BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL
On Heb. 2:14, 15
14. Since, then, the young children have participated in and commonly shared blood and flesh (= humanity), He also, nearly alongside [them], shared theirs in common (partook of the [ingredients] which comprise them), in order that through means of death He might render useless (or: deactivate; idle-down; discard) the one normally having the strength (or: the person presently holding the force) of death (or: which is death; or: whose source is death), that is, the adversary (or: that which throws folks into dualism with divided thinking and perceptions; or: the one that throws something through the midst and casts division; the one who thrusts things through folks; the slanderer who accuses and deceives; or, commonly called: the “devil”),
15. and would set them free (or: could fully change and transform these; or: should move them away to another [situation; existence]): as many as were through all of life held within slavery by fear of death (or: in fear, from death: or: with fear, which is death)!
In examining these two verses, let us keep in mind the context and continuation of the author’s line of reasoning. Vs. 14 picks up the subject matter of vs. 13, “the young children.” The Greek is ta paidia: little boys and/or girls. The connotation of this word was either: a) one of age, i.e., an infant, a small child, or one of undeveloped understanding; or, b) one of social position, i.e., a household servant or an attendant – e.g., a “slave-boy/girl.”
So we have another contrast between those that came before (the young children or household slaves) and the new situation, a Son (huios). Paul made a similar comparison in Gal. 4:1-4 between a “babe” (nepios) – where he says “also we ourselves [were], when we were progressing from infants to minors” (vs.3) – and “the Son” (vs. 4). As babes, humanity was under “the elementary things” – “being folks having been enslaved” (vs. 3), until “the effect of the filling of the time came,” and “God sent-off His Son” (vs. 4). Thus, we see here that by using different words Paul associates the youth with the position of a servant, just as we see in the dual connotations of paidia here in vs. 14.
Next, we see that since these young children/servants “participated in and commonly shared blood and flesh (= humanity),” that the Son also “nearly alongside [them], shared theirs in common (partook of the [ingredients] which comprise them).” In other words, the Son was also a human – became one of them in complete solidarity with their blood and flesh, or as Paul describes it in Phil. 2:7,
“… receiving (or: taking; accepting) a slave’s form (external shape; outward mold), coming to be (or: birthing Himself) within an effect of humanity’s (mankind’s; people’s) likeness.”
The reason and purpose for this is stated in the last half of vs. 14, and in vs. 15. The Son became human so that He could die. His death as and in union with the first Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) and His burial of the first Adam/humanity (Rom. 6:3-8) accomplished two things:
1) “the one normally having the strength (or: the person presently holding the force) of death (or: which is death; or: whose source is death), that is, the adversary” was brought to its end. Again we get insight into this enigmatic statement from Paul, in 1 Cor. 15:
56. Now the sharp point and stinger of (or: the sting, thus, the injection from) the Death [is] the Sin (the mistake; the error; the failure), and the power and ability of the Sin [is] the Law. So we see here that “the person presently holding the force whose source is death” is Moses, or the person that uses the Law. Again recall Paul, in Rom. 7:
5. For when we [= Adam/Israel] were existing within the flesh (or: = in the old alienated Adamic existence, with the flesh sacrifices and markers of the Law), the effects, impressions, emotions and impulses from the experiences, passions and suffering of the failures (the sins; the deviations which caused misses of the target) – the things through means of the Law [the Torah] – were continually operating (working within; energizing and effecting) within our members into the condition to produce fruit by Death (in death; to death; for Death).
6. But now (at the present time), we [= Israel] are (or: were instantly) rendered inactive (brought down to living without labor, released from employment, made unproductive; discharged) away from the Law (= the Torah; [some MSS add: of Death]), dying within that in which we were constantly being held down (held in possession and detained), so that it is [for] us to be habitually performing as slaves within newness of spirit (a newness pertaining to spirit and has its source in the Breath-effect; freshness and new quality of attitude) and not in oldness (obsoleteness; outdatedness) of letter (or: not in outwornness of what is written).
Notice what God was going to do to this “one” through the death of Christ: “might render useless (or: deactivate; idle-down; discard).” It had been of use, in its time, age and arrangement, but now no longer. The Law has been rendered useless and is deactivated and discarded.
2) “and would set them free (or: could fully change and transform these; or: should move them away to another [situation; existence]): as many as were through all of life held within slavery by fear of death (or: in fear, from death: or: with fear, which is death)!” By means of His death we can now shout with the prophet,
“Where, O Death, [is] your victory (or: overcoming)? Where, O Death, [is] your stinger (sharp point; sting; goad; spur)?” [Hos. 13:14; 1 Cor. 15:55]
Or, as Paul said in Gal. 5:1, “For this freedom, Christ immediately set us free (or: [The] Anointed One at once frees us in, to, for and with freedom)!”
Or, as Paul exclaimed in 2 Cor. 5:17, “… [there is] a new creation (or: [it is] a framing and founding of a different kind; [he or she is] an act of creation having a fresh character and a new quality): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (or: went to the side). Consider! New things have come into existence (have been birthed; or: It has become new things; or: He has been birthed and now exists being ones of a different kind, character and quality)!” [note: cf Rev. 21:5]
Let us unpack the optional renderings in vs. 15. The verb of the first clause is ap-allasso. The meaning of the main verb is often given as: to change or to transform. In the first parenthetical translation I rendered ap- as an intensifier, thus, we have “fully change and transform.” We find this concept presented to us by Paul in 2 Cor. 5:19 where he uses the same main verb with a different preposition prefixed to it, kat-allasso,
“as that God was existing within Christ (God was and continued being in union with [the] Anointed One) progressively and completely transforming [the] aggregate of humanity (or: world) to be other [than it is].”
This is the root of a person being “set free” from their fears. This is deliverance and salvation.
Looking at this compound verb from the core meaning of the preposition apo, we have the idea of movement “away from.” The root idea of allasso is “other; another,” so the resulting meaning would then be, “move away to another [situation; existence; etc.].” We find this concept painted for us in Col. 1:13, “He … changes [our] position (or: transported [us], thus, giving [us] a change of standing, and transferred [us]) into the midst of the kingdom and reign of the Son of His love.” This is rescue.
The last phrase of vs. 15 is made up of the word fear in the dative case, and death in the genitive. The bold rendering renders fear as instrumental, and death as the object of the fear. The next option presents fear as the location (in) or sphere, and death as the source of the fear. The last option offers us fear as an associate of slavery, and then defines this fear as being death. Each picture makes sense, and each offers us another glimpse into the predicament of humanity before the advent of our Savior.
THE APOSTASY [Jonathan Mitchell] 1