Hebrews 6:13-20 NA28
13 Τῷ γὰρ Ἀβραὰμ ἐπαγγειλάμενος ὁ θεός, ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς εἶχεν μείζονος ὀμόσαι, ὤμοσεν καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ 14 λέγων• εἰ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ σε• 15 καὶ οὕτως μακροθυμήσας ἐπέτυχεν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. 16 ἄνθρωποι γὰρ κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος ὀμνύουσιν, καὶ πάσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὁ ὅρκος• 17 ἐν ᾧ περισσότερον βουλόμενος ὁ θεὸς ἐπιδεῖξαι τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ, 18 ἵνα διὰ δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων, ἐν οἷς ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι [τὸν] θεόν, ἰσχυρὰν παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν οἱ καταφυγόντες κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος• 19 ἣν ὡς ἄγκυραν ἔχομεν τῆς ψυχῆς ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν καὶ εἰσερχομένην εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετάσματος, 20 ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
For God, after promising to Abraham, since he had no one greater by (which) to swear, swore by himself, saying, "I will most certainly bless you and multiply you." And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater, and to them final for confirmation of every dispute is an oath, in which God, desiring to show abundantly more to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, guaranteed (it) with an oath, so that, because of two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible (for) God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have powerful encouragement in order to take hold of the hope set before us, which we have as both a steadfast and sure anchor of the soul, and (which) enters inside of the curtain, where Jesus the forerunner on our behalf entered, h aving become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Temporal Participle "When/while (he) promised"
Instrumental Participle "By Saying"
Causal Participle: "Because (God) desired"
Causal Participle: "Because he had (already) become"
Adjectival Participle: "Which enters"
Main point summary
When God promised to Abraham, he made doubly sure by swearing by Himself. So too, we have the promise of God and the oath of God to anchor our souls in hope, so that we might hold fast to it. This hope is not theoretical, for Christ has entered into the Holy of Holies on our behalf and secured the promises.
Τῷ γὰρ Ἀβραὰμ ἐπαγγειλάμενος ὁ θεός,
For God, (after) promising to Abraham,
ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς εἶχεν μείζονος ὀμόσαι,
since he had no one greater by (which) to swear,
ὤμοσεν καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ
swore by himself,
λέγων• εἰ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε
saying, "I will most certainly bless you
καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ σε•
and multiply you."
καὶ οὕτως μακροθυμήσας
And so, having patiently waited,
ἐπέτυχεν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας.
he obtained the promise.
ἄνθρωποι γὰρ κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος ὀμνύουσιν,
For people swear by something greater [than themselves],
καὶ πάσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὁ ὅρκος•
and to them final for confirmation of every dispute is an oath,
ἐν ᾧ περισσότερον βουλόμενος ὁ θεὸς ἐπιδεῖξαι τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ
in which God, [because he was] desiring to show abundantly more to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose,
guaranteed [the purpose] with an oath,
ἵνα διὰ δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων,
in order that, because of two unchangeable things,
ἐν οἷς ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι [τὸν] θεόν,
by which it is impossible (for) God to lie,
ἰσχυρὰν παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν οἱ καταφυγόντες
we who have fled [for refuge] might have powerful encouragement
κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος•
to take hold of the hope set before us
ἣν ὡς ἄγκυραν ἔχομεν τῆς ψυχῆς ἀσφαλῆ τε
which [that is, the hope] we have as both a steadfast
and sure anchor of the soul,
καὶ εἰσερχομένην εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετάσματος,
and (which) enters inside of the curtain,
ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν
where the forerunner on our behalf entered,
κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
[because he] became a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
"Our author here, and more fully in 11:8–19, presents Abraham as the supreme example of a man who received promises from God, and lived in the good of these promises, persevering to the end in faith and hope." - F.F. Bruce, Hebrews NICNT p. 152
"We are refugees from the sinking ship of this present world-order, so soon to disappear; our hope is fixed on the eternal order, where the promises of God are made good to his people in perpetuity. Our hope, based upon his promises, is our spiritual anchor. The figure of the anchor is not pressed; all that is meant is that 'we are moored to an immoveable object' and that immovable object is the throne of God himself" - F.F. Bruce, Hebrews , NICNT pp. 154-55
"And our hope is fixed there because Jesus is there, seated, as we have already been told, at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” ( 1:3 ). His presence there is a powerful corroboration of our hope. Abraham rested his hope in the promise and oath of God; but we have more than that to rest our hope upon: we have the fulfillment of his promise in the exaltation of Christ. No wonder that our hope is secure and stable." - F.F. Bruce, Hebrews NICNT p. 155
Exegetical Notes εἰ μήν According to BDAG, this is a formula used in oaths (p. 279). εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ σε· According to Burton's NT Greek Moods and Tenses, the participle attached to the main verb is leftover from the Hebrew, which is a kind of intensive. This idiom, in combination with the εἰ μήν formula, gives the sense of absolute certainty of the promise given. ἐν ᾧ "Not infrequently relative pronouns do not follow the basic rules of agreement. Sometimes the gender of the RP does not match that of the antecedent, usually because of sense agreement superseding syntactical agreement (constructio ad sensum). As you recall, the rules of agreement do not normally involve case for the RP. Yet sometimes the case of the relative is attracted to that of the antecedent (known as attraction or direct attraction); at other times, though much less often, the antecedent is drawn to the case of the RP (known as inverse or indirect attraction)." Wallace, Beyond the Basics, p. 337. Shockingly I could not find anything on this use of the relative pronoun. The best I could gather is that it is a kind of transitional phrase. The NASB and the NRSV try to keep the sense of it by using the phrase "In the same way" at the beginning. This does not make clear what the antecedent of the relative pronoun is, so my guess is the "oath" at the end of vs. 16. "W. attraction ἐν ᾧ = ἐν τούτῳ ὅτι for the reason that = because Ro 8:3; Hb 2:18; 6:17 ." - BDAG, "εν". εἰσερχομένην What is this participle related to, and in what way? I couldn't find much on this, but seeing as it agrees in gender, number and case with the relative pronoun ἣν (which relates to "hope"), I believe it is relating back to it. Again, with such a long and complicated sentence, I think the participle is making sure we know that the hope functions as both the "anchor of the soul" and it "enters into the inner place of the curtain." Main Idea The author of Hebrews stated in 6:11-12 that he desired for his audience to have the same zeal as they have serving the saints in their pursuit " to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises ." He encourages this pursuit of the full assurance of hope by examining the example of Abraham (though as we will see, it is not Abraham who is the great encouragement to hope). The promise to Abraham takes place immediately after the angel stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and they find a ram in the bushes. By calling this context to mind Abraham is used to show the ultimate example of faith in God's promises (cf. Heb 11:17-19). Here we see that Yahweh swore by Himself (because He Himself is the greatest thing to bind an oath with), having already promised to bless and multiply Abraham's offspring (for this is not the first promise, but an affirmation of it). The example of Abraham concludes with him obtaining the promise, but the theme of the oath continues. The author explains that for people, you settle a dispute with an oath, and the matter is considered settled (though, of course, one of the parties could break the oath!). With God, however, there is no need for an oath. The promises of God are sure. Yet God did not stop at a promise! The author says that because God desired to make abundantly more clear the unchanging nature of His purpose, He gave an oath on top of the promise. God guaranteed the promise to Abraham with an oath not so that Abraham would have assurance (for he had already "obtained the promise"). The oath was for us! This oath had a greater, related purpose, however. This purpose is ground in "two unchangeable things." What are they? The phrase "in which it is impossible for God to lie" gives evidence to the fact that they both relate to God's truthfulness. The two unchangeable things are the promise of God and the oath of God. What is more evidence that God never lies than that His promises are always true and His oaths never fail? Because of the promise and the oath, "we who have fled for refuge might have powerful encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us (6:18)." God gave a promise and an oath so that we would take hold of hope. Lest we think that this hope is like the "hope" of men, wherein we "hope" our sports team wins or we "hope" it does not rain during our birthday party, the author assures us that this hope of God is a different kind altogether. It is like an anchor for our very souls, holding them down when the waves of sin and doubt threaten to pull us from the harbor of our faith in Christ. Nothing shakes this hope. But wait, there's more! This same hope not only gives our souls an anchor, but it "enters into the inner place of the curtain (6:19)." This is a reference to the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple. The curtain separated everyone but the High Priest from the presence of God, which resided in the inner place. Even the high priest could only go in once a year, to make intercession for the people. So somehow, our hope is anchored to the very place of God's presence. How can this be? This is possible because of the "forerunner on our behalf (6:20)," namely, Jesus! Being our forerunner, He entered into the Holy of Holies for us, bringing our hope with Him. But how does Jesus entering the Holy of Holies give us hope? Because Jesus went in, not merely as a special person who had special access to God's presence, but as our h igh priest. That is to say, we have hope because He entered on our behalf to intercede for our sin , like any good high priest does. Yet Jesus is no ordinary high priest, but the High Priest. Because He entered once and for all on our behalf, and because of the promise and oath of God, we have hope as an anchor for our souls. Application The world is a scary place. If you have truly lived in it, experienced it, and thought through the hard questions of it, you know that there is much to fear. Jesus said not to be anxious (Matt 6:25), but surely that is not universally true. Jesus Himself said not to fear those who kill the body, " rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28)." With all of this rightful fear, what is a Christian to do? If I take serious the danger of hell and an eternity apart from God, how will I ever have comfort? I know Jesus saves, but how can I know that He will save me? What if I do not trust Him enough? What if I fall away? What if my kids do not trust Christ? All of these questions combine to make us feel rather hopeless. What the world needs is hope. Not optimism, but true, solid reasons to be sure of better things to come. The author of Hebrews wants us Christians to know that this hope is ours, and it has been set before us. God made a promise to Abraham, that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Through Jesus Christ, the nations are being blessed by His gospel. We are the beneficiaries of the promise to Abraham. And in case we don't believe this possible, God swore by Himself that He would surely do it. By trusting this promise, the hope of the Offspring, the Messiah, we are brought into the blessings of the promise. By clinging to the promises of God for those who trust in Christ, we are weighed down when the winds of doubt and fear come. As surely as God is not a liar, we who trust in Him have hope. Not only did God promise to do it, Jesus Christ fulfilled the promise by entering the Holy of Holies and making intercession on our behalf. Christian, cling to the promises. Cling to Christ, who is the fulfillment of all these promises. May He be the anchor of hope for your soul, the immovable object you wrap yourself around during the hurricane that is this life. He has made a promise and an oath that He will not be moved. Cling to Him, and neither will you.