Super ad Hebraeos
Commentary on Hebrews
85:8Non est similis tui in diis, Domine, et non est secundum opera tua.
85:8There is none among the gods like unto you, O Lord: and there is none according to your works.
1. In verbis istis exprimitur Christi excellentia quantum ad duo. Et primo quantum ad comparationem ad alios deos, cum dicit non est similis tui in diis, Domine, secundo per comparationem ad effectus, cum dicit et non est secundum opera tua.
1. In these words, Christ’s excellence is described under two aspects. First, as compared to other gods, when he says, there is none among the gods like unto you, O Lord; second, as reflected in his effects, when he says, and there is none according to your works.
2. Circa primum sciendum est, quod licet sit tantum unus Deus naturaliter, ut dicitur Deut. VI, 4: Dominus Deus tuus, Deus unus est, tamen participative et in caelo, et in terra sunt dii multi. I Cor. VIII, 5: sunt quidem dii multi et Domini multi.
2. In regard to the first, it should be noted that although there is but one God by nature: hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord (Deut 6:4), nevertheless, by participation there are many gods, both in heaven and on earth: for there are many gods, and many lords (1 Cor 8:5).
Nam dii quandoque dicuntur ipsi angeli, ut patet Iob I, 6 et II, 1: cum venissent filii Dei, ut assisterent coram Domino. Et quandoque prophetae, ut dicitur de Moyse, Exod. VII, 1: constitui te Deum Pharaonis. Item de sacerdotibus dicitur Exod. XXII, 28: diis, id est, sacerdotibus, non detrahes. Item ibi: si latet fur, Dominus domus applicabitur ad deos.
For angels are sometimes called gods: when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord (Job 1:6, 11); and also prophets, as is said of Moses: behold I have appointed you the god of Pharaoh (Exod 7:1); and priests: you shall not speak ill of the gods (Exod 22:28), i.e., of the priests: if the thief be not known, the master of the house shall be brought to the gods (Exod 22:8).
Sed angeli dicuntur dii, propter abundantissimam refulgentiam divinae claritatis. Iob c. XXV, 3: super quem non fulget lumen illius. angeli vero non sunt similes Christo in diis, qui est splendor paternae gloriae, ut dicitur infra I, 3. Eph. I, 20: constituens eum ad dexteram in caelestibus supra omnem principatum, et cetera.
Angels are called gods on account of their rich splendor of divine brightness: upon whom shall not his light arise? (Job 25:3). But angels are not like unto Christ among the gods, because he is the splendor of the Father’s glory (Heb 1:3); setting him on his right hand in the heavenly place above all principality and power (Eph 1:20).
Prophetae vero dicuntur dii, quia ad ipsos sermo Dei factus est. Io. X, 35 illos dixit deos ad quos sermo Dei factus est. Ergo multo excellentius est Deus Christus, qui est substantialiter ipsum Verbum Dei.
The prophets are called gods because the word of God was spoken to them: he called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken (John 10:35). Therefore, Christ is God in some more excellent way, because he is the substantial Word of God.
Sacerdotes vero dicuntur dii, quia Dei ministri. Is. LXI, 6: vos sacerdotes Domini, vocabimini ministri Dei. Sed Christus multo fortius, qui non est minister, sed Dominus universorum, Esth. XIII, 11; item Apoc. XIX, v. 16: Dominus dominantium; et infra: tamquam Dominus in omni domo sua. Christus ergo Deus magnus super omnes deos, quia splendor, quia Verbum, quia Dominus est.
Priests are called gods because they are God’s ministers: you shall be called priests of the Lord, you ministers of our God (Isa 61:6). But Christ is God in a stronger sense, for he is not a minister but the Lord of all (Esth 13:11); and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16); and below: but Christ, as the Son in his own house (Heb 3:6). Christ, therefore, is the great God above all the gods, because he is the splendor, the Word, and the Lord.
3. Secundo manifestatur haec excellentia per effectus, cum dicitur et non est secundum opera tua, ubi sciendum est quod triplex est opus excellens Christi. Unum quod se extendit ad totam creaturam, scilicet opus creationis. Io. I, 3: omnia per ipsum facta sunt. Aliud quidem tantum ad creaturam rationalem, quae per Christum illuminatur, quod est illuminationis. Io. I, 9: erat lux vera, et cetera. Tertium est iustificationis, quod pertinet tantum ad sanctos, qui per ipsum per gratiam vivificantem vivificantur et iustificantur. Io. I, 4: et vita erat lux hominum.
3. Second, this excellence is shown by his works; hence, it says, and there is none according to your works. Here it should be noted that the matchless work of Christ is threefold: one work extends to every creature, namely, the work of creation: all things were made through him (John 1:3); a second work extends to the rational creature, who is enlightened by Christ, namely, the work of enlightenment: he was the true light which enlightens every man (John 1:9); the third work extends to justification, which pertains only to the saints, who are vivified and sanctified by him, i.e., by life-giving grace: and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).
His enim tribus modis non possunt operari dii praedicti. angeli enim non sunt creatores, sed creaturae. Ps. CIII, 4: qui facis angelos tuos spiritus, et cetera. Prophetae etiam sunt illuminati, non illuminantes. Io. I, 8: non erat ille lux, et cetera. Sacerdotes etiam non iustificabant. Infra X, 4: impossibile est enim sanguine hircorum et taurorum auferri peccata.
Now, the other gods cannot perform these works: for the angels are not creators, but creatures: who make your angels spirits (Ps 104:4); prophets are enlightened and not enlighteners: he was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light (John 1:8); and priests do not justify: it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away (Heb 10:4).
4. Ergo manifeste in verbis istis demonstratur Christi excellentia, et haec est materia huius epistolae ad Hebraeos, quae ab aliis distinguitur.
4. The excellence of Christ is thus clearly shown in these words; and this is the subject matter of this epistle to the Hebrews, and that by which it is distinguished from the other epistles.
Quia in quibusdam epistolis agitur de gratia Novi Testamenti quantum ad totum corpus mysticum Ecclesiae, et hoc in omnibus epistolis quas mittit Ecclesiis, in ea scilicet quae est ad Romanos, ad Corinthios, ad Galatas, et usque ad primam ad Timotheum. In quibusdam vero quantum ad membra principalia, sicut in his quas mittit singularibus personis, scilicet ad Timotheum, ad Titum, et ad Philemonem. In ista vero commendat ipsam gratiam quantum ad caput, scilicet Christum; in corpore enim Ecclesiae ista tria reperiuntur sicut et in corpore naturali, scilicet ipsum corpus mysticum, membra principalia, scilicet praelati et maiores, et caput, a quo vita fluit in totum corpus, scilicet Christus.
For some of the epistles deal with the grace of the New Testament, so far as it extends to the whole mystical body of the Church. This is the theme of all the epistles he sent to the churches, i.e., to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, up to the first epistle to Timothy. In the others, he treats of this grace insofar as it extends to individual persons, namely, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. But in the epistle to the Hebrews, he treats of this grace inasmuch as it pertains to the head, namely, Christ. For these three things are found in the body of the Church, just as they are found in the natural body, namely: the mystical body itself; its chief members, namely, prelates and rulers; and the head, namely, Christ, from whom life flows to all the members.
5. Sed antequam accedamus ad divisionem, sciendum est quod ante synodum Nicaenam, quidam dubitaverunt an ista epistola esset Pauli.
5. But before we come to the task of dividing this epistle, it should be noted that before the Council of Nicaea, some doubted that this was one of Paul’s epistles.
Et quod non, probant duobus argumentis. Unum est, quia non tenet hunc modum quem in aliis epistolis. Non enim praemittit hic salutationem, nec nomen suum. Aliud est, quia non sapit stylum aliarum, imo habet elegantiorem, nec est aliqua Scriptura quae sic ordinate procedat in ordine verborum, et sententiis, sicut ista. Unde dicebant ipsam esse vel Lucae Evangelistae, vel Barnabae, vel Clementis Papae. Ipse enim scripsit Atheniensibus quasi per omnia secundum stylum istum.
This was for two reasons: first, because it does not follow the pattern of the other epistles. For there is no salutation and no name of the author. Second, it does not have the style of the others; indeed, it is more elegant. Furthermore, no other work of Scripture proceeds in such an orderly manner in the sequence of words and sentences as this one. Hence, they said that it was the work of Luke the evangelist, or of Barnabas, or of Pope Clement. For he wrote to the Athenians according to this style.
Sed antiqui doctores, praecipue Dionysius et aliqui alii, accipiunt verba huius epistolae pro testimoniis Pauli. Et Hieronymus illam inter epistolas Pauli recipit.
Nevertheless, the old doctors, especially Dionysius and certain others, accept the words of this epistle as being Paul’s testimony. Jerome, too, acknowledges it as Paul’s epistle.
Ad primum ergo dicendum est, quod triplex ratio fuit quare non posuit nomen suum. Una est, quia non erat apostolus Iudaeorum, sed gentium. Gal. II, 8: qui operatus est Petro in apostolatum circumcisionis, operatus est et mihi inter gentes, et cetera. Et ideo non fecit mentionem de apostolatu suo in principio huius epistolae, quia nolebat officium sui apostolatus insinuare, nisi ipsis gentibus. Secunda, quia nomen suum Iudaeis erat odiosum, cum diceret legalia non debere servari, ut patet Act. XV, 2 ss. Et ipsum tacuit, ne saluberrima doctrina huius epistolae abiiceretur. Tertia, quia Iudaeus erat. Hebraei sunt? Et ego, II Cor. XI, 22. Et domestici non bene sustinent excellentiam suorum. Non est propheta sine honore nisi in patria sua, et in domo sua, Matth. XIII, 57.
