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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 2

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

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We ought to be obedient to Christ Jesus, and that because he vouchsafed to take our nature upon him, as it was necessary.

Anno Domini 63.

THE foregoing display of the greatness of the Son of God being designed, not only to give theobjections of the Jews their full force, but to make mankind sensible of the obligation they are under to obey Jesus, and to hearken to his apostles, the inspired writer very properly begins his second chapter, with an exhortation to the Hebrews, to pay the utmost attention to the things which they had heard from the Lord Jesus and his apostles, Hebrews 2:1.—For, says he, if our fathers, who disobeyed the command to enter into Canaan, which God spake to them by his angels, were justly punished with death, Hebrews 2:2.—how can we hope to escape eternal death, if we neglect the great salvation from sin and misery, together with the possession of heaven, which was first preached to us by the Lord himself, and which was afterwards confirmed to us by his apostles and ministers, who heard him preach and promise that salvation, Hebrews 2:3.—and whose testimony ought to be credited, since God bare witness with them, by the miracles which he enabled them to perform, and by the gifts of the Holy Ghost which he distributed to them, ver.4.—But lest the Hebrews might despise the gospel, because it was not preached to them by angels, the apostle told them, that God had not employed angels to lead believers into the future heavenly world, the possession of which is the great salvation whereof he spake.—By this observation he insinuated, that the tidings of the great salvation, were not to be disregarded because they were preached to them by men, and not by angels, since these men were commissioned by Christ the only-begotten Son of God, Hebrews 2:5.

The Hebrews being thus prepared for listening with attention to the apostle, he proceeded to answer the different objections urged by the Jewish doctors against our Lord's pretensions to be the Son of God. These objections, it is true, he has not formally stated, because they were in every one's mouth; but from the nature of the things which he has written,it is easy to see what they were.—The first objection was taken from our Lord's being a man. This, in the opinion of the Jews, was sufficient to overthrow his claim altogether;because for a man to call himself the Son of God, was so contrary to every idea which they had formed of the Son of God, that even the common people thought it a blasphemy which deserved to be punished with death. John 10:33. For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, because thou, being a man, makest thyself God. See also Joh 5:18 and 1 John 5:5. In this prejudice the people were confirmed by the sentence of the chief priests, elders, and scribes, who, after a solemn trial, pronounced Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and condemned him to death, because he called himself the Christ, the Son of the blessed God; Mark 16:20 a sentence for which there was no foundation, since in their own scriptures it was expressly and repeatedly declared, that the Christ was to be the Son, both of Abraham and of David. But the doctors, it seems, understood this in a metaphorical sense. For when Jesus asked the scribes, how the Christ could be both David's Son and David's Lord, they were not able to answer him a word; being ignorant that the Christ was really to become man, by descending from Abraham and David, according to the flesh.

A second objection raised against our Lord's being the Son of God and King of Israel, was taken from his mean condition; from his never having possessed any temporal dominion; and fromhis having been put to death. These things they thought incompatible with the greatness of the Son of God, and with his glory as the Christ, or king universal, described in their sacred writings. And therefore, when Jesus mentioned his being lifted up, the people objected, John 12:34. We have heard out of the law, that the Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Their notions concerning the temporal dominion of the Christ, and his abiding on earth for ever, the doctors founded on Dan 2:44 where the empire of the Christ was foretold, under the idea of a kingdom which the God of heaven was to set up, and which was never to be destroyed;—but which should break in pieces and consume all kingdoms. Also on Daniel 7:13-14. Where one like the Son of man is represented: as coming in the clouds of heaven, and receiving dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. Likewise in other passages, the kingdom and victories of the Christ are described by ideas and expressions taken from the kings and kingdoms of this world: and the Christ himself is called God's king, whom he would set on his holy hill of Zion; and Messiah, or Christ, the Prince. These things led the Jews to fancy, that the Christ was to be a great temporal prince, who would set the Jews free from foreign tyranny, and subject all nations to their dominion; that Jerusalem was to be the seat of this universal empire; and that every individual Jew would have some share in the administration of it. Wherefore, when Jesus of Nazareth refused to be made a king, and disclaimed all temporal dominion, and subjected himselfto poverty, persecution, and death, they derided his pretensions to be the Christ, Mark 15:31. The chief priests, mocking, said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Mark 15:32. Let Christ the king of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. These learned men were ignorant that the kingdom of the Christ is not of this world; that it is established, not by force, but by the Spirit of God and the power of persuasion, Psa 110:3 that it has for its object, the destruction of sin and of all its abettors, and the establishment of righteousness in the earth; that the victories by which these grand events are brought to pass, are all of a spiritual kind; and that the greatness of the Christ consists in ruling, not the bodies, but the spirits of men, by drawing their affections and influencing their wills. And, as the Jews had no conceptionofthese things, so neither did they know that the felicity which the subjects of the Christ are to enjoy, is not of this world, but of the heavenly country which was promised to Abraham and to his seed by faith.

