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Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard. This word "therefore" means, because of all that has been spoken in Chapter 1 of the glorious person of the Son of God; and His infinite height above His creation; especially, as the argument proceeds to declare, that to us God hath spoken through the Lord. This refers evidently to the Four Gospels, and to the Acts; as we saw in Chapter One.
More earnest heed.--If the Old Testament prophets should be heard, how much more the Lord of glory Himself! He having come to earth, become Man, and speaking to men! To the things that were heard--These Hebrew believers had read the Old Testament, and heard the gospel. Many were like Apollos, who had been "taught by word of mouth" (Acts 18:25, R.V. margin). Compare also Theophilus (Lk. 1:4, R.V. margin).
We are in a different position, in that we have the complete, living, written record of our Lord's earthly ministry, the apostles' witness in the book of Acts, and also the epistles. That these Hebrew believers, however, had been accurately and thoroughly instructed, even if "by word of mouth," is taken for granted by the apostle.
Lest haply we drift away (from them). It was not the gospel that might "slip away" but the people who heard it might by inattention drift away from it! The world is ever tugging at the believer, and that so often unconsciously to him, to go along with its false hopes. Satan likes nothing better than a neglecting Christian! We all know, too, that the tendency of our natures is to drift along with earthly things away from the gospel. The Hebrew believers to whom the great exhortation of this book is directed, had heard. They were familiar, first of all, with what we call the Old Testament Scriptures, and with their own history as a nation. They were also familiar with the coming and death of Jesus, their Messiah, together with His glorious resurrection and ascension. Possibly some were not ignorant of His priestly work. For at that time the preaching of Christ did not omit, as largely today, the mention of His present priestly ministry and their dependence thereupon for their walk. But that the Levitical economy was entirely ended; and that the Son of God was Priest after another order than Aaron, and that forever--even "the order of Melchizedek," this epistle is designed to teach them!
Howbeit, the desperate danger was that they should "drift away."
* In driving from Buffalo to Toronto, one passes very close to the great falls of Niagara. I stopped there one day several years ago and asked a guard concerning a beautiful large yacht which had lodged upon the brink of the great falls.
"How came that yacht there?" I asked.
The guard said, "The owner of that vessel was a patriotic millionaire who lent it to the government for use in World War I. It was turned back to him after the war. He and a company of his friends were sailing down the Niagara below Buffalo, and the party, and all the crew, had gone ashore for refreshments. What was their astonishment and dismay, when they came back, to find their vessel gone! The employee responsible admitted he had tied it up hastily and insecurely--not reckoning the force of the current! And their vessel was gone!"
I asked the guard whether it could not be recovered.
"No machinery known to man could rescue that vessel," he replied.
Had the party been aboard it, and had fallen into slumber, not one could have been rescued!
Alas, how many thousands have heard the word of the gospel--only to drift away from their moorings forever,--through sluggishness and neglect! Drifting is the quietest, easiest, most delightful way of dying!
Let us remember all through this book of Hebrews that -it is not called an epistle, but a "word of exhortation" (Heb. 13:22). In fact, this verse contains the word "exhort" twice: "I beseech (Gr., exhort) you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation." In Romans 12:7-8 we find exhorting distinct from teaching: "He that teacheth (let him give himself) to his teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting." Barnabas, you remember, whose first name was Joseph (Acts 4:36), was "by the apostles surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of exhortation)."
Now an exhorter's gift is to persuade those who have heard into obedience to what they have heard. Such, therefore, is Hebrews. And so at the very beginning (Ch. 2:1) we find, We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away. But to "bear with" a word of exhortation, that may shout its warnings into our heavy ears, is not easy. Many will not bear with such a word!
For if the word spoken through angels. That is, the Law, whether or not we fully understand yet Galatians 3:19, "The Law ... was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator"; or, "This is he (Moses) that was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai" (Acts 7:38). ("Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for be will not pardon your transgression: for My name is in him." (Ex. 23:20-21). See also Ex. 32:34, and Acts 7:53. "Ye who received the Law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not.") We may have overlooked this truth, as it is not brought out till after Jehovah had pronounced the commandments (the "ten words") with a great voice from the top of Sinai. God's word to man, also was frequently delivered by angels, as to Lot (Gen. 19:1-22), or Daniel (Dan. 9:21; 10:4-14). God does not tell us in what manner the word was spoken through angels; but it proved steadfast. The argument of the verse is: If the Law ordained through angels, who were creatures, brought just recompense, how much rather when the Lord Himself comes and speaks, and men reject or neglect His word!
We know from the terrible experience of Israel in the wilderness something of what it is to receive a just recompense of reward for every transgression and disobedience. "Transgression" (Gr. parabasis) here means willful overstepping of a commandment; "disobedience" (parakoe), failing to hear through "neglect." But note the emphasis is upon "angels." Angels have just been seen to be creatures, servants; yet God backed up His word He had spoken through them!
Now we come to the first of the long series of great warnings in Hebrews. It is in the form of a question:
How shall we escape, if we _neglect so great a salvation which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; (See an extreme translation of the same Greek word in Matt. 22:5; "They made light of it.")
How shall we escape? (2:3). "They escaped not"! "Much more shall not we* escape"! (See Ch. 12:25.)
* How shall we regard this epistle to the Hebrews in view, for example, of the "we" four times, and the "us" of the first three verses? There are those that say that the writer speaks "only as a Hebrew to Hebrews," and that as we are not Hebrews, most of us, it was not spoken to us! How fallacious and dangerous is such talk! "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." And again, the "holy brethren" to whom this epistle was directed were, as we shall often repeat, not at all the Israelitish nation as such, but those believing Hebrews who were "partakers of a heavenly calling" (3:1).
Gentile believers, therefore, should "give the more earnest heed" to the things of the Epistle to the Hebrews. For God had not of old sent His word to Gentiles! (Ps. 147:19-20). Therefore the nations (for Heb. goyim and Gr. ethne always mean nations as over against Israel, God's elect nation), were wholly ignorant of the "shadows" and "types" of God's great salvation set forth in the O.T. Instead of superciliously handing over the Hebrews epistle "to the Jews," they should read it with profound reverence and humility. For by Israel's disobedience "salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy." We "now have obtained mercy by their (Israel's) disobedience ... that by (the example of) the mercy shown to you (Gentiles) they also may now obtain mercy" (Rom. 11:11, 30-31).
Gentiles, who now have the O.T. (a part of the grace and mercy God is now showing to us!) are tempted two ways: First, under burden of conscience to go back for relief to the Law which God gave Israel; second, to "hand over" to unbelieving Israel the O.T. as belonging only to them, and speaking about them; and not to Gentiles.
Mark carefully then: God spake in the Old Testament to Israel. Gentile believers of the New Testament gospel, hearing the same God whom they have believed explaining the Old Testament to Hebrew believers are at once edified,--as is anyone who hears God speak; instructed, both by the types of the Old Testament and their contrast with the heavenly realities into which both Hebrew and Gentile believers have now entered; and warned by God's dealing with the disobedient of those past days!
In these three searching sentences in Hebrews we are face to face with man's responsibility, the coming unavoidable issue. God delights in the death of no man! This must be believed. He would rather they turned from their way and lived. But God is "the judge of all" (12:23). Although He has judged human sin once upon a Substitute, Christ, God will not "save every one," as the Universalists claim. For human choice is not invaded: "I would," said Christ, "but ye would not." Neglecting, despising, turning away, most men do despite God's goodness.
The word "escape" emphasizes that great crisis to which morally responsible human beings are travelling on. If true believers, they have already escaped! Our Lord said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment." That is, God's judgment against him has been already executed upon a Substitute, the news of which great event * called The Gospel, or "good tidings": "He that believeth on Him is not judged" (John 3:18). The "second death," which is the "lake of fire," hath no power (Rev. 20:6: Gr. _exousia,--authority: R.V. margin) upon him who is thus pronounced "blessed and holy ... those who have part in the first resurrection"!
But if they are neglecters and despisers, there is terrible warning for them in this searching word, HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE? God's dealing with triflers--with those who neglect so great a salvation, will not be merely judicial, but personal! Those who "lay up wrath against the day of wrath" will discover, when the moment comes for the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, that they have fallen "into the hands of the Living God"--which is what we are told in Hebrews 10:31 is "a fearful thing"! He says, "I will recompense." In Malachi 1:4 we read of those against whom "Jehovah hath indignation forever."
Our Lord uses the same Greek word for "escape" in Luke 21:36: "Watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to ESCAPE all these things." Paul uses it in that searching question of Romans 2:3: "Reckonest thou this, O man ... who judgest them that practice such (evil) things, and doest the same, that thou shalt ESCAPE the judgment of God?" And again, in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, concerning the great and terrible Day of the Lord that is coming: "When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise ESCAPE."
The prospect is appalling! We are looking today upon a time like that which preceded the Flood, as our Lord said: "As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man (at His second coming to earth). They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all." Again, He likens it to the days of Lot: eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; "but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all: after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of Man is revealed" (Lk. 17:26-30). Unjudged lust and violence we see to be filling the earth. A properly separated Christian, one filled with the Spirit, fears the boasted "progress" of this age, abhors the bolder and bolder flaunting of naked abominations before the eyes, and knows from Scripture that all the nations of the earth (and America especially) are "polluted" by unjudged murder (Num. 35:33), by unnumbered adulteries, and by despising of the marriage vow (Jer. 3:1), that "putting away" which God hates. (See also Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:3-9.) (Of course the warning of Lk. 17:31 does not refer directly to the Church, which will be raptured away before "the end," the "Tribulation," in a moment, "in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 3:10).)
God over and over declares that He will visit this earth for its iniquity with terrible judgments. Read Isaiah 24, and remember that the seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath of Revelation 6 to 16 all precede the coming of the Great Day of Wrath of Revelation 19, when our Lord returns as King of kings to tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.
But let us mark that the flaming question in Hebrews 2:3 is not how shall they, the nations, escape, but how shall WE escape? Hebrews, like the rest of the epistles, is spoken not to the world, but to those who have professed faith in the Lord Jesus!
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?--Since Hebrews, we repeat, is addressed to professing Christian believers, "neglect," among many phases, would include:
- Ceasing to give the attention and earnestness to the things of God and of salvation that once we gave; a growing distaste for Bible reading; willingness to be absent from the assemblies of the saints of God (Heb. 10:25).
- Absorption in earthly, selfish interests.
- Increasing deadness of heart toward Christ, His sacrifice, and to the love of God, Who gave Him.
- Occupation with the affairs and news of this world, rather than of the world to come, and our coming Lord.
- Loss of God-consciousness.
- Putting away of the thought of a "judgment to come."
- Finally, living like the "beasts that perish," so far as eternity is concerned.
All these are phases of neglecting so great a salvation.
* Among causes of spiritual negligence, or neglect, we note:
- A shallow work at the beginning--conscience not awakened to the lost, guilty state; but only "feelings" stirred. Such persons are those "sown upon the rock"--no depth of soil. They hear with immediate joy: but in a true work of the Spirit, conviction of sin comes first--and "godly sorrow" (2 Cor. 7:10).
- Lack of chastening--of which all God's real children are made "Partakers" (Heb. 12:8; Ps. 94:12-13).
- Prosperity in this world: Ps. 73:3-9. "The prosperity (careless ease, R.V.) of fools shall destroy them" (Prov. 1:32).
- Inattention to Divine earnings: (Prov. 29:1; 1 Ki. 13:20-24). God says, "In the day of prosperity, be joyful: and in the day of adversity, consider, (Eccles. 7:14).
- Blindness to relative values and actual spiritual states, like Laodicea, in Rev. 3; following postponement of remembering whence we have fallen, and so of repentance (Rev. 2:5).
- Conformity to surrounding indifference--which is to "follow a multitude to do evil"--forbidden of God (Ex. 23:2). The world "lieth in the evil one" (like a babe in its mother's arms!) indifferent to coming judgment (Gen. 19:14).
- Keeping hold of some darling sin.
Which, having at the first been spoken through the Lord--That is, this "salvation" is regarded as having been spoken by the Lord Himself in the Four Gospels. His own words were, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost"; "The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many."
Was confirmed unto us by them that heard (HIM)--That is, by the twelve apostles, and by all who knew and believed the Lord Jesus.
God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers. So we have (1) the Lord Himself, (2) those that heard from His lips, (3) the direct "confirming" witness from God, from Pentecost on (Mk. 16:20): the "greater" works which Jesus said His disciples would do after He should go to the Father (John 14:12); the "many signs and wonders wrought among the people" by Stephen; the "signs which Philip did"; the catching away of Philip by "the Spirit of the Lord"; Peter's healing of Aeneas and raising Dorcas from the dead; the deliverance of Peter from prison; the healing of the cripple at Lystra by Paul; the "special miracles" at Ephesus; and the "signs and wonders" God wrought everywhere among both Gentiles and Jews where the gospel came!
* Signs (Gr., semeion): "Miracles and wonders by which God authenticated the men sent by Him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God's" (Thayer). Thus our Lord had the Divine seal placed upon His works: "This beginning of His signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciple's believed on Him" (John 2:11). Again, "This is again the second sign that Jesus did, 42 having come out of Judea into Galilee" (John 4:54). And, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31).
Wonders (Gr.: terasin), is found only in the plural and joined with signs. "A miracle regarded as a portent or prodigy awakening amazement" (Vincent).
Powers (Gr. dunamesin), the third word, means energy, or work of power. These three are seen together sometimes, as here in Heb. 2:4, in Acts 2:22, and in 2 Cor. 12:12. Speaking generally, signs indicate miraculous deeds authenticating the doer; wonders, such evident operations as indubitably indicate God's presence and working (see Acts 2:19); powers, the energy which is put forth in such deeds. Note that the Antichrist is said to use "all power and signs and lying wonders" (lit., "wonders of falsehood"--2 Thess. 2:9). Therefore two things should be considered: (1) whether signs, or wonders, or powers, they are beyond human power to exercise or to understand; (2) their character, whether of God or of Satan, must be determined by their correspondence to God's holy Word, and by their results.
And by gifts (lit., "distributions") of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will: This takes us to 1 Corinthians 12, where the "gifts" of the Spirit are set forth fully: "All these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally, even as He will" (vs. 11). Here we have the same two thoughts together, the Spirit "dividing" various gifts to individual believers, and doing this according to His will--the will of God. See also here verses 4-7. It will not do to confine this statement to the apostolic days; nor, for that matter, can any part of verse 4 be restricted to that period. For when there has been faith, throughout the Christian centuries, God has wrought signs and wonders and powers, the records of which, alas, are withheld if discovered, by a "respectable" Christianity!
* Read the account, in The Scots' Worthies, a book that no one of Christian judgment thinks of contravening, of how John Welch, son-in-law of John Knox, of Scotland, raised a young man from the dead in France; or again, in that remarkable series of books, now out of print, The Annals of the American Pulpit the account of William Tennant, raised from the dead; or the testimony of Dr. John L. Nevius, a godly Presbyterian missionary in China for over forty years, in his book Demon Possession and Allied Themes, of the Chinese casting out demons in wonderful simplicity of faith, never dreaming that there had been any cessation of this authority given by our Lord (Mark 16:17). See also the remarkable testimony of beloved Dr. A.J. Gordon, pastor of Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston, in The Ministry of Healing, concerning such names as Pastor Blumhardt, Dorothea Trudell, and others.
Returning now to the contrast of Christ with the angels (which Heb. 2:1-4, the first of the seven great warnings of Hebrews, interrupted), we read:
For not unto angels did He subject the world to come, whereof we speak: From the subject of the measureless height above angels occupied by our Lord, we pass here to God's plans concerning the millennial age that will follow this present age, wherein the Son of God will come forth to exercise on earth His Melchizedek priesthood. Not unto angels--First, let us consider that angelic control by which God orders matters behind the scenes in this present dispensation, as in the Old Testament. Angels are "mighty in strength, fulfilling His word, hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Ps. 103:20). Angels ministered unto Christ in His earthly life; at the tomb an angel descended from heaven, rolled away the stone; and angels sat "one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain." (This remarkable passage (Matt. 28:2-5) reads: "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was as lightning and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, Who hath been crucified.")
The "two men" spoken of in Acts 1:10-11, were perhaps angelic. An angel of the Lord opened prison doors for "the apostles" (Acts 5), for Paul (Acts 16), and for Peter (Acts 12, in which chapter two angels smite--one in mercy, and one in judgment). Although Satan is the prince of this world and god of this age, he can do nothing without Divine permission. God interferes in answer to the prayers of His saints by means of the angels; and thus is the present world subject to them. But it will not be so in the world to come, the millennial age.
The thought of the world to come pervades the book of Hebrews, and cannot here refer to present things! See Chapter 6:5, "the powers of the age (aion) to come"; also Chapter 10:1, "the Law, having a shadow of the coming good things." Thayer defines the world to come: "That consummate state of all things which will exist after Christ's return from Heaven." Andrew Murray's definition is: "That world to which the psalm (Ps. 8) looks forward, the Kingdom of the Messiah, the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth." Conybeare's comment is interesting: "The 'world to come' here corresponds with 'the city to come' of Chapter 13:14. The subjection of this to the Messiah (though not yet accomplished, see vs. 9) was another proof of His superiority to the angels."The apostle here in verse 5 is speaking, as he insists, (_laloumen, we are speaking) of the world (the "inhabited earth," see Chapter 1:6) when He, the Son Who created all things, shall return to this world with His enemies "the footstool of His feet." So the argument goes right on from Chapter 1:14 to Chapter 2:5 (as you see, vs. 5 begins with "For," connecting it with Ch. 1:14), having in view the subjecting of the habitable earth to the Son of man, and proceeding immediately to quote in proof of this, the wonderful Eighth Psalm. We shall, therefore, repeating verse 5, quote on through verse 8b; (but not the last sentence of verse 8, But now we see not yet--which refers to the state of things at present, contrasted with those when all things shall actually be subjected under the feet of the Son of Man, at His coming).
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Here the Spirit takes the Eighth Psalm, quoted also in Ephesians 1:22 and 1 Corinthians 15:27, and applies it to Christ. This Eighth Psalm is one of the great Messianic psalms. At the first reading we can see David at night, gazing at the heavens, and saying (Ps. 8:3-4):
"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"
David seems to be thinking of Adam the first, to whom indeed God gave dominion. But, "The first man is of the earth, earthy., the Second Man is of Heaven," as Paul tells us (1 Cor. 15:47). Adam being a type of Him Who was to come, as we read David's words in New Testament light, the first Adam disappears upon his failure; and the Second Man, the last Adam, is before, our eyes.
Thou madest Him for a little while lower than the angels. (But at His birth as such, the heavenly host filled the air not with shouts that He had been made lower than they, but with shouts of "Glory to God in the highest.") The angels referred to in verses 7 and 9 are of course "the holy angels," "the elect angels," whose ministry to human "heirs of salvation" is seen in Chapter 1:14. Now in what respects was our Lord made for a little while lower than the angels?
First, in becoming man, the Son of God entered fully into man's limitations. Jesus, "being wearied with His journey," sat by Jacob's well, in John 4. "He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion--" after a long day's preaching (Mk. 4:38, R.V.). He ate and drank to replenish strength, just as any man would do. Angels are not thus dependent. When man attains to that (coming) age, and "the resurrection from among the dead," he will be "equal unto the angels" (Lk. 20:35-36) in manner of being.
Our Lord's undergoing the suffering of death, and tasting death for every one, (vs. 9) is the second great element in His becoming for a little while lower than the angels. They are not subject to death. He, by the Father's will, and His own ready willingness, became so.
In the third place, perhaps we ought to mention our Lord's subjection to temptation, which is so emphasized in Hebrews. After His temptation, for example, as narrated in Matthew 4, we read, "Then the devil leaveth Him; and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him." "The elect angels" were not only preserved from the original apostasy with Lucifer, but evidently from temptation, in the sense that evil did not become attractive, in the least, unto them!
* The fact that Michael contended with the devil, as seen in Jude, does not imply that he was "tempted." There was no personal tempting approach to the archangel in any sense; but on his part, firm resistance and rejection of Satan's claim concerning the body of Moses.
Thou crownedst Him with glory and honor, And didst set Him over the works of Thy hands: Thou didst put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He subjected all things unto Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to Him.
Here God's purpose becomes manifest concerning our Lord's millennial position, the time unto which the Lord Himself looks--"expecting" (Ch. 10:13). Man is to be placed over everything. All things are to be put in subjection under the feet of Christ as Man. Of course we at once understand from the following verses that it is to Jesus--"very God and very Man," that all things are to be subject. But we are to find that others, whom He calls His "brethren," are to be associated with Him.Mark again the purposes of God. His eternal counsels were not connected with the first man, but were announced after that man's failure--in the words to the serpent, "He (the Seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head." The Seed, Christ, the Second Man, was to be connected with us, not by generation of man, but by Divine action in what we call the incarnation. (Words about the incarnation are always addressed to faith. Gabriel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; Wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God." Lk. 1:35) It is the same person Who in Hebrews 1 was seen as Son of God and Heir of all things, Who is seen in this second chapter as Man-just as truly Man now, as from all eternity He was God!
Having in mind, then, that future subjection of all things to the Second Man, we see already the present state of things, in the words, But now we see not yet all things subjected to Him (vs. 8c). They will be subject, but are not yet. The Millennium's opening scene is future: see Revelation 20:1-3. Satan is today "the prince of this world"--still unbound. "The whole world lieth in the evil one" is yet true (1 John 5:19).
Thou crownedst Him with glory and honor, And didst set Him over the works of Thy hands: Thou didst put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He subjected all things unto Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to Him.
But praise God for these great words in Hebrews 2:9: But we see Jesus, the One Who for a little lower than the angels was made, for the suffering of death, with glory and honor crowned. to the end that by the Grace of God He might taste of death for every one. (By the Grace of God taste of death for everyone. It cannot be rendered "everything"--as this word grace would have no meaning thus! "Grace" is not for "things," but for people, for unworthy sinners!) The eyes of believers immediately go to Him upon Whom they have believed; and lo, we behold Him ... crowned with glory and honor, at God's right hand!Now it will be supremely necessary for us to remember, as the following verses open to us, that we are one with Him. It is not possible unto reason, but only unto faith, to conceive that such unworthy ones, such weak ones as we, should be elevated above the mighty, holy angels! (It is well to remember here, and it will help to humble us, that the Greek word aggeloi, translated "angels," literally means messengers. Rotherham's translation effectively renders it "messengers" constantly. We have the verb aggelo, meaning to announce; and from this comes aggelos, a messenger, plural aggeloi, translated, or transliterated, "angels," occurring some 75 times in the N.T. Once there is aggelia (I John 1:5) meaning "message.")
We are ready to consent that our blessed Lord, sinless in life and victorious over death, should take, His place "far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come." It is a constant and subtle temptation to allow freely that the Lord Himself has passed "far above all the heavens," but with false humility to say: "That is not for me. Angels are glorious heavenly beings, and I am a poor, earthly sinner." For in the very passage just quoted (Eph. 1:21-23) we read that God gave Christ "to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all," that is, the filling up of Christ Himself! As we read in 1 Corinthians 12:12: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ." To reject this is not humility, but unbelief, or unwillingness to let go earthly things and admit our position by God's sovereign grace, as one with Christ, seated in the heavenlies with Him. We are about to read in Hebrews 2:11 that Christ and those in Him are "all of one." Blessed indeed is the man who has seen an end of his old place in Adam, at Calvary, where "our old man was crucified with Him," Christ having been "made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21)! Christ on the Cross died unto sin, thus breaking the relationship between Himself and sin, forever. For we read, "The life that He liveth, He liveth unto God." And we are likewise to reckon ourselves dead, being in Christ as the last Adam, and His death to sin becoming thus federally ours. (We must revert often to these preceding revelations, for the fact of them is taken for granted in the book of Hebrews.)
So note that in Chapter 2:5-8 we have Christ as Man set over the works of God's hands--angels, principalities, powers, all things. We do not speak thus to create a false elation or sense of self-importance in any human breast. But, in this great book of Hebrews which reveals Christ as our Great High Priest on high, we have this destiny of Christ as Man placed over all things, at the very outset; and, second, our oneness with this Man, even Jesus! We are not yet glorified; Christ is glorified--is crowned with glory and honor (cf. Phil. 2:9-11). He Himself, therefore, is the object of our "beholding." But it is as connected with Him, that we see Him. All our interests have passed from earth. This is necessarily true, for we read that it is because of the suffering of death--that He has tasted of death for us, that the eyes of our hearts turn to Him, crowned in the Father's delight because He became obedient to death, yea, the death of the Cross.
That by the grace of God He should taste of death for every one: What words are these! What a compass in this verse! First, Jesus made for a little while lower than the angels. Then the suffering of death; then, because of that, at present crowned with glory and honor at God's right hand. Then the sweet word of explanation of His death: that by the grace of God He should taste of death for every one. "Grace," the source of all blessing, but how feebly grasped by us! Let faith lay fast hold here! Just as on a passenger train there are steps and handles to enter into the cars, so do there come along such verses as these, for faith to step upon and hold fast to, and climb up on the train for glory! Make verses like this, O believer, personal possessions! If Christ did taste of death for every one, if God's grace extended to that, it means you, and it means me. Only believe!
* The genitive of pas (pantos), "every," is here used. But the word may be either masculine or neuter. Some insist that the expression "every one" should be every thing; but we object that the translation "every thing" looks toward Universalism. Furthermore, the following vs. (2:10) explains the expression as referring to Christ's bringing many to glory, and His being made perfect through sufferings as the Captain of their salvation. Nor does Col. 1:20 "reconcile all things," a passage sufficient in itself, change the translation of Heb. 2:9 (pantos): "every one."
So that we have in vs. 9, for every one; vs. 10, many sons; vs. 11, they that are sanctified called "brethren"; vs. 12, both "brethren" and congregation (or Assembly); vs. 13, I and the children God hath given me; vs. 14, the children sharers in blood and flesh and Himself in like manner partaking of the same; vs. 15, all them who through fear of death were subject to bondage, delivered; vs. 16, the seed of Abraham (see Gal. 3:29); vs. 17, again "His brethren"; and then, "a merciful and faithful High Priest ... to make propitiation for the sins of the people."
For it became Him for Whom all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth (Christ) and they that are sanctified (the saints) are all of one: This verse tells both how God's grace has extended to us; and what it became this God to do, in bringing many sons unto glory, into His very presence Who dwelleth in light unapproachable!
* He was to bring them to glory. Therefore, He must go where they were, and (a) become one with them as to their guilt, which He must bear; and (b) become sin on their behalf. So bringing many sons unto glory would involve sufferings--the most terrible of all, to be forsaken of God--made a curse for us! Nothing else could "become" God as regarded our sin and our sinful state.
- It became His being, as God. It was into God's presence we were to be brought.
- It became His Holiness: with an infinite abhorrence He hated sin.
- It became His righteousness: He must deal righteously in bringing sons to glory.
- It became the God Whose name is LOVE to do this amazing thing--bring to glory many sons. Only a God of Love would want us there.
- It became His Wisdom, "of Whom are all things and for Whom are all things." He sees the eternities and has planned for them as it "became" Him.
- It became His Lordship over all things. Knowing all things about all creatures, He could place them all where He would. And He chose to place first those redeemed by Christ!
- It became Him because Christ's obedience unto death revealed God for all ages. He is worthy to be obeyed, said His Son, even unto forsaking, anguish, and death!
Finally, God infinitely loved His Son, the "Captain" of these "sons." And thus it "became" Him to plan for that Son a path of sufferings untold and unutterable, in walking in which day by day that Son's fidelity to God His Father became manifest to all eternity. The wounds that now are in Jesus' hands and feet and side will declare, to the ages of the ages that it is good to obey God, at all cost. And God will forever remember the Son's sufferings, as if they were of yesterday.
Thus, it became God to make the Leader of our salvation perfect through sufferings.
And remember, if we suffer with Him, it is because we are redeemed by His sufferings and sacrifice. Satan hates redeemed ones, those trusting Christ's one offering. So he makes them suffer, whether by temptation to doubt Christ's sacrifice; or by calling attention to their weak faith, or inconsistent experience. But Christ's accepted work (accepted of God!) and not our grasp of it, is the question! We know that God has accepted Christ's sacrifice, because He raised Him from the dead!
Oh, how different is what "became" God here from what becomes us! It becomes us to protect our sons. It "became" God to hand over His only well-beloved Son to sufferings; to be "driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted," until Satan had "completed every temptation"; to have not "where to lay His head"; to choose disciples who would all forsake Him; betray Him; one deny knowing Him! To be forsaken by the untold thousands He had blessed and healed; yea, to be forsaken of God!
When at last He said, "It is finished," and, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," it was over! He had been "perfected through suffering." He had "learned obedience through the things that He suffered" (Heb. 5:8-9); and having been made perfect, He became unto all them that obey Him the cause of eternal Salvation--named of God a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek."
Here we go back to what we might call the first causes: what became the counsels of God, both in sending Christ, and in His dealings with Christ upon earth. What it was "becoming," fitting, for the infinitely holy God to do--ah, what a subject for our poor human grasp! It is God Who is before us, for Whom all things exist. Whatever the works or the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must refer their cause to that which was "becoming to God." It is not the arbitrary will of God that is here in view, but that which was "becoming" to God Himself-to His being.
Would it have become God, the holy One, even to admit to His presence sinners of the human race who had been merely "influenced" (as some would teach) by the "perfect example" of the "beautiful life" of Jesus?
Would it have been becoming to the government of God to admit to His presence enemies who had infracted all the righteous edicts of His throne, and with no penalty imposed for that disobedience?
Would it have been becoming to the throne of infinite Majesty and glory to have about that throne--all unatoned for--those who had been in closest sympathy with God's arch-enemy, Satan?
This important tenth verse in Chapter 2 is the second great general word concerning God in Hebrews. The first is, "God has spoken to us in (the Person of His) Son" (1:2). And this second word is that the Son, having partaken of blood and flesh, become man, yea God's Lamb, it became God ... to make Him perfect through sufferings. "It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead" (Acts 17:1-3). We insist that the very foundation of the Gospel appears in this word, it became God! It became Him to judge sin; it became Him to give His own Son to bear sin; it became Him to lay before that Son a path of obedience involving suffering--even unto death.
While we now "behold ... Jesus ... crowned with glory and honor," let us not only see His present place as God's reward to Him for His path of obedience; but also regard His path of sufferings thereto, as the only path which could become a holy God!
The Captain of their Salvation--This "Captain" (Gr.: Archegos; cf. Ch. 12:2 and comment there) is Christ. Thus the first view we have here of Christ, connected with these "sons being brought to glory," is as the File-Leader of the company.
* Archegos: "(1) Chief, Leader, Prince: of Christ (Acts 5:31); (2) One that takes the lead in anything, and thus affords an example: of Christ, Heb. 2:10, 12:2."--Thayer. "A word difficult, not to understand, but to render in English. It is a leader, but it is more, It is used for one who begins, and sets a matter on: originator."--Darby.
Archegos is a combination of two Greek words meaning to begin and to lead. It occurs, four times in the N.T.: Acts 3:15, 5:31; and twice in Hebrews, Chs. 2:10 and 12:2. As used here in Ch. 2:10, it does not refer to our Lord as a Sin-Offering, but as this Captain or File-Leader of those that are to be saved, whom He calls His "brethren" (2:11-12), and "the children (of God) whom God hath given" Him (vs. 13); and as the Deliverer through death of those children, having brought to nought at the Cross the devil, who had the power of death, setting free from fear-of-death-bondage, all those over whom the devil tyrannized. Christ as the _Archegos, therefore, is the Leader, the Deliverer, among His brethren, becoming Himself "perfected through sufferings." Bloomfield interprets _Archegos by _aitios in Heb. 5:9: "the Cause of eternal salvation." There is reason for this as the word "Prince" (Acts 3:15 5:31) would indicate place, position, rather than source, supply.
It is as if God were saying, "Hebrew believers, do not stumble, as most of your nation are doing, at a suffering Messiah. (Alford calls attention to Bleek's excellent remarks "on the lingering of the offense of the cross among these Jewish Christians, who, although their ideas of the glory and kingly triumph of the Messiah had been in a measure satisfied by the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, and their hopes awakened by the promise of future glory at His second coming,--yet, in the procrastination of this great event, felt their souls languishing, and the old stumbling-block of Christ's sufferings recurring to their minds. To set forth then the way of suffering and the cross as one worthy of God's high purpose, would be a natural course for the argument of the writer to take.") Your lot is now far above that of mere Hebrews. You partake of a heavenly calling! You are journeying to Heaven, home to God, Who is bringing you as sons unto glory. Do you not see from all Scripture that the Blessed One Who should become the Captain of sons going forth from earth to Heaven, must have suffered, yea, have been made perfect through sufferings? It becomes Me that the Captain of their salvation has so yielded to all My will as to have suffered all things."
They were to be "sons," and were to be brought "unto glory." Who was to bring them, and how? One must go where they, were, have their guilt charged to Him, bear the wrath due to them. Our Lord's course from Bethlehem to Calvary is looked at in the words: made perfect through sufferings. Yes, such a journey from the glory that He had with the Father, down to earth and back to that glory, would involve on the part of that great Captain of their salvation "emptying Himself," taking the "form of a servant," becoming in the "likeness of men," humbling Himself "unto death, yea, the death of the Cross"!
But think Who He was! "Is not this the carpenter?" the people of Nazareth asked. Yes, but He was the Creator also. And He was in a path that would shortly make Him "an alien to His mother's children," "despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," in all these sufferings, learning obedience (5:8).
* Note this word learn. Being God, He had not to obey, but participated in the counsels of the Trinity from all eternity. Even when He came to earth, "He emptied Himself--it was not compulsion. But, He having become man, the Father was now His God: and He "learned obedience." Our Lord was morally and spiritually perfect at all times and in all ways; He was God! But through sufferings he "learned obedience." And, since the sufferings were infinite, the perfection is glorious and eternal! (We shall see more of this in Chs. 5:7-9; 7:28. Compare also Lk. 13:32.)
For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: * Note that the word "For" introducing vs. 11 argues from vs. 10 the reason why the Captain of the "many sons being brought to glory" was made perfect through sufferings. We find that Christ that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are ALL OF ONE. Now as we have indicated, the oneness, the unity of Christ and believers, is well known from other passages. But the form of the expression here "all of one" is unique. It speaks of kind or quality of being, rather than mere unity.
But our blessed Lord's becoming "all of one" in quality of being with those whom the Father had given Him, did not at all mean that He shared Adam's nature, or became united with the sinful human race. He did not become a son of Adam. But the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, "came upon" His virgin mother, and the power of the Most High kept "overshadowing" her. Christ, therefore, took part in "blood and flesh" life directly from God,--all sinless, entirely separate from the Adamic race.
For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one:--Look at once at the words "sanctifieth" and "sanctified." He that sanctifieth evidently is Christ; they that are sanctified are the sons (of God) being "brought unto glory." This is a use of the word "sanctify" common in the book of Hebrews. And this passage, it seems to me, allies itself most intimately with the great high-priestly prayer of John 17, where our Lord prayed: "Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth ... And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth." This verse removes at once all thoughts of sanctification in the sense of removal of defilement, for Christ had none. Yet He says, "I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth."
In this very prayer our Lord is devoting Himself to that identification with His own, which would be consummated the next day on the Cross! He set Himself apart unto that death, in order that His disciples might share His risen life. For He testified, "Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone." The oneness of believers with Christ described here is not that of being members of the Body of Christ, but it is a deeper truth still, or rather, preliminary to the forming of the Body of Christ, implying union with Himself. In John 17:16, again, He said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"--and verse 21, "that they may all be one, even Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us."
So in Hebrews 2:11 the great announcement is made that Christ and they that are sanctified are all of one! They share His life Who died and rose! For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Its being connected with His sufferings makes this verse one of the most wonderful of many Scriptures concerning the identification of believers with their Lord. They are so much of one with Him that He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Amazing, overwhelming fact! Let faith lay hold of Him and rejoice in Him.
* There is what we can but feel to be a carnal, Presumptuous name given to the Son of God in the mouths of some: "Our Elder Brother." We have never heard one speak thus who understood our identification with Him in death and resurrection, as taught in Rom. 6, 7; Col. 3, and elsewhere. To call Christ your "Elder Brother" is to reduce Him to Your human, Adamic standing, rather than seeing yourself condemned in Adam, and Christ dying for your guilt, and you, as connected with Adam, identified with that death. If you object that Christ called us "brethren"; why may we not call Him "Brother"? I answer, Find a hint that any of the holy apostles addressed Him thus. If He calls us brethren, it is because He became identified with us poor, wretched, lost creatures by infinite Divine grace; and, now He leads the worship of His saints as "The Firstborn Of Many brethren," indeed: but in heavenly worship. You may say, "Lord Jesus," but no believer finds himself saying, "Brother Jesus." Yet when we turn to God and Heaven, and join the praise and worship (which we should be doing--Heb. 13:13), we know it is true that He calls us "brethren." Let Him speak thus in limitless grace: for God has made us all of one with Him! But we will call Him Lord, for (a) He is eternally God the Son; (b) He is the "Second Man"--the "Last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:47, 45); (c) but He is called "the Man from Heaven," and those in Him are eternally heavenly!
saying: I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the congregation (lit., "assembly"; Gr. ecclesia) will I sing Thy praise!
To all who know the 22nd Psalm, from which this passage is brought to us by the Spirit, these words are captivating to the heart. For the 22nd Psalm has two parts: verses 1-21, and verses 22-31. The quotation here begins with the second part, at, verse 22; but the psalm begins:
"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?
Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?
... I cry in the daytime (the first three hours of the crucifixion day (Mark 15:25): 9 to 12 o'clock) but Thou answerest not:
And in the night season (the second three hours, when the absolute darkness of Divine forsaking fell upon Him (Mark 15:33)) and am not silent.
But Thou art holy.
... Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death ...
A company of evil-doers have enclosed Me;
They pierced My hands and My feet ...
They part My garments among them,
And upon My vesture do they cast lots
Save Me from the lion's mouth!
"Yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen Thou hast answered Me!"
Thus was He cut off, suffering from the hand of God the judgment of our sin; but delivered "from the lion's mouth." Our Lord as He died committed His spirit to the Father (Lk. 23:46), Who received it to the disappointed hate of Satan and the hosts of hell, "the wild-oxen."
Thus ends the first half of this blessed psalm. The second half, immediately following, is our Risen Lord in resurrection-life, speaking:
I will declare Thy name unto My brethren:
In the midst of the Assembly will I praise Thee.
Now we know, from John 20, the message the risen Lord sent by Mary Magdalene to the disciples: "But go unto My brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." Astonishing words, "Brethren"! "My Father and your Father"! "My God and your God"!
Note then the two parts of this great verse, Hebrews 2:12; first, He will declare God's Name unto His brethren: then, second, In the midst of the Assembly will He praise God! We constantly find our Lord among His disciples speaking of His Father, even saying to them, "When ye pray, say, Our Father." We find them at the last supper asking, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." But when the Holy Ghost came, they knew!
Now the last Part of verse 12: In the midst of the Assembly will I praise Thee! This brings us to the revelation of our Lord's ETERNAL PRIESTLY WORK! The first priestly work is prayer for us (Lk. 22:32; John 17); the second is, that He bore our sins on the Cross; the third is, that He will get us home through this God-hating world, making "intercession for us," "compassed about" as we are with "infirmity"--He will get us home where He is! Upon this element of His priesthood most of our thoughts, naturally, indeed, are centered. Sad to say, we fall even below this! In our failure or sin we think of our Lord only as our Advocate--which is indeed connected with priesthood, thank God! But as to thinking of Him as Priest in the fourth phase, as eternally revealing God's name to us as His "brethren"; and as Himself singing eternally the praises of God among the saints, "in the midst of the Assembly"--many Christians have not even considered it!
Yet He says, In the midst of the congregation (of all His redeemed ones) will I sing Thy praise: Let us meditate upon this word. The question instantly comes, When and for how long will this praising be? Some have thought it will cease when all the redeemed are brought to glory. With this we cannot for an instant agree. Will Christ ever cease to lead the praise of His blood-bought saints? Will He ever cease to be the Lamb "that hath been slain"? It is the glorified saints whom Christ is leading in praise, and will lead forever! In our poor weak assembling here below, we thrill and rejoice at any consciousness of His presence, and of access to God through Him. Is His priesthood only to last until He gets us all to Heaven? Nay, it will be fully active then! Remember, God is infinite, infinite, infinite! (How lame is language!) Shall we ever come to know Him so fully that there will be no further need of our Great High Priest's "declaring God's Name" more deeply and fully unto us? Is not the Lamp of that city to which we are going the Lamb Himself? "In the ages to come" God will indeed "show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us," but it will still be "in Christ Jesus"! (Eph. 2:7).
This glorious phase of Christ's priesthood, His leading the everlasting singing, has only begun. Thank God, it will never cease!
"O Home of God My Father's joy and gladness,
O riven Veil whereby I enter in!
There can my soul forget the grave, the weeping,
The weariness and sin.
O chamber, all thine agate windows open
To face the radiant east—
O holy temple, where the saints are singing,
Where Jesus is the Priest—
Illumined with the everlasting glory,
Still with the peace of God's eternal now,
Thou, God, my Rest, my Refuge, and my Tower—
My home art Thou." (T.S.M., in Ter Steegen).
No, to affirm that the priesthood of Christ as leading His redeemed in their worship and praises will have an end when the saints see God's face, is to forget the Lamb Who is eternally there, as "The Lamb that hath been slain," leading those He has bought, in worship!
"And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof . And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb" (Rev. 21:22-23).
It is the consciousness that will pervade the New Jerusalem forever: God so loved us that He gave His Son! Christ so loved us that He bought us with His own blood! We are here in this place of ineffable bliss, enjoying forever the unhindered outflow of the infinite love of God, because the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us! We are forever here in Him! Our God, Who is love, has fully and eternally expressed that love in the infinite sacrifice of His Son, in Whom we are. And Christ leads our praises forever!
Now comes a further citation from Scripture: And again, I will put My trust in Him: These words occur in the remarkable passage in Isaiah (8:16-17) where, after the nation has stumbled (vs. 15), the testimony, the teaching, is "bound up, sealed," among Christs disciples. The word is: "Bind thou up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples (which God had done when He took it from the Jewish nation as a whole and committed to our Lord's "disciples." See the four Gospels.). And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him" (put My trust in Him, Septuagint translation). This is the whole spirit of our Lord in the prophetic word. It is His spirit especially in the Psalms and most especially in Psalm 16, when, in dying, Christ says,"Thou wilt not leave My soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou suffer Thy holy One to see corruption: Thou wilt show Me the path of life."
The very words I will put My trust in Him, His enemies taunted Him with, on the Cross: "He trusted on God."
I will put My trust in Him--What a word, for One Who is Himself God, to say! It reminds us of 2 Corinthians 13:4: "He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth through the power of God." For the Son, as Man, walked in the path of faith, looking, in weakness, wholly to Another for all things--just as "His brethren," the saints, now do, or should do, toward Him (Gal. 2:20). I will put My trust in Him was His blessed attitude. Let it be ours!
And then a citation from the next verse of Isaiah 8:And again, Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given Me: Primarily these "children" were Isaiah's two sons which were to be "for signs and for wonders": Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz. (Their names, given by God (Isa. 7:3; 8:1) sum up Isaiah's prophecy concerning Israel: Shear-jashub, "A remnant shall return"; Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "The spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth"--the judgment that was coming on the nation prior to the final restoration of the Remnant. So these children were "for signs and for wonders"--if Israel could perceive them!) But God uses them here to represent those "brethren," those "sons of God being brought to glory," of whom the preceding verses in Hebrews 2 speak.
This first mention in Hebrews of Christ's death looking toward His priesthood, shows it as compassing two great things: (a) the complete overthrow of the one having the power of death, that is, the devil: the "prince of this world" and "god of this age"; (b) Christ's taking hold, according to Divine purpose and promise, not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham, who is named of God "the father of all them that believe." (Thus Christ is Priest-not of the human race, but of "them that are of faith" (Gal. 3:7; Rom. 4:11).)
Since then the children are sharers in blood and flesh. * The words "since then," which begin vs. 14, open out to us one side of the meaning of the words, "all of one." For we read: Since then the children (the "sons He is bringing unto glory") are sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same. The nature He takes is absolutely human, though unconnected with Adam the First. For, as we have noted, He was the "Seed of the woman," and that by God's direct power! Let this humanity of our blessed Lord captivate us wholly. We can enter no possible human condition or circumstance with which He is not immediately and perfectly familiar!
Then, second, our resurrection-oneness with Christ, the teaching of which permeates Paul's epistles, is included in these words "all-of-one"! "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God ... For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1, 3). This marvelous oneness is asserted over and over, though never explained: for how can such a marvel be addressed to anything but to simple faith?
So then both in the fact that He is a man "partaker of blood and flesh in like manner" with us; and also that He died, and we died with Him; He was raised, and we were raised with Him, the great words, "ALL OF ONE" are ours.
Out of the two facts comes the revelation of the mystery of the Body of Christ: first, our Lord's actual humanity; and second, our sharing His Risen life.
