Father in heaven, to his right hand, "to the place of angels in the divine administration of the universe", Bruce.

legei (legw) pres. "he says" - The present tense is durative reflecting the nature of speech, rather than temporal, so "he said", TEV. The sense is "as is written in the book of Deuteronomy."

proskunhsatwsan (proskunew) aor. imp. "let [all God's angels] worship" - let [all angels of God] do obeisance. "Let all God's angels pay him homage", REB.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object.

 
v7

ii] Jesus is both powerful and divine v7-12: The fourth text used to reveal the character of Jesus and thus superiority over angels is Psalm 104:4. Angels are wondrous beings, but the Son outshines them. At the time when Hebrews was written, the awesome nature of God was being emphasized and so people looked to angels to mediate between God and humanity. So yes, angels are indeed wondrous beings, ministering to God's people in their times of need, but they do not compare with the Son. The fifth text, Psalm 45:6-7. Unlike the angels, who are "subject to time and tide, change and decay, the throne of God's Son endures for ever ..... (and is) characterized by perfect righteousness", Bruce. When it comes to the Son, he "is no usurper, but is anointed by God", Hering. The sixth text, Psalm 102:25-27. The Son is eternal and unchanging. The universe had its beginning at the hand of the Lord, and so it will have its end, rolled up like a worn-out old piece of clothing. Yet, the Son will survive the disappearance of our universe for he is eternal, he possesses God's immutable character.

men ....... de ..... "-" - Adversative comparative construction; "on the one hand .......... (v8) but on the other hand".

proV + acc. "[in speaking] of [the angels]" - to, toward. Here expressing the not-so-common sense of reference; "concerning /about." "When God speaks about the angels he says", CEV. Although "to" is still possible, as in v8 ....; "and to the angels he says", Koester.

oJ poiwn (poiew) pres. part. "he makes" - the one making [the angels of him]. The participle serves as a substantive; "the one who makes ..." Probably not "makes winds/spirits angels", but "makes angels winds/spirits." The difficulty is cause by both "angels" and "wind/spirit" being accusative, although priority should be given to angels because it takes a definite article. Probably "makes his angels to be like wind", TH, such "that the angels are portrayed as executing the divine commands with the swiftness of wind and the strength of fire", Bruce. Possibly describing the evanescence of angels with the eternity of the Son, "the mutable quality of these angelic servants .... and the abiding quality of the Son", Attridge, "God can reduce angels into unstable elements of wind and fire", Koester; "who turns his angels into winds", Moffatt.

autou gen. pro. "his [angels]" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

pneumata (a atoV) "winds" - winds, breath, spirits. The parallelism of the verse gives the sense "winds", "winds / fire". These terms obviously serve to describe the angels/servants.

touV leitourgouV (oV) "[his] servants" - servants, ministers. Paralleling "angels".

puroV (pur puros) gen. "[flames] of fire" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "flames"; "burning flames."

 
v8

de "but" - See above. "About the Son, however, God said", TEV.

oJ qronoV (oV) "[your] throne" - the throne [of you]. "Throne" representing the Son's reign, so "you will reign as king forever", CEV.

oJ qeoV "O God" - the God. Possibly vocative, so "O God", cf. Zerwick #34. The original Psalm is an address to the king and his bridegroom on the day of their wedding so it is viewed as a Davidic Psalm, later regarded as messianic with God addressing the messiah and his people. In this citation the bridegroom/messiah is addressed. Even when viewed as messianic, the messiah is usually not referred to as "God", but in that he represents God it is possible to use the word in a subsidiary sense - a "royal messianism", Vanhoye. So, the writer of Hebrews may be referencing the Son "as God, for He is both the Messiah of David's line and also the effulgence of God's glory and the very image of His substance", Bruce. This may be expressed quite starkly as in the CEV, "you are God." Some commentators reject this approach arguing that the verse is paralleling the following verse giving the sense "your throne is a throne of God eternal", cf. Attridge, cf. RSV, NRSV, NEB, REB, ie. taking "God" as a predicate nominative. It has been suggested that at this point in the Psalm it may be that God himself is the subject of the address, although the text does not support this position.

eiV ton aiwna tou aiwnoV "will last for ever and ever" - to the age of the age. "Into eternity."

kai "and" - The variant autou "he" for sou "your" in "righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom", is possibly original given its awkwardness. If original kai would repeat the introduction "and about him God said", giving the next line of the quote "he rules over his kingdom with justice", TH.

thV euquthtoV (hV htoV) "righteousness" - [the scepter] of the righteous, upright, just. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "scepter"; "an upright scepter."

h rJabdoV (oV) "scepter" - scepter, staff. A symbol of power and thus the kings royal authority. Probably best translated "the upright staff is the staff of your kingdom", Koester.

thV basileiaV (a) "of [your] kingdom" - of the kingdom [of you]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "your kingdom's scepter."

