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Hebrews 2

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Great Salvation Do Not Neglect Salvation Warning Against Falling Away The Great Salvation An Exhortation
2:1-4 2:1-4 2:1-4 2:1-4 2:1-4
The Pioneer of Salvation The Son Made Lower than Angels The Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus The One Who Leads Us to Salvation Redemption Brought by Christ, Not by Angels
2:5-9 2:5-9 2:5-9 2:5-10 2:5-8a
  Bring Many Sons to Glory     2:8b-9
2:10-18 2:10-18 2:10-13   2:10-13
      2:11-13  
    2:14-18 2:14-18 2:14-18

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Chapters one and two are a literary unit. It continues the superiority of Jesus over the OT revelation (cf. 1:1-3) and Jesus' superiority over the angels (cf. 1:4-2:18).

 

B. The new emphasis of chapter two is Jesus' connection with His people (cf. 2:10-18). Jesus is truly identified with them and they, as a result, share in His glory. The purpose of a superior covenant is that fallen mankind is restored (cf. 2:9-11,14-18) to his place of pre-eminence in creation (cf. Ps. 8). Jesus is the ideal human, our perfect example.

 

C. Chapter 2 is the first in a series of warnings (2:1-4; 3:7-4:11; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29). This first warning is directed to those who might neglect the new covenant revelation (the gospel). This probably refers to people of Jewish background who had a deep reverence for the Mosaic covenant, thus the need for the comparison.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:1-4
 1For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3how 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, 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

2:1 "For this reason" This refers to the truths of chapter 1.

"we must" This is the term "dei," which means moral necessity. This is the first (i.e., vv. 1-4) of many warnings in the book of Hebrews addressed to a group of believing Jews still worshiping in a synagogue with unbelieving Jews. Some of the warnings of the book are directed at the believers to take the plunge, publicly join the church and move on into the fullness and maturity of the worldwide mission of the gospel (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). Other warnings are addressed directly to the unbelieving Jews who had heard the gospel and seen its power in the lives of their believing Jewish friends and co-worshipers, but had refused to personally accept Jesus as the promised Messiah and to move beyond their rabbinical traditions (cf. chapters 6 and 10).

NASB"pay much closer attention"
NKJV"give the more earnest heed"
NRSV"pay greater attention to"
TEV"hold on all the more firmly to"
NJB"turn our minds more attentively"

This is a strong Greek comparative and infinitive which means to give special, complete attention and care to something or someone (cf. Acts 8:6,10; 16:14). The New Covenant of the Son (the gospel) is both precious and dangerous! God's truth must be handled appropriately.

"do not drift away from it" This term is used only here in the NT. It literally means "to flow by" or "slip away." It is used figuratively of a current of wind or water causing someone to be carried past a safe anchorage.

This warning is stated as an aorist passive subjunctive first person plural. There is an element of contingency caused by an unstated outside agent (passive voice) and the subjunctive mood. Drifting past or away from the truth was a real possibility. It is also possible that the metaphor is directed to the recipients still remaining while the truth moves on. This may be an allusion to Prov. 3:21 in the Septuagint where the same verb is used.

There are three ways of viewing this warning.

1. as referring to those who refused to respond to the gospel (cf. v. 3)

2. as referring to those who had believed (cf. "we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard,"v. 1), but not matured

3. as referring to those who had believed and were in danger of not holding on to their original profession/confession of faith in Christ.

The first would refer to the unbelieving Jews, while the second and third would refer to the believing Jews. The use of the first person plural seems to mean that the author groups himself with those addressed and would imply that they were believers or at lease in a synagogue where the gospel was shared (cf. v. 3). However, this same grammatical plural appears in a literary, not literal, usage in 10:26.

2:2 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. It is often translated in English as "since" or "because."

"the word spoken through angels" This is referring to the Mosaic Law. The Jews believed that angels acted as mediators between YHWH and Moses on Mt. Sinai (cf. Exod.3:2; 14:19; 23:20-23; 32:34; 33:2; Ps. 68:17; Acts 7:38,53; Gal. 3:19).

