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Psalms speak in general terms about the Glory of God. How has Paul come to the conclusion that this relates to Jesus?

Psalm 8:3-6

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:

1 Corinthians 15:27

For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.

Ephesians 1:22

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,

Hebrews 2:6-8

6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

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  • does it not include God Himself or the Father? They are different in definition.
    – Betho's
    Feb 22, 2023 at 12:42
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    Writing to the Gentiles, they would examine the Psalm in the Greek language, κύριε ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν… Obviously it would be understood as referring to the one Lord, Jesus Christ. Feb 22, 2023 at 18:57
  • read the topics on midrash and eisegesis. prophecy allusions are part of the midrash approach and it is eisegesis, personal creative exposition. Its not wrong, it's fundamental to the hermeneutics.
    – Michael16
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:53
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    If one doubts the veracity and dependability of the apostle Paul then one has to throw away 65% of the bible - Paul, and Mark and Luke, whom he influenced.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 7, 2023 at 22:26
  • @NigelJ - without going into the history - Peter, James, Thomas etc... were not included - yet Paul takes precedence, I wonder why - “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:” 2 Timothy 2:8 - I prefer to follow Jesus & God Mar 8, 2023 at 12:58

4 Answers 4

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The logic explaining the identification is found in Hebrews.

Hebrews ch2 v6 quotes the same passage from Psalm 8, about what God has done for "man". The writer then points out that the statement "putting everything under [man's] feet" is not yet true, if it is applied to mankind in general; "As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him." (v8, RSV) So the only way to make it true ("But...) is to apply it to Jesus, as representative of the human race (a point which he is about to explain in the rest of the chapter). Since his readers already know from the first chapter and from other Christian teaching that Jesus does have "glory and honour" and is indeed called "Lord".

The quotations from 1 Corinthians and Ephesians are expressing the same idea without explaining the background logic.

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  • Hebrews doesn't really assist, I initially did not add to keep it short. Feb 22, 2023 at 13:24
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    Hebrews does offer a reason why the words should be applied to Jesus. I suggest the pejorative term "manipulation" should only be applied if the transition is not suffciently rational. Feb 22, 2023 at 13:30
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    @another theory I think you are not noticing the wording of Psalm 8 v6;. "Thou {meaning God] has put everything under his/ their feet {meaning the feet of men)". That is, one of the signs of the greatness of God is that he has made man nearly as great. Subjection of things to MAN is there in the OT text, and this statement is what is being applied to Jesus. Feb 22, 2023 at 14:03
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    @another theory The writer means that in practice "all things" are not yet in subjection to the human race. You experience the truth of that statement every time germs give you a cold against your will. Then he goes on "But we see Jesus..." who holds everything in subjection in his capacity as Lord and who is also human-born. That is how the Psalm is fulfilled.. Feb 22, 2023 at 14:15
  • just presumptions and manipulation of the text. Happy to for you to show me evidence from Psalms about Jesus dying to fulfil etc... Feb 22, 2023 at 14:20
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It is in Hebrews chapter 2 that Psalm 8 is directly and fully quoted, so this answer deals with what the writer to those first century Hebrew Christians explained. That might not be the apostle Paul. But, whoever it was, Paul's gospel of Christ is entirely in harmony with everything written in the letter to the Hebrews, as your two other quotes show.

Hebrews is full of applications of the Hebrew scriptures to the person of Jesus Christ. From Abel to Melchizedek, to Abraham, to Moses. Indeed, of Moses he writes that by faith, he reckoned the reproaches of the Christ to be greater than all the treasures of Egypt (11:26). Now, Jewish people who did not believe Christ Jesus to be the promised Messiah would dismiss all of that as twisting of the Hebrew scriptures.

Same with the way Psalm 8 is given an ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus in Hebrews chapter 2. Christians would see the application clearly - Jesus being a little lower than the angels, who has the coming world subjected to him. Jesus being crowned with glory and honour for suffering death, and everything being subjected to him. Jesus the representative head of the new humanity. Of course, that could not be said until Jesus had died and been resurrected. So - again - all disbelievers in Jesus having died and been resurrected to glory would say that Psalm 8 had been manipulated.

Only to those who disbelieve Jesus Christ as being the ultimate fulfillment of all the prophecies of old would the New Testament application of Psalm 8 to Jesus be viewed as 'manipulation'. The answer is as simple as that.

But to those who believe in the risen Christ, seated in glory in heaven and returning to finalize that promise of all things being subjected under his feet, there is no manipulation of scripture at all. The scriptures are opened up and revealed in the person of Christ.

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  • @ Anne - Doesn't really provide evidence. Paul / Hebrews say it relates to Jesus - no evidence as to how they have come to that conclusion. Some version say P8:4 'son of man' - yet if Jesus he is lower then the angels - Yet he is God. H2:7 conveniently puts Jesus lower then the angels for a little while so to be able to change it to say he is higher then the angels. No evidence to back up the transition. I do believe Jesus is the Messiah but that doesn't prove that this relates to him Mar 7, 2023 at 14:27
  • similar some say Isaiah 53 relates to Jesus - again unfounded hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/82915/33268 Mar 7, 2023 at 14:29
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    @anothertheory Well, Stephen at Acts 7:2 said, "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham." He's referencing Genesis 12:1-7. Paul said and identified Jesus Christ as "the Lord of glory" at 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. Psalm 8:6 mentions "rulers" and so does Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions OR RULERS or authorities--all things have been created by Hims and for Him." Notice these quotes are from the Apostle Paul, so how is Paul manipulating Psalm 8, and yes, how does it not relate to Jesus?
    – Mr. Bond
    Mar 7, 2023 at 23:00
  • @Mr.Bond - God came to Abrahm - how does that equate to God being Jesus? Because he mentions some similar in an attempt to imply these things were written in the OT doesn't make them true as he changes the meanings and intentions. He is not an Apostle - only he says his an Apostle and had visions etc... Ps 8 is purely God being glorified nothing more. As above comment - if Jesus then you have to accept he was lower then the angels or Gods prophesises a deficient and others know better. Mar 8, 2023 at 12:42
  • @Mr.Bond - was Paul a prophet or apostle - hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/80875/33268 Mar 8, 2023 at 12:46
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You are confusing the modern Hebrew translation of Psalm 8 with the texts which were available to Paul and the NT authors at the time. Commonly the New Testament tends to cite the LXX when referring to OT scriptures, and the LXX of this verse is as follows:

και κατέκυψας αὐτοῦ κάτω τῶν ἀγγέλων, ἐνέδυσας αὐτoν δόξῃ και τιμῇ

And you set him over the works of your hands; you subjected all under his feet. (Psalm 8:7 NETS)

Whether you understand the LXX to have misrepresented the original (as some do), or understand later Hebrew copies to have been modified to alter messianic references used by Christians (as others do), either way it seems highly likely that the NT authors here read Psalm 8 to say "you set him" and "his feet", and so are not misrepresenting the texts they received in any way.

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  • @ Steve - 1) others versions have - 'them' and 'their' / I presume Hebrew was available at the time as Paul was meant to be a learned Jew. 2) In any event what's the evidence it relates to Jesus? 3) Hebrew 1 – Jesus is ‘superior’ to the angels while in Ps8:5 humans are lower. Or is it that even though Jesus was God or son of God until he died for the sins he was lower? Mar 7, 2023 at 13:03
  • Right - assuming Hebrew was available at the time, you have identified why I personally lean towards the view that later Hebrew manuscripts were modified to remove messianic references like this. It would be odd for Paul and others to consistently use LXX renderings when they knew Hebrew said something different, and equally strange if all the messianic texts Christians found were due to mistakes made in the LXX translation. I didn't want to frame my own personal bias here, as it doesn't affect the outcome of the question - Paul wrote it because that's what the text he was familiar with said.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 7, 2023 at 16:05
  • Also, personally I don't believe Hebrews to be written by Paul, so I was more speaking to your Corinthians and Ephesians examples.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 7, 2023 at 16:08
  • @ Steve - There would be too much to cover a response to all of Hebrew Corin & Ephe this is just Pauls Gospel - 1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you.... Psalms 8 if the correct translation is 'him' why would it say lower then the angels when Jesus is meant to be superior & they even worship him. Ps doesn't say while he was human he was lower and after resurrection higher - God's prophesy appear to be deficient and Paul & a mysterious person (if not Paul) who wrote Hebrews appear to know more. Mar 8, 2023 at 12:13
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    You can do whatever you want with the conclusions, but the answer I've presented to your question is that the author is following the LXX rendering and there's no evidence they've modified anything. If you have a different Question about the text, feel free to ask it on the site.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 8, 2023 at 14:01
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Not at all unnaturally, but very logically or better theologically does Paul relate this Psalm to the Lord.

Here's how.

Of course, Paul, no less than John, understands that the Son is the co-Principle of the Father in creation of the universe (Hebrews 1:2). Is He, the Son, the necessary [co-]Principle for the Father in this magnum opus: the creation of the entirety of this vastness of the universe with the invisible angelic hosts, infinite stars and galaxies, versatile forms of life from whales to microscopic organisms, down to molecules, atoms, quarks or bosons, and all those wonderful and fixed laws of nature like those of gravity or of thermodynamics?

Yes, of course He is necessary [co-]Principle, for otherwise we shall get an absurd mythology that the Father was yet not Father in His Eternity but only a Monadic God, then having been bored, decided to come out of the teenage bare-God-years and come to a maturity of fatherhood and, since it was impossible for Him to become a natural Father, for nobody could share His uncreated nature, created another person, of a different, created nature and called him "son", which made Him a "father". The son, surely seeing nobody but God (for there was not yet the universe), asked Him, "Hey, who are you, and who am I?" And God told him: "I am your Creator, but out of courtesy and out of my fondness for you, I say metaphorically that you are my "only-begotten" son, that is to say that I gave birth to you, but in reality, you must know that you are created; although, I ask you to call me not "my Creator", but for a better intimacy and familiarity, "my Father", ok?" "Yes, ok, my Crea...sorry, my Father! But now what? now I want to play!" And God the "Father" then decided to create also the universe and told the "son": "I will now create the universe and you will help me!" "But cannot you create it alone? I do not want to work, I want just to play!" And the God told him: "Of course I can create without you, what a question?! But to help me in creation of the universe is a reason for you to play, because, a) itself the creating is an amusing process, trust Me, when I was making you, I felt a real surge of creative powers! and b) the universe will become for you such an amusing plaything, with all its creatures, especially with humans who are the most amusing of all, for they will start doing all kinds of funny things (unfortunately also nasty stupidities), that will provide us an ample reason to laugh and amuse ourselves!" "Ok, then! Tell me how to help you and I will try my best!" And so then God and His created son started to create the universe, or more precisely, God started to create out of nothing alone (how otherwise!) and then the son was making some small adjustments at the God’s behest and instruction.:)

The Son is called "son" only because He is born from the Father and as born has the very same nature and that He is absolutely, ontologically necessary for the Father in the act of creation, which act is one act likewise belonging to the Father and the Son.

Now, if the act of creation of the entire vastness of the universe is necessarily a joint action, can any other divine action be not such and not a joint one? Impossible! Now, when Father subjects the "everything" to Christ does He or can He, the Father, perform this act of subjecting without His Son/Logos? - Impossible, as demonstrated above. Thus, even this subjection is Their, the Father and the Son's joint act. But was not the everything subjected to the Son from the very moment of its, the everything's, creation? Yes, it was subjected to Him just as it was subjected to the Father. But then, if Christ is the Son-incarnate, that is to say, the very uncreated Person of the Son who has adopted a human nature, how He, the co-Sovereign with the Father, can find Himself as not yet having everything under His subjection, but in the process towards achieving this status?

The only solution is that here we speak not about the uncreated Son/Logos qua His uncreatedness, but qua His created human nature. Yes, historically, in the history of the universal salvation till the Second Coming, the humanity will undergo a process of liberation from sin and death, and as many as will desire this liberation through Christ, will get it, and eventually all such humans will be enthroned together with Christ as adopted children of God, through Christ - the only natural Son. And this is a process, the process of healing the fallen and bruised human nature and perfecting it to the "to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). And to such victorious men the everything will be subjected only and exclusively through Christ, in whom and through whom they will defeat the powers of darkness, and thus even a human nature of created men will become a ruler of the entire universe, just like Christ's human nature is.

That is why the plural of the Psalms is transferred into the singular of Hebrews, because the plurality of the mankind can achieve this status of ruling over all only through one singular human - the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God.

Thus, the Logos is not subjected to the Father qua God, but only qua His God-manhood, that is to say, according to His human nature. Just like the Logos who is co-unbegan and co-eternal and co-unending with the Father cannot die qua Logos, but only qua His human nature, which He adopted for always, for after the Incarnation some two thousand+ years ago, God is no more bodiless, but in one of Hypostases, that of the Son, has also a human, created nature, including human body, and this is and will be forever so.

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