on Hebrews 1 :6
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten - This is not a correct translation of the Greek, Ὁταν δε παλιν εισαγαγῃ τον πρωτοτοκον εις την οικουμενην· But when he bringeth again, or the second time, the first-born into the habitable world. This most manifestly refers to his resurrection, which might be properly considered a second incarnation; for as the human soul, as well as the fullness of the Godhead bodily, dwelt in the man, Christ Jesus on and during his incarnation, so when he expired upon the cross, both the Godhead and the human spirit left his dead body; and as on his resurrection these were reunited to his revivified manhood, therefore, with the strictest propriety, does the apostle say that the resurrection was a second bringing of him into the world.
I have translated οικουμενη the habitable world, and this is its proper meaning; and thus it is distinguished from κοσμος, which signifies the terraqueous globe, independently of its inhabitants; though it often expresses both the inhabited and uninhabited parts. Our Lord's first coming into the world is expressed by this latter word, Hebrews 10:5 : Wherefore when he cometh into the world, διο εισερχομενος εις τον κοσμον, and this simply refers to his being incarnated, that he might be capable of suffering and dying for man. But the word is changed on this second coming, I mean his resurrection, and then οικουμενη is used; and why? (fancy apart) because he was now to dwell with man; to send his gospel everywhere to all the inhabitants of the earth, and to accompany that Gospel wherever he sent it, and to be wherever two or three should be gathered together in his name. Wherever the messengers of Jesus Christ go, preaching the kingdom of God, even to the farthest and most desolate parts of the earth where human beings exist, there they ever find Christ; he is not only in them, and with them, but he is in and among all who believe on him through their word.
Let all the angels of God worship him - The apostle recurs here to his former assertion, that Jesus is higher than the angels, Hebrews 1:4, that he is none of those who can be called ordinary angels or messengers, but one of the most extraordinary kind, and the object of worship to all the angels of God. To worship any creature is idolatry, and God resents idolatry more than any other evil. Jesus Christ can be no creature, else the angels who worship him must be guilty of idolatry, and God the author of that idolatry, who commanded those angels to worship Christ.
There has been some difficulty in ascertaining the place from which the apostle quotes these words; some suppose Psalm 97:7 : Worship him, all ye gods; which the Septuagint translate thus: Προσκυνησατε αυτῳ, παντες αγγελοι αυτου· Worship him, all ye his angels; but it is not clear that the Messiah is intended in this psalm, nor are the words precisely those used here by the apostle. Our marginal references send us with great propriety to the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 32:43, where the passage is found verbatim et literatim; but there is nothing answering to the words in the present Hebrew text. The apostle undoubtedly quoted the Septuagint, which had then been for more than 300 years a version of the highest repute among the Jews; and it is very probable that the copy from which the Seventy translated had the corresponding words. However this may be, they are now sanctioned by Divine authority; and as the verse contains some singular additions, I will set it down in a parallel column with that of our own version, which was taken immediately from the Hebrew text, premising simply this, that it is the last verse of the famous prophetic song of Moses, which seems to point out the advent of the Messiah to discomfit his enemies, purify the land, and redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Deuteronomy 32:43, from the Hebrew Deuteronomy 32:43, from the Septuagint - Rejoice, ye heaven, together with him; and let all the ... Rejoice, O ye nations, with angels of God worship him. Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people ... his people; and let the children of God be strengthened ... for he will avenge in him; for he will avenge the blood of his children; the blood of his servants; - and will render he will avenge, and will repay judgment to his adver- vengeance to his adversaries: - and ... saries; and those who hate him will he recompense: ... will be merciful to his land and to his people and the Lord will purge the land of his people
This is a very important verse; and to it, as it stands in the Septuagint, St. Paul has referred once before; see Romans 15:10. This very verse, as it stands now in the Septuagint, thus referred to by an inspired writer, shows the great importance of this ancient version; and proves the necessity of its being studied and well understood by every minister of Christ. In Romans 3 there is a large quotation - from Psalm 14:1-7 :, where there are six whole verses in the apostle's quotation which are not found in the present Hebrew text, but are preserved in the Septuagint! How strange it is that this venerable and important version, so often quoted by our Lord and all his apostles, should be so generally neglected, and so little known! That the common people should be ignorant of it, is not to be wondered at, as it has never been put in an English dress; but that the ministers of the Gospel should be unacquainted with it may be spoken to their shame.
