The Angels Captive to Christ- Hebrews 1:5–14.

September 24, 2018

If you think the Old Testament does not serve a purpose for the Christian, you should probably stop reading the New Testament. Nearly every verse in this section refers to the Old Testament. Psalms 2, 45, 97, 102, 104, and 110 receive mention here; the author also uses 2 Samuel 7:14 to make his point. 


What point does he make?


Jesus occupies a superior place to angels. 


He contrasts the ways Scripture speaks of the Son of God against the way it speaks of angelic beings. In verse 5, the author indicates God has not placed these supernatural creatures on a plane with himself. He never claimed them as sons. Rather, they received the command to worship the Son ( v. 6), the firstborn, and they do his bidding (v. 7). Again, in contrast to these subservient angels, the Son has power over the kingdom of God, even calling him “God.” Further, he possesses eternity, and acted as Creator, though creation itself passes away, he shall not. He does not change nor finds himself subject to decay or degradation. Furthermore, while the Son sits at the righthand of the Father, the angels do not. They serve God, and verse 14 declares they serve his people.


Does the author just have an ax to grind? Has he just completed theology class or finished reading a book and needs to share all his newly gotten knowledge with his readers? 


These do not constitute his concern.


No, as a readers and believers of the Old Testament, the author understands angels as beings authorized by God to deliver messages and accomplish the purposes of God (angel means “messenger”). Some of the most memorable interactions with angels in the Old Testament occur in 1 Chronicles 21, in which King David sees an angel (referred to as the “angel of the LORD” standing over Jerusalem with his sword drawn.[1] The encounter leaves David, slayer of Goliath and many others, terrified. Later, the prophets Daniel and Zechariah (the Old Testament book which features the word “angel” more than any other) encounter angels in visions, and Daniel’s deliverance from the lions comes at the hands of an angel sent to shut the beasts’ mouths.



If angels serve at the behest of God, and Jesus, object of the Christian faith, commands these angels, then who exactly is Jesus?


We see one of the writer’s lines of thought taking shape: the God worshiped in the old covenant, by the patriarchs and prophets and people of Israel, revealed himself in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Returning to the old covenant means one loses the old covenant God. Jesus reveals the God who spoke face to face with Moses and spoke from the mercy seat (above the cherubim!). To think of the Son as lesser than God’s own servants would mean one has not understood Jesus on his own terms. 


Type the word “angel” into the search bar on YouTube and find two main sorts of results. First, one finds many musical recordings in which a singer relates a love interest to an angel. The second sort of video compiles spurious live footage or records testimonies of people having angelic encounters. One video, featuring some of the worst special effects seen outside of a 1980s made-for-TV movie has over 26 million views. To put that in perspective, the trailer for the upcoming Marvel movie has 31 million views at the time of this writing (three days after its release). The Captain Marvel trailer will have more view, and it will gain them more rapidly, but 26 million views on one low quality video tells us something. People find the supernatural captivating. We must understand the supernatural remains captive to Christ.


Our author serves us well. Jesus reigns over angels, and in one of the more extended sections of Scripture which concerns these beings, they do not take pride of place. Angels, supposed “holy” people, rites and ceremonies, and miracles never make up the point of Scripture. Jesus is the point; Christ stays the focus. 


Of what importance is our understanding of Christ? He has such importance that terrifying heavenly beings serve at his pleasure and command. 


We must know him and understand what Scripture reveals about him.


[1]Though the phrase “angel of the LORD” seems to refer to the second person of the Trinity, the Son, at times, the instance in 1 Chronicles seems to be a different angel as God speaks to this angel in 1 Chronicles 21:27. 

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