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ver. 2.0.19.10.23
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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 2

 

 

Verse 1

1. “Lest we let them slip” should read, “Lest we leak out.” This is an exceedingly profitable warning, admonishing us to watch and pray incessantly lest we sadly incur the leakage of love. Not only regenerated people, but the sanctified are in imminent danger of losing ground by the leakage of grace. In this way multiplied thousands unconsciously and inadvertently become backsliders, having lost the joy of their salvation, the fire and the power by which they save others. The simile is that of a water barrel leaking out its contents. There is but one way to prevent this leakage, and that is to keep it full. When it gets partially empty, the burning solar rays — which powerfully symbolize Satan’s temptations- will shrink the staves, producing constant leakage, increasing more and more till the barrel is empty, dry, and falls. The only remedy in the case of the barrel is to keep it under the spout, where it will always keep full; meanwhile, the overflow will be a constant blessing to the circumambient fruits and flowers. Therefore, O soul, if you would heed this warning so faithfully given by the Holy Ghost, and not suffer the fatal evanescence of the grace out of your heart, you must constantly keep under the mercy- seat, where you will not only keep full, but the perpetual overflow will make you a benediction to all you meet.


Verses 2-4

2-4. Here we have a vivid contrast of the augmented responsibility under the broader and deeper light of the Gospel dispensation in contradistinction to the Mosaic. During the former dispensation, God sent angels to speak to the patriarchs and prophets. Among these angels the most prominent was the Angel of the Covenant, who was none other than the Excarnate Christ. The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New. Matthew 3:3, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” This is the language of Isaiah, and reads in the Hebrew, “Prepare ye the way of Jehovah.” Hence we see that the Jehovah of Isaiah is the Christ of John the Baptist. 1 Corinthians 10 :


Verse 5

5. “For He did not subordinate the world to come, concerning which we speak to angels.” The Greek word translated “world” in this verse is a passive participle, and simply means “the inhabited” (earth). It means this world in the glorious restoration of its Mediatorial King. In the grand restitution which will properly be inaugurated when our Lord rides down on His millennial throne to reign in righteousness a thousand years, then it will be consummated by the fiery sanctification of the world, its final renovation and celestialization (Revelation 21:1). This redeemed and glorified world is not committed to angels, but the glorified Christ, with His transfigured saints, will rule over it forever.


Verse 6-7

6, 7. No angel was ever subjected to mortality. For the Son of God to submit to the disabilities of birth, babyhood, childhood and mortal manhood was an inconceivable humiliation, such as no angel ever knew. As His humiliation was consummate beyond conception, so His exaltation is proportionally transcendent.


Verse 8

8. This verse testifies to the fact that the Father, in view of the Son’s heroic and vicarious humiliation, has actually subordinated all things in this world beneath His feet. The autocratic decree of the Almighty bas gone forth, eternally irrevocable; but, as it here says, “we do not now see that all things have yet been subordinated to Him.” The final verification of this promise of the Father to subordinate all things to the Son has been reserved to the awful executive retributions to be inflicted on the wicked nations and fallen churches of this rebel world, during the premilennial judgments of the great Tribulation.


Verse 9

9. “In order that He may by the grace of God taste death for every one.” The humiliation of Christ brought Him down low enough to put His philanthropic shoulder under the lowest reprobate that ever blackened the globe, and lift him up to heaven. In His infinitesimal condescension, He tasted death for every human being, thus procuring an absolutely universal atonement and forever sweeping from the field every possible defalcation as to the gracious possibility of universal salvation.


Verse 10

10. We see from this verse that the Lord Jesus Christ actually created this world for His own eternal sovereignty. Hence His deadly conflict with the devil, who had the audacious impudence to attempt to wrest it out of His hands. Jesus is the great and infallible Archetype of universal saintship. Therefore it was pertinent that He should travel this road before them and point out the way. He never claimed perfection in His Messianic office and character till after He suffered crucifixion. Just as He was imperfect in His mediatorship till after He suffered death on the cross, so are His followers imperfect in their Christian character till Adam the first is crucified. Perfect is from the Latin facio, to make, and per, complete. Hence it simply means to make complete. Sanctification is from sanctus, holy, and facio, to make, and just means to make holy. Therefore perfection and sanctification are derivatives from the same Latin facio, and have the same meaning. In the Greek, hagiasmos means holiness and also means sanctification. It is indiscriminately translated holiness or sanctification. Hence you see Wesley was correct when he pronounced perfection, holiness and sanctification all synonymous. Just as it was necessary for the physical nature of Jesus to die in order to the perfection of His Messiahship, so the crucifixion of our Adamic nature is essential to the completion of our Christian character. As the Man Jesus was the only Son of unfallen Adam, his humanity was pure, whereas that of the whole human race is contaminated by the fall. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. None but disciples go to heaven. Hence, if you aspire to a place in heaven, you must follow Christ to the cross and be crucified. He is our infallible Leader. We must walk in His footprints. We must follow Him to the manger, and be born in utter obscurity. This is regeneration. Then we must follow Him to Calvary and be nailed to the cross. Our fallen Adamic nature must die. This is sanctification.


Verse 11

11. “For He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” This is God’s infallible definition of sanctification, i.e., oneness with God. Hence, we see that sanctification unifies us with God, that is, gives us the divine nature. Holiness is the divine nature. It is original in God, but imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is called “holy,” not because He is more holy than the Father or the Son, but because it is His office to make us holy. Hence, all true religion is the direct work of the Holy Ghost. Anti-holiness preachers, Roman Catholic priests, Moslems, and all sorts of heathens, preach holiness to the people, but all they mean by holiness is loyalty to the church and obedience to their leaders. All this is Satan’s counterfeit holiness. All of this buncombe twaddle about loyalty to the church belongs to the dogmata of counterfeit holiness, as true holiness makes you loyal to God. When you are loyal to God you are always loyal to God’s Church. Christ is the Head and the Church is His body. Therefore, they are identical and there is no such a thin as being loyal to the one and disloyal to the other Here we see the reason why the popular clergy and secular ecclesiasticism in all ages have fought sanctification. It is because it makes the people loyal to God instead of themselves. Liquori, a distinguished Roman Catholic commentator, furiously denounces the doctrine of perfection as the worst of all heresies, certifying that it has given them more trouble than all other heresies combined. This problem explains itself when the preachers are not in harmony with God, as none can be till they are sanctified wholly; they are unwilling for the people to get sanctified, because they know it will take them out of their hands and put them where they can no longer rely on them as conservators of their carnal policy. The worldly churches heap mountains of labor on their members to conserve their financial and ecclesiastical enterprises, crowding God out and actually causing their members to backslide. The true church is not a social and financial organization, but the children of God united in prayer and labor to save souls. “For which reason he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” This follows as a logical sequence from God’s definition of sanctification, i.e., that it is oneness with God, i.e., unification with the divine nature. When the Holy Ghost imparts to the very nature of God, He is no longer ashamed to call us brethren.


Verse 12

12. David says, “In the midst of the church I will sing praises unto Thee.” Ecclesia is the word for church throughout the Bible. It is from ek, out, and kaleo, to call. Hence, it means all the people who have heard the call of the Holy Ghost, come out of the world and separated themselves unto God. These, and these alone, constitute the Church of God. Sanctification, which means taking the world out of you, is a subsequent work performed in the hearts of the church members. Therefore, all true Christians desire to be sanctified wholly. Dr. Clarke says, “The man who is opposed to Christian perfection is no Christian.” Dr. Albert Barnes, the Presbyterian commentator, says, “When you ask your own heart, Would you like to be wholly sanctified to God now? and receive a negative answer, you may set it down that you are no Christian.” The Apostolic Church consisted of nothing but the simple Ecclesiai. Satan has subsequently laid under contribution all the wisdom of earth and hell to build on it and round it so many magnitudinous ecclesiasticisms as utterly to hide it from human vision: meanwhile he has millions of carnal creatures pointing the blind multitudes of all ages and nations to these mammoth human institutions and crying, “Behold the church!” Two hundred millions of martyrs have bled for their disloyalty to human ecclesiasticism and their loyalty to God and His Church.


Verse 13

13. This verse exhibits Jesus and all of God’s children invested in transfigured glory, standing before the great white throne, constituting the Church of the Firstborn, written in heaven.


Verse 14

14. It is absolutely necessary that the world’s Redeemer should be both human and divine. Humanity had fallen from the exalted eminence of the divine fellowship, down into the deep abyss of sin, misery, death and damnation. When the river ha fallen down from the mountain crag, it can never flow back. If Christ had been God only, man could never have reached it. If He had been man only, He would have been utterly incompetent to the rescue of fallen humanity. In His human humiliation He comes down low enough to put His shoulder under the most degraded wretch on the face of the earth. The vilest reprobate has nothing to do, but take Him by the hand. This done, he has taken the hand of the Omnipotent God, which lifts him to the highest heaven. Thus, in the hypostatic union of perfect humanity and perfect divinity, in our glorious Mediator, we receive the man-Christ, while the God-Christ saves us. “In order that through death He may destroy the one having the power of death, that is the devil.” Destruction is not annihilation. When you burn a piece of wood the gases and ashes weigh precisely as much as the wood before cremation. In the economy of nature there is no such thing as annihilation. God in providence and grace is identical. Therefore, the doctrine of annihilation is heretical and equally contradictory to both nature and revelation. The destruction of the devil does not mean his annihilation, but his utter and eternal discomfiture and defeat.


Verse 15

15. “That He might liberate those so many as through fear of death were all their life subject to slavery.” The near proximity and absolute certainty of death have in all ages invested the grim monster with terrors at once horrific and appalling. Who has not suffered ten thousand tortures under the foreboding fear of this merciless tyrant? My childhood was one protracted ordeal of torture, more or less intermittent in proportion to the periods intervening between the funerals I was permitted to attend. Perfect love is the only conqueror of the grim monster, from which he is forced to retreat, vanquished, crestfallen and defeated forever. Entire sanctification is the only emancipator of a sighing world from the galling slavery everywhere superinduced by the King of Terrors.


Verse 16

16. The tallest archangel commanding millions of the heavenly host could never have saved a solitary soul. He is doomed to fail on both of the essential fines of the mediatorship, i.e., the humanity and the divinity.


Verse 17

17. This verse vividly reveals the absolute essentiality of the Mediatorial Manhood in order to reach every condition of fallen humanity. Jesus was the poorest of the poor. He would preach all day on the streets of Jerusalem, then go off to Mount Olivet at night and sleep on the ground. Thus He condescended to the lowest depths of human poverty, that He might perfect the sympathetic brotherhood with the poorest of the poor. At the same time nothing but Omnipotence could successfully grapple with the powers of sin, mortality, the world, and Satan.


Verse 18

18. “For in that He Himself suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor those who are tempted.” It was absolutely necessary to the perfection of the Mediatorial Christhood that Jesus should pass through the entire curriculum of possible Satanic temptations. For reasons to us inscrutable, Satan was permitted to assault the whole human race in Adam the first, their federal representative. There never was but one creation. When God created Adam, He created the race. Eve was no exception, being an evolution from Adam. When Satan tempted Adam, he tempted the entire human race. When Adam fell, the race fell. God, in his unutterable mercy to fallen humanity, gave them a second chance in Jesus Christ, who for that very reason is designated Adam the Second. Man is a trinity, similitudinous to God, consisting of body, mind, and spirit. In Satan’s war against Adam the first, he saved two-thirds of his ammunition, triumphantly slaying him on the first round, in which he tempted his body with the beautiful and delicious fruit. If Adam had not yielded to the physical temptations, Satan would have proceeded to the intellectual. If he had not then yielded, the devil would have gone on to the bombardment of the spiritual citadel. When I was in the Holy Land, in 1895, I saw the gloomy mountain overhanging the site of old Jericho, in the wilderness of Judaea, where Jesus was tempted by the devil. Well does the Scripture say, “He suffered, being tempted.” Of course, during a fast of forty days, He suffered with hunger. This was an extreme case, and actually takes in all the physical temptations to which we can ever be exposed, as probably none of us will ever do without food so long as forty days. Yet Jesus heroically resisted the devil’s offer and achieved a transcendent triumph. When Satan failed in his assault on His physical being, he proceeded to attack the intellectual. Consequently, he offered Him all the kingdoms of this world, if He would simply recognize his Satanic majesty. This was no sham, as some have thought, as Satan had actually captured this world by conquest in his war against Adam the first. God recognizes Satan’s earthly sovereignty (2 Corinthians 4:4) where he calls him the god of this world. If Christ had yielded to Satan’s temptation the humanity would have been transformed into a great archdemon, meanwhile the divinity, leaving it, would have gone back to heaven. In that case, the redemptive scheme must have collapsed forever, leaving the last hope of humanity eclipsed in the gloom of an eternal night. After Satan’s signal defeat on the battlefield of mentality, he proceeds at once to attack the citadel of His spirituality. As faith is the basis of all spirituality and divine allegiance, Satan takes Jesus up to the topmost pinnacle of the Temple, suggesting to Him to leap off, as God would surely take care of Him. If Jesus had indulged this experiment, He would have tempted God, thus superseding His faith, which is the bond of divine loyalty, by presumption, which is the devil’s counterfeit for a faith. Here Satan signally fails a third time. Having exhausted all of his ammunition, he retreats crestfallen and humiliated from the battlefield. Thus humanity, in the victory of Adam the Second, regained the fearful losses sustained in the defeat of Adam the first. If Adam had not fallen under the temptation offered to his body, Satan would have gone on tempting his mind and finally his soul. Our Savior passed through these temptations that we may all walk in His footprints and triumph over the devil throughout. Vainly do sanctified people conclude they will have no more temptations. Far from it. They have just reached the great temptation line. Satan is not fool enough to waste ammunition on sinners who spontaneously do his will, neither does he turn his heavy artillery against unsanctified Christians, whom he can successfully scare off with popgun batteries. When Jesus received the Holy Ghost, immediately after His inauguration into His official Messiahship by John’s baptism, this was His sanctification; forthwith the Holy Spirit led Him away into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. As the infallible Exemplar of universal saintship, it was absolutely necessary for our great Archetype to pass through the summary temptations of Satan. The devil from the beginning has played a most conspicuous part in human probation, for reasons to us unfathomable, but doubtless to be revealed more fully in the coming evolutions of transfigured saintship. Consequently all sanctified people are assaulted by Satan on the three great embattled lines of triple humanity. If we yield to his physical temptations — to drunkenness, gluttony, tobacco and debauchery — we become hoggish. When we yield to intellectual temptations — blind to what doesn’t glisten and deaf to what doesn’t jingle — become worldly, unspiritual, and lose our souls. Popular churches are largely filled up with this class of people. When we yield to spiritual temptations — skepticism, infidelity, spiritualism, theosophy, and atheism — we become devilish. Beware of congratulating yourself that you are past the temptation line. When Satan doesn’t shoot at you it is confirmatory proof that you are not worth shooting at, since he is not fool enough to waste his ammunition on dead game. If you are really true to God he will never cease to shoot at you till you pass the pearly portal.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/hebrews-2.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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