For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,…
A third argument to justify the Incarnation. The writer has already shown, first, that the Incarnation was not degrading; and second, that it was actually becoming; he here goes on to say that it was necessary. Subject - The Incarnation a necessity of the redeeming work of Christ.
I. OUR LORD ON EARTH WAS A MAN AMONGST MEN. (Ver. 11.) "Partook of the same" (ver. 14). As usual, the writer appeals to the Jewish Scriptures; they assert, he says, the humanity of the Messiah.
1. The doctrine of the Incarnation is bused on the entire revelation of God. It does not depend on "proof-texts," but underlies the whole Book; it is the truth which gives unity to the whole, so that if it be removed the Scriptures fall to pieces and are inexplicable. How delicately it is woven into the web of Scripture and pervades the whole fabric, is seen in the particular texts the apostle quotes here. They are not the texts we should have chosen - indeed, we should hardly have applied them to Christ; but he who, like the writer, is taught by the Spirit, and has deepest spiritual insight into these pages, discerns Christ where others do not, as Jesus did when "beginning at Moses and all," etc. The Old Testament begins with the promise, "The seed of the woman," etc., goes on to state that he should be of the stock of Abraham, tribe of Judah, family of David, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, be a Man of sorrows, bear the chastisement of sins, and pour out his soul unto death; and then it closes with the declaration that he is about to come, and that his coming should be preceded by his forerunner. Then the Gospels come in as the counterpart and fulfill-merit of all that, and there is not an Epistle which follows which is not based on the fact with which Paul opens his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 1:3). This doctrine is the key to the Bible; and no wonder, for this is the great mystery of godliness, "God was manifest in the flesh."
2. This doctrine involves that Christ was at the same time possessed of two distinct natures. That is hinted at here, in "not ashamed to call [men] brethren," which intimates an act of condescension which could not be fulfilled by one who was merely man. You cannot imagine, it affirmed, e.g. of Moses, or Elijah, or Paul, or John, that they were "not ashamed," etc.; the bond of brotherhood in their case existed of necessity, and there could be no humility in admitting it, as is implied with regard to Jesus. The words are meaningless, unless he was by nature far exalted above man, and assumed man's nature voluntarily. Thus the writer who declares Christ's manhood plainly implies that Christ was more than man. He who walked the earth in human nature was at the same time the most high God. It is not that he laid aside his Godhead. He could not do that; God cannot undeify himself. Being God before the Incarnation (as he said, "Before Abraham was, I am"), he was God on earth as he must be forever. How it could be we know not, but our ignorance of the mode does not prove impossibility. He who "in the beginning was God... was made flesh."
3. The doctrine of the Incarnation asserts that, notwithstanding Christ's Godhead, he was a real man. In opposition to the later theories that his body was a phantom, or that his soul was not human, the writer asserts here that Christ was man in every respect save sin. Are not the particular texts quoted here chosen to prove this exhaustively? Man is a trinity - body, soul, and spirit; if Christ was man, he was human in these respects. "Behold I and the children which thou hast given me. Forasmuch as the children are sharers in flesh and blood." In the Old Testament the Messiah calls men his children; that points to likeness in physical nature. Christ was born, grew, needed food and rest, sweat drops of blood, was nailed to the cross, lay in the tomb, bore nail and spear marks. Christ had a human body. Again, "I will declare thy Name unto my brethren." Does not that - " brethren" - point to what we call soul, the seat of affection, emotion, thought, conscience, etc.? He increased in wisdom, was moved with compassion. "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus;" "Jesus wept." Christ had a human soul Again, "In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise," and again, "I will put my trust in him." Christ worshipping God, and trusting God! Doesn't that refer to what we call spirit, that part of our nature by which we are brought into fellowship with the Most High? Christ's spiritual life was wrought by the Holy Ghost as ours is, tempted by our tempter, cherished by the same Divine Word, needed communion with the Father, prayed and worshipped and trusted as ours do. Christ had a human spirit. Body, soul, and spirit, he was Man amongst men. Beware of supposing that, because he was God at the same time, his Godhead in any way lessened the infirmities and necessities of his humanity; he would not have been true man had it been so, and could have been no example to men. As God, there was the hiding of his power in his humanity. Christ entered on his work, and fulfilled it in the position in which Adam stood before he fell.
