(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 3)

=====> 1:3  Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express
image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,
when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the
Majesty on high.

=====> 1:3. "Who being the brightness of his glory," &c. These things are
said of Christ partly as to his divine essence, and partly as a partaker
of our flesh. When he is called the "brightness of his glory and the
impress of his substance", his divinity is referred to; the other things
appertain in a measure to his human nature. The whole, however, is stated
in order to set forth the dignity of Christ.
    But it is for the same reason that the Son is said to be "the
brightness of his glory", and "the impress of his substance:" they are
words borrowed from nature. For nothing can be said of things so great
and so profound, but by similitudes taken from created things. There is
therefore no need refinedly to discuss the question how the Son, who has
the same essence with the Father, is a brightness emanating from his
light. We must allow that there is a degree of impropriety in the
language when what is borrowed from created things is transferred to the
hidden majesty of God. But still the things which are indent to our
senses are fitly applied to God, and for this end, that we may know what
is to be found in Christ, and what benefits he brings to us.
    It ought also to be observed that frivolous speculations are not here
taught, but an important doctrine of faith. We ought therefore to apply
these high titles given to Christ for our own benefit, for they bear a
relation to us. When, therefore, thou hear that the Son is the brightness
of the Father's glory, think thus with thyself, that the glory of the
Father is invisible until it shines forth in Christ, and that he is
called the impress of his substance, because the majesty of the Father is
hidden until it shows itself impressed as it were on his image. They who
overlook this connection and carry their philosophy higher, weary
themselves to no purpose, for they do not understand the design of the
Apostle; for it was not his object to show what likeness the Father bears
to the Son; but, as I have said, his purpose was really to build up our
faith, so that we may learn that God is made known to us in no other way
than in Christ: for as to the essence of God, so immense is the
brightness that it dazzles our eyes, except it shines on us in Christ. It
hence follows, that we are blind as to the light of God, until in Christ
it beams on us. It is indeed a profitable philosophy to learn Christ by
the real understanding of faith and experience. The same view, as I have
said is to be taken of "the impress;" for as God is in himself to us
incomprehensible, his form appears to us only in his Son.
    The word |apaugasma| means here nothing else but visible  light or
refulgence, such as our eyes can bear; and |charakter| is the vivid form
of a hidden substance. By the first word we are reminded that without
Christ there is no light, but only darkness; for as God is the only true
light by which it behaves us all to be illuminated, this light sheds
itself upon us, so to speak, only by irradiation. By the second word we
are reminded that God is truly and really known in Christ; for he is not
his obscure or shadowy image, but his impress which resembles him, as
money the impress of the die with which it is stamped. But the Apostle
indeed says what is more than this, even that the substance of the Father
is in a manner engraven on the Son.
    The word |hupostasis|, which, by following others, I have rendered
substance, denotes not, as I think, the being or essence of the Father,
but his person; for it would be strange to say that the essence of God is
impressed on Christ, as the essence of both is simply the same. But it
may truly and fitly be said that whatever peculiarly belongs to the
Father is exhibited in Christ, so that he who knows him knows what is in
the Father. And in this sense do the orthodox fathers take this term,
hypostasis, considering it to be threefold in God, while the essence
(|ousia|) is simply one. Hilary everywhere takes the Latin word substance
for person. But though it be not the Apostle's object in this place to
speak of what Christ is in himself, but of what he is really to us, yet
he sufficiently confutes the Asians and Sabellians; for he claims for
Christ what belongs to God alone, and also refers to two distinct
persons, as to the Father and the Son. For we hence learn that the Son is
one God with the Father, and that he is yet in a sense distinct from him,
so that a subsistence or person belongs to both.
    "And upholding (or bearing) all things", &c. To uphold or to bear
here means to preserve or to continue all that is created in its own
state; for he intimates that all things would instantly come to nothing,
were they not sustained by his power. Though the pronoun "his" may be
referred to the Father as well as to the Son, as it may be rendered "his
own," yet as the other exposition is more commonly received, and well
suits the context, I am disposed to embrace it. Literally it is, "by the
word of his power;" but the genitive, after the Hebrew manner, is used
instead of an adjective; for the perverted explanation of some, that
Christ sustains all things by the word of the Father, that is, by himself
who is the word, has nothing in its favour: besides, there is no need of
such forced explanation; for Christ is not wont to be called |rhema|,
saying, but |logos|, word. Hence the "word" here means simply a nod; and
the sense is, that Christ who preserves the whole world by a nod only,
did not yet refuse the office of effecting our purgation.
    Now this is the second part of the doctrine handled in this Epistle;
for a statement of the whole question is to be found in these two
chapters, and that is, that Christ, endued with supreme authority, ought
to be head above all others, and that as he has reconciled us to his
Father by his own death, he has put an end to the ancient sacrifices. And
so the first point, though a general proposition, is yet a tea of old
    When he further says, "by himself", there is to be understood here a
contrast, that he had not been aided in this by the shadows of the Mosaic
Law. He shows besides a difference between him and the Levitical priests;
for they also were said to expiate sins, but they derived this power from
another. In short, he intended to exclude all other means or helps by
stating that the price and the power of purgation were found only in
    "Sat down on the right hand," &c.; as though he had said, that having
in the world procured salvation for men, he was received into celestial
glory, in order that he might govern all things. And he added this in
order to show that it was not a temporary salvation he has obtained for
us; for we should otherwise be too apt to measure his power by what now
appears to us. He then reminds us that Christ is not to be less esteemed
because he is not seen by our eyes; but, on the contrary, that this was
the height of his glory, that he has been taken and conveyed to the
highest seat of his empire. "The right hand" is by a similitude applied
to God, though he is not confined to any place, and has not a right side
nor left. The session then of Christ means nothing else but the kingdom
given to him by the Father, and that authority which Paul mentions, when
he says that in his name every knee should bow. (Phil. 2: 10) Hence to
sit at the right hand of the Father is no other thing than to govern in
the place of the Father, as deputies of princes are wont to do to whom a
full power over all things is granted.  And the word "majesty" is added,
and also "on high", and for this purpose, to intimate that Christ is
seated on the supreme throne whence the majesty of God shines forth. As,
then, he ought to be loved on account of his redemption, so he ought to
be adored on account of his royal magnificence.

