Worshipped of Angels

There are very few chapters in the Bible that give us such a clear testimony to the beauty, supremacy, power, and perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1 is for the individual who may be looking to leave the faith to find something better, only to find that nothing truly compares to the risen Christ. Examining this text will surely lead one to recognize that life in Christ is a life greater than anything that you’ve experienced. Take the time to read this beautiful chapter and join me in examining this great text of scripture!

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

Traditions play a large part of our lives, and we oftentimes have a tremendous amount of difficulty making decisions outside of our preconceived teachings. When we’re taught something from the time that we’re a child, it’s amazing how difficult it is to let it go! To go against these traditions, which have marked our lives, brings uneasiness and ambiguity to our current state and oftentimes leads to personal trials. The writer of Hebrews certainly would have understood this concept and was sympathetic to his reader’s physical and emotional struggles. His approach at the opening of this chapter is to relate back to something they would have been familiar in their lives in order to bring some comfort to a difficult situation.

The writer thus begins by attempting to establish a common ground between himself and his reader. This is something that is quite common throughout the letter and, from there, there is a progression in his argument. It’s better to be gentle in our approach than to blow them over with full force right away! The writer would have been familiar enough with his audience to know that they would have recognized the fact that Yahweh had spoken in the past and have been mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets (2 Peter 3:2). This would have carried much weight seeing that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

He starts with an area of agreement with the reader and those who would have been attempting to force them to return to their former religious system. His opening words affirm his accord with the truth of the divine inspiration of the Old Testament Canon. It’s God who spoke hence He is the primary source and author of these writings. There is no doubt that there is a human agency in the production of these inspired text, but ultimately, they are the writing of Yahweh. God accomplished this through a compatibilism between God and the prophets. God chose the prophets throughout the history of Israel as His mouthpiece since the world began (Acts 3:21). Even Moses was directed by Yahweh to “speak all that I command you” (Exodus 7:2). A prophet was one who revealed the thoughts of God and there was always a purpose in the timing and the chosen herald. These were not always foretellers of future events but proclaimers of the God-breathed purposes of the Heavenly king.

To whom did God speak? He communicated with a meticulous people. God did not become audible with just any group of individuals. He has spoken to “the fathers” whom Luke defines as “He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever” (Luke 1:55). They were the same fathers who ate the manna (John 6:58), who were given the circumcision (John 7:22) and the ones who were given the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).  The words of special revelation were intended for His people and their descendants.

The means by which the Holy One manifested His purposes and will is found in the expression “at various times and in various ways”. The Greek[i] seems to indicate unique periods when Yahweh revealed Himself. Each time was determined by His Sovereign plan to which today we, in these times, have been blessed to see in its fullness. The writer uses another Greek term[ii] to express the different means by which God has communicated.

The reality of Yahweh’s claims to be the only true God is found in His active communication and revelation. It demonstrates that he is a personal God and the living God who is not left silent. How wonderful is it that our God, who created personal beings who have the ability and means to communicate, is active in this expression especially of Himself. One can only imagine the ramifications of God keeping silent in a world full of sin. The only grounds we can find to explain why God would have ever spoken to His people is summed up in one word: GRACE. Many today don’t take this beautiful truth into perspective since in many circles the scriptures have been reduced to a self-help book to help people with their finances and self-esteem. Let it be well documented here that the reason for the existence of the word of God is the revelation of the being and will of God Almighty!

Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,

Now that the writer has established common ground with the recipients, he then proceeds to begin his main thesis. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is superior to Judaism. This is the theme of the letter throughout and in the next few verses he gives a strong summation of his intentions in writing this letter.

There is no shift of argumentation since we notice that the writer is clearly stating that the one whom spoke to the fathers is still the same one who is speaking in these times. In the same way that the Old Testament scriptures were divinely inspired; the message proclaimed to the readers finds its nature from the divine breath also. The author has not changed but that the message itself is superior! How can this essentially be since it is the same author in both cases? The answer lies in the fact that there is a progression of revelation in mind here. The progression has made everything of old much clearer, expanded and has as its purpose to fulfill what was pronounced in the past. This succession finds its way to Christ and not beyond Christ. There is a sort of conclusion and that the greatest revelation to mankind has finally been received[iii]. The prophets were always pointing to the Messiah. They were the road signs giving directions on how to arrive at the destination which is the Messiah.

We saw in the previous portion that the revelation came in time past however in direct contrast to this, the writer states that this communication came these last days. This gives us the impression of a closer period of time. It had been 400 years since God had spoken through Malachi and finally the consummation of the promised one had come. The course of revelation having been accomplished in the speaking of God in the Son. Reformer John Calvin explains:

When he speaks of the last times, he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the final conclusion. It is in this sense that the apostles take “the last times” and “the last days”…If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know. For it was a great hindrance to the Jews that they did not consider that God had deferred a fuller revelation to another time; hence, being satisfied with their own law, they did not hasten forward the goal.[iv]

Next, we should explore to whom He has spoken in these times. To us seems to once again point to a particular people. This special revelation comes to His people.  This would be directed to believers of that age especially to these men who were at risk of defecting back to their former religion and to the writer himself.

Thus far we have seen the comparison in the level of argumentation of the writer in that he compares the two revelations. We saw that God speaks:

  1. In the past verses in these last days
  2. To the fathers verses to us
  3. In the prophets verses in His Son

Now we finally get to the crescendo of His introductory argument. Why is Christianity a better revelation than that of old? The reply is simply defined in that it is found in His Son! This is one of the most remarkable names given to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have here a title given which denotes firstly a relationship back to the Father. This is His eternal relationship as Son.[v] The Lord Jesus did not “become” the Son during His incarnation since God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:9). The text does not communicate the thought of Christ being sent to become the Son, but that God sent His Son into the world.  The term “Son of God”[vi] would be also a proclamation of His deity[vii] in that the Lord Jesus shares in the very nature of Yahweh (Philippians 2:6).

The speaking of God is “in Son” and not “in His Son” since the term “His” is not found in the original reading. There is a certain authority given to the Son due to the lack of this pronoun. Writer A.W. Pink explains:

It will be noted that the word “His” is in italics, which means there is no corresponding word in the original. But the omission of this word makes the sentence obscure; not are we helped very much when we learn that the preposition “by” should be “in”. “God hath spoken in Son.” Yet really, this is not so obscure as at first it seems…”In Son” has reference to that which characterized God’s revelation. The thought of the contrast is that God, who of old had spoken prophetwise, now speaks sonwise”[viii]

His is a greater authority since the prophets were simply uttering the words of another. In Son would be referring not to what the Lord Jesus said but what He is (John 1:18). When the prophet expressed the words of the Lord he generally began with “thus saith the Lord” while the Son proclaimed the words of the Lord with “Amen, Amen, I say unto you”. There is, within these thoughts, the remarkable understanding that this Immanuel who had spoken these words while on earth was in fact the same being that had spoken to them in the past. This is who they will be persuaded to follow throughout the letter.

Whom He has appointed heir of all things,

The writer stated that the God had spoken in His Son: So what? The writer begins a discourse to present and substantiate the preeminence of the Son to the reader. There is a need to accomplish this since there is a necessity to demonstrate why they need to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and His message.  This is important to remember since if we forget this goal we may lose the true meaning of the intent of this letter. There are seven points of argumentation that the writer uses to contend with his audience, and these are all offered by means of uplifting Christ Jesus. Not only this but the next seven points are meant to also define what exactly the term “Son” means.

The first portion of his argument points to the heirship of the Lord Jesus. Here we read that God has appointed Him heir of all things. It is the Father who has appointed the Son to be the Heir however let us contemplate for a moment what exactly this suggests. It’s certain that the term does refer back to an inheritance to be received once the owner of the inheritance passes on by death. The problem with this definition in this context is that it does not take into account that the Father can never die! This would be better defined as Christ’s function. It conveys the thought of a ruler who has dominion and authority over the house of His Father. It is interchangeable with His Sonship. Paul explains the fact that an heir is a son: Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir ofGod through Christ. (Galatians 4:7) and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) His heirship also expresses the full extent of His ownership. Christ is the proprietor of all things (Colossians 1:16). The scope is beyond merely a few riches or earthly possessions but all the hosts of everything that bears the term “creation” is under his rule. This wasn’t a mere prophet they were on the verge of rejecting but the creator and king! When we reflect upon the Heir in the scripture, we must also direct our attention upon a similar term; mainly the firstborn. We will spend a little more time developing the thoughts surrounding the firstborn when we arrive in v.6. We will see that these interchangeable terms bring about a more full definition of what exactly the term “Son” truly entails and we pray will bring about a further desire of servitude and worship. 

Through whom also He made the worlds;

There have been numerous biographies written in history about great men who accomplished great works and lived extraordinary lives. When an individual writes a biography concerning one of these historical figures, there is an attempt to list the most relevant facts concerning this person to bring about the full impact. We are now viewing the expansion upon the unique attributes given to the Son which make Him the Son. When the inspired writer speaks of the supremacy of Christ especially in His proprietorship, it is generally accompanied with a statement concerning His role as creator. The reason for His heirship and proprietorship is due to the fact that through Him He made the worlds.

Christ Jesus, in the beginning, created all things. The term “through” (Greek dia)[ix] has caused many people all sorts of problems regarding how exactly Christ created all things. Some have suggested that Christ’s creatorship is merely that of an instrument of creation[x] however the scriptures seem to go far beyond this simplistic understanding. Anyone who holds to monotheism cringes at the thought of a secondary party involved in creation. We read in Genesis “And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7) The question that must be asked is: did Yahweh actually do this or was it someone else? Notice the language of workmanship attributed to Yahweh in the book of Isaiah

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
 Measured heaven with a span
 And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
 Weighed the mountains in scales
 and the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:12)

While keeping this in mind, we can assert that the creatorship of Christ is not that of a representative or a co-worker but a cooperating agent. Scholar Marvin Vincent explains:

Dia commonly expresses secondary agency; but, in some instances, it is used of God’s direct agency. See 1 Cor. i.1; 2 Cor. i.1; Gal. Iv.7. Christ is here represented as a mediate agency in creation. The phrase is, clearly, coloured in Alexandrian conception, but differs from it in that Christ is not represented as a mere instrument, a passive tool, but rather as a cooperating agent.[xi]

The counsel of God is being referenced here and the mark of creatorship is attributed in an equal sense to all three persons of the Trinity. Yahweh’s creatorship should be acknowledged in light of the text of Isaiah 44; Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone (Isaiah 44:24).  It should be noted that the term “worlds” could be rendered more precisely as “ages”. The term ages is far reaching since it denotes outside the area of simply the realm of the earth but expands to the boundaries of things visible and invisible (Col. 1:16) and into the realm of “all things” (John 1:3). This Son who had revealed His Father in those days was the creator of all thing!

Who being the brightness of His glory

The writer continues his crescendo and persists in identifying the Son to His reader by utilizing language that is almost foreign to us today. This language would have been very real to the reader of that day. We must go back to the time of the letter to attempt to grasp the words since our modern mind can’t grasp its fullest sense. 

Firstly, an examination of the verb “being” here would be a good point to start. The verb does not designate time but simply denoting existence. The Lord Jesus did not become or begin to exist in the brightness of His glory, but He simply is the brightness of His glory. The term signifies absolute and timeless existence! This is the same expression surrounding the proclamation of the Lord Jesus in John 8:58 where He states not only that He had existed before Abraham but that “before Abraham was, I AM”. These words caused these Jews to pick up stones to end His life because they understood that He was confirming His eternality.[xii]

The expression “the brightness of His glory” is a remarkable attribute of the Lord Jesus. Yahweh is said to be the “king of glory” (Psalm 24:10) and it’s the Father’s glory is what will illuminate the city of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:24). We see similar allusions to this when John speaks that He shares in the glory of the Father (John 17:5) but also that the Lord Jesus is the very essence of His glory. This is substantiated when we look at the parallel between the king of Glory (Psalm 24:10) and the term “Lord of Glory” in 1 Corinthians 2:8. The brightness or radiance relates back to the Father Himself since it is the Father “who alone has immortality, dwelling in the unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). The only means by which a person can see the Father is by seeing Jesus Christ. Christ is the manifestation of the effulgence of God in its totality. The apostles, during the mount of transfiguration, saw His glory (Luke 9:32) and, as John could write, we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) The glory is not something that is simply in His possession but something that He shared with the Father. During the Lord’s High Priestly prayer, He speaks to the Father relishing His plea: O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:5). This was a glory that they possessed together as the one true God Yahweh.

This writer is very much in sync with the parallel passages found in John 12:41 in the vision of the prophet Isaiah. Let us take the time to examine this since we feel that it is of great importance to grasp this paradigm.

John 12:37-42

The Gospel of John is so very complete in its presentation of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the twelfth chapter of John, we read:

But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. (John 12:37-42)

After speaking to Greeks who were wishing to see the Lord Jesus, the Lord spoke of His coming death and their need to “believe in the light so that you may become sons of light’. John then expresses the unbelief of those who were with Him even though He had “performed many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” This was to fulfill two of Isaiah’s prophecies, the first from Isaiah 53:1

 Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Yahweh been revealed? (1901 ASV)

We must keep in mind that the passage in chapter 53 is speaking of the coming Messiah and the disbelief of those who saw firsthand the Lord of Glory. And the second from Isaiah 6:10 once again stressing the unbelief of those who saw Him.

Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.”

After addressing the unbelief of some, John continues with a very bold statement in v.41, he states:

These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him

What does John mean when he says that he saw His glory and he spoke of Him? Who is the “Him”? In v. 37, we see that they didn’t believe “in Him” which refers to the Lord Jesus even though He had showed them many signs. In v.42, John continues the identity of Him by saying that some believed in Him, once again, they believed in Christ Jesus. So John is saying that Isaiah is speaking of “Him” (the Lord Jesus). We can conclude this by the fact that the context only allows for the passage to be referring to the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence linguistically that the Him should be attributed to anyone else but the Lord. Prior to this, John says that Isaiah spoke these things because “He saw His glory”, but whose glory did he see? If we look at the context of the passage cite (Isaiah 6), we can find the answer.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord (Yahweh) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven. 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me.  9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste,


We have a slight predicament here. No one had ever seen God yet, in this passage in Isaiah, we are told that Isaiah saw Yahweh. Is there a contradiction within the bible? Isaiah saw the Lord (Yahweh) sitting on a throne, surrounded by seraphim who were praising their God. Isaiah quickly expresses his unworthiness and that his eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts. This is followed by Isaiah’s commission to the people of Israel, which is quote by John in chapter 12. If we are to look at the context shown to us in John’s usage of the passages. The word “kai” (and) unites both the one whose glory he saw and the one spoken of. So, the question remains, whose glory did Isaiah see, looking at the Isaiah 6 passage, we see in v.1 that Isaiah saw Yahweh yet in John’s usage we see that it is Jesus that Isaiah saw. From a logical perspective, we must conclude that Jesus Christ is Yahweh God.

The express image of His person

I remember in my youth when I worked at a retail outlet and at one point, we were having issues with counterfeit money. Our storeowner provided to us a machine with a special light to detect that which was authentically printed in contrast with that which was a counterfeit. Either way, these two bills, either true or false, were an exact representation of the stamp and there was certainly a need of a gadget to sort out the good from the bad. Not only is the Son the “brightness of His glory” but also the writer then furthers an even greater statement concerning the Son, mainly that He is “the express image of His person”. The New American Standard Bible translates it “the exact representation of His nature.

