Christ is Better than the Angels
Because of His Humanity
Text: Hebrews 2:5-18
All Things Are Subjected to Christ
The world to come was not subjected to angels, but to Christ. As supporting evidence, the writer quotes Psalms 8:4-6. In the psalm, David is talking about his wonder that God would place his creation under the dominion of man (Genesis 1:28). But the words can also be applied more directly to Christ since the “man” and “son of man” are stated in the singular.
The phrase “world to come” could refer to heaven as a similar phrase appears in Ephesians 2:7 to speak of the time after this world ends. Revelation 21:1 talks about heaven as “a new heaven and new earth” (see also II Peter 3:13). Some suggest that the writer is talking about the world in the present age of Christianity where Jesus reigns supreme (Matthew 28:18). “To come” is from the point of view of the psalmist when he wrote the psalm. Thus, it is the days that followed the message delivered by angels.
Emphasis is placed on the fact that all things are subjected to Christ. “All” doesn’t leave anything out. While the dominion of Christ is true in general, there is still a battle for complete subjection. Paul quotes the same Psalms 8:6 in: “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For ‘He has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:25-28; see also Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 2:10). Thus, the subjection is true generally now and will be fully true in heaven.
It might seem strange that Christ spent time in a state lower than the angels, which placed him in a position higher than them. The arguments that follow explain why this was necessary.
Christ Brought Salvation to Men
While Psalms 8 speaks about man on one level, we don’t see a complete fit with any man. But we do see a better fit of the phrases in Jesus Christ.
The Son of God, who was above all angels, took on a form lower than the angels for a short time, enduring humiliation and death in order to bring salvation to all of his creation (Philippians 2:5-11). This occurred by God’s grace (I John 4:9). Christ tasted death, but he did not “swallow” death; thus, he experienced death but did not remain dead. The imagery reminds of Christ’s prayer in the garden. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
How could a man be greater than the angels? Because the Son of God volunteered to take on a lower status and when his mission was accomplished he was raised to a greater one (Acts 2:33).
It was fitting that the author of mankind’s salvation be perfected through sufferings. The universe was made for God and the universe is upheld by God’s power. In the process of bringing many sons to the glory of heaven, the author of their salvation suffered along with them and, thus, became the perfect source of salvation. His sufferings did not make him less of a man, but it made the Son of God more suitable – a perfect fit – to save a world of sinners suffering due to their own flaws.
- If Christ tasted death for everyone, why isn’t everyone saved?
Christ Calls Men His Brethren
“He who sanctifies” refers to Christ and “those who are sanctified” refers to Christians. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19). Christ came to this world from the Father. Mankind was created by God. Thus, it is not ignoble for the Son of God to refer to humans as his brethren. “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:21). Two passages are quoted to support the point: Psalms 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18.
Psalms 22:22 foreshadows the life of Christ, who declared the Father to men (John 1:18). In his prayer before the end, Jesus mentioned twice that he declared God’s name to the disciples (John 17:6,26). After Jesus was resurrected, he declared himself to be a brother. “Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'”“ (John 20:17).
Isaiah 8:17 is quoted to illustrate that Christ shared with mankind a dependency on God, the Father. “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
The next verse, Isaiah 8:18, illustrates that Christ shared the concept of a family relationship. The Father gave the Son His children (John 6:37,39; 10:29).
Christ Shared Death with Men
Why was it fitting for the Savior to die? In part, it was to share the experience of dying with his creation. Since we are mortal creatures, the Son of God took on flesh (John 1:14; Romans 8:3). In dying, he destroyed the power of Satan. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:56-57). Satan caused men to die by encouraging them to sin, but Jesus took away the power of sin by offering both forgiveness and eternal life. In doing so, he removed the fear of death from mankind (I Corinthians 15:54-55).
Sin bound men in slavery, but we were freed from sin through the death of Jesus (Romans 6:6-7).
Christ Helps Men
Christ shared all of this with men, but he did not give angels the same help. In particular, his aid was for the children of Abraham. The writer is not talking about the physical descendants but the spiritual ones (Galatians 3:29).
Christ is Our High Priest
Another reason Jesus took on flesh was so that he could serve as our High Priest. Notice that it says “he had to be made.” The Greek word translated “had” refers to an obligation, duty, or necessity. The High Priest under the Old Law was the head of the Jewish religion. He was the person who interceded between the people and God. It was he who approached God on the Day of Atonement to ask forgiveness for the people’s sins. “‘Their leader shall be one of them, and their ruler shall come forth from their midst; and I will bring him near and he shall approach Me; for who would dare to risk his life to approach Me?' declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 30:1). In this way, Jesus can propitiate (appease, calm, or satisfy) God in regards to the sins of men (I John 2:2; 4:10).
Christ Shared Our Sufferings
Jesus is able to be merciful because he shared our sufferings (Isaiah 53:3; 63:9). He is also absolutely trustworthy because he kept God’s laws (Isaiah 11:5). He doesn’t fail due to weakness as other men do.
Since Jesus endured the same trials that we all face, he is able to sympathize with us and aid us in ways best suited to our needs.