Who wrote Hebrews? Even the early leaders of the post-apostolic church didn’t know. There was a Christian leader named Origen who lived, roughly speaking, about 200 years after Christ. He said that only God knew who had written Hebrews. There were two main contenders in the thinking of these early churchmen—Paul and Barnabas. Most scholars today don’t think Paul was the author because the writing style is very different from the Pauline epistles; so that leaves Barnabas as a good possibility. But I like to think the writer might have been the New Testament character Apollos, who is mentioned ten times in the New Testament and was known for his eloquence and for his knowledge of the Old Testament. Whoever was the author, he seems to have been aware that among the Jews there was a sect that over-emphasized the subject of angels. A couple of years ago I wrote a book about angels and in it I told some stories of possible modern-day angel sightings. It’s a biblical subject, but we have to remain balanced. I’m amazed at how people can get off on tangents regarding angels and become fanatics. That’s not just a modern phenomenon. We know from the Dead Seas scrolls that there was a sect within Judaism that obsessed about angels; and it seems as though the writer of Hebrews wanted to warn his readers against reverting back to Judaism, especially a form of ancient Judaism that distorted the teachings of angels. So in Hebrews 1 and 2, the book begins with by stressing how Jesus Christ is greater than angels. Let’s continue from this morning’s sermon.
1. Jesus is Greater than Angels in Terms of Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-14) – Notice the quotations in Hebrews 1 from seven different Old Testament Scriptures:
- Psalm 2 (look up and read this Psalm to get an idea as to how the writer of Hebrews is viewing and using the Old Testament)
- 2 Samuel 7
- Deuteronomy 32 (LXX)
- Psalm 104
- Psalm 45
- Psalm 102
2. Jesus is Greater than Angels in Terms of Salvation (Hebrews 2:1-4) – Now at the beginning of chapter 2, the author gathers all this together to issue a warning. If the message of angels was so urgent, how much more urgent the message of salvation given by Jesus Christ! (Notice that verse 3 gives us a hint about the author’s identity. He was not one of the original apostles or hearers of Christ, but was converted by someone who was).
3. Jesus is Greater than Angels in Terms of Standing (Hebrews 2:5-9). Having told us that Jesus is God Himself, superior to the angels, the author now quotes from Psalm 8 and tells us during earthly life, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels in terms of standing. We get the idea here there’s an order to creation. At the top is God, followed by angels, followed by humans, followed presumably by animals and perhaps plants. There is stratification to life in terms of intelligence and authority.
When God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, there’s a sense in which He became a “little lower” than the angels.” But at His glorification when He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, He was crowned with glory and honor. But there is a reason for this remarkable truth—Jesus is greater than the angels in terms of service.
4. Jesus is Greater than Angels in Terms of Service (Hebrews 2:10-18) – Jesus became a man to die for our sins, something angels could never do. Verse 16 says: “For surely it is not angles He helps, but (us).”
Conclusion: As I studied this passage, two great hymns came to my mind. One is “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!” and the other is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” That’s the marvel of Jesus. He’s Lord of heaven and earth; and He’s a friend of mine and yours. That’s why we can persevere. That’s why we fix our thoughts on Him and never give up.