Hebrews 2:17
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Wherefore.—Since it is “the seed of Abraham,” His brethren, that He would help.

In all things.—These words must be taken with “made like.” In all respects (the single exception does not come into notice here, see Hebrews 4:15) He must be made like to “the brethren” (a reference to Hebrews 2:12): like them, He must be liable to, and must suffer, temptation, sorrow, pain, death.

That he might be.—Rather, that He might prove, or become (the words imply what is more fully expressed in Hebrews 5:8), a compassionate and faithful High Priest. The high priest was the representative of men to God; without such likeness (see Hebrews 5:1-2) He could be no true High Priest for man. The order of the Greek words throws an emphasis on “compassionate” which is in full harmony with what we have seen to be the pervading tone of the chapter. One who has not so understood the infirmities of his brethren as to be “compassionate,” cannot be their “faithful” representative before God. But the word “faithful” is still more closely connected with the following words. If through the power of sympathy which the Saviour has gained “by sufferings” He becomes “compassionate” as our High Priest, it is through “the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9) that He proves Himself “the faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation (or rather, propitiation) for the sins of the people.” The word “high priest,” hereafter to be so prominent in the Epistle, is brought in somewhat suddenly, but several expressions in this chapter (see also Hebrews 1:3) have prepared for and led up to the crowning thought here brought before us. The characteristic function of the high priest was his presentation of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, that expiation might be made for the sins of the whole people, that the displeasure of God might not rest on the nation on account of sin. (Comp. Hebrews 2:11.) The words rendered “propitiate” and “propitiation” are not of frequent occurrence in the New Testament (Luke 18:13; 1John 2:2; 1John 4:10—see also Romans 3:25), but are very often found in the LXX. The subject receives its full treatment in Hebrews 9, 10.

Hebrews

WHAT BEHOOVED CHRIST

Hebrews 2:17I BRING these words: ‘It behooved Him,’ into connection with similar words in an earlier verse of the chapter, on which I was lately preaching: ‘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.’

In the latter words the sufferings of Jesus Christ and His consequent perfecting for His work of Messiah are considered, in an aspect somewhat unusual with scripture writers, as being in accordance with the divine nature, and worthy of God. ‘He, by whom are all things,’ had no other way of electing His highest purpose of redemption than through the sufferings of Jesus Christ. ‘He, for whom are all things,’ could win men to be for Him only through these sufferings. And so the paradox of the Cross was worthy of God and like Him. In my text the same series of historical facts, the life of Jesus Christ and His death, considered as a whole, are regarded not as worthy of God, but as that which ‘behoved’ Christ, ‘It behooved’ is stronger than ‘it became.’ The one phrase points to the conformity of the thing in question with God’s character and nature; the other declares that the thing in question has in it a moral necessity or obligation, and that Christ’s assimilation to His fellows, especially in all the ills that flesh is heir to, was laid upon Him as a necessity, in view of His purpose of redemption and the helping of His fellows.

So then we have here, in the words which I have read, and in the context, three thoughts on which I touch now. First of all, the completeness of Christ’s assimilation to us, especially in regard to suffering; second, Christ’s sufferings as necessary for the fulfilment of Christ’s design; and lastly and more especially, Christ’s sufferings as indispensable for His priestly office. Now look at these three things briefly.

I. Note, first of all, the emphasis of that expression, ‘it behooved Him to be made in all things like unto His brethren.’

And observe that the ‘all things’ here, concerning which our Lord’s likeness to mankind is predicated, are not the ordinary properties of human nature, but emphatically and specifically man’s sorrows.

That will appear, I think, if you notice that my text is regarded as being a consequence of our Lord’s incarnation for the help of His fellows. ‘He laid not hold upon angels, but He laid hold upon the seed of Abraham.’ Wherefore, ‘in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.’

Now, if the likeness here be the possession of true manhood, then my text is mere tautology, and it would simply be saying, ‘He became a man, wherefore it behoved Him to become a man.’ The same conclusion is, I think, fairly to be deduced from the last words of our chapter, where the fact of His suffering being tempted, is stated as His preparation to help, and as His qualification as a merciful and faithful High Priest. That is to say, the ‘all things’ of which our Lord became partaker like us His brethren, are here the whole mass - in all its variety of pressure and diversity of nauseousness and bitterness - the whole mass of human sorrow which has ever made men’s hearts bleed and men’s eyes weep.

Christ, in His single manhood, says the writer, gathered unto Himself every form of pain, of misery, of weariness, of burden, which can weigh upon and wear out a human spirit; and no single ingredient that ever made any man’s cup distasteful was left out, in that dreadful draught which He emptied to the dregs ere He passed the chalice to our lips, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it.’

This is the great lesson and blessed thought of our text that no suffering soul, no harassed heart, no lonely life, has ever been able to say, ‘Ah! I have to bear this by myself, for Jesus Christ never knew anything like this.’ All the pain and sorrow of adverse circumstances, that try some of us, He knows who had ‘not where to lay His head’; who was a poor man all His days, to whom the women had to minister of their charity, and who depended upon others for His sustenance in life, and for cerements, and a grave in death. The sorrows that belong to a physical frame overwrought and crushed by excessive toil; the sorrows of weakness, of sickness, the pains of death - He understands them all. The sorrows that come from our relations to our fellows, whether they be the hopeless, quiet tears that fall for ever upon broken affections and lost loves, or whether they be the bitter griefs that come from unrequited affections and unappreciated aims, and benefits flung back, and hearts tortured by ingratitude - He knows them all. And the loftier and less selfish, more impersonal, griefs that make so large a portion of the weight and heaviness of the noblest spirits, they all cast their shadows across His pure soul, and the shadow was the deeper and the darker because of the very purity of the soul on which it fell. Purity is ever sad in the presence of foulness; and love is ever sorrowful when bowed with the burden of another’s sorrow; and both these sources of pain and grief, which diffuse their bitterness through the lives of the best men, weighed in all their gravity upon Him who felt the world’s sorrow and the world’s sin as a personal grief because His soul was perfectly unselfish, perfectly pure, perfectly united to God, and therefore perfectly clear- sighted. All the miseries of all men forced themselves into and filled Christ’s heart, Dear brother! you and I have but a drop given to us; He drank the whole cup. Our natures are not capable of sorrow as varied, as deep, as poignant as the sorrow of Jesus Christ; but for each of us surely the assurance comes with some subtle power of consolation and strength, ‘In all their afflictions He was afflicted’; and none of us can ever meet a sorrow with whose face Christ was not familiar, and which He Himself has not conquered for us.

