CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Hebrews - Charles Swindoll - Chart on right
Hebrews 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: epei oun ta paidia kekoinoneken (3SRAI) aimatos kai sarkos, kai autos paraplesios metesxen (3SAAI) ton auton, hina dia tou thanatou katargese (3SAAS) ton to kratos echonta (PAPMSA) tou thanatou, tout' estin (3SPAI) ton diabolon,
Amplified: Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by [going through] death He might bring to nought and make of no effect him who had the power of death--that is, the devil-- (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: The children then have a common flesh and blood and he completely shared in them, so that, by that death of his, he might bring to nothing him who has the power of death, (Westminster Press)
NLT: Because God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Since, then, "the children" have a common physical nature as human beings, he also became a human being, so that by going through death as a man he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Therefore, since the children share in common with one another blood and flesh, He Himself also partook with them in the same, in order that through the aforementioned death He might bring to naught the one having the dominion of death, that is, the Devil.
Young's Literal: Seeing, then, the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself also in like manner did take part of the same, that through death he might destroy him having the power of death -- that is, the devil--
THEREFORE SINCE THE CHILDREN SHARE IN FLESH AND BLOOD: epei oun ta paidia kekoinoneken (3SRAI) haimatos kai sarkos:
- He 2:10
- flesh: 1Co 15:50
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Therefore - term of conclusion. In Heb 2:13 he has just described the "children whom God has given" to Jesus, which therefore must refer to believers, and so "children of God" (cp Jn 1:12, 13, 1Jn 3:1-note, 1Jn 3:9,10). The idea of the therefore is that since His children are human, Jesus had to become human in order to be their Redeemer and to accomplish the cutting of the New Covenant in His blood (1Pe 1:18, 19-note)
Children (3813) (paidion from diminutive of país = child) refers literally to a child or children recently born. Here it is a figurative endearing appellation for the followers of Christ, human beings who are the subjects of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Spurgeon - I cannot help drawing your attention to those two words: “the children.” Hear that sweet expression again, for it is one of the choicest descriptions of the saints: “the children.” “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26). What a wonderful influence the children have in the house! How many of the arrangements are made especially with a view to them! How much of the wear and tear of life to their parents is for their sakes! And we may truly say concerning our Father in heaven that His plans, His arrangements, His actions, His gifts are very emphatically for the children.
Share (2841) (koinoneo [word study] from koinos = common, shared by all) means to have a share in common with someone else. The idea is to share one's possessions with the implication of some kind of joint participation and mutual interest. The human race has in common flesh and blood.
Koinoneo - 8x in 8v in NAS = Rom 12:13; 15:27; Gal 6:6; Phil 4:15; 1 Tim 5:22; Heb 2:14; 1 Pet 4:13; 2 John 1:11
Spurgeon - As you know to your cost, for perhaps you have aches and pains about you at this very moment. Verily, you are “partakers of flesh and blood.” Perhaps you are suffering from despondency and depression of spirit. If so, that reminds you that, however much you may, in spirit, sometimes soar to heaven, yet you are still “partakers of flesh and blood.” As you know to your cost, for perhaps you have aches and pains about you at this very moment. We know what it is to be partakers of flesh and blood; we often wish that we did not. It is the flesh that drags us down; it is the flesh that brings us a thousand sorrows. I have a converted soul, but an unconverted body. Christ has healed my soul, but He has left my body still to a large extent in bondage, and therefore it has still to suffer; but the Lord will redeem even that. The redemption of the body is the adoption, and that is to come at the day of the resurrection.
Flesh and blood -- The order in the Greek text is “blood and flesh.” In the rabbinical writers, this was a technical phrase speaking of human nature in contrast with God. Jesus set aside the outward display of His deity and veiled His Godhead in a “robe of clay.” But He did not stop at Bethlehem. “All the way to Calvary He went for me because He loved me so.”
Flesh (4561) (sarx) in this context refers to the covering of a living creature and thus describes physical human beings. Note that "flesh" is one of those words that one must be careful to interpret because it has a wide range of meanings depending on the context (See word study)
Blood (129) (haima) is the fluid with its constituents (red blood cells, etc) that forms the basis for life by transporting oxygen from the lungs to all the body parts. Without blood there is no life.
Regarding the spiritual significance of the blood Moses records that…
the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement… as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, 'You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.' (Leviticus 17:11, 14)
The angels fell, and remained without hope or help. Christ never designed to be the Saviour of the fallen angels. Therefore He did not take their nature; and the nature of angels could not be an atoning sacrifice for the sin of man. Here is a price paid, enough for all, and suitable to all, for it was in our nature. Here the wonderful love of God appeared, that, when Christ knew what he must suffer in our nature, and how he must die in it, yet he readily took it upon Himself.
This atonement made way for God's people's to be delivered from Satan's bondage, and to provide the ransom payment for the pardon of their sins which became effective through personal belief in these truths. In light of the truth in this passage, believers who dread death, and strive to get the better of their terrors, need no longer attempt to outbrave or to stifle them.
HE HIMSELF LIKEWISE ALSO PARTOOK OF THE SAME: kai autos paraplesios meteschen (3SAAI) ton auton:
- He 2:18 4:15 Ge 3:15 Isa 7:14 Jn 1:14 Ro 8:3 Ga 4:4 Php 2:7,8 1Ti 3:16,
- he through, He 9:15 Isa 53:12 Jn 12:24,31, 32, 33 Ro 14:9 Col 2:15 Rev 1:18
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Christ’s great mission was not to save angels, but to save men. Therefore he came not in the nature of angels, but in the nature of men.
He so took upon his flesh and blood as to die in our nature, that thus he might slay death, and might set us free from all fear of death. Do you not see that, if the representative Man, Christ Jesus, died, he also rose again, and that so also will all who are in him rise, too? If you are in him, you shall rise again. Therefore, fear not to lie down in your last sleep, for the trumpet shall awaken you, and your bodies shall be molded afresh like unto his glorious body, and your soul and body together shall dwell in infinite bliss for ever.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
We know what it is to be partakers of flesh and blood; we often wish that we did not. It is the flesh that drags us down; it is the flesh that brings us a thousand sorrows. I have a converted soul, but an unconverted body. Christ has healed my soul, but He has left my body still to a large extent in bondage, and therefore it has still to suffer; but the Lord will redeem even that. The redemption of the body is the adoption, and that is to come at the day of the resurrection. But think of Christ, Who was a partaker of the Eternal Godhead, condescending to make Himself a partaker of flesh and blood; — the Godhead linked with materialism; the Infinite, an infant; the Eternal prepared to die, and actually dying! Oh, wondrous mystery, this union of Deity with humanity in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord!
Likewise (3898) (paraplesios from para = close to or alongside + plesios --nearby, near - Greek word for neighbor derived from plesios!) means in a manner near by, similarly, likewise, coming near, nearly, resembling, in like manner. Expressing general similarity. The Lord Jesus, in His incarnation, took His place alongside and nearby the human race in a somewhat similar manner. It was not altogether in a like manner because Jesus, unlike men, was conceived and born not in sin (Heb 4:15). Jesus was not a mere semblance of a body, as the heresy of Docetism taught (they say He was a "phantom" and it just looked like He had a body but it wasn't a real body - this is overt heresy for it could never secure redemption through His blood).
Partook (3348) (metecho from metá = with, denoting association + écho = have) means literally to hold with and so share in the possession of something or have a share of. It has to do with taking hold of something that is not naturally one's own kind. Christ was not in His natural existence flesh and blood. And yet He willingly "took hold" of something which did not naturally belong to Him. One of the requirements of a kinsman-redeemer (see discussion of Goel = Kinsman Redeemer) in the Old Testament was to be related to the one for which the redemption was undertaken. Jesus our Goel, our nearest Kinsman-Redeemer took on Himself our nature in order that He might die in our place, paying the price of redemption, which in turn would liberate us take hold of the divine nature that did not belong to us. Peter writes about this in his second letter…
For by these (His own glory and excellence) He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (See note 2 Peter 1:4)
Adam sinned and forfeited his right of dominion over this earth. The forfeited inheritance (according to Jewish law) was ransomed by the nearest of kin and so Jesus became our nearest of kin by taking on humanity, in order to become our Goel or Kinsman-Redeemer.
Partook or "had a part in" is the aorist tense (past completed action) which points to the historical event of His incarnation, when He became Man and accordingly one with mankind!
It is notable that the writer did not use the same word he used for men sharing life with men, the word koinonia which marks the characteristic sharing of the common fleshly nature (including the sin of Adam) as it pertains to the human race at large. On the other hand metecho (took part of) speaks of the unique fact of the incarnation as a voluntary acceptance of humanity. Thus, our Lord took hold of human nature without its sin in the incarnation, and held it to Himself as an additional nature (the perfect God-Man, fully God, fully Man, a truth not fully comprehensible to finite man), thus associating Himself with the human race in its possession of flesh and blood. He took to Himself, something with which by nature He had nothing in common (metecho), flesh and blood. Human beings possess human nature in common with one another (koinonia). The Son of God united with Himself, something that was not natural to Him.
Vincent writes that koinonia marks "the characteristic sharing of the common fleshly nature as it pertains to the human race at large, and the former (metecho) signifying the unique fact of the incarnation as a voluntary acceptance of humanity.
What light this throws upon the Bible’s attitude towards the dual nature of our Lord, Very God and Very Man! And He did this all for us!
His birth didn’t save anyone but by His death He saves us. It was not His birth or His life but His death which brought to us salvation and deliverance from spiritual and eternal death. He could not have undergone death as God but only by becoming man. Not by Almighty power but by His death He overcame death.
THAT THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT RENDER POWERLESS HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH THAT IS THE DEVIL: hina dia tou thanatou katargese (3SAAS) ton to kratos echonta (PAPMSA) tou thanatou tout estin (3SPAI) ton diabolon:
- Isa 25:8 Ho 13:14 1Co 15:54,55 2Ti 1:10
- devil: Mt 25:41 1Jn 3:8, 9, 10 Rev 2:10 12:9 20:2
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
That (hina = introduces a purpose clause = see term of purpose or result) - Here the purpose of Jesus' incarnation is clearly given - to render powerless, idle, inoperative or ineffective the devil's power of death.
Through (1223) (dia) is a preposition denoting instrumentality, the means by which something is accomplished, in this case the de-fanging of the devil's power over those who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light, of God's Beloved Son.
Death (2288) (thanatos) is literally a physical separation of the soul from the body. Every form of death in the NT is treated not as a natural process but always as a destroying power related to sin and its consequences. This is certainly true in the case of the sinless God Man…
He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus the Son) Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)
Spurgeon - That, through dying, he might overthrow Satan’s power for all who trust him. By his own death, Christ broke that evil power which brought death into the world with its long trail of woe. He did this, not by his example, not even by his life, but by his death. Therefore let those who speak slightingly of his atoning sacrifice see their folly, for it is through death that Christ destroys “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil“
Render powerless (2673) (katargeo [word study] from kata = intensifies meaning + argeo = be idle from argos = ineffective, idle, inactive from a = without + érgon = work) literally means to reduce to inactivity. The idea is to make the power or force of something ineffective and so to render powerless, reduce to inactivity. To do away with. To put out of use. To cause to be idle or useless. To render entirely idle, inoperative or ineffective. Cause something to come to an end or cause it to cease to happen. To abolish or cause not to function. To free or release from an earlier obligation or relationship. To no longer take place. Katargeo always denotes a nonphysical destruction by means of a superior force coming in to replace the force previously in effect, as e.g. light destroys darkness.
Katargeo in his verse means to nullify or to bring to nothing. Satan is still actively opposing the purposes of God in the world, but he received a death wound at the cross. His time is short and his doom is sure. He is a defeated foe.
As John MacArthur explains "The only way to destroy Satan was to rob him of his weapon, death—physical death, spiritual death, eternal death. Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. Death had become the most certain fact of life. Satan knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever. Satan wants to hold onto men until they die, because once they are dead the opportunity for salvation is gone forever. Men cannot escape after death. So God had to wrest from Satan the power of death. And for just that purpose Jesus came… Satan’s weapon is extremely powerful. But God has a weapon even more powerful—eternal life—and with it Jesus destroyed death… The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the believer with eternal life. It is the only thing that could ever have done it. Death is the power of Satan’s dominion, and when Jesus shattered Satan’s power He also shattered his dominion. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)
Barnes - "The word “destroy” here is not used in the sense of “closing life,” or of “killing,” but in the sense of bringing into subjection, or crushing his power. This is the work which the Lord Jesus came to perform - to destroy the kingdom of Satan in the world, and to set up another kingdom in its place."
Vine explains that katargeo "never means “to annihilate.” (= to destroy utterly and completely and thus cause to cease to exist) The general idea in the word is that of depriving a thing of the use for which it is intended. Thus it implies, not loss of being, but loss of well-being (Ed note: although this latter idea cannot be easily applied to many the NT occurrences which refer to inanimate things such as the Law, death, the power of sin, etc). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )
Spurgeon - Those persons who always interpret the word “destroy” (katargeo) as meaning “annihilate” would do me a very great favor if they could really prove to me that Jesus Christ annihilated the devil. I have very mournful proof in my own experience that he is not annihilated, and many of you also know that “your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). The devil is still alive, but his power in this world has received its death blow. Jesus Christ has trodden on the old serpent’s head, and, to the Christian, in the matter of death, the devil is completely destroyed, for he that believes in Christ shall never die. Death seemed to be all black and evil, like Satan himself, something into which he had put his most venomous sting. But now, to believers in Jesus, death is a messenger from our Father in heaven calling us home to Him—not a black angel, striking terror to our hearts, but one who is exceeding bright and fair, coming to bid us fly away to realms of light and love. Remember, Christian, “the sting of death is sin” (1 Cor 15:56), but that has been destroyed for you, and “the power of sin is the law,” but that has been fulfilled for you. Rejoice, therefore, that both are gone so far as you are concerned, and thus your greatest causes for fear are entirely removed.
Power (2904) (kratos) (Click word study on kratos) means strength or might, especially manifested power, the power to rule or control or dominion (power to rule, supreme authority, sovereignty, the right to govern or rule or determine). Krátos denotes the presence and significance of force or strength rather than its exercise. It is the ability to exhibit or express resident strength.
MacDonald explains the devil's "power of death" as follows - In what sense does the devil have the power of death? Probably the chief sense in which he has this power is in demanding death. It was through Satan that sin first entered the world. God’s holiness decreed the death of all who sinned. So in his role as adversary, the devil can demand that the penalty be paid. In heathen lands his power is also seen in the ability of his agents, the witch doctors, to pronounce a curse on a person and for that person to die without any natural cause. There is no suggestion in Scripture that the devil can inflict death on a believer without the permission of God (Job 2:6), and therefore he cannot set the time of a believer’s death. Through wicked men, he is sometimes permitted to kill the believer. But Jesus warned His disciples not to fear those who could destroy the body, but rather to fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28). In the OT, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven without dying. No doubt this was because, as believers, they were reckoned to have died in the still-future death of Christ. When Christ comes at the Rapture, all living believers will go to heaven without dying. But they too escape death because God’s holiness was satisfied for them in the death of Christ. The risen Christ now has “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18), that is, He has complete authority over them. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Kenneth Wuest explains that "Satan was not annihilated at the Cross. His power was broken. Spiritual death cannot hold the person who puts his faith in the Saviour. Physical death cannot keep his body in the grave. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus provides the believer with eternal life, and his body with glorification at the Rapture. Thus, Jesus conquered death, and brought to naught the Devil. Satan had the power of death, not in the sense that he had power over death, but that he had the sovereignty or dominion of death. He had a sovereignty of which death is the realm. The word for “power” in the Greek text here is kratos, which means “power in the sense of dominion.” His dominion over the human race was in the form of death. That dominion is now broken. (Ibid)
Spurgeon - The devil’s power over death lies in three places, and we must look at it in three aspects. Sometimes the devil has power in death over the Christian by tempting him to doubt his resurrection, and leading him to look into the black future with the dread of annihilation. Christ, by being a witness to the fact of the resurrection, has broken the power of the devil in death. In this respect He has prevented him from tempting us to fear annihilation; because, as Christians, we believe that because Christ rose again from the dead, even so they that sleep in Jesus will the Lord bring with Him. A more common temptation—another phase of the devil’s power in death—is that the devil comes to us in our lifetime, and he tempts us by telling us that our guilt will certainly prevail against us, that the sins of our youth and our former transgressions are still in our bones, and that when we sleep in the grave our sins shall rise up against us. The death of Christ has destroyed the power that the devil has over us to tempt us on account of our guilt. “The sting of death is sin” (1 Cor 15:56). Our Jesus took the sting away, and now death is harmless to us, because it is not succeeded by damnation. The evil one has another temptation: “It may be very true,” says he, “that you are to live forever and that your sins have been pardoned; but you have until now found it very hard work to persevere, and now you are about to die you will be sure to fail.” We turn to answer the devil, and we say to him, “Fiend, you tempt us to think that you will conquer us. Remember, Satan, that the strength that has preserved us against you has not been our own. The arm that has delivered us has not been this arm of flesh and blood, else we had long since been overcome. Look there, fiend, at Him that is omnipotent. His almightiness is the power that preserves us to the end. Therefore, be we never so weak, when we are weak then we are strong, and in our last hour of peril we shall yet overcome you.” Christ’s death has taken away from Satan the advantage that he has over the saint in the hour of death. We may joyfully descend the shelving banks of Jordan, or may even, if God calls us to a sudden death, glide from its abrupt cliffs, for Christ is with us, and to die is gain.
Devil (1228) (diabolos from diá = through, between + ballo = to cast, throw) (Click word study on diabolos) means a false accuser, slanderer (one who utters false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation), backbiting (malicious comment about one not present), one given to malicious gossip or a calumniator (one who utters maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations about, this term imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions).
Diabolos is the noun form of the verb diaballō which describes not only those who bring a false charge against one, but also those who disseminate the truth concerning a man, and do so maliciously, insidiously and with hostility.
Notice how the root words (diá = through + ballo = throw) picture what the devil does. He constantly throws between seeking to divide whether it be between a husband and wife, a child and parent, a church, etc. Resist his divisive, condemnatory accusations firm in your faith. Wuest has an interesting comment that the literal meaning of "to throw through" means “to riddle one with accusations.” (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament:: Eerdmans)
Diabolos is applied some 34 times to Satan, the god of this world, and in each case has the definite article in the Greek ("the" = defining a specific entity) and is never in the plural (the three uses below in the pastoral epistles are all plural) as when applied to men. (See discussion of the prince of the power of the air under whose authority we all "walked" or lived when we were still spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins - Ephesians 2:2)
By virtue of faith in Christ's death and His blood, and His burial and His resurrection the devil's grip on men was broken.
(Jesus told Paul that He delivered him) from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:17-18)
In a parallel passage we read that Jesus…
Spiritual death cannot hold the person who puts his faith in the Saviour. Physical death cannot keep his body in the grave. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus provides the believer with eternal life the moment of salvation, and provides him with his glorified imperishable, immortal body at the Rapture. Thus, Jesus conquered death, and brought to naught the Devil.
Though Satan would seek to impose physical death on the whole human race if he could, he can only bring about a particular death when God allows it for some greater purpose (Job 2:4-6; 1 Co 5:5). Satan had the power of death not in the sense that he had power over death but that he had the sovereignty (kratos) of this present world which death is the realm. Kratos means “power in the sense of dominion.” His dominion over the human race is now broken for those who receive Messiah's sacrifice as atonement for their sins.
Paul in discussing the believer's future glorified body says that…
when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 15:54-57)
Jesus took away the "sting of death" which is "sin" because it is by sin that death gains authority over man, and the power of sin is the law because the law stirs up sin (Ro 5:12; 7:8-11).
Paul explains this relationship to sin and death writing…
Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (See notes Romans 5:12)
Writing to Timothy Paul explained that Jesus
now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished (katargeo = made it ineffective for believers) death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (See note 2 Timothy 1:10) (Comment: Christ abolished death by bearing the sins of men on the cross. As a result, death has now lost its sting for the believer [see above 1 Cor. 15:55]. In the resurrection, Christ conquered death for all believers [1 Cor. 15:20, 48]. For them, to die is gain because to die is to be with Christ [see notes Philippians 1:21, 1:23]. The believer whose body is in the grave will rise bodily when Christ returns for His own [1 Thess. 4:14-17]. As with Christ, so for the believer, there will be no more death [Rev. 20:6; 21:4])
Just to make sure we understand - how did Jesus render powerless the devil who had the power of sin? First, note that implication is that death itself is a power which, though originally foreign to human nature, now reigns over it (See notes Romans 5:12). The devil wields the power of death only insofar as he induces people to sin and to come under sin's penalty, which is death. Ezekiel 18:4 says
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die."
Paul adds that
the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (See note Romans 6:23).
Satan has acquired over man (by God’s law, Genesis 2:17; Ro 6:23) the power of death by man’s sin, death being the executioner of sin, and man being Satan’s “lawful captive.” (see note 2 Timothy 2:26). Jesus, by dying, has made the dying His own, and has taken the prey from the mighty. There is no more death for believers. Christ plants in them an undying seed, the germ of heavenly immortality, though believers have to pass through natural death.
The Latin epigram says, "Had not death by death borne to death the death of Death, the gate of eternal life would have been closed”.
John Piper adds that "Now how does that render powerless the one who had the power of death, the devil? It doesn't mean Christians don't die a physical death -- sometimes very painful ones. Nor does it mean that Satan can't kill us (Rev 2:10). What it means is that the only weapon the devil can use to destroy us in death is our sin. Nobody goes to hell because they are oppressed by the devil or even possessed by the devil. Nobody goes to hell because they are harassed by the devil or get shot at by the devil or given hallucinations by the devil. These are all smoke screens to hide the one deadly power in Satan's artillery, namely, unforgiven sin. The only reason anybody goes to hell is because of their own sin. And all Satan can do is fight to keep you sinning and to keep you away from the one who forgives sin. Because if your sin is forgiven, and the wrath of God Almighty is turned away from you, then the devil is disarmed. The one deadly, lethal tactic he has is to accuse you of sin and keep you sinning and to keep you away from Christ who forgives sin and removes the wrath of God. If your sins are forgiven and the wrath of God is removed from you, and you stand righteous before God in Jesus Christ by faith, and God is for you and not against you, then the devil is rendered powerless: he cannot destroy you. So in sum, the connection between Hebrews 2:14 and Hebrews 2:17 shows that the way Christ renders powerless the devil is by making propitiation for our sins. Which shows that the only lethal weapon in the artillery of Satan is our own sin. If that is covered by the blood of Jesus, if that is forgiven, and if the anger of God against is gone and in its place is omnipotent grace working for our good, then we can cry out to any human or demonic manslayer: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" (1Cor 15:54,55). The body they may kill, but that is all. Instantly we are at home with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8)." (Jesus Is Able to Help Those Who Are Tempted - Desiring God)
Spurgeon in Morning and Evening - O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil's power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer's death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant-blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home-a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea which knows no storm? Listen to the answer, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It did but spread its sail and it was there. Like that ship of old, upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, "Peace, be still," and immediately it came to land. Think not that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven. The horses of fire are not an instant on the road. Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? and now it is but a Jacob's ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.
Octavius Winslow's devotional…
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; - Hebrews 2:14
The Divine compassion and sympathy could only be revealed by the incarnation of Deity. In order to the just exhibition of sympathy of one individual with another, there must be a similarity of circumstances. The like body must be inhabited, the same path must be trod, and the same, or a similar, sorrow must be felt. There can be no true sympathy apart from this. A similarity of circumstances is indispensably necessary. See, then, the fitness of Christ to this very purpose. God took upon Him our nature, in order to bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows. Here we enter into the blessedness that flows from the human nature of Christ. As God merely, He could not endure suffering, nor weep, nor die; as man only, He could not have sustained the weight of our sin, grief, nor sorrow. There must be a union of the two natures to accomplish the two objects in one person. The Godhead must be united to the manhood; the one to obey, the other to die; the one to satisfy Divine justice, the other to sympathize with the people in whose behalf the satisfaction was made. Let not the Christian reader shrink from a full and distinct recognition of the doctrine of our Lord's humanity; let it be an important article of his creed, as it is an essential pillar of his hope. If the Deity of Jesus is precious, so is His humanity; the one is of no avail in the work of redemption apart from the other. It is the blending of the two in mysterious union that constitutes the "great mystery of godliness."
Approach, then, the humanity of your adorable Lord: turn not from it. It was pure humanity-it was not the form of an angel He assumed; nor did He pause in His descent to our world to attach Himself to an order of intelligent being, if such there be, existing between the angelic and the human. It was pure humanity, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, which He took up into intimate and indissoluble union with His Deity. It was humanity, too, in its suffering form. Our Lord attached Himself to the woes of our nature; He identified Himself with sorrow in its every aspect. This was no small evidence of the love and condescension of Jesus. To have assumed our nature, this had been a mighty stoop; but to have assumed its most humiliating, abject form, this surpasses all our thoughts of His love to man.
It was necessary that our Lord, in order to sympathize fully with His people, should not only identify Himself with their nature, but in some degree with their peculiar circumstances. This He did. It is the consolation of the believer to know, that the Shepherd has gone before the flock. He bids them not walk in a path which His own feet have not first trod and left their impress. As the dear, tender, ever-watchful Shepherd of His sheep, "He goes before them;" and it is the characteristic of His sheep, that they "follow Him." If there were a case among His dear family, of trial, affliction, or temptation, into which Jesus could not enter, then He could not be "in all points" the merciful and sympathetic High Priest. View the subject in any aspect, and ascertain if Jesus is not fitted for the peculiarity of that case. Beloved reader, you know not how accurately and delicately the heart of Jesus is attuned to yours, whether the chord vibrates in a joyous or a sorrowful note. You are perhaps walking in a solitary path; there is a peculiarity in your trial - it is of a nature so delicate, that you shrink from disclosing it even to your dearest earthly friend; and though surrounded by human sympathy, yet there is a friend you still want, to whom you can disclose the feelings of your bosom-that friend is Jesus. Go to Him-open all your heart; do not be afraid-He invites, He bids you come. "For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to support those who are tempted."
J C Philpot has the following devotional thoughts on Hebrews 2:14…
By his sufferings, blood shedding and death, our gracious Lord not only made a complete atonement for sin, fulfilled every demand of the law, washed his people from all their iniquities in the fountain of his precious blood, and wrought out and brought in a perfect and everlasting righteousness for their justification, but "through death destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." It was by the death of the cross that the gracious Lord "spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." It is a point little considered, though one of much importance, that the Lord Jesus had, as if personally, to grapple with and overcome the prince of the power of the air, to hurl Satan from his usurped throne, to destroy his works, and overthrow his kingdom; and this not by an act of omnipotent power, but by an act of the lowest weakness, for "he was crucified through weakness."
According to our simple views, we might think that all that was needed to overthrow Satan was an act of omnipotent power. But this was not God's way. The king over all the children of pride, in the depths of infinite wisdom, was to be dethroned by an act of the deepest humility, of the most meek and submissive obedience, of the intensest suffering of God's own beloved Son, as standing in the place of those over whom Satan and death had triumphed through sin. We read that "the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy (literally, 'loosen' or 'untie') the works of the devil." Thus he came, not only to untie and undo all that Satan had fastened and done by traversing, as it were, the whole ground, from the first entrance of sin and death, and, by a course of holy and meritorious obedience, repair the wreck and ruin produced by the primary author of all disobedience, but, as the final stroke, to destroy and put down the disobedient and rebellious prince of darkness himself. (J. C. Philpot. Daily Words for Zion's Wayfarers)
Amplified: And also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: and might set free all those who, for fear of death, were all their lives liable to a slave’s existence. (Westminster Press)
NLT: Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: and might also set free those who lived their whole lives a prey to the fear of death. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: And effect the release of those who by reason of fear of death through the entire course of their lives were held in bondage.
Young's Literal: and might deliver those, whoever, with fear of death, throughout all their life, were subjects of bondage,
AND MIGHT MIGHT FREE (deliver) THOSE WHO THRU FEAR OF DEATH: kai apallaxo (3SAAS) toutous hosoi phobo thanatou dia pantos:
- Job 33:21-28 Ps 33:19 56:13 89:48 Lk 1:74,75 2Co 1:10
- Through fear: Job 18:11,14 24:17 Ps 55:4 73:19 1Co 15:50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Spurgeon - It is a very natural thing that man should fear to die, for man was not originally created to die. When Adam and Eve were first placed in the garden of Eden, they were in such a condition that they might have remained there for a myriad years if they had kept their integrity. There was no reason why unfallen man should die; but now that we have sinned, the seeds of corruption are in this flesh of ours, and it is appointed unto men once to die. Yet, as if the body knew that it was not according to the first decree of heaven that it should go to the earth and to the worm, it has a natural reluctance to return to its last bed. And this fear of death, so far as it is natural, is not wrong. But it can very readily go beyond the point where it is right into the region wherein it becomes evil; and I do not doubt that many godly persons have a fear of death about them which is very evil, and which produces very evil effects. Let us never try to get rid of it, as some do, by forgetting all about death. That would be to live as the brutes that perish; they live their little day here without any thought beyond the present. The ox and the sheep go to the slaughterhouse without the power to look beyond the present life. I would not like to obtain peace of mind by descending to the level of those “dumb, driven cattle.” Yet there are many men whose only peace arises from thoughtlessness; yet that is a sorry peace which cannot endure contemplation and consideration. He so took upon Himself flesh and blood as to die in our nature, that thus He might slay death, and might set us free from all fear of death. Do you not see that, if the representative Man, Christ Jesus, died, He also rose again, and that so also will all who are in Him rise, too? If you are in Him, you shall rise again. Therefore, fear not to lie down in your last sleep, for the trumpet shall awaken you, and your bodies shall be molded afresh like unto His glorious body, and your soul and body together shall dwell in infinite bliss forever. “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:18).
Might free (525) (apallasso from apó = from, any separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed + allásso = change form or nature of a thing, to make otherwise) means to change from, and so to release, deliver, set free or liberate. It meant to transfer from one state to another, to remove from. Strictly speaking apallasso spoke of a change by separating or by break up an existing connection, setting the one part into a different state or relation.
In a word apallasso meant to give absolute freedom.
In Greek secular writings apallasso was used for release from the place of responsibility -- of wife who desired release from marriage contract; of a superintendence of land under lease release from a municipal office. It was used of a judicial settlement = get oneself delivered from, to come to an agreement with regard to some dispute or issue, to settle with or to come to terms with. Thus it was a technical term with pictured satisfaction of a plaintiff by the defendant, especially of the creditor (plaintiff) by the debtor (defendant).
Apallasso - 11v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex. 19:22; 1Sa 14:29; Job 3:10; 7:15; 9:12, 34; 10:19; 27:5; 34:5; Isa. 10:7; Jer. 32:31
In the present context in Hebrews 2:15, apallasso pictures the incarnation of Jesus and His crucifixion taking believers from one state to another, specifically conveying the idea of separating believers from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
Jesus' satisfactory sacrifice on the Cross released sinners from their former condition in Adam (remember his fear in the garden in Genesis 3:10 because of his nakedness in turn because of his knowledge of good and evil which equated with sin having entered into him) in which we were subject to the right and the might (see notes Ephesians 2:2) of Satan (who had the power of death, because sin brings death). When we believed the debt (see note Romans 6:23) we owed (see notes Colossians 2:14; 2:15) was counted as paid in full (see John 19:30), we were immediately made complete in Christ (see note Colossians 2:10) and set free (John 8:32,36, Luke 4:18, see note Romans 6:14) from the penalty of sin (Gal 3:13) and power of Sin (see notes Romans 6:11; 6:12; 6:13), so that the devil no longer was our father and no longer had dominion over us.
Luke used apallasso in describing the supernatural effect of cloths that had touched Paul and then touched sick and demon possessed individuals writing…
that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left (apallasso) them and the evil spirits went out. (Luke 19:2)
In a legal sense apallasso pictures the satisfaction (Heb 2:17, Ro 3:25; 1Jn 2:2) of the plaintiff (God the Father) by the defendant (Ro 3:23) or using another scenario of the creditor by the debtor as illustrated by Luke's use of apallasso in Lu 12:58
For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with (KJV = "be delivered from") (apallasso) him, in order that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. (Luke 12:58)
Fear (5401) (phobos from phébomai = flee from) means alarm, terror, or fright. Salvation includes freedom from human anxiety and promise of life and meaning beyond physical death. The redeemed child of God no longer need fear death, for to him "to die is gain" (See notes Philippians 1:21; 1:23)
Paul records that now we know beyond a shadow of a doubt…
that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (See note Romans 6:9)
In the context of extolling the Lord God of Israel for visiting His people (inherent in the OT promises of the Messiah) and accomplishing redemption (the liberation upon payment of a price) Luke records that God would
grant us (Mary and other Jews living at that time) that we, being delivered (see rhuomai) from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear (aphobos)" (Luke 1:74)
John adds that…
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1John 4:18)
Death is personified as if it were a harsh, malevolent taskmaster that knew it had us cornered on death row (see Jn 3:18) as long as we were in Adam (Ro 5:12) and under the dominion of Satan (Acts 26:18)
MacDonald notes that "Though there are occasional flashes of light in the OT concerning life after death, the general impression is one of uncertainty, horror, and gloom. What was hazy then is clear now because Christ brought life and immortality to light by the gospel (2Ti 1:10-note). (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Death (2288) (thanatos) is literally a physical separation of the soul from the body. The basic idea of death is separation from something. This is a fearful thought if we don't know what the future life holds. But if we know the One Who holds the future in His hands, we can rest in peace in life and in death!
We owed a debt we could not pay.
Jesus paid a debt He did not owe!
If the Lamb of God (John 1:29) had never shed His blood (see notes Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:20) Satan would not have been defeated as predicted by God in the Garden of Eden when He declared to the Serpent of old…
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15)
At Calvary Jesus "crushed the head" of the old Serpent, Satan, because it is our sins which give the devil power over us. When our sins are forgiven and taken out of the way Satan has no authority and power of us. Rev 12:11 says they
"they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death."
They had no fear of death because for a believer to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord.
Jesus declared "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Spurgeon - He so took upon Him flesh and blood as to die in our nature, that thus he might slay death, and might set us free from all fear of death. Do you not see that, if the representative Man, Christ Jesus, died, he also rose again, and that so also will all who are in him rise, too? If you are in him, you shall rise again. Therefore, fear not to lie down in your last sleep, for the trumpet shall awaken you, and your bodies shall be molded afresh like unto his glorious body, and your soul and body together shall dwell in infinite bliss for ever. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Illustration - F B Meyer - By DEATH CHRIST DELIVERS FROM THE FEAR OF DEATH. A child was in the habit of playing in a large and beautiful garden, with sunny lawns; but there was one part of it, a long and winding path, down which he never ventured; indeed, he dreaded to go near it, because some silly nurse had told him that ogres and goblins dwelt within its darksome gloom. At last his eldest brother heard of his fear, and, after playing one day with him, took him to the embowered entrance of the grove, and, leaving him there terror-stricken, went singing through its length, and returned, and reasoned with the child, proving that his fears were groundless. At last he took the lad’s hand, and they went through it together, and from that moment the fear which had haunted the place fled. And the memory of that brother’s presence took its place. So has Jesus done for us!
WERE SUBJECT TO SLAVERY ALL THEIR LIVES: tou zon (PAN) enochoi esan (3PIAI) douleias:
- Ro 8:15,21 Ga 4:21 2Ti 1:7
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Were subject (1777) (enochos from enécho = hold in or to be ensnared) means to hold in and so to be be entangled in, subject to, ensnared. It means being subject to control of someone or of some institution - controlled by, under the control of, subject to. The present tense identifies this condition as continuous! What a contrast is this state of oppression, ensnarement and bondage with the picture in Hebrews 2:10, of the glory of the “sons”! Do we really comprehend how wonderful and how great our salvation really is? I fear that far too often I do not!
Slavery (1397) (douleia) is bondage, servitude, , state of a doulos or slave. It is that state of a man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life, a state opposed to liberty. It is a state of servitude to our flesh and to the devil! Before Christ delivered us! But He has set the captives free! (Isa 61:1 Lk 4:18)
Every time they would sin they would be placed into bondage so to speak. literally, “subjects of bondage”; not merely liable to it, but enthralled in it (compare Ro 8:15; Ga 5:1).
Aristotle was correct defining bondage and liberty - “Bondage, the living not as one chooses; liberty, the living as one chooses.”
Freedom is the ability to live as one chooses. Liberty in Christ is the ability to live as one ought.. Christ by delivering us from the curse of God against our sin, has taken from death all that made it formidable. Death, viewed apart from Christ, can only fill with horror, if the sinner even dares to think of it. Why? Hebrews says
Heb 10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.
We couldn't have gotten free of the ''fear of death'' by any manner or any amount of money all of our lives! Such a life can hardly be called life! In fact Paul says in such a state we "were dead (spiritually) in our trespasses and sins"! (See note Ephesians 2:1) On the other hand, for the believer, “death is swallowed up in victory” (1Cor 15:54).
From Global Prayer Digest 1/23/01 re the Muslim Maldives Islands: "Even Christian radio broadcasts have been squelched there. To fill the spiritual void, the Maldivians have blended Islam and animism. Fear of evil spirits rules their lives, so they put no windows in their coral or thatched houses and they burn lamps all night. Currently, no Christian resources are available in their Divehi language except a possible short wave program." (Comment: For these who set in darkness and fear of death, a great Light has shone forth. Are you bearing the Light of Christ in you the hope of glory to the dark places of this world which is passing away? If not, why not? We are called to be His witnesses wherever He has placed us.)
THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE - At the southern tip of Africa, a cape jutting out into the ocean once caused sailors great anxiety. Many who attempted to sail around it were lost in the swirling seas. Because adverse weather conditions so often prevailed there, the region was named the Cape of Storms. A Portuguese captain determined to find a safe route through those treacherous waters so his countrymen could reach Cathay and the riches of the East Indies in safety. He succeeded, and the area was renamed the Cape of Good Hope.
We all face a great storm called death. But our Lord has already traveled through it safely and has provided a way for us to do the same. By His crucifixion and resurrection, Christ abolished eternal death for every believer and has permanently established our fellowship with Him in heaven. Although this "last enemy," physical death, can touch us temporarily, its brief control over our earthly body will end at the resurrection. The sting of death has been removed!
Now all who know Christ as Savior can face life's final voyage with confidence. Even though the sea may be rough, we will experience no terror as we pass through the "cape of good hope" and into heaven's harbor. The Master Helmsman Himself has assured our safe passage. -- Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Think of just crossing a river,
Stepping out safe on that shore,
Sadness and suffering over,
Dwelling with Christ evermore!
Christ has charted a safe course
through the dark waters of death.
J C Philpot has the following devotional thoughts on Hebrews 2:14…
It is no evidence against you if you are subject to bondage; it is no mark against you if you cannot look death in the face without doubt or fear. Is it not "the children" who feel the bondage? And did not the Lord come to deliver them from it? Are you then not a child because you fear death? If you had no sense of sin, no tenderness of conscience, you would be as careless about death as most other people are. Thus your very bondage, your very fears, if they make you sigh and cry for deliverance, are marks of life. And the day will surely come when the Lord will remove these chilling fears and put an end to these killing doubts. As you draw near to the brink of Jordan, the Lord will be with you to deliver you, who, through fear of death, are now subject to bondage; he will extract its sting, and rob the grave of its victory, enabling you to shout "Salvation!" through his blood, even at the moment when nature sinks lowest and the last enemy appears nearest in view.
Oh, what a blessed Jesus we have; what a heavenly Friend; what a divine Mediator between a holy God and our guilty souls! What love he displayed in taking our flesh and blood; what kind condescension, what wondrous depths of unspeakable grace! He loved us sufficiently to lay down his life for us. Did he not for our sakes endure the agony of the cross, the hidings of God's face, the burden of sin, the pangs of hell? And if he has done all this for us on earth, will he leave his work undone in heaven? Has he quickened you into life, made you feel your sin, taught you to seek for mercy, raised up a good hope in your heart, applied a promise to your soul, given you a testimony? He may have done all this, and yet at times your conscience may be held down in bondage and imprisonment. But it is only to make further way for his grace; to open up more and more of his willingness and ability to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. It is only to make himself in the end more precious to you; to show you more of his finished work, more of his dying love and atoning blood, and more of what he is able to do in delivering you from all your fears.
Thus, as the Adam fall was overruled by the wisdom of God to make manifest the riches of his eternal love, mercy, and grace, so your very doubts, fears, and bondage will be blessedly overruled to give you further discoveries of Christ, to wean you more from an arm of flesh, and to make you know more experimentally what the Lord Jesus Christ is to those who seek his face and hang upon and trust him and him alone.
A man who believes that he may live and die, and that safely, without an experimental knowledge of Christ, will never seek his face, never call upon his name, never long for the manifestations of his love. But he who feels that he can neither live nor die without him, who knows that he has a soul that only Christ can save, who has sins which only Christ's blood can pardon, iniquities that only Christ's righteousness can cover, will be often crying to the Lord to visit his soul with his salvation, and will find no rest till Christ appears; but when Christ appears to the joy of his soul, will bless and praise him with joyful lips. And oh, what a glorious trophy will that man be of Christ's eternal victory over sin and Satan, when he will reign with him and with his assembled saints in one immortal day! (J. C. Philpot. Daily Words for Zion's Wayfarers)
THE DEATH OF DEATH
"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." Hebrews 2:14-15.
WE fear death with a double fear. There is, first, the instinctive fear shared also by the animal creation; for the very brutes tremble as the moment of death draws near. Surely this fear is not wrong. It is often congenital and involuntary, and afflicts some of God's noblest saints: though doubtless these will some day confess that it was most unwarrantable, and that the moment of dissolution was calm and sweet and blessed. It is a growing opinion among thoughtful men that the moment of death, when the spirit passes from its earthly tabernacle, is probably the most painless and the happiest moment of its whole earthly story. And if this be so generally, how much more must it be the case with those on whose sight are breaking the glories of Paradise! The child whose eyes feast upon a glowing vista of flower and fruit, beckoning it through the garden-gate, hardly notices the rough woodwork of the gate itself as it bounds through; and probably the soul, becoming aware of the beauty of the King and the glories of its home, is too absorbed to notice the act of death, till it suddenly finds itself free to mount and soar and revel in the dawning light. But there is another fear of death, which is spiritual. dread its mystery. What is it? Whither does it lead? Why does it come just now? What is the nature of the life beyond? We see the movements on the other side of the thick curtain which sways to and fro; but we can distinguish no form. The dying ones are conscious of sights and sounds for which we strain eye and ear in vain. We dread its leave-taking. The heathen poet sang sadly of leaving earth and home and family. Long habit endears the homeliest lot and the roughest comrades: how much more the true-hearted and congenial-it is hard to part from them. If only we could all go together, there would be nothing in it. But this separate dropping-off, this departing one by one, this drift from the anchorage alone! Who can deny that it is a lonesome thing? Men dread the after-death. " The sting of death is sin." The sinner dreads to die, because he knows that, on the other side of death, he must meet the God against whom he has sinned, and stand at his bar to give an account and receive the due reward of his deeds. How can he face that burning glory? How can he answer for one of a thousand? How can mortal man be just with God? How can he escape hell, and find his place amid the happy festal throngs of the Golden City? Many of man's fears were known to Christ. And he knew that they would be felt by many who were to be closely related to him as brethren. If, then, he was prompted by ordinary feelings of compassion to the great masses of mankind, he would be especially moved to relieve those with whom he had so close an affinity, as these marvelous verses unfold. He and they are all of one (see note Hebrews 2:11). He calls them brethren through the lips of psalmist and prophet (see note Hebrews 2:12). He takes his stand in the assembled Church, and sings his Father's praise in its company (Hebrews 2:12). He even associates himself with them in their humble childlike trust (see note Hebrews 2:13). He dares to accost the gaze of all worlds, as he comes forward leading them by the hand (Hebrews 2:13). Oh, marvelous identification! Oh, rapturous association! More wondrous far than if a seraph should cherish friendship with a worm! But the preciousness of this relationship lies in the fact that Jesus will do all he can to alleviate that fear of death, which is more or less common to us all.
But in order to do it, he must die. He could not be the death of death unless he had personally tasted death. He needed to fulfill the law of death by dying, before he could abolish death. Our David must go into the valley of Elah, and grapple with our giant foe, and wrest from him his power, and slay him with his own sword. As in the old fable Prometheus could not slay the Minotaur unless he accompanied the yearly freight of victims, so must Jesus go with the myriads of our race into the dark confines of the tomb, that death might do its worst in vain; that the grave might lose its victory; and that the grim gaoler might be shown powerless to hold the Resurrection and the Life. Had Christ not died, it might have been affirmed that, in one place at least, death and sin, chaos and darkness, were supreme. "It behooved him, therefore, to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." And, like another Samson, carrying the gates of his prison-house, he came forth, demonstrating forever that light is stronger than darkness, salvation than sin, life than death. Hear his triumphant cry, as thrice the risen and ascended Master exclaims, "I died, and lo, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of Hades and of death." Death and hell chose their own battleground, their strongest; and there, in the hour of his weakness, our King defeated them, and now carries the trophy of victory at his girdle forevermore. Hallelujah!
But he could only have died by becoming man. Perhaps there is no race in the universe that can die but our own. So there may be no other spot in the wide universe of God seamed with graves, shadowed by the outspread wings of the angel of death, or marked by the plague-spot of sin. "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all." In order then to die, Christ must take on himself our human nature. Others die because they are born; Christ was born that he might die. It is as if he said: "Of thee, O human mother, must I be born; and I must suffer the aches and pains and sorrows of mortal life; and I must hasten quickly to the destined goal of human life; I have come into the world to die." "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, in order 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."
I. BY DEATH CHRIST DESTROYED HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH
Scripture has no doubt as to the existence of the devil. And those who know much of their own inner life, and of the sudden assaults of evil to which we are liable, cannot but realize his terrible power. And from this passage we infer that that power was even greater before Jesus died. "He had the power of death." It was a chief weapon in his infernal armory. The dread of it was so great as to drive men to yield to any demands made by the priests of false religions, with their dark impurities and hideous rites. Thus timid sheep are scared by horrid shouts and blows into the butcher's shambles. But since Jesus died, the devil and his power are destroyed. Brought to naught, not made extinct. Still he assails the Christian warrior, though armed from head to foot; and goes about seeking whom he may devour, and deceives men to ruin. Satan is not impotent though chained. He has received the wound which annuls his power, but it has not yet been effectual to destroy him. His power was broken at the cross and grave of Jesus. The hour of Gethsemane was the hour and power of darkness. And Satan must have seen the Resurrection in despair. It was the knell of his destiny. It sealed his doom. The prince of this world was judged and cast out from the seat of power (John 12:31, 16:11). The serpent's head was bruised beyond remedy. Fear not the devil, O child of God; nor death! These make much noise, but they have no power. The Breaker has gone before thee, clearing thy way. Only keep close behind him. Hark! He gives thee power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt thee (Luke 10:9). No robber shall pluck thee from thy Shepherd's hand.
II. BY DEATH CHRIST DELIVERS FROM THE FEAR OF DEATH
A child was in the habit of playing in a large and beautiful garden, with sunny lawns; but there was one part of it, a long and winding path, down which he never ventured; indeed, he dreaded to go near it, because some silly nurse had told him that ogres and goblins dwelt within its darksome gloom. At last his eldest brother heard of his fear, and, after playing one day with him, took him to the embowered entrance of the grove, and, leaving him there terror-stricken, went singing through its length, and returned, and reasoned with the child, proving that his fears were groundless. At last he took the lad's hand, and they went through it together, and from that moment the fear which had haunted the place fled. And the memory of that brother's presence took its place. So has Jesus done for us! Fear not the mystery Of death! Jesus has died, and has shown us that it is the gateway into another life, more fair and blessed than this-a life in which human words are understood, and human faces smile, and human affections linger still. The forty days of his resurrection life have solved many of the problems, and illumined most of the mystery. To die is to go at once to be with him. No chasm, no interval, no weary delay in purgatory. Absent from the body, present with the Lord, One moment here in conditions of mortality; the next beyond the stars. Fear not the loneliness of death! The soul in the dark valley becomes aware of another at its side, "Thou art with me." Death cannot separate us, even for a moment, from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the hour of death Jesus fulfills his own promise, "I will come again and take you unto myself." And on the other side we step into a vast circle of loving spirits, who welcome the new-comer with festal songs (see note 2 Peter 1:11) Fear not the after-death! The curse and penalty of sin have been borne by him. Death, the supreme sentence on sinners, has been suffered for us by our Substitute. In him we have indeed passed on to the other side of the doom, which is justly ours, as members of a sinful race. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again." Death! How shall they die who have already died in Christ? That which others call death, we call sleep. We dread it no more than sleep. Our bodies lie down exhausted with the long working-day, to awake in the fresh energy of the eternal morning; but in the meanwhile the spirit is presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.
The Way Into the Holiest.