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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 2

Verse 1

Therefore (δια τουτο). Because Jesus is superior to prophets and angels and because the new revelation is superior to the old. The author often pauses in his argument, as here, to drive home a pungent exhortation.

Ought (δε). It is necessity, necessity rather than obligation (χρη).

To give heed (προσεχειν). Present active infinitive with νουν (accusative singular of νους) understood as in Acts 8:6.

More earnest (περισσοτερως). Comparative adverb, "more earnestly," "more abundantly" as in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 To the things that were heard (τοις ακουσθεισιν). Dative plural neuter of the articular participle first aorist passive of ακουω.

Lest haply we drift away (μη ποτε παραρυωμεν). Negative clause of purpose with μη ποτε and the second aorist passive subjunctive of παραρρεω, old verb to flow by or past, to glide by, only here in N.T. (cf. Proverbs 3:21). Xenophon (Cyrop. IV. 52) uses it of the river flowing by. Here the metaphor is that "of being swept along past the sure anchorage which is within reach" (Westcott), a vivid picture of peril for all ("we," ημας).

Verse 2

For if ... proved steadfast (ε γαρ ... εγενετο βεβαιος). Condition of first class, assumed as true.

Through angels (δι' αγγελων). Allusion to the use of angels by God at Sinai as in Acts 7:38; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19, though not in the O.T., but in Josephus (Ant. XV. 156).

Transgression and disobedience (παραβασις κα παρακοη). Both words use παρα as in παραρυωμεν, refused to obey (stepping aside, παρα βασις as in Romans 2:23), neglect to obey (παρ ακοη as in Romans 5:19), more than a mere hendiadys.

Recompense of reward (μισθαποδοσιαν). Late double compound, like μισθαποδοτης (Hebrews 11:6), from μισθος (reward) and αποδιδωμ, to give back. The old Greeks used μισθοδοσια.

Just (ενδικον). Old compound adjective, in N.T. only here and Romans 3:8.

Verse 3

How shall we escape? (πως ημεις εκφευξομεθα;). Rhetorical question with future middle indicative of εκφευγω and conclusion of the condition.

If we neglect (αμελησαντες). First aorist active participle of αμελεω, "having neglected."

So great salvation (τηλικαυτης σωτηριας). Ablative case after αμελησαντες. Correlative pronoun of age, but used of size in the N.T. (James 3:4; 2 Corinthians 1:10).

Which (ητις). "Which very salvation," before described, now summarized.

Having at the first been spoken (αρχην λαβουσα λαλεισθα). Literally, "having received a beginning to be spoken," "having begun to be spoken," a common literary Koine idiom (Polybius, etc.).

Through the Lord (δια του κυριου). The Lord Jesus who is superior to angels. Jesus was God's full revelation and he is the source of this new and superior revelation.

Was confirmed (εβεβαιωθη). First aorist passive indicative of βεβαιοω, from βεβαιος (stable), old verb as in 1 Corinthians 1:6.

By them that heard (υπο των ακουσαντων). Ablative case with υπο of the articular first aorist active participle of ακουω. Those who heard the Lord Jesus. Only one generation between Jesus and the writer. Paul (Galatians 1:11) got his message directly from Christ.

Verse 4

God also bearing witness with them (συνεπιμαρτυρουντος του θεου). Genitive absolute with the present active participle of the late double compound verb συνεπιμαρτυρεω, to join (συν) in giving additional (επ) testimony (μαρτυρεω). Here only in N.T., but in Aristotle, Polybius, Plutarch.

Both by signs (σημειοις τε κα)

and wonders (κα τερασιν)

and by manifold powers (κα ποικιλαις δυναμεσιν)

and by gifts of the Holy Ghost (κα πνευματος αγιου μερισμοις). Instrumental case used with all four items. See Acts 2:22 for the three words for miracles in inverse order (powers, wonders, signs). Each word adds an idea about the εργα (works) of Christ. Τερας (wonder) attracts attention, δυναμις (power) shows God's power, σημειον reveals the purpose of God in the miracles. For ποικιλαις (manifold, many-coloured) see Matthew 4:24; James 1:2. For μερισμος for distribution (old word, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 4:12) see 1 Corinthians 12:4-30.

According to his own will (κατα την αυτου θελησιν). The word θελησις is called a vulgarism by Pollux. The writer is fond of words in -ις.

Verse 5

For not unto angels (ου γαρ αγγελοις). The author now proceeds to show (Hebrews 2:5-18) that the very humanity of Jesus, the Son of Man, likewise proves his superiority to angels.

The world to come (την οικουμενην την μελλουσαν). The new order, the salvation just described. See a like use of μελλω (as participle) with σωτηρια (Hebrews 1:14), αιων (Hebrews 6:4), αγαθα (Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1), πολις (Hebrews 13:14).

Whereof we speak (περ ης λαλουμεν). The author is discussing this new order introduced by Christ which makes obsolete the old dispensation of rites and symbols. God did not put this new order in charge of angels.

Verse 6

But one somewhere (δε που τις). See Hebrews 4:4 for a like indefinite quotation. Philo uses this "literary mannerism" (Moffatt). He quotes Psalms 8:5-7 and extends here to Hebrews 2:8.

Hath testified (διεμαρτυρατο). First aorist middle indicative of διαμαρτυρομα, old verb to testify vigorously (Acts 2:40).

What (Τ). Neuter, not masculine τις (who). The insignificance of man is implied.

The son of man (υιος ανθρωπου). Not ο υιος του ανθρωπου which Jesus used so often about himself, but literally here "son of man" like the same words so often in Ezekiel, without Messianic meaning here.

Visited (επισκεπτη). Second person singular present indicative middle of επισκεπτομα, old verb to look upon, to look after, to go to see (Matthew 25:36), from which verb επισχοπος, overseer, bishop, comes.

Verse 7

Thou madest him a little lower (ελαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τ). First aorist active of old verb ελαττοω from ελαττων (less), causative verb to lessen, to decrease, to make less, only here, and verse Hebrews 2:9 and John 3:30 in N.T. Βραχυ τ is accusative neuter of degree like 2 Samuel 16:1, "some little," but of time in Isaiah 57:17 (for a little while).

Than the angels (παρ' αγγελους). "Beside angels" like παρα with the accusative of comparison in Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 1:9. The Hebrew here has Elohim which word is applied to judges in Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6 (John 10:34). Here it is certainly not "God" in our sense. In Psalms 29:1 the LXX translates Elohim by υο θεου (sons of God).

Thou crownedst (εστεφανωσας). First aorist active indicative of old verb, στεφανοω, to crown, in N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 2:5 The Psalmist refers to God's purpose in creating man with such a destiny as mastery over nature. The rest of verse Hebrews 2:7 is absent in B.

Verse 8

In that he subjected (εν τω υποταξα). First aorist active articular infinitive of υπατασσω in the locative case, "in the subjecting."

He left (αφηκεν). First aorist active indicative (kappa aorist) of αφιημ.

Nothing that is not subject to him (ουδεν αυτω ανυποτακτον). Later verbal of υποτασσω with α privative. Here in passive sense, active sense in 1 Timothy 1:9. Man's sovereignty was meant to be all-inclusive including the administration of "the world to come." "He is crowned king of nature, invested with a divine authority over creation" (Moffatt). But how far short of this destiny has man come!

But now we see not yet (νυν δε ουπω ορωμεν). Not even today in the wonderful twentieth century with man's triumphs over nature has he reached that goal, wonderful as are the researches by the help of telescope and microscope, the mechanism of the airplane, the submarine, steam, electricity, radio.

Verse 9

Even Jesus (Ιησουν). We do not see man triumphant, but we do see Jesus, for the author is not ashamed of his human name, realizing man's destiny, "the very one who has been made a little lower than the angels" (τον βραχυ τ παρ' αγγελους ηλαττωμενον), quoting and applying the language of the Psalm in verse Hebrews 2:7 to Jesus (with article τον and the perfect passive participle of ελατταω). But this is not all. Death has defeated man, but Jesus has conquered death.

