At our church weekend away, Jonny Mellor took us to Psalm 8 during the morning prayer meeting. Chatting with Jonny, we were both struck by the way that Psalm 8 seems to resonate through into Ephesians 1.
In Psalm 8:4-6 we are told:
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b] and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
The focus is on humanity, our status is set as a little lower than the “Elohim” -this could be a reference to a plurality of “gods” or heavenly beings, in other words, the angels or given that the plural of El is often used as an intensifier to refer to Yahweh, then the point could be that we were made a little lower only than God.
The Psalm on one level points to humans as having great value, created in God’s image to serve him and blessed by him, receiving honour from him and being commissioned to subdue and rule over creation. The New Testament takes the words and applies them directly to Jesus and his incarnation. He leaves heaven, becoming lower than angels but is raised up and exalted through the resurrection to the highest place.
Now read Ephesians 1. About Jesus, Paul says that God
…raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Here, we see the Son of Man raised up, crowned with glory, receiving honour and having dominion. However, notice also this. First, in Ephesians 1:3 we are told that God has
… blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”
How has this been made possible? Well the theme in Ephesians 1 is that we are “in Christ.” He is the one who is raised, exalted, glorified, reigning but we are in him, united to his death and resurrection so that where he is, we are. In chapter 2 verses 5-6, Paul writes
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,.”
There we have it again. We are raised up from our lowly position brought about by the fall through God’s grace. We get to sit with Christ, on his throne and to reign with him. Jesus says “come and sit with me.”
Psalm 8 imagery is clearly present in Ephesians 1-2. Christ is the one who was temporarily made a little lower than the angels but raised, crowned with glory and given dominion. This has come to him not just because of his deity but because he is the second Adam, the representative man. Therefore, in him, God raises us up too.