To the first argument, therefore, one may respond that there are three reasons why Paul did not write his name: first, because he was not the apostle of the Jews but of the gentiles: he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the gentiles (Gal 2:8); consequently, he made no mention of his apostleship at the beginning of this epistle, because he was unwilling to speak of it except to the gentiles. Second, because his name was odious to the Jews, since he taught that the observances of the law were no longer to be kept, as is clear from Acts (Acts 15:2). Consequently, he concealed his name, lest the salutary doctrine of this epistle go for naught. Third, because he was a Jew: they are Hebrews: so am I (2 Cor 11:22); and fellow countrymen find it hard to endure greatness in their own: a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house (Matt 13:57).
Ad argumentum secundum, dicendum est, quod ideo est elegantior in stylo, quia etsi sciebat omnem linguam I Cor. XIV, 18: omnium vestrum lingua loquor, tamen melius sciebat Hebraeam tamquam sibi magis connaturalem, in qua scripsit epistolam istam. Et ideo magis ornate potuit loqui in idiomate suo, quam in aliquo alio. Unde dicit II Cor. XI, 6: etsi imperitus sermone, sed non scientia. Lucas autem qui fuit optimus prolocutor, istum ornatum transtulit de Hebraeo in Graecum.
To the second argument the answer might be given that the style is more elegant because even though he knew many languages: I speak with all your tongues (1 Cor 14:18), he knew the Hebrew language better than the others, for it was his native tongue, the one in which he wrote this epistle. As a result, he could write more ornately in his own idiom than in some other language; hence, he says: for though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge (2 Cor 11:6). But Luke, who was a skillful writer, translated this ornate Hebrew into Greek.
Greatness of Christ
Deus in Filio locutus est
God speaks by the Son
1:1 Multifariam, multisque modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis: [n. 6]
1:1 God, who, in many ways and in diverse manners, speaking in times past to the fathers in the prophets, [n. 6]
1:2 novissime, diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio, quem constituit haeredem universorum, per quem fecit et saecula: [n. 14]
1:2 Last of all, in these days, has spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. [n. 14]
6. Scripsit autem epistolam istam contra errores quorumdam, qui ex Iudaismo ad fidem Christi conversi, volebant servare legalia cum Evangelio, quasi non sufficeret gratia Christi ad salutem.
6. He wrote this epistle against the errors of those converts from Judaism who wanted to preserve the legal observances along with the Gospel, as though Christ’s grace were not sufficient for salvation.
Unde et dividitur in duas partes.
Hence it is divided into two parts.
Primo enim multipliciter commendat excellentiam Christi, ut per hoc praeferat Novum Testamentum Veteri; secundo agit de his per quae membra iunguntur capiti, scilicet de fide infra, XI cap., ibi est autem fides.
In the first he extols Christ’s grandeur in order to show the superiority of the New Testament over the Old; in the second part, he discusses what unites the members to the head, namely, faith, at now, faith is the substance (Heb 11:1).
Intendit autem ostendere excellentiam Novi ad Vetus Testamentum per excellentiam Christi, quantum ad tres personas solemnes in ipso Veteri Testamento contentas, scilicet angelos, per quos lex tradita est. Gal. III, 19: ordinata per angelos in manu mediatoris, et cetera. Quantum ad Moysen, a quo, vel per quem data est. Io. I, 17: lex per Moysen data est, et Deut. ult.: non surrexit ultra propheta, et cetera. Quantum ad sacerdotium per quod ministrabatur, infra: in priori tabernaculo semper introibant sacerdotes sacrificiorum, officia consummantes, et cetera.
But he intends to show the New Testament’s superiority over the Old by proving Christ’s preeminence over three sacred persons of the Old Testament, namely, the angels, by whom the law was handed down: the law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Gal 3:19); Moses, by whom or through whom it was given: the law was given by Moses (John 1:17); there arose no more a prophet in Israel like unto Moses (Deut 3:10); and the priesthood, by which it was administered: into the first tabernacle, the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices (Heb 9:6).
Unde primo praefert Christum angelis;
First, therefore, he favors Christ over the angels;
secundo Moysi, III cap., ibi unde fratres;
second, over Moses, at wherefore, holy brethren (Heb 3:1);
sed tertio, sacerdotio Veteris Testamenti, V cap., ibi omnis namque pontifex.
third, over the priesthood of the Old Testament, at for every high priest (Heb 5:1).
Circa primum duo facit, quia
In regard to the first, he does two things:
primo praefert Christum angelis in isto capite;
first, he favors Christ over the angels in this chapter;
secundo concludit qualis reverentia exhibenda sit novae legi, II capite, ibi propter hoc abundantius.
second, he defines what kind of reverence should be given to the new law, at therefore ought we more diligently to observe (Heb 2:1).
Adhuc circa primum duo facit, quia
Concerning the first he does two things: