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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Thu, Sep 08, 2005

26 - Unlimited Atonement [b]

Hebrews 2:5-9 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 58 secs

Hebrews Lesson 26    September 8, 2005

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

 

The last couple of verses are dynamite as they lay the foundation for the rest of the chapter.  Open your Bibles with me to Hebrews 2.  This builds as I have said before our second point in the development of our understanding of what the writer is trying to get across related to living today in the light of eternity.  And we always have to make sure that we are interpreting Scripture in light of its context.  That means you have to understand where a piece of literature or book of the Bible is going.  Every book has a different argument.  It is not an argument like two people bickering.  It is an argument like that of a lawyer before a trial jury.  You are developing a rationale to build a case for something.  Every book in the Bible has a major argument or theme.  It's not always important that you know it as a believer because it's important for interpreting a passage as a pastor.  When you get out in the trials and problems of life, it's not going to be important that you know the argument in Hebrews.  What is going to be important is that you have been taught what Hebrews is talking about so you can apply those principles to the situation as you go along.  The argument is important to help us understand the meaning of the text in terms of its interpretation.  So we have seen that the writer is building a case.  He lays out a point and ends the point with an application and warning.  Then he goes to the next point that unfolds out of some things he said in the first point.  And so we come to Hebrews 2:5 and this is the beginning of the second section from 2:5 down to 4:13

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

 

He begins by saying "for".  This is an explanation in the Greek word is gar.  It indicates that he is developing a further explanation based on what he has already said.  It's not based on what he said in verses 1-4 because that was the application that came out of the first chapter.  He is going back to chapter 1 and the emphasis on Christ's superiority to the angels.  Now he is expanding on that so that we can see where things are headed.  This verse gives us that orientation.

 

That phrase "of which we speak" orients us time wise to what the focus is here. He is not directly focusing on life here and now, but our life here and now as it relates to the future world to come.  The word to come is oikumone in the Greek.  It refers to an inhabited place, the inhabited world.  Here it is that future world. He is talking about the Millennial Kingdom.  This whole book is about preparation for a band of believers who have what it takes to live the spiritual life today to advance to spiritual maturity so that we are prepared to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in the coming kingdom. 

 

Literal translation:  For He (that is God the Father) did not subordinate to the angels the inhabited world which is to come or the future world of which we speak.

 

The emphasis in the Greek is "not to the angels."  That is the first phrase in the Greek text. 

 

The focus is that it's not angels that will rule in the future Millennial Kingdom.  It is human beings.  This is crucial to understanding God's plan and purposes for the human race and especially as it relates to the angels and the angelic conflict.  .  And so to develop this he goes back to the Old Testament passage in Psalm 8:4-6.  He quotes it out of the LXX version of the Old Testament.  Now remember that the LXX is the Greek translation that the rabbis made of the Hebrew Old Testament.  It was translated so that the Jews in the Diaspora who had forgotten how to read Hebrew and understand it could understand the Old Testament. It was translated about 200 BC.  The second century BC was the period it was translated.  It is called the Septuagint meaning 70 because the legend was that 70 rabbis in 70 days translated the law from Hebrew into the Greek.  That was the pocket Bible of everybody at the time of Christ.  They used the LXX.  That is what many of the Jews were most familiar with. Just as many Americans, not so much today but 20 years ago, were more familiar with the New King James.  So this is what the writer uses.  Sometimes there are some differences between the Hebrew Masoretic text that we base our Old Testament on and the LXX.  We have one example of that in this passage. Because God the Holy Spirit has taken the translation even if it might not have been a correct translation, it was still correct in what it said.  When God the Holy Spirit takes it and quotes it all of a sudden, it becomes inerrant and inspired.  God the Holy Spirit puts His stamp of approval on it.  So here we have a rhetorical question quoted out of the psalm.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:6 But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

 

Then the writer makes his point. 

 

He uses a double negative. By using a double negative he enforces the reality and emphasizes the fact that everything without exception is put under the authority of Christ. 

 

Last time we went through some of this and I want to go back to Psalm 8 to tie this together to understand what this is driving at.  Then we will get to verse 9 that draws out the conclusion.  Psalm 8 is a psalm that relates to the praise of God.  It is a meditation upon the greatness of God.  As the psalmist is thinking about and reflecting upon the greatness of God and His attributes, he is drawn to a comparison that God is so awesome and so magnificent and so powerful that compared to God, man is an insignificant molecule in the expanse of the galaxy.  Why does God pay attention to us?  In other words, are we just a cosmic accident?  That is the result of an accidental electrical discharge in a gas cloud or is there some real significant value to the human race and human beings?  So he locates the meaning of man in the glory of God.

 

NKJ Psalm 8:1 To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

 

That is your character.

NKJ Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

 

NKJ Psalm 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

 

When I look at the intricacy of a flower bloom, when I look at the details in the cell structure of the world, when I look at the magnificence of the weather systems and how they interact, when I examine the works of Your fingers and examine the galaxies the moon and the stars which You have ordained, in comparison to all of that, what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him? 

 

NKJ Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

 

This is a rhetorical question that is the focal point of the Hebrews quotation.

 

In the Hebrew as I pointed out last time, the word for man is the word enosh.  It is a generic word for the human race.  It is interesting that ever since the beginning of time God has referred to the human race in terms of the male leadership role designated at creation.  Isn't that interesting?  In the original languages it is mankind.  It is not humankind.  It's not the human race.  It is mankind.  So you may fall prey to those who call it politically incorrect and say that you have to use "human kind".  When you do that and sometimes you have to go along with it to pass a class, be intellectually aware of you do not get sucked into their way of thinking. That is what is happening.  But words are important.  Ideas have consequences.  The meat of an idea is the words that express it.  As soon as you start buying into this gender non-specific language, you are buying into a world view that is predicated upon pagan concepts of non-Biblical under pinnings. .  If it was good enough for God to talk about mankind instead of human kind then to say that using gender specific language is inherently wrong, you are talking borderline blasphemy.  And now you have people like Zondervan Publishing House that publishes the NIV now has the Today's NIV called the TNIV.  The TNIV uses gender non-specific language including gender non-specific language about God.  We know that God is not a male but the emphasis in that language is that about leadership and authority because that is how God built things into the universe. 

 

So we have mankind.  It is not some sort of negative language.  We will have to talk a lot about that in years to come because young people are so brain washed by this kind of thinking that what they come up with is by the time they get out of high school they no longer understand Biblical views of men and women so that it will screw up their marriages.  It is already screwing up their dating lives and everything else.

 

Now the next phrase that is used in parallelism to the first phrase is ben adham.  It means son of man. So this is a parallelism.  So we have two phrases.  What is man that you are mindful of him?  What is the son of man that you pay attention to him?  Literally "that you consider him or analyze him".  Man and son of man are used in synonymous parallelism to indicate the human race. The thrust of those two verses is to emphasize God's intimate concern for the human race. 

 

The word mindful is the Hebrew word zakar means to think about, to pay attention to.  It is translated mindful. It is translated in the LXX with a verb mimneskomai.  It is the word used in the Hebrews 2 passage.  It means to be mindful of something, to be considerate of. 

 

Why is man so important that you pay attention to him?  The parallel word is translated to visit him in the King James. It is the Hebrew word paqadh that has a broad range of meanings in the Hebrew.  It means to exercise oversight over a subordinate.  The LXX translated it with the word episkeptomai.

 

NKJ Psalm 144:3 LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?

 

NKJ Job 7:17 "What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him,

 

 Why is it that God exalts man?  What is so important about the human race? 

 

NKJ Psalm 8:5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

 

He is lower in terms of rank.  He is in lower authority.

 

Even though it is a past tense for the word for crown, it is a future sense.  You have crowned him with glory and honor.  It refers to the future destiny of the human race. 