The ideas which the Jews had formed of the Christ, and of his kingdom, being founded in ignorance of their own scriptures, though pretended to be derived from that source, it became necessary by clear testimonies out of these very scriptures, to prove, That, from the beginning, God determined to send his Son into the world clothed with flesh, so as to be the Son of man as well as the Son of God; that he was to possess no worldly dominion while on earth, but to be subject to all the natural evils incident to men, and at length to be killed; after which he was to arise from the dead, and in the human nature to be invested with the government of the world, for the purpose of destroying all the enemies of God, and of putting the righteous in possession of the kingdom promised to the saints of the Most High: I say it was necessary to prove all these things by clear testimonies from the Jewish scriptures; because no other proofs would be regarded by the unbelieving Hebrews.
With this view, therefore, the apostle quoted Psa 8:5 where it is foretold, that God would make his Son, in respect to his humanity, for a little while less than angels, by sending him into our world made flesh, and subject to death; after which he would crown him with glory and honour, by raising him from the dead, and placing him in the human nature over the works of his hands, Hebrews 2:6-7.—and by subjecting all things under his feet. On this the apostle remarks, that we do not yet see all things subdued by him, and put under him, Hebrews 2:8.—But we have seen Jesus, in regard to his manhood, for a little while made less than angels, that by the grace of God he might taste death for every man; and, for the suffering of death, be crowned with glory and honour, by his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, his sitting at the right hand of God, and his sending down the gifts of his Spirit upon men. This certainly isevidence sufficient, that all enemies shall at length be put under his feet. No just objection therefore lies against Jesus as the Christ, for his having had no temporal kingdom, Hebrews 2:9.—Next, by informing us, that the Son was made flesh that he might die for every man, the apostle has removed the offence occasioned by the death of the Son of God. His death was necessary for procuring pardon to them who believe: and this appointment, the apostle tells us, is to be resolved into the free and unmerited love of God, because it belonged to him who is offended by the sins of men, to prescribe the terms on which he will pardon them. And therefore, when he determined, in bringing all his faithful saints to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation a perfect or effectual Captain, through suffering death, he only exercised the right which belonged to him, and what was necessary for the harmony of his own perfections and the salvation of his saints, Hebrews 2:10.—Then to shew more fully that God determined to send his Son into the world made flesh, the apostle subjoins more quotations from the scriptures, in which the Christ is spoken of as a man, Hebrews 2:11-13.

A third objection to our Lord's claim, was taken from his being born of a woman in the weak helpless state of an infant. This the scribes thought incompatible with the greatness of Christ the Son of God. Hence in confutation of our Lord's pretensions to be the Christ, the Jews said one to another, John 7:27. We knew this man whence he is. But when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. Farther, because the Christ was foretold, Dan 7:13-14 to come with the clouds of heaven to receive dominion, the Jews expected that he would make his first appearance among them in the clouds. This they called a sign from heaven, and desired Jesus to shew it, Matthew 16:1. But, to remove these false opinions, the apostle observed, that since the children or disciples of the Messiah, who submit to his spiritual reign in their hearts, partake of flesh and blood, by being born of parents who are flesh and blood, Messiah also partook of the flesh and blood of men, by being born of a woman, that through death he might, according to the divine promise concerning the seed of the woman recorded by Moses, destroy the devil, that is, all the influence of the devil, who had the power of death, Hebrews 2:14.—and deliver the faithful from the fear of death, by giving them the assurance of pardon and resurrection from the dead, Hebrews 2:15.—So that our Lord's claim to be the Christ, instead of being overthrown, was strongly established by his birth of a virgin.

