WHAT, then, is the thought concerning Christ in the first chapter of Hebrews?
First of all there is introduced "God"—God the Father—as the speaker to men, who "in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets;" and who "hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."
Thus is introduced Christ the Son of God. Then of Him and the Father it is written: "Whom He [the Father] hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He [the Father] made the worlds." Thus, as preliminary to His introduction and our consideration of Him as High Priest, Christ the Son of God is introduced as being with God as Creator and as being the active, vivifying Word in the creation—"by whom also He [God] made the worlds."
Next, of the Son of God Himself, we read: "Who being the brightness of His [God's] glory, and the express image of His [God's] person ["the very impress of His substance," margin R.V.], and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
This tells us that, in heaven, the nature of Christ was the nature of God; that He, in His person, in His substance, is the very impress, the very character, of the substance of God. That is to say that, in heaven, as He was before He came to the world, the nature of Christ was in very substance the nature of God.
Therefore it is further written of Him that He was "made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." This more excellent name is the name "God," which, in the eighth verse, is given by the Father to the Son: "Unto the Son He [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever."
Thus, He is "so much" better than the angels as God is better than the angels. And it is because of this that He has that more excellent name, —the name expressing only what He is, in His very nature.
And this name "He hath by inheritance." It is not a name that was bestowed, but a name that is inherited.
Now it lies in the nature of things, as an everlasting truth, that the only name any person can possibly inherit is his father's name. This name, then, of Christ's, which is more excellent than that of the angels, is the name of His Father: and His Father's name is God. The Son's name, therefore, which He has by inheritance, is God. And this name, which is more excellent than that of the angels, is His because he is "so much better than the angels." That name being God, He is "so much better than the angels" as God is better than the angels.
Next, His position and nature, as better than that of the angels, is dwelt upon: "For unto which of the angels said He [the Father] at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?" This holds the thought of the more excellent name spoken of in the previous verse. For He, being the Son of God, —God being His Father, —thus hath "by inheritance" the name of His Father, which is God; and which is so much more excellent than the name of the angels, as God is better than they.
This is dwelt upon yet further: "And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, and let all the angels of God worship Him." Thus He is so much better than the angels that He is worshiped by the angels: and this according to the will of God, because He is, in His nature, God.
This thought of the mighty contrast between Christ and the angels is dwelt upon yet further: "Of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever ["from eternity to eternity," German translation]."
And again, "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows."
And yet again, the Father, in speaking to the Son, says: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: they shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou are the same, and Thy years shall not fail."
Note the contrasts here, and in them read the nature of Christ. The heavens shall perish, but He remains. The heavens shall wax old, but His years shall not fail. The heavens shall be changed, but He is the same. This shows that He is God: of the nature of God.
Yet more of this contrast between Christ and the angels: "To which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
Thus, in the first chapter of Hebrews, Christ is revealed higher than the angels, as God; and as much higher than the angels as is God, because He is God.
In the first chapter of Hebrews Christ is revealed as God, of the name of God, because He is of the nature of God. And so entirely is His nature of the nature of God, that it is the very impress of the substance of God.
This is Christ the Saviour, Spirit of Spirit, substance of substance, of God.
And this it is essential to know in the first chapter of Hebrews, in order to know what is His nature revealed in the second chapter of Hebrews as man.