Hebrews - Revelation from the Numerical Bible

F W Grant.

Preface.

Through the mercy of God, the notes upon the New Testament are herewith completed. It is only hoped that, written as it has been through a period of comparative weakness, the present volume may not show too much the marks of this, but rather how, according to the principle which He has declared to be His own, His strength is perfected in it. Through the kindness also of some whose hearts have interested them in the present attempt to set forth afresh the inexhaustible riches of the precious Word, stenography and the type-writer have been brought in to lessen the labor and expedite the work; so that more rapid progress has been made than otherwise would have been possible, and there has been given me in this way the joy of having other fellow-laborers, though as yet unknown. He knows, who alone can tell, to the prayers of how many I am indebted also: may many more increase a debt which gladly is confessed.

After the present volume it is intended, the Lord willing, to take up the books of the Old Testament prophets, sadly neglected as all must realize they are by the mass of even earnest Christians; or valued mostly for the detail of future events which they furnish, rather than as bringing, as they do, the whole world into the light of God, and His people thus into the mind of God. There is perhaps no part of Scripture which more needs and will more repay now believing work than these. May God arouse and enkindle the hearts of very many!

To the end of Paul's epistles, through the serious illness of Mr. Ridout, the references have devolved upon my own less capable hands. He is now at work at them once more, for which may He be thanked who has raised him up.

It only remains to be said that, as in former volumes, the writer of the Notes has freely and fully expressed himself upon every subject that Scripture itself has led to, trusting that those who may differ from him most will yet appreciate an honest endeavour to hide nothing at all of what divine grace has given to all, so that he could not hold it back. May He bring us all into fuller knowledge and thus into more communion with Himself!

F. W. GRANT. Plainfield, N. J., Feb. 4th, 1902.

 

The Epistle to the Hebrews

Scope and Divisions of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The epistle is anonymous, and its authorship has been much disputed; not its canonicity, which never really was. Peter's plain mention of an epistle of Paul to the circumcision (2 Peter 3:15, 16) and which he classes among the "other scriptures," would seem sufficiently decisive that the author of it was Paul. Where can we find another scripture answering to the description? spite of which commentators generally waver between Apollos and Barnabas. Tertullian, in the third century, ascribed it to the latter. None except moderns have done so to the former. The claim in this case is mainly founded upon its style, — which is said to be different from Paul's, — its constant quotations from the Septuagint, and even where the Septuagint seems to depart from the original, and to approach in some things to Philo, the Jew, the Alexandrian. A sufficient answer to this is that the Alexandrian church itself ascribed it to Paul, and apparently knew nothing in this way of their countryman Apollos.

How suited that, in fact, it should be Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, but whose heart turned back with such unchanging affection to his kindred after the flesh, his love to whom only made him the decisive witness of their rejection of his ministry to them, and who is here given to echo the words of his Master when similarly rejected: "Behold, your house is left to you desolate." But thus we may realize also the appropriateness of that strain in the epistle which so often looks out more widely than to the Christian Church itself; leaving room at least, in various places, for the grafting in again of Israel's branches into their own olive-tree when the time shall come. The doctrinal relation of the epistle to Paul has never been doubted. It would, in fact, be impossible, one would say, to doubt it; and in the arrangement of his epistles according to the numerical structure of Scripture, it fills a gap which would be serious if it were taken away. No other epistle could take its place, nor could one find a fitting place elsewhere for what comes here in such suited order. We have already seen that the second series of Paul's epistles develops collective relationship to God. In Thessalonians, we have seen the relation of His people to Him as His family; in Corinthians as a company of people in fellowship with Christ and with one another upon the earth. In Hebrews we find them as a priestly family, as worshipers, a character which could not be omitted, and yet which is contemplated nowhere else. It has to do indeed with that which is a central characteristic of Christianity, the rent veil and the heavens opened. It will be seen then, at once, that Hebrews is the Leviticus of this second pentateuch, and could not be spared from its place in it. It is indeed an epistle very characteristic of Paul's doctrine, which, as characterizing the Leviticus of the New Testament, aims to bring the soul near to God in Christ, or, as he states his mission: "to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col. 1:28). Hebrews would naturally in its place here exhibit this character in an intensified form, and so it does. Ephesians, the corresponding epistle in the first series, puts us in the full heavenly place itself: "Seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Hebrews develops the living activities which belong to those who in spirit enter into the heavenly places, the sphere of service of Christians as the priestly house of God.

