The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews
by John Calvin

This etext is in the public domain.


Contents

  Introduction

  Translator's Preface

  Cotton's  Epistle Dedicatory

  To the Reader

  Calvin's Epistle Dedicatory

  The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Argument

  Commentaries on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4
    Chapter 5
    Chapter 6
    Chapter 7
    Chapter 8
    Chapter 9
    Chapter 10
    Chapter 11
    Chapter 12
    Chapter 13




Introduction

    Without contradiction, as the Epistle to the Hebrews itself reminds
us, the less is blessed of the better. Hence Calvin's exegetical work is
far from requiring commendation from the present writer. His commentaries
are classics which have stood the test of time and have come with new
freshness of appeal to generation after generation of readers.
Nevertheless, as we are also reminded, a great man and his work may
appropriately receive tribute from his spiritual debtors. Accordingly, it
is with a sense of privilege that I join with others in hailing this new
publication of Calvin's Commentaries and express my delight that new
generations of students will have ready access to them through the
enterprise of the present publisher 

    It is a happy coincidence that this volume on Hebrews is being
republished within a year of the four-hundredth anniversary of its origin
in 1549. For that fact serves to recall the rich spiritual significance
of the Protestant Reformation. Some forty years ago the four-hundredth
anniversary of Calvin's birth was duly celebrated. The whole course of
his life is, however, deserving of commemoration, and the period from
1540 to 1564 during which his monumental commentaries were prepared may
be recalled on this occasion with special gratification.

    Fortunately, present interest in Calvin is not merely that of the
antiquarian. Even many modern scholars who consider Calvin's theology
uncongenial, and regard his view of Scripture as outmoded, acknowledge
that he possesses a high degree of contemporaneity. Calvin is often
characterized as one who, though not entirely free from the shackles of
medievalism, at his best is a prophetic spirit who speaks forth to our
times and is capable of arousing men to an experience of vital religion.
However inadequate such evaluations of Calvin may be, they are
encouraging in so far as they involve a serious reckoning with what
Calvin had to say and offer hope that a more solid estimate of his
Christian position may yet emerge.

    The true genius of Calvin will never be grasped, in my judgment,
unless he is recognized as being first of all a Biblical theologian. This
implies, negatively, that Calvin was fundamentally neither speculative
nor traditionalistic in his approach, though he may not have been able to
emancipate himself completely from such influences. He combined in
distinguished fashion devout submission to the Word of God as basic to
piety and morality, as well as to the highest scholarship, and freedom
from human traditions which gave freshness and vigour to his entire life
and activity. That this evaluation of Calvin is a fair one is clear from
his incomparable Institutes. But it is also borne in upon one
irresistibly as one seriously reads the commentaries. Even the
comprehensiveness of his exegetical labours serves to bring to mind his
profound concern to understand and to expound the Holy Scriptures. One
needs, however, to employ Calvin in one's own study of the Bible,
preferably along with other commentaries as standards of comparison, to
discover how as one seriously reads the commentaries. Even the
comprehensiveness of his exegetical labours serves to bring to mind his
profound concern to understand and to expound the Holy Scriptures. One
needs, however, to employ Calvin in one's own study of the Bible,
preferably along with other commentaries as standards of comparison, to
discover how constantly and happily reverence for what stands written is
wedded to a rare objectivity of exegetical method.

    Among the evaluations from the past which agree basically with the
above judgment none is perhaps more carefully done than that prepared a
century ago by a distinguished German exegetes, Professor F. A. G.
Tholuck of Halle, an evaluation the more impressive because it came from
one who himself was not a Calvinist. Among the formal excellencies of
Calvin's commentaries Tholuck singled out their elegance of diction,
conciseness of expression, symmetry and freedom from immoderate
digressions. On the material side he sums up their qualities in terms of
doctrinal impartiality, exegetical tact ("which makes it even impossible
for him to adopt forced interpretations"), his considerable and
unobtrusive learning, and his deep Christian piety.

    All these qualities are conspicuous in this "Commentary on the
Epistle to the Hebrews". At the time of its composition in 1549 Calvin
had not yet reached his fortieth birthday anniversary, but his several
previously published commentaries on the Epistles of Paul, not to speak
now of his Institutes, give ample proof of his ripe maturity at that
time. The work introduced here is a truly admirable example of his
exegetical skill and is at once a heartwarming book of devotion.

    Calvin, as distinguished from Luther, had no question as to the
canonical authority of this Epistle, and throughout the exposition this
regard is constantly in view. And Calvin is seen at his best in
discussing a passage like Hebrews 6:4-6, which proved a stumbling block
to Luther, for there the breadth of his Biblical perspective and the
absence of dogmatic rigidity come brilliantly to view. Calvin's freedom
from bondage to tradition is seen, moreover, in that he does not rest the
authority of the Epistle upon apostolic authorship. In fact, he rejects
forthrightly the tradition of Pauline authorship, primarily on the basis
of the testimony of the Epistle to its own origin. In his comments on
Hebrews 2:3 he does justice to the distinction drawn between the
apostolic circle who had heard the Lord and those to whom this witness
had been attested, and thus avoids the forced interpretations developed
by expositors who seem to feel under compulsion at all costs to maintain
Pauline authorship. And with sound scholarship he argues that Hebrews
cannot be regarded as a translation from an original Hebrew document. A
hypothesis advanced in the ancient church in the interest of maintaining
Pauline authorship, and yet accounting for the distinctive style and
language of Hebrews

    Another comment that illustrates Calvin's exegetical integrity is
found in connection with his treatment of Hebrews 11:21, where the author
follows the Septuagint in declaring that Jacob worshipped upon the top of
his staff rather than the Hebrew text which speaks instead of his bed.
This comment is indeed sometimes cited, along with a few other isolated
passages, as evidence that Calvin, in spite of his explicit testimony to
the contrary, betrays a rather free attitude towards the doctrine of
inspiration. But such argumentation is not impressive if evaluated with
due caution. Calvin in truth implies that there is a mistake in the
Septuagint, and that the author of Hebrews used that text without
correction. But he makes the point that, since the author's argument is
not affected by the use of the Greek text of the Old Testament in current
use among his readers, it was not necessary to quote the original text
precisely. It is highly significant for our evaluation of Calvin's
conception of inspiration to observe that Calvin insists in this very
connection that it is essential that "readers are ever brought back to
the pure and original text of Scripture," although by way of
accommodation to usage he allows that it was permissible to quote such a
translation as the Septuagint. But it is to Calvin's credit also that he
does not resort to strained or tortuous harmonistics to solve the problem
presented by the divergence of the passage quoted from the original.

    Calvin found the message of Hebrews most timely for the age which he
immediately addressed, principally because of its concentration upon the
theme of the priesthood of Christ and the virtue and dignity of that only
true sacrifice which he offered by his death. This theme, which,
according to Calvin's thought, stood at the very centre of Christianity,
had come to be largely obscured. The present day is likewise one in which
to a large degree the priestly and atoning work of our Lord is minimized
or repudiated. The present work possesses a new timeliness, therefore, as
it once again finds a company of readers today. It is timely, not first
of all because it may serve to deepen contemporaneous knowledge of
Calvin, but because through Calvin men may gain a profounder knowledge of
Christ, the great high priest through whose sacrifice the glorious
blessings of the new covenant have come to realization.

                                Ned B. Stonehouse,
                                Professor of New Testament,
                                Westminster Theological Seminary

Philadelphia, Penner,
January 24, 1948.



Translator's Preface

    No doubt the Epistle next in importance to that to the Romans is this
to the Hebrews. The truths explained in it might, indeed, have been
deduced from other portions of Scripture; but it is a vast advantage and
a great satisfaction to find them expressly set forth, and distinctly
stated by an inspired Apostle.
    In condescension to our ignorance, it has pleased God, not only to
give us what might have been deemed sufficient for our information, but
also to add "line upon line," so that there might be every help given to
those who have a desire to know the truth, and every reasonable accuse
taken away from such as resolve to oppose it, and to follow the guidance
of self-will, and the delusions of their own proud minds and depraved
hearts. It might then, seem strange to us that defect, insufficiency, and
obscurity have been ascribed to the Scriptures, did we not know that
these have been made by such as wish Revelation to be otherwise than it
is; they having imbibed errors and adopted superstitions to which it
yields no countenance, but which it condemns in terms so plain, that they
must be represented as defective or obscure in order to be evaded.

    There are especially two parties who find this Epistle in no way
favourable to them - the Papists and the Socinians. The Sole Priesthood
of Christ, and his Sole Sufficient Sacrifice, are here so distinctly
stated, that the former cannot resist the evidence except by the subtle
arts of the most consummate sophistry; and the latter find it a very
difficult task to neutralize the strong and clear testimony here given as
to the Divinity of our Saviour and his Atonement. Though these parties
are wholly opposed to one another, yet, like Herod and Pilate, they unite
in degrading the Saviour - the one indirectly, by substituting others in
his place; and the other in open manner, by denying his dignity and the
character and efficacy of his death. But by both the Saviour is equally
dishonoured.

    There have been more disputes about this Epistle than any other
portion of Scripture; but many of the questions which have been raised
have been of a very trifling character, as though learned men were idle
and had nothing else to do; and this has been the case, especially with
the divines of the German school, not only with regard to this Epistle,
but with respect to many other subjects.

    Disquisitions called learned, have been written as to the character
of this Epistle, whether it be properly an Epistle, or something that
ought to be called by some other name! Then it has been a subject
learnedly discussed, to whom in particular the Epistle was sent, whether
to the dispersed Jews, or to those in Palestine - whether to a particular
Congregation, or to the Hebrews in general? Such questions are
comparatively of very little importance; and to spend time and talent in
discussing them, is a work frivolous and useless; and not only so, but
also mischievous, calculated to serve the purposes of Popery and
Infidelity; for to render thus apparently important what is not so, and
on which no degree of certainty can be obtained, is to involve men in a
mist which may lead them astray.

    Another subject has been much discussed, which is of no great
consequence, as the inspiration of the Epistle is not thereby endangered,
and that is the language in which the Epistle was originally written. An
opinion prevailed among some of the Early Fathers that it was written in
Hebrew, or rather in Syro-Chaldee language, and that it was translated
into Greek by Luke, Clement, or Barnabas. It was stated as all opinion,
confirmed by no authority, and founded mainly on two circumstances - that
it was written to Hebrews, and that its style is different from that of
Paul in his other Epistles. Almost all modern divines regard this opinion
as not well founded. The Greek language was in Paul's time well known
throughout Palestine; the "General Epistles," intended for the Jews as
well as the Gentiles, were written in Greek; and there is no record of
any copy of this Epistle in Hebrew. As to the style, it differs not more
from that of the other Epistles than what may be observed in writers in
all ages, or what might be expected in Paul when advanced in years,
compared with what he wrote in his younger days. It may be further added,
that the Epistle itself contains things which seem to show that it was
written in Greek: Hebrew words are interpreted, chap. 7:2; the passages
quoted are mostly from the Septuagint, and not from the Hebrew; and there
is the use of a word, rendered "Testament," in chap. 9:17, in the sense
of a Will, which the Hebrew word never means.

    There are only two questions of real importance - the canonicity of
the Epistle, and its Author.
    As to the first, it has never been doubted except by some of the
strange heretics in the first ages. There is quite as much external
testimony in its favour as most portions of the New Testament. It was
from the first received by the Churches, Eastern and Western, as a
portion of the Inspired Volume. It is found in the very first versions of
the New Testament, the Syriac and the Italic. These versions were made as
early as the end of the second century, about 140 years after the date of
this Epistle. The testimony of the Fathers from the earliest time is
uniformly the same in this respect. The Epistle is acknowledged by them
all as a portion of Holy Writ.
    But with regard to the Author there has been a diversity of opinion,
though, when all things are duly weighed, without reason. From the
earliest times, the Eastern Church acknowledge Paul as the Author. Some
in the Western Church, in the third and the fourth century, did not
regard Paul as the Author, but Luke, or Clement, or Barnabas. Jerome and
Augustine in the fifth century, a more enlightened age than the two
preceding centuries, ascribed to Paul the authorship; and since their
time the same opinion has prevailed in the Western, as it did from the
beginning in the Eastern Church. How to account for a different opinion
in the Western Church during the third and the fourth century, is
difficult. Some think it was owing to the Novalien Heresy, which some
parts of this Epistle were supposed to favour, though without any good
reason.
    As far then as the testimony of history goes, almost the whole weight
of evidence is in favour of Paul being the Author.

    With regard to modern times, the prevailing opinion has been that it
is the Epistle of Paul. Luther, indeed,  ascribed it to Apollos - a mere
conjecture. Calvin, as we  find, supposed that either Luke or Clement was
the author;  for which there are no satisfactory reasons. Beza differed
from his illustrious predecessor, and regarded Paul as the  writer; and
such has been the opinion entertained by most of the successors of the
Reformers, both in this country and on the Continent, as proved by their
confessions of Faith. 
    About the middle of the seventeenth century there seems to have been
a revival of the controversy; for in the year 1658 the younger Spanheim
wrote an elaborate treatise on the subject, in which he canvasses the
whole evidence, both historical and internal, and affords the strongest
ground for the conclusion that Paul was the writer of this Epistle. Since
that time, till late years, his arguments were regarded by most as
conclusive. But some of the German divines, who seem to have a taste for
exploded opinions, have again revived the question, produced afresh the
old arguments, and added some new ones to them. But a second Spanheim has
appeared in the person of Professor Stuart, of America, who has published
a learned Commentary on this Epistle, and prefixed to it a long
Introduction, in which he has fully entered into the subject, and more
fully than his predecessor. The labour and toil which this Introduction
must have cost its author, were no doubt very great; for every argument,
however frivolous, (and some of the arguments are very frivolous indeed,)
is noticed, and everything plausible is most clearly exposed.

    The evidence both external and internal is so satisfactory, that an
impression is left on the mind, that Paul was the author of this Epistle,
nearly equal to what his very name prefixed to it would have produced.
Indeed the writer can truly say, that he now entertains no more doubt on
the subject than if it had the Apostle's own superscription.

    As to the date of this Epistle, it is commonly supposed to have been
written late in 62 or early in 63, about the time that Paul was released
from his first imprisonment at Rome.
    There seem to be especially two reasons why Paul did not commence
this Epistle in his usual manner: first, because he was not specifically
an Apostle to the Jews, but to the Gentiles; and secondly, because the
contents of the Epistle are such that it was not necessary for him to
assume his Apostolic character; for the arguments are founded on
testimonies found in the Old Testament, and not on his authority as a
commissioned Apostle. His main object appears to have been to show and
prove that the Gospel is but a fulfilment of the ancient Scriptures,
which the Jews themselves received as divine. His arguments and his
examples are throughout borrowed from the Old Testament. This is a fact
that is too often overlooked, to which Macknight, in an especial manner,
very justly refers.

    The Epistle begins by indicating a connection between the Old and the
New Testament: both are revelations from the same God; He who spoke by
the Prophets in the Old speaks, speaks by His Son in the New. Then the
obvious and inevitable conclusion is, that the New is but the Old
completed. It is on this ground that the whole argument of the Epistle
proceeds.
    Having thus clearly intimated the connection between the two
Testaments, the Apostle immediately enters on his great subject - the
superiority of Him who introduced the perfected dispensation over all
connected with the previous incomplete, elementary, and, in a great
measure, symbolical dispensation, even over angels and Moses and the
Levitical high-priest. And this subject occupies the largest portion of
the Epistle, extending from the first chapter to the 19th verse of the
tenth chapter. From that verse to the end of the Epistle, we have
exhortations, warnings, examples of faith and patience, admonitions,
directions, and salutations.

    Then the Epistle divides itself into two main parts: - 1. The
didactic, including the ten first chapters, with the exception of the
latter part of the tenth. 2. The parainetic or hortative, from the 19th
verse of the tenth chapter to the end of the Epistle.

    The first part may be thus divided, -
        1.  Christ's superiority over angels - warnings -objections
            answered, ch. 1 and 2.
        2.  Christ's superiority over Moses - warnings as to faith and
            the promised rest, ch. 3 and 4:13.
        3.  Christ's superiority over the Levitical high-priest, as to
            his appointment, the perpetuity of his office, his covenant,
            and the efficacy of his atonement, ch. 4:14, to 10:19.

    The second part admits of these divisions, -
        1.  Exhortation to persevere, derived from the free access in a
            new way to God; from the awful fate of apostates; and from
            their own past example, ch. 10:19-37.
        2.  Exhortation to faith and patience, derived from the example
            of the ancient saints, ch. 10:38, to the end of ch. 11.
        3.  Exhortation to encounter trials and afflictions, derived from
            the example of Christ; and from the love of God, as
            manifested by afflictions, ch. 12:1-13.
        4.  Exhortation to peace and holiness, derived from our superior
            privileges, and the aggravated guilt of no electing Him who
            speaks to us from heaven, ch. 12:14-29.
        5.  Various directions and cautions, requests and salutations,
            ch. 13.

    The former part, the didactic, has many digressions, and hence the
difficulty sometimes of tracing the course of the Apostle's reasoning.
But it was his practice as appears from his other epistles, to apply, as
it were, the subject, as he proceeds. Having in the first chapter proved
the superiority of Christ over angels, he points out at the beginning of
the second the great danger of disregarding his doctrine, and of
neglecting his salvation, an inference drawn from what had been
previously proved. He then proceeds with the same subject, Christ's
superiority over angels, answers an objection derived from his human
nature, and shows the necessity there was that he should become man; as
he could not otherwise have sympathized with lost creatures, nor have
atoned for their Sins. Here he first refers to him in express terms as a
priest.
    Then in ch. 3 he proceeds to show Christ's superiority over Moses;
and having done so, he goes on in verse 7 to warn the Hebrews against
following the example of their forefathers, who, through unbelief, lost
the land of promise; and he pursues this subject to the end of the 13th
verse of ch. 4.

    The last section of the didactic part commences at ch. 4 and extends
to verse 19 of the tenth chapter; it occupies nearly six chapters, and
contains several episodes, so that it is sometimes no easy matter to
trace the connection.
    He begins this portion by calling attention to Christ as a
high-priest, whom he had before represented as such at the end of ch. 2;
where he mentions two things respecting him - that he became man, in
order that he might atone for sin, and in order that he might be capable
of sympathizing with his people. But here he refers mainly to the last,
to his sufferings; and in order to anticipate an objection from the fact
that he was a suffering Saviour, he mentions his appointment, which,
according to the testimony of David in the Book of Psalms, was to be
according to the order of Melchisedec. Without going on with this
subject, he makes a digression, and evidently for the purpose of making
them more attentive to the explanation he was going to give of
Melchisedec as a type of Christ in his priesthood.
    This digression contains several particulars. To arouse their
attention and stimulate them, he blames them for their ignorance,
mentions the danger of continuing satisfied with the knowledge of first
principles, and the impossibility of restoration in case of apostasy; he
gives an illustration of this from unproductive land after culture and
rain; reminds them of their past commendable conduct, and encourages them
to activity and zeal by an assurance respecting the certainty of Gods
promises, ch. 5:12, to the end of ch. 6.

    In chap. 7 he proceeds with Melchisedec as the type of Christ in his
priestly office. Christ is a priest according to his order, not according
to that of Aaron; then Aaron must have been superseded. According to the
testimony of David, Christ's priesthood excelled that of Aaron in two
things - it was established by an oath, and it was to he perpetuated
"forever," ch. 7 to the end of the 25th verse.
    He now goes on to the other part of this subject, to speak of Christ
as making an atonement for sin, ch. 7: 26, having before spoken of him as
a sympathizing priest from the circumstance of having been a sufferer.
While speaking of his expiation, he refers to the covenant of which he
was the Mediator, for expiations depended on the covenant. Respecting the
new covenant, he quotes the express words of Jeremiah; and it included
the remission of sins, and remission of sins necessarily implies an
expiation. Then in the ninth chapter he refers to the old covenant, the
tabernacle, and its services, and proves the insufficiency of these
services, they being only typical of what was to come. From the tenth
chapter to the 19th verse he pursues the same subject, and shows that the
sacrifices under the Law were insufficient for the remission of sins, and
that this could only be obtained through the Mediator of the new covenant
promised by God through his prophet Jeremiah, ch. 7: 26, to ch. 19.

    Here the Apostle completes the first part, having stated at large in
the last portion of it the claims of Christ as a high-priest, and these
claims are fully confirmed by the testimonies of the ancient Scriptures.
His arguments are such that it is impossible really to understand and
believe the Old Testament and to deny the New; the latter being most
evidently the fulfilment of the former. The Old Testament distinctly
speaks of another priesthood different from that of Aaron, and of another
covenant different from that made with the children of Israel, and of one
which would confer the remission of sins, which the other could not do.
Now these are the testimonies not of the New but of the Old Testament;
and the New exhibits a priest and a covenant exactly answerable to the
priest and the covenant which the Old Testament refers to and describes.
Nothing can be more plain and more conclusive than the Apostle's
arguments on this subject.

    The parainetic or hortative portion of the Epistle, extending from
chap. 10: 19 to the end, requires no further explanation.

    We especially learn from this Epistle that the distinctive character
of the old dispensation was symbolical, and of the new spiritual. The old
abounded in forms, rituals, and ceremonies; the new exhibits what these
things signified and typified. To have recourse again to symbols and
rituals, is to prefer darkness to light, to reverse the order of things,
and to disregard a favour which kings and prophets in ancient times
desired to enjoy. This is not only an evidence of fatuity, but it is also
ingratitude and sin, and it ought never to be deemed as innocent or
harmless. Having the glorious light of the Gospel, let us walk in the
light, and never regard "beggarly elements" as things to be perpetuated
and admired.

    This Commentary was translated into English by Clement Cotton, from
the French Version, and was published in 1605 under the following
title: - "A Commentarie on the whole Epistle to the Hebrews. By Iohn
Calvin. Translated out of French. The Lawe was given by Moses, but grace
and truth came by Iesus Christ. Iohn 1: 17. Imprinted at London by Felix
Kingston, for Arthur Johnson, and are to be sold at his shop neere the
great North doors of Pauls, at the signs of the white Horse. 1606." Like
his translation of Isaiah, that of the Commentary on the Hebrews, "though
not altogether suitable to modern taste, is faithful, vigorous,
idiomatic, and not inelegant."
    The "Epistle Dedicatorie" to Cotton's patron, Robert Cecil, Earl of
Salisbury, and his Address "to the Reader," have been reprinted as a
specimen of the style of such performances at that period.

                                                                   J. O.  
    Thrussington, August 1853



Cotton's  Epistle Dedicatory

                          To the Right Honorable
                    Robert Earle of Salisburie, Vicount
          Cranbourne, Baron of Essendon, Principall Secretarie to
             the Kings most excellent Maiestie, Master of the
                 Court of Wardes and Liueries, and one of
                       his Highnesse most Honorable
                              Priuie Counsel.

                       Grace and peace be multiplied

    Right Honorable, such has been the singular care and fatherly
providence of God over his church in these last times: that according to
his own most gratious promise (through the means of preaching and
writing) knowledge has overflowed in all places, as the waters that cover
the sea. Hence it is come to pass, that even this nation also, albeit
utterly unworthy to receive so much as the least sprincklings of this
knowledge, has not withstanding been replenished and filled therewith,
almost from corner to corner. Many chosen and worthy instruments has the
Lord raised up here and there for this purpose. But amongst the rest,
none for whom there is greater cause of thankfulness, than for that rare
and excellent light of this age, Mr. Calvin: whether in respect of the
large and many volumes, which with unwearable pains he has written, or
the exceeding fruits which the Churches have thereby gained. So that all
of sound judgement will acknowledge, that God had poured out upon him a
principal portion and measure of his spirit to profit with all, 1. Cor.
12. 7. Whereof, as his whole works give sufficient proofs, so his
Commentaries especially. For besides his sincerity and faithfulness in
delivering the true and naturals sense of the holy Scriptures; he has
this as peculiar to himself, that with his faithfulness and sincerity he
always matches an exceeding plainness and gravity: whereby his Reader may
obtain that he seeks, both with great ease, and
with very little loss of time.
    Divers of these his Commentaries, Right Honourable, have been already
translated to the great benefit of this nation: others yet remain
untranslated, which doubtless would be no less beneficial. The which, as
I have earnestly desired; so, had gifts and means been in any measure
answerable, it had been performed ere this. For the present, I have been
bold to give your Honour a small taste thereof in these my poor first
fruits: wherein although my pains are no way sufficient to commend the
same unto your Honour, yet I doubt not but the matter itself will be
found worthy of your H. patronage. For where are the natures and offices
of Christ so largely described; the doctrine of the free remission of
sins in Christ's blood better established, or faith with her effects more
highly commended, than in this Epistle to the Hebrews?
    Now as touching the reasons, Right Honorable, that have moved me
hereunto, they are briefly these; First, I was not ignorant what singular
love and affection your Honour bare to the author of this Commentary for
his work's sake, whereof many also are witnesses. Unto which, if your
Honour should be pleased to add a second favour in Patronizing these his
labours, I thought it would be a special means to revive his memory
again, now almost decayed amongst us.
    Secondly, I was persuaded that if your Lordship, whom it has pleased
the Almighty so highly to advance, being also a favourer and defender of
the truth, and of all good causes; would permit this works to pass under
your Honours protection: that it would be both better esteemed, and the
more acceptably received of all.
    Lastly, my good Lord. As I cannot conceal that deep and inward
affection of love and duties which I owe unto your Honour, in regard of
the near employments which sometimes a dear friend of mine had about your
Lordship in your young years: so by this dedication it was my desire to
testify part of a thankful mind, in respect that you have not suffered
neither length of time, nor your H. weighty affairs in matters of state,
to wear the same out of your Honorable remembrance: as by the great
favours your H. has lately showed in that behalf, does plainly appear.
    Thus in most humble manner craving pardon for my great boldness, I
humbly end; beseeching the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth,
to pour out the abundance of all blessings both upon you and yours in
this life, and to crown your H. and them with immortals blessedness in
his kingdoms of Gloria, through Christ.

                         Your Honours in all humble and dutiful affection,
ever to be commanded,          

                                                       Clement Cotton     


To the Reader

    Dear Christian Reader, among the many helps wherewith God has
furnished thee for the furtherance of thy godly Meditations and spiritual
growth in Christ, I pray thee accept of this amongst the rest; of which
(if I may so speaks) thou has been too long unfurnished. Diverse good and
godly men have laboured, some by their own writings, and some again by
translating the works of others, to store thee with Sermons and
Expositions in English, upon all the books of the New Testament, this
Epistle to the Hebrews lonely excepted: which lack, rather than it should
be unsupplied, has caused me (the unfittest I confess at many thousands)
to undertake the translation of the Commentary ensuing: which being
finished, I have been bold (for thy benefit Christian Reader) now to
publish. Hoping therefore of thy friendly allowance and acceptance of
these my poor endeavours: I beseech thee, if thou reap that benefit
thereby, which I heartily with thou may, to give God the praise, and to
help me with thy prayers. Thus commending thee and thy studies to the
grace of God, I bid thee farewell.

                                                     Thine ever in Christ,

                                                                 C.C.     


Calvin's Epistle Dedicatory
                                John Calvin
                to the Most Mighty and Most Serene Prince,
                            Sigismund Augustus,
                 by the Grace of God, the King of Poland,
                 Great Duke of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia,
                    and Lord and Heir of Muscovy, etc.

There are at this day many foolish men, who everywhere, through a vain
desire for writing, engage the minds of ignorant and thoughtless readers
with their trifles. And to this evil, most illustrious King, is added
another indignity - that while they inscribe to kings and princes their
silly things, to disguise, or at least to cover them by borrowed
splendour, they not only profane sacred names, but also impart to them
some measure of their own disgrace. Since the unreasonable temerity of
such men makes it necessary for serious and sober writers to frame an
excuse, when they publicly dedicate their labours to great men, while yet
there is nothing in them but what corresponds with the greatness of those
to whom they are offered, it was necessary to make this remark, lest I
should seem to be of the number of those who allow themselves, through
the example of others, to render public anything they please, however
foolish it may be. But it has not escaped me how much it has the
appearance of foolish confidence, that I, (not to speak of other things,)
who am an unknown and obscure man, should not hesitate to address your
royal Majesty. Let my reasons be heard, and if you, O King, approve of
what I do, what others may judge will cause me no great anxiety.
    First, then, though I am not forgetful of mine insignificance, nor
ignorant of the reverence due to your Majesty, yet the fame of your
piety, which has extended almost to all who are zealous for the sincere
doctrine of Christ, is alone sufficient to remorse any fear; for I bring
with me a present which that piety will not allow you to reject. Since
the Epistle inscribed to the Hebrews contains a full discussion
respecting the eternal divinity of Christ, his government, and only
priesthood, (which are the main points of celestial wisdom,) and as these
things are so explained in it, that the whole power and work of Christ
are set forth in the most graphic manner, it deservedly ought to obtain
in the Church the place and the honour of an invaluable treasure. By you
also, who desire that the Son of God should reign alone and be glorified,
I doubt not but that it will be valued.
    In the interpretation which I have undertaken, I say not that I have
succeeded; but I feel confident that when you have read it you will
approve at least of my fidelity and diligence. And as I claim not the
praise of great knowledge or of erudition, so what has been given me by
the Lord for the purpose of understanding the Scripture, (since this is
to glory in him,) I am not ashamed to profess; and if in this respect I
have any capacity to assist the Church of God, I have endeavoured to give
an evident proof of it in these my labours. I therefore hope that the
present (as I have said) which I offer will not only avail, O King, as an
excuse to your Majesty, but also procure for me no small favour.
    This may possibly be also a new encouragement to your Majesty, who is
already engaged in the work of restoring the kingdom of Christ, and to
many who live under your government to further the same work. Your
kingdom is extensive and renowned, and abounds in many excellences; but
its happiness will then only be solid, when it adopts Christ as its chief
ruler and governor, so that it may be defended by his safeguard and
protection; for to submit your sceptre to him, is not inconsistent with
that elevation in which you are placed; but it would be far more glorious
than all the triumphs of the world. For since among men gratitude is
deemed the proper virtue of a great and exalted mind, what in kings can
be more unbecoming than to be ungrateful to the Son, by whom they have
been raised to the highest degree of honour? It is, therefore, not only
an honorable, but more than a royal service, which raises us to the rank
of angels, when the throne of Christ is erected among us, so that his
celestial voice becomes the only rule for living and dying both to the
highest and to the lowest. For though at this day to obey the authority
of Christ is the common profession, made almost by all, yet there are
very few who render this obedience of which they boast.
    Now this obedience cannot be rendered, except the whole of religion
be formed according to the infallible rule of his holy truth. But on this
point strange conflicts arise, while men, not only inflated with pride,
but also bewitched by monstrous madness, pay less regard to the
unchangeable oracles of our heavenly Master than to their own vain
fictions; for whatever pretences they may set up, who oppose us and
strive to assist the Roman Antichrist, the very fountain of all the
contentions, by which the Church for these thirty years has been so
sorely disturbed, will be found to be, that they who seek to be deemed
first among Christ's disciples, cannot bear to submit to his truth.
Ambition as well as audacity has so far prevailed, that the truth of God
lies buried under innumerable lies, that all his institutions are
polluted by the basest corruptions; his worship is in every part
vitiated, the doctrine of faith is wholly subverted, the sacraments are
adulterated, the government of the Church is turned into barbarous
tyranny, the abominable sale of sacred things has been set up, the power
of Christ has been abused for the purpose of sustaining the tyranny of
the ungodly, and in the place of Christianity is substituted a dreadful
profanation, full of the grossest mummeries of every kind. When for these
so many and so atrocious evils we bring this one remedy - to hear the Son
of God speaking from heaven, we are instantly opposed by these Atlases,
not those who support the Church on their shoulders, but who elevate on
high by vain boastings of empty titles an idol devised and formed by
themselves. They also adduce this as a pretext for their fierce
recriminations, that we by our appeals disturb the peace of the Church.
When we come to know things aright, we see that these subtle artifices
devise for themselves a Church wholly different from that of Christ! And
what else is this but a wicked and sacrilegious attempt to separate the
body from its head? It hence appears how frivolous is the boasting of
many as to Christianity; for the greatest part suffer themselves to be
governed by nothing less than by the pure teaching of the Gospel.
    But what you acknowledge, O King, that in order that Christ may take
an entire possession of his own kingdom, it is necessary to clear away
all superstitions, is a proof of singular wisdom; and to undertake and
attempt what you judge to be thus necessary, is an evidence of rare
virtue. That you are indeed like another Hezekiah or Josiah, destined by
God to restore shortly to the kingdom of Poland a purer teaching of that
gospel, which has been throughout the world vitiated by the craft of
Satan and perfidy of men, there are many things which give almost a
certain hope to all good men. For, to omit other superior qualities,
which even foreigners proclaim and men of your own kingdom observe with
great advantage, there has ever appeared in you a wonderful concern for
religion, and religion itself appears eminent in you in the present day.
But the chief thing is, that Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, has so
irradiated your mind with the light of his Gospel, that you understand
that the true way of governing the Church is no other than what is to be
derived from him, and that you at the same time know the difference
between that genuine form of religion which he has instituted, and that
fictions and degenerate form which was afterwards introduced; for you
wholly understand that God's worship has been corrupted and deformed, as
innumerable superstitions have crept in, that the grace of Christ has
been unworthily involved in great darkness, that the virtue of his death
has been annihilated, that he himself has been almost lacerated and torn
in pieces, that assurance of salvation has been plucked up by the roots,
that consciences have been miserably and even horribly vexed and
tormented, that wretched men have been led away from the sincere and
right worship of God into various and perplexed labyrinths, that the
Church has been cruelly and tyrannically oppressed; and, in short, that
no real Christianity has been left.
    It is not to be believed, O most noble King, that you have been in
vain endowed by God with this knowledge; doubtless he has chosen you as
his minister for some great purposes. And it has hitherto happened
through God's wonderful Providence that no innocent blood has been shed
in the renowned kingdom of Poland - no, not a drop, which by calling for
vengeance might retard so great a benefit. It was through the clemency
and gentleness of King Sigismund, of happy memory, the father of your
Majesty, that this did not take place; for, while the contagion of
cruelty was spreading through the whole of the Christian world, he kept
his hands pure. But now your Majesty and some of the most eminent of your
princes not only receive Christ willingly when offered to them, but
anxiously desire him. I also see John a Lasco, born of a noble family,
carrying the torch to other nations.
    The presumption of Eckius is by no means to be endured, who dedicated
to King Sigismund, the father of your Majesty, his book on The Sacrifice
of the Mass; for he thus, as far as he could, affixed a base blot to your
illustrious kingdom! At the same time, it was nothing strange in that
Silenus, who, being the prince of drunkards, was wont to vomit at the
altar as well as at the dunghill. Now, by dedicating this my labour to
your Majesty, I shall at least effect this, that I shall wash away from
the name of Poland the base filth of Eckius, so that it may not stick
where it has been so unworthily fixed. And by doing so I shall not, as it
seems to me, attain a small object; and no book of Scripture could hardly
be chosen so suitable for such a purpose. For here our Apostle shows in
an especial manner, that the sacrifice which Eckius advocates is
manifestly inconsistent with the priesthood of Christ. There is here,
indeed, no mention of the mass, which Satan had not then vomited out of
hell. But by bidding the Church to be satisfied with the one only true
sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross, that all rites of
sacrificing might cease forever, he doubtless closes the door against all
their new glosses. The Apostle cries aloud that Christ was sacrificed on
the cross once for all, while Eckius feigns that this sacrifice is daily
renewed! The Apostle declares that the only Son of God was the fit priest
to offer himself to the Father, and hence he was constituted by an oath;
but Eckius denies that he alone is the priest, and transfers that
function to hired sacrificers! At the same time, I am not ignorant of the
evasions by which they elude these and similar arguments; but there is no
fear that he will deceive any but those who are blind or who shun the
light. He was at the same time so inebriated with Thrasonic haughtiness
that he laboured more in insolent boasting than in subtle demonstration.
That I may not, however, seem to triumph over a dead dog, I will add
nothing more at present than that my Commentary may serve to wipe off the
filthy stain which that unprincipled and Scottish man attempted to fix on
the name of Poland; and there is no fear that they who will read will be
taken by his baits.
    Moreover, as I wish not in offering this my labour to your Majesty,
only to show privately a regard for you, O King, but especially to make
it known to the whole world, it remains now for me humbly to implore your
Majesty not to repudiate what I do. If indeed a stimulus be thereby given
to encourage your pious endeavours, I shall think it an ample
remuneration. Undertake, then, I pray, 0 magnanimous King, under the
auspicious banner of Christ, a work so worthy of your royal elevation, as
well as of your heroic virtue, so that the eternal truth of God, by which
his own glory and the salvation of men are promoted, may, wherever thy
kingdom spreads, recover its own authority, which has been taken away by
the fraudulent dealings of Antichrist. It is truly an arduous work, and
of such magnitude as is sufficient to fill even the wisest with
solicitude and fear.
    But first, there is no danger which we ought not cheerfully to
undergo, no difficulty which we ought not resolutely to undertake, no
conflicts in which we ought not boldly to engage, in a cause so
necessary. Secondly, as it is the peculiar work of Gods we ought not in
this case to regard so much the extent of human powers as the glory due
to his power; so that, relying on that not only to help us, but also to
guide us, we may venture on things far beyond our own strength; for the
work of restoring and establishing the church is not without reason
everywhere assigned in Scripture to God. Besides, the work itself is
altogether divine; and as soon as any beginning is made, whatever arts of
injury Satan possesses, he employs them all either to stop or to delay a
further progress. And we know that the prince of this world has
innumerable agents who are ever ready to oppose the kingdom of Christ.
Some are instigated by ambition, others by gain. These contests try us in
some degree in our humble condition; but your majesty will have, no
doubt, to experience far greater difficulties. Therefore, all those who
undertake to promote the doctrine of salvation and the well-being of the
Church must be armed with invincible firmness. But as this business is
above our strength, aid from heaven will be granted to us.
    It is in the meantime our duty to have all these promises which
everywhere occur in Scripture inscribed on our hearts. The Lord who has
himself as it were by his own hand laid the foundations of the Church,
will not suffer it to remain in a decayed state, for he is represented as
solicitous to restore it and to repair its ruins; for, by speaking thus,
he in effect promises that he will never fail us when engaged in this
work. As he would not have us to sit down as idle spectators of his
power, so the presence of his aid in sustaining the hands which labour,
clearly proves that he himself is the chief architect. What, therefore,
he so often repeats and inculcates, and not without reason, is, that we
are not to grow weary, however often we may have to contend with enemies,
who continually break forth into hostility; for they are, as we have
said, almost infinite in number, and in kinds various. But this one thing
is abundantly sufficient, that we have such an invincible Leader, that
the more he is assailed the greater will be the victories and triumphs
gained by his power.
    Farewell, invincible King. May the Lord Jesus rule you by the spirit
of wisdom, sustain you by the spirit of valour, bestow on you all kinds
of blessings, long preserve your Majesty in health and prosperity, and
protect your kingdom. Amen.

Geneva, May 23, 1549





The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Argument


NOT only various opinions were formerly entertained as to the author of
this Epistle, but it was only at a late period that it was received by
the Latin Churches. They suspected that it favoured Novatus in denying
pardon to the fallen; but that this was a groundless opinion will be
shown by various passages. I, indeed, without hesitation, class it among
apostolical writings; nor do I doubt but that it has been through the
craft of Satan that any have been led to dispute its authority. There is,
indeed, no book in the Holy Scriptures which speaks so clearly of the
priesthood of Christ, so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that
only true sacrifice which he offered by his death, so abundantly treats
of the use of ceremonies as well as of their abrogation, and, in a word,
so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law. Let us not therefore
suffer the Church of God nor ourselves to be deprived of so great a
benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it.
    Moreover, as to its author, we need not be very solicitous. Some
think the author to have been Paul, others Luke, others Barnabas, and
others Clement, as Jerome relates; yet Eusebius, in his sixth book of his
Church History, mentions only Luke and Clement. I well know that in the
time of Chrysostom it was everywhere classed by the Greeks among the
Pauline Epistles; but the Latins thought otherwise, even those who were
nearest to the times of the Apostles.
    I indeed, can adduce no reason to show that Paul was its author; for
they who say that he designedly suppressed his name because it was
hateful to the Jews, bring nothing to the purpose; for why, then, did he
mention the name of Timothy as by this he betrayed himself. But the
manner it of teaching, and the style, sufficiently show that Paul was not
the author; and the writer himself confesses in the second chapter that
he was one of the disciples of the Apostles, which is wholly different
from the way in which Paul spoke of himself. Besides, what is said of the
practice of catechizing in the sixth chapter, does not well suit the time
or age of Paul. There are other things which we shall notice in their
proper places. 
    What excuse is usually made as to the style I well know  that is,
that no opinion can be hence formed, because the Greek is a translation
made from the Hebrew by Luke or someone else. But this conjecture can be
easily refuted: to pass by other places quoted from Scripture, on the
supposition that the Epistle was written in Hebrew, there would have been
no allusion to the word Testament, on which the writer so much dwells;
what he says of a Testament, in the ninth chapter, could not have been
drawn from any other fountain than from the Greek word; for |diatheke|
has two meanings in Greek, while |berit| in Hebrew means only a covenant.
This reason alone is enough to convince men of sound judgment that the
epistle was written in the Greek languages. Now, what is objected on the
other hand, that it is more probable that the Apostle wrote to the Jews
in their own language, has no weight in it; for how few then understood
their ancient language? Each had learned the language of the country
where he dwelt. Besides, the Greek was then more widely known than all
other languages. We shall proceed now to the Argument.
    The object at the beginning is not to show to the Jews that Jesus,
the son of Mary, was the Christ, the Redeemer promised to them, for he
wrote to those who had already made a profession of Christ; that point,
then, is taken as granted. But the design of the writer was to prove what
the office of Christ is. And it hence appears evident, that by his coming
an end was put to ceremonies. It is necessary to draw this distinction;
for as it would have been a superfluous labour for the Apostle to prove
to those who were already convinced that he was the Christ who had
appeared, so it was necessary for him to show what he was, for they did
not as yet clearly understand the end, the effect, and the advantages of
his coming; but being taken up with a false view of the Law, they laid
hold on the shadow instead of the substance. Our business with the
Papists is similar in the present day; for they confess with us that
Christ is the Son of God, the redeemer who had been promised to the
world: but when we come to the reality, we find that they rob him of more
than one-half of his power.
    Now, the beginning is respecting the dignity of Christ; for it seemed
strange to the Jews that the Gospel should be preferred to the Law. And
first indeed he settles that point which was in dispute, that the
doctrine brought by Christ had the preeminence, for it was the fulfilment
of all the prophecies. But as the reverence in which they held Moses
might have been a hindrance to them, he shows that Christ was far
superior to all others. And after having briefly referred to those things
in which he excelled others, he mentions by name the angels, that with
them he might reduce all to their proper rank. Thus he advanced prudently
in his course; for if he had begun with Moses, his comparison would have
been more disliked. But when it appears from Scripture that celestial
powers are subordinated to Christ, there is no reason why Moses or any
mortal being should refuse to be classed with them, so that the Son of
God may appear eminent above angels as well as men. 
    After having thus brought the angels under the power and dominion of
Christ, the Apostle having, as it were, gained confidence, declares that
Moses was so much inferior to him as a servant is to his master.
    By thus setting Christ in the three first chapters in a supreme state
of power, he intimates, that when he speaks all ought to be silent, and
that nothing should prevent us from seriously attending to his doctrine.
At the same time he sets him forth in the second chapter as our brother
in our flesh; and thus he allures us to devote ourselves more willingly
to him; and he also blends exhortations and threatening in order to lead
those to obedience who are tardy or perversely resist; and he continues
in this strain nearly to the end of the fourth chapter.
    At the end of the fourth chapter he begins to explain the priesthood
of Christ, which abolishes all the ceremonies of the Law. But after
having briefly showed how welcome that priesthood ought to be to us, and
how gladly we ought to acquiesce in it, he shortly turns aside to reprove
the Jews, because they stopped at the first elements of religion like
children; and he also terrifies them with a grievous and severe
denunciation, that there was danger lest they, if slothful to make
progress, should at length be rejected by the Lord. But he presently
softens this asperity by saying, that he hoped better things of them, in
order that he might encourage them, whom he had depressed, to make
progress.
    Then [in the seventh chapter] he returns to the priesthood; and first
shows that it differed from the ancient priesthood under the Law;
secondly, that it was more excellent, because it succeeded it, and was
sanctioned by an oath, - because it is eternal, and remains for ever
efficacious, - because he who performs its duties is superior in honour
and dignity to Aaron and all the rest of the Levitical tribe; and he
shows that the type which shadowed forth all things was found in the
person of Melchisedec.
    And in order to prove more fully that the ceremonies of the Law were
abrogated he mentions that the ceremonies were appointed, and also the
tabernacle, for a particular end, even that they might get forth the
heavenly prototype. Hence it follows, that they were not to be rested in
unless we wish to stop in the middle of our course, having no regard to
the goal. On this subject he quotes a passage from Jeremiah, in which a
new covenant is promised, which was nothing else than an improvement on
the old. It hence follows, that the old was weak and fading.
    Having spoken of the likeness and similitude between the shadows and
the reality exhibited in Christ, he then concludes that all the rituals
appointed by Moses have been abrogated by the one only true sacrifice of
Christ, because the efficacy of this sacrifice is perpetual, and that not
only the sanction of the New Testament is made by it complete, but that
it is also a true and a spiritual accomplishment of that external
priesthood which was in force under the Law.
    To this doctrine he again connects exhortation like a goad, that
putting aside all impediments they might receive Christ with due
reverence. 
    As to the many examples he mentions in the eleventh chapter
concerning the fathers, they seem to me to have been brought forward for
this purpose, - that the Jews might understand, that if they were led
from Moses to Christ, they would be so far from departing from the
fathers, that they would thus be especially connected with them. For if
the chief thing in them was faith, and the root of all other virtues, it
follows that this is especially that by which they should be counted the
children of Abraham and the Prophets; and that on the other hand all are
bastards who follow not the faith of the fathers. And this is no small
commendation of the Gospel, that by it we have union and fellowship with
the universal Church, which has been from the beginning of the world.
    The two last chapters contain various precepts as to the way in which
we ought to live: their speak of hope, of bearing the cross, of
perseverance, of gratitude towards God, of obedience, of mercy, of the
duties of love, of chastity, and of such like things. And lastly, he
concludes with prayer, and at the same time gives them a hope of his
coming to see them.




Commentaries on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews



Chapter 1

=====> 1:1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time
past unto the fathers by the prophets,
1:2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath
appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

=====> 1:1. "God formerly," &c. This beginning is for the purpose of
commending the doctrine taught by Christ; for it shows that we ought not
only reverently to receive it, but also to be satisfied with it alone.
That we may understand this more clearly, we must observe the contrast
between each of the clauses. First, the Son of God is set in opposition
to the prophets; then we to the fathers; and, thirdly, the various and
manifold modes of speaking which God had adopted as to the fathers, to
the last revelation brought to us by Christ. But in this diversity he
still sets before us but one God, that no one might think that the Law
militates against the Gospel, or that the author of one is not the author
of the other. That you may, therefore, understand the full import of this
passage, the following arrangement shall be given, -

                                 God spoke
Formerly by the Prophets, . . . . . . . . .Now by the Son;                
Then to the Fathers,. . . . . . . . . . . .But now to us;                 
Then at various times . . . . . . . . . . .Now as at the end of the times.

This foundation being laid, the agreement between the Law and the Gospel
is established; for God, who is ever like himself, and whose word is the
same, and whose truth is unchangeable, has spoken as to both in common.
    But we must notice the difference between us and the fathers; for God
formerly addressed them in a way different from that which he adopts
towards us now. And first indeed as to them he employed the prophets, but
he has appointed his Son to be an ambassador to us. Our condition, then,
in this respect, is superior to that of the fathers. Even Moses is to be
also classed among the prophets, as he is one of the number of those who
are inferior to the Son. In the manner also in which revelation was made,
we have an advantage over them. For the diversity as to visions and other
means adopted under the Old Testament, was an indication that it was not
yet a fixed state of things, as when matters are put completely in order.
Hence he says, "multifariously and in many ways". God would have indeed
followed the same mode perpetually to the end, had the mode been perfect
and complete. It hence follows, that this variety was an evidence of
imperfection.
    The two words I thus understand: I refer "multifariously" to a
diversity as to times; for the Greek word |polumeroos|, which we may
render, "in many parts," as the case usually is, when we intend to speak
more fully hereafter; but |polutropoos| points out a diversity, as I
think, in the very manner itself. And when he speaks of "the last times",
he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new
revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the
final conclusion. It is in this sense that the Apostles take "the last
times" and "the last days." And Paul means the same when he says, "Upon
whom the ends of the world are come." (1 Cor. 10: 11.) If God then has
spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also
when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two
things it is very needful for us to know. For it was a great hindrance to
the Jews that they did not consider that God had deferred a fuller
revelation to another time; hence, being satisfied with their own Law,
they did not hasten forward to the goal. But since Christ has appeared,
an opposite evil began to prevail in the world; for men wished to advance
beyond Christ. What else indeed is the whole system of Popery but the
overleaping of the boundary which the Apostle has fixed? As, then, the
Spirit of God in this passage invites all to come as far as Christ, so he
forbids them to go beyond the last time which he mentions. In short, the
limit of our wisdom is made here to be the Gospel.
=====> 1:2. "Whom he has appointed, heir", &c. He honours Christ with
high commendations, in order to lead us to show him reverence; for since
the Father has subjected all things to him, we are all under his
authority. He also intimates that no good can be found apart from him, as
he is the heir of all things. It hence follows that we must be very
miserable and destitute of all good things except he supplies us with his
treasures. He further adds that this honour of possessing all things
belongs by right to the Son, because by him have all things been created.
At the same time, these two things are ascribed to Christ for different
reasons.
    The world was created by him, as he is the eternal wisdom of God,
which is said to have been the director of all his works from the
beginning; and hence is proved the eternity of Christ, for he must have
existed before the world was created by him. If, then, the duration of
his time be inquired of, it will be found that it has no beginning. Nor
is it any derogation to his power that he is said to have created the
world, as though he did not by himself create it. According to the most
usual mode of speaking in Scripture, the Father is called the Creator;
and it is added in some places that the world was created by wisdom, by
the word, by the Son, as though wisdom itself had been the creator, [or
the word, or the Son.] But still we must observe that there is a
difference of persons between the Father and the Son, not only with
regard to men, but with regard to God himself. But the unity of essence
requires that whatever is peculiar to Deity should belong to the Son as
well as to the Father, and also that whatever is applied to God only
should belong to both; and yet there is nothing in this to prevent each
from his own peculiar properties.
    But the word "heir" is ascribed to Christ as manifested in the flesh;
for being made man, he put on our nature, and as such received this
heirship, and that for this purpose, that he might restore to us what we
had lost in Adam. For God had at the beginning constituted man, as his
Son, the heir of all good things; but through sin the first man became
alienated from God, and deprived himself and his posterity of all good
things, as well as of the favour of God.  We hence only then begin to
enjoy by right the good things of God, when Christ, the universal heir,
admits to a union with himself; for he is an heir that he may endow us
with his riches. But the Apostle now adorns him with this title, that we
may know that without him we are destitute of all good things.
    If you take "all" in the masculine gender, the meaning is, that we
ought all to be subject to Christ, because we have been given to him by
the Father. But I prefer reading it in the neuter gender; then it means
that we are driven from the legitimate possession of all things, both in
heaven and on earth, except we be united to Christ.

=====> 1:3  Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express
image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,
when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the
Majesty on high.

=====> 1:3. "Who being the brightness of his glory," &c. These things are
said of Christ partly as to his divine essence, and partly as a partaker
of our flesh. When he is called the "brightness of his glory and the
impress of his substance", his divinity is referred to; the other things
appertain in a measure to his human nature. The whole, however, is stated
in order to set forth the dignity of Christ.
    But it is for the same reason that the Son is said to be "the
brightness of his glory", and "the impress of his substance:" they are
words borrowed from nature. For nothing can be said of things so great
and so profound, but by similitudes taken from created things. There is
therefore no need refinedly to discuss the question how the Son, who has
the same essence with the Father, is a brightness emanating from his
light. We must allow that there is a degree of impropriety in the
language when what is borrowed from created things is transferred to the
hidden majesty of God. But still the things which are indent to our
senses are fitly applied to God, and for this end, that we may know what
is to be found in Christ, and what benefits he brings to us.
    It ought also to be observed that frivolous speculations are not here
taught, but an important doctrine of faith. We ought therefore to apply
these high titles given to Christ for our own benefit, for they bear a
relation to us. When, therefore, thou hear that the Son is the brightness
of the Father's glory, think thus with thyself, that the glory of the
Father is invisible until it shines forth in Christ, and that he is
called the impress of his substance, because the majesty of the Father is
hidden until it shows itself impressed as it were on his image. They who
overlook this connection and carry their philosophy higher, weary
themselves to no purpose, for they do not understand the design of the
Apostle; for it was not his object to show what likeness the Father bears
to the Son; but, as I have said, his purpose was really to build up our
faith, so that we may learn that God is made known to us in no other way
than in Christ: for as to the essence of God, so immense is the
brightness that it dazzles our eyes, except it shines on us in Christ. It
hence follows, that we are blind as to the light of God, until in Christ
it beams on us. It is indeed a profitable philosophy to learn Christ by
the real understanding of faith and experience. The same view, as I have
said is to be taken of "the impress;" for as God is in himself to us
incomprehensible, his form appears to us only in his Son.
    The word |apaugasma| means here nothing else but visible  light or
refulgence, such as our eyes can bear; and |charakter| is the vivid form
of a hidden substance. By the first word we are reminded that without
Christ there is no light, but only darkness; for as God is the only true
light by which it behaves us all to be illuminated, this light sheds
itself upon us, so to speak, only by irradiation. By the second word we
are reminded that God is truly and really known in Christ; for he is not
his obscure or shadowy image, but his impress which resembles him, as
money the impress of the die with which it is stamped. But the Apostle
indeed says what is more than this, even that the substance of the Father
is in a manner engraven on the Son.
    The word |hupostasis|, which, by following others, I have rendered
substance, denotes not, as I think, the being or essence of the Father,
but his person; for it would be strange to say that the essence of God is
impressed on Christ, as the essence of both is simply the same. But it
may truly and fitly be said that whatever peculiarly belongs to the
Father is exhibited in Christ, so that he who knows him knows what is in
the Father. And in this sense do the orthodox fathers take this term,
hypostasis, considering it to be threefold in God, while the essence
(|ousia|) is simply one. Hilary everywhere takes the Latin word substance
for person. But though it be not the Apostle's object in this place to
speak of what Christ is in himself, but of what he is really to us, yet
he sufficiently confutes the Asians and Sabellians; for he claims for
Christ what belongs to God alone, and also refers to two distinct
persons, as to the Father and the Son. For we hence learn that the Son is
one God with the Father, and that he is yet in a sense distinct from him,
so that a subsistence or person belongs to both.
    "And upholding (or bearing) all things", &c. To uphold or to bear
here means to preserve or to continue all that is created in its own
state; for he intimates that all things would instantly come to nothing,
were they not sustained by his power. Though the pronoun "his" may be
referred to the Father as well as to the Son, as it may be rendered "his
own," yet as the other exposition is more commonly received, and well
suits the context, I am disposed to embrace it. Literally it is, "by the
word of his power;" but the genitive, after the Hebrew manner, is used
instead of an adjective; for the perverted explanation of some, that
Christ sustains all things by the word of the Father, that is, by himself
who is the word, has nothing in its favour: besides, there is no need of
such forced explanation; for Christ is not wont to be called |rhema|,
saying, but |logos|, word. Hence the "word" here means simply a nod; and
the sense is, that Christ who preserves the whole world by a nod only,
did not yet refuse the office of effecting our purgation.
    Now this is the second part of the doctrine handled in this Epistle;
for a statement of the whole question is to be found in these two
chapters, and that is, that Christ, endued with supreme authority, ought
to be head above all others, and that as he has reconciled us to his
Father by his own death, he has put an end to the ancient sacrifices. And
so the first point, though a general proposition, is yet a tea of old
clause.
    When he further says, "by himself", there is to be understood here a
contrast, that he had not been aided in this by the shadows of the Mosaic
Law. He shows besides a difference between him and the Levitical priests;
for they also were said to expiate sins, but they derived this power from
another. In short, he intended to exclude all other means or helps by
stating that the price and the power of purgation were found only in
Christ.
    "Sat down on the right hand," &c.; as though he had said, that having
in the world procured salvation for men, he was received into celestial
glory, in order that he might govern all things. And he added this in
order to show that it was not a temporary salvation he has obtained for
us; for we should otherwise be too apt to measure his power by what now
appears to us. He then reminds us that Christ is not to be less esteemed
because he is not seen by our eyes; but, on the contrary, that this was
the height of his glory, that he has been taken and conveyed to the
highest seat of his empire. "The right hand" is by a similitude applied
to God, though he is not confined to any place, and has not a right side
nor left. The session then of Christ means nothing else but the kingdom
given to him by the Father, and that authority which Paul mentions, when
he says that in his name every knee should bow. (Phil. 2: 10) Hence to
sit at the right hand of the Father is no other thing than to govern in
the place of the Father, as deputies of princes are wont to do to whom a
full power over all things is granted.  And the word "majesty" is added,
and also "on high", and for this purpose, to intimate that Christ is
seated on the supreme throne whence the majesty of God shines forth. As,
then, he ought to be loved on account of his redemption, so he ought to
be adored on account of his royal magnificence.

=====> 1:4. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by
inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
1:5  For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son,
this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and
he shall be to me a Son?
1:6  And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he
saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

=====> 1:4. "Being made so much better", &e. After having raised Christ
above Moses and all others, he now amplifies His glory by a comparison
with angels. It was a common notion among the Jews, that the Law was
given by angels; they attentively considered the honorable things spoken
of them everywhere in Scripture; and as the world is strangely inclined
to superstition, they obscured the glory of God by extolling angels too
much. It was therefore necessary to reduce them to their own rank, that
they might not overshadow the brightness of Christ. And first he proves
from his name, that Christ far excelled them, for he is called the Son of
God; and that he was distinguished by this title he shows by two
testimonies from Scripture, both of which must be examined by us; and
then we shall sum up their full import.
=====> 1:5. "Thou art my Son", &c. It cannot be denied but that this was
spoken of David, that is, as he sustained the person of Christ. Then the
things found in this Psalm must have been shadowed forth in David, but
were fully accomplished in Christ. For that he by subduing many enemies
around him, enlarged the borders of his kingdom, it was some
foreshadowing of the promise, "I will give thee the heathen for thine
inheritance." But how little was this in comparison with the amplitude of
Christ's kingdom, which extends from the east to the west? For the same
reason David was called the son of God, having been especially chosen to
perform great things; but his glory was hardly a spark, even the
smallest, to that glory which shone forth in Christ, on whom the Father
has imprinted his own image. So the name of Son belongs by a peculiar
privilege to Christ alone, and cannot in this sense be applied to any
other without profanation, for him and no other has the Father sealed.
    But still the argument of the Apostle seems not to be well-grounded;
for how does he maintain that Christ is superior to angels except on this
ground, that he has the name of a Son? As though indeed he had not this
in common with princes and those high in power, of whom it is written,
"Ye are gods and the sons of the most", (Ps. 50:6;) and as though
Jeremiah had not spoken as honorably of all Israel, when he called them
the firstborn of God. (Jer. 31:9.) They are indeed everywhere called
children or sons. Besides, David calls angels the sons of God; "Who," he
says, "is like to Jehovah among the sons of God?" (Ps. 84: 6.)
    The answer to all this is in no way difficult. Princes are called by
this name on account of a particular circumstance; as to Israel, the
common grace of election is thus denoted; angels are called the sons of
God as having a certain resemblance to him, because they are celestial
spirits and possess some portion of divinity in their blessed
immortality. But when David without any addition calls himself as the
type of Christ the Son of God, he denotes something peculiar and more
excellent than the honour given to angels or to princes, or even to all
Israel. Otherwise it would have been an improper and absurd expression,
if he was by way of excellence called the son of God, and yet had nothing
more than others; for he is thus separated from all other beings. When it
is said so exclusively of Christ, "Thou art my Son," it follows that this
honour does not belong to any of the angels.
    If any one again objects and says, that David was thus raised above
the angels; to this I answer, that it is nothing strange for him to be
elevated above angels while bearing the image of Christ; for in like
manner there was no wrong done to angels when the high-priest, who made
an atonement for sins, was called a mediator. They did not indeed obtain
that title as by right their own; but as they represented the kingdom of
Christ, they derived also the name from him. Moreover, the sacraments,
though in themselves lifeless, are yet honoured with titles which angels
cannot claim without being guilty of sacrilege. It is hence evident that
the argument derived from the term Son, is wellgrounded.
    As to his being "begotten", we must briefly observe, that it is to be
understood relatively here: for the subtle reasoning of Augustine is
frivolous, when he imagines that "today" means perpetuity or eternity.
Christ doubtless is the eternal Son of God, for he is wisdom, born before
time; but this has no connection with this passage, in which respect is
had to men, by whom Christ was acknowledged to be the Son of God after
the Father had manifested him. Hence that declaration or manifestation
which Paul mentions in Rom. 1: 4, was, so to speak, a sort of an external
begetting; for the hidden and internal which had preceded, was unknown to
men; nor could there have been any account taken of it, had not the
Father given proof of it by a visible manifestation.
    "I will be to him a Father", &c. As to this second testimony the
former observation holds good. Solomon is here referred to, and though he
was inferior to the angels, yet when God promised to be his Father, he
was separated from the common rank of all others; for he was not to be to
him a Father as to one of the princes, but as to one who was more eminent
than all the rest. By the same privilege he was made a son; all others
were excluded from the like honour. But that this was not said of Solomon
otherwise than as a type of Christ, is evident from the context; for the
empire of the whole world is destined for the Son mentioned there, and
perpetuity is also ascribed to his empire: on the other hand, it appears
that the kingdom of Solomon has confined within narrow bounds, and was so
far from being perpetual, that immediately after his death it was
divided, and some time afterwards it fell altogether. Again, in that
Psalm the sun and moon are summoned as witnesses, and the Lord swears
that as long as they shall shine in the heavens, that kingdom shall
remain safe: and on the other hand, the kingdom of David in a short time
fell into decay, and at length utterly perished. And further, we may
easily gather from many passages in the Prophets, that that promise was
never understood otherwise than of Christ; so that no one can evade by
saying that this is a new comment; for hence also has commonly prevailed
among the Jews the practice of calling Christ the Son of David.
=====> 1:6. "And again, when he bringeth or introduceth", &c. He now
proves by another argument that Christ is above the angels, and that is
because the angels are bidden to worship him. (Ps. 97: 7.) It hence
follows that he is their head and Prince. But it may seem unreasonable to
apply that to Christ which is spoken of God only. Were we to answer that
Christ is the eternal God, and therefore what belongs to God may justly
be applied to him, it would not perhaps be satisfactory to all; for it
would avail but little in proving a doubtful point, to argue in this case
from the common attributes of God.
    The subject is Christ manifested in the flesh, and the Apostle
expressly says, that the Spirit thus spoke when Christ was introduced
into the world; but this would not have been said consistently with truth
except the manifestation of Christ be really spoken of in the Psalm. And
so the case indeed is; for the Psalm commences with an exhortation to
rejoice; nor did David address the Jews, but the whole earth, including
the islands, that is, countries beyond the sea. The reason for this joy
is given, because the Lord would reign. Further, if you read the whole
Psalm, you will find nothing else but the kingdom of Christ, which began
when the Gospel was published; nor is the whole Psalm anything else but a
solemn decree, as it were, by which Christ was sent to take possession of
His kingdom. Besides, what joy could arise from His kingdom, except it
brought salvation to the whole world, to the Gentiles as well as to the
Jews? Aptly then does the Apostle say here, that he was introduced into
the world, because in that Psalm what is described is his coming to men.
    The Hebrew word, rendered angels, is Elohim - gods; but there is no
doubt but that the Prophet speaks of angels; for the meaning is, that
there is no power so high but must be in subjection to the authority of
this king, whose advent was to cause joy to the whole world.

