Greater Because Worshiped
And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (1:6)
Jesus Christ is not only greater than angels because He is God’s Son but also because He is worshiped. Even though Christ humbled Himself, even though He was made for a time lower than the angels, the angels are to worship Him. If angels are to worship Him, He must therefore be greater than they. And if He is greater than they, His covenant is greater than the one they brought—the New Covenant is greater than the Old, and Christianity is greater than Judaism.
And let all the angels of God worship Him is a quotation from Psalm 97:7. The psalmist predicted that all the angels were to worship the Lord’s Christ. Jews should not have been surprised at the point being made here in Hebrews. The truth, in fact the very words, come right out of their own Scriptures. Far from matching the incarnate Son in glory, angels are commanded to worship Him.
But did not angels always worship Christ? Yes, they had worshiped Him throughout all the time of their existence; but prior to His incarnation, they worshiped Him as God. Now they are also to worship Him as Son, in His incarnate character. This Son who became a man is higher than angels. He is the very God that the angels had always worshiped. It is an absolute sin and violation of the most basic of God’s laws to worship anyone but God. So if God Himself says that the angels are to worship the Son, then the Son must be God! In His incarnate Person, even as in His eternal Person, Christ is to be worshiped.
6. And again, when he bringeth or introduceth, &c. He now proves by another argument that Christ is above the angels, and that is because the angels are bidden to worship him. (Ps. 97:7.) It hence follows that he is their head and Prince. But it may seem unreasonable to apply that to Christ which is spoken of God only. Were we to answer that Christ is the eternal God, and therefore what belongs to God may justly be applied to him, it would not perhaps be satisfactory to all; for it would avail but little in proving a doubtful point, to argue in this case from the common attributes of God.
The subject is Christ manifested in the flesh, and the Apostle expressly says, that the Spirit thus spoke when Christ was introduced into the world; but this would not have been said consistently with truth except the manifestation of Christ be really spoken of in the Psalm. And so the case indeed is; for the Psalm commences with an exhortation to rejoice; nor did David address the Jews, but the whole earth, including the islands, that is, countries beyond the sea. The reason for this joy is given, because the Lord would reign. Further, if you read the whole Psalm, you will find nothing else but the kingdom of Christ, which began when the Gospel was published; nor is the whole Psalm anything else but a solemn decree, as it were, by which Christ was sent to take possession of His kingdom. Besides, what joy could arise from His kingdom, except it brought salvation to the whole world, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews? Aptly then does the Apostle say here, that he was introduced into the world, because in that Psalm what is described is his coming to men.
The Hebrew word, rendered angels, is Elohim—gods; but there is no doubt but that the Prophet speaks of angels; for the meaning is, that there is no power so high but must be in subjection to the authority of this king, whose advent was to cause joy to the whole world.
6 The first quotation that explicitly mentions angels poses two problems. The first is the point we have noted above that the text quoted refers in its OT context (see note below) to the angels (or “gods”) worshiping God himself, so that its relevance to the Son is a matter of creative reapplication rather than of strict exegesis. The second is that this is the only one of the quotations in this anthology that has a significant interpretive introduction, and it is not easy to see just how the author has reached the view that this text applies to the time “when God brings his firstborn into the world.” As part of Moses’ song in Deuteronomy 32 it relates in its historical context to a time more than a thousand years before the incarnation of the Son in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, which is the most natural meaning of God’s “bringing his firstborn into the world.” It seems that our author, looking back in the light of what God has now done (and perhaps recalling the angelic worship of Lk 2:13–14), has found in Moses’ words an appropriate call to other spiritual beings to acknowledge the divine status of the Son who becomes incarnate, even though the song refers to no figure other than the avenging and delivering God himself. Once again, this is not exegesis but the creative reuse of a text where the author discerns a theological parallel: the worship due to the God of Israel is due also to his incarnate Son. Hebrews does not elsewhere speak of Christ as prōtotokos, “firstborn” (GK 4758), though the title sums up well the dignity of the Son who is God’s “heir” (1:2, 4); cf. its use for David, chosen by God as supreme ruler, in Ps 89:27. (For prōtotokos as a christological title, cf. Ro 8:29; Col 1:15, 18; Rev 1:5.)
The point of the quotation in this context is that, once its applicability to the Son is granted, it unequivocally places him on a level of authority above the angels, whose place it is to offer him worship.
1:6 / The third quotation consists of words contained only in the lxx (Deut. 32:43). All of God’s angels must worship him, although there is also a parallel in Psalm 97:7, “worship him, all you gods!” where the lxx has “all his angels.” Most probably our author here as elsewhere depends upon the lxx version of the ot and thus upon Deuteronomy 32:43. What is remarkable in this passage (also in Ps. 97:7) is that the one who is worshipped is the Lord, or Yahweh (i.e., the personal name of God, consisting of the consonants YHWH), and thus the Son is identified with Yahweh of the ot. This quotation is utilized primarily for the reference to the worshiping angels. But if the words spoken to the Lord are referring to the Son, then the deity of the Son (and thus, obviously, his superiority to the angels) is clearly implied.
