5 For to what angel did God ever say, “Thou are my Son, today I have begotten thee (Ps. 2:7)”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (2 Sam. 7:14)”? 6 And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him. (Ps. 97:7)” 7 Of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire. (Ps. 104:4)” 8 But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast love righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades. (Ps. 45:6-7)” 10 And, “Thou, Lord, didst found the earth at the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all grow old like a garment, 12 like a mantle you wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end. (Ps. 102:25-27)” 13 But to what angel has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet” (Ps. 110:1)? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those about to inherit salvation?
This passage is clearly connected to the preceding one by the word “For”. The word “For” here indicates that the author is attempting to prove or substantiate the point he just made. And that point is, “When he had made purification (or cleansing) for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited. (1:3b-4)” The “he” the author is referring to here is the Son, the One by whom God has spoken in these last days, the very self-revelation of God. Unlike all the ways God had spoken before, the Son Himself is the speaking. He is revealing, in His very person, Himself as God, and so all of who He is, is included in this speaking.
And because the word that ushers in the last age is the Son Himself, it includes the event of His whole incarnate life, death, resurrection, and ascension. And what we see here, is that when God speaks by His Son, we are changed, we are affected. We see in Jesus the very heart and purposes of God, but God also actually brings about His purposes for us through this word, this Son. The eternal Son of God breaks into the very time and space He created with His Father, and in and through His life and death, He makes purification of sin. Having accomplished this cleansing for us, He ascends back to the Father and sits at His right hand, but now as the glorified incarnate Son.
So this event, this movement that the Son goes through to be the word now spoken by God gives Him an inheritance, as this incarnate word, this self-revelation which is far superior to the angels. Now, as I said before, what this exactly means will be unfolded the rest of Hebrews, so we will not try to delve any deeper now.
But it is this last statement, that this word is far superior to the angels and the name He has inherited is so much great than theirs, that the author is substantiating in this next section. You’ll notice that he is quoting several Old Testament passages here to contrast the angels and the Son. These passages are actually all quoted from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was done about 200 years before Christ. It is known as the Septuagint or the LXX, because the tradition is that seventy scholars worked on it. Over the years after the Babylonian captivity and the diaspora, more and more Jews spoke Greek as their first language and it became necessary to translate the scriptures so that these Jews could read it. The author of Hebrews, who clearly is very fluent in Greek, always quotes from the Septuagint. Now, if you go back and look up the references in your Old Testament, you will find some differences, because our Old Testaments are translated from the Hebrew, not the Greek.
As I said in my introduction to Hebrews, the author is addressing a group that has begun to add to their trust in Jesus. For a variety of reasons, they are hoping to have more power or control over their current circumstances and so they are becoming “Jesus and …” Christians. I doubt they think they are drifting away from Christ. They probably thought they were just adding in either some new spiritual techniques or older traditions that they hope with enrich and strengthen their relationship with God.
In the first few verses, the author begins to deal with the false view that Christ is just one more in the long line of prophets that have gone before Him. Now, the author distinguishes Christ from the angels. Angels had always been important in Jewish history. They had often appeared to individuals with messages from God, or had helped lead Israel’s armies. They were naturally held in reverence by the Jewish people.
At the time of the author’s writing of this letter, there was a lot of interest in and speculation about various heavenly beings. This interest was partly fueled by ideas from the Greek philosophers. There was a popular idea that the earth, material things like bodies and food, were bad, heavy, impure and that the heavens and heavenly beings were good, light, and pure. This philosophy stated that the best thing humans could do was to try to escape from the material and become part of the spiritual since that was so much better. Some of these philosophers held that there were ascending levels in the heavenlies, each level with various spiritual beings attending to it.
In other words, the direction to move in, for a better life, was away from earthly concerns and towards the pure realms of the heavens. Naturally, in this thinking, angels are far superior to any being that has inhabited the earth. Angels would be considered by many to be superior servants of God over any human messengers. So the Son, who came to earth and took on human flesh, while He is great, He is either as good as the angels, or maybe the angels were still superior to Him because they had not ever taken on our impure humanity.
The argument that the author presents to his readers here to prove the superiority of the incarnate Son over the angels is brilliant. He goes back to several passages in their Jewish scriptures to show that, even before the incarnation, God had made it clear in the words He had spoken previously by the prophets, that His Son was God with Him and is superior to His servants, the angels. This new word, spoken in the last days, was prepared for and pointed to by the very words God spoke by the prophets to men of old. By quoting all of these scriptures, the author underlines the superiority of the Son to all of the scriptures. All that came before were signs pointing to the reality of the Son, who is the word spoken in these last days. The difference between God’s words by the prophets and God’s word by His Son is as great as the difference between a sign pointing to Chicago, and Chicago itself!
And the verses the author chooses to quote demonstrate just as large a contrast between the Son and the angels. Jesus is not just another heavenly being, or even the greatest of the angels. To turn to trusting in angels, because trusting in the Son may not be enough, is exposed here for the foolishness that it is.
Before we consider the main points that the author is making, I just want to comment on the validity of the author’s use of these verses. It may seem to us that he is stretching it by using some of these verses to make his point. But he isn’t. The understanding that the rabbis had of their scripture was that it always contained more than one meaning and that there was a meaning beyond the immediate or obvious. The writer is arguing in the way of what was considered good Jewish interpretation in his day.
Instead of working our way through this passage one verse at a time, we will just look at the main points the author brings up. Most of the psalms quoted here and the passage in 2 Samuel have to do with the Davidic line. They are therefore Messianic and royal psalms, pertaining to God’s anointing of the Davidic king, whom He refers to as His son. These passages stress the unique relationship God has to this first-born or begotten son. The Son is the one whose reign is forever, whom angels worship, and who is anointed by God and honored by God in being given the seat at His right hand. It is God Himself who will subdue the Son’s enemies. The author makes it clear that this king, however, is not just one more descendent of David’s. He is human, He is descended from David, but He is God Himself, v. 8 “But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God …’” and v. 10 “‘Thou, Lord, didst found the earth at the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.’”
This second passage, which comes from Psalm 102:25-27 not only speaks of the Son’s role in creation, but also contrasts the eternal, uncreated nature of the Son with everything else—which is created. Everything else, the earth and the heavens, quotes the author, “‘will perish…they will grow old like a garment, like a mantle you will roll them up. (vv. 11-12)’” But, “‘you remain… you are the same, and your years will never end.’” The angels are created beings, but the Son is the creator.
The angels are not sons, they are servants. In fact, the author concludes this section by reminding his readers that the angels are sent forth to serve, “for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.”—in others words, to serve the readers themselves!
The author, in quoting all of these passages demonstrates the greatness of this Son, by whom God has now spoken to us. There is no need to look around for new or old ideas to add to our faith in Jesus. This word is the word!
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