=====> 1:4. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by
inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
1:5  For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son,
this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and
he shall be to me a Son?
1:6  And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he
saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

=====> 1:4. "Being made so much better", &e. After having raised Christ
above Moses and all others, he now amplifies His glory by a comparison
with angels. It was a common notion among the Jews, that the Law was
given by angels; they attentively considered the honorable things spoken
of them everywhere in Scripture; and as the world is strangely inclined
to superstition, they obscured the glory of God by extolling angels too
much. It was therefore necessary to reduce them to their own rank, that
they might not overshadow the brightness of Christ. And first he proves
from his name, that Christ far excelled them, for he is called the Son of
God; and that he was distinguished by this title he shows by two
testimonies from Scripture, both of which must be examined by us; and
then we shall sum up their full import.
=====> 1:5. "Thou art my Son", &c. It cannot be denied but that this was
spoken of David, that is, as he sustained the person of Christ. Then the
things found in this Psalm must have been shadowed forth in David, but
were fully accomplished in Christ. For that he by subduing many enemies
around him, enlarged the borders of his kingdom, it was some
foreshadowing of the promise, "I will give thee the heathen for thine
inheritance." But how little was this in comparison with the amplitude of
Christ's kingdom, which extends from the east to the west? For the same
reason David was called the son of God, having been especially chosen to
perform great things; but his glory was hardly a spark, even the
smallest, to that glory which shone forth in Christ, on whom the Father
has imprinted his own image. So the name of Son belongs by a peculiar
privilege to Christ alone, and cannot in this sense be applied to any
other without profanation, for him and no other has the Father sealed.
    But still the argument of the Apostle seems not to be well-grounded;
for how does he maintain that Christ is superior to angels except on this
ground, that he has the name of a Son? As though indeed he had not this
in common with princes and those high in power, of whom it is written,
"Ye are gods and the sons of the most", (Ps. 50:6;) and as though
Jeremiah had not spoken as honorably of all Israel, when he called them
the firstborn of God. (Jer. 31:9.) They are indeed everywhere called
children or sons. Besides, David calls angels the sons of God; "Who," he
says, "is like to Jehovah among the sons of God?" (Ps. 84: 6.)
    The answer to all this is in no way difficult. Princes are called by
this name on account of a particular circumstance; as to Israel, the
common grace of election is thus denoted; angels are called the sons of
God as having a certain resemblance to him, because they are celestial
spirits and possess some portion of divinity in their blessed
immortality. But when David without any addition calls himself as the
type of Christ the Son of God, he denotes something peculiar and more
excellent than the honour given to angels or to princes, or even to all
Israel. Otherwise it would have been an improper and absurd expression,
if he was by way of excellence called the son of God, and yet had nothing
more than others; for he is thus separated from all other beings. When it
is said so exclusively of Christ, "Thou art my Son," it follows that this
honour does not belong to any of the angels.
    If any one again objects and says, that David was thus raised above
the angels; to this I answer, that it is nothing strange for him to be
elevated above angels while bearing the image of Christ; for in like
manner there was no wrong done to angels when the high-priest, who made
an atonement for sins, was called a mediator. They did not indeed obtain
that title as by right their own; but as they represented the kingdom of
Christ, they derived also the name from him. Moreover, the sacraments,
though in themselves lifeless, are yet honoured with titles which angels
