Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a more excellent name

...having become as much better than the angels, He has inherited a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4)

Before we attend to the final propositions concerning Christ in Hebrews 1:1-4, let us briefly recall what the author has mentioned until this point. By doing so, and by considering all these attributes together, we can see how the author develops a beautiful Christology that is wholly consistent with the Person of Jesus, the Son of God, who "has inherited a more excellent name than [the angels]" (Hebrews 1:4).
First, we encounter the reality of God who initiates a relationship with humankind by an act of divine communication, and we see this in two parts:

God has spoken through the prophets, and
God, in these last days, has spoken through His Son, Jesus

Given the authority of God's speech, and the finality of God's self-revelation through Christ, we are invited and encouraged to consider the Person and work of the eternal Son. And, though we are only beginning to touch, as it were, the hem of His garment, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews introduces the reader to a series of propositions in regard to Christ. Namely,

1. Jesus has been appointed heir over all things,
2. Jesus is He through whom God made the world,
3. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory
and the exact representation of God's nature,
4. Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power,
5. Jesus has made purification of sins, and
6. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high

Finally, and keeping all these in mind, we see yet another attribute of Jesus:

7. Jesus is better than the angels
and has inherited a more excellent name than they

Of this final aspect of Jesus's Person and work, the author will have much to say; indeed, the subsequent portion of Hebrews 1 as well as the entirety of chapter 2 detail the supremacy of Christ over the angels both as the Son of God and the Son of Man. By now, this should be no surprise to us. As mentioned above, Jesus, unlike any of the angels, is Himself divine, as evidenced by His role as Creator and Sustainer, and by His being the exact nature of God. Furthermore, Jesus, unlike any of the angels, is heir over all things, is the only begotten Son of God, is the Savior of humankind, and the Eternal High Priest.
For these reasons it is entirely clear that Jesus is "better than the angels" (1:4). And, because in His Person we see the perfect union of deity and humanity, we can believe with assurance of the exalted Jesus that He has "become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they" (1:4). Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, is able to complete for humankind on behalf of humankind the perfection that we are unable to realize, but so desperately need and desire. Being fully God, He is by nature better than the angels; being fully human, yet perfect in every way, He has become better than the angels.
For us, the humanity of Christ gives immediacy and tangibility to the glorious and unending love of God. In what greater way could an infinite and holy God express the love that He is and holds toward us than by humbly condescending to our lowly state in order to offer us the highest gift, the gift of Himself? God the Son reaches out to us, becoming one of us, so that He might offer Himself as our help, our propitiation, our life, our entrance into the presence of God, our salvation (see 2:14-18; 4:14-16). Therefore, the name of Jesus, the Son of God, is in every way better than that of the angels. And we "who believe in the name of the Son of God," have confidence and "know that [we] have eternal life" in Him (1 John 5:13).


  1. Amen!!! I like to think about how whenever people saw angels they fell down afraid or worshiped them in confusion because they were so glorious. And yet, we have access to one even greater then the angels, even more powerful and beautiful-Jesus Christ. Sometimes I think I don't really know the magnificence of the One I pray to and that maybe when I see Him face to face I will be amazed at how nonchalant I was on the presence of ultimate splender and glory. Makes me want to pray more!!!