JOHN, JUDAH, PAUL & ? COMMENTARY SAMPLE PASSAGES AND VERSES

A Sample Passage from the Comments on Hebrews:

(The Letter of the Better)

 

This letter was written circa A.D. 67, according to the critical analysis of John A.T. Robinson (ibid.). It is not known who wrote it. From around AD 400 to 1600 it was considered by the western church to be one of Paul's letters. Traditions of Pauline authorship in the eastern church go back as far as the 2nd century (Warren A. Quanbeck, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, Ed. by Charles Laymon, Abingdon Press, 1971, p 897). Some scholars today think that the author may have been Apollos, others have thought it was Priscilla (and if so, then this was why it is anonymous), still others suggest it was possibly written by Priscilla and Aquila. Tertullian, in De Pudicitia 20 (circa AD 200), ascribed the book to Barnabas (a close friend of Paul) and asserted this to be "the common belief of the time" (Dr. Ann Nyland, The Source New Testament, Smith and Stirling Publishing, 2004 p 435). But there are also those today who regard this work to have come from the mind and spirit of Paul.

 

It is widely presumed that this was written to a group of Christian Jews (and/or proselytes) whom the author knew well, and who would have been familiar with the OT and the cultus of Israel's ceremonies and rituals. Harvey suggests that the recipients would also have needed to be familiar "with current Jewish techniques of interpreting the OT" (The New English Bible Companion to the New Testament, A.E. Harvey, Oxford University Press, Cambridge, 1970, p 686). However, Quanbeck notes that most scholars of his day saw "the arguments of the book as aimed at Gentile Christians, or at Christians in general, who are well acquainted with LXX, which was the Bible of the early church, but know little or nothing of contemporary Judaism" (ibid. p 898). Presenting us with an early, non-orthodox interpretation, Elaine Pagels informs us that "Valentinian theologians [second-century Gnostic Christians] give close attention to this treatise they know as Paul's letter to the Hebrews.... [and] read its theme – the superiority [which] the covenant Christ gives over Israel's covenant – as a clear exposition of the contrast between the pneumatic [i.e., spiritual] and the psychic [i.e., soulish] relationship to God" (ibid. p 141; bracketed additions mine). This is interesting, considering Quanbeck's statement of his era's majority view that this work was "aimed at Gentile Christians." The Gnostic exegetes regarded Paul's use of the term "Gentile" to signify "the elect," or "the pneumatics," and "that the terms ('Jew/Gentile') are not to be taken literally" – citing Rom. 2:28f, that "He is not a Jew, who is one outwardly... he is a Jew who is one inwardly" (Pagels, ibid. p 6, 7).

 

We will consider the central theme as being the supremacy of the new arrangement under the Priesthood of the Messiah. The idea of "better," or "superior," (expressed 15 times in the letter) ranges from the manner through which God's Word comes to humanity (1:1-4), to contrast with the agents used in the past and with the Aaronic priesthood (1:5-7:28), to the superior work of the new Chief Priest (under the better covenant – ch. 8, better sanctuary – 9:1-12, and better sacrifice – 9:13-10:18). The writer's arguments are grounded on references to the OT throughout this work. A treatise on "faith" is given in 11-12. Exhortations and encouragements are sprinkled from 10, on, with 13 addressing practical issues, then ending with a benediction and personal remarks.

 

Barclay points out that "The community to whom it was written was not new to the Christian faith; they ought to have been mature (5:12)..." (The Daily Study Bible Series, The Letter to the Hebrews, Revised Ed., William Barclay, The Westmister Press, 1976, p 5). He further comments that "Hebrews demands such a knowledge of the OT that it must always have been a book written by a scholar for scholars" (ibid. p 7). "His combination of literary skill and pastoral concern has produced some of the most eloquent and moving passages in the NT" (Quanbeck, ibid. p 897). "In form the epistle appears more like a sermon than a letter. The style is oratorical, the argumentation logical, the literary structure elaborate" (A.M. Stibbs, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, Ed. by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1970, p 1192).

 

With the historical context in mind, and an open mind in regard to the opinions, speculations and traditions of the scholars, let us eagerly unpack this marvelous letter to a 1st century called-out community.

Chapter 1

 

1. Long ago (or: In the old days), in many parts (or: fragments; divided portions; = bit by bit) and in much-traveled ways consisting of many turns and directions, God, having spoken to (or: by; in; with) the fathers – in (= through; in [the words of]) the prophets –

Our author begins by immediately accessing Israel's history and the writings which are commonly called the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible. We see that even in the first century folks did not consider this to be monolithic literature or tradition. It was recorded in "fragments; divided portions," or, "in many parts," or as my paraphrase indicates: "bit by bit." By reading this corpus we find that it is attributed to many writers, as well. God spoke to, and in, a variety of people that came from a variety of backgrounds in Israel's society, and the messages were for a variety of periods in their history and spoke to a variety of situations.

 

The "much-traveled ways" refers to the long history which consisted of the many lives (figured by the term "ways") that were walked out. Those lives, and the life of Israel as a whole, had "many turns and directions" – it was not a straight path from point A to point B. As the mountains and hills turn the direction of a river, so the surrounding nations often directed the flow of Israel's life. Still, "all rivers run to the (or: a) sea" and the path of Israel ended up in the sea of humanity.

 

God (Yahweh) spoke to, by, and with the fathers (Israel's ancestors) in, or through, the prophets, and the OT records their words. But with the coming of the Messiah, this all changed:

 

2. upon [the] last of these days spoke to us in a Son whom He placed (or: sets) [as; to be] Heir of all (or: One who receives all humanity as an allotment; or: heir of all things; or: One who received everything as his allotted inheritance) through Whom He also made the ages (or: formed and constructed the various designated periods of time [which compose existence, as well as God's influence and activities]);

 

Notice the phrase "[the] last of these days" – it was the last days of the history of Israel, the last days of the old arrangement (or: covenant), the last days of the old "creation," the last days of that particular age. During these days, Jesus was born and in the last years of His life He became Israel's Messiah, in Greek called "the Christ (or, literally: Anointed One)." God, His Father, "placed" His Son as "Heir of all (One who receives all humanity as an allotment; heir of all things)." The word "all" (panto n) is both masculine and neuter, so the parenthetical expansion gives both renderings: "all humanity" and "all things." All means all. Sadly, traditional Christianity has missed this fact. It picked up the idea of exclusiveness which Israel had adopted for itself, and made this view its own.

 

And in those days of Jesus, and later through His anointed sent-forth representatives, God "spoke" into existence a new arrangement (or: covenant) "in a Son." It is thus that Paul so frequently uses the phrase "in Christ," for as the old creation came about by the Word (Logos) of God so this new one came about through the Words of His Son. And with this, everything changed. The old passed away, and the new (the creation, age and economy in the Spirit – or, in Christ) came into existence (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5).

 

It was through His Son that God "made... the ages; formed and constructed the various designated periods of time." We see a more inclusive view in John 1:3, where this Son is identified as God's Logos: His Thought, Reason, Idea, Word, Message, and "All things (or: All humanity; [The] whole) come to be (or: was at some time birthed; occur; or: came to be; were birthed; or: suddenly happened) through and by means of It (i.e., the Word; or: Him)." Note the verb "come to be" and the alternative rendering: this is the timeless fact tense, the indefinite aorist.

 

3. Who, continuously being an effect of the radiance from

(or: a result from a dawning and breaking forth of the bright light of the Day which is; a result of the outshining which is; an effulgence from; an effect of an off-shining [light]-beam belonging to; or: a result of a reflection of) the Glory and Splendor as well as an exact impress (or: exact likeness as from a stamp or a die; or: a carving) of His substructure (or: of His substance [that is] standing under as a foundation; which is the underlying support of His outward form and properties; from His sub-placing; or: from His assumed groundwork of the full expression [of His idea]) besides continuously bearing (or: and while progressively carrying; and then repeatedly bringing) the whole (all things; everything and all existence) by the gush-effect which is His power

(or: in the result of the flow from the power which is Him; or: with the saying pertaining to His ability; in the spoken declaration of, and which has the character of and its source in, His power and ability) through and by means of Himself – in producing a cleansing of (or: after making a ritual purification in regard to) the failures (the misses of the target; the mistakes and errors; or: a clearing by pruning which pertains to the sins) He at once seated Himself within [the] right part (or: hand; = in union with the receiving aspect, honored position and place of power) of the Greatness centered and resident within high places.

 

This verse presents a very high view of the Son. Here He is not the peasant Jewish rabbi of Bruce Chilton's Rabbi Jesus (Image Books, 2000). The writer of Hebrews differentiates Him from the prophets of Israel's history, but immediately shows Him to be an eschatological part of their story – its consummation. I will unpack the phrases and clauses of this verse and lay out the pieces so that we can drink long from them:

1) I rendered the predicate nominative ap-augas-ma in six different ways. The elements of this word (used but once in the NT) are ap: separation off, motion away from; augas: shining, radiance, beam of light, rays, a dawn or daybreak, light of the sun, or reflection; ma: effect or result. From this collected semantic range we have:

a) an effect of the radiance from the Glory and Splendor

b) a result from a dawning and breaking forth of the bright light of the Day which

is the Glory and Splendor

c) a result of the outshining which is the Glory...

d) an effulgence from the Glory...

e) an effect of an off-shining light-beam belonging to the Glory...

f) a result of a reflection of the Glory...

In a) we see that the Son is the Effect of the radiance from the Glory (rendering te s doxe s as an ablative) of God. In b) we see the reference as to the creation: the sunrise of a new day; an eschatological meaning can be taken as this being the dawning of the new creation and the Day of the Messiah – the new age. In c) we see the Son as the result of the outshining (movement; action; radiance) of God, and the Son IS the glory (rendering te s doxe s in apposition). In d) the Son is an effulgence that comes from the Glory. In e) the Son is the Glory's effect of an off-shining – a light-beam of and from the Glory. In f) the Son is a result of a reflection of the Glory: the Glory reflects and produces the Son. There is much to ponder here.

 

2) The Glory and Splendor is a manifestation which calls forth praise to God.

3) The exact impress takes us back to the creation of humanity in God's image. Here, we have an exact impress – a likeness as from a stamp or a die (this latter being made with a blow – symbolic of what Jesus went through for humanity, an echo of Isa. 53:5, 10). The Son is what a human should look like, and this is the likeness of God's "substructure." This word is hupo-staseo s, and literally means "a standing-under" or, "a sub-standing" or, "a sub-placing" of Him. In Nahum 2:7 (LXX) it is used of the foundation of either the temple of Nineveh or of that city, and so I have the rendering, "of His substance [which is] standing under as a foundation." A related rendering, as apposition, is, "which is the underlying support of His outward form and properties," or we might paraphrase this, "His founding essence, the ground of Being." The last two options each present a different perspective of what our author is saying:

 

Taking the noun as an ablative, it can read, "from His sub-placing." This can be understood from the action of the blow which created the impress, or it could refer to His humbling and taking the form of a Servant (Phil. 2:7).

 

One of the meanings of hupo-staseo s comes from its use in rhetoric (a well-know communication skill in that time and area), and from this usage our phrase can be rendered, "from His assumed groundwork of the full expression [of His idea]," i.e., from what is taken for granted as the basis from what is being said. The Concordant Version renders this word "assumption."

 

Each of these renderings presents a different picture. Here our preconceptions may play a role in our interpretation of what this phrase is saying, or the Spirit may open up new vistas for us.

 

4) "continuously bearing (or: progressively carrying; repeatedly bringing) the whole (all things; everything and all existence)" speaks to His mission and goal. He is progressively carrying mankind to its purposed destiny. He is repeatedly bringing everything and all existence into balance and into alignment with His design and intent (working all things according to the counsel of His will – Eph. 1:11). He is constantly bearing the burden of the whole, all things – the entire cosmos – supporting everything, and carrying the sparrow. This may shed light on the previous picture of "His sub-standing" or "sub-placing" as He "bore our illnesses and was burdened with our pains" (Isa. 53:4) and "carried the failures and sins" (Heb. 9:28). Or, it could refer to His "remaining under to give support" (hupo-meno) to humanity.

 

Taken as referring to "carrying all things," Quanbeck comments, "Upholding the universe expresses the OT idea of creation as that of continuous work of God. He has not only made the world; he supports and sustains it" (ibid. p 900; emphasis original).

 

5) The next compound phrase begins with a dative noun, and ends with a noun in the genitive modified by the personal pronoun (Him/His) in the genitive. This presents the options of the following combinations:

a) "by the gush-effect which is His power." The word "gush-effect" is the Greek rhe ma. Again, the –ma ending means the results or effects of rhe - which speaks of a spring gushing forth from the ground, or something coming forth with force. I rendered "power" in apposition ("which is") and "His" as a possessive genitive of autou. I rendered the dative as an instrumental ("by") indicating that it is the effect of the gushing forth (which is an expression of His power) which is constantly "bearing the whole."

b) "in the result of the flow from the power which is Him." Here I rendered rhe - in another of its meanings: flow. I rendered "power" as an ablative ("from") and autou as in apposition ("which is Him"). I gave the dative a locative meaning ("in") designating the location (or realm) in which the bearing was taking place – in the result of the flow, from the power which is Him.

c) "with the saying pertaining to His ability." These last two options express the secondary, derived meaning of rhe ma (saying) that you find in the common translations. Dunamis in its genitive form is rendered "pertaining to... ability" with autou as a possessive "His."

d) "in the spoken declaration of, and which has the character of and its source in, His power and ability." Here I expanded the dative noun again as a locative, showing the realm of the carrying (in the spoken declaration) and gave both meanings of dunamis (power and ability), expressing its genitive form to show that the declaration has the character power as well as having its source in His power and ability.

6) "through and by means of Himself" is not found in all Greek MSS, but it is in p46, D2 and many other witnesses and is included in the Majority Text and Vulgate, so I have included it.

The bearing, carrying and bringing is all done through the cross of Jesus Christ and the work of the Son as He is joined to the new creation.

