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Don’t fall away!. Don’t Depart!. Don’t neglect your salvation!. Don’t cast away your confidence!. Don’t harden your heart!. Don’t drift away!. A Study Of The Apostle Paul’s Letter To The Hebrews. How can we neglect so great a salvation? ~ Hebrews 2:3 . Hebrews: Christ Is Superior!

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A Study Of The Apostle Paul’s Letter To The Hebrews

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A study of the apostle paul s letter to the hebrews l.jpg

Don’t fall away!

Don’t Depart!

Don’t neglect your salvation!

Don’t cast away your confidence!

Don’t harden your heart!

Don’t drift away!

AStudyOf TheApostlePaul’s LetterTo The Hebrews

How can we neglect so greata salvation? ~ Hebrews 2:3


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Hebrews: Christ Is Superior!

Superior Person (1:1—4:13)

Superior to Prophets (1:1-3)

Superior to Angels (1:4—2:18) but…We’ll only be studying 2:1-4 today.

Superior to Moses (3:1-19)

Superior to Joshua (4:1-13)

Superior Priest (4:14—7:28)

Superior to Aaron (4:14—6:12)

Superior to Melchizedek (6:13—7:10)

Superior to Levi (7:11-28)


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Hebrews: Christ Is Superior!

Superior Pact (Covenant) to Moses’(8:1—10:18)

Superior Promises (8:1-13)

Superior Sanctuary (9:1-15)

Superior Sacrifice (9:16-28)

Superior Results (10:1-18)

Superior Principle (Faith) to Moses’ (10:19—13:25)

Superior Things (10:19-39)

Superior Actions (11:1-40)

Superior Relationship (12:1-29)

Superior Way of Life (13:1-25)


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Although Paul wasn’t finished with his contrast of Jesus with angels, he paused here long enough to provide his first of seven warnings. (These were mentioned in the introduction.)


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Hebrews 2:1 

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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This word tells us that this warning to these Jewish Chris-tians was based on what he had already established in chap-ter one—that (since GodappointedJesus as their Prophet, Priest, and King) it was necessary that they reverse the backsliding course they were on!

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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This is from a term which means that it’s a necessity; the word wasn’t used in the sense of being required by com-mand, but what’s required by eternal self-preservation.

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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Heed is from a term whichmeanstohold themindtoorsimplyto mind; i.e., they needed topay closerattention: 5:11-12read,Youhavebe-come dull of hear-ing.…Youneed someone to teach you again the first principles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nestheed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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The original term for heed was commonly used for bringing a boat to land, as if one had a rope tied to a boat and was pulling it in to safe-ty. Interestingly, this word is trans-lated as beware in Mat. 7:15, indicating that there’s danger in the path of the one who isn’t mind-ing his course.

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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This refers to the Good News of salva-tion through Jesus. That which they had hoped for & prayed about for 40 gener-ations had finally arrived!

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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Although correctly translated, due to the context I don’t believe this clause reveals to us today the true intensity that the Hebrews saw in it. I.e….  

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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I don’t believe Paul was referring to a mere absent mind-edness, such as drifting along like a tumbleweed that has no mind of its own; rather, I be-lieve that Paul was referring to a pur-poseful releasing of themselves from their ties to Jesus…

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.

…resultinginthedan-ger of being swept away by the same destruction that the rejecting Jews were headed for. In fact…


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So…

The Greek term for driftwasusedtode-scribe a river that flowed away from and escaped its nat-ural channel, usual-ly due to flooding; andthiscorresponds wellwiththepicture in Revelation 12:15 where persecution is portrayed as com-ing against the church like a flood.

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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This clause tells us that these Jewish brethren had recog-nized and accepted that God’s redemp-tive plan was being fulfilled in their life-time thru Jesus, but (due to pressure from the Judaizers) they had begun to let it slipfromtheirgrasp.

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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This original term was also used in ref-erence to someone who let something slip his mind, which connects this word with the word heed; so it seems that, be-cause of the flood of persecution, they were like the man of James 1:23-24…

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.

the man who saw himself in the mirror of God’s Word, then purposely turned away to forget what he saw.


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Notice: This verse not only implies that one can lose his sal-vation, but also that he must do some-thing to retain it. Thesebrethrenwere warned to not be like dead wood swept away to de-struction, but like a powerful ship, fight-ing the current of their wicked gener-ation. In fact…  

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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Jesus Himself warn-ed them to striveas if swimming up-stream to enter through the narrow gate (Luke 13:24), and Peter warned them to be saved from their genera-tion (Acts 2:40).

Thereforewemust give the more ear-nest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.


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Hebrews 2:2 

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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Asmentionedinv.4, this refers mainly to The Law being given from God to Moses via angels; Stephen said, An angel … ap-peared to him … in a bush…. This ishe who was … with theangel who spoke to him …, the onewho received The Living Oracles to give to us….

For if (meaningsince)the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…

The prophets ... re-ceived The Law by the direction of an-gels (Acts 7:30-53).


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How was the word (The Law) … proved? By means of all the miracles attending it, of course (cf. Acts 7:30 & 35-36). Let’s read Heb.12:18-19 & 25-26a:   

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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Youhavenotcometothemountainthat may be touched and that burned with fire, and to the blackness of darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trum-pet and the voice of words, so that those whoheardit beggedthat the wordshouldnotbespokentothemanymore.… See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on Earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heav-en, whose voice then shook the earth.


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This is from a term which means valid —from God—and therefore reliable.

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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This is from a term whichreferstostep-ping over the line, which is done when one, as Rom.2:23 translates it, breaks the law; this isthesinofcommission where one, in a re-bellious spirit, re-fuses to be bound by law.

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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This is from a term which refers to a refusal to listen in order to discover what’s expected (as if “ignorance is bliss”); this is the sin of omission where one, in a rebellious spirit, purposely allows information to drift by him. The Bible often uses hearing and obeying inter-changeably:  

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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To the Jews, God said, Heed [My] voice … and do what is right ... and [obey] all [My] statutes(Exo. 15:26).

Of the Jews, God said they havenot obeyed Me…. I have spoken … but they have not heard(Jer. 35:16-17).

Of a rebellious Christian, Jesus said,If he refuses to hear…, let him be to you as a heathen(Mat. 18:17).


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We have a perfect example of people refusing to hear inActs 7:57-58:con-cerning those who murdered Stephen it reads,They … stopped their ears … and stoned him.

An example of sins of omission and commission listed inHeb. 2:2is found inJer. 32:23where the weeping pro-phet,whenpraying toGod for hispeo-ple, said,They have nothear-kened[“obeyed” in most versions]toYour voiceorwalked in Your law.


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The original term for this phrase refers to the payment of right wages, giving one what he’s earned or what’s coming to him, whether it be good or bad. (Paul spoke of the wages of sin in Rom.6:23.) Ob-viously in this con-text it’s referring to punishment that fits the crime, somethingonlyGodwouldtruly know.

For if (meaningsince) the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgres-sion and disobedi-ence received a just reward…


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Whatwasthepunishmentfor Old Test-ament Jewswhohardenedtheir hearts against God?Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned…? And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to thosewhodidnotobey(Heb.3:15-18)?


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And how about those who reject the NewLawof Christ?Anyonewhohasre-jected Moses’ Law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three wit-nesses. Of how much worse punish-ment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant a common thing, and insultedtheSpiritofgrace(Heb. 10:28-29)?


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Hebrews 2:3 

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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This is obviously a rhetorical question to those Jewish Christians, a ques-tion demanding the negative answer: We cannot escape! That was something they had learned over the centuries, or at least that was Paul’s point.

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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This original term takes us back to the idea of allowing something to just driftbyoraway;i.e., by losing their faith and gradually re-leasing themselves from their ties to Jesus, they’d end up with no recourse, no way to secure their salvation before it was too late,…

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…

…especiallysincethe time was very close. Let me explain:  


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This salvation didn’t merely refer to the purging of their sin as referred to in 1:3 (that which was ful-filled in its totality atthe Jews’ destruction); it also referred to their salvation from that very destruc-tion. Why do I say this? Because… 

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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Firstly, he had just referred to the physi-cal punishments of the Jews under the Old Testament, most of which, of course, resulted in eternal punishment since death was involved. But…

Secondly, in Hebrews 10 (where he essen-tially expanded upon Hebrews2:2-3), Paul warned of the coming Jewish destruction which was prophesied in the Old Testa-ment and which again would, of course, include their eternal destruction. 


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AftertalkingabouthowGodwouldforget the sins of those who had accepted and stuckitoutwithChristinHeb.10:17, he went on in 10:26b-30 to apply—to their time—a prophecy of Moses about the Jews’ destruction; incidentally, this cor-responds perfectly with Peter’s words in Acts2:40: Save yourselves from this … generation (cf. Mat. 24:34). (Remember, Peter just warned that audience that Joel 2 was beginning to be fulfilled right then [Acts2:19-20]; then the next chapter—Joel 3– clearly speaks to Jerusalem’s demise.)


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Another reason we can know this was primarily referring to Jerusalem’s end is that Paul also applied to his generation a prophecy about that end from Habakkuk 2:3-4, saying, Yet a little while (lit. in a very, very short time, or soon, very soon, cf. other versions), and He who is coming will come (Heb.10:37). Moving on…  


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Exactlyhowwasthis salvation so great? This could be an-swered in many dif-ferent ways from the Scriptures, but since Paul went on to describe what he was talking about in this particular con-text, let’s read on. 

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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Obviously this clause has reference to the time when Jesus roamed Earth. This doesn’t mean that salvation had never been spoken of be-fore, for it had since the time of Adam (Gen. 3:15); it’s just that it was a mys-tery, something not really clear until, as Paul put it, Jesus…

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…

…brought[it]tolight through the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). But…


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Since their salvationat this time would include their deliverance from Judea’s fall, it could also be considered great from that standpoint. So…

Another positive contrast of Jesus to the angels is that the message of an-gels was given in a shroud of mystery, while the message of Christ was given in order to clear things up. Besides that it was confirmed.  


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Like the Law that the Jews accepted becauseitwassatis-factorily confirmed, the message of Je-suswasconfirmed, a word which means essentially the same thing as proven steadfast in 2:2.

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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Now…

This is an obvious re-ference to the apos-tles who followed Jesus from His bap-tism to His cross. John wrote of how he and the other apostles had, from thebeginning,heard,seen, and touchedthe Word in the flesh—Jesus; sotheybore witness of Him so that we could have communion with God (1 John 1:1-3).

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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Since Paul brought up how the old and unclear law provid-ed by angels was confirmed as truly from God to their satisfaction by mira-cles, he went on to write of how the new and clear law provided by Christ and His apostles was likewise con-firmed by various miracles.   

…howshallwees-cape if we neglect so great a salva-tion, which at first began to be spok-en by the Lord, and was confirm-ed to us by those who heard Him…


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Hebrews 2:4 

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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This clause doesn’t mean that God was bearing witness se-parate & apart from Jesus and His apos-tles, but along with, through, by means ofthem. So whenJesusoralone apos-tle needed a second witness (as the Law required, Deu. 19:15), God was there to be that substantiating Witness. Oh, and…

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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Referring to the wit-ness of miracles by Godfortheapostles, Jesus told them that He (who is also God) would be their Wit-ness to the end of theage(Mat.28:20). How do I know this referredtomiracles? Because of Mark’s parallel account (Mark 16:17-18). So…

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?

…let’s let the Bible explain the Bible. 


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This word was con-fusing for me until I got to really looking at the original lan-guage. I couldn’t figure out how the word both (which concerns two things) fit in this verse with at least three things: signs, wonders, and miracles. But… 

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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Once I scrutinized the sentence struc-ture, I discovered that the word actu-ally modifies Jesus and the apostles in the previous clause; i.e., God bore wit-ness toboth Jesus and His apostles by means of signs, won-ders, and miracles.

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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Although in reverse order, this same list is also in Acts 2:22. Itdoesn’tseemtobe the case that signs, wonders, and mira-cles were 3 different types of feats, but 3 different words pic-turing 3 different things accomplished by unnatural deeds in the eyes of the audience. E.g….

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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To one person the healing of someone would be a sign—a miraculous proof of the authority of the miracle-worker; to another it’d be a wonder—something that secured one’s attention for the miracle-worker; to another it’dbe amir- acle—a work from God, the only One…

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?

…whohas thepower to perform such supernaturalacts.


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Another way to put this is that super-natural occurrences can be described as signs in their pur-pose (affecting intel-lect), wonders in their nature (affect-ing emotion), & mira-cles in their origin (producing faith).

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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The original for this word (being from the term that we get dyna-mite) actually means powers; Jesus and the apostles always gave God the glory for the powerthat worked in/through them.

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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Well…

The original term for this word has refer-ence to the idea of distribution; i.e., the Spirit had and used the authority to dis-tribute the various miraculous gifts, something written about at length in 1st Cor.12:4-11.

…God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various mira-cles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, accord-ing to His own will?


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Due to all the wondrous ways in which Jesus transcends the prophets and the angels (including, as discussed in chapter one, His being the perfect Savior), they were expected to not only be more grateful to God than ever before, but also to demonstrate their gratefulness more than ever before by not neglect-ing that which God had given them at such great sacrifice! As Jesus Himself once said, To whom much is given, from himmuch willbe required[or expected] (Luke 12:48).


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Because they had begun to lose their determination under the pressure of Judaizers to return to the Law of Moses, Paul essentially told them that if there was ever a time in their Jewish history that they needed to pay atten-tion to their relationship with God,that time was now!


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Paraphrase:Because Jesus is superior to an-gels, it’snecessarythatweholdtothethings that we’ve heard concerning our salvation lest we lose it. Since the Old Law proved to be true, and since God dispensed righteous punishmentoneveryonewhorefusedtohear and obey Him, then surely we don’t think we canescape the punishment that’s coming nowifwedisregardthegreatsalvationwe’ve waitedonforgenerations! Thissalvationwas first preached by Jesus, then confirmed to us bythosewhoheardHimpersonally.Godprovedtheauthenticityofboth Jesus and His apostles by performing signs, wonders, and various powers, all of which were distributed by the Holy Spirit according as He willed.


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