II. So that brings me to the next point suggested here, viz., our Lord’s varied, all-comprehensive sorrow was a necessity imposed upon Him by the purpose which He had in view.

The context gives us that assertion in distinct language. Adopting the improved and accurate rendering of the Revised Version of the previous verse, we read, ‘Verily not of angels doth He take hold, but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham; wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.’

Now the word rendered here, ‘taketh hold,’ is the same word which is employed in the narrative of a very striking incident in the gospels, where the Apostle Peter is ready to sink in the water; and Jesus Christ ‘stretched forth His hand and caught him.’ And that story may serve as an illustration for us of the meaning of the writer here. Here we are all, the whole race of us, exposed to the pelting of the pitiless storm, and ready to sink beneath the waters, and Jesus Christ stretches forth His strong, gentle hand and lays hold of our tremulous and feeble fingers, and keeps us up above the surges which else would overwhelm us.

Now, says my text, no man can help another unless he stand by the side of, and on the level of, that other. ‘He taketh hold, not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham’; and, therefore, He must have a hand like theirs, that can grasp theirs, and which theirs can grasp. Unless the Master had Himself been standing on the heaving surges, and Himself been subjected to the beating of the storm, He could not have revived and held up the sinking disciple.

And so our Lord’s bitter suffering, diffused through life and concentrated on the Cross, was no mere necessary result of His humanity, was not simply borne because, being a Teacher, He must stand to His principles whatever befell Him because of them; but it was a direct result of the purpose He had in view, that purpose being our redemption. Therefore to say, ‘It behoved Him to be made in all things like unto His brethren,’ is but to declare that Christ’s sufferings were no matter of physical necessity, but a matter of moral obligation. He must indeed suffer. But why must He? ‘It behoved Him to he made like unto His brethren’; but why was it obligatory upon Him so to take the bitter bread that we eat, and to drink the water of tears that we drink? For one reason, and for one reason only, because He loved us and willed to save us.

So I beseech you to feel that underlying the bitter necessity which my text speaks about there is the voluntary endurance of Jesus Christ. Ah! we do not think enough about the necessity, all through His life, for a continual repetition of the great act of self-surrender of which His incarnation was the first consequence. At the beginning of His earthly career He emptied Himself, out of love to us; and step by step, and moment by moment, all through His life, there was the continual repetition of the same act. Each one of His sufferings was the direct result of His will at the moment to perfect the work which He came to do. At any instant He might have abandoned it; and that He did not was solely owing to His perennial love. For His own determination to save and succour us was the one cord that bound this sacrifice to the horns of the altar. The Man Christ, at every moment of His life, gave Himself; and as each fresh billow of sorrow rolled above His bowed and compliant head, it rolled because He still willed to save and help His fellows.

This voluntary submission of our Lord to all the sufferings which befell Him because of His determination to come to the help of His brethren ought to make us feel how that whole life of His was one pure efflux of infinite and unspeakable love; and we ought to see in it the gift which ‘became’ the divine mercy indeed, but which also ‘behoved’ the Man Jesus, to the end that all our sorrows may be comforted and all our evil taken away.

We know not, nor ever can know, by what mysterious process the Son learned obedience by the things which He suffered, nor can we understand how it was that the High Priest, who would never have become the High Priest had He not been merciful, became yet more merciful by His own experience o£ human sorrow. But this we know, that somehow the pity, the sympathy of Christ, was deepened by His own life; and we can feel that it is easier for men to lay hold of His sympathy when they think of His sufferings, and to be sure that because in all points He was tempted like as we are, ‘He is able to succour them that are tempted.’ Comfort drops but coldly from lips that have never uttered a sigh or a groan; and for our poor human hearts it is not enough to have a merciful God far off in the heavens. We need a Christ who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ere we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace, assured of there finding grace in time of need.

III. Lastly, we have here the specification of the main purpose of our Lord’s sorrows - ‘that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things appertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.’

That defines more closely what He has to do, if He is to help us, and what He does do when He takes hold of the seed of Abraham. There are but two remarks that I would make on this part of my subject. The one is - let us learn what is the true nature of Christ’s help. It is the help of a priest who comes to offer a sacrifice which takes away the burden and the guilt o£ sin from the world.

Christ’s help is not merely the help of a wise Teacher. Men do not want only teaching. Their need goes far deeper than that. Christ’s help is not only the help of One who declares to His fellows what God is. Men’s needs go deeper than that. Christ’s help is not merely the help of One who sets forth in sweet attractive colours the beauty of holiness and the charm of purity. Men’s needs go deeper than that. We do not only need to know what God is, we need to have our relation to God altered. We do not only need to be told what we ought to do, we need that the past shall be cancelled, and the fatal bias and tendency towards evil within ourselves be taken away. Christ is not the Helper whose help goes down to the depths and the roots of men’s necessity, unless He is Priest as well as Prophet and King. He comes to do something as well as to say something; comes to alter our relations to God, as well as to declare God’s heart to us. In a word, we must say even to Christ, ‘Vain is Thy help, and impotent is Thy grasp, unless Thou dost bring by Thy sufferings reconciliation for the sins of the people.’

And then, notice again how here we have Christ’s priestly office extended over His whole life of suffering. The popular representations of the gospel, and the superficial grasp of it which many good people have, are accustomed to draw a broad line of demarcation between Christ’s life and Christ’s death, and to concentrate the whole of the sacrificial and expiatory character of His work in His death only. My text goes in the other direction. It says that all that long-drawn sorrow which ran through the whole life of Jesus Christ, whilst it culminated in His death, was His sacrifice for the sins of the world. For all sorrow, according to scriptural teaching, is the fruit of sin; and the sinless Christ, who bore the sorrows which He had not earned, in bearing them bore them away.

And though the shell of them and the outward appearance of them may be left, the inward reality and the bitterness of them is gone. It is exactly in reference to the ills of life as it is in reference to the other penalty of sin which consists in death. The outward fact continues, the inward nature is altered. For he who can say, ‘Christ my Lord suffered for me,’ finds that sorrows become solemn joys, and all things work together for good.

