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(royos) is very variously used in the New Testament, and is here taken for a system of doctrines; and by the addition of the term (namybaus) spoken, as published, preached, or declared. Thus the gospel from the principal subject matter of it, is called (i novos T8 ot@ups) i Cor. i, 19; the word, the doctrine, the preaching concerning the cross, or Christ crucified. So here (2070s) the “word,” is the doctrine of the law; that is, the law itself spoken and promulgated (due ayyehw) by angels; that is, by the ministry of angels. Having newly insisted on a comparison between Christ and the angels, his argument is greatly corroborated when it is considered, that the law was, “the word spoken by angels,” but the gospel was delivered by the Son, who is so far exalted above them. It is no where affirmed, that the law was given by angels;” but that the people “received it by the deputation of angels;" and that it was "ordained” by angels, and here “spoken” by them. From hence it is evident, that not the original authoritative giving of the law, but the ministerial ordering of things in its promulgation, is that which is ascribed to angels. They raised the fire and smoke, they shook and rent the rock; they framed the sound of the trunipet; they effected the articulate voices which conveyed the words of the law to the ears of the people; and therein proclaimed and published the law, whereby it became “the word spoken by angels.”
And that in these words lies the spring of the apostle's argument, is manifest from the interrogatory particles (El yap) for if; for if the law that was published to our fathers by angels, was so vindicated against the disobedient; how much more shall the neglect of the gospel be revenged.
He affirms concerning the word thus published, that it was (BeBesos) firm or stedfast; that is, it became an assured covenant between God and the people. That peace which is firm and well grounded, is called (elpnun Beleuce) “a firm unalterable peace.” The law's
Erpy becoming firm, sure, or stedfast, consists therefore in its being ratified to be the covenant between God and that people, Deut. v, 2, "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb." And therefore in the greater transgressions of the law, the people were said to forsake, to break, to profane, to transgress the covenant of God; Levit. xxvi, 15.
$3. “And every transgression, and stubborn disobedience received a meet retribution.” The one Greek word (Tupaßois) is properly “any transgression;” the other (Tepexon) includes a refusal of obedient attendance. But how may this be extended to every sin and transgression, seeing it is certain that some sins under the law were not punished, but expiated by atonements? We should remember, that every sin was contrary to the doctrine and precepts of the law; and therefore punishment was assigned to every sin, though not executed on every sinner. And so the word (Encßev) received, denotes not the actual infliction of punishment, but the constitution of it in the sanction of the law. Besides, the sacrifices for atonement manifested punishment to have been due, though the sinner was relieved against them. But the sins, especially intended by the apostle, were in fact such, as were directly against the law as it was the covenant between God and the people: for which there was no provision made of any atonement or compensation; but the covenant being broken the sinners were to die without mercy; and thus to be utterly exterminated by the hand of God, or that of man by his appointment. And therefore the sins against the gospel, which are opposed to those, are not all transgressions, or any whatever, that professors may be guilty of, but final apostasy, or unbelief, which render the doctrine of it, to those who are of that description, altogether unprofitable, a “just recompence of reward” (evdimos μισθοποδοσια) progorodovi) is a recompence just and equal, proportionable to their crime, according to the judgment of God, which is, “that they who commit sin are worthy of death,” Rom. i, 32; and particularly refers to the temporal punishment of cutting off from the land of the living, according to the dispensation of the law which the Israelites were subject to. Next follows a description of the gospel. And,
$4. In this part of the words there occurs, The subject matter spoken of; “so great salvation.” A farther description of it; from its principal author, “it began to be spoken of by the Lord.” From the manner of its propagation; "it was confirmed unto us by them that heard it.” From its confirmation by the testimony of God "by signs, wonders, mighty works, and various gifts.of the Holy Ghost.” After all a neglect is supposed; “if we neglect;" and finally, the punishment thereof is intimated; "how shall we escape?” All which are to be severally explained. The subject matter treated of is expressed in these words, “so great salvation.” And that it is the gospel which is intended in that expression, is evident from the preceding
For that which is there called "the word which we have heard,” is here called "great salvation:” as also from the following words, where it is said to be declared or “spoken by the Lord;” and farther “propagated by them that heard him.” And the gospel is called “salvation," by a metonymy of the effect for the
“For it is the grace of God bringing salvation," Titus ii, 11. The word that is able to save us. The
doctrine, the discovery, the instrumental efficient cause of salvation; Rom. i, 16; 1 Cor. i, 20, 21.
$5. The apostle farther describes the gospel from its principal author or revealer; “which at first began to be spoken by the Lord.” Here the word (epavy) denotes beginning, (principium temporis) “the beginning of time.” That is, it began in its open, clear, and actual revelation to be spoken by the Lord himself, and was carried to perfection by those who were appointed and enabled by him for that noble purpose, Job i, 17, 18. Thus was it declared by him in his own person, as the law was given by angels.
$6. He farther describes the gospel from the way and means of its conveyance to us; "it was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” And herein also he prevents an objection that might arise in the minds of the Hebrews: inasmuch as they, at least the greatest part of them, were not acquainted with the personal ministry of the Lord; they heard not the word spoken by him. Hereunto the apostle replies; that though they themselves heard him not, yet the same word which he preached, was not only declared, but confirmed, unto them, by those that heard him. “Those that heard him," is a periphrasis of “the apostles," from that great privilege of their hearing immediately all those things that our Lord taught in his own person. For neither did the church of the Jews hear the law as it was pronounced or heard by angels, but had it confirmed to them by ways and means of God's appointment. And he doth not say merely, that the word was taught, or preached by them; but (EBE BewOn) it was confirmed, made firm and stedfast, being delivered to us infallibly by the ministry of the apostles. There was a Divine (ßeßewsis) firmness, certainty, and infallibility in the apostolical declaration of the gospel; like that which was in the writings of the prophets, which Peter,comparing with miracles, calls (Beßzuolepov novou) a more firm, stedfast, and sure word. And this infallible certainty of their word was from their Divine inspiration.
87. Our inspired teacher farther describes the gospel by the Divine attestations given it, which also adds greatly to the force of his argument and exhortation. The word (συνεπιμαρτυρενίος, agreeing with τε Θεε) is of a double composition, denoting a “concurring testimony of God," a testimony given unto, or together with that of the apostles. These miraculous tokens are various. The first are (omplete) signs; that is, miraculous works, wrought to signify the presence of God by his power with them that wrought them, in confirmation of the doctrine which they taught. The second are (Tepecice) prodigies, wonders, works beyond the nature, above the energy of natural causes, wrought to fill men with wonder and admiration, stirring them up to a diligent attention to the doctrine they accompanied. Thirdly, (Suvepeis) mighty works, wherein evidently a mighty power, the power of God, is exerted in their operation. And fourthly, (TueuMATOS Zy18 lepeodor) gifts of the Holy Ghost.
And this was of special consideration in dealing with the Hebrews. For the delivery of the law, and the ministry of Moses, having been accompanied with many signs and prodigies they made great inquiry after signs for the confirmation of the gospel, 1 Cor. i, 22; which though our Lord neither in his person, nor by his apostles, would grant them in their time and manner, to satisfy their wicked and carnal curiosity, yet in his own way and season he exhibited them abundantly for their conviction, or to leave them utterly inexcusable; John x, 38.