The Earth Was Subject To Mankind, but Adam Lost It
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. Hebrews 2:5
The words “put in subjection” are the translation of hupotasso, a military term used of arranging soldiers in order under the commanding general. The word speaks of an economy, a system of administration. The word “world” is the translation of oikoumene, literally, “the inhabited earth,” here the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah. This kingdom will not be administered by angels. An angel once was the regent of God on the first perfect earth, which angel with his associated angels administered the affairs of a pre-Adamic race. His throne was on earth. He was the anointed cherub, the guardian of the holiness of God. He struck at God’s throne, and forfeited the regency of this earth (Isaiah 14:12- 14; Ezekiel 28:1- 19). That angel was Lucifer. He is now Satan. The earth over which he had ruled, was rendered a desolation and a waste, and he, with his angelic cohorts, were banished. After the restoration of the earth, God placed man upon it, but man handed the scepter over to Satan, who now is the god of the world- system and whose throne is again on earth (Revelation 2:13).
But the Lord Jesus, through the blood of His Cross, has regained for man the dominion over this earth, and will in the Millennial Kingdom dethrone Satan, ruling as King of kings and Lord of lords. The saved of the human race will be associated with Him in this reign. Thus, the angels will not administer the Millennial earth, but man in the Person of the Son of Man and those of the human race saved by His precious blood.
Wuest Translation. For He has not given the administration of the inhabited earth to come concerning which we are speaking, to the angels.
Hebrews 2:6 – But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man, that you visit him?
The writer now quotes from Psalm 8. The words “one in a certain place” do not mean that the writer is ignorant of the identity of the writer of the psalm, but assume that the readers know who the author was. The word “testified” in the Greek text implies a solemn, earnest testimony. The question as to whether the Messiah or man is spoken of in verses 6 – 8, is settled easily and finally by the Greek word translated “visit.” The Psalmist is exclaiming as to the insignificance of man in the question, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? That is clear. But to whom do the words “son of man” refer, to the Messiah who is called the Son of man, or to mankind? The Greek word “visit” is episkeptomai. The word means “to look upon in order to help or to benefit, to look after, to have a care for.” This clearly indicates that the son of man spoken of here is the human race. God looks upon the human race in order to help or to benefit it. Thus, the picture in verses 6 – 8 is that of the human race in Adam.
Wuest Translation. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you do look upon him in order to come to his aid?
Hebrews 2:7 – You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands:
The words “What is man?” do not as the Hebrew text implies, mean, “how great is man?” but “what kind of” that is, “how small or insignificant is man?” The words “son of man,” are in the Hebrew text, “son of Adam.” The reference is to the earthly nature of man as formed out of the dust. The distinctive word for “man” here in the Greek text is not aner (a male individual) but anthropos (the generic term, mankind).
The word “little” is applied by some interpreters to the meaning and connection which the A. V., gives it, and by others, to the idea of time. The idea of time suits the whole line of thought better, would appear to a Greek reader as the more natural interpretation, and is certainly clearly seen in Hebrews 2:9, where the Messiah is for a little time, i. e., during His incarnation previous to His resurrection, made lower than the angels, to be raised in resurrection higher than the angels in His humanity glorified.
Adam was therefore made for a little time lower than the angels. In his position as the federal head of the race, in his unfallen state, God crowned him with glory and honor. This is a picture of Adam in the paradise of Eden, before he sinned. The distinctive word for “crowned” here is stephanoo. The diadema is the royal crown, the stephanos, the victor’s crown, and the crown given to a person because of his exalted rank or station. The context here indicates that it is used here in the latter sense. The position of Adam as the federal head of the human race, his control of the animal kingdom through love, all spoke of his exalted position. And he was given honor and glory in view of it. The words, “and didst set him over the works of thy hands,” are, according to Nestle, a rejected reading.
Wuest Translation. You made him for a little time lower than the angels; You did crown him with glory and honor.
Hebrews 2:8 – You have 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.
God put all things in subjection to Adam. He was the head of the human race, the lord of the earth. Even the animal kingdom was in subjection to him.
But now comes a sad note. The words, “But now we see not yet all things put under him,” point to the fact that Adam through his fall into sin, lost the dominion he had before enjoyed. He was no longer master of himself. He had become a fallen creature, with a totally depraved nature. He was a slave to sin. The animal kingdom was subservient to him not now through affection but fear. The ground, instead of yielding only good things, now produced also thorns, weeds, and other harmful things. Extremes of heat and cold, poisonous reptiles, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, all conspired to make his life a constant battle to survive. He had lost the dominion over all these things.
Wuest Translation. All things you did put 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.
The Creator Himself Suffers In Order To Restore Mankind
Hebrews 2:9 – 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.
But now, in the midst of this dark picture of man’s lost dominion, the writer calls our attention to a bright beam of light that pierces the surrounding gloom. It is Jesus. When the reader of the English translation comes to this name here, at once there flashes into his mind the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus of Paul, the Savior of lost sinners. And that is all good, so far as it goes. But to the Jewish reader of the Greek text of this letter, the reaction would be somewhat different. He would say to himself that the name Jesus in the Greek text is just the transliteration of the Hebrew name Jehoshua, the name of the God of Israel that points to His distinctive nature as the One who saves. The idea of Deity would come to his mind.
But as he reads on, he would see incarnation in the words, “who was for a little time made lower than the angels.” And that would lead him to the Person who in the Gospels was spoken of as Jesus of Nazareth. Up to this point, the writer has not mentioned the name Jesus to his Jewish readers. He was well aware of the fact that they were in a frame of mind in which they would be hard to handle. The controversy centered around the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to the Messiahship. At one time some of these Jewish recipients of this letter had acknowledged Him as such, with an intellectual assent to the fact, but not a heart acceptance of His Person and Work. Now, they were drifting away from their former position. The writer up to this point had spoken of the Son as superior to the prophets and the angels. Now, he suddenly says that the Son is the Jehoshua of the Old Testament and the Jesus of Nazareth of the New.
The vision of Jesus which the writer wishes to bring to his readers is that of the Son incarnate, glorified, crowned with glory and honor, seated at the right hand of God, a position of glory and honor which the saved of the human race will share with Him in His future Millennial glory and earth dominion. That is the glorious ray of light which the writer brings into the dark picture of man’s present estate.
But the path to glory and honor for the Son was through incarnation and the death of the Cross. He was therefore made for a little time lower than the angels, in order that He might taste death for the human race. The penalty of sin was paid by Him. He through the blood of His Cross regained for man that which Adam through his fall lost for man.
Man today may have salvation from sin, its penalty and power, by believing. The earth itself, and the animal kingdom will some day be relieved of the curse that was put upon it because of Adam’s sin, and in the eternity to come, the saved of the human race will live on the earth remade into a paradise, with the Son as their Sovereign and Lord. Thus, the angels will not rule over the Millennial earth, nor will the earth in its eternal state consequent upon its renovation, be under the administration of angels. The saved of the human race in their glorious Head, the Last Adam, will rule over the earth paradise of God. Thus, the Messiah is better than the angels, since He will bear the rule and the scepter, and they will be His servants.
The words “for the suffering of death” are in the Greek text associated with the words, “crowned with glory and honor.” It was through our Lord’s sufferings and because of them that He was crowned with glory and honor. Our Lord’s exaltation and preeminence over the angels was obtained through His humiliation. God manifested His grace toward man in that He set forth His Son as the propitiation that would pay for sin. As in Hebrews 2:7, the distinctive word for “crowned” is stephanoo, the act of placing a victor’s crown upon the head. Here the Last Adam gained the victory through the Blood of His Cross over the Serpent under whose attack the First Adam had gone down in defeat, dragging down with him, the entire human race of which he was the federal head. But the Last Adam, raising Himself out from under that awful thing called death, brings with Him from that sphere into which He vicariously descended, the saints of all ages, to some day share His glory and honor on His throne.
Wuest Translation. But Jesus, made for a little time lower than the angels with the design that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man, we see crowned as victor with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.
Hebrews 2:10 – 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.
Christ (Messiah) crucified (I Corinthians 1:23), was a stumbling block to the Jew. This may have been one of the factors which was influencing these Hebrews in their drift away from their new profession of Messiah, back to the Levitical sacrifices. The inspired writer seeks to justify his bold assertion of Hebrews 2:9. He senses the recoil which his readers would have from the thought of a suffering Messiah, and he now shows that Jesus ‘suffering and death were according to the divine fitness of things.
He says, “It became Him (namely, God the Father), 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.”
The words “it became” are the translation of prepo, “to be becoming, seemly, fit.” It was not a logical necessity (dei “ought”) as in Hebrews 2:1. It was not an obligation growing out of circumstances (opheilen) as in Hebrews 2:17 (behooved). It was an inner fitness in God’s dealings. The fact that God the Father decreed that it must be through the blood of Christ’s Cross that the Captain of our salvation would become the Savior of sinners, did not find its origin in a divine fiat, but in the very constitution of the nature of God. A holy God cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. A righteous God cannot but require that the demands of the violated law be satisfied. And a loving God cannot but provide the very payment of the penalty which His law demands. Thus, the writer shows the sweet reasonableness of the Cross. And because only God can satisfy the demands of God, so only the Messiah who is one of the Persons of the Godhead, could in the great plan of salvation, provide the sacrifice. God the Father provides the salvation, God the Son procures it, and God the Holy Spirit applies it.
The writer speaks of God as the God for whom (di hon) are all things. “For whom” is literally “on account of whom,” that is, for whose sake all things exist. God is the final reason for all things. “By whom” is literally “through whose agency” all things came into being. These two emphasize the idea which the writer has just given his readers, that of the sweet reasonableness and fitness of the fact that the Messiah was to be a suffering Messiah.
The clause, “in bringing many sons unto glory,” speaks not only of believers as sons but includes also the Son of God Himself, for in Hebrews 2:9 the writer declares that our Lord was crowned with glory and honor because of His sufferings. The words “to make perfect” are literally “to carry to the goal or consummation.” The word is teleioo. This does not imply any moral imperfection in the Lord Jesus, but speaks of the consummation of the human experience of suffering the death of the Cross, through which He must pass if He is to become the Captain of our salvation. The word “captain” is the translation of archegos, a word compounded of ago “to lead or go,” and arche, “first,” thus, “one who goes first,” a “leader.” The Son precedes the saved on the road to heaven. He says, “I am the road (hodos),… No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). And the writer to the Hebrews speaks of “the freshly slain and living road” (Hebrews 10:20) into the presence of God, the road sprinkled with the blood of Jesus. Our blessed Lord is, therefore, not only the leader on the road to God, but the road itself, and that by reason of His precious blood.
Wuest Translation. For it was fitting for Him, for whose sake all things exist, and through whose agency all things came into existence, when bringing many sons into glory, to make complete (as to His Savior- hood) the file-leader of their salvation through sufferings.
Man Is Restored Into the Family of God
Hebrews 2:11 – For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
In order to bring many sons to glory, our Lord becomes to them a brother. The words “He that sanctifies” refer to the Lord Jesus, the One who puts the believer on the path to glory, and then through the ministry of the Holy Spirit leads him on that road through the process of progressive sanctification and finally through glorification into the eternal conditions where all through the eternal ages he will grow more and more like the Lord Jesus and approach toward His likeness, but will not in the infinite years of eternity, ever become in an absolute sense just like Him, for finiteness can only approach toward infinity, never equal it. The words “they who are sanctified” refer, of course, to the saints.
The words “of one” are literally, “out of one.” We have the ablative of source here. That is, the Lord Jesus and the saints, are all out of one source. Because the Lord Jesus and the saints are all out of one source, the writer says that He is not ashamed to call the saints His brethren. The Greek word for brother (adelphos) means “from the same womb.” That one source is God the Father. The Son in His deity proceeds by eternal generation from God the Father. In His humanity, He finds His source in God. The saints find the source of their sonship in God the Father. Thus, Jesus calls us His brethren. We, the Lord Jesus and the saints, have the same God for our Father. What condescension on the part of our glorious Lord! Notwithstanding His superior and exalted dignity, He is not ashamed to call us His brethren.
Wuest Translation. For both He who sanctifies, and those who are sanctified, are all out of one source, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Editor’s Addition: The goal of what we call salvation, Kingdom of God, redemption, etc., is to create a new holy class of being that is not fully God Himself but so closely connected to Him and like Him that we, and Him, will be considered family – sons of God the Father and brothers and sisters with Jesus. The Holy Spirit being the one Who ties us all together.
Right now, as I write this, Jesus is the only person in Heaven with an actual physical body. It will stay that way until He returns for His Church and we all meet Him bodily in the air, as we all ascend to Heaven. Then for all eternity the only individuals with physical bodies will be Jesus and the Redeemed – us. Paul is very clear about this in I Corinthians 15:20 – 58. Jesus is not ashamed to call us family. What a Gift. What an honor. And what a relief.