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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Hebrews 2

 

 

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Verse 1

Hebrews 2:1. Therefore, &c. — The foregoing display of the greatness of the Son of God being designed to convince mankind of the great excellence and importance of that gospel of which he is the author, and of the great guilt of disobeying, neglecting, or apostatizing from it, the apostle now proceeds to caution his readers against these evils, solemnly warning them of the awful consequences thereof, and urging them to pay the utmost attention to the things which they had heard from Jesus and his apostles, that is, to the contents of the gospel in general, whether historical, doctrinal, preceptive, promissive, or comminatory. Therefore, says he, δια τουτο, on this account, because the Son, by whom God has spoken to us in these last days, and given us his gospel, is so glorious a person, infinitely superior even to the holy angels, and much more to every merely human messenger formerly sent by God to men; we ought to give the more earnest heed to it — More than the Israelites gave of old to the law, which had not such an immediate author, and more than we ourselves have formerly given to the gospel itself, when we were less acquainted with its excellence and importance. We ought to take heed that we neither forfeit nor lose our interest in it; to the things which we have heard — So the apostle expresses the doctrine of the gospel with respect to the way and manner whereby it was communicated, namely, by preaching, an ordinance which he magnifies, making it, as every where else, the great means of begetting faith in men, Romans 10:14-15. So that he insists upon and recommends to them, not only the things themselves, wherein they had been instructed, but also the way whereby they were made acquainted with them: this, as the means of their believing, as the ground of their profession, they were diligently to remember and attend to. The apostle says we ought, joining himself with them to whom he wrote, to manifest that the duty he exhorted them to was of general concern to all to whom the gospel was preached, so that he laid no singular burden on them; and that he might not as yet discover to them any suspicion of their inconstancy, or make them suppose that he entertained any severe thoughts concerning them; apprehensions whereof are apt to render exhortations suspected, the minds of men being very ready to disregard what they are persuaded to, if they suspect that undeserved blame is the ground of the exhortation. Lest at any time we should let them slip — Namely, out of our minds; lest we should lose the remembrance of them, or the impression they once made upon us. The Greek, μη ποτε παραρρυωμεν, is literally, lest we should run out, namely, as leaky vessels which let the water, poured into them one way, run out many ways. The word relates to the persons, not to the things, because it contains a crime. It is our duty to retain the word which we have heard, and therefore it is not said that the water flows out, but that we, as it were, pour it out, losing that negligently which we ought to have retained. And, says Dr. Owen, “there is an elegant metaphor in the word; for as the drops of rain falling on the earth water it and make it fruitful, so does the celestial doctrine make fruitful unto God the souls of men upon whom it descends: and hence, with respect to the word, of the gospel, Christ is said to come down as the showers on the mown grass, Psalms 72:6; and the apostle calls preaching the gospel, watering men, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; and compares them to whom it is preached, to the earth that drinketh in the rain, Hebrews 6:7. Hence men are here said to pour out the word preached, when, by negligence, they lose, instead of retaining, the benefit of the gospel. So when our Lord compares the same word to seed, he illustrates men’s falling from it by all the ways and means whereby seed, cast into the earth, may be lost or become unprofitable.” It may not be improper to observe here, that as water is lost gradually out of a leaky vessel, so the remembrance of, and faith in, the truths of the gospel, with the enlightening, quickening, renewing, strengthening, and comforting influence produced by them, are usually lost gradually, perhaps also insensibly. We lose, 1st, Our remembrance of them; 2d, Our love to and relish for them; and, 3d, The effect produced by them, perhaps both the internal graces and the external virtues flowing therefrom. The apostle says, lest at any time we should let them slip. Some lose their grace in a time of peace and prosperity, some in a time of persecution and adversity, and some in the hour of peculiar temptation: for God in his wisdom suffers such an hour to come upon the church for its trial, and upon every member of it, that they may be conformed to their Head, who had his special seasons of temptation. In this trying time many lose the good effects of the word they have heard, either wholly or in some measure. They are cast into a negligent slumber by the opiates of temptation, and when they awake and consider the state of their hearts and lives, they find that the whole efficacy of the word is lost. The ways also, it ought to be observed, whereby this woful effect is produced, are various; as, 1st, The love of the world, which made Demas a leaky vessel, 2 Timothy 4:10; and choked the fourth part of the seed in the parable, Matthew 13:22. 2d, The love of sin; a vile affection or corrupt passion will make the spiritual vessel full of chinks, so that it will not retain the spiritual water. Again, 3d, False doctrine, formality in worship, contentions and divisions among the serious professors of religion, will easily produce, if yielded to, the same unhappy effect. Let the reader, thus warned, be upon his guard in these and such like respects.


