Search the Bible
* powered by Bible Study Tools

Hebrews 1:8

    Hebrews 1:8 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    But to the Son he said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    But of the Son he says, Your seat of power, O God, is for ever and ever; and the rod of your kingdom is a rod of righteousness.

    Webster's Revision

    but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    World English Bible

    But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    Clarke's Commentary on Hebrews 1:8

    Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever - If this be said of the Son of God, i.e., Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ must be God; and indeed the design of the apostle is to prove this. The words here quoted are taken from Psalm 45:6, Psalm 45:7, which the ancient Chaldee paraphrast, and the most intelligent rabbins, refer to the Messiah. On the third verse of this Psalm, 'Thou art fairer than the children of men,' the Targum says: 'Thy beauty, מלכא משיחא malca Meshicha, O King Messiah, is greater than the children of men.' Aben Ezra says: 'This Psalm speaks of David, or rather of his Son the Messiah, for this is his name, Ezekiel 34:24 : And David my servant shall be a prince over them for ever.' Other rabbins confirm this opinion.

    "This verse is very properly considered a proof, and indeed a strong one, of the divinity of Christ; but some late versions of the New Testament have endeavored to avoid the evidence of this proof by translating the word thus: 'God is thy throne for ever and ever;' and if this version be correct, it is certain that the text can be no proof of the doctrine. Mr. Wakefield vindicates this translation at large in his History of Opinions; and ὁ Θεος being the nominative case is supposed to be sufficient justification of this version. In answer to this it may be stated that the nominative case is often used for the vocative, particularly by the Attics, and the whole scope of the place requires it should be so used here; and with due deference to all of a contrary opinion, the original Hebrew cannot be consistently translated any other way; כסאך אלהים עולם ועד kisacha Elohim olam vaed, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and to eternity.' It is in both worlds, and extends over all time, and will exist through all endless duration. To this our Lord seems to refer, Matthew 28:18 : 'All power is given unto me, both in Heaven and Earth.' My throne, i.e., my dominion, extends from the creation to the consummation of all things. These I have made, and these I uphold; and from the end of the world, throughout eternity, I shall have the same glory - sovereign unlimited power and authority, which I had with the Father before the world began; John 17:5. I may add that none of the ancient Versions has understood it in the way contended for by those who deny the Godhead of Christ, either in the Psalm from which it is taken, or in this place where it is quoted. Aquila translates אלהים Elohim, by Θεε, O God, in the vocative case; and the Arabic adds the sign of the vocative ya, reading the place thus: korsee yallaho ila abadilabada, the same as in our Version. And even allowing that ὁ Θεος here is to be used as the nominative case, it will not make the sense contended for without adding εστι to it, a reading which is not countenanced by any Version, nor by any MS. yet discovered. Wiclif, Coverdale, and others, understood it as the nominative, and translated it so; and yet it is evident that this nominative has the power of the vocative: Forsothe to the sone God thi troone into the world of worlde: a gerde of equite the gerde of thi reume. I give this, pointing and all, as it stands in my old MS. Bible. Wiclif is nearly the same, but is evidently of a more modern cast: But to the sone he seith, God thy trone is unto the world of world, a gherd of equyte is the gherd of thi rewme. Coverdale translates it thus: 'But unto the sonne he sayeth: God, thi seate endureth for ever and ever: the cepter of thy kyngdome is a right cepter.' Tindal and others follow in the same way, all reading it in the nominative case, with the force of the vocative; for none of them has inserted the word εστι is, because not authorized by the original; a word which the opposers of the Divinity of our Lord are obliged to beg, in order to support their interpretation.

    A scepter of righteousness - The scepter, which was a sort of staff or instrument of various forms, was the ensign of government, and is here used for government itself. This the ancient Jewish writers understand also of the Messiah.

    Hebrews 1:8Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever - If this be said of the Son of God, i.e. Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ must be God; and indeed the design of the apostle is to prove this. The words here quoted are taken from Psalm 45:6, Psalm 45:7, which the ancient Chaldee paraphrast, and the most intelligent rabbins, refer to the Messiah. On the third verse of this Psalm, Thou art fairer than the children of men, the Targum says: "Thy beauty, מלכא משיחא malca Meshicha, O King Messiah, is greater than the children of men." Aben Ezra says: "This Psalm speaks of David, or rather of his son, the Messiah, for this is his name," Ezekiel 34:24 : And David my servant shall be a Prince over them for ever. Other rabbins confirm this opinion.