 

7) As I read the text, it seems appropriate to read the next participle clause with the main verb: "in producing a cleansing of (or: after making a ritual purification in regard to) the failures (the misses of the target; the mistakes and errors; or: a clearing by pruning which pertains to the sins) He at once seated Himself." It was in His producing a cleansing of the world from the failures (the mistakes, errors and sins) that He at once seated Himself as Lord of all. As Paul puts it in Phil. 2:

9. For this reason, God also lifts Him up above (or: highly exalted Him; elevates Him over) and by grace gives to Him (or: joyously favors on Him) the Name – the one over and above every name! –

10. to the end that within The Name: Jesus! (or: in union with the name of Jesus; in the midst of the Name belonging to [Yahweh-the-Savior]), every knee (= person) – of the folks upon the heaven (of those belonging to the super-heaven, or [situated] upon the atmosphere) and of the people existing upon the earth and of the folks dwelling down under the ground (or: on the level of or pertaining to subterranean ones; [comment: note the ancient science of the day – a three-tiered universe]) – may bend (or: would bow) in worship, prayer or allegiance,

11. and every tongue (= person) may speak out the same thing (should and would openly agree, confess and acclaim) that Jesus Christ [is] Lord (Master; Owner) – [leading] into [the] glory of Father God (or: unto Father God's good reputation; [progressing] into a manifestation which calls forth praise unto God [the] Father)!

And so, Paul's description of this event in human history (and in the history of God, for God entered into history with the Incarnation) gives a reference point to the following phrases, "within [the] right part (or: hand; = in union with the receiving aspect, honored position and place of power) of the Greatness centered and resident within high places." The "Greatness" is a symbolic reference to the "realm of God" (often called "heaven," which is a figure for the realm of spirit) and the figurative "throne" of His kingdom.

 

The sacrificial act of "producing a cleansing of sins" is a reference to the Messiah performing as the Chief Priest on the Day of Atonement (cf ch. 9, below). Here, "The author seeks to show how Jesus Christ fulfills the Levitical priesthood, thus bringing to light the reality which the priesthood symbolizes or foreshadows" (Quanbeck, ibid. p 900).

 

4. Coming to be in a so much stronger and better (or: Being born to a so much more excellent) [station; position; calling; relationship] than agents (or: messengers; or: folks who had a message), He has come by inheritance to, and enjoys the allotment in, a so much different Name (= designation) which has been carried through the midst, beside them.

 

The phrase "in a so much" is in the dative case, the preposition "in" seeming to be the most appropriate for the participle "Coming to be." Rendering genomenos "Being born" seemed to call for rendering the dative "to a so much." Either accurately carries the sense of the Greek phrase. In an earlier edition I had followed the lead of most other translators and simply ignored the force of the dative here, but now I see that it has an important place in understanding the text.

 

However, by expressing the dative here, from the text we are led to ask "in or to a so much stronger and better" what? Nyland solves this by bringing the word "Name" into an earlier place in the sentence, and gives a more idiomatic rendering,

"He became so much superior to the Messengers as the Name he has inherited is more

distinguished than theirs" (ibid. p 436).

This presents the core idea of the verse, but omits the sense of being "coming to be in" or "born to." To keep this sense, I have inserted some suggested objects for these prepositions – in answering the question, better "what?". The emphasis is not His "being" but on His "coming to be," as we see in the following verses and as we have seen elsewhere in His coming to be the Messiah, the King. The verb of this clause belongs to the word-family that carries the connotation of "being born," but its use has often prompted translators to render it "happen; occur." The root idea is to come into a different existence than before. We see this in Jesus speaking of Israel needing to be "born back up again from above" (John 3:7, where Jesus uses the plural pronoun, "you folks"), and He was not speaking of their physical existence. We see this in the Holy Spirit coming upon Him at His baptism by John when Jesus was anointed for His ministry.

 

He "came to be in a so much stronger and better" ministry than the fathers and prophets through whom God spoke in the past: He came to be Israel's Messiah and Lord of All. He came as the Branch from the root of David, birthed from Israel's olive tree (Rom. 11:17-18). This exalted place was a stronger and better place than that of the messengers that came before Him. He carried the Name Savior and Son. He "enjoys the allotment" of the Promise which He inherited from Abraham and for which Israel had looked for millennia. He was the promised Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15). He came to be the Elder Brother that would ransom His younger brothers (humanity) from their slavery.

 

A word about my rendering "agents/messengers" seems appropriate. These are the translated meanings of the Greek angelos, which unfortunately has been traditionally transliterated (i.e., a "letter-for-letter" bringing of the Greek word into English, without translating it) as "angel." From the context, beginning in vs. 1 and carrying on throughout this chapter, I submit that this word refers to God's agents, from Adam and Eve on through the prophets (who brought God's "messages" to Israel) and even David and Solomon who are referenced below. All of the OT came through His human messengers and agents.

 

John Gavazzoni comments, "And I would add that, following the writer's line of thought: His much more excellent position compared to the messengers, is that of being the very Word within/of their message. They were spokesmen; He was what was spoken."

 

5. For you see, to a certain one of the agents He once said (or: as an interrogative: in which one of the messengers – the folks having the message – did He once say?),

"You are my son: I have given birth to you today!" [Ps. 110:1]

And again,

"I will continue being to him for a Father, and he will continue being to Me for a son."

(or: "I will continually exist being in him, [proceeding] into a Father, and he himself will exist being in Me, [proceeding] into a son!) [2 Sam. 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13]

 

The earliest manuscripts (MSS) had no punctuation or diacritical marks, such as accent marks. Later folks who copied the MSS put them in where they felt they should be. Whether the word tini (a dative) means "to a certain" or "in which... ?" depends upon which syllable the scribe put the accent mark, when making a copy of the early MSS which did not have it. We know from these OT references that this was indeed said to one of His agents (not to some "angel"). As a question it would have been calling to mind the incident, asking, "in which [passage of Scripture] did He once say?" I have given both options, but I see the bold rendering as the correct one.

 

Now note the word "today." This is speaking to an earthly experience, not to an "eternal" experience within the Godhead. The second quote speaks of a new relationship – one that originally had the context of Yahweh speaking to David about Solomon becoming king over Israel. And notice the durative future, "I will continue being..." This was not an ontological statement, for God was always Solomon's Father. It was an affirming statement that God would be with Solomon in his upcoming position as the king of Israel, and of God's new relationship to him through his becoming the anointed king. So I suggest that the author of Hebrews is here bringing Christ into the story of Israel, showing that Jesus is the One of whom David and Solomon were types. He is the long-expected Messiah.

 

The parenthetical, alternate rendering prophesies a growing relationship between Yahweh and Solomon as he matures into being a mature son (the significance of huios over teknon – a child).

 

Ps. 110 was referenced by Jesus in Matt. 22:42-45. Scholars normally see this psalm as being entirely prophetic about the coming Messiah. However, as with most of the OT prophesies, and considering that this was written as a poem, the writer may have been speaking about David (as his lord) and about his time. The psalm is attributed to David, but this is an assumption. In interpreting the Matthew account, Jesus ends the discourse with a question. He was challenging their traditions. It may well be that He is now calling us to re-examine our own traditions.

 

6. Now again, when He brought the Firstborn into the habitable world He is saying,

"And so, let all God's agents (or: people with the message) give homage to Him (or: worship and reverence Him; kiss toward and do obeisance to Him; = show respect and give honor to Him)." [Ps. 97:7b]

 

There can be a tendency to read over these quotes and just move on, without considering the context from which they were taken. The first five verses are apocalyptic (a type of Jewish writing: figurative; symbolic; [note: based upon Lawrence Garcia's review of the following, I would recommend Frederick J. Murphy's Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World, A comprehensive Introduction, Baker Academic, 2012]) in nature, describing the activities of Yahweh in the earth. In vs. 6 the psalmist says that in response to His presence (vs. 5), "The heavens tell of His righteousness, and all the peoples (plural) see His glory."

 

Then vs. 7 reads "May all the servants of a carving be ashamed, the ones boasting in useless idols (or: things). Bow down to Him, all [you] elohim" (CVOT). Note that the quote of this verse in our text is from the LXX (Greek version of the OT), which regularly translates elohim with the word angelos, and thus our rendering here in vs. 6, above. Jesus used theoi ("gods," the actual Greek equivalent of the Hebrew elohim) in reference to people in John 10:34, where He quotes Ps. 82:6. The translators of the LXX apparently understood angelos to often refer to people, so they made this substitution when they understood the OT text as referring to humans.

 

So now look as Ps. 97:8, "Zion hears and is rejoicing..." and then in vs. 9, "For You, O Yahweh are supreme over all the earth [where He had just brought judgment: vs. 5], You are exceedingly ascendant over all elohim" (CVOT). In vs. 6 the context is "all the peoples" seeing Yahweh's work (in fact, vs. 1 says, "let the earth exult; let the many coastlands rejoice"); vs. 7a refers to people worshiping idols, then advises all elohim/agents to bow down, instead, to Yahweh; vs. 8 has Zion as the context; vs. 9 refers to the setting of "the earth." In conclusion I suggest that when we find the Greek word "angelos" in this letter that we think "human agent or messenger."

 

Now back to our verse here: notice the context, "brought the Firstborn into the habitable world." I suggest that the folks (the agents, the messengers) that are called to give homage are first of all His people Israel, whose story has been referenced by this quote from the OT. And now it is the followers of Jesus who recognize Him as "the Firstborn." This could also be a code word for His role as the Adam of the new creation (1 Cor. 15:45-47), or the Firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:29).

 

7. And then, on the one hand, to the agents (messengers; folks with the message) He is saying,

"He is the One making His agents (messengers; folks with the message) spirits (or: Breath- effects), and His public servants a flame of fire." [Ps. 104:4]

[comment: this is an example of Hebrew parallelism – the second line being a restatement of the first, but in a different figure; the figure is a reference both to the priests, as "public servants," and to the called-out community, figured as the lampstand in the Tabernacle in Rev. 1:20, and referencing Acts 2:3 – there being "tongues as if of fire" burning on the lamps in the one case, and upon the people in the second case; the agents speak a message of words that are "spirit," the effect of the Breath]

 

The comment that I inserted into my translation, above, will serve here as well to suggest insights into this verse. The psalm quoted is also set in apocalyptic language to describe the majesty of His works in the earth, so should be interpreted via its figures. Its use here should be understood in the context of this letter. For further insights into who are included as "His agents," see vss. 12 & 14, below, with the comments on each verse.

 

8. Yet, on the other hand, to the Son,

"God [is] Your throne, on into the age of the Age, and the scepter of straightness [is] a scepter of His kingdom and sovereign activity.

(variant rendering, with other MSS: "Your throne, O God, and the staff of uprightness, [is the] staff of Your reign, unto the chief time period of the Age.)

 

This and the next verse are from Ps. 45. These two verses are considered by most (and probably by the author of our letter, here) to be prophetic of the Messiah. However, most of the 17 verses can be read as applying first of all to Israel's king, as well as speaking of the "daughters of kings" and "honored women" (vs. 9), and of "the daughter of Tyre" (vs. 12), and then of "the king's daughter" (vs. 13-14).

 

With this in mind, let us ponder the two renderings on offer in my translation. Is the parenthetical rendering making the statement that the Son is God? It can be read that way. Note that there is no joining verb, and that I supplied "[is]" to make this quote a sentence, in English. It is the same case with the Hebrew text of the psalm. What we have here are two nouns, both with definite articles, in the nominative case. One is the subject; the other is the predicate nominative. The problem is that the spelling of the Greek words can also be vocative (from which we get the "O" before "God" in the parenthetical rendering). The question becomes, "Where do we insert the connecting verb?" And behind this question, "What did our authors mean?" The second half of vs. 9 argues for the first reading: still addressing the same one, it says "God – Your God – anointed You." Recall that Jesus said to His disciples in John 20:17,

‘I am progressively stepping back up again (or: now ascending) toward My Father – even the Father of you folks – and My God: even [the] God of you people!’

 

I think that what needs to be kept in mind is the context of this chapter: the Son becoming the Messiah, rather than it being an ontological statement about the Son – regardless of our personal understanding about the Son.

 

9. "You love fairness and equity in rightwised [covenant] relationships within the Way pointed out (or: justice; righteousness) and yet you hate lawlessness. Because of this, God – Your God – anointed You with olive oil of extreme joy, at the side of (or: = more than; = rather than) Your partners (or: associates; fellows). [Ps. 45:6-7]

 

The first statement would of course apply to God, but also to His Son, the Anointed One, who is made in His Father's image, as vs. 3, above, well instructs us. This is a clear picture of the "horizontal" aspect of the message of goodness, ease and well-being (literal meaning of euangelia – also called "Gospel"). It is the message that Jesus preached, and that Paul took to the non-Jewish ethnic multitudes. It refers to how folks treat one another.

 

And so here we see the reference to the human (in this case Jesus) being anointed by God's Spirit, as the Gospels tell us. His partners are people, and I suggest that this partnership and association is speaking of His followers, His called-out covenant communities. But He is our Lord; He is our King; He is our Chief Priest.

 

My first (the bold) rendering in the final phrase is the literal and the core meaning of para: at the side of; beside. But scholars suggest that it also has the semantic range of "more than" or "rather than."

 

10. And further,

"O Lord [= Yahweh], down from beginnings (or: in accord with ruling [principle]s), You founded (or: laid the foundations of) the earth (or: land), and the works of Your hands are the heavens (or: skies; atmospheres).

11. "They shall progressively destroy themselves (or: ruin, or lose, themselves) – but You continue remaining throughout.

 

12. "And all people, as a garment, shall progressively be made (or: grow) old. Then like that which is thrown around [as a cloak], You will roll or wrap them up as a garment, and so they (or: the same people) will progressively be made another (be altered; be changed; be transformed), yet You are the same, and Your years will not fail." [Ps. 102:25-28]

 

These verses are quoted from the LXX (Greek OT). By citing this psalm, the author uses verse 10 to access the creation story, recalling for the readers that the story of the Messiah in this letter had its roots in the very creation itself, and in Yahweh (in the Heb. version), the Creator. In vs. 19 of this psalm, just before this quote, it is stated that Yahweh will look from the heavens,

"To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to unloose the sons of death, [so] that the Name of

Yahweh [would be] recounted in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are

convened together and the kingdoms come to serve Yahweh" (vs. 20-22, CVOT).

 

The recipients of this letter must have had a considerable length of time being Christians, for the author calls them to consider the former times,

"days in which, being enlightened (illuminated), you at one point remained under (patiently endured while giving support in) a great conflict (contest or athletic combat) of the effects of sense-experiences (results of emotions, passions, sufferings and things that happened to you)" (10:32, below).

