“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come where of we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownest him with glory, and honor, and didst set him over the work of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
A NEW SECTION INTRODUCED BY THE WRITER. (vs. 5-18)
The writer had spoken in the foregoing concerning the greatness and the exaltedness of the Son over all things, far above the station of the angels in glory; now he will exhibit from the holy Scriptures that such exaltation and glory is only possible through the sufferings of death. The glory of the mediator is only possible through the sufferings of death on the accursed tree. To all of these things we are to give the more earnest heed as New Testament church.
We have good reason to give all our attention to what the Lord himself began to speak on earth, and that which was witnessed to us by those who saw him, and which was confirmed by signs, wonders and powers through the Holy Ghost according to God’s will. For these things pertain to the world to come. In this world to come Christ is the exalted Lord. Into it many sons are brought to glory, and the Son is perfected through sufferings in bringing this about. And it became God thus to do; it was befitting to his Godhead, wisdom, power and glory.
It is a remarkable fact that the writer, already in this section, implicitly is speaking of him who is a King-Priest. The section begins with the setting forth of Christ’s exaltedness; however, it ends with showing that it is an exaltedness which is through the office of being a priest, a high priest in the things pertaining to God. In a masterful way the writer exacts this teaching concerning the King-Priesthood of Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures. One hears in this section the refrain of Jesus, when he says: O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered all these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
While the writer emphasized the real deity of Christ in Chapter 1:1ff., here he shows us the true humanity of the Christ in his utter humiliation being made like unto the brethren in all things. He is very God, and, at the same time, he is real and righteous man.
It is to be observed that the writer to the Hebrews is writing on the general subject here of the “world to come”, as this is the work of God in Jesus. The termworld in the original Greek is “oikoumeneen” and refers to the inhabited world of men and angels in their relationship to the throne of God. To be sure this includes the entire universe, the Cosmos, which was finished from the beginning of creation (Hebrews 4:3) It also includes the “ages” of times and history. (Hebrews 1:2;11:3) Yet, the viewpoint here is that of the inhabitable world of men and angels. (Matthew 24:14; Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28;Romans 10:18; Hebrews 1:6).
The world to come must therefore refer to the world as it shall be in relationship to God, His throne, His kingdom, His temple, and the glory of God in setting all things in heaven and on earth in relationship to Himself: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among the men of His good-pleasure! This song of the angels in Bethlehem-Ephratha was sounded long before in. Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth; who hath set Thy glory above the heavens.” This “glory above the heavens” must refer to the glory of God as this is revealed to us in the mystery of godliness in His Son, in his death and resurrection. There is an evident contrast in this world “to come” with the world that is past. The world that is past refers to the entire world as Satan would offer it to Christ, speaking of all the kingdoms of this world. (Luke 45) Here is the kingdom of sin and death, of darkness and corruption; it is men and angels as they are doomed by the righteous judgment of God, and the entire world as it is subjected to vanity.(Romans 8:20)
This world is definitely not subjected to the angels. It is true the writer had already stated this before in Chapter 1, but now he will demonstrate this more completely and with particulars in this section which we are considering. The name above every name is inherited by the Son of God.
Concerning this we have strong testimony in the Old Testament Scriptures. It is vigorously and solemnly affirmed in the prophets through which God spoke in times past. The writer does not designate the secondary author. In the absence of such an indication all the attention is called to what was testified, and not to who it was that said it. The writer stands in the midst of men here on this earth, when he speaks in Psalm 8. It is a Psalm in which it is joyfully and wonderingly affirmed that God has visited man. Jehovah remembered man in his plight as he did remember Noah in the ark of old during the time of the Flood. The term “remember” and “visit” according to the Hebrew parallelism are so related that the latter term shows, that the remembering was such, that it resulted in a “visit.” It was a visit to help man in his sinful woe; it was the time of visitation in love: Immanuel, God-with-us, at the time when Jesus was upon earth. These strains we hear in the song of Zacharias when he says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people.” It is the visit of redemption. (Luke 1:68) For the coming of the Christ is characterized in the same prophecy from Zacharias’ lips “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visitedus.” (Luke 1:77-78) The Psalmist in Psalm 8 testifies vigorously of this visit by our God in Christ.
Furthermore, the Psalmist presents this visit as being such that it is for the exaltation of man over all things. In the poetical description we have more than a mere nature Psalm. The terms of the present earthly creation are employed to portray “all” things of the world to come. Sheep and oxen, the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. These are all subjected to man. They refer to all things being subjected to the Christ of God, as so beautifully expressed by Paul in I Corinthians 3:21-23 “…For all things are yours; Whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” This implies that in Psalm 8 the one who “testifies” concerning God’s visiting men is not speaking of the first Adam and all things as they were to be subdued by him in the earthly creation, nor can this refer simply to David or any other mortal under the sun. For, as Calvin states in his Commentary on this text, “…I indeed allow that man was first put in possession of the world, that he might rule over all the works of God; but by his own defection he deserved the loss of his dominion, for it was a just punishment for ingratitude as to one thus favoured, that the Lord, whom he refused to acknowledge and faithfully to worship, should have deprived him of a right previously granted him. As soon then as Adam alienated himself from God through sin, he was justly deprived of the good things which he had received; not that he was denied the use of them, but that he could have had no right to them after he had forsaken God. And in the very use of them God intended that there should be some tokens of this loss of right, such as these, — the wild beasts ferociously attack us, those who ought to be awed by our presence are dreaded by us, some never obey us, others can hardly be trained to submit, and they do us harm in various ways; the earth answers not to our expectation in cultivating it; the sky, the air, the sea, and other things are often adverse to us. But were all creatures to continue in subjection yet whatever the sons of Adam possessed would be deemed a robbery; for what can they call their own when they themselves are not God’s?”
Hence, we must understand Psalm 8 as referring to man’s dominion over all things due to Jehovah’s gracious visit in Christ Jesus. Thus the Holy Spirit definitely interprets Psalm 8 here in Hebrews 2. Besides, the praise which God prepares for himself in this manifestation of Jehovah’s name is interpreted by Christ in Matthew 21:16 as referring to Himself as the one to whom Hosannas are sung by the children in the temple. Well may we give the more earnest heed to the things which Christ thus began to speak concerning Himself and his glorious exaltation through sufferings.
Sometimes “all things” are not all things; the expression “all things” often refers to all things within a certain class of things. However, here in Psalm 8, as interpreted in Hebrews 2:8-9, the expression refers to all things without exception. There was nothing which was not put under Christ. For the world is here not the world of a Paradise Lost but the world of the heavenly Paradise, when the tabernacle of God shall be with man. Small wonder that the Psalmist includes within the scope of his vision and ecstasy the sun, the moon and the stars. He is not interested in an astronaut on one of the planets, but rather the great wisdom and dependability of God as reflected in the constellation of the heavens; determining times and seasons. This all may seem so stupendously great and vast. And man is seemingly but a mere speck in the universe of the world. Yet, all things are subjected to man. Man is the concern of God. God did not visit the moon and the stars. He came and made His abode amongst men. And all things, nothing excluded, are subjected unto man, the man Christ Jesus. Thus we see the world to come subjected not to angels but to the Son of God in our flesh, the Word Incarnate!