cannot claim without being guilty of sacrilege. It is hence evident that
the argument derived from the term Son, is wellgrounded.
    As to his being "begotten", we must briefly observe, that it is to be
understood relatively here: for the subtle reasoning of Augustine is
frivolous, when he imagines that "today" means perpetuity or eternity.
Christ doubtless is the eternal Son of God, for he is wisdom, born before
time; but this has no connection with this passage, in which respect is
had to men, by whom Christ was acknowledged to be the Son of God after
the Father had manifested him. Hence that declaration or manifestation
which Paul mentions in Rom. 1: 4, was, so to speak, a sort of an external
begetting; for the hidden and internal which had preceded, was unknown to
men; nor could there have been any account taken of it, had not the
Father given proof of it by a visible manifestation.
    "I will be to him a Father", &c. As to this second testimony the
former observation holds good. Solomon is here referred to, and though he
was inferior to the angels, yet when God promised to be his Father, he
was separated from the common rank of all others; for he was not to be to
him a Father as to one of the princes, but as to one who was more eminent
than all the rest. By the same privilege he was made a son; all others
were excluded from the like honour. But that this was not said of Solomon
otherwise than as a type of Christ, is evident from the context; for the
empire of the whole world is destined for the Son mentioned there, and
perpetuity is also ascribed to his empire: on the other hand, it appears
that the kingdom of Solomon has confined within narrow bounds, and was so
far from being perpetual, that immediately after his death it was
divided, and some time afterwards it fell altogether. Again, in that
Psalm the sun and moon are summoned as witnesses, and the Lord swears
that as long as they shall shine in the heavens, that kingdom shall
remain safe: and on the other hand, the kingdom of David in a short time
fell into decay, and at length utterly perished. And further, we may
easily gather from many passages in the Prophets, that that promise was
never understood otherwise than of Christ; so that no one can evade by
saying that this is a new comment; for hence also has commonly prevailed
among the Jews the practice of calling Christ the Son of David.
=====> 1:6. "And again, when he bringeth or introduceth", &c. He now
proves by another argument that Christ is above the angels, and that is
because the angels are bidden to worship him. (Ps. 97: 7.) It hence
follows that he is their head and Prince. But it may seem unreasonable to
apply that to Christ which is spoken of God only. Were we to answer that
Christ is the eternal God, and therefore what belongs to God may justly
be applied to him, it would not perhaps be satisfactory to all; for it
would avail but little in proving a doubtful point, to argue in this case
from the common attributes of God.
    The subject is Christ manifested in the flesh, and the Apostle
expressly says, that the Spirit thus spoke when Christ was introduced
into the world; but this would not have been said consistently with truth
except the manifestation of Christ be really spoken of in the Psalm. And
so the case indeed is; for the Psalm commences with an exhortation to
rejoice; nor did David address the Jews, but the whole earth, including
the islands, that is, countries beyond the sea. The reason for this joy
is given, because the Lord would reign. Further, if you read the whole
Psalm, you will find nothing else but the kingdom of Christ, which began
when the Gospel was published; nor is the whole Psalm anything else but a
solemn decree, as it were, by which Christ was sent to take possession of
His kingdom. Besides, what joy could arise from His kingdom, except it
brought salvation to the whole world, to the Gentiles as well as to the
Jews? Aptly then does the Apostle say here, that he was introduced into
the world, because in that Psalm what is described is his coming to men.
    The Hebrew word, rendered angels, is Elohim - gods; but there is no
doubt but that the Prophet speaks of angels; for the meaning is, that
there is no power so high but must be in subjection to the authority of
this king, whose advent was to cause joy to the whole world.

=====> 1:7  And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits,
and his ministers a flame of fire.
1:8  But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and
ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.
1:9  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God,
[even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy

=====> 1:7. "And to the angels", &c. To the angels means "of" the angels.
But the passage quoted seems to have been turned to another meaning from
what it appears to have; for as David is there describing the manner in
which we see the world to be governed, nothing is more certain than the
winds are mentioned, which he says are made messengers by the Lord, for
he employs them as his runners; so also, when he purifies the air by
lightnings, he shows what quick and swift ministers he has to obey his
orders. But this has nothing to do with angels. Some have had recourse to
an allegory, as though the Apostle explained the plain, and as they say,
the literal sense allegorically of angels. But it seems preferable to me
to consider this testimony is brought forward for this purpose, that it
might by a similitude be applied to angels, and in this way David
compares winds to angels, because they perform offices in this world
similar to what the angels do in heaven; for the winds are, as it were,
visible spirits. And, doubtless, as Moses, describing the creation of the
world, mentioned only those things which are subject to our senses, and
yet intended that higher things should be understood; so David in
describing the world and nature, represented to us on a tablet what ought
to be understood respecting the celestial orders. Hence I think that the
argument is one of likeness or similarity, when the Apostle transfers to
angels what properly applies to the winds.
=====> 1:8. "But to the Son", &c. It must indeed be allowed, that this
Psalm was composed as a marriage song for Solomon; for here is celebrated
his marriage with the daughter of the king of Egypt; but it cannot yet be
denied but that what is here related, is much too high to be applied to
Solomon. The Jews, that they may not be forced to own Christ to be called
God, make an evasion by saying, it at the throne of God is spoken of, or
that the verb "established" is to be understood. So that, according to
the first exposition, the word Elohim, God, is to be in construction with
throne, "the throne of God;" and that according to the second, it is
supposed to be a defective sentence. But these are mere evasions.
Whosoever will read the verse, who is of a sound mind and free from the
spirit of contention, cannot doubt but that the Messiah is called God.
Nor is there any reason to object, that the word Elohim is sometimes
given to angels and to judges; for it is never found to be given simply
to one person, except to God alone.
    Farther, that I may not contend about a word, whose throne can be
said to be established forever, except that of God only? Hence the
perpetuity of his kingdom is an evidence of his divinity.
    The "sceptre" of Christ's kingdom is afterwards called the sceptre of
righteousness; of this there were some, though obscure, lineaments in
Solomon; he exhibited them as far as he acted as a just king and zealous
for what was right. But righteousness in the kingdom of Christ has a
wider meaning; for he by his gospel, which is his spiritual sceptre,
renews us after the righteousness of God. The same thing must be also
understood of his love of righteousness; for he causes it to reign in his
own people, because he loves it.
=====> 1:9. "Wherefore God has appointed him", &c. This was indeed truly
said of Solomon, who was made a king, because God had preferred him to
his brethren, who were otherwise his equals, being the sons of the king.
But this applies more suitably to Christ, who has adopted us as his
jointheirs, though not so in our own right. But he was anointed above us
all, as it was beyond measure, while we, each of us, according to a
limited portion, as he has divided to each of us. Besides, he was
anointed for our sake, in order that we may all draw out of his fatness.
Hence he is the Christ, we are Christians proceeding from him, as rivulet
from a fountain. But as Christ received this unction when in the flesh,
he is said to have been anointed by his God; for it would be inconsistent
to suppose him inferior to God, except in his human nature.

