Heb 2:14-16 He will hold me fast
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, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
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,
Years ago some friends of mine were into rappelling. My first reaction was the same as yours, you are into what? Here is a dictionary definition of “rappel”. “A descent of a vertical surface, as a cliff or wall, by sliding down a belayed rope that is passed under one thigh and over the opposite shoulder or through a device that provides friction, typically while facing the surface and performing a series of short backward leaps to control the descent.”
I went with my friends and I did go down a cliff next to a waterfall. It was scary because I don’t like heights. When your life is being held by a rope, there is the tendency to try to hold on to the rope, instead of the proper equipment that is actually holding you. In the Scripture we will study today we will be reminded of what we need to be holding on to in the walk of faith.
V 14 starts with these words: since, therefore. You know what this means…We cannot go forward in these verses without reviewing what the author said previously. On the last Sunday of July, we studied v9-13 and it is these verses that the author is referencing here.
The main message from v 9-13 is that Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers and God is our father.
Since Therefore Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers, the children share in flesh and blood. This is saying that all human beings have one thing in common… we all have flesh and blood.
This phrase flesh and blood is used three other times in the NT: Matt 16:17 “17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Eph 6:12 “12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”
1 Cor 15:50 “50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
All the uses of this phrase (flesh and blood) in the NT point to the same idea, we are physical beings, unlike angels who are spiritual beings with no physical bodies, we were created from the dust. We are created with material bodies.
This is who we are, and because of who we are as physical beings, Jesus had to become a man, a physical human being. He partook of the same things, meaning he became a man like us in every aspect, with one very important exception – He was sinless.
The incarnation is something amazing to consider and ponder. That God willingly humbled himself to become a man and not just a man. For He could have just taken the human form as an adult, but He became a baby in Mary’s womb, then He had to grow up, as we all do. Jesus as a human being, had to learn how to eat, how to crawl, how to walk, play, and talk. He chose to be born into a very poor family, people of no great fame or honor, just “regular”, common poor people. Jesus for 30 years led such a common non extraordinary life that in the gospels we have only the account of his birth, and then the incident at age 12 where he was teaching the teachers about God’s law in the temple. During 30 years of life as a human being, there was nothing extraordinary about his life as a human. Except for His birth. We could stop and ask the question. What is so significant about these two recorded events that they were recorded?
First, what is the importance that Jesus had an extraordinary birth?
Jesus’ birth is extremely important for our salvation. It boils down to original sin. If Jesus was conceived in the same way we are, through a father and mother. He would have inherited sin from Adam in the same way we do.
While the Catholics believe that Mary was without sin, we do not, because Scripture does not teach so. If she was then how Mary would have not inherited the sin nature from Adam? Scripture does not teach that Mary was sinless, but it does addresses another much more important question. How did Jesus not inherit the sin nature from Adam?
Scripture makes it clear that it was through the Holy Spirit that Jesus was conceived.
The gospel of Luke is the one that gives us a little more information on Jesus’ birth. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he said the following:
Luke 1:35 The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
It doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit will make Mary holy, but that the child conceived in her womb will be called holy, the Son of God. Therefore, the extraordinary birth of Jesus is highly important because Jesus was sinless, He was not born with a sin nature. Because He was sinless from conception, His atonement was perfect, and He was completely righteous, from birth to death on the cross.
The other recorded account of Jesus childhood seems to point, perhaps put too simply, to His Holiness and His lineage through his Father. Jesus, without expert instruction was able to teach the teachers of the law. Even though he was just a little boy, as God’s Son He had further knowledge and wisdom from Scripture that He was teaching older experts of the law about His Father’s word.
However, besides His extraordinary birth and this event when He was 12 years old. The rest of His life before His public ministry was very ordinary. Which is kind of odd, for the Son of God after taking the human form to live for 30 years a very ordinary life.
We don’t know exactly what His experience was, but we can have great assurance that it was a typical experience. He partook of the same things; He became flesh and blood. We don’t tend to think of Jesus in this way, but He knows what it’s like to have an upset stomach or to have a headache. Jesus knows what it feels like when you stub your toe. Or when you run and you are out of breath. To sit down and eat a delicious meal when you are starving, or to drink a cold cup of water when you are really thirsty.
