In Hebrews 2:9, the writer says “we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honor.” The words are beautiful, but there is some question about which period of time the words refer to. Is this a crown that Jesus wore during His earthly ministry, or does it refer exclusively to our Lord in His exaltation, after His death was accomplished? The following two articles helpfully summarize the two viewpoints. The purpose of presenting opposing views is not to create controversy or to generate the division that marred the church in Corinth (“I am of Paul; and I am of Apollos…” 1Cor 1:12), nor is it merely for you to assess who formulates a better argument. The purpose is to help you to understand and consider the viewpoints, and to encourage you to study it more deeply yourself in your own time. Our two writers have read and considered opposing viewpoints and yet continue to respect one another and enjoy happy fellowship together.
– Matthew Cain
The word “crowned” is from stephanos (Greek) meaning “to crown as a victor in the public games.” This word is found in 2 Timothy 2:5 where an athlete is not “crowned” unless he strives lawfully. It conveys a definite act of recognition after a victory has been achieved.
In the context of verse 9, the victory is the fact that the One who was “a little lower than angels for the suffering of death,” is no longer dead, but as we see in Hebrews 1:3, He is now “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” There is a real man in the glory, fully fitted and qualified to function as the Great High Priest of His people, as the book will further show.
God’s purpose for “the works of His hands” in creation, was that man would have dominion over it all and it would be subject to him. “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (v5). To prove this, the writer quotes (vv6-8a) from Psalm 8 (vv4-6): “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”
Psalm 8 was written looking back to Genesis. Adam was placed at the top of God’s order of things on earth, having all things under his feet in earthly dominion, although he was a little lower than the angels. Adam was crowned with the glory and honor of having such dominion.
However, he fell in disobedience and lost something of that place of honor. From then on, the earth grew thorns beyond his control and it took the sweat of his brow to produce food to eat. By contrast, the Second Man, Jesus, never disobeyed God, and showed ample evidence that creation was completely under His control, even before the cross. Thus it is argued, He must have been crowned with glory and honor prior to the cross.
However, a major difficulty arises with this view when we note that Psalm 8 links the crowning with glory and honor with, “Thou has put all things in subjection under his feet.” Then the Hebrew writer says in verse 9, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” How could the crowning relate to Jesus before the cross, and now all things not be under his feet? It does not seem to make sense.
I believe the Hebrew writer treats “Son of Man” as a Messianic title that belongs to Christ because of incarnation. He elevates the quote from Psalm 8 from what was written concerning Adam before the fall to its fulfillment in Christ, in God’s purpose. He is anticipating a future exercise of dominion in “the world to come, whereof we speak” (v 5). “All things in subjection under His feet” means that nothing is left out of Messiah’s dominion. This is God’s purpose for Man, and it will be fulfilled through the Son of Man in a millennial context.
The writer brings us back to the present with the statement at the end of verse 8, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” The subjection of all things is not yet seen nor perceived as such, but will take place in the future.
“But we see Jesus,” by faith we now behold Him, “Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” Angels are greater in power and might than man (2Peter 2:11). For a little time, in honor and dignity, He was a little lower than angels, being incarnate here on earth, for the purpose of suffering death. So the Lord Jesus, in incarnation, assumed a position that was temporarily lower than angels, with a view to tasting death for every man, thus putting on display the grace of God.
Subsequent to His death, God raised Him from the dead and then He could say, “all power (authority) is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18). There follows the giving of the great commission to evangelize the whole world with the gospel. This could not have been given until after the cross. The authority given Him by the Father would only follow the obtaining of eternal redemption (Heb 9:12) by the suffering of death. Thus the stephanos crowning of glory and honor is linked with the risen, victorious, glorified Savior Who holds the right to rule and to reign from the river to the ends of the earth.
Now “at the right hand of God exalted” (Acts 2:33), He waits for the program of God in the day of grace to run its course. Only then will His blood-bought rights over creation be seen and established.
What a day of glory it will be, when He takes up the right of redemption that is uniquely His. John saw that no one was found worthy to take the book of the title deeds of earth and open the seals. The authority given to Christ on resurrection ground is His alone. “He has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals thereof.” Thus the process of re-taking the earth from the oppression of the enemy will be set in motion. Then the triumphant song will rise from creation, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Amen.