Hebrews is one of the most interesting and informative books in the Bible. It describes in detail the integrated pathways by which our eternal salvation became possible and the pathways we must follow in accepting that salvation. Beware of taking a phrase in isolation; some have misunderstood God’s word tbyhrough doing this. There are a few places in Hebrews where the Greek prepositions Paul uses are ambiguous: however, how they are to be understood becomes clear once we perceive the flow of Paul’s reasoning.

We read (verse 2) that “in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things”. That is clear, but then it says, “by whom he made the worlds”. It cannot mean Jesus is the Creator; this does not make sense. The little, but significant, Greek preposition dia – translated as ‘by’ in this verse, is translated as “for” in verse 14, the role of the angels is “to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation”. We see how they did in the life of Paul (Acts 27:23) and Peter (12:7). So if we read verse 2 as “for whom he (God) made the worlds” – Paul’s point becomes clear: the translators seem to be influenced, where the Greek meaning is variable, by the later Catholic doctrine of the Trinity of which the New Testament writers knew nothing.

The point in verse 4 is clear. Paul writes, that Jesus “having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs”, that is, the angels. “Name” has the sense of “reputation” here. In verse 5 Paul uses two Old Testament quotations that predicted that Jesus would be “begotten” – an event which had now happened; the “today” had arrived. Altogether Paul weaves eleven quotations from the Psalms and Isaiah into today’s two chapters. Chapter 2 starts, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”

This “great salvation” gives real purpose to our lives. Without it we are in no better position than the animals. God’s word is a means to an end! It is food for our minds, and needs careful digestion. Jesus overcame; the gospels show how he did this. And us? Look how chapter 2 ends, “he is able to help those who are being tempted”. Let us come ever closer to Jesus, the only one who sets the example in overcoming; our daily feeding on God’s word lays the foundation for receiving and making use of this help.