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The Apostle is prosecuting the same blissful Subject in this Chapter as in the former, in speaking of the Glories of Christ. His Love to the Church, in taking our Nature: and the Blessedness it brings to all his People.
(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. (2) For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; (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; (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?
The opening of this Chapter; is an inference from the close of the former. The Apostle having said such blessed thing, in shewing the vast superiority of the Gospel dispensation, to all revelations which went before; reminds the Church, how important it must be, to have these things always in remembrance. And, as our memories are so treacherous, to be the more earnest to seek for grace, that we might not forget them. Reader! here is one of the sweet offices of God the Holy Ghost, particularly endeared to us. You, and I, are forgetful of divine things. Jesus saith, that the Holy Ghost shall bring all things to our remembrance, whatsoever he himself hath said unto us, John 14:26 . And shall not you and I look up to that gracious, and loving Teacher, and say, Lord! be thou the Remembrancer of Christ Jesus; that none of his precious words, and the glorious things belonging to his Almighty Person, and offices, may at any time slip from our minds?
Paul adds a striking argument for this attention. If the law given by the ministry of angels formed a subject of such high concern, that the least breach of it produced punishment; what must the neglect of such great salvation bring forth, which, the Son of God himself hath brought? The manner in which the question is here put, proves that it is impossible to escape. And indeed, when we consider, not only the greatness of the salvation itself, but the Almightiness of Him by whom it is wrought; everyone who hears of it, must stand convicted in his own conscience, that the neglect of it cannot fail to produce the inevitable consequences of everlasting condemnation. It is impossible to escape. Reader! pause one moment over the solemn consideration. The love, wisdom, and power, of all the Persons of the Godhead, have been manifested, in the contrivance of this salvation. The mysterious nature of that Almighty Being, who hath brought it; the greatness of his labor, sufferings, agonies, blood-shedding, and death, by means of which alone it could be accomplished: the infinite preciousness of the thing itself, and the everlasting consequences involved in it; all carry the fullest conviction with them, how impossible it must be, in any to escape, who slight, or despise such great salvation!
(5) For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. (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? (7) Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (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. (9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (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. (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, (12) Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (13) And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
I will not detain the Reader with all the observations that might be made on these verses; for this would lead too far, in a work of this kind. A few of the more prominent points, are all I shall here offer.
And first. What the Apostle saith, of One in a certain place testifying of man; doth not refer to the first man Adam, or to mankind in general; but specially, and personally, to some identical one, and which is evidently Christ. It is a quotation from the 8th Psalm (Psalms 8:0 ). Jesus himself hath very plainly made application of it to himself: Matthew 21:16 . And the words are expressive of the astonishment the child of God finds, when truly regenerated by the Holy Ghost, the infinite condescension of Jehovah, by a means so wonderful as the incarnation of the Son of God, accomplishing redemption.
Secondly. The making him a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death; and yet, at the same time, putting all things, both men, and angels, and devils; yea, the whole creation, both visible, and invisible, under his feet; so that there is nothing left, but what is under the subjection of Christ: these are points, which arrest the mind, and call forth both the astonishment, love, and praise, of all the Church of God!
Thirdly. Christ is said to have tasted death for every man. The phrase is an expression to intimate knowledge of death. It is a figure borrowed from the common circumstances of mankind, such as when, in order to ascertain what a thing is, and to have a personal knowledge of it, we taste it. Such was the case here, in allusion to Christ's death. By the grace of God he tasted it; that is, he endured it. When it is added, for every man, it is not to be supposed, that his death was intended a ransom for every individual of the human race; but for every one of his brethren, the heirs of salvation, as they are called: Hebrews 1:14 . And the following verses, of the many sons he is to bring to glory; the persons whom he is not ashamed to call brethren; and the children whom God hath given him: these terms very plainly define, and mark the characters of those, for whom Christ tasted death.