=====> 1:7  And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits,
and his ministers a flame of fire.
1:8  But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and
ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.
1:9  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God,
[even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy
fellows.

=====> 1:7. "And to the angels", &c. To the angels means "of" the angels.
But the passage quoted seems to have been turned to another meaning from
what it appears to have; for as David is there describing the manner in
which we see the world to be governed, nothing is more certain than the
winds are mentioned, which he says are made messengers by the Lord, for
he employs them as his runners; so also, when he purifies the air by
lightnings, he shows what quick and swift ministers he has to obey his
orders. But this has nothing to do with angels. Some have had recourse to
an allegory, as though the Apostle explained the plain, and as they say,
the literal sense allegorically of angels. But it seems preferable to me
to consider this testimony is brought forward for this purpose, that it
might by a similitude be applied to angels, and in this way David
compares winds to angels, because they perform offices in this world
similar to what the angels do in heaven; for the winds are, as it were,
visible spirits. And, doubtless, as Moses, describing the creation of the
world, mentioned only those things which are subject to our senses, and
yet intended that higher things should be understood; so David in
describing the world and nature, represented to us on a tablet what ought
to be understood respecting the celestial orders. Hence I think that the
argument is one of likeness or similarity, when the Apostle transfers to
angels what properly applies to the winds.
=====> 1:8. "But to the Son", &c. It must indeed be allowed, that this
Psalm was composed as a marriage song for Solomon; for here is celebrated
his marriage with the daughter of the king of Egypt; but it cannot yet be
denied but that what is here related, is much too high to be applied to
Solomon. The Jews, that they may not be forced to own Christ to be called
God, make an evasion by saying, it at the throne of God is spoken of, or
that the verb "established" is to be understood. So that, according to
the first exposition, the word Elohim, God, is to be in construction with
throne, "the throne of God;" and that according to the second, it is
supposed to be a defective sentence. But these are mere evasions.
Whosoever will read the verse, who is of a sound mind and free from the
spirit of contention, cannot doubt but that the Messiah is called God.
Nor is there any reason to object, that the word Elohim is sometimes
given to angels and to judges; for it is never found to be given simply
to one person, except to God alone.
    Farther, that I may not contend about a word, whose throne can be
said to be established forever, except that of God only? Hence the
perpetuity of his kingdom is an evidence of his divinity.
    The "sceptre" of Christ's kingdom is afterwards called the sceptre of
righteousness; of this there were some, though obscure, lineaments in
Solomon; he exhibited them as far as he acted as a just king and zealous
for what was right. But righteousness in the kingdom of Christ has a
wider meaning; for he by his gospel, which is his spiritual sceptre,
renews us after the righteousness of God. The same thing must be also
understood of his love of righteousness; for he causes it to reign in his
own people, because he loves it.
=====> 1:9. "Wherefore God has appointed him", &c. This was indeed truly
said of Solomon, who was made a king, because God had preferred him to
his brethren, who were otherwise his equals, being the sons of the king.
But this applies more suitably to Christ, who has adopted us as his
jointheirs, though not so in our own right. But he was anointed above us
all, as it was beyond measure, while we, each of us, according to a
limited portion, as he has divided to each of us. Besides, he was
anointed for our sake, in order that we may all draw out of his fatness.
Hence he is the Christ, we are Christians proceeding from him, as rivulet
from a fountain. But as Christ received this unction when in the flesh,
he is said to have been anointed by his God; for it would be inconsistent
to suppose him inferior to God, except in his human nature.

=====> 1:10  And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation
of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
1:11  They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old
as doth a garment;
1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be
changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
1:13  But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right
hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
1:14  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for
them who shall be heirs of salvation?

=====> 1:10. "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning", &c. This testimony at
first sight may seem to be unfitly applied to Christ, especially in a
doubtful matter, such as is here handled; for the subject in dispute is
not concerning the glory of God, but what may be fitly applied to Christ.
Now, there is not in this passage any mention made of Christ, but the
majesty of God alone is set forth. I indeed allow that Christ is not
named in any part of the Psalm; but it is yet plain that he is so pointed
out, that no one can doubt but that his kingdom is there avowedly
recommended to us. Hence all the things which are found there, are to be
applied to his person; for in none have they been fulfilled but in
Christ, such as the following, - "Thou shalt arise and have mercy on
Sion, that the heathens may fear the name, and all the kings of the earth
thy glory." Again, - "When the nations shall be gathered together, and
the kingdoms, to serve the Lord." Doubtless, in vain shall we seek to
find this God through whom the whole world have united in one faith and
worship of God, except in Christ.
    All the other parts of the Psalm exactly suit the person of Christ,
such as the following, that he is the eternal God, the creator of heaven
and earth, that perpetuity belongs to him without any change, by which
his majesty is raised to the highest elevation, and he himself is removed
from the rank of all created beings.
    What David says about the heavens perishing, some explain by adding,
"Were such a thing to happen," as though nothing was affirmed. But what
need is there of such a strained explanation, since we know that all
creatures are subjected to vanity? For to what purpose is that renovation
promised, which even the heavens wait for with the strong desire as of
those in travail, except that they are now verging towards destruction?
    But the perpetuity of Christ which is here mentioned, brings no
common comfort to the godly; as the Psalm at last teaches us, they shall
be partakers of it, inasmuch as Christ communicates himself and what he
possesses to his own body.
=====> 1:13. "But to whom of the angels", &c. He again by another
testimony extols the excellency of Christ, that it might hence be evident
how much he is above the angels. The passage is taken from Psalms 110: 1,
and it cannot be explained of any but of Christ. For as it was not lawful
for kings to touch the priesthood, as is testified by the leprosy of
Uzziah; and as it appears that neither David, nor any other of his
successors in the kingdom, was ordained a priest, it follows, that a new
kingdom as well as a new priesthood is here introduced, since the same
person is made a king and a priest. Besides, the eternity of the
priesthood is suitable to Christ alone.
    Now, in the beginning of the Psalm he is set at God's right hand.
This form of expression, as I have already said, means the same, as
though it was said, that the second place was given him by the Father;
for it is a metaphor which signifies that he is the Father's vicegerent
and his chief minister in exercising authority, so that the Father rules
through him. No one of the angels bears so honorable an office; hence
Christ far excels all.
    "Until I make", &c. As there are never wanting enemies to oppose
Christ's kingdom, it seems not to be beyond the reach of danger,
especially as they who attempt to overthrow it possess great power, have
recourse to various artifices, and also make all their attacks with
furious violence. Doubtless, were we to regard things as they appear, the
kingdom of Christ would seem often to be on the verge of ruin. But the
promise, that Christ shall never be thrust from his seat, takes away from
us every fear; for ho will lay prostrate all his enemies. These two
things, then, ought to be borne in mind, - that the kingdom of Christ
shall never in this world be at rest, but that there will be many enemies
by whom it will be disturbed; and secondly, that whatever its enemies may
do, they shall never prevail, for the session of Christ at God's right
hand will not be for a time, but to the end of the world, and that on
this account all who will not submit to his authority shall be laid
prostrate and trodden under his feet
    If any one asks, whether Christ's kingdom shall come to an end, when
all his enemies shall be subdued; I give this answer, - that his kingdom
shall be perpetual, and yet in such a way as Paul intimates in 1 Col: 15:
25; for we are to take this view, - that God who is not known to us in
Christ, will then appear to us as he is in himself. And yet Christ will
never cease to be the head of men and of angels; nor will there be any
diminution of his honour. But the solution of this question must be
sought from that passage.
=====> 1:14. "Are they not all", &c. That the comparison might appear
more clearly, he now mentions what the condition of angels is. For
calling them "spirits", he denotes their eminence; for in this respect
they are superior to corporal creatures. But the office (|leitourgia|)
which he immediately mentions reduces them to their own rank, as it is
that which is the reverse of dominion; and this he still more distinctly
states, when he says, that they are sent to "minister". The first word
means the same, as though ale had said, that they were officials; but to
"minister" imports what is more humble and abject. The service which God
allots to angels is indeed honourable; but the very fact that they serve,
shows that they are far inferior to Christ, who is the Lord of all.
    If any one objects and says, that Christ is also called in many
places both a servant and a minister, not only to God, but also to men,
the reply may be readily given; his being a servant was not owing to his
nature, but to a voluntary humility, as Paul testifies, (Phil. 2: 7;) and
at the same time his sovereignty remained to his nature; but angels, on
the other hand, were created for this end, - that they might serve, and
to minister is what belongs to their condition. The difference then is
great; for what is natural to them is, as it were, adventitious or
accidental to Christ, because he took our flesh; and what necessarily
belongs to them, he of his own accord undertook. Besides, Christ is a
minister in such a way, that though he is in our flesh nothing is
diminished from the majesty of his dominion.
    From this passage the faithful receive no small consolation; for they
hear that celestial hosts are assigned to them as ministers, in order to
secure their salvation. It is indeed no common pledge of God's love
towards us, that they are continually engaged in our behalf. Hence also
proceeds a singular confirmation to our faith, that our salvation being
defended by such guardians, is beyond the reach of danger. Well then has
God provided for our infirmities by giving us such assistants to oppose
Satan, and to put forth their power in every way to defend us!
    But this benefit he grants especially to his chosen people; hence
that angels may minister to us, we must be the members of Christ. Yet
some testimonies of Scripture may on the other hand be adduced, to show
that angels are sometimes sent forth for the sake of the reprobate; for
mention is made by Daniel of the angels of the Persians and the Greeks.
(Dan. 10: 20.) But to this I answer, that they were in such a way
assisted by angels, that the Lord might thus promote the salvation of his
own people; for their success and their victories had always a reference
to the benefit of the Church. This is certain, that as we have been
banished by sin from God's kingdom, we can have no communion with angels
except through the reconciliation made by Christ; and this we may see by
the ladder shown in a vision to the patriarch Jacob.


Chapter 2

=====> 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things
which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.
2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every
transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them
that heard [him];
2:4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and
with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own
will?

=====> 2:1. "Therefore we ought," &c. He now declares what he had before
in view, by comparing Christ with angels, even to secure the highest
authority to his doctrine. For if the Law given through angels could not
have been received with contempt, and if its transgression was visited
with severe punishment, what is to happen, he asks, to the despisers of
that gospel, which has the Son of God as its author, and was confirmed by
so many miracles? The import of the whole is this, that the higher the
dignity of Christ is than that of angels, the more reverence is due to
the Gospel than to the Law. Thus he commends the doctrine by mentioning
its author.
    But should it seem strange to any one, that as the doctrine both of
the Law and of the Gospel is from God, one should be preferred to the
other; inasmuch as by having the Law lowered the majesty of God would be
degraded; the evident answer would be this, - that he ought indeed always
to be heard with equal attention whenever he may speak, and yet that the
fuller he reveals himself to us, it is but right that our reverence and
attention to obedience should increase in proportion to the extent of his
revelations; not that God is in himself less at one time than at another;
but his greatness is not at all times equally made known to us.
    Here also another question arises. Was not the Law also given by
Christ? If so, the argument of the Apostle seems not to be well grounded.
To this I reply, that in this comparison regard is had to a veiled
revelation on one side, and to that which is manifest on the other. Now,
as Christ in bringing the Law showed himself but obscurely or darkly, and
as it were under coverings, it is nothing strange that the Law should be
said to have been brought by angels without any mention being made of his
name; for in that transaction he never appeared openly; but in the
promulgation of the Gospel his glory was so conspicuous, that he may
justly be deemed its author.
    "Lest at any time we should let them slip," or, "lest we should at
any time flow abroad," or, if you prefer, "let dip," though in reality
there is not much difference. The true sense is to be gathered from the
contrast; for to give heed, or to attend and to let slip, are opposites;
the first means to hold a thing, and the other to let off like a sieve,
or a perforated vessel, whatever may be poured into it. I do not indeed
approve of the opinion of those who take it in the sense of dying,
according to what we find in 2 Sam. 15: 14, "We all die and slide away
like water." On the contrary, we ought, as I have said, to regard the
contrast between attention and flowing out; an attentive mind is like a
vessel capable of holding water; but that which is roving and indolent is
like a vessel with holes.
=====> 2:2. "Steadfast," or "firm," or sure, &o.; that is, it was the
word of authority, for God required it to be believed; and that it was
authoritative, was made more evident by its sanctions; for no one
despised the law with impunity. Then firmness means authority; and what
is added respecting punishment ought to be understood as explanatory; for
it is evident the doctrine of which God shows himself to be the avenger,
is by no means unprofitable or unimportant.
=====> 2:3. "If we neglect so great a salvation," &c. Not only the
rejection of the Gospel, but also its neglect, deserves the heaviest
punishment, and that on account of the greatness of the grace which it
offers; hence he says, "so great a salvation". God would indeed leave his
gifts valued by us according to their worth. Then the more precious they
are, the baser is our ingratitude when we do not value them. In a word,
in proportion to the greatness of Christ will be the severity of God's
vengeance on all the despisers of his Gospel.
    And observe that the word salvation is transferred here 
metonymically to the doctrine of salvation; for as the Lord would not
have men otherwise saved than by the Gospel, so when that is neglected
the whole salvation of God is rejected; for it is God's power unto
salvation to those who believe. (Rom. 1: 16.) Hence he who seeks
salvation in any other way, seeks to attain it by another power than that
of God; which is an evidence of extreme madness. But this encomium is not
only a commendation of the Gospel, but is also a wonderful support to our
faith; for it is a testimony that the word is by no means unprofitable,
but that a sure salvation is conveyed by it.
    "Which at first began", &c. Here he sets the Son of God, the first
herald of the Gospel, in opposition to angels, and also anticipates what
was necessary to remove a doubt which might have crept into the minds of
many; for they had not been taught by the mouth of Christ himself, whom
the greatest part had never seen. If then they regarded only the man by
whose ministry they had been led to the faith, they might have made less
of what they had learnt from him; hence the Apostle reminded them, that
the doctrine which had been delivered them by others, yet proceeded from
Christ; for he says that those who had faithfully declared what had been
committed to them by Christ, had been his disciples. He therefore uses
the word, "was confirmed", as though he had said, that it was not a
random report, without any author, or from witnesses of doubtful credit,
but a report which was confirmed by men of weight and authority.
    Moreover, this passage indicates that this epistle was not written by
Paul; for he did not usually speak so humbly of himself, as to confess
that he was one of the Apostles' disciples, nor did he thus speak from
ambition, but because wicked men under a pretence of this kind attempted
to detract from the authority of his doctrine. Tt then appears evident
that it was not Paul who wrote that he had the Gospel by hearing and not
by revelation.
=====> 2:4. "God also bearing them witness," &c. In addition to the fact,
that the Apostles had what they preached from the Son of God, the Lord
also proved his approbation of their preaching by miracles, as by a
solemn subscription. Then they who do not reverently receive the Gospel
recommended by such testimonies, disregard not only the word of God, but
also his works.
    He designates miracles, for the sake of amplifying their importance,
by three names. They are called "signs" because they rouse men's minds,
that they may think of something higher that what appears; and wonders,
because they present what is rare and unusual; and "miracles", because
the Lord shows in them a singular and an extraordinary evidence of his
power.
    As to the word, "bearing witness", or attesting, it points out the
right use of miracles, even that they serve to establish the Gospel. For
almost all the miracles done in all ages were performed as we find for
this end, that they might be the seals of Gods word. The more strange
then is the superstition of the Papists, who employ their own fictitious
miracles for the purpose of overthrowing the truth of God.
    The conjunction |sun|, together with, has this meaning, that we are
confirmed in the faith of the Gospel by the joint testimony of God and
men; for God's miracles were testimonies concurring with the voice of
men.
    He adds, "by the gifts" or distributions of the "Holy Spirit", by
which also the doctrine of the Gospel was adorned, of which they were the
appendages. For why did God distribute the gifts of his Spirit, except in
part that they might be helps in promulgating it, and in part that their
might move through admiration the minds of men to obey it? Hence Paul
says, that tongues were a sign to unbelievers. The words, "according to
his will," remind us, that the miracles mentioned could not be ascribed
to any except to God alone, and that they were not wrought undesignedly,
but, for the distinct purpose of sealing the truth of the Gospel.

=====> 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to
come, whereof we speak.
2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou
art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him
with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he
put all in subjection under him, he left nothing [that is] not put under
him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the
suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace
of God should taste death for every man.

=====> 2:5. "For unto the angels," &c. He again proves by another
argument that Christ ought to be obeyed; for the Father has conferred on
him the sovereignty of the whole world, while the angels are wholly
destitute of such an honour. It hence follows that none of the angels
should stand in the way of his preeminence who alone possesses supremacy.
    But first, the Psalm which he quotes must be examined, for it seems
to be unfitly applied to Christ. David there mentions the benefits which
God bestows on mankind; for after having contemplated God's power as
manifested in heaven and the stars, he comes to man, among whom the
wonderful goodness of God appears in a peculiar manner. He does not,
then, speak of any particular person, but of all mankind. To this I
answer, that all this affords no reason why the words should not be
applied to the person of Christ. I indeed allow that man was at first put
in possession of the world, that he might rule over all the works of God;
but by his own defection he deserved the loss of his dominion, for it was
a just punishment for ingratitude as to one thus favoured, that the Lord,
whom he refused to acknowledge and faithfully to worship, should have
deprived him of a right previously granted to him. As soon, then, as Adam
alienated himself from God through sin, he was justly deprived of the
good things which he had received; not that he was denied the use of
them, but that he would have had no right to them after he had forsaken
God. And in the very use of them God intended that there should be some
tokens of this loss of right, such as these, - the wild beasts
ferociously attack us, those who ought to be awed by our presence are
dreaded by us, some never obey us, others can hardly be trained to
submit, and they do us harm in various ways; the earth answers not our
expectations in cultivating it; the sky, the air, the sea, and other
things are often adverse to us. But were all creatures to continue in
subjection, yet whatever the sons of Adam possessed would be deemed a
robbery; for what can they call their own when they themselves are not
God's? 
    This foundation being laid, it is evident that God's bounty belongs
not to us until the right lost in Adam be restored by Christ. For this
reason Paul teaches us that food is sanctified to us by faith, (I Tim. 4:
5;) and in another place he declares that to the unbelieving nothing is
clean, for they have a polluted conscience. (Titus 1: 16.) 
    We found at the beginning of this epistle that Christ has been
appointed by the Father the heir of all things. Doubtless, as he ascribes
the whole inheritance to one, he excludes all others as aliens, and
justly too, for we are all become exiles from God's kingdom. What food,
then, God has destined for his own family, we leave no right to take. But
Christ, by whom we are admitted into this family, at the same time admits
us into a participation of this right, so that we may enjoy the whole
world, together with the favour of God. Hence Paul teaches us that
Abraham was by faith made an heir of the world, that is, because he was
united to the body of Christ. (Rom. 4: 13) If men, then, are precluded
from all God's bounty until they receive a right to it through Christ, it
follows that the dominion mentioned in the Psalm was lost to us in Adam,
and that on this account it must again be restored as a donation. Now,
the restoration begins with Christ as the head. There is, then, no doubt
but that we are to look to him whenever the dominion of man over all
creatures is spoken of.
    To this the reference is made when the Apostle mentions the world to
come, or the future world, for he understands by it the renovated world.
To make the thing clearer, let us suppose two worlds, - the first the
old, corrupted by Adam's sin; the other, later in time, as renewed by
Christ. The state of the first creation has become wholly decayed, and
with man has fallen as far as man himself is concerned. Until, then, a
new restitution be made by Christ, this Psalm will not be fulfilled. It
hence now appears that here the world to come is not that which we hope
for after the resurrection, but that which began at the beginning of
Christ's kingdom; but it will no doubt have its full accomplishment in
our final redemption.
    But why he suppressed the name of David does not appear to me.
Doubtless he says one, or some one, not in contempt, but for honour's
sake, designating him as one of the prophets or a renowned writer.
=====> 2:7. "Thou merriest him", &c. A new difficulty now arises as to
the explanation of the words. I have already shown that the passage is
fitly applicable to the Son of God; but the Apostle seems now to turn the
words from that meaning in which David understood them; for "a little",
|brachu ti|, seems to refer to time, as it means a little while, and
designates the abasement of Christ's humiliation; and he confines the
glory to the day of resurrection, while David extends it generally to the
whole life of man.
    To this I answer, that it was not the Apostle's design to give an
exact explanation of the words. For there is nothing improperly done,
when verbal allusions are made to embellish a subject in hand, as Paul
does in quoting a passage in Rom. 10: 6, from Moses, "Who shall ascend
into heaven," &c., he does not join the words "heaven and hell" for the
purpose of explanation, but as ornaments. The meaning of David is this, -
"O Lord, thou hast raised man to such a dignity, that it differs but
little from divine or angelic honour; for he is set a ruler over the
whole world." This meaning the Apostle did not intend to overthrow, nor
to turn to something else; but he only bids us to consider the abasement
of Christ, which appeared for a short time, and then the glory with which
he is perpetually crowned; and this he does more by alluding to
expressions than by explaining what David understood.
    To be "mindful" and to "visit" mean the same thing, except that the
second is somewhat fuller, for it sets forth the presence of God by the
effect.
=====> 2:8. "For in that he put all in subjection under him"; or,
doubtless in subjecting all things to him, &c. One might think the
argument to be this, - "To the man whom David speaks all things are
subjected, but to mankind all things are not made subject; then he does
not speak of any individual man." But this reasoning cannot stand, for
the minor proposition is true also of Christ; for all things are not as
yet made subject to him, as Paul shows in 1 Cor. 15: 28. There is
therefore another sentence; for after having laid down this truth, that
Christ has universal dominion over all creatures, he adds, as an
objection, "But all things do not as yet obey the authority of Christ."
To meet this objection he teaches us that yet now is seen completed in
Christ what he immediately adds respecting "glory" and "honour", as if he
had said, "Though universal subjection does not as yet appear to us, let
us be satisfied that he has passed through death, and has been exalted to
the highest state of honour; for that which is as yet wanting, will in
its time be completed."
    But first, this offends some, that the Apostle concludes with too
much refinement, that there is nothing not made subject to Christ, as
David includes all things generally; for the various kinds of things
which he enumerates afterwards prove no such thing, such as beasts of the
field, fishes of the sea, and birds of the air. To this I reply, that a
general declaration ought not to be confined to these species, for David
meant no other thing than to give some instances of his power over things
the most conspicuous, or indeed to extend it to things even the lowest,
that we may know that nothing is ours except through the bounty of God
and our union with Christ. We may, therefore, explain the passage thus, -
"Thou hast made subject to him all things, not only things needful for
eternal blessedness, but also such inferior things as serve to supply the
wants of the body." However this may be, the inferior dominion over
animals depends on the higher.
    It is again asked, "Why does he say that we see not all things made
subject to Christ?" The solution of this question you will find in that
passage already quoted from Paul; and in the first chapter of this
Epistle we said a few things on the subject. As Christ carries on war
continually with various enemies, it is doubtless evident that he has no
quiet possession of his kingdom. He is not, however, under the necessity
of waging war; but it happens through his will that his enemies are not
to be subdued till the last day, in order that we may be tried and proved
by fresh exercises.

=====> 2:9. "But we see Jesus", &c. As the meaning of the words, |brachu
ti|, "a little" is ambiguous, he looks to the thing itself, as exhibited
in the person of Christ, rather then to the exact meaning of the words,
as I have already said; and he presents to our meditation the glory after
the resurrection, which David extends to all the gifts by which man is
adorned by God's bounty; but in this embellishment, which leaves the
literal sense entire, there is nothing unsuitable or improper.
    "For the suffering of death", &c. It is the same as though it was
said that Christ, having passed through death, was exalted into the glory
which he has obtained, according to what Paul teaches us in Phil. 2:
8-10; not that Christ obtained anything for himself individually, as
sophists say, who have devised the notion that he first earned eternal
life for himself and then for us; for the way or means, so to speak, of
obtaining glory, is only indicated here. Besides, Christ is crowned with
glory for this end, that every knee should bow to him. (Phil. 2: 10.) We
may therefore reason from the final cause that all things are delivered
into his hand.
    "That he by the grace of God", &c. He refers to the cause and the
fruit of Christ's death, lest he should be thought to detract anything
from his dignity. For when we hear that so much good has been obtained
for us, there is no place left for contempt, for admiration of the divine
goodness fills the whole mind. By saying "for every man", he means not
only that he might be ample to others, as Chrysostom says, who brings the
example of a physician tasting first a bitter draught, that the patient
might not refuse to drink it; but he means that Christ died for us, and
that by taking upon him what was due to us, he redeemed us from the curse
of death. And it is added, that this was done through the grace of God,
for the cause of redemption was the infinite love of God towards us,
through which it was that he spared not even his own Son. What Chrysostom
say of tasting of death, as though he touched it with his lips, because
Christ emerged from death a conqueror, I will not refute nor condemn,
though I know not whether the Apostle meant to speak in a manner so
refined.

=====> 2:10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom
[are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain
of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all
of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of
the church will I sing praise unto thee.
2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the
children which God hath given me.

=====> 2:10. "For it became him", &c. His object is, to make Christ's
humiliation to appear glorious to the godly; for when he is said to have
been clothed with our flesh, he seems to be classed with the common order
of men; and the cross brought him lower than all men. We must therefore
take heed, lest Christ should be less esteemed, because he willingly
humbled himself for us; and this is what is here spoken of. For the
Apostle shows that this very thing ought to be deemed honorable to the
Son of God, that he was by these means consecrated the Captain of our
salvation.
    He first assumes it as granted, that we ought to be satisfied with
God's decree; for as all things are sustained by his power, so all things
ought to serve to his glory. No betters cause, then, can be found out
than the good pleasure of God. Such is the purport of the circumlocution
which he employs, "for whom, and by whom, are all things". He might by
one word have named God; but his purpose was to remind us, that what is
to be deemed best is that which he appoints, whose will and glory is the
right end of all things.
    It does not, however, appear as yet what he intends by saying, that
it became Christ to be thus consecrated. But this depends on the ordinary
way which God adopts in dealing with his own people; for his will is to
exercise them with various trials, so that they may spend their whole
life under the cross. It was hence necessary that Christ, as the
first-begotten, should by the cross be inaugurated into his supremacy,
since that is the common lot and condition of all. This is the conforming
of the head with the members, of which Paul speaks in Rom. 8: 29.
    It is indeed a singular consolation, calculated to mitigate the
bitterness of the cross, when the faithful hear, that by sorrows and
tribulations they are sanctified for glory as Christ himself was; and
hence they see a sufficient reason why they should lovingly kiss the
cross rather than dread it. And when this is the case, then doubtless the
reproach of the cross of Christ immediately disappears, and its glory
shines forth; for who can despise what is sacred, nay, what God
sanctifies? Who can deem that ignominious, by which we are prepared for
glory? And yet both these things are said here of the death of Christ.
    "By whom are all things", &c. When creation is spoken of, it is
ascribed to the Son as his own world, for by him were all things created;
but here the Apostle means no other thing than that all creatures
continue or are preserved by the power of God. What we have rendered
"consecrated", others have rendered "made perfect". But as the word,
|teleioosai|, which he uses, is of a doubtful meaning, I think it clear
that the word I leave adopted is more suitable to the context. For what
is meant is the settled and regular way or method by which the sons of
God are initiated, so that they may obtain their own honour, and be thus
separated from the rest of the world; and then immediately sanctification
is mentioned.
=====> 2:11. "For both he that sanctifieth", &c. He proves that it was
necessary that what he had said should be fulfilled in the person of
Christ on account of his connection with his members; and he also teaches
that it was a remarkable evidence of the divine goodness that he put on
our flesh. hence he says, that they are "all of one", that is, that the
author of holiness and we are made partakers of it, are all of one
nature, as I understated the expression. It is commonly understood of one
Adam; and some refer it to God, and not without reasons; but I rather
think that one nature is meant, and one I consider to be in the neuter
gender, as though he had said, that they are made out of the same mass.
    It avails not, indeed, a little to increase our confidence, that we
are united to the Son of God by a bond so close, that we can find in our
nature that holiness of which we are in want; for he not only as God
sanctifies us, but there is also the power of sanctifying in his human
nature, not that it has it from itself, but that God had poured upon it a
perfect fulness of holiness, so that from it we may all draw. And to this
point this sentence refers, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." (John
17: 19.) If, then we are sinful and unclean, we have not to go far to
seek a remedy; for it is offered to us in our own flesh. If any one
prefers to regard as intended here that spiritual unity which the godly
have with the Son of God, and which differs much from that which men
commonly have among themselves, I offer no objection, though I am
disposed to follow what is more commonly received, as it is not
inconsistent with reason.
    "He is not ashamed to call them brethren". This passage is taken from
Ps. 22: 22. That Christ is the speaker there, or David in his name, the
evangelists do especially testify, for they quote from it many verses,
such as the following,  - "They parted my garments," - "They gave gall
for my meat," - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And further,
the other parts of the chapter prove the same; for we may see in the
history of the passion a delineation of what is there related. The end of
the Psalm, which speaks of the calling of the Gentiles, can be applied to
none but to Christ alone, "Turn to the Lord shall all the ends of the
world; adore before him shall all the families of the nations,"  - "The
Lord's is the kingdom, and he will reign over the nations." These things
are found accomplished only in Christ, who enlarged the kingdom of God
not over a small space, as David did, but extended it over the whole
world; it was before confined as it were within narrow limits. There is,
then, no doubt but that his voice is what is referred to in this passage;
and appropriately and suitably does he say that he is "not ashamed"; for
how great is the distance between us and him? Much, then, does he let
down himself, when he dignifies us with the name of brethren; for we are
unworthy that he should deem us his servants. And this so great an honour
conferred on us is amplified by this circumstance - Christ does not speak
here as a mortal man while in the form of a servant, but when elevated
after the resurrection into immortal glory. Hence this title is the same,
as though he had raised us into heaven with himself. And let us remember,
whenever we hear that we are called brethren by Christ, that he has
clothed us, so to speak, with this honour, that together with this
fraternal name we may lay hold on eternal life and every celestial
blessing.
    We must further notice the office which Christ assumes, which is that
of "proclaiming the name of God"; and this began to be done when the
gospel was first promulgated and is now done daily by the ministry of
pastors. We hence learn, that the gospel has been presented to us for
this end, that we may be brought to the knowledge of God, in order that
his goodness may be celebrated by us, and that Christ is the author of
the gospel in whatever manner it may be offered to us. And this is what
Paul says, for he declares that he and others were ambassadors for
Christ; and he exhorted men as it were in the name of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:
20.) And this ought to add no small reverence to the gospel, since we
ought not so much to consider men as speaking to us, as Christ by his own
mouth; for at the time when he promised to publish God's name to men, he
had ceased to be in the world; it was not however to no purpose that he
claimed this office as his own; for he really performs it by his
disciples.
=====> 2:12 "In the midst of the Church". It hence appears plainly, that
the proclamation of God's praises is always promoted by the teaching of
the gospel; for as soon as God becomes known to us, his boundless praises
sound in our hearts and in our ears; and at the same time Christ
encourages us by his own example publicly to celebrate them, so that they
may be heard by as many as possible. For it would not be sufficient for
each one of us to thank God himself for benefits received, except we
testify openly our gratitude, and thus mutually stimulate one another.
And it is a truth, which may serve as a most powerful stimulant, and may
lead us most fervently to praise God, when we hear that Christ leads our
songs, and is the chief composer of our hymns.
=====> 2:13. "I will put my trust in him," or, I will confide in him. As
this sentence is found in Ps. 18: 2, it was probably taken from that
place; and Paul, in Rom. 15: 9, applies another verse to Christ
respecting the calling of the Gentiles. In addition to this, it may be
said that the general contents of that Psalm show clearly that David
spoke in the person of another. There indeed appeared in David but a
faint shadow of the greatness which is there set forth in terms so
magnificent. He boasts that he was made the head of the heathens, and
that even aliens and people unknown willingly surrendered themselves to
him at the report of his name. David subdued a few neighbouring and
well-known nations by the force of arms, and made them tributaries. But
what was this to the extensive dominions of many other kings? And
further, where was voluntary submission? Where were the people that were
so remote that he knew them not? In short, where was the solemn
proclamation of God's glory among the nations mentioned at the end of the
Psalm? Christ then is he who is made head over many nations, to whom
strangers from the utmost borders of the earth submit, and roused by
hearing of him only; for they are not forced by arms to undertake his
yoke, but being subdued by his doctrine, they spontaneously obey him.
    There is also seen in the Church that feigned and false profession of
religion, which is there referred to; for many daily profess the name of
Christ, but not from the heart.
    There is then no doubt but that the Psalm is rightly applied to
Christ. But what has this to do with the present subject? For it seems
not to follow that we and Christ are of one, in order that he might
especially put his trust in God. To this I answer, that the argument is
valid, because he would have no need of such trust, had he not been a man
exposed to human necessities and wants. As then he depended on God's aid,
his lot is the same with ours. It is surely not in vain or for nothing
that we trust in God; for were we destitute of his grace, we should be
miserable and lost. The trust then which we put in God, is an evidence of
our helplessness. At the same time we differ from Christ in this - the
weakness which necessarily and naturally belongs to us he willingly
undertook. But it ought not a little to encourage us to trust in God,
that we have Christ as our leader and instructor; for who would fear to
go astray while following in his steps? Nay, there is no danger that our
trust should be useless when we have it in common with Christy who, we
know, cannot be mistaken.
    "Behold, I and the children", &c. It is indeed certain that Isaiah
was speaking of himself; for when he gave hope of deliverance to the
people, and the promise met with no credit, lest being broken down by the
perverse unbelief of the people he should despond, the Lord bade him to
sent the doctrine he had announced among a few of the faithful; as though
he had said, that thou, it was rejected by the multitude, there would yet
be a few who would receive it. Relying on this answer, Isaiah took
courage, and declared that he and the disciples given to him would be
ever ready to follow God. (Isa. 8: 18.)
    Let us now see why the Apostle applied this sentence to Christ.
First, what is found in the same place, that the Lord would become a rock
of stumbling and a stone of offence to the kingdom of Israel and of
Judas, will not be denied by any one of a sound mind, to have been
fulfilled in Christ. And doubtless as the restoration from the Babylonian
exile was a sort of prelude to the great redemption obtained by Christ
for us and the fathers; so also the fact that so few among the Jews
availed themselves of that kindness of God, that a small remnant only
were saved, was a presage of their future blindness, through which it
happened that they rejected Christ, and that they in turn were rejected
by God, and perished. For we must observe that the promises extant in the
Prophets respecting the restoration of the Church from the time the Jews
returned from exile, extend to the kingdom of Christ, as the Lord had
this end in view in restoring the people, that his Church might continue
to the coming of his Son, by whom it was at length to be really
established.
    Since it was so, God not only addressed Isaiah, when he bade him to
seal the law and the testimony, but also in his person all his ministers,
who would have to contend with the unbelief of the people, and hence
Christ above all, whom the Jews resisted with greater contumacy than all
the former Prophets. And we see now that they who have been substituted
for Israel, not only repudiate his Gospel, but also furiously assail him.
But how much soever the doctrine of the Gospel may be a stone of
stumbling to the household of the Church, it is not yet God's will that
it should wholly fail; on the contrary, he bids it to be sealed among his
disciples: and Christ, in the name of all his teachers as the head of
them, yea, as the only true Teacher, who rules us by their ministry,
declares that amidst this deplorable ingratitude of the world, there
shall still be some always who shall be obedient to God.
    See then how this passage may be fitly applied to Christ: the Apostle
concludes, that we are one with him, because he unites us to himself,
when he presents himself and us together to God the Father: for they form
but one body who obey God under the same rule of faith. What could have
been said more suitably to commend faith, than that we are by it the
companions of the Son of God, who by his example encourages us and shows
us the way? If then we follow the Word of God, we know of a certainty
that we have Christ as our leader; but they belong not at all to Christ,
who turn aside from his word. What, I pray, can be more desired than to
agree with the Son of God? But this agreement or consent is in faith.
Then by unbelief we disagree with him, than which nothing is a greater
evil. The word "children", which in many places is taken for servants,
means here disciples.
    "Which God hath given me". Here is pointed out the primary cause of
obedience, even that God has adopted us. Christ brings none to the
Father, but those given him by the Father; and this donation, we know,
depends on eternal election; for those whom the Father has destined to
life, he delivers to the keeping of his Son, that he may defend them.
This is what he says by John, "All that the Father has given me, will
come to me." (John 6: 37.) That we then submit to God by the obedience of
faith, let us learn to ascribe this altogether to his mercy; for
otherwise we shall never be led to him by the hand of Christ. Besides,
this doctrine supplies us with strong ground of confidence; for who can
tremble under the guidance and protection of Christ? Who, while relying
on such a keeper and guardian, would not boldly disregard all dangers?
And doubtless, while Christ says, "Behold, I and the children," he really
fulfils what he elsewhere promises, that he will not suffer any of those
to perish whom he has received from the Father. (John 10: 28.)
    We must observe lastly, that though the world with mad stubbornness
reject the Gospel, yet the sheep ever recognize the voice of their
shepherd. Let not therefore the impiety of almost all ranks, ages, and
nations, disturb us, provided Christ gathers together his owns who have
been committed to his protection. If the reprobate rush headlong to death
by their impiety, in this way the plants which God has not planted are
rooted up. (Matt. 15: 13.) Let us at the same time know that his own are
known to him, and that the salvation of them all is sealed by him, so
that not one of them shall be lost. (2 Tim. 2: l9.) Let us be satisfied
with this seal.

=====> 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and
blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death
he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime
subject to bondage.

=====> 2:14. "Forasmuch then as the children," &c., or, since then the
children, &c. This is an inference from the foregoing; and at the same
time a fuller reason is given than what has been hitherto stated, why it
behoved the Son of God to put on our flesh, even that he might partake of
the same nature with us, and that by undergoing death he might redeem us
from it.
    The passage deserves especial notice, for it not only confirms the
reality of the human nature of Christ, but also shows the benefit which
thence flows to us. "The Son of God," he says, "became man, that he might
partake of the same condition and nature with us." What could be said
more fitted to confirm our faith? Here his infinite love towards us
appears; but its overflowing appears in this - that he put on our nature
that he might thus make himself capable of dying, for as God he could not
undergo death. And though he refers but briefly to the benefits of his
death, yet there is in this brevity of words a singularly striking and
powerful representation, and that is, that he has so delivered us from
the tyranny of the devil, that we are rendered safe, and that he has so
redeemed us from death, that it is no longer to be dreaded.
    But as all the words are important, they must be examined a little
more carefully. First, the destruction of the devil, of which he speaks,
imports this - that he cannot prevail against us. For though the devil
still lives, and constantly attempts our ruin, yet all his power to hurt
us is destroyed or restrained. It is a great consolation to know that we
have to do with an enemy who cannot prevail against us. That what is here
said has been said with regard to us, we may gather from the next clause,
"that he might destroy him that had the power of death"; for the apostle
intimates that the devil was so far destroyed as he has power to reign to
our ruin; for "the power of death" is ascribed to him from the effect,
because it is destructive and brings death. He then teaches us not only
that the tyranny of Satan was abolished by Christ's death, but also that
he himself was so laid prostrate, that no more account is to be made of
him than as though he were not. He speaks of the devil according to the
usual practice of Scripture, in the singular number, not because there is
but one, but because they all form one community which cannot be supposed
to be without a head.
=====> 2:15. "And deliver them who", &c. This passage expresses in a
striking manner how miserable is the life of those who fear death, as
they must feel it to be dreadful, because they look on it apart from
Christ; for then nothing but a curse appears in it: for whence is death
but from God's wrath against sin? Hence is that bondage throughout life,
even perpetual anxiety, by which unhappy souls are tormented; for through
a consciousness of sin the judgment of God is ever presented to the view.
From this fear Christ has delivered us, who by undergoing our curse has
taken away what is dreadful in death. For though we are not now freed
from death, yet in life and in death we have peace and safety, when we
have Christ going before us.
    But it any one cannot pacify his mind by disregarding death, let him
know that he has made as yet but very little proficiency in the faith of
Christ; for as extreme fear is owing to ignorance as to the grace of
Christ, so it is a certain evidence of unbelief.
    "Death" here does not only mean the separation of the soul from the
body, but also the punishment which is inflicted on us by an angry God,
so that it includes eternal ruin; for where there is guilt before God,
there immediately hell shows itself.

=====> 2:16 For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he
took on [him] the seed of Abraham.
2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his]
brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things
[pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to
succour them that are tempted.

=====> 2:16. "For verily", or, For nowhere, &c. By this comparison he
enhances the benefit and the honour with which Christ has favoured us, by
putting on our flesh; for he never did so much for angels. As then it was
necessary that there should be a remarkable remedy for man's dreadful
ruin, it was the design of the Son of God that there should be some
incomparable pledge of his love towards us which angels had not in common
with us. That he preferred us to angels was not owing to our excellency,
but to our misery. There is therefore no reason for us to glory as though
we were superior to angels, except that our heavenly Father has
manifested toward us that ampler mercy which we needed, so that the
angels themselves might from on high behold so great a bounty poured on
the earth. The present tense of the verb is to be understood with
reference to the testimonies of Scripture, as though he set before us
what had been before testified by the Prophets.
    But this one passage is abundantly sufficient to lay prostrate such
men as Marcion and Manicheus, and fanatical men of similar character, who
denied Christ to have been a real man, begotten of human seed. For if he
bore only the appearance of man, as he had before appeared in the form of
an angel, there could have been no difference; but as it could not have
been said that Christ became really an angel, clothed with angelic
nature, it is hence said that he took upon him man's nature and not that
of angels.
    And the Apostle speaks of nature, and intimates that Christ, clothed
with flesh, was real man, so that there was unity of person in two
natures. For this passage does not favour Nestorius, who imagined a
twofold Christ, as though the Son of God was not a real man but only
dwelt in man's flesh. But we see that the Apostle's meaning was very
different, for his object was to teach us that we find in the Son of God
a brother, being a partaker of our common nature. Being not therefore
satisfied with calling him man, he says that he was begotten of human
seed; and he names expressly the "seed of Abraham", in order that what he
said might have more credit, as being taken from Scripture.
=====> 2:17. "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto
his brethren", or, to be like his brethren, &c. In Christ's human nature
there are two things to be considered, the real flesh and the affections
or feelings. The Apostle then teaches us, that he had not only put on the
real flesh of man, but also all those feelings which belong to man, and
he also shows the benefit that hence proceeds; and it is the true
teaching of faith when we in our case find the reason why the Son of God
undertook our infirmities; for all knowledge without feeling the need of
this benefit is cold and lifeless. But he teaches us that Christ was made
subject to human affections, "that he might be a merciful and faithful
high priest"; which words I thus explain, "that he might be a merciful,
and therefore a faithful high priest."
    For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God's wrath, to help
the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is
especially required, and it is what experience produces in us; for it is
a rare thing, for those who are always happy to sympathize with the
sorrows of others. The following saying of Virgil was no doubt derived
from daily examples found among men: "Not ignorant of evil, I learn to
aid the miserable."
    The Son of God had no need of experience that he might know the
emotions of mercy; but we could not be persuaded that he is merciful and
ready to help us, had he not become acquainted by experience with our
miseries; but this, as other things, has been as a favour given to us.
Therefore whenever any evils pass over us, let it ever occur to us, that
nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has himself experienced in
order that he might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt but that he is
at present with us as though he suffered with us.
    "Faithful" means one true and upright, for it is one opposite to a
dissembler; and to him who fulfill not his engagements. An acquaintance
with our sorrows and miseries so inclines Christ to compassion, that he
is constant in imploring God's aid for us. What besides? Having purposed
to make atonement for sins, he put on our nature that we might have in
our own flesh the price of our redemption; in a word, that by the right
of a common nature he might introduce us, together with himself, into the
sanctuary of God. By the words, in things pertaining to God, he means
such things as are necessary to reconcile men to God; and as the first
access to God is by faith, there is need of a Mediator to remove all
doubting.
=====> 2:18. "For in that he himself has suffered", &c. Having been tried
by our evils, he is ready, he says, to bring us help. The word
"temptation" here means no other thing than experience or probation; and
to be "able", is to be fit, or inclined, or suitable.



Chapter 3

=====> 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
3:2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was
faithful] in all his house.
3:3 For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch
as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
3:4 For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all
things [is] God.
3:5 And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a
testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we
hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

=====> 3:1. "Wherefore, holy brethren", &c. He concludes the preceding
doctrine with a necessary exhortation, that the Jews should attentively
consider what sort of being and how great Christ is. As he had before, by
naming him a teacher and a priest, briefly compared him with Moses and
Aaron, so he now includes both clauses; for he adorns him with two
titles, as he sustains a twofold character in the Church of God. Moses
was a prophet and a teacher, and Aaron was a priest; but the two offices
belong to Christ. If shell we seek rightly to know him, we must inquire
what sort of being he is; yea, he must be clothed with his own power,
lest we lay hold on an empty shadow and not on him.
    First, the word "consider", is important, for it intimates that
singular attention is required, as he cannot be disregarded with
impunity, and that at the same time the true knowledge of Christ is
sufficient to dissipate the darkness of all errors. And to encourage them
the more to pursue this study, he reminds them of their calling; as
though he had said, "God favoured you with no common grace when He called
you into his kingdom; it now remains that you have your eyes fixed on
Christ as your leader in the way." For the calling of the godly cannot be
otherwise confirmed than by a thorough surrender of themselves to Christ.
We ought not therefore to regard this as said only to the Jews, but that
it is a general truth addressed to all who desire to come into the
kingdom of God; they ought sedulously to attend to Christ, for he is the
sole instructor of our faith, and has confirmed it by the sacrifice of
himself; for "confession", or profession, is to be taken here for faith,
as thought he had said, that the faith we profess is vain and of no
avail, unless Christ be its object.
=====> 3:2. "Who was", or is "faithful", &c. This is a commendation of
the apostleship of Christ, in order that the faithful may securely
acquiesce in him; and he commends it on two grounds, because the Father
has set him to be over us as our teacher, and because Christ himself has
faithfully performed the office committed to him. These two things are
always necessary to secure authority to a doctrine; for God alone ought
to be attended to, as the whole Scripture testifies; hence Christ
declares, that the doctrine which he delivered was not his own, but the
Father's, (John 7: 16;) and in another place he says, "He who received
me, receiveth him who has sent me." (Luke 9: 48.) For we say of Christ,
that as he is clothed with our flesh, he is the Father's minister to
execute his commands. To the calling of God is added the faithful and
upright performance of duty on the part of Christ; and this is required
in true ministers, in order that they may obtain credence in the Church.
Since these two things are found in Christ, doubtless he cannot be
disregarded without despising God in him.
    "As also Moses", &c. Omitting for a while the priesthood, he speaks
here of his apostleship. For as there are two parts in God's covenant,
the promulgation of the truth, and so to speak, its real confirmation,
the full perfection of the covenant would not appear in Christ, were not
both parts found in him. Hence the writer of the epistle, after having
mentioned both, roused attention by a brief exhortation. But he now
enters on a longer discussion, and begins with the office of a teacher:
he therefore now compares Christ only with Moses. The words, "in all his
house", may be applied to Moses; but I prefer to apply them to Christ, as
he may be said to be faithful to his Father in ruling his whole house. It
hence follows, that none belong to the Church of God except those who
acknowledge Christ.
 3. "For this" man (or, he) "was counted worthy", &c. Lest he might
appear to make Moses equal to Christ, he reminds us of his superior
excellency; and this he proves by two arguments, -Moses so ruled the
Church, that he was still a part and member of it; but Christ being the
builder, is superior to the whole building, - Moses while ruling others,
was ruled also himself, as he was a servant; but Christ being a Son
possesses supreme power.
    It is a frequent and well-known metaphor used in Scripture to call
the Church the house of God. (1 Tim. 3: 15.) And as it is composed of the
faithful, each of them is called a living stone. (1 Pet. 2: 5.) They are
also sometimes called the vessels with which the house is furnished. (2
Tim. 2: l0.) There is then no one so eminent that he is not a member, and
included in the universal body. God being the builder, alone is to be set
above his own work; but God dwells in Christ, so that whatever is said of
God is applicable to him.
    If any one objects and says that Christ is also a part of the
building because he is the foundation, because he is our brother, because
he has a union with us and then that he is not the master-builder because
he himself has formed by God: in reply to these things we say that our
faith is so founded on him that he still rules over us that he is in such
a way our brother that he is yet our Lord, that he was so formed by God
as man that he nevertheless by his Spirit revives and restores all things
as the eternal God. The Scripture employs us various metaphors to set
forth Christ s grace towards us; but there is no one which derogates from
his honour mentioned here by the Apostle; for what is stated here is that
all ought to be brought down to their own state because they ought to be
in subjection to the head and that Christ alone is exempt from this
submission, because he is the head.
    If it be again objected and said that Moses was no less a
master-builder than Paul who gloried in this title: to this I reply that
this name is applied to prophets and teachers but not with strict
correctness; for they are only the instruments and indeed dead
instruments, except the Lord from heaven gives efficacy to what they do;
and then they so labour in building the Church, that they themselves form
a part of the structure; but the case is wholly different as to Christ,
for he ever builds up the Church by the power of his own Spirit. Besides,
he stands far above the rest, for he is in such a way the true temple of
God, that he is at the same time the God who inhabits it.
=====> 3:4. "He that built", &c. Though these words may be extended to
the creation of the whole world, yet I confine then to the present
subject. We are then to understand that nothing is done in the Church
which ought not to he ascribed to Gods power; for he alone has founded it
by his own hand, (Ps. 87: 5;) and Paul says of Christ that he is the
head, from whom the whole body, joined together and connected by every
subservient juncture, makes an increase according to what is done
proportionally by every member. (Eph. 4: l6.) Hence he often declares
that the success of his ministry was God's work. In a word, if we take a
right view of things, it will appear that how much soever God may use the
labours of men in building his Church, yet he himself performs everything
- the instrument derogates nothing from the workman.
=====> 3:5. "And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a
servant," &c. The second difference is, that to Moses was committed a
doctrine to which he, in common with others, was to submit; but Christ,
though he put on the form of a servant, is yet Master and Lord, to whom
all ought to be subject; for, as we found in chap. 1: 2, he is
constituted heir of all things.
    "For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after", or
which were afterwards to be said or declared. I explain this simply in
this way, - that Moses, while a herald of that doctrine which was to be
published for a time to the ancient people, did at the same time render a
testimony to the Gospel, the publication of which was not as yet to be
made; for it is doubtless evident, that the end and completion of the Law
is that perfection of wisdom contained in the Gospel. This exposition
seems to comport with the future tense of the participle. The meaning
indeed is, that Moses faithfully delivered to the people what the Lord
had committed to him, but that limits were prescribed to him which it was
not lawful for him to pass. God formerly spoke at different times and in
various ways by the prophets, but he deferred to the fulness of time the
complete revelation of the Gospel.
=====> 3:6. "Whose house are we", &c. As Paul in his Epistle to the
Romans, after having prefaced that he was appointed to be the Apostle of
the Gentiles, adds, for the sake of gaining credit among them, that they
were of that number; so now the author of this epistle exhorts the Jews
who had already made a profession of Christ to persevere in the faith,
that they might be deemed as being in Gods household. He had said before
that God's house was subject to the authority of Christ. Suitably to this
declaration is added the admonition that they would then have a place in
God's family when they obeyed Christ. But as they had already embraced
the gospel, he mentions their condition if they persevered in the faith.
For the word "hope" I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but
the constancy of faith. He mentions "confidence" and "rejoicing", or
glorying, in order to express more fully the power of faith. And we hence
conclude that those who assent to the Gospel doubtfully and like those
who vacillate, do not truly and really believe; for faith cannot be
without a settled peace of mind, from which proceeds the bold confidence
of rejoicing. And so these two things, confidence and rejoicing, are ever
the effects of faith, as we stated in explaining Romans the 5th chapter,
and Ephesians the 3rd chapter.
    But to these things the whole teaching of the Papists is opposed; and
this very fact, were there nothing else, sufficiently proves that they
pull down the Church of God rather than build it. For the certainty by
which alone we are made, as the Apostle teaches us, holy temples to God,
they not only darken by their glosses, but also condemn as presumption.
Besides, what firmness of confidence can there be when men know not what
they ought to believe? And yet that monstrous thing, implicit faith,
which they have invented, is nothing else than a license to entertain
errors. This passage reminds us that we are always to make progress even
unto death; for our whole life is as it were a race.

=====> 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his
voice,
3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of
temptation in the wilderness:
3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty
years.
3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do
alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways.
3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief, in departing from the living God.
3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    He proceeds in his exhortation, that they were to obey Christ
speaking to them; and that he might add more weight to it, he confirms it
by the testimony of David; for since they were to be sharply goaded, it
was better, for the sake of avoiding offence, to bring forward another
person. Had he simply reproached them for the unbelief of the fathers,
they would have less favourably attended to him; but when he brought
forward David, it was less offensive. Now, the import of the whole is, -
As God from the beginning would his voice obeyed, and could not endure
perverseness without punishing it severely, so at this day he will not
lightly punish our stubbornness, unless we become teachable. But the
discourse is suspended until we come to the words, "Take heed, brethren,
lest there be at any time in any of you," &c. That the passage, then, may
flow better, it would be proper to include the rest in a parenthesis. Let
us now consider the words in order.
=====> 3:7. "As the Holy Ghost saith", &c. This availed much more to
touch their hearts than if he had quoted David by name. And it is useful
for us to familiarize ourselves with such expressions, so that we may
remember that the words adduced from the books of the prophets are those
of God and not of men.
    But as this sentence, "Today, if ye will hear his voice", is a part
of a former verse, some have not unsuitably rendered it thus, "Would to
God you would this day hear his voice." It is indeed certain that when
David called tile Jews God's people, he immediately drew this conclusion,
that the voice of God ought to have been heard by them; for as to those
whom he there invited to sing praises to God and to celebrate his
goodness, he reminded them at the same time that obedience was the chief
worship which he required, and that it was better than all sacrifices.
The chief thing, then, was to obey the word of God.
=====> 3:8. Then follows, "Harden not your hearts". By which words is
intimated that our rebellion against God flows from no other fountain
then wilful wickedness, by which we obstruct the entrance of his grace,
We have indeed by nature a heart of stone, and there is in all an innate
hardness from the womb, which God alone can mollify and amend. That we,
however, reject the voice of God, it happens through a spontaneous
obstinacy, not through an external impulse, a fact of which every one is
a witness to himself. Rightly, then, does the Spirit accuse all the
unbelieving that they resist God, and that they are the teachers and
authors of their own perverseness, so that they can throw the blame on
none else. It is hence, however, absurdly concluded that we have, on the
other hand, a free power to form the heart for God's service; nay rather,
it must ever be the case with men, that they harden their heart until
another be given them from heaven; for as we are bent towards wickedness,
we shall never cease to resist God until we shall be tamed and subdued by
his hand.
    "As in the provocation", &c. It was for two reasons necessary for
them to be reminded of the disobedience of their fathers; for as they
were foolishly inflated on account of the glory of their race, they often
imitated the vices of their fathers as though they were virtues, and
defended themselves by their examples; and further, when they heard that
their fathers were so disobedient to God, they were thus more fully
taught that this admonition was not superfluous. As both these reasons
existed even in the Apostle's time, he readily accommodated to his own
purpose what had been formerly said by David, in order that those whom he
addressed might not imitate their fathers too much.
    And hence may be learnt a general truth, that we are not to defer too
much to the authority of the fathers lest it should draw us away from
Cod; for if any fathers have ever been worthy of honour, no doubt the
Jews possessed that preeminence; and yet David distinctly commanded their
children to beware of being like them. 
    And I have no doubt but that he referred to the history recorded in
Exod. 17: for David uses here the two names which Moses relates were
given to a certain place, |merivah|, Meribah, which means strife or
provocation, and |masah|, Massah, which means temptation. They tempted
God by denying that he was in the midst of them, because they were
distressed for want of water; and they also provoked him by contending
with Moses. Though indeed they gave many examples of unbelief, yet David
selected this in an especial manner, because it was more memorable then
any other, and also, because in order of time it followed for the most
part the rest, as it evidently appears from the fourth book of Moses,
where from chap. 10 to 20 a series of many temptations is described; but
this narrative is given in the twentieth chapter. This circumstance
increased not a little the atrocity of their wickedness; for they had
often experienced the power of God, and yet they perversely contended
with him, and renounced all confidence in him: how great was their
ingratitude! He then mentioned one particular instance instead of many.
=====> 3:9. "Tempted", &c. This word is to be taken in a bad sense; it
means to provoke in a proud and insulting manner, which we express in
French by saying, "defier comme en depitant". For though God had often
brought them help, yet they forgot all, and scornfully asked, where was
his power. "Proved", &c. This clause is to be thus explained, "When yet
they had proved me and seen my works". For it enhanced the guilt of their
impiety, that having been taught by so many evidences of divine power,
they had made so bad a progress. For it was a marvellous supineness and
stupidity to esteem God's power as nothing, which had been so fully
proved.
    "Forty years". These are connected by David with what follows. But we
know that the Apostles in quoting passages attend more to the general
meaning than to the words. And no doubt God complained that the people
had been vexatious to him for forty years, because so many benefits had
availed nothing for the purpose of teaching them; for though God did good
continually to them who were wholly unworthy, they yet never ceased to
rise up against him. Hence arose his continual indignation, as though he
had said "Not once or for a short time have they provoked me, but by
their incessant wickedness for forty years." "Generation" means race, or
men of one age.
=====> 3:10. "And I said", &c. This was God's sentence, by which he
declared that they were destitute of a sound mind, and he adds the
reason, "For they have not known my ways". In short, he regarded them as
past hope, for they were without sense and reason. And here he assumed
the character of man, who at length after long trials declares that he
has discovered obstinate madness, for he says that they always went
astray, and no hope of repentance appeared.

=====> 3:11. "So I sware", &c. It was the punishment of their madness,
that they were deprived of the rest promised them. Moreover, the Lord
calls the land, where they might have had their dwelling, "his rest". For
they had been sojourners in Egypt and wanderers in the wilderness; but
the land of Canaan was to be, according to the promise, their perpetual
inheritance; and it was in reference to this promise that God called it
his rest: for nowhere can we have a settled dwelling, except where we are
fixed by his hand. But their right to a sure possession was founded on
what God said to Abraham, "To thy seed will I give this land." (Gen. 12:
7.)
    By God swearing, "If they shall enter", &c., the atrocity of their
evil conduct is made more evident and is more forcibly set forth, for it
is an evidence of wrath greatly inflamed. "If they shall enter," is in
the form of an oath, in which something is to be understood, as an
imprecation, or some such thing, when men speak; but when God speaks, it
is the same as though he said, "Let me not be deemed true,", or, "Let me
not be hereafter believed, if such a thing shall not be so." However,
this defective mode of speaking recommends fear and reverence to us, so
that we may not rashly swear, as many do, who are often in the habit of
pouring forth dreadful curses.
    But as to the present passage, we ought not to think that they were
then for the first time denied entrance into the land by God's oath, when
they tempted him in Rephidim; for they had long before been excluded,
even from the time they had refused to march forward at the report of the
spies. God then does not here ascribe their expulsion from the land to
this instance of tempting him as to the first cause; but he intimates
that by no chastisement could they have been restored to a sound mind,
but that they continually added new offenses: and thus he shows that they
fully deserved to be thus severely punished, for they never ceased to
increase more and more his wrath by various sins, as though he had said,
"This is the generation to which I denied the possession of the promised
land, for during whole forty years afterwards it betrayed its obstinate
madness by innumerable sins."
=====> 3:12. "Take heed", (or see,) "brethren, lest there be at any time
in any of you a wicked heart of unbelief", &c. I have preferred to retain
literally what the Apostle states, rather than to give a paraphrase as to
the wicked or depraved "heart of unbelief", by which he intimates that
unbelief would be connected with depravity or wickedness, if after having
received the knowledge of Christ they departed from his faith. For he
addressed them who had been imbued with the elements of Christianity;
hence he immediately added, "By departing"; for the sin of defection is
accompanied with perfidy.
=====> 3:13. He also pointed out the remedy, so that they might not fall
into this wickedness, and that was, to "exhort one another". For as by
nature we are inclined to evil, we have need of various helps to retain
us in the fear of God. Unless our faith be now and then raised up, it
will lie prostrate; unless it be warmed, it will be frozen; unless it be
roused, it will grow torpid. He would have us then to stimulate one
another by mutual exhortations, so that Satan may not creep into our
hearts, and by his fallacies draw us away from God. And this is a way of
speaking that ought to be especially observed; for we fall not
immediately by the first assault into this madness of striving against
God; but Satan by degrees accosts us artfully by indirect means, until he
holds us ensnared in his delusions. Then indeed being blinded, we break
forth into open rebellion.
    We must then meet this danger in due time, and it is one that is nigh
us all, for nothing is more possible than to be deceived; and from this
deception comes at length hardness of heart. We hence see how necessary
it is for us to be roused by the incessant goads of exhortations. Nor
does the Apostle give only a general precept, that all should take heed
to themselves, but he should have them also to be solicitous for the
salvations of every member, so that they should not suffer any of those
who had been once called to perish through their neglect, and he who
feels it his duty so to watch over the salvation of the whole flock as to
neglect no one sheep, performs in this case the office of a good
shepherd. 
    "While it is called today". He now applies what David said more
particularly to his own subjects; for he reminds us that the word
"today", mentioned in the Psalm, ought not to be confined to the age of
David, but that it comprehends every time in which God may address us. As
often, then, and as long as he opened his sacred mouth to teach us, let
this sentence come to our minds, "Today, if ye will hear his voice". In
the same way Paul teaches us that when the Gospel is preached to us, it
is the accepted time in which God hears us, and the Day of salvation in
which he helps us. (2 Cor. 6: 2.)
    Now, of this opportunity we ought to avail ourselves; for if through
our sloth we suffer it to pass by, we shall hereafter in vain deplore its
loss. So Christ says, "Walk while ye have the light; come shortly shall
the night." (John 12: 35.) 
    The particle "while", then, or as long as, intimates that, The
seasonable time will not continue always, if we be too slothful to follow
when the Lord calls us. God non knocks at our door; unless we open to him
he will no doubt in his turn close against us the gate of his kingdom. In
a word, too late will be their groans who desr1ise the grace offered to
them today. As, then, we know not whether God will extend his calling to
tomorrow, let us not delay. Today he calls us; let us immediately respond
to him, for there is no faith except where there is such a readiness to
obey.