The Cross is the climax of His sacrifice, but His whole life is sacrifice and expiation, because His whole life is the life of a sinless ‘Man of sorrows acquainted with grief.’

So, then, we have to look to Him, in all the meek endurance of His life, and in all the mysterious darkness of His death, not merely as the pattern of patience, as the Teacher of the sanctity of sorrow, as the first of the martyrs; but we have to look to Him, and to feel that ‘the Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all.’

Brother, He became like us in our sorrows that we might become like Him in His gladness. Each of us, singly, was in His mind and in His heart when He bowed Himself to the flood of sorrows, and yielded His soul to the Cross of shame. So let us stretch out our poor hands to Him who reaches His tender omnipotent one across the billows, and grasping the hands with the print of the nails, we shall find that we have exchanged portions, and that He who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows has bestowed upon us His gladness, and crowned us with the glory of the blessedness which He had with the Father before the world was.

Hebrews 2:17-18. Wherefore in all things — That essentially pertain to our nature, and in all sufferings and temptations; it behooved him — In respect of the office, duty, and employment he had taken upon him; or it was highly fit and proper, yea, necessary, in order to his design of redeeming them; to be made like his brethren — That is, a mortal man; that — By experience of suffering in himself; he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest Merciful toward sinners, affected with the sorrows and sufferings of others, and the more inclined to pity and relieve them; and faithful toward God, in discharging every other part of his office, as well as in relieving his suffering members. A priest or high-priest, is one who has a right of approaching God, and of bringing others to him. His being faithful is treated of, Hebrews 3:2, &c., with its use: merciful, Hebrews 4:14, &c., with the use also: high-priest, Hebrews 5:4, &c., Hebrews 7:1. The use is added, from Hebrews 10:19. “The Son of God, who made men, no doubt had such a knowledge of their infirmity, as might have rendered him a merciful intercessor, though he had not been made flesh. Yet, considering the greatness of his nature, it might have been difficult for men to have understood this. And therefore, to impress us the more strongly with the belief that he is most affectionately disposed, from sympathy, to succour us when tempted; and, in judging us at the last day, to make every reasonable allowance for the infirmity of our nature, he was pleased to be made like us in all things, and even to suffer by temptations.” In things pertaining to God — That were to be done either for men with God, or for God with men; to make reconciliation for — Or to expiate, as ιλασκεσθαι signifies, the sins of the people — Not the people of the Jews merely, but the people of all nations, whether Jews or Gentiles, who, in repentance and faith, should turn to God. Hence St. John tells us, he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, offering sacrifice and interceding for them, and deriving God’s grace, peace, and blessings upon them. For in that e himself suffered, being tempted — See Hebrews 4:15; he is able — Has a greater fitness and readiness; to succour them that are tempted — And he has given a manifest, demonstrative proof that he is able so to do. Our Lord was not only tempted immediately after his baptism in the wilderness, but his whole life was a continued scene of temptation, as we learn from Luke 22:28 : Ye are they who have continued with me in my temptation. Christ’s temptations, like those of his brethren, arose from the persecutions and sufferings to which he was exposed, as well as from direct attacks of the devil by evil suggestions, such as those mentioned Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.

2:14-18 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 him. And this atonement made way for his people's deliverance from Satan's bondage, and for the pardon of their sins through faith. Let those who dread death, and strive to get the better of their terrors, no longer attempt to outbrave or to stifle them, no longer grow careless or wicked through despair. Let them not expect help from the world, or human devices; but let them seek pardon, peace, grace, and a lively hope of heaven, by faith in Him who died and rose again, that thus they may rise above the fear of death. The remembrance of his own sorrows and temptations, makes Christ mindful of the trials of his people, and ready to help them. He is ready and willing to succour those who are tempted, and seek him. He became man, and was tempted, that he might be every way qualified to succour his people, seeing that he had passed through the same temptations himself, but continued perfectly free from sin. Then let not the afflicted and tempted despond, or give place to Satan, as if temptations made it wrong for them to come to the Lord in prayer. Not soul ever perished under temptation, that cried unto the Lord from real alarm at its danger, with faith and expectation of relief. This is our duty upon our first being surprised by temptations, and would stop their progress, which is our wisdom.Wherefore in all things - In respect to his body; his soul; his rank and character. There was a propriety that he should be like them, and should partake of their nature. The meaning is, that there was a fitness that nothing should be wanting in him in reference to the innocent propensities and sympathies of human nature.

It behoved him - It became him; or there was a fitness and propriety in it. The reason why it was proper, the apostle proceeds to state.

Like unto his brethren - Like unto those who sustained to him the relation of brethren; particularly as he undertook to redeem the descendants of Abraham, and as he was a descendant of Abraham himself, there was a propriety that he should be like them. He calls them brethren; and it was proper that he should show that he regarded them as such by assuming their nature.

That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest -

(1) That he might be "merciful;" that is, compassionate. That he might know how to pity us in our infirmities and trials, by having a nature like our own.

(2) that he might be "faithful;" that is, perform with fidelity all the functions pertaining to the office of high priest. The idea is, that it was needful that he should become a man; that he should experience as we do the infirmities and trials of life, and that by being a man, and partaking of all that pertained to man except his sins, he might feel how necessary it was that there should be "fidelity" in the office of high priest. Here was a race of sinners and sufferers. They were exposed to the wrath of God. They were liable to everlasting punishment. The judgment impended over the race, and the day of vengeance hastened on. "All now depended on the great high priest." All their hope Was in his "fidelity" to the great office which he had undertaken. If he were faithful, all would be safe; if he were unfaithful, all would be lost. Hence, the necessity that he should enter fully into the feelings, fears, and dangers of man; that he should become one of the race and be identified with them, so that he might be qualified to perform with faithfulness the great trust committed to him.

