The Arguments, 2:10-12:29

1. Christ is a faithful and merciful high priest, 2:10-5:10

i] The Son of Man, savior and high priest


The writer to the Hebrews opens his letter with a profound truth: Jesus Christ is the final revelation of God to mankind, 1:1-2:18. In the passage before us he goes on to make the point that Jesus is the unique man, the Savior and High Priest of his people. Jesus is the perfect man who has made atonement for lost humanity, finally and completely.


i] Context: See 1:1-4. We now come to our author's main arguments, the probatio. As an example of first century rhetoric, the sermon falls into four main parts:

The introduction, exordium, 1:1-2:4;

Proposition / thesis, partitio, 2:5-9;

The arguments proper, probatio, 2:10-12:27;

Conclusion / Summary / recapitulation, peroratio, 12:28-13:21.

A moment spent examining the different commentators on Hebrews shows the lack of agreement on structure. A favored approach is to take 3:1-5:10 as the second major section of the sermon, a section focused on the priesthood of Christ, so, Lane (The High Priestly Character of the Son), Attridge (Christ Faithful and Merciful), Ellingworth (The Faithful and Merciful High Priest), .... Bruce takes 3:1-4:13 as the second section, "The True Home of the People of God." Kistemaker, Hughes, ... opt for the Christ is superior line, eg., Kistemaker, "Jesus' Superiority to Moses", 3:1-2:13.

Koester argues that having stated his proposition, namely that Christ, our Great High Priest, was glorified through suffering and in him we are glorified, 2:5-9. the writer to the Hebrews sets out to establish the proposition in three major arguments. The first, Christ is a faithful and merciful high priest, 2:10-5:10, "explores the meaning of Christ's suffering", Koester. This is followed by a digression which transitions to the second major argument in the sermon, 7:1-10:25, Christ's high priestly sacrifice enables us to approach God. Our author has made the point that the divine revelation through Christ supersedes the revelation that came through Moses and the Prophets, via Angels, and as such, supersedes the Law and the cult of old Israel - Jesus is our Great High Priest. Our author now goes on to make the point that the new Israel in Christ is on its own pilgrimage to the promised land, and to that goal, with faith, we must strive until we reach the promised land, reach that distant shore in the presence of God. Koester describes the steps in the argument as the links in a chain. Note the context of 4:14-5:10.

2:10-18: God brings his people to glory through the "Pioneer of their Salvation", Christ, the one who liberates them from fear and death, serving as the faithful High Priest who makes an effective atonement on their behalf.

3:1-6: The glory of Christ is due to his faithfulness, a faithfulness which well outstrips that of Moses.

3:7-19: We share in his glory "if we hold our original conviction to the end", unlike those who perished in the wilderness long ago.

4:1-11; Although the faithless do not enter God's promised rest, the faithful do. The generation that left Egypt for the promised land were denied entry due to their unfaithfulness and so they never found their final rest. The generation that followed entered the promised land under Joshua, but even they did not find the the Sabbath-rest of God. The gospel proclaims that the faithful, in Christ, find that rest.

4:12-13: For the faithful in Christ to enter their rest they must give heed to the living, active, piercing discerning Word of God.

4:14-16: Stumbling on the journey to God's Sabbath-rest is a present danger and so we who journey must look to Jesus, our High Priest, who made the journey through suffering and will aid us in our struggle.

5:1-6: Christ's priestly service on our behalf is far superior to that of the order of Aaron, for Christ is of the order of Melchizedek, an order that supersedes that of the Aaronic priesthood. We therefore have in Christ, someone who is well able to approach the throne of God's grace on our behalf.

5:7-10. Christ's high priestly qualifications assure us that we rest on someone who is "the source of eternal salvation."


ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: This passage, The son of Man, savior and high priest, presents as follows:

Thesis restatement, v10;

Christological support for the thesis, v11-18:

The suffering Christ is our brother, v11-13;

The suffering Christ has liberated us from the fear of death, v14-16;

The suffering Christ has atoned for our sins and assists us in our trials, v17-18.


iv] Interpretation:

As Koester explains, the first main argument in Hebrews, 2:10-5:10, "explores the meaning of Christ's suffering.", In the first point of this first argument, 2:10-18, our writer "announces that God brings people to glory through the work of the heroic Pioneer of their Salvation." It is he who "liberates them from fear and death and through the merciful and faithful high priest, makes atonement on their behalf", Koester.

