Hebrews 1:7-14

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

CHRIST IS SUPERIOR TO ANGELS

INTRODUCTION:

 

The occasion of Hebrews was the need to exhort Jews who had professed belief in Jesus as the Messiah to hold fast their profession in difficult times and to go on to maturity in the faith.

 

As a result of severe persecution the readers of Hebrews had encountered after they had become Christians, some were apparently contemplating abandoning Christianity and returning to Judaism, believing that Christianity was not all that they had expected it to be. Hebrews was written to demonstrate that Christianity is better than and has taken the place of Judaism, i.e. that God’s revelation in Christ is superior to the revelation that came through the Old Testament and has superseded it.

 

The key word in Hebrews is better. Hebrews contains a series of contrasts between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ. Christ is better than the prophets, better than the angels, better than Moses, than Joshua, and than Aaron; and the New Covenant is better than the Mosaic Covenant.

 

   A.     Although God spoke formerly to the fathers by the prophets - 1:1

 

            1.   At many times - 1:1

            2.   In many ways - 1:1

 

   B.    God has spoken in these last days by His Son - 1:2-3

 

            1.   Christ has been appointed heir of all things - 1:2

            2.   Through Christ God the Father made the worlds - 1:2

            3.   Christ is the brightness of God the Father’s glory - 1:3

            4.   Christ is the express image of God the Father’s person - 1:3

            5.   Christ upholds all things by the word of His own power - 1:3

            6.   Christ purged believers’ sins - 1:3

            7.   Christ sat down on the right hand of God the Father - 1:3

 

In Hebrews 1:4-2:18 , we see that Christ is superior to the angels. We expect to take several sessions to complete these two chapters.

 

We have already seen that Christ is superior to angels because –

      1.   CHRIST HAS A MORE EXCELLENT NAME THAN ANGELS HAVE – 1:4-5

 

Hebrews 1:4-54 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

 

We have also already seen that Christ is superior to angels because –

      2.   CHRIST IS WORSHIPED BY THE ANGELS AS THE FIRSTBORN - 1:6

 

Hebrews 1:6 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

As we move on, we see that Christ is superior to angels because –

    I.     CHRIST IS GOD - 1:8-13

 

We are skipping verse 7 here and will pick it up later in connection with verse 14.

 

Verses 8-9 are quoted from Psalms 45:6-7 .

 

Psalms 45:6-76 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

 

We note that –

            1.   Christ is addressed as God by God the Father - 1:8

 

Hebrews 1:8 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God. . . .

 

The angels are never addressed as God by God the Father, but Christ is.

 

We also note that –

            2.   Christ has an eternal throne - 1:8

 

Hebrews 1:8 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne . . . is for ever and ever. . . .

 

Thy throne . . . is forever and ever indicates that Jesus will reign throughout eternity. There has never been a time when His throne did not exist, and there never will be a time. The fact that His throne exists forever and ever indicates that His rule exists forever and ever. By contrast, angels are created beings who have not always existed. They had a beginning at the time of their creation. Since Christ is eternal and angels are not, He is superior to them.

 

In addition, we note that –

            3.   Christ has a righteous scepter - 1:8

 

Hebrews 1:8 8 But unto the Son he saith . . . a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

 

As is characteristic of a king, Christ has a scepter. A scepter is a rod or staff held by a king symbolizing his authority as king.

 

The scepter of thy kingdom means that the scepter found in Christ’s kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.

 

This is not the ordinary word translated righteousness in the New Testament meaning uprightness. Here, the word translated righteousness is literally straightness. The scepter is righteous in the sense that there is absolutely nothing crooked in the way He functions as king. Everything is straight. Everything is right. There are no favorites. Justice is never perverted. Justice is always correctly and properly meted out. Everyone will always be treated fairly, equally, and justly.

 

We furthermore note that –

            4.   Christ is anointed over His companions - 1:9

 

Hebrews 1:9 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

 

Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity indicates that Christ’s character is holy. He is characterized by holiness and righteousness, and there is no sin whatsoever in Him. He has never had any kind of delight in sin.

 

Therefore is because of this, i.e. because You, Christ, love righteousness and hate lawlessness.

 

God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows refers to God the Father.

 

Thy is Your and refers to Christ.

 

Even serves to bring out the emphasis found in the text of restricting the God spoken about in this verse as being Christ’s God, i.e. God the Father.

