Home First
Table of



The Superiority of the Son, the Mediator of the New Revelation, to Angels (continued)

Hebrews 2:1-4   The peril of neglecting the new revelation through the Son

Next Section

After establishing the superior dignity of the Son in comparison with that of angels, the writer of the Epistle pauses for a moment to enforce the practical consequences which follow from the truth before he sets forth the work of the Son for humanity.

It is obvious that a revelation given through such a Mediator carries with it more solemn obligations on those who receive it and heavier penalties for neglect than a revelation made through angelic ministry. Similar hortatory passages are introduced in Hebrews 3:7-19  (see also 5:11). Contrast this with Gal. 1:6-9.

The line of thought is direct and simple. There is always in men a tendency to forgetfulness of a past message under the influence of new forces. The authority of the message is a measure of the danger of such neglect (Heb. 2:1,2); and the Gospel comes to us with the highest possible attestation in regard to its Author and its Messengers (Heb. 2:3), and the manifold witness of God by which it was confirmed (Heb. 2:4).

Heb 2:1-4
(1)  Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. (2)  (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? 

Translation of the Greek text according to Westcott:
Heb. 2:1-4  "On account of this it behooves more abundantly us to give heed to the things heard, lest at any time we should slip away. For if the by angels spoken word was confirmed, and every transgression and disobedience received just recompense, how we shall escape so great [if we] have neglected a salvation? Which a commencement having received to be spoken [of] by the Lord, by those that heard to us was confirmed; bearing witness with [them] God by signs both and wonders, and various acts of power, and of [the] Spirit Holy distributions, according to his will."  

On account of this
For this cause……. Therefore……because of the superiority of the Son over the angels, through whom the Law was given.

It behooves
The word marks a logical necessity and not a moral obligation: we must rather than we ought. Compare Heb. 11:6;99:26.

More abundantly 
Vulgate has:  abundantius observare. Westcott translates:  more earnest heed
The adverb expresses an absolute excess (See Hebrews 13:19; 6:17; 7:15), and not simply a relative excess (rather Heb. 9:14;10:25;12:9,25).  The force of the comparative is 'more exceedingly than if there had been no such marked preeminence of the Son.' 

Us  -  we Believers. The obligation is a special one. 

To the things heard
To the things that were heard, to the message received by the apostles when 'God spake in His Son'; or, more simply, to the things we heard when first the Gospel was preached to us (the word of the report Heb. 4:2; I Thess. 2:13. Compare Rom. 10:17.

Lest at any time    Compare Heb. 4:1 lest perhaps.
The Amplified translates: "Lest in any way".

We should slip away 
The Greek word is of considerable interest. It is constantly used of things which slip away,

as a ring from the finger,
or take a wrong course, 
as a crumb of food passing into the wind pipe, 
or an inopportune subject intruding upon a company.

It occurs twice in the Greek translations of the Book of Proverbs. It is found in the sense of 'slipping away' in Symmachus' rendering of Proverbs 4:21. And again in occurs of the person in Prov. 3:21 (LXX): 'My son, be not wanting in retention: but keep my counsel, namely, the sentiment.'

This latter usage is identical with the usage in the present passage:  'Do not be carried away from my teaching.'

The idea is not that of simple forgetfulness,
but of being swept along past the sure anchorage which is within reach. 
The image is singularly expressive. 
We are all continuously exposed to the action of currents of opinion, habit, action, which tend to carry us away insensibly from the position which we ought to maintain.

The Greek Christian writers use the word in the same sense as it has here, and perhaps they derived the usage from the Epistle of Hebrews.

Origen c.Cels. 8:23
'The great mass of simple believers who cannot keep every day as a divine festival, need sensible patterns in fixed holy days that they may not wholly drift away under popular influences from the observance of regular religious duties."

Thereforedia touto 
Because you have received a revelation superior to that of the old dispensation, and given to you through One who is superior to the angels.

To give the more earnest heed  -  perissoteroos prosechein  -  Literally, "to give heed more abundantly."

Prosechein  -  "to give heed," -  literally "to hold (the mind) to." 

To the things which we have heard  -  tois akoustheisin  -  Literally, "to the things which were heard," 
that is, from the messengers of the gospel. 

We should let them slip  -  pararuoomen  -  "should drift past them
It was used of

The snow slipping off from the soldiers' bodies  ( Xenophan "Anabasis" iv. 4, 11)
A ring slipping from the finger   (Plutarch, "Amat." 754)
"Let not my words flow past before thine eyes."  (Symmachus' rendering of Prov 4:21)

The idea is in sharp contrast with "giving earnest heed." Lapse from truth and goodness is more often the result of inattention than of design.

Drifting is a mark of death The log drifts with the tide
Giving heed is a mark of life The ship breasts the adverse waves, because someone is giving earnest heed

For if…. 
The necessity of heedful care is grounded on the certainty of retribution. This certainty is proportional to the authority of the revelation. 

The word spoken by angels  -  ho di' angeloon laleetheis logos
The word - the revelation - spoken through angels, as the organs of the Divine communication, that is the Law. The title word is given to the Law in order to characterize it as the central part of the Old Revelation around which all later words were gathered.

The agency of angels indicates the limitations of the legal dispensation; its character as a dispensation of the flesh. Hence, its importance in this discussion. The abolition of the old limitations is the emancipation of man from subordination to the angels. The Old Testament is made to furnish proof that such subordination is inconsistent with man's ultimate destiny to sovereignty over all creation. (Compare Deut 33:2)

So throughout the Epistle the Law is regarded as a gracious manifestation of the Divine will, and not as a code of stern discipline. The connection of the angels with the giving of the Law is recognized elsewhere in the New Testament:  Gal. 3:19; Acts 7:53.

Gal 3:19
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."    (KJV)

Acts 7:53
"Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it."   (KJV)

By a natural process of interpretation the attendance of the angels at the revelation on Sinai (Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17) was taken to indicate their ministration.

Was steadfast  -  egeneto bebaios  -  confirmed
Proved sure, not only was assured, confirmed (was confirmed verse 3) by some external authority; but, as it were, vindicated its own claims. There is in the divine Law a self executing power. It confirms itself. 

Realized itself in the event as securely founded in the Divine holiness, and eternal in its principles and obligations. Compare Matt 5:18,

And every transgression and disobedience  -  parabasis kai parakoee  -  "a stepping over the line"
This describes the actual transgression (disobedience), a positive offence (the overt act). 
This Greek word describes properly the disobedience which fails to fulfill an injunction, and so includes negative offences (the spirit). Compare 2 Cor. 10:6; Rom. 5:19.

In Romans 5 the sin of Adam is described successively as

(Rom 5:14)  Sin of Adam Transgression Death reigned on all
(Rom 5:15) Sacrifice of Christ Free Gift Grace Abounded to Many
(Rom 5:17) Sin of Adam Offence Death reigned on all
(Rom 5:18) Righteousness of Christ Free Gift Justification of Life
(Rom 5:19)  Sin of Adam Disobedience Many were made Sinners
(Rom 5:19) Obedience of Christ Many are made Righteous

The contrast is between

Adam (hence the Humanity at large) and his rebellious, sinful nature after the fall, and
Christ and His obedient, sinless nature passed on to the believers after the crucifixion.

The violation of a positive divine enactment. A disobedience which results from neglecting to "hear;" from letting things "drift by."  It is noticeable how often in Old Testament obedience is described as hearing, and disobedience as refusing to hear. ( Exod. 15:26; 19:5,8; 23:22; Josh. 1:18; Isa. 28:12; 30:9; Jer. 11:10:32:28; 35:16)  Compare Acts 7:57.

The punishment meets the transgression, not the transgressor. There is an absolute correspondence. Compare Col. 3:25 (Eph. 6:8).

The word occurs again in Romans 3:8.  As it describes that which conforms to a rule, and not that which embodies a rule. It is used also of judgment as being not only right, but righteous. John 5:30; 7:24; Rev. 16:7; 19:2; 2 Thess. 2:1. Compare Luke 12:57; and of the 'commandment' (Rom. 7:12) and the 'ways' of God (Rev. 15:3).

Just Recompense  -  endikon endikos
The word is found again in the Greek Scriptures only in Heb. 10:35; 11:26, and the corresponding personal noun a rewarder in Heb. 6:6.   It appears to emphasize the idea of an exact requital of good or evil by a sovereign Judge. The discipline and punishment of the wilderness (Heb. 3:16; I Cor. 10:6) furnished the typical illustration of this teaching with extends to the whole Jewish life: Heb. 12:25; 10:28.

"I am right to punish," that is, "I have a right," etc.  Right or justice being regarded as working within a definite circle. (Compare Heb 10:35; 11:26)  The reference is, primarily, to the punishments suffered by the Israelites in the wilderness. (Compare Heb 3:16; 10:28; 1 Cor 10:5-6)

How shall we escape   -  poos heemeis ekfeuxometha
The interrogative form is characteristic of the style of the Epistle (Heb. 1:5 note). Compare I Tim. 3:5; I John 3:17. How shall we escape after neglecting…….? The neglect is assumed.  The thought falls in with "drift past," Heb 2:1.

We, to whom God has spoken by his Son, and who, therefore, have so much the more reason for giving heed. 

