“Angels Worship Jesus” – Hebrews 1:1-14

July 15th, 2018

Hebrews 1:1-14

“Angels Worship Jesus”

Aux. Text: Revelation 7:9-12

Call to Worship: Selected Verses from Psalm 72


Service Orientation:  Angels were the rock stars, the sports heroes, and the cultural icons of the first century.  And yet, angels are God’s created messengers who worship and serve Jesus.  Jesus is far superior to angels.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.— Hebrews 1:4


Background Information:

  • …some of the Jewish believers to whom he was writing were in danger of compromising Jesus’ superiority and lapsing into Judaism. They were under pressure first from the imminent threat of Nero’s persecution for being Christians, and secondly, they were pressured because of ostracism by their Jewish countrymen in the synagogue.  They were being tempted to compromise.  If they would simply agree that Jesus was an angel, perhaps even the greatest of angels, but not God, they would be accepted into the synagogue and escape the awful pressure.  Such a prospect was tantalizing because it did not require an outright denial of Christ, but only a different affirmation of him and his greatness as an angel.  And the prospect was also face-saving because it did not deny that they had a real experience with an exalted being.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–Hebrews, Volume One, 36)
  • Hebrews never mentions an OT author, nor does the preacher use “it is written,” Paul’s favorite way to introduce an OT quotation. Rather, such quotations are almost always framed as coming directly from the mouth of God, being introduced with forms of the verb “to say” (lego).  The author, therefore, understands God as the speaker of these passages.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 73)
  • (v. 6) In this passage Christ is called the first-born. Here again, many sects and cults claim a proof-text to show that Jesus is a created being.  “Look! He’s first-born!  You see?  He was born like all the rest of us!”  A related supposed proof-text is Col 1:15, “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.”  But “first-born” has nothing to do with time.  It refers to position.  It is not a description but a title, meaning “the chief one.”  The concept was associated with first-born because the oldest son usually was heir to the father’s entire estate.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 30)
  • (v. 6) This is a portion of Dt 32:43, from the “Hymn of Moses,” found in the Septuagint (the ancient Greek version of the OT). It is not found in the Hebrew version or English translations based on the Hebrew.  All quotes in Hebrews are from the Septuagint.  The original OT text “him” refers to the Father.  Because only God should be worshiped, this verse is further proof that Jesus has a greater position than the angels–he is God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 10)
  • (v. 7) It may be that the angels are portrayed as executing the divine commands with the swiftness of wind and the strength of fire. There is a parallel to this interpretation in the Latin version of 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) 8:21 f., where Ezra addresses God as one “before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling, they whose service takes the form of wind and fire.”  But another interpretation is indicated by the Syriac and other eastern versions of this passage in 4 Ezra, according to which God is the one “before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling and at whose command they are changed to wind and fire.”  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 58)

(v. 7) The psalmist ascribes splendor and majesty to God, who as the Creator “stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters” (Ps 104:2-3).  Clouds and winds stand at his call because they are (figuratively) his means of transportation.  Winds are his messengers; bolts of lightning, his servants.  God is in perfect control of his creation.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 41)

  • (v. 8) The Father says to the Son, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. God the Father acknowledges God the Son.  I believe this verse gives the clearest, most powerful, emphatic, and irrefutable proof of the deity of Christ in the Bible–from the Father Himself.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 33)
  • (v. 8) The Father’s testimony about the Son corresponds to the Son’s testimony about Himself. Throughout His ministry Jesus claimed equality with God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 33)
  • (v. 9) God had anointed Him and ordained Him. Ps 2:2 and other places in the OT anticipate this anointing.  Messiah is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “Anointed One.”  Christ is a transliteration of the Greek word meaning the same thing.  In other words, Jesus’ supreme title (Messiah, or Christ) means “the Anointed One.”  Jesus was God’s Anointed.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 35)
  • (v. 9) At Eastern feasts, oil was poured on the heads of distinguished and very welcome guests; God Himself anoints the man Christ Jesus, as He sits at the heavenly feasts–anoints Him as a reward for His work, with higher and fuller joy than any else can know. Thus the Son of Man is honored and rewarded for all His pains.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 18-9)
  • (v. 10) The Psalm from which this is quoted (Psa 102) is a truly wondrous one; in some respects it is, perhaps, the most remarkable of the whole series. It lays bare before us the Savior’s very soul.  Few, if any, of us would have thought applying it to Christ, or even dared to, had not the Spirit of God done so here in Heb. 1.  This Psalm brings before us the true and perfect humanity of Christ, and depicts Him as the despised and rejected One.  It reveals Him as One who felt, and felt deeply, the experiences through which He passed.  It might well be termed the Psalm of the Man of Sorrows.  In it He is seen opening His heart and pouring out His grief before God. We lose much if we fail to attend carefully to the context of that portion which the Spirit here quotes. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 69)
  • (v. 13) Of all the Psalm quotations in the NT, Ps 110:1 is quoted and alluded to most often. It is quoted in Mt 22:44 and the parallel places Mk 12:36 and Lk 20:42-43, as well as in Acts 2:34-35 and Heb 1:13.  Writers allude to Ps 110:1 in Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; 16:19; Lk 22:69; Rom 8:34; 1 Cor 15:25; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; and Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 48)
  • (v. 13) To be asked by the king to take a seat next to him on his right is the greatest honor one could hope to receive. “To sit near the king at any time, is the emblem of being on terms of familiarity and friendship with him, for all but his peculiar favorites stand in his presence; but to sit near him when on the throne, is an emblem of rank, and dignity, and power in the kingdom.  A seat on the right hand and a seat on the left of the king are just other words for the two most dignified stations in the kingdom.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 49)
  • (v. 13) Footstool. This word is used in a metaphorical sense.  The allusion in general is taken from Joshua’s actions against his enemies (Josh 10:24).  To demonstrate the loss of their power and his absolute supremacy over them, he told his people to put their feet on the necks of these enemies (see 2 Sm 22:39; Ps 8:6).  To have his enemies put under his feet is to have complete victory over them.  Their being made his footstool implies the constant nature of their condition under the weight of whatever burden he chose to put on them.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 29)

(v. 13) The expression “your enemies a footstool for your feet” describes an oriental military practice.  A victorious king or general would place his feet on the neck of a defeated king (Josh 10:24; Isa 51:23) to demonstrate his triumph over his enemy.  Jesus “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:25).  When the last enemy, death, has been destroyed, Jesus “hands over the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:24).  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 49)

  • (v. 14) They minister to the Lord. Ministering spirits wait on God concerning his holy services for the good of the church.  Hence angels and the church are in the same family (Eph 3:15).  They are all fellow servants in the same family who keep the testimony of Jesus (Rv 19:10).  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 29)
  • (v. 14) Salvation has both present and future meaning. Hebrews stresses the role of salvation in the future sense when referring to “those who will receive salvation.”  Salvation extends beyond the act at the cross or at our conversion.  “Salvation” as used here describes what will happen when salvation culminates in eternal life in the new heaven and new earth.  Jesus’ victory over all his enemies will be shared by the coheirs, namely those who put their faith in Jesus and his work and follow him (Rom 13:22; 1 Pt 1:5).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 14)


The question to be answered is . . . What do we learn about the superiority of Jesus from this passage?


Answer:  Jesus is superior to angels, whose job is to serve Jesus and His servants.  Jesus will ultimately, eternally, consistently, and righteously rule the universe.  Jesus loves righteousness.


In the Scriptures angels are created, heavenly beings, who primarily function as messengers for God, revealing his will or announcing key events (e.g., Gn 19:1-22; Ex 3:2-6; Jdg 2:1-5; Mt 1:20-24).  They also serve to protect God’s people (e.g., Ex 14:19-20; 1 Kgs 19:1-8; Acts 12:7-11).  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 70)


Greek for angels is aggeloi and in Hebrew mal’akim.  In both languages the meaning is messenger as well as angel.  In fact, messenger is the more common meaning.  The angels were really the beings who were the instruments in the bringing of God’s word and the working of God’s will in the universe of men.  They were said to be made of an ethereal fiery substance like blazing light.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series–The Letter to the Hebrews, 17)


