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Hebrews 2:9

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But we see Jesus - We do not see that mankind has the extended dominion of which the Psalmist speaks elsewhere. But we see the fulfillment of it in Jesus, who was crowned with glory and honor, 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 honor, and that he thus fulfilled all that David Psalm 8:1-9 had said of the dignity and honor 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; compare Philemon 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 Hebrews 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. These 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 honor. 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. - Margin, “By.” The meaning of the preposition rendered here “for” ( διὰ diahere 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 honor. His crowning was the result of his condescension and sufferings; see notes, Philemon 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 he was raised up to the right hand of God.

Crowned with glory and honor. - That is, at the right hand of God. He was raised up to heaven; Acts 2:33; Mark 16:19. The meaning is, that he was crowned with the highest honor on account of his sufferings; compare Philemon 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:2; Hebrews 5:7-9; Ephesians 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 rendered here “that” - ὅπως hopōs- 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 the notes at Acts 3:19. This is the interpretation which is given by Prof. Stuart (in loc.), and this interpretation seems to be demanded by the connection. 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 honor, so as that, by the grace of God, he might taste of death for every man;” see Robinson‘s Lexicon on the word ὅπως hopōsand Doddridge on the place. But it is natural to ask when Jesus was thus crowned with glory and honor? It was not before the crucifixion - for he was then poor and despised. The connection 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 Philemon 2:8-9, and Hebrews 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 favor of God, or by his benevolent purpose toward people. It was not by any claim which man had, but was by his special favor.

Should taste death - Should die; or should experience death; see Matthew 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; Psalm 11:6; Psalm 73:10; Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Matthew 20:22; Matthew 26:39.

For every man - For all - Ὑπὲρ παντὸς Huper pantos- 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 people to shape and modify the plain language of the Bible in order to keep people from error! compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:14, where this point is considered at length.

(With the author‘s views on the doctrine of atonement we accord in the main; yet are here tempted to ask if the advocates of universal atonement would not be under the like necessity, of explaining, modifying, or “extending,” such passages as limit, or seem to limit, the atonement of Christ; and if in framing a creed, the advantage would not lie about equal on either side? Neither party would be contented to set down in it those scriptures which seemed least favorable to themselves without note or explanation. If this remark appears unjust, in as much as the universalist could admit into his creed, that “Christ laid down his life for the sheep,” though at the same time he believed further, that he laid it down not for them only, nay, not for them in any special sense “more than for others;” let it be observed that the limitation could just as well admit into his, that “Christ tasted death for every man,” or for all people, ( Υπερ παντος Huper pantos) though he might believe further, not for all specially, not for all efficaciously, or with Prof. Stuart on the place, not for all universally, but “for all without distinction” that is, both Jew and Gentile. It is indeed difficult to say on which side explanation would be most needed.

In the case of the limited passage it would require to be observed first, that the atonement extended further than it intimated, and besides, that there was no special reference to the parties specified, the sheep, namely. There would be required, in truth, both extension and limitation, that is, if a creed were to be made, or a full view of opinion given. They seem to come nearest the truth on this subject, who deny neither the general nor special aspect of the atonement. On the one hand there is a large class of “universal passages,” which cannot be satisfactorily explained on any other principle than what regards the atonement as a great remedial plan, that rendered it consistent with the divine honor, to extend mercy to guilty people at large, and which would have been equally requisite had there been an intention to save one, or millions; numbers indeed not forming any part of the question. On the other hand, there is a large class of “special” texts, which cannot be explained without admitting, that while this atonement has reference to all, “yet God in providing it had a special design to save his people by it;” see the whole subject fully discussed, on the author‘s note referred to above, and in the supplementary note, on the same passages, which contains a digest of the more recent controversies on the point.)

Hence, learn Hebrews 2:6-9, from the incarnation of the Son of God, and his exaltation to heaven, what an honor 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 honor 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 favor 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 looker human nature in the person of the Lord Jesus, we see it honored there to a degree that is commensurate with all our desires, and that fills us with wonder. We feel that it is an honor 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 honored in the person of the Lord Jesus!

(1) what an honor 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 honor 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 godlike!

(3) what an honor it was that the divinity should speak to people in connection 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 honor 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 honor 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 intrusted all power in heaven and on earth!

