on Hebrews 9 :14
Who through the eternal Spirit - This expression is understood two ways:
1. Of the Holy Ghost himself. As Christ's miraculous conception was by the Holy Spirit, and he wrought all his miracles by the Spirit of God, so his death or final offering was made through or by the eternal Spirit; and by that Spirit he was raised from the dead, 1 Peter 3:18. Indeed, through the whole of his life be was justified by the Spirit; and we find that in this great work of human redemption, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were continually employed: therefore the words may be understood of the Holy Spirit properly.
2. Of the eternal Logos or Deity which dwelt in the man Christ Jesus, through the energy of which the offering of his humanity became an infinitely meritorious victim; therefore the Deity of Christ is here intended.
But we cannot well consider one of these distinct from the other; and hence probably arose the various readings in the MSS. and versions on this article. Instead of δια Πνευματος αιωνιου, by the Eternal Spirit, δια Πνευματος Ἁγιου, by the Holy Spirit, is the reading of D*, and more than twenty others of good note, besides the Coptic, Slavonic, Vulgate, two copies of the Itala, Cyril, Athanasius sometimes, Damascenus, Chrysostom, and some others. But the common reading is supported by ABD**, and others, besides the Syriac, all the Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Athanasius generally, Theodoret, Theophylact, and Ambrosius. This, therefore, is the reading that should he preferred, as it is probable that the Holy Ghost, not the Logos, is what the apostle had more immediately in view. But still we must say, that the Holy Spirit, with the eternal Logos, and the almighty Father, equally concurred in offering up the sacrifice of the human nature of Christ, in order to make atonement for the sin of the world.
Purge your conscience - Καθαριει την συνειδησιν· Purify your conscience. The term purify should be everywhere, both in the translation of the Scriptures, and in preaching the Gospel, preferred to the word purge, which, at present, is scarcely ever used in the sense in which our translators have employed it.
Dead works - Sin in general, or acts to which the penalty of death is annexed by the law. See the phrase explained, Hebrews 6:1 (note).
on Hebrews 9 :14
How much more shall the blood of Christ - As being infinitely more precious than the blood of an animal could possibly be. If the blood of an animal had any efficacy at all, even in removing ceremonial pollutions, how much more is it reasonable to suppose may be effected by the blood of the Son of God!
Who through the eternal Spirit - This expression is very difficult, and has given rise to a great variety of interpretation. - Some mss. instead of "eternal" here, read "holy," making it refer directly to the Holy Spirit; see "Wetstein." These various readings, however, are not regarded as of sufficient authority to lead to a change in the text, and are of importance only as showing that it was an early opinion that the Holy Spirit is here referred to. The principal opinions which have been entertained of the meaning of this phrase, are the following.
(1) that which regards it as referring to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. This was the opinion of Owen, Doddridge, and archbishop Tillotson.
(2) that which refers it to the "divine nature" of Christ. Among those who have maintained this opinion, are Beza, Ernesti, Wolf, Vitringa, Storr, and the late Dr. John P. Wilson. mss. Notes.
(3) others, as Grotius, Rosenmuller, Koppe, understand it as meaning "endless" or "immortal life," in contradistinction from the Jewish sacrifices which were of a perishable nature, and which needed so often to be repeated.
(4) others regard it as referring to the glorified person of the Saviour, meaning that in his exalted, or spiritual station in heaven, he presents the efficacy of his blood.
(5) others suppose that it means "divine influence," and that the idea is, that Christ was actuated and filled with a divine influence when he offered up himself as a sacrifice; an influence which was not of a temporal and fleeting nature, but which was eternal in its efficacy. This is the interpretation preferred by Prof. Stuart.
For an examination of these various opinions, see his "Excursus, xviii." on this Epistle. It is difficult, if not impossible, to decide what is the true meaning of the passage amidst this diversity of opinion; but there are some reasons which seem to me to make it probable that the Holy Spirit is intended, and that the idea is, that Christ made his great sacrifice under "the extraordinary influences of that Eternal Spirit." The reasons which lead me to this opinion, are the following:
(1) It is what would occur to the great mass of the readers of the New Testament. It is presumed that the great body of sober, plain, and intelligent readers of the Bible, on perusing the passage, suppose that it refers to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. There are few better and safer rules for the interpretation of a volume designed like the Bible for the mass of mankind, than to abide by the sense in which they understand it.
(2) this interpretation is one which is most naturally conveyed by the language of the original. The phrase "the spirit" - τὸ πνέυμα to pneuma - has so far a technical and established meaning in the New Testament as to denote the Holy Spirit, unless there is something in the connection which renders such an application improper. In this case there is nothing certainly which "necessarily" forbids such an application. The high names and Classical authority of those who have held this opinion, are a sufficient guarantee of this.
(3) this interpretation accords with the fact that the Lord Jesus is represented as having been eminently endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit; compare notes on John 3:34. Though he was divine, yet he was also a man, and as such was under influences similar to those of other pious people. The Holy Spirit is the source and sustainer of all piety in the soul, and it is not improper to suppose that the man Christ Jesus was in a remarkable manner influenced by the Holy Spirit in his readiness to obey God and to suffer according to his will.
(4) if there was ever any occasion on which we may suppose he was influenced by the Holy Spirit, that of his sufferings and death here referred to may be supposed eminently to have been such an one. It was expressive of the highest state of piety - of the purest love to God and man - which has ever existed in the human bosom; it was the most trying time of his own life; it was the period when there would be the most strong temptation to abandon his work; and as the redemption of the whole world was dependent on that act, it is reasonable to suppose that the richest heavenly grace would be there imparted to him, and that he would then be eminently under the influence of that Spirit which was granted not "by measure unto him." notes, John 3:34.
(5) this representation is not inconsistent with the belief that the sufferings and death of the Redeemer were "voluntary," and had all the merit which belongs to a voluntary transaction. Piety in the heart of a Christian now is not less voluntary because it is produced and cherished by the Holy Spirit, nor is there less excellence in it because the Holy Spirit imparts strong faith in the time of temptation and trial. It seems to me, therefore, that the meaning of this expression is, that the Lord Jesus was led by the strong influences of the Spirit of God to devote himself as a sacrifice for sin. It was not by any temporary influence; not by mere excitement; it was by the influence of the "Eternal" Spirit of God, and the sacrifice thus offered could, therefore, accomplish effects which would be eternal in their character. It was not like the offering made by the Jewish high priest which was necessarily renewed every year, but it was under the influence of one who was "eternal," and the effects of whose influence might be everlasting. It may be added, that if this is a correct exposition, it follows that the Holy Spirit is eternal, and must, therefore, be divine.
Offered himself - That is, as a sacrifice. He did not offer a bullock or a goat, but he offered "himself." The sacrifice of oneself is the highest offering which he can make; in this case it was the highest which the universe had to make.
on Hebrews 9 :14
9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ. - The merit of all his sufferings. Who through the eternal Spirit - The work of redemption being the work of the whole Trinity. Neither is the Second Person alone concerned even in the amazing condescension that was needful to complete it. The Father delivers up the kingdom to the Son; and the Holy Ghost becomes the gift of the Messiah, being, as it were, sent according to his good pleasure. Offered himself - Infinitely more precious than any created victim, and that without spot to God. Purge our conscience - Our inmost soul. From dead works - From all the inward and outward works of the devil, which spring from spiritual death in the soul, and lead to death everlasting. To serve the living God - In the life of faith, in perfect love and spotless holiness.