Lesson 6: "The Captain of. . .[Our] Salvation" (Hebrews 2:10)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome again! This is lesson # 6, beginning in v.5 of chapter two. In this lesson we would like to deal with the rest of chapter two (beginning in v.5). As redundant as it may seem to you, I urge you and invite you to review the first chapter and the first four verses of chapter two once again, get it fresh in your find, before delving into v.5-18 that's before us. In the verses we've covered, I think it is fair to say: the emphasis was upon the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the passage we are approaching (v.5-18), the writer endeavors to turn the coin over and show the other side of Christ, i.e. the human side. Now, in doing so, i.e. relating to us the human side of Christ Jesus and in correlating it to us, the writer uses some wording that seems a little strange to us and it is easy to start focusing on the trees and lose sight of the forest, so-to-speak. The Hebrews writer more or less wanders the length and breadth of the Old Testament in these verses by snatching an abundance of quotational excerpts from here and there and by appealing to their implications. Let's read these verses and then we'll come back for a verse by verse review.
Beginning in 2:5, let's read. Are you ready? Here we go. "For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."
O.K., let's go back and try to analyze, verse by verse. First off, notice that v.5 is a declarative sentence. It's easy to read this sentence as a question; but, it's not a question. The sentence says God DID NOT put the world to come in subjection to angels. And this is the subject under consideration, the writer declares this by the words: "whereof we speak." Thus, we are considering here: "the world to come." Now, the big question comes in determining exactly what the writer means by the phrase: "the world to come." Whatever it means, the angels DO NOT have control of it, the angels are not in charge of it, that's said very definitely, very clearly. Now, it seems some people can take a handful of straw and make a bale of hay out of it. There is a common doctrine in our world today, erroneous doctrine I should say right up front, called Premillennialism. The reason I confidently say it is an erroneous doctrine is: it's simply not taught in the Bible. Needless to say, this is one of their proof texts, i.e. they appeal to this verse (Heb. 2:5) over and over, claiming it refers to a thousand year reign in which they say, Jesus will come back before the thousand years starts and reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years. During that thousand year period, according to their theory, this earth will be renovated and perfected to the point it will literally be a NEW EARTH. They think this is the NEW EARTH that the apostle John saw (in Rev. 21:1), in other words, the final home of God's saints. Now, I don't want to get side-tracked here; but, perhaps I should point out that almost every denomination around us (and there are literally hundreds of them), all snatch a little of this premillennial straw that has been manufactured over the years and build it into their doctrinal nest. They concoct their own doctrine, usually in a general conference once every two or three years where all their leaders come together and hammer it out to suit them. Of course, that's what makes them a denomination. They don't follow the Bible. They pick and choose their doctrine and call it what they like. They name themselves (whatever they like, this name or that name, it's their name...the way they look at it). That's really what the word denominate means. AND, they don't even blush when they say it. If they don't like a doctrine, or they get tired of it, they change it. Now, of course as a camouflage, they usually pick out some vague Bible verse and claim this justifies their doctrinal change. They'll try to make you think it all comes right out of the Bible. They are deceptive in this way. However, context doesn't mean much to them. But, my friend if you are going to learn what the Bible teaches, (really lean it!) you must remember: context, context, context! I.e. the environmental and surrounding background and backdrop setting of a passage gives meaning to every word or phrase used in that setting. And, that's the hard part. In other words, you must digest a paragraph at a time (or a chapter at a time) instead of phrase by phrase. So, look at the forest! Don't get hung-up on a few strange shrubs. And while I'm at this point, perhaps I should confess to those of you who at my recommendation are reading Milligan's book, the commentary I told you about in our introduction: Mr. Milligan leans a little premillennial in my humble opinion. And, to be absolutely fair though, you must remember that Robert Milligan did not write his book in the same context in which we read it; because, much of the world's premillennial doctrine today has been invented, manufactured and resurrected since the days of Robert Milligan. I do not say that to justify any comments Milligan makes. You must read and decide for yourself.
Well, let's get back to Heb. 2:5, and the phrase: "the world to come." What did the writer mean? The question is NOT what it means to you. NOT what it could mean; but, what DID the WRITER mean? What does the context demand? Now, I must tell you very frankly, the passage seems (at first glance) to refer to the next world or the next age, i.e. heaven. And heaven is truly a world to come. However, what did THE Hebrew writer mean when he wrote this phrase and this passage? O.K., well, if the angels are not in charge of this "world to come" who is in charge? Down in v,8, the writer said, "Thou hast put all things in subjection under..." Under what? Here is that subjection idea again. It includes things "whereof we speak" (end of v.5). If we read carefully, down the page, the context is very clear, that God has put all in subjection to man. "He left nothing that is not put under him" (middle of v.8). Now, how could that be? What has God put in subjection to man? Well, the writer quoted (in v.6), Psalm 8:4ff, David in his awe, asked the question: "What I man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 0 Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" (exclamation mark!).David marveled that man is so exalted by the God of heaven. And, notice that David used the words "dominion over" instead of the words "in subjection [to]" that the Hebrews writer used, meaning the same thing, of course. So, whatever the writer meant in v.5, the same thought is suggested and referenced (in v.6V Thus, v.6-7-8 is a mere re-statement of verse five. (Please don't let me interrupt your thought; but, do you remember anybody's writing that used that technique?...before? just a hint!) God gave Adam and Eve full charge to dress and care for the garden. Because of sin, that system was changed and death was brought upon all men (Rom. 5:12); but, that dominion of God's creation as recorded in Gen. 1:26, AND made by Jesus incidentally (Heb. 1:2), was subjected to man and God still continues this dominion entrusted to us mortals, not angels. You can kill a snake, you can cage a canary, you can eat a cow, ruin your environment, turn trees into a houses; you are in charge. Mankind is in charge of these things (God's creation)...not the angels. And, guess what, that system CONTINUES, "whereof we speak" (v.5). Part of it is still future and it extends into this age in which God has spoken by WHO? His son, Jesus Christ, that the Jewish Christians of the first century were forgetting, ignoring, and neglecting. So, would it be improper for the Hebrews writer to speak of this remaining part as "the world to come?" Don't read into it! Read out of it!
However, the writer does not forget his theme, so in the last sentence of v.8, he moves back to the contrast: "But now we see not yet all things put under him." The writer comes back to his theme: "lest at any time we should let them slip" (Heb. 2:1, remember?). You see, there is & divine side of Jesus and there is/was a human side of Jesus. Mankind has physical needs, supplied by God's physical creation. However, mankind also has a spiritual side and thus spiritual needs also. This spiritual aspect of man is just as important, if not more so, than our human physical side. After the time of Adam and Even, what mankind was not capable of doing; God done for man. How, did God do it? He done it by a man, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Thus, the salvation aspect that was lost in Adam and Eve, relinquished to Satan, death came upon all men, God sent his Son, translated into a man (John 1:1) to recapture it. It was NOT done by the angels...it was done by a man, the man Jesus of Nazareth. God entrusted even this work, this great work of conquering Satan to a man. Oh! Jesus was divine; but, he was also a man... human. From this point in the writer's sermon (down through the end of this chapter and beyond), the writer focuses upon the human side of Jesus the Christ, God's son. The "world to come" (v.5), whatever we have left is still not subjected to angels. Salvation through Christianity is taught by God's word, the Bible, and administered in this world by men. Jesus has gone back to sit on the right hand of God (Heb. 1:13) until God makes all enemies "thy footstool" (another quote from Psalm 110:1).
Now, as I have said, v.9 down thru v.18 is a discussion of the human side of Jesus. Jesus was made lower than the angels when he was as God translated into Jesus of Nazareth. He (in his human body) suffered death, tasted death for every man (v.9). He brought many sons to glory (v.10), (this is equivalent to what is said in Luke 19:10). Thus, Jesus is the captain, or author (some use the word "leader") of our salvation. It is important that a leader, a prince or a pioneer be disciplined and experienced for their endeavor. God provided this human experience in Jesus. Through the things Jesus suffered, he learned obedience (Heb. 5:8). Through Jesus' suffering he is personally (in a human sense) aware of anything we might face in the way of pain, suffering, hunger, you name it: he has experienced it. His death, burial and resurrection on that cruel cross is the gospel (I-Cor. 15:1-3). We must re-enact Jesus' death, burial and resurrection by faith, repentance, confession and baptism (Rom. 6:4) and live the Christian life to obey the gospel (II-Thes. 1:8). Jesus „. Christ and the heavenly Father are at one with all who obey the gospel (this is the thought here in a,. v.11). Those sanctified are those who obey the gospel. The Lord adds them to his church (Acts 2:47). Our Lord meets with us in worship (Luke 22:16), sings praises and communes (I-Cor. 10:16-17) with his saints. In this way, Jesus destroyed the power of death, i.e. the hold that the devil got back there at the time of Adam and Eve (Rom. 5:12). That is what is said here, (look at the end of v.14 here in Heb. ch. 2). Not only did Jesus die for those of us in the Christian age, Jesus also died for those who lived in the ages before Jesus. The writer eventually gets back to this point; it will be re-said. We are and they were literally slaves to death in this life, all their life.
Now, in conclusion, (v.16-17-18), i.e. the writer re-states AGAIN his point one more time. (And, again, I ask you: does this sound like any writer you have studied before?) Put your eyes on v.16! Jesus did not come as an angel! Jesus came as a man, a human being, a Jew, and lived as a humble citizen of that hillside town called Nazareth in Galilee. He walked the dusty roads of Palestine and experience humanity just as much as any man. As the captain of our salvation, "it behooved him" (first part of v.17, do you see that?) "to be made like unto his brethren..." Why? "That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God..." Before, i.e. further up the page, he was called "the captain of our salvation." Now, he is referred to as a high priest "in things pertaining to God." Can you see by his terminology? the writer is slowly closing in on those Christians in and around Jerusalem in the first century who were of the notion they would like to go back to the old system, the temple, having animal sacrifices and priests and a high priest, (etc.)? This Jesus has more to offer than any high priest, this Jesus can "make reconciliation for the sins of the people" once and for all (end of v.17). Jesus the Christ is more merciful and more faithful than any high priest, "for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." The word succor" is an old English word meaning to give instant or quick first aid, maybe like reaching out and steadying a person who is about to fall or even in the process of falling. It shows that Jesus, our high priest, has feeling and concern for us. Why? Because he has been tempted. He was tempted of Satan 40 days in the wilderness (beginning of Matt. ch. 4 & Luke ch. 4). He fasted 40 days. Jesus knows what it is to suffer. Jesus was divine; but, he was also a man and knew the human side. We'll start here next time. Have a good day.