Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Chapter 1 first describes how God spoke through prophets to His people in the past “age”. Then it talks about how Christ has come in these “last days” and is the radiance of God – He IS God, and everything was made through Him and he upholds all things. Chapter 1 also speaks about what Christ did for us on our behalf and how He now sits at the right hand of God. It then goes on to explain how the angels are used by God but Jesus is superior because God has announced that He is superior (an example would be like through the prophets). Verse 14 of Chapter 1 transitions us into Chapter 2 by describing the role and purpose of angels. This will help us delineate that Jesus is higher in authority than angels.
“Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14
Chapter 2 starts with a ‘therefore’, and we must ask ourselves: ‘what is it there for’? Now that we understand that Christ is superior to angels, that He is God, and we know that He has come and spoken to humanity, we are given a warning: We must pay attention. Look at Hebrews 2:1..
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
There are 3 very important things we need to see from this verse.
- Who is the us? He is writing to persecuted Christians who are in danger of drifting away from the faith, and also to all who are called Christians and have confessed Christ.
- Why are they in danger of drifting away? They are not paying attention to what they have heard.
- What have they heard? Look at verse 3a – They (we) have heard the way of salvation and what our salvation means.
Let’s back up to verse 2 and read through to 3a. “For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” The writer is tying it all together now between Christ’s superiority and the job of angels. The angels delivered messages from God in the past, and it ws binding. Look at Sampson for instance. Sampson’s parents were visited by an angel in Judges 13 and told that no razor should ever come upon his head because he was set apart to God. When Sampson (who knew the vow – as we can see from what he tells Delilah) broke the vow his strength was taken. He was disobedient and received a just retribution. The word ‘just’ refers to justice – you get what you are due – and is based on what God says is truth, what is right, and what is sin. We know Sampson’s punishment was just because he was given an outline of what would happen if he disobeyed.
So if the message given to Sampson, which was given by angels was binding, how much more will the message Christ gives about salvation and damnation be binding?! Just like Sampson’s just retribution was the loss of strength, our just retribution for denying or turning away from Christ will be eternal punishment. What does it look like to turn away from Christ? How do we do that.. what does it look like?
How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
This message of salvation came first through Christ, and he has already been made reputable as higher than the angels through the prophetic scripture recited by the author of Hebrews in the first chapter. We ourselves have heard this word through the people who heard it directly from Christ – the Apostles. They even wrote it down for us. But how can we believe that what they said and wrote was true?
It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
God himself testified to Christ’s message spoken through the Apostles by signs and wonders and gifts according to HIS will. God decided when and where and who would receive these gifts and how they would use them to attest to thee validity of Christ’s message.
Use these questions to think more deeply about what we’ve learned in Hebrews 2:1-4 and how you could apply that to your life.
1. What are some scenarios that could cause a person to reconsider his/her religious beliefs?
The recipients of the book of Hebrews were facing persecution because of their faith in Jesus. We know this firstly because the writer identifies with them when he gives the warning: WE must pay closer attention to what WE have heard so that WE don’t drift away from it. Secondly, the writer is making a case for who Jesus actually was – the Christ. So he’s basically just reminding them of what their faith is all about, and in Whom they have believed.
2. What role can believers play in keeping another believer from drifting?
Some of the things we can do to help our brother’s and sister’s in Christ is to remind them of the warning in this chapter. We could help point them back to scripture through fellowship, daily Bible study, prayer, and even memorizing verses. The most important thing to remember (as the writer of Hebrews illustrates) is that the only way to bring a believer back from the edge of drifting is by and through God’s Word.
3. What is this ‘great salvation’ that verse 3 speaks of?
How would you describe what Jesus has done for you? We need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us. What gives you hope? Do you even have any hope? When Jesus died on that cross he not only took the blame for all the sins we have committed or will commit, he also took our shame, our guilt, and God’s wrath for those sins. He died and rose to new life so that we could live in new life NOW and later.
Attributes of Jesus from Hebrews:
- Jesus IS God
- He is higher in authority than angels.
- His message was true and attested to us by God.
Warnings from Hebrews:
- We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Heb 2:1)