Not For Angels (Hebrews 2:16)

For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” (Hebrews 2:16, ESV)

Someone asked me once, “What if the fallen angels repented?” Here they were speaking of demons. We understand that God created angels as spirit beings to accomplish His purposes and to worship Him. We also understand that Satan led multitudes of these in rebellion against God. As a result, Satan and the angels that followed him, were cast out from Heaven (Lk 10:18; Rev 12:7-9).

Here it seems that the writer of Hebrews clarifies this question directly as this section of the letter has to do with the incarnation of Jesus and His work of salvation. However, there also seems to be some variances of opinions in this verse when we compare the KJV to other translations.

The KJV translates the verse, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” (Hebrews 2:16, KJV 1900) This translation may lead us to look at the verse in view of the nature that Jesus took on in the incarnation. Yes, it is true that He did not take on the nature of angels as they are created spirit beings and Christ came in the flesh. Other versions state that He came not to help the angels. The Greek text is, ou gar depou aggelon epilambanetai, which literally translates as “not for surely angels he takes hold.” In this phrase the nature of angels there is not mentioned.

The big question that we must answer is, of what does Jesus not take hold of regarding the angels and then what does He take hold of regarding the offspring of Abraham? From the verse and context of the complete passage, it seems the outcome of this has to do with salvation. In other words, Jesus did not come in the flesh to take hold of the angels for salvation, that is to help them. Their destiny is already established. Those angels that have fallen are destined to eternal judgment (Jude 1:6; 2 Pet 2:4). Instead, Jesus came to help the offspring of Abraham. This would refer to those who were truly of Abraham’s seed by faith in Christ, the seed of Abraham (See Gal 3:16, 29).

Yet, when we look at this verse in context with the next verse, we get a different idea. “Therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest (Hebrews 2:17, ESV). This refers to Jesus’ incarnation as a Jew, like His brothers in every respect. This is so He could fulfill the role of a high priest in making propitiation for sin (More on this tomorrow). Thus, Jesus did not take hold of the nature of angels, but while being fully God, took hold of the nature of the offspring of Abraham.

Well, both thoughts are technically correct. Jesus did not come in the nature of angels. Moreover, He did not come to take angels to salvation. He came to seek and to save the lost and to do so He came as God incarnate. Moreover, He came to function as the Great High Priest in making propitiation for sin once and for all. Perhaps the intent of the author was to provoke his Jewish audience to connect with Jesus and understand that He came so they might believe in Jesus who became like them in every way so they might be saved.

Jesus came in the flesh to do something for us that we could never do for ourselves. He came to help lost humanity. Jesus did come so that those who are Jews by bloodline would come to faith. However, only those who come to saving faith are truly of Abraham’s seed, who is Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16, 29). This great salvation is available to all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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