 

The other word is the piel imperfect of hasnar in the Hebrew.  It means to lack something. Whenever you look at a word that refers to man lacking something, it emphasizes somewhere in the background the grace of God that is sufficient for us. It provides for us.  Man is created in a dependent state. He lacks something.  He is created lower than the angels for a reason.  Man's purpose is to demonstrate that the creature must be completely dependent on the creator. Otherwise the unintended consequences are absolutely horrible.  This is what the essence of the angelic conflict is all about. 

God created Satan, Lucifer. He was the perfect angel.  He was the most intelligent and incredible creature God ever created and he succumbed to pride.  He became arrogant according to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.  He wanted to be like God.  He wanted to rule the heavens and creatures as God did.  He wanted to take over that responsibility.  He thought he could do it better than anyone else.  So God demonstrates that the creature does not have the capacity to do things. He is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent.  He can't run things.  It will eventually fall apart no matter how brilliant, no matter how intelligent, and no matter how capable the creature may be.  He is still finite.  So Satan challenges God. "You haven't let me do what I wanted to do."

 

So God has a little test, a little experiment.  That is the human race.  He creates us to be dependent. In our dependency upon Him we demonstrate that only by being dependent on the creator can there be perfection and harmony.  When we are not dependent no matter how innocuous that independence may appear, the reverberating consequences are such that it fragments the very fabric of the universe. The test case was the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. It is an innocuous test.  What's wrong with eating a piece of fruit?  Most of us have probably done that in the last week.  We eat a piece of fruit and everything is just fine.  It doesn't fall apart.  But it's an act of disobedience to God. In that act of disobedience there were consequences that are spelled out in Genesis 3 that reverberate throughout the universe.  It changes the biological structure of the serpent.  It changes the biological structure of various animals.  It changes the biological structure of the reproductive system of the woman.  It changes the relationship of the man and the woman. It changes botany so that now the soil produces thorns and thistles.  And it brings physical death on the creatures that God has made upon the earth including man who will return to dust from whence he came.  All of that is the result of an innocuous little decision to eat a piece of fruit. 

 

The point is that we think of the stuff that really messes everything up as being these heinous horrible sins.  Too often they are influenced by the cultural issues of the day. A hundred years ago the big sins were things like slavery and intemperance and child labor.  They defined sins in terms of social issues.  Today they are different.  Today you say certain words or if you are politically incorrect everybody thinks that it is a horrible thing.  But he Bible has a different view of sin.  Sin is acting independently of God.  When we do, the unintended and unforeseen consequences are phenomenal.  That is what God is demonstrating. God made man lower than the angels to demonstrate to the angels that the creature can only have success and harmony and happiness and peace if he is completely dependent upon God.  Those that are will be crowned with glory and honor.  That's the original interpretation of Psalm 8 in context.  Psalm 8 was never understood to be Messianic.  Rabbis or the Old Testament, nowhere do you have Psalm 8 interpreted as Messianic.  But the writer of Hebrews comes along and says no we can apply this to Jesus. He would understand why. 

 

That is about where we stopped last time.  Now let's go back and finish up Psalm 8 so we have an appreciation of the whole psalm.  It isn't that long. 

 

NKJ Psalm 8:6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,

 

There is an important phrase.  Man is created to rule.  We will see that word in a minute in Genesis 1. 

 

That was the original design. 

 

NKJ Psalm 8:7 All sheep and oxen -- Even the beasts of the field,

 

NKJ Psalm 8:8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.

 

Everything was put under the authority of man in Genesis 1:26-28.  Just as an aside that last phrase "through the paths of the seas".  There was a scientist in the 1700's or early 1800's who read this reference in the Scriptures about paths in the sea.  He went out and studied the currents in the ocean.  He was the first one to discover and map the ocean currents. It comes because he took the Word of God at face value and believed it meant what it said.  It is another sign that science is falling apart today.  We don't realize that modern science is built on scientists in the 16th and 17th and 18th centuries who believed in a Biblical creation and a Biblical God and a Biblical universe.  You can't have science without that because science is based on something that is consistent, repeatable and observable.  It is not observable and repeatable in a chaotic universe.  Evolution must always present a universe of pure chaos and random chance.  So you can never develop real scientific knowledge that implies consistency in the laws of nature if you did not have a presupposition of creation. 

 

NKJ Psalm 8:9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

 

The whole psalm is not designed to talk about man but to talk about God and His relationship to man.  The key verses in the interpreting verses 5 & 6 are in verses 6 through 8. 

 

Where would you go to find out what that means?  Remember Scripture has to interpret Scripture.  You don't just look at this psalm and say, "Hmmm.  Let's figure this out."  No you have to fit it into the context.  All of Scripture is coherent and it interacts and interconnects with other parts of Scripture. That terminology comes right out of Genesis 1:26-8.  It gives us our first understanding of who we are as human beings and who mankind is and what our purpose, our destiny and our role is. 

 

NKJ Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

 

The important word there is that word rule.  The core idea is that man is created in the image and likeness of God.  The term image is the Hebrew word betazaimenu.  It means in the image and according to our rightness.  These words are used in conjunction to relate the fact that man is created as a reflection, as an image, almost an expression of who God is.  He is designed to represent God.  The function of the image is to represent God.  If you go to a Roman Catholic Church you see an image of Mary.  What does that represent?  It represents Mary.  If you go to an orthodox church you will see other icons and images that represent Jesus and represent the disciples.  That is the function of an image to be representative.  What God is saying here is that man is our representative and in our likeness.  He is a finite replica of God. 

 

Man is designed to represent God as God's vice gerund.  That may be a new word for some of you.  It is not vice regent.  That means that he is God's viceroy.  God establishes man as His authoritative representative over all creation.  As such man is put in a position to rule creation. 

 

The word for rule is the Hebrew word radah.  It means to exercise dominion, to dominate something, to be in control over something, to exercise complete oversight over something. 

 

NKJ Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

 

When we go back to Hebrews 2:6-7 we have a better understanding of who man is.

 

NKJ Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

 

So man's role is to fill the earth.  This is completely contrary to all your population expansion theories and everything else.  This same command is repeated in Noahic Covenant.  Guess what God doesn't say anywhere after Genesis 9 - to stop filling the earth.  It is going to continue to fill the planet until the Lord comes back.  They will continue to fill the earth in the Millennial Kingdom until it is filled and subdued because that is the dominion mandate in the original creation covenant.  That is man's mission.  He is to subdue it.  That means that he has to study everything.  He has to classify all the animals. He has to understand all of the laws of physics, all the laws of chemistry, and everything related to all the various systems that operate on planet earth and bring them under his intellectual control, not in a harsh destructive manner. 

 

That is what happens in carnality.  This is not a principle that justifies corporations going out and raping the land.  It was used that way.  This is a true Biblical creation form of environmentalism.  And that is to properly use creation and to use it responsibly and preserve it so that it is not destroyed.  But we also have to understand what human limitations are and aren't.  It's not mankind that is creating global warming.  Global warming and all the junk science that backs it up is the result of evolutionary presupposition.  So what we need today is Christians who are willing to think profoundly in this area and build a Biblical theology of environmentalism so that Christians can operate that way.  It should be based on Biblical creation not a view of environment based on evolution and paganism.  That is what you get from some former vice presidents.

 

The Hebrew word for subdue is kabash which means to bring something into control.

Because of sin we never accomplish this during this age before the Millennial Kingdom.  It really only comes under control as the result of Jesus Christ who fulfills all of this as representative man.  This is fundamental to understand the next couple of verses.  This is why the writer of Hebrews comes back and quotes this. Psalm 8 in its original context applied to the human race.  Why does God pay attention to man?  It has to do with His original creation mandate.  But when Adam sinned and as a result of the fall, the creation came under the curse.  So God sends His Son who takes on true humanity and becomes the ideal man, the perfect man, the second Adam who is going to represent the human race in order to completely fulfill the original intent of Genesis 1:26-8.  That's why the writer of Hebrews applies Genesis 2:6-8 to Jesus Christ. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

 

I want to key in on this word "all".  This is crucial.  Let me tell you where we are going.  When you get down to verse 9 we are going to hit one of the great passages that's not usually talked about too much in debate over the extent of the atonement.  Some of you aren't familiar with that. It is a great debate that has gone on for centuries.  Did Jesus die for everyone or did Jesus die for only the elect?  It is one of the major sticking points between Calvinism and Arminianism.  It is the L in the acronym tulip.  Tulip is a five-letter acronym to define Calvinism.

  1. T is for total depravity. 
  2. U is for unconditional election. 
  3. L is for limited atonement. 
  4. I is for irresistible grace. 
  5. P is for the perseverance of the saints. 

 

The L stands for limited atonement.  That Christ died only for a limited number of people.  He didn't die for everyone.  So the difference between a 5-point Calvinist and a 4-point Calvinist is whether one holds to limited atonement or unlimited atonement.  Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer who is the founder of Dallas Seminary was actually what we call a 3-½ point Calvinist.  He held to unlimited atonement and didn't hold to a lordship view of perseverance of the saints.  He did hold to unconditional election and irresistible grace. 

 

What we have seen in this passage is an emphasis on the word "all".  So when we get to verse 9 and it says that Christ tasted death for "all" then we have to understand all in the context, in the flow of this argument.  And that really begins with the application of verse 8.  "All things" means all without exception.  Calvinists will play this tricky little word game with you.  You will hear someone get up who doesn't really want to fly his colors. He will say that Christ died for all without distinction instead of Christ died for all without exception.  What he means by "all without distinction" is that He died for all believers without a distinction between Jew and Gentile.  That is what he is really saying. You know theology is sometimes worse that working your way through a legal contract.  That is why so many theologians over the years were lawyers.  Scofield was a lawyer.  Darby was a lawyer.  Calvin was a lawyer.  Armenias was a lawyer.  All of these guys were lawyers.  I hope we aren't too tainted by all that legal stuff.

 

This is the Greek word pas.  It is the neuter plural accusative.  It doesn't have the definite article but nevertheless it means all things.  Then in the commentary the writer of Hebrews says that God the Father put all things.  Here you have the phrase ta panta.  Ta is the definite article. Again it is a neuter plural.  You put all things.  If it was masculine or feminine it would relate to people but here it is a neuter. It is talking about all things.  Is that everything without exception?  Every microscopic particle in the universe is going to be in subjection to Christ.  There won't be any area that is not.  Every microscopic particle, every subatomic particle is going to be in subjection under Him.  That is Christ. 

 

He (God the Father) left nothing that is not put under Him.  Notice the double negative again.  In other words everything is put under Him.  He is reinforcing and emphasizing that every single particle of the universe everything in every detail is put under the authority of Jesus Christ.

 

But now we don't see that visually in terms of our own empirical data.  The phrase there "but now" is the Greek word nun de.  It is the Greek now - at this present time.  So there is a contrast that positionally everything has been put under subjection to Christ but now, that is right now in this age, we do not yet see this. 

 

The word that is translated see is the Greek horao.  The present active indicative of the verb means to perceive, to be aware, and to observe.  So what this is talking about is we don't have direct observation of this right now.  It hasn't happened yet.  It will happen when He comes back at the Second Coming, but we don't see it now.  In other words the whole Kingdom Now theology that dominates many of the charismatic churches today and is what under girds the whole theology of most people don't understand is that this came out of a theological matrix that came out of the 60's and 70's in charismatic churches.  It is called Dominion Theology or Kingdom Now theology.  Because we are living in some form of the kingdom now, you have kingdom power.  Praise God!  You can claim the power of the Holy Spirit and you can have dominion over everything.  You can speak in faith.  You need to take dominion over everything in faith.  I keep wondering what happened to the Kingdom Now health and wealth boys in New Orleans last week?  We haven't heard a lot from them.  That is because their theology got blown away in the hurricane.  It is gone with the wind. (I wish.)  The point is that we are not in a form of the kingdom right now.  We don't have that kingdom power today.  You can't take dominion over things in the name of Jesus today.  That is horrible theology.  It comes out of paganism and post-millennialism.  So we don't yet see all things put under Him.  But we do see something in verse 9.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:9 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, might taste death for everyone.

