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2. Warning to Pay Attention

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. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

5For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6But 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? 7Thou 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: 8Thou 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. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10For 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. 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14Forasmuch 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; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17Wherefore 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. 18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

17. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, or, to be like his brethren, etc. In Christ’s human nature there are two things to be considered, the real flesh and the affections or feelings. The Apostle then teaches us, that he had not only put on the real flesh of man, but also all those feelings which belong to man, and he also shows the benefit that hence proceeds; and it is the true teaching of faith when we in our case find the reason why the Son of God undertook our infirmities; for all knowledge without feeling the need of this benefit is cold and lifeless. But he teaches us that Christ was made subject to human affections, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest; which words I thus explain, “that he might be a merciful, and therefore a faithful high priest.” 5050     Here is, as I conceive, an instance of an arrangement similar to what is often found in the prophets, and to what occurs in verse 9; this would be seen were a part of this verse and the following verse put in lines, —
   That compassionate he might be
And a faithful high priest in the things of God
To make an atonement for the sins of the people;
For as he suffered, being himself tempted, he can help the tempted.

   The first and last line correspond, and the second and the third. He is compassionate, because he can sympathize with the tempted, having been himself tempted; and he is a true and faithful high priest, because he really expiated the sins of the people: and that he might be all this, he became like his brethren that is, by taking their nature. — Ed.

For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God’s wrath, to help the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is especially required, and it is what experience produces in us; for it is a rare thing, for those who are always happy to sympathize with the sorrows of others. The following saying of Virgil was no doubt derived from daily examples found among men:

“Not ignorant of evil, I learn to aid the miserable.” 5151     Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.

The Son of God had no need of experience that he might know the emotions of mercy; but we could not be persuaded that he is merciful and ready to help us, had he not become acquainted by experience with our miseries; but this, as other things, has been as a favor given to us. Therefore whenever any evils pass over us, let it ever occur to us, that nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has himself experienced in order that he might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt but that he is at present with us as though he suffered with us. 5252     This paragraph, which begins at verse 5, commences with what belongs to the kingly office — dominion, and what accompanies it, glory and honor; but it ends with the priestly office; and it is shown that it was necessary for the Savior to be a priest in order that he might be a king, and might make his people kings as well as priests to God. The dominion and glory promised to the faithful from the beginning intimated even in the first promise made to fallen man, and more fully developed afterwards, was what they had no power to attain of themselves: Hence it became necessary for the Son of God to become the son of man, that he might obtain for his people the dominion and glory. This seems to be the view presented to us in this passage. The children of God, before Christ came into the world, were like heirs under age, though lords of all. He came, took their flesh and effected whatever was necessary to put them in full possession of the privileges promised them. See Galatians 4:1-6. — Ed.

Faithful means one true and upright, for it is one opposite to a dissembler; and to him who fulfils not his engagements. An acquaintance with our sorrows and miseries so inclines Christ to compassion, that he is constant in imploring God’s aid for us. What besides? Having purposed to make atonement for sins, he put on our nature that we might have in our own flesh the price of our redemption; in a word, that by the right of a common nature he might introduce us, together with himself, into the sanctuary of God. By the words, in things pertaining to God, he means such things as are necessary to reconcile men to God; and as the first access to God is by faith, there is need of a Mediator to remove all doubting.


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