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The Enthroned Son – Hebrews 1:5-14

As I read through the remainder of Hebrews chapter one, it became clear that we need to talk about something that might be new to you. There was something the author addressed here that was vivid in the mind of Jewish readers but isn’t so clear to us two thousand years later. It doesn’t help that some English Bibles tend to obscure this matter with strange translation choices here and there. We need to discuss the issue of sons.

I’ve already mentioned that Jews held angels in reverence, and rightly so because of their activity in Israel’s history. However, the issue of reverence isn’t the only thing at work in the author’s decision to elevate the Son over the angels. If you’ve read the Old Testament, you may remember that there’s this entourage of heavenly beings called the bene elohim, or the sons of God. These sons of God are in mind here for the author of Hebrews because they would have been in mind to the Messianic Jews who initially heard this sermon or read it later as a letter. Who are the sons of God? They make their first appearance in Genesis 6:1-4.

1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
– Genesis 6:1-4 (ESV)

There’s much to be said here, but for our purposes today, I’m only wanting to highlight the identity of the sons of God. The sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6 are heavenly beings, not humans. Both Peter and Jude refer to them as such.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
– 2 Peter 2:4 (ESV)

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day
– Jude 1:6 (ESV)

Furthermore, the Old Testament consistently refers to the sons of God as heavenly beings.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
– Job 1:6 (ESV)

1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.
– Job 2:1 (ESV)

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
– Job 38:4-7 (ESV)

I could go on and on about this, but I believe this is sufficient for a definition. So, as best you can, put yourself in a first-century Messianic Jew mindset. You’ve been steeped in the Scriptures of the Old Testament your whole life, so you have this category in your thinking for the phrase sons of God. The sons of God are heavenly beings. In Job, the sons of God were assembled before the LORD to present themselves, seemingly to give an account of their activities. As we move through the remainder of Hebrews chapter one, we’ll get an idea of what these sons of God were and are doing. And we will also see that though there are many sons of God, there is only one Son of God who is enthroned above all other sons.

One more thing. The New Testament is noticeably absent of the phrase sons of God when speaking of the heavenly hosts. This is mostly to blame on Greek translators. The original documents of the Old Testament were in Hebrew and Aramaic. We have archaeological evidence of this from the Dead Sea Scrolls. But between the Testaments, as Greek influence increased among some Jewish communities in the Middle East, it came about that many Jews spoke Greek as a first language. Because of this, Greek-speaking Jews translated the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures into Greek. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures is called the Septuagint (LXX). When they translated bene elohim into Greek, they used angelos ho theos – angels of God. Here is Genesis 6:1-2 from an English translation of the LXX.

1 And it happened when humans began to become numerous upon the earth, and they had daughters, 2 the angels of God, having seen the daughters of humans, that they were beautiful, took for themselves women from all whom they picked out.
– Genesis 6:1-2 (LXX, Lexham, emphasis added)

Jesus and the Apostles would have likely been brought up with the Hebrew texts and the LXX. Since the New Testament was written entirely in Greek, with only a few exceptions, all references to heavenly beings used angels (angelos). So, fast forward to the present; within the church, the phrase sons of God has fallen almost entirely out of use to refer to the heavenly host. In this case, it literally is all Greek to us. But the OT – particularly English translations that lean more into the Dead Sea Scrolls for translating Hebrew – isn’t shy about using bene elohim – sons of God – to speak of heavenly beings. Hence, this is why the discussion about the Son being greater than the angels – the sons of God – is essential for the author of Hebrews. When He wrote of the Son, He must be distinguished from and elevated above all other sons of God.

I will put together a post that dives deeper into the sons of God if you’re interested. We’ll dip a little further into it here, but it’s a big topic unto itself, and I want to stay on task for our study.

You Are My Son

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
– Hebrews 1:5 (ESV)

The author used several passages from the Psalms, Deuteronomy, and 2 Samuel to make his point about the Son. In these citations, the author isn’t employing the traditional understanding of the passages. Instead, he’s claiming that those passages were additionally forward-looking to the Messiah. He repurposed them to apply to Jesus. This happens all the time with NT authors because they understood Jesus to be the ultimate fulfillment of Israel’s prophets, priests, and kings. He is our final Prophet, Priest, and King. We’ll get to the King aspect in a few verses, but for the moment, this is how the author can employ OT passages about (in this case) King David as an apologetic for Christ.

The OT verses quoted here are Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Both passages speak of King David. In fact, Psalm 2:7 refers to 2 Samuel 7:14, where it was a part of His covenant with David, and the LORD declared that He will take David as His son. Christ is a descendant of David, meaning He is an inheritor of the LORD’s covenant with David. That means it wasn’t a giant leap to reuse these verses for Christ because He was David’s descendant. This was the case when any NT author spoke of Christ with repurposed passages originally about King David.

Let Angels Worship Him

6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
– Hebrews 1:6 (ESV)

This immediately brings up a matter of dominion. Unlike King David, Jesus isn’t just the King of Israel. His dominion extends to the heavenly realm as well. He is King over all creation, both heaven and earth. It’s why Jesus could say that all authority in heaven and earth was given to Him (Matthew 28:18). But notice the author calls Him the firstborn. Some try to use this as a way to say that Jesus is not eternal, but rather He had a beginning at some point, making Him a created being. However, the Bible often uses the word firstborn to indicate status, not chronology of birth. For example, later in Hebrews, the author will refer to the church as the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven (12:23). Every born-again believer receives the status of a firstborn son. This isn’t without precedent. The LORD called Israel His firstborn son in Exodus 4:22. So it seems from Scripture that the LORD is generous with giving people who aren’t chronologically firstborn the status of the firstborn. In this way, He applies the status of the firstborn to His eternal Son. Jesus is the eternal, uncreated, firstborn Son.

What’s the big deal about being firstborn? The firstborn son receives a double inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17). So if there are five children, the father would divide his estate into six equal portions and give the firstborn two. Why? There’s a lot of speculation about this, especially if you dive into rabbinic traditions about the Torah’s interpretation on this matter. However, two seem to rise to the top, and one is the firstborn son was tasked with perpetuating his father’s memory and would take any unmarried sisters into his care. In reality, a heavier burden was laid upon the firstborn, so he received a double inheritance. The other is that God cherishes the firstborn. Even a surface reading of the Law of Moses would make that clear.

Christ is the firstborn of all creation, and as sons and daughters of the LORD who are adopted with firstborn status, we receive the same inheritance that Christ receives. The implication, then, is as God’s family, we receive a double-portion inheritance along with Jesus. This is one of those already-but-not-yet matters. Currently, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, who shares Christ’s power and authority with us. It isn’t fully realized yet. We are not glorified in our position above the angels quite yet. But as I said in the last article, that day is coming, and we will eventually have a dominion higher than the angels, with Christ, our LORD.

I’m getting ahead of myself a little. This will come up again shortly.

Angels Are Servants

7 Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”
– Hebrews 1:7 (ESV)

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
-Hebrews 1:14 (ESV)

I’m grouping the verses pertaining to the role and status of the angels together so I can deal with it at once and leave the remainder of the article to dive deeper into something else. Verse 7 is a quotation from Psalm 104:4. The word angels in the book of Hebrews is messengers (malak) in Psalm 104:4. This is, again, a place where the LXX Greek, angels, was used instead of the Hebrew. It’s essentially a class of heavenly beings. They are informing servants. On repeat, throughout the Bible, we see angels (malak) doing just that: delivering messages to people.

Now, take note of verse 14. What does the work of angels entail? They are sent out to work on behalf of those who will inherit salvation. Angels work for the benefit and blessing of God’s church. It’s somewhat like how the Secret Service is tasked with the protection of the President’s children. So angels are tasked with a similar mission for God’s family. This has tones of guardian angel stuff, but I’m not going to go that far. It’s curious that the author’s choice of words was future-looking: “those who are to inherit salvation.” By this, it would seem that, at some level, angels are involved in the salvation of men and women. However, they must be limited by their own finite natures to a supporting role since salvation is a work of God, by the Holy Spirit, who regenerates the heart and births new life. But you can take comfort that not only has the LORD given you the Holy Spirit, but He has charged His angels concerning your well-being as well.

The Son is Enthroned

8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
10 And,
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
– Hebrews 1:8-13 (ESV)

In these verses, the author more fully established the dominion of the Son. In verses 8-9, he quoted Psalm 45:6-7. The Son’s throne is an everlasting and upright throne. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. Hang on for the part about God anointing Him with the oil of gladness. I’ll come back to it because it highlights something that deserves more explanation. The author’s use of Psalm 45 firmly establishes that the Son has a kingdom and dominion, but he takes it a step further in verses 10-12 by quoting Psalm 102:25-27. He reaffirms that not only is the Son King of kings but that He is also Creator, which is a claim to Divinity. The author wrote that not only was the Son the active agent in creating the world, but He’ll be the one who de-creates it as well. He will roll up the worn and battered creation like a used garment and change it. Yes, the Son will be the Creator of everything new that comes after the old is gone.

Verse 13, though, is my favorite. This is Psalm 110:1. Right hand… where have we heard this? Jesus said it the night of his mock trial.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.
– Mark 14:61-62 (ESV, emphasis added)

When Jesus said this, the council knew what He meant. This was His very direct claim to be the Son of God. Why? Two reasons. First, to be the right hand, or at the right hand, was symbolic of authority. His claim to be seated at the right hand of Power was saying that all of God’s authority was invested in Him. Second, coming with the clouds of heaven meant something very specific. In the OT, there was only one cloud rider. Look again at Psalm 104.

He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
– Psalms 104:3 (ESV, emphasis added)

The LORD is the cloud rider. Then look at Daniel 7.

13 I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
– Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV)

Jesus claimed to the council that He was the Daniel 7 cloud rider, whom the Jews of that day understood to be the LORD. If not, why else did the high priest tear his robe and accuse Jesus of blasphemy? So the author of Hebrews skillfully employed several OT passages to demonstrate that the Son, Jesus, is God and, therefore, superior in every way to the other sons of God.

Who Are the LORD’s Companions?

9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.
– Hebrews 1:9 (ESV)

I want to wrap this lesson up by zooming in here to paint a more vivid picture of what the courts of Heaven are like. If the author repurposed Psalm 45:7 for the Son, there remains a question. Who are the LORD’s companions over whom the Son receives a greater anointing? I think that’s a fair question. In the case of King David, it would have been speaking of the members of his court. I believe it means the same thing for the LORD.

Let me direct you to a scene in 2 Kings. Ahab, king of Israel, wants to go to war against a city, but he needs help, so he calls on Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to help him. Ahab summons his prophets, and they all tell him to go and that they will have success. But Jehoshaphat is a godly king and asks Ahab if there was a prophet of YWHW they could consult. Ahab begrudgingly calls on the prophet Micaiah (Ahab hated him). Micaiah came and gave this word.

19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’”
– 1 Kings 22:19-22 (ESV)

The sneak peek that Micaiah received into the LORD’s courts was revealing. The LORD chooses to include the sons of God in the execution of His plans. He doesn’t need them, but it seems that He delights to include them. That gives even more context to what the author of Job described in chapters one and two of his writing. Why were the sons of God gathered? They participate in the LORD’s work. Psalm 82 offers another peek.

1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
– Psalm 82:1

God has a divine council comprised of the sons of God whom He created. Some of those sons rebelled. Satan was numbered among them. He rebelled. The sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4 were numbered among them. They rebelled. Psalm 82 is a court scene where God is holding court amongst the gods – the sons of God. I have to admit that Psalm 82 is its own topic, so I’ll save it for the upcoming rabbit hole post. But, it’s clear from Scripture that God has an entourage – a divine council – whom He invites to work with Him in the unfolding of His plans to redeem humanity.

Who are the LORD’s companions? Answer: His divine council. And God has anointed the Son with the oil of gladness above His companions. He is enthroned above the sons of God. But it gets better. I mentioned this in passing in the first article on 1:1-4, but this is the fuller explanation. When we are glorified, we will join the divine council, replace the sons of God who rebelled from their position and become their judges (1 Corinthians 6:3).


I tackled this large portion of Scripture to make headway on some of the behind-the-scenes issues that accompany this contrast between the Son and the angels. If you’ve made it to the end, many kudos! What are the real-life practicalities of what we’ve covered? Mostly, I think it should enlarge your view of Jesus. A.W. Tozer once said that what we think about God is the most important thought in our entire lives. My hope is that your view of His dominion and majesty has been expanded. We’ve made the epithet, King of kings, almost cliché because, as Western Christians, our concepts of a king are mostly defined by history books, fairy tales, and popular entertainment. Whatever I can do to expand my understanding of Christ’s dominion and majesty is immensely helpful. It helps me put Him in the exalted place that Scripture puts Him.

These issues are the kind of foundational things that inform how we approach more practical matters. Get these in order, and you’re more likely to be oriented in the right direction for the daily stuff. So again, I conclude with a similar thought to last time. Draw near to Him. You’ve been given access, by Christ’s blood, to an intimate relationship with this highly exalted, highly enthroned King of the universe. Knowing Him is the most important pursuit any man or woman can chase.

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Last modified: February 20, 2023