Our Incomparable Savior

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father,
    and he shall be to me a son”?

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,
    and his ministers a flame of fire.” – Hebrews 1:5-7 ESV

For the author of Hebrews, it seemed important to establish Christ’s uniqueness and complete sufficiency. Writing to a Jewish audience, he wanted to ensure that they understood that Jesus was much more than just a man, so he presented seven facts concerning Jesus. 1) He was appointed the heir of all things by God. All that belongs to God, which includes everything, belongs to Jesus as His Son. 2) He created the universe. All that exists in time and space was made possible by Jesus as the second person of the Trinity. Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. – Colossians 1:15-17 ESV

Jesus wasn’t created by God. He is the God who created all things. 3) He is the radiance of the glory of God. In His incarnation, Jesus made God visible to man. During His incarnation, He shone forth the glory of God; but in a veiled sense. Yet His words and works revealed the power and majesty of God to man. 4) He is the exact imprint of God’s nature. In seeing Jesus, men were able to see the nature of God revealed. He made God’s goodness, wisdom, glory, and righteousness visible to men. 5) He upholds the universe by the word of His power. His very word sustains and maintains the universe. His word has power beyond that of any other source. 6) He made purification for sins. By sacrificing His own life, Jesus made it possible for mankind to experience both the cleansing from and removal of sin and its deadly consequences. 7) He sat down at the right hand of God. Having faithfully and obediently completed His God-appointed task, Jesus ascended back to heaven and retained His rightful place next to God the Father, where He rules and reigns at this very moment.

All of this puts Jesus on a different plane than anyone and everything else. There is nothing that can compare with Him, including angels. These heavenly beings, who played a vital role in the history and religious understanding of the Jews, were not to be compared with Jesus.

In Judaism, angels were viewed as divine messengers from God. In fact, the Jews closely associated angels with the giving of the Law of Moses. We read in Deuteronomy 33:

The Lord came from Sinai and revealed himself to Israel from Seir. He appeared in splendor from Mount Paran, and came forth with ten thousand holy ones. With his right hand he gave a fiery law to them. – Deuteronomy 33:2 NET

Paul tells us that the law “was administered through angels by an intermediary” (Galatians 3:19 NET). So angels were venerated by the Jews, and it would seem that there were some in the early days of the church who took the veneration of angels and turned it into worship. Paul warned about it in his letter to the church in Colossae:

Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. – Colossians 2:18-19 NLT

The author of Hebrews wants us to understand that angels, while superior beings in many ways are not to be compared with Jesus. And to support his point, he provides four Old Testament passages as evidence. Quoting from Psalm 2:7, he asks if God had ever said to any angel, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you?” And the answer is no. The Jews in his audience would have understood this Davidic psalm as speaking of the Messiah. And while angels were often referred to in the Old Testament Scriptures as “sons of God,” no angel was ever called “the Son of God.”

Quoting from 2 Samuel 7:14, the author asks whether God ever said of any angel, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (Hebrews 1:5 ESV). Again, the Jews would have recognized this as a promise of God given to David the king. It was a Messianic passage, partially fulfilled in the life of Solomon, David’s son, but ultimately fulfilled in Christ, “who was descended from David – according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3 ESV). Using Deuteronomy 32:14 as his reference, the author reminds his readers that God said even the angels would one day worship Jesus.

Finally, using Psalm 104:4, the author presents angels as nothing more than divine messengers. The psalmist compares them to wind, invisible and at the mercy of a far greater power. There were created by God and were designed for His glory, not their own. Like flames of fire, they sometimes brought illumination and, at other times, judgment. But they were never meant to be worshiped.

In the book of Revelation, John was visited by an angel and given words from God that he was to write down. John’s response was to fall down and worship the angel, but he was told, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God” (Revelation 19:10 ESV). And then the angel gave John an important point of clarification: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10 ESV). All that John was being shown in his vision concerning the end times revolved around the person of Christ. In fact, in the very next verses of John’s revelation, we read:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. – Revelation 19:11-16 ESV

Jesus is superior to angels. He alone is to be worshiped and revered. It is He who sits at the right hand of God and who will one day return as the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is nothing and no one to compare with Jesus. He alone is worthy of our praise, worship, glory, honor, and love.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.