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Barnes' New Testament Notes
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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 2 - Verse 1

 

HEBREWS

 

CHAPTER II.

 

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.

THE main object of this chapter is to show that we should attend diligently to the things which were spoken by the Lord Jesus, and not suffer them to glide away from us. The apostle seems to have supposed, that some might be inclined to disregard what was spoken by one of so humble appearance as the Lord Jesus; and that they would urge that the Old Testament had been given by the interposition of angels, and was therefore more worthy of attention. To meet this, he shows that important objects were accomplished by his becoming a man; and that, even as a man, power and dignity shall been conferred on him, superior to that of the angels. In illustration of these points, the chapter contains the following subjects:—

(1.) An exhortation not to suffer the things which had been spoken to slip from the mind—or, in other words, to attend to them diligently and carefully. The argument is, that if what was spoken by the angels under the old dispensation claimed attention, much more should that be regarded which was spoken by the Son of God, Heb 2:1-4.

(2.) Jesus had been honoured, as incarnate, in such a way as to show that he had a right to be heard, and that what he said should receive the profound attention of men, Heb 2:5-9. The World to come had not been put under the angels, as it had been under him, (Heb 2:5;) the general principle had been stated in the Scriptures, that all things were put under man (Heb 2:6,7,) but this was fulfilled only in the Lord Jesus, who had been made a little lower than the angels, and, when so made, crowned with glory and honour, Heb 2:9. His appearance as a man, therefore, was in no way inconsistent with what had been said of his dignity, or his claim to be heard.

(3.) The apostle then proceeds to show why he became a man, and why, though he was so exalted, he was subjected to so severe sufferings; and with this the chapter closes, Heb 2:10-18. It was because this was proper, from the relation which he sustained to man., The argument is, that the Redeemer and his people were identified; that he did not come to save angels, and that, therefore, there was a propriety in his assuming the nature of man, and being subjected to trials like those whom he came to save. In all things it behoved him to be made like his brethren, in order to redeem them, and in order to set them an example, and show them how to suffer. The humiliation, therefore, of the Redeemer—the fact that he appeared as a man, and that he was a sufferer—so far from being a reason why he should not be heard, was rather an additional reason why we should attend to what he said. He had a claim to the right of being heard, not only from his original dignity, but from the friendship which he has evinced for us in taking upon himself our nature, and suffering in our behalf.

Verse 1. Therefore. Gr. "On account of this" dia touto that is, on account of the exalted dignity and rank of the Messiah, as stated in the previous chapter. The sense is, "Since Christ, the Author of the new dispensation, is so far exalted above the prophets, and even the angels, we ought to give the more earnest attention to all that has been Spoken."

We ought. It is fit or proper that we should attend to those things. When the Son of God speaks to men, every consideration makes it appropriate that we should attend to what is spoken.

To give the more earnest heed. To give the more strict attention.

To the things which we have heard. Whether directly from the Lord Jesus, or from his apostles. It is possible, that some of those to whom the apostle was writing had heard the Lord Jesus himself preach the gospel; others had heard the same truths declared by the apostles.

Lest at any time. We ought to attend to those things at all times. We ought never to forget them; never to be indifferent to them. We are sometimes interested in them, and then we feel indifferent to them; sometimes at leisure to attend to them, and then the cares of the worlds, or a heaviness and dulness of mind, or a cold and languid state of the affections, renders us indifferent to them and they are suffered to pass out of the mind without concern. Paul says, that this ought never to be done! At no time should we be indifferent to those things. They are always important to us, and we should never be in a state of mind when they would be uninteresting. At all times; in all places; and in every situation of life, we should feel that the truths of religion are of more importance to us than all other truths, and nothing should be suffered to efface their image from the heart.

We should let them slip. Marg, Run out as leaking vessels. Tindal renders this, "lest we be split." The expression here has given rise to much discussion as to its meaning; and has been very differently translated. Doddridge renders it, "lest we let them flow out of our minds." Prof. Stuart, "lest at any time we should slight them." Whitby, "that they may not entirely slip out of our memories." The word here used pararrew —occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The Septuagint translators have used the word but once. Pr 3:21, "Son, do not pass by, mh pararruhv but keep my counsel;" that is, do not pass by my advice by neglect, or suffer it to be disregarded. The word means, according to Passow, to flow by, to flow over; and then, to go by, to fall, to flow away. It is used to mean, to flow near, to flow by—as of a river; to glide away, to escape—as from the mind, i.e. to forget; and to glide along—as a thief does by stealth. See Robinson's Lex. The Syriac and Arabic translators have rendered it, that we may not fall. After all that has been said on the meaning of the word here, (compare Stuart, in loc.,) it seems to me, that the true sense of the expression is that of flowing or gliding by—as a river; and that the meaning here is, that we should be very cautious that the important truths spoken by the Redeemer and his apostles should not be suffered to glide by us without attention, or without profit. We should not allow them to be like a stream that glides on by us without benefiting us; that is, we should endeavour to secure and retain them as our own. The truth taught is, that there is great danger, now that the true system of religion has been revealed, that it will not profit us, but that we shall lose all the benefit of it. This danger may arise from many sources—some of which are the following:—

(1.) We may not feel that the truths revealed are important; and before their importance is felt, they may be beyond our reach. So we are often deceived in regard to the importance of objects; and before we perceive their value, they are irrecoverably gone. So it is often with time, and with the opportunities of obtaining an education, or of accomplishing any object which is of value. The opportunity is gone before we perceive its importance. So the young suffer the most important period of life to glide away before they perceive its value; and the opportunity of making much of their talents is lost, because they did not embrace the suitable opportunities.

(2.) By being engrossed in business. We feel that that is now the most important thing. That claims all our attention. We have no time to pray, to read the Bible, to think of religion, for the cares of the world engross all the time—and the opportunities of salvation glide insensibly away, until it is too late.

(3.) By being attracted by the pleasures of life. We attend to them now, and are drawn along from one to another, until religion is suffered to glide away with all its hopes and consolations; and we perceive, too late, that we have let the opportunity of salvation slip for ever. Allured by those pleasures, the young neglect it; and new pleasures, starting up in future life, carry on the delusion, until every favourable opportunity for salvation has passed away;

(4.) We suffer favourable opportunities to pass by without improving them. Youth is by far the best time, as it is the most appropriate time, to become a Christian—and yet how easy is it to allow that period to slip away, without becoming interested in the Saviour! One day glides on after another, and one week, one month, one year passes away after another—like a gently-flowing stream—until all the precious time of youth has gone, and we are not Christians. So a revival of religion is a favourable time—and yet many suffer this to pass by without becoming interested in it. Others are converted, and the heavenly influences descend all around us, but we are unaffected; and the season, so full of happy and heavenly influences, is gone, to return no more.

(5.) We let the favourable season slip, because we design to attend to it at some future period of life. So youth defers it to manhood—manhood to old age—old age to a death-bed, and then neglects it—until the whole of life has glided away, and the soul is not saved. Paul knew man. He knew how prone he was to let the things of religion slip out of the mind; and hence the earnestness of his caution that we should give heed to the subject now, lest the opportunity of salvation should soon glide away. When once passed, it can never be recalled. Learn hence,

(1.) The truths of religion will not benefit us, unless we give heed to them. It will not save us that the Lord Jesus has come and spoken to men, unless we are disposed to listen. It will not benefit us that the sun shines, unless we open our eyes. Books will not benefit us, unless we read them; medicine, unless we take it; nor will the fruits of the earth sustain our lives, however rich and abundant, they may be, if we disregard and neglect them. So with the truths of religion. There is truth enough to save the world—but the world disregards and despises it.

(2.) It needs not great sins to destroy the soul. Simple neglect will do it as certainly as atrocious crimes. Every man has a sinful heart that will destroy him, unless he makes an effort to be saved. And it is not merely the great sinner, therefore, who is in danger. It is the man who neglects his soul—whether a moral or an immoral man, a daughter of amiableness, or a daughter of vanity and vice.

{1} "let them slip" "run out, as leaking vessels"

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