How Shall We Escape?
Our text is the first “warning passage” in the book of Hebrews. The skilled pastor/writer of this letter has planned out a very thorough presentation of the superiority of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest. As he develops that content through 13 chapters, he chooses to connect the several sub-sections (see the outline chart provided below) by stopping to give a challenge and word of encouragement. Our study in Hebrews will take special notice of each of these warnings in order to see how they are related and lead from one to the next, and also how each is a response to the content just covered before it. This alternating connectivity of doctrinal passage followed by warning forms a distinctive two-track symmetry to the book.
- The Five Warning Passages of Hebrews
- 2:1-4 – Drifting from the Gospel – 2:3, “how shall we escape”
- 3:7-19 – Disbelieving the Gospel – 3:15, “do not harden your hearts”
- 5:11-6:12 – Dullness toward the Gospel – 5:11, “you have become dull of hearing”
- 10:19-30 – Despising the Gospel – 10:35, “do not throw away your confidence”
- 12:14-29 – Defying the Gospel – 12:25, “see to it that you do not refuse Him
Considerations as we approach the first warning passage:
- Note the key phrase that links the passages before & after (1:5-14 & 2:5-18). In these verses, the writer demonstrates that Christ is (permanently) higher than the angels, and Christ is made (for a time on earth) lower than the angels.
- 2:1 “Therefore”… this is a thought transition, not a shift to a new point. The transition leads to 2:5-18, but the transition itself consists of the first of five warning passages.
- The effect of the writer’s thought process at this point: As we start to consider the superiority of Christ, and establish that He is better than the angels, we need to be appreciative of the greatness of our salvation, and what a tragedy it would be to disregard it .
- The writer’s main thrust remains: “We must be Continuing in faith is Evidence of Reality of faith.”
This first warning is just the first “poke” from the pastor/shepherd’s crook. What his audience is now discovering about Who Christ is and what He has accomplished leads them to begin understanding how far superior He is to the Old Covenant faith which has been their Jewish faith heritage. And that in turn needs to begin impacting the way they live their new faith in Christ.
It’s an If / Then / Else thing – logical thought tells us we need to give serious consideration to implications for life. Some people have a very casual approach to “giving attention” – “I hear you but I don’t know what you’re saying”. When teaching parables, the Lord Jesus often mentioned the need for people to have “Ears to Hear” – tuned into what God is saying, ready to believe and act upon recognized truth.
So, what have “we” (us today as well as the audience who initially received this letter) heard? Look how the apostle John described it in 1 John 1:1, “what we have seen and heard and touched”. Also the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:16, “eyewitnesses of His majesty”. God leads us along a path of increased knowledge, understanding and wisdom as we hear the truth of God expressed to us from those who have “heard” before us.
This is the main message of this warning – not being secured by an anchor – Here are some key thoughts to look for in this passage:
- Incidental or belligerent
- either way, it’s against God’s revealed holiness and must be judged
- Drifting away
- Thought – attitude – action
- Psalm 1:1
- What a shame it is to “lose interest” in the Gospel
- Key Indicators
- Questioning important truths
- Excusing a behavior
- Hiding behind a lie
- Questionable friends
- Increased foolishness
- Not responsive to biblical truth
- Bad attitude
Therein Lies the Rub
- Is 2:3 a rhetorical question?
- Or does it state the obvious conclusion?
- As is true for all of this book, the writer doesn’t show this as being for unbelievers
- When we are privileged to receive more “light”, we have more responsibility for “right living”.
- Lu 12:48 – “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
- Signs & wonders – miracles & gifts
- Compare how this worked in the early chapters of Acts
Hebrews Outline Chart
You can right click this chart and save it to your local drive.
- What Bible passage is being quoted in 2:5-8, and what is the main point being made?
- To whom does the word “him” refer each time it is used in 2:6-9?
- In what sense was Jesus made a little lower than the angels (2:9)? See 1:4; Phil. 2:5-7
- What is the primary point behind this paragraph (2:5-9)?
- What is the special relationship we share with Christ as quoted from Isa. 8:18?
- In 2:14, what power did Jesus destroy?
- From 2:15, in what sense does Satan have the power of death?
- According to 2:17-18, what did Jesus have to do, and why?