High priest - The Jewish high priest was the successor of Aaron, and was at the head of the ministers of religion among the Jews. He was set apart with solemn ceremonies - clad in his sacred vestments - and anointed with oil; Exodus 29:5-9; Leviticus 8:2. He was by his office the general judge of all that pertained to religion, and even of the judicial affairs of the Jewish nation; Deuteronomy 17:8-12; Deuteronomy 19:17; Deuteronomy 21:5; Deuteronomy 33:9-10. He only had the privilege of entering the most holy place once a year, on the great day of expiation, to make atonement for the sins of the whole people; Leviticus 16:2, etc. He was the oracle of truth - so that when clothed in his proper vestments, and having on the Urim and Thummim, he made known the will of God in regard to future events. The Lord Jesus became in the Christian dispensation what the Jewish high priest was in the old; and an important object of this Epistle is to show that he far surpassed the Jewish high priest, and in what respects the Jewish high priest was designed to typify the Redeemer. Paul, therefore, early introduces the subject, and shows that the Lord Jesus came to perform the functions of that sacred office, and that he was eminently endowed for it.

In things pertaining to God - In offering sacrifice; or in services of a religious nature. The great purpose was to offer sacrifice, and make intercession; and the idea is, that Jesus took on himself our nature that he might sympathize with us; that thus he might be faithful to the great trust committed to him - the redemption of the world. Had he been unfaithful, all would have been lost, and the world would have sunk down to wo.

To make reconciliation - By his death as a sacrifice. The word used here - ἱλάσκομαι hilaskomai - occurs but in one other place in the New Testament Luke 18:13, where it is rendered "God be merciful to me a sinner;" that is, reconciled to me. The noun (ἱλασμός hilasmos - "propitiation") is used in 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10. The word here means properly to "appease," to reconcile, to conciliate; and hence, to "propitiate" as to "sins;" that is, to propitiate God in reference to sins, or to render him propitious. The Son of God became a man, that he might so fully enter into the feelings of the people as to be faithful, and that he might be qualified as a high priest to perform the great work of rendering God propitious in regard to sins. How he did this, is fully shown in the subsequent parts of the Epistle.

17. Wherefore—Greek, "Whence." Found in Paul's speech, Ac 26:19.

in all things—which are incidental to manhood, the being born, nourished, growing up, suffering. Sin is not, in the original constitution of man, a necessary attendant of manhood, so He had no sin.

it behooved him—by moral necessity, considering what the justice and love of God required of Him as Mediator (compare Heb 5:3), the office which He had voluntarily undertaken in order to "help" man (Heb 2:16).

his brethren—(Heb 2:11); "the seed of Abraham" (Heb 2:16), and so also the spiritual seed, His elect out of all mankind.

be, &c.—rather as Greek, "that He might become High Priest"; He was called so, when He was "made perfect by the things which He suffered" (Heb 2:10; Heb 5:8-10). He was actually made so, when He entered within the veil, from which last flows His ever continuing intercession as Priest for us. The death, as man, must first be, in order that the bringing in of the blood into the heavenly Holy Place might follow, in which consisted the expiation as High Priest.

merciful—to "the people" deserving wrath by "sins." Mercy is a prime requisite in a priest, since his office is to help the wretched and raise the fallen: such mercy is most likely to be found in one who has a fellow-feeling with the afflicted, having been so once Himself (Heb 4:15); not that the Son of God needed to be taught by suffering to be merciful, but that in order to save us He needed to take our manhood with all its sorrows, thereby qualifying Himself, by experimental suffering with us, to be our sympathizing High Priest, and assuring us of His entire fellow-feeling with us in every sorrow. So in the main Calvin remarks here.

faithful—true to God (Heb 3:5, 6) and to man (Heb 10:23) in the mediatorial office which He has undertaken.

high priest—which Moses was not, though "faithful" (Heb 2:1-18). Nowhere, except in Ps 110:4; Zec 6:13, and in this Epistle, is Christ expressly called a priest. In this Epistle alone His priesthood is professedly discussed; whence it is evident how necessary is this book of the New Testament. In Ps 110:1-7, and Zec 6:13, there is added mention of the kingdom of Christ, which elsewhere is spoken of without the priesthood, and that frequently. On the cross, whereon as Priest He offered the sacrifice, He had the title "King" inscribed over Him [Bengel].

to make reconciliation for the sins—rather as Greek, "to propitiate (in respect to) the sins"; "to expiate the sins." Strictly divine justice is "propitiated"; but God's love is as much from everlasting as His justice; therefore, lest Christ's sacrifice, or its typical forerunners, the legal sacrifices, should be thought to be antecedent to God's grace and love, neither are said in the Old or New Testament to have propitiated God; otherwise Christ's sacrifices might have been thought to have first induced God to love and pity man, instead of (as the fact really is) His love having originated Christ's sacrifice, whereby divine justice and divine love are harmonized. The sinner is brought by that sacrifice into God's favor, which by sin he had forfeited; hence his right prayer is, "God be propitiated (so the Greek) to me who am a sinner" (Lu 18:13). Sins bring death and "the fear of death" (Heb 2:15). He had no sin Himself, and "made reconciliation for the iniquity" of all others (Da 9:24).

of the people—"the seed of Abraham" (Heb 2:16); the literal Israel first, and then (in the design of God), through Israel, the believing Gentiles, the spiritual Israel (1Pe 2:10).

It behoved him: the last reason why God the Son assumed and united the human nature in the seed of Abraham to his person, and was by it made like his brethren, and for a little while lower than the angels, was, that he might be capable to receive and execute the office of priesthood, by which reconciliation of sinners to God was to be effected: for he could neither be a sacrifice nor priest without it. ’ Wfeile signifies not only its being necessary, but becoming, meet, convenient, and right, both on the account of his mediatorship, suretiship, priesthood, and of his very work, considering the two parties whose cause he was to manage. It was fit this Person should be God, that he might be just to God, and satisfy him; Adam had betrayed God’s interest before, he would not therefore rely on a mere man: and man, that he might feelingly understand the state of that nature, and be a complete Saviour of it, Zechariah 13:7. By this Person God had no unfitness nor disparagement in treating with sinners, which in a mere creature he would. For what creature could have mediated with him? Who durst undertake it, but this Son of his in their nature, whose heart he engaged to it? Jeremiah 30:21. And fittest for man, he being near in nature to us, and coming out of the midst of us, and by it communicating the benefit of his mediation to us. The intention of Christ’s merits arise from his sufficiency, but the extension of them from his proper personal fitness, and so reneweth men of the same nature with him, and not angels.

To be made like unto his brethren; a man having a true body and soul like them in every thing, which was necessary to make him a complete Redeemer; agreeable to them in all things necessary to their nature, qualities, conditions, and affections; like them in sorrows, griefs, pains, death.

Merciful; knowing and sensible of the misery of sinners on the account of sin, pain, and loss, and so inwardly touched with them, as compassionately and effectually to relieve them. How transcendent are his bowels of mercy, pity, and compassion to them! Alas, man and angels cannot reach it! Isaiah 53:3,4 63:9. If he should be otherwise the least moved, and desert their cause, or accuse or plead against them, what a world of them must perish for ever! He tells the Jews so much, Hebrews 8:12; compare John 5:45. A Moses may miscarry in his mediatorship, and did so, Exodus 32:19; but he can never, he is always merciful.

And faithful; he is faithful also to penitent believers, as well as to God. They may safely trust themselves and their cause with him, and depend on him, he will never deceive them. He will satisfy God fully, and give him his due, and discharge that trust reposed on him. And to souls relying on him, he will go through his work, performing all, till they reach that for which they trusted him, Isaiah 11:5 1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24.

High Priest; an officer that was to order sacrifice, and all matters wherein God was concerned, according to his written law and rule. This priest must be a man; and a partnership in our conditions, both of temptations and miseries, must qualify him for it. Of this office he treats largely in Hebrews 7:1-10:39. Amongst the officers of this kind he is the prime, chief, and head of all that ever God had, and hath in his person performed and fullfilled what all of them in theirs did but weakly shadow forth. He was actually in the flesh installed in it, of which hereafter.

In things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: the compass of his business lieth in all Divine matters, all those wherein sinners are concerned with God, Hebrews 5:1; satisfaction, intercession, and blessing, are his great concerns. His principal work is to bring God and sinners together; ilaskesyai properly signifieth to make one propitious or gracious to another by sacrifice. This High Priest, by the sacrifice of himself, satisfied God’s justice, removed his wrath, procured his pardon as to all sins of omission or commission, however aggravated, for penitent, believing sinners; and so makes God and them friends, and fits them for communion with him here, and for the enjoyment of him for ever, 2 Corinthians 5:19,21.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren,.... The adopted sons of God, who were brethren before Christ's incarnation, being from all eternity predestinated to the adoption of children: Christ's incarnation was in time, and after that many of the brethren existed; and it was only for their sakes that he assumed human nature; and therefore it was proper he should be like them in that nature, in all things: in all the essentials of it; it was not necessary that he should have it by natural generation; nor that it should have a subsistence in itself as theirs: and in all the properties and affections of it, that are, not sinful; for it did not behove him to be like them in sin, nor in sickness, and in diseases of the body: and in all temptations; though in some things his differ from theirs; none of his arose from within; and those from without could make no impression on him: and in sufferings, that there might be a conformity between the head and members; though there is in some things a difference; his sufferings were by way of punishment, and were attended with wrath, and were meritorious, which cannot be said of theirs; but that he should have an human nature, as to its essence and perfection, like to theirs, was necessary: it was proper he should be truly and really man, as well as truly God,

that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest; he could not be an high priest, offer sacrifice for sin, and make intercession, unless he was man; nor could he be a "merciful" and compassionate one, sympathize with his people in their sorrows, temptations, and sufferings, unless he was like them in these; nor would he be a "faithful", that is, a true and lawful one otherwise, because every high priest is taken from among men:

in things pertaining to God; in things in which God has to do with his people, as to preside in his name over them, to declare his will unto them, and bless them; and in things in which the people have to do with God, to offer to God a sacrifice for their sins, to present this sacrifice to him, to appear in his presence for them, to carry in their petitions, and plead their cause as their advocate:

to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; of God's covenant people, the people he has chosen for himself, and given to his Son; and whom Christ saves from their sins, by making satisfaction for them, to the law and justice of God, which is here meant by reconciliation: and in order to this, which could not be done without blood, without sufferings and death, it was proper he should be man, and like unto his brethren: the allusion seems to be to the two goats on the day of atonement, one of which was to be slain, and the other let go; which were to be, as the Jews say (p), "alike", in colour, in stature, and in price; and so were the birds to be alike in the same things, that were used at the cleansing of the leper (q): and the Jews tell us (r), that the high priest was to be greater than his brethren, in beauty, in strength, in wisdom, and in riches; all which is true of Christ.

(p) Misna Yoma, c. 6. sect. 1.((q) Misna Negaim, c. 14. sect. 5. (r) T. Bab. Horayot, fol. 9. 1. Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 1.

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

(16) He applies the same to the priesthood, for which he would not have been suited, unless he had become man, and like us in all things, sin being the exception.

(d) Not only concerning nature, but qualities too.

(e) That he might be truly touched with the feeling of our miseries.

(f) Doing his office sincerely.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 2:17. Inference from Hebrews 2:16, and consequently a reverting to the main statement in Hebrews 2:14.

ὅθεν] wherefore, sc. on account of the essential constitution of those to be redeemed, as indicated in Hebrews 2:16. The particle ὅθεν is of very frequent occurrence in the Epistle to the Hebrews (comp. Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 8:3, Hebrews 9:18, Hebrews 11:19). In Paul’s writings, on the other hand, it is nowhere met with.

ὤφειλεν] He ought. Expression, not of the necessity founded in the decree of God (cf. ἔδει, Luke 24:26), but of that founded in the nature of the case itself, comp. Hebrews 5:3; Hebrews 5:12.

κατὰ πάντα] in all respects. Chrysostom: τί ἐστι κατὰ πάντα; ἐτέχθη, φησίν, ἐτράφη, ηὐξήθη, ἔπαθε πάντα ἅπερ ἐχρῆν, τέλος ἀπέθανεν. Theodoret: Ὁμοίως γὰρ ἡμῖν καὶ τροφῆς μετέλαβε καὶ πόνον ὑπέμεινε καὶ ἠθύμησε καὶ ἐδάκρυσε καὶ θάνατον κατεδέξατο.

ὁμοιωθῆναι] is not: “to be made the same or equal” (Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 33; Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, al.), but expresses, as always, the notion of resemblance. Christ was in all things similar to men, His brethren, inasmuch as He had assumed a truly human nature; He was distinguished from them, however, by His absolute sinlessness. Comp. Hebrews 4:15.

ἐλεήμων] merciful, full of compassion for the sufferings of the ἀδελφοί, may be taken by itself (Luther, Grotius, Böhme, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Tholuck, Woerner [after Peshito, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions]), but also as πιστός, may be taken with ἀρχιερεύς (Owen, Bengel, Cramer, Storr, Stuart, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm, p. 330; Alford, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann). In the former case, which, on account of the position of the words, seems more natural, καί denotes “and in consequence thereof,” so that ἐλεήμων indicates the quality, the possession of which fits him to become a πιστὸς ἀρχιερεύς

πιστὸς] faithful, so fulfilling His high-priestly office as to satisfy the requirements of those to be reconciled.

τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν] with regard to the affairs of God, or: with regard to the cause of God. Comp. Hebrews 5:1; Romans 15:17.

ἱλάσκεσθαι] middle voice.

τοῦ λαοῦ] of the people (of Israel, Hebrews 13:12), see on Hebrews 2:16.

The idea of the high-priesthood of Christ here first comes out in this epistle. From Hebrews 4:14 onwards it is unfolded in detail. It is disputed, however, at what point our author thought of the high-priestly office of Christ as beginning, whether even on earth, with His death on the cross (so Cramer, Winzer, de sacerdotis officio, quod Christo tribuitur in ep. ad Hebr., Lips. 1825, Comment. I. p. vi. sq.; de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, and others), or only after the return to the Father; in such wise that, according to the view of the author, the offering of His own body upon the earth, and the entering with His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary, is to be regarded only as the inauguration of Christ to His high-priestly dignity, this dignity itself, however, beginning only with the moment when Christ, in accordance with Psalm 110:1, sat down at the right hand of God the Father, Hebrews 8:1 (so Bleek and Kurtz, after the precedent of Faustus Socinus, Schlichting [Whitby], Griesbach, Opusc. II. p. 436 sq.; Schulz, p. 83 f., and others). It is certainly undeniable that the author in the course of his epistle very strongly accentuates the high-priesthood of Christ (comp. Hebrews 5:9 f., Hebrews 6:19 f., Hebrews 7:24-26, Hebrews 8:4, Hebrews 9:24). But the polemic against readers who thought they could not dispense with the ritual of the Jewish sacrifice of atonement for the attainment of salvation, naturally led him to insist with emphasis on the superiority of Christ as the heavenly High Priest over the Jewish high priests as the merely earthly ones. Since now, on the other side, it is equally undeniable that the author places the voluntary sacrificial death of Christ, and the entering with His blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies,—as the two inseparable acts of the same proceeding,—in parallel with the slaying of the sacrificial victim, and the entering of the earthly high priest with the sacrificial blood into the earthly Holy of Holies, and looks upon the sins of men as completely expiated by the sacrificial death of Christ itself (comp. Hebrews 2:14 f., Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:11-14; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 13:12), there can be no room for doubt, that according to the mind of our author the investiture of Christ with the high-priestly dignity had already begun on earth, from the time of His death; and the representation of mankind in the presence of God is to be thought of as the continued administration of the high-priestly office already entered upon. So in substance also Riehm (comp. the detailed discussion by this writer, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 466–481); although it is certainly not in accordance with the view of the writer of the epistle, when Riehm afterwards (like Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 63 f., 2 Aufl.) supposes a distinction is to be made between Christ as High Priest and Christ as High Priest after the manner of Melchisedec, in that he represents Christ as having become the former by virtue of that which He did during the days of His flesh, as well as on His entrance into the heavenly Holy of Holies, and the latter only by virtue of His exaltation to God, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us.

Hebrews 2:17. ὅθεν [six times in this Epistle; not used by Paul, but cf. Acts 26:19] ‘wherefore,’ because He makes the seed of Abraham the object of His saving work, ὤφειλεν, “He was under obligation”. ὀφείλω is “used of a necessity imposed either by law and duty, or by reason, or by the times, or by the nature of the matter under consideration” (Thayer). Here it was the nature of the case which imposed the obligation κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι “to be made like His brothers in all respects,” and therefore, as Chrysostom says, ἐτέχθη, ἐτράφη, ηὐξήθη, ἔπαθε πάντα ἅπερ ἐχρῆν, τέλος ἀπέθανη. He must be a real man, and not merely have the appearance of one. He must enter into the necessary human experiences, look at things from the human point of view, take His place in the crowd amidst the ordinary elements of life. ἵνα introduces one purpose which this thorough incarnation was to serve. It would put Christ in a position to sympathise with the tempted and thus incline Him to make propitiation for the sins of the people. [τοῦ λαοῦ, also a restricted Jewish designation.] The High-Priesthood is here first mentioned, and it is mentioned as an office with which the readers were familiar. The writer does not now enlarge upon the office or work of the Priest, but merely points to one radical necessity imposed by priesthood, “making propitiation for the sins of the people”; and he affirms that in order to do this (εἰς τὸ) he must be merciful and faithful. ἐλεήμων as well as πιστὸς is naturally construed with ἀρχιερεὺς, and has its root in Exodus 22:27, ἐλεήμων γάρ εἰμι, the priest must represent the Divine mercy; he must also be πιστὸς, primarily to God, as in Hebrews 3:2, but thereby faithful to men and to be trusted by them in the region in which he exercises his function, τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, the whole Godward relations of men. The expression is directly connected with ἀρχιερεὺς, by implication with πιστὸς, and it is found in Exodus 18:19, γίνου σὺ τῷ λαῷ τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν. For neat analogies cf. Wetstein. εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι, “for the purpose of making propitiation,” εἰς indicating the special purpose to be served by Christ’s becoming Priest. ἱλάσκομαι (ἱλάσκω is not met with), from ἵλαος, Attic ἵλεως “propitious,” “merciful,” means “I render propitious to myself”. In the classics it is followed by the accusative of the person propitiated, sometimes of the anger felt. In the LXX it occurs twelve times, thrice as the translation of כִּפֵּר. The only instance in which it is followed by an accusative of the sin, as here, is Psalms 64 (65):3, τὰς ἀσεβείας ἡμῶν σὺ ἱλάσῃ. In the N.T., besides the present passage, it only occurs in Luke 18:13, in the passive form ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ, cf. 2 Kings 5:18. The compound form ἐξιλάσκομαι, although it does not occur in N.T., is more frequently used in the LXX than the simple verb, and from its construction something may be learnt. As in profane Greek, it is followed by an accusative of the person propitiated, as in Genesis 32:20, where Jacob says of Esau ἐξιλάσομαι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς δώροις κ.τ.λ.; Zechariah 7:2, ἐξιλάσασθαι τὸν Κύριον, and Zechariah 8:22, τὸ πρόσωπον Κυρίου, also Matthew 1:9. It is however also followed by an accusative of the thing on account of which propitiation is needed or which requires by some rite or process to be rendered acceptable to God, as in Sir 3:3; Sir 3:30; Sir 5:6; Sir 20:28, etc., where it is followed by ἀδικίαν, and ἁμαρτίας; and in Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:20; Leviticus 16:33, where it is followed by τὸ ἅγιον, τὸ θυσιαστήριον, and in Ezekiel 45:20 by τὸν οἶκον. At least thirty-two times in Leviticus alone it is followed by περί, defining the persons for whom propitiation is made, περὶ αὐτοῦ ἐξιλάσεται ὁ ἱερεύς or περὶ πάσης συναγωγῆς, or περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑμῶν. In this usage there is apparent a transition from the idea of propitiating God (which still survives in the passive ἱλάσθητι) to the idea of exerting some influence on that which was offensive to God and which must be removed or cleansed in order to complete entrance into His favour. In the present passage it is τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ which stand in the way of the full expression of God’s favour, and upon those therefore the propitiatory influence of Christ is to be exerted. In what manner precisely this is to be accomplished is not yet said. “The present infinitive ἱλάσκεσθαι must be noticed. The one (eternal) act of Christ (c. x. 12–14) is here regarded in its continuous present application to men (cf. c. Hebrews 2:1-2),” Westcott. (See further on ἱλάσκεσθαι in Blass, Gram., p. 88; Deissmann’s Neue Bibelstud., p. 52; and Westcott’s Epistle of St. John, pp. 83–85.) τοῦ λαοῦ the historical people of God, Abraham’s seed; cf. Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 4:9; Hebrews 13:12.

17. Wherefore] The Greek word ὅθεν, “whence,” common in this Epistle, does not occur once in St Paul, but is found in Acts 26:19, in a report of his speech, and in 1 John 2:18.

in all things] These words should be taken with “to be made like.”

it behoved him] Stronger than the “it became Him” of Hebrews 2:10. It means that, with reference to the object in view, there lay upon Him a moral obligation to become a man with men. See Hebrews 5:1-2.

that he might be] Rather, “that he might become” or, “prove Himself.”

a merciful and faithful high priest] Merciful, or rather, “compassionate” to men; “faithful” to God. In Christ “mercy and truth” have met together. Psalm 85:10. The expression “a faithful priest” is found in 1 Samuel 2:35. Dr Robertson Smith well points out that the idea of “a merciful priest,” which is scarcely to be found in the O.T., would come home with peculiar force to the Jews of that day, because mercy was a quality in which the Aaronic Priests had signally failed (Yoma, f. 9. 1), and in the Herodian epoch they were notorious for cruelty, insolence and greed (see my Life of Christ, ii. 329, 330). The Jews said that there had been no less than 28 High Priests in 107 years of this epoch (Jos. Antt. xx. 10) their brief dignity being due to their wickedness (Proverbs 10:27). The conception of the Priesthood hitherto had been ceremonial rather than ethical; yet it is only “by mercy and truth” that “iniquity is purged.” Proverbs 16:6. The word “High Priest,” here first introduced, has evidently been entering into the writer’s thoughts (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 2:16), and is the most prominent conception throughout the remainder of the Epistle. The consummating steps in genuine high priesthood are touched upon in Hebrews 5:10, Hebrews 6:20, Hebrews 9:24.

high priest] The Greek word is comparatively new. In the Pentateuch the high priest is merely called “the Priest” (except in Leviticus 21:10). In later books of Scripture the epithet “head” or “great” is added. The word occurs 17 times in this Epistle, but not once in any other.

in things pertaining to God] Comp. Hebrews 5:1. The phrase is found in the LXX. of Exodus 18:19.

to make reconciliation for the sins of the people] More literally, “to expiate the sins of the people.” Christ is nowhere said in the N. T. to “expiate” or “propitiate” God or “the wrath of God” (which are heathen, not Christian, conceptions), nor is any such expression found in the LXX. Nor do we find such phrases as “God was propitiated by the death of His Son,” or “Christ propitiated the wrath of God by His blood.” God Himself fore-ordained the propitiation (Romans 3:25). The verb represents the Hebrew kippeer, “to cover,” whence is derived the name for the day of Atonement (Kippurim). In Daniel 9:24 Theodotion’s version has ἐξιλάσαθαι ἀδικίας. We are left to unauthorised theory and conjecture as to the manner in which and the reason for which “expiation,” in the form of “sacrifice,” interposes between “sin” and “wrath.” All we know is that, in relation to us, Christ is “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Romans 3:25). Accepting the blessed result as regards ourselves we shall best shew our wisdom by abstaining from dogmatism and theory respecting the unrevealed and transcendent mystery as it affects God.

the people] Primarily the Jewish people, whom alone the writer has in mind. Angels, so far as we are told, did not need the Redemptive work.

Hebrews 2:17. Ὅθεν) The particle ὅθεν occurs six times in this epistle, but never in the epistles to which the apostle has affixed his name; and yet it occurs in Paul’s speech, Acts 26:19.—ὤφειλε, it behoved Him) A grand expression, ch. Hebrews 5:3. It behoved Him from the relationship of consanguinity, and because He had undertaken it in the Old Testament, Hebrews 2:12-13. He now exhibits greater confidence in the tone of his speaking; comp. Hebrews 2:11, He is not ashamed.—κατὰ πάντα, in all things) in all sufferings and temptations.—τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, to His brethren) Hebrews 2:11.—ὁμοιωθῆναι, to be made like) This is a recapitulation of those things which precede. The sum of those which follow is immediately added.—ἵνα, that) The apostle thrice glances at the High Priesthood, till he comes to its full discussion, ch. 7. He touches upon it in three successive steps. I. He ought to be made like to His brethren, THAT He might BECOME a merciful and faithful High Priest, in the passage before us. II. HE WAS CALLED a High Priest at the time when He was made perfect; ch. Hebrews 5:10. III. He was MADE High Priest when He entered into that which is within the veil; ch. Hebrews 6:20; and when this entrance was made once for all, He always, as a Priest for us, presents Himself before the face of God; ch. Hebrews 9:24.—ἐλεήμων, merciful) This word, as well as πιστὸς, faithful, is construed with ἀρχιερεὺς, high priest; ch. Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 5:2. He was made merciful to the people labouring under sins: πιστὸς, faithful, so far as GOD is concerned. There is a Chiasmus here.[22] We have the Priest and the High Priest, who has the right of drawing near and of bringing men to God. The word faithful is treated of, ch. Hebrews 3:2, with the addition of the practical application: the word ἐλεήμων, merciful, ch. Hebrews 4:14, etc., with the practical application also added: the word ἀρχιερεὺς, High Priest, is treated of, ch. Hebrews 5:4-5, Hebrews 7:1-2, with the practical application added, ch. Hebrews 10:19. The proposition or statement of many things at Romans 1:16 (where see the note), very much resembles this. Of these three points, one, ἐλεήμων, merciful, is put before γένηται, that He might become, because it is deduced from what was previously said. The other two are properly connected together, because they come to be treated of afterwards along with the first. But the word merciful, and, conjointly with it, faithful High Priest, elegantly have in this proposition a rather absolute signification, because again (in turn) the subsequent discussion contemplates faithfulness without the priesthood in the case of Moses, and mercy with the priesthood in the case of Aaron. First, Jesus is merciful. No one can suppose that Jesus had more mercy before He suffered, and that now He has more severity. Only let us now flee (escape) from the wrath of the Lamb, which is even yet to come.—Ἀρχιερεὺς) High Priest. The Latin Pontifex was so called from the fact, that he built a bridge at Rome, or sacrificed on a bridge; and the pontifex, ἱερεὺς, was either alone or with others; but the ἈΡΧΙΕΡΕῪς, high priest (pontifex maximus), was exalted above the others, over whom he presided. In the Evangelists and Acts, where the Jewish high priests are frequently mentioned, the term pontiff (pontifex), used by the Vulgate and other translations, will not, I think, offend any one; but in this epistle, in which Christ is the principal subject, I do not know whether that term may be as well suited to the style of Paul as to the institutions of Numa. At least Seb. Schmidius uses it with reluctance, and occasionally substitutes for it chief priest (princeps sacerdos); but a single word is better, especially when other epithets are added, as here merciful and faithful; for we cannot conveniently say, ch. Hebrews 4:14, a great chief (greatest) pontiff (pontificem maximum magnum). High priest (archisacerdos) is the most convenient term which the learned have long used, and which sounds as well as archigubernus, in the writings of Jabolenus, archiflamen, archipræsul, archipontifex, and various other terms, which Vossius stigmatizes in his work, De vitiis Latini Sermonis, p. 371, and some other writers. With respect to the subject now before us, this glorious title of High Priest occurs presently again, ch. Hebrews 3:1. But nowhere, except in the 110th Psalm, and Zechariah 6:13, and in this epistle, is Christ expressly called a Priest; and it is only in this epistle that the priesthood of Christ is professedly discussed. Whence it is evident, how extraordinary in its character, and how necessary, is this book of the New Testament. However, in all these passages, which are even of the Old Testament, there is added the mention of the kingdom, which is oftener spoken of elsewhere without the priesthood. Nay, on the Cross, on which this Priest offered His sacrifice, He had the title (inscription) of King. The priesthood, as well as the kingdom, is appropriate (belongs fittingly) to this First-begotten.—τὰ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, towards God) So ch. Hebrews 5:1.—εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι) to make atonement or reconciliation.—τὰς ἁμαρτίας, the sins) which bring death and the fear of it.—τοῦ λαοῦ, of the people) the people, whom he called the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16. He Himself knew no sin. He made atonement for the sins of the people, Isaiah 53:8.

[22] Ἐλεήμων (1) referring to λαοῦ (4): and πιστὸς (2) to Θεόν (3).—ED.

Hebrews 2:17Wherefore (ὅθεν)

oP. Often in Hebrews.

In all things to be made like unto his brethren (κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι)

Comp. Philippians 2:7, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος having become in the likeness of men. Likeness is asserted without qualification. There was a complete and real likeness to humanity, a likeness which was closest just where the traces of the curse of sin were most apparent - in poverty, temptation, and violent and unmerited death.

It behooved (ὤφειλεν)

Indicating an obligation growing out of the position which Christ assumed: something which he owed to his position as the helper of his people.

That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest (ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς)

Rend. that he might be compassionate, and so (in consequence of being compassionate), a faithful high priest. The keynote of the Epistle, the high-priesthood of Christ, which is intimated in Hebrews 1:3, is here for the first time distinctly struck. Having shown that Christ delivers from the fear of death by nullifying the accusing power of sin, he now shows that he does this in his capacity of high priest, for which office it was necessary that he should be made like unto his human brethren. In the O.T. economy, the fear of death was especially connected with the approach to God of an impure worshipper (see Numbers 18:3, Numbers 18:5). This fear was mitigated or removed by the intervention of the Levitical priest, since it was the special charge of the priest so to discharge the service of the tabernacle that there might be no outbreak of divine wrath on the children of Israel (Numbers 18:5).Γένηται might show himself to be, or prove to be. The idea of compassion as an attribute of priests is not found in the O.T. On the contrary, the fault of the priests was their frequent lack of sympathy with the people (see Hosea 4:4-9). In the later Jewish history, and in N.T. times, the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees was notoriously unfeeling and cruel. The idea of a compassionate and faithful high priest would appeal powerfully to Jewish readers, who knew the deficiency of the Aaronic priesthood in that particular. Πιστὸς faithful, as an attribute of a priest, appears in 1 Samuel 2:35. The idea there is fidelity. He will do all that is in God's mind. Comp. Hebrews 3:2. This implies trustworthiness. The idea here is, faithful in filling out the true ideal of the priesthood (Hebrews 5:1, Hebrews 5:2), by being not a mere ceremonialist but a compassionate man.

In things pertaining to God (τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν)

Comp. Romans 15:17. A technical phrase in Jewish liturgical language to denote the functions of worship. Const. with a faithful high priest, not with compassionate.

To make reconciliation (εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεθαι)

See on propitiation, Romans 3:25. The verb only here and Luke 18:13.

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