Fourthly. The necessity of Christ's death, in being made perfect through sufferings, is also very blessedly expressed. It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, so to be perfected. And this sweet Scripture is in exact correspondence to the whole testimony of the written word. For He that is heir of all things, is heir also of death. He is the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, Colossians 1:18 ; Revelation 1:5 .
Fifthly. The oneness of nature, between Christ and his people, is also most blessedly marked in these verses. Both he that sanctified, and they who are sanctified are all of one. Yes! Christ is himself the whole, and sole sanctification of his people. They have no holiness, but what is derived from him. They were first chosen to be holy, and without blame in Christ, before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4 . They are redeemed from all iniquity by Him, during the time-state of the Church, Ephesians 1:7 . They are regenerated by the Holy Ghost, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, when born again, 2 Corinthians 5:17 . And Christ is made of God to them, during the whole of their time-state upon earth, until grace is finished in glory, and forever; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30 . Hence those sweet scriptures which follow, in those verses, and are confirmed throughout the whole word of God, Psalms 18:2; Psalms 18:2 ; Isaiah 8:18 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-53.2.14 .
(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; (15) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
I beg the Reader's attention to this scripture, with that earnestness its great importance demands; for it is most blessed. First: let it be well noticed, the reason here assigned, for the Son of God taking upon him the nature of man; namely, because the children whom the Father had given him, were partakers of flesh and blood. To be sure, Jesus would take part of the same; for how else could he be married to his Church? Had he taken any other nature but the nature of man; what union could there have been between them? And I beg the Reader to notice also, how decided a proof those expressions of Christ's children being partakers of flesh and blood, on whose account he took the same, is hereby given, both of Christ's pre-existence as Head, and Husband of his Church, set up from everlasting; and his own eternal power and Godhead, in that it is said, he himself likewise took part of the same. This action of Christ, and this cause, in the Son of God taking flesh and blood, are unanswerable evidences in proof of his Godhead. And the Reader may do well, in the present sinful, Christ-despising generation, to remark them as he goes. See Luke 1:38 and Commentary.
Secondly. Let it be observed also, another motive here spoken of, for which the Son of God took part of the same flesh and blood as his children; namely, that through death he might destroy him which had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death, are all their life-time subject to bondage. What a glorious account is here? But how came the devil to have the power of death? And by what means were the children of God, his captives, to be in such bondage? The scriptures give most satisfactory answers to these questions: and which serve, at the same time, to prove the liberty, whereby the Lord Jesus hath made his children free; and to enhance the preciousness of the Lord Jesus himself for his grace.
The Devil, by seducing our nature, in the Adam-fall transgression, not only brought in death; but universal captivity. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, Romans 5:12 . And hence, the devil may be truly said, in this sense to have the power of death: yea, and lawfully too. For, so the scripture confirms it. For of whom a man is overcome: of the same is he brought into bondage, 2 Peter 2:19 . And hence, though Christ by his death, hath overcome death; and destroyed him that had the power of death; yet we find many of God's dear children are still subject to bondage, in the fear of death; yea, many of them also, who are convinced of their redemption by Christ, and their interest in Christ. This fruit of Adam's sin, they taste in bondage fears; though they triumph in Christ, by his great deliverance from the curse of it. Reader! pause over the subject. What hath thy God, thy Savior, by Jesus wrought! Oh! see to it, if thou knowest the blessedness of this sweet scripture, and believeth the record that God hath given of his dear Son; that no unsuitable, unbecoming fears of death arise in the mind, when Christ hath taken flesh and blood, on purpose to destroy both him that had the power of death, and death itself; and which he hath most effectually done; and to deliver his redeemed, from being all their life time, through fear of a shadow, subject to bondage, Psalms 23:4 .
One word more on this precious scripture. There can be no doubt, but that as by sin we were all lawful captives to Satan; it must be a lawful act alone, that can make us free from that captivity. This the Son of God accomplished, by destroying Satan, and delivering his people. And so God the Father engaged for, in Covenant promises. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful (mark the word lawful) captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible delivered; for I will contend with him, that contendeth with thee; and I will save thy children, Isaiah 49:24-23.49.25 . Oh! what a scripture is here! How full in point! How unanswerable in Covenant promises! Oh! the love of God our Father to our glorious Head, and to the Church in him!
Reader! again I say, do not turn away from the precious view, (for it is most precious,) which ariseth out of this blessed scripture, of the Son of God taking flesh and blood for such gracious purposes, because his children were partakers of the same. Jesus hath, in our nature, conquered him which first conquered us. And Jesus hath conquered both death and him, that had the power of death, by his own death; and by his rising to life again, hath opened to us everlasting life. Yea Jesus hath done more. He hath conquered the devil in us, by regeneration; and hath taken the strong man armed which kept us in bondage, and spoiled his armor. And Jesus hath overcome the devil by us, in every act of grace, by which, through the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body; and when our Spirit lusteth against the flesh, Romans 8:13 ; Galatians 5:17 . And that sweet promise carries us on, with sure victory: the God of peace will bruise Satan under our feet shortly, Romans 16:20 . Precious God and Savior! adored be thy name for taking our nature upon thee! In due time thou wilt come to cast the devil, and all his hellish crew into the bottomless pit. And then thy Church shall see his fall, and rejoice over him forever, Revelation 20:0 throughout.
(16) For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (17) Wherefore in all things it behooved 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. (18) For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
There is somewhat so very gracious in what is here said, of the Son of God, passing by the nature of Angels, and taking on him the seed of Abraham; that I would beg my Reader's indulgence to be somewhat more particular, in marking the distinguishing mercy. And in order that we may have the clearest apprehension of the subject, according to what is stated of it in scripture, it will not be amiss; first to make enquiry into the circumstances of that class of Beings, whose nature the Son of God passed by, when he took upon him the nature of man: before that we consider that class of Beings to whom Jesus manifested such distinguishing love in taking their nature. We have a large account of Angels, if taken altogether, in the word of God, to shew their high rank and dignity in the scale of being. They are evidently of the same family as man, considered as in Christ their head, Ephesians 3:15 . The elect Angels, so called, 1 Timothy 5:21 , are spoken of, as deriving, both their being and well being from, and in Christ, Colossians 1:18 . And as their Creator, they are commanded to worship him, Hebrews 1:6 . They ministered to his Person, upon earth, at his incarnation, Luke 2:13 ; at his temptation, Matthew 4:11 ; in his agony in the garden, Luke 22:43 ; at the tomb, on his resurrection, Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:7 ; his ascension, Acts 1:10-44.1.11 , and when the Lord shall come again to judge the world, they will attend him, Matthew 26:27 , and the Church of his redeemed shall see the heavens open, and they shall behold them ascending, and descending, upon the Son of Man, John 1:51 ; Genesis 28:12 . But while these very blessed things are spoken of Angels, in proof of their high dignity and character, we are taught in this precious scripture; that the Son of God, verily took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Let us humbly look into some of the causes, as far as Holy Scripture hath explained the subject, by way of marking the distinguishing mercy.
And first, to begin our enquiry of the scripture account of Angels. It appears, from several parts of the word of God, that there are Angels, which stand in a somewhat nearer relation to Christ, than that of being created by Him; for they are called, Elect Angels, 1 Timothy 5:21 , by which it may reasonably be supposed, that some influence, or power, is manifested by Christ towards them, which differs wholly from what simply belongs to Creating, and Preserving them in Being with the whole Creation of God. For in this sense, Hell itself is preserved, and the fallen Angels, which are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, to the judgment of the great day, Jude 1:6 . But then, this influence, or power, of special grace and favor differs totally from that, which is shewn the elect of Christ among men. With those, there is an union with Christ and they form Christ's mystical body. He is the head of his body the Church. And they are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Colossians 1:18 ; Ephesians 5:30 . Such things are never said of Angels. Moreover, Christ is the Redeemer of his elect men, which by nature in the Adam-fall, are all involved in ruin. But Christ is never said to be the Redeemer of Angels, in any part of the word of God. Indeed the Elect Angels needed not redemption, Christ hath kept them from falling. And for the fallen Angels, cast out of heaven, no Redeemer was ever to be provided, according to the Covenant of eternity. Hence we discover, the striking difference, respecting Angels and Men.
