FOR WE KNOW
HIM WHO SAID
VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY: oidamen (1PRAI) gar ton eiponta (AAPMSA): hemoi ekdikesis, ego antapodoso (1SFAI): (Dt
32:35; Ps 94:1; Isa 59:17; 61:2; 63:4; Nah 1:2; Ro 12:19; 13:4)
explains why the previous statement (re: "severer punishment") is an
absolute certainty for the apostate.
We know -
The writer includes himself in this sure knowledge. The truth of God
taking vengeance is not a possibility but a certainty where such
action is warranted as in the case of the individual who is apostate.
- God’s fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem. If a man
tries nothing else, he will test his gold; and if no others shall be
judged, yet certainly those will be who say that they are the Lord’s
people. In that dread day, He will separate the goats from the
sheep, the tares from the wheat, and the dross from the gold; His
fan will be in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor; He
will sit as a refiner of silver, and He will purify the sons of
Levi; He shall be like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. Woe
to those, in that day, who are a defilement to His Church and an
adulteration to the purity of His people!
Even though he has been issuing
this strong warning, the author has all along included himself with
his readers by using the first person plural (“Let us,” Heb
10:22, 23, 24; “we,” Heb 10:26, 30). Here he says, “For we
know Him who said,” and then he cites two references from the Song of
Moses (Dt. 32:35, 36). As we have seen before (Heb 3:7; 8:8; 10:15),
for this author what Scripture says, God says.
The first quote (Dt. 32:35)
establishes God’s sole right to take vengeance, but here the emphasis
is on the fact that those who wrong such a Being as God have no chance
of escape. You may wrong another person and somehow manage to escape
his vengeance. But God will repay!
The second quote (Dt. 32:36) in its
original context has the nuance of God vindicating His people by
judging their enemies. Although the apostates had formerly been
associated with God’s people, their rebellion has put them on the side
of God’s adversaries (Heb 10:27). They will not escape. Leaving the
fellowship and repudiating the sacrifice of Christ does not remove
them from judgment, but rather, places them squarely in line for
judgment! As Hughes says (p. 426),
“So far from escaping from God, the
apostate falls into the hands of the living God: he abandons God as
his Savior only to meet him as his Judge.” (Hebrews 10:26-31 The Only
Options: Christ or Judgment?)
This verse is
rendering of Deuteronomy
Here is the
of: Dt 32:35 = ekdikeseos antapodoso (1SFAI)
God will exact justice. He is a
just God and therefore must satisfy his justice. Here we see the legal
aspect of divine justice. Quoting from Moses' song in Deuteronomy
32:35, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." It was a warning to
Israel in anticipation of their apostasy. It is in that text he warns,
"In due time their foot will slip." A person may think that he
is getting away with his sin, and in this case, deliberate opposition
to the gospel. But divine justice will be exacted; "in due time
their foot will slip."
Justice will always be served. We observe this on a regular basis as
men and women who have committed crimes against society for extended
periods, thinking that they would never be discovered, are caught and
judged, though some appear to get away with their crimes.
Paul Johnson, in his book
Modern Times, details the Nazi war crimes against the Jews and other
European citizens. His descriptions of Auschwitz where 25,000 Jews
"were literally worked to death" and 2,000,000 were gassed with Zyklon-B,
followed by "the ghastly search for gold and the removal of the teeth
and hair which were regarded by the Germans as strategic materials,"
then burned to ashes at the rate of "2,000 bodies every twelve hours,"
defies the imagination. He explains the Nuremberg trial where German
industrialists involved in the death camps were given remarkably light
sentences and paid little reparations for those victimized. Then he
asks the probing question, "But who is foolish enough to believe
there is justice in this world?" [Modern Times, 415, 417, 422].
He is right. Vengeance
belongs to the Lord; He will repay.
Peril of Playing Christian)
The certainty of the punishment is assured by the word of God.
Vincent says that the word vengeance is “an unfortunate
translation, since it conveys the idea of vindictiveness which does
not reside in the Greek word. It is the full meting out of justice
to all parties. The quotation is an adaptation of the Lxx of Dt
32:35. The second citation is literally from Lxx of Dt 32:36.” (Hebrews
from ek = out, from + dike = justice; see also
literally that which proceeds "out of justice". Ekdikesis
means to give justice to someone who has been wronged. It means to
repay harm with harm on assumption that initial harm was unjustified
and that retribution is therefore called for.
W E Vine
says ekdikesis describes pay back that is based on justice and...
not (as often with human
vengeance) from a sense of injury, or merely out of indignation.
The judgments of God are holy and right, and free from any element of
self-gratification....There is thus no element of vindictiveness, of
“taking revenge,”...in the judgments of God; they are both holy and
right (cp Rev 16:7-note).
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
is punishment which represents a just response.
Just or righteous retribution ( = Repayment. That which is given or exacted in
So on one hand
ekdikesis describes the execution of justice, seeing to it that
proper justice is accomplished, giving justice to someone who has been
wronged (Lk 18:7, 8, Acts 7:24. In the Lxx = Nu
31:2, Jdg 11:36)
On the other
hand ekdikesis speaks of the penalty inflicted on the unjust
(wrongdoers) or the recompense for harm done (Ro 12:19-note,
Heb 10:30). It describes punishing on the basis of what is rightly
deserved. Vengeance is God's prerogative alone!
The related verb
ekdikeo in the papyri was used to decide a case, work as an
advocate, defend or help someone to obtain his rights.
is the carrying out what is right by the exacting of a penalty. The
is the one who exacts
satisfaction for a wrong by punishing the wrongdoer or by inflicting
punishment in retaliation for an injury or offense. In secular Greek
ekdikos was used for the office of an official legal
The root noun
dike describes the basic tenet that a society can expect a certain
level or standard of behavior and if that standard is violated ensuing
judgment can be expected. In Greek mythology "dike" was the goddess of
just punishment. In secular usage dike meant a legal decision or
describes the punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or
offense. Vengeance is the full meting out of justice to all
parties. The 1828 Webster's dictionary has a longer definition...
The infliction of pain on another,
in return for an injury or offense. Such infliction, when it proceeds
from malice or mere resentment, and is not necessary for the purposes
of justice, is revenge, and a most heinous crime. When such
infliction proceeds from a mere love of justice, and the necessity of
punishing offenders for the support of the laws, it is vengeance,
and is warrantable and just. In this case, vengeance is a just
retribution, recompense or punishment. In this latter sense the word
is used in Scripture, and frequently applied to the punishments
inflicted by God on sinners.
- 9x in 9v - NAS = avenging of wrong(1), justice(2), punishment(1),
Luke 18:7 now, will not God bring
about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and
will He delay long over them? 8 "I tell you that He will bring about
justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes,
will He find faith on the earth?"
Luke 21:22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all
things which are written will be fulfilled.
Acts 7:24 "And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he
defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking
down the Egyptian.
Comment: Moses brought
retribution to the Egyptian for mistreating his fellow Israelites. In
a similar (but perfect way) God will bring retribution to those who
reject Him and mistreat His people (see 2Th 1:8 below)
Never take your own revenge (ekdikeo), beloved, but leave room for
the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL
REPAY," says the Lord.
Comment: This is a very
difficult truth for most Christians to apply in everyday life because
our old nature is so prone to retaliate. The modern world breeds the
"tit for tat" get even mentality. Only believers controlled by the
Spirit (cp "self-control") can carry out this instruction.
Wuest: Ekdikesis = "“a
revenging, punishment,” the latter word more applicable in this
context as connected with God. God cannot be said to have vengeance in
the sense that a person has vengeance, namely, a retaliatory feeling
which prompts a vindictive requital."
2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this
godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves,
what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of
wrong! (This use refers to judicial punishment) In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the
2 Thessalonians 1:8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know
God (not "know about God" which even so-called atheists could affirm,
but to know Him intimately and personally, ultimately as their Father
- note - God is not the Father of unbelievers contrary to prevalent
liberal false teaching - see Jn 1:12, 13) and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus
Comment: "Obey" is used in
place of "believe" so that clearly the NT teaches that one aspect
indicating true, saving belief is obedience (cp Jn 3:36). This is not
the obedience of legalism like the Pharisees, but the obedience that
is internally motivated and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In this sense, one might say that "obedience" while clearly calling
for a personal choice, is evidence of supernatural work in a person's
heart. In this way to "obey" is used in lieu of to "believe".
The KJV has "Vengeance"
which is somewhat of an unfortunate rendering for to many individuals
(specifically the non-believing world) the word vengeance as commonly
used in secular settings implies that God has a sort of personal
vindictiveness when in fact He has perfect righteousness and justice!
God's "vengeance" is so different from fallen men's vengeance.
Vincent writes that "To know
God is to know Him as the One, true God as distinguished from false
gods; to know His will, His holiness, His hatred of sin, and His
saving intent toward mankind.
Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I
WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE."
1 Peter 2:14-note or to governors as sent by him for the punishment
of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
Ekdikesis - 47x in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex 7:4; 12:12; Num 31:2f; 33:4; Deut
32:35; Judg 11:36; 14:4; 2 Sam 4:8; 22:48; Ps 18:47; 58:10; 79:10;
94:1; 149:7; Isa 59:17; 66:15; Jer 11:20; 20:10, 12; 46:10, 21; 50:15,
27f, 31; 51:6, 11, 36; Lam 3:60; Ezek 5:15; 9:1; 14:21; 16:38, 41;
20:4; 23:10, 45; 24:8; 25:11f, 14f, 17; 30:14; Hos 9:7; Mic 5:15; 7:4;
Exodus 12:12 'For I will go through
the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the
firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all
the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments (Hebrew = shephet; Lxx =
ekdikesis) -- I am the LORD.
Numbers 31:3 Moses spoke to the
people, saying, "Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go
against Midian to execute the LORD'S vengeance (Hebrew =
neqamah; Lxx = ekdikesis ) on Midian (used again in the phrase
"executed judgments" Nu 33:4).
Deuteronomy 32:35 'Vengeance
(naqam; Lxx = ekdikesis) is Mine, and retribution, In due time their
foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the
impending things are hastening upon them.'
2 Samuel 22:48 The God who executes
vengeance Hebrew = neqamah; Lxx = ekdikesis) for me, And brings
down peoples under me, (Repeated in Ps 18:47)
Spurgeon: It is God that
avengeth me. To rejoice in personal revenge is unhallowed and evil,
but David viewed himself as the instrument of vengeance upon the
enemies of God and his people, and had he not rejoiced in the success
accorded to him he would have been worthy of censure. That sinners
perish is in itself a painful consideration, but that the Lord's law
is avenged upon those who break it is to the devout mind a theme for
thankfulness. We must, however, always remember that vengeance is
never ours, vengeance belongeth unto the Lord, and he is so just and
withal so longsuffering in the exercise of it, that we may safely
leave its administration in his hands.
Psalm 58:10 The righteous will
rejoice when he sees the vengeance (Hebrew = neqamah; Lxx =
ekdikesis); He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
Spurgeon: The righteous
shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance. He will have no hand in
meting out, neither will he rejoice in the spirit of revenge, but his
righteous soul shall acquiesce in the judgments of God, and he shall
rejoice to see justice triumphant. There is nothing in Scripture of
that sympathy with God's enemies which modern traitors are so fond of
parading as the finest species of benevolence. We shall at the last
say, "Amen," to the condemnation of the wicked, and feel no
disposition to question the ways of God with the impenitent. Remember
how John, the loving disciple, puts it. "And after these things I
heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia;
Salvation and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for
true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great
whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath
avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said,
Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever."
The righteous shall rejoice when he
seeth the vengeance. Not that he shall be glad of the vengeance purely
as it is a hurt, or a suffering to the creature, but the righteous
shall be glad when he seeth the vengeance of God, as it is a
fulfilling of the threatening of God against the sin of man, and so
evidence of his own holiness. Psalms 59:9-10. Joseph Caryl.
Psalm 94:1 O LORD, God of
vengeance (Hebrew = neqamah; Lxx = ekdikesis ), God of
vengeance (Hebrew = neqamah; Lxx = ekdikesis), shine forth!
Spurgeon: O LORD God, to
whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew
thyself: or, God of retribution, Jehovah, God of retribution, shine
forth! A very natural prayer when innocence is trampled down, and
wickedness exalted on high. If the execution of justice be a right
thing, -- and who can deny the fact? -- then it must be a very proper
thing to desire it; not out of private revenge, in which case a man
would hardly dare to appeal to God, but out of sympathy with right,
and pity for those who are made wrongfully to suffer, Who can see a
nation enslaved, or even an individual downtrodden, without crying to
the Lord to arise and vindicate the righteous cause? The toleration of
injustice is here attributed to the Lord's being hidden, and it is
implied that the bare sight of him will suffice to alarm the tyrants
into ceasing their oppressions. God has but to show himself, and the
good cause wins the day. He comes, he sees, he conquers! Truly in
these evil days we need a manifest display of his power, for the
ancient enemies of God and man are again struggling for the mastery,
and if they gain it, woe unto the saints of God.
