|What does the "fear of death" mean in Hebrews 2?|
What is the significance of "fear of death" in this passage?
At least three explanations are possible for the statement in verse 16, "takes hold of the seed of Abraham" (JND). One is that it is just a way of stating for Hebrew readers that He became a man (wouldn’t everyone want to be a child of Abraham?). That would seem to merely repeat the truth of the earlier verses (vv 6-8) and also slight the accuracy of the Spirit’s inspiration. Second, some take it to refer to Abraham’s spiritual seed, all believers. That seems to be out of context with Abraham’s importance in the rest of Hebrews (6:13-18; 11:8-10) and it is truth from Galatians, rather than Hebrews.
The third possibility, taking it to mean that in becoming a man, Christ undertook to meet the need of the literal seed of Abraham, seems more consistent with the thrust of Hebrews. Abraham’s posterity possessed covenant promises from God. It was an everlasting covenant that promised them both the Land for an everlasting possession (Gen 17:4-8) and an Heir ("Thy Seed," singular) to possess it (13:15). But how could an heir claim an everlasting possession in a realm under the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:21) and death? The devil, who stands opposed to every purpose God has for His Son, accomplished a masterful stroke in Eden. All things might have been committed to the Son (John 3:35), but how could that work out in a creation where Satan held authority (Luke 4:6) and exerted the power of death? All the seed of Abraham lived with the "fear of death" in a realm of bondage under a ruler more fearsome than a Pharoah. None of them could claim the Land for an everlasting possession.
The expression "takes hold of" occurs one other time in Hebrews. "I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt" (8:9, quoting Jer 31:32). That redemption from Egypt prefigures another greater redemption when the Lord will bring them into their land for an everlasting inheritance. How?
There was One Who "took part" of flesh and blood with the children of Abraham’s line (Mat 1:1), Who would - by dying and breaking the power of death - nullify him that had the power of death. Now living and exalted, He waits for the day when His people willingly turn to Him and He will bring them into their promised rest.
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