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SUBJECTION OF “THE WORLD TO COME
Victor M. Eskew
A. In Hebrews 2:5-9a, we see the relationship of three individuals to “the world to come.”
B. The emphasis is upon the authority and dominion they have over the world to come.
1. “Not put in subjection” (Heb. 2:5).
2. “Set him over” (Heb. 2:7)
3. “All things in subjection” (Heb. 2:8)
4. “Nothing left that is not put under him” (Heb. 2:8)
5. “Not yet all things put under him” (Heb. 2:8)
C. This section is here because of an objection some might have over the teaching that Christ is superior to angels.
1. Man is said to be made a little lower than the angels.
2. Christ was a man.
3. Thus, Christ, too, must be a little lower than the angels.
D. Christ’s becoming a man enabled Him to occupy a status not held by the angelic hosts.
I. THE WORLD TO COME NOT IN SUBJECTION TO ANGELS (Heb. 2:5)
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
A. The world to come
1. There are two views of “the world to come.”
a. The eternal domain where man will reside when this present world comes to an end.
1) II Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are there in shall be burned up.
2) Mark 10:30
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution; and in the world to come eternal life.
b. The age of the Messiah, the last days, the Christian age
1) Wacaster: “To the Hebrew, the ‘world to come’ had reference to the age of the Messiah…” (68).
2) Vincent: “…the world to come means the new order of things inaugurated by the sacrifice of Christ” (e-sword).
2. The second view seems to be confirmed by the last statement of this verse: “…whereof we speak.”
a. The writer was not talking about heaven, hell, and eternal life.
b. He was speaking of the last days when God has spoken unto us through His Son (Heb. 1:2). He had reference to the Christian Age.
B. The angels do not have this age under their subjection.
a. Strong (5293): to subordinate, to be under obedience
b. Thayer: to arrange under, to submit to one’s control
2. The angelic hosts have their realms of responsibility, but they do not have dominion over this age.
II. THE WORLD TO COME WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN SUBJECTION TO MAN (Heb. 2:6-8)
A. God’s ideal plan had the world under man’s subjection.
B. The Hebrew penman confirms this by a quote from an inspired writer of the Old Testament.
But one in a certain place testified, saying…
a. Strong (1263): to attest
b. Thayer: to testify, to attest, testify to, solemnly affirm
2. The writer quotes David in Psalm 8:4-6.
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 has crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, thou has put all things under his feet.
3. Wacaster: “The purpose of the author in quoting this passage was to affirm that God’s original intent was to give man dominion over the world and all things therein” (69).
C. There are three points made by the author:
1. God’s care for man (Heb. 2:6)
What is man that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
1) Strong (3403): to recall to mind
2) Thayer: to be had in remembrance, to be mindful
1) Strong (1980): to inspect, go to see, relieve
2) Thayer: to look upon or after…in order to see how he is, to look upon in order to help or to benefit
2. God’s commission to man (Heb. 2:7-8a)
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownest him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all things in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.
a. Man’s state (Heb. 2:7a)
1) Made a little lower than the angels
2) Crowned with glory and honor
a) Crowned (4737): to adorn with an honorary wreath
b) Glory (1391): splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, dignity, grace
c) Honor (5098): esteem, highest degree, honor
b. Man’s superiority (Heb. 2:7b-8a)
1) Three important statements:
a) Set him over:
- Set him: placed him down, designated, appointed
- Over: superimpose, put over
b) All things in subjection:
- To subordinate, cause to obey
- All things – the whole
c) Nothing that is not put under him
2) Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
3. The author’s conclusion (Heb. 2:8b)
But now we see not yet all things put under him.
a. There are two terms associated with time in this statement:
1) But now: at this present time, immediately
2) Not yet: indicates a time to come.
b. Man was supposed to subdue all things, but he did not.
1) Man has not subdued himself, as attested by the complete inability of man to overcome sin in his life.
2) He has not subdued death.
c. What we see in this verse is the difference between man’s potential and what man has actually become.
d. Not yet:
1) A glorious prospect the author holds out for man.
2) Wacaster: “What a glorious thought to know that when our Lord comes to receive us unto the Father we will, at that time, have conquered all, including sin and death” (73).
III. JESUS HAS SUBJECTED THE WORLD TO COME UNTO HIMSELF (Heb. 2:9a)
But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels…
A. “But” stands in contrast to man about whom the writer had been speaking.
B. Yes, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but it was for several purposes. These purposes will be discussed in the next section.