Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1-4) These verses must be closely joined with the first chapter. Before advancing to the next step in his argument, the writer pauses to enforce the duty which results from what has been already established. But (as in Hebrews 4:14-16) the exhortation does not interrupt the thought, but rather serves as a connecting link. (See Note on Hebrews 2:5.)
(1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard.—Better, to the things heard; for this expression contains the complement of the thought of Hebrews 1:1. Both “speak” and “hear” are words which carry weighty emphasis in this Epistle. (See Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 12:25; Hebrews 3:5; Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 4:2, et al.) Because of the supreme dignity of Him in whom at the last God speaks, men are bound to give the more earnest heed to the words spoken, whether heard by them from the Lord Himself or (as in this case, Hebrews 2:3) from His servants.
Lest at any time we should let them slip.—This translation (first introduced by the Genevan Bible of 1560) substantially gives the sense, but inverts the figure presented in the Greek. The words must be rendered, lest possibly we drift away (Wiclif, “lest perauenture we fleten awey”). It is the man that is in danger of being carried along by the current: unless the mind be held closely to the words that God has spoken, it must drift away from them, and from the salvation which they promise. There seems no foundation for the rendering of the margin, first given in the Genevan Testament of 1557.
‘LET them slip’; that conveys a vivid picture of a man holding some treasure with limp fingers, and allowing it to drop from his nerveless grasp. But, striking as that picture is, the one which is really expressed by the original word is more striking still The Revised Version correctly renders, instead of, ‘we should let them slip,’ ‘we drift away from them’; and that is the real meaning.
‘Drifting’ is the thing to be afraid of. Just as some boat, not made fast to the bank, certainly glides down stream so quietly and with so little friction that her passengers do not know that they are moving until they come up on deck, and see new fields around them, so the ‘things which we have heard,’ and to which we ought to be moored or anchored, we shall drift, drift, drift away from, and, in nine eases out of ten, shall not feel that we are moving, till we are roused by hearing the noise of the whirlpools and the falls close ahead of us; and look round and see a strange country. ‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest, haply, we should drift away from them.’
I. So my text suggests, first, our danger.
We are in danger of drifting unconsciously from the anchorage of our faith - namely, the great words which we have heard. The currents that are brought to bear upon us run as strong as do any that are marked on charts and are the terror of sailors, and they need as careful steering and as great engine-power to resist them. Let us try to think of one or two of them. There is the current of years. Time changes us all; and there is many a professing Christian who all unconsciously has slid away from his early better self, and is not now as devout a man - or with his life as completely under the influence of Christ and His gospel as he was in the early days. He keeps up appearances, but they are deceptive, and years have carried him down the stream and away from his old self.
There is the current of familiarity with the truth-It is a sad illustration of the weakness of human nature that we all tend to think that the familiar is commonplace, and that it is almost impossible for us, without a very specific and continuous effort, to keep up as fresh and deep an interest in a truth that we have believed all our days as in one that comes to us with the attraction of novelty. It has been well said that the most certain truths too often lie ‘in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with exploded errors.’ We all know how silently and unconsciously we lose our hold of the things that we think to be most surely believed among us; and whilst we fancy that we are grasping them they are gone from us just because we had never doubted, and always ‘believed’ them. Conjurers will tell you that if you press a coin in a man’s palm and shut the hand quickly, he does not know for a moment or two whether the coin remains there or not. There are many of us who have closed our hands on the precious gold coin of the gospel, and it has been filched away from us, and we do not know that it has been until we open our hand and see the empty palm. We drift away by time and by familiarity.
Then there is constantly acting upon us the current of the continual pressure of our daily cares and anxieties and duties and joys. All these in their minuteness and their multiplicity tend to weaken our possession of, and to carry us away from, the great central truths of the gospel. A snowflake is a very tiny thing, but when the air is full of them, minute as they are, their white multitudes will bring death and a grave to the creatures on which they fall. And so the thousand trifles of our daily lives are all acting upon us, whether we know it or not, to absorb interest and attention and effort, and to Withdraw all three from ‘the truths which we have heard.’ You may remember the story of the man in the Old Testament who had a prisoner put into his hands, with an injunction to guard carefully against his escape; and how, as he naively says, ‘As thy servant was busy here and there, lo! he was gone. I had so many other things to do, on this side and that, and in front and behind, that I could not always keep my eyes on him; and he slipped through my fingers, and showed a clean pair of heels, and that is all I know. I never knew that he had gone until I came to look for him in an interval of my business, and found his fetters were empty.’
Ah, dear friends, that is the history of the decline and fall of many a professing Christian’s Christianity: ‘Thy servant was busy here and there doing his day’s work’ - the legitimate things that we are bound to do, and which are not meant to be occasions for withdrawing our hold of the truths of the gospel, but for deepening it. We are busied about them. and that which was committed to our care sups away, and we never know it.
Yes, and it is not only ‘secular’ work that does that. It may be done by what is called Christian work too. I believe, for my part, that much as one rejoices in the continual calls for service and activity that are addressed to the Christian Church to-day, there is a distinct danger that there shall be so much work that there is no time for solitude, for contemplation, for reviewing and deepening our communion with Jesus Christ. And I sometimes feel as if I would like to say to all Sunday-school teachers, and visitors, and Christian Endeavourers, and all the host of ‘Christian workers’: ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile,’ and then you will be ready for better work. At all events, it is quite possible - if we may so use a phrase which is, perhaps, done violence to in such a use - to water other people’s vineyards, and leave our own vines to die for want of tending and irrigation.
There are other currents as well, about which I need not say much here, but no doubt they are running very strong to-day, all round us: tides of opinion and ways of thinking about the gospel which will rob us, if we do not take care, of the simplicity and depth of our faith in that Saviour. I just specify these four currents: time, familiarity, work, and the prevalent tone of the people round about us - all these forces are continually operating on the Christian men and women of this day, and in many cases are doing their deadly work.
II. So let me say that, secondly, my text suggests our security.
‘Let us give the more earnest heed.’ Just because these forces are in operation, therefore there is more need that the vessel shall Be very safely moored to the strong post on the quay, than there would he if it was lying in a tideless harbour where the water was motionless. ‘The more earnest heed’ - if we know the danger we have gone a long way to escape it. If we will open our eyes to the fact that all about us there are thieves lurking and waiting to steal away our possessions, then we shall have done something towards securing the possessions. As in Christ’s parable, there are light-winged flocks of birds filling the air about us, and ready to pounce down upon the seed the moment the sower’s back is turned, and with a dig and a peck to pick it up, and then with glancing whir of the wings to be off, bearing away their prey out of sight and out of shot. If we realise that that is the condition of things, we shall have boys with clappers in the field to keep off the birds, at all events. If we have a clear sight of the fact that the world is full of thieves, we shall be likely to get strong locks to our doors, and bars to the windows, and not go to sleep, lest the house should be broken into.
But let me say a word or two about what we ought to do. ‘Let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard.’ That word ‘give heed’ suggests that there must be a concentration of attention, and a distinct effort of will in the way of resisting the tendencies. If you hold a thing slackly it goes out of your hands. If you have flung a careless bight of the rope round the post, and then lie down to sleep, the force of the stream will do the rest. There must be resistance to the continually acting tendencies, or they will become facts and realities. I have already suggested in the previous remarks what seems to me to be the great thing wanted in our present average Christian character, and that is the honest occupation of mind and heart with the truths of the gospel. We read newspapers, books, and magazines of all sorts, and we do not read our Bibles as our fathers used to do. There are many professing Christian people who do not make the Word of God familiar by daily and prayerful perusal; and there are many who do not understand much more about the whole majestic orb of divine truth than the one bit of it that they beheld at first, when they turned from darkness to light. That Jesus Christ is your Saviour is, in one sense, the whole gospel, but that is no reason for your not trying to understand all that is involved in, and all that flows from, that great truth, and all on which it rests as upon rock pillars. If we had more honest occupation of thought with, and more quiet feeding like a ruminant animal upon, the truths of the gospel, we might bid defiance to all the currents to sweep us away.
There is another thing by which we may hold ourselves fast moored to these truths - that is, by bringing them habitually to bear upon and to shape and dominate the little things of our daily lives. One way by which we can freshen up the most familiar, common, place truth is by acting on it. If you will do that, you will find that the old truths have sap and vitality in them yet. People talk about ‘toothless commonplaces.’ Take the commonplaces of your Christian profession, and conscientiously try to shape your lives by them; and take my word for it, you will find that they are not toothless. There is a bite in them If s man wants to be confirmed in his creed, let him make it the law of his conduct. So if we will meditate upon the truth, and if we will live the truth, we may snap our fingers at all the currents that seek to draw us away from it.
