What does “lower than the angels” mean? Less glory. We read in Ps. 8: “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty! (Ps. 8:4-5). Paul said that “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
What glory? Lower than the angels.
It is evident that the glory that men lost was lower than the glory of the angels.
Why did they lose it? Because they sinned.
How is sin attributed? Through the Law. Well, the Law causes sin. “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Rom. 7:5). “…because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). “Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Rom. 7:7). The prohibition checks the appetite, and the Law prohibits, but it does not teach; imposes, but it does not instruct; brings under bondage, but it does not set free.
If men lost the glory, they are already condemned, and so, they are already judged. They were all sentenced to death, and lost the glory. It seems as if this evil fate began in Adam. “Than to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ’You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:17-19).
John ratifies this terrible condemnation: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who dos not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
From Adam until Moses and the Law, everyone was condemned to physical death, though not to spiritual death, because spiritual death is the consequence of the attribution of sin, and so Paul says: “…for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom 5:13). “THE SOUL WHO SINS WILL DIE” (Ezek. 18:4). The attribution of sin yields the death of the soul, not of the body. We can understand it this way: from Adam until Moses, there was sin, but there was no law; man was, therefore, not accountable. Man has died in their body, then, not in their soul. When the law of Jehovah came, men died in two ways: physically and spiritually. There was a young man who felt the desire to follow Jesus, but first he asked permission to bury his father, which had died. Jesus told him: “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22). Jesus meant that, those who die, physically, should be buried by those who have not yet died physically, but who are already dead in their spirits because of the sin attributed by the Law. All men were born to die physically, and after they are accountable, they sin, and die spiritually. We die twice. Jehovah says that men are like animals, because just as one man dies, other men die in the same way, and all of them go to the same place, because all of them have the same breath of life. They are all made of dust, and will return to the dust; man does not return from the grave (Eccl. 3:18-22). With this declaration, Jehovah was preaching extinction. This text makes it clear that Jehovah did not have better plans for men. Death was the end (Eccl. 9:5).
If Jehovah foresaw the total extinction of man, this extinction occurred in two stages: First the physical death, since Adam; and two thousand years later, death by the attribution of sin. This process reveals that Adam was placed in the paradise to live, with the germ of the eternal life in him, for he was the first of the lineage of Jesus Christ (Luke 3: 23-38). There was a plan and a purpose in the work of extermination of Jehovah, for there was not a single just man who had never sinned (Eccl. 7:20).
When Jesus saved man, he did not give back to man the glory received from Jehovah, glory that was lesser than the glory of the angels. Jesus gave us his own glory (John 17:22; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:35-49). Well, Jesus is infinitely superior to the angels “…having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee?’ And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me?’ And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Heb. 1:4-6). Because all men saved by Jesus will have the same glory as Christ, according to John 17:22, all of the saved men will have a greater glory than the angels, and this is why they will judge the angels, for they are like brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). The angels are not children of God (Heb. 1:5). Jesus is God’s Son (John 1:18; Rom. 1:3,4). And the saved can become children of God through Jesus Christ (John 1:12,13). In this way, they become brothers and sisters of Jesus (Rom. 8:29).
Jehovah condemned men to extinction, and Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, annulled extinction, and, to the ones who believe in Him, He gives the eternal life and a glory superior to the first one, and another kingdom, superior to the kingdoms of the earth. “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). And Paul says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20,21). “ The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His HEAVENLY KINGDOM” (2 Tim. 4:18).
The dominium over the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea was the glory that Jehovah gave to men (Ps. 8:5-9). This is the glory of the earth, not of heaven. After men were destitute of the glory, they ruled over the animals of the seas, the great whales, lions, and elephants of the earth. Circuses have plenty of tamers of lions and elephants. This glory was really a humiliation.
We give glory to Jesus Christ, though, because He gives us a celestial glory, not an earthly one.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira