The Book of Hebrews #3 chapter 1:4-6
The Book of Hebrews
Jesus Christ, Superior to Angels, Part 1
Hebrews 1:4-6
        
I think it important to keep in mind that the book of Hebrews is written to Jewish people to convince them that Jesus is better than anything else they know about or could ever encounter. 
 
He introduces that topic immediately in verse 3, as we saw last week, by giving seven characteristics of Jesus.  Those are kind of a summation of the fact that Jesus is superior to everything and everybody, which pretty well covers it all.
 
Then he begins to unfold the specifics of what that means.  The first section, beginning at verse 4, deals with Jesus superiority to angels. 
 
Now we often refer to man as the pinnacle of creation and it is true that man is a wonderful and an amazing creation. But that speaks of earthly creation.  According to Hebrews 2:9, when Jesus became a man He was made a little lower than the angels.  That means the angels are a little above us. 
 
They are holy, they are powerful, they are wise. They do not suffer with the infirmities that men suffer with. And so they are especially created spirit beings made by God before men were ever created, they were in the heavens, in fact, watching when God was doing the creating when He was making the world and they were made higher than men; at least higher than fallen men.
 
Now to begin with tonight, and we will take a couple of weeks to look at this section, I want to give you a little angelology. If we are going to understand why Jesus is superior to the angels, it would help us to know a little something about angels themselves. 
 
Then, before we look at the text, I want us to know a little bit about how the Jews viewed angels because the book of Hebrews is written to them and it addresses their line of reasoning and thought.  So let’s take a brief theological and historical look at angels.
 
First of all, angels are created beings.  In the beginning was God and nothing else and by the creative power of God, He brought form these beings known as angels. 
 
They were in existence prior to the creation of the world.  In fact, they were witnesses to it.  Somewhere along the way, Lucifer led his rebellion against God and one third of the angels decided to follow Satan rather than God and all of that occurred prior to the creation. 
 
Second, angels are spirit beings and Scripture teaches us that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. Consequently angels do not have flesh and bones like humans. They do have some sort of a body. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15 that there are bodies terrestrial and there are bodies celestial.
 
That is there are bodies of the earth and there are bodies of the heavens. Angels have some kind of form. They are even capable of appearing in a human form.
In Hebrews 13:2, the Bible says "be careful how you treat strangers or you might be entertaining angels unawares."
 
They can take on a form that is human or at least human-like.  Most every occurrence we have of angels in Scripture they had some kind of physical form.  In the Old Testament we even have Jacob wrestling with one through the night. 
 
Third, Colossians 1:16-17 infers that angels are unable to procreate. They are not man and wife and having little angels. Only men and women have little angels, who grow up to be anything but.
 
That means all the angels originally created are all there are. There were no angels added to the original batch. God made them. He made them all uniquely as single identities. They do not reproduce.  The number of angels has not changed one angel since they were originally created.  Some have fallen but they still exist as they were created.
 
Also, nowhere does Scripture indicates that they die. They do not decrease and they do not increase. Each angel then is a direct creation of God standing in immediate personal relationship to God the creator who made him.
 
They speak; they worship; they live in the presence of God.  There are millions and millions of them; they are witness to and often participants in the events of the earth. They are empowered and directed and available to God. They  aide the church by answering prayer, delivering from danger, encouraging Christians and protecting children.
They announce judgment on the unsaved.  Their ministry and function is extremely complex and the Bible is full of references to them.   There are 108 references in the Old Testament and 165 in the New Testament to angels. 
 
And Old Testament saints, the Jews were well aware of the existence of angels. 
 
At the time of the writing of Hebrews, Jewish thought had begun to wander a little beyond the Old Testament in regard to angels so that when the writer of Hebrews is writing, He is writing not only with biblical backdrop, but also some Jewish misconceptions.
 
For instance, they believed rightly that angels were next to God in position and authority.  But out of that grew the belief that they wer mediators between men and God.  After all, if they surround God, you have to get through them to get to God. 
 
They also believed that angels were really the beings who are instruments in bringing God's word and the working of God's will in the universe and to men.
 
They believed, rightly  that angels were created and did not eat and drink or reproduce, they also believed that angels were God's senate and that God never did anything without asking the angels. They were His counsel, and they believed that when Genesis let us make man, that the one God was speaking of His angelic senate in the word us.
 
 
 
Some Jews even believed that angels were opposed to the creation of men and were annihilated at that time for their objection.
 
Others believe that they objected to the giving of the law and they attacked Moses on the way up Mount Sinai. They even named angels. They believed there were seven presence angels who stayed in the presence of God at all times and they named them Raphael, Uriel, Thaniel, Gabriel, Michael.  El is the name of God and that was always tagged on the end of every name.
 
They believed that there were 200 angels who controlled the movements of the stars and kept things on course. And they believed that there was one super special angel who controlled the never-ending succession of days, months, and years. He was the calendar angel.
 
They believed that there was a mighty angel who took care of the seas. They believed there were angels of frost, dew, rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning. There were also angels who were the wardens of Hell and the torturers of the damned.
 
They believed there were recording angels who wrote down every single word which every man spoke. They also believe that there was an angel of death. They believe that every nation had a guardian angel as well as every child. And there were so many angels that one rabbi said and I quote, "Every blade of grass has its angel." So obviously they believed in angels.
 
 
 
One other thing that needs to be emphasized:  The Jews also knew the Old Testament was brought to them from God by angels. 
 
Acts 7:51-52
 
Galatians 3:19
 
The Old Testament was brought to man and maintained by angelic mediation. The angels ministered between God and men to carry on the work of the old covenant. And the Jews knew this and consequently they had this high and lofty opinion of angels.
 
Some of them believed in angels to such a degree that they actually worshipped angels. This developed into a heresy known as Gnosticism. Gnosticism with many other things, involved the worship of angels and Gnosticism reduced Jesus Christ to an angel.
 
Paul addressed that in Colossians 2:18
 
Don't get trapped in worshipping angels. They had exalted angels to the place where there was the danger they would worship angels
 
So no wonder the writer of Hebrews begins here to convince his hearers that Jesus is superior to everything else because the thing closest to God in their theology was angels.  That is his focus in verses 4-14.
 
Now, I love the way the writer attacks his subject.  He is writing to Jews to convince them Jesus is superior to the angels.  How does it do it? 
 
He uses the Old Testament.  In these verses he proves the superiority of Christ over angels by using seven Old Testament passages to support this truth. 
 
Let me point out one other thing before we look at the seven.  If you go to the Old Testament and look up these references, you will discover they are not exact quotes.  There is a slight variation in them.
 
The reason is by the time the Epistle of Hebrews was written there existed a book called the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the Old Testament translated into Greek. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. But by the time of Christ there was such a large number of Greek speaking Jews that 70 men had gotten together and translated the Hebrew into Greek.
 
And evidently, the writer of Hebrews was a Greek-cultured individual, because when he quotes the Old Testament, he quotes it from the Septuagint.  And consequently it varies slightly from the Hebrew translation and those nuances are carried over into our English translation.
 
So that’s the reason you won’t find any exact match in the wording of the verses.  And by the way, that’s one of the arguments against Paul being the writer because generally speaking, when he quotes the Old Testament, being the Jew he was, he quotes from the Hebrew and not the Septuagint.
 
So whoever is writing uses the Old Testament to prove his point that Jesus is superior to the angels. 
 
Notice how he begins:  verse 4a
 
In other words, this Son of God through Whom God has spoken to us in these last days is so much better than the angels.  
 
In what ways was Jesus better than the angels?
 
There are five categories: 
 
First of all, He is greater because of
 
1. His Name
 
verses 4-5
 
To what angel did God ever say I will be a father to you and you will be a son to me?  The answer is to no angel did God ever say that.
 
The angels are ministers and messengers. Christ is the Son. The angels are servants; Christ is a Son. There's a great difference there. He has obtained a more excellent name than they.
 
Now in our culture we don't put a lot of stock in names. You name your kid anything you want. It doesn't make a lot of difference.  It is more personal preference. 
 
But very often in the word of God, God has chosen specific names that have to do with character or have to do with some aspect of the individual's life.
 
And frequently the outward name spoke of an inward reality. And so Jesus Christ has been given a name. He has been given "a name that is above every name." It's a better name than angels.
Do you know what angel means? Angel means messenger or servant. Jesus' name is Son. There's a big difference between your son and your servant.
 
And in order to illustrate that, he quotes two Old Testament passages. "
 
The first one is Psalm 2:7 and the second is 2 Samuel 7:14.
 
That’s exactly what God said to David.  Through David would come an eternal King, and heir to the throne of David, and God said, "I will be to Him a Father and He will be a Son."
 
And that never happened to an angel.  To no angel has He ever said "this day have I begotten thee."
 
Now no doubt, angels are amazing, excellent creatures. In fact, of all creation, they are the most excellent.  But if Christ has a more excellent name than the most excellent, He must have the most excellent name.
 
And so says the writer of Hebrews to the Jews from their own Old Testament says, “Jesus Christ is greater than angels because He has a better name.”
 
Secondly, He is greater because of
 
2. His Worship
 
And we’ll look at that next time. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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