Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Greatness of the Son (Hebrews 1:1-9)

"So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs" (Hebrews 1:4).

The author of Hebrews is concerned to establish the full authority of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ, especially the new covenant. He has pointed out that Jesus is the very Son of God, and the perfect embodiment of God’s revelation. Now he begins to argue that point from the Old Testament.

Angels mediated between God and man before Christ, especially the Angel of the LORD, who was a preincarnate manifestation of the Son of God. Angels were present at Mount Sinai and frequently brought God’s Word to man (Hebrews 2:2). Although man was created as God’s image, and thus higher than the angels, his fall took him to a lower place. The author of Hebrews needs to establish that the Son is higher than the angels, and that the words spoken by the Son supersede (without contradicting) the words spoken by the angels at Mount Sinai.

He does this by saying that the Son has a more excellent name than the angels, the name Son. Now, in the Old Testament angels are called sons of God, as in Job 1 and 2. Never, however, is any angel called the Son of God. It is clear that angels (and also men) are sons of God in a created sense, but only the second person of the Trinity is the Son of God in an eternal sense.

The author quotes from Psalm 2, where God says to the messianic King, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You” (Psalm 2:7). This might be said of David or Solomon, but never in a full sense. The Jews knew from reading the Psalms that there was a King spoken of there who had absolute power and before whom all nations would bow permanently. They knew that David’s kingship was only a foreshadowing of this greater kingship. Thus, they knew that the person addressed in Psalm 2:7 was not David and was not an angel. The author of Hebrews argues that it is the Messiah.

Similarly, in 2 Samuel 7:14 God told David that He would be Father to David’s greater son to come. This can refer only partially to Solomon since Solomon was a sinner. No, the full reference has to be to a non-angel who is to come, and who is the Son of God in the fullest sense.

A favorite method of reasoning used by the writer of Hebrews is to argue “from the lesser to the greater.” Verse 4 is an example. If angels are great (and these believers knew they are), how much greater is Christ Jesus. Reflect on the surpassing greatness of His name, work, and power.