Bible chapter and verse divisions are works of man and therefore artificial. Some chapter divisions seem to be in exactly the right place. But others, like this one, appear to divide the theme, causing it to seem disunited and making it more difficult to completely grasp the purpose of the passage. However, if one is prepared for this it can be overcome. In this case, simply read the last few verses of the last chapter and the first few verses of the current chapter as one paragraph. This will make the passage amply clear.
The theme of chapter one is that Jesus the Christ is infinitely superior to angels. Angels played a large part in revelation in the days before Christ. Angels came to Abraham, Lot, Hagar, Manoah, Moses, Gideon, Solomon, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and many others. They carried the message of God with them. Angels played a large part in revealing the will and words of God to men. They have a high office and a holy job yet they are ministering or serving spirits likened unto flames of fire. Angels are greater than men. Angels played a large part in prophecy in the Old Testament. But no matter how great, or strong, or awe-inspiring, or knowledgeable of God’s will and His words angels are, Jesus is greater than they.
Therefore, as great as angels are, and because Christ is greater than they, we must pay great attention to the faith as delivered by Christ, through the Apostles, and to the world. We must not allow the truth of the Gospel, which was delivered to us by those Apostles, to slip away and be lost.
Christ spoke all of the great foundations of the faith to those Apostles. Those precepts were delivered in life, as Jesus walked this earth, and after His death and resurrection. After He left, He sent His Holy Spirit to bring all the things He told them on Earth to remembrance.
Jesus Himself spoke of the wolves that would come and teach false doctrines, leading many astray (Matthew 7:15, Acts 20:29-30) . Jesus calls them ravening wolves. Thayer tells us that the word in the Greek (harpages, αρπαγες‚, from harpax αρπαξ, G727) means voracious or rapacious. The word ravening in English is defined as “living by preying on other animals, especially by catching living prey“. That is exactly what those false teachers did immediately after the Apostles went on to Glory. One of the first false teachers was Simon Magus, who is mentioned in Acts 8:9-24. Many ancient writers commented on his apostasy and false teaching. He led many astray enticing them to believe in a false Gospel. That he was charismatic can be seen in Acts. Many false teachings have been attributed to him, though it seems that some are fancies. But he was able to lead many into apostasy.
Later there were the Gnostics that taught (as they do today) various false doctrines such as magic, false angelology, self-salvation, other gods, etc. And of course there are the modern false doctrines like Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventism, Dianetics and others. These all have one thing in common, a source of revelation other than Christ. The Latter Day Saints have a gospel received from an angel (Moroni, who is also called a demon!). This “gospel” teaches that one must do works to become a “god”. Read Galatians 1:8. The Adventists have elevated the teachings of Ellen G. White to scriptural status and have a works type salvation. The Jehovah’s witnesses believe that God created Jesus. The Scientologists do not require faith, just whatever truth suits the individual.
They all have one thing in common. They received their special revelations from extra-Biblical sources. The Book of Mormon, the Watchtower Society publications, or the Works of Ellen White. The Scientologists have L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics and other writings. None of these false doctrines is Biblical and most of these cults are fast-growing cults.
My point in all this ranting is that false teachers, ravening wolves, have been around since the church’s beginning and are still out there searching for prey to deceive. The Mormons have an especially effective national advertising program that makes those who know no better believe the Latter Day Saints are a Christian denomination. Nothing is farther from the truth. They use warm, fuzzy, family oriented ads to entice the unsuspecting into their web.
Their god is from the Planet Kolob where he lives in constant sexual relations with his thousands of wives. This god came to earth in Augustus’ time, had sex with Mary and produced Jesus, who is one of God’s sons. The other son is Lucifer, who argued with Jesus on how to save mankind. Jesus won the argument and became incarnate. Through a series of works, men work their way into becoming gods with their own planet full of willing women (sound a bit like the Muslims). I need not go on. You can see how ludicrous Mormonism really is. Yet they seem like and sound like they are Christians.
They do not believe that the work of Jesus was good enough to cover all sins. Some must be pardoned through Jesus plus works. One of their works is the Blood Atonement. Those sins not covered by the blood of Jesus must be covered by the spilling of a man’s blood, preferably that of the sinner himself. This doctrine is preached but there is no proof it is practiced. The ritual of Blood Atonement does not actually spill blood, but acts out this practice with hand motions. The motion they make and the oath they take is so close to the oath and motion of the 3rd Degree Freemason that it is nearly synonymous. (Plucking the tongue out by the roots and burying it in the sands of the sea) They even wear aprons like the masons, only theirs are blue. Most of these teachings can be found in the Mormons’ own scritpure, The Pearl of Great Price. At this time these “scriptures” can be read at the official Mormon website at www.lds.org.
This is a case of ravening wolves. They suck people in, and those who find out the truth are probably so disheartened by what they went through that they will never become Christians.
Jehovah’s witnesses also will quickly tell you they worship the same Jesus as other Christians do. The only problem is that their Jesus is a created being; he is really the archangel Michael. They are very persistent and charismatic. They are very good at going door to door seeking converts. Their salvation also requires something other than Jesus.
The admonition of Paul1 here is that we must be ever vigilant to follow the Gospel he preached, which he received by revelation for Jesus Christ. The same is to be applied to the other Apostles. Only the Gospel that came from Jesus, through the Apostles is true doctrine. We must not let that slip away and follow false gospels.
Heb 2:2-3 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; (3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
As we discussed above, angels deliviered many messages from God to men. These words of angels are many of the words of the Old Testament. Their word was steadfast, that is, their words were unwavering, stable, and trustworthy. If their words produced such an effect as to punish every infraction of the Law, then how can we neglect the salvation provided for by Jesus Christ, Who is far superior to angels. If angels’ words had life or death consequences, how much more do the Words of Christ have even greater consequences?
The great salvation is the Gospel. No more blood sacrifices, for Christ died once for all. Jesus first spoke the words of the Gospel to the twelve, who were the Apostles. Those Apostles confirm His words to us. The New Testament Scriptures are those teachings recorded by the Apostles themselves or by those in close relationships with them. As we discovered before, Mark was a close ally of Peter and wrote Peter’s teachings in his Gospel. Luke was a close companion of Paul, and wrote of his travels. Luke also learned the Gospel from the Apostles. James and Jude were brothers of Christ and received the Gospel from the Apostles. James was the first bishop of the church at Jerusalem, which included all of the Apostles except Paul. Paul received his Gospel by direct revelation from the risen Christ. And of course Matthew, Peter and John were Apostles. They confirmed the Gospel. We should also remember that angels spoke the gospel as well (see Mat 27:64, Mat 28:6-7, Mark 16:6, Luk 24:6, Acts 1:11).
We must not neglect this Gospel of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ by allowing false teachings into our churches and our lives. There is no other way to be saved. All of the false gospels preached through all the centuries since the resurrection, amount to nothing. Every one of them will send you straight to the lake of fire, for there is no truth in them. Yes they sound wise and beneficent, so full of the wisdom of man, but they are deadly.
Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
The Apostles had the gift of miraculous signs and wonders. These gifts confirmed that they were indeed men of God entrusted with the Gospel. They all had gifts that were given the by the will of the Spirit. According to early church writers, those gifts died out with the Apostles with a few exceptions. Some of the disciples of the Apostles themselves retained some of the miraculous gifts. The miracles they performed were testaments to their Apostleship. The various Apostles healed the sick, raised the dead, and brought punishment from Heaven. Some of them miraculously escaped from the bonds of prisons.
Heb 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
The phrase, ‘world to come’, has been thought of as the new earth age, which will begin at the destruction of this earth age. The term has also been applied to the world under subjection to Christ, and that is what the Apostle is arguing here. The coming world, with Jesus as King and Lord, will not be under the subjection of Angels, but it will be in subjection to Christ. We are returning to the theme that Christ is superior to angels.
Heb 2:6-8 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (7) Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (8) Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
It was common for secular writers in the time of Paul to quote a person without saying his name. Apparently, when this device was used, the name of the author was well known. To Paul and those in his circles, it was well known that David wrote this in Psalm 8:4-6 . Of course those verse distinctions were not available in Paul’s day.
This passage is rich in deeply profound truths. Therefore let us refer to Psalm 8 to help us discover these truths.
Psa 8:1 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
There are two ways to interpret the Gittith. One is that it is a harp that came from Gath. The other is that it is a reference to the time of year that a particular festival took place and perhaps involved some religious rite. Some translate the title of this Psalm thus: “to the conqueror, concerning the wine-presses”. Either way it does not change the theme of the Psalm, which is the majesty and excellence of God.
This is a Psalm of David whom God anointed king over Israel. It was David to whom God promised that there would always be a descendant of David upon the throne. David understood the power, majesty, and greatness of God. God chose him, an unknown shepherd boy, the last in line to his father’s inheritance, and one upon whom there was disdain by his very own brothers. David was not only grateful, but also awe-inspired by this. This explains his statement about the excellence and majesty of Yehovah his Lord. God’s glory is all encompassing. It is above, and therefore, outside the universe. His glory transcends all.
Psa 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Jesus applied this verse to Himself in Matthew 21:16, when the children were exclaiming Hosana! This happened after the Triumphal Entry and after He had cleansed the Temple. The chief priests and scribes were “sore displeased”.
The phrase, “babes and sucklings”, indicates younger children. Pre-adolescence is beyond the age of a little child. A suckling need not be an infant. Many children are well into toddlerdom before they are weaned. But the phrase indicates children in early childhood. Jesus told us, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15). Why did He say this? Because, with a little child, what you see is what you get. There is no guile in them. They say what they feel. If they feel love, they say so; if hate, they make it clear; if belief, that is also guilelessly expressed. The belief of a little child is absolute, with no questions asked. When you tell a child the good news, he immediately accepts what you say and believes. A child’s faith is as pure as one can find. Children can be depended upon to speak the truth, or at least what they believe to be true. How many times does a child blurt out information you did not want made known? As a parent several times over, I can answer: that too often! Never take a six year old to a restaurant that says all children five and under eat free, and then try to tell the cashier that your child is only five. You will never get away with it, for the child will always correct you. They do not understand the nuances of lying (and neither should we, but alas…). To them, a lie should not be told.
A child has the strength to always speak the truth, no matter what. A little child always has strength of character because he knows nothing else. A little child is quick to defend his own possessions and to defend his family. A little child always looks up to his elders with a kind of awe. He believes them, he trusts them, he loves them, and he respects them. (Remember we are speaking of a little child not a pre-adolescent or an adolescent. There is plenty of guile in children of those ages). Even in the face of enemies, a child will stand and contend. If a little child believes something is true, not one of his peers will ever persuade him otherwise, and the peer had better not even try!
When we, as believers, have that child-like faith, then nothing the enemy can do to us can shake that faith, even though he throws fiery darts at us. That is why Paul uses the shield or buckler as a metaphor for faith. When only a child, David was ordained to have strength and he was able to slay Goliath who held all Israel at bay.
There is another way to look at babes and sucklings, and that is to make the connection that babes and sucklings are weaklings, hence the phrase is simply used as a simile for men, who are frail and weak. This will also work here because David is trying to show that the majestic and excellent God, the owner and creator of the vast universe, has considered man, who is weak and frail, and given him dominion on this small isolated planet called earth. In the vastness of the universe, earth does not even register on the percentage scale. Even in the solar system, earth is a tiny and seemingly insignificant spot. And yet God, who made man a bit lower than angels, still visited men with dominion over His own works.
Psa 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
We have a modern praise hymn on the very same subject. The entire hymn is dedicated to the majestic and excellent God and His condescension with man. Here is the first stanza with refrain:
O Lord, my God,
When I in awesome wonder;
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
© 1949, 1953 Stuart Hine Trust.
Psa 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Considering the works of God, what is man? The answer is certainly that man is not worthy of such attention from God. The Hebrew helps us to understand this. In the first phrase, “what is man”, we have the word enosh (אנוש), H582, and in the second phrase, the word adam, (אדם), H120, is used. Both words mean man, but enosh is a word that is only used to describe fallen man, that is, men after the fall of Adam. It signifies mortal man, who is susceptible to sin, illness, weakness, frailty, and death. Adam refers to man, who was formed out of the dust of the earth, hence the word, adamah, (אדמה), H126, which means earth or ground or dirt. “The son of man,” (literally the son of Adam) means all humans, which are the descendants of Adam. Of course this includes the Messiah, but to David, He was not in view here. Yes this is a Messanic prophecy, but it is doubtful that David understood it as such. So when David said “what is man,” he literally meant, “what is fallen, frail, sinful, weak, etc. man?”
David asks what is weak, frail, sinful, mortal, etc. man, that You, O God condescend to have fellowship with him and even give him some authority? The word ‘visit’ in English can mean to impose or inflict, but it can also mean to comfort. The Hebrew word is many faceted. It is thepaqadno(תפקדנו), from paqad (פּקד) H6485. Some of the shadings of the meanings of paqad are: attend to, observe, seek, appoint, visit upon, watch, call, oversee, entrust, commit, and many others. It is used 297 times in the Old Testament, and translated into 51 different English words. Of course, not all meanings of the word fit every occurrence of the word. Here it seems to mean, in a general manner, to attend to, that is, to pay attention to men. So the question is, “God, why do you attend to man, who is insignificant, weak, frail, sinful, and mortal?” Of course, the answer is, “we do not know.” Possible answers are because we are here for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11), and we belong to Him (Proverbs 16:4). He tells us that we are His people and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). Perhaps it is because He created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).
Psalm 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.
Man has been made lower than angels. That means, in God’s hierarchy, angles are a step above humans. And that must be obvious to any who think about it. Angels are spirits (Psalm 104:4 Hebrews 1:14), and therefore invisible to the human eye (Numbers 22:31, Judges 13:21). Angels may take on the physical shape of men (Genesis 19:1&5, Daniel 8:15, Luke 24:4). Angels can go before the Face of God without dying (Luke 1:19). Angels can cover great distances in a short time (Daniel 9:21-23). Angels are very much more powerful than humans (2 Kings 19:35, as one example; there are many others). Men can do none of these things. Therefore we are a step lower on the scale than angels. Even though we are a step lower than angels, yet God has given glory and honor to us. The next verse describes how.
Psa 8:6-8 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: (7) All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; (8) The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
When Adam was placed in the Garden, he was given dominion over all the works of God, that is, over all of earthly creation:
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Obviously, Adam did not have dominion over all things; he only had jurisdiction over the earth. But Messiah Jesus does have all things under His feet. He became a man, which are a little lower than angels, and yet He has dominion over the universe, over eternity, that is, over every thing (Matthew 28:18). So this passage was partially fulfilled with Adam, but completely fulfilled in Christ.
Psa 8:9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
In his fear, awe, and overwhelming feeling of wonder and admiration for such a God who attends to frail, fallen, weak, sinful, and mortal man, David repeated his praise.
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Though He is greater than angels, and Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.“(Phi 2:6-11)
Jesus, which means Savior, left his home in heaven to become a man. He was truly a man, able to suffer temptation, hunger, pain, sorrow, even death. He became our Passover, a lamb sacrificed that we might live: 1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out the old leaven, in order that you may be a new batch of dough, since you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Now He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. The glory and honor He now has was always His. He left that glory and honor and became a man, but now He has received it back. He was crowned with many crowns. The crown of glory and honor are just two of His crowns. David told us of His crown of pure gold in Psalm 21:3 . We are told that He is crowned with many crowns in Revelation 19:12 . Having these crowns and being a King did not stop Him from being made a man, who is “made a little lower than angels.” He did so in obedience to the Father, thereby securing our salvation. It was God’s gracious gift to men and women that His own Son would die for our sins.
Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Before we try to understand this verse, we need to understand what the word captain entails. Let us look at Thayer for our definition:
1) the chief leader, prince
Now, how do we understand this word? The KJV says that Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. That seems very accurate to me. But others, like Young’s Literal Translation, Green’s and Literal Translation, render the word author. But Green, in his Modern King James Version, also renders it captain. Mr. Green, a translator whom I highly respect, sees fit to render it both ways. In his Modern King James Version, he is trying to keep the spirit of the KJV, but in His literal translation, he wants to be critically accurate.
It seems to me, and this is my opinion, that either word adequately describes our Savior. He is the Author of our salvation, because He wrote the book for us on salvation, and he is the true and living Word of God. Without his work at Calvary, we would have no salvation. According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, an author is “One that originates or creates” something. Other dictionaries add the word ‘initiate’. Christ is the originator, creator, and initiator of our salvation; therefore He is the author.
What is a Captain? Well it is a military rank (O-6 in the Navy and O-3 is all other branches). But it is not used here in that capacity. Another word for a captain, is the head of something. The head of a thing can be its beginning, its originator, or its leader. Jesus Christ qualifies for all of those things. Therefore, either one is appropriate. The word ‘author’ helps us to understand the import of the verse. Here is how the word is rendered in the KJV: prince (twice), captain (once), and author (once). The one time it is rendered author is also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus is the Originator or Author of our salvation and also its Captain.
This verse tells us that Jesus is the creator of the world, the very Word of God, Who made everything and for Him was everything made. The creator of all became as one of the created and through His work on the cross, has caused millions to be adopted into the family of God as sons. As such He not only initiated our salvation, but of those who accept that salvation, He is the leader or Captain.
Suffering completes our salvation. First, Christ suffered for us. He also died for us. He told us we would suffer for Him. His suffering justified us, causing our sins to be erased. In our suffering, we are made perfect, that is we become increasingly like Him. Suffering produces good results in us, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (The fruit of the Spirit if you did not recognize them). We seek for perfection though we will not reach it until perfection comes. It comes when we enter into our rest.
Hebrews 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Christ sanctifieth us therefore we who are Christians are those that are sanctified. Our Redeemer and we Christians are one. He is the Head; we are the body, one in Christ. We are His brethren. He is the True Genetic Son of God; we are the adopted children of God. Therefore we are His brethren:
Matthew 12:48-50 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? (49) And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (50) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate tobe conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
This is Psalms 22:22: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” This is of course the congregation in Heaven, for Jesus said, in Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven,” and in Revelation 3:5, “I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.“
Hebrews 2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
There is no exact Old Testament verse for this first quote, but there are are many places where it is said “I will trust in Him”. But it appears that Paul is quoting from Isaiah 8:17-18, “(17) And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” Though it is not apparent that “I will look for Him” and “I will put my trust in Him” are the same in English”, it is very much apparent in the Greek. Here are Hebrews 2:13, from the Textus Receptus, and Isaiah 8:17, from the Septuagint, in the Greek:
Hebrews 2:13 (TR),και παλιν εγω εσομαι πεποιθως επ αυτω και παλιν ιδου εγω και τα παιδια α μοι εδωκεν ο θεος
Isaiah 8:17 (LXX),και ερει μενω τον θεον τον αποστρεψαντα τπ προσωπον αυτο απο του οικου ιακωβ και πεποιθως εσομαι επ αυτο
Note the underlined portions: εσομαι πεποιθως επ αυτω(Hebrews), and πεποιθως εσομαι επ αυτο(Isaiah). They are esomai pepoithos ep auto, and pepoithos esomai ep auto, respectively. The order of the words does not affect the meaning of the phrase. They are literally “I shall trust upon Him” and “trust shall I upon Him”, respectively. These two phrases are practically identical. Paul quotes the next verse (Isaiah 8:18) from the Septuagint immediately afterward, writing, “I will put my trust in Him.” These examples prove, at least to me, that he quoted Isaiah 8:17-18 in Hebrews 2:13.
And that is exactly how Lord Brenton translated it out of the Septuagint into English. Here is his rendering of Isaiah 8:17: “And one shall say, I will wait for God, who has turned away his face from the house of Jacob, and I will trust in him.” And here is Isaiah 8:18: “Behold I and the children which God has given me: and they shall be for signs and wonders in the house of Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in mount Sion.” Now let us take out the two phrases Paul quoted: “I will trust in him“& “behold I and the children which God has given me“. This is virtually what Paul wrote in Hebrews. This passage in Isaiah is amidst other passages considered to be Messianic. Paul deems these to be Messianic as well.
The point of this verse, as with the whole passage, is that Jesus became a man, experienced the things a man experiences, was innocent but convicted and died for our sins. He did not choose to be as angels, but to be a little lower than angels.
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
The phrase, ‘partakers of flesh and blood’ does not refer to eating the flesh of animals; it simply means that we are in the flesh. The work rendered partakers is a word that means to have fellowship or communion with. An English definition of the word partake, is “to have some of the qualities or attributes of something”. So we humans have the flesh for our bodies. Our bodies have the quality of the flesh, that is, they partake of the flesh. Another way to look at is that we participate in the flesh. That is another definition of partake of, that is, to participate in.
Since we participate in the flesh, because our bodies are flesh and blood, Christ also partook of the flesh. He became a man. His death not only provided us with eternal life, it also destroyed death for we who are believers. His work at Calvary destroyed Satan’s ability to cause us to die not physically, for we must all die physically, but spiritually. Spiritual death does not mean annihilation, it means eternal and painful separation from God in the Lake of fire “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” It also destroyed Satan, who will be cast into the lake of fire prepared especially for him.
Think upon this passage from Mark 9:
Mark 9:43-48 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: (44) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (45) And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: (46) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (47) And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: (48) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
The wicked, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, are going to a place of eternal fire that is not quenched. It burns on and on for eternity with no end and no hope of an end. The worm refers to worms or maggots in dead bodies. We may see such sights in dead animal carcasses, but on the battlefield maggots are often seen in the bodies of men. As long as there are dead bodies the worms live on. The upshot here is that those in hell will never die. The worm is a metaphor for the living soul. So when you read, “their worm dieth not,” understand it to mean, “where their soul dieth not.”
Imagine a person who at a young age is given life in prison. That person sees decades of hoplessness behind bars, with never a chance to live outside in the world again. But at least the lifer in prison has the hope that someday death will come and relieve him from the prison. Imagine the suffering of a lifer at Devil’s Island. Those prisoners were underfed and had to do a great amount of hard labor. Many died from starvation and disease. Some were worked to death, others beaten to death, and still others got sick and died without treatment. It was horrible suffering. There was no hope of escape, except death. It can be imagined that many men in such circumstances longed for death as a release. At least they had that hope.
But think of eternity in hell. The suffering never ends; it is constant. And looking down the future as far as you can see, there is no release. Their suffering in the fire will go on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on, and on, etc., etc., etc., forever, ad infinitum, amen. There will be no reprieve, no hope, only unending suffering. Can you imagine being tortured in the Inquisition and the torture going on and on forever? They had some acute tortures. I will not even hint about some of them except to say they were more gruesome that any Sadam Hussein dished out. Just think of never getting away from the torturers. That is exactly what eternity in hell will be like.
How can anyone who reads this or hears about it ever take the chance of going there? Denial may make this life bearable, but it will not stop the ultimate fact that hell does exist and eternal suffering is in store for all who are not saved. Think about it. If there is even a chance that I am right, you had better get right with God. There is only one way to do that. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. I do not mean that you say, “Oh yes, I believe that Jesus was in Israel 2000 years ago.” I mean to believe that He is the Son of God and that He died on the Cross and rose again three days later and now sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for our sins. There is one sure way to know if you really believe. And it is that your life will change. You will now want to go to church, you will want to read the Bible, you will stop your bad habits, and you will no longer want to participate in the sinful things you participated in before you were saved. True belief in Christ will bring about a complete reversal in your lifestyle. God changes your desires to conform to His.
Hebrews 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The bondage is twofold. Men are in bondage to their fears and to their sin. They fear death, and cannot stop sinning. The fear of death has them in its grip, bound up, unable to escape. It is the same with sin. Sin, like addiction, never releases its hold on men and they cannot get away from sin. It lurks at the door seeking to rule over them whenever it can.
Hebrews 2:16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on himthe seed of Abraham.
So we are here again. Paul sums up his entire premise that Christ, Who is far superior to angels, became a little lower than them as a man of the seed of Abraham. Christ was a “Jew” because He was born into the tribe of Judah to Jewish parents.
Let me take the time to explain why I said Christ was a Jew. The word translated “Jew” in the Old Testament, is יהודי, yehudi, which means, “of the tribe of Judah”. The Hebrew word for Judah is יהודה, yehudah. So יהודי, yehudi, translated “Jew” by the KJV, is a derivative of יהודה, yehudah, translated “Judah” by the KJV.
In the New Testament, the word for Judah is Ιουδας, Ioudas, and the NT word translated “Jew” is Ιουδαιος, Ioudaios, which means from the tribe of Judah. I am not saying Christ was a Jew, the Bible is. The KJV uses the word “Jew” to mean a person born into the tribe of Judah. So I am saying, as is the KJV, that Christ was born into the tribe of Judah and was a Ιουδαιος, Ioudaios, which is the Greek word rendered “Jew” by the KJV.
I am totally aware that the word, “Jew” is used incorrectly by modernists to describe all twelve tribes, and that a “Jew” as used by the KJV is more correctly called a Judahite. I simply use the word because the KJV does.
Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Being the Firstborn of many brethren, He became like us, that is He became a man. Why? So he could walk in our shoes, and understand what it is like to be a man, so He could have empathy with us. That empathy translates to mercy and faithfulness. As our high Priest, He understands our condition and can be merciful to us. He is our faithful High Priest. That means he will never stop being our High Priest; He will provide for us eternally.
The high priest went into the Most Holy Place once a year to sprinkle the blood of bulls and goats to bring reconciliation between the Israelites and God. Why? Because their sin separated them from God. The only way for them to be reconciled to Him was to slay an animal in their place and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat. So annually the high priest had to slay the goat and sprinkle its blood on and around the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place.
But Jesus was our perfect sacrifice. He shed His own blood and it was placed on the altar in Heaven where it eternally covers our sins. He shed His blood one time for eternity and for all who will believe. He reconciles us to God even though our sins separated us from God.
Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
Since He was tempted just as we are, He understands our temptation and is able to comfort the tempted. We are those that are tempted. These last two verses in this chapter segue into the Apostle’s next great subject, that Jesus is greater than Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite (Aaronic) priesthood. We will study that in the next chapter.
- The reason I use “Paul” instead of “the writer of Hebrews” is explained in the preface to Chapter 1. If you disagree that Paul is the writer, please continue to read for I have no argument with you. As a scholar once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, love” (attributed to Augustine). ↩