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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.
Ver. 1. We should let them slip ] Or, run out, παραρρυωμεν , as water runs through a cracked vessel. The word mingled with faith in the heart, asActs 16:14; Acts 16:14 , must be carefully kept, and it will safely keep us, Proverbs 6:20-20.6.22 . Some render it, Nequando procter fluamus, lest we pass by the things we have heard, as a river swiftly passeth by the side of a city, as the fashion of this world passeth away, as a picture drawn upon the ice soon vanisheth, &c. The Arabic rendereth it, "lest we fall," the Syriac, "lest we perish." They must needs fall and never rise again, perish without remedy, that reject the remedy, that hate to be healed, that spurn at the grace of the gospel, which is post naufragium tabula, the power of God to salvation. This is as if a condemned prisoner should reject a pardon.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
Ver. 2. For if the word, &c. ] Moses’ law, Galatians 3:19 .
Was stedfast ] Ratified with this sanction, Aut faciendum, aut patiendum, either do it, or die.
And every transgression and disobedience ] That is, every commission and omission.
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 ;
Ver. 3. If we neglect ] He saith not, if we reject, renounce, persecute; but if we neglect, let slip, shift off, as the word παραιτησησθε is, Hebrews 12:25 , and as those recusant guests did, Matthew 22:1-40.22.14 . Say we rather with Samuel, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." And with that Dutch divine, Veniat, veniat verbam Domini, et submitremus illi, sexcenta si nobis essent colla. Let the Lord utter his mind, and he shall have ready obedience, whatever come of it.
So great salvation ] The doctrine of the gospel, that "grace of God that bringeth salvation," Titus 2:11 . I am fully persuaded (saith a late learned light of our Church, Dr Preston) that in these days of grace the Lord is much more quick and peremptory in rejecting men; the time is shorter, he will not wait so long as he was wont to do. The ground is, "How shall we escape if we neglect, &c.? which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed," &c. This is somewhat like St Luke’s preface to his Gospel, Luke 1:2 . Hence some have thought that he also was the author of this Epistle.
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?
Ver. 4. And with divers miracles ] Whereby, as by the wings of the wind, the doctrine of the gospel was divulged at first. But he that now requireth a miracle, is himself a miracle. The establishing of the present reformation is and will be that miracle which we are in these times to look for. It is that which the former age had despaired of, the present admireth, and the future shall stand amazed at.
5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
Ver. 5. For unto the angels, &c. ] The Jews, as they had embraced the Pythagorean transanimation,Matthew 16:14; Matthew 16:14 , so the Platonic opinion of angels moving the heavens, and ordering the world; whom therefore they worshipped, intruding into those things whereof there was no sound either proof or profit, Colossians 2:18 . The angels (say Proculus the Platonist and Plutarch) are messengers that carry God’s mind to men and men’s requests to God. a But who told them all this? Egregie dicis, sed quomodo probas? said Aristotle of Moses, may we better say of these bold affirmers.
a πορθμευοντες τα των Θεων προς ανθοωπους .
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?
Ver. 6. But one in a certain place ] The full sense is, but he hath subjected it to Christ, as David testified,Psalms 8:4-19.8.5; Psalms 8:4-19.8.5 ; where whatsoever is spoken to man is here applied to the man Christ Jesus; and so is proper to the saints by virtue of their union with Christ. In which respect they are more glorious than heaven, angels, or any creature. a
a Accommodatio est facilis ad personam Christi, si interpretes non vellent esse nimis ingeniosi. Ames. in Psalms 8:5 .
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:
Ver. 7. A little lower ] Or, for a little while, Paulisper, viz. Ab utero ad urnam, from the womb to the tomb, from his birth to his burial, from his abasement to his advancement.
And didst set him over the works ] Lions hate apes, but fear men; whereof no other probable reason can be given, but this here in the text; insomuch as the most timorous men dare kick and beat the largest elephants.
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.
Ver. 8. Under his feet ] It is not said, under his hands, but under his feet: 1. That he may trample upon them with his feet, and not dote upon them with his heart. 2. That by them, as by a step or stirrup, he may raise his heart to things above. A sanctified fancy can make every creature a ladder to heaven.
He left nothing ] No, not angels.
Not yet all things put under him ] The creature rebelleth against man, because he rebelleth against God. a If the master be set upon, the servants will draw, and fight for him.
a Rebellis facta est, quia homo numini, creatura homini. Aug.
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.
Ver. 9. But we see Jesus ] The saints hold all in cupite tenure in Christ. Now in him all things are already subjected unto us, and made serviceable to our salvation.
For the, suffering of death ] Or that he might be in a condition to suffer death, this Sun of righteousness went ten degrees backward, not only below his Father, John 14:28 , but below the angels; for man (as man) is inferior to the angels.
Taste death for every man ] i. e. For every such man as must be led unto glory,Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 2:10 ; as is of Christ’s brethren, Hebrews 2:11 ; as is given of God to Christ,Hebrews 2:13; Hebrews 2:13 ; and for none other.
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.
Ver. 10. For it became him ] That is, God, whose perfect wisdom, justice, &c., shineth most clearly in that great work of our redemption; than the which God could not have done anything more beseeming himself; whatever the world’s wizards conceit to the contrary, 1 Corinthians 1:23 .
For whom are all things ] See Trapp on " Rom 11:36 "
To make the captain, &c. ] He that is captain of the Lord’s hosts,Joshua 5:14; Joshua 5:14 , is also "Captain of our salvation." This is comfort.
To make perfect ] Or, consecrate, τελειωσαι . The priests were first consecrated with oil, then with blood; so was Christ first by the Spirit, and. then by his own blood.
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,
Ver. 11. Are all of one ] viz. of Adam; only with this difference; that we are of Adam, and by Adam, but Christ was of Adam, not by Adam, for he was not begotten, but made, and so original sin was avoided.
He is not ashamed ] Christ was not ashamed of us, when we had never a rag to our backs; should we be ashamed of him and his service?
12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
Ver. 12. I will declare, &c. ] Psalms 22:22 . A psalm of Christ’s sufferings, entitled upon Ajaleth Shachar, that is, "the morning stag," such a one as the huntsmen singleth out to hunt for that day. Christ thus hunted, and praying for deliverance, promiseth to praise God’s name amidst his brethren, that is, "his faithful servants."
13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
Ver. 13. I will put my trust in him ] Which he needed not, had he not been a man subject to misery.
And the children, &c. ] Christ is the everlasting Father, Isaiah 9:6 , and the saints are the travail of his soul, that prolong his days upon earth, Isaiah 53:10-23.53.11 ; Filiabitur nomine eius, Psalms 72:17 . There shall be a succession of Christ’s name, till he present all his to his heavenly Father at the last day, with, "Behold, I, and the children whom thou hast given me."
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;
Ver. 14. Children are partakers ] παιδια , little children. Christ also became a little child, the babe of Bethlehem, Isaiah 9:6 . Catch him up, as old Simeon did; kiss him, lest he be angry, Psalms 2:12 . Stumble not at his weakness, but gather assurance of his love, and grow up unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 4:13 .
Took part of the same ] Whence they are called Christ’s partners or consorts, Hebrews 1:9 ; and they amy better say to him than Ruth did to Boaz, "Spread thy skirt over thy handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman, one that hath right to redeem," Ruth 3:9 .
Him that bad the power of death ] As the hangman hath the power of the gallows, "to kill men with death,"Revelation 2:23; Revelation 2:23 . He hath not imperium principis, but carnificis, saith a Lapide. And that power of his also, as to the saints, is cassated, nullified, made void and of none effect, as the word καταργηση signifieth. He may roar upon them, and shake his chain at them; not ruinate them, or once set his fangs in them.
15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Ver. 15. And deliver them ] So that to those that are in Christ, death is but the daybreak of eternal brightness; not the punishment of sin, but the period of sin. It is but a sturdy porter, opening the door of eternity; a rougher passage to eternal pleasure. What need they fear to pass the waters of Jordan to take possession of the land, that have the ark of God’s covenant in their eye? Tollitur mors, non ne sit, sed ne obsit. As Christ took away, not sin, but the guilt of it, so neither death, but the sting of it.
Who through fear of death ] The king of terrors, as Job calleth death, that terrible of all terribles, as Aristotle. Nature will have a bout with the best when they come to die. But I wonder (saith a grave divine) how the souls of wicked men go not out of their bodies, as the devils did out of the demoniacs, rending, raging, tearing, foaming. I wonder how any can die in their wits, that die not in the faith of Jesus Christ. Appius Claudius loved not the Greek zeta, because when it is pronounced, it representeth the gnashing teeth of a dying man. Sigismund the emperor, being ready to die, commanded his servants not to name death in his hearing, &c. The like is reported of Louis XI, king of France, who to put by death when it came, sent for Aaron’s rod and other holy relies (as they reputed them) from Rheims; but all would not do. Cardinal Beaufort, perceiving that death was come for him, murmured that his great riches could not reprieve him. Stat sua cuique dies. Now, death is nature’s slaughterman, God’s curse, and hell’s purveyor; and must needs therefore be terrible to those whose lives and hopes end together, and who say as one dying man did, Spes et fortuna valete.
16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Ver. 16. For verily he took not ] επιλαμβανεται . Or, for nowhere took he, q. d. We find not anywhere, either in the Scriptures or in any Church record.
But he took ] He assumed, apprehended, caught, laid hold on, as the angel did on Lot, Genesis 19:16 , as Christ did on Peter, Matthew 14:31 , as men use to do upon a thing they are glad they have got and are loth to let go again. It is a main pillar of our comfort, that Christ took our flesh, for if he took not our flesh, we are not saved by him. But he not only took it, but overtook it by running after it, as the shepherd doth the sheep that is run away. A shepherd witha sheep upon his shoulder, engraved upon the communion cup, in the primitive times of the gospel, imported the same notion that here seems implied.
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.
Ver. 17. In all things ] Except in sin; as the brazen serpent was like the fiery serpent, but had no sting, ακαταληπτον, αθεραπευτον ..
To make reconciliation ] To expiate our sins, and to appease God’s wrath, ιλασκεσθαι .
18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Ver. 18. He is able to succour ] And no less apt than able; as he that hath been poor, or troubled with toothache, will pity those that are so. Queen Elizabeth said in her speech to the children of Christ’s hospital, as she rode through Fleet Street, We are orphans all; let me enjoy your prayers, and ye shall be sure of mine assistance.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany