Believers Will Rule Over Angels
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)
As we have examined, the author illustrated Christ's superiority to angels throughout chapter 1. Now he picks up this argument again in verse 5. He says, 'For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.' The question is 'When Jesus became a man, did He lose His superiority over angels?' What is the answer? The answer is the author is going to outline the fact that it is not God's intention for man to be inferior to the angels. Ultimately, man will be superior to the angels because of the work of Christ completed on the cross.
The foundation for this truth is found in Genesis 1:26. God says, concerning man, 'Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' The principle is that man, because he was made in the image of God, was given authority to rule over every other created thing, including angels.
In verse 5 of Hebrews chapter 2, the author is looking forward to the millennial kingdom. The 'world to come' (referring to an inhabited earth) will not be subjected to 'angels.' This is a plain fact. The author is declaring that the future earth will not be ruled by angels.
Now it is important that we recognize the difference between man's place in Genesis chapter 1, and man's place presently. As we exist today, angels rule in our realm. You may ask, 'Wait a minute, you just said that in Genesis man is placed in a position of authority over all created things. What's going on?
In Daniel 10:13, Daniel had prayed to God, and an angel was sent with a response. But the angel says he could not deliver the message because, '...the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold Miscall, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.' Now, the 'prince of the kingdom of Persia' was not a human being. Humans cannot stand in the way of an angel delivering a message. The reference here is to a demonic being, a fallen angel who is ruling the kingdom of Persia.
Later, in verse 20, we see that Persia is not the only kingdom on earth that is ruled by a fallen angel; '...But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am not going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.' This pattern holds true throughout scripture. The Bible tells us that Satan, the god of this world, has given control of each nation to one of his demons. This is the emphasis in Daniel. Each nation on earth has a demonic ruler, and Satan's purposes in each nation are carried out by his legion of fallen angels.
This will change in the world to come. 1 Corinthians 6:3 illustrates this point perfectly. Paul says, 'Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?' In the context, Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that believers will rule the world in the future, including the judging of angels. Now if we are going to be engaged in these types of activities, are we not capable of judging a disagreement between two believers? The point is clear. The millennial kingdom will be a much different place than the world we live in now. And in that world, believers will once again be superior to every created being.
Jesus Him self was even tempted by Satan concerning the ability to rule the world. Do you remember what Satan promised Christ? Matthew 4:8-10 tells us; 'Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, 'All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' ' Notice that Christ does not refute Satan's claims that he rules this world. This is the same type of temptation that Satan gave Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The difference is that the God-man, Jesus Christ, resisted Satan, while man fell to the temptation and thus has subjected himself to the rule of Satan to this present day.
The author proceeds in verses 6 through 8 to further prove that angels will not rule in the millennial kingdom. He quotes from Psalm 28 saying, 'But one has testified somewhere, saying, 'What is man that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about Him? Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.'
You know, sometimes while I'm preaching I will refer to a verse, and I will completely forget where in the Bible it is. I say, 'You know what the New Testament says,' or 'You know what the apostle Paul says.' But I couldn't find it if I wanted to. It almost sounds as if the same thing happened to the author of Hebrews in verse 6. He starts out saying, '...one has testified somewhere... .' However, the author then proceeds to quote verbatim from the Old Testament Scripture. He knows where the passage is. It is simply the practice of the author not to give reference to the passage he is quoting. Why does he do this? Remember, he has already established that all revelation comes from God, so he does not want to deal with the human instrument through whom it was written.
The author, through the quotation of Psalm 8, is bringing our attention to the majesty of God, and ultimately, to the dignity of man. Now that may seem strange in light of the fact that we are continually told that we are depraved, godless sinners destined for eternity in hell. But now, the author quotes from Psalm 8, and we are told that we will be given glory and honor. Why? Because of the position we are given by God. The author says, 'What is man that Thou rememberest Him...? In other words, the author is asking, 'Why would you even pay attention to mankind? You God, are full of majesty. We are nothing compared to You.'
He continues, referring to humanity as '...the Son of Man,' not referring to the title given to Christ, but emphasizing the humanity of mankind. Some would say that because Christ lowered Himself to human form, He lost His superiority to the angels. But according to Scripture, that is not true. Some people never get past this point because they dwell continually on the depravity of man without any understanding of our future significance. All they see is man as worthless, useless beings. But even though God sees us that way, He also sees us as we will be in the future, when we have been brought to glory in His presence.
In verse 7, the author says that we are '...for a little while lower than the angels.' Again, this verse looks forward to the millennial kingdom. And this phrase can be interpreted to mean that we are a 'little...lower.' So presently, we are just under the angels in the order of authority outlined by God. But that will change in the future kingdom, when mankind is placed in authority second only to the Trinity. That is exciting!
Perhaps the clearest definition of our present subjection to angels is seen in our mortality. While you and I are subject to dying and death, the angels are not. This contrast was drawn by Christ in Luke's account of His life. Speaking of men in the future kingdom, Christ says, 'for neither can they die anymore, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection' (Luke 20:36). In our resurrection bodies we will be glorified, and will be 'like' angles, in that we will not experience physical death.
