on Hebrews 2 :15
And deliver them who through fear of death - It is very likely that the apostle has the Gentiles here principally in view. As they had no revelation, and no certainty of immortality, they were continually in bondage to the fear of death. They preferred life in any state, with the most grievous evils, to death, because they had no hope beyond the grave. But it is also true that all men naturally fear death; even those that have the fullest persuasion and certainty of a future state dread it: genuine Christians, who know that, if the earthly house of their tabernacle were dissolved, they have a house not made with hands, a building framed of God, eternal in the heavens, only they fear it not. In the assurance they have of God's love, the fear of death is removed; and by the purification of their hearts through faith, the sting of death is extracted. The people who know not God are in continual torment through the fear of death, and they fear death because they fear something beyond death. They are conscious to themselves that they are wicked, and they are afraid of God, and terrified at the thought of eternity. By these fears thousands of sinful, miserable creatures are prevented from hurrying themselves into the unknown world. This is finely expressed by the poet: -
"To die, - to sleep, -
No more: - and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, - 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, - to sleep, -
To sleep! - perchance to dream; - ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: - There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who could bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
on Hebrews 2 :15
And deliver them - Not all of them "in fact," though the way is open for all. This deliverance relates:
(1) to the dread of death. He came to free them from that.
(2) from death itself - that is, ultimately to bring them to a world where death shall be unknown. The dread of death may be removed by the work of Christ, and they who had been subject to constant alarms on account of it may be brought to look on it with calmness and peace; and ultimately they will be brought to a world where it will be wholly unknown. The dread of death is taken away, or they are delivered from that, because:
(a) the cause of that dread - to wit, sin, is removed; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.
(b) Because they are enabled to look to the world beyond with triumphant joy.
Death conducts them to heaven. A Christian has nothing to fear in death; nothing beyond the grave. In no part of the universe has he any thing to dread, for God is his friend, and he will be his Protector everywhere. On the dying bed; in the grave; on the way up to the judgment; at the solemn tribunal; and in the eternal world, he is under the eye and the protection of his Saviour - and of what should he be afraid?
Who through fear of death - From the dread of dying - that is, whenever they think of it, and they think of it "so often" as to make them slaves of that fear. This obviously means the natural dread of dying, and not particularly the fear of punishment beyond. It is that indeed which often gives its principal terror to the dread of death, but still the apostle refers here evidently to natural death - as an object which people fear. All men have, by nature, this dread of dying - and perhaps some of the inferior creation have it also. It is certain that it exists in the heart of every man, and that God has implanted it there for some wise purpose. There is the dread:
(1) of the dying pang, or pain.
(2) Of the darkness and gloom of mind that attends it.
(3) of the unknown world beyond - the "evil that we know not of."
(4) of the chilliness, and loneliness, and darkness of the grave.
(5) of the solemn trial at the bar of God.
(6) of the condemnation which awaits the guilty - the apprehension of future wo. There is no other evil that we fear so much as we do death - and there is nothing more clear than that God intended that we should have a dread of dying.
The reasons why he designed this are equally clear:
on Hebrews 2 :15
2:15 And deliver them, as many as through fear of death were all their lifetime, till then, subject to bondage - Every man who fears death is subject to bondage; is in a slavish, uncomfortable state. And every man fears death, more or less, who knows not Christ: death is unwelcome to him, if he knows what death is. But he delivers all true believers from this bondage.