Hebrews 2:9 – Is Jesus Still a Little Lower than the Angels?
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, might taste death for everyone. — New King James Version.
Sometimes Hebrews 2:9 is quoted as proof that Jesus is still a man. It is claimed that Paul names Jesus Christ as the man under whose feet the age to come shall be. So, according to this reasoning, when this new age comes, Jesus will still be a man.
Additionally, Hebrews 2:8 is often quoted in reference to Jesus’ exaltation, and is often made to appear to be in the same as what is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:22, without noting Psalm 8.
What is Hebrews 2:4-8 actually speaking of? That Jesus will forever be a man, crowned with a glory a little lower than the angels? The context, as well as the rest of the scriptures, show otherwise.
Hebrews 2:4-8 is not speaking of Jesus, but of what was originally given to man, and thus, what man will be restored to. It is quoting Psalm 8:4,5. What does the statement say were the “all things” made in subjection to man? Let us look at Psalm 8 and the answer given:
Psalm 8:4 What is man, that you think of him? The son of man, that you care for him?
Psalm 8:5 For you have made him a little lower than God, And crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 8:6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet:
Psalm 8:7 All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field,
Psalm 8:8 The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
This corresponds with:
Genesis 1:26 – God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
If the writer of Hebrews was saying that Psalm 8:5-6 applies to Jesus, then Jesus is to forever have a glory a little lower than the angels, and the “all things” that are subjected to Jesus, and of which nothing was not made subject to them, would be: “All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas.” In short, all living creation upon the earth except man himself. — Psalm 8:7,8.
However, elsewhere, the scriptures speaks of all things both in heaven and earth being made subject to Jesus, not just all things that are being spoken of in Psalm 8. — Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22.
Of course, in reality, Hebrews 2:6-8 is not speaking of Jesus. In context the writer speaks of the final dominion of the earth regarding the age to come, which is not to be made subject to angels. (Hebrews 2:5) The writer then tells that Man was originally crowned with glory (he was not short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23), and given a dominion, so that all things were originally made subject to man, and since all things (literally, “the all”; the word “things” is added by translators] were made subject to man, there was not one that was not made subject to him, but now (due to mankind’s fall from the glory of God) we do not yet see all things made subject to man.
Thus, it is in verse nine that the writer begins to speak of Jesus as a man. But, although we do not see all things subject to man, we do see Jesus. The writer applies the verse to Jesus, showing that Jesus was made flesh, as John 1:14 tells us, crowned with a glory a little lower than the angels. This is not speaking of Jesus’ exaltation when he was made higher than the angels. (Hebrews 1:4; Philippians 2:9) By the reference to his having been made “a little lower than the angels”, we know that it refers to Jesus as a man, and of his death as a man. He was the exact equivalent of Adam (as described in Psalm 8:5,6) before Adam sinned. — Romans 5:14-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.
Jesus, having a body prepared by God (Hebrews 10:5), was like Adam was before Adam became corrupted through sin. Jesus was crowned with glory as a man, a little lower than the angels, but did not, as did Adam, fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), not once in his entire life, and thus he retained that crown of glory untarnished, by which he had something to offer to purchase mankind, so that, in the age to come, the dominion originally given to man will be restored. Thus by his death, he gave up that crown of glory as a human for all eternity, that he should taste death for every man. He does not now, nor will he ever again, have that human crown of glory. He is no longer in the “days of his flesh.” — Hebrews 5:7.
One has responded that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, because he had to taste death, but that he became greater than the angels because of his sacrifice – that being the sacrifice of his own will, even unto death.
However, what did Jesus sacrifice?
He sacrificed his humanity — including his body of flesh — as an offsetting price, which sacrifice he formally presented as priest after his ascension. – – Hebrews 8:4; 9:24-26; 10:10.
Jesus sacrificed his blood.
Matthew 26:28 – for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24 – He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.
Luke 22:20 – He took the cup in like manner after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, that which is poured out for you.
Acts 20:28 – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. – Revised Standard Version.
Romans 5:9 – Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.
Ephesians 1:7 – in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
However, what does blood represent? Jesus’ human soul, which is included in his sacrifice.
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life [Hebrew, nephesh – soul] of the flesh is in the blood.
Deuteronomy 12:23 – The blood is the life [Hebrew, nephesh – soul].
The human soul consists of the body made from the dust of the ground and the neshamah, activated by spirit of life as received from God. –
– Genesis 2:7.
Jesus did sacrifice his human body:
Hebrews 10:10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:11 Every priest indeed stands day by day ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,
Hebrews 10:12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Hebrews 10:13 henceforth expecting until his enemies to be made the footstool of his feet.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified.
Luke 22:19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is *my body which is given [as an offering in sacrifice to God – Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:14] for you*. Do this in memory of me.”
Thus, Jesus sacrificed his flesh:
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.
Jesus sacrificed his human soul:
Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life [soul] as a ransom [price to offset] for many.
Isaiah 53:12 He *poured out his soul* to death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
He died; he was totally dead, ceased to be sentient, else there has been no ransom. His human body, his human soul, his human flesh, his human blood, was given in sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:10; Luke 22:19) Jesus’ soul — his sentiency — was given in sacrifice (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and went into into the oblivious condition of sheol, where there is no work, device, knowledge or wisdom, and wherein one cannot give thanks to, or praise to, Yahweh. (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18) Jesus’ human blood — which represents his human soul/being (Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23) — was given in sacrifice. (Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:14) Thus his soul — his being — as raised, made alive, from the oblivious condition of sheol was no longer human, but spirit, with a spiritual body and glory, not with the earthly, fleshly, physical body and glory. As a human sentiency, Jesus remains oblivious forever, since that would have been the result of the condemnation upon Adam, had Jesus not offered his human soul as the offsetting price. If, however, Jesus now has human sentiency, then the offsetting price was not completed.
