Hebrews: “Him Who For A Little While Was Made Lower Than The Angels”

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2:9

Earlier we studied the Hebrew writer’s inspired thoughts on Jesus’ superiority over the angels.  Now in Hebrews 2:5-9 he revisits the subject by first pointing out that “it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking” (v. 5).  “The world to come, of which we are speaking” refers to “these last days” of which he spoke at the beginning of the book (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Paul told Christians the “end of the ages” had come upon them (1 Corinthians 10:11).  Unlike the age of the Genesis patriarchs when God spoke to the fathers of families (cf. Hebrews 1:1), or the age in which the Law of Moses was the covenant between God and the nation of Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 5:1-3), the “end of the ages” or “these last days” refers to the time of the gospel, the Christian age in which God speaks to us through the words of his Son (Hebrews 1:2).  “The world to come, of which are speaking” refers to the time when the new covenant of Christ is in effect, replacing the old covenant which “is becoming obsolete and growing old (and) is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13) with something better.

“It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking” (Hebrews 2:5).  In other words, the angels which revealed that old covenant (Acts 7:38, 53; Galatians 3:19; cf. Deuteronomy 33:2) have no rule in the age of the new covenant.  The Christian age started with the inauguration of the Son of God at the right hand of God’s throne (Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20; Matthew 28:18; cf. Daniel 7:13-14).  In Hebrews 2:6-7 the Hebrew writer bolsters this concept by quoting Psalm 8:4-6, in which the Psalmist prophesied of the all-powerful and majestic God’s great love and care for man being shown by making their Messiah “for a little while lower than the angels.”  This took place when the Word, who “was with God” and “was God” (John 1:1), “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  As Paul put it, Christ “was in the form of God, (and) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).  Humanity is lower than angels in many ways, and Jesus became human – both God and man – for 33 years (“for a little while”) before ascending back to the throne of God, who then “crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

On this last point from the Psalm the Hebrew writer expounds by writing, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.  At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:8b).  Paul wrote that by Jesus “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).  Truly, there is “nothing outside his control.”  Man with our fallible, limited perspective and vision does not yet fully recognize this (“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him”), but we must accept it with the conviction that comes from faith (cf. Hebrews 11:1).

In Hebrews 2:9, quoted above, the writer makes his overall point.  The Psalmist prophesied that God would make the Messiah “for a little while lower than the angels” before “crowning him with glory and honor.”  This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus, who became both fully God and fully human “for a little while” before ascending back into heaven and being “crowned with glory and honor.”  John’s vision in Revelation agrees with the Hebrew writer’s expressed reason for Jesus’s crowning of glory and honor: “because of the suffering of death” (v. 9; cf. Revelation 5:6-14).  Jesus “tast(ed) death for everyone.”  He took what we deserve for our sins (1 John 2:2; Romans 5:6-10).  This was done due to God’s grace and love for us all (cf. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8).

Praise God for his love and grace!

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