Isaiah 66:15 For behold, the LORD
will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His
anger (Lxx = ekdikesis) with fury, And His rebuke with flames
AND AGAIN, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE": kai palin: krinei
(3SFAI) kurios ton laon autou: (Deuteronomy 32:36;
Psalms 50:4; 96:13; 98:9; 135:14; Ezekiel 18:30; 34:17; 2Corinthians
The LORD will
judge His people - There is no partiality with God.
This verse is
also from the
rendering of the Song of Moses
Here is the
of Dt 32:36 = krinei kurios ton laon autou
This quote could
also be from Ps 135:14 which in the NAS is rendered...
For the LORD will judge His
people (in the following context idolatry seems to be in view here
- Ps 135:15, 16, 17, 18), and will have compassion on His servants.
The thrust of
these OT passages is clear - God looks more to those who are His own
and yet who presumptuously play with sin even though they should know
We see this
illustrated in the case of David in 2 Samuel 24, a passage that can be
somewhat confusing, even suggesting God incited David to sin, and so
it must be properly cross referenced.
Now again the anger of the LORD
burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go,
number Israel and Judah." (2Sa 24:1)
referencing this passage we read the parallel record in 2Chronicles
Then Satan stood up against Israel
and moved David to number Israel (How do we resolve this? Clearly
Satan is the perpetrator of the evil influence on David. And yet we
know that Satan can do nothing unless God allows it. So clearly God
did not incite David to sin, but He did allow Satan to do it. Satan
still has access to God's throne in this present age, and nothing can
come into our lives that is out of God's sovereign control! This is an
immutable principle beloved! cp Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12f, cp Mk
5:13, Lk 8:32, Lk 22:31). So David said to Joab and to the princes of
the people, "Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring
me word that I may know their number." (God even gave David an
opportunity to retract his sinful order before it was actually carried
out!) And Joab said, "May the LORD add to His people a hundred times
as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's
servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause
of guilt to Israel?" Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against
Joab. Therefore, Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and
came to Jerusalem. (2Chr 21:1,2, 3, 4)
given a choice of three painful penalties because of his sin of
numbering the people of Israel, an act which was expressly forbidden
by the Lord.
And God was displeased with this
thing, so He struck Israel. 8 And David said to God, "I have sinned
greatly, in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the
iniquity of Thy servant, for I have done very foolishly." 9 And the
LORD spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying, 10 "Go and speak to David,
saying, 'Thus says the LORD, "I offer you three things; choose for
yourself one of them, that I may do it to you."'" (1Chr 21:7, 8, 9,
If such a
greatly beloved believer as King David (cp Acts 13:22, 1Sa 16:7) could
be dealt with so severely by God, the argument (similar to that used
several times in the epistle to the Hebrews) is how much more
would the apostate individual experience the full impact of the Holy
God's righteous wrath!
Study Bible - This passage (1Chronicles 21) may
seem to picture God as very harsh and vindictive. It was crucially
important for Him to establish in the minds of His people the
importance of following His will, not that of Satan or themselves. It
is a serious matter to act against God's will in a flagrant manner.
The destruction exacted here seems enormous (see 1Chr 21:9, 10, 11,
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) --but if later generations profit from
this lesson, it will have served its purpose. Even in exercising His
wrath, God does what is right and just. The most faithful of God's
people make mistakes. King David's command was evil and brought God's
judgment. Even judgment brought evidence of God's mercy (1Chr 21:15).
- Distinguishing promised - Some will
consider that their involvement with the church at some point in their
lives is adequate cover from the wrath of God. But the next quote from
Deuteronomy 32:36 explodes this deceitful notion: "The Lord will
judge His people." The implication in context is that the Lord
discerns among His people. There are those who were part of the nation
of Israel, the people of God, who were not believers. Outwardly they
appeared to share in the blessings of God, but inwardly their hearts
rebelled. The same is true in the church. The visible church does
not contain a pure body of genuine believers. As much as church
leaders try, as closely as Scriptural principles are adhered to,
absolute purity is impossible in this world. Tares are found among the
wheat (Mt 13:36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Goats are part of the
flock of sheep (cp Mt 25:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41,
42, 43, 44, 45, 46). But the day will come when the Lord distinguishes
between the wheat and tares, the goats and sheep. In that day there
will be no more hiding and masquerading as Christians.
What will that day expose about
Peril of Playing Christian)