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