Summary: Scripture proofs for the superiority of Jesus.
A NAME MORE EXCELLENT
The high Christology of Hebrews 1 bears comparison with that of John 1:1-14. We are first reminded of the many and various ways that God spoke through the prophets in times past (Hebrews 1:1). Then we are informed that the final word of God has now come to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2).
Several propositions are made about the Person of our Lord. He is the Son of God, the heir of all things, and the agent of Creation (Hebrews 1:2). He is the outward expression of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His being; the sustainer of Creation; and both priest and sacrifice to purge away our sins; and He is exalted to God’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3).
As such, Jesus is seen to be infinitely superior to the angels (Hebrews 1:4). The writer to the Hebrews elaborates this latter point with several Old Testament quotations. To us his methodology may seem strange: but if we understand Scripture the way that Jesus evidently did, then we will see that it was always pointing to Him (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27).
The method seems to be the same as that of Matthew’s Gospel, where the Apostle will take a Scripture seemingly right out of context, and will invest it with new meaning. For example, who but a Spirit-led, inspired writer would have associated Herod’s massacre of the infants in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18) with the metaphorical weeping of Rachel at the time of the exile (cf. Jeremiah 31:15)? Or the holy family’s sojourn in Egypt (Matthew 2:14-15) with God’s calling of Israel out of exile (cf. Hosea 11:11)?
The unknown - but inspired - writer to the Hebrews builds his case in favour of Jesus being superior to the angels by, first, following through on the idea of Jesus being:
(a) the heir of all things (cf. Hebrews 1:2). He quotes several texts under this head, with a string of rhetorical questions (Hebrews 1:5-9). Whereas the angels are just messengers (as their name means), Jesus is the Son of God (Hebrews 1:5; cf. Psalm 2:7).
The ‘son of David’ par excellence is not Solomon, as might be thought from 2 Samuel 7:14, but ultimately Christ (Hebrews 1:5). The incarnation gets a mention (Hebrews 1:6), and “all the angels of God” are called to worship Jesus (cf. Deuteronomy 32:43). As for the angels, they are not without their own dignity: they are winds and flames of God’s purposes (Hebrews 1:7; cf. Psalm 104:4).
The writer then moves on to his second head, whereby he confirms Jesus as:
Staying in the same part of the Old Testament, the writer also confirms his assertion that Jesus is:
Finally, our writer emphasizes:
(d) the exaltation of the Son to the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:13; cf. Hebrews 1:3). He quotes the words of the LORD God to our Lord Jesus (Psalm 110:1) at His reception into heaven (cf. Daniel 7:13-14). ‘Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’ (Hebrews 1:3) is where Jesus has been since His ascension.
Just to round off the argument, we are reminded that the angels are ‘ministering spirits sent forth to serve the heirs of salvation’ (Hebrews 1:14). They ministered to Jesus, and to the saints of both the Old and the New Testament – and no doubt continue their unassuming ministry amongst Jesus’ people in every generation.
However, we are not to worship the angels (Revelation 22:8-9) – we are to worship God.