In the author's perspective, religion serves the sole purpose of providing access to God. The goal of the devout is to find a place in the world to come, to enjoy eternally the perfect bliss of God's presence. This is precisely what God has achieved for all in Christ. To understand this one point about access is to unlock the entire theology of Hebrews and explain its great central image of Christ the High Priest.
The salvation announced by the Lord (2:3) is the offer of a place in the world to come (v. 5). That offer is the sole prerogative of the One to whom that world and we too have been subjected; no angel can fill that role. Human destiny has been fashioned and fulfilled by the divine Creator. Ps 8 sets forth God's plan for humanity. It gives God's solemn assurance that humanity's ultimate destiny is to exercise lordship over all creation, and this eventually includes even the angels (vv. 7-8). Of course, it is an incomplete prophecy at present. More is yet in store for humanity, but even now this destiny stands fulfilled. Jesus has fulfilled the destiny fashioned by God for humankind. Moreover, Jesus stands in our place and on our behalf by God's gracious will (v. 9). Therefore, our destiny is assured as well.
How is this so? The author goes on to explain the workings of Christ's priestly atonement. God's intention is to bring the many to divine glory through the One (v. 10). Humanity gains access to God's eternal presence through the consecrating work of Jesus, our High Priest. This involves two processes: God must consecrate the priest, and the priest must consecrate the people (v. 11).
Christ, though perfect, nevertheless was perfected by God through suffering. To lead a perfect life, one must begin it in perfection and continue in perfection to the end. This Jesus did, but not without great suffering and unimaginable testing of his will to obey God at every point (2:13a; cf. 4:15). This process of maintaining perfect obedience through utter hardship and sacrifice sealed Christ's consecration as humanity's Priest before God. He loved righteousness and hated wickedness (1:9a), thus resulting in his exaltation at death (1:9b, 13), fulfilling the divine intention for humanity expressed in Ps 8:5-6. His untimely death completed his perfection through sufferings, a perfect life culminating in a perfect sacrifice.
The benefit to us is that Christ accomplished this not for his own sake, but with each of us in mind (vv. 11-13). In sharing our nature and lot, in embracing us, and in submitting to death, Christ consecrated us to God. In being exalted and enthroned, he liberated us from bondage to death and servitude to Satan (vv. 14-15). Only a perfect life ended undeservedly could put the wielder of death, Satan, in the wrong. By resurrecting Christ from the grave, God judged Satan as having stepped beyond his rightful bounds. Satan's regency and power were broken forever, and broken by One who shared all the frailties of the human constitution (vv. 14, 17) and yet prevailed against the Tempter's wiles. Jesus was not superhuman, but fully human; he showed us what humanity in God's design is intended to be. Only a high priest perfectly faithful to God, and thus perfectly human, could offer himself mercifully for the sins of the people (v. 17). Only a high priest who mastered the Tempter can aid us in our own struggle against temptation (v. 18). Crowned now with glory and honor, Christ is all the help we need.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Now that you've created a Bible Gateway account, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus: the ultimate online Bible reading & study experience! Bible Gateway Plus equips you to answer the toughest questions about faith, God, and the Bible with access to a vast digital Bible study library. And it's all integrated seamlessly into your Bible Gateway experience. Try it free for 30 days!