Lesson 4b: Hebrews 2:10 – 18
2:5-9 The previous passage spoke of man’s rule over creation and his loss of glory, but Jesus brings many sons to their former glory. He suffered for them and has been crowned with glory and honor ahead of them. (See in the notes of chapter 9, Appendix H: For Whom Did Christ Die?)
2:10 The question is about what is appropriate to accomplish this. God had threatened death for sin; man disobeyed, so death is appropriate for man. Since this is so, it is also fitting that the Savior of man, in taking the sinner’s place, should die for them. He cannot be the perfect Author of salvation who represents them fully if the Father’s assignment to Him avoids the suffering brought on them by sin.
Substitution This doctrine cannot be denied without destroying the gospel. It was fitting that God should make the Substitute suffer (2:9).In His humiliation, Christ has identified with us in lost glory. Bringing sons to glory was not done by avoiding suffering but by enduring it with no half measures. Jesus did not merely notice what sin did to others; He experienced what their sin brought on mankind.
To be a perfect Savior required that Jesus become human. This involved more than assuming our biology; He did take on our flesh and blood (2:14); He also suffered temptation (2:18). As the Lord, He did not need to be made perfect in holiness, but as a man, God made Him perfect in the comprehensive experience of human life, learning obedience by what He suffered (5:8). God cannot be tempted (James 1:13), but the Holy Spirit led Jesus as a man into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mark 1:12). God was perfecting Him into the obedient Man Who could represent us. In His tested righteousness He qualified as the ultimate Priest to represent His people. Hebrews 2 emphasizes the reality of His temptation and suffering; later Hebrews will insist that in temptation Jesus did not sin (4:15).
2:10 “ … For whom and through whom everything exists” Like Romans 11:36, these words claim sovereign glory for God. Man was made for God’s glory; when he sinned he gave occasion for the grace of God to be glorified as the Lord forgave the enemies (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:6,12; 3:10,11) He called (9:15). God’s glory is complete when He restores man in the world to come (2:5). Because of Christ, Satan cannot rob God of His beautiful creation. God’s glory shows when He responds to sin, therefore multitudes have gone to hell without forgiveness. For His children, the Author of salvation must be made perfect through a life of suffering related to human sin. Had there been no sin by man, there would be no suffering by Christ. The suffering of Christ was fitting, since He came to represent His children suffering under God’s curse for sin.
2:11 Salvation is expressed in terms of its ultimate goal: holiness. The identification of Christ with man is stated from two angles: He shares humanity, and He produces holiness. Jesus and His family have human life in common. The Greek does not say we are one “family”, but some word is needed here. It means we are of one stock or source. The text does use the word “one”.
We are also very different. He is the Man Who makes men holy; we are the ones being made holy. Just as we have not yet come to glory (2:10), we have not come to complete holiness, though it is never absent (12:14) in His children. As family, He calls us “brothers”. Jesus can call us brothers and Himself as our God without shame (11:16 and Luke 9:26) because He produces holiness in us (12:10,11).
Jesus calls us brothers; there is no example in Scripture of us calling Him “Brother”. When He speaks this way of us, He refers to our humanity. We must not speak of Christ, even though He became one of us, as if He were our peer. He is always our Lord.
2:12,13 The Three Quotations:
1. The first (Psalm 22) has Christ leading His brothers in worship as one standing among them. He calls them “brothers,” which fits the theme of the 2:5-18 of a shared humanity. This choice of Psalm 22 is resurrection speech with Christ vindicated in glory after His suffering and death. His prayer “My God, My God Why have You forsaken Me, why are You so far from helping Me?” has the Father’s answer in v.22 with Christ alive and leading His brothers in worship. It was fitting that Christ, Who was obedient in suffering, should have life for Himself and His brothers.
2. From Isaiah 8:17, Jesus again speaks as one of us. As a man He too trusts the Lord. The humanity of Christ is not partial; it is so complete that the way men should worship and obey God is the way He did. The readers of Hebrews have Christ as a model in His life of trust in adversity (12:3-13; 1 Peter 2: 21) His sequence of suffering and glory is common to all (1 Peter 1:11).
3. From Isaiah 8:18 – Isaiah was caring for his children in a time of apostasy, a situation much like those receiving this letter. Isaiah was part of a small remnant in dark days. This is language the Holy Spirit uses of Christ caring for His persecuted family.
2:14,15 The children Christ will help, are flesh and blood. He too shared in our humanity. The past tense refers to the event when the Son became a man. The “so that” is important. The Lord Jesus did not share our humanity so that He could just be one of us. Some make the incarnation itself to be all that is needed for man’s salvation. 2:14 shows that He shared our humanity so that He might die as a man. Our salvation depends on what Christ did in our humanity. God cannot die; only by becoming a man is God able as a Human Person to die. Even then, though Jesus is one Person and not two, it was only in His human nature that He died.
The purpose of Jesus’ death was to destroy the devil as promised in Genesis 3:15. That word was not given as a promise to man, though I think the man was there to hear it. That word was to the devil, a declaration that Satan would not win, and his success in capturing man by sin will not prevail. The oldest gospel promise in the Bible is about the destruction of the devil.
2:16 The interest in angels continues to affect this chapter. The world to come is not subject to them; it is not their world. Angels sinned and God helped not one of them. There are no forgiven angels and no humans in heaven but those who have been forgiven. They marvel at our salvation (1 Peter 1:12). Instead of saying it is man, it says Abraham’s descendents. This is a powerful indication that God’s salvation is not a worldwide intervention, but one God has channeled by covenant through one man, Abraham the father of all who believe (Romans 4:16-18). The promise is guaranteed to Abraham’s descendents. Christ as the Seed of Abraham, (Galatians 3:16-20) is the only door of entry into that flock, the covenant people of God (John 10:7-16). All who believe in Christ are Abraham’s children and heirs (9:15) of the promise made to him (Galatians 3:29).
2:17,18 If Jesus is going to help (i.e., save) us, He cannot do so as an outsider. What we need is a man to go to God as our priest. A priest must come from the people he represents (5:1). To speak for us concerning our sin, our Priest must be without sin, but not immune to its impact on us. He did not commit sin but he had to suffer the results of ours. So, He had to be made like His brothers in every way. Simply sharing our physical life is not enough; He did more than eat and sleep as other men. In human weakness Jesus faced the full range of temptation we have (2 Corinthians 13:4; Romans 8:3). All of this was so that He might become our Priest. In that role He was faithful to God; having lived in our circumstances He is merciful to us.
This Priest must go to face the Lord for us. Our sin is our problem. No relationship with God is possible if we have sin. On the cross as a Man, Jesus experienced completely all that our sins deserve, all that the justice of God required, and all that the grace of God provided. His service as Priest was for us but it was a service to God. (See notes re 9:14, “The Godward Aspect of the Death of Christ”.)
The first hint of persecution appears in Hebrews 2. Something brought great pressure on the readers of Hebrews. There was a danger they might shrink back (10:38,39) or “turn away” (3:12) or fail to confess (3:1) or fail to hold firmly to the High Priest they had at one time confessed (4:14). This is a double problem. On one side it is doctrinal and Hebrews meets that directly. On the other, something dangerous tempts them to drift (2:1) conveniently from their early profession, one that provoked insults (10:33) from their own people. Some might not enter into what God has promised His people because of the unbelief (3:18,19) which makes disobedience (4:6) and apostasy (6:4-6) inevitable. Unbelief will repudiate Christ (6:6; 10:29), and that is eternally fatal (10:39). It is a horrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God Who is a consuming fire (10:30,31; 12:29).
The answer of Hebrews to their need:
1.) It provides a vigorous detailed defense of OT teaching of Christ. This includes very careful exposition that a replacement Priest and a replacement covenant are predicted. It shows the law and its required offerings could never take away sin, but God in the Psalms had spoken of another Priest, His Son (5:5,6), Who is now seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly sanctuary. Hebrews is very doctrinal.
2.) It does not ignore their suffering and temptation (10:32-39). Faith must be based on truth. People also need encouragement. This abounds in Hebrews with examples of faith in Hebrews 6 (Abraham) and the many in Hebrews 11, plus persons they know (13:7). These were people like them; they had promises yet still waited for the full enjoyment of all God promised. There are six sober warnings, but not all the exhortation was warning. There is prodding to continue in the good works that are evidence of salvation (6:9-12). Hebrews connects their temptation with the personal temptation of Christ (2:18; 4:15,16). It informs of Jesus’ growth in obedience through suffering throughout His life (5:7-10) culminating in the cross (12:2,3). His experience is compared with their struggles against sin (12:4). There is even an explanation of the benefits of chastening (12:5-11) and of their need for fellowship with each other (3:13; 6:10,11; 10:23-25; 13:17). It turns their hearts to the Second Coming of Christ (9:28; 11:39,40; 13:14), a constant encouragement to those who are persecuted. It shows the present calling they have in Christ, and the unshakeable kingdom of which they are part (12:22-24) provided they really do believe. All this blessing is because of the High Priest “we have” (8:1). Simple trust is encouraged (13:6) in our Savior Shepherd along with purity of life (13:1-6) and faithful confession (13:15). All blessing comes only through the blood of Christ.
Thus it is most clear that this very doctrinal book is very pastoral; it addresses their needs, vulnerabilities and the current threat to their faith. It is impossible to detach exposition from the multiple words of encouragement based on every strand of truth it gives. The beginning of such combining happens in chapter 2. Chapter 1 gives a storehouse of truth about Christ; chapter 2 begins to apply it. After it warns, chapter 2 links salvation and suffering. This is the fitting way Christ would enter our trouble. Man has been deprived of glory; even in salvation we have not yet come fully into glory. Hebrews never gives comfort by denying reality. It loves to present the Scriptures. The three texts quoted in 2:12,13 come from the sufferings of Christ and Isaiah; in these examples others were associated with them. In all three the family context is of the relevance of personal faith during adversity. That Christ has defeated our Enemy Satan is a comfort only those with an easy life could miss. It speaks of that unique suffering in which we do NOT participate – Christ propitiating God by Himself. Then it affirms that Christ who has suffered helps those who are tempted. In Chapter 2 Hebrews just begins to present Christ as One Who has not forsaken His persecuted people. We can suffer many things if we have a clear sense that we are not alone. Hebrews 2 shows us that we have His help (2:18).
 Unfortunately the NIV never translates these four texts using the word propitiation. The KJV does for all except Hebrews 2:17. The ESV and the NKJV both use propitiation in all four.