Jesus is superior to the angels
The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and as many of the rapid-fire responses the class provided.
How do you view angels?
One class member noted that angels are commissioned with protecting believers.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (Psalms 91:11 NIV)
For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; (Luke 4:10 NIV)
Among a flurry of other responses, another class member noted that Jesus has control over the angels, because angels came to minister to Him after his wilderness temptation.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:11 NIV)
Why do you think the writer had to persuade his audience that Jesus is superior to angels? Do we have such temptations today in proclaiming the superiority of Jesus? What about “Jesus is the only way?” The temptation is not to deny Him outright to get along – a simple change of emphasis on the person of Christ. Here, Christ must be shown to be better than the bearers and mediators of the Old Testament – namely, the angels.
To establish the superiority of Jesus to the angels, the author of Hebrews skillfully builds his case from a string of Old Testament passages.
Does this tell us anything about being knowledgeable about God’s word?
- Jesus is superior to the angels
- Christ is the Son — Hebrews 1:4-5
So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? (Hebrews 1:4-5 NIV)
The writer establishes superiority of the name of Jesus, first, from Psalm 2:7 – Hebrews 1:5a.
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. (Psalms 2:7 NIV)
Psalm 2 was already a famous messianic psalm, understood to be fulfilled in the future by a descendant of David. The words were recalled at the baptism of Jesus – Mark 1:11.
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11 NIV)
Jesus was always God’s Son but the phrase, “today, I have begotten you” or “today, I have become your Father” refers to Christ’s exaltation and enthronement as Son subsequent to the resurrection.
and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:4 NIV)
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “ ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ (Acts 13:32-33 NIV)
“Son” is Jesus’ name that was given exalted declaration in His resurrection and exaltation. No angel ever had that and no angel was ever promised kingship or rule over the heaven and earth. The author also grounds his argument from 2 Samuel 7:14 – “Or again (implying, to which of the angels did God ever say), “I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to Me a Son.” This is also a quotation from a well-known messianic passage, commonly called the Davidic Covenant. The fulfillment of this ancient promise was celebrated in the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33 NIV)
How dare anyone ever think of demoting Him to the position of an archangel, much less to a good man or good teacher. What is your response when you are faced with this comment?
- Christ is the firstborn who receives worship — Hebrews 1:6
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6 NIV)
If the angels worship Him, He must be superior to the angels.
Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NIV)
“Heavens, rejoice with Him, let all the angels worship Him.” These words are the final lines of verse 43 in the song of Moses and the Jews considered these final lines to be messianic. Amazingly, this key phrase, “let all the angels worship Him”, is left out of most modern texts as they follow the Masoretic text. The explanation for why this phrase was omitted is that the Jews removed the annoying reference to worshipping Christ from their Torah. All the literary and archeological sources contained the key phrase up to 150 A.D.
Dead Sea scroll 4Q44 includes the key phrase.
This is probably also a reference to LXX (Septuagint) of Psalm 97:7-“All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols – worship Him all you angels!” The psalmist proclaimed that all the angels were to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. By citing the Greek text, the author of Hebrews makes a sweeping claim: all supernatural beings — angelic or demonic — are inferior to the Son. He also asserts something profound about the person of the Son: He is identified as Yahweh of the Old Testament. Finally, against the unbelieving Jews who may have claimed that worshipping the Messiah as God was tantamount to idolatry, the citation of Psalm 97:7 turns the tables: to not worship the Son, who is both God and man, is blasphemy.
The title, “firstborn”, is one of rank and honor, not chronology. It has nothing to do with time and everything to do with position. The firstborn receives the inheritance and special blessing. Christ is the firstborn of all creation because He created all things.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15 NIV)
“Again” – this is probably a reference to the second coming.
Why do you worship Jesus? How do you worship Him?
- Christ is served by the angels — Hebrews 1:7
In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7 NIV)
This is a quotation from Psalm 104:4.
He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. (Psalms 104:4 NIV)
Angels sometimes served the Lord when He was on the earth and they serve Him and us now. The emphasis of the writer is that angels sometimes spectacularly inhabit wind and fire to do God’s bidding but they are still only servants. Christ, on the other hand, is eternally sovereign. It is Jesus who created the angels.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 NIV)
- Christ is God, enthroned and anointed — Hebrews 1:8-9
But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:8-9 NIV)
This is a quote from Psalm 45:6-7.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalms 45:6-7 NIV)
Angels minister before the throne. They do not sit on the throne. One of the main teachings of Psalm 110 is that Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed (Messiah, Christ) is now enthroned in glory. Jesus refers to this Psalm in Mark 12:35-37. When Christ ascended and entered the heavenly glory, He was anointed for His heavenly ministry with the “oil of gladness.”
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:9 NIV)
Angels praise Him but they cannot share His position or that joy and His throne is forever, which means He is eternal God.
- Christ is the Eternal Creator — Hebrews 1:10-12
He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12 NIV)
Psalm 102:25-27 is cited here.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Psalms 102:25-27 NIV)
The angels did not form the earth – they are part of creation. Jesus Christ is the Creator and one day, He will “uncreate” the current world/universe and bring in a new creation. Revelation and 2 Peter. Everything around us changes but He will never change. He is the “same, yesterday, today and forever.”
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
Christ is immutable and eternal. To the suffering Jewish believers who heard these words about Christ, they must have felt complete relief. The world was falling apart but their superior Christ remained the same – eternal and unchanging. Does this bring you any relief, comfort or peace? Explain.
- Christ is sovereign and the angels are servants — Hebrews 1:13-14
To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:13-14 NIV)
The writer quotes Psalm 110:1.
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalms 110:1 NIV)
Jesus is at the right hand of the Father (the place of honor) which is mentioned many times in the New Testament. Angels are the ministering spirits who serve the Lord on the throne. They also minister to us who are the “heirs of salvation” through faith in Christ rules. Angels serve.
- Christ is the Son — Hebrews 1:4-5