Secondly. It appears, however, from scripture, that as the Elect Angels, not only owe their Being, and their well Being to Christ; so are they in some special way, or manner, in the same family with Elect Men; and with them are Worshippers of Christ. When Jehovah bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith; And let all the Angels of God worship him, Hebrews 1:6 . And agreeably to this command, when John saw heaven open, and the Church praising Christ; he saith, that he heard also the voice of many Angels round about the throne, joining in the song, Revelation 5:11-66.5.12 . From hence we must infer, that the kingdom of Christ, is composed of Angels and Men and that they are Worshippers together of Christ as God-Man Mediator. I might enlarge much on this point. But dare not: The limits of a Poor Man's Commentary will not admit. But when we consider, what the word of God relates on this subject; that the Angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that are heirs of salvation; Hebrews 1:14 , that they evidently attend the assemblies of God's people; for women professing godliness are commanded to cover their heads in worship, because of the Angels; 1 Corinthians 11:10 , and that they rejoice over the conversion of the Lord's people, when brought out of the Adam-darkness; these things seem somewhat to imply, that Elect Angels are of the same family, in point of service and worship, as Elect Men; only they are not united to Christ, and have not that relationship with Jesus, which we have, by his taking our nature upon him.
Thirdly. It should seem moreover probable, by what John saw in his vision, that though in point of intellect, Elect Angels being wholly spiritual, are higher than men; on which account perhaps it is said, that when at the resurrection the Church shall arise a spiritual body, of that which was sown natural; we shall be like the Angels, Matthew 22:30 . Yet, their knowledge of Christ, and his redemption-work, is not derived from the heavenly Court, but from the earthly Courts of our worship. It is said by the Holy Ghost, in the Epistle to the Church at Ephesus, that it is to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers (meaning Angels) might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3:10 . From hence it should seem that as the Elect Angels, which are ministering servants, and attend the assemblies of God's people; where Christ is proclaimed in his fulness and glory; they hear and learn: and hence they rejoice in beholding the conversion of sinners, which brings such glory to the Lord.
But I pause. I shall pursue this part of the subject no further. It is no doubt, a pleasing consideration to regard, what the scripture hath said, concerning the Elect Angels. And it is pleasing also, to consider them, as in this way connected into one family of worship, in the adoration of Christ with ourselves. And I can conceive, that the consciousness of their presence, in our assemblies of worship, though invisible to us, would occasion, if properly considered, no small solemnity, and not unfrequently holy joy. Yea, such a thought, under grace, might be productive of much good, if we sometimes considered with what compassion they must behold heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, when they observe us cold, and too often inattentive in the great concerns of salvation! But I add no more.
It is time to attend to the account of Christ's regard to us before Angels. Though so much may be said of Angels; and is said of them; yet we are here told, concerning Jesus, that verily he took not on him the nature of Angels: but he took on him the seed of Abraham. This is our mercy. This, our highest dignity and honor. And the Holy Ghost blessedly assigns the causes.
And, first. It is the human nature, not the angelic, Christ betrothed to himself. Before the foundation of the world, the Church was chosen in him. Jesus was set up from everlasting, as the Head and Husband of his people: and then he himself saith, his delights were with the sons of men, Ephesians 1:4 ; Psalms 8:9 .
