Notes on Hebrews
If in chapter one Christ is all glorious in His Deity, in chapter two He is all perfect in His humanity. In chapter two there are two main divisions: the great salvation (1-4); the great Saviour (5-18).
The Great Salvation (2:1-4).
The greatness of this salvation is seen in that the Divine Trinity gives it authenticity and value. To turn from it is to turn from the voice of God to the mere opinions of men. Four arguments are presented as a warning not to neglect it:
The greatness of its message: The word “Therefore” refers back to chapter one where Christ, after making purification for sins, is seen taking His seat on the throne as Saviour in all the dignity of His person. Because of Atonement made by Christ, there is a message of deliverance for the sinner from the debt of sin, from the defilement of sin, and from the dominion of sin.
The greatness of its Author: Christ first proclaimed this salvation, and then died to give it a solid foundation in His own propitiation.
The greatness of its authority: Its attestations are so strong that man is left without excuse if he neglects it. By the word of the Lord Jesus, the witness of the Father, and the power of the Holy Ghost, it is presented as worthy of man’s acceptation.
The greatness of the doom of those who neglect it: Although its message is full of the love of God, it reveals also the power of His anger: “Behold (in it) the goodness and severity of God.”
The expression in verse one, “Let them slip,” is really a metaphor; the picture of a boat that has slipped its anchor and is drifting to destruction. The drifting is not so much from the words of this salvation as it is from Christ Himself.
The word “ought” has the meaning of necessity and occurs three times in the Epistle: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed” (2:1): the revelation of divine truths; “For then must He often have suffered” (9:26): the revelation of divine atonement; “He that cometh to God must believe that He is” (11:6): the revelation of divine truth.
The word “neglect” is found five times in the New Testament: “They made light of it” (Matt. 22:5): the blessing of fellowship; “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Tim. 4:14): the blessing of service; “Neglect so great salvation” (Heb. 2:3): the blessing of security; “I regarded them not” (Heb. 8:9): the blessing of divine instruction; “I will not be negligent” (2 Pet. 1:12): the blessing of fruitfulness.
The expression “recompense of reward” is one word; in this or another form it is used four times in Hebrews: “Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward” (2:2): the payment of sin; “Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward” (10:35): the prospect of faith; “He (Moses) had respect unto the recompense of the reward (11:26): the purpose of suffering; “He (God) is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (11:6): the potency of prayer in the Holy Ghost.
The will of God is mentioned five times in Hebrews: “Gifts … according to the will of God” (2:4): the will of God for the equipment of the Church; “I come to do Thy will, O God” (10:7-9): the will of God expressed in the Son; “By which will we are sanctified” (10:10): the will of God embraces the saints; “After doing the will of God” (10:36): the will of God gives rest. “To do His will” (13:21): the will of God enriches the obedient.
The Glorious Saviour (2:5-18).
In these verses the greatness of the Man Christ Jesus is seen in four phases: He is greater than Adam in His sovereignty (5-9): the Ruler; He is greater than Joseph in His suffering (10:13): the Saviour; He is greater than Boaz in His strength(14:15): the Kinsman; He is greater than Aaron in His sympathy (16:18): the Priest.
Greater than Adam in His sovereignty: “The first man was not a savage. He wore the crown of reason, conscience, and moral freedom.” Psalm 8 is quoted in verses 6-8 to show: Adam’s dignity in the divine plan to rule; Adam’s delight in the divine pleasure to fellowship; Adam’s dominion in the divine power to subdue.
Adam fell under divine probation and consequently lost his power and right to represent God as prophet, priest and king. Man, therefore, is like a prince dethroned and in disgrace. Will God’s plan in the creation of man be lost? Decidedly not! The purpose of the condescension of Christ was to lift man out of his disgrace and degradation, and restore to him the dignity he lost through the fall.
The humiliation of the Lord Jesus, according to this chapter, had a fourfold necessity: to satisfy and glorify God (V. 10), to scatter the domain of Satan (Vs. 14:15), to sacrifice Himself for sin (V. 17), and to succour the redeemed the whole way home (V. 18).
Greater than Joseph in His suffering: The sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ are referred to three times in this chapter: He suffered to deliver us from death (V. 9), to lead us to glory (V. 10), and to secure us against the perils along the way (V. 18).
“Death” is mentioned five times in the chapter: three times it is related to the sufferings of Christ; through death He entered priesthood (v. 17). This follows the order of the Book of Leviticus where the first seven chapters are occupied with sacrifice, and where the eighth deals with priesthood. Death is the basis upon which Christ brings many sons unto glory (V. 10). Through death Christ delivers His people from disabilities in worship: the fear of death, the liking for sins, and the weaknesses of nature (Vs. 14-18).
Greater than Boaz in His strength: The redeemer of articles or persons in the Old Testament had to meet three requiremnts: he had to be a kinsman, had to be willing and able to redeem, and be prepared to be the avenger of a slain relative. The Lord Jesus met all these: He became our kinsman by assuming humanity, apart from sin (V. 14); He was both willing and able to redeem (10:7); and in death, He avenged us of our enemy (V. 14). The truth of redemption is linked with that of inheritance. Like Boaz’ love for Ruth which led him to buy both Ruth and the inheritance, our Lord loved the Church and gave Himself for her, and in so doing purchased both His people and the inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for us.
It is interesting to note in the New Testament the three aspects of redemption intimated by the three Greek words: “Agorazo” means to buy and suggests possession (1 Cor. 6:20. Rev. 5:9). “Xagorazo” means to save being wasted and suggests purpose (Eph. 5:16. Gal. 4:5; 3:13). “Lutroo” means to liberate on receipt of ransom and suggests preciousness (Titus 2:14, 1 Pet. 1:18). All this is beautifully illustrated by the laws controlling the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25). For a brother waxen poor (Lev. 25:25), redemption would mean possession; for a dwelling in a walled city that was sold (v. 29), redemption would mean the restoration of a lost purpose; for a brother who was poor and fallen into decay (V. 35), redemption would show him how precious he was to his redeemer.
Greater than Aaron in His sympathy: The words translated “glory and honor” (v. 9) are the Greek equivalents of the Hebrew words “glory and beauty” in the description of the garments of Israel’s high priest (Exod. 28:2).
Three times over in Exodus 28 we read of “the engravings of a signet” in connection with what the high priest bore before the Lord: He bore the names of Israel upon his shoulders (V. 11), and upon his breast (V. 21), and he bore “the iniquity of the holy things” in the mitre upon his brow (V. 36). How well all this points to a greater than Aaron! His people are upon the shoulders of Christ’s strength (Heb. 2:18); the breast of His love (4:15), and upon the brow of His wisdom (4:16). The blessed Spirit whom He imparts to us is called the “Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Only by His power and love and wisdom can we successfully live our lives approved unto God.
Atonement and priesthood through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus lead to a fourfold relationship: We are sons with Him in the same family, “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” (V. 11); that is, all of one nature and one Father. Of course, Christ is the Son in a unique sense; and we are sons by adoption. We are worshippers with Him in the same choir, “In the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee.” We are believers with Him in the same path of faith, “I will put my trust in Him” (V. 13). He has trodden the same path by which He leads His people home. We are children in the security of the Firstborn, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given Me” (V. 14). The picture is that of the firstborn to whom the father has committed the younger members of the family for care and protection. Similarly, Christ brings all safely home and says to all Heaven, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given Me,” they are all here; I have lost none.