I bring this up again to point out that these folks would most likely have been quite familiar with the immediate context in Ps. 102 (vs. 19-22) which led up to vss. 25-28, quoted here. It was the context of the mission of the Messiah. Verses 23-24 can be viewed as a foreshadowing of the cross.

 

In vs. 11, above, can be seen first a contrast between the impermanence observed in creation, and the fact that He "continue[s] remaining throughout." He can be depended upon, and looks from the heavens with the intent to send a Deliverer.

 

Verse 12 is a restatement of vs. 11, except that the subject has changed from "the earth" (or: "land") – which throughout the OT was a symbol for the people of Israel (cf Walter Brueggemann, The Land, Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith, 2nd Ed., Fortress Press, 2002) – to "all people" (pantes: masculine, plural, nominative). ALL people! "He will roll (or: wrap) them up as a garment, and so they (or: the same people) will progressively be made another (be altered; be changed; be transformed)!" This was more than the psalmist could see. It is God's new thing. This is humanity's destiny, because He is "the same" – cf ch. 13:8, below.

 

Dan Kaplan (in a phone conversation) pointed me to some OT passages about Yahweh's dealings with Israel that shed light on verses 11 and 12, above:

Isa. ch. 24 speaks of His judgments upon the land (= people) of Israel –

1. Behold Yahweh making the land void and evacuating it...

3. That land shall be voided, yes voided...

4. The land is mournful, it decays; the habitance is wasted away, it decays;

12. There remains for the city, desolation, and the gate shall be pounded to decimation.

18. ... And the foundations of the earth (land) shall quake,

19. The earth (land) will be smashed, yes smashed...

21. ... And for many days they shall be called to account.

23. ... For Yahweh of host will reign in Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem, and in front of His elders will He be glorified.

This is an example of apocalyptic descriptions of the use of the word "land (earth)" as a figure for people, and in this case God's judgment upon His people. Dan points us to another example of symbolic language in Isa. 34 that echoes the language of vs. 12, above:

4. And the vales shall be putrefied; all the host of the heavens shall decay, and the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll. All their host shall decay as a leaf decays from the vine...

5. When My sword has been satiated in the heavens, behold, on Edom it shall descend...

This is all history and judgments of people surrounding Israel in OT times. Jamieson Fausset and Brown refer to this as "Judgment on Idumea." Of vs. 4 they say, "Violent convulsions of nature are in Scripture made the images of great changes in the human world..." (Commentary on the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1961, p 550, emphasis original). Next Dan leads us to places where "garments" are used symbolically of people. Isa. 50:9b speaks of the rebellious (vs. 5) and that,

"... all of them shall wear out like a cloak; the moth shall devour them."

And then there is Job 13:28,

"A man, like a rotten thing, he is disintegrating like a cloak when a moth has eaten it."

Garments are also used metaphorically in the following verses to which Dan leads us:

Isa. 59:17b "He shall put on garments of vengeance for clothing and shall muffle Himself

with jealousy as a robe." (note: all OT quotes from the CVOT)

1 Pet. 2:16 "continually holding (or: having) the freedom as a covering (or: a veil) of worthlessness (bad quality; evil; poorness of situation)..."

1 Thes. 2:5 " For neither did we at any time come to be flattering in word, according as you saw and are aware, neither within pretense (a held-forward specious cloak) from greed: God is witness!"

John 15:22 "But now (at this time) they continue holding nothing which like a

specious and deceptive cloak appears in front around their sin

(or: they are not continuing to hold that which is put forward to hide the situation

concerning their failure; they are not habitually having an excuse or pretense about their

deviation, error and miss of the target)."

 

"Jesus was wrapped up in the Law (His grave clothes, the wrapping, were the preparation for burial which was according to their custom – or, law). It was the Law that killed Him. But when He was raised from the dead, those grave clothes (figure of the Law) remained in the tomb, buried. After His resurrection, the stone (figure of the tablets of the Law and the stony heart of the old covenant) was rolled away" – paraphrase of Dan Kaplan.

 

In considering the clause, above, "shall be made (or: grow) old," Heb. 8:13, comes to mind, in regard to the old covenant and the Law which bound folks up,

"In thus to be saying "new," He has made the first (or: former) "old," and that [which is] progressively growing old and obsolete (failing of age), [is] near its disappearing (vanishing away)."

 

It was the old relationships, the old way of living and thinking, the old heart and the old "dead" existence under the Law that was wrapped about humanity in the body of Jesus, and was then buried with Him to rise no more. The grave clothes remained behind. It was a new humanity, a new creation that,

"He jointly roused and raised (or: suddenly awakens and raises) up, and caused [us] to sit (or: seats [us]) together within the things situated upon [thus, above] the heavens (or: in union with the full, perfected heavenlies; or, although neuter: among those comprising the complete and perfected heavenlies; among the ones [residing] upon the atmospheres; in union with the celestials) within and in union with Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:6)

 

13. Now to a certain one (or, as in vs. 5: Now in which one …?) of the agents (or: folks with a message) He once said,

"Sit at (or: out of [the authority of]) My right [hand; side] until I may place your foes (or: hostile ones) a footstool of your feet (or: = turn your enemies into your footstool [= a supportive role])." [Ps. 110:1]

 

This is the seventh quotation, which for a book filled with symbols may be significant. Seven was the Hebrew symbol for completion, and rest. So the Messiah now sits enthroned, His work finished and He has entered into His rest. But the Father keeps on working. There are many "hostile folks" that will each in his own class and order be brought to the place of support for the Messiah's feet. It is a picture of victory for the work of the cross. Also, keep in mind that a footstool is positioned right before the throne: in His immediate presence and now made useful to Him.

 

The whole of Ps. 110 is seen as Messianic, and gives a variety of pictures of the successful reign of the King, the willingness of His people, and declares Him a priest, of the order of Melchizedek – of whom we will read more in chapters to come.

 

14. Are not all people public-serving Breath-effects (or: spirits; winds), being sent forth unto attending service because of those folks being about to progressively inherit deliverance (or: receive the allotment of salvation, health and wholeness)?

 

We again have our word pantes as the subject: all people. He makes even the wrath of humans to praise Him (Ps. 76:10). As Ray Prinzing so often said, "He uses the interplay of good and evil for His purposes" (my paraphrase). God raised up Pharaoh to show forth His glory. He used Nebuchadnezzar to discipline Israel, and later called Cyrus His "anointed" (Isa. 45:1).

 

John Gavazzoni has made these insightful comments (in a private email):

"In verse 12, 'they' (the 'all people') clearly refers to the whole of humanity growing old as a garment to be rolled up and transformed. So rather than the 'all people' of verse 14 referring to that particularity of chosen agents back in verse 7, the writer expands the concept of divine agency, affirming that, though those of verse 7 are undeniably quite particularly chosen agents, in fact 'all people' are also. If the whole context is read out loud, with when coming to 'all people' we emphasize (as I think the writer intends) 'ALL,' we get the expansiveness of his thought. What I think I'm hearing is that while of course the few called-out agents and/or called-out community serve the whole of humanity, in turn, 'all people' inescapably, even though negatively, are instrumental in/toward the transformation of the called-out. This seems to fit that note that the Spirit has over and over sounded to me of the interdependent factor of our deliverance. Not only are we interdependent within the body of Christ (the present, believing representation of the whole of humanity's like-destiny), but our interdependence extends to all 'our brethren in the world' (If that's the right phrase to distinguish between the presently believing community, and the not-yet-believing, but destined-to-be community)."

 

With the coming of the Reformation and the teaching on "the priesthood of the believer," everyone was seen to have an important vocation ("calling") within the communities. The farmer, the carpenter, the baker, etc., all had important "callings" from God – all were necessary to support society and were a part of God's kingdom. But specifically in this verse, the whole body of Christ is seen – the partners of Jesus – who are "being sent forth unto attending service" to the called-out folks, and to the world.

 

We read in 1 Pet. 1 what the prophets (vs. 10) – the messengers of the old covenant – realized in regard to their messages,

"to which folks (or: in which ones) it was unveiled (revealed; disclosed) that not to or for themselves, but to and for you people, they had been progressively dispensing and serving them – which things are now announced (or: which tidings were brought back) to you through those announcing (proclaiming; bringing and communicating) the message of well- being and goodness (or: good news) to you within [or, with other MSS: by] a set-apart Breath- effect (or: [the] Holy Spirit; or: sacred spirit) being sent forth from [the] atmosphere (or: heaven) – into which things agents (or: messengers) are habitually and earnestly desiring (are constantly in full passion and craving) to stoop down beside and look inside, so as to obtain a clearer and more accurate view." (vs. 12)

 

And the agents referred to here, by Peter, refers to those such as Matthew, who brought in so many references from the OT that showed how Jesus was fulfilling Scripture. And even like Jesus with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, showing them all the things from Moses and the prophets that spoke about Him. All the writers of the NT, such as our author here, had undoubtedly pondered and perhaps even reviewed many of the writings before writing these letters to the covenant communities. Likewise, before going out themselves to tell others, the recipients of these letters may well have been like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11).

 

Chapter 2

 

1. Because of this, it is continuously necessary and binding for us to more earnestly (or: exceedingly) be continually holding to (attending to; applying one's self to) the things having been heard, lest we may flow (or: glide; drift) aside.

 

"Because of this" refers to what he has just said in the previous 14 verses. Like the letters of John and Judah (Jude) 17, the admonition here is to constantly hold to the original message about Jesus being the Messiah – "the things having been heard" – lest they be drawn back into Judaism or be led astray into one of the forms of Gnosticism that was invading the communities in that time period. If, as it is presumed, these were folks who had a firm grounding in the OT Scriptures, and were therefore probably in the Jewish religion before the coming of the message of the Messiah, this would not likely be written from thinking that they may "flow or drift aside" into things of society or the "natural life," but rather into the snares of the false teachers that had gone out into the world (cf 1 John). His emphasis is to hold to the message of the Christ and to the teachings of Jesus, while constantly attending to living out the message to where "... the lives of Jesus' followers are continuations of the narrative of Israel – the story to which the one true and living God has bound Himself, and through which the true and living God is bringing about the reconciliation and rectification of the entire created order" (Kirk, ibid. p 193).

 

We are instructed that "it is continuously necessary and binding for us" to do as the author has said. I have given the two meanings of this verb in the present tense, the first showing its importance and the second showing the force of the requirement.

 

2. For you see, if the Word (or: message) spoken through agents (or: messengers; folks with a message) became firm, and every deviation (or: side-stepping) and imperfect hearing (or: hearing amiss; or: disobedience) received a fair discharge of wages,

 

The agents/writers of the message were Moses, the historians, the poet/wisdom/song writers, the prophets – all of which became "the Law" and "the Word of the Lord" which had to be obeyed, upon penalty of judgment. This was the old, or first, covenant which created Israel as a nation, and throughout their history was the context that brought Yahweh's Word to the people.

 

3. how shall we proceed fleeing out (or: escape), in not caring for (or: neglecting) so great a deliverance (rescue; healing and restoration to health and wholeness), which – after receiving a beginning (or: a headship and place of ruling; a high estate; a principality [see Jude 6]) to be repeatedly and progressively spoken [of] through the Lord (or: by means of [Christ or Yahweh]) – was made firm into us and was guaranteed as valid by those who heard,

 

Verse 2 gives the background of Israel's history for a comparison, and now we see that God's judgments continue for us (1 Pet. 4:17) who have been grafted into their tree (Rom. 11:17). And since the original recipients of this letter were likely a continuation of that tree, they applied to them as well. Paul makes it clear that if our attitude towards outsiders is not loving, God will take action upon us, "For you see, since (or: if) God spares not (or: did not spare) the natural branches (the branches down from, or, in accord with, nature), neither will He spare you!" (Rom. 11:21).

 

Care is the watchword, not presumptuous neglect of what the message tells us to do: to love and accept others, "... to continue the ministry of Jesus, to embody the identity of Jesus to every corner of the world that God claims as his own" (Kirk, ibid. p 51). Or, as he put it in another place, "And the life to which Jesus calls us is defined by his own" (ibid. p 79).

 

They had received "a beginning." The noun is arche , and this first meaning would suggest that there was more to follow – indeed a whole world to fill with good news. History is replete with evidence of the growth of the kingdom of the heavens within the earth. But this word can also mean that they had received "a headship and a place of ruling; a high estate; a principality." This metaphor recalls Paul's image: that God "caused [us] to sit (or: seats [us]) together within the things situated upon [thus, above] the heavens within and in union with Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). And then there is the figure of the overcomer to whom it is promised "to sit (or: be seated) with Me within My throne, as I also conquer (or: conquered; overcome; overcame and was victorious) and sit (or: sat down) with My Father within His throne" (Rev. 3:21). They had been given the kingdom – the high estate and principality – through their union with the King and Lord of all.

 

Keep in mind the corporate sense from the plural "we," with which the author shows solidarity and participation. This is seen again in the last clause: "us." All of this – however arche is rendered – was given to us through our having been placed within Him.

 

The next clause, "to be repeatedly and progressively spoken [of] through the Lord (or: by means of [Christ or Yahweh])," was given first to the twelve disciples (a figure of the twelve tribes of the new Israel which Jesus was creating – now from a different mountain: no longer Sinai, but Zion; cf ch. 12:22, below), but this message of a new "beginning" (a new headship: Christ instead of Moses; a new creation – referencing Gen. 1:1, from the story of creation) was to be spoken again and again as it progressively unfolded through the unveilings given to His sent-forth folks and emissaries. After the resurrection and ascension, the message still came by means of Christ, but His mouthpiece was now His body.

 

Another view can be taken here. The word kurios (Lord) was the word used to replace the Hebrew Yahweh in the Greek version of the OT. All of the author's original hearers would have been aware of this (and some scholars think that the reason that the author used the LXX in quoting the OT was because the recipients would have been most familiar with the Greek version). With this in mind, the "beginning" which they received could have referred back to the beginning of Israel, or even creation. If this is what the author meant, then what was "repeatedly and progressively spoken through the Lord" may have referred to the OT Scriptures that came through Yahweh. Thus, this would be a continuation of the thought expressed in vs. 2. The message that the Messiah brought was a continuation of the story of Israel, but its consummation (its telos: the goal and end of the story). The beginning would have been the root of the olive tree, or the beginning of the story. The fulfillment of that story was "made firm into us and was guaranteed as valid by those who heard" – Christ's disciples, His witnesses.

 

Taken either way makes sense of what the author is saying. The first reading of this text focuses on the beginning of the new; the second reading focuses on the consummation of the old which in turn brought into being the new.