His superior dignity (1:6)
The angels were messengers, but he is the Son. The angels were worshippers, but he is the One they adore. At the incarnation they united in worship and did so because God had demanded it: Let all God’s angels worship him, which is a rendering of Deuteronomy 32:43 in the Septuagint: ‘Let the sons of God worship him … and let all the angels of God ascribe strength to him.’ It is also a Septuagint quotation of Psalm 97:7: ‘Worship him, all him angels.’ In other words, the writer is saying: ‘It is the angels’ task to exalt the Son.’ He is obviously of far superior honour to those who, at God’s command, offer him their constant and adoring praise.
1:6. The Old Testament does not contain the exact words of this quotation. The idea appears in Psalm 97:7 and in the Greek Old Testament version of Deuteronomy 32:43. In the Old Testament the command involved the worship of God the Father. In Hebrews the Son is linked with the Father by receiving the worship due him. This provided powerful evidence for Jesus’ deity.
This could be a reference to the angels worshiping Jesus at his birth. (Luke 2:8–15). Such angelic worship showed that the Son is superior to angels. He has greater dignity than they.
6. And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
From a well-known messianic psalm and a similar passage from a historical book the writer of Hebrews turns to the Hymn of Moses, recorded in Deuteronomy 32 and used in temple services and local synagogues. The Jews considered the concluding verses of this hymn to be messianic.
This quotation is introduced by the phrase and again, which is followed by the clause “when God brings his firstborn into the world.” The subject is God the Father, who brings his Son into the world. But when did or will this take place? The question remains: should the translation from the Greek read, “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world” or “But when God shall bring again his firstborn into the world”?
The first translation is a reference to the birth of Jesus, when a multitude of the heavenly host praised God in the fields near Bethlehem (Luke 2:13). The second translation is an amplification of Jesus’ discourse on the end of the age. At the end of time “he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call” (Matt. 24:31); that is, the angels of God will worship the Son when he returns at the close of this age. However, why does the writer of Hebrews speak of a second coming of Jesus when he has not said anything in the immediate context about Christ’s first coming? It seems more appropriate to prefer the first translation, for it logically follows the quotations in verses 5 and 6.
The word firstborn in verse 6 (see also Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 11:28; 12:23; Rev. 1:5) qualifies the word Son and is a title given to Jesus. We cannot determine when that title was given, because the writers who use the term apply it to creation, resurrection, dignity, and honor. The psalmist records a blessing upon David when God said, “I will also appoint him my firstborn” (Ps. 89:27). The Son, as the firstborn, enters the inhabited world of men. The word world is Hellenic and was used in ordinary speech to refer to the populated world.
- The quotation itself shows that “not only is the Son greater than angels, but He is worshipped by angels.” The Son is the Creator of the angels, and God orders these creatures to show homage to his Son. The angels, because they are created, must serve the Son and “those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).
- The origin of the quotation seems to be a Greek translation of the Hymn of Moses (Deut. 32:43). The translation based on the Hebrew text is rendered:
Rejoice, O nations, with his people,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
and make atonement for his land and people.
The Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls show an addition to the first line of the verse.
Rejoice, O nations, with his people,
and let all the angels worship him,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants.
In the Septuagint version of Psalm 97:7 (Ps. 96:7, LXX) we read the exhortation: “Worship him[,] all you his angels.” The translation based on the Hebrew text reads, “Worship him, all you gods!”
- The Hymn of Moses is quoted and alluded to more than any other portion from the Book of Deuteronomy. The writer of Hebrews quotes twice from this hymn (Heb. 1:6; 10:30). In his letter to the Romans, Paul cites the hymn three times (Rom. 10:19; 12:19; 15:10). Allusions to this hymn are found in Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews, I John, and Revelation. John records in Revelation 15 that the victorious saints were given harps by God and “sang the song of Moses the servant of God” (Rev. 15:3). This reference to the heavenly use of the Hymn of Moses reflects its liturgical use in the church on earth. And in the church on earth the hymn was sung in languages other than Hebrew. The Jews living in dispersion used the Greek rendition of this song, from which the author of Hebrews quoted a line that describes the superiority of the Son over the angels.
The addressee in Deuteronomy 32:43 is the Lord God, who must be worshiped by his angels. This homage the writer of Hebrews (having clearly established the divinity of Jesus) transfers to the Son. The quotation reinforces the author’s teaching about the deity of Christ.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 29–30). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 43–44). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 43). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 33). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Brown, R. (1988). The message of Hebrews: Christ above all (p. 40). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 10). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 38–39). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.