His taking part in blood and flesh and that in like manner with us, did not enable Him to greet us as "brethren"; but when He was raised from the dead, "The last Adam became a life-giving spirit"! (1 Cor. 15:45). Then He could and did, greet them as "brethren" (but not before resurrection). Believers have "died with Christ," and are no longer in that first Adam in which they were born. What a salvation!
The "children" here are the children of God, given to Christ (vs. 10; see john 17:9-10). But we must examine closely what is said. There is no loose statement in Scripture. Therefore sharers in blood and flesh (the Greek order) should be translated exactly that way. For God said, "As to the life of all flesh, the blood thereof is all one with the life thereof" (Lev. 17:14). Marvel of marvels, of both Divine mercy and Divine wisdom! Our Lord was to be the "Seed of the woman" that should "bruise the serpent's head." The Seed of the woman, whom Satan first deceived and who led her husband into sin!--ah, how God's grace triumphs! Christ was given as "her Seed"--to bruise Satan's head! Here the preparation for that "bruising" (by means of death upon the Cross) is shown us. The first step of infinite condescension is, He took part in blood and flesh. God did not give our Lord, as He did Adam, a body complete, full-grown. In the miracle of His infinite mercy, the Holy Ghost came upon Mary and Christ's word was fulfilled (Ps. 40:6; Heb. 10:5), "A body Thou hast prepared for Me." This was uttered through David over a thousand years before Christ's day by the Spirit of God: "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10). God willed to "prepare a body" for His Son after the same manner as that in which our bodies are prepared, except that God by the Holy Spirit, and not a human father, communicated the life to the ovum in the womb of the virgin. Thus our Lord partook of blood and flesh ... in like manner as we: how marvelous!
* This first step of infinite condescension, He took part in blood and flesh, mystifies those who do not know their lost state, their guilt, their helplessness. The second step of equally gracious condescension is, He laid down this blood-and-flesh life: "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree." For, "without shedding of blood there is no remission." In dying, He poured out His blood, and left behind the blood-and-flesh sphere. But, "God raised Him up"--yet not back into "blood and flesh" existence. He had "flesh and bones," indeed, (Lk. 24:39). But He was raised to "newness of life" "by the glory of the Father." Only living faith follows Him there!--faith given by God, and by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 14: ... that through death He might bring to nought (Gr.: katargeo) him that had the power of death,...
* Two words must be looked at here: kratos--which means might; and exousia, which includes the right to use might or power.
* Darkness is essentially the result of sin--connected therewith constantly by God (Gen. 1:2; 1 Sam. 2:9; Prov. 4:19; 20:20; Jer. 13:16; Matt. 8:12; 2 Peter 2:4, 17--contrast here 1 Peter 2:9). Darkness has a right (exousia), therefore, over sinners: so that in Col. 1:12-13, the saints are seen to be by the Father "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light, having been delivered out of the power (exousia, right) of darkness, and translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love."
* NOW Satan had no right but he did seize the Power (kratos) of death--a third of the heavenly beings--"stars of Heaven" the dragon is seen to drag down With him (Rev. 12:3-4). And after Adam sinned Satan seized the might (kratos) of death, and he became the acknowledged Prince--yea and the god of those sinners over whom darkness now had the right (exousia).
* The fact that Satan is to be bound in Hades the thousand years of the Millennium shows that he had no right (exousia) over the human race. For though the race is not converted during the Millennium but rushes back to Satan's banner the moment he is "released for a little season," at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:7-10), it is evident that living in sin, darkness having the right over them, they are helpless and willing slaves of Satan, the arch-leader of sin's hosts--as in Heaven, so on earth!
* Now Satan having seized might (kratos) over the human race concerning whom darkness has right--it is most fitting indeed that in Hebrews the very first recorded result of our blessed Lord's death is, that that death brought to nought him that was exercising on earth the might (kratos) of death!
* For in Hebrews believers are constantly exhorted to hold fast their "confidence," their "boldness," toward God. Yea, to "draw near, by the blood of Jesus," to come, (by the Spirit, certainly) where their Great Priest, their "Forerunner" has gone--through the veil, a new and living way which He dedicated for us (Heb. 10:19, ff). Believers are to become worshipers, in Hebrews, and to press on to full growth.
* So Satan's utter overthrow is the first result of Christ's death shown in Hebrews! For the saints are to do business in Heaven--not here--here Satan reigns!
Verses 14, 15: ... that through death He might bring to nought (Gr.: katargeo) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Several questions confront us here. First, How, or on what ground, did the devil have the power of death? and what means this expression? Second, How did our Lord through His death nullify, remove, put-out-of-business, bring to nought the devil? (These are some of the meanings of the word katargeo.) Third, What is the "bondage" to which the fear of death subjects people, and how does Christ deliver them?
* Might of death: Gr., Kratos, "might"; consistently translated thus of God's might: Eph. 1:19, Col. 1:11; and of Christ's might in Eph, 6:10. Note the same word in the doxologies of 1 Tim. 6:16, 1 Peter 4:11, 5:11; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6, 5:13.
Questions I and III: First, it is to be remembered that the devil was not an angel, but the "anointed cherub that covered" (God's throne, evidently), of the highest order of beings in Heaven. He "walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezek. 28:14). He was regarded by Michael, the archangel as a "dignity" compared to himself! (Jude 8, 9). Upon his sin (as revealed to us in Ezek. 28 under the type of the king of Tyre), he was ejected from Heaven: "I have cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God" (Ezek. 28:16). Our Lord described this ejecting of Satan in the words: "I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from Heaven" (Lk. 10:18). He became the deceiver who would displace God, and, inasmuch as the first Adam was to be tested, was permitted to visit the earthly Eden.
* Being himself a creature, Satan had no right over other creatures, our first parents, or the race. We see that in Rev. 12:9b, when he is finally ejected from Heaven and is cast down to earth, one third of the angels fall with him. it is instructive to mark his two names and the three great characters in which he is shown, in Rev. 12:9: As the "great dragon," he is contrasted with his former estate: when God said to him, "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and Perfect in beauty" (Ezek. 28:12). As "the old serpent" he is seen using his marvelous wisdom to destroy. As "the devil" (diabolos, lit., the underflinger, slanderer), he is the accuser. As Satan, he is the direct enemy or adversary of God and His People. (See 1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1 and 2.) And lastly, he is the deceiver of the whole habitable earth: he deceives as to man's conceits of his own righteousness; of his creature ability (for man has none); as to all dreams of human greatness and progress without God; and especially in his "blinding the minds of the unbelieving" as to their doom (2 Cor. 4:4).
His chief role, so far as the saints of God are concerned, is that of the accuser of the saints before God. If the angels, who are below the cherubim, are called "mighty," how much greater was the "might" of this anointed one of the cherubim when, his heart "lifted up in pride," and having sinned, he turned against God in that terrible endless pride which his fall brought in! That "might," all of it, he now turns against God and His creatures; and God permits him to use this fearful might against those who have chosen sin and darkness.
He did not have a right (Gr. exousia, authority), we repeat, over unfallen Adam. He secured that right (exousia) over fallen man, who had now turned against God. And he uses might (kratos) after man's fall. This "might" or "power" of death, then, of the devil, is a Divinely permitted exercise of power. (No creature has independent Power--even to obey God! God's holy angels, indeed, are called "the elect angels"--God having in inscrutable sovereignty protected their state of obedience.) A slave of sin himself, like Spartacus, the Roman slave, he became the leader of slaves, which now included the human race. For of sin, our Lord Jesus said, "Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant (Gr., doulos) of sin"; as again Paul, "Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his bondservants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16).
Therefore Satan's hold upon man, however unjust, could be broken only by removing that sin which held man as a slave in "bondage." Let us give all our soul's attention then, to the judgment on the Cross.
With the righteous judgment of sin, and the bearing of it, at the Cross, Satan had nothing to do. The transaction was altogether between God as the judge, and Christ, the Lamb of God, (1) bearing our sins, which were transferred to Him; and (2) made to be sin on our behalf, "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
As regards Satan, our blessed Lord said, "Now is the judgment of this world ("judgment" referring to His own death): now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth (at Calvary) will draw all men unto Myself" (the future kingdom triumph). There is coming a judgment day at the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11-15. The preceding verse (20:10) sees the devil cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. He has no part in this Great White Throne judgment.
Nor has he any part in the judgment day of Calvary! There God, the first Person of the Trinity, laid on Christ, Whom He names as Son, God, Lord, in Hebrews 1, our actual sins, as it is written: "Jehovah hath made to light (Heb., R.V. margin) on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6); and, "Who His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24).
But sins, having been transferred to Him, must be judged according to the holy being of God, as really as the sins of the wicked will be judged at the last judgment day of Revelation 20. Therefore Christ on the Cross was forsaken of God. Oh, behold this! Thank God, He, as innocent, still had His faith, for He cried, "My God!" But the forsaking was real and absolute, for there was no relieving answer to His cry: "Jesus therefore ... said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He bore our sins in His body, not His spirit, and His spirit was free--innocent!
