Mount Zion

Hebrews 12:23  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Heb. 12:2323To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23).-The phrase "general assembly " (πανηγύρει) is clearly, in my judgment, epexegetic of the preceding words, "the innumerable company of angels," just as, in the clause before, "the heavenly Jerusalem " is a further explanation of "the city of the living God." The conjunction χαί introduces each new clause, which arrangement is destroyed in this particular instance, but observed in all the other parts of the sentence in the English Bible. The same confusion appears in Beza, Diodati, the Dutch, Martin, Ostervald, the Lausanne, etc. Bengel rightly objects to this construction. "Nam et polysyndeton retinendum est; et aliorum sine dubio est panegyris: aliorum, ecclesia, quis enim conjungeret synonyma, panegyris et ecclesia? Ecclesia, primogenitorum est; panegyris igitur; angelorum." But then he falls into the mistake of making, not only the angels, but the church of the first-born ones refer to the myriads, which is equally, as it seems to me, contrary to the linking of each separate term by the conjunction, not to speak of other objections. The Syriac and Vulgate, with those that follow them, Luther and the Elberfeld, avoid either error, and give the true sense with more or less clearness.
The apostle ascends from the lowest point of millennial glory which unites heaven and earth, the seat of royalty raised up in pure grace (after Ichabod was written on Israel, and the king of their choice was slain), in contrast with Sinai, which was the place and expression of the nation's responsibility. He then
words in John 6:5151I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51) (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα) are the commonest possible expression of eternity, or "forever," whether absolute or relative, which of course depends on the context and nature of the case. See Matt. 21:1919And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19); Mark 3:29;11: 1429But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mark 3:29); Luke 1: 55; John 4:14; 6: 58, 8: 35, 51, 52; 10: 28; 11: 26; 12: 34, 13: 8; 14: 1614But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14); 1 Cor. 8:1313Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1 Corinthians 8:13); 2 Cor. 9: 9; Heb. 6:20;7: 17, 21, 24, 2820Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:20); 1 Peter 1:23,2523Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)
25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:25)
; 1 John 2:1717And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:17); 2 John 22For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. (2 John 2); which are, I think, all the occurrences in the New Testament. Εἰς αἰῶνα (in 2 Peter 2:1717These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. (2 Peter 2:17)) has been dropped by some editors, though even they admit the same phrase in Jude 1313Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 13). The omission of the article implies that the phrase is characteristic, i.e. adjectival of the sense; and "everlasting," as "forever," pertains to τοῦ σχότους, rather than to the verb. The plural form often occurs, as in Rom. 1:25; 9: 5; 11: 36; 16: 2725Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25);
2 Cor. 11:3131The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. (2 Corinthians 11:31), etc.; or with πάντας, as in Jude 2525To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 25); or yet more emphatically εὶς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰῶνω, as in Gal. 1:55To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:5), and often elsewhere. The idea here is not so much one unbroken eternity (expressed by the singular, simple or complex, as in Heb. 1:88But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)), as the constant succession of age upon age, which is pretty well given in the English " forever and ever." Eph. 3:2121Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21) is the most peculiar of all; for γενεάς expresses ordinarily human generations, τοῦ αἰῶνος of itself would convey the thought of an undivided everlasting; and τῶν αὶώνων closes the series with successive ages sweeping on. The whole phrase intimates, I suppose, a future beyond the bounds
of every measure of time. The anarthrous form εὶς αἰῶας αἰώνων occurs in Rev. 14:1111And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11) (where, however, C. has αὶῶνα αἰῶνος), which, as we have seen, modifies the sense so far as to present no positive object before the mind, as in Rev. 19:33And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. (Revelation 19:3), and simply in this case characterizes the action of the verb.