=====> 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning
of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your
hearts, as in the provocation.
3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that
came out of Egypt by Moses.
3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them
that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but
to them that believed not?
3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

=====> 3:14. "For we are made partakers", &c. He commends them for having
begun well; but lest, under the pretext of the grace which they had
obtained, they should indulge themselves in carnal security, he says that
there was need of perseverance; for many having only tasted the Gospel,
do not think of any progress as though they had reached the summit. Thus
it is that they not only stop in the middle of their race, yea, nigh the
starting-posts, but turn another way. Plausible indeed is this objection,
"What can we wish more after having found Christ?" But if he is possessed
by faith, we must persevere in it, so that he may be our perpetual
possession. Christ then has given himself to be enjoyed by us on this
condition, that by the same faith by which we have been admitted into a
participation of him, we are to preserve so great a blessing even to
death.
    Hence he says "beginning", intimating that their faith was only
begun. As "hypostasis" sometimes means "confidence", it may be so taken
here; yet the term "substance, as some have rendered it, I do not
dislike, though I explain it in a way somewhat different. They think that
faith is thus called, because the whole of what man may have without it
is nothing but vanity; but I so regard it, because we recumb on it alone,
as there is no other support on which we can rely. And suitable to this
view is the word "steadfast" or firm; for we shall be firmly fixed and
beyond the danger of vacillating, provided faith be our foundation. The
sum of the whole then is, that faith whose beginnings only appear in us,
is to make constant and steady progress to the end.
=====> 3:15. "While it is said", &c. He intimates that the reason for
making progress never ceases as long as we live, because God calls us
daily. For since faith responds to the preaching of the Gospel, as
preaching continues through the whole course of our life, so we ought to
continue growing in faith. The phrase, then, "while it is said", is the
same as though he had said, "Since God never makes an end of speaking, it
is not enough for us readily to receive his doctrine, except we exhibit
the same teachableness and obedience tomorrow and every following day."
=====> 3:16. "For some, when they had heard", &c. David spoke of the
fathers as though that whole generation were unbelieving; but it appears
that some who truly feared Go mingled with the wicked. The apostle
mentions this to modify what had been more severely said by David, in
order that we may know that the word is preached to all for this end,
that all may obey it with one consent, and that the whole people were
justly condemned for unbelief, when the body was torn and mutilated by
the defection of the greatest part.
    But by saying that some "provoked", while yet they were by far the
greatest part, this object was not only to avoid giving offence, but also
to encourage the Jews to imitate those who believed; as though he had
said, "As God forbids you to follow the unbelief of the fathers, so he
sets before you other fathers whose faith is to be your example". This is
mitigated what otherwise might have appeared too hard; that is, had they
been commanded wholly to dissent from their fathers. To "come out by
Moses", means by the hand of Moses, for he was the minister of their
deliverance. But there is an implied comparison between the benefit which
God had bestowed on them by Moses, and the participation of Christ
previously mentioned.
=====> 3:17. "But with whom was he grieved", or angry, &c. He means that
God had never been angry with his people except for just causes, as Paul
also reminds us in 1 Cor. 10: 5, 6. Therefore as many chastisements of
God as we read were inflicted on the ancient people, so many grievous
sins shall we find which provoked God's vengeance. At the same time we
must come to this conclusion, that unbelief was the chief of all their
evils; for though he mentions this the last, he yet means that it was the
primary cause of their curse; and no doubt from the time they once became
unbelievers, they never ceased to add one sin to another, and thus they
brought on themselves new scourges continually. Hence those very persons
who through unbelief rejected the possession of the land offered to them,
pursued their own obstinacy, now lusting, then murmuring, now committing
adultery, then polluting themselves with heathen superstitions, so that
their depravity became more fully manifested.
    The unbelief, then, which they showed from the beginning, prevented
them from enjoying the kindness of God; for the contempt of his word ever
led them to sin. And as at first they deserved through their unbelief
that God should deprive them of the promised rest, so whatever sin they
committed afterwards flowed from the same fountain.
    It may be further asked, whether Moses, and Aaron, and those like
them, were included in this number? To this I answer, that the Apostle
speaks of the whole community rather than of individuals. It is certain
that there were many godly men who were either not entangled in the
general impiety or soon repented. Moses' faith was once shaken and only
once, and that for a moment. The Apostle's words, therefore, contain a
statement of the whole instead of a part, a mode of speaking frequently
employed when a multitude or body of people are spoken of.


Chapter 4

=====> 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of
entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the
word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them
that heard [it].

=====> 4:1. "Let us therefore fear", &c. He concludes that there was
reason to fear lest the Jews to whom he was writing should be deprived of
the blessing offered to them; and then he says, "lest anyone", intimating
that it was his anxious desire to lead them, one and all, to God; for it
is the duty of a good shepherd, in watching over the whole flock so to
care for every sleep that no one may be lost; nay, we ought also so to
feel for one another that every one should fear for his neighbours as
well as for himself
    But the fear which is here recommended is not that which shakes the
confidence of faith but such as fills us with such  concern that we grow
not torpid with indifference. Let us then fear, not that we ought to
tremble or to entertain distrust as though uncertain as to the issue, but
lest we be unfaithful to God's grace.
    By saying "Lest we be disappointed of the promise left us", he
intimates that no one comes short of it except he who by rejecting grace
has first renounced the promise; for God is so far from repenting to do
us good that he ceases not to bestow his gifts except when we despise his
calling. The illative "therefore", or then means that by the fall of
others we are taught humility and watchfulness according to what Paul
also says, "These through unbelief have fallen; be not thou then high-
minded, but fear." (Rom. 11: 20.)
=====> 4:2. "For to us", &c. He reminds us that the doctrine by which God
invites us to himself at this day is the same with that which he formerly
delivered to the fathers; and why did he say this? That we may know that
the calling of God will in no degree be more profitable to us than it was
to them, except we make it sure by faith. This, then, he concedes, that
the Gospel is indeed preached to us; but lest we should vainly glory, he
immediately adds that the unbelieving whom God had formerly favoured with
the participation of so great blessings, yet received from them no fruit,
and that therefore we also shall be destitute of his blessing unless we
receive it by faith. He repeats the word "hear" for this end, that we may
know that hearing is useless except the word addressed to us be by faith
received.
    But we must here observe the connection between the word and faith.
It is such that faith is not to be separated from the word, and that the
word separated from faith can confer no good; not indeed that the
efficacy or power of the word depends on us; for were the whole world
false, he who cannot lie would still never cease to be true, but the word
never puts forth its power in us  except when faith gives it an entrance.
It is indeed the power of God unto salvation, but only to those who
believe. (Rom. 1: 16.) There is in it revealed the righteousness of God,
but it is from faith to faith. Thus it is that the word of God is always
efficacious and saving to men, when viewed in itself or in its own
nature; but no fruit will be found except by those who believe.
    As to a former statement, when I said that there is no faith where
the word is wanting, and that those who make such a divorce wholly
extinguish faith and reduce it to nothing, the subject is worthy of
special notice. For it hence appears evident that faith cannot exist in
any but in the children of God, to whom alone the promise of adoption is
offered. For what sort of faith have devils, to whom no salvation is
promised? And what sort of faith have all the ungodly who are ignorant of
the word? The hearing must ever precede faith, and that indeed that we
may know that God speaks and not men.

=====> 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As
I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the
works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise,
And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
4:5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest.
4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they
to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so
long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts.
4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have
spoken of another day.
4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his
own works, as God [did] from his.

    He now begins to embellish the passage which he had quoted from
David. He has hitherto taken it, as they say, according to the letter,
that is, in its literal sense; but he now amplifies and decorates it; and
thus he rather alludes to than explains the words of David. This sort of
decoration Paul employed in Rom. 10: 6, in referring to these words of
Moses, "Say not, who shall ascend into heaven!" &c. Nor is it indeed
anything unsuitable, in accommodating Scripture to a subject in hand, to
illustrate by figurative terms what is more simply delivered. However,
the sum of the whole is this, that what God threatens in the Psalm as to
the loss of his rest, applies also to us, inasmuch as he invites us also
at this day to a rest.
    The chief difficulty of this passage arises from this, that it is
perverted by many. The Apostle had no other thing in view by declaring
that there is a rest for us, than to rouse us to desire it, and also to
make us to fear, lest we should be shut out of it through unbelief He
however teaches us at the same time, that the rest into which an entrance
is now open to us, is far more valuable than that in the land of Canaan.
But let us now come to particulars.
=====> 4:3. "For we which have believed do enter into rest", or, for we
enter into the rest after we have believed, &c. It is an argument from
what is contrary. Unbelief alone shuts us out; then faith alone opens an
entrance. We must indeed bear in mind what he has already stated, that
God being angry with the unbelieving, had sworn that they should not
partake of that blessing. Then they enter in where unbelief does not
hinder, provided only that God invites them. But by speaking in the first
person he allures them with greater sweetness, separating them from
aliens.
    "Although the works," &c. To define what our rest is, he reminds us
of what Moses relates, that God having finished the creation of the
world, immediately rested from his works and he finally concludes, that
the true rest of the faithful, which is to continue forever, will be when
they shall rest as God did. And doubtless as the highest happiness of man
is to be united to his God, so ought to be his ultimate end to which he
ought to refer all his thoughts and actions. This he proves, because God
who is said to have rested, declared a long time after that he would not
give his rest to the unbelieving; he would have so declared to no
purpose, had he not intended that the faithful should rest after his own
example. Hence he says, "It remaineth that some must enter in:" for if
not to enter in is the punishment of unbelief, then an entrance, as it
has been said, is open to believers.
=====> 4:7. But there is some more difficulty in what he immediately
subjoins, that there is another today appointed for us in the Psalm,
because the former people had been excluded; but the words of David (as
it may be said) seem to express no such thing, and mean only this, that
God punished the unbelief of the people by refusing to them the
possession of the land. To this I answer, that the inference is correct,
that to us is offered what was denied to them; for the Holy Spirit
reminds and warns us, that we may not do the same thing so as to incur
the same punishment. For how does the matter stand? Were nothing at this
day promised, how could this warning be suitable, "Take heed lest the
same thing happen to you as to the fathers." Rightly then does the
Apostle say, that as the fathers' unbelief deprived them of the promised
possession, the promise is renewed to their children, so that they may
possess what had been neglected by their fathers.
=====> 4:8. "For if Jesus had given them rest", or, had obtained rest for
them, &c. He meant not to deny but that David understood by rest the land
of Canaan, into which Joshua conducted the people; but he denies this to
be the final rest to which the faithful aspire, and which we have also in
common with the faithful of that age; for it is certain that they looked
higher than to that land; nay, the land of Canaan was not otherwise so
much valued except for this reason, because it was an image and a symbol
of the spiritual inheritance. When, therefore, they obtained possession
of it, they ought not to have rested as though they had attained to the
summit of their wishes, but on the contrary to meditate on what was
spiritual as by it suggested. They to whom David addressed the Psalm were
in possession of that land, but they were reminded of the duty of seeking
a better rest.
    We shell see how the land of Canaan was a rest; it was indeed but
evanescent, beyond which it was the duty of the faithful to advance. In
this sense the Apostle denies that that rest was given by Joshua; for the
people under his guidance entered the promised land for this end, that
they might with greater alacrity advance forward towards heaven.
    And we may hence easily learn the difference between us and them; for
though the same end is designed for both, yet they had, as added to them,
external types to guide them; not so have we, nor have we indeed any need
of them, for the naked truth itself is set before our eyes. Though our
salvation is as yet in hope, yet as to the truth, it leads directly to
heaven; nor does Christ extend his hand to us, that he may conduct us by
the circuitous course of types and figures, but that he may withdraw us
from the world and raise us up to heaven. Now that the Apostle separates
the shadow from the substance, he did so for this reason, - because he
had to do with the Jews, who were too much attached to external things.
    He draws the conclusion, that there is a sabbathizing reserved for
Gods people, that is, a spiritual rest; to which God daily flails invites
us.
=====> 4:10. "For he that is entered into his rest", or, For he who has
rested, &c. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there
is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and
God, to whom they will be united. For whatever the philosophers may have
ever said of the chief good, it was nothing but cold and vain, for they
confined man to himself, while it is necessary for us to go out of
ourselves to find happiness. The chief good of man is nothing else but
union with God; this is attained when we are formed according to him as
our exemplar.
    Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest
from our works. It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by
self-denial. For what else is to cease from our works, but to mortify our
flesh, when a man renounces himself that he may live to God? For here we
must always begin, when we speak of a godly and holy life, that man being
in a manner dead to himself, should allow God to live in him, that he
should abstain from his own works, so as to give place to God to work. We
must indeed confess, that then only is our life rightly formed when it
becomes subject to God. But through inbred corruption this is never the
case, until we rest from our own works; nay, such is the opposition
between God's government and our corrupt affections, that he cannot work
in us until we rest. But though the completion of this rest cannot be
attained in this life, yet we ought ever to strive for it. Thus believers
enter it but on this condition, - that by running they may continually go
forward.
    But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the
Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for
in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the
knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together;
for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it
by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true
design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the
outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does expressly speak, for this
is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to
something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious
notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was
not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking
on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when
the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first
business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law.

=====> 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man
fall after the same example of unbelief.
4:12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart.
4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but
all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have
to do.

    Having pointed out the goal to which we are to advance, he exhorts us
to pursue our course, which we do, when we habituate ourselves to
self-denial. And as he compares entering into rest to a straight course,
he sets falling in opposition to it, and thus he continues the metaphor
in both clauses, at the same time he alludes to the history given by
Moses of those who fell in the wilderness, because they were rebellious
against God. (Num. 26: 65.) Hence he says, "after the same example",
signifying as though the punishment for unbelief and obstinacy is there
set before us as in a picture; nor is there indeed a doubt but that a
similar end awaits us, if there be found in us the same unbelief.
    Then, "to fall" means to perish; or to speak more plainly, it is to
fall, not as to sin, but as a punishment for it. But the figure
corresponds as well with the word to "enter", as with the sad overthrow
of the fathers, by whose example he intended to terrify the Jews.
=====> 4:12. "For the word of God is quick", or living, &c. What he says
here of the efficacy or power of the word, he says it, that they might
know, that it could not be despised with impunity, as though he had said,
"Whenever the Lord addresses us by his word, he deals seriously with us,
in order that he may touch all our inmost thoughts and feelings; and so
there is no part of our soul which ought not to be roused."
    But before we proceed further, we must inquire whether the Apostle
speaks of the effect of the word generally, or refers only to the
faithful.
    It indeed appears evident, that the word of God is not equally
efficacious in all. For in the elect it exerts its own power, when
humbled by a true knowledge of themselves, they flee to the grace of
Christ; and this is never the case, except when it penetrates into the
innermost heart. For hypocrisy must be sifted, which has marvelous and
extremely winding recesses in the hearts of men; and then we must not be
slightly pricked or torn, but be thoroughly wounded, that being prostrate
under a sense of eternal death, we may be taught to die to ourselves. In
short, we shall never be renewed in the whole mind, which Paul requires,
(Eph. 4: 23,) until our old man be slain by the edge of the spiritual
sword. Hence Paul says in another place, (Phil. 2: 17,) that the faithful
are offered as a sacrifice to God by the Gospel; for they cannot
otherwise be brought to obey God than by having, as it were, their own
will slain; nor can they otherwise receive the light of God's wisdom,
than by having the wisdom of the flesh destroyed. Nothing of this kind is
found in the reprobate; for they either carelessly disregard God speaking
to them, and thus mock him, or glamour against his truth, and obstinately
resist it. In short, as the word of God is a hammer, so they have a heart
like the anvil, so that its hardness repels its strokes, however powerful
they may be. The word of God, then, is far from being so efficacious
towards them as to penetrate into them to "the dividing of the soul and
the spirit". Hence it appears, that this its character is to be confined
to the faithful only, as they alone are thus searched to the quick.
    The context, however, shows that there is here a general truth, and
which extends also to the reprobate themselves; for though they are not
softened, but set up a brazen and an iron heart against God's word, yet
they must necessarily be restrained by their own guilt. They indeed
laugh, but it is a sardonic laugh; for they inwardly feel that they are,
as it were, slain; they make evasions in various ways, so as not to come
before God's tribunal; but though unwilling, they are yet dragged there
by this very word which they arrogantly deride; so that they may be fitly
compared to furious dogs, which bite and claw the chain by which they are
bound, and yet can do nothing, as they still remain fast bound.
    And further, though this effect of the word may not appear
immediately as it were on the first day, yet it will be found at length
by the event, that it has not been preached to any one in vain. General
no doubt is what Christ declares, when he says, When the Spirit shall
come, he will convince the world, (John 16: 8 9.) for the Spirit
exercises this office by the preaching, of the Gospel.
 And lastly, though the word of God does not always exert its power on
man, yet it has it in a manner included in itself. And the Apostle speaks
here of its character and proper office for this end only, - that we may
know that our consciences are summoned as guilty before God's tribunal as
soon as it sounds in our ears, as though he had said, "If any one thinks
that the air is beaten by an empty sound when the word of God is
preached, he is greatly mistaken; for it is a living thing and full of
hidden power, which leaves nothing in man untouched." The sum of the
whole then is this, - that as soon as God opens his sacred mouth, all our
faculties ought to be open to receive his word; for he would not have his
word scattered in vain, so as to disappear or to fall neglected on the
ground, but he would have it effectually to constrain the consciences of
men, so as to bring them under his authority; and that he has put power
in his word for this purpose, that it may scrutinize all the parts of the
soul, search the thoughts, discern the affections, and in a word show
itself to be the judge.
    But here a new question arises, "Is this word to be understood of the
Law or of the Gospel?" Those who think that the Apostle speaks of the Law
bring these testimonies of Paul, - that it is the ministration of death,
(2 Cor. 3: 6, 7,) that it is the letter which killeth, that it worketh
nothing but wrath, (Rom. 4: 15,) and similar passages. But here the
Apostle points out also its different effects; for, as we have said,
there is a certain vivifying killing of the soul, which is effected by
the Gospel. Let us then know that the Apostle speaks generally of the
truth of God, when he says, that it is living and efficacious. So Paul
testifies, when he declares, that by his preaching there went forth an
odour of death unto death to the unbelieving, but of life unto life to
believers, (2 Cor. 2: 16,) so that God never speaks in vain; he draws
some to salvation, others he drives into ruin. This is the power of
binding and losing which the Lord conferred on his Apostles. (Matt. 18:
18.) And, indeed, he never promises to us salvation in Christ, without
denouncing, on the other hand, vengeance on unbelievers,; who by
rejecting Christ bring death on themselves.
    It must be further noticed, that the Apostle speaks of God's word,
which is brought to us by the ministry of men. For delirious and even
dangerous are those notions, that though the internal word is
efficacious, yet that which proceeds from the mouth of man is lifeless
and destitute of all power. I indeed admit that the power does not
proceed from the tongue of man, nor exists in mere sound, but that the
whole power is to be ascribed altogether to the Holy Spirit; there is,
however, nothing in this to hinder the Spirit from putting forth his
power in the word preached. For God, as he speaks not by himself, but by
men, dwells carefully on this point, so that his truth may not be
objected to in contempt, because men are its ministers. So Paul, by
saying, that the Gospel is the power of God, (Rom. 1: l6.) designedly
adorned with this distinction his own preaching, though he saw that it
was slandered by some and despised by others. And when in another place,
(Rom. 10: 8,) he teaches us that salvation is conferred by the doctrine
of faith, he expressly says that it was the doctrine which was preached
We indeed find that God ever commends the truth ad ministered to us by
men, in order to induce us to receive it with reverence.
    Now, by calling the word "quick" or living he must be understood as
referring to men; which appears still clearer by the second word,
"powerful", for he shows what sort of life it possesses, when he
expressly says that it is efficacious; for the Apostle's object was to
teach us what the word is to us. The "sword" is a metaphorical word often
used in Scripture; but the Apostle not content with a simple comparison,
says, that God's word is "sharper than any sword", even than a sword that
cuts on both sides, or two-edged; for at that time swords were in common
use, which were blunt on one side, and sharp on the other. "Piercing even
to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit", or to the dividing of
the soul and spirit, &c. The word "soul" means often the same with
"spirit"; but when they occur together, the first includes all the
affections, and the second means what they call the intellectual faculty.
So Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, uses the words, when he prays God
to keep their spirit, and soul, and body blameless until the coming of
Christ, (I Thess. 5: 23,) he meant no other thing, but that they might
continue pure and chaste in mind, and will, and outward actions. Also
Isaiah means the same when he says, "My soul desired thee in the night; I
sought thee with my spirit." (Isa. 26: 9.) What he doubtless intends to
show is, that he was so intent on seeking God, that he applied his whole
mind and his whole heart. I know that some give a different explanation;
but all the sound-minded, as I expect, will assent to this view.
    Now, to come to the passage before us, it is said that God's word
"pierces", or reaches to the dividing of soul and spirit, that is, it
examines the whole soul of man; for it searches his thoughts and
scrutinizes his will with all its desires. And then he adds "the joints
and marrow", intimating that there is nothing so hard or strong in man,
nothing so hidden, that the powerful word cannot pervade it. Paul
declares the same when he says, that prophecy avails to reprove and to
judge men, so that the secrets of the heart may come, to light. (I Cor.
14: 24.) And as it is Christ's office to uncover and bring to light the
thoughts from the recesses of the heart, this he does for the most part
by the Gospel.
    Hence God's word is a "discerner", (|kritikos|, one that has power to
discern,) for it brings the light of knowledge to the mind of man as it
were from a labyrinth, where it was held before entangled. There is
indeed no thicker darkness than that of unbelief, and hypocrisy is a
horrible blindness; but God's word scatters this darkness and chases away
this hypocrisy. Hence the separating or discerning which the Apostle
mentions; for the vices, hid under the false appearance of virtues, begin
then to be known, the varnish being wiped away. And if the reprobate
remain for a time in their hidden recesses, yet they find at length that
God's word has penetrated there also, so that they cannot escape God's
judgement. Hence their glamour and also their fury, for were they not
smitten by the word, they would not thus betray their madness, but they
would seek to elude the word, or by evasion to escape from its power, or
to pass it by unnoticed; but these things God does not allow them to do.
Whenever then they slander God's word, or become enraged against it, they
show that they feel within its power, however unwillingly and
reluctantly.
=====> 4:13. "Neither is there any creature", &c. The conjunction here,
as I think, is causal, and may be rendered "for"; for in order to confirm
this truth, that whatever is hid in man is discerned and judged by God's
word, he draws an argument from the nature of God himself. There is no
creature, he says, which is hid from the eyes of God; there is,
therefore, nothing so deep in man's soul, which cannot be drawn forth
into light by that word that resembles its own author, for as it is God's
office to search the heart, so he performs this examination by his word.
    Interpreters, without considering that God's word is like a long
staff by which he examines and searches what lies deep in our hearts,
have strangely perverted this passage; and yet they have not relieved
themselves. But all difficulty disappears when we take this view, - that
we ought to obey God's word in sincerity and with cordial affection,
because God, who knows our hearts, has assigned to his word the office of
penetrating even into our inmost thoughts. The ambiguous meaning of the
last words has also led interpreters astray, which they have rendered,
"Of whom we speak;" but they ought, on the contrary, to be rendered,
"With whom we have to do". The meaning is, that it is God who deals with
us, or with whom we have a concern; and that, therefore, we ought not to
trifle with him as with a mortal man, but that whenever his word is set
before us, we ought to tremble, for nothing is hid from him.

=====> 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed
into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our]
profession.
4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the
feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we
are, yet] without sin.
4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

=====> 4:14. "Seeing then that we have", or, Having then, &c. He has been
hitherto speaking of Christ's apostleship, But he how passes on to his
second office. For we have said that the Son of God sustained a twofold
character when he was sent to us, even that of a teacher and of a priest.
The Apostle, therefore, after having exhorted the Jews obediently to
embrace the doctrine of Christ, now shows what benefit his priesthood has
brought to us; and this is the second of the two points which he handles.
And fitly does he connect the priesthood with the apostleship, since he
reminds us that the design of both is to enable us to come to God. He
employs an inference, "then"; for he had before referred to this great
truth, that Christ is our high priest; but as the character of the
priesthood cannot be known except through teaching, it was necessary to
prepare the way, so as to render men willing to hear Christ. It now
remains, that they who acknowledge Christ as their teacher, should become
teachable disciples, and also learn from his mouth, and in his school,
what is the benefit of his priesthood, and what is its use and end.
    In the first place he says, "Having a great highpriest, Jesus Christ,
let us hold fast our profession", or confession. Confession is here, as
before, to be taken as a metonymy for faith; and as the priesthood serves
to confirm the doctrine, the Apostle hence concludes that there is no
reason to doubt or to waver respecting the faith of the Gospel, because
the Son of God has approved and sanctioned it; for whosoever regards the
doctrine as not confirmed, dishonours the Son of God, and deprives him of
his honour as a priest; nay, such and so great a pledge ought to render
us confident, so as to rely unhesitantly on the Gospel.
=====> 4:15. "For we have not", &c. There is in the name which he
mentions, "the Son of God", such majesty as ought to constrain us to fear
and obey him. But were we to contemplate nothing but this in Christ, our
consciences would not be pacified; for who of us does not dread the sight
of the Son of God, especially when we consider what our condition is, and
when our sins come to mind? The Jews might have had also another
hindrance, for they had been accustomed to the Levitical priesthood; they
saw in that one mortal man, chosen from the rest, who entered into the
sanctuary, that by his prayer he might reconcile his brethren to God. It
is a great thing, when the Mediator, who can pacify God towards us, is
one of ourselves. By this sort of allurement the Jews might have been
ensnared, so as to become ever attached to the Levitical priesthood, had
not the Apostle anticipated this, and showed that the Son of God not only
excelled in glory, but that he was also endued with equal kindness and
compassion towards us.
    It is, then, on this subject that he speaks, when he says that he was
"tried by our infirmities", that he might condole with us. As to the word
sympathy, (|sumpatheia|), I am not disposed to indulge in refinements;
for fivolous, no less than curious, is this question, "Is Christ now
subject to our sorrows?" It was not, indeed, the Apostle's object to
weary us with such subtilties and vain speculations, but only to teach us
that we have not to go far to seek a Mediator, since Christ of his own
accord extends his hand to us, that we have no reason to dread the
majesty of Christ since he is our brother, and that there is no cause to
fear, lest he, as one unacquainted with evils, should not be touched by
any feelings of humanity, so as to bring us help, since he took upon him
our infirmities, in order that he might be more inclined to succour us.
    Then the whole discourse of the Apostle refers to what is apprehended
by faith, for he does not speak of what Christ is in himself, but shows
what he is to us. By the "likeness", he understands that of nature, by
which he intimates that Christ has put on our flesh, and also its
feelings or affections, so that he not only paroled himself to be real
man, but had also been taught by his own experience to help the
miserable; not because the Son of God had need of such a training, but
because we could not otherwise comprehend the care he feels for our
salvation. Whenever, then, we labour under the infirmities of our flesh,
let us remember that the son of God experienced the same, in order that
he might by his power raise us up, so that we may not be overwhelmed by
them.
    But it may be asked, What does he mean by "infirmities"? The word is
indeed taken in various senses. Some understand by it cold and heat;
hunger and other wants of the body; and also contempt, poverty, and other
things of this mind, as in many places in the writings of Paul,
especially in 2 Cor. 12: 10. But their opinion is more correct who
include, together with external evils, the feelings of the souls such as
fear, sorrow, the dread of death, and similar things.
    And doubtless the restriction, "without sin", would not have been
added, except he had been speaking of the inward feelings, which in us
are always sinful on account of the depravity of our nature; but in
Christ, who possessed the highest rectitude and perfect purity, they were
free from everything vicious. Poverty, indeed, and diseases, and those
things which are without us, are not to be counted as sinful. Since,
therefore, he speaks of infirmities akin to sin, there is no doubt but
that he refers to the feelings or affections of the mind, to which our
nature is liable, and that on account of its infirmity. For the condition
of the angels is in this respect better than ours; for they sorrow not,
nor fear, nor are they harassed by variety of cares, nor by the dread of
death. These infirmities Christ of his own accord undertook, and he
willingly contended with them, not only that he might attain a victory
over them for us, but also that we may feel assured that he is present
with us whenever we are tried by them.
    Thus he not only really became a man, but he also assumed all the
qualities of human nature. There is, however, a limitation added,
"without sin"; for we must ever remember this difference between Christ's
feelings or affections and ours, that his feelings were always regulated
according to the strict rule of justice, while ours flow from a turbid
fountain, and always partake of the nature of their source, for  they are
turbulent and unbridled.
=====> 4:16. "Let us therefore come boldly", or, with confidence, &c. He
draws this conclusion, - that an access to God is open to all who come to
him relying on Christ the Mediator; nay, he exhorts the faithful to
venture without any hesitation to present themselves before God. And the
chief benefit of divine teaching is a sure confidence in calling on God,
as, on the other hand, the whole of religion falls to the ground, and is
lost when this certainty is taken away from consciences.
    It is hence obvious to conclude, that under the Papacy the light of
the Gospel is extinct, for miserable men are bidden to doubt whether God
is propitious to them or is angry with them. They indeed say that God is
to be sought; but the way by which it is possible to come to him is not
pointed out, and the gate is barred by which alone men can enter. They
confess in words that Christ is a Mediator, but in reality they make the
power of his priesthood of none effect, and deprive him of his honour.
    For we must hold this principle, - that Christ is not really known as
a Mediator except all doubt as to our access to God is removed; otherwise
the conclusion here drawn would not stand, "We have a high priest Who is
willing to help us; therefore we may come bold and without any hesitation
to the throne of grace." And were we indeed fully persuaded that Christ
is of his own accord stretching forth his hand to us, who of us would not
come in perfect confidence? It is then true what I said, that its power
is taken away from Christ's priesthood whenever men have doubts, and are
anxiously seeking for mediators, as though that one were not sufficient,
in whose patronage all they who really trust, as the Apostle here directs
them, have the assurance that their prayers are heard.
    The ground of this assurance is, that the throne of God is not
arrayed in naked majesty to confound us, but is adorned with a new name,
even that of grace, which ought ever to be remembered whenever we shun
the presence of God. For the glory of God, when we contemplate it alone,
can produce no other effect than to fill us with despair; so awful is his
throne. The Apostle, then, that he might remedy our diffidence, and free
our minds from all fear and trembling, adorns it with "grace," and gives
it a name which can allure us by its sweetness, as though he had said,
"Since God has affirmed to his throne as it were the banner of 'grace'
and of his paternal love towards us, there are no reasons why his majesty
should drive us away."
    The e import of the whole is, that we are to call upon God Without
fear, since we know that he is propitious to us, and that this may be
done is owing to the benefit conferred on us by Christ, as we find from
Eph. 3: 12; for when Christ receives us under his protection and
patronage, he covers with his goodness the majesty of God, which would
otherwise be terrible to us, so that nothing appears there but grace and
paternal favour.
    "That we may obtain mercy", &c. This is not added without great
reason; it is for the purpose of encouraging as it were by name those who
feel the need of mercy, lest any one should be cast down by the sense of
his misery, and close up his way by his own diffidence. This expression,
"that we may obtain mercy", contains especially this most delightful
truth, that all who, relying on the advocacy of Christ, pray to God, are
certain to obtain mercy; yet on the other hand the Apostle indirectly, or
by implication, holds out a threatening to all who take not this way, and
intimates that God will be inexorable to them, because they disregard the
only true way of being reconciled to him.
    He adds, "To help in time of need", or, for a seasonable help; that
is, if we desire to obtain all things necessary for our salvation. Now,
this seasonableness refers to the time of calling, according to those
words of Isaiah, which Paul accommodates to the preaching of the Gospel,
"Behold, now is the accepted time," &c., (Isa. 49: 8; 2 Cor. 6: 2;) for
the Apostle refers to that "today," during which God speaks to us. If we
defer hearing until tomorrow, when God is speaking to us today, the
unseasonable night will come, when what now may be done can no longer be
done; and we shall in vain knock when the door is closed.


Chapter 5

=====> 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men
in things [pertaining] to God, that he may offer both gifts and
sacrifices for sins:
5:2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of
the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
5:3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for
himself, to offer for sins.
5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of
God, as [was] Aaron.
5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but
he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
5:6 As he saith also in another [place], Thou [art] a priest for ever
after the order of Melchisedec.

=====> 5:1. "For every high priest", &c. He compares Christ with the
Levitical priests, and he teaches us what is the likeness and the
difference between them; and the object of the whole discourse is, to
show what Christ's office really is, and also to prove that whatever was
ordained under the law was ordained on his account. Hence the Apostle
passes on at last to show that the ancient priesthood was abolished.
    He first says that the priests were "taken from among men"; secondly,
that they did not act a private part but for the whole people; thirdly,
that they were not to come empty to appease God, but furnished with
sacrifices; fourthly, that they were not to be exempt from human
infirmities, that they might more readily succour the distressed; and
lastly, that they were not presumptuously to rush into this office, and
that then only was the honour legitimate when they were chosen and
approved by God. We shall consider briefly each of these points.
    We must first, however, expose the ignorance of those who apply these
things to our time, as though there was at this day the same need of
priests to offer sacrifices; at the same time there is no necessity for a
long refutation. For what can be more evident than that the reality found
in Christ is compared with its types, which, being prior in time, have
now ceased? But this will appear more fully from the context. How
extremely ridiculous then are they who seek by this passage to establish
and support the sacrifice of the mass! I now return to the words of the
Apostle.
    "Taken from among men", &c. This he says of the priests. It hence
follows that it was necessary for Christ to be a real man; for as we are
very far from God, we stand in a manner before him in the person of our
priest, which could not be, were he not one of us. Hence, that the Son of
God has a nature in common with us, does not diminish his dignity, but
commends it the more to us; for he is fitted to reconcile us to God,
because he is man. Therefore Paul, in order to prove that he is a
Mediator, expressly calls him man; for had he been taken from among
angels or any other beings, we could not by him be united to God, as he
could not react down to us.
    "For men", &c. This is the second clause; the priest was not
privately a minister for himself, but was appointed for the common good
of the people. But it is of great consequence to notice this, so that we
may know that the salvation of us all is connected with and revolves on
the priesthood of Christ. The benefit is expressed in these words,
"ordains those things which pertain to God". They may, indeed, be
explained in two ways, as the verb |kathistatai| has a passive as well as
an active sense. They who take it passively give this version, "is
ordained in those things," &c.; and thus they would have the preposition
in to be understood approve more of the other rendering, that the high
priest takes care of or ordains the things pertaining to God; for the
construction flows better, and the sense is fuller. But still in either
way, what the Apostle had in view is the same, namely, that we have no
intercourse with God, except there be a priest; for, as we are unholy,
what have we to do with holy things? We are in a word alienated from God
and his service until a priest interposes and undertakes our cause.
    "That he may offer both gifts", &c. The third thing he mentions
respecting a priest is the offering of gifts. There are however here two
things, gifts and sacrifices; the first word includes, as I think,
various kinds of sacrifices, and is therefore a general term; but the
second denotes especially the sacrifices of expiation. Still the meaning
is, that the priest without a sacrifice is no peacemaker between God and
man, for without a sacrifice sins are not atoned for, nor is the wrath of
God pacified. Hence, whenever reconciliation between God and man takes
place, this pledge must ever necessarily precede. Thus we see that angels
are by no means capable of obtaining for us God's favour, because they
have no sacrifice. The same must be thought of Prophets and Apostles.
Christ alone then is he, who having taken away sins by his own sacrifice,
can reconcile God to us.
=====> 5:2. "Who can", &c. This fourth point has some affinity to the
first, and yet it may be distinguished from it; for the Apostle before
taught us that mankind are united to God in the person of one man, as all
men partake of the same flesh and nature; but now he refers to another
thing, and that is, that the priest ought to be kind and gentle to
sinners, because he partakes of their infirmities. The word which the
Apostle uses, | metriopathein|, is differently explained both by Greek
and Latin interpreters. I, however, think that it simply means one
capable of sympathy. All the things which are here said of the Levitical
priests do not indeed apply to Christ; for Christ we know was exempt from
every contagion of sin; he therefore differed from others in this
respect, that he had no necessity of offering a sacrifice for himself.
But it is enough for us to know that he bare our infirmities, though free
from sin and undefiled. Then, as to the ancient and Levitical priests,
the Apostle says, that they were subject to human infirmity, and that
they made atonement also for their own sins, that they might not only be
kind to others when gone astray, but also condole or sympathize with
them. This part ought to be so far applied to Christ as to include that
exception which he mentioned before, that is, that he bare our
infirmities, being yet without sin. At the same time, though ever free
from sin, yet that experience of infirmities before described is alone
abundantly sufficient to incline him to help us, to make him merciful and
ready to pardon, to render him solicitous for us in our miseries. The sum
of what is said is, that Christ is a brother to us, not only on account
of unity as to flesh and nature, but also by becoming a partaker of our
infirmities, so that he is led, and as it were formed, to show
forbearance and kindness. The participle, |dunamenos|, is more forcible
than in our common tongue, "qui possit",  "who can," for it expresses
aptness or fitness. "The ignorant" and those "out of the way", or erring,
he has named instead of sinners, according to what is done in Hebrew; for
|shegagah| means every kind of error or offence, as I shall have
presently an occasion to explain.
=====> 5:4. "And no man", &c. There is to be noticed in this verse partly
a likeness and partly a difference. What makes an office lawful is the
call of God; so that no one can rightly and orderly perform it without
being made fit for it by God. Christ and Aaron had this in common, that
God called them both; but they differed in this, that Christ succeeded by
a new and different way and was made a perpetual priest. It is hence
evident that Aaron's priesthood was temporary, for it was to cease. We
see the object of the Apostle; it was to defend the right of Christ's
priesthood; and he did this by showing that God was its author. But this
would not have been sufficient, unless it was made evident that an end
was to be put to the old in order that a room might be obtained for this.
And this point he proves by directing our attention to the terms on which
Aaron was appointed, for we are not to extend them further then God's
decree; and he will presently make it evident how long God had designed
this order to continue. Christ then is a lawful priest, for he was
appointed by God's authority. What is to be said of Aaron and his
successors? That they had as much right as was granted them by the Lord,
but not so much as men according to their own fancy concede to them.
    But though this has been said with reference to what is here handled,
yet we may hence draw a general truth, - that no government is to be set
up in the Church by the will of men, but that we are to wait for the
command of God, and also that we ought to follow a certain rule in
electing ministers, so that no one may intrude according to his own
humour. Both these things ought to be distinctly noticed for the Apostle
here speaks not of persons only, but also of the office itself; nay, he
denies that the office which men appoint without God's command is lawful
and divine. For as it appertains to God only to rule his Church, so he
claims this right as his own, that is, to prescribe the way and manner of
administration. I hence deem it as indisputable, that the Papal
priesthood is spurious; for it has been framed in the workshop of men.
God nowhere commands a sacrifice to be offered now to him for the
expiation of sins; nowhere does he command priests to be appointed for
such a purpose. While then the Pope ordains his priests for the purpose
of sacrificing, the Apostle denies that they are to be counted lawful
priests; they cannot therefore be such, except by some new privilege they
exalt themselves above Christ, for he dared not of himself to take upon
him this honour, but waited for the command of the Father.
    This also ought to be held good as to persons, that no individual is
of himself to seize on this honour without public authority. I speak now
of offices divinely appointed. At the same time it may sometimes be, that
one, not called by God, is yet to be tolerated, however little he may be
approved, provided the office itself be divine and approved by God; for
many often creep in through ambition or some bad motives, whose call has
no evidence; and yet they are not to be immediately rejected, especially
when this cannot be done by the public decision of the Church. For during
two hundred years before the coming of Christ the foulest corruptions
prevailed with respect to the priesthood, yet the right of honour,
proceeding from the calling of God, still continued as to the office
itself; and the men themselves were tolerated, because the freedom of the
Church was subverted. It hence appears that the greatest defect is the
character of the office itself, that is, when men of themselves invent
what God has never commanded. The less endurable then are those Romish
sacrificers, who prattle of nothing but their own titles, that they may
be counted sacred, while yet they have chosen themselves without any
authority from God.
=====> 5:5. "Thou art my Son", &c. This passage may seem to be
far-fetched; for though Christ was begotten of God the Father, he was not
on this account made also a priest. But if we consider the end for which
Christ was manifested to the world, it will plainly appear that this
character necessarily belongs to him. We must however bear especially in
mind what we said on the first chapter; that the begetting of Christ, of
which the Psalmist speaks, was a testimony which the Father rendered to
him before men. Therefore the mutual relation between the Father and the
Son is not what is here intended; but regard is rather had to men to whom
he was manifested. Now, what sort of Son did God manifest to us? One
induct with no honour, with no power? Nay, one who was to be a Mediator
between himself and man; his begetting then included his priesthood.
=====> 5:6. "As he saith in another place", or, "elsewhere", &c. Here is
expressed more clearly what the Apostle intended. This is a remarkable
passage, and indeed the whole Psalm from which it is taken; for there is
scarcely anywhere a clearer prophecy respecting Christ's eternal
priesthood and his kingdom. And yet the Jews try all means to evade it,
in order that they might obscure the glory of Christ; but they cannot
succeed. They apply it to David, as though he was the person whom God
bade to sit on his right hand; but this is an instance of extreme
effrontery; for we know that it was not lawful for kings to exercise the
priesthood. On this account, Uzziah, that is, for the sole crime of
intermeddling with an office that did not belong to him, so provoked God
that he was smitten with leprosy. (2 Chron. 26: 18.) It is therefore
certain that neither David nor any one of the kings is intended here.
    If they raise this objection and says that princes are sometimes
called |kohanim|, priests, I indeed allow it, but I deny that the word
can be so understood here. For the comparison here made leaves nothing
doubtful: Melchisedec was God's priest; and the Psalmist testifies that
that king whom God has set on his right hand would be a |kohen| according
to the order of Melchisedec. Who does not see that this is to be
understood of the priesthood? For as it was a rare and almost a singular
thing for the same person to be a priest and a king, at least an unusual
thing among God's people, hence he sets forth Melchisedec as the type of
the Messiah, as though he had said, "The royal dignity will not prevent
him to exercise the priesthood also, for a type of such a thing has been
already presented in Melchisedec." And indeed all among the Jews,
possessed of any modesty, have conceded that the Messiah is the person
here spoken of, and that his priesthood is what is commended.
    What is in Greek, |kata taxin|, "according to the order", is in
Hebrew, |ol dvarti|, and means the same, and may be rendered, "according
to the way" or manner: and hereby is confirmed what I have already said,
that as it was an unusual thing among the people of God for the same
person to bear the office of a king and of a priest, an ancient example
was brought forward, by which the Messiah was represented. The rest the
Apostle himself will more minutely set forth in what follows.

=====> 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers
and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to
save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he
suffered;
5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey him;
5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing
ye are dull of hearing.

=====> 5:7. "Who in the days", &c. As the form and beauty of Christ is
especially disfigured by the cross, while men do not consider the end for
which he humbled himself, the Apostle again teaches us what he had before
briefly referred to, that his wonderful goodness shines forth especially
in this respect, that he for our good subjected himself to our
infirmities. It hence appears that our faith is thus confirmed, and that
his honour is not diminished for having borne our evils.
    He points out two causes why it behoved Christ to suffer, the
proximate and the ultimate. The proximate was, that he might learn
obedience; and the ultimate, that he might be thus consecrated a priest
for our salutation.
    "The days of his flesh" no doubt mean his life in this world. It
hence follows, that the word "flesh" does not signify what is material,
but a condition, according to what is said in 1 Cor. 15: 50, "Flesh and
blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Rave then do those fanatical
men who dream that Christ is now divested of his flesh, because it is
here intimated that he has outlived the days of his flesh for it is one
thing to be a real man, though endued with a blessed immortality; it is
another thing to be liable to those human sorrows and infirmities, which
Christ sustained as long as he was in this world, but has now laid aside,
having been received into heaven.
    Let us now look into the subject. Christ who was a Son, who sought
relief from the Father and was heard, yet suffered death, that thus he
might be taught to obey. There is in every word a singular importance. By
"days of the flesh" he intimates that the time of our miseries is
limited, which brings no small alleviation. And doubtless hard were our
condition, and by no means tolerable, if no end of suffering were set
before us. The three things which follow bring us also no small
consolations; Christ was a Son, whom his own dignity exempted from the
common lot of men, and yet he subjected himself to that lot for our
sakes: who now of us mortals can dare refuse the same condition? Another
argument may be added, - though we may be pressed down by adversity, yet
we are not excluded from the number of God's children, since we see him
going before us who was by nature his only Son; for that we are counted
his children is owing only to the gift of adoption by which he admits us
into a union with him, who alone lays claim to this honour in his own
right.
    "When he had offered up prayers", &c. The second thing he mentions
respecting Christ is, that he, as it became him, sought a remedy that he
might be delivered from evils; and he said this that no one might think
that Christ had an iron heart which felt nothing; for we ought always to
consider why a thing is said. Had Christ been touched by no sorrow, no
consolation could arise to us from his sufferings; but when we hear that
he also endured the bitterest agonies of mind, the likeness becomes then
evident to us. Christ, he says, did not undergo death and other evils
because he disregarded them or was pressed down by no feeling of
distress, but he prayed with tears, by which he testified the extreme
anguish of his soul. Then by "tears" and "strong crying" the Apostle
meant to express the intensity of his grief, for it is usual to show it
by outward symptoms; nor do I doubt but that he refers to that prayer
which the Evangelists mention, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup
pass from me," (Matt. 26: 42; Luke 22: 42;) and also to another, "My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27: 46.) For in the second
instance mention is made by the evangelists of strong crying; and in the
first it is not possible to believe that his eyes were dry, since drops
of blood, through excessive grief, flowed from his body. It is indeed
certain that he was reduced to great straits; and being overwhelmed with
real sorrows, he earnestly prayed his Father to bring him help.
    And what application is to be made of this?  Even this, that whenever
our evils press upon us and overwhelm us, we may call to mind the Son of
God who laboured under the same; and since he has gone before us there is
no reason for us to faint. We are at the same time reminded that
deliverance from evils can be found from no other but from God alone, and
what better guidance can we have as to prayer than the example of Christ?
He betook himself immediately to the Father. And thus the Apostle
indicates what ought to be done by us when he says that he offered
prayers to him who was able to deliver him from death; for by these words
he intimates that he rightly prayed, because he fled to God the only
Deliverer. His "tears" and "crying" recommend to us ardour and
earnestness in prayer, for we ought not to pray to God formally, but with
ardent desires.
    "And was heard", &c. Some render the following words, "on account of
his reverence" or fears but I wholly differ from them. In the first place
he puts the word alone |eulatheias|, without the possessive "his"; and
then there is the preposition |apo|, "from," not |huper|, "on account
of," or any other signifying a cause or a reason. As, then, |eulatheia|
means for the most part fear or anxiety, I doubt not but that the Apostle
means that Christ was heard from that which he feared, so that he was not
overwhelmed by his evils or swallowed up by death. For in this contest
the Son of God had to engage, not because he was tried by unbelief, the
source of all our fears, but because he sustained as a man in our flesh
the judgment of God, the terror of which could not have been overcome
without an arduous effort. Chrysostom interprets it of Christ's dignity,
which the Father in a manner reverenced; but this cannot be admitted.
Others render it "piety." But the explanation I have given is much more
suitable, and requires no long arguments in its favour.
    Now he added this third particular, lest we should think that
Christ's prayers were rejected, because he was not immediately delivered
from his evils; for at no time was God's mercy and aid wanting to him.
And hence we may conclude that God often hears our prayers, even when
that is in no way made evident. For though it belongs not to us to
prescribe to him as it were a fixed rule, nor does it become him to grant
whatsoever requests we may conceive in our minds or express with our
tongues, yet he shows that he grants our players in everything necessary
for our salvation. So when we seem apparently to be repulsed, we obtain
far more than if he fully granted our requests.
    But how was Christ heard from what he feared, as he underwent the
death which he dreaded? To this I reply, that we must consider what it
was that he feared; why was it that he dreaded death except that he saw
in it the curse of God, and that he had to wrestle with the guilt of all
iniquities, and also with hell itself? Hence was his trepidation and
anxiety; for extremely terrible is God's judgment. He then obtained what
he prayed for, when he came forth a conqueror from the pains of death,
when he was sustained by the saving hand of the Father, when after a
short conflict he gained a glorious victory over Satan, sin, and hell.
Thus it often happens that we ask this or that, but not for a right end;
yet God, not granting what we ask, at the same time finds out himself a
way to succour us.
=====> 5:8. "Yet learned he obedience", &c. The proximate end of Christ's
sufferings was thus to habituate himself to obedience; not that he was
driven to this by force, or that he had need of being thus exercised, as
the case is with oxen or horses when their ferocity is to be tamed, for
he was abundantly willing to render to his Father the obedience which he
owed. But this was done from a regard to our benefit, that he might
exhibit to us an instance and an example of subjection even to death
itself. It may at the same time be truly said that Christ by his death
learned fully what it was to obey God, since he was then led in a special
manner to deny himself; for renouncing his own will, he so far gave
himself up to his Father that of his own accord and willingly he
underwent that death which he greatly dreaded. The meaning then is that
Christ was by his sufferings taught how far God ought to be submitted to
and obeyed.
    It is then but right that we also should by his example be taught and
prepared by various sorrows, and at length by death itself, to render
obedience to God; nay, much more necessary is this in our case, for we
have a disposition contumacious and ungovernable until the Lord subdues
us by such exercises to bear his yoke. This benefit, which arises from
the cross, ought to allay its bitterness in our hearts; for what can be
more desirable than to be made obedient to God? But this cannot be
effected but by the cross, for in prosperity we exult as with loose
reins; nay, in most cases, when the yoke is shaken off, the wantonness of
the flesh breaks forth into excesses. But when restraint is put on our
will, when we seek to please God, in this act only does our obedience
show itself; nay, it is an illustrious proof of perfect obedience when we
choose the death to which God may call us, though we dread it, rather
than the life which we naturally desire.
=====> 5:9. "And being made perfect, or sanctified", &c. Here is the
ultimate or the remoter end, as they call it, why it was necessary for
Christ to suffer: it was that he might thus become initiated into his
priesthood, as though the Apostle had said that the enduring of the cross
and death were to Christ a solemn kind of consecration, by which he
intimates that all his sufferings had a regard to our salvation. It hence
follows, that they are so far from being prejudicial to his dignity that
they are on the contrary his glory; for if salvation be highly esteemed
by us, how honorably ought we to think of its cause or author? For he
speaks not here of Christ only as an example, but he ascends higher, even
that he by his obedience has blotted out our transgressions. He became
then the cause of salvation, because he obtained righteousness for us
before God, having removed the disobedience of Adam by an act of an
opposite kind, even obedience.
    "Sanctified" suits the passage better than "made perfect." The Greek
word |teleiootheis| means both; but as he speaks here of the priesthood,
he fitly and suitably mentions sanctification. And so Christ himself
speaks in another place, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." (John 17:
19.) It hence appears that this is to be properly applied to his human
nature, in which he performed the office of a priest, and in which he
also suffered.
    "To all them that obey him". If then we desire that Christ's
obedience should be profitable to us, we must imitate him; for the
Apostle means that its benefit shall come to none but to those who obey.
But by saying this he recommends faith to us; for he becomes not ours,
nor his blessings, except as far as we receive them and him by faith. He
seems at the same time to have adopted a universal term, "all", for this
end, that he might show that no one is precluded from salvation who is
but teachable and becomes obedient to the Gospel of Christ.
=====> 5:10. "Called of God", or named by God, &c. As it was necessary
that he should pursue more at large the comparison between Christ and
Melchisedec, on which he had briefly touched, and that the mind of the
Jews should be stirred up to greater attention, he so passes to a
digression that he still retails his argument.
=====> 5:11. He therefore makes a preface by saying that he had "many
things" to say, but that they were to prepare themselves lest these
things should be said in vain. He reminds then that they were "hard" or
difficult things; not indeed to repel them, but to stimulate them to
greater attention. For as things that are easily understood render us
slothful, so we become more keenly bent on hearing when anything obscure
is set before us. He however states that the cause of the difficulty was
not in the subject but in themselves. And indeed the Lord speaks to us so
clearly and without any obscurity, that his word is rightly called our
light; but its brightness become dim through our darkness. This happens
partly through our dullness and partly through our sloth; for though we
are very dull to understand the truth of God, yet there is to be added to
this vice the depravity of our affections, for we apply our minds to
vanity rather than to God's truth. We are also continually impeded either
by our perverseness, or by the cares of the world, or by the lusts of our
flesh. "Of whom" does not refer to Christ, but to Melchisedec; yet he is
not referred to as a private man, but as the type of Christ, and in a
manner personating him.

=====> 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need
that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles
of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
5:13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of
righteousness: for he is a babe.
5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those
who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and
evil.

=====> 5:12. "For when for the time ye ought," &c. This reproof contains
in it very sharp goads to rouse the Jews from their sloth. He says that
it was unreasonable and disgraceful that they should still continue in
the elements, in the first rudiments of knowledge, while they ought to
have been teachers. "You ought," he says, "to have been the instructors
of others, but ye are not even disciples capable of comprehending an
ordinary truth; for ye do not as yet understand the first rudiments of
Christianity." That he might, however, make them the more ashamed of
themselves, he mentions the "first principles," or the elements of the
beginning of God's words, as though he had said, You do not know the
alphabet. We must, indeed, learn throng life; for he alone is truly wise
who owns that he is very far from perfect knowledge; but we ought still
to profit so much by learning as not to continue always in the first
principles. Nor are we to act in such a way, that what is said by Isaiah
should be verified in us, "There shall be to you a precept on precept, a
precept on precept," &c. (Isaiah 28: 10;) but we ought, on the contrary,
so to exert ourselves, that our progress may correspond to "the time"
allowed us.
    Doubtless, not only years, but days also, must be accounted for; so
that every one ought to strive to make progress; but few there are who
summon themselves to an account as to past time, or who show any concern
for the future. We are, therefore, justly punished for our sloth, for
most of us remain in elements fitted for children. We are further
reminded, that it is the duty of every one to impart the knowledge he has
to his brethren; so that no one is to retain what he knows to himself,
but to communicate it to the edification of others.
    "Such as have need of milk". Paul uses the same metaphor in 1 Cor. 3:
1; and he reproaches the Corinthians with the same fault with what is
mentioned here, at least with one that is very similar; for he says, that
they were carnal and could not bear solid food. Milk then means an
elementary doctrine suitable to the ignorant. Peter takes the word in
another sense, when he bids us to desire the milk that is without deceit,
(1 Peter 2: 2;) for there is a twofold childhood, that is, as to
wickedness, and as to understanding; and so Paul tells us, "Be not
children in understanding, but in wickedness." (1 Cor. 14: 20.) They then
who are so tender that they cannot receive the higher doctrine, are by
way of reproach called children.
    For the right application of doctrines is to join us together, so
that we may grow to a perfect manhood, to the measure of full age, and
that we should not be like children, tossed here and there, and carried
about by every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4: 14.) We must indeed show some
indulgence to those who have not yet known much of Christ, if they are
not capable as yet of receiving "solid food", but he who has had time to
grow, if he till continues a child, is not entitled to any excuse. We
indeed see that Isaiah brands the reprobate with this mark, that they
were like children newly weaned from the breasts. (Isa. 28: 9.) The
doctrine of Christ does indeed minister milk to babes as well as strong
meat to adults; but as the babe is nourished by the milk of its nurse,
not that it may ever depend on the breast, but that it may by degrees
grow and take stronger food; so also at first we must suck milk from
Scripture, so that we may afterwards feed on its bread. The Apostle yet
so distinguishes between milk and strong food, that he still understands
sound doctrine by both, but the ignorant begin with the one, and they who
are well-taught are strengthened by the other.
=====> 5:13. "For every one who uses milk", or, who partakes of milk, &c.
He means those who from tenderness or weakness as yet refuse solid
doctrine; for otherwise he who is grown up is not averse to milk. But he
reproves here an infancy in understanding, such as constrains God even to
prattle with us. He then says, that babes are not fit to receive the
"word of righteousness", understanding by righteousness the perfection of
which he will presently speak. For the Apostle does not here, as I think,
refer to the question, how we are justified before God, but takes the
word in a simpler sense, as denoting that completeness of knowledge which
leads to perfection, which office Paul ascribes to the Gospel in his
epistle to the Colossians, 1: 28; as though he had said, that those who
indulge themselves in their ignorance preclude themselves from a real
knowledge of Christ, and that the doctrine of the Gospel is unfruitful in
them, because they never reach the goal, nor come even near it.
=====> 5:14. "Of full age", or perfect, &c. He calls those perfect who
are adults; he mentions them in opposition to babes, as it is done in 1
Cor. 2: 6; 14: 20; Eph. 4: 13. For the middle and manly age is the full
age of human life; but he calls those by a figure men in Christy who are
spiritual. And such he would have all Christians to be, such as have
attained by continual practice a habit to "discern between good and
evil". For he cannot have been otherwise taught aright in the truth,
except we are fortified by his protection against all the falsehoods and
delusions of Satan; for on this account it is called the sword of the
Spirit. And Paul points out this benefit conferred by sound doctrine when
he says, "That we may not be carried about by every wind of doctrine."
(Eph. 4: 14.) And truly what sort of faith is that which doubts, being
suspended between truth and falsehood? Is it not in danger of coming to
nothing every moment?
    But not satisfied to mention in one word the mind, he mentions all
the "senses", in order to show that we are ever to strive until we be in
every way furnished by God's word, and be so armed for battle, that Satan
may by no means steal upon us with his fallacies.
    It hence appears what sort of Christianity there is under the Papacy,
where not only the grossest ignorance is commended under the name of
simplicity, but where the people are also most rigidly prevented from
seeking real knowledge; nay, it is easy to judge by what spirit they are
influenced, who hardly allow that to be touched which the Apostle
commands us to handle continually, who imagine that a laudable neglect
which the Apostle here so severely reproves, who take away the word of
God, the only rule of discerning rightly, which discerning he declares to
be necessary for all Christians! But among those who are freed from this
diabolical prohibition and enjoy the liberty of learning, there is yet
often no less indifference both as to hearing and reading. When thus we
exercise not our powers, we are stupidly ignorant and void of all
discernment.