(6) what an honor 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 human beings! Those 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 honor 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 honor 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 inexpressible 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 honors 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 scepters 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 honors 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, th‘ exalted Man,

Whom we, unseen, adore;

But when our eyes behold his face,

Our hearts shall love him more.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Neither the state in which the church is at present, nor its more completely restored state, when the prince of this world shall be cast out, and the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of Christ, is left to the government of the angels: Christ will take to him his great power, and will reign. And what is the moving cause of all the kindness God shows to men in giving Christ for them and to them? it is the grace of God. As a reward of Christ's humiliation in suffering death, he has unlimited dominion over all things; thus this ancient scripture was fulfilled in him. Thus God has done wonderful things for us in creation and providence, but for these we have made the basest returns.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Should taste death for every man - In consequence of the fall of Adam, the whole human race became sinful in their nature, and in their practice added transgression to sinfulness of disposition, and thus became exposed to endless perdition. To redeem them Jesus Christ took on him the nature of man, and suffered the penalty due to their sins.

It was a custom in ancient times to take off criminals by making them drink a cup of poison. Socrates was adjudged to drink a cup of the juice of hemlock, by order of the Athenian magistrates: Πινειν το φαρμακον, αναγκαζοντων των Αρχοντων . The sentence was one of the most unjust ever pronounced on man. Socrates was not only innocent of every crime laid to his charge, but was the greatest benefactor to his country. He was duly conscious of the iniquity of his sentence, yet cheerfully submitted to his appointed fate; for when the officer brought in the poison, though his friends endeavored to persuade him that he had yet a considerable time in which he might continue to live, yet, knowing that every purpose of life was now accomplished, he refused to avail himself of a few remaining moments, seized the cup, and drank off the poison with the utmost cheerfulness and alacrity; επισχομενος και μαλα ευχερως και ευκολως εξεπιε . Plato, Phaed. sub. fin. The reference in the text seems to point out the whole human race as being accused, tried, found guilty, and condemned, each having his own poisoned cup to drink; and Jesus, the wonderful Jesus, takes the cup out of the hand of each, and cheerfully and with alacrity drinks off the dregs! Thus having drunk every man's poisoned cup, he tasted that death which they must have endured, had not their cup been drunk by another. Is not this the cup to which he refers, Matthew 26:39; : O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me? But without his drinking it, the salvation of the world would have been impossible; and therefore he cheerfully drank it in the place of every human soul, and thus made atonement for the sin of the whole world: and this he did, χαριτι Θεου, by the grace, mercy, or infinite goodness of God. Jesus Christ, incarnated, crucified, dying, rising, ascending to heaven, and becoming our Mediator at God's right hand, is the full proof of God's infinite love to the human race.

Instead of χαριτι Θεου, by the grace of God, some MSS. and the Syriac have χωρις Θεου, without God, or God excepted; i.e. the manhood died, not the Deity. This was probably a marginal gloss, which has crept into the text of many MSS., and is quoted by some of the chief of the Greek and Latin fathers. Several critics contend that the verse should be read thus: "But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made less than angels, that by the grace of God he might taste death for every man, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor." Howsoever it be taken, the sense is nearly the same:

  1. Jesus Christ was incarnated.
  • He suffered death as an expiatory victim.
  • The persons in whose behalf he suffered were the whole human race; every man - all human creatures.
  • This Jesus is now in a state of the highest glory and honor.
  • Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 237

    The Jewish rabbis presented the requirements of the law as a wearing round of exactions. They did just what Satan is doing in our day,—presented the law before the people as a cold, rigid code of commands and traditions. Superstitions buried the light, the glory, the dignity, and far-reaching claims of the law of God. They professed to speak to the people in the place of God. After the transgression of Adam, the Lord spoke no longer directly with man; the human race was given into the hands of Christ, and all communication came through Him to the world. It was Christ who spoke the law on Mount Sinai, and He knew the bearing of all its precepts, the glory and majesty of the law of heaven. In His sermon on the mount, Christ defines the law, and seeks to inculcate in the minds of His hearers the far-reaching claims of the precepts of Jehovah. His instructions came as a new revelation to the people; and the teachers of the law, the scribes and the Pharisees, as well as the common people, were astonished at His doctrine. The words of Christ were not new, and yet they came with the force of revelation; for they presented the truth in its proper light, and not in the light in which the teachers had set it before the people. He showed no regard for the traditions and commandments of men, but opened the eyes of their understanding to behold wondrous things out of the law of God, which is the foundation of His throne from the beginning of the world; and as long as the heavens and the earth remain, through the ceaseless ages of eternity, it will be the great standard of righteousness, holy and just and good. FE 237.1