Secondly. It was the Elect Church, and not the Elect Angels, which became ruined by the fall. Consequently the nature he had to redeem, that nature he took. To have taken the nature of Angels to redeem the nature of Man would have been unsuitable and improper. Hence, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: by one man, came also justification to life, Romans 5:0 throughout. An Angel's nature could not have corresponded to purposes of this kind.
Thirdly. A deliverance from the condemnation of the broken law of God required a sacrifice. For without shedding of blood, there is no remission, Hebrews 9:22 . But had Christ taken an Angel's nature, he could have made no offering for sin. Redemption could only be effected, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; whereby hath perfected forever them that are sanctified, Hebrews 10:1-58.10.14 .
Fourthly. It was a law in Israel, that no man, who was a stranger in the Land, should be king over the people. Thou shalt in any wise set him to be king over thee, who is one of thy kindred, Deuteronomy 17:15 . To whom then, did the right of government belong, but to Jesus? Here was indeed One born for it; to whom all his Mother's children might bend before, Genesis 49:8 ; Philippians 2:9-50.2.11 .
And, lastly, to mention no more. The Holy Ghost here saith, that in all things, it behoved Christ to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful, and faithful High Priest, in things pertaining to God. So then, this union of nature, this blessed compound of God and Man in one Person, was that only, which could answer the vast purposes of Jehovah, in the work of redemption. It may be said, indeed, that as God, he could not acquire either a greater knowledge of our wants, in taking upon him our nature; or a greater disposition to mercy towards us, by this union. But it must be said also, at the same time, that if it added not to his knowledge or his disposition to mercy; yet it gave him a more perfect personal apprehension of them, in a knowledge by fellow feeling, how they acted upon our nature; and how the relief from them might best affect us. Besides, by taking the nature of man, he taught man how to come to him, under exercises. Ye know the heart of a stranger, (said the Lord) for ye were strangers. So I can tell Jesus. He knoweth our frame by his own. Had he taken the nature of Angels, of what use would it have been, to have said to Jesus, he knoweth the nature of Angels, what consolation would this have been to flesh and blood? Oh! precious Jesus! never, never, let me lose sight of this sweet scripture, with all the blessed encouragements arising out of it: my God, my Jesus, took not on him the nature of Angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, that he might be a merciful, and faithful high Priest to God!
Oh! for grace to take heed to those things, which I have heard of God's covenant love and salvation; that, through the sweet office of God the Holy Ghost, as the Remembrancer of Christ Jesus, I may never let them slip. And do thou blessed Lord, put such an holy jealousy and fear in my heart, that I may never depart from thee, nor neglect so great salvation.
Praises to my gracious God and Savior! who in his great condescension for the sufferings of death, was made a little lower than the Angels; and yet was then, and is now, and eternally must be, the Lord both of Angels and Men. And oh! what a thought! He who is the High and Lofty One, which inhabiteth eternity, is also the same moment, in his human nature, one with his people. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. And is it so, (oh! thou blessed Lord,) that thou art not ashamed to call thy people brethren? Lord! grant that I may never feel that false pride, and be ashamed to call thee so! Surely I will tell all the world, whose I am, and Whom I serve; and say to all I meet, Jesus is not ashamed to call me brother. And shall I not say to thee with delight, and joy, in the language of thy Church of old: Oh! that thou were as my brother that sucked the breasts of my mother: when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
Reader! do you know the Lord? If so, think of your mercies, and rightly make use of them; amidst the present sinful and adulterous Christ-despising generation! Will you be cast down, because of the temptation, and have your soul discouraged by reason of the way? Oh! blessed be the way, however tempted it may be, if it thereby leads the soul, more frequently, more closely, to Jesus. Darkness is a mercy, if it drives me to Jesus the light. Poverty of soul is true riches, if my pinchings endear his enlargements! It is blessed to know, and blessed to feel, all spiritual wants; to make the soul more sensible, that there is no fulness, but in Jesus. Lord the Spirit! cause my soul then to live upon Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent