Notes on Hebrews
Word Studies In Chapter Two
The word “subjection” (V. 8) is a military term which means marshalling or arranging in a new order. Thus the world to come is to be arranged in a new order under the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word “lower” is found three times in the New Testament; In John 3:30, “I must decrease:” Man’s exaltation of Christ; the governed; in Hebrews 2:7, “Thou madest Him lower:” God’s exaltation of Christ: the Governor; in Hebrews 2:9, “Who was made lower:” God’s exaltation of Christ: the Goal.
Psalm 8 is quoted three times in the New Testament and refers to the glorification of Christ, in relation to the ages (Heb. 2:6), to death (1 Cor. 15:27), and to the Church (Eph. 1:22).
The word “captain” occurs four times in the New Testament: as the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15): Christ is the source of life; as “Prince and Saviour” (Acts 5:31): He is the lesson on suffering; “The Captain (Pioneer) of our salvation” (Heb. 2:10): He is the lover of souls; “Author and Finisher of faith” (Heb. 12:2): He is the Leader of His servants.
The word “taste” occurs three times in Hebrews: “He tasted death for every man” (2:9): the paradox of Eternity: “Tasted of the heavenly gift” (6:4): the perfections of salvation; “Tasted the good Word of God” (6:5): the pasture of enjoyment.
In the first two chapters the writer, with magnificent language has skillfully proved that the Lord Jesus is: (a) greater than the prophets in His superiority, (b) greater than the angels in His supremacy, (c) greater than Adam in His sovereignity, (d) greater than Joseph in His sufferings, (e) greater than Boaz in His strength, (f) greater than Aaron in His sympathy.
Here in chapter 3 he goes on to prove that Christ is greater than Moses in His sufficiency. As the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (v.1), He is the antitype of Moses and Aaron. These two titles are combined to show us that by His prophetic direction, through the Word of God, and His priestly representation on our behalf at God’s right hand, He is sufficient to enable us to realize and enjoy the rest of God.
It seems clear that three aspects of God’s rest are before us in chapters 3 and 4. The rest of redemption is the rest of the soul in the sweet assurance of our acceptance in Christ, in all the value of atonement (4:10). This is the Sabbath of the soul. Then there is the rest of obedience (4:1, 11). Joshua (4:8) was not able to lead Israel into this rest because of the unbelief of the people. The third aspect is “the rest that remaineth” (4:9). These three aspects of God’s rest have their counterpart in Matthew 11:28-30, Revelation 14:13. There are three conditions of heart mentioned in this chapter which resulted in defeat for Israel in the realization of God’s rest: the hardened heart that provoked God to wrath (v.8); the erring heart that grieved God (v.10) and the unbelieving heart that resisted God’s purposes of love for them (v.19). Thus Israel came short of God’s rest because they doubted the power of God, the love of God (Num. 13:31, 14:2-3), and the Word of God (4:2).
The all-sufficiency of Christ in contrast to the limitations of Moses is described by three couplets of words; first, “in” and “over” (vv. 5-6); Moses was “in” the house, Christ was “over” the house; the second, “servant” and “Son” (vv. 5-6); Moses was a servant, Christ is the Son: third, “builded” and “house” (v.3); Moses, with Israel was the house, Christ was the Builder. To the Jew the greatest thing in all the world was the Law. Moses and the Law were looked upon as one and the same thing. By choosing his words carefully the writer proves that the Law itself, personified in Moses, falls far short of the One who is described as “so much better.”
The writer uses a very interesting word when he asks the readers to “consider Him.” There are three distinctly different words translated “consider” in the New Testament, but the one used here is most distinctive. It is the Greek word “Kataneo” — literally, to be observant. It does not mean merely to look at or notice a thing, but rather to fix one’s attention on that thing and learn the inner meaning of it after long and careful consideration. It is the same word that is used in James 1:24, concerning the man who, beholding his face in a glass goeth away and forgetteth what manner of man he was (He was not observant). So when the writer says “consider Him” he means that we should fix our attention on Him, learn from Him and make Him the object of our lives.
Another very interesting word used by the writer with respect to Moses is the word “servant.” Paul calls himself “a servant of Christ,” but uses the word “doulos” which really means a slave. This is not the word used here. Frequently the word “Diakonos” is translated servant or minister and it has special emphasis on the function or task of the individual, but this is not the word used here. The peculiar word used of Moses is the word “therapon.” It is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It describes one whose service is that of freedom and dignity. We are reminded of the epitaph erected by God over the unknown grave of Moses, “There arose not a prophet in Israel like unto Moses whom the Lord knew face to face.” What a need today for men like Moses!
The writer in the latter part of the chapter introduces another great subject — the possibility of not entering into God’s rest. “The rest” to the Israelite was the possession of the land of Canaan. But the inheritance could only be possessed by conflict and victory. Chapter 4 develops the subject of “The rest” in more detail and what it represents in New Testament language. As the Sabbath rest is typical of our rest in Christ from sin and fear and rejection, Canaan rest, as used in this particular context, refers to that rest in the will of God that is gained in spiritual conflict and victory (Eph. 6:10-18).
There is one word used five times in this chapter. Its repetition underlines its importance. It is the word “today.” In effect, the Spirit of God is saying that the precious hours of life are the time to enter into all the blessings God intends us to enjoy and to accomplish the tasks He has given us to perform. A modern writer has suggested, “Be good to time, it is the thing of which life is made.” Today, all that is required for a life of godliness and victory, is available to us from the rich storehouse of God’s goodness, if only we lay hold upon it by faith.
In this connection there is a warning and an encouragement in a word that is used only twice in the Hebrew Epistle; it is the word “to fall” (4:11, 11:30). In chapter 4:11, it describes those only who fell through unbelief and in Chapter 11:30, it describes the walls of Jericho falling by the victorious faith of the Israelites. The walls of Jericho may represent to us those insurmountable barriers that so often confront the Christians. So on the one hand we see Christians who fall by a lack of faith and on the other hand we see problems and difficulties fall because of an exercise of faith. When we stop to consider it in its practical application, faith really makes the difference between a successful, vibrant Christian life and one that is weak, useless and defeated.
Finally, in our meditation on chapter 3, a very distinctive word is used in verse 10, “to err.” There are three possible words that could have been used: (a) “Astokeo” — literally —not aiming at. This word is used only in 1 Timothy 1:6, 6:21 and 2 Timothy 2:18. In these three passages we have certain Christians coming short in the exercise of the three Christian virtues, love, faith and hope. (b) “Apoplaneo” — literally—to be seduced. It is used in 1 Timothy 6:10… coveted money and “erred from the faith.” (c) “Planeo” — literally — to go off the path. This is the word that is used here. It is used on two other occasions in Hebrews: chapter 5:2 — the high priest “could have compassion on them that are out of the way” chapter 11:38 “… wandered in the desert.” Hence the very people that erred (went off the path) are the people subject to the aid and compassion of the Great High Priest.
The three words could be summerized as follows with the appropriate defence against such problems in our Christian lives: “Astokeo” — Our Object is Christ, “Apoplaneo” — Our Occupation with Christ, “Planeo” —Our Obedience to Christ.