Hebrews 2:5-8a… Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Following the parenthesis of exhortation in Hebrews 2:1-4 the author goes right back to his comparison of Jesus and the angels. Whereas the Jews began to believe that angels would rule over mankind, and that Jesus was probably the chief angel, the author says no. And once again, in order to prove his point with the Jews, he went to their Bible to prove his point.
In v. 6 the author says, “One has testified somewhere” making it appear that he didn’t know where he was quoting from. But the writer obviously knew the passage well, for he quoted it word for word from Psalm 8:4-6 – a psalm of David. So why would he act as if he didn’t know who wrote the passage? The answer is that the Hebrews author was devoted to keeping the names of human authors out of his letter, including his own name. He never mentions a human author by name, and Hebrews itself is notoriously anonymous. The writer is mainly concerned that his Jewish audience view the OT as having one author, namely God. So it’s the voice of the Holy Spirit he is concerned with – not the man who composed the writing or writings.
In Psalm 8 David was worshipping God by observing the sky. He was simply looking up at it, and it was probably at night because he made no mention of the sun, only the moon and stars (8:3). As he worshipped he wrote what he felt, and it’s clear that David sat in awe of how highly his Maker regarded lowly man – enough to set him over His awesome creation. He wondered why God would ordain mankind as king over the creation. He says, “What is man… the son of man” – a typical Hebrew parallelism equating the two. Some think that “son of man” is David talking about the Messiah, but this is false. Yes, Jesus called himself the Son of Man (Matt. 8:20), but this phrase is used numerous times for simple men in the OT, and the context of Psalm 8 is clear in that it’s talking about mankind in general. What is man that God regards him?
Now Hebrews uses Psalm 8 to remind the readers of a few things. First, that God is “mindful” of man. This means that God remembers man, thinks about him, and cares for him. He has an active concern for mankind. Second, God “cares” for man. This term means to “seek out” or “to visit.” Clearly, God is not aloof with mankind but actively loves and cares for him. Third, God has made man “for a little while lower than the angels.” While man is physical, angels are spiritual, but this is merely a temporary distinction. Angels have continual access to God and have supernatural powers. Man is earthbound and made from dust. In the future man will be elevated to angelic likeness, although God never says that mankind will become angels!
The Psalm also says that man has been “crowned with glory and honor” with everything under his authority (vv. 7-8). These passages, though partially true in the here and now, are prophecies of what awaits mankind in the “world to come.” They await Christ’s coming.
Food for Thought
God has given mankind fatherly care and a unique authority. We were created with a distinctive dignity being crowned with glory and honor as the apex of God’s creation. We have unrivaled authority on God’s earth. Clearly we were made in His image. What has man become? He abuses his privileges, ignores his dignity, limits his dominion, and despises God’s favor. That is why we don’t see man as he should be, and it’s why we must look to Jesus who came to earth as a man, taking on human nature, in order to accomplish what we have failed miserably to do.
Hebrews 2:5-8 (Pt. 2) “Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.’”
As noted in Hebrews 1 many Jews held angels in very high regard. After all, they were powerful beings that God created, and they made some very spectacular appearances in the OT. Some had come to believe that angels would finally rule the earth. One group, called the Essenes (a first-century sect that Hebrews may have been directed at), awaited two Messianic figures – one kingly and one priestly, and they believed that the archangel Michael would rule over them. In other words, the “world to come” (v. 8) would be ruled over by an angel or angels. This false teaching was corrected by the author of Hebrews beginning in 2:5-8. Angels are created beings sent to serve the heirs of salvation (1:14), so they are servants, not rulers.
Hebrews 2:5 sets out to correct a misconception among some Jewish believers of that time. In speaking of the “world to come” (Greek οἰκουμένην) he speaks of the “world” as the inhabited earth as opposed to a future “age” or “system.” In other words, he speaks of a new earth, which theologians call the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). This is Christ’s earthly kingdom which will follow his second coming, and the writer of Hebrews is telling the audience that this future kingdom will not be ruled over by angels but by Jesus Christ who is superior to them.
Now when God created the heavens and earth (Gen. 1:1) He created man on the sixth day of His creation. Then after surveying each day of His work God declared His work “very good” (Gen. 1:31). He then placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden, and as part of being made in His image, God gave them dominion over His creation (Gen. 1:26). Man was then in charge of what God had made perfect. Man, however, relinquished his authority to Satan when he sinned.
Now God subjected His creation to man in the beginning (Gen. 1:26), and He will also subject the “world to come” to him. This is the world that Jesus will reign over, and because God’s children will reign with Christ, they too will rule over this future world. The present inhabited earth, however, is ruled over by angels. Satan, the prince of the fallen angels (demons), is said to be the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; cf. 1 John 5:19) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). His emissaries, the demons, are called “rulers, powers, world forces of this present darkness… spiritual forces of wickedness” (Eph.6:12). Furthermore, Ephesians 6:12 says that mankind’s struggle isn’t against flesh but against these demonic hosts. One might conclude that demons are the sole rulers on God’s earth, but in fact they are simply one of three groups who war against each other today. Holy angels also rule (Daniel 10) and struggle with demons while serving the saints, and mankind struggles with those demonic forces (Eph. 6:12). Ultimately, however, the author of Hebrews makes it clear that angels will not rule; Christ will.
Food for Thought
Even though mankind gave his right to rule to Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3) by sinning, God has ordained that man will one day be sovereign over His creation while reigning with Jesus Christ. Therefore it is ludicrous to believe that Christ is lower than the angels simply because he became a man, mankind currently being ruled over by angels and demons. Man was made “lower than the angels” only “for a little while” according to 2:7, but on God’s appointed day man will indeed rise above the angels and mete out judgment over them (1 Cor. 6:3). Man’s sin didn’t thwart God’s plan; it only hurt man himself. God’s will continues to unfold perfectly.
Hebrews 2:8-9… 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. 9 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.
Man’s original destiny on the earth to rule over all things well was thwarted by Adam’s sin. Since then neither mankind nor the earth itself has been the same. Man forfeited his kingdom and crown and gave them over to Satan whom he has been at war with ever since.
Originally the earth supplied man’s needs without him having to do anything. After the curse, however, man has had to manipulate it to bring forth fruit. Now the earth is under the influence of the curse which yields weeds and death. Mankind therefore does not rule over the earth, rather, it tends to rule over him in the form of famines, earthquakes, tornados, and the like.
After man’s fall, women were cursed, for God told Eve, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Men also were cursed, for now Adam would have to work for his food since God was going to curse the earth. God told Adam: “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you,’ in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground” (Gen. 3:17-19). The animal kingdom also paid a heavy price for man’s sin. Whereas all of God’s created animals were once affectionate toward man, now they are merely compliant out of fear for man.
Virtually everything God originally gave man as a blessing has become his enemy. The earth brings forth natural disasters with extremes in both heat and cold. Plants produce thorns and poisonous resins. Man plants but can only hope to reap. He builds cities but is helpless against floods, tornados, and earthquakes. He works tirelessly to advance himself through education, yet he can be totally devastated by cancer or sudden accidental death. Man basically fights against himself, against his fellow man, and against nature – all due to his own sin.
Astoundingly the creation itself knows its present cursed condition. Paul wrote in Romans 8:19-22: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
So when the author of Hebrews says, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (v. 8b) he says this with a full understanding not only of what he knew to be true in nature but also its relevance to the Genesis curse. God put everything in subjection to man, but man threw it away. And now man struggles continually, even blaming God for his misery. God merely held true to His promise. And He has also promised deliverance in Christ.
Food for Thought
The present conditions will not prevail forever. In Jesus Christ alone man is set free from the curse by believing in him through faith. In the “world to come” that Hebrews describes man will enjoy what God originally intended for him to enjoy. There will be no more death, sickness, or sadness. Nations will no longer fight against nations (Isa. 2:4), and the animal kingdom will be restored as the wolf lies down with the lamb in peace (Isa. 11:6). Come Lord Jesus!
Hebrews 8b-9… At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to [mankind]. 9 But we do 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.
Clearly mankind lost what was originally his. God gave him authority over His created universe and put everything in subjection to him. But man gave it away, and now he struggles with Satanic forces (Eph. 6:12) for control over what is rightfully his. This is one of the reasons that God appeared on the earth as a man, as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came to reverse the curse and to fulfill what man, because of sin, was unable to fulfill.
When Jesus walked the earth he overcame all temptations to sin, and he conquered death. He was tempted by the devil for 40 days, and he prevailed. Actually, he was tempted in every way that man is tempted, yet he was without sin. His life was one of perfection even though the blood in his veins was red. This is what qualified Jesus to die as the perfect Lamb of God. He suffered as man suffers and was tempted as all men are tempted, yet he was without sin. For that reason he was qualified to represent man at the cross and die on his behalf. But Jesus was also God, so he was qualified to make the perfect atonement for mankind’s sins. So when Hebrews says that everything is not currently in subjection to mankind in v. 8, the author is leading the reader down the road to salvation. In v. 9 he says, “But we do 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.”
The reason it is important to see Jesus in light of all of man’s failures to govern God’s created order is because Jesus represents man by standing in man’s place. No, man is not seen today as ruling over God’s creation, but Jesus is, for he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (1:3). Jesus was “for a little while made lower than the angels” just as man was by simple virtue of being a man. The fact that it is for a “little while” means that it’s temporary both for Jesus and man. Yet it was necessary for God to become a man and be lower than the angels in order for him to accomplish what man was unable to accomplish. Jesus did what man could not, and although man gave up his own “crown of glory and honor” (2:7) by sinning, Jesus gained it back for him by suffering death on behalf of all mankind. In doing so Jesus removed the curse! So we may not see all things in subjection to man now, but we do see Jesus. He is crowned with glory and honor because of what he did. And in God’s mind man too is crowned with glory and honor insofar as he identifies himself with Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:5-11). That is salvation.
Food for Thought
Professional sports franchises compete each season for a national championship. There’s the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBC Championship, and a host of others. Fans that identify with a championship team are also seen as champions as they, having done nothing to help their team win, chant “We won! We won!” As they identify with their team by cheering them on and wearing the team paraphernalia they too are regarded as champions. So it is with Christ. Believers did nothing to win the battle Christ won. He did it ALL! All we must do is identify with Christ and take His name as our own – “Christian” which means “little Christ.” So when people look at us, or when we look at ourselves see a miserable sinner, we can say as Hebrews says: “But we do see Jesus.” He won the battle we could never win, and he even tasted death for us all. All we need do is believe on him. In the end he reigns with believers next to him.
· So the world to come here is speaking of an inhabited earth that is yet future, and this is consistent with many biblical prophecies. Some believe, however, that there is no earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ in the future on the earth (called Amillennialists), but Hebrews 2:5 seems clear that there is. This future earthly kingdom could not be the present earth, for Zechariah 14:9-11 speaks of it as following Jesus Christ’s second coming (Zech. 14:1-4).
· We ARE the rightful rulers of God’s creation. But we allow sin to mar God’s image bearers. We have allowed the angelic hosts to rule over us. But even though demons are more powerful than we are, they are no match for the HS which dwells within God’s people.
· Soon after the sin of man death indeed became rampant. Soon after this there was murder, for Cain killed Abel. Polygamous marriages came about, and then Genesis 5 records the death God promised to mankind for their sins. By the time Genesis 6 begins the earth had become so corrupted God would eventually flood the earth sparing only Noah and his family.
· Because Christ died for us, we too will reign with him: Rev. 5:9-10
· We will reign as kings on the earth: Rev. 20:4
· Man will be changed: Isaiah 2:2-4
· Animals will be changed: Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:6, 8-9
· Plants will be changed: Isaiah 35:1-2
· Man has a purpose: to rule with Christ over God’s created universe. We are not inferior to animals, sticks, and stones (idolatry and animism); We are not a product of chance as a result of natural selection (evolution).
Explanation: Why Jesus Christ Is Not Inferior Because of His Humanity (Heb. 2:5–18)
The fact that angels are “ministering spirits” without human bodies would seem to give them an advantage over Jesus Christ who had a human body while He ministered on earth.
· God never promised the angels that they would reign in “the world to come” (Heb. 2:5).
· It is obvious that man today is not exercising dominion over creation. “But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Heb. 2:8).
· “But we see Jesus!” (Heb. 2:9) He had dominion over the fish (Matt. 17:24–27 – denarius in fish; Luke 5:1–11 – told Peter to cast his nets over the other side; John 21:1–11), over the fowl (Luke 22:34, 60 – the rooster), and over the wild beasts (Mark 1:12–13 – in the wilderness with the animals), and the domesticated beasts (Mark 11:1–7 – rode on a colt). Today, everything is under His feet (Eph. 1:20–23).
· If He had not become man, He could not have died and “taste[d] death [experienced death] for every man” (Heb. 2:9). It is true that angels cannot die; but it is also true that angels cannot save lost sinners and restore man’s lost dominion.
5 Οὐ γὰρ ἀγγέλοις ὑπέταξεν τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν, περὶ
For not to angels he subjected (AAI) the inhabited world the one being about to (PAPtcp), about
ἧς λαλοῦμεν. 6 διεμαρτύρατο δέ πού τις λέγων· τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος
which we speak (PAI). Testified (AMI) but where someone saying (PAPtcp): “What is (PAI) man
ὅτι μιμνῄσκῃ αὐτοῦ, ἢ υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ὅτι ἐπισκέπτῃ αὐτόν;
that you remember (PPI) him, the son of man that you look over (PMI) him?
7 ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους, δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας
You made less (AAI) him little some by angels, in glory and value you crowned (AAI)
αὐτόν,8 πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ. ἐν τῷ γὰρ
him, all you subjected (AAI) underneath the feet of him. In the for
ὑποτάξαι [αὐτῷ] τὰ πάντα οὐδὲν ἀφῆκεν αὐτῷ ἀνυπότακτον. Νῦν δὲ
to subject (AAIn) him the all nothing he left out (AAI) to him un-submitting. But now
οὔπω ὁρῶμεν αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα ὑποτεταγμένα· 9 τὸν δὲ βραχύ τι παρʼ
not yet we see (PAI) him the all having been subjected (RPPtcp). The but little some from
ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον βλέπομεν Ἰησοῦν διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου
messengers having been lessened (RPPtcp) we see (PAI) Jesus by the suffering of the death
δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον, ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς
in glory and value having been crowned (RPPtcp), so that in favor of God on behalf of all
he might taste (AMS) of death
Hebrews 2:5-8a… Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to. 9 But we do 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.
Topic: the world to come (cf. Heb. 1:6, 8, 1-13); the future reign of man on earth (5)
Problem: the Jews held a false view of the future world (that an angel would rule, maybe Jesus)
Solution: an exposition of Jewish Scripture – Psalm 8.
- God is mindful and caring toward man (6).
- Man made lower than angels temporarily – angels access to God; man earthbound (7a)
- In the future man will be in angelic likeness – not angelic
- Man sinned and relinquished his authority (Gen. 3:16-19)
- Satan has been made “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14; 30; cf. Eph. 2:2); “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Cf. Matthew 4:8-10
- Today man and angels struggle w/demonic forces (Eph. 6:12; cf. Dan. 10)
- After the fall sin came in: murder, polygamy, death, then a flood.
- The earth now rules over man (famines, earthquakes, tornados, etc.); his enemy
i. Earth brings forth natural disasters with extremes in both heat and cold.
ii. Plants produce thorns and poisonous resins.
iii. He plants & builds but can only hope to reap and enjoy.
iv. He works tirelessly through education, yet he succumbs to cancer
v. Man fights against himself, his fellow man, and nature
- The creation itself knows its present cursed condition (Romans 8:19-22)
- In the “world to come” man will enjoy what God intended for him to enjoy.
i. No more death, sickness, or sadness.
ii. Nations will no longer fight against nations (Isa. 2:4),
iii. The animal/plant kingdom restored (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:6, 8-9; 35:1-2).
- Jesus… (9) § Tempted by the devil for 40 days, and he prevailed.
§ Tasted death for everyone
§ Jesus suffered as man suffers and was tempted as all men are tempted
§ Dominion over fish (Matt. 17:24–27); fowl (Luke 22:34, 60); wild beasts (Mark and the domesticated beasts (Mark 11:1–7 – rode on a colt).
§ Today, everything is under His feet (Eph. 1:20–23).
§ Salvation: Identification with Christ who did all things well
- Man has unique authority (abuses his privileges); distinctive dignity (crowned but ignores/tarnished it); unrivaled authority (has limited his dominion; despised God)
- Eagerly awaiting? (Heb. 9:27)… fathers leading? Men shepherding? Women caring for home?; People worshipping Christ? Children obeying parents?
- Christ is coming back to rule “world to come” (Mark 14:32-37)… be on guard; be alert; stay awake!