One has stated that because Jesus had not sinned, it was not lawful that he should be held by death, evidently implying that Jesus as a human being could not be held by death, and thus Jesus is still a human being to this day. The scripture that is evidently being referred to is:
God raised up, having freed him from the agony of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it. — Acts 2:24.
God raised up Jesus from death, but this does not say that he was raised up with a fleshly body. He was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” — 1 Peter 3:18.
The idea that Jesus had to be raised up as a human has to be read into the scripture.
One has stated that Jesus received back what was taken from him, and was crowned with glory.
If Jesus received back the crown of glory of a human being (the glory being described in Hebrews 2:9), then that glory is earthly, not heavenly, and fleshly, not spiritual, and is a little lower than the angels, not a glory higher than the angels. Jesus does not have two glories at once, one glory a little lower than the angels, and another glory higher than the angels.
We should also note that in answer to the question of “What is man?”, Psalm 8:6 describes “man” as being a little lower than the angels. So if Jesus is still a man, by that definition, Jesus is still a little lower than the angels. The crown of glory spoken of in Hebrews 2:9 is a crown of glory a little lower than the angels. It is an earthly glory, not a heavenly glory. Are we to think that Jesus received back that glory a little lower than the angels? Actually, Jesus sacrificed that crown of glory, the glory of man, in providing the redemptive price for man.
The objection has been made that nowhere do these scriptures require him to not be a man any more – and it is claimed that the fact that Paul is attempting to prove that the age to come is not in subjection to angels states to an even further extent that Jesus must still be a man.
The truth is nowhere do the scriptures give any idea that once Jesus had offered up his humanity that he could take back that sacrifice. Nothing in the Old Testament types provide for such sacrifices, once given, to be returned. Thus, the default reasoning would be that he sacrificed his humanity once for all time, then that he would not take back that sacrifice.
Further, once we understand the principle of the ransom, one can understand that he had to give up that humanity forever in sacrifice in order to meet the demands of justice. The condemnation upon Adam was death, and that would have eternal death had it not been for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. To pay that the price of sin, Jesus’ humanity must remain dead for eternity, else the redemptive price would not be applicable.
The purpose of Jesus’ becoming flesh was to sacrifice that flesh. There is no purpose for him to become flesh again, and make null the sacrifice.
The objection is presented that the writer of Hebrews is saying that Jesus is the one to whom all things will be subjected, and that this is the only logical conclusion.
Actually, this is not stated at all; it has to be added to and read into what the writer of Hebrews said. The earlier post demonstrates the only true conclusion that one can come to, and still take into consideration all of the scriptures, the context, etc. To think that the writer is claiming that Jesus is the one the writer is speaking of to whom all things will be subjected simply ignores Psalm 8:6-8, where we find what “the all” (Greek, ta panta, Hebrew, Kol) is that is being spoken of.
In harmony with the rest of the Bible, the writer of Hebrews is stating that, although we do not yet see man restored so as to have all things in subjection, we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory, so that he could taste death for every man. Only by this means could man’s dominion be restored.
Is it really logical that Jesus will forever be crowned with the glory a little lower than the angels, so that “All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas” will become subject to Jesus?
No, that unmarred crown of human glory that was originally seen in Adam, can now be seen in the record of Jesus’ human life. Jesus, while in the world of mankind as a human being was the “light of the world”, for in him was life. (John 1:4; 9:5) It was so because God specially prepared Jesus’ body in the womb of Mary, separate from the fallen human race in Adam. (Hebrews 10:5) That human body was prepared for the purpose of being offered once for all time for sin. (Hebrews 7:25; 10:10) Jesus has no need for a human body now. It would serve no purpose at all; it would take him down from the glory of the heavenly, the spiritual, to the glory of the earthly, physical, fleshly. “The glory of the celestial [heavenly] differs from that of the terrestrial [earthly].” “As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” There is no mixing of the two kinds of glories. — 1 Corinthians 15:40-48.
Some have claimed that Hebrews 2:7-9 quotes the Septuagint (generally referred to as the LXX) in which it is stated “a little lower than the angels”, and that ELOHIM in Psalm 8:5 should be understood to mean “God”, not angels, as is found in the King James Version and some other translations. The argument appears to be that Hebrews 2:7,9 is in error; in reality, we have no reason to assume that the author of Hebrews was quoting the Septuagint, or that what is stated there is in error. The author indicates that he is not making a direct quotation from either the Hebrew or Greek manuscripts, but is stating such from memory, for he says: “one has somewhere testified.” It is reasonable to assume that if he had been copying directly from any version of the Bible, he would not have simply said “one” or “somewhere” but would have designated who said this.
As to the LXX, we have no certainty that the LXX even existed in the first century, or that if it did, we have no certainty that it contained the Greek word for “angels” in Psalm 8:5. The evidence suggests that Christian editors of what is called the LXX may have edited the Greek text to match what is recorded in the New Testament; if this is so, then the LXX is quoting the author of Hebrews 2:7,9, rather than the other way around.
Thus seen, the author of Hebrews was simply giving who is being referred to in Psalm 8:5 by means of the word ELOHIM, that is, the angels.
Nevertheless, even if the author was quoting the LXX, does this mean that such a quote is error? Did God inspire the author to write such an error? No, we have no reason to think that God inspired the author of Hebrews to proclaim such an error.
Other references (We do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given):
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