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 honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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(9) But we see Jesus . . .—Rather, But we see Him who has been made a little lower than angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour. There is One in whom the divine purpose is fulfilled in all its parts. He was made a little (the rendering of the margin, “a little while,” is much less probable) lower than angels, and He is crowned with glory. In one point we note an apparent departure from the sense of the Psalm, since words (“a little lower”) which there denote dignity here denote humiliation. This difference is not essential; in each case it is the position of man that is signified, and our Lord’s assumption of human nature must in any case be spoken of as a descent to a lower sphere. There is peculiar fitness in the use of the human name, Jesus, for Him in whom the Psalmist’s words concerning man are literally fulfilled. It is noteworthy that we do not read, “We see all things put in subjection unto Jesus”—this would conflict with the truth stated in Hebrews 10:13 : other words of the Psalm are substituted, which do not imply that the complete actual subjection is already accomplished. This exaltation of One is not a substitute for, but involves (Romans 8:17; Romans 8:29, et al.), and renders possible, the exaltation of the many. This is clear from the “not yet” of Hebrews 2:8; and the same truth is brought out in a different form at the close of this verse. In the midst of this application of the words of Scripture to Jesus, the writer introduces his first reference to His death. The offence of the cross (Galatians 5:11) was an ever-active force among Jews; this is present to the writer’s mind throughout the Epistle. The words thus suddenly brought in here, reminding us that the exaltation of Christ was a reward for His obedience unto death (another echo of St. Paul—Philippians 2:9-10; see also Hebrews 12:2), prepare for the more detailed teaching of the following verses—Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 2:14-15; Hebrews 2:17.

There is an apparent difficulty in the position of the last clause of the verse, “that He should taste death for every man.” We cannot doubt that these words depend on those which immediately precede; and yet how can it be said that Jesus has been crowned with glory in order that He may “taste death for every man”? Almost all difficulty is removed if we consider that (to use Dean Alford’s words) “it is on the triumphant issue of His sufferings that their efficacy depends.” But it is impossible for the Christian to separate, even in thought, the one from the other—the sufferings from the certain triumph. We might, perhaps, say that it is only by a misuse of human analogies that we separate them even in time: in the Gospel of St. John, at all events (if not in this very Epistle—see Hebrews 2:14), we are taught that in His crucifixion Jesus is exalted. This clause, then, brings us back to the thought of the glory reserved for man: through death the fulfilment of God’s purpose might seem to be frustrated; through the death of Jesus on behalf of every man (1Peter 3:18) it is fulfilled. The outline presented here is filled up in later chapters; there we shall read that man’s inheritance was forfeited through sin, and that only through the virtue of a death which made atonement for sin is the promise again made sure (Hebrews 9:15-16; Hebrews 9:28). To “taste death” is a familiar Hebraism. If it has any special significance here, it would seem less natural to see (with Chrysostom) a reference to the short duration of our Saviour’s death, than to understand the words as pointing to the actual taste of all the bitterness of death. (Comp. Hebrews 6:4-5.)

One various reading it is impossible to pass by, though it is preserved in but two of our Greek MSS., and these of no early date. For “by the grace of God” many (apparently most) copies of the Epistle that were known to Origen read “apart from God.” This reading was followed by others of the Fathers, and found its way into some manuscripts of early versions. The Nestorians gladly accepted words which to them seemed to teach that in suffering the man Jesus was apart from God. Origen and others understood the words differently, as meaning, taste death for every being except God. (Comp. 1Corinthians 15:27.) A reading so widely known, which in later times has been favoured by as eminent a critic as Bengel, demanded notice, though it is almost certainly incorrect. No interpretation which the words admit yields a probable sense; on the other hand, the reference to “the grace of God” is full of significance. (See Hebrews 2:4; Hebrews 2:10.)

2:5-9 Neither the state in which the church is at present, nor its more completely restored state, when the prince of this world shall be cast out, and the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of Christ, is left to the government of the angels: Christ will take to him his great power, and will reign. And what is the moving cause of all the kindness God shows to men in giving Christ for them and to them? it is the grace of God. As a reward of Christ's humiliation in suffering death, he has unlimited dominion over all things; thus this ancient scripture was fulfilled in him. Thus God has done wonderful things for us in creation and providence, but for these we have made the basest returns.But we see Jesus - We do not see that mankind has the extended dominion of which the Psalmist speaks elsewhere. But we see the fulfillment of it in Jesus, who was crowned with glory and honor, and who has received a dominion that is superior to that of the angels. The point of this is, not that he suffered, and not that he tasted death for every man; but that "on account of this," or "as a reward" for thus suffering, he was crowned with glory and honor, and that he thus fulfilled all that David Psalm 8:1-9 had said of the dignity and honor of man. The object of the apostle is, to show that he was "exalted," and in order to this he shows why it was - to wit, because he had suffered death to redeem man; compare Philippians 2:8-9.

Who was made a little lower than the angels. - That is, as a man, or when on earth. His assumed rank was inferior to that of the angels. He took upon himself not the nature of angels Hebrews 2:16, but the nature of man. The apostle is probably here answering some implied objections to the rank which it was claimed that the Lord Jesus had, or which might be urged to the views which he was defending. These objections were mainly two. First, that Jesus was a man; and secondly, that he suffered and died. If that was the fact, it was natural to ask how he could be superior to the angels? How could he have had the rank which was claimed for him? This he answers by showing first, that his condition as a man was "voluntarily" assumed - "he was made lower than the angels;" and secondly, by showing that as a consequence of his sufferings and death, he was immediately crowned with glory and honor. This state of humiliation became him in the great work which he had undertaken, and he was immediately exalted to universal dominion, and as Mediator was raised to a rank far above the angels.

For the suffering of death. - Margin, "By." The meaning of the preposition rendered here "for" (διὰ dia, here governing the accusative) is, "on account of;" that is, Jesus on account of the sufferings of death, or in virtue of that, was crowned with glory and honor. His crowning was the result of his condescension and sufferings; see notes, Philippians 2:8-9. It does not here mean, as our translation would seem to imply, that he was made a little lower than the angels in order to suffer death, but that as a reward for having suffered death he was raised up to the right hand of God.

Crowned with glory and honor. - That is, at the right hand of God. He was raised up to heaven; Acts 2:33; Mark 16:19. The meaning is, that he was crowned with the highest honor on account of his sufferings; compare Philippians 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:2; Hebrews 5:7-9; Ephesians 1:20-23.

That he - . Or rather, "since he by the grace of God tasted death for every man." The sense is, that after he had thus tasted death, and as a consequence of it, he was thus exalted. The word rendered here "that" - ὅπως hopōs - means usually and properly "that, so that, in order that, to the end that," etc. But it may also mean "when, after that, after;" see the notes at Acts 3:19. This is the interpretation which is given by Prof. Stuart (in loc.), and this interpretation seems to be demanded by the connection. The general interpretation of the passage has been different. According to that, the sense is, "We see Jesus, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, so as that, by the grace of God, he might taste of death for every man;" see Robinson's Lexicon on the word ὅπως hopōs, and Doddridge on the place. But it is natural to ask when Jesus was thus crowned with glory and honor? It was not before the crucifixion - for he was then poor and despised. The connection seems to require us to understand this of the glory to which he was exalted in heaven, and this was after his death, and could not be in order that he might taste of death. I am disposed, therefore, to regard this as teaching that the Lord Jesus was exalted to heaven in virtue of the atonement which he had made, and this accords with Philippians 2:8-9, and Hebrews 12:2. It accords both with "the fact" in the case, and with the design of the apostle in the argument before us.

By the grace of God - By the favor of God, or by his benevolent purpose toward people. It was not by any claim which man had, but was by his special favor.

Should taste death - Should die; or should experience death; see Matthew 16:28. Death seems to be represented as something bitter and unpalatable - something unpleasant - as an object may be to the taste. Or the language may be taken from a cup - since to experience calamity and sorrow is often represented as drinking a cup of woes; Psalm 11:6; Psalm 73:10; Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Matthew 20:22; Matthew 26:39.

For every man - For all - Ὑπὲρ παντὸς Huper pantos - for each and all - whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free, high or low, elect or non-elect. How could words affirm more clearly that the atonement made by the Lord Jesus was unlimited in its nature and design? How can we express that idea in more clear or intelligible language? That this refers to the atonement is evident - for it says that he "tasted death" for them. The friends of the doctrine of general atonement do not desire any other than Scripture language in which to express their belief. It expresses it exactly - without any need of modification or explanation. The advocates of the doctrine of limited atonement cannot thus use Scripture language to express their belief. They cannot incorporate it with their creeds that the Lord Jesus "tasted death for every man." They are compelled to modify it, to limit it, to explain it, in order to prevent error and misconception. But that system cannot be true which requires people to shape and modify the plain language of the Bible in order to keep people from error! compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:14, where this point is considered at length.

(With the author's views on the doctrine of atonement we accord in the main; yet are here tempted to ask if the advocates of universal atonement would not be under the like necessity, of explaining, modifying, or "extending," such passages as limit, or seem to limit, the atonement of Christ; and if in framing a creed, the advantage would not lie about equal on either side? Neither party would be contented to set down in it those scriptures which seemed least favorable to themselves without note or explanation. If this remark appears unjust, in as much as the universalist could admit into his creed, that "Christ laid down his life for the sheep," though at the same time he believed further, that he laid it down not for them only, nay, not for them in any special sense "more than for others;" let it be observed that the limitation could just as well admit into his, that "Christ tasted death for every man," or for all people, (Υπερ παντος Huper pantos) though he might believe further, not for all specially, not for all efficaciously, or with Prof. Stuart on the place, not for all universally, but "for all without distinction" that is, both Jew and Gentile. It is indeed difficult to say on which side explanation would be most needed.

In the case of the limited passage it would require to be observed first, that the atonement extended further than it intimated, and besides, that there was no special reference to the parties specified, the sheep, namely. There would be required, in truth, both extension and limitation, that is, if a creed were to be made, or a full view of opinion given. They seem to come nearest the truth on this subject, who deny neither the general nor special aspect of the atonement. On the one hand there is a large class of "universal passages," which cannot be satisfactorily explained on any other principle than what regards the atonement as a great remedial plan, that rendered it consistent with the divine honor, to extend mercy to guilty people at large, and which would have been equally requisite had there been an intention to save one, or millions; numbers indeed not forming any part of the question. On the other hand, there is a large class of "special" texts, which cannot be explained without admitting, that while this atonement has reference to all, "yet God in providing it had a special design to save his people by it;" see the whole subject fully discussed, on the author's note referred to above, and in the supplementary note, on the same passages, which contains a digest of the more recent controversies on the point.)

Hence, learn Hebrews 2:6-9, from the incarnation of the Son of God, and his exaltation to heaven, what an honor has been conferred on human nature. When we look on the weakness and sinfulness of our race, we may well ask, what is man that God should honor him or regard him? He is the creature of a day. He is feeble and dying. He is lost and degraded. Compared with the universe at large, he is a speck, an atom. He has done nothing to deserve the divine favor or notice, and when we look at the race at large we can do it only with sentiments of the deepest humiliation and mortification. But when we looker human nature in the person of the Lord Jesus, we see it honored there to a degree that is commensurate with all our desires, and that fills us with wonder. We feel that it is an honor to human nature - that it has done much to elevate man - when we look on such a man as Howard or Washington. But how much more has that nature been honored in the person of the Lord Jesus!

(1) what an honor to us it was that he should take our nature into intimate union with himself - passing by the angelic hosts, and becoming a man!

(2) what an honor it was that human nature there was so pure and holy; that "man" - everywhere else so degraded and vile - "could" be seen to be noble, and pure, and godlike!

(3) what an honor it was that the divinity should speak to people in connection with human nature, and perform such wonderful works - that the pure precepts of religion should come forth from human lips - the great doctrines of eternal life be uttered by "a man," and that from human hands should go forth power to heal the sick and to raise the dead!


9. But—We see not man as yet exercising lordship over all things, "but rather, Him who was made a little lower than the angels (compare Lu 22:43), we behold (by faith: a different Greek verb from that for 'we see,' Heb 2:8, which expresses the impression which our eyes passively receive from objects around us; whereas, 'we behold,' or 'look at,' implies the direction and intention of one deliberately regarding something which he tries to see: so Heb 3:19; 10:25, Greek), namely, Jesus, on account of His suffering of death, crowned," &c. He is already crowned, though unseen by us, save by faith; hereafter all things shall be subjected to Him visibly and fully. The ground of His exaltation is "on accoumt of His having suffered death" (Heb 2:10; Php 2:8, 9).

that he by the grace of God—(Tit 2:11; 3:4). The reading of Origen, "That He without God" (laying aside His Divinity; or, for every being save God: or perhaps alluding to His having been temporarily "forsaken," as the Sin-bearer, by the Father on the cross), is not supported by the manuscripts. The "that," &c., is connected with "crowned with glory," &c., thus: His exaltation after sufferings is the perfecting or consummation of His work (Heb 2:10) for us: without it His death would have been ineffectual; with it, and from it, flows the result that His tasting of death is available for (in behalf of, for the good of) every man. He is crowned as the Head in heaven of our common humanity, presenting His blood as the all-prevailing plea for us. This coronation above makes His death applicable for every individual man (observe the singular; not merely "for all men"), Heb 4:14; 9:24; 1Jo 2:2. "Taste death" implies His personal experimental undergoing of death: death of the body, and death (spiritually) of the soul, in His being forsaken of the Father. "As a physician first tastes his medicines to encourage his sick patient to take them, so Christ, when all men feared death, in order to persuade them to be bold in meeting it, tasted it Himself, though He had no need" [Chrysostom]. (Heb 2:14, 15).

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels: this second application of the psalmist’s words demonstrates Jesus, the gospel Prophet, to be the man or Adam intended by the Spirit there; and his humiliation and exaltation to be the matter asserted of him: see Hebrews 2:7.

For the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: the reason or end of his diminution, in respect of angels, for a little while, and of the necessity of his being man, was, that he might be crucified and die, Philippians 2:7-11, and thereby merit for himself a crown of honour and glory. This was given him for his giving himself to be a sacrifice for sin, and by his own blood to expiate it.

That he by the grace of God; the principle determining, which was God’s good pleasure; he alone, out of his free love and favour to sinners, ordered this, as John 3:16 1Jo 4:9. Therefore the Hebrews had no reason of being offended with him as they were, 1 Corinthians 1:23.

Should taste death; a metaphor to express to die as a sacrifice, making satisfaction to Divine justice, and expiating sins, Isaiah 53:10. All his sufferings in body and soul, which were many and bitter, are here intended, and their completion by death, Matthew 26:39,42, intimating by his taste of this deadly cup, his sipping of it, but not having swallowed it: and it is a metaphor allusive to the Grecian customs, who put men to death by giving them a cup of poison, as the Athenians executed Socrates.

For every man; to render sin remissible to all persons, and them salvable, God punishing man’s sin in him, and laying on him the iniquities of us all, Isaiah 53:4-6 1Jo 2:2; and so God became propitious and pleasable to all; and if all are not saved by it, it is because they do not repent and believe in him, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21: compare John 10:15. This was evident to and well known by these Hebrews, as if they saw it, the work, concomitants, and effects of it demonstrating it. And this now in the gospel is evident to faith: it was so certainly visible and evidently true, as not to be denied but by infidels.

But we see Jesus,.... Not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the mind, and understanding; that he is Jesus, as the Syriac version reads; and that he is designed in the above words; and that he has all things made subject unto him; and that he was humbled, and now exalted, as follows:

who was made a little lower than the angels; in his state of humiliation; See Gill on Hebrews 2:7.

for the suffering of death: this clause may be considered either as connected with the preceding; and then the sense is, that Jesus became lower than the angels, by, or through suffering death; in that respect he was lower than they, who die not; this proved him to be in a condition below them, and showed how pertinent the above words were to him, and how they were fulfilled in him: or with the following; and then the meaning is, that because Jesus suffered death in the room and stead of his people; humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, when he was very low indeed, therefore he is

crowned with glory and honour; see Philippians 2:8 and See Gill on Hebrews 2:7.

that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man; that is, Christ was made a little lower than the angels by becoming man, and assuming a body frail and mortal, that he might die for his church and people: to "taste death", is a Jewish phrase, often to be met with in Rabbinical writings; See Gill on Matthew 16:28 and signifies the truth and reality of his death, and the experience he had of the bitterness of it, it being attended with the wrath of God, and curse of the law; though he continued under it but for a little while, it was but a taste; and it includes all kinds of death, he tasted of the death of afflictions, being a man of sorrows all his days, and a corporeal death, and what was equivalent to an eternal one; and so some think the words will bear to be rendered, "that he by the grace of God might taste of every death"; which rendering of the words, if it could be established, as it is agreeable to the context, and to the analogy of faith, would remove all pretence of an argument from this place, in favour of the universal scheme: what moved God to make him lower than the angels, and deliver him up to death, was not any anger towards him, any disregard to him, or because he deserved it, but his "grace", free favour, and love to men; this moved him to provide him as a ransom; to preordain him to be the Lamb slain; to send him in the fulness of time, and give him up to justice and death: the Syriac version reads, "for God himself through his own grace tasted death for all"; Christ died, not merely as an example, or barely for the good of men, but as a surety, in their room and stead, and that not for every individual of mankind; for there are some he knows not; for some he does not pray; and there are some who will not be saved: the word "man" is not in the original text, it is only , which may be taken either collectively, and be rendered "for the whole"; that is, the whole body, the church for whom Christ gave himself, and is the Saviour of; or distributively, and be translated, "for everyone"; for everyone of the sons God brings to glory, Hebrews 2:10 for everyone of the "brethren", whom Christ sanctifies, and he is not ashamed to own, and to whom he declares the name of God, Hebrews 2:11 for everyone of the members of the "church", in the midst of which he sung praise, Hebrews 2:12 for every one of the "children" God has given him, and for whose sake he took part of flesh and blood, Hebrews 2:13 and for everyone of the "seed" of Abraham, in a spiritual sense, whose nature he assumed, Hebrews 2:16.

{6} But we {l} see Jesus, who was made a little {m} lower than the angels {7} for the {n} suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should {o} taste death for {8} every man.

(6) The answer: this is already fulfilled in Jesus Christ our head, who was temporarily for our sakes inferior to the angels, being made man: but now is advanced into most high glory.

(l) By his virtue and power which appears revealed in the Church.

(m) Who abased himself for a time, and took the position of a servant.

(7) He shows the cause of this subjection, that is, to taste death for our sakes, that in so doing the part of a redeemer, he might not only be our Prophet and King, but also our High Priest.

(n) That he might die.

(o) Feel death.

(8) In this exists the force of the argument: for we could not eventually be glorified with him, unless he was abased for us, even for all the elect. By this event the apostle comes to the other part of the declaration of Christ's person, in which he proved him to be God and also man.

Hebrews 2:9. Proof that, notwithstanding the circumstances just mentioned, the matter itself which has been asserted is perfectly true. Certainly we do not, at the present moment, as yet see all things made subject to Christ, the Son of man; but we do see Him already crowned with glory and honour, in that after suffering and dying He has been exalted to the right hand of the Father. From the reality of the one, however, which we see, follows of necessity the reality of the other, which we do not yet see. For if the word of Scripture: δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, has already been fulfilled in His case, there can be no kind of doubt but in like manner also the further word of Scripture: πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, inseparably connected as it is with the former, has already attained its realization in Him.