The term “express image” or “exact representation” is a translation of the term “charakter” which, in its original form would have referred to an instrument used to engrave a coin. The term then progressed in its meaning during the time of the writing of this epistle in which it meant a stamp or the print of a signet ring. Whatever it was that you saw on the coin or stamp was exactly what was on the ring. There was no difference at all; it was identical![xiii]  In other words the Lord Jesus is the exact nature of the Father. Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest explains:

The words “express image” are the translations of charakter. This word was used in classical Greek of an engraver, one who mints coins, a graving tool, a die, a stamp, a branding iron, a mark engraved, an impress, a stamp on coins and seals. Metaphorically it meant “a distinctive mark or token impressed on a person or thing, by which it is known from others, a characteristic, the character of.” It was a Greek idiom for a person’s features. It was used of the type or character regarded as shared with others. It meant also an impress or an image. The classical usage of this world should throw some light upon its use in the New Testament.[xiv]

Dr. A.T. Robertson continues:

Charakter is an old world from charasso, to cut, to scratch, to mark. It first was the agent (note ending=ter) or tool that did the marking, then the mark or impress made, the exact reproduction, a meaning clearly expressed by chargma (Acts 17:29, Rev. 13:16f.)[xv]

The next portion defines exactly what the term exact representation is linked to. The relation of this perfect image is with His “person” or “nature” (NASB). The term used is “hupostasis” which seems to imply the nature, essence, or substance of someone. It denotes “that which has actual existence; a substance, real being” and “the substantial quality, nature, of any person or thing”[xvi]. It must be stated that this is not His bare essence, but His whole nature with a correspondence as close as that which an impression gives back to a seal[xvii].

The terminology used reflects much of what Paul was conveying in Philippians 2 with the expression “form of God”. Paul used the term “morphe” which denotes the very nature all that God is. Truly, In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9 NASB) The Lord Jesus proclaimed He who has seen Me has seen the Father;(John 14:9) since only the Son could manifest the Father to these disciples.

Upholding all things by the word of His power

We previously examined the heirship of the Son as well as the issue surrounding His creatorship but now, the writer furthers this by declaring Christ as the sustainer of all that He has created! We are in essence entering into the study of the providence of God[xviii]. Not only did the Lord Jesus make the worlds but He is also active in upholding them as well. Christ is the one who is accomplishing that which He had decreed before the foundation of the world, and He does so perfectly. There are those who would see God as creating all things but then becoming passive in their history. Yet, as we can see from this wonderful passage, the Lord Jesus is still active today! It should come as a comforting thought that He is governing and preserving all things as we speak so that we can know that all His purposes are being consummated. The writer uses the present participle “pheron” (upholding) which denotes “to carry along”. There is the sense of movement in this work of Christ since it involves action to be able to continuously accomplish this. What the writer is also stating by this term “upholding” is the fact that God had a decree[xix] when creating all things. Nehemiah knew well the providence of God:

You alone are the LORD;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. (Nehemiah 9:6)

The lengths by which the Lord Jesus is in control goes beyond mere natural realm. We read in scripture that the steps of a man are determined by God (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 16:9; 20:24), that He determines the fate of kings (Prob. 21:1), the birth of children (Psalm 127:3), the affairs of nations (Job12:23, Psalm 22:28; 66:7) and all things He has willed He accomplishes (Ephesians 1:11)

The Lord Jesus upholds all things in the word of His power! This is the word that spoke in Genesis chapter one, and everything came into existence, the word that the psalmist hailed “He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9) and this is the same word that is able to sustain all things. This passage is almost parallel with that of Peter in His second epistle, we read: “but the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word…(2 Peter 3:7). The word of Christ is everlasting (Mark 13:31), authoritative (Luke 4:32), Spirit (John 6:63), Judgment (John 12:48) and Divine (John 14:24).

When He had by Himself purged our sins

Those familiar with the OT sacrifices will see much thrust to the terminology used by the writer. The sacrifice of animals was at the heart of Judean thought since this was how they were forgiven of their sin. Even though the language resembles sacrifice of old there was one dissimilarity that they must have gotten considered. In this instance, it was the high priest who was the sacrifice rather than the priest sacrificing another. This theme will echo through the rest of the epistle in the powerful work of the Great High Priest.

Firstly, from a translation perspective, the New King James Version and the King James Version differ slightly from some of the more “modern” translations. The NASB reads: “When He had made purification of sins” where he places the “by himself” in brackets and omits the word “our”. The expression “to purge” is in the aorist tense hence would refer back to something. It would be referring to “having purged” sins rather than giving the idea that it of something unaccomplished. The purging is fundamentally the same idea as being “washed” (1 Corinthians 6:11) or making their robes white (Revelation 7:14).  This is of the highest necessity to enter the midst of Yahweh (Isaiah 6:7). This is the founding work of Christ to which makes Him superior to anyone or anything in the Old Testament. His sacrifice was an act of self-denial and finally accomplished an actual purging from sin. He is deserving of all glory and worship for He accomplished His goal. 

“Had purged” is borrowed from the sacrificial language used later in the letter. We read that how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14) as well as And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22). The question that we should reflect upon is whether or not this purging is active or potential?[xx] Christ did not slay bulls or goats but offered up to the Father, as our High Priest, the sacrifice of Himself! He has cleansed us from our unrighteousness, and we are the people who are the recipients of a true removal that leaves nothing further do to accomplish salvation. Later in the letter, the writer expands on this paradigm with these beautiful words.

By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:22-27)

Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

We can’t even begin to stress how powerful and triumphant these words truly are. The result of having purged our sins is that He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. These are the words of exaltation and victory! Christ personifies accomplishment and conquest since He is an unfailing Saviour. The thought of a priest sitting down was foreign to the Hebrews since there was never a real purging of sin but merely a covering for a time. There was not even a chair in the tabernacle for the priest to sit down because Yahweh knew the work of this priest would never be accomplished. Our Great High Priest however did what none other could imagine, He got the job done! 

This portion is derived from the language of the 110th Psalms where Yahweh makes the announcement of the reign of the Messiah. Yahweh said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put thine enemies [as] footstool of thy feet… 5The Lord at thy right hand will smite through kings in the day of his anger. (Psalm 110:1,5). The writer brings out this expression almost as a preview for a latter and expanded rendition of these words. We read the same thoughts from the writer of the Hebrews in chapter 10; And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

The most precious idea of this entire statement is that the Lord did not sit down just in any place but at the right hand of the majesty on High. Theologian J.I. Packer expresses the term “majesty” by stating:

The word majesty, when applied to God, is always a declaration of his greatness and an invitation to worship. The same is true when the bible of God as being on high and in heaven; the thought here is not that he is far above us in space but that he is far above us in greatness, and therefore is to be adored.[xxi]

Heresy always seems to find its place in the most peculiar of verses. Some have taken this to demonstrate a separation between the Father and the Son. Let us point out right away that the “right hand” denotes a position of power and glory. This is anthropomorphic language used to demonstrate a spiritual truth with physical language. It has nothing to do with an actual geographical place but a position of honour. Reformer John Calvin comments:

The right hand is by a similitude applied to God, though he is not confined to any place, and has not a right side not left. The session then of Christ means nothing else but the kingdom given to him by the Father, and that authority which Paul mentions, when he says that in his name every knee should bow. (Phil. ii.10) Hence to sit at the right hand of the Father is no other thing than to govern in the place of the Father, as deputies of princes are wont to do to whom a full power over all things is granted[xxii]

He sits on the throne of the Most High, the glorious God of eternity, and functions with the delight of the Father as our High Priest in that He continuously intercedes for us. A.W. Pink rightfully writes:

“Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Three things are here denoted. First, high honor: “sitting”, in scripture is often a posture of dignity, when superiors sit before inferiors: see Job 29:7,8: Dan. 7:9,10, Rev. 5:13. Second, it denotes settles continuance. In Gen. 49:24 Jacob said to Joseph that his “bow sat abode” is literally “sit”…third, it signifies rest, cessation from His sacrificial services and sufferings.[xxiii]

Having become so much better than the angels

The writer’s now contends the superiority of Christ by turning to the angels.[xxiv] We cannot continue before mentioning in passing that there can be no separation between what was said previous to this passage to the verse itself. These Jewish Christians were focused on the humanity of the Lord Jesus and since they viewed angels as greater than men they may have confused why the New Covenant would be “better” than the old. When the writer expresses the term “having become” (KJV “being made”), he is referring to what happened following His work on the cross in accomplishing eternal redemption. This is evidenced in verse 3 and is continuing thought of His glorification due to the purging of sins. Here the writer is demonstrating that the Son as a man had willfully subjected Himself in His positional standing to the Father after accomplishing His perfect work at Calvary.  