    This verse is very properly considered a proof, and indeed a strong one, of the Divinity of Christ; but some late versions of the New Testament have endeavored to avoid the evidence of this proof by translating the words thus: God is thy throne for ever and ever; and if this version be correct, it is certain the text can be no proof of the doctrine. Mr. Wakefield vindicates this translation at large in his History of Opinions; and ὁ Θεος, being the nominative case, is supposed to be a sufficient justification of this version. In answer to this it may be stated that the nominative case is often used for the vocative, particularly by the Attics; and the whole scope of the place requires it should be so used here; and, with due deference to all of a contrary opinion, the original Hebrew cannot be consistently translated any other way, כסאך אלהים עולם ועד kisaca Elohim olam vaed, Thy throne, O God, is for ever, and to eternity. It is in both worlds; and extends over all time; and will exist through all endless duration. To this our Lord seems to refer, Matthew 28:18 : All power is given unto me, both in Heaven and Earth. My throne, i.e. my dominion, extends from the creation to the consummation of all things. These I have made, and these I uphold; and from the end of the world, throughout eternity, I shall have the same glory - sovereign, unlimited power and authority, which I had with the Father before the world began; John 17:5. I may add that none of the ancient versions has understood it in the way contended for by those who deny the Godhead of Christ, either in the Psalm from which it is taken, or in this place where it is quoted. Aquila translates אלהים Elohim, by Θεε, O God, in the vocative case; and the Arabic adds the sign of the vocative ya, reading the place thus: korsee yallaho ila abadilabada, the same as in our version. And even allowing that ὁ Θεος here is to be used as the nominative case, it will not make the sense contended for, without adding εστι to it, a reading which is not countenanced by any version, nor by any MS. yet discovered. Wiclif, Coverdale, and others, understood it as the nominative, and translated it so; and yet it is evident that this nominative has the power of the vocative: forsothe to the sone God thi troone into the world of world: a gerde of equite the gerde of thi reume. I give this, pointing and all, as it stands in my old MS. Bible. Wiclif is nearly the same, but is evidently of a more modern cast: but to the sone he seith, God thy trone is into the world of world, a gherd of equyte is the gherd of thi rewme. Coverdale translates it thus: But unto the sonne he sayeth, God, thi seate endureth for ever and ever: the cepter of thi kyngdome is a right cepter. Tindal and others follow in the same way, all reading it in the nominative case, with the force of the vocative; for none of them has inserted the word εστι, is, because not authorized by the original: a word which the opposers of the Divinity of our Lord are obliged to beg, in order to support their interpretation. See some farther criticisms on this at the end of this chapter.

    A scepter of righteousness - The scepter, which was a sort of staff or instrument of various forms, was the ensign of government, and is here used for government itself. This the ancient Jewish writers understand also of the Messiah.

    Barnes' Notes on Hebrews 1:8

    But unto the Son he saith - In Psalm 45:6-7. The fact that the writer of this Epistle makes this application of the Psalm to the Messiah, proves that it was so applied in his time, or that it would be readily admitted to be applicable to him. It has been generally admitted, by both Jewish and Christian interpreters, to have such a reference. Even those who have doubted its primary applicability to the Messiah, have regarded it as referring to him in a secondary sense. Many have supposed that it referred to Solomon in the primary sense, and that it has a secondary reference to the Messiah. To me it seems most probable that it had an original and exclusive reference to the Messiah. It is to be remembered that the hope of the Messiah was the special hope of the Jewish people. The coming of the future king, so early promised, was the great event to which they all looked forward with the deepest interest.

    That hope inspired their prophets and their bards, and cheered the hearts of the nation in the time of despondency. The Messiah, if I may so express it, was the "hero" of the Old Testament - more so than Achilles is of the Iliad, and Aeneas of the Aenead. The sacred poets were accustomed to employ all their most magnificent imagery in describing him, and to present him in every form that was beautiful in their conception, and that would be gratifying to the pride and hopes of the nation. Everything that is gorgeous and splendid in description is lavished on him, and they were never under any apprehension of attributing to him too great magnificence in his personal reign; too great beauty of moral character; or too great an extent of dominion. That which would be regarded by them as a magnificent description of a monarch, they freely applied to him; and this is evidently the case in this Psalm. That the description may have been in part derived from the view of Solomon in the magnificence of his court, is possible, but no more probable than that it was derived from the general view of the splendor of any Oriental monarch, or than that it might have been the description of a monarch which was the pure creation of inspired poetry.

    Indeed, I do see not why this Psalm should ever have been supposed to be applicable to Solomon. His "name" is not mentioned. It has no special applicability to him. There is nothing that would apply to him which would not also apply to many an Oriental prince. There are some things in it which are much less applicable to him than to many others. The king here described is a conqueror. He girds his sword on his thigh, and his arrows are sharp in the hearts of his foes, and the people are subdued under him. This was not true of Solomon. His was a reign of peace and tranquillity, nor was he ever distinguished for war. On the whole, it seems clear to me, that this Psalm is designed to be a beautiful poetic description of the Messiah as king. The images are drawn from the usual characteristics of an Oriental prince, and there are many things in the poem - as there are in parables - for the sake of keeping, or verisimilitude, and which are not, in the interpretation, to be cut to the quick.

    The writer imagined to himself a magnificent and beautiful prince; a prince riding prosperously in his conquests; swaying a permanent and wide dominion; clothed in rich and splendid vestments; eminently upright and pure; and scattering blessings everywhere - and that prince was the Messiah. The Psalm, therefore, I regard as relating originally and exclusively to Christ; and though in the interpretation, the circumstances should not be unduly pressed, nor an attempt be made to spiritualize them, yet the whole is a glowing and most beautiful description of Christ as a King. The same principles of interpretation should be applied to it which are applied to parables, and the same allowance be made for the introduction of circumstances for the sake of keeping, or for finishing the story. If this be the correct view, then Paul has quoted the Psalm in conformity exactly with its original intention, as he undoubtedly quoted it as it was understood in his time.

    "Thy throne." A throne is the seat on which a monarch sits, and is here the symbol of dominion, because kings when acting as rulers sit on thrones. Thus, a throne becomes the emblem of authority or empire. Here it means, that his "rule" or "dominion" would be perpetual - "forever and ever" - which assuredly could not be applied to Solomon. "O God." This certainly could not be applied to Solomon; but applied to the Messiah it proves what the apostle is aiming to prove - that he is above the angels. The argument is, that a name is given to "him" which is never given to "them." They are not called "God" in any strict and proper sense. The "argument" here requires us to understand this word, as used in a sense more exalted than any name which is ever given to angels, and though it may be maintained that the name אלהים 'elohiym, is given to magistrates or to angels, yet here the argument requires us to understand it as used in a sense superior to what it ever is when applied to an angel - or of course to any creature, since it was the express design of the argument to prove that the Messiah was superior to the angels.

    The word "God" should be taken in its natural and obvious sense, unless there is some necessary reason for limiting it. If applied to magistrates Psalm 82:6, it must be so limited. If applied to the Messiah, there is no such necessity, John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6; 1 John 5:20; Philippians 2:6, and it should be taken in its natural and proper sense. The "form" here - ὁ Θεὸς ho Theos - is in the vocative case and not the nominative. It is the usual form of the vocative in the Septuagint, and nearly the only form of it - Stuart. This then is a direct address to the Messiah, calling him God; and I see not why it is not to be used in the usual and proper sense of the word. Unitarians proposed to translate this, "God is thy throne;" but how can God be "a throne" of a creature? What is the meaning of such an expression? Where is there one parallel? And what must be the nature of that cause which renders such an argument necessary? - This refers, as it seems to me, to the Messiah "as king."

    It does not relate to his mode of existence before the incarnation, but to him as the magnificent monarch of his people. Still, the ground or reason why this name is given to him is that he is "divine." It is language which properly expresses his nature. He must have a divine nature, or such language would be improper. I regard this passage, therefore, as full proof that the Lord Jesus is divine; nor is it possible to evade this conclusion by any fair interpretation of it. It cannot be wrong to address him as God; nor addressing him as such, not to regard him as divine. "Is forever and ever." This could not in any proper sense apply to Solomon. As applied to the Messiah, it means that his essential kingdom will be perpetual, Luke 1:33. As Mediator his kingdom will be given up to the Father, or to God without reference to a mediatorial work, (1 Corinthians 15:24, 1 Corinthians 15:28 - see notes on these verses), but his reign over his people will be perpetual.

    There never will come a time when they shall not obey and serve him, though the special form of his kingdom, as connected with the work of mediation, will be changed. The form of the organized church, for example, will be changed, for there shall be no necessity for it in heaven, but the essential dominion and power of the Son of God will not cease. He shall have the same dominion which he had before he entered on the work of mediation; and that will be eternal. It is also true that, compared with earthly monarchs, his kingdom shall be perpetual. They soon die. Dynasties pass away. But his empire extends from age to age, and is properly a perpetual dominion. The fair and obvious interpretation of this passage would satisfy me, were there nothing else, that this Psalm had no reference to Solomon, but was designed originally as a description of the Messiah as the expected King and Prince of his people. "A scepter of righteousness."

    That is, a right or just scepter. The phrase is a Hebraism. The former expression described the perpetuity of his kingdom; this describes its "equable nature." It would be just and equal; see notes on Isaiah 11:5. A "scepter" is a staff or wand usually made of wood, five or six feet long, and commonly overlaid with gold, or ornamented with golden rings. Sometimes, however, the scepter was made of ivory, or wholly of gold. It was borne in the hands of kings as an emblem of authority and power. Probably it had its origin in the staff or crook of the shepherd - as kings were at first regarded as the "shepherds" of their people. Thus, Agamemnon is commonly called by Homer the "shepherd" of the people. The "scepter" thus becomes the emblem of kingly office and power - as when we speak of "swaying a scepter;" - and the idea here is, that the Messiah would be a "king," and that the authority which he would wield would be equitable and just. He would not be governed, as monarchs often are, by mere caprice, or by the wishes of courtiers and flatterers; he would not be controlled by mere "will" and the love of arbitrary lower; but the execution of his laws would be in accordance with the principles of equity and justice. - How well this accords with the character of the Lord Jesus we need not pause to show; compare notes on Isaiah 11:2-5.

    Wesley's Notes on Hebrews 1:8

    1:8 O God - God, in the singular number, is never in scripture used absolutely of any but the supreme God. Thy reign, of which the sceptre is the ensign, is full of justice and equity. Psa 45:6,7.