This epistle shows Christ as the end, foundation, body, and truth of the figures of the law, which of themselves were no virtue for the soul. The great truth set forth in this epistle is that Jesus of Nazareth is the true God. The unconverted Jews used many arguments to draw their converted brethren from the Christian faith. They represented the law of Moses as superior to the Christian dispensation, and spoke against every thing connected with the Saviour. The apostle, therefore, shows the superiority of Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God, and the benefits from his sufferings and death as the sacrifice for sin, so that the Christian religion is much more excellent and perfect than that of Moses. And the principal design seems to be, to bring the converted Hebrews forward in the knowledge of the gospel, and thus to establish them in the Christian faith, and to prevent their turning from it, against which they are earnestly warned. But while it contains many things suitable to the Hebrews of early times, it also contains many which can never cease to interest the church of God; for the knowledge of Jesus Christ is the very marrow and kernel of all the Scriptures. The ceremonial law is full of Christ, and all the gospel is full of Christ; the blessed lines of both Testaments meet in Him; and how they both agree and sweetly unite in Jesus Christ, is the chief object of the epistle to the Hebrews to discover.
The surpassing dignity of the Son of God in his Divine person, and in his creating and mediatorial work. (1-3) And in his superiority to all the holy angels. (4-14)
Verses 1-3 God spake to his ancient people at sundry times, through successive generations, and in divers manners, as he thought proper; sometimes by personal directions, sometimes by dreams, sometimes by visions, sometimes by Divine influences on the minds of the prophets. The gospel revelation is excellent above the former; in that it is a revelation which God has made by his Son. In beholding the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Father, ( John 14:7 ) ; the fulness of the Godhead dwells, not typically, or in a figure, but really, in him. When, on the fall of man, the world was breaking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking the work of redemption, sustained it by his almighty power and goodness. From the glory of the person and office of Christ, we proceed to the glory of his grace. The glory of His person and nature, gave to his sufferings such merit as was a full satisfaction to the honour of God, who suffered an infinite injury and affront by the sins of men. We never can be thankful enough that God has in so many ways, and with such increasing clearness, spoken to us fallen sinners concerning salvation. That he should by himself cleanse us from our sins is a wonder of love beyond our utmost powers of admiration, gratitude, and praise.
Verses 4-14 Many Jews had a superstitious or idolatrous respect for angels, because they had received the law and other tidings of the Divine will by their ministry. They looked upon them as mediators between God and men, and some went so far as to pay them a kind of religious homage or worship. Thus it was necessary that the apostle should insist, not only on Christ's being the Creator of all things, and therefore of angels themselves, but as being the risen and exalted Messiah in human nature, to whom angels, authorities, and powers are made subject. To prove this, several passages are brought from the Old Testament. On comparing what God there says of the angels, with what he says to Christ, the inferiority of the angels to Christ plainly appears. Here is the office of the angels; they are God's ministers or servants, to do his pleasure. But, how much greater things are said of Christ by the Father! And let us own and honour him as God; for if he had not been God, he had never done the Mediator's work, and had never worn the Mediator's crown. It is declared how Christ was qualified for the office of Mediator, and how he was confirmed in it: he has the name Messiah from his being anointed. Only as Man he has his fellows, and as anointed with the Holy Spirit; but he is above all prophets, priests, and kings, that ever were employed in the service of God on earth. Another passage of Scripture, Ps. 102:25-27 , is recited, in which the Almighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ is declared, both in creating the world and in changing it. Christ will fold up this world as a garment, not to be abused any longer, not to be used as it has been. As a sovereign, when his garments of state are folded and put away, is a sovereign still, so our Lord, when he has laid aside the earth and heavens like a vesture, shall be still the same. Let us not then set our hearts upon that which is not what we take it to be, and will not be what it now is. Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse, and Christ will make a great change in it for the better. Let the thoughts of this make us watchful, diligent, and desirous of that better world. The Saviour has done much to make all men his friends, yet he has enemies. But they shall be made his footstool, by humble submission, or by utter destruction. Christ shall go on conquering and to conquer. The most exalted angels are but ministering spirits, mere servants of Christ, to execute his commands. The saints, at present, are heirs, not yet come into possession. The angels minister to them in opposing the malice and power of evil spirits, in protecting and keeping their bodies, instructing and comforting their souls, under Christ and the Holy Ghost. Angels shall gather all the saints together at the last day, when all whose hearts and hopes are set upon perishing treasures and fading glories, will be driven from Christ's presence into everlasting misery.
Hebrews 1:1-14 . THE HIGHEST OF ALL REVELATIONS IS GIVEN US NOW IN THE SON OF GOD, WHO IS GREATER THAN THE ANGELS, AND WHO, HAVING COMPLETED REDEMPTION, SITS ENTHRONED AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND.
The writer, though not inscribing his name, was well known to those addressed ( Hebrews 13:19 ). For proofs of Paul being the author, see my Introduction. In the Pauline method, the statement of subject and the division are put before the discussion; and at the close, the practical follows the doctrinal portion. The ardor of Spirit in this Epistle, as in First John, bursting forth at once into the subject (without prefatory inscription of name and greeting), the more effectively strikes the hearers. The date must have been while the temple was yet standing, before its destruction, A.D. 70; some time before the martyrdom of Peter, who mentions this Epistle of Paul ( 2 Peter 3:15 2 Peter 3:16 ); at a time when many of the first hearers of the Lord were dead.
1. at sundry times--Greek, "in many portions." All was not revealed to each one prophet; but one received one portion of revelation, and another another. To Noah the quarter of the world to which Messiah should belong was revealed; to Abraham, the nation; to Jacob, the tribe; to David and Isaiah, the family; to Micah, the town of nativity; to Daniel, the exact time; to Malachi, the coming of His forerunner, and His second advent; through Jonah, His burial and resurrection; through Isaiah and Hosea, His resurrection. Each only knew in part; but when that which was perfect came in Messiah, that which was in part was done away ( 1 Corinthians 13:12 ).
in divers manners--for example, internal suggestions, audible voices, the Urim and Thummim, dreams, and visions. "In one way He was seen by Abraham, in another by Moses, in another by Elias, and in another by Micah; Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, beheld different forms" [THEODORET]. (Compare Numbers 12:6-8 ). The Old Testament revelations were fragmentary in substance, and manifold in form; the very multitude of prophets shows that they prophesied only in part. In Christ, the revelation of God is full, not in shifting hues of separated color, but Himself the pure light, uniting in His one person the whole spectrum ( Hebrews 1:3 ).
spake--the expression usual for a Jew to employ in addressing Jews. So Matthew, a Jew writing especially for Jews, quotes Scripture, not by the formula, "It is written," but "said," &c.
in time past--From Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, for four hundred years, there had arisen no prophet, in order that the Son might be the more an object of expectation [BENGEL]. As God (the Father) is introduced as having spoken here; so God the Son, Hebrews 2:3 ; God the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 3:7 .
the fathers--the Jewish fathers. The Jews of former days ( 1 Corinthians 10:1 ).
by--Greek, "in." A mortal king speaks by his ambassador, not (as the King of kings) in his ambassador. The Son is the last and highest manifestation of God ( Matthew 21:34 Matthew 21:37 ); not merely a measure, as in the prophets, but the fulness of the Spirit of God dwelling in Him bodily ( John 1:16 , 3:34 , Colossians 2:9 ). Thus he answers the Jewish objection drawn from their prophets. Jesus is the end of all prophecy ( Revelation 19:10 ), and of the law of Moses ( John 1:17 , 5:46 ).
2. in these last days--In the oldest manuscripts the Greek is. "At the last part of these days." The Rabbins divided the whole of time into "this age," or "world," and "the age to come" ( Hebrews 2:5 , 6:5 ). The days of Messiah were the transition period or "last part of these days" (in contrast to "in times past"), the close of the existing dispensation, and beginning of the final dispensation of which Christ's second coming shall be the crowning consummation.
by his Son--Greek, "IN (His) Son" ( John 14:10 ). The true "Prophet" of God. "His majesty is set forth: (1) Absolutely by the very name "Son," and by three glorious predicates, "whom He hath appointed," "by whom He made the worlds," "who sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" thus His course is described from the beginning of all things till he reached the goal ( Hebrews 1:2 Hebrews 1:3 ). (2) Relatively, in comparison with the angels, Hebrews 1:4 ; the confirmation of this follows, and the very name "Son" is proved at Hebrews 1:5 ; the "heirship," Hebrews 1:6-9 ; the "making the worlds," Hebrews 1:10-12 ; the "sitting at the right hand" of God, Hebrews 1:13 Hebrews 1:14 ." His being made heir follows His sonship, and preceded His making the worlds ( Proverbs 8:22 Proverbs 8:23 , Ephesians 3:11 ). As the first begotten, He is heir of the universe ( Hebrews 1:6 ), which He made instrumentally, Hebrews 11:3 , where "by the Word of God" answers to "by whom"' (the Son of God) here ( John 1:3 ). Christ was "appointed" (in God's eternal counsel) to creation as an office; and the universe so created was assigned to Him as a kingdom. He is "heir of all things" by right of creation, and especially by right of redemption. The promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world had its fulfilment, and will have it still more fully, in Christ ( Romans 4:13 , Galatians 3:16 , 4:7 ).
worlds--the inferior and the superior worlds ( Colossians 1:16 ). Literally, "ages" with all things and persons belonging to them; the universe, including all space and ages of time, and all material and spiritual existences. The Greek implies, He not only appointed His Son heir of all things before creation, but He also (better than "also He") made by Him the worlds.
3. Who being--by pre-existent and essential being.
brightness of his glory--Greek, the effulgence of His glory. "Light of (from) light" [Nicene Creed]. "Who is so senseless as to doubt concerning the eternal being of the Son? For when has one seen light without effulgence?" [ATHANASIUS, Against Arius, Orations, 2]. "The sun is never seen without effulgence, nor the Father without the Son" [THEOPHYLACT]. It is because He is the brightness, &c., and because He upholds, &c., that He sat down on the right hand, &c. It was a return to His divine glory ( John 6:62 , 17:5 ; compare Wisdom 7:25,26, where similar things are said of wisdom).
express image--"impress." But veiled in the flesh.
of his person
| ||The Sun of God in glory beams |
Too bright for us to scan;
But we can face the light that streams
For the mild Son of man. ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 )
"of His substantial essence"; "hypostasis.
" upholding all things
universe." Compare Colossians 1:15 Colossians 1:17 Colossians 1:20
, which enumerates the three facts in the same order as here. by the word
--Therefore the Son of God is a Person; for He has the word [BENGEL]. His
word is God's
word ( Hebrews 11:3
). of his power
--"The word" is the utterance which comes from His (the Son's) power, and gives expression to it. by himself
--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. purged
"made purification of
. . . sins," namely, in His atonement, which graciously covers the guilt of sin. "Our" is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Sin was the great uncleanness
in God's sight, of which He has effected the purgation by His sacrifice [ALFORD]. Our nature, as guilt-laden, could not, without our great High Priest's blood of atonement sprinkling the heavenly mercy seat, come into immediate contact with God. EBRARD says, "The mediation between man and God, who was present in the Most Holy Place, was revealed in three forms: (1) In sacrifices (typical propitiations for guilt); (2) In the priesthood (the agents of those sacrifices); (3) In the Levitical laws of purity (Levitical purity being attained by sacrifice positively, by avoidance of Levitical pollution negatively, the people being thus enabled to come into the presence of God without dying, Deuteronomy 5:26
)" ( Leviticus 16:1-34
). sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high
--fulfilling Psalms 110:1
. This sitting of the Son at God's fight hand was by the act of the Father ( Hebrews 8:1
, Ephesians 1:20
); it is never used of His pre-existing state co-equal with the Father, but always of His exalted state as Son of man after His sufferings, and as Mediator for man in the presence of God ( Romans 8:34
): a relation towards God and us about to come to an end when its object has been accomplished ( 1 Corinthians 15:28
4. Being made . . . better--by His exaltation by the Father ( Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:13 ):in contrast to His being "made lower than the angels" ( Hebrews 2:9 ). "Better," that is, superior to. As "being" ( Hebrews 1:3 ) expresses His essential being so "being made" ( Hebrews 7:26 ) marks what He became in His assumed manhood ( Philippians 2:6-9 ). Paul shows that His humbled form (at which the Jews might stumble) is no objection to His divine Messiahship. As the law was given by the ministration of angels and Moses, it was inferior to the Gospel given by the divine Son, who both is ( Hebrews 1:4-14 ) as God, and has been made, as the exalted Son of man ( Hebrews 2:5-18 ), much better than the angels. The manifestations of God by angels (and even by the angel of the covenant) at different times in the Old Testament, did not bring man and God into personal union, as the manifestation of God in human flesh does.
by inheritance obtained--He always had the thing itself, namely, Sonship; but He "obtained by inheritance," according to the promise of the Father, the name "Son," whereby He is made known to men and angels. He is "the Son of God" is a sense far exalted above that in which angels are called "sons of God" ( Job 1:6 , 38:7 ). "The fulness of the glory of the peculiar name "the Son of God," is unattainable by human speech or thought. All appellations are but fragments of its glory beams united in it as in a central sun, Revelation 19:12 . A name that no than knew but He Himself."
5. For--substantiating His having "obtained a more excellent name than the angels."
unto which--A frequent argument in this Epistle is derived from the silence of Scripture ( Hebrews 1:13 , Hebrews 2:16 , Hebrews 7:3 Hebrews 7:14 ) [BENGEL].
this day have I begotten thee--( Psalms 2:7 ). Fulfilled at the resurrection of Jesus, whereby the Father "declared," that is, made manifest His divine Sonship, heretofore veiled by His humiliation ( Acts 13:33 , Romans 1:4 ). Christ has a fourfold right to the title "Son of God"; (1) By generation, as begotten of God; (2) By commission, as sent by God; (3) By resurrection, as "the first-begotten of the dead" (compare Luke 20:36 , Romans 1:4 , Revelation 1:5 ); (4) By actual possession, as heir of all [BISHOP PEARSON]. The Psalm here quoted applied primarily in a less full sense to Solomon, of whom God promised by Nathan to David. "I will be his father and he shall be my son." But as the whole theocracy was of Messianic import, the triumph of David over Hadadezer and neighboring kings ( 2 Samuel 8:1-18 , Psalms 2:2 Psalms 2:3 Psalms 2:9-12 ) is a type of God's ultimately subduing all enemies under His Son. whom He sets (Hebrew, "anointed," Psalms 2:6 ) on His "holy hill of Zion," as King of the Jews and of the whole earth. the antitype to Solomon, son of David. The "I" in Greek is emphatic; I the Everlasting Father have begotten Thee this day, that is, on this day, the day of Thy being manifested as My Son, "the first-begotten of the dead" ( Colossians 1:18 , Revelation 1:5 ). when Thou hast ransomed and opened heaven to Thy people. He had been always Son, but now first was manifested as such in His once humbled, now exalted manhood united to His Godhead. ALFORD refers "this day" to the eternal generation of the Son: the day in which the Son was begotten by the Father is an everlasting to-day: there never was a yesterday or past time to Him, nor a to-morrow or future time: "Nothing there is to come, and nothing past, but an eternal NOW doth ever last" ( Proverbs 30:4 , John 10:30 John 10:38 , 16:28 , 17:8 ). The communication of the divine essence in its fulness, involves eternal generation; for the divine essence has no beginning. But the context refers to a definite point of time, namely, that of His having entered on the inheritance ( Hebrews 1:4 ). The "bringing the first-begotten into the world" ( Hebrews 1:6 ), is not subsequent, as ALFORD thinks, to Hebrews 1:5 , but anterior to it (compare Acts 2:30-35 ).
6. And--Greek, "But." Not only this proves His superiority, BUT a more decisive proof is Psalms 97:7 , which shows that not only at His resurrection, but also in prospect of His being brought into the world (compare Hebrews 9:11 , 10:5 ) as man, in His incarnation, nativity ( Luke 2:9-14 ), temptation ( Matthew 4:10 Matthew 4:11 ), resurrection ( Matthew 28:2 ), and future second advent in glory. angels were designed by God to be subject to Him. Compare 1 Timothy 3:16 , "seen of angels"; God manifesting Messiah as one to be gazed at with adoring love by heavenly intelligences ( Ephesians 3:10 , 2 Thessalonians 1:9 2 Thessalonians 1:10 , 1 Peter 3:22 ). The fullest realization of His Lordship shall be at His second coming ( Psalms 97:7 , 1 Corinthians 15:24 1 Corinthians 15:25 , Philippians 2:9 ). "Worship Him all ye gods" ("gods," that is, exalted beings, as angels), refers to God; but it was universally admitted among the Hebrews that God would dwell, in a peculiar sense, in Messiah (so as to be in the Talmud phrase, "capable of being pointed to with the finger"); and so what was said of God was true of, and to be fulfilled in, Messiah. KIMCHI says that the ninety-third through the hundred first Psalms contain in them the mystery of Messiah. God ruled the theocracy in and through Him.
the world--subject to Christ ( Hebrews 2:5 ). As "the first-begotten" He has the rights of primogeniture ( Romans 8:29 ); Colossians 1:15 Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:18 ). In Deuteronomy 32:43 , the Septuagint has, "Let all the angels of God worship Him," words not now found in the Hebrew. This passage of the Septuagint may have been in Paul's mind as to the form, but the substance is taken from Psalms 97:7 . The type David, in the Psalms 89:27 (quoted in Hebrews 1:5 ), is called "God's first-born, higher than the kings of the earth"; so the antitypical first-begotten, the son of David, is to be worshipped by all inferior lords, such as angels ("gods," Psalms 97:7 ); for He is "King of kings and Lord of lords" ( Revelation 19:16 ). In the Greek, "again" is transposed; but this does not oblige us, as ALFORD thinks, to translate, "when He again shall have introduced," &c. namely, at Christ's second coming; for there is no previous mention of a first bringing in; and "again" is often used in quotations, not to be joined with the verb, but parenthetically ("that I may again quote Scripture"). English Version is correct (compare Matthew 5:33 ; Greek, John 12:39 ).
7. of--The Greek is rather, "In reference TO the angels."
spirits--or "winds": Who employeth His angels as the winds, His ministers as the lightnings; or, He maketh His angelic ministers the directing powers of winds and flames, when these latter are required to perform His will. "Commissions them to assume the agency or form of flames for His purposes" [ALFORD]. English Version, "maketh His angels spirits," means, He maketh them of a subtle, incorporeal nature, swift as the wind. So Psalms 18:10 , "a cherub . . . the wings of the wind." Hebrews 1:14 , "ministering spirits," favors English Version here. As "spirits" implies the wind-like velocity and subtle nature of the cherubim, so "flame of fire" expresses the burning devotion and intense all-consuming zeal of the adoring seraphim (meaning "burning), Isaiah 6:1 . The translation, "maketh winds His messengers, and a flame of fire His ministers (!)," is plainly wrong. In the Psalms 104:3 Psalms 104:4 , the subject in each clause comes first, and the attribute predicated of it second; so the Greek article here marks "angels" and "ministers" as the subjects, and "winds" and "flame of fire," predicates, Schemoth Rabba says, "God is called God of Zebaoth (the heavenly hosts), because He does what He pleases with His angels. When He pleases, He makes them to sit ( Judges 6:11 ); at other times to stand ( Isaiah 6:2 ); at times to resemble women ( Zechariah 5:9 ); at other times to resemble men ( Genesis 18:2 ); at times He makes them 'spirits'; at times, fire." "Maketh" implies that, however exalted, they are but creatures, whereas the Son is the Creator ( Hebrews 1:10 ):not begotten from everlasting, nor to be worshipped, as the Son ( Revelation 14:7 , Revelation 22:8 Revelation 22:9 ).
8. O God--the Greek has the article to mark emphasis ( Psalms 45:6 Psalms 45:7 ).
for ever . . . righteousness--Everlasting duration and righteousness go together ( Psalms 45:2 , 89:14 ).
a sceptre of righteousness--literally, "a rod of rectitude," or "straightforwardness." The oldest manuscripts prefix "and" (compare Esther 4:11 ).
9. iniquity--"unnrighteousness." Some oldest manuscripts read, "lawlessness."
therefore--because God loves righteousness and hates iniquity.
God . . . thy God--JEROME, AUGUSTINE, and others translate Psalms 45:7 , "O God, Thy God, hath anointed thee," whereby Christ is addressed as God. This is probably the true translation of the Hebrew there, and also of the Greek of Hebrews here; for it is likely the Son is addressed, "O God," as in Hebrews 1:8 . The anointing here meant is not that at His baptism, when He solemnly entered on His ministry for us; but that with the "oil of gladness," or "exulting joy" (which denotes a triumph, and follows as the consequence of His manifested love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity), wherewith, after His triumphant completion of His work, He has been anointed by the Father above His fellows (not only above us, His fellow men, the adopted members of God's family. whom "He is not ashamed to call His brethren," but above the angels, fellow partakers in part with Him, though infinitely His inferiors, in the glories, holiness, and joys of heaven; "sons of God," and angel "messengers," though subordinate to the divine Angel--"Messenger of the covenant"). Thus He is antitype to Solomon, "chosen of all David's many sons to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel," even as His father David was chosen before all the house of his father's sons. The image is drawn from the custom of anointing guests at feasts ( Psalms 23:5 ); or rather of anointing kings: not until His ascension did He assume the kingdom as Son of man. A fuller accomplishment is yet to be, when He shall be VISIBLY the anointed King over the whole earth (set by the Father) on His holy hill of Zion, Psalms 2:6 Psalms 2:8 . So David, His type, was first anointed at Bethlehem ( 1 Samuel 16:13 , Psalms 89:20 ); and yet again at Hebron, first over Judah ( 2 Samuel 2:4 ), then over all Israel ( 2 Samuel 5:3 ); not till the death of Saul did he enter on his actual kingdom; as it was not till after Christ's death that the Father set Him at His right hand far above all principalities ( Ephesians 1:20 Ephesians 1:21 ). The forty-fifth Psalm in its first meaning was addressed to Solomon; but the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to use language which in its fulness can only apply to the antitypical Solomon, the true Royal Head of the theocracy.
10. And--In another passage ( Psalms 102:25-27 ) He says.
in the beginning--English Version, Psalms 102:25 , "of old": Hebrew, "before," "aforetime." The Septuagint, "in the beginning" (as in Genesis 1:1 ) answers by contrast to the end implied in "They shall perish," &c. The Greek order here (not in the Septuagint) is, "Thou in the beginning, O Lord," which throws the "Lord" into emphasis. "Christ is preached even in passages where many might contend that the Father was principally intended" [BENGEL].
laid the foundation of--"firmly founded" is included in the idea of the Greek.
heavens--plural: not merely one, but manifold, and including various orders of heavenly intelligences ( Ephesians 4:10 ).
works of thine hands--the heavens, as a woven veil or curtain spread out.
11. They--The earth and the heavens in their present state and form "shall perish" ( Hebrews 12:26 Hebrews 12:27 , 2 Peter 3:13 ). "Perish" does not mean annihilation; just as it did not mean so in the case of "the world that being overflowed with water, perished" under Noah ( 2 Peter 3:6 ). The covenant of the possession of the earth was renewed with Noah and his seed on the renovated earth. So it shall be after the perishing by fire ( 2 Peter 3:12 2 Peter 3:13 ).
remainest--through (so the Greek) all changes.
as . . . a garment--( Isaiah 51:6 ).
12. vesture--Greek, "an enwrapping cloak."
fold them up--So the Septuagint, Psalms 102:26 ; but the Hebrew, "change them." The Spirit, by Paul, treats the Hebrew of the Old Testament, with independence of handling, presenting the divine truth in various aspects; sometimes as here sanctioning the Septuagint (compare Isaiah 34:4 , Revelation 6:14 ); sometimes the Hebrew; sometimes varying from both.
changed--as one lays aside a garment to put on another.
thou art the same--( Isaiah 46:4 , Malachi 3:6 ). The same in nature, therefore in covenant faithfulness to Thy people.
shall not fail--Hebrew, "shall not end." Israel, in the Babylonian captivity, in the hundred second Psalm, casts her hopes of deliverance on Messiah, the unchanging covenant God of Israel.
13. Quotation from Psalms 110:1 . The image is taken from the custom of conquerors putting the feet on the necks of the conquered ( Joshua 10:24 Joshua 10:25 ).
14. ministering spirits--referring to Hebrews 1:7 , "spirits . . . ministers." They are incorporeal spirits, as God is, but ministering to Him as inferiors.
sent forth--present participle: "being sent forth" continually, as their regular service in all ages.
to minister--Greek, "unto (that is, 'for') ministry."
for them--Greek, "on account of the." Angels are sent forth on ministrations to God and Christ, not primarily to men, though for the good of "those who are about to inherit salvation" (so the Greek): the elect, who believe, or shall believe, for whom all things, angels included, work together for good ( Romans 8:28 ). Angels' ministrations are not properly rendered to men, since the latter have no power of commanding them, though their ministrations to God are often directed to the good of men. So the superiority of the Son of God to angels is shown. They "all," how ever various their ranks, "minister"; He is ministered to. They "stand" ( Luke 1:19 ) before God, or are "sent forth" to execute the divine commands on behalf of them whom He pleases to save; He "sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high" ( Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:13 ). He rules; they serve.