So Great A Salvation
Salvation  (sooteerian)   The character of the new dispensation (See Jer. 31:31) is placed in contrast with the Law.

Characterizing the new dispensation, as "the word" (Heb 2:2) characterizes the old. Not the "teaching or word" of salvation, but the "salvation itself" which is the gift of the gospel, to be obtained by purification from sin through the agency of the Son (Heb 1:3).

It is Grace that makes it "so great".  In contrast to the sin of humanity, which was earned and deserved; Salvation is a free gift and undeserved.

Hebrews 2:3&4
The superior authority of the Gospel is shown in three points:

In its original announcement First spoken by the Lord
In its convincing proclamation Confirmed unto us by them that heard it
In the manifold divine attestation to its truth God also bearing witness with
Gifts of the Holy Spirit

"How shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]?"   (Amplified)

Which  -  heetis  
A salvation which may be described as one which was first spoken by the Lord.
The pronoun preserves its full force: Seeing that it….was confirmed.

At first began to be spoken  -  archeen labousa laleisthai  
A commencement having received to be. This singular mode of expression suggests somewhat more than the simple fact having first been spoken,  and implies that the teaching of the Lord was the true origin of the Gospel

The addition of the verb calls attention to the present preaching, and to the fact that this is based on the original preaching of Jesus Christ.

By the Lord   tou kuriou 
It is "the beginning," not "the speaking" which is emphasized.  Through the Lord as the Messenger of the Father (Heb. 1:2). The idea is of the Sovereign Majesty of Christ in Himself.

By those that heard.] by the immediate hearers: Luke 1:2. Contrast this with I John 1:1. Though Paul was not a hearer of Jesus Christ in the flesh, yet it is scarcely conceivable that he should have placed himself thus in contrast with those who were hearers of the ministry of Jesus. Gal. 1:12; and if the writer was a disciple of Paul he must refer to other teachers also.

Was confirmed  -  ebebaioothee  -  It was "sure" 
was brought unto us - into our midst - and confirmed to us. The use of the preposition suggests an interval between the first preaching and the writer's reception of the message. It is to be noticed that the 'salvation' and not merely the message of it (Acts 13:26) was 'confirmed': the 'salvation' was shown to be real in the experience of those who received it. There is a progress from that which is most striking outwardly to that which is most decisive inwardly. The outward phenomenon and the inward experience are both in different ways capable of various interpretations; but they are complementary. The one supplies that element of conviction which the other wants. In other words, you see a wonder or sign from God and then your heart is convicted by the Holy Spirit and what God wanted done takes place when you come to Him for salvation.

The passage is of deep interest as showing the unquestioned reality of miraculous gifts in the early Church: and the way in which they were regarded as coordinate with other exhibitions of divine power. Compare 2 Cor. 12:12; Gal. 3:5; Rom. 15:19 also Heb. 6:4.

Bearing them witness   -  sunepimarturountos tou Theou  -  giving "additional" testimony
God also bearing witness with them to the truth of the word.  This witness is present and not past. 

With signs and wonders  -  seemeiois te kai terasin
"signs" - seemeion - Any miraculous event that is suited to show that what had been predicted by a prophet would certainly take place; see Matt 12:38. 
"wonder" - teras  - denotes a portent, or prodigy - something that is suited to excite wonder or amazement,  hence, a miracle. The words together refer to the various miracles which were performed by the Lord Jesus and his apostles, designed to confirm the truth of the Christian religion.

Divers miracles  -  poikilais dunamesin  
Various acts of power -  by manifold powers, showing themselves in their characteristic results;  (Acts 3:3-10)

No doubt these include miracles (see Acts 2:22; 2 Cor 12:12); but "powers" signifies, not only the miraculous "manifestations," as "signs and wonders," but the miraculous "energies" of God as displayed in his various forms of witness.

Various miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. The miracles were not of one class merely, but were various, so that all pretence of deception should be taken away.

Acts 3:4-10
(4)   And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
(5)   And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
(6)   Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
(7)   And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
(8)   And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.                                                          
(9)   And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
(10) And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

Gifts Of the Holy Ghost  
"gifts" - merismois  -  distributions
The various influences of the Holy Spirit enabling them to speak different languages, and to perform works beyond the power of man.

The Holy Spirit is in one sense the gift and in another the Giver. Here there can be no doubt that the thought is of the divine gift as imparted in several measures by God.  (Compare John 3:34; 2 Cor. 10:13)

According to his will  -  kata teen autou Theleesin  -  his "act" of will
The Spirit was imparted and distributed as God willed.  It describes the active exercise of will.. 

Hebrews 2:5-18   Fulfillment of the Divine Destiny of Man in the Son of Man Through Suffering
Two main thoughts are brought out in this section:

Next Section
Previous Section

1. vs 5-9 The promise of sovereignty to man was fulfilled in Jesus ('the Son of man')
2. vs 10-18 The fulfillment of man's destiny, owing to the intrusion of sin, could only be brought about through suffering, made possible for Christ and effective for man through the Incarnation

Throughout the section there is a tacit reference to the objections which were raised against the Lord's claims to Messiahship on the ground of the actual facts of His life and sufferings.

First thought:  The promise of man's sovereignty and its potential fulfillment

Heb 2:5-9
(5)   For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
(6)   But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
(7)   Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
(8)   Thou hast 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 see not yet 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 should taste death for every man.

The writer of the Epistle has already assumed the establishment of a new order corresponding with the fulfillment of the purpose of creation. The sovereignty of this order was not prepared for angels (v. 5). It was promised to man (Vs 6-8); and the promise was fulfilled in 'Jesus' (v. 8b-9).

Translation of the Greek text according to Westcott:
Heb 2:5-9   "For not unto angels did He subject the world to come, whereof we speak.  But one testified as we know (somewhere) saying What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?   Thou madest him a little lower than angels; With glory and honor Thou crownedst him; And didst set him over the works of Thy hands:  Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.  But we behold Him who hath been made a little lower than angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He should taste of death for every man."

For not unto angels 

The manifestations of the Divine Presence which have been shown to attend the proclamation of the Gospel in verse 4 are intelligible both from :

1. The Nature of the Son.
2. The scope of His work.

The greatness of the Son as the Revealer of the New Dispensation and of its preachers, His envoys, is revealed by the fact that:

1. The future dispensation, which is, as has been already implied, the fulfillment of the Creator's will, was committed to man.
2.  And that man's sovereignty has been gained for him, even after his failure, through the Incarnation of Jesus 'the Son of Man.'

It is not said that 'the present world' was subject to angels; but at the same time the writer of the Epistle may well have recalled the belief which found expression in the LXX. Version of Deut. 32:8 "When the Most High divided nations - When He dispersed the children of Adam, He settled the boundaries of nations, According to the number of God's messengers;"

This same verse of Scripture from the Targum of Onkelos  "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He made the distribution of the children of men, He ordained the boundaries of the nations after the numbers of the sons of Israel".

It was from this interpretation of the LXX version of Deut. That God had assigned the nations to the care of angels while Israel was His own portion.

So too in later Jewish literature, e.g. in the Book of Henoch, angels are represented as having charge over different elements. See also Ecclis. 17.17 (14); Daniel 12:1;10:13,20.

Hath ... put in subjection  -  hupetaxen 
The word suggests an economy; not merely subjecting the angels, but "arranging or marshalling" them under a new order. See 1 Cor 15:27-28; Eph 1:22; Phil 3:21.

In the eternal counsel (compare Heb. 1:2  "He appointed") made known through the Psalmist. The word is borrowed by anticipation from the Psalm.

The phrase is not to be understood simply of 'the future life' or, more generally, of 'heaven.'
It describes:

In relation to that which we may call its constitution
The state of things which, in relation to its development in time, is called 'the age to come' (is to come)
In relation to its supreme Ruler and characteristics
'The Kingdom of God,' or 'the Kingdom of heaven'

The order which corresponds with the completed work of Christ.  
Compare Heb. 6:5 (of to come) and 13:14 (the coming one). 

The world to come  -  teen oikoumeneen teen mellousan  -  "the inhabited (land or country)" 

According to Vincent: "The world to come" means the new order of things inaugurated by the sacrifice of Christ.

According to Westcott: The word is used for the world so far as it is 'a seat of settled government,' or what we would call 'the civilized world.' Thus in Greek writers it is used characteristically for the countries occupied by Greeks, as distinguished from those occupied by 'barbarians' (Herod. 4. 110; Dem. De Cor. P. 242); and at a later time for the Roman empire (Philo, Leg. Ad Cai & 45; 2. 598 M.). 

It was therefore perfectly fitted to describe the Christian order under the aspect of a moral, organized system Compare Heb. 1:6

Of which we speak 
Which is the subject of the whole writing. The thought has been already announced in Heb. 1:2, " heir of all things."

The writer's object is to show that the salvation, the new order of things inaugurated by Christ, is in pursuance of the original purpose of creation, to wit, that universal dominion was to pertain to man, and not to angels. The great salvation means lordship of the world to be. This purpose is carried out in Christ, who, in becoming man, became temporarily subject to the earthly dispensation of which angels were the administrators. This was in order that he might acquire universal lordship as man. Being now exalted above angels, he does away with the angelic administration, and, in the world to come, will carry humanity with him to the position of universal lordship. This thought is developed by means of Ps 8.  Having set Christ above the angels, the writer must reconcile that claim with the historical fact of Christ's humiliation in his incarnate state.  The Psalm presents a paradox in the antithesis of "lower than the angels" and "all things under his feet." From the Psalm is drawn the statement of a temporary subordination of Christ to angels, followed by his permanent exaltation over them.

