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A View from the Altar / A bit lower than angels (Hebrews 2)
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A bit lower than angels (Hebrews 2)

This is for our friends from the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been persuaded that Jesus is Michael the archangel.

People apparently tried to dissuade the early Jewish Christians from worshiping Jesus by saying that Jesus was an angel.  In a similar way, we know the Gnostics tried to identify Jesus as a demiurge, and this error was exploded in various books of the New Testament.  The letter to the Hebrews suggests that a similar device may have been tried among the Jews, the argument that Christ was an angel.  Don’t worship Jesus as Lord, they said, because he was an angel.  Being an angel, he was certainly worthy of great respect, was a great moral teacher and a notable worker of miracles, a messenger from God, a super-being of some kind, but being an angel he was not God and so must not be worshiped.

As we saw before, Hebrews chapter 1 argues that Christ was and is God Almighty.  Chapter 2 then takes the approach of insisting that he is also a man and hence not an angel.  So here the doctrine of Christ’s two natures comes out as a weapon against the heresy that Christ was anything other than fully God and fully man.

So the apostle says that Christ was made “a little lower than the angels.”  He argues that the whole world will be subject to him, a destiny assigned to humanity but not angels.  He was made to taste of death for everyone, but not before he led a life of suffering — neither of which angels do.  He calls his people “brethren” and sang praises in their congregation rather than in the company of the angels.  He partook of flesh and blood, and then the apostle mentions a second time that he was subjected to death, something angels do not experience.

See?  Fully man.  So he completes the argument by stating his thesis straight-out:  “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”  (Heb 2:16 KJV)

So Jesus was no angel, he says, first because the Old Testament Scriptures are clear that he is fully God and second because those same Scriptures are equally clear that he is fully man.  The “angel argument” just won’t work from either end.

As a man, therefore, he can be a faithful high priest for us, unlike the faithless political priests who ruled back then.  And being a man, Jesus has actually entered into our sufferings, refusing to pass by on the other side of the road as Jesus said the priests and Levites did.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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