|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-4 Christ being proved to be superior to the angels, this doctrine is applied. Our minds and memories are like a leaky vessel, they do not, without much care, retain what is poured into them. This proceeds from the corruption of our nature, temptations, worldly cares, and pleasures. Sinning against the gospel is neglect of this great salvation; it is a contempt of the saving grace of God in Christ, making light of it, not caring for it, not regarding either the worth of gospel grace, or the want of it, and our undone state without it. The Lord's judgments under the gospel dispensation are chiefly spiritual, but are on that account the more to be dreaded. Here is an appeal to the consciences of sinners. Even partial neglects will not escape rebukes; they often bring darkness on the souls they do not finally ruin. The setting forth the gospel was continued and confirmed by those who heard Christ, by the evangelists and apostles, who were witnesses of what Jesus Christ began both to do and to teach; and by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, qualified for the work to which they were called. And all this according to God's own will. It was the will of God that we should have sure ground for our faith, and a strong foundation for our hope in receiving the gospel. Let us mind this one thing needful, and attend to the Holy Scriptures, written by those who heard the words of our gracious Lord, and were inspired by his Spirit; then we shall be blessed with the good part that cannot be taken away.
Verses 2, 3. - For if the word that was spoken through angels (i.e. the Law) was made (or, proved) steadfast (i.e. as explained in the next clause, ratified by just visitation of every transgression and disobedience), how shall we (Christians) escape, if we neglect so great salvation? The danger of neglect must be in proportion to the dignity of the revelation. The readers are now further reminded of the manner in which the gospel had been made known to them, and been ratified in their own experience, by way of enhancing the danger of disregarding it. Which (not the simple relative pronoun η}, but ἥτις, which denotes always, when so used, some general idea in the antecedent, equivalent to "being such as"), having at the first begun to be spoken through the Lord (opposed to "the word spoken through angels" in the preceding verse. Its beginning was through the Lord himself, i.e. Christ the SON, not through intermediate agency. Ὁ Κύριος is a special designation of Christ in the New Testament; and, though not in itself proving belief in his divinity, is significant as being constantly used also as a designation of God, and substituted in the LXX. for יהוה. It has a special emphasis here as expressing the majesty of Christ), was confirmed (ἐβεβαιώθη, answering to ἐγένετο βέβαῖος in the former verse) unto us by them that heard (i.e. by the apostles and others who knew Christ in the flesh). Here the writer ranks himself among those who had not heard Christ himself; his doing which has been considered to afford a presumption against St. Paul having been the writer. For, though not an eyewitness of Christ's ministry, he is in the habit elsewhere of insisting strongly on his having received his "knowledge of the mystery," not from men or through men, but by direct revelation from the ascended Savior (cf. Galatians 1:1, 12). Still, he does not deny elsewhere that for the facts of Christ's history he was indebted to the testimony of others (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3, etc.). It was rather the meaning of the mystery that he had learnt from heaven.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,.... This is a description of the law, from whence the apostle argues to a stricter regard to the Gospel, as from the lesser to the greater: this is called "the word", and a terrible one it was; it was a voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; it was the word "spoken" with an articulate voice, and was heard by the Israelites, and it was spoken "by angels". Jehovah the Father's voice was never heard; when he came to give the law, ten thousand angels came along with him; and the ministry of these he used in the delivery of the law; by them he spoke it; they formed in the air the voices heard; it was ordained by them, and given by the disposition of them; see Acts 7:53. To which agree those words of Herod, spoken to the Jews, recorded by Josephus (b); that we learn of God, , "by angels", the best of doctrines, and the most holy things in the law. And this was "steadfast"; firm, and sure, being the word of God, which cannot pass away, until it be fulfilled: it was confirmed by terrible signs attending it, and by the people's assent unto it; the penalty of it is sure and certain, in case of disobedience; and as to the form and ministration of it, it remained until Christ, the end of it, came; and as to the matter of it, so far as of a moral nature, it still remains: the judicial and ceremonial parts of it are abrogated; and the whole of it is abolished, as in the hands of Moses, and as a covenant of works, and as to the curse and condemnation of it, and with respect to justification by it; but it still continues as a cursing law to all that are under it; and as a means of conviction to sinners in the hands of the Spirit; and as a rule of walk and conversation to saints, as in the hands of Christ:
and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; every precept of the law had a penalty annexed to it; and every breach of it was punished as that penalty required; and that according to the strict justice of God, and the just demerit of sin; and none escaped, but suffered the punishment due to the violation of the precept either in themselves, or in their surety; so steadfast and immovable was this law.
(b) Antiqu. l. 15. c. 5. sect. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. (Compare Heb 2:3.) Argument a fortiori.
spoken by angels—the Mosaic law spoken by the ministration of angels (De 33:2; Ps 68:17; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19). When it is said, Ex 20:1, "God spake," it is meant He spake by angels as His mouthpiece, or at least angels repeating in unison with His voice the words of the Decalogue; whereas the Gospel was first spoken by the Lord alone.
was steadfast—Greek, "was made steadfast," or "confirmed": was enforced by penalties on those violating it.
transgression—by doing evil; literally, overstepping its bounds: a positive violation of it.
disobedience—by neglecting to do good: a negative violation of it.
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