Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth [or, of heavenly, earthly, and infernal beings]; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (vv. 9-11)
This is the glorious fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 110—a prophecy used by our Lord to confound the cavilers of His day, who professed to be waiting for the promised Messiah, but rejected His deity. “[Jehovah] said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (v. 1). He is David’s Son—the Branch of David, yet David calls Him Lord, because He is likewise the Root of David. He descended from Jesse’s son, yet the son of Jesse came into being through Him. His exaltation as man to the throne of God is not only Jehovah’s attestation of perfect satisfaction in His work, but also the recognition of His equality with Himself. This Man, who had so humbled Himself as to go even to the death of the cross, is Jehovah’s Fellow, as Zechariah 13:7 declares. Of none but a divine Person could such language be rightly used.
It is interesting to notice that God never permitted one indignity to be put upon the body of His Son after His work was finished, as the Roman soldier, having pierced His side, released the atoning blood. No enemies’ hands thenceforth touched it. Loving disciples tenderly took it down from the cross and reverently laid it away in Joseph’s new tomb after wrapping it in the linen clothes.
Then, upon the expiration of the time appointed, He who had died came forth in resurrection life, and God the Father received Him up into glory. He has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name. He is the preeminent one in every sphere. How suited it is that His glory should thus answer to His shame. “As many were astonished at Him … so shall He astonish many nations” (Isa. 52:14-15, literal rendering). God has ordained it, and so it must be. At the name of Jesus—His personal name, which means Jehovah-the-Savior—the name borne upon the title placed above His head as He hung upon the cross—every knee shall bow: heavenly, earthly, and infernal beings—all must own Him Lord of all.
Observe that here, where it is a question of the recognition of His authority, three spheres are brought in, comprising all created intelligent beings—in heaven, earth, and hell. There will be no exceptions. All must confess His Lordship to the glory of God the Father. All must bow in lowly submissiveness at the mention of the name of the Crucified.
Does this then imply universal salvation, even the final restoration of Satan and his hosts, as some have taught? Surely not.
Subjugation is one thing; reconciliation is another. When the latter is in question, we have but two spheres mentioned, as in Colossians 1:20: “Having made peace by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” There is here no mention of the underworld. The lost will never be reconciled. Heaven and earth will eventually be filled with happy beings who have been redeemed to God by the precious blood of Christ. Then reconciliation will be complete.
But “under the earth” will be those who “have their part” in the outer darkness, the lake of fire. They flaunted Christ’s authority on earth. They will have to own it in hell! They refused to heed the call of grace and be reconciled to God in the day when they might have been saved. In the pit of woe no gospel message will ever be proclaimed, but the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ will be supremely enforced there too. There will be no disorder in hell; no further rebellion will be permitted. All must bow at the name of Jesus and every tongue confess Him Lord. Scripture depicts no wild pandemonium when describing the abode of the lost.
How blessed to own His Lordship now, according as it is written, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth [Jesus as Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). How fitting it is that such, and such alone, should be eternally saved as a result of the work of the cross.