He was temporarily "a little lower than the angels" in that he experienced the death that had passed on to sinful man.
He was  then permanently exalted above "all things" when He came forth, victorious over death.  (Rev 1:18)

The promise of universal sovereignty was confirmed to man in a passage of Scripture (Psalms 8:5-7) which fully recognizes his infirmity. His weakness is first confessed (v. 6); and then his triple divine endowment of nature, honor, dominion (v. 7,8a).

Ps 8:5
"For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor."   (KJV)

The 8th Psalm is referred to by the Lord   (Matthew 21:16  compare Matthew 11:25; I Cor. 1:27),
and by Paul in I Cor. 15:27.   (Compare also Eph. 1:22)

This Psalm has not, and has never been accounted by the Jews to be directly Messianic; but as expressing the true destiny of man,  it finds its accomplishment in the Son of Man and only through Him in man. It offers the ideal (Gen. 1:27-30) which was lost by Adam and then regained and realized by Jesus Christ.

Psalm 8:4-8 in the LXX.
"What is man that Thou shouldest be mindful of him, or a son of man that Thou shouldest visit him!  Thou madest him a little lower than angels, with glory and honor Thou hast crowned him,  and set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet - flocks and herds of all sorts - also the beasts of the field - the birds of the air, and fishes of the sea - what ever travel the paths of the seas."

These words speak of the nobility of man's nature which falls but little short of the divine. And so Adam was, before he sinned.  The words on the contrary as applied to Christ describe a humiliation. This application is facilitated by the LXX. Rendering, but does not depend upon it. The essential idea is that the true destiny of man described by the Psalmist, which experience teaches us that man himself has missed, was fulfilled otherwise than had been expected.

Words which were used of man in himself became first true of One Who, being more than man, took man's nature upon Himself (John 1:14 'and the Word was made flesh').  In such a case the description of dignity was of necessity converted initially into a description of condescension.

The thought of man's frailty comes first.  According to a remarkable Jewish tradition the words were addressed by the ministering angels to God when 'Moses went up to receive the Law.'   'O Lord of the world,' they said, 'wilt Thou give to flesh and blood that precious thing which Thou hast kept for 974 generations? (Psalm 8:5). Give Thy glory rather to heaven' (reference Sabb. 88, 1).


Testified  -  diemarturato  -  a  "solemn, earnest"  testimony.

What is man?
"What, what kind of,"  implies  "how small or insignificant"  compared with the array of the heavenly bodies; not "how great is man."

Thou art mindful...thou visitest  
The twofold regard of thought and action is used almost exclusively in the LXX., as in the New Testament, of a visitation for good. (Luke 1:68,78; 7:16; Acts 15:14)   The word was especially used of the 'visits' of a physician. Compare Matt. 25:36; James 1:27.

The primary sense of the verb (visitest) is "to look upon;" hence, "to look after or inspect; to visit" in order to inspect or help.  Similarly, the Latin "visere" means both "to look at" and "to visit."

episkopos is "an overlooker
episkopee is "visitation

Here it is  episkeptee "graciously and helpfully regarding; caring for."
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft

The son of man
In the Hebrew: "son of Adam," with a reference to his earthly nature as formed out of the dust. Very often in Ezekiel as a form of address to the prophet.
In the Septuagint it is: huie pou  - "son of man."   The direct reference of these words cannot be to the Messiah, yet one is reminded that "the Son of man" was Christ's own title for himself as He identified Himself with sinful man.

In spite of his frailty man recognizes his divine affinity. He is more glorious than the world which seems to crush him, in nature, endowment, destiny.

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels  -  eelattoosas auton brachu ti par' angelous  -  "thou didst for some little time make him lower than the angels."    "to make less or inferior"

He who has been described as superior to the angels, was, for a short time, on the same plane with man, and identified with an economy which was under the administration of angels. This temporary subordination to angels was followed by permanent elevation over them. 

Thou crownedst Him     didst crown - as a conqueror  (2 Tim.2:5)

All things 
Man's sovereignty is exercised over a worthy domain. This clause completes the view of man's eminence in nature, glory, dominion. The view which is given in the quotation from Ps. 8. Of the splendor of man's destiny according to the divine idea is necessary for the argument of the Epistle. It suggests the thought of 'the Gospel of Creation,' and indicates an essential relation between the Son of God and men. 

At the same time it prepares the way for the full acceptance of the great mystery of a redemption through suffering. The promise of dominion given in the first chapter of Genesis is renewed and raised to a higher form. Even as man was destined to rule  'the present world,'  so is it the pleasure of God that he should rule 'the world to come.' His dominion may be delayed, misinterpreted, obscured, but the divine counsel goes forward to accomplishment through the sorrows which seem to mar it.

God did not subject the future world to angels, for He promised man an absolute sovereignty which has still to be assured in that coming order. The all things takes up the things of the Psalm.
But now = but at present, as the world is……

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet, "that is to say," nothing is excepted.

For man, as we have seen, has missed his true end. He is involved in sin and in an inheritance of the fruit of sins.

Born for God he has no right of access to God   (Heb. 9:8)
 For him, till the Incarnation, God was represented by the darkness of a veiled sanctuary (Tabernacle)
The highest acts of worship served only to remind him of his position and not to  ameliorate it    
(Heb. 10:4,11)
He was held by fear   (Heb. 2:15)
Yet their primal promise was not recalled.
He stood therefore in the face of a destiny unattained and unrevoked
A destiny which experience had shown that he could not himself reach,
And which yet he could not abandon as beyond hope

For man, as he is, 

Still retains the lineaments of the divine image in which he was made
He is still able to pronounce an authoritative moral judgment
He is still able to recognize that which corresponds with the Nature of God  (Heb. 2:10)
And with the needs of humanity  (Heb. 7:26)
And in the face of every sorrow and every disappointment he sees a continuity in the divine action
And guards a sure confidence in the divine righteousness (Heb. 6:10)

It follows therefore that there is still in humanity a capacity for receiving that for which it was first created. The Son could become true man without change in His Divine Person, and without any violation of the completeness of the Nature which he assumed. The prospect is opened of  'consummation through suffering.'

Heb 2:8b,9  speaks of the divine fulfillment of the promise in the Son of man. The promise to man has not however yet been realized in the flesh. It assured to him a dominion absolute and universal; and as yet he has no such dominion (v. 8b). But the words of the Psalm have received a new fulfillment. The Son of God has assumed the nature in which man was created. In that nature - bearing its last sorrows - He has been crowned with glory. The fruit of His work is universal.

In 'the Son of man' (Jesus) then, there is the assurance that man's sovereignty shall be gained (v. 9). Thus the fact of man's obvious failure is contrasted with the accomplishment of Christ's work which is the potential fulfillment of man's destiny which is


But who
But in spite of the obvious fact of man's failure the promise has not failed: we behold Him that hath been made a little lower than angels, even Jesus…..crowned with glory and honor……The words of the Psalm have an unexpected accomplishment. The man thus spoken of as little less than angels (so great is he) is represented by Jesus, the Son of God become flesh, and so made little less than angels (so full of condescension was He), and in that humanity which He has taken to Himself crowned with glory.

Jesus is not the 'man' of the Psalmist, but He through whom the promise to man has been fulfilled and is in fulfillment; while the revelation of the complete fulfillment belongs to 'the world to come.  'But who little some made' does not refer to the Psalm as fixing the original meaning of it, but to the known personality of Christ in whom the promise of the Psalm was fulfilled.

Jesus ... made a little lower    Repeated from Heb 2:7

To be subordinated to the angels is the same as being "made under the law," Gal 4:4. In that chapter Paul shows that the law under which the church in its state of pupilage was kept (Gal 3:23; 4:3) was instituted through the mediation of angels (Gal 3:19). 

Then, as interchangeable with under the law, Paul has "enslaved under the elements  (hupo stoicheia) of the world" (Gal 4:3,9). These elements are "elemental forces or spirits," as appears from a correct interpretation of Col 2:8,20.
This accords with the Epistle to the Colossians which deals with the heresy of angel worship, and in which the worship of angels is represented as connected with the service of elemental or cosmic forces. Very striking is Col 2:15. When the bond of the law was rendered void in Christ's crucifixion, that ministry of angels which waited on the giving of the law was set aside (apekdusamenos) by God  "having stripped off",  revealing Christ as the head of every principality and power. God made a "show or display" (edeigmatisen) of them  as subordinate and subject to Christ.  He thus "boldly" (en parreesia), by a bold stroke, put His own chosen ministers in subjection before the eyes of the world.  

The name (Jesus) comes in emphatically as marking Him who, being truly man, fulfilled the conception of the Psalmist of 'one made a little lower than angels.' The personal name Jesus, which always fixes attention on the Lord's humanity, occurs frequently in the Epistle.

The use of the human name, Jesus, at this point, is significant. In this epistle that name usually furnishes the key to the argument of the passage in which it occurs. See Heb 3:1; 6:20; 12:2.