A fourth objection was taken from our Lord's being subject to all the natural miseries and calamities incident to men. This the Jews thought inconsistent with the divine nature of the Christ. But, in answer, the apostle told the Hebrews, that Jesus did not lay hold on angels to save them, but on the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16.—For which reason it was necessary, that in all things he should be made like his brethren, that is, those who would receive him as their Lord, and perseveringly cleave to him; that being their brother, and having the affection of a brother for them, he might exercise the office of a high-priest mercifully towards the human race, but especially towards them that believe, as well as faithfully towards God, by making propitiation for their sins through his death, Hebrews 2:17.—This however is not all. He was subjected to affliction and temptation like his brethren, that he might have such a fellow-feeling of their infirmity and of the difficulty of their trials, as would dispose him, in the exercise of his kingly power, to succour them when tempted, Hebrews 2:18.—These being considerations of great importance, they are suggested a second time, chap. 4:

Such are the answers made by the apostle to the objections whereby the scribes endeavoured to confute the claim of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ the Son of God, taken,—1. From his being a man.—2. From his never having possessed any kingdom, and from his having suffered death.—3. From his having become man, by being born in thehelpless state of an infant.—4. From his having been liable to all the natural miseries and calamities incident to men.—Wherefore, after hearing these answers, the offence of the cross ought with the Jews to have ceased for ever. And if any others reject the gospel, on account of the high titles given therein to Jesus, fancying that his greatness as the Son of God is inconsistent with his manifestation and sufferings in the flesh, the reasonings in this chapter are highly worthy of their consideration, as they afford a satisfactory solution of their doubts.

Verse 1

Hebrews 2:1. Lest at any time we should let them slip. The word Παραρρυωμεν, rendered, we should let them slip, signifies properly, we should fall off, or fall away; namely, from the true religion, and saving grace. In the LXX this verb answers to the Hebrew לז lez, to decline,—depart, Pro 3:21 where what in the Hebrew is, let them not depart from thine eyes, that version renders Μη παραρρυης, decline not, or fall not off from them; the translators applying that to the person, which the original does to the thing. Our translators read in the margin, Lest at any time we should run out, as leaky vessels; referring to the metaphorical etymology of the word. See Parkhurst on the word Παραρρυω .

Verse 2

Hebrews 2:2. For, if the word spoken by angels See Acts 7:53. Gal 3:19 If the law was given by angels to Moses, (though the Logos undoubtedly presided among them and over them, on that solemn occasion,) but what was delivered to us was given by the Son himself; if, in the one case, he made use of his ministers to give his commands, but, in the other, he acts himself inperson; how forcible is the apostle's argument, that we ought to give the greater heed to what is delivered by the greatest Personage. See Deuteronomy 33:2. Instead of, was steadfast, Dr. Heylin reads, was fully executed. The threats denounced in the law were all put in execution exactly and rigidly, and every transgression, and every act of disobedience, (even such crimes under the law as gathering a few sticks on the sabbath, &c.) were punished with death: Numbers 15:35.

