New English Translation
Introduction: God Has Spoken Fully and Finally in His Son
1 After God spoke long ago[a] in various portions[b] and in various ways[c] to our ancestors[d] through the prophets, 2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son,[e] whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.[f] 3 The Son is[g] the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word,[h] and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.[i] 4 Thus he became[j] so far better than the angels as[k] he has inherited a name superior to theirs.
The Son Is Superior to Angels
5 For to which of the angels did God[l] ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”?[m] And in another place[n] he says,[o] “I will be his father and he will be my son.”[p] 6 But when he again brings[q] his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!”[r] 7 And he says[s] of the angels, “He makes[t] his angels winds[u] and his ministers a flame of fire,”[v] 8 but of[w] the Son he says,[x]
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,[y]
and a righteous scepter[z] is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.
So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions[aa] with the oil of rejoicing.”[ab]
“You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord,[ac]
and the heavens are the works of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you continue.
And they will all grow old like a garment,
12 and like a robe you will fold them up
and like a garment[ad] they will be changed,
but you are the same and your years will never run out.”[ae]
13 But to which of the angels[af] has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?[ag] 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those[ah] who will inherit salvation?
Warning Against Drifting Away
2 Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels[ai] proved to be so firm that every violation[aj] or disobedience received its just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 4 while God confirmed their witness[ak] with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed[al] according to his will.
Exposition of Psalm 8: Jesus and the Destiny of Humanity
“What is man that you think of him[ao] or the son of man that you care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels for a little while.
You crowned him with glory and honor.[ap]
8 You put all things under his control.”[aq]
For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control,[ar] 9 but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while,[as] now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death,[at] so that by God’s grace he would experience[au] death on behalf of everyone. 10 For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist,[av] in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer[aw] of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin,[ax] and so[ay] he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,[az] 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers;[ba] in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.”[bb] 13 Again he says,[bc] “I will be confident in him,” and again, “Here I am,[bd] with[be] the children God has given me.”[bf] 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in[bg] their humanity,[bh] so that through death he could destroy[bi] the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), 15 and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death. 16 For surely his concern is not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham’s descendants. 17 Therefore he had[bj] to be made like his brothers and sisters[bk] in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement[bl] for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
Jesus and Moses
3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters,[bm] partners in a heavenly calling, take note of Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess,[bn] 2 who is faithful to the one who appointed him, as Moses was also in God’s[bo] house.[bp] 3 For he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself! 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s[bq] house[br] as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken. 6 But Christ[bs] is faithful as a son over God’s[bt] house. We are of his house,[bu] if in fact we hold firmly[bv] to our confidence and the hope we take pride in.[bw]
Exposition of Psalm 95: Hearing God’s Word in Faith
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,[bx]
“Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks![by]
8 “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness.
9 “There your fathers tested me and tried me,[bz] and they saw my works for forty years.
10 “Therefore, I became provoked at that generation and said, ‘Their hearts are always wandering[ca] and they have not known my ways.’
11 “As I swore in my anger, ‘They will never enter my rest!’”[cb]
12 See to it,[cc] brothers and sisters,[cd] that none of you has[ce] an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes[cf] the living God.[cg] 13 But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence[ch] firm until the end. 15 As it says,[ci] “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks![cj] Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”[ck] 16 For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership?[cl] 17 And against whom was God[cm] provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness?[cn] 18 And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? 19 So[co] we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.
- Hebrews 1:1 tn Or “spoke formerly.”
- Hebrews 1:1 tn Or “parts.” The idea is that God’s previous revelation came in many parts and was therefore fragmentary or partial (L&N 63.19), in comparison with the final and complete revelation contained in God’s Son. However, some interpret πολυμερῶς (polumerōs) in Heb 1:1 to mean “on many different occasions” and would thus translate “many times” (L&N 67.11). This is the option followed by the NIV “at many times and in various ways.” Finally, this word is also understood to refer to the different manners in which something may be done, and would then be translated “in many different ways” (L&N 89.81). In this last case, the two words πολυμερῶς and πολυτρόπως (polutropōs) mutually reinforce one another (“in many and various ways,” NRSV).
- Hebrews 1:1 tn These two phrases are emphasized in Greek by being placed at the beginning of the sentence and by alliteration.
- Hebrews 1:1 tn Grk “to the fathers.”
