Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2:1

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

(a) We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard. Don’t just hear the gospel; believe it.

Paul said he preached so that the Gentiles would “hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7), and John said he wrote his Gospel so that readers might believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31). The apostles preached for a verdict.

As a group, the Jews had rejected the grace of God through their unbelief (see entry for Rom. 11:20). The author warns them to heed what they have heard (Heb. 4:2).

(b) What we have heard is the gospel of grace revealed in Jesus Christ (see entry for Acts 20:24).

(c) So that we do not drift away. Jesus the Savior stands mid-river catching all who would be rescued. We need to pay attention lest we glide right by him towards the falls. (We can be sure the context is salvation because of Hebrews 2:3.)

Hebrews 2:3

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

(a) How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The book of Hebrews is full of warnings to those who have not yet put their faith in Jesus. “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). “Do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:8). “Take care, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart” (Heb. 3:12). “Do not turn away from him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:25).

(b) Salvation. The original word means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.

(c) First spoken through the Lord. The word or message spoken by the Lord is greater than the word or law spoken of by angels. If there were consequences to ignoring the latter, the consequences for ignoring the former must be greater.

(d) Confirmed to us by those who heard. The apostles heard the good news from Jesus and passed it on.

Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

The grace of God refers to the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. See entry for Grace of God.

Hebrews 2:11

For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

(a) He who sanctifies. Jesus makes you holy.

We are holy and sanctified because Jesus makes us so. “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Through an act of his will and by the sacrifice of his body you have been sanctified for all time (Heb. 10:10).

(b) Those who are sanctified. Christians, in other words (see entry for Acts 26:18).

(c) Are all from one Father. You are not holy because you act holy. You are holy because you are a child of a Holy God.

(d) Call them brethren. Jesus considers you family. Every Christian is a holy brother or a holy sister of Jesus the Holy One.

Hebrews 2:15

and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

(a) Fear of death. Humanity was tormented by the fear of death.

(b) Subject to slavery. Because of Adam’s disobedience, humanity ended up enslaved to sin and condemned to die (Rom. 5:12, 19). But Last Adam has broken the prison of sin and removed the sting of death.

Hebrews 2:16

For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.

(a) He does not give help to angels. Jesus is the Savior of humanity. He came to help us.

(b) He gives help. God is our very great Helper. See entry for Heb. 13:6.

(c) The descendant of Abraham. Jesus is the Savior of the world, but only those who share the faith of Father Abraham are aided and saved (Rom. 4:11–12).

Hebrews 2:17

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

(a) Made like His brethren in all things. Jesus was fully man and as such was tempted in all things as we are (Heb. 4:15).

This verse demolishes Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity. (Total depravity says we are natural born sinners, incapable of seeking or obeying God.) Jesus was made like us in every respect. Since Jesus was not depraved, neither are we – at least not at birth.

(b) Merciful. Jesus is our compassionate high priest who knows what we are going through and is able to help us in our trials and temptations (Heb. 2:18, 4:16).

(c) Make propitiation. Propitiation means the sins of the world have been taken away (1 John 2:2, 3:5).

Propitiation literally means appeased or satisfied. Because of Jesus, the demands of justice have been fully satisfied. Prior to the cross, the world was under the condemnation of sin. But Jesus bore sin’s punishment and the sentence of death has been removed.

Propitiation is the new covenant alternative to old covenant atonement. In the old covenant, sins were atoned for or covered up. They weren’t forgiven or removed because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb. 10:4). Those old covenant sacrifices were a shadow of a reality that was fulfilled in Jesus’ matchless sacrifice.

Since your sins were carried away at the cross, no further sacrifice is needed (Heb. 10:12). This means there is nothing you can do to add the perfection of Christ’s sacrifice. If God is satisfied with the Son, let us be satisfied too.

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