Verse 3

Hebrews 2:3. How shall we escape, &c.!— The Jews had no reason to imagine that God would remit the punishments threatened in the law, if they resolved to adhere to it, and would not embrace the condition of faith in Christ which was offered to them: for the law had never been repealed, but continued in its original force; nor would disuse make it of no force, if the Lawmaker would put it into execution. By salvation here is understood, the doctrine of salvation;—the gospel, which of course includes experimental religion: and as this stands opposed to the word spoken by angels, it is necessary to understand it of the word or doctrine published by Christ: and all the expressions here used, of Christ's beginning to speak it,—of men's hearing it,—of its being confirmed; and that God attested it,—lead us to understand the place in the sense given. This doctrine of salvation, is said to be begun to be spoken by Christ, because there were some things which belonged to the gospel,—as the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the pouring out of the Spirit,—which were to be more fully published by his apostles after his death. Confirmed to us, signifies properly, to our times; to the times in which the apostle lived: and the sense appears to be, "They who heard Christ himself preaching, have continued confirming the truth of what he preached to us Hebrews, even to this time; having the gifts of the Holy Ghost) various in their kinds, as God has been pleased to grant them to them." It would have been, not the term εις ημας, but ημιν, which the apostle would have used, if he had intended to say, That he himself learned the gospel from those who had heard Christ; nor would he have said, that the gospel was confirmed to him by them that heard Christ; since elsewhere he declares, that he had it not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:1. Supposing now St. Paul to have written this epistle in the year 67, he then says, that those who had heard Christ, continued uniformly and constantly to attest what he had said, from that time to this; that is, for upwards of thirty years. They who from this expression would argue, that St. Paul was not the author of this epistle, mistake the meaning of the phrase here used; which does not relate to the person writing, but to the time when he wrote. They who had heard Christ himself, had confirmed, even to this time, steadily and consistently, what they had heard from our Lord himself.

Verse 5

Hebrews 2:5. For unto the angels "Angels, as I told you, are only ministering spirits; and though the law was given by them, yet in the present dispensation they have nothing to do in dispensing the gospel: for it is the Son of God, the Lord of all things, to whom is reserved the sole dominion over, and direction of the present dispensation; and who is the giver of that salvation of which we speak, and not angels, to whom we are not subjected."

Verses 6-9

Hebrews 2:6-9. But one in a certain place, &c.— "Nor think it strange, that a man should be invested with such extraordinary power; for as the Psalmist says of manin general, that he is Lord of all the creation; that, low and mean, and helpless in ten thousand instances, as he seems to be, yet all things are in general subject to him: this, I say, is now literally and eminently true in the case of Jesus Christ, the God-man. What is man, says the Psalmist, that thou art mindful of him; or the son of man, that thou visitest him?—Thou madest him lower than angels, and yet thou hast crowned him with great glory, in that thou hast given him dominion over the works of thine hands. But then, when the Psalmist said, that God had put all things in subjection under man, it is plain that these words are not to be taken too rigidly: for the moon and the stars, and many other things, the work of God's hands, are not in subjection to man. You are not therefore to understand these words absolutely and strictlyof man in the general; but we see how all this is literally verified in Jesus, the God-man, the eternal Son of God, Heb 2:9 who, by becoming man, that he might suffer death, was, for a short time, in a very qualified sense, made lower and meaner than the angels; and because he suffered death, he was crowned with glory and honour, and obtained all power in heaven and earth, as man. He was made man, I say, and thus for a short time, in this respect, lower than the angels, that by the grace of God, and to shew his exceeding kindness for us, he might taste death for every man." See 1 Corinthians 15:25-27. Genesis 1:26. A little, Βραχυ τι,— may signify either littleness of the thing, or shortness of the time; and in both these respects Christ, while upon earth, was, in respect to his humanity, inferior to the angels; therefore they were sent to strengthen him. But he had a glory with his Father from all eternity, of which in some figurative sense he emptied himself to become man; and then, as the reward of his sufferings, he received his kingdom, all things being subjected to him. So that it was properly but a little while, or for some short time, that he was as other men are, made lower than the angels. See John 17:5.Philippians 2:6-10; Philippians 2:6-10. Hebrews 12:2. To taste death is to die: and to taste death for all, or every man, is to die for the benefit of all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. Now our Lord condescended to taste death for all; and the grace and kindness of God was by that means displayed to mankind in a most extraordinary manner, as the apostle explains it in the following verses.

