The children are partakers of flesh and blood - Since those children of God, who have fallen and are to be redeemed, are human beings; in order to be qualified to redeem them by suffering and dying in their stead, He himself likewise took part of the same - he became incarnate; and thus he who was God with God, became man with men. By the children here we are to understand, not only the disciples and all genuine Christians, as in Hebrews 2:13, but also the whole human race; all Jews and all Gentiles; so John 11:51, John 11:52; : He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but also that he should gather together in one the Children of God that were scattered abroad; meaning, probably, all the Jews in every part of the earth. But collate this with 1 John 2:2, where: the evangelist explains the former words: He is the propitiation for our sins, (the Jews), and not for ours only, but for the sins of the Whole World. As the apostle was writing to the Hebrews only, he in general uses a Jewish phraseology, pointing out to them their own privileges; and rarely introduces the Gentiles, or what the Messiah has done for the other nations of the earth.
That through death - That by the merit of his own death, making atonement for sin, and procuring the almighty energy of the Holy Spirit, he might counterwork καταργηση, or render useless and ineffectual, all the operations of him who had the power, κρατος, or influence, to bring death into the world; so that death, which was intended by him who was a murderer from the beginning to be the final ruin of mankind, becomes the instrument of their exaltation and endless glory; and thus the death brought in by Satan is counterworked and rendered ineffectual by the death of Christ.
Him that had the power of death - This is spoken in conformity to an opinion prevalent among the Jews, that there was a certain fallen angel who was called המות מלאך malak hammaveth, the angel of death; i.e. one who had the power of separating the soul from the body, when God decreed that the person should die. There were two of these, according to some of the Jewish writers: one was the angel of death to the Gentiles; the other, to the Jews. Thus Tob haarets, fol. 31: "There are two angels which preside over death: one is over those who die out of the land of Israel, and his name is Sammael; the other is he who presides over those who die in the land of Israel, and this is Gabriel." Sammael is a common name for the devil among the Jews; and there is a tradition among them, delivered by the author of Pesikta rabbetha in Yalcut Simeoni, par. 2, f. 56, that the angel of death should be destroyed by the Messiah! "Satan said to the holy blessed God: Lord of the world, show me the Messiah. The Lord answered: Come and see him. And when he had seen him he was terrified, and his countenance fell, and he said: Most certainly this is the Messiah who shall cast me and all the nations into hell, as it is written Isaiah 25:8, The Lord shall swallow up death for ever." This is a very remarkable saying, and the apostle shows that it is true, for the Messiah came to destroy him who had the power of death. Dr. Owen has made some collections on this head from other Jewish writers which tend to illustrate this verse; they may he seen in his comment, vol. i., p. 456, 8vo. edition.
Forasmuch then - Since; or because.
As the children - Those who were to become the adopted children of God; or who were to sustain that relation to him.
Are partakers of flesh and blood - Have a human and not an angelic nature. Since they are men, he became a man. There was a fitness or propriety that he should partake of their nature; see the 1 Corinthians 15:50 note; Matthew 16:17 note.
He also himself, - He also became a man, or partook of the same nature with them; see the notes at John 1:14.
That through death - By dying. It is implied here:
(1)that the work which he undertook of destroying him that had the power of death, was to be accomplished by “his own dying;” and,
(2)that in order to this, it was necessary that he should be a man. An angel does not die, and therefore he did not take on him the nature of angels; and the Son of God in his divine nature could not die, and therefore he assumed a form in which he could die - that of a man. In that nature the Son of God could taste of death; and thus he could destroy him that had the power of death.
He might destroy - That he might “subdue,” or that he might overcome him, and “destroy” his dominion. The word “destroy” here is not used in the sense of “closing life,” or of “killing,” but in the sense of bringing into subjection, or crushing his power. This is the work which the Lord Jesus came to perform - to destroy the kingdom of Satan in the world, and to set up another kingdom in its place. This was understood by Satan to be his object: see the Matthew 8:29 note; Mark 1:24 note.
That had the power of death - I understand this as meaning that the devil was the cause of death in this world. He was the means of its introduction, and of its long and melancholy reign. This does not “affirm” anything of his power of inflicting death in particular instances - whatever may be true on that point - but that “death” was a part of his dominion; that he introduced it; that he seduced man from God, and led on the train of woes which result in death. He also made it terrible. Instead of being regarded as falling asleep, or being looked on without alarm, it becomes under him the means of terror and distress. What “power” Satan may have in inflicting death in particular instances no one can tell. The Jewish Rabbis speak much of Sammael, “the angel of death” - מלאך המות mal'aak hamuwt- who they supposed had the control of life, and was the great messenger employed in closing it.
