Written by 11:52 am Bible Studies, Hebrews • One Comment

He Made Himself Like Us – Hebrews 2:5-18

So far in this journey through Hebrews, we’ve talked a lot about the superiority of the Son to the angels. That theme continues through the remainder of chapter two, but it begins to transition. While there are a few points I’ll hit upfront about angels, I’m going to spend most of our time focusing on the transitional thoughts, which focus on the incarnation. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so this introduction is officially over. Let’s go.

The World to Come

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
– Hebrews 2:5-9 (ESV)

Remember in 2:1-4 when we were told to pay close attention? Verse five rides the wave that imperative created. For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come. Here is another reason to pay closer attention. The world to come has been subjected to the Son, not the angels. But then the author takes a turn back to Psalm 8:4-6. The Psalmist, in his context, was speaking of how the LORD had placed humanity in a unique place of authority. Made inferior to the heavenly beings, yet given dominion over creation, the Psalmist pondered the mystery, but He didn’t have the fullest perspective. The author takes the Psalmist’s ponderings and applies them to the Son. This is the fullness of Psalm 8:4-6. The son of Man, Jesus, completes the picture. Jesus Christ is the incarnation.

The author notes in verse 8 that we still don’t see everything in subjection to him. That draws attention to the already-but-not-yet nature of the world as it is. If you recall, in the rabbit hole post I made about the divine council, at the tower of Babel, the LORD subjected the nations to the sons of God. Fast-forward to Matthew 28:18.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
– Matthew 28:18 (ESV)

Christ’s death and resurrection took back the authority the LORD gave to the sons of God. It was the reversal of Babel. Yet, Paul tells us very clearly in Ephesians 6:12 that the rebelling sons of God aren’t going down without a fight.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
– Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

So, though Christ has been given all authority in heaven and earth, we have not arrived at the state where all of His enemies have been made His footstool. He already reigns, but His enemies are not yet completely subdued. When will this happen? Actually, that’s an eschatological question that deserves its own post. Look for it in the coming weeks. But for now, suffice it to say that the new heavens and new earth will be completely subjected to Jesus Christ, the Son.

The Sanctifier and The Sanctified

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
– Hebrews 2:10-13 (ESV)

In verse ten, the author reveals his Trinitarian understanding of the LORD. The he in verse ten is the Father because it is he who perfects the founder of our salvation, Jesus, through suffering. This is yet another verse that can be misunderstood if it’s cherry-picked out of the context we’ve been covering. The author doesn’t mean that Christ was lacking perfection before the incarnation. Rather, the incarnation was the final step in revealing the fullest expression of the Son’s glory. Christ’s enthronement as Son of Man unveiled the mystery of the son for all to see, and it could only be done through the suffering of the incarnation.

Therefore, verse eleven. The sanctifier and the sanctified all have one source: the Father. The LORD’s triunity isn’t always crystal clear to us, but there are aspects that the Scriptures do reveal. Though each Person of the LORD is co-equal, co-powerful, and co-eternal – meaning each Person is fully God – the eternal plan of the LORD gives each Person of God a role to play in the redemption of all things. What appears, on the surface, to be a hierarchy is the outworking of the divine roles each Person of the LORD agreed to take. So the Father subjected His Son to suffering so that as the Son of Man, He would be crowned with glory and honor and have everything subjected to Him in the world to come. In doing this, through the Son, He brings many sons to glory. That’s us! And He sanctifies us through the Son.

Now, if you’re a student of Scripture, you might wonder about the role of the Spirit in sanctification. Elsewhere in the Word, the Spirit is clearly portrayed as the one who sets us apart. Sanctify means to set apart. Consider Romans 8:9-13 where Paul paints the picture that it is the Holy Spirit who sets us apart as believers.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
– Romans 8:9-11 (ESV)

Who sanctifies us? Christ or the Spirit? Answer: both. Christ sanctifies us by His blood through the forgiveness of our sins and the transfer of His righteousness to us. That is a once and for all act of sanctification before the Father. It’s why Paul could also write that we are already seated with Christ in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6). The Holy Spirit sanctifies us in real-time as we work out our faith. His sanctifying ministry is for our earthly journey, making us more like Christ day by day. He sanctifies us and sets us apart from the world, making us peculiar people among the nations. However, the author’s purpose here wasn’t to give a comprehensive teaching on sanctification. He was highlighting the sanctifying work of Christ to support his next thought.

He unashamedly sanctifies us for our inclusion into God’s divine family council. I know I keep coming back to the whole council idea, but it’s something I cannot unsee in the Scriptures. We will rule with Him. I’ve been reminded of this recently in a different book. Look at this verse from Revelation chapter 19.

