So Great Salvation
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Contents & Foreword & Rear Cover
1. Heirs of Salvation
2. Because of the Angels
3. God Has Spoken
4. What at the First
5. The World to Come
The writer of Hebrews began his epistle by very briefly calling attention to how God had spoken to His people both in time past and in these last days. In time past, God spoke to the Jewish people by means of the Prophets; and in these last days God has spoken to the Jewish people, and then to Christians, by means of His Son (vv. 1, 2a).
Whether in time past or in these last days, the same unchangeable Word, with the same unchangeable message, is in view. The message has to do with Gods appointed Heir of all things awaiting that day when He will come into possession of His inheritance (v. 2b).
The writer takes up this message in the epistle by showing the proper connection between Christs finished work at Calvary and His God-appointed position as Heir of all things:
. . . when he had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (v. 3b)
And exactly the same thing seen in this verse (in conjunction with vv. 1, 2) is seen again in the opening part of chapter twelve:
. . . for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (v. 2b)
Both verses have to do with Christ suffering the ignominy and shame of Calvary, with a view to the glory and exaltation that lay ahead. And both verses call attention to that which would follow Christs sufferings by referring to that which is seen in Psalm 110.
This Psalm, a Messianic Psalm in the latter part of verse one, along with verse two carries the reader forward into that coming day.
Note these two verses:
The LORD said to my Lord [i.e., the Father said to His Son], Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
The Son is today seated at His Fathers right hand, and He is waiting for His Father to bring matters to pass in such a manner that His enemies will be made His footstool, i.e., His enemies will be brought into complete subjection to the Son. And when this has been brought to pass, Gods Son will then rule in the midst of His enemies. He, in that day, will realize the position that He presently occupies as His Fathers appointed Heir of all things as He realizes the joy placed before Him at Calvary both referring to the same thing.
In that day, the same scenes that witnessed His sufferings and humiliation will witness His glory and exaltation.
This is the manner in which the book of Hebrews opens in the first three verses. Then, angels are brought into the picture (vv. 4-7), contextually, for several reasons:
1) Angelic rule over the earth is about to end (2:5).
2) Angels minister during the present time for those about to inherit with the Son (1:14; cf. 1:9; 3:14).
3) Angels will minister rather than rule in that coming day, in Christs kingdom (1:6, 7).
And, in conjunction with angels being brought into the picture, the writer records seven Messianic passages from the Old Testament, concluding at the same place where he had ended before beginning these quotations with that stated in Psalm 110:1 (vv. 3b-13).
This, in brief form, is what the first chapter of Hebrews is about, relating, at the outset, the subject matter of the book. The book has to do with the coming reign of Christ, with His co-heirs (introduced, as well, in the first chapter [vv. 9, 14]); and the five major warnings in the book, accordingly, have to do with this same thing.
The phrase, so great a salvation, seen in the first of these five warnings, is the same salvation, deliverance, seen throughout all of the warnings. It is realizing the greatest thing God could ever design for redeemed man, occupying a position as co-heir with His Son in the coming kingdom.
The words, so great a salvation, in Hebrews 2:3 is not the salvation that we presently possess. Rather it is a future salvation, and it is clearly set forth as such in the immediately preceding context, in the text itself, and in the context that immediately follows.
The immediately preceding context (1:1-14) has to do with Christ exercising the rights of the firstborn during the coming Messianic Era and with Christians exercising these same rights as companions, co-heirs with Him. It has to do with that time when God will again bring His firstborn Son (the One who is to exercise the rights of primogeniture), the Heir of all things, into the inhabited world (vv. 2, 5, 6); and it has to do with those redeemed individuals who are to appear as His companions, inheriting with him in that day (vv. 9, 14).
The text itself (2:1-4) begins by referring back to material in chapter one (2:1a), and the text, which comprises the first of five major warning to Christians in this book how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation . . .? has its basis entirely in this introductory material. The salvation in Hebrews 2:3 is the same as the salvation in verse fourteen of the introductory material. That is, coming into possession of so great a salvation (2:3) is the same as inheriting salvation (1:14); and inheriting salvation (or realizing so great a salvation) is the same as realizing the rights of the firstborn, inheriting as companions with Christ (Gods Firstborn, His appointed Heir of all things [1:2, 5, 6, 9]).
Then the context that immediately follows (2:5ff) has to do with a rule in the inhabited world to come (2:5), when many sons will be brought to glory to realize the rights of the firstborn with Gods firstborn Son, Jesus (2:10). In short, it has to do with man, after 6,000 years, finally being brought into the position that he was created to occupy in the beginning. Christ, the second Man, the last Adam, will take the kingdom and ascend the throne, along with numerous companions from among those whom He has redeemed.