For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
The greatest difficulty is to know what is meant by "the world to come," which many think refers to the state of glory, and the word which follows the resurrection. Thus Lapide, and some of the ancients. Rivers understands the Church-Christian as opposed to the Church of former times, especially under the law. This is the more probable sense; for the apostle speaks of these last times, wherein God spake unto men by His Son; and it is opposed to the times wherein He spake by His prophets and angels. Yet we must not understand it of the Church exclusively, as though God had not subjected other things, even angels, for the good of the Church. That world and those times whereof the apostle speaks are here meant, but he speaks of the times of the gospel. The proposition is negative. God subjected not the world to come to angels. In former times God had used very much the ministry of angels in ordering the Church, and put much power in their hands to that end. Yet now in this last time He made Christ His Son (who by reason of His suffering was a little lower then the angels) to be the administrator-general of His kingdom, the universal Lord, and subjected the very angels unto Him. The expression seems to be taken from Isaiah 9:6, for whereas there, amongst other titles given to Christ, one is, everlasting Father; the Septuagint turn it, the Father or Governor of the world to come, which seems to be the genuine sense of the Hebrew words. The sum is, that God did not subject the Church in the times of the gospel, nor the world of those times to angels but to Christ. The words thus understood may inform us —
1. That Christ is more excellent than the angels.
2. If the law and Word spoken by angels, when neglected and disobeyed, was so severely punished, much more severely shall they who neglect the gospel spoken by Christ be punished.
3. That if it was the duty of the fathers and those who lived in former times to hearken to the Word spoken by angels, which are but servants, then it is much more the duty of us, who live in these last times, to hearken unto the Word of so great salvation spoken by Christ, made Lord of all. From hence we may understand the scope of the words to be the same with that of the former, and that may be considered either as part of the former reason why we should hearken to Christ and not neglect the gospel; or they may, with the latter words following, contain another distinct reason, and in this manner, that seeing God hath not to the angels subjected the world to come, but to Christ, who, by His suffering and death, was for a little time made lower than the angels, and for that suffering, afterwards made Lord of all, even of angels, then we ought to give the more earnest heed to His doctrine.
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.