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.
In this degenerate age, Satan holds control over those who depart from the right and venture upon his ground. He exercises his power upon such in an alarming manner. I was directed to these words: “Intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Some, I was shown, gratify their curiosity and tamper with the devil. They have no real faith in spiritualism and would start back with horror at the idea of being mediums. Yet they venture and place themselves in a position where Satan can exercise his power upon them. Such do not mean to enter deep into this work, but they know not what they are doing. They are venturing on the devil's ground and are tempting him to control them. This powerful destroyer considers them his lawful prey and exercises his power upon them, and that against their will. When they wish to control themselves they cannot. They yielded their minds to Satan, and he will not release his claims, but holds them captive. No power can deliver the ensnared soul but the power of God in answer to the earnest prayers of His faithful followers. 1T 299.1
The only safety now is to search for the truth as revealed in the word of God, as for hid treasure. The subjects of the Sabbath, the nature of man, and the testimony of Jesus are the great and important truths to be understood; these will prove as an anchor to hold God's people in these perilous times. But the mass of mankind despise the truths of God's word and prefer fables. 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 1T 300.1
The most licentious and corrupt are highly flattered by these Satanic spirits, which they believe to be the spirits of their dead friends, and they are vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds. Colossians 2:19: “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God,” they deny Him who ministers strength to the body, that every member may increase with the increase of God. 1T 300.2Read in context »
This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is “alienated from the life of God.” Christ says, “All they that hate Me love death.” Ephesians 4:18; Proverbs 8:36. God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them. DA 764.1
At the beginning of the great controversy, the angels did not understand this. Had Satan and his host then been left to reap the full result of their sin, they would have perished; but it would not have been apparent to heavenly beings that this was the inevitable result of sin. A doubt of God's goodness would have remained in their minds as evil seed, to produce its deadly fruit of sin and woe. DA 764.2
But not so when the great controversy shall be ended. Then, the plan of redemption having been completed, the character of God is revealed to all created intelligences. The precepts of His law are seen to be perfect and immutable. Then sin has made manifest its nature, Satan his character. Then the extermination of sin will vindicate God's love and establish His honor before a universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law. DA 764.3Read in context »
With a holy sadness Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and He would possess it forever and ever. Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven. EW 151.1
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sang a note higher than they had done before, for the great mercy and condescension of God in yielding up His dearly Beloved to die for a race of rebels. Praise and adoration were poured forth for the self-denial and sacrifice of Jesus; that He would consent to leave the bosom of His Father, and choose a life of suffering and anguish, and die an ignominious death to give life to others. EW 151.2
Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no. It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether to let guilty man perish, or to give His beloved Son to die for him.” Angels were so interested for man's salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man, “But,” said my accompanying angel, “that would avail nothing. The transgression was so great that an angel's life would not pay the debt. Nothing but the death and intercessions of His son would pay the debt and save lost man from hopeless sorrow and misery.” EW 151.3Read in context »
After Satan had ended his temptations, he departed from Jesus for a season, and angels prepared Him food in the wilderness, and strengthened Him, and the blessing of His Father rested upon Him. Satan had failed in his fiercest temptations; yet he looked forward to the period of Jesus’ ministry, when he should at different times try his cunning against Him. He still hoped to prevail against Him by stirring up those who would not receive Jesus, to hate and seek to destroy Him. Satan held a special council with his angels. They were disappointed and enraged that they had prevailed nothing against the Son of God. They decided that they must be more cunning and use their power to the utmost to inspire unbelief in the minds of His own nation as to His being the Saviour of the world, and in this way discourage Jesus in His mission. No matter how exact the Jews might be in their ceremonies and sacrifices, if they could be kept blinded as to the prophecies and be made to believe that the Messiah was to appear as a mighty worldly king, they might be led to despise and reject Jesus. EW 158.1
I was shown that Satan and his angels were very busy during Christ's ministry, inspiring men with unbelief, hate, and scorn. Often when Jesus uttered some cutting truth, reproving their sins, the people would become enraged. Satan and his angels urged them on to take the life of the Son of God. More than once they took up stones to cast at Him, but angels guarded Him and bore Him away from the angry multitude to a place of safety. Again, as the plain truth dropped from His holy lips, the multitude laid hold of Him and led Him to the brow of a hill, intending to cast Him down. A contention arose among themselves as to what they should do with Him, when the angels again hid Him from the sight of the multitude, and He, passing through the midst of them, went His way. EW 159.1Read in context »