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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Hebrews 2

 

 

Verse 1

The Danger of Drifting

Because Christ is better than the angels, we ought to pay closer attention to His message. To reach a goal upstream, it is absolutely necessary that one put forth diligent effort (Luke 13:24). The Hebrew writer is warning Christians not to relax and drift downstream. This is especially important in light of the superior messenger. The message heard by Christians is greater than any man ever heard. So, one should strive to keep the teachings of Christ in mind and reach toward the perfection found in Him (Hebrews 2:1).


Verse 2-3

God Gives a Just Reward

The “word spoken through angels” is all of the Old Testament revelation (Galatians 3:10; Acts 7:51:53). It can be considered steadfast because God backed it up with His power. Also, those who disobeyed or neglected the law were punished. Those under that message from God were properly rewarded for their works, either obedient or disobedient. Having dealt in such a just manner with those under the lesser law, surely God will deal justly today. We clearly will not escape our reward. There is a great salvation available in Jesus. Of course, this implies there was some type of salvation in the past. This may refer to those who were saved from things like the flood, the destruction of Sodom and bondage in Egypt (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:7; Acts 7:34-36). Or, it may indicate there was salvation under the law of Moses, with its shedding of the blood of bulls and goats. If the latter is true, it must be remembered that those in the Mosaic age could not attain perfection without Christ"s coming (11:39-40). In either case, the salvation Christ brought is greater (2:2-3).


Verse 4

Witnesses to the Truthful Message

The trustworthy nature of Christ"s law was first attested to by the Lord who was its deliverer. Then, the apostles confirmed the message. The Father added His witness to theirs. He was with Jesus and proclaimed His Sonship (John 8:16; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). Indeed, He was with all those He chose to carry out His purpose (compare Exodus 33:14). His witness can be seen in the works done by Christ and the apostles (John 14:10; Acts 2:32-33; Acts 4:10; Acts 14:3; Acts 19:11-12). The terms "signs," "wonders," and "various miracles" would all seem to refer to different aspects of the same works. A miracle which was called a "sign" would be designed to be a testimony in behalf of the truth. The "wonder" would be the awe aroused in those witnessing the miracle. "Various miracles" would describe the other works wrought by God"s power (2:4).


Verses 5-9

Made a Little Lower than the Angels

God chose to put Christ in charge of restoring man to his lost dominion over the world, rather than using the angels for restoration. The world spoken of in this place is apparently the world in which we now live. Its true meaning would be the "habitable world," as Milligan writes (). Psalms 8:4, which is quoted in Hebrews 2:6, is a case of parallelism in Hebrew poetry. The psalmist, and seemingly the writer, is awed by the blessings God has given man. James D. Bales writes, "Psalms 8:1-9 and Hebrews 2:6, shows that Christ has identified himself with humanity and makes possible for us what sin made impossible. He accomplished this through his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, reign and work as high priest” (2:7-18).

Continuing to quote from Psalms 8:5-7, the writer shows man"s rank in the universe. All things were put under man"s authority. Though he may now be frustrated in this, he will some day see it come to pass. In fact, Christians see the beginning of that fulfillment in Jesus. He was crowned with "glory and honor" after He tasted death. When Jesus tasted death, He did it for every man. 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 shows Jesus died for our sins. It is through that death that we will live again. The new life we have in Him will be unlike this existence. We will have an incorruptible body and a specially prepared place to live. Christ will not keep death from us the first time (9:27). However, He will keep us from the second death which is described in Revelation 20:14. Jesus took the rank of man for a time so we could avoid that death (Hebrews 2:7-9).


Verses 10-12

Sonship Attained Through the Perfected Leader

God was the basic reason for, and power behind, creation (Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 8:6). It was both His and Jesus" purpose to cause many to attain heaven. Notice that Christians are called sons in this context (Hebrews 2:10). This Sonship is by adoption (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5). For this to be done, our leader, or pioneer who went ahead to open the path for us, had to be made perfect. He was completely prepared through suffering, which was the only thing He lacked.

Lightfoot says the word here translated "perfect" was regularly used in the Septuagint translation of the "Pentateuch to refer to the consecration of priests (Exodus 29:9; Exodus 29:29; Exodus 29:33; Exodus 29:35, etc.).” As an example, he tells of the priests under Moses’ law who “were perfected or consecrated by various rites, so Christ in the New was perfected or consecrated or qualified. The thought is that, apart from suffering, Christ could not have been made a thoroughly effective, perfect Leader of His people."

Set Apart To Be God"s Sons

The sanctified are those set apart for God"s service. Jesus is the one who sanctifies, while those who do His will are the sanctified. Since we are both of the same Father, Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren (). In Psalms 22:22, David pled for help because of the danger he faced. His plea was also based upon his close relationship to God. Of course, Christ fulfilled the message to a greater degree (Hebrews 2:12). His suffering and the glory which followed it are both seen in its prophetic prediction. Both Lightfoot and Thompson remark that the opening verse of this Psalm is used by Jesus on the cross (Mark 15:34). Thompson shows that "the language of Psalms 22:1-31 is woven into the language of the passion narratives (Matthew 27:35; Psalms 22:18; Matthew 27:39; Psalms 22:7; Matthew 27:43; Psalms 22:8).


Verses 13-15

The Man Who Conquered Death

In , the writer quotes from Isaiah 8:17-18. Jesus was a man, as the first quote would indicate. As such, He put His trust in God. The second verse indicates Christ and His children are very closely bound. Surely then, those that are His should put their trust in the Father! Jesus came to earth and became a man in every sense of the word, even accepting the weaker, fleshly, aspects.

Vine says the word "destroy" means to "reduce to inactivity." Sin, which produces death, was under Satan"s control. It was used by him to make man his servant. Jesus died to put Satan out of work by taking away the power of death (). Through this conquering of death, Jesus conquered any man"s fear of death (2:15). That is, anyone who will give himself up to Him. Boles says, "Christ removes the bondage of fear through: (a) Bringing life to light (2 Timothy 1:10). (b) Forgiveness of sins (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)."


Verses 16-18

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

Jesus" purpose on earth was not to release angels from slavery, but man (). Lightfoot says, "The entire thought is that He laid hold of men in order to help them out of their distressed condition." Since Jesus" purpose was man"s salvation, He had to become a perfect high priest. He also had to make a perfect sacrifice for the sins of His people (2:17).

He suffered all the trials and temptations a man can suffer. Or, at the very least, He suffered one of each kind. This was done so that He might be the perfect high priest. He had to suffer the same trials as man to understand man"s problems. Lightfoot suggests the word "tempted" particularly refers to "the suffering of death." Certainly that does show Christ understands how far persecution and trials can go. It should also be a source of courage for those of us about to give up because of suffering (2:18).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/hebrews-2.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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