It is of the highest importance then that the believer should wake up to his due place according to the call of grace. Christ as He now is makes His relationship evident. By Him and to Him where He sits at God’s right hand we are called. It is therefore in the fullest sense a heavenly calling. Old things not evil things only, are passed away. We are by faith associated with the glorified Christ who, having accomplished redemption, is on that ground gone into heaven, so as to confer on the faithful a heavenly relationship. All that is distinctive of the Christian accordingly is in contrast with the ancient people of God, whose position, associations, worship, and hope were earthly, though ordered of God. The danger of the Christian therefore, and especially for the Hebrew Christian, was a lapse into earthly things which was the more easily done as the O.T. was no less divinely inspired than the New, and hence might plausibly be pleaded to justify such a return.
“Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us press on unto full growth [lit. perfection], not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith in God, of teaching of washings and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of dead [persons], and of everlasting judgment; and this will we do if God permit” (verses 1-3).
We could not be exhorted in any just sense to leave “the principles” of the doctrine of Christ. For first principles never become antiquated. Nor does the text really say so here, any more than it does in truth speak slightingly of, “the first principles of the oracles of God” in Heb. 5:12. “Principles” or “first principles” of Christianity it is of all moment to apprehend and hold fast; and in fact the Epistle insists on this from first to last. It was here the Hebrew confessors of Christ were weak. They had faintly if at all realised the truth that was wrapped up in the person of Christ and in the facts on which the gospel is based. They were occupied with whatever lay short of His death, resurrection, and ascension, with a Messiah known after the flesh. But these were such “rudiments” as were in keeping with Him on earth, when the Holy Spirit was not yet given and the words the Lord spoke were dimly understood. Indeed many things He had yet to say which they could not then bear. This was but “the beginning of the oracles of God”; whereas the principles of the doctrine of Christ would better express that profound connection of truth with fundamental facts and Christ’s person which characterises the Epistles of Paul and John. What is really meant here is “the word of the beginning of Christ,” that which was revealed in the days of His flesh and in due time recorded as His ministry in the Gospels. To limit the soul to this, perfect as it was in its season and in itself, is to do without that blessed use of His redemption and heavenly headship which the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to preach and teach, and which we have permanently in the apostolic writings. His cross totally changed the standing of the believer. To ignore this is in fact to stop short of full and proper Christianity, to remain infants, where the Lord would have His own to reach their majority. Let us not slight the riches of His grace.
“Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us press on unto full growth.” The new status of the Christian depends on Christ dead, risen, and in heaven. The infinite sacrifice is already offered and accepted; and only so has Christ taken His seat on the right hand of the Majesty on high. We cannot therefore go to elements before the cross for that which forms and fashions the Christian. We, if full-grown, need the corn of the land, now that it is no longer a question of raining manna in the wilderness.
The various English versions are disappointing. Wiclif seems to have read or mistaken “immittentes” for “intermittentes” in the Vulgate, for he has the strange error of “bringing in,” etc., instead of leaving off. And Tyndale is loose indeed: let us leave the doctryne pertayninge to the beginninge of a Christen man.” In result it is not far from the general sense, though intolerable as a translation. Cranmer’s Bible and the Genevese followed Tyndale less or more closely. The Rhemish, save in its servile adherence to the Latin, is more exact than any; for even the A. and the R.Vv., as we have seen, might mislead in the text, though precise in the margin. The Revisers rightly gave “full grown” for perfect in Heb. 5:14; consistency would therefore demand “full growth” here. For it is not the quite ignorant who fail to understand that “Perfection” means only this, the adult standing of the Christian as compared with infancy before redemption. But the enemy has a hand in keeping believers back now, while this Epistle chides the Hebrews for the same culpable dulness in early days.
The statement in the chapter before, that Christ having been made perfect became, to all those that obey Him, Author of eternal salvation, helps much to see what perfection or full growth means here. Till then the saints could not rise above promise. Now whatever, or how many soever, be the promises of God, in Him is the Yea, and in Him the Amen for glory to God by us. Till redemption the Spirit of prophecy could say that God’s salvation was near to come, and His righteousness to be revealed. But the gospel declares that His righteousness has been manifested, and that the believer has eternal life and receives the end of His faith, even soul-salvation, though we have to wait for that of the body yet. Meanwhile those that are Christ’s are cleansed once for all, not only sanctified through the offering of Christ, but perfected in perpetuity (
εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς), as Heb. 10 tells us unhesitatingly. The Holy Ghost, instead of keeping our guilt continually before us, testifies that through Christ’s work God will remember our sins and iniquities no more. Thus for the Christian, with full remission, there is no more offering for sins; and hence he has boldness to enter the holies by the blood of Jesus. Those that by faith seize this, the truth of the gospel, are no more under age, held in bondage (as the apostle says elsewhere) under the rudiments of the world. By the faith of Him who died and rose we receive the adoption of sons, and through His Spirit cry, Abba, Father. So we draw nigh.
It was here the Hebrews were slow to hear and learn of God. They did not doubt that Jesus was the Christ; but they were dull to own both the full glory of His person and the present eternal efficacy of His work. This failure in faith kept them babes, and for this they are blamed; for God could not reveal more distinctly the dignity of Christ, nor could Father, Son, and Holy Ghost add to the fulness of what His cross is to God as well as to the believer. The Holy Spirit is come down from the glory of heaven to attest what Christ is there, and what His work has done for all those that believe in Him. Entrance by faith into this portion is full growth.
It was really going back from heavenly glory and eternal redemption on the part of all who refused to go forward into the full privileges of the gospel, content to know no more than what the disciples had before the cross. All they had then did not give them peace with God, for it did not cleanse their consciences. The middle wall of partition stood unbroken. There was no access for them into the holies, nor had they the Spirit of adoption. Neither the sting of death was gone, nor the power of sin annulled. Full growth implies, on the contrary, all this blessedness, and more; and to this the Hebrews are here exhorted to go on. It is not attainment, but simple faith in the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, in a word Christianity. Alas! how many who call themselves Christians, as sincere believers as the Hebrews addressed, are no less than they looking behind, instead of moving on to the enjoyment by faith of the risen Saviour, and of their nearness to His God and Father!
The next words give a sample of the things that occupied those who were not full grown, from which they are here dissuaded: “not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God.” It was all well to have laid such a foundation once; it was childish to be ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Repentance is indispensable for a sinful man; faith in God must ever be in a saint. But eternal life is now bestowed, Christ sent as propitiation, and the Holy Ghost given to us. Is all this to leave believers where they were? Take again yet lower things, “of doctrine of washings and imposition of hands.” These had their place, as we know, and many heed them much now as then, external though they are and in no way perfecting the worshipper as touching the conscience. The “washings” may include John’s baptism, or that of the disciples, though the word slightly differs in its form; and the laying on of hands was certainly an ancient sign of blessing, which we see practised in various ways even after the gospel. But those whose hearts dwell in such signs and set not their mind on things above betray the symptoms of their infantine condition. God has provided some better thing for us. They are among the things whatever their teaching might be, which the light of the glory now revealed in Christ leaves in the shade. So again with the still weightier doctrine “of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.” No Christian denies either for a moment, but acknowledges both truths; yet he looks for his blessing at Christ’s coming, as he knows from His own lips that judgment awaits only those who reject Him, and that believers are to rise in the contrasted resurrection of life and do not come into judgment.
Let souls beware then of labour in vain that diverts from better blessing, “And this we will do, if God permit.” For yet another and urgent danger is set before the Hebrew Christians, not a little connected with obstinate clinging to old things however infantine, or a yet more ensnaring return of affection for them after being apparently weaned.
God had put honour upon the Son of man, not only here below (Acts 2:23. 10:38), but yet more when redemption had vindicated Him, and overthrown Satan, and made not only righteousness but heavenly glory available for man in sovereign grace. The consequence was an outburst of divine light and a display of power of the Spirit in man, such as had never been, and such as could never be otherwise. The time for the public deliverance of the world is not yet come, though Jesus the Lord of lords and King of kings sits at God’s right hand. In fact another and still more intimately. blessed work is in hand, the call of the heavenly saints, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, His body and even to be His bride, though the marriage be not yet come. These He is gathering by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Meanwhile the Spirit could not but bear witness of the victory over evil and death and Satan already achieved by the risen and ascended Christ Hence the power that wrought at Pentecost and afterward according to the promise of the Lord, a promise amply fulfilled.
For His was title, not only to give eternal life to as many as the Father gave Him, but over all flesh. And the Lord manifested power not only in the apostles, but in multitudes of others. It was never guaranteed to be all the days till the end with His servants, as His presence was. If we in these days cannot speak of it, let us have grace at least to feel and own why this is, and how little His saints know deliverance from that which dishonours Him and makes it morally questionable whether such a display could be now without compromising the truth. For how consistently could there be such a divine energy shed on all Christians after being gathered in one when scattered again to the shame of His name? How could one company be singled out to have such an honour conferred without the most imminent danger of self-satisfaction or of despite done to others? That grace works by God’s word and Spirit, wherever Christ is preached, is a proof of His faithful goodness and unfailing purpose; as also that faith may and ought to see His will for His own to walk together according to His immutable word and with becoming lowliness, so as to please Him, is ever true and binding. But it must be owned that the church is stripped of her ornaments, and justly.
Now this system of power and privilege had naturally great attraction in early days for the Hebrew saints, as for others, notably the Corinthians, as we may gather from the First Epistle. And those not born of God, who therefore could not appreciate aright either their own evil and ruin or the immense grace of God in Christ and His work, would naturally dwell much on that which so distinguished the Christian confession. Hence the Holy Spirit leads to a setting forth of a real and fatal peril for all who idolised visible power and slighted the far deeper wonders of unseen things. All other displays, though subserving the glory of the Lord, were altogether subordinate to the grace of God in which He tasted death, annulled Satan’s power, made propitiation, and thus laid a righteous and everlasting basis for all blessing to God’s glory, but to each purpose in God’s time, yet for ever.
“For those that were once enlightened, and tasted the heavenly gift, and became partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted God’s good word and powers of [an] age to come, and fell away, [it is] impossible to renew again unto repentance, crucifying for themselves as they do and putting to shame the Son of God. For land that drank the rain that often cometh upon it, and bringeth forth herbage meet for those for whose sake it is also tilled, partaketh of blessing from God; but Yielding thorns and thistles [it is] worthless and near a curse, the end of which [is] to be burned” (verses 4-8).
It is observable that we read here of enlightenment, not of new birth or eternal life. Undoubtedly the heavenly gift comes before us; and so it is not earthly like the associations of the Messiah, but “heavenly” because of contrast with Canaan hopes. How great a boon that God is now revealing heavenly grace! Further, it is not the old and essential truth of the Holy Spirit quickening a soul by the word, still less of now sealing the believer and for ever dwelling in him. We must not forget that He was sent down also to constitute the assembly God’s habitation; so that all introduced therein were in a general way partakers of the Spirit. Whoever bowed to the gospel tasted God’s word as good, and received it with joy as of far different savour from that law which was a ministration of death and condemnation. Then the powers exercised in casting out demons, healing, and the like, were samples of the age to come when they will be fully displayed, under the reign of the Son of man.
Now the substance of Christian privileges remains, and must as long as the church lives on earth and the gospel of Christ’s glory is preached. There is real light of God shining on souls, not the dark or the dimness which could not but be before the gospel. It is still a heavenly calling, not an earthly one. Again, it is not of God to put forward His law when His Spirit is here still more fully to demonstrate sin, righteousness, and judgment to the world. And His word showing (not law nor promise only, but) accomplishment in Christ is surely “good”; as it is for all the baptised at least to taste that it is good, even if there be no longer the powers of the coming age, as we see them notably absent from the seven churches of the Revelation. But to give up all this, after having once profited by its wondrous excellence in the name of the glorified Jesus, is fatal. For what more can grace do or give to act on souls? If the Jews rejected the Messiah on earth, the Holy Spirit could and did meet them with a call to repentance and remission in His name exalted by and at God’s right hand. But after having confessed Him on high and shared these privileges and powers, as members of the heavenly firm (which the baptised are, in privilege and responsibility), to fall away is to forfeit all. Yea too, there is no more resource in the treasures of grace. God has no fresh and higher way of presenting Christ to act on such for recovery. Therefore is it added for those that “fell away” that it is “impossible to renew such again unto repentance, crucifying for themselves as they do and putting to shame the Son of God.” There had been Christ here in humiliation; there is Christ in glory above: what more, deeper, higher, has God to win the heart by?
There is no such hope now as a Messiah after the flesh. Him the Jewish people definitely cast out. If any had known Him so, henceforth He was thus known no more. He is the Christ dead, risen, and glorified in heaven. This is the Christian faith. To this the believer must go on, to Christ not on earth but on high with its blessed consequences. To lay hold of Him thus is “perfection” or full growth.
Carefully notice how the scripture before us guards us from confounding light and power with life. Not a word implies that those that fell away were ever quickened in the Christ, or sealed with the Spirit, or baptised in His energy into the one body. It is simply the case of disciples walking no more with Christ, stumbling at the truth or its consequences. So it was when He was here; so it followed when He sat on high with aggravation of guilt, as is here shown, for those that since fell away. Light shone, goodness was tasted, evidence abundant and undeniable; yet they fell away, through (not ignorance but) selfwill which could not bear God’s will. They undoubtedly and fatally shrank from the tribulation through which we must enter the kingdom.
The illustration that follows confirms this fully. It was bad land, fruitful only in thorns and thistles, instead of a good return for the rain drunk in from above. Only grace in an evil world makes the heart good soil to bring forth herbs or fruit meet for those for whose sake also it is tilled. The Spirit uses the word to deal with the ungodly, ploughs up the soul, as well as sows the incorruptible seed of the word of God which lives and abides. This is a wholly different thing from seeing the beauty and reasonableness of “the plan of salvation,” and still more the unanswerable proofs from evidence: from both people may and do fall away on pressure.
So it is now in Christendom. What is it generally but land18 that has drunk the rain that comes oft upon it, but, instead of bringing forth meet herbs, bears thorns and thistles? By God’s word it is therefore rejected and nigh unto a curse (Luke 17:28-37; Rom. 11:21, 22; 1 Cor. 10:1-15; 2 Thess. 2; 2 Tim. 3, 4; Rev. 17). Is not its end to be burned? See 2 Thess. 1:7-10. The power displayed has long vanished to zero; but the awful fact is that the classes and the masses are alike departing from the truth of the gospel into a superstitious aping of effete and condemned Judaism, or into a still more audacious return to heathenism in the form of its unbelieving philosophy. And the retrogression both ways in our day is amazingly rapid and unblushing
But the apostle did not so think of those who stand, be it ever so feebly, while others go away. Continuance in good is of God, who had not left His own without other tokens of life. For the trees are not dead which bear a little fruit. And to this we are directed in the encouraging, words that follow.
“But, beloved, we are persuaded of you things better and akin to salvation, if even we thus speak. For God [is] not unrighteous to forget our work and the love19 which ye showed to his name, in that ye ministered to the saints and do minister. And we earnestly desire that each of you may show the same diligence in regard to the full assurance of hope till the end; that ye become not sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and long-suffering inherit the promises” (verses 9-12).
That we renounce all other dependence save Christ as our lord and Saviour is the faith that saves the soul, the one unchanging resting-place for every one conscious of his sins and of the evil of the nature that bore them, as ready as ever to break out unless we be kept by God’s grace in the secret that we died to sin with Christ, and hence are free to live unto righteousness. Others cannot see this, but they may and ought to see in the Christian the fruits of the Spirit; as here the apostle, after so solemnly admonishing, could cheer the saints by the “better things” he was persuaded concerning them.
“Next” is a frequent sense of the term (
ἐχ.) employed. Here it is modified by the context, as often in ordinary Greek, and means not “following,” but “pertaining to” or “connected with” salvation. God is love, and “love” is of God, who has pleasure in reality of “work” rather than in the ideas which begin and end with man; and what is he to be accounted of? Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils. He who alone avails is near to all that call upon Him. But if faith is the inlet of all that is divine, it works by love, and thus affords testimony to others. Nor is it only those that believe and love who hail every good fruit, but God is not unjust to forget what His grace produces in “your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered and do minister to his saints.” So will our Lord when He sits on His throne as Son of man say to the Gentiles that are on His right hand, “Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it to me.”
But it is false and foolish to say that love can be without faith. Yet the acceptable work is what is shown toward His name, and very especially in service to His saints. One may have all faith as a gift, so as to remove mountains; but without love one is nothing. Yea, if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if in courage and zeal I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me to nothing Christ is the true touchstone. “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.” Then “whosoever loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him as on the other hand “hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments.” This may not be Aristotelian logic; nor is it science; but it is the sole true and divine charity. And as it had been known in these Hebrew saints, so the apostle sees it going on. For the love which is of God is not blind but discerns clearly, as the eye is single.
Yet was there a lack which he longs to see filled up. “And we earnestly desire that each of you may show the same diligence as regards the full assurance of hope till the end.” He was far from slighting hope any more than faith, because love is the greatest, abiding in fullest exercise when faith and hope vanish in the brightness of heavenly and everlasting fruition. For we are yet here below, though free of the sanctuary by faith, and entitled to regard heaven as our proper fatherland; as Christ is there our life, and the Holy Spirit is here to give us present enjoyment, the earnest of the inheritance. Therefore do we need to be kept from the present things that are seen, by our eyes fixing on the glory that is eternal and unseen (2 Cor. 4). And we reckon wrong if we do not reckon with the apostle, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. Hope that is seen is not hope — for who hopeth for that which he seeth? But if we hope for that which we see not, with patience we wait.
It was here also that a failure was discerned, though pointed out with the delicacy of love, that they might show the same diligence as in what he delighted to own. So he here longs for the like “as to the full assurance of hope till the end.” So only does hope exercise its power. Earthly hopes indulged are as destructive to the divine hope God gives, as other objects trusted are wholly inconsistent with living faith. Nothing less than the full assurance of hope could satisfy the apostle’s heart for the saints; as he adds, “that ye become not sluggish but imitators of those who through faith and long-suffering inherit the promises.” We need all whereby the Holy Spirit acts on our souls; and in this, as He employs the written word of God, so He is ever glorifying Christ and endearing Him to our hearts. We cannot afford to let our souls turn aside from what is revealed, nor even to make such a favourite of a part of what is revealed as to slight the rest. And assuredly the glory Christ gives is bright enough to call for full assurance of hope and to keep the blessed end in full view. Otherwise we become sluggish or dull where we ought to be earnest and keenly awake, “imitators” of the saints of old, “of those who through faith and long-suffering inherit the promises.” The present here, as often elsewhere, is not the mere historical force, but the ethical or abstract. The inheritors of the promises have their faith put to the proof and their longsuffering in habitual exercise. “Blessed is he that endureth temptation; for, when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which he hath promised to them that love him.”
The desire that the saints should imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises at once recalls the father of the faithful in a way intended to strengthen their confidence.
“For God having made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, swore by himself saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee; and thus having patiently endured he obtained the promise. For men swear by the greater, and to them the oath [is] an end of all dispute for confirmation: wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his counsel, intervened by an oath that through two unchanceable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have strong encouragement, who fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before [us], which we have as anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast and entering into the [part] within the veil; where as forerunner for us entered Jesus, become for ever high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (verses 13-20).
When faith grows dim, earthly things take the place of the heavenly objects that once filled the heart. The danger for these believing Jews remains for others, and indeed is urgent in the actual state of Christendom. A religion of antiquity has great attraction for some; so has social position for others. Both are of the earth, and irreconcilable with Him who was crucified by priests and governors (the highest that the world then knew), but is now crowned with glory in heaven. The faith of Him thus presented (and it is the essence of the gospel) is intended to form the heart and life of all that bear His name. When the truth shines brightly within according to the word, the Holy Spirit makes it energetic; and the world is judged alike in its religious pretensions and in its external case and honours. Doubtless there is far more revealed by and in the Saviour than the patriarchs ever knew. Yet substantially the sight of Abraham a pilgrim, as Scripture points out, was an appeal of no small power to act on the soul of a believing Jew, in danger of retrograding to that which was once his boast through losing sight of Christ in heavenly glory and the hope of sharing all with Him. Abraham possessed nothing in Canaan, having to buy even a grave; he hung on the promise of God. The Christian Jews were so far in a similar position; they were waiting to inherit the promises. Abraham and his son and his son’s son (the most honoured of the fathers in general estimation, and surely ancient enough to satisfy the most ardent of those who affected antiquity), all died in faith, not in possession. They saw and greeted the promises from afar and confessed themselves strangers on the earth. Why should Christians repine when called to a like path? It is unbelief that despises the hope and craves some present enjoyment of an earthly sort.
Now God had even then given good ground of assurance to Abraham, who led the way. He had added His oath to His promise: a blessed confirmation for the tried, even though they were far from being gainsayers. Only theorists would think lightly of such a gracious provision only those who dream of pilgrimage in a palace and have no purpose of heart to live out the truth. When conscience is in earnest, our own weakness is felt, and the way of Christ seems difficult, dangerous, and repulsive. Hence the gracious wisdom of God gave His oath in addition to His promise, as we may read in Gen. 22:17, 18: a precious cheer to him who at that very time received back his son as from the dead in a parable.
Nor was it for Abraham’s sake only or those who immediately succeeded that God gave this twofold solemn guarantee. He was minded thus to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel. Therefore did He mediate or interpose with an oath to lift up the eyes of all who believe from present and seen things to that hope which rests on His word confirmed by His oath. What. loving condescension to those who march through an enemy’s land! Such are clearly the “two unchangeable things in which it was impossible for God to lie”; the application of which is made, not to the fathers of old, but to the children now, “that we might have strong encouragement, that fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
Thus the chapter opens with a most serious warning. On the one hand the brightest light, the highest testimony, the participation of the Holy Spirit, the sweetness of the gospel, the powers of the age to come in token of Christ’s triumph, are the chief external privileges of Christianity. Yet men might have them all, and utterly fall away so as to have no renewal to repentance possible. They are not life, eternal life in Christ; they include not the love of God shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that was given to us. Neither illumination nor power is the same as being born again, which is not said or supposed here. On the other hand, when the good cheer of divine grace follows, these closing verses point out the lowest faith ever described in gospel days, “those who fled for refuge” (an allusion to the beautiful figure of the man-slayer only just saved from his pursuers) enabled “to lay hold of the hope set before us”: a truly “strong encouragement” for the weak and trembling faithful.
Nor is this all. The hope set now before the believer far transcends all that could be for the saints in O.T. times. We have it as “anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil, where as forerunner for us entered Jesus, become for ever high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” Here the security is enhanced and crowned by One who is God no less than man, Jehovah-Messiah the Saviour, who is gone back to heaven for us, after having made the purification of sins and found an eternal redemption.
In Him and His work all is made sure. The rights of God are conciliated with His grace. Sin has been judged so as to vindicate the nicest regard for injured majesty and holiness. Mercy can flow freely yet on a basis of righteousness, no longer sought in vain from flesh and guilty man, but established by God as due to Christ (John 12) and ministered by the Spirit in the gospel (2 Cor. 3). He Who is exalted in heaven is the promised Messiah, the object, securer, and dispenser of all the promises of God. Thus will the earth be best blessed in due time: but meanwhile those who believe in Him before He appears are associated with Him in a heavenly relationship even while they are here, that they too on clearer and fairer ground than Moses could occupy may account the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. He as forerunner for us has entered within the veil — heaven itself: which none could know or claim till He had come here, suffered for sins, and been received up in glory. If this does not win the believer from an earthly mind, from a sanctuary of the world, nothing else can. He who has loved us, our forerunner in heaven, though rejected of men, draws and binds our hearts to Himself where He is; and God reveals Him to us there for this express end.
18 It is not “the earth” as a whole as in A. V., nor yet as in R. V. “the land,” etc., as that particular one objectively viewed, but characteristically “land”; for here English idiom as often coincides with Greek.
19 The Text. Rec. adds “labour of,” probably from 1 Thess. 1:3. The best authorities ( A B D S P 6, 17, 31, 37, 47, etc., and almost all ancient Vv.) are adverse.