    The system of Jewish economy was the gospel in figure, a presentation of Christianity which was to be developed as fast as the minds of the people could comprehend spiritual light. Satan ever seeks to make obscure the truths that are plain, and Christ ever seeks to open the mind to comprehend every essential truth concerning the salvation of fallen man. To this day there are still aspects of truth which are dimly seen, connections that are not understood, and far-reaching depths in the law of God that are uncomprehended. There is immeasurable breadth, dignity, and glory in the law of God; and yet the religious world has set aside this law, as did the Jews, to exalt the traditions and commandments of men. Before the days of Christ, men asked in vain, “What is truth?” Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Even Judea was shrouded in gloom, although the voice of God spoke to them in His oracles. The truth of God had been silenced by the superstition and traditions of its professed interpreters, and contention, jealousy, and prejudice divided the professed children of God. Then was a Teacher sent from God, even Him who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus presented to view the pure, rich truth of heaven to shine amid the moral darkness and gloom of earth. God had said, “Let there be spiritual light,” and the light of the glory of God was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. FE 238.1

    Christ was manifested as the Saviour of men. The people were not to trust in their own works, in their own righteousness, or in themselves in any way, but in the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. In Him the Advocate with the Father was revealed. Through Him the invitation was given, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This invitation comes sounding down along the lines to us today. Let not pride, or self-esteem, or self-righteousness keep any one from confessing his sins, that he may claim the promise: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Keep nothing back from God, and neglect not the confession of your faults to the brethren when they have a connection with them. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” Many a sin is left unconfessed, to be confronted in the day of final accounts; better far to see your sins now, to confess them, and put them away, while the atoning Sacrifice pleads in your behalf. Do not dislike to learn the will of God on this subject. The health of your soul, the unity of your brethren, may depend upon the course you pursue in these things. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” FE 239.1

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    Ellen G. White
    That I May Know Him, 48.4

    And in all this conflict with the power of evil there was ever before Christ the darkened shadow into which He Himself must enter. Ever before Him was the means by which He must pay the ransom for these souls.... When He raised Lazarus from the dead He knew that for that life He must pay the ransom on the cross of Calvary. Every rescue made was to cause Him the deepest humiliation. He was to taste death for every man.... Of the suffering multitudes brought to Christ it is said, “He healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). Thus He expressed His love for the children of men. His miracles were part of His mission.... He knows how to speak the word “Be whole,” and when He has healed the sufferer He says, “Go and sin no more.”15 TMK 48.4

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1107

    21. See EGW on Romans 3:19. 5BC 1107.1

    21, 22, 29 (Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 6:16; 14:10). Two Kinds of Crowns—On whose side are we? The world cast Christ out, the heavens received Him. Man, finite man, rejected the Prince of life; God, our sovereign Ruler, received Him into the heavens. God has exalted Him. Man crowned Him with a crown of thorns, God has crowned Him with a crown of royal majesty. We must all think candidly. Will you have this man Christ Jesus to rule over you, or will you have Barabbas? The death of Christ brings to the rejecter of His mercy the wrath and judgments of God, unmixed with mercy. This is the wrath of the Lamb. But the death of Christ is hope and eternal life to all who receive Him and believe in Him (Letter 31, 1898). 5BC 1107.2

    Under Satan's Black Banner—Each son and daughter of Adam chooses either Christ or Barabbas as his general. And all who place themselves on the side of the disloyal are standing under Satan's black banner, and are charged with rejecting and despitefully using Christ. They are charged with deliberately crucifying the Lord of life and glory (The Review and Herald, January 30, 1900). 5BC 1107.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 1, 274

    Christ knew that in taking the nature of man He would not be in appearance equal to the angels of heaven. Satan urged that if He was indeed the Son of God He should give him evidence of His exalted character. He approached Christ with temptations upon appetite. He had overcome Adam upon this point and he had controlled his descendants, and through indulgence of appetite led them to provoke God by iniquity, until their crimes were so great that the Lord destroyed them from off the earth by the waters of the Flood. 1SM 274.1

    Under Satan's direct temptations the children of Israel suffered appetite to control reason, and they were, through indulgence, led to commit grievous sins which awakened the wrath of God against them, and they fell in the wilderness. He thought that he should be successful in overcoming Christ with the same temptation. He told Christ that one of the exalted angels had been exiled to the world, and that His appearance indicated that, instead of His being the King of heaven, He was the angel fallen, and this explained His emaciated and distressed appearance. 1SM 274.2

    He then called the attention of Christ to his own attractive appearance, clothed with light and strong in power. He claimed to be a messenger direct from the throne of Heaven, and asserted that he had a right to demand of Christ evidences of His being the Son of God. Satan would fain disbelieve, if he could, the words that came from heaven to the Son of God at His baptism. He determined to overcome Christ, and, if possible, make his own kingdom and life secure. His first temptation to Christ was upon appetite. He had, upon this point, almost entire control of the world, and his temptations were adapted to the circumstances and surroundings of Christ, which made his temptations upon appetite almost overpowering. 1SM 274.3

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