In Hebrews 2:3, to whom does “we” refer?
The book was written to Hebrews. The evidence of this is its title, its theme, drawing so much from Old Testament ceremonies, and its thread of Old Testament promises through the book. In addition, the message to “us” (1:1) is contrasted to the message to “the fathers,” (“our forefathers,” Weymouth). The epistle addresses not only believers, but also unbelievers. This is clear in 3:12-14, “let there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,” “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” “if we hold the beginning of our confidence.” These expressions point to the four kinds of hearers in the Lords Parable of the Sower, the good ground being those who hear the Word and keep it (Luke 8:14, same word as “hold,” Hebrews 3:14). Those who “sin willfully” must likewise be unbelievers, for they will “fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Over 80 times, the writer uses first person plural pronoun forms (we, our, us) either in a general sense (1:3; 2:8,9; 3:19), of those who are writing (5:11; 8:1), or of believers (8:1; 9:24; 10:10). On other occasions, he includes himself with those of Jewish background who claim to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, although they are proving to be unbelievers (10:26; 12:25). In 3:12, he addresses “brethren” who may have an evil heart of unbelief. This cannot refer to “brothers in Christ,” but to Jewish brothers (see also Acts 13:38; 22:1; 23:1; 28:17). In Hebrews 2:1-3, he views himself as part of that nation and addresses his people, some of whom are not genuine believers in Christ.
What is the meaning of Hebrews 2:3?
During the life of the Lord Jesus on earth, many who followed him and claimed to be disciples proved to be false (John 6:60-66; 8:31-37). They missed the significance of the miracles, but enjoyed the food (John 6:26). During the apostolic days, the same was true. They “tasted… the powers of the world to come” (the age to come, JND) (Hebrews 6:5), enjoying the apostolic signs that confirmed the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus. The prophesied powers of the coming kingdom (Isaiah 35:4-6) were present in the service of Christ and His disciples. These signs confirmed that Jesus was the Christ (Hebrews 2:3,4) who would fulfill the prophets words, “Behold, you God will come with vengeance, even God with recompense; He will come and save you” (verse 4). Those who didnt continue in the Lords words (John 8:31) were not genuine disciples. Those who let the word slip (or who slipped away from the word, JND) (Hebrews 2:1) during the apostolic times were not genuine. In drifting away from the truth about the Son of God, they would not escape Gods judgment (verse 2). This epistle, written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., is heavy with the foreboding clouds of Gods wrath soon to burst on the nation. This is likely in view here and in verses 25-31 of chapter 10.
Are the bread and the cup symbols or types?
Types point to Christ and to His coming kingdom. He fulfils the types. We no longer have the “shadows,” but the “very image,” the substance which those types foreshadowed.
When the Lord said, “This is my body” (Luke 22:19), He did not indicate that the bread became His body, so that believers were eating His literal flesh. Nor was He intimating that the bread was a type. He did not say, “My body, which will be given.” The bread did not point to a body in the future; the body of the Lord was present in that upper room. In addition, God communicated specific details about types, as He did, for example, in the meal offering (Leviticus 2). Luke uses the generic word for bread when He recounts the Lords instituting the Lords Supper. The Lord suggests nothing about its ingredients. He described neither the bread nor the contents of the cup as typical. They are merely symbols, or emblems that remind us of the physical body and blood of the Lord. As we partake of these, we express our fellowship, the communion of the blood and body of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16), and we declare the Lords death (I Corinthians 11:26).
If the cup is not a type, must we use wine and not simply “the fruit of the vine”?
“Fruit of the vine” (Luke 22:18) is the only description we have of the contents of the cup. The grape harvest was in the Fall. The Passover came in the Spring. Without refrigeration or canning, “the fruit of the vine” began to ferment by Passover. This makes it impossible to insist that that contents of the cup cannot be fermented.
The contents are not typical, so we cannot prescribe the degree of fermentation for the contents of the cup. In fact, because it isnt typical, we cannot require that the contents must be fermented.