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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 2

 

 

Verses 1-18


Jesus Exalted in Humiliation

1-4. The former dispensation, even though mediated by comparatively inferior beings such as the angels, was yet so sacred that all neglect of it was severely punished. This being so, a far more terrible fate must now be theirs who neglect the revelation brought by the Son of God Himself, delivered to us by eye-witnesses, and authenticated by miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost.

1. Let them slip] RV 'drift away from them,' as a ship from its moorings. This was what the readers were in danger of doing: see Intro, 'Aim and Object,'

2. Spoken by angels] RV 'through angels,' Angels were the mediators of the Law: see Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19.

Was stedfast] RV' proved stedfast,' i.e. was authoritative while it lasted.

4. Gifts] RM 'distributions.' The word implies variety of spiritual endowments: cp. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 1:26; Ephesians 4:7.

5-18. It is no objection to the supremacy of Christ to say that by assuming human nature He became therefore lower than the angels. His humiliation was temporary, and undergone for purposes of redemption, His sufferings and death constituting Him an adequate High Priest through His oneness with humanity. And it is man (not angels) who is lord of the world to come. The lordship of humanity is not yet indeed realised, but the exaltation of Christ is the pledge of it.

5. RV 'not unto angels did he subject.' The position of the negative is emphatic.

The world to come, whereof we speak] i.e, the new dispensation, which is the theme of our Epistle. In the world to come the rule of the angels is ended.

6. The quotation is from Psalms 8:4-6.

7. A little lower] This is the meaning of the Heb, but the rendering 'for a little lower' (RM) seems to be required for the argument. Man's inferiority to the angels is only temporary.

8. He left nothing] nothing will be left for angels to rule over.

9. Jesus.. made a little lower than the angels] The words imply the doctrine of the Incarnation of One who was essentially and previously higher than the angels. For the suffering of death] RV 'because of.' The clause is to be connected with what follows. The exaltation seems to be regarded here as the consequence or reward of the humiliation. Cp. Philippians 2:6-11, and especially Hebrews 2:9, 'wherefore God highly exalted him': see on Hebrews 12:2. Taste death] i.e. experience its full bitterness: see on 64.

10. It became him (sc. God)] i.e, it was in accordance with His gracious nature: cp. Hebrews 2:9, 'by the grace of God.' Captain of their salvation] lit. 'leader,' i.e. not only originator, but the sharer of their lot, leading the way to glory. Make.. perfect] a characteristic word of the Epistle. In the new dispensation everything is perfect. The word means, to bring to its destined or appropriate consummation. Here the thought is, that by sharing the sufferings of humanity Christ was enabled to effect a perfect salvation for the sons of God, and attain that supremacy which is rightfully His: cp. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9.

11. Of one] i.e. God. Christ and Christians, the Captain and the host whom He leads to glory, are all sons of the one Father—He by nature, they by grace. Hence he calls them brethren.

14. Destroy] RV 'bring to nought,' i.e. render powerless. Death and the devil still exist, but their power is broken. The power of death] Death being the direct consequence of sin (Romans 5:12; Romans 6:23), the devil may be said to have the power of death in so far as he tempts men to sin, and so keeps sharp the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:56).

16. RV 'not of angels doth he take hold.' The word does not mean (as in AV) to assume the nature of, but to put out a hand in order to support or help. 'Christ took in hand to save not angels but you, my Hebrew brethren'. (Bruce). The seed of Abraham are the Hebrew race, the representative or priestly race, through which Jesus came to redeem mankind: cp. Romans 9:5. The writer believes, at the same time, that Christ tasted death 'for every man' (Hebrews 2:5).

17. In all things] i.e. in participation of flesh and blood and experience of death.

That he might be] Gk. 'might become.' Christ became High Priest when He offered His sacrifice, which He did by His death on the Cross: cp. Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 9:25. Merciful] cp. Hebrews 5:2. Reconciliation] RV 'propitiation': cp. Hebrews 5:3. To 'purge sins' and to 'make propitiation for sins' describe the same act from different points of view. In the former case what is in view is the removal of uncleanness; in the latter, of the alienation from God caused by sin.

18. RM 'having been himself tempted in that wherein he hath suffered.' This is the simplest rendering of a difficult passage. Christ's temptations arose out of His sufferings (not conversely, as AV seems to suggest); hence He is able to succour the Hebrews who are tempted by their hardships: see Hebrews 12:3. As High Priest Christ, therefore, not only effects reconciliation between God and man, but brings men safe through all hardships to the inheritance appointed for them. Cp. for the same combination of propitiation and succour, Psalms 79:9.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/hebrews-2.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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