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The Testimony of Hebrews 1 --- Jesus is deity and not an angel

by Bill Wong

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 1 confirms that the Lord Jesus is deity. Its main subject is to tell us that the Lord Jesus is God (deity) and not a created being. It opens with God telling us that in the past God spoke to the fathers in various ways, but now He speaks to us in His son. God’s previous dealings were with angels (Acts 7:30, 35, 38, 53), but this is now replaced with His son, which means that His son is not an angel:

 

Hebrews 1:

1    God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

2     has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things,

     through whom also He made the worlds;    (NASB)

 

 

However, God goes even further to declare the deity of His son:

 

Hebrews 1:

8    But of the Son He says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.

9   "You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God,

    has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions."

 

(from Psalm 45:6-7)

 

10      And, "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands;

11      They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment,

12      And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end."

 

(from Psalm 102:25-27)

 

 

 

The statements the Bible makes in Hebrews 1:8-12 are bold, unambiguous and crucially important declarations about the nature of God that are often overlooked.

 

In verse 8 the Father calls His son God and in verse 9 the Father calls Himself God, but more than that, the Father says He is the God of His son. The Father is confirming that He is greater than His son, because as we know, someone’s God is greater than the one to whom He is God.

 

In other words, Hebrews 1:8-12 tells us in one place and at the same time that both the Jehovah’s Witnesses and a Trinity doctrine are wrong, because the Lord Jesus is not created and is deity, but He is not His father’s equal.

 

In verses 10-12 God tells us that His son is also God by calling the Lord Jesus the creator who did the creating. The ability to create is being linked as a prerogative of divinity.

 

 

However, those who believe that Jesus is not deity but a created being translate verse 8 differently. This is what the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses states:

 

Hebrews 1:

8 But with reference to the Son: “God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.   (NWT)

 

 

Instead of the verse showing God speaking about His son and calling Him God (“Your throne, oh God”), they have God speaking about His son and saying: “God is your throne”.

 

But does this make sense? What does it mean for God to say He is Jesus’ throne? God sits on the throne as the Almighty, but how can He be someone else’s throne? God saying He is His son’s throne does not make any sense.

 

We must look at Hebrews 1 line by line to see what Hebrews 1 is really telling us: is it God saying “Your throne, oh God, is forever and ever” to His son, or is it God saying “God is your throne forever and forever”.

 

 

Let us review Hebrews 1 verse by verse:

 

   

Hebrews 1:

1        God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

2        in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

 

Comment:  Verses 1 & 2. Makes a distinction that before Christ came, God communicated with His prophets in various ways, but now through His son.

 

 

3     And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

     When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

 

Comment: Verse 3. The son of God is both creator and redeemer of the creation.

 

   having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

 

Comment: Verse 4. As the son of God, the Lord Jesus inherits His father’s lineage and name – His divinity.

 

5     For to which of the angels did He ever say, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"?

     And again, "I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me"?

 

         (from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14)

 

Comment: Verse 5. When God says “For to which of the angels”, the plain meaning is that God means Jesus is not an angel. Jehovah’s Witnesses still insist Jesus is created. If they truly believe this, then maybe the word ‘other’ should be inserted as it has been 5 times in Colossians 1 to separate Jesus from the “other” angels. It would then read: “For to which of the [other] angels did He ever say”. However, just like the true reading of Colossians 1 which does not have ‘other’ inserted, the word ‘other’ is also missing here. This means Jesus is excepted/exempt from an angel. If no angel can be called God's son, then the Lord Jesus is not an angel, since He is the son of God.


6     And when He again brings the firstborn into the world,

     He says, "And let all the angels of God worship Him."  

 

         (from Psalm 97:7)

 

Comment: Verse 6. The angels are told to worship the Lord Jesus. How can angels worship angels? We are told that angels are not to accept worship:

 

Revelation 19:

10   And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you do it not: I am your fellow servant,

     and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God:

     for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.   (AKJV)

 

Revelation 22:

8   And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen,

    I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.

9   Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets,

     and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.   (AKJV)

 

 

Even more, the angels are saying: “do not worship me (an angel), but worship God”.

Therefore, Hebrews 1 is declaring that Jesus is not an angel, but is deity and can accept worship. He is not the archangel Michael; instead, Michael will be included as one of the angels which must worship Jesus.