The angels would have been very familiar to the reader’s Jewish background. A brief definition is necessary.  W. Grudem states that Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies.[xxv] The number of angels is unknown however it is said to be thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5:11), which are an innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22). There is only speculation on how they came into existence. There are some who have gone to great lengths to give all sorts of interpretations[xxvi] however this passage, in keeping with the rest of the letter, would be referring to heavenly hosts. These Jewish descendants would have learned from their religious roots that the angels would have delivered Hagar (Genesis 16:7), appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1), to Isaac (Genesis 22:11), Jacob (Genesis 32:1), Moses (Acts 7:53) and delivered Lot (Genesis 19:1), protected Israel (Numbers 20:16) and most importantly they gave them the law (Galatians 3:9). The angels would have been the highest of God’s creatures who make their abode in heaven, whom excel in strength (Psalm 103:20), who are Holy (Matthew 25:31) and whose primary function is that of a minister (Psalm 104:4).

We then see that the Son is not on equal terms with these angelic beings, but He is “better” (Kreitton) than the angels. The term “better” is used 13 times in Hebrews[xxvii] to indicate superiority over and above something else. We must examine why exactly it is that He is “better”. He is better in a threefold sphere in that the Lord Jesus is better than the angel because (a) He possesses a better nature, (b) His relationship to the Father is superior and (c) the primary focus is that the Lord has accomplished a better work than they. Angels were said to be mediators between Yahweh and men however the Son is an even better mediator than the angels since He provided Himself as a sacrifice that far exceeded the pleasure of God. 

As He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

In our society today we use names as a means of identification and as a mark of individuality. To a 1st century Christian or even a Hebrew long before the birth of our Lord Jesus, a name meant much more than a simple means of identity. A name said something about an individual and what qualities they possessed. The writer now expands once again upon the exaltation of the Lord Jesus by continuing along with the explanation as to why Jesus Christ is better than the angels. The term “as” carries with it the thought of clarification to strengthen the previous point. He extends a proof of Christ’s elevation to the angels by stating that the reason why Christ is better is that He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they! As we had briefly touched upon, the reason why He is better than the angels is because He is a better mediator. His mediatorship far exceeds in quality to the angels because of His perfect suffering. (Isaiah 53) The terminology of “has..obtained” refers to an accomplishment and in this context is relating back to v. 3 and having purged our sins. The works of Calvary have manifested His glory and have returned to the Son that which He has essentially purchased by the great sacrifice of Himself.[xxviii] The term “inheritance” is comparable to the previous term “heir” which, once again, is intertwined in the name. There have been many different opinions as to what exactly this name is. Some have related this back to Philippians 2 where we read: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Vs.9-11). This text echoes the words of the Psalmist many centuries before “His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. (Psalm 72:17) Although we are in agreement that this could be a parallel,  we feel that the writer would be referring to another name of blessing, mainly “The Son”. This is the name of majesty coming forth from the fact that in His Sonship He has manifested His Kingship! We see within this that there is a tremendous preeminence of a Son over and above the servants (angels/men).[xxix]

The writer had as his point made seven uplifting statements of the Lord Jesus and now will proceed to quote from the Old Testament scriptures to evidence His previous assertions as to the supremacy of the Son. Scholar F.F Bruce comments on the purposes of citing these passages:

Here his superiority to angels is asserted, and elaborated by the following chain of Old Testament quotations, for two specific reasons—to show (i) that the final message of God, communicated by the Son, is safeguarded by even more majestic sanctions than those which attended the law, communicated by angels (2:2f), and (ii) that the new world over which the Son is to reign as Mediator far surpasses the old world in which various nations were assigned to angels for administration (2:5). [xxx]

For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are my Son, Today I have begotten You?” And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?

Prior to even quoting the first text of scripture, the writer uses the style of writing similar to that of the apostle Paul with the imaginary objector. The question is to which of the angels did He ever say… The answer to the question is quite simply none! He quotes Psalm 2:7, which is a coronation Psalm used during the coronation ceremony for a new King. The Psalm is demonstrating the utter sovereignty and power of Yahweh over and above even the most powerful rulers of the earth. Men attempted to align themselves together against God however the Lord laughs at their efforts. Even with their greatest endeavor, they could not stop God from installing His King mainly His Son who will rule over them. Hebrews is expressing likewise the absolute sovereignty and rulership of the Son over all nations. This is defined as His “inheritance”. The point of the Psalm and of Hebrews is not to show the inferiority of Jesus Christ but to demonstrate His superiority above all things since He is the ruler of all.

The angels are called the sons of God (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7) as well as Adam in Luke 3:38 however the language used to assert the relationship between the Father and the Son is far greater than that of angels (John 3:35, 5:20, 14:31). The term “begotten” has brought confusion to some since, as previously mentioned, we tend to read the scriptures through the lenses of our 21st century culture rather than putting ourselves in the place of the recipients of this letter. When we seek to understand the language of the term “begotten” we must understand the bestowing of one as king. The term suggests an expression of dignity that comes with Kingship. The term “only-begotten” is the expression of a unique personification which is exalted in a position of honour.[xxxi]

We are presented with the grand revelation of the unique relationship between the Father and the Son. The words expressed have truly given us a sense of the love there exists between the Father and the Son. We have here a parallel with the section in v.5, which continues with the expressive exaltation of the Son. This is communicated to us by the second quotation from the OT from 2 Samuel 7:14 where it is used as a reference to Solomon. It should be carefully noted however that many scholars believe the quote could also be in line with 1 Chronicles 17:13 where we read: I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. This would refer to the throne as being one that is of infinite value since the one sitting on it is the promised one whom shall always be the possessor of this majestic place of rulership.

But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

The terminology of “firstborn” is utilized to reflect the name “Son”. It is used as a synonym to refer to the glorious anointed of Yahweh. The expression when He again refers to His second coming with great power and glory.[xxxii] It is a day that is always weighing on our hearts since it brings great excitement to us to think that one day, He will demonstrate His victory to His foes and those who love Him will bow the knee to Him in love and worship (Philippians 2:9-11) together with the angels.

The term “firstborn” is from the Greek prototokos, which is derived from two words: mainly protos (first) and tiskos (begotten). Its meaning in scripture is twofold in that it can have the meaning of the one who is first to be born in a family hence derives its connotation from an order from older to younger. The other sense in which it is used and this we believe is the proper definition in this portion would be in a sense of rulership[xxxiii]. There has been some opposition to this definition by those who would adhere to the inferiority of the Son to the Father by which they appeal to the text of Colossians 1:15 where the term is used as well. This is unfortunately faulty exegesis and mainly ignores contextual, historical, and cultural study. The term “firstborn” is used for the Lord Jesus in both ways; firstly, in Luke 2:7 we read that the Lord Jesus was Mary’s firstborn Son hence here we have the definition of a place within a family due to a birth. In the text of Colossians 1:15 the Lord Jesus is referred to as the “Firstborn of all creation” however the meaning is made apparent by v.16 with the little word “for” (hoti). The word “for” can be translated as “because”; it gives reason for the title “firstborn of all creation”. We might ask why is Jesus Christ the Firstborn of all creation? The reason Paul gives is simply that it is because “by Him all things are created”. Everything that comes into existence does so by Him hence He has power and dominion over everything due to His creatorship.[xxxiv] The reference here to firstborn is parallel to that found in the text of the letter to the Colossians. The term “world” here is different than in v.2 which would be defined as the inhabited world which would have been the Roman Empire (Acts 17:6).

