posted on Jan, 13 2017 @ 05:06 PM
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, perhaps to a specific Jewish church.
The message of the letter is that Christ has brought them “completeness”.
That is, God makes available, through Christ, a much greater and more decisive revelation of salvation than anything they have received from him
So in the first chapter the writer wanted to show how the Son, who brought this final revelation, was greater than the angels who had been the agents
of the revelation of the Law of Moses.
His next task is to explain why this difference was necessary, why a revelation received through angels could not have completed God’s purpose.
In other words, why this work needed to be done through a man.
In the first place, the angels do not inherit, and do not have at their disposal “the world to come” (or “the age to come”).
For this has been promised to the human race (ch2 v5).
The promise can be found in Psalm 8. Humanity may be humble, in themselves, and yet God has made them only a little lower than the angels.
“Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet”.
The “subjection” is in agreement with the command in Genesis;
“Fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon
the earth” (Genesis ch1 v28).
However, if “subjection” is supposed to mean that nothing is outside human control, then the dominion is incomplete;
“We do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (v8).
That is what turns the command into a promise.
But now we find the promise fulfilled in Jesus, which opens up the way for the rest of us.
For we see Jesus, the man, “made a little lower than the angels” (when he was born as man), and also now “crowned with glory and honour”
However, it was necessary that he should die before he could be glorified, as we know from the opening of the letter;
“When [and only when] he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (ch1 v3)
Thus it was for our benefit (“by the grace of God”) that Jesus should experience death.
He experienced death on account of, or on behalf of, everyone [HYPER PANTOS].
So if God, the Lord of all things, was to fulfil the promise of the Psalm by “bringing many sons to glory”, it was fitting that he should make the
pioneer of their salvation “perfect through suffering” (v10).
Jesus is the “pioneer” (ARCHEGOS), because he leads the way along the path and causes others to follow.
“Perfect through suffering” is not the psychological idea that “suffering builds character”, which we might read into the English version.
“Suffering” is the experience of death, as in the previous verse.
Being “perfect” means being complete.
The meaning is that his death made him perfect [TELEIOSAI] in the achievement of his task.
That is, the offering of himself was carried to a full conclusion.
That is why the Son needed to be a man, and not an angel.
Only as a man could he open up the human path to glorification, and only as a man could he follow the path himself through death.
That is the significance of the fact that “he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified” are EX ENOS (v11). It means they have the same
He can only “sanctify” them, setting them apart for God, by sharing their nature, living in the same kind of fleshly body.
In a sense, he carries them along with him into God’s presence.
That is why he calls them his brothers.
The writer quotes, on his behalf, the words of Psalm22 “I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise
This brings to our attention the close of the Psalm, which describes how his deliverance will be proclaimed to a coming generation, and all the
peoples of the world will turn to serve him.
That is how the Psalmist resolves his opening words - “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”- which Jesus himself attached to what was
happening on the Cross. The appearance of despair has been turned into triumph.
The writer sees another picture of the relationship in the words of Isaiah;
“I will put my trust in him”, followed by “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (Isaiah ch8 vv17-18).
He quotes the two parts separately, to show the two stages of the process.
“I will put my trust in him” is the Son suffering death, as the pioneer, acting out his trust in the Father and so demonstrating that trust.
The “children” whom the Son is able to gather round him and present to his Father are the “many sons brought to glory”.
As already observed, this could only be possible if he had the same flesh-and-blood nature as the children themselves.
Sharing the same nature, he could experience death, and through this experience he would destroy the one who has the power of death- that is, the
Thus he was able to liberate his brethren or children from the fear of judgemental death which constitutes their state of bondage (v15).
The last verses of the chapter point out another advantage of his humanity.
He has been tested as a human, to the point of death, so that he can understand and help those going through the same testing.
But that is not really part of the main argument of this chapter.
It anticipates the later discussion of the priestly function of Jesus.
In summary, Jesus would not have needed a physical body if he had been engaged in the salvation of angels, or anyone else without a physical body
But he was, instead, engaged in the salvation of humanity, which required him to be equally human.