Chapter 6

=====> 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,
let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of
repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of
resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

=====> 6:1. "Therefore, leaving", &c. To his reproof he joins this
exhortation, - that leaving first principles they were to proceed forward
to the goal. For by "the word of beginning" he understands the first
rudiments, taught to the ignorant when received into the Church. Now, he
bids them to leave these rudiments, not that the faithful are ever to
forget them, but that they are not to remain in them; and this idea
appears more clear from what follows, the comparison of a "foundation";
for in building a house we must never leave the foundation; and yet to be
always engaged in laying it, would be ridiculous. For as the foundation
is laid for the sake of what is built on it, he who is occupied in laying
it and proceeds not to the superstruction, wearies himself with foolish
and useless labour. In short, as the builder must begin with the
foundation, so must he go on with his work that the house may be built.
Similar is the case as to Christianity; we have the first principles as
the foundation, but the higher doctrine ought immediately to follow which
is to complete the building. They then act most unreasonably who remain
in the first elements, for they propose to themselves no end, as though a
builder spent all his labour on the foundation, and neglected to build up
the house. So then he would have our faith to be at first so founded as
afterwards to rise upwards, until by daily progress it be at length
completed.
    "Of repentance from dead works", &c. He here refers to a catechism
commonly used. It is hence a probable conjecture that this Epistle was
written, not immediately after the promulgation of the Gospel, but when
they had some kind of polity established in the Churches; such as this,
that the catechumen made a confession of his faith before he was admitted
to baptism. And there were certain primary points on which the pastor
questioned the catechumen, as it appears from the various testimonies of
the fathers; there was an examination had especially on the creed called
the Apostles' Creed. This was the first entrance, as it were, into the
church to those who were adults and enlisted under Christ, as they were
before alienated from faith in him. This custom the Apostle mentions,
because there was a short time fixed for catechumens, during which they
were taught the doctrine of religion, as a master instructs his children
in the alphabet, in order that he may afterwards advance them to higher
things.
    But let us examine what he says. He mentions "repentance" and
"faith", which include the fulness of the Gospel; for what else does
Christ command his Apostles to preach, but repentance and faith? When,
therefore, Paul wished to show that he had faithfully performed his duty,
he alleged his care and assiduity in teaching these two things. It seems
then (as it may be said) unreasonable that the Apostle should bid
repentance and faith to be omitted, when we ought to make progress in
both through the whole course of our life. But when he adds, "from dead
works", he intimates that he speaks of first repentance; for though every
sin is a dead work, either as it leads to death, or as it proceeds from
the spiritual death of the soul; yet the faithful, already born again of
the Spirit of God, cannot be said properly to repent from dead works.
Regeneration is not indeed made perfect in them; but because of the seed
of new life which is in them, however small it may be, this at least may
be said of them that they cannot be deemed dead before God. The Apostle
then does not include in general the whole of repentance, the practice of
which ought to continue to the end; but he refers only to the beginning
of repentance, when they who were lately and for the first time
consecrated to the faith, commenced a new life. So also the word,
"faith", means that brief summary of godly doctrine, commonly called the
Articles of Faith.
    To these are added, "the resurrection of the dead and eternal
judgment". These are some of the highest mysteries of celestial wisdom;
nay, the very end of all religion, which we ought to bear in mind through
the whole course of our life. But as the very same truth is taught in one
way to the ignorant, and in another way to those who have made some
proficiency, the Apostle seems here to refer to the common mode of
questioning, "Dost thou believe the resurrection of the dead? Dost thou
believe eternal life?" These things were suitable to children, and that
only once; therefore to turn back to them again was nothing else but to
retrograde.
=====> 6:2. "Of the doctrine of baptisms", &c. Some read them separately,
"of baptisms and of doctrine;" but I prefer to connect them, though I
explain them differently from others; for I regard the words as being in
apposition, as grammarians say, according to this form, "Not laying again
the foundation of repentance, of faith in God, of the resurrection of the
dead, which is the doctrine of baptisms and of the laying on of hands."
If therefore these two clauses, the doctrine of baptisms and of the
laying on of hands, be included in a parenthesis, the passage would run
better; for except you read them as in apposition, there would be the
absurdity of a repetition. For what is the doctrine of baptism but what
he mentions here, faith in God, repentance, judgment, and the like?
    Chrysostom thinks that he uses "baptisms" in the plural number,
because they who returned to first principles, in a measure abrogated
their first baptism: but I cannot agree with him, for the doctrine had no
reference to many baptisms, but by baptisms are meant the solemn rites,
or the stated days of baptizing.
    With baptism he connects the "laying on of hands"; for as there were
two sorts of catechumens, so there were two rites. There were heathens
who came not to baptism until they made a profession of their faith. Then
as to these, these, the catechizing was wont to precede baptism. But the
children of the faithful, as they were adopted from the womb, and
belonged to the body of the Church by right of the promise, were baptized
in infancy; but after the time of infancy, they having been instructed in
the faith, presented themselves as catechumens, which as to them took
place after baptism; but another symbol was then added, the laying on of
hands.
    This one passage abundantly testifies that this rite had its
beginning from the Apostles, which afterwards, however, was turned into
superstition, as the world almost always degenerates into corruptions,
even with regard to the best institutions. They have indeed contrived the
fiction, that it is a sacrament by which the spirit of regeneration is
conferred, a dogma by which they have mutilated baptism for what was
peculiar to it, they transferred to the imposition of hands. Let us then
know, that it was instituted by its first founders that it might be an
appointed rite for prayer, as Augustine calls it. The profession of faith
which youth made, after having passed the time of childhood, they indeed
intended to confine by this symbol, but they thought of nothing less than
to destroy the efficacy of baptism. Wherefore the pure institution at
this day ought to be retained, but the superstition ought to be removed.
And this passage tends to confirm pedobaptism; for why should the same
doctrine be called as to some baptism, but as to others the imposition of
hands, except that the latter after having received baptism were taught
in the faith, so that nothing remained for them but the laying on of
hands?

=====> 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.
6:4 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come,
6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing
they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an
open shame.

=====> 6:3. "This will we do", &c. A dreadful denunciation follows; but
the Apostle thus fulminated, lest the Jews should indulge their own
supineness, and trifle with the favour of God; as though he had said,
"There ought not in this case it to be any delay; for there will not
always be the opportunity for making progress; it is not in man's power
to bound at once, whenever he pleases, from the starting point to the
goal; but progress in our course is the special gift of God."
=====> 6:4. "For it is impossible", &c. This passage has given occasion
to many to repudiate this Epistle, especially as the Novatians armed
themselves with it to deny pardon to the fallen. Hence those of the
Western Church, in particular, refused the authority of this Epistle,
because the sect of Novatus annoyed them; and they were not sufficiently
conversant in the truth so as to be equal to refute it by argument. But
when the design of the Apostle is understood, it then appears evident
that there is nothing here which countenances so delirious an error. Some
who hold sacred the authority of the Epistle, while they attempt to
dissipate this absurdity, yet do nothing but evade it. For some take
"impossible" in the sense of rare or difficult, which is wholly different
from its meaning. Many confine it to that repentance by which the
catechumens in the ancient Church were wont to be prepared for baptism,
as though indeed the Apostles prescribed fasting, or such things to the
baptized. And then what great thing would the Apostle have said, by
denying that repentance, the appendage of baptism, could be repeated? He
threatens with the severest vengeance of God all those who would cast
away the grace which had been once received; what weight would the
sentence have had to shake the secure and the wavering with terror, if he
only reminded them that there was no longer room for their first
repentance? For this would extend to every kind of offense. What then is
to be said? Since the Lord gives the hope of mercy to all without
exception, it is wholly unreasonable that any one for any cause whatever
should be precluded.
    The knot of the question is in the word, "fall away". Whosoever then
understands its meaning, can easily extricate himself from every
difficulty. But it must be noticed, that there is a twofold falling away,
one particular, and the other general. He who has in anything, or in any
ways offended, has fallen away from his state as a Christian; therefore
all sins are so many fallings. But the Apostle speaks not here of theft,
or perjury, or murder, or drunkenness, or adultery; but he refers to a
total defection or falling away from the Gospel, when a sinner offends
not God in some one thing, but entirely renounces his grace.
    And that this may be better understood, let us suppose a contrast
between the gifts of God, which he has mentioned, and this falling away.
For he falls away who forsakes the word of God, who extinguishes its
light, who deprives himself of the taste of the heavens or gift, who
relinquishes the participation of the Spirit. Now this is wholly to
renounce God. We now see whom he excluded from the hope of pardon, even
the apostates who alienated themselves from the Gospel of Christ, which
they had previously embraced, and from the grace of God; and this happens
to no one but to him who sins against the Holy Spirit. For he who
violates the second table of the Law, or transgresses the first through
ignorance, is not guilty of this defection; nor does God surely deprive
any of his grace in such a way as to leave them none remaining except the
reprobate.
    If any one asks why the Apostle makes mention here of such apostasy
while he is addressing believers, who were far off from a perfidy so
heinous; to this I answer, that the danger was pointed out by him in
time, that they might be on their guard. And this ought to be observed;
for when we turn aside from the right way, we not only excuse to others
our vices, but we also impose on ourselves. Satan stealthily creeps on
us, and by degrees allures us by clandestine arts, so that when we go
astray we know not that we are going astray. Thus gradually we slide,
until at length we rush headlong into ruin. We may observe this daily in
many. Therefore the Apostle does not without reason forewarn all the
disciples of Christ to beware in time; for a continued torpor commonly
ends in lethargy, which is followed by alienation of mind.
    But we must notice in passing the names by which he signalizes the
knowledge of the Gospel. He calls it "illumination"; it hence follows
that men are blind, until Christ, the light of the world, enlightens
them. He calls it a "tasting of the heavenly gift"; intimating that the
things which Christ confers on us are above nature and the world, and
that they are yet tasted by faith. He calls it the "participation" of the
Spirit; for he it is who distributes to every one, as he wills, all the
light and knowledge which he can have; for without him no one can say
that Jesus is the Lord, (I Cor. 12: 3;) he opens for us the eyes of our
minds, and reveals to us the secret things of God. He calls it a "tasting
of the good word of God"; by which he means, that the will of God is
therein revealed, not in any sort of way, but in such a way as sweetly to
delight us; in short, by this title is pointed out the difference between
the Law and the Gospel; for that has nothing but severity and
condemnation, but this is a sweet testimony of God's love and fatherly
kindness towards us. And lastly, he calls it a "tasting of the powers of
the world to come"; by which he intimates, that we are admitted by faith
as it were into the kingdom of heaven, so that we see in spirit that
blessed immortality which is hid from our senses.
    Let us then know, that the Gospel cannot be otherwise rightly known
than by the illumination of the Spirit, and that being thus drawn away
from the world, we are raised up to heaven, and that knowing the goodness
of God we rely on his word.
    But here arises a new question, how can it be that he who has once
made such a progress should afterwards fall away? For God, it may be
said, calls none effectually but the elect, and Paul testifies that they
are really his sons who are led by his Spirit, (Rom. 8: 14;) and he
teaches us, that it is a sure pledge of adoption when Christ makes us
partakers of his Spirit. The elect are also beyond the danger of finally
falling away; for the Father who gave them to be preserved by Christ his
Son is greater than all, and Christ promises to watch over them all so
that none may perish. To all this I answer, That God indeed favours none
but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this
they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his
image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future
inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts.
But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant
the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate
their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them
some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on
their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by
Mark 4: 17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate,
which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots
sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up.
    And by this bridle the Lord keeps us in fear and humility; and we
certainly see how prone human nature is otherwise to security and foolish
confidence. At the same time our solicitude ought to be such as not to
disturb the peace of conscience. For the Lord strengthens faith in us,
while he subdues our flesh: and hence he would have faith to remain and
rest tranquilly as in a safe haven; but he exercises the flesh with
various conflicts, that it may not grow wanton through idleness.
=====> 6:6. "To renew them again into repentance", &c. Though this seems
hard, yet there is no reason to charge Gad with cruelty when any one
suffers only the punishment of his own defection; nor is this
inconsistent with other parts of Scripture, where God's mercy is offered
to sinners as soon as they sigh for it, (Ezek. 18: 27;) for repentance is
required, which he never truly feels who has once wholly fallen away from
the Gospel; for such are deprived, as they deserve, of God's Spirit and
given up to a reprobate mind, so that being the slaves of the devil they
rush headlong into destruction. Thus it happens that they cease not to
add sin to sin, until being wholly hardened they despise God, or like men
in despair, express madly their hatred to him. The end of all apostates
is, that they are either smitten with stupor, and fear nothing, or curse
God their judge, because they cannot escape from him.
    In short, the Apostle warns us, that repentance is not at the will of
man, but that it is given by God to those only who have not wholly fallen
away from the faith. It is a warning very necessary to us, lest by often
delaying until tomorrow, we should alienate ourselves more and more from
God. The ungodly indeed deceive themselves by such sayings as this, -
that it will be sufficient for them to repent of their wicked life at
their last breath. But when they come to die, the dire torments of
conscience which they suffer, prove to them that the conversion of man is
not an ordinary work. As then the Lord promises pardon to none but to
those who repent of their iniquity, it is no wonder that they perish who
either through despair or contempt, rush on in their obstinacy into
destruction. But when any one rises up again after falling, we may hence
conclude that he had not been guilty of defection, however grievously he
may have sinned.
    "Crucifying again", &c. He also adds this to defend God's severity
against the calumnies of men; for it would be wholly unbecoming, that God
by pardoning apostates should expose his own Son to contempt. They are
then wholly unworthy to obtain mercy. But the reason why he says, that
Christ would thus be crucified again, is, because we die with him for the
very purpose of living afterwards a new life; when therefore any return
as it were unto death, they have need of another sacrifice, as we shall
find in the tenth chapter. Crucifying "for themselves" means as far as in
them lies. For this would be the case, and Christ would be slandered as
it were triumphantly, were it allowed men to return to him after having
fallen away and forsaken him.

=====> 6:7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon
it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed,
receiveth blessing from God:
6:8 But that which beareth thorns and briers [is] rejected, and [is] nigh
unto cursing; whose end [is] to be burned.
6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that
accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
6:10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love,
which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the
saints, and do minister.

=====> 6:7. "For the earth", &c. This is a similitude most appropriate to
excite a desire to make progress in due time, for as the earth cannot
bring forth a good crop in harvest except it causes the seed as soon as
it is sown to germinate, so if we desire to bring forth good fruit, as
soon as the Lord sows his word, it ought to strike roots in us without
delay; for it cannot be expected to fructify, if it be either choked or
perish. But as the similitude is very suitable, so it must be wisely
applied to the design of the Apostle.
    The earth, he says, which by sucking in the rain immediately produces
a blade suitable to the seed sown, at length by God's blessing produces a
ripe crop; so they who receive the seed of the Gospel into their hearts
and bring forth genuine shoots, will always make progress until they
produce ripe fruit. On the contrary, the earth, which after culture and
irrigation brings, forth nothing but thorns, affords no hope of a
harvest; nay, the more that grows which is its natural produce, the more
hopeless is the case. Hence the only remedy the husband man has is to
burn up the noxious and useless weeds. So they who destroy the seed of
the Gospel either by their indifference or by corrupt affections, so as
to manifest no sign of good progress in their life, clearly show
themselves to be reprobates, from whom no harvest can be expected.
    The Apostle then not only speaks here of the fruit of the Gospel, but
also exhorts us promptly and gladly to embrace it, and he further tells
us, that the blade appears presently after the seed is sown, and that
growing follows the daily irrigations. Some render |thotaven eutheton|,
"a seasonable shoot," others, "a shoot meet;" either meaning suits the
place; the first refers to time, the second to quality. The allegorical
meanings with which interpreters have here amused themselves, I pass by,
as they are quite foreign to the object of the writer.
=====> 6:9. "But we are persuaded", &c. As the preceding sentences were
like thunderbolts, by which readers might have been struck dead, it was
needful to mitigate this severity. He therefore says now, that he did not
speak in this strain, as though he entertained such an opinion of them.
And doubtless whosoever wishes to do good by teaching, ought so to treat
his disciples as ever to add encouragement to them rather than to
diminish it, for there is nothing that can alienate us more from
attending to the truth than to see that we are deemed to be past hope.
The Apostle then testifies that he thus warned the Jews, because he had a
good hope of them, and was anxious to lead them to salvation. We hence
conclude, that not only the reprobate ought to be reproved severely and
with sharp earnestness, but also the elect themselves, even those whom we
deem to be the children of God.
=====> 6:10. "For God is not unrighteous", &c. These words signify as
much as though he had said, that from good beginnings he hoped for a good
end.
    But here a difficulty arises, because he seems to say that God is
bound by the services of men: "I am persuaded," he says, "as to your
salvation, because God cannot forget your works." He seems thus to build
salvation on works, and to make God a debtor to them. And the sophists,
who oppose the merits of works to the grace of God, make much of this
sentence, "God is not unrighteous." For they hence conclude that it would
be unjust for him not to render for works the reward of eternal
salvation. To this I briefly reply that the Apostle does not here speak
avowedly of the cause of our salvation, and that therefore no opinion can
be formed from this passage as to the merits of works, nor can it be
hence determined what is due to works. The Scripture shows everywhere
that there is no other fountain of salvation but the gratuitous mercy of
God: and that God everywhere promises reward to works, this depends on
that gratuitous promise, by which he adopts us as his children, and
reconciles us to himself by not imputing our sins. Reward then is
reserved for works, not through merit, but the free bounty of God alone;
and yet even this free reward of works does not take place, except we be
first received into favour through the kind mediation of Christ.
    We hence conclude, that God does not pay us a debt, but performs what
he has of himself freely promised, and thus performs it, inasmuch as he
pardons us and our works; nay, he looks not so much on our works as on
his own grace in our works. It is on this account that he forgets not our
works, because he recognizes himself and the work of his Spirit in them.
And this is to be "righteous", as the Apostle says, for he cannot deny
himself. This passage, then, corresponds with that saying of Paul, "He
who has begun in you a good work will perfect it." (Phil. 1: 6.) For what
can God find in us to induce him to love us, except what he has first
conferred on us? In short, the sophists are mistaken in imagining a
mutual relation between God's righteousness and the merits of our works,
since God on the contrary so regards himself and his own gifts, that he
carries on to the end what of his own goodwill he has begun in us,
without any inducement from anything we do; nay, God is righteous in
recompensing socks, because he is true and faithful: and he has made
himself a debtor to us, not by receiving anything from us; but as
Augustine says, by freely promising all things.
    "And labour of love", &c. By this he intimates that we are not to
spare labour, if we desire to perform duty towards our neighbours; for
they are not only to be helped by money, but also by counsel, by labour,
and in various other ways. Great sedulity, then, must be exercised, many
troubles must be undergone, and sometimes many dangers must be
encountered. Thus let him who would engage in the duties of love, prepare
himself for a life of labour.
    He mentions in proof of their love, that they had "ministered"and
were still "ministering" to the "saints". We are hence reminded, that we
are not to neglect to serve our brethren. By mentioning the saints, he
means not that we are debtors to them alone; for our love ought to expand
and be manifested towards all mankind; but as the household of faith are
especially recommended to us, peculiar attention is to be paid to them;
for as love, when moved to do good, has partly a regard to God, and
partly to our common nature, the nearer any one is to God, the more
worthy he is of being assisted by us. In short, when we acknowledge any
one as a child of God, we ought to embrace him with brotherly love.
    By saying that they "had ministered" and were "still ministering", he
commended their perseverance; which in this particular was very
necessary; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to
weariness in well-doing. Hence it is, that though many are found ready
enough to help their brethren, yet the virtue of constancy is so rare,
that a large portion soon relax as though their warmth had cooled. But
what ought constantly to stimulate us is even this one expression used by
the apostle, that the love shown to the saints is shown "towards the
name" of the Lord; for he intimates that God holda himself indebted to us
for whatever good we do to our neighbours, according to that saying,
"What ye have done to one of the least of these, ye have done to me,"
(Matt. 15: 40;) and there is also another, "He that giveth to the poor
lendeth to the Lord." (Prov. 19: 17.)

=====> 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same
diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and
patience inherit the promises.
6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no
greater, he sware by himself,
6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will
multiply thee.
6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

=====> 6:11. "And we desire", &c. As he blended with exhortation, lest he
should altogether grieve their minds; so he now freely reminds them of
what was still wanting in them, lest his courtesy should appear to have
in it any flattery. "You have made," he says, "your love evident by many
acts of kindness; it remains, however, that your faith should correspond
with it; you have sedulously laboured not to be wanting in your duties to
men; but with no less earnestness it behoves you to make progress in
faith, so as to manifest before God its unwavering and full certainty." 
    Now, by these words the Apostle shows that there are two parts in
Christianity which correspond with the two tables of the Law. Therefore,
he who separates the one from the other, has nothing but what is
mutilated and mangled. And hence it appears what sort of teachers they
are who make no mention of faith, and enjoin only the duty of honesty and
uprightness towards men; nay, it is a profane philosophy, that dwells
only on the outward mask of righteousness, if indeed it deserves to be
called philosophy; for it so unreasonably performs its own duties, that
it robs God, to whom the preeminence belongs, of his own rights. Let us
then remember, that the life of a Christian is not complete in all its
parts, unless we attend to faith as well as to love.
    "To the full assurance of hope", or, to the certainty of hope, &c. As
they who professed the Christian faith were distracted by various
opinions, or were as yet entangled in many superstitions, he bids them to
be so fixed in firm faith, as no longer to vacillate nor be driven here
and there, suspended between alternate winds of doubts. This injunction
is, however, applicable to all; for, as the truth of God is unchangeably
fixed, so faith, which relies on him, then it is true, ought to be
certain, surmounting every doubt. It is a full assurance, |pleroforia|,
an undoubting persuasion, when the godly mind settles it with itself,
that it is not right to call in question what God, who cannot deceive or
lie, has spoken.
    The word hope, is here to be taken for faith, because of its affinity
to it. The Apostle, however, seems to have designedly used it, because he
was speaking of perseverance. And we may hence conclude how far short of
faith is that general knowledge which the ungodly and the devils have in
common; for they also believe that God is just and true, yet they derive
hence no good hope, for they do not lay hold on his paternal favour in
Christ. Let us then know that true faith is ever connected with hope.
    He said "to the end", or perfection; and he said this, that they
might know that they had not yet reached the goal, and were therefore to
think of further progress. He mentioned diligence, that they might know
that they were not to sit down idly, but to strive in earnest. For it is
not a small thing to ascend above the heavens, especially for these who
hardly creep on the ground, and when innumerable obstacles are in the
way. There is indeed, nothing more difficult than to keep our thoughts
fixed on things in heaven, when the whole power of our nature inclines
downwards, and when Satan or numberless devices draw us back to the
earth. hence it is, that he bids us to beware of sloth or effeminacy.
=====> 6:12. "But followers", or imitators, &c. To sloth he opposes
imitation; it is then the same thing as though he said, that there was
need of constant alacrity of mind; but it had far more weight, when he
reminded them, that the fathers were not made partakers of the promises
except through the unconquerable firmness of faith; for examples convey
to us a more impressive idea of things. When a naked truth is set before
us, it does not so much affect us, as when we see what is required of us
fulfilled in the person of Abraham. But Abraham's example is referred to,
not because it is the only one, but because it is more illustrious than
that of any other. For though Abraham had this faith in common with all
the godly; yet it is not without reason that he is called the father of
the faithful. It is, then, no wonder that the Apostle selected him from
all the rest, and turned towards him the eyes of his readers as to the
clearest mirror of faith.
    "Faith and patience", &c. What is meant is, a firm faith, which has
patience as its companion. For faith is what is, chiefly required; but as
many who make at first a marvellous display of faith, soon fail, he
shows, that the true evidence of that faith which is not fleeting and
evanescent, is endurance. By saying that the "promises" were obtained by
"faith", he takes away the notion of merits; and still more clearly by
saying, that they came by "inheritance"; for we are in no other way made
heirs but by the right of adoption.
=====> 6:13. "For when God made a promise to Abraham", &c. His object was
to prove, that the grace of God is offered to us in vain, except we
receive the promise by faith, and constantly cherish it in the bosom of
our heart. And he proves it by this argument, that when God promised a
countless offspring to Abraham, it seemed a thing incredible; Sarah had
been through life barren; both had reached a sterile old age, when they
were nearer the grave than to a conjugal bed; there was no vigour to
beget children, when Sarah's womb, which had been barren through the
prime of life, was now become dead. Who could believe that a nation would
proceed from them, equalling the stars in number, and like the sand of
the sea? It was, indeed, contrary to all reason. Yet Abraham looked for
this and feared no disappointment, because he relied on the Word of God.
We must, then, notice the circumstance as to time, that the Apostle's
reasoning may appear evident; and what he subjoins refers to this - that
he was made partaker of this blessing, but that it was after he had
waited for what no one could have thought would ever come to pass. In
this way ought glory to be given to God; we must quietly hope for what he
does not as yet show to our senses, but hides from us and for a long time
defers, in order that our patience may be exercised.
    Why God did "swear by himself" we shall presently see. The manner of
swearing, "Except blessing I will bless thee", we have explained what it
means in the third chapter: God's name is not here expressed, but must be
understood, for except he performs what he promises, he testifies that he
is not to he counted true and faithful.

=====> 6:16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for
confirmation [is] to them an end of all strife.
6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of
promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed [it] by an oath:
6:18 That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God
to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to
lay hold upon the hope set before us:
6:19 Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and
stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high
priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

=====> 6:16. "For men", &c. It is an argument from the less to the
greater; if credit is given to man, who is by nature false, when he
swears, and for this reason, because he confirms what he says by God's
name, how much more credit is due to God, who is eternal truth, when he
swears by himself?
    Now he mentions several things to commend this declaration; and first
he says that men "swear by the greater"; by which he means that they who
are wanting in due authority borrow it from another. He adds that there
is so much reverence in an oath that it suffices for confirmation, and
puts an end to all disputes where the testimonies of men and other proofs
are wanting. Then is not he a sufficient witness for himself whom all
appeal to as a witness? Is he not to obtain credit for what he says, who,
by his authority, removes all doubts among others? If God's name,
pronounced by man's tongue, possesses so much superiority, how much more
weight ought it to have, when God himself swears by his own name? Thus
much as to the main point.
    But here in passing, two things are to be noticed, - that we are to
swear by God's name when necessity requires, and that Christians are
allowed to make an oath, because it is a lawful remedy for removing
contentions. God in express words bids us to swear by his name; if other
names are blended with it, the oath is profaned. For this there are
especially three reasons: when there is no way of bringing the truth to
light, it is not right, for the sake of verifying it, to have recourse to
any but to God, who is himself eternal truth; and then, since he alone
knows the heart, his own office is taken from him, when in things hidden,
of which men can form no opinion, we appeal to any other judge; and
thirdly, because in swearing we not only appeal to him as a witness, but
also call upon him as an avenger of perjury in case we speak falsely. It
is no wonder, then, that he is so greatly displeased with those who swear
by another name, for his own honour is thus disparaged. And that there
are different forms often used in Scripture, makes nothing against this
truth; for they did not swear by heaven or earth, as though they ascribed
any divine power to them, or attributed to them the least portion of
divinity, but by this indirect protestation, so to speak, they had a
regard to the one true God. There are indeed various kinds of
protestations; but the chief one is, when we refer to God as a judge and
directly appeal to his judgment-seat; another is, when we name things
especially dear to us as our life, or our head, or anything of this kind;
and the third is, when we call creatures as witnesses before God. But in
all these ways we swear properly by no other than by God. hence they
betray their impiety no less than their ignorance, who contend that it is
lawful to connect dead saints with God so as to attribute to them the
right of punishing.
    Further, this passage teaches us, as it has been said, that an oath
may be lawfully used by Christians; and this ought to be particularly
observed, on account of fanatical men who are disposed to abrogate the
practice of solemn swearing which God has prescribed in his Law. For
certainly the Apostle speaks here of the custom of swearing as of a holy
practice, and approved by God. Moreover, he does not say of it as having
been formerly in use, but as of a thing still practiced. Let it then be
employed as a help to find out the truth when other proofs are wanting.
=====> 6:17. "God, willing", &c. See how kindly God as a gracious Father
accommodates himself to our slowness to believe; as he sees that we rest
not on his simple word, that he might more fully impress it on our hearts
he adds an oath. Hence also it appears how much it concerns us to know
that there is such a certainty respecting his goodwill towards us, that
there is no longer any occasion for wavering or for trembling. For when
God forbids his name to be taken in vain or on a slight occasion, and
denounces the severest vengeance on all who rashly abuse it, when he
commands reverence to be rendered to his majesty, he thus teaches us that
he holds his name in the highest esteem and honour. The certainty of
salvation is then a necessary thing; for he who forbids to swear without
reason has been pleased to swear for the sake of rendering it certain.
And we may hence also conclude what great account he makes of our
salvation; for in order to secure it, he not only pardons our unbelief,
but giving up as it were his own right, and yielding to us far more than
what we could claim, he kindly provides a remedy for it.
    "Unto the heirs of promise", &c. He seems especially to point out the
Jews; for though the heirship came at length to the Gentiles, yet the
former were the first lawful heirs, and the latter, being aliens, were
made the second heirs, and that beyond the right of nature. So Peter,
addressing the Jews in his first sermon, says, "To you and to your
children is the promise made, and to those who are afar of, whom the Lord
shall call." (Acts 2: 39.) He left indeed a place for adventitious heirs,
but he sets the Jews in the first rank, according to what he also says in
the third chapter, "Ye are the children of the fathers and of the
covenant," &c. (Acts 3: 25.) So also in this place the Apostle, in order
to make the Jews more ready to receive the covenant, shows that it was
for their sakes chiefly it was confirmed by an oath. At the same time
this declaration belongs at this day to us also, for we have entered into
the place quitted by them through unbelief
    Observe that what is testified to us in the Gospel is called the
"counsel" of God, that no one may doubt but that this truth proceeds from
the very inmost thoughts of God. Believers ought therefore to be fully
persuaded that whenever they hear the voice of the Gospel, the secret
counsel of God, which lay hid in him, is proclaimed to them, and that
hence is made.known to them what he has decreed respecting our salvation
before the creation of the world.
=====> 6:18. "That by two immutable things", &c. What God says as well as
what he swears is immutable. (Ps. 12: 6; Numb. 23: 19.) It may be with
men far otherwise; for their vanity is such that there cannot be much
firmness in their word. But the word of God is in various ways extolled;
it is pure and without any dross, like gold seven times purified. Even
Balaam, though an enemy, was yet constrained to bring this testimony,
"God is not like the sons of men that he should lie, neither like men
that he should repent: has he then said, and shall he not do it? Has he
spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Numb. 23: 19.) The word of God,
then, is a sure truth, and in itself authoritative, (|autopistos|,
self-worthy of trust.) But when an oath is added it is an overplus added
to a full measure. We have, then, this strong consolation, that God, who
cannot deceive when he speaks, being not content with making a promise,
has confirmed it by an oath.
    "Who have fled for refuge", &c. By these words he intimates that we
do not truly trust in God except when we forsake every other protection
and flee for refuge to his sure promise, and feel assured that it is our
only safe asylum. Hence by the word flee is set forth our poverty and our
need; for we flee not to God except when constrained. But when he adds
"the hope set before us", he intimates that we have not far to go to seek
the aid we want, for God himself of his own free will meets us and puts
as it were in our hand what we are to hope for; it is "set before us".
But as by this truth he designed to encourage the Jews to embrace the
Gospel in which salvation was offered to them; so also he thus deprived
the unbelieving, who rejected the favour presented to them, of every
excuse. And doubtless this might have been more truly said after the
promulgation of the Gospel than under the Law: "There is now no reason
for you to say, 'Who shall ascent into heaven? Or, Who shall descend into
the deep? Or, Who shall pass over the sea? For nigh is the word, it is in
thy mouth and in thy heart.'" (Dent. 30: 12; Rom. 10: 6.)
    But there is a metonymy in the word "hope", for the effect is put for
the cause; and I understand by it the promise on which our hope leans or
relies, for I cannot agree with those who take hope here for the thing
hoped for - by no means: and this also must be added, that the Apostle
speaks not of a naked promise, suspended as it were in the air, but of
that which is received by faith; or, if you prefer a short expression,
the hope here means the promise apprehended by faith. By the word "laying
hold", as well as by "hope", he denotes firmness. 
=====> 6:19. "As an anchor", &c. It is a striking likeness when he
compares faith leaning on God's word to an anchor; for doubtless, as long
as we sojourn in this world, we stand not on firm ground, but are tossed
here and there as it were in the midst of the sea, and that indeed very
turbulent; for Satan is incessantly stirring up innumerable storms, which
would immediately upset and sink our vessel, were we not to cast our
anchor fast in the deep. For nowhere a haven appears to our eyes, but
wherever we look water alone is in view; yea, waves also arise and
threaten us; but as the anchor is cast through the waters into a dark and
unseen place, and while it lies hid there, keeps the vessel beaten by the
waves from being overwhelmed; so must our hope be fixed on the invisible
God. There is this difference, - the anchor is cast downwards into the
sea, for it has the earth as its bottom; but our hope rises upwards and
soars aloft, for in the world it finds nothing on which it can stand, nor
ought it to cleave to created things, but to rest on God alone. As the
cable also by which the anchor is suspended joins the vessel with the
earth through a long and dark intermediate space, so the truth of God is
a bond to connect us with himself, so that no distance of place and no
darkness can prevent us from cleaving to him. Thus when united to God,
though we must struggle with continual storms, we are yet beyond the
peril of shipwreck. Hence he says, that this anchor is "sure" and
"steadfast", or safe and firm. It may indeed be that by the violence of
the waves the anchor may be plucked off, or the cable be broken, or the
beaten ship be torn to pieces. This happens on the sea; but the power of
God to sustain us is wholly different, and so also is the strength of
hope and the firmness of his word.
    "Which entereth into that", or those things, &c. As we have said,
until faith reaches to God, it finds nothing but what is unstable and
evanescent; it is hence necessary for it to penetrate even into heaven.
But as the Apostle is speaking to the Jews, he alludes to the ancient
Tabernacle, and says, that they ought not to abide in those things which
are seen, but to penetrate into the inmost recesses, which lie hid within
the veil, as though he had said, that all the external and ancient
figures and shadows were to be passed over, in order that faith might be
fixed on Christ alone.
    And carefully ought this reasoning to be observed, - that as Christ
has entered into heaven, so faith ought to be directed there also: for we
are hence taught that faith should look nowhere else. And doubtless it is
in vain for man to seek God in his own majesty, for it is too far removed
from them; but Christ stretches forth his hand to us, that he may lead us
to heaven. And this was shadowed forth formerly under the Law; for the
high priest entered the holy of holies, not in his own name only, but
also in that of the people, inasmuch as he bare in a manner the twelve
tribes on his breast and on his shoulders; for as a memorial for them
twelve stones were wrought on the breastplate, and on the two onynx
stones on his shoulders were engraved their names, so that in the person
of one man all entered into the sanctuary together. Rightly then does the
Apostle speak, when he reminds them that our high priest has entered into
heaven; for he has not entered only for himself, but also for us. There
is therefore no reason to fear that access to heaven will be closed up
against our faith, as it is never disjoined from Christ. And as it
becomes us to follow Christ who is gone before, he is therefore called
our "Forerunner", or precursor.



Chapter 7

=====> 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high
God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and
blessed him;
7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by
interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem,
which is, King of peace;
7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither
beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually.

=====> 7:1. "For this Melchisedec", &c. He has hitherto been stimulating
the Jews by exhortations, that they might attentively I consider the
comparison between Christ and Melchisedec. At the end of the last
chapter, that he might return from his digression to his subject, he
quoted again the passage from the Psalms; and now he enters fully into
what he had before slightly referred to; for he enumerates particularly
the things connected with Melchisedec, in which he resembled Christ. It
is indeed no wonder that he dwells so minutely on this subject. It was
doubtless no common thing that in a country abounding in the corruptions
of so many superstitions, a man was found who preserved the pure worship
of God; for on one side he was nigh to Sodom and Gomorrah, and on the
other to the Canaanites, so that he was on every side encompassed by
ungodly men. Besides, the whole world was so fallen into impiety, that it
is very probable that God was nowhere faithfully worshipped except in the
family of Abraham; for his father and his grandfather, who ought to have
retained true religion, had long before degenerated into idolatry. It was
therefore a memorable fact, that there was still a king who not only
retained true religion, but also performed himself the office of a
priest. And it was doubtless necessary that in him who was to be a type
of the Son of God all things excellent should be found: and that Christ
was shadowed forth by this type is evident from the Psalm referred to;
for David did not say without reason, "Thou art a priest forever after
the order Melchisedec;" no, but on the contrary, by these words a sublime
mystery was recommended to the Church.
    Let us now consider each of those particulars in which the Apostle
makes Christ like Melchisedec.
    The first likeness is in the name; for it was not without a mystery
that he was called "the King of righteousness. For though this honour is
ascribed to kings who rule with moderation and in equity, yet this
belongs really to Christ alone, who not only exercises authority justly
as others do, but also communicates to us the righteous of God, partly
when he makes us to be counted righteous by a gratuitous reconciliation,
and partly when he renews us by his Spirit, that we may lead a godly and
holy life. He is then called the King of righteousness, because of what
he effects in diffusing righteousness on all his people. It hence
follows, that out of his kingdom nothing but sin reigns among men. And
therefore Zechariah, when he introduces him, as by the solemn decree of
God, into the possession of his kingdom, thus extols him, - "Rejoice, O
daughter of Sion, Behold thy righteous King cometh to thee," (Zech 2:
10;) intimating that the righteousness, which is otherwise wanting to us,
is brought to us by the coming of Christ.
    The second likeness which the Apostle states is as to the kingdom of
"peace". This peace indeed is the fruit of that righteousness which he
has mentioned. It hence follows that wherever Christ's kingdom extends,
there peace ought to be, as we find in Isa. 2 and 9, and in other places.
But as peace among the Hebrews means also a prosperous and happy state,
it may be so taken here: yet I prefer to understand it here of that
inward peace which tranquillizes the conscience and renders it confident
before God. And the excellency of this blessing cannot be sufficiently
estimated, unless you consider on the other hand, how miserable a thing
it is to be tormented by constant inquietude; which must necessarily be
the case until we have our consciences pacified by being reconciled to
God through Christ.
=====> 7:3. "Without father", &c. I prefer this rendering to that of
"unknown father;" for the Apostle meant to express something more
emphatic than that the family of Melchisedec was obscure or unknown. Nor
does this objection disturb me, that the reality does not correspond with
the figure or type, because Christ has a Father in heaven, and had a
mother on earth; for the Apostle immediately explains his meaning by
adding "without descent", or kindred. He then exempts Melchisedec from
what is common to others, a descent by birth; by which he means that he
is eternal, so that his beginning from men was not to be sought after. It
is indeed certain that he descended from parents; but the Apostle does
not speak of him here in his private capacity; on the contrary, he sets
him forth as a type of Christ. He therefore allows himself to see nothing
in him but what Scripture contains. For in treating of things respecting
Christ, such reverence ought to be observed as not to know anything but
what is written in the Word of the Lord. Now, as the Holy Spirit in
mentioning this king, the most illustrious of his age, is wholly silent
as to his birth, and makes afterwards no record of his death, is not this
the same thing as though eternity was to be ascribed to him? And what was
shadowed forth in Melchisedec is really exhibited in Christ. It behoves
us then to be satisfied with this moderate view, that while Scripture
sets forth to us Melchisedec as one who had never been born and never
died, it shows to us as in a mirror, that Christ has neither a beginning
nor an end.
    But we hence also learn how much reverence and sobriety is required
as to the spiritual mysteries of God: for what is not found read in
Scripture the Apostle is not only willing to be ignorant of, but also
would have us to seek to know. And surely it is not lawful for us to
allege anything of Christ from our own thoughts. And Melchisedec is not
to be considered here, as they say, in his private capacity, but as a
sacred type of Christ; nor ought we to think that it was accidentally or
inadvertently omitted that no kindred is ascribed to him, and that
nothing is said of his death; but on the contrary, that this was done
designedly by the Spirit, in order to give us an idea of one above the
common order of men. There seems therefore to be no probability in the
conjecture of those who say that Melchisedec was Shem the son of Noah;
for if we make him to be some known individual, we destroy this third
likeness between Melchisedec and Christ.
    "Made like", or assimilated, &c. Not as far as what was typified
required; for we must always bear in mind that there is but an analogy
between the thing signified and the sign; for they make themselves
ridiculous who imagine that he came down from heaven, in order that there
might be a perfect similarity. It is enough that we see in him the
lineaments of Christ, as the form of the living man may be seen in his
picture, while yet the man himself is very different from what represents
him. It seems not to be worth one's while to refute the delirious notions
of those who dream that Christ himself, or the holy Spirit, or an angel,
appeared at that time; unless indeed one thought it to be the duty of a
right-minded man to dispute with Postillus and such fanatics; for that
impostor asserts that he is Melchisedec with no less supercilious folly
than those mad spirits of old, mentioned by Jerome, who pretended that
they were Christ.

=====> 7:4 Now consider how great this man [was], unto whom even the
patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office
of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people
according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of
the loins of Abraham:
7:6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of
Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he [receiveth them],
of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in
Abraham.
7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

=====> 7:4. "Now consider, &›. This is the fourth comparison between
Christ and Melchisedec, that Abraham presented tithes to him. But though
tithes were instituted for several reasons, yet the Apostle here refers
only to what serves his present purpose. One reason why tithes were paid
to the Levites was, because they were the children of Abraham, to whose
seed the land was promised. It was, then, by a hereditary right that a
portion of the land was allotted to them; for as they were not allowed to
possess land, a compensation was made to them in tithes. There was also
another reason, - that as they were occupied in the service of God and
the public ministry of the Church, it was right that they should be
supported at the public cost of the people. Then the rest of the
Israelites owed them tithes as a remuneration for their work. But these
reasons bear not at all on the present subject; therefore, the Apostle
passes them by. The only reason now alleged is, that as the people
offered the tithes as a sacred tribute to God, the Levites only received
them. It hence appears that it was no small honour that God in a manner
substituted them for himself. Then Abraham, being one of the chief
sergeants of God and a prophet, having offered tithes to Melchisedec the
priest, thereby confessed that Melchisedec excelled him in dignity. If,
then, the "patriarch" Abraham owned him more honourable than himself, his
dignity must have been singular and extraordinary. The word "patriarch"
is mentioned for the sake of setting forth his dignity; for it was in the
highest degree honourable to him to have been called a father in the
Church of God.
    Then the argument is this, - Abraham, who excelled all others, was
yet inferior to Melchisedec; then Melchisedec had the highest place of
honour, and is to be regarded as superior to all the sons of Levi. The
first part is proved, for what Abraham owed to God he gave to
Melchisedec: then by paying him the tenth he confessed himself to be
inferior.
=====> 7:5. "And verily they", &c. It would be more suitable to render
the words thus, "because they are the sons of Levi." The Apostle indeed
does not assign it as a reason that they received tithes because they
were the sons of Levi; but he is comparing the whole tribe with
Melchisedec in this way. Though God granted to the Levites the right of
requiring tithes from the people, and thus set them above all the
Israelites, yet they have all descended from the same parent; and
Abraham, the father of them all, paid tithes to a priest of another race:
then all the descendants of Abraham are inferior to this priest. Thus the
right conferred on the Levites was particular as to the rest of their
brethren; yet Melchisedec, without exception, occupies the highest place,
so that all are inferior to him. Some think that the tenths of tenths are
intended, which the Levites paid to the higher priests; but there is no
reason thus to confine the general declaration. The view, then, I have
given is the most probable.
=====> 7:6. "Blessed him", &c. This is the fifth comparison between
Christ and Melchisedec. The Apostle assumes it as an admitted principle
that the less is blessed by the greater; and then he adds that
Melchisedec blessed Abraham: hence the conclusion is that the less was
Abraham. But for the sake of strengthening his argument he again raises
the dignity of Abraham; for the more glorious Abraham is made, the higher
the dignity of Melchisedec appears. For this purpose he says that Abraham
had the "promises"; by which he means that he was the first of the holy
race with whom God made the covenant of eternal life. It was not indeed a
common honour that God chose him from all the rest that he might deposit
with him the privilege of adoption and the testimony of his love. But all
this was no hindrance that he should not submit himself in all his
preeminence to the priesthood of Melchisedec. We hence see how great he
was to whom Abraham gave place in these two things, - that he suffered
himself to be blessed by him, and that he offered him tithes as to God's
vicegerent. 
=====> 7:7. "The less is", &c. Let us first know what the word "b1essed"
means here. It means indeed a solemn praying by which he who is invested
with some high and public honour, recommends to God men in private
stations and under his ministry. Another way of blessing is when we pray
for one another; which is commonly done by all the godly. But this
blessing mentioned by the Apostle was a symbol of greater authority. Thus
Isaac blessed his son Jacob, and Jacob himself blessed his grandsons,
Ephraim and Manasseh. (Gen. 27: 27; 48: 15.) This was not done mutually,
for the son could not do the like to the father; but a higher authority
was required for such a blessing as this. And this appears more evident
still from Numb. 6: 23, where a command is given to the priest to bless
the people, and then a promise is immediately added, that they would be
blessed whom they blessed. It hence appears that the blessing of the
priest depended on this, - that it was not so much man's blessing as that
of God. For as the priest in offering sacrifices represented Christ, so
in blessing the people he was nothing more than a minister and legate of
the supreme God. In the same sense ought to be understood what Luke
records when he says, that Christ lifted up his hands and blessed the
Apostles. (Luke 24: 50.) The practice of lifting up the hands he no doubt
borrowed from the priests, in order to show that be was the person by
whom God the Father blesses us. Of this blessing mention is also made in
Ps. 116: 17; 118: 1.
    Let us now apply this idea to what the apostle treats of: The
blessing of the priest, while it is a divine work is also an evidence of
a higher honour; then Melchisedec, in blessing Abraham, assumed to
himself a higher dignity. This he did, not presumptuously, but according
to his right as a priest: then he was more eminent than Abraham. Yet
Abraham was he with whom God was pleased to make the covenant of
salvation; though, then, he was superior to all others, yet he was
surpassed by Melchisedec.
=====> 7:8. "Of whom it is witnessed that he liveth". He takes the
silence respecting his death, as I have said, as an evidence of his life.
This would not indeed hold as to others, but as to Melchisedec it ought
rightly to be so regarded, inasmuch as he was a type of Christ. For as
the spiritual kingdom and priesthood of Christ are spoken of here, there
is no place left for human conjectures; nor is it lawful for us to seek
to know anything farther than what we read in Scripture. But we are not
hence to conclude that the man who met Abraham is yet alive, as some have
childishly thought, for this is to be applied to the other person whom he
represented, even the Son of God. And by these words the Apostle intended
to show, that the dignity of Melchisedec's priesthood was to be
perpetual, while that of the Levites was temporary
    For he thus reasons, - those to whom the Law assigns tithes are dying
men; by which it was indicated that the priesthood would some time be
abrogated, as their life came to an end: but the Scripture makes no
mention of the death of Melchisedec, when it relates that tithes were
paid to him; so the authority of his priesthood is limited by no time,
but on the contrary there is given an indication of perpetuity. And this
is added for this purpose, lest a posterior law, as it is usual, should
seem to take away from the authority of a former law. For it might have
been otherwise objected and said, that the right which Melchisedec
formerly possessed is now void and null, because God had introduced
another law by Moses, by which he transferred the right to the Levites.
But the Apostle anticipates this objection by saying, that tithes were
paid to the Levites only for a time, because they did not live; but that
Melchisedec, because he is immortal, retains even to the end what was
once given to him by God.
=====> 7:9. "Levi also", &c. He advances farther, and says, that even
Levi himself, who was then in the loins of Abraham, was at exempt from
the same subordination; for Abraham, by paying tithes, made himself and
his posterity inferior to the priesthood of Melchisedec. But here one, on
the other hand, may say, that in the same way Judas also of whose seed
Christ was born, paid tithes. But this knot can be easily untied, when
one considers two things which are settled beyond all dispute among
Christians: first, Christ is not to be counted simply as one of the sons
of Abraham, but is to be exempted by a peculiar privilege from the common
order of men; and this is what he himself said, "If he is the son of
David, hen does David call him his Lord?" (Matt. 22: 45;) secondly, since
Melchisedec is a type of Christ, it is by no means reasonable that the
one should be set in opposition to the other; for we must remember that
common saying, that what is subordinate is not in opposition: hence the
type, which comes short of the reality, ought by no means to be opposed
to it, nor can it be, for such is the conflict of equals.
    These five particulars, mentioned by the Apostle, complete the
comparison between Christ and Melchisedec, and thus is dissipated the
gloss of those who seek to show that the chief likeness between them is
in offering of bread and wine. We see that the Apostle carefully, and
even scrupulously, examines here each of these points; he mentions the
name of the man, the seat of his kingdom, the perpetuity of his life, his
right to tithes, and his benediction.
    There is, forsooth! in these things, less importance than in the
oblation! Shall we say that the Spirit of God, through forgetfulness,
omitted this, so that he dwelt on minor things, and left unnoticed tale
chief thing, and what was most necessary for his purpose? I marvel the
more that so many of the ancient doctors of the Church were so led away
by this notion, that they dwelt only on the offering of bread and wine.
And thus they spoke, "Christ is a priest according to the order of
Melchisedec; and Melchisedec offered bread and wine; then the sacrifice
of bread and wine is suitable to the priesthood of Christ." The Apostle
will hereafter speak largely of the ancient sacrifices; but of this new
sacrifice of bread and wine he says not a word. Whence then did
ecclesiastical writers derive this notion? Doubtless, as one error
usually leads to another, having of themselves imagined a sacrifice in
Christ's Supper without any command from him, and thus adulterated the
Supper by adding a sacrifice, they afterwards endeavoured to find out
plausible arguments here and there in order to disguise and cover their
error. This offering of bread and wine pleased them, and was instantly
laid hold on without any discretion. For who can concede that these men
were more intelligent than the Spirit of God? Yet if we receive what they
teach, we must condemn God's Spirit for inadvertence in having omitted a
matter so important, especially as the question is avowedly handled!
    I hence conclude, that the ancients invented a sacrifice, of which
Moses had never thought; for Melchisedec offered bread and wine, not to
God, but on the contrary to Abraham and his companions. These are the
words, "Melchisedec, king of Salem, went out to meet him, and brought
forth bread and wine; and the same was priest to the most high God, and
blessed him." (Gen. 14: 18.) The first thing mentioned was a royal act;
he refreshed those wearied after the battle and their journey with
sustenance; the blessing was the act of a priest. If then his offering
had anything mystical in it, the completion of it is to be found in
Christ, when he fed the hungry and those wearied with fatigue. But the
Papists are extremely ridiculous, who though they deny that there is
bread and wine in the Mass, yet prattle about the sacrifice of bread and
wine.

=====> 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood,
(for under it the people received the law,) what further need [was there]
that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not
be called after the order of Aaron?
7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a
change also of the law.
7:13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe,
of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
7:14 For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe
Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

=====> 7:11. "If therefore perfections", or, moreover if perfection, &c.
From the same testimony the Apostle concludes, that the old covenant was
abrogated by the coming of Christ. He has hitherto spoken of the office
and person of the priest; but as God had instituted a priesthood for the
purpose of ratifying the Law, the former being abolished, the latter
necessarily ceases. That this may be better understood, we must bear in
mind the general truth, - That no covenant between God and man is in
force and ratified, except it rests on a priesthood. Hence the Apostle
says, that the Law was introduced among the ancient people under the
Levitical priesthood; by which he intimates, that it not only prevailed
during the time of the Law, but that it was instituted, as we have said
for the sake of confirming the Law.
    He now reasons thus, If the ministry of the Church was perfect under
the order of Aaron, why was it necessary to return to another order? For
in perfection nothing can be changed. It then follows, that the ministry
of the Law was not perfect, for that new order was to be introduced of
which David speaks.
    "For under it the people received the Law", &c. This parenthesis is
inserted in order that we may know that the Law was annexed to the
priesthood. The Apostle had in view to prove that in the Law of Moses
there was no ultimate end at which we ought to stop. This he proves by
the abrogation of the priesthoods and in this way: Had the authority of
the ancient priesthood been such as to be sufficient fully to establish
the Law, God would have never introduced in its place another and a
different priesthood. Now, as some might doubt whether the abolition of
the Law followed the abolition of the priesthood, he says that the Law
was not only brought in under it, but that it was also by it established.
=====> 7:12. "For the priesthood being changed", or, transferred, &c. As
the authority of the Law and the priesthood is the same, Christ became
not only a priest, hut also a Lawgiver; so that the right of Aaron, as
well as of Moses, was transferred to him. The sum of the whole is, that
the ministry of Moses was no less temporary than that of Aaron; and hence
both were annulled by the coming of Christ, for the one could not stand
without the other. By the word Law, we understand what peculiarly
belonged to Moses; for the Law contains the rule of life, and the
gratuitous covenant of life; and in it we find everywhere many remarkable
sentences by which we are instructed as to faith, and as to the fear of
God. None of these were abolished by Christ, but only that part which
regarded the ancient priesthood.
    For Christ is here compared with Moses; whatever then they had in
common, is not to be taken to the account, but only the things in which
they differ. They in common offer God's mercy to us, prescribe the rule
of a holy and godly life, teach us the true worship of God, and exhort us
to exercise faith and patience, and all the duties of godliness. But
Moses was different from Christ in this respect, that while the love of
the Gospel was not as yet made known, he kept the people under veils, set
forth the knowledge of Christ by types and shadows, and, in short,
accommodated himself to the capacity of ignorant people, and did not rise
higher than to puerile elements. We must then remember, that the Law is
that part of the ministration which Moses had as peculiarly his own, and
different from that of Christ. That law, as it was subordinate to the
ancient priesthood, was abolished when the priesthood was abolished. And
Christ, being made a priest, was invested also with the authority of a
legislator, that he might be the teacher and interpreter of the new
covenant. At the same time, the word Law is applied, though not in its
strict sense, to the Gospel; but this impropriety of language is so far
from having anything harsh in it, that on account of the contrast it adds
beauty to the sentence, as we find in the seventh chapter of the Epistle
to the Romans
    Moreover, the impiety of the Pope is extremely arrogant, who has
inserted this article in his decretals, that he himself is now invested
with the same authority as Aaron formerly had, because the Law and also
the priesthood have been transferred to him. We see what the Apostle
says; he maintains that ceremonies have ceased since the time when Christ
came forth with command to proclaim the new covenant. It is then absurd
hence to conclude, that anything has been transferred to the ministers of
Christ; for Christ himself is alone contrasted here with Moses and Aaron.
Under what pretext then can Antichrist arrogate to himself any such
authority? I do not indeed speak now for the sake of disproving so gross
an arrogance; but it is worth while to remind readers of this
sacrilegious audacity, that they may know that this notorious servant of
the servants of Christ wholly disregards the honour of his Master, and
boldly mangles the Scriptures, that he may have some cloak for his own
tyranny.
=====> 7:13. "For he of whom these things are spoken", or, said, &c. As
the Apostle was speaking to them who confessed Jesus the Son of Mary to
be the Christ, he proves that an end was put to the ancient priesthood,
because the new Priest, who had been set in the place of the old, was of
another tribe, and not of Levi; for according to the Law the honour of
the priesthood was to continue, by a special privilege, in that tribe.
But he says that it was "evident" that Christ was born of the tribe of
Judah, for it was then a fact commonly known. As then they acknowledged
that he was the Christ, it was also necessary that they should be
persuaded that he was the son of David; for he who had been promised
could derive his origin from no other.

=====> 7:15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude
of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after
the power of an endless life.
7:17 For he testifieth, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of
Melchisedec.
7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before
for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better
hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
7:20 And inasmuch as not without an oath [he was made priest]:
7:21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath
by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou [art]
a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

=====> 7:15. "And it is yet far more evident", &c. He proves by another
argument, that the Law is abolished. He reasoned before as to the person
of the priest, but now as to the nature of the priesthood, and the reason
for which it was appointed. The ancient priesthood, he says, had to do
with external rites; but in Christ's priesthood there is nothing but what
is spiritual. It hence appears, that the former was evanescent and
temporary; but that the latter was to be perpetual.
=====> 7:16. "Carnal commandment", &c. It was called carnal, because it
refers to things corporal, that is, to external rites. We know how Aaron
and his sons were initiated into their office. What was fulfilled in
Christ by the hidden and celestial power of the Spirit, was shadowed
forth under the Law by ointment, various vestments, the sprinkling of
blood, and other earthly ceremonies. Now this kind of institution was
suitable to the nature of the priesthood; it hence follows, that the
priesthood itself was liable to change. At the same time, as we shall
hereafter see, the priesthood was not so carnal, but that it was still
spiritual; but the Apostle here refers only to the difference between
Christ and Aaron. However spiritual then might have been the meaning of
these shadows, they were yet but shadows in themselves; and as they were
made up of the elements of this world, they may justly be called earthly.
    "After the power of an endless life", or, of an indissoluble life. As
Christ is a perpetual priest, it was necessary, that he should be
different from Aaron as to the manner of his appointment; and so it was,
for it was not Moses, a mortal man, who consecrated him, but the Holy
Spirit, and that not with oil, nor with the blood of goats, nor with the
outward pomp of vestments, but with celestial power, which the Apostle
here sets in opposition to weak elements. We hence wee how the eternity
of his priesthood was exhibited in Christ.
=====> 7:17. "Thou art a priest forever", &c. It is on the single word
"forever", that the Apostle lays stress in this passage; for he confirms
what he said of an indissoluble life. He then shows that Christ differs
from the whole race of Levi, because he is made a priest for ever.
    But here it may be objected, as the Jews also do, that the word,
|la'ulam|, does not always mean eternity, but the extent of one age, or,
at farthest, a long time; and it is added, that when Moses speaks of the
ancient sacrifices, he often uses this expression, "This ordinance shall
be forever." (Exod. 12: 17, and 19: 9.) To this I answer that whenever
the sacrifices of the Law are mentioned, "forever" is to be confined to
the time of the Law; nor ought this to be deemed strange; for by the
coming of Christ a certain renovation of the world was effected.
Whenever, then, Moses speaks of his own ministration, he extends the
longest time no farther than to Christ. It must yet be also observed,
that "forever" is applied to the ancient sacrifices, not with regard to
the external ceremony, but on account of their mystical signification. On
the present occasion, however, this reason ought to be sufficient, that
Moses and his ministrations were for ever; that is, until the coming of
the kingdom of Christ, under whom the world was renovated. Now when
Christ is come, and a perpetual priesthood is given to him, we can find
no end to his age, so that it cannot terminate after a certain period of
time. So when applied to him, the word ought to be understood in the
sense of eternity; for by the context we are always to judge of the
meaning of the word, |la'ulam|.
=====> 7:18. "For there is verily a disannulling", or abrogation, &c. As
the Apostle's discourse depends on this hinge, that the Law together with
the priesthood had come to an end, he explains the reason why it ought to
have been abolished, even because it was weak and unprofitable. And he
speaks thus in reference to the ceremonies, which had nothing substantial
in them, nor in themselves anything available to salvation; for the
promise of favour annexed to them, and what Moses everywhere testifies
that God would be pacified by sacrifices and that sins would be expiated,
did not properly belong to sacrifices, but were only adventitious to
them. For as all types had a reference to Christ, so from him they
derived all their virtue and effect; nay, of themselves they availed
nothing or effected nothing; but their whole efficacy depended on Christ
alone
    But as the Jews foolishly set up these in opposition to Christ, the
Apostle, referring to this notion, shows the difference between these
things and Christ. For as soon as they are separated from Christ, there
is nothing left in them, but the weakness of which he speaks; in a word,
there is no benefit to be found in the ancient ceremonies, except as they
refer to Christ; for in this way they so made the Jews acquainted with
God's grace, that they in a manner kept them in expectation of it. Let us
then remember that the Law is useless, when separated from Christ. And he
also confirms the same truth by calling it the "commandment going
before"; for it is a well-known and common saying, that former laws are
abrogated by the latter. The Law had been promulgated long before David;
but he was in possession of his kingdom when he proclaimed this prophecy
respecting the appointment of a new priest; this new Law then annulled
the former.
=====> 7:19. "For the Law made nothing perfect", &c. As he had spoken
rather harshly of the Law, he now mitigates or, as it were, corrects that
asperity; for he concedes to it some utility, as it had pointed out the
way which leads at length to salvation. It was, however, of such a kind
as to be far short of perfection. The Apostle then reasons thus: The Law
was only a beginning; then something more perfect was necessarily, to
follow; for it is not fit that God's children should always continue in
childish elements. By the word "bringing in", or introduction, he means a
certain preparation made by the Law, as children are taught in those
elements which smooth the way to what is higher. But as the preposition
|epi| denotes a consequence, when one thing follows another; it ought, as
I think, to be thus rendered, "but added was an introduction into a
better hope." For he mentions two introductions, according to my view;
the first by Melchisedec as a type; and the second by the Law, which was
in time later. Moreover, by "Law he designates the Levitical priesthood,
which was superadded to the priesthood of Melchisedec.
    By a "better hope" is to be understood the condition of the faithful
under the reign of Christ; but he had in view the fathers, who could not
be satisfied with the state in which they were then, but aspired to
higher things. Hence that saying, "Many kings and prophets desired to see
the things which ye see." (Luke 10: 24.) They were therefore led by the
hand of the Law as a schoolmaster, that they might advance farther.
    "By the which we draw nigh", &c. There is to be understood here an
implied contrast between us and the fathers; for in honour and privilege
we excel them, as God has communicated to us a full knowledge of himself,
but he appeared to them as it were afar off and obscurely. And there is
an allusion here made to the tabernacle or the temple; for the people
stood afar off in the court, nor was there a nearer access to the
sanctuary opened to any one except to the priests; and into the interior
sanctuary the highest priest only entered; but now, the tabernacle being
removed, God admits us into a familiar approach to himself, which the
fathers were not permitted to have. Then he who still holds to the
shadows of the Law, or seeks to restore them, not only obscures the glory
of Christ, but also deprives us of an immense benefit; for he puts God at
a great distance from us, to approach whom there is a liberty granted to
us by the Gospel. And whosoever continues in the Law, knowingly and
willingly deprives himself of the privilege of approaching nigh to God.
=====> 7:20. "And inasmuch as not without an oath", &c. Here is another
argument, why the Law ought to give place to the Gospel; for God has set
Christ's priesthood above that of Aaron, since in honour to the former he
was pleased to make an oath. For when he appointed the ancient priests,
he introduced no oath; but it is said of Christ, the Lord swore; which
was doubtless done for the sake of honouring him. We see the end for
which he again quotes the Psalmist, even that we may know, that more
honour through God's oath was given to Christ than to any others. But we
must bear in mind this truth, that a priest is made that he may be the
surety of a covenant. The Apostle hence concludes, that the covenant
which God has made by Christ with us, is far more excellent than the old
covenant of which Moses was the interpreter.

=====> 7:23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not
suffered to continue by reason of death:
7:24 But this [man], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable
priesthood.
7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come
unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
7:26 For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless,
undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice,
first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once,
when he offered up himself.
7:28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the
word of the oath, which was since the law, [maketh] the Son, who is
consecrated for evermore.