on Hebrews 1 :6
And again - Margin, "When he bringeth in again." The proper construction of this sentence probably is, "But when, moreover, he brings in," etc. The word "again" refers not to the fact that the Son of God is brought "again" into the world, implying that he had been introduced before; but it refers to the course of the apostle's argument, or to the declaration which is made about the Messiah in another place. "The name Son is not only given to him as above, but also in another place, or on another occasion when he brings in the first-begotten into the world." "When he bringeth in." When he introduces. So far as the "language" here is concerned this might refer to the birth of the Messiah, but it is evident from the whole connection that the writer means to refer to something that is said in the Old Testament. This is plain because the passage occurs among quotations designed to prove a specific point - that the Son of God, the Author of the Christian system, was superior to the angels.
A declaration of the writer here, however true and solemn, would not have answered the purpose. A "proof-text" was missing; a text which would be admitted by those to whom he wrote to bear on the point under consideration. The meaning then is, "that on another occasion different from those to which he had referred, God, when speaking of the Messiah, or when introducing him to mankind, had used language showing that he was superior to the angels." The meaning of the phrase, "when he bringeth in," therefore, I take to be, when he introduces him to people; when he makes him known to the world - to wit, by the declaration which he proceeds immediately to quote. "The first-begotten." Christ is called the "first-begotten," with reference to his resurrection from the dead, in Revelation 1:5, and Colossians 1:18. It is probable here, however, that the word is used, like the word "first-born," or "first-begotten" among the Hebrews, by way of eminence.
As the first-born was the principal heir, and had special privileges, so the Lord Jesus Christ sustains a similar rank in the universe of which God is the Head and Father; see notes on John 1:14, where the word "only-begotten" is used to denote the dignity and honor of the Lord Jesus. "Into the world." When he introduces him to mankind, or declares what he is to be. "He saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Much difficulty has been experienced in regard to this quotation, for it cannot be denied that it is intended to be a quotation. In the Septuagint these very words occur in Deuteronomy 32:43, where they are inserted in the Song of Moses. But they are not in the Hebrew, nor are they in all the copies of the Septuagint. The Hebrew is, "Rejoice, O ye nations with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries." The Septuagint is, "Rejoice ye heavens with him; and let all the angels of God worship him. Let the nations rejoice with his people, and let all the sons of God be strong in him, for he has avenged the blood of his sons." But there are objections to our supposing that the apostle had this place in his view, which seem to me to settle the matter.
(1) one is, that the passage is not in the Hebrew; and it seems hardly credible that in writing to Hebrews, and to those residing in the very country where the Hebrew Scriptures were constantly used, he should adduce as a proof-text on an important doctrine what was not in their Scriptures.
(2) a second is, that it is omitted in all the ancient versions except the Septuagint.
(3) a third is, that it is impossible to believe that the passage in question in Deuteronomy had any reference to the Messiah. It does not relate to his "introduction" to the world. It would not occur to any reader that it had any such reference. The context celebrates the victory over the enemies of Israel which God will achieve. After saying that "his arrows would be drunk with blood, and that his sword would devour flesh with the blood of the slain and of captives, from the time when he began to take vengeance on an enemy," the Septuagint (not the Hebrew) immediately asserts, "let the heavens rejoice at the same time with him, and let all the angels of God worship him." That is, "Let the inhabitants of the heavenly world rejoice in the victory of God over the enemies of his people, and let them pay their adoration to him." But the Messiah does not appear to be alluded to anywhere in the context; much less described as "introduced into the world."