Why would Jesus do that? Why would he experience all of this? Why would he wait so long to reveal himself? Why suffer and humble himself for so long? Why become fully a man? The rest of the verse tells us why… “so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that it, the devil.”
Before we look at this phrase “so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Let’s start with what it does NOT mean. This verse does not support the Ransom theory of atonement. Likely you have never heard this, but it was a common theory for many years in church history. I want to mention this because I don’t want any of us to elevate the devil or to think of the enemy higher than what Scripture teaches.
The Ransom theory of atonement states that somehow Jesus’s death paid a ransom to the devil. A commentator (Oden) rightly noted, “this theory is contrary to Heb 2:14–15 where the author explicitly stated that the death of Christ was a triumph over the devil, not a ransom paid to him.”
Therefore, this verse does not teach that Jesus paid a ransom to the devil. It clearly states that Jesus destroyed the devil. Jesus as the King of Kings destroyed the devil. By conquering death, and taking the penalty that we deserve, namely death, Jesus took death so we could live. John Owen has a book titled: The death of death in the death of Jesus. The death of death in the death of Jesus. This is what this verse teaches us through Jesus’ death He destroyed death.
V14 also says the devil has the power of death. We may ask does the devil have the power of death? Yes, it is explicit in this verse. But how does the devil have this power?
The devil gained this power by first luring Adam and Eve to defy God’s prohibition in Gen 3:4; once mankind sinned the devil had the power of death, by accusing mankind to God’s just tribunal, the just judgment for sin is death.
This is the same way the devil still works in our world, first, he will tempt you to sin, pointing to the benefits or the pleasures of the sin. Then he will turn around and knock you over the head by accusing you of what you have done and how you deserve God’s punishment. He wants you drunk in the pleasures of sin or in complete despair of any hope, or just numb enough that you don’t listen to God anymore and you just care for your life now.
This is how we can pray for those in our families or friends, that they will not be overcome by the overwhelming guilt of their action and that they will not be lured into more temptations or taken captive by indifference to what truly matters.
Zech 3:1 pictures the devil as the accuser and Rev 12:10 describe him as the accuser of our brothers. This power of death does not mean the devil can inflict death without God’s permission, it means the devil can justly accuse us and ask God to bring the judgment that we deserve.
Even more… Here is the unthinkable… unimaginable. Jesus allowed himself to be “accusable” by the devil and overcame this. God humbled himself to be a man so that He could die in our place and destroy the devil. So, when the devil accuses us, we can say to him you are right, I’m a sinner and deserve God’s punishment, but praise be to God, Jesus took the punishment that I deserve.
If we truly believe this, it will also apply when others accuse us. Here is a good example. A few years ago, Russell Moore was accused publicly by the president of the US who said “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!” Then Russell Moore was called on the national news to have an opportunity to defend himself. His response was so unexpected that the host didn’t know how to follow up on his answer.
Russell Moore's response was: “I am a nasty guy with no heart, which is why I need forgiveness of sins and redemption through the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
He didn’t defend himself, as was expected, but he said to the accuser you are right, I’m a sinner and deserve God’s punishment, but praise be to God, Jesus took the punishment that I deserve. I need Jesus and He alone is my righteousness.
It is very unlikely that any of us will be unjustly accused on national news. We are more likely to be justly accuse at work or even at home. How do we actually share the gospel in these circumstances?
Our natural response is going to be to defend ourselves, or to point out all the factors that might have contributed to our poor response. However, we first need to recognize in our minds that our failure in what is being brough up doesn’t define who we are. Then we need to take ownership of our fault and being ok in admitting that. Lastly, recognize that you need Jesus’ help
It is only after we process all of this in our heads that we will be able to respond properly to the accusation, saying you are right I mess this up, I shouldn’t have done this way, I’m sorry, I need Jesus’ help. I can say that all the good I do is by His power and strength.
Depending on the accusation we can share more of what Christ has done for us. We need to remember that Christ’s death deprived the devil of the capital charges he had lodged against us. It allows us not to have to defend ourselves but to actually share the gospel when we are accused.
Col 2:14-15 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Christ not only removed our guilt, by taking the punishment in our place, but Jesus transferred us from one domain to another. Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
Furthermore, v15 in Hebrews tells us that Christ removed the fear of death.
15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
In the previous verse, God teaches us that Christ destroyed the devil through Jesus’ death, and now Jesus also delivers us from the fear of death. Here it seems that to describe how Christ is destroying the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
V14 tells us that Jesus destroyed the ability of the devil to accuse us, now Jesus also removes the fear of death. It does not say Jesus delivers us from dying, we will face death, but the fear is removed. Death for a believer is not a hopeless end of all. Death to us does not mean judgment but blessing, it is not bondage but liberation, being united with Christ. Death cannot separate us from the love of God or Christ.
Rom 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
For believers there is no fear in death we can say:
1 Cor 15:55-57 “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ has set us free, He redeemed us, and He destroyed the accuser and the fear of death. In Christ we are more than conquerors, we are sons of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. Jesus is our Savior, our King, our Lord and He is helping us as we go through this life. Because He knows exactly what it feels like to live this life. The fact that Jesus helps us is the main focus of the next v, v16.
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
This verse starts by saying “for surely”, but how sure are we that Jesus doesn’t help angels? As sure as we can be, because Jesus humbled himself and partook of our flesh and blood. Jesus didn’t humble himself to become an angel, but he humble himself to be made lower than the angels, to be a man.
By the way, why is the author now turning to talking about angels again? It doesn’t seem to fit into the overarching argument. Because he is once again correcting the readers. Reminding them that even though Jesus was made lower than the angels, He is far greater than the angels and Jesus helps us!!!
We have Jesus to help us, we don’t need to rely on angels, or be concerned about angels, because we have the Son of God to help us.
What is interesting is how the author makes this point – Jesus help us. It says that Jesus helps the offspring of Abraham. Considering that not too long ago the author was talking that Jesus became a man, I would expect the author to say that Jesus helps the offspring of Adam, not Abraham. Why does he say offspring of Abraham?
If he had said offspring of Adam, that would include all mankind. When he says Abraham he is naming a more specific group of people, sons and daughters of Abraham. Many Jews did not repent and believe in Jesus because their boasting was that they were sons of Abraham. John the Baptist said in Matt 3:9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
That is what God did, He raised up children of Abraham from the gentiles. Gal 3:7 “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham”
Therefore, the author is speaking of you! Jesus helps those that by faith have repented and trusted in Jesus. You by faith are descendants of Abraham.
So how does He help us? The verb in Greek literally means to take hold of, to appropriate. This same word is used three additional times as taking hold of someone’s hand, either literally or figuratively.
Many years ago when I was probably 12 years old, I had exited the bus with my mom, and we were crossing the road in front of the bus. Then suddenly my mom grabbed my hand and pull me back, just before a car zoomed by. My reaction was not of being thankful. I was angry that she grabbed my hand as if I was a little toddler, and I said that I saw the car, even though I only saw the car after it passed by. Even though I didn’t like it, my mom took hold of my hand to protect me and pull me away from danger.
With little kids, it is such a joy when they grab our hand knowing that we will protect them. It brings joy to us as parents when our child wants to hold our hand and trust in our care and leading.
Matt 7:11 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Jesus will take hold of you and hold our hands and help us in this life. Let’s not fight back as he holds us and helps us, but rather let’s trust in His care, His protection, His leading. Let’s take His hand willingly! Jesus became a man like us, and now He is helping us, holding our hand as we go through life. Let us never think that we don’t need His help, that we are big enough to cross the road on our own. If we keep resisting his hold, He might allow us to experience some scratches if necessary for us to recognize our need to run to Him for help. There is no better place to be than to have Jesus holding our hand and leading us in this life.
If you are afraid that you are too weak to hold on to Jesus. Know this he will hold us fast.
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Then Paul at the end of his life, while he is in prison says in 2 Tim 1:12 But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
Jesus is the one holding us fast to Him. He is the one holding our hand, even if we can barely hold on, we do not need to fear He is holding us fast.
There is no safer place to be in this entire world than be in His hand.
Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,