- Hebrews 1:2 tn The Greek puts an emphasis on the quality of God’s final revelation. As such, it is more than an indefinite notion (“a son”) though less than a definite one (“the son”), for this final revelation is not just through any son of God, nor is the emphasis specifically on the person himself. Rather, the focus here is on the nature of the vehicle of God’s revelation: He is no mere spokesman (or prophet) for God, nor is he merely a heavenly messenger (or angel); instead, this final revelation comes through one who is intimately acquainted with the heavenly Father in a way that only a family member could be. There is, however, no exact equivalent in English (“in son” is hardly good English style).sn The phrase in a son is the fulcrum of Heb 1:1-4. It concludes the contrast of God’s old and new revelation and introduces a series of seven descriptions of the Son. These descriptions show why he is the ultimate revelation of God.
- Hebrews 1:2 tn Grk “the ages.” The temporal (ages) came to be used of the spatial (what exists in those time periods). See Heb 11:3 for the same usage.
- Hebrews 1:3 tn Grk “who being…and sustaining.” Heb 1:1-4 form one skillfully composed sentence in Greek, but it must be broken into shorter segments to correspond to contemporary English usage, which does not allow for sentences of this length and complexity.
- Hebrews 1:3 tn Grk “by the word of his power.”
- Hebrews 1:3 sn An allusion to Ps 110:1, quoted often in Hebrews.
- Hebrews 1:4 tn Grk “having become.” This is part of the same sentence that extends from v. 1 through v. 4 in the Greek text.
- Hebrews 1:4 tn Most modern English translations attempt to make the comparison somewhat smoother by treating “name” as if it were the subject of the second element: “as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, CEV). However, the Son is the subject of both the first and second elements: “he became so far better”; “he has inherited a name.” The present translation maintains this parallelism even though it results in a somewhat more awkward rendering.sn This comparison is somewhat awkward to express in English, but it reflects an important element in the argument of Hebrews: the superiority of Jesus Christ.
- Hebrews 1:5 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Hebrews 1:5 tn Grk “I have begotten you.”sn A quotation from Ps 2:7.
- Hebrews 1:5 tn Grk “And again,” quoting another OT passage.
- Hebrews 1:5 tn The words “he says” are not in the Greek text but are supplied to make a complete English sentence. In the Greek text this is a continuation of the previous sentence, but English does not normally employ such long and complex sentences.
- Hebrews 1:5 tn Grk “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me.”sn A quotation from 2 Sam 7:14 (cf. 1 Chr 17:13).
- Hebrews 1:6 tn Or “And again when he brings.” The translation adopted in the text looks forward to Christ’s second coming to earth. Some take “again” to introduce the quotation (as in 1:5) and understand this as Christ’s first coming, but this view does not fit well with Heb 2:7. Others understand it as his exaltation/ascension to heaven, but this takes the phrase “into the world” in an unlikely way.
- Hebrews 1:6 sn A quotation combining themes from Deut 32:43 and Ps 97:7.
- Hebrews 1:7 sn The Greek correlative conjunctions μέν and δέ (men and de) emphasize the contrastive parallelism of vs. 7 (what God says about the angels) over against vv. 8-9 and vv. 10-12 (what God says about the son).
- Hebrews 1:7 tn Grk “He who makes.”
- Hebrews 1:7 tn Or “spirits” (so KJV, NKJV). The Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma) can mean either “wind” or “spirit” depending on the context. Since the context here concerns the superiority of the Son to the angels, many interpreters and most modern English translations see the present verse emphasizing the transitory or ephemeral nature of God’s other servants, the angels, and thus underscoring their inferiority to the Son.
- Hebrews 1:7 sn A quotation from Ps 104:4.
- Hebrews 1:8 tn Or “to.”
- Hebrews 1:8 tn The verb “he says” (λέγει, legei) is implied from the λέγει of v. 7.
- Hebrews 1:8 tn Or possibly, “Your throne is God forever and ever.” This translation is quite doubtful, however, since (1) in the context the Son is being contrasted to the angels and is presented as far better than they. The imagery of God being the Son’s throne would seem to be of God being his authority. If so, in what sense could this not be said of the angels? In what sense is the Son thus contrasted with the angels? (2) The μέν…δέ (men…de) construction that connects v. 7 with v. 8 clearly lays out this contrast: “On the one hand, he says of the angels…on the other hand, he says of the Son.” Thus, although it is grammatically possible that θεός (theos) in v. 8 should be taken as a predicate nominative, the context and the correlative conjunctions are decidedly against it. Hebrews 1:8 is thus a strong affirmation of the deity of Christ.
