Hebrews 7 (TBRM Day 753)

Hebrews 7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 7

Melchizedek, a Type of Christ. [a]This “Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High,”[b] “met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings” and “blessed him.” [c]And Abraham apportioned to him “a tenth of everything.” His name first means righteous king, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life,[d] thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

[e]See how great he is to whom the patriarch “Abraham [indeed] gave a tenth” of his spoils. The descendants of Levi who receive the office of priesthood have a commandment according to the law to exact tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, although they also have come from the loins of Abraham. But he who was not of their ancestry received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. Unquestionably, a lesser person is blessed by a greater.[f] In the one case, mortal men receive tithes; in the other, a man of whom it is testified that he lives on. One might even say that Levi[g] himself, who receives tithes, was tithed through Abraham, 10 for he was still in his father’s loins when Melchizedek met him.

11 [h]If, then, perfection came through the levitical priesthood, on the basis of which the people received the law, what need would there still have been for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not reckoned according to the order of Aaron? 12 When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law as well. 13 Now he of whom these things are said[i] belonged to a different tribe, of which no member ever officiated at the altar. 14 It is clear that our Lord arose from Judah,[j] and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 [k]It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.[l] 17 For it is testified:

“You are a priest forever
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

18 On the one hand, a former commandment is annulled because of its weakness and uselessness, 19 for the law brought nothing to perfection; on the other hand, a better hope[m] is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 [n]And to the degree that this happened not without the taking of an oath[o]—for others became priests without an oath, 21 but he with an oath, through the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent:
    ‘You are a priest forever’”—

22 to that same degree has Jesus [also] become the guarantee of an [even] better covenant.[p] 23 Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, 24 but he, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away.25 [q]Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

26 It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:[r] holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.[s] 27 He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day,[t] first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests, but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law, appoints a son, who has been made perfect forever.

Footnotes:

  1. 7:1–3 Recalling the meeting between Melchizedek and Abraham described in Gn 14:17–20, the author enhances the significance of this priest by providing the popular etymological meaning of his name and that of the city over which he ruled (Hb 7:2). Since Genesis gives no information on the parentage or the death of Melchizedek, he is seen here as a type of Christ, representing a priesthood that is unique and eternal (Hb 7:3).
  2. 7:1 The author here assumes that Melchizedek was a priest of the God of Israel (cf. Gn 14:22 and the note there).
  3. 7:2 In Gn 14, the Hebrew text does not state explicitly who gave tithes to whom. The author of Hebrews supplies Abraham as the subject, according to a contemporary interpretation of the passage. This supports the argument of the midrash and makes it possible to see in Melchizedek a type of Jesus. The messianic blessings of righteousness and peace are foreshadowed in the names “Melchizedek” and “Salem.”
  4. 7:3 Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life: this is perhaps a quotation from a hymn about Melchizedek. The rabbis maintained that anything not mentioned in the Torah does not exist. Consequently, since the Old Testament nowhere mentions Melchizedek’s ancestry, birth, or death, the conclusion can be drawn that he remains…forever.
  5. 7:4–10 The tithe that Abraham gave to Melchizedek (Hb 7:4), a practice later followed by the levitical priesthood (Hb 7:5), was a gift (Hb 7:6) acknowledging a certain superiority in Melchizedek, the foreign priest (Hb 7:7). This is further indicated by the fact that the institution of the levitical priesthood was sustained by hereditary succession in the tribe of Levi, whereas the absence of any mention of Melchizedek’s death in Genesis implies that his personal priesthood is permanent (Hb 7:8). The levitical priesthood itself, through Abraham, its ancestor, paid tithes to Melchizedek, thus acknowledging the superiority of his priesthood over its own (Hb 7:9–10).
  6. 7:7 A lesser person is blessed by a greater: though this sounds like a principle, there are some examples in the Old Testament that do not support it (cf. 2 Sm 14:22Jb 31:20). The author may intend it as a statement of a liturgical rule.
  7. 7:9 Levi: for the author this name designates not only the son of Jacob mentioned in Genesis but the priestly tribe that was thought to be descended from him.
  8. 7:11–14 The levitical priesthood was not typified by the priesthood of Melchizedek, for Ps 110:4 speaks of a priesthood of a new order, the order of Melchizedek, to arise in messianic times (Hb 7:11). Since the levitical priesthood served the Mosaic law, a new priesthood (Hb 7:12) would not come into being without a change in the law itself. Thus Jesus was not associated with the Old Testament priesthood, for he was a descendant of the tribe of Judah, which had never exercised the priesthood (Hb 7:13–14).
  9. 7:13 He of whom these things are said: Jesus, the priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.” According to the author’s interpretation, Ps 110 spoke prophetically of Jesus.
  10. 7:14 Judah: the author accepts the early Christian tradition that Jesus was descended from the family of David (cf. Mt 1:1–21620Lk 1:272:4Rom 1:3). The Qumran community expected two Messiahs, one descended from Aaron and one from David; Hebrews shows no awareness of this view or at least does not accept it. Our author’s view is not attested in contemporaneous Judaism.
  11. 7:15–19 Jesus does not exercise a priesthood through family lineage but through his immortal existence (Hb 7:15–16), fulfilling Ps 110:4 (Hb 7:17; cf. Hb 7:3). Thus he abolishes forever both the levitical priesthood and the law it serves, because neither could effectively sanctify people (Hb 7:18) by leading them into direct communication with God (Hb 7:19).
  12. 7:16 A life that cannot be destroyed: the life to which Jesus has attained by virtue of his resurrection; it is his exaltation rather than his divine nature that makes him priest. The Old Testament speaks of the Aaronic priesthood as eternal (see Ex 40:15); our author does not explicitly consider this possible objection to his argument but implicitly refutes it in Hb 7:23–24.
  13. 7:19 A better hope: this hope depends upon the sacrifice of the Son of God; through it we “approach the throne of grace” (Hb 4:16); cf. Hb 6:1920.
  14. 7:20–25 As was the case with the promise to Abraham (Hb 6:13), though not with the levitical priesthood, the eternal priesthood of the order of Melchizedek was confirmed by God’s oath (Hb 7:20–21); cf. Ps 110:4. Thus Jesus becomes the guarantee of a permanent covenant (Hb 7:22) that does not require a succession of priests as did the levitical priesthood (Hb 7:23) because his high priesthood is eternal and unchangeable (Hb 7:24). Consequently, Jesus is able to save all who draw near to God through him since he is their ever-living intercessor (Hb 7:25).
  15. 7:20 An oath: God’s oath in Ps 110:4.
  16. 7:22 An [even] better covenant: better than the Mosaic covenant because it will be eternal, like the priesthood of Jesus upon which it is based. Hb 7:12 argued that a change of priesthood involves a change of law; since “law” and “covenant” are used correlatively, a new covenant is likewise instituted.
  17. 7:25 To make intercession: the intercession of the exalted Jesus, not the sequel to his completed sacrifice but its eternal presence in heaven; cf. Rom 8:34.
  18. 7:26 This verse with its list of attributes is reminiscent of Hb 7:3 and is perhaps a hymnic counterpart to it, contrasting the exalted Jesus with Melchizedek.
  19. 7:26–28 Jesus is precisely the high priest whom the human race requires, holy and sinless, installed far above humanity (Hb 7:26); one having no need to offer sacrifice daily for sins but making a single offering of himself (Hb 7:27) once for all. The law could only appoint high priests with human limitations, but the fulfillment of God’s oath regarding the priesthood of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4) makes the Son of God the perfect priest forever (Hb 7:28).
  20. 7:27 Such daily sacrifice is nowhere mentioned in the Mosaic law; only on the Day of Atonement is it prescribed that the high priest must offer sacrifice…for his own sins and then for those of the people (Lv 16:11–19). Once for all: this translates the Greek words ephapax/hapax that occur eleven times in Hebrews.

