Jesus is Superior to the Angels (Hebrews 1:4-14)

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God is speaking; are we listening? God has spoken through His prophets and now He is speaking through His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. Last week we learned that Jesus is greater than the prophets and now we will learn that Jesus is greater than the angels. Hebrews 1:4 says of Jesus, “So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.” In this sermon, we shall briefly discuss angels and the seven reasons why Jesus is superior to them.

What about the Angels?

Who and/or what are angels? We call them angels because in the original language of the New Testament (Greek) they are called angelos which means “messenger”. Hebrews 1:14 gives us a clear description of the work of angels. They are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” Wayne Grudem–in his Systematic Theology–wrote, “Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies.” The Bible mentions two groups of angels: Cherubim (Gen 3:24, Ps 18:10, Ezek 10) and Seraphim (Is 6:2-7). There is some debate as to whether or not the “Living Creatures” mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelation are Cherubim or a different group. I am inclined to believe the living creatures are Cherubim because they both have wings, faces, and worship God before His throne, but this is up for debate.

Cherubim is the plural form of Cherub. Despite what you may have seen in pictures and art, Cherubim are not cute, chubby babies, but mighty, winged angels who guarded the Garden of Eden and who serve and praise God. Sculptures of Cherubim adorned the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. The other group consists of the Seraphim. Seraphim is the plural form of seraph which means “fiery”. They have six wings and stand before God’s throne worshipping Him forever. They are only mentioned in Isaiah 6. The Bible mentions two angels by name: Michael (also called an Archangel) and Gabriel. Angels were created before human beings. Angels had the free will choice to serve God or rebel against Him. Tragically, one angel named Satan (Accuser) led a rebellion against God and took with him a third of the angels with him. These fallen angels are called demons. The other two thirds of angels serve God.

Jesus is Better Than the Angels!

In Hebrews 1, the writer of Hebrews uses seven Old Testament references to make the point that Jesus is superior to the angels. In this sermon, we shall consider the seven reasons given.

First Reason: Jesus is God’s Son (5)

The first reference is from Psalm 2:7, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm. It was composed to remind Israel that God is in control of the world. The Lord is not fearful but laughs at wicked rulers when they rage against Him. The wicked rage against “the Lord and against His Anointed (i.e., Messiah)” (Ps 2:2). The Lord decreed (identified) that His Anointed One (the Messiah) is “My King” (Ps 2:6) and “My Son” (Ps 2:7). The familial language of Father and Son becomes more understandable in the New Testament when Jesus is born. He is born of the virgin Mary, not of physical union but spiritual. Jesus is Emmanuel which means God with us. Being a Messianic Psalm, the complete fulfillment is found in Jesus Christ who is the Lord’s Anointed, the Lord’s King, and the Son of God. The point being, which of the angels have ever been described in this way?

Second Reason: Jesus is the Promised Son (5)

The second reference is from 2 Samuel 7:14, “I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me.” The context of 2 Samuel 7 is that when God had given King David rest from all his enemies, David wanted to build a house for the Lord. The Lord sent Nathan the Prophet to tell David, “the Lord will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, Who will come forth from you, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. I will be a father to Him and He will be a Son to Me…” In other words, the Lord said that the blessing He gave to Abraham is extended to David and will continue to his son Solomon. From Solomon, it will be followed through to the godly kings of Israel and later Judah with the complete fulfillment being with Jesus. Remember what the angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:32-33: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” No angels have ever been described in this way or received such a promise as this.

Third Reason: Jesus is the Worshipped Son (6)

The third reference is from Psalm 97:7: “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” It is important to pause and consider that if you turn in your Bibles to look at that verse, you would find it is slightly different, saying, “Worship Him, all you gods.” The writer of Hebrews is quoting from the Greek Septuagint and your translation is from the Hebrew version. They are slightly different yet very similar. The reason they are slightly different is that the Hebrew word used here can either mean God or gods depending on the context. If it is gods, it can either refer to angels or powerful human rulers and/or judges. In this context, the writer of Hebrews correctly interprets for us that it refers to angels. The reason for referencing this verse is to show that angels worship Jesus. Jesus is called the firstborn in this verse. As with begotten, we must not make the false assumption that Jesus was created by God. Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem as the firstborn of Mary, but Jesus is also the Son of God who has existed before the creation of the world (John 17:5). Firstborn, in this verse, refers to the right of inheritance. Remember, earlier Jesus was “appointed heir of all things” (Heb 1:2). Jesus is “Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8) who is worthy of our worship. Let us worship Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let us trust Him completely and keep ourselves from idolatry.

Fourth Reason: Angels are Servants of God (7,14)

Angels are ministering spirits and they serve Jesus. The fourth reference is from Psalm 104:4. Psalm 104 is a Psalm that reflects on God’s care over all His creation. In this Psalm, we are told that the Lord “makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers.” The writer of Hebrews correctly interprets this as the angels being commissioned by God as His servants and messengers. Hebrews 1:7 says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” Angels have splendor and honor, but their splendor pales in comparison to Jesus. Angels are servants of Jesus, the Son. In verse 14, we have a clear summary of the work of angels in that they are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” Therefore, by serving Jesus, angels also serve those who are being saved by Jesus.

Fifth Reason: Jesus is the Ruling Son (8-9)

The fifth reference is from Psalm 45:6-7: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.” Similar to what we learned in our second reason, Jesus is the promised Son of David who rules and reigns supreme. Psalm 45 is a psalm celebrating the wedding of the King. While this psalm was initially written for the marriage of the King, it is also a prophecy about Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:25-27), who praises Him for all eternity. Heb. 1:8–9 quotes these verses and exalts the King of kings: Jesus. The ESV Study Bible summarizes this well: “Only Jesus, as the Davidic Messiah (the anointed One), truly meets this description, since by reigning at God’s right hand (Heb. 1:3, 13) he possesses an eternal kingdom (forever and ever) and reigns in true righteousness (4:15; 7:26–28). The messianic Son is rightfully also called God, in this case by God the Father.”

In verse 6, we celebrate that His “throne is forever and ever.” His scepter (a special staff that symbolizes authority) signifies His righteousness. He is completely good. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. He is undefeated, unchallenged, and almighty. The Prophet Isaiah said of Him, “There will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore” (Is 9:7). 

Sixth Reason: Jesus is the Eternal Son (10-12)

The sixth reference is from Psalm 102:25-27: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.” This psalm is quoted because it speaks of the unchangeable, eternal Son of God. The Son of God has always existed and will always exist. His kingdom has no end because His life has no end. The Lord is eternal and His faithfulness will outlast the world. This is especially poignant because the context of Psalm 102 is a reflection on the difficulty of life and the importance of keeping an eternal perspective by keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Seventh Reason: Jesus is the Divine Son (13)

The seventh and final reference is from Psalm 110:1: “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” As glorious and splendid are the angels, “to which of the angels has God ever said something as wonderful as this? Psalm 110 is a Messianic Psalm that describes the scene in heaven when Jesus returned. Jesus was seated at the right hand of God the Father. What does it mean to sit at the right hand? Most people are right-handed and therefore have more strength with their right hand. In ancient times, the right hand of the king symbolized his power and authority. When a king wanted to grant authority and favor to someone, he would signify this by placing him at his right hand. Here are some other key verses on the subject: 

  • Ephesians 1:20-23 “He demonstrated this power in Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.”
  • Colossians 3:1 “​So if you have been raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
  • 1 Peter 3:22 “Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.”
  • Acts 2:32-33 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.

Being at the right hand of God the Father means that Jesus has been exalted and reigns supreme with all authority over heaven and earth. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”