 

We see Jesus.  It is a different Greek word.  This is one thing that aggravates me today in scholarly academic circles.  You will find that these guys that come out of Dallas Seminary have two different words for "see".  Back here you have horao and over here you have blepo.  What is the difference?  In a lot of places there isn't a lot of difference.  But when you have them this close together we ought to think if you believe in the inerrancy of the Scripture that every word is inspired by God the Holy Spirit that God is making a point of a difference.  But what you have today is that people come along and say that the writer didn't want to use the same word over and over again so this is just a stylistic variation.  What they have just done is diluted the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility by this pusillanimous approach to language that has its roots in postmodern linguistic theory.  It is so subtle that most of these guys because they don't have a good framework from the Scriptures they don't understand that they are picking up these ideas.  They throw out these ideas because it sounds so sophisticated and avante guarde.  We aren't going to draw tight little lines of doctrine.  It sounds so good but it is hogwash. When their generation of students goes into the lecterns and pulpits of our country they water down theology.  No one pays attention to the basic language structure of the New Testament.  They still produce Greek and Hebrew scholars because they think that is what they ought to do but these guys are coming out of seminary with knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and not knowing how to use it.  It is a tragedy of our times.  You will go and talk to some professor at Dallas Seminary and they will say it is not true.  It is just the blind leading the blind.

 

The word "we see" is the word blepoBlepo and horao can overlap a lot.  That is what synonyms do.  The reason they are synonyms is because there is a shade of difference between any two synonyms.  That is why you choose one word over the other.  One word over the other is to emphasize that fine nuance of difference between the two. The idea here is that what we see with our minds.  What we understand.  What we perceive.  You see we don't literally empirically see Jesus operating now in history as the king.  But we do understand and we do know what happened to Jesus at the ascension.  That is the difference.  So "see" here has almost the nuance of knowing.  We don't see all things subjected to Him. But we do know that He is crowned with glory and honor.  What is interesting in this verse is that you have an extremely complicated jumble of clauses in the Greek.  I am going to try to uncomplicate it for you so you can see what the flow of thought is.  Let's just take it one step at a time.  We see Jesus made a little lower than the angels. Now this is almost a parenthetical clause.  Why do you think it is put in there?  Because it is explaining in this relative clause who Jesus is.  It connects the Jesus of verse 9 to the man who is made a little lower than the angels in the first line in verse 7.  This is good writing.  He wants to make sure that you understand that the Jesus is talking about that representative man that he just referred to.  The same verbiage is used of Jesus who is made a little lower than the angels. 

 

The next phrase is "for the suffering of death". Now in the Greek that is thrown up to the front of the clause.  It is the preposition dia plus the accusative of pathema that means to suffer.  Dia plus the accusative emphasizes the idea of cause.  So it should be translated: "because the suffering of death." 

 

Now do you notice anything different?  Jesus who is made a little lower than the angels because of the suffering of death.  That makes it sound like the causal statement is related to His being made lower than the angels.  In English if you leave it where it is, you don't understand what the writer is saying.  What he is saying is that He is crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. What came first?  The suffering of death or the crown?  The suffering of death.  Then He is crowned with glory and honor. 

 

That word translated "crowned" is a perfect passive participle.  So this is where it gets a little complicated.  The perfect tense always means a completed, finished action.  A participle's action is always related to the main verb. Now the main verb is the verb is that word "receive".  So that means the crowning precedes the seeing.  The "now" is around 65 AD. Now we see Jesus who has been crowned.  When is He crowned with glory and honor?  At the ascension.  He is crowned with glory and honor at the ascension.  The verb stephanao means to crown with a victor's crown. 

 

Literal translation:  But now we see Jesus who has been crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death

 

That is the thought flow. Now let me try to put it up here like this.  This diagrams the sentence for you. 

 

But we see Jesus who is made lower than the angels. That is all related.  This defines Jesus and relates Him to Psalm 8.

 

The phrase "having been crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death" is parenthetical.  It relates to seeing.  We see Jesus.  We see Jesus now and He has been crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. 

 

Then we come to the last phrase. 

 

Now what does that last clause relate to suffering death?  That is where it gets confusing if you look at the English.  The main line of thought is that we see Jesus lower than the angels that He might taste death as a substitute for everyone by the grace of God.  The last phrase explains the purpose for His being made lower than the angels.  It is so that He could taste death for everyone.  Now what does that phrase mean?  Taste death is a Semitism, a Hebrew idiom. It is not a Greek idiom.  There was a phrase used by the rabbis called taste the cup of death.  It was an allusion to the harsh reality of a violent death. 

 

Now when we use in English the word taste we think of taking a little morsel.  You go to HEB or Central Market on a Saturday and they have all of these little samples out everywhere.  And you take a taste.  You get a little sample.  It is just a little bit.  That is not what this means in the Semitic idiom.  It doesn't mean that He saw a little bit of death.  It means He experienced the complete human death.  That's the thrust of the idiom.  It means to experience something in its fullest. So the term to taste death doesn't mean something small.  It means to fully experience death.

 

What kind of death?  It is the death related to the penalty of sin, spiritual death.  Genesis 2:7 The instant you eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will certainly die. Physical death is not what occurred then.  Spiritual death occurred there.  There was separation.  Physical death is a consequence of spiritual death.  So Jesus Christ tasted and experienced death for everyone. 

 

Now that is where we get into an interesting word.  The word for everyone is the same word for all, pas.  But here it is in the masculine, pantas.  When we had the neuter in verse 8 we had all things in subjection.  But when it shifts to masculine it talks about everyone.  All can change meanings.  All can have a restrictive sense.  When John says that all the Jews in Judea went out to see John the Baptist.  Do you think that every single Jew in Judea went trotting down to the Jordan?  No.  We use all that way many times.  We use "all" meaning most.  The Bible does too.  That is how language is used. But in this case because of the context the argument  is that because of what Christ did on the cross, all things are put in subjection to Him and He is made lower than the angels (the whole purpose for the quote) in order that He can taste death for all because that is related to His future authority over all.  So you don't just take this verse and isolate it for an argument for unlimited atonement that He died for everybody.  We have to put it in the overall context of the section.  That makes it even stronger.  The whole thrust here is on the universality of what Christ did that He truly experienced death( huper plus the genitive) as a substitute for everyone by the grace of God.  That's the underlying factor.  Grace is the unmerited act of God in providing a Savior.  We have talked about salvation.  We have talked about the core problem of sin.  The solution is unlimited atonement. 

 

I want to go back to hit some of these passages of Scripture that reinforce the fact that Christ's death was for all. 

 

Doctrine of Unlimited Atonement. 

 

The question or the theological issue that has come up:  Did Christ die only for the elect the few or did He die for all?  I am not going into all the details but Calvin clearly believed that Christ died for everyone.  He believed in unlimited atonement.  Calvin was not a 5-point Calvinist.  That has been demonstrated through numerous scholarly studies.  But that is the issue.  It came up out of a system of theology called Arminianism.  We are not talking about Armenians who are starving.  We are talking about Arminians who do not believe in eternal security.  The Arminians were theologians out of the Netherlands following a man named Jacobus Arminias.  They held and postulated to five basic points about salvation.  Not everyone is condemned by Adam's sin.  Right away we disagree with them.  It was an integrated theological system.  They didn't' believe in total depravity.  They believed in a conditional election based on works.  Consequently they didn't believe in eternal security. You could lose your salvation.  A number of things like that.  So five point Calvinism was really a reaction to 5 point Arminianism.  Their response was that Christ died only for the elect.  They over systematized their theological conclusions.  So the question came up, did Christ die for all without exception?  Did He die for every single human being? Or, did He die only for the elect?  That would be without distinction between Jew and Gentile. 

