Christ: Greater than the angels - Hebrews 1:4-2:18

These days it is not difficult to find angels in popular culture. One only has to turn on their television sets and find shows like Touched by an Angel or Saving Grace, where angels are portrayed as powerful beings that intervene in human affairs, and those shows are just the beginning of our fascination with angels movies, magazine articles, novels, comic books have portrayed angels in shapes and sizes. In fact, even if you’d look at the ‘religious’ section of an average bookstore you’d even find non-fictional books about angels that most of the time deviates from how they were revealed to us in the Bible. However it is interesting to note that if one would browse those books it would not be very difficult to see Jewish underpinnings in them, after all angels are a Judeo-Christian concept, but as mentioned earlier these are far from Biblical revelation as most of them trace their theology from the mysticism of the Jewish Kabbalah.

Like many people today, many Jews had this thing about angels.

Many Jews had a superstitious or idolatrous respect for angels, because they had received the law and other tidings of the Divine will by their ministry. They looked upon them as mediators between God and men, and some went so far as to pay them a kind of religious homage or worship. Thus it was necessary that the apostle should insist, not only on Christ's being the Creator of all things, and therefore of angels themselves, but as being the risen and exalted Messiah in human nature, to whom angels, authorities, and powers are made subject.1

What are angels?

  • Angels are indeed special but they are like us also created beings.

  • They are Spirit beings. Psalm 104:4

  • Angels are at times referred to as the ‘sons of God’ (Job.1: 6; Genesis 6:1)

  • They are often God’s messengers. Throughout the Old Testament and even into the New Testament, angels delivered messages from God.

  • The angels, in some special way, were involved with the giving of the law. Acts 7:52-53

  • In spite of how special angels may be, the Lord Jesus is better than they are.

Looking at the Word

Hebrews 1:4 - Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

  • Names in the Bible were more important than they are today. Often names reflected a person’s character.

  • When Jesus had purged our sins, that is died on the cross, was buried and rose again, he went back to Heaven and sat down on “the right hand of the majesty on high.” No angel ever sat at God’s right hand. That position was reserved for the One who God called “Son”.

Hebrews 1:5 - For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

  • This portion of Hebrews contains many quotes from the Old Testament. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee is a quote from Psalm 2:7.

  • Jesus has always been God, the Son.

  • But there was a time of special declaration that Jesus is God the Son. That took place at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Acts 13:33, Romans 1:3-4

  • The second quote in Hebrews 1:5, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son, is a quote from 2 Samuel 7:14. This quote, though it partially refers to Solomon, looks ahead to David’s Greater Son or descendent, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a tremendous father/son relationship within the Trinity.

Hebrews 1:6 - And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him.

  • Jesus is called “the firstbegotten” or “first born”.

  • According to Warren Wiersbe “The title is one of rank and honor, for the firstborn receives the inheritance and the special blessing. Christ is the “Firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15) because He created all things; and He is the highest of all who came back from the dead (Col. 1:18).” 2

  • When Jesus came into the world, the angels worshipped Him, showing His superiority.

  • Now you may be asking, “So Jesus is the Son of God, why should I be so thankful?”

  • You should be thankful if you know Jesus as your Savior, if you’ve been born again. This means that as the Son Jesus sits at the right hand of God. As the Son Jesus has special access to the Father.

  • Be thankful because the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for you! Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 7:24-25, 1 John 2:1-2

Hebrews 1:8 - But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (A quote of Psalm 45:6)

  • What is a scepter? A scepter is a staff held by a ruler. It is an emblem of authority.

  • Our Lord Jesus has an emblem of authority. His scepter is a scepter of righteousness. He rules and will rule in righteousness. Isaiah 11:1-5

  • Be thankful! There is coming a day when nobody will be able to legitimately say that there is any unrighteousness anywhere. And what’s neat about this is that we, as Christians, are going reign with Christ in His kingdom!

Hebrews 1:9 - Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Ps. 45:7)

  • We are again reminded of Christ’s superiority because of His love for righteousness and hatred of iniquity.

  • If we know Jesus as Savior, we should love righteousness and hate iniquity also! We carry His name as Christians and should act accordingly. 1 John 2:6

Hebrews 1:10 - And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: (A quote of Psalm 102:25)

Why does the universe exist? Why does the world exist? Why do the wonders of nature exist? Why do we exist? It is because the Lord laid the foundation of the earth and everything is the work of His hands.

Hebrews 1:10-12 - And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: [11] They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; [12] And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (A quote of Psalm 102:25-27)

  • Why this world is not even stable.

  • There is coming a day when this old world will be taken off and discarded like an old garment. It shall be replaced with something new. 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:1-2

  • Through this Christ will continue to exist but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

  • Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.

  • Now why should you and I be thankful for this stability of our Lord?

  • What has He promised to those that believe on Him for forgiveness and salvation?

  • He has promised eternal life! John 10:27-28

  • Jesus would not be able to give us eternal life unless He himself is eternal. He will never die. He is stable! Be thankful!

Hebrews 1:13 - But to which of the angels said he at any times, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? See Psalm 110:1

Jesus is superior to the angels. Jesus is waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool and He will reign for all eternity.

The angels, however, are not waiting to reign.

The angels are serving now and will serve in the future. In fact, we are and will be served by angels.

Angels are servants. God will use them to pronounce, protect and provide. But there is better news than this.

Be thankful because Jesus is superior to the angels. It is Jesus who sits at the right hand of God.

It is Jesus who is to be thanked and worshipped. If it weren’t for Jesus, the angels wouldn’t even exist!

CONCERNING SAINTS AND SINNERS: Look Out by Heeding the Word and Don’t Drift (2:1-4) (Warning to the Intellectually Convinced)

Saints and Sinners alike are to "take heed".

Hebrews 2:1 - (first of five great warnings interjected throughout the book of Hebrews) We (writer must be Jewish) must therefore (for this reason; because of Jesus’ superiority) pay even more attention to what we have heard (the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus), so that we will not drift away (slip away slowly)

Saints and Sinners alike are not to "neglect so great salvation".

Hebrews 2:2-3 - For if (a fulfilled condition) the message spoken through angels was legally binding (unalterable), and every transgression (willful act against God) and disobedience (sin of neglect and omission) received a just punishment (by God’s very nature, He can never be unjust; the law punished every sin, Jude 5 and James 2:10), how will we escape (the wages of sin is death; see Rom. 3:23; 6:23) if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord (See John 10:38 and Acts 2:22) and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

Signs, wonders, and miracles confirmed the message to Saints and Sinners.

Hebrews 2:4 - At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions [of gifts] (miraculous gifts, like given to the apostles, not promised to believers in general, included healing, miracles, tongues and interpretation of tongues) from the Holy Spirit according to His will.

The message to Saints and Sinners was that of victory

Hebrews 2:14-15 – Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is – the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear off death.

The final authority of death is in the hands of our God (Deut. 32:39; Matt.10: 28; Rev. 1:18). Satan can do only that which is permitted by God (Job 1:12, 2:6). But because Satan is the author of sin (John 8:44), and sin brings death (Rom. 6:23), in this sense Satan exercises power in the realm of death. Jesus called him a murderer (John 8:44). Satan uses the fear of death as a terrible weapon to gain control over the lives of people.3

We who trust in Jesus Christ have once and for all been delivered from Satan’s authority from and from the fear of death. The death burial and resurrection of Christ has given us victory! (1 Cor. 15:55-58)4

1 Henry, Matthew – Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews

2 Wiersbe, Warren W. – Be Confident, How to keep your balance in the day we live p.22

3 Ibid

4 Ibid

The Church and the Gospel

'The appointment of Jesus to be the Christ takes place in the Spirit and must be apprehended in the Spirit. It is self-sufficient, unlimited, and in itself true. And moreover, it is what is altogether new, the decisive factor and turning-point in man's consideration of God. . . . To the proclamation and receiving of this Gospel the whole activity of the Christian community — its teaching, ethic, and worship — is strictly related. But the activity of the community is related to the Gospel only insofar as it is no more than a crater formed by the explosion of a shell that seeks to be no more than a void in which the Gospel reveals itself. The people of Christ, His community, know that no sacred word or work or thing exists in its own right: they know only those words and works and things which by their negation are sign-posts tot he Holy One. If anything Christian (!) be unrelated to the Gospel, it is a human by-product, a dangerous religious survival, a regrettable misunderstanding. For in this case content would be substituted for a void, convex for concave, positive for negative, and the characteristic marks of Christianity would be possession and self-sufficiency rather than deprivation and hope. If this be persisted in, there emerges, instead of the community of Christ, Christendom, and ineffective peace-pact or compromise with that existence which, moving with its own momentum, lies on this side of the resurrection. Christianity would then have lost all relation to the power of God."

