Centrality of the Son in the Kingdom of God is a 7-part series. You can find others here:
- Introduction, Summary, and Promulgation of the Kingdom (8/27/18)
- Enthronement of Son (9/3/18)
- Qualities of the Kingdom of God – Heb 2:1-4:13 (9/10/18)
- The Restoration Ministry of Jesus (9/17/18)
- Kingdom and Covenant Relationship & Hebrews as God’s People (9/24/18)
- Promise & Oath: First Covenant Incomplete (10/1/18)
- New Covenant Complete, Summary & Conclusion (10/8/18)
Qualities of the Kingdom of God – Heb. 2:1-4:13
Kingdom Depends on Purification for Sins (Heb. 2:1-8)
As we mentioned in the first section under promulgation of the Kingdom of God, Hebrews 1:3 specifies that Son was enthroned only when he had made “purification for sins.” Without the purification for humankind’s sins no kingdom could have been established which humans would be able to enjoy. Jesus is identified as the Son who had to “taste death for every one” (2:9) for it was only through death he could take the dominion of humans from the devil (2:14).
Jesus Restored Dominion
Through suffering, the Son was made perfect (2:10). τελειῶσαι here means “bring to an end, bring to its goal or to accomplish.” 1Understood in this way, we see that Jesus was not made perfect morally but rather he accomplished or achieved the goal for which he came, that is, he restored dominion to humankind. He could not be made perfect morally because he was already perfect morally. By making purification for sins, Jesus achieved a victory over Satan. He freed those who were “subject to lifelong bondage” (v.15) and brought them into the Kingdom of God. Through purification for sins (see Westcott on τελείωσις), humankind can come out of darkness into light. He “does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (Jn 5:24). 2
Message of Salvation Is New Dominion in Christ
All Hebrews is based on this work of Christ. The enthronement of Jesus (chapter one) occurs because he has perfected God’s Kingdom among men. Hebrews 2:1 urges us to be careful we understand “what we have heard.” “What we have heard” means the message proclaimed in chapter one that Christ has been enthroned over the Kingdom of God.
New Prefigured by Old
“The message declared by angels” in 2:2 refers to the first covenant which looked forward to the messianic kingdom. This was spoken of in 1:1. That covenant was “our custodian until Christ came…”(Gal 3:24). There were conditions to it that had to be followed and transgressions of its laws were punished. In the same way, verse three warns us we will be punished if we neglect the benefits of Christ’s Kingdom, that is, the “great salvation” which was declared by the Lord, attested by eyewitnesses and verified by God (v.4).
Humankind’s Former Dominion Lost
Hebrews 2:5-8 recounts the nature of humankind’s previous enthronement by God. God “crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (v.7-8). When God created humankind he blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen 1:28). Dominion was given to the progenitors of our race. Hebrews 2:8 tells us everything was in subjection to humankind but that condition is not seen now. The reason it is not seen at present is the result of Adam and Eve’s sin. They disobeyed God’s word, surrendered their dominion to Satan and lost it. Even the earth was cursed because of their sin (Gen 3:17) but God promised that a time would come in which the seed of the woman would defeat Satan, thus restoring dominion to humans (Gen 3:15). This restoration was fulfilled in Jesus, God’s Son, the eternal Word. In his expository book Understanding the Book of Hebrews, Cargill writes, “Adam yielded to temptation and died; Jesus resisted and conquered death to live forever.“ 3