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Hebrews 2:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Wherefore in all things - Because he thus laid hold on man in order to redeem him, it was necessary that he should in all things become like to man, that he might suffer in his stead, and make an atonement in his nature.

That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest - Ἱνα ελεημων γενηται· That he might be merciful - that he might be affected with a feeling of our infirmities, that, partaking of our nature with all its innocent infirmities and afflictions, he might know how to compassionate poor, afflicted, suffering man. And that he might be a faithful high priest in those things which relate to God, whose justice requires the punishment of the transgressors, or a suitable expiation to be made for the sins of the people. The proper meaning of ἱλασκεσθαι τας ἁμαρτιας is to make propitiation or atonement for sins by sacrifice. See the note on Luke 18:13, where it [this word] is particularly explained. Christ is the great High Priest of mankind;

  1. He exercises himself in the things pertaining to God, taking heed that God's honor be properly secured, his worship properly regulated, his laws properly enforced, and both his justice and mercy magnified. Again,

2. He exercises himself in things pertaining to Men, that he may make an atonement for them, apply this atonement to them, and liberate them thereby from the curse of a broken law, from the guilt and power of sin, from its inbeing and nature, and from all the evils to which they were exposed through it, and lastly that he might open their way into the holiest by his own blood; and he has mercifully and faithfully accomplished all that he has undertaken.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 24

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18. SD 24.1

Though enduring most terrible temptations, Christ did not fail or become discouraged. He was fighting the battle in our behalf, and had He faltered, had He yielded to temptation, the human family would have been lost. SD 24.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 472

The Son of God stooped to uplift the fallen. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth to be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5. He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He knew what it meant to be hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He was a stranger and a sojourner on the earth—in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women of today are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin. Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, He represented the character of God. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. AA 472.1

Surrounded by the practices and influences of heathenism, the Colossian believers were in danger of being drawn away from the simplicity of the gospel, and Paul, in warning them against this, pointed them to Christ as the only safe guide. “I would that ye knew,” he wrote, “what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. AA 473.1

“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.... As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” AA 473.2

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 74.1

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. Hebrews 2:17. TMK 74.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 311

God pours His blessings upon all. “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He is “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:35. He bids us to be like Him. “Bless them that curse you,” said Jesus; “do good to them that hate you, ... that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” These are the principles of the law, and they are the wellsprings of life. DA 311.1

God's ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. DA 311.2

The tempter's agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. DA 311.3

The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours. The Lord says of those who believe in Him, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16. DA 311.4

Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.” DA 311.5

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