I am giving you the same block of Scripture as in the previous Gem in order that we might understand this passage clearer. The blue text are the words of the author of the letter, with emphasis added. The black text are the quotes from the Old Testament. The green text I will explain when the time is right.
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]
Now let’s work through the collection of our common questions that we have before us:
- 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?
The really observant ones among you will see I made a change to the text above after the input from one reader. The numbers in the text have been changed to black because a reader wrote, “The text numbers were not put in by the author of Hebrews.” Touché, indeed they were not.
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”?
I told you in Gem 2049 that the commentators spend a lot of time discussing how and when Jesus was made lower than the angels, and whether the writer’s point is related to the degree of lowering or the timing of the little while. Is it not clear to us that when Jesus ’emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men‘ (Gem 1929) that He would have been like man is now, lower than the angels. But for how long? Surely, it was for the duration of His incarnation and His time on earth as a man. It was not just for the six hours He was on the cross. He was made lower than the angels for the duration of his time as a man. Jesus’ little while was for 33 years; man’s little while is for 6 millenia and still counting.
Is there a difference in the degree of lowering as some commentators claim?
Of course, as I explained in the Gems around Gem 1929, the degree to which Jesus emptied Himself was huge, constituting a much greater lowering than mankind. But I am convinced the prime comparison in the writer’s mind was the timing, but most likely he intended both points of comparison. But we will have to wait for the answer on that one until when we can ask him directly.
Has the crowning of Jesus with glory and honour already happened or is it still to come?
This is one of my questions. I have read pages from some of the best commentaries in order to come to a conclusion on this matter. Was Jesus crowned with glory and honour after His suffering on the Cross (i.e. those six hours one Friday, to quote Max Lucado) and after His subsequent ascension? Or is the crowning of Jesus yet to be fulfilled at the consummation of the Age in heaven at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (Described in the words of Paul in Philippians 2:10 and covered in Gem 1938.) Once again, surely it is both. All of heaven, God the Father and the angels would have given Jesus the glory and the honour for what was accomplished on the cross on His ascension. But all of creation will glorify and honour Him when we all finally realise the importance of what He did for us at the moment described by Paul in Phil 2:10. I suspect both of these moments were likely in the mind of the author of Hebrews in this passage. The significance of what Jesus did for our salvation was huge. Therefore how can we neglect so great a salvation?
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?
I have combined one of my questions and a reader’s question together here. Jesus was crowned with glory and honour because of the extent He went to in order to secure the salvation of mankind. I wrote in Gem 1930 of the extent to which Jesus emptied Himself of Deity to take on human form, in the body of a man and humbled Himself to the point of dying the most horrific death ever conceived. Jesus was crowned with glory and honour for what He was willing to do to secure salvation for mankind. I initially wrote “. . . to secure salvation for us” but that doesn’t capture the full impact and so I changed it to “secure salvation for mankind”. The degree to which Jesus was willing to humble Himself (go back and read the related Gems – 1929 to 1931) to the point of dying a criminal’s death for our wrong doing and shame. He took our death, shame and judgement with Him on the cross.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Cor 5:21
What’s the significance of the final element in this sentence, “so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone”?
In the words of the writer, He tasted death for everyone. What an incredible statement and what a magnificent word picture contained in those four words – “taste death for everyone”. Pause at this point and think deeply about what the writer is conjuring up in our minds with those words. Think of the five senses and what happened to Jesus when He tasted death for everyone; for every human being who had ever lived, who was living at the time and who would live from that moment into the future. Why? Allow the writer of the letter to tell you.
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 . . .
The suffering Christ went through perfected both Him, the originator of their salvation and those who are sanctified. It is not that Jesus was made any more perfect in the form of God, but that He was made perfect, perfected, complete [teleioō] in human form. The first man to stand blameless before the father; the second Adam as Paul calls Him. The statement is huge and contains the deep significance of all that happened at the Cross. This word [teleioō] is a theme word of the writer but we haven’t got to the point of focusing on that yet.
The best commentaries contain a huge discussion on the relationship between the suffering of Christ and the glory and honour of Christ and the final glorification and honouring for what He has done at the Consummation of the Age (viz Phil 2:10). But it is possible to view the glorification and the perfecting on a continuum. Christ’s suffering led to perfecting the process of salvation. After all He stated “It is finished” [tetelestai] – meaning ‘the debt has been paid in full’. It is like Hebrews 2:10 comes together with Phil 2:10 in time. Christ’s suffering ushered in the means whereby the sin of all mankind could be atoned for. That began the process of the perfecting of all human kind to the point of attaining the righteousness of God, in Christ. Yes, after the suffering of Christ on the cross, He was given glory and honour. But who gave the glory and honour at that time? It wasn’t all of human kind who bestowed such glory and honour. No, it was Father God and all the angels. A little like with His advent, His First Coming, it was the angels who gathered and sang the Hallelujah Chorus in the sky. Most on earth were oblivious to what had happened.[Does this relate to the major complication I raised in Gem 2035? I believe it does – ‘And [a]when He again brings the firstborn into [b]the world‘. This is the moment the writer was referring to but I think the insertion of “again” is part of his quote pattern and not a reference to a repeated introduction of the Son to the world. Look at the writer’s use of “again” in this passage with how he introduces his quotes.]
The same thing happened with His death on the cross: when Christ had perfected the way of salvation. The perfector [Archegos] of our salvation ascended and sat down at the right hand of God. I think it was then He was given glory and honour by God and all the angels for what He had just completed. But the final consummation of that glory and honour will happen when the whole of creation bows the knee. In short I believe Hebrews 2:10 is linked to Philippians 2:10 and will become the crowning moment of the glory and honour that is due His name as a result of His willingness to taste death for everyone. The thought leaves me lost in awe and wonder.
But there is more to come. . . and I expect more reader’s questions to come forth. Perhaps not in time for the next Gem because many of my readers process the Gems in their own time by saving them and working their way through them in order, doing the things I suggest. May the resurrected Christ guide you in the process with the help of His Spirit. May you come to know Him and the power of His resurrection, being conformed by the fellowship of His sufferings and so to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Oh there it is again in Philippians 3:10. The motif runs from Hebrews 2:10 through Phil 3:10 to Phil 2:10.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.Hebrews 2:10
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!Philippians 3:10-11
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earthPhilippians 2:9-10