The video commentary on Hebrews continues. Previous posts include:
Hebrews 1:1-4 (encomium)
Hebrews 1:5-14 (catena of celebration)
Now an 8 minute commentary on 2:1-4:
Explanatory Notes (Hebrews 2:1-4)
2:1 On account of this, let us hold fast to the things we have heard lest at some time we drift away.
This is a conclusion that follows from the previous chapter. "On account of this," is "because Christ is greater than the angels." Angels are only ministering spirits sent for those about to inherit salvation.
The things we have heard are the "word of salvation" first spoken by the Lord that the author will quickly mention. Drifting away is not just a hypothetical for the author but a real possibility. If we do not remain faithful, we will not make it.
2:2 For if the word that was spoken through angels became firm and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment...
The author is constructing a "lesser to greater argument," also called an a minore ad minorem, an a fortiori, and in Hebrew, a qal wahomer argument. If something is true of the lesser angels, then it will certainly be true of the greater Christ. The idea that the Jewish law was brought to Moses through angels appears in intertestamental Judaism and several times in the NT (e.g., Gal. 3 and Acts 7).
2:3a ... how will we escape, if we neglect such a great salvation that received the beginning of speaking through the Lord...
If the angels, along with the prophets, were mediums of God's revelation in the old covenant, Christ is the one through whom God has spoken his most recent logos. Christ thus does not appear to be directly equivalent to the word itself in Hebrews' imagery.
Interesting is that what is contrasted is the punishment. Christians often conceptualize the OT as a time of punishment and the NT as a time of grace. It is not so for Hebrews. If the punishment of disobedience was large in the old covenant, you can imagine it will be large under the new covenant.
2:3b ... and was confirmed to us by those who heard him [the Lord],
This single comment effectively eliminates Paul as the author of Hebrews. It would be completely unprecedented for Paul to place himself not among those who had direct contact with the Lord but with those who did above him (Peter, etc...). Paul rather considers himself equal to the apostles and an eyewitness (1 Cor. 9:1).
2:4 God confirming at the same time both with signs and wonders and various powers and dispensations of the Holy Spirit according to His will.
Interesting is that the train of thought seems to indicate that it was the apostles who did signs and wonders. Since the audience knew these people, we cannot pretend as if these signs and wonders were merely legend. Those second generation Christians who passed on the word of salvation must have done wonders.