 

4. God joining with added corroborating witness, both by signs and wonders and a full spectrum of (or: various; multi-faceted) powers and abilities, and by (or: in) divisions (partings; distributions) of set-apart Breath-effect (or: of [the] Holy Spirit; from a sacred attitude), corresponding to His willing [it] and exercising His purpose?

 

This happened throughout Israel's history, and we see God's story continuing under the new covenant with the advent of Israel's Messiah and then with the giving of the Promise from the Father on the Day of Pentecost. The Gospels record the signs and wonders performed by Jesus and His disciples, and then the book of Acts continues the "added corroborating witness."

 

Paul speaks of the "divisions (partings; distributions) of set-apart Breath-effect" in 1 Cor. 12. Note that this is all "corresponding to His willing [it] and exercising His purpose." The noun in this phrase (thele sis) signifies an action, and so I expanded the rendering to show this sense of the word. God is very involved in bringing His will and purpose into being within His creation.

 

5. For, did He not align the impending habitable world – about which we continue speaking – under agents?

(or: You see, not to messengers, or folks with a message, does He subject the habitually occupied house – the one [which is] about to be – concerning which we repeatedly speak.)

 

With the understanding that God's agents are humanity (Gen. 1:27-27), as we also observe from history, it seemed best to me that this verse be rendered as a rhetorical question. However, if taken as a declarative statement, then the folks with a message would have been those agents that brought the Word to Israel, while He "subjected the habitually occupied house" under a Son. Still, it seems that the quote in vs. 6-8 argues for it being a rhetorical question.

 

6. Now a certain person, somewhere, made a solemn testimony (or: gave proof through thorough evidence), saying,

"What is a human, that You remember him? Or a son of man (= the human being), that You continually visit, inspect (look observantly at), help and look after him?

7. "You made him a brief time inferior, at the side of agents (or: alongside folks with a message); You crowned him with glory and honor (or: You put a celebration and victor's wreath on him in a manifestation which called forth praise with a good reputation, and for value), and then You set him down (or: made him to stand; or: = appointed him) upon the works (or: actions) of Your hands.

8. "You subjected all things (or: You humbly align and arrange all people) under his feet, in order to support him." [Ps. 8:5-7] For you see, in the [situation] to subject the whole (or: humbly align and arrange all), nothing is sent away not subjected (or: humbly aligned) to Him. Yet now we are not yet seeing the whole (or: all) having been subjected (or: humbly aligned, placed or arranged under [Him]).

9. But yet, we are continuously seeing Jesus – having been made inferior for a brief time beside agents – having been encompassed with glory (or: crowned by a good reputation) and with honor (or: in value) on account of (or: through) the effect of the experience of death

(or: Now in this certain short bit of time, we keep on observing Jesus – having been made less because of the result of the suffering from, and which was, death – now having been encircled with the Victor's wreath in a manifestation which calls forth praise and with esteemed respect, at the side of the folks with the message), so that by the grace of and from God (or: for God's grace; in the favor which is God; [note: MSS 0243 & 1739, plus a Vulgate MS and in the works of Origen, Ambrose and Jerome and quoted by various writers down to the 11th century, the reading is: apart from God]) He might taste of death over [the situation and condition of] all mankind (or: for and on behalf of everyone).

 

The quote from Ps. 8 and the explanation in vs. 8b-9 need to be considered together in order to come to a clear understanding of what our author is saying. The psalmist is accessing the Genesis account as he speaks of humanity in vs. 6-8a. So the question arises, who are the "agents" beside whom humanity was made inferior (vs. 7)? Who were the "folks with a message" alongside (at the side of – the literal meaning of the preposition para) whom God set this human?

 

I suggest that our author (as well as the psalmist) is speaking specifically about Adam who in the story of Israel is a type of Christ, the Messiah (Rom. 5:14b; 1 Cor. 15:42-50), the figure of humanity that is anointed by God's Spirit to govern and be King, and Lord of all. Bear in mind that the theme of our author is the Son, the Christ, and the theme of this letter is the Son's (Messiah's) superiority over the old order of the Jewish religion, and the old covenant that created Israel as a nation. And thus do we see verse 9 pointing us to Jesus. He was the One who was made to be "a brief time inferior," as He took the role of a Servant of humanity (Phil. 2:7) and of Israel (Rom. 15:8). He was a brief time in an inferior position as He submitted to the judgment of the Jewish leadership, and then to the cross.

 

So as vs. 8 states, we are not yet "seeing the whole (all) having been subjected to Him," but the reality is the One that we do continuously see by the eye of faith's conviction. The eyes having been opened by the Spirit and blessed (e.g., Matt. 13:16) see the kingdom, and the King "having been encompassed (encircled; crowned) with glory (or: a good reputation; a manifestation which calls forth praise) and honor (or: value)." This is a present reality. Our Father exalted Him to this position "on account of (or: through) the effects and results of the experience of death" – i.e., the cross. Or, it was "through" the effects of His death that resulted in the death of all humanity – for as Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:

14. for you see, Christ's love (urge for accepting reunion) continuously holds us together. [We are] deciding (discerning; judging) this: that [some MSS add: since] One Person (or: Man) died over [the situation of] all mankind (or: for the sake of all); consequently all people died (or: accordingly, then, all humanity died) – that He was encircled with splendor and value.

 

Now let us consider the alternate parenthetical rendering of the first half of the verse. First of all, "in this certain short bit of time" represents ton brachu ti with other meanings of their semantic ranges, puts them where they stand in the text and associates them with the main verb, rather than with the participle. Secondly, following a footnote in the Ronald Knox translation of the Vulgate, and seeing that the Concordant Version also follows this syntax, I associated the following together: "having been made less because of the result of the suffering from, and which was, death." Finally, I placed the location of "at the side of the folks with the message" to follow and be associated with the wreathing of the Victor.

 

The result is that the author and his readers were still continuing to observe what had happened in that "certain short bit of time" since the cross. In hindsight they observed Christ having been made less by His suffering and death. But now they were seeing Him crowned as the Victor over death (1 Cor. 15:54, 55) amidst glorious manifestations through His covenant community, beside which He has taken His stand. Recall Rom. 12:1b,

"... stand your bodies alongside (or: to set or place your bodies beside) [the] Well- pleasing, Set-apart (Holy; Different-from-the-usual), Living Sacrifice by God (or: in God; for God; to God; with God)..."

And He now stands beside, among and within His called-out communities (Rev. 1:12, 13, 20) – His agents within the earth.

 

The purpose for all of this was "so that by the grace of and from God (or: for God's grace; in the favor which is God) He might taste of death over [the situation and condition of] all mankind (or: for and on behalf of everyone)." The noun of the last phrase is pantos, "all" in the singular, so it means specifically "every human," or "everyone, individually," or, "all mankind" as a collective whole. His death was the death of every human being "by the grace of God." This is what grace looks like: God's love and favor – which IS God – covering every person so that Christ's death for sin was humanity's death for sin. Also, the realm that this happens is "in the favor/grace from God." Quanbeck says of this, "By his self-humiliation he identifies himself with mankind so that he becomes a representative man and what he undergoes becomes the experience of the human race" (ibid. p 901).

 

Because of the evidence from the early church fathers, as well as the manuscript evidence, I decided to include the alternate MS reading cho ris (which is by these witnesses given in place of chariti) – just for your information. This would read "apart from" instead of "by the grace of." The significance would picture Christ as having fully entered into complete solidarity with humanity in its being relationally "apart from God."

 

10. You see, it was fitting for Him – on account of Whom [is] the collective whole ([are] all things that exist) and through Whom [is] the collective whole ([are] all things that exist) – in, when and by leading many sons [note: a figure for all humanity] into glory (a good reputation), to finish and perfect the Leader who first walked the Path of their deliverance

(to bring to a complete state the Originator and Chief Agent of their rescue; to script the final scene for the Chief Conveyor of their restoration; to bring the Pioneering Bringer of their salvation to the destined goal) through the effects of sufferings and results of experiences [note, pascho means: to be affected by something - either good or bad; to feel, have sense experiences; thus, also: to suffer or undergo passion].

 

Why was it fitting for God to do this? Part of the answer lies in vs. 17, below, "He was indebted (or: obliged) to be assimilated by (or: made like or similar to) the brothers in accord with all things (or: concerning everything; = in every respect; or: in correlation to all people), so that He might become a merciful and a faithful (or: loyal) Chief Priest..." Another reason is found in ch. 7:19 where the same verb as here is used, but in regard to the inadequacy of the Law:

"the Law perfects nothing (brought nothing to its goal or destiny; finishes nothing)."

Then we read in 10:14,

"For you see, by one offering He has perfected (brought to the goal; matured; completed; finished; brought to their purposed destiny) on into the whole length (or: extended or stretched into the unbroken continuance) those folks being one after another set-apart

(separated; made sacred and holy; [p46 reads: restored back up again into the original state and condition; rescued back and delivered again; made healthy and whole again]).

And in 5:9 we see a similar statement to the purpose expressed in vs. 10, above:

"And being perfected (being brought to maturity and completion; being finished and brought to the goal of [His] destiny) He became a cause of eonian deliverance

(or: rescue, wholeness and good health and restoration to the original state of being which pertains to and has the character of the Age; safety and healing of and for the ages) for all (or: in all) those habitually giving the ear (or: paying attention; or: humbly and submissively hearing with obedience) to Him."

Furthermore, Jesus led by example. He tells us in John 14:6,

"I Myself am (exist being) the Way (or: Path), the Truth (the Reality) and the Life (or: = I am the way to really live). No one is presently going to, or progressively coming toward, the Father, except through Me (through means of Me, or, through the midst of Me)."

In Matt. 16:24 He told His followers,

" If anyone continues intending (purposing; willing; wanting) to come on behind Me, let him at once deny, reject and disown himself, and then in one move lift up his execution state (cross), and after that proceed to be by habit continuously following after Me!"

This is why I have chosen as the first rendering "the Leader who first walked the Path of their deliverance." Our life is to be the Path that Jesus first walked. Now, having been placed into union with Him, we follow Him on this Path so that "We are to be living stories of the crucified Christ" (Kirk, ibid. p 87). John tells us (3:16) that " in this manner God loves the sum total of created beings as being the Son: He gives the Only-begotten One" (optional rendering). And Jesus fills in the picture with the words,

"No one continues holding (or: having) greater love than this: that someone should place (set; lay; lay down) his soul (or: soul-life; inner being; self; person) over [the situation or circumstances of] (or: on behalf of) his friends." (John 15:13)

So this is why it was "fitting for" the Father to bring humanity "into [His] glory" (which the author in the next phrase equates to "deliverance, rescue, salvation, etc.") "through the effects of sufferings and results of experiences." This has, in fact, been the path of all humanity since Adam and Eve departed from the garden of Eden: suffering and all kinds of experiences that end in death. And Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 10:13a,

"No trial (or: ordeal; temptation; putting to the proof; effect of probing and testing) has laid hold of or seized you folks except a human one (something pertaining to the human nature and situation)."

But he leaves the Corinthians with a promise that comes to us through our Faithful Chief Priest,

"Now God [is] faithful, loyal, trustworthy, and full of faith and trust – One who will not permit (let, allow; or: let go; leave alone) you folks to be tested, tried, tempted or made to undergo an ordeal above (or: over; = beyond) that which you people continue having ability and power [to handle or endure], but to the contrary, together with the trial (or: ordeal), He will also continually make the way out (the egress; or: He also will habitually do the stepping forth from out of the midst; or: He will even progressively construct the out-come) to continually enable and repeatedly empower you folks to undergo [it] (to bear up under [it]; to carry on under [it], sustain [it], and lead on)."

I especially like the optional renderings of poie sei... ekbasin: do the stepping forth from out of the midst [of it]; progressively construct the out-come." Keep in mind here the corporate "you folks" and the plural verb "you people continue having ability and power" (dunasthe). Paul expects them to be working together as a community as they face the trials and ordeals.

 

Notice that our author references the purposes of God as being in an environment of "the collective Whole," or as involving "all things that exist." These many sons are the ones who are called to reflect His image to the aggregate of humanity, while giving their lives TO the world. The optional phrases regarding the Originator and Chief Agent (etc.) color in the painting of Who Jesus is, and the purpose for which we follow Him: deliverance, rescue, restoration, healing and wholeness, salvation for those among whom we live. We are called to be part of the group prophesied by Obadiah, "Saviors (or: Deliverers) will come up in Mount Zion..." (vs. 21), and that is where we are now (Heb. 12:22).

 

11. For both the One separating and setting-apart and the ones being separated and set-apart [are] all out of One (= spring forth from one Source). On account of which cause (or: motive) He is not ashamed to be calling them brothers,

 

A double meaning can be taken from both the phrase "all out of One" and the term "brothers." Verse 14a suggests the common humanity of the Messiah and His brothers, but the "glory" into which the Son brought the "many sons" (vs. 10) was in fact Himself when He created them to be His body, members of the Christ (1 Cor. 12:12, 14, 18), the covenant community. Paul further describes this oneness of Family in Rom. 8:29,

"... He also marked out beforehand (determined, defined and designed in advance) [as] copies (joint-forms) of the image (material likeness; portrait; mirrored image) of His Son (or: He previously divided, separated and bounded conformed patterns from the image of His Son) into the [situation for] Him to be (or: to continually exist being) the Firstborn among, within the center of, and in union with many brothers (= a vast family of believers)!"

 

Paul uses another metaphor showing our oneness with Christ which also directly speaks to the experience of His death referred to in vs. 9, above. In Rom. 6 which gives a vivid picture of what He accomplished in His cross, he says:

3. Or are you continuing to be ignorant (are you remaining without experiential knowledge; do you continue not knowing) that as many of we who are immersed (or: were at one point baptized) into Christ Jesus are immersed (or: were then baptized) into His death?

4. We, then (or: consequently), are (or: were) buried together (entombed together with funeral rites) in Him (or: by Him; with Him), through the immersion (baptism) into the death, to the end that just as (or: in the same manner as) Christ was roused and raised forth from out of the midst of dead folks THROUGH (through means of) THE GLORY (the glorious manifestation of splendor which calls forth praise; the notion; the renown; the reputation) of The Father (or: which is the Father), thus also we can walk around (or: we also should likewise conduct ourselves and order our behavior) within newness of life (in union with life characterized by being new in kind and quality, and different from that which was former).

