i Exegesis of Hebrews 2:5-18 The Crucial Importance of the Incarnate, Suffering Son John R. Neal NT9331A New Testament Text Hebrews October 7, 2013

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  • i

    Exegesis of Hebrews 2:5-18

    The Crucial Importance of the Incarnate, Suffering Son

    John R. Neal

    NT9331A New Testament Text Hebrews

    October 7, 2013

  • ii

  • iii


    I. Introduction . 1-2

    II. Provisional Translation .. 2-3

    III. Exegesis .. 4-19

    A. What is Man (2:5-9) ..4-10

    B. The Savior of Men (2:10-13) 11-14

    C. Being Made Like the Brethren (2:14-18) . 14-19

    IV. Conclusion .. 19

    V. Bibliography 20

    VI. Appendix .22

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    Exegesis of Hebrews 2:5-18

    The Crucial Importance of the Incarnate, Suffering Son


    The purpose of this paper is to give an exegesis of Hebrews 2:5-18. The title of this

    section of Hebrews is The Crucial Importance of the Incarnate, Suffering Son. The

    introduction will start off by dealing with the structure and outline of the passage as part of the

    larger context of the epistle to the Hebrews. How does Hebrews chapter two lay the groundwork

    or foundation for the rest of the epistle? If one does not grasp the humanity of the Son in

    Hebrews two, then the rest of the book will make little sense to the reader (ancient or modern).

    Following the introductory matters, a provisional translation will be provided, followed by an

    exegesis of 2:5-18, and finally some concluding remarks.

    The passage under consideration falls under the first of three main sections in the book of

    Hebrews. According to Cockerill, the basic structure of Hebrews falls under three main

    headings. The first section, 1:1-4:13, deals with the Superiority of Christs Person. The second

    section, 4:14-10:18, is the Superiority of Christs Work. The third section, 19:19-12:29, we find

    the Superiority of the Christians Walk of Faith.1 There are variations to the outline or rhetorical

    structure applied to the epistle to the Hebrews (some simple and others very complex). OBrien

    considers Hebrews 1:5-2:18 as a single unit that can be sub-divided into four different

    paragraphs. These four divisions are: 1:5-14; 2:1-4; 2:5-9; and 2:10-18.2 Guthrie also views

    1Garreth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the New

    Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 61-62. 2Peter Thomas OBrien, The Letter to the Hebrews, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand

    Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 63.

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    Hebrews 1:5-2:18 as one unit that falls under the heading of the Sons Superiority over angels3.

    Cockerill gives the following simple outline of Hebrews chapters one through four. He entitles

    the theme of this section, A Very Short History of the Disobedient People of God (1:1-4:13).

    Under point A, Cockerill refers to this as Sinai Revisited: God Has Spoken in the Eternal,

    Incarnate, Now Exalted Son (1:1-2:18). Under this heading, he lists four sub-points. First, God

    Has Spoken Through His Son (1:1-4). Second, the Incomparable Majesty of the Eternal, Exalted

    Son (1:5-14). Third, the Urgency of Attending to Gods Son-Mediated Revelation (2:1-4).

    Fourth, the Crucial Importance of the Incarnate, Suffering Son (2:5-18). 4 The Incarnation

    passage (2:5-18) can further be sub-divided into three distinct sub-sections. They are 2:5-9;

    2:10-13; and 2:14-18.5

    Here in Hebrews 2:5-18, the author finishes up his depiction of the superiority of Gods

    eternal, exalted Son over angels (1:5-14) by arguing that Christs incarnation and suffering is

    the means by which the Son becomes exalted to his right hand as our all-sufficient Savior. The

    first four verses of chapter two give a stern warning of what happens when we reject the word

    or message of God.

    Provisional Translation

    5For he subjected not to the angels the world to come (which is coming), concerning

    which we speak. 6But somewhere someone testified, saying,

    What is man that you remember him,

    Or the Son of Man that you take care of him?

    3Donald Guthrie, Hebrews, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London/Grand Rapids: Inter-

    Varsity/Eerdmans, 1983), 75. 4Cockerill, 79.

    5Ibid., 125.

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    7You made him lower for a short time than the angels,

    You crowned him with glory and honor.

    8You subjected all things under his feet,

    For when he subjected all things he left (permitted) nothing not subject to him. But now not yet

    we see all things having been made subject to him.

    9But having been made lower for a short time than the angels we see Jesus through the

    suffering of death having been crowned with glory and honor, in order that by the grace of God

    he should taste (experience) of death in behalf of everyone.


    For it was fitting (proper) for him, on account of whom are all things and through

    whom are all things, having lead many sons into glory, the originator (prince) of their salvation

    to be made perfect through sufferings.


    For both the one who sanctifies and the ones who are being sanctified are all of one; for

    which/this cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,



    I will announce your name to my brethren,

    In the midst of the congregation (assembly) I will sing your praise,


    and again,

    I (myself) will be persuaded (convinced) in him,

    And again,

    Behold I and the children which God gave to me.


    Therefore since the children of God participate (share) in the blood and flesh, and

    likewise he himself share with them, in order that death might nullify the one having power

    (control) over death, that is the devil.


    And he might release these, as many as fear death through all the living they were

    subject to bondage (slavery).


    For surely he did not lay hold of angels, but the seed of Abraham he took hold of.


    Wherefore it was owing in all things to be made like to the brethren that he might

    become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to god to make atonement for the

    sins of the people.


    For because he himself has suffered having been tempted (he himself was tested by

    what he suffered), he is able to help those who are tempted.

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    What is Man (2:5-9)

    The theme in this section of Hebrews two is entitled by Lightfoot as the Humiliation

    and Glory of Christ,6 or as Ellingworth refers to this as the Path to Glory. Attridge says that

    after a hortatory interlude in vv. 1-4, the writer then returns to exposition.7 The author of

    Hebrews begins by stating that God (who is the subject here, or technically the understood

    subject) did not subject the angels the world to come (

    ). The structural layout of this section begins in verse 5 with

    angels (For he subjected not to the angels) and ends in verse 16 likewise with angels (For he is

    surely not concerned with angels). Then in vv. 17-18 one notices these passages are

    structurally transitional and extremely important, according to Ellingworth, because these two

    verses explicitly introduce for the first time the theme of Christs high priesthood.8 The

    in vs. 5 is not as emphatic as the back in vs. 1. Yet there are places in Hebrews

    where the simple does mark major transitions. The combination of , although not

    particularly emphatic here, appears again in Heb 2:16; 4:15; 6:10; 9:24; 12:18; and 13:14.9

    The verb is a first aorist active indicative, third person singular, meaning to

    subject or subordinate, to place in order. This verb is used four times in this passage and a

    6Neil R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ Today, A Commentary On The Book of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker,

    1976, Repr. 1980), 72. 7Harold W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hermenia,

    ed Helmut Koester (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989), 69. 8Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International

    Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 143. 9Ibid., 145.

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    related term, disobedient, is found in vs. 8. This verb is frequently used by Paul to describe the

    mutual submission Christians have to one another in Christ (Eph 5:21), the wives to their

    husbands (Eph 5:22, 24, verb is implied in vs. 22), and the church is to be in submission to Christ

    (Eph 5:24). However only in this section of Hebrews (2:5) does the verb possess

    the active voice meaning of to subject or to subordinate. In 12:9 there is the passive

    meaning of human submission to God, as well as cosmically in 2:8c. Due to the authors

    statement in 2:8b-9, one may understand this as referring to a firm decision by God not to place

    angels in control of the world to come.10

    The phrase, the inhabited ( ) world to come ( , present active

    participle, accusative feminine singular, to be about) is a realm to be in submission to the Son,

    not to the angels (see 1 Cor 15:24-28 and Heb 1:13-14, the quote from Ps 110:1, where the

    enemies will be put under his feet). This term is common in apocalyptic and rabbinic

    tradition.11 Guthrie notes that the phrase for the world to come can be viewed in different

    three ways: (1) referring to the afterlife; (2) referring to the new age or new order brought

    about by Christ, the kingdom, or (3) the end of the present age. Guthrie notes that there may

    be some truth to all three views, but views number two is most likely what the writer has in


    Ellingworth disagrees with Guthrie and notes that this phrase most likely references

    back to in Heb 1:6 and that both occurrences probably refer to the world to come.13

    Ellingworth also argues that the view espoused by the Early Church Fathers that for Christians


    Ibid. 11

    Attridge, 70. 12

    Guthrie, 84. 13

    Ellingworth, 144.

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    this refers to the present reality cannot be the correct interpretation since 2:8b states that we

    do not yet see everything in subjection to him.14

    Attridge notes there is a reason for this reference to the inhabited world or the

    eschatological consummation of the Sons reign. The author mentions this not only because of

    the eschatological dimension in the Old Testament passages he quotes, but also to reassure his

    readers that the reality of this age has been inaugurated in Christs exaltation. His

    inauguration was confirmed by signs and wonders. Here we see the tension that exists

    between the present and future elements in eschatology.15

    Then vv. 6b-8a, the author quotes from Psalm 8. The use of Palm 8 here by the author of

    Hebrews is understood from a Christological standpoint. The passage deals with the

    incarnation and exaltation of Christ. This leads to a smooth transition to the discussion of

    the Sons solidarity with humanity in vv. 10-18.16 Psalm 8 is composed as a praise hymn for

    Yahwehs marvelous act of creation. Two themes emerge in this psalm: the marvel of the

    universe and how insignificant man is in comparison to the vastness of the universe. The

    lofty position mankind is given includes his dominion over the creatures. According to the

    passage he quotes from (Psalm 8:3-8), man is made a little lower than God or the heavenly

    beings.17 This idea of angels rather than God may also go back to the idea of the angels as

    mediators of the old covenant (Heb 2:2; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19), which Ellingworth and others

    argue may be based upon the LXX rendering of the MT of Deut 32:8 (Angels of God rather

    than sons of Israel).18


    Ibid., 146. This does not mean there is no future (1:14), yet present (2:3) eschatological view in Heberws. 15

    Attridge, 70. 16OBrien, 93. 17

    Ibid., 94. 18

    Ellingworth, 146.

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    The importance of angels in 1:5-14 are contrasted with the man/son of man quotation in

    2:5b-8 (from Ps 8:4-6). The humanity of Jesus is an important theological note, especially in

    2:14 (flesh and blood). The Son is divine and he alone deserves our worship.19 The palmist

    raises question, What is man, in Ps 8:4-6 (Heb 2:6b), using the interrogative pronoun or


    The subject of this psalm is obviously man, who is depicted by the inspired writer as

    having all things at the time of creation under his dominion and jurisdiction. According to

    Lightfoot, the expression son of man is simply a Semitism, a way of saying man. We have

    here in these two lines from Psalm 8 examples of synonymous parallelism which is

    characteristic of Hebrew poetry.21 The question is raised whether or not the psalmist originally

    intended son of man to be interpreted in a heightened or spiritual sense? Some would argue

    that sense son of man ( ) does not contain the definite article that the author is

    not making a Christological claim here. Normally the article is used when referencing the

    messianic title.22 While this may be viewed as Messianic, the Hebrew writer seems to leave

    the decision to the reader to identify Jesus with the son of man in the eighth psalm.23


    argues that this quote from Psalm 8 was never considered to be Messianic, for the original

    context is man, yet not in his ordinary state but in his ideal state, which is indicated by the use

    of the title son of man.24 Could the Hebrew writer be leaving out the definite article to stress

    quality rather than definiteness? Robertson sees this phrase son of man similar to the same


    Cockerill, 126. 20

    Attridge, 71. Attridge notes that ti/j (who) is found in some Greek manuscripts such as p46

    and in one important witness (A) to the LXX. He believes this variant reading is probably a scribal correction to bring the verse into conformity to the LXX text-type represented in A.

    21Lightfoot, 73.

    22 OBrien, 96.

    23Lightfoo, 73.

    24Guthrie, 84.

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    phrase used by God to refer to the prophet Ezekiel.25

    Yet Leupold says that this passage is

    Messianic when we see that the New Testament gives us our full authorization for classifying

    this Psalm as messianic by the consistent use the Hebrew writer makes of this psalm.26 That

    there may be Christology in the fact that the phrase Son of Man is supported by the fact that

    Jesus is often referred to as such in the Synoptic Gospels, in the Gospel of John, from the lips

    of Stephen in Acts 7, and in the book of Revelation. Some connect the New Testament usage of

    Son of Man with the vision of Daniel in 7:1327

    who say one like or as the son of man


    Then in vv. 7-8 we encounter the statement about man being created a little lower than

    the angels. The expression little here from both the Greek Old Testament and Hebrew Bible

    can mean either position or time, and the exact sense here is difficult to discern. The Hebrew

    writer is quoting here from the LXX (which reads angels) rather than the MT (which reads


    The translators of the LXX interpreted to mean angels ( ) or heavenly

    beings rather than God.30

    The Hebrew epistle depends upon this particular Greek translation of

    the Old Testament to support his argument here. A similar situation can be found in John 10:34,

    where Jesus is probably quoting from Psalm 8:6, and here rendered as you are gods, and was

    probably understood as angels. The author obviously benefits here from the LXX reading at

    this point, even though could also be understood to prove the point he is making.


    A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, The Fourth Gospel, The Epistle To The

    Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1932), 344. 26

    H.C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), 100. 27

    Attridge, 73. 28

    Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, ed K. Elliger and W. Rudolph (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,

    1987), 1399. 29

    Lightfoot, 73. Attridge, 71. 30OBrien, 94. While the LXX, Vulgate, and Syria read angels, the later Greek translations of the Old

    Testament (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, as well as Jerome) follow the MT elohim. A.F. Kirkpatrick, The

    Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of Psalms With Introduction And Notes, Book I, Psalms I-XLI

    (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1901), 40.

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    Even though the Hebrew of Psalm 8:5 refers to the smallness of degree to which man is inferior,

    the LXX quoted in Heb. 2:7 can be understood in a temporal sense, which would read, you

    made him for a little while lower.31

    In 2:7a-8a, the preacher interprets Psalm 8 by centering on these three quotes: (1) Ps

    8:5a/Heb 2:7a You have made him a little lower than the angels. (2) Ps 8:5b/Heb2:7b

    You crowned him with glory and honor. (3) Ps 8:5b/Heb 2:8a You have subjected all

    things under his feet. The second quote refers to Jesus exaltation, while the third quote has

    reference to the Sons second coming. These thoughts from Psalm 9 also parallel with Psalm

    110:1 (Heb 2:13-14).32

    Then in 2:8b-9, the writer brings out an important theological concept

    here in Hebrews. The authors point of view is not about mankinds lofty status, but rather to

    the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus in relation to the world to come.33 The focus of these

    verses then is not on the lofty estate of man in the created order, but an oracle that describes the

    humiliation and exaltation of Jesus.34 In verse 8, the Hebrew writer states that everything is

    under the son of mans control. Jesus is not mentioned until the following verse, and then by

    the way of contrast. The phrase, we do not yet see ( ), the not yet refers to

    an unfulfilled promise. The point here is that we are unable to see here and now everything

    made subject to the Son. This is reserved for the world to come.35

    The author of Hebrews follows the LXX translation of Psalm 8 closely with the

    exception of omitting the clause, You have set him over the works of your hands. Perhaps the


    Donald A. Hagner, Hebrews, A Good News Commentary, ed W. Ward Gasque (San Francisco: Harper &

    Row, 1983), 27-28. 32

    Cockerill, 130. 33

    OBrien, 96. 34

    Attridge, 72. 35

    Lightfoot, 74.

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    writer leaves this phrase out because the clause refers quite clearly to the mastery of humanity

    over the present world rather than Christ. This would make his whole argument of interpreting

    Christ in light of his temporary subjection, and his eschatological reign much more difficult.36

    There is a definite theological motivation for how the writer quotes from the LXX.

    The purpose for the Son coming to this earth and being made lower for a short time than

    the angels, according to v. 9, is so that we would see Jesus through the suffering of death

    having been crowned with glory and honor, in order that by the grace of God he should taste of

    death in behalf of all. The conclusion to this clause seems to be written rather awkwardly

    and the precise relationship with what precedes is unclear. Yet the context of v. 9 points out

    that the crowning of the Son takes place after his death on the cross. This this clause clearly

    relates to the whole of what precedes and indicates the basic purpose of the Sons mission

    which concludes with his death on the cross and ascension back to the Father. There is a textual

    variant here in v. 9 (by the grace of God). The textual variant reads apart from God (

    ) rather than by the grace of God ( ). This textual variant finds only late

    attestation in manuscripts and different versions, but was known to patristic authors, including

    Origen, and thus is found in some copies of Hebrews from the third century. While the normal

    rule of textual criticism is to prefer the more difficult reading over the easier one, yet apart from

    God does not seem to fit well the context of Psalm 8 nor the argument of the author here in

    Hebrews 2:9.37


    Attridge, 71. 37

    Ibid., 76-77.

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    The Savior of Men (2:10-13)

    Made Perfect By Suffering (2:10). This verse serves three different purposes. First, vs.

    10 marks the beginning of a new paragraph (vv. 10-18) where there is no mention of the

    audience he is addressing and deals with two important Christological themes: (1) Christ sharing

    in the suffering and trials of Christians, and (2) Christ is the one who leads them to

    salvation.38 Second, vs. 9 is a lead in to vs. 10 in that the former sets the stage for discussion

    about suffering that leads to salvation. Third, while the reference to Christs atoning death here

    is based upon the teaching of the apostolic preaching (Acts 2:23), there may also be some

    connection to the first part of Ps. 22 (vv.1-18), the second part of which (v. 22) is soon to be

    quoted in Heb. 2:12.39

    For it was fitting, 2:10 - comes from the verb , which means to be fitting or

    proper (Imperfect Active Indicative, third person singular). God is the understood subject here.

    It was fitting for him, that is God. What made Gods actions proper? The Fathers act of

    saving grace (vs. 9) led to the suffering and death of Christ.40

    The usage of only occurs

    here in 2:10 and again in 12:5-8, and is always without the article. The author of Hebrews does

    not use the typical Pauline phrase sons of God ( ) found in Rom 8:14, 19; Gal

    3:26; 2 Cor 6:18, nor the phrase used by John (children of God, ). While the

    phrase many sons does not specifically say sons of God, the implication is that we are

    indeed Gods sons. Yet the sonship of Christians is so different from, and dependent on, that of


    Ellingworth, 157-58. 39

    Ibid., 210. 40

    Lightfoot, 75.

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    Christ that the author passes quickly on to the complementary thought of believers as brothers of

    Christ (vv. 11, 12, 17).41

    The Son came to become the prince or originator of their salvation. The word

    is used in the New Testament only of Christ and carries the idea of pioneer, the

    originator, leader, ruler, or prince (see Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 12:2). The term always refers to the

    death, resurrection, and the exaltation of Christ.42 The term appears in secular Greek to

    refer to the founder and hero of a city (who usually wore his name and became the city

    guardian). The term also refers to a family head or founder of a school, a colony, or

    even a nation. The term also refers to a military commander who went ahead and blazed

    the trail for his men. This term is also found in the LXX version with a similarly wide

    semantic range. In the New Testament this term occurs only twice.43 Each one of these terms

    fits the New Testament description of Jesus. Yet the idea of a leader who opens up a new way

    seems to be uppermost in the authors mind. The Son as a pioneer blazes the trail ahead of

    the saved in order to open up the path to heaven.44

    OBrien argues that vv. 11-13 centers around the Sons solidarity with his brethren

    whom God is leading to glory, while v. 11 in particular deepens the argument of the

    preceding.45 Here in v. 11, there are two things are said about the nature of God the Father,

    literally, on account of (or for) whom are all things and through whom are all things. This

    same phrase is found in two parallel passages (Rom 11:36 and 1 Cor 8:6); the argument made in

    all three passages is that God the Father is the basis and cause of all existence. Everything


    Ibid., 160. 42

    Lightfoot, 76. Ellingworth, 160. 43

    Attrodge, 87. 44

    Lightfoot, 76. 45OBrien, 108.

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    finds purpose and reason in him.46 Ellingworth finds in this phrase, on account of whom are

    all things and through whom are all things, a doxology which suggests a liturgical setting.

    In support of this being a doxology is similar to passages such as Col 1:16, 1 Cor 1:9, Gal 1:1,

    and Rev 4:11.47

    The purpose of the Father: having brought many sons into glory. Brought

    comes from ( second aorist active participle, accusative masculine singular),

    indicating purpose. Ellingworth says the context here suggests an ingressive aorist. This

    participle expresses the main action, and the main verb subordinate action.48 The idea of many

    sons can be understood as referring to being the seed of Abraham down in v. 16. Paul says in

    Gal 3:26-29 that being in Christ is equated with being Abrahams seed spiritually.49 If many

    sons is to be understood as being the spiritual children of Abraham, then perhaps this also has in

    mind the original promises made to Abraham back in Gen 12:1-3. This phrase could also refer to

    the number of Christians who are still faithful to Christ as opposed to those who are unfaithful

    (6:4-6; 10:26-29).50

    In the Old Testament God (the Father) is depicted as the one who sanctifies or makes

    his people holy.51

    The theme of Leviticus is how God provides a way for unholy man to

    approach a holy God (Lev 8:11-12, be holy, for I am holy). Here the Hebrew writer shows

    that the Son fulfills this role (showing the Sons unity with Deity). Because we are sanctified,

    we are called his sons and daughters, as well as brethren.52

    The full meaning of becoming

    holy is not yet revealed in the book of Hebrews. This revelation will not take place until 9:13-


    Lightfoot, 75. 47

    Ellingworth, 159. 48

    Ibid., 160. 49

    Ibid. 50

    Ibid., 159-60. 51

    OBrien, 108. Cockerill, 141. 52

    OBrien, 108.

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    14, where sanctification signifies being brought into the very presence of God through

    Christs self-sacrifice. For the author of the Hebrew epistle, sanctification is closely linked

    with the establishment of that new covenant (Jer 31; Heb 8-9) between God and man. Both

    covenants were sealed by blood.53

    In 2:12-13, the Son gives a threefold answer to the Fathers series of questions laid out

    in 1:5-14. Here the Son of God acknowledges his relationship with Gods people and at the

    same time affirms his willingness to identify himself with them by becoming flesh. The Son

    makes a three part response to the Fathers overture (1:5-14). First, there is the quote in 2:12

    from Ps 22:22 (21:23 in LXX) where the Son proclaims that the people of God are also his own

    brothers and sisters. Second, the Son declares in 2:13a his human faithfulness (a quote for 2

    Sam 22:3 and Isa 8:17) to the brethren, which complements Gods declaration of the Sons

    divine Sonship in 1:8-12. Third, there is in 2:13b a quote from Isa 8:18 where the Son accepts

    the Fathers invitation to sit at his right hand (see 1:13) given on his behalf and also on behalf

    of the children given to him by God the Father.54

    Being Made Like the Brethren (2:14-18).

    In the context of 2:14-18, the Hebrew writer builds upon the fact that the Sons suffering

    and death is the proper expression of Gods faithfulness (according to 2:10-13) towards those

    who powerless because of sin (vv. 16-18) to the point they have a fear of death (vv. 14-15).

    There is a remarkable degree of parallelism between vv. 14-15 and vv. 16-18, which is


    Ibid. 54

    Cockerill, 142.

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    justifiable in treating them together as a subsection that explains the benefits of the Sons

    identification with and suffering for his people.55 According to 2:14-15, since Gods children

    share the same humanity as the Son (flesh and blood), then there was a necessity for the Son of

    God to assume the same human nature so that he might become victorious over death and the

    devil. The only way this could be made possible is through the incarnation (God made flesh)

    and death of the Son in behalf of the people.56

    Some scholars argue that the author here is using

    as a model for the incarnation a Gnostic redeemer myth, a Hellenistic hero myth, a Hellenistic

    Jewish speculative system, or some theme from the Old Testament that is being filtered

    through apocalyptic tradition. What one reads here is the typical Christian model of God

    made flesh made known through early preaching and teaching. There is the possibility that such

    a mythic scheme did become so common in the first century world that this concept became

    the standard way of conceiving or discussing salvation in a variety of philosophical and

    religious contexts 57 The purpose for Christs death is so that the children would be

    glorified (2:10), sanctified (2:11), liberated (2:15), and finally purified from sins


    He understands the brethren because he was tempted as we are (2:18).

    An important term in v. 14 is the verb (a perfect active indicative, third person

    singular), which means to share, to fellowship, or participate in something. We normally think

    of fellowship in the sense of Christian togetherness, but here the idea is that the children

    ( ) share in the same flesh and blood as the Son. As Lightfoot states, Since they are

    men, He had to become man. The importance of using the perfect tense here is that the tense


    Ibid., 145. 56OBrien, 113. 57

    Attridge, 79. He adds that this would help explain much of the similarity among Greco-Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic soteriologies that have been cited as sources of Hebrews.

    58OBrien, 113.

  • 16

    express past action with abiding results. Thus the human race has shared the fleshly body with

    the Son in the past and continues to do so today. Christians also share in the sufferings of

    Christ, according to 1 Pet. 4:13.59 Yet the contrast is, and he likewise shared the same with

    them. The verb shared ( to share, have a share in, to participate with) is a second

    aorist active indicative, third person singular. The aorist, being the simple past tense, would

    mean that Christ shared with mankind in the past flesh and blood, but no longer.60

    Flesh and

    blood cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50), but on earth without the shedding of blood

    there can be no forgiveness (9:22).61

    The reason for God becoming flesh: in order that through

    death he might destroy the one who has power over death, that is, the devil. The verb destroy

    ( ) is a first aorist active subjunctive, meaning to nullify, to make ineffective or

    render powerless. Jesus rendered powerless the power Satan had over mankind, death. Other

    passages bear out this same reason for Jesus death on the cross (1 Jn 3:8; 2 Tim 1:10; 1 Cor

    15:26; Rev 20:14), to defeat sin and death. This is all made possible by his atoning death


    The two-fold purpose of Jesus incarnation and sacrifice, as recorded in 2:14b-15, is so

    that: (1) the Son might abolish Satans power he held over death (2:14b) and (2) that through

    this same death he might rescue those who had been enslaved (2:15). Sin is what held mankind

    captive or enslaved to the devil. Thus the Son defeated the power of death (Satan) and

    liberated those who as man as through fear of death through all their lifetime were subject to

    slavery. Those are powerful words. We were ( , imperfect indicative of ) subject or


    Attridge, 91. 60

    Cockerill, 146-47. 61

    Ibid., 147. 62

    Lightfoot, 78.

  • 17

    liable to ( -nominative masculine plural) bondage, slavery ( ).63

    We are freed

    from sin to no longer live as slaves under sin (Rom 6:12-14, 19-22). There remains no more

    sacrifice (or forgiveness) for those who continually sin willfully (10:26).

    According to 2:16, God promises to lay or take hold of , present

    middle indicative) the seed/descendants of Abraham. This promise is not given to angels, but

    only to Gods children. This same term is used over in 8:9 where the Hebrew writer says that

    God took or laid hold of his children and led them out of Egyptian bondage. The promise is that

    God helps deliver us out of our times of distress.64

    The statement in 8:9 goes back to Jer 31:32

    (38:32 LXX).65

    There is also similar exodus imagery found in Isa 41:8-10 (LXX), which may

    suggest a typological relationship between the Christian community Hebrews is addressing

    and the descendants of Abraham in Isa 41. This passage from Isa 41 which the Hebrew epistle

    echoes these same elements from the prophet Isaiah: (1) Gods child (2:13-14), mention of

    Abrahams seed (2:16), Abrahams seed being taken hold of by God (2:16), the command not

    to fear (2:15), but to trust in Gods help (2:18). In the passage from Isa 41, the prophet

    describes the community as Abrahams seed Israel. In the book of Hebrews, Abrahams seed

    include not only Israels ancestors but also the Christian community (whether one believes the

    epistle is written to Jewish-Christians only or also including Gentile Christians).66

    This reference

    to Abraham would appear to be more significant to a Jewish audience than to a purely Gentile



    OBrien, 114. Lightfoot, 78. 64

    Lightfoot, 79. 65

    OBrien, 117. 66


  • 18

    According to 2:17, there is another reason why the Son comes in fleshly form. This is so

    that he would become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God

    (adverbial accusative, ). What things are pertaining to God? The making

    atonement ( -to propitiate, expiate, to make atonement, a present middle infinitive).

    Bruce argues that to "expiate best captures the sense of the verb.67 The author of Hebrews deals

    with the teaching on atonement because of the fact that sin separates one from God and the

    sinner incurs his wrath (see 2:2; 3;16-19; 12:12-17, 29; 19:31). The Bible often mentions the

    specific sin for which (see Ex 32:30; Lev 5:10) and the person or person for whom (see Lev

    1:4; 16:11) atonement is made. Cockerill notes that while this term is used in the writings of

    Josephus, Philo, and even Gentile writers of trying to appease or conciliate someone, in

    Scripture human beings do not conciliate God. God is always the one who makes

    atonement for our sins, and in 2:9 Christ is the one who offers atonement through his death and

    Gods children receive full benefits.68

    This section ends with v. 18, where Gods children are given assurance of how Christ is a

    merciful and compassionate high priest. The passage states that Jesus himself had suffered

    ( -perfect active indicative), having been tempted ( -aorist passive participle,

    temporal participle). While the word here for tempt can refer to trials in the sense of struggles

    in general (Jms 1:2, 12) or tempting to sin (Jms 1:13-14), the context seems to favor temptation

    to sin, since sin and the need for sanctification takes up much of 2:10-18. Because of what Jesus

    went through, he is able ( , present active indicative) to help ( , aorist active


    F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary On The New Testament

    (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 78, note 57. 68

    Cockerill, 149.

  • 19

    infinitive) those who are tempted ( -present middle or passive participle). This theme is

    picked up again in 4:14-16. Not only does the Son care, he can help us when we are tempted.


    The context of Hebrews 2:5-18 is an important juncture in the book as a whole. Chapter

    two ties the first chapter with the rest of the authors arguments. Here in the second chapter, the

    author builds upon Christs deity from the beginning and his superiority over angels in chapter

    one. This chapter also establishes the human side of Christ. He was flesh and blood, he

    suffered, he was tempted but remained faithful. The human Christ overcame death and sin by

    defeating the devil. The Son of God is the example for everyone to strive to model their life

    after. In the context of Heb. 2:5-18, this passage also follows the first great warning (2:1-4) to

    pay attention to the things the audience has heard.

    The audience learns of the Sons glorification is made possible through his submission to

    the Father (vv. 5-9). The Son stands as a model for Christian behavior, through humility, if we

    want to receive glory one day. The life to glory is paved through suffering. Then in vv. 10-18,

    the writer focuses even more upon the humanity of Christ. He deals with that great Christian

    doctrine of the incarnation (God made flesh). The purpose for God becoming flesh is so that he

    could defeat death and offer us forgiveness of sins. This chapter is pivotal because this paves the

    way for his arguments about the suffering and atoning death of Christ throughout the rest of the

    epistle. This also sets the stage for the larger question about apostasy in the book, why would

    anyone want to shrink back and return to the old law?

  • 20


    Attridge, Harold W. The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Edited

    by Helmut Koester. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989.

    Barbara and Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martine, and Bruce Metzger, ed. The Greek

    New Testament. 4th Revised Ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft, 1994.

    Bauer, Walter, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon

    Of The New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Second Edition Revised And

    Augmented By F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker From Walter Bauer's Fifth Editionm

    1958. Translated by William F. Arndt and F. WIlbur Gingrich. Chicago: The University of

    Chicago Press, 1979.

    Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Edited by K. Elliger and W. Rudolph. Stuttgart: Deutsche

    Bibelgesellschaft, 1987.

    Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. The New International Commentry On The New Testament.

    Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.

    Cockerill, Garreth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. The New International Commentary on the New

    Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.

    Ellingworth, Paul. The Epistle to the Hebrews. The New International Greek Testament Commentary.

    Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

    Guthrie, Donald. Hebrews. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London/Grand Rapids:

    Eerdmans, 1983.

    Hagner, Donald A. Hebrews. A Good News Commentary. Edited by W. Ward Gasque. San Francisco:

    Harper & Row, 1983.

    Kirkpatrick, A.F. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of Psalms With Introduction

    And Notes, Book I, Psalms I-XLI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901.

    Leupold, H.C. Exposition of the Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972.

    Lightfoot, Neil R. Jesus Christ Today, A Commentary On The Book Of Hebrews. Grand Rapids:

    Eerdmans, 1976, Repr. 1980.

    O'Brien, Peter Thomas. The Letter to the Hebrews. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand

    Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

    Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, The Fourth Gospel, The Epistle To The

    Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1932.

    Septuaginta, Second Revised Edition.. Edited by Alfred Rahlfs. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,

    2006. www.academic-bible.com.

    Barbara and Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martine, and Bruce Metzger, ed. The Greek

    New Testament. 4th Revised Ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft, 2001. www.academic-bible.com.

  • 21

  • 22

    All of these Biblical quotes comes www.academic-bible.com


    Psalm 8:5-7 (LXX)

    5 , ,

    , ;

    6 ,

    7 , ,

    MT of Psalm 8:6

    Rather than reading (angels) as does

    the LXX, the MT reads (God).

    Yet note that while the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac

    reads angels, the later Greek translations of the

    Old Testament (Aquila, Symmachus, and

    Theodotion) all follow the MT.


    Hebrews 2:5-8a (UBS)

    5 , .

    6 ,



    7 , ,



    The Greek text here follows the LXX in

    Hebrews 2:6b-8a.

    Why does the Hebrew writer cite the LXX

    when he could have cited other versions that

    what have supported the reading God (unless

    you believe the psalmist meant divine beings

    there)? To support his theological point that,

    for a temporary time, Jesus was lower than

    the angels.

    This should not cause us any theological

    problems. The Holy Spirit authorized this

    interpretation When taking both passages

    under consideration, both writers are correct.