This week we are finishing off the introduction of Hebrews and taking a look at the first few quotations of the Hebrew Scriptures, which are often misunderstood.
Jesus Is the Inheritor of the Excellent Name
In verse 4, we find out why Jesus can sit down at the right hand of the Father in verse 3: because he has inherited a more excellent name than the angels. I think this leads to a few questions:
- What is this name?
- What does it mean to inherit a name?
- What does it mean to “become superior to angels?”
What the name is, is not immediately clear. But we can do some deductions. Whatever this name is, it’s something that he earned. His inheritance and glorification at the right hand of the Father come because of his making purification for sins.
Explore the Scriptures 📖
The apostle Paul delivers several stinging rebukes to the believers at Corinth over the course of his first epistle. But perhaps the most interesting comes in 1 Corinthians 6:2–3. There we learn that due to their divisiveness and worldliness, the Corinthians have compromised their Christian identity by pursuing selfish gain through litigation against one another in secular courts. Such conduct betrays values that are no different from their pagan neighbors, so Paul reminds them of their ultimate destiny in Christ in order to expose the absurdity of their conduct.
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Cor. 6:2–3)
It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If they will one day judge the world and the angels, shouldn’t they be capable of handling relatively minor disputes among themselves?
What makes the passage so surprising is Paul seems to assume his readers are already aware of their role in the final judgment. He twice asks the rhetorical question, “Do you not know?” And yet, if it weren’t for this very passage, how many Christians today would know? What exactly does it mean that we will judge the world and the angels? What else does the Bible have to say about this? And what does this mean for us practically today?
Dillon is certainly right that it’s a mysterious passage to many. He explains four different ways that this passage has been understood. Personally, I tend to agree with view four, also championed by scholars like Dr. Michael Heiser, author of The Unseen Realm 📚, but all are possible.
Many Christians just want someone to tell them the “right” view, but then the “right” view depends on who you ask! Learn why the various views are held, and decide for yourself.