Hebrews 2:17-18

Greek:

ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ: ἐν γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι.

Translation: “Whence it behooved Him to be made like His brothers in all ways, so that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the things related to God (especially for propitiation with regard to the sins of the people). Since He has suffered, having been tempted, He is able to help those being tempted.”

Paul just finished telling us that it is not angels that Jesus helps, but rather the seed of Abraham, which is the covenant people of God. So, if Jesus is going to do that, then He needs to be made like us in every way. Of course, this does not mean that Jesus was sinful. He did not inherit our sinful nature. However, Jesus did take upon Himself the guilt of our sin. Our sin was reckoned to Christ, as if Christ had done it, even though He didn’t.

Some people might wonder just how much like us He is, if He never sinned. Can He really sympathize with our weaknesses if He has never sinned? The answer is yes. We have not resisted sin to the bitter end. Jesus has. Satan tried every trick in the book to get Jesus to sin. Jesus faced every single temptation known to mankind, and yet resisted successfully.

One big word in these verses is “propitiation.” The word means to appease someone. We have to be careful here. It is not as if God is some kind of homocidal maniac, and Jesus placated Him. After all, it was God the Father who sent Jesus into the world to bear the guilt of our sin (though only those who trust in Christ have this forgiveness). We were, however, children of wrath, as Paul says elsewhere. That wrath was diverted from us to Christ when Christ took our sins upon Himself on the tree. And so now Christ is our High Priest. He can sympathize with us, because He has suffered under temptation, and has taken the guilt of our sin away. Is Jesus your Great High Priest?

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13 Comments

  1. egomakarios said,

    November 30, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    “He did not inherit our sinful nature.”
    “We have not resisted sin to the bitter end. Jesus has.”

    So which is it? Is Jesus “yet without sin” because he resisted temptation to bitter end, and in the wording of Hebrews 12:4 resisted sin striving to blood.
    Or is he some sort of alien humanity born incapable of falling to temptation? You ought to take notice of For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” That “yet without sin” is related to his temptation, not his birth (as the WCF incorrectly has it). It is not that he was born without sin (since everyone is, although that heretic Augustine has half the world convinced otherwise) but that he resisted temptation to the end.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    November 30, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    He inherited human nature, but not as sinful. He inherited it in the same way that Adam was originally created. So, He is not an alien. That would go against the whole tenor of the passage. However, He was born not having any sin of His own, either original or actual.

    Rey, I have seen it presented that way many times as well. Many commentators on this passage also have!

  3. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 30, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    So which is it? Is Jesus “yet without sin” because he resisted temptation to bitter end, and in the wording of Hebrews 12:4 resisted sin striving to blood.
    Or is he some sort of alien humanity born incapable of falling to temptation?

    How about, he was like Adam. No sin nature, but theoretically capable of sinning.

  4. Machaira said,

    November 30, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    “It is not that he was born without sin (since everyone is, although that heretic Augustine has half the world convinced otherwise)”

    If no one is born with the taint of original sin, as you say, then verses such as the following make no sense:

    Eph 2:3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest . . .

    Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

  5. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    “How about, he was like Adam. No sin nature, but theoretically capable of sinning.”

    Theoretically would mean – among other things – not considering the hypostatic union, I suppose.

    -Turretinfan

  6. egomakarios said,

    November 30, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    “Satan tried every trick in the book to get Jesus to sin. Jesus faced every single temptation known to mankind, and yet resisted successfully.”

    TF, it is clear that he really resisted sin and was not merely an alien incapable of sin.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    December 1, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Well, He did really resist sin. That much is fact recorded in the Bible. However, His divine nature ensured that He would not sin. Using the term “alien” is a bit pejorative perhaps to describe this.

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 2, 2007 at 1:31 am

    Yeah, I am reminded of the Trinity discussion a few posts back. Two natures, one person; subject to temptation, but was guaranteed not to fail.

    I can affirm them, but I can’t wrap my mind around them. :)

    Praise God.

    Jeff Cagle

  9. egomakarios said,

    December 3, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    If he had no fear of failing, the sweat of blood in the garden is a lie. This is where Calvinism becomes Docetic. The sweat in the garden becomes an empty show if Christ was not afraid that he might fail and curse his oppressors on the cross. This absolute assurance of impossibility to sin makes him an alien rather than true human whether you like the term or not. And it makes the sweat of blood a hologram from his alien technology rather than a real display of human fear.

  10. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 4, 2007 at 12:27 am

    I can understand what you mean, but it seems overstated to me. My heart races on roller coasters, but I have no fear, none whatsoever, of falling out. So an emotional response out of the human nature doesn’t require that he was actually afraid of failing.

    It seems to me that if you want to go down the “it was possible for Jesus to sin” route, you have to actually deny that the future was written, since otherwise, Jesus knew ahead of time that he wasn’t going to sin anyways.

    So that would bring us to Open Theism, yes?

    Jeff Cagle

  11. Joel Magana said,

    December 4, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I believe that Jesus was born in the flesh just as we are. However, he had a knowledge of who he was and his purpose here. We are lucky to see the big mere moments in our lives while Jesus was aware of it at all times. Basically, he had experience in being immortal and in that sense he knew exactly the effects of sin and gladly maintained his spotlessness. As for referring to Jesus as an alien, aren’t we all created in the very mind and spirit of an invisible God? In that sense, everyone around us are aliens as well because the core of who we are did not come from this earth.

  12. TurretinFan said,

    December 4, 2007 at 9:42 am

    EM, why not simply interpret the fear as being fear of pain, not fear of failure?

    -Turretinfan

  13. Talitha said,

    March 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    It could be possible that Jesus, in essence being God, knew He could not sin, but being human, He still had to fight it to gain His victory over it. So He knows sin’s pull on us, but knew He was going to win in the end. Like… He knew He was not going to fall down the mountain, but He still had exert the energy and focus and feel the pain to climb it. And this relates to 1 Corinthians 10:13 in that He knows the pull of sin, and He knows how to guide us out of it, since He did successfully. And He knows guilt because it was piled on Him when He was killed.

    If Christ had no sinful nature, then He was in the same boat as us anyways. When we are saved, we are freed from the sinful nature (see Romans 7:5-6), but we still feel sin’s pull. And in that respect, Jesus was just like us.


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