Hebrews 1:4-14

In this section the writer of Hebrews makes the case that Christ is superior to the angels.  This was an important distinction for those early Jewish Christians who were being tempted to return to the old Jewish sacrificial system which placed great emphasis on angels.  Essentially, the author makes five arguments regarding the superiority of Christ over angels:

1.      Christ is “the Son” of God while angels are sometimes merely referred to as “sons” of God

2.      Angels are commanded to worship the Son

3.      Angels are servants; Christ is sovereign

4.      Angels are creatures; Christ is creator

5.      Angels are ministers; Christ is mediator

In the following material all the text in italics is a direct quote from The Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Wiersbe.

Angels were most important in the Jewish religion, primarily because thousands of angels assisted in the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. This fact is stated in Deuteronomy 33:2 (where “saints” in kjv means “holy ones” or “angels”); Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53; and Galatians 3:19. Since the theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ and His salvation to the Law of Moses, the writer would have to deal with the important subject of angels.

This long section on angels is divided into three sections. First, there is an affirmation (Heb. 1:4–14) of the superiority of Christ to the angels. The proof presented consists of seven quotations from the Old Testament. Second, there is an exhortation (Heb. 2:1–4) that the readers (and this includes us) pay earnest heed to the Word God has given through His Son. Finally, there is an explanation (Heb. 2:5–18) as to how Christ, with a human body, could still be superior to angels who are spirits.

Affirmation: Christ Is Superior to the Angels (Heb. 1:4–14)

This section is comprised of seven quotations from the Old Testament, all of which prove the superiority of Christ to the angels. Scholars tell us that the writer quoted from the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament, known as the Septuagint. (The word Septuagint is a Greek word that means “seventy.” Tradition claims that seventy men translated the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek. The abbreviation for Septuagint is LXX, Roman numerals for seventy.) However, the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures has the right to quote and restate the truth as He sees fit.

Let us note the affirmations that are made about our Lord Jesus Christ, and the quotations that are cited to support them.


He is the Son (vv. 4–5)

The “more excellent name” that Jesus possesses is “Son.” While the angels collectively may be termed “the sons of God” (Job 1:6), no angel would be given this title individually. It belongs uniquely to our Lord Jesus Christ. The first quotation is from Psalm 2:7: “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” Paul pinpointed the time of this “begetting”: the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:33). From eternity, Jesus Christ was God the Son. He humbled Himself and became Man (see Phil. 2:5–6). In His resurrection, however, He glorified that humanity received from the Father and received back the eternal glory He had veiled (John 17:1, 5). The Resurrection declares: “Jesus is God’s Son!” (Rom. 1:4)

“you are my son” This is the first in a series of seven OT passages quoted from the Septuagint to prove the superiority of the Messiah over the angels. The first phrase comes from Ps. 2:7, while the second is from 2 Sam. 7:14. This first phrase is used several times in the Gospels to refer to Christ:

1.   at His baptism (cf. Matt. 3:17; Lk, 3:22)

2.   at the Transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7)

3.   at the Resurrection (cf. Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4)[1]


“today I have begotten thee” - Jesus has always been deity (cf. John 1:1–18). Therefore, this cannot refer to the essence of His nature, but to His manifestation in time (the incarnation). Some commentators relate it to the resurrection (cf. Rom. 1:3–4). [2]


The second quotation is from 2 Samuel 7:14. The immediate application in David’s experience was to his son, Solomon, whom God would love and discipline as a son (see Ps. 89:27). But the ultimate application is to Jesus Christ, the “greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42).


He is the Firstborn who receives worship (v. 6)

The term “firstborn” in the Bible does not always mean “born first.” God made Solomon the firstborn (Ps. 89:27) even though Solomon is listed tenth in the official genealogy (1 Chron. 3:1–5). The title is one of rank and honor, for the firstborn receives the inheritance and the special blessing. Christ is the “Firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15, nasb) because He created all things; and He is the highest of all who came back from the dead (Col. 1:18). When He came into the world, the angels worshiped Him (quoted from Deut. 32:43 in the LXX: “Heavens, rejoice with Him, let the sons of God pay Him homage!”). God commanded them to do so, which proves that Jesus Christ is God; for none of God’s angels would worship a mere creature.


“into the world” This implies the pre-existent Jesus, who has always been deity, but a new stage of His redemptive ministry began at Bethlehem when He took on human flesh (cf. Phil. 2:6–8a). [3]

He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship him’ ” This is a quote from the Septuagint of either Deut. 32:43 or Ps. 97:7. The Hebrew word for “angels” used in Ps. 97:7 is Elohim. From Cave #4 of the Dead Sea Scrolls we have a corroboration of this Septuagint translation. The term Elohim can refer to God, angelic beings, human judges (cf. Exod. 21:6; 22:8–9), or even the human spirit (cf. 1 Sam. 28:13).[4]


He is served by the angels (v. 7)

This is a quotation from Psalm 104:4. The Hebrew and Greek words for “spirit” are also translated “wind.” Angels are created spirits; they have no bodies, though they can assume human forms when ministering on earth. Angels sometimes served our Lord when He was on earth (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43), and they serve Him and us now.



He is God enthroned and anointed (vv. 8–9)

In some false cults this quotation from Psalm 45:6–7 is translated, “Thy divine throne,” because cultists dislike this strong affirmation that Jesus Christ is God. But the translation must stand: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Angels minister before the throne; they do not sit on the throne. One of the main teachings of Psalm 110 is that Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed (Messiah, Christ), is now enthroned in glory. Jesus Himself referred to this important psalm (Mark 12:35–37; 14:62), and Peter used it on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:34–36). Our Lord has not yet entered into His earthly kingdom, but He has been enthroned in glory (Eph. 1:20).


Thy throne, O God, is forever” This is a quote from the Septuagint of Ps. 45:6, which addresses the Messianic King. In the OT context the PRONOUN is very ambiguous and can refer to God the Father or God the Son. However, in this text it seems that this is one of the strongest affirmations of the deity of Christ found anywhere in the Scriptures (cf. John 1:18; 20:28).[5]


When Christ ascended and entered the heavenly glory, He was anointed for His heavenly ministry with “the oil of gladness” (Heb. 1:9). This probably refers to Psalm 16:11, which Peter referred to at Pentecost: “Thou shalt make Me full of joy with Thy countenance” (Acts 2:28). What a joyful scene that must have been! Psalm 45 is a wedding psalm, and our Lord today is the heavenly Bridegroom who experiences “the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). Angels praise Him, but they cannot share that position or that joy. Our Lord’s throne is forever, which means He is eternal God.


He is the eternal Creator (vv. 10–12)

This long quotation comes from Psalm 102:25–27. The angels did not found the earth, for they too are a part of creation. Jesus Christ is the Creator, and one day He will do away with the old creation and bring in a new creation. Everything around us changes, but He will never change. He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Creation is like an old garment which will one day be discarded in favor of a new one.


Christ is the Sovereign; angels are the servants (vv. 13–14)

Again, the writer quotes Psalm 110:1. The fact that Jesus Christ is now at the Father’s right hand (the place of honor) is mentioned many times in the New Testament (see Matt. 22:43–44; 26:64; Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33–34; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). Angels are the ministering spirits who serve the Lord seated on the throne. But they also minister to us who are the “heirs of salvation” through faith in Christ. The angels today are serving us!

It would be impossible to do away with the evidence presented in these quotations. Jesus Christ is greater than the angels, and this means He is also greater than the Law which they helped deliver to the people of lsrael.[6]


[1] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (12). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[2] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (12). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[3] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (14). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[4] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (14). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[5] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (14). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Heb 1:4–14). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.