For the separation of the Name (Him that hath been made….even Jesus) compare Heb. 3:1; 12:2,24; 13:20 (our Lord even Jesus; comp. 6:20;7:22); I Thess. 2:15; 3:13.

On account of the suffering of death 
The endurance of the uttermost penalty of sin - was the ground of the Lord's exaltation in His humanity. Comp. Phil. 2:19 (Rom. 8:17).

The words are not to be joined with made lower either in the sense:

That in this lay His humiliation
That this was the aim of His humiliation, that death might be possible, 'owing to the fact that death has to be borne by men.'

The main thought of the passage is that man's promised supremacy, owing to the fall, could only be gained by sacrifice.

Stress is laid not upon the single historic fact that the Lord suffered death (on account of the suffering of death), but on the nature of the suffering (on account of the suffering).

As in the case of the Lord's humiliation so also in this of His exaltation the writer brings out the permanent effect (not thou didst crown of verse 7).

So that by
The particle is not strictly connected with crowned alone, but refers to all that precedes - to the Passion crowned by the Ascension. The glory which followed the death marked its universal efficacy. Thus Christ was made lower than angels that He might accomplish this complete redemption.

The reading by grace of God is capable of being understood in several ways:

1. Christ died 'apart from His divinity.' His divine Nature had no share in His death.
2. Christ died 'apart from God,' being left by God, and feeling the completeness of the separation as the penalty of sin. Compare Matthew 27:46.
3. Christ died for all, God only excepted. Compare I Corinthians 15:27.
4. Christ died to gain all, to bring all under His power, God only excepted.

But all these thoughts seem to be foreign to the context, while it is natural to bring out the greatness of God's grace in fulfilling His original counsel of love in spite of man's sin. The reference to 'the grace of God' seems to be the necessary starting point.

God manifested his grace in giving Christ the opportunity of tasting death for every man, and so abolishing death as a curse. The same thought of glory in humiliation is expressed in John 1:14. To be called to the office of "apostle and high priest of our confession" (Heb 3:1), an office which involved personal humiliation and death, was to be "crowned with glory and honor," and was a signal token of God's favor. Note John 12:23,28; 13:31-32, in which Jesus speaks of his approaching passion as itself his glorification. Compare Heb 3:3. It was desirable to show to Jews who were tempted to stumble at the doctrine of a crucified Messiah (Gal 3:13), that there was a glory in humiliation.

For everyone
The Syriac. Version states 'for every man' Compare Mark 9:49; Luke 16:16. The singular points to the effect of Christ's work on the last element of personality. Christ tasted death not only for all but for each. The thought throughout the passage (v. 16) is directed to personal objects; and in such a connection the phrase could hardly mean 'for everything' (neuter in Greek language). This thought however is included in the masculine. Creation is redeemed in man (Rom. 8:19). 

The phrase expresses not only the fact of death, but the conscious experience, the tasting the bitterness, of death. Man, as he is, cannot feel the full significance of death, the consequence of sin, though he is subject to the fear of it (v. 15); but Christ, in His sinlessness, perfectly realized its awfulness.  In this fact lies the immeasurable difference between the death of Christ, simply as death, and that of the holiest martyr. 

Vincent says that with a view to the recoil of Jewish readers from the thought of a suffering Messiah (1 Cor 1:23), the divine Author shows that Jesus' suffering and death were according to the divine fitness of things.

Heb 2:10-13

Heb 2:10-13
(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."

 Second thoughtMan's destiny made possible for Christ and effective for man through the incarnation

The thought of death, and the fact of Christ’s death, lead the apostle to develop more in detail the conditions under which man’s destiny and God’s promise were fulfilled in spite of sin. The reality of the connection between the Son and the sons is first traced back to their common source and shown to be recognized in the records of the Old Testament (v. 10-15). This connection was completed by the Incarnation with a twofold object: 

to overcome the prince of death, and
to establish man’s freedom (v. 14,15). 

And such a completion was necessary from the sphere, the scope, the application of Christ’s work (v. 16-18).

Sovereignty for man fallen was won through suffering (10-18).

1. The Son and the sons
The connection lies in a common Source (11a)
The suffering King (12)
The representative Prophet (13)
2. The connection of the Son and the sons completed by the Incarnation (14,15)
To overcome the prince of death (14b)
To establish man’s freedom (15)
3. The Incarnation necessary (16-18), from
The sphere of Christ’s work (16)
The scope of Christ’s work (17)
The application of Christ’s work (18)

The Son and the sons 
The difficulties which at first sight beset the conception of a suffering Messiah vanish upon closer thought. For when we consider what is the relation between the Son of man and men - the Son and the sons - what man’s condition is, and how he can be redeemed only through divine fellowship, we ourselves can discern the ‘fitness’ of the divine method of redemption. So far therefore from the Death of Christ being an objection to His claims, it really falls in with what deeper reflection suggests.

The connection of the Son and the sons is

first referred to their common source (v. 11 ) 
and then shown to be recognized in the divine dealings with representative men
under the Old Covenant,
the suffering king,
the typical prophet (12,13).

There is throughout the section a reference to the Jewish expectation that Messiah should ‘abide for ever’ (John 12:34).

John 12:34
The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?   (KJV)

Translation of the Greek text according to Westcott:
Heb 2:10-13:  "For it was becoming to him, for whom [are] all things and by whom [are] all things, many sons to glory bringing, the leader of their salvation through sufferings to make perfect.  For both he who sanctifies and those sanctified of one [are] all; for which cause he is not ashamed brethren them to call,  saying, I will declare thy name to my brethren; in [the] midst of [the] assembly I will sing praise to thee.  And again, I will be trusting in him. and again, Behold I and the children which me gave God."

It became  -  eprepen
Not "logical necessity" (dei)  (Heb 2:1), 
nor "obligation growing out of circumstances"  (oofeilen)  ( Heb 2:17), 
but an "inner fitness" in God's dealing. 

Dr. Robertson Smith observes:  "The whole course of nature and grace must find its explanation in God; and not merely in an abstract divine arbitrium, but in that which befits the divine nature." 

"Yes," the apostle seems to say, “taste of death by the grace of God,  for we, with our poor powers, can say that in this there is supreme fitness.’ The suffering of Christ in the fulfillment of His work corresponds with the truest conception which man can form of the Divine Nature.

For it was becoming  (Compare Heb. 7:26; Matt. 3:15)   The standard lies in what man (made in the image of God) can recognize as conformable to the divine attributes. For man still has a power of moral judgment which can help him to the interpretation of the action of God, and also of his own need (Heb. 7:26).

The ‘fitness’ in this case lies in the condition of man. His life is attended by inevitable sorrows; or, to regard the fact in another light, suffering is a necessary part of his discipline as well as a necessary consequence of his state. It was ‘fitting’ then, in our language, that God should perfect Christ the ‘One’ Son by that suffering through which the ‘many sons’ are trained (Heb. 12:5) because He, in His infinite love, took humanity to Himself. In Christ we can see the divine end of suffering: suffering consummated in glory.

This argument from ‘fitness’ is distinct from that of logical necessity (it behooves v. 1), and of obligation from a position which has been assumed (it behooved v. 17).

For whom……by whom  -  di' hon ... di' hou  -  "for whose sake" all things exist.
This description of God, as being the final Cause and the efficient Cause of all things, takes the place of the simple title because the fitness of Christ’s perfection through suffering appears from the consideration of the divine end and method of life.

God is the final cause of all things. This is not eis auton ta panta - "unto whom are all things," (Rom 11:36); which signifies that all things have their realization in God; while this means that all things have their reason in God. "By whom, through whose agency," all things came into being.  It was becoming even to a God who is the beginning and the end of all things. 

Many sons
Christ has been spoken of as ‘the Son.’  Men now are made to share His title (Compare Heb. 12:5). The use of many brings no limitation to the scope of Christ’s work (compare Heb. 9:28) which has just been described in its universal aspect. It simply emphasizes the truth that the pattern of Christ’s Life was in this aspect of wide application. Compare Matt. 20:28.

"Many sons," since their leader himself was a son. "Unto glory," in accordance with the glory with which he himself had been crowned (Heb 2:9). The glory is not distinguished from the salvation immediately following. For the combination "salvation and glory" see 2 Tim 2:10; Rev 19:1. 

To make perfect - teleioosai - Literally, "to carry to the goal or consummation."

To glory bringing…….to make perfect  -   Though the objects of   bringing   and   to make perfect   are different the two acts which they describe are regarded as synchronous, or rather as absolute without reference to the succession of time.

The perfecting of Christ included the triumph of those who are sons in Him. At the same time the work of God and the work of Christ are set side by side. God ‘brings’ the many sons and Christ is their ‘leader’. The order, no less than the stress which is laid on the completed work of Christ, if  fatal to the proposed connection of bringing with Christ, who had ‘brought many sons to glory’ during His ministry, even if Christians, who are called His ‘brethren’ (v. 11), could in this place be spoken of as His ‘sons’ (in v. 13 the case is different). And so again the use of with glory is decisive against the idea that God is spoken of as ‘having brought many sons to glory’ in earlier times.