14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
– Revelation 19:14 (ESV)

The armies of heaven are God’s redeemed human family returning with Him. Look at what we’re wearing and what we’re riding. We’re wearing white robes and riding white horses.  White is symbolic of several things in Scripture, one of which is victors. The white horse particularly symbolizes authority. In Revelation 6, the first horseman conquers on a white horse. It’s widely understood that it symbolizes human government. Christ returns on a white horse to usher in HIS government. We return with Him on white horses as well, to co-rule with Him in His government.

Therefore, when the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18, he repurposed them. Christ puts His trust in the Father’s plan to redeem a family of human siblings with whom He will stand in solidarity and give authority to rule with Him.

Just for a moment, consider your salvation. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why did God save me?” Have you given much thought to what God’s purpose in saving us happens to be? Family, we just read part of the answer. What God wants is a family who will rule with Him. From the beginning, He was sharing authority with His creations. He gave Adam and Eve dominion over all the earth. Part of the reason He has troubled Himself (I say that, knowing that nothing is difficult for Him) with redeeming humanity is that He wants to share His rule with us. Whenever I ponder this, the Spirit always reminds me of this to keep my ego in check:

27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
– 1 Corinthians 1:27 (ESV)

He didn’t choose us because we’re special, but instead because we’re uniquely not special. We are foolish, unwise, and weak, but He delighted in choosing us for His ruling family. In that way, no one can boast before Him that they brought something to the table or that they had something the LORD needed. We’re in His family because there was nothing about us that distinguished us as worthy.


Made Like Us

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
– Hebrews 2:14-18 (ESV)

Verses fourteen and fifteen are one sentence, so let’s deal with them as a whole. The author began his concluding thoughts on the Son’s superiority to angels by zooming in on why the Son became human. We – the children – are flesh and blood; therefore, He – Jesus – took on the same things. Why was that necessary? Why couldn’t redemption be accomplished by fiat instead of incarnation? There are two parts to the answer. First: that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.


Now would be a great moment to consider that your salvation has a purpose that goes far beyond yourself. God saves sinners because He loves us and desires that no one should perish, yet that is not His only motivation. Personally, I’m quite confident if the LORD has a sticky note that lists His motivations for saving people, His love for us isn’t in the number one position. That doesn’t diminish His love for us at all, but it does mean He has higher and greater reasons for saving people. What is God’s first purpose in redemption? To glorify Himself through the destruction of Satan and his fellow rebels. How? Through the death and resurrection of Christ, whereby men and women might receive forgiveness and redemption by grace through faith in Him. Every person born again is another soul ripped from the grip of Satan. And those whom the LORD saves – His church – will become exhibit A in the LORD’s case against those who rebelled against Him.

10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
– Ephesians 3:10 (ESV)

It’s even somewhat prioritized in this order in the author’s own words. First, Christ came to defeat the devil, then, as a result, men and women would be set free from lifelong slavery. Slavery to what? How did the fear of death enslave us? The author is referring to how humanity has been enslaved to the power of sin, death, and ultimately under the rule of the Devil and his kingdom of darkness. So the primary goal, the defeat of Satan, results in freedom for anyone who calls on the name of the LORD for salvation.

Now, part two of the answer: If Christ is to call us brothers and stand in solidarity with us in God’s council, then He had to become one of us. Note verse sixteen: it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. This is worthy of some thought. First of all, who qualifies for salvation? Those who believe by faith (Romans 5:1). As far as I can tell, this is the primary reason that angels cannot be redeemed. They have seen Him since they were created. Therefore, since we are justified by faith, those who have seen Him and still rebel can never be saved. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to Him as righteousness. So, for those who are the offspring – of the same faith – of Abraham, Jesus helps them.

How does He help? Saving them? Yes, but His work on His siblings’ behalf doesn’t end at the cross. In verse seventeen, the author drops his first reference to Christ’s ongoing ministry as our High Priest. He had to be made like us so that His High Priestly work would be effective. We’re saved, but we’re still going to sin. We’re still going to have issues and problems, and we’re still going to say and do things that don’t resonate with our identity as God’s family. He intercedes for us because – to borrow a controversial phrase – He gets us. He endured the suffering of His human life so that He could, in turn, be merciful and faithful toward us when we behave faithlessly.

The author is going to spend a great deal of time on the subject of Christ as our High Priest. It might be the one topic that garners the most attention in this whole letter, starting at chapter four, verse fourteen, all the way through chapter eight. Instead of diving deeply into it now, I’ll wait until the author gets there.

I hope you are encouraged by what we’ve learned in these first two chapters. We need a larger view of Jesus. The author of Hebrews started big. As we move forward, he’ll focus our attention on subsequent matters of greatness that are framed by His cosmic greatness. If Jesus is greater than the angels, what human could we possibly offer up as an alternative?

That’s actually where the focus will go in chapter three. But that’ll be after I get back from Cape Town. Remember to post questions or comments in the Facebook group for the study. We’ll pick this up again in April.

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Last modified: March 14, 2023