So Great Salvation
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Heirs of Salvation
But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:13, 14).
The writer of Hebrews opens his epistle after a similar fashion to the way Christ, following His resurrection, opened His conversation and dealt with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and the eleven later in Jerusalem.
Christ, on the road to Emmaus and later in Jerusalem, called His disciples’ attention to certain things about Himself (His past sufferings, the reality of His resurrection in a literal, physical body of “flesh and bones,” and His future glory); and He then opened their understanding to these things concerning Himself by reference to the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27, 39, 44, 45).
The writer of Hebrews, after calling attention to certain things about Christ — His appointed position as “Heir of all things,” His finished work on Calvary, and His present position at God’s right hand (1:2-4) — then does the same thing that Christ had previously done — moves from past sufferings and present conditions to future glory.
Using the Old Testament Scriptures, the writer of Hebrews, after calling attention to things past and present about Christ, then moves on to the goal toward which everything moves, Christ’s coming glory. And to accomplish this purpose, he quotes from seven different Old Testament passages (1:5-13).
In Luke’s account of Christ revealing Himself to His disciples, we’re not told which Old Testament Scriptures He called to their attention. We’re only told that He began at “Moses and all the Prophets” and “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27, 44, 45).
These Scriptures though would, of necessity, have had to include both Christ’s past sufferings and future glory (v. 26). Even though Christ, the One destined to rule and reign, had previously taught His disciples things concerning His rejection and sufferings (Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19; 26:1, 2), they still failed to grasp the overall picture and see both the sufferings and the glory in their proper perspective.
Thus, Christ’s revelation of Himself to His disciples through the Old Testament Scriptures would have had to include passages concerning both. And He could have drawn such dual teachings from Old Testament Scriptures such as those surrounding the life of Joseph in Genesis or those surrounding the life of Moses in Exodus, along with numerous other passages.
Though the writer of Hebrews approaches the matter after a similar fashion to that which is seen in the gospel of Luke, there is a marked difference. The writer of this epistle begins by referring to Christ as the appointed “Heir of all things” (v. 2) prior to recording anything about His past sufferings or His present position at God’s right hand (v. 3). And he then reflects back upon Christ’s heirship that he had mentioned first by focusing his readers’ attention only upon Old Testament Scriptures that have to do with that day when Christ will come into possession of this inheritance (vv. 2, 5-13).
Thus, though there is a reference to Christ’s past sufferings in the first chapter of Hebrews, this is not what is mentioned first, and this is not what the chapter is about. This chapter begins with and centers upon teachings surrounding the coming glory of Christ, and this is accomplished mainly through reference to the Old Testament Scriptures.
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)
Introducing the subject matter in Hebrews by using different quotations from the Old Testament is strictly by divine design. There are “seven quotations” having to do with Christ in His coming glory. “Seven” is a number that refers to the completion of that which is in view; and these seven quotations present a complete, composite Messianic portrait of Christ, setting the stage for that which follows, covering the remainder of this book.
Hebrews is built around five major warnings; and to properly understand these warnings and related passages, a person must understand the opening verses of the book in their correct perspective, for these verses can only be looked upon as forming an introductory key to the remainder of this book.
The last of the seven quotations (1:13) leads directly into the introductory verse (1:14) for the first of the five major warnings (2:1-4). And, contextually, it would not be sound exegesis at all for one to attempt to understand this warning apart from the Old Testament quotations that precede the warning; nor, in a larger context, would it be sound exegesis for one to attempt to understand the remaining four warnings and other related subject matter in the book apart from these introductory verses and the first warning.
For this reason, the remainder of this study will be taken up with two things:
1) Sonship, Heirship, Rulership
The first two quotations in Hebrews, chapter one center on Christ’s Sonship, with the preceding mention of heirship (vv. 2-4) forming the basis for these two introductory statements:
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? (v. 5; cf. Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14)
Christ is the “appointed Heir,” the Son who, by inheritance, has “obtained a more excellent name” than angels (vv. 2, 4). “Sonship” implies rulership, and, as God’s Son, Christ is the One destined to exercise the rights of primogeniture and rule the earth with “a rod of iron” (cf. Psalm 2:7, 9). Though angels are “sons of God” (because of their individual creation), God has not spoken after the fashion revealed in Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 relative to angels. He has spoken after this fashion relative to His Son, Jesus, alone (vv. 5ff).
The Messianic nature of these two quotations cannot be questioned, for both appear in Messianic settings in the Old Testament.
Verses on either side of Psalm 2:7 have to do with Christ during the Messianic Era. Verse six states,
Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.
And verses eight and nine state,
Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations [Gentiles] for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. (cf. Revelation 2:26, 27)
The quotation from 2 Samuel 7:14 was spoken in a dual sense. It was spoken in a near sense concerning David’s immediate successor, his son, Solomon, and in a far sense concerning David’s greater successor, his greater Son, Christ. And the Father-Son relationship relative to the kingdom and the throne are in view in both instances (vv. 12-14a, 16). The greater Son is the One to whom God will give “the sure mercies of David [lit., ‘the holy things of David’]” (Acts 13:34b; cf. v. 33).
The seven quotations from the Old Testament in the first chapter of Hebrews are thus:
a) Introduced with Messianic statements (vv. 2-4).
b) Begin with Messianic verses (v. 5).
c) Continue with Messianic verses (vv. 6-13).
d) Lead into that which can only be Messianic in its fulfillment (vv. 14ff).
2) Return of God’s Firstborn Son
The third quotation refers to that future time when “the firstborn [KJV: firstbegotten] will again be brought into the inhabited world (v. 6a), continuing the thought of Sonship and the rights of primogeniture from the previous verse:
But when He again brings the firstborn into the world [lit., “And when He shall again bring the firstborn into the inhabited world”], He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” (v. 6; cf. Deuteronomy 32:43 [LXX]; Psalm 97:7)
A distinction is here made between Jesus and angels insofar as Both being “Sons” but only One possessing the “rights of primogeniture” is concerned. The rights of the firstborn (Greek: prototokia) are reserved for firstborn (Greek: prototokos) sons. The two Greek words are closely related, referring to two inseparable things — position, and rights within that position. And no angel can come within the scope of either one. That is, no angel is a firstborn son, in line to inherit the rights of the firstborn.
Rather, at this time, the angels of God will worship the Son (v. 6b). Sons of God will worship God’s firstborn Son after He comes into possession of the rights of the firstborn; and since only God is to be worshipped (cf. Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9), the One whom angels will worship at this time must Himself be God. And this is a fact specifically stated in a later Old Testament quotation in Hebrews, chapter one where the Father says to the Son, “Your throne, O God . . . .” (v. 8).
3) “And of the Angels”
The fourth quotation continues the thought of angelic ministry, and contextually this angelic ministry must be looked upon as a ministry surrounding the Son during the Messianic Era:
And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” (v. 7; cf. Psalm 104:4)
Psalm104, from which this quotation is taken, reveals a number of things about the Creator and His creation (the earth, angels, and man). Thoughts in this Psalm move all the way from the creation of the earth in the beginning (v. 5) to the coming Messianic Era (vv. 31, 35). Angelic ministry, thus, within this Psalm, could refer to a ministry occurring in the past, the present, or the future.
In passages such as Luke 2:9, 13 (referring to angelic ministry surrounding Christ’s birth), such a ministry is past; in Hebrews 1:14 (referring to angelic ministry surrounding Christians in the world today), such a ministry is present; but in Hebrews 1:7 (referring to angelic ministry surrounding Christ in His kingdom), such a ministry is future.
4) “But to the Son”
The fifth quotation refers to the Lord with His co-heirs seated upon His throne, holding the scepter, during the coming day of His power:
But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions [KJV: fellows].” (vv. 8, 9; cf. Psalm 45:6, 7)
The duration of time in which the Son rules (the time during which He sits on the throne and holds the scepter) is said to be “forever and ever [throughout the endless ages, eternal in duration].”
Christ will sit on His own throne in the new Jerusalem above the earth during the Millennium and, with His “companions [co-heirs],” rule the earth for 1,000 years. But during the eternal ages beyond the Millennium, Christ will sit alongside His Father on “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 3), which will be in the new Jerusalem on the new earth. Universal rule will emanate from this throne, Christ’s “companions” will continue to rule with Him, and in this sense Christ’s rule with His saints can be said to last “forever and ever” (cf. Revelation 11:15; 22:5).
5) The Same, Yesterday, Today, and Forever
The sixth quotation refers to the eternity of Christ within both a historic and prophetic setting:
And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” (vv. 10-12; cf. Psalm 102:25-27)
These three verses appear near the end of Psalm102 and, in this Psalm, are addressed to God (as were the words in the previous quotation from Psalm 45:6, 7). However, the writer of Hebrews, being “moved by the Holy Spirit [the One who originally moved the Psalmist to pen these words],” applies these verses also to the Son.
There is no stronger language in the New Testament concerning the deity of Christ than the first chapter of Hebrews. It was the blood of God that was shed on Calvary (Acts 20:28), and God (“Your throne, O God . . . .”), in the person of His Son (or, as in Hebrews 1:2, “in Son [literal rendering]”), is the One who will rule the earth during the coming age.
He was present and co-equal with the Father in the beginning. “All things” were brought into existence through Him (John 1:1-3). “All things were created by [‘through’] Him, and for him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [i.e., He upholds ‘all things by the Word of His power’ (Hebrews 1:3)]” (Colossians 1:16, 17).
Hebrews 1:10-12, quoting Psalm 102:25-27 (which appears in a Messianic setting in the Psalms [cf. vv. 16, 21, 22] and is quoted in a Messianic setting in Hebrews), presents Christ as both The Creator at the time the heavens and earth were brought into existence and The Destroyer at the time the same heavens and earth will pass out of existence (cf. Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 65:17; John 1:3; 2 Peter 3:10-12). And though change occurs in the creation, the Creator remains unchanged, for He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
6) “Sit at My right hand, till . . . .”
The seventh quotation, as the first quotation, is preceded by a reference to angels once again:
But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (v. 13; cf. Psalm 110:1)
The writer of Hebrews terminates his seven quotations from the Old Testament at the same point that the apostle John terminates his seven overcomer’s promises in Revelation chapters two and three. Both the Father’s and the Son’s thrones are in view in both instances.
In Hebrews, the Son has been invited to sit alongside His Father, on His Father’s throne, until His enemies are made His footstool. Then He will sit on His own throne. In the book of Revelation, in the last of the overcomer’s promises, reference is also made to the Son being seated on the throne with His Father; and the promise is given to overcoming Christians that they will one day be allowed to sit with Him on His own throne (Revelation 3:21).
Thus, the introductory verses in Hebrews, presenting a complete, composite Messianic portrait of Christ, terminate with a view to Christ ascending the throne and holding the scepter, fulfilling these verses. And this logically leads into the same subject matter that the apostle John in Revelation chapters two and three deals with — others (companions, overcomers) ascending the throne and occupying positions as co-heirs with Christ in that coming day.
The five major warnings in the book of Hebrews and the seven overcomer’s promises in the book of Revelation, in this respect, have to do with the same thing. They are both Messianic in their outlook and are directed to the saved, not the unsaved. They both have to do, not with the salvation which we presently possess, but with the salvation of the soul. It is the overcomer (Revelation 2, 3) who will realize “so great a salvation [KJV: ‘so great salvation’]” (Hebrews 2:3) and be allowed to ascend the throne as a companion with God’s Son during the coming age (cf. Hebrews 1:8, 9, 14; 3:14; Revelation 3:21).
(Note also that the warning passages in Hebrews and the overcomer’s promises in Revelation are both preceded by the author’s portrait of Christ.
In the book of Revelation [1:13-16], the picture is that of Christ as Judge in the midst of the seven churches [a scene presenting the Householder and His servants at the judgment seat of Christ, occurring at the end of the present dispensation but preceding the Messianic Era].
And in the book of Hebrews [1:5-13], the picture is that of Christ as King, with the overcomers from the churches seated with Him on the throne [a scene presenting Christ and His co-heirs, His companions, holding the scepter together during the Messianic Era itself].)
“Angels” occupy a very prominent place in the opening two chapters of Hebrews. They are referred to eleven times throughout these chapters (1:4-7, 13; 2:2, 5, 7, 9, 16), though only two times throughout the remaining eleven chapters of the book (12:22; 13:2).
There is no similar section in the other twenty New Testament epistles where repeated references such as these are made to angels. In fact, the word “angel [Greek: aggelos]” only appears in all these other epistles the same number of times as there are other epistles — a total of twenty times. In nine of these twenty epistles the word doesn’t even appear; and in Galatians 4:14 and James 2:25, even though the Greek word aggelos is used, the reference is to men (translated “messengers” when referring to men in James 2:25, KJV).
The writer repeatedly calling attention to “angels” in the opening two chapters of Hebrews is, in one respect, somewhat like his repeated references to “Melchizedek” in chapters five through seven (5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 21). There are no references to Melchizedek elsewhere in the New Testament, and there are only two in all of the Old Testament (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4). Hebrews though is different, for the writer calls attention to Melchizedek nine times in the short space of three chapters.
The repeated reference to “angels” throughout the first two chapters (something not seen at all in any other New Testament epistle) and the repeated reference to “Melchizedek” in chapters five through seven (something not seen in any other book in all Scripture) are simply two interrelated peculiarities of the book of Hebrews that should cause one to stop and think. There’s a definite reason why the Spirit of God moved the writer to pen the epistle after this fashion; and this reason, contextually, is very easy to see, though often missed.
(A prominent use of aggelos [angel] is seen:
1) In the gospels [when the Messianic King was present and the kingdom of the heavens was being offered to Israel].
2) In the book of Acts [in the opening years of the present dispensation, following the departure of Israel’s King back into the heavens, during the reoffer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel].
3) In the book of Hebrews [which has to do with teachings surrounding the coming reign of Christ, with Christians having a part as “companions” with Christ in this reign].
4) In the book of Revelation [which has to do with the complete unveiling of the Son (in relation to all things appertaining thereunto), which includes the redemption of the inheritance (the earth), the bride being revealed and becoming the Lamb’s wife (the bride for whom the Spirit, throughout an entire previous dispensation lasting 2,000 years, will have searched and procured), the restoration of all things, and the millennial reign].
Then, as previously seen, another peculiarity to the book has to do with the mention of Melchizedek nine times. Melchizedek was a king-priest in Jerusalem [Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1, 2; cf. Psalm 76:2].
The two Old Testament references to Melchizedek are both Messianic. Both foreshadow activities surrounding Christ as the great King-Priest in Jerusalem during the coming age [both in the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem (cf. Genesis 14:19)].
And the references to Melchizedek in Hebrews 5-7 must be understood accordingly, as the references to angels in the first two chapters of the book must be understood in the light of that which is being dealt with in these chapters.)
Angels are of an entirely different creation than man and occupy one main role in Scripture. They are special, individual created beings who render service for and under God in numerous capacities. They serve God in various assigned positions as executors of His will and purpose.
God uses angels to do His bidding in all areas of His sovereign rule and control of the universe (Psalm 103:19, 20). He has angelic armies (2 Kings 6:17; Job 25:3; Revelation 12:7; 19:14; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7), angelic messengers (Daniel 10:5ff; Luke 2:9ff), angels who minister on behalf of others (Acts 12:7-16; Hebrews 1:14; Revelation 1:20), angels who occupy various positions of power and authority within God’s government of the universe (Job. 1:6; 2:1; cf. Isaiah 14:12, 13; Ezekiel 28:14), and angels who carry out His bidding in numerous other capacities (Genesis 19:13; Deuteronomy 33:2; cf. Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2).
Angels, as man, unlike God, had a beginning. There was a point in time when God created angels; and God’s actions since that time have been, in different capacities and numerous realms, connected with angels. Not only so, but angels minister under the Lord after such a fashion (within the scope of established, set laws, etc.) that their actions are looked upon as those of the Lord Himself (cf. Genesis 18:20-22; 19:13, 24, 25; Daniel 4:17, 25-32).
A major problem ensued in God’s government of the universe when one ruling angel moved outside the scope of God’s established laws (Isaiah 14:13, 14; Ezekiel 28:14). He sought to exalt his throne (the position that he occupied by divine decree) above that of “the stars of God” (above all other ruling angels [angels ruling other provinces in the universe, as Satan ruled the earth]). Satan sought to be as God in this respect and rule the entire universe rather than just the one province in the universe over which he had been placed.
This, of course, was the one we know today as Satan, the ruler over the province upon which we reside, the earth. And Satan didn’t attempt this God-dishonoring act alone. He led one-third of the angels under His command to go along with him in this attempted coup (cf. Revelation 12:4).
This brought about Satan’s disqualification to rule and the destruction of his kingdom (Genesis 1:2a; Ezekiel 28:16; cf. 1 Samuel 15:23; Isaiah 45:18). This was later followed by a restoration of the ruined domain and the creation of man to rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels (Genesis 1:2b-28). Man though, because of Satan’s deception of Eve, was himself disqualified through sin (Genesis 3:1-7). And this left Satan continuing to occupy the throne.
Man’s fall though, unlike Satan’s fall, was followed by not only God’s promise of a future redeemer but by God’s immediate redemptive act as well (Genesis 3:15, 21). But God’s redemptive act did not nullify that which had occurred. Man was still in no position to take the governmental reigns of the earth, for, though redeemed, he was still a fallen creature with an old sin nature.
Man holding the earth’s scepter must await the appearance (reappearance today) of the promised Redeemer from Genesis 3:15. He has appeared once “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” and to “those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:26-28). Redemption was provided for fallen man at Christ’s first appearance; and He is going to one day reappear, take the scepter, and position redeemed man on the throne with Him.
During the time between Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary and His actually taking control of the government — a period lasting approximately 2,000 years — God has set aside an entire dispensation, during which time the co-heirs who will ascend the throne with His Son are being called out. The coming kingdom of Christ will require numerous rulers, and it is during the present dispensation that these are being acquired.
And it is with this backdrop that the book of Hebrews begins and must be understood.
(Much of the Old Testament typology depicting the preceding is seen in the account of Saul and David in the books of 1, 2 Samuel.
Saul was anointed king over Israel; but Saul disqualified himself by refusing, as God had commanded, to destroy the Amalekites and all of their possessions [1 Samuel 15:1ff], though Saul continued to reign. And Saul would continue to reign until the one whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
Then note that which the type, thus far, foreshadows: Satan was anointed king over the earth; but Satan disqualified himself by seeking to extend his rule beyond his God-appointed position [Isaiah 14:13, 14; Ezekiel 28:14], though Satan continued to reign. And Satan would continue to reign until the One whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
In the type, shortly after God rejected Saul as Israel’s ruler, God had Samuel anoint David king over Israel [1 Samuel 16:10-13]. There were then two anointed kings in Israel. But David didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, he eventually found himself in a place out in the hills, separated from Saul and his kingdom. And, during this time, certain faithful men joined themselves to David and remained out in the hills with him.
The day came when David was ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful men ready to rule with him. Then, Saul was put down, his crown was taken and given to David and David and his faithful men moved in and took over the government.
In the antitype, after God had rejected Satan as the earth’s ruler, God anointed His Son King over the earth [Psalm 45:6, 7, 16; Hebrews 1:8, 9]. There were then, and there are today, two anointed Kings over the earth. But God’s Son, as David in the type, didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, as David, Christ finds Himself in a place of exile, separated from the kingdom. And, as in David’s case, certain faithful individuals join themselves to Christ during this time, remaining in the place of exile with Him.
But the day is near at hand when matters will continue exactly as seen in the type. Christ, in that day, as David in his day, will be ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful followers to rule with Him. Then, Satan, as Saul, will be put down, his crown will be taken and given to Christ, and Christ, with His faithful followers, will move in and take over the government.
A principle of biblical government — seen in the type and, of necessity, in the antitype as well — necessitates that an incumbent ruler, though disqualified to rule, continue holding the scepter until the one who is to replace him on the throne is not only present but ready [prepared] to ascend the throne.
This principle, seen in the type, will explain why God allows Satan to continue holding the scepter, though God’s Son [the One destined to take the scepter and replace Satan on the throne] has been present for the past 2,000 years.
The simple truth of the matter is that the Son, though present, is not yet ready to take the scepter and ascend the throne. The work of the Spirit, presently searching for a bride for God’s Son, has to be completed first. The Son cannot reign apart from possessing a wife to sit alongside Him on the throne [another established biblical principle relative to man fulfilling the purpose for his creation in the beginning; man can reign only as a complete being, requiring a husband-wife relationship to complete the man].
[For more information on this subject, refer to the author’s books, The Bride in Genesis, Chapter 1, and Search for the Bride (most of the book’s fifteen chapters deal with this subject).]
The bride for whom the Spirit presently searches, removed from the Son’s body in that coming day, will be presented back to Christ, completing the Son [Hebrews 2:10], allowing Him to reign.
And, as well, the bride, also seen in that day as a firstborn son [Christians being individual firstborn sons], will form the rulers necessary to govern as co-heirs with Christ in the kingdom.)
Inheriting with the Son
In Hebrews 1:6, 7, angelic activity surrounding God’s Son during the coming Messianic Era appears to be twofold:
1) Worship of the Son (v. 6).
2) Ministry on behalf of the Son (v. 7).
Angelic activity in Hebrews 1:14 though is different. It has to do with a present ministry “to minister for those who will inherit salvation [lit., ‘on behalf of the ones about to inherit salvation’].” And there can be no question concerning the identity of the ones to whom angels are presently ministering or exactly what is meant by these individuals inheriting salvation.
Continuing the thought from verse fourteen in the verses following (Hebrews 2:1ff), it can only be Christians who are in view — “Therefore we . . . .” Christians are the ones referred to in the previous quotation from Psalm 45:6, 7 (Hebrews 1:8, 9) as Christ’s “companions” in that coming day; and they are also the ones referred to in Hebrews 2:10 as the “many sons” whom Christ will bring to glory with Him.
Then, also continuing the thought of an inheritance in connection with salvation, the context leaves no room to question that which is in view. Christ is the “appointed Heir of all things” (1:2, 4), an inheritance that will be realized in the Messianic Era; and the seven Old Testament quotations leading into verse fourteen (1:5-13) all refer to that time when Christ, with His co-heirs, will come into possession of this inheritance. The inheritance in view in verse fourteen is for Christians, not the unsaved (cf. 1:8, 9; 2:1); and, viewing the first chapter as a whole, this inheritance can only be associated with the Son’s inheritance during the coming age.
This inheritance is spoken of in connection with “salvation” because that is exactly what is involved. Inheriting with the Son is the same as realizing the rights of primogeniture, which, in turn, is the same as realizing the “end [goal] of your faith -- the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9; cf. Hebrews 9:28; 10:37-39).
Salvation is spoken of in the Word of God in three tenses — past, present, and future: We have been saved (Ephesians 2:8, 9), we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and we are about to be saved (Hebrews 1:14). And when dealing with salvation in Scripture one must first ascertain to which of these three any given passage pertains (see the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, Chapter 1).
In Hebrews 1:14, both the text and context will show beyond any shadow of a doubt that this verse has nothing to do with the Christians’ presently possessed eternal salvation. The verses leading into this passage have to do with Christ coming into possession of His inheritance, along with His co-heirs. And a person cannot even be in a position to inherit with Christ, realize the rights of the firstborn, unless he has first been saved (experienced the past aspect of salvation, placing him in the family of God [a firstborn child via the birth from above], in line to inherit the rights of the firstborn). Romans 8:17 plainly states, “if children, then heirs.” One must be a child of the Owner before he can be in line to receive the inheritance.
Further, continuing the thought in Hebrews 2:1ff, we’re told exactly what is involved in the heirship from verse fourteen. Hebrews 2:3 refers to “so great a salvation,” which can only be the same salvation previously mentioned in verse fourteen. And then the writer, in verse five, plainly reveals the subject matter at hand:
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak [lit., “concerning which we are speaking”] in subjection to angels. (Hebrews 2:5)
That is, the world to come (which will not be ruled by angels, but by man) is what the writer had been dealing with in the immediately preceding verses. So great a salvation (2:3), inheriting salvation (1:14), and the Messianic quotations from the Old Testament (1:5-13) all have to do with the same thing. They all have to do with that time when the One who has been “appointed Heir of all things” (1:2, 4), along with His “companions” (v. 9), will ascend the throne and rule the earth for 1,000 years.
Angels presently ministering “for those who will inherit salvation” are conducting this ministry with a view to not only Christians entering into “so great a salvation” but with a view to a continued ministry of a different nature once their present ministry is complete, a ministry that will occur during the coming age.
During the Messianic Era, angels will worship Christ and apparently minister on his behalf (Hebrews 1:6, 7); and such a ministry (though not worship) will apparently extend to Christ’s “companions” as well, for they will be occupying positions on the throne as co-heirs with Him. In this respect, angels presently ministering on behalf of the ones about to inherit salvation will apparently one day minister, in a different capacity, for these same individuals after they have inherited salvation.
Throughout history God has used angels to carry out His bidding in all aspects of His sovereign rule and control of the universe. And there is no reason to believe, especially in the light of Hebrews 1:7, that affairs in the Son’s kingdom will be carried out in a manner that is any different. The scepter in that day will be held by man, not by angels (Hebrews 2:5); but angels will evidently occupy a prominent place in the kingdom as ministers for those who do hold the scepter.
Christ and His co-heirs will rule, and angels will worship and minister. Thus, in this manner, will affairs in the Son’s kingdom be carried out during the coming age.