Summary: Angels are awesome beings capable of great feats. But are they to be worshipped? We look at the differences between angels and the son of God, Jesus Christ.
Angels - the Greek word for angels means literally "messenger." Angels were created by God for certain purposes - but because of their nature men in the past have actually worshipped them and placed more emphasis on angels than they ought.
Among some first century churches angels were the object of worship - especially in the proto-Gnosticism that was rampant in Colossae, Ephesus, and Crete. You’d be impressed if you met one face to face. Accounts in the Bible tell us that most of the time people fell down like dead men when confronting such a being. In fact, usually the angels have to tell the people they meet not to be afraid.
Angels are powerful and awesome to behold. One angel alone killed 185,000 men in one night when the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem (2 Kings 19).
1. Angels are spiritual beings created by God and are under his authority (Col 1:16).
2. Help carry out God’s work on earth by bringing God’s messages to people (Luke 1:26; Rev 14:6-12),
3. Protect God’s people (Dan 6:22 Lion’s Den; Matt 18:10 protects kids),
4. Offer encouragement (Gen 16:7 ff. Hagar in the desert),
5. Give guidance (Ex 14:19 At the Red Sea - confusing Egypt army),
6. Carry out punishment (2 Sam 24:16 plague on Israel after census by David),
7. Patrol the earth (Zech 1:9-14 "go about the whole earth"), and
8. Fight the forces of evil (2 Kings 6:16-18 Dothan - Elisha - angels surrounded army; Rev 20:1-2 Angel seizes the dragon and hurls into abyss for 1,000 years).
Fallen angels are known as demons - and yes, they too are powerful beings you don’t want to mess with. But as impressive as angels are there are some things they are not:
Angels are not omniscient - they can’t read your mind
Omnipresent - they aren’t everywhere at once - even though they are fast
Omnipotent - their powers are limited
Can only do what God allows them to do (even the demons)
Cannot create or sustain anything
Cannot have faith or be saved
Always point to God’s glory - not their own
Even so - many even to this day worship angels. And Christians in the first century were tempted to give them a higher place than they ought.
Jehovah witnesses teach that Jesus was Michael the Archangel. Jesus is not an elevated angelic being. Mormons believe that Jesus was a cherub, the brother of Lucifer. When God wanted to redeem the world he asked both to give their plans of redemption. God chose Jesus’ plan and it made Lucifer angry so he came to earth to frustrate Jesus’ plan through sibling rivalry. Jesus is not the brother to Lucifer. He is not the opposite of God - they are in totally different categories.
There are five ways in verses 5-14 that the author uses to show that Jesus is superior - by how angels are different than Jesus.
Different in Name
4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Names gave the essence of a person. Here Jesus is given the name "son" while the angels are given the name "messenger."
Jesus’ name is "superior" - not just the name Yeshua - Joshua - but the title of "Son of God" that the Father gave Jesus as a permanent possession.
Different in Nature
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"?
The angels are not part of the Trinity. God could never say that of Michael or Lucifer.
Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"?
This comes from 2 Samuel 7 - God said it to David when David told God he wanted to build a house for Him. Nathan the prophet had to tell him that he couldn’t. But God wanted David to know that He would build David a house - his seed would sit on God’s throne - and he would be God’s Son.
The angels have God as creator, not Father.
6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God’s angels worship him."
The Septuagint (70 scholars) is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. This is where this quote comes from. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quotes only from the Septuagint even when it differs from the original Hebrew.
Here God has emphatically stated that angels are to worship the "firstborn." Who is that? Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Different in Purpose
7 In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire."