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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Hebrews 2

 

 

Verses 1-18

Hebrews 2:1. We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard. The things relating to the glory of the person of Christ, and all his offices as mediator; these we ought to study, to weigh them in our minds, and see the old testament full of Christ, the Redeemer, the Angel of the covenant, the God of Bethel; for the Saviour of the patriarchs is our Saviour. Lest at any time, whether through prosperity or persecution, we should let them slip, or let the image vanish as the shadows seen in water.

Hebrews 2:2-3. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, when the law was given on Sinai, with cloud, and fire, and thunder, and the sound of trumpets. If the first offenders against that law, whether for blasphemy, or sabbath-breaking were stoned; How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, and slight the gospel spoken by the Son of God? To urge the plea of having bought a yoke of oxen, or lands, or having contracted marriage, as some did when invited to the feast, is to insult the Lord, by saying that corn and cattle, worldly pursuits and pleasures are of more importance than the redemption of the world, or the eternal salvation of the soul. How shall we escape, how will it be possible? We can neither flee the arm of vengeance, nor oppose it; can neither justify that neglect, nor bear up under its consequences, but must sink into everlasting fire.

Hebrews 2:4. God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ, the sign he had promised to his enemies, under the figure of Jonah being raised from the deep. Matthew 12:38-40. Acts 2:43. And with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, as when the Spirit fell on the devout people in the house of Cornelius. Acts 10:44. Galatians 3:2. Matthew 11:2.

Hebrews 2:5. To the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. This is another reason why we should bow to the authority of Christ the Lord, all power both in heaven and in earth being given to him. He is Lord of all, sitting at the right hand of God, principalities and powers being made subject unto him.

Hebrews 2:7-8. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, in his incarnation, in which state angels ministered unto him. The eighth psalm, cited here, confessedly regards the Messiah. What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him. What is man’s nature that thou shouldst visit him so, that the fulness of the deity should dwell in him. And after his minority and humiliation, and in reward of his obedience, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, hast given him a name above every name, and set him over the works of thy hands. The Messiah is enthroned; let earth and hell tremble, let sinners make haste and prostrate at his feet. In him humiliation and glory are joined, the cross and the crown.

In this luminous psalm, it is very remarkable that instead of malachim, the usual name of angels, we find here Meod Elohim, little less than God, or the Gods. This must refer to the suffering state of Christ on earth; for in regard of his soul, says Erasmus, Christ was not inferior to angels. And though we do not yet see all things put under him, yet in the full blaze of vision we see Jesus, thus humbled by suffering, that through the grace of God he should taste death for every man, or to use the words of Agag, the bitterness of death for every man: παντος for all. The apostle follows here the words of the Hebrew, and the LXX in Isaiah 53:6. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Hebrews 2:10-12. It became him — to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. The Son being the author of the great salvation, it pleased the Father to try and prove him, to bruise him and put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for sin, as the medium by which to bring many sons to glory, numerous as the drops of morning dew, who are to be reconciled to God by his death and passion. And for this glorious cause, having assumed their nature, he is not ashamed to call them brethren. And having once washed and purified them, and given them power to become the sons of God, he says with joy to the Father, — I will declare thy name unto my brethren. What grace and mercy, what honour to sinners! What a moment was that, when the trembling sons of Jacob heard that voice, — I am Joseph your brother. Aye, a voice to brothers too, who had hated and sold him for a paltry price.

The sacred writer says, it became him, by whom and for whom are all things, to save sinners through the sufferings of Christ, as a vicarious sacrifice, such a substitution providing a medium for the honourable exercise of mercy, so that now he can be a just God and yet the Saviour, and declare his righteousness in the very act of pardoning mercy. Romans 3:25. All the claims of the law are fully satisfied by the sufferings and death of Christ, the law itself is magnified and made honourable by his obedience, and the Lord hath received at his hands double for all our sins. But if “it became” the supreme Lawgiver thus to provide for the justification of his righteous government, thus to display the unsearchable riches of his grace, if it was infinitely worthy of himself, and tended most of all to illustrate the glory of his perfections, then with the deepest reverence be it said, it would not have become Him for whom are all things to have contemplated the salvation of the world in any other way. Who then shall dare to impugn this unsearchable wisdom, or presume on the hope of mercy without the intervention of a mediator, or without a sacrifice sufficient for the expiation of human guilt.

Hebrews 2:14-15. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. The assumption of our nature was voluntary, which it could not have been but for his preëxistence, but “he took” our mortal flesh, that by dying he might in the end of time, after the unfolding of human generations, abolish death. By taking the sons of God for his own family, he also expelled the usurper, who exercised the power of death, that is, the devil. Thus by holiness, the Sanctifier and the sanctified being one, he delivered those who through fear of death, occasioned by sin, were all their lifetime subject to bondage and legal fears. Here we have the full assurance of hope, that he who has claimed kindred with us in this state of humiliation, will not forsake us in the hour of death, but will perfect his work in bringing us to glory, and to that eternal inheritance of which Canaan was a figure.

Hebrews 2:18. He is able to succour them that are tempted. All the sympathies of his nature, all his compassion as a merciful and faithful highpriest, declare that he will cover us with his shield, against all the fiery darts of the wicked one. When we are furiously assailed with doubts of revelation, and of providence, he will remove our doubts by clearer light, as in Psalms 73:16-18. When we are tempted to neglect early piety, by pleas of sensual pleasure and self-indulgence, or harrassed with doubts and fears concerning answers of prayer, the Lord will lift upon us the light of his countenance, and scatter all the mists and darkness with which we are surrounded. When our trials come in succession to teach us the way of submission to providence, he will inspire us with courage to say, Rejoice not against me, oh mine enemy. When I fall I shall arise: when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:8. — Excuse one adjection: had Paul written a commentary on the Hebrew scriptures, the rabbins and christian doctors had all been thrown into the shade.

REFLECTIONS.

Give the more earnest heed, oh my soul, to all that the prophets have said of the godhead and glory of Christ, thy Redeemer and Judge, lest thou shouldest let them slip, as the sieve that loses the wheat and retains the chaff, or fall in temptation’s hour, or deny thy God to prolong a mortal life.

The punishments of the like apostasy shall be greater than any inflicted under the law, for their punishments chiefly concerned the body. Even Achan died giving glory to God by the confession of sin; but the base apostate from the faith of Christ’s being one substance with the Father, loses his soul.

The equity of this punishment is deduced from the greatness of the salvation which Christ has achieved. He by Himself purged our sins, and forgives the penitent. He overcame the world, and gives us the victory by faith. He vanquished Satan, the god of this world, and he has left us his shield. He rose from the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept, that he might fashion our vile bodies like his own glorious body. In a word, this is a salvation from the dregs of sin, to the glory of Christ’s image, and to an equality with the angels of God.

We are not only in danger from apostasy, but also from neglect. What, I pray, would be the situation of the farmer in the day of harvest, who should neglect the seedtime? He would be derided, he would be ruined, and utterly undone. Think, young people, of this awful inference, while you are so carelessly neglecting the seedtime of early life.

The evidences of the godhead and glory of Christ, and all the grand truths he hath taught, are strong and clear beyond the power of any man to resist, if he enquire with an honest mind. The evidences of his resurrection will be found in John 20. The other evidences lie scattered in these reflections; and may be seen in a collective view in the second edition of my Introduction to Christianity. Hence to Christ, in his humanity and offices, hath he put in subjection the world, and all the ages to come, and crowned him with glory and honour for ever.

But the Lord Christ was made perfect, or attained this glory through sufferings. Hence his persecuted followers should not shrink at the cross, nor fall away when tempted, as these light afflictions work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. He was sanctified in a sacrificial sense, as our sin-offering and highpriest, to taste death for every man, that they who are sanctified by the offering up of his body, not often as the sacrifices of old, but once for all on the cross, might be one with him for ever, and thereby be delivered from the fear of death through the ever- blooming hope of immortality and life, having in all their temptations the tender and victorious Saviour for their succour and support.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/hebrews-2.html. 1835.

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Sunday, June 16th, 2019
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