Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 2:14 - 2:18

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 2:14 - 2:18


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Deliverance Effected by Christ. Heb_2:14-18

v. 14. Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,

v. 15. and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

v. 16. For, verily, He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.

v. 17. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

v. 18. For in that he Himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

This paragraph is closely connected in thought with the preceding argument, since it concludes the proof for the necessity of Christ's vicarious work. It was as brethren that Christ acknowledged the believers, even in the Messianic prophecy. In connection with that thought the author argues: Since, then, the children share blood and flesh, He Himself likewise has become partaker of them, that through death He might put out of commission him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and liberate these that through fear of death throughout their entire life were subject to bondage. The brotherhood of Christ with men included incarnation and death. The children, the human brethren with whom the Son of God was willing to identify Himself according to the eternal counsel of love, were subject to the conditions brought about by their possession of flesh and blood; and their nature being impregnated with sin, they were all doomed to dissolution and death. Christ's object, however, being that of saving men from the certain doom which awaited them, He, in a similar manner, that is, with the exception of sin, took upon Himself, joined to His divine nature, the flesh and blood of a true human nature: by His incarnation He became a true man according to body and soul. In this way the possibility was brought about for Christ to put the devil, who had the power over death, out of commission, to crush him, to render him powerless. This Christ did through His own death; by laying down His life as the price of ransom for the transgressions of the whole world, he destroyed the power of the devil. Thus did He liberate and release from their terrible slavery all men, who had been kept in bondage, held firmly chained during their entire earthly life through their fear of death. We have here, on the one hand, a picture of the natural lot and condition of all men. They are kept in the most miserable and shameful bondage by Satan. By bringing sins to the remembrance of the people, by appearing as the constant accuser of all men, he creates in them the fear of the punishment of death. Without the certainty of Christ's redemption, this servility and fear is found in every man's heart by nature. And he that knows nothing of Christ's atoning death or will not accept the fact of his redemption through the blood of Jesus, has only one fate to look forward to, namely, that of everlasting damnation, in an endless, horrible death. But on the other hand, there is here a picture of wonderful beauty and comfort. For he that looks upon Christ in true faith, as his Redeemer, knows that the power of the devil is broken, and that death, formerly the strongest weapon in the hands of Satan to intimidate men and keep them in his power, has lost its terrors. We are liberated, released, redeemed through the atoning work of our Substitute, Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of Christ's career so far as we are concerned. This redemption was possible on account of the fact that the Son of God, while still in the bosom of the Father, became our flesh and blood. As one commentator has it: "To Him who in His sinlessness experienced every weakness of mortality, without diminution of His unbroken strength of fellowship with God, death is not the dreaded sign of separation from God's grace, but a step in His divinely appointed career: not something inflicted on Him against His will, but a means whereby He consciously and designedly accomplishes His vocation as Savior."

So the humiliation of Christ, including even the climax of His ignominious death on the cross, were fully justified by the demands of the situation. It is evident, then, what the writer further remarks: For it is assuredly not angels whom He rescues, but it is the offspring of Abraham. Neither the good angels, being sinless and spiritual beings, nor the evil angels, being spiritual beings beyond reclaim, are included in the redemption of flesh and blood as carried out by Christ. Since the letter is addressed to Jewish Christians, the writer speaks of the descendants of Abraham, as he would otherwise designate all men. See Rom_15:4-12. By undertaking and carrying out the work of redemption as He did, Christ brought everlasting help and salvation to all mankind.

The inspired writer therefore summarizes: Whence in all things it behooved Him to resemble His brethren that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things concerning God, in order to propitiate the sins of the people; for wherein He Himself suffered, being tempted, He is able to come to the assistance of those that are tempted. Because God's counsel of love went over all men, because it was Christ's intention to bring salvation to all without exception, therefore it was necessary for Him to become similar to His brethren, to become a true man, resembling His brethren in every single respect but this, that He was sinless. Being a true man, possessed of flesh and blood like all other men in the world, Christ could enter into the right understanding of human misery and weakness; He could become a truly merciful and faithful High Priest in all things that had to be brought before the Lord; He could make propitiation for the sins of all people. Just as the high priest of the Old Testament brought the offering of the great Day of Atonement in the name and in behalf of all the people in the entire nation, so Jesus made one sacrifice which effected a perfect, an everlasting atonement for the sins of all men till the end of time. For because He Himself suffered, bearing in His own body the suffering and the curse of all men's sins, because He was obliged, above all, to suffer the temptations of Satan, not only in the wilderness, but in all the schemes of the hostile Jews, and especially in His last great Passion, therefore the assistance which He can render us, His brethren, is not a perfunctory and forced help, but a willing and loving service. No matter how great the temptations may be that assail us, our unfailing comfort consists in the fact that Christ, our High Priest, is now also our Advocate with the Father, urging in the face of eternal Justice the fact that He is the Propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1Jn_2:1-2. Thus the sacred writer has shown that it was indeed fitting for God to make His Son a sacrifice in this manner, that He chose the only way by which redemption could be brought to the world lost in sin.

Summary

The inspired author, continuing his argument concerning the sovereignty of Christ over all creatures including the angels, emphasizes the need of cheerful obedience to the Lord, incidentally showing that the way of salvation which God's counsel of love decided upon was the only feasible plan.