- Hebrews 1:8 tn Grk “the righteous scepter,” but used generically.
- Hebrews 1:9 sn God…has anointed you over your companions. God’s anointing gives the son a superior position and authority over his fellows.
- Hebrews 1:9 sn A quotation from Ps 45:6-7.
- Hebrews 1:10 sn You founded the earth…your years will never run out. In its original setting Ps 102:25-27 refers to the work of God in creation, but here in Hebrews 1:10-12 the writer employs it in reference to Christ, the Lord, making a strong argument for the essential deity of the Son.
- Hebrews 1:12 tc The words “like a garment” (ὡς ἱμάτιον, hōs himation) are found in excellent and early mss (P46 א A B D* 1739) though absent in a majority of witnesses (D1 Ψ 0243 0278 33 1881 M lat sy bo). Although it is possible that longer reading was produced by overzealous scribes who wanted to underscore the frailty of creation, it is much more likely that the shorter reading was produced by scribes who wanted to conform the wording to that of Ps 102:26 (101:27 LXX), which here lacks the second “like a garment.” Both external and internal considerations decidedly favor the longer reading, and point to the author of Hebrews as the one underscoring the difference between the Son and creation.sn The phrase like a garment here is not part of the original OT text (see tc note above); for this reason it has been printed in normal type.
- Hebrews 1:12 sn A quotation from Ps 102:25-27.
- Hebrews 1:13 sn The parallel phrases to which of the angels in vv. 5 and 13 show the unity of this series of quotations (vv. 5-14) in revealing the superiority of the Son over angels (v. 4).
- Hebrews 1:13 sn A quotation from Ps 110:1.
- Hebrews 1:14 tn Grk “sent for service for the sake of those.”
- Hebrews 2:2 sn The message spoken through angels refers to the OT law, which according to Jewish tradition was mediated to Moses through angels (cf. Deut 33:2; Ps 68:17-18; Acts 7:38, 53; Gal 3:19; and Jub. 1:27, 29; Josephus, Ant. 15.5.3 [15.136]).
- Hebrews 2:2 tn Grk “through angels became valid and every violation.”
- Hebrews 2:4 tn Grk “God bearing witness together” (the phrase “with them” is implied).
- Hebrews 2:4 tn Grk “and distributions of the Holy Spirit.”
- Hebrews 2:5 sn The phrase the world to come means “the coming inhabited earth,” using the Greek term which describes the world of people and their civilizations.
- Hebrews 2:5 sn See the previous reference to the world in Heb 1:6.
- Hebrews 2:6 tn Grk “remember him.”
- Hebrews 2:7 tc Several witnesses, many of them early and significant (א A C D* P Ψ 0243 0278 33 1739 1881 al lat co), have at the end of v 7, “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands.” Other mss, not quite as impressive in weight, lack the words (P46 B D2 M). In spite of the impressive external evidence for the longer reading, it is most likely a scribal addition to conform the text of Hebrews to Ps 8:6 (8:7 LXX). Conformity of a NT quotation of the OT to the LXX was a routine scribal activity, and can hardly be in doubt here as to the cause of the longer reading.
- Hebrews 2:8 tn Grk “you subjected all things under his feet.”sn A quotation from Ps 8:4-6.
- Hebrews 2:8 sn The expression all things under his control occurs three times in 2:8. The latter two occurrences are not exactly identical to the Greek text of Ps 8:6 quoted at the beginning of the verse, but have been adapted by the writer of Hebrews to fit his argument.
- Hebrews 2:9 tn Or “who was made a little lower than the angels.”
- Hebrews 2:9 tn Grk “because of the suffering of death.”
- Hebrews 2:9 tn Grk “would taste.” Here the Greek verb does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer from the word “taste”), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something” (cf. BDAG 195 s.v. γεύομαι 2).
- Hebrews 2:10 tn Grk “for whom are all things and through whom are all things.”
- Hebrews 2:10 sn The Greek word translated pioneer is used of a “prince” or leader, the representative head of a family. It also carries nuances of “trailblazer,” one who breaks through to new ground for those who follow him. It is used some thirty-five times in the Greek OT and four times in the NT, always of Christ (Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 2:10; 12:2).
- Hebrews 2:11 tn Grk “are all from one.”
- Hebrews 2:11 tn Grk “for which reason.”