II. ONLY AS MAN COULD HE DELIVER MEN FROM BONDAGE. (Vers. 14, 15.) A confessedly difficult verse.
1. Death is curse. This text is made difficult of comprehension, because it is read as though it referred to the fear which Christians often have of dying. We must remove that idea from the text. The writer is dealing with what is much more fundamental than that. Observe, the text does not speak of bondage to the fear of death, but of bondage to Satan through the fear of death. The death here spoken of is death in its main idea. Death as curse; death as witnessing to man's sinful condition; death as the declaration that he is under condemnation. Man's fear of death is but another name for his sense of guilt, his knowledge that he is under the curse of the Almighty.
2. The curse being removed, man is set free to holiness. Holiness is the end of Christ's work. The passage begins with, "He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified." To sanctify us was his aim. But holiness is impossible where the "fear of death," i.e. a sense of being under the curse, is. There is only one principle from which holiness can spring - love to God (that is the difference between morality and holiness). But we can never love him till we know that he loves us - know, i.e., that the curse is removed. Holiness, however, is possible then; then obedience is voluntary, service joyous, surrender easy, resemblance to him certain.
3. Being set free to holiness, Satan's power is gone. He is here said to have "the power of death" - a remarkable expression, to which we must not attach the wrong meaning. Satan cannot inflict death, has no dominion over death. Christ says, "I have the keys," etc. But "fear of death," i.e. sense of being under the curse, is the power Satan wields to keep men in bondage. He blinds them to Divine love, tells them God is angry with them, is a hard Master, has no claim on them, and the result is that men continue in sin. But when their eyes are open to see he is a liar, that the curse is removed, that God is love, that God in Christ is able to extend mercy, then the soul breaks away from his bonds into that holiness which is liberty, and Satan's power ends.
4. This could only be accomplished by Christ's humanity. Only by Christ becoming man could the sense of curse be taken away. Its removal required that the curse should be endured by a substitute; but no substitute could be accepted in man's stead who was not of man's kind, and the Law must be obeyed by the nature to which it was given, and its penalty endured by the nature to which it was due. Moreover, if Christ is to suffer and die, he must have a nature capable of suffering and death. So the holiness of men is based on the humanity of Jesus.
III. AS IT WAS MEN CHRIST SOUGHT TO REDEEM, HIS MANHOOD WAS THEREFORE A NECESSITY. (Ver. 16.) The Old Version, owing to the words in italics, greatly mystifies this verse; as it stands in the Revised Version it is the natural completion of the writer's argument. The "taking bold" (or, "laying hold") is the laying bold to save. Christ assumed human nature, not angelic, because he is the Savior, not of angels, but of men.
1. Christ passed by the necessities of fallen angels. Here is a great mystery. Why did not Christ save fallen angels? We cannot tell. There may be a wide difference between the sins of devils and the sins of men. It has been suggested that the one love evil for its own sake, as when the tempter in the garden would wreck the world; and that the other love it for some fancied good it brings, as when the woman thought she saw a good, and therefore put forth her band and sinned. There may ha some such radical difference which makes salvation possible only in the one case, but we are not told; all we know is "the angels which kept not their first estate, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." "He took not bold of angels."
2. Christ stretched out his redeeming hand to man. He "laid hold of the seed of Abraham;' as a shepherd overtakes a sheep that is running away, lays hold of it, lays it on his shoulders rejoicing, and declares, "My sheep shall never perish, neither," etc. Mark the condescension of the Savior, and the exaltation of the human race. We are lost in astonishment as we see Christ pass by the myriads of celestial beings that had fallen, and set his heart on laying hold of us, that he might raise us as much higher than they, as the children of the king are higher than his servants. This involved the necessity of the Incarnation. But more - it reveals an unutterable desire on Christ's part that man should be saved, and the fact that man may be saved if he will. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,