Not only do we see "the glory" as the means of Christ's resurrection (and thus also, ours, since He lead "many sons" into this same "glory" – i.e., into resurrected life with Christ), but further we see that this "glory" is "out of the One" – i.e., out of and from "The Father," and indeed (reading the genitive as apposition) "is the Father." (As an aside, note Paul's corporate expressions in these verses from Romans) A second witness to this appositional reading is seen in the prayer of Jesus to the Father in John 17:5,

"So now You Yourself, O Father, glorify (bring a good reputation and a manifestation

which calls forth praise to) Me alongside Yourself (or: with the presence of Yourself) in,

by and with the glory (good reputation; manifestation which calls forth praise) which I

was having (or: used to have) and continued holding (possessing) at Your side and

in Your presence, before the universe (or: world and system of culture, religion and

government) is continuing to have being (or: had existence)."

So in both senses, "both the One separating and setting-apart and the ones being separated and set-apart [are] all out of One (= spring forth from one Source)." And in the reunion which Christ brought about, we see the picture that Paul gave us in Rom. 11:36,

"Because, forth from out of the midst of Him, then through the midst of Him (or: through means of Him), and [finally] into the midst of Him, [is] the whole (everything; [are] all things; or: = Because He is the source, means and goal/destiny of all things – everything leads into Him)!"

 

12. saying,

"I will continue reporting Your Name to My brothers; in the midst (within the middle) of called-out communities and gathered assemblies I will sing praise songs." [Ps. 22:23]

13. And again,

"I will continue being one having been convinced on Him." [Isa. 8:17, LXX]

And again [it continues],

"Look and consider! [Here am] I, and the young children whom God [= Yahweh] gave (or: gives) to me!" [Isa. 8:18]

 

So now our author reaches back into Israel's writings again, bringing up two passages that emphasize family: first "brothers," and then a "Parent-children" relationship. The work of God, and the work of the Messiah were to create an expanded Family.

 

The following is from a phone conversation in which my friend Dan Kaplan presented this fine tapestry: We see the story of Yahweh choosing Abraham (figure of the Father and whom Israel called "our father") and then giving him a Promise which was to come through a promised son, Isaac (figure of the Son in the story of the Messiah), who then brought forth a son, Jacob, who created a large family of 12 sons that became the 12 tribes of Israel, a figure of God's corporate Son (recall that God said of Israel, "Israel [is] My son, My firstborn" – Ex. 4:22). Jacob, like his father Isaac, dug a well which Jesus used as a metaphor for the water of the Spirit of Life and the new creation in the Spirit of God (John 4:6-14). The corporate body (Israel) which Jacob became is a figure of the body of Christ (the resurrected Israel) that was created with the sending of God's Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and from there, due to the work of the Spirit of Christ within the covenant communities, the Messiah's "children" have become a vast multitude of sons, and through them His kingdom is filling the earth (Dan. 2:35). The story is from one man, to a promise, to a large family, to a nation, and now to all humanity (with the inclusion of the Gentiles into the story).

 

Again, let us not miss the context of vs. 12, "in the midst of called-out communities [the new Exodus] and gathered assemblies [the new, all-inclusive Israel]." It all starts with "the One," but then moves into Family, the corporate body through which He reigns in the earth. In regard to the quote of Isa. 8:18 (where I inserted "[= Yahweh]" following the word "God") the reading is from the LXX, but in the Hebrew version the text reads "Yahweh," not "God."

 

14. Since, then, the young children have participated in and commonly shared existence of blood and flesh (= humanity), He also, nearly alongside [them], shared theirs in common (partook of the [ingredients] which comprise them), in order that through means of death He might render useless (or: deactivate; idle-down; discard) the one normally having the strength (or: the person presently holding the force) of death (or: which is death; or: whose source is death), that is, the adversary

(or: that which throws folks into dualism with divided thinking and perceptions; or: the one that throws something through the midst and casts division; the one who thrusts things through folks; the slanderer who accuses and deceives; or, commonly called: the "devil"),

15. and would set them free (or: could fully change and transform these; or: should move them away to another [situation; existence]): as many as were through all of life held within slavery by fear of death (or: in fear, from death: or: with fear, which is death)!

 

In examining these two verses, let us keep in mind the context and continuation of the author's line of reasoning. Vs. 14 picks up the subject matter of vs. 13, "the young children." The Greek is ta paidia: little boys and/or girls. The connotation of this word was either: a) one of age, i.e., an infant, a small child, or one of undeveloped understanding; or, b) one of social position, i.e., a household servant or an attendant – e.g., a "slave-boy/girl."

 

So we have another contrast between those that came before (the young children, or household slaves) and the new situation, a Son (huios). Paul made a similar comparison in Gal. 4:1-4 between a "babe" (ne pios) – where he says "also we ourselves [were], when we were progressing from infants to minors" (vs.3) – and "the Son" (vs. 4). As babes, humanity was under "the elementary things" – "being folks having been enslaved" (vs. 3), until "the effect of the filling of the time came," and "God sent-off His Son" (vs. 4). Thus, we see here that by using different words Paul associates the youth with the position of a servant, just as we see in the dual connotations of paidia here in vs. 14.

 

Next, we see that since these young children/servants "participated in and commonly shared existence of blood and flesh (= humanity)," that the Son also "nearly alongside [them], shared theirs in common (partook of the [ingredients] which comprise them)." In other words, the Son was also a human – became one of them (had common being and existence) in complete solidarity with their blood and flesh, or as Paul describes it in Phil. 2:7,

"... receiving (or: taking; accepting) a slave's form (external shape; outward mold), coming to be (or: birthing Himself) within an effect of humanity's (mankind's; people's) likeness."

The reason and purpose for this is stated in the last half of vs. 14, and in vs. 15. The Son became human so that He could die. His death as, and in union with, the first Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) and His burial of the first Adam/humanity (Rom. 6:3-8) accomplished two things:

 

1) "the one normally having the strength (or: the person presently holding the force) of death (or: which is death; or: whose source is death), that is, the adversary" was "rendered useless." It was not destroyed, but it just went out of service because of having become useless. The parenthetical expansion indicates that this verb could also be rendered "deactivate; idle-down; discard." What was it that was deactivated, discarded and rendered useless through the coming of the Messiah? What was it that had "the strength" of death? Again we get insight into this enigmatic statement from Paul, in 1 Cor. 15:

56. Now the sharp point and stinger of (or: the sting, thus, the injection from) the Death [is] the Sin (the mistake; the error; the failure), and the power and ability of the Sin [is] the Law.

So we see here that "the person presently holding the force whose source is death" is Moses, or the person that uses the Law. These who represented and used the Law were now "rendered useless, deactivated, idled-down and discarded." This meant that the old covenant, the sacrificial system, the priesthood, the purity codes, etc., were all rendered useless. Again, recall Paul in Rom. 7:

5. For when we [= Adam/Israel] were existing within the flesh (or: = in the old alienated Adamic existence, with the flesh sacrifices and markers of the Law), the effects, impressions, emotions and impulses from the experiences, passions and suffering of the failures (the sins; the deviations which caused misses of the target) the things through means of the Law [the Torah] – were continually operating (working within; energizing and effecting) within our members into the condition to produce fruit by Death (in death; to death; for Death).

6. But now (at the present time), we [= Israel] are (or: were instantly) rendered inactive (brought down to living without labor, released from employment, made unproductive; discharged) away from the Law (= the Torah; [some MSS add: of Death]), dying within that in which we were constantly being held down (held in possession and detained), so that it is [for] us to be habitually performing as slaves within newness of spirit (a newness pertaining to spirit and has its source in the Breath-effect; freshness and new quality of attitude) and not in oldness (obsoleteness; outdatedness) of letter (or: not in outwornness of what is written).

Notice what God was going to do to this "one" through the death of Christ: "might render useless (or: deactivate; idle-down; discard)." It had been of use, in its time, age and arrangement, but now no longer. The Law has been rendered useless and is deactivated and discarded. It had brought "fear of death" (15) and "held [them] within slavery" (cf Galatians, on the topic of slavery) and thus was an adversary to folks who were powerless to keep it. Let us pause here to look at the parenthetical alternative renderings of this word (dia-bolos).

 

This substantive comes from the verb ballo which means "to throw, cast or thrust." The noun bolis, which is derived from this verb, is a "missile weapon, dart, javelin, arrow, or anything thrown." The verb, when prefixed with dia- thus means "to throw, cast or thrust [something] through" an object – be it a person, or a group of people. What was thrown could be words, so that an associated meaning of this verb meant to slander or calumniate or defame – even inform against (Lu. 16:1). Our text uses a substantive of this compound verb: diabolos. Paul used this term in the second chapter of his letter to Titus:

3. Old (or: Aged; Older) women, similarly (or: likewise), [are to be] women in a state and resultant condition proper and fitting for being engaged in the sacred (suitable in demeanor for serving the temple; or: = living a life appropriate [for] a person [being] a temple), not folks who thrust-through or hurl [a weapon, or something hurtful] through [someone] (or: not devils nor slanderous adversaries which bring division and hurt), nor women having been enslaved by (or: to) much wine.

So, as you can see, this word (although traditionally translated "devil") can refer to people or systems within this life. Paul also used this word about people in 2 Tim. 3:3 right in the middle of a laundry list of vices and negative human qualities,

"without natural affection, unwilling to make a treaty (implacable; not open to an agreement), DEVILS (adversarial slanderers; folks who throw or thrust something through people to hurt or cause divisions), without strength (without [self-] control), uncultivated (wild; untamed; ferocious; fierce), without fondness for expressions of good or aspects of goodness (or: without affection for good people; unfriendly; averse to virtue..."

In our present text, the term can mean the following:

a) the one that throws something [e.g. an idea; a concept; a rule; a doctrine] through the midst and casts division;

b) that which throws folks into dualism (the root idea if dia is di, "two") with divided

thinking and perceptions; the Law itself created such a division – us, and them; right and

wrong; good and evil; sacred and profane; clean and unclean; Jew and Gentile; the Law

was an adversary to unity among peoples;

c) the one who thrusts things through folks;

d) the slanderer who accuses and deceives.

The high priest used the Law to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. The Jewish leadership used "their Law" (John 19:7) to make use of the Romans to thrust nails and a javelin through the body of Jesus. The false witnesses used the Law to accuse Jesus at His trial. The teachings of the scribes and Pharisees used the Law to thrust "sinners" out of their "holy" society and make them outcasts. And so it has continued, in religion, until this day. Rules become the adversary to humanity and are often the things that thrust-through the heart of love, bringing prejudice. We see Paul addressing the "rules of table fellowship" that brought division within the covenant community at Antioch (Gal. 2).

 

Jesus used the term diabolos to refer to Judas in John 6:70,

Jesus considered and gave answer to them, "Do I Myself not select and pick you out – the twelve – for Myself (or: Did I not choose you twelve Myself)? And one from among you men is a person who thrusts things through [people] (or: a devil)!"

Jesus also used the word satan when speaking to Peter in Mark 8:33. John, in Rev. 12:9, connects the words satan and diabolos with the apocalyptic terms "the dragon" and "the serpent." Both John the immerser (baptist) and Jesus referred to the Sadducees and Pharisees as offspring of poisonous serpents (Matt. 3:7; 12:34). These words were metaphors of people who were adversarial and harmful – in various ways.

 

2) "and would set them free (or: could fully change and transform these; or: should move them away to another [situation; existence]): as many as were through all of life held within slavery by fear of death (or: in fear, from death: or: with fear, which is death)!" By means of His death we can now shout with the prophet,

"Where, O Death, [is] your victory (or: overcoming)?

Where, O Death, [is] your stinger (sharp point; sting; goad; spur)?" [Hos. 13:14; 1 Cor. 15:55]

Or, as Paul said in Gal. 5:1, "For this freedom, Christ immediately set us free (or: [The] Anointed One at once frees us in, to, for and with freedom)!" Or, as Paul exclaimed in 2 Cor. 5:17,

"... [there is] a new creation (or: [it is] a framing and founding of a different kind; [he or she is] an act of creation having a fresh character and a new quality): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (or: went to the side). Consider! New things have come into existence (have been birthed; or: It has become new things; or: He has been birthed and now exists being ones of a different kind, character and quality)!" [note: cf Rev. 21:5]

 

Let us unpack the optional renderings in vs. 15. The verb of the first clause is ap-allasso . The meaning of the main verb is often given as: to change or to transform. In the first parenthetical translation I rendered ap- as an intensifier, thus, we have "fully change and transform." We find this concept presented to us by Paul in 2 Cor. 5:19 where he uses the same main verb with a different preposition prefixed to it, kat-allasso ,

"as that God was existing within Christ (God was and continued being in union with [the] Anointed One) progressively and completely transforming [the] aggregate of humanity (or: world) to be other [than it is]." This is the root of a person being "set free" from their fears. This is deliverance and salvation.

 

Looking at this compound verb from the core meaning of the preposition apo, we have the idea of movement "away from." The root idea of allasso is "other; another," so the resulting meaning would then be, "move away to another [situation; existence; etc.]." We find this concept painted for us in Col. 1:13, "He ... changes [our] position (or: transported [us], thus, giving [us] a change of standing, and transferred [us]) into the midst of the kingdom and reign of the Son of His love." This is rescue.

 

The last phrase of vs. 15 is made up of the word fear in the dative case, and death in the genitive/ablative. The bold rendering renders fear as instrumental, and death as the object of the fear. The next option presents fear as the location (in) or sphere, and death as the source of the fear (thanatou as an ablative). The last option offers us fear as an associate of slavery, and then defines this fear as BEING death (thanatou as the genitive of apposition). Each picture makes sense, and each offers us another glimpse into the predicament of humanity before the advent of our Savior.

 

16. For doubtless (or: assuredly; I hardly need say) it [i.e., fear of death] is not normally taking hold upon [the] messenger-agents (or: folks with the message), but even so it is repeatedly and progressively taking hold upon (seizing) Abraham's seed (= descendants).

 

The verb epi-lambanetai (taking hold upon; seizing), used twice here, does not have an expressed subject, so I (along with The Concordant Literal NT) have chosen "it" as the subject in both cases. It seems to me that the antecedent of "it" is "fear of death, etc." in the previous verse, and thus I suggested this by inserting this in brackets in the translation. However, "slavery" is another possible candidate for the antecedent. Others have chosen to render the subject "He," seeing the verb as speaking of "assisting or helping" Abraham's descendants.

 

From understanding the messenger-agents (or: the folks with the message) as referring to the prophets of God, or to His people who had embraced the message from God, I see our author saying that the fear of death did not normally seize or take a hold upon those who knew God and had faith in Him (David before Goliath is one example; the three young Hebrews before the fire – Dan. 3:17-18 – is another classic example). However, among the masses of Israel this fear had "repeatedly and progressively tak[en] hold upon [them]." This was, of course, also the case for all of the estranged and alienated peoples of the ethnic multitudes, but the focus of this passage is on the Messiah and the people of Israel to whom He was sent.

 

17. Wherefore, He was indebted (or: obliged) to be assimilated by (or: made like or similar to) the brothers in accord with all things (or: concerning everything; = in every respect; or: in correlation to all people), so that He might become a merciful and a faithful (or: loyal) Chief Priest (Leading, Ruling or Beginning Priest) [in regard to] the things toward God, into the [situation] to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins) of the People with a gentle, cleansing shelter and covering.

 

Because of the situation of humanity's "slavery by fear of death (or: in fear, from death: or: with fear, which is death)" the Son was obliged "to be assimilated by (or: made like or similar to) the brothers" in every respect – or, in correlation to all people (panta can refer to things, or to people). But the question arises, Why was He indebted or obliged to become a merciful and loyal Chief Priest? Does this imply that God owes something to humanity? He did "set up" Adam and Eve in the Garden story. He is the one that put the serpent in the Garden; what chance did they have? If Jesus "knew what was within humans" (John 2:25) did not God also know their vulnerability? Nonetheless, because of humanity's condition it was necessary for Him to be like us so that He can be merciful and loyal to us as our Chief Priest and "to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins) of the People with a gentle, propitiatory covering and shelter" so that other people will not shame us. This is what Love does, and it brings to mind the statement by Paul in Rom. 13:8,

"You folks are not to be continual debtors (or: do not be in the habit of owing even one thing) to anyone, except to be constantly loving one another..."

We, as image-bearers of God, are indebted to be like our Father – to love people. As the perfect Image of God, Jesus was indebted to be made like humanity in order to be merciful, like His Father, and to be a faithful Beginning Priest of the new priesthood that would dispense God's conciliation to the masses, and "to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins)" of the One new Humanity (the joined People of Jew and Gentile) – Eph. 2:15.

 

He removes our feelings of guilt, causes the effects of our mistakes to flow away from us, and gives us peace in our relationships with God and with others. He is our Counselor and our Helper. He reveals to us God's love for us, and through His agents (His body) He supplies our needs.

 

His solidarity with us was seen in vs. 11, above, where the author tells us that both He and we are all "from one Source." His work as our Chief Priest describes His ongoing service to us as He visits us – for the Chief Priest goes into the very heart of the temple, and we are His temple.

 

18. For you see, in what He has experienced Himself, having been tried in ordeals, He is able to run to the aid of those who cry for help – those being tried (put through ordeals).

 

Again we see Christ's solidarity and empathy – and His willingness to run to our aid when we cry out to Him. His experiences and sufferings as a human made Him fit to enter into our plight and understand what we need – as humans. Through seeing His indebted obligation to us and why He needed to go through what He did in order to help us, we can now understand why we are also indebted to others and need to go through the ordeals and trials that He sends our way.

 

In Rom. 1:14, Paul said,

"I am (or: I continue being) a debtor to (or: for; or: with) both Greeks (Hellenists) and to (for; with) barbarians (non-Hellenists: those who do not possess Greek culture); to (or: for; with) both wise ones and to (for; with) those without understanding (unintelligent ones; foolish ones; folks who lack sense)."

This word debtor comes from the verb indebted in vs. 17. The heart of the Christ was placed into Paul – and into us. We just need to have this understanding revealed to us.

 

….

 

Chapter 9

 

1. The first, indeed then, also continued having effects of rites and products of the way then pointed out (= ordinances and regulations for the right way to do things) in respect to worship and sacred service, besides the set-apart (or: holy) place pertaining to that system (suited to that ordered arrangement),

 

The subject is still the old arrangement, or first covenant, of 8:13, above. The author is referring to the duties of the priests within the set-apart (or: holy) place – the first chamber of the tabernacle – which "pertain[ed] to that system" of religious worship/service, and which was "suited to that ordered arrangement (kosmikos)."

 

The "effects of rites and products of the way then pointed out (= ordinances and regulations for the right way to do things)" were the cultuses of the first arrangement: they comprised the rituals which the priests would perform.

 

2. for a tabernacle was furnished (equipped, prepared), the first [part; compartment] – in which [was] both the lampstand and the table, even the setting forth of the breads, as well as the golden censer-altar [reading with B: Vat. MS #1209, & Sahidic witnesses] which is being called set-apart (a holy place; [the] Holy Place; a separated place).

 

Here the furniture of that first compartment, or chamber, is being described to set the scene of the arguments which follow.

 

3. But after the second veil, a tabernacle being called the set-apart of the set-apart ones (the Holy of Holies; the separated one of the separated ones; = the most set-apart),

4. having the ark of the arrangement (or: chest pertaining to the covenant), having been covered round about by gold, in which [was] a golden pot (or: urn) continuously holding (or: having) the manna, and Aaron's rod – the one sprouting (budding) – and the tablets of the arrangement (disposition; covenant),

 

Verse 3 takes us into the innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies, which was the place where the high priest would go four times on the Day of Atonement, the topic of the discussions in this chapter. Verse 4 now describes the furniture of that second compartment. In it was only "the ark of the arrangement (or: chest pertaining to the covenant)." Next the items that had been stored within the ark are listed. The "tablets of the arrangement" would refer to the stone tablets of the Law.

 

Before moving ahead, we should keep in mind that the tabernacle (which evolved into the temple, under Solomon's reign) is used in Paul's writings as a figure that foreshadowed the body of Christ, which Paul calls "the temple of God" (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20-22). Taking 1 Cor. 6:19 (which refers to the body as being God's temple) with the words of Jesus in John 2:19 which are explained by John in 2:21 as referring to Jesus' physical body, we can gain an insight into the symbolism of the articles within the ark, and of the innermost chamber of the temple where the ark resided. The holy of holies was the "heart" of the tabernacle/temple. From this picture we can extrapolate the meanings which correspond to both the individual and the corporate community.

 

The pot of manna speaks of eating the bread from heaven (John 6:32-58; Rev. 2:17) which resides within our hearts. Aaron's rod was a figure of God choosing us to be priests (Nu. 17:6-10) and that God was the One who selects folks for their place of service in the body. It also gives us the picture of God caring and protecting with the rod of a Shepherd (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15 – where in each verse the verb traditionally rendered "rule" actually means "to shepherd') from within the heart of His people.

 

The significance of the tablets (the Law) of the arrangement is explained in 10:16, below, "Continuously giving My laws upon their hearts, I will even write them upon their mental perception (or: comprehension; that which passes through the mind)."

 

5. but up above her [i.e., the ark] [are] cherubim, which have the character and quality of and express [the] glory, continuously overshadowing the mercy seat (the place of gentleness and graciousness), concerning which things (or: ones) there is now nothing to be saying corresponding to [that] part (or: down from, or in accord with, a part; = in detail).

 

Part of the cover of the ark – which was called the "mercy seat" – was "cherubim" (one on each end) whose wings "overshadow[ed]" the cover, or lid. The mercy seat and the cherubim were made of a single piece of beaten gold. The description of the construction can be found in Ex. 25:17-20; 37:6-9. This mercy seat was God's throne among His people, and He told Moses, "There I will meet with you, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony (witness)..." (Ex. 25:22). We should not miss the corporate picture of "two witnesses" in this symbol, and the fact that God "communes" between the two, in regard to His word to or for the community. So our author is describing the place of access to God's presence as He had made Himself available to His people under the old covenant.

 

The beautiful veil (or: curtain) that sectioned off this holiest place had cherubim embroidered into it (Ex. 26:31-33). This would have given the picture of this being a heavenly realm, and the curtain was the gate of the way into communion with God. When Solomon replaced the tabernacle with the temple, he had "all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, within and without" (1 Ki. 6:29). The environment represented a garden or an oasis. Combining the ideas of a garden with cherubim and an entrance with cherubim which "guarded the way" into the place of communion with God would take the mind back to the story of the Garden of Eden where God held discourse with Adam, the entrance into which was kept, preserved and watched over by cherubim (Gen. 3:24).

 

6. But of these things, having been thus prepared (equipped; furnished; constructed), the priests, indeed, habitually entering into the first tabernacle [i.e., compartment], are repeatedly completing (ending upon; fully finishing) the sacred service,

 

The author follows the common rhetoric of rehearsing an ongoing situation to continue setting the scene before making his point. Two things can be observed: 1) the writing of this letter is prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70, for the priests are still performing their tasks; 2) the holy place (the first compartment) was the scene of habitual (actually, daily) activity.

 

7. yet into the second one [i.e., compartment], the chief priest alone (or: only), once a year, not apart from blood – which he is offering over (or: on behalf of) the effects of ignorance (things resulting from a lack of knowledge or insight) of himself and of the people –

 

Now he sets the contrast of "once a year," i.e., once in the annual cycle. This was a shadow symbol for the "just once (once for all)" that would conclude the age of the first covenant and which the Messiah completed (7:27) on the cross. The particular offering to which he is referring here is the Day of Atonement. The Greek agnoe mato n is often rendered "sins" or "sins of ignorance," but "effects of ignorance (or: things resulting from a lack of knowledge or insight)" is the correct rendering. These things may have been mistakes, errors or sins of ignorance, but the cause of these effects was a lack of knowledge and insight – or, ignorance of the Truth and Reality. This was the root cause of all missing of the mark. The remedy is what Jesus said in John 8:32,

"and you will come to know the Truth (or: Reality; that which is unsealed, open and without concealment) by intimate experience, and the Truth (Reality) will liberate and make (or: set) you free."

 

8. the set-apart Breath-effect (or: Holy Spirit) making this clearly visible: the Way (Path; Road) of the set-apart places (or: of the separated ones; pertaining to the sacred folks; of the Holies) [was] not yet to have been manifested (caused to appear; brought to light) while the first tabernacle is having a standing –

 

The Way, of course, is Christ (John 14:6). He is the Path for the tabernacle/temple (His body of separated ones – the sacred folks) to walk. But this Way was not manifested and caused to appear in clear light while the old order (figured by the "first tabernacle") still had "a standing" – i.e., a place in God's economy. His ministry and the offering of Himself for us put an end to the standing of the first tabernacle. The Way was revealed by Paul as being "in Christ," the right relationships (righteousness; being pointed in the right direction with fairness and equity; the justice from God) that created the covenant communities in the Holy Spirit.

 

But the other aspect of Him being the Path and the Way was that this signified how we would have access to the Father. "No one is presently going to, or progressively coming toward, the Father, except through Me (through means of Me, or, through the midst of Me)" – John 14:6b. But this was not manifested until the old covenant had been buried with Him and He was resurrected into the life of the new creation.

 

9. which is a parable, [pointing] unto the present season (or: the fertile moment and situation having been placed within the midst and which is now here) – in accord with which [parable] both gifts and sacrifices are continually being offered, [though] not being able (or: not having power) to perfect (complete; bring to the goal and destiny; finish; mature), in regard to conscience and shared consciousness, those repeatedly doing the sacred service,

 

The first tabernacle is a parable that portrays our present season – i.e., "the fertile moment and situation having been placed within the midst [of humanity] and which is now here!" The priests were actors playing a role that told the story of the old covenant, but that story was a parable which was "cast along the side" (para-bole ) to portray the ultimate offering – the offering of the Life of God to humanity to bring about the salvation of all. The word "season; fertile moment; situation" is the Greek kairos, and speaks of the opportunity which elsewhere is called the Day of the Lord (Cf my discussion on this phrase in the chapter which discusses 1 Thes. 5:1-5 in Peter, Paul and Jacob, Comments on 1 Pet., Phil., Col., 1&2 Thes., 1&2 Tim., Titus and Jacob, Harper Brown Publishing, 2012, p 128-129). It was the season when the Messiah would come.

 

In typical Jewish story-telling fashion, our author fleshes out the scene with details about the work of the priests of that order – and then underlines its inferiority by pointing out that their "sacred service" was not "having power" and was not being able to bring folks to the maturity of the goal, the perfection that would only be found in the Christ. The Law could not "complete or finish" the work that God intended to do in humanity. The human conscience needed to be matured and brought to its destined goal: the conscience of the Christ.

 

The word conscience is suneide sis, from sunoida, a feminine, perfect participle composed of sun (with; together) and oida (to know or perceive from having seen). Strictly speaking, it is a "knowing and perceiving together from what has been seen or perceived." Thus, the noun can have two senses: 1) conscience – an inward moral impression and judgment regarding actions and principles based upon what one has seen of life and has learned from his or her cultural environment; 2) shared consciousness – an awareness of something that is shared with another person; or – a joined knowledge from the combined parts of our being: body, mind, heart, soul, spirit (e.g., from what is physically felt, emotionally felt, mentally perceived and known in the heart or by the spirit).

 

We can look at two verses to help us understand the thinking embedded in this phrase of the last clause of this verse:

1) 1 Cor. 2:11 – " For who, of humanity (of mankind), has seen so as to know (oida) the things of the human (or: the [matters] pertaining to a person), except the spirit of the human (or: the person's spirit) the one within the midst of him?"

2) 1 Cor. 6:17 – " Now the person continually joining himself (or: being habitually glued in intimate union; in himself being continuously welded) to (or: in; with) the Lord exists being one spirit (or: one Breath-effect)."

So with God's Spirit joining Himself with our spirit through the union "in Christ" and "Christ within and in union with [us]," we experience a joined knowledge and shared consciousness which in turn transforms our conscience.

 

Dan Kaplan shared with me another contrast between the two covenants: the old was represented by the people "offering" both gifts and sacrifices through the priests; the new one consists of God making the sacrifice, and then "He gave (or: gives) gifts to mankind (or: to, for and in humanity)" – Eph. 4:8. The new priesthood continues acting out His ministry by giving gifts to the people (e.g., Peter and John with the lame man at the gate of the Temple – Acts 3:1-8; or, as Jesus suggested in the parable in Matt. 25:34-40).