Because of the suffering of death (δια το παθημα του θανατου). The causal sense of δια with the accusative as in Hebrews 1:14. Jesus in his humanity was put lower than the angels "for a little while" (βραχυ τ). Because of the suffering of death we see (βλεπομεν) Jesus crowned (εστεφανωμενον, perfect passive participle of στεφανοω from verse Hebrews 2:7), crowned already "with glory and honour" as Paul shows in Philippians 2:9-11 (more highly exalted, υπερυψωσεν) "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." There is more glory to come to Jesus surely, but he is already at God's right hand (Hebrews 1:3).

That by the grace of God he should taste death for every man (οπως χαριτ θεου υπερ παντος γευσητα θανατου). This purpose clause (οπως instead of the more usual ινα) is pregnant with meaning. The author interprets and applies the language of the Psalm to Jesus and here puts Christ's death in behalf of (υπερ), and so instead of, every man as the motive for his incarnation and death on the Cross. The phrase to taste death (γευομα θανατου) occurs in the Gospels (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; John 8:52), though not in the ancient Greek. It means to see death (Hebrews 11:5), "a bitter experience, not a rapid sip" (Moffatt). His death was in behalf of every one (not everything as the early Greek theologians took it). The death of Christ (Andrew Fuller) was sufficient for all, efficient for some. It is all "by the grace (χαριτ, instrumental case) of God," a thoroughly Pauline idea. Curiously enough some MSS. read χωρις θεου (apart from God) in place of χαριτ θεου, Nestorian doctrine whatever the origin.

Verse 10

It became him (επρεπεν αυτω). Imperfect active of πρεπω, old verb to stand out, to be becoming or seemly. Here it is impersonal with τελειωσα as subject, though personal in Hebrews 7:26. Αυτω (him) is in the dative case and refers to God, not to Christ as is made plain by τον αρχηγον (author). One has only to recall John 3:16 to get the idea here. The voluntary humiliation or incarnation of Christ the Son a little lower than the angels was a seemly thing to God the Father as the writer now shows in a great passage (Hebrews 2:10-18) worthy to go beside Philippians 2:5-11.

For whom (δι' ον). Referring to αυτω (God) as the reason (cause) for the universe (τα παντα).

Through whom (δι' ου). With the genitive δια expresses the agent by whom the universe came into existence, a direct repudiation of the Gnostic view of intermediate agencies (aeons) between God and the creation of the universe. Paul puts it succinctly in Romans 11:36 by his εξ αυτου κα δι' αυτου κα εις αυτον τα παντα. The universe comes out of God, by means of God, for God. This writer has already said that God used his Son as the Agent (δι' ου) in creation (Hebrews 1:2), a doctrine in harmony with Colossians 1:15 (εν αυτωι, δι' αυτου εις αυτον) and John 1:3.

In bringing (αγαγοντα). Second aorist active participle of αγω in the accusative case in spite of the dative αυτω just before to which it refers.

The author (τον αρχηγον). Old compound word (αρχη and αγω) one leading off, leader or prince as in Acts 5:31, one blazing the way, a pioneer (Dods) in faith (Hebrews 12:2), author (Acts 3:15). Either sense suits here, though author best (verse Hebrews 2:9). Jesus is the author of salvation, the leader of the sons of God, the Elder Brother of us all (Romans 8:29).

To make perfect (τελειωσα). First aorist active infinitive of τελειοω (from τελειος). If one recoils at the idea of God making Christ perfect, he should bear in mind that it is the humanity of Jesus that is under discussion. The writer does not say that Jesus was sinful (see the opposite in Hebrews 4:15), but simply that "by means of sufferings" God perfected his Son in his human life and death for his task as Redeemer and Saviour. One cannot know human life without living it. There was no moral imperfection in Jesus, but he lived his human life in order to be able to be a sympathizing and effective leader in the work of salvation.

Verse 11

He that sanctifieth (ο αγιαζων). Present active articular participle of αγιαζω. Jesus is the sanctifier (Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 13:12).

They that are sanctified (ο αγιαζομενο). Present passive articular participle of αγιαζω. It is a process here as in Hebrews 10:14, not a single act, though in Hebrews 10:10 the perfect passive indicative presents a completed state.

Of one (εξ ενος). Referring to God as the Father of Jesus and of the "many sons" above (verse Hebrews 2:10) and in harmony with verse Hebrews 2:14 below. Even before the incarnation Jesus had a kinship with men though we are not sons in the full sense that he is.

He is not ashamed (ουκ επαισχυνετα). Present passive indicative of επαισχυνομα, old compound (Romans 1:16). Because of the common Father Jesus is not ashamed to own us as "brothers" (αδελφους), unworthy sons though we be.

Verse 12

Unto my brethren (τοις αδελφοις μου). To prove his point the writer quotes Psalms 22:22 when the Messiah is presented as speaking "unto my brethren."

Congregation (εκκλησιας). The word came to mean the local church and also the general church or kingdom (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 12:23). Here we have the picture of public worship and the Messiah sharing it with others as we know Jesus often did.

Verse 13

I will put my trust in him (Εγω εσομα πεποιθως επ' αυτω). A rare periphrastic (intransitive) future perfect of πειθω, a quotation from Isaiah 8:17. The author represents the Messiah as putting his trust in God as other men do (cf. Hebrews 12:2). Certainly Jesus did this constantly. The third quotation (κα παλιν, And again) is from Isaiah 8:18 (the next verse), but the Messiah shows himself closely linked with the children (παιδια) of God, the sons (υιο) of verse Hebrews 2:10.

Verse 14

Are sharers in flesh and blood (κεκοινωνηκεν αιματος κα σαρκος). The best MSS. read "blood and flesh." The verb is perfect active indicative of κοινωνεω, old verb with the regular genitive, elsewhere in the N.T. with the locative (Romans 12:13) or with εν or εις. "The children have become partners (κοινωνο) in blood and flesh."

Partook (μετεσχε). Second aorist active indicative of μετεχω, to have with, a practical synonym for κοινωνεω and with the genitive also (των αυτων). That he might bring to nought (ινα καταργηση). Purpose of the incarnation clearly stated with ινα and the first aorist active subjunctive of καταργεω, old word to render idle or ineffective (from κατα, αργος), causative verb (25 times in Paul), once in Luke (Luke 13:7), once in Hebrews (here). "By means of death" (his own death) Christ broke the power (κρατος) of the devil over death (paradoxical as it seems), certainly in men's fear of death and in some unexplained way Satan had sway over the realm of death (Zechariah 3:5). Note the explanatory τουτ' εστιν (that is) with the accusative after it as before it. In Revelation 12:7 Satan is identified with the serpent in Eden, though it is not done in the Old Testament. See Romans 5:12; John 8:44; John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 3:12. Death is the devil's realm, for he is the author of sin. "Death as death is no part of the divine order" (Westcott).

Verse 15

And might deliver (κα απαλλαξη). Further purpose with the first aorist active subjunctive of αππαλλασσω, old verb to change from, to set free from, in N.T. only here, Luke 12:58; Acts 19:12.

Through fear of death (φοβω θανατου). Instrumental case of φοβος. The ancients had great fear of death though the philosophers like Seneca argued against it. There is today a flippant attitude towards death with denial of the future life and rejection of God. But the author of Hebrews saw judgement after death (Hebrews 9:27). Hence our need of Christ to break the power of sin and Satan in death.

All their lifetime (δια παντος του ζηιν). Present active infinitive with πας and the article in the genitive case with δια, "through all the living."

Subject to bondage (ενοχο δουλειας). Old adjective from ενεχω, "held in," "bound to," with genitive, bond-slaves of fear, a graphic picture. Jesus has the keys of life and death and said: "I am the life." Thank God for that.

Verse 16

Verily (δε που). "Now in some way," only here in N.T.

Doth he take hold (επιλαμβανετα). Present middle indicative and means to lay hold of, to help, like βοηθησα in verse Hebrews 2:18.

The seed of Abraham (σπερματος Αβρααμ). The spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29), children of faith (Romans 9:7).

