Now the question of how Jesus compares to angels isn’t exactly on the front-burner of most modern evangelical minds (angel-oblivious people that we are). But for first-century Jews, there would’ve been few better ways to demonstrate Jesus’s divine nature than to prove that he is greater than the angels.
When it comes to biblical texts that teach Christ’s deity, we probably think of passages like John 1 (“The Word was God,” John 1:1), or 2 Peter 1 (“our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. 1:1). But there’s another text that arguably teaches Christ’s deity more relentlessly than either of these, and that’s Hebrews 1.
Hebrews 1 is a majestic meditation on how Christ is better than angels. Now the question of how Jesus compares to angels isn’t exactly on the front-burner of most modern evangelical minds (angel-oblivious people that we are). But for first-century Jews, there would’ve been few better ways to demonstrate Jesus’s divine nature than to prove that he is greater than the angels.
But before we count the ways in which Hebrews 1 teaches the Godhood of Jesus, let me share with you a useful teaching tool that can help us appreciate this amazing chapter.
H.A.N.D.S. of Jesus
In their excellent book Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, Robert Bowman and Ed Komoszewski creatively spell out five different ways the Bible bears witness to Jesus’s divinity using the acronym H.A.N.D.S.
H – Jesus shares the Honors of God
A – Jesus shares the Attributes of God
N – Jesus shares the Names of God
D – Jesus shares the Deeds of God
S – Jesus shares the Seat of God’s eternal throne
Believe it or not, Hebrews 1 contains examples of all five. So let’s take them in mnemonic order.
1. Honors: Whom Do the Angels Worship?
We see this most clearly in Hebrews 1:6, which reads, “And when he [God] brings the firstborn into the world, he says ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”
If there’s one thing that’s clear in Scripture, it’s that God alone ought to be worshiped. When Satan tried to bribe Jesus into worshiping him, Jesus responded, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matt. 4:10). Worship is an honor reserved for God. End of discussion.
And yet worship is also an honor that Jesus receives from all rational creatures: human beings (Matt. 14:33), fallen angels (Phil. 2:10), and holy angels (Rev. 5:8–14). According to Hebrews 1:6, the God who commands people to worship him alone also commands the angels to worship Jesus.
Angels aren’t exactly known for being casual about worship. Twice in the book of Revelation, an angel rebukes the apostle John for trying to worship him (Rev. 19:10; 22:8–9). This should remind us how glorious and mighty angels really are. If we were to actually see one, we’d probably be like John—our first instinct would be to fall down and worship him.
But we’d be rebuked. Angels tell men to “worship God” (Rev. 19:10; 22:9), but God tells angels to worship the Son. That should tell us something about who Jesus is. When angels worship Jesus, he doesn’t tell them to get up.
2. Attributes: Who Is the Unchanging, Eternal Image of God?
God’s attributes are those perfections that Scripture ascribes to him that make him who he is. Some attributes he shares with us, but others belong to him alone. For example, God alone is eternal and unchanging and all-powerful and all-knowing.