The "perfecting" of Jesus corresponds to his being "crowned with glory and honor," although it is not a mere synonym for that phrase; for the writer conceives the perfecting not as an act but as a process. "To make perfect" does not imply moral imperfection in Jesus, but only the consummation of that human experience of sorrow and pain through which he must pass in order to become the leader his people's salvation. 

The captain of their salvation  -  ton archeegon tees sooteerias autoon
Compare Acts 5:31

According to Vincent, "captain" (archeegos),  is found quite frequently in the Septuagint and Greek and Roman Classical authors. The English Revised Version (1885) renders "author," which misses the fact that the Son precedes the saved on the path to glory. The idea is rather "leader," and is fairly expressed by "captain."

According to Westcott,  The author (or captain) of their salvation. Neither word gives the fullness of sense. The leader himself first takes part in that which he establishes. Compare Heb. 12:2; Acts 3:15;5:31.

The conception of to make perfect is that of bringing Christ to the full moral perfection of His humanity (c.f. Luke 13:32), which carries with it the completeness of power and dignity. Compare Heb. 10:1,14; 11:40;12:23; Phil. 3:12 (v. 6). This ‘perfection’ was not reached till after Death: 5:9; 7:28. It lay, indeed, in part in the triumph over death by the Resurrection.

The idea of  to make perfect - consummation, bringing to perfection is characteristic of the Epistle. One peculiar use requires special attention. It is employed several times in the rendering of ‘filling the hands,’ which describes the installation of the priests in the actual exercise of their office (the making their hands perfect by the material of their work), and not simply their consecration to it. Ex. 29:9. The installation of the priest was a type of that which Christ attained to absolutely. The priest required to be furnished in symbol with all that was required for the fulfillment of his office. Christ perfectly gained all in Himself.

In the Books of the New Testament (if we omit for the present the Epistle to the Hebrews) the adjective of to make perfect is used to describe that which has reached the highest perfection in the sphere which is contemplated, as contrasted with that which is:

Partial (I Cor. 13:10)
Imperfect (James 1:4)
Provisional (James 1:25)
Incomplete (Rom. 12:2; James 1:17; I John 4:18)
Generally  (Matt. 5:48; 19:21; I Cor. 2:6; Phil. 3:15; James 3:2)
Some particular aspect  (I Cor. 14:20)

Throughout these various applications of the word (to make perfect),  one general thought is preserved.  He who is perfect has reached the end which is in each case set before him, maturity of growth, complete development of powers, full enjoyment of privileges, perfect possession of knowledge. 

The sense of the word in the Epistle to the Hebrews exactly conforms to this usage. 

The perfect - the matured Christian  is contrasted with the undeveloped babe (v. 14)
The provisional and transitory tabernacle is contrasted with that which was ‘more perfect’
(Heb. 9:11)
The ripe perfectness of Christian knowledge is set against the first elementary teaching of the Gospel
(Heb. 6:1)

Christ, as He leads faith, so to speak,  to the conflict,  carries it to its absolute triumph (Heb. 12:2). The aim of a religious system (Heb. 7:11), to bring men to their true end, when all the fullness of humanity in power and development is brought into fellowship with God. And in this sense God was pleased to ‘make’ the Incarnate son ‘perfect through suffering’ (Heb. 2:10;5:9;7:28), and the Son, by His one offering, to ‘make perfect them that are sanctified’ (Heb. 10:14; 11:40; 12:23). 


Next Section
Previous Section

In connection with the Person and Work of Christ the idea of  to make perfect  finds three distinct applications:

1. He is Himself’ made perfect’
(Heb. 2:10; 5:7;7:28)
2. He ‘perfects’ others through fellowship with Himself 
(Heb. 10:14; 11:39; 12:23)
3. His ‘perfection through suffering’ is the ground of absolute sympathy with men in their weakness, and failure, and efforts
(Heb. 2:17; 4:15;12:2)

A general view of the distinctive thoughts in these passages will illustrate the breadth and fullness of the teaching of the Epistle. The notes on the several passages will suggest in detail thoughts for further study. 

A.  Christ is "Made Perfect"
The personal consummation of Christ in His humanity.
These three passages present the fact under three different aspects:
1. The first passage    (Heb. 2:10) 
declares the general method by which the consummation was reached in regard to the divine counsel: God perfected His Incarnate Son through sufferings; and Man is able to recognize the fitness of this method from the consideration of his own position and needs.
2. In the second passage   (Heb. 5:7)
we are allowed to see the action of the divine discipline upon the Son of man during His earthly life, in its course and in its end. He realized to the uttermost the absolute dependence of humanity upon God in the fullness of personal communion with Him, even through the last issues of sin in death.
3. In the third passage   (Heb. 12:28)
there is a revelation of the abiding work of the Son for men as their eternal High Priest.
In studying the perfection of Christ, account must be taken both: 
a. Of His life as man (John 8:40; I Tim. 2:5; Acts 2:22; 17:31), so far as He fulfilled in a true human life the destiny of man personally.
b. And of His life as the Son of man, so far as He fulfilled in His life, as Head of the race, the destiny of humanity by redemption and consummation. The two lives indeed are only separable in thought, but the effort to give clearness to them reveals a little more of the meaning of the Gospel.
And yet again: these three passages are of great importance as emphasizing the reality of the Lord’s human life from step to step. It is at each moment perfect with the ideal of human perfection according to the circumstances.

It is unscriptural, though the practice is supported by strong patristic authority, to regard the Lord during His historic life as acting now by His human and now by His Divine Nature only. The two Natures were inseparably combined in the unity of His Person. In all things He acts Personally and, as far as it is revealed to us, His greatest works during His earthly life are wrought by the help of the Father through the energy of a humanity enabled to do all things in fellowship with God (Compare John 11:41).

B.  Christ makes His People Perfect
From the revelation of the perfection of the Lord we pass to the second group of passages in which men are shown to receive from Him the virtue of that perfection which He has reached. Those who are ‘in Christ,’ according to the phrase of Paul (which is not found in this Epistle; yet see Heb. 10:10,19), share the privileges of their Head. These three passages also present the truth which they express in different lights: 
1. The fourth passage   (Heb. 10:14)
Gives the one sufficient and abiding ground of man’s attainment to perfection in the fact of Christ’s work. Man has simply to take to himself what Christ has already done for him.
2. The fifth passage   (Heb. 11:39)
Enables us to understand the unexpected slowness of the fulfillment of our hopes. There is a great counsel of Providence which we can trust.
3. The sixth passage  (Heb 12:23)
A glimpse is opened of the righteous who have obtained the abiding possession of that which Christ has won.
C.  Christ's Perfection through Suffering the Pledge of His Perfect Sympathy
In the third group of passages which deal with Christ’s ‘perfection’ in His humanity we are led to observe how His ‘perfection through sufferings’ becomes the ground and pledge of His unfailing sympathy with men. The experience of His earthly life (as we speak) remains in His glory. 
Thus we see in succession:
1. The seventh passage   (Heb. 2:17)
That Christ’s assumption of true and perfect humanity becomes the spring of His High-priestly work in making propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for sins and rendering help to men answering to the universality of His own suffering and temptation 
2. The eighth passage   (Heb. 4:14-16)
And next that the assurance of sympathy based on the fellowship of Nature and experience brings confidence to men in their approach to God for pardon and strength .
3. The ninth passage   (Heb. 12:1)
And yet again that Christ Himself in the fulfillment of His work proved from first to last the power of that faith by which we also walk .

No one can regard even summarily these nine passages without feeling their far-reaching significance. And it is of special importance to dwell on the view which is given to us in the Epistle of the perfection of Christ from its direct practical importance:

A. It gives a vivid and natural distinctness to our historic conception of the Lord’s life on earth.
B. It enables us to apprehend, according to our power, the complete harmony of the Divine and Human Natures in One Person, each finding fulfillment, as we speak, according to its proper law in the fullness of One Life.
C. It reveals the completeness of the work of the Incarnation which brings to each human power and each part of human life its true perfection.
D. It brings the universal truth home to each man individually in his little life, a fragment of human life, and presents to us at each moment the necessity of effort, and assures us of corresponding help.
E. It teaches us to see the perfect correspondence between the completeness of the divine work, and the progressive realization of it by man.

The title of  ‘sons’ can be rightly applied to Christians as well as to Christ, for, though in different senses, they depend on one Father (v. 11);  and this fact is recognized in the Scripture of the Old Covenant (vv. 12,13).

For both he who sanctifies 
The discipline through which Christ reached perfection is that through which He brings His people. That which is appointed for them He also accepts (John 17:19), for both He and they are of One Father.

The present participles (sanctifies,  sanctified) mark the continuous, personal application of Christ’s work. Compare John 17:17.

The Vulgate has qui sanctificantur. The thought is of the continual process at once in the individual soul and in the whole body of the church (Heb. 10:14).  

Compare Heb. 10:10 sanctified, 14; 13:12  that he might sanctify. Christians are ‘holy’ (‘saints’): Heb. 6:10; 13:24’ (3:1); and the end of their discipline is that they may ‘partake in the holiness of God’ (Heb. 12:10). That which is true ideally has to be realized actually. 

Of oneof One,   i.e. God. 
Compare Exodus 31:13; I Cor. 1:30 (8:6 quoted by Chrys.);   Luke 3:38  of Adam, of God.  