The word 'like' means 'equal' to angels. It is a different word than is used in other parallel passages in the gospels, and it means that we are equal to angels in the sense that we will not die. We will still have authority over angels, but we are 'like' angels in the fact that we will not die.
In Genesis chapter 1, Moses illustrated the truth that man was created to be in charge of every created thing, including angels, before the fall. Verses 7 and 8 highlight this truth as well. The author says, 'Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.' Again, it is God's intention that everything in the created realm be subjected to man.
Beginning in the middle of verse 8, the author summarizes what we have just examined in verses 6 through 8. He says, 'For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.' As one can see, nothing is excluded. God has put everything created in subjection to man. But that is not the arrangement presently. Between Genesis chapter 1 and Hebrews chapter 2, man has fallen under the power and presence of sin. Man voluntarily subjected himself to the creation, to a fallen angel, and in so doing, man gave up the dominion that had been given to him by God. Therefore, man has been temporarily placed in a position of inferiority.
Now we say 'temporarily' because God's plan will ultimately be fulfilled by those who trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Verse nine outlines God's plan for the restoration of man to his position of authority over all of creation; 'But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' Verse 9 drives home the point that man was created to be sovereign, but cast himself down when he fell to Satan's temptation. But Jesus Christ has made the provision for mankind to be restored to his original position, by lowering himselfto human form, and dying on a cross.
Verse 9 is structured in what is referred to as the 'chiasmos' pattern in the Greek. In this pattern, the verse is structured in the form of an X. Very simply, this means that the first and last statements go together, and the middle two statements go together. For example, in verse 9 the first statement '...made for a little while lower than the angels,' fits with the last statement '....that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' In like manner, the middle two statements, '...because of suffering and death,' Christ is '..crowned with glory and honor' fit together.
We will examine each phrase as they appear in the chiasmo order. The first fact concerning Christ is that He was made '...for a little while lower than the angels... .' This is the same thing that was said about man in verse 7, indicating Christ's complete identification with humanity. He didn't come to earth as mostly man, but as a completely man.
Why did Christ come to earth as man? The second fact concerning Christ is that 'by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' Jesus Christ did not become a man in order to live a long and happy life on earth. He was born so that He could 'taste' or 'experience' death.
It is important to note that Christ experienced death 'by the grace of God.' Now that may seem strange to us. We usually think of God's grace when someone is allowed to live. But Christ's death was through the grace of God because He was providing salvation. If Christ would not have died there would be no salvation for you and me. There has never been salvation provided to the fallen angels because Christ did not become an angel, He became a man. We don't deserve to have the salvation provided by Christ's death, but 'by the grace of God' it is finished for us. He provides salvation to 'everyone' who will believe in His work and person. Those who do not respond, and drift by the safe harbor of Christ, are justly condemned.
It is not God's desire that anyone goes to hell. It is God's desire that everyone be saved. If someone goes to hell, it is because that person wanted to go to hell. 1 Timothy says, 'For there is one God...who gave Himself as a ransom for all...' (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Why are not all men saved? Because the vast majority of sinful mankind refuse to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They refuse to accept this free gift of salvation, and all that is left when one does not accept salvation, is destruction.
Where is Christ right now? The third statement in verse 9 tells us that He is '...crowned with glory and honor... .' While men will someday be crowned with glory and honor, and restored to our original position of authority, Christ is crowned right now! Why? Because 'of the suffering of death.' The penalty has been paid, Christ is victorious. He suffered and died for the sins of you and me, but now He is receiving the glory and honor He deserves, sitting at the right hand of God.
The fact that Christ is 'crowned with glory and honor' is a reflection of His Lordship. Philippians 2:8-11 reaffirms this truth; 'And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus 'Every knee should bow,' of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Here we are given a glimpse of the total sovereignty of Jesus Christ. And you and I, as believers in Christ, are allowed to partake of His sovereignty when we come to believe in Him. We have the position for which we were originally created, but we still may not carry it out in our practice.
Revelation 20:6 gives us a picture of what our practice will be in the future. The point in time here is the millennial kingdom, after the rapture, and after the seven year tribulation. Christ has returned to set up His kingdom. John says, 'Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.' Do you see what happens? We will be reestablished in the position for which we were created. Jesus Christ is totally sovereign over all, and we will be ruling with Him.
Hebrews 2:9 is such an important verse because it tells us how man can now have the potential to enter into the position that we lost at the fall, so many years ago. The frustration and futility can be ended because Jesus Christ became a man in order to pay the penalty for our sin. Those who believe in Him have forgiveness of sins, and are brought into a personal relationship with God for all eternity. For those of us who are His children, we can look forward to a time in the future when we will be put into a position of authority, ruling with our Lord and Savior over all of creation.
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