Christianity is characterized for us largely by two things, which are implied in the rent veil. God dwells no more in the thick darkness. He is in the light. He is able to come out to man; man is able to go in to Him. In fact, both things are accomplished: God has come out to man in Christ; in Christ man is gone in to God. The gospel of John is that which shows us eminently the first of these, but Hebrews is here the link between John and Paul. Christ is thus, as Man, seen as the Apostle, the One who comes out with that message from God, in which God Himself is declared; but the epistle to the Hebrews develops with more fulness the second thing, man going in to God. This is the consequence of that work done upon earth before His going in, which has enabled Him to enter, not simply in the title which He always personally had, but as the "High Priest of our confession."

God coming out is the glory of the gospel. The Son of God in manhood, and manhood never to be laid down again, is "the outshining of His glory." He has spoken, but he has done more than this. He has lived and loved and suffered and died among us, and gone back again in the power of such a sacrifice, by which those in whose behalf it has been offered find "a new and living way" into the presence of God.

Both things, the coming out and the going in, as already said, are found in Hebrews, as they are found also in the beginning of John's first epistle. In these, John and Paul clasp hands together, each emphasizing the truth differently and yet each looking along the track of divine glory, so as to see and recognize the other's Object. John looks down from heaven to the earth. Paul looks up from the earth to heaven. The central Object for each is He who is the "Apostle and High Priest of our confession." This full revelation of Christianity is in contrast with all fragmentary communications by the prophets, which preceded it; but He has effected also by Himself a purification of sins, and taken His seat in consequence at the right hand of God. And thus also He has now "companions" or "fellows," "partakers" with Him, yea, those whom He is "not ashamed to call His brethren." These are the "children given" to Him, the "many sons" whom, as the First-born, the Kinsman-redeemer, He as the Originator of their salvation, is bringing to glory. They are those "sanctified," the "house of God," over whom He as Son is, as Son over sons, Great Priest over a priestly house, to whom He gives entrance into the innermost sanctuary.

But thus, the law, which pointed to such things as things to come, but was never the very image of them, is necessarily passed away. The successional priesthood of sinful and therefore mortal men, worshiping afar off, with sacrifices whose constant repetitions proclaim their inefficacy, is set aside by the coming of the true Priest, who by one perfect offering brings to an end all others, purging the conscience, to serve in His presence the living God. Christ is the glorious reality, the abiding Priest of a heavenly sanctuary, into which faith freely enters, to find the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews necessarily presses, therefore, that there must be no confusion, no mixing up of the shadows with the reality. God had gone on long, even after Christianity was come, permitting to the Jewish believers a weaning time, of which the Acts gives the history, but which is now at an end. They are called absolutely to leave the camp, the glory of God having now for the third time forsaken it; the only issue of all that He had done for Israel being the crucifixion of the Son of God, sent to them in fullest grace at the predicted time and in the predicted way. As to man, all was over, but in that which proved this, God has found a way in which He can manifest Himself, to the wonder and joy and worship of eternity, and open heaven to those who have hopelessly lost earth. The blood of the sin-offering burned outside the camp was that which went inside the veil into the presence of God. The true sin-offering, bringing all other offerings to an end, has rent the veil and made the way permanent. The judgment of man naturally in the highest place of privilege, which is the camp, is the way by which there is secure entrance into the glory of God unveiled.

The epistle has five divisions:
1. (Heb. 1, 2:4): Shows us Christ, the Son of God in manhood, — thus the First-born in uniqueness and supremacy as the Apostle of our confession enthroned, and having laid the foundation of peace. He is thus supreme above angels, through whom the law was given.
2. (Heb. 2:5 — 4:13): Shows us Christ in His humiliation to death for His brethren, become the Originator of salvation for them, annulling him who had the power of death, the devil, and delivering those subject to bondage. He is here far beyond both Moses and Joshua.
3. (Heb. 4:14 — 10.): Shows us Christ as priest entering into the heavenly sanctuary, the way into which He has opened by His accomplished work. He is here in contrast both with the priests and sacrifices of the law.
4. (Heb. 11.): Gives us for our instruction the walk, trial, and experience of faith. The object of the apostle is to show that if the glorious realities of which he has been speaking are invisible, it is faith which always lays hold of the invisible, and by which all those that ever pleased God have obtained a good report.
5. (Heb. 12 and 13.): Closes with admonition of the responsibilities involved in all this: first, of the need of steadfast continuance in their good confession and secondly, of separation from the Jewish system, which could now be held to only in the rejection of that to which it pointed, and which alone was what at any time had made it valuable.