The words of Hebrews 2:9 have undergone a strange misinterpretation on the part of Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 45 ff. 2 Aufl.). As Hofmann with regard to Hebrews 2:7 already denies that the two members of the sentence in that verse: ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους and δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, form in the mind of the writer an opposition to each other, so just as little is the writer in Hebrews 2:9 supposed to have had present to his mind in connection with τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον the humiliation of Christ, and with δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον the exaltation of Christ. Hebrews 2:9 is thought rather to refer exclusively to the Jesus “living in the flesh,” and the connection is thus explained: “Far from its being the case that we see all things subjected to man, He, on the contrary, of whom that which the psalm speaks of man holds good in full truth, Jesus namely, stands before our eyes in a position of divine appointment, as such demanded by the existing calamity of death, which, according to Hebrews 2:14, makes the devil a ruler and us bondsmen.” For by βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένος there is reference made, in the opinion of Hofmann, to the person of man, of which the psalm is treating, with regard to the dignity belonging thereto as conferred by God,—inasmuch as βραχύ τι is to be taken of degree,—but by τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου is indicated the misfortune consisting in death itself, and not his suffering of death; and δόξα καὶ τιμή finally expresses, according to Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 5:4-5, the glorious character of his position by virtue of his vocation. The sense of Hebrews 2:9, then, is supposed to be: “What He, in whom the wealth of human nature has appeared in full truth, denotes and represents on the part of God,—for the former is meant by τιμή, the latter by δόξα,—that He denotes and represents, for the reason that mankind is obnoxious to the suffering of death, and to the end that He might taste a death which should redound unto good for every one!” See, on the other hand, the remarks of Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 333 ff., note.

τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττω μένον is the object, and δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον the predicate to βλέπομεν, while Ἰησοῦν is the appositional nearer definition of the object brought in only at the close. The sense thus is: “But we do indeed see the one for a time abased below the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour.” Wrongly others: “As the one for a time abased below the angels do we recognise Jesus, who is crowned with glory and honour.” For, in order to express this thought, Ἰησοῦν τὸνἐστεφανωμένον must have been placed. Wrongly likewise Ebrard, with whom Delitzsch agrees in substance, who takes Ἰησοῦν as object, ἠλαττωμένον as adjectival attribute to Ἰησοῦν, and ἐστεφανωμένον as predicate to the object. The sense then is: “mankind is not yet exalted; but Jesus, who was indeed abased for a while below the angels, we see already crowned with glory and honour.” This construction, which at any rate rests upon the false supposition that the subject of discourse, Hebrews 2:6-8, is not already Christ, the Son of man, but only man in general, and that the author of the epistle had regarded as fully identical the two utterances of the psalm: δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν, and πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, would only be permissible in the case that Ἰησοῦν δέ, τὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον, βλέπομεν κ.τ.λ., or τὸν δὲ βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον Ἰησοῦν βλέπομεν κ.τ.λ., had been written. By the position of the Ἰησοῦν after βλέπομεν it becomes impossible; since in consequence thereof Ἰησοῦν appears as entirely unaccentuated, consequently can be regarded only as a supplementary addition by way of elucidation with regard to the question who is to be understood by the ὁ βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένος. Ἰησοῦν might even have been entirely left out without detriment to the sense and intelligibility of that which the author would imply; it is nevertheless inserted, in order, by the express mention of His name, to cut off every kind of doubt upon the point that it is no other than Christ, the historic Redeemer, of whom the citation adduced, Hebrews 2:6-8, is treating.

βλέπομεν] we see, perceive; namely, with the eyes of the mind; comp. Hebrews 3:19, al. For it is openly testified that Christ rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven; and Christians feel that He is reigning in power and glory by means of the Holy Spirit, which He has conferred upon them.

διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου] on account of His suffering of death, belongs not to βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον (Origen, in Joann. t. ii. c. 6; Augustine, contra Maximin. Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5; Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Beza, Schlichting, Cornelius a Lapide, Cameron, Calov, Limborch, Semler, al.), but to δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον (Luther, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, Böhme, Bleek, Tholuck, de Wette, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 357; Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, and many others). Only this mode of referring the clause has the merit of naturalness from the position of the words; only this is grammatically and logically justified. For not only with this construction does διά with the accusative retain its only possible signification, but the thought likewise finds its confirmation in the sequel (διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι, Hebrews 2:10), and accords with the view of Paul, Php 2:9, according to which the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father was the consequence and divine recompense of the voluntary abasement endured even to the death of the cross. Supposing the connection to be with that which precedes, διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου must contain a later added nearer definition to ἠλαττωμένον; but a second supplementary nearer definition, seeing that Ἰησοῦν already occupies such a position, would be extremely improbable, when we consider the carefulness with regard to style which prevails in this epistle; it would not, like Ἰησοῦν, have a purpose to serve, but be merely an instance of linguistic negligence such as ought not to be readily laid to the charge of our author. Moreover, διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου, referred to that which precedes, does not even admit of any satisfactory explanation. For, as thus combined, it is interpreted either: humbled by reason of the suffering of death, i.e. by suffering death, or: humbled for the sake of the suffering of death, i.e. in order to be able to undertake it. But in the latter case the choice of the preposition διά would be an exceedingly ill-judged one, since we must, at any rate, have expected εἰς τὸ πάσχειν τὸν θάνατον, or something similar. In the former case, on the other hand, διά must have been combined with the genitive instead of the accusative, quite apart from the consideration that the author can hardly be supposed to limit the humiliation of Christ to the moment of His death, but rather (comp. Hebrews 2:14), like Paul, to comprehend in general the whole period of His life in the flesh.

ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου] that He by the grace of God might taste death for every one, does not depend upon δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον. For the enduring of death was certainly not something which was to take place only after the exaltation, but already preceded this. The contorted interpretations, however: so that He died for all (Erasmus, Paraphr., Tena, Ribera, Morus, Valckenaer, Kuinoel), or: in order that He may have suffered death for all (Ebrard), or: postquam mortem gustavit (Schleusner), are grammatically impossible. But since a connecting of the final clause with ἠλαττωμένον (Akersloot, Bengel, Böhme, Bisping) is, considering the grammatical construction of Hebrews 2:9, quite inconceivable, ὅπως κ.τ.λ. can be only a further, but pregnant, exponent of the preceding τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου: on account of His suffering of death, namely, in order that He might, etc.

χάριτι θεοῦ] for the grace and love of God is the supreme cause of the redeeming death of Christ (comp. Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:21).

ὑπέρ] on behalf of for the weal of.

παντός] is not neuter, in such wise that the declaration should apply to the whole creation, including the angels (Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact; comp. Origen, in Joann. t. i. c. 40);[45] for this thought comes into collision with Hebrews 2:16, and the expression thereof would be incorrect, since we must expect in that case ὙΠῈΡ ΠΆΣΗς Τῆς ΚΤΊΣΕΩς, or at least ὙΠῈΡ ΤΟῦ ΠΑΝΤΌς. ΠΑΝΤΌς is masculine, and has reference only to mankind. The singular, however, is placed, not the plural πάντων, in order distinctly to bring out the thought that Christ died on behalf of each single individual among men (namely, who will appropriate the salvation offered him), not merely for mankind as a totality, as a compact corporation. [Piscator and Owen understand: each and every one, sc. of the πολλοὶ υἱοί mentioned Hebrews 2:10. Cf. Acts 20:28.]

ΓΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ ΘΑΝΆΤΟΥ] represents the experiencing of death under the figure of a tasting of the same. Comp. Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; John 8:52. The formula corresponds to the rabbinical טְעַם מו̇תָה (see Schoettgen and Wetstein on Matthew 16:28), and has its manifold analogies in the Greek turns: ΓΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ ΜΌΧΘΩΝ (Soph. Trachin. 1101), κακῶν (Eurip. Hec. 379; Luc. Nigr. 28), πένθους πικροῦ (Eurip. Alcest. 1069), ΠΌΝΩΝ (Pindar, Nem. 6:41), ὀϊστοῦ (Homer, Odyss. xxi. 98), Τῆς ἈΡΧῆς, Τῆς ἘΛΕΥΘΕΡΊΗς (Herod. iv. 147, Hebrews 6:5), etc. The formula is only a more significant expression for the ordinary ἀποθνήσκειν. Neither the notion of the brief duration of Christ’s death (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Clarius, Camerarius, Braun, Peirce, Cramer, Ch. F. Schmid), nor along with this the notion of the reality of that death (Beza, Bengel), nor, finally, the notion of the bitterness of the death sufferings (Calov, Delitzsch, Maier, Kurtz), lies in the expression.

[45] Ebrard, too, finds the thought expressed in ὑπὲρ παντός: “that Christ by His death has reconciled absolutely all things, heaven and earth;” but in connection therewith inconsistently takes παντός as a masculine.


In connection with the explanation of the reading χωρὶς θεοῦ (see the critical remarks) comes forth the main diversity, that these words were either taken as closely conjoined with ὑπὲρ παντός, or regarded in themselves as an independent nearer defining of the verb. The former mode of explanation is adopted by Origen, Theodoret, Ebrard, Ewald: “in order that He might suffer death for all beings, with the exception of God alone;” further Bengel, and Chr. F. Schmid: “in order that, with a view to purchasing or subjecting all things except God, He might suffer death.” But against both acceptations is the fact that παντός cannot be neuter (see above), against the latter, moreover, in particular the fact that the notion: “in order to purchase to himself,” cannot possibly be expressed by the mere ὑπὲρ παντός. As an independent addition χωρὶς θεοῦ is taken by Theodorus Mopsuestenus, Ambrose, Fulgentius, the Nestorians, and P. Colomesius (Observatt. Sacr. p. 603): “that He might taste death without God, i.e. without the participation of His Godhead, with the mere sharing of His humanity in death.” But that such a thought, in itself entirely alien as it is to the Biblical writers, could not have been expressed by χωρὶς θεοῦ, is at once apparent. There must at least have been written χωρὶς τῆς αὐτοῦ θεότητος. To this place further belongs Paulus, with an appeal to Matthew 27:46 : “as without God, as one abandoned by God, not delivered.” But the added “as,” by which alone the interpretation becomes tolerable, is without grammatical justification the expositor’s own additamentum.

9. But we see] Rather, “But we look upon.” The verb used is not ὁρῶμεν videmus as in the previous verse, but βλέπομεν cernimus (as in Hebrews 3:19). In accordance with the order of the original the verse should be rendered “But we look upon Him who has been, for a little while, made low in comparison of angels—even Jesus—on account of the suffering of death crowned, &c.”

who was made a little lower than the angels] This alludes to the temporal (“for a little while”) and voluntary humiliation of the Incarnate Lord. See Php 2:7-11. For a short time Christ was liable to agony and death from which angels are exempt; and even to the “intolerable indignity” of the grave.

for the suffering of death] Rather, “because of the suffering of death.” The Via crucis was the appointed via lucis (comp. Hebrews 5:7-10, Hebrews 7:26, Hebrews 9:12). This truth—that the sufferings of Christ were the willing path of His perfectionment as the “Priest upon his throne” (Zechariah 6:13)—is brought out more distinctly in this than in any other Epistle.

crowned with glory and honour] Into the nature of this glory it was needless and hardly possible to enter. “On His head were many crowns” (Revelation 19:12).

that] The words refer to the whole of the last clause. The universal efficacy of His death resulted from the double fact of His humiliation and glorification. He was made a little lower than the angels, He suffered death, He was crowned with glory and honour in order that His death might be efficacious for the redemption of the world.

by the grace of God] The work of redemption resulted from the love of the Father no less than from that of the Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is therefore a part of “the grace of God” (Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:21; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Titus 2:2), and could only have been carried into completion by the aid of that grace of which Christ was full. The Greek is χάριτι Θεοῦ, but there is a very interesting and very ancient various reading χωρὶς Θεοῦapart from God.” St Jerome says that he only found this reading “in some copies” (in quibusdam exemplaribus) whereas Origen had already said that ne only found the other reading “by the grace of God” in some copies (ἐν τίσιν ἀντιγράφοις). At present however the reading “apart from God” is only found in the cursive manuscript 53 (a MS. of the 9th century), and in the margin of 67. It is clear that the reading was once more common than is now the case, and it seems to have been a Western and Syriac reading which has gradually disappeared from the manuscripts. Theodore of Mopsuestia calls the reading “by the grace of God” meaningless, and others have stamped it as Monophysite (i.e. as implying that in Christ there was only one nature). We have seen that this is by no means the case, though the other reading may doubtless have fallen into disfavour from the use made of it by the Nestorians to prove that Christ did not suffer in His divinity but only “apart from God,” i.e. in His humanity (so too St Ambrose and Fulgentius). But even if the reading be correct (and it is certainly more ancient than the Nestorian controversy) the words may belong to their own proper clause—“that he may taste death for every being except God;” the latter words being added as in 1 Corinthians 15:27. But the reading is almost certainly spurious. For (1) in the Nestorian sense it is unlike any other passage of Scripture; (2) in the other sense it is unnecessary (since it bears in no way on the immediate argument) and may have been originally added as a superfluous marginal gloss by some pragmatic reader who remembered 1 Corinthians 15:27; or (3) it may have originated from a confusion of letters on the original papyrus. The incorporation of marginal glosses into the text is a familiar phenomenon in textual criticism. Such perhaps are 1 John 5:7; Acts 8:37; the latter part of Romans 8:1; “without cause” in Matthew 5:22; “unworthily” in 1 Corinthians 11:29, &c.

should taste death] The word “taste” is not to be pressed as though it meant that Christ “saw no corruption.” “To taste” does not mean merely “summis labris delibare.” It is a common Semitic and metaphoric paraphrase for death, derived from the notion of Death as an Angel who gives a cup to drink; as in the Arabic poem Antar “Death fed him with a cup of absinth by my hand.” Comp. Matthew 16:28; John 8:52.

for] “on behalf of” (ὑπὲρ), not “as a substitution for” (ἀντί).

for every man] Origen and others made this word neuter “for everything” or “for every existence;” but this seems to be expressly excluded by Hebrews 2:16, and is not in accordance with the analogy of John 1:29; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2. It will be seen that the writer deals freely with the Psalm. The Psalmist views man in his present condition as being one which involves both glory and humiliation: it is here applied as expressing man’s present humiliation and his future glory, which is compared with Christ’s temporal humiliation leading to his Eternal glory. It is the necessity of this application which required the phrase “a little” to be understood not of degree but of time. No doubt the writer has read into the words a pregnant significance; but (1) he is only applying them by way of illustrating acknowledged truths; and (2) he is doing so in accordance with principles of exegesis which were universally conceded not only by Christians but even by Jews.

Hebrews 2:9. Δὲ, but) The antithesis is between that in the psalm, which we do not yet see, and that which we already perceive fulfilled in Jesus. But what do we perceive? We perceive, as regards Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, that He, on account of the suffering of death, has been crowned with glory and honour. In this paragraph, ἠλαττωμένον (διὰἐστεφανωμένον) ὅπως, κ.τ.λ., is a Chiasmus, such as Paul has, Galatians 4:4-5 : and in the present clause, διὰ, κ.τ.λ. (which clause requires no point before δόξῃ), that for (on account of) which Jesus was crowned, namely, the suffering of death, is mentioned according to the natural order of the subject, and not without emphasis, before the actual crowning. The apostle takes away from the Jews the offensive scandal (stumbling-block) of the cross: and so refutes the argument, which might be drawn from the sufferings of Christ against His glory, and that glory the source of glory to us also, as that he even inverts it [turns it into an argument for, instead of against Christ]. He shows that the suffering of death is so far from obstructing the glory and honour of the Messiah, that it rather confirms them to us. Whence he infers, that the fact of Jesus being “made lower than the angels,” which was only for a little, did not refer to the circumstance that He should continue under the power of death, but that, after He had once suffered death to the utmost, He should have everything made subject to Him. It is Jesus to whom the humbling and crowning, as described in the psalm, apply. It is therefore the same Person, to whom also the power over all appropriately belongs, which (power) follows close after, in the gradation of the psalm.—βραχύ τι, for some little time [a little]) Some hours on the cross, days of suffering, years of toils, how little are they all, when compared with eternity!—παρʼ ἀγγέλους, than the angels) who are incapable of suffering and dying.—ἠλαττωμένον) made lower, less, a worm: comp. Luke 22:43. The participle implies, that Jesus of Himself, and for His own sake, might have entered upon glory without suffering; but the good of His brethren was likewise to be regarded.—Βλέπομεν, we perceive) The act of looking, saith he, speaks (of itself). The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 3:19, Hebrews 10:25. The fact and the issue agree with the faith of the previous testimony; Hebrews 2:6, at the beginning.—τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου, the suffering of death) The suffering of death is the main feature [in His sufferings, and so is put for all the rest]: ch. Hebrews 5:7.—δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ, with glory and honour) becoming the Son of God. [Glory presupposes death; honour, suffering.—V. g.]—ἐστεφανωμένον, crowned) after death.—ὅπως, that) This ought to be connected with being made lower, and therefore denotes the end (the final cause).—χάριτι Θεοῦ, by the grace of God) Some formerly read χωρὶς[16] Θεοῦ, except God. Both readings give a good sense; let us look at each. The clause with χωρὶς, except, stands thus: Christ tasted death for every one except God. This sentence is to be explained by its members. I.) Πάντος, as the πάντα, occurring five times in Hebrews 2:8; Hebrews 2:10, is neuter, which is acknowledged by Orig. Theod. Ambros., quoted in Estius; for in the masculine it is wont to be plural, ὑπὲρ πάντων, 2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Timothy 2:6 : and the plural, πάντων and πᾶσι, is generally masc., sometimes neuter; but παντὸς, παντὶ, put without a substantive or a participle, are always neut. [but Engl. Vers. “for every man”]. See above, at 2 Corinthians 11:6; Mark 9:49. The apostle shows the glory of Christ from the eighth Psalm, and especially from the clause, Thou hast put כל, everything, under His feet; and he supplies the emphasis of the singular number (He put everything), which is contained in that significant syllable כל, and was omitted by the LXX. transl., when he says, and only in this place, which is the leading strength (sinew) of his argument, ΠΑΝΤΌς. For ΠΑΝΤΌς, neut., without the article, is good Greek, since it is used by Hesiod, ΠΛΈΟΝ ἭΜΙΣΥ ΠΑΝΤΟς, the half (obtained by fair means) is more than the whole (obtained unfairly). This ΠᾶΝ, this all, to which οὐδὲν, nothing, likewise in the neuter, is opposed, Hebrews 2:8, and in which all, in the masc., are included, John 3:35-36, chiefly comprehends angels, than whom Christ had been made a little (or for a little) lower; and thus the Protasis and Apodosis correspond to each other, We do not yet see all things subject to Him, but yet that for which He tasted death is ALL (ΠᾶΝ), ‘Omne.’ II.) To taste death, implies the reality, and yet in this place also the shortness, of death; as Chrysostom, Sedulius, Haymo, Flacius, on this passage, acknowledge. III.) Hence we at length gather the meaning of ὙΠῈΡ, for all (παντὸς, omni); Germ, um alles, not für alle: ὑπὲρ denotes here the thing to be obtained, as in John 11:4; 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 12:8; 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:5. He tasted death for all (omni), that He might claim all (‘omne’) for Himself, that He might obtain power over all things: or in other words, for this, that what was written might be fulfilled to Him, Thou hast put ALL (OMNE) under His feet. IV.) That All has a very manifest and proper exception. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:27, treating of the same psalm, the same verse, and the same word, כל, all, adds, it is manifest that He is excepted, who put all things under Him. The same exception therefore is made in this place, ΧΩΡῚς ΘΕΟῦ ὙΠῈΡ ΠΑΝΤΌς, all, but God, is subject to Christ: χωρὶς is used to express an exception. So Epiphanius, διὰ παντὸς, χωρὶς πεντηκοστῆς, at all times except Pentecost: hæres. lxxv. Thomas Magister writes, ΤῸ ΠΛῊΝ ΚΑῚ ΤῸ ἘΚΤῸς, ΤῸ ΧΩΡΊς ΔΗΛΟῦΣΙ; ΧΩΡῚς is explained by πλὴν and ἘΚΤῸς, except. Theodoritus acknowledges that χωρὶς in this passage expresses an exception; and the parallelism of the psalm shows us what the exception is. And the exception itself very significantly, and yet, lest the discourse should he interrupted, very briefly, points out the vast extent of the things subject to Christ, which are absolutely all but God; and the exception is properly put before the subject, from which the exception is made. The same clause, if ΧΆΡΙΤΙ, by grace, be retained, will be thus explained: that by the grace of GOD He might taste death for everything. By the grace of GOD in regard to us, Galatians 2:21; Romans 5:8, and to Jesus Himself. His enemies thought that Jesus suffered and died in consequence of the wrath of GOD, Psalm 22:8-9; Psalm 69:27; Isaiah 53:4; John 19:7. But it was altogether by the grace of God, that He suffered and died, of which grace the gift is honour and glory: Php 2:9, ἐχαρίσατο, “God hath given Him,” etc.; Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52; Romans 5:15. And this noun, ΧΆΡΙΤΙ, expresses the same idea as the verbs, ΜΙΜΝΉΣΚῌ, ἘΠΙΣΚΈΠΤῌ, rememberest (“art mindful”), visitest, Hebrews 2:6, from that eighth Psalm. In this interpretation, ὙΠῈΡ ΠΑΝΤῸς might be equivalent to for all (men), Germ. für alle, so far as the preposition is concerned, but the neuter, παντός, is an objection [therefore it must be for everything: in order that everything may be subject to Him]. We now inquire which reading is genuine. I am not ignorant that ΧΆΡΙΤΙ is more favourably received than ΧΩΡῚς, and I would be disposed, without any trouble, to dismiss the latter and adopt the former. But when the question concerns the word of GOD, even one little word of GOD, we ought to settle nothing merely to gain time. The over-officiousness of the transcribers, which seeks after all things plain, more easily changed ΧΩΡῚς into ΧΆΡΙΤΙ, than ΧΆΡΙΤΙ into ΧΩΡῚς; and yet ΧΩΡῚς remains in ancient, numerous, and important documents. The list is given in App. Crit. To them may be added the book of the Abbot Anastasius against the Jews, who flourished in Palestine in the eighth century, directly exhibiting this reading. Nor will any one, I hope, call in question this reading, nor the interpretation which has been here proposed by us; yet it is open to the reader to consider the matter more fully. La Croze, lib. 3., de Christianismo Indico, c. iii, § 64, shows the consistency (unanimous agreement) of the Syriac copies in joining both readings.—ΓΕΎΣΗΤΑΙ, might taste) The reality of death is implied in this phrase, as everywhere else; and here, as we have said, at the same time the shortness (τὸ βραχὺ) of its duration, for denoting which the gen. θανάτου is well fitted; comp. ch. Hebrews 6:4, note. To taste a part of death is one thing; a part or the shortness of the time, in which the whole of death is tasted, is another.[17] Matthew 16:28 does not present any objection to the signification of shortness of duration; for there the expression is negative, as in Luke 14:24. Moreover, Psalms 34 :(8) 9, gives weight to this view, γεύσασθε καὶ ἴδετε, i.e. Only taste and you will see; otherwise taste would not be put before sight.

[16] ABCD(Δ)f Vulg. read χάριτι. Orig. 4, 41c, 392b, 393c, 450b, reads χωρὶς: but in the two first places quoted he mentions the reading χάριτι, but evidently not as the generally received one.—ED.

[17] It is the latter, not the former, that is true of Jesus; for He tasted the whole of death, though its duration was short.—ED.

Verse 9. - The phrase βραχύ τι, where it occurs in this verse with reference to Christ's temporary humiliation, is by many taken to mean "for a little while," on the ground that this meaning suits best the application to Christ, though its most obvious meaning in the psalm (quoted in ver. 7) is, as in the A.V., "a little." The Greek in itself will bear either meaning; and if "a little" be, as it seems to be, the original meaning in the psalm, there is no necessity for supposing a departure from it. All that the writer need be supposed to intimate is that Christ, through his incarnation, took man's position as represented in the psalm. For the suffering of death. So the A.V. renders, connecting the words by punctuation with the clause preceding; the idea being supposed to be that Christ was "made a little lower than the angels" with a view to the "suffering of death;" i.e. because of the "suffering of death" which he had to undergo. But the proper force of διὰ with the accusative is better preserved, and a better meaning given to the passage, by connecting διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου with the clause that follows, and translating, But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor. His crowning was the consequence of his suffering; because of his suffering he was crowned; he won, as man, and in virtue of his human obedience unto death, his position of "glory and honor." Exactly the same idea is found in Hebrews 5:7, etc., where the purpose and result of Christ's suffering, here anticipated, are more explicitly set forth (cf. also Hebrews 12:2). This view, too, suits the drift of the passage before us, which is that human nature has been exalted in the Person of Christ. That he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. Two questions arise here:

(1) As to the meaning of the expression, "that he should taste death," etc.;

(2) as to the true reading, as well as the meaning, of the phrase translated "by the grace of God." As to

(1), the clause is introduced by ὅπως, followed by the subjunctive, ὅπως γεύσηται: and the construction of the sentence evidently connects it, not with ἠλαττωμένον, but with ἐστεφανωμένον It is, "Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, in order that for [i.e. in behalf of] all he may taste of death." Now, the fact that the actual death was previous to the crowning suggests reference, not so much to it as to its permanent efficacy: and, further, the emphatic words are ὑπὲρ παντὸς, as shown by their position in the sentence; and thus the idea seems to be, "In order that for all his tasting of death may be availing." And he may even be regarded as still tasting of death after his crowning, in the sense of knowing its taste through his human experience, and so perfectly sympathizing with mortal man (cf. Hebrews 5:15, and below in this chapter, vers. 14, 15). It is a further question whether παντὸς should be here taken as masculine, as in the A.V., or, like the preceding πάντα, as neuter, in the sense of "all creation." The latter rendering seems in itself more natural, though" all mankind" must be conceived as the main idea in the writer's view. At the same time, it is to be remembered how the redemption is elsewhere spoken of as availing for creation generally, for the restitution of universal harmony (cf. Romans 8:19, etc.; Ephesians 1:10, 20, etc.). A further reason for understanding παντὸς in the wider sense will appear in our examination of the phrase next to be considered.

(2) As to the reading χάριτι Θεοῦ. It is found in all existing manuscripts except in one uncial of the tenth century (Codex Uffenbach, cited as M), in a scholium to Codex 67, and in a codex of the Peschito. But, on the other hand, Origen, an earlier authority than any manuscript, speaks of the prevalent reading in his time being χωρὶς Θεοῦ χάριτι being found only in some copies (ἐν τισιν ἀντιγράφοσις). Theodoret, Theodorus of Mopsuestia, and the Nestorians also read χωρὶς: and the Latin Fathers, Ambrose, Fulgentius, and others, have absque as its equivalent. Jerome also speaks of the reading absque, but as occurring only "in quibusdam exemplaribus" - thus reversing in his day what Origen had said two centuries earlier as to the comparative prevalence of the two readings. The charge made by Marius Mercator, Theophylact, and OEcumenius against the Nestorians, that they had introduced the reading χωρὶς in support of their own views, is evidently untenable, since the testimony of Origen proves its prevalence long before the Nestorian controversy. It is, on the other hand, very probable that the use made of this reading by the Nestorians was a cause of the other being clung to by the orthodox, and being retained almost exclusively in the existing codices. And this probability greatly weakens the force of the evidence of the manuscripts as to the original reading. That both were very early ones is evident; but that χωρὶς was the original one is probable for two reasons:

(1) that Origen testifies to its prevalence in his early day, and accepts it as at least equally probable with the other; and

(2) that transcribers were more likely to change the unusual and somewhat difficult χωρὶς into the familiar and easy χάριτι than vice versa. Theodorus of Mopsuestia thus accounts for the reading χάριτι, which he rejects very decidedly. He says that some persons, not observing the sequence of the passage, had laughably changed the true reading, because they did not understand it, into one that seemed easy to them. If χάριτι be the true reading, the meaning is plain enough; it expresses the view, often reiterated by St. Paul, of the whole work of redemption being "of grace." The objection to it, on internal grounds, is that the introduction of this view here seems flat and purposeless, as Theodorus of Mopsuestia forcibly contends in his argument against the reading. Ξωρὶς, then, being adopted, the question remains whether to connect χωρὶς Θεοῦ (as Theodorus of Mopsuestia does, and as the Nestorians must have done) with γεύσηται θανάτου, or with ὑπὲρ παντός. If taken with the former, its purpose must be to exclude the Godhead in Christ from participation in the taste of death. Some further explain by reference to the cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But such reference does not suit the view above taken of the intended meaning o ὅπως γεύσηται θανάτου. Taken with ὑπὲρ παντός (as is rather suggested by the arrangement of the sentence, in which this is the emphatic phrase), it gives the meaning, "that for all except God he may taste of death" - this parenthetical exception of the Divine Being himself being similar to that which St. Paul sees reason for inserting in his application of the same psalm to Christ: Δῆλον ὅτι ἐκτὸς τοῦ ὑποτάζαντος αὐτῶ τὰ πάντα (1 Corinthians 15:27). So Origen takes it: Αἰ τε δὲ "χωρὶς Θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς ἐγεύσατο θανάτον," οὐμόνον ὑπὲρ ἀνθρώπων ἀπέθανεν ἀλλὰ καὶ ὑπὲρ τῶν λοιπῶν λογικῶν. Also Theodoret: Υπὲρ ἀπάντων τοίνυν τὸ σωτήριον ὑπέμεινε πάθος χωρὶς Θεοῦ μόνη γὰρ ἡ θεία φύσις τῆς ἐντεῦθεν γενομένης θεραπείας ἀνενδεής. The latter Father explains the wide sense in which it follows that ὑπὲρ παντὸς must be understood by referring to what St. Paul says (Romans 8:21) of creation itself being delivered from the bondage of corruption through Christ, and to the rejoicing of angels in the salvation of man. Hebrews 2:9Jesus - made a little lower, etc.

Repeated from Hebrews 2:7. To be subordinated to the angels is the same as being "made under the law," Galatians 4:4. In that chapter Paul shows that the law under which the church in its state of pupilage was kept (Galatians 3:23; Galatians 4:3) was instituted through the mediation of angels (Galatians 3:19). Then, as interchangeable with under the law, Paul has "enslaved under the elements (ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα) of the world" (Galatians 4:3, Galatians 4:9). These elements are elemental forces or spirits, as appears from a correct interpretation of Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:20. The subjection to elemental spirits is only another form of subjection to the angels of the law, and our author uses this doctrine to show the mutable nature of angels in contrast with the immutable perfection of the Son (see Hebrews 1:7, Hebrews 1:8). This accords with the Epistle to the Colossians which deals with the heresy of angel-worship, and in which the worship of angels is represented as connected with the service of elemental or cosmic forces. Very striking is Colossians 2:15. When the bond of the law was rendered void in Christ's crucifixion, that ministry of angels which waited on the giving of the law was set aside by God (ἀπεκδύσαμενος) having stripped off, revealing Christ as the head of every principality and power. God made a show or display of them (ἐδειγμάτισεν) as subordinate and subject to Christ. He thus boldly (ἐν παρρησίᾳ), by a bold stroke, put his own chosen ministers in subjection before the eyes of the world. See on Colossians 2:15. The use of the human name, Jesus, at this point, is significant. In this epistle that name usually furnishes the key to the argument of the passage in which it occurs. See Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 12:2.

For the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor (διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον)

The usual interpretation connects for the suffering of death with made lower than the angels, meaning that Jesus was subordinated to the angels for the suffering of death. But for the suffering of death should be connected with crowned, etc. Δια should be rendered because of. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. Christ's exaltation and preeminence over the angels was won through humiliation and death. For crowned, see on 2 Timothy 2:5. Exaltation was the logical result of Christ's humiliation (comp. Philippians 2:9), not simply its recompense (comp. Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14). He was glorified in humiliation. "The humiliation is only the glory not yet begun."

By the grace of God (χάριτι θεοῦ)

God manifested his grace in giving Christ the opportunity of tasting death for every man, and so abolishing death as a curse. The same thought of glory in humiliation is expressed in John 1:14. To be called to the office of "apostle and high-priest of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1), an office which involved personal humiliation and death, was to be "crowned with glory and honor," and was a signal token of God's favor. Note John 12:23, John 12:28; John 13:31, John 13:32, in which Jesus speaks of his approaching passion as itself his glorification. Comp. Hebrews 3:3. It was desirable to show to Jews who were tempted to stumble at the doctrine of a crucified Messiah (Galatians 3:13), that there was a glory in humiliation.

Should taste death (γεύσηται θανάτου)

The phrase is found several times in the Gospels, as Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; John 8:52. See on Luke 9:27; see on John 8:52.

The following statement justifies the bold assertion of Hebrews 2:9. With a view to the recoil of Jewish readers from the thought of a suffering Messiah (1 Corinthians 1:23), the writer will show that Jesus' suffering and death were according to the divine fitness of things.

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