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
“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 should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9)
The issue considered is that of spiritual rule and authority. It is not angels that have authority to rule the world, nor will they have future authority to do so. That has been clearly put to them with these words: “For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (2:5).
Having dealt with the angels, the Scripture then deals with mankind. “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou are mindful of him or the son of man that Thou visitest him?” (v6). In the following verses (vv7-8) all that had been given to man is displayed; crowned with glory and honor, and set over the works of God’s hands. All things were to be in subjection to man. Great was to be his authority and rule. However, the word “but” has great significance. “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” Due to the hold of sin upon man, he has failed to rule – man has fallen.
The writer now states “But we see Jesus” (v 9). Having looked at man and the sad fact that due to his sin, Adam lost his place, authority, and dignity, the Scripture now turns to another Man, One who cannot fail. The readers are asked to lift their eyes from Adam and see Jesus, the man Who lived on earth and died on the cross. The reality of His humanity is brought before us. The question is why the Lord Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. Note that angels do not die. The answer is, “for the suffering of death,” so that the Lord Jesus would suffer and die. As a man, the Lord Jesus died on the cross.
Then we read that the Lord is crowned with glory and honor (v9). Did this take place after His ascension, or was He thus crowned as He lived on earth? This authority of the Lord was exercised on earth. “Although Adam lost his crown of authority by sin, the Lord retained His because of His sinlessness” (E.W. Rogers). This brings us the question of the Lord’s glory and honor. He did manifest His glory in the acts which He performed. Honor was His – heaven declared His worth, and men bowed before Him. He was seen with glory and honor prior to the cross.
To say that He “should taste death” does not indicate that His death was not real. To taste death is to experience its bitterness. He knew by experience what it was to die. It will not be all mankind that will rule; it will be under the control of the one man, “Jesus,” the only man who tasted death, the triumphant man.
Consider Psalm 8, which came from the pen of David and became the pen of the Lord (vv5-6). Four points have to be noted. “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.” He is seen as a man. He was crowned “with glory and honor,” the dignity that marked a king. He was given “dominion over the works” of His hand, that is, all authority. He had “all things under His feet … sheep, oxen, beasts of the field, fowl of the air and the fish of the sea.” Note the praise due to the Lord at the end of the Psalm.
The Scriptures show examples of this in the life of the Lord Jesus, all of which mark His authority. He never let go of this control. It could never be lost.
A wealthy man, Levi (Luke 6.27), heard the call of Christ, “Follow me”, and he left all. He called the disciples (Luke 9:1-6) and gave them power over all devils and to cure diseases. He challenged the death of a young man as He spoke and gave him life; he that was dead rose up and spoke (Luke 7.14). He was able to feed a multitude with seven loaves and a few fish, and have enough leftovers to fill seven baskets. He could cry with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43) and Lazarus came out of the tomb bound, after which he was loosed from his grave clothes.
What was noted above took place on many other situations. Here is the sound authority of the rule of God. Notice the differing circumstances: one man was a wealthy man, the disciples were called, one was a young man, one was a large group that had gathered to be with the Lord, one was the call from the Lord that Lazarus had to come from the grave.
We consider how great this One is Who came to this world as a child, Who lived as no man had ever lived, worked as no man had ever worked, died as no man had ever died, and rose from the dead as none other had. Others have tried, perhaps, to do what the Lord did, but He was unique. Let us be thankful that He is God and be thankful that He is a man.
There is a day coming when the purposes of God will be seen across and beyond this world. The rule of deity will be seen, and all that glory will be enjoyed by those who live with Him. We wait to hear His words: “To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Rev 3.21), to share the glory of His reign.