=====> 7:23. "And they truly", &c. He had already touched on this
comparison; but as the subject deserved more attention, he unfolds it
more fully, though the point discussed is different from what it was
before; for then he concluded that the ancient priesthood was to come to
an end because they who exercised it were mortal; but now he simply shows
that Christ remains perpetually a priest. This he does by an argument
taken from things unequal; the ancient priests were many, for death put
an end to their priesthood; but there is no death to prevent Christ from
discharging his office. Then he alone is a perpetual priest. Thus a
different cause produces different effects.
=====> 7:25. "Wherefore he is able to save", &c. This is the fruit of an
eternal priesthood, even our salvation, if indeed we gather this fruit by
faith as we ought to do. For where death is or a change, you will there
seek salvation in vain; hence they who cleave to the ancient priesthood,
can never attain salvation. When he says, "them that come unto God", or
who approach God, by this phrase he points out the faithful who alone
enjoy the salvation procured by Christ; but he yet at the same time
indicates what faith ought to regard in a mediator. The chief good of man
is to be united to his God, with whom is the fountain of life and of all
blessings; but their own unworthiness drives all away from any access to
him. Then the peculiar office of a mediator is to bring us help in this
respect, and to stretch out his hand to us that he may lead us to heaven.
And he ever alludes to the ancient shadows of the Law; for though the
high priest carried the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders and
symbols on his breast, yet he alone entered the sanctuary, while the
people stood in the court. But now by relying on Christ the Mediator we
enter by faith into heaven, for there is no longer any veil intervening,
but God appears to us openly, and lovingly invites us to a familiar
access.
    "Seeing he ever liveth", &c. What sort of pledge and how great is
this of love towards us! Christ liveth for us, not for himself! That he
was received into a blessed immortality to reign in heaven, this has
taken place, as the Apostle declares, for our sake. Then the life, and
the kingdom, and the glory of Christ are all destined for our salvation
as to their object; nor has Christ any thing, which may not be applied to
our benefit; for he has been given to us by the Father once for all on
this condition, that all his should be ours. He at the same time teaches
us by what Christ is doing, that he is performing his office as a priest;
for it belongs to a priest to "intercede" for the people, that they may
obtain favour with God. This is what Christ is ever doing, for it was for
this purpose that he rose again from the dead. Then of right, for his
continual intercession, he claims for himself the office of the
priesthood.
=====> 7:26. "For such an high priest", &c. He reasons from what is
necessarily connected with the subject. These conditions, or
qualifications, as they commonly say, are of necessity required in a
priest - that he should be just, harmless, and pure from every spot. This
honour belongs to Christ alone. Then what was required for the real
discharge of the office was wanting in the priests of the law. It hence
follows, that there was no perfection in the Levitical priesthood; nor
was it indeed in itself legitimate, unless it was subservient to that of
Christ; and, doubtless, the external ornaments of the high priest
indicated this defect; for why were those costly and splendid vestments
used with which God commanded Aaron to be adorned while performing holy
rites, except that they were symbols of a holiness and excellency far
exceeding all human virtues? Now, these types were introduced, because
the reality did not exist. It then appears that Christ alone is the fully
qualified priest.
    "Separate from sinners", &c. This clause includes all the rest. For
there was some holiness, and harmlessness, and purity in Aaron, but only
a small measure; for he and his sons were defiled with many spots; but
Christ, exempt from the common lot of men, is alone free from every sin;
hence in him alone is found real holiness and innocency. For he is not
said to be separate from us, because he repels us from his society, but
because he has this excellency above us all, that he is free from every
uncleanness.
    And we hence conclude, that all prayers, which are not supported by
Christ's intercession, are rejected.
    It may, however, be asked as to angels, whether they are separate
from sinners? And if so, what prevents them from discharging the offices
of the priesthood, and from being our mediators with God? To this there
is an easy reply: - No one is a lawful priest, except he is appointed by
God's command; and God has nowhere conferred this honour on angels. It
would then be a sacrilegious usurpation, were they, without being called,
to intrude into the office; besides, it is necessary, as we shall
presently see at the beginning of the next chapter, that the Mediator
between God and men should himself be a man. At the same time the last
thing mentioned here by the Apostle is abundantly sufficient as an answer
to the question; for no one can unite us to God but he who reaches to
God; and this is not the privilege of angels, for they are not said to
have been "made higher than the heavens". It then belongs to Christ alone
to conciliate God to us, as he has ascended above all the heavens. Now,
these words mean the same as though Christ were said to I have been
placed above all orders of creatures, so that he stands eminent above all
angels.
=====> 7:27. "Who needeth not", &c. He pursues the contrast between
Christ and the Levitical priests; and he points out especially two
defects, so to speak, in the ancient priesthood, by which it appears that
it was not perfect. And here, indeed, he only touches briefly on the
subject; but he afterwards explains every particular more at large, and
particularly that which refers to the daily sacrifices, as the main
question was respecting these. It is briefly also that I will now touch
on the several points. One of the defects of the ancient priesthood was,
that the high priest offered sacrifices for his own sins; how then could
he have pacified God for others, who had God justly displeased with
himself? Then they were by no means equal to the work of expiating for
sins. The other defect was, that they offered various sacrifices daily;
it hence follows, that there was no real expiation; for sins remain when
purgation is repeated. The case with Christ was wholly different; for he
himself needed no sacrifice, as he was sprinkled with no spot of sin; and
such was the sacrifice, that it was alone sufficient to the end of the
world, for he offered himself.
=====> 7:28. "For the law", &c. From the defects of men he draws his
conclusion as to the weakness of the priesthood, as though he had said,
"Since the law makes no real priests, the defect must by some other means
be remedied; and it is remedied by the "word of the oath"; for Christ was
made a priest, being not of the common order of men, but the Son of God,
subject to no defect, but adorned and endowed with the highest
perfection." He again reminds us, that the "oath" was posterior to the
law, in order to show that God, being not satisfied with the priesthood
of the law, designed to constitute a better priesthood; for in the
institutions of God what succeeds advances the former to a better state,
or it abolishes what was designed to exist only for a time.


Chapter 8

=====> 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We
have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of
the Majesty in the heavens;
8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the
Lord pitched, and not man.
8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices:
wherefore [it is] of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there
are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses
was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See,
saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to
thee in the mount.
8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also
he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon
better promises.

=====> 8:1. "Now of the things, &c. That readers might know the subject
he handles, he reminds them that his object is to prove that Christ's
priesthood, by which that of the law had been abolished, is spiritual.
He, indeed, proceeds with the same argument; but as he contends with
various seasonings, he introduced this admonition, that he might keep his
readers attentive to what he had in view.
    He has already shown that Christ is a high priest; he now contends
that his priesthood is celestial. It hence follows, that by his coming
the priesthood established by Moses under the law was made void, for it
was earthly. and as Christ suffered in the humble condition of his flesh,
and having taken the form of a servant, made himself of no reputation in
the world, (Phil. 2: 7;) the Apostle reminds us of his ascension, by
which was removed not only the reproach of the cross, but also of that
abject and mean condition which he had assumed together with our flesh;
for it is by the power of the Spirit which gloriously appeared in the
resurrection and the ascension of Christ, that the dignity of his
priesthood is to be estimated. He then reasons thus - "Since Christ has
ascended to the right hand of God, that he might reign gloriously in
heaven, he is not the minister of the earthly but of the heavenly
sanctuary.
=====> 8:2. "Of the sanctuary", or, literally, of holy things, &c. The
word is to be taken, as being in the neuter gender; and the Apostle
explains himself by saying, "of the true tabernacle".
    But it may be asked, whether the tabernacle built by Moses was a
false one, and presumptuously constructed, for there is an implied
contrast in the words? To this I answer, that to us mentioned here is not
set in opposition to what is false, but only to what is typical; as we
find in John 1: 17, "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came
by Jesus Christ." Then the old tabernacle was not the empty inventions of
man, but the effigy of the heavenly tabernacle. As, however, a shadow
differs from the substance, and the sign from the thing signified, the
Apostle denies it to have been the true tabernacle, as though he had
said, that it was only a shadow.
    "Which the Lord pitched", or, fixed, &c. What does the Apostle mean
by locating Christ's priesthood in heaven? For doubtless he suffered on
earth, and by an earthly blood he atoned for our sins, for he derived his
origin from the seed of Abraham; the sacrifice of his death was visible;
and lastly, that he might offer himself to the Father, it was necessary
for him to descend from heaven to the earth, and as man to become exposed
to the sorrows of this mortal life, and at length to death itself. To all
this I reply, that whatever of an earthly kind appears at first sight to
be in Christ, it is to be viewed spiritually by the eye of faith. Thus
his flesh, which proceeded from the seed of Abraham, since it was the
temple of God, possessed a vivifying power; yea, the death of Christ
became the life of the world, which is certainly above nature. The
Apostle therefore does not refer to what belongs peculiarly to human
nature, but to the hidden power of the Spirit; and hence it is, that the
death of Christ has nothing earthly in it. When therefore we speak of
Christ, let us learn to raise up all our thoughts to the kingdom of God,
so that no doubt may remain in us.
    Nearly to the same purpose is the language of Paul in 2 Col. 5: l; he
calls Cod the builder of this tabernacle, in order to set forth its
stability and perpetuity; for, on the other hand, what is built by men's
hands, is unstable, and at last sure to perish. But he says this, because
redemption was truly a divine work, attained by the death of Christ; and
in this the power of Christ manifested itself in a wonderful manner.
=====> 8:3. "For every high priest", &c. The Apostle intends to show,
that Christ's priesthood cannot coexist with the Levitical priesthood. He
proves it in this way, - "The Law appointed priests to offer sacrifices
to God; it hence appears that the priesthood is an empty name without a
sacrifice. But Christ had no sacrifice, such as was offered under the
Law; it hence follows, that his priesthood is not earthly or carnal, but
one of a more excellent character."
    Let us now examine every clause. The first thing that deserves
notice, is that which he teachers that no priest is appointed except to
offer gifts; it is hence evident, that no favour from God can be obtained
for men except through the interposition of a sacrifice. Hence, that our
prayers may be heard, they must be founded on a sacrifice; their
audacity, therefore, is altogether pernicious and fatal, who pass by
Christ and forget his death, and yet rush into the presence of God. Now,
if we wish to pray in a profitable manner, we must learn ever to set
before us the death of Christ, which alone sanctifies our prayers. For
God will never hear us unless he is reconciled; but he must be first
pacified, for our sins cause him to be displeased with us. Sacrifice must
necessarily precede, in order that there may be any benefit from prayer.
    We may hence further conclude, that no one either among men or angels
is qualified for pacifying God, for all are without any sacrifice of
their own which they can offer to appease God. And hereby is abundantly
exposed the effrontery of the Papists who make Apostles and martyrs to
share with Christ as mediators in the work of intercession; for in vain
do they assign them such an office, except they supply them with
sacrifices.

=====> 8:4. "For if he were on earth", &c. It is now beyond dispute that
Christ is a high priest; but as the office of a judge does not exist
without laws and statutes, so the office of sacrificing must be connected
with Christ as a priest: yet he has no earthly or visible sacrifice; he
cannot then be a priest on earth. We must always hold this truth that
when the Apostle speaks of the death of Christ, he regards not the
external action, but the spiritual benefit. He suffered death as men do,
but as a priest he atoned for the sins of the world in a divine manner;
there was an external shedding of blood, but there was also an internal
and spiritual purgation; in a word, he died on earth, but the virtue and
efficacy of his death proceeded from heaven.
    What immediately follows some render thus, "He could not be a priest
of the number of those who offer gifts according to the Law." But the
words of the Apostle mean another thing; and therefore I prefer this
rendering, "He could not be a priest as long as there are priests who,"
&c. For he intends to show one of these two things, either that Christ is
no priest, while the priesthood of the Law continued, as he had no
sacrifice, or that the sacrifices of the law ceased as soon as Christ
appeared. The first of these is against all reason, for it is an act of
impiety to deprive Christ of his priesthood. It then remains for us to
confess, that the Levitical order is now abolished. 
=====> 8:5. "Who serve unto the example", &c. The verb |latreuein|, to
serve, I take here to mean the performing of sacred rites; and so |en| or
|epi| is to be understood. This is certainly more appropriate than the
rendering given by some, "Who serve the shadow and example of heavenly
things; and the construction in Greek will admit naturally of the meaning
I have proposed. In short, he teaches us that the true worship of God
consists not in the ceremonies of the Law, and that hence the Levitical
priests, while exercising their functions, had nothing but a shadow and a
copy, which is inferior to the prototype, for this is the meaning of the
word |hupodeigma|, exemplar. And he thus anticipates what might have been
raised as an objection; for he shows that the worship of God, according
to the ancient sacrifices, was not superfluous, because it referred to
what was higher, even to heavenly realities.
    "As Moses was admonished by God", &c. This passage is found in Exod.
25: 40; and the apostle adduces it here on purpose, so that he might
prove that the whole service, according to the Law, was nothing more than
a picture as it were, designed to shadow forth what is found spiritually
in Christ. God commanded that all the parts of the tabernacle should
correspond with the original pattern, which had been shown to Moses on
the mount. And if the form of the tabernacle had a reference to something
else, then the same must have been the case as to the rituals and the
priesthood; it hence follows that there was nothing real in them.
    This is a remarkable passage, for it contains three things entitled
to special notice.
    First, we hence learn that the ancient rituals were not without
reason appointed, as though God did by them engage the attention of the
people as with the diversions of children; and that the form of the
tabernacle was not an empty thing, intended only to allure and attract
the eyes by its external splendour; for there was a real and spiritual
meaning in all these things, since Moses was commanded to execute every
thing according to the original pattern which was given from heaven.
Extremely profane then must the opinion of those be, who hold that the
ceremonies were only enjoined that they might serve as means to restrain
the wantonness of the people, that they might not seek after the foreign
rites of heathens. There is indeed something in this, but it is far from
being all; they omit what is much more important, that they were the
means of retaining the people in their expectation of a Mediator.
    There is, however, no reason that we should be here overcurious, so
as to seek in every nail and minute things some sublime mystery, as
Hesychius did and many of the ancient writers, who anxiously toiled in
this work; for while they sought refinedly to philosophize on things
unknown to them, they childishly blundered, and by their foolish trifling
made themselves ridiculous. We ought therefore to exercise moderation in
this respect, which we shall do if we seek only to know what has been
revealed to us respecting Christ.
    Secondly, we are here taught that all those modes of worship are
false and spurious, which men allow themselves by their own wit to
invent, and beyond God's command; for since God gives this direction,
that all things are to be done according to his own rule, it is not
lawful for us to do anything different from it; for these two forms of
expression, "see that thou do all things according to the patterns," and,
"See that thou do nothing beyond the pattern," amount to the same thing.
Then by enforcing the rule delivered by himself, he prohibits us to
depart from it even in the least thing. For this reason all the modes of
worship taught by men fall to the ground, and also those things called
sacraments which have not proceeded from God.
    Thirdly, let us hence learn that there are no true symbols of
religion but those which conform to what Christ requires. We must then
take heed, lest we, while seeking to adapt our own inventions to Christ,
transfigure him, as the Papists do, so that he should not be at all like
himself; for it does not belong to us to devise anything as we please,
but to God alone it belongs to show us what to do; it is to be "according
to the pattern" showed to us.
=====> 8:6. "But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry", &c. As
he had before inferred the excellency of the covenant from the dignity of
the priesthood, so also now he maintains that Christ's priesthood is more
excellent than that of Aaron, because he is the interpreter and Mediator
of a better covenant. Both were necessary, for the Jews were to be led
away from the superstitious observance of rituals, by which they were
prevented from advancing directly forward to the attainment of the real
and pure truth of the Gospel. The Apostle says now that it was but right
that Moses and Aaron should give way to Christ as to one more excellent,
because the gospel is a more excellent covenant than the Law, and also
because the death of Christ was a nobler sacrifice than the victims under
the Law.
    But what he adds is not without some difficulty, - that the covenant
of the Gospel was proclaimed on better promises; for it is certain that
the fathers who lived under the Law had the same hope of eternal life set
before them as we have, as they had the grace of adoption in common with
us, then faith must have rested on the same promises. But the comparison
made by the Apostle refers to the form rather than to the substance; for
though God promised to them the same salvation which he at this day
promises to us, yet neither the manner nor the character of the
revelation is the same or equal to what we enjoy. If anyone wishes to
know more on this subject, let him read the 4th and 5th chapter of the
Epistle to the Galatians and my Institutes.

=====> 8:7 For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should
no place have been sought for the second.
8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith
the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and
with the house of Judah:
8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the
day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith
the Lord.
8:10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and
write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall
be to me a people:
8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his
brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to
the greatest.
8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and
their iniquities will I remember no more.
8:13 In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now
that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.

=====> 8:7. "For if that", &c. He confirms what he had said of the
excellency of the covenant which God has made with us through Christ; and
he confirms it on this ground, because the covenant of the Law was
neither valid nor permanent; for if nothing was wanting in it, why was
another substituted for it? But another has been substituted; and from
this it is evident that the old covenant was not in every respect
perfect. To prove this he adduces the testimony of Jeremiah, which we
shall presently examine.
    But it seems hardly consistent to say, that after having said that no
place would have been sought for the second covenant, had the first been
faultless, he should then say that the people were at fault, and that for
this cause the new covenant was introduced as a remedy; and thus it
appears unjust, that if the blame was in the people it should be
transferred to God's covenant. Then the argument seems not valid, for
though God might have a hundred times blamed the people, yet the covenant
could not on that account be deemed faulty. The answer to this objection
may be easily given. Though the crime of violating the covenant was
justly imputed to the people, who had through their own perfidy departed
from God, yet the weakness of the covenant is also pointed out, because
it was not written in their hearts. Then, to render it perfect and valid,
God declares that it needed an amendment. It was not, therefore, without
reason that the Apostle contended that a place was to be sought for a
second.
=====> 8:8. "Behold, the days come", &c. (Jer. 31: 31-34.) The Prophet
speaks of future time; he arraigns the people of perfidy, because they
continued not faithful after having received the Law. The Law, then, was
the covenant which was broken, as Cod complains, by the people. To remedy
this evil, he promised a new and a different covenant, the fulfilment of
which prophecy was the abrogation of the old covenant.
    But it may be said, the Apostle seems unreasonably to turn this
prophecy to suit his own purpose; for here the question is respecting 
ceremonies, but the Prophet speaks of the whole Law: what has it to do
with ceremonies, when God inscribes on the heart the rule of a godly and
holy life, delivered by the voice and teaching of men? To this I reply
that the argument is applied from the whole to a part. There is no doubt
but that the Prophet includes the whole dispensation of Moses when he
says, "I have made with you a covenant which you have not kept." Besides,
the Law was in a manner clothed with ceremonies; now when the body is
dead, what is the use of garments? It is a common saying that the
accessory is of the same character with his principal. No wonder, then,
that the ceremonies, which are nothing more than appendages to the old
covenant, should come to an end, together with the whole dispensation of
Moses. Nor is it unusual with the Apostles, when they speak of
ceremonies, to discuss the general question respecting the whole Law.
Though, then, the prophet Jeremiah extends wider than to ceremonies, yet
as it includes them under the name of the old covenant, it may be fitly
applied to the present subject.
    Now, by the days which the prophet mentions, all agree that Christ's
kingdom is signified; it hence follows, that the old covenant was changed
by the coming of Christ. And he names "the house of Israel and the house
of Judah", because the posterity of Abraham had been divided into two
kingdoms. So the promise is to gather again all the elect together into
one body, however separated they may have been formerly.
=====> 8:9. "Not according to the covenant", &c. Here is expressed the
difference between the covenant which then existed and the new one which
he caused them to expect. The Prophet might have otherwise said only: "I
will renew the covenant which through your fault has come to nothing;"
but he now expressly declares that it would be one unlike the former. By
saying that the covenant was made in the day when he laid holds on their
hand to rescue them from bondage, he enhanced the sin of defection by
thus reminding them of so great a benefit. At the same time he did not
accuse one age only of ingratitude; but as these very men who had been
delivered immediately fell away, and as their posterity after their
example continually relapsed, hence the whole nation had become
covenant-breakers.
    By saying that he disregarded them or cared not for them, he
intimates that it would profit them nothing to have been once adopted as
his people, unless he succoured them by this new kind of remedy. At the
same time the Prophet expresses in Hebrew something more; but this has
little to do with the present question.
=====> 8:10. "For this is the covenant that I will make", &c. There are
two main parts in this covenant; the first regards the gratuitous
remission of sins; and the other, the inward renovation of the heart;
there is a third which depends on the second, and that is the
illumination of the mind as to the knowledge of God. There are here many
things most deserving of notice.
    The first is, that God calls us to himself without effect as long as
he speaks to us in no other way than by the voice of man. He indeed
teaches us and commands what is right but he speaks to the deaf; for when
we seem to hear anything, our ears are only struck by an empty sound; and
the heart, full of depravity and perverseness, rejects every wholesome
doctrine. In short, the word of God never penetrates into our hearts, for
they are iron and stone until they are softened by him; nay, they have
engraven on them a contrary law, for perverse passions rule within, which
lead us to rebellion. In vain then does God proclaim his Law by the voice
of man, unless he writes it by his Spirit on our hearts, that is, unless
he forms and prepares us for obedience. It hence appears of what avail is
freewill and the uprightness of nature before God regenerates us. We will
indeed and choose freely; but our will is carried away by a sort of
insane impulse to resist God. Thus it comes that the Law is ruinous and
fatal to us as long as it remains written only on tables of stone, as
Paul also teaches us. (2 Cor. 3: 3.) In short, we then only obediently
embrace what God commands, when by his Spirit he changes and corrects the
natural pravity of our hearts; otherwise he finds nothing in us but
corrupt affections and a heart holly given up to evil. The declaration
indeed is clear, that a new covenant is made according to which God
engraves his laws on our hearts, for otherwise it would be in vain and of
no effect.
    The second particular refers to the gratuitous pardon of sins. Though
they have sinned, saith the Lord, yet I will pardon them. This part is
also most necessary; for God never so forms us for obedience to his
righteousness, but that many corrupt affections of the flesh still
remain; nay, it is only in part that the viciousness of our nature is
corrected; so that evil lusts break out now and then. And hence is that
contest of which Paul complains, when the godly do not obey God as they
ought, but in various ways offend. (Rom. 7: 13.) Whatever desire then
there may be in us to live righteously, we are still guilty of eternal
death before God, because our life is ever very far from the perfection
which the Law requires. There would then be no stability in the covenant,
except God gratuitously forgave our sins. But it is the peculiar
privilege of the faithful who have once embraced the covenant offered to
them in Christ, that they feel assured that God is propitious to them;
nor is the sin to which they are liable, a hindrance to them, for they
have the promise of pardon.
    And it must be observed that this pardon is promised to them, not for
one day only, but to the very end of life, so that they have a daily
reconciliation with God. For this favour is extended to the whole of
Christ's kingdom, as Paul abundantly proves in the fifth chapter of his
second Epistle to the Corinthians. And doubtless this is the only true
asylum of our faith, to which if we flee not, constant despair must be
our lot. For we are all of us guilty; nor can we be otherwise released
then by fleeing to God's mercy, which alone can pardon us.
    "And they shall be to me", &c. It is the fruit of the covenant, that
God chooses us for his people, and assures us that he will be the
guardian of our salvation. This is indeed the meaning of these words,
"And I will be to them a God"; for he is not the God of the dead, nor
does he take us under his protection, but that he may make us partakers
of righteousness and of life, so that David justly exclaims, "Blessed are
the people to whom the Lord is God (Ps. 144: 15.) There is further no
doubt but that this truth belongs also to us; for though the Israelites
had the first place, and are the proper and legitimate heirs of the
covenant, yet their prerogative does not hinder us from having also a
title to it. In short, however far and wide the kingdom of Christ
extends, this covenant of salvation is of the same extent.
    But it may be asked, whether there was under the Law a sure and
certain promise of salvation, whether the fathers had the gift of the
Spirit, whether they enjoyed God's paternal favour through the remission
of sins? Yes, it is evident that they worshipped God with a sincere heart
and a pure conscience, and that they walked in his commandments, and this
could not have been the case except they had been inwardly taught by the
Spirit; and it is also evident, that whenever they thought of their sins,
they were raised up by the assurance of a gratuitous pardon. And yet the
Apostle, by referring the prophecy of Jeremiah to the coming of Christ,
seems to rob them of these blessings. To this I reply, that he does not
expressly deny that God formerly wrote his Law on their hearts and
pardoned their sins, but he makes a comparison between the less and the
greater. As then the Father has put forth more fully the power of his
Spirit under the kingdom of Christ, and has poured forth more abundantly
his mercy on mankind, this exuberance renders insignificant the small
portion of grace which he had been pleased to bestow on the fathers. We
also see that the promises were then obscure and intricate, so that they
shone only like the moon and stars in comparison with the clear light of
the Gospel which shines brightly on us.
    If it be objected and said, that the faith and obedience of Abraham
so excelled, that hardly any such an example can at this day be found in
the whole world; my answer is this, that the question here is not about
persons, but that reference is made to the economical condition of the
Church. Besides, whatever spiritual gifts the fathers obtained, they were
accidental as it were to their age; for it was necessary for them to
direct their eyes to Christ in order to become possessed of them. Hence
it was not without reason that the Apostle, in comparing the Gospel with
the Law, took away from the latter what is peculiar to the former. There
is yet no reason why God should not have extended the grace of the new
covenant to the fathers. This is the true solution of the question.
=====> 8:11. "And they shall not teach", &c. We have said that the third
point is as it were a part of the second, included in these words, "I
will put my laws in their mind; for it is the work of the Spirit of God
to illuminate our minds, so that we may know what the will of God is, and
also to bend our hearts to obedience. For the right knowledge of God is a
wisdom which far surpasses the comprehension of man's understanding;
therefore, to attain it no one is able except through the secret
revelation of the Spirit. Hence Isaiah, in speaking of the restoration of
the Church, says, that all God's children would be his disciples or
scholars. (Isa. 28: 16.) The meaning of our Prophet is the same when he
introduces God as saying, "They shall know me". For God does not promise
what is in our own power, but what he alone can perform for us. In short,
these words of the Prophet are the same as though he had said, that our
minds are blind and destitute of all right understanding until they are
illuminated by the Spirit of God. Thus God is rightly known by those
alone to whom he has been pleased by a special favour to reveal himself.
    By saying, "From the least to the greatest", he first intimates that
God's grace would be poured on all ranks of men, so that no class would
be without it. He, secondly, reminds us that no rude and ignorant men are
precluded from this heavenly wisdom, and that the great and the noble
cannot attain it by their own acuteness or by the help of learning. Thus
God connects the meanest and the lowest with the highest, so that their
ignorance is no impediment to the one, nor can the other ascend so high
by their own acumen; but the one Spirit is equally the teacher of them
all.
    Fanatical men take hence the occasion to do away with public
preaching, as though it were of no use in Christ's kingdom; but their
madness may be easily exposed. Their objection is this: "After the coming
of Christ every one is to teach his neighbour; away then with the
external ministry, that a place may be given to the internal inspiration
of God." But they pass by this, that the Prophet does not wholly deny
that they would teach one another, but his words are these, "They shall
not teach, saying, know the Lord"; as though he had said, "Ignorance
shall not as heretofore so possess the minds of men as not to know who
God is." But we know that the use of teaching is twofold; first, that
they who are wholly ignorant may learn the first elements; and secondly,
that those who are initiated may make progress. As then Christians, as
long as they live, ought to make progress, it cannot surely be said, that
any one is so wise that he needs not to be taught; so that no small part
of our wisdom is a teachable spirit. And what is the way of making
progress if we desire to be the disciples of Christ? This is shown to us
by Paul when he says, that Christ gave pastors and teachers. (Eph. 4:
11.) It hence appears that nothing less was thought of by the Prophet
than to rob the Church of such a benefit. His only object was to show
that God would make himself known to small and great, according to what
was also predicted by Joel 2: 28. It ought also in passing to be noticed,
that this light of sacred knowledge is promised peculiarly to the Church;
hence this passage belongs to none but to the household of faith.
=====> 8:13. "In that he saith, A new", &c. From the fact of one covenant
being established, he infers the subversion of the other; and by calling
it the old covenant, he assumes that it was to be abrogated; for what is
old tends to a decay. Besides, as the new is substituted, it must be that
the former has come to an end; for the second, as it has been said, is of
another character. But if the whole dispensation of Moses, as far as it
was opposed to the dispensation of Christ, has passed away, then the
ceremonies also must have ceased.


Chapter 9

=====> 9:1 Then verily the first [covenant] had also ordinances of divine
service, and a worldly sanctuary.
9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein [was] the
candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the
sanctuary.
9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest
of all;
9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid
round about with gold, wherein [was] the golden pot that had manna, and
Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which
we cannot now speak particularly.

=====> 9:1. "Then verily the first", &c. After having spoken generally of
the abrogation of the old covenant, he now refers specially to the
ceremonies. His object is to show that there was nothing practiced then
to which Christ's coming has not put an end. He says first, that under
the old covenant there was a specific form of divine worship, and that it
was peculiarly adapted to that time. It will hereafter appear by the
comparison what kind of things were those rituals prescribed under the
Law.
    Some copies read, |proote skene|, the first tabernacle; but I suspect
that there is a mistake as to the word "tabernacle;" nor do I doubt but
that some unlearned reader, not finding a noun to the adjective, and in
his ignorance applying to the tabernacle what had been said of the
covenant, unwisely added the word |skene|, tabernacle. I indeed greatly
wonder that the mistake had so prevailed, that it is found in the Greek
copies almost universally. But necessity constrains me to follow the
ancient reading. For the Apostle, as I have said, had been speaking of
the old covenant; he now comes to ceremonies, which were additions, as it
were, to it. He then intimates that all the rites of the Mosaic Law were
a part of the old covenant, and that they partook of the same
ancientness, and were therefore to perish.
    Many take the word |latreias| as an accusative plural. I agree with
those who connect the two words together, |dikaioomata latreias|, for
institutes or rites, which the Hebrews call |chukim|, and the Greeks have
rendered by the word |dikaioomata|, ordinances. The sense is, that the
whole form or manner of worshipping God was annexed to the old covenant,
and that it consisted of sacrifices, ablutions, and other symbols,
together with the sanctuary. And he calls it a "worldly sanctuary",
because there was no heavenly truth or reality in those rites; for though
the sanctuary was the effigy of the original pattern which had been shown
to Moses; yet an effigy or image is a different thing from the reality,
and especially when they are compared, as here, as things opposed to each
other. Hence the sanctuary in itself was indeed earthly, and is rightly
classed among the elements of the world, it was yet heavenly as to what
it signified. 
=====> 9:2. "For there was a tabernacle", &c. As the Apostle here touches
but lightly on the structure of the tabernacle, that he might not be
detained beyond what his subject required; so will I also designedly
abstain from any refined explanation of it. It is then sufficient for our
present purpose to consider the tabernacle in its three parts, - the
first was the court of the people; the middle was commonly called the
sanctuary; and the last was the inner sanctuary, which they called, by
way of eminence, "the holy of holies".
    As to the first sanctuary, which was contiguous to the court of the
people, he says that there were the candlestick and the table on which
the "show-bread" was set: he calls this place, in the plural number, the
holies. Then, after this is mentioned, the most secret place, which they
called the holy of holies, still more remote from the view of the people,
and it was even hid from the priests who ministered in the first
sanctuary; for as by a veil the sanctuary was closed up to the people, so
another veil kept the priests from the holy of holies. There, the Apostle
says, was the |thumiaterion|, by which name I understand the altar of
incense, or fumigation, rather than the censer; then "the ark of the
covenant, with its covering, "the two cherubim, the golden pot" filled
with "manna, the rod of Aaron, and the two tables". Thus far the Apostle
proceeds in describing the tabernacle.
    But he says that the pot in which Moses had deposited the manna, and
Aaron's rod which had budded, were in the ark with the two tables; but
this seems inconsistent with sacred history, which in I Kings 8: 9,
relates that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables. But it is
easy to reconcile these two passages: God had commanded the pot and
Aaron's rod to be laid up before the testimony; it is hence probable that
they were deposited in the ark, together with the tables. But when the
Temple was built, these things were arranged in a different order, and
certain history relates it as a thing new that the ark had nothing else
but the two tables.
=====> 9:5. "Of which we cannot now", &c. As nothing can satisfy, curious
men, the apostle cuts off every occasion for refinements unsuitable to
his present purpose, and lest a longer discussion of these things should
break off the thread of his argument. If, therefore, any one should
disregard the Apostle's example, and dwell more minutely on the subject,
he would be acting very unreasonably. There might be, indeed, an occasion
for doing this elsewhere; but it is now better to attend to the subject
of which he treats: it may further be said, that to philosophize beyond
just limits, which some do, is not only useless, but also dangerous.
There are some things which are not obscure and fitted for the
edification of faith; but discretion and sobriety ought to be observed,
lest we seek to be wise above what God has been pleased to reveal.

=====> 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went
always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God].
9:7 But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not
without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the
people:
9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all
was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet
standing:
9:9 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered
both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service
perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
9:10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and
carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.
9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a
greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say,
not of this building;
9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he
entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption
[for us].

=====> 9:6. "Now, when these things were thus ordained", &c. Omitting
other things, he undertakes to handle the chief point in dispute: he says
that the priests who performed sacred rites were wont to enter the first
tabernacle daily, but that the chief priest entered the holy of holies
only yearly with the appointed sacrifice. He hence concludes, that while
the tabernacle under the Law was standing, the sanctuary was closed up,
and that only through that being removed could the way be open for us to
the kingdom of God. We see that the very form of the ancient tabernacle
reminded the Jews that they were to look for something else. Then
foolishly did they act who, by retaining the shadows of the Law, wilfully
obstructed their own way.
    He mentions |protoon skenen|, the first tabernacle, in ver. 2, in a
different sense from what it has here, for here it means the first
sanctuary, but there the whole tabernacle; for he sets it in opposition
to the spiritual sanctuary of Christ, which he presently mentions. He
contends that this had fallen for our great benefit, for through its fall
a more familiar access to God has been obtained for us.
=====> 9:7. "For himself and for the errors of the people", or for his
own and the ignorances of the people. As the verb |shagag|, means in
Hebrew to err, to mistake, so |shgagah|, derived from it, properly
denotes error, or mistake; but yet it is generally taken for any kind of
sin; and doubtless we never sin except when deceived by the allurements
of Satan. The Apostle does not understand by it mere ignorance, as they
say, but, on the contrary, he includes also voluntary sins; but as I have
already said, no sin is free from error or ignorance; for however
knowingly and wilfully any one may sin, yet it must be that he is blinded
by his lust, so that he does not judge rightly, or rather he forgets
himself and God; for men never deliberately rush headlong into ruin, but
being entangled in the deceptions of Satan, they lose the power of
judging rightly.
=====> 9:9. "Which was a figure", &c. The word |parathole|, used here,
signifies, as I think, the same thing with |antitupos|, antitype; for he
means that that tabernacle was a second pattern which corresponded with
the first. For the portrait of a man ought to be so like the man himself,
that when seen, it ought immediately to remind us of him whom it
represents. He says further, that it was a "figure", or likeness, "for
the time then present", that is, as long as the external observance was
in force; and he says this in order to confine its use and duration to
the time of the Law; for it means the same with what he afterwards adds,
that all the ceremonies were imposed until the time of reformation; nor
is it any objection that he uses the present tense in saying, "gifts are
offered"; for as he had to do with the Jews, he speaks by way of
concession, as though he were one of those who sacrificed. "Gifts" and
"sacrifices" differ, as the first is a general term, and the other is
particular.
    "That could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining
to the conscience"; that is, they did not reach the soul so as to confer
true holiness. I do not reject the words, "make perfect", and yet I
prefer the term "sanctify", as being more suitable to the context. But
that readers may better understand the meaning of the Apostle, let the
contrast between the flesh and the conscience be noticed; he denies that
worshippers could be spiritually and inwardly cleansed by the sacrifices
of the Law. It is added as a reason, that all these rites were of the
flesh or carnal. What then does he allow them to be? It is commonly
supposed, that they were useful only as means of training to men,
conducive to virtue and decorum. But they who thus think do not
sufficiently consider the promises which are added. This gloss,
therefore, ought to be wholly repudiated. Absurdly and ignorantly too do
they interpret "the ordinances of the flesh", as being such as cleansed
or sanctified only the body; for the Apostle understands by these words
that they were earthly symbols, which did not reach the soul; for though
they were true testimonies of perfect holiness, yet they by no means
contained it in themselves, nor could they convey it to men; for the
faithful were by such helps led, as it were, by the hand to Christ, that
they might obtain from him what was wanting in the symbols.
    Were any one to ask why the Apostle speaks with so little respect and
even with contempt of Sacraments divinely instituted, and extenuates
their efficacy? This he does, because he separates them from Christ; and
we know that when viewed in themselves they are but beggarly elements, as
Paul calls them. (Gal. 4: 9.) 
=====> 9:10. "Until the time of reformation", &c. Here he alludes to the
prophecy of Jeremiah. (Jer. 31: 37.) The new covenant succeeded the old
as a reformation. He expressly mentions "meats" and "drinks", and other
things of minor importance, because by these trifling observances a more
certain opinion may be formed how far short was the Law of the perfection
of the Gospel.
=====> 9:11. "But Christ being come", &c. He now sets before us the
reality of the things under the Law, that it may turn our eyes from them
to itself; for he who believes that the things then shadowed forth under
the Law have been really found in Christ, will no longer cleave to the
shadows, but will embrace the substance and the genuine reality.
    But the particulars of the comparison between Christ and the ancient
high priest, ought to be carefully noticed. He had said that the high
priest alone entered the sanctuary once a year with blood to expiate
sins. Christ is in this life the ancient high priests for he alone
possesses the dignity and the office of a high priest; but he differs
from him in this respect, that he brings with him eternal blessings which
secure a perpetuity to his priesthood. Secondly, there is this likeness
between the ancient high priest and ours, that both entered the holy of
holies through the sanctuary; but they differ in this, that Christ alone
entered into heaven through the temple of his own body. That the holy of
holies was once every year opened to the high priest to make the
appointed expiation - this obscurely prefigured the one true sacrifice of
Christ. To enter once then was common to both, but to the earthly it was
every year, while it was to the heavenly forever, even to the end of the
world. The offering of blood was common to both; but there was a great
difference as to the blood; for Christ offered, not the blood of beasts,
but his own blood. Expiation was common to both; but that according to
the Law, as it was inefficacious, was repeated every year; but the
expiation made by Christ is always effectual and is the cause of eternal
salvation to us. Thus, there is great importance almost in every word.
Some render the words, "But Christ standing by," or asking; but the
meaning of the Apostle is not thus expressed; for he intimates that when
the Levitical priests had for the prefixed time performed their office,
Christ came in their place, according to what we found in the seventh
chapter.
    "Of good things to come", &c. Take these for eternal things; for as
|melloon kairos|, time to come, is set in opposition to the present |tooi
enestekoti|; so future blessings are to the present. The meaning is, that
we are led by Christ's priesthood into the celestial kingdom of God, and
that we are made partakers of spiritual righteousness and of eternal
life, so that it is not right to desire anything better. Christ alone,
then, has that by which he can retain and satisfy us in himself.
    "By a greater and more perfect tabernacle", &c. Though this passage
is variously explained, yet I have no doubt but that he means the body of
Christ; for as there was formerly an access for the Levitical high priest
to the holy of holies through the sanctuary, so Christ through his own
body entered into the glory of heaven; for as he had put on our flesh and
in it suffered, he obtained for himself this privilege, that he should
appear before God as a Mediator for us. In the first place, the word
sanctuary is fitly and suitably applied to the body of Christ, for it is
the temple in which the whole majesty of God dwells. He is further said
to have made a way for us by his body to ascend into heaven, because in
that body he consecrated himself to God, he became in it sanctified to be
our true righteousness, he prepared himself in it to offer a sacrifice;
in a word, he made himself in it of no reputation, and suffered the death
of the cross; therefore, the Father highly exalted him and gave him a
name above every name, that every knee should bow to him. (Phil. 2:
8-10.) He then entered into heaven through his own body, because on this
account it is that he now sits at the Father's right hand; he for this
reason intercedes for us in heaven, because he had put on our flesh, and
consecrated it as a temple to God the Father, and in it sanctified
himself to obtain for us an eternal righteousness, having made an
expiation for our sins.
    It may however seem strange, that he denies the body of Christ to be
of this building; for doubtless he proceeded from the seed of Abraham,
and was liable to sufferings and to death. To this I reply, that he
speaks not here of his material body, or of what belongs to the body as
such, but of the spiritual efficacy which emanates from it to us. For as
far as Christ's flesh is quickening, and is a heavenly food to nourish
souls, as far as his blood is a spiritual drink and has a cleansing
power, we are not to imagine anything earthly or material as being in
them. And then we must remember that this is said in allusion to the
ancient tabernacle, which was made of wood, brass, skins, silver, and
gold, which were all dead things; but the power of God made the flesh of
Christ to be a living and spiritual temple.
=====> 9:12. "Neither by the blood of goats", &c. All these things tend
to show that the things of Christ so far excel the shadows of the Law,
that they justly reduce them all to nothing. For what is the value of
Christ's blood, if it be deemed no better than the blood of beasts? What
sort of expiation was made by his death, if the purgations according to
the Law be still retained? As soon then as Christ came forth with the
efficacious influence of his death, all the typical observances must
necessarily have ceased.

=====> 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an
heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal
Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from
dead works to serve the living God?
9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by
means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were]
under the first testament, they which are called might receive the
promise of eternal inheritance.
9:16 For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the
death of the testator.
9:17 For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of
no strength at all while the testator liveth.

=====> 9:13. "For if the blood of bulls", &c. This passable has given to
many all occasion to go astray, because they did not consider that
sacraments are spoken of, which had a spiritual import. The cleansing of
the flesh they leave explained of what avails among men, as the heathens
had their expiations to blot out the infamy of crimes. But this
explanation is indeed very heathenish; for wrong is done to God's
promises, if we restrict the effect to civil matters only. Often does
this declaration occur in the writings of Moses, that iniquity was
expiated when a sacrifice was duly offered. This is no doubt the
spiritual teaching of faith. Besides, all the sacrifices where destined
for this end, that they might lead men to Christ; as the eternal
salvation of the soul is through Christ, so these were true witnesses of
this salvation.
    What then does the Apostle mean when he speaks of the purgations of
the flesh? He means what is symbolical or sacramental, as follows, - If
the blood of beasts was a true symbol of purgation, so that it cleansed
in a sacramental manner, how much more shall Christ who is himself the
truth, not only bear witness to a purgation by an external rite, but also
really perform this for consciences? The argument then is from the signs
to the thing signified; for the effect by a long time preceded the
reality of the signs.
=====> 9:14. "Who through the eternal Spirit", &c. He now clearly shows
how Christ's death is to be estimated, not by the external act, but by
the power of the Spirit. For Christ suffered as man; but that death
becomes saving to us through the efficacious power of the Spirit; for a
sacrifice, which was to the an eternal expiation, was a work more than
human. And he calls the Spirit "eternal" for this reason, that we may
know that the reconciliation, of which he is the worker or effecter, is
eternal. By saying, "without spot", or unblamable, though he alludes to
the victims under the Law, which were not to have a blemish or defect, he
yet means, that Christ alone was the lawful victim and capable of
appeasing God; for there was always in others something that might be
justly deemed wanting; and hence he said before that the covenant of the
Law was not |emempton|, blameless.
    "From dead works", &c. Understand by these either such works as
produce death, or such as are the fruits or effects of death; for as the
life of the soul is our union with God, so they who are alienated from
him through sin may be justly deemed to be dead. 
    "To serve the living God". This, we must observe, is the end of our
purgation; for we are not washed by Christ, that we may plunge ourselves
again into new filth, but that our purity may serve to glorify God.
Besides, he teaches us, that nothing can proceed from us that can be
pleasing to God until we are purified by the blood of Christ; for as we
are all enemies to God before our reconciliation, so he regards as
abominable all our worlds; hence the beginning of acceptable service is
reconciliation. And then, as no work is so pure and so free from stains,
that it can of itself please God, it is necessary that the purgation
through the blood of Christ should intervene, which alone can efface all
stains. And there is a striking contrast between the living God and dead
works.
=====> 9:15. "And for this cause he is Mediator of the New Testament",
&c. He concludes that there is no more need of another priest, for Christ
fulfils the office under the New Testament; for he claims not for Christ
the honour of a Mediator, so that others may at the same time remain as
such with him; but he maintains that all others were repudiated when
Christ undertook the office. But that he might more fully confirm this
fact, he mentions how he commenced to discharge his office of a Mediator;
even through death intervening. Since this is found alone in Christ,
being wanting in all others, it follows that he alone can be justly
deemed a Mediator.
    He further records the virtue and efficacy of his death by saying
that he paid the price for sins under the "first covenant" or testament,
which could not be blotted out by the blood of beasts; by which words he
was seeking draw away the Jews from the Law to Christ. For, if the Law
was so weak that all the remedies it applied for expiating sins did by no
means accomplish what they represented, who could rest in it as in a safe
harbor? This one thing, then, ought to have been enough to stimulate them
to seek for something better than the law; for they could not but be in
perpetual anxiety. On the other hand, when we come to Christ, as we
obtain in him a full redemption, there is nothing which can any more
distress us. Then, in these words he shows that the Law is weak, that the
Jews might no longer recumb on it; and he teaches them to rely on Christ,
for in him is found whatever can be desired for pacifying consciences.
    Now, if any one asks, whether sins under the Law where remitted to
the fathers, we must bear in mind the solution already stated, - that
they were remitted, but remitted through Christ. Then notwithstanding
their external expiations, they were always held guilty. For this reason
Paul says, that the Law was a handwriting against us. (Col. 2: 14.) For
when the sinner came forward and openly confessed that he was guilty
before God, and acknowledged by sacrificing an innocent animal that he
was worthy of eternal death, what did he obtain by his victim, except
that he sealed his own death as it were by this handwriting? In short,
even then they only reposed in the remission of sins, when they looked to
Christ. But if only a regard to Christ took away sins, they could never
have been freed from them, had they continued to rest in the Law. David
indeed declares, that blessed is the man to whom sins are not imputed,
(Ps. 32: 2;) but that he might be a partaker of this blessedness, it was
necessary for him to leave the Law, and to have his eyes fixed on Christ;
for if he rested in the Law, he could never have been freed from guilt.
    "They who are called", &c. The object of the divine covenant is, that
having been adopted as children, we may at length be made heirs of
eternal life. The Apostle teaches us that we obtain this by Christ. It is
hence evident, that in him is the fulfilment of the covenant. But the
"promise of the inheritance" is to be taken for the promised inheritance,
as though he had said, "The promise of eternal life is not otherwise made
to us to be enjoined, than through the death of Christ." Life, indeed,
was formerly promised to the fathers, and the same has been the
inheritance of God's children from the beginning, but we do not otherwise
enter into the possession of it, than through the blood of Christ
previously shed.
    But he speaks of the "called", that he might the more influence the
Jews who were made partakers of this calling; for it is a singular
favour, when we have the gift of the knowledge of Christ bestowed on us.
We ought then to take the more heed, lest we neglect so valuable a
treasure, and our thoughts should wander elsewhere. Some regard the
"called" to be the elect, but incorrectly in my judgment; for the Apostle
teaches here the same thing as we find in Rom. 3: 25, that righteousness
and salvation have been procured by the blood of Christ, but that we
become partakers of them by faith.
=====> 9:16. "For where a testament is", &c. Even this one passage is a
sufficient proof, that this Epistle was not written in Hebrew; for
|berit| means in Hebrew a covenant, but not a testament; but in Greek,
|diatheke| includes both ideas; and the Apostle, alluding to its
secondary meaning, holds that the promises should not have been otherwise
ratified and valid, had they not been sealed by the death of Christ. And
this he proves by referring to what is usually the case as to wills or
testaments, the effect of which is suspended until the death of those
whose wills they are.
    The Apostle may yet seem to rest on too weak an argument, so that
what he says may be easily disproved. For it may be said, that God made
no testament or will under the Law; but it was a covenant that he made
with the ancient people. Thus, neither from the fact nor from the name,
can it be concluded that Christ's death was necessary. For if he infers
from the fact, that Christ ought to have died, because a testament is not
ratified except by the death of the testator, the answer may be this,
that |berit|, the word ever used by Moses, is a covenant made between
those who are alive, and we cannot think otherwise of the fact itself.
Now, as to the word used, he simply alluded, as I have already said, to
the two meanings it has in Greek; he therefore dwells chiefly on the
thing in itself. Nor is it any objection to say, that it was a covenant
that God made with his people; for that very covenant bore some likeness
to a testament, for it was ratified by blood.
    We must ever hold this truth, that no symbols have ever been adopted
by God unnecessarily or unsuitably. And God in establishing the covenant
of the law made use of blood. Then it was not such a contract, as they
say, between the living, as did not require death. Besides, what rightly
belongs to a testament is, that it begins to take effect after  death. If
we consider that the Apostle reasons from the thing itself, and not from
the word, and if we bear in mind that he avowedly takes as granted what I
have already stated, that nothing has been instituted in vain by God,
there will be no great difficulty.
    If anyone objects and says, that the heathens ratified covenants
according to the other meaning by sacrifices; this indeed I admit to be
true; but God did not borrow the rite of sacrificing from the practice of
the heathens; on the contrary, all the heathen sacrifices were
corruptions, which had derived their origin from the institutions of God.
We must then return to the same point, that the covenant of God which was
made with blood, may be fitly compared to a testament, as it is of the
same kind and character.

=====> 9:18 Whereupon neither the first [testament] was dedicated without
blood.
9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according
to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and
scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the
people,
9:20 Saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined
unto you.
9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the
vessels of the ministry.
9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without
shedding of blood is no remission.
9:23 [It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the
heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves
with better sacrifices than these.

=====> 9:18. "Whereupon neither the first", &c. It hence appears that the
fact is what is mainly urged, and that it is not a question about the
word, though the Apostle turned to his own purpose a word presented to
his attention in that language in which he wrote, as though one, while
speaking of God's covenant, which is often called in Greek |marturia|, a
testimony, were to recommend it among other things under that title. And
doubtless that is a testimony, |marturia|, to which angels from heaven
has borne witness, and of which there have been so many illustrious
witnesses on earth, even all the holy Prophets, Apostles, and a vast
number of martyrs, and of which at last the Son of God himself became a
surety. No one in such a discourse would deem any such thing as
unreasonable. And yet the Hebrew word, |t'udah| will admit of no such
meaning as a covenant; but as nothing is advanced but what is consistent
with the thing itself, no scrupulous regard is to be paid to the meaning
of a word.
    The Apostle then says, that the old testament or covenant was
"dedicated with blood". He hence concludes, that men were even then
reminded, that it could not be valid and efficacious except death
intervened. For though the blood of beasts was then shed, yet, he denies
that it availed to confine an everlasting covenant. That this may appear
more clearly, we must notice the custom of sprinkling which he quotes
from Moses. He first teaches us that the covenant was dedicated or
consecrated, not that it had in itself anything profane; but as there is
nothing so holy that men by their uncleanness will not defile, except God
prevents it by making a renewal of all things, therefore the dedication
was made on account of men, who alone wanted it.
    He afterwards adds, that the "tabernacle and all the vessels", and
also the very "book" of the law, were "sprinkled"; by which rite the
people were then taught, that God could not be sought or looked to for
salvation, nor rightly worshipped, except faith in every case looked to
an intervening blood. For the majesty of God is justly to be dreaded by
us, and the way to his presences is nothing to us but a dangerous
labyrinth, until we know that he is pacified towards us through the blood
of Christ, and that this blood affords to us a free access. All kinds of
worship are then faulty and impure until Christ cleanses them by the
sprinkling of his blood.
    For the tabernacle was a sort of visible image of God; and as the
vessels for ministering were destined for his service, so they were
symbols of true worship. But since none of these ω were for salvation to
the people, we hence reasonably conclude, that where Christ does not
appear with his blood, we have nothing to do with God. So doctrine
itself, however unchangeable may be the will of God, cannot be
efficacious for our benefit, unless it be dedicated by blood, as is
plainly set forth in this verse.
    I know that others give a different interpretation; for they consider
the tabernacle to be the body of the Church, and vessels the faithful,
whose ministry God employs; but what I have stated is much more
appropriate. For whenever God was to be called upon, they turned
themselves to the sanctuary; and it was a common way of speaking to say
that they stood before the Lord when they appeared in the temple.
=====> 9:20. "Saying, This is the blood of the testament", &c. If that
was the blood of the testament, then neither the testament was without
blood ratified, nor the blood without the testament available for
expiation. It is hence necessary that both should be united; and we see
that before the explanation of the Law, no symbol was added, for what
would a sacrament be except the word preceded it? Hence a symbol is a
kind of appendage to the word. And mark, this word was not whispered like
a magic incantation, but pronounced with a clear voice, as it was
destined for the people, according to what the words of the covenant
express, "which God hath enjoined unto you". Perverted, then, are the
sacraments, and it is a wicked corruption when there is no explanation of
the commandment given, which is as it were the very soul of the
sacrament. Hence the Papists, who take away the true understanding of
things from signs, retain only dead elements.
    This passage reminds us that the promises of God are then only
profitable to us when they are confirmed by the blood of Christ. For what
Paul testifies in 2 Cor. 1: 20, that all God's promises are yea and amen
in Christ - this happens when his blood like a seal is engraven on our
hearts, or when we not only hear God speaking, but also see Christ
offering himself as a pledge for those things which are spoken. If this
thought only came to our minds, that what we read is not written so much
with ink as with the blood of Christ, that when the Gospel is preached,
his sacred blood distils together with the voice, there would be far
greater attention as well as reverence on our part. A symbol of this was
the sprinkling mentioned by Moses!
    At the same time there is more stated here than what is expressed by
Moses; for he does not mention that the book and the people were
sprinkled, nor does he name the goats, nor the "scarlet wool", nor the
"hyssop". As to the book, that it was sprinkled cannot be clearly shown,
yet the probability is that it was, for Moses is said to have produced it
after he had sacrificed; and he did this when he bound the people to God
by a solemn compact. With regard to the rest, the Apostle seems to have
blended together various kinds of expiations, the reason for which was
the same. Nor indeed was there anything unsuitable in this, since he was
speaking of the general subject Or purgation under the Old Testament,
which was done by means of blood. Now as to the sprinkling made by hyssop
and scarlet wool, it is evident that it represented the mystical
sprinkling made by the Spirit. We know that the hyssop possesses a
singular power to cleanse and to purify; so Christ employs his Spirit to
sprinkle us in order to wash us by his own blood when he leads us to true
repentance, when he purifies us from the depraved lusts of our flesh,
when he imbues us with the precious gift of his own righteousness. For it
was not in vain that God had instituted this rite. David also alluded to
this when he said, "Thou wilt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I
shall be cleansed." (Ps. 51: 7.) These remarks will be sufficient for
those who wish to be sober-minded in their speculations.
=====> 9:22. "And almost all things", &c. By saying "almost" he seems to
imply that some things were otherwise purified. And doubtless they often
washed themselves and other unclean things with water. But even water
itself derived its power to cleanse from the sacrifices; so that the
Apostle at length truly declares that without blood there was no
remission. Then uncleanness was imputed until it was expiated by a
sacrifice. And as without Christ there is no purity nor salvation, so
nothing without blood can be either pure or saving; for Christ is never
to be separated from the sacrifice of his death. But the Apostle meant
only to say that this symbol was almost always made use of. But if at any
time the purgation was not so made, it was nevertheless through blood,
since all the rites derived their efficacy in a manner from the general
expiation. For the people were not each of them sprinkled, (for how could
so small a portion of blood be sufficient for so large a multitude?) yet
the purgation extended to all. Hence the particle almost signifies the
same as though he had said, that the use of this rite was so common that
they seldom omitted it in purgations. For what Chrysostom says, that
unfitness is thus denoted, because these were only figures under the Law,
is inconsistent with the Apostle's design.
    "No remission", &c. Thus men are prevented from appearing before God;
for as he is justly displeased with them all, there is no ground for them
to promise themselves any favour until he is pacified. But there is but
one way of pacification, and that is by an expiation made by blood: hence
no pardon of sins can be hoped for unless we bring blood, and this is
done when we flee by faith to the death of Christ.
=====> 9:23. "The patterns", or exemplars, &c. Lest any one should object
and say that the blood by which the old testament was dedicated was
different from that of a testator, the Apostle meets this objection, and
says that it was no wonder that the tabernacle which was earthly was
consecrated by the sacrificing of beasts; for there was an analogy and a
likeness between the purification and the things purified. But the
heavenly pattern or exemplar of which he now speaks was to be consecrated
in a very different way; there was here no need of goats or of calves. It
hence follows that the death of the testator was necessary.
    The meaning then is this, - as under the Law there were only earthly
images of spiritual things, so the rite of expiation was also, so to
speak, carnal and figurative; but as the heavenly pattern allows of
nothing earthly, so it requires another blood than that of beasts, such
as may correspond with its excellency. Thus the death of the testator is
necessary, in order that the testament may be really consecrated.
    He calls the kingdom of Christ "heavenly things", for it is spiritual
and possesses a full revelation of the truth. Better "sacrifices" he
mentions instead of "a better sacrifice," for it was only one; but he
uses the plural number for the sake of the antithesis or contrast.

=====> 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with
hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now
to appear in the presence of God for us:
9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest
entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the
world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away
sin by the sacrifice of himself.
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
judgment:
9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them
that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto
salvation.

=====> 9:24. "For Christ is not entered", &c. This is a confirmation of
the former verse. He had spoken of the true sanctuary, even the heavenly;
he now adds that Christ entered there. It hence follows that a suitable
confirmation is required. "The holy places" he takes for the sanctuary;
he says that it is "not made with hands", because it ought not to be
classed with the created things which are subject to decay; for he does
not mean here the "heaven" we see, and in which the stars shine, but the
glorious kingdom of God which is above all the heavens. He calls the old
sanctuary the |antitupon|, the antitype of the true, that is, of the
spiritual; for all the external figures represented as in a mirror what
would have otherwise been above our corporeal senses. Greek writers
sometimes use the same word in speaking of our sacraments, and wisely too
and suitably, for every sacrament is a visible image of what is
invisible.
    "Now to appear", &c. So formerly the Levitical priest stood before
God in the name of the people, but typically; for in Christ is found the
reality and the full accomplishment of what was typified. The ark was
indeed a symbol of the divine presence; But it is Christ who really
presents himself before God, and stands there to obtain favour for us, so
that now there is no reason why we should flee from God's tribunal, since
we have so kind an advocate, through whose faithfulness and protection we
are made secure and safe. Christ was indeed our advocate when he was on
earth; but it was a further concession made to our infirmity that he
ascended into heaven to undertake there the office of an advocate. So
that whenever mention is made of his ascension into heaven, this benefit
ought ever to come to our minds, that he appears there before God to
defend us by his advocacy. Foolishly, then, and unreasonably the question
is asked by some, has he not always appeared there? For the Apostle
speaks here only of his intercession, for the sake of which he entered
the heavenly sanctuary.
=====> 9:25. "Nor yet that he should offer himself often", &c. How, then,
is he a priest, one may say, if he offers no sacrifices? To this I reply
that it is not requited of a priest that he should be continually
sacrificing; for even under the Law there were days appointed for the
chief sacrifices every year; they had also their hours daily morning and
evening. But as that only true sacrifice which Christ offered once for
all is ever efficacious, and thus perpetual in its effects, it is no
wonder that on its virtue, which never fails, Christ's eternal priesthood
should be sustained. And here again he shows how and in what things
Christ differs from the Levitical priest. Of the sanctuary he had spoken
before; but he notices one difference as to the kind of sacrifice, for
Christ offered himself and not an animal; and he adds another; that he
repeated not his sacrifice, as under the Law, for the repetition there
was frequent and even incessant.
=====> 9:26. "For then must he often have suffered", &c. He shows how
great an absurdity follows, if we do not count it enough that an
expiation has been made by the one sacrifice of Christ. For he hence
concludes that he must have died often; for death is connected with
sacrifices. How this latter supposition is most unreasonable; it then
follows that the virtue of the one sacrifice is eternal and extends to
all ages. And he says "since the foundation of the world", or from the
beginning of the world for in all ages from the beginning there were sins
which needed expiation. Except then the sacrifice of Christ was
efficacious, no one of the fathers would have obtained salvation; for as
they were exposed to God's wrath, a remedy for deliverance would have
failed them, had not Christ by suffering once suffered so much as was
necessary to reconcile men to God from the beginning of the world even to
the end. Except then we look for many deaths, we must be satisfied with
the one true sacrifice.
    And hence it is evident how frivolous is the distinction, in the
acuteness of which the Papists take so much delight; for they say that
the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was bloody, but that the sacrifice
of the mass which they pretend to offer daily to God, is unbloody. Were
this subtle evasion adopted, then the Spirit o God would be accused of
inadvertence, having not thought of such a thing; for the Apostle assumes
it here as an admitted truth, that there is no sacrifice without death. I
care nothing that ancient writers have spoken thus; for it is not in the
power of men to invent sacrifices as they please. Here stands a truth
declared by the Hoist Spirit, that sins are not expiated by a sacrifice
except blood be shed. Therefore the notion, that Christ is often offered,
is a device of the devil.
    "But now once in the end of the world", &c. He calls that the end of
the world or the consummation of the ages, which Paul calls "the fulness
of time," (Gal. 4: 4;) for it was the maturity of that time which God had
determined in his eternal purpose; and thus cut off is every occasion for
men's curiosity, that they may not dare to inquire why it was no sooner,
or why in that age rather than in another. For it behoves us to acquiesce
in God's secret purpose, the reason for which appears clear to him,
though it may not be evident to us. In short, the Apostle intimates that
Christ's death was in due time, as he was sent into the world for this
end by the Father, in whose power is the lawful right to regulate all
things as well as time, and who ordains their succession with consummate
wisdom, though often hid from us
    This consummation is also set in opposition to the imperfection of
past time; for God so held his ancient people in suspense, that it might
have been easily concluded that things had not yet reached a fixed state.
Hence Paul declares that the end of the ages had come upon us, (1 Cor.
10: 11;) by which he means that the kingdom of Christ contained the
accomplishment of all things. But since it was the fulness of time when
Christ appeared to expiate sins, they are guilty of offering him an
atrocious insult, who seek to renew his sacrifice, as though all things
were not completed by his death. He then appeared once for all; for had
he done so once or twice, there must have been something defective in the
first oblation; but this is inconsistent with fulness.
    "To put away", or to destroy sin, &c. This agrees with Daniel's
prophecy, in which the sealing up and the abolition of sins are promised,
and in which it is also declared that there would be an end to
sacrifices, (Dan. 9: 24-27;) for to what purpose are expiations when sins
are destroyed? But this destruction is then only effected, when sins are
not imputed to those who flee to the sacrifice of Christ; for though
pardon is to be sought daily, as we daily provoke God's wrath; yet as we
are reconciled to God in no other way than by the one death of Christ,
sin is rightly said to be put away or destroyed by it. 
=====> 9:27. "And as it is appointed", &c. The meaning is this: since we
patiently wait after death for the day of judgment, it being the common
lot of nature which it is not right to struggle against; why should there
be less patience in waiting for the second coming of Christ? For if a
long interval of time does not diminish, as to men, the hope of a happy
resurrection, how unreasonable would it be to render less honour to
Christ? But less would it be, were we to call upon him to undergo a
second death, when he had once died. Were any one to object and say, that
some had died twice, such as Lazarus, and not "once"; the answer would be
this, - that the Apostle speaks here of the ordinary lot of men; but they
are to be excepted from this condition, who shall by an instantaneous
change put corruption, (I Cor. 15: 51;) for he includes none but those
who wait for a long time in the dust for the redemption of their bodies.
=====> 9:28. "The second time without sin", &c. The Apostle urges this
one thing, - that we ought not to be disquieted by vain and impure
longings for new kinds of expiations, for the death of Christ is
abundantly sufficient for us. Hence he says, that he once appeared and
made a sacrifice to abolish sins, and that at his second coming he will
make openly manifest the efficacy of his death, so that sin will have no
more power to hurt us.
    "To bear", or, take away sins, is to free from guilt by his
satisfaction those who have sinned. He says the sins of "many", that is,
of all, as in Rom. 5: 15. It is yet certain that all receive no benefit
from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief
prevents them. At the same time this question is not to be discussed
here, for the Apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom
the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died
for others and not for himself; and therefore he opposes many to one.
    But what does he mean by saying that Christ will "appear without
sin"? Some say, without a propitiation or an expiatory sacrifice for sin,
as the word sin is taken in Rom. 8: 3; 2 Cor. 5: 21; and in many places
in the writings of Moses; but in my judgment he intended to express
something more suitable to his present purpose, namely, that Christ at
his coming will make it known how truly and really he had taken away
sins, so that there would be no need of any other sacrifice to pacify
God; as though he had said, "When we come to the tribunal of Christ, we
shall find that there was nothing wanting in his death."
    And to the same effect is what he Immediately adds, "unto salvation
to them who look", or wait "for him". Others render the sentence
differently, "To them who look for him unto salvation;" But the other
meaning is the most appropriate; for he means that those shall find
complete salvation who recumb with quiet minds on the death of Christ;
for this looking for or wanting has a reference to the subject discussed.
The Scripture indeed does elsewhere ascribe this in common to believers,
that they look for the coming of the Lord, in order to distinguish them
from the ungodly, by whom his coming is dreaded, (1 Thess. 1: 10;) but as
the Apostle now contends that we ought to acquiesce in the one true
sacrifice of Christ, he calls it the looking for Christ, when we are
satisfied with his redemption alone, and seek no other remedies or helps.


Chapter 10

=====> 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not
the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they
offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the
worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
10:3 But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of
sins every year.
10:4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should
take away sins.

=====> 10:1. "For the Law having a shadow", &c. He has borrowed this
similitude from the pictorial art; for a shadow here is in a sense
different from what it has in Col. 2: 17; where he calls the ancient
rites or ceremonies shadows, because they did not possess the real
substance of what they represented. But he now says that they were like
rude lineaments, which shadow forth the perfect picture; for painters,
before they introduce the living colours by the pencil, are wont to mark
out the outlines of what their intend to represent. This indistinct
representation is called by the Greeks |skiagrafia|, which you might call
in Latin, "umbratilem", shadowy. The Greeks had also the |eikoon|, the
full likeness. Hence also "eiconia" are called images (imagines) in
Latin, which represent to the life the form of men or of animals or of
places.
    The difference then which the Apostle makes between the Law and the
Gospel is this, - that under the Law was shadowed forth only in rude and
imperfect lines what is under the Gospel set forth in living colours and
graphically distinct. He thus confirms again what he had previously said,
that the Law was not useless, nor its ceremonies unprofitable. For though
there was not in them the image of heavenly things, finished, as their
say, by the last touch of the artist; yet the representation, such as it
was, was of no small benefit to the fathers; but still our condition is
much more favourable. We must however observe, that the things which were
shown to them at a distance are the same with those which are now set
before our eyes. Hence to both the same Christ is exhibited, the same
righteousness, sanctification, and salvation; and the difference only is
in the manner of painting or setting them forth. 
    "Of good things to come", &c. These, I think, are eternal things. I
indeed allow that the kingdom of Christ, which is now present with us,
was formerly announced as future; but the Apostle's words mean that we
have a lively image of future blessings. He then understands that
spiritual pattern, the full fruition of which is deferred to the
resurrection and the future world. At the same time I confess again that
these good things began to be revealed at the beginning of the kingdom of
Christ; but what he now treats of is this, that they are not only future
blessings as to the Old Testament, but also with respect to us, who still
hope for them. 
    "Which they offered year by year", &c. He speaks especially of the
yearly sacrifice, mentioned in Lev. 17, though all the sacrifices are
here included under one kind. Now he reasons thus: When there is no
longer any consciousness of sin, there is then no need of sacrifice; but
under the Law the offering of the same sacrifice was often repeated; then
no satisfaction was given to God, nor was guilt removed nor were
consciences appeased; were it otherwise there would have been made an end
of sacrificing. We must further carefully observe, that he calls those
the same sacrifices which were appointed for a similar purpose; for a
better notion may be formed of them by the design for which God
instituted them, than by the different beasts which were offered.
    And this one thing is abundantly sufficient to confute and expose the
subtlety of the Papists, by which they seem to themselves ingeniously to
evade an absurdity in defending the sacrifice of the mass; for when it is
objected to them that the repetition of the sacrifice is superfluous,
since the virtue of that sacrifice which Christ offered is perpetual,
they immediately reply that the sacrifice in the mass is not different
but the same. This is their answer. But what, on the contrary, does the
Apostle say? He expressly denies that the sacrifice which is repeatedly
offered, though the same, is efficacious or capable of making an
atonement. Now, though the Papists should cry out a thousand times that
the sacrifice which Christ once offered is the same with, and not
different from what they make daily, I shall still always contend,
according to the express words of the Apostle, that since the offerings
of Christ availed to pacify God, not only an end was put to former
sacrifices, but that it is also impious to repeat the sacrifice. It is
hence quite evident that the offering of Christ in the mass is
sacrilegious.
=====> 10:3. "A remembrance again", &c. Though the Gospel is a message of
reconciliation with God, yet it is necessary that we should daily
remember our sins; but what the Apostle means is, that sins were brought
to remembrance that guilt might be removed by the means of the sacrifice
then offered. It is not, then, any kind of remembrance that is here
meant, but that which might lead to such a confession of guilt before
God, as rendered a sacrifice necessary for its removal.
    Such is the sacrifice of the mass with the Papists; for they pretend
that by it the grace of God is applied to us in order that sins may be
blotted out. But since the Apostle concludes that the sacrifices of the
Law were weak, because they were every year repeated in order to obtain
pardon, for the very same reason it may be concluded that the sacrifice
of Christ was weak, if it must be daily offered, in order that its virtue
may be applied to us. With whatever masks, then, they may cover their
mass, they can never escape the charge of an atrocious blasphemy against
Christ.
=====> 10:4. "For it is not possible", &c. He confirms the former
sentiment with the same reason which he had adduced before, that the
blood of beasts could not cleanse souls from sin. The Jews, indeed, had
in this a symbol and a pledge of the real cleansing; but it was with
reference to another, even as the blood of the calf represented the blood
of Christ. But the Apostle is speaking here of the efficacy of the blood
of beasts in itself. He therefore justly takes away from it the power of
cleansing. There is also to be understood a contrast which is not
expressed, as though he had said, "It is no wonder that the ancient
sacrifices were insufficient, so that they were to be offered
continually, for they had nothing in them but the blood of beasts, which
could not reach the conscience; but far otherwise is the power of
Christ's blood: It is not then right to measure the offering which he has
made by the former sacrifices."

=====> 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice
and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
10:6 In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no
pleasure.
10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of
me,) to do thy will, O God.
10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and
[offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein];
which are offered by the law;
10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the
first, that he may establish the second.
10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the
body of Jesus Christ once [for all].

=====> 10:5. "Wherefore, when he comes", &c. This entering into the world
was the manifestation of Christ in the flesh; for when he put on man's
nature that he might be a Redeemer to the world and appeared to men, he
is said to have then come into the world, as elsewhere he is said to have
descended from heaven. (John 6: 41.) And yet the fortieth Psalm, which he
quotes, seems to be improperly applied to Christ, for what is found there
by no means suits his character, such as, "My iniquities have laid hold
on me," except we consider that Christ willingly took on himself the sins
of his members. The whole of what is said, no doubt, rightly accords with
David; but as it is well known that David was a type of Christ, there is
nothing unreasonable in transferring to Christ what David declared
respecting himself, and especially when mention is made of abolishing the
ceremonies of the Law, as the case is in this passage. Yet all do not
consider that the words have this meaning, for they think that sacrifices
are not here expressly repudiated, but that the superstitious notion
which had generally prevailed, that the whole worship of God consisted in
them, is what is condemned; and if it be so, it may be said that this
testimony has little to do with the present question. It behaves us,
then, to examine this passage more minutely, that it may appear evident
whether the apostle has fitly adduced it.
    Everywhere in the Prophets sentences of this kind occur, that
sacrifices do not please God, that they are not required by him, that he
sets no value on them; nay, on the contrary, that they are an abomination
to him. But then the blame was not in the sacrifices themselves, but what
was adventitious to them was referred to; for as hypocrites, while
obstinate in their impiety, still sought to pacify God with sacrifices,
they were in this manner reproved. The Prophets, then, rejected
sacrifices, not as they were instituted by God, but as they were vitiated
by wicked men, and profaned through unclean consciences. But here the
reason is different, for he is not condemning sacrifices offered in
hypocrisy, or otherwise not rightly performed through the depravity and
wickedness of men; but he denies that they are required of the faithful
and sincere worshippers of God; for he speaks of himself who offered them
with a clean heart and pure hands, and yet he says that they did not
please God.
    Were any one to except and say that they were not accepted on their
own account or for their own worthiness, but for the sake of something
else, I should still say that unsuitable to this place is an argument of
this kind; for then would men be called back to spiritual worship, when
ascribing too much to external ceremonies; then the Holy Spirit would be
considered as declaring that ceremonies are nothing with God, when by
men's error they are too highly exalted.
    David, being under the Law, ought not surely to have neglected the
rite of sacrificing. He ought, I allow, to have worshipped God with
sincerity of heart; but it was not lawful for him to omit what God had
commanded, and he had the command to sacrifice in common with all the
rest. We hence conclude that he looked farther than to his own age, when
he said, "Sacrifice thou wouldest not". It was, indeed, in some respects
true, even in David's time, that God regarded not sacrifices; but as they
were yet all held under the yoke of the schoolmaster, David could not
perform the worship of God in a complete manner, unless when clothed, so
to speak, in a form of this kind. We must, then, necessarily come to the
kingdom of Christ, in order that the truth of God's unwillingness to
receive sacrifice may fully appear. There is a similar passage in Ps. 16:
10, "Thou wilt not suffer thine holy one to see corruption;" for though
God delivered David for a time from corruption, yet this was not fully
accomplished except in Christ.
    There is no small importance in this, that when he professes that he
would do the will of God, he assigns no place to sacrifices; for we hence
conclude that without them there may be a perfect obedience to God, which
could not be true were not the Law annulled. I do not, however, deny but
that David in this place, as well as in Ps. 51: 16, so extenuated
external sacrifices as to prefer to them that which is the main thing;
but there is no doubt but that in both places he cast his eyes on the
kingdom of Christ. And thus the Apostle is a witness, that Christ is
justly introduced as the speaker in this Psalm, in which not even the
lowest place among God's commandments is allowed to sacrifices, which God
had yet strictly required under the Law.
    "But a body hast thou prepared me", &c. The words of David are
different, "An ear hast thou bored for me," a phrase which some think has
been borrowed from an ancient rite or custom of the Law, (Exod. 21: 6;)
for if any one set no value on the liberty granted at the jubilee, and
wished to be under perpetual servitude, his ear was bored with an awl.
The meaning, as they thinks was this, "Thou shalt have me, O Lord, as a
servant forever." I, however, take another view, regarding it as
intimating docility and obedience; for we are deaf until God opens our
ears, that is, until he corrects the stubbornness that cleaves to us.
There is at the same time an implied contrast between the promiscuous and
vulgar mass, (to whom the sacrifices were like phantoms without any
power,) and David, to whom God had discovered their spiritual and
legitimate use and application.
    But the Apostle followed the Greek translators when he said, "A body
hast thou prepared;" for in quoting these words the Apostles were not so
scrupulous, provided they perverted not Scripture to their own purpose.
We must always have a regard to the end for which they quote passages,
for they are very careful as to the main object, so as not to turn
Scripture to another meaning; but as to words and other things, which
bear not on the subject in hand, they use great freedom.
=====> 10:7. "In the volume or chapter of the book", &c. Volume is
properly the meaning of the Hebrew word; for we know that books were
formerly rolled up in the form of a cylinder. There is also nothing
unreasonable in understanding book as meaning the Law, which prescribes
to all God's children the rule of a holy life; though it seems to me a
more suitable view to consider him as saying, that he deemed himself to
be in the catalogue of those who render themselves obedient to God. The
Law, indeed, bids us all to obey God; but David means, that he was
numbered among those who are called to obey God; and then he testifies
that he obeyed his vocation, by adding, "I come to do thy will"; and this
peculiarly belongs to Christ. For though all the saints aspire after the
righteousness of God, yet it is Christ alone who was fully competent to
do God's will.
    This passage, however, ought to stimulate us all to render prompt
obedience to God; for Christ is a pattern of perfect obedience for this
end, that all who are his may contend with one another in imitating him,
that they may together respond to the call of God, and that their life
may exemplify this saying, "Lo, I come". To the same purpose is what
follows, "It is written", that is, that we should do the will of God,
according to what is said elsewhere, that the end of our election is, to
be holy and unblamable in his sight. (Col. 1: 22.)
=====> 10:9. "He taketh away", &c. See now why and for what purpose this
passage was quoted, even that we may know that the full and perfect
righteousness under the kingdom of Christ stands in no need of the
sacrifices of the Law; for when they are removed, the will of God is set
up as a perfect rule. It hence follows, that the sacrifices of beasts
were to be removed by the priesthood of Christ, as they had nothing in
common with it. For there was no reason, as we have said, for him to
reject the sacrifices on account of an accidental blame; for he is not
dealing with hypocrites, nor does he condemn the superstition of
perverted worship; but he denies that the usual sacrifices are required
of a pious man rightly instructed, and he testifies that without
sacrifices God is fully and perfectly obeyed.
=====> 10:10. "By the which will", &c. After having accommodated to his
subject David's testimony, he now takes the occasion to turn some of the
words to his own purpose, but more for the sake of ornament than of
explanation. David professed, not so much in his own person as in that of
Christ, that he was ready to do the will of God. This is to be extended
to all the members of Christ; for Paul's doctrine is general, when he
says, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that every one
of you abstain from uncleanness". (1 Thess. 4: 3.) But as it was a
supereminent example of obedience in Christ to offer himself to the death
of the cross, and as it was for this especially that he put on the form
of a servant, the Apostle says, that Christ by offering himself fulfilled
the command of his Father, and that we have been thus "sanctified".  When
he adds, "through the offering of the body", &c, he alludes to that part
of the Psalm, where he says, "A body hast thou prepared for me," at least
as it is found in Greek. He thus intimates that Christ found in himself
what could appease God, so that he had no need of external aids. For if
the Levitical priests had a fit body, the sacrifices of beasts would have
been superfluous. But Christ alone was sufficient, and was by himself
capable of performing whatever God required.

=====> 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering
oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;
10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are
sanctified.
10:15 [Whereof] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he
had said before,
10:16 This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days,
saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds
will I write them;
10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
10:18 Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering for
sin.

=====> 10:11. "And every priest", &c. Here is the conclusion of the whole
argument, - that the practice of daily sacrificing is inconsistent with
and wholly foreign to the priesthood of Christ; and that hence after his
coming the Levitical priests whose custom and settled practice was daily
to offer, were deposed from their office; for the character of things
which are contrary is, that when one thing is set up, the other falls to
the ground. He has hitherto laboured enough, and more than enough, in
defending the priesthood of Christ; the conclusion then is, that the
ancient priesthood, which is inconsistent with this, has ceased; for all
the saints find a full consecration in the one offering of Christ. At the
same time the word |teteleiooken|, which I render "has consecrated," may
yet be rendered "has perfected;" but I prefer the former meaning, because
he treats here of sacred things.
    By saying, "them who are sanctified", he includes all the children of
God; and he reminds us that the grace of sanctification is sought
elsewhere in vain.
    But lest men should imagine that Christ is now idle in heaven, he
repeats again that he "sat down at God's right hand"; by which phrase is
denoted, as we have seen elsewhere, his dominion and power. There is
therefore no reason for us to fear, that he will suffer the efficacy of
his death to be destroyed or to lie buried; for he lives for this end,
that by his power he may fill heaven and earth. He then reminds us in the
words of the Psalm how long this state of things is to be, even until
Christ shall lay prostrate all his enemies. If then our faith seeks
Christ sitting on God's right hand, and recumbs quietly on him as there
sitting, we shall at length enjoy the fruit of his victory; yea, when our
foes, Satan, sin, death, and the whole world are vanquished, and when
corruption of our flesh is cast off, we shall triumph for ever together
with our head.
=====> 10:15. "The Holy Ghost also is a witness", &c. This testimony from
Jeremiah is not adduced the second time without reason or superfluously.
He quoted it before for a different purpose, even to show that it was
necessary for the Old Testament to be abrogated, because another, a new
one, haa been promised, and for this end, to amend the weakness of the
old. But he has now another thing in view; for he takes his stand on
these words alone, "Their iniquities will I remember no more"; and hence
he concludes, that there is no more need of a sacrifice since sins are
blotted out.
    This inference may indeed seem not to be well founded; for though
formerly there were innumerable promises as to the remission of sins
under the Law and in the prophets, yet the Church ceased not to offer
sacrifices; hence remission of sins does not exclude sacrifices. But if
you consider each particular more closely, you will find that the fathers
also had the same promises as to the remission of sins, under the Law, as
we have at this day; relying on them, they called on God, and rejoiced in
the pardon they obtained. And yet the Prophet, as though he had adduced
something new and unheard of before, promises that there would be no
remembrance of sins before God under the new covenant. Hence we may
conclude, that sins are now remitted in a way different from what they
were formerly; but this difference is not in the promise, nor in faith,
but in the very price by which remissions is procured. God then does not
now remember sins, because an expiation has been made once for all;
otherwise what is said by the Prophet would have been to no purpose, that
the benefit of the New Testament was to be this - that God would no more
remember sins.
    Now, since we have come to the close of the discussion respecting the
priesthood of Christ, readers must be brief reminded, that the sacrifices
of the Law are not more effectually proved here to have been abolished,
than the sacrifice of the mass practiced by the Papists is proved to be a
vain fiction.
    They maintain that their mass is a sacrifice for expiating the sins
of the living and of the dead; but the Apostle denies that there is now
any place for a sacrifice, even since the time in which the prophecy of
Jeremiah has been fulfilled.
    They try to make an evasion by saying, that it is not a new
sacrifice, or different from that of Christ, but the same; on the
contrary, the Apostle contends that the same sacrifice ought not to be
repeated, and declares that Christ's sacrifice is only one, and that it
was offered for all; and, further, he often claims for Christ alone the
honour of being a priest, so that no one was fit to offer him but himself
alone.
    The Papists have another evasion, and call their sacrifice bloodless;
but the Apostle affirms it as a truth without exception, that death is
necessary in order to make a sacrifice.
    The Papists attempt to evade again by saying, that the mass is the
application of the one sacrifice which Christ has made; but the Apostle
teaches us on the contrary, that the sacrifices of the Law were abolished
by Christ's death for this reason, because in them a remembrance of sins
was made; it hence appears evident, that this kind of application which
they have devised has ceased.
    In short, let the Papists twist themselves into any forms they
please, they can never escape from the plain arguments of the Apostle, by
which it appears clear that their mass abounds in impieties; for first,
according to the Apostle's testimony, Christ alone was fit to offer
himself; in the mass he is offered by other hands; - secondly, the
Apostle asserts that Christ's sacrifice was not only one, but was also
once offered, so that it is impious to repeat it; but in the mass,
however they may prate about the sacrifice, yet it is evidently made
every day, and they themselves confess it; - thirdly, the Apostle
acknowledges no sacrifice without blood and death; they then chatter in
vain, that the sacrifice they offer is bloodless; - fourthly, the Apostle
in speaking of obtaining pardon for sins, bids us to flee to that one
sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross, and makes this distinction
between us and the fathers, that the rite of continually sacrificing was
done away by the coming of Christ; but the Papists, in order to make the
death of Christ efficacious, require daily applications by means of a
sacrifice; so that they calling themselves Christians, differ nothing
from the Jews except in the external symbol.

=====> 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the
holiest by the blood of Jesus,
10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through
the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
10:21 And [having] an high priest over the house of God;
10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies
washed with pure water.
10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering;
(for he [is] faithful that promised;)

=====> 10:19. "Having therefore, brethren", &c. He states the conclusion
or the sum of his previous doctrine, to which he then fitly subjoins a
serious exhortation, and denounces a severe threatening on those who had
renounced the grace of Christ. Now, the sum of what he had said is, that
all the ceremonies by which an access under the Law was open to the
sanctuary, have their real fulfilment in Christ, so that to him who has
Christ, the use of them is superfluous and useless To set this forth more
fully, he allegorically describes the access which Christ has opened to
us; for he compares heaven to the old sanctuary, and sets forth the
things which have been spiritually accomplished in Christ in typical
expressions. Allegories do indeed sometimes obscure rather than
illustrate a subject; but when the Apostle transfers to Christ the
ancient figures of the Law, there is no small elegance in what he says,
and no small light is attained; and he did this, that we may recognize as
now really exhibited in him whatever the Law shadowed forth. But as there
is great weight almost in every word, so we must remember that there is
here to be understood a contrast, - the truth or reality as seen in
Christ, and the abolition of the ancient types.
    He says first, that we have "boldness to enter into the holiest".
This privilege was never granted to the fathers under the Law, for the
people were forbidden to enter the visible sanctuary, though the high
priest bore the names of the tribes on his shoulders, and twelve stones
as a memorial of them on his breast. But now the case is very different,
for not only symbolically, but in reality an entrance into heaven is made
open to us through the favour of Christ, for he has made us a royal
priesthood.
    He adds, "by the blood of Jesus", because the door of the sanctuary
was not opened for the periodical entrance of the high priest, except
through the intervention of blood. But he afterwards marks the difference
between this blood and that of beasts; for the blood of beasts, as it
soon turns to corruption, could not long retain its efficacy; but the
blood of Christ, which is subject to no corruption, but flows ever as a
pure stream, is sufficient for us even to the end of the world. It is no
wonder that beasts slain in sacrifice had no power to quicken, as they
were dead; but Christ who arose from the dead to bestow life on us,
communicates his own life to us. It is a perpetual consecration of the
way, because the blood of Christ is always in a manner distilling before
the presence of the Father, in order to irrigate heaven and earth.
=====> 10:20. "Through the veil", &c. As the veil covered the recesses of
the sanctuary and yet afforded entrance there, so the divinity, though
hid in the flesh of Christ, yet leads us even into heaven; nor can any
one find God except he to whom the man Christ becomes the door and the
way. Thus we are reminded, that Christ's glory is not to be estimated
according to the external appearance of his flesh; nor is his flesh to be
despised, because it conceals as a veil the majesty of God, while it is
also that which conducts us to the enjoyment of all the good things of
God.
=====> 10:21. "And having a high priest", &c. Whatever he has previously
said of the abrogation of the ancient priesthood, it behaves us now to
bear in mind, for Christ could not be a priest without having the former
priests divested of their office, as it was another order. He then
intimates that all those things which Christ had changed at his coming
ought to be relinquished; and God has set him over his whole house for
this end, - that every one who seeks a place in the Church, may submit to
Christ and choose him, and no other, as his leader and ruler.
=====> 10:22. "Let us draw near with a true heart", &c. As he shows that
in Christ and his sacrifice there is nothing but what is spiritual or
heavenly, so he would have what we bring on our part to correspond. The
Jews formerly cleansed themselves by various washings to prepare
themselves for the service of God. It is no wonder that the rites for
cleansing were carnal, since the worship of God itself, involved in
shadows, as yet partook in a manner of what was carnal. For the priest,
being a mortal, was chosen from among sinners to perform for a time
sacred things; he was, indeed, adorned with precious vestments, but yet
they were those of this world, that he might stand in the presence of
God; he only came near the work of the covenant; and to sanctify his
entrance, he borrowed for a sacrifice a brute animal either from herd or
the flock. But in Christ all these things are far superior; He himself is
not only pure and innocent, but is also the fountain of all holiness and
righteousness, and was constituted a priest by a heavenly oracle, not for
the short period of a mortal life, but perpetually. To sanction his
appointment an oath was interposed. He came forth adorned with all the
gifts of the Holy Spirit in the highest perfection; he propitiated God by
his own blood, and reconciled him to men; he ascended up above all the
heavens to appear before God as our Mediator.
    Now, on our part, nothing is to be brought but what corresponds with
all this, as there ought to be a mutual agreement or concord between the
priest and the people. Away then with all the external washings of the
flesh, and cease let the whole apparatus of ceremonies; for the Apostle
sets a "true heart", and the certainty of faith, and a cleansing from all
vices, in opposition to these external rites. And hence we learn what
must be the frame of our minds in order that we may enjoy the benefits
conferred by Christ; for there is no coming to hire without an upright or
a true heart, and a sure faith, and a pure conscience.
    Now, a "true" or sincere heart is opposed to a heart that is
hypocritical and deceitful. By the term "full assurance", |pleroforia|,
the Apostle points out the nature of faith, and at the same time reminds
us, that the grace of Christ cannot be received except by those who
possess a fixed and unhesitating conviction. The "sprinkling of the heart
from an evil conscience" takes place, either when we are, by obtaining
pardon, deemed pure before God, or when the heart, cleansed from all
corrupt affections, is not stimulated by the goads of the flesh. I am
disposed to include both these things.
    What follows, "our bodies washed with pure water", is generally
understood of baptism; but it seems to me more probable that the Apostle
alludes to the ancient ceremonies of the Law; and so by water he
designates the Spirit of God, according to what is said by Ezekiel, "I
will sprinkle clean water upon you." (Ezek. 36: 25.) The meaning is, that
we are made partakers of Christ, if we come to him, sanctified in body
and soul; and yet that this sanctification is not what consists in a
visible parade of ceremonies, but that it is from faith, pure conscience,
and that cleanness of soul and body which flows from, and is effected by,
the Spirit of God. So Paul exhorts the faithful to cleanse themselves
from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, since they had been adopted by
God as his children. (2 Cor. 7: 1.)
=====> 10:23. "Let us hold fast", &c. As he exhorts here the Jews to
persevere, he mentions hope rather than faith; for as hope is born of
faith, so it is fed and sustained by it to the last. He requires also
"profession" or confession, for it is not true faith except it shows
itself before men. And he seems indirectly to touch the dissimulation of
those who paid too much attention, in order to please their own nation,
to the ceremonies of the Law. He therefore bids them not only to believe
with the heart, but also to show and to profess how much they honoured
Christ.
    But we ought carefully to notice the reason which he subjoins, "for
he is faithful that promised". For we hence first learn, that our faith
rests on this foundation, that God is true, that is, true to his promise,
which his word contains; for that we may believe, the voice or word of
God must precede; but it is not every kind of word that is capable of
producing faith; a promise alone is that on which faith recumbs. And so
from this passage we may learn the mutual relation between the faith of
men and the promise of God; for except God promises, no one can believe.

=====> 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to
good works:
10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner
of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye
see the day approaching.
10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of
the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery
indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

=====> 10:24. "And let us consider one another", &c. I doubt not but that
he addresses the Jews especially in this exhortation. It is well-known
how great was the arrogance of that nation; being the posterity of
Abraham, they boasted that they alone, to the exclusion of all others,
had been chosen by the Lord to inherit the covenant of eternal life.
Inflated by such a privilege, they despised other nations, and wished to
be thought as being alone in the Church of God; nay, they superciliously
arrogated to themselves the name of being The Church. It was necessary
for the Apostles to labour much to correct this pride; and this, in my
judgment, is what the Apostle is doing here, in order that the Jews might
not bear it ill that the Gentiles were associated with them and united as
one body in the Church.
    And first, indeed, he says, "Let us consider one another"; for God
was then gathering a Church both from the Jews and from the Gentiles,
between whom there had always been a great discord, so that their union
was like the combination of fire and water. Hence the Jews recoiled from
this, for they thought it a great indignity that the Gentiles, should be
made equal with them. To this goad of wicked emulation which pricked
them, the Apostle sets up another in opposition to it, even that of
"love"; or the word |paroxusmos|, which he uses, signifies the ardour of
contention. Then that the Jews might not be inflamed with envy, and be
led into contention, the Apostle exhorts them to a godly emulation, even
to stimulate one another to love.
=====> 10:25. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together", &c.
This confirms the view that has been given. The composition of the Greek
word ought to be noticed; for |epi| signifies an addition; then
|episunagooge|, assembling together, means a congregation increased by
additions. The wall of partition having been pulled down, God was then
gathering those as his children who had been aliens from the Church; so
the Gentiles were a new and unwonted sedition to the Church. This the
Jews regarded as a reproach to them, so that many made a secession from
the Church, thinking that such a mixture afforded them a just excuse; nor
could they be easily induced to surrender their own right; and further,
they considered the right of adoption as peculiar, and as belonging
exclusively to themselves. The Apostle, therefore, warns them, lest this
equality should provoke them to forsake the Church; and that he might not
seem to warn them for no reason, he mentions that this neglect was common
to many.
    We now understand the design of the apostle, and what was the
necessity that constrained him to give this exhortation. We may at the
same time gather from this passage a general doctrine:
    It is an evil which prevails everywhere among mankind, that every one
sets himself above others, and especially that those who seem in anything
to excel cannot well endure their inferiors to be on an equality with
themselves. And then there is so much morosity almost in all, that
individuals would gladly make churches for themselves if they could; for
they find it so difficult to accommodate themselves to the ways and
habits of others. The rich envy one another; and hardly one in a hundred
can be found among the rich, who allows to the poor the name and rank of
brethren. Unless similarity of habits or some allurements or advantages
draw us together, it is very difficult even to maintain a continual
concord among ourselves. Extremely needed, therefore, by us all is the
admonition to be stimulated to love and not to envy, and not to separate
from those whom God has joined to us, but to embrace with brotherly
kindness all those who are united to us in faith. And surely it behaves
us the more earnestly to cultivate unity, as the more eagerly watchful
Satan is, either to tear us by any means from the Church, or stealthily
to seduce us from it. And such would be the happy effect, were no one to
please himself too much, and were all of us to preserve this one object,
mutually to provoke one another to love, and to allow no emulation among
ourselves, but that of doing "good works". For doubtless the contempt of
the brethren, moroseness, envy, immoderate estimate of ourselves, and
other sinful impulses, clearly show that our love is either very cold, or
does not at all exist.
    Having said, "Not forsaking the assembling together," he adds, "But
exhorting one another"; by which he intimates that all the godly ought by
all means possible to exert themselves in the work of gathering together
the Church on every side; for we are called by the Lord on this
condition, that every one should afterwards strive to lead others to the
truth, to restore the wandering to the right way, to extend a helping
hand to the fallen, to win over those who are without. But if we ought to
bestow so much labour on those who are yet aliens to the flock of Christ,
how much more diligence is required in exhorting the brethren whom God
has already joined to us?
    "As the manner of some is", &c. It hence appears that the origin of
all schisms was, that proud men, despising others, pleased themselves too
much. But when we hear that there were faithless men even in the age of
the Apostles, who departed from the Church, we ought to be less shocked
and disturbed by similar instances of defection which we may see in the
present day. It is indeed no light offense when men who had given some
evidence of piety and professed the same faith with us, fall away from
the living God; but as it is no new thing, we ought, as I have already
said, to be less disturbed by such an event. But the Apostle introduced
this clause to show that he did not speak without a cause, but in order
to apply a remedy to a disease that was making progress.
    "And so much the more", &c. Some think this passage to be of the same
import with that of Paul, "It is time to awake out of sleep, for now is
our salvation nearer than when we believed." (Rom. 13: 11.) But I rather
think that reference is here made to the last coming of Christ, the
expectation of which ought especially to rouse us to the practice of a
holy life as well as to careful and diligent efforts in the work of
gathering together the Church. For to what end did Christ come except to
collect us all into one body from that dispersion in which we are now
wandering? Therefore, the nearer his coming is, the more we ought to
labour that the scattered may be assembled and united together, that
there may be one fold and one shepherd (John. 10: 16.)
    Were any one to ask, how could the Apostle say that those who were as
yet afar off from the manifestation of Christ, saw the day near and just
at hand? I would answer, that from the beginning of the kingdom of Christ
the Church was so constituted that the faithful ought to have considered
the Judge as coming soon; nor were they indeed deceived by a false
notion, when they were prepared to receive Christ almost every moment;
for such was the condition of the Church from the time the Gospel was
promulgated, that the whole of that period might truly and properly be
called the last. They then who have been dead many ages ago lived in the
last days no less than we. Laughed at is our simplicity in this respect
by the worldly-wise and scoffers, who deem as fabulous all that we
believe respecting the resurrection of the flesh and the last judgment;
but that our faith may not fail through their mockery, the Holy Spirit
reminds us that a thousand years are before God as one day, (2 Peter 3:
8;) so that whenever we think of the eternity of the celestial kingdom no
time ought to appear long to us. And further, since Christ, after having
completed all things necessary for our salvation, has ascended into
heaven, it is but reasonable that we who are continually looking for his
second manifestation should regard every day as though it were the last.
=====> 10:26. "For if we sin wilfully", or voluntarily &c. He shows how
severe a vengeance of God awaits all those who fall away from the grace
of Christ; for being without that one true salvation, they are now as it
were given up to an inevitable destruction. With this testimony Novatus
and his sect formerly armed themselves, in order to take away the hope of
pardon from all indiscriminately who had fallen after baptism. They who
were not able to refute his calumny chose rather to deny the authority of
this Epistle than to subscribe to so great an absurdity. But the true
meaning of the passage, unaided by any help from any other part, is quite
sufficient of itself to expose the effrontery of Novatus.
    Those who "sin", mentioned by the Apostle, are not such as offend in
any way, but such as forsake the Church, and wholly alienate themselves
from Christ. For he speaks not here of this or of that sin, but he
condemns by name those who wilfully renounced fellowship with the Church.
But there is a vast difference between particular fallings and a complete
defection of this kind, by which we entirely fall away from the grace of
Christ. And as this cannot be the case with any one except he has been
already enlightened, he says, "If we sin wilfully, after that we have
received the knowledge of the truth"; as though he had said, "If we
knowingly and willingly renounce the grace which we had obtained." It is
now evident how widely apart is this doctrine from the error of Novatus.
    And that the Apostle here refers only to apostates, is clear from the
whole passage; for what he treats of is this, that those who had been
once received into the Church ought not to forsake it, as some were wont
to do. He now declares that there remained for such no sacrifice for sin,
because they had wilfully sinned after having received the knowledge of
the truth. But as to sinners who fall in any other way, Christ offers
himself daily to them, so that they are to seek no other sacrifice for
expiating their sins. He denies, then, that any sacrifice remains for
them who renounce the death of Christ, which is not done by any offense
except by a total renunciation of the faith.
    This severity of God is indeed dreadful, but it is set forth for the
purpose of inspiring terror. He cannot, however, be accused of cruelty;
for as the death of Christ is the only remedy by which we can be
delivered from eternal death, are not they who destroy as far as thee can
its virtue and benefit worthy of being left to despair? God invites to
daily reconciliation those who abide in Christ; they are daily washed by
the blood of Christ, their sins are daily expiated by his perpetual
sacrifice. As salvation is not to be sought except in him, there is no
need to wonder that all those who wilfully forsake him are deprived of
every hope of pardon: this is the import of the adverb |epi|, more. But
Christ's sacrifice is efficacious to the godly even to death, though they
often sin; nay, it retains ever its efficacy, for this very reason,
because they cannot be free from sin as long as they dwell in the flesh.
The Apostle then refers to those alone who wickedly forsake Christ, and
thus deprive themselves of the benefit of his death.
    The clause, "after having received the knowledge of the truth," was
added for the purpose of aggravating their ingratitude; for he who
willingly and with deliberate impiety extinguishes the light of God
kindled in his heart has nothing to allege as an excuse before God. Let
us then learn not only to receive with reverence and prompt docility of
mind the truth offered to us, but also firmly to persevere in the
knowledge of it, so that we may not suffer the terrible punishment of
those who despise it.
=====> 10:27. "But a certain fearful looking for", &c. He means the
torment of an evil conscience which the ungodly feel, who not only have
no grace, but who also know that having tasted grace they have lost it
forever through their own fault; such must not only be pricked and
bitten, but also tormented and lacerated in a dreadful manner. Hence it
is that they war rebelliously against God, for they cannot endure so
strict a Judge. They indeed try in every way to remove the sense of God's
wrath, but all in vain; for when God allows them a short respite, he soon
draws them before his tribunal, and harasses them with the torments which
they especially shun.
    He adds, "fiery indignation", or the heat of fire; by which he means,
as I think, a vehement impulse or a violent ardour. The word "fire" is a
common metaphor; for as the ungodly are now in a heat through dread of
divine wrath, so they shall then burn through the same feeling. Nor is it
unknown to me, that the sophists have refinedly speculated as to this
fire; but I have no regard of their glosses, since it is evident that it
is the same mode of speaking as when Scripture connects fire with worm.
(Isa. 66: 24.) But no man doubts but that worm is used metaphorically to
designate that dreadful torment of conscience by which the ungodly are
gnawed.
    "Which shall devour the adversaries". It shall so devour them as to
destroy, but not to consume them; for it will be inextinguishable. And
thus he reminds us, that they are all to be counted the enemies of Christ
who have refused to hold the place granted them among the faithful; for
there is no intermediate state, as they who depart from the Church give
themselves up to Satan.

=====> 10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or
three witnesses:
10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought
worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the
blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and
hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I
will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his
people.
10:31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

=====> 10:28. "He that despised", &c. This is an argument from the less
to the greater; for if it was a capital offence to violate the law of
Moses, how much heavier punishment does the rejection of the gospel
deserve, a sin which involves so many and so heinous impieties! This
reasoning was indeed most fitted to impress the Jews; for so severe a
punishment on apostates under the Law was neither new to them, nor could
it appear unjustly rigorous. They ought then to have acknowledged that
vengeance just, however severe, by which God now sanctions the majesty of
his Gospels.
    Hereby is also confirmed what I have already said, that the Apostle
speaks not of particular sins, but of the entire denial of Christ; for
the Law did not punish all kinds of transgressions with death, but
apostasy, that is, when any one wholly renounced religion; for the
Apostle referred to a passage in Deut. 27: 2-7, where we find, that if
any one violated God's covenant by worshipping foreign gods, he was to be
brought outside of the gate and stoned to death. 
    Now, though the Law proceeded from God, and Moses was not its author,
but its minister, yet the Apostle calls it the law of Moses, because it
had been given through him: this was said in order to amplify the more
the dignity of the Gospel, which has been delivered to us by the Son of
God.
    "Under two or three witnesses", &c. This bears not on the present
subject; but it was a part of the civil law of Moses that two or three
witnesses were required to prove the accused guilty. However, we hence
learn what sort of crime the Apostle meant; for had not this been added,
an opening would have been left for many false conjectures. But now it is
beyond all dispute that he speaks of apostasy. At the same time that
equity ought to be observed which almost all statesmen have adopted, that
no one is to be condemned without being proved guilty by the testimony of
two witnesses 

=====> 10:29. "Who has trodden under foot the Son of God", &c. There is
this likeness between apostates under the Law and under the Gospel, that
both perish without mercy; but the kind of death is different; for the
Apostle denounces on the despisers of Christ not only the deaths of the
body, but eternal perdition. And therefore he says that a sorer
punishment awaits them. And he designates the desertion of Christianity
by three things; for he says that thus the Son of God is trodden under
foot, that his blood is counted an unholy thing, and that despite is done
to the Spirit of grace. Now, it is a more heinous thing to tread under
foot than to despise or reject; and the dignity of Christ is far
different from that of Moses; and further, he does not simply set the
Gospel in opposition to the Law, but the person of Christ and of the Holy
Spirit to the person of Moses.
    "The blood of the covenant", &c. He enhances ingratitude by a
comparison with the benefits. It is the greatest indignity to count the
blood of Christ unholy, by which our holiness is effected; this is done
by those who depart from the faith. For our faith looks not on the naked
doctrine, but on the blood by which our salvation has been ratified. He
calls it the blood of the covenant, because then only were the promises
made sure to us when this pledge was added. But he points out the manner
of this confirmation by saying that we are sanctified; for the blood shed
would avail us nothing, except we were sprinkled with it by the Holy
Spirit; and hence come our expiation and sanctification. The apostle at
the same time alludes to the ancient rite of sprinkling, which availed
not to real sanctification, but was only its shadow or image.
    "The Spirit of grace". He calls it the Spirit of grace from the
effects produced; for it is by the Spirit and through his influence that
we receive the grace offered to us in Christ. For he it is who enlightens
our minds by faith, who seals the adoption of God on our hearts, who
regenerates us unto newness of life, who grafts us into the body of
Christ, that he may live in us and we in him. He is therefore rightly
called the Spirit of grace, by whom Christ becomes ours with all his
blessings. But to do despite to him, or to treat him with scorn, by whom
we are endowed with so many benefits, is an impiety extremely wicked.
Hence learn that all who wilfully render useless his grace, by which they
had been favoured, act disdainfully towards the Spirit of God.
    It is therefore no wonder that God so severely visits blasphemies of
this kind; it is no wonder that he shows himself inexorable towards those
who tread under foot Christ the Mediator, who alone reconciles us to
himself; it is no wonder that he closes up the way of salvation against
those who spurn the Holy Spirit, the only true guide.
=====> 10:30. "For we know him that hath said", &c. Both the passages are
taken from Deut. 32: 35, 36. But as Moses there promises that God would
take vengeance for the wrongs done to his people, it seems that the words
are improperly and constrainedly applied to the vengeance referred to
here; for what does the Apostle speak of? Even that the impiety of those
who despised God would not be unpunished. Paul also in Rom. 12: 19,
knowing the true sense of the passage, accommodates it to another
purpose; for having in view to exhort us to patience, he bids us to give
place to God to take vengeance, because this office belongs to him; and
this he proves by the testimony of Moses. But there is no reason why we
should not turn a special declaration to a universal truth. Though then
the design of Moses was to console the faithful, as they would have God
as the avenger of wrongs done to them; yet we may always conclude from
his words that it is the peculiar office of God to take vengeance on the
ungodly. Nor does he pervert his testimony who hence proves that the
contempt of God will not be unpunished; for he is a righteous judge who
claims to himself the office of taking vengeance.
    At the same time the Apostle might here also reason from the less to
the greater, and in this manner: "God says that he will not suffer his
people to be injured with impunity, and declares that he will surely be
their avenger: If he suffers not wrongs done to men to be unpunished,
will he not avenge his own? Has he so little or no care and concern for
his own glory, as to connive at and pass by indignities offered to him?"
But the former view is more simple and natural, - that the Apostle only
shows that God will not be mocked with impunity, since it is his peculiar
office to render to the ungodly what they have deserved.
    "The Lord shall judge his people". Here another and a greater
difficulty arises; for the meaning of Moses seems not to agree with what
here intended. The Apostle seems to have quoted this passage as though
Moses had used the word punish, and not judge; but as it immediately
follows by way of explanation, "He will be merciful to his saints," it
appears evident that to judge here is to act as a governor, according to
its frequent meaning in the Hebrew; but this seems to have little to do
with the present subject. Nevertheless he who weighs well all things will
find that this passage is fitly and suitably adduced here; for God cannot
govern the Church without purifying it, and without restoring to order
the confusion that may be in it. Therefore this governing ought justly to
be dreaded by hypocrites, who will then be punished for usurping a place
among the faithful, and for perfidiously using the sacred name of God,
when the master of the family undertakes himself the care of setting in
order his own house. It is in this sense that God is said to arise to
judge his people, that is, when he separates the truly godly from
hypocrites, (Ps. 1: 4;) and in Ps. 125: 3, where the Prophet speaks of
exterminating hypocrites, that they might no more dare to boast that they
were of the Church, because God bore with them; he promises peace to
Israel after having executed his judgment.
    It was not then unreasonably that the apostle reminded them that God
presided over his Church and omitted nothing necessary for its rightful
government, in order that they might all learn carefully to keep
themselves under his power, and remember that they had to render an
account to their judge.
    He hence concludes that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands
of the living God". A mortal man, however incensed he may be, cannot
carry his vengeance beyond death; but God's power is not bounded by so
narrow limits; besides, we often escape from men, but we cannot escape
from God's judgment. Who soever then considers that he has to do with
God, must (except he be extremely stupid) really tremble and quake; nay,
such an apprehension of God must necessarily absorb the whole man, so
that no sorrows, or torments can be compared with it. In short, whenever
our flesh allures us or we flatter ourselves by any means in our sins,
this admonition alone ought to be sufficient to arouse us, that "it is a
fearful thing to fall into to hands of the living God;" for his wrath is
furnished with dreadful punishments which are to be forever.
    However, the saying of David, when he exclaimed, that it was better
to fall into Gods hands than into the hands of men, (2 Sam. 24: 14,)
seems to be inconsistent with what is said here. But this apparent
inconsistency vanishes, when we consider that David, relying confidently
on God's mercy, chose him as his Judge rather than men; for though he
knew that God was displeased with him, yet he felt confident that he
would be reconciled to him; in himself, indeed, he was prostrate on the
ground, but yet he was raised up by the promise of grace. As then he
believed God not to be inexorable, there is no wonder that he dreaded his
wrath less, than that of men; but the Apostle here speaks of God's wrath
as being dreadful to the reprobate, who being destitute of the hope of
pardon, expect nothing but extreme severity, as they have already closed
up against themselves the door of grace. And we know that God is set
forth in various ways according to the character of those whom he
addresses; and this is what David means when he says, "With the merciful
thou wilt be merciful, and with the froward thou wilt be froward." (Ps.
18: 27.) 

=====> 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye
were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and
afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so
used.
10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the
spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a
better and an enduring substance.
10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great
recompence of reward.

=====> 10:32. "But call to remembrance", &c. In order to stimulate them,
and to rouse their alacrity to go forward, he reminds them of the
evidences of piety which they had previously manifested; for it is a
shameful thing to begin well, and to faint in the middle of our course,
and still more shameful to retrograde after having made great progress.
The remembrance then of past warfare, if it had been carried on
faithfully and diligently under the banner of Christ, is at length useful
to us, not as a pretext for sloth, as though we had already served our
time, but to render us more active in finishing the remaining part of our
course. For Christ has not enlisted us on this condition, that we should
after a few years ask for a discharge like soldiers who have served their
time, but that we should pursue our warfare even to the end.
    He further strengthens his exhortation by saying, that they had
already performed great exploits at a time when they were as yet new
recruits: the more shame then would it be to them, if now they fainted
after having been long tried; for the word "enlightened" is to be limited
to the time when they first enlisted under Christ, as though he had said,
"As soon as ye were initiated into the faith of Christ, ye underwent hard
and arduous contests; now practice ought to have rendered you stronger,
so as to become more courageous." He, however, at the same time reminds
them, that it was through God's favour that they believed, and not
through their own strength; they were enlightened when immersed in
darkness and without eyes to see, except light from above had shone upon
them. Whenever then those things which we have done or suffered for
Christ come to our minds, let them be to us so many goads to stir us on
to higher attainments.
=====> 10:33. "Partly, whilst ye were made, &c. We see who they were whom
he addresses, even those whose faith had been proved by no common trials,
and yet he refrains not from exhorting them to greater things. Let no man
therefore deceive himself by self-flattery as though he had reached the
goal, or had no need of incentives from others.
    Now he says, that they had been "made gazingstocks both by reproaches
and afflictions", or exposed to public shame by reproaches and theatre.
We hence learn that the persecutions which they had sustained were
remarkably severe. But we ought especially to notice the latter clause,
when he says that they became companions or associates of the godly in
their persecutions; for as it is Christ's cause for which all the godly
contend, and as it is what their contend for in common, whatever one of
them suffers, all the rest ought to transfer, as it were, to themselves;
and this is what ought by all means to be done by us, unless we would
separate ourselves from Christ himself.
=====> 10:34. "And took joyfully", &c. There is no doubt but as they were
men who had feelings, the loss of their goods caused them grief; but yet
their sorrow was such as did not prevent the joy of which the Apostle
speaks. As poverty is deemed an evil, the plunder of their goods
considered in itself touched them with grief; but as they looked higher,
they found a cause for joy, which allayed whatever grief they felt. It is
indeed thus necessary that our thoughts should be drawn away from the
world, by looking at the heavenly recompense; nor do I say any other
thing but what all the godly find to be the case by experience. And no
doubt we joyfully embrace what we are persuaded will end in our
salvation; and this persuasion the children of God doubtless have
respecting the convicts which they undertake for the glory of Christ.
Hence carnal feelings never so prevail in overwhelming them with grief,
but that with their minds raised up to heaven they emerge into spiritual
joy.
    And this is proved by what he subjoins, "knowing that ye have in
heaven a better and an enduring substance". Joyfully then did they endure
the plundering of their goods, not because they were glad to find
themselves plundered; but as their minds were fixed on the recompense,
they easily forgot the grief occasioned by their present calamity. And
indeed wherever there is a lively perception of heavenly things, the
world with all its allurements is not so relished, that either poverty or
shame can overwhelm our minds with grief. If then we wish to bear
anything for Christ with patience and resigned minds, let us accustom
ourselves to a frequent meditation on that felicity, in comparison with
which all the good things of the world are nothing but refuse. Nor are we
to pass by these words, "knowing that ye have"; for except one be fully
persuaded that the inheritance which God has promised to his children
belongs to him, all his knowledge will be cold and useless.
=====> 10:35. "Cast not away, therefore", &c. He shows what especially
makes us strong to persevere, even the retaining of confidence; for when
that is lost, we lose the recompense set before us. It hence appears that
confidence is the foundation of a godly and holy life. By mentioning
"reward", he diminishes nothing from the gratuitous promise of Salvation;
for the faithful know that their labour is not vain in the Lord in such a
way that they still rest on God's mercy alone. But it has been often
stated elsewhere how reward is not incompatible with the gratuitous
imputation of righteousness.

=====> 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the
will of God, ye might receive the promise.
10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will
not tarry.
10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my
soul shall have no pleasure in him.
10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them
that believe to the saving of the soul.

=====> 10:36. "For ye have need of patience", &c. He says that patience
is necessary, not only because we have to endure to the end, but as Satan
has innumerable arts by which he harasses us; and hence except we possess
extraordinary patience, we shall a thousand times be broken down before
we come to the half of our course. The inheritance of eternal life is
indeed certain to us, but as life is like a race, we ought to go on
towards the goal. But in our way there are many hindrances and
difficulties, which not only delay us, but which would also stop our
course altogether, except we had great firmness of mind to pass through
them. Satan craftily suggests every kind of trouble in order to
discourage us. In short, Christians will never advance two paces without
fainting, except they are sustained by patience. This then is the only
way or means by which we can firmly and constantly advance; we shall not
otherwise obey God, nor even enjoy the promised inheritance, which is
here by metonymy called the "promise". 
=====> 10:37. "For yet a little while", or, for yet a very little time,
&c. That it may not be grievous to us to endure, he reminds us that the
time will not be long. There is indeed nothing that avails more to
sustain our minds, should they at any time become faint, than the hope of
a speedy and near termination. As a general holds forth to his soldiers
the prospect that the war will soon end, provided they hold out a little
longer; so the Apostle reminds us that the Lord will shortly come to
deliver us from all evils, provided our minds faint not through want of
firmness.
    And in order that this consolation might have more assurance and
authority, he adduces the testimony of the Prophet Habakkuk. (Hab. 2: 4.)
But as he follows the Greek version, he departs somewhat from the words
of the Prophet. I will first briefly explain what the Prophet says, and
then we shall compare it with what the Apostle relates here.
    When the Prophet had spoken of the dreadful overthrow of his own
nation, being terrified by his prophecy, he had nothing to do but to quit
as it were the world, and to betake himself to his watchtower; and his
watchtower was the Word of God, by which he was raised as it were into
heaven. Being thus placed in this station, he was bidden to write a new
prophecy, which brought to the godly the hope of salvation. Yet as men
are naturally unreasonable, and are so hasty in their wishes that they
always think God tardy, whatever haste he may make, he told them that the
promise would come without delay; at the same time he added, "If it
tarries, wait for it." By which he meant, that what God promises will
never come so soon, but that it seems to us to tarry, according to an old
proverb, "Even speed is delay to desire." Then follow these words,
"Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just
shall live by his faith." By these words he intimates that the ungodly,
however they may be fortified by defences, should not be able to stand,
for there is no life of security but by faith. Let the unbelieving then
fortify themselves as they please, they can find nothing in the whole
world but what is fading, so that they must ever be subject to trembling;
but their faith will never disappoint the godly, because it rests on God.
This is the meaning of the Prophet.
    Now the Apostle applies to God what Habakkuk said of the promise; but
as God by fulfilling his promises in a manner shows what he is, as to the
subject itself there is not much difference; nay, the Lord comes whenever
he puts forth his hand to help us. The Apostle follows the Prophet in
saying, That it would be shortly; because God defers not his help longer
than it is expedient; for he does not by delaying time deceive us as men
are wont to do; but he knows his own time which he suffers not to pass by
without coming to our aid at the moment required. Now he says, "He that
cometh will come, and will not tarry". Here are two clauses: by the first
we are taught that God will come to our aid, for he has promised; and by
the second, that he will do so in due time, not later than he ought.
=====> 10:38. "Now the just", &c. He means that patience is born of
faith; and this is true, for we shall never be able to carry on our
contests unless we are sustained by faith, even as, on the other hand,
John truly declares, that our victory over the world is by faith. (I John
5: 4.) It is by faith that we ascend on high; that we leap over all the
perils of this present life, and all its miseries and troubles; that we
possess a quiet standing in the midst of storms and tempests. Then the
Apostle announced this truth, that all who are counted just before God do
not live otherwise than by faith. And the future tense of the verb
"live", betokens the perpetuity of this life. Let readers consult on this
subject Rom. 1: 7, and Gal. 3: 11, where this passage is quoted.
    "But if any man draw back", &c. This is the rendering of |oflah|,
elation, as used by the Prophet, for the words are, "Where there shall be
elation or munition, the soul of that man shall not continue right in
him." The Apostle gives here the Greek version, which partly agrees with
the words of the Prophet, and partly differs from them. For this drawing
back differs but little, if anything, from that elation or pride with
which the ungodly are inflated, since their refractory opposition to God
proceeds from that false confidence with which they are inebriated; for
hence it is that they renounce his authority and promise themselves a
quiet state, free from all evil. They may be said, then, to draw back,
when they set up defences of this kind, by which they drive away every
fear of God and reverence for his name. And thus by this expression is
intimated the power of faith no less than the character of impiety; for
pride is impiety, because it renders not to God the honour due to him, by
rendering man obedient to him. From self-security, insolence, and
contempt, it comes that as long as it is well with the wicked, they dare,
as one has said, to insult the clouds. But since nothing is more contrary
to faith than this drawing back, for the true character of faith is, that
it draws a man unto submission to God when drawn back by his own sinful
nature.
    The other clause, "He will not please my soul," or as I have rendered
it more fully, "My soul shall not delight in him," is to be taken as the
expression of the Apostle's feeling; for it was not his purpose to quote
exactly the words of the Prophet, but only to refer to the passage to
invite readers to a closer examination of it.
=====> 10:39. "But we are not of them which draw back", &c. The Apostle
made a free use of the Greek version, which was most suitable to the
doctrine which he was discussing; and he now wisely applies it. He had
before warned them, lest by forsaking the Church they should alienate
themselves from the faith and the grace of Christ; he now teaches them
that they had been called for this end, that they might not draw back.
And he again sets faith and drawing back in opposition the one to the
other, and also the preservation of the soul to its perdition.
    Now let it be noticed that this truth belongs also to us, for we,
whom God has favoured with the light of the Gospel, ought to acknowledge
that we have been called in order that we may advance more and more in
our obedience to God, and strive constantly to draw nearer to him. This
is the real preservation of the soul, for by so doing we shall escape
eternal perdition.


Chapter 11

=====> 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen.

=====> 11:1. "Now faith, &c. Whoever made this the beginning of the
eleventh chapter, has unwisely disjointed the context; for the object of
the Apostle was to prove what he had already said -that there is need of
patience. He had quoted the testimony of Habakkuk, who says that the just
lives by faith; he now shows what remained to be proved - that faith can
be no more separated from patience than from itself. The order then of
what he says is this, - "We shall not reach the goal of salvation except
we have patience, for the Prophet declares that the just lives by faith;
but faith directs us to things afar off which we do not as yet enjoy; it
then necessarily includes patience." Therefore the minor proposition in
the argument is this, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for", &c.
It is hence also evident, that greatly mistaken are they who think that
an exact definition of faith is given here; for the Apostle does not
speak here of the whole of what faith is, but selects that part of it
which was suitable to his purpose, even that it has patience ever
connected with it. Let us now consider the words.
    He calls faith the "hypostasis", the substance of things hoped for.
We indeed know that what we hope for is not what we have as it were in
hand, but what is as yet hid from us, or at least the enjoyment of which
is delayed to another time. The Apostle now teaches us the same thing
with what we find in Rom. 8: 24; where it is said that what is hoped for
is not seen, and hence the inference is drawn, that it is to be waited
for in patience. So the Apostle here reminds us, that faith regards not
present things, but such as are waited for. Nor is this kind of
contradiction without its force and beauty: Faith, he says, is the
hypostasis, the prop, or the foundation on which we plant our foot, - the
prop of what? Of things absent, which are so far from being really
possessed by us, that they are far beyond the reach of our understanding.
    The same view is to be taken of the second clause, when he calls
faith the "evidence" or demonstration of things "not seen"; for
demonstration makes things to appear or to be seen; and it is commonly
applied to what is subject to our senses.
    Then these two things, though apparently inconsistent, do yet
perfectly harmonize when we speak of faith; for the Spirit of God shows
to us hidden things, the knowledge of which cannot reach our senses:
Promised to us is eternal life, but it is promised to the dead; we are
assured of a happy resurrection, but we are as yet involved in
corruption; we are pronounced just, as yet sin dwells in us; we hear that
we are happy, but we are as yet in the midst of many miseries; an
abundance of all good things is promised to us, but still we often hunger
and thirst; God proclaims that he will come quickly, but he seems deaf
when we cry to him. What would become of us were we not supported by
hope, and did not our minds emerge out of the midst of darkness above the
world through the light of God's word and of his Spirit? Faith, then, is
rightly said to be the subsistence or substance of things which are as
yet the objects of hope and the evidence of things not seen. Augustine
sometimes renders evidence "conviction," which I do not disapprove, for
it faithfully expresses the Apostle's meaning: but I prefer
"demonstration," as it is more literal.

=====> 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word
of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear.
11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,
by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his
gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

=====> 11:2. "For by it the elders," &c. He handles this subject to the
end of the chapter - that the fathers obtained salvation and were
accepted by God in no other way than by faith.
    The Jews indeed had some reasons for paying great deference to the
fathers; but a foolish admiration of the fathers had so prevailed among
them, that it proved a great hindrance to a thorough surrender of
themselves to Christ and to his government. It was occasioned either by
ambition or superstition, or by both. For when they heard that they were
the blessed and holy seed of Abraham, inflated with this distinction they
fixed their eyes on men rather than on God. Then added to this was a
false emulation; for they did not consider what was mainly worthy of
imitation in their fathers. It thus happened that they became attached to
the old ceremonies, as though the whole of religion and perfect holiness
consisted in them. This error the Apostle exposes and condemns; and be
shows what was the chief excellency of the fathers, in order that their
posterity might understand how they might become really like them.
    Let us then bear in mind that the main point and the very hinge on
which the Apostle's argument turns is this, -  That all the fathers from
the beginning of the world, were approved by God in no other way than by
being united to him by faith: and this he shows, that the Jews might know
that by faith alone they could be bound together in holy unity with the
fathers, and that as soon as they renounced faith, they became banished
from the Church, and that they were then no longer the legitimate
children of Abraham, but a degenerate race and bastards.
=====> 11:3. "Through", or by, "faith we understand", &c. This is a most
striking proof of the last verse; for we differ nothing from the brute
creation, if we understand not that the world has been created by God. To
what end have men been endued with understanding and reason, except that
they might acknowledge their Creator? But it is by faith alone we know
that it was God who created the world. No wonder then that faith shone
forth in the fathers above all other virtues.
    But it may be here asked, Why does the Apostle assert that what even
infidels acknowledge is only understood by faith? For the very appearance
of heaven and earth constrains even the ungodly to acknowledge some
Maker; and hence Paul condemns all for ingratitude, because they did not,
after having known God, give him the honour due to him. (Rom. 1: 25.) And
no doubt religion would not have so prevailed among all nations, had not
men's minds been impressed with the convictions that God is the Creator
of the world. It thus then appears that this knowledge which the Apostle
ascribes to faith, exists without faith.
    To this I reply, - that though there has been an opinion of this kind
among heathens, that the world was made by God, it was yet very
evanescent, for as soon as they formed a notion of some God, they became
instantly vain in their imaginations, so that they groped in the dark,
having in their thoughts a mere shadow of some uncertain deity, and not
the knowledge of the true God. Besides, as it was only a transient
opinion that flit in their minds, it was far from being anything like
knowledge. We may further add, that they assigned to fortune or chance
the supremacy in the government of the world, and they made no mention of
God's providence which alone rules everything. Men's minds therefore are
wholly blind, so that they see not the light of nature which shines forth
in created things, until being irradiated by God's Spirit, they begin to
understand by faith what otherwise they cannot comprehend. Hence most
correctly does the Apostle ascribe such an understanding to faith; for
they who have faith do not entertain a slight opinion as to God being the
Creator of the world, but they have a deep conviction fixed in their
minds and behold the true God. And further, they understand the power of
his word, not only as manifested instantaneously in creating the world,
but also as put forth continually in its preservation; nor is it his
power only that they understand, but also his goodness, and wisdom, and
justice. And hence they are led to worship, love, and honour him.
    "Not made of things which do appear". As to this clause, all
interpreters seem to me to have been mistaken; and the mistake has arisen
from separating the preposition from the participle |fainomenoon|. They
give this rendering, "So that visible things were made from things which
do not appear." But from such words hardly any sense can be elicited, at
least a very jejune sense; and further, the text does not admit of such a
meaning, for then the words must have been, |ek me fainomenoon|: but the
order adopted by the Apostle is different. If, then, the words were
rendered literally, the meaning would be as follows, - "So that they
became the visible of things not visible," or, not apparent. Thus the
preposition would be joined to the participle to which it belongs.
Besides, the words would then contain a very important truth, - that we
have in this visible world, a conspicuous image of God; and thus the same
truth is taught here, as in Rom. 1: 20, where it is said, that the
invisible things of God are made known to us by the creation of the
world, they being seen in his works. God has given us, throughout the
whole framework of this world, clear evidences of his eternal wisdom,
goodness, and power; and though he is in himself invisible, he in a
manner becomes visible to us in his works.
    Correctly then is this world called the mirror of divinity; not that
there is sufficient clearness for man to gain a full knowledge of God, by
looking at the world, but that he has thus so far revealed himself, that
the ignorance of the ungodly is without excuse. Now the faithful, to whom
he has given eyes, see sparks of his glory, as it were, glittering in
every created thing. The world was no doubt made, that it might be the
theatre of the divine glory.
=====> 11:4. "By faith Abel offered", &c. The Apostle's object in this
chapter is to show, that however excellent were the works of the saints,
it was from faith they derived their value, their worthiness, and all
their excellences; and hence follows what he has already intimated, that
the fathers pleased God by faith alone.
    Now he commends faith here on two accounts, - it renders obedience to
God, for it attempts and undertakes nothing, but what is according to the
rule of God's word, - and it relies on God's promises, and thus it gains
the value and worth which belongs to works from his grace alone. Hence,
wherever the word faith is found in this chapter, we must bear in mind,
that the Apostle speaks of it, in order that the Jews might regard no
other rule than God's word, and might also depend alone on his promises.
    He says, first, that Abel's "sacrifice" was for no other reason
preferable to that of his brother, except that it was sanctified by
faith: for surely the fat of brute animals did not smell so sweetly, that
it could, by its odour, pacify God. The Scripture indeed shows plainly,
why God accepted his sacrifice, for Moses's words are these, "God had
respect to Abel, and to his gifts." It is hence obvious to conclude, that
his sacrifice was accepted, because he himself was graciously accepted.
But how did he obtain this favour, except that his heart was purified by
faith.
    "God testifying", &c. He confirms what I have already stated, that no
works, coming from us can please God, until we ourselves are received
into favour, or to speak more briefy, that no works are deemed just
before God, but those of a just man: for he reasons thus, - God bore a
testimony to Abel's gifts; then he had obtained the praise of being just
before God.
    This doctrine is useful, and ought especially to be noticed, as we
are not easily convinced of its truth; for when in any work, anything
splendid appears, we are immediately rapt in admiration, and we think
that it cannot possibly be disapproved of by God: but God, who regards
only the inward purity of the heart, heeds not the outward masks of
works. Let us then learn, that no right or good work can proceed from us,
until we are justified before God.
    "By it he being dead", &c. To faith he also ascribes this, -  that
God testified that Abel was no less the object of his care after his
death, than during his life: for when he says, that though dead, he still
speaketh, he means, as Moses tells us, that God was moved by his violent
death to take vengeance. When, therefore, Abel or his blood is said to
speak, the words are to be understood figuratively. It was yet a singular
evidence of God's love towards him, that he had a care for him when he
was dead; and it hence appears, that he was one of God's saints, whose
death is precious to him.