Verses 2-4

Hebrews 2:2-4. For if the word spoken by angels — The law delivered by their ministry. It is nowhere affirmed that the law was given by angels, but that the people received it, εις διαταγας αγγελων, by the disposition, administration, or deputation of angels, Acts 7:53; and that it was διαταγεις, ordained, appointed, or promulgated, by angels, (Galatians 3:19,) and here that it was spoken by them. From hence it is evident, that not the original, authoritative giving of the law, but the ministerial ordering of things in its promulgation, is that which is ascribed to them. As Chrysostom observes, they excited the thunderings, the lightnings, the smoke, the earthquake, and the sounding of the trumpet which preceded God’s giving the law. And perhaps also an angel effected the articulate voices which conveyed the words of the ten commandments to the ears of the people; or an angel was employed to repeat, in a loud and terrible voice, the words which God pronounced, I am the Lord thy God, with what follows, Exodus 20:2, &c. The apostle having just insisted (chap. 1.) on a comparison between Christ and the angels, his argument is greatly corroborated when it is considered, that the law was the word spoken by angels, but the gospel was delivered by the Son, who is so far exalted above them; was steadfast βεβαιος, firm, a sure covenant between God and the people; and every transgression and disobedience — The word παραβασις, transgression, signifies the leaping over the bounds which the law had set, by doing the things forbidden by it; παρακοη is the refusing to do the things it enjoins; received a just recompense of reward — That is, a just punishment. But how could every sin and transgression be said to receive a just retribution, seeing it is certain that some sins, under the law, were not punished, but expiated by atonements? In answer to this, it must be observed, that every sin was contrary to the doctrine and precepts of the law, and therefore punishment was assigned to every sin, though not executed on every sinner. Besides, the sacrifices of atonement manifested punishment to have been due, though the sinner was relieved against it. But the sins especially intended by the apostle were, in fact, such as were directly against the law, as it was the covenant between God and the people; for which there was no provision made of any atonement or compensation. But the covenant being broken, the sinners were to die without mercy; and thus to be utterly exterminated by the hand of God, or that of man, by his appointment. The expression, ενδικος μισθαποδοσιν, rendered, a just recompense of reward, signifies a recompense proportionable to the crime, according to the judgment of God, which is infinitely just and equal, and implies that they who commit sin are worthy of death, Romans 1:32; and particularly refers to the temporal punishment of cutting them off from the land of the living, according to the dispensation of the law to which the Israelites were subject.

