In Hebrews 2, we come across the first of several passages which offer a warning or an admonition to the reader. Specifically, verse 3 warns against neglecting the salvation found in Jesus Christ alone. The position of angels still makes itself known in the text. The word “angel” in English results from an importation of the Greek word angelos (ahn-GELL-ahs) into our language. The word just means “messenger.” These supernatural spirit beings served as God’s deliverers of his word in times past. In a lesser-to-greater argument, the author states if the messages of God mediated through angels carried their just consequences, the word coming directly from the mouth of God incarnate will certainly carry its own effects.
You see, the angels did not receive stewardship of the present world, nor have they the promise of receiving authority over the next. The author introduces a quotation from Psalm 8, and presses it in service of his point. Though lower than God, insignificant by comparison and made lower in power and ability than angels, God placed his authority in mankind to reign over the rest of Creation.
The psalm harkens back to Genesis 2:15,19-20. God placed a regent, a steward in to his good creation, the man, Adam. Rather than name the animals personally or cultivate the Garden by his own direct action, God delegated the authority to Adam. Adam’s authority rested on God’s selection of him for the task. Adam did not stand as an autonomous authority, but he possessed charge over God’s creation. Though insignificant in comparison to the almighty Creator, God placed Adam over the world to oversee it.
The author of Hebrews uses the text in a way which points to Christ. Jesus often used the charged term, Son of Man, to reference himself (see Daniel 7 for the background of the term), and Hebrews draws together the stewardship of Man over the earth with the incarnation of the Son as a man. Jesus, a man, the Man, rules over the universe with all things subjected to him. Including the quote from Psalm 8, v. 8 of the text states the matter four times. The last declaration indicates our lack of ability to see all things in subjection to Christ, but it lets us know the proposition still stands—the world has a ruler: Jesus Christ.
V. 9 brings the whole thing together: we do not see the world as subject yet (though it is), but we do see Christ. Not physically, of course, but we see and understand he took on the flesh of humanity, making himself lower than his own creations, the angels. In so doing, in suffering the death he died, he won the right to serve as the head of all mankind. Though the Son stood as the second member of the Trinity, God from eternity past, he entered space and time and walked the dusty roads of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea as a man. He died for all kinds of people, great and small, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. Because of this, his right to reign permits no question. What he owned in his sovereignty as God, he also earned by his life as a man.
So we return to the warning of the first four verses of the chapter. What does our author mean to communicate? Recall, the readers of this letter suffer persecution in social, religious, and perhaps political spheres. Their claim of the name of Christ for themselves placed them in the way of physical harm.
Our author indicates those who would seek to harm the people of Christ will have to reckon with him, for he has subjected them to himself, though they do not yet see the truth of this. So it goes with his people as well—if they desert him, they abandon the one who rules over them. The one who died the death deserved all peoples calls out, “Come to me. I am coming quickly. Be found in my grace and receive the blessing of wrath already borne.”