The Scriptures, it is believed, are silent on that point. But that Satan was the means of introducing “death into the world, and all our woe,” no one can doubt; and over the whole subject, therefore, he may be said to have had power. To “destroy” that dominion: to rescue man; to restore him to life; to place him in a world where death is unknown; to introduce a state of things where “not another one would ever die,” was the great purpose for which the Redeemer came. What a noble object! What enterprise in the universe has been so grand and noble as this! Surely an undertaking that contemplates the annihilation of death; that designs to bring this dark dominion to an end, is full of benevolence, and commends itself to every man as worthy of his profound attention and gratitude. What woes are caused by death in this world! They are seen everywhere. The earth is “arched with graves.” In almost every dwelling death has been doing his work of misery. The palace cannot exclude him; and he comes unbidden into the cottage. He finds his way to the dwelling of ice in which the Esquimaux and the Greenlander live; to the tent of the Bedouin Arab, and the wandering Tartar; to the wigwam of the Indian, and to the harem of the Turk; to the splendid mansion of the rich, as well as to the abode of the poor. That reign of death has now extended near 6,000 years, and will travel on to future times - meeting each generation, and consigning the young, the vigorous, the lovely, and the pure, to dust. Shall that gloomy reign continue forever? Is there no way to arrest it? Is there no place where death can be excluded? Yes: heaven - and the object of the Redeemer is to bring us there.
Christ did not make believe take human nature; He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature. “As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same” (Hebrews 2:14). He was the son of Mary; He was of the seed of David according to human descent. He is declared to be a man, even the Man Christ Jesus. “This man,” writes Paul, “was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house” (Hebrews 3:3). 1SM 247.1
But while God's Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father. From everlasting He was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God. 1SM 247.2Read in context »
1, 2 (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 2:51; 4:1-13). Between the Temptation of Christ and the Marriage at Cana—There was to be a marriage in Cana of Galilee. The parties were relatives of Joseph and Mary. Christ knew of this family gathering, and that many influential persons would be brought together there, so, in company with His newly made disciples, He made His way to Cana. As soon as it was known that Jesus had come to the place, a special invitation was sent to Him and His friends. This was what He had purposed, and so He graced the feast with His presence. 5BC 1132.1
He had been separated from His mother for quite a length of time. During this period He had been baptized by John and had endured the temptations in the wilderness. Rumors had reached Mary concerning her son and His sufferings. John, one of the new disciples, had searched for Christ and had found Him in His humiliation, emaciated, and bearing the marks of great physical and mental distress. Jesus, unwilling that John should witness His humiliation, had gently yet firmly dismissed him from His presence. He wished to be alone; no human eye must behold His agony, no human heart be called out in sympathy with His distress. 5BC 1132.2Read in context »
Now the guilt of Satan stood forth without excuse. He had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer. It was seen that the very same spirit with which he ruled the children of men, who were under his power, he would have manifested had he been permitted to control the inhabitants of heaven. He had claimed that the transgression of God's law would bring liberty and exaltation; but it was seen to result in bondage and degradation. GC 502.1
Satan's lying charges against the divine character and government appeared in their true light. He had accused God of seeking merely the exaltation of Himself in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, and had declared that, while the Creator exacted self-denial from all others, He Himself practiced no self-denial and made no sacrifice. Now it was seen that for the salvation of a fallen and sinful race, the Ruler of the universe had made the greatest sacrifice which love could make; for “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. It was seen, also, that while Lucifer had opened the door for the entrance of sin by his desire for honor and supremacy, Christ had, in order to destroy sin, humbled Himself and become obedient unto death. GC 502.2
God had manifested His abhorrence of the principles of rebellion. All heaven saw His justice revealed, both in the condemnation of Satan and in the redemption of man. Lucifer had declared that if the law of God was changeless, and its penalty could not be remitted, every transgressor must be forever debarred from the Creator's favor. He had claimed that the sinful race were placed beyond redemption and were therefore his rightful prey. But the death of Christ was an argument in man's behalf that could not be overthrown. The penalty of the law fell upon Him who was equal with God, and man was free to accept the righteousness of Christ and by a life of penitence and humiliation to triumph, as the Son of God had triumphed, over the power of Satan. Thus God is just and yet the justifier of all who believe in Jesus. GC 502.3Read in context »
There came to the Saviour, as if in answer to His prayers, one in the guise of an angel of light, and this was the message that he bore: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). 1SM 228.1
Jesus met Satan with the words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In every temptation the weapon of His warfare was the Word of God. Satan demanded of Christ a miracle as a sign of His divinity. But that which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a “Thus saith the Lord” was a sign that could not be controverted. So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage. 1SM 228.2
A familiarity with the Word of God is our only hope. Those who diligently search the Scriptures will not accept Satan's delusions as the truth of God. No one need be overcome by the speculations presented by the enemy of God and of Christ. We are not to speculate regarding points upon which the Word of God is silent. All that is necessary for our salvation is given in the Word of God. Day by day we are to make the Bible the man of our counsel. 1SM 228.3Read in context »