How shall we escape — Severe punishment; if we neglect αμελησαντες, not caring about, not embracing and improving; so great salvation — That is, both the doctrine of salvation, the gospel which brings us tidings of it, shows us our want of it, offers it to us, and is the most powerful means of bringing us to enjoy it; and salvation itself, declared by this doctrine, and announced and exhibited in this gospel. The greatness of this salvation may be inferred with certainty from the great dignity and glory of its Author, as set forth in the preceding chapter, and from the great things he hath done and suffered to procure it for lost mankind; the great price paid for it, (1 Peter 1:18-19,) and the great power exerted to put us in possession of it, Ephesians 1:19. But, independently of these considerations, it is evidently great, unspeakably great, in its own nature; being, 1st, A deliverance from a state of great ignorance and folly, with respect to things spiritual and divine, Titus 3:3; of great guilt and depravity, weakness and misery, which, were it not for this salvation, would be eternal; 2d, A restoration (so the word σωτηρια, rendered salvation, also signifies) to the favour and friendship, image and nature of God, and communion with him; blessings lost by the fall — blessings of infinite value, and intended to be of everlasting duration; and, (which likewise is implied in the same expression,) 3d, A preservation, notwithstanding all the subtlety and power, malice and diligence of our spiritual enemies, continually exerted to effect our destruction, to eternal life, felicity, and glory; or the being kept by the power of God, through faith, unto final, eternal salvation, of both body and soul, 1 Peter 1:5. A salvation this unspeakably, yea, infinitely greater than that wrought for the Israelites of old, when God delivered them from Egyptian bondage, and established them in the quiet possession of Canaan. Which at the first began to be spoken — To be preached in a clear and distinct manner; by the Lord — The Son of God, the Lord of angels. Jesus is called the Lord, chiefly because, as the Maker and Governor of the world, he is Lord of all, Acts 10:36; consequently he is able both to reward those who obey him, by bestowing on them eternal salvation, and to punish with everlasting destruction those who disobey him; and was confirmed — Further declared, and its truth attested; unto us — Of this age, even every article of it; by them that heard him — The apostles, who had been themselves both eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. “Matters of fact which were transacted before our own time, and whereof we could not be ourselves eye-witnesses, are readily believed upon the report of others. And when the reporters are persons of credit and reputation, and report nothing but what they declare themselves to have seen and certainly known, and they are likewise many, and exactly concur in their testimony, and nothing is alleged against them by any others, and particularly by such as were concerned to invalidate their account if possible, we think we have all the reason in the world to receive their testimony. All which circumstances do evidently concur in the confirmation of the gospel.” — Pierce. God also bearing them witness — As to the truth and importance of their doctrine; both with signs and wonders — Many and marvellous. “The apostle having observed, in Hebrews 2:2, that the law spoken by angels was confirmed by the miracles which accompanied its delivery, he judged it proper to mention that the gospel was equally confirmed by the great miracles which accompanied the preaching, both of Jesus Christ himself and of the apostles. Wherefore such of the Hebrews as had not heard Jesus preach the great salvation, were nevertheless bound to give heed to the things which he had preached, since they were sufficiently declared and proved to them by the apostles and other ministers of the word, who had heard him preach these things.” — Macknight. With divers miracles and gifts ΄ερισμοις, distributions; of the Holy Ghost — In his extraordinary operations, imparted in different degrees to different persons; according to his own will — “Moses wrought many signs, wonders, and miracles; but the distributions of the Holy Ghost he knew nothing of. They were peculiar to the gospel dispensation, and consisted of the internal gifts of wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, faith, the discernment of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.” These are called distributions of the Holy Ghost, because God by his Spirit divided them to every one as he pleased, 1 Corinthians 12:11. “The miracles,” says Pierce, “which were wrought by the first preachers of the gospel, were an attestation from God of the truth of what they delivered. And indeed we must entertain very strange and unworthy apprehensions of the blessed God, if we can suppose that he would countenance a notorious imposture, by enabling those who published it to the world to perform, in confirmation of it, so many miracles as they did, things that were vastly above the power and ability of men. It is true there were other confirmations of our Saviour’s character and commission, particularly the concurrence of all that was foretold by the old prophets concerning the Messiah. But this does by no means hinder these miracles to be an attestation from God, and accordingly to deserve our utmost regard.”

And now let the reader consider how those will excuse their conduct to God, their own consciences, or the assembled world of men and angels in the day of final judgment, who neglect this salvation; a salvation which has so glorious an Author, which is so unspeakably great and excellent in itself, has cost such an immense price, and to attest and confirm which God’s almighty power has been exerted in so extraordinary a manner in signs and wonders innumerable; yea, “has waked and worked for ages.” But who are they that may properly be said to neglect this salvation? Surely not those merely who disbelieve and reject the gospel, which proclaims, displays, and offers it; or who oppose and persecute the preachers and professors of it; but those who, as the expression used here by the apostle means, make light of it, have little or no care or concern about it, and consequently take no pains to become partakers of it. All do and will neglect this salvation who do not, 1st, See their want of it, and their undone state without it; who are not convinced of its absolute necessity and great excellence; 2d, Who do not earnestly and perseveringly desire it, and hunger and thirst for the enjoyment of it; 3d, Who do not diligently seek it in the use of the means which God has appointed, the private and public means of grace, such as hearing, reading, and meditating on the word of God, prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, and taking up the daily cross; 4th, Who do not humble themselves before God in true, genuine repentance, and bring forth fruit worthy of repentance; 5th, Who do not embrace the gospel in all its branches, its truths, precepts, and promises; its doctrines, privileges, and duties; and the Lord Jesus, its blessed Author, in all his offices and characters, in faith, love, and new obedience. Nay, and, 6th, They, in some measure at least, neglect this salvation who, having experienced one part of it, as, for instance, a sense of pardon and the divine favour, yet do not go forward with zeal and diligence in pursuit of what remains, namely, perfect holiness, and eternal glory. And these, 7th, Most of all neglect this salvation who, having begun in the Spirit, end in the flesh; who fall from grace, and turn from the holy commandment delivered to them; whose case the apostle represents in a just but awful light, Hebrews 6:4-8; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 12:25-27. From which passages the reader may learn how the neglecters of this salvation in general, and apostates, or back-sliders, in particular, may expect to escape. The truth, with respect to this, Isaiah , 1 st, That mankind in general being by nature and practice in a lost state, a state of ignorance and sin, of guilt, condemnation, and wrath, of depravity, weakness, and misery; and this salvation being provided for their recovery, they who neglect it of course remain in that lost estate, unenlightened, unpardoned, unchanged, unholy, and unhappy. They sin against the remedy, the only remedy which the wisdom of God hath found out for man’s restoration, and therefore must perish without remedy. This is not all; they have, 2d, To expect a superadded and increased misery for neglecting the glorious salvation provided for them; provided at so great an expense of love and sufferings, and with so great an apparatus of grace and mercy. This passage proves this point to a demonstration; as do also the other paragraphs above referred to. Observe, reader, the greatness of the salvation — its eternity — the glory of its Author — the amazing sufferings he endured — the various and extraordinary gifts and operations of the Holy Ghost, that in former ages sealed and signalized this divine dispensation — the pardon and grace offered to us, and urged upon us — the advices, exhortations, entreaties, and warnings of ministers and others, who had our salvation at heart; — in short, the various means made use of, in various ways, to bring us to the knowledge and enjoyment of this salvation: — all these must aggravate our guilt, and increase our condemnation and future punishment, if we neglect it.


Verse 5

Hebrews 2:5. For, &c. — This verse contains a proof of the third: the greater the salvation is, and the more glorious the Lord whom we despise, the greater will be our punishment. Unto the angels hath he (God) not put in subjection the world to come — That is, as most commentators have understood the clause, the dispensation of the Messiah; which, being to succeed the Mosaic, was usually styled by the Jews, The world to come; although it is still, in a great measure, to come: whereof we speak — Of which I am now speaking. In this last great dispensation, the Son alone presides. Macknight, however, objects to this interpretation of the words, observing, “The gospel dispensation is called αιωνος μελλοντος, the age to come, (Hebrews 6:5,) but never οικουμενην μελλουσαν, the habitable world to come. That phrase, if I mistake not, signifies the heavenly country promised to Abraham, and to his spiritual seed. Wherefore, as οικουμενην, the world, (Luke 2:1, and elsewhere,) by a usual figure of speech, signifies the inhabitants of the world, the phrase οικουμενην μελλουσαν, may very well signify the inhabitants of the world to come, called, (Hebrews 1:14,) them who shall inherit salvation. If so, the apostle’s meaning will be, that God hath not put the heirs of salvation, who are to inhabit the world to come, the heavenly Canaan, in subjection to angels, to be by them conducted into that world, as the Israelites were conducted into the earthly Canaan, by an angel, Exodus 23:20. They are only ministering spirits, sent forth by the Son to minister for the heirs of salvation, but not to conduct them. The heirs who are to inhabit the world to come, God hath put in subjection to the Son alone. Hence he is called the Captain of their salvation, Hebrews 2:10. And having introduced them into the heavenly country, he will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, as we are told 1 Corinthians 15:24.”