This regards the whole company of Christ and His people as forming one body, and does not distinguish specially the two constituent parts.

Some think that the statement in respect of Christ is to be confined to His Humanity. 
Others extend it to His whole Person. 
It will appear that much is lost by any precise limitation of the words. The Lord both as Son of God and as Son of Man can be spoken of as the head of the body, which is the Church, and so men also both in their creation and in their re-creation. At the same time the language used naturally fixes attention on Christ and Christians in relation to the work of redemption, sanctification wrought our on earth.

For which cause
That is, because they spring from the same source, though in different ways. Both in their being and in the consummation of their being the Son and the sons are ‘of One’. For the phrase see 2 Timothy 1:6,12; Tit. 1:13; (Luke 8:47; Acts 23:28).

With this specific form of the ‘subjective’ reason (compare Heb. 5:3) compare the general form (Wherefore 3:7,10), and the general form of the ‘objective’ ground (Wherefore v. 17). 

He is not ashamed…to call 
He is not ashamed to call - in spite of the Fall, and of the essential difference of the sonship of men from His own Sonship. Compare Heb. 11:16. 

Unto my brethren  -  tois adelfois mou
Compare Rom. 8:29. Christians are ‘brethren’ of Christ (John 20:17; Matt. 28:10) and yet children (v. 13; John 13:33  little children). 

His brethren in the worshipping assembly. This is applied by our writer to the human brotherhood at large, and Christ is represented as identifying himself with them in thanksgiving.

In order to bring many sons unto glory, Christ assumes to them the relation of  "brother."

This acknowledgment as brethren the writer represents as prophetically announced by Messiah in Ps 22:22. The Psalm is the utterance of a sufferer crying to God for help in the midst of enemies. The Psalmist declares that God has answered his prayer, and that he will give public thanks therefore .

The thought of  'brotherhood'  is extended in the two following quotations and placed in its essential connection with the thoughts of  'fatherhood' and  'sonship'.  Brothers are supported by the trust in which they repose on one above them and by the love which meets the trust.

And again, I will be 
Words nearly identical (I will wait. ...I will trust) occur in the
LXX. In Isaiah 8: 17 ; 12:2; 2 Sam. 22:3. The reference is certainly, as it appears, to Isa. 8:17, where the words immediately precede the following quotation. The two sentences of Isaiah are separated because they represent two aspects of the typical prophet in his relation to Christ:
In the first the prophet declares his personal faith on God in the midst of judgments.
In the second he stands forth with his children as representing 'the remnant', the seed of the Church, in Israel. The representative of God rests in his heavenly Father, and he is not alone: his children are already with him to continue the divine relation.
And again, behold I
Isaiah with his children were 'signs' to the unbelieving people. In them was seen the pledge of the fulfillment of God's purposes. Thus the prophet was a sign of Christ
What he indicated Christ completely fulfilled;  for under this aspect Christ is the  'father'  no less than the 'brother' of His people. The words are not referred directly to Christ by a misunderstanding of the

 He that sanctifieth  -  ho hagiazoon  
Sanctification is the path to glorification. Compare Heb 10:14. 

Of one  -  ex henos  
Probably God,  although the phrase may signify  "of one piece, or of one whole."   Jesus and his people alike have God for their father. Therefore they are brethren, and Christ, notwithstanding his superior dignity, is not ashamed to call them by that name.
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The quotations in these verses develop the main idea of the section - that of Christ fulfilling the destiny of men through suffering, by recalling typical utterances of representative men:

Of the suffering, innocent king
Of the representative prophet

Ruler and prophet both identify themselves with their people. 

The one applies to them the express term  ‘brethren
The other takes his place among them as symbolizing their true hope

The quotation  in v2:12  is taken from Psalms 22:22 and agrees with the LXX
‘I will declare Thy name to my brethren: in the midst of a congregation I will sing praise to Thee.’ (LXX)
‘I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.’   (KJV)

The Psalm itself, which probably dates from the time of David’s persecution by Saul, describes the course by which 'The Anointed of the Lord'’ made his way to the throne, or more generally the establishment of the righteous kingdom of God through suffering. In vv. 21 sorrow is turned into joy, and the words of the Psalmist become a kind of Gospel. Hence the phrase quoted here has a peculiar force. The typical king and the true King attain their sovereignty under the same conditions, and both alike in their triumph recognize their kinship with the people whom they raise (to my brethren).

The Psalm is quoted not infrequently: Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34 (v. 1); Matt. 27:39,43 (vv. 7,8); Matt. 27:35; John 19:24 (v. 18); compare Heb. 5:7 (v. 24).

I will declare thy name 
For Thou hast proved to be what I have called Thee, 'my hope and my fortress, my castle and deliverer, my defender. ..who subdueth my people under me. ' These many titles are summed up in the revelation of the Name of the Father.

In the midst of assembly (congregation
When the people are assembled to exercise their privilege as citizens of the divine common wealth.

I will put my trust   (Isa 8: 17-18) 
The passage occurs in an invective against the people's folly in trusting to any help but God's during the Syro-Israelitish war under Ahaz. The prophet is commanded to denounce those who trusted to soothsayers and not to God, and to bind and seal God's testimony to the righteous party who maintained their confidence in him-a party comprising the disciples of Isaiah, and in whom lies the prophet's hope for the future of Israel. Isaiah declares his own faith in God, and announces that he and his children have been appointed as living symbols of the divine will, so that there is no need of applying to necromancers. The names of the children are Shear-jashub "a remnant shall return," and Maher-shalal-hash- baz "haste-spoil-hurry-prey ."  These names will teach Israel that Assyria will spoil Damascus and Samaria; and that, in the midst of foreign invasion, God will still be with Judah, and will make a nation of the remnant which the war shall leave.

The prophet and his children are thus omens of the nation's fortunes. The children were babes at this time, and "the only unity which existed among them was that which exists between every father and his children, and that which resulted from their belonging to the same prophetic household and all bearing symbolic names (without knowledge of the fact on the part of the children)."

The Object of Incarnation

Next Section
Previous Section

Heb 2:14-18

Heb 2:14-18
(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

Translation of the Greek text according to Westcott:
Since therefore the children are sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might (may) bring to naught him that had (hath) the power of death, that is the devil, 15 and might (may) deliver all them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

And also:
"Since therefore the children have partaken of flesh and blood; also he in like manner took part in the same, that through death he might annul him who the might has of death, that is, the devil,  and might set free those whosoever by fear of death through all their lifetime subject were to bondage.  For not indeed of angels takes he hold; but of [the] seed of Abraham he takes hold.  Wherefore it behooved [him] in all things to [his] brethren to be made like, that a merciful he might be and faithful high priest [in] things relating to God; for to make propitiation for the sins of the people;  for in that he has suffered himself having been tempted; he is able those that tempted to help."

The object of the Incarnation  (the completed fellowship of the Son with the sons). 
The full connection of 'the Son' and 'the sons' was realized in the Incarnation with a twofold object:

1. To overcome the prince of death (v. 14)
2. To establish man's freedom, destroyed by the fear of death (v. 15)

That which has been shown before to be 'fitting' (vv 10-13) is now revealed in its inner relation to man's redemption. Christ assumed mortality that He might by dying conquer the prince of death and set man free from his tyranny.

In this paragraph man is regarded in his nature, while in the next (vv .16-18) he is regarded in his life.

Since therefore
Christ connects Himself with 'the children whom God had given Him.' These children were men. To complete His fellowship with them therefore it was necessary that He should assume their nature (John 1: 14) under its present conditions (flesh and blood) .

The children  -  ta paidia  -  Children of men, the subjects of Christ's redemption.

The phrase is taken up from the quotation just made. Isaiah and his children foreshadowed Christ and His children.

Are partakers of flesh and blood  -  kekoinooneeken haimatos kai sarkos  

The Syriac Peshitta: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise partook of the same; and by his death he has destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."

That through death 
By dying. It is implied here that:

1. The work which he undertook of destroying him that had the power of death, was to be accomplished by "his own dying" 
2. In order to this, it was necessary that he should be a man. An angel does not die, and therefore he did not take on him the nature of angels; and the Son of God in his divine nature could not die, and therefore he assumed a form in which he COULD die-that of a man. In that nature the Son of God could taste of death; and thus he could destroy him that had the power of death.

(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Him who had the power of death 
The phrase may mean   'that had'  or  'that hath'.  
In one sense the power is past: in another it continues. 
The devil, as the author of sin, has the power over death (Job 2:6)  its consequence (Rom.5:12),  not as though he could inflict it at his pleasure;  but death is his realm:  he makes it subservient to his end. Compare John 8:44; I John 3:12; John 16:11; 14:30 (prince of the world). 
Death as death is no part of the divine order. Heb 2:14

Death itself is a power which, though originally foreign to human nature, now reigns over it (Rom 5:12; 6:9).   Satan lurking beneath wields death's power, which is manifest.  The author of sin is the author of its consequences. Compare  "power of the enemy"  (Luke 10:19).  God's law  (Gen 2:17; Rom 6:23)  makes death the executioner of sin,  and man Satan's 'lawful captive.'   Jesus, by dying, has made the dying His own  (Rom 14:9), and taken the prey from the mighty  (`Wisdom,' ii. 24).
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Render it: "in like manner." Occurs only here in the New Testament. Expressing general similarity. He took his place "alongside"  (para)  and  "near"  (pleesios):  "nearby."

Took part  -  meteschen  
The distinction between this and  "were partakers"  (kekoinooneeken)  is correctly stated by Westcott; 

"were partakers"  ( kekoinooneeken
marking the characteristic sharing of the common fleshly nature as it pertains to the human race at large
"Took part"  (meteschen
signifying the unique fact of the incarnation as a voluntary acceptance of humanity

 The overthrow of the devil involved the deliverance of men from his power.

Might set free  
all men who had, as we see, come to a perception of their position as men. The unusual phrase vividly presents the picture of human misery as realized by the readers of the Epistle.

This deliverance relates:

1. To the DREAD of death.  He came to free them from that.
2. From death itself-that is, ultimately to bring them to a world where death shall be unknown. 

The DREAD of death may be removed by the work of Christ, and they who had been subject to constant alarms on account of it may be brought to look on it with calmness and peace; and ultimately they will be brought to a world where it will be wholly unknown. The DREAD of death is taken away, or they are delivered from that, because 

1. The CAUSE of that dread-to wit, sin, is removed; see the notes at 1 Cor 15:54-55.
2. They are enabled to look to the world beyond with triumphant joy. 

A Christian has nothing to fear in death; nothing beyond the grave. In no part of the universe has he any thing to dread, for God is his friend, and he will be his Protector everywhere. On the dying bed; in the grave; on the way up to the judgment; at the solemn tribunal; and in the eternal world, he is under the eye and the protection of his Savior-and of what should he be afraid?
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Through all their lifetime
The verbal phrase expresses the activity of life and not only the abstract idea of life.

Subject to bondage 
Comp. Mk. 14:64. This bondage was to the fear of death. (Oh death where is thy sting ). To death itself men are still subject, but Christ has removed its terrors. Comp. Rom. 8:15,21. This is the only place in the Epistle in which the familiar image of bondage is used.

In considering the Scriptural view of death it is important to keep the idea of a transition to a new form of being distinct from that of the circumstances under which the transition actually takes place. The passage from one form of life to another, which is involved in the essential transitoriness of man's constitution, might have been joyful. As it is death brings to our apprehension the sense of an unnatural break in personal being, and of separation from God. This pain comes from sin. The Transfiguration is a revelation of the passage of sinless humanity to the spiritual order .

The Necessity of the Incarnation

Next Section
Previous Section

The Incarnation (God in man) is further shown to be necessary from the consideration of

1. (v. 16) The sphere of Christ's work, man 
2. (v. 17) The scope of Christ's work, the redemption of fallen man
3. (v. 18) The application of Christ's work to individual men in the conflict of life

The necessity of the Incarnation follows from a consideration of the sphere of Christ's work. His purpose is, as is confessedly admitted, to assist men and not primarily other beings, as angels, though in fact they are helped through men.  He lays hold of  'a faithful seed'  to support and guide them to the end which He has Himself reached, which is the resurrection of life.

The reasons and designs of the incarnation of Christ are declared:

1. Because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he must take part of the same, and he made like his brethren, v. 14, 15. For no higher nor lower nature than man's that had sinned could so suffer for the sin of man as to satisfy the justice of God, and raise man up to a state of hope, and make believers the children of God, and so brethren to Christ.
2. He became man that he might die; as God he could not die, and therefore he assumed another nature and state. Here the wonderful love of God appeared, that, when Christ knew what he must suffer in our nature, and how he must die in it, yet he so readily took it upon him. The legal sacrifices and offerings God could not accept as propitiation. A body was prepared for Christ, and he said, Lo! I come, I delight to do thy will.
3. That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil
v. 14.  Christ has so far destroyed him who had the power of death -
that Satan can keep none under the power of spiritual death -
nor can Satan draw any into sin (the procuring cause of death) -
nor require the soul of any from the body -
nor execute the sentence upon any but those who choose and continue to be his willing slaves, and persist in their enmity to God.
4. That he might deliver his own people from the slavish fear of death to which they are often subject. This may refer to the Old-Testament saints, who were more under a spirit of bondage, because life and immortality were not so fully brought to light as now they are by the gospel. It  also refers to all the people of God, whether under the Old Testament or the New, whose minds are often in perplexing fears about death and eternity. 
5. Christ must be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to the justice and honor of God and to the support and comfort of his people. He must be faithful to God and merciful to men.
1. In things pertaining to God, to his justice, and to his honor-to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, to make all the attributes of divine nature, and all the persons subsisting therein, harmonize in man's recovery, and fully to reconcile God and man. 
2. In things pertaining to his people, to their support and comfort: In that he suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor those that are tempted, v. 18.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

For not indeed... 
The not gives the explanation of the end of the Incarnation which has been stated in v. 14.  It implies that the statement made is a familiar truth: 'for He doth not, as we well know...' 

Takes he hold  -  epilambanetai
The word used here means, to take hold upon; to seize; to surprise; to take hold with a view to detain for oneself. It also means to take hold of one as by the hand-with a view to aid, conduct, or succor;( Mark 8:23; Acts 23:19). 
It is rendered:

"took"  Mark 8:23; Luke 9:47; 14:4; Acts 9:27; 17:19; 18:17; 21:30,33; 23:19; Heb 8:9
"caught" Matt 14:31; Acts 16:19; "take hold," Luke 20:20,26
"lay hold" Luke 23:26
"laid hold" 1 Tim 6:12

The general idea is that of  seizing upon,  or laying hold of anyone-no matter what the object is-whether to aid, or to drag to punishment, or simply to conduct. Here it means to lay hold with reference to "aid," or "help;" and the meaning is, that he did not seize the nature of angels, or take it to himself with reference to rendering "them" aid, but he assumed the nature of man-in order to aid "him." He undertook the work of human redemption, and consequently it was necessary for him to be man.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Took not on him  -  ou epilambanetai 
Render it: "he doth not take hold." Compare Matt 14:31; Mark 8:23; Acts 18:17. Absolutely, in the sense of "help." The Greek and Latin fathers explained the verb in the sense of "appropriating."  He did not appropriate the nature of angels.  Angels did not need to be delivered from the fear of death.

Of the seed of Abraham
Christ took hold of  a seed of Abraham,  that is a true seed, those who are children of faith, and not of 'the seed of Abraham' the race descended from the patriarch. Comp. Lk. 1:55; John 8:33,37; Gal. 3:16,29; Rom. 9:7,11:1; 2 Cor. 11:22. The absence of the article (figure of speech) shows that a character and not a concrete people ('the Jews') is described.

At the same time the phrase marks both the breadth and the particularity of the divine promise which was fulfilled by Christ. Those of whom Christ takes hold have a spiritual character (faith), and they find their spiritual ancestor in one who answered a personal call (Abraham).

Nothing is said of the effect of the Incarnation on angels, or other beings than man. Man's fall necessarily affected all creation, and so also did man's restoration. But here the writer is simply explaining the fitness of the Incarnation.

Many however have endeavored to determine why fallen man should have been redeemed and not fallen angels. Primasius, for example, suggests the following reasons:

1. Man was tempted by the devil: the devil had no tempter .
2. Man yielded to an appetite for eating which naturally required satisfaction. The devil as spirit was inexcusable.
3. Man had not yet reached the presence of God, but was waiting to be transferred thither. The devil was already in heaven.

The one family of God, consisting of believers of both dispensations, but called by its Old Testament name. See Ps 105:6; Isa 41:8, and compare Gal 3:29. 
The Old Testament name is selected because the writer is addressing Jews.  The entire statement in Heb 2: 16-17 is not a mere repetition of Heb 2:14-15.   It carries out the line of thought and adds to it, while at the same time it presents a parallel argument to that in Heb 2:14-15.   Thus:

Heb 2:14-15 Christ took part of flesh and blood that he might deliver the children of God from the fear of death and the accusations of Satan
Heb 2: 16-17 Christ takes hold of the seed of Abraham, the church of God, and is made like unto his brethren, tempted as they are, in order that he may be a faithful high priest, making reconciliation for sin, thus doing away with the fear of death, and enabling his people to draw near to God with boldness. Compare Heb 4:15-16. 

Christ gives that peculiar help the necessity of which was exhibited in the Old Testament economy under which the original seed of Abraham lived. The fear of death, arising from the consciousness of sin, could be relieved only by the intervention of the priest who stood between God and the sinner, and made reconciliation for sin. Jesus steps into the place of the high priest, and perfectly fulfils the priestly office. By his actual participation in the sorrows and temptations of humanity he is fitted to be a true sympathizer with human infirmity and temptation (Heb 5:2), a merciful and faithful high priest, making reconciliation for sin, and thus abolishing the fear of death.

The necessity of the Incarnation is shown further from a consideration of the scope of Christ's work. His purpose to help man involved the redemption of fallen man; and He who helps must have sympathy with those whom He helps. Wherefore He was bound to be made like to His brethren in all things, that He might be a merciful and faithful/ High-priest. ...F or men are not only beset by temptations in the fierce conflicts of duty: they are also burdened with sins; and Christ had to deal with both evils.

