5 “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘you are my Son; today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’
7 Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’
8 But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions’.
10 And, ‘In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing;
12 like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”
13 But to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” Hebrews 1:5-14
One of the great themes of Hebrews is that Jesus is superior to Moses, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all the hero’s of the faith outlined in chapter eleven. But, it is in these verses in chapter one we see that Jesus is superior to the Angels and that was an important teaching for the early church.
No one is quite sure when Angels began to be highlighted and in some cases worshipped by believers, but it seems from the space allotted to the discussion in chapter one that Angel worship was prevalent in the church to which the Author is addressing.
Verse 4 makes it clear Jesus is better than Angels so we have to ask ourselves, How is He better and how much better is He than the Angels? First of all “the name He has obtained is more excellent than theirs”. (v. 4) So we have to ask ourselves a further question, what name did He inherit that shows He is greater than the Angels?
Now this is important; when Christ died He triumphed over sin and death and Satan. Chapter 2:14 reads, “”Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
No, Jesus did not have a sinful nature and this verse explains what nature Jesus inherited in regards to humanity—it was our flesh and blood, our body. This text makes it clear that the Bible writers are talking about the human body when they speak of Jesus having the nature of mankind. He does not have the fallen sinful nature of humanity but simply the flesh and blood that makes Him human.
This is basically the point of Hebrews 1:5-13. If Angels are sinless and live in a world of sinlessness, then how could Jesus be superior to them if He Himself suffered under a sinful nature or had a propensity to sin? Jesus instead is the sinless, perfect, obedient sacrifice who gave of Himself freely to be our substitute for sin at Calvary’s cross that we might have life and that life more abundantly.
Now, Hebrews 1:4 tells us that He was enthroned as the King and seated at the right hand of God. This is important for our study. When a King was enthroned in the Old Testament there was a declaration that the new King was formally taking the title and inheritance, which had been His from birth. Psalm 2:7, “You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.”
These words of Kingship were never offered to Angels or associated with them as stated in Hebrews 1:5. What is so superior to the Angels is the son’s name and that name is “Son of God.” Romans 1:4 couldn’t be clearer on this, “And designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus, is designated Son of God in power through the resurrection.
No Angel suffered death and resurrection on our, or anyone else’s behalf. Only Jesus the true heir, the true Son of God, accomplished such an amazing love and sacrifice for us. The point of Hebrews 1:5-13 is that even though Jesus has always been Son of God and heir and creator of all things (see verse two), it is only when He triumphed over death, Satan, and sin that He fulfilled His mission and took His rightful spot as Son and Heir and sat down at the right hand of the Father. Jesus reigns, not only because of His eternal right as God, but as the God/Man He reins by right of His victory over sin, death, and Satan. He is the victorious King who has vanquished all foes and returned to His kingdom to claim His rightful spot at the Father’s side.
No Angel ever won such a victory for us, died for us, was resurrected, and sat at the right hand of the Father. No Angel was legal heir and heir through victory over the powers of Satan, sin, and death.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear in verse six that the Angels are to worship Jesus, “Let all God’s Angels worship Him.” Let me just quickly sum up what is said in the rest of the verses in Hebrews 1:5-13.
First Jesus is the Son of God in a way no Angel ever was. (v. 5) Secondly Angels worship Jesus (v.6), and thirdly we are reminded Jesus is the eternal Creator of all things. (v. 10-12) The fourth statement of fact regarding Jesus is that He is seated at the right hand of God and Angels are His ministering agents to a lost world. (See verse 14)
Angels, according to verse 6, were created to worship God and according to verse 14 they are to minister to us on behalf of God. The focus of their worship is toward God who is their Lord and God and their ministry is toward us on behalf of their God.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt these verses proclaim that Jesus is Lord and God, creator of the world, redeemer of mankind and ruler of Angels. Any religious group who tries to reduce Jesus to a created being in the sense of a glorified Angel or a second rate god has missed the point of what is being said in these first verses of Hebrews. Jesus is greater than Angels because He is the creator of Angels. Though everything in the world might change Jesus will never change and His years never end. (v. 12) No Angel has ever been invited to sit at God’s right hand (v. 13) nor has any other created being.
One last thing that we should mention in closing, and that is the term first-born as it confuses some people. It is not used in Hebrews to state that Jesus had a birth sometime in the past. John 1:1 makes it clear that Jesus is eternal. The term is often used to designate someone as the pre-eminent one. For instance, in the Old Testament, often the literal first born was not the one who was pre-eminent, or received the covenant blessing. The term has more to do with covenant status than actual birth. Likewise, the term Son does not mean inferior to the Father. Son of God and Son of Man are theological terms that stress the differing aspects of Jesus’ ministry towards man and the Father as our great mediator.
I want to thank those of you who have emailed me and encouraged me to continue to write on Hebrews it has been a blessing for me.