Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Superiority of Christ to His Angels

The superiority of Christ to His heavenly & earthly servants.

Hebrews 1:1-14:

  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 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? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 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. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 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. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

A couple of weeks ago, I was a part of an evangelistic Bible study where one of the participants whether out of ignorance, or out of emotional zeal, made a statement that Christ is the highest archangel. I and other leaders in the study were swift to correct the error of this thinking. I turned to this passage in the epistle to the Hebrews as a basis to refute the heretical teaching that Christ is merely an angel.

Hebrews 1:1-2

God at certain times and in different ways communicated to His covenant people through the prophets, but now we in the dispensation of grace have received a fuller revelation through His Son, Jesus Christ the appointed heir of all things. The rule of progressive revelation shows that while the revelation saints of this dispensation is not greater than that of the revelation received by Abraham, Moses, and David, it is a fuller revelation. In the Old Testament, it was not the spirit of man, but the Spirit of Christ that testified of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow (1 Peter 1:10-12). But the prophets of whom the Spirit of Christ testified of these things in were not able to understand of all that they spoke of. The Son of God has spoken to us the fulfillment of the things the prophets spoke of and could not comprehend. As creator of both the superior and inferior worlds (Col. 1:16), the Son of God is heir of all things by right of creation. To this end, our Lord and Savior is greater than the prophets which did speak of Him. These verses also refute all notions that any false prophet (e.g. Muhammad, Joseph Smith, etc.) could be greater than Christ, or preach a greater gospel than Christ.

Hebrews 1:3-4

Matthew Henry writes: "The third verse here is a high description of the glorious Redeemer, an account of His personal excellency. The person of the Son is the glory of the Father, shining forth with a truly divine splendour. As the beams are effulgent emanations of the sun, the father and fountain of light, Jesus Christ in His person is God manifest in the flesh. He is light of light the true Shekinah."1 All things-- material and immaterial-- are held up by the word of His power, that is the power of Christ's word. What we know (or think we know) about the laws of physics would be changed drastically if we were to consider the truth of the power behind Christ's word. Having cleansed us of our sins, all by Himself, with no assistance from any man or angel, sat down at the right hand of God. As Son of God, Christ is eternally superior to all created angels and thus has always been "better" than the angels. As Son of Man, Christ received a more excellent name as a consequence of His humiliation, sufferings, and meritorious death. The author seems to implicate both aspects of the Sonship of Christ as to how He has received a superior name than the angels. Notice the construction of the third verse: it starts with a grand description of the glory of His deity and ends with the fact of His vicarious death and subsequent sitting down at the right hand of God. As Son of God, Jesus Christ is the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person. As Son of Man, Christ is our representative, bearing our sins in His body. As Son of God, the name belongs to Christ naturally and essentially; it is His divine inheritance. As Son of Man, He was made in our likeness and was obedient to the death of the cross for which cause God exalted Him and gave Him a new name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9-11).

Sources: 1. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible