On Being Greater Than Angels

Since yesterday’s post on interpreting difficult OT passages continues to generate vigorous discussion, I encourage you to read that post and jump into the fray.

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But, not wanting to deprive you of something fresh for today, I thought I’d follow up ever so briefly on the idea that ancient Jewish people might have held idealized humanity to occupy a higher place in the cosmic order than angels.

This time, the indication comes from Paul:

When someone in your assembly has a legal case against another member, do they dare to take it to court to be judged by people who aren’t just, instead of by God’s people? Or don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to judge trivial cases? Don’t you know that we will judge angels? Why not ordinary things? (1 Cor 6:1-3, CEB)

First, we need to be aware that Paul has in mind an idealized humanity as those who judge the world for God. Those who are “in Christ” will play this role: “Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world?”

In other words, this is not about “humanity” as such being higher than angels, but idealized humanity, those who are in the second and last and glorified Adam.

Second, the judgment God’s people exercise extends not merely to the world but also to the angels.

In Paul’s cosmology, redeemed humanity occupies a higher place in the cosmic order than angels. This overflows beyond the talk of judgment into other exalted functions such as ruling over the age to come (Rom 5:17).

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