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Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Therefore - Because Christ the Mediator of the new covenant is so far (Hebrews 1:1-14) above angels, the mediators of the old covenant.

The more earnest, [ perissoteroos (G4056)] - 'more abundantly.'

Heard - spoken by God (Hebrews 1:2); and the Lord (Hebrews 2:3).

Let them slip, [ pararuoomen (G3901)] - 'flow past them' (Hebrews 4:1).

Verse 2

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

(Compare Hebrews 2:3) Argument a fortiori.

Spoken by angels - the Mosaic law spoken by the ministration of angels (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalms 68:17; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). When it is said, Exodus 20:1, "God spake," it means He spake by angels as His mouthpiece, or angels repeating in unison with His voice the decalogue. Whereas the Gospel was first spoken by the Lord alone.

Was stedfast, [ egeneto (G1096) bebaios (G949)] - 'was made stedfast,' or "confirmed:" was enforced by penalties on those violating it.

Transgression - by doing evil; [ parabasis (G3847)] overstepping its bounds: a positive violation.

Disobedience, [ parakoee (G3876)] - by neglecting to do good: a negative violation.

Recompence (Deuteronomy 32:35).

Verse 3

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

We - emphatic: who have received the message of salvation so clearly delivered to us (cf. Hebrews 12:25).

So great salvation - embodied in Jesus, whose name means salvation, not only deliverance from foes and death, and the grant of temporal blessings (which the law promised to the obedient), but also grace of the Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of glory (Hebrews 2:10).

Which, [ heetis (G3748)] - 'inasmuch as being a salvation which began,' etc.

Spoken by the Lord - not as the law, spoken by angels (Hebrews 2:2). Both law and Gospel came from God; but promulgated by different instrumentality (cf. Hebrews 2:5). As the law began with God's writing of the Ten Commandments, so the Gospel began with the word of the Son of God Himself. His sermon on the mount confirms the law in its far-reaching spirituality, and His life fulfilled it. As the gospels record His actings in person, so the Acts His actings by His Spirit. As the Acts set forth the externals of the Church, so the letters its internal aspect. Angels recognize Him as "the Lord" (Matthew 28:6; Luke 2:11).

Confirmed unto us - not by penalties, as the law, but by spiritual gifts (Hebrews 2:4).

By them that heard him (cf. Luke 1:2). Though Paul had an independent revelation of Christ (Galatians 1:16-17; Galatians 1:19), yet he classes himself with those Jews whom he addresses, "unto us;" for, like them, in many particulars (ex. gr., the agony in Gethsemane, Hebrews 5:7), he was dependent for autoptic information on the Twelve. So the discourses of Jesus-ex. gr., the sermon on the mount, and the first proclamation of the gospel kingdom by the Lord (Matthew 4:17) - he could only know by report of the twelve: so Christ's saying, Acts 20:35. Paul mentions what they had heard, rather than seen, conformably with what he began with (Hebrews 2:1-2), "Spake ... spoken." Appropriately, in his letters to Gentiles, he dwells on his independent call to the apostleship of the Gentiles; in his letter to the Hebrews he appeals to the apostles who had been long with the Lord (cf. Acts 1:21; Acts 10:41): so in his sermon to Jews in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:31). 'He only appeals to the testimony of these apostles in general, in order to bring the Hebrews to the Lord alone' (Bengel); not to become partisans of particular apostles, as Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, and James, the Bishop of Jerusalem. The Hebrews of the churches of Palestine and Syria (or those dispersed in Asia Minor (Bengel), 1 Peter 1:1, or in Alexandria) are primarily addressed; for of none so well could it be saint the Gospel was confirmed to them by the immediate hearers of the Lord: the past tense, "was confirmed," implies some time had elapsed since this testification by eye-witnesses.

Verse 4

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Them - rather, 'God, along with the Lord and His eye-witness, (Hebrews 2:3) bearing witness to it;' 'joining in attestation of it.'

Signs and wonders - performed by Christ and His apostles. "Signs" [ seemeia (G4592)] are miracles, or other facts regarded as proofs of a divine mission; "wonders" [ terata (G5059)] are miracles viewed as prodigies, causing astonishment (Acts 2:22; Acts 2:33); powers [ dunameis (G1411)] are miracles viewed as manifestations of superhuman power.

Divers miracles - `varied (miraculous) powers' (2 Corinthians 12:12) granted to the apostles after the ascension.

