3/07/16 Hebrews 2:1-9 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let {them} slip.


So far the writer has established some impressive credentials for Jesus, Son of God, to speak, not only on behalf of God, but as God! So this chapter begins with an admonishment to take earnest heed to what we have heard through Jesus who is Son of God. “Therefore” means “as a consequence of what you have been told”.


the more earnest – more; that is, meaning to a greater degree; especially; above others. It is a term of comparison, such that it emphasises a greater amount or degree than that with which it is compared. Note the words “the more exceedingly” and “the more abundantly” below.

Mark 15:13-1413 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 Then Pilate said unto them, “Why, what evil hath he done?” And they cried out the more exceedingly, “Crucify him.”

2 Corinthians 12:15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.


Thus it isn’t just to pay attention, but to pay more (much more) attention to what has been said. It isn’t saying to merely heed what’s been said but to greatly increase our level of heeding. And why should we greatly increase our earnest heed to the things that have been said? Answer – “lest at any time we should let {them} slip.

let {them} slip – pass us by; that which escapes my attention; slips my mind; that is … lest the salvation which these things we have heard show us how to obtain, slips away from us. It has the idea of a boat drifting away or past while we are not watching, or a prisoner who slips away because we haven’t been watching carefully enough. Or something that slips out of our hands and falls, through inattention.


Today’s passage is all about that which is more essential to our well-being and future than anything else we could ever possibly need. It’s like buying a car; without fuel it can do nothing. You can hitch up a horse to the car and it might go, but why not just ride the horse? If you buy a car but vow to never buy any fuel for it, then what’s the point of it all? So it is with us: without salvation there is no escape from the torment of eternal death. No matter what you might want out of life, without salvation it is nothing. And what if you have salvation but somehow don’t think of it as important enough to match the attractions of the world? Could you somehow let your salvation slip through inattention to its value? See Vs 3 for further comments.


Paul clearly knew that without Christ in his life, he had literally nothing.

Acts 20:24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Philippians 3:8Yea doubtless, and I count all things {but} loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them {but} dung, that I may win Christ,

(Also note 1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

Even Jesus taught that without Him we could do nothing (of value, that is).

John 15:5bfor without Me ye can do nothing.


We must be prepared to give all else away for the sake of Christ and our salvation.

Matthew 13:44-4644 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.


So don’t let your opportunity for salvation come and go without doing something about it – see Vs 3!


Hebrews 2:2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;


It was generally believed by the Jews that God’s revelations came through angels.

Revelation 1:1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified {it} by His angel unto his servant John:


It was also through angels that the messages were sent to the seven churches in Revelation Ch 2 – Ch 3. Angels spoke directly to John in many places. For example:

Revelation 11:1And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, “Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”

Revelation 14:6-76 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Revelation 17:1-21 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, “Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”


This word of angels (as in other places) had proved steadfast (firm; reliable; consistent; able to be trusted). In particular, every wrong-doing and disobedience spoken of by angels was consistently punished. They were, after all, the ministers (servants) of God. If a person sinned, his guilt was upon him as a matter of certainty.

Numbers 15:31bhis iniquity {shall be} upon him.

There was no getting away with even the slightest crime without receiving justice.


Hebrews 2:3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard {Him};


If the word spoken by angels brought sure and certain justice, then how much more the certainty when spoken by the Lord! If we couldn’t escape when angels delivered the judgment, then even less so when God delivers the judgment!


neglect – to be careless of; make light of; neglect. In other words, we should take it seriously. It’s no laughing matter, as the saying goes.


confirmed – established, by those who had experienced it. That is, those who knew what they were talking about because they were eye-witnesses; they were there!

2 Peter 1:16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

Hebrews 4:11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

unbelief (Hebrews 4:11) – (obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will) translated “unbelief” 4 times, “disobedient” 3 times.


Note that neglect itself is sufficient to condemn to the uttermost – how indeed shall we escape? As it is said of the road rules: ignorance is no excuse!

Also note the word “neglect”: the main area of neglect is of those things we are responsible for. (Eg. neglecting our responsibility) As we read further through Hebrews we’ll see that a lot of emphasis is placed upon holding onto or holding fast to the things of our salvation (Eg. Hebrews 3:6, 14;  4:14; 6:18; 10:23) and labouring to enter our rest (Hebrews 4:11) and so on. We cannot ignore the context here in Vs 1-3 that “neglect” in Vs 3 may also refer to those who let their salvation slip away through inattention to responsibility.


Hebrews 2:4God also bearing {them} witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?


bearing witness – attest together with; to join in bearing witness; to unite in adding testimony. God attested to the authenticity of the disciples’ message through signs (usually something that demonstrated that a prophet was indeed speaking God’s word) and wonders (portent – a sign or warning that a momentous or calamitous event was likely to happen) and especially miracles (translated as “power/s” in most places) and the giftings of the Holy Spirit (eg tongues, healing etc.)

1 Corinthians 12:7; 117 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. ……. 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.


miraclesdunamis or dynamis (generally translated “power” and could represent the power for performing miracles) Another word semeion was used in the N.T. for actual signs and miracles, but dunamis was more used to describe the power of miracles.


Paul taught that the apostles were given these signs and wonders and mighty deeds:

2 Corinthians 12:12Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds (dunamis).

And all was according to the will of God. That is, nothing of this was ever outside the will of God but had the full support of God’s will. Thus, it is also fully backed up by God’s judgments and consequences. Therefore do not trifle with this!


Hebrews 2:5For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.


The writer continues with the superiority (“better”) of Jesus who is God. For even though angels might be powerful and well-able under God’s direction to rule the world, God has not put the world (here it is oikoumene – the inhabited world, the world of men, rather than kosmos – the world or world system)


The “world to come” could mean the world after this current world is destroyed, or the Messianic reign of Christ, or this current dispensation (see Hebrews 1:2). In this context “of which we speak”, it would seem most likely to refer to this current dispensation at the time Hebrews was written. That is, the world where the church has taken over the role of Israel until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Romans 11:25). This dispensation would therefore be subject to the authority of Christ, rather than angels.


Also note “the world to come”, using a different Greek for “world”, in Hebrews 6:5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world (aion) to come,


Hebrews 2:6-8a6 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? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: 8a Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.”


(from Psalm 8:4-6) It is probably referring to David although the wording suggests more that “it has been stated somewhere”, a certain placepou (where? in what place?)


The Psalm is probably not directly messianic, yet it appears to have a double level of meaning, where Jesus the Messiah is the most complete fulfilment of this in His incarnate (human) form. (Although some commentaries suggest that this is speaking directly about the Messiah, the general view appears to be that it is only Messianic through the taking of the form of a man by the Messiah.)


Barnes says – The same question would not have been inappropriate to David, if the Psalm be supposed to have had reference originally to the Messiah, and if he was speaking of himself particularly as the ancestor of the Messiah. "What is man; what am I; what can any of my descendants be, who must be of mortal frame, that this dominion should be given him?  Why should any of a race so feeble, so ignorant, so imperfect, be exalted to such honour?" We may ask the question here, and it may be asked in heaven with pertinency and with power, "Why was man so honoured, as to be united to the Godhead? Why did the Deity appear in the human form? What was there in man that should entitle him to this honour of being united to the Divinity, and of being thus exalted above the angels?" The wonder is not yet solved; and we may well suppose that the angelic ranks look with amazement – but without envy – on the fact, that man, by his union with the Deity in the person of the Lord Jesus, has been raised above them in rank and in glory.


The term “son of man” can be used of Jesus; He even used it of Himself many times.

Luke 19:10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Because the quoted Psalm refers to the elevation of man (human nature), it is likely that the Son of man (Christ) was the ultimate elevation of this term in Scripture. But in the end it is still a statement that in context appears to follow on from

Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?


Thus while the Psalm appears to wonder about the honour given to man by God, the writer to the Hebrews appears to be considering the honour to man because of the One who came in human form to bring salvation to all mankind (if only they would accept the sacrifice). While man was made a little lower (inferior) to the angels, yet he has been elevated to a higher position than them. He has been crowned with glory and honour because of the glory and honour of the One who was first-born from the dead. Man, that inferior creature, has now been united to the Godhead through the Messiah who came as a man to redeem mankind. Man is associated with Christ the Messiah, and even though the angels are more powerful and capable than man, yet man is nevertheless placed above them because we are joint-heirs with the One who will inherit the kingdom of the Father. All things are put in subjection under man’s feet, yet not of himself but only because of the imputed authority that was first claimed by Jesus:-   

Matthew 28:18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”


Note that the following verse does state that the placing of all things under His feet is directly applicable to Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:24-2524 Then {cometh} the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.


Hebrews 2:8b – 8b 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.


The Psalm says that man has had all things made subject to him. Note the following:

Genesis 1:28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”


This dominion of man over the earth has never yet been rescinded, so is still applicable, which is why satan and his demons must work through man in order to have control – they do not have any right in themselves to have anything to do with dominion over anything on the earth unless it be through mankind! That is, mankind was supposed to have dominion over all the earth, with everything subject to his authority; there was nothing that was not put under him! However, with the fall of Adam, this was no longer absolute dominion; man had dominion which was now under the control of satan and his demons.

1 John 5:19{And} we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.


Jesus also called satan the prince of this world (kosmos – “world”) (John 16:11), and Paul called him the god of this world (aion – which can be translated as “age”) (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus, while man was given this dominion over all the earth, man has also handed that dominion over to satan who now has effective dominion over all the earth as regent who rules on behalf of mankind. In other words, we do not yet see all things put under man because of the dominion man effectively handed to satan and his demons.


But one day the whole earth will be in subjection to man through God who came as the Man Jesus; then man will finally have dominion, for all eternity, as joint-heirs (Romans 8:16-17) and rulers with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12)! It hasn’t happened yet, but it will – 1 Corinthians 15:24-25 (see above) – “Then {cometh} the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God …..


Hebrews 2:9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.


Jesus was, as man, made a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8) in order to suffer death for all mankind. God cannot die, but God who has become man can and does die for His creation, man. Thus Jesus is crowned with glory and honour because He achieved what He was sent to do: to die for the sins of all mankind, and that God the Father would, by His grace and mercy, offer this as a gift to all who would call on the name of the Lord.


Philippians 2:5-115 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of {things} in heaven, and {things} in earth, and {things} under the earth; 11 And {that} every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ {is} Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 John 2:1-21 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for {the sins of} the whole world.

Romans 5:18Therefore as by the offence of one {judgment came} upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one {the free gift came} upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 10:13For “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


every man – Note carefully: 1/. In 1 John 2:1-2, John is writing to all those who have an Advocate with the Father, that is, all those who will believe.

1 John 2:1-21 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

Note the words “we”, “our”, “ours”. They all apply to the same group of people, clearly those who are believers, which means that “also for the sins of the whole world” must apply to those who are not believers. Yet calvinists prefer to teach that the smaller group is just those to whom John is writing, and that the “whole world” refers to all the other believers from all the world who are not part of the group John is writing to (Piper subscribes to this view), or that it was just Jewish Christians that John was writing to, so the “whole world” refers to those Christians who weren’t Jews (MacArthur subscribes to this view).


PiperThe “whole world” refers to the children of God scattered throughout the whole world. (John Piper “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism” Revised March 1998)
This has apparently been reviewed and changed in his 2014 revision, but still appears as above in
“For Whom Did Christ Die? & What Did Christ Actually Achieve on the Cross for Those for Whom He Died?”   By John Piper https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/piper_atonement.html


MacArthur – So, we look at the term “world” and we always qualify it.  There’s another passage – two more – that need our brief attention.  I’m just going to comment briefly.  First John 2.  First John 2.  “Jesus Christ the righteous – ” verse 1.  Verse 2.  “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  What is that saying?  That “He is a propitiation not only for our sins – ” again this is very Jewish in its context “ – but for the whole world.”  It’s making the same point that John made over and over and over again, the same point that they made in the book of Acts, the same point that Paul makes in Romans 11:  That the gospel is not limited to the Jews.


For, if it were just the Jewish Christians (or just a small group of believers) that John meant by “our” & “ours”, then it’s also only the Jewish Christians who are the ones (“we”) who have an Advocate with the Father! Calvinists therefore would have to teach that the Advocate is only for Jewish Christians, and not for the Christian church in general. So when is the last time you heard a preacher (even a calvinist one!) teach that the Advocate was only for the Jewish Christians that John was writing to? Thus the context has to mean that “we”, “our” and “ours” all apply to Christian believers in general and thus the sins of the whole world (kosmos – 1 John 2:2) cannot mean believers at all, but instead all those who are not believers! When MacArthur claims that the sins of “the whole world” (kosmos) applies to only believers, then it makes nonsense of the context preceding this. If only people would test all things!


Note the following from “One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus” excerpts from Pages 509 & 510 – By John MacArthur.
And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. …..”
FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. Christ actually paid the penalty only for those who would repent and believe.


Add many other proofs from 1 John of what the “world” (kosmos) means, such as “Love not the world, neither the things {that are} in the world.” (1 John 2:15); “therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1); “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13); “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4); “God sent his only begotten Son into the world” (1 John 4:9); “the Father sent the Son {to be} the Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14); “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, {even} our faith.” (1 John 5:4); “{And} we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19)


There are even more times the word “kosmos” = “world” is used in 1 John, but this is more than sufficient to demonstrate that “world” in 1 John 2:2 cannot mean believers only unless specified clearly, which it most certainly isn’t. Note “whole world” is used in both 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 5:19, where the only logically consistent interpretation has to be the world of all people, and not just a group called “believers”.


2/. MacArthur also has a problem with Hebrews 2:9, where it says clearly that Jesus tasted death for everyone. Because MacArthur cannot bear the truth to be known, he has to write in his study Bible words that mean the following: taste death for everyone. Everyone who believes, that is. However, nothing in the context says (or even slightly implies) that this tasting was only for believers. The word “taste” is geuomai can mean “to taste” or “to try the flavour of” but it can also mean “partake of”, “to take food”, “eat”, or “to take nourishment”. It is present in the N.T. 15 times and in the KJV is translated 12 times as “taste” and 3 times as “eat”.
Acts 20:11When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

MacArthur also clearly defines his views on the atonement, views which can be considered blasphemy to those who consider the absolute truth of the Bible.
God did not intend to save everyone. He is God. He could have intended to save everyone. He could have saved everyone. He would have if that had been His intention. The atonement is limited.


In Hebrews 2, mankind is discussed as a general group, that is, mankind, those who are descended from Adam, in fact (some of whom will be of those who will rule with Christ as joint-heirs of salvation, but the promise of Psalm 8 was to all mankind). There is nothing in the context that limits it to only a select (elect) few. Nor is there any inconsistency with the rest of the Bible to accept this as meaning all men.
1 Timothy 2:3-43 For this {is} good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.


I did read recently that calvinists still define this “all” as meaning only the elect (they have to or else their house of cards comes tumbling down) but cannot understand how they can even consider such a suggestion!
But any Bible student will soon discover there are verses which say God wants all men to be saved. For example, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” (1 Tim. 2:3-4, NIV). The question, then, is if God predestines only some to salvation, why are there verses that say God wants all to be saved?
The answer is simple: The “all” are the Christians.


I’d laugh if only it weren’t so serious!


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