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The Letter to the Hebrews contains some fascinating features. But it also contains puzzles. One such puzzle may be this one:

Hebrews 2:16: "For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham."

Why would God not help angels? As heavenly beings it makes sense that they must be absolutely holy, but this doesn't explain why God does not offer them help. What can this mean?

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  • KJV says 'took not on' / 'took on'. YLT says 'doth not lay hold' / 'lay hold'. The idea of 'give help' is questionable. What version are you using ? The question is a matter of Christ's manifestation not 'giving help'.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 7:36
  • @Nigel I'm using the NASB. I will look into the other versions.
    – Xeno
    May 15 at 10:06
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There are two translations of Hebrew 2:16

King James Bible

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

New King James Version

For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

The operative Hebrew word here is
ἐπιλαμβάνεται (epilambanetai)
Verb - Present Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 1949: To lay hold of, take hold of, seize (sometimes with beneficent, sometimes with hostile, intent).

The NKJV is similar to the NASB quoted by the OP.

Who is the "he" here?

Hebrew 2:

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same,

The "He" refers to the flesh and blood Jesus who walked in Palestine.

so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For clearly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendants of Abraham.

Angels here are in contrast to the Jews. Verse 16 alludes to the specific mission of Jesus in Matthew 15:24

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

Is there some reason why God does not give help to angels (Hebrews 2:16)?

That's not the point of Hebrew 2:16. The verse merely points out Jesus' special mission while he was walking in Palestine. It is not about God not helping or taking hold of angels in general.

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  • I certainly agree that the passages surrounding Hebrews 2:16 are referring to Christ's mission on earth. It had occurred to me that angels aren't given help because they don't need any, as spiritual beings devoid of sin.
    – Xeno
    May 15 at 20:20
  • Please join facebook.com/groups/129702255041932. We can discuss the issue of sinless beings there without the restrictions here.
    – Tony Chan
    May 15 at 21:29
  • @Xeno it could be speaking of in particular of the fallen angels, as Matthew Henry's Commentary notes. May 16 at 5:30
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"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14)!

"For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him" (John 3:34)!

Holy Spirit baptized members of the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:11-13) who are "the descendants of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16) need "help" from "the Comforter" (John Chapters 14, 15, 16) for not all are "sent" (I Corinthians 12:29-30).

"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:15)!

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    I appreciate the texts you list but I fail to understand what point you are making and how it answers the question. Could you please explain further.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 15:32
  • Please edit this to explain the relevance of these verses to the question.
    – curiousdannii
    May 16 at 0:20
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14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16For clearly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brothers so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Jesus, made like his brothers in every way needs the help of God to complete his mission.

"that He might become..."

How could he 'become' the perfect high priest? Because he was tempted - being able to sin, he was made able to resist sin at every moment leading up to the last hideous test of the cross because of God's provision. We know he could not achieve this on his own. but he did have to seek the help he needed.

in the days of His humanity, He offered up both prayers and pleas with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His devout behaviour. 8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him Heb 5:7

Angels are not deceived like man is/was. They should have known better than to follow Lucifer into sin/opposition to God.

Being spirit beings, they have full access to God. They are not separated from Him. They don't need help. They don't suffer or have to learn - they should know better than to choose other than God. They were not made needy like humans were. They need no food, sustenance, wisdom, guidance or help.

Jesus, made like us, does need help in everything - as the first fruit on all creation in ascending to be with God - finally holy and without potential for sin anymore.

Jesus from Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all those being oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him. Acts 10:38

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  • You make some interesting comments on the spiritual nature of angels. +1.
    – Xeno
    May 15 at 20:24

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