Hebrews 1: Superior to Angels

As I think back to growing up in Canada, I can only remember one or two visits from the Queen of England, the figurehead of Canada, a part of the British Commonwealth.  Those were big occasions.  Life stopped and people fell over themselves to give her honor.  Much more frequent were visits from her family members.  Early on, before he fell out of popularity, Prince Charles would visit.  When he took a beautiful, charming bride named Diana, they visited several times, to huge crowds as well.  Last year, the Queen’s grandson William’s and his stunning bride Kate’s first official royal visit as a couple was to Canada.  This was a great honor and they were greeted with open arms and much love.

When British political leaders would visit Canada, though, I don’t remember much pomp and circumstance.  There is a British ambassador to Canada but nobody makes a big deal out of him.  Most Canadian don’t even know who he or she is.

If you are the king or queen, you are deserving of the highest honor.  If you are the child of the king, great honor is given as well.  Servants of the king just aren’t as highly esteemed.

It would seem odd to run off from a parade for William and Kate to a dinner for a British parliamentarian.  When you can get the grandson why settle for a subject?

The author of Hebrews would most certainly agree.  There was a strain of first century Judaism that emphasized angels, maybe even to the point of veneration.  It would appear the Hebrew Christians came from this background.  To them the author asked:

For to which angel did God ever say, “You are my son; today I became your father?”  Or, again, “I will be his father, and he will be my son?” (1:5)

But he did say this to Jesus, one who is superior to angels in every way.  So why trade Jesus for angels?

"Let all God's angels worship him." (1:6)

As we begin Hebrews, ask yourself what “lesser things” sometimes supplant Jesus as the Lord of our life?

Categories: Hebrews | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Hebrews 1: Superior to Angels

  1. I find it exciting and a little intimidating to read a letter like Hebrews. I feel like such a clear outsider in relation to most of its original recipients and context. Chapter one made that quite obvious right off the bat. While I felt right at home reading the strong, impassioned claims about the superiority of Christ in this chapter, I found the repetitive contrasts of Christ and the angels so completely foreign to my typical thoughts or considerations. Angel veneration just isn’t that big a temptation for me these days. What a great opportunity Hebrews will be to read the Bible with fresh eyes and renewed thoughtfulness.

    One potential “lesser thing” came to mind while considering Hebrews 1. Sometimes, do we elevate the Church itself to a place of importance that rivals Jesus in our own hearts? At the very least, I fear we sometimes blur the lines between Christ and his family of followers so much that we inadvertently come to view them as “same,” just two interchangeable names for the same entity. The Church is a good, important thing in the life of a believer, but there’s only one King Jesus.

    • I appreciate what you are saying about the Church and Jesus, whether that is the institution or the people. I can see that in my own life too. There is a fine line to walk to love the church but not worship it or to love the church and not accentuate her negatives. Much like the Hebrew Christians might have been feeling with angels and later the law and Jewish rituals, the Church is tangible and easy to wrap our arms around. We can turn Church things into a checklist and feel justified by what we have done. Yeah, that is a good equivalent. Thanks, Josh.

  2. Melanie Semore

    I think it’s easy to allow Good Works to supplant a relationship with Jesus. I can stay very busy teaching a class, taking food to the sick, sending cards, holding Bible studies, volunteering for various events, making brownies for a church event, stocking the church pantry. The problem comes when I let myself believe that my busyness, even with good and worthy activities, is the same as a relationship with Jesus.

  3. The chapter is totally contradicted with my believe. I think this letter over rule the doctrine of others chapter even it was canonical text. This is my first hypothesis of the chapter.

    The creation of universe.
    v2 and v10- How to relate between this two verse.
    v2 – whom he appointed heir of all things, and “through whom he made the universe”.
    v10 -O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

    My try to develop some understanding regarding this verse:
    1) Through son that make the universe, but God do the foundation of earth, and heaven. Is it Son become a project manager while God as worker.
    2) If they both are one entity, why need to make an exclusive separation between 2 words. God and Son.

    v6)”God brings his firstborn into the world”.
    Why word “firstborn” is being use. When I read this verse, it remind me of prophet Adam.
    A prophet that become a firstborn human and all creation bow (respect bow not worship) to him except Satan. (Our understanding)

    Reading the commentary, seem Christianity believe it was Jesus. But if it was Jesus; i have several issue.
    1) All people know that Jesus is born through Mother Mary. Even it was a miracle birth, but you can not run from Jesus is being birth at that time.
    2) He dies on the cross, and arise again.
    A total of 3 revival / being birth.

    but reading through the verse, if this is Jesus. Is it Christianity believe in reincarnation?

    • Yes, I suspect you will find Hebrews contradicts your beliefs considerably.

      v.2 & 10 — We have trinitarian language again and it is tripping you up. God, Father, Son, Jesus = all the same. To use your analogy, it would be best to say God the Father is the project manager (the one who has the idea, the power, and the oversight), and God the Son is the worker (the one whose creativity, wisdom, and logic brings everything to fruition).

      You are right to think of Adam, though the author is clearly talking about Jesus. In Romans we will see Paul talk about how Adam and Jesus are tightly connected. In this passage, the term “firstborn” seems to more so indicate Jesus’ preeminent, importance, and authority. Before there was any life, there was Jesus. Was Jesus actually birthed in some spiritual way before the creation of the world? Surely not. That doesn’t make sense. Who was the mother? If Jesus is really part of God, he has always existed. Yes, Jesus was born physically to Mary, but he existed spiritually long before that birth.

      No, traditional Christianity does not believe in reincarnation. Humans live this existence once, then they are resurrected for judgment and eternal life in Heaven or Hell. Very much what Muslims believe, I think.

      • The style of writing in Hebrew are not telling me that relation of Jesus and God is Trinity style of God. The style are more to god and demi-god relationship.

        The further I see, it is more related to Odin – Thor or Zeus – Hercules relation ship.

  4. “Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?”

    It is a sly question slipped in at the end of the chapter. It would appear these Jewish Christians are exalting angels to highly, as rivals to Jesus even. Then in one sentence the Hebrews writer reminds his recipients that angels don’t even have as much glory as humans do. Pretty good writing!

    Still, it is a stunning verse any time I read it. It is not how I think of humans or angels. I don’t exalt angels like the original recipients but I do tend to see them as more wonderful than I am! Yet, even this incredible heavenly creatures exist to help in the salvation of humanity. Wow!

  5. “He [Jesus] holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word” (1:3) I wonder if they thought of this is some sort of literal, scientific way. We might say God uses the forces of nature to hold life together. Is that all they are saying here too?

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