Gifts ... [ merismois (G3311)] - 'distributions.' The Holy Spirit was given to Christ without measure (John 3:34); but to us it is distributed in various measures and operations (Romans 12:3; Romans 12:6, etc.; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

According to his own will - God's sovereign will, assigning one gift to one, another to another (Acts 5:32; Ephesians 1:5).

Verse 5

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

For - confirming Hebrews 2:2-3, that the new covenant was spoken by One higher than the mediators of the old covenant; namely, angels. Greek order, 'Not to angels hath He,' etc.

The world to come. He has subjected to angels (as regards ministry only) the existing world-the Old Testament dispensation (then still existing in its framework, Hebrews 2:2), the political kingdoms (Daniel 4:13; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20-21; Daniel 12:1), the natural elements (Revelation 9:11; Revelation 16:4), and even individuals (Matthew 18:10); but not so "the world to come" - the new dispensation brought in by, and subject to Christ, beginning in grace, to be completed in glory. It is called "to come," as when subjected to Christ by the divine decree it was as yet future, and is still so to us as to its consummation. The subjecting of all things to Christ (Psalms 8:1-9) is still "to come." From the Old Testament standpoint, which looks prophetically forward to the New Testament (and the Old Testament ritual was in force then, and continued until its forcible abrogation by the destruction of Jerusalem), it is "the world to come." Paul, addressing Jews, appropriately calls it so, according to their conventional view of it. We still pray, "Thy kingdom come," for its manifestation in glory is yet future. 'This world,' in contrast, expresses the world's present fallen condition (Ephesians 2:2). Believers belong not to it, but by faith rise in spirit to "the world to come," making it a present, though internal, reality. In the world to come man and the Son of man, man's Head, are to be supreme. Hence, greater reverence was paid to angels in the Old Testament than is permitted in the New. For man's nature is exalted in Christ, so that angels are our "fellow-servants" (Revelation 22:9). In their ministrations they stand on a different footing toward us from that in the Old Testament. We are "brethren" of Christ; which angels are not (Hebrews 2:10-12; Hebrews 2:16).

Verse 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?

But - Not unto angels is the Gospel kingdom subjected, "BUT" to MAN.

One ... testified. The usual way of quoting Scripture to readers familiar with it. Psalms 8:5-7 praises Yahweh for exalting MAN, so as to subject all God's works on earth to him. This dignity, lost by the first Adam, is realized only in the Son of man, the Representative Man, Head of our redeemed race. In Hebrews 2:6-8 MAN is spoken of in general ("him ... him ... his"); then, at Hebrews 2:9, first, JESUS is introduced, fulfilling, as man, all the conditions of the prophecy; Himself through death passing, and so bringing us men, His "brethren," to "glory."

What. How insignificant in himself, how exalted by God's grace! (cf. Psalms 144:3.) Enosh and Ben-Adam express man and Son of man in his weakness: "Son of man" is here any and every child of man-unlike the lord of creation which he was originally (Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25), and actually is by title, and shall hereafter fully be in the person of and in union with Jesus, pre-eminently the Son of man (Hebrews 2:9).

Art mindful - as of one absent. Visitest, [ episkeptee (G1980)] - lookest after him, as one present.

Verse 7

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

A little - or ['Aleph (')] (Hosea 1:4), 'for a little time.' Paul's scope is to show Jesus, the Son of man, by whom the Gospel comes, is superior to the angels, by whom the law was spoken. But it may be objected, Christ was mortal and suffered. True, answers Paul, but that was only 'for a little time,' because our salvation required it. So [ brachu (G1024) ti (G5100)] Acts 5:24. 'Hours on the cross, days of sufferings, years of toil, how little are they all compared with eternity!' (Bengel.)

Than the angels - `than God [ 'Elohiym (H430)]; i:e., God's abstract qualities, such as angels possess in an inferior form-namely, heavenly, spiritual, incorporeal natures. Man, made for a little lower than angels, has an universal dominion ultimately awaiting him in the man Jesus, Lord of angels.

Crownedst him with glory and honour - as the kingly vice-gerent of God over this earth (Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25; Daniel 7:27; Revelation 5:10).

And didst set him over the works of thy hands. Omitted in B Delta; but read by 'Aleph (') A C f, Vulgate: so Psalms 8:6,

Verse 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.

For in that - i:e., For in that God saith, in the 8th Psalm, 'He put [ ta (G3588) panta (G3956)] the all things (just mentioned) in subjection under him: He left nothing,' etc. As no limitation occurs in the Scripture, the "all things" must include heavenly, as well as earthly things (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:21-22). See 1 Corinthians 15:27.

But now - as things now are, we see not yet the all things put under man.

Verse 9

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

But - `But rather, Him who was made for a little lower than the angels (cf. Luke 22:43) we behold (by faith: a different verb from "we see" visibly, Hebrews 2:8 [ horoomen (G3708)], which expresses the impression our eyes passively receive from objects; whereas [ blepomen (G991)] "we behold," "look," implies direction and intention, as of one deliberately regarding something, and mentally perceiving: so Hebrews 3:19; Hebrews 10:25, Greek) - namely, Jesus, on account of His suffering death, crowned,' etc. He is already so crowned to the eye of faith; hereafter all things shall be subjected to Him visibly. The ground of His exaltation is 'on account of His having suffered death' (Philippians 2:8-9; 5:10 ).

That he by the grace of God (Titus 2:11; Titus 3:4). The reading of Origen, 'That He without ( chooris (G5565) for chariti (G5485)) God' (laying aside His divinity: or, for every being except God; or perhaps 'apart from God,' forsaken, as the sin-bearer, by the Father on the cross), is not supported by manuscripts. The "that," etc. is connected with "crowned with glory," etc. His exaltation after sufferings is the perfecting of His work (Hebrews 2:10) for us: from it flows the result that His tasting of death is available in behalf of every man. He is crowned as the Head of our common humanity, presenting His blood as the all-prevailing plea for us. This coronation above makes His death applicable for every individual man (singular: not merely 'for all men') (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:2). "Taste death" implies personal experimental undergoing it: death of body, and death (spiritually) of soul, in His being forsaken of the Father. 'As a physician first tastes his medicines to encourage his patient to take them, so Christ, when all men feared death, to persuade them to be bold in meeting it, tasted it Himself, though He had no need' (Chrysostom) (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Verse 10

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

For - reason why "the grace of God" required that Jesus "should taste death."

It became him. The scheme of redemption was (not only not derogatory to, but) highly becoming God, though unbelief considers it a disgrace (Bengel). It harmonizes with His love, justice, and wisdom. An answer to Hebrew Christians, whosoever stumbling at Christ crucified, and impatient at the delay in the advent of Christ's glory, were in danger of apostasy. The Jerusalem Christians especially were liable to this danger.

For whom - God the Father (Rom. 11:86; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11). In Colossians 1:16 the same is said of Christ.

All things, [ ta (G3588) panta (G3956)] - 'the universe of things.' "Him, for whom ... by whom are all things" marks the becomingness of Christ's suffering as the way to being 'perfected' as 'Captain of our salvation,' seeing this is the way that pleased Him whose will and glory are the end of all things, and by whose operation all things exist.

In bringing, [ agagonta (G71)] - past, 'having brought, as He did;' in His electing purpose having determined to bring (cf. note, Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:4), which is accomplished in Jesus' being 'perfected through suffering.'

Many (Matthew 20:28) - "the church" (Hebrews 2:12; Hebrews 12:23).

Sons - no longer children, as under the old Testament, but sons by adoption (Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:5).

Unto glory - to share Christ's (Hebrews 2:9: cf. Hebrews 2:7; John 17:10; John 17:22; John 17:24; Romans 8:21). Sonship, holiness (Hebrews 2:11), and glory are inseparable. "Suffering," "salvation," and "glory" often go together (2 Timothy 2:10). Salvation presupposes destruction, our deliverance from which required Christ's "sufferings."

To make ... perfect, [ teleioosai (G5048)] - to consummate: to bring to consummated glory through sufferings, as the appointed avenue. 'He who suffers for another not only benefits him, but becomes himself the more perfect' (Chrysostom). Bringing to the end of troubles, and to the goal of glory: a metaphor from contests in the public games (cf. Luke 24:26; John 19:30 [ tetelestai (G5055)]). I prefer, with Calvin, 'to perfect as a completed sacrifice:' legal, official, not moral, perfection is meant: 'to consecrate (so the same Greek, Hebrews 7:28, margin), by His finished expiatory death, as our perfect High Priest, so our "Captain of salvation" (Luke 13:32). This agrees with Hebrews 2:11, "He that sanctifieth" - i:e., consecrates them, by being made a consecrated offering for them. So Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:29; John 17:19: by perfecting His consecration for them in His death, He perfects their consecration, and so opens access to glory (Heb. 10:19-21: 5:9; Hebrews 9:9, accords with this sense).

Captain of ... [ Archeegon (G747)] - Prince-leader: as Joshua, not Moses, led the people into the Holy land, so our Joshua-Jesus-leads us into the heavenly inheritance (Acts 13:39). The same Greek, Hebrews 12:2, "Author of our faith." Acts 3:15, "Prince of life (Heb. 2:31 ). Preceding by example, as well as the originator of our salvation.

Verse 11

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

He that sanctifieth - Christ, who once for all consecrates His people to God (Jude, bringing them nigh as the consequence) and everlasting glory, by having consecrated Himself for them in being made "perfect (as their expiatory sacrifice) through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10). God, in electing love, through Christ's finished work, perfectly sanctifies them to God's service and to heaven once for all: then they are progressively sanctified by the transforming Spirit. 'Sanctification is glory in embryo: glory is sanctification come to the birth' (Alford).

They who are sanctified, [ hoi (G3588) hagiazomenoi (G37)] - 'they that are being sanctified' (cf. "sanctified," 1 Corinthians 7:14).

Of one - Father, God: not in the sense wherein He is Father of all beings, as angels; for these are excluded by the argument, Hebrews 2:16; but as He is Father of His spiritual human sons, Christ the older Brother, and His believing people, the members of the family. This and the following verses justify His having said, " many sons" (Hebrews 2:10). "Of one" is not 'of one father, Adam,' or 'Abraham,' as Bengel, etc.; for the Saviour's participation in the lowness of our humanity is not mentioned until Hebrews 2:14, and then as a consequence of what precedes.

Moreover, 'sons of God' is the dignity obtained by our union with Christ: our brotherhood with Him flows from God being His and our Father. Christ's Sonship (by generation) in relation to God is reflected in the sonship (by adoption) of His brethren.

He is not ashamed - though being the Son of God, since they now by adoption have a like dignity, so that His majesty is not compromised by brotherhood with them (cf. Hebrews 11:16). Christianity unites such amazing contrasts as 'our brother and our God.' 'God makes of sons of men sons of God, because God hath made of the Son of God the Son of man,' (Augustine on Psalms 2:1-12.)

Verse 12

Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

Messiah declares the name of the Father, not known fully as Christ's Father, and therefore their Father, until after His crucifixion (John 20:17), among His brethren ("the church," i:e., the congregation), that they in turn may praise Him (Psalms 22:22-23). At Heb. 2:22 , the 22nd Psalm, which begins with Christ's cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" passes from Christ's sufferings to His triumph, prefigured in the experience of David.

Will I sing - as leader of the choir (Psalms 8:2).

Verse 13

And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

I will put my trust in him - from Septuagint [ pepoithoos (G3982) esomai (G1510) ep' (G1909) autoo (G846)], Isaiah 8:17, which immediately precedes "Behold I and the children," etc. The objection is, the following words, "and again," usually introduce a new quotation; whereas these two are parts of one passage. However, the two clauses express distinct ideas. "I will put my trust in Him" expresses His filial confidence in His Father, to whom He flees in sufferings, and is not disappointed; which His believing brethren imitate, trusting solely in the Father through Christ, not in their own merits. 'Christ exhibited this "trust," not for Himself, for He and the Father are one, but for His people' (Hebrews 2:16). Each fresh aid given assured Him, as it does them, of further aid, until the complete victory was obtained over hell (Philippians 1:6) (Bengel).

Behold I and the children ... (Isaiah 8:18.) "Sons" (Hebrews 2:10), "brethren" (Hebrews 2:12), "children" imply His right and property in them from everlasting. He calls them "children" of God, though not yet in being, but considered so in His purpose; and presents them before the Father, who has given Him them, to be glorified with Himself. Isaiah (meaning 'salvation of Yahweh') typically represented Messiah, at once Father and Son, Isaiah and Immanuel (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah and his children rely, not like Ahaz and the Jews on the Assyrian king, against the confederacy of Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria, but on Yahweh. He then foretells the deliverance of Judah by God, in language realized only in the far greater deliverance performed by Messiah. Christ, the antitypical Prophet, instead of the human confidences of His age, Himself, and GOD THE father's children (who are therefore His children, so antitypical to Isaiah's, though regarded also as His "brethren:" cf. Isaiah 9:6, "Father;" and "His seed," Isaiah 53:10), led by Him, trust wholly in God for salvation. The official words and acts of the prophets find their antitype in the Great Prophet (Revelation 19:10); as His kingly office is antitypical to that of the theocratic kings, and His priestly office to the Aaronic priesthood.

Verse 14

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

He who is thus "Captain (prince, leader) of their salvation" to the "many sons," by trusting and suffering like them, must become man like them, that His death may avail for them as men.

The children - mentioned, Hebrews 2:13: existing in His eternal purpose, though not in actual being.

Are partakers of, [ kekoinooneeken (G2841)] - 'have (in His purpose) been in common partakers.'

Flesh and blood. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta have 'blood and flesh.' The inner element, blood, the immediate vehicle of the soul, stands before the palpable element, flesh; also, because of Christ's blood-shedding, with a view to which He entered into community with our corporeal life. "The life of the flesh is in the blood ... it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14).

Likewise, [ parapleesioos (G3898)] - 'in a somewhat (though not altogether) similar manner.' He, unlike them, was conceived and born not in sin (Hebrews 4:15): not flesh of flesh, but of the Holy Spirit: not merely man, but taking manhood into union with Godhead: not naturally, but of His own will. [Hence, of men the word is kekoinooneeken (G2841), 'they had the same nature in common;' of Christ, meteschen (G3348), "took part of" in His own special manner. But mainly 'in like manner;' not in semblance of a body, as the Docetae heretics taught.]

Took part of - participated in. The forfeited inheritance (according to Jewish law) was ransomed by the nearest of kin; so Jesus became so to us ( Go'el (H1352): at once kinsman, redeemer, avenger) by His assumed humanity, in order to be our Redeemer.

That through death - which He could not have undergone as God, but only by becoming man: not by Almighty power, but 'by His [ tou (G3588)] death.' 'Jesus suffering death overcame: Satan wielding death succumbed' (Bengel): as David cut off Goliath's head with the giant's own sword, wherewith the latter had won his victories. Coming to redeem mankind, Christ made Himself a sort of hook to destroy the devil; for in Him there was His humanity to attract the devourer, His divinity to pierce, apparent weakness to provoke, hidden power to transfix the hungry ravisher. Latin epigram, 'Mors mortis morti mertem nisi morte tulisset, AEternae vitae janua clausa foret'-Had not Death by death borne to Death the death of Death, the gate of eternal life would be closed.

Destroy, [ katargeesee (G2673)] - 'render powerless: ' deprive of power to hurt His people (Psalms 8:2). The same verb, 2 Timothy 1:10, "abolished death." Death is not death to believers. Christ plants in them an undying germ of heavenly immortality.

Power. Satan is "strong" (Matthew 12:29).

Of death. Death itself is a power which, though originally foreign to human nature, now reigns over it (Romans 5:12; Romans 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 (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23) makes death the executioner of sin, and man Satan's 'lawful captive.' Jesus, by dying, has made the dying His own (Romans 14:9), and taken the prey from the mighty ('Wisdom,' 2: 24).

Verse 15

And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Fear of death - even before they experienced its power.

All their lifetime. Such a life can hardly be called life.

Subject to bondage, [ enochoi (G1777) douleias (G1397)] - 'subjects of bondage:' not merely liable to, but enthralled in it (cf. Romans 8:15; Galatians 5:1). Contrast the glory of the "sons" (Hebrews 2:10). Christ, by delivering us from God's curse against our sin, has taken from death all that made it formidable. Death, viewed apart from Christ, can only fill with horror, if the sinner durst think.

Verse 16

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

For verily, [ deepou (G1222)] - 'For as we all grant.' Paul alludes to Isaiah 41:8; Jeremiah 31:32, Septuagint [ epilabomenou (G1949) mou (G3450) tees (G3588) cheiros (G5495) auton (G846)]. All Jews would know that the fact stated as to Messiah was what the prophets led them to expect.

Took not on him ... - rather, 'it is not angels that He is helping [the present, epilambanetai (G1949), implies duration]; but it is the seed of Abraham that He is helping.' literally, to help by taking one by the hand, as Hebrews 8:9; answering to "succour," Hebrews 2:18; "deliver," Hebrews 2:15. 'Not angels,' who have no flesh and blood, but "the children," who have "flesh and blood," He takes hold of to help by 'Himself taking part of the same' (Hebrews 2:14). Whatever effect Christ's work may have on angels, He is not taking hold of them to help them by suffering in their nature to deliver them from death, as in our case.

Seed of Abraham. He views Christ's redemption (in compliment to the Hebrews, and as enough for his purpose) with reference to Abraham's seed, the Jewish nation. The Gentiles (Hebrews 2:9, "for every man"), when believers, are also the seed of Abraham spiritually (cf. Hebrews 2:12; Psalms 22:22; Psalms 22:25; Psalms 22:27); but direct reference to them, such as is in Romans 4:11-12; Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 3:28-29, would be out of place in his present argument. It is the same argument for Jesus being the Christ which Matthew, writing for Hebrews, uses, tracing His genealogy from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to whom those promises were given on which the Jews especially prided themselves (cf. Romans 9:4-5).

Verse 17

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Wherefore, [ hothen (G3606)] - 'Whence.' Found in Paul's speech, Acts 26:19.

In all things - incidental to manhood. Sin is not, in man's original constitution, a necessary attendant of manhood, so He had no sin.

It behoved him - by moral necessity, considering what God's justice and love required of Him as Mediator (cf. Hebrews 5:3), having voluntarily undertaken to 'help' man (Hebrews 2:16).

His brethren (Hebrews 2:11) - "the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16): so also the spiritual seed, His elect out of all mankind.

Be, [ geneetai (G1096)] - 'that He might become High Priest:' He was called so, when 'made perfect by the things which He suffered' (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8-10). He was made (became) so, when He entered within the veil, from which flows His ever-continuing priestly intercession for us (Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 9:24). His death, as man, must first be, that the bringing in of the blood into the heavenly Holy Place might follow, in which consisted the expiation as High Priest.

Merciful - to "the people" deserving wrath by "sins." Mercy is a priest's prime requisite, since His office is to help the wretched and raise the fallen; such mercy is to be found in one who has a fellow-feeling with the afflicted, having been so once Himself (Hebrews 4:15): not that the Son of God needed to be taught mercy by suffering; but, in order to save us, He needed to take manhood with all its sorrows, qualifying Himself by experimental suffering with us, to be our sympathizing High Priest in all our sorrows.

Faithful - true to God (Hebrews 3:5-6) and to man (Hebrews 10:23) in His Mediatorial office.

High Priest - which Moses was not, though "faithful" (Hebrews 3:2). Only in Psalms 110:1-7; Zechariah 6:13, elsewhere, is Christ expressly called a Priest. In this letter alone His priesthood is professedly discussed; how necessary, then, this book is to the New Testament. In Psalms 110:1-7 and Zechariah 6:13 there is added the kingdom of Christ, which elsewhere is spoken of without the priesthood. On the cross, whereon as Priest He offered the sacrifice, He had "King" inscribed over Him (Bengel).

To make reconciliation for the sins, [ hilaskesthai (G2433) tas (G3588) hamartias (G266)] - 'to propitiate (in respect to) the sins:' 'to expiate, the sins.' Strictly divine justice is 'propitiated;' but God's love is as much from everlasting as His justice; therefore, lest Christ's sacrifice, or its type, the legal sacrifices, should be thought antecedent to God's grace, neither are said in Scripture to have propitiated God; otherwise Christ's sacrifice might be thought to have first induced God to love and pity man, instead of His love having originated Christ's sacrifice, whereby divine justice and divine love are harmonized. The sinner is brought by that sacrifice into God's favour, which by sin he had forfeited; hence, his prayer is, 'God be propitiated [ hilastheeti (G2433)] to me, who am a sinner' (Luke 18:13). Sins bring death and the "fear of death" (Hebrews 2:15). He had no sin Himself, and 'made reconciliation for the iniquity' of all (Daniel 9:24).

Of the people - "the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16): Israel first, then, through Israel, the believing Gentiles (1 Peter 2:10).

Verse 18

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

For - How His being made like His brethren in all things has made Him a merciful and faithful High Priest for us (Hebrews 2:17).

In that, [ en (G1722) hoo (G3739) ... autos (G846)] - 'wherein He suffered Himself, having been tempted [ peirastheis (G3985)], He is able to succour them that are being (now) tempted [ peirazomenois (G3985)] in the same temptation; and as "He was tempted (tried) in all points," He is able (by the power of sympathy) to succour us in all possible trials incidental to man (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 5:2). He is the antitypical Solomon, having for every grain of Abraham's seed (about to be as the sand for number) "largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore" (1 Kings 4:29). 'He knows our trials, not only as God, but as man, by experimental feeling.'

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/hebrews-2.html. 1871-8.
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