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Hebrews 2.14-18 NOTES

Hebrews 2:14-18 - EXEGESIS (Donovan)


CONTEXT:  The author identified neither himself nor the people to whom he was writing.  However, the content of the book, including the frequent references to the Hebrew Scriptures, makes it clear that he was writing to Jewish Christians who were sorely tempted to leave the Christian church and revert to Jewish worship.  There were a number of reasons why these Jewish Christians might have been tempted to return to Judaism:

  • Families and friends surely pressured them.  This could have taken many forms--expressions of disapproval, shunning, disinheritance, etc.
  • They would have missed the elaborate rituals and furnishings of the Jewish Temple and the synagogues.  Christians didn't have church buildings in those days, but met in the homes of fellow Christians.  Compared to Jewish worship, Christian worship must have seemed spare--even poor.
  • Those who had enjoyed special status in Judaism would miss the prestige and influence that they once enjoyed.  Luke tells us that "a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).  Whether they could have become Jewish priests again is open to question, but some would likely be tempted to return if they thought that would be a possibility.

The author spends the first ten and a half chapters of this thirteen chapter book (1:1 - 10:18) emphasizing the superiority of Christ and the new covenant to Moses and the old covenant.  In chapters 1-2, he focuses specifically on the superiority of Christ to angels.



14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.


"Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, (the Son) also himself in the same way partook of the same" (v. 14a).  A more literal translation would be, "Now since the children have flesh and blood in common."  I prefer the literal translation because, for me, it speaks of the commonality of the human condition.  We share the strengths and weaknesses inherent in our flesh and blood bodies.  In the end, we share death--the great leveler.

  ▪ Jesus shared our human condition, beginning with his birth in a stable and the manger that cradled him as a newborn.  Born before the advent of modern medicine, he had no access to a trained obstetrician or a well-equipped hospital.  His parents had to bundle him up in the middle of the night to flee to Egypt to escape murderous Herod.  During his ministry, he walked many dusty roads--no limousines or private jets for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  No indoor plumbing.  No air conditioning.  No bodyguards.

And his death was terrible--as terrible as death can be.  Death is never pretty, and is seldom painless--but Jesus suffered a cruel death that put him on a par with the worst that anyone else has experienced.


"that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (v. 14b).  A more literal translation would be, " that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death, that is, the devil."

  ▪ I mention the literal translation, because "destroy" is not only a more faithful translation, but it is also more graphic.  Jesus didn't come just to take the devil down a notch or two.  He didn't come just to sap the devil's power.  He came to destroy the devil, the one "who had the power of death."


"and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (v. 15).  Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death and the bondage that fear and death impose.

  ▪ We still die, of course.  At last count, the death rate hovered at 100 percent.  But through Christ we have the hope of resurrection and life eternal--life with God--an eternal life which we begin in the here and now.  As Jesus said in his High Priestly Prayer, "This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3).




16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.


"For most certainly, he doesn't give help to angels" (v. 16a).   As noted above, the author emphasizes throughout chapters 1-2 that the Son is superior to angels.  In this verse, the author is emphasizing that the Son didn't come to earth and die on the cross to help angels.  He came to save people.


"but he gives help to the seed of Abraham" (v. 16b).  The allusion is to Isaiah 41:8-11, where God, through the prophet, speaks of "Abraham my friend," and promises, "'You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away.  Don't you be afraid, for I am with you."

  ▪ Keep in mind that the author is writing to Jewish Christians, so they would identify with "the seed of Abraham."  They would consider themselves sons and daughters of Abraham.

But Christ came to save, not just those who are descendants of Abraham by blood.  As Paul says elsewhere, "Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7).

  • Jesus' genealogy includes two Gentiles, Ruth and Rahab (Matthew 1:1-17).
  • He ministered to Gentiles (Matthew 4:25; 8:28ff; 15:28).
  • He spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven being "like a dragnet, that was cast into the sea, and gathered some fish of every kind"--a veiled reference to Gentiles (Matthew 13:47).
  • Matthew reports a Roman centurion saying, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).
  • Jesus concluded his ministry by telling his disciples, "Go, and make disciples of all nations" (28:19).

"Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers" (v. 17a).  See the comments on verse 14 above.


"that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people" (v. 17b).  Jewish law established an elaborate sacrificial system to atone for the sins of the people.  The high priest was responsible for the administration of the sacrifices.  He alone was permitted in the Holy of Holies (the dwelling place of God)--and only on the Day of Atonement.

Christ assumed the role of "a merciful and faithful high priest"--the ultimate high priest.


"to make atonement (Greek: hilaskesthai) for the sins of the people" (v. 17b).  In my study for this verse, I found that hilaskesthai (translated "atonement" in this translation) is also translated "propitiation" or "expiation"--words calculated to put people sleep--but the distinctions among them are worth noting.

  ▪ ATONEMENT has to do with making amends for sins or repairing the spiritual damage caused by sins.  It also has to do with restoring relationships that were broken by sin--in particular the relationship that we enjoyed with God prior to the introduction of sin into the world.  Our sin (our failure to do God's will--our willful disobedience) broke that relationship, because God is holy (morally and spiritually perfect) and expects us to be holy as well (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15).

  ▪ Our sin, therefore, creates a conflict for God.  On the one hand, God is repulsed by our sin, but on the other hand, he loves us.  On the one hand, he cannot bring himself to invite us into full fellowship while we are tainted with sin, but on the other hand, he cannot bring himself to dismiss us totally.

  ▪ So, in keeping with God's holiness (which demands that we be punished) and his love (which demands that we be reconciled), God devised a process by which he can make us holy once again so that he might receive us into full fellowship.  This process is known as substitutionary atonement--"substitutionary" meaning that God will accept a substitute to absorb the punishment for our sins and "atonement" meaning that we can be restored to full fellowship with God.  Christ's death on the cross became the ultimate sacrifice.

  ▪ Some people interpret PROPITIATION to mean appeasing the wrath of God by offering a sacrifice.  They believe that it inappropriate to use the word propitiation in relationship to God, because they understand God as gracious and loving --not wrathful--not requiring sacrifices to appease his anger.

  ▪ However, I also learned that propitious means "favorably disposed" or "gracious"--and hilaskesthai is derived from hileos, which means kind or gracious.  While propitiation can involve appeasement, it is difficult to see how propitious (which means favorably disposed) and propitiation (often thought to mean requiring a sacrifice) came to be used in such different ways.

  ▪ EXPIATION, on the other hand, involves the removal of sin--or the forgiveness of sin.

Most Christian scholars today favor the words atonement or expiation rather than propitiation.



18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.


"For in that he himself has suffered being tempted" (v. 18a).  We find the story of Jesus' temptation following his baptism in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).  However, we should regard those as accounts of his initial temptation.  If he was tempted as we are, Satan must have tempted him on a regular basis.  Luke seems to confirm that, saying, "When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until another time" (Luke 4:13).


"he is able to help those who are tempted" (v. 18b).  For me, this brings to mind Alcoholics Anonymous, whose recovering members (those not currently drinking) reach out on a regular basis to help struggling alcoholics (those who are currently drinking).  The recovering members are able to relate to the struggling alcoholics, because they have been there and done that.  They know the temptations, the excuses, and the deceptions--and aren't easily taken in by the things that alcoholics say in their own defense or the promises that they make.

  ▪ I wouldn't want to press that metaphor too far, however, because AA involves drunks helping drunks.  The situation with Jesus is different.  He has been tempted as we have been tempted, but he didn't succumb.  He is a sinless man helping sinful people.

  ▪ But though Jesus didn't succumb, he has the kind of sympathy that comes with having suffered temptation.  That doesn't mean that Jesus can't be critical--witness his opinions of the scribes and Pharisees.  But he is ready and willing to help--and to forgive--the repentant sinner.





E. The Son's Solidarity with Humanity 2:10-18 - The writer next emphasized the future glory that the Son will experience to heighten his readers' appreciation for Him and for their own future with Him. He did this by reflecting on Psalms 8. He wanted his readers to appreciate these things so they would continue to live by faith rather than departing from God's will (cf. James 1; 1 Peter 1). This section concludes the first major part of the writer's address and prepares his audience for the next one (Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 5:10). "The three thoughts quickly made in Hebrews 2:9 are . . . filled in by further theological reflection in Hebrews 2:10-18. They are not taken up in distinct sections but are interwoven in the argument of the paragraph. . . . "The first theme . . . is that Jesus as God's Son came to earth to share fully in our humanity and thus to establish His solidarity [unity, identity] with all people. . . .  "The second theme . . . is that in God's plan Jesus had to undergo suffering and death in order to provide salvation for humankind. . . . "The third theme . . . is that because of His obedience in carrying out God's redemptive plan despite severe temptation, Jesus has been exalted to the honored position in God's very presence as the believers' perfected High Priest."

v. 14:  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, -  We children share in flesh and blood with one another; we share the limitations of humanity. To free us from these limitations the Son had to assume the same limitations, which He did at the Incarnation. Jesus Christ broke Satan's power over believers by His death. Obviously Satan still exercises great power, but Jesus Christ broke his power to enslave believers (cf. Romans 6:1-14). Furthermore Jesus Christ defeated Satan in the area of his greatest strength: his power to inflict death.

v. 15: and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. - The fear of death enslaves unbelievers in that fear of death leads them to behave in ways that please Satan (e.g., selfishly, living for the present, etc.). A believer need not have the same fear of death as an unbeliever (cf. Luke 11:21-22). Consequently we need not feel compelled to live for the present (e.g., put self first, do anything to save our lives, etc.) as unbelievers do. The fear of death tyrannizes many people both consciously and subconsciously.

  • It is ironical that human beings, destined to rule over the creation (Psalms 8:5-7 LXX, cited in Hebrews 2:6-8), should find themselves in the posture of a slave, paralyzed through the fear of death (Kögel, Sohn, 80). Hopeless subjection to death characterizes earthly existence apart from the intervention of God . . ." [Note: Lane, p. 61.]

v. 16: For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. - Here "the seed of Abraham" probably refers primarily to believers, the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), rather than to Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham (cf. Isa. 41:8-10). The original readers, saved Jews, were both the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham. The contrast is between angelic and human believers in the context. Jesus Christ does not give help to angels in the same way He gives help to Christians. He helps us uniquely as an elder brother and parent (Heb. 2:11-15), a fellow human being.

v. 17: Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. - "All things" means in every way, specifically by experiencing human life and by suffering. Jesus Christ's identification with us made possible His ministry as high priest in which He would be merciful to us and faithful to God. Eli is an example of a high priest who was neither faithful nor merciful (cf. 1 Samuel 2:27-36). The basis for this ministry was Jesus' making satisfaction (propitiation, by atonement) for sin by His self-sacrifice.

  • The concept of high priesthood, as applied to Christ, expresses both Christ's unity [solidarity] with mankind in a particular historical tradition (Hebrews 5:1) and his leadership of God's pilgrim people into the heavenly sanctuary." [Note: Ellingworth, p. 186.]
  • "The people" (Heb. O laos) is Hebrews' preferred term for the people of God." [Note: Ibid., p. 190.]

v. 18: For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. - As our priest, Jesus Christ can help us because He has undergone the same trials we experience (in body, mind, and emotions) and has emerged victorious. The testing in view is temptation to depart from God's will, specifically apostasy. The picture is of an older brother helping his younger brothers navigate the pitfalls of growing up successfully. That is the role that a priest plays.

  • Think of it this way-which bridge has undergone the greatest stress, the one that collapses under its first load of traffic, or the one that bears the same traffic morning and evening, year after year?" [Hughes, 1:86.]

The writer developed these ideas more fully later. He only introduced them here.

  • It is a characteristic of this Epistle just to touch upon a truth, and then to dismiss it for a time, taking it up later for full treatment." [Note: Thomas, p. 36.]
  • The writer composes like a musician intertwining one theme with another.
  • The emphasis in Hebrews 2:5-18 has been on Jesus Christ's present ministry whereas that of Hebrews 1:5-14 was on His future ministry. In both sections, however, there is a looking forward to the time when all things will be subject to Him. The writer focused on the future to encourage his readers to persevere faithfully in the present rather than apostatizing.
  • With Hebrews 2:17-18 the writer prepares to lead his hearers directly into the body of the discourse devoted to the exposition of Jesus as priest and sacrifice. Common to the concepts both of champion and of high priest are the elements of representation and solidarity with a particular people. The presentation of Jesus in Hebrews 2:10-18 provided assurance that the exalted Son continues to identify himself with the oppressed people of God exposed to humiliation and testing in a hostile world." [Note: Lane, p. 67.]




Heb. 2:14-18 - Extra Commentary

KEY TAKEAWAYS (Application)

  • Although completely perfect and sinless, Christ voluntarily submitted to the penalty of sin, this agonizing death on the Cross. This voluntary sacrifice of Himself for our welfare satisfied the justice and holiness of God. The benefits of His sacrifice are applied to all who place their faith in Him.
  • Through His death (v. 14) the Son eliminated the fear of death and broke the bondage of sin and death.
  • Jesus experienced the lure of sin, but He never surrendered Himself to it. He knows what it is like to be tempted, so He knows how to assist those who are being tempted.


Verses 14-15: Jesus Christ shared in our humanity by humbling Himself to become a man (Phil 2:5-11). These children, however, were once held in servitude by their enemy, Satan. Since they were human, their Captain had to become human and die for them, in order to rescue them. But by doing so He was able to destroy or "render powerless" the devil. The author did not mean that Satan ceased to exist or to be active. Rather the word the author used for "render powerless" (katargēsē) indicates the annulment of his power over those whom Christ redeems. The word in this instance, has a definition of "to cause something to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside."  In speaking of the devil as wielding "the power of death," the writer meant that Satan uses people's "fear of death" to enslave them to his will. Often people make wrong moral choices out of their intense desire for self-preservation. The readers were reminded that they were no longer subject to such "slavery" and that they could face death with the same confidence in God their Captain/Leader/Founder/Originator (i.e. Jesus from v. 10) had.

In thinking about the phrase the "power of death," the devil tempts people to sin and then accuses them of rebelling against God (Gen 3; Job 1). By inducing them to sin, Satan delivers people over to death, the due penalty for their sin (Rom 5:12). In what sense did Satan have the power of death? The final authority of death is in the hands of our God (Deut. 32:39; Matt. 10:28; Rev. 1:18). Satan can do only that which is permitted by God (Job 1:12; 2:6). But because Satan is the author of sin (John 8:44), and sin brings death (Rom. 6:23), in this sense Satan exercises power in the realm of death. Jesus called him a murderer (John 8:44). Satan uses the fear of death as a terrible weapon to gain control over the lives of people. His kingdom is one of darkness and death (Col. 1:13). We who trust in Jesus Christ have once and for all been delivered from Satan's authority and from the terrible fear of death. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ have given us victory! (1 Cor. 15:55-58). The devil is still active today (1 Pet 5:8), but his power over death has been taken away from him. Christ's death fulfilled the penalty for sin. Thus, by placing our trust in Christ, we can be free from Satan's evil grasp (LK 10:18; 2 Tim 1:10; Rev 1:18). The judgment of Satan was rendered by the Cross, but the execution lies in the future (1 Cor 15:54-57; Rev 20:10). The devil uses the "fear of death" (v. 15) to enslave us. Through His death (v. 14) the Son eliminated such fear and broke the bondage of sin and death.

Verses 16-18: Whatever their needs or trials, their Founder is adequate to help them since He ministers to Abraham's descendants, not angels. The expression "descendants of Abraham" (literally, "Abraham's seed") may point to the Jewishness of the writer's audience, but even Gentile Christians could claim to be the "seed of Abraham" in a spiritual sense (Gal. 3:29).[1] This phrase refers either to the physical descendants of Abraham or the spiritual children of Abraham-that is, the ones who, like Abraham, have placed their faith in God (Gal 3:7, 29). The author may have used this expression because the recipients were primarily Jewish believers. The author is pointing out that Christ came to the aid of Abraham's children, not of the angelic hosts.

