Son Made Lower than Angels?
By Dr. Charles A. Ratz
Text: Hebrews 2:9-3:1
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.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom
are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain
of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies
and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason
He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare
Your name to My brethren;In the midst of the assembly I will sing
praise to You.” And again: “I will put My trust in Him.”And again:
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” Inasmuch then
as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise
shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who
had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who
through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid
to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made
like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High
Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the
sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted,
He is able to aid those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brethren,
partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High
Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
have considered the eighth Psalm as introduced in this epistle.
There we saw 'man' who lost his dominion over the earth and
the 'Son of Man' who is coming back to the habitable world to
reign. The promises and pledges in the Psalm have not been realized.
Nevetheless these prophecies will be fulfilled. Today the earth
is without its Lord. This present world is still under the rule
of Satan, the rebel and usurper. The Son of Man who is at the
right hand of God will one day return. The heavens retain Him
now that He may be returned later. (Acts 3:21)
In chapter one we saw the Superiority of the Son over
the angels. In chapter two we see the Humiliation of
the Son below the angels. In chapter one we saw Him as the Son
of God. In chapter two we see Him as the Son of Man.
It is not the reigning Messiah who is here depicted.
"But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we
see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for
the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that
He by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
What condescension! He, who was above the angels is made for
a little time lower than the angels. Paul says, "Who,
being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal
with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him
the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."
Surely this is becoming lower than angels, when he took upon
Himslef the likeness of sinful flesh.
The object of His incarnation was His death. His condescension
was for atonement through His death. In the passage before us,
the word 'death' occurs five times:
for the suffering of death(2:9)
'should taste death' (2:9)
'that through death' (2:14,
'the power of death' (2:14)
and the 'fear of death' ((2:15)
Death is the penalty of sin. Man, by sin, came under the sentence
of death. The Son, by His condescension, identifies Himself
with a fallen race, subjects Himself to a sinner's baptism,
submits to the Father's will, becomes our substitute, and likewise
comes under the sentence of death. Deity cannot die; man cannot
atone. The only begotten Son assumes humanity and becomes the
God-man, to die and to atone for sin. Heavenly beings cannot
die. Man dies but has not the power to rise again. The Son took
on humanity that He might die. He did die.
He arose triumphant. Thank God for redemption in Christ made
possible by such a divine provision. Redemption includes in
its scope, death, burial, and resurrection. Who ever heard of
an angel dying? Who ever witnessed the burial of an angel? Who
ever heard of an angel being raised from the dead? He "was
made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death."
"He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on
Him the seed of Abraham (2:16) "For as much as the
children are partakers of flesh and blood, He likewise took
part of the same." (2:14) He, who created all things, who
was the object of angels' praise, laid aside His glorious, outshining
and suffered His glory to be eclipsed in dust and ashes. He
clothed Himself with humanity's garb. When He came He was not
recognized. They took Him for the carpenter's son. Nevertheless,
He was the Lord of Glory. By the incarnation He became humanity's
son 'for the suffering of death.' By His death the penalty of
sin has been paid. Man could not atone for sin. Man has no life
to offer. Man has forfeited his life. The Son of God, who knew
no sin, in whom is no sin, alone could pay the penalty for man's
sin. He gave His life a ransom for many.
Not only was Jesus 'made a little lower than angels for the
suffering of death' but also 'crowned with glory and honour.'
When was He crowned with glory and honour? There is a sense
in which the crowning preceded His death. Peter testifies, He
was crowned with glory and honour that He might taste death
for every man. The crowning preceded the crucifixion. He was
crowned for the cross. He was also crowned with glory and honour
as a result of His suffering. The thought is that through His
sufferings and because of them He was crowned with glory and
honour. Because of His condescension and humiliation, He has
acquired a glory and honour at the Father's right hand.
Paul in writing to the Philippians concerning Christ's obedience
unto death says, "God also hath highly exalted iIm,
and given him a name which is above every name." The
first Adam was disobedient unto death bringing his entire progeny
to a colossal ruin. The last Adam was obedient unto death. But
God hath raised Him up out of that awful thing called death
and gave Him glory and honour which He shares with all who believe
on Him. He alone bore our sins, and by His death expiated our
guilt. What a privilege to believe on Him who died for us, and
then to share His glory with Him throughtout eternal ages to
come! The manifold character of the work accomplished by His
death is fourfold.
1. His Death was the Means of Bringing
Many to Glory
"For it became Him, for whom are
all things and by whom are all things in bringing many sons
unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect
through sufferings." (2:10)
The Son is seen here as the Captain of salvation. The word
'Captain' means Leader or Author. (12:2) He is made perfect
through suffering. The word 'perfect' could be translated 'matured'
or equipped.' The Son could not bring many sons unto glory apart
from suffering. He could only be equipped as Captain by dying
at Calvary. We read, "It became Him for whom are all
things and by whom are all things." Because of God's
righteous character, Christ must suffer in order to bring many
sons unto glory. God and man are at the opposite poles of the
moral universe. God cannot tolerate sin. He must vindicate His
justice. Thus, before man can be saved the price of sin must
be paid. God demands His law to be magnified and His justice
satisfied before the sinner can be justified. Thus, it was necessary
that the Captain of our salvation be equipped through the sufferings
of Calvary to bring many sons unto glory. Our Lord said, "Except
a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone;
but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." He became
that grain of wheat that fell into the ground and died that
He might not abide alone, but that He might bring many sons
unto glory. Praise His name. He did not wish to remain alone.
The only begotten Son, by death and resurrection, became the
first begotten from the dead. He is not alone. We have been
quickened together with Him and wait to wit the redemption of
our bodies. He is the File-Leader who leads the way. He brings
many sons unto glory. He has been received up into glory. (1
Tim 3:16) The many sons of God will follow unto glory. To be
brought into glory necessitated His resurrection. He died and
arose victoriously over His enemies. Because He lives we shall
live also. He was raised and glorified. We shall be glorified
together with Him. For this we hope. "We rejoice in the
hope of the glory of God."
2. His Death was the Means of Presenting
to God a Sanctified People
"For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified
are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them
brethren." (2:11) In order to bring many sons unto
glory our Lord becomes to them a brother. The phrase 'He that
sanctifieth' refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. 'They that are
sanctified' refers to position, not to condition. Its meaning
is consecration, not purification. It is found in the following
means to separate. In Exodus 11:7 we read: "The Lord doth
put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." The
difference between the Egyptians and Isreal was the blood placed
'on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses'
of the latter. The blood of the passover lamb was the token,
the distinguishing mark that separated, set apart, or sanctified
Israel from the Egyptians. It is true that Israel had to act
in placing the blood as commanded. Israel was thus sanctified
by the blood. Likewise, Christ has shed His blood and all who
by faith come under its protection are sanctified by Christ
and His bood. "For by one offering He hath perfected
forever them that are sanctified." (10:29) The difference
between the Egyptian and the Israelite was the blood of the
passover lamb. The difference between the sinner and the saint
is the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer is sanctified by the
blood - 'the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified'
is the statement of the aposte. (10:29)
The suffering of Christ was the means of bringing many sons
unto glory, having sanctified or separated them by His blood.
The Sanctifier and the Sanctified (Christ and the saints) are
all of one. Literally meaning 'out of one.' Conybeare translated,
"Have all one Father." The thought is that the Lord
and the saints are all out of one source. "For which cause"
said the apostle. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren."
The Greek word for brother (adelphos) means 'from the same womb.'
The one source is God. God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is also our Father.
The Son is begotten by the resurrection. (Acts 13:33)
He is 'the first born from the dead.' (Colossians 1:18)
He is 'The first begotten of the dead.' (Rev 1:5)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten
us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus
Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
We are begotten again by the resurrection
of Christ. We are "born again not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth
forever." (1 Peter 1:23
We have been 'quichened together with Him. (Colossians 2:13)
"Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth."
What condescension on the part of our glorious Lord. He who
is greater than man or angel, the Lord of glory "is not
ashamed to call us brethren."
The following verse in our text is a quotation from Psalm 22:22.
"I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the
midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
It is the writers scriptural verification fo his statement
in verse eleven. The twenty-second Psalm has been aptly called
the "Psalm of Sobs" It may be divided into two parts.
1. The Christ in His sufferings (1-21)
2. The Christ in His resurrection glory. (21-31)
As we look at Psalm 22:21 we see the Psalm is divided by the
words 'SaveMe' and 'Thou hast heard me.' In the first half we
have Messiah's Crucifixion, in the last half we have the Messiah's
Resurrection. The prophecy "I will declare Thy name unto
my brethren" was fulfilled on the day of our Lord's resurrection.
"And as they went to tell His disciples, behold Jesus met
them saying: "All hail...Be not afraid, go tell my brethren,
that they go into Galilee and there shall they see me."
(Matthew 28:9,10) Joseph had been shamefully treated by
his brethrn. They had delivered him into the hand of the Gentiles.
Nevertheless in their time of need, Joseph, who had been exalted
to a place of honour and dignity was not ashamed to call them
brethern. They were 'all of one' Elevation did not alter
Relation. Jesus suffered at the hands of His brethren.
"He came unto HIs own, but HIs own received Him not."
(John 1:11) Yet in the day of national struggle He shall return.
They will cry: "Verily this is our brother," and He
will say, "these are my brethren." The latter part
of the quotation reads: "In the midst of the church will
I sing praise unto thee." The Lord leads His people in
praises unto God. Today, we thrill and rejoice at any consciousness
of His presence. But when we are glorified, Christ will be leading
us in ceaseless praise.
The writer to the Hebrews continues to show the close unity
which exists between the Lord Jesus Christ and those whom He
claims as His brethren. "I will put my trust in him,"
and again, "Behold I and the children which God hath given
me." (2:13) This is a quotation from Isaiah 8:17,18. The
context of the quotation from Isaiah has reference to Isaiah
and his two sons who were appointed as living symbols of the
divine will. The name of the one son means 'a remnant shall
return. (Isaiah 7:3) and the other son's name means 'haste ye
to the spoil.' (Isaiah 8:3) Isaiah's name means 'Jehovah Saviour.'
These names were symbols of victory. Isaiah would not trust
in any help but God's during the Syro-Israelitish war. The unity
which existed between Isaiah and his children is an illustration
of the close unity which is between the Lord Jesus and believers
whom He calls brethren.
3. His Death Meant Deviverance from
the Devil Who had the Power of Death.
"That through death He mi ht destroy him that had the
power of death, that is, the devil." (2:14) The object
of our Lord's incarnation was His death. His death was to bring
death to death. By dying and raising Himself out from under
death He would break the power of him who had the power of death.
"Forasmuch then as children are partakers of flesh and
blood." The thought is that mankind are sharers of the
common lot. We are born with flesh and blood. We could not come
into this world apart from this common lot. "He also himself
likewise took part of the same." Here the thought is that
our Lord took hold of human nature without its sin in the incarnation.
He always was. His subsistance did not depend upon flesh and
blood but He willingly took hold with an additional nature,
something which He did not formerly share in common with man.
He, who being in the form of God, assumed humanity. Thus He
who was God became the God-man -"God manifested in the
flesh." He "took hold with humanity that through death
He might destory the devil." The word "destroy"
means "to bring to naught, to render inefffective."
The Lord did not annihilate the devil. He robbed him of his
power. The first prophecy or promise of this was made to our
parents in the Garden. The Lord addressed Satan. "I will
put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed
and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise
His heel." (Gen 3:15) The resurrection of Christ is a pledge
of our resurrection. The grave cannot hold the bodies of those
who trust in God. Christ shall bring many sons unto glory. The
Devil had the power of death. His power was the dominion over
the race in the form of death. But thank God that dominion has
been broken. Jesus was made lower than angels that He might
suffer death. In His death He defeated the hierarchy of hell,
spoiled principalities and powers and made a show of them openly,
triumphing over them in Himself. Hear the mighty Captain of
our salvation cry in triumphant notes - "I am He that liveth,
and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, amen; and
have the keys of hell and death." (Revelation 1:18)
4. His Death was the Propitiation
for the Sins of the People
"Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like
unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful high
Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for
the sins of the people." (2:17) "Wherefore" speaks
of the necessity of the incarnation in view of the fact that
our Lord took upon Himself humanity for the purpose of saving
those who would believe. In order to save He must become a Priest
to offer sacrifice for sin. A priest is taken from among men
to represent man. The incarnation made it possible for Him to
become a merciful high priest. This is the first reference to
Priesthood which is the subjct matter of the epistle. The letter
speaks of Christ as Son and Priest. he is merciful and faithful
- merciful to man and faithful to God. The ministry of the High
Priest mentioned in this verse is "to make reconciliation
for the sins of the people." The word translated 'reconciliation'
is found in Romans #:25 where it is translated 'propitiation.'
It means sacrifice or atonement. Here the reference is to divine
justice. God's righteous character must be vindicated. His justice
must be satisfied, before His mercy could be exercised.
"For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He
is able to succour them that are tempted." (2:18) He was
tempted. He suffered in the temptation. Therefore He is able
to bring aid to them that are tempted. We shall learn much more
in the epistle of this great High Priest.
The Hebrews could not understand why their Mesisah had to suffer.
The apostle proved in the epistle that the Son is greater than
prophets and greater than angels. Then he shows that He was
made for a little time lower than the angels, that He might
taste death for every man. Only by the stoop of the incarnation
and His sufferings on Calvary could He bring many sons unto
glory, present to God a sanctified people, destory him that
had the power of death, and become a merciful High Priest to
make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
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