Thus we are introduced to the idea which underlies the institution of Priesthood, the provision for a fellowship between God and man, for bringing God to man and man to God.


Previous Section

The student will find it a most instructive inquiry to trace the development of the thought of Christ's High-Priesthood, which is the ruling thought of the Epistle, through the successive passages in which the writer specially deals with it.

The thought is indicated in the opening verses. The crowning trait of the Son is that, when He had made purification of sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1: 3) .So the priestly and royal works of Christ are placed together in the closest connection.

The remaining passages prepare for, expound, and apply the doctrine.

(1) Preparatory
Heb. 2: 17,18 The Incarnation the foundation of Christ's High-priesthood.
Heb. 3: 1,2 The subject such as to require careful consideration
Heb. 4: 14-16 Recapitulation of points already marked as a transition to the detailed treatment of The truth. Christ is a High-priest who has fulfilled the conditions of His office, who Can feel with men, and who is alike able and ready to succor them
(2) The characteristics of Christ's High-priesthood
Heb. 5: 1-10 The characteristics of the Levitical High-priesthood realized by Christ
Heb. 6:20; 7:14-19 The priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchizedek
Heb.7:26-28 The characteristics of Christ as absolute and eternal High-priest
(3) The work of Christ as High-priest
Heb.8:1-6 The scene of Christ's work a heavenly and not an earthly sanctuary
Heb. 9: 11-28 Christ's atoning work contrasted with that of the Levitical High-priest On the Day of Atonement
Heb.10:1-18 The abiding efficacy of Christ's One Sacrifice
(4) Application of the fruits of Christ's High-priesthood to believers
Heb. 10:19-25 Personal use
Heb. 13:10-16 Privileges and duties of the Christian Society

These passages should be studied in their broad features, especially in regard to the new traits which they successively introduce. The following out of the inquiry is more than an exercise in Biblical Theology . Nothing conveys a more vivid impression of the power of the Apostolic writings than to watch the unfolding of a special idea in the course of an Epistle without any trace of conscious design on the part of the writer, as of a single part in some great harmony.     (Westcott)

Wherefore  -  Whence  -  wherefore 
Since it was His pleasure to help fallen man.  The word  wherefore is not found in Paul's Epistles. It is comparatively frequent in this Epistle, Heb. 3: 1; 7:25; 8:3; 9: 18. In occurs also (nine times in all) in Matt., Luke, Acts, I John.  It marks a result which flows naturally from what has gone before.

It behooved - he was bound 
The requirement lay in the personal character of the relation itself. Compare Heb.5:3,12; I  John 2:6.

In all things
The  'likeness'  which has been shown in nature before (v. 14)  is now shown to extend to all the circumstances of life.

That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest  -  hina eleeemoon geneetai kai pistos archiereus 
Render it:  "that he might be compassionate, and so" (in consequence of being compassionate), "a faithful high priest." 

The discharge of this function is made dependent on the fulfillment of the conditions of human life. 
Compare Heb. 5: 1.   The verb suggests the notion of a result reached through the action of that which we regard as a law. Compare Heb. 1:4; 2:2; 3:14; 5:9; 6:4,12; 7:18,26.

The keynote of the epistle, the high priesthood of Christ, which is intimated in Heb 1: 3, is here for the first time distinctly struck. Having shown that Christ delivers from the fear of death by nullifying the accusing power of sin, He now shows that he does this in His capacity of high priest, for which office it was necessary that He should be made like unto His human brethren.  In the Old Testament economy, the fear of death was especially connected with the approach to God of an impure worshipper (see Num 18:3,5).  This fear was mitigated or removed by the intervention of the Levitical priest, since it was the special charge of the priest so to discharge the service of the tabernacle that there might be no outbreak of divine wrath on the children of Israel (Num 18:5). 

The idea of compassion as an attribute of priests is not found in the Old Testament.  On the contrary, the fault of the priests was their frequent lack of sympathy with the people (see Hos 4:4- 9).  In the later Jewish history, and in the New Testament times, the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees was notoriously unfeeling and cruel.  The idea of a compassionate and faithful high priest would appeal powerfully to Jewish readers, who knew the deficiency of the Aaronic priesthood in that particular. 

It seems to be far more natural to take both these words  (merciful and faithful)  as qualifying  High- priest  than to take  merciful separately:  'that He might become merciful, and a faithful high-priest.'  Our High-priest is 'merciful'  in considering the needs of each sinful man, and  'faithful' ('one in whom the believer can trust')  in applying the means which He administers.  It has been supposed that the one epithet expresses mainly the relation towards men and the other the relation towards God (See Heb. 3:2,5);  but here the relation towards men is alone in question, so that the faithfulness  of  Christ expresses that wherein men can trust with absolute confidence.

The word faithful admits two senses according as the character to which it is applied is regarded from within or from without. A person is said to be 'faithful ' in the discharge of his duties where the trait is looked at from within outwards; and at the same time he is 'trustworthy' in virtue of that faithfulness in the judgment of those who are able to rely upon him. The one sense passes into the other.

In things pertaining to God  -  ta pros ton Theon 
Compare Rom 15:17.  A technical phrase in Jewish liturgical language to denote the functions of worship. Construe with "a faithful high priest," not with "compassionate."

The phrase expresses more than  things relating to God  and points to 'all man's relations towards God,'  all the elements of the divine life.  The one (eternal) act of Christ (Heb. 10: 12-14) is here regarded in its continuous present application to men (compare Heb. 5: 1,2).

For the sins of the people
Of all who under the new dispensation occupy the position of Israel.  The  'seed of Abraham'  now receives its fuller title. Compare Matt. 1:21; Luke 2:10; and Heb. 4:9; 13:12; (8:10; 10:30; 11:25).  

The use of the phrase suggests the thought of the privileges of the Jew, and at the same time indicates that that which was before limited has now become universal, the privilege of faith and not of descent.

VS 18
Christ's High-priestly work, which has been considered in the last clause of v. 17 in relation to God, is now considered in relation to man.  In this respect the efficacy of His High-priesthood, of His mercy and faithfulness,  is shown in the power of its application to suffering men.  

Propitiation must not only be made for them but also applied to them.  He who propitiates must enter into the experience of the sinner to support him in temptation.

And this Christ can do;   for wherein He Himself hath suffered...He is able to succor...   He removes the barrier of sin which checks the outflow of God's love to the sinner, and at once brings help to the tempted  (contrast  to make propitiation, to help) by restoring in them the full sense of final dependence. The whole work of our High-priest depends for its efficacy on the perfect sympathy of Christ with humanity and His perfect human experience.

For in that he has suffered
Taking this construction therefore we have two main interpretations:

1. 'For Himself having been tempted in that which He hath suffered'
The thought is that the sympathy of Christ is grounded on the fact that He felt temptation when exposed to suffering.
2. 'For in that in which He hath suffered being tempted'
The thought is that the range of Christ's sympathy is as wide as His experience.

The second view seems to fall in best with the context. The region of Christ's suffering through temptation includes the whole area of human life, and His sympathy is no less absolute. The himself is not to be taken exclusively either with  he has suffered or with having been tempted.  Though "Son Christ Himself"  knew both suffering and temptation. (see Matthew 4:2-11; 26:39).

The tense fixes attention upon the permanent effect and not on the historic fact. Compare v. 9  'made lower crowned,'  and 4:15; 12:3.  The suffering which was coincident with the temptation remained as the ground of compassion. For the general, though, compare Exodus 23:9; Deut. 10:19.

He has suffered... .ones-being-tried ] The temptation of Christ is regarded in its past completeness (cf. took part in v. 14). The temptation of men is not future only but present and continuous.

He is able to help 
The phrase expresses more than the simple fact  (to help).  Only one who has learnt by suffering can rightly feel with another in his sufferings. The perfect humanity of Christ is the ground of His sympathy. Compare Heb. 4:15; John 5:27.

The aorist tense (Greek form of speech) expresses the single, momentary, act of coming to help. Compare the use of the pres. Inf. Heb. 5:7; 7:25; and contrast it with Heb. 4: 15.

The power of sympathy lies not in the mere capacity for feeling, but in the lessons of experience. And again, sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin which only the sinless can know in its full intensity. He who falls yields before the last strain. Compare Heb. 5:8; 12:26. Sin indeed dulls sympathy by obscuring the idea of evil.

Under this aspect we can understand how Christ's experience of the power of sin in others (as in the instruments of the Passion) intensified,  if we may so speak,  His sympathy.


In looking back over the whole section it is important to notice the stress which the writer lays upon the historic work of Christ. Christ is not simply a Teacher but a Redeemer, a Saviour. The Redemption of man and the fulfillment of his destiny is not wrought by a moral or spiritual union with God laid open by Christ, or established in Christ, but by a union of humanity with God extending to the whole of man's nature and maintained through death.

While the writer insists with the greatest force upon the transcendental action of Christ, he rests the foundation of this union upon Christ's earthly experience. Christ 'shared in blood and flesh' (v. 14), and 'was in all things made like to His brethren' (v. 17). He took to Himself all that belongs to the perfection of man's being. He lived according to the conditions of man's life and died under the circumstances of man's mortality .

So His work extends to the totality of human powers and existence, and brings all into fellowship with the divine.

(End of Lesson Two)


Home First
Table of