Subtle heresies in Hebrews 2:14
Here is the verse in KJV:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;What is the problem here, you may well ask? This is certainly hard to understand, especially for modern readers, but where are the heresies? Look carefully at "took part of the same". "The same" must be "flesh and blood", human nature. So does this verse say that Jesus took only part of human nature, not all of it? That would clearly be heresy, by the standard of the ancient creeds. But the verse certainly doesn't mean that in the original Greek. And almost certainly the KJV translators (who were certainly orthodox Trinitarians) didn't intend the meaning "part of human nature". Rather, in the English of that time "took part of" meant what we would now say as "took part in" or "partook of". The problem here is with language change: what in the 16th or 17th century was an accurate translation has become an inaccurate and misleading one.
So then, what is the alternative? I am sorry to say that the translators of NIV and TNIV expunged this heresy but retained another one which is even more subtly present in the KJV rendering. Here is the verse in TNIV (the relevant part is the same in NIV):
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—ESV, following RSV, is no better:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,What is the problem here? It is very obvious when you spot it! The words "shared in their humanity" or "partook of the same things", with the past tense, implies that Jesus no longer shares humanity. But the teaching of the Bible and the church has always been that the risen Jesus was human, "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39, compare "flesh and blood" in Hebrews 2:14), and remains so in heaven. Is the author of Hebrews in fact saying anything different? I don't think so. The Greek verb here, μετέσχεν meteschen, is in an aorist tense, not an imperfect which would imply that Jesus shared humanity for a time. The meaning is rather that Jesus came to share with us in humanity, became incarnate, with no suggestion that this situation ended with his death or resurrection.
So the New Living Translation gets this right:
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.Indeed, as Hebrews 4:14-16 teaches us, it is important for our continued Christian walk that we still have a human Jesus in heaven, not "a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses" (4:15 TNIV US edition), but one who remains human as well as divine and so to whom we can draw near with confidence.