Verse 6

Hebrews 2:6. But one in a certain place — Namely, David, Psalms 8:4; testified, saying, What is man — The Hebrew word אנושׁ, used in the Psalm, means weak, miserable, and mortal man; man in his fallen state; obnoxious to grief, sorrow, anxiety, pain, trouble, and death: that thou art mindful of him — What is he to the vast expanse of the heavens, to the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained? This Psalm seems to have been composed by David in a clear, moon-shiny, and star-light night, while he was contemplating the wonderful fabric of the heaven; because, in his magnificent description of its luminaries, he takes no notice of the sun, the most glorious of them all. The words here cited concerning dominion, were doubtless in some sense applicable to Adam; although, in their complete and highest sense, they belong to none but the second Adam. It has indeed been a great question among interpreters, whether the Psalm speaks of man in general, and of the honour which God put upon him in his creation, or only of the man Christ Jesus. But upon comparing the contents of it with this chapter, it seems evident that both are included. For the design of the Psalm appears plainly to have been to display and celebrate the great love and kindness of God to mankind: not only in their creation, but also in their redemption by Christ Jesus; whom, as he was man, God advanced to the honour here spoken of, that he might carry on that great and glorious work. Some parts of the Psalm, however, relate more eminently to Christ than to man in general, and accordingly are so interpreted, both by our Lord and by his apostles, particularly Hebrews 2:2 ; Hebrews 2:6. Or the Son of man — Hebrew, בן אדם, the son of Adam, of one made out of the earth; that thou visitest him — The sense rises: we are mindful of him that is absent; but to visit denotes the care of one present. And it is worthy of observation, that the Hebrew word occurring in the Psalm, and rendered visitest, though variously used, yet constantly denotes the action of a superior toward an inferior, and commonly expresses some act of God toward his people for good. And especially in the term visiting used to express the stupendous act of God in sending his Son to take our nature upon him, as Luke 1:68 ; Luke 1:78. “He hath visited and redeemed his people;” and “The day-spring from on high hath visited us.” This was the ground of the psalmist’s admiration, and will be a cause of admiration to all believers through eternal ages.


Verse 7

Hebrews 2:7. Thou madest him — That Isaiah , 1 st, Man, when first created; a little lower than the angels — So the LXX., and all the old Greek translations, as also the Targum, read the clause; but the Hebrew, מעשׂ מאלהים, is a little lower than God; the word God being probably put by an ellipsis for the angels of God. Man, when first formed, was, it seems, in the scale of creatures next to angels, his soul being spiritual, intelligent, free, and immortal; but, as by his body he was allied to the earth, and to the beasts that perish, he was lower than they. But, 2d, The expression here used, βραχυ τι, may be rendered, for a little while, as it is Acts 5:44; And commanded to put the apostles forth, βραχυ τι, a little space, or while; and Luke 22:58, μετα βραχυ, after a little while. Thus translated, the clause is, Thou hast made him, for a little while, lower, or less, than the angels: in which sense the passage may be properly applied to Christ, as it here is by the apostle, whose meaning appears to be, Thou, O God, hast made thy Son, by his incarnation, humiliation, and obedience unto death, for a little while, lower than the angels. For although from Christ’s birth the angels adored his person as their Lord, yet in the outward condition of his human nature he was made exceedingly beneath their state of glory and excellence, for a little while, a short season. “That which renders this sense unquestionable,” says Dr. Owen, “is the apostle’s restraining the words precisely thereto, Hebrews 2:9 . It was but for a little while that the person of Christ, in the nature of man, was brought into a condition more indigent than that to which the nature of angels is exposed: neither was he for that season made a little, but very much lower than the angels. And had this been the whole of his state, it could not have been an effect of that inexpressible love which the psalmist so admires. But, seeing it was but for a short season, and that for the blessed ends which the apostle speaks of, nothing could more commend it to us.” Thou crownedst him with glory and honour — That is, not only man at his first creation, to whom God gave dominion over the creatures, but also, and more especially, Jesus, after his resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven. Jesus was covered with the greatest ignominy when he was crucified by the Jews as a deceiver, for calling himself Christ the Son of God. But at his resurrection and subsequent exaltation that ignominy was entirely removed; and his fame, and name, and honour, as the Son of God, were, in the most illustrious manner, restored to him. See Philippians 2:9-11. And didst set him over the work of thy hands — As Ruler and Lord of all; namely, in a lower sense Adam when created, and more eminently Christ when raised from the dead, and set at God’s own right hand. For as he had actual dominion given him upon his ascension into heaven, so the extent of this dominion is the works of God’s hands.


Verse 8-9

Hebrews 2:8-9. Thou hast put all things All things without exception; in subjection υποκατω των ποδων αυτου, under his very feet — Such are the psalmist’s words, expressive of a dominion every way unlimited and absolute. For in that it is said, he put all things under him, he left nothing — That is, nothing is excepted; that is not put under him — But the whole universe and every creature in it is included. But now we see not yet all things put under him — That is, under man, concerning whom the words were spoken, being connected with Hebrews 2:4 of the Psalm, What is man? As if the apostle had said, A long space of time hath elapsed since the giving out this testimony, and much longer since the creation of man; and yet, during all these years, or rather, all these ages, we see that all things are very far from being put under man’s feet, from being subjected to the human race in general, or to any individual mere man. Hence, (as if the apostle had added,) we ourselves, by our own observation, may easily discern that these words of the psalmist respect not only, or principally, either the first man or his posterity, under whom certainly all things are not, and never were, put in subjection. But we see Jesus — That is, it is only in Jesus that the psalmist’s testimony is verified; he was made lower than the angels — And he hath had all things put in subjection to him. These things, says the apostle, we see. Yet it was not on his own account that he was made lower than the angels, in being clothed with our frail and mortal nature, but in order that he might suffer death, which is further explained by the addition of the next clause. For the words δια το παθημα του θανατου, for the suffering of death, are evidently intended to express the final cause of the humiliation of Christ, (he was made lower than the angels, who cannot die, that he might suffer death,) and not the meritorious cause of his exaltation. This, therefore, is the import and natural order of the words: we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, who was for a little while made lower than the angels, for the suffering of death; that he by the grace of God — By his gracious, free, sovereign purpose, suited to, and arising from, his natural goodness and benignity, mercy and compassion; might taste death — Tasting death, (like seeing death,) is a Hebrew form of expression, signifying really dying, not dying in appearance or pretence, as some of old foolishly taught respecting the death of Christ, which shadow of dying could only have produced a shadow of redemption. The expression may also imply, finding by experience what is in death; Christ knew by experience what bitterness was in that cup of death which is threatened to sinners. He understood and felt it fully. The expression might also be intended to intimate, (as Chrysostom and the ancients thought,) our Lord’s continuing only a short time in the state of the dead, and, of consequence, his conquest over death; for though the phrase be used concerning other persons also, yet as applied to him, the event shows that it was only a thorough taste of it that he had. He neither was nor could be detained under the power of it. For every man — That ever was or will be born into the world, without the exception of any. To die for another, according to the constant use of the expression, imports to die in his room and stead; and this the Jews understood in the use of their sacrifices, where the life of the beast was accepted instead of the life of the sinner. Thus Christ tasted death; he was, by the grace and wisdom of God, substituted as a mediator and surety in the stead of others, of all others; for he gave himself a ransom for all, 1 Timothy 2:6; when all were dead, he died for all, 2 Corinthians 5:15.


Verse 10

Hebrews 2:10. In this verse the apostle expresses, in his own words, what he before expressed in those of the psalmist. For it became him — It was suitable to all his attributes, especially to his justice and mercy, his holiness and goodness, his wisdom and truth; for whom — As their ultimate end; and by whom — As their first cause; are all things; in bringing many sons unto glory — Namely, believers, called God’s sons, John 1:12; Romans 8:14; and frequently elsewhere. The clause seems to be an allusion to the introduction of Israel (whom God dignified with the title of his son) into Canaan, which was a type of heaven; called glory, both because God there manifests his presence in a most glorious manner, and because there all his saints are rendered unspeakably glorious; to make the Captain αρχηγον, the prince, leader, and author; of their salvation perfect — That is, a complete Saviour; through sufferings — Endured for them. By which sufferings he was consecrated to his office, and qualified to discharge it; expiated men’s sins, obtained for them the Holy Spirit, John 16:7; Acts 2:33; showed them by his example that their way lay through sufferings to glory, and in what spirit they must suffer; learned, as man, to sympathize with, and to succour and support them in their sufferings, Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15-16.


