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Bible: What Does Hebrews 2 Teach Us About the "High Priesthood" of Jesus?

Updated on June 21, 2016

The Law of Moses


The Kingdom on Earth


Hebrews 2: Jesus, A Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Hebrews 2

Obey the Testimony About Christ and Salvation

The author concludes that knowing the testimony about Christ and salvation (“the things we have heard”) should motivate professing believers not only to listen more attentively to it, but also to respond to it lest they “drift away” (v. 1).

Pointing out that the Israelites of old received severe punishment for disobeying the Law of Moses (“the word spoken through angels”), he argues that those who have heard the Lord Jesus and His witnesses proclaim the message of salvation, and have also seen authenticating miracles from God, will not evade an even greater judgment if they disregard the message (vv. 2-4).

[The latter part of verse three suggests that the author did not hear Christ first-hand.]

Redeemed Mankind, Not Angels, Will Rule in Messiah's Kingdom

The writer informs his readers that God has not put angels in charge of the Messianic kingdom (“the world to come”) [v. 5].

For some reason, he omits directly naming his source in support of this assertion, yet cites a well-known Psalm that declares that redeemed human beings would one day receive this divine honor—an event that God has not yet brought to pass (vv. 6-8).

[In one of David's psalms, the king of Israel expresses amazement that God would not only think and care about human beings, but that He would also place them in a high order of His creation and give them the responsibility to rule over the earth (Ps. 8:4-6; cf. Gen. 1:28).

Having stewardship or management responsibilities seems to be a reasonable interpretation of this “dominion” idea.]

Instead, humanity has witnessed Jesus, the God-man, “made a little lower than the angels,” having suffered death for everyone, now “crowned with glory and honor” in heaven (v. 9).

[The Son now exercises spiritual sovereignty as He reigns in heaven over the universal kingdom, but one day He will also rule physically on the millennial Earth.]

The Suffering Servant Becomes the Only Qualified Savior

The author asserts that God the Father, who created the universe which will ultimately glorify Him (cf. Col. 1:16), rightly allowed the Son (“the captain of their salvation”) to suffer, so that the latter would show Himself to be a qualified Savior of many (“in bringing many sons to glory”) [v. 10].

[Suffering did not make Jesus perfect in any moral sense; successfully passing the “suffering” test merely proved that He was qualified to be the Savior.]

Since both He and the “saints” belong to one Father, Jesus feels no shame in calling these “sons” His brethren (v. 11).

The writer of this epistle supports this contention by citing three OT statements—Ps. 22:22, Is. 8:17 and Is. 8:18—which he understands David and Isaiah (respectively) to have spoken, but ultimately to have found their fulfillment in Christ (vv. 12-13).

[How does the second quotation support the author’s point?]

The Great High Priest


Propitiation: What Does This Word Mean?

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Jesus, Fully Human and Fully God, is Our Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Since “the children”—presumably human beings belonging to God—possess a human nature, the Son also assumed the same, so that He could render Satan powerless in his designs to separate people from God.

By dying for their sins, Christ set these children free from the lifelong spiritual bondage that their fear of death had caused (vv. 14-15).

To settle this point, the author adds that Christ helps believers (“the seed of Abraham”), not angels (v. 16).

The Lord needed to become fully human in every way, so that He could function as a “merciful and faithful High Priest.”

Jesus removed the sins of the people (that is, through expiation) by satisfying (propitiating) the righteous demands of a holy God, turning away divine wrath through His substitutionary atoning sacrifice (v. 17).

Christ can help those who are tempted (“tested”), because not only did He know suffering intimately but He also successfully passed every test (v. 18).

© 2013 glynch1


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