 

Hath anointed thee is has anointed You and suggests an action completed in the past and considered in its entirety. Its emphasis is on the result of its action.

 

Thee is You and refers to Christ.

 

With the oil of gladness is with the oil which produces gladness (i.e. with the oil which produces exultation or joy) or it is with the oil which is gladness (i.e. with the oil which is exultation or joy). In either case, Christ has gladness, exultation, and joy.

 

Hath anointed indicates action which occurred in the past, the result of which has continued on to the present time. Inasmuch as Christ was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death and then crowned with glory and honour according to Hebrews 2:9 , the anointing with the oil of gladness would seem to have occurred at the time of His exaltation and glorification following His resurrection and His ascension. This is reminiscent of Ephesians 1:18-23 and Philippians 2:5-11 .

 

Ephesians 1:18-2318 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

 

Philippians 2:5-115 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Back to Hebrews 1:9

Has anointed thee above thy fellows suggests has anointed You more than Your partners or has anointed You beyond Your companions or associates.

 

Thy refers to Christ, and His companions are those who have believed in Him.

 

Fellows is the same word translated partakers in Hebrews 3:14 , where it refers to believers. It is the same ones referred to as many sons whom God is bringing to glory in Hebrews 2:10 and to the many sons in Hebrews 2:11 . In these verses in Hebrews 2 , it is referring to saved people just like it does in this verse.

 

Moreover, we note that –

            5.   Christ is the eternal creator - 1:10-12

 

Verses 10-12 are quoted from Psalms 102:25-27 .

 

Psalms 102:25-2725 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. 26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old [i.e. grow old] like a garment; as a vesture [i.e. like a cloak, like clothing] shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: 27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

 

Hebrews 1:10-1210 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 

Thou is emphatic and refers to Christ.

 

Lord addresses Jesus as Lord. Inasmuch as Psalms 102 is attributing these things to the LORD, i.e. to Yahweh or Jehovah, there is a clear implication in this verse that Jesus is Yahweh or Jehovah, thus emphasizing His deity.

 

In the beginning suggests in the very beginning, i.e. in the origin of the universe.

 

Hast thou laid the foundation of the earth suggests that Jesus created the earth.

 

Furthermore, in the heavens are the works of thine hands, where thine refers to Christ.

 

The heavens refer to the stellar and the atmospheric heavens in their entirety.

 

The works of thine hands suggests that Jesus made or fashioned the heavens and the earth as a craftsman would make or fashion something. It is figurative language employed to indicate that Jesus created the heavens as well as the earth.

 

Hebrews 1:11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment.

 

Verse 11 continues the quotation from Psalms 102:25-27 begun in verse 10.

 

They refers to the heavens as well as to the earth. They will eventually pass away as is indicated by shall perish. They will be destroyed. Although the heavens and the earth appear to be permanent when contrasted with human beings, their existence is seen to be only temporary when they are contrasted with the eternal God.

 

But thou remainest forms a contrast with they shall perish.

 

Thou is emphatic and refers to Christ.

 

Remainest is also emphatic and suggests You remain endlessly or You abide through. Its tense indicates an ongoing activity, and the phrase thou remainest indicates the eternality of Christ.

 

They again refers to the earth as well as to the heavens.

 

All includes all of the heavens and the earth.

 

Shall . . . wax old means shall become old, shall wear out, or shall become obsolete.

 

As doth a garment suggests how the heavens and earth will become old.

 

A garment is an article of clothing which eventually wears out and has to be replaced; similarly, the universe will eventually become obsolete and will be replaced.

 

Hebrews 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 

Verse 12 continues the quotation from Psalms 102:25-27 begun in verse 10.

 

In the statement as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, them refers to the heavens and the earth.

 

A vesture is a covering, a wrap, or a cloak.

 

Shalt thou fold them up (i.e. You (Christ) will roll them up) is predictive of a future event which will definitely take place. As one would fold up a coat to put it away because it is worn out and obsolete, so the Lord Jesus Christ will one day fold up the heavens and the earth.

 

Furthermore, they shall be changed indicates that the heavens and the earth will be altered. It is likewise predictive of a future event which will definitely take place. This is seen to occur in Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:1 .

 

Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

 

But introduces a contrast with what has been said regarding the heavens and the earth.

 

Thou, i.e. You, is emphatic and refers to Christ.

 

Art the same indicates that there is no change in Christ. He is immutable or changeless. He is always God the Son, and He always possesses all the attributes of deity.

