Heb Intro

NOTES ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

NOTES ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

It is agreed by the general tenor of antiquity that this epistle waswritten by St. Paul, whose other epistles were sent to the gentile converts; this only to the Hebrews. But this improper inscription was added by some later hand. It was sent to the Jewish Hellenist Christians, dispersed through various countries. St. Paul's method and style are easily observed therein. He places, as usual, the proposition and division before the treatise, Heb 2:17; he subjoins the exhortatory to the doctrinal part, quotes the same scriptures, Heb 1:6; 2:8; 10:30,38,6; and uses the same expressions as elsewhere.But why does he not prefix his name, which, it is plain from Heb 13:19 was dear to them to whom he wrote? Because he prefixes no inscription,in which, if at all, the name would have been mentioned. The ardour of his spirit carries aim directly upon his subject, (just like St. John in his First Epistle,) and throws back his usual salutation and thanksgiving to the conclusion.

This epistle of St. Paul, and both those of St. Peter, (one may add,that of St. James and of St. Jude also,) were written both to the same persons, dispersed through Pontus, Galatia, and other countries, and nearly at the same time. St. Paul suffered at Rome, three years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore this epistle likewise, was written while the temple was standing. St. Peter wrote a little before his martyrdom, and refers to the epistles of St. Paul; this in particular.

The scope of it is, to confirm their faith in Christ; and this he doesby demonstrating his glory. All the parts of it are full of the most earnest and pointed admonitions and exhortations; and they go on in one tenor, the particle therefore everywhere connecting the doctrine and the use.

The sum is, The glory of Christ appears,

I. From comparing with him the prophets and angels,........ C. i. 1-14   Therefore we ought to give heed to him,................ C. ii. 1-4II. From his passion and consummation.    Here we may observe,  1. The proposition and sum,..................................... 5-9  2. The treatise itself. We have a perfect author of    salvation, who suffered for our sake, that he might be,    (1.) a merciful, and, (2.) a faithful, (3.) high priest,.. 10-13   These three are particularly explained, his passion   and consummation being continually interwoven,  1. He has the virtues of an high priest   a. He is faithful,.................................... C. iii. 1-    Therefore be ye not unfaithful...................... C. iv. 13   b. He is merciful,........................................... 15-    Therefore come to him with confidence................. C. v. 3  2. He is called of God an high priest. Here,   a. The sum is proposed,..................................... 4-10    With a summary exhortation....................... 11-C. vi. 20   b. The point is copiously,    1. Explained. We have a great high priest,     1. Such as is described in the hundred and tenth Psalm      After the order of Melchisedec,.............. C. vii. 1-19      Established by an oath,............................. 20-22      For ever,........................................... 23-28     2. Therefore peculiarly excellent-      Heavenly,.................................... C. viii. 1-6      Of the new covenant,................................. 7-13      By whom we have an entrance into the      sanctuary                     C. ix. 1                               C. x. 18    2. Applied. Therefore,     1. Believe, hope, love................................ 19-25       These three are farther inculcated,      a. Faith, with patience,............................ 26-39        Which, after the example of the ancients,..... C. xi. 1                               C. xii. 1        And of Christ himself,............................. 2,3        Is to be exercised,............................... 4-11        Cheerfully, peaceably, holily,................... 12-17      b. Hope,............................................ 18-20      c. Love,...................................... C.xiii. 1-6     2. In order to grow in these graces, make use of       The remembrance of your former,..................... 7-16       The vigilance of your present, pastors,............ 17-19     To this period, and to the whole epistle, answers       The prayer, the doxology, and the mild       conclusion,........................................ 20-25

There are many comparisons in this epistle, which may be nearly reducedto two heads : 1. The prophets, the angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, are great; but Jesus Christ is infinitely greater 2. The ancient believers enjoyed high privileges; but Christian believers enjoy far higher. To illustrate this, examples both of happiness and misery are everywhere interspersed: so that in this epistle there is a kind of recapitulation of the whole Old Testament. In this also Judaism is abrogated, and Christianity carried to its height.