Lecture 06: Hebrews 2:10-18
Lecture: Hebrews 2:10-18
I. Hebrews 2:10-18
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not
ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
This section deals with the incarnation of Christ. This is the third movement in this section on the position of the Son in relation to the angels. The first was the Son being superior to the angels; we looked at the transition in 2:5-9 and then where the Son became lower than the angels to suffer for the Son. In this section, as we move through 10-18 we first see the purpose and the process. The purpose has it focusing on the incarnation for a very specific purpose. Why does the author need to focus on the incarnation here at the point? Eventually this will take him to Christ’s high priest hood. One point here is that the high priest is taken among the people. You see this in chapter 5:1; every high priest is taken among men. There is another reason that also has to do with high priesthood which is sacrifice. Jesus could not have died if he had not been human. That is the emphasis in this passage; he had to take on flesh and blood so that he might render powerless through death. So, the purpose of this unit on incarnation is to move toward high priesthood by focusing on the humanity of Christ. Millard Ericson speaks on humanity, the incarnation saying that the incarnation adding humanity to his deity. That is what we find in this passage.
The author is doing a running commentary again. In verse 12 and 13, he quotes two Old Testament passages. These passages don’t seem to be high impact types of quotations, but the process he uses is quoting the passages that have to do with solidarity with people. He brings in these Old Testament passages that show that Jesus had solidarity with other people. In verse 10 it was fitting for him for whom all things and through whom are all things. This has to do with course or direction and then next it communicates agency. So, it was fitting for him for whom are all things and through whom are all
things, bringing many sons to glory to perfect the author of their salvation through suffering. Fitting here means a type of organizational working; it was designed to fit together being appropriate to each other. In being perfected through suffering, it doesn’t mean that he was flawed before this process. Perfection in Hebrews has to do with idea of coming all the way to a point of something being completed. For Jesus, this means that suffering was a part of the path that Jesus had to make it all the way through in order to get to the point which the Father designed in terms of the author of our salvation. It was perfection in the sense of going through the things that he had to go through. In terms of Jesus’ experience, he has a new experience that makes him fit for something. For example, seminary is giving you an experience that you are going all the way through that will make you more suitable for the ministry that God has for you.
So, to perfect Christ through suffering specifically; this was appropriate to God using him to bring many sons to glory. How? Theologically, there is identification in terms of high priesthood. It is also very much in line with the character of God in terms of his holiness, there had to be a sacrifice for sin. It also deals with the love of God which involves coming after us. There are huge implications from this. C.S. Lewis used the imagery of someone diving off deep into the dark depths of a pond. That is what the incarnation must have felt like to Christ. Then he experienced resurrection and exhortation coming back into the light again. Think about Christ experiencing all of our humanity, all the aspects of who we are as human beings, what it means to be human. Jesus had normal human functions; he suffered in his humanity. So, it was fitting and in line with God’s nature and character to both provides sacrifice for sin and to come after us because of his love for us. So, it was fitting for him to perfect Jesus as a means of bringing this about.
In verse 11, for the ones sanctified and being sanctified are all out of one; there are different ways to translate this: all from one origin or father. Because of the context here, they are all out of one experience of being human. They share a common experience of being human. There is also an emphasis on family relationships in the passage and so that is why some translate it as being from one father. But I think the emphasis might be on origin or experience. This is a statement of solidarity. He wasn’t ashamed to call them brothers.
In verses 12 and 13 you have these quotations. The first quotation is Psalm 22 saying that I will announce or proclaim your name to my brothers:
12 λέγων (saying,) απαγγελώ (I will report) το όνομά σου (your name) τοις (to) αδελφοίς μου (my brethren;) εν (in) μέσω (the midst) εκκλησίας (of the assembly) υμνήσω (I will sing praise to) σε (you.)
13 και (And) πάλιν (again,) εγώ (I) έσομαι (will be) πεποιθώς (yielding) επ΄ (upon) αυτώ (him.) και (And) πάλιν (again,) ιδού (Behold,) εγώ (I) και (and) τα (the) παιδία (children) α (which) μοι έδωκεν (gave to me) ο θεός (God.)
Then you have, I will praise you. I will proclaim your name to my brothers in the midst of the assembly. I will give you praise. This is from Psalm 22:1. It doesn’t seem to be very striking at first, but this is a prophecy concerning the sufferings of Christ. This is a messianic passage and is the origin of the words
said by Jesus on the Cross. Verses 7 and 8 of the same Psalm constitute a taut by wicked people against Jesus as the righteous sufferer. ‘He trusted in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him.’ These are echoed around the Cross in Matthew 27:43. Psalm 22:16-18 tell of the piercing of the sufferer’s hands and feet, the wholeness of his bones and the game played for his clothing. So Psalm 22 foreshadows the crucifixion and depicts the suffering of the righteous person. When you get to Psalm 22:22, you find a shift in mood. The righteous one praises God for his help. The Psalm supports the afore mentioned
solidarity between Jesus and believers with the reference to brothers. Christians are part of the Son’s family with the phrase, ‘in the presence of the congregation.’ In light of this messianic backdrop; it is a song of confidence of being in the midst of the congregation praising God even in the light of suffering.
The second Old Testament passage which is quoted in two parts in verse 13 is Isaiah 8:17-18. This also has very strong messianic overtones. In Isaiah 8:14, this refers to a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall; these are words used in the New Testament to speak of the Messiah. This is in Romans 9:33 and 1 st Peter 2:8 for example. The first part of the Hebrews passage quoted from Isaiah 8 says that I will put my trust in him. Originally, if you go back and look at that passage in Isaiah, this expression of faith expresses the prophet’s trust in God in the face of the Assyrian crises. Hebrews applies this statement to Jesus’ trust in the Father. The portion that is quoted next: ‘here I am’ points to the Son’s location among people being in relationship with him as a family. So, these two passages are from highly messianic contexts in the Old Testament. Again, they speak about Jesus’ solidarity with the people of God. Here, solidarity has the meaning of oneness.
2. Hebrews 2:14-16:
In verses 14 and 15, there is an emphasis on the purpose of the incarnation which is Jesus having to become human to die. Since the children have shared flesh and blood, also he likewise partook of the same.
14 επεί (Since) ούν (then) τα (the) παιδία (children) κεκοινώνηκε (have participated of) σαρκός (flesh) και (and) αίματος (blood,) και (also) αυτός (he) παραπλησίως (closely) μετέσχε (partook) των (of the) αυτών (same,) ίνα (that) διά (through) του θανάτου (death) καταργήση (he should cease the work,)
τον (the one) το (the) κράτος (might) έχοντα (having) του θανάτου (of death,) τουτ΄ έστι (that is to say) -- τον the διάβολον (devil;)
15 και (and) απαλλάξη (should dismiss) τούτους (those,) όσοι (as many as) φόβω (by fear) θανάτου (of death) διά (on account of) παντός (all) του (of the) ζην (living,) ένοχοι ήσαν (were liable) δουλείας (of servitude.)
Henna here shows purpose; in order that, through death he might abolish or annul or make it ineffective the power or the one having the power of death. Through death, he might nullify the one having the power of death that is the devil. So, through his experience of death, he was able to deal with the issue of death and nullify death. This nullification involves something like taking on the suffering yourself. In Jesus’ case, taking on the suffering, sin no longer has the ability to destroy us. So, Christ has made death itself dead; he has nullified it. Death in terms of its ultimate power, no longer exist for us.
Philosophical Readings from the ancient world show us that there was a terror in death. The fear of death was overpowering; a writer from the 1st century asks, ‘where can I go to escape death? Show me the country, the people to whom I may go. I cannot avoid death.’ This is seen in verse 15. So, Christ nullified, he took the power away from the one having the power of death so he would not be the ultimate enemy. He tells us that person is the devil. He liberated those who through a fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. So, the idea of being enslaved to this fear; we are liberated from it because of what Christ has done. The fact that he has already gone through the experience and defeated it gives us liberty. Death is still an enemy; it is scary because it is the unknown. It is something that we haven’t experienced before. In graduating from college, I was hit with my mortality. To that point, you feel that you will live forever. Now that I am in midlife, I realize that this life will not go on forever. A lot of things remind me of this; like my hair for example. I used to play a lot of basketball with friends but as I have gotten older with students staying the same age, playing basketball got harder and harder, but at the same time, it is going to be exciting to see the Lord. Death now has become a doorway. I will experience a renewal in the resurrection body. So, Christ has defeated death. We have a real and powerful hope. In verse 15, it says that we have been liberated from the fear of death. This has come by Christ giving his own death and his resurrection.
In verse 16, a term here that is also used in chapter 8:9. This is translated in different ways: one, for he does not give help to angels. It can also be translated as assumed. He does not assume angels; in other words, he doesn’t take the form of angels. It has the overall sense of help or come to the aid of. He helps the seed of Abraham. The idea is coming to our aid, coming to help us at our time of need. This statement leads into the conclusion of this unit in verses 17 and 18 which is on the high priesthood of Christ.
3. Hebrews 2:17-18:
Here in verse 17, he says therefore, it was necessary for him to become like the brothers in every way in order that he might become merciful and faithful high priest in the things pertaining to God. This also communicates purpose or results. He would become a high priest in order to take care of our sins. In verse 18 says that which he has suffered and tempted; he was able to help the ones being tempted.
4. High Priesthood:
This is the first statement of the book talking about the high priesthood. Elements in regard to this include that statement of solidarity, a shared experience. The author is playing off of Old Testament material. The priest’s role is making a sacrifice for sin. He helps for he is sensitive to others and has experienced temptation himself. He is also faithful. The experience of being tempted is an aspect of what it means to be high priest. This is a transitional unit where the author is moving to the section on the high priesthood of Jesus. The book’s structure shows that this is the last statement in the initial section on Christ in relation to the angels. In crafting the discourse, the author includes a number of elements that is found at the beginning of the next section of Christology. That begins in 4:14-16 and goes all the way to 10:19-25. This fore shallows some of the main themes in the center section. A number of these elements work out the transition.
Let’s consider some of the implications; such as the theme of solidarity of Christ with us, the significance of Christ’s death and so how would we preach this passage? The top two or three main principles includes Christ identifying with us, the power over death and suffering being a means of that, the working out of salvation. There is a realization that Christ has indeed suffered and had been tempted. This suffering includes the crucifixion and the incarnation of Christ. Christ radially identifies with us and understands our experience. How do you respond to such a question could Jesus have sinned? This is a favorite theological kind of question. So, what was the nature of Christ being tested? The temptation was indeed real; this had to be. As a human, Jesus could have sinned but as divine he would not have sinned. We have James 1, a passage saying that God cannot be tempted with sin. How does this fit with Hebrews talking about the temptation of Christ? In the incarnation, humanity was taken up into the Trinity. If Christ was fully human and experienced resurrection as human, there becomes a radical identification to humanity. This means that God can identify deeply with us because of the experience of the incarnate Christ.
Note that even though the Book of Hebrews was so Jewish in orientation; many of the Roman Christians were probably God-fearing gentiles that came out of the synagogue. So, I don’t believe that these were all ethnic Jews. The idea of the seed of Abraham is fulfilled in all of us; not just fulfilled in people who are ethnically Jewish. The New Israel in the new covenant I believe includes us. Some interpret this as those of the elect.