"1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."
This is the first of the seven warnings in the Epistle. It is based on the statements made in ch 1. The point about establishing Christ's superiority over the angels is that the voice of Christ should be listened to more earnestly even than that of the angels. The 'word spoken by angels' (2) refers to the Law which was 'ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator' (Galatians 3:19). Christ's word, however, is greater and more authoritative, since He fulfils the Law and supersedes it. The 'things which we have heard' (1) refer to the word of the gospel, confirmed and sealed to them in the preaching of the apostles by signs following. The phrase 'let them slip' in 1 is better translated 'slip away from thee'. The NEB renders it 'for fear of drifting from our course'. 'Drifting' is the right word. It is a significant metaphor. It is the picture of a boat on a river being carried past the landing stage by a strong current. There are two important thoughts here. Firstly, the current of the Old Testament is one that should by right bring men to the proper landing stage. The Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But very often there is misunderstanding of the Law: it becomes an end in itself and then it proves a current too strong for the frail bark that sails on it, and carries it away onto the rocks or out to the open sea. This in fact was what had happened with the Jews. They had misunderstood their own Law, and taken it to be a way of salvation in itself instead of a pointer to Him Who alone is the way, the truth and the life. And in that sad and tragic misunderstanding they had missed the mark and lost the prize of their high calling.