- Hebrews 2:11 tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1, where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelphoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited). The context here also indicates both men and women are in view; note especially the collective τὰ παιδία (ta paidia) in v. 14.
- Hebrews 2:12 tn Here, because of its occurrence in an OT quotation, τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς (tois adelphois) has been translated simply as “brothers” rather than “brothers and sisters” (see the note on the latter phrase in the previous verse).
- Hebrews 2:12 sn A quotation from Ps 22:22.
- Hebrews 2:13 tn Grk “and again,” as a continuation of the preceding.
- Hebrews 2:13 tn Grk “behold, I,” but this construction often means “here is/there is” (cf. BDAG 468 s.v. ἰδού 2).
- Hebrews 2:13 tn Grk “and.”
- Hebrews 2:13 sn A quotation from Isa 8:17-18.
- Hebrews 2:14 tn Or “partook of” (this is a different word than the one in v. 14a).
- Hebrews 2:14 tn Grk “the same.”
- Hebrews 2:14 tn Or “break the power of,” “reduce to nothing.”
- Hebrews 2:17 tn Or “he was obligated.”
- Hebrews 2:17 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 2:11.
- Hebrews 2:17 tn Or “propitiation.”
- Hebrews 3:1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 2:11.
- Hebrews 3:1 tn Grk “of our confession.”
- Hebrews 3:2 tn Grk “his”; in the translation the referent (God) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 3:2 tc ‡ The reading adopted by the translation follows a few early mss and some versions (P13,46vid B vgms co Ambr). The majority of mss (א A C D Ψ 0243 0278 33 1739 1881 M lat sy) insert “all” (“in all his house”), apparently in anticipation of Heb 3:5 which quotes directly from Num 12:7. On balance, the omission better explains the rise of ὅλῳ (holō, “all”) than vice versa. NA28 puts ὅλῳ in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.
- Hebrews 3:5 tn Grk “his”; in the translation the referent (God) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 3:5 sn A quotation from Num 12:7.
- Hebrews 3:6 sn The Greek makes the contrast between v. 5 and v. 6a more emphatic and explicit than is easily done in English.
- Hebrews 3:6 tn Grk “his”; in the translation the referent (God) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 3:6 tn Grk “whose house we are,” continuing the previous sentence.
- Hebrews 3:6 tc The reading adopted by the translation is found in P13,46 B sa, while the vast majority of mss (א A C D Ψ 0243 0278 33 1739 1881 M latt) add μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν (mechri telous bebaian, “secure until the end”). The external evidence for the omission, though minimal, has excellent credentials. Considering the internal factors, B. M. Metzger (TCGNT 595) finds it surprising that the feminine adjective βεβαίαν should modify the neuter noun καύχημα (kauchēma, here translated “we take pride”), a fact that suggests that even the form of the word was borrowed from another place. Since the same phrase occurs at Heb 3:14, it is likely that later scribes added it here at Heb 3:6 in anticipation of Heb 3:14. While these words belong at 3:14, they seem foreign to 3:6.
- Hebrews 3:6 tn Grk “the pride of our hope.”
- Hebrews 3:7 sn The following quotation is from Ps 95:7b-11.
- Hebrews 3:7 tn Grk “today if you hear his voice.”
- Hebrews 3:9 tn Grk “tested me by trial.”
- Hebrews 3:10 tn Grk “they are wandering in the heart.”
- Hebrews 3:11 tn Grk “if they shall enter my rest,” a Hebrew idiom expressing an oath that something will certainly not happen.
- Hebrews 3:12 tn Or “take care.”
- Hebrews 3:12 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 2:11.
- Hebrews 3:12 tn Grk “that there not be in any of you.”
- Hebrews 3:12 tn Or “deserts,” “rebels against.”
- Hebrews 3:12 tn Grk “in forsaking the living God.”
- Hebrews 3:14 tn Grk “the beginning of the confidence.”
- Hebrews 3:15 tn Grk “while it is said.”
- Hebrews 3:15 tn Grk “today if you hear his voice.”
- Hebrews 3:15 sn A quotation from Ps 95:7b-8.
- Hebrews 3:16 tn Grk “through Moses.”
- Hebrews 3:17 tn Grk “he”; in the translation the referent (God) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 3:17 sn An allusion to God’s judgment pronounced in Num 14:29, 32.
- Hebrews 3:19 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “So” to indicate a summary or conclusion to the argument of the preceding paragraph.