 

And thy years shall not fail indicates that Christ will not grow old and run out of years or time.

 

Thy years suggests Christ’s time of existence. Whereas the heavens and the earth are temporary, Christ is eternal.

 

Shall not fail suggests shall not come to an end or shall not give out, thus reminding the readers of the eternality of Christ.

 

Finally, we note that –

            6.   Christ is seated at the right hand of God - 1:13

 

Hebrews 1:13 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

 

Verse 13 is given in contrast to what has been said in verses 8-12 and follows the format of verse 5 where two rhetorical questions were asked. But introduces the contrast.

 

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

 

Back to verse 13 –

To which of the angels said He at any time considers the entire group of angels and suggests that to none of them did He ever at any time make the statement found in this verse.

 

Said indicates action completed in past time with the result continuing on and means Has He said, Has He spoken, or Has He declared.

 

He is God the Father.

 

At any time is the same word used in verse 5 meaning at some time or other of the past, once, or formerly. The clear implication is that God the Father has never said any such thing to any of the angels.

 

What He said was said to God the Son. It is, Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool, a quotation from Psalms 110:1 .

 

Psalms 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

 

To sit on my right hand, where my refers to God the Father, means co-reign with Me.

 

My right hand is an anthropomorphism, which means that a human quality is attributed to God the Father so that human beings can understand what is being said. God is a spirit and does not have a right hand.

 

Until I make thine enemies thy footstool suggests that God the Father is not yet finished. Someday Christ will rule, but He is not presently reigning in all His fullness.

 

Thy footstool suggests that the enemies will be completely subjected or subordinated under Christ’s dominion and pictures Him as completely victorious over them. The fact that the victory belongs to Christ and not to the angels demonstrates that Christ is superior to the angels.

We furthermore see that Christ is superior to angels because –

  II.     ANGELS ARE MINISTERING SPIRITS - 1:7, 14

 

Verse 7 is quoted from Psalms 104:4 . The thought of verse 7 is summarized and repeated in verse 14.

 

Hebrews 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

 

Verse 7 indicates a contrast between things God has said regarding Christ and things God has said regarding the angels, and it is said in contrast to what follows.

 

In the Greek text a small word which is not translated into the English text follows the word translated and. This word is often left untranslated; but had it been translated, it would suggest and on the one hand in contrast to but or but on the other hand in verse 8.

 

Of the angels is to the angels. It does not mean that God the Father was merely speaking about the angels; He was speaking to them.

 

He saith is He said and refers to God the Father.

 

What He said was, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire, which is quoted from Psalms 104:4 .

 

Psalms 104:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.

 

Who maketh is the One who makes and refers to God the Father.

 

His angels includes the entire class of beings known as angels.

 

The fact that they are his means that they belong to God the Father.

 

What He makes them are spirits.

 

He also makes His ministers to be a flame of fire, i.e. a fiery flame or a flaming fire.

 

Ministers is a term used of servants, but always with a religious connotation. It is used in this verse of angels. Thus, angels have been made both spirits and religious servants. This thought is summarized and repeated in verse 14.

 

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

 

Verse 14 asks a question about angels, and its form indicates that a positive answer is expected. The structure of the question, Are they not all ministering spirits? suggests, They are all ministering spirits, are they not? Yes, they are.

 

They all refers to the angels and includes every one of them without exception.

 

Ministering spirits are the same words used of angels in verse 7.

 

Ministering describes spirits and means serving or in holy service. It is a term used of service in a religious setting.

 

Spirits refers to angels and means that they are spirit beings.

 

Angels have also been sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.

 

To minister for is for the sake of service for or for the sake of ministry for and indicates the purpose for which angels have been sent.

 

Them who shall be heirs of salvation is literally them who are about to inherit salvation and refers to believers, i.e. those who have been saved or delivered from their sins and from the consequences of their sins and who will some day also be delivered from the very presence of sin when their salvation is brought to completion with the redemption of their bodies.

 

Although the position of angels is indeed glorious, it is nothing in comparison to the position of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is far superior in every way to the angels whom He has created. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, but angels are ministering spirits.

CONCLUSION:

 

We have seen that Christ is God and is, therefore, superior to angels whom He created to be ministering servants.

 

Next time we will see in 2:1-4 that Christ is superior to angels because what Christ has said carries more authority than what angels have said.