1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?

5 For he has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands. 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting for him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: "I will declare your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to you." 13 And again: "I will put my trust in him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given me."

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 For indeed he does not give aid to angels, but he does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things he had to be made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted.  Version: New King James Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • In chapter 2, the writer continues to develop the theme of Christ's superiority to angels. Angels are mentioned 12x in Hebrews.
  • First, since the old covenant ("spoken through angels" -- Galatians 3:19) was strictly enforced, the new covenant must be even more firmly respected (vv.1-4).
    • If we fail to concentrate spiritually, neglecting the truths of the message, we will "drift away." (This is a nautical term.)
    • God is fair. This means that if we ignore what he has shown us, there will be (negative) consequences, just as if we obey his word there are (positive) consequences.
    • When we stop realizing how awesome and powerful Christ is, and start feeling sorry for ourselves, we are in a dangerous place…. But Jesus can help us when we are drifting. We will circle back round to this in 2:18.
    • For more on this, please hear lesson 1 of Anchored for Life.
  • Next, the writer makes the point that Jesus is the agent of judgment, not the angels (vv.5-9). The point is backed up by Psalm 8.
    • Psalm 8 is the first main OT text (of 7) around which Hebrews develops its cogent arguments.
      • Originally the Psalm refers to mankind.
      • But whereas mankind failed/fell, Jesus fulfills God's will perfectly. He therefore rescues us from humiliation and death.
    • Though Jesus has been given all authority, he has not yet fully exercised it. We should not be deceived; he is the judge. Moreover, the angels themselves will be judged by us humans (1 Corinthians 6:3)!
    • Terrific news: Jesus has tasted death so that we might not have to (v.9)!
  • Continuing with the thought of Jesus' death, the writer elaborates on Christ's suffering (v.10ff) -- a major theme in Hebrews (e.g. 4:15; 5:7; 13:12). Christ is willing to engage the enemy in his own turf -- the earth.
    • The process of perfection (becoming mature, conforming to the will of God) entails suffering. Jesus went first, and we must follow.
    • In the incarnation, God has taken on human flesh. He experientially understands our humanity. As a fellow human-- and in fact our elder brother -- Jesus is not ashamed of the family relationship. See 11:16, and also Mark 8 and Luke 9.
    • Jesus not only tasted death for us (v.9), but frees us from our fear of death (v.15)!
      • Death is the lever and weapon through which the devil manipulates and threatens those who do not trust in God.
      • Before the Resurrection, Greeks called their burial place the necropolis (city of the dead); after the Resurrection, they called it a cemetery (sleeping place). In Christ the terror of death is removed.
  • Concluding his contrast of angels and Christ, the Hebrew writer speaks of God's wonderful plan for us humans (vv.16-18).
    • The plan does not involve angels (v.16) -- except that they serve humans (1:14).
    • Angels, being spiritual beings, have no physical bodies. But in the incarnation, Christ took on our flesh, thus able both to understand us (v.18) and to represent us as a high priest (v.17). He stands over us (as priest), but also beside us (as older brother).
    • The high priest motif is persistent in Hebrews (2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:1,5,10; 6:20; 7:1,26; 8:1,3; 9:7,11,25; 10:21; 13:11).
    • As perfect high priest, Jesus is perfectly suited to be our representative.

Advanced:

  • The gospel was brought to us through:
    • Angels, according to Jewish tradition (Jub 1.29, Jos Ant 15.5.3, Mek. on Exod 20.18, Sipre 102 on Num 12.5, Pesiq R 21; and in the N.T., Acts 7:38-39,53; Galatians 3:19).
    • The Lord himself (v.3).
    • His apostles (v.3).
    • The confirmation of apostolic miracles (v.4).
    • The confirmation of miraculous spiritual gifts (v.4). See also 2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 1:6; Romans 1:11. Actually, the word "gifts" does not appear in the Greek. It is the word "distributions."
    • The entire process is superior to that through which the old Law was revealed.
  • In v.5, the world to come is the heavenly world (see note on 1:6).
  • Re: v.8 ("Son of Man"), click here.
  • V.10: perfection may refer to Jesus' being perfectly equipped to be our high priest (more than to any sense of moral perfection). In the Greek O.T., formal consecration "perfects" the priest, fully fitting and equipping him for service (Exodus 29:9, Leviticus 16:32, Numbers 3:3 LXX).
  • V.12 is a reference to Psalm 22:22, a psalm of despair and hope. That is, the writer, feeling abandoned in 22:1 ("My God, my God..."), and actually abandoned by others (22:6ff), is yet confident that he will be delivered (22:22ff). The reference to Psalm 22:12 refers to the assembly (ekklesia in the Greek LXX). The writer cannot help seeing the Messianic suitability of the Psalm.
  • V.13 refers to Isaiah 8:18, in which the sons of the prophet Isaiah parallel the spiritual descendants of Christ (see Isaiah 53:8). Here the Christi is the leader of the faithful covenant community, just as Isaiah was in his day.
  • V.16 -- many allusions to Isaiah.
  • V.17 -- Jewish intertestamental literature refers to both a priestly messiah and a royal messiah. Yet never is the Messiah portrayed as someone who offers himself as a sacrifice for our sins! This notion is something wholly new.
  • Re: v.18 (Jesus' ability to sin), click here.

Thought questions:

  • Am I drifting? Do I need an anchor? If so, what do I think God would have me do?
  • Do I understand that Jesus suffered when he was tempted? (It was not easy for him.) Does this give me spiritual strength or perspective to face my own trials?