Scriptures

Hebrews 2

Introduction

Chapter 2 begins by presenting the author’s exhortation to his audience now that he has argued the superiority of the Son over angels and over the message given through the prophets.

“Therefore we must pay the most careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away”. Hebrews 2:1

Now we come to the theme of the sermon, encouraging these Christians to not give up. This “therefore” in Hebrews 2:1 reaches back to the introduction of the writing.

Since God has spoken in these last days through the Son, we must pay the most careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away. The writer says to look and listen more carefully to the message of the Son.

All of us listen to something. We make provisions to listen to the things we want to listen to. I listen to sports, financial, and Christian music. We position ourselves to listen to the radio or listen to the television. We make ourselves ready to listen.

But do we make ourselves ready to listen to the message of the Son? Are we positioning ourselves to hear the Word of God?

Do we make the time to read as we ought? Do we make the time to study? Do we think about the message of Christ? Are we listening to the Word of God?

The point is that we make provisions to listen to the things we want to listen to. We make the time to listen to various others things and watch certain things. But are we making time to listen to the Son? We must pay the most careful attention to the message of the Son.

The reason is so that we “do not drift away”. The imagery that this conjures in our mind is intended by the author. It is a picture of floating away or slipping away. We must pay the most careful attention or else we are simply going to float away from God.

As someone once said, ‘going to hell is not hard, we just drift there’. Do nothing and you will float yourself right into eternal punishment. Reaching God requires our utmost determination and effort. So pay attention, the writer says. Listen carefully so that we do not drift away.

“For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Hebrews 2:2-3

Now, here is an additional reason why we need to pay the closest attention. The argument is built upon the revelation of the Law of Moses and the reliability of that law. The Law of Moses was given through angels and proved to be firm and reliable. Acts 7:53 / Galatians 3:19.

There is no question about that law and its validity, and it was given through angels. We know, therefore, that the message of Jesus is valid because it was given through Him as the Son. As chapter one argued, the Son is greater than angels in every respect.

Further, every transgression and every disobedience received a just retribution. This is one of the important lessons we learn from a study of the Hebrew Scriptures. We read about punishment being dealt by God for those who were disobedient in Israel. We read the stories of Korah, Achan, Uzzah, David, and many more.

We learn the fact that a just punishment is given. So how can we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

How can we possibly think that we will not come under severe punishment and not receive a just retribution for neglecting the message given by the Son?

If the message declared by angels brought a just retribution to the disobedient, how much more for us if we neglect the message declared by the Son?

There is no escape for our neglect. Consider also that neglect is the opposite of paying the most careful attention, which we were commanded to do in Hebrews 2:1. Do not neglect the message because you will drift away. In drifting away, we will receive a just retribution for neglecting the message of the Son.

“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:3-4

This message of salvation was first declared by the Lord Jesus. This already makes the message superior to the Law of Moses, whose law came through angels. Further, the message of salvation was confirmed by those who heard. There were eyewitnesses who saw and heard the Lord Jesus. 1 John 1:1-3.

Notice that the writer does not include himself in the group of those who heard directly from the Lord. This point is enough for proof that Paul is not the author of this letter. God also testified to this message of salvation through the Son through signs, wonders, various miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels you crowned them with glory and honour and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:5-9

Notice that we are continuing this comparison to angels. The world to come has not been subjected to angels. What is “the world to come”? The author helps us by saying, “about which we are speaking.”

Has the writer been talking about the end of the world? No. Has the writer been talking about some future world? No.

He has been talking about the superiority of the Son, the Messiah.

“The world to come” is simply a reference to the new order of things in the Messianic kingdom. Remember that he is writing to those with a Jewish background and is telling them about the superiority of things in the kingdom of the Son. Those things in the Messianic kingdom have not been subjected to angels.

Now the writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 8. A difficult question arises with this quotation, is the author referring to people or is he referring exclusively to the Son?

First, the word “man” in verse 6 is a translation of the Greek word ‘anthropos’ which means “human beings.” It has no reference to gender. “Son of man” is the same thing. The son of a person is a person.

To answer our question, let’s go back to Psalm 8. Psalm 8 praises the Lord for His glorious creation. Carefully look at Psalm 8:3-8 and notice that the psalmist is talking about humans. God has made humans a little lower than the heavenly beings. God has crowned humans with glory and honour.

Further, God has given humans dominion over the works of God’s hands and all things are under the feet of humans. This praise reflects the teaching back in Genesis 1:28-30 where God gave dominion to humans over every created thing.

Now some think that this psalm about humanity is being altered by the writer of Hebrews and is now applied to Jesus as the son of man. But I do not think that is right and let me show you why.

Back to Hebrews 2:5-9. The writer is borrowing from Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 to remind the audience that God has placed humans on the earth to rule over the creation. All things are subject to humans. This is a good reminder for our environmentalists and animal rights activists.

While we need to be caretakers of the earth and not show brutality, animals are not higher than humans and the earth is not higher than people. God has placed humans at the top and all things created are under our feet.

Hebrews 2:8 wraps up by pointing out that we cannot even begin to comprehend all that this point entails. We do not fully see all that God has placed under our feet. We are so short-sighted and so unable to comprehend the great dominion that God has given us on this earth. Everything under our feet reflects that the whole created world in subjection to humans.

But there is something that we do see, according to Hebrews 2:9. In fact, it is ‘a someone’. But we do see Jesus. He also became a human for a little while. This is the thrust of the argument. The Son is superior because He became human. If the quotation is referring to Jesus, then Hebrews 2:9 does not make sense.

What makes sense is to use the psalmist argument about the dominion of humans over the created world and then point out that the Son became human. Therefore, the Son also has dominion. We see Jesus and we can see His dominion because He was crowned with glory and honour after tasting death for everyone. We have victory, deliverance, and dominion because of Jesus.

Now, this ties back to Hebrews 2:5, because the author is speaking about the ‘world to come’, that is, the Messianic kingdom. We cannot begin to fully see the dominion and rule we have.

In fact, the writer has already pointed out that angels were created, at least for one purpose, to serve those of us who are inheriting salvation. We cannot see that. We cannot see the inner workings of the spiritual realm and our place in that. But we do see Jesus. Jesus was made human and He was crowned with glory and honour. We do see that.

The writer is going to continue to argue that we share in that glory and honour. The Son became human, that makes Him greater than the angels for He was exalted in the end. So we also will share in that exaltation.

Conclusion

1. Pay the most careful attention to the message of salvation delivered by the Son.

The message of the Son is too often called a message of peace and grace, yet the writer declares that just retribution will come on those who neglect His message and drift away.

2. We are unable to see or fully understand the dominion and glory that God has prepared for us.

But we do see Jesus, who has been crowned with glory and honour. We share in that glory and victory because He became like us, a human. In fact, the Son is greater than angels because He became a human. The Son became like us and led the way.

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” Hebrews 2:10

In Hebrews 2:9 we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour and He rules on His throne. Hebrews 2:10 shows that we are sharing this glory, honour, and victory with Him.

“In bringing many children to glory” shows that we are joined with Him. God made Jesus the pioneer of our salvation through His suffering.

The word “pioneer” is the best translation I can find of this Greek word. The word carries with it the idea of being a trailblazer, breaking through new ground so that others can follow behind him. The word is also used of a prince, a leader, and a representative head of a family. Therefore, Jesus has blazed the trail and is leading the way for us to be crowned with glory and honour with Him.

What does it mean that ‘Jesus was made perfect through what He suffered’? The Greek word is ‘teleioo’ and it means “to bring to an end, to complete, to make perfect.” But, this word translated “perfect” can also refer to consecration. That is, a person is consecrated so that one can complete and finish a task.

You can see this to a degree in Exodus 29:1-9. In this text Moses is commanded by God to consecrated Aaron and his sons Exodus 29:1. The instructions are given about how this consecration would be accomplished. After these steps, notice Exodus 29:9, “Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”

After these steps, Aaron and his sons were made ready, consecrated, to accomplish their task as priest. This seems to be the most likely meaning of this word.

Jesus did not need to be made perfect in a moral sense because He was perfectly moral. Rather, the point is that through His suffering, Jesus was consecrated to His High Priestly ministry, to complete the task of bringing salvation to us, through suffering.

“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11

The writer of Hebrews continues that the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are one. Most translations add a word after “one,” but that word should be italicized because that word is supplied by the translators. I think part of the idea is that we are one family.

This is natural to the rest of the verse, describing us as brothers and sisters with Jesus. Because we are one is the reason why Jesus calls us brothers and sisters. We are now joined together ruling with Jesus in one family.

But there is another part when we reach back to the overall argument of chapters 1+2. Jesus is superior to angels. How is Jesus superior to angels in Hebrews 2? Jesus is superior because He was made human, tasted death for everyone, and was crowned with glory and honour. Therefore, we are one nature with Jesus.

In other words, Jesus is one of us. He is our trailblazer who is leading us into victory, joining us together as one family. Then we read these amazing words, “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

What a blessed thought that Jesus sees those who are made holy as His brothers and sisters.

“He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters in the assembly I will sing your praises.” Hebrews 2:12

To prove that we are brothers and sisters with Jesus, the writer of Hebrews quotes from two Hebrew passages. The first quotation comes from Psalm 22:22. This is a fascinating quote in light of the context.

Psalm 22 begins with the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” and ends with “It is finished.” These were some of the final words of Jesus while on the cross, directing the attention of those looking on to consider these prophecies and apply them to Jesus. John 19:30.

Psalm 22:22 begins the victory part of the psalm as God has answered His plea and brought deliverance. Verse 22 also applies to Jesus who will declare the deliverance of God to His brothers and sisters. Who are Jesus’ brothers and sisters? We are His brothers and sisters, the holy people of God.

In fact, key in on the word “assembly.” This is most frequently used to refer to the church, the saved people of God. Jesus raises from the dead, conquering death and bringing victory, declaring the power of God to us, His brothers and sisters.

“And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Hebrews 2:13

These two quotations come from Isaiah 8:17-18. The context of this prophecy is interesting because it is part of the Immanuel prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14. Immanuel means “God with us.” Matthew 1:23. Jesus is saying that He has put His trust in the Lord and God has given Jesus His children. Therefore we are brothers and sisters with Jesus.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18

The writer returns to the idea of our shared victory in Jesus after proving that we are brothers and sisters with Him. Jesus shared in flesh and blood with us so that He could break the power of Satan over us.

“Destroy” is the not the best word here. Jesus’ death did not destroy Satan’s power who holds the power of death. It means “to render powerless.” Jesus made the power of death that Satan has powerless.

Now we have no fear of death. We know that it is not the end for us. We know that we are no longer destined for eternal punishment for our sins.

To add to the theme of the argument, Jesus did not do all of these things to help angels, but to help us. The point is that He did not become the nature of angels to help angels. He took hold of human nature to help humans.

Further, we are ‘Abraham’s descendants’, the fulfilment of God’s promise. We are God’s people. We are His children. We are in His kingdom.

This is why Jesus was made like us, so that He could become a High Priest, full of mercy and faithfulness, making atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus had to be made like us to be able to represent us before God. Further, Jesus is making atonement (propitiation) for our sins.

This is a picture of God issuing mercy for us even though we sinned. Jesus is operating as High Priest on our behalf so that our sins can be covered by God’s mercy.

Then the writer of Hebrews goes one step further, declaring that Jesus suffered through temptations and can help us when we are tempted. Jesus becomes human and is able to help us in so many ways.

1. Jesus helps us by being human because He experienced death for us.

2. Jesus helps us by being human because He can be our brother.

3. Jesus helps us by being human because He can act as High Priest, making atonement for our sins.

4. Finally, Jesus helps us by being human because He is able to help us when we are tempted since He also suffered when He was tempted.

Six reasons Jesus became human, according to the text.

1. That God might consecrate (perfect) Him through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10

2. To render the power of Satan inoperative. Hebrews 2:14

3. Become a merciful and faithful High Priest. Hebrews 2:17

4. Help believers. Hebrews 2:16

5. Deliver humans from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:15

6. To rule the world. Hebrews 2:5-8

Go To Hebrews 3

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

Isaiah 53:5

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