A Universalist Looks at the New Testament: Hebrews 2

I’m a universalist. I became a universalist after reading the writings of George MacDonald. George MacDonald clearly loved the Lord and loved the Bible and had studied the Bible in the original languages. He also proclaimed that the Bible teaches that all will be saved at the end of the ages.

I didn’t understand how he could make this claim. I was surprised when I looked into it to discover the Bible really does seem to teach this — If you can open your mind to a different perspective than the one you’ve grown up with.

This series is an attempt to show another perspective, the perspective of a universalist. If you are interested in this, I’ve reviewed many books that take up a straightforward case for universalism, and I highly recommend any of them. This series goes through the New Testament and points out how the plain reading of various passages looks different if you start with the possibility that universal salvation is true.

I began this series going along as my church was reading through the New Testament, but I’ve gotten a bit behind. Today let’s look at Hebrews 2.

The beginning section says,

For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

I want to point out from this section the words “just punishment.” I know that we’ve been taught that it is a just punishment for sin, but take a different perspective for a minute. Does anyone really think that unending, infinite torment is truly just punishment for any sin that’s been done during a finite human lifetime here on earth? I believe the very idea of God being perfectly just rules out unending torment for anyone. And there are places in the Bible where it would seem to indicate that some will get worse punishment than others. That doesn’t make sense if all people receive unending torment.

But then a more explicitly universalist statement comes in verse 9:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

If Jesus tasted death for everyone, shouldn’t everyone receive the benefit of that? Was his death ineffective?

The writer goes on about all that Jesus has done in verses 14-18:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Did Jesus really break the power of him who holds the power of death – if many people are still destined to be dying eternally?

Did Jesus make atonement for the sins of the people – if many people are left out of that?

How effective was Jesus’ offering? Is Christ triumphant, or not?

I’m going to leave that question there.

Jesus tasted death for everyone. And he broke the power of him who holds the power of death.

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