Verses 11-13

Hebrews 2:11-13. For — As if he had said, And it appears that it was meet that Christ should suffer, because, having the same nature with us, it was necessary he should thus be made like us, who must suffer before we can reign; both he that sanctifieth — That washes men from their sins in his blood, renews them in the spirit of their minds, and consecrates them unto God; and they who are sanctified — Who are renewed and dedicated to God; are all of one — Of one nature, from one parent, Adam; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them — Whom he thus sanctifies and saves; brethren — He reckons it no disparagement to him, though in respect of his divine nature he is infinitely above them, to acknowledge and deal with them as his brethren; saying, (Psalms 22:22,) to his Father, When I appear in the human nature on the earth, I will declare thy name — Thy perfections, and especially thy grace and mercy in sending me into the world; unto my brethren — Of mankind; in the midst of the church — Publicly among the people of God; will I sing praise unto thee — As the precentor of the choir. This he did literally in the midst of his apostles, on the night before his passion. And in a more general sense, as the expression means setting forth the praise of God, he has done it in the church by his word and Spirit in all ages; and he still does, and will do it throughout all generations. It is well known that the 22d Psalm, from which this passage is cited, is a prophetic description of the sufferings of Christ, the apostles and evangelists having applied many passages of it to him. Also by repeating the first words of it from the cross, our Lord appropriated the whole of it to himself. The ancient Jewish doctors likewise interpreted this Psalm of the Messiah. And again — (Psalms 18:2,) as one that has communion with his brethren in sufferings, as well as in nature, he says; I will put my trust in him — To support me under, and carry me through them all. Hereby the apostle proves that Christ had the same affections, and consequently the same nature with believers. For had he been God only, or the Son merely in his original state, he could not have been brought into such a condition as required dependance upon another; neither is the nature of angels exposed to such dangers or troubles, as render it necessary for them to have recourse to God for support, protection, and consolation. And again Isaiah 8:18, (where see the note,) when he says; Behold I and the children which God hath given me — He makes a like acknowledgment of his near relation to them, and of his being of the same nature with them, parents being of the same nature with their children. The opposers of Christianity affirm, that the prophecy from which this is taken doth not relate to the Messiah, and that in applying it to Jesus, the writer of this epistle hath erred; and from this they infer that he was not inspired. But, in answer, be it observed, that the application of this prophecy to Christ doth not rest on this writer’s testimony alone. The 14th verse of the prophecy is applied to him both by Paul, (Romans 9:33,) and by Peter, (1 Peter 2:6; 1 Peter 2:8,) and by Simeon, (Luke 2:34;) nay, our Lord has applied the 15th verse to himself, Matthew 21:44. So that if the writer of this epistle hath erred in the application of that prophecy, all the others have erred in the same manner. But that they have not, is sufficiently shown in the notes on the passages referred to.


Verse 14-15

Hebrews 2:14-15. Forasmuch then as the children — Believers, who are Christ’s spiritual seed; are partakers of flesh and blood — Of human nature with all its infirmities; he also took part of the same — See on Philippians 2:8; that through his own death, he might destroy the tyranny of him that had — By God’s permission; the power of death — The power of bringing death on all mankind by tempting our first parents to sin. Hence he is called a murderer from the beginning, and a liar, and the father of it, John 8:41. It is observable that the power of death, ascribed to the devil, is called κρατος, and not εξουσια, because he had no right to it. It was a power usurped by guile. And all the baneful effects of this power Christ at the resurrection will remove, as far as they relate to the righteous. The word καταργηση, rendered that he might destroy, properly signifies, that he might render ineffectual. “Since the Son of God is said to have partaken of the flesh and blood of the children in the same manner that they themselves partake of these, namely, by being born of a woman; and since he was born into the world in that manner, to render him capable of dying, that through his death in the flesh he might frustrate the malicious contrivance of the devil, who first introduced death into the world; we are thereby taught that he is the seed of the woman, which at the fall was promised to bruise the head of the serpent; and that the serpent who deceived Eve was not a natural serpent, but the devil, who, because he assumed the form of a serpent on that occasion, is called (Revelation 20:2) the great dragon, or serpent; and that old serpent, the devil. See on 2 Corinthians 11:3. The intention of the devil, in seducing our first parents, was to destroy them, and thereby put an end to the human species. This malicious design the Son of God rendered ineffectual, by assuming our nature, and in that nature dying as a sacrifice for sin.” — Macknight. And — By his death making atonement for their sins, and procuring for them pardon and holiness; that is, both justification and sanctification, both a title to heaven and a meetness for it, and also an earnest of it by the Holy Spirit in their hearts, he delivers them — Even all who are made God’s children by faith in him; who — Before they received this deliverance; were all their life-time, through tormenting fear of death, subject to bondage — In a slavish uncomfortable state of mind. And every man fears death, more or less, who is not savingly acquainted with, and united to Christ; who is not justified through faith in his blood, and regenerated by the influence of his Spirit, and therefore is not begotten again to a lively hope of a heavenly inheritance. Death is unwelcome to him if he knows what death is. But he delivers all true believers from this bondage.