– Karl Barth, Epistle to the Romans

The Revelation of God in Christ - Hebrews 1:1-3

C. S. Lewis memorably portrayed the growing Christian's experience of an ever-enlarging Christ in his Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy, caught up in her spiritual quest, saw the lion Aslan — Christ — shining white and huge in the moonlight. In a burst of emotion Lucy rushed to him, burying her face in the rich silkiness of his mane, whereupon the great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half-sitting and half-lying between his front paws. He bent forward and touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath was all around her.

She gazed up into the large, wise face.

"Welcome, child," he said.

"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."

"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.

"Not because you are?"

"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

Expanding souls encounter an expanding Christ! The book of Hebrews has a double dose of growth-producing power — first, because it presents the greatness of Christ as no other New Testament writing does, and, second, because it repeatedly demands a response from the reader. Seriously considered, Hebrews will make us grow and find a bigger Christ.1

In this text we see God giving the greatest communication of all, the message of His wonderful Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Background of the passage

Hebrews” was the name given to the Jews who lived in Palestine, unlike the majority who had emigrated to other countries. This letter is addressed to the first Christian communities of Palestine, formed by Jews – by race – who had been persecuted and punished and whose possessions had been confiscated, all because they had become followers of Christ. 2

Moreover, the epistle was also written in order to prevent apostasy. Some have interpreted apostasy to mean a number of different things, such as a group of Christians in one sect leaving for another more conservative sect, one in which the author disapproves. Some have seen apostasy as a move from the Christian assembly to pagan ritual. In light of a possibly Jewish-Christian audience, the apostasy in this sense may be in regard to Jewish-Christians leaving the Christian assembly to return to the synagogue. In light of Pauline doctrine, the epistle dissuades non-Jewish Christians from feeling a need to convert to Judaism. Therefore the author writes, "Let us hold fast to our confession" (4:14).

In light of these we can now see that the letter, although it specifically pertains to a Jewish audience who are familiar with the Old Testament, it is also for the entire Church at large as it serves to confirm our faith, the letter shows us that the Jewish religion with its imposing ceremonies, were just the foreshadowing of something greater. The pardon of sin and the spirit of religion – the aspiration of the entire Old Testament – was to be the work of Jesus, the Son of God. There is no other sacrifice but His, which begins on the cross and ends in glory.

On hindsight, we can see the as it was originally written, the letter is addressed to people who are very much like us, for are there not many “Hebrews” in today’s world? The sick who no longer have hope, the persecuted Christians, the people who are deprived of justice in a mediocre society in which we live.

Lastly, it shows how the church in the 1st century responds to the challenges posed to them at the time from both a without and within: and that is they study theology.

Affirmation to the Believer

The Book of Hebrews is a book that is constantly showing us something better. It is a book written to Jewish Christians who were tempted to bail out on Christianity and go back to Judaism. In this book we find lessons that show us that because Jesus Christ is better, there is a better way for us to live now.

You might even be like the Hebrews to whom this letter was written. You may be considering bailing out on your traditional faith and going back to something you once knew, or leaving your traditional faith for something more modern or trendy. You shouldn’t do this, because Christ is better and the true Christian life is better than anything anyone else can offer. The Book of Hebrews shows us this.3

I. We have a better message: Christ and the Old Testament

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways”

... the Epistle opens with the solemn announcement of the superiority of the New Testament Revelation by the Son over Old Testament Revelation by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1-4). 4

The statements on the verse are very doctrinal as it points towards the Doctrine of Revelation which is according to Matthew 11:27, an act of God communicate Himself and His will to humankind. The term “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, which means “a disclosure” or “an unveiling.”

Knowing that God sought from the beginning to reveal Himself to us we are now lead to conclude that since the first word of Scripture was written down there has always been a good message. We have a good message because God has spoken!

In a way this is how God revealed Himself:

Long ago (prior to the birth of Christ) God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways (thirty-nine books in the Old Testament; God spoke directly to a man and told him to write, He communicated through a vision, parable, and symbol; it was always God who spoke.)

The Old Testament was written over a period of fifteen hundred years by more than forty writers, each book having its own element of truth. The Old Testament is progressive revelation. 5

As good as the Old Testament is there is a problem. For starters it is an incomplete message, because God had more to say to us. The Old Testament speaks of promises that were yet to be fulfilled.

Children are first taught letters; then they worry about the words and the sentences. God gave His revelation in the same way. His spelling book began with types, ceremonies, and prophecies and progressed to final completion in Christ.6

God spoke in past times to the “fathers”, the Jewish ancestors. Today He has spoken to us through His Son. We now have a completed message with the addition of the New Testament.

We now have the “Good News” of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. We now have the theology of Christ in the Epistles. And we have a description of Christ’s culmination of all things in the future in the Book of Revelation. We now we have a completed Scriptures.

There is the Incarnate, revelation of God in the Church, which gathers around the reality of the Risen Lord, proclaiming God’s salvation in their corporate worship as they celebrate the Communion and corporately re-live and proclaim the bigger story of the entire universe in the proclamation of the Word of God in Scriptures. As Matthew 18:20 God is in the midst of people gathered in His name, Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake our gathering in the name of Christ, because we as Hebrews 12:1 we are part of that great cloud of witnesses that helps one another to persevere in the faith for Christ. Which is the very case and point why Epistles are written to churches because it is Christ’s body which was as 1 Corinthians 11:24 puts it Christ’s body which was broken for you.

II. We have a better Messenger: Christ the Son of God

But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He made the universe.

God sent a special envoy from Heaven to speak to us. This is Who the New Testament writers speak of. This special envoy is the better messenger that the Old Testament did not have: The Lord Jesus who has done more than any prophet or any other person.

In these last days (days of fulfilled prophecy), He has spoken to us by [His] Son (God is fully expressed in Jesus, Col.1:15), whom He has appointed heir of all things (legal rights in inheritance and authority; see Eph.1:9-10; Phil.2:8-11) and through whom He made the universe (agent of whom all things are created; see John 1:3; Col.1:16-17; Rom. 11:36).

In Hebrews 11:2 we are told that it is by the Lord Jesus that God made the worlds. I owe my existence to the Son of God. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that He is upholding all things by the word of His power. Colossians 1:17 states that He is before all things, and by him all things consist.

You and I can count on order in the natural world around us simply because Lord Jesus holds it together!

The Old Testament was promise; the New Testament is fulfillment. Christ said, "I am not come to destroy [the Law], but to fulfill it." (Matt. 5:17).

III. Jesus Christ: God Incarnate

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven.

Creating everything and holding them together are certainly great performances. But there is one more thing that He did that is absolutely amazing. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that He has by Himself purged our sins.

As we go further we are now asked: Who is Jesus Christ?

Mark 1:1, John 1:1-2 says He is the eternal Son of God. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, as John 1:1,14 and Philippians 2:6-7, puts it.

When God chose to save a sinful, rebellious world… When God chose to communicate what He is like… When God chose to show us Himself… He sent His Son!

One of the great prophecies of Christmas is Isaiah 9:6.

In this verse God shows us just how great the person is whom He sent to us. Isaiah 9:6

As the passage puts it:

He is the radiance of His glory (expresses God to us by sending light), the exact expression of His nature, (He is a stamp or seal of God’s image) and He sustains all things by His powerful word (He holds all things together) After making purification for sins (Christ paid the penalty of death for our sins) He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ( He is the exalted Christ at the right hand of God)


If these are truly our “last days”...with Jesus accomplishing everything our salvation demanded and the impending second coming of Him, what will you do to change or modify your priorities, relationships, and behaviors? If someone says to you, “Jesus is only a prophet”, what would your response be?


1 Stewart, Hal -The Supremacy of Christ Introduced

2 Introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews from the Christian Community Bible



5 Ibid

6 Ibid