This yielding up His spirit was evidently after or upon His death in the flesh, as a comparison of the four Gospels will reveal: for note: (a) "the ninth hour" had come; (b) "the veil of the temple was rent in the midst," signifying that the article of death was past for Christ. Those words, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," are not said while He is under the curse for sin. For John 19:30 reads, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit," while Luke adds, "Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said this, He gave up the ghost." The spirit of the Lord Jesus was of course infinitely innocent, for He was the Son of God, though He had just borne our fearful judgment!
The judgment, then, of sins on Calvary was as absolute as the judgment of the Great White Throne will be; because it is God Who laid our sins upon Christ. It is God Who forsook Him, our Substitute, instead of us. It is God Who declares, "Our old man Was crucified with Him"--that He was, we repeat, "made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Marvelous--but written! The result of this judgment was, of course, overwhelming disaster for Satan and his hosts, as announced in Hebrews 2:14: He also Himself in like manner partook of blood and flesh, that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Question II: By what means and manner did Christ bring to nought ... the devil, who, wrongly indeed, but actually, was exercising the might of death, and making all subject to bondage through fear of death?
Let us first notice several things by which our Lord Jesus Christ did not bring Satan to nought and deliver men. It was not by the spiritual beauty and moral excellence, infinite as that was, of our Lord's life on earth, that He brought Satan to nought. Modernist preachers, befooled by the very devil whose existence they deny or ignore, would preach the "beautiful life of Jesus," to be "imitated": would preach the "standards, the ethics of Jesus," even the "unselfishness of Jesus," saying that these are all men need! If men will consider the question, "What would Jesus do?" and do it, they say, "everything will be all right." Poor dupes, poor slaves, yea, beguiled slaves beguiling other slaves to their doom!
Our Lord did not annul or bring to nought the devil, in the wilderness, by refusing to yield to his temptations. Certainly our Lord by His wilderness victory "bound the strong man," and then went about "spoiling his house," "casting out demons," "healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38). But after the wilderness temptation we read: "When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from Him until a season" (Lk. 4:13)--literally, "until a fitting opportunity." Satan, far from being "brought to nought" then, even wrought through the Lord's own, as in Peter, when the Lord rebuked him (in Matt. 16:23) with "Get thee behind Me, Satan!" and on until, as we have noted, Jesus came forth from the Garden and said to the priests and soldiers led by Judas, "This is your hour, and the power (authority, exousia) of darkness."
No, not by His life, not by His example, not by His teachings, not by His miracles, did Christ bring the devil to nought. But, as the Word says, He partook ... of blood and flesh, that THROUGH DEATH He might bring to nought him that had the might of death, that is, the devil.
* An example of Satan's having the might of death, and not the right or authority, is seen in the case of job. Only when God permitted was Satan able to work: "And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold he is in thy hand; only spare his life." (Compare 2 Sam. 24:1, and 1 Chron. 21:1. Here we see God's permissive use of Satan, as in Job's case--job 1 and 2.) Again, "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). He has the devouring might, but only when permitted--thank God! The tense of the verb in Heb, 2:14 is in the past: "had the might of death." Believers are not under this might or power! But as to those out of Christ, "The whole world lieth in the evil one."
This glorious truth, that through death Christ brought to nought the devil, is emphasized throughout Paul's epistles. In Romans we see Christ having become a propitiation "through faith in His blood" (3:25), bearing our sin, putting its guilt away; and we read, "We died to sin" (6:2); "Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin" (6:6); "For he that hath died is righteously-released from sin" (6:7); "We died with Christ" (6:8); "Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (6:11); "Ye also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ" (7:4); "We have been discharged from the Law" (annulled--katargeo: 7:6).
If this great word katargeo, "brought to nought," is to be used concerning the bondage in which Satan held us, it must include both the removing of sin with its guilt and power, and the taking us out of that Adam in whom was involved our responsibility.
"We must look intently upon this Christ on the Cross," as Luther used to say, "made to be sin on our behalf." During our Lord's earthly life He was "tempted in all points like as we are, sin apart." But at Calvary, by God's act, He was made to become sin, the thing itself, for us! Satan was deluded at that hour into jubilance! Christ's lips had testified that God had forsaken Him. He had lifted not a hand to defend Himself. He had committed Himself to "Him Who judgeth righteously." At last He said, "It is finished!" and "He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." Thus He "suffered for sins once ... being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."
What now could Satan do? Of those he had held in bondage, the sin, the guilt, that liability to death under judgment which made the "bondage" possible, had all been borne by a Substitute; and He of God's appointing! Those who believed on Christ were free--as free as their Substitute! And Him God raised up from the dead, and received at His right hand--"crowned with glory and honor!" What right then had Satan over believing ones? None whatever! Let them be "subject to God," and believe, thus resisting the devil, and he will flee from them. Astounding witness to Satan's defeated condition!* (Note exact words of Jas. 4:7.)
* The Holy Spirit, our Lord told us, would convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8): Men know, as to the first, that it is a sin not to believe on Christ; second that Christ is righteous, because He has left the world and gone to the Father; third, that the prince of this world, Satan, has been judged. When men realize this, it is like the cry going over a battlefield, "Our commanding general has been killed!" This world is an armed camp against God. A Holy Ghost revival shatters the world's sense of security, takes away all their confidence. Their hearts are like water. God grant such revivals!
When our Lord rose from the dead, and was received up into glory, He went up as the Victor Who had brought the devil to nought! Nothing now but unbelief or disobedience, or ignorance of their liberty, can hold men in bondage to Satan. All his basis of accusation before God, all his power to terrorize believers on earth is nullified, for the judgment for believers was over at the Cross. Do you see that, O believer? Satan has no power, no rights over you. None! He may hinder you; he may oppose you--he did and does oppose all testimony in Christ's Name. But God has reckoned to you the full value of Christ's whole work; and neither guilt, nor bondage, nor fear belongs to you at all! You are in Christ, and are as Christ in God's reckoning! "The sting of death is sin," but Christ bore the sin, and put it away. "The power of sin is the law," but those in Christ died unto law that they might live unto God (Gal. 2:19). And you are in a Risen Christ, Who is all in all to you: "righteousness, sanctification, and redemption"! if, therefore, you are not as free from the devil's bondage of fear as Christ is, it is either from ignorance of Christ's work, or lack of reliance thereon!
All their lifetime subject to bondage, is a summary of the history of most people you know. "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment" (Heb. 9:27). That double engagement lies ever before men out of Christ! Drown their convictions in pleasure, debauchery, infidelity, as they may, there is ever bondage to fear of death! Peculiarly is this bondage felt by those whose consciences have been awakened to the fearful character and consequences of human guilt, and to their own inability to change their moral state. By these we mean true souls, who may not yet have learned the full truth of the deliverance Christ accomplished at the Cross in their behalf.
* Through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. From the time you were born your mother was afraid you would die; the household kept in touch with doctors--"through fear of death;" funerals passed your house, often carrying loved ones, over whom you wept; the reports that came of whole communities smitten with disease filled with dread; the cemeteries you passed cried out, "You will soon be here!" The philosophers and the poets you read made your life "a brief passing moment,"--and then death.
The human race is today SUBJECT TO BONDAGE. They may talk peace--but yonder comes the undertaker!
Now--to hear the astounding NEWS that death and judgment for the believer on Christ are PAST THINGS! that they have been borne by Another, for us; and that the believer is not coming into judgment but has passed out of death into life! also that God has raised His dear Son from the dead; and that He has passed as our Great High Priest through the heavens and is now seated at the right hand of God! and that our standing is perfect and glorious in Christ! that even if a believer should sin, he has "an Advocate--Jesus Christ the righteous"--I say, that the contemplation in faith of these glorious truths sets the heart singing in joy! And that "bondage" which arose "through fear of death" is gone forever! For the believer has died with Christ, and is raised with Him; and Christ has entered God's presence as the Forerunner of believers: where God's saints are, in their Standing, and shall be shortly in personal presence forever!
So He delivered all those who through fear of death were all their life subject to bondage!
For verily not of angels doth He take hold but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham: The angels, whatever their past has been, were created with moral responsibility. At least one-third of them revolted with Satan in Heaven (Rev. 12:4), yet the rest, named "the holy angels," were preserved--not by creature power, but by Divine sovereign will. These are called the "elect angels" (1 Tim. 5:21). The point here is that, of these beings called angels, Christ did not "take hold." While there are profound mysteries in this subject, yet perhaps we may say this much:
First, God's purposes were always connected with man, because the eternal Son was to become man, in the eternal Divine plan! And the first man was made "in the image" of God (Gen. 1:22).
Second, "My delight was with the sons of men," God said. As the angels themselves sang: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom His delight is" (Lk. 2:14).
Third, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." We quote over and over words that, freely believed, would cast us on our faces weeping for joy and wonder! It was not pity, it was not self-interest--not merely to redeem back to Himself creatures who should become His servants, that God gave His Son. Nor is this wonderful verse pronounced concerning God's elect. But that "God so loved the world" is our Lord's explanation of His presence here!
Fourth, God had a sovereign right to pass by those fallen angels that had been in His presence, and to come to take hold of man, a creature far below the mighty angels!
Fifth, the GRACE of God is revealed as nowhere else in all eternity in His coming down to the lowest of His morally conscious beings--sinners and lost, as they were--and not only pardoning, but raising up those believers to sit in the heavenlies in Christ, members of Christ Himself!
Wherefore it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people: Here we find that in order to become "a merciful and faithful High Priest," it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. This involved (1) Partaking of the "blood and flesh" life that they had; (2) Being thus made "a little lower than the angels" (though their Creator); (3) Being "perfected through sufferings"--even suffering death under Divine forsaking! He made propitiation for the sins of the people, being a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.
Our hearts grieve over those (and there are many) who deny that Christ's priestly work began until He was saluted by God after resurrection, "Thou art a Priest forever." But He laid down His life in priestly manner! (Note John 10.) We are amazed that some have said that His high priesthood did not begin until He presented His blood in Heaven. Some have even pointed to our Lord's words to Mary Magdalene, "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father": declaring that He was on His way on that day of resurrection, to fulfill the type of the high priest in placing His blood before God, as the Levitical high priest sprinkled the blood in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, quoting: "There shall be no man in the tent of meeting when he goeth in to make atonement" (Lev. 16:14-17). (note: it was the High Priest, and none other, who, alone in the tabernacle on the Day of Atonement, killed the bullock and the goat. So our Lord laid down His own life--no one "taking it from Him." He "laid it down" as our High Priest, and we must so regard Him!) I would ask, What then mean our Lord's words on the Cross, "It is finished"? If the sprinkling of His blood before God in Heaven was necessary to complete the work of atonement, what mean the words, "It is finished"? What was finished? Atonement! The putting away of sin (before God) by the sacrifice of Himself!
Over 700 years before Christ came, the Spirit spoke by Isaiah of what His priestly work would involve, and "He was not rebellious." We quote the wondrous words of preparation, that "morning by morning" the Father "opened His ear to hear" words of His coming priestly sacrifice. He was born King of the Jews; and He was the great Prophet Whom Moses foretold; but He was no less Priest--yea, High Priest, on His way to the Great Day of Atonement at Calvary! Hear our blessed Lord speaking:
"The Lord Jehovah hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that Plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Is. 50:5-6).
Of course priesthood is based upon sacrifice, upon poured out blood. But as our Lord said in John 17, "Now I come to Thee, and these things I am speaking in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves." He desired them to bear His priestly words, to recognize His priestly relationship to them! If Isaiah could say over seven hundred years before the event, as if the event were past, "He was despised and rejected," surely our blessed Lord might speak within a few hours of His offering Himself on the Cross as if the event had already taken place, as in this same John 17:4, "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given me to do." (Mr. Darby well says "As having once for all completed His work for the putting away Of sin, our Priest offered His sacrifice once for all when He offered up Himself." (synopsis, in loc.) As also F.W. Grant: "It is certain that Christ was a merciful and faithful High Priest to make propitiation; and therefore He was High Priest before Propitiation was, or could be, made ... propitiation is by blood, and that was shed on earth!")
Before we close our study of this wonderful 17th verse, we Must meditate in detail upon two phrases, Wherefore it behooved Him, and, in things pertaining to God.
The word "behooved" in the first of these phrases, does not involve, as among men, the idea of duty or obligation, but that of a necessary condition to achieve a result. His being made like unto His brethren, "sons whom God was bringing unto glory," was necessary in His undertaking priesthood for them. Now in what particulars did His being made like unto His brethren consist? In His partaking of blood and flesh; in His being subject at Nazareth to "His parents"; in His "increasing in wisdom and stature"; engaging in carpentry work with Joseph; in His being "made for a little while lower than the angels," and traveling the troubled pathway of humility here below--"in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart," in His traversing the path the Father gave Him, "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with sickness" (Hebrew); daily, hourly, applied to by human need and suffering, and bringing His matters before God in daily prayer. (See Mk. 1:35; Lk. 3:21, 4:42, 6:12, 9:28-29.)
Here were men, utterly unable to deal with God, Whom they infinitely, hourly, needed. And here was Christ, "laying His hand upon us both" (job 9:33). These things it behooved Him to do and to be, until, "through the eternal Spirit," He should have offered Himself without blemish unto God, to shed His blood at the Cross. A Priest at Calvary, He "offered up Himself." It matters not who slew Him: "No man took His life from Him" (John 10:17-18): He laid it down of Himself, by command of His Father. No one else offered Him up: He offered up himself, a Priestly act! Then after He rose, He "passed through the heavens," being then, a Great High Priest before He "passed through the heavens" (Heb. 4:14). Note, it was a High Priest who passed through. It behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren:
- In "emptying Himself," as Deity, of glory, power, wisdom (Phil. 2:5-8).
- In incarnation-"sharing in blood and flesh" (Heb. 2:14).
- In individual sympathy with each of His own.
- In sharing, in His ministry, the circumstances of His disciples.
- In being "perfected through sufferings" (vs. 10).
Thus He became a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.
Things pertaining to God (ta pros ton Theon) is used by Paul in Romans 15:17, and in Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1, these places only in the New Testament. This phrase is a characteristic one, both as to its form and its content. It is remarkable that Paul in Romans 15:17 should connect it with that priestly "offering up of the Gentiles" in which he "ministered in sacrifice" the gospel of God, "in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit: ... glorying in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God."
Things pertaining to God: What were these things in Hebrews 2:17?
- Things which were necessary for Christ to do (that is to die) for us as sinners.
- His presenting Himself Risen before the face of God for us, giving us thus a place in Him in Heaven, and rights and privileges of worship in God's immediate presence--at the "throne of Grace."
- His Divine intelligence, and priestly sympathy unlimited, concerning our needs, temptations and trials; and constant unwearied attendance thereunto, obtaining help for us from God; for, although all blessing is through Christ, "all things are of God (Rom. 11:36).
- Finally, that adoration of God in which Christ the Son Himself delights, and in which He will eternally lead His redeemed "brethren," "the congregation" of redeemed ones. All this, at least, is included in this word, things pertaining to God. "In the midst of the congregation will I sing Thy praise!"
* Distinguish carefully between the result of accepted propitiation and the thing itself. Note that things pertaining to God just precedes to make propitiation for the sins of the people. We must learn and believe in our very hearts that this task of making propitiation for the sins of the people was a transaction between Christ, as Sin-offering, and God, as God.
Comparing the frequency of use in Scripture of a word, fact, or doctrine is often the best means of arriving at the truth set forth. Let us note in Hebrews, twenty or more statements referring to our Lord's propitiatory death: (We quote the most telling words only, to conserve space; hunt them out in Chs. 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13.
When He had made purification of sins (1:3).
Because of the suffering of death crowned ... that He should taste of death for every man (2:9).
Made perfect through sufferings (2:10).
Through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death (2:14).
To make propitiation (2:17).
Every high priest ... is appointed ... that he may offer ... sacrifices for sins (5:1).
Prayers and supplications unto Him that was able to save Him out of death (5:7).
He (offered up sacrifices) once for all, when He offered up Himself (7:27).
Christ ... through His own blood, entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption (9:12).
The blood of Christ, Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself unto God (9:14).
He is the Mediator of a New Covenant, a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant. (9:15).
Once at the end of the ages hath He been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (9:26).
Christ ... once offered to bear the sins of many (9:28).
By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (10:14).
He ... offered one sacrifice for sins forever (10:12).
Enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus ... through the veil, that is to say, His flesh (10:19, 20).
Jesus endured the Cross, despising shame (12:2).
Jesus, that He might sanctify the people also through His own blood, suffered without the gate (13:12).
The God of peace ... brought again from the dead the Great Shepherd of the sheep In the blood of a covenant eternal (13:20).
Read and re-read these wondrous passages concerning the death of Christ. They draw out our hearts.
Concerning this eternal worship, we repeat over and over that it will be the supreme delight of the redeemed. For they will be brought to apprehend more and more, forever, of the "kindness of God," Whose Name is Love, and Who is in every attribute infinite in perfection! In His presence there is fullness of joy; in His right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Sin and self left behind, with our former limited apprehension while on earth, we shall throughout the endless ages of eternity find ever new delight in Him Who through and in His blessed Son is "our Portion forever."
And even today, we draw near in our Lord Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, and come by the power of the blessed Spirit to "the Throne of Grace," and enter upon that blessed and glorious worship which will have its consummation in eternity. This worship is set before us in Hebrews!
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted: What a marvel is here! Isaiah calls Him "Immanuel, God with us"; and "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity"! But when He was on earth, He was tempted: He suffered, being tempted. As the Holy One, He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, so that even the presence of evil caused Him suffering. Having then been, through the appointed sufferings, perfected, He becomes a High Priest Who is able to succor them that are tempted.
Dear friend, you and I might be in the presence of someone who is suffering peculiar and agonizing temptation. But, poor things that we are, we would not know it; and did we know it, who has the power to deliver another soul? Christ, having Himself suffered being tempted, is able to succor them that are tempted.
Rely on this Great High Priest of Whom we are reading in this book of Hebrews. Thank God, He is "a Priest forever," as we shall see! There is one God, one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus! Rely upon His past work and His present priestly work in your behalf, and go directly by Him to God; knowing first, that "God is for us" (Rom. 8:31); and that Christ Jesus "is at the right hand of God--Who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34); and that our Great High Priest is merciful and faithful ... for in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted. Thank God!
We shall learn much more in Hebrews of this Great High Priest!
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Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 2". Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany