Hebrews 2:9-18


Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

"Because He suffered," for this reason He, according to His human nature, was crowned with glory and honor. He suffered death in order that by the grace of God He might taste "the bitterness of" death in the stead of all "men." This is the second clear reference to the universal atonement, see 1:3.

AAT: "But we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death in order by God's grace to taste death for everyone."

Note how the word "death" pervades this section: twice in verse 9, twice in verse 14, and once in verse 15. Jesus Christ was born to die. His death delivered all men. We are still speaking about the incarnate Christ. And note how the universal atonement pervades this text. It is found in verses 9, 14,15 and 17.

Hebrews 2:10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.

This is the justification of the humiliation of Jesus.

Rienecker: It is appropriate that action taken to help man should include suffering, since suffering is mankind's common lot. . . . The phrases indicate that the suffering and death of Jesus are not accidental; they form part of the eternal world purpose of God. . . . The participles could refer to Christ who leads sons into glory or it could refer to the subject of the infinitive, i.e. God the Father who leads sons into glory.

Only God can lead people to glory. Therefore the participle could denote God in general or Christ in particular because He is God.

"In bringing many sons . . . to make perfect," thus KJV, NAK, RSV, NIV, AAT. Or does it denote purpose? "In order to bring many sons," thus TEE and JB. It really doesn't make that much difference. The meaning is ultimately the same.

"To glory," ultimately this means the glory of everlasting life but here it does not exclude conversion and preservation in the faith until death.

"Author" or "Leader." Look at 12:2 where it surely means "originator" and "author." TEE has an interesting paraphrase at this point: "For Jesus is the one who leads them to salvation. "This translation combines the two ideas of "leader " and "originator." The word can mean either.

"To perfect" in the sense of "to bring to the goal." This verb is used frequently in Hebrews. It never denotes moral perfection. In one way or another it always means "to bring to the goal. "God brought His Son through to the goal of redeeming all men. God brought Jesus to His goal through suffering.

By the way, here we have added proof that verses 6-8 speak of Jesus' humiliation, not the dignity of redeemed man.

Hebrews 2:11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.

This verse explains how it was possible for Jesus to suffer and to be brought to His goal. He had to become man in order to do this.

"To make holy" or "to sanctify," read 10:10 and 13:12 to get the full meaning here. TEE tries to get the exact meaning: "He makes men pure from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure all have the same Father."

We could read: "Both Redeemer and redeemed" or "both Savior and saved." The "all" at the very end of the clause is very emphatic: "ALL the redeemed." This must indicate the universal atonement.

"Of the same family." TEV, AAT, NASB translate:"of one Father". JB and NEB: "of one stock." KJV and NAK simply say: "of one." RSV: "have all one origin." The context, both that which precedes and that which follows, surely indicates the meaning: "All are of one nature." The passage stresses the humanity of Jesus.  "So" points back to the common humanity of Jesus and of all men.

The Formula of Concord , Epitome, I,5 (Tappert 466): The Son of God assumed into the unity of his person this same human nature, though without sin, and thus took on Himself not alien flesh, but our own, and according to our flesh has truly become our brother, Hebrews 2:14-17.
The Formula of Concord,  Solid Declaration, I, 43 (Tapper 515): In the article of our redemption we have the mighty testimony of Scripture that God's Son assumed our nature, though without sin, so that in every respect he was made like us, his brethren, sin alone excepted, Hebrews 2:17.

Back to our text. Verse 11b reads: "For which reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers." The antecedent is "all men." Jesus became the brother of all men through the incarnation. That is the way the Formula of Concord understands it and that is surely the correct understanding. In other words, "brothers" is not limited to the Jews or to believers. It denotes all human beings. Jesus is not ashamed to call a person whom we might consider the most hopeless sinner His brother or sister. We must never forget that truth. The unmerited favor and grace of God stand behind this sentence. It should humble us deeply. I am not a "favorite" of Jesus is the sense that I merit something better than anyone else.

Hebrews 2:12 He says,  "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."  Hebrews 2:13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."

Here we have three quotations from the Old Testament. The one thought which they have in common is Jesus' oneness with His brethren. They have the same nature.

The first, verse 12, is a prophecy from a Messianic Psalm, 22:22. In the NASB it reads: "I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee." The same thought is found in John 17:7: "I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word."

The second quotations in verse 13 is taken from IsaiahA 8:17 which reads in the Massoretic text, followed by NASB: "I will even look eagerly for Him." Noted is the lasting character of the trust. It has been said that here Isaiah is a type of the Messiah. It is a great comfort for me to know that it was Jesus' trust in the Father that brought Him through. Think of His trust in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross.

By the way, in Matthew 27:43 the chief priests, scribes and elders made fun of Jesus because He trusted in God and they challenged God to deliver Jesus. His enemies could sense that Jesus trusted in His Father. But so deep was their hatred toward Him that even this did not move them. Psalm 22:9 speaks of Jesus' trust in His Father from infancy on. If the incarnate Jesus needed to trust His Father, how much more must I do the same!!

The third quotation from the Old Testament, like the second, is emphatic and exclamatory. It calls attention to an important point, in this case the common humanity of mankind and Jesus.

Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death , that is, the devil

Verses 14 and 15 form a conclusion.

"Children" must be all people.

 "Have" and "shared" both mean "to partake of."

Rienecker: HAVE - the perfect tense describes the constant human situation. . .  "Shared," the aorist tense points to the historical event of the Incarnation when the Son of God assumed this same human nature and thus Himself became truly man and accordingly truly one with mankind.

This verse tells us why Jesus partook of our human nature. It is a very comforting passage of Gospel.

Death is destroyed once and for all. Though death is God's judgment, Satan had the power over death. He used it as his tool and weapon. Jesus abolished death, 2 Timothy 1:10. Death's victory and sting is gone, 1 Corinthians 15:55. Jesus said to His enemies in Gethsemane: "This is your hour and the power of darkness." Luke 22:53.

Hebrews 2:15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

First Jesus rendered Satan and death inoperative. Death causes fear. And the fear, in turn, is directed at the death. An axiom underlies this verse. All men are slaves in the sense that they fear death. Many TV shows have this as a basic theme. We witness people terrified, screaming, turning pale in the face of death.

"All their lives." How true! Death and its resultant fear is a grim master which makes slaves of all men, no matter what their station in life might be.

Bengel: A paradox: Jesus suffered and overcame death: the devil, expending and employing death, succumbed.

The freedom of which Paul speaks in Galatians 5:1 and 13 is freedom from sin, its guilt and power, from death, with its terrible fear, and from Satan and all his power.

 "Slavery." Paul warns us at Galatians 5:1 not to lose our freedom by becoming victims of the yoke of slavery again. In that case he is speaking of work- righteousness.

Hebrews 2:16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.

From the two references in The Formula of Concord, quoted under verse 11, it would seem that the KJV "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels: but he took on him the seed of Abraham," is better translated in the NAK with: "For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham." This difference in the meaning of the verb is probably due to the study of the papyri. i.e. fragments of ancient copies of the Bible.

This difference does not change the sense of the passage. The writer is emphasizing the fact that Jesus became a human being to help human beings.

In this verse we have the last reference to angels.

The writer, in chapter 1, had stressed Jesus' superiority, in the state of humiliation, to the angels. In verse 16 he is simply stating that Jesus' redemptive work is limited to human beings. Why does he say "the descendants of Abraham" and not "all men"? It is clear from what precedes and from what follows that Jesus is the Savior of all human beings. Very likely the reason is that the writer is addressing people of Jewish origin in particular and, in keeping with the thought, the descendants of Abraham are representative of the human race. Or perhaps he is indicating that Jesus came first for the Jew and then also for the Gentile.

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

What is the reason? He wanted to help mankind. The words denote personal necessity, or obligation. "He had to be made like His brothers."

The infinitive is passive. God made Jesus like all other human beings, in every respect. This, of course, excludes the fact that Jesus was sinless. He could become a human being in every respect without becoming sinful Himself. But the sin of the world was imputed to Him.

Rienecker: This likeness is nothing less than complete identification.

We too easily forget this truth.

 "High Priest." This High Priest is in a class all His own. He is merciful, compassionate, sympathetic. No one was ever more compassionate than Jesus Christ. He faithfully carried out His work at High Priest. The word "faithful" looks forward to the use of the word in chapter 3 where we are told that both Moses and Jesus were faithful.

And now we are told in what sense Jesus was faithful. A priest takes man's part before God. As Priest, Christ was man's representative before God, with reference to the things that pertain to God.

 "To make atonement" is to propitiate. It is the same verb used by the publican in the parable, Luke 18:13. NASB and NAK translate: "to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Man's great problem is his sin. Jesus took care of that problem. Look at 1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 3:25.

Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Not only did the incarnate Christ pay for our sins but He also suffered daily what we go through. That is evidently the purpose of this final verse. And since He suffered the daily grind of temptation He is equipped to help the tempted.

The two items which cause difficulty in translation here are pointed out by the following renderings: NASB: "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." NIV: See above. RSV: "For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted." NASB makes the participle causal, NIV temporal and RSV makes it coordinate with the verb. The NAK leaves the participle as is: "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."

Sin brings suffering and temptation. During his earthly life Jesus suffered as we suffer and He did so in our stead. All the while He was also being tempted to sin. After His great temptation from the devil, Luke tells us, 4:13, that the devil left Jesus for a while. In other words, the account of Jesus' temptation is evidently just one example of what when on in the life of Jesus constantly. Therefore He is able to help the tempted.

We conclude by quoting Hebrews 4:14-16: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Those who reject the Messianic character of Psalm 8 appeal to the fact that the Jews did not consider Psalm 8 as Messianic. But that is no valid criterion for there are many Old Testament passages which the Jews did not consider Messianic.


(Adapted from "Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Sundays after Pentecost",
by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1987, pp. 80-83)

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