Monday, February 05, 2018

Mystified. Again. Hebrews 2:14.

Last night the pastor discussed a portion of Hebrews 2. This verse, which I've read a thousand times, pricked my brain:
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— (Heb 2:14)
The devil holds the power of death? What's up with that? And holds, not held?

So far commentaries have not been helpful. They point out that Satan can only act within the confines of the power granted by God. And/or Satan is indeed a murderer. All of which is true, but none of which explains the plain reading of the verse. Nebuchadnezzar was also God's servant and also a murderer, and he is not described as one who holds (or held) the power of death.

I do not understand what power of Satan is being referenced in Hebrews 2:14.

I won't worry too much about it. After years I'm finally simpatico with the adage that it's not the parts of the bible I don't understand that keep me awake--it's those other parts.

UPDATE: I see that some translations do render it in the past tense (e.g. NASB: him who had the power of death, that is, the devil) This is helpful, but still leaves me wondering what power of death Satan held.


  1. Tne NKJV Study Bible says that Satan induces people to sin, thereby making us liable for the penalty for sin.

  2. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Here is one take on it. The Hebrews 2: 14 passage possibly refers to the devil’s power over spiritual death, not physical death. The devil had power to destroy men, not by causing physical death, but he caused spiritual death by separating men from God. God told Adam that he would surely die if he ate from the tree of knowledge. Adam died spiritually on the day he committed that act of disobedience – he was separated from God - but Adam lived on for hundreds of years before his physical death. Going forward from Adam’s original sin, Satan held the power of spiritual death over all mankind until the redeeming work of Jesus.