 
v9

emishsaV (misew) aor. "hate [wickedness]" - detest [lawlessness, iniquity]. "You hate to see people do what is wrong", TH. The messiah's throne, as is God's throne, is characterized by perfect righteousness. "The messiah is personally devoted to those principles of equity and uprightness which it is His royal prerogative to maintain", Bruce. As "king of justice", 7:2, the Son's love of righteousness and hatred of sin is primarily evidenced in his "sacrifice and death", Attridge.

dia + acc. "therefore" - because of, on account of [this]. This construction is inferential rather than causal; "for this reason" = "therefore".

oJ qeoV oJ qeoV sou "God, your God" - There are two ways of understanding this double use of "God". The first "God" is possibly vocative "therefore O God", giving the sense that God the Father is addressing the Son as God, expressing a "royal messianism", Vanhoye, a "divine kingship", Kistemaker, so Ellingworth, Koester, Attridge, Bruce, Hughes; "therefore O God, your God has set you ....", REB. The second possibility is that the second "God" is in apposition to the first, "God, even (namely) thy God, hath anointed thee .....", AV; "I, your God, ....", CEV, so TNT, Cassirer, Barclay, Westcott, Wilson. There is no doubt that our author recognizes the Son's divinity, but the intention of the words here remains unclear. See v8, "your throne O God".

para + acc. "has set you above" - more than / rather than. Here establishing a comparison, "over and above", or just "rather than".

touV metocouV (oV) "[your] companions" - partners, companions, colleagues. In the original context it is stated of the Davidic king that he stands above his royal neighbors. Here it is usually understood of Christ standing above his brothers and sisters, ie. believers, cf. Bruce. Yet, surely the point is that the Son stands above all other heavenly beings. Wilson is probably right by arguing that it is not necessary to identify who these "comrades" are "since the quotation simply celebrates the exalted status of the Son."

ecrisen (criw) aor. "by anointing" - anointed. Followed by a double accusative, first se, "you", accusative object, and elaion, "with oil", accusative of reference / respect, giving the sense, "anointed you with the oil of gladness." Anointing, of course, as in the anointing / commissioning of a king, so "anointed for kingship", Barclay, even just "appointed you", CEV. It is argued by some that the "joy" is not associated with "an official anointing" to a position of authority, here the Son's messianic inauguration, but divine blessing upon his messianic rule, so "gladdened thee with prosperity", Cheyne.

agalliasewV (iV ewV) gen. "[the oil] of joy" - of gladness, joy, exhilaration. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting oil; "the oil which consists of / entailing gladness."

 
v10

Life is but a moment, a flash of energy in the expanse of time. Yet, the Son will survive the disappearance of our universe, for he is eternal, he possesses "the immutable character of God", Lane.

kai "he also says" - and. Possibly just "then there are these words", Cassirer, but in the LXX Yahweh may be answering the psalmist at this point, if so as NIV, ie. the words are God's.

kata + acc. "in [the beginning]" - at, during. Temporal, "at". The plural arcaV, "beginning", indicates a period of time as distinct from John's en arch/, "in the beginning", indicating a point of time. "Before anything existed", TH.

kurie (oV) voc. "O Lord" - Originally addressing the Lord God of Israel, "hear my prayer, Yahweh", but here referencing the Son. As noted above, the words may serve as God's address to the messiah rather than the psalmist's address to God, either way, the divine title "Lord" is being applied to the Son thus giving him a dignity above all other creatures, even heavenly creatures ("angels"), an "eternal sovereignty over all things", Attridge. So for our author, Christ/Lord is a divine messiah, ruler over all, a being complementary to God, although possibly synonymous with God, depending on the author's intended sense of "your throne, O God", v8, and "therefore God, your God", v9.

su "you" - you. Emphatic position in the Gk.

eqemeliwsaV (qemeliow) aor. "laid the foundations [of the earth]" - you laid a foundation. "Thou Lord, didst found the earth at the beginning", Berkeley.

thn ghn (gh) acc. "of the earth" - the earth. "Thou didst found the earth", Moffatt.

oiJ ouranoi (oV) "the heavens" - The created canopy over the earth, the stars etc. rather than the domain of God. "You, yourself, created the earth and the sky", TH.

twn ceirwn (eir eiroV) gen. "[are the works] of [your] hands" - [are works] of the hands [of you]. The genitive is likely to be adjectival, attributed, rather than verbal; "it was your hands which made the heavens", Barclay.

 
v11

apolountai (apollumi) fut. mid. "[they] will perish" - they will perish. "They will disappear", TEV.

diameneiV (diamenw) pres. "[you] remain" - abide, remain, continue. "You will always exist", TH.

palaiwqhsontai (palaiow) fut. "they will [all] wear out" - will become old, wear out. "Earth and sky will wear out, but not you; they will become threadbare like an old coat", Peterson.

wJV "like" - like, as. Comparative particle.

 
v12

elixeiV (elissw) fut. "you will roll [them] up" - you will roll up. "You fold them up like a worn out cloak", Peterson.

wJsei (wJV) "like [a robe]" - as, like [a coat]. Expressing a comparison.

allaghsontai (allassw) fut. pas. "[like a garment] they will be changed" - The word "the garment" is not found in the LXX and is obviously added by our author for balance. The phrase wJV iJmation is missing from some manuscripts, but is viewed as original by Metzger. "And they will be changed as cloths are changed", Barclay.

ei\ (eimi) pres. "[but you] remain" - are. The present tense is durative rather than referencing present time.

oJ autoV "the same" - As of God, unchanging. "But you stay the same, year after year", Peterson.

ouk ekleiyousin (ekleipw) fut. "will never end" - will not come to an end. "The Son shares fully in the Father's eternity", Ellingworth.

 
v13

iii] Jesus is God's exalted one, v13-14: The seventh text, Psalm 101:1. In verse 5 our author compared Christ with other heavenly creatures and claimed for him universal divine authority. Now, with this concluding text, he does the same. The Lord has been enthroned and the victory over his enemies is assured. Some angels do get to stand in the presence of God, but none have the right to sit in his presence and certainly not sit at his right hand. Unlike the Son, who reigns with utmost authority, all other heavenly beings are but God's servants.

de "-" - Functioning here to provide internal divisions within the paragraph, ie. v6-12 being the central unit, although also taking an adversative sense; "but to which of the angels has he ever said", ESV.

proV tina "to which" - See above for the sense "to". The rhetorical question implies the answer, "None".

eirhken (eipon) perf. "say" - has he said. The perfect, as opposed to the aorist in v5, indicates that "the perspective is now no longer punctiliar, but durative", Ellingworth.

 

vii] Psalm 101:1, "Yahweh's oracle to my Lord", again treated as a messianic Psalm and applied to Jesus. In verse 5 our author compared Christ with other heavenly creatures and claimed for him universal divine authority. Now, with this concluding citation, he does the same, ie. both form an inclusio serving to define the limits of the paragraph. The Lord has been enthroned and his victory over his enemies is assured.

kaqou (kaqhmai) pres. imp. "sit" - "Take your seat at my right hand", Cassirer.

ek "at [my right hand]" - from. Separation, "from the right side", ie. the side which exercises authority.

e{wV an + subj. "until [I make]" - until [I put, make, appoint]. Forming an indefinite temporal clause. The implication is that Christ's reign is limited, it is "until" his enemies are subdued. In 1Corinthians 15:24-28 the apostle speaks of the subjection of Christ to the Father after he has subdued all enemies. Most scholars (cf. Hughes) argue that, irrespective of Paul's words, Christ's reign is perpetual. It has been argued that e{wV an + aor. subj. identifies a period of time which extends indefinitely beyond the action of the main verb, ie. Christ sits and stays seated, even after he has subdued his enemies. It is unclear whether the grammar can sustain this argument, cf. MHT III, 111. Either way, the perpetual reign of God is assured and this harmoniously exercised within the godhead.

touV ecqrouV sou uJpopodion "your enemies a footstool" - Double accusative construction where the second accusative, "footstool", serves as an object complement to "enemies". The image is of the victor placing his foot on the neck of his defeated enemy. "Until I put your enemies under your feet", TH.

twn podwn (oV) gen. "for [your] feet" - of the feet [of you]. Usually translated as a verbal genitive, objective; "for your feet."

 
v14

ouci "[are] not" - not. This negation is used in a question expecting the answer "yes".

panteV "all [angels]" - It is unclear why "all angels" are particularly in mind. It can't be "all" inclusive of the fallen angels since Satan is not into serving anyone, other than himself. Probably "all" orders of heavenly beings.

leitourgika pneumata "ministering spirits" - Angels do not reign, as does the Son, for they are servants of God, functioning to serve God's children. How angels serve believers is unclear, but certainly not "to make propitiation before the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous", Testament of Levi 3:5. The use of leitourgikoV rather than diakonia may indicate a more spiritual ministry is intended, or even "they live to worship God in heaven and serve him by being sent on earthly missions for the benefit of those to whom God is to give salvation", Ellingworth.

apostellomena (apostellw) pres. pas. part. "sent" - being sent. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting / describing "ministering spirits"; "ministering spirits who are sent."

eiV "to" - to, into, for. Here expressing purpose; "in order to minister".

diakonian (a) "serve" - service, ministry. "Spirits in divine service."

dia + acc. "-" - because of, on account of. Probably "on behalf of / for [the ones about to inherit salvation]."

touV mellontaV (mellw) pres. part. "those who will" - the ones being about. The participle serves as a substantive; "those who are about / destined to inherit salvation."

klhronomein (klhronomew) pres. inf. "inherit" - to inherit. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the participle "being about".

 

Hebrews Introduction

Exposition

 

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