Scripture teaches that angels are ministering spirits, “sent to serve those [the people of God] who will inherit salvation.”  Angels announce the law of God (Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2); deliver messages to God’s people (Isa 6:6-7; Dn 8:18-19; 9:20-23; 10:12, 14; Lk 1:18-19); minister to the needs of the people of God (1 Kgs 19:5, 7; Ps 91:11-12; Mt 18:10; Acts 7:38; 12:15; 1 Cor 11:10); are appointed guardians of cities and nations (Ezek 9:1; Dn 10:13, 20-21; 11:1; 12:1); and will gather the elect at the time of Christ’s return (Mt 24:31; Mk 13:27).  However, the angels have not been commissioned to teach or preach to the elect.  Nor are they given power to govern God’s people, although the angels stand in the presence of God and share his plans (Zech 1:12-13).  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 50)


“Being made so much better than the angels.”  To appreciate the force of this we must, briefly, consider the excellency of the “angels.”  Angels are the highest of all God’s creatures:  heaven is their native home (Mt 24:36). They “excel in strength” (Ps 103:20). They are God’s “ministers” (Ps 104:4).  Like a king’s gentlemen-in-waiting, they are said to “minister unto the Ancient of days” (Dn 7:10).  They are “holy” (Mt 25:31).  Their countenances are like “lightning,” and their raiment is as white as snow (Mt 28:3). They surround God’s throne (Rv 5:11). They carry on every development of nature. “God does not move and rule the world merely by laws and principles, by unconscious and inanimate powers, but by living beings full of light and love.  His angels are like flames of fire; they have charge over the winds, and the earth, and the trees, and the sea (the book of Revelation shows this–A.W.P.). Through the angels He carries on the government of the world” (Saphir).  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 47)


The Word for the Day is . . . Angel


What do we learn about the superiority of Jesus?:

I-  Jesus is superior to angels. (Heb 1:5-8, 13-14; see also: 2 Sm 7:14; 2 Kgs 19:35; Ps 2:7; 89:27; 103:20; Acts 13:33; Col 2:18; 1 Pt 3:22; Heb 1:1-3; 5:5; Rv 5; 7:9-12)


This marvelous section shows that Jesus was better than the angels in five ways–in His title, His worship, His nature, His existence, and His destiny.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 26)


Since Christ created the angels (Col 1:16), He is obviously superior to them.  Not only were they created by Him, but they are His possession, His angels.  They are His created servants, His ministers, His winds and flame of fire.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 32)


So to the beleaguered Jewish believer who was being tempted to say that Christ is an angel and thus escape persecution, God’s Word issues a clear call:  Christ is superior to angels because he has a superior name–he is Son; a superior honor–all the angels worship him; a superior vocation–he is Sovereign King; a superior existence–he is eternal and unchangeable; a superior status–he rules the universe.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–Hebrews, Volume One, 40)


But no individual angel was ever addressed by the Father as “My Son.” The Lord Jesus was, both at His baptism and His transfiguration.  Herein we perceive not only His pre-eminence, but His uniqueness.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 49)


At this time Jews placed great emphasis on angels as intermediaries between God and people.  They were seen as exalted beings who functioned as heavenly emissaries.  This fact makes the rhetorical argument all the more powerful.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 72)


Jesus Christ is not only greater than angels because He is God’s Son but also because He is worshiped.  Even though Christ humbled Himself, even though He was made for a time lower than the angels, the angels are to worship Him.  If angels are to worship Him, He must therefore be greater than they.  And if He is greater than they, His covenant is greater than the one they brought–the New Covenant is greater than the Old, and Christianity is greater than Judaism.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 29)


The greatest archangels stand before God (Lk 1:19; Rv 8:2), but none are allowed to sit, for sitting next to God indicates equality.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 13)


The Old Covenant was brought to man and maintained by angelic mediation.  The Jews knew this, and consequently had the highest regard for angels.  Some respected angels to such a degree that they actually worshiped them.  Gnosticism (see chapter 1) involved, among other things, the worship of angels.  It even reduced Jesus Christ to an angel.  The Colossian church had been flirting with Gnosticism and Paul warned them, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels” (Col 2:18).

