Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Little Lower than the Angels (Hebrews 2:5-11)

"You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor" (Hebrews 2:7).

Hebrews 2:6–8 quotes from Psalm 8:4–6. Psalm 8 begins by reflecting on the majesty of the universe. Then the psalmist notes that God has preeminent regard for humanity, which makes humanity even greater than the universe. The honor God has bestowed on man, His own image, is humbling, and leads to even greater praise to the Creator.

Psalm 8:5 says that God originally made man a little lower than elohim, and that man was crowned with glory and honor and given dominion over the creation. But what does elohim mean in this verse? One view says elohim here means angels; man was created a little lower than the angels, and given dominion over the earth. Another view says elohim means God, as it does almost everywhere else; that man, as the image of God, is a little lower than God, and is God’s vice-regent over the cosmos.

Hebrews 2:7 says that the Son was made a little lower than the angels. So now we have a further question: Is Hebrews 2:7 giving a precise translation of Psalm 8:5, in which case we can be sure that Psalm 8:5 means man was created lower than the angels, or is Hebrews 2:7 giving a paraphrase and making an application of Psalm 8:5? Scholars have debated these questions at length, and I don’t have space to answer them here.

This we know for certain: Adam took the dominion God had given him and turned it over to Satan by harkening to Satan’s word. Thus, Adam subjected himself to a (fallen) angel. This may be the reason God used (unfallen) angels to work with men until Christ came. In redeeming us, the Son was incarnated into the world under the curse of Adam’s sin. He made Himself lower than the angels, for a while, submitting to the punishments that we deserve (Hebrews 2:8–9).

Then, however, He was elevated on high, far above the angels (Hebrews 2:10). In union with Him, we are also above the angels, and they are ministering spirits sent to serve us (Hebrews 1:14). If Psalm 8:5 means we were originally created a little lower than the angels, we are no longer so. In Christ, we are crowned with glory and honor and given dominion over everything.

Today’s lesson should make us feel proud (in a good sense) to be sons and daughters of the King. It should change our outlook on life to realize the honors that God has given us in Christ. Consider ways you are exercising the dominion over the creation God has given you. Strive to glorify God in your dominion.