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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Hebrews 2



Verse 1

Therefore (δια τουτοdia touto). Because Jesus is superior to prophets and angels and because the new revelation is superior to the old. The author often pauses in his argument, as here, to drive home a pungent exhortation.

Ought (δειdei). It is necessity, necessity rather than obligation (χρηchrē).

To give heed
(προσεχεινprosechein). Present active infinitive with νουνnoun (accusative singular of νουςnous) understood as in Acts 8:6.

More earnest
(περισσοτερωςperissoterōs). Comparative adverb, “more earnestly,” “more abundantly” as in 1 Thessalonians 2:7

To the things that were heard
(τοις ακουστεισινtois akoustheisin). Dative plural neuter of the articular participle first aorist passive of ακουωakouō

Lest haply we drift away
(μη ποτε παραρυωμενmē pote pararuōmen). Negative clause of purpose with μη ποτεmē pote and the second aorist passive subjunctive of παραρρεωpararreō old verb to flow by or past, to glide by, only here in N.T. (cf. Proverbs 3:21). Xenophon (Cyrop. IV. 52) uses it of the river flowing by. Here the metaphor is that “of being swept along past the sure anchorage which is within reach” (Westcott), a vivid picture of peril for all (“we,” ημαςhēmas).

Verse 2

For if … proved steadfast (ει γαρ εγενετο βεβαιοςei garδι αγγελων egeneto bebaios). Condition of first class, assumed as true.

Through angels (παραβασις και παρακοηdi' aggelōn). Allusion to the use of angels by God at Sinai as in Acts 7:38, Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19, though not in the O.T., but in Josephus (Ant. XV. 156).

Transgression and disobedience
(παραparabasis kai parakoē). Both words use παραρυωμενpara as in παραβασιςpararuōmen refused to obey (stepping aside, παρακοηpara -μισταποδοσιανbasis as in Romans 2:23), neglect to obey (μισταποδοτηςpar -μιστοςakoē as in Romans 5:19), more than a mere hendiadys.

Recompense of reward
(αποδιδωμιmisthapodosian). Late double compound, like μιστοδοσιαmisthapodotēs (Hebrews 11:6), from ενδικονmisthos (reward) and apodidōmi to give back. The old Greeks used misthodosia

(endikon). Old compound adjective, in N.T. only here and Romans 3:8.

Verse 3

How shall we escape? (πως ημεις εκπευχομεταpōs hēmeis ekpheuxometha). Rhetorical question with future middle indicative of εκπευγωekpheugō and conclusion of the condition.

If we neglect (αμελησαντεςamelēsantes). First aorist active participle of αμελεωameleō “having neglected.”

So great salvation
(τηλικαυτης σωτηριαςtēlikautēs sōtērias). Ablative case after αμελησαντεςamelēsantes Correlative pronoun of age, but used of size in the N.T. (James 3:4; 2 Corinthians 1:10).

(ητιςhētis). “Which very salvation,” before described, now summarized.

Having at the first been spoken
(αρχην λαβουσα λαλεισταιarchēn labousa laleisthai). Literally, “having received a beginning to be spoken,” “having begun to be spoken,” a common literary Koiné idiom (Polybius, etc.).

Through the Lord
(δια του κυριουdia tou kuriou). The Lord Jesus who is superior to angels. Jesus was God‘s full revelation and he is the source of this new and superior revelation.

Was confirmed
(εβεβαιωτηebebaiōthē). First aorist passive indicative of βεβαιοωbebaioō from βεβαιοςbebaios (stable), old verb as in 1 Corinthians 1:6.

By them that heard
(υπο των ακουσαντωνhupo tōn akousantōn). Ablative case with υποhupo of the articular first aorist active participle of ακουωakouō Those who heard the Lord Jesus. Only one generation between Jesus and the writer. Paul (Galatians 1:11) got his message directly from Christ.

Verse 4

God also bearing witness with them (συνεπιμαρτυρουντος του τεουsunepimarturountos tou theou). Genitive absolute with the present active participle of the late double compound verb συνεπιμαρτυρεωsunepimartureō to join (συνsun) in giving additional (επιepi) testimony (μαρτυρεωmartureō). Here only in N.T., but in Aristotle, Polybius, Plutarch.

Both by signs (σημειοις τε καιsēmeiois te kai) and wonders (και τερασινkai terasin) and by manifold powers (και ποικιλαις δυναμεσινkai poikilais dunamesin) and by gifts of the Holy Ghost (και πνευματος αγιου μερισμοιςkai pneumatos hagiou merismois). Instrumental case used with all four items. See Acts 2:22 for the three words for miracles in inverse order (powers, wonders, signs). Each word adds an idea about the εργαerga (works) of Christ. ΤεραςTeras (wonder) attracts attention, δυναμιςdunamis (power) shows God‘s power, σημειονsēmeion reveals the purpose of God in the miracles. For ποικιλαιςpoikilais (manifold, many-coloured) see Matthew 4:24; James 1:2. For μερισμοςmerismos for distribution (old word, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 4:12) see 1Cor 12:4-30.

According to his own will
(κατα την αυτου τελησινkata tēn autou thelēsin). The word τελησιςthelēsis is called a vulgarism by Pollux. The writer is fond of words in -ιςis f0).

Verse 5

For not unto angels (ου γαρ αγγελοιςou gar aggelois). The author now proceeds to show (Hebrews 2:5-18) that the very humanity of Jesus, the Son of Man, likewise proves his superiority to angels.

The world to come (την οικουμενην την μελλουσανtēn oikoumenēn tēn mellousan). The new order, the salvation just described. See a like use of μελλωmellō (as participle) with σωτηριαsōtēria (Hebrews 1:14), αιωνaiōn (Hebrews 6:4.), αγαταagatha (Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1), πολιςpolis (Hebrews 13:14).

Whereof we speak
(περι ης λαλουμενperi hēs laloumen). The author is discussing this new order introduced by Christ which makes obsolete the old dispensation of rites and symbols. God did not put this new order in charge of angels.

Verse 6

But one somewhere (δε που τιςde pou tis). See Hebrews 4:4 for a like indefinite quotation. Philo uses this “literary mannerism” (Moffatt). He quotes Psalm 8:5-7 and extends here to Hebrews 2:8.

Hath testified (διεμαρτυρατοdiemarturato). First aorist middle indicative of διαμαρτυρομαιdiamarturomai old verb to testify vigorously (Acts 2:40).

(ΤιTi). Neuter, not masculine τιςtis (who). The insignificance of man is implied.

The son of man
(υιος αντρωπουhuios anthrōpou). Not ο υιος του αντρωπουho huios tou anthrōpou which Jesus used so often about himself, but literally here “son of man” like the same words so often in Ezekiel, without Messianic meaning here.

(επισκεπτηιepiskeptēi). Second person singular present indicative middle of επισκεπτομαιepiskeptomai old verb to look upon, to look after, to go to see (Matthew 25:36), from which verb επισχοποςepiscopos overseer, bishop, comes.

Verse 7

Thou madest him a little lower (ελαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τιelattōsas auton brachu ti). First aorist active of old verb ελαττοωelattoō from ελαττωνelattōn (less), causative verb to lessen, to decrease, to make less, only here, and Hebrews 2:9 and John 3:30 in N.T. ραχυ τιBrachu ti is accusative neuter of degree like 2 Samuel 16:1, “some little,” but of time in Isaiah 57:17 (for a little while).

Than the angels (παρ αγγελουςpar' aggelous). “Beside angels” like παραpara with the accusative of comparison in Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 1:9. The Hebrew here has υοι τεουElohim which word is applied to judges in Psalm 82:1, Psalm 82:6 (John 10:34.). Here it is certainly not “God” in our sense. In Psalm 29:1 the lxx translates εστεπανωσαςElohim by στεπανοωhuoi theou (sons of God).

Thou crownedst
(estephanōsas). First aorist active indicative of old verb, stephanoō to crown, in N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 2:5 The Psalmist refers to God‘s purpose in creating man with such a destiny as mastery over nature. The rest of Hebrews 2:7 is absent in B.

Verse 8

In that he subjected (εν τωι υποταχαιen tōi hupotaxai). First aorist active articular infinitive of υπατασσωhupatassō in the locative case, “in the subjecting.”

He left (απηκενaphēken). First aorist active indicative (kappa aorist) of απιημιaphiēmi

Nothing that is not subject to him
(ουδεν αυτωι ανυποτακτονouden autōi anupotakton). Later verbal of υποτασσωhupotassō with αa privative. Here in passive sense, active sense in 1 Timothy 1:9. Man‘s sovereignty was meant to be all-inclusive including the administration of “the world to come.” “He is crowned king of nature, invested with a divine authority over creation” (Moffatt). But how far short of this destiny has man come!

But now we see not yet
(νυν δε ουπω ορωμενnun de oupō horōmen). Not even today in the wonderful twentieth century with man‘s triumphs over nature has he reached that goal, wonderful as are the researches by the help of telescope and microscope, the mechanism of the airplane, the submarine, steam, electricity, radio.

Verse 9

Even Jesus (ΙησουνIēsoun). We do not see man triumphant, but we do see Jesus, for the author is not ashamed of his human name, realizing man‘s destiny, “the very one who has been made a little lower than the angels” (τον βραχυ τι παρ αγγελους ηλαττωμενονton brachu ti par' aggelous ēlattōmenon), quoting and applying the language of the Psalm in Hebrews 2:7 to Jesus (with article τονton and the perfect passive participle of ελατταωelattaō). But this is not all. Death has defeated man, but Jesus has conquered death.

Because of the suffering of death (δια το πατημα του τανατουdia to pathēma tou thanatou). The causal sense of διαdia with the accusative as in Hebrews 2:14. Jesus in his humanity was put lower than the angels “for a little while” (βραχυ τιbrachu ti). Because of the suffering of death we see (βλεπομενblepomen) Jesus crowned (εστεπανωμενονestephanōmenon perfect passive participle of στεπανοωstephanoō from Hebrews 2:7), crowned already “with glory and honour” as Paul shows in Philemon 2:9-11 (more highly exalted, υπερυπσωσενhuperupsōsen) “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” There is more glory to come to Jesus surely, but he is already at God‘s right hand (Hebrews 1:3).

That by the grace of God he should taste death for every man
(οπως χαριτι τεου υπερ παντος γευσηται τανατουhopōs chariti theou huper pantos geusētai thanatou). This purpose clause (οπωςhopōs instead of the more usual ιναhina) is pregnant with meaning. The author interprets and applies the language of the Psalm to Jesus and here puts Christ‘s death in behalf of (υπερhuper), and so instead of, every man as the motive for his incarnation and death on the Cross. The phrase to taste death (γευομαι τανατουgeuomai thanatou) occurs in the Gospels (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; John 8:52), though not in the ancient Greek. It means to see death (Hebrews 11:5), “a bitter experience, not a rapid sip” (Moffatt). His death was in behalf of every one (not everything as the early Greek theologians took it). The death of Christ (Andrew Fuller) was sufficient for all, efficient for some. It is all “by the grace (χαριτιchariti instrumental case) of God,” a thoroughly Pauline idea. Curiously enough some MSS. read χωρις τεουchōris theou (apart from God) in place of χαριτι τεουchariti theou Nestorian doctrine whatever the origin.

Verse 10

It became him (επρεπεν αυτωιeprepen autōi). Imperfect active of πρεπωprepō old verb to stand out, to be becoming or seemly. Here it is impersonal with τελειωσαιteleiōsai as subject, though personal in Hebrews 7:26. ΑυτωιAutōi (him) is in the dative case and refers to God, not to Christ as is made plain by τον αρχηγονton archēgon (author). One has only to recall John 3:16 to get the idea here. The voluntary humiliation or incarnation of Christ the Son a little lower than the angels was a seemly thing to God the Father as the writer now shows in a great passage (Hebrews 2:10-18) worthy to go beside Philemon 2:5-11.

For whom (δι ονdi' hon). Referring to αυτωιautōi (God) as the reason (cause) for the universe (τα πανταta panta).

Through whom
(δι ουdi' hou). With the genitive διαdia expresses the agent by whom the universe came into existence, a direct repudiation of the Gnostic view of intermediate agencies (aeons) between God and the creation of the universe. Paul puts it succinctly in Romans 11:36 by his εχ αυτου και δι αυτου και εις αυτον τα πανταex autou kai di' autou kai eis auton ta panta The universe comes out of God, by means of God, for God. This writer has already said that God used his Son as the Agent (δι ουdi' hou) in creation (Hebrews 1:2), a doctrine in harmony with Colossians 1:15. (εν αυτωι δι αυτου εις αυτονen autōi class="normal greek">αγαγοντα — di' autou eis auton) and John 1:3.

In bringing
(αγωagagonta). Second aorist active participle of αυτωιagō in the accusative case in spite of the dative τον αρχηγονautōi just before to which it refers.

The author
(αρχηton archēgon). Old compound word (αγωarchē and τελειωσαιagō) one leading off, leader or prince as in Acts 5:31, one blazing the way, a pioneer (Dods) in faith (Hebrews 12:2), author (Acts 3:15). Either sense suits here, though author best (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus is the author of salvation, the leader of the sons of God, the Elder Brother of us all (Romans 8:29).

To make perfect
(τελειοωteleiōsai). First aorist active infinitive of τελειοςteleioō (from teleios). If one recoils at the idea of God making Christ perfect, he should bear in mind that it is the humanity of Jesus that is under discussion. The writer does not say that Jesus was sinful (see the opposite in Hebrews 4:15), but simply that “by means of sufferings” God perfected his Son in his human life and death for his task as Redeemer and Saviour. One cannot know human life without living it. There was no moral imperfection in Jesus, but he lived his human life in order to be able to be a sympathizing and effective leader in the work of salvation.

Verse 11

He that sanctifieth (ο αγιαζωνho hagiazōn). Present active articular participle of αγιαζωhagiazō Jesus is the sanctifier (Hebrews 9:13.; Hebrews 13:12).

They that are sanctified (οι αγιαζομενοιhoi hagiazomenoi). Present passive articular participle of αγιαζωhagiazō It is a process here as in Hebrews 10:14, not a single act, though in Hebrews 10:10 the perfect passive indicative presents a completed state.

Of one
(εχ ενοςex henos). Referring to God as the Father of Jesus and of the “many sons” above (Hebrews 2:10) and in harmony with Hebrews 2:14 below. Even before the incarnation Jesus had a kinship with men though we are not sons in the full sense that he is.

He is not ashamed
(ουκ επαισχυνεταιouk epaischunetai). Present passive indicative of επαισχυνομαιepaischunomai old compound (Romans 1:16). Because of the common Father Jesus is not ashamed to own us as “brothers” (αδελπουςadelphous), unworthy sons though we be.

Verse 12

Unto my brethren (τοις αδελποις μουtois adelphois mou). To prove his point the writer quotes Psalm 22:22 when the Messiah is presented as speaking “unto my brethren.”

Congregation (εκκλησιαςekklēsias). The word came to mean the local church and also the general church or kingdom (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 12:23). Here we have the picture of public worship and the Messiah sharing it with others as we know Jesus often did.

Verse 13

I will put my trust in him (Εγω εσομαι πεποιτως επ αυτωιEgō esomai pepoithōs ep' autōi). A rare periphrastic (intransitive) future perfect of πειτωpeithō a quotation from Isaiah 8:17. The author represents the Messiah as putting his trust in God as other men do (cf. Hebrews 12:2). Certainly Jesus did this constantly. The third quotation (και παλινkai palin And again) is from Isaiah 8:18 (the next verse), but the Messiah shows himself closely linked with the children (παιδιαpaidia) of God, the sons (υιοιhuioi) of Hebrews 2:10.

Verse 14

Are sharers in flesh and blood (κεκοινωνηκεν αιματος και σαρκοςkekoinōnēken haimatos kai sarkos). The best MSS. read “blood and flesh.” The verb is perfect active indicative of κοινωνεωkoinōneō old verb with the regular genitive, elsewhere in the N.T. with the locative (Romans 12:13) or with ενen or ειςeis “The children have become partners (κοινωνοιkoinōnoi) in blood and flesh.”

Partook (μετεσχεmetesche). Second aorist active indicative of μετεχωmetechō to have with, a practical synonym for κοινωνεωkoinōneō and with the genitive also (των αυτωνtōn autōn). That he might bring to naught (ινα καταργησηιhina katargēsēi). Purpose of the incarnation clearly stated with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of καταργεωkatargeō old word to render idle or ineffective (from κατα αργοςkata class="normal greek">κρατος — argos), causative verb (25 times in Paul), once in Luke (Luke 13:7), once in Hebrews (here). “By means of death” (his own death) Christ broke the power (τουτ εστινkratos) of the devil over death (paradoxical as it seems), certainly in men‘s fear of death and in some unexplained way Satan had sway over the realm of death (Zechariah 3:5.). Note the explanatory tout' estin (that is) with the accusative after it as before it. In Revelation 12:7 Satan is identified with the serpent in Eden, though it is not done in the Old Testament. See Romans 5:12; John 8:44; John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 3:12. Death is the devil‘s realm, for he is the author of sin. “Death as death is no part of the divine order” (Westcott).

Verse 15

And might deliver (και απαλλαχηιkai apallaxēi). Further purpose with the first aorist active subjunctive of αππαλλασσωappallassō old verb to change from, to set free from, in N.T. only here, Luke 12:58; Acts 19:12.

Through fear of death (ποβωι τανατουphobōi thanatou). Instrumental case of ποβοςphobos The ancients had great fear of death though the philosophers like Seneca argued against it. There is today a flippant attitude towards death with denial of the future life and rejection of God. But the author of Hebrews saw judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27.). Hence our need of Christ to break the power of sin and Satan in death.

All their lifetime
(δια παντος του ζηινdia pantos tou zēin). Present active infinitive with παςpas and the article in the genitive case with διαdia “through all the living.”

Subject to bondage
(ενοχοι δουλειαςenochoi douleias). Old adjective from ενεχωenechō “held in,” “bound to,” with genitive, bond-slaves of fear, a graphic picture. Jesus has the keys of life and death and said: “I am the life.” Thank God for that.

Verse 16

Verily (δε πουde pou). “Now in some way,” only here in N.T.

Doth he take hold (επιλαμβανεταιepilambanetai). Present middle indicative and means to lay hold of, to help, like βοητησαιboēthēsai in Hebrews 2:18.

The seed of Abraham
(σπερματος Αβρααμspermatos Abraham). The spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29), children of faith (Romans 9:7).

Verse 17

Wherefore (οτενhothen). Old relative adverb (οho and enclitic τενthen whence of place (Matthew 12:44), of source (1 John 2:18), of cause as here and often in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:18; Hebrews 11:19).

It behoved him (ωπειλενōpheilen). Imperfect active of οπειλωopheilō old verb to owe, money (Matthew 18:28), service and love (Romans 13:8), duty or obligation as here and often in N.T. (Luke 17:10). Jesus is here the subject and the reference is to the incarnation. Having undertaken the work of redemption (John 3:16), voluntarily (John 10:17), Jesus was under obligation to be properly equipped for that priestly service and sacrifice.

In all things
(κατα πανταkata panta). Except yielding to sin (Hebrews 4:15) and yet he knew what temptation was, difficult as it may be for us to comprehend that in the Son of God who is also the Son of man (Mark 1:13). Jesus fought through to victory over Satan.

To be made like unto his brethren
(τοις αδελποις ομοιωτηναιtois adelphois homoiōthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of ομοιοωhomoioō old and common verb from ομοιοςhomoios (like), as in Matthew 6:8, with the associative instrumental case as here. Christ, our Elder Brother, resembles us in reality (Philemon 2:7 “in the likeness of men”) as we shall resemble him in the end (Romans 8:29 “first-born among many brethren”; 1 John 3:2 “like him”), where the same root is used as here (οιωμα ομοιοςhoiōma class="normal greek">ινα γενηται — homoios). That he might be (ιναhina genētai). Purpose clause with γινομαιhina and the second aorist middle subjunctive of ελεημων και πιστος αρχιερευςginomai to become, “that he might become.” That was only possible by being like his brethren in actual human nature.

Merciful and faithful high priest
(αρχιερευςeleēmōn kai pistos archiereus). The sudden use of ελεημωνarchiereus here for Jesus has been anticipated by Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9 and see Hebrews 3:1. Jesus as the priest-victim is the chief topic of the Epistle. These two adjectives (πιστοςeleēmōn and τα προς τον τεονpistos) touch the chief points in the function of the high priest (Hebrews 5:1-10), sympathy and fidelity to God. The Sadducean high priests (Annas and Caiaphas) were political and ecclesiastical tools and puppets out of sympathy with the people and chosen by Rome.

In things pertaining to God
(τα προς τον τεονta pros ton theon). The adverbial accusative of the article is a common idiom. See the very idiom προςta pros ton theon in Exodus 18:19; Romans 15:17. This use of εις το ιλασκεσταιpros we had already in Hebrews 1:7. On the day of atonement the high priest entered the holy of holies and officiated in behalf of the people.

To make propitiation for
(εις τοeis to hilaskesthai). Purpose clause with ιλασκομαιeis to and the infinitive (common Greek idiom), here present indirect middle of ιλαοςhilaskomai to render propitious to oneself (from ιλεωςhilaos Attic ιλαστητιhileōs gracious). This idea occurs in the lxx (Psalm 65:3), but only here in N.T., though in Luke 18:13 the passive form (ιλασμοςhilasthēti) occurs as in 2 Kings 5:18. In 1 John 2:2 we have hilasmos used of Christ (cf. Hebrews 7:25). The inscriptions illustrate the meaning in Hebrews 2:17 as well as the lxx.

Verse 18

In that (εν ωιen hōi). Literally, “In which” (= εν τουτωι εν ωιen toutōi en hōi in that in which), a causal idea, though in Romans 14:22 εν ωιen hōi means “wherein.”

Hath suffered (πεποντενpeponthen). Second perfect active indicative of πασχωpaschō permanent part of Christ‘s experience.

Being tempted
(πειραστειςpeirastheis). First aorist passive participle of πειραζωpeirazō The temptation to escape the shame of the Cross was early and repeatedly presented to Christ, by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-11), by Peter in the spirit of Satan (Matthew 16:22.), in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39), and caused intense suffering to Jesus (Luke 22:44; Hebrews 5:8).

He is able
(δυναταιdunatai). This word strikes the heart of it all. Christ‘s power to help is due not merely to his deity as God‘s Son, but also to his humanity without which he could not sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15).

To succour
(βοητησαιboēthēsai). First aorist active infinitive of the old compound verb βοητεωboētheō (βοηboē a cry, τεωtheō to run), to run at a cry or call for help (Matthew 15:25).

Them that are tempted
(τοις πειραζομενοιςtois peirazomenois). Dative plural of the articular participle (present passive) of πειραζωpeirazō These Jewish Christians were daily tempted to give up Christ, to apostatize from Christianity. Jesus understands himself (αυτοςautos) their predicament and is able to help them to be faithful.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 19th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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