Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
As powerful and wonderful as angels are, the Bible says they are still inferior to Jesus Christ. That is what Hebrews 1:4-14 is all about. The writer’s purpose in these verses was not to downplay angels but to exalt the name of Jesus Christ.
How is Christ superior to the angels? Talking about Jesus, the writer of Hebrews said, “Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” (1:4). I want you to underline the phrase “having become,” because this verse will be very useful to you at some time. One afternoon, you will be sitting at home and will hear a knock on your door. When you answer the door, you will find a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or another cult group wanting to share their faith. They are going to try to prove to you that Jesus Christ was not the only begotten Son of God. They will say that Jesus was a wonderful person, but He was inferior to God the Father. And they will use Hebrews 1:4 to demonstrate that. They will always quote from the King James Version, not a more accurate and modern translation. The King James Version says in verse 4, “Having been created.” Because this translation appears to say God created Jesus as better than the angels, they will say, “See, it is in the Bible: Jesus was created by God the Father.” But that is not what the original text says. The Greek word in this verse is not “poieo,” which means “to create,” but “ginomai,” which means “to become.” Hebrews 1:4 says Jesus has become much better than the angels, not that He was created much better than the angels.
In what sense has Jesus become much better than the angels? “Having become” infers that at a point in time Jesus was inferior to the angels. Is that true?
In a sense, yes. There was a time in Jesus’ existence when at least in His physical form He was inferior to the angels. When was that? During His incarnation. You see, when Jesus chose to give up His rights as God and come to earth, He did not give up His deity–no, that would be heresy. But Jesus did voluntarily take on the limitations of human flesh, the physical limitations that make you and make me inferior to the angels. Psalm 8:5 says we have been created “a little lower than the angels” (NIV). The fact is, right now in this earthly existence we are lower than the angels. And it was the same with Christ. He was limited by His human flesh. But this physical limitation was only temporary. The Bible says when Jesus was resurrected, He was given a new body and ascended back into Heaven, where He has now become much better than the angels (Hebrews 1:4).
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Angels And You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.