It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. Hebrews 2, verse 5.
What is “the world to come” that’s identified here?
The concordance I use says that this verse is an exposition of Psalm 8. Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise, exclaiming “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” A few verses later, the psalter says “you have made them (mankind) a little lower than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor.”
We as men are a little lower than the angels. Angels are supernatural beings; on the surface, we aren’t. Angels can move between time and dimension; as far as we’ve learned, we don’t. Angels have abilities to manipulate matter that we don’t (or don’t understand); we might not. Perhaps the biggest difference between men and angels is that the angels in heaven are without sin. In all the millennia of human history, no angel standing in God’s presence has ever sinned or even thought a rebellious thought against God. Who knows how long they were around before the earth was created? We, as men, are chock full of sin. As the psalter says, we’re a little lower than the angels.
And the angels aren’t saved. I’ve mentioned this before: angels who haven’t fallen don’t need to be saved. They still live in perfect obedience to God’s will, in His presence, enjoying His blessings. And, as we’ve talked about before, Jesus didn’t die to save fallen angels, but He did die and rise to save fallen mankind.
How beautiful, then, is the mystery of how and why God Himself died and resurrected to give us entrance to the world to come. Some may say the verse is talking about the earthly world after Eden. If you think about it, that makes sense. Angels were present at creation and likely witnessed man’s fall. They certainly witnessed its aftermath. Some might say the verse is talking about heaven now. Some might posit that the verse is also talking about the post-judgement heaven, where God will reunite His glory with a remade heaven and earth so that He might cherish us to live with Him forever. And the NIV says, also, that the verse could be an argument for Jews of the 1st Century, some of whom were tempted to return to Judaism, which teaches extensively on the roles angels play in the world.
I’ll be honest: I don’t know. I’ll be even more honest: it doesn’t matter to me.
This verse is in a section where the author makes arguments to convince the believer that Jesus is superior to anything or anyone else. He’s higher than men, higher than angels, higher than anything else created. All that we know and sense is from Him, and He is and will always be supreme over even the strongest evil. The world to come, whether the world we’re in now or the world after this life, is still under God’s hand. It’s good to know that He made men like you and I a little lower than the angels. And it’s good to be reminded that angels are ministering beings who live without sin. But what matters more to me is knowing that God is sovereign over all of it, angels and men alike.
If we consider that, then it really doesn’t matter what or where the ‘world to come’ is.
For more reading: Psalm 8
Lord God, I praise You for the worlds You have made. Thank You for blessing me to live here, and for making me lower than the angels but uniquely saved by You.