Verse 17

Wherefore (οθεν). Old relative adverb (ο and enclitic θεν, whence of place (Matthew 12:44), of source (1 John 2:18), of cause as here and often in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:18; Hebrews 11:19).

It behoved him (ωφειλεν). Imperfect active of οφειλω, old verb to owe, money (Matthew 18:28), service and love (Romans 13:8), duty or obligation as here and often in N.T. (Luke 17:10). Jesus is here the subject and the reference is to the incarnation. Having undertaken the work of redemption (John 3:16), voluntarily (John 10:17), Jesus was under obligation to be properly equipped for that priestly service and sacrifice.

In all things (κατα παντα). Except yielding to sin (Hebrews 4:15) and yet he knew what temptation was, difficult as it may be for us to comprehend that in the Son of God who is also the Son of man (Mark 1:13). Jesus fought through to victory over Satan.

To be made like unto his brethren (τοις αδελφοις ομοιωθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of ομοιοω, old and common verb from ομοιος (like), as in Matthew 6:8, with the associative instrumental case as here. Christ, our Elder Brother, resembles us in reality (Philippians 2:7 "in the likeness of men") as we shall resemble him in the end (Romans 8:29 "first-born among many brethren"; 1 John 3:2 "like him"), where the same root is used as here (οιωμα, ομοιος). That he might be (ινα γενητα). Purpose clause with ινα and the second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα, to become, "that he might become." That was only possible by being like his brethren in actual human nature.

Merciful and faithful high priest (ελεημων κα πιστος αρχιερευς). The sudden use of αρχιερευς here for Jesus has been anticipated by Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9 and see Hebrews 3:1. Jesus as the priest-victim is the chief topic of the Epistle. These two adjectives (ελεημων and πιστος) touch the chief points in the function of the high priest (Hebrews 5:1-10), sympathy and fidelity to God. The Sadducean high priests (Annas and Caiaphas) were political and ecclesiastical tools and puppets out of sympathy with the people and chosen by Rome.

In things pertaining to God (τα προς τον θεον). The adverbial accusative of the article is a common idiom. See the very idiom τα προς τον θεον in Exodus 18:19; Romans 15:17. This use of προς we had already in Hebrews 1:7. On the day of atonement the high priest entered the holy of holies and officiated in behalf of the people.

To make propitiation for (εις το ιλασκεσθα). Purpose clause with εις το and the infinitive (common Greek idiom), here present indirect middle of ιλασκομα, to render propitious to oneself (from ιλαος, Attic ιλεως, gracious). This idea occurs in the LXX (Psalms 65:3), but only here in N.T., though in Luke 18:13 the passive form (ιλασθητ) occurs as in 2 Kings 5:18. In 1 John 2:2 we have ιλασμος used of Christ (cf. Hebrews 7:25). The inscriptions illustrate the meaning in Hebrews 2:17 as well as the LXX.

Verse 18

In that (εν ω). Literally, "In which" (=εν τουτω εν ω, in that in which), a causal idea, though in Romans 14:22 εν ω means "wherein."

Hath suffered (πεπονθεν). Second perfect active indicative of πασχω, permanent part of Christ's experience.

Being tempted (πειρασθεις). First aorist passive participle of πειραζω. The temptation to escape the shame of the Cross was early and repeatedly presented to Christ, by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-11), by Peter in the spirit of Satan (Matthew 16:22), in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39), and caused intense suffering to Jesus (Luke 22:44; Hebrews 5:8).

He is able (δυνατα). This word strikes the heart of it all. Christ's power to help is due not merely to his deity as God's Son, but also to his humanity without which he could not sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15).

To succour (βοηθησα). First aorist active infinitive of the old compound verb βοηθεω (βοη, a cry, θεω, to run), to run at a cry or call for help (Matthew 15:25).

Them that are tempted (τοις πειραζομενοις). Dative plural of the articular participle (present passive) of πειραζω. These Jewish Christians were daily tempted to give up Christ, to apostatize from Christianity. Jesus understands himself (αυτος) their predicament and is able to help them to be faithful.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.