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Print Version Main Index : Commentaries : Wesley's Notes : Hebrews Index : Chapter 2

Hebrews, Chapter 2
Chapter 1 | Chapter 3
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View Hebrews 2 in the note window.

In this and the two following chapters the apostle sub - joins an exhortation, answering each head of the preceding chapter.

1: Lest we should let them slip - As water out of a leaky vessel. So the Greek word properly signifies.

2: In giving the law, God spoke by angels; but in proclaiming the gospel, by his Son. Steadfast - Firm and valid. Every transgression - Commission of sin. Every disobedience - Omission of duty.

3: So great a salvation - A deliverance from so great wickedness and misery, into so great holiness and happiness. This was first spoken of (before he came it was not known) by Him who is the Lord - of angels as well as men. And was confirmed to us - Of this age, even every article of it. By them that had heard him - And had been themselves also both eye - witnesses and ministers of the word.

4: By signs and wonders - While he lived. And various miracles and distributions of the Holy Ghost - Miraculous gifts, distributed after his exaltation. According to his will - Not theirs who received them.

5: This verse contains a proof of the third; the greater the salvation is, and the more glorious the Lord whom we despise, the greater will be our punishment. God hath not subjected the world to come - That is, the dispensation of the Messiah; which being to succeed the Mosaic was usually styled by the Jews, the world to come, although it is still in great measure to come Whereof we now speak - Of which I am now speaking. In this last great dispensation the Son alone presides.

6: What is man - To the vast expanse of heaven, to the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained! This psalm seems to have been composed by David, in a clear, moonshiny, and starlight night, while he was contemplating the wonderful fabric of heaven; because in his magnificent description of its luminaries, he takes no notice of the sun, the most glorious of them all. The words here cited concerning dominion were doubtless in some sense applicable to Adam; although in their complete and highest sense, they belong to none but the second Adam. Or the son of man, that thou visitest him - The sense rises: we are mindful of him that is absent; but to visit, denotes the care of a present God.(Ps 8:4).

7: Thou hast made him - Adam. A little lower than the angels - The Hebrew is, a little lower than (that is, next to) God. Such was man as he came out of the hands of his Creator: it seems, the highest of all created beings. But these words are also in a farther sense, as the apostle here shows, applicable to the Son of God. It should be remembered that the apostles constantly cited the Septuagint translation, very frequently without any variation. It was not their business, in writing to the Jews, who at that time had it in high esteem, to amend or alter this, which would of consequence have occasioned disputes without end.

8: Now this putting all things under him, implies that there is nothing that is not put under him. But it is plain, this is not done now, with regard to man in general.

9: It is done only with regard to Jesus, God - Man, who is now crowned with glory and honour - As a reward for his having suffered death. He was made a little lower than the angels - Who cannot either suffer or die. That by the grace of God, he might taste death - An expression denoting both the reality of his death, and the shortness of its continuance. For every man - That ever was or will be born into the world.

10: In this verse the apostle expresses, in his own words, what he expressed before in those of the Psalmist. It became him - It was suitable to all his attributes, both to his justice, goodness, and wisdom. For whom - As their ultimate end. And by whom - As their first cause. Are all things, in bringing many adopted sons to glory - To this very thing, that they are sons, and are treated as such To perfect the captain - Prince, leader, and author of their salvation, by his atoning sufferings for them. To perfect or consummate implies the bringing him to a full and glorious end of all his troubles, (Heb 5:9). This consummation by sufferings intimates,

  1. the glory of Christ, to whom, being consummated, all things are made subject.
  2. The preceding sufferings.
Of these he treats expressly, (Heb 2:11-18); having before spoken of his glory, both to give an edge to his exhortation, and to remove the scandal of sufferings and death. A fuller consideration of both these points he interweaves with the following discourse on his priesthood. But what is here said of our Lord's being made perfect through sufferings, has no relation to our being saved or sanctified by sufferings. Even he himself was perfect, as God and as man, before ever be suffered. By his sufferings, in his life and death, he was made a perfect or complete sin - offering. But unless we were to be made the same sacrifice, and to atone for sin, what is said of him in this respect is as much out of our sphere as his ascension into heaven. It is his atonement, and his Spirit carrying on "the work of faith with power" in our hearts, that alone can sanctify us. Various afflictions indeed may be made subservient to this; and so far as they are blessed to the weaning us from sin, and causing our affections to be set on things above, so far they do indirectly help on our sanctification.

11: For - They are nearly related to each other. He that sanctifieth - Christ,(Heb 13:12). And all they that are sanctified - That are brought to God; that draw near or come to him, which are synonymous terms. Are all of one - Partakers of one nature, from one parent, Adam.

12: I will declare thy name to my brethren - Christ declares the name of God, gracious and merciful, plenteous in goodness and truth, to all who believe, that they also may praise him. In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee - As the precentor of the choir. This he did literally, in the midst of his apostles, on the night before his passion. And as it means, in a more general sense, setting forth the praise of God, he has done it in the church by his word and his Spirit; he still does, and will do it throughout all generations.(Ps 22:22).

13: And again - As one that has communion with his brethren in sufferings, as well as in nature, he says, I will put my trust in him - To carry me through them all. And again - With a like acknowledgment of his near relation to them, as younger brethren, who were yet but in their childhood, he presents all believers to God, saying, Behold I and the children whom thou hast given me.(Isa 8:17,18)

14: Since then these children partake of flesh and blood - Of human nature with all its infirmities. He also in like manner took part of the same; that through his own death he might destroy the tyranny of him that had, by God's permission, the power of death with regard to the ungodly. Death is the devil's servant and serjeant, delivering to him those whom he seizes in sin. That is, the devil - The power was manifest to all; but who exerted it, they saw not.

15: And deliver them, as many as through fear of death were all their lifetime, till then, subject to bondage - Every man who fears death is subject to bondage; is in a slavish, uncomfortable state. And every man fears death, more or less, who knows not Christ: death is unwelcome to him, if he knows what death is. But he delivers all true believers from this bondage.

16: For verily he taketh not hold of angels - He does not take their nature upon him. But he taketh hold of the seed of Abraham - He takes human nature upon him. St. Paul says the seed of Abraham, rather than the seed of Adam, because to Abraham was the promise made.

17: Wherefore it behoved him - It was highly fit and proper, yea, necessary, in order to his design of redeeming them. To be made in all things - That essentially pertain to human nature, and in all sufferings and temptations. Like his brethren - This is a recapitulation of all that goes before: the sum of all that follows is added immediately. That he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest - Merciful toward sinners; faithful toward God. A priest or high priest is one who has a right of approaching God, and of bringing others to him.

  • Faithful is treated of,(Heb 3:2), &c., with its use;
  • merciful,(Heb 4:14), &c., with the use also;
  • High Priest,(Heb 5:4), &c., (Heb 7:1), &c. The use is added from Heb 10:19.
    In things pertaining to God, to expiate the sins of the people - Offering up their sacrifices and prayers to God; deriving God's grace, peace, and blessings upon them.

    18: For in that he hath suffered being tempted himself he is able to succour them that are tempted - That is, he has given a manifest, demonstrative proof that he is able so to do.

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