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iv. 20, “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and
Amen.” To the Son separately: Rev. i. 5, 6, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” To both together: Rev. v. 13, “ And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever." It appears to me, however, that though Christ be the nearest relative, yet, as the God of peace” is the person addressed and principally spoken of in the prayer, the ascription of praise is to be considered as addressed to Him. “The God of peace” well deserves to be praised and glorified for ever, for all He has done for, and for all He has done in, His redeemed people. The “bringing again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep," and His preparing His people in every good work to do His will,” by “working in them that which is well-pleasing in His sight,” are themes worthy of the songs of eternity. In these dispensations He displays a power and a wisdom, a holiness and a grace, which richly deserve everlasting praise. And as they deserve it, so they shall receive it. The Apostle's pious wish, in which every Christian will cordially acquiesce, will be fully realized. A song ever new shall be unceasingly raised by the nations of the saved to “the God of peace," who reconciled them to Himself by the blood of His Son, and declared the reconciliation by His glorious resurrection; and who, by the instrumentality of His word and the power of His Spirit, “prepared them for doing His will in every good work, by working in them that which is well-pleasing in His sight.” “ Amen,” adds the Apostle. So it ought to be, so let it be, so shall it be. “And let all the people say, Amen, and Amen."
This is, properly speaking, the conclusion of the Epistle ; and a more appropriate one could not have been conceived. What follows in the four following verses is of the nature of a postscript. This is a usual practice with the Apostle. Similar postscripts are attached to the Epistles to the Romans and Philippians, and to both the Epistles to Timothy.
The 22d verse contains an affectionate request that they would take kindly what on his part was meant kindly. “I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, for I have written a letter to you in few words.” The Hebrew Christians were, like all other Christians, Paul's spiritual brethren ; but I think it very likely he here referred to the natural relation in which they stood to him as Hebrews. It was as Hebrews—as persons possessed with Jewish prejudices—that they especially needed, and were in danger of not “ suffering, the word of exhortation.” It is equivalent to— Remember, I am your brother, and both feel the affection, and am warranted to use the freedom, of a brother.'
“ The word of exhortation” is just equivalent to—this hortatory discourse.
Some have supposed that the Apostle refers only to those parts of the Epistle that consist of direct exhortation, such as the beginning of the 2d chapter, the 6th, the latter part of the 10th, the 12th, and the 13th chapters. We rather apprehend that he means this hortatory discourse' as a general description of the whole Epistle. And a juster one could not be conceived; for what is the Epistle, from beginning to end, but a most impressive and well-supported exhortation to persevere in the faith and profession of the Gospel, notwithstanding all the temptations to abandon them to which they were exposed ?
To “suffer," or bear, this hortatory discourse, is a phrase which obviously implies, that in it there were many things opposed to their prejudices, and which, therefore, they might be dissatisfied and displeased with. I do not know that the meaning of the exhortation can be better given than in the words of Dr Owen : “Let no prejudices, no inveterate opinions, no apprehension of severity in its admonitions and threatenings, provoke you against it, render you impatient under it, and so cause you to lose the benefit of it. Christians should beware of turning away from statements and exhortations merely because they are not very agreeable to them. That may be the very reason why they are peculiarly required by them.”
The reason of this injunction is given in the close of the verse : “For I have written a letter to you in few words.”1 It may appear strange that the Apostle uses such language with regard to this Epistle, as it is the largest of his Epistles, with the
1 δια βραχέων (ρημάτων); i.e., δι' ολίγων,-1 Ρet. v. 12.
exception of that written to the Romans, and as he seems to have considered his Epistle to the Galatians a long one: “ Ye see how long a letter I have written to you with mine own hand.” The remark in the Epistle to the Galatians refers either to the size and form of the Greek characters, which the Apostle does not seem to have been accustomed to write, or to the letter being long for an autograph, he being in the habit of employing an amanuensis. Length and shortness are comparative terms. A very short letter on an unimportant subject may be too long, and a very long letter on an important subject may be too short. The Apostle's meaning is, 'I have written to you concisely. And who that has read the Epistle is not convinced of this ?I have delivered nearly one hundred lectures of an hour's length on this Epistle; and yet I am persuaded I have but very imperfectly brought out those“ treasures of wisdom and knowledge” which are contained in these brief terms.
The force of the conciseness of the Apostle's style, as a reason why his brethren should“ bear the word of exhortation," is not difficult to perceive. It is equivalent to— If there be anything apparently harsh and unpalatable in the exhortation, impute it to the circumstance that I have had so much to communicate within a moderate compass, that there was no room to smooth down all asperities.
The 23d verse gives some interesting information respecting a distinguished Christian evangelist, and the Apostle's intention of speedily visiting the Hebrew Christians : “Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty ; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.” Timothy, of whose history we have a number of notices in the Acts of the Apostles, seems to have accompanied the Apostle in very many of his journeyings, and to have served with him as a son with a father in the work of the Gospel. Having been with him in Judea, his worth and excellences were well known to the churches there. He does not seem to have gone to Rome with the Apostle, but he probably followed him there; and it would appear from this passage that he had been cast into prison as an associate of Paul, or for preaching the Gospel himself. From this imprisonment he had
1 " It is reasonable to suppose that the writer means to say that he had written briefly, considering the importance and difficulty of the subjects of which he had treated. And who will deny this?”—STUART.
been delivered; and it seems to have been his intention to avail himself of his deliverance to visit the brethren in Judea. The Apostle intimates his intention to accompany Timothy in this journey, if he should undertake it soon; at the same time, hinting that, if Timothy could not come speedily, it was doubtful whether his work would permit him to do so or not. We do not know whether these expectations were ever fulfilled.
The words in the 24th verse seem plainly addressed to those individuals to whom the letter was sent, and by whom it was to be communicated to the Church. He charges them to “salute” -i.e., to express his kind and respectful affection, first to the office-bearers, and then to the members of the churches of Judea. The members are called saints—separated ones, set apart by God for Himself—separated from “ the world lying under the wicked one”-devoted to the love, and fear, and service of God and His Son. Such are the only proper members of the visible Church ; such are the only true members of the Church invisible. “They of Italy salute you ;"l that is, “ The Christians in Italy send you the assurance of their cordial regard.' How does Christianity melt down prejudices ! Romans and Jews, Italians and Hebrews, were accustomed to regard each other with contempt and hatred. But in Christ Jesus there is neither Roman nor Jew, neither Italian nor Hebrew : all are one. Christians of different countries should take all proper opportunities of testifying their mutual regard to each other. It is calculated to strengthen and console, and to knit them closer and closer in love. Proper expressions of love increase love on both sides.
The Epistle is concluded with the usual sign in the Apostle's Epistles, written probably by his own hand. « Grace be with you all. Amen." “Grace” here is the grace of God-the divine sovereign kindness. What a comprehensive, kind wish is this : "May you be the objects of the continued love of the greatest, the wisest, and the best Being in the universe; and
1 Oito rñs 'Izaníces may signify, 'those who have come from Italy – those Italians who have been obliged to leave their country and come to some other country. In this way some interpreters render it, especially those who deny the Pauline origin of the Epistle. It may signify Italians generally, including Romans ; but supposing the Epistle to have been written from Rome, it probably signifies the Christians from other parts of Italy, at the time residing in Rome. Tholuck's note deserves to be read.
may He constantly bestow on you proofs of His peculiar love and care !' “ His favour is life, His loving-kindness is better than life.” Nothing better, for time or for eternity, can be desired for ourselves or for others than the grace of God. Infinite power to guard, infinite wisdom to guide, infinite excellence and love to excite and gratify all the affections of the heart for ever and ever.
And now I close these illustrations of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Happier hours than those which I have spent in composing these expository discourses, I can scarcely expect to spend on this side the grave. I trust the study of the Epistle has not been without some improvement, as well as much enjoyment, to myself. I shall rejoice if at last it shall be found that others also have been made better and happier by it. All is now over with the author and his readers, as to his illustrating the Epistle, and their listening to these illustrations; but there remains the improvement to be made, and the account to be given in. God requireth the things which are past, and so should we. Let me request those who have accompanied me thus far, seriously to review the whole Epistle, and ask themselves, Do we understand it better, and do we feel more strongly the sanctifying and consoling influence of the doctrines which it unfolds ? Can we say with greater conviction of the truth than formerly, We need a High Priest—we have a High Priestwe are well pleased with our High Priest ; we have acknowledged Jesus as our High Priest ; we will hold fast our acknowledgment; He died for us—we will live for Him; and if He calls us, we will die for Him; we will trace His steps on the earth, we will wait His coming in the clouds ? If this be the case even in one individual, I shall not have laboured in vain : if it has been the case with a number of individuals, I shall have received a full reward.
Προς Εβραίους εγράφη από της Ιταλίας διά Τιμοθέου.
The 23d verse of the 13th chapter sufficiently proves that this hypograph is not genuine. Like many of the other hypographs of the Apostolical Epistles, it is the mere conjecture of an ignorant and inconsiderate transcriber. “ These inscriptions are,” as Hallett well says, “not of the least authority. It is a pity they should be printed in the Bible.” In some MSS., after εγράφη, Εβραιστί is added. Instead of από της Ιταλίας, one codex has από Ρώμης, and another, απ' 'Αθηνών.