A Little Lower Teachings Category
by Steve Gregg
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Hebrews 2:5-9
5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“ What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 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 do not yet see all things put under him. 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, might taste death for everyone.

In scripture there are at least 3 uses of this text. The original in Ps. 8; and then in Hebrew 2 and also in 1 Cor. 15

Paul uses the Psalm in a slightly different way than what is seemingly applied in the other two.

In my opinion, there is no contradiction in the way Hebrews and 1 Corinthians apply Psalm 8:6. In fact, the way these passages apply that verse underscores a key doctrine about Christ—one that, I have long thought, partially explains His own use of the term "Son of Man" in referring to Himself.

The whole purpose of the incarnation, I believe, is tied in with this. God created mankind, and gave man dominion over the rest of creation. Mankind, therefore, holds title to the planet, as a gift received from the Creator (Psalm 115:16).

The first man, as we know, mismanaged his trust, and became the pawn of Satan. Some theologians say that the title to the earth then passed to Satan, though I do not see this clearly taught in scripture. I believe that man still holds title to the earth, but the problem is that man is himself enslaved to powers superior to himself, which gives Satan de facto rule of the planet—but not rightful ownership.

Because man rightfully owns the planet (under God, that is—Psalm 24:1), it is the duty of man to govern the planet according to God's purposes. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a man—a real member of the human race—who is not entangled in the bondage that prevents mankind in general from ruling in righteousness.

Obviously, the only man who is in the position to break the bondage and liberate the planet is the God-man, Jesus Christ. But in order for Him to do so, He must of necessity be a bona fide member of the human race. Thus, it is not enough for the Savior to be God, He must also be a true son of Adam—or, as the Old Testament language often speaks of human beings—a "son of man."

In Paslm 8, David celebrates the distinct honor conferred upon puny man, in that God has made mankind to be the lords of the lesser creation. There is no emphasis in the Psalm upon the disaster of the fall, or how that has complicated man's functioning as a ruler.

The two New Testament passages that cite the Psalm each makes its own point from the Psalm. Both take it for granted that what is said of mankind must apply to Christ, since He is not only a part of the human race, but also, in His unique status as Lord and Christ, is the "representative Man" of the whole race (as Adam was). It is in this sense that 1 Corinthians 15:45 calls Him "the last Adam," and verse 47 speaks of Him as "the second man."

Thus, Christ is a true man (as Adam was), but is not an "ordinary" man, in that He (like Adam) stands in a particular relationship with the human race, as a God-appointed representative of all mankind. What Adam lost, he lost for us all. What Christ, the Son of Man, accomplishes, He accomplishes for us all. By "for us all," I do not mean merely "for our benefit," but rather "in our place." What Christ, the representative Man, brought about for Himself, He brought about for mankind.

Hebrews 2:5-9 tells us, first, what is true of man, in general. Man (in Adam) was made "a little lower than the angels" (in the Hebrew text of the Psalm, it actually says, "a little lower than God [elohim]"), but is crowned with glory and honor. The author indicates that what is true for man, in general, was also true of the particular man, Jesus. In what sense was He made "for a little while" lower than the angels? It was in that He was mortal ("for the suffering of death"—Heb.2:9), whereas the angels are not mortal. But the exaltation of man is seen, not only in the original mandate of rulership given to Adam, but in the actual exaltation of Christ (and redeemed humanity "in Him") to the right hand of God (Phil.2:9/ Eph.1:20-23; 2:6).

What Hebrews 2:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 then add to the picture is the observable fact that this rulership over creation, which is now regained by the human race in the person of the Representative, has not been fully enforced at the present stage in the outworking of God's plan. The enthronement has taken place, and all people, including kings and princes are obliged to "kiss the Son," or face terrible consequences (Psalm 2:6-12). However, God has chosen to give the rebels opportunity to surrender to Him willingly, rather than under force.

"We do not yet see all things under Him." True, both of Christ and of the human race as a whole. There are forces of nature that do not yet submit to man's mastery, because all men have not yet submitted to Christ's mastery. When He has put all enemies under His feet (either as a result of conversion or force at His second coming), then all men will serve God, and, in Christ, will have undisputed reign over a creation that has itself returned to its unfallen state of submission to man (Romans 8:21-23).