Notes.

Division 1. (Heb. 1, 2:4.)

Christ the First-born in His uniqueness and supremacy as the Apostle of our confession, now enthroned, having laid the foundation of peace, thus supreme above the angels, through whom the law was given.

Christ "the Apostle of our confession" is therefore the first theme of the present epistle; but it is Christ speaking no longer on earth, but, where the apostle saw Him, from heaven; His work accomplished and therefore His speech unfettered, with all the fulness of blessing in it, which the presence of the Spirit on earth is able to make good in the souls of men. We can see why the apostle of the Gentiles here should say nothing about his own apostleship. It is Christ for him who is the Apostle; and in an epistle to believing Hebrews, how this is suited to remove every shadow of prejudice against the one who is simply the channel of His communication to His people! It is thus also that we find the doctrine of the epistle to be in such large measure founded upon the Old Testament scriptures and their interpretation. The wisdom of God is surely found in this, which awakens so much the critics, wonder. To Jews it is the voice of Judaism itself; not the bastard Judaism of later days, but Judaism as God gave it, — making known now the uniting truth which puts together all its fragmentary relations in one glorious whole, which necessarily transcends as such all previous partial declarations.

Section 1. (Heb. 1:1-4.)

God identified with the Son, in whom He has now spoken fully, not fragmentarily.

God had, in fact, of old time, spoken "unto the fathers in the prophets." The new dispensation in no way contradicts that voice of God in the old, nor sets it aside even from its present use and blessing, but, on the contrary, gives it its full meaning and authority as such for His people now. God had spoken "in many parts," — in some sense a characteristic of His speaking at all times, although not in the sense in which the apostle speaks here. Scripture has, in fact, never the character of a systematized theology. The truth in it is not classified for us as the specimens of a museum might be, but is a living thing, the branches of it interlacing with one another and sometimes hidden amid leaves and fruits and flowers, for faith to trace and wonder at the more. Its beauty is a beauty such as nature itself has, only far beyond nature. The resulting exercise is not only permitted, but enjoined upon us, if we will lay hold of it and make it our own. "All Scripture is profitable" but "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works." If we are not men of God, we must expect to find things hidden, and to make little way with it. "The diligent soul shall be made fat." "God satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."

But the many fragmentary communications of the Old Testament were, of course, in those days, necessarily more or less separated from one another, and faith itself could only as yet make out dimly what was within the veil. The glory in Moses, face had thus always the character of veiled glory, but the veil is now taken away in Christ. How great, then, is the privilege which is ours; and how great the responsibility of availing ourselves fully of the privilege of those upon whom the ends of the ages are come, — who can now, therefore, look back over all the past, and gather the united wisdom of all God's words and ways.

For "in many ways" He spoke, as "in many parts": histories, genealogies and ordinances, with more directly prophetic speech, combining, in a perfection all their own, to assure us of how God has indeed spoken in Scripture, — a thing which modern unbelief, with the wisdom of the adversary in it, would take from us, grounding itself upon the obscurity of the revelations, when now the full light has come and obscurity can no longer be pleaded.

The whole time was, in fact, as we know, a time of probation, a time of necessary testing of man to put him in his rightful place before God, and make him accept that complete setting aside of the flesh which allows, in fact, God now to be God to us in all the fulness of a divine revelation. Thus, "at the end of these days" He has "spoken to us in the Son." The probation, for those who accept the lesson of it, is at an end. There can be no claim on man's part but that which grace permits him. There can be no attempt to substantiate the righteousness of him who has now crucified the Son of God sent to him; but in that cross itself it is that the full grace of God is manifested, salvation accomplished, enemies are reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

It is as the Son that the apostle puts Him before us here, a title unspeakably dear to us, as it is that in which He appears in such a character as to make the revelation available to us, and to put us, through grace, into the place of sons also, that we may enjoy the revelation.