NASB"proved unalterable"
NKJV"proved steadfast"
NRSV"was valid"
TEV"was shown to be true"
NJB"proved to be so reliable"

God is faithful to His word, both blessings and/or cursings (cf. Deut. 27-28).

SPECIAL TOPIC: GUARANTEE

"every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty" The Mosaic Covenant was based on obedience! Willful disobedience has clear and immediate consequences (cf. 10:28).

These two terms are formed with the same preposition; parabasis and parakoē, which may have been an intentional word (sound) play.

2:3 "how will we escape" The book of Hebrews has many severe warnings about neglecting God's truth (cf. 2:1-4; 3:7-4:11; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29).

▣ "if we neglect so great a salvation" The term "neglect" (ameleō) means "to pay no attention to" or "to be unconcerned about" something or someone. It is used in the NT for (1) an admonition for Timothy not to neglect his spiritual gift (cf. 1 Tim. 4:14) and (2) an affirmation of YHWH's lack of attention to Israel because they violated His covenant (cf. Heb. 8:9).

This is the major point of the argument that if the Mosaic Covenant had such tremendous consequences for its neglect then how much more severe the consequences for neglecting the new and better Covenant brought by Jesus (the Son). The consequences of knowingly neglecting a message are related to the majesty of the One who brings the message (i.e., parables of royal wedding, cf. Matt. 22:2-14).

The interpretive question then becomes, "Is this referring to (1) a rejecting of the new covenant (the gospel) or (2) a neglecting of the new covenant?" The contemporary usage of the term implies #2. Some commentators would add the use of "we" as an evidence of the author identifying with a believing group, but in 10:26 the author uses this same pronoun (first person plural) in addressing the unbelieving group. These recipients were not rejecting the gospel, but minimizing its influence in their lives.

▣ "it was at the first spoken through the Lord" Jesus is called by YHWH's OT covenant title "I Am that I Am" (cf. Exod.3:14, which was later read as "Lord" [adon]). See Special Topic at 2:7. This is one of the ways that NT authors show the deity of Jesus of Nazareth. YHWH Himself bears witness to the truthfulness of Jesus' message (cf. v. 4). See Special Topic: Archē at 3:14.

▣ "by those who heard" Both John Calvin and Martin Luther said that this phrase refers to a second generation Christian. Obviously this cannot mean Paul (cf. Gal. 1:11). Paul was not the human author of Hebrews. See note at 13:23.

2:4 "God also testifying with them by signs and wonders and by various miracles" Signs and wonders were intended both to encourage believers and to help unbelievers accept the truth (cf. Acts 2:22). God continues (present active participle) to bear witness to the truth of the gospel. There was an intensification of both evil and spiritual signs surrounding Jesus' first coming, as there will be surrounding His second coming.

▣ "and by gifts of the Holy Spirit" Every believer has at least one spiritual gift given by the Spirit at the time of conversion (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7,11,18; Eph. 4:11,12). This spiritual giftedness of believers is one of the contemporary evidences of the gospel's validity, which some of the recipients of the letter were denying or rejecting!

"according to His own will" The Spirit chooses and distributes gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7,11,18). Believers are not gifted based on personal merit or personal choice! If the spiritual gift relates to a natural talent, it is energized and so directed as to bring honor to Christ, not the individual Christian. All the gifts serve the body. Each believer is to live for the health and growth of the body!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:5-9
 5For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. 6But one has testified somewhere, saying,
 "What is man, that You remember him?
 Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?
 7You have made him for a little while lower than the angels;
 You have crowned him with glory and honor,
 And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
 8You have put all things in subjection under his feet.
"
 For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 9But 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.

2:5 "For He did not subject to angels the world to come" It is true that angels are in a place of spiritual pre-eminence now (cf. Deut. 32:8 in the Septuagint and the book of Daniel, chapter 10). However, in the world to come, it will be human beings, by means of their incarnate, glorified Savior, who will be in the place of authority. This is another comparison relating to the superiority of Jesus and His followers over the angels who were viewed as being involved in the Mosaic Covenant (cf. 1:4-14).

2:6 "But one has testified somewhere saying" This is a Hebrew idiom for the inspiration of the entire OT, not a lapse of memory as to where these quotes are found (cf. 4:4). There follows a series of OT quotes, which is common in Hebrews.

▣ "What is man that you remember him" This is a quote from the Septuagint of Ps. 8:4-6 based theologically on Gen. 1:26,28. Verses 6, 7, and 8 do not refer to the Messiah ("the Son of Man"), but to humanity. In the Psalm the term "son of man" is in a parallel relationship with the term "man" and should not be capitalized. It is a Hebrew idiom for humanity, ben adam, so common in Ezekiel (cf. 2:1; 3:1,3,4,10,17, etc.).

2:7 "you have made him for a little while lower than the angels" This is the continuation of the quote of Ps. 8:5-6 from the Septuagint. The question for both translation and interpretation is, how should the Hebrew term "Elohim" be understood?

1. The Septuagint translated Ps. 8:5 as "angels," as did the Aramaic Targums and Pehsitta, Vulgate, and KJV translations.

2. The Jewish Publication Society of America translated it as "little less than divine." Several English translations have "God" (cf. ASV, NASB, RSV, NEB, NRSV, REB, JB, NJB, TEV). The term, when used in the OT with a singular verb, like Gen. 1:1, refers to God. Jesus used it in this sense in John 10:31-39. It is also used of the "gods" of the pagan nations. It can refer to angels in the sense of God's heavenly council made up of Himself and angelic servants (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:19; Dan. 7:10).

3. There is even the possibility that it refers to the Judges of Israel (cf. Exod.21:6; 22:8-9,28; Ps. 82:1,6).

In this context the theological point is that Jesus and His followers (cf. 1:14) are superior to the angels.

There is a Greek manuscript variation at the end of v. 7. Some ancient Greek manuscripts (א , A, C, D*, P) continue to quote from Ps. 8:7, but others stop at "You crowned him with glory and honor" (P46, B. Dc, K, L). As with so many of these variations, it makes no difference in the interpretation of the text.

SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY

"You crowned Him with Glory" see note at 1:3.

2:8 This is from Ps. 2:6, but is an allusion to Gen. 1:26,28-30. Humans made in God's image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) were to function as managers on earth (as God's representatives). But the fall of Genesis 3 thwarted this purpose (cf. v. 9c).

2:9 "But we do see Him" The NASB has all of the pronouns in small letters in vv. 7 and 8 (i.e., the author quoting the Psalm), but in v. 9 they are in capital letters (the author now applying the Psalm), thus comparing fallen mankind with the ideal Man. God placed mankind in an honored position of authority, but mankind sinned and forfeited that position. Jesus the Incarnate God fulfills humanity's destiny and by His death restores believing mankind to the place of honor. Jesus was truly human! This is another Adam-Christ typology (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22,45-49; Phil. 2:6-11).

▣ "who was made for a little while lower than the angels" This is an obvious comparison with verses 6 and 7. It speaks of Jesus' incarnation and life on earth.

"Jesus" The author of Hebrews characteristically uses "Jesus" without any additional description (cf. 2:9; 3:1; 6:20; 7:22; 10:19; 12:2,24; 13:12). It is possible that this is a typological play on Jesus as the new Joshua. The names are exactly the same. The author of Hebrews uses the Exodus material extensively. As Joshua brought God's people into the rest of the Promised Land, so too, will Jesus bring them into heaven (i.e., the seventh day rest).

▣ "because of the suffering of death" This reflects Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53. He was God's Agent in redemption!

"crowned with glory and honor" This is a perfect passive participle. He has been and continues to be the crowned One! See note at 1:3.

"by the grace of God" This translation (chariti Theos) is found in all English Bibles and is supported by the ancient Greek manuscripts (P46, א, A, B, C, D). However, a curious reading "apart from God" (chōris Theos), occurs in many later ancient texts. In A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger says that this was originally a marginal gloss related to 1 Cor. 15:27, which was misunderstood as a correction to "chariti Theos" (p. 664).

The United Bible Society's A Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews by Paul Ellingworth and Eugene A. Nida offers another opinion, that "apart from God" may allude to Psalm 22, which Jesus used to express His sense of being all alone on the cross (cf. Mark 15:34) p. 37. This same opinion is given by Myles M. Bourke in the Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 385).

There is also a third option (taken from Bart D. Ehrman's, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Oxford Press, 1993, pp. 146-150) that scribes intentionally changed "apart from God" for theological reasons, specifically the theological threat of gnosticism.

This variant was known to Origen and Jerome. Also the word "apart" (chōris) is used thirteen times in Hebrews, which shows this author's tendency to use this term. Also according to Ehrman (p. 148), it always is followed by an anarthrous (no article) noun.

▣ "He might taste death" It is important to realize that suffering was in the will of God for Jesus Christ (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53:4,10; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21). This theme of suffering continues in the OT quotes found in the remainder of chapter 2.

▣ "for everyone" This context refers to the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ (cf. Isa. 53:6; Rom. 5:6,8,10,17-19; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Tim. 2:4,6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus died to deal with mankind's sin problem. The only thing that keeps all humans from being saved is their unwillingness to accept God's free gift in the finished work of Jesus Christ by faith (cf. John 3:17-21).

SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:10-13
 10For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11For 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, 12saying,
 "I will proclaim Your name to My brethren,
 In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise."
 And again,
 "I will put My trust in Him."
 13And again,
 "Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me."

2:10 "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things" Again, the pronouns are ambiguous. This could refer to God the Father (cf. Rom. 11:36) or the Son (cf. 1:2,3; Col. 1:15-17). Because Jesus is referred to as "the author" in the latter part of this verse, the earlier pronoun must refer to the Father. However, Jesus was the Father's agent in creation (cf. 1:2; John 1:3; I Cor. 8:6; 15:25-27) as He was in redemption and will be in judgment.

"in bringing many sons to glory" The family aspect of the new covenant is fully revealed in the remaining verses of chapter 2. Notice the number of family terms used. The goal of the new covenant is the restoration of the image of God in fallen mankind. The term "many" does not mean "some" as opposed to "all" (cf. v. 9, "everyone"). The terms "all" and "many" are used synonymously in the Bible (compare Isa. 53:6 with 11,12 and Rom. 9:18 with 19). Therefore, Mark 10:45 and 14:24 must refer to "all," not "some"! This cannot function as a proof-text for radical Calvinism (i.e., supra-lapsarian).

NASB"to perfect the author of their salvation"
NKJV"to make the author of their salvation perfect"
NRSV"should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect"
TEV"should make Jesus perfect"
NJB"make perfect. . .the leader of their salvation"

The term "perfect" (aorist active infinitive) meant "to be complete, mature, equipped for the assigned task" (cf. Eph. 4:12). The author of Hebrews uses "perfect" three times to describe Jesus (cf. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28) and three times to describe His followers (cf. 10:14; 11:40; 12:23). See Special Topic at 7:11.

Jesus was a true human being (cf. Luke 2:40,52). He grew in faith and obedience (cf. Luke 2:40,52). He was tested by adversity (cf. 5:8-9). He faced and overcame every spiritual obstacle (cf. 4:15). He became mankind's great example (cf. 1 Pet. 2:21).

SPECIAL TOPIC: AUTHOR/LEADER (ARCHĒGOS)

"through suffering" Jesus was perfected, humanly speaking, by suffering (cf. 5:8-9). Jesus often spoke of the trials and persecution His followers would face (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-19; 17:14).

The early church faced much opposition from the Jews, the pagans, the Roman government, and the evil one, but God took this opposition and turned it into a tool for producing trust and Christlikeness (cf. Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; and 1 Pet. 4:12-19). The truth can be illustrated from (1) the OT (cf. Heb. 11) and (2) Paul's ministry (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9-12; 6:4-10; 11:24-27).

2:11

NASB, NRSV"for both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified"
NKJV"for both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified"
TEV"He purifies people from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure"
NJB"For consecration and consecrated" 

This is a play on the term "holy" or "sanctified" (cf. 10:10,14). The first usage is a present active participle (Jesus) and the second is a present passive participle (His people, cf John 17:19). Jesus is identified with His people (cf. 1:14 and 2:6-8,9-18).

Believers are sanctified by the Father (cf. John 17:17; 1 Thess. 5:23); through the agency of the Son (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:10,14,29; 13:12); these aspects are united in Heb. 2:11.

1. a Holy Father

2. a Holy Son

3. holy believers (cf. 1 Pet. 1:13-25)

This is true both positionally and experientially. We are holy in Christ and we are called to be holy like Christ.

SPECIAL TOPIC: NEW TESTAMENT HOLINESS/SANCTIFICATION

"are all from one Father" "Father" is not in the Greek text (cf. NASB, NRSV, TEV). The pronoun "He" in the next phrase refers to Jesus (cf. NRSV, TEV, NIV). Therefore, perhaps the NJB's translation, "all of the same stock" or NIV's "are of the same family" fits the context best. If so, it is an emphasis on the humanity of Jesus (cf. v. 14).

"for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren" Jesus identifies Himself completely with believing mankind. Through His suffering the image of God is restored in them. The next three OT quotes (cf. vv. 12-13) seem somewhat out of context, but they are from Messianic passages using rabbinical word plays. The context of vv. 10-18 identifies Jesus completely with His followers:

1. they both proclaim the Father

2. they both praise the Father

3. they both put their trust in the Father

4. Jesus (cf. the "I" of v. 13b) and His followers ("children" of v. 13b) are linked by God the Father's gift to the Son

5. both Jesus and His followers share a human nature

6. both Jesus and His followers are tempted

 

2:12-13 This series of OT quotes describes how Jesus identifies with believers using these OT texts.

2:12 "I will proclaim your name to my brethren" This is from Ps. 22:22 which relates prophetically to the crucifixion.

"congregation"

SPECIAL TOPIC: CHURCH (EKKLESIA)

2:13 "I will put my trust in him" This phrase is a quote from Isa. 8:17. At this point let me add just a word about the author's continuing use of the Septuagint which is different, sometimes very different, from the Hebrew (Masoretic) text. There seems to be much controversy in our day related to different English translations. Some prefer one over another, sometimes even questioning the motives and Christianity of translators. If God's Spirit can use the Greek translation to communicate the gospel to the ancient near east, He can surely use the differing translations to do the same in our day. It is not a question of translation theory but the will of God that humans hear and believe the good news about Christ.

"Behold, I and the children whom god has given me" This is a quote from the Septuagint of Isa. 8:18. The whole point is to emphasize the unity of Jesus with believers (cf. v. 17).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:14-18
 14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and 15might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendants of Abraham. 17Therefore, 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. 18For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

2:14 "since" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purpose.

"the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same" The verb "share," (koinōnia) perfect active indicative]) speaks of the initial and continuing full humanity of Jesus Christ. Verses 14 and 17 emphasize the true humanity of Jesus which was the theological problem of the early gnostic heretics (cf. 1 John 4:1-6).

The phrase in Greek is literally "blood and flesh." This is exactly opposite from the normal use of the phrase. The rabbis used this phrase for the frailty of man. The author of Hebrews possibly reversed the phrase to show that although Jesus was human, He was not affected by mankind's sinful fall (cf. Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7-8).

Hebrews emphasizes both the deity (cf. 1:1-3; 4:14) and humanity of Jesus.

1. 2:14 took on human nature

2. 4:15 tempted in all ways as humans are

3. 5:7 prayed to the Father with loud crying and tears

4. 5:8-9 perfected by suffering

 

▣ "through death" By Jesus' death, death died! This is the Jewish corporate theology of sacrifice (cf. Lev. 1-7). One innocent One died on behalf of all (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 2 Cor. 5:14-15,21).

2:15 "might render powerless him" This is the very same term (katargeo) that the King James Version translates "destroy" both here and in Rom. 6:6. It certainly has this connotation in 2 Thess. 2:8. It is often difficult, even in context, to know if this verb should be translated "destroy/abolish" or "make null and void" (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24, 26; Eph. 2:15). However, the term also has the connotation of "to bring to naught, to make null and void, to render inoperative" (cf. Rom. 3:3, 31; 4:14; 6:6; I Cor. 2:6; 13:8; 2 Cor. 1:7).

SPECIAL TOPIC: NULL AND VOID (KATARGEŌ)

"who had the power of death, that is, the devil" Satan does not have the absolute power over death (cf. Job 2:4-6; 1 Cor. 5:5), but he does hold the power of the fear of death (cf. v. 15) which he holds over all mankind (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-57). There is a personal force of evil who is out to thwart all of God's will in this world (cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 4:4; 5:19). Jesus has abolished death (cf. 2 Tim. 1:10) and He has the keys of hades and death (cf. Rev. 1:18).

SPECIAL TOPIC: SATAN

2:16

NASB"For assuredly"
NKJV"For indeed"
NRSV, TEV"For it is clear"
NJB --omitted--

The NRSV and TEV express the idea best.

"He does not give help. . .He gives help" These are both present middle (deponent) indicatives. The "not" is placed first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. The verb is epilambanō, which is from the root lambanō, "to take" or "to grasp" with either positive or negative purposes. In this context it refers to Jesus' positive actions (cf. 8:9) on behalf of believing humans, which are never directed toward angels. Again Jesus and His followers are contrasted to the angelic world.

"to the descendants of Abraham" This is literally "the seed of Abraham." YHWH promised childless Abram that he would be the father of a great nation with many descendants (cf. Gen. 12:2; 15:2-6; 17: 4-7; 18:10, 18). The term "seed" can be plural or singular. Therefore, it refers to both the nation of Israel and the coming Messiah. From other NT Scriptures we realize that it relates to faith, not race or performance (cf. John 8:31-59; Gal. 3:7,9,29; Rom. 2:28.29). The Abrahamic promises are unconditional (cf. especially Gen. 15:12-21; Rom. 4), while the Mosaic covenant is conditional on obedience.

2:17 "He had to be made like His brethren in all things" Jesus' intercessory work on mankind's behalf is related to His complete understanding of our nature (cf. 2:11,18; 4:15) so He could be our great high priest.

"so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest"

SPECIAL TOPIC: JESUS AS HIGH PRIEST

▣ "to make propitiation for the sins of the people" The term "propitiation" is used in the Septuagint for the mercy seat (lid) over the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. However, its Greek connotation was to placate an angry deity, thereby removing the barriers between "the gods" and mankind. Because of this usage of the term modern translations are nervous about this connotation referring to YHWH (cf. RSV and NJB) and translate it as "expiation." Jesus brings together YHWH's justice and mercy (cf. 1 John 2:2; 4:10). However, we must not see this as an angry OT deity and a loving Jesus. The Father sent the Son (cf. John 3:16). The son represents and mimics the Father.

2:18 "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered" "He has suffered" is a perfect active indicative which speaks of the ongoing trials that Jesus faced. The term "tempted" (peiraz ō) has the connotation to tempt with a view toward destruction (cf. 4:15; Matt. 4:1). The evil one tried to destroy Him at Calvary, but God turned this into the great victory of redemption.

SPECIAL TOPIC: GREEK TERMS FOR TESTING AND THEIR CONNOTATIONS

▣ "He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" This same truth is repeated in 4:15. Jesus fully identifies with His needy people (cf. v. 17)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. List the ways the new covenant is superior to the Mosaic covenant.

2. Why does this author quote so often from the Mosaic covenant?

3. To whom are the warnings of chapter 2 directed?

4. Does 2:6-8 refer to mankind or Jesus?

5. Why did Jesus have to suffer and how is the Christian affected by suffering?

6. According to verse 14 does Satan have the power of death over the Christian?

7. List the reasons why Jesus came.