Verses 10-15

Hebrews 2:10-15. For it became him, &c.— Very different are the explanations given of this passage; that which appears to me the plainest and most just, is as follows: Hebrews 2:10. "Such has been the conduct of God in the great affair of our redemption; and the beauty and harmony of it will be apparent in proportion to the degree in which it is examined. For, though the Jews dream of a temporal Messiah, as a scheme conducive to the divine glory, it well became him,—it was expedient that, in order to act worthy of himself, he should take this method; He, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things; that glorious Being, who is the first cause and last end of all,—in pursuit of the great and important design that he had formed, of conducting all his faithful saints to the possession of that inheritance of glory intended for them;—to make and constitute Jesus, his only begotten and best-beloved Son, the leader and prince of their salvation, and to make him perfect, or completely fit for the full execution of his office,by a long train of various and extremesufferings, whereby he was as it were solemnly consecrated to it. Hebrews 2:11. Now, in consequence of this appointment, Jesus, the great Sanctifier, who engages and consecrates men to the service of God, and they who are sanctified (that is, consecrated and introduced to God with such acceptance,) are all of one family, all in a sense the seed of Abraham by faith; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them, who thus yield to be saved by his grace, his brethren: Hebrews 2:12. Saying,—in the person of David, who represented the Messiah in his sufferings and exaltation,—I will declare thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the church will I praise thee. Hebrews 2:13. And again, speaking as a mortal man, exposed to such exercises of faith in trials and difficulties, as others were, he says in a psalm which sets forth his triumph overhis enemies, I will trust in him, as the saints have done in all ages, only in an infinitely higher sense; and again elsewhere, in the person of Isaiah, Behold I, and the children which God hath given me, are for signs and for wonders, Hebrews 2:14. Seeing then that those whom he represents in one place and another, as the children of the same family with himself, were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself in like manner participated of them, that thereby becoming capable of those sufferings, to which, without such an union with flesh, this divine Sanctifier could not have been liable, he might by his own voluntary and meritorious death abolish and depose him, who by divine permission had the empire of death, and led it in his train, when he made his first invasion on mankind;—that is, the devil, the great artificer of mischief and destruction; at the beginning the murderer of the human race; who still seems to triumph in the spread of mortality, which is his work, and who may often, by God's righteous permission, be the executioner of it. Hebrews 2:15. But Christ, the great prince of mercy and life, graciously interposed, that he might deliver those miserable captives of Satan,—mankind in general, and the dark and idolatrous Gentiles in particular, who, through fear of death, were, or justly might have been, all their lifetime obnoxious to bondage: having nothing to expect, in consequence of it,—if they rightly understood their state, but future misery; whereas now, changing their Lord, they have happily changed their condition; and are, as many as have believed in him, the heirs of eternal life."

Verse 16

Hebrews 2:16. For verily he took not on him, &c.— The version of the margin is here to be preferred, wherewith the Vulgate agrees. The word επιλαμβανεται is used several times in the New Testament with a genitive case, as in this place, and always in the sense of taking hold. See ch. Hebrews 8:9. Matthew 14:31.Mark 8:23; Mark 8:23.Luke 9:47; Luke 9:47. 1Ti 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:19. The apostle's reasoning stands thus: "Christ took part in flesh and blood, because his design was to lay hold of, that is, to save, the seed of Abraham,—all the followers of the faith of Abraham, and not the angels; and upon that account it was highly requisite, that he should be made like unto the seed of Abraham, his brethren in sufferings and grace; in order to which, it was necessary for him to take part with them in flesh and blood; Hebrews 2:17." It may be here asked, why the apostle should say, that Christ came to help the seed of Abraham; and not the seed of Adam? The reason is, he was writing to persons zealous of the law, and who could not bear the notion of the Gentiles being admitted to equal privileges with themselves. Therefore, under the words the seed of Abraham, (which, in St. Paul's language, implied all that were of faith, be they of what nation soever,) he artfully, and without giving offence to the Hebrews, expresses the full truth. Abraham was the father of all them that believe, Rom 4:11 and in this sense is the expression here used, to take in all that followed the faith of Abraham, whether they were Jews or Gen

Verse 17

Hebrews 2:17. Wherefore in all things, &c.— In taking flesh and blood, in sufferings, in death; for the next clause, see Romans 8:3.Philippians 2:7; Philippians 2:7. The following words may be rendered, that he might be merciful, and a faithful High-priest; merciful, in that being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted; and a faithful High-priest in things relative to God;—in doing all such things as the Father had appointed him; particularly in doing the office of a priest, by making a full atonement for the sins of the world. Concerning his fidelity, see ch. Hebrews 3:1-2, &c. 1 John 2:2.Romans 3:25; Romans 3:25.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/hebrews-2.html. 1801-1803.
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