The help which the Originator gives to these His followers is again predicated on the fact that He was "made like His brothers" in "all things" (v. 17, or every way), that is, both in terms of becoming incarnate and by virtue of suffering. The phrase "in all things," includes Jesus' humanity and His suffering. Jesus participated in our nature and in our suffering on earth so that He could be a sympathetic Mediator between God and humanity.[2]  Jesus understands our weaknesses and intercedes for us in the presence of God the Father. Here for the first time the writer introduced the thought of His priesthood, which they elaborated on later. This is the first time the title High Priest occurs in Hebrews, and the first time the title is applied to Jesus Christ in the Bible. For now, the writer was content to affirm that this identification with "His brothers" had made possible a priesthood characterized both by mercy (sympathy) and faithfulness (trustworthy) in service to God ("in things pertaining to God").



Heb. 2:14-18 - EXEGESIS (Richison)

CONTEXT:  In this section, we'll hear the writer cite quotes from the Old Testament which prove that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is not an angel but is superior to any created being. He is, in fact, identical to God. And yet, He became fully human in order to serve as our perfect high priest.  Hebrews 2:5-18 explains why the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came in the form of a man, rather than being an angel. In order to serve as a true example, He had to experience our human suffering and temptation. By doing so, Jesus was able to become the ''Captain,'' or the ''Founder,'' of our salvation. His resurrection breaks the slavery we experience over our fear of death. By using more quotations from the Old Testament, the writer of Hebrews shows that this is exactly what God planned for all along.

v. 14: Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, - The writer now turns to the core reason for incarnation-Christ must suffer death to free us from the power of death.

Inasmuch [since] then [therefore] - These words introduce a conclusion from the preceding verses. Since humanity has human nature, Jesus took on that nature as well. The "then" or therefore develops further the preceding argument of the purpose of the incarnation (He 2:9-10).

as the children have partaken [share in common] of flesh and blood [human nature] - "Children" refers to the children of the previous verse (He 2:13).  To partake of "flesh and blood" is to share humanity in common. This is a statement that Jesus shared in the experience of humanity in unequivocal terms. All human beings share human nature in common.

He Himself likewise shared [become a member of a group] in the same - The Greek word for "likewise" comes from two words: alongside and nearby. Jesus by His incarnation took His place alongside and nearby humanity. In like manner He took on humanity. His humanity was the same as any other human being.

▪ The word "shared" here is not the same word as "partaken" in the previous clause. "Partaken" speaks of the characteristic sharing of human nature, whereas "shared" addresses the thought that Jesus voluntarily accepted humanity to His person. The Son was both undiminished deity and true humanity.

"Shared" is to become a member of or belong to a group. The Greek word is made up of two words: to have and with. The Lord has human nature with the rest of humanity. He did not have humanity in His eternal state; He was incorporeal in eternity (Jn 4:24). The Son did not have a human nature in eternity. He took possession of a body at His incarnation. He became a member of the group called humanity at His incarnation. The only way humans could be saved was that the Son become Jesus, a human. Jesus shared common humanity with the human race. The word "shared" indicates that Jesus took on human nature.

that  - The "that" here indicates the emphatic purpose of Jesus' incarnation. A primary purpose for the incarnation was that He would die to destroy the power of the devil.

through death -  The Son could not have died without becoming a human being. Jesus defeated the devil by His death. The devil held the power of death, but Jesus defeated death with death.

He might destroy [render inoperative] him [the devil] - "Destroy" carries the idea of annulment of the devil's power. Jesus' death defeated Satan's power over believers. "Destroy" in the Greek means to render inoperative, not to annihilate. Jesus did not annihilate Satan at the cross, but his power was broken. Spiritual death has no more power over the person who believes that the cross saves his soul.

who had the power [dominion] of death - "The power of death" is the devil's power over those who fear death (Mt 12:29). That fear enslaves them to his purposes. This Greek word for "power" means dominion. Satan had at one point dominion over death; he was sovereign in that realm. Jesus broke that dominion.

▪ The devil holds the power of death in a secondary and not in a primary sense. Death is the darkest event that anyone can face. Jesus conquered death by His death. There is no dualism in the world: God is sovereign; nothing operates without His control. Satan is no rival to an absolute God.

▪ There has always been a link between sin and the power of death; death is the penalty for sin. Christ's death paid that penalty; He removed eternal death for those who believe on Him. Christ's death is the gateway to eternal life.

that is, the devil - Although the devil is the power behind death, God holds the ultimate power over death. The death of Christ on the cross was the death that destroyed Satan. It was at the cross where the encounter between heaven and hell occurred. The cross rendered ineffective the power of the devil. Jesus defeated death with death.

PRINCIPLE:  The death of Jesus defeated the devil.

APPLICATION:  Jesus by dying became sovereign over death. The reason Jesus became incarnate was to die or pay the penalty for our sins. He broke the power of eternal death on our souls. He broke the back of Satan in doing so.  Jesus deprived the devil of his power to cast the fear of death in people. Jesus rendered that problem inoperative (2 Ti 1:10). There is no fear of death in believers because they cannot experience spiritual death. Jesus did that for them. He is Lord of both the dead and living (Ro 14:9).  Jesus destroyed Satan by taking away his weapon of death. God required that someone pay the penalty of death. Since believers died in Christ, the devil lost his power over them.  The purpose of the incarnation was not a sentimental, saccharine attempt to identify with men in general. It was no attempt to give a tribute to the dignity of man. The Renaissance man was of no value to Him. The purpose of the incarnation was to die with a human body for the sins of man. He took our hell on the cross.

v. 15: and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

and might free those who through [because of] fear of death - The fear of death is the greatest fear people have. Jesus released people from this fear. The devil no longer has a grip on believers.

were subject to slavery all their lives - To be subject to slavery is to live not as one chooses to live. The word "subject" comes from two Greek words: in and to hold. Fear of death held some people in bondage. Liberty is to live as one chooses. Christ gave us that liberty (Ga 5:1).

PRINCIPLE:  Death apart from Christ is a horror.

APPLICATION:  There is no experience like the fear of death. We have all thought about our personal death. The Christian knows that there is something on the other side of death, a glorious heaven ahead and fellowship with our Lord. Nothing can separate the believer from the promises of God (Ro 8:38-39).  Those redeemed are no longer under slavery to Satan. They can face death with the same confidence that Jesus had. Christians do not fear death any longer because of Christ's victory over death (1 Co 15:21-22). There is a corporate solidarity between Christ and believers.  Death for the believer is an advance in life, eternal life (Php 1:21). Thus, the fear of death no longer enslaves the believer because Jesus killed death.

v. 16: For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. -

Another reason Christ suffered in His humanity is that He might become a High Priest who intercedes for His people.  This verse moves from proclamation to reason. The Son gives help to believers, not to angels.

For assuredly [surely, doubtless] - The "for" sets forth a summary of verses 10-15; it gives the reason for the incarnation of Christ. The emphatic "assuredly" gives strong affirmation of this statement-"we all know this to be a fact."

He does not give help to angels -  It was not Jesus' purpose on earth to help angels. He did not come to earth to redeem angels but human beings.  "Give help" means to appropriate or to lay firm hold of. The idea is to rescue someone from peril to help them. Paul used this term with the idea of taking hold of eternal life (1 Ti 6:12, 19). Jesus did not take hold of angels to minister to them but to believers.

but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham - Although the "descendant of Abraham" generally refers to Jews, it can refer to Gentile believers as well (Ga 3:29). However, the primary argument of Hebrews was to warn converted Jews not to revert to Judaism.

▪ Jesus Himself was a descendant of Abraham (Mt 1:1). The Abrahamic Covenant promised that Israel would be a great nation in certain geographical boundaries (Ge 12-15). Jesus was born a physical Jew. Not only was He incarnate but He was born into a Jewish body.


PRINCIPLE:  Jesus came to save human sinners, not angels.


APPLICATION:  Jesus' ministry was to the redeemed, not angels. His work on Calvary's cross did not provide for the salvation of angels but for mankind. His work saves the inferior being between the two.


v. 17: Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. - Vs. 17 and 18 conclude the argument of ch. 2, the reason Jesus became incarnate. He became incarnate to become the High Priest who intercedes for men. The appropriateness of Jesus' suffering in the Father's plan was develop-ed (vv. 10-16), and now the author addressed the idea of Jesus' High Priestly status of dealing with sin.


Therefore - The "therefore" here draws a conclusion from verse 16 (He 2:16). By His incarnation He saved those who would believe.

He had [incumbent upon] - The word "had" carries the idea to be necessary or indispensable. Jesus had an obligation upon Him to come to the aid of sinners. Saving the lost was His responsibility.

to be made like His brethren - Jesus had to become a man in every respect, whether in His birth, growth as a person, or suffering. Christ experienced all the consequences of being a human except sin.

in all things - Jesus' help of His "brethren" was predicated on His becoming human. The likeness was identification, not simulation. He experienced hunger, thirst, pain, and criticism from legalists. He fully experienced the life we experience.

so that He might become - The "so that" shows the purpose whereby Jesus took on humanity and became High Priest. "Might be" is to be like. By this He could represent man to God properly. The incarnation made the possibility that Jesus would become High Priest.

a merciful and faithful High Priest - Hebrews here for the first time introduces the idea of a high priest. The

high priest was someone who interceded for others. The high priest in Israel did this on the Day of Atonement,

for example. The priesthood had both Godward and manward dimensions.

▪ Jesus is both a "merciful" and a "faithful" High Priest. This idea will be developed more fully later in the epistle. Hebrews, more than any other epistle, discusses Jesus' role as High Priest. Mercy is a primary requisite of a priest (He 4:15). A person who exercises mercy must identify with the misery of someone else. He was also "faithful"; He was true to His office as Mediator of mercy.

in things pertaining to God - Jesus was a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to mediation toward God.

to make propitiation for the sins of the people - The word "propitiation" means satisfaction. God must be satisfied that an adequate payment for sin has been made. His personal justice needed to be satisfied. Christ's sacrifice was enough for Him. God no longer rejects man from His fellowship, because He has been appeased by the blood of Christ.  Specifically, "make propitiation" means more than make atonement. To atone is to cover our sins; Jesus took our sins away-upon Himself-completely.

PRINCIPLE:  God is completely resolved about the sin question.

APPLICATION:  Since God is satisfied about the sin issue, He is now willing to fellowship with those who accept Christ's sacrifice for their sin (Ro 3:25; 1 Jn 4:10). God met the demand of His own holiness by sending His Son to pay for our sins. He satisfied Himself in doing so.

v. 18: For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

For [cause] - The word "for" shows the reason why Jesus being made like His brethren in all things made Him a merciful and faithful High Priest (He 2:17). The genuineness of the humanity of Christ is apparent in that He suffered temptation.

in that - By virtue of Jesus' temptation, He can come to our "aid" (He 4:15; 5:7f).

He Himself [emphatic] was tempted - Jesus was subjugated by means of being "tempted." The emphasis is not primarily on His suffering but that He was tempted in His suffering. "Tempted" means to put to a test. The idea here can mean both solicitation to evil and bear under a trial. Jesus did not yield to solicitation to do evil (Mt 4:1-11). Neither did He bypass or escape the trial of suffering during His ministry on earth or the cross (Mt 16:21-22).

He is able to come to the aid [help] of those who are tempted - Jesus' temptation allows Him to empathize with believers who suffer temptation. The word "aid" here carries the idea to run to the cry of those in danger and bring them help. Jesus is always ready to help us in times of trouble. The help that Jesus offers is not simply man-to-man but Redeemer to sinner.

PRINCIPLE:  Jesus not only suffered for us, He suffered with us.

APPLICATION:  Jesus is able to give aid to others because He faced the same trials that they have (He 4:16; 5:2). As Jesus succeeded in not yielding to sin in His life, so the believer is not under obligation to sin. It is possible to withstand solicitation to evil.