=====> 1:10  And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation
of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
1:11  They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old
as doth a garment;
1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be
changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
1:13  But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right
hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
1:14  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for
them who shall be heirs of salvation?

=====> 1:10. "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning", &c. This testimony at
first sight may seem to be unfitly applied to Christ, especially in a
doubtful matter, such as is here handled; for the subject in dispute is
not concerning the glory of God, but what may be fitly applied to Christ.
Now, there is not in this passage any mention made of Christ, but the
majesty of God alone is set forth. I indeed allow that Christ is not
named in any part of the Psalm; but it is yet plain that he is so pointed
out, that no one can doubt but that his kingdom is there avowedly
recommended to us. Hence all the things which are found there, are to be
applied to his person; for in none have they been fulfilled but in
Christ, such as the following, - "Thou shalt arise and have mercy on
Sion, that the heathens may fear the name, and all the kings of the earth
thy glory." Again, - "When the nations shall be gathered together, and
the kingdoms, to serve the Lord." Doubtless, in vain shall we seek to
find this God through whom the whole world have united in one faith and
worship of God, except in Christ.
    All the other parts of the Psalm exactly suit the person of Christ,
such as the following, that he is the eternal God, the creator of heaven
and earth, that perpetuity belongs to him without any change, by which
his majesty is raised to the highest elevation, and he himself is removed
from the rank of all created beings.
    What David says about the heavens perishing, some explain by adding,
"Were such a thing to happen," as though nothing was affirmed. But what
need is there of such a strained explanation, since we know that all
creatures are subjected to vanity? For to what purpose is that renovation
promised, which even the heavens wait for with the strong desire as of
those in travail, except that they are now verging towards destruction?
    But the perpetuity of Christ which is here mentioned, brings no
common comfort to the godly; as the Psalm at last teaches us, they shall
be partakers of it, inasmuch as Christ communicates himself and what he
possesses to his own body.
=====> 1:13. "But to whom of the angels", &c. He again by another
testimony extols the excellency of Christ, that it might hence be evident
how much he is above the angels. The passage is taken from Psalms 110: 1,
and it cannot be explained of any but of Christ. For as it was not lawful
for kings to touch the priesthood, as is testified by the leprosy of
Uzziah; and as it appears that neither David, nor any other of his
successors in the kingdom, was ordained a priest, it follows, that a new
kingdom as well as a new priesthood is here introduced, since the same
person is made a king and a priest. Besides, the eternity of the
priesthood is suitable to Christ alone.
    Now, in the beginning of the Psalm he is set at God's right hand.
This form of expression, as I have already said, means the same, as
though it was said, that the second place was given him by the Father;
for it is a metaphor which signifies that he is the Father's vicegerent
and his chief minister in exercising authority, so that the Father rules
through him. No one of the angels bears so honorable an office; hence
Christ far excels all.
    "Until I make", &c. As there are never wanting enemies to oppose
Christ's kingdom, it seems not to be beyond the reach of danger,
especially as they who attempt to overthrow it possess great power, have
recourse to various artifices, and also make all their attacks with
furious violence. Doubtless, were we to regard things as they appear, the
kingdom of Christ would seem often to be on the verge of ruin. But the
promise, that Christ shall never be thrust from his seat, takes away from
us every fear; for ho will lay prostrate all his enemies. These two
things, then, ought to be borne in mind, - that the kingdom of Christ
shall never in this world be at rest, but that there will be many enemies
by whom it will be disturbed; and secondly, that whatever its enemies may
do, they shall never prevail, for the session of Christ at God's right
hand will not be for a time, but to the end of the world, and that on
this account all who will not submit to his authority shall be laid
prostrate and trodden under his feet
    If any one asks, whether Christ's kingdom shall come to an end, when
all his enemies shall be subdued; I give this answer, - that his kingdom
shall be perpetual, and yet in such a way as Paul intimates in 1 Col: 15:
25; for we are to take this view, - that God who is not known to us in
Christ, will then appear to us as he is in himself. And yet Christ will
never cease to be the head of men and of angels; nor will there be any
diminution of his honour. But the solution of this question must be
sought from that passage.
=====> 1:14. "Are they not all", &c. That the comparison might appear
more clearly, he now mentions what the condition of angels is. For
calling them "spirits", he denotes their eminence; for in this respect
they are superior to corporal creatures. But the office (|leitourgia|)
which he immediately mentions reduces them to their own rank, as it is
that which is the reverse of dominion; and this he still more distinctly
states, when he says, that they are sent to "minister". The first word
means the same, as though ale had said, that they were officials; but to
"minister" imports what is more humble and abject. The service which God
allots to angels is indeed honourable; but the very fact that they serve,
shows that they are far inferior to Christ, who is the Lord of all.
    If any one objects and says, that Christ is also called in many
places both a servant and a minister, not only to God, but also to men,
the reply may be readily given; his being a servant was not owing to his
nature, but to a voluntary humility, as Paul testifies, (Phil. 2: 7;) and
at the same time his sovereignty remained to his nature; but angels, on
the other hand, were created for this end, - that they might serve, and
to minister is what belongs to their condition. The difference then is
great; for what is natural to them is, as it were, adventitious or
accidental to Christ, because he took our flesh; and what necessarily
belongs to them, he of his own accord undertook. Besides, Christ is a
minister in such a way, that though he is in our flesh nothing is
diminished from the majesty of his dominion.
    From this passage the faithful receive no small consolation; for they
hear that celestial hosts are assigned to them as ministers, in order to
secure their salvation. It is indeed no common pledge of God's love
towards us, that they are continually engaged in our behalf. Hence also
proceeds a singular confirmation to our faith, that our salvation being
defended by such guardians, is beyond the reach of danger. Well then has
God provided for our infirmities by giving us such assistants to oppose
Satan, and to put forth their power in every way to defend us!
    But this benefit he grants especially to his chosen people; hence
that angels may minister to us, we must be the members of Christ. Yet
some testimonies of Scripture may on the other hand be adduced, to show
that angels are sometimes sent forth for the sake of the reprobate; for
mention is made by Daniel of the angels of the Persians and the Greeks.
(Dan. 10: 20.) But to this I answer, that they were in such a way
assisted by angels, that the Lord might thus promote the salvation of his
own people; for their success and their victories had always a reference
to the benefit of the Church. This is certain, that as we have been
banished by sin from God's kingdom, we can have no communion with angels
except through the reconciliation made by Christ; and this we may see by
the ladder shown in a vision to the patriarch Jacob.

Chapter 2

=====> 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things
which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.
2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every
transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them
that heard [him];
2:4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and
with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own

=====> 2:1. "Therefore we ought," &c. He now declares what he had before
in view, by comparing Christ with angels, even to secure the highest
authority to his doctrine. For if the Law given through angels could not
have been received with contempt, and if its transgression was visited
with severe punishment, what is to happen, he asks, to the despisers of
that gospel, which has the Son of God as its author, and was confirmed by
so many miracles? The import of the whole is this, that the higher the
dignity of Christ is than that of angels, the more reverence is due to
the Gospel than to the Law. Thus he commends the doctrine by mentioning
its author.
    But should it seem strange to any one, that as the doctrine both of
the Law and of the Gospel is from God, one should be preferred to the
other; inasmuch as by having the Law lowered the majesty of God would be
degraded; the evident answer would be this, - that he ought indeed always
to be heard with equal attention whenever he may speak, and yet that the
fuller he reveals himself to us, it is but right that our reverence and
attention to obedience should increase in proportion to the extent of his
revelations; not that God is in himself less at one time than at another;
but his greatness is not at all times equally made known to us.
    Here also another question arises. Was not the Law also given by
Christ? If so, the argument of the Apostle seems not to be well grounded.
To this I reply, that in this comparison regard is had to a veiled
revelation on one side, and to that which is manifest on the other. Now,
as Christ in bringing the Law showed himself but obscurely or darkly, and
as it were under coverings, it is nothing strange that the Law should be
said to have been brought by angels without any mention being made of his
name; for in that transaction he never appeared openly; but in the
promulgation of the Gospel his glory was so conspicuous, that he may
justly be deemed its author.
    "Lest at any time we should let them slip," or, "lest we should at
any time flow abroad," or, if you prefer, "let dip," though in reality
there is not much difference. The true sense is to be gathered from the
contrast; for to give heed, or to attend and to let slip, are opposites;
the first means to hold a thing, and the other to let off like a sieve,
or a perforated vessel, whatever may be poured into it. I do not indeed
approve of the opinion of those who take it in the sense of dying,
according to what we find in 2 Sam. 15: 14, "We all die and slide away
like water." On the contrary, we ought, as I have said, to regard the
contrast between attention and flowing out; an attentive mind is like a
vessel capable of holding water; but that which is roving and indolent is
like a vessel with holes.
=====> 2:2. "Steadfast," or "firm," or sure, &o.; that is, it was the
word of authority, for God required it to be believed; and that it was
authoritative, was made more evident by its sanctions; for no one
despised the law with impunity. Then firmness means authority; and what
is added respecting punishment ought to be understood as explanatory; for
it is evident the doctrine of which God shows himself to be the avenger,
is by no means unprofitable or unimportant.
=====> 2:3. "If we neglect so great a salvation," &c. Not only the
rejection of the Gospel, but also its neglect, deserves the heaviest
punishment, and that on account of the greatness of the grace which it
offers; hence he says, "so great a salvation". God would indeed leave his
gifts valued by us according to their worth. Then the more precious they
are, the baser is our ingratitude when we do not value them. In a word,
in proportion to the greatness of Christ will be the severity of God's
vengeance on all the despisers of his Gospel.
    And observe that the word salvation is transferred here 
metonymically to the doctrine of salvation; for as the Lord would not
have men otherwise saved than by the Gospel, so when that is neglected
the whole salvation of God is rejected; for it is God's power unto
salvation to those who believe. (Rom. 1: 16.) Hence he who seeks
salvation in any other way, seeks to attain it by another power than that
of God; which is an evidence of extreme madness. But this encomium is not
only a commendation of the Gospel, but is also a wonderful support to our
faith; for it is a testimony that the word is by no means unprofitable,
but that a sure salvation is conveyed by it.
    "Which at first began", &c. Here he sets the Son of God, the first
herald of the Gospel, in opposition to angels, and also anticipates what
was necessary to remove a doubt which might have crept into the minds of
many; for they had not been taught by the mouth of Christ himself, whom
the greatest part had never seen. If then they regarded only the man by
whose ministry they had been led to the faith, they might have made less
of what they had learnt from him; hence the Apostle reminded them, that
the doctrine which had been delivered them by others, yet proceeded from
Christ; for he says that those who had faithfully declared what had been
committed to them by Christ, had been his disciples. He therefore uses
the word, "was confirmed", as though he had said, that it was not a
random report, without any author, or from witnesses of doubtful credit,
but a report which was confirmed by men of weight and authority.
    Moreover, this passage indicates that this epistle was not written by
Paul; for he did not usually speak so humbly of himself, as to confess
that he was one of the Apostles' disciples, nor did he thus speak from
ambition, but because wicked men under a pretence of this kind attempted
to detract from the authority of his doctrine. Tt then appears evident
that it was not Paul who wrote that he had the Gospel by hearing and not
by revelation.

(continued in part 4...)

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