Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hebrews - Ch. 2 (Study Guide - Unit 3)

The First Warning (Ch. 2:1-4)

  • Chapter 2 opens with the first of five key warnings from 'the Preacher' to his congregants

  • Pay attention to what you have heard lest you drift away from your new found faith and it's great promise of salvation.

  • 'the Preacher' knows the issue isn't lack of knowledge. Congregants know the story. What is lacking is faith. Daily troubles of life have weakened there faith. "How can they go on believing what is preached when everything around them seems to deny it?" (Long, p. 29)

  • 'the Preacher' strives to rebuild their faith by acting as a good defense attorney and presenting legal precedence followed by witnesses.
  • Legal Precedents - validity of the OT law (Torah). Validity confirmed by known cause and effect. Whenever law was broken they received a just penalty.
  • Now having proven validity of OT law, 'the Preacher' goes on to show how much more is the new 'law' of the gospel - the message of salvation in the Son, valid and true.
  • Calls forth 3 witnesses in support of the validity of the 'law' of the gospel

(1) Jesus himself first proclaimed the gospel message

(2) Jesus message corroborated by first-hand hearers and followers

(3) God himself provides evidence through "signs and wonders and various

miracles" (Johnson, p.19)

  • Finally Holy Spirit guarantees validity of the gospel by giving spiritual gifts to the people of the church so they can proclaim it.

Jesus: For A Little While Lower than the Angels (Ch. 2:5-9)

  • Descending from the heights (2:5-8a)
  • 'the Preacher' uses Psalm 8 to make his point about Jesus coming to earth as a man and thus temporarily being lower than the angels.
  • Psalm 8 originally only about humanity in general, has no messianic meaning
  • However, 'the Preacher' uses it instead to make a statement about one human being in particular, i.e., Jesus.

  • See Jesus, hearing the gospel (2:8b-9)
  • People saw Jesus while he was here on earth
  • Now must have faith and believe in his gospel and its message of redemption and resurrection and Jesus returning to heaven to sit at the right hand of God as Lord of all

Pioneer and Priest (Ch. 2:10-18)

  • 'the Preacher' uses three overlapping images to portray Jesus

(1) Pioneer / Hero

(2) Liberator

(3) High Priest

  • Pioneer / Hero - "archegos" (greek) - In its simplest form means head or chief. "An archegos is someone who begins something in order that others may enter into it." (Barclay, p.31)
  • Same word is also used to describe Jesus in Acts 3:15 and 5:31. Also used again in Hebrews 12:2.
  • Liberator - "Jesus broke through the gates of death, destroyed the Commandant of Death (the devil), and liberated those imprisoned in fear (2:14-15)" (Long, p39)
  • How was Jesus enabled to take on this role? The greek word 'the Preacher' uses to explain this is "teleioun", which means to make perfect.
  • However, we must be careful to understand what is being said here. Jesus was human, yet devine, thus he was already 'perfect'. Barclay believe what 'the Preacher' is saying here is that "...through suffering, Jesus was made fully able to complete the task of being the pioneer of our salvation." (Barclay, p. 32).

(1) Through His suffering Jesus identified Himself with us.

(2) He can sympathize with us.

  • High Priest - Jesus described as the high priest, who liked the high priests of old, has made a sacrifice in attonement for our sins.
  • Image of high priest used later by 'the Preacher' in his sermon. Provides the central focus of discussion in 4:14 - 10:25.


Barclay, William. The New Daily Study Bible – The Letter to the Hebrews. London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002Harrison, Everett F. The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962Johnson, Earl S. Jr. Hebrews, Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2008Long, Thomas G. Hebrews, Interpretation – A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997

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