 

Now one problem that you run into here is the meaning of the word substitution.  What does it mean that He tasted death for everyone?  Was it real or hypothetical?  Do you want to pay for your sins or do you want Jesus to pay for your sins?  You'll find this in all kinds of tracts.  If I can pay for my sins, then Jesus didn't pay for them.  What you end up with is limited atonement.

 

Here is the scenario.  Jesus died only for the elect.  You end up with a guy sitting in the Lake of Fire roasting and toasting.  Jesus didn't die for my sins so I am paying for them now.  That is limited atonement.  The way unlimited atonement it is often expressed is that you can pay for your sins or Jesus will pay for them. He died for your sins but if you don't accept it then it's not paid.  What happens is that I am sitting here and saying, "Well the evangelist told me that Jesus paid for my sins but I didn't accept it so now I am paying for it."  That means that Jesus didn't actually die for them.  How does that differ from limited atonement?  You see it really doesn't.  It doesn't differ from limited atonement at all because Christ really didn't pay for your sins.  The verbiage that we have here in Hebrews 2:9 that He didn't taste death for everyone if you believe. So what I have done is gone back and looked there are three foundational doctrines in salvation. It says that Christ paid for all of it.  It is related to redemption, propitiation and reconciliation. Let us look at the verses quickly. 

 

NKJ 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

 

The context is reconciliation. 

 

Did they all die or just hypothetically depending on your volition?

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

The "all" in verse 4 means that God desires every single human being to be saved. 

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 2:6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

 

What ransom?  What terminology is that?  What doctrine is that?  It is redemption.  He paid the price.

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

 

How much clearer could it be?

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

 

NKJ 2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

 

What kind of terminology is "bought them"?  It is redemption again. 

 

NKJ 1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

 

As an unbeliever you get three problems or reasons you can't get into heaven.

 

  1. You are a sinner.  There is a penalty for sin.
  2. You are spiritually dead.  You have no human spirit.
  3. You don't possess the righteousness of God. 

 

Propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption are all said to be for all men.  You have three reasons you can't get into heaven.  Reason number one is that you are a sinner.  There is a penalty for sin.  Reason number two is that because you are spiritually dead.  You are born that way.  You have no human spirit.  Reason number three is that you don't possess the righteousness of God.  When Christ paid the penalty for sin for every human being, He eradicated the first problem, the problem of the penalty of sin.  He paid the penalty for everybody.  Now we have just two problems.  Problem number 1 - you are spiritually dead.  Problem number 2 – you lack perfect righteousness.  You only get those if you trust in Christ.  When you trust in Christ you are regenerated so that you are spiritually alive.  The perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to you and God declares you perfectly righteous.  The reality is that Christ did some things for everybody but there are applications of the atonement that come only if you trust in Him.  So therefore you can say that Christ actually and truly paid the penalty for everybody's sin.  He tasted death for everyone - not hypothetically but truly.

 

The issue at the Great White Throne Judgment is perfect righteousness.  All the works will be piled up.  Do they equal the righteousness of Christ?  Everybody will fall short.  So condemnation is because they don't believe.  Why? Because by belief you get righteousness in regeneration. It is not because you didn't believe.  It's not that act of not believing that is the reason that you are condemned.  It is because you don't get the results of belief that is regeneration and righteousness. Without regeneration and righteousness you can't get into heaven.  Faith is the means of appropriating that and getting regeneration and righteousness. I think this resolves this debate a lot better than I have read it in other places.  Hopefully this will help you think these things through a little more precisely and clearly. 

 

This is the thrust.  Jesus was made lower than the angels so that He could fulfill the original destiny of man but in order to fulfill it in His glorification He had to first go through the process of solving the problem that was sin by going to the cross and tasting of death for every man.  That lays the foundation for the spiritual life that is where we go in verse 10.  We will begin there next time.