=====> 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;
and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his
translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that
cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of
them that diligently seek him.

=====> 11:5. "By faith Enoch", &c. He chose a few of the most ancient,
that he might make a transition to Abraham and his posterity. He teaches
us that through faith, it was that Enoch was translated.
    But we ought especially to consider the reason why God in so unusual
a manner removed him from the earth. The event was remarkable, and hence
all may know how dear he was to God. Impiety and all kinds of corruptions
then prevailed everywhere. Had he died as other men, it would have not
occurred to any, that he was thus preserved from the prevailing contagion
by God's providence; but, as he was taken away without dying, the hand of
God from heaven, removing him as it were from the fire, was openly
manifested. It was not to then an ordinary honour with which God had
favoured him. Moses indeed tells us, that he was a righteous man, and
that he walked with God; but as righteousness begins with faith, it is
justly ascribed to his faith, that he pleased God.
    As to the subtle questions which the curious usually moot, it is
better to pass them over, without taking much notice  of them. They ask,
what became of these two men, Enoch and Elijah? And then, that they may
not appear merely to ask questions, they imagine that they are reserved
for the last days of the Church, that they may then come forth into the
world; and for this purpose the Revelation of John is referred to. Let us
leave this airy philosophy to those light and vain minds, which cannot be
satisfied with what is solid. Let it suffice us to know, that their
translation was a sort of extraordinary death; nor let us doubt but that
they were divested of their mortal and corruptible flesh, in order that
they might, with the other members of Christ, be renewed into a blessed
immortality.
=====> 11:6. "But without faith", &c. What is said here belongs to all
the examples which the Apostle records in this chapter; but as there is
in the passage some measure of obscurity, it is necessary to examine its
meaning more closely.
    But there is no better interpreter than the Apostle himself. The
proof, then, which he immediately subjoins, may serve as an explanation.
The reason he assigns why no one can please God without faith, is this, -
because no one will ever come to God, except he believes that God is, and
is also convinced that he is a remunerator to all who seek him. If access
then to God is not opened, but by faith, it follows, that all who are
without it, are the objects of God's displeasure. Hence the Apostle shows
how faith obtains favour for us, even because faith is our teacher as to
the true worship of God, and makes us certain as to his goodwill, so that
we may not think that we seek him in vain. These two clauses ought not to
be slightly passed over, -  that we must believe that God is, and that we
ought to feel assured that he is not sought in vain.
    It does not indeed seem a great matter, when the Apostle requires us
to believe that God is; but when you more closely consider it, you will
find that there is here a rich, profound, and sublime truth; for though
almost all admit without disputing that God is, yet it is evident, that
except the Lord retains us in the true and certain knowledge of himself,
various doubts will ever creep in, and obliterate every thought of a
Divine Being. To this vanity the disposition of man is no doubt prone, so
that to forget God becomes an easy thing. At the same time the Apostle
does not mean, that men ought to feel assured that there is some God, for
he speaks only of the true God; nay, it will not be sufficient for you to
form a notion of any God you please; but you must understand what sort of
Being the true God is; for what will it profit us to devise and term an
idol, and to ascribe to it the glory due to God?
    We now then perceive what the Apostle means in the first clause; he
denies that we can have an access to God, except we have the truth, that
God is deeply fixed in our hearts, so as not to be led here and there by
various opinions.
    It is hence evident, that men in vain weary themselves in serving
God, except they observe the right way, and that all religions are not
only vain, but also pernicious, with which the true and certain knowledge
of God is not connected; for all are prohibited from having any access to
God, who do not distinguish and separate him from all idols; in short,
there is no religion except where this truth reigns dominant. But if the
true knowledge of God has its seat in our hearts it will not fail to lead
us to honour and fear him; for Gods without his majesty is not really
known. Hence arises the desire to serve him, hence it comes that the
whole life is so formed, that he is regarded as the end in all things
    The second clause is that we ought to be fully persuaded that God is
not sought in vain; and this persuasion includes the hope of salvation
and eternal life, for no one will be in a suitable state of heart to seek
God except a sense of the divine goodness be deeply felt, so as to look
for salvation from him. We indeed flee from God, or wholly disregard him,
when there is no hope of salvation. But let us bear in mind, that this is
what must be really believed, and not held merely as a matter of
opinions; for even the ungodly may sometimes entertain such a notion, and
yet they do not come to God; and for this reason, because they have not a
firm and fixed faith. This then is the other part of faith by which we
obtain favour with God, even when we feel assured that salvation is laid
up for us in him.
    But many shamefully pervert this clause; for they hence elicit the
merits of works, and the conceit about deserving. And they reason thus:
"We please God by faith, because we believe him to be a rewarder; then
faith has respect to the merits of works." This error cannot be better
exposed, than by considering how God is to be sought; while any one is
wandering from the right way of seeking him, he cannot be said to be
engaged in the work. Now Scripture assigns this as the right way, - that
a man, prostrate in himself, and smitten with the conviction that he
deserves eternal death, and in self-despair, is to flee to Christ as the
only asylum for salvation. Nowhere certainly can we find that we are to
bring to God any merits of works to put us in a state of favour with him.
Then he who understands that this is the only right way of seeking God,
will be freed from every difficulty on the subject; for reward refers not
to the worthiness or value of works but to faith.
    Thus, these frigid glosses of the Sophists, such as, "by faith we
please God, for we deserve when we intend to please," fall wholly to the
ground. The Apostle's object was to carry us much higher, even that
conscience might feel assured that it is not a vain thing to seek God;
and this certainty or assurance far exceeds what we can of ourselves
attain, especially when any one considers his ownself. For it is not to
be laid down as an abstract principle, that God is a rewarder to those
who seek him; but every one of us ought individually to apply this
doctrine to himself, so that we may know that we are regarded by God,
that he has such a care for our salvation as never to be wanting to us,
that our prayers are heard by him, that he will be to us a perpetual
deliverer. But as none of these things come to us except through Christ,
our faith must ever regard him and cleave to him alone.
    From these two clauses, we may learn how, and why it is impossible
for man to please God without faith; God justly regards us all as objects
of his displeasure, as we are all by nature under his curse; and we have
no remedy in our own power. It is hence necessary that God should
anticipate us by his grace; and hence it comes, that we are brought to
know that God is, and in such a way that no corrupt superstition can
seduce us, and also that we become assured of a certain salvation from
him.
    Were any one to desire a fuller view of this subject, he should make
his commencement here, - that we in vain attempt to try anything, except
we look to God; for the only true end of life is to promote his glory;
but this can never be done, unless there be first the true knowledge of
him. Yet this is still but the half of faith, and will profit us but
little, except confidence be added. Hence faith will only then be
complete and secure us God's favour, when we shall feel a confidence that
we shall not seek him in vain, and thus entertain the certainty of
obtaining salvation from him. But no one, except he be blinded by
presumption, and fascinated by self-love, can feel assured that God will
be a rewarder of his merits. Hence this confidence of which we speak
recumbs not on works, nor on man's own worthiness, but on the grace of
God alone; and as grace is nowhere found but in Christ, it is on him
alone that faith ought to be fixed.

=====> 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,
moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which
he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by
faith.

=====> 11:7. "By faith Noah", &c. It was a wonderful example of
magnanimity, that when the whole world were promising themselves
impunity, and securely and unrestrainedly indulging themselves in sinful
pleasures, Noah alone paid regard to Gods vengeance though deferred for a
considerable time, - that he greatly wearied himself for a hundred and
twenty years in building the ark, - that he stood unshaken amidst the
scoffs of so many ungodly men, - that he entertained no doubt but that he
would be safe in the midst of the ruin of the whole world, - yea, that he
felt sure of life as it were in the grave, even in the ark. It is briefly
that I shall touch on the subject; each one can better for himself weigh
all the circumstances.
    The Apostle ascribes to faith the praise of so remarkable a
fortitude. He has been hitherto speaking of the fathers who lived in the
first age of the world; but it was a kind of regeneration when Noah and
his family emerged from the deluge. It is hence evident that in all ages
men have neither been approved by God, nor performed anything worthy of
praise otherwise than by faith.
    Let us now then see what are the things he presents to our
consideration in the case of Noah. They are the following, - that having
been warned of things to come, but not yet made visible, he feared, -
that he built an ark, - that he condemned the world by building it, - and
that he became the heir of that righteousness which is faith.
    What I have just mentioned is that which especially sets forth the
power of faith; for the Apostle ever reminds us of this truth, that faith
is the evidence of things not seen; and doubtless it is its peculiar
office to behold in God's word the things which are hid, and far removed
from our senses. When it was declared to Noah that there would be a
deluge after one hundred and twenty years, first, the length of time
might have removed every fear; secondly, the thing in itself seemed
incredible; thirdly, he saw the ungodly heedlessly indulging in sinful
pleasures; and lastly, the terrible announcement of a deluge might have
appeared to him as intended only to terrify men. But Noah attended so
much to God's word, that turning away his eyes from the appearance of
things at that time, he feared the destruction which God had threatened,
as though it was present. Hence the faith which he had in God's word
prepared him to render obedience to God; and of this he afterwards gave a
proof by building the ark.
    But here a question is raised. Why does the Apostle make faith the
cause of fear, since it has respect to promises of grace rather than to
threatening? For Paul for this reason calls the Gospel, in which God's
righteousness is offered to us for salvation, the word of faith. It seems
then to have been improperly stated, that Noah was by faith led to fear.
To this, I reply, that faith indeed properly springs from promises; it is
founded on them, it rests on them. We hence say that Christ is the real
object of faith, for through him our heavenly Father is reconciled to us,
and by him all the promises of salvation are sealed and confirmed. Yet
there is no reason why faith should not look to God and reverently
receive whatever he may say; or if you prefer another way of stating the
subject, it rightly belongs to faith to hear God whenever he speaks, and
unhesitatingly to embrace whatsoever may proceed from his sacred mouth.
Thus far it has regard to commands and threatening, as well as to
gratuitous promises. But as no man is moved as he ought and as much as is
needful, to obey God's commands, nor is sufficiently stirred up to
deprecate his wrath, unless he has already laid hold on the promises of
grace, so as to acknowledge him as a kind Father, and the author of
salvation, - hence the Gospel is called the word of faith, the principal
part being stated for the whole; and thus is set forth the mutual
relation that there is between them both. Faith, then, though its most
direct regard is to God's promises, yet looks on his threatening so far
as it is necessary for it to be taught to fear and obey God.
    "Prepared an ark", &c. Here is pointed out that obedience which flows
from faith as water from a fountain. The work of building the ark was
long and labourious. It might have been haltered by the scoffs of the
ungodly, and thus suspended a thousand times; nor is there a doubt but
they mocked and derided the holy man on every side. That he then bore
their wanton insults with an unshaken spirit, is a proof that his
resolution to obey was not of an ordinary kind. But how was it that he so
perseveringly obeyed God except that he had previously rested on the
promise which gave him the hope of deliverance; and in this confidence he
persevered even to the last; for he could not have had the courage
willingly to undergo so many toils, nor could he have been able to
overcome so many obstacles, nor could he have stood so firm in his
purpose for so long a time, had he not beforehand possessed this
confidence.
    It hence appears that faith alone is the teacher of obedience; and we
may on the contrary draw this conclusion, that it is unbelief that
prevents us to obey God. And at this day the unbelief of the world
exhibits itself dreadfully in this way, for there are a very few who obey
God.
    "By the which he condemned the world", &c. It were strange to say
that Noah's deliverance condemned the world, and the context will hardly
allow faith to be meant; we must then understand this of the ark. And he
is said on two accounts to have by the ark condemned the world; for by
being so long occupied in building it, he took away every excuse from the
wicked; - and the event which followed proved how just was the
destruction of the world; for why was the ark made the means of
deliverance to one family, except that the Lord thus spared a righteous
man that he should not perish with the ungodly. Had he then not been
preserved, the condemnation of the world would not have been so apparent.
Noah then by obeying God's command condemned by his example the obstinate
disobedience of the world: his wonderful deliverance from the midst of
death, was an evidence that the world justly perished; for God would have
doubtless saved it, had it not been unworthy of salvation
    "Of the righteousness which is by faith". This is the last thing in
the character of Noah, which the Apostle reminds us to observe. Moses
records that he was a righteous man: history does not expressly say that
the cause and root of his righteousness was faith, but the Apostle
declares that as arising from the facts of the case. And this is not only
true, because no one ever devotes himself really and sincerely to God's
service, but he who relies on the promises of his paternal kindness, and
feels assured that his life is approved by him; but also on this account,
because the life of no one, however holy it may be, when tried by the
rule of God's law, can please him without pardon being granted. Then
righteousness must necessarily recumb on faith.

=====> 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place
which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went
out, not knowing whither he went.
11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange
country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him
of the same promise:
11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and
maker [is] God.
11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed,
and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged
him faithful who had promised.
11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so
many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by
the sea shore innumerable.

=====> 11:8. "By faith Abraham", &c. He comes now to Abraham, who is the
chief father of God's church on earth, and in whose name the Jews
gloried, as though by the distinction of being the holy race of Abraham
alone, they were removed from the common order of men. But he now reminds
them of what they ought to possess as the main thing, that they might be
counted among his children. He therefore calls their attention to faith,
for Abraham himself had no excellency which did not proceed from faith.
    He first teaches us that faith was the cause why he immediately
obeyed God when he was commanded to remove from his own country; and then
that through the same faith it was that he went on without wavering,
according to what he was called to do even to the end. By these two
things, - his promptness in obeying, and his perseverance, was Abraham's
faith most clearly proved.
    "When he was called", &c. The old Latin translator and Erasmus apply
this to his name, which is extremely tame and frigid. On the contrary, I
refer it to the oracle by which he was called from his own country. He
indeed did in this way undergo a voluntary exile, while yet he did
nothing but by God's command; and no doubt it is one of the chief things
which belong to faith, not to move a step except God's word shows us the
way, and as a lantern gives us light, according to what David says.
(Psalm 110: 105.) Let us then learn that it is a thing to be observed
through life, that we are to undertake nothing to which God does not call
us.
    "To go out into a place", &c. To the command was added a promise,
that God would give him a land for an inheritance. This promise he
immediately embraced, and hastened as though he was sent to take
possession of this land. It is a no ordinary trial of faith to give up
what we have in hand, in order to seek what is afar off, and unknown to
us. For when God commanded him to leave his own country, he did not point
out the place where he intended him to live, but left him in suspense and
perplexity of mind: "go", he said, "into the place that I will show
thee." (Gen. 12: 1.) Why did he defer to point out the pla›e, except that
his faith might be more and more exercised? Besides, the love of his
native land might not only have retarded the alacrity of Abraham, but
also held him so bound to it, so as not to quit his home. His faith then
was not of an ordinary kind, which thus broke through all hindrances and
carried him where the Lord called him to go.
=====> 11:9. "By faith he sojourned", &c. The second particular is, that
having entered into the land, he was hardly received as a stranger and a
sojourner. Where was the inheritance which he had expected? It might have
indeed occurred instantly to his mind, that he had been deceived by God.
Still greater was the disappointment, which the Apostle does not mention,
when shortly after a famine drove him from the country, when he was
compelled to flee to the land of Gerar; but the Apostle considered it
enough to say, as a commendation to his faith, that he became a sojourner
in the land of promise; for to be a sojourner seemed contrary to what had
been promised. That Abraham then courageously sustained this trial was an
instance of great fortitude; but it proceeded from faith alone.
    "With Isaac and Jacob", &c. He does not mean that they dwelt in the
same tent, or lived at the same time; but he makes Abraham's son and
grandson his companions, because they sojourned alike in the inheritance
promised to them, and yet failed not in their faith, however long it was
that God delayed the time; for the longer the delay the greater was the
trial; but by setting up the shield of faith they repelled all the
assaults of doubt and unbelief.
=====> 11:10. "For he looked for", &c. He gives a reason why he ascribes
their patience to faith, even because they looked forward to heaven. This
was indeed to see things invisible. It was no doubt a great thing to
cherish in their hearts the assurance given them by God respecting the
possession of the land until it was after some ages realized; yet as they
did not confine their thoughts, no, not to that land, but penetrated even
into heaven, it was still a clearer evidence of their faith.
    He calls heaven a "city that has foundations", because of its
perpetuity; for in the world there is nothing but what is transitory and
fading. It may indeed appear strange that he makes God the Maker of
heavens as though he did not also create the earth; to this I answer,
that as in earthly buildings, the hands of men make use of materials, the
workmanship of God is not unfitly set in opposition to them. Now,
whatever is formed by men is like its authors in instability; so also is
the perpetuity of the heavenly life, it corresponds with the nature of
God its founder. Moreover, the Apostle teaches us that all weariness is
relieved by expectation, so that we ought never to be weary in following
God.
=====> 11:11. "Through faith also, Sarah herself", &c. That women may
know that this truth belongs to them as well as to men, he adduces the
example of Sarah; which he mentions in preference to that of others,
because she was the mother of all the faithful.
    But it may seem strange that her faith is commended, who was openly
charged with unbelief; for she laughed at the word of the angel as though
it were a fable; and it was not the laugh of wonder and admiration, for
otherwise she would not have been so severely reproved by the angel. It
must indeed be confessed, that her faith was blended with unbelief; but
as she cast aside her unbelief when reproved, her faith is acknowledged
by God and commended. What then she rejected at first as being
incredible, she afterwards as soon as she heard that it came from God,
obediently received.
    And hence we deduce a useful doctrine, - that when our faith in some
things wavers or halts, it ceases not to be approved of God, provided we
indulge not the spirit of unbelief. The meaning then is, that the miracle
which God performed when Isaac was born, was the fruit of the faith of
Abraham, and of his wife, by which they laid hold on the power of God.
    "Because she judged him faithful", &c. These reasons, by which the
power and character of faith are set forth, ought to be carefully
noticed. Were any one only to hear that Sarah brought forth a child
through faith, all that is meant would not be conveyed to him, but the
explanation which the Apostle adds removes every obscurity; for he
declares that Sarah's faith was this, - that she counted God to be true
to his word, that is, to what he had promised.
    There are two clauses to this declaration; for we hence learn first,
that there is no faith without God's word, for of his faithfulness we
cannot be convinced, until he has spoken. And this of itself is
abundantly sufficient to confute the fiction of the sophists respecting
implicit faith; for we must ever hold that there is a mutual relation
between God's word and our faith. But as faith is founded chiefly,
according to what has been already said, on the benevolence or kindness
of God, it is not every word, though coming from his mouth, that is
sufficient; but a promise is necessary as an evidence of his favour.
Hence Sarah is said to have counted God faithful who had promised. True
faith then is that which hears God speaking and rests on his promise.
=====> 11:12. "Therefore sprang there even of one", &c. He now also
reminds the Jews, that it was by faith that they were the descendants of
Abraham; for he was as it were half dead, and Sarah his wife, who had
been barren in the flower of her age, was now sterile, being far advanced
in years. Sooner then might oil be expected to flow from a stone, than a
nation to proceed from them: and yet there sprang from them an
innumerable multitude. If now the Jews are proud of their origin, let
them consider what it was. Whatever they are, everything is doubtless to
be ascribed to the faith of Abraham and Sarah. It hence follows, that
they cannot retain and defend the position they have acquired in any
other way than by faith.

=====> 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced
[them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a
country.
11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence
they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
11:16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly:
wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared
for them a city.

=====> 11:13. "These all died in faith", &c. He enhances by a comparison
the faith of the patriarchs: for when they had only tasted of the
promises, as though fully satisfied with their sweetness, they despised
all that was in the world; and they never forgot the taste of them,
however small it was either in life or in death.
    At the same time the expression "in faith", is differently explained.
Some understand simply this that they died in faith, because in this life
they never enjoyed the promised blessings, as at this day also salvation
is hid from us, being hoped for. But I rather assent to those who think
that there is expressed here a difference between us and the fathers; and
I give this explanation, - "Though God gave to the fathers only a taste
of that grace which is largely poured on us, though he showed to them at
a distance only an obscure representation of Christ, who is now set forth
to us clearly before our eyes, yet they were satisfied and never fell
away from their faith: how much greater reason then have we at this day
to persevere? If we grow faint, we are doubly inexcusable". It is then an
enhancing circumstance, that the fathers had a distant view of the
spiritual kingdom of Christ, while we at this day have so near a view of
it, and that they hailed the promises afar off, while we have them as it
were quite near us; for if they nevertheless persevered even unto death,
what sloth will it be to become wearied in faith, when the Lord sustains
us by so many helps. Were any one to object and say, that they could not
have believed without receiving the promises on which faith is
necessarily founded: to this the answer is, that the expression is to be
understood comparatively; for they were far from that high position to
which God has raised us. Hence it is that though they had the same
salvation promised them, yet they had not the promises so clearly
revealed to them as they are to us under the kingdom of Christ; but they
were content to behold them afar off.
    "And confessed that they were strangers", &c. This confession was
made by Jacob, when he answered Pharaoh, that the time of his pilgrimage
was short compared with that of his fathers, and full of many sorrows.
(Gen. 47: 9.) Since Jacob confessed himself a pilgrim in the land, which
had been promised to him as a perpetual inheritance, it is quite evident
that his mind was by no means fixed on this world, but that he raised it
up above the heavens. Hence the Apostle concludes, that the fathers, by
speaking thus, openly showed that they had a better country in heaven;
for as they were pilgrims here, they had a country and an abiding
habitation elsewhere.
    But if they in spirit amid dark clouds, took a flight into the
celestial country, what ought we to do at this day? For Christ stretches
forth his hand to us, as it were openly, from heaven, to raise us up to
himself. If the land of Canaan did not engross their attention, how much
more weaned from things below ought we to be, who have no promised
habitation in this world?
=====> 11:15. "And truly if they had been mindful", &c. He anticipates an
objection that might have been made, - that they were strangers because
they had left their own country. The apostle meets this objection, and
says, that though they called themselves strangers, they yet did not
think of Mesopotamia; for if they had a desire to return, their might
have done so: but they had willingly banished themselves from it, nay,
they had disowned it, as though it did not belong to them. By another
country, then, they meant, that which is beyond this world.
=====> 11:16. "Wherefore God is not ashamed", &c. He refers to that
passage, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob." (Exod. 3: 6.) It is a singular honour when God makes men
illustrious, by attaching his name to them; and designs thus to have
himself distinguished from idols. This privilege, as the Apostle teaches
us, depends also on faith; for when the holy fathers aspired to a
celestial country, God on the other hand counted them as citizens. We are
hence to conclude, that there is no place for us among God's children,
except we renounce the world, and that there will be for us no
inheritance in heaven, except we become pilgrims on earth; Moreover, the
Apostle justly concludes from these words, - "I am the God of Abraham, of
Isaac, and of Jacob," that they were heirs of heaven, since he who thus
speaks is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

=====> 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and
he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son],
11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
11:19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the
dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of
Joseph; and worshipped, [leaning] upon the top of his staff.
11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the
children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

=====> 11:17. "By faith Abraham", &c. He proceeds with the history of
Abraham, and relates the offering up of his son; and it was a singular
instance of firmness, so that there is hardly another like it to be
found. Hence for the sake of enhancing it, he adds, "when he was
tempted", or tried. Abraham had indeed already proved what he was, by
many trials; yet as this trial surpassed every other, so the Apostle
would have it to be regarded above all his trials. It is then as though
he had said, "The highest excellency of Abraham was the sacrificing of
his son:" for God is said to have then in an especial manner tried him.
And yet this act flowed from faith; then Abraham had nothing more
excellent than faith, which brought forth such extraordinary fruit.
    The word, "tempted" or tried, means no other thing than proved. What
James says, that we are not tempted by God, is to be understood
differently, (Jas. 1: 13;) he means that God does not tempt us to do
evil; for he testifies that this is really done by every man's own lust.
At the same time he says not that God does not try our integrity and
obedience, though God does not thus search us, as if he knew not
otherwise what is hid in our hearts; nay, God wants no probation that he
may know us; but when he brings us to the light, that we may by our works
show what was before hid, he is said to try or prove us; and then that
which is made openly manifest, is said to be made known to God. For it is
a very usual and frequent mode of speaking in Scripture, that what is
peculiar to men is ascribed to God.
    The sacrificing of Isaac is to be estimated according to the purpose
of the heart: for it was not owing to Abraham that he did not actually
perform what he was commanded to do. His resolution to obey was then the
same, as though he had actually sacrificed his son.
    "And offered up his only-begotten son, &c. By these various
circumstances, the Apostle intended to show, how great and how severe the
trial of Abraham was; and there are still other things related by Moses,
which had the same tendency. Abraham was commanded to take his own son,
his only begotten and beloved son Isaac, to lead to the place, which was
afterwards to be shown to him, and there to sacrifice him with his own
hands. These tender words God seems to have designedly accumulated, that
he might pierce the inmost heart of the holy man, as with so many wounds;
and then that he might more severely try him, he commanded him to go a
three-days' journey. How sharp, must we think, was his anguish to have
continually before his eyes his own son, whom he had already resolved to
put to a bloody death! As they were coming to the place, Isaac pierced
his breast with yet a new wound, by asking him, "Where is the victim?"
The death of a son, under any circumstances, must have been very
grievous, a bloody death would have still caused a greater sorrow; but
when he was bidden to slay his own, - that indeed must have been too
dreadful for a father's heart to endure; and he must have been a thousand
times disabled, had not faith raised up his heart above the world. It is
not then without reason, that the apostle records that he was then
"tried".
    It may, however, be asked, why is Isaac called the only begotten, for
Ishmael was born before him and was still living. To this the answer is,
that by God's express command he was driven from the family, so that he
was accounted as one dead, at least, he held no place among Abraham's
children.
    "And he that received the promises", &c. All the things we have
hitherto related, however deeply they must have wounded the heart of
Abraham, yet they were but slight wounds compared with this trial, when
he was commanded, after having received the promises, to slay his son
Isaac; for all the promises were founded on this declaration, "In Isaac
shall thy seed be called," (Gen. 21: 12;) for when this foundation was
taken away, no hope of blessing or of grace remained. Here nothing
earthly was the matter at issue, but the eternal salvation of Abraham,
yea, of the whole world. Into what straits must the holy man have been
brought when it came to his mind, that the hope of eternal life was to be
extinguished in the person of his son? And yet by faith he emerged above
all these thoughts, so as to execute what he was commanded. Since it was
a marvelous fortitude to struggle through so many and so great obstacles,
justly is the highest praise awarded to faith, for it was by faith alone
that Abraham continued invincibly.
    But here arises no small difficulty, How is it that Abraham's faith
is praised when it departs from the promise? For as obedience proceeds
from faith, so faith from the promise; then when Abraham was without the
promise, his faith must have necessarily fallen to the ground. But the
death of Isaac, as it has been already said, must have been the death as
it were of all the promises; for Isaac is not to be considered as a
common man, but as one who had Christ included in him. This question,
which would have been otherwise difficult to be solved, the Apostle
explains by adding immediately, that Abraham ascribed this honour to God,
that he was able to raise his son again from the dead. He then did not
renounce the promise given to him, but extended its power and its truth
beyond the life of his son; for he did not limit God's power to so narrow
bounds as to tie it to Isaac when dead, or to extinguish it. Thus he
retained the promise, because he bound not God's power to Isaac's life,
but felt persuaded that it would be efficacious in his ashes when dead no
less than in him while alive and breathing.
=====> 11:19. "From whence also", &c. As though he said, "Nor did hope
disappoint Abraham, for it was a sort of resurrection, when his son was
so suddenly delivered from the midst of death. The word "figure", which
is here used, is variously explained. I take it simply as meaning
likeness; for though Isaac did not really rise from the dead, yet he
seemed to have in a manner risen, when he was suddenly and wonderfully
rescued through the unexpected favour of God. However, I do not dislike
what some say, who think that our flesh, which is subject to death, is
set forth in the ram which was substituted for Isaac. I also allow that
to be true which some have taught, that this sacrifice was a
representation of Christ. But I have now to state what the Apostle meant,
not what may in truth be said; and the real meaning here, as I think, is,
that Abraham did not receive his Son otherwise than if he had been
restored from death to new life.
=====> 11:20. "By faith Isaac", &c. It was also the work of faith to
bless as to future things; for when the thing itself does not exist and
the word only appears, faith must necessarily bear rule. But first we
must notice of what avail is the blessing of which he speaks. For to
"bless" often means to pray for a blessing. But the blessing of Isaac was
very different; for it was as it were an introduction into the possession
of the land, which God had promised to him and his posterity. And yet he
had nothing in that land but the right of burial. Then strange seemed
these high titles, "Let people serve thee, and tribes bow down to thee,"
(Gen. 27: 29;) for what dominion could he have given who himself was
hardly a free man? We hence see that this blessing depended on faith; for
Isaac had nothing which he could have bestowed on his children but the
word of God.
    It may, however, be doubted whether there was any faith in the
blessing given to Esau, as he was a reprobate and rejected by God. The
answer is easy, for faith mainly shone forth, when he distinguished
between the two twins born to him, so that he gave the first place to the
younger; for following the oracle of God, he took away from the firstborn
the ordinary right of nature. And on this depended the condition of the
whole nation, that Jacob was chosen by God, and that this choice was
sanctioned by the blessing of the father.
=====> 11:21. "By faith Jacob", &c. It was the Apostle's object to
attribute to faith whatever was worthy of remembrance in the history of
the people: as, however, it would have been tedious to recount
everything, he selected a few things out of many, such at this. For the
tribe of Ephraim was so superior to the rest, that they in a manner did
lie down under its shade; for the Scripture often includes the ten tribes
under this name. And yet Ephraim was the younger of the two sons of
Joseph, and when Jacob blessed him and his brother, they were both young.
What did Jacob observe in the younger, to prefer him to the first born?
Nay, when he did so, his eyes were dim with age, so that he could not
see. Nor did he lay his right hand by chance on the head of Ephraim, but
he crossed his hands, so that he moved his right hand to the left side.
Besides, he assigned to them two portions, as though he was now the lord
of that land, from which famine had driven him away. There was nothing
here agreeable to reason; but faith ruled supreme. If, then, the Jews
wish to be anything, they should glory in nothing else, but in faith.
    "And worshipped on the top", &c. This is one of those places from
which we may conclude that the points were not formerly used by the
Hebrews; for the Greek translators could not have made such a mistake as
to put staff here for a bed, if the mode of writing was then the same as
now. No doubt Moses spoke of the head of his couch, when he said |al rosh
hamitah|; but the Greek translators rendered the words, "On the top of
his staff" as though the last word was written, "mathaeh". The Apostle
hesitated not to apply to his purpose what was commonly received: he was
indeed writing to the Jews; but they who were dispersed into various
countries, had changed their own language for the Greek. And we know that
the Apostles were not so scrupulous in this respect, as not to
accommodate themselves to the unlearned, who had as yet need of milk; and
in this there is no danger, provided readers are ever brought back to the
pure and original text of Scripture. But, in reality, the difference is
but little; for the main thing was, that Jacob worshipped, which was an
evidence of his gratitude. He was therefore led by faith to submit
himself to his son.
=====> 11:22. "By faith Joseph", &c. This is the last thing which Moses
records respecting the patriarchs, and it deserves to be particularly
noticed; for wealth, luxuries, and honours, made not the holy man to
forget the promise, nor detained him in Egypt; and this was an evidence
of no small faith. For whence had he so much greatness of mind, as to
look down on whatever was elevated in the world, and to esteem as nothing
whatever was precious in it, except that he had ascended up into heaven.
In ordering his bones to be exported, he had no regard to himself, as
though his grave in the land of Canaan would be sweeter or better than in
Egypt; but his only object was to sharpen the desire of his own nation,
that they might more earnestly aspire after redemption; he wished also to
strengthen their faith, so that they  might confidently hope that they
would be at length delivered.

=====> 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of
his parents, because they saw [he was] a proper child; and they were not
afraid of the king's commandment.
11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the
son of Pharaoh's daughter;
11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than
to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures
in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for
he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

=====> 11:23. "By faith Moses", &c. There have been others, and those
heathens, who from no fear of God, but only from a desire of propagating
an offspring, preserved their own children at the peril of life; but the
Apostle shows that the parents of Moses were inducted to save him for
another reason, even for this, - that as God had promised to them, under
their oppression, that there would come some time a deliverer, they
relied confidently on that promise, and preferred the safety of the
infant to their own.
    But he seems to say what is contrary to the character of faith, when
he says that they were induced to do this by the beauty of the child; for
we know that Jesse was reproved, when he brought his sons to Samuel as
each excelled in personal appearance; and doubtless God would not have us
to regard what is externally attractive. To this I answer, that the
parents of Moses were not charmed with beauty, so as to be induced by
pity to save him, as the case is commonly with men; but that there was
some mark, as it were, of future excellency imprinted on the child, which
gave promise of something extraordinary. There is, then, no doubt but
that by his very appearance they were inspired with the hope of an
approaching deliverance; for they considered that the child was destined
for the performance of great things.
    Moreover, it ought to have had a great weight with the Jews, to hear
that Moses, the minister of their redemption, had been in an
extraordinary manner rescued from death by means of faith. We must,
however, remark, that the faith here praised was verse weak; for after
having disregarded the fear of death, they ought to have brought up
Moses; instead of doing so, they exposed him. It is hence evident that
their faith in a short time not only wavered, but wholly failed; at least
they neglected their duty when they cast forth the infant on the bank of
the river. But it behaves us to be more encouraged when we hear that
their faith, though weak, was yet so approved by God as to secure that
life to Moses, on which depended the deliverance of the Church.
=====> 11:24. "By faith Moses, when he was come to years", &c. The
example of Moses ought to have been remembered by the Jews, more than
that of any other; for through him they were delivered from bondage, and
the covenant of God was renewed, with them, and the constitution of the
Church established by the publication of the Law. But if faith is to be
considered as the main thing in Moses, it would be very strange and
unreasonable that he should draw them away to anything else. It hence
follows that all they make a poor proficiency in the Law who are not
guided by it to faith.
    Let us now see what the things are for which he commends the faith of
Moses. The first excellency he mentions is, that when grown up, he
disregarded the adoption of Pharaoh's daughter. He refers to his age, for
had he done this when a boy, it might have been imputed to his levity, or
his ignorance; for as understanding and reason are not strong in
children, they heedlessly rush headlong into any course of life; young
people also are often carried here and there by unreflecting armour. That
we may then know that nothing was done thoughtlessly, and without a long
deliberation, the Apostle says, that he was of mature age, which is also
evident from history.
    But he is said to have disregarded his adoption; for when he visited
his brethren, when he tried to relieve them, when he avenged their
wrongs, he fully proved that he preferred to return to his own nation,
rather than to remain in the king's court: it was then the same as a
voluntary rejection of it. This the Apostle ascribes to faith; for it
would have been much better for him to remain in Egypt, had he not been
persuaded of the blessing promised to the race of Abraham; and of this
blessing, the only witness was God's promise; for he could see nothing of
the kind with his eyes. It hence appears, that he beheld by faith what
was far removed from his sight. 
=====> 11:26. "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches", &c. This
clause ought to be carefully noticed; for we here learn that we ought to
shun as a deadly poison whatever cannot be enjoyed without offending God;
for the "pleasures of sin" he calls all the allurements of the world
which draw us away from God and our calling. But the comforts of our
earthly life, which we are allowed by pure conscience, and God's
permission to enjoy, are not included here. Let us then ever remember
that we ought to know and understand what God allows us. There are indeed
some things in themselves lawful, but the use of which is prohibited to
us, owing to circumstances as to time, place, or other things. Hence as
to all the blessings connected with the present life, what is ever to be
regarded is, that they should be to us helps and aids to follow God and
not hindrances. And he calls these pleasures of sin temporary or for "a
time", because they soon vanish away together with life itself.
    In opposition to these he sets the "reproach of Christ", which all
the godly ought willingly to undergo. For those whom God has chosen, he
has also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his own son; not
that he exercises them all by the same kind of reproaches or by the same
cross, but that they are all to be so minded as not to decline to
undertake the cross in common with Christ. Let every one then bear in
mind, that as he is called to this fellowship he is to throw off all
hindrances. Nor must we omit to say, that he reckons among the reproaches
of Christ all the ignominious trials which the faithful have had to
endure from the beginning of the world; for as they were the member of
the same body, so they had nothing different from what we have. As all
sorrows are indeed the rewards of sin, so they are also the fruits of the
curse pronounced on the first man: but whatever wrongs we endure from the
ungodly on account of Christ, these he regards as his own. Hence Paul
gloried that he made up what was wanting as to the sufferings of Christ.
Were we rightly to consider this, it would not be so grievous and bitter
for us to suffer for Christ.
    He also explains more fully what he means in this clause by the
"reproach of Christ", by what he has previously declared when he said,
that Moses chose to "suffer affliction with the people of God". He could
not have otherwise avowed himself as one of God's people, except he had
made himself a companion to his own nation in their miseries. Since,
then, this is the end, let us not separate ourselves from the body of the
Church: whatever we suffer, let us know that it is consecrated on account
of the head. So on the other hand he calls those things the "treasures of
Egypt", which no one can otherwise possess than by renouncing and
forsaking the Church.
    "For he had respect unto the recompense of the reward", or for he
looked to the remuneration. He proves by the description he gives, that
the magnanimity of Moses' mind was owing to faith; for he had his eyes
fixed on the promise of God. For he could not have hoped that it would be
better for him to be with the people of Israel than with the Egyptians,
had he not trusted in the promise and in nothing else.
    But if any one hence concludes, that his faith did not recumb on
God's mercy alone, because he had respect to the reward; to this I
answer, that the question here is not respecting righteousness or the
cause of salvation, but that the Apostle generally includes what belongs
to faith. Then faith, as to righteousness before God, does not look on
reward, but on the gratuitous goodness of God, not on our works but on
Christ alone; but faith, apart from justification, since it extends
generally to every word of God, has respect to the reward that is
promised; yea, by faith we embrace whatever God promises: but he promises
reward to works; then faith lays hold on this. But all this has no place
in free justification, for no reward for works can be hoped for, except
the imputation of gratuitous justification goes before
=====> 11:27. "By faith he forsook Egypt", &c. This may be said of his
first as well as of his second departure, that is, when he brought out
the people with him. He then indeed left Egypt when he fled from the
house of Pharaoh. Add to this, that his going out is recorded by the
Apostle before he mentions the celebration of the Passover. He seems then
to speak of the flight of Moses; nor is what he adds, that he "feared not
the wrath of the king", any objection to this, though Moses himself
relates that he was constrained to do so by fear. For if we look at the
beginning of his course he did not fear, that is, when he avowed himself
to be the avenger of his people. However, when I consider all the
circumstances, I am inclined to regard this as his second departure; for
it was then that he bravely disregarded the fierce wrath of the king,
being armed with such power by God's Spirit, that he often of his own
accord defied the fury of that wild beast. It was doubtless an instance
of the wonderful strength of faith, that he brought out a multitude
untrained for war and burdened with many incumbrances, and yet hoped that
a way would be opened to him by God's hand through innumerable
difficulties. He saw a most powerful king in a furious rage, and he knew
that he would not cease till he had tried his utmost. But as he knew that
God had commanded him to depart, he committed the event to him, nor did
he doubt but that he would in dug time restrain all the assaults of the
Egyptians.
    "As seeing him who is invisible". Nay, but he had seen God in the
midst of the burning bush: this then seems to have been said improperly,
and not very suitable to the present subject. I indeed allow, that Moses
was strengthened in his faith by that vision, before he took in hand the
glorious work of delivering the people; but I do not admit that it was
such a view of God, as divested him of his bodily senses, and transferred
him beyond the trials of this world. God at that time only showed him a
certain symbol of his presence; but he was far from seeing God as he is.
Now, the Apostle means, that Moses so endured, as though he was taken up
to heaven, and had God only before his eyes; and as though he had nothing
to do With men, was not exposed to the perils of this world and had no
contests with Pharaoh. And yet, it is certain, that he was surrounded
with so many difficulties, that he could not but think sometimes that God
was far away from him, or at least, that the obstinacy of the king,
furnished as it was with so many means of resistance, would at length
overcome him.
    In short, God appeared to Moses in such a way, as still to leave room
for faith; and Moses, when beset by terrors on every side, turned all his
thoughts to God. He was indeed assisted to do this, by the vision which
we have mentioned; but yet he saw more in God than what that symbol
intimated: for he understood his power, and that absorbed all his fears
and dangers. Relying on God's promise, he felt assured that the people,
though then oppressed by the tyranny of the Egyptians, were already, as
it were, the lords of the promised land.
    We hence learn, that the true character of faith is to set God always
before our eyes; secondly, that faith beholds higher and more hidden
things in God than what our senses can perceive; and thirdly, that a view
of God alone is sufficient to strengthen our weakness, so that we may
become firmer than rocks to withstand all the assaults of Satan. It hence
follows, that the weaker and the less resolute any one is, the less faith
he has.

=====> 11:28 Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of
blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry [land]: which
the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed
about seven days.
11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not,
when she had received the spies with peace.

=====> 11:28. "Through faith he kept the Passover", &c. This ought to
have availed much to commend faith to the Jews; for they held this first
sacrifice of the Passover in the highest esteem. But, he says, that it
was kept by faith, not because the Paschal lamb was a type of Christ, but
because its benefit did not appear, when he sprinkled the doorposts with
blood: when therefore the effect was yet hid, it was necessarily looked
for by faith. Nay, it might have seemed strange, that Moses should set a
few drops of blood, as a remedy, in opposition to God's vengeance; but
being satisfied with God's word alone, that the people would be exempt
from the scourge that was coming on the Egyptians, he did not hesitate.
Hence the Apostle justly commends his faith in this respect.
    They who explain that the Passover was by faith celebrated by Moses,
because he had respect to Christ, say indeed what is true; but the
Apostle here records simply his faith, because he acquiesced in God's
word alone, when the effect did not appear: therefore out of place here
are philosophical refinements. And the reason why he mentions Moses
alone, as celebrating the Passover, seems to be this, that God through
him instituted the Passover.
=====> 11:29. "By faith they passed", &c. It is certain, that many in
that multitude were unbelieving; but the Lord granted to the faith of a
few, that the whole multitude should pass through the Red Sea dry-shod.
But in doing the same thing, there was a great difference between the
Israelites and the Egyptians; while the former passed through safely, the
latter coming after them were drowned. Whence was this difference, but
that the Israelites had the word of God, and that the Egyptians were
without it. The argument then derives its force from what happened to the
contrary; hence, he says, that the "Egyptians were drowned". That
disastrous event was the punishment of their temerity, as on the other
hand, the Israelites were preserved safe, because they relied on God's
word, and refused not to march through the midst of the waters. 
=====> 11:30. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell", &c. As he had before
taught us, that the yoke of bondage was by faith broken asunder, so now
he tells us, that by the same faith the people gained the possession of
the promised land. For at their first entrance the city Jericho stood in
their way; it being fortified and almost impregnable, it impeded any
farther progress, and they had no means to assail it. The Lord commanded
all the men-of-war to go round it once every day, and on the seventh day
seven times. It appeared to be a work childish and ridiculous; and yet
they obeyed the divine command; nor did they do so in vain, for success
according to the promise followed. It is evident, that the walls did not
fall through the shout of men, or the sound of trumpets; but because the
people believed that the Lord would do what he had promised.
    We may also apply this event to our benefit and instruction: for it
is not otherwise, than by faith, that we can be freed from the tyranny of
the Devil, and be brought to liberty; and by the same faith, it is that
we can put to flight our enemies, and that all the strongholds of hell
can be demolished.
=====> 11:31. "By faith the harlot Rahab", &c. Though at the first view,
this example may seem, on account of the meanness of the person, hardly
entitled to notice, and even unworthy of being recorded, yet it was not
unsuitably, nor without reason, adduced by the Apostle. He has hitherto
shown that the Patriarchs, whom the Jews most honoured and venerated, did
nothing worthy of praise except through faith; and that all the benefits
conferred on us by God, even the most remarkable, have been the fruits of
the same faith: but he now teaches us, that an alien woman, not only of a
humble condition among her own people, but also a harlot, had been
adopted into the body of the Church through faith.
    It hence follows, that those who are most exalted, are of no account
before God, unless they have faith; and that, on the other hand, those
who are hardly allowed a place among the profane and the reprobate, are
by faith introduced into the company of angels.
    Moreover, James also bears testimony to the faith of Rahab, (James 2:
2r,) and it may be easily concluded from sacred history, that she was
endued with true faith; for she professed her full persuasion of what God
had promised to the Israelites; and of those whom fear kept from entering
the land, she asked pardon for herself and her friends, as though they
were already conquerors; and in all this, she did not consider men, but
God himself. The evidence of her faith was, that she received the spies
at the peril of her life: then, by means of faith, she escaped safe from
the ruin of her own city. She is mentioned as a "harlot", in order to
amplify the grace of God.
    Some, indeed, render |zonah| a hostess, as though she kept a public
house, or an inn; but as the word means a harlot everywhere in Scripture,
there is no reason why we should explain it otherwise in this place. The
Rabbis, thinking it strange and disgraceful to their nation, were it
said, that the spies entered into the house of a harlot; have invented
this forced meaning. But such a fear was groundless; for in the history
of Joshua, this word, harlot, is expressly added, in order that we may
know that the spies came into the city Jericho clandestinely, and
concealed themselves in a harlot's house. At the same time this must be
understood of her past life; for faith is an evidence of repentance.

=====> 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to
tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of]
David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:
11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained
promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out
of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight
the armies of the aliens.

=====> 11:32. "And what shall I say more?" &c. As it was to be feared,
that by referring to a few examples, he should appear to confine the
praises of faith to a few men; he anticipates this, and says, that there
would be no end if he was to dwell on every instance; for what he had
said of a few extended to the whole Church of God.
    He first refers to the time that intervened between Joshua and David,
when the Lord raised up judges to govern the people; and such were the
four he now mentions, "Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah".
    It seemed indeed strange in "Gideon", with three hundred men to
attack an immense host of enemies, and to shake pitchers appeared like a
sham alarm. "Barak" was far inferior to his enemies, and was guided only
by the counsel of a woman. "Samson" was a mere countryman, and had never
used any other arms than the implements of husbandry: what could he do
against such proved conquerors, by whose power the whole people had been
subdued? Who would not at first have condemned the rashness of Jephthah,
who avowed himself the avenger of a people already past hope? But as they
all followed the guidance of God, and being animated by his promise,
undertook what was commanded them, they have been honoured with the
testimony of the Holy Spirit.
    Then the Apostle ascribes all that was praiseworthy in them to faith;
though there was not one of them whose faith did not halt. "Gideon" was
slower to take up arms than what he ought to have been; nor did he
venture without some hesitation to commit himself to God. "Barak" at
first trembled, so that he was almost forced by the reproofs of Deborah.
Samson being overcome by the blandishments of a concubine,
inconsiderately betrayed the safety of the whole people. Jephthah, hasty
in making a foolish vow, and too obstinate in performing it, marred the
finest victory by the cruel death of his own daughter. Thus, in all the
saints, something reprehensible is ever to be found; yet faith, though
halting and imperfect, is still approved by God. There is, therefore, no
reason why the faults we labour under should break us down, or dishearten
us, provided we by faith go on in the race of our calling. 
    "Of David", &c. Under David's name he includes all the pious kings,
and to them he adds "Samuel" and the "Prophets". He therefore means in
short to teach us, that the kingdom of Judah was founded in faith; and
that it stood to the last by faith. The many victories of David, which he
had gained over his enemies, were commonly known. Known also, was the
uprightness of Samuel, and his consummate wisdom in governing the people.
Known too were the great favours conferred by God on prophets and kings.
The Apostle declares that there are none of these things which ought not
to be ascribed to faith.
    But it is to some only of these innumerable benefits of God that he
refers, in order that the Jews might from them draw a general conclusion,
- that as the Church has always been preserved by God's hand through
faith, so at this day there is no other way by which we may know his
kindness towards us.
    It was by faith that David so many times returned home as a
conqueror; that Hezekiah recovered from his sickness; that Daniel came
forth safe and untouched from the lions' den, and that his friends walked
in a burning furnace as cheerfully as on a pleasant meadow. Since all
these things were done by faith, we must feel convinced, that in no other
way than by faith is God's goodness and bounty to be communicated to us.
And that clause ought especially to be noticed by us, where it is said
that they "obtained the promises" by faith; for though God continues
faithful, were we all unbelieving, yet our unbelief makes the promises
void, that is, ineffectual to us.
=====> 11:34. "Out of weakness were made strong", &c. Chrysostom refers
this to the restoration of the Jews from exile, in which they were like
men without hope; I do not disapprove of its applications to Hezekiah. We
might at the same time extend it wider, that the Lord, by his hand,
raised on high his saints, whenever they were cast down; and brought help
to their weakness, so as to endue them with full strength.

=====> 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others
were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better
resurrection:
11:36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea,
moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain
with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being
destitute, afflicted, tormented;
11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and
[in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,
received not the promise:
11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
should not be made perfect.

=====> 11:35. "Women received", &c. He had already mentioned instances in
which God had remunerated the faith of his servants, he now refers to
examples of a different kind, - that saints, reduced to extreme miseries,
struggled by faith so as to persevere invincible even to death. These
instances at the first view widely differ: some triumphed gloriously over
vanquished enemies, were preserved by the Lord through various miracles,
and were rescued by means new and unusual from the midst of death; while
others were shamefully treated, were despised by almost the whole world,
were consumed by want, were so hated by all as to be compelled to hide
themselves in the coverts of wild beasts, and lastly, were drawn forth to
endure savage and cruel tortures: and these last seemed wholly destitute
of God's aid, when he thus exposed them to the pride and the cruelty of
the ungodly. They seem then to have been very differently treated from
the former ones; and yet faith ruled in both, and was alike powerful in
both; nay, in the latter its power shone forth in a much clearer light.
For the victory of faith appears more splendid in the contempt of death
than if life were extended to the fifth generation. It is a more glorious
evidence of faith, and worthy of higher praise, when reproaches, want,
and extreme troubles are borne with resignation and firmness, than when
recovery from sickness is miraculously obtained, or any other benefit
from God.
    The sum of the whole is, that the fortitude of the saints, which has
shone forth in all ages, was the work of faith; for our weakness is such
that we are not capable of overcoming evils, except faith sustains us.
But we hence learn, that all who really trust in God are endued with
power sufficient to resist Satan in whatever way he may assail them, and
especially that patience in enduring evils shall never be wanting to us,
if faith be possessed; and that, therefore, we are proved guilty of
unbelief when we faint under persecutions and the cross. For the nature
of faith is the same now as in the days of the holy fathers whom the
Apostle mentions. If, then, we imitate their faith, we shall nearer
basely break down through sloth or listlessness.
    "Others were tortured", &c. As to this verb, |etumpanisthesan|, I
have followed Erasmus, though others render it "imprisoned." But the
simple meaning is, as I think, that they were stretched on a rack, as the
skin of a drum, which is distended. By saying that they were "tempted",
he seems to have spoken what was superfluous; and I doubt not but that
the likeness of the words, |epristhesan| and |epeirasthesan|, was the
reason that the word was added by some unskilful transcriber, and thus
crept into the text, as also Erasmus has conjectured. By "sheepskins" and
"goatskins" I do not think that tents made of skins are meant, but the
mean and rough clothing of the saints which they put on when wandering in
deserts.
    Now though they say that Jeremiah was stoned, that Isaiah was sawn
asunder, and though sacred history relates that Elijah, Elisha, and other
Prophets, wandered on mountains and in caves; yet I doubt not but he here
points out those persecutions which Antiochus carried on against God's
people, and those which afterwards followed.
    "Not accepting deliverance", &c. Most fitly does he speak here; for
they must have purchased a short lease of life by denying God; but this
would have been a price extremely shameful. That they might then live
forever in heaven, they rejected a life on earth, which would have cost
them, as we have said, so much as the denial of God, and also the
repudiation of their own calling. But we hear what Christ says, that if
we seek to save our lives in this world, we shall lose them for ever. If,
therefore, the real love of a future resurrection dwells in our hearts,
it will easily lead us to the contempt of death. And doubtless we ought
to live only so as to live to God: as soon as we are not permitted to
live to God, we ought willingly and not reluctantly to meet death.
Moreover, by this verse the Apostle confirms what he had said, that the
saints overcome all sufferings by faith; for except their minds had been
sustained by the hope of a blessed resurrection, they must have
immediately failed.
    We may hence also derive a needful encouragement, by which we may
fortify ourselves in adversities. For we ought not to refuse the Lord's
favour of being connected with so many holy men, whom we know to have
been exercised and tried by many sufferings. Here indeed are recorded,
not the sufferings of a few individuals, but the common persecutions of
the Church, and those not for one or two years, but such as continued
sometimes from grandfathers even to their grandchildren. No wonder, then,
if it should please God to prove our faith at this day by similar trials;
nor ought we to think that we are forsaken by him, who, we know, cared
for the holy fathers who suffered the same before us.
=====> 11:38. "Of whom the world was not worthy", &c. As the holy
Prophets wandered as fugitives among wild beasts, they might have seemed
unworthy of being sustained on the earth; for how was it that they could
find no place among men? But the Apostle inverts this sentiment, and says
that the world was not worthy of them; for wherever God's servants come,
they bring with them his blessing like the fragrance of a sweet odour.
Thus the house of Potiphar was blessed for Joseph's sake, (Gen. 39: 5;)
and Sodom would have been spared had ten righteous men been found in it.
(Gen. 18: 32.) Though then the world may cast out God's servants as
offscourings, it is yet to be regarded as one of its judgments that it
cannot bear them; for there is ever accompanying them some blessing from
God. Whenever the righteous are taken away from us, let us know that such
events are presages of evil to us; for we are unworthy of having them
with us, lest they should perish together with us.
    At the same time the godly have abundant reasons for consolation,
though the world may cast them out as offscourings; for they see that the
same thing happened to the prophets, who found more clemency in wild
animals than in men. It was with this thought that Hilary comforted
himself when he saw the church taken possession of by sanguinary tyrants,
who then employed the Roman emperor as their executioner; yea, that holy
man then called to mind what the Apostle here says of the Prophets; -
"Mountains and forests," he said, "and dungeons and prisons, are safer
for me than splendid temples; for the Prophets, while abiding or buried
in these, still prophesied by the Spirit of God." So also ought we to be
animated so as boldly to despise the world; and were it to cast us out,
let us know that we go forth from a fatal gulf, and that God thus
provides for our safety, so that we may not sink in the same destruction.
=====> 11:39. "And these all", &c. This is an argument from the less to
the greater; for if they on whom the light of grace had not as yet so
brightly shone displayed so great a constancy in enduring evils, what
ought the full brightness of the Gospel to produce in us? A small spark
of light led them to heaven; when the sun of righteousness shines over
us, with what pretence can we excuse ourselves if we still cleave to the
earth? This is the real meaning of the Apostle.
    I know that Chrysostom and others have given a different explanation,
but the context clearly shows, that what is intended here is the
difference in the grace which God bestowed on the faithful under the Law,
and that which he bestows on us now. For since a more abundant grace is
poured on us, it would be very strange that we should have less faith in
us. He then says that those fathers who were endued with so remarkable a
faith, had not yet so strong reasons for believing as we have.
Immediately after he states the reason, because God intended to unite us
all into one body, and that he distributed a small portion of grace to
them, that he might defer its full perfection to our time, even to the
coming of Christ.
    And it is a singular evidence of God's benevolence towards us, that
though he has shown himself bountifully to his children from the
beginning of the world, he yet has so distributed his grace as to provide
for the well-being of the whole body. What more could any of us desire,
than that in all the blessings which God bestowed on Abraham, Moses,
David, and all the Patriarchs, on the Prophets and godly kings, he should
have a regard for us, so that we might be united together with them in
the body of Christ? Let us then know that we are doubly and treble
ungrateful to God, if less faith appears in us under the kingdom of
Christ than the fathers had under the Law, as proved by so many
remarkable examples of patience. By the words, that they received not the
promise, is to be understood its ultimate fulfilment, which took place in
Christ, on which subject something has been said already.


Chapter 12

=====> 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a
cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth
so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set
before us,
12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for
the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against
himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

=====> 12:1. "Wherefore, seeing we also", &c. This conclusion is, as it
were, an epilogue to the former chapter, by which he shows the end for
which he gave a catalogue of the saints who excelled in faith under the
Law, even that every one should be prepared to imitate them; and he calls
a large multitude metaphorically a "cloud", for he sets what is dense in
opposition to what is thinly scattered. Had they been a few in number,
yet they ought to have roused us by their example; but as they were a
vast throng, they ought more powerfully to stimulate us.
    He says that we are so surrounded by this dense throng, that wherever
we turn our eyes many examples of faith immediately meet us. The word
"witnesses" I do not take in a general sense, as though he called them
the martyrs of God, and I apply it to the case before us, as though he
had said that faith is sufficiently proved by their testimony, so that no
doubt ought to he entertained; for the virtues of the saints are so many
testimonies to confirm us, that we, relying on them as our guides and
associates, ought to go onward to God with more alacrity.
    "Let us lay aside every weight", or every burden, &c. As he refers to
the likeness of a race, he bids us to be lightly equipped; for nothing
more prevents haste than to be encumbered with burdens. Now there are
various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, such as the
love of this present life, the pleasures of the world, the lusts of the
flesh, worldly cares, riches also and honours, and other things of this
kind. Whosoever, then, would run in the course prescribed by Christ, must
first disentangle himself from all these impediments, for we are already
of ourselves more tardy than we ought to be, so no other causes of delay
should be added.
    We are not however bidden to cast away riches or other blessings of
this life, except so far as it they retard our course for Satan by these
as by toils retains and impedes us.
    Now, the metaphor of a race is often to be found in Scripture; but
here it means not any kind of race, but a running contest, which is wont
to call forth the greatest exertions. The import of what is said then is,
that we are engaged in a contest, even in a race the most celebrated,
that many witnesses stand around us, that the Son of God is the umpire
who invites and exhorts us to secure the prize, and that therefore it
would be most disgraceful for us to grow weary or inactive in the midst
of our course. And at the same time the holy men whom he mentioned, are
not only witnesses, but have been associates in the same race, who have
beforehand shown the way to us; and yet he preferred calling them
witnesses rather than runners, in order to intimate that they are not
rivals, seeking to snatch from us the price, but approves to applaud and
hail our victory; and Christ also is not only the umpire, but also
extends his hand to us, and supplies us with strength and energy; in
short, he prepares and fits us to enter on our course, and by his power
leads us on to the end of the race.
    "And the sin which does so easily beset us", or, stand around us, &c.
This is the heaviest burden that impedes us. And he says that we are
entangled, in order that we may know, that no one is fit to run except he
has stripped off all toils and snares. He speaks not of outward, or, as
they say, of actual sin, but of the very fountain, even concupiscence or
lust, which so possesses every part of us, that we feel that we are on
every side held by its snares.
    "Let us run with patience", &c. By this word "patience", we are ever
reminded of what the Apostle meant to be mainly regarded in faith, even
that we are in spirit to seek the kingdom of God, which is invisible to
the flesh, and exceeds all that our minds can comprehend; for they who
are occupied in meditating on this kingdom can easily disregard all
earthly things. He thus could not more effectually withdraw the Jews from
their ceremonies, than by calling their attention to the real exercises
of faith, by which they might learn that Christ's kingdom is spiritual,
and far superior to the elements of the world.
=====> 12:2. "Who for the joy that was set before him", &c. Though the
expression in Latin is somewhat ambiguous, yet according to the words in
Greek the Apostle's meaning is quite clear; for he intimates, that though
it was free to Christ to exempt himself from all trouble and to lead a
happy life, abounding in all good things, he yet underwent a death that
was bitter, and in every way ignominious. For the expression, "for joy",
is the same as, instead of joy; and joy includes every kind of enjoyment.
And he says, "set before him", because the power of availing himself of
this joy was possessed by Christ, had it so pleased him. At the same time
if any one thinks that the preposition |anti| denotes the final cause, I
do not much object; then the meaning would be, that Christ refused not
the death of the cross, because he saw its blessed issue. I still prefer
the former exposition.
    But he commends to us the patience of Christ on two accounts, because
he endured a most bitter death, and because he despised shame. He then
mentions the glorious end of his tenth, that the faithful might know that
all the evils which they may endure will end in their salvation and
glory, provided they follow Christ. So also says James, "Ye have heard of
the patience of Job, and ye know the end." (James 5: 11.) Then the
Apostle means that the end of our sufferings will be the same with those
of Christ, according to what is said by Paul, "If we suffer with him, we
shall also reign together." (Rom. 8: 17.)
=====> 12:3. "For consider him", &c. He enforces his exhortation by
competing Christ with us; for if the Son of God, whom it behaves all to
adore, willingly underwent such severe conflicts, who of us should dare
to refuse to submit with him to the same? For this one thought alone
ought to be sufficient to conquer all temptations, that is, when we know
that we are companions or associates of the Son of God, and that he, who
was so far above us, willingly came down to our condition, in order that
he might animate us by his own example; yea, it is thus that we gather
courage, which would otherwise melt away, and turn as it were into
despair. 

=====> 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as
unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor
faint when thou art rebuked of him:
12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom
he receiveth.
12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what
son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then
are ye bastards, and not sons.

=====> 12:4. "Ye have not yet, resisted unto blood", &c. He proceeds
farther, for he reminds us, that even when the ungodly persecute us for
Christ's sake, we are then contending against sin. Into this contest
Christ could not enter, for he was pure and free from all sin; in this
respect, however, we are unlike him, for sin always dwells in us, and
afflictions serve to subdue and put it to flight.
    In the first place we know that all the evils which are in the world,
and especially death, proceed from sin; but this is not what the Apostle
treats of; he only teaches us, that the persecutions which we endure for
the Gospel's sake, are on another account useful to us, even because they
are remedies to destroy sin; for in this way God keeps us under the yoke
of his discipline, lest our flesh should become wanton; he sometimes also
thus checks the impetuous, and sometimes punishes our sins, that we may
in future be more cautious. Whether then he applies remedies to our sins,
or anticipates us before we sin, be thus exercises us in the conflict
with sin, referred to by the Apostle. With this honour indeed the Son of
God favours us, that he by no means regards what we suffer for his Gospel
as a punishment for sin. It behoves us still to acknowledge what we hear
from the Apostle in this place, that we so plead and defend the cause of
Christ against the ungodly, that at the same time we are carrying on war
with sin, our intestine enemy. Thus God's grace towards us is twofold -
the remedies he applies to heal our vices, he employs for the purpose of
defending his gospel.
    But let us bear in mind whom he is here addressing, even those who
had joyfully suffered the loss of their goods and had endured many
reproaches; and yet he charges them with sloth, because they were
fainting half way in the contest, and were not going on strenuously to
the end. There is therefore no reason for us to ask a discharge from the
Lord, whatever service we may have performed; for Christ will have no
discharged soldiers, but those who have conquered death itself.
=====> 12:5. "And ye have forgotten", &c. I read the words as a question;
for he asks, whether they had forgotten, intimating that it was not yet
time to forget. But he enters here on the doctrine, that it is useful and
needful for us to be disciplined by the cross; and he refers to the
testimony of Solomon, which includes two parts; the first is, that we are
not to reject the Lord's correction; and in the second the reason is
given, because the Lord loves those whom he chastises. But as Solomon
thus begins, my "Son", the Apostle reminds us that we ought to be allured
by so sweet and kind a word, as that this exhortation should wholly
penetrate into our hearts.
    Now Solomon's argument is this: - If the scourges of God testify his
love towards us, it is a shame that they should be regarded with dislike
or hatred. For they who bear not to be chastised by God for their own
salvation, yea, who reject a proof of his paternal kindness, must be
extremely ungrateful.
=====> 12:6. "For whom the Lord loveth, &c. This seems not to be a
well-founded reason; for God visits the elect as well as the reprobate
indiscriminately, and his scourges manifest his wrath oftener than his
love; and so the Scripture speaks, and experience confirms. But yet it is
no wonder that when the godly are addressed, the effect of chastisements
which they feel, is alone referred to. For however severe and angry a
judge God may show himself towards the reprobate, whenever he punishes
them; yet he has no other end in view as to the elect, but to promote
their salvation; it is a demonstration of his paternal love. Besides, the
reprobate, as they know not that they are governed by God's hand, for the
most part think that afflictions come by chance. As when a perverse
youth, leaving his father's house, wanders far away and becomes exhausted
with hunger, cold, and other evils, he indeed suffers a just punishment
for his folly, and learns by his sufferings the benefit of being obedient
and submissive to his father, but yet he does not acknowledge this as a
paternal chastisement; so is the case with the ungodly, who having in a
manner removed themselves from God and his family, do not understand that
God's hand reaches to them.
    Let us then remember that the taste of God's love towards us cannot
be had by us under chastisements, except we be fully persuaded that they
are fatherly scourges by which he chastises us for our sins. No such
thing can occur to the minds of the reprobate, for they are like
fugitives. It may also be added, that judgment must begin at God's house;
though, then, he may strike aliens and domestics alike, he yet so puts
forth his hand as to the latter as to show that they are the objects of
his peculiar care. But the previous one is the true solution, even that
every one who knows and is persuaded that he is chastised by God, must
immediately be led to this thought, that he is chastised because he is
loved by God. For when the faithful see that God interposes in their
punishment, they perceive a sure pledge of his love, for unless he loved
them he would not be solicitous about their salvation. Hence the Apostle
concludes that God is offered as a Father to all who endure correction.
For they who kick like restive horses, or obstinately resist, do not
belong to this class of men. In a word, then, he teaches us that God's
corrections are then only paternal, when we obediently submit to him.
=====> 12:7. "For what son is he", &c. He reasons from the common
practice of men, that it is by no means right or meet that God's children
should be exempt from the discipline of the cross; for if no one is to be
found among us, at least no prudent man and of a sound judgment, who does
not correct his children - for without discipline they cannot be led to a
right conduct - how much less will God neglect so necessary a remedy, who
is the best and the wisest Father?
    If any one raises an objection, and says that corrections of this
kind cease among men as soon as children arrive at manhood: to this I
answer, that as long as we live we are with regard to God no more than
children, and that this is the reason why the rod should ever be applied
to our backs. Hence the Apostle justly infers, that all who seek
exemption from the cross do as it were withdraw themselves from the
number of his children.
    It hence follows that the benefit of adoption is not valued by us as
it ought to be, and that the grace of God is wholly rejected when we seek
to withdraw ourselves from his scourges; and this is what all they do who
bear not their afflictions with patience. But why does he call those who
refuse correction bastards rather than aliens? Even because he was
addressing those who were members of the Church, and were on this account
the children of God. He therefore intimates that the profession of Christ
would be false and deceitful if they withdrew themselves from the
discipline of the Father, and that they would thus become bastards, and
be no more children.

=====> 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected
[us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in
subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own
pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his
holiness.
12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of
righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

=====> 12:9. "Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh", &c. This
comparison has several parts: the first is, that if we showed so much
reverence to the fathers from whom we have descended according to the
flesh, as to submit to their discipline, much more honour is due to God
who is our spiritual Father; another is, that the discipline which
fathers use as to their children is only useful for the present life, but
that God looks farther, having in view to prepare us for an eternal life;
and the third is, that men chastise their children as it seems good to
them, but that God regulates his discipline in the best manner, and with
perfect wisdom, so that there is nothing in it but what is duly ordered.
He then, in the first place, makes this difference between God and men,
that they are the fathers of the flesh, but he of the spirit; and on this
difference he enlarges by comparing the flesh with the spirit.
    But it may be asked, Is not God the Father also of our flesh? For it
is not without reason that Job mentions the creation of men as one of the
chief miracles of God: hence on this account also he is justly entitled
to the name of Father. Were we to say that he is called the Father of
spirits, because he alone creates and regenerates our souls without the
aid of man, it might be said again that Paul glories in being the
spiritual father of those whom he had begotten in Christ by the Gospel.
To these things I reply, that God is the Father of the body as well as of
the soul, and, properly speaking, he is indeed the only true Father; and
that this name is only as it were by way of concession applied to men,
both in regard of the body and of the soul. As, however, in creating
souls, he does use the instrumentality of men, and as he renews them in a
wonderful manner by the power of the Spirit, he is peculiarly called, by
way of eminence, the Father of spirits.
    When he says, "and we gave them reverence", he refers to a feeling
implanted in us by nature, so that we honour parents even when they treat
us harshly. By saying, "in subjection to the Father of spirits", he
intimates that it is but just to concede to God the authority he has over
us by the right of a Father. By saying, "and live", he points out the
cause or the end, for the conjunction "and" is to be rendered "that", -
"that we may live." Now we are reminded by this word "live", that there
is nothing more ruinous to us than to refuse to surrender ourselves in
obedience to God.
=====> 12:10. "For they verily for a few days", &c. The second
amplification of the subject, as I have said, is that God's chastisements
are appointed to subdue and mortify our flesh, so that we may be renewed
for a celestial life. It hence appears that the fruit or benefit is to be
perpetual; but such a benefit cannot be expected from men, since their
discipline refers to civil life, and therefore properly belongs to the
present world. It hence follows that these chastisements bring far
greater benefit, as the spiritual holiness conferred by God far exceeds
the advantages which belong to the body.
    Were any one to object and say, that it is the duty of parents to
instruct their children in the fear and worship of God, and that
therefore their discipline seems not to be confined to so short a time;
to this the answer is, that this is indeed true, but the Apostle speaks
here of domestic life, as we are wont commonly to speak of civil
government; for though it belongs to magistrates to defend religion, yet
we say that their office is confined to the limits of this life, for
otherwise the civil and earthly government cannot be distinguished from
the spiritual kingdom of Christ.
    Moreover when God's "chastisements" are said to be profitable to make
men "partners of his holiness", this is not to be so taken as though they
made us really holy, but that they are helps to sanctify us, for by them
the Lord exercises us in the work of mortifying the flesh.
=====> 12:11. "Now no chastening", &c. This he adds, lest we should
measure God's chastisements by our present feelings; for he shows that we
are like children who dread the rod and shun it as much as they can, for
owing to their age they cannot yet judge how useful it may be to them.
The object, then, of this admonition is, that chastisements cannot be
estimated aright if judged according to what the flesh feels under them,
and that therefore we must fix our eyes on the end: we shall thus receive
the "peaceable fruit of righteousness". And by the "fruit of
righteousness" he means the fear of the Lord and a godly and holy life,
of which the cross is the teacher. He calls it "peaceable", because in
adversities we are alarmed and disquieted, being tempted by impatience,
which is always noisy and restless; but being chastened, we acknowledge
with a resigned mind how profitable did that become to us which before
seemed bitter and grievous.

=====> 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble
knees;
12:13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be
turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man
shall see the Lord:
12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any
root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be
defiled;
12:16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for
one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the
blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he
sought it carefully with tears.

=====> 12:12. "Wherefore, lift up", &c. After having taught us that God
regards our salvation when he chastises us, he then exhorts us to exert
ourselves vigorously; for nothing will more weaken us and more fully
discourage us than through the influence of a false notion to have no
taste of God's grace in adversities. There is, therefore, nothing more
efficacious to raise us up than the intimation that God is present with
us, even when he afflicts us, and is solicitous about our welfare. But in
these words he not only exhorts us to bear afflictions with courage, but
also reminds us that there is no reason for us to be supine and slothful
in performing our duties; for we find more then we ought by experience
how much the fear of the cross prevents us to serve God as it behoves us.
Many would be willing to profess their faith, but as they fear
persecution, hands and feet are wanting to that pious feeling of the
mind. Many would be ready to contend for God's glory, to defend what is
good and just in private and in public, and to do their duties to God and
their brethren; but as danger arises from the hatred of the wicked, as
they see that troubles, and those many, are prepared for them, they rest
idly with their hands as it were folded.
    Were then this extreme fear of the cross removed, and were we
prepared for endurance, there would be nothing in us not fitted and
adapted for the work of doing God's will. This, then, is what the Apostle
means here, "You have your hands," he says, "hanging down and your knees
feeble, because ye know not what real consolation there is in adversity;
hence ye are slow to do your duty: but now as I have shown how useful to
you is the discipline of the cross, this doctrine ought to put new vigour
in all your members, so that you may be ready and prompt, both with your
hands and feet, to follow the call of God." Moreover, he seems to allude
to a passage in Isaiah, (Isa. 35: 3;) and there the Prophet commands
godly teachers to strengthen trembling knees and weak hands by giving
them the hope of favour; but the Apostle bids all the faithful to do
this; for since this is the benefit of the consolation which God offers
to us, then as it is the office of a teacher to strengthen the whole
Church, so every one ought, by applying especially the doctrine to his
own case, to strengthen and animate himself.
=====> 12:13. "And make straight paths", &c. He has been hitherto
teaching us to lean on God's consolations, so that we may be bold and
strenuous in doing what is right, as his help is our only support; he now
adds to this another thing, even that we ought to walk prudently and to
keep to a straight course; for indiscreet ardour is no less an evil than
inactivity and softness. At the same time this straightness of the way
which he recommends, is preserved when a man's mind is superior to every
fear, and regards only what God approves; for fear is ever very ingenious
in finding out byways. As then we seek circuitous courses, when entangled
by sinful fear; so on the other hand every one who has prepared himself
to endure evils, goes on in a straight way wheresoever the Lord calls
him, and turns not either to the right hand or to the left. In short, he
prescribes to us this rule for our conduct, - that we are to guide our
steps according to God's will, so that neither fear nor the allurements
of the world, nor any other things, may draw us away from it.
    Hence be adds, "Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way",
or, lest halting should go astray; that is, lest by halting ye should at
length depart far from the way. He calls it halting, when men's minds
fluctuate, and they devote not themselves sincerely to God. So spoke
Elijah to the double-minded who blended their own superstitions with
God's worship, "How long halt ye between two opinions?" (1 Kings 18: 21.)
And it is a befitting way of speaking, for it is a worse thing to go
astray than to halt. Nor they who begin to halt do not immediately turn
from the right way, but by degrees depart from it more and more, until
having been led into a diverse path to they remain entangled in the midst
of Satan's labyrinth. Hence the apostle warns us to strive for the
removal of this halting in due time; for if we give way to it, it will at
length turn us far away from God.
    The words may indeed be rendered, "Lest halting should grow worse,"
or turn aside; but the meaning would remain the same; for what the
Apostle intimates is, that those who keep not a straight course, but
gradually though carelessly turn here and there, become eventually wholly
alienated from God.
=====> 12:14. "Follow peace", &c. Men are so born that they all seem to
shun peace; for all study their own interest, seek their own ways, and
care not to accommodate themselves to the ways of others. Unless then we
strenuously labour to follow peace, we shall never retain it; for many
things will happen daily affording occasion for discords. This is the
reason why the Apostle bids us to follow peace, as though he had said,
that it ought not only to be cultivated as far as it may be convenient to
us, but that we ought to strive with all care to keep it among us. And
this cannot be done unless we forget many offences and exercise mutual
forbearance.
    As however peace cannot be maintained with the ungodly except on the
condition of approving of their vices and wickedness, the Apostle
immediately adds, that "holiness" is to be followed together with peace;
as though he commended peace to us with this exception, that the
friendship of the wicked is not to be allowed to defile or pollute us;
for holiness has an especial regard to God. Though then the whole world
were roused to a blazing war, yet holiness is not to be forsaken, for it
is the bond of our union with God. In short, let us quietly cherish
concord with men, but only, according to the proverb, as far as
conscience allows.
    He declares, that without holiness "no man shall see the Lord"; for
with no other eyes shall we see God than those which have been renewed
after his image.
=====> 12:15. "Looking diligently", or, taking care, or, attentively
providing, &c. By these words he intimates that it is easy to fall away
from the grace of God; for it is not without reason that attention is
required, because as soon as Satan sees us secure or remiss, he instantly
circumvents us. We have, in short, need of striving and vigilance, if we
would persevere in the grace of God.
    Moreover, under the word "grace", he includes our whole vocation. If
any one hence infers that the grace of God is not efficacious, except
live of our own selves cooperate with it, the argument is frivolous. We
know how great is the slothfulness of our flesh; it therefore wants
continual incentives; but when the Lord stimulates us by warning and
exhortation, he at the same time moves and stirs up our hearts, that his
exhortations may not be in vain, or pass away without effect. Then from
precepts and exhortations we are not to infer what man can do of himself,
or what is the power of freewill; for doubtless the attention or
diligence which the Apostle requires here is the gift of God.
    "Lest any root", &c. I doubt not but that he refers to a passage
written by Moses in Deut. 29: 18; for after having promulgated the Law,
Moses exhorted the people to beware, lest any root germinating should
bear gall and wormwood among them. He afterwards explained what he meant,
that is, lest any one, felicitating himself in sin, and like the drunken
who are wont to excite thirst, stimulating sinful desires, should bring
on a contempt of God through the alluring of hope of impunity. The same
is what the Apostle speaks of now; for he foretells what will take place,
that is, if we suffer such a root to grow, it will corrupt and defile
many; he not only bids every one to irradiate such a pest from their
hearts, but he also forbids them to allow it to grow among them. It
cannot be indeed but that these roots will ever be found in the Church,
for hypocrites and the ungodly are always mixed with the good; but when
they spring up they ought to be cut down, lest by growing they should
choke the good seed.
    He mentions "bitterness" for what Moses calls gall and wormwood; but
both meant to express a root that is poisonous and deadly. Since then it
is so fatal an evil, with snore earnest effort it behoves us to check it,
lest it should rise and creep farther.
=====> 12:16. "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person", &c. As he
had before exhorted them to holiness, so now, that he might reclaim them
from defilements opposed to it, he mentions a particular kind of
defilement, and says, "Lest there be any fornicator." But he immediately
comes to what is general, and adds, "or a profane person;" for it is the
term that is strictly contrary to holiness. The Lord calls us for this
end, that he may make us holy unto obedience: this is done when we
renounce the world; but any one who so delights in his own filth that he
continually rolls in it, profanes himself. We may at the same time regard
the profane as meaning generally all those who do not value God's grace
so much as to seek it and despise the world. But as men become profane in
various ways, the more earnest we ought to strive lest an opening be left
for Satan to defile us with his corruptions. And as there is no true
religion without holiness, we ought to make progress continually in the
fear of God, in the mortifying of the flesh, and in the whole practice of
piety; for as we are profane until we separate from the world so if we
roll again in its filth we renounce holiness.
    "As Esau", &c. This example may be viewed as an exposition of the
word profane; for when Esau set more value on one meal than on his
birthright, he lost his blessing. Profane then are all they in whom the
love of the world so reigns and prevails that they forget heaven: as is
the case with those who are led away by ambition, or become fond of money
or of wealth, or give themselves up to gluttony, or become entangled in
any other pleasures; they allow in their thoughts and cares no place, or
it may be the last place, to the spiritual kingdom of Christ.
    Most appropriate then is this example; for when the Lord designs to
set forth the power of that love which he has for his people, he calls
all those whom he has called to the hope of eternal life his firstborn.
Invaluable indeed is this honour with which he favours us; and all the
wealth, all the conveniences, the honours and the pleasures of the world,
and everything commonly deemed necessary for happiness, when compared
with this honour, are of no more value than a morsel of meat. That we
indeed set a high value on things which are nearly worth nothing, arises
from this, - that depraved lust dazzles our eyes and thus blinds us. If
therefore we would hold a place in God's sanctuary, we must learn to
despise morsels of meat of this kind, by which Satan is wont to catch the
reprobate.
=====> 12:17. "When he would have inherited the blessing", &c. He at
first regarded as a sport the act by which he had sold his birthright, as
though it was a child's play; but at length, when too late, he found what
a loss he had incurred, when the blessing transferred by his father to
Jacob was refused to him. Thus they who are led away by the allurements
of this world alienate themselves from God, and sell their own salvation
that they may feed on the morsels of this world, without thinking that
they lose anything, nay, they flatter and applaud themselves, as though
they were extremely happy. When too late their eyes are opened, so that
being warned by the sight of their own wickedness, they become sensible
of the loss of which they made no account.
    While Esau was hungry, he cared for nothing but how he might have his
stomach well filled; when full he laughed at his brother, and judged him
a fool for having voluntarily deprived himself of a meal. Nay, such is
also the stupidity of the ungodly, as long as they burn with depraved
lusts or intemperately plunge themselves into sinful pleasures; after a
time they understand how fatal to them are all the things which they so
eagerly desired. The word "rejected" means that he was repulsed, or
denied his request.
    "For he found no place of repentance", &c.; that is, he profited
nothing, he gained nothing by his late repentance, though he sought with
tears the blessing which by his own fault he had lost.
    Now as he denounces the same danger on all the despisers of God's
grace, it may be asked, whether no hope of pardon remains, when God's
grace has been treated with contempt and his kingdom less esteemed than
the world? To this I answer, that pardon is not expressly denied to such,
but that they are warned to take heed, lest the same thing should happen
to them also. And doubtless we may see daily many examples of God's
severity, which prove that he takes vengeance on the mockings and scoffs
of profane men: for when they promise themselves tomorrow, he often
suddenly takes them away by death in a manner new and unexpected; when
they deem fabulous what they hear of God's judgment, he so pursues them
that they are forced to acknowledge him as their judge; when they have
consciences wholly dead, they afterwards feel dreadful agonies as a
punishment for their stupidity. But though this happens not to all, yet
as there is this danger, the Apostle justly warns all to beware.
    Another question also arises, Whether the sinner, endued with
repentance, gains nothing by it? For the Apostle seems to imply this when
he tells us that Esau's repentance availed him nothing. My reply is, that
repentance here is not to be taken for sincere conversion to God; but it
was only that terror with which the Lord smites the ungodly, after they
have long indulged themselves in their iniquity. Nor is it a wonder that
this terror should be said to be useless and unavailing, for they do not
in the meantime repent nor hate their own vices, but are only tormented
by a sense of their own punishment. The same thing is to be said of
"tears"; whenever a sinner sighs on account of his sins, the Lord is
ready to pardon him, nor is God's mercy ever sought in vain, for to him
who knocks it shall be opened, (Matt. 7: 8;) but as the tears of Esau
were those of a man past hope, they were not shed on account of having
offended God; so the ungodly, however they may deplore their lot,
complain and howl, do not yet knock at God's door for mercy, for this
cannot be done but by faith. And the more grievously conscience torments
them, the more they war against God and rage against him. They might
indeed desire that an access should be given them to God; but as they
expect nothing but his wrath, they shun his presence. Thus we often see
that those who often say, as in a jest, that repentance is sufficiently
in time when they are drawing towards their end, do then cry bitterly,
amidst dreadful agonies, that the season of obtaining repentance is past;
for that they are doomed to destruction because they did not seek God
until it was too late. Sometimes, indeed, their break out into such words
as these, "Oh! if - oh! if;" but presently despair cuts short their
prayers and chokes their voice, so that thee proceed no farther.

=====> 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched,
and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which [voice]
they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any
more:
12:20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much
as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with
a dart:
12:21 And so terrible was the sight, [that] Moses said, I exceedingly
fear and quake:)
12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living
God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are
written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of
just men made perfect,
12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of
sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.

=====> 12:18. "For ye are not come", &c. He fights now with a new
argument, for he proclaims the greatness of the grace made known by the
Gospel, that we may reverently receive it; and secondly, he commends to
us its benign characters that he might allure us to love and desire it.
He adds weight to these two things by a comparison between the Law and
the Gospel; for the higher the excellency of Christ's kingdom than the
dispensation of Moses, and the more glorious our calling than that of the
ancient people, the more disgraceful and the less excusable is our
ingratitude, unless we embrace in a becoming manner the great favour
offered to us, and humbly adore the majesty of Christ which is here made
evident; and then, as God does not present himself to us clothed in
terrors as he did formerly to the Jews, but lovingly and kindly invites
us to himself, so the sin of ingratitude will be thus doubled, except we
willingly and in earnest respond to his gracious invitational
    Then let us first remember that the Gospel is here compared with the
Law; and secondly, that there are two parts in this comparison, - that
God's glory displays itself more illustriously in the Gospel than in the
Law, - and that his invitation is now full of love, but that formerly
there was nothing but the greatest terrors.
    "Unto the mount that might be touched", &c. This sentence is
variously expounded; but it seems to me that an earthly mountain is set
in opposition to the spiritual; and the words which follow show the same
thing, "that burned with fire, blackness, darkness, tempest", &c.; for
these were signs which God manifested, that he might secure authority and
reverence to his Law. When considered in themselves they were magnificent
and truly celestial; but when we come to the kingdom of Christ, the
things which God exhibits to us are far above all the heavens. It hence
follows, that all the dignity of the Law appears now earthly: thus mount
Sinai might have been touched by hands; but mount Sion cannot be known
but by the spirit. All the things recorded in the nineteenth chapter of
Exodus were visible things; but those which we have in the kingdom of
Christ are hid from the senses of the flesh.
    Should any one object and say, that the meaning of all these things
was spiritual, and that there are at this day external exercises of
religion by which we are carried up to heaven: to this I answer, that the
Apostle speaks comparatively; and no one can doubt but that the Gospel,
contrasted with the Law, excels in what is spiritual, but the Law in
earthly symbols.

=====> 12:19. "They that heard entreated", &c. This is the second clause,
in which he shows that the Law was very different from the Gospel; for
when it was promulgated there was nothing but terrors on every side. For
everything we read of in the nineteenth chapter of Exodus was of this
kind, and intended to show to the people that God had ascended his
tribunal and manifested himself as a strict judge. If by chance an
innocent beast approached, he commanded it to be killed: how much heavier
punishment awaited sinners who were conscious of their guilt, nay, who
knew themselves to be condemned to eternal death by the Law? But the
Gospel contains nothing but love, provided it be received by faith. What
remains to be said you may read in the third chapter of the Second
Epistle to the Corinthians.
    But by the words the people "entreated", &c., is not to be understood
that they refused to hear God, but that they prayed not to be constrained
to hear God himself speaking; for by the interposition of Moses their
dread was somewhat mitigated. Yet interpreters are at a loss to know how
it is that the Apostle ascribes these words to Moses, "I exceedingly fear
and quake"; for we read nowhere that they were expressed by Moses. But
the difficulty may be easily removed, if we consider that Moses spoke
thus in the name of the people, whose requests as their delegate he
brought to God. It was, then, the common complaint of the whole people;
but Moses is included, who was, as it were, the speaker for them all.
=====> 12:22. "Unto mount Sion", &c. He alludes to those prophecies in
which God had formerly promised that his Gospel should thence go forth,
as in Isaiah 2: l-4, and in other places. Then he contrasts mount Sion
with mount Sinai; and he further adds, "the heavenly Jerusalem", and he
expressly calls it heavenly, that the Jews might not cleave to that which
was earthly, and which had flourished under the Law; for when they sought
perversely to continue under the slavish yoke of the Law, mount Sion was
turned into mount Sinai as Paul teaches us in the fourth chapter of the
Epistle to the Galatians. Then by the heavenly Jerusalem he understood
that which was to be built throughout the whole world, even as the angel,
mentioned by Zechariah, extended his line from the east even to the west.
    "To an innumerable company of angels", &c. He means that we are
associated with angels, chosen into the ranks of patriarchs, and placed
in heaven among all the spirits of the blessed, when Christ by the Gospel
calls us to himself. But it is an incalculable honour, conferred upon us
by our heavenly Father, that he should enrol us among angels and the holy
fathers. The expression, "myriads of angels", in taken from the book of
Daniel, though I have followed Erasmus, and rendered it "innumerable
company of angels".
=====> 12:23. "The firstborn", &c. He does not call the children of God
indiscriminately the firstborn, for the Scripture calls many his children
who are not of this number; but for the sake of honour he adorns with
this distinction the patriarchs and other renowned saints of the ancient
Church. He adds, which are written in heaven, because God is said to have
all the elect enrolled in his book or secret catalogue, as Ezekiel
speaks.
    "The judge of all", &c. This seems to have been said to inspire fear,
as though he had said, that grace is in such a way altered to us, that we
ought still to consider that we have to do with a judge, to whom an
account must be given if we presumptuously intrude into his sanctuary
polluted and profane.
    "The spirits of just men", &c. He adds this to intimate that we are
joined to holy souls, which have put off their bodies, and left behind
them all the filth of this world; and hence he says that they are
consecrated or "made perfect", for they are no more subject to the
infirmities of the flesh, having laid aside the flesh itself. And hence
we may with certainty conclude, that pious souls, separated from their
bodies, still live with God, for we could not possibly be otherwise
joined to them as companions.
=====> 12:24. "And to Jesus the Mediator", &c. He adds this in the last
place, because it is he alone through whom the Father is reconciled to
us, and who renders his face serene and lovely to us, so that we may come
to him without fear. At the same time he shows how Christ becomes our
Mediator, even through his own "blood", which after the Hebrew mode of
speaking he calls the blood of "sprinkling", which means sprinkled blood;
for as it was once for all shed to make an atonement for us, so our souls
must be now cleansed by it through faith. At the same time the Apostle
alludes to the ancient rite of the Law, which has been before mentioned.
    "That speaketh better things", &c. There is no reason why "better"
may not be rendered adverbially in the following manner, - "Christ's
blood cries more efficaciously, and is better heard by God than the blood
of Abel." It is, however, preferable to take the words literally: the
blood of Christ is said to speak better things, because it avails to
obtain pardon for our sins. The blood of Abel did not properly cry out;
for it was his murder that called for vengeance before God. But the blood
of Christ cries out, and the atonement made by it is heard daily.

=====> 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they
escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we
[escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:
12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying,
Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
12:27 And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those
things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things
which cannot be shaken may remain.
12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have
grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
12:29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.

=====> 12:25. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh", &c. He uses the
same verb as before, when he said that the people entreated that God
should not speak to them; but he means as I think, another thing, even
that we ought not to reject the word destined for us. He further shows
what he had in view in the last comparison, even that the severest
punishment awaits the despisers of the Gospel, since the ancients under
the Law did not despise it with impunity. And he pursues the argument
from the less to the greater, when he says, that God or Moses spoke then
on earth, but that the same God or Christ speaks now from heaven. 
At the same time I prefer regarding God in both instances as the speaker.
And he is said to have spoken on earth, because he spoke in a lower
strain. Let us ever bear in mind that he refers to the external
ministration of the Law, which, as compared with the gospel, partook of
what was earthly, and did not lead men's minds above the heavens unto
perfect wisdom; for though the Law contained in it the same truth, yet as
it was only a training school, perfection could not belong to it.
=====> 12:26. "Whose voice then shook the earth", &c. Though God shook
the earth when he published his Law, yet he shows that he now speaks more
gloriously, for he shakes both earth and heaven. He quotes on the subject
the testimony of the Prophet Haggai, though he gives not the words
literally; but as the Prophet foretells a future shaking of the earth and
the heaven, the Apostle borrows the idea in order to teach us that the
voice of the Gospel not only thunders through the earth, but also
penetrates above the heavens. But that the Prophet speaks of Christ's
kingdom, is beyond any dispute, for it immediately follows in the same
passage, "I will shake all nations; and come shall the desire of all
nations, and I will fill this house with glory." It is however certain
that neither all nations have been gathered into one body, except under
the banner of Christ, nor has there been any desire in which we ought to
acquiesce but Christ alone, nor was the temple of Solomon exceeded in
glory until the magnificence of Christ became known through the whole
world. The Prophet then no doubt refers to the time of Christ. But if at
the commencement of Christ's kingdom, not only the lower parts of the
world were shaken, but his power also reached the heaven, the Apostle
justly concludes that the doctrine of the Gospel is sublimer than that of
the Law, and ought to be more distinctly heard by all creatures.
=====> 12:27. "And this word, yet once more", &c. The words of the
Prophet are these, "Yet a little while;" and he means that the calamity
of the people would not be perpetual, but that the Lord would succour
them. But the Apostle lays no stress on this expression; he only infers
from the shaking of the heaven and the earth that the state of the world
was to be changed at the coming of Christ; for things created are subject
to decay, but Christ's kingdom is eternal; then all creatures must needs
be brought into a better state.
    He makes hence a transition to another exhortation, that we are to
lay hold on that kingdom which cannot be shaken; for the Lord shakes us
for this end, that he may really and forever establish us in himself. At
the same time I prefer a different reading, which is given by the ancient
Latin version, "Receiving a kingdom, we have grace," &c. When read
affirmatively, the passage runs best, - "We, in embracing the Gospel,
have the gift of the Spirit of Christ, that we may reverently and
devoutly worship God." If it be read as an exhortation, "Let us have," it
is a strained and obscure mode of speaking. The Apostle means in short,
as I think, that provided we enter by faith into Christ's kingdom, we
shall enjoy constant grace, which will effectually retain us in the
service of God; for as the kingdom of Christ is above the world, so is
the gift of regeneration.
    By saying that God is to be served "acceptably", |euarestoos|, "with
reverence and fear", he intimates that though he requires us to serve
with promptitude and delight, there is yet no service approved by him
except it be united with humility and due reverence. Thus he condemns
froward confidence of the flesh, as well as the sloth which also proceeds
from it.
=====> 12:29. "For our God", &c. As he had before kindly set before us
the grace of God, so he now makes known his severity; and he seems to
have borrowed this sentence from the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. Thus
we see that God omits nothing by which he may draw us to himself; he
begins indeed with love and kindness, so that we may follow him the more
willingly; but when by alluring he effects but little, he terrifies us.
    And doubtless it is expedient that the grace of God should never be
promised to us without being accompanied with threatening; for we see so
extremely prone to indulge ourselves, that without the application of
these stimulants the milder doctrine would prove ineffectual. Then the
Lord, as he is propitious and merciful to such as fear him unto a
thousand generations; so he is a jealous God and a just avenger, when
despised, unto the third and the fourth generation.


Chapter 13

=====> 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have
entertained angels unawares.
13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them
which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
13:4 Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but
whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content
with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee.
13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not
fear what man shall do unto me.

=====> 13:1. "Let brotherly love", &c. Probably he gave this command
respecting brotherly love, because a secret hatred arising from the
haughtiness of the Jews was threatening to rend the Churches. But still
this precept is general very needful, for nothing flows away so easily as
love; when everyone thinks of himself more than he ought, he will allow
to others less than he ought; and then many offences happen daily which
cause separations.
    He calls love "brotherly", not only to teach us that we ought to be
mutually united together by a peculiar and an inward feeling of love, but
also that we nay remember that we cannot be Christians without being
brethren; for he speaks of the love which the household of faith ought to
cultivate one towards another inasmuch as the Lord has bound them closer
together by the common bond of adoption. It was therefore a good custom
in the primitive Church for Christians to call one another brothers; but
now the name as well as the thing itself is become almost obsolete,
except that the monks have appropriated to themselves the use of it when
neglected by others, while at the same time they show by their discords
and intestine factions that they are the children of the evil one.
=====> 13:2. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers", &c. This office
of humanity has also nearly ceased to be properly observed among men; for
the ancient hospitality, celebrated in histories, is unknown to us, and
Inns now supply the place of accommodations for strangers. But he speaks
not so much of the practice of hospitality as observed then by the rich;
but he rather commends the miserable and the needy to be entertained, as
at that time many were fugitives who left their homes for the name of
Christ.
    And that he might commend this duty the more, he adds, that angels
had sometimes been entertained by those who thought that they received
only men. I doubt not but that this is to be understood of Abraham and
Lot; for having been in the habit of showing hospitality, they without
knowing and thinking of any such thing, entertained angels; thus their
houses were in no common way honoured. And doubtless God proved that
hospitality was especially acceptable to him, when he rendered such a
reward to Abraham and to Lot. Were any one to object and say, that this
rarely happened; to this the obvious answer is, - That not mere angels
are received, but Christ himself, when we receive the poor in his name.
In the words in Greek there is a beautiful alliteration which cannot be
set forth in Latin.
=====> 13:3. "Remember them that are in bonds", or, Be mindful of the
bound, &c. There is nothing that can give us a more genuine feeling of
compassion than to put ourselves in the place of those who are in
distress; hence he says, that we ought to think of those in bonds as
though we were bound with them. What follows the first clause, "As being
yourselves also in the body", is variously explained. Some take a general
view thus, "Ye are also exposed to the same evils, according to the
common lot of humanity;" but others give a more restricted sense, "As
though ye were in their body." Of neither can I approve, for I apply the
words to the body of the Church, so that the meaning would be this,
"Since ye are members of the same body, it behoves you to feel in common
for each other's evils, that there may be nothing disunited among you."
=====> 13:4. "Marriage is honourable in all", &c. Some think this an
exhortation to the married to conduct themselves modestly and in a
becoming manner, that the husband should live with his wife temperately
and chastely, and not defile the conjugal bed by unbeseeming wantonness.
Thus a verb is to be understood in the sense of exhorting, "Let marriage
be honorable." And yet the indicative "is" would not be unsuitable; for
when we hear that marriage is honorable, it ought to come immediately to
our minds that we are to conduct ourselves in it honorably and
becomingly. Others take the sentence by way of concession in this way,
"Though marriage is honorable, it is yet unlawful to commit fornication";
but this sense, as all must see, is rigid. I am inclined to think that
the Apostle sets marriage here in opposition to fornication as a remedy
for that evil; and the context plainly shows that this was his meaning;
for before he threatens that the Lord would punish fornicators, he first
states what is the true way of escape, even if we live honourable in a
state of marriage.
    Let this then be the main point, that fornication will not be
unpunished, for God will take vengeance on it. And doubtless as God has
blessed the union of man and wife, instituted by himself, it follows that
every other union different from this is by him condemned and accursed.
He therefore denounces punishment not only on adulterers, but also on
fornicators; for both depart from the holy institution of God; nay, they
violate and subvert it by a promiscuous intercourse, since there is but
one legitimate union, sanctioned by the authority and approval of God.
But as promiscuous and vagrant lusts cannot be restrained without the
remedy of marriage, he therefore commends it by calling it "honourable".
    What he adds, "and the bed undefiled", has been stated, as it seems
to me, for this end, that the married might know that everything is not
lawful for them, but that the use of the legitimate bed should be
moderate, lest anything contrary to modesty and chastity be allowed.
    By saying "in all men", I understand him to mean, that there is no
order of men prohibited from marriage; for what God has allowed to
mankind universally, is becoming in all without exception; I mean all who
are fit for marriage and feel the need of it.
    It was indeed necessary for this subject to have been distinctly and
expressly stated, in order to obviate a superstition, the seeds of which
Satan was probably even then secretly sowing, even this, - that marriage
is a profane thing, or at least far removed from Christian perfection;
for those seducing spirits, forbidding marriage, who had been foretold by
Paul, soon appeared. That none then might foolishly imagine that marriage
is only permitted to the people in general, but that those who are
eminent in the Church ought to abstain from it, the Apostle takes away
every exception; and he does not teach us that it is conceded as an
indulgence, as Jerome sophistically says, but that it is honourable. It
is very strange indeed that those who introduced the prohibition of
marriage into the world, were not terrified by this so express a
declaration; but it was necessary then to give loose reins to Satan, in
order to punish the ingratitude of those who refused to hear God.
=====> 13:5. "Let your conversation be without covetousness", &c. While
he seeks to correct covetousness, he rightly and wisely bids us at the
same time to be content with our present things; for it is the true
contempt of money, or at least a true greatness of mind in the right and
moderate use of it, when we are content with what the Lord has given us,
whether it be much or little; for certainly it rarely happens that
anything satisfies an avaricious man; but on the contrary they or who are
not content with a moderate portion, always seek more even when they
enjoy the greatest affluence. It was a doctrine which Paul had declared,
that he had learned, so as to know how to abound and how to suffer need.
Then he who has set limits to his desire so as to acquiesce resignedly in
his lot, has expelled from his heart the love of money.
    "For he has said", &c. Here he quotes two testimonies; the first is
taken, as some think, from the first chapter of Joshua, but I am rather
of the opinion that it is a sentence drawn from the common doctrine of
Scripture, as though he had said, "The Lord everywhere promises that he
will never be wanting to us." He infers from this promise what is found
in Psalm 118, that we have the power to overcome fear when we feel
assured of God's help.
    Here indeed he plucks up the evil by the very roots, as it is
necessary when we seek to free from it the minds of men. It is certain
that the source of covetousness is mistrust; for whosoever has this fixed
in his heart, that he will never be forsaken by the Lord, will not be
immoderately solicitous about present things, because he will depend on
God's providence. When therefore the Apostle is seeking to cure us of the
disease of covetousness, he wisely calls our attention to God's promises,
in which he testifies that he will ever be present with us. He hence
infers afterwards that as long as we have such a helper there is no cause
to fear. For in this way it can be that no depraved desires will
importune us; for faith alone is that which can quiet the minds of men,
whose disquietude without it is too well known.

=====> 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken
unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of
[their] conversation.
13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For [it is]
a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats,
which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

=====> 13:7. "Remember", &c. What follows refers not so much to morals as
to doctrine. He first sets before the Jews the example of those by whom
they had been taught; and he seems especially to speak of those who had
sealed the doctrine delivered by them by their own blood; for he points
out something memorable when he says, "considering the end of their
conversation"; though still there is no reason why we should not
understand this generally of those who had persevered in the true faith
to the end, and had rendered a faithful testimony to sound doctrine
through their whole life as well as in death. But it was a matter of no
small importance, that he set before them their teachers for imitation;
for they who have begotten us in Christ ought to be to us in the place as
it were of fathers. Since then they had seen then continuing firm and
unmoved in the midst of much persecutions and of various other convicts,
they ought in all reason to have been deeply moved and affected.
=====> 13:8. "Jesus Christ the same", &c. The only way by which we can
persevere in the right faith is to hold to the foundation, and not in the
smallest degree to depart from it; for he who holds not to Christ knows
nothing but mere vanity, though he may comprehend heaven and earth; for
in Christ are included all the treasures of celestial wisdom. This then
is a remarkable passage, from which we learn that there is no other way
of being true, wise than by fixing all our thoughts on Christ alone.
    Now as he is dealing with the Jews, he teaches them that Christ had
ever possessed the same sovereignty which he holds at this day; "The
same", he says, "yesterday, and today, and forever". By which words he
intimates that Christ, who was then made known in the world, had reigned
from the beginning of the world, and that it is not possible to advance
farther when we come to him. "Yesterday" then comprehends the whole time
of the Old Testament; and that no one might expect a sudden change after
a short time, as the promulgation of the Gospel was then but recent, he
declares that Christ had been lately revealed for this very end, that the
knowledge of him might continue the same for ever.
    It hence appears that the Apostle is not speaking of the eternal
existence of Christ, but of that knowledge of him which was possessed by
the godly in all ages, and was the perpetual foundation of the Church. It
is indeed certain that Christ existed before he manifested his power; but
the question is, what is the subject of the Apostle. Then I say he refers
to quality, so to speak, and not to essence; for it is not the question,
whether he was from eternity with the Father, but what was the knowledge
which men had of him. But the manifestation of Christ as to its external
form and appearance, was indeed different under the Law from what it is
now; yet there is no reason why the Apostle could not say truly and
properly that Christ, as regarded by the faithful, is always the same.
=====> 13:9. "Diverse doctrines", &c. He concludes that we ought not to
fluctuate, since the truth of Christ, in which we ought to stand firm,
remains fixed and unchangeable. And doubtless, variety of opinions, every
kind of superstition, all monstrous errors, in a word, all corruptions in
religion, arise from this, that men abide not in Christ alone; for it is
not in vain that Paul teaches us, that Christ is given to us by God to be
our wisdom.
    The import then of this passage is that in order that the truth of
God may remain firm in us, we must acquiesce in Christ alone. We hence
conclude that all who are ignorant of Christ are exposed to all the
delusions of Satan; for apart from him there is no stability of faith,
but innumerable tossings here and there. Wonderful then is the acuteness
of the Papists, who have contrived quite a contrary remedy for driving
away errors every errors, even by extinguishing or burying the knowledge
of Christ! But let this warning of the Holy Spirit be fixed in our
hearts, that we shall never be beyond the reach of danger except we
cleave to Christ.
    Now the doctrines which lead us away from Christ, he says, are
"divers" or various, because there is no other simple and unmixed truth
but the knowledge of Christ; and he calls them also "strange" or foreign,
because whatever is apart from Christ is not regarded by God as his own;
and we are hereby also reminded how we are to proceed, if we would make a
due proficiency in the Scripture, for he who takes not a straight course
to Christ, goes after strange doctrines. The Apostle farther intimates
that the Church of God will always have to contend with strange doctrines
and that there is no other means of guarding against them but by being
fortified with the pure knowledge of Christ.
    "For it is a good thing", &c. He now comes from a general principle
to a particular case. The Jews, for instance, as it is well known, were
superstitious as to distinctions in meats; and hence arose many disputes
and discords; and this was one of the strange doctrines which proceeded
from their ignorance of Christ. Having then previously grounded our faith
on Christ, he now says that the observance of meats does not conduce to
our salvation and true holiness. As he sets grace in opposition to meats,
I doubt not but that by grace he means the spiritual worship of God and
regeneration. In saying "that the heart may be established", he alludes
to the word, "carried about", as though he had said, "It is the spiritual
grace of God, and not the observance of meats, that will really establish
us.
    "Which have not profited them that have been occupied therein". It is
uncertain to whom he here refers; for the fathers who lived under the Law
had no doubt a useful training, and a part of it was the distinction as
to meats. It seems then that this is to be understood rather of the
superstitious, who, after the Gospel had been revealed, still perversely
adhered to the old ceremonies. At the same time were we judiciously to
explain the words as applied to the fathers, there would be no
inconsistency; it was indeed profitable for them to undergo the yoke laid
on them by the Lord, and to continue obediently under the common
discipline of the godly and of the whole Church; but the Apostle means
that abstinence from meats was in itself of no ail. And no doubt it is to
be regarded as nothing, except as an elementary instruction at the time
when God's people were like children as to their external discipline. To
be "occupied in meets" is to be taken as having a regard to them, so as
to make a distinction between clean and unclean. But what he says of
meats may be extended to the other rites of the Law.

=====> 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which
serve the tabernacle.
13:11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the
sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his
own blood, suffered without the gate.
13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his
reproach.
13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God
continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.

=====> 13:10. "We have an altar", &c. This is a beautiful adaptation of
an old rite under the Law, to the present state of the Church. There was
a kind of sacrifice appointed, mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of
Leviticus, no part of which returned to the priests and Levites. This, as
he now shows by a suitable allusing, was accomplished in Christ; for he
was sacrificed on this condition, that they who serve the tabernacle
should not feed on him. But by the "ministers of the tabernacle" he means
all those who performed the ceremonies. Then that we may partake of
Christ, he intimates that we must renounce the tabernacle; for as the
word „ltar" includes sacrificing and the victim; so "tabernacle", all the
external types connected with it.
    Then the meaning is, "No wonder if the rites of the Law have now
ceased, for this is what was typified by the sacrifice which the Levites
brought without the camp to be there burnt; for as the ministers of the
tabernacle did eat nothing of it, so if we serve the tabernacle, that is,
retain its ceremonies, we shall not be partakers of that sacrifice which
Christ once offered, nor of the expiation which he once made by his own
blood; for his own blood he brought into the heavenly sanctuary that he
might atone for the sin of the world."
=====> 13:13. "Let us go forth, therefore", &c. That the preceding
allegory or mystical similitude might not be frigid and lifeless, he
connects with it an important duty required of all Christians. And this
mode of teaching is what Paul also usually adopts, that he might show to
the faithful what things God would have them to be engaged in, while he
was endeavouring to draw them away from vain ceremonies; as though he had
said, "This is what God demands from you, but not that work in which you
in vain weary yourselves." So now our Apostle speaks; for while he
invites us to leave the tabernacle and to follow Christ, he reminds us
that a far different thing is required of us from the work of serving God
in the shade under the magnificent splendour of the temple; for we must
go after him through exiles, flights, reproaches, and all kinds of
afflictions. This warfare, in which we must strive even unto blood, he
sets in opposition to those shadowy practices of which alone the teachers
of ceremonies boasted.
=====> 13:14. "For here we have no continuing city", &c. He extends still
further the going forth which he had mentioned, even that as strangers
and wanderers in this world we should consider that we have no fixed
residence but in heaven. Whenever, therefore, we are driven from place to
place, or whenever any change happens to us, let us think of what the
Apostle teaches us here, that we have no certain shade on earth, for
heaven is our inheritance; and when more and more tried, let us ever
prepare ourselves for our last end; for they who enjoy a very quiet life
commonly imagine that they have a rest in this world: it is hence
profitable for us, who are prone to this kind of sloth, to be often
tossed here and there, that we who are too much inclined to look on
things below, may learn to turn our eyes up to heaven.
=====> 13:15. "By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to
God", &c. He returns to that particular doctrine to which he had
referred, respecting the abrogation of the ancient ceremonies; and he
anticipates an objection that might have been made; for as the sacrifices
were attached as appendages to the tabernacle, when this was abolished,
it follows that the sacrifices also must have ceased. But the Apostle had
taught us that as Christ had suffered without the gate, we are also
called thither, and that hence the tabernacle must be forsaken by those
who would follow him.
    Here a question arises, whether any sacrifices remained for
Christians; for this would have been inconsistent, as they had been
instituted for the purpose of celebrating God' worship. The Apostle,
therefore, in due time meets this objection, and says that another kind
of sacrifice remains for us, which no less pleases God, even the offering
of the calves of our lips, as the Prophet Hoses says. (Hos. 14: 2.) Now
that the sacrifice of praise is not only equally pleasing to God, but of
more account than all those external sacrifices under the Law, appears
evident from the fiftieth Psalm; for God there repudiates all these as
things of nought, and bids the sacrifice of praise to be offered to him.
We hence see that it is the highest worship of God, justly preferred to
all other exercises, when we acknowledge God's goodness by thanksgiving;
yea, this is the ceremony of sacrificing which God commends to us now.
There is yet no doubt but that under this one part is included the whole
of prayer; for we cannot give him thanks except when we are heard by him;
and no one obtains anything except he who prays. He in a word means that
without brute animals we have what is required to be offered to God, and
that he is thus rightly and really worshipped by us.
    But as it was the Apostle's design to teach us what is the legitimate
way of worshipping God under the New Testament, so by the way he reminds
us that God cannot be really invoked by us and his name glorified, except
through Christ the mediator; for it is he alone who sanctifies our lips,
which otherwise are unclean, to sing the praises of God; and it is he who
opens a way for our prayers, who in short performis the office of a
priest, presenting himself before God in our name.

=====> 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased.
13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for
they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may
do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.
13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things
willing to live honestly.
13:19 But I beseech [you] the rather to do this, that I may be restored
to you the sooner.

=====> 13:16. "But to do good", &c. Here he points out even another way
of offering a due and regular sacrifice, for all the acts and duties of
love are so many sacrifices; and he thereby intimates that they were
foolish and absurd in their wishes who thought that something was wanting
except they offered beasts to God according to the Law, since God gave
them many and abundant opportunities for sacrificing. For though he can
derive no benefit from us, yet he regards prayer a sacrifice, and so much
as the chief sacrifice, that it alone can supply the place of all the
rest; and then, whatever benefits we confer on men he considers as done
to himself, and honours them with the name of sacrifices. So it appears
that the elements of the Law are now not only superfluous, but do harm,
as they draw us away from the right way of sacrificing.
    The meaning is, that if we wish to sacrifice to God, we must call on
him and acknowledge his goodness by thanksgiving, and further, that we
must do good to our brethren; these are the true sacrifices which
Christians ought to offer; and as to other sacrifices, there is neither
time nor place for them.
    "For with such sacrifices God is well pleased". There is to be
understood here an implied contrast, - that he no longer requires those
ancient sacrifices which he had enjoined until the abrogation of the Law.
    But with this doctrine is connected an exhortation which ought
powerfully to stimulate us to exercise kindness towards our neighbours;
for it is not a common honour that God should regard the benefits we
confer on men as sacrifices offered to himself, and that he so adorns our
works, which are nothing worth, as to pronounce them holy and sacred
things, acceptable to him. When, therefore, love does not prevail among
us, we not only rob men of their right, but God himself, who has by a
solemn sentence dedicated to himself what he has commanded to be done to
men.
    The word "communicate" has a wider meaning than "to do good", for it
embraces all the duties by which men can mutually assist one another; and
it is a true mark or proof of love, when they who are united together by
the Spirit of God communicate to one another.
=====> 13:17. "Obey them", &c. I doubt not but that he speaks of pastors
and other rulers of the Church, for there were then no Christian
magistrates; and what follows, "for they watch for your souls", properly
belongs to spiritual government. He commands first obedience and then
honour to be rendered to them. These two things are necessarily required,
so that the people might have confidence in their pastors, and also
reverence for them. But it ought at the same time to be noticed that the
Apostle speaks only of those who faithfully performed their office; for
they who have nothing but the title, nay, who use the title of pastors
for the purpose of destroying the Church, deserve but little reverence
and still less confidence. And this also is what the Apostle plainly sets
forth when he says, that they "watched" for their souls, - a duty which
is not performed but by those who are faithful rulers, and are really
what they are called.
    Doubly foolish, then, are the Papists, who from these words confirm
the tyranny of their own idol: "The Spirit bids us obediently to receive
the doctrine of godly and faithful bishops, and to obey their wholesome
counsels; he bids us also to honour them." But how does this favour mere
apes of bishops? And yet not only such are all those who are bishops
under the Papacy, but they are cruel murderers of souls and rapacious
wolves. But to pass by a description of them, this only will I say at
present, that when we are bidden to obey our pastors, we ought carefully
and wisely to find out those who are true and faithful rulers; for if we
render this honour to all indiscriminately, first, a wrong will be done
to the good; and secondly, the reason here added, to honour them because
they watch for souls, will be rendered nugatory. In order, therefore,
that the Pope and those who belong to him may derive support from this
passage, they must all of necessity first prove that they are of the
number of those who watch for our salvation. If this be made evident,
there will then be no question but that they ought to be reverently
treated by all the godly.
    "For they watch", &c. His meaning is, that the heavier the burden
they bear, the more honour they deserve; for the more labour anyone
undertakes for our sake, and the more difficulty and danger he incurs for
us, the greater are our obligations to him. And such is the office of
bishops, that it involves the greatest labour and the greatest danger;
if, then, we wish to be grateful, we can hardly render to them that which
is due; and especially, as they are to give an account of us to God, it
would be disgraceful for us to make no account of them.
    He further reminds us in what great a concern their labour may avail
us, for, if the salvation of our souls be precious to us, they ought by
no means to be deemed of no account who watch for it. He also bids us to
be teachable and ready to obey, that what pastors do in consequence of
what their office demands, they may also willingly and "joyfully" do;
for, if they have their minds restrained by grief or weariness, though
they may be sincere and faithful, they will yet become disheartened and
careless, for vigour in acting will fail at the same time with their
cheerfulness. Hence the Apostle declares, that it would be "unprofitable"
to the people to cause sorrow and mourning to their pastors by their
ingratitude; and he did this, that he might intimate to us that we cannot
be troublesome or disobedient to our pastors without hazarding our own
salvation.
    As hardly one in ten considers this, it is hence evident how great
generally is the neglect of salvation; nor is it a wonder how few at this
day are found who strenuously watch over the Church of God. For besides,
there are very few who are like Paul, who have their mouth open when the
people's ears are closed, and who enlarge their own heart when the heart
of the people is straitened. The Lord also punishes the ingratitude which
everywhere prevails. Let us then remember that we are suffering the
punishment of our own perverseness, whenever the pastors grow cold in
their duty, or are less diligent than they ought to be.
=====> 13:18. "For we trust", &c. After having commended himself to their
prayers, in order to excite them to pray, he declares that he had a "good
conscience". Though indeed our prayers ought to embrace the whole world,
as love does, from which they flow; it is yet right and meet that we
should be peculiarly solicitous for godly and holy men, whose probity and
other marks of excellency have become known to us. For this end, then, he
mentions the integrity of his own conscience, that is, that he might move
them more effectually to feel an interest for himself. By saying, I am
persuaded, or I "trust", he thus partly shows his modesty and partly his
confidence. "In all", may be applied to things as well as to men; and so
I leave it undecided.
=====> 13:19. "But I beseech you", &c. He now adds another argument, -
that the prayers they would make for him, would be profitable to them all
as well as to himself individually, as though he had said, "I do not so
much consult my own benefit as the benefit of you all; for to be restored
to you would be the common good of all."
    A probable conjecture may hence perhaps be gathered, that the author
of this Epistle was either beset with troubles or detained by the fear of
persecution, so as not to be able to appear among those to whom he was
writing. It might however be, that he thus spoke, though he was free and
at liberty, for he regarded man's steps as being in God's hand; and this
appears probable from the end of the Epistle.

=====> 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our
Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the
everlasting covenant,
13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you
that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom
[be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
13:22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I
have written a letter unto you in few words.
13:23 Know ye that [our] brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if
he come shortly, I will see you.
13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.
They of Italy salute you.
13:25 Grace [be] with you all. Amen. 
        [Written to the Hebrews from Italy, by Timothy.]

=====> 13:20. "Now the God of peace", &c. To render mutual what he
desired them to do, he ends his Epistle with prayer; and he asks of God
to "confirm", or to fit, or to perfect them in "every good work"; for
such is the meaning of |katartistai|. We hence conclude, that we are by
no means fit to do good until we are made or formed for the purpose by
God, and that we shall not continue long in doing good unless he
strengthens us; for perseverance is his peculiar gift. Nor is there a
doubt but that as no common gifts of the Spirit had already, as it seems,
appeared in them, the first impression with which they began, is not what
is prayed for, but the polishing, which they were to be made perfect.
    "That brought again from the dead", &c. This clause was added for the
sake of confirmation; for he intimates that God is then only prayed to
aright by us, to lead us on to perfection, when we acknowledge his power
in the resurrection of Christ, and acknowledge Christ himself as our
pastor. He, in short, would have us to look to Christ, in order that we
may rightly trust in God for help; for Christ was raised from death for
this end, that we might be renewed unto eternal life, by the same power
of God; and he is the great pastor of all, in order that we may protect
the sheep committed to him by the Father.
    "Through the blood", &c. I have rendered it, "In the blood;" for as
|beth|, "in," is often taken in the sense of with, so I prefer to regard
it here. For it seems to me, that the Apostle means, that Christ so arose
from the dead, that his death was not yet abolished, but that it retains
its efficacy forever, as though he had said, "God raised up his own son,
but in such a way that the blood he shed once for all in his death is
efficacious after his resurrection for the ratification of the
everlasting covenant, and brings forth fruit the same as though it were
flowing always."
=====> 13:21. "To do his will", &c. He now gives a definition of good
works by laying down God's will as the rule; for he thus intimates, that
no works are to be deemed good, but such as are agreeable to the will of
God, as Paul also teaches us in Rom. 12: 2, and in many other places. Let
us then remember, that it is the perfection of a good and holy life, when
we live in obedience to his will. The clause which next follows is
explanatory, "working" (or doing) "in you what is well pleasing in his
sight". He had spoken of that will which is made known in the Law; he now
shows, that in vain is obtruded on God what he has not commanded; for he
values the decrees of his own will far more than all the inventions of
the world.
    "Through Jesus Christ", &c. This may be explained in two ways, -
"Working through Jesus Christ", or, "Well-pleasing through Jesus Christ."
Both senses are suitable. For we know that the spirit of regeneration and
also all graces are bestowed on us through Christ; and then it is
certain, that as nothing can proceed from us absolutely perfect, nothing
can be acceptable to God without that pardon which we obtain through
Christ. Thus it comes, that our works, performed by the odour of Christ's
grace, emit a sweet fragrance in God's presence, while otherwise they
would have a foetid smell. I am disposed to include both meanings.
    "To whom be glory", &c. This I refer to Christ. And as he here
ascribes to Christ what peculiarly belongs to God alone, he thus bears a
clear testimony to his divinity; but still if anyone prefers to explain
this of the Father, I do not object; though I embrace the other sense, as
being the most obvious.
=====> 13:22. "And I beseech you", &c. Some understand this as though he
was soliciting them to hear him; but I take another view; for he
mentions, as I think, that he had written in a "few words", or briefly,
in order that he might not appear as though he wished to lessen in any
degree the ordinary practice of teaching. Let us hence learn that the
Scripture has not been committed to us in order to silence the voice of
pastors, and that we are not to be fastidious when the same exhortations
often sound in our ears; for the holy Spirit has so regulated the
writings which he has dictated to the Prophets and the Apostles, that he
detracts nothing from the order instituted by himself; and the order is,
that constant exhortations should be heard in the Church from the mouth
of pastors. And probably he recommends the "word of exhortation" for this
reason, that though men are by nature anxious to learn, they yet prefer
to hear something new rather than to be reminded of things known and
often heard before. Besides, as they indulge themselves in sloth, they
can ill bear to be stimulated and reproved.
=====> 13:23. "Know ye that our brother", &c. Since the termination of
the Greek verb |ginooskete|, will admit of either renderings, we may
read, "Ye know," or, "Know ye;" but I prefer the latter reading, though I
do not reject the other. The probability is, that he was informing the
Jews on the other side of the sea of what they did not know. Now, if this
"Timothy" was the renowned companion of Paul, which I am inclined to
think, it is very probable that either Luke or Clement was the author of
this Epistle. Paul, indeed, more usually calls him his son; and then what
immediately follows does not apply to Paul; for it appears that the
writer was at liberty and at his own disposal; and besides, that he was
then anywhere rather than at Rome; nay, it is very probable, that he was
going round through various cities, and was then preparing to pass over
the sea. Now all these particulars might have been suitable to the
circumstances either of Luke or of Clement after the death of Paul.
=====> 13:24. "Salute", &c. As he writes his Epistle generally to the
Hebrews, it is strange that he bids some, separate from the rest, to be
saluted; but he sends this salutation, as I think, more particularly to
the rulers, as a mark of honour, that he might conciliate them, and
gently lead them to assent to his doctrine. And he adds, -
    "And all the saints". He either means the faithful from among the
Gentiles, and refers to them that both Jews and Gentiles might learn to
cultivate unity among themselves; or his object was to intimate, that
they who first received the Epistle, were to communicate it to others.

           End of the Commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews