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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 2: Angels, Spirits and Men
In the first six verses of his epistle to the Hebrews Paul of Tarsus extolled Yahshua Christ as the ultimate prophet and messenger of Yahweh God, and asserted that all of the messengers, or angels, of God must worship Him. But making this assertion, Paul quoted from Deuteronomy chapter 32, and doing so he also indirectly asserted that Yahshua Christ is God, because the statement which Paul cited from Deuteronomy 32 refers directly to God. We presented a brief examination of that chapter of Deuteronomy, which revealed that it contains an early outline of the plan which Yahweh had for the children of Israel: that they would be scattered on account of their sins, and then they would ultimately be offered salvation and reconciliation as their God takes vengeance on His enemies. So making this association here in Hebrews, Paul equates the Son, Yahshua Christ, as being one and the same with Yahweh, that God of war and vengeance described by Moses, as the Word of God also says in that same chapter of Deuteronomy, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me”. If there is no other God with Him, then Yahshua Christ must be Him.
There are frequently similar statements in Isaiah which are also related to the salvation of the children of Israel, such as in Isaiah chapter 45 where we read “21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” In relation to those same opening verses of Hebrews we had already pointed out another similar statement which is directly connected with the Gospel of Christ, from Isaiah chapter 52 where the Word of Yahweh says “6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.” Then we compared that passage to the words of Christ in the Gospel where the apostles asked to see God the Father, and Christ replied that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”.
So we see that here in Hebrews, Paul of Tarsus referred to Yahshua Christ and said “when He”, meaning God Himself, “introduces the First Born into the inhabited world”, meaning Christ, “He says: ‘and all Messengers of Yahweh must worship Him.’” And doing so Paul must have been referring to Deuteronomy chapter 32, as there is no place in Scripture such as that where that statement was made, except for the 97th Psalm. But the 97th Psalm is actually describing many of the same hopes expressed in Deuteronomy chapter 32, in the expected vengeance of God on His enemies and of the vanity of idolatry because only Yahweh is God.
In chapter 10 of his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul spoke of the wanderings of Israel with Moses and said that they “4... did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” Earlier in that same chapter of Deuteronomy we read these words ascribed to Moses: “2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Then later in Deuteronomy chapter 32, there are further references to that same Rock, where Moses spoke of the enemies of God and it says in reference to the children of Israel: “30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? 31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” So to Paul of Tarsus, Yahshua Christ was the Rock of Deuteronomy chapter 32, and therefore Yahshua Christ must be Yahweh God incarnate.
So in reference to verse 6 of Hebrews chapter 1, we maintain that Paul is making this assertion: that where Yahweh in Deuteronomy chapter 32 outlined His plan for the children of Israel in the song of Moses, He was indeed introducing the First Born into the inhabitable world, as that is the beginning of the revelation of His plan to come into the world Himself in order that He may save His people.
Thus far Paul has magnified the Son, equated Him to God Himself, and explained that the Son is greater than the angels, or Messengers. Here, as we hope to make evident, Paul seems to be using the word for Messengers, or Angels, in several ways. First, there are the heavenly Messengers who had announced things to men in the Old Testament, and sometimes in the Gospel. Then, there are the prophets of old who had announced the will of God to men in the past, and in a sense they are also Messengers, so they cannot be discounted. Therefore in the opening of this epistle, Paul had also attested that the Son is now the vessel through which God speaks to man.
Now Paul turns to discuss the Messengers once again. However Paul had already repeated the Scripture which insists that all of the Messengers of God must worship the Son. In that, he includes both the heavenly Messengers, which shall become evident later in chapter 2 of this epistle, and the Messengers of the Son Himself, beginning with the apostles of Christ, which are also referenced here. Since the time of the Revelation of Christ, there are no heavenly angels communicating with man, because the Son chose to employ earthly Messengers, and we hope that will also become immediately evident here.
So the epistle to the Hebrews is an epistle explaining several transitions, from the Prophets to the Son, from the propitiation which is in the Rituals to the propitiation which is in Christ, and from the heavenly messengers to the messengers of the Gospel, and that is explained by the very next verse:
7 And then to the Messengers He says: “He is making His Messengers Spirits, and His servants a flame of fire.”
The Codex Claromontanus [D] reads the verse to say: “And then to His Messengers He says: ‘He is making His Messengers a spirit, and His servants a flame of fire.’” We believe that the innovation destroys Paul’s intended meaning. Rather, “He is making His Messengers Spirits, and His servants a flame of fire.”
Here Paul quotes from Psalm 104:4, where in a list of the wondrous acts of Yahweh it says “4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire...” Likewise, the word for servants here in this verse of Hebrews may have been read as ministers. An examination of the Psalm reveals that it contains many references to elements of the Creation of God which are apparently allegories for people. We will not discuss them all here, but we shall assert that in this particular verse, we have a Hebrew parallelism, where the descriptions of angels as spirits and of ministers as a flame of fire refer to the same entities.
There certainly seems to be a distinction being made made here. There are the heavenly Messengers, or Angels, which are apparently what Paul meant where he wrote “And then to the Messengers He says”, and there are “His Messengers”, meaning the Messengers of the First Born who is mentioned in verse 6, which are ostensibly the apostles and bearers of the Gospel of Christ. So the references to angels are not necessarily references to angels in heaven, as angels can also be men. The first group of Messengers are the messengers of God, which seems to be a reference to the heavenly angels who administered the Old Covenant, and later ministered to Christ on earth. But the second group seems to be a reference to the messengers of Christ on earth, the men whom He had chosen to bear the Gospel of the New Covenant.
There is similar language to the verse from Psalm 104 in the closing verses of Psalm 103: “17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.” Here the Psalm refers to several entities which are actually all the same but which are being described in different ways: those who fear God, who keep His covenant and His commandments, His angels that do his commandments, his hosts who are ministers of His, and His works in all places are all Hebrew parallelisms. They are all descriptive statements referring to the same entities, to those who follow the will of their God regardless of whether they are in heaven or on earth.
As Yahweh said in Isaiah chapter 42, “19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant?” In all cases, the messenger and the servant and he that is perfect [being perfected by God] are representative of the children of Israel, which is quite clear from the context of the chapter. But the word messenger in Isaiah 42:19 is the same word translated as angel in Psalms 103 and 104 and many other passages of Scripture. So we cannot imagine that every reference to an angel, or a messenger, is to a heavenly messenger.
The apostle John used the term spirit of living men in a very similar way where he wrote in chapter 4 of his first epistle: “2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” John was referring to embodied spirits, the spirits of men, and not to spirits which were disembodied or in heaven.
Likewise here Paul refers to embodied spirits of men who are messengers of Christ, and not merely to angels in heaven, although in some of his statements he is referring to angels in heaven. Since the ascension of the Christ described in Acts chapter 1, it is not evident that any heavenly angel has announced the Gospel of Christ on earth, while history is replete with earthly angels announcing the risen Christ in heaven. And while not all angels are men, many angels are indeed men, as many men have been angels.
The conclusion here is that Paul is explaining that there are heavenly angels to whom the Christ was announced. These were often, but not always, perceived as spirits in the accounts of the Old Testament, although sometimes they also had human forms. These are addressed here where it says “... then to the Messengers He says...”
Then there are “His messengers”, the messengers of the First Born come into the world. These are from of the children of Israel who are the messengers of Christ and who shall be made by Yahweh into spirits, and into flames of fire. Thusly, for example, it speaks of the forthcoming vengeance of God in Obadiah verse 18 and it says “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them...” A similar judgment was made in ancient times against the Assyrians, and that judgement was carried out in the people of the Scythians [descendants of the Israelites] who destroyed Assyria. Prophesying that historical event, the prophet Isaiah had written [Isaiah 10:17]: “17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day....” So when the children of Israel do the will of their God, He makes them into spirits and flames of fire. This is an allegory which is quite the opposite of the Old Testament experience, where angels were spirits or flames of fire, sometimes appearing also as men.
And if we examine the full meaning of the Scripture which Paul has cited here in relation to Christ, we see that Paul is indirectly telling the Hebrews that the righteousness and vengeance of God are found in Yahshua Christ, and that those who turn to Christ and announce His Gospel will ultimately be the instruments of God’s vengeance and of God’s righteousness in the earth.
Where Paul says that Yahweh makes His messengers spirits, Christ Himself explains how this works in John chapter 14, where He says: “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Then we read a little further on in that chapter that “21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
One manifestation of this spirit from God abiding with man, which gave men the ability to do things that they otherwise could not do on their own, was the spirit of Pentecost. The spirit of Pentecost did not change the identities or the personalities of the men who received it, but rather it endowed them with a certain deposit of the power of God so as to change their abilities. All of the children of Israel, and of Adam, are born with a spirit which is from God. This is the spirit which God forms within man, which is referred to in Zechariah chapter 12. This is the spirit which Paul informs us is sown a natural body, but is raised a spiritual body, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. The eternal spirit within man is therefore an element of the Adamic creation, as it says in the Wisdom of Solomon, that “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” But we see from John 14 that Yahweh God adds from His spirit to the spirits of those men who accept Him, and that is what happened at the first Pentecost and in the conversions of lost Israelites in the apostolic age.
There are many instances in the Old Testament where things occurred which were exactly similar to the experiences of the apostles that were made possible by the spirit of Pentecost, but which happened for different reasons. One place is in Judges chapter 3 where we read “9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. 10 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.” Likewise in Judges chapter 6 it says in part “34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet...” and again in Judges chapter 11 it says “29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah...” and Othniel, Gideon and Jephthah were chosen and endowed with the ability to deliver Israel from their enemies at various times. These men were already accounted as the children of God (Deuteronomy 14:1). They did not undergo some mystical process to become God’s children, and that popular modern conception which is held by the denominational Christians is not found in Scripture. When Elisha the prophet received double the spirit which Elijah had, Elijah was still Elijah, and Elisha was still Elisha. However they were both already prophets and children of God. When men who are the children of God are ready to serve God, then He may choose to endow them with a portion of His spirit which enables them to fulfill the mission which He wants them to accomplish.
As it is explained by Christ in John chapter 14, when man agrees with God, God sends a portion of His spirit to dwell with man. Paul makes references to this agreement of the spirit of God within man to the Spirit of God Himself, for instance where he wrote in Romans chapter 8 and said “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”, and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, “12 Now we do not receive the spirit of the Society, but that spirit from Yahweh, in which case we should know the things granted to us by Yahweh; 13 which also we speak of, not instructed in words of human wisdom, but instructed in of the Spirit, by the spiritual compounding with the spiritual.” And Paul also explains that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, yet the spiritual man does indeed have the capacity to understand those things. So, for instance, Paul declares that the law is spiritual, in Romans chapter 7, and then he explains that by the spirit a man can keep it, in Romans chapter 8. So it is not that men may receive a spirit from God if they keep the law, or if they undergo any ritual. But rather, if men have the spirit of God in the first place, if they are born from above, then they can choose to keep the law, and then God in turn chooses to deposit His Spirit with them, alongside their own. That is what was transpiring with the spirit of Pentecost when the men who received it had already decided to turn to Christ and keep His commandments.
Men do not receive the spirit of God with some mystical transformation. Rather, the spirit they are born with is from God, if indeed they are children of God. When those men turn to obedience in Christ, God dwells with them and works through them. So God makes His messengers spirits, meaning that He adds the power of His Spirit to their spirits so that they may accomplish the tasks which He appoints of them, and those same messengers, who are His servants, become a “flame of fire”.
Men who are born of the world, or as Christ also told them, from beneath, are anti-Christ spirits and cannot keep the law. So God will never dwell in them. The apostle John spoke of the ability of Christians to overcome them, but John did not mention any attempt to convert them. From 1 John chapter 4: “4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
Paul wrote concerning the messengers of Christ, and immediately turns again to Christ Himself:
8 But in reference to the Son: “Your throne, O Yahweh, is for eternity.” And: “a scepter of rectitude is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has verse 8 to read only “Your throne, O Yahweh, is for eternity, and the scepter of its Kingdom”. The third century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus (B) follow the text except for a minor variation at the end of the verse, “… is the scepter of its Kingdom.” The text follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Claromontanus (D). The Majority Text follows the text except that it wants the word for “and”.
We have interpreted the Greek preposition πρός (Strong’s # 4314) as “in reference to” here. With the Accusative case, among other things it is said by Liddell & Scott to mean to or towards, in reference to, or relation to, in respect of, touching, etc. There are easier ways to simply say “unto the Son”, and the use of the preposition indicates that a stronger meaning was intended.
While Paul seems to have distinguished the heavenly messengers from the Messengers of Christ in verses 6 and 7, here he is also endeavoring to explain that Christ Himself is of a different nature and of a different status than the angels, or heavenly Messengers of the Scriptures. While the angels were either beings sent from God, bodily or spiritual, or transient manifestations of God, the Son is God and His status is eternal even though, as Paul shall write later, He was initially made of a lower status than those angels. In the meantime, Paul continues to write in reference to the Son:
9 You have loved righteousness, and have hated lawlessness [א and A have “unrighteousness”; the text follows P46, B, D, and the MT]. For this reason Yahweh Your God has anointed You with an oil of exultation beyond Your companions.”
Here in verses 8 and 9 Paul quotes Psalm 45:6-7 in relation to Christ. The King James Version, which very closely agrees with the Greek of the Septuagint, reads the passage thus: “6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness [the Septuagint has ‘lawlessness’]: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” The Greek of the New Testament manuscripts which we have followed in this passage is also almost identical to that found in the Septuagint.
And here we have both a statement, in our translation, and a dilemma into which we have purposely placed ourselves. Here, admittedly, in the Masoretic text we have the Hebrew word elohim, a plural of majesty, three times where God appears in the King James Version, and θεός in the Septuagint. On many occasions, translating the Christogenea New Testament, we purposely wrote Yahweh for θεός, or God. We are not apologizing for that, because Yahweh is God, and we have explained ourselves at length on other occasions. So we believe that all those who criticize us for having done that are actually themselves questioning whether Yahweh is God, and it is really they who are in a dilemma. When we made our translation, our methods were calculated. Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, is also both the Father and the Christ, who is the God of the New Testament, and that is a purposeful statement on our part.
So we may have rendered verses 8 and 9 to read: “8 But in reference to the Son: ‘Your throne, O God, is for eternity.’ And: ‘a scepter of rectitude is the scepter of Your Kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness, and have hated lawlessness. For this reason God, Your God has anointed You with an oil of exultation beyond Your companions.’”
The 45th Psalm which Paul is citing here is apparently an allegory. On the surface, it portrays King David extolling his daughter. But the underlying meaning seems to be a portrayal of the relationship of love between Yahweh and Jerusalem as His daughter, as seen through the eyes of David. David is speaking to God in the Psalm, so the throne is not the earthly throne in Jerusalem. But God is also the subject of the anointing, as all of the pronouns and verb forms show. So this is indeed a Messianic prophecy referring to Christ.
Paul quotes from Psalm 45:6-7, a song of David addressing Yahweh his God, and says that these words were spoken “unto the Son”, as the King James Version has it. So in any event, by informing us that these verses of the Psalm were written in reference to the Son, or even simply “unto the Son”, as the King James Version has it, Paul of Tarsus is once again asserting that Jesus Christ is God, that Father and Son are indeed One, and as Christ Himself had said, according to the King James translation of Mark chapter 12, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”. Even if Yahweh God had given it to David to write these words, they nevertheless refer to Christ, and we see that Christ, occupying the throne of God for eternity, is indeed one and the same with God.
As for the fellows, or companions of Christ, their identity is made evident in chapter 2, where Paul says that “He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham, from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren”.
In verse 10 which follows, Paul continues to speak concerning the Son, where he attributes to Him the things attributed to Yahweh God in the Old Testament:
10 And: “You, in the beginning, Yahweh, have laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. 11 They shall perish, yet You will remain, and they will all grow old as a garment, 12 and just as a cloak You will roll them [א and D have “change them”], as a garment [the MT wants “as a garment”; the text follows P 46, א, A, B, and D with a minor variation], and they will be changed, but You are the same and Your years will not fail.”
That time means nothing to God proves the futility of the efforts given by all those who oppose Him. Here in verses 10 through 12 Paul quotes from Psalm 102:25-27, and he is still speaking in reference to Christ. Once again, the Greek of the New Testament is nearly identical to the Greek of the Septuagint. The Psalm is a prayer for the afflicted, and in an earlier passage it says “8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.” The reference to “they shall perish” in verse 11 is a reference to those same enemies of verse 8 of the Psalm. Paul writes informing his readers that these things relate to Christ, and therefore in Christ we continue to find a promise of deliverance from the enemies of God and of preservation to His people Israel. So the very next verse of the Psalm reads: “28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.” The proof that Paul’s interpretation of the verses which he cites retains the entire context of the original Psalm is in the next verse quoted by Paul here, but which is from yet another Psalm:
13 Now has He ever said to any of the Messengers: “Sit at My right hand, until when I would set Your enemies as a footstool for Your feet”?
These things only being promised to Christ, not even the messengers of God can overcome their enemies without Him. Here once again Paul asserts that Christ is exalted above and distinguished from the heavenly Messengers of the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul, still speaking in reference to Christ, quotes from Psalm 110, a Psalm of David, and the first verse reads: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This is the very passage over which Christ challenged His adversaries, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 20: “41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son? 42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?”
In Luke chapter 20 where it says “The LORD said unto my Lord”, both of the words from which lord is translated are from the Greek word κύριος, which is commonly lord in the New Testament, and so it is in the Septuagint as well. However in the original Hebrew of the Psalm, the first occurrence of lord is the Tetragrammaton, Yahweh, and the second is from the Hebrew word adon (Strong’s # 113), which is a noun meaning a lord or a master. So the Hebrew should say “Yahweh said unto my master”. It is evident in Luke that Christ as well as His adversaries understood that the passage was in reference to the Messiah as David’s master, as Paul also informs us here. This passage further demonstrates that Christ is also a manifestation of God, as David would not be compelled to call his son his master, unless his son were his superior. That is the paradox Christ presented to His adversaries. Later, Christ also attests in Revelation chapter 22 that “I am the root and the offspring of David...” So He must have been the Creator of the race as well as one of its members.
And ostensibly referring to the messengers, Paul continues:
14 Are they not all Spirits of service, being sent forth for a ministry for the sake of those being about to inherit salvation?
We had seen earlier in this chapter that the true Messengers of God worship Christ, and if they do not worship Christ, they are not Messengers of God. This is true of both the heavenly Messengers, whom we would expect to worship Christ, and earthly Messengers as well. However Paul cites this verse to demonstrate to the Hebrews that this man Yahshua Christ is exalted above the heavenly Messengers according to the Scriptures. Here we also see that the true Messengers of God work as servants for the sake of the children of Israel. That was true in the Old Testament Scriptures, and it remains true under the New Covenant. If they are not found doing this, then once again they are not truly Messengers of God. The promises of salvation are exclusively for the children of Israel, so the ministry of service to God should be for their benefit only.
With this we shall commence with Hebrews chapter 2:
1 For this reason it is necessary for us to give more abundant attention to those things heard, that at no time would we drift off.
On account of all of the testimony of Christ which is found in the Old Testament and which is cited by Paul here, the Hebrews to whom Paul writes are advised that they should pay all the more attention to the message of the Gospel of Christ. The Greek word for drift off in this verse is παραρρυέω, in Classical Greek spelled παραρρέω (Strong’s # 3901), which is to flow beside or past, to slip out or off, etc., according to Liddell & Scott. So just as Paul had admonished the other Christian assemblies that they should be alert as to what was transpiring in relation to their condition and their expectation of salvation, here he admonished the Hebrews likewise. In this manner he had said to the Thessalonians: “4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” Thus he continues in the next verse:
2 If the word spoken was confirmed by messengers, and every transgression and disobedience receives a legitimate recompense, 3 how shall we escape, neglecting so great a salvation?
Both the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) and the King James Version extend the interrogative through to the end of 2:4, although here it ends at the end of this first clause of verse 3. Other manuscript editors (i.e. Berry and Stephanus) support our reading.
Here we see another confirmation of our interpretation of Paul’s use of the term for messenger in the previous verses. The spoken word Paul is referring to are the Old Testament promises of a Messiah that he had just cited throughout chapter 1, and which were being confirmed by the apostles who were bearing the Gospel of Christ, as the warning that these Hebrews may neglect “so great a salvation” fully indicates. Therefore Paul distinguishes the heavenly Messengers from the Messengers of the Gospel, who are the apostles of Christ, and the Hebrews to whom he writes had encountered many other apostles besides Paul. As Paul shall explain later in this epistle, where “every transgression and disobedience receives a legitimate recompense”, without Christ no transgression has forgiveness, since there is no more propitiation for sin under the law. Understanding that, the consequences of neglecting this salvation are certainly magnified.
In these respects, we continue to see that Paul’s epistle, which was ostensibly written to Hebrews who were already familiar with the Gospel, is also in many aspects a more general epistle written for a Hebrew audience which was designed to explain the impact and meaning of the Gospel from a Hebrew perspective. Next, Paul seems to assert that the Old Testament Scriptures were an announcement of the Gospel:
Which having been received at the beginning, being spoken through the Prince, by those hearing is confirmed to us, 4 Yahweh joining in testimony with both signs and wonders and various works of power, and apportionments of Holy Spirit in accordance with His will [D has “in accordance with Yahweh”].
There is a lot being said in a few words here, and a powerful argument for those reading this epistle to continue reading it and to consider what it says. Paul is attesting that the word spoken was received at the beginning, which refers to the words of the Old Testament Scriptures in reference to Christ which he has thus far followed from Deuteronomy through the Psalms. Then Paul attests that these were also the things spoken of by Christ in His earthly ministry, as the Gospel of Christ is indeed the confirmation of the Old Testament promises to Israel. Then Paul attests here that there is confirmation for those bearing the Gospel with the acceptance of the message by those who have already turned to Christ, who are “those hearing”. Finally, Paul attests that the miracles of the apostolic age granted with the Spirit of Pentecost are a confirmation from God Himself of all of these other things which he has attested. So in this manner Paul endeavors to convince the Hebrews that Christ is the fulfillment of their Old Testament faith.
5 For He did not subject to messengers that coming inhabitable world of which we speak.
As it was in verse 6 of chapter 1, the phrase “inhabitable world” is from the Greek word οἰκουμένη (Strong’s # 3625), referring to the dwelling-place of the Adamic race, or the Greco-Roman world of the time of Christ.
Here Paul seems to be alluding to the fact that the ancient Hebrews perceived the kingdoms of this world to be ruled over by angels, fallen or otherwise, which is evident in the accounts of the conquests of ancient Israel over kingdoms controlled by the Rephaim, and also in places such as Daniel chapter 10. It is also evident in other places in Hebrew apocryphal literature, such as in references to Gilgamesh found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, that fallen angels ruled over the kingdoms of antiquity. The “coming inhabitable world” of which Christians speak is the Kingdom of Heaven, and God has subjected it to Himself alone, through Yahshua Christ, which is the message Paul has conveyed by citing the Psalms in reference to the scepter and throne of God in the preceding verses. So once again, Paul endeavors to show that according to the Scriptures, Christ is superior to all of the former angels of God. This argument is made to demonstrate that the Gospel is superior both to Moses and the prophets, and a fulfillment of Moses and the prophets.
6 Rather one has testified, saying somewhere:
Referring to one in the statement “rather one has testified”, Paul seems to be referring to one of the messengers of the previous statement, and he is, in the form of David the author of the 8th Psalm. So we may count among the Messengers of the Old Testament not only the heavenly angels, but also the men who spoke for God. However where Paul says “saying somewhere”, Paul seems to be uncertain of where this passage was written. That is possible, if Paul is authoring this epistle early in the term of his arrest in Caesareia and has not had an opportunity to search the Scriptures for the citation which he is making. Perhaps the statement is also a reflection of Paul’s humility, where he readily admits that he is not quite certain in which writing of the Scriptures the passage he is referring to is found, while also revealing to us that perhaps he has cited all of these things from memory. To continue the verse:
“What is man, that You would be mindful of Him? Or a Son of man, that You would watch over Him? 7 You have lowered Him some bit beyond the Messengers; in honor and dignity You have crowned Him.
At the end of verse 7, the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D) all have an additional phrase which reads “and appointed Him over the works of Your hands”, for which we may compare Psalm 8:5-6. The text follows the third century papyrus P46, the Codex Vaticanus (B), and the Majority Text.
8 You have subjected all things beneath His feet.”
Here in verses 6 through 8 Paul quotes from Psalms 8:4-6. The Psalm itself refers to the creation of the Adamic Man described in Genesis chapter 1: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” But the Adamic Man had fallen from the purpose which Yahweh intended for him, as it is described in Genesis chapter 3. A thousand years being a day to God, the last 7,500 years have all been a part of the process of correction.
At the same time, Paul is citing this Psalm in relation to both man, and to Yahweh God incarnate as man, as we see below in verse 9. So that is why we capitalized the pronoun in our translation in verse 7, as it refers to Christ as well as to man in general. Paul explains why this verse relates to Christ in the balance of this chapter.
To finish presenting verse 8:
Therefore while He would subject all things to Him, He left nothing unsubjected to Him. But now we do not yet see all things being subjected to Him.
Paul taught these same things in relation to Christ and the Adamic man in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he wrote: “22 Just as in Adam all die, then in that manner in Christ all shall be produced alive. 23 But each in his own order: the first fruit, Christ; then those of the Anointed at His arrival. 24 Then the consummation, when He should hand over the kingdom to Yahweh who is also the Father; when He shall abolish all rule and all license and power. 25 Indeed it is necessary for Him to reign, until He should place all of the enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy abolished is death, 27 therefore ‘all are subjected under His feet.’ Now until it may be said that it is evident that all things have been subjected, (because outside of the subjecting of all things to Himself 28 and until all things are in subjection to Him,) then also the Son Himself will be subjected in the subjecting of all things to Himself, in order that Yahweh may be all things among all.”
Death is the last enemy to be abolished, and throughout these Psalms which Paul cites in relation to Christ, we see that there are many more enemies which must be destroyed before then. However we do see from two of Paul’s letters, that Christ does not yet rule, and that all things are not yet subject to Him. That will not be fulfilled until all of His enemies are destroyed, as it is described in Revelation chapters 18 through 20. Christians proclaim Christ as King, and He is, however the proclamation is made in anticipation of its fulfillment, not because it is already fulfilled. Thusly Paul continues in this same light:
9 Yet we see Yahshua, being made some bit lower than the Messengers, through the suffering of death being crowned with honor and dignity, so that by favor of Yahweh He would taste death on behalf of all. 10 It was suitable to Him, through whom all things are and by whom all things are, bringing many sons to honor, to perfect the Originator of their salvation through sufferings.
Both this verse and the Psalm which Paul cites in reference to man indicate that both David and Paul believed that heavenly angels already existed when man was created, or else man could not have been made somewhat lower than the angels, as the Psalm and Paul’s citation of it both infer. This also helps to prove that Genesis chapter 1 is not a full explanation of the entirety of God’s creation, contrary to the claims of many denominational churches.
The reasons for the Passion of the Christ are several. One most important aspect is found in the relationship between Yahweh and Israel as a nation, where the Husband was compelled to die so that the wife would not suffer the ultimate penalty of the law, which she deserved for her sin. Here Paul conveys another aspect: that Christ could not justly judge mankind unless He experienced life as a man and unless He Himself experienced judgment from the perspective of man.
We have an adage, where we attest that we do not want to be judged by one who has not walked in our shoes. Therefore God having experienced the judgement and life of men, the same cannot be said to Him when He judges mankind.
Furthermore, in another aspect, by His Own words He has become the legitimate chief of all men. Christ being the ultimate servant to His own race by dying so that they may live, becomes the head of all. This He established in Matthew chapter 20 where He said: “26 ... but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Here it must also be noted, that where Paul used the word for many in Hebrews 2:10 where he mentioned the objective of “bringing many sons to honor”, or where Christ attested in Matthew 20 that He came “to give his life a ransom for many”, that does not exclude any. Setting one in contrast to many of a fixed number does not necessarily exclude any of that same number. Many wordsmiths would use such an argument craftily, to deny that all of Israel shall be saved, even in opposition to the Scriptures which tell us explicitly that none of Israel shall be lost.
Paul’s next statement underlines the exclusivity of the promises of God in Christ:
11 For both He sanctifying and those being sanctified are all sprung from one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Paul made a similar profession in Romans chapter 8, where he also spoke concerning the children of Israel, because the Scripture attests that Yahweh only knew and recognized the children of Israel, and he wrote: “29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The phrase ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες, which here in verse 11 is translated “all sprung from one” may have been written “are all from of one household” or “are all from of one family”, as Paul had written in Galatians chapter 6 of the family or household of the faith. It is the same preposition which the King James translators rendered as “sprang out” in the phrase “our Lord sprang out of Judah”, speaking of the tribe of His nativity, which is found in Hebrews 7:14. Joseph Thayer, in his notes concerning the preposition ἐκ (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 190, ἐκ, II. 1.) explains that where it is used of people it denotes the “Origen, Source, [or] Cause... of generation, birth, race, lineage, [or] nativity” etc. As Paul had explained often in his epistles, and in Romans chapter 4 especially, the promise to Abraham was “sure to all the seed”, whether they be Judaeans of the circumcision such as these Hebrews, or Israelites of the ancient dispersions who were nevertheless born of the faith of Abraham, which was the belief that God would do as He said and many nations would come of his seed. The Romans were also one of those nations prophesied by God to descended from Abraham’s seed.
The next verse compounds Paul’s message of exclusivity:
12 saying: “I will announce Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.”
This is a quote from Psalm 22:22, and the 22nd Psalm is a Messianic prophecy in its entirety. Reading the surrounding passages, David had written: “21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.” So the brethren of the passage which Paul quotes are the seed of Jacob, the seed of Israel, which comes from Abraham’s loins according to the promise. The lion in the Psalm is an allegory for the enemies of Christ, as Peter had said that “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour...”
13 And again: “I will be confident in Him.” And again: “Behold, I and the children which Yahweh has given me.”
The phrase in the first citation may have been written “I will trust in Him.” Similar statements can be found in the Hebrew at Psalm 18:2, and in the Septuagint at 2 Samuel 22:3. However an examination of Isaiah chapter 8, verses 17 and 18 reveal that to be the source Paul is quoting for both statements. That chapter of Isaiah is a criticism against Israel for their sins, and we will read a longer passage, from Brenton’s English, because once again it sees Paul upholding the exclusivity of the message of the Gospel for the children of Israel: “11 Thus saith the Lord, With a strong hand they revolt from the course of the way of this people, saying, 12 Let them not say, It is hard, for whatsoever this people says, is hard: but fear not ye their fear, neither be dismayed. 13 Sanctify ye the Lord himself; and he shall be thy fear. 14 And if thou shalt trust in him, he shall be to thee for a sanctuary; and ye shall not come against him as against a stumbling-stone, neither as against the falling of a rock: but the houses of Jacob are in a snare, and the dwellers in Jerusalem in a pit. 15 Therefore many among them shall be weak, and fall, and be crushed; and they shall draw nigh, and men shall be taken securely. 16 Then shall those who seal themselves that they may not learn the law be made manifest. 17 And one shall say, I will wait for God, who has turned away his face from the house of Jacob, and I will trust in him. 18 Behold I and the children which God has given me: and they shall be for signs and wonders in the house of Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in mount Sion.” So this is also a Messianic prophecy, and the children which Yahweh God gave to His Christ are from among those same children of Israel. As Christ had said, as it is recorded in John chapter 17, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.” So Paul also continues in this same context:
14 Therefore, since the children have taken part in flesh and blood, He also in like manner took part in the same [D has “in the same sufferings”], that through death He would annul him having the power of death, that is, the False Accuser, 15 and He would release them, as many as whom in fear of death, throughout all of their lives were subject as slaves.
The devil has the power of death, as the apostle John says in his first epistle, because “the whole Society lies in the power of the Evil One”, as it is translated in the Christogenea New Testament. The False Accuser, or the Devil, was the author of death when he rebelled from God and was cast out of heaven. This representative of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil then deceived the woman in the Garden with the lie that “Ye shall not surely die”, and she did. Therefore, as Paul attested in Romans chapter 5, “death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not committed an error resembling the transgression of Adam” That helps to explain why all things are not subject under the feet of God and His Christ at this present time, as we have seen Paul attest in diverse epistles, and what happened at the beginning has been 7,500 years in correcting. However a thousand years are but a day to God. [Here our commentary is brief, for the sake of completing this chapter and our general commentary on Paul’s theme throughout the arguments which he has presented here.]
As Paul explained in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, the nations of the world were all taken away in the worship of devils (1 Corinthians 10:20). As Paul had warned Timothy, this situation would continue through the “latter times” (1 Timothy 4:1). The children of Israel by the promises made to Abraham were preserved in their kind through the power of God, and it was given to them to be the vessel through which God would right the world. By the time Paul had written his epistles, the children of Israel had already become the heirs of the wider Adamic world, and Paul’s ministry to the nations was conducted to those nations which came from the seed of Abraham. Therefore he says:
16 For surely not that of Messengers has He taken upon Himself, but He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham,
The phrase “taken upon Himself” is translated from the Medium Voice form of the verb ἐπιλαμβάνω, or ἐπιλαμβάνομαι (Strong’s # 1949). With the Medium Voice in Greek, generally the initiator of the action is the same as the recipient of the action, therefore he took the seed of Abraham for himself, or here, upon himself. Yet even without the added words, the meaning is clear, that Yahweh God chose to take upon Himself the seed of Abraham in order to accomplish the things which Paul describes here. So once again we see that Yahshua Christ is one with God.
But how could Christ take upon Himself the seed of Messengers, which Paul infers as a possibility here, if the angels are in heaven only? Here it is evident, that Paul is referring to the nature of the fallen angels, who are not in heaven, and who are the vehicle by which the devil still holds the reins of the power of death, until all of the enemies of Christ are finally destroyed. The seed of the Messengers is found in the races which have not descended from Abraham, as they have all become mixed with the branches of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So Paul continues in respect of Christ:
17 from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren, that He would be a compassionate and faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the failures of the people. 18 In what He Himself has suffered being tested, He is able to help those being tested.
Yahweh promised that Abraham’s seed would inherit the earth, and Yahweh came as Messiah as one of Abraham’s descendants in order that He may rule as King over His Own people, fulfilling the promises to Abraham, fulfilling the law in relation to Israel, and correcting the circumstances where the people rejected Yahweh as King and demanded an earthly King. In that way, Yahweh would ultimately be their King in an earthly form, just as they had demanded. Being First Born in the Spirit, He is also the only legitimate claimant to the original Adamic priesthood, being a priest after the order of Melchizedek, as Paul will describe Him later in this epistle. Giving Himself on behalf of the people that they may live, he makes the ultimate sacrifice and brings to an end the Levitical priesthood, which Paul also explains later in this epistle. Furthermore, having been judged by men He asserts a righteous ability to judge men, and being God He therefore becomes the legitimate judge of all. As we said earlier, the reasons for the Passion of the Christ are several indeed, and every aspect of the history of our Adamic race is summed up in Him.