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THE “ALL THINGS” OF PSALM 8 AS INTERPRETED IN HEBREWS 2:8-9 

(Continued) 

The world to come is indeed subjected to Jesus, and, in Him, to man. That is the objective status as spoken of in Psalm 8; and thus it is also taught us in Hebrews 2:5, where we have the fact tense “has subjected”! However, we do not yet now see that the all things (“ta panta”) are in a permanent and abiding state subjected to men. (“upotetagmena”) We do not yet see the new heavens and the new earth of which Psalm 8speaks, and which will be the realization of the glory of Christ over all things. (Ephesians 1:9-10Colossians 1:16-18) We do not yet see this new order of things as a permanent and continual possession. That we will experience by sight when all of creation shall share in the glory of the sons of God. Then we shall see God face to face; we shall then see Him a He is. The term to see here is”horoomen“, that is, the continuous exercise of sight. (Compare Hebrews 11:27I John 3:2) Now we are saved in hope and await the final manifestation of man, the sons of glory with patience. This is a point which the readers, the Hebrew Christians, do well to remember. We live by faith now, and not by sight. 

Nevertheless, the glorification of Christ as set over all things is for us a reality of experience in faith and hope. In faith and hope we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. The term “crowned” in the Greek refers to a victory crown. The verb form in the Greek is the perfect passive participle: “estefanoomenon”. It refers to a crowning which is completed up to the present moment, and which Christ underwent from the Father as the fruit of His labors. The man Jesus did not crown Himself, but He was given the victory crown, to wit, a name and position above every name. Even though our present eyes do not yet experience all things subjected to Him, we know that one day this shall be fully realized by the exalted Jesus! 

FOR THE SUFFERING OF DEATH CR0WNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR — Hebrews 2:9 

Jesus was not crowned with glory and honor because He was made a little lower than the angels; on the contrary, He was crowned with glory and honor because of, on the basis of His suffering of death. Here we touch upon the very crux of the question of man’s exaltation as he is remembered by God and visited in love. Only thus will Psalm 8 have any meaning. The Psalm is, indeed, very Christological. Only when we see the Cross of Christ in that Psalm will we see that the glory of God is set above the heavens in the exaltation of man! 

The term “death” in the Greek is “thanatos”. It is the key-word here throughout. Through one man sin entered into the world, and through that sin and transgression death entered. It is well to notice that in this section of Hebrews 2, which we are considering, the term death occurs five times. In verse 9 twice we read the term death, and twice in verse 14 and once in verse 15. And in each case the term does not simply refer to physical death, but refers to death as the wages of sin which came into the world through the transgression of one man. (Romans 5:12,14; 6:23) Death refers to the death penalty which God announced to Adam in paradise as the verdict of God upon his eating of the forbidden tree. It refers to temporal death, spiritual death, and to eternal death; to death in all its compass as the consequence of sin in the righteous judgment of God. It is not the death which the righteous die in the Lord and by which they pass into the portals of glory, but it is raw death, the death which is the bearing of the eternal wrath of God against sin, the curse of the sinner, and eternal banishment from God’s sight! 

This death the Christ must suffer. He must suffer the wrath of God against sin. He must suffer death, taste death, and conquer death, swallow up death unto victory. He must fulfill all righteousness of the law until He has fully finished it. That Christ has accomplished on the Cross of Calvary. 

We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. He is in a permanent state of victory over death; He is the last Adam, the one man through whom is the resurrection and the victory. And we can see, in His glorious exaltation, the proof and evidence that His was a victory over death. And thus the glory of God’s grace in Him is set far above all the heavens. The “glory” with which He is crowned is the actual high estate above the angels at God’s own right hand. It is the glory of God in the Son, in which the Father is glorified in the Son. (John 13:31-32; 14:13; 17:1,4,5,10) The ascription of “honor” to the crowned man, Christ, refers to the recognition of His glory by all creatures in heaven and on earth. (John 5:23, 8:49; 12:26) Man has no honor or glory apart from this exaltation of Christ because of His suffering of death. 

No, we do not now yet see all things subjected to Christ. It seems that all things are rather subjected to sin, death, vanity. But in faith and hope we see this Jesus when we give earnest heed to the word which was spoken to us by the Lord himself, and confirmed by the apostles and accompanied by the signs and wonders of God’s Spirit as He wills to administer His grace of life. 

A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS – Hebrews 2:9 

In the interpretation of this verse here in Hebrews 2:9 we encounter a difficulty concerning the meaning of the phrase “‘Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels”. This part of the text here is a quotation fromPsalm 8:6 “wathechassreelu meath meelohim”, that is, “made a little less than God”. Our text in Hebrews 2:9quotes from the Septuagint translation which translates “elomim” not “God” but “angels”. This translation is followed by the KJV, the Holland translation, and the German as well. The difficulty is in part one of translation, and in part one of exegesis and conception. 

At the outset we may observe that the term “elohim”, that is “gods” is allowed by Christ himself in John 10:34 in quoting from Psalm 82:6 “I said ye are gods, and all of you sons of the most high.” Here “gods” refers to the great men in Israel who are in authority, and clothed with the divine dignity of office, they are those who are to judge the poor and fatherless and to do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Such are called “gods”, clothed with divine dignity. We have the same conception in Psalm 138:1b, “Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.” The reason for this is evidently that God is greater than the great of the earth, and the Psalmist is not afraid to acknowledge the Great before the great. 

It is evidently along this line that the translators in the Septuagint thought of the angels about the throne of God. These angels are high in royal dignity; they are such as always before the face of the Father, singing the trisagion before God. Being clothed which such dignity they are called “gods” in the Hebrew in Psalm 8:6

The term a “little” in the Hebrew is made to refer not to time, a little while, but is made to refer to degree of dignity. Thus it is in Psalm 8. However, interpreters, Calvin included, would make it refer in Hebrews 2:9 to the short while of Christ’s state of humiliation. Christ was then for a little while lower than the angels in the state of humiliation, but because of the suffering of death is exalted above the angels. It was not because of the fact that Christ suffered that he became of lower dignity in relationship to God’s throne than the angels, but because He was man, real man assuming the flesh and blood of the children. And this interpretation apparently squares pretty well with the general teaching of Scripture as well as that of the teaching here in Hebrews 2

The first man was indeed made a king. However, he fell and lost his dignity and honor. Now the Psalmist sees man exalted as in the counsel and purpose of God, in Messianic prophecy. He sees man exalted a little lower than God, that is, with divine dignity. He is well-nigh made God. He is a little lower. This intended dignity of him, who was seen as a little lower than God in the prophetic perspective, is realized in Jesus as He is crowned with glory and honor, and that, too, because of the suffering of death. He to whom God said in the decree: thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, is here presented as having come to this position of glory because of the suffering of death. Seeing this Jesus glorified we see man exalted a little lower than God, yet above the angels. The glorification of man according to Psalm 8 is not in the first Adam, taken from the earth and created in God’s image, but rather in the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. He that is seen in the Psalm as a little lower than God, is realized in Christ’s death and resurrection to such royal dignity above the angels. And truly all things are subjected to this Christ, and nothing is omitted in heaven or on earth.

THE ONL Y WAY TO GLOR Y: THE SUFFERING OF DEATH – Hebrews 2:9-10

The divine motive and purpose for exalting the Son, and in Him exalting man, is that God would show forth His grace. God would manifest the glory of His grace in Jesus Christ. Writes the Hebrews epistle here: “in order that by the grace of God he might taste death in behalf of all.” It is quite evident that this grace here is God’s grace to those for whom Christ must taste death. This is God’s saving grace whereby the sinner is brought all the way from death to life, and from sin and guilt to righteousness and glory. The question is: who are the “all” here in the text? Does this teach general atonement? It ought to be clear to the believing students of the Bible that “all” is ever limited by the context and its teaching. And, then, when we read verse 11, we notice that the “all” are “all” who are sanctified in Christ. Besides, we read in verse 10 of the ‘*many sons” which are to be brought to glory. These are the many sons of Abraham, which are as the sand upon the seashore and as the stars in the heavens in multitude. These are all the children of God, the sons according to election, whom Jesus calls brethren unashamedly. For all of these sons of God, these brethren, Christ must taste death on the Cross. And thus the grace of God is for us; thus too the manhood in Christ is truly made a little lower than God, well-nigh divine, partakers of the divine nature. It is the motif of grace which makes the Cross necessary! 

However, there is still another reason why the suffering of death is necessary, why man is raised through glory through the sufferings and death of Christ. This is the deep and profound theological reason. It befitted God thus to do so! It was and is in keeping with God’s greatness and His relationship to all things. All things are for Him and all things are by Him. In all of the inhabitable world there is nothing that is a reality apart from God. All is caused by Him and all has God as its end and goal. Now it befits God in bringing many sons to glory, and in giving them a place in “all things” to do so in the way of Christ’s suffering. That is the theological ground and reason for the Cross of Christ. Besides, there is also a divinely appointed legal and juridical necessity for the Cross. The just demand of God must be satisfied. And this demands the death of the Son of God. This implies that since we are saved from God’s wrath through Christ’s death, we shall be much more saved through his life to glory.