So, to the Jewish mind angels were extremely exalted, immeasurably important.  If the writer of Hebrews, therefore, was to persuade his fellow Jews that Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant than that given through Moses, he would have to show, among other things, that Christ is better than angels–the thrust of 1:4-14.  Christ must be shown to be better than the bearers and mediators of the Old Covenant–namely, the angels.  Seven OT passages are used to establish this truth.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 25)


The angels had always been but ministers and messengers.  Only Christ is the Son.  The angels are created servants.  When the eternal Christ came to earth as a servant–indeed as the supreme Servant–He also assumed the title of God’s Son.  He has therefore obtained a far more excellent name or title than they.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 27)


Jesus’ destiny is to reign.  The angels’ destiny is to serve forever those who are heirs of salvation.  What a wonderful, awesome prospect for Christians!  In addition to being forever in God’s presence, our destiny is to be served by angels forever.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 37)


He is subordinate to the Father, but only in the relationship of Son.  The son of a king may be the equal of his father in every attribute of his nature, though be officially subject to his father.  So the eternal Son is equally divine, though He is officially in subjection.  And under His feet are placed all the kingdoms and authorities and powers of the world.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 36-7)


No single angel had ever been called a son of God.  As with Christians, angels collectively are called “sons of God” or “children of God,” in the sense that God created them and that, in some ways, they reflect Him.  But in Scripture no individual angel is called “son of God.”  Nor to any angel had God ever said, “Today I have begotten Thee,” because angels were not related to God in any such way.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 27)


In Jewish families the firstborn son held the place of highest privilege and responsibility.  As firstborn of creation, Jesus surpasses any created being.  The Jewish Christians reading this message would have understood the reference to God’s firstborn.  He had the title and rights that came with being the Son of God; thus, he was greater than any other created being.  Jesus has all of the priority and authority of the firstborn prince in a king’s household.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 9)


Angels protect and deliver the believer, the saint, from temporal danger.  Angels rescued Lot and his family, snatching them out of Sodom.  Angels got down into the den with Daniel and stopped the lions’ mouths.  What a marvelous, comforting truth to know that angels minister to us!  Their destiny is to continue to minister to us throughout eternity.  But Jesus’ destiny is to reign.  He is therefore immeasurably superior to the angels.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 37)


By citing the Greek text, the author of Hebrews makes a sweeping claim:  All supernatural beings–imagined or real, angelic or demonic–are inferior to the Son.  And with this claim about the status of the created supernatural realm, he also asserts something profound about the person of the Son:  He is identified as Yahweh of the OT.  Finally, against those unbelieving Jews who may have been claiming that worshiping the Messiah as God was tantamount to idolatry, the citation of Ps 97:7 turns the tables:  To not worship the Son, who is both God and man, is blasphemy.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 21)


The sixth quotation therefore was prompted by the introduction, in which the writer set forth the doctrine of the eternity of the Son, through whom everything was created and through whom all things are sustained.  What formerly was said of Israel’s God has now been applied to Jesus Christ.  The Son of God is Creator and Upholder of the universe and as such is far superior to angels.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 45)


Christ is, in fact, greater than the angels, greater than the greatest of men, and greater than the devil and all his emissaries.  If we believe that Jesus is Lord and that this word, which was declared by angels in the OT and delivered in person in the New, is indeed true, then it seems totally unthinkable to do anything else but fall on our faces and worship Him.  The first-century Christians to whom the Epistle of Hebrews was written, knew all these things, and yet were in danger of “drifting away” from the truths that they had received.  They were willfully neglecting and failing to practice the faith they professed.  (Jill Briscoe, Faith Enough to Finish, 12)


Angels are never asked to be seated; they stand around the throne ready to do God’s bidding in the interest of “those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14).  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 49)


II-  Creator and Sustainer Jesus will ultimately, eternally, consistently, and righteously rule the universe. (Heb 1:8, 10-12; see also: Psa 45:6-7; 72:7, 17; 102: 25-27; 110:1; 145:13; Isa 9:7; 34:4; 50:9; 51:6; Dn 7:14; Mic 4:7; Mt 22:44; Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 15:24-27; Col 1:14–18;; Heb 1:1-3; 13:8; 1 Pt 1:21 )


What stupendous thoughts!  As a man during his lifetime outlives many successive suits of clothes, so Christ will see and outlive many successive material universes, yet will himself remain eternal and unchanging.  In contrast, angels, because they are created, are temporal (though Christ has apparently willed to keep them immortal) and changeable and dependent.  To the suffering Jewish believers who first heard these words, these sure words about Christ must have felt like refreshing rain.  Their world was not only changing–it was falling apart.  But their superior Christ remained the same–eternal and unchanging–“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–Hebrews, Volume One, 40)


No angels have ever been given the honor of sitting at God’s right hand, although their work may be important.  Nowhere does God ever honor an angel by giving him a reward for services performed; nowhere does God promise an angel any gift, distinction, or rank.  An angel is an angel and will remain an angel.  By contrast, the Son, “after he had provided purification for sins, . . . sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb 1:3).  The Son took his place of honor in answer to the Father’s invitation to sit at his right hand.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 48)


When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one” (1 Cor 15:24-28).  The Son’s mediatorial work in redemption and judgment will have been completed, his messianic task fulfilled, the final victory achieved.  “The last enemy to be destroyed,” says Paul, “is death” (1 Cor 15:26).  The kingdom of life will then be established for all eternity, and the new heaven and new earth will display the fulfillment of Christ’s purposes in creation.  The redeemed will partake of the perfection of his glorified humanity, and it is in this respect that the Son, and they in him, will continue in subjection to, that is to say in perfect harmony with, the will of the Father.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 70-1)


To this throne eternity is attributed.  So Christ’s throne is contrasted with the frail, mutable kingdoms of the earth (see Ps 72:7, 17; 145:13; Isa 9:7; Dn 7:14; Mic 4:7).  It will not decay or fall into any enemy hands, for he must reign until all his enemies become his footstool (1 Cor 15:24-27).  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 26)


The world seems permanent to us, but it will one day grow old like a garment.  Every piece of clothing wears out, grows old, and needs to be changed or replaced.  The world, like the clothing, will be folded up and changed.  Christ, however, will never wear out.  His place is permanent, and he will replace this fading world with a new heaven and new earth (see Heb 12:26-28; Rv 21).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 12)


While it is true that Christ was anointed by the Spirit at his conception, baptism, and ascension, the apostle, with the psalmist, is here, most probably, referring to the glorious exaltation of Jesus Christ when he was solemnly instated in his kingdom.  This was called making him both Lord and Christ (see Acts 2:36), when God raised him from the dead and gave him glory (see 1 Pt 1:21).  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 27)


Everything the Creator has made bears the mark of time.  The psalmist uses the illustration of a garment that changes, gradually deteriorates, is eventually rolled up and discarded.  The Creator, however, lives forever; he is the same because his years never end.  His years never end inasmuch as they never began.  The Son has no beginning and no end.  Certainly this can never be said of angels, who may live eternally in the presence of God.  Their beginning dates from the moment the Son created them.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 46)


The citation from Psalm 102 teaches the distinguishing characteristics of the Son:  he is the Creator, almighty, unchangeable, and eternal.  The preexistence of the Son is indicated by the phrase in the beginning; his permanence, by the clause you remain the same; and his eternity, by the words your years will never end.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 47)


In the NT times Roman law required that a will had to be sealed seven times, to protect it from tampering.  As you rolled it up, you sealed it every turn or so for seven times.  The seals were not to be broken until after the person whose will it was had died. . . . Jesus Christ, the Lamb, came and took the scroll out of the right hand of God.  Why?  Because He, and He alone, had a right to take it.  He is Heir to the earth.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 12)


The son’s unchanging eternity as God is essential to His high priesthood (7:3, 23, 24). Through Him the inheritance of believers remains forever (10:34; 12:27, 28; 13:14).  (Luder Whitlock, ex Dir.; The New Geneva Study Bible, 1935)


It is interesting to note that the first readers of this letter were reminded that, in a world characterized by change, they could be assured of the companionship of the changeless Lord Jesus Christ.  The word must surely have come to them with encouraging assurance: Thou remainest.  He is the same and his years will never end.  This inspiring conviction not only comes at the beginning of the letter but is also asserted at its close.  He is “the same yesterday and today and for ever” (13:8).  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  The Message of Hebrews, 43)


The foundation of the earth and the dome of heaven were the two most stable elements in the Psalmist’s world; yet in comparison with the eternity and unchangeableness of God, they are transitory and evanescent.  (Adam & Charles Black, Black’s NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 47-8)


Jesus is Son in resurrection as well as in birth.  It is His human title, and we should never get trapped in the heretical idea that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God.  He became the Son for our sake–setting aside what was rightfully His, humbling Himself, and emptying Himself (Phil 2:6-8).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 29)


III-  Jesus loves righteousness.  (Heb 1:9; see also: Psa 40:8; 45:6-7; 119:97; Mt 5:17; 6:33; Mk 1:24; Lk 4:34; 23:40-47; Jn 8:46;; Acts 13:28, 35; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26-28; 1 Pt 1:19; 2:22; 1 Jn 2:29)


While the angels are merely ministers of the heavenly kingdom, Jesus is the divine monarch (Heb 1:8).  No angel has ever had a throne, kingdom, or scepter of authority.  And no merely human ruler has had an eternal kingdom or perfect righteousness.  The Son of God has all of these.  He is morally superior to all other creatures–humans and angels (1:9).  The anointed Son of God–who is Himself God–is not merely “righteous,” but is righteousness incarnate.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 22)


What must it have meant for One who thus loved righteousness and hated iniquity to tabernacle for thirty-three years in such a world as this!  And what must it have meant for such an One to be “numbered with the transgressors” and “made sin” for His people!  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 62)


“Thou hast loved righteousness.” This is much more than doing righteousness.  These words reveal to us the spring of all Christ’s actions, even devotedness and affection unto the Father.  “I delight to do Thy will, O God” (Ps 40:8), was the confession of the perfect One.  “O how love I Thy law!  It is My meditation all the day” (Psa 119:97), revealed His attitude toward the precepts and commandments of Holy Writ.  Herein we perceive His uniqueness.  How often our obedience is a reluctant one!  How often God’s will crosses ours; and when our response is an obedient one, frequently it is joyless and unwilling.  Different far was it with the Lord Jesus.  He not only performed righteousness, but “loved” it.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 61)



Worship Point: If we saw an angel, we would be impressed and be inclined to worship.  But, Hebrews is telling us that our worship of Jesus should come a whole lot easier than our worship of any angel.


Right now a hundred million angels are praising God’s name; He certainly doesn’t need to beg or plead with us.  We should be the ones begging to worship in His presence.  (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 109)


How arrogant, stupid, prideful, ignorant and silly it would be to make Jesus, the Son of God, who created the Universe, and died on the cross for our salvation and the One who can empower us to change our lives and our world so that they can become heaven on earth .. .  Does it make any sense at all to make this Jesus our personal assistant?


Awesome revelation from a heavenly source is personalized in Jesus of Nazareth.  A white-hot ingot, incandescent with the radiant glory of God, shines from every gospel or epistle.  The early church was alive–impacted, overwhelmed, and saturated with the Person who had made such a radical change in their lives.

Whenever the church loses this sense of the awe, the wonder, the excitement, and the radical change, it begins to atrophy.  To handle heavenly revelation with a dispassionate attitude or cool rationalism is to deny its transforming power.  It is distressing that today the church is so seldom excited or overwhelmed with Jesus.  One feels in certain ecclesiastical circles that enthusiasm for Christ is beneath the sophisticated disciple, that it is a mark of religious peasantry.  Yet as we view the history of the church, we see clearly that a lessened Christology means a correspondingly lessened church.  When we bleach the banners of apostolic brilliance, fewer desire to march under its colors.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 63-4)


Should not we, who know the mercy of redemption, be filled with more praise than the angels who have worshiped since the beginning of time?  God recounts how all the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).  How much more should we, who have been forgiven, redeemed, adopted, and made heirs of His kingdom, praise Him and shout for joy?  Indeed, the heavens are filled with praise (Rv 19:5-7), and the inanimate is moved before Him (Isa 6:4; Lk 19:40).  This demonstrative worship is the environment of God.  Heaven is filled with prayers and praises, and our eternity will be spent singing and rejoicing in His magnificence.  (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart, 198)


It is an absolute sin and violation of the most basic of God’s laws to worship anyone but God.  So if God Himself says that the angels are to worship the Son, then the Son must be God!  In His incarnate Person, even as in His eternal Person, Christ is to be worshiped.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 30)


Gospel Application:  Angels cannot save you.  Only Jesus can save you.  In fact, it is the job of angels to serve those will inherit salvation.


The angels far excel us in strength, wisdom, attainments; yet are they our servants, they “minister” unto us.  Why? Because we are high above them in birth, rank, station.  We are children of God, we are joint-heirs with Christ, we have been redeemed with royal blood, yea, we have been made “kings and priests unto God” (Rv 1:6).  O how wonderful is our rank–members of the Royal family of Heaven, therefore are we “ministered” unto by the holy angels.  What a calling is ours!  What provision has Divine love made for us!  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 76)


God’s angelic servants protect us physically, but only God’s Son can save us spiritually.  The One who is to occupy the throne of our lives is Jesus.  Angelic beings watch on their tiptoes and crane their necks to see, but only from afar.  The apostle Peter pointed out that not only did OT prophets long for the spiritual salvation through the Son of God that we experience today, but angelic beings also desire to see what it’s all about.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 23)


God’s angelic servants minister to us, but only God’s Spirit can minister in us.  Just because they are spirit beings, angels should not be confused with the Holy Spirit.  Angels don’t transform souls; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.  He is the Paraclete, the Comforter, the One called alongside to help us.  He is our stability, our comfort, our guide.  Though angels occupy an important place in New Age mysticism and popular “folk theology,” we’re never meant to exchange the Holy Spirit, sent by the exalted Christ, for angelic spirits.  Yes, they exist, and yes, they minister on our behalf; but they, too, are subject to the Son of God.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 23)


To willfully reject Jesus Christ brings on the utter damnation and destruction of a vengeful God.  To Israel that parable says, “Since what you have done was so blatant, not only rejecting and killing the prophets but rejecting and killing the Son, the promise has been taken away from you and given to a new nation, the church.”  Israel was set aside until the time of her restoration.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 13)


The angels’ purpose is to serve; Christ’s purpose is to reign.  Angels are higher then people in creation’s hierarchy (see Ps 8:4), being created first and with higher function.  But God has reversed the order and instructed the angels to serve his people.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 13)


Who will inherit salvation.  This indicates that at present the saved are heirs and will inherit later, that is, obtain salvation by virtue of being heirs.  This refers to elect believers.  However, the apostle does not refer to them as elect, nor, directly, as believers, but as heirs.  They receive their inheritance from their adoption.  They are adopted children, heirs, and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16-17).  This is one of the many privileges we have as adopted members of God’s family.  These blessed angels specially minister to this family and have us under their constant care.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 30)


Jesus is not standing on the top of the stairway saying, “What are the steps?”

What are the steps of the stairway?  The steps are the requirements . . . steps to God.  And every religion has them.  You know, not to put too fine a point on it, but the five pillars of Islam are steps to God.  The ten commandments of Judaism are steps to God.   The eight-fold path of Buddhism to enlightenment they are steps to God. And every other religion says there the steps are . .. go!

Is Jesus doing that?  No!  Jesus does not say, “You will see angels ascending and descending TO the Son of Man”.  Jesus does say, “You will see angels ascending and descending ON the Son of Man”.   What does that mean?  He’s the steps!

Every other religions has steps and it is a what.  It is something to do.  But we have a Who.  It is a person.  He fulfilled the requirements.  He did the steps.  (Tim Keller message The Openness of Heaven)


Spiritual Challenge:  Our emotions tend to dictate where our loyalties and our affections are directed.  Hebrews is telling us to not get caught up in the moment when we are impressed by the inferior.   No matter who or what might dazzle us, Jesus is more.


The things that we can see and feel seem so permanent.  Like the people Peter warned, we are tempted to think that “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Pt 3:4).  But all these are going to perish, and the Lord is going to create a new heaven and a new earth.  The creation will be changed, but not the Creator.  “Thy years will not come to an end.”  Christ is eternal.  He is immutable; He never changes.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 36)


Christ’s cosmic superiority, prophetic superiority, priestly superiority, and angelic superiority were all at the believers’ service in a world that was falling apart.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–Hebrews, Volume One, 41)


If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will.  —John Newton  (E.M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer, 19)


So What?:  No matter what you find to worship or commit yourself to, if it isn’t Jesus, you will be disappointed.  Furthermore, only Jesus can save you from the coming judgment of God.  (Jn 3:16-21)


God’s angelic servants intrigue us, but only God’s Word can enlighten us.  God has spoken directly to us.  He has done so through His written Word, which is God-breathed, resulting in His very words conveying His very thoughts (2 Tm 3:16).  God’s Word–the Bible–should consume us.  He has also sent to us His Word incarnate (Jn 1:1, 14), to whom the written Word points and who points us back to the written Word.  As interesting as angels are, they are “ministering spirits” (Heb 1:14).  They are never to be the recipients of our prayers, the objects of our worship, or the subjects of our obsessions.  The Triune God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–should command our worship and praise.  And the Son of God alone is the Source of life and Savior of our lives.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 23)



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