Can you please explain Hebrews 2.16? Does it refer to the incarnation?
It is easy to assume that the verse is teaching the incarnation because the statement seems to be saying Christ took not on him the nature of angels, but that of man. We rather think the verse is teaching redemption or deliverance. The writer is stating that Christ came not to redeem angels, but you my Jewish brethren! The key to the meaning of the verse is in the words "Took on him", which are in the continuous present tense, as the Newberry Bible indicates. The Lord Jesus becoming a man is a past event, but the redemption of man is the continuous work of the Redeemer. Again, the words "Took on him" really have the force of "He taketh hold", i.e to be the helper and deliverer. It often has this sense in the New Testament. In this very epistle, for example, in 8.9 it is used of God delivering His people "I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt". A good illustration of the use of the word is Matthew 14.31 where we read, "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him ". What the Saviour did for Peter physically He has done for us spiritually. He has taken hold of us with the dynamic force of personal agency. How thankful we should be to the Lord that we are the subjects of redeeming grace.
The context speaks of angels and shows that the One who was higher than angels has now become lower than angels and in fact has come nearer to fallen man than the angels, all in order that He might redeem mankind, including the Jewish people. We accept it as a matter of course that Christ came not to save angels, but men. The holy angels require no salvation. It appears such a self-evident truth that we may well wonder why the writer mentions it. Is it not because the familiar truth had not dawned upon many Jews, that Christ had come to save the people of Israel too? They needed salvation as much as mankind in general. We must be careful not to extract from this any idea that the gospel and salvation were in any way exclusive to the Jew, for the previous context argues for truth applicable to all mankind.
John J Stubbs
Can 1 Timothy 5.17 be used to justify the appointment of salaried elders, or can it be used to justify making any payment to elders for their work in the assembly?
The elders referred to in 1 Timothy 5.17 are to be distinguished from the older men of 1 Timothy 5.1. They are men responsible for taking the lead in the assembly; this must be by example as well as by precept. However, in the immediate context, Paul is not dealing with the qualities necessary in any who would serve as overseers, but rather with the relationships between the assembly and its leaders.
The questioner makes reference to the possible "appointment of salaried elders". It should be made clear that there is no outside body of persons with the right to appoint elders; much less right has a local church to select its own elders the assembly is not a democratic institution! It is the Holy Spirit who appoints overseers through the Word of God (Acts 20.28), and these are to be recognised by the assembly (1 Thess 5.12). There is therefore no justification for the appointment of salaried elders.
Three classes of elders are suggested in 1 Timothy 5.17: 1) those who take the lead; 2) those who take the lead well; and 3) those who take the lead well and "labour in the word and doctrine". Those who rule well are to "be counted worthy of double honour", viz. the respect due to the position they take as elders as well as the respect earned because of the faithful discharge of their responsibilities.
The word "honour" may include material assistance to a brother in need; a mans service may involve expense beyond his means. The assembly should be exercised to support materially those who would spend sacrificially on their behalf.
Although each elder should be "apt to teach" (1 Tim 3.2), there are especially those among the elders who "labour (indicative of exhausting toil) in the word (the ministry of preaching) and doctrine (the instruction from the Scriptures)".
David E West