The Superiority of the New Dispensation.
SUMMARY.--The Danger of Neglecting the Great Salvation; the Salvation Offered by Christ. The Superiority of Christ to the Angels Further Shown. Christ, the Divine Man, Put Over All Things. Fitted to be Our Savior by Taking upon Himself Humanity; and by Suffering. Hence, He Took Not the Nature of Angels, But Became the Seed of Abraham. He, a Tempted and Suffering Savior, Can Succor Us Who Suffer and Are Tempted.
1-4. Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed. Because the message to us is spoken, not by angels or prophets, but by the Son of God. To the things which we have heard. To Christ's gospel, and to his words of instruction. Lest . . . we should let them slip. Lest we should let them slip from us because we drift away from them and refuse to heed them. 2. For if the word spoken by angels. The Jewish law. See notes on Acts 7:53 and Gal. 3:19. The law was given through the medium of angels, as was confessed by the Jews. See Josephus, Antiq. XV: 5, section 3. Was steadfast. Confirmed by a penalty upon transgressors. Every transgression. Nothing is plainer in all Jewish history than that obedience to the law was rewarded and disobedience punished. 3. How shall we escape. How then, if this was true of the law, can we hope to escape if he neglect the message of the Son? So great salvation. Not a temporal, but an eternal salvation, the salvation of the gospel. Begun to be spoken by the Lord. More especially after his death and resurrection when he bade his disciples go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Was confirmed to us. If Paul was the writer of Hebrews he places himself in the position of the church, for elsewhere he tells us plainly that he received the gospel from the Lord himself. The apostles who had heard and seen the risen Christ first proclaimed his gospel publicly on Pentecost, an event evidently alluded to in this passage. 4. God bearing them witness. God bore witness to the truth of their words by the signs and wonders of Pentecost. He also bore witness afterwards by giving them miraculous powers, and by the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. Note that when he Law was given on Sinai God bore witness by signs and wonders. Also when the gospel, the message of Christ, was given on Mt. Zion God bore witness with signs and wonders.
5-12. The world to come. Literally, "the inhabited earth in the future." The Jewish dispensation was called by the Jews "the present world." A dispensation following it would be "the world to come." The reference is rather to the future gospel ages than to the eternal world. These are not subjected to the angels. 6. But one in a certain place. David, in Ps. 8:4 . 7. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels. Man, for the time, was made lower than the angels. Yet he was crowned, as the Psalmist tells us, with glory and honor, and given dominion. 8. Thou hadst put all things in subjection under his feet. This introduces the point of the quotation. It declares that all things (except God, 1 Cor. 15:27 ) have been made subject to man. But we do not see our race in dominion over the heavens, the powers of nature and eternal world. 9. But we see Jesus. Jesus is the solution of the problem. He was made while in the flesh on earth apparently lower than the angels, and suffered death, but he, the Son of Man, who died as mortals die, the now glorified man, has "all power in heaven and in earth" ( Matt. 28:18 ). Through him, the Son of Man, all things are subjected to glorified humanity. Taste death for every man. To die. He became man in order that he might die for every man, and because of the suffering of death was crowned ( Phil. 2:9 ). It was after his suffering that "all power was given unto his hands." Compare 1 Cor. 15:27 Eph. 1:20 Phil. 3:21 . 10. For it became him. It became God, was fitting, and God's purpose. For whom are all things. God, who is over all and possesses all. Paul uses this expression Rom. 11:36 Colossians 1:6 Colossians 1:1 1 Cor. 8:6 . The captain of their salvation. Christ, a Prince and a Leader. Perfect. Not perfect in holiness, for he was sinless, but perfectly fitted to be our Savior. To this end it was needful that he should also suffer as one of our race. 11. Both he that sanctifieth. He who makes men holy by purging them of their sins, and those who are made holy are all of one. Are made of one nature because he took our nature and suffered. Hence he is not ashamed to call all the saved, though they are mortals, by the name of brethren. This is done in the Hebrew Scriptures ( Ps. 22:22 ). The language quoted from the Psalm is ascribed to Christ, but is addressed to God. The point is that the speaker calls the worshipers brethren. 12. In the midst of the church. In the Psalm "Congregation" is the term used. The Revision has so rendered it here.
13-15. And again. A quotation is now given from Isa. 8:17 , in which the Messiah is represented associating himself with the saints as all children of God. The point is that Christ makes himself the brother of the saved. Isaiah 8:17 Isaiah 8:18 are quoted in order to give this point clearly. 14. He himself likewise. As these children are all mortal he, though divine, took on himself our mortality. He did this, that through death he might bring to nought the power of him who first brought death on our race. It was needful that he be clothed with mortality in order to die, and needful to die in order to deliver men from the power of sin and give them a glorious hope. 15. That he might deliver them. Not only from sin, which gives death its sting, but from all fear of death by giving the hope of a blessed life to come.
16-18. He took not the nature. He did not lay hold of an angel form in order to save angels, but the human form and nature, in order to be our Savior. He chose to be the seed of Abraham, being the Son of Mary, a descendant of Abraham. 17. It behoved him to be made like his brethren. Hence, for the reasons given above, it was necessary that he take our nature. A merciful and faithful high priest. To be our high priest he must be in full sympathy with us, having experienced our trials and our sufferings. To make propitiation. As our high priest he made atonement for us. Conscious of all our frailties he intercedes for us. In him, the Divine man, all who are found in him are justified before God. 18. In that he suffered, he is able to sympathize with all who suffer and to succor all who have trials and need help.
These two chapters show that Christ is higher than the angels, and hence that the gospel is superior in its demands to the Law. They show that to Christ as the Son of Man, subjected to death, and glorified, all things have been subjected; that he becomes a brother to the saints, and that he took our nature, suffered and tasted death, in order that he might become a faithful and merciful high priest, touched with a feeling of our infirmities, able to make atonement for us, and to come to us with an Elder Brother's help in every time of need.