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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - HEBREWS 2
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    CHAPTER 2

    Heb 2:1-18. DANGER OF NEGLECTING SO GREAT SALVATION, FIRST SPOKEN BY CHRIST; TO WHOM, NOT TO ANGELS, THE NEW DISPENSATION WAS SUBJECTED; THOUGH HE WAS FOR A TIME HUMBLED BELOW THE ANGELS: THIS HUMILIATION TOOK PLACE BY DIVINE NECESSITY FOR OUR SALVATION.

    1. Therefore--Because Christ the Mediator of the new covenant is so far (Heb 1:5-14) above all angels, the mediators of the old covenant.
    - the more earnest--Greek, "the more abundantly."
    - heard--spoken by God (Heb 1:1); and by the Lord (Heb 2:3).
    - let them slip--literally "flow past them" (Heb 4:1).

    2. (Compare Heb 2:3.) Argument a fortiori.
    - spoken by angels--the Mosaic law spoken by the ministration of angels (De 33:2; Ps 68:17; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19). When it is said, Ex 20:1, "God spake," it is meant He spake by angels as His mouthpiece, or at least angels repeating in unison with His voice the words of the Decalogue; whereas the Gospel was first spoken by the Lord alone.
    - was steadfast--Greek, "was made steadfast," or "confirmed": was enforced by penalties on those violating it.
    - transgression--by doing evil; literally, overstepping its bounds: a positive violation of it.
    - disobedience--by neglecting to do good: a negative violation of it.
    - recompense-- (De 32:35).

    3. we--who have received the message of salvation so clearly delivered to us (compare Heb 12:25).
    - so great salvation--embodied in Jesus, whose very name means "salvation," including not only deliverance from foes and from death, and the grant of temporal blessings (which the law promised to the obedient), but also grace of the Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of heaven, glory, and eternal life (Heb 2:10).
    - which--"inasmuch as it is a salvation which began," &c.
    - spoken by the Lord--as the instrument of proclaiming it. Not as the law, spoken by the instrumentality of angels (Heb 2:2). Both law and Gospel came from God; the difference here referred to lay in the instrumentality by which each respectively was promulgated (compare Heb 2:5). Angels recognize Him as "the Lord" (Mt 28:6; Lu 2:11).
    - confirmed unto us--not by penalties, as the law was confirmed, but by spiritual gifts (Heb 2:4).
    - by them that heard him--(Compare Lu 1:2). Though Paul had a special and independent revelation of Christ (Ga 1:16, 17, 19), yet he classes himself with those Jews whom he addresses, "unto us"; for like them in many particulars (for example, the agony in Gethsemane, Heb 5:7), he was dependent for autoptic information on the twelve apostles. So the discourses of Jesus, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, and the first proclamation of the Gospel kingdom by the Lord (Mt 4:17), he could only know by the report of the Twelve: so the saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac 20:35). Paul mentions what they had heard, rather than what they had seen, conformably with what he began with, Heb 1:1, 2, "spake . . . spoken." Appropriately also in his Epistles to Gentiles, he dwells on his independent call to the apostleship of the Gentiles; in his Epistle to the Hebrews, he appeals to the apostles who had been long with the Lord (compare Ac 1:21; 10:41): so in his sermon to the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia (Ac 13:31); and "he only appeals to the testimony of these apostles in a general way, in order that he may bring the Hebrews to the Lord alone" [BENGEL], not to become partisans of particular apostles, as Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, and James, the bishop of Jerusalem. This verse implies that the Hebrews of the churches of Palestine and Syria (or those of them dispersed in Asia Minor [BENGEL], 1Pe 1:1, or in Alexandria) were primarily addressed in this Epistle; for of none so well could it be said, the Gospel was confirmed to them by the immediate hearers of the Lord: the past tense, "was confirmed," implies some little time had elapsed since this testification by eye-witnesses.

    4. them--rather, "God also [as well as Christ, Heb 2:3] bearing witness to it," &c., joining in attestation of it."
    - signs and wonders--performed by Christ and His apostles. "Signs" and miracles, or other facts regarded as proofs of a divine mission; "wonders" are miracles viewed as prodigies, causing astonishment (Ac 2:22, 33); "powers" are miracles viewed as evidences of superhuman power.
    - divers miracles--Greek, "varied (miraculous) powers" (2Co 12:12) granted to the apostles after the ascension.
    - gifts, &c.--Greek, "distributions." The gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Christ without measure (Joh 3:34), but to us it is distributed in various measures and operations (Ro 12:3, 6, &c.; 1Co 12:4-11).
    - according to his own will--God's free and sovereign will, assigning one gift of the Spirit to one, another to another (Ac 5:32; Eph 1:5).

    5. For--confirming the assertion, Heb 2:2, 3, that the new covenant was spoken by One higher than the mediators of the old covenant, namely, angels. Translate in the Greek order, to bring out the proper emphasis, "Not the angels hath He," &c.
    - the world to come--implying, He has subjected to angels the existing world, the Old Testament dispensation (then still partly existing as to its framework), Heb 2:2, the political kingdom of the earth (Da 4:13; 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1), and the natural elements (Re 9:11; 16:4). and even individuals (Mt 18:10). "The world to come" is the new dispensation brought in by Christ, beginning in grace here, to be completed in glory hereafter. It is called "to come," or "about to be," as at the time of its being subjected to Christ by the divine decree, it was as yet a thing of the future, and is still so to us, in respect to its full consummation. In respect to the subjecting of all things to Christ in fulfilment of Ps 8:1-9, the realization is still "to come." Regarded from the Old Testament standpoint, which looks prophetically forward to the New Testament (and the Jewish priesthood and Old Testament ritual were in force then when Paul wrote, and continued till their forcible abrogation by the destruction of Jerusalem), it is "the world to come"; Paul, as addressing Jews, appropriately calls it so, according to their conventional way of viewing it. We, like them, still pray, "Thy kingdom come"; for its manifestation in glory is yet future. "This world" is used in contrast to express the present fallen condition of the world (Eph 2:2). Believers belong not to this present world course, but by faith rise in spirit to "the world to come," making it a present, though internal. reality. Still, in the present world, natural and social, angels are mediately rulers under God in some sense: not so in the coming world: man in it, and the Son of man, man's Head, are to be supreme. Hence greater reverence was paid to angels by men in the Old Testament than is permitted in the New Testament. For man's nature is exalted in Christ now, so that angels are our "fellow servants" (Re 22:9). In their ministrations they stand on a different footing from that on which they stood towards us in the Old Testament. We are "brethren" of Christ in a nearness not enjoyed even by angels (Heb 2:10-12, 16).

    6. But--It is not to angels the Gospel kingdom is subject, BUT . . .
    - one . . . testified--the usual way of quoting Scripture to readers familiar with it. Ps 8:5-7 praises Jehovah for exalting MAN, so as to subject all the works of God on earth to him: this dignity having been lost by the first Adam, is realized only in Christ the Son of man, the Representative Man and Head of our redeemed race. Thus Paul proves that it is to MAN, not to angels, that God has subjected the "world to come." In Heb 2:6-8, MAN is spoken of in general ("him . . . him . . . his); then at Heb 2:9, first JESUS is introduced as fulfilling, as man, all the conditions of the prophecy, and passing through death Himself; and so consequently bringing us men, His "brethren," to "glory and honor."
    - What, &c.--How insignificant in himself, yet how exalted by God's grace! (Compare Ps 144:3). The Hebrew, "Enosh" and "Ben-Adam," express "man" and "Son of man" in his weakness: "Son of man" is here used of any and every child of man: unlike, seemingly, the lord of creation, such as he was originally (Ge 1:1-2:25), and such as he is designed to be (Ps 8:1-9), and such as he actually is by title and shall hereafter more fully be in the person of, and in union with, Jesus, pre-eminently the Son of man (Heb 2:9).
    - art mindful--as of one absent.
    - visitest--lookest after him, as one present.

    7. a little--not as BENGEL, "a little time."
    - than the angels--Hebrew, "than God," "Elohim," that is, the abstract qualities of God, such as angels possess in an inferior form; namely, heavenly, spiritual, incorporeal natures. Man, in his original creation, was set next beneath them. So the man Jesus, though Lord of angels, when He emptied Himself of the externals of His Divinity (see on Php 2:6, 7), was in His human nature "a little lower than the angels"; though this is not the primary reference here, but man in general.
    - crownedst him with glory and honour--as the appointed kingly vicegerent of God over this earth (Ge 1:1-2:25).
    - and didst set him over the works of thy hands--omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; but read by others and by oldest versions: so Ps 8:6, "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands."

    8. (1Co 15:27.)
    - For in that--that is, "For in that" God saith in the eighth Psalm, "He put the all things (so the Greek, the all things just mentioned) in subjection under him (man), He left nothing . . . As no limitation occurs in the sacred writing, the "all things" must include heavenly, as well as earthly things (compare 1Co 3:21, 22).
    - But now--As things now are, we see not yet the all things put under man.

    9. But--We see not man as yet exercising lordship over all things, "but rather, Him who was made a little lower than the angels (compare Lu 22:43), we behold (by faith: a different Greek verb from that for 'we see,' Heb 2:8, which expresses the impression which our eyes passively receive from objects around us; whereas, 'we behold,' or 'look at,' implies the direction and intention of one deliberately regarding something which he tries to see: so Heb 3:19; 10:25, Greek), namely, Jesus, on account of His suffering of death, crowned," &c. He is already crowned, though unseen by us, save by faith; hereafter all things shall be subjected to Him visibly and fully. The ground of His exaltation is "on accoumt of His having suffered death" (Heb 2:10; Php 2:8, 9).
    - that he by the grace of God-- (Tit 2:11; 3:4). The reading of ORIGEN, "That He without God" (laying aside His Divinity; or, for every being save God: or perhaps alluding to His having been temporarily "forsaken," as the Sin-bearer, by the Father on the cross), is not supported by the manuscripts. The "that," &c., is connected with "crowned with glory," &c., thus: His exaltation after sufferings is the perfecting or consummation of His work (Heb 2:10) for us: without it His death would have been ineffectual; with it, and from it, flows the result that His tasting of death is available for (in behalf of, for the good of) every man. He is crowned as the Head in heaven of our common humanity, presenting His blood as the all-prevailing plea for us. This coronation above makes His death applicable for every individual man (observe the singular; not merely "for all men"), Heb 4:14; 9:24; 1Jo 2:2. "Taste death" implies His personal experimental undergoing of death: death of the body, and death (spiritually) of the GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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