 

We must also note that the Greek word ‘proskuneo’ means worship and Jehovah’s Witnesses have always translated it as such in the many places it occurs, including Hebrews 1:6. That is, until 1970 when suddenly any use of the word ‘proskuneo’ referring to Jesus only, such as Hebrews 1:6, is translated to ‘do obeisance’ instead.   Meanwhile, all other occurrences of ‘proskuneo’ are still rendered worship, like:

 

John 4:

21   Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.   (NKJV)

 

 

Does this mean we are “only” to “do obeisance” to the Father as well? It is yet more evidence of giving a translation that purposely sets out to deny the deity of Christ.

 

       And of the angels He says, "Who makes His angels winds,

          And His ministers a flame of fire."  (from Psalm 104:4)

 

Comment: In verses 5 through 7 the angels are compared to the Lord Jesus four times and each time we are told that the angels pale in comparison to the glory of God’s son.   God is telling us that His Son is definitely not an angel.  In conjunction with verse 1, it tells us the word of God was given to men through angels before Christ, but now that Christ has come, God speaks to us through His only-begotten son, the Word of God. This shows a clear delineation that the previous role was assigned to angels, but the current role now is given to His son, which differentiates Him as not being an angel.

 

In verse 7, the Bible indicates God is speaking in reference to the angels: “And of the angels He says”. After this comparison to the angels, God then speaks directly concerning His son. This is why in verse 8 the Bible says “In reference to the son” or “But to the Son” – the Bible is transitioning immediately from referring to the angels and then referring to the son. In verses 5 through 7 God was talking about His son in light of the angels, but now He is speaking about His son directly – and He calls Him deity, the creator God.

 

The introduction in verse 8 is the pivot point where one side (verses 5-7) is about the angels who are lesser and then the other side (verses 8-12) where the Lord Jesus is the greater. Why? Because as the Son of God, He is also God, like His father.

 

 

Let us continue with the verse by verse review:

 

8        But of the Son He says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.

9        "You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

         With the oil of gladness above Your companions."    (from Psalm 45:6-7)

 

Comment: Verses 8-9. As we mentioned earlier, it does not make sense for God to say “God is your throne” to His son as the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. The New World Translation is not correct and tampers with the translation. We must also remember that Hebrews 1:8 is only a quote from Psalm 45:6; so the New World Translation translates incorrectly both the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek.

 

The context of verse 8 itself tells us it really is “Your throne, oh God”. How? It is because the second part of verse 8 speaks about “scepter” twice and “your kingdom”. The theme of verse 8 shows it is speaking about Jesus’ rule. Jesus’ scepter and kingdom shows that the throne being spoken of is Jesus’ throne, not “God is your throne”.

 

The context of the chapter also reveals that the true translation is God saying to His son “Your throne, oh God, is forever and ever”. It is apparent throughout that God is comparing the angels to His son and is saying His son is much greater and why. The subject of the entire chapter is God’s son Jesus who is being exalted. Verse 8 does not suddenly talk about God being the throne of His son (whatever that means) – it is completely out of place.

 

Further context in verse 9 which mentions Jesus as being anointed by God prove it is “Your throne, oh God”, because anointing is part of becoming king and having a kingdom – so it is referring to Jesus being anointed for the son’s throne, not God being Jesus’ throne.

 

And so, when the two sets of verses cited from Psalm 45 (verses 8 & 9) and Psalm 102 (verses 10-12 to follow below) immediately follow the introduction in verse 8 “But to the son/in reference to the son”, the clear indication is that all these verses are talking about the son and His greatness and deity.

 

 

And again, God says “You, Lord” referring to His son:

 

And, "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands;

11      They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment,

12      And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end."

     (from Psalm 102:25-27)

 

Comment: Verses 10-12.  This is God the Father speaking more about His son Jesus and not the other way around as some try to suggest. God not only tells us His son is not an angel, but He calls Him God. This is done not only because Jesus is referred to as creator, but also because Psalm 102:25-27 which Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes, all refer to the LORD (YHWH or Yahweh/Jehovah) creating. This is why it is very important that everyone, and Jehovah’s Witnesses especially, truly understand what Jesus being the only-begotten son, the Word of God and the image of God really means, as well as what it means for God to create all things through His son. The Word is Greek ‘logos’ – the divine expression. The Word of God is the very expression of God Himself and we know God spoke everything into existence. The Word of God is the Word of Jehovah.

 

Verses 10-12 show beyond a doubt that Jesus is deity and as the Word of God, image of the invisible God, exact representation of God’s nature, and God’s only-begotten son, Jesus is identified with YHWH/Jehovah, because Jesus is how God reveals Himself and interacts with His creation. Jesus is an extension of God; it is by His Word that Jehovah reveals Himself, speaks and acts. So Jehovah’s Witnesses are not honoring Jehovah God when they dishonor His son who is His exact image. Since God is deity, the exact image of God demands that the image must also be deity – how else can it be an exact image?

 

The reference here of creation amid the context of the entire chapter about God now speaking through His Son indicates that Jesus was already God's son when He created the worlds (as Hebrews 1:2 "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" also attests.   



God then transitions to comparing the angels again in verses 13 and 14:

 

13      But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet"?   

        (from Psalm 110:1)

 

14      Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

 

Comment: Verses 13-14.  Again, angels are angels and His son is His son - that is, Jesus is God/deity. Jesus was never an angel.

 

We must also note that Hebrews 1:14 defines angels as ministering spirits – they are servants.

However, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the form of God and then took on the form of a servant:

 

Philippians 2:

5   Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

6   who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7   but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.   (NASB)

 

 

This means that since the Lord Jesus only took on the form of a servant when He came in the flesh, He was not already in the form of a servant (an angel) beforehand.

 

The Bible tells us what Jesus was before He came in the flesh: He was not an angel; He was in the form of God. Jesus is deity and not a created being.

 

 

The entire context of this chapter clearly shows that Christ is not an angel and never was.  He is much, much more. He is God's son and hence God, too.  God is speaking the praises of His son and His greatness – Jesus is the lone subject.

 

In the first 4 verses He introduces His son while saying He is greater than the angels. Then starting in verse 5 to the end of the chapter He talks about His son in context of Old Testament verses, while continually comparing His son with angels and stating that His son is not an angel, but is much greater and is God like His father. Verses 5-14 are broken down as follows:

 

Verses 5-7 speak in reference to the angels and they cannot compare to God’s son Jesus;

verses 8-12 speak in reference to God’s son and He is exalted;

verses 13-14 speak again of angels and they again cannot compare to God’s son.

 

All throughout Hebrews 1 the Father talking about His son: comparing Jesus to the angels as being far above them and that He is not an angel nor ever was. The Father also compares Jesus to Himself by calling His son God and the Creator, even while at the same time God says that He is still His son’s God. This refutes both the Trinity doctrine and the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine that Jesus is a created being. Jesus is deity, because His father who is above all begot a son and hence His son is also God by virtue of being the son that proceeds forth from God.

 

To summarize, God is making it clear to all that His son is God, the Creator, and not a created being. God is talking about His son all throughout Hebrews 1.

 

What God essentially says in Hebrews 1 is that His son Jesus is God (deity) for the following reasons:

-          He inherited it from His father and no one else has.

-          He is to be worshipped by the angels.

-          He is the creator, whereby the definition of deity is spelled out: God is creator and not created,

           and all else are created; He is not an angel and is greater than them.    

-          As the Word and image of God, His son, exact representation of God’s nature, and the purest

           use of agency, Jesus is closely identified with Yahweh/Jehovah as God’s expression.

-          If angels are servants and Jesus was in the form of God and then became a servant,

           this means Jesus was not a servant (an angel) before.

 

It cannot be stressed enough for Jehovah’s Witnesses: you must know exactly what the Bible means when it says that Jesus is the Word of God. The Word (Greek ‘logos’) is the divine expression of all that God is. The Word is deity, because it comes forth from God. Truly, how can the Word be the expression and exact image of God who is deity, and not also be deity? If the Word of God is not divine, then it simply cannot be an exact image, but the Bible tells us Jesus is the Word of God and is an exact image.

 

Verses 8-12 tell us what the Bible means when all things were created by the son of God and for Him. Note verses 10-12 which state that the son created all things, but when we read Psalm 102 from where this comes, it is talking about Jehovah creating. God creates by His Word. The Word of God is virtually synonymous with God – it comes forth from Him and is the divine expression of His will and all He is.

 

Let us face it: to say Jesus is the Word of God is to say Jesus is the Word of Jehovah. The Word of Jehovah is what God uses to do all things: all things were made by and for Jesus. The Word is the full and exact image of God and who He is. If Jehovah is deity, then His only-begotten son and Word is deity, too. Hebrews 1 and in particular verses 10-12, shows the son of God is deity just as His father is. We have seen that the son of God, the Word of God, is identified as if He were Jehovah Himself. As the divine expression of all that Jehovah is, we should understand why.

 

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses really being witnesses for Jehovah if the Bible reveals His Word, His son is deity, but Jesus is not being honored as such?

 

Is Jehovah really being honored if the Word of Jehovah is dishonored?

 

Is it deity who returns or just an angel?

 

Revelation 19:

12      His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew,

       but he himself.

13     And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

       (AKJV)

 

 

Also see the articles in subsection: ‘The Deity of Christ and the other articles in this subsection ‘Nature of God: Jehovah’s Witnesses’.