Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14
The question here, speaking of the angels, is actually tied directly to verse 7. In that verse, two words were used which are now repeated in this verse –
1:7 –And of the angels He says:
“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”
1:14 – Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
Further, the Greek word in verse 7 for “angel” (aggelos) is a noun which signifies a messenger. The Greek word in verse 14 for “sent forth” (apostelló) is a verb signifying the sending forth of a messenger. Everything about the wording chosen by the author is given in contrast to Christ who directs the angels, as opposed to the angels who are so directed. Further, it is Christ who brought about salvation through the purging of sin (verse 3), but it is the angels who minister (to Him) for those who will inherit salvation.
The construction of the verse in most English translations gives the sense that the service is “to” man. This is not the intent of the words. The service is “to God” as they are continually (the verb is a present participle, indicating on-going action) sent forth for those who will inherit salvation. As the service is “to God,” meaning the Son (as is noted in verse 7), then it is showing their subordinate position to Christ Jesus. Again, the supremacy of the authority and power of Christ is on full display in these words.
Understanding the structure now, we can see that the word “all” is an absolute term. Christ is elevated above every angel, and all are in subjection to Him. Every one of them is directed according to His will. Theirs is a function of service. The Greek word is leitourgikos, and it is only found here in the Bible. However, it is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament concerning those who served in the temple. It signified a “divinely-authorized (service) referring to sacred ministering that performs what is acceptable to the all-holy God” (HELPS Word Studies). It is where our modern term “liturgy” comes from. These heavenly beings perform a service to God, just as the human ministers performed to Him in His earthly dwelling.
As these beings are serving God and “for those who will inherit salvation,” we see that their duties are based on the now-complete redemptive work which Christ accomplished in His purging of our sins. It is He who secured our salvation; it is they who serve Him for the salvation we will inherit. The highlight is on Christ Jesus, and our Savior’s greatness in this regard will continue to be brought to light as we move into Chapter 2.
Life application: As was noted in the explanation of verse 3, it is not merely that man is a part of creation, but that he is the point of creation. Jesus created, He sustains His creation, and He died for His creatures to redeem them. He now sends forth angels according to His will for those who will inherit that salvation. When we consider this, it makes the work of Jesus Christ all the more amazing. Let us consider the love which is displayed in the workings of God in Christ, and let us be humble before Him, ever grateful for the marvel and the magnificence of what He has done.
Lord God, precious heavenly Father, from the breath of Your spoken word, all of creation came into existence. You possess all things, and You control all things. And yet, You still sent Jesus to redeem us when it is we who turned from You. For the endless ages to come, we will surely never be able to grasp the depth of the love You have for Your redeemed. To do what You have done is simply beyond comprehension. And so, dwell in our thanks and our praises. Be pleased, O God, to receive eternal thanks and praise from Your people. Amen.