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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Hebrews 2

Verses 1-18

The Authority of the Word of The Son

( Heb_2:1-4 )

(V. 1). The first chapter has asserted the fame of the Son when come into the world. Recognising the exceeding glory of the Speaker, it becomes the hearers to take earnest heed to what is said. To make a profession of hearing, and afterwards to neglect the great salvation announced by the Lord, by going back to Judaism, was fatal. The snare was not merely letting slip the things they had heard, but the far greater danger of the professors themselves slipping away from Christian ground by returning to Judaism. This would be apostasy. (See New Translation.)

Throughout the Epistle the writer is addressing Jews who had made a profession of Christianity, and among them he includes himself. In the first chapter he says, God has “spoken unto us”; here he says, “We ought to give the more earnest heed.” Others have pointed out that in this Epistle the church is not addressed as such, but rather believers individually. They are viewed as having made a profession which is presumed to be real unless, by turning back from Christ, it is proved to be merely outward.

(V. 2). God maintained the authority of the word communicated by angels by attaching a just punishment to every transgression of and disobedience to that word. How much more will God maintain the authority of the word of the Son. If there was not escape from the consequences of disobeying the law given by the disposition of angels, still less will there be any escape for the one who, having nominally made a profession of Christianity, treats the word of Christ with indifference and gives it up to return to Judaism.

(Vv. 3, 4). In its strict interpretation the salvation of which the writer speaks is not the Gospel of the grace of God as presented today; nor does it exactly contemplate the indifference of a sinner to the Gospel. Yet an application in this sense may surely be made, for it must ever be true that there can be no escape for the one who finally neglects the gospel. Here it is the salvation which was preached by the Lord to the Jews, by which a way of escape was opened to the believing remnant from the judgment about to fall on the nation. This salvation was afterwards preached by Peter and the other apostles in the early chapters of the Acts, when they said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” This testimony was borne witness to by God with “signs and wonders” and “divers miracles”. This Gospel of the kingdom will again be preached after the church has been completed.

To have broken the law was solemn; to turn from the preaching of grace is worse; but most solemn of all is to profess to believe the word, and afterwards to treat it with contempt by giving it up and turning back to Judaism or some other religion. This is apostasy; and for the apostate Scripture holds out no hope.

The Glory of The Son of Man

( Heb_2:5-18 )

Having asserted the authority of the word of the Son, and warned us against neglecting His word, the writer continues to unfold to us the glories of Christ. Already he has passed before us His glories as the Son of God in eternity, and as manifest in flesh: now we are to learn His glories as the Son of Man.

(V. 5). His glory as the Son of Man will be brought into display in the world to come, though, even now, faith can see Jesus crowned with glory and honour.

It would seem that “the world to come” can hardly be heaven. We cannot speak of heaven as “to come”. We have yet to come to heaven, but it exists and always has existed. Scripture speaks of three worlds: the world before the flood, of which Peter writes, “the world that then was”; the present world, “the heavens and earth which are now” ( 2Pe_3:6 ; 2Pe_3:7 ); and, in this passage, “the world to come”.

“The world to come” refers to the millennial earth, introducing an order of blessing which does not yet exist. This new world of blessing will be in subjection to the Son of Man and thus the scene for the display of His glory. In one sense the present world is placed in subjection to angels, who are used as instruments in God's hand for carrying out His providential government for the protection of the heirs of salvation as they pass on their way to glory. In the world to come the angels will give place to the rule of the Son of Man.

(Vv. 6-9). To bring out this great glory of Christ, the writer quotes from Psalm 8 , where the question is raised by David, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” The question brings out the littleness of man: the answer the greatness of Christ, the Son of Man. David, when contemplating the moon and the stars, feels his own insignificance in comparison with their immensity, and exclaims, “What is man?” Looking at man fallen, he is indeed very small; looking at man according to the counsels of God as set forth in Christ, the Son of Man, he is very great. Led by the Spirit of God, the writer of Hebrews sees Christ in the Son of Man of Psalm 8 , and can say, “We see Jesus.”

David says, “Thou hast put all things under His feet.” The Spirit of God tells us that this is Jesus reigning in the world to come, and that the “all things” include, not only things on earth, but the whole created universe, and every created being, for “He left nothing that is not put under Him.”

David says, “Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels.” The Spirit of God says that Jesus was “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” In a world where God has been dishonoured, the Son of Man perfectly glorified God and vindicated His holy character by suffering death. Man tastes death as the result of sin: the Son of Man tastes death by the grace of God. He tastes death for all, that grace might flow out to all.

David says, “Thou ... hast crowned him with glory and honour.” The Spirit of God leads faith to say, That is Jesus and “We see (Him) crowned with glory and honour.” God has thus counselled that, in the Person of Christ, Man is to be Lord of all. The Maker and Upholder of all, having become Man, will be the Centre and Head of the vast universe. This is a glory that eclipses the glory of angels. No angel has, or ever will have, the place of universal dominion.

There thus passes before us the past, present and future glories of the Son of Man. In the past He tasted death for every thing; in the present He is crowned with glory and honour; in the future the whole universe will be brought into subjection to Him.

(V. 10). Verses 5-9 have unfolded the glories of Christ in connection with the world to come. From verse 10 to the end of the chapter we learn the further glory and blessedness of Christ in connection with the many sons that are being brought to glory.

The quotation from Psalm 45 in the first chapter has already told us that it is the purpose of God that Christ should have companions to share His coming glory. In the remaining portion of this chapter these companions are referred to as the “sons” of God, and the “brethren” of Christ. Further, we learn all that Christ has passed through to deliver His brethren from death, the devil and sins, as well as His present service to succour and sustain them as He leads them on to glory.

If, however, many sons are to be brought to glory, it must be in a way that becomes the holy character of God. So we read, “It became Him” - God - “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things” that Christ should not only taste death but, in order to be the Leader of His people, enter into their circumstances and sufferings, and through these sufferings be perfected. Ever perfect in His Person, He was perfectly fitted to fill the position of Leader of His people through the wilderness with all its sufferings. He thus becomes the “Leader of their salvation”. He is able to save them from every danger on their way to glory.

(V. 11). From verse 11 onwards we learn the blessed results that flow to believers through Christ having entered into their position, borne the consequences of that position, and in it maintained the glory of God.

Firstly, the Sanctifier, Christ, and the sanctified, believers, are viewed as all of one. This wonderful expression would seem to indicate that Christ, having come into our position and borne the consequences, has so truly brought us into His position before God, as Man, that He and His own - the Sanctifier and the sanctified - are viewed as forming one company before God. It is well to remark, however, that the Word of God never says of Jesus and of men that they are all one, but that “He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” For this cause, because of the position into which He has brought them through His sanctifying work, He is not ashamed to call them “brethren”.

Believers are sanctified; being sanctified they are brought into the same position before God as Christ - all of one; and, being all of one, He is not ashamed to call them brethren. We know from the Gospels that it was not until Christ was risen that He called His disciples “brethren”. The Lord Himself ever walked in relationship with God as His Father. Never once in His path do we hear Him address God as “My God”; it is always “My Father”. Only on the cross, when made sin, does He say “My God”. We, however, are brought into this relationship, not by incarnation but through redemption. Therefore, it is not until He is risen that the Lord can say, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” and immediately speaks of His disciples as “My brethren”.

(Vv. 12, 13). Three quotations from the Old Testament are given to prove how blessedly the Sanctifier is identified as one with the Sanctified - His brethren. Firstly, in Psa_22:22 , the Lord declares in resurrection, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.” Here the Lord identifies Himself with His brethren: on God's side to declare the Father's Name, on our side to lead the praise of His people to the Father. That which was foretold in Psalm 22 is expressed in John 20 and expounded in Hebrews 2 .

Secondly, in Isa_8:17 (Septuagint version) we read, “I will put My trust in Him.” Taking a position as Man, the Lord identified Himself with His own in the only proper life for a man to live - the life of dependence upon God.

Thirdly, in Isa_8:18 we read, “Behold, I and the children that Jehovah hath given Me.” Here again we see the identification of Christ with the excellent of the earth - not with the children of men - but with the children that God had given Him.

(Vv. 14, 15). Verses 12 and 13 have shown how blessedly Christ has identified us with Himself in His position before God. Now we are to learn the further truth that He has identified Himself with us in our position of weakness and death before God. If the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He likewise partakes of the same. If they are under the dominion of death and the devil, He, having taken flesh and blood, is able to enter into death to annul the devil who had the power of death, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. The devil knows that the wages of sin is death, and is not slow to use this solemn truth to keep the sinner in the fear of death and its consequences all his life. The Lord, on whom death has no claim, goes into death and bears the death penalty that was upon us, and thus robs the devil of his power to terrify the believer with death. We may indeed pass through death, not as the penalty of sin leading to judgment, but only as the gateway out of all suffering into the fulness of blessing.

(Vv. 16-18). It was not to the help of angels that the Lord came, but to take up the cause of the seed of Abraham. To do this it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. Thus He fully enters into their position, though not their state. Here, for the first time in the Epistle, we learn of His gracious work for us as a merciful and faithful High Priest. In order to exercise this needed service He must, through His life of humiliation and trial, enter into all our difficulties and temptations. Then, when that perfect life is finished, He goes into death to make propitiation for our sins, in order that they might be forgiven. That great work being accomplished, He is able from His place in glory to exercise His priestly grace, and in mercy and in faithfulness succour them that are tempted, because He Himself hath suffered being tempted.

The suffering is through not yielding to the temptation. If we yield, the flesh does not suffer; on the contrary, it indulges itself by the temptation, finding its pleasure in the thing by which it is tempted. It enjoys the pleasure of sin at the moment, though for the sin it will finally have to suffer. The Lord was tempted, only to bring out His perfection that never for a moment yielded to the temptation. This entailed suffering. He endured hunger rather than yield to the devil's temptation. Having thus suffered in the presence of temptation, He is able to succour His people and enable them to stand firm in the presence of temptation. With a perfectly tender heart He enters into our temptations and succours us with mercy and faithfulness. Too often we can show mercy at the expense of faithfulness, or act in faithfulness at the expense of mercy. He, in the perfection of His way, can show mercy without compromising faithfulness.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/hebrews-2.html. 1832.