Our author first reframes the sermon's thesis, outlined in v5-9, that God's intention to save a people to himself in order that they might share his glory, is achieved through the suffering of Christ, v10. Koester notes, that the following verses support this statement, not so much by argument, but by three christological portraits which are designed "to affect listeners more by the power of their imagery than by the force of their arguments." First, the suffering Christ is our brother and as a member of his family we share his glory, v11-13; Second, the suffering Christ has liberated us from fear and death, v14-16; Third, the suffering Christ has atoned for and sins and assists us in our trials, v17-18.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:10

The perfection that comes through suffering, v10-18; i] Restatement of the thesis, v10. God's ultimate purpose for his creation is to gather a people to himself in order that they may share in the Creator's glory. To achieve this end, it was "fitting" (a right thing for him to do) for God to provide the way to glory through the suffering of Jesus. Jesus was the "author" of this salvation in the sense of being its pathfinder, or pioneer. That is, Jesus cuts out the pathway for us to travel; he identifies with sinful humanity, remaining obedient unto death and so, as the perfect savior (high priest), he provides a perfect pathway to glory.

gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal, here setting out to explain the proposition, v5-9. Probably best left untranslated, as NIV.

agagonta (agw) aor. part. "in bringing" - having brought, led. The participle forms a noun clause, "having led many sons to glory", which serves as the subject of the verb "is fitting." In the Gk. "it was fitting for him", the "him" is taken by the NIV etc. to refer to God, but it could refer to "the author of their salvation", namely Christ, "the one who has begun to show many sons the way to glory."

eprepen (erepw) imperf. "it was fitting" - "[having led many sons to glory] was right [for him]. What God did was "appropriate", not what was necessary, as if bound to do it. The NIV treats Christ's suffering as that which is appropriate, "seemly", but it well may be that what is "fitting" is "bringing many sons to glory", which of course is "right"; "God did the right thing when he made Jesus perfect by suffering", CEV; "God did what he needed to do", NCV.

autw/ dat. pro. "that God" - to him. Dative of interest, advantage; "it was fitting for him."

dia + acc. / gen. "for [whom and] through [whom]" - because of, on account of [whom all things (exist)] through, by means of [whom all things (exist)]. The double pronged use of this preposition serves to state two truths: first, expressing the cause/reason for the existence of creation, namely the sovereign act of God/Christ, so NIV "for", and second, the means of its creation, possibly "by", in the sense of "means by which", namely a divine act of God. There is an overlap in meaning so the writer may just be emphasizing the idea that the creation has a divine purpose, that purpose being the perfecting (in the sense of completing) of Christ through suffering. "Who created all things for his own purpose(s)", TNT.

ton archgon (oV) "the author [of their salvation]" - founder. "Pioneer", NRSV; "Pathfinder", Bruce.

teleiwsai (teleiow) aor. inf. "should make ...... perfect" - to complete, perfect, qualify. Possibly forming a purpose clause, "in order to perfect the author of their salvation through suffering." Christ was made fully adequate for his eternal reign, and this (dia + gen.) through / by means of suffering"; "crown with suffering", Knox.


ii] Christological support for the thesis, v11-18: a) The suffering Christ is our brother - we share in family glory, v11-13. Jesus, the one and only holy (perfect, set apart for God) son of God, has now entered glory. Those who follow the pathway cut by Jesus, not only share his holiness, a holiness which will be fully realized in glory, but they share his status as a son of God. In Christ we become sons of God. Three Old testament passages are quoted to support the contention that Christ is our brother. All three establish the solidarity of Christ with his disciples:

• Psalm 22:22. The early church treated Psalm 22 as a messianic Psalm fulfilled by Christ during his life. Jesus the messiah had praised God and put his trust in God. In typical Hebrew parallelism, God is praised in the presence of "my brothers" and the "congregation" ie. the assembly of believers, the church.

• Isaiah 8:17b. This rather obtuse reference links Christ and his brethren (the righteous remnant of Christ's day) with Isaiah and his disciples (the righteous remnant of Isaiah's day). Isaiah was rejected, his words ignored, just as Jesus was rejected and ignored. Yet, Isaiah, like Jesus (and the righteous remnant in Christ), continued to trust in the ultimate victory of the living God.

• Isaiah 8:18a. Isaiah and his children served as a sign to Israel of God's intentions for his people. This is particularly seen in his children's names which mean "remnant will return" and "hasten booty, speed spoil". For Christ, his remnant people, the church, his "children" ("those whom you gave me out of the world"), his brethren, are similarly a sign to the powers of this age.

gar "-" - for. Again more explanatory than causal, indicating a further step in the explanation. Best as NIV.

oJ ... aJgiazwn (aJagiazw) pres. part. "the one who makes men holy" - the one who sanctifies. As with the passive participle "those who are made holy", the participle here serves as a substantive. "Sanctify", in the sense of set apart for divine use and thus make holy. Hebrews views humanity as defiled by sin and in need of cleansing / purification, which cleansing is effected by the sacrificial blood of Christ, thus enabling the person to be set aside for divine use.

ex (ek) "are of" - out of, from. Expressing source / origin, although possibly serving as a partitive genitive, as NIV.

enoV panteV "the same family" - one all. Either: "have the same Father (God)", TEV, or the same origin in Adam (possibly Abraham), "are all one stock", NEB.

di hJn aitian "so" - because of, on account of this reason/cause. A causal construction; "because of which", Caudill.

ouk epaiscunetai (epaiscunomai) pres. "is not ashamed" - Jesus does not take the view that his authority and status is lessoned by classing believers as brothers.

kalein (kalew) pres. inf. "to call [them brothers]" - The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement, expressing what Jesus was not ashamed of.


A quotation from Psalm 22:22. The first of three quotes from the Old Testament supporting the contention that believers are Christ's brothers.

legwn pres. part. "he says" - saying. The participle is adverbial, eg. "he is not ashamed to call them brothers when he says / because the scripture/psalmist/the Lord says: ..."

toiV adelfoiV (oV) dat. "to [my] brothers" - the brothers [of me]. Dative of indirect object.

en + dat. "in [the presence / in" - in [midst, middle]. Expressing space/sphere.

ekklhsiaV (a) gen. "of the congregation / the assembly" - church, assembly. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. "Assembly" is used of a local congregation, or the heavenly assembly of believers, past, present and future; "when the believers gather for worship I will praise you", TH.


The quotations are either Isaiah 8:17, although their are other similar verses, or Isaiah 8:18.

egw pro. "I" - The position is emphatic by use and position.

esomai pepoiqwV (peiqw) perf. part. + fut. verb to-be "I will put my trust [in him]]" - I will put [my confidence upon him]. A periphrastic future, ie. a simple verb expressed in a roundabout way, possibly serving to emphasize durative aspect - ongoing belief.

epi + dat. "on" - upon. Spacial; "I will lean my weight upon God", TH.

ta paidia (on) "the children" - Meaning, the remnant children of Israel, therefore "believers".


b) The suffering Christ has liberated us from the fear of death, v14-16. The pathway cut by Jesus had to be cut by a real person. Jesus had to be born naturally, live naturally and die naturally; he had to share the "humanity" of his "brothers". Through this role, Jesus himself took the sting of death and by his dying, drew the sting from his brothers. In so doing, he renders the powers of darkness powerless. Through his death Jesus frees his brothers from the bondage of fear, the fear of death for sins committed. Before Christ, resurrection was but a forlorn hope; in the reality of Christ's resurrection, we find hope. Those whom Jesus "takes hold of" (helps) and leads along the pathway, are not "angels", but the family of faith. They are the true sons of Abraham, Gal.3:7.

oun "-" - for. Again more explanatory than causal, introducing the next step in the explanation.

epei "since" - because. Causal, forward looking; "because the children share flesh and blood, then he too shared their humanity."

kekoinwnhken (koinwnew) perf. part. "have" - have a share, part. The participle is probably a periphrastic perfect with the present tense of the verb to-be assumed, expressing durative aspect - ongoing consequences.

ai{matoV (a atoV) gen. "flesh [and blood]" - of flesh [and blood]. The genitives, "flesh and blood", are adjectival, partitive (or of material, Lenski); "since the children have a part of flesh and blood / share in (the material of) flesh and blood." "Since it was flesh and blood which these children shared", Cassirer.

paraplhsiwV adv. "[he] too" - likewise, in like manner. Comparative; "in exactly the same way", Barclay.

metescen (metecw) aor. "he [too] shared" - had a part in. Aorist may indicate an allusion to the incarnation, "he himself participated in their nature", Moffatt.

twn autwn gen. pro. "in their humanity" - of the same things. The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "he too shared ours (ie. our humanity)", NEB.

iJna + subj. "so that ..... [he might destroy]" - Forming a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that", so NIV etc.

dia + gen. "by [death]" - through, by means of [death]. Instrumental, expressing means. "His" is assumed, "through his death."

ton .... econta (ecw) pres. part. "of him who holds [the power]" - the one having [the power, might]. The participle serves as a substantive.

tou qanatou (oV) gen. "of death" - The genitive is adjectival, expressing subordination; "power over death."

tout estin "that is" - "That is to say, the devil", Zerwick.


apallaxh/ (apallassw) aor. subj. "free [those]" - he might set free, liberate [these ones]. Probably forming the second element of the purpose clause introduced in v14, "in order that .... he might put the devil out of commission ..... and also set the children (toutouV, "these", cf. v14) free ...."; "and might also set free", Phillips. "And in this way set free those ...", TEV.

oJsoi pro. "those who" - as many as [by the fear of death].

dia + gen. "-" - though, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means.

tou zhn (zaw) pres. inf. "[all] their lives" -[through all] the living. The articular infinitive here serves as a substantive, the article serving to identify the intended case of the infinitive and so define the instrumental function of the preposition dia + gen.; "through / by means of all their sinful living." The interesting feature is that the attributive adjective pantoV, "all", agrees with the substantive infinitive, a syntactical rarity, cf. BDF#398. "Through the whole of their sinful living they were held in slavery to the fear of death."

douleiaV (a) gen. "[held] in slavery" - [were being a subject] of slavery. Genitive of direct object; when enocoV, "guilty, liable", is followed by a genitive, as here, it takes the sense "subject to", so "subject to slavery." Probably best handled in a figurative way, "lived their whole lives a prey to the fear of death", Phillips. Interestingly, slavery is used of slaves to the law, sin/guilt, ignorance/self and death/Hades, but our writer identifies the slavery to fear and promises freedom from it. If, in the victory of Christ, we are liberated from annihilation, separation from God, then we have nothing to fear in death.

fobw/ (oV) dat. "by their fear [of death]" - by fear [of death]. The dative is instrumental, as NIV, and the genitive "of death" is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting "fear" by specifying.


gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the children are set free, and this because help is going to be offered to Abraham's children rather than angels, given the status of the children in the divine dispensation.

dhpou adv. "surely" - of course, certainly, surely. "It goes without saying / surely it doesn't need to be said"

epilambanetai (epilambanomai) pres. "he helps" - he takes hold of / he takes interest in, assists, helps, cares for. This verb, when expressing the sense "take hold of / catch / grasp", takes a genitive of direct object, but not always so when expressing the sense "take an interest in / help." None-the-less, "help" is surely intended here with aggelwn, "angels", taking the genitive; "he does not take an interest in angels." So also the genitive spermatoV Abraam, "seed of Abraham." The sense "takes hold", "takes to himself", NEB, is the traditional translation, a translation that rests on the idea that Jesus took on human nature when he become a man; "it is plain that for this purpose he did not become an angel; he became a man, in actual fact a descendent of Abraham", Phillips. The sense "helps", TEV, is more widely accepted today. Jesus did not "make himself the angel's champion", Knox; "he helps the offspring of Abraham", ESV.


c) The suffering Christ has atoned for our sins and assists us in our trials, v17-18. To take his brothers along the pathway to salvation, it was necessary for Jesus to be as his brothers; he had to be truly human. The writer to the Hebrews now ties the "pathfinder" role of Christ with that of his priestly role. A high priest must be one with the people he represents before God. This identification enables Christ to be "merciful" toward his brothers - he is able to sympathize with their state and so speak for them. Also, it enables Christ to be a faithful, reliable pathfinder. As the perfect high priest, Christ can "make propitiation for the sins of the people" - atone for our sins and therefore turn aside the judgment that is due us. Having such a pathfinder, such a high priest, who has cut our pathway to eternity, atoned for our sins, assured our salvation and is now reigning in eternity, we have little to fear in the face of life's challenges. Jesus has faced all that we face and more and was victorious. He is therefore well able to aid us in our struggle, aid us in our "time of testing".

oJqen "for this reason" - therefore, for which reason, hence, this being so. Inferential; "therefore", AV.

wfeilen (ofeilw) imperf. "he had" - he/it must, was obligated = it was necessary.

oJmoiwqhnai (oJmoiow) aor. pas. inf. "to be made like" - to become like. The infinitive forms a substantival phrase, subject of the verb "it was necessary"; "to be made like his brothers in every way was necessary."

kata panta "in every way" - Adverbial use of the preposition kata; "in every respect."

iJna + subj. "in order that [he might become]" - that [he might become]. This construction serves to form a final (purpose) clause. "In order to be their merciful and faithful (to God) high priest", TEV.

ta proV ton qeon "in service to God" - the things to God. "The things toward God" / "matters pertaining to God", Attridge, is the literal sense, but is somewhat unclear. Jesus is a high priest whose service to God reflects the divine, particularly in his mercy and faithfulness; he is a "merciful and faithful high priest in all things divine", Moffatt.

eiV to iJlaskesqai (iJleskomai) inf. "that he might make atonement" - to make atonement for. The preposition with the articular infinitive serves to form a purpose clause; Christ's priestly service, in the offering of his own self, is performed "so that" he might........" The meaning of this verb is open to some debate. It can be taken to mean "to be merciful", and thus used here of "sins forgiven, wiped away, blotted out"; "so that the people's sin would be forgiven", TEV. The debate tends to focus on the verb meaning either, "expiation" (make amends for sin) or "propitiation" (turn aside the righteous judgment of God with respect to sin, ie. from the sinner to the sacrifice, namely from the sinner to Christ). Christ's high priestly service either serves to "expiate the sins of the people", NEB, or "make propitiation for the sins of the people", Bruce.

tou laou (oV) gen. "[the sins] of the people" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, although possibly adjectival, possessive, even possibly ablative, source/origin; "so bring forgiveness to the people for their sins", Barclay.


gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal, in the sense of adding more information and so properly left untranslated, as NIV.

en w|/ "because" - The preposition here, followed by a dative pronoun (usually the article tw/), would properly form an adverbial clause of time (temporal), but here more likely circumstantial, "given that / whereas", or even better, causal "because", as NIV.

peponqen (pascw) perf. "he [himself] suffered" - he has suffered. The perfect tense serves to convey the thought of a past act with an ongoing effect.

peirasqeiV (peirazw) perf. pas. part. "when he was tempted" - having been tested, tried, tempted (put to the test by Satan). The participle is obviously adverbial. the NIV takes it as forming a temporal clause, but there are other possibilities, eg. means (instrumental), "it is as he suffered by his temptations", Moffatt, even possibly attendant circumstance identifying action accompanying the verb "suffered", "he himself felt the pain of temptation and suffering", Weymouth. The "test" is not the wilderness temptation, but rather the "test" of the cross. When seemingly abandoned by God, would Jesus curse God? "For since he himself has passed through the test of suffering", NEB.

bohqhsai (bohqew) aor. inf. "[he is able] to help" - The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "he is able."

toiV peirazomenoiV (peirazw) pres. pas. part. "those who are being tempted" - the ones being tempted, tested, tried. The participle serves as a substantive.


Hebrews Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]