III. And now one last word. - My text suggests the reasons for this exhortation.
You will notice that it begins with a ‘therefore,’ and that ‘therefore’ sums up all that has gone before in the epistle; and it is further expanded by a ‘for’ which follows. And what are the reasons thus suggested? I have no time to enlarge on them, and I do not know that they need it.
They are three, and the first of them is the dignity of the speaker. The writer has just been demonstrating the superiority of the Son by whom ‘God hath, in these last times, spoken unto us,’ over all former ministers and messengers of His Word, and over all angels before His throne. And he says, because such august lips have spoken, ‘Let us give earnest heed to the things which we have heard.’ For ‘if the words spoken by angels’ demanded attention, how much more the word spoken ‘in these last times unto us by the Son,’ ‘whom He hath appointed heir of all things.’ That is reason number one.
Reason number two is the steadfastness of the truth. I have been working perhaps till it is threadbare the metaphor underlying my text; I come back to it for a moment more. What is the good of a strong cable, which is my faith, unless it is wrapped round a strong post? Why should I give heed to a truth, unless it is an irrefragable and undeniable and important truth? And so says this writer, it is worth your while to give your whole attention to these truths, and to grapple yourselves to them with hooks of steel, for they stand fast, The word spoken by angels was steadfast, but the word of the gospel was at the first spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed by them that heard it. He fixed the post; they hammered it in; there it stands. You may hold on to it, and if your tackle does not give, nothing will sweep you away.
And reason number three is, what we lose if we let our moorings there slip.
‘For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received its just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect...’ - not reject; not fight against, simply ‘neglect’ - ‘so great salvation,’ and so let ourselves be drifted away from the things which we have heard?Hebrews 2:1. Therefore, &c. — The foregoing display of the greatness of the Son of God being designed to convince mankind of the great excellence and importance of that gospel of which he is the author, and of the great guilt of disobeying, neglecting, or apostatizing from it, the apostle now proceeds to caution his readers against these evils, solemnly warning them of the awful consequences thereof, and urging them to pay the utmost attention to the things which they had heard from Jesus and his apostles, that is, to the contents of the gospel in general, whether historical, doctrinal, preceptive, promissive, or comminatory. Therefore, says he, δια τουτο, on this account, because the Son, by whom God has spoken to us in these last days, and given us his gospel, is so glorious a person, infinitely superior even to the holy angels, and much more to every merely human messenger formerly sent by God to men; we ought to give the more earnest heed to it — More than the Israelites gave of old to the law, which had not such an immediate author, and more than we ourselves have formerly given to the gospel itself, when we were less acquainted with its excellence and importance. We ought to take heed that we neither forfeit nor lose our interest in it; to the things which we have heard — So the apostle expresses the doctrine of the gospel with respect to the way and manner whereby it was communicated, namely, by preaching, an ordinance which he magnifies, making it, as every where else, the great means of begetting faith in men, Romans 10:14-15. So that he insists upon and recommends to them, not only the things themselves, wherein they had been instructed, but also the way whereby they were made acquainted with them: this, as the means of their believing, as the ground of their profession, they were diligently to remember and attend to. The apostle says we ought, joining himself with them to whom he wrote, to manifest that the duty he exhorted them to was of general concern to all to whom the gospel was preached, so that he laid no singular burden on them; and that he might not as yet discover to them any suspicion of their inconstancy, or make them suppose that he entertained any severe thoughts concerning them; apprehensions whereof are apt to render exhortations suspected, the minds of men being very ready to disregard what they are persuaded to, if they suspect that undeserved blame is the ground of the exhortation. Lest at any time we should let them slip — Namely, out of our minds; lest we should lose the remembrance of them, or the impression they once made upon us. The Greek, μη ποτε παραρρυωμεν, is literally, lest we should run out, namely, as leaky vessels which let the water, poured into them one way, run out many ways. The word relates to the persons, not to the things, because it contains a crime. It is our duty to retain the word which we have heard, and therefore it is not said that the water flows out, but that we, as it were, pour it out, losing that negligently which we ought to have retained. And, says Dr. Owen, “there is an elegant metaphor in the word; for as the drops of rain falling on the earth water it and make it fruitful, so does the celestial doctrine make fruitful unto God the souls of men upon whom it descends: and hence, with respect to the word, of the gospel, Christ is said to come down as the showers on the mown grass, Psalm 72:6; and the apostle calls preaching the gospel, watering men, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; and compares them to whom it is preached, to the earth that drinketh in the rain, Hebrews 6:7. Hence men are here said to pour out the word preached, when, by negligence, they lose, instead of retaining, the benefit of the gospel. So when our Lord compares the same word to seed, he illustrates men’s falling from it by all the ways and means whereby seed, cast into the earth, may be lost or become unprofitable.” It may not be improper to observe here, that as water is lost gradually out of a leaky vessel, so the remembrance of, and faith in, the truths of the gospel, with the enlightening, quickening, renewing, strengthening, and comforting influence produced by them, are usually lost gradually, perhaps also insensibly. We lose, 1st, Our remembrance of them; 2d, Our love to and relish for them; and, 3d, The effect produced by them, perhaps both the internal graces and the external virtues flowing therefrom. The apostle says, lest at any time we should let them slip. Some lose their grace in a time of peace and prosperity, some in a time of persecution and adversity, and some in the hour of peculiar temptation: for God in his wisdom suffers such an hour to come upon the church for its trial, and upon every member of it, that they may be conformed to their Head, who had his special seasons of temptation. In this trying time many lose the good effects of the word they have heard, either wholly or in some measure. They are cast into a negligent slumber by the opiates of temptation, and when they awake and consider the state of their hearts and lives, they find that the whole efficacy of the word is lost. The ways also, it ought to be observed, whereby this woful effect is produced, are various; as, 1st, The love of the world, which made Demas a leaky vessel, 2 Timothy 4:10; and choked the fourth part of the seed in the parable, Matthew 13:22. 2d, The love of sin; a vile affection or corrupt passion will make the spiritual vessel full of chinks, so that it will not retain the spiritual water. Again, 3d, False doctrine, formality in worship, contentions and divisions among the serious professors of religion, will easily produce, if yielded to, the same unhappy effect. Let the reader, thus warned, be upon his guard in these and such like respects.
We ought - It is suitable or proper (Greek δεὶ dei) that we should attend to those things. When the Son of God speaks to people, every consideration makes it appropriate that we should attend to what is spoken.
To give the more earnest heed. - To give the more strict attention.
To the things which we have heard. - Whether directly from the Lord Jesus, or from his apostles. It is possible that some of those to whom the apostle was writing had heard the Lord Jesus himself preach the gospel: others had heard the same truths declared by the apostles.
Lest at any time. - We ought to attend to those things at all times. We ought never to forget them; never to be indifferent to them. We are sometimes interested in them, and then we feel indifferent to them; sometimes at leisure to attend to them, and then the cares of the world, or a heaviness and dullness of mind, or a cold and languid state of the affections, renders us indifferent to them, and they are suffered to pass out of the mind without concern. Paul says, that this ought never to be done. At no time should we be indifferent to those things. They are always important to us, and we should never be in a state of mind when they would be uninteresting. At all times; in all places; and in every situation of life, we should feel that the truths of religion are of more importance to us than all other truths, and nothing should be suffered to efface their image from the heart.
We should let them slip. - Margin, "Run out as leaking vessels." Tyndale renders this, "lest we be spilt." The expression here has given rise to much discussion as to its meaning; and has been very differently translated. Doddridge renders it, "lest we let them flow out of our minds." Prof. Stuart, "lest at any time we should slight them." Whitby: "that they may not entirely slip out of our memories." The word used here - παραῤῥυέω pararrueō - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The Septuagint translators have used the word only once. Proverbs 3:21. "Son, do not pass by (μὴ παραῤῥυῇς mē pararruēs but keep my counsel;" that is, do not pass by my advice by neglect, or suffer it to be disregarded. The word means, according to Passow, to flow by, to flow over; and then to go by, to fall, to go away. It is used to mean to flow near, to flow by - as of a river; to glide away, to escape - as from the mind, that is, to forget; and to glide along - as a thief does by stealth. See Robinson's Lexicon. The Syriac and Arabic translators have rendered it: "that we may not fall." After all that has been said on the meaning of the word here (compare Stuart in loc.), it seems to me that the true sense of the expression is that of flowing, or gliding by - as a river; and that the meaning here is, that we should be very cautious that the important truths spoken by the Redeemer and his apostles should not be suffered to "glide by" us without attention, or without profit. We should not allow them to be like a stream that glides on by us without benefiting us; that is, we should endeavor to secure and retain them as our own. The truth taught, is that there is great danger, now that the true system of religion has been revealed, that it will not profit us, but that we shall lose all the benefit of it. This danger may arise from many sources - some of which are the following:
(1) We may not feel that the truths revealed are important - and before their importance is felt, they may be beyond our reach. So we are often deceived in regard to the importance of objects - and before we perceive their value they are irrecoverably gone. So it is often with time, and with the opportunities of obtaining an education, or of accomplishing any object which is of value. The opportunity is gone before we perceive its importance. So the young suffer the most important period of life to glide away before they perceive its value, and the opportunity of making much of their talents is lost because they did not embrace the suitable opportunities.
(2) by being engrossed in business. We feel that that is now the most important thing. That claims all our attention. We have no time to pray, to read the Bible, to think of religion, for the cares of the world engross all the time - and the opportunities of salvation glide insensibly away, until it is too late.
(3) by being attracted by the pleasures of life. We attend to them now, and are drawn along from one to another, until religion is suffered to glide away with all its hopes and consolations, and we perceive, too late, that we have let the opportunity of salvation slip forever. Allured by those pleasures, the young neglect it; and new pleasures starting up in future life carry on the delusion, until every favorable opportunity for salvation has passed away.
(4) we suffer favorable opportunities to pass by without improving them. Youth is by far the best time, as it is the most appropriate time, to become a Christian - and yet how easy is it to allow that period to slip away without becoming interested in the Saviour! One day glides on after another, and one week, and one month, one year passes away after another - like a gently-flowing stream - until all the precious time of youth has gone, and we are still not Christians. So a revival of religion is a favorable time - and yet many suffer this to pass by without becoming interested in it. Others are converted, and the heavenly influences descend all around us, but we are unaffected, and the season so full of happy and heavenly influences is gone - to return no more.
(5) we let the favorable season slip, because we design to attend to it at some future period of life. So youth defers it to manhood - manhood to old age - old age to a death-bed - and then neglects it - until the whole of life has glided away, and the soul is not saved. Paul knew man. He knew how prone he was to let the things of religion slip out of the mind - and hence, the earnestness of his caution that we should give heed to the subject now - lest the opportunity of salvation should soon glide away. When once passed, it can never be recalled. Hence, learn:
(1) the truths of religion will not benefit us unless we give heed to them. It will not save us that the Lord Jesus has come and spoken to people, unless we are disposed to listen. It will not benefit us that the sun shines, unless we open our eyes. Books will not benefit us, unless we read them; medicine, unless we take it; nor will the fruits of the earth sustain our lives, however rich and abundant they may be, if we disregard and neglect them. So with the truths of religion. There is truth enough to save the world - but the world disregards and despises it.
(2) it needs not great sins to destroy the soul. Simple "neglect" will do it as certainly as atrocious crimes. Every person has a sinful heart that will destroy him unless he makes an effort to be saved; and it is not merely the great sinner, therefore, who is in danger. It is the man who "neglects" his soul - whether a moral or an immoral man - a daughter of amiableness, or a daughter of vanity and vice.
Heb 2:1-18. Danger of Neglecting So Great Salvation, First Spoken by Christ; to Whom, Not to Angels, the New Dispensation Was Subjected; though He Was for a Time Humbled below the Angels: This Humiliation Took Place by Divine Necessity for Our Salvation.
1. Therefore—Because Christ the Mediator of the new covenant is so far (Heb 1:5-14) above all angels, the mediators of the old covenant.
the more earnest—Greek, "the more abundantly."
heard—spoken by God (Heb 1:1); and by the Lord (Heb 2:3).
let them slip—literally "flow past them" (Heb 4:1).Hebrews 2:1-4 The obligation we are under to give more earnest heed
(1) Now pausing to show to what end and purpose all these things were spoken, that is, to understand by the excellency of Christ above all creatures, that his doctrine, majesty and priesthood, is most perfect, he uses an exhortation taken from a comparison.
(a) He makes himself a hearer.
(b) They are said to let the word run out, who do not hold it securely and remember the word when they have heard it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 2:1. Διὰ τοῦτο] therefore, sc. because Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant, is as the Son of God so highly exalted above the angels, the intermediate agents in the giving of the Old Covenant.
δεῖ] indication of the inner necessity resulting of itself from the described conditions.
περισσοτέρως] so much the more, sc. than would be the case if He who proclaimed the ἀκουσθέντα were one of lower rank. We have not, however, to connect περισσοτέρως with δεῖ (Grotius, Bengel, Dindorf, Böhme, Kuinoel), but with προσέχειν as the main idea.
προσέχειν τινὶ πρ.] to give heed or attention to anything, sc. in order to hold fast to it.
τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν] to that which has been heard. The salvation preached by the Lord and His immediate disciples is intended, of which the readers had heard. Comp. Hebrews 2:3.
μήποτε παραῤῥυῶμεν] lest haply we should be carried past it (comp. LXX. Proverbs 3:21 : υἱὲ μὴ παραῤῥυῇς, τήρησον δὲ ἐμὴν βουλὴν καὶ ἔννοιαν), i.e. lest we lose it, fail of obtaining the salvation promised to us by the word we have heard; comp. Hebrews 2:3. The interpretation of Erasmus, Clarius, Beza, Cameron, Stuart, al.: lest we forget it, or let it escape attention, is unmeaning and almost tautological, παραῤῥυῶμεν (or παραρυῶμεν, as Lachmann and Tischendorf 2 and 7 write it, after A B* D* L א), moreover, is not, as Wittich, Dindorf, and others suppose, conjunctive present active of παραῤῥυέω,—for the forms παραῤῥυέω, παραῤῥύω, παραῤῥύημι are mere figments of the grammarians, in order to derive certain tenses therefrom,—but sec. aorist conjunct, passive from ΠΑΡΑῤῬΈΩ.
 Without warrant Delitzsch denies this. He has not been able to adduce an instance in favour of the opposite opinion.
Hebrews 2:1-4. The author, in availing himself of the communicative form of speech, deduces from the superiority of the Son over the angels, set forth in chap. 1, as likewise from the fact that even the Mosaic law, given through the instrumentality of angels, could not be transgressed with impunity, the imperative obligation for the readers to hold fast to the salvation revealed by Christ, securely handed down, and confirmed by God with miracles. Thus there already comes out here the paraenetic main tendency of the epistle: to animate the Hebrews, urgently exposed as they were to the peril of apostasy, to perseverance in the Christian faith, as this aim is also manifested elsewhere in repeated admonitions (e.g. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 10:23); although the author has the intention of speaking further concerning the relation of Christ to the angels (comp. Hebrews 2:5 ff.).Hebrews 2:1-4. From this proved superiority of the Son to the angels the writer deduces the warning that neglect of the salvation proclaimed by the Lord Himself and attested by God in miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost will incur heavier punishment than that which was inflicted upon those who neglected the word spoken by angels.1. Therefore] Because we are heirs of a better covenant, administered not by Angels but by a Son, to whom as Mediator an absolute dominion is to be assigned.
we ought] The word implies moral necessity and not mere obligation. The author never loses sight of the fact that his purpose was to warn as well as to teach.
to give the more earnest heed] If the command to “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently lest thou forget the things that thine eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9) came with awful force to those who had only received the Law by the disposition of Angels, how much “more abundantly” should Christians attend to Him of Whom Moses had spoken to their fathers? (Acts 3:22).
to the things which we have heard] Lit., “to the things heard,” i.e. to the Gospel.
lest at any time] Rather, “lest haply.”
we should let them slip] Rather, “should drift away from them.” Wiclif rendered the word more correctly than the A. V. which here follows the Genevan Bible of 1560—“lest peradventure we fleten away.” The verb thus resembles the Latin praetervehi. The metaphor is taken from a boat which having no “anchor sure and steadfast,” slips its anchor, and as Luther says in his gloss, “before her landing shoots away into destruction” (Proverbs 3:21 LXX. υἱὲ μὴ παραῤῥυῆς). It is obvious that these Hebrew converts were in great danger of “drifting away” from the truth under the pressure of trial, and in consequence of the apathy produced by isolation and deferred hopes (Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:36-37, Hebrews 12:1-3).Hebrews 2:1. Δεῖ) Elsewhere he uses the verb ὀφείλειν, to owe; here δεῖ, it behoves. The former implies obligation; the latter urgent danger, Hebrews 2:3. Now the discourse is verging towards exhortation, point by point corresponding to the preceding chapter, concerning Christ the prophet, the king, the priest: concerning Him as the prophet, for it is said, He hath spoken, Hebrews 2:2 : concerning Him as king, for it is said, Thy throne, Hebrews 2:8 : concerning Him as priest, for it is said, He hath made purification, Hebrews 2:3. And so ch. 2, concerning Him as prophet, presently in Hebrews 2:1, etc.: concerning Him as king, Thou hast crowned, Hebrews 2:7 : concerning Him as priest, everywhere. The exhortation begins in the first person; then becomes stronger in the second, ch. Hebrews 3:1.—περισσοτέρως, the more abundantly) The comparative in the strict sense; comp. the following verses: it is construed with δεῖ, it behoves.—προσέχειν, to attend, to give heed) by obedience; comp. Hebrews 2:2, note.—τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσι, to the things which we have heard) The reference is to ch. Hebrews 1:1, at the end: and comp. below Hebrews 2:3, ch. Hebrews 5:11. The part (office) of speaking and hearing is, therefore, superior to that of writing and reading.—μήποτε παραῤῥυῶμεν) 2d Aorist pass. with an act. signification, from ῥεύω, I flow, and I pour out: lest at any time, he says, we should [let them slip, Engl. Vers.] flow past (them); i.e. allow them to flow away with extreme levity of mind; comp. Genesis 49:4. The apostle had respect to the LXX., Proverbs 3:21, υἱὲ, μὴ παραῤῥυῆς, do not flow or slip by them, my son, let them not depart from thine eyes; where also, Proverbs 2:20, we read, νέφη ἐῤῥύη δρόσῳ, the clouds dropped with dew, in an active sense; and so everywhere. Zosimus, 50:2: ἡ Ῥωμαίων ἀρχὴ ὑπεῤῥύη κατὰ βραχὺ, the empire of the Romans gradually failed. Greg.: ἵνα μὴ ἐξίτηλα τῷ χρονῷ γένηται τὰ καλὰ καὶ μὴ παραῤῥυῇ, that what is beautiful should not be effaced by time and should not slip away. This word frequently occurs in a metaphorical sense. Hesychius: παραῤῥυῶμεν, ἐξολισθῶμεν. The punishment of the slothful is expressed by a similar word, ἐτάκησαν, they wasted away, or were consumed, Wis 1:16. The word stands: the slothful man slips away.Verses 1-5. - INTERPOSED EXHORTATION as explained above. Verse 1. - On this account (i.e. on account of what has been seen of the SON'S superiority to the angels) we ought (or, we are bound) more abundantly to give heed to the things that we have heard (i.e. the gospel that has been preached to us in the Son), lest at any time (or, lest haply) we let them slip (rather, float past them). The word παραρρυῶμεν (aorist subjunctive from παραρρέω) denotes flowing or floating past anything. The allusion is to the danger, incidental to those to whom the Epistle was addressed, of failing to recognize the transcendent character of the gospel revelation, missing it through inadvertence, drifting away from it.
Because you have received a revelation superior to that of the old dispensation, and given to you through one who is superior to the angels.
To give the more earnest heed (περισσοτέρως προσέξειν)
Lit. to give heed more abundantly. Προσέχειν to give heed, lit. to hold (the mind) to. oP. The full phrase in Job 7:17. Mostly in Luke, Acts, and the Pastorals. See on 1 Timothy 1:4. Περισσοτέρως more abundantly, in Hebrews only here and Hebrews 13:19; elsewhere only in Paul.
To the things which we have heard (τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν)
Lit. to the things which were heard, that is, from the messengers of the gospel. Comp. the phrase ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς the word of hearing, Hebrews 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Ἐυαγγέλιον gospel does not occur in the Epistle, and εὐαγγελίζεσθαι to proclaim good tidings, only twice.
We should let them slip (παραρυῶμεν)
Rend. should drift past them. N.T.o. From παρὰ by and ῥεῖν to flow. Of the snow slipping off from the soldiers' bodies, Xen. Anab. iv. 4, 11: of a ring slipping from the finger, Plut. Amat. 754: see also lxx, Proverbs 3:21, and Symmachus's rendering of Proverbs 4:21, "let not my words flow past (παραρρυησάτωσαν) before thine eyes." The idea is in sharp contrast with giving earnest heed. Lapse from truth and goodness is more often the result of inattention than of design. Drifting is a mark of death: giving heed, of life. The log drifts with the tide: the ship breasts the adverse waves, because some one is giving earnest heed.
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