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Hebrews 2:9 (GNT):

  1. τὸν δὲ βραχύ τι παρ᾿ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον βλέπομεν ᾿Ιησοῦν διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον, ὅπως χάριτι Θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου.

Hebrews 2:9 (Latin Vulgate):

  1. eum autem qui modico quam angeli minoratus est videmus Iesum propter passionem mortis gloria et honore coronatum ut gratia Dei pro omnibus gustaret mortem

What is the accurate translation of the Greek ὅπως which equals the Latin (ut)?

Hebrews 2:9 (DRB):

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all.

Probable translations :

  • So that.
  • That.
  • In order that.
  • In order to.
  • Wherefore.

I hope you give me the accurate translation of the Greek word in the context of the verse.

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Heb 2:9 naturally falls into two sets of statements that pivot around the word ὅπως (hopos). This important word occurs about 58 times in the NT and almost always acts as a conjunction of purpose.

BDAG provides the following meaning for ὅπως when it is a conjunction following a verb, especially a verb in the perfect tense (as here):

Marker expressing purpose for an event or state (in order), that

Let me set out the text of Heb 2:9 more clearly:

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,

in order that / because (= ὅπως):

by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

That is, this verse tells us one of the main reasons for Jesus' incarnation - so that He could "taste death" for everyone.

Ellicott offers some useful thoughts here:

(to use Dean Alford's words)

"it is on the triumphant issue of His sufferings that their efficacy depends." But it is impossible for the Christian to separate, even in thought, the one from the other--the sufferings from the certain triumph. We might, perhaps, say that it is only by a misuse of human analogies that we separate them even in time: in the Gospel of St. John, at all events (if not in this very Epistle--see Hebrews 2:14), we are taught that in His crucifixion Jesus is exalted. This clause, then, brings us back to the thought of the glory reserved for man: through death the fulfilment of God's purpose might seem to be frustrated; through the death of Jesus on behalf of every man (1Peter 3:18) it is fulfilled.

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  • the Idea is that: How tasting death is grace of God!!, Surely it is a huge disaster. Thus Jesus should bear a huge disaster on behalf of Humanity. Bearing a huge disaster on behalf of Humanity is God's Grace to Humanity, not to Jesus. – salah May 6 '20 at 23:16
  • via understanding of the exact meaning of the Greek, Latin word, we can know to whom God Grace is directed, To Jesus or to Humanity. – salah May 7 '20 at 0:36
  • the New Testament says that Jesus had been made CURSE for us, this means that Crucifixion of Jesus was his Curse, not his Grace. – salah May 7 '20 at 3:03
  • what I need now is your help in what I am asking about. The Grace is to Christ Or to Humanity in suffering Death for Christ is specific to me, in my private search. – salah May 7 '20 at 6:10
  • @salah - I am happy to help but I am unsure exactly what question you are asking. God extends grace to everyone. Jesus became sin for us and bore our punishment and died for us. He needed grace else in His imputed sinful state (not His own but ours) He would have been destroyed, despite being perfect. 2 Cor 5:21 – Dottard May 7 '20 at 7:35
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ὅπως can be translated "as", "how", "that", "in order that", "so that", or "that". As an adverb, it typically relates to manner, in other words, it answers the question of how.

As a conjunction, as it is used in Heb 2:9, it lends more to the idea of purpose or function. So, the better rendering in this text would be "so that."

From Thayer's Greek Lexicon on the use of ὅπως taken from the Biblehub website.

ὅπως (from πῶς and the relative ὁ), with the indicative, a relative adverb but, like the Latinut, assuming also the nature of a conjunction (cf. Winer's Grammar, 449 (418f)).

I. As an adverb; as, in what manner, how; once so in the N. T. in an indirect question, with the indicative: οὐκ ἔγνως, ὅπως κτλ., Luke 24:20, where cf. Bornemann, Scholia etc.

II. A conjunction, Latinut, answering to the German dass, that; in classical Greek with the optative, and subjunctive, and future indicative; cf. especially Klotz ad Devar. ii. 2, p. 681ff But the distinction observed between these constructions by the more elegant Greek writings is quite neglected in the N. T., and if we except Matthew 26:59 L T Tr (ὅπως θανατώσουσιν) (1 Corinthians 1:29 Rec.elz), only the subjunctive follows this particle (for in Mark 5:23, for ὅπως ... ζήσεται, L text T Tr WH have correctly restored ἵνα ... ζήσῃ); cf. Winers Grammar, 289 (271); Buttmann, 233f (201f); (214 (185)).

It denotes the purpose or end, in order that; with the design or to the end that.

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No one here considers “taste death” a reference to Jesus literally drinking (“tasting”) his own death at the Last Supper? He himself says it’s the “my blood of the covenant”, in the content of the drinking?

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  • Dr. Dom, +1 for pointing out that “taste death” at Hebrews 2:9 is a reference to the death on the cross, and to Jesus' allusion to the shedding of his blood at the Last Supper. You have not answerd to the main point though: what is the most appropriate translation of ὅπως (Strong's G3704 - hopōs)? – Miguel de Servet Jun 3 at 17:33
  • This A. may have been versed in the truth of 'a' matter concerning the value of Christ's blood, but it is hardly an A. to the Q. Jesus subjected 'himself' to the cross ... 'so that/in order that (hopos)' ... God's undeserved kindness to mankind, in forgiving their sinful nature, could be 'checked/balanced out' in appropriation. The subsequent NEW COVENANT was for all (Jews & Gentiles alike) showing true faith in Jesus and his RANSOM SACRIFICE (sacrificial death of Jesus, made ...'in order' ... to reconcile sinners to a holy God...Mark, 10:45. – Olde English Jun 4 at 0:03
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In a nutshell, the purpose clause with a subjunctive means that "hopos", in the mind of our author, is utterly important for some God-given purpose, and the action whose purpose we must come to terms with is the suffering of death. In other words, for what precise purpose was the crucifixion death carried out? The founder of this site is well within his acumen to ask the question in the first place, given these reasons. It has stumped generations of exegetes, so why should we consider it easy?

However, the reason everyone (professionals and amateurs alike) comments on 2:9 being something of a real puzzle to interpret (crux interpretum), is that Jesus is said to have suffered death for the purpose that he might "taste death". What on earth does that mean, if we take "taste death" in its usual hellenistic and semitic sense, which is that of the gospels too? JESUS MUST SUFFER DEATH IN ORDER TO TASTE DEATH?? That is what exegetes have found so challenging. But you are right, my first "A" if I'm being honest, should have respected the rules of this site, and did not. You are 100% right that it was better named a comment.

Now maybe I should stop here. But suffice it to say that the easy part of the crux is to decipher what "taste death" usually means, the objective death (by crucifixion) here expressed metaphorically. People who undergo actual death are thereby metaphorically said to "taste" (undergo the actual physicial experience of) it.

I asked myself however, whether our author might by "taste death" mean something more. What would he possibly be referring to, if the death was the ground of the salvation of everyone who is saved? And then it hit me. Somehow, "it" had to refer to something that while not the actual death experience itself, was nonetheless intimately tied to it and in some way dependent on it. There was really ever only one candidate for what the "it" is, given that it is only at the Last Supper that Jesus established the definitive New Covenant and did so by shedding (pouring out) "my blood of the covenant" to be mutually drunk. Heb 2:9 could use POLYSEMY (a single rhetorical use or word blending more than one meaning at a time) to teach that the death served the purpose of ratifying Jesus' promissory death declaration at the Last Supper, and in turn the Supper provided a means of making the grace won on Calvary avail to all men of all time. The death that actually occurred, and at the same time sacramental-ized so that the sacrifice might avail for all, everywhere, of all times, who accepted it.

Jesus tastes death metaphorically, in the sense of actually dying by crucifixion (an objective fact knowable by all), and also literally tastes his own death by drinking his own blood (which his own words he clearly attests to) while instituting The Eucharist, which is the New Covenant's counterpart to Moses' sprinkling of Ex. 24:8; the "blood of the Sprinkling" of 9:17-22, 12:24, 11:4 is the sprinkling that speaks more eloquently that "that" of Abel, in spite of Abel's sprinkling being praiseworthy and faith-filled, and having pleased God. But Hebrews is known for taking OT texts and turning them a bit from their initial meaning, to something never anticipated in their time, NT meaning, just as he does for example when he says, without any evidence, that when Moses established the covenant (Ex 24:6-12) the sprinkling included the book of the Law and the sacred vessels, thus making the OT text say something applying truly only to the NT context. Here, with Abel, our author reinterprets Yahweh's remarks about a blood that cries out (speaks to) to him from the ground (earth), transposing that blood (his own spilled when murdered by his brother Cain) into the pleasing blood of sacrifice offered by Abel, so that, in effect, now there is "from the earth" a "blood of sprinkling" offered, that at the same time despite being offered from the earth is also a participation in the Heavenly Sion, that sanctuary Jesus entered and purified with his "better" sacrifices (9:23). So the Eucharistic Sacrifice, first carried out at the Last Supper, is a participation in Jesus' own flesh and blood, and is alone the only mediation pleasing to him, as the prophet foretold (Mal. 1:11).

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  • I don't necessarily agree with the 'tract' that you have taken here in both your longer answers as regards the tasting of death, although it is intriguing. I think Jesus suffered in death... in order that/so that he... as a result of God's undeserved kindness, could be a redeemer for sinful man. The fact that he only 'tasted death' would seem to be a reference to its shortness, as within 3 days he was exalted to the right hand of God. He still died nevertheless. On another note, rather than give 2 longer answers you should, in keeping with BH, have 'edited' the first. Upvoted + 1. – Olde English Jul 17 at 2:19
  • Very helpful thanks, and please note OE: nothing you've said I disagree with; my idea tries to explain all the data, not just the death itself. Otherwise the 2:9 crux remains unresolved. But the things you said, are of course, plausible and probably right. – Dr. Dom Jul 18 at 13:25
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This (ὅπως) means “so that”, or “for The purpose of“ in New Testament Greek. Put just before a final ending purpose clause, with a subjunctive following, Ellingworth (See commentary on Hebrews page 155)says that The action just before the purpose clause is the direct and immediate cause of what follows.The death is for the purpose of tasting death.

Here, exegetes have struggled to figure out what hopos Means in this context because given the final purpose clause, the syntax seems to indicate that Jesus suffered death, in order to taste death.

If we allow that “taste death” is a brilliant polysemous rhetorical device blending on the one hand an objective death experience (albeit metaphorically expressed) with on the other hand a paradoxical, literal drinking experience, as in Jesus at the last supper where in instituting the Eucharist he can literally drink (taste) his own death, then may have solved the intractable chronic crux — a veritable intransigent surd as numerous exegetes attest. Or at least, this can be a biblically accurate solution to the problem.

The other grammatical points do not shoot the theory down. For instance, the aorist does not point to any definitive chronological sequence. The subjunctive aorist use in a final purpose clause simply indicates definitive achievment of a deliberately willed action (The contemplated end for which the action is achieved, without knowing when exactly it happened).

Neither does “ὑπὲρ” point necessarily to a vicariousness, as in vicarious substitutional death. It can point to vicarious us in a minority of cases (See Trench, New Testament synonyms). It rather most commonly refers to “for the sake of“, or “on the behalf of“. Similarly, the “ for everyone“ can be an allusion to the last supper, regardless of the meaning of “taste“. Bultmann sees in John 17:19 (“I consecrate myself for their sake“) and allusions the last supper, so, especially in view of the closely related usage in 1 Timothy 2:6 (hyper panton) being used in the Eucharistic setting, our Hebrews 2:9 verse could very well be also an allusion to the last supper. Certainly, a sacrificial shedding on behalf of everyone is exactly that same scene, put on Jesus’ lips at the Last Supper.

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  • Miguel and others, thank you. I thought the Q was the meaning of hopos not just generally but in the verse (Heb 2:9). I started by providing in my A the general meaning of hopos, and then (given the meaning and import assigned it by Ellingworth and other established grecists) its specific meaning in the verse. What exactly was missing or not answered? – Dr. Dom Jul 15 at 15:56
  • Ok, let me see if I can help you here. First off, your first A. was way too short, which is why I commented the way I did, while at the same time, gave a brief synopsis of the reason for the Christ's/anointed one's death. Your last A. should have just been a comment. As for the long A....I had to read this over and over again and I still could not quite follow it. It is way too clever and tries to cover too many scenarios, so consequently 'nothing' was missing, it just could have been so much simpler. We are not all intellectuals here but you were assuming we all are. – Olde English Jul 15 at 19:54
  • ...and why do we seemingly have two different 'user handles' for you. One black motif and one green?? – Olde English Jul 15 at 20:05
  • OK fair enough, and maybe we balance strengths out since I'm no gifted tech operative. – Dr. Dom Jul 16 at 20:33
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BTW Olde English, I should have hastened to add that your take on "taste" agrees completely with that of some of the Fathers (Chrysostom I think?). I'm not sure about that "partial-ness" part, because Heb 2-4 are very strict on point of the High Priest suffering as we do, and being able to sympathize with us because he suffered just as we did. So that is a very good take.

Have you realized that Clement of Rome, in the earliest post-scriptural writing of the NT era, indisputably pointing to this when he refers to this in the letter to the Corinthians, calling Jesus "High Priest of our offerings" (allusion to Heb 3:1), and saying, referring to the Eucharist because it is supposed to be a pledge of christian unity and the rebellious Corinthians have begun to forcibly remove their bishops, that we in the Eucharist "taste of the knowledge of immortality"? You see what he means (Ignatius also later on says "taste the bread of immortality"): If Jesus tasted death, we are therefore able to taste immortality. This is likely what Is 25:8 referred to: "death is swallowed up in victory"; and of course the same at 1 Cor 15:54, alluding to the same place. Whoever eats my flesh will live forever.

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  • Appreciate you getting back to me but here you go again with yet 'another' answer, which again should have been in the form of a comment. Nevertheless, let me say this: The 'Eucharist' is predominately, if not exclusively, a Catholic ceremony, ritually performed to commemorate the 'Last Supper' (Jesus' impromptu Passover), in which bread and wine, representing the body and blood of Jesus, are consecrated and consumed. I don't hold with this ritual myself, as I believe that mankind should be commemorating the 'Resurrection', rather than the 'Death'. IOW, the 'Victory' more than the 'Death'. – Olde English Jul 18 at 19:46
  • Christ's death should only be commemorated by those worthy of partaking of the symbolic emblems of Christ, as in the case of the 11 remaining disciples, after Judas took his leave. Other worthy participants would be those others with a heavenly calling, who would make up the remainder of the 144,000, who are to subsequently rule with Christ in the 'heavenly' kingdom. Consequently, it would be tantamount to hypocrisy if everyone else (vast majority) outside of the 144,000, thought it a necessity to partake of the 'Eucharist', or the like, as they are to be of the 'earthly' kingdom after all. – Olde English Jul 18 at 22:04
  • "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes". – Dr. Dom Jul 19 at 22:23

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