 

10. [relying] only upon foods and drinks and various immersions (baptisms; ceremonial washings), as well as rites and products of the way then pointed out (or: applications of fairness and equity) pertaining to the flesh (or: = [the] flesh's [religious] ordinances and external regulations of justice; or: = the system of human works), continuously lying upon them (thus: pressing upon them; = being imposed by them) until a fitting situation (or: season; fertile moment) of raising-up-through (or: thoroughly raising upright and making straight).

 

Note how he characterizes the old covenant cultus: dietary rules; immersions/baptisms or ceremonial washings; rites and products of the way then pointed out (or: applications of fairness and equity) pertaining to the FLESH. This was mainly mechanical, rather than spiritual. Like the rituals of many other cultures, how the rites were done was the main concern.

 

All this carried on "until a fitting situation (or: season; fertile moment) of raising-up-through (or: thoroughly raising upright and making straight)." Now keep in mind vs. 9, above, that this "fitting situation (season; fertile moment)" was "present" and "now [there]" at the time of the writing of this letter – in the first century! What I have rendered "raising-up-through" is a literal translation of diortho sis. It can also be literally rendered "thoroughly raising upright and making straight." It is unfortunate that the KJV, NASB, Concordant, e.g., translate this word as "reformation," as this gives a wrong understanding of what the author is saying. The old system is not being reformed, it is being replaced by what Jesus described as "Spirit and Truth" (John 4:23-24). The NIV's paraphrase comes closer to the idea and renders it "the time of the new order." Orthos means "erect, upright" – and from that, "straight." It comes from oro , "to raise up." So the author is describing a situation and a season of "raising-up-through" which aptly describes resurrection or being caused to sit upon the heavens in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). The idea pictured in "thoroughly raising upright" is almost congruent to anastasis (a standing back up again; resurrection). The secondary meaning of "making straight" pictures the idea of being right and being on target and centered in the Way of Truth.

 

11. So Christ ([the] Anointed One; [Messiah]), after suddenly coming to be present at [our] side [as] a Chief (or: Ruling; Ranking) Priest of the good things happening (or: of virtuous people being birthed; [with other MSS: pertaining to impending excellent things]), by means of the greater and more perfect (more matured, complete and destined) Tabernacle not made by hands – that is, not of this creation – and not by means of blood from he-goats and calves, but by means of and through His own blood

 

Whereas the old Law, priesthood and tabernacle could not perfect anything (7:19; 9:9, above; 10:1, below), "the greater and more perfect Tabernacle" – the Christ – was able to (10:14; 11:40; 12:23, below). But to be a faithful Chief Priest, He went through the process that brought Him to the goal of perfection (2:10; 5:9, above), fulfilling all the types foreshadowed in the old. The participle phrase that modifies "Chief Priest" has good MS support for both readings, and each reading can be seen as true. But the Gospels, Acts and other writings of the NT all witness to the fact that "good things [were already] happening" and "virtuous people [were] being birthed" into the kingdom during the ministries of Jesus and His students. These things were happening through the "greater and destined Tabernacle" – the Messiah and His body. It was a body of people, not something constructed by human hands and was not a part of the natural creation. It was, in fact, the new creations, itself.

 

The work of the "complete Tabernacle" had nothing to do with animal sacrifices, but it did involve the blood of Jesus and was a covenant of blood – or, life – for the life of the new was in the blood and life of Jesus: both of which He gave and gives to all mankind. It was fulfilling the type of the chief priest on the Day of Atonement (of the old covenant) when He gave His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) which Paul later explains was "a correspondent ransom (a ransom in the place of and directed toward the situation) over [the situation of and] on behalf of (or: for) all (everyone; all humanity and all things)..." – 1 Tim. 2:6.

 

12. entered in at once and once for all into the midst and core of the set-apart ones (or: the holy places), at once finding in Himself an unbinding (a loosening for release and liberation; redemption) proper to, belonging to and having its origin in the Age [of the Messiah] (or: eonian, or, age-lasting liberation).

 

Having died upon the cross, when He was resurrected He "entered in at once and once for all into the midst and core of the set-apart ones." Now the object of the preposition eis (into the midst and core of) is the plural noun ta hagia (which can be rendered "the holy places" which refers to the tabernacle, which was the type). However, vs. 24, below, instructs us that "Christ did not enter into set-apart places made by hands." So he did not enter into the natural tabernacle or the physical temple. Therefore, I chose "the set-apart ones" as an informed rendering, for we know through Paul that the called-out folks are, and His body is, the temple of the new covenant (John 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Eph. 2:21).

 

The verb "at once finding in Himself" is in the aorist tense, and the middle voice (which means that the action of the verb applies to the subject). He found that "redemption: an unbinding and a loosing for release and liberation" was inherent within Himself through the Holy Spirit. This was the "release and liberation for [the] captives" and the "liberation in those having been shattered by oppression" (Lu. 4:18).

 

All this came with the new creation, which is the Age of the Messiah," so the unbinding (etc.) pertained to the new age, which by association with the Advent of the Messiah was also the origin of it, and it belonged to this new age. These expressions about the Age present to us the various functions of the genitive case of the noun, and thus added perspectives about it.

 

13. For you see, if the blood of bulls and of he-goats, as well as ashes of a heifer repeatedly sprinkling the folks having become defiled (made common or ceremonially unclean), is continually making [a person] set-apart (or: making holy and sacred) with a view to and leading toward the cleanness of the flesh (= the physical body or human relationships),

14. to how much greater an extent shall the blood of the Christ (Anointed One; [Messiah]) Who through means of a spirit (or: attitude; [the] Breath-effect) pertaining to the Age offers Himself (or: brought Himself face to face and offers Himself) without blemish by and with God (or: in, to and for God) – continue cleansing and pruning your conscience and shared consciousness from works of death (or: dead procedures and activities; deeds of dead folks) [leading] into [the situation] to be continuously rendering sacred service, as well as habitually doing the business and duties of life, for, in, by, to and with the living, as well as true and real, God?

 

The old covenant cultus did set the people apart, and thus served as a type for the reality that would come with the Messiah. But it only could clean the flesh, i.e., the physical with its relationships within the community.

 

But the author points out "to how much greater an extent" the work of the Messiah would "continue cleansing and pruning" the "conscience and shared consciousness" of people. I included the meaning "prune" (which is an agricultural application) because the NT is full of agricultural metaphors for people. Christ accomplished this "through means of a spirit pertaining to the Age." This can be looked at from two different perspectives: from the view of the old age, or through the window of the new age. The cross worked in both directions: being the ultimate Sacrifice of the old, but laying out the Pattern of the self-giving love of the new. With this latter, we can see the meaning of pneuma as "attitude" has appropriate application, for our attitude towards everything is affected by the new age with its new creation: the New Being of the Second Human, the corporate Christ. The old attitude of "us and them" is replaced by the attitude of union and oneness in Christ. Our old attitude of "all about me and my being number one" is displaced with the attitude of concern for the welfare of others. It is now what Jesus taught, an attitude of service fueled by the denial of self (e.g., Matt. 16:24-25). We should also note the progressive, durative aspect of the future tense: the work of the cross and the Spirit continues in our lives.

 

I gave both the cultus application of prosphero , which is the presentation and offering of a sacrifice, and then the literal meaning of the verb (since in Christ all has changed): "brought Himself face to face" to us as He entered the temple which IS us. Note the multiple prepositions on offer: the bringing of Himself is both "by God" as the means, and "with God" Who comes to us within the Christ. The offering is "in God" and is ultimately "to God" Who resides within all of creation and in all people (there is no place where God is not), and the offering is "for God" for this whole idea and plan is to bring Him pleasure. Further, it is God who is working within humanity (Phil. 2:13) through the proclamation of the message of goodness, ease and well-being.

 

The "works of death (etc.)" would have a first application to the works of the Law, and specifically to the animal sacrifices of the Law cultus with its "procedures and activities" which brought no life to the people. But a secondary reference would be the "deeds of [metaphorically] dead folks" who needed to be resurrected from the death of the old Adam nature.

 

The effect and result of this cleansing and pruning was so that those now with the Christ could function as the new priesthood so as "to be continuously rendering sacred service, as well as habitually doing the business and duties of life." Here I have presented both aspects of the word latreuo since in the new covenant our service applies to every area of our life – including whatever business in which we may be involved. The word originally spoke of both religious duties and "the business and duties of life." Our service is "outside the walls."

 

The prepositional phrase that is joined to this clause about service is in the dative case, with no expressed preposition. Therefore, I have expressed all the functions of the dative, with their representative prepositions, since all of them make sense in this context. Our service, business and even menial duties are all "for, in, by, to and with the living, as well as true and real, God." As Paul put it,

"within the midst of and in union with Him we continuously live (or, as a subjunctive: could be constantly living), and are constantly moved about and put into motion, and continue existing (experiencing Being)" – Acts 17:28.

Our whole life is wrapped up in Him, and He within us.

 

15. And now because of this, He continues being a Medium (an Agency; an Intervening Substance; a middle state; One in a middle position; a go-between; an Umpire; a Mediator) of and from a New Arrangement (a disposition and covenant that is new in kind and quality) so that, pertaining to a death occurring (or: from a death having happened) [which leads] into an unbinding-away of the steppings-to-the-side [that were] based upon the first arrangement,

(or: in order that by birthing Himself from death into the midst of a redeeming [of people] from the deviations [that came] upon the first disposition;

or: so that at one point coming into existence from death [and] on into the center of a ransom-paid release from transgressions [that were founded] upon the former covenant,) the people having been called and now remaining invited can at some point take hold of (or: may seize into possession; or: would suddenly receive) the Promise of the inheritance pertaining to and having the qualities of the Age [of Messiah] (or: the eonian possession and enjoyment of the allotment; or: the inheritance of, from and for the ages).

 

The "this" of the first clause refers back to the offering and bringing Himself face to face with us and cleansing us (vs. 14, above). He is "a Medium, Agency and intervening Substance" (note: our author does not give us a definitive meaning from the semantic range of this word) of the "New Arrangement" in which His death unbinds the Hebrews from the transgressions and deviations that were based upon the first arrangement (or: former covenant). And so "the people" – i.e., Israel – had been "called and [are] now remaining invited" (note: this expresses the meaning of the perfect tense of the participle) so that they now can "at some point take hold of the Promise" which is enjoyment of the allotted inheritance which has "the qualities of the Age" of the Messiah. This is just another way of saying "to participate in the Life of Christ and in the kingdom of God – or, to be included in the covenant community." I have given three renderings of the aorist tense of the verb ("take hold," etc.) of the final clause which gives us the simple fact of the indefinite action described by the verb ("may seize..."), or signifies it as happening "at some point" of time (punctiliar action), or implies a suddenness of a completed action ("would suddenly receive"), seen as a "snap-shot" view of it.

 

The first rendering, "an unbinding-away," in the second clause is the literal meaning of the Greek apo-lutro sis. This is commonly rendered "redemption," or "release by ransom," and refers to the "occurring" of the death of the Messiah which led "into the unbinding-away of... the people" from the effects of their transgressions of the Law. This is the first interpretation of this clause.

 

The word "death" in this second clause is either in the genitive case, or in the ablative (both cases are spelled the same way in Greek). The aorist participle "occurring/having happened/birthing/coming into existence" (genomenou) is in the middle voice, which means that the subject acts upon or on behalf of itself. And so, reading death as an ablative together with taking the third meaning of the participle gives us the second parenthetical rendering "by birthing Himself from death." In John 10:18 we read Jesus saying in reference to His soul/life,

"I constantly hold authority (continuously have the right and hold the ‘position’; or: continue possessing privilege from out of the midst of Being) to place it (put her; lay it), and I constantly hold authority from out of being (continuously possess the right, forth from [My] existence; = am in the authoritative position) to take it (or: receive her; resume it) again."

So here in vs. 15, with the first parenthetical option ("in order that by birthing Himself from death..."), we would read our author as referring to the resurrection of Jesus – who had "authority to take [His life] again" from death.

 

"He birthed Himself (yet it was by the Spirit of the Father) out from death into super-intensified (resurrected) life from within and into a people whose due time had come to take the first step into the Reality. All the scenes presented to us in the accounts of Jesus' resurrection appearances in the gospels and Book of Acts, are accounts essentially of Jesus taking His rightful place within that new covenant community. What those early disciples saw as external to themselves (as the only way the present state of our physical vision could interpret the reality), was really an internal happening, an internal change from one condition to another.

"Since all things were created in Him, and we are in Him, there is really nothing that is outside of us. Great contemplation is called for to even begin to understand that where God placed Adam was within Adam. "Ye are God's place of planting (His farm/garden/husbandry), ye are God's building." Though certainly not mere introspection, our spiritual journey is a journey into Him in us, the goal of which [is] a new heaven and new earth where God [is] known as He is, the All in all." (John Gavazzoni; from a private email; bracketed changes, mine)

 

Although the term "the people" first applied to Israel since Jesus was their Messiah, Paul tells us that God has done away with race classifications and has included all the ethnic multitudes in His covenant (Eph. 2:11-19) by including all in the Second Human, the eschatos (or: last) Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47). So now all people are those "having been called and now remaining invited."

 

The second parenthetical rendering ("... so that at one point coming into existence from death [and] on into the center of a ransom-paid release from transgressions [that were founded] upon the former covenant,)" takes "the people" as the subject of this clause: it was the people that came into existence from death, and entered into the ransomed release from their transgressions. This is viewing the Greek construction of this verse as speaking to what Paul referred to (in Rom. 6:3-5) as having been immersed into His death and then raise up into "newness of life" – and "the one at some point dying (or: suffering death) has been rightwised away from the Sin" (Rom. 6:7).

 

16. For you see, where [there is] an arrangement (or: covenant; also: a will; a settlement), a necessity to be brought [is] the death of the one arranging (or: making the will; covenanting),

 

Our author is now focusing on the secular meaning of the word diathe ke , "will and testament." His audience would have been well aware of the Hellenistic use of this word, and such a switch from its covenant meaning to its secular use is a rhetorical maneuver as he starts a new argument: the new covenant cannot come into effect apart from the death of the Messiah.

 

However, looking back to Israel's beginning, we see the death of the firstborn in Egypt; the figurative death of Israel by their passing through the Red Sea; the death-based sacrificial system that inaugurated them as a nation, as we see in vss. 18-22, below. Looking back farther we see sacrifice in the stories in Genesis. Nonetheless, our author's point is that it was necessary for the Messiah to die in order to activate the new arrangement/covenant/will.

 

17. for an arrangement (a will; a covenant) based upon dead folks [is] firm (fixed; guaranteed as valid), since it is never (not once) [other MSS: not then] strong (or: in force) at the time when the one making the arrangement (or: covenant; will) is alive (or: continues living).

 

Building on the idea of a will, here he points out that the arrangement made by Christ is now firm, fixed and guaranteed as valid – because of His death. We can count on what it says and gives to us. No one can change it.

 

18. Consequently, not even the first (or: former) has been initiated (innovated; inaugurated; or: dedicated) apart from blood, [signifying a death].

19. For every implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inner destiny; inward directive) down from the Law was spoken by (and: under) Moses to and for all the People, taking the blood of calves and he-goats, with water, scarlet wool and hyssop, he sprinkled both the scroll and all the People,

20. saying,

"This is the blood of the arrangement (covenant; disposition) which God imparted as the goal to you (or: directed as the end and destiny in mind, with a view to you folks)." [Ex. 24:8]

 

Returning to the more normal use of diathe ke , he cites the beginnings of Israel's first covenantal arrangements to seal his argument which associates Christ's death with the initiation of the new arrangement.

 

21. Furthermore, in like manner he sprinkled the Tabernacle, and even all the vessels of the public service, with blood.

22. And so, down from and in accord with the Law, nearly everything is being cleansed in (or: in union with) blood, and apart from blood-shedding a sending-away (or: a causing to flow off; an abandoning or a divorce; or: forgiveness) is not coming into existence (is not being birthed; does not occur).

 

Here he picks up the topic of cleansing from vs. 14, above, now stressing the need for a sacrifice to effect a sending away (etc.). He is calling to the entire sacrificial system as an anchor for his argument. In the old covenant "apart from blood-shedding" there was no "causing to flow off of, being abandoned by or divorced from" the people's sins and failures.

 

23. Indeed, then, [it was] a necessity for the under-exhibits (examples; copies; effects of suggestive signs) of the things within the atmospheres and heavens to be cleansed by these [means], yet the very super-heavenly things (or: the things [situated] upon the atmospheres) themselves by superior (stronger and better) sacrifices besides these.

 

Again: the contrast of the "under-exhibits (etc.)" to the "superior" and the "super-heavenly." It would take more than animal sacrifices and grain offerings to cleanse and prune the area of the spirit and heart – of which the tabernacle was an outward representation. It would take the resurrected Life of Christ bringing life from the dead, and "the hearts having been sprinkled from a consciousness of evil (or: a joint-knowledge full of labor; a conscience in a bad condition), and then the body having been bathed in and by clean water" (10:22, below) "by the bath of the Water [that is] within a result of a flow (or: in union with a gush-effect; or: in the midst of a spoken word, a declaration, or an utterance)" – Eph. 5:26b.

 

24. For Christ did not enter into set-apart places made by hands (= by humans) – representations (things formed after a pattern) of the true and real things – but rather into the atmosphere and heaven itself, now to be manifested (exhibited to view; caused to appear in clear light; made apparent) by the presence of God over us (or: in God's face and countenance [being] on our behalf).

 

The "true and real things" do not refer to the "essences and forms" of Plato's philosophy, but to the things related to Christ, Who is the Truth and Reality (John 14:6). They are the things of the Spirit of God, and refer to God dwelling within His temple of the new creation. He entered into the atmosphere of the called-out community in a way that was patterned by Yahweh dwelling in a tent among the people of Israel.

 

Note that Christ is "NOW to be manifested," i.e., "exhibited to VIEW," and "caused to APPEAR in clear light" and "made apparent" – for people to SEE! Christ is to be manifested by His followers, His new temple. This happens "by the presence of God" being "over us." Here I have given the metaphorical meaning of proso pon (e.g., as it was used in Acts 3:13, 19 and 2 Cor. 8:24) and the literal meaning of huper (over us) – which calls to mind the picture of Yahweh manifesting His presence as a cloud over the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34; Lev. 16:2). In the parenthetical option is the literal rendering "face" with another extended meaning "countenance" and the extended meaning of huper (on our behalf). Here I also rendered the dative case in its location function, "in." Both views – from each of the two renderings – present a beautiful picture of the result of Christ's work and path, each of which had humanity in view. He covers us with His presence, as His glory fills us.

 

25. Nor yet [is it] that many times He would be repeatedly offering Himself, even as the chief priest is repeatedly entering into the set-apart (or: holy) places yearly in blood belonging to another,

 

The author now brings us back to the central theme that runs through this entire chapter: the Day of Atonement. But now the type has been fulfilled so the annual re-enactment of the play need no longer be staged. It was done just once, and for all. But keep in mind the setting that has been once again placed in front of us – so that we will understand the scene depicted in vs. 28.

 

26. otherwise (or: in that case) it was continually binding Him to experience [it] (or: to suffer; to have sense-experiences and to feel) many times from the founding of the organized System of [their] religion and culture (or: the casting down of the world or universe). Yet now (at this time), once, upon a conjunction (a joined destiny; a bringing of [two] ends together ["denoting the joining of two age-times" – E.W. Bullinger]) of the ages, He has been and remains manifested (has been brought to light and continues visible) into a displacement of failure (of error; of sin; of failure to hit the target) through the sacrifice of Himself (or: through His sacrifice; or: by means of the sacrificial altar-offering which was Himself).

 

Note that I have rendered katabole s kosmou first as a localized and specific situation, "founding of the organized System of [their] religion and culture," and then in the more usual cosmic sense in the parenthetical expansion. The sacrifice on the Day of Atonement – which is the subject at hand in this passage – related specifically to the Law and the religious cultus of Israel. Not only that, the context of the verse speaks of the conjunction of the age of the first covenant with the age of the new covenant. I inserted Bullinger's comment to help readers understand the picture that is being painted here. There is a "joined destiny" of the two, as there is with a mother and a Son.

 

The cross was a historical manifestation of the heart of God in the Father giving His Son as the remedy for humanity's situation (John 3:16). He remains manifested in clear light and "continues visible" through the life of His called-out followers. The verb "has been and remains" presents the force of the Greek perfect tense.

 

The manifestation of the Messiah led "into a displacement of failure (etc.) through the sacrifice (thusia) of Himself." Here we see an echo of vss. 12 and 14, above. I have also presented another function of the genitive case, that of apposition, in the rendering "the sacrificial altar-offering which was Himself" to nail down the full sense of what He did.

 

27. And now, according to as much as it continues lying-away (or: laid away; reserved-off; stored) in (or: with; for; to) mankind (or: people) to die-away once, but after this a process of evaluating (a separating and making a distinction to be a judging and determining; a deciding),

 

Here we approach a climax along the journey through this letter. He brings in the final destiny of mankind – in regard to this earthly life – and ties it to the death of the Messiah. "It continues lying-away and reserved" describes the certainty of this matter and the continued state of affairs for humanity – the "human predicament," to use Paul Tillich's term. It speaks of something that was planned. Of course the author is reaching back to the Garden story and the judgment for the disobedience (consider that Paul centered on the disobedience, not the fact that the fruit was eaten – Rom. 5:19). And as an end to our own story, we only die-away once.

 

The final phrase of this verse has given rise to a great deal of speculation. Probably our author remained ignorant as to what all this entailed and about the setting, or of what the immediate outcome would be. Or, perhaps our Father did not want such matters revealed to us since what seems to be the most important thing to Him – in regard to us – is how we live our lives here and now. But to give as much insight as possible, I expanded my rendering to give the semantic range of the word krisis. It primarily means "a process of evaluating." What comes to my mind is what we experience in this life as a "final examination" after completing a course of instruction, or a "board review" to determine qualifications. It involves "a separating and making a distinction" of the facts in view, but its purpose is "a judging" of what a person did in this life (e.g., with the scrolls being opened to evaluate a persons "works" – Rev. 20:12), and a "determining" of the person's results. All this leads to "a deciding." And this is done by a Father who has been revealed to us through the life of Jesus Christ. So He is a God who does not count our trespasses against us (2 Cor. 5:19) and seeks for us to be reconciled to Him, and loves us. His Son has covered our sins, and the whole message of the Day of Atonement was the carrying of the effects of these mistakes away from us. And we should keep in mind the thoughts that He has toward us (e.g., Isa. 55:8-13).

 

28. so also, the Christ – being once borne (or: carried) close into the many (or: being offered once unto and for the many) to carry failures (errors; sins mistakes; deviations; misses of the target) back up again – will continue being made visible (will be progressively seen) forth from out of the midst of the second [place (cf 9:3, 7 & 10:9; {comment: = the holy of holies})] – apart from failure (apart from sin; apart from a sin offering; apart from error in attempting to hit the target) – in those (or: by those; to those; for those) habitually receiving (or: progressively taking) from out of the midst of Him, [progressing] into a deliverance (or: [leading] into a rescue; with a view to health and wholeness; into the midst of salvation).

[note: the Greek word translated "receiving from out of the midst of" is apekdechomai, which is dechomai, which means "to take and receive with the hands," with the preposition apek, a contraction of apo, "from," and ek, "out of the midst of" added as a prefix. This verb should not be translated "looking for," or "awaiting"]

 

Because of the phrase "into the many" which shows the literal destination of the action of the verb, I chose as the first rendering "borne (or: carried) close" for this passive aorist participle. It also has the connotation of "being offered" so I included this in the parenthetical expansion, where I then rendered eis as "unto or for" – giving a secondary, and then a more remote meaning of this preposition. He has been offered unto us, but more literally, Christ was "once borne" by the Spirit into "the many" – which is a figure for mankind or the ethnic multitudes.

 

We encounter our same verb phero (to bear; to carry) in "to carry... back up again," but here with a different preposition (ana) prefixed to it. So Christ was carried toward us in order to carry back up again our failures (etc.). The phrase "back up again" calls to mind the picture of the smoke ascending, as it were, to God in the burned sacrifices. All things return into God (Rom. 11:36). Here He was also the "Scapegoat" of the Day of Atonement – or, as John the Immerser put it,

"Look! (Pay attention, see and perceive)! God’s Lamb (or: the Lamb from God; the

Lamb having the character and qualities of God; or, in apposition: the Lamb which is

God), the One continuously lifting up and carrying away the Sin of the world, and

removing the sin which belongs to and is a part of the System

(or: habitually picking up and taking away the failure and error brought on by the

organized system; progressively removing the falling short and the missing of the

goal from the world of culture, religion, economy and government [= from

humanity and secular society])!" – John 1:29.

But in our present context He was the Chief Priest that entered into us, the heavenly temple, sprinkled our hearts (10:22, below), and carried out of our midst our deviations and times of missing the target.

 

The final Day of Atonement involved the Messiah as the Sacrifice, and people as the tabernacle or temple. This was the superior Sacrifice (vs. 23) that cleansed the super-heavenly temple.

 

But now let us turn our attention to the beautiful promise that is focused on this super-heavenly temple. Christ, the Messiah, "will be made visible (will be seen) forth from out of the midst of the second [place (cf 9:3, 7 & 10:9; {comment: = the holy of holies})]." Unfortunate exegesis has put this off to some future "time," and this is due primarily to the KJV adding the word "time" after the word second. Mostly because of that translation addition do we have the sad teaching that Christ will return to earth in a "second coming." This paradigm has shaped the interpretation of OT prophesies and NT statements in a way that has shifted fundamental and evangelical eschatology so as to focus attention away from the present and off into the indefinite future – resulting in detrimental mindsets about our life here and our earth environment.

 

I, too, have added a word to the text – as seen in the bracketed [place]. My reason for pointing my readers in this direction is that the holy of holies was the "place" into which the chief priest entered on the Day of Atonement, and when he came out and was "made visible" to the people the final time on that day, tradition has it that he said, "It is finished." From vss. 9 and 7, above, we see that the second referred to the holy of holies, and it was in the context of this specific day of the year. Now considering that the holy of holies is now within the heart of His people (who comprise His temple), the "place" from which He will be made visible is His called-out covenant community, His body. When this happens (continuously, we would hope) He is not dealing with the sin issue: that was finished at the cross. So He will repeatedly be seen apart from the people's failure – "apart from error in attempting to hit the target."

 

Now take note that this happens "in those (or: by those; to those; for those) habitually receiving (or: progressively taking) from out of the midst of Him." This is another witness that our author is speaking of a "place" and not a time. "By those" would also center His being made visible "in them." He will also be visible "to them" as they perceive Him working within people and in the earth. And, of course, this happens "for them," as well.

 

The "those" is identified by the qualifying participle phrase "habitually receiving (or: progressively taking) from out of the midst of Him." In my translation I have the bracketed comments at the end of this verse which explain how the present participle should be translated. It is the habitual and progressive receiving from out of the midst of Him that progressively leads us into complete deliverance (which we all have experienced as being a life-long work of the Spirit in us). He is the one from whom we receive our life, as we "eat His flesh and drink His blood." So for those that are living "abiding in the Vine (Christ)" – John 15:1ff – Christ will be made visible from out of the midst of His Temple: His people.

 

Verse 9 in the following chapter makes another application of the term "the second," there referring to the second tabernacle and the second covenant. This all applies to the here and the now.

NEW!

ALL 5 OF JONATHAN'S

eBooks

NEW!

HARD COVER

 EDITION

(Updated 2015 Edition)

Amazon.com Details

NEW!

JONATHAN'S 4TH COMMENTARY

Peter's Encore & Later Paul

Comments on 2 Peter & Ephesians

Amazon.com Details

JONATHAN'S 3RD COMMENTARY

Just Paul

Comments on Romans

(More Details/Samples)

JONATHAN'S 2ND COMMENTARY

John, Judah, Paul & ?

Comments on 6 Epistles

(More Details/Samples)

JONATHAN'S 1ST COMMENTARY

Peter, Paul & Jacob

Comments on 9 Epistles

(More Details/Samples)

Jonathan's first four volumes in a series of New Testament commentaries

are

Great companions to:

The New Testament

If you like the Amplified Bible, this translation unpacks more Word!

GOD'S MESSAGE OF

GOODNESS, EASE

AND WELL-BEING

WHICH BRINGS GOD'S

GIFTS OF HIS SPIRIT,

HIS LIFE, HIS GRACE,

HIS POWER, HIS

FAIRNESS, HIS PEACE

AND HIS LOVE

Jonathan Mitchell

New Testament

Contact Us!

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page

© 2010-2017 Jonathan Mitchell New Testament - All Rights Reserved