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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 2 - Verse 9
Verse 9. But we see Jesus. "We do not see that man elsewhere has the extended dominion of which the Psalmist speaks. But we see the fulfillment of it in Jesus, who was crowned with glory and honour, and who has received a dominion that is superior to that of the angels." The point of this is, not that he suffered, and not that he tasted death for every man; but that on account of this, or as a reward for thus suffering, he was crowned with glory and honour, and that he thus fulfilled all that David (Ps 8) had said of the dignity and honour of man. The object of the apostle is to show that he was exalted, and in order to this he shows why it was—. to wit, because he had suffered death to redeem man. Comp. Php 2:8,9.
Who was made a little lower than the angels. That is, as a man, or when on earth. His assumed rank was inferior to that of the angels. He took upon himself, not the nature of angels, Heb 2:16, but the nature of man. The apostle is probably here answering some implied objections to the rank which it was claimed that the Lord Jesus had, or which might be urged to the views which he was defending. Those objections were mainly two: first, that Jesus was a man; and, secondly, that he suffered and died. If that was the fact, it was natural to ask how he could be superior to the angels? How could he have had the rank which was claimed for him? This he answers by showing, first, that his condition as a man was voluntarily assumed—" he was made lower than the angels;" and, secondly, by showing that, as a consequence of his sufferings and death, he was immediately crowned with glory and honour. This state of humiliation became him in the great work which he had undertaken, and he was immediately exalted to universal dominion—and, as Mediator, was raised to a rank far above the angels.
For the suffering of death. Marg. By. The meaning of the preposition here rendered "for," (dia, here governing the accusative,) is, "on account of; "that is, Jesus, on account of the sufferings of death, or in virtue of that, was crowned with glory and honour. His crowning was the result of his condescension and sufferings. See Barnes "Php 2:8,9".
It does not here mean as our translation would seem to imply, that he was made a little lower than the angels in order to suffer death, but that as a reward for having suffered death be was raised up to the right hand of God.
Crowned with glory and honour. That is, at the right hand of God. He was raised up to heaven, Ac 2:33; Mr 16:19. The meaning is, that he was crowned with the highest honour on account of his sufferings. Comp. Php 2:8,9; Heb 12:2; 5:7-9; Eph 1:20-23.
That he. Or rather, "since he by the grace of God tasted death for every man." The sense is, that after he had thus tasted death, and as a consequence of it, he was thus exalted. The word here rendered "that" opwv —means usually and properly, that, so that, in order that, to the end that, etc. But it may also mean, when, after that, after. See Barnes "Ac 3:19".
This is the interpretation which is given by Prof. Stuart, (in loc,) and this interpretation seems to be demanded by the connexion. The general interpretation of the passage has been different. According to that, the sense is, "We see Jesus, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, so as that, by the grace of God, he might taste of death for every man." See Robinson's Lex. on the word opwv, and Doddridge on the place. But it is natural to ask when Jesus was thus crowned with glory and honour? It was not before the crucifixion —for he was then poor and despised. The connexion seems to require us to understand this of the glory to which he was exalted in heaven, and this was after his death, and could not be in order that he might taste of death. I am disposed, therefore, to regard this as teaching that the Lord Jesus was exalted to heaven in virtue of the atonement which he had made—and this accords with Php 2:8,9; Heb 12:2.
It accords both with the fact in the case, and with the design of the apostle in the argument before us.
By the grace of God. By the favour of God, or by his benevolent purpose towards men. It was not by any claim which man had, but was by his special favour.
Should taste death. Should die; or, should experience death. See Mt 16:28. Death seems to be represented as something bitter and unpalatable—something unpleasant—as an object may be to the taste. Or the language may be taken from a cup—since to experience calamity and sorrow is often represented as drinking a cup of woes, Ps 11:6; 73:10; 75:8; Isa 51:17; Mt 20:22; 26:39.
For every man. For all uper pantov— for each and all —whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free, high or low, elect or non-elect. How could words affirm more clearly, that the atonement made by the Lord Jesus was unlimited in its nature and design? How can we express that idea in more clear or intelligible language? That this refers to the atonement is evident—for it says that he "tasted death" for them. The friends of the doctrine of general atonement do not desire any other than Scripture language in which to express their belief. It expresses it exactly— without any need of modification or explanation. The advocates of the doctrine of limited atonement cannot thus use Scripture language to express their belief. They cannot incorporate it with their creeds, that the Lord Jesus "tasted death for EVERY MAN." They are compelled to modify it, to limit it, to explain it, in order to prevent error and misconception. But that system cannot be true which requires men to shape and modify the plain language of the Bible, in order to keep men from error. See Barnes "2 Co 5:14, where this point is considered at length. Learn hence, (Heb 2:6-9,) from the incarnation of the Son of God, and his exaltation to heaven, what an honour has been conferred on human nature. When we look on the weakness and sinfulness of our race, we may well ask, What is man, that God should honour him or regard him? He is the creature of a day. He is feeble and dying. He is lost and degraded. Compared with the universe at large, he is a speck, an atom. He has done nothing to deserve the Divine favour or notice; and when we look at the race at large, we can do it only with sentiments of the deepest humiliation and mortification. But when we look at human nature in the person of the Lord Jesus, we see it honoured there to a degree that is commensurate with all our desires, and that fills us with wonder. We feel that it is an honour to human nature; that it has done much to elevate man—when we look on such a man as Howard or Washington. But how much more has that nature been honoured in the person of the Lord Jesus!
(1.) What an honour to us it was, that he should take our nature into intimate union with himself—passing by the angelic hosts, and becoming a man!
(2.) What an honour it was, that human nature there was so pure and holy; that man—everywhere else so degraded and vile—could be seen to be noble, and pure, and god-like!
(3.) What an honour it was, that the Divinity should speak to men in connexion with human nature, and perform such wonderful works; that the pure precepts of religion should come forth from human lips—the great doctrines of eternal life be uttered by a man; and that from human hands should go forth power to heal the sick, and to raise the dead!
(4.) What an honour to man it was, that the atonement for sin should be made in his own nature, and that the universe should be attracted to that scene where one in our form, and with flesh and blood like our own, should perform that great work.
(5) What an honour it is to man, that his own nature is exalted far above all heavens! That one in our form sits on the throne of the universe! That adoring angels fall prostrate before him! That to him is entrusted all power in heaven and on earth!
(6.) What an honour to man, that one in his nature should be appointed to judge the worlds! That one in our own form, and with a nature like ours, shall sit on the throne of judgment, and pronounce the final doom on angels and men! That assembled millions shall be constrained to bow before him, and receive their eternal doom from his hands! That prince and potentate, the illustrious dead of all past times, and the mighty men who are yet to live, shall all appear before him, and all receive from him there the sentence of their final destiny! I see, therefore, the most honour done to my nature as a man— not in the deeds of proud conquerors; not in the lives of sages and philanthropists; not in those who have carried their investigations farthest into the obscurities of matter and of mind; not in the splendid orators, poets, and historians of other times, or that; now live—much as I may admire them, or feel it an honour to belong to a race which has produced such illustrious men—but in the fact, that the Son of God has chosen a Body like my own in which to dwell; in the expressible loveliness evinced in his pure morals, his benevolence, his blameless life; in the great deeds that he performed on earth; in the fact, that it was this form that was chosen in which to make atonement for sin; in the honours that now cluster around him in heaven, and the glories that shall attend him when he shall come to judge the world.
"Princes to his imperial name
Bend their bright sceptres down;
Dominions, thrones, and powers rejoice
To see him wear the crown.
"Archangels sound his lofty praise
Through every heavenly street;
And lay their highest honours down,
Submissive at his feet.
"Those Soft, those blessed feet of his,
That once rude iron tore,
High on a throne of light they stand,
And all the saints adore.
"His head, the dear, majestic head,
That cruel thorns did wound;
See—what immortal glories shine,
And circle it around !
"This is the Man, the exalted Man,
Whom we, unseen, adore;
But when our eyes behold his face,
Our hearts shall love him more."
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