He is Son of God in eternity and in deity; but this gives character, therefore, to the manhood that He assumes. Here also He is Son of God. It is the same Person, in the same relationship, but now as Man, the First-born Son, not as John shows Him to us, "the Only-begotten." Paul is not separating us from Him by the glory of His Person, but bringing us nigh. It is necessary to separate, that we may not confound things that so greatly differ, or deprive Him of the unique glory which is His own. The bringing nigh comes then in its due place, and with all the blessing which results from this divine glory shining from the human.

The Son of God is the appointed Heir of all things. Sonship and heirship are always connected together in Scripture; and it is thus as ourselves sons that we are heirs. He, the First-born Son, is the great Heir, the One through whom all others derive title. All things are worthily for Him, by whom, in fact, they were created, or, — as it is put here — by whom God made them; for all this is according to divine counsels, in which God designs to make Himself known to His creatures as far as creature can possibly know Him. He is still the Infinite, and we the finite; but in coming out of His infinitude to make Himself known within the limits of time and space, He is showing that moral character which is at the very heart of all the revelation. He is light, but He is Love, and it is love that is bringing out the light. It is not a cold radiance, but wraps us in a life-giving warmth which penetrates and holds us fast forever.

The Son of God is thus "the effulgence" of the divine glory. He is the Word, as the apostle John would tell us, and as the Word the revelation of the mind of God. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." Thus all creation has, of necessity, His stamp upon it. All forms of creation become the types and pictures of moral and spiritual truth. They are revelations, necessarily partial, which we must put together to have the full revelation; and for this, also, the Son of God, the Revealer, must take His place among His own creatures, that the display may have that measure which, if it be not (to our finite faculties) infinite, yet infers this, and, continually growing on us, has full competence for more than satisfaction, — for eternal delight.

Thus He is "the expression of His substance": He makes the invisible God. visible. We are not, by the display, diverted from Him of whom it is the display. It is God Himself we know and worship, in the Man Christ Jesus, — so near, so intimate with us, so perfect in condescending grace, yet in whose Presence the creature is necessarily abased; not put at a distance, but put in the place of entire dependence, to realize the upholding of infinite power. Thus it is said here: "Upholding all things by the word of His power." There is thus no thought in Scripture of a creation which shall be sufficient for itself, a perfect machine made to run eternally without the Hand that made it. How much would we be deprived of, if that were true! No, our dependence is just our link with the One who thus holds us up, the One whom as children we call Father, and who would make us know, in every outflow of His grace towards us, the pulsation of a Father's heart.

Thus far it is of creation simply that the apostle speaks; but the creature is fallen, and thus needs a remedy which, in fact, only makes the glory of God more manifest, and brings out fully what love is in Himself. The Son has "made by Himself a purification of sins"; how wonderful a work, when we consider it! There, in depths where naturally there was "no standing," subject to the demands of divine holiness, which He had taken upon Himself, and which could only be met by the display of a moral perfection perfectly tested, and left to be tested, in that abyss of sorrow! Power there was not, for power of itself could be of no avail here. In Him there was the perfect surrender of Man to God, One crucified through weakness, and taking His place in a helplessness utterly foreign to Him, to conquer by the might of perfect goodness and nothing else.

There was none with Him, and could be none. "By Himself" He made "purification of sins." Act of others there was none in this, nor could be. All was between Him and the God whom He thus glorified in all His attributes, in the fulfilling of a work which should glorify Him forever. Thus must He rise, and did rise, out of those inconceivable depths, to the place where now He has "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." He has gone down and risen up, that He might fill all places, bringing in everywhere the grace which makes stable the unstable, and the saved sinner the very righteousness of God in Him. Thus indeed, then, is He made "so much superior to angels as he hath" even "inherited a more excellent name than they." All that He is is manifested in His work done, and His name now is the telling out of His Personal glory.

Section 2. (Heb. 1:5-14.)

As Son, God, through Man, as witnessed by the Word, contrasted with angels.

The apostle proceeds, according to his manner in the epistle, to confirm what he has just said by the Old Testament itself. The angels were those, as we know, who, according to the full belief of the Jews, gave character to the dispensation of law. They did indeed give it a character, in this sense, that they confirmed the distance from God on man's part which the law implied. The ministry of angels is in itself, surely, a thing most gracious, but at the same time the intervention of angels between God and man does not imply the nearness into which Christianity has brought us. Rather, it speaks of what was indeed the legal characteristic, that no one could see God's face and live. We do see His face, by faith indeed, but still fully revealed to us in the person of His Son, and are brought nigh to Him. Angels have here no place, although in ministry, as to circumstances, they may retain it fully. But thus it is of importance here to show that the Son has a more excellent name than angels; and the apostle confirms this statement now by seven quotations from the Old Testament, which show the name that Christ inherits; and to which of the angels did the glory of such a name belong?

For those who have learned the significance of numbers and the part they have in Scripture, as in nature, as showing the mind of God impressed on every part, it will be easy to see that the series here is significant in this way. Every text is in its place, and the whole is a sevenfold witness to the Lord, in accordance with the design of the epistle.

The first quotation from the second psalm gives the foundation of all. "Thou art My Son; today have I begotten Thee," is the word of Jehovah to the King of Zion; who claims, upon the warrant of this, the earth as His inheritance. But the powers of earth are combined against Him, Israel nationally with the Gentiles also, and they are warned of wrath to come upon those who do not take refuge in Him in the days of His long-suffering patience. It is plain how this suits the Christ of Christians, even to the accounting for what was so perplexing to an Israelite, the delay of Israel's blessing when Messiah was now come; but the point emphasized in the quotation is His being true Son of God in nature, the Begotten of Jehovah in manhood. It is quite true that men at large, by virtue of their creation, are, as the apostle quotes even the heathen poet, "the offspring of God;" and angels also are recognized in a general way as sons of God. Israel had a special place also nationally as the first-born of Jehovah; but in this way it was not a place that could be claimed by the individual as such, but he had part in it only as one of the nation. Spiritually there was nothing, necessarily, that would answer to this. A Jew was a Jew by nature, not by new nature; and the character of the law, as we know, was the testing of men as to their condition, instead of the bringing in of spiritual power so as to affect their condition. Thus Israel's privileges were all tentative and conditional; and the law, in fact, spoke nothing plainly as to eternity at all, except as it revealed the total incompetence of man for blessing upon any ground of his own righteousness.

Certainly no one could in Israel claim to be a begotten son of God, and according to Scripture no angel either could make such a claim. No doubt the Lord is looked at here as in humanity, not according to that which we know was His divine title. He is not here "the Only-begotten Son," as John declares Him, but rather the First-begotten, as we shall find Him called directly. But if "the Only-begotten Son" comes into humanity, He could not lose, in this humanity that He assumes, the relationship in which He stood to God. Thus the nature assumed becomes, as it were, like the firmament of the second day, a lower heaven through which the higher heaven of glory shines. The sun is in the firmament, yet above the firmament, and the Son of God in humanity brings into it thus the relationship to God which He could never give up. The Only-begotten becomes the First-begotten; and this implies, of course, that now there will be among men themselves those who will be also the begotten of God. This is not the human family as such, but the family of faith, as we find here fully in Hebrews. They have a new, and, as Scripture speaks, a divine nature, of which they are partakers; but this is through and in the First-begotten only, who is the Adam of the new creation, and, as the apostle says of Him in that character, a "quickening Spirit." We shall find this more particularly dwelt upon in what shortly follows.

Here we have the One through whom this unspeakable blessing is communicated; and it is impossible to confound the One to whom God says, "Thou art My Son," with any other of the sons of men. He has an empire over all by the very fact of what He is; and His miraculous birth distinguishes Him in this character: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee," says the angel to Mary, "and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore, also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Thus His unique character is established on all sides.

The apostle strengthens this by a second quotation, which applied indeed first of all to Solomon, as is plain by the context, but only typically to him. Even as the builder of God's house, the true Son of David was not Solomon, but a greater, whose house and kingdom would be both eternal. We shall find Christ as the builder further on in Hebrews (Heb. 3:3), but the point for the present is, "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son." This must be put clearly in connection with the passage from the psalm just quoted; and then we can understand that the relation on each side will be all that is implied in such words as these.

