King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Hebrews 2

The duty of stedfastly adhering to Christ and his gospel. (1-4) His sufferings are no objection against his pre-eminence. (5-9) The reason of his sufferings, and the fitness of them. (10-13) Christ’s taking the nature of man, and not his taking the nature of angels, was necessary to his priestly office. (14-18)

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The duty of stedfastly adhering to Christ and his gospel

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

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

3 How 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;

4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

His sufferings are no objection against his pre-eminence

5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

6 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:

8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

9 But 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.

The reason of his sufferings, and the fitness of them

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

Christ’s taking the nature of man, and not his taking the nature of angels, was necessary to his priestly office

14 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;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Lest perhaps we should let them slip away,[1] or run out, like water out of leaking vessels, which is lost, and cannot be take up again. According to the letter it is, lest we run out; the sense must be, lest we do not sufficiently attend to these truths. Wi.

Ver. 2. For if the word spoken by the Angels, &c. That is, if the law delivered to Moses by Angels, became firm and was to be obeyed, and the transgressors punished, how much more is this true of the new law delivered by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and preached by his disciples that heard him, and which hath been confirmed by so many miracles, and by so many gifts of the Holy Ghost, which the believers have received? Wi.

Ver. 4. The miraculous powers of the Almighty bestowed in the early ages of the Church, for the establishment and propagation of the faith, became afterwards less frequent, as there was less need of them; but they have ever been totally withdrawn, as some pretend, nor has there passed a single age from that of the apostles down to the present time, in which several most evident and stupendous miracles have not been wrought in the Catholic Church.

Ver. 5. God hath not put in subjection to the Angels the[2] world to come. By the world to come, is meant the Church of Christ to the end of the world, and succeeding to the state of those who served God under the old law. The former world, under the law of Moses, might be said to be subject to Angels, by whom that law was delivered; but the church of the new law is subject to Christ, its author and publisher. Wi.

Ver. 6. But one; to wit, the author of the 8th Psalm said, what is man, &c. that it, man, or mankind, considered in his own frail nature, corrupted by sin, guilty of eternal death, that thou shouldst be mindful of him, restore him to thy favour, and bestow such graces upon him? But the words of the psalm, and of S. Paul in this place, though they may be understood of every man, yet are to be taken as particularly spoken of Christ as man, or of the human nature of Christ, exalted by the real union with the divine person of the Son of God. Wi. — If the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ spoke in this manner, when visited by the eternal word, with what humility ought a sinner to say: What is man?

Ver. 7. Thou hast made him a little less than the Angels. Man’s nature, even the human nature of Christ in itself, is inferior to the nature of Angels, though raised to a degree of dignity above other creatures. Wi.

Ver. 8. He left nothing subject to him. He speaks here of Christ, to whom God hath made all creatures subject, whether in heaven, earth, or hell; whether they have been, or shall be hereafter, as to the judge and the head of all. — But now we see not as yet all things subject to him. This will only be at the end of the world. At present the devils and the wicked make opposition against Christ and his elect. Wi.

Ver. 9. But we see (by faith) Jesus, who as man, by his sufferings and death, was made less than the Angels, nay, despised as the last of men; now, by his glorious resurrection and ascension, and by the submission all nations pay to him, who believe in him and worship him, crowned with glory and honour. And he submitted himself willingly to all those sufferings, even to the death of the cross, that by the grace of God he might taste death for all; or, as we read in the Syriac version, for every man: therefore not only for the predestinate or the elect, who are saved. Wi.

Ver. 10. For it became him, &c. He gives the reasons for which the Son of God would become man and suffer death, not that this was absolutely necessary, but a convenient means to manifest the goodness, the wisdom, and the justice of God, by the incarnation and death of his Son; that having decreed to bring many sons, or children, to eternal glory, he was pleased to send his divine Son to become man, and so to consummate the Author[3] of man’s salvation by suffering; i.e. to make him a perfect and consummate sacrifice of expiation for the sins of all men, and to satisfy the justice of God in the most perfect manner. Wi. — By suffering, Christ was to enter into his glory, (Luke xxiv. 26.) which the apostle here calls being made perfect. Ch. — In this and the above verses we may observe three different states of Jesus Christ. The first, that of his humiliation by his passion and death; the second, that of his glory at his resurrection and ascension into heaven; the third, that of his consummated glory in heaven after the last judgment. In his first state, viz. his passion, he was made not only less than the Angels, but as the last of men; novissimus virorum. In his second, all power was given to him in heaven and earth; but this power he will not fully exercise till after the general judgment, when all things, without exception, will be made subject to him; and this is the third state, the permanent state of his glory, which is never to end. To thy sovereign power, O divine Jesus, subject my mind, will, and heart, and make my hitherto rebellious heart in all things conformable to thy sacred and loving heart.

Ver. 11. For both he who sanctifieth, (i.e. our Redeemer, who sanctifieth, or has obtained sanctification for all, by sacrificing himself on the cross) and they who are sanctified, are all of one; have the same human nature, and are from the same first parent Adam, whose Son, (Christ) as man, was; on which account he calls men his brethren. See Jo. xx. 17. and Psalm xxi. 23. in which is a clear prediction of Christ’s sufferings, where it is said: I will declare thy name to my brethren, &c. Wi.

Ver. 13. Christians are the disciples and children of Jesus Christ, begotten upon the cross, and offered with him and through him to his Father. Happy they who ratify this offering and consummate this sacrifice, by works of mortification and penance!

Ver. 14. That, through death, he might destroy the power of him who had the empire of death, who, by tempting men to sin, had made them slaves to him and to eternal death; so that they lived always slaves to the devil, under a miserable fear of death, and liable to eternal death. Wi.

Ver. 15. The devil, by exciting men to sin, made them liable to a temporal and eternal death? he was, therefore, the prince of death, both as to soul and body. Jesus Christ, the life and source of life, has by his death destroyed sin and vanquished the devil; he has, at once, triumphed over the prince of death, and death itself; and by the assurance which he has given us of eternal life, has delivered us from the terrible apprehensions of dying. To a good Christian, death is the termination of misery and the beginning of eternal happiness; why, therefore, should we be afraid to die? We ought rather, with S. Paul, to say: I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.

Ver. 16. For nowhere doth he take hold of the Angels.[4] Lit. that he apprehendeth, or layeth hold on the Angels; that is, according to the common interpretation, we nowhere find that he hath united their nature to his divine person to save them, though a great part of them had also sinned and fallen from heaven. But he taketh the seed of Abraham; i.e. he became man of the seed or race of Abraham, to redeem or save mankind. Wi. — Nowhere, &c. That is, he never took upon him the nature of Angels, but that of the seed of Abraham. Ch.

Ver. 17. To be made like to his brethren in all things; (sin always excepted) i.e. to be tempted, to suffer, to die, that having the true nature of a suffering man, he might become a merciful high priest, fit to compassionate us in our sins, in our temptations and sufferings. Wi.

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[1] V. 1. Ne forte pereffluamus, mepote pararruomen.

[2] V. 5. Orbem terræ futurum, ten oikoumenen ten mellousan.

[3] V. 10. Authorem salutis eorum per passionem consummare, not consummari, teleiosai.

[4] V. 16. Nusquam enim Angelos apprehendit, sed semen Abrahæ apprehendit, epilambanetai, assumit, vel assumpsit.