1

Heb 7:25

wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost those drawing near to God through Him, always living for to intercede for them. BLB

Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. NASB

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. NIV

Jesus saves - but to the 'uttermost', 'completely'?? παντελὲς panteles is rarely used. How would we understand this meaning better?

2

The word παντελής is from two Greek elements, pan + teles = all + complete. It only occurs twice in Luke 13;11 and Heb 7:25. BDAG lists two meanings for this word:

  1. pertaining to meeting a very high standard of quality or completeness, completely, (a) with respect to action (quite) complete, eg, Heb 7:25 ...
  2. pertaining to unlimited duration of time, forever, for all time, eg, in Heb 7:25 as understood by the Vulgate, Syriac and Coptic

Thus, Heb 7:25 means that Jesus is able to save either:

  • completely, totally, uttermost
  • forever as translated by some ancient versions.

There are good arguments for both meanings including:

  • Completely: (a) it is the basic meaning of the word as indicated above from its linguistic elements - see Meyer and BDAG;
  • Forever: (a) that is the opinion of some translators (not all) in the early days closer to the NT writers that we are, (b) the context of Heb 7:25 appears to be a deliberate contrast with earthly ministry that was only a type of Christ's eternal ministry, (c) Jesus saves παντελής because he πάντοτε ζῶν = always lives to make intercession

Both meanings are consistent with the soteriology of the rest of the NT.

CONCLUSION

I do not believe it is necessary to decide between these alternatives precisely because the author of Hebrews was clearly a very well-trained and articulate person who chose his/her words very carefully. I suggest that this slightly ambiguous word was selected to convey BOTH meanings simultaneously.

Gill succinctly comments as follows:

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost,.... Because he continues ever, and has an unchangeable priesthood. This is to be understood not of temporal salvation, nor of providential favours, but of spiritual and eternal salvation; and includes a deliverance from all evil, here and hereafter, and an enjoyment of all good in this world, and in that to come

2

I would interpret this as both "forever" and "completely" because

  1. The context is the undying priest of the order of Melchezidek (focus on "forever"/olam in Psalm 110.4) as contrasted with the finite lifespans of Levitical priests

  2. The temporary sacrifice of the scapegoat, which must be performed annually, is contrasted with the one sacrifice for all time of Christ. (The Yom Kippur sacrifice is the only one which can cover intentional sins. Sin offerings cover only unintentional sins, and trespass offerings only cover a small set of categories of sins for which financial restitution is possible).

  3. In contrasting the sacrifice of Christ with the Levitical system in which there are many different sacrifices that must be performed for different situations: tresspass, sin, burnt, thanksgiving/meal, and fellowship, so no single sacrifice can be said to "completely" save, in contrast with the single sacrifice that completely saves.

From the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:

In the context of Hb. 7:25 that which endures in the person and work of the High-priest Jesus is emphasised, vv. 11–25, esp. 24f. σῴζειν εἰς τὸ παντελές is elucidated by πάντοτε … ἐντυγχάνειν, v. 25. The One who saves “for ever” (→ I, 381, 16 ff.; 383, 30 ff.) is also, however, the One who saves “altogether,” so that the saying about the “totality” of the saving work can hardly be expounded in only a single direction.

Delling, G. (1964–). τέλος, τελέω, ἐπιτελέω, συντελέω, συντέλεια, παντελής, τέλειος, τελειότης, τελειόω, τελείωσις, τελειωτής. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 8, p. 67). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

1

The Greek word is an adjective used as a substantive (noun) within a prepositional phrase εἰς τὸ παντελὲς. An adjective can be only gender. The neuter is used for adverbial use. Thus, the prepositional phrase modifies the verb σῴζειν ... δύναται (able to save) which encloses the phrase to make sure you take it that way.

πας means all

τελος has the idea of bringing to an end, finishing, or completing

The word in the Torah having this idea of completing atonement is שָׁלֵם. It is used to mean restitution has been completely made. Thus, while the meaning includes forever, it is not limited to that meaning. It means completely restored from the penalty of sin. It means complete restitution for all time has been made.

The Hebrew noun is שָׁלוֹם (peace) and this complete salvation is expressed in Col. 3. Peace of Christ means wellbeing, a complete, whole person in Christ.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Col. 3:15, ESV)

Note the full context of Col. 3 what to put on and take off and also the verses that follow.

In Hebrews note:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:11, ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20–21, ESV)

Appendix

This word is used only one other place in the New Testament:

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. (Luke 13:11, ESV)


παντελής, ές (trag., Hdt.+; inscr., pap.; 3 Macc 7:16) (quite) complete, perfect, absolute εἰς τὸ π. for the adv. παντελῶς (Philo, Joseph., Aelian). It can mean

  1. the same thing as παντελῶς, i.e. completely, fully, wholly. ...
  2. at all; so Lk 13:11, if εἰς τὸ π. is taken w. μὴ δυναμένη instead of w. ἀνακῦψαι she could not straighten herself up at all ...
  3. of time: forever, for all time ... -- Arndt, W., Gingrich, F. W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (1979). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature : a translation and adaption of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schrift en des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (p. 608). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wherefore (ὁθεν [hothen]). Since he alone holds this priesthood. To the uttermost (εἰς το παντελες [eis to panteles]). Old idiom, in N. T. only here and Luke 13:10. Vulgate renders it in perpetuum (temporal idea) or like παντοτε [pantote]. This is possible, but the common meaning is completely, utterly. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Heb 7:25). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.


שָׁלֵם ... vb. be complete, sound ...

  1. be complete, finished, ended ...
  2. be sound, uninjured, ...
  3. make whole or good, restore thing lost ...
  4. make good, i.e. pay, vows, ...
  5. requite, recompense, reward, good ... -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 1022). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

שָׁלוֹם ... n.m. Is 54:13 completeness, soundness, welfare, peace ... -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 1022). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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