Online Bible Commentary
Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil---15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV)
In this passage, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews continues to describe the superiority of Christ over man. He identifies four blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon man. Christ became like the “children” (v. 14a) of God. He came down from Heaven, became “flesh and blood” (v. 14b), incarnate, sharing “in their humanity” (v. 14c), in order to provide these four blessings.
The first blessing is that Christ destroyed “the devil”, the one “who holds the power of death” (v. 14d). The word translated “destroy” is the Greek word “katargeo” which means to nullify or abolish. Christ has not destroyed Satan, as in ending his being. Satan is still around wreaking havoc wherever he goes. But rather, Christ nullified his power. The story of Job shows us that Satan only has the power that is given to him by Christ. Through his death on the cross Christ defeated Satan. Satan has no power of his own. He only has the “power of death” if Christ gives it to him.
The second blessing is that Christ destroyed the “fear of death” (v. 15). Through His resurrection Christ showed mankind that they no longer need to fear death. Mankind now knows that they can be raised from the dead, like Christ, and have eternal life in Heaven. The writer makes it clear that Christ accomplished this not to help “angels”, but to help mankind, “Abraham’s descendants” (v. 16).
Christ “had to be made like his brothers in every way” (v. 17a) in order to carry out these blessings, another reference to His incarnation. In becoming a human high priest, Christ showed mercy to mankind and faithfulness to God (v. 17b). He showed mercy through providing forgiveness for “the sins of the people” (v. 17c) and faithfulness to God by fulfilling his calling, to be a sin sacrifice. He provided for “atonement”, the reconciliation of mankind with God, making them “at one” with God. This was His third blessing.
Christ’s fourth blessing in this passage was to “help those who are being tempted” (v. 18). Christ “suffered” the pain of temptation, just as we do. Since Christ is incapable of sin, He is incapable of harboring sin internally, like we are. But He was tempted externally, by Satan. Even though his temptation was different from ours, he still experienced temptation, and is therefore “able” to help us when we are tempted. The word translated “able” is the Greek word “dunamai”, which when used in the context of God means “to be able and willing”. So not only is Christ able to help us resist temptation, but He is also willing. He accomplishes this through the work of His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian.
This passage represents another example of the Love of Christ, and how that divine love is superior to even the greatest love of mankind. God is love. He created it, and only He can define it. Human beings try to define love in many different ways, but their definitions all fall short of God’s. God showed His love by dying a painful death on the cross for each of us. His sacrifice gave us the four blessings described in this passage. These blessings are ours, only if we are Christians. But Christians can claim these blessings. Thank you, Jesus!