The topic of worship now comes to our attention. The worship of our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly a joyous consideration for the believing Christian as well as a burden upon those who would reject that the Lord Jesus is Yahweh the Son. The writer is quoting from the 97th Psalm where Yahweh demands the exclusive worship above all others even the “gods” that were idols. The term worship is one of exclusiveness and only directed towards God Himself (Deut. 34:14; Matthew 4:10). Even the most exalted beings such as angels could not receive the worship[xxxv] that is given to God (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). The writer however uses the language reserved for Yahweh and with great confidence applies it to our Lord Jesus. This powerful statement identifies the Son as Yahweh God since worship is unique to Yahweh! Obviously, there are those who have attempted to downplay this plain meaning of scripture by redefining the term “worship” to mean simply the act of “obeisance”[xxxvi] and have even challenged the grammar by using reputable sources out of context[xxxvii]. Their argument is that the Son is to be honoured however never worshipped. The Lord Jesus was worshipped on many occasions (Matt.2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9,17; Luke 24:52, Rev. 5:8) and if we examine the term “worship” in the scriptures we will see that it applies also to the Father in the same way as the Son (John 4:21-24; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:10).[xxxviii] There is a significant importance in the worship of the Lord Jesus since it is clear that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5:23) This is the same worship that the devil insisted upon when tempting the Lord however it is fitting to note that Satan never received it. In the Second Advent we will have the most beautiful and lofty creatures of God expressing to the glorious Son the worship He so deserves and we will be gladly by their side joining in that worship.

And of the angels He says: “ Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.”

The writer has just made a very remarkable and most likely shocking statement by declaring that the angels would worship the Son. The writer now advances in his argument by substantiating exactly why the angels would worship the Lord Jesus. He does so by presenting the contrast between the angels (v.7) and the Son (vs.8-12). This would have been important to the original readers since they needed justification for such a strong statement.

Yahweh here addresses firstly his angelic hosts in defining their nature and role in the span of spiritual things. He quotes from psalm 104, a psalm of praise and worship unto God and most likely cited from the LXX[xxxix]. This is important to remember when we examine further quotations in the verses ahead. The writer begins by acknowledging firstly their nature as “spirits” (pneuma). This is a contrast from the Son who is eternal which we further examine when we will see vs.10-12[xl] 

The second portion of this text deals with their function in that they are “ministers” or “servants”. Their existence is therefore one of servitude of God and in some cases in the care of mankind. The angels, unlike the Son, never have an opportunity to sit down since their work is never accomplished. There have been many interpretations of the term “flame of fire” yet if we pause for a moment and consider that we are speaking of the future, we will understand that it is speaking of the Son’s return.  The Son will come at the fulfillment of His Kingship, the role of the angels in this particular period will be one of “flaming fire” which generally refers back to judgment (Gen. 19:13; Matthew 13:41-42). The Angels have been and are the executioners of God’s wrath (Revelation 8 & 9).

But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

The contrast in regards to the Son to the angels begins with the small conjunction “but” (de) which is meant to bring about the thought of distinction. Jesus Christ the Son of God is no angel or archangel. Our great heavenly Father after having expressed Himself regarding His angelic creation now turns His attention towards the Son. The entire focus of the next few verses will be on demonstrating the superiority of the Son to the angels in both being and function.

What the Father says regarding the Son is certainly one of the most blatantly clear evidences to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ ever written in the New Testament or anywhere in scripture. The Father now explains the grounds by which the Lord Jesus is contrasted to the angels. In His first statement to the angels, He makes reference to their being while referring to Jesus as “God” (ho theos). 20th Century writer A.W. Pink writes:

This supplies us with one of the most emphatic and unequivocal proofs of the deity of Christ to be found in the scriptures. It is the Father Himself testifying to the Godhead of Him who was despised and rejected of men.[xli]

But with such a clear statement how then are there so many in our generation past and present who still deny this glorious biblical truth? Much like any other passage of scripture there is an attempt to deny the plain meaning of this text. There are two different methods that are produced in their disagreement: firstly that the term “God” (Theos) shouldn’t be taken literally in this case and merely defined as a demi-god or secondly there are those in liberal circles who would challenge the translation of the text.

The first argument truly has no basis since when we examine the[xlii] it’s unquestionable that he is referring to full deity and not merely a likeness of God.[xliii] The thought that Christ would have held a nature that is “in between” God and angels is not compelling since these Jews would have found great comfort in this. The second argument however carries with it a little more weight. Some have translated the opening words of v.8 as “God is thy throne” instead of the traditional “thy throne, O’ God”. The difference is in how we interpret the writer’s intention when quoting the psalm. Some have come up with some strange arguments to hinder the traditional translation that we feel should be ignored.[xliv] If the writer meant to use the nominative case, then “God is thy throne” is the proper translation however if the vocative is used then the traditional translation should be rendered. Some scholars have expressed that there is some uncertainty as to how exactly the Greek should be deciphered[xlv] however we feel as many other scholars[xlvi], that the evidence for the vocative is stronger because of certain points.

  1. Stemming from the issues surrounding the LXX translation of Psalm 45:7 which seems to point to the vocative reading.[xlvii]
  2. The vocative seems much more natural due to the word order utilized by the writer.
  3. A study of the evidence relating to legein proV is more naturally rendered as “say to” than “spoken about”.
  4. The context has as it primary point to demonstrate the superiority of Christ over the angels which would be ineffective.
  5. When we look further at vs.10-12, the reading of “thy throne, O’ God” is more probable given that the writer uses the Psalm 102 to define God with His unique attributes.[xlviii]

The writer quotes from the very well known 46th Psalm, which would have certainly been recognizable to his audience. The 46th psalm was written for the marriage of Solomon to the daughter of the king of Egypt. When dealing with the terminology surrounding the throne we are venturing on the grounds of sovereignty and authority. Dr. R. Bowman Jr. writes:

The Psalm speaks in the immediate “horizon” about the Jerusalem king who also prefigured the Messiah, the ultimate descendant of David and the true eternal king. We should note that the Psalm does not identify the specific king, and the whole psalm may be interpreted messianically…the nuptial imagery that dominates the second half of the psalm (vv 8-15) is window dressing (likely occasioned by an actual wedding of the king) for a messianic vision of the future. The richest representatives of the nations of the world will attend to and bow before the Davidic king, and the peoples of the world will attend to him (note especially vv. 9-12, 17). Language about the king that would be hyperbolic in reference to any of Israel’s merely human kings ultimately applies to the Messiah. Thus, although none of those kings was literally God, Psalm 45 points forward to a coming king who really would be God[xlix]

The throne of the Lord Jesus Christ isn’t a foreign idea conjured up by Christians. The throne of the Lord Jesus shares with the Father and by which He will be worshipped by all creation (Revelation 22:1). It is truly fitting to read these words and meditate upon the great conquering authority of our God expressed mainly in these passages as the Father and the Son.

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness

The realm of the human justice system has suffered tremendously over the years. Although many would see it as having gained much ground from a humanitarian perspective (and we certainly would agree) however there is much to be desired regarding its efficacy. Our slogan of “it is better to let 100 guilty men go than wrongly convict an innocent man” has produced some remarkable injustices especially towards the victims and their families.  Thankfully, this will not always be since He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). The comforting thought that we should dwell upon in the study of the throne of Christ is that the one sitting upon it is the king of righteousness (Hebrews. 7:2) and His justice is one that is perfectly executed. There will be nothing imperfect in His judgment.

The writer parallels this throne to that of a scepter. The scepter, much like the throne, is an emblem of authority (Ester 5:2) and this scepter is one of “righteousness”. The scepter is one of justice in which all evil, seen or hidden, will be brought to light and judged by one who is fit to judge. All crimes that have occurred and victims that have been unfairly treated will finally be able to utter that they have received the justice they had demanded in this life. This is the righteousness that this King will Judge.

The phrase You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness is in the past tense. We believe this is referring to his first coming since this expression was substantiated in His time on earth through His testimony. 

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You. With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

The text we will examine in v.9 has been controversial. There are those who have attempted to gather an argument against the deity of Christ in the preceding passages by stating that this text is a proof that in fact the Lord Jesus couldn’t have been God since He refers to the Father as His God. This type of argumentation is very weak since it does not take into consideration the willful subjection of the Son to the Father from a positional standpoint. The Son bowed the knee in obedience to fulfill perfectly what humanity had failed so often to do in always putting God ahead of Himself. The thought of the Son referring to the Father as “His God” is not unnatural even in light of the equality of their nature. This is about His human nature and position (Philippians 2:6-8).

