Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5 ESV)
Here is a mystery. Of the innumerable mysteries found in Scripture there are some that scream at us, capturing our attention while others lie hidden among God’s revelation about Himself. Here is a mystery. Who are the heavenly beingsmentioned in this verse? In the Hebrew the phrase is min ĕlôhı̂ym, or out of gods. ĕlôhı̂ym is the word used for God and for gods. The implication is that God is surrounded by gods. These gods are not the Only God but are servants of the only God. Translators have made this word, angels. The ESV uses the term heavenly beings. We are not told who they are but that they are.
God, speaking through David, states two specific truths about Jesus, the Son of God, in this verse. David asserts that Jesus was, in power and authority, set below these heavenly beings and then crowned with glory and honor, or raised above them. Jesus is God, the Son. How can He first be made lower than those beings He created and then raised above them?
Jesus, after opening the eyes of a blind man, declares that He is one with the Father (see John 10:30). The Jews who heard Him, believing that Jesus just blasphemed, making Himself equal with God, picked up stones to stone Him. They were ready to immediately kill Jesus because He saw Himself as an equal to God that, in their thinking, was impossible and unforgiveable.
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken — do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (John 10:34-36 ESV; quoting from Psalm 82:6-7.)
Psalm 82 uses the word ĕlôhı̂ym a number of times to describe both God and the gods. In eternity God surrounds Himself by a council of gods, heavenly beings, whom He has created as His servants just as He created Man to serve Him. God is not the greater of the gods, but the eternal God who has no beginning, who has created beings who have beginnings.
Speaking of people created in His image for intimate relationship with Him, God declares that some of them are separated from Him, the source of life, because of their rebellion. “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince’” (Psalm 82:6-7 ESV; see John 10:34-36). Just because God created a being as His servant, for relationship with Him, does not mean that being cannot be separated from Him for eternity because of rebellion.
Jesus declares that people, those created in God’s image, are like God. God is ĕlôhı̂ym, God. The heavenly beings are ĕlôhı̂ym, gods. People are ĕlôhı̂ym, gods. The word ĕlôhı̂ym, when used of the heavenly beings and of people, is not a name but a title, a position, a description. The implication of Jesus’ words, in John 10 and Psalm 82 and many other places, is that those created in God’s image, carry the privilege and responsibility of service to their Creator. Acting in rebellion with selfish, self-centered intent, instead of in obedience to God according to their very nature and essence, will result in their separation from Him.
God does not want those He has created in His image to exist separated from Him for eternity. This is true for people. We do not know if this is true for any who are created in God’s image who do not physically exist on planet Earth or physically exist in the created universe.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 ESV).