3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord,
The salvation of which the Lord Jesus spoke stands in contrast to the penalty about which the angels giving the law spoke. Jesus spoke much about His future kingdom while He was on earth (Mk 1:15; Mt 9:35). It is egregious to neglect what our Lord has said. Angels were agents of delivering God’s word and Jesus is the ultimate Agent of communications from God.
and was confirmed to us by those [apostles] who heard Him,
The readers of Hebrews never heard Jesus speak directly. They were second-generation Christians. They received Jesus’ words indirectly from the apostles who heard Jesus speak. The apostles were first-generation believers who preceded the time of readers of Hebrews.
The apostles who heard Jesus’ words “confirmed” what He said. The word “confirmed” is a legal term. God gave mighty and legal evidence in the courtroom of those who heard Jesus face-to-face. He ratified this evidence by corroboration of signs and wonders through the apostles. This was the apologetics of a generation without a complete New Testament.
“Was confirmed” comes from a verb meaning to bind. This is the verbal form of the word “steadfast” in verse 2. This verb indicates that the confirmation took place at one point in the historical past from the writing of Hebrews (aorist tense, passive voice, indicative mood). This word demonstrates that miraculous gifts did not continue after the apostles because the confirmation was completed by them. The emphasis is not on the miracles, but on the message confirmed by miracles. Once the eyewitnesses died, miraculous gifts ceased.
The Holy Spirit ratified the words of Christ by miracles and manifestations of the Holy Spirit though the apostles. Jesus personally confirmed the apostles’ authority to write Scripture and found the church.
“By those who heard Him” is an indication that Paul did not write Hebrews. Paul received direct revelation from God Himself (Ga 1:11-12).
The preaching of the Word takes precedence over miracles.
If disregard for the law of Moses brought serious sanctions, then even more so indifference for the message of the Son will bring greater sanctions. God deals seriously with those who disrespect His Word.
As there was retribution for those who reject God’s revelation in the Old Testament, so God will discipline those who neglect the revelation of Christ in the New Testament. This passage does not define the nature of this retribution, but the author includes himself in the “we” of this warning.