Letter to the Hebrews 6 (TBRM Day 752)

Hebrews 6New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 6

Therefore, let us leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, without laying the foundation all over again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, instruction about baptisms[a] and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And we shall do this, if only God permits. For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift[b] and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,[c] and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves[d] and holding him up to contempt. Ground that has absorbed the rain falling upon it repeatedly and brings forth crops useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected; it will soon be cursed and finally burned.

But we are sure in your regard, beloved, of better things related to salvation, even though we speak in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. 11 We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.[e]

God’s Promise Immutable. 13 [f]When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, “he swore by himself,” 14 and said, “I will indeed bless you and multiply” you. 15 And so, after patient waiting, he obtained the promise.[g] 16 Human beings swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. 17 So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, 18 so that by two immutable things,[h] in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. 19 This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil,[i] 20 where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Footnotes:

  1. 6:2 Instruction about baptisms: not simply about Christian baptism but about the difference between it and similar Jewish rites, such as proselyte baptism, John’s baptism, and the washings of the Qumran sectaries. Laying on of hands: in Acts 8:1719:6 this rite effects the infusion of the holy Spirit; in Acts 6:613:31 Tm 4:145:222 Tm 1:6 it is a means of conferring some ministry or mission in the early Christian community.
  2. 6:4 Enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift: this may refer to baptism and the Eucharist, respectively, but more probably means the neophytes’ enlightenment by faith and their experience of salvation.
  3. 6:5 Tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come: the proclamation of the word of God was accompanied by signs of the Spirit’s power (1 Thes 1:51 Cor 2:4).
  4. 6:6 They are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves: a colorful description of the malice of apostasy, which is portrayed as again crucifying and deriding the Son of God.
  5. 6:12 Imitators of those…inheriting the promises: the author urges the addressees to imitate the faith of the holy people of the Old Testament, who now possess the promised goods of which they lived in hope. This theme will be treated fully in Hb 6:11.
  6. 6:13 He swore by himself: God’s promise to Abraham, which he confirmed by an oath (“I swear by myself,” Gn 22:16) was the basis for the hope of all Abraham’s descendants.
  7. 6:15 He obtained the promise: this probably refers not to Abraham’s temporary possession of the land but to the eschatological blessings that Abraham and the other patriarchs have now come to possess.
  8. 6:18 Two immutable things: the promise and the oath, both made by God.
  9. 6:19 Anchor…into the interior behind the veil: a mixed metaphor. The Holy of Holies, beyond the veil that separates it from the Holy Place (Ex 26:31–33), is seen as the earthly counterpart of the heavenly abode of God. This theme will be developed in Hb 9.

Letter to the Hebrews 5 (TBRM Day 751)

Hebrews 5 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 5

[a]Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.[b] He is able to deal patiently[c] with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him:

“You are my son;
    this day I have begotten you”;

just as he says in another place:[d]

“You are a priest forever
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death,[e] and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was,[f] he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

IV. Jesus’ Eternal Priesthood and Eternal Sacrifice

Exhortation to Spiritual Renewal. 11 [g]About this we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing. 12 Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. 13 Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:1–10 The true humanity of Jesus (see note on Hb 2:5–18) makes him a more rather than a less effective high priest to the Christian community. In Old Testament tradition, the high priest was identified with the people, guilty of personal sin just as they were (Hb 5:1–3). Even so, the office was of divine appointment (Hb 5:4), as was also the case with the sinless Christ (Hb 5:5). For Hb 5:6, see note on Ps 110:4. Although Jesus was Son of God, he was destined as a human being to learn obedience by accepting the suffering he had to endure (Hb 5:8). Because of his perfection through this experience of human suffering, he is the cause of salvation for all (Hb 5:9), a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hb 5:10; cf. Hb 5:6 and Hb 7:3).
  2. 5:1 To offer gifts and sacrifices for sins: the author is thinking principally of the Day of Atonement rite, as is clear from Hb 9:7. This ritual was celebrated to atone for “all the sins of the Israelites” (Lv 16:34).
  3. 5:2 Deal patiently: the Greek word metriopathein occurs only here in the Bible; this term was used by the Stoics to designate the golden mean between excess and defect of passion. Here it means rather the ability to sympathize.
  4. 5:6–8 The author of Hebrews is the only New Testament writer to cite Ps 110:4, here and in Hb 7:1721, to show that Jesus has been called by God to his role as priest. Hb 5:7–8 deal with his ability to sympathize with sinners, because of his own experience of the trials and weakness of human nature, especially fear of death. In his present exalted state, weakness is foreign to him, but he understands what we suffer because of his previous earthly experience.
  5. 5:7 He offered prayers…to the one who was able to save him from death: at Gethsemane (cf. Mk 14:35), though some see a broader reference (see note on Jn 12:27).
  6. 5:8 Son though he was: two different though not incompatible views of Jesus’ sonship coexist in Hebrews, one associating it with his exaltation, the other with his preexistence. The former view is the older one (cf. Rom 1:4).
  7. 5:11–6:20 The central section of Hebrews (5:11–10:39) opens with a reprimand and an appeal. Those to whom the author directs his teaching about Jesus’ priesthood, which is difficult to explain, have become sluggish in hearing and forgetful of even the basic elements (Hb 5:12). But rather than treating of basic teachings, the author apparently believes that the challenge of more advanced ones may shake them out of their inertia (thereforeHb 6:1). The six examples of basic teaching in Hb 6:1–3 are probably derived from a traditional catechetical list. No effort is made to address apostates, for their very hostility to the Christian message cuts them off completely from Christ (Hb 6:4–8). This harsh statement seems to rule out repentance after apostasy, but perhaps the author deliberately uses hyperbole in order to stress the seriousness of abandoning Christ. With Hb 6:9 a milder tone is introduced, and the criticism of the community (Hb 6:1–39) is now balanced by an expression of confidence that its members are living truly Christian lives, and that God will justly reward their efforts (Hb 6:10). The author is concerned especially about their persevering (Hb 6:11–12), citing in this regard the achievement of Abraham, who relied on God’s promise and on God’s oath (Hb 6:13–18; cf. Gn 22:16), and proposes to them as a firm anchor of Christian hope the high priesthood of Christ, who is now living with God (Hb 6:19–20).

Letter to the Hebrews 4 (TBRM Day 750)

Hebrews 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

The Sabbath Rest. Therefore, let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. For we who believed enter into [that] rest, just as he has said:

“As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter into my rest,’”

and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.”Therefore, since it remains that some will enter into it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, he once more set a day, “today,” when long afterwards he spoke through David, as already quoted:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts.’”

Now if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterwards of another day. Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. 10 And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. 11 Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Jesus, Compassionate High Priest. 14 [a]Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:14–16 These verses, which return to the theme first sounded in Hb 2:16–3:1, serve as an introduction to the section that follows. The author here alone calls Jesus a great high priest (Hb 4:14), a designation used by Philo for the Logos; perhaps he does so in order to emphasize Jesus’ superiority over the Jewish high priest. He has been tested in every way, yet without sin (Hb 4:15); this indicates an acquaintance with the tradition of Jesus’ temptations, not only at the beginning (as in Mk 1:13) but throughout his public life (cf. Lk 22:28). Although the reign of the exalted Jesus is a theme that occurs elsewhere in Hebrews, and Jesus’ throne is mentioned in Hb 1:8the throne of grace (Hb 4:16) refers to the throne of God. The similarity of Hb 4:16 to Hb 10:19–22 indicates that the author is thinking of our confident access to God, made possible by the priestly work of Jesus.

Letter to the Hebrews 3 (TBRM Day 749)

Hebrews 3 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

III. Jesus, Faithful and Compassionate High Priest

Chapter 3

Jesus, Superior to Moses.[a] Therefore, holy “brothers,” sharing in a heavenly calling, reflect on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was “faithful in [all] his house.” But he is worthy of more “glory” than Moses, as the founder of a house has more “honor” than the house itself. Every house is founded by someone, but the founder of all is God. Moses was “faithful in all his house” as a “servant” to testify to what would be spoken, [b]but Christ was faithful as a son placed over his house. We are his house, if [only] we hold fast to our confidence and pride in our hope.

Israel’s Infidelity a Warning. [c]Therefore, as the holy Spirit says:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
    ‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
        in the day of testing in the desert,
    where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works 10         for forty years.
    Because of this I was provoked with that generation
        and I said, “They have always been of erring heart,
        and they do not know my ways.”
11     As I swore in my wrath,
        “They shall not enter into my rest.”’”

12 Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. 13 Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. 14 We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end, 15 for it is said:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion.’”

16 Who were those who rebelled when they heard? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt under Moses? 17 With whom was he “provoked for forty years”? Was it not those who had sinned, whose corpses fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did he “swear that they should not enter into his rest,” if not to those who were disobedient? 19 And we see that they could not enter for lack of faith.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–6 The author now takes up the two qualities of Jesus mentioned in Hb 2:17, but in inverse order: faithfulness (Hb 3:1–4:13) and mercy (Hb 4:14–5:10). Christians are called holy “brothers” because of their common relation to him (Hb 2:11), the apostle, a designation for Jesus used only here in the New Testament (cf. Jn 13:1617:3), meaning one sent as God’s final word to us (Hb 1:2). He is compared with Moses probably because he is seen as mediator of the new covenant (Hb 9:15) just as Moses was of the old (Hb 9:19–22, including his sacrifice). But when the author of Hebrews speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice, he does not consider Moses as the Old Testament antitype, but rather the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Hb 9:6–15). Moses’ faithfulness “in [all] his house” refers back to Nm 12:7, on which this section is a midrashic commentary. In Hb 3:3–6, the author does not indicate that he thinks of either Moses or Christ as the founder of the household. His house(Hb 3:256) means God’s house, not that of Moses or Christ; in the case of Christ, compare Hb 3:6 with Hb 10:21. The house of Hb 3:6 is the Christian community; the author suggests its continuity with Israel by speaking not of two houses but of only one. Hb 3:6brings out the reason why Jesus is superior to Moses: the latter was the faithful servantlaboring in the house founded by God, but Jesus is God’s son, placed over the house.
  2. 3:6 The majority of manuscripts add “firm to the end,” but these words are not found in the three earliest and best witnesses and are probably an interpolation derived from Hb 3:14.
  3. 3:7–4:13 The author appeals for steadfastness of faith in Jesus, basing his warning on the experience of Israel during the Exodus. In the Old Testament the Exodus had been invoked as a symbol of the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile (Is 42:943:16–2151:9–11). In the New Testament the redemption was similarly understood as a new exodus, both in the experience of Jesus himself (Lk 9:31) and in that of his followers (1 Cor 10:1–4). The author cites Ps 95:7–11, a salutary example of hardness of heart, as a warning against the danger of growing weary and giving up the journey. To call God living (Hb 3:12) means that he reveals himself in his works (cf. Jos 3:10Jer 10:11). The rest (Hb 3:11) into which Israel was to enter was only a foreshadowing of that rest to which Christians are called. They are to remember the example of Israel’s revolt in the desert that cost a whole generation the loss of the promised land (Hb 3:15–19; cf. Nm 14:20–29). In Hb 4:1–11, the symbol of restis seen in deeper dimension: because the promise to the ancient Hebrews foreshadowed that given to Christians, it is good news; and because the promised land was the place of rest that God provided for his people, it was a share in his own rest, which he enjoyed after he had finished his creative work (Hb 3:3–4; cf. Gn 2:2). The author attempts to read this meaning of God’s rest into Ps 95:7–11 (Hb 3:6–9). The Greek form of the name of Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land, is Jesus (Hb 3:8). The author plays upon the name but stresses the superiority of Jesus, who leads his followers into heavenly rest. Hb 3:1213are meant as a continuation of the warning, for the word of God brings judgment as well as salvation. Some would capitalize the word of God and see it as a personal title of Jesus, comparable to that of Jn 1:1–18.

Hebrews 2 (TBRM Day 748)

Hebrews 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

Exhortation to Faithfulness.[a] Therefore, we must attend all the more to what we have heard, so that we may not be carried away. For if the word announced through angels proved firm, and every transgression and disobedience received its just recompense, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? Announced originally through the Lord, it was confirmed for us by those who had heard. God added his testimony by signs, wonders, various acts of power, and distribution of the gifts of the holy Spirit according to his will.

Exaltation Through Abasement.[b] For it was not to angels that he subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Instead, someone has testified somewhere:

“What is man that you are mindful of him,
    or the son of man that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
    you crowned him with glory and honor,
    subjecting all things under his feet.”

In “subjecting” all things [to him], he left nothing not “subject to him.” Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death, he who “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers,” 12 saying:

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers,
    in the midst of the assembly I will praise you”;

13 and again:

“I will put my trust in him”;

and again:

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. 16 Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; 17 therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–4 The author now makes a transition into exhortation, using an a fortiori argument (as at Hb 7:21–229:13–1410:28–2912:25). The word announced through angels (Hb 2:2), the Mosaic law, is contrasted with the more powerful word that Christians have received (Hb 2:3–4). Christ’s supremacy strengthens Christians against being carried awayfrom their faith.
  2. 2:5–18 The humanity and the suffering of Jesus do not constitute a valid reason for relinquishing the Christian faith. Ps 8:6–7 is also applied to Jesus in 1 Cor 15:27Eph 1:22; and probably 1 Pt 3:22. This christological interpretation, therefore, probably reflects a common early Christian tradition, which may have originated in the expression the son of man (Hb 2:6). The psalm contrasts God’s greatness with man’s relative insignificance but also stresses the superiority of man to the rest of creation, of which he is lord. Hebrews applies this christologically: Jesus lived a truly human existence, lower than the angels, in the days of his earthly life, particularly in his suffering and death; now, crowned with glory and honor, he is raised above all creation. The author considers all things as already subject to him because of his exaltation (Hb 2:8–9), though we do not see this yet. The reference to Jesus as leader (Hb 2:10) sounds the first note of an important leitmotif in Hebrews: the journey of the people of God to the sabbath rest (Hb 4:9), the heavenly sanctuary, following Jesus, their “forerunner” (Hb 6:20). It was fitting that God should make him perfect through suffering, consecrated by obedient suffering. Because he is perfected as high priest, Jesus is then able to consecrate his people (Hb 2:11); access to God is made possible by each of these two consecrations. If Jesus is able to help human beings, it is because he has become one of us; we are his “brothers.” The author then cites three Old Testament texts as proofs of this unity between ourselves and the Son. Ps 22:23 is interpreted so as to make Jesus the singer of this lament, which ends with joyful praise of the Lord in the assembly of “brothers.” The other two texts are from Is 8:1718. The first of these seems intended to display in Jesus an example of the trust in God that his followers should emulate. The second curiously calls these followers “children”; probably this is to be understood to mean children of Adam, but the point is our solidarity with Jesus. By sharing human nature, including the ban of death, Jesus broke the power of the devil over death (Hb 2:14); the author shares the view of Hellenistic Judaism that death was not intended by God and that it had been introduced into the world by the devil. The fear of death (Hb 2:15) is a religious fear based on the false conception that death marks the end of a person’s relations with God (cf. Ps 115:17–18Is 38:18). Jesus deliberately allied himself with the descendants of Abraham (Hb 2:16) in order to be a merciful and faithful high priest. This is the first appearance of the central theme of Hebrews, Jesus the great high priest expiating the sins of the people (Hb 2:17), as one who experienced the same tests as they (Hb 2:18).

Hebrews 1 (TBRM Day 747)

Hebrews 1 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

I. Introduction[a]

Chapter 1

In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe,

who is the refulgence of his glory,
    the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

II. The Son Higher Than the Angels

Messianic Enthronement.[b] For to which of the angels did God ever say:

“You are my son; this day I have begotten you”?

Or again:

“I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”?

And again, when he leads[c] the first-born into the world, he says:

“Let all the angels of God worship him.”

Of the angels he says:

“He makes his angels winds
    and his ministers a fiery flame”;

but of the Son:

“Your throne, O God,[d] stands forever and ever;
    and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
You loved justice and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, anointed you
    with the oil of gladness above your companions”;

10 and:

“At the beginning, O Lord, you established the earth,
    and the heavens are the works of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
    and they will all grow old like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a cloak,
    and like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

13 But to which of the angels has he ever said:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies your footstool”?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1–4 The letter opens with an introduction consisting of a reflection on the climax of God’s revelation to the human race in his Son. The divine communication was initiated and maintained during Old Testament times in fragmentary and varied ways through the prophets (Hb 1:1), including Abraham, Moses, and all through whom God spoke. But now in these last days (Hb 1:2) the final age, God’s revelation of his saving purpose is achieved through a son, i.e., one who is Son, whose role is redeemer and mediator of creation. He was made heir of all things through his death and exaltation to glory, yet he existed before he appeared as man; through him God created the universeHb 1:3–4, which may be based upon a liturgical hymn, assimilate the Son to the personified Wisdom of the Old Testament as refulgence of God’s glory and imprint of his being (Hb 1:3; cf. Wis 7:26). These same terms are used of the Logos in Philo. The author now turns from the cosmological role of the preexistent Son to the redemptive work of Jesus: he brought about purification from sins and has been exalted to the right hand of God (see Ps 110:1). The once-humiliated and crucified Jesus has been declared God’s Son, and this name shows his superiority to the angels. The reason for the author’s insistence on that superiority is, among other things, that in some Jewish traditions angels were mediators of the old covenant (see Acts 7:53Gal 3:19). Finally, Jesus’ superiority to the angels emphasizes the superiority of the new covenant to the old because of the heavenly priesthood of Jesus.
  2. 1:5–14 Jesus’ superiority to the angels is now demonstrated by a series of seven Old Testament texts. Some scholars see in the stages of Jesus’ exaltation an order corresponding to that of enthronement ceremonies in the ancient Near East, especially in Egypt, namely, elevation to divine status (Hb 1:5–6); presentation to the angels and proclamation of everlasting lordship (Hb 1:7–12); enthronement and conferral of royal power (Hb 1:13). The citations from the Psalms in Hb 1:513 were traditionally used of Jesus’ messianic sonship (cf. Acts 13:33) through his resurrection and exaltation (cf. Acts 2:33–35); those in Hb 1:810–12 are concerned with his divine kingship and his creative function. The central quotation in Hb 1:7 serves to contrast the angels with the Son. The author quotes it according to the Septuagint translation, which is quite different in meaning from that of the Hebrew (“You make the winds your messengers, and flaming fire your ministers”). The angels are only sent to serve…those who are to inherit salvation (Hb 1:14).
  3. 1:6 And again, when he leads: the Greek could also be translated “And when he again leads” in reference to the parousia.
  4. 1:8–12 O God: the application of the name “God” to the Son derives from the preexistence mentioned in Hb 1:2–3; the psalmist had already used it of the Hebrew king in the court style of the original. See note on Ps 45:7. It is also important for the author’s christology that in Hb 1:10–12 an Old Testament passage addressed to God is redirected to Jesus.