Hebrews 2:5
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection, etc. The writer now resumes the subject of the exaltation of the Son of God over the holy angels. He proceeds to show that in that human nature in which he suffered death, he is raised to supreme glory and authority, and that man also is exalted in and through him. Notice -

I. THE DESTINY FOR WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. In certain aspects of his being man seems to be an insignificant creature, and to occupy a comparatively mean position in the universe. The psalmist, who is quoted in the text, refers to this: "When I consider thy heavens,... what is man?" etc. The word translated "man" denotes the weakness and frailty of our nature; and the words translated "son of man" point to man as "formed of the dust of the ground." Yet there are aspects in which man is great; and the destiny for which God created him is a glorious one. That destiny is briefly indicated in this quotation from Psalm 8:8. It consists in:

1. A high place in the Divine regard. As evidence of this we have a twofold fact.

(1) God graciously thinks of man. "Thou art mindful of him;" "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil." God's care of man, which is manifested in the provision which he has made for him, witnesses to his thought of him. What significance it gives to our life when we reflect that the Infinite thinks upon us and cares for us! How the fact tends to exalt our nature! What a consolation and inspiration it should be to us! "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me."

(2) God graciously visits man. "Thou visitest him." The word used indicates a kindly visitation, as of "a physician visiting the sick." His visitation preserveth our spirits. His visits bring light and refreshment and joy. "His going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the rain," etc. His visits are redemptive. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people."

2. An exalted rank in creation. "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." We have already called attention to the distinguished rank of angels in the universe, Man is only a little lower than they. "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Man's nature is intellectual He can reason, reflect, etc. It is spiritual. The body is the vesture of that which comes from God and returns to him. "There is a spirit in man," etc. It is moral. He can understand and feel the heinousness of the morally wrong, the majesty of the morally right. Conscience speaks within him. It is religious. He can love, admire, and adore. It is capable of endless progress. If man attains unto his Divine destiny he will for ever have to say, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Truly, "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;" "a little less than Divine."

3. A position of kingly majesty and authority in this world.

(1) Here is regal majesty. "Thou crownedst him with glory and honor." The figure of coronation is intended to set forth the royal majesty which was conferred upon man, as of a kingly crown. Amongst creatures in this world he is royal in his faculties and capacities, and in his position.

(2) Here is regal authority. "Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet," etc. The psalmist in the original passage amplifies this "all things:" "All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field," etc. There is a reference to Genesis 1:26-28," Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea," etc. In this world man is God's vicegerent. He was made by his Creator to exercise dominion over all things and all creatures here.

II. THE FAILURE OF MAN TO REALIZE HIS TRUE DESTINY. "But now we see not yet all things put under him." It is unmistakably clear that at present man's sovereignty in the world is not complete. The scepter has slipped from his grasp. His dominion is contested. He has to contend against the creatures that were put in subjection unto him. The forces of nature sometimes scorn his authority and defy his power. Man has not now complete rule over his own being. His passions are sometimes insurgent against his principles. His senses are not always subordinate to his spirit. His appetites war against his aspirations. Sin has discrowned man. He has lost his purity, therefore has he lost his power. In his present condition he is far from realizing his glorious destiny.

III. THE DIVINE MEANS FOR ENABLING MAN TO REALIZE HIS DESTINY. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels," etc.

1. The Son of God has taken upon himself human nature. "We behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus." "Who being in the form of God, deemed not his equality with God a thing to grasp at, but emptied himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." As man was "made a little lower than the angels," so, in becoming man, our Lord also was "made a little lower than the angels."

2. In his human nature he endured death. "That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

(1) The death of Jesus was voluntary. In his case death was not inevitable. He was not forced to die. "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me," ere; "The Son of man came... to give his life a ransom for many.... Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all." The voluntariness was essential to the influence of his death as an atonement and as an inspiration.

(2) The death of Jesus was for the benefit of man. "Taste death for every man." In this place "for (ὐπέρ) does not mean "instead of," but "on behalf of. Alford well says, Where this ordinary meaning of ὐπέρ suffices, that of vicariousness must not be introduced. Sometimes, as e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:15, it is necessary. But here clearly not, the whole argument proceeding, not on the vicariousness of Christ's sacrifice, but on the benefits which we derive from his personal suffering for us in humanity; not on his substitution for us, but on his community with us. He died for every man." The benefits of his death, its inspiring and redeeming power, are available "for every man" - for the poorest, the obscurest, the wickedest, etc.

(3) The death of Jesus for man is to he ascribed to the kindness of God. "That he by the grace of God should taste," etc. Our salvation is to be ascribed to the unmerited kindness and love of God towards us. "The grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation unto all men." "When the kindness of God our Savior, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness," etc.; "God commendeth his own love toward us," etc.

3. On account of his endurance of death he has been raised to supreme glory and authority. "Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor." His exaltation to this might and majesty is in consequence of his voluntary humiliation and suffering and death. "He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him," etc. This was necessary to the perfection of his redemptive work. "On the triumphant issue of his sufferings their efficacy depends."

4. He has been exalted to this supreme position as the Head of humanity. Not the angelic but the human nature has God raised to the throne. "For not unto the angels did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak." This Christian economy, this new world of redemption by the grace of God in Christ Jesus, in all its developments, is placed under our Lord. In our humanity, and as our Head and Forerunner, he is enthroned the King in the new realm of Divine grace. Humanity is crowned in him. Through him alone can we realize our glorious destiny. We must:

(1) Believe in him. Our text intimates this. "We behold him... even Jesus." This "behold" does not express an indifferent, uninterested sight of him; but the earnest look of faith, the believing contemplation of him. By faith we become one with him.

(2) Imitate him. The sacrifice of the cross leads to the splendor of the crown. The true sovereignty is reached only by the way of service. "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him." - W.J.







Put in subjection the world to come.
Homilist.
I. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, WE SHOULD HOLD STRONG FAITH IN THE UNIVERSAL TRIUMPHS OF HIS SYSTEM.

1. He has plentitude of power for the accomplishment of His promises.

2. Plenty of time.

II. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, WE MAY INFER THAT OUR FUTURE WELL-BEING IS EVER DEPENDENT UPON PRESENT WELL-DOING. Otherwise —

1. The good would have no guarantee that present obedience would ensure future well-being.

2. And the evil might hope for approval hereafter.

III. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, HIS LOYAL SUBJECTS SHOULD BE RECONCILED TO THE EVENTS OF THE PRESENT, AND CALMLY AWAIT THOSE OF THE FUTURE.

IV. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, THE OBVIOUS INTEREST OF EVERY HUMAN BEING, IS TO CULTIVATE HIS FRIENDSHIP NOW.

1. Because, without this friendship, His control will run contrary to all the feelings, aspirations, and purposes of the soul.

2. Because. without this friendship, His control in the future will be exercised with positive reference to punishment.

(Homilist.)

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.

(G. Lawson.)

The phrase "to come" does not seem here merely to express the antithesis between "this world" and the new order of things introduced through Christ; with this there is at least included the idea that this new order is still future: compare city to come (Hebrews 13:14; Hebrews 6:5). Throughout the Epistle the great antithesis is "this world" and the "world to come." The former, visible, material, transient, to which belongs, as part of it, the first covenant; the other, real, heavenly, and eternal, access into which is through the new covenant. The first is subjected to angels, particularly as revealers of the law; but under their rule seems embraced the whole pre-Christian condition of things, embracing man in his earthly and mortal condition. Salvation is escape from this and possession of the heavenly world. In this world to come the angels have no more rule, all things without exception are put in subjection to man (ver 8). From the Old Testament point of view, the world to come is the world from the coming of the Messiah, for the Old Testament drew no lines in the Messianic salvation, the Messianic world was perfect from the moment of Messiah's coming. But in the view of this Christian writer, though powers from the world to come made themselves felt here (Hebrews 2:4; Hebrews 6:5), and though through hope (Hebrews 6:19) and faith believers might be said to be come to it (Hebrews 12:22), it was still no more than ready to be revealed. It belonged to a sphere transcending this earth, out of which it would be revealed and descend, and then all that was promised by God's holy prophets would be fulfilled, when the meek should inherit the earth (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5; Romans 4:13), and the dominion under the whole heaven should be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:27) — for then earth and heaven would be one. This " world to come" is identical with the " all things" of the Psalm (ver. 8), being " all things" in their final and eternal condition — whereof we speak means, which is the subject of my writing, rather than, which is the theme of hope and converse among us Christians.

(A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)

Strauss, in writing of the Emperor Julian's attempt to restore the old paganism, and to put away the new Christianity, says: " Every Julian, i.e.. every great and powerful man who would attempt to resuscitate a state of society which has died, will infallibly be vanquished by the Galilean, for the Galilean is nothing less than the genius of the future." To say that " the Galilean is nothing less than the genius of the future," is to say of Him what it would be ridiculous to say of any one else. Strauss felt that the spirit of the Galilean was so great add good, so rich, as to give to the future its noblest inspirations.

(T. Sherwood.)

As a man plants his estate, and plants for far-off years, and gives to each tree the soil and situation it requires — so has the Lord planted this earth, and certainly with reference to a time not yet fulfilled.

(Miss S. F. Smiley.)

The hope of a future golden age, when the whole world should be renewed and evil banished, is very plainly expressed in the old German legends of the gods. Baldr, the good, the holy and the wise, the favourite of the gods and of men, is slain through the crafty stratagem of the wicked Loki. The gods and all creatures lament: men and beasts, trees and rocks weep. Evil times afterwards come upon the earth; strife and bloodshed increase; and in the fight between the giants and the gods, Odin and the Ases (the good gods) are subdued, and the world destroyed by fire. But Vidar the victorious will restore the golden age; a new world is to arise, clothed with perpetual spring and plenty; there will no longer be any Loki, and Baldr will return from the dead: while gods and men, recovering from their overthrow, will dwell peacefully together. Kindred traditions are familiar also, in Mexico and the South Sea Islands. In short, everywhere in the heathen world, the prediction and the hope are indigenous, that when evil shall have reached its climax, these iron times of sin and misery will come to an end, and even the gods who have ruled during this age of the world will be overthrown. For this purpose a royal hero, of heavenly descent, will appear to crush the head of the demon and to bring back the primitive age of happiness and innocence.

(Prof. C. E. Luthardt.)

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