There is, moreover, not the slightest evidence that it was ever supposed by the Jews to have any such reference; and though it might be said that the apostle merely quoted "language" that expressed his meaning - as we often do when we are familiar with any well-known phrase that will exactly suit our purpose and convey an idea - yet it should be remarked that this is not the way in which this passage is quoted. It is a "proof-text," and Paul evidently meant to be understood as saying that that passage had a "fair" reference to the Messiah. It is evident, moreover, that it would be admitted to have such a reference by those to whom he wrote. It is morally certain, therefore, that this was not the passage which the writer intended to quote. The probability is, that the writer here referred to Psalm 97:7, (in the Septuagint Psalm 96:7). In that place, the Hebrew is, "worship him, all ye gods" כל אלהים kaal 'elohiym - "all ye 'elohiym."
In the Septuagint it is, "Let all his angels worship him;" where the translation is literal, except that the word "God" - "angels of God" - is used by the apostle instead of "his" - "all his angels" - as it is in the Septuagint. The word "gods" - אלהים 'elohiym - is rendered by the word "angels" - but the word may have that sense. Thus, it is rendered by the Septuagint; in Job 20:15; and in Psalm 8:6; Psalm 137:1. It is well known that the word אלהים 'elohiym may denote "kings" and "magistrates," because of their rank and dignity; and is there anything improbable in the supposition that, for a similar reason, the word may be given also to "angels"? The fair interpretation of the passage then would be, to refer it to "angelic beings" - and the command in Psalm 97:1-12 is for them to do homage to the Being there referred to. The only question then is, whether the Psalm can be regarded properly as having any reference to the Messiah? Did the apostle fairly and properly use this language as referring to him? On this we may remark:
(1) That the fact that he uses it thus may be regarded as proof that it would be admitted to be proper by the Jews in his time, and renders it probable that it was in fact so used.
(2) two Jewish Rabbis of distinction - Rashi and Kimchi - affirm that all the Psalms P1 Samuel 93-101 are to be regarded as referring to the Messiah. Such was, and is, the opinion of the Jews.
(3) there is nothing in the Psalm which forbids such a reference, or which can be shown to be inconsistent with it. Indeed the whole Psalm might be taken as beautifully descriptive of the "introduction" of the Son of God into the world, or as a sublime and glorious description of his advent. Thus, in Hebrews 1:1, the earth is called on to rejoice that the Lord reigns. In Hebrews 1:2-5, he is introduced or described as coming in the most magnificent manner - clouds and darkness attend him; a fire goes before him; the lightnings play; and the hills melt like wax - a sublime description of his coming, with appropriate symbols, to reign, or to judge the world. In Hebrews 1:6, it is said that all people shall see his glory; in Hebrews 1:7, that all who worship graven images shall be confounded, and "all the angels are required to do him homage;" and in Hebrews 1:8-12, the effect of his advent is described as filling Zion with rejoicing, and the hearts of the people of God with gladness. It cannot be proveD, therefore, that this Psalm had no reference to the Messiah; but the presumption is that it had, and that the apostle has quoted it not only as it was usually regarded in his time, but as it was designed by the Holy Ghost. If so, then it proves, what the writer intended, that the Son of God should be adored by the angels; and of course that he was superior to them. It proves also more. Whom would God require the angels to adore? A creature? A man? A fellow-angel? To ask these questions is to answer them. He could require them to worship none but God, and the passage proves that the Son of God is divine.
on Hebrews 1 :6
1:6 And again - That is, in another scripture. He - God. Saith, when he bringeth in his first - begotten - This appellation includes that of Son, together with the rights of primogeniture, which the first - begotten Son of God enjoys, in a manner not communicable to any creature. Into the world - Namely, at his incarnation. He saith, Let all the angels of God worship him - So much higher was he, when in his lowest estate, than the highest angel. Psa 97:7.