Let’s approach this important section as though we are working on a jigsaw puzzle. We have our framework in that we know the Writer is currently discussing why Jesus is greater than the angels. He will go on to compare Jesus with other features of the Old Judaic system as I listed for you in Gem 2027. At the end of the first chapter he made the point that angels are only servants to care for those who will inherit salvation. Following that he gave his first warning to the Jewish Christians not to drift by neglecting so great a salvation. He made the point that the world to come (the world God will reconstitute in the Age to Come) will not be subject to angels. Then he followed that with the quote from Psalm 8 to show that God intended everything would be under man’s control (nothing would be left out), while making it clear that we don’t see that yet.
In the context of making his point he used the quote from Psalm 8 to demonstrate God’s original intention for mankind.
YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOUR;
But notice how he takes that exact same statement and then applies it to Jesus.
But we do see Him, Who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of His suffering death crowned with glory and honour, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.Heb 2:9
Notice the words the writer has added to make his point. He makes it clear that he has switched the focus of Psalm 8, which was on mankind, to Jesus, the one he is talking about being so much higher than the angels. We have these two verses 7 and 9 deliberately contrasted it seems.
This contrast did not just happen; it was deliberate. The writer is doing something quite brilliant on a macro scale. He is giving us a glimpse into the grand scheme of things. He has done it with subtlety by comparing these two moments in history and making his point in no uncertain terms of the difference between this One of Whom he talks and the angels, who are merely servants to the major players in God’s story. In brief we are told mankind was destined to rule in glory and honour under God’s original intention. But we don’t see it, it hasn’t happened yet for the reasons we discussed in the previous Gem.
“But we do see Jesus now having been made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour.” Hebrews 2:9
Yes the astute ones among you have noticed I have pruned the writers added comments from this statement and I have changed the tense. I did not do it to deceive you and mess with Scripture. I have done it to clarify what is being said. We don’t see yet redeemed man in the position of being crowned with glory and honour ruling in the new millennium. But we do see Jesus having been made for a little while lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour.
That statement needs some unpacking and some of our questions answered. Firstly, who are the “we” who see Jesus made lower than angels then crowned? Firstly, remember they are the ones who were the first eye witnesses of Jesus preaching the Gospel as this writer has told us already in Hebrews 1:2 and then later ear witnesses from those who heard Jesus and then passed the message of the Gospel on to others of what they had seen and heard. The Gospel is no less than the explanation of what this is all about. The point of why the writer to the Hebrew speaking Christians is challenging them not to drift and neglect the Gospel of Christ. Do you see he was making this “so great a salvation” clear so that they won’t neglect it?
What follows needs unpacking so we understand clearly what the writer was alluding to. Here are our questions:
- If Jesus is greater than the angels, then when was He made a little lower than those angels? How long was this “for a little while”?
- Is there a difference in the degree of lowering as some commentators claim?
- Has the crowning of Jesus with glory and honour already happened or is it still to come?
- Why was Jesus crowned with glory and honour?
- What is the relationship between ‘suffering death’ and being “crowned with glory and honour’ and what’s the timing and sequence of the two?
- What’s the significance of the final element in this sentence, “so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone”?
- How does this initial argument link to what follows?
- Ian, I counted 5 “for’s”, 2 “therefore’s” and a “so that” in the passage? How do they all fit together?
- How is the writer using the quotes from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 8?
Wow I am impressed. There are some good questions in that lot. Here again is the block of text we are dealing with in this passage: The blue text are the words of the writer of the letter; the black text are the Old Testament quotes.
9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of His suffering death crowned with glory and honour, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the originator of their salvation through sufferings.11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,
“I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BROTHERS,Psalm 22:22
IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”
13 And again,
“I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.”Isaiah 8:17
“BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”Isaiah 8:18
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.16 For clearly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brothers so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebrews 2:9-18 [NASB]
What the writer is doing in these two blocks is taking the Gospel, that which This Son spoke to us in these last days to explain the Good News as it relates to this so great a salvation. It is after all the reason why Jesus for a little while was made lower than the angels. He came to give help to the descendants of Abraham, not the angels, who are only ministering servants to care for those who will inherit salvation.
Now I believe I have laid out all the pieces. In the next Gem we will seek to pull it all together and answer our questions.
Take time now to ponder what I have given you in this Gem and see if that helps you answer the questions we have come up with.
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees & flowers & clouds & stars.Martin Luther
Don’t let the Gospel you preach, out-preach the Gospel you live.Ben Reed
The good news is something good happening to bad people. Tell someone!Andy Stanley
The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.Carl Henry