The anointing of the Son by the Father is continuing to speak of the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. The anointing with oil is unquestionably referring to the OT crowning ceremony of the King of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13) The reference here however seems to suggest a greater anointing than they since it is with the oil of gladness. The thought here is that of the satisfaction of the Father with the perfection of the work of His precious Son during His first advent. This anointing with the oil of gladness is corresponding with His resurrection. The Father placed His seal of approval and demonstrated His satisfaction of the work of the Son by raising Him from the dead.

The promulgators of controversy have placed a strange interpretation upon this verse. It has been said that the Son has been placed in a position of honour even though His is equivalent with his “companions”. The identity of the “companions” is said to be referring to the angels. This interpretation fails in light of the point that this passage is about the anointing of a king. This has never been said of the angels in scripture. The writer, in speaking of the OT coronation ceremonies, is referencing the former kings that were anointed to rule over Israel. The thought here is not nature but position and quality of the kingdom that He will rule.

A.W. Pink gives an excellent summation of the previous three verses:

It is indeed striking to see how much was included in the ancient oracle concerning the Messiah which the Spirit here quoted from Psa. 45. Let us attempt to summarize the content of that remarkable prophecy. First, it establishes His Deity, for the Father Himself owns Him as “God”. Second, it shows us the exalted position He now occupies: He is on the throne, and there forever. Third, it makes mention of His Kingship, the royal “scepter” being wielded by Him. Fourth, it tells of the impartiality of His government and the excellency of His rule: His scepter is a “righteous” one. Fifth, it takes us back to the days of His flesh and makes known the perfections of His character and conduct here on earth: He “loved righteousness and hated iniquity.” Sixth, it reveals the place which He took when He made Himself of no reputation, as Man is subjection  to God: “Thy God.” Seventh, it announces the reward He hath anointed thee”. Eight, it affirms He has the pre-eminence in all things, for He has been anointed with the oil of gladness “above His fellows”.[l]

And:“ You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

The crescendo of the writer’s argument to these confused Hebrews who were considering defecting back to their former religion is now upon us. These last four verses embellish and elucidate the previous passages. It is imperative that we take note of the opening term of this verse found in a little three letter word “and”. The term is a translation from the Greek kai which is used to demonstrate the continuation of the Father’s address of the Son. The flow of the address was initiated previously in v.8 with the expression “but to the Son He says”. The whole point of the term “And” is that the Father is not finished speaking of His Son!

The writer maintains the same line of argumentation by quoting from another Psalm; mainly the 102nd Psalm. We must emphasize the importance of understanding that this quote that is attributed to the Son. Scholar F.F. Bruce gives a brief description of the motives of God in this Psalm:

The Psalm, which begins “Hear my prayer, O Yahweh,” is truly described in its superscription as “a prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint, and pours out his complaint before Yahweh.” Both he and Zion, his city, have experienced the judgment of God, but he makes confident supplication for mercy and restoration for himself and Zion, that men and women may assemble there once more to give praise to God. He is oppressed by a sense of the brevity of his personal span of life, with which he contrasts the eternal being of God. IN comparison with his short life, heaven and earth are long-lived; yet heaven and earth must pass away. They had their beginning when God created them, and they will grow old and disappear one day; but the God who created them existed before they did, and he will survive their disappearance. As one man in his lifetimes outlives many successive suits of clothes, so God has seen and will yet see many successive material universe, but he himself is eternal and unchanging.[li]

The significance of recognizing that the God of the scriptures is a unique God is vital to our argument. Yahweh is a God that possesses characteristics that make Him God that no other being can possess no matter how exalted they might be. What makes Him God is found in the verses of the Psalm and here attributed to the Son.

The first unique trait of Yahweh is found in the exclusiveness of His name.  Notice an often-missed expression “You, LORD” which, since it is quoting the OT Psalm, could be rendered “You, Yahweh”[lii]. The most unique characteristic of God is found in His name, the name that was set apart as a token of expressing His being and Holiness. The Father applies to His Son the very name that is never used of a mere creature.

The second divine attribute is that of creatorship. This we have dealt with previously in verse 2. The expression sought to be articulated by the writer in based upon the word “Beginning” and should be taken as a parallel expression to that found in other portions of Holy scripture. God created “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) while the Father and Son were together (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1). The uniqueness of this attribute can be examined in the trial of the false gods found in Isaiah 40-48 which argues for the sole deity of Yahweh, the God of Israel especially in v.44:24. 

They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail

Nothing last forever is a slogan I have heard much in my life by those who feel the need to live their life in a careless fashion. We concede that there is some truth to the statement as well. We spoke of the heavens and the earth as a part of the creation of the Lord. The writer continues to quote the Psalmist and by doing elaborates a little more concerning the heavens & earth (creation) in contrast to the uniqueness of Yahweh (creator).

This brings us to the third argument for the uniqueness of Yahweh in that God is an unchanging God. This is what is called the doctrine of immutability. The Psalmist argues from the standpoint of what is mutable and what is immutable. The first contrast in this case is found in the fact that the heavens will perish and they will be changed. The great prophet Isaiah agreed with the Psalmist in that All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree (Isaiah 34:4). As for the Son however, there is absolutely no alteration to His being since the Lord Jesus cannot change For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) There is joy for the believer when reading these words since the thought of a changing God would suggest an uncertainty of the fulfillment of the promises.

We find in the statement that the “years” of Yahweh are “throughout all generations”. We have here a statement known as anthropomorphism[liii] where God is defining His eternal nature.[liv] The text is appealing to a continuance in that from generation to generation and so forth, His years are. We find the Psalmist establishing this thought in other psalms as well in stating that Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:2) and Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:2) Throughout time itself Yahweh simply exists and His entire nature is outside of our existence. If He bears the nature of eternity and is outside of time, then there can be no variation of change. He does not grow old or see any sort of decay hence from start to finish He simply exists and is God.

But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

The distinction between the Son and the angels continues. His intent is to make certain the reader has well understood the urging he has presented.  The writer now draws from v. 5 when he stated For to which of the angels did He ever say in continuing with quotations from Psalm 2 and 2 Sam. 7.  Once again, we have a question which must be answered in the negative.

 The writer proceeds to cite OT passages to substantiate his claims. This time around he quotes from the 110th Psalm which is the most quoted Psalm in all of the New Testament scriptures. This passage is corresponding back to v.3 where the writer states that the Son sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high pointing to the enthronement of the king. The fact that anyone could ever sit on the throne of God was foreign to Jewish thinking. This is exactly what enraged the High Priest during the Lord’s mock trial.

 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. (Mark 14:62-63)

There has been some controversy surrounding the word till (Heos) where there seems to be a time of ending to His sitting on the throne. There have been those who would submit that Christ couldn’t be God since His reign on the throne will come to an end. To hold to this position in any logical terms would mean that one would have to ignore the previous 12 verses that demonstrate His divinity with clarity.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

We now turn to the final verse of the chapter. It carries on into chapter 2 and the writer now returns to speaking of the angels once again. This should come to no surprise taking into consideration the audience to which he is writing. He wants to take the time to emphasize the point he has been making since the beginning of the chapter.

The ministering work of these angelic beings was quite admired by these Hebrew believers. They would not have forgotten their roots! Their labors of the angels consist of protection (2 Kings 6:15-17), deliverance (Acts 5:17-19; 12:6-9) and taking an individual to heaven (Luke 16:22).[lv]  The question that might come to mind is: why even mention this verse? The simplest reply we can give is that it keeps with the context to exhibit Christ’s superiority over the angels. The application here is to show the roles of both beings in that Christ is the one sitting on the throne as Prophet, Priest and King while the angels function as those who were sent forth as servants. These angels are servants while the Lord Jesus Christ became a servant by His voluntarily taken on flesh.  Even though these angelic servants had historically displayed many tasks, the writer defines a particular work which is given to these servants in that they are to be ministers “for those who will inherit salvation”. This is demonstrated to a specific group of people. They are those who will inherit salvation! As genuine believers who are being sanctified in the Lord Jesus Christ, there should be a great comfort that comes to those who are the Lord’s people in that we have powerful servants ministering and watching over us even in our greatest afflictions. On our own accord we would fail miserably but the Lord who bought us with His own blood is the o

[i] The term used is polumeros (polumerwV) which is explained “the word is made up of polus “many”, and meros “parts”, the total meaning being “by many parts”.  (Word Studies in the New Testament, K. Wuest, Eerdmans, Page. 31)

[ii] Polutropos (polutropwV):This refers to the difference of the various revelations in contents and form. Not the different ways in which God imparted his revelations to the prophets, but the different ways in which he spoke by the prophets to the fathers: in one way through Moses, in another through Elijah, in others through Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. (Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, M. Vincent, Hendrickson Publishers, Page 377)

[iii] Some would argue that the canon is still open and hence their “scripture” is just as inspired as the Bible. One group that promulgates this view is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints whom contest that their scriptures, the book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenant and the Pearl of Great Price should be put on equal grounds with the scriptures. The vital flaw in this is that firstly the bible is a much more ancient book which states that God does not contradict Himself. When we examine the book of Mormon alongside the Christian Scriptures, we see a tremendous difference between the two in regards to fundamentals concerning the nature of God, Salvation and so forth—See Jerald & Sandra Tanner’s book “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality” for a more in-depth look.

[iv] Commentary on Hebrews, John Calvin, Baker Books, Page.33

[v] We will be dealing with the eternality of the Son later in this study

[vi] Some have found difficulty in the term “only begotten son” in which some have associated with a point of origin. The Watchtower and many others will utilize this term to demonstrate a point of existence of the Son. The KJV & NASB both render the word “monogenes” as only-begotten yet the NIV translates it as “One and Only”. The term monogenes can be divided into two separate words, monos meaning unique, only, one of a kind and genes (gennos) which refers to a kind or a type. In the earlier days, it was thought that the genes was from ginnomai yet through research, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term would have been taken from the gennos. We must although when reading words in scripture that there is such a thing as terms having different meanings due to their context. Since there are many passages that refer to the Lord Jesus as being eternal, without a beginning, we must, in essence compare scripture as a whole in order to avoid any confusion. The key to understanding the passage is understanding the primary point of what John was trying to get across which wasn’t the origins of the Lord but his uniqueness, that He is the Only one of His kind. The same expression is used of Abraham’s son Isaac: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. (Hebrews 11:17) however we know that Abraham had other children and Isaac was “only begotten” in His special position within the family as the chosen one whom he had a special love for.

[vii] The text of Isaiah 9:6 refers to the Son that is given and the same one who is called “mighty God”.

[viii] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Books House, Page 26

[ix] Quoting Bowman’s book regarding the preposition “dia”: “The argument from the use of different prepositions (ek or ex, “from,” the Father; dia, “through”, the Son) fails to come to terms with the way ancient writers used these prepositions in reference to creation. Paul uses both prepositions in another passage referring simply to God: “For from [ex] him and through [di’] him and for [eis] him are all things” (Romans 11:36 NAB). Pauline scholar Thomas Schreiner accurately paraphrases Paul’s statement: “God is the source of all things, the means by which all things are accomplished, and the goal of all things.” Bauckham rightly understands the three phrases to express God’s causation of all things in three ways: God is the efficient cause (ex autou), the instrumental cause (di’ autou), and the final cause (eis auton). All three of the prepositional phrases in Romans 11:36 occur in 1 Corinthians 8:6, which states, “To us there is one God, the Father, from whom [ex hou] are all things and we for him [eis hou], and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom [di’ hou] are all things and we though him [di auton]”. As Bauckman notes, Paul here assigns two of the causal functions of God to the Father and the third to Christ. One should not infer from 1 Corinthians 8:6 that the causal funcations assigned there to God the Father are not also applicable to the Son or vice versa…elsewhere, the apostle states, “In Him [en auto] all things in heaven and on earth were created…allthings have been created through him [di’ autou] and for him [eis auton} (Col. 1:16) Here, Paul assigns the “final cause”, as Bauckham puts it, to the Son. — Putting Jesus in His Place: The case for the Deity of Christ, R. Bowman Jr., J. Ed. Komoszewski, Kregel Publishings,  Page 190

[x] The Watchtower Society among many Neo-Arians have affirmed this position in stating that the Lord Jesus was the first created thing of Yahweh whom then created all other things. This rendition is very similar to a form of gnosticism that was rampant during the time of the apostles. The belief was spirit was absolutely pure while flesh was purely evil. They could not accept that a pure spirit such as God could create the fallen human race hence they began teaching that God created mediators or demi-gods that functioned as creator for God. This was exactly the teaching that the apostle Paul was writing against in the book of the Colossians using their own terminology (pleroma/aeon) to contradict their theology in verses such as Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9. See James White’s “The Forgotten Trinity” for further information.

[xi] Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. IV, Hendrickson Publishers, M. Vincent, Page 380

[xii] It should be noted that the language employed by the Lord Jesus “I AM” can be traced back to the name which Yahweh had declared would be the name He would be known by to the Hebrews. We read: “Then Moses said to God, indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “the God of your fathers has sent me to you”, and they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13-14)

[xiii] Some have come to the conclusion that this expression is actually evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ is not God. The argument states that in order for there to be an print or engraving there had to be something that existed firstly to have engraved or made the print. This argumentation fails to take into account that the term charakter is in a noun form and not a verb. The term charakter is not the act of printing or engraving but the fact that there is perfect resemblance between the two.

[xiv] Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Kenneth Wuest, Eerdmans, Pages 37-38

[xv] Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, A.T. Robertson, Broadman, Page 336

[xvi] Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Joseph Thayer, Hendrickson, Page 645

[xvii] The Lord of Glory, B.B. Warfield, Solid Ground Christian Books,  Page 279

[xviii] God is continually involved with all created things in such as a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes– Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, Zondervan, 1994, Page 315

[xix] We call this plan, in terms, the decree of God. Within the term “decree” we find the thought of a decision or an order given by an authority. It is also the thought of the implementation of His purposes and intention of future things. This is actually intertwined with respects to His foreknowledge and Sovereignty.

The issue surrounding the decree of God relates also to His kingship. The very idea of the power of a monarchy or a king is within the bound of his decrees. God has put forward His eternal purposes and has pronounced His authoritative will with wisdom and might. We are especially given the affirmation of an eternal decree by the purpose of sending Christ into the world. We read that this was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:11), This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23) and that in His death, the men that committed the evil acts against Christ did whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. (Acts 4:28)

[xx] If Christ purged our sins and He accomplished this then there is no reason for anyone to receive a guilty verdict from the Father since He has taken away each and every sin. The question then must be asked if He had the intention of purging the sins of all men? We believe that Christ accomplished this for His elect and since He is a perfect savior who accomplishes perfectly what He intended to do at the cross of Calvary. Christ Jesus saves people and does not merely make men savable!

[xxi] Knowing God, J.I. Packer, Intervarsity Press, Page 82-83

[xxii] Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 22, John Calvin, Bakerbooks, Page 39

[xxiii] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Books, Page 40

[xxiv] The study of Angels is one that is complex hence we cannot examine it in its fullness here. We can say that angels are created (Neh. 9:6), are spirits (Heb. 1:14), are very powerful (2 Peter 1:11) and occupy different ranks (Jude 9-archangel). There are only two mentioned by name, mainly Michael (Jude 9, Daniel 10:13, 21) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19). 

[xxv] Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, Zondervan,  Page 397

[xxvi] Some have attempted to render “angel” (angelos) as meaning men or prophetic messengers however this undermines the usage in Hebrews found in Hebrews 2:2, 2:7,:2:9, 2:16, 12:22, 13:2

[xxvii] Hebrews 6:9, 7:7, 7:19, 7:22, 8:6, 9:23, 10:34, 11:16, 11:35, 11:40, 12:24

[xxviii] “He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”. The words “hath by inheritance obtained” are in the perfect tense in the Greek text, literally, “He inherited in times past with the present result that the inheritance is in His permanent possession”. The use of the perfect here shows that the writer is speaking of a past completed action, and of the present abiding result. (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, K. Wuest, Eerdmans, Page 44)

[xxix] See Mark 12: 1-11; the parable of the wicked vinedressers

[xxx] The epistle to the Hebrews, F.F. Bruce, Eerdman’s Publishing, Page 51

[xxxi] The term monogenes can be divided into two separate words, monos meaning unique, only, one of a kind and genes (gennos) which refers to a kind or a type. In the earlier days, it was thought that the genes was from ginnomai yet through research, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term would have been taken from the gennos. We must although when reading words in scripture that there is such a thing as terms having different meanings due to their context. Since there are many passages that refer to the Lord Jesus as being eternal, without a beginning, we must, in essence compare scripture as a whole in order to avoid any confusion. The key to understanding the passage is understanding the primary point of what John was trying to get across which wasn’t the origins of the Lord but his uniqueness, that He is the Only one of His kind. Examine Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called the only begotten son of Abraham however we know that by reading in Genesis about the sons of Abraham that Isaac wasn’t his only son but held a unique place in the family.

[xxxii] by its juxtaposition to the verb “bring in” is to be understood as being used with that verb. The order of the words in the Greek text is “Whenever and again he brings in.” When used with a verb in Hebrews, the word means “a second time.” (5:12, 6:1,2) The meaning therefore is, “when He a second time bringeth in the first-begotten into the world.” Reference being to the second advent of Messiah (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Hebrews, K. Wuest, Eerdmans, Page 46)

[xxxiii] In Jewish culture the firstborn held a preeminent position within a family in that he received double the portion of his fathers things and was considered a ruler over them even before the death of his father. The term is used in the Old Testament in Genesis 41:51 where the sons of Joseph are named, the firstborn being Manasseh and the second born Ephraim however in Jeremiah 31:9 we read that Ephraim is the firstborn of all Israel. The reason for this title in Jeremiah is simply because Ephraim held a preeminent position among Israel. The term is also applied to David in the 90th Psalm however we are also told that he was the youngest son of Jesse.

[xxxiv] It should be noted that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has attempted to insert the term “other” between the words “all things” in order to defend their statement that the Lord Jesus Christ was created “first” by Yahweh and then He created everything else. There is no warrant to insert this word since there is absolutely no evidence from the Greek manuscripts we possess in order to substantiate this translation.  It should also be noted that this would turn Paul’s argument against him since he is writing against Gnostics were one of the first threats to Christianity. They held 2 main views, that salvation came from knowledge, this is where we get the term “gnosis” and also they believed in something called dualism. Dualism meant that they separated flesh and spirit so that flesh was completely evil and Spirit was completely good. The Gnostics used to teach that God, being perfect spirit, couldn’t have directly created flesh since it’s pure evil.These Gnostics believed that God created other “godlike” creatures called ‘aeons” and where gathered in groups called “pleroma” which is a reference to “fullness”. They would go down the chain, a less and less pure being, until they created a material universe. These were the same Gnostics that believed that since the Lord Jesus was good then He could not have had a physical body, hence here we see the refutation of 1 John 4:2-3.The Watchtowers argument that the Lord Jesus created all “other” things goes entirely against the argument Paul was trying to present to the Colossian Church.

[xxxv] Imperative first aorist active third plural of proskuneō, here in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, A.T. Robertson, Broadman, Page 338)

[xxxvi] It should be noted that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s 1961 ed. Of their translation the New World Translation read “Let all the angels of God worship Him” however in the newer ed. Of this translation the word “proskuneo” is translated “obeisance”.

[xxxvii] I had participated in a debate with a member of the WBTS awhile back who quoted W.E. Vines to promote this translation. The text reads: to make obeisance, do reverence to” (from pros, “towards,” and kuneo, “to kiss”), however when we read the entire definition that Vines provided we see that there is only a fragment of the definition given: “to make obeisance, do reverence to” (from pros, “towards,” and kuneo, “to kiss”), is the most frequent word rendered “to worship.” It is used of an act of homage or reverence (a) to God, e.g., Matt. 4:10; John 4:21-24; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:10 (2nd part); 22:9; (b) to Christ, e.g., Matt. 2:2,8,11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6, in a quotation from the Sept. of Deut. 32:43, referring to Christ’s Second Advent; (c) to a man, Matt. 18:26; (d) to the Dragon, by men, Rev. 13:4; (e) to the Beast, his human instrument, Rev. 13:4,8,12; 14:9,11; (f) the image of the Beast, Rev. 13:15; 14:11; 16:2; (g) to demons, Rev. 9:20; (h) to idols, Acts 7:43.

[xxxviii] What we are arguing is the usage of the term proskunhw. There are terms that seem similar like the bowing down before a king and so forth that could be taken as worship however the association of proskunhw with the Lord Jesus is certainly an identification of His deity since the term is related to a form of religious worship.

[xxxix] LXX refers to the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the OT Hebrew.

[xl] Also see Micah 5:2

[xli] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Book House, Page 58-59

[xlii] The writer uses o qeoV with the definite article. There is no question that the writer’s words are meant to present pure deity and that which is the Father in nature.

[xliii] This would have been the view of the early heresy that was challenging the church in its primitive years called gnosticism. Paul refutes this heresy in his letter to the Colossians by stating that “in Him all the fullness (pleroma) of deity dwells in bodily form” (2:9) which was a sharp rebuke to their belief system.

[xliv] Some have attempted to argue for the traditional view from the analogy that Christ would have been sitting on God if the rendering “God is thy throne”. This is very poor argumentation especially when we see this type of peculiar language used in other areas of scripture (Psalm 90:1; 91:1-2,9)

[xlv] Robertson notes that “it is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative (address with the nominative form as in John 20:28 with the Messiah termed theos as is possible, John 1:18) or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood “God is they throne” or “thy throne O’ God”. Either makes good sense. -Word Pictures of the New Testament, A.T. Robertson, Broadman, Page 339

[xlvi] D. Wallace writes: “there are three synthatical possibilities for qeoV here: as a subject (“God is your throne), predicate nom. (your throne is God), and nom. For voc. ( as in the translation above). The S and PN translations can be lumped together and set off against the nom. For voc. approach. It is our view that the nom. For voc. view is to be preferred for the following reasons: (1) It is an overstatement to argue that if a writer wanted to address God he could have used the vocative qee, because no where in the NT is this done except in Matt 27:46. The articular nom. For voc. is the almost universal choice. (2) This is especially the case in quoting from the LXX (as in Heb. 1:8; cf. Heb 10:7), for the LXX is equally reticent to use the voc. form, most likely since Hebrew lacked such a form. (3) The accentuation in the Hebrew of Ps. 45:7 suggests that there should be a pause between “throne” and “God” (indicating that tradition took “God” as direct address). (4) This view takes seriously the men…de construction in vv7-8, while the S-PN view does not adequately  handle these conjuctions. Specifically, if we read v.8 as “your throne is God” the de loses its adversative force, for such a statement could also be made of the angels, viz., that God reigns over them.— Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace, Zondervan, Page 59

[xlvii] Dr. Morey writes: “o qeoV is found sixty-three times in the vocative in the Psalms. Why then deny it here? Nowhere in Scripture is God ever said to be someone’s throne. The language “God is your throne” is rather odd and out of place in Psalm 45 and Hebrews 1. How does such a phrase prove that Jesus has a superior name and nature to the angels?– The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, Robert Morey, Christian Scholar’s press, Page 349

[xlviii] For a full treatment of the grammatical and synthaxical issues surrounding this text, see “Jesus as God” by Murray J. Harris, Baker Book House, Pages 187-227

[xlix] Putting Jesus in His place, R. Bowman jr. and Ed. Komoszewski, Kregel Publications, Page 149

[l] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Book House, Page 66-67

[li] The Epistle to the Hebrews, F.F. Bruce, Eerdmans Publishing, Page 61-62

[lii] It should be noted that in the Psalm the writer refers to this portion as “You my God” which is paralleled with the term “You, LORD”. 

[liii] Anthropomorphism is when God uses human terms about Himself when attempting to teach a truth regarding Himself. This is very similar to a parable when we use a common expression or story to reiterate a deeper truth.

[liv] See Micah 5:2; John 8:58; John 17:5, Colossians 1:17; Revelation 22:13

[lv] Also see Exodus 23:20; 1 Kings 19:5; Psalm 91:11 and Mark 1:13