What is the position of Christ in relation to the angels? I have seen drawings where Christ was pictured as being above the angels. What do you believe?
Jump To: The Nature of Angels | The Nature of Christ | Jesus and the Angels | In Conclusion
On some topics the Bible does not tell us all we would like to know. One such topic is the angels. However, we are told enough to be able to discover God’s plan for His creation, and to know how Christ and how we ourselves can fit into that plan.
The Nature of Angels:First, what do we know about the nature of the angels?
The Bible tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). And since those who are permitted to live in the Kingdom cannot “die anymore” because “they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), we may safely draw several conclusions:
1) that the angels are not flesh and blood as we know it
2) that the angels are immortal, i.e. not subject to death
3) that they are accounted children of God
We are told also that there is first a corruptible earthly nature and secondly a heavenly and incorruptible nature. We are told also that the corruptible will be changed into that which is incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:40, 48, 51–55). We learn that the inhabitants of the Kingdom will not know sickness, sorrow, pain or death (Rev. 21:3-4), which tells us the angels are not subject to these limitations of mortality
Combined, this information shows us that the angels enjoy a much higher level of life than we now understand. Scripture tell also reveals of the angels that they are:
-Not bound by the laws of gravity as we are but are free to come and go at will
-At least some of them stand in the very presence of God (Luke l:19).
-They are sent on many types of missions, including the bearing of Divine messages from God to men.
-They can fly swiftly (Dan. 9:21).
-They can reveal or conceal their identity at will (Judges 13).
-They can have the appearance of men (Gen. 18:1-2).
-They are the children of God, part of His eternal family, and are sent by God to the aid of earnest, God-seeking mortals (Heb. 1:14).
Jesus’ statement that “those who are counted worthy to attain that age and the resurrection from the dead…are equal unto the angels, neither can they die anymore” (Luke 20:35-36) indicates that worthy earthborns will be made like the angels. And since God does all according to an eternal plan we may safely conclude that the angels were once mortal like ourselves and that this is the regular progression, from a state of mortality to immorality. This is confirmed by the words of Paul, that first there is that which is earthy, afterward that which is heavenly (1 Cor. 15:48). And “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (v. 49), once we have received the physical change from mortality to immortality, once “this corruptible” has “put on incorruption, and this mortal” has “put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). Paul’s summary statement of this change also confirms our conclusion: The result of the change to incorruptibility will be the triumph over death, bringing to pass “the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (vs. 54-55)
Now what do we know about the nature of Christ? Hebrews tells us that He was made “a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death” (Heb. 2:9). For “a little lower than the angels” the margin in our Common Version reads: “A little while inferior to.” During His mortal career, Jesus was inferior to the angels. Made “like his brethren,” He was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin” (Deut. 18:15, 18; Heb. 4:15). We read also that “He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16). Jesus was made like us, so that He could be to us a perfect example and guide. “For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
But Jesus was not destined to remain on this human, mortal level. The Son of God, He was born with a great destiny, to be King of the whole earth (Luke 1:32-33). When He receives this kingship, His position among earthborns will be supreme. The book of Revelation calls Him the “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” There will be other kings and other lords, but He will still remain the supreme King and the supreme Lord. His accomplishment was supreme, in that He was without sin. Consequently, His position will be supreme, above the inhabitants of the earth, even above those who have been made equal to the angels.
In Philippians 2, Paul is discussing the position of Jesus, and he says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (vs. 8-10). This passage indicates for Christ a position above the angels. But again we must remember that this was written with reference to our earth and not to other parts of God’s creation. The time will come when every knee shall bow to Jesus, because He will be King of the whole earth. And “things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth”–all the political structures of man’s devising will likewise submit to His exalted rule, not that every angel throughout God’s creation will be under the jurisdiction of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is written from the standpoint of the earth and its destiny and development, and for this reason certain passages may sound as though Christ were the center of the universe, the “universe” of the Bible being God’s plan for this earth and its unfolding. But we also learn from the Bible that God’s plan for the earth is only one fold of a manifold plan, orderly and beyond all imaginings (Ps. 104:24). Although in relation to the plan of God on earth Christ is supreme, in the grand scheme of things He is small indeed.
However, Hebrews 1 makes a statement which reveals more about the relation of Christ to the angels: “Having become so much better than the angels, he Has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:4). Jesus being the Son of God receives His position by inheritance, whereas the angels do not. Jesus being the Son of God, He is “heir” to God’s creation-not that God will die, but when the time is right, Jesus will inherit the earth. The angels, on the other hand, not being directly sons of God, cannot receive their position by inheritance. In this sense Jesus is superior to the angels.
Jesus and all the angels, wherever they originate, wherever they are crowned, all become eligible for God’s blessings through the same avenue of obedience. We know this because we read in the Scriptures that “the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Ps. 103:17-18). His mercy is not for everyone but only for those who “remember His commandments to do them.”
We might picture the family of God as having a number of levels. God, of course, is supreme. Beneath Him are the angels; doubtless all are not equal. We are not told much about this level of life, as it does not pertain to us now. But those who are “counted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection of the dead,” who are “equal unto the angels,” will certainly be introduced to that level of life. The plan for the earth is that Christ will reign as King with His associate kings and priests through all eternity.