The third quotation is very full for the apostle's purpose. Here the Firstborn is brought again into the world. Question is made of whether the word "again" is really connected with this bringing in; but it should be plain that it is the appearing of Christ in glory that is at any rate referred to. This is the force of the words: "When He bringeth in the First-born into the world." It could hardly apply to incarnation. It is true that the angels of God worshiped, as we know, when the infant Christ was born; but they were not summoned to worship in that public way which is evidently intimated here. Then the superiority of Christ to angels will indeed be fully manifest — nay His supremacy over all, according to that Name given Him.

The fourth quotation separates the angels from such a place as we have been looking at, by saying that they are indeed but the creatures of God's hand, made and fashioned by Him at His will. "He maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire." "The acceptance and use of the Septuagint translation by the writer here would quite preclude, as has been said elsewhere, the adoption of any other. 'He maketh His angels spirits' is, according to the apostle, a fact affirmed of the nature of angels, and, of course, a much higher fact than making 'the winds His messengers,' as some would have it. As it might be translated either way, the meaning must be decided otherwise than by the language. Nor is it a disproportion in thought that while the material instrument is contemplated as truly in the hands of God, these ministers, 'the spiritual beings, should be His messengers.' This shows, on the one hand, that no part of His creation is to be conceived as separate from Him, no physical agency that is not the embodiment of His will, while, on the other hand, the spirits, with a responsibility of their own, represent Him and are subject to Him, receiving their character and endowment from Him according to His will." (Notes on the Psalms.)

This distinguishes in the plainest manner all mere creatures from this Son of God.

The fifth quotation, in contrast, shows us God and man united in Him; true God, with an eternal throne, and yet true Man, in righteous recompense anointed by God with the oil of gladness above His fellows. Here Immanuel is found in the full significance of His name (Ps. 45:6).

The sixth quotation (Ps. 102:25-27), in the application of it by the apostle here, throws a flood of light not upon that psalm only, but upon the whole fourth book of the Psalms, in which it has a central place. It is now not simply a Man, but a suffering, dying Man, who is yet owned of God to be the Maker of heaven and earth. These are limited and changing, but not He who gives them their limit; and who, though He may seem to be Himself at the limit of His days, is Master here as elsewhere. In fact, it is in the cross that He manifests Himself most truly, gloriously Master of all, and evil itself receives its limit from Him and owns Him Lord.

One quotation more (Ps. 110:1) completes this series. Here He is Son at rest after His work accomplished, rejected indeed of man, but awaiting the action of God to make His foes His footstool; while He Himself sits at the right hand of God. Thus the testimony is complete, and every quotation fills perfectly its place. The angels have their place, and a blessed one, as thus in heart entering fully into the purposes of God towards those who are naturally below themselves, but in whom they learn to adore the perfect grace and wisdom of Him who lifts them up into a higher one. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" The very salvation which marks them out as sinners is that which displays the glory of God in His grace to them, and thus becomes the new revelation of God to the angels themselves.

Section 3. (Heb. 2:1-4.)

The publication of these good news with threefold attestation.

We have now the proclamation of glad tidings such as these, and that in a threefold way: first as begun to be spoken by the Lord Himself; then, as confirmed by those who heard Him; and finally, as attested by the Holy Ghost with signs and wonders and various acts of power. All this declares, indeed, the necessity of that salvation which the gospel proclaims. God has been in earnest about it. We, says the apostle, must give earnest heed to it also. Alas, it is man's chief blessing which he constantly refuses, and which even Christians, as has been fully demonstrated in the history of the Church, have proved themselves least competent to hold. That God's grace could not, after all, fail of its object, should be self-evident. God will not leave Christ without that which love in Him could account His recompense. He must see of the fruit of the travail of His soul. He must be satisfied. But with all this, the incompetence of man is fully demonstrated, and nowhere so much as when God has spoken and wrought after this manner. But the apostle is addressing himself in the first place to unbelieving Jews, or to those who might have given a temporary and superficial faith to Christianity. He therefore declares that if the law required that every transgression and disobedience should receive just retribution, it would be indeed impossible for those to escape who should neglect so great a salvation. What must be the final portion of those for whom God's work by His Son and Spirit should yet be in vain?