B. Gospel coronation (2:5-9):
It may have been that the readers did not fully understand the atonement of the cross, nor the present gospel reign of King Jesus. So the writer takes their minds back to their marginalization of King Jesus through their exaltation of angels. He reminded the readers that the Father “did not subject the world to come to angels.”
Whenever it is revealed in Scripture that something that is created exists is subjected to someone above creation, then that One to whom all things are subjected is either the Father or Son. Before the gospel coronation of the Son, God the Father was King over all things (See Ps 10:16; 22:27,28; 24:10; 44:4; Is 33:22). But in prophecy during the days of Israel, David spoke of a new King who was coming, and a transition in kingship over all things (Ps 8:6-8).
The “Son of Man” was indeed through incarnation made “a little lower than the angels.” For this reason we believe that no angel was ever incarnate into the flesh of man. Only the Son of Man made this incarnational journey into the flesh of man (Ph 2:5-8). However, though He was lowered to the flesh of man from the spirit in which He, as God, was in eternity, the Father “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ep 1:20). In the coronation, the Son was “crowned with glory and honor.” And not only that, the Father “appointed Him over the works” of creation.
In the good news event of the resurrection is the fact that the Son of God had to have been in the flesh of man in order to be raised from the dead. In the coronation, He had to be Deity, for only God can reign over all created things. All things could be subjected only to Him who was the Creator, and thus He was above all that which was created (Cl 1:16).
We must not assume, however, that the incarnate Son reversed His incarnation at the time of His coronation. There is no reference in the New Testament that states that Paul’s revelation of the incarnation of the Son of God into the flesh of man that is revealed in Philippians 2:6,7 was ever reversed when the Son ascended on high (See Jn 1:1,2,14). All we know is that one is an antichrist if he or she does not confess that the Son of God is in the future coming in the flesh. By John’s use of the present tense in the following statement that was written at least sixty years after the coronation of King Jesus, we can only make assumptions as to the present existence of the Son of God:
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn 7).
We know that the Son of God will come in bodily form as He ascended (At 1:11). And John reminded us, “It has not yet been revealed what we will be. But we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2). If we will be like Him when He comes, then He evidently will return with flesh and bones as He was at the ascension, or as what Paul reveals we will be when our mortal body puts on immortality in the heavenly body (See 1 Co 15:35-57). However, we must not forget that Paul said that we do not now know Christ according to the flesh (2 Co 5:16). Christ does not have to be in the flesh and bones as He was after the resurrection and at the time of His ascension (Lk 24:39). At His final coming we will see Him as He will be as our resurrected body. These are things that do not confuse our understanding of what He now is as King and Priest. They are things beyond our understanding.
The writer referred his Jewish audience to Psalm 8:6-8. Some would assert that David was speaking in this context of man only. David was certainly referring to man in the original context in which the Holy Spirit first had the statement inscribed by the prophet David. However, the original inscription was a metaphorical prophecy in reference to the Son of God. There was an earthly meaning in reference to man at the time David wrote, but a heavenly fulfillment in reference to the ascended Christ at the time the Hebrew writer wrote. This prophecy was not understood in this manner until the Holy Spirit referred the readers back to His library of Old Testament books and quoted the statement in reference to the coronation of the Son of God.
The preceding understanding is revealed in the fact that “subjection” is in the present tense in reference to something that was happening at the time the Hebrew writer inscribed these words. We note that at this time King Jesus reigns over all things. “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” Though the created world was subjected to man’s desires and use from the beginning, the living metaphor is now applied to the Son of Man over all things (See Gn 1:26).
The subjection of all things to the kingdom reign of the Son was complete. The Father “left nothing that is not put under Him.” This is more than the Son being the King of a church of disciples. His kingdom reign extends far beyond the church, for His kingdom extends to all that has been created, both visible and invisible (Cl 1:16; 1 Pt 3:22). The readers limited understanding of the kingdom reign of the Son of God may have been one of the causes of their apostasy to make earthly kings, especially the Roman Empire, more important in their theology than King Jesus.
Here is a crucial point to remember in reference to the universal kingdom reign of King Jesus: “But now we do not yet see all things put under Him.” We can see the visible church of disciples who are the submitted subjects of the kingdom. However, this visible church of submitted subjects does not constitute the entirety of the kingdom of the Son of Man. His kingdom reign extends far beyond the church, though we in the flesh, with limited perception, do not see His reign over all things including angels.
We live in a world of rebellion. We live in a world of conflict between good and evil. We do not conclude that this world is out of control, for the writer reassured us previously that everything is under control, for King Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power (Hb 1:3). However, we must not make the erroneous conclusion that social chaos in this world infers that things are out of control of the One who ascended on high.
Jesus is King and head of all the kings of this world. He is Lord of all the lords of this world (1 Tm 6:15). To assume anything contrary to the totality of His kingship is to minimize His gospel reign. To assume that His kingdom is composed only of obedient subjects (the church) is an attack on the present gospel reign of Jesus.
In this context, the limitation of the kingdom reign of King Jesus was one of the points of theology that laid the foundation for the apostasy of those to whom the document of Hebrews was directed. As the writer will reveal later in this document, in their marginalization of the King, they also marginalized the ministry of His present priesthood. And surely, this is what the readers were doing in their comparison of Jesus to angels.
We do not understand why some would believe that angels, as our ministering spirits, would work in the affairs of man for the sake of the saints, while at the same time, Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords supposedly cannot. But we do understand. From the corrections that the Hebrew writer made, we conclude that any limitations that we place on King Jesus as He now functions are also limitations of what He now does as our high priest and mediator between God and man (1 Tm 2:5).
So the Hebrew writer gives us a reality shock. We do “see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels.” But there was a purpose for His “lowering.” The purpose was to bring “many sons to glory.” In order to do this, the atonement of the cross was necessary. His crowning with glory and honor was necessary. All this was necessary in order that “by the grace of God” He “might taste death for everyone.”
[Next in series: February 19]