Verse 16

Hebrews 2:16. For verily he took not on him — Greek, ου γαρ αγγελων επιλαμβανεται, he took, or taketh, not hold of angels, to save them from the abyss of misery into which they are fallen, as not taking their nature upon him; but he took, or taketh, hold of the seed of Abraham — And hath made a gracious provision for the salvation of all who shall by true faith approve themselves the genuine children of that holy patriarch. The apostle says, the seed of Abraham, rather than the seed of Adam, because to Abraham was the promise made. “If the sin of the angels, who, as Jude tells us, (Hebrews 2:6,) kept not their own office, consisted in their aspiring after higher stations and offices than those originally allotted to them by God, as Jude’s expression intimates, we can see a reason why the Son of God did not take hold of them to save them, but took hold of the seed of Abraham; that is, of believers of the human species. The first parents of mankind sinned through weakness of nature and inexperience, and by their lapse brought death on themselves and on their posterity, notwithstanding their posterity were not accessory to their offence. Whereas the angels, through discontentment with their own condition, and envy of their superiors, perhaps also animated by pride, rebelled presumptuously against God. Wherefore, since they could not plead weakness of nature and inexperience in excuse of their sin, nor complain that the sin for which they were doomed to punishment was the act of another, they were justly left by the Son of God to perish in their sin.” — Macknight.


Verse 17-18

Hebrews 2:17-18. Wherefore in all things — That essentially pertain to our nature, and in all sufferings and temptations; it behooved him — In respect of the office, duty, and employment he had taken upon him; or it was highly fit and proper, yea, necessary, in order to his design of redeeming them; to be made like his brethren — That is, a mortal man; that — By experience of suffering in himself; he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest Merciful toward sinners, affected with the sorrows and sufferings of others, and the more inclined to pity and relieve them; and faithful toward God, in discharging every other part of his office, as well as in relieving his suffering members. A priest or high-priest, is one who has a right of approaching God, and of bringing others to him. His being faithful is treated of, Hebrews 3:2, &c., with its use: merciful, Hebrews 4:14, &c., with the use also: high-priest, Hebrews 5:4, &c., Hebrews 7:1. The use is added, from Hebrews 10:19. “The Son of God, who made men, no doubt had such a knowledge of their infirmity, as might have rendered him a merciful intercessor, though he had not been made flesh. Yet, considering the greatness of his nature, it might have been difficult for men to have understood this. And therefore, to impress us the more strongly with the belief that he is most affectionately disposed, from sympathy, to succour us when tempted; and, in judging us at the last day, to make every reasonable allowance for the infirmity of our nature, he was pleased to be made like us in all things, and even to suffer by temptations.” In things pertaining to God — That were to be done either for men with God, or for God with men; to make reconciliation for — Or to expiate, as ιλασκεσθαι signifies, the sins of the people — Not the people of the Jews merely, but the people of all nations, whether Jews or Gentiles, who, in repentance and faith, should turn to God. Hence St. John tells us, he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, offering sacrifice and interceding for them, and deriving God’s grace, peace, and blessings upon them. For in that e himself suffered, being tempted — See Hebrews 4:15; he is able — Has a greater fitness and readiness; to succour them that are tempted — And he has given a manifest, demonstrative proof that he is able so to do. Our Lord was not only tempted immediately after his baptism in the wilderness, but his whole life was a continued scene of temptation, as we learn from Luke 22:28 : Ye are they who have continued with me in my temptation. Christ’s temptations, like those of his brethren, arose from the persecutions and sufferings to which he was exposed, as well as from direct attacks of the devil by evil suggestions, such as those mentioned Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hebrews-2.html. 1857.


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Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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