Paying Attention to the Message (2:1-4)
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
2:1 We begin to see the motivation the author has for writing the letter. Lest we drift from it is a consistent theme. What seems to be apparent, and this will become very clear later, is that his audience, his close friends whom he cares a great deal for, are, to varying degrees, drifting away from their profession of faith in Jesus. “Since Jesus is a being far superior to any angel, we must pay closer attention to what he said or we may drift away.” Remember, God spoke indirectly through the prophets, but now directly through Jesus.
2:2 He brings us back to the Old Testament and reminds us that messages declared by angels were reliable. Every warning was carried out. Lot was told by an angel that Sodom was going to be destroyed (Gen 19:15). Gabriel brought a prophetic message to Daniel (Dan 8:16-26). An angel told Elisha a message about the death of Ahaziah (2 Ki 1:4,17).
2:3 Since messages delivered through God's angelic emisaries proved to be true, how much more the direct revelation from God’s own son on how to receive forgiveness and be in right-standing with God. Jesus died to pay for your sins and he “is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” How can you possibly escape the judgement of God if we ignore what Jesus said?
2:4 The necessity of two witnesses was crucial in the Hebrew culture. So that Jesus was not a solitary witness, God provided the second witness by the signs, wonders and miracles, and also by gifts of the Holy Spirit that He distributed as He saw fit.
Jesus' Humiliation and Glory (2:5-9)
5For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Continuing to contrast Jesus and angels, the author now speaks to that time where Jesus, as Paul wrote, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Phil 2:6-7)
2:5 When the author mentions the world to come I believe he is speaking of the current age or the Church Age, the time between Jesus ascention and his return. This time in which we currently live is subjected to governing angels, but to Jesus himself.
2:6 Citing from Psalm 8, he shows that the earthly ministry of Jesus was clearly taught in the Old Testament. Both man and son of man refer to Jesus.
2:7 As a student I was once asked by the teacher "What Old Testament book has the most prophetic references to Jesus and who was the gretest OT Prophet." I quickly guessed Isaiah, but was informed that by far the most refernces to Christ are found in the Psalms and that David had more to say about Jesus than any other. Here Ps 8:5 speaks directly to Jesus leaving his glory in heaven, and then returning crowned...with glory and honor.
Jesus Perfected Through Suffering (2:10-13)
10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
“I will put my trust in him.”
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
2:10 There are several parts of vs. 10 that can be a little tricky. First, the pronouns are not entirely clear. We should read it like this: "For it was fitting that [God the Father], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation [Jesus] perfect through suffering." The emphasis is still on what The Father has done, and what The Son has accomlished during his earthy ministry.
But what about Jesus needed made perfect? If he is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (1:3) then it seems not to fit. To say that something is made perfect implies that it was not perfect to begin with, that there was a flaw or deficciency. Just how could Jesus be improved upon, or perfected?
It’s not that Jesus had an imperfection or flaw, rather the suffering that Jesus experienced as a man made him perfect for his future ministries, specifically his role as High Priest, which the author will focus a large part of this letter on. The temptation in the wilderness made him perfect (c.f. 4:15) . The rejection by his people made him perfect. The pain, the suffering, the mistreatment, the beatings. All of that perfected Jesus in that he can now say "I've been there." It’s not simply the death of a sinless person that could have bought our salvation. If so, then Jesus could have died as a baby and saved himself a lot of trouble. He was made lower than the angels, and through that he became the perfect sacrifice and the perfect High Priest. In order to be a perfect High Priest you need to be able to sympathize with those you are representing. You cannot do that unless you’ve shared their experiences.
2:11-13 he who sanctifies (that’s Jesus) and those who are sanctified (that’s Christians), all have one source. There are 3 relationships described in the Bible: Father/Son, Husband/Wife, Brother/Brother. Here is another way that Jesus was made a perfect sacrifice (I’m not saying that Jesus was not eternally perfect as God the Son!). In becoming a human, now Jesus can relate to us as a brother. AMAZING! The eternal, sovereign creator of the universe becomes a man and so closely identifies himself with us that he considers us his brothers.
2:12 This time quoting from Psalm 22:22, Jesus describes His ministry, to draw Believers, His brothers, near to God the Father, telling us about Him and singing to us the Praises of the Father.
2:13 Quoted from Isaiah 8:18, the idea here is that we and Jesus are being portrayed as a common family.
Made Like Us to be our High Priest 2:14-18
14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
2:14 In the same way that we are flesh and blood, Jesus during His incarnation was flesh and blood. He had to become human so that he could die, and through his death he would destroy, that is "to ruin", the devil.
2:15 ...or, more clearly, he would destroy the devil’s power over those whom Christ freed.
2:16 The author is staying very Jewish here, noting that it’s the children of Abraham that Jesus came to free from captivity. But, who are the real children of Abraham? Both Galatians 3:29 and Romans 9:7 make it clear that it it not the natural born descendants who are Abraham's true children, but people who have true Faith in God.
2:17 In order to help the children of Abraham, he had to become just like them in every respect or in all things, so that he could be a merciful and faithful High Priest. And here is another way that Jesus was made perfect, or perfected (again, I’m not saying that Jesus was not eternally perfect as God the Son!). And, so that he could make propitiation for the people. The NIV changes this word, but you’ll see it in Paul’s writings (Romans 3:25), here in Hebrews and also in John’s writings (1 John 2:2, 4:10).
2:18 Again, explaining the importance and necessity of His humanity, because He suffered when He was tempted He is able to help us when we are tempted.