How to Study Important Words and Relationships from Hebrews 1:5 – 2:18

Key Words from Hebrews 1:5 – 2:18

Words (incl. verse #) Type Ask Questions Answer Questions Apply Answers
angel (1:5) Repeated word Why were angels so important as to warrant an extensive contrasting to Jesus? One who is sent to tell or bring a message (Fri.), BDAG – a messenger. Not human, a spirit being that works and carries out missions on the behalf of God (BDAG), as opposed to a demon/evil spirit whose intent is to tell lies and cause harm. They are capable of “close communion with God” and act as a link between God and men(Fausset). They are often the means by which God brings help or hurt to the world (Egypt and the plagues, the pool at Bethesda), ibid. Angels, while more powerful and with more direct access to God as far as they acted as messengers of his message and power, are merely created beings that are finite in their power. Perhaps Judaism had begun to expect from angels what only Jesus could do (hence the pointed comparison in what angels could and could not do, or what they were and were not e.g. not sons, not ultimate rulers etc.). Or maybe Jews had at best, instead of outright rejecting him, started to liken him to a mere angel, therefore diminishing him. Whatever the case, the author makes a strong case for why Jesus was not an angel but far more than an angel.
ministering spirits (1:14) unusual What ministry did angels have? For starters, they were there to communicate God’s word to his people as in Gen 18 to Abraham, and to execute God’s judgment as in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (again Gen 18). They are also a source of blessing and comfort as in John 5 with the angel at the pool at Bethesda and with Jesus at the end of his fasting and trial in Luke 4. Angels are a means by which God frequently communicated and executed his will to his people and all of creation. But they are servants and not the originators of their own autonomous will. They are sent to minister by God and to minister to God’s people. It is perhaps a good question to muse – who is greater, the one who serves or the one who is served (bearing in mind the account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet).
Son…begotten (1:5) Unusual, difficult What does it mean that Jesus is begotten? The greek is gennao and it is used in the sense of “coming forth from” and not as of being born in the way natural birth occurs (Thayer). It is presenting Jesus to the world, “formally to show him to be the Messiah” (ibid). It is not as though Jesus was never Messiah or the Son and then became one, but rather it is a part of his nature that was previously not fully revealed but is now made manifest. Even though angels have this unique access and relationship to God with respect to men, they do not quite have the same relationship as Jesus does. He is “from” God, possessing the very nature and quality of God and is therefore God (Heb 1:3). As such he has unparalleled access to God and is not only the ultimate messenger but the originator of his message as well. Therefore he has greater power to fulfill the message he brings than did the angels.
subjection/subjected (2:5) unusual, repeated How is the world subjected to Jesus in a way that it is not to angels? The promise to put all things under the Son’s rule (Phil 2:9) was not given to angels but to Jesus. Jesus ascended the throne of heaven and earth not through tyranny as many of us are prone to doing, but through sacrifice and competence for he was the very best and only one who could do what was necessary to bring salvation to the world. Animal sacrifices could not, angels brought an insufficient message that was only a shadow of the true one to come and man was powerless to save himself for he was dead in his sins.
Propitiation (2:17) Difficult Why was it necessary for Jesus to atone for the sins of men? Propitiation means atonement. The Greek word ilaskomai only occurs in the passage in the LXX and GNT. It means to “bring about forgiveness for” (UBS) causing the other to be forgiven and dealt mercifully with when the demand of justice is placated or appeased (Thayer). At the core of Jesus mission was the salvation of fallen man. The message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins that John the Baptist preached was not sufficient, it needed one who was powerful enough to both speak and fulfill the message. Therefore, angels, through the message they brought, could only point to Christ for theirs was only a shadow of the fullness to come. While judgment and punishment was at the core of the message brought to by angels, such that those who heard it begged it be spoken no more to them (Heb 12:19) mercy and grace is the centre of his for he has come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), not to condemn the world but to save us through himself (John 3:!7). That is how he helps his brothers (those who believe in his name and do as he calls them to).

Key Relationships from Hebrews 1:5 – 2:18

Relationship (incl. verse #) Type Meaning
For (1:5) Logical The writer continues his argument from verses 1:1-4 and begins a comparison of angels vs. Jesus.
But (1:8) Contrast The writer contrasts the honor and prestige given to Jesus to that given to angels. Jesus is given much greater honor than they are. They are only servants (ministering spirits) but he is the Son of God. He is the firstborn whom even angels must worship. He created everything that is seen (1:10) and lives on eternally while everything else will perish (1:11).
And (1:13) Logical The writer continues his argument that Jesus is greater in power and has total victory than even the angels (in Daniel, we see the finitude of angels when they are held up by Satan and require “Michael” to help)
Therefore (2:1) Logical Given that Jesus is so much better than angels in his nature, his power and his authority, his message should be taken even more seriously than that delivered by the angels.

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